Ellison walked into the ER and up to the desk.
"Detective Ellison, Cascade PD. My partner was brought in earlier, involved in an auto accident. Blair Sandburg. Where is he?"
The nurse responded to the obvious pain of the man before her. "Of course Detective Ellison, let me see what I can find for you."
She punched the name "Sandburg" into the computer terminal. Then checked the EMT logs.
"I'm sorry Detective, but no Sandburg has been treated or admitted tonight. We do have two John Does....one was a DOA, the other was put into.....".
"I know, I've found him."
She watched in amazement as the big detective, now grinning, walked through the double doors into the treatment area.
In his initial fear, he had completely failed to use his sense of hearing to target Blair's heart, but when the nurse had said DOA....denial kicked in and he focused everything he had on locating that one heartbeat. And he'd found it. Beating sure and strong.
And now he could hear Blair's voice as well.
He went into treatment room #2 and his sentinel sight took in every minute detail.
Blair was sitting on the bed, one leg hanging over and the other stretched out in front of him as a woman, obviously the doctor, bandaged it. He was bare-chested and the detective winced in sympathy at the bruises that covered the younger man. He still had sweatpants on, but the one pantleg had been cut open to give the doctor access. All in all, it was the most beautiful sight he'd seen.
At the sound of the door opening, Blair turned and before he could say anything he found himself enveloped in a sentinel hug.
//Jim's hugging me?//
"Chief, when I saw your car...the wreckage...they said one fatality....God, Blair."
Blair moved back slightly and looked up at Jim. "Jim, Jim, calm down, I'm fine....a few bumps, scratches....".
"That's not exactly accurate, Mr. Sandburg."
"Dr. Reynolds, this is my partner, Detective Jim Ellison."
"Good to meet you Detective Ellison. As I was saying...Mr. Sandburg has a mild concussion, a badly bruised hip, I just finished putting twenty stitches into his left leg, he'll have a shiner that would shame a championship boxer and the assorted bumps and scratches he alluded to earlier. He's also refusing to stay the night for observation. Maybe you can convince him?"
Jim looked at Blair's face, saw the usual determination to stay out of any hospital and shrugged.
"Sorry Doctor, I know that look and no one is going to be able to change his mind. But he won't be alone, I'll be there to take care of him."
She nodded, "Well, if I can't get him to stay, I'll go get him discharged, arrange for the crutches and prepare a discharge treatment paper." She then addressed Blair, "Make sure you see your own doctor within 24 hours, understood?"
Blair nodded meekly.
"And do exactly what the treatment paper says?"
Again he nodded.
"Fine. Happy New Year gentlemen." And with that the Doctor left.
Jim sighed in relief.
"Blair....". Whatever he'd been going to say was drowned out by a barrage of "Blair questions".
"How did you know...why aren't you at the party......where's Megan....".
"Whoa, shut down a few brain cells here. It's simple Darwin. Number one, I found out you weren't on a date with Carmen...." Blair started to interrupt so Jim covered the younger man's mouth gently with his hand, "Number two, I realized, as did we all, that you were home alone because some Neanderthal didn't invite you and yes, I am gonna kill the son of a bitch, number three, in rushing home to you I saw the remains of the an old beat up Volvo and was trying to figure how to kill myself when they told me there had been a fatality. I broke all land, air, sea and space speed records getting here and now that I have found you, I find myself thinking, in spite of your injuries, very impure thoughts about what to do with you when I get you home."
"Ummph, mmph, agh!"
"Oh, sorry." Jim removed his hand from Blair's mouth.
"What do you mean, an old beat up Volvo!"
"Ooookay, not the response I was hoping for, but you do have a concussion so I'll make allowances."
"That's closer, Chief. Yes, Carmen. I overheard your conversation this morning and made some assumptions.....".
"Like, that I had a date?"
"Well, yes. And Sandburg, I promise you....".
This time it was Blair's hand that went over the older man's mouth.
