Connected

Debbie Tripp

Rating: PG-13

Beta'd: Thanks to Lyn for the fast beta job, catching those little mistakes I keep making over and over.

Warnings: Jim and Blair owies (together in one story)

Disclaimer: I do not own The Sentinel characters and this is done solely for entertainment purposes and no money is being made.

Summary: After Jim and Blair get hurt camping, things go from bad to worse.

This is written in response to Helen W. March themefic in which she said: I want something very smarmy containing the phrase "I thought you were dead". It's not very smarmy, except towards the end. Hope it fits the bill.

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"C'mon, Chief. Just get in the helicopter."

Jim Ellison tried to move Blair Sandburg in the general direction of the waiting helicopter. But Blair didn't want to move. He looked up at Jim.

"I can't, Jim. Besides elevators and bombs, helicopters are my least favorite thing."

"Well, you can't very well walk down the mountain. You've got a twisted knee and ankle, and placing weight on both will cause more damage. You'll be in traction for the rest of the year."

"Can't the paramedics rig up a carrier for me?"

"No, they can't. There's a storm coming into the area and they need to get us to the bottom of this mountain by that time. And the fastest way is the helicopter. I'll be with you, buddy. I can't walk down the mountain either. We're in the same boat, or helicopter, as it is."

"You'll be with me?" Jim shook his head yes, still holding onto Blair with his good, left arm. "Okay."

The paramedics helped both men into the helicopter, helping to secure each man. There were several radio communications between the base station and the helicopter, as they were checking to make sure they still had their window of opportunity to bring down the two injured campers.

Jim listened as the helicopter pilot was given the go-ahead to take off. Beside him, he could sense Blair's growing uneasiness. He hadn't realized Blair had such a phobia for helicopters. But, thinking back over Blair's experiences in helicopters, Jim concluded it was no wonder Blair was so paranoid. Although, there had never been any major mishaps. Jim looked over at Blair, noting the younger man's eyes were scrunched closed in anticipation. Jim reached over his left hand, taking Blair's right hand in his. Automatically, Blair squeezed Jim's hand and Jim accepted the pressure.

Jim whispered to Blair. "I'm your connection, Chief."

As the helicopter lifted off, Blair squeezed Jim's hand even harder and started mumbling, "It will be okay, it will be okay."

It was only minutes later that Jim heard the falter of the engine. He hoped it wasn't anything serious, but then there was another sputter and another, and then the helicopter was free-falling from the sky. Jim heard the frantic mayday call from the pilot, heard curses from the crew on board and heard as the helicopter slashed through the trees in its descent. He kept his hold on Blair's hand, though.

There was a violent shudder and the helicopter seemed to flip upside down and over and over as it hit the ground. Somewhere in that movement, Jim lost contact with Blair's hand and heard the young man scream his name and saw him fly through the air.

Jim tried to reassure Blair, but the air had been forced out of him by the impact and it felt as if there was a heavy weight on his chest and legs. Jim tried to look around to spot Blair, but he couldn't see him. Jim did notice that part of the helicopter had been ripped away by the impact. It reminded Jim of another helicopter crash he had been involved in, in Peru, when his men died. It was a wonder he wasn't phobic about helicopters along with Blair.

Jim tried to move, but was unable to. He tried to see if anyone else had survived the crash, but he couldn't. He felt broken bones and internal bleeding inside his own body and lost consciousness a short time later.

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Blair had felt the shudder of the helicopter, but thought it was no big deal. Then it happened several more times and he increased his hold on Jim's hand. He was glad Jim was with him. Otherwise, he'd be yelling like a crazy person. Blair heard the mayday by the pilot and the curses of the other crew members. Jim didn't say a word. Blair peeked at Jim and noticed he seemed as scared as Blair was. Jim squeezed Blair's hand back, trying to convey trust. Blair did trust Jim, but how long were they going to live?

As the helicopter fell and turned and crashed, Blair's hand was ripped from Jim's. Blair tried to find it again, but he couldn't see Jim.

"Jim! Where are you? Ji-i-im-m-m-m!" Blair screamed at the top of his lungs, not caring how he looked now. He was going to die anyway. He flew through the air, landing hard on the other side of the helicopter, his knee and leg and ankle all impacting at the same time. He thought he heard bones break, not sure if they were his or someone else's. Then a seat hit him in the head and he lost consciousness.

The aid station at the bottom of the mountain couldn't believe it. The mayday had been sent and then the crash could be heard even fifty feet away. Search and rescue teams were quickly dispatched and all available ambulance and paramedics were called in for duty. There had been a crew of four on the helicopter, along with the two injured campers that had been rescued. No one knew why the helicopter had crashed or the conditions of those on board.

