Second Chances

Debbie

EMAIL: Debbie

This is my story for Lyn's July Themefic in which she wanted: Family trouble -- Jim or Blair vs. William, Steven or Naomi or make up some unknown relatives and have them cause problems for Jim and Blair. H/C a must for either Jim or Blair.

I want to acknowledge Annie for the double-duty of betaing and coming up with the title. Thanks Annie for helping with this. All remaining errors are mine.

The crash was horrific and at first, it was believed both occupants of the truck were dead. But upon further examination, it was found that both were clinging to life. The rescue personnel worked cautiously but urgently to get the two men out of the wreckage and on their way to the hospital.

Simon Banks was numb from the news. He had just talked to Blair not more than ten minutes ago. Jim had spotted Marcus Hayes and was going to try to apprehend the known rapist. Simon told Blair he was sending backup to their location. Blair acknowledged the message. Now this had happened.

Simon left his office quickly, not pausing as he walked through the bullpen. "Rhonda, I'll be out of the office. There's been an incident with Ellison and Sandburg."

Simon continued on to the elevators, not offering any other explanation. Brown and Rafe looked at each other, both of them knowing *incident* could mean almost anything. However, the captain's tone assured them it didn't mean anything good. Everyone in the bullpen knew something had happened and it probably wasn't pleasant.

Simon reached the scene of the accident. Jim's truck was off the side of the road, crunched up against a wall there. Simon noticed Jim had been pulled from the wreckage and a couple of paramedics were attending to him, placing an oxygen mask over his face and immobilizing his arms and legs. Simon hoped it was just a precaution on their part. Simon wanted to ask how he was but didn't want to interrupt any life-saving measures. It was obvious Jim was unconscious, as the body on the gurney didn't move.

Simon moved as close to the remains of Jim's truck as he could. He couldn't spot Blair inside the tangle of metal and leather, but knew the young man was still in there by the actions of the rescuers. Simon recalled the end of his conversation with Blair earlier.

~~**~~

"Tell Ellison to drive carefully. He doesn't need another incident report on his record."

"Yeah. He heard you, Captain. He says the last two reports weren't his fault."

"I'll see you two soon."

"Bye, Captain. I'll make sure he's careful."

~~**~~

It looked like it was going to take some time before they got Blair out of the wreckage. Simon went over to the officers to find out what had happened.

"Can you tell me what happened?"

"It appears as if the car driven by Mr. Hayes swerved to avoid Detective Ellison's approaching truck. Hayes went into the other lane and the car in that lane, driven by a Mr. Mike Carson, went into the lane vacated by Mr. Hayes. Detective Ellison swerved off the right side of the road to avoid the on-coming car. Apparently, Detective Ellison's truck brakes failed and the truck hit the wall."

Simon winced at the cold and factual description the officer gave him of the accident. Jim must have thought he'd be able to stop and avoid an even worse possible scenario.

"Make sure Detective Ellison's truck is checked out at the impound yard."

"Yes, sir."

Simon noticed the paramedics heading towards Jim's truck. A few minutes earlier, one of the several ambulances had pulled away, headed towards the hospital. It was a miracle no one had died. The back-up officers had arrived just after the accident, preventing an even larger disaster. Hayes had hit the curb when he lost control of his car and Mike Carson was only shook up over what happened.

Simon watched as they lifted Blair out of the wreckage, strapped to a backboard and completely immobilized. There was a lot of blood around Blair's head and on his clothes.

"We're still having trouble stabilizing him!" one of the paramedics yelled to the rescue personnel.

"We'll get him clear of the wreckage and then you can take care of him."

Simon was mesmerized as Blair was lowered to the ground. As with Jim, there was no apparent movement from Blair, but the paramedics blocked Simon's view as they worked on stabilizing their patient.

Another ambulance left the area and Simon decided to stay until they took Blair to the hospital. He watched as the paramedics worked frantically on the young man. All three vehicles were towed away from the scene and the investigators began processing the area.

It was about ten minutes later when the paramedics loaded Blair into the remaining ambulance. Simon went to his car to go to the hospital. He had to find out about Jim and Blair. Along the way, he called into the station, explaining the situation to Rhonda and leaving it up to her to explain it to the others. As he ended the call, he promised to update a worried Rhonda on the conditions of both men.

~~**~~

Simon waited impatiently for word about either Jim or Blair. He was surprised when Brown, Rafe, Taggart and Connor all showed up at the hospital.

"What are all of you doing here?"

Joel spoke up. "We came to find out about Jim and Blair. Have you heard anything?"

"Who's minding Major Crime?"

"The evening shift, Captain. It's past 6:30." Brown had answered the question this time.

"I haven't heard much. Both were unconscious at the scene. They had trouble stabilizing Blair before they transported him."

They all sat down to wait for the news, hoping it would be good. It was some time later when a doctor came out to talk to them.

"I'm Dr. Reed. Are all of you here for Jim Ellison?"

"I'm his commanding officer, Simon Banks. These are his fellow detectives. How is Jim?"

"We're a little concerned that he's still unconscious. But he is stable enough to transport up to surgery. He has several broken bones and we're concerned about internal bleeding and damage to his internal organs. Does Detective Ellison have any family in town?"

"He has a father and a brother. Is his condition that serious?" Simon questioned the doctor.

