By sharilyn

EMAIL: sharilyn

Summary: Blair awakes, tag for BMB

On some level deeper than thought, far from normal workaday cognition, he felt Jim's presence. Long before he understood what--or who--it was that he was sensing, the knowing hovered there, tantalizingly just out of reach, where it remained for an indeterminate period of time. For where he was, time didn't really seem to matter...until slowly, gradually, it did. Did begin to matter, seguing with glacial slowness from some amorphous, meaningless blur into a shaky, uncertain outline of something much more real and solid, something with increasingly delineated, corporeal, PAINFUL borders drawing him up from the fathomless depths of nothingness. He became aware of his own corporeality, of the terrible, crushing weight of his own body pressed deep, deep into the center of an unforgiving earth, its unyielding ground transforming ever so gradually into the softer cushioning of a mattress--a bed?--beneath his exhausted, hurting body. And as his disorientated, amnesiac brain struggled to make sense of the steadily increasing influx of information flooding into its disused neurons, the sense of that presence that was not himself--that was outside himself and yet so undeniably still a part of him--remained a constant, stabilizing thrum of awareness somewhere in the background.

I know this, he thought muzzily to himself; I KNOW what/who this is. Nothing else now, no certainty anywhere of anything more, but I know THIS. Him. I know...

And then the soft, calming vibrations of someone speaking, the ceaseless litany of comforting words and sounds that meant something in the waking world but meant only the promise of redemption and remembrance here, washed gently over him and gradually brought a face, a name, into the murky foreground of his struggling thoughts. JIM. The sounds, the voice, the words--they all belonged to Jim, and if Jim was nearby then he knew who he himself was, what he was, knew he was Blair and that something totally craptacular must have happened but he was alive, he was breathing, he could hear Jim and FEEL him and that meant everything was probably going to be all right. And even if it wasn't, Jim would make it be all right, wouldn't he?

Not a superman, Chief, he thought/imagined he heard his best friend murmur ruefully to him now, and he imagined snorting brief, disbelieving laughter in response but knew he hadn't really laughed aloud because something was in his throat, something was choking him, forcing cool, plastic, medicated-tasting air down into his lungs and it hurt, all of him hurt and he thought he'd done something really stupid, maybe even really bad and it might be nice just to sink back into oblivion, to withdraw from the warm, strong presence hovering all around him and forget again...

But his body wanted its say now, wanted to protest the ignoble treatment it was receiving from the uncomfortable feel of tubing and needles and machines beeping monotonously and was that tape sticking painfully to his mouth, tape from some sort of tube pressing down his tongue and lodged deep down his throat...God, what did I do, what the hell happened to me?! his mind cried out in sudden shock and fear, and for an instant everything fled but that cold, bitter rush of panic that set all the boring, beeping machines to shrieking wildly, like all the furies of hell lamenting the loss of this soul they'd tried to claim.

And as his body began weakly to fight, his heart pounding out its terrible fear and the desperate need to escape this, Blair felt again the sense of that presence--of JIM--latching onto him and pulling him back from the edge of the abyss, strong but gentle hands manifesting their warm touch on his arms and his upper chest, rubbing and stroking in soothing tandem with the voice that was urging him to come back to me, Chief, come on back, you're alive and awake and in the hospital and you're gonna be fine, so just relax, I've got you now...

And Blair wanted to tell him: yes, you do; you always have my back, Jim, always. But he couldn't speak, couldn't breathe, so he forced his eyes to open, prying apart gummy lids through sheer strength of will to find the blurry, gently smiling oval of Jim's face looming over him; and other hands were suddenly there, other beings working him over, moving him, removing the awful, choking tube, sitting him up and patting him briskly on the back as his poor, abused body shook and gagged and coughed up foul sputum while the world revolved in a sickening blur all around him. But through it all Jim's hand stayed curled lightly, lovingly, around his upper left bicep and his voice never stopped, his words of comfort and support and welcome spilling nonstop and driving away the last of the fear and pain and disorientation. And when the medical people had settled Blair safely back against his stiff, starchy pillow and he'd had a tiny, excruciatingly wonderful sip of water and had endured a quick listen to his heart from a chilly stethoscope, Blair Sandburg looked into the curiously fixed and empty eyes of his partner and remembered the Golden--remembered it all, right up to the pizza and the surreal, terrifying visions and a gun and screams and the cold, gasoline-laden air of the parking garage. And it wasn't for himself that sudden, hot tears filled his eyes as Jim leaned in close, his large hands wrapping snugly around Blair's pale, shaky hand; as Jim's sightless eyes beamed happily in Blair's general direction, Blair was crushed by the realization that not all of his drugged hallucinations had been just that--hallucinations.

"Jim--" he began brokenly, fingers turning and digging and curling with abject apology into the warm, happy clasp of Jim's fingers in return. "Your eyes..." But Jim merely shook his head and smiled, those devastatingly blue orbs softening with affection as he murmured, "S'okay, Chief; just like you, they're taking their sweet time coming back online. But they're getting there, they're getting there. We're both going to be fine, you hear me? Everything's good."

And as Jim's strong but gentle clasp on his hand briefly tightened to transmit his sincerity, Blair felt himself relax into the other man's touch, his own eyes growing wet with emotion as he choked out a hoarse assent.

"Yeah, Jim...s'gonna be fine," he heard himself whisper, and the approving grin Jim sent his way almost had him believing it.

The End~