The Responsible One

By Debbie

EMAIL: Debbie

Jim didn't understand why there had been an explosion or how seriously hurt either Blair or Simon was. He just knew he had to get to Cascade General Hospital as soon as possible. He assumed Joel was in charge of the investigation and that he'd be able to get some type of explanation from him later.

He turned on his lights and siren as he careened through the streets of Cascade. He was completely across town when the call came from Joel, telling him to get to the hospital. He was told that both Blair and Simon had been transported from the loft after the explosion.

Jim pulled up outside the doors to the Emergency entrance. He got out of his truck and ran inside. He had been here too many times in the past, both as a patient, and as a concerned friend waiting for word. He stopped at the nurses' station, pulling out his badge and flashing it in front of the young nurse there.

"I'm Detective Jim Ellison from the Cascade Police Department. I was told that Captain Simon Banks and Blair Sandburg had been brought here."

The nurse started typing on the computer. She took her time finding out the information. Just when Jim was about to explode, she looked up.

"Yes, both of them were brought in. I can't give out any information about their conditions. I'll get you in touch with one of the nurses on call and they can give you an update."

"Thank you." Jim stood by the desk and cautiously notched up both his hearing and his sense of smell. He tried to pinpoint where Blair was, but the sheer volume of stimulus around the area was too much for him to overcome. He saw a nurse approaching him.

"I understand you were asking about Simon Banks?"

"Yes. He's my boss. We work at the Cascade Police Department. I got a message that Simon was involved in an explosion. My partner too. Can you tell me how he is?"

"He's awake, but we have to take him up to surgery soon. He was worried about the young man that was brought in at the same time."

"Yeah, that would be Blair. Do you have any information about him?"

"I'm not involved in his case, but I do know the doctors were trying to stabilize him earlier. I can double-check with them."

"Is there any way I can get in to see Captain Banks?"

"For a few minutes, before he's taken up to surgery. If you'll follow me?"

Jim followed the nurse to one of the examination rooms off the main corridor of the Emergency room. He saw his captain lying on an examination bed, obviously in pain. His eyes were scrunched closed and his heartbeat was just a little too fast. Jim saw cuts and the start of bruises on both Simon's face and his arms, which were lying on top of the sheet that covered him.

"I'll let you have a few minutes, Detective."

"Thank you." Jim turned back to Simon. "Simon? It's Jim. Joel contacted me about the explosion. Can you tell me anything?"

Simon slowly opened his eyes. Jim could see the pain expressed there. "San -- burg was run-ning behind. I tried to get him…hurry up. Then all of a sudden, boom!" Simon looked right at Jim. "Is he…Sandburg -?"

Jim gently patted Simon's shoulder. "I don't know, yet. The nurse is going to check for me. She told me that you were awake and I thought I'd take the opportunity to see if I could find out what happened. I can only stay a few minutes. They need to take you up to surgery soon. Then I'll be able to find out about Blair."

"Go, Jim. I'm sorry I couldn't…"

"It's okay, Simon. It wasn't your fault. I'll check up on you after surgery."

Simon closed his eyes, nodding as he drifted off. Jim turned to leave the room, hoping to get news about Blair. The same nurse was waiting outside the examination room.

"I asked about your partner, Detective. He's in examination room two and they are still trying to stabilize him. It seems he lost a lot of blood at the scene and his blood pressure is dangerously low and his heartbeat is erratic. It also seems one of his lungs collapsed as a result of the trauma from the explosion."

Jim closed his eyes. It wasn't good. Of course, it was never good when they came to the ER. He opened his eyes again. "Thank you for the update. I need to let whoever is Blair's primary physician know that I have Power of Attorney over his medical care."

"Is that on file here at the hospital, Detective?"

"Yes it is. We've both been here way too often."

"I'll tell the attending physician that you're here."

Jim watched as the nurse entered Exam room two. He wanted to follow her and see Blair for himself, but knew he would only be in the way if he went in there. He'd wait for word, although he suspected it would be a long wait.

~o0o~

It was almost an hour later when the doctor came out of the examination room to speak to Jim. Jim got to his feet as the doctor approached.

