Originally posted on SA in January, 2003.
This is a January Themefic for Debra Baschal. The request is for a story where some one is kidnapped. This is my story. It doesn't have a completely happy ending, but it does have a contented ending. No deaths are involved.
I know nothing about medicine or the effect of trauma on a body.
But I do believe in the spirit and strength of a person's will to live. Also, this is only spell-checked and gone over by me, so any mistakes are mine alone.
By Debbie Tripp
SUMMARY: Some ex-students looking for revenge kidnap Blair
DISCLAIMER: I don't own them but I love to get them into predicaments.
Blair Sandburg looked around the empty warehouse. Well, empty except for him and the chair he was tied to. Chained to. Handcuffed to. Vengeful ex-college students who had beaten him senseless and were soon going to kill him had grabbed him from Rainier University.
Blair wasn't even supposed to be at the university. It was spring break and he had told Jim that he had other things he had to do. Which is why he didn't go with Jim to St. Louis. But he had stopped by the university to pick up some papers that he had forgotten to grab the other day. He actually wanted to work on articles he was thinking about submitting to some magazines.
Blair had been targeted because he had been the one to blow the whistle on their illegal drug dealing on campus. They had been arrested and expelled from the university. And the three of them, John Quinley, Max Barth, and Reggie Maxwell, blamed Professor Sandburg for their predicament. They were out on bail until their court appearances and decided to enact some revenge. Blair hadn't expected to be grabbed. He was walking from the student union to the library when the three men grabbed him, injected him with some type of sedative and put him in John's van. Blair had tried to fight back, but it was too strong of hold. And the sedative they had given him was quick acting.
They drove to the deserted warehouse and secured Blair to the chair. When he came to, they told him that they were going to kill him and that then the charges against them would disappear. They had released him from his bonds and beat him unconscious, breaking at least three ribs and landing several hard blows to his head. Now, he was awake again. He could feel the bruises and broken ribs. And from experience, he knew he had a moderate concussion. His vision was somewhat blurry and he had the granddaddy of all headaches.
A thought came to Blair's mind. No one would miss him. At least not until it was too late. Jim Ellison, his partner and friend, was out of town at a conference. In St. Louis. He wasn't due back until next week. On Wednesday. By that time, Blair knew he would be dead. Blair spoke aloud to the air.
"I'm sorry about this, Jim."
And no one else in Major Crime would miss him because he usually only showed up to the station with Jim. And no one at the university would miss him because it was spring break. He was thoroughly screwed.
Blair tried once more to loosen the bonds that held him. But he was too weak and the bonds were too tight. He tried to relax the best that he could given the circumstances. Once again, his thoughts turned to Jim. Wondering how Jim would react to his death. He spoke out loud again.
"If I can, I'll haunt you in my death, Jim. Just to make sure that you're doing okay. Don't go off the deep end because of my death, Jim. I know that we never talked about this before, but I think you're strong enough to carry on. I know that you are. I know that you and I have become like brothers over the years together. And I want to thank you for that. It means..."
Blair shut up when he heard the door being opened. His killers were back. He didn't want to give them the satisfaction that he was talking to himself. Blair watched as they walked over to the chair that had been set in the middle of the deserted warehouse. The three young men stood in front of Blair. John Quinley, the obvious leader of the three, held a gun in his hand. Blair looked directly into their eyes. Max and Reggie undid the ropes and the chains and lifted Blair to his feet. The handcuffs were still secured on his wrists, behind his back. Max and Reggie held Blair between them. John walked up to stand right in front of Blair. He pressed the gun against Blair's forehead. Blair tried not to flinch away from the feel of the barrel against his forehead. He closed his eyes. John laughed a maniacal laugh.
"It would be so easy just to pull the trigger and leave you and your brains all splattered out on the floor. But, it is too easy. Where's the challenge? As college students, we like to be challenged. So, Professor Sandburg, we're going to make your death slow and as pain-filled as we can make it. My father owns this warehouse. And it is scheduled for demolition the day after tomorrow. What we have planned is to let the building fall down around you. You will be in the basement and all the debris will fall down upon you. No one will be able to survive something like that. And the beauty of this is that no one will miss you since its spring break and by the time they clear away the debris, you'll be dead. And we will be off guilt-free. Now, we're sorry that we have to tie you up and leave, but we have other things to do. Let's get him downstairs, boys."
Blair tried to break loose from the vice grips that the other two had on him. He tried flaying out his legs to try to connect onto something solid. But John took the gun and bashed the handle up side Blair's head quickly subduing him. Blair was dazed and they took him down to the basement. He was bound up again, using ropes and chains. And this time, they stuck a gag in his mouth to prevent him from crying out. They had him attached to the water pipes, dangling towards the floor, not quite reaching it. John raised the gun again, this time shooting once. The bullet landed in Blair's side.
"Just in case the building doesn't do its job. Bye, Professor."
The three left Blair in the basement. Blair felt the burning sensation in his left side. He could feel the blood flowing from the wound, running down his jeans, pooling on the floor. Thoughts of Jim came to his mind again. Blair knew Jim would track down the killers.
