Just Another Assignment

By Travelin

EMAIL: Travelin

Summary: Jim has to guard someone visiting Cascade.

It was a simple assignment. Be one of 4 people watching over the latest dignitary from..did it really matter?...from somewhere that simply had to visit Cascade. This city was not the capitol. It did not have a national company to attract important visitors. It was just a shipping town; a big shipping town, but that was all. This dignitary did not have shipping connections but still wanted to see Cascade.

The detective shrugged his shoulders. His duty was not to reason why people did something. His duty was to obey orders. His orders were to protect this person, so he would do so to the best of his ability.

"Jim." Blair walked into the bullpen to see his partner sulking in his desk chair. "Hey, looks like you just heard they were out of buttermilk donuts, man!" The smile on his face dimmed the closer he came to the desk.

Glaring up at his partner, Ellison remarked dryly, "Funny, Sandburg. I wouldn't quit my day job if I were you."

"Cheer up, man. It's Friday and we are headed camping, remember?" Pausing to look at his friend he could see something truly bothered him. "What's up, Jim? You have to work late-" "-late would have been fine,"

Ellison retorted. "No, I was assigned special duty tomorrow. I have to be part of the guard for some dignitary coming to town for a quick visit. Why do people come here, Sandburg?" he asked rhetorically. "I mean, we have rain all the time, there's no big industry and, let's face it, Cascade is not a place-"

"Cascade has Rainier University, man. It has made a name for itself academically," Blair countered. "But I haven't heard about anyone coming this weekend."

"Either way, Chief, no camping for me. Maybe you could still go with a friend from-"

"No thanks, Jim. I like camping with you. I enjoy getting away from the city and watching you, well for lack of a better word, stretch your senses. So, thanks, but I'll go when we both can go." Blair sat down in front of his partner's desk and picked up the assignment sheet. "So, let's see who you will be ...Wow, " he remarked excitedly. "You are going to watching over that woman that wants to see women allowed to become priests in the Catholic Church. There are women active in other religions at that level and she feels it's time for the Catholic Church to wake up and smell the incense!"

"Yeah, that's right. I heard the same thing. She is stirring a lot of women to become active in this movement. Really rocking the 'ark'!" Ellison grinned at his own joke.

"Can I come along with you tomorrow? I'd like to hear her speech."

"Why not? We can go out to eat after we have her safely tucked away on the train...my treat," Ellison readily agreed.

"Great, sounds like a plan." Blair stood up, grabbing his backpack as he rose. "I'm heading back to the loft to start dinner. How's eggplant parmesan sound?"

"Sounds good, not as good as chicken, but pretty good. I'll be home in an hour or so. We are having a meeting on the procedures for tomorrow and then I'm free." Jim leaned back to stretch his tall frame. He sat straight up in the chair again remarking, "I think there's a Jags game on tonight too. I'll pick up some beer on the way home."

"Get the stuff I like to drink but can't afford, okay Jim?"

Blair started to leave the room as Ellison replied. "Don't I always, Chief. Don't I always?"

**************************

The speaker finished to a standing ovation from the mostly female crowd. The few men there had remained seated and sullen. Ellison could tell from their body language alone that they did not agree with viewpoint. He even recognized a few of the men as priests and deacons from some of the Catholic churches in Cascade. He kept his eyes and ears pinned on the woman who was now in a small group of excited women answering their questions. He glanced at the rest of the guards and listened to the scratchy voice piped in his ear.

"Time to move the speaker."

Jim nodded and replied, "Understood. On my way." As he started to move he felt Blair move with him. They were a good team. No words exchanged. They moved as one until they reached the speaker.

Interrupting to gain the woman's attention, "Ma'am, it's time to move please."

"Yes, of course. Thank you," she remarked to the detective as well as those around her.

Ellison gently placed his hand on the small of her back to move her towards the other guards, one on each side of her, to clear the path to the car.

As they approached the car, all pandemonium broke out. Jim heard the sound of gun chamber being loaded. He pushed the woman into the back of the guard in front of her causing them both to go sprawling into the back seat of the awaiting limo. The two guards on either side took a protective stance as Ellison shut the door. The limo started to pull away as an explosion went off in front of the car. The car came to an abrupt stop.

He heard the window winding down and glanced behind himself to see the face of the woman. "Close the window and stay do-" he began to say as he heard shots fired. He saw the two remaining guards go down, blood oozing from their chests.

The guard in the car spoke via the headpiece to Jim. "I can take out the guy in the building across the street. I've called for back up. Should be here in 5 minutes or less."

Jim nodded and whispered, "Acknowledged."

