Blair flew down the street, hot on Jim's heels but having a hard time keeping up with the Detective. The perpetrators had scattered at the first sign of the police, and all but two had been apprehended before getting even ten feet. The remaining two men had bolted in opposite directions, with Rafe chasing one guy and Jim and Blair pursuing the other.
The lanky perpetrator rounded a corner, heading into the alley, and Jim almost lost his footing on the gritty alley blacktop when he took the sharp turn in pursuit. Blair found himself falling behind, and he pushed his legs faster. Jim had told him to remain behind, but Blair had ignored the order. Such foot pursuits were dangerous, and even the briefest zone-out could cost Jim his life, especially if the perpetrator pulled a knife or gun. The young anthropologist knew it was his duty to watch Jim's back, and he wasn't about to sit on his rear while Jim went off chasing some suspect.
The alley came to a dead-end at the rear of a tall brick building, and the perpetrator, trapped, spun around suddenly and launched himself at Jim. The two men slammed onto the ground, rolling in a heap of limbs. Blair slid to a halt, altering his course to avoid stumbling over the two men as they struggled on the blacktop.
Jim almost gained the upper hand, then the suspect twisted, throwing the detective's larger frame to the side. Jim rolled easily, coming to rest on one knee just as the perp lunged at him. A knife flashed in the guy's hand, lashing out across Jim's forearm. Ellison flinched backward, then swung an arm out to knock the knife out of the man's hand.
Then, suddenly, something changed. Jim's face went slack, his eyes taking on a vacant stare. Oh no, Blair thought, recognizing the signs of a zone-out; but what happened next was entirely unexpected. Instead of becoming unresponsive, Jim's arm shot up to block the man's attempted right hook. Blair's mouth dropped open. He knew Jim was in a zone out. The Sentinel wasn't even looking at his opponent. Instead, his eyes stared vacantly ahead, unmoving and unblinking.
Blair looked around frantically, searching for something to use in Jim's defense. His eyes fell on a small pile of discarded bricks in the corner, and he ran toward them, stooping swiftly to pick one up. Spinning around, he threw himself at the perpetrator, slamming the brick into the back of the guy's skull.
Instantly, the perp went limp. Blair released a sigh, but his relief was short-lasting when he realized that Jim, still zoned, continued to act out the fight. Ellison's arms lashed out, deflecting imaginary blows. His right arm was bleeding profusely, and Blair was worried that a vein might have been sliced.
"JIM!" He dropped to his knees in front of the Detective and placed a firm hand on his shoulder, giving the man a hard shake. "Come on--"
His words were cut off by a sharp blow to his chin. His head snapped backward, and his body soon followed. He found himself flat on his back on the pavement, his head spinning. A foot slammed into his midsection, causing the air to explode from his lungs and robbing him of his ability to breath. He laid there, gasping, as Jim grabbed his shirt collar and lifted him to his feet. The next thing Blair knew, he was slammed up against the wall with two powerful hands wrapped around his neck.
His fingers clawed at Jim's hand, trying to pry the strong fingers from around his neck. Black spots danced around the edges of his vision. He opened his mouth, trying to speak, but all he could manage was a strangled gasp that may have sounded vaguely like "Jim."
Then, suddenly, the pressure around his neck vanished and he fell to the ground, limp as a rag doll.
A noise invaded the blackness, yanking him back to awareness. The most incomprehensible sight greeted him, turning his blood to ice. Somehow, his hands were wrapped around Blair's neck, and the anthropologist was on the verge of losing consciousness.
His hands opened instantly in shocked denial, and Blair crumpled to the ground. For a moment, Jim simply stood there, too stunned to move. Then, one by one, his senses began to register, and it was then that he realized Blair wasn't breathing.
"Oh God," he muttered, falling to his knees beside the limp young man. His ears picked up the faint heartbeat, and, with shaky hands, he turned Blair onto his back and began mouth-to-mouth.
After only a few seconds, Blair began to breath on his own. His lungs worked sluggishly, and a pained wheezing sound accompanied each breath, but at least he was breathing. It was then that a uniformed officer ran into the alley, skidding to a halt when he saw the two fallen men and the one rigid detective.
