Rating: PG, maybe some bad language
If there are any mistakes... well, blame Fitz. (Just blame him, don't ask me how or why).
Summary: Simon's not himself and Blair pays the price
Out of Mind
The captain walked past Ellison's desk, offering a weak smile and a wave as he headed to his office.
Ellison raised his eyebrows. The captain looked like shit. "Sir? You feeling okay?"
"No, not really, but I'm here." Without another word, he ducked into his office and closed the door.
*Okay. Message received: Stay the hell out of Simon's way today.* Jim caught Brown's eye, and the other man shrugged, obviously catching onto Simon's foul mood. Deciding the best way to stay in the Captain's good graces was to get his work done, Jim turned back to the computer and continued his report.
The morning passed quickly and, before Jim knew it, lunchtime had arrived. He looked at the clock. 11:20 a.m. Blair was in classes all day today, but he had a two hour window of time from 11:00 to 1:00 during which he promised to meet Jim for lunch.
Sure enough, the ding of the elevator signaled Sandburg's arrival and, moments later, the young man glided into the bullpen, his ever-present backpack slung over one shoulder. He smiled when he saw Jim, and practically bounced over to the desk, looking for all the world like he had an exhaustless supply of energy.
*Ah youth...* Jim grinned and stood, grabbing his jacket from the back of the chair. "Ready to go, Chief?"
"Yep. Starving, actually." He glanced toward the captain's office. "Hey, wanna invite Simon?"
Jim shrugged. "Sure. Though he's looking a bit under the weather. He may not be up for food."
Blair's smile faded. "Really?" He headed toward the office. "Well, I'll just see how he's doing. I know some really good herbal remedies that'll make him feel better." He knocked once, then entered without waiting for an answer. "Hey, Simon, you... Wow, Jim is right, you do look sick. What's wrong?"
Jim moved from his desk, taking his time as he approached Simon's office, but he clearly heard the Captain's voice inside.
"Sandburg, I'm fine, thanks for your concern. Is there something I can help you with?"
Jim moved through the doorway. Blair was standing in front of Simon's desk, one hand holding the strap of his backpack while his other hand moved to the tune of his words.
"No, Simon, just thought I'd ask if you wanted to get lunch with Jim and me."
Simon sighed, rubbing his temples. "There's no time for me to take a break, Sandburg. I actually have work to do here."
Blair took a step back. "Oh. Okay. Sorry."
Simon rose from his chair and moved around the desk. Jim tensed, studying the captain more closely. The man looked much worse than he had this morning. His pupils were dilated and his breathing shallow and fast. Lines of tension crinkled the edges of his eyes and wrinkled his forehead, and beads of perspiration dotted his face.
"Speaking of which," Simon continued, "there's something I want to talk to you about." He took another step toward the anthropologist.
"Uh, yeah, Simon?"
"About this crap you're feeding my son..."
"What are you talking about, Simon?"
"THAT'S CAPTAIN TO YOU!" Simon's shout was so loud and unexpected that Jim flinched in sync with his partner.
"Geez, calm down." Blair held up both hands in supplication and took a few steps back. "I --"
"From now on you keep your new age bullshit to yourself. Don't go filling my son's head with all this crap about following his heart and --"
Blair glanced over his shoulder at Jim, confusion written in his eyes.
"LOOK AT ME YOU LITTLE SHIT WHEN I'M TALKING TO YOU!"
Blair jumped and whipped his head around, his backpack falling to the floor. "Simon, man, *calm* --" He never finished the sentence.
Simon all of a sudden had Blair's shirt in his fists, dangling the young man in the air as he shoved him up against the glass beside the doorway. A crowd seemed to gather spontaneously outside the Captain's office, but Jim barely noticed.
"That's *CAPTAIN* to you, I said!"
Jim lunged forward, moving to force himself in between his partner and Simon, but the captain spun around, bringing Blair with him and dropping the younger man to the floor. Simon's arm drew back and before Jim could reach him, his fist connected squarely with Blair's jaw. Sandburg flew backward and slammed into the far wall. The windows rattle beneath the impact. He slid down like a ragdoll, unconscious by the time he hit the floor.
Hot anger bloomed in Jim's chest and he tackled Simon from behind, not caring that this man was his captain and friend. At the moment, all he saw was a threat -- someone who had just launched an unprovoked attack on his partner.
Other hands joined his, bringing the Captain to the floor. Simon cursed and bucked, trying to get out from the mass of bodies. Jim felt a hand on his shoulder, urging him back, and he realized that Brown, Rafe, and Joel had the captain immobilized on the floor.
