by Chris J. Ueberall
Pairing: Jim Ellison/Blair Sandburg
Summary: Jim remembers what happened in 'Dead Drop'.
Notes: First published in "Come to Your Senses 28", a 'The Sentinel' slash zine from Agent With Style.
(Post – “Dead Drop”)
I woke up, my heart racing, my fingers clasping the sheets. Breathe! I told myself. Breathe. In—out, in—out. Calm down.
When my heart stopped beating in a staccato rhythm, I listened to the noises around me. Did I wake my roommate? No, I didn't. I could hear his breathing, his heartbeat. For the moment he was sound asleep. I dearly hoped it would stay that way or neither of us would be any good in the morning.
It was the fourth time I had awoken during the night. Two times, it was Sandburg having a nightmare, and now it was me again. I thought about getting up — not that I had any idea what I'd do then — but I was afraid to wake up Blair, so I stayed put.
Parts of my dream came back to me: me looking at the screen, Blair looking up at the surveillance camera, his voice a mixture of anger and fright as he tried to reach Wilson, tried to make that I-am-rich-and-I-stick-to-my-principles-no-matter-what guy see that this wasn't about soulless money, but about people.
I closed my eyes to get rid of the picture, but instead found myself back in that control room, feeling utterly helpless and scared beyond measure that I would never again see Blair's face full of life, only inches away from mine, never again hear his voice without a phone held to my ear.
I couldn't stand it. I threatened Wilson with the media and then I was out of the room. I had to leave or I'd have lost it. I shut the door behind me, not sure what to do next, my hearing still attuned to the voices behind me.
I heard Wilson say something like "What's the matter with him?" and then Simon's answer: "I’ll tell you. That's his friend in there, and if you cared half as much for your daughter, maybe this whole thing would be over."
I almost choked on the emotions welling up in me. Simon had no idea how much I cared for Blair. I wasn't sure I had been aware of the depth of my feelings myself, but then — standing in a corridor, not far away from my partner, yet unable to reach him, unable to help him — then I knew.
When my hearing seemed to tune itself down without me doing anything and I couldn't see clearly all of a sudden, everything getting blurred somehow, I knew I had to get away, find some isolated place and get myself under control again. So I took off, ran down the corridor, around some corners and then threw myself to the ground, panting as if I had run a mile or more. I tried to relax, tried the breathing exercises Sandburg had taught me, but it didn't work.
Without conscious thought I pulled out my cell phone and called Blair's.
It was strange how he managed with one word what the whole relaxation technique hadn't been able to do.
"Chief?" My voice nearly broke on his nickname. I didn't know what to say so I stayed silent, my hearing automatically tuning in to the sound of Blair's breathing.
"Jim, you all right?"
He spoke softly, and I doubt that anyone in that elevator heard him. Yet I couldn't miss his worry. I almost laughed, but stopped myself in time, too scared it would turn into a sob.
"Isn't that my line, Chief?"
"Nope. It's a free line. Anyone can take it up."
I could almost see his grin, and somehow it seemed as if a heavy weight was lifted from my chest. I guess it's because I felt so suddenly light-hearted that what was on my mind slipped out of my mouth so easily.
"I love you, Chief," I said, not feeling ashamed or even embarrassed by the fact.
I heard him swallow heavily, then take a deep breath. "Man, that's so not fair." There was laughter in his voice. "You're only saying that because I'm stuck in this elevator and you're safe somewhere out there. And I can't react to you the way I want. You'd never say it if I was standing right in front of you."
"You're probably right." I grinned. It was a stupid, sloppy kind of grin, but I didn't care. "I'll deny it when you're out of this mess, of course. And you have no witness, buddy."
"Why am I not surprised?" The amusement was still there, but there was earnestness, too, as he added, "It's good to know, anyway. And it's mutual. I hope you know that."
It was my turn to swallow. "Yes, I know."
In the background I could hear the woman with the broken ankle cry. It broke the spell between me and Blair, and helped me focus again on the problem we were facing. It angered me that she had to suffer because of some money-craving bastard, and I wished dearly to get my hands around that maniac's neck. But first I had to find him.
