Missing Scene for OUT OF THE PAST Thanks to Hephaistos for the idea.


Second Impact

"What a mess." Simon grimaced as the coroner staff loaded Weston's body into the van.

"At least he won't be a problem anymore." Jim rubbed his shoulder. Sandburg's dial method had worked wonders, but his fight with Weston had reawakened the pain.

"That's for sure." Simon chewed on his cigar and studied Jim quizzically. "Now, just so that I have this completely straight, a little girl snuck up on you -- the man with special forces training and enhanced senses -- and took your gun, removed the cartridge, and you didn't wake up, nor notice that your gun was substantially lighter?"

Jim clenched his jaw and leveled a firm glare at the captain. "I'm not superhuman, sir. I was sleeping. Sandburg taught me this dial thing, and.... I don't know. I didn't wake up, okay? It happens."

Simon snorted. "Well, I'll give you credit for taking down Weston even with a bum shoulder."

"You're too generous, sir."

"Don't I know it." Simon looked around. "And where is Sandburg, anyway?"

Jim cocked his head. "He's, uh," a frown marred his face, "talking to Pam, Angie's little girl."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm not sure. He doesn't sound right." He turned sharply and hurried up the front steps, tracking Blair's voice to the living room.

He spotted Blair, Angie, and Pam in the living room. Blair and Pam were on the couch, engaged in conversation, and Angie sat in the armchair, observing the exchange with a puzzled expression.

"And so, that's how the aboriginal pink dolphins got to Disneyland." Blair grinned, then winced, and looked up as Jim entered. "Hey, man." He waved a greeting. "When's that pizza getting here?"

"What?" Jim moved to the couch and sat on the arm. "Pizza? Did you actually order pizza?"

Angie shook her head. "I didn't. I, uh..." She rose quickly and walked over to Jim, lowering her voice as she threw a glance back at Blair. "He hasn't been making much sense. I think maybe he should get checked out by a doctor."

Jim nodded and looked past her to study his partner. Blair was squinting at Angie and saying something about a telephone.

"You gonna answer it?" Blair asked, looking up at Jim and Angie. "Hey, man, is that your cell phone or the telephone? Anyone gonna answer that?"

"Hey, Chief." Jim rose from the couch. Blair craned his neck, his eyes narrowed, framed by fine lines. He looked to be in pain, and the small bandage over his eye highlighted his rough appearance. "Why don't we get you checked out by the EMT's outside?"

"Okay, sure, Jim. How's the shoulder?" Blair rose from the couch and swayed, but Jim moved swiftly, grabbing Blair's arm and steadying him. "Thanks, man." Blair looked over at him, his face suddenly pale. "Must be an earthquake."

"If you say so," Jim smiled amiably. "Why don't you sit down, and I'll call them in here?"

"Nah, nah. It's okay. I'm okay. Just lead the way."

"Sit down, Chief, I'll call them in here for you."

"No, no! I can walk!" Blair yanked his arm away from Jim and took a few shaky steps, swaying dangerously.

"Easy does it, Chief." Jim was at Sandburg's side in a second, his hand wrapped tightly around Blair's arm. "You think you can make it?"

"Yeah, man." Blair waved dismissively with his free arm. "No problem. Hey, did that pizza get here?"

"Should be here any minute."

"You know in Italy pizza isn't like it is here. You know pepperoni means something different there? Hey, Jim, did you forget to pay the electric bill?"

"No, I didn't. This isn't the loft, Blair. Weston cut the power, remember?"

"Oh. Weston. Right." Blair swayed heavily, and Jim had to stop and wrap his arm around Blair's waist to steady him.

"Easy, now. Almost there. Just a few more steps and we'll be on the porch. Ready?"

"Yeah, I told you already. I'm fine. Where are we going, anyway? I wonder if..." Blair's words faded, and he went suddenly limp.

"Blair... Damn!" Jim compensated quickly, catching Blair and lowering him gently to the floor.

He placed his hand behind Blair's head and eased his skull to the floor, then looked up to see Angie and Pam hovering over him. Angie's face was tight with concern, and Pam looked close to tears.

"What's wrong with him?" Pam cried, wrapping her arms around her mother as she stared wide-eyed down at Blair. "Is he gonna be okay?"

Jim wasn't sure, but he didn't have time to waste. He shot to his feet. "I think so. Watch him for a second." He ran out the door and stopped at the railing, waving an arm at the cluster of two EMT's getting ready to leave in the ambulance. "Medics!" He yelled. "I need some help in here!"

