Summary: Jim's latest repressed memory hurts the guide. The guide needs to comfort the sentinel.
Warning: Concerns a traumatic event, not graphic.
Rating PG-13 for situation and a few bad words.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and Paramount. All stories are written with the love of the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories are property of the author.
Definition from WordWeb:
overtaken: v., overcome, as with emotions or perceptual stimuli
Jim gritted his teeth until the pain in his jaws replaced the pain in his ears. It's just a cold. That's all. Damn these senses. Where was that dial when he needed it? Stakeouts were bad enough without having to deal with out of control senses. Where was Sandburg when he needed him? He finally decided to take something for the headache. It helped, but his ears were acting up and he could feel the beginnings of a fever.
When he started seeing his spirit animal skulking in the shadows and hearing his growl, he figured it was time to throw in the towel. He called Simon for his replacements to come in a little early. When he explained, Simon was more than ready to agree. He was worried enough to offer to come down to take his place himself if they couldn't come early. Jim was worried enough to let him, but Henri and Rafe were glad to do the favor.
Jim trudged wearily up the stairs to his bedroom. He had forced himself to have a toast and some hot tea to settle his stomach, and drank a bottle of water. Then a hot shower and some aspirin were the only things that had kept him up. He finally settled into his bed and was asleep in minutes.
Jim tossed and turned and his temperature rose as the evening progressed. The fever caused nightmares of a time Jim had done his best to forget. Blair would say relentlessly repressed, since he knew Jim so well.
Jungle surrounded Enqueri and his Chopec warriors. The pass they guarded led into Chopec land and they protected it with their lives. Enqueri told them what the drug dealers would do to them and their families if they were allowed to set up routes and production facilities here.
The warriors were the embodiment of stealth. They ran with the animals. They were brothers of the wind. Their spirits were one with the earth. What Jim didn't learn from the Army Rangers, he learned from them and Incacha, their Shaman.
This day started like any other. Patrols were set. Traps were checked. And Enqueri patrolled the perimeter. Yet, this day would be different.
Today there was no deep, carefully considered philosophical question; there was indeed a tree that fell in the jungle. And Enqueri's hearing was set to max.
He had no guide by his side, so the creaking snap and thunderous descent threw his hearing into overload . The pain in his ears overwhelmed his ability to control it. A deep zone. Endless. Depthless. Blankness 'was' his reality. For a time.
The waking was quick and as sharp as the knife point prodding his ribs. The drug dealers had captured him, that was the easy deduction. His warriors were not in evidence, and for that he was relieved. There would only be himself to free. That was Jim. First thought was for the others of his tribe. Second was survival and escape.
It was not an easy captivity. They knew he was anglo of course. They saw his fatigues and his military hardware. They wanted answers, and torture was so convenient and in their experience, effective. A small branch was pulled from the fire. Just the sight of its glowing tip made Enqueri sweat. His army training readied him for many things, but he was also the sentinel. All his senses were engaged in the fight for survival. Hearing and touch, sight and smell, and even taste as he could taste his own blood in his mouth. There was one last fierce struggle before they started at his feet. His screams echoed through the jungle.
Fortunately it was also a short captivity. Enqueri's warriors braved the camp for their watchman. The warriors did much damage to outlying guards with stealth and silent arrows before the drug dealers attention was drawn from the screaming man. They were allowed to die quickly for their cruelty.
Two a.m. That's what the clock in his dashboard said. Blair just let the next yawn sweep over him, feeling and hearing his jaw snap sharply. Maybe multiple choice questions weren't all that bad. He was a smart guy, he could make them tricky enough to know who knew the subject. He'd have to think about this some more when he was really awake.
He shook his head sharply, trying to wake himself up. He glanced again at the clock. He hoped the stakeout went okay for Henri and Rafe. Simon had called to tell him that Jim had called it an early night. He hoped the cold hadn't kept him up and miserable.
Forcing his eyes wide and turning his head toward the open window he shivered with the cold. He thought he must look like a cocker spaniel with his hair blowing around. Home. It's just around the corner. Parking the Volvo and crossing to the door, he took a moment to enjoy the cool, crisp air and to be pleased it wasn't raining.
