Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

WARNING: This is a little, no, a lot different than the usual stuff I write. Don't ask me where this came from. And don't stop reading until you finish. It's not what it appears. Trust me. But I wanted to experiment and this is what happened. H/C, smarm, blah, blah, blah, more smarm.

Unreality
by Becky
June 1998

Pulling off his glasses, Blair rubbed his eyes for about the fortieth time in the last hour, trying to force the fuzzy spots out of his vision. Guess I need to go see the eye doctor again. Man. And these are new glasses too. Well, the frames are. 'Course I didn't pay for them since Jim was the one who broke the other pair, but still... He could feel the headache behind his eyes and his temples moving back to join the one at the back of his skull. Great. Just what I need. Fuzzy eyesight. Pounding full force headache. Incoherent thought-processing. What a day. Too bad this isn't just a bad dream and I could start the day over. Unfortunately.... He sighed and looked back down at the book in front of him. The words swam in and out of focus without the use of glasses. With another long sigh, he reached for the lenses where he'd laid them next to the book.

The door to his office banged open with a loud thud, slamming into the wall behind it, rattling the shelves. Blair jerked in his seat, rolling the chair back from the desk, eyes wide and stunned as Jim stomped into his office.

A rather angry, rather large, rather imposing Jim.

Well, Jim was always large, at least compared to Blair, but right then.... Right then, Blair swore his partner had grown a foot taller as he came to a halt in front of the desk, towering over him, gun in hand, kevlar vest strapped over his black t-shirt.

"Uh, Jim, is there a problem?"

Jim didn't answer, simply scoured the room with intense eyes. Blair watched with subtle amazement as Jim's nose twitched, as if he was trying to pick up some scent. The larger man walked -- prowled, Blair's mind corrected -- around the boundaries of the small office.

If I didn't know better, I'd swear he's in full hunting mode. But what -- or who -- is he hunting?

Blair cleared his throat, trying again to get his partner's attention. "Jim?" He stood up and stepped carefully around the desk. "Buddy? What's up?"

Still no answer. Just more searching.

Blair took another step toward Jim, reaching out to touch his back. "Jim? Come on, you're starting to scare me here. What's going on?" His hand made contact, and he pressed down, hoping to make his presence known to his partner. "Jim --"

The reaction was suitably intense and bizarre to fit everything else Jim was doing.

Jim whirled, instinctively striking out at the nearest target, which, of course, happened to be the younger, smaller man standing directly behind him. Blair hit the side of his desk with a crash, sliding down to sit on the floor in stunned shock as he raised one shaking hand to touch his face. He could feel a bruise forming on his left cheekbone. Staring up at his crazed partner, he could only manage one thought.

What the hell is going on?

Swallowing, he croaked out, "Jim?"

Jim's eyes finally focused on him -- along with the gun. Blair backed up further, using the desk to slowly push himself to his feet, eyeing the man warily. Odd how I've never noticed how big that thing is. He'd had guns pointed at him before. But never Jim's gun. And never Jim being the one doing the pointing.

Jim hissed out in a dangerously low tone, "Where is he?"

Blair blinked. "What? Who? Where's who? Who are you looking for? What's wrong? Come one, Jim, talk to me." He reached out again, intending to push aside the gun still aimed at him.

Slapping his hand away, the detective stalked forward and grabbed Blair by the front of his shirt, hauling him off his feet. He then turned and slammed him up against the nearest wall, holding the gun under his chin.

"Jim!" Blair froze for half a second, then scrambled for Jim's hands, trying to push the man away. I don't care what's going on. I just want this to stop. Now!

"Where is he?"

"I don't know what you want, Jim, or who you're looking for, but let me go. Right now!"

Jim backed up only long enough to slam him against the wall again, making his head impact with a loud thunk. And then he did it again. And again. Each time asking "Where is he?" louder and louder, with more anger.

"I don't know. Jim, stop! Please!"

"Don't give me that, Sandburg! Talk to me!"

