A Cypher Missing Scene - Yes, another one. *grin* Thanks to Izzy for the quick beta job.


Silent Observer

Heavy.

His arms and legs, even the air itself, was heavy. He struggled to move, but only managed a few weak flails of his limbs. Even his head betrayed him, falling against the tall back of the chair. All he could do was stare up at the high, dark ceiling and pray with everything he had that Jim would be the one to come back for him.

He flinched when he heard the shots, his eyes going wide as he renewed his pathetic struggles against the chains binding him. Who was doing the shooting? Jim had dropped his gun, but he always carried a backup.... Didn't he?

And, even if the detective didn't always carry a backup, he had to have brought one with him tonight, knowing he was hunting a serial killer... Yeah, yeah, yeah. Jim had his backup. The shots were his.

Please, God, say the shots were his.

Footsteps approached, heavy and sluggish. Blair felt the drug pulling at him, and his struggles faded. He tried to raise his head, desperate to see who was coming, but he now had no motor control. It was getting harder just keeping his eyes open, and his lids drooped even as his mind screamed for him to stay awake.

He heard a voice, deepened with tension, softened with concern. "Sandburg."

Blair felt a relief so profound that it stole his breath and brought instant tears to his eyes. Thank you, God, oh thank you thank you.

"Chief?" Jim's face slid into view, his blue eyes pinched and his brow furrowed anxiously. "You okay?" He slid a palm to Blair's cheek, his fingers gently curling beneath Blair's jaw to lift his head.

Move! Blair screamed silently, trying to do anything but sit there like a rag doll in front of Jim. Frustration tore at him, erupting from his throat as a weak, unintelligible gurgle. Even his tongue felt heavy and numb, tainted with the acrid taste of the drug, and he wished he could say just two words.

Thank you.

But he couldn't even say that. All he could do was hang in the chair, helpless, chained like an animal, with a yellow scarf around his neck that reeked of the drug.

"Let me check you out, Blair."

Hands touched him, brushing over his arms, ribs, and legs. Then a warm palm patted Blair's cheek gently, barely a whisper of a touch. Finally, strong fingers hooked the scarf, twisting it around to find the knot. It took Jim a few seconds to work out the knot, but soon the scarf was off, and Jim flung it to the floor. "It's got that stuff all over it. Now, hang on a minute, Chief, I'm gonna work on getting you out of these shackles."

Yes, please. Blair's eyes slid closed, his head lolling back to the chair. More footsteps approached, these ones heavy and frantic. Blair's heart sped up, and he tried to open his eyes but realized they, too, had become much too heavy.

"Ellison! Jim?!"

"In here, Simon!"

"We heard the shots..."

"Lash is dead, sir. Be careful of that step!"

"Got it."

Blair remained limp in the chair, listening to the sounds of barely-controlled chaos as a small army seemed to descend the stairs, the footsteps sending vibrations through the floor that shot up the chair and seemed to drum straight into his chest.

Something tugged at the chains around his feet, and a few seconds later, the shackles fell from his ankles. Moments later, the ones around his wrists clattered to the floor as well.

"Blair? You with me?"

Blair opened his mouth, but his tongue wouldn't do anything but lay slack, hanging slightly toward his right cheek and totally incapable of forming speech. Instead, he managed a small groan.

"Is he drugged?" Simon asked.

"Yeah. Chloral Hydrate. Carolyn said Lash's victims were drugged but awake when he killed them."

"This stuff isn't supposed to last very long, though, right?"

"That's right, sir. She said it was short-acting."

"How short?"

"I have no idea, sir."

"Right. Brown, lead the EMT's in here now!"

Blair listened to them talk about him as though he were totally unconscious. It was frustrating and somewhat frightening, as though he were a ghost attending his own funeral. He tried to open his eyes and, this time, managed to lift them a crack. All he saw, though, were several dark, blurry figures looming over him.

"Blair?" Jim's voice. It was followed by a slight tap on his cheek. "You waking up?"

I am awake, Jim. I'm awake... Get me out of this chair, please. Tell everyone to stop looking at me.

"Sandburg?" A large, black figure shifted closer to him. "Hey, kid, don't worry. It's over now. We got him."

Blair tried to nod, thought he succeeded, then let gravity pull his eyelids closed again. He heard and felt more footsteps, then strange voices echoed through the room. The voices got closer, asking him questions he couldn't answer because his tongue still refused to work. Fingers pried his eyelids open. Light pierced his vision, and he winced, trying to pull his head away but stopped by the back of the chair. Instead, he turned his face and closed his eyes tight, his heart picking up speed again and his breathing growing more frantic.