He then heard the gun fire from the car. "Target taken out."

During all this time, the crowd had dispersed to only an interested few, and they remained on the ground. Jim studied them, listening for any sign. He saw Blair start to stand then he crouched down to approach Jim.

Suddenly, someone came around the brick wall and grabbed Blair. He wrapped his right arm around Sandburg's neck while the left one held back Blair's right arm between the two bodies. The more Blair moved, the tighter he was squeezed around the neck. Wanting to breath, Blair stopped squirming.

"Step away from the car cop. She needs to stop all that heresy she is speaking about. She is an abomination to - "

"Release him now," Jim demanded. Knowing his duty, he kicked the car and spoke into the headset, "GO!" The car pulled away quickly.

"You've killed your friend here, cop!" He released Blair's left arm only to grab a knife from his belt and put it above the arm slowly squeezing air out of Blair.

Blair let himself relax into the stranglehold. This caused the thug to loosen his grip momentarily. Jim instantly saw the opening his partner had given and shot the man between the eyes. Blair fell forward while the suspect dropped where he had been standing. Blood splattered but none of it belonged to the now coughing police observer.

Jim quickly approached the scene. He kicked away the knife from the dead assailant then knelt next to his partner. "How're you doing, Chief? That was a good move. I was afraid I would have to-"

Blair extended his hand on his friend's shoulder. "Me too, man. I didn't feel like being perforated today, thanks."

Jim stood up and started to extend his hand to help his partner rise. The back up had arrived. Doors were being slammed; voices were shouting, a gun was fired. A burning pain caught the detective unaware. Surprise painted his face as he went to his knees and then collapsed on his friend.

"Jim? JIM?" Blair held Jim on his lap as screamed for help. "Hold on Jim, help is here," he whispered.

The paramedics took one look at the detective and ordered the gurney brought over quickly. They applied pressure to the wound and wrapped it firmly. It was determined any IV's would be started in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

Blair went into the ambulance with the paramedic. No one asked him to come and no one would ask him to leave. Blair continued to whisper to his friend.

Jim stirred once during the short trip. His soft words were hard to understand, but Blair thought he said, "Keep camping, Chief. I'll always be there."

The tears flowed easily down Blair's red cheeks. "No Jim, no. We'll go when we both can do it together."

*********************************

The other guards had died from their wounds. The suspect that had been shot by the guard from the car had survived long enough to shoot Ellison. The police found the dead assassin in the building across the street. The maniac that had held Blair turned out to be a former priest. He had been dismissed due to mental instability.

'Guess they were right about that,' Blair mournfully mused.

After five hours of surgery, a doctor in sweat-drenched scrubs approached the group that had gathered to await word of their friend and co-worker. "Anyone here a relative of James Ellison?"

"I'm Blair Sandburg. I have Jim's power of attorney and there are no relatives here. They are out of town on business. Please, what's going on, is he - he-"

"-Alive. Yes, he is, but it is through sheer determination. Anyone else with that type of wound and amount of blood loss, well, we wouldn't be standing here, we'd be in the morgue."

Blair gasped. His friend, roommate, partner.... 'No, not going to go there. Jim is with us now,' Blair thought. He returned his attention back to the doctor. "Can I see him? I, ah, I need to see him. I promise, I'll stay out of the way..."

"Yes, of course. I was hoping someone would sit with him. He is an induced coma. His body was severely injured today. That bullet ricocheted before it came to a resting spot. I'll spare you all the medical jargon, but just know that your friend, or one of you, has a friend in a high place. Go, talk to him. I'm sure you've heard about people hearing what is said to them while they were a coma. He needs to be bolstered up now. This way, Mr. Sandburg," the doctor encouraged.

************************

Blair sat in the hard, orange chair next to his friend's hospital bed. He had been praying wordlessly to any and all deities. The medical staff worked around him. He left the room when asked and returned when they finished their duties. Simon brought him food, not that he ate much of it. Blair kept looking at his friend, looking at the person that taught him more about himself than anyone ever had in his life. Blair prayed that Jim -

"Bl--"

"Jim? I'm here man, I'm here," Blair whispered as he pressed the call button for the nurse.

"You 'k?" Ellison asked softly.

"Yeah, man, I'm fine. More worried about you here," Blair replied as he rubbed on his friend's hand. "I'm planning on doing some camping soon. You wanna come?" he asked hopefully.

"Sounds good," Jim replied quietly, "sleep now." Jim immediately fell asleep after the words left his lips.

Blair continued to rub the sleeping man's hand. "You sleep Jim. Build up your strength. You and I have some camping to do when you get out of here."

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