"I won't lie to you, Detective Ellison. Mr. Sandburg is in rough shape and we still haven't stabilized him as much as we'd like to. We are going to take him on up to surgery and do as much as we can without jeopardizing his health further. I'll have the nurse get the consent forms we need to have you sign."

Jim took in all the news without a word. He merely nodded and watched as the doctor returned to the examination room. He heard several voices inside and a litany of instructions from the doctor. He waited, dialing up his hearing, trying to pinpoint Blair's heartbeat. But it was still too chaotic in the ER for him to hone in on Blair.

The nurse arrived with the consent forms and Jim looked them over before signing them. He handed them back to the nurse and then looked towards the examination room as the doors were opened and the bed was rolled out. Jim studied his partner, noticing how still and silent he was. There was a nasty gash down the left side of Blair's face and there was blood in his hair. Jim was able to focus sight, smell and hearing on Blair. And even taste, as the smell of the blood seemed to invade his mouth and throat. As the bed passed, Jim reached out, touching Blair lightly on the top of his head. There was no movement from the man. He sent up a silent prayer as the bed disappeared into the elevator.

Jim turned to go to the surgical waiting room. He'd try to find out about Simon, as well as Blair.

~o0o~

Joel arrived at the hospital, finding Jim still waiting for word. He sat down beside the bedraggled detective.

"Any word yet?" Joel sounded as tired as Jim looked.

"Not yet. Any theories or concrete evidence about the bomb?"

"It was rigged to go off when the door was opened. It had to have happened after Simon went to pick Blair up. There are uniformed officers canvassing the neighbors to see if anyone saw or heard anything out of place. Is there anyone you can think of from a past or current case that would have a grudge against you?"

Jim gave Joel a scowl. Joel recognized it for what it was.

"You know I have to ask, Jim. I realize it could be someone after Simon, but it seems more likely it is someone from your past, seeing the explosion occurred at the apartment."

"I know, Joel. It's just the fact that one of these days, Blair is going to leave because he's had enough of people coming to get revenge on me and he gets hurt."

Joel only nodded his head. Sometimes, it was harder being the family of a cop than being the cop. He knew in his own family, this was an accurate belief. Not that criminals targeted his family, but they worried about him. And even though Jim and Blair weren't related, their closeness brought on the same feelings. Joel had seen the evidence many times.

"So, are there any names that come to the forefront as to suspects?"

Jim chuckled softly. "Joel, have you seen the number of cases and the suspects I deal with?" He sobered. "When I find out about Simon and Blair, I'll go to the station and go through the open cases and check on the past ones."

"I could get Rafe and Brown to do that."

"No, Joel. I'm sure they won't let me stay by Blair's side and I'll need something to do to keep myself occupied. I'll let them help me."

~o0o~

It took another hour before the doctor came to talk to Jim and Joel. Simon was in recovery, having suffered a broken leg, a moderate concussion, several cuts and bruises from exploding debris falling on him, and several broken ribs. Blair was still in surgery.

Joel decided he needed to go back to the station and check up on the evidence that had been taken from the scene.

Before he left, Jim spoke. "So, how bad is the apartment?"

"You'll probably need to find another place to live, Jim. Both Simon and Blair were lucky to have survived such a blast."

Jim closed his eyes, and then slowly opened them. "I'll let you know about Blair."

"Thanks, Jim. I'll keep you updated on the investigation."

It was another half hour before the doctor came to talk to Jim about Blair. Jim noted the serious look on the doctor's face.

"We weren't able to do everything. But we do have his vital signs stable and we found the source of the internal bleeding. We've placed Mr. Sandburg on life support and we'll transfer him to Intensive Care. I can have a nurse come and get you once we have him situated."

"When will you take him back into surgery?"

"As soon as he starts to regain some strength. We've placed him in an induced coma, so he won't be conscious for a while. As soon as his vital signs improve, then we can set the broken bones in his leg and arm."