As they explored the area of the crash, they discovered pieces of the helicopter strewn all over the side of the mountain. The two paramedics were found outside of the helicopter, through a hole that had been ripped in the side during the impact of the crash. Both were still alive, although they were in serious condition. It was an odd feeling working on fellow paramedics, but soon they were stabilized and transported down the mountain on carriers.

Jim was the next one found, inside a chunk of the helicopter. He was unconscious and in serious condition. Besides his initial broken right arm, his legs were broken and there was worry of internal bleeding. He was stabilized as best as they could and transported down the mountain.

The helicopter pilot was found next, still strapped into his seat. He was in serious condition also, with broken bones and a possible skull fracture. He had cuts and was bleeding on his face and hands from the glass shattering from the windshield.

While he was being stabilized, the other crew member and Blair were both found. Both were trapped beneath debris from the helicopter. Blair was outside of the structure of the helicopter. Both were unconscious. The other crew member had a large gash in his side, which was bleeding heavily. The first search and rescue unit made it back to the area as they were still trying to get Blair from under the debris. There was blood all over his face and it was obvious that both legs were broken. There was also a nasty cut on his right leg from a piece of the helicopter. He had a big lump on his head where something had impacted with his skull.

It took the better part of an hour before they got Blair out from under the debris. By that time, he had lost a lot of blood and they needed to start a transfusion in the field before they even transported him down to the aid station. They had radioed ahead for another helicopter to be on standby to transport Blair to the hospital. They weren't sure he would make it if they went by ambulance.

As soon as they got to the aid station, they loaded Blair onto the waiting helicopter and took off. Blair had no knowledge that he was taking another chopper ride.

++++++++++

Simon Banks couldn't believe the news when it was relayed to him. He had been half-asleep and asked the woman to repeat it. It sounded no clearer to him the second time. But, Jim and Blair were in the hospital, again. It was his duty to be there for his men. Technically, Blair wasn't one of his men, but the graduate student had burrowed his way so far into the Major Crime family that they all thought of Blair as one of them. Even Simon. Even when Sandburg would try his patience and sanity.

Simon got dressed and made the trip to Cascade General. Both men had been transported there after an accident while camping. But on the subsequent helicopter ride down to the aid station, the helicopter crashed and both men's injuries were now serious. Both were currently in surgery, but no other status was known at the time. As Simon drove to the hospital, he contacted William Ellison, Jim's father and Steven Ellison, Jim's brother. Without Blair able to provide the necessary consent for treatment, someone was needed to sign the forms. Blair had persuaded Jim to name his father and brother as secondary legal consenters if Blair was unable to perform that duty. Blair had named Simon as his secondary legal consenter if Jim was unable to perform the duty. As Blair had said, he couldn't rely on his mother, his next of kin, to be available if necessary. Simon had agreed with Blair's choice.

Simon pulled into the parking lot of the hospital and sat there. The gravity of the whole situation was just hitting him. This might just be the time -- the time when Jim and Blair wouldn't survive. Or one of them wouldn't survive. That would destroy the other. Simon put the thoughts in the back of his mind and got out of his car, walking into the hospital. He walked up to the surgical floor, noticing William and Steven Ellison were already there. Simon walked up to them.

"Have you heard anything about Jim?"

"He's still in surgery. There was internal bleeding and the doctor is trying to stop it."

Simon turned to the nurse's station and asked for an update about Blair Sandburg. He was asked to sign several forms and show proof of consent. Simon produced the paper he always carried with him, giving him legal consent for Blair's medical care. He was told a nurse would be out shortly to give him an update.

Simon stood up when the nurse walked towards them.

"Are you here for Blair Sandburg?"

"Yes. I'm Captain Simon Banks. I'm Blair's boss."

"There's no family here?"

"His family is in surgery also. They were involved in the same crash."

"I understand. Dr. Allen is having a hard time stabilizing Mr. Sandburg. He's going to have to stop surgery shortly, before he crashes again. We've lost him twice on the table."

"Is he going to survive?"

"We can't say. He has internal bleeding, broken bones, and a skull fracture. We'll probably keep him in a drug-induced coma until he starts to show improvement."

"Thank you for the update."

++++++++++

It wasn't until the next day that Simon was able to see Jim and Blair. They were both in Intensive Care, at opposite ends of the ward. Simon thought it would be better if they could be in adjoining rooms, but the nurses didn't go for that. Simon spent most of his time in Blair's room, as William and Steven took turns visiting Jim, who was still listed in serious condition and was still unconscious.

Simon got permission to sit by Blair's bedside, taken aback at how deathly the young man looked. Of course, he was still bleeding internally, as he didn't have enough strength to endure the surgical procedure. The doctor had placed Blair in a drug-induced coma, hoping he'd improve enough at least for the surgery to stop the internal bleeding. But Simon heard the whispers throughout the Intensive Care ward that Blair wasn't expected to survive his injuries. Simon just hoped Jim didn't hear any of that.