"I would contact them, just in case." Dr. Reed looked at the assembled group. "I really have to go finish prepping Detective Ellison for surgery. If you'll excuse me…"

"Do you know anything about the condition of Blair Sandburg? He was brought in some time after Jim was."

"A younger man? From the same accident?" When Simon nodded his head, the doctor spoke again. "A colleague of mine is treating him. I know there were problems with his heart and keeping him stable. Someone will be able to update you on his condition."

"Thank you, Dr. Reed." Simon sat back down in the chair there. Joel interrupted his thoughts.

"Do you want me to contact Mr. Ellison and Jim's brother, Simon?"

Simon looked up at Joel standing in front of him. "Ah… no, Joel. I'll do it. It's my responsibility. Why don't you and Megan go up to the surgical waiting room in case they have any reports about Jim before I can get up there?"

Joel nodded his head and Megan got to her feet. "Okay, Simon. What about Blair?"

"Brown, you and Rafe stay here and wait for word about Blair. I'm going to try to find out a way to contact Blair's mother at the same time I contact Mr. Ellison Steven. I don't know how long I'll be gone."

"We understand, Captain. We have it covered," assured Henri as he looked over at Brian.

"Good. I hope to be back here as soon as I can."

~~**~~

Simon went by the loft first. He knew he should go ahead and contact William and Steven Ellison, but he wanted to have a place to start to try to contact Naomi Sandburg. He remembered Blair remarking in the past how elusive it was to find his mother. She didn't always keep in touch with her only son, except when it suited her. At least, that was Simon's impression.

Simon had a spare key for the loft. Jim had given him the key about a year ago when both Jim and Blair had ended up in the hospital and they needed some essentials from the loft and no one else had a key. Jim and Blair decided that Simon was the most responsible person that could be trusted with an extra key.

Simon walked inside the loft, finding it surreal without either Jim or Blair there. He walked towards Blair's bedroom. He opened the doors to the small room and walked inside. He found several letters on the table there. Although it was invading the young man's privacy, Simon knew it was necessary to try to contact Blair's mother. Blair could be seriously injured and if his mother wasn't contacted and she found out, there would be hell to pay. Simon felt it was better to incur Blair's wrath rather than his mother's.

There was a letter there from Naomi to her son. Simon didn't open the envelope, but jotted down the return address. He'd get the information from someone at the police department about a contact number and call her after he spoke to William Ellison. He looked at his watch; it was just past 8:00 PM. He needed to go talk to William Ellison.

Simon left the loft, making sure the door was locked behind him. He'd go notify William Ellison about the accident and hope he would notify Steven.

~~**~~

William Ellison called Steven before leaving his house. He was lucky to reach him before he left for his business trip to Seattle.

"Steven, it's your father. There's been an accident. Jim and Blair were both involved in it. No, it was a vehicular accident. They are both at Cascade General Hospital. Yes. I'm going to be leaving shortly and I was hoping you could cancel your business trip. Okay. I hope to see you soon. Bye, son."

William turned to Simon when he finished the phone call. "I caught Steven before he left town. He's going to try to get someone to take his place. He'll meet me at the hospital if he's able. We can go ahead and go to the hospital. Let me tell Sally where I'll be. She'll want to know about Jimmy also."

Simon waited in William Ellison's study while he went to tell Sally, the housekeeper. Simon remembered meeting her when a serial killer, because of a connection with Jim, targeted William. That was when father and son began their reconciliation. Over the past several years, father and son became close again, started doing things together again. Both William and Jim claimed Blair had a lot to do with their renewed closeness.

William had been genuinely upset that Jim was injured. Then he asked about Blair. When Simon told him Blair was injured in the same crash, William only shook his head.

"To tell you the truth, I really like that young man. He's so smart and he's helped Jim so much with his senses. He explained to me what an advantage it is for Jim to have those senses in his line of work, even though it's not common knowledge that he does have them. I've unofficially adopted him as another son. He and Jimmy get along so well together."

When William came back to the study, he told Simon he would follow him to the hospital. As they walked out of the house, he asked Simon about Blair's mother.

"I'm going to try to contact her when we get back to the hospital. She needs to be told about this."

William agreed with Simon's idea and offered any help he could to bring her to Cascade or even to try to track her down if needed. Simon appreciated the offer.

~~**~~

Joel and Megan were still waiting for word about Jim. The surgery was taking an extra long time because there had been some internal bleeding and Jim's blood pressure dropped during surgery.

William met Joel and Megan and sat down to wait for word. He told them how strong Jim was and what a fighter he was. He asked about Blair's condition but neither one knew anything about Blair's prognosis or if he had been brought up to surgery.

Simon made a call into the station, giving the information about the address he had gotten from the envelope. He told them he wanted the information as soon as possible. He closed his cell phone and went to find out about Blair.

They were just getting ready to transport Blair up to Intensive Care. He was precariously stable, but the hospital personnel didn't want to risk taking him into surgery until they observed him for a while. They were tentatively planning to take him into surgery tomorrow if his vital signs held steady overnight.

Simon went up to the surgical waiting room to see William talking to Joel and Megan. They all looked at him when he walked in.

"They're going to move Blair up to Intensive Care. They have him stable, but it's not solid and they don't want to risk moving him into surgery until he stays the same for a while. They are planning to take him into surgery tomorrow if his vital signs remain steady overnight. I was going to ask if they'd let me see him, but I didn't. I was thinking maybe I'd try to get in to see him later when he's placed in Intensive Care."