"I have to go now, Chief, and find a way to get you out of there," I said, already rising to my feet. "Hold on, okay?"
"Okay. I'll wait. I'm not going anywhere." He tried for cheerfulness and failed.
"I'll call again," I promised, walking back to the control room.
"Do that," he replied, then closed the line.
The conversation had calmed and centered me enough to actually form a plan. It wasn't my fault that it didn't work out. Who would have thought that the bastard had put C4 on top of the elevator and even planted a bomb inside of it?
I can still hear Sandburg singing the Macarena, trying to disguise the sounds of our rescue attempt, and feel myself hanging onto that elevator as it dropped five floors.
It was that feeling of falling that woke me up this time. I guess it's not something you can forget so easily. I try not to think about how Blair must be feeling. The bastard dropped him what... three, four times? He'll probably take the stairs for the rest of his life. Then again, he's strong enough to get over it. He's the strongest person I know — myself included.
Um, what? Oh. Seems I fell asleep again, but what woke me...? Blair! He's thrashing around, probably a nightmare again.
"Chief, shush. It's all right. Calm down. Everything's all right. Easy, buddy."
"Chief. Easy. It's all right. Just open your eyes, come on, look at me."
Still caught in your dream, aren't you, love? "Home. Loft. My bed. You and me, remember?" God, he looks so young, so handsome. And I'm imitating his speech pattern. Great.
"Yes. Everything's all right. You just had a bad dream, that's all."
I can almost see the wheels turning, Chief. Memory's rushing back, right?
"Did I wake you?"
Okay. It was worth a try, though. “Let's just say it's not a night for sleeping."
"You, too, man?"
Yeah, me, too, buddy, me, too. “A penny for your thoughts, Chief."
"Uh? Oh. I thought about getting up, making some tea, and then maybe we'd talk."
Talk? We probably should, love, but I'm not sure I'm ready. Not sure you are, either. "But? I do hear a big 'but' at the end, Sandburg." I love that smile, even if it's more a yawn right now.
"...But my eyes won't stay open, man. Think I'll try sleeping once more."
"Do that, love. You earned it." Big time.
"Do't t'morrow, 'kay?"
"Okay." The day's really worn you out, hasn't it? Not to mention me. "Sleep now. I'm here." I'll always be here, Blair, as long as you can stand me.
There he sleeps now. My Guide, my friend. The kid — no, not a kid — the handsome young man who got under my skin and into my heart. My lover. My partner. My life. Pathetic, isn't it, Ellison? But true, so very true.
It's still vivid in my mind, the moment when the bomb went off. The explosion shook the whole building, and it didn't take Sentinel senses to know what had happened.
The bomb — the elevator — Blair!
I was holding the damned bomber right then, and I think I asked him how he would like to drop 30 floors. Not very cool, not very professional, but deadly earnest. If I had been able to consciously control my movements right then, that bastard would have made a dive out of a window, but shock held me in place.
The next minutes after that, there's only a gap in my memory. I don't remember the rest of the squad moving in, taking my prisoner and his wounded brother away, or me walking away from the hassle and sinking down in one corner of that room.
All I know is that at some point I found myself sitting on the cold ground, looking without seeing, listening without hearing. It was strange. I didn't really zone, because I never remember anything from those zones. But I do remember how I felt then. I even remember what happened and what was said, not that it meant anything at the time.
I stared ahead and watched the world being drained of its colors. My ears picked up noises, but no tones. There were no smells in the air, no tastes, and I didn't feel anything, only a lethal numbness that slowly spread through my whole being.
Simon found me then, shook my shoulder, talked to me. I can actually remember everything he did, even what he said. He told me that Blair was alive, that he threw the bomb out of the elevator, that he was all right and quite the hero. I heard, but I didn't understand. Although those words were exactly what I wanted to hear, they had no impact on me, since the voice speaking them wasn't the one I longed for.
Realizing that his efforts were wasted on me, Simon called Blair on the cell phone and quietly explained the situation, then he held the phone to my ear.
"Jim? You there, man? Do you hear me? It's Blair, Jim. I'm alive, do you hear me?"