Jim moved around the men and crouched next to his partner. Blair lay unconscious, crumpled against the wall, his lip split and oozing blood. A streak of blood marred the wall just above his head, and Jim gently slid his fingers around the back of Blair's neck, probing for signs of injury. Moving his fingers upward, he felt the wet patch of hair at the base of Blair's skull, but he couldn't tell if his friend had a concussion.
"Somebody call an ambulance!!"
Jim blinked. Joel's voice had echoed his own -- yelling for an ambulance. When Jim looked back at the clustered detectives, he saw that Simon now lay unconscious on the floor. Extending his hearing, he picked up the erratic flutter of the captain's heartbeat, and something akin to astonishment knocked the air out of his lungs. *He's dying."
Jim fidgeted in the hard chair, crammed in the small waiting room with the rest of the Major Crimes members. Megan, Joel, Rafe, Brown, and Rhonda clustered together in the uncomfortable chairs as they awaited news of their two friends.
An hour passed, and Jim had finally had enough of waiting. He shot out of his seat, tense with frustration, and stormed up to the nurse's station. "Look, we've been waiting for news about Blair Sandburg and Simon Banks for over an hour. Can somebody please tell us what's going on?"
The nurse looked up at him with calm eyes set behind a pair of oval glasses. She tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear and offered a small, shallow smile. "Yes, sir. I'll check on that for you." She swiveled in her chair and picked up the phone, dialing a three-digit extension. Jim extended his hearing to listen to the full conversation.
"This is nurse Bradley at station three. I have some folks here inquiring about Simon Banks and Blair Sandburg." She swiveled again and pecked at her keyboard, glancing at the screen as she worked.
//"Dr. Ferrell just received the lab report back on Banks. It came out positive for PCP.//
Jim stiffened. *What the hell...?*
//"Low levels. He should be out of here soon. The other one - Sandburg - he's got a few stitches in his head and his cheek. Concussion. Bruises. We'll be holding him overnight for observation."//
The nurse glanced up at Jim, then talked into the phone. "And when will someone be able to come and talk to these folks?"
//"I'll let Doctor Ferrell know they're waiting. Can't say when he'll get out there, though."//
"Thanks, Doctor." She hung up the phone and looked up at Ellison, quickly relaying the information.
"Thank you." Jim nodded politely and turned back to the group. By their expressions, they'd all heard the report.
Joel sighed, his shoulders slumping. "Damn. PCP. How on earth...?"
"I don't know." Jim collapsed back into his chair. "I'm willing to bet he was dosed with the stuff. Joel, can you call forensics and have them go over Simon's home AND office?"
"Sure thing." The big man pulled out his cell phone and dialed, his eyes straying anxiously to the nurse's station. He looked like he still didn't quite know what to make of the PCP finding.
*Who would have -- who *could have*-- slipped Simon PCP without his knowing?* Jim sighed, mentally cataloguing the cases they were currently working on. Nothing popped out at him. Simon, as captain, wasn't directly involved in the investigations. He acted as supervisor, so why would someone attack him personally?
Motive. What would be the motive? Destroy his reputation? Or were they aiming for an overdose? A double-whammy. Kill him *and* destroy his reputation.
Footsteps squeaked along the tile, echoing distantly down the corridor. Jim looked up, focusing on the closed double doors leading into the heart of the hospital. Moments later, the other heads lifted as the sound became audible to normal ears. A green-clad man with coal black hair and large glasses pushed through the doors and walked up to the group.
"Are you folks here about Simon Banks and Blair Sandburg?"
Jim rose. "Yes."
The doctor extended his hand and Jim shook it firmly but quickly. "I'm doctor Ferrell. I've been treating Mr. Banks. I'm not working directly on Mr. Sandburg, that's Doctor Carson's area, but he's tied up at the moment with another patient." He sat down in the last vacant chair and gestured for Jim to return to his seat. When Jim plopped down, Ferrell continued. "We found low levels of PCP in Captain Banks' system. The general affects of this dosageshould last another two or three hours, continuing somewhat even after the drug's left his system. He's not in any danger, though when he was brought in he had some cardiac issues. That's relatively common with PCP, though not too common at this dosage. I considered keeping him overnight, but he's now awake, calm, and coherent and he wants to go home. Is there someone who can stay with him for the night?"
Jim nodded. "Yes. I'll stay with him."
Ferrell nodded. "Okay, then, I'll release him after a few more hours of observation - just to play it safe."
"Are there any aftereffects we should be concerned about?"
