This is one missing scene that nobody has done... I think... :-) Anyway, here it is.


Post Trauma

"You ready?" Blair asked again, raising his eyebrows in amusement as he grabbed the knob and yanked the door open.

Margaret stood in the hallway, her light brown hair cascading softly around her shoulders, her face surrounded by an angelic golden light.

"Hi," She smiled, her face radiant.

"Hi," Jim replied, dumbstruck.

With a subtle smirk, Blair patted Jim on the shoulder and squeezed past Margaret on his way out.

Jim smiled, taking a step closer to the woman. "How you doing?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair huddled deeper inside his jacket, trying unsuccessfully to ward off the evening chill as he made his way to the Corvair. The doc had given him the go-ahead to drive... finally. He withdrew his keys and opened the car door, sliding eagerly inside. He planned on just taking in a movie and then going to get a bite to eat. That should, hopefully, give Jim and Margaret plenty of time alone.

As he drove down the quiet road toward the theater, his thoughts turned to the events of the past few days. The Golden. He'd ingested quite a bit of it, and many of the components were pretty rare. Even the doctor said he wasn't quite sure what biological effects the mixture would have on him.

I still can't believe what I did. Mercifully, he remembered very little of his 'trip.' His memory of those gun-wielding moments on the roof of the car
came to him in glimpses, incomplete in and of themselves. Jim had filled in the details for him, though Blair wondered whether the Sentinel had told him the whole truth.

He approached an intersection. The light turned green, then changed to yellow.... Glowing yellow. Pulsing yellow. Holy shit! Blair slammed on his brakes as the light turned red. Blinking, he studied the red light and held his breath. Finally, when the image remained solid and ordinary, he released the breath.

Okay, no driving. Not tonight. He waited until the light changed green, then pressed cautiously on the accelerator, looking for an appropriate place to pull over. His hands were shaking, and he gripped the steering wheel tightly to steady himself. A block later, he spotted a small diner and quickly pulled into he driveway. He'd crash there for the next few hours, until or unless they kicked him out. Then, hopefully, his vision wouldn't weird-out on him again and he could make his way back home.

He thought briefly about calling Jim but quickly dismissed the idea. No way was he going to ruin his friend's date with Margaret.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"I had a great time, Jim." Margaret leaned into him and gave him a good-night kiss.

"So did I." He smiled, leaning against doorway. "You free next weekend?"

"I think so. Call me." She grinned and planted another kiss on him. "Goodnight, Jim. Tell Blair I said, 'hi.'"

"I will." 

Margaret turned and walked down the hall. She gave him a final wave goodbye as she stopped at the elevator.

A hollow ringing filled the loft, and Jim recognized it as his cell phone. He closed the door and moved to his jacket hanging on the hook. Reaching into the leather pocket, he glanced at the VCR clock as he pulled out the phone. There was only one person likely to be calling him so late. 

He flipped open the phone. "Sandburg?" 

"Uh, no," a female voice answered, a slight Spanish accent coloring her words. "Is this Detective James Ellison?"

He straightened. He hated these kinds of calls. "Yes. Who is this?"

"My name's Rosa. I work at Max's Diner. Do you know someone named Blair Sandburg?"

Jim closed his eyes. Something heavy sank in his stomach. "Yes. What's wrong?"

"He's been sitting here for hours. He fell asleep, and I tried to wake him, but he seems kind of out of it. Keeps mumbling about fire and ashes. I'm sorry. I don't normally look in people's personal things, but I thought I'd check his wallet before calling the police or ambulance. I found your card and, well, when I saw that you're a cop...."

"It's not a problem. Where is he now?"

"In a booth, We closed a few minutes ago, officially anyway, but like I said, he's out of it."

"Tell me where you're located, and I'll head there right now." 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim swerved into the parking lot, his tires squealing, and almost hit the glass door. Fortunately, the truck stopped within an inch of impact. Jim's seatbelt locked as his upper body jerked forward, but his hand was already going to the release. He hit the button, and the belt snapped away. Slamming the gearshift into park, he flung open the door and leapt out of his seat.

A heavy set woman wearing jeans and a white apron stood behind the counter. She was staring at him, her eyes wide. Then she broke into a light jog toward the door. Her black hair was pulled back into a pony tail that swung behind her head as she moved. Stopping on the other side of the glass, she turned the lock and pulled open the door. 

"Detective Ellison?" 