Brian Rafe and Henri Brown were getting ready to leave the station. They were going to do some male bonding tonight since it was Saturday and they had tomorrow off. They were working on Saturday since Ellison was gone to his convention in St. Louis. It had been quiet around the station since Ellison had been gone because that meant that Blair wasn't there either. Blair hardly ever showed up when Ellison wasn't there. Brian and Henri had to admit that the station had become livelier since Blair Sandburg had started showing up. He always had some story to tell about something. And Jim Ellison was a much easier detective to work with these days because of Blair's influence. Henri looked over at Brian.
"Do you want to call Hairboy and see if he wants to join us?"
"Sure. It's fine by me."
Brian flipped through his Rolodex to the card that had Blair's name and phone numbers. Brian tried the loft first, getting the answering machine. He didn't leave a message. He called Blair's number at the university, still not getting an answer. He didn't leave a message there either. He remembered that Blair had said something about spring break. He called the cell phone number last. It kicked over to the voice mail. This time Brian left a message.
"Hey, Blair. It's Rafe. Henri and I are going out tonight for some male only bonding and thought you'd like to come along. If you get this message in the next hour or so, we're going to Flannery's for drinks and something to eat to start off with. Drop by if you want to. Bye."
"No answer anywhere?"
"Nah. He probably has a girl date for the night. And he's probably right in the middle of something exciting. Let's go."
"Don't worry, partner. Some day we'll have girl dates too."
In the basement of the warehouse, Blair had heard his cell phone ringing. He wondered who it was. His backpack had been discarded in
the basement along with him. Of course, he was in no position to reach it. He had to listen to the phone ringing. It might have been Jim. Would Jim jump into "Blessed Protector" mode when he didn't get hold of Blair? Blair knew better than that. Blair had mentioned to Jim that he was thinking about taking a hiking trip during spring break. Jim had tried to persuade Blair to go with him to St. Louis. But Blair had begged off, thinking of other things he'd rather do. Now, Blair wished he had gone with Jim. At least, they would be together now. His thoughts formed in his mind.
'Damn, Jim!! This gunshot wound will probably kill me before the warehouse is even demolished. I wish you were here with me, Jim. It would be easier if I could see you. You'd smooth back my hair and tell me that everything was going to be okay. Even if it wasn't the truth. I've rubbed off on you, Jim. You obfuscate as well as I do. Wow, Jim!! I'm starting to feel real dizzy here. I think it's the blood loss. I'm sorry that I left without you. Simon will take care of you.'
Blair lost consciousness and dangled loosely from the water pipes. There was no one there to tell him to hang in there and that everything was going to be alright. For a man who made friends with everyone, no one was there with him in his time of need. He was a lost soul.
Rafe and Brown were mildly upset when Blair didn't show up. But they soon forgot about it when they picked up two lovely ladies and spent the rest of the evening with them. They told the ladies that they were detectives and that they got all the gruesome and tough cases. Hey, Ellison wasn't in town to dispute them, so they took advantage of that. Both men had hit the jackpot. Blair was soon a distant memory for each man.
It was about mid-morning Sunday when the highway patrol was called to the report of a car hidden in the overgrowth of the west bank of the highway, about 10 miles outside of Cascade. Soon, the area was flooded with highway patrol, crime scene investigators, the fire department and Captain George Oppenheim, who had the distinction of being on duty this morning. He looked at the car resting at the bottom of the ravine, under the overgrowth. He walked over to the officer who had spotted the car first. Officer Mike Sanchez was putting the yellow tape around the area, blocking off the scene of where the car had went down.
"What do we have, Sanchez?"
"Green Volvo, '68 or '69 model. Haven't been down to check it out yet to see if anyone is inside."
"Let's wait for the fire department to bring it up to the roadway. Did you get a license plate?"
"Obscured by the weeds and overgrowth."
"Once they get it up here, run the plates."
"Will do, Captain."
It was over an hour before the car was brought up to the highway. There were no bodies in the car, although the keys were in the ignition. The doors and windows were dusted for prints before the investigators looked for other clues. Officer Sanchez wrote down the license plate -- 743 SFU. He went to his radio to call it in for a check. Captain Oppenheim went with two of the officers to pop the trunk of the car. There was nothing inside the trunk. At least there hadn't been a dead body. That was all that they needed. It looked like someone had his or her car stolen and dumped in a ravine outside of Cascade. Captain Oppenheim watched as Officer Sanchez came towards the group of state cops standing by the car.
"I've got the information about the car. It's registered to a Blair Sandburg, 852 Prospect Ave., Cascade. No reports of it being taken or stolen. I have a number for Sandburg, but there's no answer."
"Okay. Give me the information. I'll take care of it."
There was no indication that there was any crime that had taken place here. They would tow the car to the impound facility. Captain
Oppenheim would keep trying to get hold of Blair Sandburg and would
call somebody at the city police department to see whether or not Blair had reported his car stolen recently. It didn't look like the car was damaged too badly. Sandburg would be glad that his car was still in one piece.
Blair had a small period of wakefulness. He had no idea how much time had passed or if his death was imminent. As usual, his thoughts focused on Jim.
'Hey, Jim!! I'm still here. I don't know how and I don't know why. And I also don't know for how long. But, I am. Well, those guys told me that they wanted to prolong my death and make it as painful as they could. Well, they are succeeding. If they were still at the
university, I'd give them A's. They'd pass with flying colors!! Oh God, Jim!! It's killing me!! I wish you were here.'