Determined hands grabbed his chin and held his head still as more fingers pried his other eyelid open. The light returned, sending spikes of pain into his skull, and again he tried to turn away, but this time the hands held him firm.

Sudden panic drove his heart wild, giving him enough strength to lift his arms. He batted weakly at the hands holding him, but they remained firm around his jaw. More hands grabbed his arms, pinning them to his lap, holding him down.

What...? What are you doing?! What are you doing?! He opened his eyes again, but between the darkness and his blurred vision, he couldn't make out the details of the face hovering inches from his own.

"Hey!" Jim's voice. "Go easy on him."

"We're doing our job, Detective. Please don't interfere."

Paramedics? Blair's panic eased, some of it melting to fine tremors that he was sure everyone in the room could see.

"Jim..." Simon this time.

"Your job doesn't include terrorizing a frightened college kid who's been drugged, kidnapped, and spent the last few hours thinking this hell-hole would be the last thing he ever saw. Does it?"

Blair searched for the source of the voice, his eyes settling on a figure that stood just behind the tall, white blur looming over Blair.

"Jim, calm down," Simon's rich, deep voice commanded. "Let them work."

Jim... Blair swallowed, his stomach churning at the lingering taste of the drug that coated his tongue and slid down his throat. Please... He closed his eyes and focused everything he had on just forming coherent words.

"Mmmmmm.... Jjjim."

Sudden silence. Then, "Blair?" A hand touched his elbow.

"Noooo."

"What is it, buddy?"

"Amb'lance. No... Please."

"No ambulance?"

Blair shook his head, and it suddenly felt as though the chair were spinning. He stopped his motions suddenly and gave into another groan, battling the nausea that threatened to overtake him.

"We've gotta get you to the hospital, Chief."

Okay. Blair knew that much. The hospital was good. Beds. Pillows. Nurses. But not the ambulance. Not strapped down with strangers doing things to him, and he wouldn't be able to move or even talk very well. But they wouldn't strap him down in the hospital, and Jim would be there, he was pretty sure. And maybe by the time he got to the hospital, he'd be able to move and talk and not feel like a helpless lump of flesh.

 Forcing his eyes open once again, he saw a black-clad figure leaning over him. "Jmmm?"

"Yeah, Chief. Right here. Take it easy and let us get you to the hospital."

"You..."

"What was that?"

"You..." Blair swallowed again, trying to ignore the bitter taste in his mouth. "You... Please... No ambulance."

"You want me to take you the hospital?"

Yes! Blair reached out, grabbing Jim's forearm, his fingers barely closing with any force. "Yesss. Pleassse. Truck."

"That's not a good idea..."

Jim threw a sharp look over his shoulder. "I agree, but if he doesn't want to go with you, I'm not going to force him. Is there any compelling life-or-death reason he needs to go with you?"

"Not that we've been able to discover, but..."

"Then I'll drive him."

"He really should ride with...."

"He said no."

"He's hardly in any condition..."

"I'll take full responsibility."

"We'll need a signature."

"Fine."

Blair closed his eyes, listening to the paramedic mumble a few more protests. Then the sound of pen scraping against paper signaled victory, and Blair felt hands on his arms once again.

"I'm just going to ease you out of this chair, Sandburg... Simon, a hand, please?"

"Sure... You sure he doesn't have any injuries we should be concerned about?"

Jim's voice dropped a notch. "Pretty sure. I was listening to him for a bit from outside. His voice sounded strong, no sign that he was in pain. No signs of broken bones. No heat of inflammation besides a few bruises.

"All right... Bailey, bring Ellison's truck here. Park it right in front of the doors."

Bailey? Blair tried to remember whether he'd ever met a Bailey at the station. He didn't think so.

"Yes, Captain. Keys, Ellison?"

"Right here. Thanks, Bailey." Jangling metal followed by retreating footsteps indicated the transfer. "On three..."

Blair heard Jim count, so when "three" came, he prepared himself. Two sets of hands pulled at his arms, bringing him forward, then lifting him up. He felt himself dangling between the two men, his feet barely touching the ground. The heat from their bodies pressed against him, providing protection against the coldness in the room.

Slowly, they ascended the stairs, his toes banging into the steps with each move upward. Seconds later, the cold night air slammed into him, stinging his cheeks and penetrating the thin veil of warmth leaking into him from Jim and Simon.

