Wake Up Call
started 5/06 !!
Summary: Jim is dismayed. Blair thinks it's ridiculous. Simon has an idea. This really
Warnings, Ratings: FRST
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly
Productions, UPN, Paramount and the SciFi Channel. No money is being made. No copyright
infringement is intended. This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.
Blair struggled awake at the last minute once again. Grading papers had kept him up much later than he usually set his 'go to bed' alarm clock. Jim was sleeping in after their stakeout last night. It had left Blair with barely enough time to finish his own work and catch a couple hours of sleep, but that couldn't delay him this morning. He had a lecture to give and one to sit through then office hours and back to the station, probably to end the day with another stakeout.
He left as quietly as he could, thinking yearningly about that cup of coffee he'd grab in the faculty lounge before class. He skipped down the stairs at full flight and exited into the light morning mist, pulling his collar up as he jogged to his car.
Jim moaned softly and with a bit of dismay as the phone rang. “If that's Simon ...,” he muttered. “Ellison.”
“Detective James Ellison?”
Jim rubbed his hand over his face, trying to force himself awake. “Yes. This is Detective Ellison.”
“This is Nurse Talbot at Cascade General.”
Jim sat up in alarm, and did a quick sensory scan to try to locate his partner, to no avail. “Is this about Blair Sandburg?”
“Why yes! He was just brought in to the ER. He's presently unconscious and since you have his Medical Power of Attorney, we'd like your verbal permission to treat him.”
“Yes, yes! Of course! What can you tell me about his condition?”
“He is being evaluated at the moment. As I said he's unconscious and there are visible bruises. The doctor can give you more information after the exam. I believe he'll order
x-rays and bloodwork as standard precautions. Can we expect your arrival soon, or will you be at this number for an update?”
“I'll be right there. You have my cell number on record?”
“I'll leave here in five. Call me if there's a change!”
A doctor had come to the door of the waiting room, and such was Jim's agitation that he hadn't noticed. “Ahem. Could you gentlemen be the police officers waiting for word on Mr. Sandburg?”
Jim spun in place as Simon rose, saying, “Yes, I'm Captain Simon Banks and this is Detective Jim Ellison. What can you tell us about Sandburg?”
“I'm Doctor Dwyer. I was assigned to Mr. Sandburg's case when he arrived. He has only regained consciousness for a few moments. Can you tell me anything about his case, and the events that preceded his admittance? The paramedics reported that he'd been found on the steps of a Rainier campus building, Hargrove Hall. Can you tell me how long he was held hostage? It could make a big difference in his treatment, and a counselor will be made available immediately, of course.”
“Hostage!” said Jim in confusion. “Sandburg's my roommate. He left for class this morning around seven. I called Rainier University and talked to a friend of his in the Anthropology department right after I arrived here. He said he witnessed Blair's accident, that he fell on the steps. He said Blair was late for class so he was in a hurry. Where did you get the idea that he'd been held hostage?”
The young doctor's face flushed slightly, “Oh! I assumed ... he has an extremely long and interesting list of entries in his hospital records.” Dr. Dwyer looked disconcerted, but still couldn't seem to reconcile the truth as Jim knew it, with his own assumptions. “You're sure?” He flinched at Jim's glare, but managed to pull himself together and continued, “Well, since that wasn't the case it seems that the diagnosis and prognosis
will be much more ... ordinary, for Mr. Sandburg. The symptoms he exhibited during his exam indicated sleep deprivation, malnourishment and dehydration, and he has some vivid
contusions, both old and new,” he went on hurriedly, “and of course, since he fell, that would explain some of those. The bump he has on his head is new and probably came from the fall, but luckily he doesn't have a concussion. The fact that he was very confused during the few moments that he was awake is troubling.” He glanced through more papers puzzledly, “Hmm, his readings are abnormal, so his confusion could definitely be the result of his dehydration, or his extremely low blood sugar levels." Glancing up again, he said, "I think we should keep him overnight at least, to make sure his confusion abates with treatment.”
