ABIDING TRUST

(Alternate Ending to The Girl Next Door)

By: Lyn

EMAIL: townsend297@ozemail.com.au

DISCLAIMER: Not mine. No infringement intended.

SUMMARY: Had a thought about The Girl Next Door. Jim tells Blair to go find Iris and…

Many thanks to Annie as always for the beta. I'm so glad I got you into this. You truly are the yin to my yang.

 

When I find her? Blair stared at Jim in astonishment. He never wanted to see Iris again as long as he lived. His heart was pounding so hard that his chest ached. He was pretty sure he was going to throw up. His legs felt like jello and he was exhausted beyond belief. It had been a very long day… or was that day and night? He couldn’t remember. He’d already lost count of how many times someone had pointed a gun at him and come close to pulling the trigger. Nausea surged at the thought but before he had a chance to tell Jim that he really didn’t think he was up to it, his partner was gone.

Fine! I can do this. He scanned the area and spotted Iris ahead of him, hurrying toward the parking lot. "Oh, no, you don’t," he muttered in righteous indignation. "Not my car again." He felt a spurt of adrenaline, sure it was the last gasp in the tank. Determined to finish this once and for all, so he could just go home and crawl into bed and not come out for at least a week, he hurried along the platform and through the parking lot until he was just feet away from her.

He waited until her attention was focused on fishing the keys out of the pocket of her ultra-tight pants, then he pounced. "Hey," he said, grabbing her arms, the smile on his face stretching muscles already aching with tension, " remember me?"

He had to admit she was cool. She barely jumped before trying to pull away from his grip.

"Fuck you!" she snarled. "Just let me go!"

Blair shook his head and allowed a feral grin that was only partly faked to show. He was so sick of this shit!

Her voice took on a wheedling tone and Blair was sure he saw a tear almost appear in her eye. "Blair, please, come on. They’ll put me in prison."

"Yep," Blair agreed as he pulled the car keys from her hand. He started to steer her back the way they had come then had a better idea.

"We’ll split it," she offered hopefully. "Fifty-fifty."

"Nope." Blair pulled her to the back of the car, his exhaustion beginning to lift at his brilliant idea. Opening the trunk, he smiled at Iris. "My mom taught me to always put things back where I found them."

"Oh, no! Don’t you dare…" Outraged, Iris began to struggle in earnest and in Blair’s exhausted condition, it was all he could do to hang onto her. He looked around desperately, hoping to see Jim or Simon or… someone. He managed to get the trunk open and had Iris halfway in when an angry shout had him looking up.

"Hey! What the fuck do you think you’re doing?"

"Shit!" Blair muttered. Three large men were running toward him, gesticulating wildly, their faces, belligerent. He glared menacingly at Iris. "Don’t you move!" He turned slightly, holding up both hands as the men rushed up to them. "Hey, guys. Relax, it’s fine. This is a police matter –"

"Yeah, right," one of the men said. "You think we don’t know a kidnapping when we see one?"

"No, wait –" But before he could get out another word, Blair’s head snapped back as a blow from a meaty fist connected with his jaw. He slammed back against the trunk of the car, hearing Iris squeal and shift away from him. His head was spinning but he staggered back up, tasting blood in his mouth. "I’m with the police," he tried again but the trio of vigilantes merely shook their heads.

"That right?" said a second, as he grabbed Blair by the scruff of the neck. "How about we make a citizen’s arrest then?" He tossed Blair to the ground and Blair barely had time to curl up enough to protect his vital organs before a flurry of solid kicks pounded into his chest, back and stomach. He couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see and he was sure he was going to die. There was a moment of blissful reprieve but before he could regain his senses, he was dragged up and slammed against the car. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Iris start to slink away.

"Oh, no, you don’t, missy," one of his attackers said, grabbing Iris by the wrist and gently leading her back to the car. "The police will need your statement."

Blair had to admit she was a good actress. Tears welled from her eyes and ran down her cheeks as she sobbed. "I just want to go home. He scared me so much."