"Yes." Jim reached into his jacket pocket and yanked out his badge, flashing it as his eyes snapped to the lone figure slouched in the booth at the far end of the diner. 

"He's there."

"I see." Jim pocketed his badge and hurried to his partner.

Blair looked asleep. Huddled in the corner of the booth, he mumbled softly. His cheek was pressed against the wall, and his arms wrapped around his torso. His hands disappeared beneath the flaps of his jacket, and he was trembling slightly.

"Sandburg?" Jim stopped at the table, his voice soft. "Hey." He leaned forward and tapped on the table. "Wake up, Chief."

Blair's brow furrowed, and he turned his face away from Jim, his forehead now touching the wall. His lips moved, and faint words droned from his throat.

Jim tilted his head, listening, but he couldn't make out the words. With a sigh, he slid into the booth, stopping inches from Blair.

"Chief?" He placed a hand on Blair's shoulder and gave a gentle shake. "You okay, buddy? Wake up."

Blair jerked, his trembling turning almost violent, then his eyes sprang open, and he pressed himself against the wall, blinking at Jim. "Whu...? Jim?"

Jim gave a smile. "Yeah. You ready to go home?" He kept his voice casual, aware of the soft sounds of the woman tinkering behind the counter. The repetitiveness of the noise made it obvious she was doing busy work to keep out of the way.

Blair looked around, the crease in his brow growing deeper. "What happened?" He looked back at Jim, squinting slightly. His words rolled sluggishly off his tongue, and his eyelids drooped. "Why're you here? What happened with Margaret?"

Jim gave Blair's cheek a gentle slap, satisfied when Blair's eyes widened suddenly and his head jerked up. "Got a call. Seems you've been sleeping here for a while." He ducked his head to get a better look into Blair's eyes. "Wanna tell me what's going on?" He lowered his voice. "Do you need me to drive you to the hospital?"

Blair closed his eyes, slouching deeper into the corner. "No," he muttered, then took a deep breath. "I, uh...I guess I'm just tired."

"Come on, Chief." Jim pressed the back of his hand against Sandburg's forehead. The kid felt a little clammy. "What's going on here? No bullshit."

Blair opened his eyes, and they hung heavy, a note of sadness lingering in their blue depths. "I, uh..." His gaze dropped to the table. "I was driving and, uh.... The light turned yellow." He waved his fingers in the air. "It got all weird. I pulled over here and decided to wait it out."

"Wait it out?" Jim shook his head. He couldn't believe it. "Jesus, Chief, were you planning on driving home? Why didn't you call me?"

"You were with Margaret, and--"

"So? I'd have apologized and called it an early night. This is way more important, Sandburg." His voice dropped to a whisper. "You can't be behind the wheel of a car like this. We're gonna have to go back and get you checked out."

Blair shook his head. "No, man." He tilted his head back against the wall. He looked pale, and lines of fatigue hung on either sides his mouth. "You know what the doctor said. This could happen. There's nothing anyone can do. I just gotta wait it out." He closed his eyes again and swallowed. "God, I just hope it doesn't keep happening. I can't function like this."

"Hey." Jim patted Blair's leg, "it won't keep happening. You just gotta hang in there."

"Yeah." Blair gave a half-hearted snort. "Hang in there. What am I supposed to do in the meantime?"

Jim leaned closer to Blair. "Whatever it takes. You need rides to and from the university, I can do that. It's not a problem. Got it?"

Blair opened his eyes. "It's a problem, Jim," he said, his voice flat. "Your schedule..."

"It's flexible right now. We're both still recovering. Simon'll work with me on this." He tapped Blair on the jaw. "I don't want you pulling something like this again. Just call me, Chief." He swallowed, his mind flashing on half a dozen tragedies that could have happened tonight with Blair behind the wheel. "Please, just call me."

Blair nodded tiredly, a note of defeat in his face. "Yeah, okay." He offered a faint smile. "Thanks." 

"Like I said, it's no problem." Jim scooted backward. "You ready to blow this place? We can worry about getting your car back home tomorrow."

"Yeah." Blair inhaled deeply, his eyes tearing as he obviously stifled a yawn. He scooted out of the booth and gripped the edge of the table with one hand as he pushed himself to his feet. Once upright, he swayed slightly, and Jim reached out and grabbed his arm "Man, I'm beat." This time, he gave in to a yawn.