The doctor sighed. "There can be with PCP - most notably
behavioral abnormalities that continue for a few hours even after the drug is out of his
system. Flashbacks can be an issue, but I really don't think he has too much too worry
about. Like I said, it doesn't appear that he got too high a dosage. Of course, I've been
told he was in his office all
morning and became violent around noon. Therefore, I'm assuming no one knows how or when he ingested the drug, so it's difficult to know for sure how much he had in system earlier. Based on my observations, however, he does not have the symptoms of someone who'd have received a large dose. Again, however, PCP affects each user differently, so I can't say anything for certain. That's why I'm keeping him here a few more hours. To be absolutely safe, I'd like to keep him overnight, but since he seems to be rational and calm and he insists on being released, I can find no valid reason for forcing him to remain here."
"What about Sandburg? Can you tell me anything?"
Ferrell nodded. "He's got a decent concussion. He also took a good chunk out of the inside of his cheek, and we've stitched that up. He's got some bruises on his back and shoulder, but nothing serious there. The concussion is the main thing. He's regained consciousness, but he's not very coherent at the moment, and he keeps drifting in and out. He's also complaining of severe pain in his head and we've given him something mild for that, but I'm afraid it's not doing much. We want to keep him awake for continued observation, so that rules out stronger pain killers. He's also got a split lip and a nice whopper of bruise above his jaw."
"Can I see them?"
"You can see your Captain Banks soon. He's been asking about you and Mr. Sandburg. He remembers some of what happened - but he's confused and more than a little embarrassed. I've explained to him about the PCP, and he swears he didn't ingest the drug willingly. He has no clue how he might have gotten it in his system."
"He's telling the truth," Jim said quickly. "We believe he was dosed with the stuff by someone who harbors a grudge or who has a motive to destroy his reputation."
The doctor nodded. "As his friend, I'll let you go over that with him. Since he remembers some things from this morning, he knows he attacked Mr. Sandburg, but he's not too clear on the details. He's been asking about the young man. Once he's officially released, I'll let the two of you in to see Sandburg, but I'll have to insist on having an orderly present to supervise."
"Why. I thought you said he wasn't a dang--"
"Just for insurance-liability reasons. It's not common practice to let a patient's attacker visit his room, but given the unusual circumstances, I'll allow it. Besides, Mr. Sandburg has been mumbling about wanting to see you and Mr. Banks. Hopefully, granting a visit will calm them both."
Jim pushed open the door to Simon's room to find the Captain seated on the edge of his mattress, quickly fastening the buttons on his shirt. He looked up at the detective's entrance and a spectrum of emotions washed over his face in the span of a few seconds -- relief, guilt, shame, and even fear.
Jim stepped forward, offering a small, reassuring smile. "How are you feeling, sir?"
Simon cleared his throat. "Not too good, Jim. How's Sandburg? What did I do to him? It's kind of hazy. I remember lifting him by his shirt, but it's all fuzzy after that." His brow furrowed and he swallowed, his gaze drifting to the floor. "Were we arguing about Daryl? I think I remember that."
Jim leaned against the bed, not crowding his captain, but hovering close enough to provide what he hoped to be a measure of comfort. "He's going to be fine, Simon, don't worry. We know someone dosed you with PCP. It wasn't your fault."
Simon's head snapped up. "You know that? Who? How?"
Jim looked away. "Well, uh, Joel has forensics on it now. They're going over your office and your home."
Simon seemed to deflate, his shoulders sagging. "So you don't really know."
Jim looked back up at the captain, his eyes steady. "Did you take it intentionally?"
"Then someone did this to you."
Simon fidgeted, looking more frightened and confused than Jim had ever seen him. Those two emotions were not ones that usually graced those normally strong, confident features. "You believe me?"
Jim leaned forward, placing a hand on Simon's shoulder. "I believe you. I knew it the moment I got the doctor's report. There's no way you would do this to yourself, sir. I know that. Every detective who works under you knows that."
"Does... Does Daryl know I'm here?"
Jim shook his head. "No. Would you like me to --"
"No!" He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "No, Jim. I'd rather he not find out about this."
"It's not your fault, Simon."
The captain opened his eyes again. "I *know* that, but... well, let's just say I now know how Sandburg felt after he was dosed with the Golden. It's... well... it's just hard, that's all. It's not something I want Daryl to find out."
The door opened and a large man who looked like he belonged on a football field rather than in a hospital pushed a wheelchair into the room. "Mr. Banks? I'm here to escort you to Mr. Sandburg's room."
"I don't need the wheelchair."
"Hospital policy, sir. Gotta make the lawyers happy, you know. One slip-and-fall does a nasty lawsuit make."
Simon grimaced and slid off the bed, grudgingly lowering himself into the wheelchair. "Fine, just hurry."
Jim threw the orderly a sympathetic look and patted Simon's shoulder. "Don't take it personally. He's this cheerful with everyone."
