Silence Shattered

By Debbie Tripp

EMAIL: Debbie

Summary: When Blair suffers physical and mental abuse, Jim takes him away to heal.

Warnings: Mention of torture, rape, mental and physical anguish and angst.  But there is nothing graphic in the story.

Author's Notes: Written in response to a challenge to have the boys return to the monastery in Vow of Silence.  Thank you to Lyn for the beta job.

 

Jim Ellison led the rescue team to the front of the supposed abandoned building. He had Brown lead three officers to cover the back, just in case. Jim had already used his Sentinel abilities to determine there were only two people inside the building -- Blair Sandburg and whoever the sick bastard was that had grabbed Blair as the latest victim. Both were in the front of the building. Jim would have first crack at getting the sick murderer that had already killed four others. Hearing Blair's heartbeat, Jim at least knew he wasn't too late to rescue his partner.

Jim had the two officers with him crash down the front door, which surprised the bad guy, who was holding a knife over his head, ready to plunge downward towards Blair.

"Cascade Police! Drop the knife!" Jim leveled his gun at the man, who he recognized as a local doctor.

"I can't leave any witnesses!" The knife started its downward plunge.

Jim didn't hesitate. He emptied the clip into the man, watching as he jerked from the impact of the bullets. Jim nodded in satisfaction as the man slumped to the floor beside the cot where Blair was. Jim got on his radio, indicating that it was safe for the paramedics to enter to take care of his partner. Jim walked over to the cot, kicking the knife away, giving a cursory look at the dead man and then turned to face Blair. He gasped at Blair's condition. Henri came over to stand at Jim's side.

"He's been really worked over." Henri controlled the anger he felt as he looked at the dead man lying on the floor. "That's Dr. Mitchell. He's the one…?"

"Yeah. I didn't remember his name. I know I've seen him at the hospital before." Jim reached down and moved several strands of Blair's hair back away from his face. He noticed cuts and bruises all over. The smell of blood assaulted Jim's nose and he backed away, keeping Blair in sight. Soon, the paramedics came in, checking Dr. Mitchell first. The paramedics looked over at Jim, questioning what was going on at the scene.

"He left me no choice. I called you in to take care of his latest victim." Jim looked towards Blair.

The paramedics shifted their focus to Blair. As they were examining him, Jim noticed the blood on Blair's legs and around his midsection. Jim knew the conditions of the other victims of Dr. Mitchell. He knew what Blair most probably had gone through. Jim was hoping Blair would be able to handle the ramifications of what he had to endure at the hands of his tormentor. At least, Blair wouldn't have to confront him. Jim had eliminated that humiliation for his friend.

All of a sudden, there was movement from the cot. Jim turned to face Blair. Blair was pushing at the paramedics, trying to pull away from their ministrations. The paramedics were talking to Blair, but it appeared as if he was lost in his own mind. He pushed away yet again, this time gaining some distance between him and the paramedics. One of the paramedics tried reaching for Blair. Blair backed up, the fear evident in his eyes. Jim noticed the look and went to try to calm Blair down.

"Hey, buddy. They are just trying to help you. You need to let them take care of you." Jim kept his voice level and calm and kept watching Blair. He was able to get close to Blair and to get him to sit back down to allow the paramedics to continue to get him ready for transport.

"Maybe you should go in the ambulance with us, Detective."

Jim nodded his head; he had already made the same decision, feeling Blair needed someone familiar beside him on the ride to the hospital. The paramedics got Blair strapped down on the gurney while Jim kept Blair distracted. Jim was a little concerned that Blair was totally silent, but figured it was a result of the trauma he'd suffered at the hands of *Dr.* Mitchell. Jim kept in Blair's line of sight and he called Henri over to talk.

"H, I'm going to go in the ambulance with Blair. He seems very agitated with strangers now. I'm hoping it's just temporary and a result of the trauma he's endured. I need you to process the scene, if you could?"

"Sure, Jim. No problem. Do you think Hairboy will be okay?"

"I'm sure it will take some time. I'm not sure about his physical injuries, but it's probably a good bet that he'll need to talk to someone."

"I'll let the Captain know where you've gone." Henri looked over at Blair lying on the gurney, as the paramedics got ready to transport him.

"Thanks, H. I owe you." Jim turned to follow the gurney out of the abandoned building that now was surrounded by police officers, crime scene investigators and a few curious on-lookers. Luckily, Jim didn't spot any reporters or television cameras as they made their way to the ambulance.

Blair had settled down on the gurney, drifting in and out of consciousness. The paramedics loaded the gurney into the back of the ambulance. Jim jumped up into the back and took root on Blair's left side, in order to be out of the way of the ministrations still performed by the paramedic. Jim looked at the nametag -- the guy's name was Steve.