He was at the end of his rope. With one final surge of energy, fueled by anger and utter despair at what a shit-awful day this had been, Blair broke free of the man holding him captive. "For god’s sake, will you listen to me!"

The man in front of him wiped distastefully at the blood that spattered his face from Blair’s split lip. "No, you listen," he growled. Before Blair could take flight, he grabbed him by the throat and pushed him back against the car. "You’re under arrest, you freaking pervert!"

A huge fist loomed in Blair’s vision and he closed his eyes. No more. He was spent, beyond exhausted. His stomach was cramping violently from the blows from their boots and his head and jaw throbbed mutinously. Closing his eyes, he resigned himself to his fate and waited for the blow to fall. At this point, oblivion didn’t sound like such a bad idea.

"Hold it right there! Cascade PD!"

Blair sagged, almost sobbing at the sound of Jim’s welcome voice. The hand left his throat abruptly and he just barely managed to keep himself upright, hearing Jim’s curt orders to the men and to Iris as a sort of vague buzz in his ears.

A hand touched his shoulder and he flinched. "Easy, Chief, it’s just me."

Blair nodded and tried not to shift as Jim’s hands ghosted over his body, searching for injury. His chin was cupped and his head lifted and he looked into Jim’s worried face.

"You all right?" Jim asked, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket and wiping gently at Blair’s lip. "You hurt anywhere else?"

Blair settled for a shrug, too numb from the events of the day to even begin to catalogue how he felt. Besides he wasn’t entirely sure what hurt from when. "I’m okay," he finally managed to croak. He glared at the three men as a couple of uniformed cops ran up and led them away. A third grabbed Iris and steered her toward an arriving police car. She turned back once and flashed him a venomous glare that made him want to poke his tongue out at her. He must be exhausted or concussed or brain-damaged to be thinking so childishly. "They thought I was kidnapping her, man," he said to Jim. He tried on a smile in the hopes of reassuring his partner but couldn’t even convince himself. "This would be the one time I wished I had a badge or a gun… or both."

Jim smiled, his frown smoothing out and clapped Blair on the back. It was only a small slap really but it almost sent Blair to his knees. The frown was back when Jim leaned down and peered into Blair’s eyes. "You sure you’re all right?"

Blair forced himself to straighten, grimacing as pulled muscles and bruises protested the movement. "Mostly," he said. "It’s been a really long day. You’re not gonna believe it when I tell you –"

"At the station," Simon broke in and Blair jumped. He hadn’t even realized the captain was there.

"Hey, Simon," he replied. He smoothed his hair back from his face, grimacing at the dirty, dusty feel of it and smelling a strong scent of sweat and other unpleasant odors that he was sure were emanating from him. He had to remember to tell Jim to dial his nose down on the way home or the poor guy would pass out. "Any chance I could go home and grab a shower first? I stink, man."

To his surprise, Simon shook his head. "Sorry, Sandburg." He motioned to Blair’s car. "You’ve been found in possession of heroin and for now, we have no evidence of what actually went down last night –"

Blair was incredulous. "They kidnapped me!" he squeaked, aware of just how close he was skating to the edge of a full-blown panic attack, despite the danger having passed. "They were going to kill me if I didn’t do what they wanted."

"Easy, Chief." Jim rested a hand on Blair’s shoulder and squeezed gently. "Come on, sir, we both know what went down," he said to Simon.

Simon nodded. "I know that, you know that, but we still need his statement in writing and we need to interview Iris and her brother, make sure they back up his story."

"So… what?"

"Get Jim to take you to the station," Simon said, sounding resigned. "You’ll be processed and your statement taken."

"Processed? What?" Blair turned to Jim, suddenly feeling dizzy and nauseous all at once. "What’s going on here, Jim? I’m the victim here."

Jim took his arm and led him toward his truck. "I’ll explain on the way."

"But –"

Jim shook his head. "It’s gonna be fine. Just red tape." He paused before unlocking the passenger door and gave Blair a searching look. "You sure you don’t need a medic?"