Jim looked as angry as Simon had ever seen him as he spoke to the doctor, “I think you should be more careful with your assumptions, 'Doctor'. Blair Sandburg is a fine young man, and he doesn't need wild stories circulating about him.”
The doctor really did look contrite as he apologized, “I really am sorry that my conclusion was incorrect, Detective Ellison.” He glanced down at his notes yet again. He spoke again, distractedly, as if to himself, “His electrolytes really are a mess. Ah, that should have been a warning to me, because those readings are nearly always in the abnormal range for him. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions, but I'll have to make a
note to check that out.” He looked up and saw Jim and Simon watching and added hastily, “Now that I look more closely at his previous visits I see that there are several notes from other doctors that have treated him. It seems that they all cautioned him about being careless about his health. They made note of the erratic readings, you see.” Dr. Dwyer looked at Jim, and he continued to shuffle the papers nervously, “I apologize for
assuming that he'd been held against his will. I was honestly concerned that he receive the proper care after what I thought had been serious mistreatment.”
Simon and Jim were ... speechless.
Simon sat leaning forward with his elbows on his knees, quietly considering what to say to calm his friend. The hospital bustle had long since become background noise and Jim's pacing had settled into military precision. Simon slowly sat up, willing to make another attempt but Jim abruptly stopped.
“Don't say it Simon,” sighed Jim angrily. “I need to pace or else I'll ....”
“Don't you say it Jim,” said Simon, as he grinned wryly. “I know you're worried. I know you're feeling guilty, but it's not your fault. He's a grown man. He knows 'how' to take care of himself, but sometimes he's just not as careful as he should be. He preaches a good line about healthy eating, but it somehow escapes him that it's something he needs to pay attention to for his own personal welfare. I swear we're going to have to do an
Intervention for that kid.”
Jim stared at Simon for a moment. He couldn't help the tiny grin that showed for a moment, “An Intervention? Do you think that would work? I've tried to keep an eye of him, but he's so 'independent' that he just brushes my concerns off. He keeps feeding me lines about eating healthy and then skips meals for three days and lives on coffee, tea, and half an apple while pulling all-nighters.” He started pacing again in frustration.
“I don't know what else to do. Some Blessed Protector I am,” he ended with a low mutter.
“Jim it isn't your fault.”
“Then why do I feel so guilty. He runs himself ragged doing his own job, his own studies, and then he's my guide. He's always there when I need him, and to be honest, I don't know how he keeps up ... or what I'd do if he couldn't. How selfish is that? Isn't that reason enough to feel guilty?”
<><><>Six days later<><><>
Blair had arrived home well after the supper hour, but found to his surprise, that the loft was full of their friends. He threw his keys and backpack in their usual places.
“Hey, what's going on? You had a party and didn't invite me?” he asked jokingly, then, “Mom! You didn't tell me you were coming to town.” He went to her and gathered her in a
“Oh, Blair. Jim got in touch with Rain, and she got a message to me.” She looked around solemnly then added, “They think this is a good idea, Blair. I hope they're worried for nothing.”
“Worried? About what?”
Jim said, “Let's all get comfortable. There's something we need to talk to you about.” After everyone settled down, with Blair looking perplexed, Jim started, “Chief, there are times when each of us has been worried about you. I won't say who came up with this idea, but I thought this might be the only way that you'd listen, and the way things have been going it's 'got' to work. Please don't prove me wrong.” Jim looked pleadingly at Blair, then around the circle of friends and family.
Henri leaned forward, elbows on knees, and spoke, “What Jim seems to have a hard time saying tonight, Hairboy, is that this is an ... Intervention.”
Blair snorted his disbelief as he grinned widely. “Come on! You can't be serious!” Blair looked around the circle at the solemn faces. “What's this 'intervention' for? You all know me well enough to know that I'm not on drugs. I don't gamble. Well, except for poker night! I don't spend beyond my means. Hey, Jim. This isn't some lame joke about back rent, is it?” and he chuckled, hoping for some sane response from the others.