"I'm Jim Ellison, detective with Major Crime. It's nice to meet you, Steve." Jim extended his hand towards the man.

Steve shook Jim's hand. "Steve Rosen. How well do you know this man?"

Blair is actually my partner. He's the fifth victim of Dr. Mitchell. The other four didn't survive."

"He's a cop?" Steve sounded surprised.

"Not really. He's a consultant with the police department. He's also a professor at the university. How bad were the cuts?"

"He'll probably need surgery and it appears that there was penetration. There's bleeding in that area."

Jim clenched his jaw, trying to control his anger. He knew what to expect, but still it didn't make it any easier. He wished Mitchell wasn't dead because he would kill him all over again. Jim was grateful Blair remained unconscious and knew Mitchell had probably drugged him at some point. He was hoping that accounted for part of the defiance he saw in Blair earlier. That and the fact there were more people touching Blair, adding to his sense of unease.

+++++

Jim got permission to stay in the examination room after explaining about Blair's state of distress at the scene. Jim was grateful Blair remained unconscious through the examination. There were pictures taken of the abuse and the doctor and nurses documented every atrocity inflicted upon Blair's person. There were broken bones, cuts, burns, rape and neglect. Jim stood there stoically, knowing what would be found, but still finding it hard to see it done to his best friend.

Finally, Jim had to leave the examination room, unable to endure any more. He was amazed he didn't throw up over the inhumane treatment of his partner. He saw Simon Banks walking into the E.R.

Simon spotted Jim standing too still outside of an examination room. He feared the worse and moved quickly to Jim's side. Jim turned to face him.

"I thought maybe you had…" Simon didn't voice the concern.

"No, I just needed to get out of there for a while. I knew everything that they were going to find. That bastard Mitchell was about ready to kill Blair when we burst in. I had to kill him, sir."

"I don't doubt that, Jim. But you know there will be an investigation."

"I know. It was either he was going to die or Blair was going to die. I decided it wasn't going to be Blair."

"Brown told me there was a problem at the scene?"

"Blair got a little agitated. He seemed under the influence of something. He was fighting the paramedics. Mitchell had been abusing him for almost a week, so it's no wonder Blair balked at someone else touching him. He let me get close and help calm him down. He's going to need a lot of recovery time from this. Moreover, the fact that he's the sole survivor of this killer, it's really going to be hard for him to endure. He saw what that monster did to his other victims."

"Just remind him that he has a full support group at the police department if he needs to lean on us."

"Thanks, Simon. I will."

+++++

It was several hours later when they placed Blair in a private room. Jim requested the private room, knowing Blair might be somewhat unstable when he came to. Jim also got permission to stay in Blair's room, promising to notify the staff when the patient awoke.

Blair slept through most of the night, a result of the surgery he'd endured and the drugs Mitchell had pumped into him. Jim dozed by the bed, alert to any change in Blair's condition. Jim's dreams had him doing to Mitchell what he had done to his victims. Repeatedly. Jim regretted again that Mitchell was already dead.

Henri stopped by the hospital the next morning, just to see how Sandburg was. Jim explained Blair was still asleep, but Jim would pass on well wishes from the gang at Major Crime. Jim was heartened to see the support Blair garnered.

+++++

Blair opened his eyes mid-morning. Jim smiled at Blair, not surprised when Blair didn't return the smile. Jim went to pat Blair on the arm, mindful of the cast on his arm, but Blair scooted back in the bed, avoiding the touch.

"It's okay, buddy. I won't touch you. I understand perfectly. I have to let the nursing staff know you're awake. I'll be right back."

Jim went to the door, his back to Blair. He walked out of the room and to the nurse's station a few feet away. He explained Blair was awake. Jim walked back to Blair's room, having been gone only a few minutes. Within that short amount of time, Blair had slipped into the bathroom. Jim turned his head towards the bathroom. He heard Blair inside the bathroom. He turned the handle discovering Blair locked the door. Jim closed his eyes, wondering what else could go wrong.

"Blair? You can't stay in there. You're still on the mend. C'mon, Chief, they'll lock you up in the crazy ward if you keep acting like this."

Jim heard the lock unlock and he quickly opened the door, seeing Blair standing on one leg on the far side of the room. He had his cast covered left ankle raised and he was leaning against the wall.

"I'll stay with you, buddy. But the nurse has to come in to check you out. It won't be too bad. I'll stay with you."

Jim was able to coax Blair out of the bathroom and get him back into bed, knowing he had to be hurting. Jim propped up the left ankle with a pillow. Jim saw the look of pain pass across Blair's face as he lay back down in the bed.

"I'll make sure they have a pain shot."

The nurse walked in, smiling at both Jim and Blair. Jim took note of her name, Carol. "He appears to be in pain and he's a little skittish around people."