Blair shook his head briefly. "I’m fine," he said, looking away. He couldn’t believe any of this. He’d been so relieved to see Jim, so sure his ordeal was over. Now they were treating him like he was the criminal. Fine, he told himself grimly. If that's the way it has to be. After what I’ve been through, this’ll be a walk in the park. His resolve faded a little when Iris was driven past, a faint smirk on her face. Oh God, what if she says I was in on the whole thing? What if –

"Chief, you wanna get in the truck?" Jim’s voice startled him from his anxious thoughts.

"Yeah, sorry."

~o0o~

Blair couldn’t even remember going home. He sincerely wished he couldn’t remember his time at the PD. After two years of riding with Jim, he should have known what to expect… what ‘processing’ meant and in a far, exhausted corner of his mind, he was pretty sure he did. But that knowledge had not prepared him for the utter humiliation of being stripped, searched – he shuddered at the memory – fingerprinted by an unsympathetic cop, who barely blinked at the bruises and cuts marring Blair’s body. He was glad Jim had not stayed with him, though he knew the detective was torn between remaining with Blair and interviewing Iris. Blair was sure his already fragile psyche couldn’t have taken Jim looking on while he was treated like a criminal – and he supposed if Iris hadn’t verified his story, that’s exactly what he would have been. He felt a perverse sense of gratitude toward her that didn’t sit right. None of it did. The whole experience was so muddled, his memories so confused and dazed, he felt as though it would only take one sympathetic word, one gentle touch to send him spiraling into a breakdown.

His indignation had finally given way to a weary acceptance by the time they arrived home. At least he’d been able to spend the time waiting in Simon’s office, letting the worry eat at him, instead of languishing in a cell. He sat and watched while Simon, Jim and Joel tucked into the meal he’d prepared so carefully for Iris. Despite his almost ravenous hunger and thirst, just the sight of the food now made him want to throw up. He wouldn’t do that. He was more determined than ever to handle this and not allow anyone to see how deeply he’d been affected by it all.

He excused himself when Joel and Simon finally began making noises about heading home, determined to finally have the shower he’d been yearning and rid himself of the stench of the previous two days. His exhaustion had caught up with him to the point he could barely see straight and the conversations being bandied back and forth were making no sense at all. Stumbling toward the bathroom, he gave the other men a vague wave then shut the door and turned on the faucets, adjusting the water temperature until it was just shy of scalding.

He hurt - everywhere. His back especially, ached ferociously and he absentmindedly rubbed at it, attempting to knead the knotted muscles. Pulling off his shirt, he stared for a moment, somewhat befuddled by the sticky residue of tape on his skin then remembered Rob and Iris’ inane idea that they could smuggle the drugs into Canada on their bodies. That memory of course dredged up more, far more terrifying ones and he felt his chest tightening up, hearing again so clearly the frightening sound of the gun chamber clicking emptily on Parkman’s weapon as he’d held it to Blair’s head.

Oh, God, he was going to throw up. He lifted the toilet lid and stood hunched over the bowl, swallowing convulsively and forcing his breathing to slow. He had nothing in his stomach to throw up and his muscles were already sore and bruised from the blows of the ‘good Samaritans’ at the railway station. The nausea slowly settled and he straightened and stepped into the shower. The hot water was a balm and he sighed in bliss. Even the small sting of the grazes on his knees, collected when he’d fallen while escaping from Parkman were minor compared the sensation of the hot water loosening up his body and rinsing the smell of dirt and sweat from his body and hair. Suddenly the memories attacked him full force: the overwhelming sense of fear that had held him in its grip over the past day, seeing a gun pointed at him time and again, running from Parkman, straining to hear sounds of pursuit over the pounding of his heart; the heat of the bullet Iris fired past his head, the blows from the men at the railway station…

Before he could even register the movement, his knees slammed onto the tiled floor of the shower and he cowered, huddled beneath the now cool water, fighting for breath. A hand gripped his shoulder, hauling him up and he fought, still caught up in his nightmare. Pulling away, he backed up against the wall of the cubicle, his panicked gaze finally registering the presence of his partner.