"Thank you, doctor." Jim watched the man leave, and felt his anger grow. He wanted to find out who was responsible for hurting the two people he considered his closest friends. He sat there, trying to come up with a list of names of criminals he thought could be responsible for doing such a thing. By the time the nurse arrived to take him to see Blair in Intensive Care, he had a long list. It would take some time to check out all the names.

~o0o~

"You can have a few minutes, Jim. Blair's in an induced coma, as you know, but we tend to believe that coma patients can hear what is going on around them. Talk to Blair and let him know you're here. I'm sure with the friendship the two of you have, that will be a big boost to Blair getting better. I'm sorry we can't let you stay very long."

"Oh, I understand that, Stacy. I have to find whoever was responsible for doing this to Blair and my captain. But I'll let Blair know that I'm not abandoning him."

Jim walked into the room and over to the bed. He gazed at the various readings on the machines, knowing all the numbers were based on the coma. Then Jim looked at Blair's face, noticing how peaceful he looked lying there.

Jim reached down at took Blair's hand in his, careful of the IV. "Hey, Chief. I heard about what happened. I'm going to find out who did this, Blair. Not only did he hurt you, but he hurt Simon, too. You're not on this journey by yourself, Chief. I'm here with you. You have to regain your strength and wake up. I have faith in you, Blair. You are a survivor." Jim gently squeezed the fingers on Blair's hand. "Your nurse, Stacy, only gave me a few minutes here. I think my time is about up. All you have to do is concentrate on getting better."

Jim left the room, telling Stacy he might be gone for some time, but to notify him if there were any drastic changes in Blair or if the doctor needed to talk to him.

~o0o~

Jim headed for the station. He looked at the time -- it was almost 9:00 PM. He took the elevator up to Major Crime. He was surprised to see Rafe and Brown still there. They looked up when he walked in, the question unasked.

"Both of them made it through surgery. I didn't see Simon afterwards, but he's in a regular room. Blair's in an induced coma. He's lost a lot of blood and he's still receiving a blood transfusion. When he regains more strength, the doctor is going to take him back into surgery to repair the broken bones."

"If you need our help, Jim, we're here. Joel was by earlier and left some reports on your desk about the explosion. There's been no mention of who's going to replace Simon as captain."

"Thanks, H. I compiled quite a list of potential suspects while at the hospital waiting. I need to check and see if they are still in prison, or if they're out, I need to know where they are. If you and Brian could help with that, I'd appreciate it."

"Sure, Jim. Do you have a list?"

"I'll write it out, Rafe. Give me a few minutes."

Jim went over to his desk and sat down. He opened the top right-hand drawer of the desk and pulled out the notebook there. Underneath the notebook, was one of Blair's journals. Curious, Jim pulled out the leather-bound journal and opened the first page.

'2/22 -- Reminder to self - come up with several *tests* to help to hone Jim's sense of smell. It took him too long to rebound from the overwhelming stench of the garbage in the alleyway. He tried to hide it from me, but Jim should really know better than to do something like that. I know his coping mechanisms way too well after three years.'

Jim closed the journal and a smile slowly crossed his face. He remembered the incident too well, especially the part when Blair had called him on trying to hide the fact that his sense of smell was on the fritz. Blair hadn't gotten angry or had even yelled, but he explained calmly and succinctly how he was the guide, Jim was the sentinel and that the sentinel had to have complete trust and faith in the guide in order to keep the sentinel functioning at his best. Blair had used his *guide voice*, as Jim referred to it. Whenever Blair used that voice, Jim found himself automatically on a subconscious level, obeying. Jim suspected it was some Sentinel/Guide connection between them, but he didn't care. Blair always knew what he was saying. Jim had learned that early on in their partnership.

Jim shook himself from the memories. This wasn't finding the scumbag that was responsible for hurting his friends. He put the journal back into the drawer and started on the list of suspects for Brown and Rafe to check out. He took it over to Brian as soon as he was done.

"Those are the names that came to me off the top of my head while I was waiting at the hospital. I'll go through my files and see if there are any others to add to the list. You guys can start on those."

"Sure, Jim. We'll start on the preliminaries."

"Rafe? I don't mean that you guys have to spend the night. Do what you can and then go home and get some rest. I need your full attention on this."

