Rating: NC-17

Pairings: J/B

Warnings: m/m

Archive category: Romance/Drama

Disclaimers: All recognizable Sentinel characters are copyright of Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. No infringement intended on my part.... just doing some wishful thinking. :-)

Notes: { } indicate thoughts

Summary: After Blair is unknowingly poisoned then leaves on a solo camping trip, it's up to a flu-stricken Jim to find him before it's too late.

Date completed: August 12, 1997



Lost and Found

by Barbara Nice-Miller




The loft

"Are you sure you're Ok with this, man?"

"How many times you gonna ask me that, Chief? I know how much you were looking forward to this trip."

"But I just don't feel right leaving you here. You're sick. What if you need me?"

"I always need you, babe," Jim replied with a grin, causing his lover to blush. "It's just the flu, I'll be fine. Really. You go out into the woods and have fun. Go 'commune with nature' or whatever. You deserve a break. Besides, you already got the time off from the university. Don't waste it babysitting me. When I'm feeling better we'll reschedule our own camping trip."

Blair sighed and paused a moment in his packing, looking at his lover sprawled on the couch. He looked pitiful, wrapped in a blanket, surrounded by tissues and aspirin bottles. He didn't want to leave him, but he just had to get out of Cascade for awhile. He felt like the walls were closing in on him.

"Ok, Jim, you win. Thanks, man, I appreciate it. I just need to get out of the city for a few days, you know?"

"I know, Chief. But you'd best hurry. You've got a few hour's drive ahead of you and you want to make camp before nightfall."

Blair nodded and resumed his hasty packing. He had to go into school this morning to take care of a few last minute things before he left, and got snagged by one of his students. Before he knew it, the morning was gone. Now he was in a hurry to get on the road.

He zipped his backpack closed just as his stomach rumbled, demanding attention, reminding him that he hadn't had either breakfast or lunch. Damn, another delay. But he didn't relish the prospect of hiking on an empty stomach. He jogged into the kitchen, opening the first cabinet he came to, looking for something fast to eat. He grabbed the first thing he saw, a can of clam chowder. He decided to forgo the stove and simply opened the can and started eating. Lord knows he'd eaten enough cans of soup this way in school, rushing from one class to the next, not having time to wait and heat it up.

Jim, seeing what Blair was doing, spoke up from the other room. "Oh, Sandburg, that's gross! Heat it up, for God's sake."

Blair shook his head. "Don't have time, man," he said around a mouthful. "I gotta get outta here."

"What brand is that, anyway?" Jim asked, looking at the unfamiliar blue label.

Blair shrugged. "Beats me. They didn't have the kind I wanted and this was on sale, so I thought I'd give it a try."

He worked his way through the can in no time flat, pitching the empty container in the trash can on his way out of the kitchen. He walked over to the couch and knelt down by Jim's head. He gently pressed his lips to the older man's forehead, the gesture both a kiss and a fever tester. Jim's head was warmer than usual.

"You've still got a fever."

"Chief, go. I'll be fine. I promise to drink lots of fluids and take the aspirin. And stay away from the NyQuil," he said with a grin, remembering his last experience with cold medication.

"Promise me you'll call Simon if you need anything."

"I promise. Now get out of here."

Blair nodded and rose. "I love you. I'll see you Tuesday."

"Love you, too. Have a good time."



Jim let out a deep sigh moments after Blair left the loft. He was sicker than he'd let on, and if the kid knew, he never would've went camping. And his young Guide really needed the time away from the city. Jim closed his eyes and sank deeper into the sofa. His head was pounding, his nose was completely stuffed up, every muscle in his body ached and he had the beginnings of an ear ache. None of his senses, save for sight, was working properly.

{Well, Ellison, that's what you get for doing a three day stakeout in the rain}he chastised himself.

Too exhausted to climb the stairs to his, and Blair's, bed, he simply shuffled his way into Blair's old room and promptly fell asleep on the young man's old bed.



Blair made excellent time, the traffic uncharacteristically light for a Saturday. Once in Seattle, he guided Jim's truck onto the ferry and had an enjoyable ride across Puget Sound on his way to Falls View State Park, inside the Olympic National Forest. He'd brought Jim up here once before and the Sentinel just loved it. In fact, they were planning on camping in the same spot as last time.

Once inside the National Forest, Blair drove the truck as far as he was allowed, he shouldered his backpack and gear and began his trek up towards Falls View. Even though it was late May and the sun did not set as early anymore, he'd still have to hustle to get to his selected campsite before dark.

