Evolution Of Friendship part 11

No Gain Without Pain

By

Annie

EMAIL: Annie

This started out as a missing scene for "Out Of The Past" for Lyn's themefic month last year. When I realized that this ep would be the next one for the Evolution Of Friendship treatment, I decided to write a few more scenes to fit around the original one. This is for Peter Walley, who gives wonderful support and encouragement to TS writers and who has such boundless, contagious enthusiasm for the show and for fanfic. Thank you Peter.

Disclaimer: Not mine, no money made, no copyright infringement intended.

 

Jim's head pounded as he lifted it from the ground. There was a cacophony of noise all around him, footsteps running past him and he shoved himself to his knees, hoping he'd only been out momentarily and that it was Weston he could hear moving away from him.

"Jim? Take it easy. Don't try to get up just yet."

Jim turned his head to the side then his arms gave out from under him again and he fell forward, stopped from landing in the shattered glass all around him by a strongly muscled arm around his waist. "Weston?" he muttered, his stomach heaving as the earth and sky traded places for an instant as Banks hauled him back up to rest on his knees again.

"No sign of him," Banks replied. "Looks like he got you good."

"He got the jump on me," Jim replied, shaking his head in an effort to clear the cobwebs that fuzzed his vision. "The guard got it worse. He's dead."

"Shit!" Banks exclaimed feelingly.

"Help me up, will you, sir? I need to get back upstairs and check on Ferris and her daughter."

"I think you should let the paramedics check you out first, Jim." Banks indicated Jim's hand, which was dripping blood steadily onto the ground. He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket and handed it to Jim, who used it to dab at the blood dripping from his cut lip and bloody nose.

Jim managed to get to his feet with Banks' help and stood swaying for a moment or two. His headache was still thundering away but at least his vision was clearing now. His cheekbone felt bruised and abraded from where Weston had slammed him face-first into the marble pillar in the foyer. He'd got a couple of good piledrivers to his ribs as well and he fingered the bruises, relieved not to feel any breaks beneath the inflamed skin. The cut on his hand pulsed in time with his heartbeat but looking at it, he could see it was mostly superficial. Using his enhanced vision, he could see no bits of glass in the wound and decided a bandage was all that was needed. All in all, it could have ended worse, he decided morosely as he watched the guard's body being wheeled past him on a gurney. 'There but for the grace of God,' he thought.

"Hey, can I get a bandage for my hand?" he called to the medic who was approaching them with a first aid box.

"Uh, sure," the man replied. He looked the detective over appraisingly. "I should probably check you out first, sir." He pulled some gauze, disinfectant solution and a bandage out of his bag and set to work.

Jim shook his head and winced at the pain it caused. He rubbed his temple with his uninjured hand. "I'm okay. Nothing serious."

"If you're sure. I can't force you to accept treatment but-"

"I'm sure," Jim snapped out. He sighed and patted the medic's shoulder apologetically. "Sorry, buddy, bad day."

"No problem, sir." The medic taped the bandage to keep it secured and walked away back to his rig.

Banks pushed once again to get Jim to go to the hospital but Jim waved off his concern. He couldn't stop thinking about the fact that upstairs in Angie Ferris' apartment was a young girl. He had no doubt that Weston would have no qualms about hurting even a child in order to get to the singer.

Realizing Blair would have seen at least part of the fight between himself and Weston on the monitor and was probably worried sick by now, Jim finally managed to break free of his Captain's mother-henning and head back inside the building.

Inside the elevator, he leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. He'd have to remember to tell the kid he'd done the right thing in not coming down to check on him. He'd done what he'd been told to do and stayed upstairs to protect Angie and Pam. 'Maybe he's finally learning to follow orders. Yeah, right.' Jim grinned a little at the thought of that ever becoming a permanent part of Blair's pattern of behavior.

He pushed himself upright as the elevator glided to a smooth halt on the penthouse floor and stepped achingly out. He intended to give Sandburg that figurative pat on the back and Angie Ferris a piece of his mind for being so damned stubborn, not necessarily in that order.

~oOo~

Jim hauled himself back to his feet, feeling as if every muscle in his body was protesting the fact that he'd just made contact with an unforgiving surface twice in almost as many hours.