"Okay, Jim. But you shouldn't stay the night, either."

"Understood." Jim went back to his desk, looking over the reports Joel had left for him. It was only preliminaries and nothing had been determined. There was also a report from the officers that had been canvassing the neighbors and neighborhood. There were no sightings of anything or anyone out of the ordinary. Jim could feel his frustration building. Somehow, he knew it was going to take a lot of manpower to find the person responsible for this.

Jim stayed at the station until almost 1:00 AM. He could feel the tiredness seep into his body. He rose from his chair, stretching and popping his back. He yawned and knew he had to go home.

Home. There was no home. Damn!

He decided to get a room at the hotel downtown by the station. He leaned over, turning off his computer and tidied up the papers on his desk. Before he left, he opened the desk drawer and pulled out the journal. He left the bullpen, going to the hotel.

~o0o~

Jim took a detour to look over the remains of the loft. He wanted to see for himself how bad the place was. Jim was able to get up to the third floor and past the police tape that cordoned off the loft. Jim looked over the destruction and agreed with Joel's assessment. He'd have to find another place for him and Blair to live. Somewhere bigger, with a proper bedroom and living space for Blair. He'd find out how much of their belongings he'd be able to salvage.

As he drove to the hospital, to look in on Simon and stop by to talk to Blair, Jim thought about asking his father to help with the search for a new place and maybe to take him in until a new place was found. He was sure his father would be willing to help his oldest son.

Jim went up to Intermediate Care and walked into Simon's room, pleased to see his captain alert.

"How are you feeling, Simon?"

"Like I've been beaten up. I ache in places I didn't even know I had. Any leads as to who was responsible for the explosion?"

"Not yet. I am having Rafe and Brown help me go through a preliminary list. Nothing from the first Forensic reports. Joel is keeping on them to get something."

"They told me Sandburg is in Intensive Care and that his doctor placed him in a coma."

"Yeah, I saw him for a short time after he got out of surgery. I stopped by the loft before coming here to see you and Blair. We're going to have to find another place to live. I'm not even sure how much of our things I'll be able to salvage."

"Don't tell me you stayed at the station last night?" Simon tried, but failed, to use his most authoritative voice.

"No, I went to a hotel nearby. I'm thinking about asking my dad if I can stay with him until I find a place for Blair and me."

"You think he'd let you stay?"

"Yeah, because Blair has been pushing both of us to bury the hatchet. And both of us have been willing."

"It sounds like you have everything well in hand."

"Just rest up, Simon. We'll catch the ones responsible for this."

"I know you will, Jim. Go on and see Sandburg."

"I'll keep you updated, Simon. Take care."

Jim went up to Intensive Care. He saw a nurse in with Blair. He waited going until she came out.

She looked at him. "You must be Jim. I'm Rianne, Blair's day nurse. He's made several small improvements overnight, which will please Dr. Patrick. You can go on in, Jim. I just had to administer some meds and change the IV."

"Thank you, Rianne." Jim walked into the room and over to the bed, taking up Blair's hand as if he had the evening before. "Hey, Chief. I'm back. I just met Rianne. She seems like your type. Too bad you're unconscious. You'd have a date for sure." Jim gently rubbed the back of Blair's hand with his thumb, carefully avoiding the IV. "I stopped by the loft before I came here. We need to find a new place, Blair. The loft has too much damage. I'm going to ask my dad if I can stay with him until I find a place. I was thinking maybe a house. Nothing grandiose, just enough for the two of us. You deserve more than just a converted storage space. You had that at Rainier, and then I give you the same thing at the loft. I hadn't thought about that until now. We'll change things for the better, Blair."

Jim placed Blair's hand back on the bed. He took his hand and placed it on Blair's forehead. "You feel a little warm, Sandburg. Behave and listen to the doctor."

~o0o~

Jim was pleased when he arrived at the station and found out that Joel was in temporary command of Major Crime. It meant that the explosion would get top priority and that Jim would be able to track down all the leads he needed to in order to capture the person responsible.

Jim walked into Joel's temporary office, Simon's office. He gave him an update on both Simon and Blair and his progress on the identity of the bomber.