Even though his pace was somewhat rushed, Blair was having a wonderful time. The air was warm, the sun bright, the clouds puffy and white and the birds were singing. Blair breathed in deep lungfulls of clean, crisp air, marveling at the contrast between city and forest, opting for the forest any day. He met but one couple on his hike, going in the opposite direction, but the solitude suited him. He smiled. No more hustle and bustle of the rat race for the next three days.

He had about and hour of sunlight left when he reached the spot he and Jim had camped at last year, about two miles off the main path, and made a quick decision. Abandoning his plans to make camp here, he decided to hike for another half hour north, wanting to see a different area on this trip. Jim wasn't here to argue, so off he went, walking due north, but staying off the main path.

True to his word, he stopped exactly a half hour later, knowing he needed time to set up camp before dark. Quickly and efficiently he put together his one-man tent, unrolled his sleeping bag and set up his firepit. He had a fire going shortly, his mess kit out and his can of beans cooking away. He'd even brought a bag of marshmallows with him.

The strenuous day finally caught up with him not too long after he'd eaten and he fell asleep under the stars with a smile on his face, listening to the crickets and dreaming of Jim.


The loft


Jim dragged himself out of Blair's bed, feeling worse than the day before. He definitely had an ear ache now. Everything was muted, he felt like he was underwater. He grabbed the bottle of aspirin and flipped on the TV on his way to the kitchen for some juice. Chugging back two aspirin, he listen half-heartedly to the local news as he searched for something to eat for breakfast.

"...partly sunny skies today with a 30% chance of rain. Back to you, John. Thank you, Brad. And now back to our top news story this morning. A deadly botulism outbreak has been reported in Cascade, stemming from improperly canned soup. The brand, Blue Ribbon, has already been pulled from grocery store shelves around town..."

Jim whipped his head toward the television. {Blue Ribbon? Why does that name sound familiar?} The memory hit him like a ton of bricks. Blair, standing here yesterday afternoon eating soup straight from the can. He raced to the trash can, a knot of fear beginning in his stomach, as the news anchorman continued.

"...normal cooking temperatures will usually kill the botulism toxin, but if you have consumed any Blue Ribbon soup in the past 18 to 36 hours, be on alert for the following symptoms..."

Jim threw open the lid, feeling as though he'd been hit in the stomach with a baseball bat.

"...difficulty in walking and swallowing, along with impaired vision and speech..."

There it lay on top, an empty can of Blue Ribbon clam chowder.

"...if you experience any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Botulism is fatal if not treated early."

Jim lifted the can up. "Oh, God...Blair..."


Falls View
Olympic National Forest


Blair awoke to the chirping of the birds, warm sunshine streaming in the open flaps of his tent and a sore throat. He flopped back down on his sleeping bag, swallowing experimentally. His throat felt tight, swollen. He groaned.

{Oh man! Don't even tell me I'm getting the flu from Jim} he thought miserably.

Pushing himself up on his hands and knees, he crawled out of the tent and pulled on his hiking boots. He got his campfire going again, boiling water from his canteen for his tea. He munched happily on his trail mix, trying to ignore the growing discomfort in his throat. Breakfast finished, he doused the fire with dirt, put away his dishes and changed into his hiking clothes. He grabbed his nearly empty canteen, fishing pole, lures and granola and set out for the stream he heard flowing in the distance.

He was almost to the stream when the first wave of dizziness hit. One minute he was walking along, the next the ground was tilting at an impossible angle and he found himself leaning against a tree for support. He breathed deeply for a moment until the world stopped spinning. He ran a hand across his face, surprised to find it damp with sweat.

He pushed himself upright and squared his shoulders. "I am not going to get sick," he muttered to himself. "I'll get sick when I get back. I am going to enjoy this trip."

His resolution made, he continued on to the stream, arriving there without further incident. He found a comfortable spot on the bank, and in no time had bagged two rainbow trout. He hooked them to his stringer, looking forward to fresh fried fish for dinner. He filled his canteen with the cold mountain water and snacked on his granola, his bare feet dangling in the rushing water.

His throat was growing steadily worse, making it difficult to swallow the granola anymore. He gave up on his snack, sipping the water instead. He remained at the stream awhile longer, enjoying the solitude, letting his mind wander. He bird-watched, he thought about Jim, missing the big man already, hoping he was feeling better.

Deciding it was time to head back, he rose up from the bank, instantly regretting the sudden movement. Another wave of dizziness claimed him, the edges of his vision going dark and he fell to his hands and knees. He remained in that position for quite some time, trying to will the world to stand still. He finally rolled over onto his back, whispering, "Ok, you win. I'll go home."