"I get it Jim, but do me a favor?"
"Uumph, mmph, agh....".
"Don't kill anyone, okay?"
Jim nodded and Blair removed his hand.
"Chief, is that all you have to say?"
"No. What kind of impure thoughts?"
The nurse at the front desk looked at horror as the crowd, led by a tall, imposing black man, advanced on her.
"Captain Simon Banks, Cascade P.D. ..Blair Sandburg, where is he?"
She knew better than to mess with "the man". She pointed, "Treatment Room #2".
Six audible sighs accompanied her information and she was very relieved when they all passed through the double doors.
Simon held up a hand when they reached their destination. "I'll check on things first, we can't all just barge in unannounced. I'm sure Jim is already in there and as soon as *I* know what's going on, I'll let *you* know."
Everyone nodded in agreement. They were anxious, but Simon was right. And they had no idea how badly Blair might be hurt.
Simon opened the door and stepped in, closing it behind him. All Simon could see was Jim. Or rather his back. The detective's head was bent....
//Oh, God, no. Blair can't be...//
"Jim? Where's....where's the kid? He's alright, isn't he?"
Jim's head shot up and he half turned toward his boss thus revealing Sandburg. The clues were there....for anyone to see...it didn't take a detective to arrive at a conclusion based on the evidence. Two pairs of blue eyes, at half mast and dark with passion, lips parted, Sandburg's swollen and bruised, okay, *that* could have been from the accident, but Jim's? And Jim's belt? Undone? And the zipper?
"Right. He's fine. Just fine. Better than fine. You're both fine. *Very* fine." Simon pointed over is shoulder, "I'll just tell the others...let 'em know the kid is....fine."
Simon collected himself and made a polite exit.
Once outside he faced his people.
"He's in there, so's Jim. They're both....fine. Blair is fine...he looked....".
"Fine?" The group finished for him.
"Yes, that's it. Fine. Oh, Rafe. The pool. What date did you have?"
Rafe answered, but was clearly perplexed.
"January 1, 1999."
"Anyone have December 31, 1998?"
Joel raised his hand.
"Well, Joel, looks like you just won over $500. Congratulations."
Everyone alternated between congratulating Joel and consoling Rafe.
A woman for whom the expression, "Battleaxe" must have been coined, stood, holding papers and crutches and frowning.
"This is a hospital, not a pool hall. You will all have to wait outside. NOW!"
Simon flashed his badge.
"We are guarding a very dangerous criminal and his accomplice. We're staying."
The battleaxe looked uncertain.
"I have some prescriptions, a set of crutches and treatment papers for the gentleman in room #2. He seemed so nice."
Simon put out his hand. "I'll take those. And it's the nice ones you have to worry about, ma'am."
She gladly handed everything over and quickly made herself scarce.
"Simon? I'm going to make few more calls, see if we can find out what happened?" Brown offered.
"Good man and thanks."
As Brown went back through the double doors another woman approached them.
Simon started to flash his badge again.
"Don't bother. I'm Dr. Reynolds and Mr. Sandburg asked me to find out about two others involved in the accident. A woman and her child."
"Sorry, Dr. Reynolds, I'm Captain Simon Banks."
"I figured as much and don't bother trying to tell me Mr.Sandburg is a dangerous criminal, it worked on Nurse Axel, but it'll never fly with me."
"My apologies again, Doctor. Would you mind giving the information to me? Mr. Sandburg is rather pre-occupied at the moment."
"With Detective Ellison?"
"Well, yes, actually."
"Understood. Tell the young man that Mrs. Webster and her daughter Lucy are just fine and probably on their way home even now."
"I'll tell him. And thank you for taking care of one of my men."
"My pleasure. Happy New Year."
"Jim? Simon'll be back any second."
"Right. Simon. Want me to stop?" Jim continued his exploration of Blair's chest, with his tongue.
"Blair, you're shameful. Simon is do in here any minute and you can't keep your hands off."