"Jim! Please!"

"Blair!"

"Please stop!"

"Look at me. Open your eyes!"

"Stop! You're hurting me!"

"Blair!"

.........

With a great inhalation of air, Blair jerked forward, unable to see in the cocooning blackness surrounding, gasping desperately for breath. "NO!!!"

Hands held onto his arms, firm but gentle. A soft, deep voice rung in his ears. In the darkness, he moved his head toward the voice, trying to hear the words over the frantic pounding of his heart.

"Sh, sh, it's okay. It was just a dream. You're okay. Just take deep breaths. That's it."

Identifying the soothing voice, Blair whispered, half in hope, half in fear, "J-jim?"

"Yeah, it's me, buddy. Nasty dream?"

"I --" He hesitated, mind still caught mostly in the visions of Jim hurting him. "It's so dark. I can't see anything."

Jim chuckled low as he moved a hand to touch Blair's face, fingertips stroking feather-light over his tightly closed eyelids. "Gotta open your eyes, Chief, if you want to see."

Oh, yeah. Blair slowly opened his eyes, blinking to accustom himself to the soft light in the room -- a hospital room to be precise. "How --?" He glanced down at himself, seeing Jim's hand on his arm. Underneath that hand he could see bruises that traveled up from his forearm to his upper arm. Large hand-sized bruises. He lifted one of his hands to touch his left cheekbone, wincing when his fingers encountered the swollen bruise.

Jim's hand covered his, pulling it down. "Still pretty tender, I imagine."

Blair swallowed and looked at Jim, the vividly horrifying memories of the dream (?) superimposing themselves over the reality of Jim watching him, only concern and compassion in those eyes. "What ... what happened?"

"Maybe you should just get some rest, buddy. We can deal with this in the morning."

Shaking his head, Blair asked again, "What happened? I need to know if what --. I just need to know." I need to know if the dream memories are real.

Sighing Jim stood and shoved another pillow behind Blair's back, then urged him to lay back. Blair inhaled sharply as the bruises on his back made themselves known once again. Jim cringed, moving a hand to lay on Blair's forehead. "I know they hurt, Chief. Just relax. Try not to move and it should be okay."

"Easy for you to say. You're not the one in the hospital bed."

Jim smiled slightly, then settled back into his own chair, keeping one hand on Blair's nearest arm. "What's the last thing you remember?"

Still mostly lost in the most recent memories of the dream, Blair paused, unsure. "I don't know. I think I was in my office, working on some papers or something. Someone came in the office, scared the daylights out of me...."

"Do you remember who?"

Blair didn't answer. It was you, Jim. You! You hurt me. You threatened me with your gun.

Jim took his silence for a 'no' and went on. "It was Maxwell Peters, the gunrunner we've been investigating. He...."

Blair mouthed the name, once in confusion, then in recognition. Abruptly, the true memories of what happened in his office flooded back in relentless torrents.

.........

The door to his office slammed open just as Blair adjusted his glasses and reached for the stack of papers to read and grade. He looked up, expecting one of his more ... emotional ... students, an upset friend, even Jim having a bad day. Instead he saw a very tall, very large man. It took him only a second to identify him as Maxwell Peters -- a gunrunner he and Jim were investigating. He'd never met the man, but one look at his picture during the original briefing and Blair had known he would never forget that snarl. Or that scar on the right side of his face.

Or the fact that he liked to carry really big guns -- like the one he currently had pointing at Blair.

Oh man.

Peters stomped across the small room, throwing the door shut behind him, rattling the shelves as it bounced hard into the doorframe. Blair backed up his chair, one hand reaching behind him for his backpack where it hung on the side of his chair. His cellphone was inside and Blair knew from experience how to speed dial Jim without looking. And what does that say about your life, Sandburg? That maybe it's too dangerous or some such thing? He swallowed, fingers reaching for the zipper of the pack. Don't think about that now. Just hope that Jim realizes it's you calling and not some joker.