He gathered his belongings slowly and started the trek back to his camp. He'd gone no more than 50 feet when the first convulsion hit. He cried out in pain and surprise as his stomach and chest suddenly seized up on him, and he crumpled to the ground, fighting for breath.



Jim jumped into action. {Blair, I've got to get to Blair} his mind chanted over and over.

By the time he pulled on fresh clothes and was heading for the door, he was exhausted. His head was swimming, the fever and ear ache were getting worse and he was coughing so bad he could barely catch his breath. He paused for a moment, leaning against the kitchen counter, then grabbed Blair's car keys and headed out to save his Guide.

If he wasn't too late already.

His first stop was the station. He needed a squad car; Blair's Corvair just wasn't going to cut it. He drove into the parking garage like a bat out of hell, tires squealing as he slammed the car into "park".

"Patterson!" he barked as he jumped from the car, startling the uniformed officer who he was addressing.

"Ellison? Hey man, what's up?" Patterson asked with a smile as he closed his squad car's door.

"Give me your keys, I need to borrow your squad," Jim said without preamble as he stopped in front of the young officer, hand extended.

Officer Mark Patterson took in Jim's disheveled appearance and pale face. "Jim? You Ok?"

"Mark, please, I need your keys. Blair's in trouble."

Patterson handed over the keys without a word. Everyone knew who Blair was, how close he and Jim were.

"Can I do anything, Jim?"

"No, Mark, thanks. I can handle it," Jim replied as he shut the car door and drove away, tires squealing.

Jim hit the lights and sirens the moment he emerged from the parking garage. Next stop, the hospital. Minutes later, he screeched to a stop outside the main doors and barreled inside, heading for the main desk.

"Molly, thank God," he said, approaching the young nurse standing at the desk. Blair had been tutoring Molly at the loft for the past few weeks, and Jim had gotten to know her.

Molly looked up at the voice with a smile that quickly turned into a frown as she saw Jim rushing toward her.

"Jim? Are you alright?" she asked, seeing his pale, sweaty face and too bright eyes.

He waved a hand in the air. "I'm fine, it's Blair. He's got botulism."

"Oh, God. Let me get a gurney. Is he out in the car?"

"Molly, wait, listen. He isn't here."

Jim quickly explained about the soup and Blair's solo camping trip.

He grabbed a piece of paper and a pen from Molly's desk and began scribbling directions down. "I know exactly where he's camping. It's the same spot we were at last year." He handed the paper to Molly. "You've got to get the MedEvac chopper up there."

"Jim, I can't! It's not here, it left ten minutes ago for a multiple car accident on the freeway!"

Jim pounded his fist on the desk in frustration, then looked up at the young nurse.

"Molly, if Blair were here, what treatment would you give him?"

"The antitoxin, of course, by injection," she answered.

"Get it for me. I'm going up there after him."

"What? Jim, you're not a doctor!"

"I had medic training in the Army, in Special Forces. I can give injections easily."

"Jim, this is against hospital--"

"Molly, please! He's going to die."

Molly wavered for a moment, then picked up the phone.

"Steve? It's Molly. I need a vial of the botulism antitoxin and a sealed hypodermic over here, stat."

She hung up the phone and said to Jim, "I've got to get this cleared or it'll be my head."

Jim nodded. "Do whatever you have to, just get me that antitoxin. Call Captain Simon Banks in Major Crimes at the department. He'll vouch for me."

But before she could pick up the phone again, Steve appeared with the vial and needle, then left.

"Ok, Jim. How long's it been since Blair ate the soup?"

Jim looked at his watch. 11am. "Almost 24 hours."

Molly took a deep breath. "He's going to be in bad shape, Jim. Botulism causes the throat to swell, restricting breathing, then paralyses the respiratory muscles. He'll suffocate to death."

Jim closed his eyes in despair. "Jim, listen to me. There may not have been as much bacteria in the soup as we think. When you find him, if he's still conscious but having convulsions, give him 10cc's of the antitoxin. But if he's unconscious and in respiratory distress, give him 20cc's." She picked up the paper with the directions Jim had written. "I'll dispatch MedEvac to Falls View the moment they return."

"Thank you, Molly," Jim whispered.

"Just bring him back safe and sound."


Falls View


How long Blair lay curled up on the ground he didn't know. The cramps were terrible, his stomach felt like it was in a vice. And his chest... Was there an elephant sitting on him? He could barely breathe. And this was no ordinary sore throat, it was nearly swelled shut now.