I heard, yet I didn't react.
"Jim! Listen to me. You have to come back, you have to breathe. Are you listening to me, Jim? Answer me, man!"
Suddenly the world was filled with sounds again. The voice of my Guide, though distorted through the line, seemed like a wonderful melody floating through the ether. I tuned into it and followed it right down to a well-known rhythm...Blair's heartbeat, strong and vital.
“Jim? Jim, talk to me! Are you all right, man? Jim!"
"Blair?" It seemed like a major task to get a word around the lump in my throat. "Chief?" Although focused on his heartbeat as well as his breathing, I still didn't really believe that he was alive.
"Yeah. It's me. I'm all right, I swear, big guy. I'm alive and more than ready to leave this place. How about you?"
"Me?" Dizzy with relief, I had problems following the conversation.
"Are you all right, Jim?" The worry in his voice cut through the haze.
"No," I answered truthfully. "But I will be." I swallowed. "I will be."
"Good, man." I could hear his smile clearly in his tone. "I wish I were with you right now, Jim. This situation really sucks."
"I second that, Chief. All of it. But we're stuck with it."
"Oh man, that was low, Jim." His laughter warmed my soul.
"Ehm, Jim ..."
Surprised, I looked up at my boss, I had forgotten him completely even though he was standing very close, still holding his cell phone to my ear, not very comfortably.
"I have to go, Blair. Talk to you later, okay?"
"Okay. You know my number. See you soon."
With that, the connection was broken. Sighing, Simon straightened up, his eyes never leaving my face. I realized that I had been crying, probably for some time, but I couldn't care less.
"You all right, Jim?" Simon asked softly, obviously not sure how to deal with me, though I didn't get the feeling that he was embarrassed or shocked, just surprised, I guess.
"I will be," I repeated, then amended, "Yes. Yes, I am, Simon."
I know I smiled, because he smiled right back at me and then extended a hand to pull me to my feet. I grabbed it gratefully.
"I have to go downstairs. Will you be ..."
I didn't let him finish. "I just need a minute."
He looked at me, then nodded. "Take your time."
Alone, I went to a window and looked over the city. Senseless questions were running through my mind. Was it me, or was Cascade the most dangerous city in America? And was it a Sentinel thing or was it a natural development that I fell in love with a neo-hippy witch... with Blair Sandburg? And did it matter one way or the other?
I collected myself eventually and even found a bathroom to make myself decent again. All in all, I was pretty much my normal self when I finally went downstairs to meet Simon and Taggert. I had a vague idea of what I'd do when Blair was released from the elevator, something like hugging him and standing very close for a while — close enough to feel him without needing to actually touch him. But when I joined the rescue party, it was clear that our reunion wouldn't come to pass within the next minutes because that damned C4 had to be dislodged extremely carefully.
As time went by, my imagination turned my vague idea into a full grown vision and I realized that I had to get a grip on my feelings or my life would take a rough turn upside down.
Lost in thought, I wandered around the empty corridor — as much for privacy as out of boredom — until the ringing of my cell phone nearly gave me a heart attack.
"Blair! How are you?"
"Still stuck in here and getting very anxious to get out."
"Why? Did something happen?" He didn't sound frightened, so I didn't worry too much.
"What happens if I need to pee, man?"
"Guess you'll just have to swallow it, Chief," I advised, making sure that he heard my amusement.
"That's so not funny." But he chuckled nevertheless. "How much longer, Jim?"
"I don't know. I'm not exactly on top of things."
"You're telling me you're not with the rescue team? Why not?" I could tell from the pitch of his voice that he was afraid my senses were off-line again or something like that. Always the Guide, always worrying over his Sentinel.
"Relax, Chief, I'm fine. Just needed time to think."
"About what we talked about earlier?" he wanted to know, hitting the mark as if he'd read my mind.
"Do you regret telling me?" I could hear his breathing pattern change.
"But I lied."
"No!" He didn't shout, but I winced at the sharp tone, anyway. "I can understand that you won't say it when anyone is near. I even accept it if you deny ever having said it, but don't say you lied! Don't take it back, man, please. That hurts so much. I..."