"Did you get hold of Sandy's mother?"

"I found a letter from her at the loft. I'm having a trace put on the address and having them call me back as soon as they get it. Then I'll call and see if she's still there."

Henri and Brian came up to the waiting room a short time later. They had gone to the cafeteria after finding out about Blair. The whole group waited for word.

Simon's cell phone went off about an hour later. He had the information about the retreat. He wrote down the phone number and then left the waiting room to go make the call. He asked to speak to Naomi Sandburg. They put him on hold, leaving him listening to some new age music with harps and a definite twang.

"Hello?"

"Ms. Sandburg? This is Captain Simon Banks from…"

"Yes, Captain Banks! How are you?"

"Well, I've been better. I'm calling about your son…"

"Oh, no! He's not…dead?"

"No, no. He's been in a serious crash. He's unconscious here in the hospital, Cascade General. Both he and Jim were involved in the crash. They told us the injuries are serious and that family and next of kin should be notified."

"A crash? Who was driving, Captain Banks?"

"I don't see where that-" Simon was curious as to where she was going with this.

"Who was driving, Captain?"

"Actually, Jim was driving, but the accident wasn't his fault."

"I should have known! I told Blair it was very dangerous hanging around a pi…cop! I'll be there as soon as I can get a flight, Captain. And then we'll see what happens."

Naomi disconnected the call. Simon closed his cell phone and rubbed the bridge of his nose. He had no idea Naomi Sandburg still held such resentment for the police. Or maybe it was Jim in particular. He thought Blair had gotten through to her about his intentions and wishes. She seemed okay the last time he had seen her. But maybe it was something between her and her son. He just didn't want her coming to Cascade and causing problems for everyone. Especially for Jim and Blair when neither man was up to fighting for themselves.

~~**~~

The doctor was optimistic Jim would make a full recovery. By the time the doctor came to the waiting room, Steven had arrived to help support his father and be there for his brother. He also found out about Blair, hoping to stop by Intensive Care to look in on the younger man.

Jim had broken both legs, his right arm, several ribs, his collarbone and had a moderate concussion. He would need a long time for recovery and William could envision both Jim and Blair coming to his house to recover. Both men would need assistance and William was more than willing to offer his house, too big for just him and Sally. Not to mention Sally would be willing to wait on both Jim and Blair hand and foot, to help them on their long road to recovery.

William and Steven got permission to go to recovery to look in at Jim for a few minutes. William almost didn't recognize his son, with the swelling from the impact of the crash. William placed his hand on Jim's left arm, careful of the bruises there, not wanting to hurt his son more than he had been already.

"We're here, Jimmy. I'll make sure I watch over Blair until you're up to it again."

They then went up to Intensive Care, hoping to get to see Blair for a short time. They waited in line until the members of Major Crime had been able to see him. William stood by Blair's bed, looking down at the young man, so unnaturally still. He placed his hand on Blair's arm, repeating the same words he told his son.

"We're here, Blair. I'll make sure I watch over Jim until you're up to it again."

Then father and son left the hospital, thanking the members of Major Crime for being there for both Jim and Blair. Simon said they were a family also.

~~**~~

Simon stood inside Blair's Intensive Care room, looking down at the still figure in the bed.

"What did I tell you, Blair? I told you to make sure he drove carefully. Now, look at where the two of you are now. You have to hold on, Blair. But I've called your mother. I hope it wasn't the wrong thing to do. The doctors told us both of you were in serious condition. I called William to come for Jim and I thought it was only right I call your mother. You just have to make sure you survive so that you can send her away if you want to."

Simon stayed a few minutes longer, having gotten permission from the nurses. He was hoping there would be some response from Blair, but there wasn't. The personnel were keeping watch on a pressure build-up inside Blair's brain. Just another item in the long list of problems for the young man.

Before Simon left the hospital, he left his card in Intensive Care and in recovery, just in case either Jim or Blair took a turn for the worse overnight. He wanted to know about any changes in his men. He smiled. It was true -- both Jim and Blair were his men. Even if Blair wasn't a police officer, he was still a consultant to the department and had gone through everything (and even more) that a seasoned officer had been through. Blair proved himself worthy of being considered as one of his men. He'd have to mention that to Blair when he recovered.

As Simon drove home, he made a mental note to call Rainier University tomorrow to let them know about the crash Blair had been involved in. Blair still taught classes at the university and spent a lot of his time there. It was only right Simon let them know what had happened.

~~**~~

Naomi used all of her influence and no small amount of manipulation to get the earliest flight possible to Cascade. This was the final straw. Blair obviously did not have all his faculties and mental capabilities to do the sensible thing in his life. He had a perfectly good job at the university and she hadn't realized he was still hanging around the Cascade Police Department and Jim Ellison, in particular.

She meant to do something about that. Blair was in Intensive Care, unconscious and in serious condition. She'd go to Cascade, get temporary guardianship of her son and physically remove him from the city. She knew any judge would grant her guardianship since she was Blair's mother. And since Blair couldn't speak for himself, it would make the whole proceeding go that much faster. She'd have him safe and sound before anyone could blink. Her biggest obstacle would be Jim Ellison and it appeared as if he was in the same boat as Blair as far as being injured and in the hospital.