"Sandburg! Take it easy. It’s me." Jim’s face held a look of worry.

"Jim?" Blair sagged in on himself, slowly sliding downward as his legs buckled.

"Easy. I’ve got you." Jim reached into the spray, turned off the faucets with one hand while the other pulled Blair to lean against him. He helped Blair over the edge of the tub, grabbed a towel from the rail to wrap around Blair’s shivering body then lowered him to sit on the toilet. Kneeling down, he rubbed briskly with the towel, softening his strokes when Blair winced. "What happened?" he asked. "I heard a bang and found you on the floor." He rubbed a hand over Blair’s soaking wet hair. "Did you hit your head?"

"No. I just… It just all caught up with me, I guess," Blair whispered.

Jim nodded. "You’ve had a hell of a day and being dragged downtown without any rest or food can’t have helped." Jim reached up and squeezed Blair’s shoulder. "I’m sorry, Chief. I should have insisted on taking you to the hospital. I spoke to Simon just before he left. He’s feeling pretty bad about what we did."

Blair felt a spark of anger at the words. "Didn’t seem to bother any of you before," he muttered. "As I recall, you all thought it was pretty funny."

"We were wrong. You were the victim here, not the perp. You have every right to be angry."

Blair deflated. "I’m too tired to be anything right now," he said.

Jim ran a hand down the bruises on Blair’s chest. "How did you get these? You didn’t mention anything about any of them hitting you in your statement."

Blair shrugged. "’M not exactly sure," he admitted. "It’s all mixed up." He touched one particularly lurid bruise and winced. "I think these were from the guys at the railway station. They thought I was kidnapping Iris."

"Why didn’t you say something?" Jim growled. "I asked you if you needed a medic."

Blair glared at him. "I’d just been told I was being arrested," he shouted back. "It kinda took precedence over everything else."

Jim sighed and lowered his head for a moment. When he lifted it again, he looked ashamed. "I should have insisted on taking you home. If there were any problems, we could have gone back to the station after you’d had some rest. I was worried sick about you," he admitted. "Not knowing if I’d find you or if…"

"I knew you’d find me," Blair said firmly, knowing in his heart that in spite of his fear and anger, that much was true. He’d never doubted that.

"And look how I treated you when I did," Jim replied. "I screwed up big time. You’re my best friend and I treated you like crap."

"It was procedure," Blair said reasonably. "Knowing it doesn’t make it hurt any less though." He sighed. "You’re right. What you and Simon did was wrong. You treated me like a criminal and worse than that, you thought it was all a big joke." Tears stung his eyes and he blinked them away furiously.

"I’ll understand if you want to just walk out the door," Jim said softly.

Blair gave him a tired smile back. "You’re not getting rid of me that easily, Ellison. I’ll make sure you make it up to me. You want to get me another towel? All I want right now is to go to bed."

"Let me," Jim offered. He pulled a second towel from the rail and dried Blair’s hair with brisk rubs until it was only damp. "We’ll put a towel on the pillow," he said. He helped Blair up and steered him into his bedroom. Fatigue quickly overwhelming him, negating any embarrassment he might feel at the attention, Blair allowed Jim to pretty much dress him in his sweats and bundle him under the covers.

Despite his weariness, actually getting to sleep was an uphill battle. Every time his eyes closed, he’d be transported back to the previous day. He could smell the stench of the roadside bathroom Parkman had locked him in, could see the rails beneath his feet as he ran for freedom, could feel the grazes on his knees as he tripped and fell whilst looking frantically behind him, experienced again the terror and frustration that it would never be over. Again and again, his body stiffened and he jumped, his eyes snapping open, his heart trying to pound its way out of his chest.

Each time, Jim would soothe him back toward sleep, one big hand enfolding his, the other stroking a hypnotic rhythm across his forehead. "Shh," Jim said. "I’m here. Not going anywhere. Just rest…"

Eventually, comforted by the presence of his friend, his Blessed Protector, his weary mind finally processing that he was safe and home, Blair slept.

END

May 10th 2005