The medics, one of whom was just about to slide into the passenger seat of the ambulance, stopped and turned to look at him.

"Now!" Jim yelled, slamming a fist on the railing. "Get in here!"

The two men sprang into action, and Jim didn't wait for them to arrive. He spun around and hurried back into the house, crouching next to Blair. The young man hadn't moved apparently, and still appeared deeply unconscious, his face alarmingly pale.

Footsteps pounded into the room, and the two paramedics knelt next to Blair, immediately taking his vitals. "Hey, what happened to him?" One of them asked. He was a young Asian man with cropped, dark brown hair.

"Concussion, I think," Jim answered. "He was knocked out twice in the span of about five or ten minutes."

"Thanks for the information, Detective." The older paramedic, a fair-skinned man with graying hair, gently pushed Jim away as he moved to that side and leaned over Blair, immediately raising his penlight and checking Blair's pupil responses. "Dilated but even," he announced flatly, glancing up at his partner. "Call it in and transport."

Jim pushed himself to his feet, standing in the background and watching silently as the two men worked on Sandburg.

"How's he look?" Jim asked, though he was pretty sure what the answer would be. He'd seen plenty of concussions during his time as a medic in the army. Two blows to the head one right after the other, both with loss of consciousness, just wasn't a good thing.

He should have had Sandburg checked out immediately, but the kid had seemed fine. No excuse, though. He knew head injuries weren't something to mess with. He'd gotten distracted by Weston and Angie, and then backup had arrived, and....

Damn, what it came down to is he hadn't checked out Sandburg carefully enough.

"His pupils are dilated, but responding evenly. He's still out, though, and that's not a good sign," the older paramedic said.

The younger paramedic sprang to his feet and headed for the door. "Be back in a sec with transport."

"Gotcha, Ray." The EMT continued to check Blair's vitals, measuring his heartrate, listening to his chest, and double checking his pupils. "How long ago did he get hit on the head?"

"Maybe half an hour."

"He lost consciousness both times?"

"Yes."

The man frowned, his brow creasing. "How long each time?"

"I'm, uh, not sure about the first time. A few minutes. Same thing the second time around."

"He regained consciousness on his own both times?"

"Yes."

"Then he passed out again?"

"Right." Jim took a deep breath. Relating the information in such a clinical form made him realize just how stupid he'd been not to get Blair checked out as soon as the paramedics had arrived.

"And how long has he been out?"

"He passed out right before I yelled for you."

"Oh man." Blair gave a weak moan, his eyelids fluttering open. He squinted up at the paramedic. "Hello."

"Hello." The man smiled down at him. "Can you tell me your name, sir?"

Blair's brow creased. "I'm cold."

"It is a little chilly here, but we'll have you warm soon. Can you tell me your name?"

"Where's Jim?"

Jim stepped forward and knelt next to the paramedic. "Right here, Chief. How's your head feel?"

Blair closed his eyes, the crease in his brow growing deeper. "Headache, man."

"Sir, what's your name?" the paramedic insisted. "Can you tell me, please?"

"Blair."

"That's good. Do you remember what happened?"

"Uh..." Blair opened his eyes again and squinted at Jim. "What happened?"

Jim smiled down at him. "That's what the man asked you, Chief. Do you remember?"

"Jim?" a deep voice resonated from the doorway.

Jim looked up to see Simon standing just outside the doorway.

"How is he?" the captain asked, taking a step inside. "What happened?"

"Weston knocked him out a couple of times, sir."

"Excuse me!"

Simon stepped quickly aside as the young paramedic rushed in with a stretcher. "'Ready to go."

"Jim, hey man," Blair's weak, strained voice intruded on the conversation, "what's going on?"

Jim plastered a smile on his face and looked down at his partner. "Don't worry about it, Chief. These guys are just taking you to the hospital to get checked out. They'll give you something for your headache, okay?"

"Yeah, okay. Hey, can you turn up the heat? It's freezing, man."

Jim slipped out of his jacket and draped it over Blair. "How's that?"

A contented smile touched Blair's lips, and he closed his eyes. "Better. Thanks."

"Okay, guys," Ray interjected. "Time to get him up and on the move."

Jim nodded an acknowledgment and stood, moving back to give them room. He watched in silence as they loaded Blair onto the stretcher and wheeled him out of the house.