Of course, Naomi knew that once Blair recovered, he'd probably demand to return to Cascade. However, she wasn't sure he would make a full and total recovery. If he was still unconscious, there could be complications to the recovery. He would resent her for doing it to him, but he would forgive her when she rescued him from certain death. Blair did not know what was best for him. He had looked for acceptance in different arenas and different areas than the normal ones throughout his life. This was one of those instances. Blair didn't belong with pigs and he surely didn't belong with Jim Ellison! The man had been nothing but trouble since Blair had hooked up with him years ago. Of course, Blair never listened to the reasoning Naomi gave to try to get her son away from the pigs and their negative influence. Blair had even fired guns, guaranteed bad karma in Naomi's mind.

~~**~~

William Ellison spoke with Blair's doctors about the young man's prognosis. At least Blair had held on throughout the night and they were going to take him into surgery to start on repairs to his body. William was prepared to bring in the most experienced specialists in the field. However, it really wasn't what Blair needed. William knew what Blair needed. He needed Jim by his side. As much as Jim needed Blair to make him complete, Blair needed Jim to make him complete. With both of them unconscious, it was hard for them to make the connection and know that they were still together.

William spent time with both of them, telling them the other was nearby. He was concerned that Jim was still unconscious. There was no evident head injury, except for a slight concussion. William wondered if there was some connection to Jim's senses and his still being unconscious. He wished Blair were aware so he could ask the young man. It amazed him how much Blair knew about heightened senses in general and Jim's senses in particular. He had explained it all to William and Steven over a long weekend spent at William's home around Thanksgiving.

~~**~~

The plane landed in Cascade and Naomi rented a car. She'd go to the hospital first to see Blair. She was worried about her son. And she knew with all the documentation she had, it would be easy to get temporary guardianship of Blair.

Naomi walked into the hospital, going up to Intensive Care. She noticed William Ellison in Blair's room. She wondered what he was doing there. Naomi walked into the room.

"Mr. Ellison?"

William turned at the voice. Naomi. "Ms. Sandburg. You got here quickly."

"My son needs me. How's Jim?" There was no concern in her voice for his son.

"He's still unconscious. He should be coming to soon."

"Don't take this the wrong way, Mr. Ellison, but why are you in my son's room?"

William knew just what Naomi Sandburg was hinting at. "I understand, Ms. Sandburg. However, I think of Blair as an extended member of my family. He and Jim have been friends for a number of years."

"Yes, I'm well aware of their friendship. But I'm the only family Blair needs right now. Can I have a few minutes alone with my son, Mr. Ellison?"

William caught her meaning. "Of course. Since our sons are friends, why don't we dispense with the formalities? You can call me William."

Naomi ignored William's attempt at civility. "I'd like some time alone with *my* son."

William got the hint, took one last look at Blair and left the room. It had to be because she was upset about the accident and Blair's injuries. He'd give her the benefit of the doubt. It was hard to see Blair so still and silent. William walked down the hall where Jim's room was. He walked inside and over to the bed.

"Naomi just arrived. She was less than cordial towards me. It was just as Blair told me last Christmas when she and he had that blow-up at the loft. I'll keep an eye out in case she tries something. At least we all know she's not overly fond of the idea of her only son surrounded by cops and defying her wishes for his future. It would help if you came to though, son. It's safe for you to come to, Jimmy."

~~**~~

Naomi stood by the bed, looking down at her son. "I'll get you out of here, Blair. Your association with Jim has clouded your judgment. You've surrounded yourself with the wrong people, but I promise to remedy that."

Naomi waited for Blair's doctor to show up and she learned that Blair was being taken into surgery later that day. She informed the doctor that she wanted to be kept up to date on her son's condition and any treatments scheduled. No one else was to be given that information. A short time later, she left the hospital as William watched her go.

~~**~~

Craig Davidson smiled when his secretary, Marilyn, told him that Naomi Sandburg was there to see him. He hadn't seen Naomi for several years.

"Show her in, Marilyn." Craig got to his feet as the door opened. Naomi strode in ahead of his secretary. She had a smile on her face that widened when she saw Craig.

Craig looked over at Marilyn. "Thank you, Marilyn. That will be all." As the door closed behind the retreating secretary, Craig came from around his desk to give Naomi a hug.

She pulled out of the embrace almost immediately.

"What brings you here, Naomi?"

"I need your legal expertise, Craig. Blair was involved in a crash. It was a direct result of negligence by Detective Jim Ellison. I want you to help me get temporary guardianship of my son so I can get him away from the Cascade Police Department. I have documentation that shows that ever since Blair has hooked up with Jim Ellison and the police department he's been kidnapped, shot, beaten up and misused in several other ways. He even died once! Miraculously, he was brought back to life, but still he's been taken advantage of and I mean to rectify that. Can you help me, Craig?"

"I can't do anything against Blair's wishes. He is an adult and responsible."

"We can get around that, Craig. He's unconscious, in a light coma, according to his doctors. I just want to act in the best interests of my son."

"Can I see the documentation?"

Naomi pulled a manila envelope out of her purse and handed it over to Craig. Craig went back around his desk to sit down, indicating for Naomi to sit also. Craig opened the manila envelope, pulling out letters and newspaper clippings. After reading through most of it, Craig looked up at Naomi.