Upstairs, he threw his keys in the basket, letting his backpack slide to the floor, then hung up his coat. Then tossing his backpack through his door and onto his bed he went to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water. Opening one and downing a good portion, he saw the aspirin bottle on the counter where Jim must have left it. That wasn't like Jim, he'd better check on him.
He grabbed the pills and two more bottles of water as he slid off his shoes. He didn't want to wake Jim if he was asleep. He slowly climbed the stairs. Luckily the moon was bright tonight.
Jim's soft moaning caused Blair to grow more concerned. He spoke softly, trying to get a response from his friend. Blair angled the light on the nightstand away from Jim and turned it on. No ... oh Jim. The soft moans were accompanied by small twitches and tiny gasps. The bed linen was soaked, and Jim's skin ran with sweat. The twitches were increasing in severity and soon his legs were thrashing.
Blair spoke softly but urgently to him, “Jim, come on big guy. Wake up for me. It's a dream Jim. You can wake up now. I'm here. You're safe. You're home. You're safe, Jim.” He placed his hand on Jim's forehead. “Jim, if you don't wake up, like, right now, I'm calling an ambulance. Man, Jim, you've got a high fever. Come on Jim, wake up!”
Jim was deep in the throes of his nightmare, his memory. He was back in the jungle. The tree crashed down. The pain beat at his head, his ears, from within. The fever burned through him. Hot. So hot. It muddled his mind. Nightmare faces surrounded him. Pain beat at his senses as heat consumed him. Burning.
Blair was well and truly worried by now. Jim always responded to his voice. He couldn't get Jim to drink any water so he grabbed one of Jim's t-shirts from his bureau. He soaked it with some of the water and tried to wipe Jim's face. He continued talking softly until Jim started thrashing even more wildly. Blair instinctively grabbed his shoulders, forcing him down, afraid that he was convulsing.
Jim fought his attackers. They were holding him down. His ears, oh the pain. He was burning. Stop them. He had to stop them. He struck out blindly in his delirium.
Blair gasped. He lay writhing on the floor beside Jim's bed. Panic filled him when his gasps brought little air into his laboring lungs. His damaged throat was numb at the moment with the force of Jim's strike. He was suffocating, he knew it. He would die if he couldn't summon help. He dragged himself to the stairs. Sliding feet first down to the floor he fought the encroaching blackness to find the phone.
His thoughts came fast and disjointed, <911? . . . can't speak! Simon. Lash ... message to Jim. 9 1 1.>
Joel handed Simon a cup of premium coffee. Imagine, a hospital with good coffee. Not that Simon noticed. “The paramedics got there in time, Simon. That's what you said yourself. Blair's going to be okay.”
“You know it's not just Blair. Jim almost died from a stupid ear infection and fever. And he almost killed Blair. Blair won't blame him, but Jim will blame himself.”
“I can't believe the doctor wouldn't put them in the same room,” Joel shook his head at the perceived absurdity.
“When he found out that Jim was the one that hurt Blair, he refused at first. He said Sandburg shouldn't have to wake up next to someone that had almost killed him. He thinks he'll be traumatized or something.”
“We'll see who'll be traumatized after Blair gets done with the doctor,” was Joel's attempted joke.
Simon had to grin at it. It was a tired grin, but genuine. He sobered quickly, “My God, Joel, if you had seen them when I got there. Blair barely breathing. Unconscious. And Jim upstairs, yelling some unintelligible stuff. It must have been in the Chopec language, from the tribe that Jim was stranded with in Peru. I'll tell you, I'm glad I called for an ambulance to meet me there. There was no one on the phone. Just that message: 911. I swear I'm getting a sixth sense where those two are concerned.”
“I'm just glad that you're on their wavelength,” sighed Joel.
That gave Simon pause.
Jim woke feeling like his head was stuffed with cotton. Where's Blair? He was never far away when Jim was in the hospital and there was no doubt that's where he was. Nothing else smelled like this. Everything seemed to be alright except his hearing and he felt a little weak. The stakeout he remembered. He had a cold coming on. He remembered making it home and to bed. What then? That old nightmare. Memory? It 'was' real. He remembered the smugglers. Oh God, he remembered being captured ... burning. Where's Sandburg? Where's Blair?
Where's a nurse when you want one? Well, the bell got the nurse. The nurse had gotten the doctor. Now all he was getting was the evil eye. Jim wondered what he did to deserve that? “Just tell me where my partner is.”