Peters leaned forward on the desk, both hands flat on the paper-covered surface, the gun resting under one palm. "All right, Sandburg, I know you work with Ellison."

Blair pasted a smile on his face. "Ellison? I don't --"

"Don't play games with me, shorty. You're Ellison's partner, some kind of observer or something. So don't go lying to me. I really hate it when people lie to me."

Feeling the cellphone under his fingers, Blair worked at opening it, hoping he could hit the right buttons on the first try. Dialing the Chinese takeout place wouldn't help him. And Simon might not have the patience to listen long enough to tell what was going on. Something about calling directly into his office annoyed the man. Just as his fingers were finding the speed dial code, Peters reached across the desk and grabbed him by the shirt, hauling him out of the chair. Blair's fingers slipped off the buttons before he could punch in Jim's number. Damn! Disturbed by both Blair's hand and Peters' yank, the phone slipped from the open backpack and hit the ground with a loud clatter.

Peters looked at it, then at Blair. Blair raised his hands, laughing nervously. "Oops?"

The larger man growled and hauled the student around the desk and slammed him up against a nearby wall, forcing the air from his lungs in a loud oof. His glasses flew from his face and crashed onto the floor. Another pair bites the dust.

"Hey, watch it! What do you want, man?"

"I want to know where Arnold Weller is. And I want to know now."

Blair blinked. Arnold Weller, a former flunky of Peters, had agreed to testify against him in exchange for a lighter sentence. Obviously, Peters was not too pleased. At the moment, Weller was under protected custody by the police to prevent this very thing from happening. Well, not this very thing, otherwise Jim wouldn't have let me leave for the U this afternoon from the station.

Peters pulled Blair up to his level until their faces were mere inches apart. An hysterical thought chose that moment to pop into his head. Man, this feels vaguely familiar. Didn't I already do this scene a couple years ago? Someone needs to check the script writers -- they're repeating themselves.

"I asked you a question, hippie. Where is Weller?"

"I don't know, man. They didn't tell me. They don't ever tell me those kind of things. I'm not a cop, you know."

If anything, that statement only made Peters madder. He lifted Blair and slammed him against the wall again. Blair winced as his head impacted with a hard thud. "Hey, c'mon, what's knocking me around gonna accomplish? I said I don't know anything."

"And I don't believe you." He slammed Blair back again. "And even if you don't know anything, this makes me feel better." He shifted to bring his gun up under Blair's chin. "Now, I'll ask you again. Slowly. So you understand. Where is Arnold Weller?"

Blair forced out between gritted teeth, "I told you I don't know." Peters cocked the gun and Blair closed his eyes, trying to control the panic threatening at the edges of his mind. Now is not the time to lose it, Sandburg. Surely someone out there is hearing this and called campus security.

His head was smacked against the wall again and he bit the inside of his cheek to keep from crying out. It hurt! And so did his back -- he could almost feel the bruises developing. Great, just great. I probably have a concussion by now as well. Just another day in my oh-so-lucky life.

Peters abruptly pulled away and Blair dropped the intervening space -- a foot -- to the floor, landing hard and unbalanced, going to his knees. He looked up to find Peters gun pointing at him, the muzzle resting on his forehead. The man grinned malevolently down at him. "One last chance, boy. You tell me what I want to know and maybe I'll let you live. If not...." He shrugged. "Let's just say Ellison will have to get a new partner."

"Well, that's certainly original. What movie did you pick that up from?" The words were out before Blair could censor them. When are you going to learn not to antagonize the bad guys, Sandburg?

Peters turned a most interesting shade of angry red, yanked his hand away, then hit Blair hard across his left cheek with the gun. The blow knocked him clear off his knees and onto the ground, crumbling under the force. Blair shook his head, trying to think past the pain, past the colors of varying shades fading in and out of his vision. He heard Peters at some distance saying that it was 'goodbye time' and tensed for shot he knew would come.

But it didn't.

Instead he heard the most wonderful voice he knew echoing inside the small office.