"I was planning on stopping by and seeing Simon at lunch. Tell him of my temporary change in position."

"He'll be happy for you, Joel. Or should I call you Captain?"

"Joel is fine, Jim." Joel smiled at Jim.

"I best get to work. I want, no I need, to find out who did this."

~o0o~

Late in the afternoon, Jim called his father. He explained the whole situation to him and asked if he could stay at the house. As he expected, William said yes.

"Of course, Jimmy! Whatever you need. Do you need any money? Is anything in your place salvageable?"

"I'm not sure if anything is salvageable in the loft, dad. I don't need any money; I just can't afford to stay at a hotel every night."

"I can understand that, Jimmy. How is Blair doing?"

"Dr. Patrick has him in a healing coma. But the two times I've been by to see him, I've talked to him. The nurses seem to think that coma patients are aware of their surroundings and can hear when people talk to them. Blair has told me the same things over the years, so I've been telling him that I'm tracking down the one responsible for this and that I'm looking to get a house for us."

"A house?" William couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice.

"Yeah. Blair only had that small room under the stairs at the loft and he didn't have any place for his things. He deserves more than a small cubby hole, especially now that he's a well-respected university professor."

"You could both come and live with me. I have way too much room just for me and Sally."

"No dad. I don't want to impose on you more than is absolutely necessary. I think Blair would love a place of our own. Thanks for the offer, though."

"If you change your mind, Jimmy, just let me know. You'd have Sally to fix your meals every day."

"Quit tempting me, dad. But again, thanks for the offer."

~o0o~

Jim took Brown and Rafe with him to check out several of the criminals on the list, who they discovered were in Cascade. Joel had demanded Jim not go alone.

It was when they got to the third name, that they hit pay dirt. George Sullivan took shots at the three detectives. Rafe called into the station, telling Joel about the development and asking for backup. Between Jim and Henri, they were able to surprise Sullivan and took him down without any additional incidents or shots fired. Brian handcuffed the suspect as Jim discovered the remnants of the items used to make the bomb that had been attached to the loft door. He heard Rafe reading Sullivan his rights as he took him away from the rented house.

Jim stepped outside the house just as the crime scene investigators were pulling up. Jim pulled out his cell phone and called into the station, telling Joel about the successful arrest of George Sullivan and the discovery of the bomb components. Joel was pleased with the outcome.

"All of you okay?"

Jim could hear the worry in Joel's voice. "We're fine, Joel. I'm going to stay here with the investigators and then I thought I'd make a stop by the hospital to update Simon and Blair."

"That's fine, Jim. Good job, all of you."

~o0o~

Jim called his dad on the drive to the hospital. "I'm going to be a little late, dad. We arrested the man responsible for the bombing. He was a drug dealer I had put away about two years ago. He probably wanted revenge on both Blair and I, since we both caught him. I'm still at the place where we found him, and then I'm going to stop by the hospital."

"I understand, Jimmy. I'm glad you got the man. And that nothing happened to you. I love you, Jimmy."

"Yeah, thanks, dad. I love you, too. I'll see you later."

Jim smiled as he walked into the hospital. He went to Simon's room first, pleased to see that Simon was sitting up in a chair.

"This is getting to be a regular occurrence, Jim."

"I just wanted to let you know that Brown, Rafe and I caught the bomber. It was George Sullivan, that mid-level drug dealer that Blair and I caught about two years ago. He was probably going after both of us. I'm sorry you were caught up in it all, Simon."

"Occupational hazard, Jim. He probably knew Sandburg was there and was going to take him out first before coming after you."

"Could have been." Jim let out a long sigh.

"You look beat, Jim. How much sleep have you had over the past several days?"

"Hardly any. If Sandburg finds out, he'll let me know about it."

"I won't say a word about it."

"He'll know, even if no one says anything. He's got some kind of sixth sense when it comes to me."

"Sorry, Jim. I can't help you with that."

Jim laughed. "Any word on when you'll be getting out of here Simon?"

"Not yet. I'm hoping it's soon. I'm starting to go stir-crazy just lying around here."