Jim finally enlightened him about the reason. He said gently, “We're doing this because we're worried that you're not taking care of yourself. You're neglecting your health. It's gotten to the point that it's dangerous. You're my friend, Blair. You're six years younger than me. I don't want to worry that I'll outlive you!” pleaded Jim.
Blair was shocked, but not speechless, “Hey, I - I'm the one that's always nagging you guys. I know how to take care of myself. I've been doing it for a long time.”
Henri interrupted, “You 'know' ... but you don't do! You talk a good line, but you don't live what you preach, Hairboy. And we're all worried about you.”
“You think I don't eat right and maybe not get enough sleep, right?” Now Blair was getting angry. “I do the best I can. Come on, Jim,” he added pleadingly, “You know I eat healthy, and I get as much sleep as I can. I 'make do' just like everyone else. You must understand that I do what I have to do. I don't know what else you expect from me.”
Jim paled and whispered, “Then it 'is' my fault.”
Blair looked stunned, “No! Of course not ... I didn't mean ...”
Simon said gently, “Isn't that what you 'did' say, Blair. We all know how you've immersed yourself in participating in Major Crimes. Keeping up with your own work is one thing,
but keeping up with Jim's, too, is too much. If it's not your fault then that burden must therefore fall on Jim ... and that isn't fair.”
“Please, Blair,” pleaded Naomi. “They tried to explain how they came to this decision. I know I haven't been around as much as I should be, but I can only hope they're wrong. What I do know is that they care about you. At least listen to them.” She looked at each of the participants before turning back to her son, “You're a very lucky young man, Blair, to have friends that would speak out this way.”
Blair only seemed to grow more agitated, “If this is an Intervention, then you must expect me to sign some sort of contract. Is that where you're heading? What, if I don't do what
you say, then you won't be my friends any more? Is that what you're saying?”
Jim answered for them all, “We'll always be your friends, Blair. But don't ask us to just stand back and watch as you self-destruct. We ... love you. We want you to be around a
long time. If you leave us ... it'll be your doing, not ours. ”
It was a long moment before Blair could find words, “I can't believe this. You're my friends. How could you do this? It's not like I don't choose good food, and eat and sleep as regularly as I can. Jim, you know what my schedule is like. It's hectic but it's my life and I get to choose what I do with it.”
“That's right, Chief. You get to choose ...” Jim sighed deeply and said, “We're willing to listen to your input on the ... contract. Will you sit down with us and work out a plan you will be willing to follow, and we'll be happy with?”
“Or else, what?” Blair answered belligerently.
Simon took a deep breath before he spoke firmly, “Or else I pull your observer pass.”
Blair looked to Jim and back to Simon in horror, “B - but what about ... I mean, I'm Jim's partner ... I mean observer ... whatever. I back him up.”
Simon answered flatly, “You're not a cop, Blair.”
“Jim?” Blair asked plaintively, “Say something, man.”
“Hey, Sandy?” asked Megan. “I have a video we've put together during the past week. I'm sorry that we were spying on you, Sandy, but I hope you'll see what we see every day, and why we're so worried.”
Blair was almost glad of an excuse to have a few moments to gather his thoughts and get his emotions under control but he still spoke defensively, “A video of what? Sandburg's 'Less than Greatest Moments'?”
Megan bit her lip, but nodded and said quietly, “Something like that.”
"Well, I wouldn't want anyone to miss the entertainment. Go ahead. Play it.” Blair answered sarcastically, but sat back with his arms crossed tightly over his chest.
Blair watched the video: candid shots of an exhausted looking observer as he sat slumped in Jim's truck; a sleeping Blair with his face on his books until Jim nudged him awake and he sat up with creases across his cheek; Blair, flushed and fumbling through his notes just the day before yesterday, trying to find his place in his lecture; Blair, asleep over an uneaten supper; Blair asleep in his car in a parking space on Prospect; and then, last
but not least, the Doctor from his last stay in the hospital, seeming embarrassed as he explained his erroneous assumptions about Blair's 'diagnosis'.