As the convulsion released it's grip on the young man, he lay shaking, his face pale and sweaty. He fought down his rising panic and struggled to his feet, nearly bent double from the lingering pain.

A million things ran chaotically through Blair's mind as he forced himself to stagger back to his campsite. First and foremost being Jim. The young Guide didn't know what was wrong with himself and he didn't want to die here, alone, in the woods. Angry tears seeped from his eyes and he offered up a silent prayer to whichever God looked out for wayward anthropologists.

{Please, I'm not ready to go yet. Not now, not when I've just learned what love really means. Don't take me away from Jim}


Crossing Puget Sound


Jim stood on the deck of the ferry, at the bow, silently urging the boat to go faster. He'd driven like a mad man all the way from Cascade, lights and sirens screaming the whole way. He must have terrified the other passengers waiting in their cars in line, the way he came tearing up to the dock. He explained to the captain it was a medical emergency, the remaining cars were loaded as quickly as possible and they had gotten underway.

The captain had been trying repeatedly to raise the ranger station in Falls View, wanting to get someone out searching for Blair, but there had been no response. The ranger could be anywhere out on patrol. The captain promised to keep trying.

So Jim could do nothing but stand here and wait and stare out at the waters of the Sound. Actually, he was grateful for the brief respite. His fever had spiked and he was both sweating and shivering at the same time. He still had that "underwater" feeling and the coughs came from deep in his chest now. This was not the flu anymore, it had probably turned into pneumonia.

But Jim could have cared less at that point. He was entirely focused on Blair. His partner. His friend. His Guide. And now his lover. Jim closed his eyes as images from the past played like a slide show in his mind...

Blair, saving him from that garbage truck
Blair, high on Golden, trembling in his arms
Blair, talking him out of another zone-out
Blair, tied to a chair, Lash standing over him
Blair, joking about getting a tatoo
Blair, talking a mile a minute about who- know's- what
Blair, in front in front of a roaring fire, confessing his love for his Sentinel
That first, mind-blowing kiss moments later
Blair, gloriously naked, moving beneath him, crying out Jim's name

{Dammit! I can't lose him. It took us so long to finally admit what we felt for each other. We've hardly had any time together. It can't end like this! It just can't. What would I do without him? I'm his Blessed Protector, dammit! I'm supposed to take care of him! Not let him die!}

The ferry's air horn jolted Jim back to the present. They were getting ready to dock.



Olympic National Forest


Once again using the squad car's lights and sirens, Jim raced toward Olympic National Forest. The captain still had no luck contacting the ranger station, so Jim was still on his own.

Pulling into the parking lot, Jim spotted his truck easily. It was parked at the far end, nearest the trail leading up to Falls View. Jim had the squad parked and was out in a flash, moving toward the trail head, the antitoxin and hypodermic safely secured in his jacket pocket.

Jim looked down at his watch. Just after 3:30pm. Twenty-seven hours since Blair had eaten the soup. Jim stepped up his pace.

{Hang on, Blair. I'm on my way}


Blair's campsite


It took what felt like an eternity, but Blair finally made it back to his camp. He hadn't had another convulsion, but the dizziness was terrible, causing him to stumble and fall. He had a gash on his forehead to prove it. And his breathing was getting worse. He knew he didn't have much time, but he didn't know what to do. There was no way, in his present condition, he could hike back down to get help before night fell. But if he stayed here, he'd surely die. He thought of Jim and knew he had to try, to at least go down fighting. If he could only make it back to the main path, there was a chance someone would come along and find him.

But his decision was for naught, for as he rose to his feet, the more powerful second convulsion drove him gasping to his knees before collapsing completely to the ground. The pain was just too much this time. He was so weak and his chest felt strangely numb. As the darkness rushed in to claim him, Blair whispered, "Jim...I'm so sorry..."


Falls View


Jim's body was protesting under the strain he was putting on it. He urged his legs to go faster up the trail, even though they felt like rubber. The sweat poured freely down his face now, and he wiped it roughly out of his eyes. He was close, less than a half mile now to the site where he and Blair had camped last year. And for the hundredth time since he started his climb, he cursed his sickness. Not only was it the reason Blair had gone on this trip alone, but it was slowing him down when he most needed speed from his body. But worst of all, it left most of his senses completely useless. This close to Blair, he should be able to hear his heartbeat, which was imprinted permanently in Jim's brain. He could pick out his lover in an entire stadium full of people. That's how closely he was connected to his Guide. Or he should at least be able to smell him. That unique odor that was only Blair. He loved to just hold Blair in his arms after their lovemaking and inhale his scent. More than once, the young man had to pull him out of a zone from doing that.