Simon Banks groaned and shifted, trying to sit up.

"Are you all right, sir?" Jim asked, kneeling down next to the captain.

Banks nodded, his face set in a scowl. "I'm fine." He accepted Jim's offer of a helping hand and stood, looking at the splintered remnants of Weston's hotel room door, horror at what might have been etched clearly on his face.

Jim pointed to the shotgun propped and rigged to fire when the door was opened. "It was a set-up," he growled angrily. "Ah shit! Sandburg! Weston's gotta be heading for Angie's apartment."

He took off flat out, running down the hallway with Banks and the SWAT men at his heels.

Downstairs, he pulled open the door of his car and threw himself behind the wheel, his mind racing. He cursed himself ferociously. Twice now, he'd let Weston get away, only this time, Blair as well as Angie and her daughter could pay the price for his stupidity.

He kept the pedal to the metal the whole way back to the penthouse apartment block and tore inside, yelling at the SWAT officers to follow him upstairs. He paced inside the elevator when it came, unable to stop himself moving. When the door slid open, he was out in seconds, his gun already in his hand as he barreled through the door of the apartment behind the SWAT men.

Blair jumped up from the couch, almost falling off it in obvious shock at the force ten intrusion. "What the hell is going on?" he asked.

~oOo~

Jim glanced over at Blair, who sat slumped in the passenger seat of the vehicle.

By increasing his sight just a little to allow for the dimness of the interior of the car, he could see Blair's downcast eyes and the tension in the clenched fists resting on the younger man's thighs.

"That was some trick you showed me," he said conversationally. He looked back at the road again and from the corner of his eye, saw Blair turn side-on to face him

"What trick?" Blair asked, his voice flat.

"Teaching me how to focus my sense of touch so I could read the address on that pad."

"Yeah, well, we wouldn't have had to worry about that if I hadn't been so stupid," Blair replied sullenly.

"Hey, this is not your fault," Jim said firmly. He gave Blair's hand an encouraging pat. "If it's anyone's fault, it's mine. I shouldn't have left you there alone anyway. You're not trained to do that stuff."

"I'd like to think I've picked up a few things since I started riding with you, man," Blair replied wryly.

"You have, Chief. And you've taught me as much as or more than I've taught you but…" Jim swallowed hard, "if Weston *had* gone to the apartment-"

"Well, he didn't, man, so it's a moot point. I just can't believe I fell for that ruse of Angie's."

"Well, you're not the only one who's let someone get the jump on them in the past day or so. Weston's got the best of me twice." He turned to give Blair a look of sheer determination. "I don't plan on letting it happen again."

Blair nodded and turned back to watch for street signs from his side of the vehicle and Jim turned his attention back to the road.

He pushed down all the what-ifs that were trying to get his attention. For now, he had to stay completely focused on getting Weston. Then, when it was over, he'd go to the gym and punch the shit out of a punching bag till the adrenaline seeped away through the pores of his skin along with the sweat.

~oOo~

Jim eased back on the sofa in Angie's safe-house He felt good - no, better than good - he felt great. Calm, relaxed, the tension that had been a constant companion ever since he'd begun working this case had melted away along with the nagging pain in his arm.

He rubbed the back of his neck tiredly and thought about how close he'd come to being killed tonight. It was a little ironic to think, that had he bought the farm, it would have been at the hands of the very woman he and Blair were trying to protect.

Angie Ferris was an enigma all right. Tough and confrontational one minute, when she was trying to get her own way; then crying and vulnerable the next when she realized how close she'd come to killing one of the men who wanted only to protect her and her child.

Blair had been on the right track when he'd asked Jim if there was something going on between them. There was an attraction there, on both sides, Jim thought, but he was unsure of whether there'd be any future in it once the case was closed and Angie was safe from her obsessive ex-boyfriend.

He settled back against the cushions of the couch, feeling inexpressible relief at the cessation of pain from the bullet graze.

Twice now, in one night, Blair had guided him into using his senses productively. He was beginning to be convinced that having Blair as a permanent partner wasn't going to be a bad thing at all. The kid knew his stuff and he wasn't afraid to stand up and make himself heard when Jim tried to blow his ideas off.

Jim took a deep breath and closed his eyes.