Blair didn't know what to say, but the video wasn't over. A last segment started: Megan saying she'd tried to get him to dinner on several different nights because he'd been losing weight; Henri saying he'd talked to Jim about him, wondering if there was something wrong between them; Rafe wondering if there was something at the University that was bothering him so much that maybe he was depressed; Joel looking saddened as he explained that he had brought treats to the office many times in the past weeks, but Blair had begged off as he followed Jim on a case, or focused on paperwork; Simon explaining that he'd come to the conclusion that 'knowing' how to do the right thing, wasn't the same as 'doing' the right thing, because Blair was wasting away before their eyes.
Jim came on last, “Chief, I know your work keeps you busy, but enough is enough. That last visit to the hospital was our 'wake up call'. Please, take this to heart, and do the right thing. Take care of yourself. I don't want to get another call about you being in the hospital, or worse. That one was more than enough.”
The room was silent for several minutes. No one seemed to want to break it, because then came the confrontation that they all feared might break a number of friendships. Megan finally used the remote to turn off the television set, ending the static that was the only sound in the room.
Jim had watched Blair throughout the playing of the video. “Chief?”
“You'd really agree if Simon pulled my pass?”
“I don't want to, but I will.”
Blair looked to Jim, confusion and fear warring in his features. “But why? I mean, I know I still live here in your home. Do you want me to leave?”
“No,” Jim said forcefully. “This is your home, too. That's not the problem.”
“Is my nagging you ...,”
“No, no,” Jim muttered. “How much weight have you lost in the last month, alone?”
Blair shrugged half-heartedly but didn't answer.
“Eight pounds. In a month!”
Naomi's gasp drew Blair's attention.
“Mom, it's only a couple of pounds.”
Jim rebutted, “It's eight pounds. I bet I could count your ribs through your t-shirt.
And if it 'was' a couple of pounds, that would still be too much because that's just in the last month.”
Blair looked exasperated but didn't deny it again.
“Can't you even admit it, Blair?” and Jim looked for some sign that he at least recognized there 'might' be a problem.
“M - maybe you're right. It's been a tough month, okay? I probably haven't been doing the best I could. I'll do better, now that's it's been brought to my attention. Is that what you want to hear?” he said petulantly.
Jim looked around the circle of friends and knew that there was no choice. “No, Blair. Because we've heard it all before.”
Blair looked surprised, and still defensive, but Jim had more to say.
“Blair, we're prepared to enter into a contract with you. If you'd like some input into it, that would be great. But we have the items already listed that we would insist upon.”
Blair bit his lip as he looked around the room. He swallowed with difficulty and tried to speak. It came out choked and broken, “This is ridiculous. Don't you see that? You don't have to do this.”
“Chief, you remember Dr. Dwyer from the ER. He examined you, then he came out to talk to us, Simon and me, about 'your case'.”
Blair looked even more confused, “I saw him on the video. That was totally ridiculous. I just fell down the steps at Hargrove Hall. You can't pay any attention to those crazy assumptions he made. You saw him. Even he was embarrassed by them.”
Jim continued, “We know that, but he thought you'd been held hostage by someone. That they'd hurt you, starved you. That's really why we're here. We finally saw the seriousness of the situation.”
“You know it was just an accident.”
“The fall was an accident, but it may have been prevented if not for the starvation, the dehydration, and the sleep deprivation. Do you even remember the first time you woke up? Dr. Dwyer was quite concerned because you were incoherent, and he said that it wasn't from a concussion. He may have made the wrong assumption, that you had been kidnapped, but, Blair, you fit the profile of someone badly abused. Don't you understand? This was just the last straw, Chief. We couldn't stand by any longer and watch without ... intervening.”
“Oh, Blair,” whispered Naomi as she wiped the tears away.