Jim crashed through the underbrush, heart beating frantically as he approached the clearing he and Blair had camped at last year.

"Blair! Blair!" he yelled, running. "Blair, answer me!" he demanded.

But even as he spoke the words, he knew there would be no reply. Something wasn't right. He didn't need his Sentinel sight to realize that Blair's red tent was nowhere in sight. In fact, there was no indication that the young anthropologist had even been in the clearing.

Jim looked around frantically. {I know this is the spot. I remember it like it was yesterday. He said he was coming right back here!}

Despair washed over the Sentinel in waves and he dropped to his knees. "NO! Blair!" he screamed at the sky.

But the only answer was his own echo.

{Where could he be? Where could he have gone? Think, Ellison! Think!}

Jim brought his hands up to cover his face and took a deep breath. {Ok, calm down. Panicking will not help Blair.} He let his hands drop to his sides and released his breath. {Alright, your hearing and smell aren't working, but you've still got sight, taste and touch. Can't see how taste and touch are going to help me right now, so concentrate on sight} he told himself. {Look for anything that might tell you if Blair had even been here and where he would've headed}

The Sentinel purposely pushed himself toward a zone-out, concentrating solely on his vision, trying to ignore the pneumonia weakening his body by the moment. He swept the ground with his eyes, searching, searching...grass, sticks, plants, leaves, dirt, mud...There! A bootprint in the mud at the rim of the clearing, pointing away, up north. Pushing himself harder, he brought the image into sharper focus...and almost cried with relief. It was Blair's! The immistakable chunk of rubber missing from the right boot heel all the proof he needed. How many times had he told the kid to go buy a new pair? But his Guide had refused, saying his favorite boots may be a little worse for wear, but still had many miles left in them.

Jim smiled. {For once, thank you for not listening to me, babe}

A coughing fit pulled Jim back to himself and he lurched to his feet when his breathing finally returned to normal. He immediately ran over to the bootprint and again scanned the area. Looking a bit higher, he now spotted broken branches and trampled underbrush. Tell-tale signs of someone having been through this way. Hope blossomed in his chest and he set out once again in search of his Guide.


Almost a half hour later and Jim was ready to drop from exhaustion. He had to find Blair soon; he didn't know how much longer his body could keep going. He'd been reduced to a jog; his legs no longer able to run. His lightheadedness had gotten progressively worse and he realized that he'd had nothing to eat all day. That certainly hadn't helped slow down the spread of his pneumonia, and he could've used the extra energy food would've given him. But he continued on, slow going as it was, stopping frequently to scan the dirt for another bootprint or the plant life for another broken branch, when he saw it.

A splotch of red against the green backdrop of the woods.

Blair's tent.

"Blair! Blair! Answer me!" Jim yelled, praying that he'd see that familiar face poke itself around a tree any second now.

But only silence greeted him as he ran madly toward his lover's campsite, an icy tendril of fear starting in his chest. He burst through the remaining underbrush and staggered into Blair's camp, his heart nearly stopping at the sight before him.

His Guide lay on his side in the dirt, pale and still, dried blood surrounding a gash on his forehead.

"No! No!" cried Jim, throwing himself down on his knees in the dirt beside Blair's inert form.

He rolled Blair over onto his back, placing his palm flat on the young man's chest, feeling for a heartbeat, a breath. And for an agonizing second could detect nothing.

"No! Don't do this to me, Blair. Please, please..."

And Blair's chest moved.

A long, shallow, painful gasp that brought tears to the Sentinel's eyes. "Yes! Fight for me, Blair. Fight for me," he pleaded. But the young man remained unconscious and did not immediately draw another breath. It was a full five seconds before Blair's chest moved again.

Jim scrabbled inside his jacket pocket, searching for the vial and needle, knowing his Guide didn't have much time left. He tore open the plastic wrapper encasing the hypodermic and discarded the cap covering the needle itself. He upended the vial and plunged the needle in, pushing out the air and drawing in the antitoxin. As panicked and in a hurry as he was, Jim made sure the hypodermic was filled to exactly 20cc's. He withdrew the needle and put the vial back in his pocket. Holding the hypodermic up, Jim tapped it, sending any small air bubbles to the top. He depressed the plunger, squirting a fine stream of fluid into the air, then bent down over Blair.

