I've Been Here Before
AUTHORS NOTES: This is a missing scene for 'Blind Man's Bluff', an epilogue in which Blair doubts his place with Jim. This was written 6/2004, originally for the SentinelAngst list five-year anniversary.
Blair Sandburg was walking between Hargrove Hall and the university library with several of his students. It was after class, but they wanted to discuss further what they had talked about in class. Blair always encouraged his students to express their ideas. When he reached the steps of the library, he turned to the students.
"We can continue this discussion tomorrow in class. I've got some research I have to do."
"Okay, Mr. Sandburg." The students turned and went in several different directions. Blair continued up the steps and walked through the doors of the library. He went immediately to the reference section and pulled off the books he wanted to look at. He had told Jim that morning he was going to be busy at the university all day. Jim seemed disappointed that morning, but Blair knew he'd get over it. It wasn't as if anyone at the police station saw Blair as making a real contribution to either Major Crime or to the station in general. Especially after Blair had shot up the police department parking garage with Jim's backup weapon.
It had been almost a week ago. In the hospital, after he had come to, Jim had reassured him that he hadn't hit anyone with the bullets he had fired. There was redecorating that was needed, a gas hose to be replaced and glass replaced in several radio cars. But Blair had asked Captain Banks the same question when he had stopped by to see Blair in the hospital. Blair thought Banks had stopped by to revoke his ride-along credentials. But Simon reassured him it wasn't why he was there.
"Jim was concerned that you were really okay. Since his eyesight's not completely cleared up yet, he wanted me to check up on you. Are you okay?"
There was an awkward silence. Then Blair spoke again.
"Ah...captain? Can I ask a question?"
"Sure, Sandburg. What is it?"
"Is everything okay at the station? I mean, I didn't shoot anyone, did I?"
"No, Sandburg. You didn't shoot anyone. It was a scary couple of minutes there for a while, though. Until Jim was able to get the gun away from you."
Blair seemed to think that over. "Oh. Okay."
It was the next day when Simon and Jim stopped by to spring Blair from the hospital. Simon dropped both of them off at the loft. Jim was still on restriction, but his eyesight was much clearer. Blair had followed Jim upstairs to the loft. He gave Jim an excuse he was tired and went into his room, closing the doors behind him. He knew without asking that Jim was upset at him for shooting up the parking garage.
Jim had tried to get Blair to talk about what was bothering him. But Blair didn't want to talk. Jim had suggested that he might want to talk to the department's shrink, but Blair passed on that idea too.
It was three days later when Blair stopped by the station to help Jim on a case. He felt like everyone was staring at him. That they knew what he did. He had gotten into the elevator and stared straight ahead, ignoring anyone who got on the elevator with him. Once he got to the bullpen, he sat down beside Jim's desk and didn't move for over three hours, while he helped Jim with checking on possible suspects on the computer. Jim tried to get him to take a break, but Blair said no, he was fine.
They had gone home around 6:00 PM. They took the elevator down to the parking garage. They separated once out of the elevator.
"I'll meet you at home, Chief. You are coming home, right?"
Blair walked towards his car and suddenly paused. He stood there, staring at the hole that hadn't been filled yet. Blair walked over to the wall and fingered the hole. It could have gone through any one of the cops that had been there that day in the garage. It could have gone through Jim. Jim had risked his life to try to get the gun away from Blair. Blair walked away from the wall and got to his car. He sat down inside on the driver's side. He didn't start the car, he just sat there. Suddenly, there was the blast from a horn. Blair looked up to see Jim there, in his vehicle. Jim was quickly out of his vehicle and standing by Blair's car.
"You okay, Sandburg? Did you zone or something?"
"No. I was just thinking about what I had to do."
"What do you mean? We're on our way home. Right?" Jim was puzzled by Blair's words.
"Sorry, Jim. I've got to stop by the university. There are some papers I need to grade and post by tomorrow and a paper I've got to write for my class. I'll see you later."
Blair tried to close the door to his car, but Jim stopped it.
"The doctor said you're supposed to take things easy for a while, Chief. I don't think he'd approve of you burning the midnight oil."
"I won't be burning the midnight oil, Jim. And I can't just neglect my classes and obligations to the university."
Jim could hear the pleading in Blair's voice. "Okay. But don't stay out too late."
Blair drove off towards the university.
And that had been the last time he had been at the station since the shootout. He had also been avoiding Jim every time he asked if Blair was going to stop by the station to help him out. He'd tell Jim he was too busy at the university. He would get home late, too late for Jim to start a confrontation.