"Hold it, Chief," I interrupted him, shocked at the pain in his words. "Maybe 'lied' was a poor choice of words. How about ‘I have to redefine what I said’?"
His breath caught. "Redefine? How?"
"I'm in love with you, Blair."
"Did you hear me? Do you understand what ..."
"Yes. I heard. Do you really mean it? Are you sure?"
"I wouldn't say it otherwise."
"No, no, you wouldn't." A long pause, and then: "But you'll deny any of it when I'm out of here, right?"
"I won't deny anything. But I'll act as normally as I can, probably almost uncaring." I had to warn him, make sure he understood my position.
"Not even a hug?" I could tell from his voice that he was still processing what I was saying and what I was implying.
"But why?" His voice, never really raised, dropped to a low whisper, meant only for Sentinel ears. "It wouldn't seem strange or unmanly. I mean, I'm your partner, and I was nearly killed. Surely a hug's acceptable?"
"It might be, but that's not the point."
"So what is?"
"It wouldn't be only a hug. It would be a tight embrace." All of a sudden, I felt bold, and I couldn't wait any longer to tell him exactly how I felt.
"I might not find the strength to let go again." His heart sped up at my confession.
"That would look odd after a while, I guess." He swallowed. "Would we just stand there?"
"For some time, and then it would get really embarrassing."
"Because I'd strip you and touch you everywhere, make sure everything's there, that nothing's lost due to the explosion, no wounds."
"That sounds like a good idea. You'll be very thorough, won't you?"
"Very." We were both slightly turned on by then, and I knew I had to stop it before it got out of hand. "But I'll wait until we're home, because I don't want to be distracted when I do this. And with a hall full of policemen, someone is bound to distract me."
"I guess I'll have to be patient, then?"
"We both will."
"But as soon as we're home ..."
"You'll get your hug."
"And as soon as I'm out of here, we'll be heading straight for the loft, right, man?"
He breathed deeply. "Okay, I can do that."
"You don't know what 'normal' means, Sandburg," I commented, slipping back into the usual routine with astonishing ease.
"Wait ‘til I'm out of here!" he threatened. "I'll give you 'normal,' big guy!"
"I'm already shaking." I grinned. It wasn't exactly true, but, inside, my guts were shivering with anticipation.
I heard a bang through the phone and then Blair's explanation: "Seems the bomb squad’s finally finished, Jim. We're getting out."
"I'll wait in the lobby."
"Okay. Be with you in a minute, Jim. Bye."
It took more than a minute, of course. Actually more than 20 minutes — but who was counting? When he bounced down the lobby, there was nothing unusual about him. He didn't even seem stressed by the whole incident. I was impressed. And very proud to have him as a partner.
I stopped myself just in time before my arm went around his shoulder. It was hard, but I managed it, saying something about him taking the stairs when he took that 'lucky charm' thing back. He just grinned at me. We were perfectly normal until we got to the car, then I broke all traffic rules driving home. Luckily, traffic was slow, and no uniforms were around.
As soon as the loft's door closed behind us, I made good on my promise. I took Blair in my arms and held on as if he was my lifeline — and, of course, that's exactly what he is.
I don't know how we got to the bathroom, though I remember the shower clearly. My memory of how we got up the stairs to my bedroom is also hazy, but everything we did there is branded in my mind for all times.
He's incredible and beautiful. And all mine.
Uh-oh. That wasn't exactly bright, James. Now there's no chance of getting any more sleep tonight. Not that there's much left of the night, anyway. Only an hour before the alarm. Guess I should get up and do some washing up or something. Not that I want to, but lying here isn't actually accomplishing anything. If Blair was awake, okay, but ...
Oh. Guess he's awake. "Yes?"
"Make love to me?"
And up — at least half way.
"With pleasure, love." Where do I start? His mouth, of course. Then his neck, then slowly down his chest to... "Blair!"
That particular look of innocence will never fool me again, Chief. "I love you." Lovely devil.
"Love you, too."
I know, and thank God for that.
© 12 April 1999