~oOo~

"You okay, Chief?" Ellison asked as he stopped in front of his partner.

Angie had taken Pam upstairs, away from the havoc that Ray Weston had brought into their lives.

"Yeah, I'm all right," Blair replied, his voice husky. "Weston?" he asked.

"Dead," Jim replied shortly. He felt about ready to fall in a heap himself. In the past couple of days he'd been pushed through a plate glass window and knocked unconscious by the escaped prisoner and then accidentally shot by Angie Ferris, the singer Weston had been stalking. It was a lot of punishment for even his body to handle.

The final fight with Weston had taken the last of his stamina, his head still ached where the pallets had hit him, and his entire body felt like one huge bruise. By the time he'd recovered enough to turn away from Weston's body, Jim could feel his legs threatening to give way beneath him. He'd propped himself against the doorframe and watched hazily as Angie held her sobbing daughter close and reassured her. Blair had been leaning against the wall across from them, dabbing cautiously at the gash above his eyebrow.

Now Jim looked carefully into Blair's eyes. Sandburg had been knocked unconscious twice in 10 minutes and Jim was worried about a possible concussion or worse, but Blair seemed aware, if a bit fuzzy, and apart from his wavering stance, he seemed all right for now. He'd even had the presence of mind to call for backup. Jim could hear the approaching sirens. He grabbed a handful of tissues from the box near the sink and wet them under the faucet, then pressed them firmly to Blair's forehead.

"Ouch," Blair yelped, trying to pull his head away.

"Easy, Chief, you need to keep some pressure on that. It's still bleeding pretty good," Jim said, putting a hand behind Blair's neck and holding him still. "Sounds like the cavalry's here. You sure you feel okay? I'm gonna go out and fill them in."

"Yeah, man, go ahead. I'm fine," Blair replied. "I'm just gonna sit down for a minute. Feel a bit woozy, that's all." He slid down until he was sitting propped against the counter and put his head in his hands, still holding the compress to his brow.

Jim gave him a hard look. The kid had gone as white as a sheet but Jim figured that as long as he was sitting down, he couldn't hurt himself any further, at least. "I'll get the paramedics to come check you over, Chief. Just relax, buddy. I'll be back in a few minutes." He gave his partner's shoulder a reassuring pat and headed out the door.

Blair nodded, then winced at the pain the movement caused.

"Jim, you okay?" Simon Banks grabbed the detective by the arm and forcibly held him in place, looking him over appraisingly. He noticed that in addition to the bandage around Jim's hand, placed there after his earlier run in with Weston, there was a new one wrapped around Ellison's upper arm and a fresh crop of bruises and abrasions on his face.

"I'll live, Captain. Angie's upstairs with her daughter. I'd really like to get them away from here as soon as possible, preferably by the other door," he said, nodding towards Weston's body. He didn't want the child to have to see that.

"I'll take care of it, Jim. Rafe!" he called. "Get Miss Ferris and her daughter checked out by the paramedics. If they don't need to go to the hospital, get them out of the house by another door and take them down to the station. Ask Miss Ferris if she wants to call someone to come stay with her."

Rafe nodded and headed into the house.

"Where's the kid, Jim? He okay?" Simon asked.

"I think he'll be all right. Weston knocked him around pretty good, though. He's inside. I think the medics should check him out."

"You don't look so hot yourself, Jim. When the medics have finished with your partner, they can take a look at you, too."

"Sure, Captain, whatever you say. But after they've patched up Sandburg. Weston would have shot Angie or me if it hadn't been for him." Jim turned and led the way inside.

Blair had pushed himself to his feet by the time they reached him. He stood, unsteadily, blood trickling down the side of his pale face. His eyes now looked unfocused, Jim was quick to realize, like someone who had just woken from a deep sleep.

"Whoa, Chief, why don't you sit back down again till the medics have had a chance to look at you?" Jim urged, his hand reaching out to snag Blair's elbow, trying to push him gently back to the floor.

"'mfine, Jim," Blair slurred, his hands reaching out to maintain his balance, wobbling back and forth like a circus high wire walker.

Jim grabbed his arm more firmly and sank to his knees, taking Blair with him as Simon reached behind to cushion Sandburg's head, until between them they managed to get him flat on the floor.

