Category: drama, angst
Rating: maybe R for violence and some language
Summary: When Blair tries to defend the helpless, he might have to pay for his kindness with his life.
"You don't have to do this, you know; it doesn't have to be this way." Blair's voice was low as he talked to the man standing directly in front of him, his tone simultaneously soothing and calm--remarkably calm considering the current situation. At his back the anthropologist-cum-police-observer could feel the agitated plucking of Mrs. Eloise Wagner's frail, geriatric fingers at his coat as she moaned once, softly, and struggled to stay upright on legs made weak and wobbly from a combination of blood loss and fear. He'd managed to cut her once already, this nutjob with God knew what agenda seething in his disturbed mind; even with the alarming amount of blood staining the elderly woman's long-sleeved blouse, Blair didn't think the slash on her arm was life-threatening, and he certainly wasn't going to give the man with the knife another chance to finish the grisly job he'd apparently just started when Blair had come around the street corner and caught him in the act.
"He's going to kill me, young man," the woman who called herself Eloise Wagner murmured huskily now against Blair's left arm, her horrified words barely audible to her would-be rescuer over the frenetic, pounding rush of blood in Blair's ears.
"No, he isn't, ma'am," Blair murmured comfortingly back at her, one hand sliding surreptitiously behind him in a wordless bid for Mrs. Wagner to take it and perhaps draw some measure of strength from the warm pressure of his fingers around her own, ice-cold digits. He wished he could send her away, wished he could urge her to run to safety while he stayed behind to distract the maniac menacing the both of them; but there was nowhere for her to run to here, no conveniently open shops at this early hour. And Blair sincerely doubted the elderly woman had the stamina to get very far, anyway, not at the alarming rate she was still losing blood.
"SHUT UP! You just shut up, you don't know NOTHING about this!" the infuriated man with the knife was screaming at Blair now, a fine spray of spittle flying from his mouth as he took a menacing half-step forward and swiped the bloody blade he held in one hand in a whistling arc a scant six inches in front of Blair's pale, sweat-sheened face.
"All right, it's all right..." Blair murmured softly to the woman behind him as Mrs. Wagner cried out in terror, both hands crushing the hand Blair had just offered her as she instinctively pressed herself more tightly against him, trying to shield herself behind the dubious protection Blair's body presented. And even though his heart was thudding mercilessly--its rhythm so frantic he was sure the organ was about to burst through his chest--Blair forced himself to stand very still and to refrain from flinching at the alarming proximity of the deadly weapon glinting before him in the sunlight, its blade dripping crimson drops of Eloise Wagner's blood onto the cracked sidewalk at Blair's feet.
"Move, and I won't kill you," the deranged maniac growled now at Blair, the pupils of his dark brown eyes dilated so wildly that the brown of his irises seemed just a narrow ring surrounding twin oceans of black. "It's the old crow I want, just her; get out of the way now, and you won't get hurt."
"I can't do that, man," Blair replied quietly, his eyes never leaving the other man's enraged face as Mrs. Wagner began to pray softly behind him, her voice trembling and hitching as she fought back hysterical tears. God, I hope she doesn't have a heart condition, Blair found himself thinking absently as he struggled to pull fresh air into lungs seemingly frozen by shock and fear; shit, what in the world could this sweet old lady have possibly done to make this raving lunatic want to kill her? And me now, as well, a voice intoned ominously from somewhere inside his head as the berserk attacker looming before him let out an infuriated roar and slashed the knife's wicked, eight-inch blade in a deadly plunge aimed directly at Blair's unprotected chest.
With a worldless bellow of mingled shock and fear, Blair stumbled wildly backward, his free arm flailing helplessly forward in a futile attempt to push the knife away from his vital organs as Mrs. Wagner let out a corresponding shriek of horror right behind him and simultaneously tugged backward on Blair's other arm with surprising force, her frail body tottering and stumbling as Blair's much heavier bulk slammed into her, pushing her back with a force faster and stronger than her shaky legs could accomodate. As the madman before him gave a wild scream of triumph and lunged forward, Blair felt his mind shutting down in numbed shock, his senses veering wildly all over the map as he was assailed both front and back by both victim and attacker, his body and Mrs. Wagner's hitting the sidewalk beneath them with bruising force as the nightmare creature assaulting them pressed his attack.