It was Friday, and Blair was trying to decide how to avoid Jim for the weekend. He knew Jim would try to talk to him again. He could obfuscate and tell Jim had had to meet a friend. He was sure he could make it sound convincing enough to Jim. After all, he had been telling little white lies all along since they had hooked up. Even if Jim was a human lie detector, Blair knew the ways around it.
Blair gave up trying to study the books in front of him. He was still thinking about the incident in the PD garage. Truth be told, he remembered very little about the actual incident. But he remembered when Jim was talking him down. It had been very reminiscent of the girl on the bridge. Except this time, Jim had been successful. Blair still knew Jim was disappointed, as were the rest of the officers that had been there. Blair had to think about what he was going to do now.
He stayed at the library until it closed, which was 11:00 PM. He suspected Jim would be worried about where he was. He decided to drive to the loft and try to explain things to Jim. While he had sat there in the library, he had decided to cut his losses and leave. Jim would probably welcome the severing of their so-called partnership. Jim had been uneasy with the whole concept from the beginning anyway. And Blair had definitely worn out his welcome.
It was almost midnight before Blair got to the loft. He'd have to box up his things and find another place to live. His one week was finally over. He took the stairs to the third floor, not surprised when the door opened when he reached 307. Jim stood there, a puzzled look on his face. Blair walked by him, stopping by the kitchen table.
"Where have you been, Chief? I tried calling your office, your cell phone, all the friends you know."
"I was in the library, studying. I'm sorry I didn't call. I just got so absorbed in the reference books." Blair didn't sound sorry, in fact his voice sounded tired.
Jim walked over to stand near Blair. "I can understand that, Chief. Did you get something to eat?"
"I'm not hungry. I've got to talk to you, Jim. I'm leaving." It was said so matter of fact.
For his part, Jim didn't explode, wanting to know the reason why. Blair was talking and that was a start. Jim nodded and looked at Blair.
Now it was Blair's turn to look puzzled. "What? No response?"
"What do you want me to say, Sandburg? I understand. It was a terrible thing that happened. You've had to endure a lot of terrible things since teaming up with me. I should have explained the dangers. But that might have scared you away from the beginning. You've given me a great start on beginning to understand my heightened senses. You can still help me, right?"
Blair's frown deepened as he looked over at Jim. "You don't understand, Jim. I've got to leave the loft. I know how disappointed you are with me."
Blair's words penetrated Jim's mind. "Whoa, whoa. Wait a minute! Disappointed with you? Where did you get that idea?"
Blair turned away from Jim and walked away. "How could you not think that, Jim? I SHOT up the PD garage! I'm a loose cannon, so to speak."
Jim took a few steps towards Blair. "Blair? I'm not disappointed with you. You were under the influence of a very powerful drug. What you did was NOT your fault."
"But I've seen the way the others look at me at the station."
"You've been there exactly ONE day since the incident. They were probably amazed you were on your feet, able to function. No one blames you for what happened." Jim took a few more steps towards Blair.
"I can't stay, Jim." Jim saw Blair's shoulders slump in almost defeat.
"You deserve someone better. A real partner. A cop. Someone who can watch your back and help you out of a dangerous situation."
"No one wants to be partnered with Jim Ellison. I have a reputation. At least I did until you came along. Now everyone says I've softened up. And I have a better disposition. You've made me human again, Sandburg. Even though I don't want to admit it."
"But I'm not a cop, as everyone likes to tell me." Blair turned to look at Jim.
"And I think I'd be disappointed if you were a cop. You're my partner, Blair. You help me out of dangerous situations all of the time."
"But I could have..."
"Could haves and would haves. You can't change the past, Blair." Jim took a few more steps towards Blair. There was still a slight distance between them. "Just be happy it wasn't any worse than what it was. I kept thinking that one of those uniforms was going to shoot you. You were such an inviting target. It was bad enough when you collapsed on the floor." Jim closed his eyes, the memory returning.
Blair didn't say anything and turned away from Jim again. Jim kept his distance, but he spoke.
"So? Do you still want to leave? Or do you want to stay and help me use my senses to the best of my ability?"
"I'll let you know."
Blair walked on to his bedroom and closed the doors behind him. He flopped down on the bed and buried his face in his pillow. He knew if Jim listened in, he could hear the sobs and smell the tears Blair was crying. But Blair just didn't care anymore. He'd cry himself to sleep and see how he felt in the morning. Maybe he could stay.
