Jim looked at his watch. Six seconds. Damnit, Sandburg. You can't save everyone. Five seconds. His stomach churned. Four seconds. God, what the hell had Blair been thinking? Three seconds. There was no way he'd find that bomb in time. Two seconds.



Jim's heart lurched into his throat, his entire body going tense as he prepared himself for the blast.

But the night remained quiet. He looked up. The rig was still there. Miraculously. Still there. Relief washed over him, bringing a tiny smile to his lips.

Way to go, Sandburg! When he saw the kid, he'd give him a pat on the back... then he'd kick his ass.


One second. Blair had nothing to lose. He closed his eyes and pulled the wire, his body coiling tightly as he prepared to be blown apart.

Nothing. He opened his eyes.

Alive. Still alive.

Relief turned his insides to jelly, and he collapsed, folding backward to land on the floor, limp.

He'd disarmed the bomb. God! He'd disarmed a BOMB.

His head really, really hurt. He closed his eyes and took several slow, deep breaths. It wouldn't harm anything to just lay there for a few seconds, would it?

Just a few...


"Sandburg!" Jim patted Blair's cheek. His eyes darted back to the timer on the bomb, and his jaw twitched.

One second. One goddamn second.

"Blair!" Another pat. "Come on, buddy, wake up."

Blair groaned, his brow furrowing, and turned his head away from Jim.

"Come on, Chief?" How long had Blair been out? Damn, with the concussion, he shouldn't have been running around, and he definitely shouldn't have been disarming explosives.

"Jim?" Blair's eyelids fluttered open, and he blinked, dazed.

"Yeah." Jim tugged on Blair's arm. "Can you sit up for me, Chief? Take it slow."

Blair nodded, allowing Jim to pull him up. He paled and raised a hand to his head. "Oh, man." He swallowed hard, looking like he could throw up at any moment, and turned his eyes to the timer. "Oh, man." he said again. "That was close."

"Too close," Jim agreed. "How're you feeling? Did you hit your head again?"

"No." Blair closed his eyes. "I think I just passed out." He cracked one eye open to look at Jim. "You okay?"

"Yeah. Cavalry's here, buddy. Can you get up?"

"Uh-huh." Blair let his eyelid drift closed. "Sure."

"Come on." Jim tugged on Blair's arm. "Let's get you checked out again."

Jim tugged again, and Blair pushed himself to his feet. He swayed slightly, and Jim braced him, then wrapped an arm around Blair's waist.

"You doing okay?"

"Just a headache. Maybe it's the post-adrenaline let-down."

"Yeah, maybe." Jim guided Blair to the stairs. "Okay, up we go. One at a time."

"Right." Blair opened his eyes finally and looked at the steps. Carefully, he raised his foot, but before he could set it down on the first step, his eyes rolled upward and he went limp.

Jim tightened his grip, keeping Blair from falling, and swung the kid over his shoulders in a fireman's carry. "You're okay, Chief," he whispered as he climbed the stairs, feeling Blair's warm weight on his shoulders. "You're gonna be okay."


Blair woke to rocking. He opened his eyes and saw a world tilted at wrong angles. He was staring at a pair of booted feet, their steady drumming pounding against his skull in sync with the throbbing in his head.

He groaned, and the rocking stopped. He felt himself moving, then his feet touched the floor. A wall pressed against his back, and hands held him upright.

Jim's face came into view, his blue eyes focused and narrowed with concern. "You with me, Chief?"

Sandburg nodded. "Uh-huh. What... What happened?"

"You passed out."

"The bomb... The bomb!" He straightened, panic shooting through him before his brain registered the fact that he was still alive and, therefore, the bomb hadn't gone off.

"You disarmed it." A small smile tugged at Jim's lips. "A stupid move, Sandburg, but you did good."

Well, that was a backhanded compliment if Blair had ever heard one. He managed a smile and leaned his head back against the wall. "Thanks. I think. What's going on now?"

Simon called the cavalry. The coast guard came and they've rounded up the bad guys... and girl. Simon's on his way.

"Oh." Blair nodded. "Jim?"


"I feel lousy."

"I know, buddy." Jim patted Blair's arm, then urged him forward. "I'm taking you to the infirmary. There's time for you to rest before Simon gets here."


"You're kidding... You're not kidding?"

"No, sir. Would I make something like that up?"

Blair frowned at the intrusion of the familiar voices. What were Jim and Simon doing in his room, and couldn't they see that he was trying to sleep?

"But... one second? Jesus Christ, Jim, does the kid think he's invincible?"

"No, sir. His heart's bigger than his brain. That's all. He couldn't leave those guys to die."

A snort. "Figures."


"He's something else."

"Yes, he is."

Realization dawned on Blair slowly. The rig. The bomb. One second..."Guys."

A brief silence followed his question, then Jim asked, "Yeah, Chief."

"I'm awake now."

"So I see."

"Sandburg," Simon began.

Blair sighed and opened his eyes. He was laying on his side in the infirmary. Simon and Jim were standing next to the bed, towering over him. He squinted up. "Yeah?"

"Jim tells me you did good."

Blair shrugged a shoulder. "I didn't blow up. That's good." He closed his eyes again.

"And saved my life. Twice. Getting out of those handcuffs was pretty smart. It saved our lives, and your stupid, incredibly brave and heroic, but stupid stunt with the bomb saved several lives."

Blair opened his eyes to slits, wincing against the fluorescent lights. "Thanks, again." Sarcasm colored his voice. "It wasn't stupid, Jim. I knew the risk I was taking, but I wasn't going to jump ship, to speak, and let those men die. Would you have?"

A sigh. "No." Jim sat on the edge of Blair's bed. "But my job is --"

"Yeah, yeah." Blair closed his eyes again and rolled to his back, draping one arm over his eyes. "Spare me, Jim. Being a civilian doesn't mean I can't make those kinds of decisions. It's my life."

"I know, but..."

"I was stupid. I got that already." He let his arm fall to his side.

He felt a hand on his head, above his bandage. "You took ten years off my life, Chief."

"But you did good, Sandburg," Simon added, his voice uncharacteristically gentle. "Real good."

Blair opened his eyes to see the older men staring down at him. He smiled. "Okay. I did good."

Jim chuckled. "Don't let it go to your head."

Blair closed his eyes and groaned. "Oh man, if anything more goes to my head, it's going to explode."



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