Jim.

Blair slumped onto the floor, instinctively pulling himself against the wall when he heard the sound of fighting, of yelling. Holding onto his head with both hands, he wanted to open his eyes, see who was winning, see that Jim was winning. But he couldn't manage to lift his head from the ground. Couldn't manage to get his eyes to open, to focus. The noise stopped and Blair tensed again, wondering what he would hear or feel next.

Large hands touched his shoulders, turning him, lifting him. Gentle hands. Hands that were familiar and comfort-giving. A voice came along with those hands, one he tried to listen to, to focus on.

"Blair? Buddy? You okay?"

"mmm-hmm"

A soft chuckle, then a gentle tug at his own hands where they were clasped around his head. "Come on, Chief, let me see. I only want to check to be sure you're okay."

He relaxed, letting Jim examine his skull. He forced out a few words in between winces. "gonna fall off"

"Your head?"

"yeah"

Another chuckle, a pat on his uninjured cheek. "I don't think you're in danger of that. A headache, yes. Lot of pain medicine, yes. And even a visit to your favorite medical facility."

"no, don't wanna go to hospital"

"Sorry, Chief, you don't have a choice. Stay awake for me, okay?"

"'kay" Jim shifted, removing his hands, and Blair opened his eyes, reaching for the blur he knew was Jim. "no, don't go, please, stay" His hand latched onto something he quickly identified as a kevlar vest. He curled his fingers around it, refusing to let go.

"Just getting comfortable here while we wait for the medics, Blair. Hold on a moment." Jim gently disengaged Blair's fingers, but didn't let go of his hand while he moved.

Blair felt a warmth at his side as Jim settled onto the floor next to him. Then he pulled Blair over to him, encouraging him to lean on him, wrapping an arm cautiously around his back. With the other hand, he ran sensitive fingers over Blair's bruised cheek once before sliding his hand down to rest on Blair's nearest arm, rubbing his forearm with firm strokes. Sighing, Blair closed his eyes, feeling safe next to his protector.

Jim jiggled him a little. "Stay awake, buddy."

"'m awake"

"Good, stay that way until the doctors say otherwise."

"mmm-hmm"

.........

Blair jerked back into the present when Jim called his name. He looked up to find Jim standing over him, frantic concern evident on his face.

"Chief? Are you okay? You seemed a little out of it there for a few moments."

"I was ... I was remembering what happened in my ... in my office. Jim...." He curled both arms around his torso, hugging himself.

Jim quickly lowered the side rails and sat down on the edge of the bed. He reached out and grasped Blair's upper arms, squeezing them. "Hey, hey, you're okay. You're fine."

"He was gonna....he came so close to...."

Jim changed from simply gripping Blair's arms to tugging his whole body forward. Blair followed the gentle directions willingly, shuddering with the impact of the real memories of pain and fright, plus the horror of his dream. Pressing his head into Jim's chest, he shivered in relief as Jim's soothing voice calmed him. Hands petted down his hair, lingering with a barely noticeable touch on his upper back. Blair could feel the warmth of him through the thin hospital gown and moved closer, greedily soaking it into his chilled body and soul, fastening his fingers into Jim's shirt. He felt Jim rest his cheek on the top of his head, rocking him slightly.

"Sh, sh, you're okay. Just relax. I've got you."

Time passed by without much notice from either of them. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, none of it mattered. Blair simply hung onto the sound of Jim's voice, the feel of his hands, the warmth of his body as his heart slowed to a more natural beat and his breathing went from frantic gasping to normal inhalations. And Jim just held on to him, rocking him, talking quietly to him.

Blair heard the door open to the room and stiffened, shaking his head once against Jim's chest before Jim even had a chance to ask. No. I don't want to see any doctors, nurses, or anyone else. Just make them go away, Jim, please. He ignored the quiet argument that flowed between Jim and the night nurse, letting Jim handle it, knowing he would get rid of her. Which he did. The door slid shut again, blocking out the noise of the halls and they were alone again.