He yanked Blair's sleeve up past his elbow, trying to ignore how cold the flesh was beneath his hand. Jim pressed the needle against Blair's arm, then pushed it in, injecting him with the antitoxin. When the hypodermic was empty, he lay it on the ground, then gathered Blair's limp form into his arms, holding him close.

"Don't you dare quit on me, Blair," Jim whispered fiercely, silent tears streaming from his eyes. "You don't want my life to get boring, do you?"

But Blair's eyes remained closed, his breathing still labored. Jim tried to rouse his friend again, running his hand gently through the soft curls and placing a kiss on his forehead.

"Please, babe, you gotta wake up now. Can you hear me? I love you, Blair. Come back to me."

Jim continued his litany for the next few minutes, urging Blair to wake up, his tears continuing to fall as there was no response. Then it happened.

Blair moved.

Twitched, actually. His entire body jerked in Jim's arms, startling the Sentinel into silence. For a moment, Jim feared the worst, his hand flying to Blair's chest, searching for a heartbeat. To his surprise, it was a bit stronger than before, his breaths still labored but only a few seconds apart now. Jim shook Blair's shoulders lightly. "That's it, babe, you've got it. Come on now, open your eyes for me," he urged.

Responding to Jim's voice, fighting his way back to consciousness, Blair forced his eyes open...to gaze up into the worried eyes of his lover. And for the first time since this ordeal began, Jim smiled.

"Welcome back, partner," he whispered.

Blair's eyes focused on the sound of the voice and he blinked, then gave a weak grin. Reaching for Jim's hand, he whispered, "My Blessed Protector..." before his eyes slid closed once more.

Jim squeezed Blair's hand and took a deep breath. They'd taken the first step, but they weren't out of the woods yet. Literally. He gently shook Blair again.

"Come on, Chief. Stay with me. We've got to get out of here."

The young man stirred in his arms, but did not awaken.

"You're going to make me do this the hard way, aren't you?" he asked, as he maneuvered Blair sideways into his arms.

Taking another deep breath, he stood up, holding Blair in his arms...and staggered sideways, nearly falling as the lightheadedness caught up with him again. He tightened his hold on Blair and quickly closed his eyes, swaying. How in the world was he going to make it back to that first clearing? For that's where Jim had told Molly to send the paramedics from the MedEvac chopper. They'd never find them here.

But one look at Blair's deathly pale face and he knew he'd make it somehow. He had to.


It took Jim an hour to make it back to the clearing. Blair never woke, worrying him, but he seemed to be breathing easier, and for that Jim was grateful. However, Jim himself was going downhill fast. His body was shutting down on him, the pneumonia completely overtaking him. Just as he reached the edge of the clearing, his legs finally gave out on him. He crumpled to the ground, rolling onto his back to protect Blair from the fall.

He held Blair close to him, shaking as his fever raged within him; and the last thing he saw before he slipped into unconsciousness was the bright orange uniforms of the MedEvac paramedics rushing towards him.


The loft
One week later


Jim looked down at the peaceful face of his sleeping lover. He lightly skimmed his fingers up and down Blair's bare arm, letting the events of the last week wash over him in the early morning hours...

One of the MedEvac paramedics had roused him while the other two worked on Blair, trying to stabilize him. Since they had only been expecting one patient, they only had one stretcher, so Jim would have to make it down the path under his own power, with the help of one of the paramedics. He honestly didn't remember much of the trip down to the helicopter waiting in the parking lot, concentrating solely on trying to stay upright.

They strapped he and Blair in and started pumping antibiotics into him intravenously while hooking Blair up to a respirator. He must have passed out again, for the next thing he remembered was being wheeled on a gurney through a hospital corridor. He later found out he was in Seattle, at the closest hospital to the Olympic National Forest. He immediately began calling out for Blair, demanding to know where he was. A doctor finally appeared and explained to Jim that Blair was in Intensive Care. He'd gone into cardiac arrest on the chopper flight, but the paramedics had brought him back and stabilized him. He was currently undergoing aggressive treatment for the botulism poisoning. He was still unconscious and would be in the hospital for quite a few days, recovering.

It turned out to be six days. Jim himself was in for three days, recovering from the pneumonia. He'd woken up the next morning to find Simon sitting by his bedside.

"Simon?" he asked groggily. "How did you--?"

Simon smiled. "Well, between Officer Patterson requesting a new squad car and having to explain why, and Molly calling me at the precinct and then Seattle Memorial calling...well, you get the picture." He sobered. "How're you feeling, Jim?"

"I'm fine, forget about me. Have you seen Blair? How is he?"

"No, I haven't been able to see him, but I do know he's listed in fair condition up in ICU."