"Come on." Simon slapped a hand on his shoulder. "Let's go follow them." He glanced quickly at Angie and Pam, both of who had moved to several feet back to give the men more room. "I'll have a uniform take your preliminary statement and then drive you somewhere, if you like."

Angie shook her head. "It's okay. I have my car." She looked at Jim. "Let me know how he is, okay?"

"Sure." Jim nodded distractedly as he headed toward the door.

"Wait up, Jim." Simon hurried after him. "Did you ever get them to check out your shoulder?"

Jim didn't answer as he trotted down the steps, the keys to the truck already in his hand.

"That's what I figured," Simon sighed. "Well, at least we're heading to the right place."

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

Jim and Simon had been waiting two hours by the time the doctor walked into the waiting room to inform them about Sandburg's condition. Both men rose to meet the doctor, a petite woman with light brown skin and large, brown eyes. Her black hair was pulled back into a low ponytail. Wisps of gray highlighted her temples.

"You're both here for Mr. Sandburg?" she asked, stopping in front of Jim?

"Yes, ma'am. How is he?"

"Still a bit confused. We've determined he's likely suffering from second impact syndrome, which occurs when a person received a second concussion before they've finished recovering from the first concussion. In this case, from what I've been told, he received two blows to the head within moments of one another. Is that right?"

Jim winced. "Yes." Once again, he berated himself for overlooking the seriousness of the blows Blair had sustained.

"We've scheduled him for immediate surgery. We're going to relieve some of the pressure on his brain and see if the symptoms alleviate, and then we're going to have to keep him here at least a day for observation, maybe even a couple of days. "

"Can we see him before he goes into surgery?"

She nodded. "For a few minutes. Then you might as well go home and come back during normal visiting hours."

"Actually, I'd like to stay through the surgery. Make sure he gets through it okay."

She smiled and nodded slowly. "Okay. I'll be sure to send someone out here to update you as soon as he comes out of the OR. Now, if you'll follow me, I'll take you to his room."

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

As soon as Jim and Simon entered the room, Blair opened his eyes and blinked at them. Recognition dawned on his face, and he gave a tired smile, the edges of his eyes crinkling with pain.

"Hey, guys."

"How you doing, Chief?"

"How's the head?" Simon asked.

"Hurts still." Blair closed his eyes. "And I really wish that damn noise would go away."

Jim raised an eyebrow, cocking his head and listening. He heard various noises, including the beeping of heart monitors and voices in the hall, but couldn't pinpoint anything that he thought might disturb Blair.

"What noise?"

Blair rolled his eyes, then winced and closed them briefly before opening them again to look at Jim. "Well that's a first. Man, I gotta get me a cheeseburger. But no icing. You guys hungry?"

Jim and Simon exchanged glances before looking back at Blair.

"We're okay." Jim smiled and placed a hand on the rail. "Did the doc tell you about, the, uh, surgery?"

"Yeah, yeah. Humpty Dumpty fell down and broke his crown."

Jim's smile faded to a frown, his gut twisting tight with concern. Sandburg's symptoms were persisting a disturbingly long period of time.

The door opened suddenly, and two men wheeled in a gurney. "Okay, Mr. Sandburg. Time to transport you to the OR."

Jim patted Blair's arm and forced another smile on his face. "See you in a bit, Chief."

Blair smiled brightly, though his eyes were still crinkled with pain. "Funny, Jim. Real funny."

Jim didn't see what was so funny about his comment, but he held the smile nevertheless and watched as the two men transferred Blair to the gurney and wheeled him out of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~

"You know, I feel kind of bad about deceiving him."

"I'm sure he forgives you. He's that kind of guy. In the future, however --"

Blair listened to the voices as he tried to figure out where he was and why everything was so dark.

"I've learned my lesson. The police are my friend."

Angie? Blair's brow furrowed.

"If he were a cop, you know, he'd have gotten into a serious reprimand for letting you slip out like that."

Jim. That was an easy one. But what were they talking about?

"I know. I said I was sorry. I hope he didn't get into too much trouble."

"He's not on the payroll, so he didn't get into trouble. It was my fault, anyway. I'm the one who left a civilian observer in charge of guarding a protected citizen."

Blair felt something twist in his chest. It was now obvious they were talking about him and how he'd messed up and let Angie slip out of her suite when he was supposed to be watching her.