A deep low chuckle was his answer, then, "Shameful. Definitely. What can I say?"
A knock on the door stopped any further conversation....and other things.
The whole group spilled in, all talking at once.
"How ya doin?"
"You really okay, Sandburg?"
"Looking good, Sandy."
Simon held up both hands, "Whoa, lets give the kid a break."
"Dr. Reynolds gave me a message for you. The woman, Mrs. Webster, and her little girl are fine and on their way home."
"Thank God." Blair breathed out.
The room stilled as they all realized the import of Blair's words. They could so easily have lost "their" anthropologist that night.
Jim finally broke the silence.
"Look, it's still early, we have time to get over to the loft and ring in the New Year together. What do you say?"
"Jim? Blair? You both sure?" Simon asked.
Both men nodded and answered together, "We're sure!"
That was all the group needed. Everyone hustled out, Rafe to get a wheelchair and the others to get Brown and head out.
Simon was the last to leave and before exiting, he turned to address Blair.
"Sandburg, I'm disappointed in you...." he didn't get any further as Jim came around the table toward him.
"Simon....I won't let you...."
"Hang on Ellison and let me finish. I'm disappointed that you would believe we would attend any police function if one of my men had not been invited. And you "are" one of my men and a valuable member of the team. When we found out you hadn't been invited everyone decided to walk out."
"Simon, I'm sorry. But I do know how I'm viewed at the station. I'm not stupid and believe me, I've heard it all. And if I had a nickel for every time you or Jim reminded me that I am not a cop....well, I'd own this city. I'm sorry I ruined everyone's evening and you "really" think of me as one of the team? I'm of some value to you? And you all walked out?"
"Jim, how do you stop him?"
"I don't sir, I just ride it out. He has to take a breath eventually."
Blair sat through the little exchange, a huge smile plastered on his face. He was enjoying every bantering second. For the first time, he really did feel a part of the team and it felt good. But it didn't stop him from giving Jim a sentinel whisper, "We'll see who rides what out when we get home, big guy."
And Simon found himself wondering why Ellison was suddenly blushing.
The loft was filled with voices as they screamed HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Simon took advantage of a time honored tradition and kissed Megan who wasn't in the least bit shy about returning the kiss, Aussie style.
Rafe was *deep* into wishing Karen a Happy New Year.
Jim, heedless of the crowd, had carefully taken Sandburg into his arms and was now honoring the same tradition as Simon and Rafe.
Brown and Taggert looked at each other, at the kissing couples, back at each other, then, "Nah! No way!" And they laughed as they hugged. Brown then added, "I'll wait my turn." And Taggert added, "With Connor?"
And Brown said, "No, with Sandburg!" And that sent them both into gales of hearty laughter.
Finally couples parted, hands were shook, backs thumped and more kisses exchanged.
By 1215, the Happy New Year's were over and everyone sat quietly, enjoying the sounds of celebration that could still be heard outside, relishing the closeness of good friends and thankful that 1999 had come in without the loss of "one of them".
For Blair, the events of the night were finally catching up to him and keeping his eyes open was becoming increasingly difficult.
"Excuse me for a few minutes while I "put" our observer to bed."
With those words, Jim gently pulled the younger man to his feet.
"You're getting away with that "to bed" remark because I am tired and 1999 is too young for a murder. Plus with all these cops present, I'd never get away with it." Blair barely managed to get the words out.
Everyone chuckled as Jim put the crutches under Blair's arms and walked alongside him as he moved to his bedroom. When Jim realized for "which" bedroom Blair was headed, he carefully steered him toward the stairs.
Blair never noticed, but everyone else did. You could have flown a 747 through their smiles.
After careful negotiating, Jim finally had Blair seated on the bed. The clothes Blair had put on when they got home, Jim now carefully removed, then he got the covers pulled down, lifted the younger man's legs onto the bed and gently lowered him back onto the pillow. The Sentinel pulled the covers over his sleeping guide.
Back downstairs Jim re-settled himself on the couch.