The tears flowed freely from Blair's eyes. No one was there to see him anyway. It didn't matter. And Jim would understand. Jim always understood when it got to be too much for Blair. Blair closed his eyes again and drifted off.
Captain Oppenheim couldn't get hold of Blair Sandburg. There were three different numbers to call and he didn't answer any of them. Apparently, he had something to do with Rainier University. And, after calling the police department, someone had mentioned something about Sandburg being an observer with Major Crime. When he called Major Crime, one of the weekend detectives there acknowledged that Blair was working with Major Crime, mostly with Detective Jim Ellison. Captain Oppenheim asked for Ellison's phone number and was surprised to notice that it was the same as Sandburg's. He thanked the detective and hung up the phone. He had also gotten the number of Captain Simon Banks, the one in charge of Major Crime.
Simon Banks was not happy that his phone was ringing at 2:30 PM on a Sunday afternoon. He was hoping to spend a quiet day at his place, with his son, watching the ball game on TV. He walked towards the kitchen and picked up the phone.
"Yes." This wasn't good news. Not when they used his title.
"I'm Captain George Oppenheim of the highway patrol. One of our officers found a vehicle that was in the ravine about 10 miles outside of Cascade. After running the plates, the registration came back to a Blair Sandburg. It's a green '68 Volvo. From the investigation I've done, Mr. Sandburg is an observer with Major Crime. Is that right?"
"Yes. Did you find Sandburg?"
"No. There was nothing in the car incriminating or indicating a crime. We've towed the car to our impound yard and will hold it there until Mr. Sandburg can pick it up. Do you know how we can contact Mr.
Sandburg? He doesn't answer phone calls and he wasn't at home or the university. Or if you could tell me how to contact Detective Ellison?"
"Detective Ellison is out of town. I don't know how to tell you this, Captain Oppenheim. Sandburg has a tendency to find trouble. Or trouble finds him. Chances are someone carjacked his car and left him somewhere else. I and my detectives will take over the search, Captain. Thank you for finding his car and looking for him. And for alerting me about the incident."
"I hope that he's okay."
"So do I, Captain."
Brian Rafe could hear his phone ringing as he put the key in the lock of his apartment. He got inside with the two bags of groceries and put them down on the table there. He picked up the phone, wondering if it was Julie from last night.
"Rafe, its Captain Banks. Get into the station as soon as possible. I just got a report from the highway patrol that Blair's Volvo was found in a ravine 10 miles outside of Cascade. There's no sign of foul play at the scene, and no sign of Sandburg. And Sandburg isn't answering anywhere. We need to mobilize this as soon as possible."
"Are you going to contact Ellison, sir?"
"Not right now. I want to see what we can come up with in the next 24 hours or so. If Blair is fine and dandy, I don't want to bother Jim
"I'll be there in 10 minutes, sir."
It was a solemn and dedicated group that showed up at the station at around 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon. Simon had Joel checking the
hospitals and the morgue to see if a John Doe matching Blair's description had arrived in the past 3 to 4 days. He sent Rafe and Brown to Rainier with the key to Blair's office. They were to check it out and see if there had been a struggle of any kind there. And they were also supposed to check if there was a list of people Blair might have gone to see. Simon knew that even when classes weren't in session Blair spent time at the university. Simon took the task of going to the loft and checking it out as a potential crime scene. He hoped to be able to find something there. They needed a lead as to where Blair might have gone or had been taken to. Jim had left on Thursday, so it had been almost four days since anyone from Major Crime had seen Blair. An eternity for anyone to have grabbed Blair and do who knows what to him. Simon tried not to think about it too much. He had seen what sickos could do to innocent victims. And even though Blair hung around with cops, he was still an innocent.
Blair could feel the handcuffs digging into his wrists. He could feel more blood flowing down his hands and fingers. He let loose a sob from behind the gag. It was dark in the basement. He still had no idea how much time passed or how much time he had left. He knew it wasn't much.
'Jim...I loved you, man. Brotherly love. I never had a brother. You were my choice. I know that you have Steven, but there's always room for a brother. I really do want to see you one more time. Just to see your face. So I can remember you. Jim...don't grieve for me. I'm not worth it. You were always...the important one.'
Simon Banks knew he was invading Blair Sandburg's privacy. But it was in the name of trying to find out where Blair was. Simon was sure that Blair would forgive him, if he even noticed. Simon would offer almost anything if he found a clue to direct them where they could find Blair, alive and well and in one piece. Simon had no doubt that someone had hurt Blair. He didn't look forward to calling Jim Ellison and telling him that Blair was missing or worse. He found the address book and smiled when he noted that most of the names were women. Probably coeds, fellow students. He decided to stay at the loft and make the phone calls. He called into the station and told Taggart that he'd be at the loft if anything came up. Joel told him that Rafe and Brown were going through an address book and Blair's Rolodex that they found in Blair's office.
Brian was the one who found the paper on Blair's desk as they were looking over everything.
"Look at this, H. Remember about two weeks ago when Blair told us about this? This is the official letter from the university informing Blair that those students were expelled from the university. I remember Blair saying that he was going to be the key witness in the trial coming up. I hope they kept those scum in jail."
"They probably got bail. Everyone can post bail nowadays. Do you think we should do some checking on them?"
"It probably wouldn't hurt. Of course, we can't get anything until morning at the earliest on their status."
"Let's keep the letter. We'll check it first thing tomorrow morning."