"Hang in there and rest up. I'll see you soon."

"Good work on finding Sullivan, Jim. And Brown and Rafe also."

"That's why we are the best department with the PD."

Jim went up to Intensive Care, hoping there was good news about Blair. Stacy waved and walked over to Jim.

"I was just getting ready to give you a call. Dr. Patrick is stopping the coma-inducing drugs. Blair's vital signs have improved enough that the doctor is going to take Blair back into surgery shortly after he comes to."

"Well, that is good news. Any idea when Blair will be awake enough that I could talk to him?"

"It varies with each patient. We gradually reduce the drugs and let the patient come to on their own. Once he wakes up, we'll remove the intubation tube as well."

"Can I go in to see him?"

"Of course, Jim. Go."

Jim walked into the room and over to the bed, taking Blair's hand in his as he had every other time he had been in to see Blair. He started immediately with his thumb rubbing Blair's skin.

"Hey, Chief. I have the best news. We got the bomber. It was George Sullivan. You remember him, Chief. That mid-level drug dealer we took down together. He came back to get revenge on us, Blair. But Henri, Brian and I found him and arrested him. He'll never get out of prison again. We'll make sure he's charged with attempted murder of a police employee, as well as attempted murder of a police officer."

Jim looked at Blair's face, trying to perceive any change in his friend. "It's okay, Blair. I understand. I'll be back every day till I see you're awake. I'll let the nurses know to contact me when you start to show signs of awareness. Rest up, Chief. I took care of everything."

~o0o~

Jim arrived at his dad's house about 10:00 PM. Sally fixed him a plate of spaghetti and made him sit down to eat it. She also gave him a glass of milk and a generous piece of homemade apple pie.

"You know that I'm not a teenager anymore, right, Sally?"

"Of course I do, Jimmy! But I still know what you like."

"Yeah, you do, Sally. Thank you for this. It's as good as I remember it."

Jim looked over when William joined them in the kitchen. "I had Sally make up your old room, Jimmy. I'm glad you decided to come here to stay. It'll give us more of a chance to talk."

"Yeah, that will please Blair to no end. By the way, the doctor is weaning Blair from the drugs and he'll be waking up in several hours. He's made a great recovery in little time. I gave the hospital this number to get hold of me. I want to talk to Blair when he comes to and before the doctor has to take him back into surgery."

"That's fine, Jimmy. And it is good news about Blair. You know, the offer is still there for both of you to come here to live."

"As soon as I know Blair is on the road to recovery, I'm going to actively look for a place for us. We can arrange to stop by, dad."

Jim saw the smile cross his dad's face. "I look forward to it, Jimmy."

~o0o~

The following day, Jim got the call that Blair was showing signs of consciousness. He went to the hospital and up to Intensive Care. Rianne was in the room with Blair, but as soon as she saw Jim standing there, she leaned down to speak to Blair and indicated for Jim to come into the room.

Jim walked over to the bed and smiled down at Blair, pleased to see his dark blue eyes open. Blair returned a small smile. Jim took Blair's hand, gently rubbing the skin. Blair looked over at the gesture.

"I'll leave the two of you alone," stated Rianne, as she finished.

"Thanks for calling, Rianne," said Jim, not looking away from Blair. "Are you doing okay, Chief?"

"I… feel… spacey." He closed his eyes, and then opened them.

"That's understandable. Did they tell you that you had been in a drug-induced coma?"

Blair only nodded, still looking like he was about to fall asleep again.

"Do you remember what happened?"

"Yeah. A bomb. Simon?"

"Simon's fine. Well, he will be fine. He's getting out of the hospital early next week. But he'll be off work for some time. He was banged up, has a broken leg and several broken ribs."

"Me?"

"Broken left arm, broken left leg, along with an assortment of other injuries. The doctor has to take you back into surgery to set the broken bones."

"You were… sleeping?"

Jim knew Blair had noticed his lack of sleep, even in his current condition. "No. I was trying to find the bomber that destroyed our home. The day before yesterday, Henri, Brian and I arrested George Sullivan. He was the one responsible."