"I think we might just have a case. I'll start on the preliminary work and papers that need to be filed. This is going to take several days and no doubt, the police department will defend themselves. What about this Detective Ellison? Is he going to cause trouble?"

"He was involved in the same crash as my son. As far as I know, he's still unconscious."

"That will definitely work in our favor."

~~**~~

Over the next several days, Naomi spent most of her time at the hospital with Blair. She didn't give any indication that anything unusual was going on, except that she was able to get the hospital staff to restrict visitors to Blair's room. William was especially curious about that and the fact that he couldn't get updates about Blair's condition either. He tried talking to Naomi several times when both of them were at the hospital, but she snubbed him. He suspected something was going on, but he couldn't find out what, at first.

He did find out when he stopped by the loft to gather up the mail. He saw the envelope from the law firm addressed to Jim. Curiosity got the better of him and he opened the envelope. He couldn't believe what he was reading. Naomi was petitioning the court for temporary guardianship of Blair. The reasons cited were that the Cascade Police Department had failed in their duty of care towards Blair Jacob Sandburg and that James Joseph Ellison had also been negligent and had caused, by that negligence, severe physical harm to come to Blair over the past seven years.

William took the official papers to his lawyer to see if a countersuit could be filed in response. William's lawyer, Joseph Patterson, told him they could try, but there wasn't much to be done since Blair wasn't a relative.

"I treat him just like one of my sons, Joseph."

"But he's not one of your sons, Bill. He's Ms. Sandburg's son. And legally, she has the right to do this."

"I really wish Jim or Blair would come to and tell their side of the story. I should find out if the police department is going to defend this. I know I could ask Captain Banks if there is something they'll be able to do to defeat these charges."

"They are serious charges, Bill. And on the surface, it appears the way things are. No one can say anything differently unless there are mitigating circumstances we're unaware of. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll send someone from the law firm to the hearing to get the lowdown and keep you informed. If Jim or Blair comes to before the hearings are concluded, then they can be heard. Keep me updated on their conditions."

"I can for Jim, but Ms. Sandburg has restricted access to her son. Only she is allowed inside his room to see him and only she is allowed updates on his condition."

"Well, his condition will have to be brought out as a matter of fact during the hearing." He saw the pained look on William's face. "Look, I know it's not much, but at least you'll know."

~~**~~

The hearings took a week to complete. Craig Davidson presented the evidence of the numerous times Blair had been injured in his time with the police department. The department lawyer claimed that since Blair was involved with Major Crime, the fact was that the most dangerous criminals were involved. As Blair had waived all responsibility for the department if he were injured on the job, it was not the department's liability if that happened. But Davidson proved the police department had signed off on Blair doing a ride-along with Detective Ellison, a member of Major Crime, even though there was no guarantee that Blair could be kept safe as a result.

The police department lawyer countered that Blair could have walked away at any time during the span of time he was involved with the Cascade Police Department. He knew from the very beginning just how dangerous things were and yet he kept coming back.

William sat in the courtroom, one of the spectators to the proceedings. It wasn't going well. It appeared as if Naomi was going to get her way. Even the police department lawyer implied Blair wasn't using his head when he kept returning repeatedly to continue the ride-along. If only they could know about Jim and his heightened senses and the fact, that Blair was Jim's guide, helping him to stay on an even keel. But that knowledge couldn't become public. Both Jim and Blair had fought hard to keep Jim's heightened senses under wraps. It wasn't common knowledge, although quite a few people knew it.

William was in the courtroom when the judge announced his decision to grant Naomi Sandburg temporary guardianship of her son, Blair Jacob Sandburg. William left to return to the hospital. Jim was still unconscious and the doctors were going to do additional scans to try to determine if there was some medical reason why Jim was still unconscious. It had been determined he wasn't in a coma, so William, Steven and the visitors from the PD constantly spoke to Jim whenever they visited him. But William suspected Jim was waiting for that one voice that he'd probably never hear again.

Blair was in a coma. It had happened when they had taken him back into surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. A few of the Intensive Care nurses still updated Blair's condition to him when he asked. They had seen how caring William had been of Blair when he was first brought up to Intensive Care. William was grateful for the updates. He didn't try to talk to Naomi any more. She wanted nothing to do with her son's former friends. She was all he needed now.

~~**~~

William sat by the bed, talking to Jim, hoping he'd respond. Hoping he had heard the same thing William had heard earlier. Now that Naomi had gotten guardianship of her son, she was transferring him from Cascade. William didn't hear where she was taking Blair, but he wanted to plead with her not to do it. Jim and Blair needed each other, now more than ever. However, William knew Naomi wouldn't even listen to him.

"Jimmy now would be a really good time to come to. She's taking him away. I'll try to keep track of her, but I don't know if I can. I just have a feeling she's going to stick him in some institution and forget all about him. I'm sorry I let you down, son. If you both come out of this, there have to be some changes made. To make sure this never happens again. I know that you need your guide and I know Blair needs his sentinel. You are destined to be together."

William saw them moving Blair out of his room a couple of hours later. He stopped Naomi when they passed Jim's room.

"Can you keep us updated on Blair's condition? We really do care about him, no matter what you might think."

She only nodded her head as she followed the bed to the elevator. As soon as they were inside, William got on the phone and instructed the private investigator to monitor Naomi Sandburg. It was the least he could do for Jim and Blair.