Simon got back to the station at around 7:30 PM. Everyone else was there. They went into Simon's office. Each man gave his reports. It wasn't much at all. But Simon thought that the three drug dealing students sounded like the best bet.
"I want you two on that first thing in the morning. I know that we can't discount the fact that Blair might have went off with a friend to go to a remote spot in the woods or on a weekend trip. But we have to remember that we are talking about Blair Sandburg, trouble magnet. Even though we all care about him. I want us to hound these drug
dealers. I can see that they would want to get revenge on Blair."
Simon noticed the faraway look in Brian's eyes.
"What's wrong, Rafe?"
"H and I tried to get hold of Blair Saturday night. He didn't answer any of the calls I placed. I'm just worried about what might have happened to him."
"We'll find him, Rafe. Blair is a resourceful young man. He's gotten out of situations I never thought even a seasoned police officer could get out of. It's like he has nine lives. Just like a cat. We have to hold on to the belief that he's okay until we know otherwise."
Simon sent all of them home a short time later. He had a feeling that Rafe wasn't going to go home. He would search all of Cascade for Blair Sandburg. He was much like Ellison when it came to caring about the young observer. Rafe and Sandburg had become fast friends despite their differences. He knew that they had done things together in the past. It would be hard on all of them if something permanently bad happened to Blair Sandburg.
Rafe and Brown were at the station early Monday morning. They checked and discovered that the three men had posted bond and were free until
the preliminary hearing, in three weeks. Brown and Rafe got addresses for all three and had patrol cars keep an eye on them. They were trying to find enough evidence to try to get a warrant to check out each of the young men. But it would take time. The one thing they didn't think they had. At least they would keep an eye on John Quinley, Max Barth, and Reggie Maxwell. They got a break with the report came back on Blair's car around 8:30 AM. There were fingerprints found that belonged to Quinley and Barth. It was enough
probable cause to bring them in for questioning. Rafe and Brown went to bring in Quinley and they sent Joel and the officer watching Barth to bring him in.
It was a half an hour later when they were in separate interrogation rooms, Rafe with Quinley and Brown with Barth. They were asking about Blair Sandburg and if they had seen him recently. Quinley and Barth said nothing. Simon Banks watched the questioning with interest. He had authorized other officers to check out Quinley's van and Barth's car. Plus the apartments where they lived. He told them to put a rush on things. He was hoping for some type of lead to tell him what had happened to Blair Sandburg.
Rafe was getting frustrated. He wanted to smack Quinley up side his head. He was smirking at Rafe and Rafe knew instinctively that Quinley knew something about Blair's disappearance.
"We found your prints on Sandburg's car when it was pulled up from the ravine. Care to tell me how they got there?"
"We took his car. As a prank. A joke. Get it?"
"Got it. Was Sandburg in the car when you took it?"
"Nowhere around it."
The demolition crew came to the warehouse around 9:00 AM Monday
morning. They did a quick last minute search to make sure the place
was empty. The door to the basement was locked; no one could get down there. The men started to place the explosives throughout the
different parts of the building in order to bring it down.
They finished placing the first of the explosives around the south end of the warehouse. The foreman made sure that everyone was back from the area and the charges were set off. The demolition had started.
In the basement, Blair heard something then felt the debris fall on his head. He tried to yell out, momentarily forgetting that he was gagged. And he was too weak to yell very loud anyway. The water pipes loosened and he fell to the floor, passing out when his head hit the concrete.
Simon Banks looked at the report he had been handed by an officer. There had been blood and several strands of brown hair found in the back of Quinley's van. Preliminary tests on the blood indicated that it was Blair's type. Banks stepped towards the door and opened it a bit.
"Rafe? Can I see you a minute?"
Rafe stood up from the table and went over to the door, stepping
outside to join his captain. Simon handed him the report. Rafe's face lost some of its color. He went back inside the interrogation room. Simon went to have Maxwell brought in with his buddies. No doubt all three were involved in this. One of them would crack. They would be able to find Blair's body.
Rafe looked at Quinley when he walked back in to the room.
"What did you do to Blair Sandburg?" Rafe barely controlled his anger.
Quinley said nothing. Rafe had to control the urge to beat the
information out of the guy. It wouldn't accomplish anything.
Simon took Maxwell himself when he was brought in. He told Joel to keep an eye on Rafe and Brown. Maxwell sat in the chair and watched the imposing form of Simon Banks sit down opposite him.
"What can you tell me about the disappearance of Blair Sandburg?"
"I don't know anything. I didn't know he was missing."
"Did you know that we found your prints on his car?"
"That can't be!! I wasn't there. It was John and Max. They said that we had to ditch the car."
"How did you ditch the body?"
"They ditched the car, you ditched the body."
"No!! It was John's idea."
"What was John's idea?"
"The warehouse." Realizing what he had just said, Maxwell suddenly went quiet.
"You best tell me the whole story, son. It'll go easier on you that way."
"The old furniture warehouse near the docks. Quinley's. It's being demolished this morning. Sandburg is in the basement."
Simon rushed out of the interrogation room and went to get Rafe and Brown. He told them what was going on and got on his cell phone to send a unit to the warehouse site to try to stop the demolition. Simon yelled out to Joel to contact the fire department, thinking they might need their rescue equipment. All four men were headed to the
destination hoping that they weren't too late.