"I read his chart and I know what he went through. We'll take good care of him."

Jim was impressed with Carol as she spoke softly to Blair, explaining every little thing she was doing. Jim sat right by Blair's side, ready to give help if needed. Blair seemed to trust Jim unwaveringly. Blair tensed up when Carol went to give him the pain shot, but Jim soothed it all over and distracted Blair enough for Carol to accomplish the deed.

"I'll notify the doctor that Mr. Sandburg is awake. We're going to have to contact one of the psychiatric staff."

"I was afraid of that." Jim looked over at Blair. "It is a little baffling why he would remain silent. I could understand it initially, but now, he should be more vocal. Blair is never quiet. At least, never this quiet."

+++++

ONE WEEK LATER

Blair's attending doctor spoke to Jim later when Blair was asleep. He explained about the injuries and the chances of a full recovery. Physically, the wounds and broken bones and cruelty inflicted upon Blair's body would heal. The doctor was more concerned with the emotional and mental wounds Blair would have to endure. The fact that he was still silent after a week in the hospital had the doctor worried. Blair seemed detached and indifferent to the psychiatrists who tried to get through to him. He didn't even acknowledge Jim most of the time. Jim was as concerned as the doctor was.

Both of them realized the depth of trauma Blair had suffered at the hands of his tormentor. Jim kept reiterating that Blair had never completely shut down so fully in the past. Jim would spend hours on end at the hospital talking to Blair, trying to elicit some type of response from the young man. Blair, for his part, was in his own little world, inhabiting it solo. The doctor did notice Jim seemed to have as much luck getting through to Blair as anyone.

"I'm going to release Blair from the hospital. He no longer needs to stay here for his physical ailments." The doctor explained the facts to Jim.

"What about his mental health, doctor?" Jim wasn't sure what to do with his friend who didn't appear to be aware of his surroundings.

"You are his best friend, Detective Ellison. Take him somewhere where there are no pressures, no expectations. I think what Blair needs is just time to process. He can't do it on his own, which is why I am suggesting the two of you go off somewhere. Somewhere Blair can feel safe and can feel he can do what is necessary to return to a productive life."

"What if it's not possible for him to return to a productive life?" Jim was really starting to worry now. He didn't want to commit Blair to some asylum for unstable people.

"Just go with my suggestion, detective. Give Blair all the encouragement you can and first and foremost, make sure you are there when he needs you."

Jim thought about the doctor's words as he walked back to Blair's room to take his friend home. He could do this. And he knew the perfect spot.

+++++

Jim was somewhat unnerved by the silent figure sitting beside him in the truck. He drove the familiar road, realizing it had been four years since they had graced the grounds of St. Sebastian's. Of course, back then it hadn't been the 'simple' and 'spartan' place Blair had painted it. There had been killings and mob bosses and chaos. However, when Jim and Blair had left, Brother Jeremy had invited them back for a visit.

Jim knew that Blair kept in communication via letters with most of the brothers at the monastery. Especially, Blair kept in contact with Brother Marcus. Jim knew Blair had been going to the monastery at various times over the years, but he didn't know the full story of why. It was hard to get Blair to open up and talk about his past, especially any disappointments in his past. Jim suspected Blair had gone to St. Sebastian's because of some disappointment. Just the way Blair talked about the place and the monks living there made it seem like a safe haven away from the rigors of real life.

Just what Blair needed right now. Jim had contacted Brother Jeremy, explaining about Blair's trauma and his break from reality. He asked if they could come to St. Sebastian's, to give Blair a safe haven. Brother Jeremy had agreed to Jim's request immediately, telling Jim the bus would meet them. Jim thanked Brother Jeremy and arranged the time off from the station. Simon was supportive of Jim's actions and wished them well.

Jim parked his truck and turned to face Blair. "Now, we wait for the bus. I wonder who drives it now that Brother Christopher is no longer with them."

Blair looked over at Jim, but didn't say anything. However, he had started paying more attention and Jim believed Blair was starting to assimilate the torture he endured into his consciousness. Jim knew it might still be a long time until Blair was 'normal', if ever.

Jim got out of his truck and urged Blair out too when he heard the bus rumbling down the country road. Jim grabbed both duffel bags and placed his hand on Blair's arm, pleased Blair didn't jerk away.

The bus stopped by where they were standing and the door opened. Jim smiled to see Brother Theodore behind the wheel of the bus.

"Brother Theodore! It's good to see you." Jim urged Blair forward to ascend the steps into the bus.

"Brother Jim. It is good to see you also. Although, Brother Jeremy tells me the situation is not ideal."

Brother Theodore looked as Blair kept his head down and slipped into a seat about three rows back from the door. Jim slipped into the seat beside Blair and leaned towards Blair.

