The Waiting Is The Hardest Part
Summary: Jim is injured and Blair waits for him to come to.
Acknowledgment: Thanks to Lyn for the wonderful beta job as always.
Blair sat by the bedside, trying to stop the tears from falling. He glanced back over to the still figure lying in the hospital bed. Machines surrounded him, keeping track of various life-signs and delivering fluids, blood and medicines. Blair had asked that the machine's alarms be muted in deference to the patient's condition. The nurses had granted him that concession.
"Damn, Jim!" Blair whispered the words, while at the same time rubbing Jim's lax hand between his two. Jim's hand was cold - unusual because Jim's hands were never cold. Blair had to smile - Jim wasn't cold at all. Which was why Blair loved to snuggle with Jim in bed - he would warm up Blair.
Blair leaned over and placed a soft kiss on Jim's hand. There was no response from Jim. Blair looked at the bandages criss-crossing Jim's chest, with leads, wires and tubes all over. There was a slight seepage from one of the wounds. Blair watched, fascinated that Jim would actually have blood left to lose. He gently laid Jim's hand back on the bed and reached over to push the call button for the nurse.
"They'll take care of you, Jim."
Blair looked up at the nurse when she walked in. "There's bleeding coming through one of the bandages."
"We'll take care of it. I'll need you to step out of the room, Mr. Sandburg."
Blair nodded his head. He looked at Jim once more and slowly got to his feet. "Thank you." Blair walked out of the room, looking around the Intensive Care area. He left the immediate area, stopping in the waiting room to get himself a cup of coffee. After getting the coffee, he sat down in a chair, leaning back to rest his head against the back of the chair. He closed his eyes, more tired than he had been in a long time.
As he sat there, the memory of the shooting came back with perfect clarity. He and Jim had gone to talk to a potential witness of a brutal beating. When they arrived at the address, Jim had determined there were several people inside the house. They cautiously walked to the front door and Jim knocked. A minute later, all hell broke loose as bullets started flying from inside the house.
Both Jim and Blair backed up, taking stock of the situation. Both had their guns out, ready to return fire if a viable target became available. Jim had Blair call for backup. While Blair was making the phone call, Jim was looking for a better vantage point. This was when he got shot - three times, once in the arm and twice in the chest. Blair had quickly concluded the phone call with 'Officer down!' and went to return fire, hitting two of the occupants of the house. He was able to pull Jim out of the line of fire.
Blair could see how seriously Jim had been hurt. He tried to quell the bleeding from one of the chest wounds, but hesitated when Jim moaned and cried out from the pain.
"Oh, God, Jim! You've got to hold on! Please! For me! For us!"
Jim was able to open his eyes and look at Blair. He spoke softly and Blair had to lean down to hear him. "I love you, baby."
Blair let a sob escape from his mouth. "I love you too." Blair gathered Jim into his arms and held on until Simon Banks arrived and was able to dislodge him from Jim's side. The paramedics started assessing Jim's injuries while Simon got the full story from Blair, who kept watching the paramedics work on his lover.
With the addition of more officers, the occupants of the house quickly surrendered and the ones shot by Blair were treated before being taken away. Blair got permission to go in the ambulance with his partner and Simon told him he'd meet them at the hospital. Blair climbed up into the ambulance and was able to sit on Jim's right side. The trip to the hospital seemed to take forever.
Once at the hospital, Jim was quickly evaluated and then taken up to surgery. Blair only got a few minutes with Jim before they rushed him in.
"I'll be right here when you come out, lover. Don't disappoint me."
Unfortunately, there was no answer from Jim as he was already unconscious. Blair leaned over and planted a kiss on Jim's forehead before they came to move him up to surgery. Blair came out when Jim was brought out of the room and stood standing by Simon as Jim was wheeled towards the elevators. Finally, Simon got Blair to go up to the waiting room and tried to occupy the younger man's thoughts as they waited for word about Jim's condition.
It took almost eight hours before the doctor came to the waiting room. Blair was immediately on his feet, asking about Jim.
"We were able to remove the bullets. Now, it's only a matter of time to determine whether or not Mr. Ellison makes a full recovery."
"I need to stay at his side. I'm his partner. We're there for each other."