Ellison held the door open as the orderly wheeled Simon into Blair's room. The soft beeping of the heart monitor was the only substantial sound and Jim focused his hearing past that artificial rhythm to listen to the live one underneath. Slow, steady, and strong. He smiled, sighing with relief.
Jim approached the bed and Simon rose from the chair.
"Sir--" the orderly protested.
"I'll sit back down in a minute." Simon placed his hands on the rail and looked down at the sleeping anthropologist.
Jim also took note of his partner's injuries. The doctor wasn't kidding when he said Blair had a whopper of a bruise above his jaw. The dark, mottle patch looked ghastly -- and painful. Jim couldn't be sure, but he thought the punch alone had knocked Sandburg out cold, even before his head had contacted the wall.
"Damn." Simon lowered his head and swallowed hard.
"It looks worse than it is, sir," Jim lied. Actually, it was about as bad as it looked, but he felt compelled to say *something* to make his friend and captain feel better. He glanced over at Simon, and the look on the older man's face told Jim he hadn't succeeded. Simon still felt miserably guilty about what he'd done.
Blair groaned and opened his eyes, blinking at the two men. He squinted, his forehead crinkled with pain. Jim studied Blair's pupils. They seemed a bit too dilated, which would explain why he was squinting. Finally, the young man seemed to focus on Simon and, immediately, the beeping of the heart monitor increased.
Simon stepped back suddenly, flinching as though he'd just been slapped. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have--"
"Simon." Blair shifted, wincing as he struggled to sit up. The beeping of the heart monitor steadied and Jim slid a hand behind his partner to help him up. "Simon? What... "
The older man took another step back. "I'm sorry, Blair."
Sandburg glanced uncertainly up at Jim, his eyes still clouded. He didn't appear completely awake, but he looked back at Simon and furrowed his brow as though trying to focus on forming words. "Simon. I... I'm sorry. I'll keep my mouth shut around Daryl. I didn't mean..."
"No, Sandburg, God, that's not it." Simon scratched anxiously at the back of his neck. "I... I..."
Jim came to the rescue. "Chief, Simon was dosed with PCP. He wasn't himself this morning."
"What?" Blair blinked, looking suddenly more awake. "PCP? How? Who?"
"We're still working on that." Jim glanced back at Simon. "We'll get to the bottom of this, that's a promise."
Simon nodded, offering a small, grateful smile.
"Are you okay, Simon?" Blair asked.
"Yeah. How 'bout you? How're you feeling?"
"My head hurts." Blair closed his eyes as if for emphasis and leaned back against Jim's arm. "My whole face hurts, actually." His voice wavered, getting thick and slurred. "S'okay, though. Not too bad. One helluva punch. Should call you Rocky Balboa, 'cept you're not Italian. Stallion. Y'can be the Black Stallion. Make lotsomoney as a boxer, man... Roy. I miss him. H'was good guy."
Jim stiffened, taken aback by the softly-spoken words. Blair hadn't mentioned Roy since that case had been wrapped up. *But of course he hasn't forgotten. He's not the type to forget a good friend.*
Gently, Jim lowered his partner to the bed and pulled the thin blanket over him. Simon sank into the wheelchair, sighing tiredly. "Damn, I still can't believe I did that to him. I need to make it up to him somehow."
Jim moved toward his captain. "He knows it wasn't really you, sir. Just like you know it wasn't really him with that gun when he shot up the garage. It was the drug."
"Still hurts though," Simon muttered as the orderly wheeled him toward the door.
An obnoxious ringing pulled Simon from his slumber and he opened his eyes to unfamiliar surroundings. *Huh?* Alarmed, he sat up a bit too fast. The room spun and he groaned, dropping his head back to the pillow. The ringing stopped, replaced by a soft, muffled voice.
He closed his eyes and waited several seconds before attempting to open them again. Fortunately, the room remained motionless. He blinked. Brick. Yellow pipes. The images were slightly blurred without his glasses. *Where the hell am I?* Slowly, he raised his head and looked around. He was laying beneath a garish, mutli-colored bedspread in a tiny room. A desk sat against one wall, its surface cluttered with books. Above it hung an angry-looking tribal-type mask.
*Sandburg's room.* It all came back to him suddenly and he groaned, swinging his legs over the side of the bed. Damn. Memory could be a real bitch.