Speaking loudly, “Can you hear me Detective Ellison?”
“Of course I can hear you, although everything sounds like it's under water,” Jim spoke loudly himself.
Speaking even louder the doctor explained, “You've had a severe ear infection, and were delirious and combative. We have you on IV antibiotics and fluids. You'll be released tomorrow if your fever stays down.”
“How did I get here? Did my roommate bring me in?”
“Captain Banks called the ambulance, I believe. Your roommate is Blair Sandburg?”
That caught Jim's attention. How did this doctor know Blair's name if Simon called?
“Mr. Sandburg is down the hall in room 412. Please, Mr. Ellison, you have an IV. Please, you have to stay in bed!” the agitated doctor exclaimed.
“Tell me what happened. I don't remember. What happened to Blair?”
“I'm sorry, Mr. Ellison. I can see you're concerned. Please understand that what happened was no one's fault. I understand that it was an accident,” the doctor had been persuaded to be reasonable about the situation by a very stern Captain of Major Crimes.
mind was filled with all kinds of possible catastrophes, but he was
unprepared for the truth. His friend had tried to help him. He
could have killed him. He remembered the jungle, the torture, and
the killing blow to one of his tormentors. He could have killed
Blair. He had almost killed him! With his own hands. One blow.
That's all it took then. And now?
The doctor's concern grew. “Mr. Ellison, please, answer me. Do you hear me?”
“Please, doctor. Can I see him? I've got to see him,” whispered a stricken Jim.
Blair had needed to be intubated because of the swelling in his neck. Cold packs remained to help reduce that swelling. An IV kept him hydrated and sedated.
Jim paled when he saw his still and silent friend. Too silent. Jim started to breathe raggedly in panic. His hearing was still affected so he couldn't hear Blair's heartbeat. His eyes flicked to the monitor but then ignored it, locking instead on Blair's temple where he could see the pulse of blood in the vein. Visible proof to the sentinel that his friend lived. Grabbing Blair's hand in a frantic but gentle grip he settled in a chair for as long as he'd be allowed, watching and feeling that beat that, for now, he couldn't hear.
When the swelling in Blair's neck was finally down enough that they could extubate him and allow him to wake, Jim was hovering, as expected. When those baby blues opened, Blair's relief that his friend was feeling better was obvious. After the doctor and nurse had left Blair beckoned Jim down toward him, and placed his hand on his forehead. Jim batted it away, “Chief. I'm fine,” he said gruffly.
“good,” Blair whispered. “what's wrong then.” As if he didn't know. Grim Jim, in stoic-Ellison mode, just screamed guilt trip.
Jim abruptly departed from Blair's bedside to stare fixedly out the window, frustrating Blair. “jim. i know you can hear me, man. come on, big guy, i know it wasn't your fault.”
Whipping around, Jim ground out, “Then whose Sandburg? I almost killed you. You 'can't' forgive that, Sandburg. Not even you. 'I' did this. 'I' hurt you.”
Blair looked at his friend, at the anguish on his face, “come on jim. you can't think i'd believe you'd do this on purpose. as if!” Blair thought hard for a moment and a discerning look crossed his face. His face took on a neutral expression and he watched his friend carefully. He knew the answer as he asked, “why?” Blair could see Jim's surprise and disbelief.
“What?” was Jim's shocked reply.
“why did you hurt me?” Blair asked, knowing full well that there was no reason. No intention. Only unfounded guilt.
“Why?!” choked out Jim.
“i know you jim. you were delirious. there was no intent to harm me. you're my friend ... ”
Blair held out his arms to his friend. An invitation. An offering of friendship. Of forgiveness, since he found it so hard to forgive himself.
His own sob caught Jim unaware. It was gut wrenching. Torn, with force, from a man to whom 'control' was his watchword. Jim's tears already wet his face as he sat down awkwardly on the side of the bed. He folded in on himself when he could no longer hold himself stiff and silent, still holding himself apart, denying the one touch that could comfort him. That is, until Blair gathered him into his embrace. Blair rocked him as he would a child, using gentle strokes to remind Jim that he was safe, and that Blair was alive. When Jim slowly settled into tight, ragged breaths, Blair gently commanded, “tell me.”
Jim gave a shudder and sigh, as with the release of a great weight. Then he began, “I remember ... ”