"Just as long as you don't wear yourself out, Mr. Sandburg."
"Thank you, doctor."
Blair jerked and his eyes opened. He had almost fallen asleep in the chair. He finished drinking his coffee and got to his feet. They should be about finished with changing Jim's bandage. As he walked towards the door, it opened and Simon Banks walked into the room.
"Captain! What are you doing here?"
"I came to check up on my best detective team. I saw that there were several nurses working on Jim. Is something wrong?"
"No. No, I just noticed that one of the bandages was leaking and I alerted the nurse. I have to leave when they change the bandages or take readings. I needed a break anyway."
"You look like you need rest, Blair. How are you holding up?" Simon eyed Blair carefully.
"I'm doing okay, sir. I'm just waiting for Jim to come to, to make sure he's okay and he knows where he's at. I know from personal experience that it's a little disorienting to wake up in the hospital and not quite remember how you got there. Jim's done that for me so many times. I have to reciprocate." Blair looked around the room and then back at Simon. "I didn't ask how those people that were in the house are."
"You shot two of them. One is still in critical condition and the other has been released to lockup. You did what you had to do, Sandburg. Don't second guess your decision."
"I know it was necessary, Captain. I was protecting my partner, as well as myself. Any word when the shooting board will be convening?"
"I haven't heard any formal date yet. I'll keep you updated."
"Let's go see if they've finished changing the bandage. Maybe you can convince Jim it's time to come to."
Simon could only chuckle as he followed Blair back to Jim's Intensive Care room and walked in with him. Jim was still unconscious and Simon could tell that the whole thing was wearing on Blair.
Of course, being good friends with Jim and Blair, Simon knew that the two men were lovers as well as partners. Although, Simon didn't want the details of their relationship, he was happy for both men. And their work had not been hampered by the added dimension of their relationship.
Simon only stayed a few minutes, seeing that Jim wasn't going to come to just yet. He spoke to Blair.
"If you need anything, you can call me. Or anyone else in the department. They are all worried about Jim, too."
"Thank you, Captain. I'll let you know when he comes to."
"And get some rest yourself, Blair." Simon used his best command voice.
Blair smiled at Simon. "Yes, sir."
Blair sat down by Jim's bedside, taking Jim's hand in his. Simon stood there for a few minutes, watching as Blair whispered softly to Jim, no doubt encouraging him to come to. Finally, Simon turned and left the room.
After several hours of just sitting there, waiting for Jim to regain consciousness, Blair finally laid his head down on the edge of the bed, closing his eyes and still holding onto Jim's hand. He was asleep within minutes.
When the nurse came in to take the readings a half an hour later, she didn't even wake Blair up to get him to leave the room. She just worked around him. She was pleased to note that the patient's vital signs seemed to be improving ever since the younger man had been by the bedside. She knew he talked to the patient, but couldn't hear what was being said. They must be great friends.
Jim opened his eyes and quickly closed them again. Before he opened them again, he took stock of his body. And then the memory of what happened came back to him. They had shot at him when he was trying to get into position! He had been hit at least twice. There was pain throughout his body. He opened his eyes again, this time dialing down all his senses before he did so. He felt the weight on his right side. He moved his head to look in that direction and smiled. Blair's head of curls was there. Jim tried to free his right hand, but discovered it was imprisoned by Blair's fingers curled around it. That was okay.
Jim was sure Blair had worn himself out sitting by the hospital bedside. It was the same thing Jim would have done had the roles been reversed. It's something they had done even in the early days of their friendship and now that they were lovers, it took on a more urgent meaning. Jim had remembered the shooting and Blair right by his side, telling him he had called for backup and had pulled Jim out of the line of fire. And Blair had implored him to hold on - for both of them. Blair had held onto him and Jim had felt safe.
Blair opened his eyes and raised his head. He could see the light shining through the closed shades on the window. It must be morning. Blair looked over at Jim and thought his color looked better. He got to his feet and leaned over to give Jim a kiss on the forehead. He kept his lips against Jim's forehead as he whispered, "I love you, sweet."
"I - love - you, too, baby."