"Okay, Chief, she's gone. How you doing?"

"Better. Thanks."

A hand slid across his back, nimbly avoiding the worst of the bruises. "Any time."

"How long....?"

"How long have you been here, you mean? Most of the night. You have a concussion, buddy, not a bad one, but enough that the doc wanted to keep you here for awhile. They've been in here every hour, poking you awake. This is the first time you've been real coherent though."

"No wonder I feel so tired." He slumped against Jim, his hands relaxing their hold on Jim's shirt. After a moment, Jim lowered him back down to the bed. But he didn't move, just sat on the edge, one hand resting on Blair's arm. Blair stared up at him, then said, "Thanks for stopping Peters."

Jim's smile vanished for a moment. "I'm just sorry I didn't get there sooner. He lost his tails halfway to the University and I realized too late that he was heading for you. I tried to reach you to warn you, but your cellphone line was busy."

Blair yawned. "Actually, I was trying to call you. You must've called when I had the speed dial half-done. But you got there in time. That's all that matters."

Nodding, Jim reached up and smoothed a lock of Blair's hair away from his face. "Going after you was a big mistake. Simon had Peters tossed in a holding cell before he'd even really woke up yet. He ain't going nowhere anytime soon."

"Good."

Jim was silent a moment, then he looked down at his lap a moment. "In your dream, your nightmare just now, you were ... you were calling out to me, telling me to stop, telling me that I was ... that I was hurting you. Blair..."

Blair pushed himself up again, ignoring the twinges in his back and head. Jim looked up and reached out instinctively to help him, holding him by the arms until he was balanced. Pausing only a moment to gather his thoughts, Blair touched Jim's chest, just above his heart. "Jim, you told me I have a concussion. Concussions do funny things to the brain. I was remembering the attack in the office. And, yes, I saw you."

Jim flinched, looking away. "Blair, I would never hurt you. You know that."

"Yes, I do know that. So does my heart. So does my head. But I was hurting and injured and lost inside my messed-up brain. I was confused. It doesn't mean anything. It was just a dream, a nightmare, a little piece of unreality that tried to get me to believe that it was the truth. But it didn't work. I know the real truth, Jim. And so do you."

Slowly, Jim moved to meet Blair's eyes, searching those blue depths for the real truth. Blair flattened his hand out and felt the soft beat of his friend's heart under his palm even as Jim smiled that soft, gentle, 'happy' smile that spoke so much with no words needed. Jim lifted a hand and wrapped it around Blair's hand, pulling it from his chest and squeezing it.

"Yeah. The real truth." The moment stretched out for a long time, then Jim's smile turned into a grin. "The real truth is that you, my friend, the one with the messed-up brain, need to rest."

Blair rolled his eyes. "I'm gonna regret saying that, aren't I?"

"Probably." Jim carefully lowered Blair back to the bed surface, then stood, fussing with the blankets, pulling them up to the younger man's chin. Blair just watched, partially amused, mostly touched, all the way comforted at Jim's hidden caring nature, still wondering at times how he had been chosen to receive it.

After raising the side rails again, Jim smoothed a hand over Blair's forehead, whispering, "Go to sleep, Sandburg. I don't think those eyelids of yours are gonna take 'no' for an answer any longer."

Blair chuckled low, letting said heavy eyelids close. "I know." He heard Jim settle into the chair next to him, then a hand come up to rest on his arm, patting it once.

"Sleep. I'll be here keeping watch, making sure those unwelcome unrealities keep to themselves and away from us."

"Thanks, Jim."

"You're welcome, kid." Blair was asleep before Jim even spoke. "You are very much welcome."

- The End -


Author's note: Yeah, so I let myself be pulled into the (as Robyn calls it) generic formula of Blair getting hurt and Jim comforting him. Doesn't everybody have to do one of those eventually? :-) And, yes, there is more smarm in this than I was orginally planning, but you do what the muse tells you, right?