"You're not going to say anything to Brother Theodore, Chief?" There was silence. Jim turned his attention to Brother Theodore. "I guess maybe I was hoping for a miracle."

Brother Theodore chuckled. "It's not that simple, Brother Jim. But I'm sure Brother Blair's time spent here will do wonders for his spirit and his soul."

"Amen," whispered Jim as Brother Theodore drove them towards St. Sebastian's.

+++++

Blair kept his head down as they got off the bus in front of the monastery. Brothers Jeremy, Marcus, Joseph, Frederick and Michael were standing there to greet their visitors. Jim extended greetings to all the monks, but Blair didn't even look up. Brother Michael showed them to their cell.

"Brother Jeremy told me to tell you that we won't lock you inside your cell this time during your visit."

"Thank you, Brother Michael. We'll be there at dinner."

Jim turned to see Blair lying on his bed, his eyes closed. Jim walked over and sat on the edge of Blair's bed.

"I know you're not asleep, Chief. I figured this is just what the doctor ordered. Peace, tranquility, familiarity and a safe haven. I know you've come here in the past when things weren't ideal. I don't expect you to explain it to me, but I hope you can feel that again. I only want to help you, Blair."

Blair turned on his side to face Jim and opened his eyes. He looked at Jim. Jim was waiting for Blair to say something. It appeared as if Blair was going to say something. A frown crossed his face and he turned away from Jim.

Jim reached out, resting his hand on Blair's shoulder. "Get some rest, Chief. We'll get through this somehow."

+++++

Blair walked with Jim to the dining room when the bell rang. Inside his own mind, Blair knew Jim was right. This was the right place. Here, he didn't have to live up to anyone's expectations of the right way to act or the right thing to do. He knew eventually that he would have to confront what happened to him and the reality of the situation. He was grateful that no one demanded it of him at this time.

As they entered the dining room, Blair looked around the table at the monks assembled there. He considered most of them friends and confidants to whom he had told his most private secrets. What he had gone through at the hands of Richard Mitchell was common knowledge to Jim and by association, he assumed that at least some of the monks had knowledge of what happened to him.

Blair slipped onto a chair at the far end of the table, avoiding eye contact with most everyone else. Jim sat down beside Blair, sneaking looks at Blair every few minutes to make sure the younger man was eating something.

There had been a time in the hospital when Blair hadn't even eaten any food, refusing to touch anything brought to him. The doctor had threatened to put in an IV to ensure Blair got the needed nutrients. It was only Jim's intervention and cajoling Blair that prevented the doctor from making good on his threat. With Blair eating, it got him out of the hospital even quicker.

Blair noticed Jim's looks in his direction and knew what the older man was doing. Making sure Blair ate, had sustenance to keep him going. Blair didn't want to die. He wanted to tell Jim that, but he still remembered the torture Mitchell had put him through when he'd yell, talk back and complain. Blair didn't believe Jim would hurt him, but the whole existence while held was the foremost memory he had.

Eventually, Blair knew he would talk again. It was, as he had told Brother Marcus, not possible for him to do a vow of silence. He just had to do things in his own time, no matter how long it took. This was the ideal place to bide his time and to move forward when he felt comfortable to do so.

+++++

As Jim and Blair were leaving the dining room, Brother Marcus came up to them. He spoke to Blair.

"I would like it if you would consider helping me in the glass workshop, Blair. You know what they say about idle hands…" Brother Marcus smiled at Blair, hoping to coax a smile out of the young man.

Blair only nodded his head, agreeing to help in the workshop. A little manual labor never hurt anyone.

"Good, good. I was hoping your physical wounds wouldn't restrict you too much. I promise not to push you too hard." Marcus looked at Jim with the last line.

"I agree that it is a good idea getting Blair involved in something to occupy his mind as well as his body." Jim was happy Brother Marcus had approached them.

"I'll see you after breakfast tomorrow, Blair." Brother Marcus started to reach out to touch Blair, but came up just short, unsure of how the young man would receive the gesture. He then turned away and left Jim and Blair alone.

+++++

After breakfast the next morning, Blair walked to the glass workshop. Brother Marcus showed Blair what he wanted him to do and Blair started to do the work. He focused all his energies on accomplishing the task. He was polishing the wood and the stained glass. Blair didn't stop until the bell rang for lunch. Brother Marcus waited for Blair and they walked side by side towards the monastery.

Jim was pleased to see Brother Marcus take Blair under his wing. Jim knew the chances of Blair opening up to him were remote at best. The detective was involved with the other victims and the on-going case. As much as the sentinel wanted his guide to open up to him, Jim knew Blair would probably make it sound like a report and not even deal with the emotions he was experiencing.