"Your chariot," someone said, and Blair figured the voice belonged to that Bailey guy, whoever he was. Maybe he was backup from a different department. Or SWAT.

"Thanks.... Up you go, Chief."

Blair didn't even bother trying to open his eyes as he felt himself lifted into the passenger seat. The belt slid over his chest, and a soft CLICK indicated that he was now securely fastened by the restraint. He didn't mind it, though. Rather, he felt safe, knowing he was sitting in his customary place in Jim's truck. It was all so very familiar and wonderful, and tears threatened again. He'd thought he'd never see Jim again. Never ride with him again.. Never see his mother again. Never be able to apologize to Christine....

"Hang in there, Chief." Jim's warm palm pressed against Blair's cheek, hovering a moment, then disappearing.

Something heavy and warm slid over him, and hands tucked the thick cottony material around his shoulders and under his thighs, acting as a welcome barrier against the Pacific Northwest chill.

The door slammed, rocking the vehicle. A moment later, the opposite, driver's-side door opened, letting in a weak current of cold air that bit Blair's nose and cheeks. Another slam and more rocking indicated that Jim was behind the wheel. The engine turned over, then started, and cold air blasted from the vent in front of Blair.

"It'll warm up in a few seconds," Jim said.

Then they were moving, the car rocking gently over the subtle imperfections of the road, lulling Blair into a gentle, warm sleep.

He woke to another blast of cold air and forced his eyes open, blinking against the blurriness. Why was everything so out of focus? His vision wasn't THAT bad without his glasses.

Two large men dressed in light green hospital gear filled the small frame of the open passenger door, Jim's blurry face visible directly behind them.

"Mr. Sandburg, we're going to help you onto this gurney here, okay?"

Blair nodded, grateful that people were finally talking TO him and asking his permission.

One man leaned in and slid the blanket off him, then unbuckled the seat belt. The orderly then grabbed Blair's legs and, while using one hand to steady Blair's upper body, turned him gently toward the open door. The other man reached in and, with minimal jostling, both orderlies managed to slide Blair from the seat to the gurney in one smooth motion, laying him flat on his back to gaze up at the dark, overcast sky. It looked like it was getting ready to rain.

Of course, it was getting ready to rain. Washington was a very, very wet state. Normally, the weather didn't bother him as much as he pretended, but tonight it seemed particularly gloomy, almost foreboding.

"You okay, Chief?" Jim leaned over him, a hint of a smile playing at his lips, though his eyes betrayed uncertainty and concern.

"Uh-huh." Blair's tongue still wasn't working that well, but at least he'd managed a response.

His eyelids drooped, drifting slowly closed, immersing him in darkness.  He let himself go, floating on the numbing waves of the drug, almost enjoying the gentle motion of the gurney as it rolled along a smooth surface. Everything seemed surreal, and he wondered, for a brief moment, whether he was dreaming. Had any of this actually happened? Or would he, like Dorothy, wake up in his bed and convince himself that the entire, terrifying night had all been a fantasy creation of his subconscious?

If only....

The gurney jerked to a stop.

"Mr. Sandburg?" A new voice, male. "I'm Doctor Novak. Can you open your eyes for me?"

"He was drugged with chloral hydrate, we believe. Our forensics chief said it was short-acting?"

"That's right. It's got a half-life of about 8 hours. Usually it takes about sixty minutes for the drug to reach maximum concentration in the bloodstream. In a few hours, he should be showing significant improvement."

"A few HOURS?"

"Yes, depending on how high a dose he received. We will, of course, do a full tox screen. Once we have those results, I'll be able to give you better answers."

"How long will that take?"

"Two to three hours, if we're lucky. I'll ask the lab to put a rush on it since I'd like to make sure Mr. Sandburg's kidnapper didn't give him anything more dangerous than chloral hydrate."

"Thanks, Doc."

The gurney slid into motion again, and Blair listened from a drug-induced distance as the doctor continued to ask questions and give orders, the two forms of communication distinguishable to Blair only by the changing tones of the man's voice.

Once again, the gurney came to a jarring halt. Hands lifted Blair to a sitting position and slipped off his jacket, then his two shirts, leaving him bare-chested. Firm fingers wrapped around his arm, bending and straightening it. Then those same hands tied something painfully tight around his bicep.

A sharp pain at the inner crook of his elbow brought him a little more awake, but only for a moment. The drug insisted on pulling him back to a lazy detachment as quickly as possible, and he felt himself drifting again as the needle slid out of his vein and the needle-bearer pressed something firmly over the wound.