Jim tried to swing his legs over the side of the bed. "I have to go see him."

Simon jumped up, pushing Jim back down. "Woah! Hold on a second there! You're in no condition to go anywhere. That pneumonia is still playing havoc with your body. You won't even be able to stand."

Jim shook his head. "Simon, I--"

"I don't want to hear it, Jim. You're staying right here. You won't do Sandburg any good if you make yourself worse. Then you won't be able to see him. I'll be here all day. If you promise to stay in bed and rest, let the antibiotics continue to work, I promise to keep checking on Blair and let you know how he's doing. Then, if you feel better tomorrow morning, I'll see about getting you a wheelchair so you can go upstairs and see him. Deal?"

Jim lay back in bed, his eyelids already drooping, much more tired and weak than he'd let on. He nodded. "Deal."

Simon smiled then turned to go, leaving Jim to get some sleep.

"Oh, and Simon?" Jim called. "Thanks."




Jim slept most of the day away, waking for brief periods when he detected someone else in the room. It was usually Simon, letting him know how Blair was doing -- still in ICU, still in fair condition, still hooked up to the respirator, still unconscious.

None of this sounded particularly good to Jim, but Simon reminded him of one important fact.

"Jim, Blair would be dead without what you did. The antitoxin saved his life. The doctor told me that his entire respiratory system was nearly paralyzed when you found him. Another half hour and it would've been too late. He's going to be fine, it's just going to take some time for his system to repair itself." He paused. "I know this Sentinel/Guide thing runs deep between the two of you, how close you're connected. Don't let him feel any negative energy coming from you. It won't help him."



Jim woke the next morning to someone gently shaking his shoulder. It was Simon. Jim immediately panicked.

"Simon? What's wrong? Is Blair--"

"Jim, Jim, calm down." Simon smiled. "He woke up a few hours ago." He gestured to the wheelchair near the bed. "Are you up for a visit?"

Jim's answer was a blinding smile.

On the way upstairs, Simon told Jim that Blair was fighting the respirator, so they'd removed it and he was breathing on his own, although still hooked up to an oxygen tube. He was groggy, so Jim shouldn't expect too much right now.

Groggy or not, it didn't matter to Jim, just as long as Blair was awake.

Simon pushed open the door to Blair's room then stepped aside. He put his hand on Jim's shoulder. "I'll be out here when you're ready to go back downstairs."

Jim nodded. "Thanks, Simon." Then he wheeled himself inside as the door closed silently behind him.

Blair lay on his back in the hospital bed, head tilted to the side, facing Jim. His eyes were closed, he appeared to be sleeping. The only sound in the room was the steady {beep, beep} of the heart monitor. He looked so small and frail lying there, so still, the white bandage covering the cut on his forehead standing out against his skin. But at least his color had returned to normal, his cheeks pink once again, and his chest rose and fell in a steady rhythm.

Jim rolled to a stop next to the bed and took Blair's hand between both of his. Much to his relief, this time it was warm.

"I'm here, Chief," he whispered.

Blair stirred at the touch and voice, eyes fluttering open, unfocused at first, then coming to rest on eyes as blue as his own. He smiled. "Jim..." he breathed.

Jim sucked in a sharp breath and tears flooded his eyes. He'd come so close to losing him...

"What...what the hell happened to me?" Blair whispered, his voice rough.

Jim chuckled and wiped a hand across his eyes. "Well, Chief, it sorta went like this..."



Simon returned to Cascade that afternoon, knowing both Jim and Blair were on their way to a full recovery. Jim was released the following day, still not one hundred percent over his pneumonia, but no longer requiring hospitalization; the only lingering effects a cough and a much reduced ear ache. Blair wasn't ready to be released yet, his respiratory system still weakened, so Jim took a room at a hotel close to the hospital.

For the next three days, Jim spent every minute he could visiting with Blair, watching as his Guide grew stronger, and more impatient to be released, each day. Until finally he was given his discharge papers yesterday afternoon.

And last night, for the first time in a week, they fell asleep in each other's arms, skin to skin, content to just hold each other and thank God that they were able to do just that.



So here he was, staring down at his beautiful, naked lover nestled up against him, thinking totally impure thoughts. Jim smiled to himself. A week without Blair had been pure torture, but he was going to let his lover be the first to initiate something when he felt completely better.

Blair mumbled something in his sleep and turned to press himself against Jim's chest, one arm wrapping around his Sentinel's waist, his eyes blinking open. Jim reached up to cup Blair's face in his palm, his thumb stroking the smooth skin.