As they walked into the dining room, Jim noticed Blair didn't look quite as troubled as he had. On the other hand, maybe it was just an illusion. Blair's step seemed lighter and he glanced around the table as he sat down. A definite step in the right direction. Jim smiled to himself, hoping it was only a matter of time until the breakthrough came. Jim vowed to be supportive of Blair as he experienced each phase of his recovery.

+++++

Jim's cell phone rang the fifth day after they had arrived at St. Sebastian's. Brother Jeremy had allowed Jim to keep his cell phone this trip to the monastery. Jim was working at weeding the garden when it rang. He answered it after the second ring.

"Ellison." Jim was curious as to who would be calling him.

"Jim, it's Simon. How are things going there?"

"There hasn't been any change yet. Is this bad news?"

"Well…IA wants to talk to you about the Mitchell shooting. There was enough of a concern raised by the public to the District Attorney, who transferred the concern to IA. I gave them copies of all the reports and the circumstances of the shooting, along with the evidence and reports of the other four victims. I also included the reports from the doctor at Cascade General. However, IA still wants a formal hearing. I put them off as long as I could. Can you come back to Cascade?"

"When is the hearing?" Jim wasn't pleased at all.

"Tomorrow afternoon at 2:30. Can you make it?"

"Yeah. Brother Marcus is keeping Blair busy in the stained glass workshop. I don't want to have to stay away very long though."

"So, I can tell IA you'll be in tomorrow afternoon?"

"I'll be there, Simon. Thanks for trying to get me out of it."

Jim closed the cell phone after ending the call. He looked at his watch; it was almost time for lunch. He'd explain things to Blair and then get Brother Theodore take him to his truck. Jim put away his gardening tools and then headed towards the glass workshop. He stood in the doorway, getting Brother Marcus' attention. Jim looked over at Blair, bent over a table, laboriously working away.

Jim walked over to stand by the table and then sat down beside Blair. Blair glanced over at Jim.

"I've got to talk to you, Chief. Simon called me a short time ago. I need to go back to Cascade."

Jim saw the worried look Blair gave him.

"Don't worry, buddy. I'll be back as soon as I can. IA needs to talk to me. I'll go clear things up and I should be back here by the day after tomorrow, hopefully by the afternoon. I want you to know I'm not going to abandon you."

Blair had resumed his work on cleaning the stained glass. Jim stayed by Blair, watching him as he continued.

"Simon tried to deflect the attention on this, but he wasn't successful. The public wanted the investigation and the DA pressured IA into coming after me. But I don't want you to worry about that at all. You'll be safe with the brothers here. I know Brother Marcus will keep you busy."

Blair looked over at Jim. Jim wondered what the young man was thinking. At that time, the bell rang; signaling lunch and Jim waited for Blair and walked with him to the main building.

"Feel free to talk to anyone here about whatever you need to, Chief. I know sometimes that it is easier to talk to someone who is not as close. Whenever you feel like you can talk to me, I'll be available to you. I'm taking off after lunch. I hope that Brother Theodore will be able to take me to my truck. You know how strange all of this is, Blair? I'm the one doing all the talking and you with the silent treatment."

They reached the dining room and Jim was able to arrange with Brother Theodore to take him to his truck. He explained to the monks that he had to return to Cascade for a short time, but that he would be back as soon as possible.

"I'll make sure Blair stays out of trouble," announced Brother Marcus after Jim's announcement.

Jim didn't miss the slight smirk that passed over Blair's face and the look he gave Brother Marcus.

"I'd appreciate any help along those lines, Brother Marcus." Jim knew things would be fine while he was gone.

+++++

After lunch, Blair followed Jim and Brother Theodore out to the bus. Before getting on the bus, Jim turned to Blair.

"The day after tomorrow, Chief. I'll see you then."

Blair stood watching as Jim left St. Sebastian's. As soon as the bus was out of sight, Blair returned to the glass workshop. He went back doing what he did earlier. He really was pleased Jim picked this place.

Blair moved the stained glass windows over to the right side of the room. As he was going back to his work area, Blair caught Brother Marcus watching him. Blair was thinking how easy it would be to confess everything to one of the monks.

Blair went back to work without uttering a word. Brother Marcus showed him how to do restoration, explaining every step in detail, doing all the talking between the two. Blair listened, fascinated by how much Brother Marcus knew. Just by his tone, Blair realized Marcus had found his niche. His previous life had been colorful and a little questionable, but now he devoted his life to this monastery and service to others.

+++++

Jim arrived back in Cascade by early evening. He went immediately to the loft, getting inside the apartment. He found the mail stacked up on the kitchen table, compliments of Simon. He had agreed to stop by and keep an eye on the place. Jim walked over to the phone and called Simon at home.