"She's got to die, don't you see? Damn you, you stupid faggot, you have no right keeping me from my duty!" the nameless man roared, his brutishly strong features contorted in a paroxysm of utter rage as he flung himself at the helplessly writhing figures on the ground. "She killed him, she's the murderer of our lord and savior, I saw her do it, I saw her..."
And then everything seemed to slow down, the deceptively sane and cheerful world of moments ago shifting on its axis into some dark, twilit nether region of Hell as Blair tried to protect Mrs. Wagner from the blade slicing through the air, tried simultaneously to turn his own flesh and bone and muscle to impervious steel before the vicious onslaught of a crazy man's frenzied blade. But he knew he'd failed, knew he was done for and most definitely was not a super hero as the first sharp, bright-hot flashes of pain sizzled along myriad nerve endings from his body to his brain, letting Blair know that he'd been cut, probably more than once. And the bastard wasn't stopping, the sick psycho was laughing and spewing foul globules of phlegm and foamy saliva from his full, colorless lips as his incredibly strong arm descended over and over again, the knife's blade now almost completely covered in glorious, techni-color red...
But then it went away, all the red, the scarlet blossoms of exquisite agony that lent their strong copper scent to the early morning air; the red just... vanished...taken from Blair's fading sight to be replaced by the clearest, most startling patch of pure blue appearing directly overhead. And Blair found himself marveling at the unsullied cleanness of it all; even as some dim, agitated part of him wondered if the old lady could see it, too, wondered if it was her blood or his soaking the front of his favorite shirtnow and if the strange, high keening he thought he was hearing now came from her or from his own lax lips...even with so many things to think about, Blair wanted Mrs. Wagner to see that delightful patch of blue so far above them, wanted to point to it and smile and tell her, See? Everything will be all right.
But he couldn't seem to form the words, much less lift his arm to gesture to the limitless expanse of heaven opening up so high and distant overhead, the blue of it lightening from first dawn's mysterious sapphire tones to morning's friendlier cornflower hues as the sun's newborn rays washed the blood-soaked sidewalk around him in startling shades of crimson and rust. Dimly Blair decided he much preferred the blue, and it was so much easier now just to let his head fall back against the hard concrete surface beneath it, his wild wealth of russet curls exploding in a nimbus of untamed strands around the chalk-white oval of his face as he sagged gracefully in on himself, bleeding out with a weary sort of bemused acceptance.
The blue, just look at the blue, a voice murmured comfortingly somewhere inside Blair's mind, and it was that inner voice, so serene, so helpful, that enabled him to shut out the distracting, discordant outside sounds of voices screaming orders and commands and defiance, of the abrupt, deafening roar of gunfire and the cacophany of lights and sirens and frantically moving bodies that tried so hard to intrude on the fallen man's peace. Just look at the blue, nothing but blue, ascending... always and forever, rising to the blue...
But the blue overhead was too far away now, was being blocked by the tense, jabbering faces of frantic strangers and vaguely familiar voices calling to him, adjuring him to hold on, to hang in there, to stay with them; and Blair wanted to push them all aside, wanted to tell them that they were blocking out the blue, shutting out the sky and making it all hurt, God, it hurt so much!...And so he tried, tried to claw his way past the grasping hands and the terrible, agonizing pressure against his belly and chest, all those fingers pressing down, trying to keep his insides in, trying to slow the inexorable flood of blood that leaked from his body and rose up his throat, trickling wetly from the corner of his mouth with each weak cough for air, for life, that his failing body managed.