"Morning, sunshine," he whispered.

Blair smiled. An intense, blinding, 100-megawatt smile that went straight to Jim's heart.

"Oh, God, Blair...I thought I'd lost you when I found that can..."

"Shh...it's Ok, babe. I'm here now, safe, thanks to you." He kissed Jim's chest. "How's that song go? 'I once was lost, but now I'm found'." He hugged Jim tightly to him. "My Blessed Protector. What would I do without you?"

Jim rolled sideways onto his back, bringing Blair with him, resting full length on top of him. "I hope to God you'll never have to find out," he replied, before pressing his lips softly to Blair's.

Blair returned the kiss with a hunger that took Jim's breath away, his Guide pressing down on top of him, seemingly trying to crawl inside of him. Jim reluctantly broke the kiss, lungs demanding oxygen. He'd barely drawn a breath when Blair's mouth swooped down, intent on claiming another kiss, but Jim took hold of the young man's shoulders, stilling his movements.

"Woah, there, Chief. You just got out of the hospital. I don't think you're ready for this."

In response, Blair thrust his hips downward, and for the first time Jim registered the sensation of Blair's erection pressing into his thigh.

"I'm more than ready. I want to bury myself inside you, Jim. Please."

Jim rolled Blair off him and onto his back. "No," he said firmly. "I won't have you tiring yourself out." Blair opened his mouth to protest, but Jim cut him off, smiling wickedly. "However, if you promise to lay here like a good little anthropologist, I'm sure I can do something to help relieve that swelling between your legs."

Jim immediately detected Blair's increased heartbeat and breathing.

"I promise, I promise...oh, God," moaned Blair as Jim's hot mouth latched itself onto his right nipple, licking and sucking till it was a tight, hard nub. He nipped it gently with his teeth, smiling as Blair arched back into the bed with a groan.

He continued downward, leaving a trail of wet kisses down his love's chest and abdomen, his hands following, skimming across Blair's warm flesh then reaching up to play with his nipples.

"Jim, Jim...oh, God...please..."

"Please, what?" teased Jim, pressing his lips just above Blair's navel. "Tell me what you want."

Blair bucked his hips upward in response, pushing his erection against Jim's body. "Please...take me in your mouth."

"Your wish is my command," whispered Jim, and without preamble, engulfed the head of Blair's cock in his mouth.

Blair gave a strangled cry and arched up off the bed, fighting for control. he willed his body. Jim let his lover settle back down before beginning his assault on the swollen cock in his mouth. He laved the tip with his tongue, running his tongue around it, sucking gently, then more forcefully.

Spurred on by his lover's moans, he opened his mouth wider, taking in as much of Blair as he could, one hand moving to cup the young man's balls, rolling them in their sac. Blair had his eyes closed now, head thrown back, mouth slightly open, saying Jim's name over and over. His hands were out to the side, fingers clutching and releasing the bedsheets repetitively.

Jim felt his Guide's balls grow tighter, drawing up, heard his heartbeat quicken and knew he was close to the edge. Releasing Blair's sac, he moved his hand to grip his shaft instead, stroking the throbbing organ as he sucked. He tasted pre-cum just as Blair let loose with another moan.

"Yes! Oh, Jim, please! I'm gonna...I'm gonna..."

Blair pumped his hips once, twice into Jim's mouth...and his orgasm hit him with the force of a ten-ton truck. He came, screaming Jim's name, feeling his world shatter around him as he emptied himself down his lover's throat.

How long he floated in that in-between place he didn't know, didn't care. When he finally came back to himself he was wrapped in the warm cocoon of Jim's arms, his lover stroking his hair and placing feather-light kisses on his forehead. He sighed contentedly and knew he wore a goofy grin on his face, but he couldn't have cared less.

He shifted in Jim's lap, trying to snuggle deeper into his lover's embrace when he felt the evidence of his Sentinel's desire pressing against him. He smiled and attempted to reach for Jim's erection when the big man stopped him, bringing his hand up to kiss the palm. Blair knotted his brows in confusion and opened his mouth, but Jim shook his head, silencing him.

"No, baby. This was all for you. I love you so much, Blair. With my heart and soul."

"And I love you, Jim. Forever. But let me do something for you, too."

Jim thought a moment then slowly nodded his head. "Promise me something."

"Anything, tough guy."

Jim unceremoniously dumped his young lover onto the bed, looming over him with a mock scowl on his face.

"Promise me that the next time you'll cook the damn soup!"



Thanks for reading! Comments are always appreciated. :-)

Barbara Nice-Miller