"Yeah, Simon. I just arrived back in town. No, I'm sure Blair will be safe. He has a history with the monks and the monastery. I am hopeful he will open up to one of them. No, it doesn't really bother me. Whoever he can talk to, to help him cope, I'm all for. I've already told him repeatedly that I'll be there when he needs me. I'll be in tomorrow. I already promised Blair I'd be back the day after tomorrow. One way or another, I'm going back, whether this thing with IA is finished or not. Okay, Simon. I'll stop in before heading to IA. Yeah. Bye."

Jim hung up the phone and started going through the mail, dividing it up between his and Blair's. Most of the mail was for Blair. Jim didn't spot anything urgent that couldn't wait until Blair returned to Cascade. Jim was confident Blair would return too. He wouldn't just abandon his life. Jim was sure about that.

+++++

Blair walked around the grounds after the evening meal. Jeremy was watching as Blair meandered around. Marcus joined Jeremy.

"He's a troubled young man, Jeremy."

"We've been able to help him in the past." Jeremy's gaze followed Blair, as he walked, no rhythm or reason in his steps. "I have to agree with Detective Ellison -- it is unnatural for Blair to be silent. He's got to know that talking with us, or anyone, would be beneficial."

"I've seen signs of hope since he's been here. I keep hoping he will talk to me. He talked with me in the past. He's a natural in the workshop. He pays attention to the details. I suppose it is a form of therapy for him."

"You know others have claimed St. Sebastian's works miracles. Maybe Brother Blair will be a miracle." Brother Jeremy turned and walked away.

Brother Marcus went out to where Blair was sitting by the lake, staring straight ahead. Marcus sat down beside Blair.

"You know, we're thinking about stocking the lake with fish. It would give us another source of food. Brother Frederick is an accomplished fisher. He learned when he was a young boy."

"Jim and I go fishing." The words were barely above a whisper, but they were as significant as if they were shouted from the heavens. "He taught me to fly fish." Blair turned his head to face Brother Marcus.

"Brother Jim seems like a special friend."

"He is. The first time we came here together, it was for Jim's benefit. His job as a detective is dangerous and highly stressful. I knew the peace and tranquility would soothe his nerves and help him to relax." Blair paused, letting a slight smile grace his lips as he remembered. "I've appointed myself Jim's protector and as such, I need to look after his mental, physical and even spiritual health. Having been here before, I knew it was the ideal location."

Brother Marcus chose his words carefully. "You need to look after your own mental, physical and spiritual health, Blair. I seem to remember the first time you came here as a 16 year old. I'm sure you remember it also."

Blair nodded his head. "Yeah, it was after those upper classmen taught me where my place was. I had helped Brother Christopher with the toy drive. He was the one that suggested spending time here. Everyone treated me as an equal, even though I wasn't much more than a kid. You made me feel important, which is why I continued to return here."

"It's late, Blair. It's time for me to get some sleep. This older body needs more rest than your younger one."

"I'll walk back with you, Brother Marcus."

Blair got to his feet and reached out his hand to help Marcus to his feet. He shook off the help and got to his feet on his own. They walked side-by-side back to the monastery. As they reached the door to go inside, Brother Marcus stopped Blair.

"I knew eventually you'd start talking again." Brother Marcus patted Blair on the back.

+++++

Blair walked to his cell, sitting down on the bed. He sat there for some time, weighing the options of telling Brother Marcus about his ordeal. Of all the monks, Marcus and the late Christopher were the most accessible for Blair to discuss matters and concerns.

Blair finally got ready for bed and lay down. As he closed his eyes, he thought about Jim back in Cascade. Blair appreciated what Jim did to save him. "My Blessed Protector and so much more," whispered Blair as he drifted off to sleep.

+++++

Three IA investigators questioned Jim for close to three hours. Amazingly, Jim was able to keep his temper and his cool, mainly because he kept thinking about Blair and how he needed Jim to be there for him. So Jim found himself smiling, clamping his mouth closed and using Blair's meditation exercises to relax.

When he was finished, Jim got to his feet and left the interrogation room. He made his way back to Major Crime, needing to rant about the senselessness of the whole investigation. The IA investigators assured Jim there would be no repercussions from the shooting of Dr. Richard Mitchell and his record would remain clear on the matter.

Jim knocked on Simon's door before walking inside and sitting down in one of the chairs in front of Simon's desk. Simon just smiled at him.

"By all means, detective, make yourself at home."

"That was a total waste of time, Simon. I could have stayed at St. Sebastian's, where Blair needs me. They told me I would be cleared of the matter and there would be no repercussions. I could have phoned it in. They could have assured the DA they talked to me and investigated the matter thoroughly. Damn!"

Jim slumped down in the chair, looking at the floor.