Saturday morning, at around 5:00 AM, Blair woke up before Jim. He got out of bed and was able, somehow, to sneak out of the loft before Jim caught him. He didn't know why Jim didn't catch him. He got into his car and drove to the station. He wanted another look at the garage in the daylight. He hadn't paid attention when he had been there before. Except when he and Jim had left. Blair pulled into the garage and parked where he had seen the bullet hole. He got out of his car and sat on the hood. He looked around the whole garage.
It was coming back to him. He had gotten a strange feeling after eating the slice of pizza. He had an overwhelming urge to protect the station. He knew that he needed a weapon, though and knew Jim kept his backup gun in the desk drawer. Blair pulled it out of the drawer and left the bullpen. He didn't want Jim hurt. He took the stairs to the garage. Along the way, the golden fire people had started showing up. He increased his pace and got to the garage, seeing more fire people there. This was where they were coming from. He had to get to a place of safety. He climbed on the hood of the police car there. It would be his stand. It was relatively safe there. He would fight back the fire people from here. He'd defend the police department. Maybe they would give him a medal for it.
Blair closed his eyes. He pulled his legs up and rested his chin there. How could they allow him to stay here? Granted, he had been under the influence of Golden, but he had done a drastic action. He had shot a hole in a gas hose - the entire building could have gone up. He had shot at uniformed policemen - they could have shot him back. As a defensive move. He was an armed person under the influence of a powerful drug. And last of all - he had aimed the gun, Jim Ellison's backup gun, at Jim himself. He could have pulled the trigger and killed Jim. The sobs started softly and increased as he sat there. He'd turn in his observer's pass on Monday to Simon. It was the only thing to do.
Suddenly, there was someone sitting beside him. Who pulled him into a hug and whispered in his ear.
"What's wrong, Blair?"
"I - can't - stay, Jim. I'm sorry. I'll be out of the loft by Monday afternoon."
"I don't want you to leave, Blair. What are you doing here?"
"I wanted - to - see..."
"Blair? I told you. You didn't shoot anyone. You did no harm." Jim's voice was calm and level.
"No - harm! I shot up the garage, Jim! I could have hit officers. I did hit a gas hose, it could have blown the place sky high. And - I - aimed - the - gun - at - you."
Blair buried his face in Jim's chest, embarrassed. Jim pulled him closer.
"You didn't shoot me. That's the most important thing."
Blair didn't say anything. Jim kept his hold on Blair.
"Do you remember what happened?"
Blair only nodded his head.
"I talked you into giving me the gun. You remember that, right?"
Blair nodded again.
"You didn't shoot me. You may have aimed the gun, but you didn't pull the trigger. You knew better than to shoot your lab rat."
Blair mumbled something into Jim's shirt. But Jim had understood most of it.
"I know you don't treat me like a lab rat, Chief. You want to go home? It's 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning and you need to get some rest."
Blair pulled partially out of Jim's hold and looked up at Jim. Jim reached out and wiped away the remaining tears.
"I - d-don't kn-know if-f - I c-can do it, J-j-im-m." Blair was threatening to cry again.
"We can work through things together, Blair. And to start with, you've got to believe that no one blames you. Especially me. They know it was the drug."
"Okay. How about I treat you to breakfast before we go home?"
"My treat. My thanks for you staying."
"Sounds good. Hey, I don't have to have that lame breakfast at Wonder Burger, do I?"
"No. I was thinking about IHOP."
"Sounds good. I'll follow you."
"Make sure you do, Chief. It sort of surprised me when I got up at 5:30 and wondered where you were."
"How did you find me?"
"I knew you were obsessing about the incident. I just put two and two together and got six and figured this was where you went."
"Hey, after all this time, I'm starting to understand how your mind works. A scary thought."
"I can imagine. Let's go get breakfast."
Jim helped Blair off the hood and patted him on the back as he made his way to the driver's side of the car. Jim went to his truck and waited until Blair started his car adn then took off. Blair followed him.
They would have to work on things. Jim was thinking he'd suggest to Blair that he go talk to someone else if he didn't want to talk things out with Jim. Maybe once Blair became more comfortable around the station, he'd find out that the others didn't blaem him for what happened. Jim had already heard from many officers who told him they hoped Blair was okay and they looked forward to seeing him back at the station soon. Some had even blamed Jim for keeping Blair away from the station. Jim had to set the record straight; it had been Blair, not him. Jim was optimistic things would be okay.
They would start with breakfast. Then Jim would get Blair home and back to bed. 6:00 AM on a Saturday was too early for anyone. Jim didn't want to invite other problems. There was still the worry that there could be flashbacks. That's what the doctor had told them. But Jim wouldn't go inviting more trouble. He'd make sure Blair got enough rest and took it easy. Things would be fine.