Title: How Close Is Too Close?
Rating: G - yep, I can do G. It hurts, but I can do it.
Category: PWP, but angsty
Date: November 26, 2000
Other website: www.skeeter63.org/k9kennel
Disclaimer: I threw my medication out, so once again - THEY'RE MINE. But they give me nothing but joy - no moola.
Warning: beware of stupid rookie cops?
Summary: Blair discovers something about Jim - then wonders how he'll survive.
Note: This was an obsenad on senad. Now it's a short piece. :))
How Close Is Too Close?
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
Only possible word. Stupid. The whole fucking incident. Stupid.
I shift in the small chair by the bed and tighten my grip on the pale, lax hand.
Stupid. Stupid bad guys, stupid rookie cops, stupid bullets. Guide.
Scratch that. Never stupid, not Jim. Never. Pretend I didn't say that.
Never said it.
God damn rookie. If he'd just let it go. But nooo, not him. He had to come after me. Had to try and force me to return to the other side of his STUPID FUCKING BARRICADE.
Shouldn't yell. Not even in the privacy of my own mind. The man is a Sentinel. Who really knows what the hell he can hear?
Where was I? Oh, yeah - STUPID ROOKIE COPS.
How did this fucking happen? Oh, yeah, a routine call. Routine. Now there's a word for you. Routine. Like anything in a cop's life is routine?
Webster's defines routine as a *customary or regular course of
procedure* or a*regular, habitual or unimaginative procedure* and
finally as like or following routine, dull or uninteresting.
Want some synonyms?
Typical. Regular. Normal. Predictable. Habitual. Boring.
I'm full of stuff like this.
BUT NOTHING in a cop's world is typical. Regular. NORMAL. I know this. We all know this. So why in the hell do they continue to use that fucking word?
"Just a routine call."
Jim said those very words - how long ago now?
"Just a routine call, Chief," Jim says, "let's just swing by, see if they need our help."
Big mistake. Huge mistake. Gigantic mistake.
And damn, the right thing to do.
So we swing by, park behind hastily erected barriers and Jim says, "You stay put, be right back. Looks like they have everything under control. I'll just check-in."
Peachy keen. Everything under control. Sure.
So I sit. There. In the truck. Getting worried as the minutes tick by and my great and wonderful partner hasn't returned. It's quiet, no shooting, but still - I'm worried. His senses have been doing weird things lately, which tells this guide that Jim's supressing again. From where I sit, I can't see him so I keep worrying and finally - yeah, I get out of the truck.
Damn, stupid rookie. Hell, I'm not even a cop and I've got more police smarts in my little finger than that asshole has in his entire body.
Of course, I'm the one who got out of the truck.
I walk over to the barricade, start to pass while flashing my observer badge and the idiot in the uniform stops me.
"You can't cross the barrier."
"I'm an observer, with Major Crime. Ellison's partner."
Like that's going to mean anything to the neanderthal who takes one look at my hair and the two loops adorning my ear and makes up his rookie-ass mind.
"I don't care if you're the Mayor's fuckbuddy, you ain't getting past me."
This from a rookie? Gee, I thought you had to be on the force for years and eat one trillion glazed donuts to come up with an insult that good. Just shows to go you.
I shrug, he looks away a minute, I scoot by him.
God, I'm good.
Good and stupid.
As I approach the cordoned-off area, I drop down into the obligatory bullets can't find you if you stoop down like this stance and spot Jim, on one knee, behind a table loaded with sale items in front of George's Junk Shop. He's drawn his gun and has it trained on the window of a store a few shops away, as do all the cops I can now see. Simon is there, behind the door of his Crown Victoria, Joel Taggert next to him.
Jim looks fine, the police look fine, no one looks worried, except me, and the baddies are definitely outnumbered. It looks to be over and I catch a few words here and there, as I close in on Simon, that let me know the baddies are ready to come out, hands in the air. Good, I'm hungry.
But then the rookie comes swaggering towards me, voice raised insultingly while he commands loudly that I return to the other side of the barrier.
I hear glass shatter, glance back, see the gun pop out of the broken window, everyone drops even lower, except, you guessed it, the rookie. He's still yelling.