They all waited, hoping that Blair would see, would understand, but most of all, would agree.
“Please don't tell me that you think I'd let that happen to myself on purpose?”
Rafe answered, “We have to wonder, Blair. Prove us wrong. Would you tell us if there was something else bothering you? We're your friends. If we can help, we will.”
Blair sagged in his seat, “There's nothing. Really. I'm just ... tired. I - I guess I've just let that be an excuse. I just ran on my reserves and figured I'd catch up sometime.”
“Your reserves won't last forever, Chief. Something will give. And you know that will be at the worst possible time ... what with our luck.”
“Our,” Jim emphasized, then could only watch as Blair tried to make sense of all this.
Blair stared at Jim. His look of stubborn resistence was slowly fading as, hopefully, he came to accept that he really had a problem. He looked around his circle of friends one more time, then spoke resignedly, “Maybe I'd better see this contract.”
Jim smiled in relief, so did the others. But Blair just looked tired and defeated and Jim's smile slowly faded. He didn't want this to be more pressure for Blair.
“Read the contract, Chief.”
// I, Blair Sandburg, swear to:
1. ... set up an appointment schedule with my doctor, with progress reports to be sent to the person who has my medical power of attorney, James Ellison.
2. ... keep a food journal, with no obfuscations.
3. ... whenever possible, have meals morning and evening with Jim. I will sit at the table and eat normal portions, no exceptions.
4. ... take a bag lunch that I will eat between 11:00 am and 1:30 pm. I will call Jim's cell phone after I've eaten, telling him what I have eaten or Jim will visit at 2:00 pm. If Jim is unable to fulfill his part, he will call an alternate from my friends here this
“Well, Chief. Does any of that sound totally unreasonable?” Jim asked softly.
Blair shook his head slowly and reached for the pen lying beside the contract and signed, to everyone's relief.
Naomi picked up a book from the coffee table. “Blair, Jim bought this journal for you to use. I know you keep one for your research, and one for yourself. Please keep this one for us.”
Blair couldn't speak so he just nodded. He stood as Naomi came to hand him the journal and to give him a hug. He received hugs from everyone present, which caused some minor
embarrassment that was overlooked by everyone. All too soon, Blair and Jim were left alone.
After everyone had left, Jim began work on a very late dinner. Blair joined him hesitantly in their small kitchen. It would be the first meal under the new 'contract'. It had been a while since their schedules had allowed them to make a meal together. It had always been an activity that had been a friendly interaction, but tonight Blair was self-conscious. He obviously expected to have everything food-related be scrutinized, and he was well aware how extensive a sentinel's scrutiny could be.
Jim sighed as he realized they needed to have a serious, but friendly, talk just between the two of them. If he didn't do it soon, then this could blow up and make things worse than before.
“Chief, when all this started, Simon and I had a long talk. I told him I'd been worried about you for a long time. I told him that I'd tried being big brother, drill sergeant, bad cop 'and' good cop, but you didn't seem to take any of my concerns seriously. Well, I couldn't let that go on. I'm your friend and I care about you. You put my needs first too much when your first responsibility should be to yourself, not to me. I need my guide but I need you in good health so you'll be at my side and be able to keep up. I also need my friend, and I don't want to attend his funeral. I mean it, Blair. That probably sounds like selfishness on my part, but this is more about friendship, and I want ours to last a very long time.”
Blair said, “We 'are' friends, Jim. I know you mean well, but I'm still not convinced that everything you did here today is necessary. Man, I'm not a kid! I know you treat me that way sometimes and I've tried to overlook it, but now ... I can't. This crossed a line, man!”
“The only line I crossed was to finally confront this head on. You've nagged me on nearly a daily basis. You've 'nagged' every one of our friends. I've even heard you with friends at Rainier, so don't even think about denying it.”
“But Jim ...”