And Jim didn't think him capable of such responsibility. That much was obvious from the conversation. Duh, he told himself, you DID screw up. But okay, so he wasn't trained as a watchdog. Hell, she was supposed to be a willing participant. How was he supposed to have known she'd want to make a break for it.

And, yeah, Jim, I'm NOT trained for that and I don't get paid for that and so I'm sorry if I didn't do it right.

He still felt like a failure, though, and it hurt to know that Jim thought of him that way, too.

"No, really," Angie's voice continued. "It's my fault. I was supposed to be cooperating. I --"

"Well, it's all a moot point now, right? All's well that ends well."

"Yeah, I guess so. Thank you again."

Blair saw a sliver of light and realized that it had been dark because his eyes had been closed. Where was he? What had happened? He took stock of himself physically. The only pain he felt was in his head and cheek. Now that he was apparently awake, he had a whopper of a headache.

I'm awake, right? He opened his eyes further and saw a blurry whiteness and blinked a few times until his vision cleared.

White squares. A white, glowing panel. A beeping sound. Where was he?

"Hey, Chief, you're awake finally."

Blair shifted his eyes to the left without turning his head. He just knew turning his head would be a bad idea.

"How do you feel?" Jim was leaning on the bed rail, smiling down at him.

Hospital! The answer came to Blair immediately as he glanced at the rail. He was in a hospital.

But why?

"Uh..." Damn, his mouth felt like the Sahara. "Whuhpn?"

"Do you remember Weston?"

Weston? Blair's brow furrowed. A face popped into his mind. Blond hair... Oh! Weston. The guy who had wanted to kill Angie. What was wrong with his memory?

"Yeah." Blair could barely hear his own voice. "Pam okay?"

"Yes." Angie's voice came from his right, and he shifted his eyes to look at her. She, too, was smiling down at him. "Thanks to you and Jim."

Why was she here, anyway? He felt his eyes drifting closed and tried to stop them, but they were completely unresponsive to his commands.

"I'm going to leave." Angie's voice drifted to him from a distance. "Let him rest."

"Thanks for stopping by," Jim answered, his voice equally hollow and far-away.

Blair heard the light tap of footsteps on tile, then a slight squeak and a soft CLICK. To his left, he heard Jim sigh. Then the soft scrape of fabric against vinyl told him that Jim had sat in a chair.

"Sorry." Blair didn't mean to speak, but somehow the word jumped out of his mouth all on its own.

"Huh? What for?"

More scraping of fabric against vinyl. Then footsteps. A light touch on his arm.

Blair tried to open his eyes, but they were as immovable as Mount Rushmore. He wasn't even sure he was still awake. Maybe he was dreaming and Jim wasn't even really talking to him. The whole thing could just be trick of his subconscious guilt.

Still, he found himself answering, but his tongue was almost as heavy as his eyelids, and he couldn't manage long stretches of words. "Angie," he said. "I heard you."

"Hear me?" Jim sounded confused. "Heard me say what? I.... Oh. Damn." A sigh. "I didn't mean it like that, Chief." The touch on Blair's arm grew firmer. "Don't worry about that. You did fine. You were doing me a favor even staying there. And, by the way, you did a great job with Weston. You landed yourself in a hospital bed with those heroics, but thank you."

Blair frowned, or thought he did. Now Jim was being nice to him. Patronizing. Or was it just a dream Jim?

"Besides," Jim continued, "I'm the one who screwed up and you saved my ass. You going for the Medal of Honor, or something, Stormin' Normin'?"

Blair managed a smile and, even more remarkably, managed to open his eyes. Okay, so Jim did have a point there. "Yeah," he managed to say, a bit louder this time. "I did kinda save your ass, huh?"

Jim's grin blossomed. "Don't let it go to your head."

"Why?"

"Because if your head swells, your hair might not grow back right."

"Huh?" Blair's eyes went wide, and he managed to lift one very heavy arm. His fingers probed along his scalp and immediately felt the thick bandage. "Oh, man. Tell me they didn't."

Jim chuckled. "It's just a small area. They said no one but you would really notice it."

"Great." Blair closed his eyes and let his hands drop back to the mattress. "Just great."

"Don't worry about it, Kojak. It'll grow back."

"Funny, Jim. Am I gonna hear these nicknames for the next month."

"Maybe, Montel."

Blair groaned and tried desperately to go back to sleep.

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

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