~~**~~

It was later that evening when Jim started to come to. He complained of 'out-of-whack senses'. Everything was too much. William Ellison was called and Jim was told his father had been called. He was able to choke out the word 'Blair'.

"Sorry, sir. Blair's not here anymore."

Jim actually whimpered at that news. He tried pushing out his senses to find out where Blair was. Blair had to be here. Blair was always by his side. Unless Blair… no, Jim didn't want to contemplate that scenario. Blair had to be here. Maybe he was injured as Jim was. Jim scrunched his eyes closed against the invading light that was too bright. He needed Blair to help ground him.

~~**~~

William rushed to the hospital when he heard Jim's condition. He instructed the hospital personnel to cater to whatever wishes Jim had. William knew what was wrong with his son; his senses were out of control. Unfortunately, the only person who could expertly help Jim was on his way out of town. William had confirmation that Naomi had procured the services of an air ambulance to transport her and her son to the east coast. The exact location hadn't been determined yet, but William knew it was only a matter of time.

William walked into Jim's hospital room. All the lights were turned off except one on the far wall and the shades had been pulled down to keep out the outside light from the hallway. William was as quiet as he could, but there was still a groan from the bed.

"I said, leave me alone!" The voice was angry, but also filled with so much pain.

"It's me, Jimmy. Your dad. They called me when you woke." William whispered the words.

"Dad?" Jim sounded genuinely surprised that his father would be there. "Where's Blair?" The need was evident.

"Naomi came and took him away. He was in a coma. I haven't heard how he is. I'm not even sure where she's taking him. She came in claiming Blair couldn't manage his own affairs. With him unconscious, it wasn't hard for the judge to make the determination. She had evidence of the various times Blair was injured in his with the police department generally and while working with you particularly."

"It was his decision. He told her that…"

"I know, Jimmy. I'm tracking her to where she's taking him. When you get to feeling better, you can go fight to bring him back."

"Damn straight!" He started sounding like the Jim Ellison that William knew so well. But in the next instant, he was wincing from some outside stimuli. "I can't do this by myself, dad. I need my guide."

"How about a substitute?" William was hoping Jim took to the idea.

"Who?"

"Me. Blair's taught me a thing or two over the past several years. I know I'm not your true guide, but I want to help you."

"Okay, dad. We'll try it." Jim gave him a wary smile, as if he was not so sure this was going to work.

But with patience and a lot of starting and stopping and restarting, Jim at least had partial control a couple of hours later. William had been able to turn on a few of the lights and get Jim to find his dials to turn down his other senses to the minimum. Although Jim had fought William at first when he brought up the idea about dials. William knew it was because the idea about the dials had been all Blair's from the beginning and it hurt Jim to realize that Blair might be gone for some time. Finally, Jim accepted the notion and did as his father asked of him.

"How badly hurt is Blair?"

William heard the fear in Jim's voice and wanted to try to reassure his son that all would be okay. "He's in a coma, Jimmy. They had to relieve some pressure on his brain and that's when it happened. He also has a broken arm, a broken left leg, his left hip is broken, along with several ribs, and there was a lot of pressure on his chest from the crash, which caused lung problems. I wasn't able to see him after Naomi arrived and took charge."

"Blair's going to resent his mother for this. She's just putting distance between her and her son. I hate to see that happen, since she's the only parent he has."

"He has us, son." William nodded at Jim when he sent a questioning look in his father's direction.

"You continue to amaze me, dad."

"You going to be okay for tonight or do I need to stay to help you some more?"

"I'll be fine for tonight, dad. Thank you again. When Blair gets back to Cascade, I'll tell him he has a rival to his role as guide."

"No, no. I don't want the job, Jimmy. Blair is much better suited to it than I am. I'll see you tomorrow."

"Goodnight, dad." Jim closed his eyes, and William knew he was probably thinking of Blair as he drifted off to sleep.

~~**~~

TWO WEEKS LATER

Jim didn't want to inconvenience his father, but William Ellison insisted. Jim was transported by ambulance to William's home. As he was settled into a ground level bedroom near the back of the house, William stood by supervising. Once the attendants had Jim comfortable, they left, leaving William and Jim alone.

Jim would be bed-bound for several more weeks, a result of the broken bones he had suffered in the crash. This is how William had envisioned it, except in his vision, he had both Jim and Blair here to recuperate.

"You know, I was thinking both you and Blair would be here keeping me and Sally company while you recovered."

"By the way, have you pinpointed where Blair and Naomi are?"

"Not any further than North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia -- in that area. I have my investigators working overtime on this. I'm sorry they lost track of the air ambulance."

"Nah, it's okay, dad. I'm sure when Blair wakes up he'll be wondering what's going on as much as I am. As soon as he's well enough to assert his rights, he'll be back here." William knew Jim hoped that would be the case.

~~**~~

When Naomi walked into the facility, the nurses told her Blair was waking up. She was pleased. No doubt, her son would be confused as to what had happened, but Naomi would explain things to him.

She walked into Blair's room, pleased to see his long eyelashes fluttering open, looking in her direction.

"Hi, Sweetie! It's so good to see you awake. The doctors were worried about you. It's been over three weeks since the crash."

Blair frowned and looked around the room. "Wh-where?"