"Well then, for all intents and purposes, it's over with, right?" At Jim's nod, Simon continued. "So, how long are you thinking about staying at St. Sebastian's?" When Jim whipped his head up, staring at Simon, the captain put up his hand. "Don't go off on me, Jim. I just want a determination, even if it's a ballpark period. You have plenty of vacation saved up."

"I'm not sure. A lot depends upon Blair. I told him I would be with him through this. It is summer break and I know he's not teaching any classes this time around, so he may want to stay at the monastery for a while. I've seen signs of him coming around, but it is hard to predict how long it will take. Recovery time for rape and torture victims varies with each individual."

"Take as much time as you and Blair need, Jim. Just give me a heads up when you are coming back. And if you or Blair need anything, and I mean ANYTHING, just let me know. Do I make myself clear, Jim?"

"Crystal clear, sir. And thank you, from both Blair and I. I'm sure once he feels up to it, Blair will thank you himself."

"Go enjoy the rest of your evening before you have to get back to the monastery." Simon shooed Jim out of his office.

Jim stood up from the chair and left Simon's office. He left the police department, returning to the loft. He decided to pack a couple extra bags for him and Blair, since he wasn't sure how long they were planning on staying. After he had their things packed, he made himself a couple of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to eat. He resisted the urge to call the monastery and ask Brother Jeremy how Blair was doing. He was sure someone there would contact him if something drastic happened with Blair.

After eating, Jim went into the living room, hoping to relax and calm down from his harrowing experience with IA. He sat down on the couch, intending to use Blair's meditation techniques to the fullest. He closed his eyes, evened out his breathing and was able to visualize Blair in his mind. Blair, before the abduction, attack and torture. Blair, whole and intact. Blair smiling, carefree and content. The visualization worked and Jim was able to relax.

+++++

Blair sat cross-legged on the bench in the stained glass workshop, staring at the floor, finding the bits of dust extremely fascinating. He didn't dare look over at Brother Marcus. He had no desire to see the disapproving gaze aimed his way.

Blair had just bared his soul to the monk. He had requested they spend some time alone in order for Blair to talk. Marcus suggested the workshop, guaranteeing to Blair that they would have privacy. Blair agreed to the location and the two of them came out to the building after dinner.

It had been slow going, with several stops and starts, but eventually Blair was able to talk about his abduction, his torture and his feelings about it all. Blair appreciated the fact that Brother Marcus didn't interrupt him or add commentary on what was said. Blair shed tears during the telling of his ordeal and his trauma. He reached up and wiped away more tears as they seemed to keep falling.

Brother Marcus was outraged that a person could treat another person with such disregard. Added to the fact that the gentle soul sitting before him endured such torture, pain and degradation, made it all the more distasteful. It took all of Brother Marcus' control not to explode in disbelief. However, that was not what Blair needed right now. Blair needed him to remain calm and not add more stress to the situation.

"I am sorry you went through all of that, Blair. I wish there was a way to take the memories and pain away." Marcus noticed Blair still stared at the floor. "Can you look at me, Blair?"

"Don't want to see condemnation…" A sob tore out of Blair.

"Oh…Blair, no. I would never condemn you. It was not your doing. You are not to blame. That person took advantage of you, did unspeakable and atrocious things to you. Please, Blair, look at me."

Blair slowly lifted his head, moving his hair out of his face, looking at Brother Marcus. There was no condemnation there, only concern and acceptance.

"I didn't think I'd be able to tell anyone about this. I didn't think I would ever be able to talk about it. I'm not sure I can tell Jim…"

"I'm sure Jim knows what happened and he doesn't think any less of you than he did before. It would probably be helpful if you and Jim talked about everything, including your feelings and concerns. I'm sure a lot of that is probably mutual."

"I don't know why I waited so long to say anything." Blair looked past Brother Marcus to the far wall.

"Each person deals with traumatic events in various ways. You internalized yours, which I think surprised everyone, especially Jim. He thought it highly unusual that you would go completely mute."

"Yeah, I suspected it threw him for a loop. I feel I may be able to return to Cascade soon." Blair looked back over at Marcus.

"Don't feel you have to rush into things, Blair. You know you can stay as long as you need or want to."

"Thank you for the kind invitation, Brother Marcus. Jim, however, has a job he cannot ignore. He tends to worry when we are parted for very long."

"Let's wait and see what he has to say when he returns tomorrow."

Blair smiled at Marcus. "Thank you for everything, Brother Marcus."

+++++

Blair arranged to go with Brother Theodore to pick Jim up. They actually arrived before Jim did. Blair got off the bus and was pacing around, concerned as to why Jim was not there yet. Finally, Brother Theodore got off the bus and stopped Blair in his tracks.

"He'll be here when he gets here, Brother Blair." Theodore was trying to be the voice of reason.