"Jim, Henri managed to find out exactly what happened tonight," Simon informed him.
Ellison leaned forward, all attention focused on Brown.
"Apparently Sandburg was stopped at the signal when a black, 1997 Jag ran the red light. The driver, Michael Woods, was arrested after failing the sobriety test at the scene. His car hit a Chevy Blazer, driven by Mrs. Webster and then moved on across the intersection and hit Sandburg. From witness accounts, Blair is the one who rescued Mrs. Webster, got her out of the car and got her to safety. He then went back, in spite of the fact that he must have known an explosion was imminent, and rescued Mrs. Webster's six year old daughter, Lucy. It was as he was trying to get her to safety that the car did in fact, blow. The majority of his injuries were sustained in the explosion as he tried to shield the little girl.
The one fatality was Woods' own brother, a passenger. Woods didn't even remember he was in the car."
Everyone was silent as they digested the information Brown had managed to get.
"Sandy never said a word," Megan commented.
"No, he wouldn't," Jim responded.
The next few minutes were spent in discussion but finally everyone agreed that it was time to take their leave.
Final good-byes and Happy New Years were exchanged and the group trickled out. Simon, again the last to leave found himself looking up at the bedroom.
"Too close tonight, my friend. We almost lost him. On several levels."
"You take care of him, Jim," Simon smiled, "And I mean in every way."
"That's the plan, Simon. That's the plan. Simon, you don't seem very surprised by this....outcome."
"Jim, the handwriting's been on the wall for a very long time. Some sentinel you turned out to be. Happy New Year, Jim."
"Happy New Year, Simon."
Jim stripped down to his shorts and carefully climbed in beside Blair.
"Blair, you should be asleep. Tell me you're asleep."
"Weelll, I'd do anything for Jim, but as he's not here.....".
"Chief, I'm warning you."
A hand travelling down Jim's chest to the elastic band of his shorts belied his words.
"Chief, you *said* you were asleep." The last word came out more as a squeak as the hand had moved considerably lower now.
"Hey, you "know" I always do what you tell me....Ellison says jump and Sandburg says.............you first."
Jim was incapable of an intelligent come back remark at that point. And when Blair leaned over him, his hand still working its magic down below, his hair trailing across Jim's face, Blair's lips next to his ear, his breath caressing the older mans neck, sending more heat down to his cock and Blair's breathy, "Happy New Year", followed by that mouth latching on to his....and the sentinel, getting his first taste of Blair and Blair's tongue.........
'Several' minutes later:
"That was good for me, was it good for you?"
The laughter in his voice was unmistakable.
"Almost lost you tonight."
"Never happen, Jim."
"Gotta learn.....to talk more."
"Oh, yeah, talk, your forte....".
Jim finally got the strength to turn over on his side and look down at Blair.
"It's what *you* do, Chief, and you didn't."
Blair didn't respond immediately, but Jim could see him wince as he tried to turn to him. Jim put one arm under his lover and helped him onto his side. They now faced each other, Jim's arm protectively over Blair.
"You're right Jim, I didn't talk, I should have. I made some assumptions too. I know you Jim, better than anyone I've ever known....".
"Blair, you know me better than *I* know me."
"Yes, I guess I do...and Jim? It's not because you were a scientific subject....you need to know that. From the beginning, finding you, a real sentinel and the kind of man you were...are. I kinda pushed my way into your life, I know that too, but, well, I was obsessed. I wanted so much to be a part of your work.....to help.....and then....I just wanted to be a part of your life....sentinel or no sentinel."
"Was that a declaration?"
"Ummm, yes, I guess it was."
"I love you too. And when I'm not so worried about your stitches, I'll find a more physical way of demonstrating my love."
"Never broke one to you yet, Chief."
"No you haven't. By the way. I was right. This is the good bed."
"Say goodnight, Sandburg."
"I'm *so* not walking into that one."
A few minutes later:
"Good for me. "You're" good for me."