Two things happen simultaneously; one, I realize the rookie is about to eat a handful of bullets and that I'm the only one within reach of the jackass and two, Jim realizes the exact same thing, at the exact same moment.
While I launch myself at the rookie, bringing him down as bullets smash into the ground around us, Jim stands up, yells something and starts firing.
They returned fire. Duh.
Minutes later, it's over.
Me and the rookie? I have a face full of gravel and the rookie isn't even scratched.
Well, here I am, sitting by his hospital bed in ICU.
I've been sitting in this chair for over 40 hours, not counting runs to the bathroom. Everywhere he goes, I go. The doctors can't make a move without me, Jim goes nowhere without me, they don't give him anything without me. They learn fast. I yell loud.
Simon is up to speed on Jim's condition and was here many hours ago but I missed him. I was with Jim while they put him through an MRI. He was unconscious, but I was there - in case.
Others have come and gone, asking, checking, but I haven't seen any of them, not from ICU.
Jim's dad and brother haven't arrived yet. Don't even know if they've been reached. They're on Safari. Good for them.
So I sit. And so far, Jim doesn't die.
He's - improving, steadily. The doc says they may move him to a regular room later today. Best news all week.
So much blood. There was so much blood.
"Hey, man. You're awake."
"appears so. you?"
"Been awake for hours." I smile. I know what he's asking so before he can flip me the bird, I answer, "I'm fine, Jim. Everyone is fine and now you're fine."
"you look like shit, sandburg."
"So do you. We're partners in all things, right?"
"don't think so, chief. i'm the one hooked up to twenty-seven hoses, tubes and wires."
I make a big show of counting for him and grin, "Nah, only seven."
"ah, thank god. for a minute there, i thought i might actually be hurt."
"Flesh wound. Just a pesky flesh wound."
He nods, eyes already drooping. The doctor comes in, beaming from ear to ear.
"Awake I see?"
Jim's eyes pop back open and he and I stare at each other and while he tries to laugh, I do. A big, hearty, *he's alive and going to stay that way* laugh.
They're moving him now. He's awake again and feeling no pain, thanks to some work the two of us did on his senses.
The doc pulls me aside and with a grim look of don't fuck with me, says, "Mr. Sandburg, you need to go home. NOW. Shower, change, eat, and sleep. You can come back when you've done all of the above. He's fine, going to be fine. We understand his special needs as you've outlined them and you can entrust him to my care for a few hours, understood?"
He must see something in my eyes, because he adds frostily, "You stink, Mr. Sandburg. Your clothes are bloody so do us all a favor and GO - HOME."
How can I argue with that?
I wait until Jim is settled and back in slumberland and since the doc assures me Jim will be out for several hours, I take my bloody, stinky self home.
I unlock the door to the loft and step inside. For several minutes, I just stand there, keys dangling from my fingers.
Jim Ellison's home.
I put the keys carefully into the basket, remove my jacket, fold it into a neat package and throw it away. It's covered in Jim's blood.
I strip out of my shirt and fold it neatly too. Then add it to the trash bag with the jacket. The jeans follow as do the blood spattered tennis shoes.
I'm now in the kitchen, wearing only boxers and thinking that a shower would be good now. Doc was right, I do stink.
I walk to the bathroom, turn on the water and god knows why, I close the bathroom door.
And there it is.
That's all it takes.
I'm down on the floor, in the corner, back against the wall, knees folded and Jim's robe in my hands. I'm shaking, can't breathe.
He almost died. Almost - fucking - died.
I never, I mean...never, never, never.....
He's a cop. I know that. But he's - The Sentinel of the Great City. He's like, Superman. With a big S on his chest. A few bumps, yes, shot a couple of times, but never serious, just bruises, contusions, concussions, but never...never....
I mean, this is JIM. MY Jim. He can't, be, you know, he can't be ---- he can't ---- die, or anything, like that. You know?
....but there was so much blood....and he almost did - die. almost.....
I'm shaking so hard now....burying my head in his robe, breathing in his scent, the sobs wracking my body.