Over half the warehouse was down by the time they got to the location. Each man looked expectantly at the debris and wondered if Blair was under there alive. They stood around the perimeter of the building, wanting to dig out the bricks and lumber by hand to find Blair. Simon tried not to think about the possibility that he would have to call Jim Ellison to tell him that Blair Sandburg was dead. Each man sent up a silent prayer.
The firemen organized the group to start searching. Using the utmost care and going slow, they started clearing the area. Simon called into the station, sending out a plea that anyone that was able was needed to help clear the area. Soon, there were more than three dozen on duty and off duty policemen and firemen helping with the effort. It was still slow going and Simon was beginning to become frustrated. In a way, he wished that Jim were here. He could tell whether or not they were getting close. He always claimed that he could hear Blair's heartbeat and could distinguish it from others. It was a miracle to Simon.
It was over three hours later when Rafe spotted Blair's backpack. He pulled it from the rubble and showed it to Simon.
"He's around here somewhere. Let's go carefully, people. We don't want to hurt him more than he's already suffered."
Joel was the one who found the body. He found the hand first. He carefully removed the rest of the debris surrounding the body. Blair was covered from head to toe in brick dust. Joel carefully knelt down beside the body and checked for a pulse. He let a small smile come across his face. There was a weak pulse. And Blair was breathing. Somehow. He sent up a silent prayer of thanks.
"Get the paramedics in here!! He's still alive!!"
Joel patted Blair's leg before he got up to get out of the way.
They all got their first good look at Blair when the paramedics brought him out of the destruction of the warehouse. He was on a backboard, a cervical collar around his neck. They noticed the bandaged area on the left side. It was bloody. A lot of blood. Blair looked pale and lifeless. He was completely still on the gurney. Simon stopped the paramedics.
"How bad is it?"
"It's bad, sir. He's lost a lot of blood and I don't know if he's strong enough to hold on. Much longer inside that building and there would only have been a corpse to recover."
Simon only shook his head. He turned to his detectives.
"Great job, men. Rafe? I want you and Brown to go back to the station and book those three men for kidnapping, car theft and attempted murder. I don't want them getting out on bail this time. Understood?"
Simon looked at Joel.
"Let's follow the ambulance to the hospital. I'll need to know every detail when I call Jim later."
"I'm with you, Simon."
The ride to the hospital was made in silence. Neither man wanted to voice what they were thinking. Simon wondered if he should call Jim now. If Blair doesn't make it...
They arrived at the hospital, just behind the ambulance. They walked into the emergency room and Simon told the nurses why they are there. He thinks about calling Jim again. But he doesn't have the number for the hotel. It's back at the office. He sits down beside Joel to wait for word about Blair.
Rafe and Brown book the three suspects in the kidnapping and attempted murder of Blair Sandburg. Brown can tell that Rafe is having a hard time.
"Brian? After we're done here, we can stop by the hospital and see if Hairboy is doing okay? How about that?"
"No. I don't know if I can look at him again."
"What are you talking about?"
"Did you see how he looked? He looked like death warmed over. He might not make it."
"When have you ever known Blair Sandburg to give up?"
"It was too much this time. I mean, not only did they put him in that basement, but also they shot him in the side. He lost so much blood. He might not be able to recover."
"We're going to the hospital. After we finish up here."
The nurse and then the doctor came out to tell Simon and Joel that they were going to take Blair up to surgery. They had to remove the bullet and had to set his broken bones. Plus there was evidence of bleeding in his abdomen and they had to do exploratory surgery to check it out. He was also suffering from a skull fracture and various cuts and
bruises throughout his body. The doctor told them they could wait in the surgical waiting room for word, but that it would probably be several hours until Blair was out of surgery.
It was about four hours later when Brian and Henri made it to the hospital. They had done all the reports and made sure the arrest
warrants for all three men were perfect. They wouldn't be getting out of jail anytime soon. They walked into the waiting room to see Simon and Joel sitting there, waiting.
"Any word yet?"
"The nurse came by about an hour ago and said the doctor was still trying to find out the cause of the internal bleeding. He's lost so much blood."
Brian and Henri sat down to wait with Simon and Joel. It wasn't a very long wait. About half an hour later, the doctor walked into the waiting room, confronting the four men.
"All of you here for Blair Sandburg?"
"Yes. I'm Captain Simon Banks, Cascade Police Department. Blair is an observer with the department. How is he?"
"Not very well. By the way, I'm Dr. Michaels. We had to place him on full life support towards the end of the procedure because his blood pressure took a nosedive. And then he went into arrest. We were able to bring him back, but he is weak. We were able to discover where the internal bleeding was coming from. We stopped that. He's still
receiving a blood transfusion. We're going to place him in Intensive Care and see how he responds."
All four men nodded, realizing the seriousness of the injury. Dr. Michaels left the waiting room, leaving Simon, Joel, Henri and Brian alone there. Simon spoke first.
"I'm going back to the station and call Jim. He'll probably get the first flight home. Again, that was a good job by all of you. Especially you two." He indicated Brown and Rafe. "It was a total
team effort today, men. And we saved one of our own."
"Thank you, captain. We consider Sandburg one of the men. And Jim would have our heads if we hadn't found him and rescued him."
"Yeah. Tell Jim we'll be with Blair until he gets back."