Blair pulled back and looked directly into the blue eyes of his lover. "Ji-im? Oh, God Jim!" Blair leaned back down, kissing Jim on the lips this time. Just a chaste kiss, not wanting to get Jim too excited. "I have to let the nurses know you've come to." Blair grabbed the call button and pushed it. "Of course, they'll make me leave while they examine you."
"I'm fine. I returned fire when they shot at you. I hit two of them. One is still in critical condition and the other has been released into lockup. Simon's going to let me know the date of the shooting board hearing."
"I'm sure you'll be cleared. They started the shooting. You were just defending us."
"I know that. I'm so glad you came to. How are your senses?"
"I dialed them down. I woke up earlier when you were still asleep. I didn't want to disturb you."
At that time, two nurses came in, seeing Jim was alert and awake. "It's good to see you awake, Mr. Ellison. Mr. Sandburg, you'll have to excuse us while we examine Mr. Ellison."
"I'll let Simon and the others know you're awake. I'll be back."
"I hope so."
Blair left the room and found the payphone at the end of the hall. He made the call to the station, getting through to Simon's office.
"Jim came to this morning, Captain."
"That's good news, Blair. Is he okay?"
"So far. They kicked me out to examine him, but I'll be able to talk to his doctor later and find out how long he has to stay."
"Do you want one of us to come and take you home? I could come, or one of the others "
"I'm going to stay until the doctor shows up. I'll call you back."
"Okay, Blair. But make sure you do. You need to get some real rest, in your own bed."
"I know, I know, Captain. I'll let you know."
"Also, let us know when Jim's up for visitors."
"Well, probably not until they move him out of Intensive Care. I'll keep you updated, sir."
"Okay, Sandburg. I'll be by after I leave the station."
Blair hung up the phone and went back towards Jim's room. The nurses were still in there, poking and prodding Jim. Blair knew the routine all too well. He stood at the window, looking inside, watching Jim endure the routine. It had been some time since Jim had gone through this.
It was about ten minutes later when one of the nurses came out and stopped by Blair. "You can go back inside, Mr. Sandburg. Dr. Fortner will be by in a few hours to do another check, but you can stay until he shows up."
"Thank you." Blair walked back into Jim's room, just as the other nurse finished writing down the life signs. "He was wondering why you were gone so long."
"I'll take care of it. Thank you."
Blair walked on over to the bed and looked down at Jim. "You okay?"
"I was just worried about you. You were gone a long time."
"It wasn't that long, Jim. I was talking to Simon."
"He going to make sure you get home okay?"
"We'll see. I was really worried about you this time, Jim. You shouldn't have tried to grab them by yourself."
"I was just trying to find an angle to try to get them to surrender."
"Still, you should have waited for backup. Or at least until I was finished calling for backup."
"Sometimes I forget I'm not the lone detective anymore."
Blair leaned down, giving Jim a deep and satisfying kiss. "There. That way you won't forget again."
"I'm sorry I worried you, baby. So, you're staying for a while?"
"Yeah, Simon said he'd stop by after work. Maybe I will go home. These chairs aren't the most comfortable when you're trying to get sleep."
"I'll be fine for a few hours without you. And Simon will want you to go back to the PD."
Blair had drifted off asleep again by the time Simon had arrived at the hospital. Simon walked into Jim's room and Jim indicated that Blair was asleep. Simon didn't make any unnecessary noise as he stood on the other side of Jim's bed.
"How are you doing, Jim?"
"Well, the doctor was in here earlier and they're going to move me to a regular room tomorrow morning. I'll probably have to stay in the hospital to the end of the week. Blair wasn't too happy about that, but the doctor wants to make sure there's no infection or residual bleeding. I'll have to go into rehab after I get out of the hospital."
"Well, I heard from the shooting board this afternoon. Blair's hearing isn't until the end of the week, and he's on paid leave until then. I thought I'd come and try to get him to go home to his own comfortable bed. You think he'd be amenable to the suggestion?"
"Well, let me wake him up and we'll see."
Jim took his right hand and gently cupped Blair's face. "Chief, you want to wake up? Simon's here and he's willing to take you home. Just think; you'll have the whole bed to yourself and you won't be putting any more cricks in your back." Jim gently patted Blair's cheek and was rewarded a short time later when Blair opened his eyes and smiled at him.