"I had to move you, Blair. You were seriously injured. They had to drill inside your brain to relieve pressure. Your hair… "

Blair tentatively raised his hand to the side of his head, feeling the bandages still there. He took assessment of the rest of his body, noting the casts and the pain all over. He looked back up at Naomi.

"Mo-m?" The tears welled up in his eyes and spilled out, rolling down his cheeks.

Naomi raced to Blair's side, sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling Blair into her arms and rocking him back and forth. "Sh-h-h, baby. It's okay. You're going to be okay. There will be a lot of rehabilitation, but the doctors are optimistic. And your hair will grow back. It's already starting."

Blair had a look of intense concentration on his face, as if trying to remember something vital. Finally, his face lit up and he looked up at his mom. "How's Ji-jim?"

Naomi hugged her son closer. She gave him a kiss on the cheek. "I'm sorry, Blair. He didn't make it… "

"NO!" The one word was ripped from Blair's throat before the tears began again, this time heavier and without end. Blair tried to pull away from Naomi, but she held him tighter, whispering even more words, trying to calm him down. She knew how much this hurt her son, but it really was for the best. The sooner he accepted this, the sooner he could start his own life.

~~**~~

Naomi left strict instructions that Blair was not to know the exact location of the rehabilitation facility. It was for his own good. The personnel agreed with her wishes. The real reason was that she didn't want him to know how far away from Cascade he was.

Ever since finding out about Jim, Blair had been in a severe depression. He didn't want to eat or even participate in the speech and physical therapy that had been set up by the facility. They let Blair wallow in his depression for a couple of days and then had a psychiatrist talk to him about what he was going through. Unbeknownst to Naomi, the psychiatrist suggested that Blair contact Jim's father in Cascade and express his condolences. Blair wasn't sure he could talk to William, but he was willing to give it a shot. The psychiatrist arranged the phone call to be made and left Blair alone in the office for privacy.

~~**~~

Blair waited for the phone to be answered. He was nervous, anxious and had no idea what he was going to tell William Ellison. Blair still didn't want to believe Jim was dead. He was so sure there had been some type of 'bond' or 'connection' he had with Jim and that if one died, the other would be immediately aware of the loss. It was one of those mystical aspects Blair loved to believe about Sentinels and Guides and was sure it applied to him and Jim. The fact that it didn't bothered Blair to some degree, although he knew what Jim would think about it.

"Yeah, he'd think it was just more of that mystical sentinel crap." Blair laughed and then the laughter dissolved into a sob. The loss was just too fresh.

"Hello, Ellison residence," said Sally, as the phone was finally answered.

"Sally… it's Blair. Is Mr. Ellison there?" Blair was barely holding it together.

"Yes! Hold on, Blair. He's in with Jim. I'll get him! Hold on!"

Blair heard the phone being put down. What did she mean he was in with Jim? Jim was… dead. Naomi had told him. She wouldn't… would she. Blair felt like he was losing his mind. He wasn't sure what was real anymore.

"Blair? Son? Are you there?" William's voice was a welcome sound in the maelstrom of the unknown.

"Mr. Ellison? Is Jim...?" Blair couldn't say the words. He couldn't say either alive or dead.

"He's indisposed right now. But if you want, I can give him the cordless phone and you can talk to him. And what's this calling me Mr. Ellison? It's William. Are you okay, Blair?"

There was a sob into the phone. William could only imagine Blair's state of mind.

"Dad, let me have the phone! Something's wrong with him!" Jim was yelling from down the hall. He'd been obviously listening in to the conversation after Sally announced it was Blair on the phone.

William ignored his son, waiting for an answer from Blair. "She told me… he died." How could she do that to me? Where did she take me?" Blair finally said.

"I'm not sure, son. Jim's very much alive. He wants to talk to you. Do you want to talk to him?"

Blair nodded his head enthusiastically, and then realized he had to talk. "Yes. Please."

William could hear the need in the voice. Much like the way Jim had sounded in the hospital several weeks ago. "Okay, son. Hold on."

William took the phone to Jim's bedroom, handing the cordless to him. He left the room, giving Jim and Blair privacy. He'd go have the phone call traced so they could track down exactly where Blair was. They hadn't been able to do that yet.

~~**~~

"Chief? Do you know where you are?"

"No. I woke up in an unfamiliar place. Mom told me you… died. Why would she do that?"

"I'm not sure, Chief. I thought you were the one who believed that we had a bond between us, that we'd know when…"

"I thought you didn't believe that?"

"Of course I believe that, Blair. We're Sentinel and Guide. You taught me that we are more than just each other, that we're joined."

Blair couldn't help the tears that fell from his eyes. "Can I come back?"

"Of course you can come back, Blair. You may have to prove you're sane."

"Of course I'm sane! She should have never interfered with us."

That was determination that Jim heard in Blair's voice. Naomi was in for a battle.

They stayed on the phone for hours, reconnecting until Blair literally fell asleep. Even then, Jim kept the connection open, listening to his best friend's breathing, wanting to be reunited with him as soon as humanly possible.

~~**~~

Naomi walked into Blair's room. She had heard about the phone call to William Ellison and the fact that Blair had found out that Jim was still alive. She was still hoping to convince Blair he was better off without Jim Ellison and the Cascade Police Department in his life. But as soon as she saw Blair, she knew how he felt.

To say Blair was pissed was an understatement. He lit into Naomi as soon as she walked into the room.