"You two need to go home and get some rest. You both did overtime on this."
"I want to see if I can go in and see Blair for a minute. You know? Just to make sure that he's okay?"
"I understand, Rafe. Just don't stay too long."
Simon and Joel left the hospital to go back to the station. Brian and Henri waited around to see if the nurses in Intensive Care would let them in to see Blair. They told them maybe after he was situated.
It was about two hours later when one of the nurses came to get Brian and Henri. She said that each one of them could have five minutes. Brian let Henri go in first.
Henri walked over to the bed. The only noise in the room was the machines as they kept a certain rhythm. Henri looked down at the still figure in the bed. It was unnatural. Blair Sandburg was never this silent and never, ever this still. Henri noted the cuts and bruises on Blair's face and the various bandages all over.
"You better recover, Hairboy. I'm not going to be the one to tell Ellison that you survived a building falling down on you, a beating and a gunshot wound just to die in the hospital. Honestly, Sandburg, you have more will to live than anyone I've ever seen. Just hold on. Jim is on his way back. Simon is contacting him now. I'll say a prayer for you."
Brian hesitated when it came time for him to go in. Henri actually had to push him to walk into the room. He stood just inside the doorway, not wanting to advance further inside. He had become close with Blair several months ago when he and Blair had been put together on a stakeout. Jim had been tracking down other leads and had asked Blair if he could help out on the stakeout. Blair agreed to go on the stakeout. Brian was a little apprehensive having Blair with him. But everything went smoothly. Brian had went to Jim afterwards and told him that Blair really knew his stuff.
Brian made his way to the bed. He looked down at Blair.
"Jim will never forgive us if you die, Blair. And I still have to take that class from you. It's a wonder that you lived through that destruction. I'll stay with you until Jim gets back."
Brian stayed his five minutes. He patted Blair on the arm as he left.
Simon sat at his desk in his office. It was almost 9:00 PM, Cascade time. 11:00 PM St. Louis time. Simon found the information and made the call. The phone was answered on the second ring.
Simon could tell that Jim was tired. He hated to be the bearer of bad news. But Jim deserved to know.
"Jim? It's Simon."
"What's wrong, Simon?"
"Why would anything be wrong? Can't I just call to find out how my best detective is?"
"Simon? I'm not in the mood. Just cut to the chase."
"Okay. I'm sorry. It's Sandburg, Jim."
Simon could hear the worry and fear in Jim's voice.
"It's not good, Jim. Apparently, those three students he fingered that were selling drugs grabbed him. They did a number on him. They beat him up and the left him in a warehouse that was scheduled for demolition. We found him just in time. He's in Intensive Care in the hospital. He's still unconscious."
"Did you get the scum that did it?"
"Yeah. It was a team effort."
"I won't be able to get back until sometime tomorrow. Damn!! I didn't think those kids would be such a threat to Blair. When was he
"We can't be sure. No one saw or heard from him after you had left for the conference. We do know that the three drug dealers got out on bail shortly after they had initially been arrested. So I think they were probably plotting this for some time and decided to execute it during spring break. It was just unfortunate that you were out of town at the same time."
"I tried to get Blair to come with me to St. Louis. But he said he had other things to do. I figured he'd trash the loft with a party and I'd yell at him when I got home."
"Jim? Don't do this. It's not helping anything. Call when you have your flight information. One of us will pick you up at the airport."
"Okay, Simon. Take care of him until I can get there."
"You know we will."
After Jim hung up the phone, he sat down on the bed. He spoke to the air.
"You hang in there, Sandburg!! I won't accept you dying this way."
Jim sat up most of the night thinking about Blair. And how he wished he had been more insistent that Blair accompanied him to St. Louis. Those drug dealers couldn't have found him there. And none of this would have happened. Jim felt guilty that he had let Blair down.
Brian Rafe had heard that Blair had come to. It was about mid-morning. He told Henri that he wanted to make a quick stop by the hospital to see Blair. They went to the hospital. Brian was allowed in Blair's room. He walked over to the bed and looked down at Blair. His left eye was swollen shut and the right one wasn't much better. But Brian saw a glint of the eyeball. Blair looked around as limited as he could. He tried to speak. Not much more than a croak came out. Brian reached over and grabbed the cup of ice. He slipped a few of the ice chips into Blair's mouth.
"There. Is that better?"
"Ye--ah. Wh-where's J--m?"
"He's on his way, Blair. He'll be here soon."
"No-o-o. The--ll get him. They g-got me..."
"No, Blair. It's okay. No one got Jim. He was out of town. He's on his way back. You just have to hang on until he gets here."
"It will be okay, Blair. Jim is coming."
Finally, Blair exhausted himself and drifted off to sleep. Brian looked down at him and smiled.
"It will be okay, Blair. He'll be here."
Brian told Henri what Blair had said. They went back to the station. When they got back, Simon told them that Jim was having a hard time getting a plane out of St. Louis and that he probably wouldn't get back to Cascade until late.
Jim was fuming. Because of a fog cover, all planes were delayed, some even cancelled. Jim tentatively got booked on a plane leaving around 6:30 PM and getting into Cascade at 9:15 PM. He even had to pay extra to get booked on the plane. Jim hung around the airport, not wanting to get caught anywhere else and not make it back in time for his flight. He could feel his headache building slower as the hours passed. It was only 12:30 PM. He still had six hours until his flight.