Blair sat up and saw Simon was there. "Hi, Captain. Sorry about falling asleep on you, Jim."
"It's okay. Simon's here to take you home. I think you should take him up on his offer."
Blair blinked several times and looked around the room. Jim knew Blair wasn't totally awake yet. Blair looked from Simon and then back to Jim.
"I think I'll go home with Simon, Jim." Blair chuckled and then spoke again. "I mean, I think I'll let Simon take me to the loft. Did someone take care of Jim's truck?"
"I had Brown drive it to the loft. It's in the parking lot."
"Thanks, Simon. If you want to wait outside, I'll be out in a few minutes."
"Okay, Sandburg. But you only get five minutes. After that, I'm leaving without you."
Simon left the room. Blair turned his attention back to Jim. "I'll be back tomorrow. Hopefully, before they move you to your regular room." Blair leaned over, giving Jim another deep kiss. Jim participated as much as he could. But it was obvious Jim wasn't at full strength. Blair broke off the kiss and Jim moaned.
"I love you, baby. Make sure you get some sleep."
"I will. I better get out there, or Simon will leave me behind."
Blair walked towards the door, pausing to look back at Jim, happy he was awake and was on the road to recovery. Blair left the room, thinking the only thing he had to do now was survive the shooting board. But, it had been like Simon had said. A good shoot. He wouldn't worry about it tonight.
He smiled at Simon and they took the elevator down to the main floor. On the way down, Simon explained about the hearing with the shooting board and that Blair was on paid leave until there was a determination. Blair was happy with that. It would allow him more time to spend with Jim and to get things ready for Jim when he would be coming home. Blair planned on pampering Jim.
Blair got up early on Friday morning, taking his shower and getting dressed in his most conservative blue suit and muted-colored tie. He definitely didn't want to attract attention to himself at the shooting board hearing. He was due at the PD at 9:00 AM. He had mentioned to Simon that Jim was scheduled to be released from the hospital at around 11:00 AM and that if he wasn't available, he wanted someone else to pick Jim up from the hospital and take him home to the loft. Simon had assured Blair someone would be there to pick up Jim if Blair wasn't available.
Blair had also reminded Jim that he might not be able to pick him up from the hospital. Jim told Blair to just tell the facts of what had happened to the shooting board and that everything would turn out okay. Blair had expressed the wish that Jim could be with him. Jim told Blair he'd be with him, in his heart and his mind. It had helped Blair to relax and realize he would be okay.
Blair looked at himself once more in the full-length mirror that was in their bedroom. Everything looked perfect, each hair perfectly in place, pulled back into a ponytail. Blair closed his eyes as he stood there and slowly opened them again. It was time to go, he had procrastinated long enough. He skipped down the steps to the main living area and grabbed another cup of coffee. He took several deep breaths as he left the loft.
Blair walked into the hospital room and saw Jim standing by the window. Obviously waiting for someone to arrive.
Without turning around, Jim spoke. "So, how did it go with the shooting board?"
"All of their reports indicated that the shooting was justified. I was protecting my partner and myself. It came out that of the five people in the house, four of them had guns and all four had gotten off shots. I told you we should have waited for backup."
By the time Blair had finished talking, he was behind Jim, winding his arms around Jim's waist, careful of the bandages still in place. Blair rested his head on Jim's back, holding on to the solid form of his lover.
"You gonna keep holding me like this all day?"
"Just for a few minutes. I'm so very grateful you are going to be okay."
Jim was able to turn around within the hold of Blair's arms and leaned down to kiss Blair. They stayed in each other's arms for the longest time, needing to reconnect and feel each other.
"Do you have to go back to work?"
"I told Simon I needed the rest of today, but I'm back on active duty and one of us has to have a job to bring in some money."
"You couldn't even say that with a straight face, baby. You could put in a request for vacation, or for sick leave to take care of me."
"I don't think Simon would go for it. You'll be resting most of the time anyway. At least that's what you're supposed to be doing."
"Well, at least we'll have the rest of today. I hear the doctor coming."
Blair helped Jim over to sit down in the chair there and stood by the chair, his hand on Jim's shoulder. The doctor walked into the room.
"Well, Jim, are you ready to go home?"