"You look it." Jim steered Blair gently toward the door. "There's a warm bed at home with your name on it."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The soft, distressed mumbling prodded him to consciousness. The scream sent him leaping out of bed as he grabbed his gun on the nightstand and flew down the stairs.

"Sandburg!" He ran into the room to see Blair thrashing violently, twisted in his blankets, batting at the mattress and walls.

"No! Fire! Fire!" Blair toppled off the edge of the mattress and hit the floor. When Blair gasped at the impact, Jim realized his friend was now awake.

"Easy, Chief. You're okay." Jim dropped next to Blair, unsure how to proceed. Blair was shaking all over, his eyes wild and shimmering with tears as he looked around, obviously not entirely convinced his nightmare had only been a dream.

"You're okay," Jim repeated.

Blair finally looked at him, blinking a couple of times as though to clear his vision. "J-Jim?"

"Yeah." He realized he still had the gun in his hand and removed the clip as he set the weapon on the bureau, tucking the clip into the pocket of his boxers. He was determined not to have a repeat of the garage scene.

"Oh God." Blair pulled his knees up and rubbed his hands over his face. "It was so real."

"Hey, hey. It's okay." Jim wrapped an arm around Sandburg's shoulders. "Let's get you back in bed, Chief."

Blair shook his head. "No, no. Not right now. There's  no way I'm going back to sleep. Besides, I'm really thirsty."

Jim nodded. The doctor had said some of the components of the Golden would cause excessive thirst. Apparently, Blair wasn't as 'in the clear' as the physician had thought.

"Okay, I'll make you some tea. Or how 'bout juice?" He lowered his arm around Blair's waist and helped the shaking young man to his feet.

"Tea would be fine."

Blair leaned heavily against Jim, allowing himself to be steered toward the couch. He sank onto the cushions, offering a shallow smile as Jim grabbed the afghan off the back of the sofa and draped it around his shoulders.

"Okay, buddy, just wait right here." Jim moved into the kitchen to make the tea, casting a concerned glance over his shoulder at Blair.

"Thanks." Blair slid lower on the cushion and huddled deeper into the afghan.

Jim set the tea kettle on the burner and set the flame to high. 

"I kind of remember a bit more, I think," Blair whispered.

Jim turned around. "What?"

"At the station. I only had those glimpses before, but I remember getting down from the hood of the car." His voice was quiet and small. "I remember you taking the gun out of my hands, and you and Simon helped me down. Jim, man, I am so sorry. I --"

"Hey." Jim hurried to the couch and sat on the edge of the coffee table to look at his friend. Blair was wrapped tightly in the afghan, his head low and his eyes focused on the floor. "You didn't do anything wrong, Sandburg. No one blames you. You're the victim here. They launched an attack against us and you--"

"-- were stupid enough to fall for it," Blair finished.

"No. Look, you were the only one in the bullpen at the time. Hell, if more people had ingested that stuff, it could have been a disaster. A bloodbath. A bunch of armed cops high on that shit." Jim shook his head, then leaned closer to his partner. "I'm sorry it was you, though."

Blair looked up, briefly meeting Jim's gaze. "I... I kind of don't want to go back there." His cheeks flushed, and he looked quickly back at the floor.

Jim reached out and placed a firm hand on Blair's shoulder. "Take all the time you need, Chief, but everyone wants you back. They all feel guilty
about what happened, and it would really mean a lot to them to see that you're okay."

Blair looked up again, his eyes holding a note of disbelief. "Guilty? Why?

"They're cops. Someone drugs a pizza, delivers it right to the station. It was a Trojan horse, and security just let the kid walk right in. No questions asked. Standard procedure is to confirm all deliveries, but they didn't."

Blair shrugged. "It was late --"

"No excuse." He gave Blair a light slap on the cheek. "So don't go feeling you're to blame here. Someone else screwed up, and you paid the price."

A faint smile graced Blair's lips. "So... Simon really wants me back?"

Jim smiled. "Yeah. Just don't tell him I told you, but he's been nagging me about you -- wanting to know how you're doing. He was real impressed with your work on this case. The way you guided me when my sight was on the fritz. The way you kept your cool."

Blair's smile grew. "Yeah?"

"Yeah."

The tea kettle whistled and Jim patted Blair's knee as he rose to his feet. "I'll get that for you, then maybe you can go back to bed."

Blair nodded, his face flushed. "Thanks, man."

"Don't mention it, partner."


The End. Feedback appreciated.