He went to the restaurant in the airport, hoping that food would help alleviate his headache. But all the sensations were assaulting his senses. He wished that Blair were there with him. Blair would know what to do. He would have the magic words and the right solutions. Jim couldn't do this by himself. He never could handle an overload of sensations. That's why he needed Blair with him. He was getting better. But it was the fact that Jim didn't want to test an overload of his senses. He didn't like it so he wouldn't let Blair test it. As Jim suffered through his meal of overcooked chicken, he decided to let Blair test the overload factor. Blair could help him regain control by himself when it became too much. Jim knew he had to know how to do this. Blair wasn't by his side 24/7. It was a fact of life.
Jim finished his meal, or most of it. He went to find the men's restroom. He had thought of something that would help him. He went
into one of the stalls and locked the door behind him. He sat down and closed his eyes. It wasn't the most ideal of places to meditate, but it was better than nothing. Blair had been trying to get Jim to do this forever. But Jim always balked at the idea. But it was at least quiet in the bathroom. Jim relaxed and went with the flow. His headache was reduced to a dull ache. He was able to gain some control and turned down all the dials to a minimum level.
Simon took the call when Jim called in. He was scheduled to leave St. Louis at 6:30 PM and arrive in Cascade at 9:15 PM. Barring any more delays. Simon told Jim that he'd be at the airport to pick him up. Simon asked Jim how he was holding up.
"Just fine. I'm putting all of Sandburg's helpful hints to work to keep control of things. I can see now why I need him with me. He does keep me sane. Even though I've tried to deny it. How's Blair?"
Holding on. He came to and they were able to remove the breathing tube. He's still groggy and receiving a blood transfusion."
"I'm glad he's come to. Let him know I'll be there later. Even if it is past visiting hours. I'll get them to let me in somehow."
"We'll tell him, Jim. Just relax, okay?"
Henri asked Brian if he wanted to go out to eat after their shift was over. Brian declined, saying he had other things to do.
"You know it's not healthy to hang around hospitals."
"Blair needs someone by his side. At least until Jim gets back."
"And you're the self-appointed one?"
"Yeah. You have a problem with that?"
"No, I don't have a problem with that. Just don't forget to go home and get some rest."
"I'll be able to. The captain said that Jim is due back at around 9:15 tonight. Once he gets to the hospital, my work will be done."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Rafe."
Rafe did go by the hospital. He asked the nurses there if he could stay by Blair's bedside. He promised that he wouldn't bother Blair. The nurses told him that they would give him 15 minutes every hour. Rafe accepted that. He walked into Blair's room. Blair was still too still and silent in the bed. It would take a long time for recovery. Blair was asleep when Rafe walked in. Rafe grabbed the chair that was on the far side of the room. He pulled it over to the bed so that if Blair woke up, he could see that he was there. But Blair didn't wake up. Rafe continued to stay by Blair's side.
The plane was delayed over an hour before it took off. Jim's headache had come back with a vengeance. He tried to relax on the plane, but all of his control was shot. There was just too much to deal with all at once. Finally, the plane took off and he was on his way home. He sent up a silent prayer that he would be in time. Even though Simon had told him that Blair was going to recover, there was always an unknown element. Once Jim saw Blair, he'd know that Blair would be okay. He had to see for himself.
It was almost 10:30 PM before the plane landed at the airport. Simon had seen the delay sign go up. Simon knew the fragile hold that Jim had on his life and sanity. Especially when Blair was not a part of that life. Simon watched as the passengers came off the plane. As he knew it would be, Simon watched as Jim was one of the last off the plane. He walked slowly, partially slumped over. Jim looked up when he reached where Simon was waiting for him. Simon could see how harried Jim was.
"Sit down here, Jim. I'll get your baggage."
Jim did as he was instructed. He leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. It was fractionally better like this.
Simon was as quick as he could. He got the two suitcases and the garment bag and walked back over to where he had left Jim. Jim opened his eyes when Simon approached. He stood up.
"How about I take you home --"
"No, Simon. I need to go by the hospital. I need to see Blair in person. Please."
Simon could hear the pleading tone in Jim's voice. He couldn't refuse Jim the chance to see Blair. Simon knew that Jim had to see Blair. It was amazing to Simon how much Jim and Blair cared for each other. The two men were as different as night and day, yet they were as close as brothers. And Simon knew that it was more than just the sentinel stuff between them. There was a genuine feeling between the two. Brotherly love. Simon would take Jim to the hospital. And stay with him as long as he wanted to stay.
"Okay, Jim. We'll go to the hospital. Let's go."
Jim was quiet on the ride from the airport to the hospital. He
leaned back in the passenger's seat of Simon's car and closed his eyes. It was much better just being back in Cascade. And out of the airport and all the sensations that had been there. Here there was the familiar. He allowed his mind to drift and seemed to relax even more. A small smile came across his face as he pictured Blair in his mind. It had to be okay.
As soon as Simon pulled into a parking space at the hospital, Jim was out of the car and striding towards the entrance. Simon quickly caught up to Jim and they rode the elevator together up to Intensive Care. Jim went to the nurse's station and asked about Blair.
"You do realize that it's well past visiting hours?"
"I do realize that." Jim read her nametag. It said Michelle. "But I need to see Blair, Michelle. You see he's my partner and my best friend. I've been out of town and I was hoping to look in on him. Just for a few minutes. I promise I won't stay very long."