I....never.....thought......he.....could...... me - yes, him.....never....
never, never, never, never......
all i can hear are my sobs.....
I don't believe what Doctor Samuels said. Sandburg has been with Jim for the last 48 hours. Shit.
So here I stand, just outside #307, checking up on Sandburg.
He's an adult. He's fine.
So why doesn't he answer?
Shit, someone at the door. Somehow I'm standing, washing my face and pulling on Jim's robe.
So, answer the fucking door already!
O-kay. I've seen dead men look better than Sandburg.
"You okay, Sandburg?"
"Fine, Simon. Come on in."
I step in and realize that his robe is, maybe, two sizes too big for him? He looks like - a boy. A small, hurting boy. His face is sheet white, except for the myriad of gravel punctures.
"You want something, Simon? Coffee, beer?"
"No, I'm fine. But you look like you could use something. Tea?"
I don't know why, but I put my hands on his shoulders and guide him to the kitchen table.
He's - trembling.
I sit him down and move into the kitchen.
"Where's the tea you like so much?"
"Top right shelf. Only box of tea there."
I fix the tea, not talking but observing my observer.
He's been - crying. I can see it in his red-rimmed eyes. He's still giving off these little breathing hitches too. But damn, the kid is trying so hard to hide it.
I set the cup in front of him and he just stares.
Okay, I can do this. I lift his hand and place the steaming mug in his palm and close the fingers. Then I move his hand up....
I pull out a chair and join him, but something forces me to take the one next to him, not the one across from him.
This isn't the Blair Sandburg I'm used to.
"I just came from the hospital. Jim was sound asleep. He looked good."
Sandburg is staring at his tea, so once again I place my fingers on the back of his hand and give a little nudge. The drink goes up and he sips again.
"Sandburg, he's alive. He's going to stay alive."
"I know. Don't you think I know? He wouldn't dare die on me. I'd kill him."
Something is - there. Something in what he just said. If I can just get a handle on it...
Sandburg is leaning. His body, right in front of my eyes, is - leaning.
Listing. Tower of Piza. In a minute, he'll be in my arms.
"he nearly did it, simon. he nearly did it."
God damn it, I know what he's talking about. Been around this guy too long. I am verstatile in Blairspeak. I am now a second language guy.
"But he didn't. He didn't die. And you're ready to keel over. Come on, let's get you to bed."
"no, no, gotta go back."
"You will, in a few hours. I'll stay, make sure you get up and we'll go back. But now, bed."
I help him stand, still stunned by this behavior. I know they're friends, but this seems - beyond.
We're shuffling toward his room, but - he doesn't turn. He keeps going.
To the stairs.
Up the stairs.
To the kingsize bed. And his glasses are on the night stand.
"just gonna nap."
"Yes, Sandburg, just nap."
"a little while."
"Yes, Sandburg, a little while."
"then back to jim."
"Yes, Sandburg, then back to Jim."
I can't believe I'm pulling back the covers and helping Blair crawl under. I mean, this is Jim's bedroom, and Jim's bed.
God, flannel sheets.
No, this is their bedroom. Their bed.
Jim and Blair.
Ellison and Sandburg.
And my observer has just now realized that his Sentinel is vulnerable.
That his - lover - could die.
Hell, I've known it all along.
He's wearing Jim's robe. That's why it's too big for him.
I gaze down at the man brought so strangely into my life two years ago. He's buried his head in the collar of the robe, his fingers tight around the material.
"he's superman, you know. but he's - not. now i know he's not. how do i handle it, simon?"
"Love him, Sandburg, just love him."
Yeah, I just said that. And I meant it too. With everything inside of me. Strange.
"i can do that."
But of course, he does so much more. Why, how, couldn't I, didn't I - see that before?
He really loves Jim Ellison. LOVES him.
He's drifting off. God, he looks so young right now. I could be his father. I tenderly push some hair from his face and whisper, "sleep, blair, just sleep."
O-kay, I'm a little slow on the uptake, but I get it now. Really get it.
The Sentinel protects the tribe and his guide.
The Guide protects the Sentinel.
But we need a rew rule:
The Captain protects both the Sentinel and his Guide.
I have no plans to lose either one.