“Listen to me, and listen good, Chief. We didn't do the Intervention to 'nag' you. We did it because we're worried sick about you. When I got the call about your fall, and then Dr. Dwyer was going on and on about your 'case', about you being a victim ... a victim! What does it take to scare you, Blair? Because I was scared, and so were our friends. When Simon and I got together with them to talk about this, they weren't shy
about giving their own observations and their own fears for you. You saw the tape. They just didn't know how to make you listen and really hear what they were saying.”
“They weren't just ... you know ... thinking it was a good gag to play on Sandburg?”
Jim sighed in frustration, “Sandburg ... Chief, we'd really ... really ... like you to be around for a long time. Does that sound like a gag to you?”
“But Jim, I do the best I can.”
Jim leaned back on the counter and with a heavy heart said, “Do I have to cut you loose, Chief? End the partnership?”
Startled, Blair shook his head, “No, that's not what I want.”
“I'll do it if I have to, Blair. You mean that much to me.”
Blair looked shocked, and pleased at the same time. “You'd really do that, wouldn't you? All I meant was that I just thought it was the best I could do. But I guess I fell short on that, too.”
“Too much to do, too little time. I had to have priorities, Jim. And some things had to fall by the wayside.”
“Prioritizing is fine. Being by my side is where I want you to be, but not at the cost of your health.”
“Not at the cost of your life,” muttered Blair dejectedly but firmly, wanting Jim to hear him.
“If you don't want to fail me, then stay healthy and stay at my side, Blair. Would it put too much pressure on you to know that I depend on you? That I need you there, with me?”
Blair looked dismayed but said nothing.
“I almost lost you, Chief, to a simple 'slip and fall'. I hope it turns into your wake up call. Please, Blair. Please heed it for both our sakes.”
Blair looked sheepishly at Jim, “A brown bag lunch? I haven't done that since grade school.”
“I'll supply the brown bags,” Jim said hopefully.
“Hmm. I haven't had a peanut butter and sprout sandwich for years.”
Jim wrinkled his nose, “You get to make the sandwich, I'll do the fruit ....”
The circle of friends had agreed to meet in a month to 'grade' Blair's adherence to the contract.
Simon said, “Well, Sandburg, I've been to lunch with you more times this month than I ever have, when Jim couldn't be there to take your call, or to 'remind' you about lunch. All you have to do is eat and then call Jim, you know.”
“Sorry, Simon,” said Blair sheepishly. “But you have to admit it hasn't happened in the last ten days. I'm getting better.”
Simon smiled, “I'll admit that much. But don't make me run out there to Rainier too often.”
“Yeah, you're even more 'cop' than Jim. It's not all bad, man. The students see me with you, and they give me no flak at all!”
“They give you flak?” asked Jim.
“Not now, Jim.”
Megan asked, “How's the journal going?”
Jim answered, “I haven't caught him in any obfuscations ... that I know of. But, Sandburg, do you have to be so wordy? You don't have to write an essay about every meal. You even include a food pyramid filled out with percentages and calories, and what are those illustrations and graphs for?”
Blair blushed, “Just being thorough. I did research. You know me! It got really interesting how certain foods interact, how they affect your metabolism, how food isn't as nutritious as it used to be because the soil is being depleted, how chemicals get into the food chain, and antibiotics are getting into everything, even the water supply from those antibiotic hand cleansers, and are affecting bacteria ...”
Blair grinned, “Well, you know how one thing leads to another. Science nerd. Remember?”
Jim bopped him on the back of his head.
It was a crazy morning once again.
“Sandburg, where's your lunch?”
“We're out of brown bags.”
“Where's your lunch?”
Blair stopped and grabbed up his backpack, “I didn't have time to make lunch, so I grabbed my emergency lunch. See: apple, two granola bars, bottle of juice, cheese and crackers.”
“Yeah. I keep a stash in my office, too.” Blair grinned, “I even set my alarm, so I won't forget to eat. Don't worry. I got the message.” Blair grinned and ducked quickly out of reach, then added impudently, “After all, all you had to do was ask.”