"Mr. Sandburg?" The doctor's voice again. "I'd really like it if you could open your eyes for me."

Oh, okay. Reluctantly, Blair focused on lifting his eyelids. They responded sluggishly, revealing a blurry whiteness all around him. A face swam into view, terribly out of focus, and Blair blinked instinctively, trying futilely to clear his vision.

"That's good, Mr. Sandburg. Do you know where you are?"

Yes, he knew where he was. The hospital. Where was Jim? He really wanted to get home as fast as possible, and that would happen a lot more quickly if Jim were around. The sentinel seemed to be able to read his mind. At least, he'd figured out what Blair was trying to tell him back at the...

He swallowed hard and closed his eyes. He didn't want to think about that now. All he wanted to do was sleep -- go home and sleep without knowing that strangers were hovering over him, watching him and touching him when he was as vulnerable as a newborn infant.

All he had to do was ask, he knew. The hospital couldn't keep him against his will, so if he could just open his eyes, convince his tongue to work, he could tell the doctor 'thank you for checking me out, do what you need to, but please be fast because I really want to go home right now, please, thank you."

He told his eyelids to open. They did. Step one. The doctor wasn't in his line of sight, but Blair was sure the man was around somewhere. All he had to do was convince his tongue to work.

Step two was a little more difficult. His tongue felt like a wad of paste in his mouth, but he focused on forming slow words.

"Doooc...."

The blurry figured appeared suddenly. "Mr. Sandburg?"

Okay, now for the big finish. "I... want to... get... out soon. Not spend the night... please."

"You don't want to spend the night here?"

"No."

"Well, if your tests come back clear, I see no reason why you can't go home. We're sending you to radiology right now and getting your ribs and skull x-rayed since you seem a bit banged up in those areas. If those are both clear, you could be a free man very soon."

A free man... His mind stumbled back to the warehouse, and he could actually feel the weight of the chains on his arms and legs. He shivered and closed his eyes, pushing the memory away. "C-Can... Jim be here... please."

"You'd feel more comfortable if Detective Ellison were here with you?"

"Uh-huh."

"Sure... Nurse, can you go into the waiting room and ask Detective Ellison if he would mind coming back here?"

"Yes, Doctor."

Blair forced his eyes back open, surprised at the doctor's easy acquiescence. He tried to focus on the man's blurry image, but only managed marginal success. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. With what you've been through tonight, I have no desire to make this any harder on you than necessary. I'll try to get these tests done quickly and painlessly and send you on your way home."

The kindness in the man's voice surprised Blair even more, and he blinked, tears once again springing to his eyes. How could he feel numb one moment and ready to burst into tears the next?

"Doc...?"

"Yeah?"

"Blurry..."

"Your vision is blurred?"

"Uh-huh."

"Not to worry. I don't think you have a concussion. Blurry vision is a side effect of chloral hydrate, so your vision should clear soon."

"'Kay... Thanks."

"Chief, you okay?"

Blair's eyes snapped to the familiar voice, and he saw the hazy image of his partner walking toward him.

The doctor answered. "Yes, Detective, he's okay, but a bit stressed, understandably, from the night's events. He just needs a friend around, I think."

Jim stopped next to the gurney and placed a warm hand on Blair's arm. "He's got that. Thanks for getting me."

"No problem, Detective. It could be a while before he's ready to go home, although I promised him I'd try to get him out of here as fast as possible."

"He wants to go home?"

"Very badly, from what I gather."

"I don't blame him."

Blair closed his eyes, listening to the soft, familiar voices as he drifted slowly toward sleep, knowing that Jim would be by his side the whole time, and in a few hours, he'd be back home in his bed... And in the morning he'd wake up and everything would be normal and familiar and he'd get to take a shower and drink his algae shake and go to class...

Oh, except it was Saturday tomorrow, wasn't it? So, he'd go to the station with Jim... Jim worked tomorrow, didn't he? Well, he'd either be at home with Jim or at the station, and Lash was dead, so he didn't have to worry about anything anymore, and tomorrow he could thank Jim... and Simon and Brown and that Bailey guy, too.

Thank you, Jim. For saving my life. Thank you.

The hand on Blair's arm offered a slight squeeze, and Blair wondered whether he'd actually spoken out loud. He didn't think so, but maybe Jim really could read his mind.

Or maybe Jim just knew all ready.

The End.

 

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