"Great, I had to get the practical one of the group." Blair let a chuckle escape.

Both men turned when they heard a noise further down the road. Blair immediately recognized Jim's truck and a smile crossed his face. If Jim ever found out he was worried, he'd never hear the end of it.

Blair turned to Brother Theodore. "Not a word about me pacing around." It was said whisper soft, just in case Jim was listening. However, as the truck approached, Blair heard one of Jim's CDs in the player.

Blair saw Jim's smile as he parked his truck and got out. Blair walked over to the truck and joined Jim at the back, where he had placed the bags.

"You want to carry one of these, Chief?" Blair took one of the bags from Jim.

"What's in here?" Blair started to walk off.

"Clothes…Blair! You talked!" Jim turned Blair around to face him.

"Yeah, I've been talking since I was about a year old. I was gifted as a baby."

Jim pulled Blair into a hug, mindful of the cast, and whispered in his ear. "I hope this means you're doing better?"

Blair pulled out of Jim's embrace. "We have an audience, Jim. But, yes, I am doing better. You were right, as usual."

+++++

Jim accompanied Blair on his after dinner stroll around the grounds of the monastery. Blair explained how he had told Brother Marcus everything and the unexpected response he got from the monk.

"It doesn't surprise me, Chief. You were not to blame for what happened. Mitchell chose you and inflicted the trauma on you. I wanted to tell you how glad I was that I had killed Mitchell and the fact that I wasn't going to let him live from the time I busted into that building and found him bent over you. I didn't say anything because I knew you were having your own issues dealing with what happened."

"I understand the sentiment, Jim. By the way, how did it go with IA?"

"They kept me in an interrogation room for three hours. They told me there isn't going to be any repercussions because of the shooting. They questioned me to appease the DA, who was answering public concerns. So, I'm free and clear."

"Oh." Blair sounded less than thrilled.

"Blair, is there something wrong?" Jim stopped Blair, turning him to face him.

"No, I mean, I guess that means you have to get back to work?" Blair's voice was soft, dreading the answer to his question.

"Actually, Simon gave me as much time as I need. I have the vacation saved up and I figured since you aren't teaching summer classes, we can stay as long as you want to stay. I don't want to rush you into anything you're not ready for yet."

The smile came across Blair's face. Jim recognized it as a genuine Blair Sandburg smile.

"That's awesome, Jim! I know I have to go back soon, but I thought that maybe we could spend another week here. Brother Marcus has me restoring some stained glass windows and I'd like to finish up."

"However long it takes, buddy."

+++++

It was time for them to leave. Over the past week, Blair continued talking to Brother Marcus when he worked in the glass workshop. Blair learned to value the man's friendship even more as he listened to Blair go on continuously about various subjects and listened, fascinated with the young man's life.

Blair promised to continue writing and update the monks on his progress with therapy and the other aspects of his life. He also promised to keep them updated on Jim's life, as Jim was reluctant to write letters, claiming he didn't have the free time Blair did.

Jim said goodbye to the monks and got in the bus, putting the bags in the empty seats. He left Blair alone to say his goodbyes.

"I want to thank all of you for allowing me to come here and spend so much time. This is indeed a miraculous place. I never envisioned being able to face the demons that were dwelling in my mind over what had happened to me. But this place was a balm to my wounds, physical, mental and spiritual." Blair looked at each monk in turn, resting his gaze finally on Brother Marcus. "Jim and I will return, hopefully after you get the lake stocked with fish. Jim is great with cleaning fish!" Blair laughed, a happy sound.

Inside the bus, Jim looked out the window, drawn by the sound of Blair laughing. It was a welcome sound. He saw Blair personally say goodbye to each monk, saving Brother Marcus until the last. The two embraced and Jim could see Marcus telling Blair something and Blair's head nodding. They parted and Blair wiped at his eyes.

Brother Theodore took them back to Jim's truck and Blair helped load their bags into the back. They said goodbye to Brother Theodore.

"Let us know when the lake is stocked and ready for fishing, Brother Theodore. Blair and I will be back."

"Will do, Brother Jim. I'll let you know when it's ready."

+++++

Jim started up the truck and headed back towards Cascade. At first, Blair was quiet and just when Jim was going to ask him if something was wrong, he spoke.

"Brother Marcus told me we should talk to each other. About our feelings and concerns. I know you don't like to discuss such things, but would you be averse to me talking to you about it?"

"No, it would be fine with me. Maybe I'll be inclined to talk too."

"That would be fine, Jim. I know I will have to discuss this in therapy when I get back to Cascade and I was thinking about joining a support group. One of the monks mentioned that group therapy could be just as helpful as individual therapy. At least, I thought I would explore it. It can't hurt…"

Jim let Blair's voice wash over him, grateful he had made the right decision.

END