Immediately, the man turned his head and yelled to someone down the street. "We need an ambulance here now!"
Jim turned his attention back to Blair. He felt numb inside, unable to accept the sight before him. What the hell had happened? One moment he was fighting with the suspect, and, then, in the blink of an eye, he found himself strangling his best friend.
He reached out and placed his palm on Blair's forehead. "Blair. Chief. Come on, wake up. Please wake up." Please...
His plea fell on deaf ears, so he sat there and waited for the ambulance. His body remained rigid as he listened to the steady heartbeat and strained breathing of his Guide, the man who had entrusted his life to Jim's care.
Blair awoke to a world in motion. The ground rocked beneath him, and he creased his brow in confusion. Earthquake? We never have earthquakes. He hoped the masks hanging in the loft made it through the quake in one piece.
A muffled voice reached his ears. "He's waking up."
A hand touched his elbow. "Mr. Sandburg, can you hear me?"
The world shifted to the right, and Blair found himself being pushed to the left. Strangely, though, his body remained in place. That minimal motion, however, caused a spike of pain to shoot through his side, and he released a small groan.
"It's okay, Mr. Sandburg. You're on your way to the hospital."
Hospital? That didn't sound right. Slowly, the chase and ensuing struggle teased his memory, and he remembered the flash of a blade. Jim. He swallowed. Blood. Oh God, Jim. He opened his eyes. Jim needs the hospital, not me, he wanted to say, but the moment he tried to speak his throat erupted with fire.
The ambulance came to an abrupt halt, sending another bolt of agony through his ribs. Instantly, sunlight flooded the small cabin, and Blair found himself being wheeled out of the vehicle.
Jim? Blair turned his head toward the Sentinel's voice, relieved to see the large man running toward him. Then his eyes fell to Jim's bloody sleeve, and lifted his head, making another attempt to speak.
"Jim," he croaked, then winced as his throat protested. Still, he continued. "You're hurt."
Jim was at his side in an instant, following the stretcher through the hospital doors. "Take it easy, Chief," Jim said, placing a gentle hand on top of Blair's head. "You're going to be okay."
Blair furrowed his brow as he stared into Jim's eyes. The Sentinel looked strange... almost haunted. His eyes held an emotion Blair rarely saw there: fear. The young man's heart immediately kicked into overdrive. God, if Jim were scared, then Blair must be in worst shape than he thought.
Then it all came back to him... so suddenly that he gasped. Jim punching him... kicking him... Jim's hands around his neck. Oh man, what the... what happened? His mind whirled, searching for an explanation. He was only vaguely aware of his body being lifted onto a steadier platform.
Jim vanished from his sight as a bunch of green-clad men and women surrounded him. "Mr. Sandburg, can you hear me?"
Someone was shining a light in his eye, but he paid them no attention. Instead, his brain focused on coming up with an answer for Jim's behavior.
"Pupil's normal," another voice said.
The knife! Of course. It all became clear to him. The suspect had been caught buying several kilos of drugs, and it was possible he'd used the blade to extract a small sample. Then he'd cut Jim with the knife, and the chemicals had caused Jim to zone or black out.
Fear clamped over his heart. Shit! Just how long would the drugs affect the Sentinel? God, please say he's not alone. There's no telling what could happen to him if someone's not watching him. Blair flashed on the image of Jim standing in the middle of the street, oblivious to the on-coming garbage truck.
He bolted into a sitting position, and pain exploded in his side. He released a rasped scream and found himself being pushed onto his back.
"Lay still, Mr. Sandburg," a flat voice instructed him.
"Jim," he managed to say, but his voice sounded much too soft.
Apparently, though, Jim had heard him, because seconds later the Sentinel pushed his way through the group of doctors, ignoring their angry protestations. Blair grabbed Jim's good arm in a steel grip.
"The knife," Blair croaked. "The drugs." He glanced back down at Jim's arm and added. "You're hurt."