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Jim woke up, looking around. He frowned. He didn't remember coming to the jungle. Oh, it was THAT jungle. He started walking, wondering why he was there. He tried to remember what had happened, but it wasn't clear. He walked and walked, wondering where he was headed. He heard whispers on the wind.

"That young man in four isn't expected to live. He's so young, it's such a shame."

Jim wasn't sure who they were talking about. He reached a lake and the whimpers came to his ears. He looked, spotting the wolf lying on the bank of the lake. Jim walked over to the wolf, seeing it was just a cub. Jim knelt down and lightly stroked the fur. There were more whimpers and Jim sat down beside the wolf, gently lifting him up into his lap. The wolf laid his head across Jim's hand, gently licking it. Jim kept stroking the fur, lost in the feel of it.

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Blair woke up, looking around. He slowly got to his feet, feeling dizzy and weak. He sat back down and frowned. He was in the jungle, meaning this was some type of vision. If he was here, then Jim… Hopefully, Jim was here too. Blair got to his feet again and, despite of his weakness and dizziness, walked around. He heard the whispers on the wind.

"That young man in four isn't expected to live. He's so young, it's such a shame."

Somehow, Blair knew they were talking about him. But he kept walking until he came to a lake. He heard a soft growl and looked over to see a jaguar lying on the bank of the lake. Blair walked over to the jaguar, not afraid when it bared its teeth. Blair knelt down and lightly stroked the fur. There were more soft growls, but also some purrs. Blair sat down beside the jaguar, gently lifting him up into his lap. The jaguar laid his head across Blair's hand, gently licking it. Blair kept stroking the fur, while the tears fell from his eyes.

Blair knew the jaguar was a substitute for Jim. If Blair was having this vision, that meant he was the one to die. He only hoped it didn't mean Jim was going to die too.

++++++++++

Just as Simon came down the hall towards Blair's room, the code alarm went off for room four. Simon knew it was Blair's room. He rushed to the room, just as the hospital personnel were responding to the code. He watched as they worked frantically on Blair. The young man came back and the exhausted personnel started to relax.

A minute later, the code alarm went off in room eight, Jim's room. The personnel rushed to the other end of the corridor and fought to bring Jim back also. They were successful in that effort also and once again started to relax.

++++++++++

Jim felt for a pulse and didn't feel one. No! He couldn't die! He realized the wolf was Blair and that Blair was fighting for his life, just as Jim was fighting for his. He remembered the crash and vowed never to make Blair go on another helicopter ever again. He brought life back into the wolf and held him close. Jim wanted to see Blair, but knew he was in no shape to see him. He had to come to first. His first attempt wasn't successful. They had to help him to breathe again. But he was stable now.

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Blair felt the convulsions of the jaguar in his arms. No! Jim couldn't die! He helped the jaguar fight for his life and he was breathing again. Blair went back to stroking the fur, imploring Jim to stay with him. He wanted to see Jim, but knew he wasn't in any shape at the moment. He was still so tired, weak and dizzy. But he held onto the jaguar, giving him as much life as he could.

++++++++++

Simon talked to the Intensive Care doctors and nurses, and William and Steven. He explained about the connection between Jim and Blair and how much they needed contact with each other. At first, the doctors discounted Simon's words. But William and Steven backed Simon, imploring the doctors to do something. At least for a short time. If it didn't work, then they could be separated again.

It was finally decided to put Jim and Blair in one room, side by side, able to touch one another. Simon moved Jim's left hand to rest on Blair's bed and slightly touching the fingers on Blair's right hand. Now, all they had to do was wait. Simon figured Jim would notice first, since Blair was still in a drug-induced coma.

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Jim heard rustling in the bushes nearby. He put the wolf down, stood up and picked the young wolf up in his arms. He walked towards the bushes, surprised when he saw Blair sleeping there, a jaguar curled up behind him. He placed the wolf down beside Blair and knelt down beside the young man.

"Hey, Chief, you okay?"

Blair opened his eyes, hearing the jaguar growl. "It's okay. It's just Jim." Blair closed his eyes again and the jaguar lay back down. Jim sat down beside them, keeping an eye out for all of them. But soon, he drifted off asleep also.

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Simon was there when both Jim and Blair woke up, looking at each other.

"I thought you were dead." It was said in unison by both men.

"Neither of you are dead, although it was touch and go there for a while."

Both of them looked at Simon. And then Jim looked at his fingers touching Blair's fingers. Blair looked at his fingers touching Jim's. He moved his fingers to gently squeeze Jim's fingers.

"I'm your connection." Once more said in unison.

"Will you two quit that?" Simon got up to get the nurses and the doctors, to prove his idea was right.

Blair closed his eyes, still tired, still weak. "When the jaguar stopped breathing…" Blair had fallen off to sleep again.

"The wolf's heart stopped beating…" Jim realized just how close it had been.

END