"Drug dealer?" Blair was barely staying awake, but Jim liked the interaction between them. He wouldn't push too far.

"Yeah, the drug dealer. I'll have to tell the doctor there's no indication of brain damage that I can see."

"Damage…?" Then the smile came across Blair's face. "Kidding me."

"Yeah, Chief. I'm kidding you. I best let you get some rest. I'll be back every day to see you."

"Thank you, Jim. For getting Sullivan." Blair closed his eyes, but after a couple of seconds, he spoke. "Destroyed our home?"

It was Jim's turn to smile. It had finally penetrated Blair's consciousness. Jim patted Blair on the shoulder.

"It's okay, Chief. Anywhere is home, as long as you are there."

"Corny. Where are we going?"

"A house. So you can have a proper bedroom and space of your own."

Jim smelled the tears and saw one slide down Blair's cheek. Jim reached out and wiped it away.

"It's okay, Blair."

"I know. A house. Of our own."

Jim smiled and patted Blair's shoulder again. "Yeah, our own house."

~o0o~

Jim found the perfect house a few days later, the day Blair had his follow-up surgery to set his broken bones. It was the perfect size house for them, four bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen, family room, basement, attic and even a back yard. It was in a good neighborhood, very low crime. Jim knew Blair would like the house, too.

Jim kept himself occupied while Blair was in surgery, making lists of what they would need and coming up with plans to convert one of the bedrooms into an office for both of them. Jim kept coming up with ideas for what he wanted to do with the house, but decided not to do anything until he and Blair talked it all out.

Blair came out of surgery just fine and was placed in Intermediate Care, where Jim would be able to see him. The nurse showed Jim the room where Blair was. Jim walked inside the room, his eyes adjusting to the dim lighting in the room. The nurse had mentioned Blair had complained that the intensity of the light was too much for his sensitive eyes. Jim almost laughed aloud, but totally understood the feeling, having been there several times.

Jim pulled over the chair in the room and sat down, taking Blair's hand in his, pleased to note no IV attached. His thumb rubbed small circles on the back of Blair's hand. A few minutes later, Blair's eyes partially opened, looking at his hand in Jim's.

"I couldn't remember how to dial down… sight." Blair's eyes moved to gaze at Jim's face.

Jim frowned. "You can't dial down sight, Chief."

"It's better than what it was."

"That's because the nurses dimmed the lights in the room."

"That's how to dial down sight for us *normal* humans."

Jim's frown deepened. "I hate to break it to you, Chief, but you're not *normal*."

A small, mischievous smile came across Blair's face. "I guess you're right, since I hang around with a Sentinel."

"I found us our house, Blair. I hope you like it as much as I do."

"We have similar tastes, Jim. I'm sure it's fine. Especially if you've been over it with your senses."

"I still have to see what I can salvage of ours from the loft. We may have to go on a shopping expedition when you feel up to it."

"Sounds like fun. At least you look like you've been sleeping. And eating."

"My dad offered to take me in after we lost the loft. And Sally's been spoiling me with her wonderful cooking."

"You could smuggle in some for me."

"I'll see what I can do, Chief."

"Is it okay with your dad?"

"It's fine. He even offered his place for us to live. But I thought that might be a bit too much bonding with my father."

"I agree with you there. We need a place by ourselves. But I'm glad to see that everything is going good with your dad."

"Yeah, and he even asked if he could come to see you."

"You're kidding me, right?"

Jim shook his head. "Nope. He asked. I said I'd see how you felt over the next couple of days. He realizes how much you mean to me."

"Tell him I'd be pleased if he stopped by to see me."

~o0o~

It was still a week before the doctor let Blair out of the hospital. He had to be in a wheelchair because of the broken arm and broken leg. Jim picked him up in his dad's car, to make it easier for Blair to get in and out.

Blair turned to face Jim once situated in the car. "So, are we going to our house?"

"Yeah, but I won't be able to give you the grand tour and we're not going to stay there, because it's not furnished yet. But you can see the main level and the outside and see if you like it as much as I do."

"Jim, I told you if you like it, I'll like it. So, if we're not staying there, where are we staying?"