Blue, I need the blue! he tried to tell them, but no one understood; no one was listening, all they could do was hurt him and yell at him to stay awake,to hang on...but Blair knew they'd all feel so much calmer if they could only look up and up to the blue arcing with such effortless beauty so far above. Dammit, look at it, see the blue, he thought to all these faceless, intrusive people with a moue of stubborn frustration further contorting his already pain-twisted face...and then he jerked in pained surprise as two fallen fragments of piercing, cerulean Heaven suddenly appeared mere inches from his glazed, wondering eyes, each separate bit dizzily evolving in Blair's blurred view into twin orbs of the deepest, purest crystal that Blair had ever seen. And it was such a familiar blue; it was so elusively, strangely comforting to have those mystical orbs floating so close above him, their light blazing forth with such power, such love and fear and stubborn resolve, that Blair struggled to hold onto consciousness just so he could bask in their cleansing heat.
I know what this is; I recognize that power, that energy, he thought fuzzily to himself, bubbles of frothy scarlet gathering at the corners of his mouth as the blazing orbs of scorching blue hovering over him suddenly resolved into the anguished gaze of Jim Ellison, his best friend and partner. Jim! Where did you come from? Blair wanted to ask, trying to summon up an abashed smile for the other man, some dim part of his mind worrying that Jim was going to be really mad at him for this one...But the expression on Jim's face wasn't one of rage or anger, wasn't much of any expression other than tense desperation; and Blair wanted to tell him that it would be okay, that as long as he could still see the blue, those stray bits of Heaven that had fallen down from the sky to lodge in Jim's eyes, then there were no worries.
"Blue...Jim..." Blair thought he heard a strange, gurgling voice hissing now, and he was obscurely glad that at least SOMEONE here understood and was trying to get the word out. "Blue..." that faint, thready voice bubbled again, and suddenly Jim's undeniably azure eyes were filling with tears, filling right up to the brim till salty-looking tracks of moisture ran from the corners of each perfect orb to drop like a warm benediction onto Blair's face.
"Stay with me, Chief; just stay awake, don't leave me, do you hear me?" Jim sounded so stressed, so frightened, and Blair somehow found the strength, the will, to coerce his heavier-than-lead right arm to lift, ascending toward the blue sky above, toward the blue of Jim's eyes, till he could lay trembling, blood-smeared fingers gently against his best friend's taut jawline. Shhh...he spoke silently to the other man, his own blue, pain-dulled gaze fastening lovingly onto Jim's beautifully austere visage. Shhh; it's okay, you've done it, man, you've got the blue, keeping me here, no ascending today, just need to stay here, stay and fall into the ocean inside your eyes...not going anywhere, too tired to fly, brother, so tired...
And he saw that Jim understood now, felt in the sudden flexing and releasing of Jim's ironhard jaw beneath his bloody fingers that the other man could read the truth in Blair's drooping gaze. He knows, Blair thought with weary satisfaction as the world around him began to fade out, first touch and pain and then fear evaporating, to be followed by the cessation of sounds and the graceful dimming of the light, down to the merest pinprick of color that Blair vaguely understood to be the guiding beacon of Jim's eyes, holding Blair's soul fast to the moorings of his damaged body until such time that Blair could retake control of the ship for himself. So blue, his eyes, Blair thought faintly to himself, and with a sense of languid contentment he felt the last of his consciousness ascending from his body to lose itself in bemused contemplation of the Infinite captured so deftly within the cerulean irises of his best friend.
"You're going to make it, Chief; you're going to be fine. Do you hear me?" Jim's voice came to him from out of all that blue, so much lovely, lovely blue; and Blair could only nod, his hand falling gracefully atop his slashed chest as Eloise Wagner's frail, shellshocked voice rose and fell from somewhere nearby, lifting on the muggy morning air to croon a wordless song of mingled gratitude and lament for the man who was not a super hero but who found himself flying nonetheless, ascending up and up to a place where nothing mattered but the love and need in Jim's clear, determined gaze.