"How dare you presume to take control of my life? I'm a grown man, competent enough to take care of my own affairs! As soon as William Ellison and his lawyer get here, I'm getting the temporary guardianship revoked and I'm reclaiming my life! And I'm returning to Cascade to recuperate with my best friend and partner, Jim Ellison. If you don't like that, mother, you need never see or speak to me again."

"Blair, Sweetie… you have to understand. I was only taking your well-being and survival into account. By all the evidence, it appeared as if you foolishly put your trust and care into the hands of people who didn't have your best interests in mind. I was just trying to save you from yourself."

"Thanks, but no thanks, mom. I've been on my own since the age of sixteen. Where were you when I really needed a parent to help me? Running around the world, avoiding your responsibility. Well, don't think you can just swoop in now and assert your claim as my mother and my protector. Because to me, you're neither. You weren't a mother when I needed it and Jim is the only protector I need."

"Jim? A protector? He's the one that put you into dangerous situations! You need to be saved from him, not be around him!"

"No, mom. I'm returning to Cascade. Whether you like it or not. And I can more than adequately prove that I'm capable of taking care of myself."

Naomi knew when she was defeated. It had been so much easier when her son couldn't talk back. Now, she was going to lose him forever. So she walked away before that could happen.

~~**~~

William had called when the plane landed, telling Jim they had arrived back in Cascade. Blair was being put in the ambulance for the drive to William's house. Jim wanted to talk to Blair, but William told him the attendants had given Blair a sedative before boarding the plane so he'd relax and get some rest. He was anxious to get back to Cascade.

The hearing went just as Joseph Patterson had told William it would go. Blair proved his competency and was granted his freedom and Naomi Sandburg's claims were dismissed. Of course, she didn't show up in court, which didn't surprise William Ellison or Joseph Patterson or Blair Sandburg when William visited him after the hearing. Blair's testimony had been taken by an officer of the court and he had been examined by psychiatrists who testified he was of sound mind and able to make his own decisions.

William had arranged to bring Blair back to Cascade and his plane could accommodate the stretcher. William had seen to every need, including a doctor and a nurse to attend to Blair on the plane. William hadn't realized how much he had missed the young man until he saw him in the rehabilitation facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. And the smile Blair gave him when he walked in was just about his undoing.

Blair asked immediately if Jim had come and how he was doing. He was talking almost non-stop and then looked expectantly at William.

"Jim was unable to come. He has casts on both legs and one of his arms. I have him at my place to recuperate. And I was thinking you can stay there too."

"Okay, I can do that. I still can't believe I thought Jim was…" Blair stopped, closed his eyes and slowly opened them.

"It'll be okay, Blair. When we get back to Cascade, we'll fix things so this doesn't happen again."

"Good. I agree with you." Blair drifted off, happy to be going home.

~~**~~

William had arranged it that Jim and Blair would be in the same room. Jim didn't realize it until the bed was delivered and set up in the same room. He smiled. It would be good to see Blair after such a long time. It was the longest they had been separated in the seven plus years they had been partners. And although William was a good guide, he wasn't Blair.

Jim noted Blair was asleep when he arrived at the house. He kept his eyes on Blair the entire time they situated him in the bed. When the attendants left, Jim focused his hearing and sight on Blair, examining his guide as much as he could. He reached out his free hand to touch Blair on the arm, reveling in how much better he felt just being in close proximity with his guide. He noticed the bandages around Blair's head and the absence of hair there. He could see wisps of hair starting to poke out under the bandages. It would be interesting to see how fast it grew out.

William walked into the room and Jim quickly removed his hand from Blair's arm.

"It's okay, son. Remember, I know how close the two of you are. I was thinking when we went to get Blair back that you two need to do something to assure this never happens again."

"Actually, I was thinking the same thing, dad. Maybe Blair and I can arrange to have Medical Power of Attorney papers drawn up for each of us naming the other as our agent to act on our behalf and then naming someone outside, just in case both of us are incapacitated."

"Great minds think alike, son. I was thinking the same thing. Of course, you should discuss this with Blair when he's awake."

"I plan on it."

~~**~~

William smiled as he stood outside the door leading to the downstairs bedroom. He didn't know who was talking more -- Jim or Blair. They both were making up for lost time, reaffirming their connection and their friendship. Blair was explaining about his feelings when he thought Jim had died and the fact that he was so far away. Jim, on the other hand, was describing what a wonderful job his dad had done as substitute guide in Blair's absence. William beamed at hearing the praise from his oldest son.

He walked into the room, bringing lunch for all three of them. William had taken to spending as much time as he could with the two of them. In a couple of weeks, both of them would have their casts removed, would start physical rehabilitation and would soon move back to the loft. William enjoyed the company and it was an added bonus when Steven would stop by to visit. All three of his sons together. He looked at how Jim and Steven teased Blair mercilessly about having even less hair than Jim. Blair, however, didn't mind the teasing and gave as good as he got.

It was at times like this that William felt just a tiny bit sorry for Naomi, for missing out on what could have been her greatest treasure, her son. According to Blair, the bridges to mend what had happened had been burned and were gone forever. William hoped maybe that wasn't so, that maybe there could be reconciliation sometime in the future. After all, miracles happened all the time. He was living proof of that, he thought as he watched Jim playfully swat Blair on the back of his head. For him, life was good.

END