"My dad's. He suggested it, until we can furnish the house ourselves. It will only been six months or so, until you're fully mobile again. Is that okay with you?"

"Sure, Jim. It's fine with me, but they just gave me a pain shot. Ask me again when the pain meds wear off."

Jim knew Blair was joking, at least he hoped he was. On the drive to the house, Blair drifted off asleep and Jim almost backed off showing Blair the house. However, he knew Blair would be disappointed not seeing the house if they didn't go.

Jim gently shook Blair when he pulled up to the curb. "We're here, Chief. You want to get out of the car?"

Blair opened his eyes and looked around, settling his eyes finally on Jim. "Yeah, I want to get out of the car. My wheelchair, James!" Blair started laughing.

"Hilarious, Chief. Hold your horses." Jim got out of the car, getting the wheelchair out of the trunk and maneuvering it over to the passenger door. He opened the door and helped Blair out of the car and into the chair. He noticed Blair looking at the house.

"You like what you see, Blair?"

"It looks perfect, Jim. How could that be?"

"You didn't think I could find the right house?"

Jim heard Blair's sigh. "It's not that, Jim. I just didn't think there would be a place that would be perfect for us, other than the loft."

"I'm glad you're pleased, Chief."

Jim pushed the wheelchair around the outside of the house, pleased when Blair made positive comments about the backyard and the possibilities of growing a garden. Jim got out the house key and opened the door, helping Blair inside the back door, in the kitchen and sitting him down in a chair there.

"I'll get the wheelchair in. Just sit there."

"It's fine, Jim."

Within minutes, Jim had the wheelchair inside, Blair back in the wheelchair and continued with the tour of the downstairs of the house, which included a bedroom, a bathroom, the kitchen, the living room and a small dining room.

"We're going to have to make a list of furniture we'll need."

"I'm ahead of you on that. I've been making lists of what we'll need. My dad also offered to give me some money and I've been thinking of taking him up on that to help with furnishing the house."

"That sounds like a good idea, Jim. If your dad is willing to do that."

"I think he will. Upstairs, are three more bedrooms, another bathroom and some storage areas. There's also an attic and a basement. I want you to help with the planning of what we want to do with the house."

"I still can't believe that it's ours."

"Well, it will be ours when the realtor gets your signature on the lease."

"What about me paying part of the cost?"

"I was going to tell you - you can pay half out of your settlement from the publisher. My half is coming from my savings. Most of it placed in an account by my father, which for years I didn't want to touch. This way, the place will be ours, free and clear."

"I can agree to that."

They left their house and went to William's. Jim once more put Blair into the wheelchair and pushed him into the house. Both William and Sally were waiting just inside the door to greet him. Sally was gone a short time later.

"Thank you for letting us stays here, Mr. Ellison."

"Now look here, Blair, if you are going to be staying with us, I insist you call me William."

Blair smiled. "Okay, William it is. Jim was showing me the house. I'm impressed and I was only able to see part of it."

"Yes, Jimmy showed me the house shortly after he found it. I thought it was a very nice house. Of course, I had offered Jimmy a chance for the two of you to live here. Did he mention that to you, Blair?"

"Yes, he did, Mr.… William. But I have to agree with Jim, that the two of us need a place of our own. We're both self-sufficient."

"And both of you are very independent. I understand, Blair. I've had Sally make up one of the downstairs bedrooms so that you don't have to strain to get upstairs."

"Believe me, William. It wouldn't be a strain, except on Jim when he carried me up and down the stairs."

Both Blair and William started laughing, while Jim just glared at both of them.

"Oh, c'mon, Jim. You know that it's true! You'd be lugging me up and down the stairs."

"True, Chief. But you don't have to reveal everything to my father."

"Jimmy, take Blair to the bedroom at the end of the hall. He looks like he needs to rest before lunch. I'll see you later, Blair."

"Thank you again, William." Jim pushed the wheelchair down the hall. "Your dad is awesome, Jimmy!"

"Please, Chief. No Jimmy."

Blair laughed. "Okay, Jim. I understand."

END