"Oh man, I feel sick," Blair moaned, tossing his head. He lurched forward, trying to sit up and Jim grabbed him and quickly turned him on his side as he threw up.

"It's okay, Chief. You're gonna be okay," Jim murmured, pushing a stray lock of hair away from Blair's pallid face. He let Simon help him to his feet as the paramedics came in and began assessing his partner.

Blair groaned as his eyelids were peeled back and a light was shone into his eyes.

"That hurts, huh?" the paramedic asked. "Headache, too?"

Blair nodded, without opening his eyes.

"Do you have pain anywhere else?"

"My ribs, just a bit," Blair replied.

"Okay, I'd say you have a pretty good concussion. I'm just going to put an IV in just in case and we'll take you in to the hospital. Once, you're there, the docs will probably be able to give you something for that headache and the nausea. You'll probably have to stay overnight for observation," the medic informed him.

"Oh man!" Blair groaned.

"Now, Chief, don't be like that. There's bound to be a pretty nurse for you to chat up, when you're feeling better, that is."

"Okay, Jim. Your turn," Simon said.

"What, me? No, I'm fine, Simon. Really."

"Detective Ellison, you are going to get into that ambulance with your partner and when you get to the hospital, you will have yourself looked at by a doctor. That's a direct order, Detective, and, furthermore, I'll see you there to make sure it's been carried out," Simon said firmly.

He winked at Blair, who managed a tired grin back, then waited as his number one team were loaded onto the ambulance before turning back to take control of the crime scene.

~oOo~

Simon opened the door to the hospital room quietly and peered inside. The room was dark, save for a dim overhead light above the empty bed next to the window. Banks stepped inside as Jim looked up and motioned him in.

"How is he?" Banks asked, as he stood next to the chair Jim was seated in at Blair's bedside.

"Doc says he'll be fine. He's got a nasty concussion and bruised ribs," Jim replied, keeping his voice low in an obvious attempt not to wake his sleeping partner.

"How about you?" Simon asked pointedly.

"Tired, mostly." Jim yawned around the words and smiled apologetically at the captain. "They redressed my arm and my hand, shot me full of antibiotics and told me to get some sleep. They said I should stay here tonight but I really don't think it's necessary." He began to push himself up slowly from the chair and was pushed back down into it firmly by Simon.

"If you go home tonight, you know as well as I do that you'll just be back in here at oh-dark-thirty tomorrow checking on the kid anyway," Banks said. "Stay here tonight. But get some sleep. The kid's gonna be fine. You'll be right in the room with him if anything does happen - not that it will."

"He was something else there tonight, Simon," Jim said, nodding towards Blair. "He took on Weston with his bare hands while the guy was holding a gun on Angie and me. He's got guts."

Simon nodded. "I always thought he did," he said quietly. "I don't know many men who would have picked their first parachute jump to be out of a plane into the jungles of Peru."

Jim nodded and yawned again.

"Bed," Simon ordered sternly.

Jim stood and wandered a little drunkenly across to the other bed and collapsed down onto it with a groan. He was asleep almost instantly.

Simon sighed as he walked across and picked up the blanket that was folded across the foot of the bed and draped it over his detective's body, carefully pulling it up so it covered Jim's shoulders.

Then he walked towards the door.

"Thanks, man," came a slurred voice from behind him. "He's exhausted but he just wouldn't lie down."

Banks turned and looked at Blair, who was gazing back at him through sleep-blurred eyes. "Get some rest, kid," he said gruffly. "I want both of you back on board as soon as possible."

"Okay." Blair closed his eyes and Banks shut the door softly as he left the room.

He wandered down to his car, pulling a cigar from his pocket once he made it to the parking lot. He snorted a little to himself as he climbed into his car and lit up. It was bad enough that Sandburg had Ellison and Taggart and most of Major Crime wrapped around his little finger. Damned if it didn't look as though he'd managed to find his way through Simon Banks' sturdy defences as well.

Banks shook his head ruefully as he started the car. He had to admit Sandburg was an asset to the department, annoying as he could be at times. He was becoming a member of the team, and a valued one at that. He grinned as he realized he kinda liked that idea. Tired now himself, he gunned the engine and headed for home and bed.

The End.

November 29th 2005.