*Poor kid. How the hell could I do that? Even on PCP, how could I do that to him?* Things were a bit clearer now than they'd been yesterday. He remembered being furious, wanting to teach Blair a lesson. Wanting to hurt him. He'd never been that angry or out of control before. *Thank God, I wasn't around Daryl.* That would have been too much for him. *God... If I'd hit Daryl...*
He swallowed and pushed himself off the bed, shoving the painful thoughts to the back of his mind as he shuffled out of the room. He saw Jim in the kitchen -- hanging up the phone just as Simon leaned against the kitchen isle.
"That was Taggert, sir." Jim moved to the cabinet and retrieved a mug. "He says they found PCP in your coffee at home and at the office. It was mixed in with the grinds."
"Hell." Simon closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Any idea who?"
"Would you believe they found a partial print?"
Simon opened his eyes to see Jim smiling. "It was on the coffee bag. I'm guessing he took off the gloves to open the bag, then wiped it down later. He just missed a small part."
"He? Did they get a match?"
Jim set the mug down and grabbed the tea kettle. "Joseph Carlson."
Simon straightened. "Carlson."
"Just got out of jail."
"I put him away over a decade ago."
"He's pissed, obviously."
"Shit." Simon moved over to the table and dropped into one of the chairs. "I wouldn't have figured him to be the type to go after a cop on a grudge. He wasn't that smart or that industrious."
"I guess he had a lot of time to think."
Simon's eyes hardened. "Yeah, well he'll have a lot more time to think from now on. Stupid."
Jim glanced at the clock. "I've got to go pick up Sandburg. You wanna come with me or stay here? I wasn't sure if you'd want coffee... so, uh, I'm making some tea. But I can put a pot on if--"
"Tea's fine," Simon said quickly. "And I think I'll stay here. Actually, I'll make you two breakfast. When the kid gets home, I'm sure he'll be hungry for real food... I mean, if he's feeling up to it." *If he can even chew, that is. Damn, damn, damn.*
Jim smiled. "Don't worry about it, sir. Make yourself some breakfast if you like. Help yourself to anything. If Blair's up to eating, it'll probably have to be soft foods for awhile."
Simon winced. "Yeah. Okay. I'll find something for him. Tell him... "
"He knows, Simon. He knows."
The older man closed his eyes and rubbed his hands over his face. "He didn't seem to hate me last night."
"Of course he doesn't."
"He was scared at first, though. Damnit."
"Just a reflex. You saw how concerned he was. Simon, he's
where you are now."
"I know. He's something else. A good friend."
"Yeah, that he is."
Simon opened his eyes and forced a thin smile. "I'll have something for him when you bring him home. Something I think he'll be able to handle -- one of those algae shake things you say he likes that smell so awful."
Jim chuckled. "Yeah, that should work."
"How the hell do I make one?"
Jim shrugged. "Find some algae and put it in the blender. I think he keeps the stuff in the bottom drawer in a large tupperware container. It's pretty nasty."
Simon nodded. "I'll get right on it."
"He feels awful, Chief."
"So do I... litewally."
"I can hear that, Elmer Fudd. Just don't tell Simon that."
"It'd be kinda hawd for him to not heaw it, man. I don't blame him, though. It wasn't his fault."
Jim pulled the truck in front of his building and hopped out, trotting around the front to open Blair's door. "Just try to make him feel better by pretending you don't feel so shitty."
Blair grinned, then winced, his smile fading. "Damn, my mouth huwts. I wook wike a damn chip'unk."
"It ain't funny, 'im."
That only made the detective laugh harder.
"Go'head. Waugh at my expense."
Jim managed to quell his laughter. "Sorry, Chief."
He guided the young man into the elevator and hit the button for the third floor. "He said he was going to make you an algae shake. I know your mouth's hurting, but if you can manage a few sips it'll make him feel better."
Blair creased his forehead. "Algae'ake? I don't have any algae in the f-fwidge."
"What's the stuff you're keeping in the bottom drawer in the big plastic thing?"
"Mold. I'm gwowin' it and then I'm gonna filtew it to use latew for one of my home remedies when it's needed."
"Oh." The elevator doors opened and Jim steered Blair into the hallway. "Well, I think he probably blended it up for you."
"I can't dwink it like that. Gwoss!"
"You wanna hurt his feewwwwings, Chief?"
"Aww, man... and stop making fun o'me."
Jim simply smiled and opened the door for his friend. He had to suppress a burst of laughter when he saw Simon standing in the kitchen holding a large glass filled with greenish liquid, a humble, expectant look on his face.
"Hey, Sandburg. How're you feeling." Simon lifted the glass a fraction. "I made you an algae shake."
Only Jim heard Blair's soft, repulsed moan, but to his credit, Sandburg managed a weak smile and said, "Gee, thanks, Sim'n."
Okay *now* I can go to bed. Whew!
(That's supposed to guilt you into sending feedback) :-)