"Just a minute, Jim. Let me check with his primary nurse."
She walked over to another woman, who was doing notations on a chart. Jim listened in on the conversation.
"Well, Brian is in there right now. If this guy doesn't mind waiting..."
Jim frowned. Brian? The only Brian he knew was Rafe. What would Rafe be doing here? In Sandburg's room? The other nurse walked over to Jim.
"I'm Kelly. I'm Blair's primary nurse here in Intensive Care. We've been letting Brian sit with Blair for fifteen minutes every hour. He told us that he works with Blair at the police station. Is that right?"
"Brian Rafe?" Kelly nodded yes. "Yeah. He's a detective with Major Crime. I didn't know he was so close to Blair. How much longer does he have?"
"He just went in a couple of minutes ago. If you don't mind waiting?"
"No. I don't mind waiting. Let him have his fifteen minutes."
Jim went back over to where Simon was waiting.
"Rafe is in there with Blair. He has been most of the night. They let him have 15 minutes every hour. Can you imagine that?"
"Yeah, I can. He was really upset that Blair had been hurt. I could see how it affected him. Blair has affected all of us, Jim."
"I guess you're right."
Jim extended his hearing into the room where Blair and Brian was. He heard Rafe talking to Blair. It was just a continuous outpouring of thoughts. Jim suspected that Blair was probably unconscious.
"...and then Henri went down to Forensics and got the phone number of the new clerk there. You haven't seen her yet. Her name is Nora. She just started on Monday. Personally, I don't think Henri has a shot. But you know him. I really thought that Jim was going to stop by when he got back into town. I'm sure you're tired of listening to me ramble on and on. But I believe in the theory that a friendly voice helps whenever you hear it. You would know more than I would. You know that Jim won't ever leave you alone again. You think he's protective now, just wait until you're back on your feet. Probably even before that."
Jim smiled. Simon noticed the smile.
"Rafe is telling Blair how over protective I'm going to be from now on. I never realized that the others cared about Blair."
"He's one of us, Jim. He's proven himself over and over. He's helped out immensely ever since the day he came on board. We all had our doubts at first. Just like you did. Don't give me that look, Ellison. I know how you were. You had the same thoughts the rest of us did."
"Well, you know. First impressions and everything. But I changed my mind rather quickly. Once he showed me that he knew what he was talking about."
Jim heard Rafe coming out of the room. Rafe looked up to see both Simon and Jim there.
"Why didn't they tell me that you were here?"
"I didn't want to interrupt your visit. Don't take this the wrong way Rafe, but why are you here?"
"I understand why you would question my being here, Jim. Blair needed someone with him until you showed up. I mean Blair is always there for one of us when we need it. The least I could do was be here when Blair needed someone."
"Thanks, Rafe. Stop by whenever you want to."
Jim slowly walked into the room. The familiar heartbeat came to his ears. He walked over to the bed and looked down at Blair.
"Aw-w-w, Chief. Look what happened to you. It's amazing you even survived. I'm here now."
Jim grabbed the chair and sat down by Blair's bedside. He looked over the swelling and the cuts just on Blair's face alone. Jim reached out his hand and touched Blair on the fingers of his right hand. The rest of the hand was in a cast. Jim would have to get a rundown of the full extent of injury. Jim let Blair's familiarity wash over him. He soon felt better than he had in two days. He kept his hold on Blair. He reconnected to what was home and family.
The nurses didn't disturb Jim as he sat by Blair's side. Simon explained to them how close Jim and Blair were. That they were like brothers. And that Jim was really worried about Blair's survival. They told Simon that they would let Jim stay in with Blair as long as he wanted to. A short time later Rafe left. Blair was in good hands now.
It was several hours later when Blair partially opened his one good eye. He saw Jim there, leaning back in the chair, his eyes closed. Blair tried to clear his throat, but all that came out was a strangled cry. It woke Jim up, though.
"Hey, buddy. There you are."
Jim was already reaching around to grab the cup with the ice chips in it. He spooned out a couple and placed them in Blair's mouth. Blair sucked on them, enjoying the cool liquid. He tried to speak again.
"did they g-get-t you...too? Are you de--ad too?"
"Hey, hey. What kind of talk is that? I'm not dead and you're not dead either. You survived, Chief. I'm right here. Flesh and blood. Can't you feel me holding your hand?"
"I th-thought I d-died..."
"No, Blair. I'm proud of you. You survived. It will take a long time for recovery, but you'll live."
"D-did you f-find m-m-me-e-e?"
"No. The rest of Major Crime found you. I was out of town. Remember?"
After Jim said that, he regretted it. He couldn't expect Blair to remember such a thing. He was trying to survive a brutal attack and a building collapsing around him. Jim gave Blair a couple more ice chips.
"I'm sorry about that, Blair. You had other things on your mind."
Blair started to shake his head and then suddenly stopped.
"I-s-s-s o'kay, J'm-m..."
Jim reached up to wipe away the tears that had formed in his eyes and were rolling down his cheeks. It meant the world to him that Blair was still alive. That he had survived the kidnapping, the attack and the building collapse. He stayed by Blair's side even though Blair drifted off asleep again. He would leave later. But right now he was content to stay by the side of the man who was a miracle to him.