"Yes, doctor. Not that I don't like the personnel here, but I think I'll sleep much better in my own home, in my own bed."
"I have to agree with you there. I want to remind you that you still have to take things slow and easy and if the pain becomes too intense, we can prescribe a higher dose of painkiller to help. Just make sure you don't overdo on things. I'm sure Blair will keep an eye on you."
"I will, Dr. Fortner."
Jim signed the release papers and Blair made sure all of his things were packed up and ready to take home. Jim even consented to the ride in the wheelchair. Blair put Jim's duffel bag in his lap and went to push the wheelchair towards the main entrance.
Blair leaned over to whisper to Jim. "I'll go get my car and then we'll be on our way, lover."
Jim could only smile as he watched Blair bound outside the hospital. A few minutes later, he was pulling up in front of the doors where Jim waited. Blair opened the passenger side door and then ran back inside, helping the nurse get Jim to his feet and out to the car.
Once Jim was sitting in the passenger seat, Blair turned to the nurse. "I think I can handle it from here. Thanks for the help." Blair flashed a smile and she returned inside the hospital.
Blair turned his attention back to Jim. He leaned over to hook the seat belt, not wanting Jim to overexert himself. Jim reached up his arms and encircled Blair within them.
"Jim! Not now! At least wait until we get home."
Jim reluctantly gave up his hold and Blair rewarded him with a kiss to the lips before he closed the door and went around to the driver's side. Blair got inside the car and drove them home. He noted Jim dozed on the ride home. It would take some time for Jim to regain his strength and stamina.
When they reached the loft, Jim roused up and was actually able to help Blair by remaining upright and walking on his own to the elevator. He rested against the back wall of the elevator while Blair pushed the button for three.
"We'll be inside the loft soon, lover."
Jim's eyes were closed. "I know, baby. I'm sorry I'm so weak."
"Don't apologize, Jim. You'll regain your strength. And I look forward to taking care of you."
The elevator reached the third floor and Blair helped Jim off, putting his arm around Jim's midsection. Jim actually rested his head on Blair's shoulder. Blair got them to the front door of the loft, quickly unlocking the door and getting them both inside. He kicked the door partially closed with his foot and went to deposit Jim on the couch.
"I'll be right back, Jim."
Blair went and closed the door, making sure it was locked. He went and placed Jim's duffel on the kitchen table and then got a bottle of water out of the refrigerator and shook out a pain pill for Jim. He walked back over to Jim, noticing he had leaned his head back and his eyes were closed. Blair sat down beside him, opened the water bottle and then spoke.
"I have your pain pill, Jim. Take it, and then I'll set up the couch so you can get some rest."
"I'd much rather go upstairs to bed."
"Not right now, Jim. I don't want both of us taking a tumble. Let's make sure you're steadier on your feet first."
Jim took the pain pill and several swallows of water and handed the bottle back to Blair. Blair sat it down on the table in front of the couch.
"I'll get your pillow and a blanket. You want anything else?"
"You." There was a slight whine in Jim's voice.
"I'll be down here with you. You'll be able to pick me up. Sight, sound, smell, feel, even taste. I'll bring out my laptop and work at the table in front of the couch. How's that sound?"
"Perfect." Jim was becoming more relaxed as he sat on the couch. Blair knew he had to get Jim settled in before he was completely out. He ran up the steps to their bedroom, grabbing Jim's special soft pillow and their comforter off the bed. He came back downstairs and was able to move Jim around and get him situated under the comforter. Blair sat down on the floor in front of the couch and just watched as Jim slipped into sleep. After several minutes, Jim was softly snoring.
Blair silently got to his feet, went into his office, which used to be his bedroom, and brought out his laptop and the article he had been working on for an anthropology magazine. Even though he was a detective, Blair still kept in touch with the world of anthropology and still submitted several articles a year, most of them based on the police department or some criminal element with a unique pattern. Blair sat in front of the couch, just in case Jim woke up. This way, Jim would know Blair was nearby. For now, Blair was the protector and Jim was the one being protected. Blair took his role as seriously as Jim took his.
Now that they were home, things would finally be okay. Blair could relax and Jim would be able to heal fully. Things were back to semi-normal in the Ellison-Sandburg home.