Pained blue eyes peered down at him, and Jim's large hand covered his own. "I'm okay." His jaw clenched, and he lowered his gaze briefly. "I'm so sorry, Blair."
Sorry? "You remember?"
"Sir, please go wait in the waiting room," someone ordered.
Jim nodded in response to Blair's question, but blatantly ignored the doctor's order.
"How much," Blair rasped.
"Just the last part, right before I let go," Jim replied.
Blair's grip tightened. "It's okay." He closed his eyes, forcing himself to swallow. He winced as his throat continued to protest. "Simon. Find Simon, Jim. The drugs. Your se---" He shook his head, opening his eyes. "You know, man."
Realization seemed to touch Ellison's face, and his jaw slackened. Then someone pushed him back, out of Blair's line of sight. Sandburg's hand fell to his side, and he dropped his head back to the table.
When Blair awoke next, he opened his eyes to see Jim sitting in the chair next to the bed, his right arm bandaged neatly. The Sentinel's eyes locked with his own, and Blair managed a small smile.
Jim leaned forward in the chair, placing a hand on Blair's arm. "How're you feeling?"
Blair shrugged one shoulder. "Not too bad," he whispered, noting that his throat still felt raw.
Sandburg noticed the intense flash of guilt in Jim's eyes as the Detective nodded an acknowledgment.
"Jim," he rasped. "It's okay. It's not your fault."
"We'll talk about it later."
Blair shook his head. "No way, man. We'll talk about it now." He swallowed. "How are you feeling?"
Jim raised his eyebrows. "Didn't I just ask you that question?"
Blair smiled softly. "Where's Simon?"
Jim clenched his jaw. "He went home."
"Oh." He took a deep breath, wincing at the stiff pain in his side. "How long has it been?"
"About eight hours."
"You feeling okay?"
"Senses normal? No funny stuff?"
Jim shook his head. "I'm fine... now."
Blair nodded, breathing a sigh of relief. "I'm glad to hear that. You had me scared there for--"
Jim averted his gaze sharply, his jaw tight. Damn, Blair berated himself silently. He hadn't meant it that way.
"I meant when he sliced your arm open... and then you zoned. I thought he was gonna kill you," Blair explained.
Jim turned his gaze back to Blair and offered a tiny smile. "Thanks, by the way. Simon tells me the guy you clubbed woke up a few hours ago with a killer headache."
Blair smiled brilliantly. "Anytime, man." Then his expression sobered a bit. "We ARE gonna talk about this when we get home."
Jim's smile faded, and he nodded. "I know. I am sorry, Sandburg. I... God... I didn't--"
"Cut it out, Jim," he said, frustrated to realize that his voice was giving out on him. "Like I said, it wasn't your fault."
Jim patted Blair's shoulder. "Whatever you say, Chief. Just stop talking. You need to rest that throat of yours."
"When can I go home?" Blair managed, his voice hoarse.
"In about an hour," Jim said. "You... uh.... When I threw you up against the wall... you hit the base of your head against the brick." He raised one hand to rub his eyes. "They just wanted to hold you a few hours for observation."
"Oh," Blair muttered softly, his voice barely audible. A few more words, and his voice would be gone completely, but he had to say something to make Jim feel better. "Hey, man, tomorrow you're treating me to dinner at the restaurant of my choice."
Jim looked at him in surprise. Apparently, that was the last thing he'd expected Blair to say. "I am?"
Blair nodded. "It's the least you can do to repay me for saving your butt... and I want a one week suspension of the house rules.... and you have to wash my car." His eyes twinkled with amusement, and he smiled when he saw his partner's shoulders relax. Let Jim "pay his penance" and maybe he'd get over his guilt.
Jim raised one eyebrow, the corners of his lips turning upward in a smile. "Is that all?"
Jim leaned forward a fraction and gave Blair's cheek a gentle pat. "Thanks for watching my back, partner."
Blair's face colored, and this time he lowered his gaze.
"Like I said... anytime, man."
*grin* So? What did ya think? It's not "literature" but I hope it gave you a few moments of entertainment. Oh, and I know this is my second "Jim hurts Blair" story. What can I say? I'm in a mood :-)