Fallen Hero/Fallen Friend
They stood with the other mourners as the service continued. Jim spared a quick glance off to his left, checking once again on his partner. Blair's eyes were closed, the pain lines evident on his face. He leaned against the cane he held. Jim also picked up on Blair's labored breathing.
Jim shook his head - this was the wrong thing to do. Blair should still be in the hospital, or, at the very least, resting in bed at the apartment but Blair insisted on coming to the memorial service for Officer Ken Spencer. Jim closed his eyes as the memories of that day flooded back.
It was supposed to be a routine bust. Surround the house and get the occupants to surrender. Jim and Officer Mike Peters took the front and Blair and Officer Ken Spencer took the back. Just when they got in place, there was an explosion that came from the back of the house.
Both Jim and Mike panicked, realizing their partners were back there. They called for backup and arrested the ones that had been inside the house. They had jumped from the side window, getting out of the house before it exploded. Jim went to check on Ken and Blair while Mike looked after those arrested.
Jim rushed over to both men - discovering they were both still alive, but in serious condition. Jim called for ambulances and stayed with them. Eventually Mike was able to come over and stay with Ken.
Later, Jim found out Officer Spencer died en route to the hospital. Jim knew he'd have to tell Blair about it. Officer Spencer saved Blair's life by throwing himself over Blair when the house exploded.
Somehow, Jim knew Blair knew before he had a chance to relay it to him. It devastated Blair because he knew Ken Spencer fairly well. Blair conveyed the request to Jim that he wanted to go to the funeral. Jim tried to dissuade Blair from going, but he was adamant about being there. Jim finally relented, but promised Blair he'd keep an eye on him. Blair consented to Jim's watchful eye.
Jim edged closer to Blair, taking his arm, holding him upright. Blair looked up at Jim, showing his acceptance of the assistance. The service ended and Blair started to move forward, but Jim held him effectively in place without much effort. Blair turned towards Jim, wondering what he was doing.
"Why don't we wait a bit and let the others extend their condolences?"
Blair nodded his acceptance to Jim's plan. He watched as the majority of the Cascade Police Department filed by the family, which included Officer Spencer's wife and two children, his two brothers and sister and his mother, along with other more distant family.
Blair's thoughts were on Ken's immediate family. It would be hard to continue on without a father and a husband. Blair had met Charlene, Ken's wife, at a Cascade PD picnic a couple of years ago and they had become great friends. Blair was like another uncle to the children, Ken, Jr., age five and Susie, age three.
Blair watched how Charlene held up under the pressure, the attention, and the grief of the day. It helped to take his mind away from the pain he felt. Although, with Jim by his side, it seemed to magically lessen of its own accord.
Eventually, most everyone left and Jim helped Blair forward. Charlene looked up, seeing Jim and Blair standing there. She got to her feet and came over to Blair, hugging him close. Then she realized Blair was hurting also and released him.
"I'm sorry, Blair. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"You didn't hurt me, Charlene. I wanted to come, for you and the kids "
"Jim and Mike told me that Ken saved your life. I'm glad you survived, Blair. If both of you had died, I don't know if I could take it."
"I I'm sorry he's dead, Charlene. I didn't want that to happen. He should have saved himself."
"That's not the way Ken was. He was just like his father. He died in the line of duty, too. I don't want you to feel like this is your fault, Blair Sandburg. And I expect you to come around and see the kids and me. They were asking about you when I told them you had been hurt."
Blair reached up and wiped away the tears in his eyes. "Well, I best go over and see them." Blair gave Charlene a kiss on the cheek and moved over to where the children sat.
With some effort and a grunt of pain, Blair knelt down so he was level with Ken, Jr. and Susie. He knew that neither child understood fully what had happened to their father.
"Hey, munchkins! I heard that you were asking about me."
"Yeah, mommy said you got hurt when daddy did," said Ken, who had tears in his eyes. "She said you wouldn't be by to see us."
"I'm here now, buddy. Come over here."
Ken jumped down off his chair and helped Susie down. They cautiously walked over to Blair. They stood several steps away from Blair, unsure of what they should do.
"You can come closer, kids. I'm not going to break."
Susie was the first one to move over to Blair's side. She reached out a hand, tentatively touching the bandage on Blair's hand. "Boo-boo?"
Blair smiled through his tears. "Yeah, sweetie. It's a boo-boo, but I'm going to be okay. It will be gone in no time."
Ken, Jr. made his way over to Blair and put his arms around Blair's neck. He endured the added pressure, knowing Ken, Jr. needed the contact. He could hear the hitches in the boy's breathing. Blair reached up and patted Ken, Jr. on the back.
"It's okay, kids. How about I come over to see you in a few days?" Blair looked around the kids to Charlene, who was wiping away her own tears and nodding her head yes. Both kids agreed with the idea of Blair coming over.
Blair reached over and guided Susie over to him, hugging her close, along with her brother. "Now, I want you to go back over to you mom and help her as much as you can. She's going to need both of you on your best behavior and helping her from now on. Can you do that?"
Both kids nodded their heads and went back over to their mother. Blair looked over at Charlene again and smiled. "I'll be by in a few days, if that's okay with you?"
"It's fine, Blair. I appreciate it."
As Blair went to get up, he grunted in pain. Jim was immediately by his side, offering him support, both physically and mentally.
Blair turned to face Jim. "Thanks, man."
"Well, someone has to make sure you don't take a header in a cemetery. Are you about ready to go?"
"Yeah, we're good to go." Blair waved at Ken, Jr. and Susie as Jim firmly led Blair back to the truck.
Once inside the truck, Jim watched as Blair's resolve and reserve strength gave out. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"We good to go home?"
There was silence for a minute before Blair answered. "Um yeah. You know, that was a hard thing to go through. It wasn't the first cop's funeral I've attended, but it was one of the few where I have known the deceased personally."
"Yeah, that's when things get rough, Chief. It's always harder when it's someone you know, especially another cop "Jim's voice drifted off.
"Sorry about that, Jim. I know it must be hard for you, too."
"It's okay, Blair."
Soon, they were home and Jim helped Blair out of the truck. Jim noticed Blair limped and knew he had pushed a little too far. At least now, they were home and Blair could rest.
Jim helped Blair inside the building and into the elevator. He could tell Blair was about to drop. And Blair put his total trust in Jim to maneuver him towards the loft as he kept his eyes closed.
"Just a little further, Chief."
Jim unlocked the door, momentarily stopping Blair's forward motion and Blair opened his eyes to see what was happening. He smiled to see they were home. Then they were inside the apartment. Jim watched as Blair shuffled over to sit down on the couch.
"Do you want something to eat?"
"Nah, I'm not hungry, but I would like a bottle of water and one of my pain pills."
Jim smiled, knowing how much it took Blair to admit to needing a pain pill. He brought the pill and the water over to Blair and sat down beside him on the couch. He carefully handed Blair both and watched while Blair took the pill and drank most of the bottle of water. He grabbed the bottle out of Blair's hand before he started to drift.
"Pleasant dreams, Chief," whispered Jim as he got to his feet to let Blair rest in peace.