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DISCLAIMER: Jim, Blair, Simon and Margaret are the property of Petfly and Paramount. This piece of fanfiction has been written for my own and othersí enjoyment. No money has been paid. No copyright infringement is intended.
CATEGORY: Angst, Epilogue.
AUTHORíS NOTES: A shameless piece of angst and H/C. I watched BMB again the other day and I thought at the end that Blair look really tired and really, well, sick. I donít think he should have been going anywhere, except to bed. I decided to let Jim and Margaret enjoy each otherís company first, though. (g)
Blair Sandburg stood in front of the apartment building and looked up and down the street. He shivered slightly and tried to wrap his jacket closer around him to ward off the chill of the night air. He hadnít really decided what he was going to do tonight. In all of the excitement and subterfuge of arranging for Margaret to come and spend the evening with Jim, heíd totally forgotten to plan anything. If he was honest with himself, he didnít really want to do anything. What he wanted was to be upstairs in bed, asleep.
He had only been discharged from the hospital three days before and he still felt tired and rather shaky from his experience of being overdosed with Golden. Heíd lain in a coma for two days and then spent the next four, lying in the hospital, trying to recover his strength. Flashbacks to his time in the police garage had assaulted him almost continually at first, leaving him confused, exhausted and ashamed as he struggled to sort real events from imagined. They had slowly abated and now he hadnít had a flashback since the first day heíd been home, when heíd scared the bejesus out of Jim and himself.
They had only arrived home a half-hour or so before and while Blair had showered and changed, Jim lit the fire. Blair had come out of the bathroom, taken one look at the flames and promptly backed in again, locking the door behind him. It had taken an hour of Jimís cajoling before Blair had come to his senses and opened the door, feeling embarrassed and foolish.
Jim had continually tried to reassure him that none of this was his fault. That he had been attacked and had reacted no differently to anyone else who had been dosed with the hallucinogen. Blair though, still shrank at the picture of what heíd done that day in the garage and how he must have looked to the other officers. The hippie freak, standing on top of a police car shooting at figments of his imagination. His face flushed just at the memory of it and he shook himself from his reverie and made a decision.
He headed down the street toward the cinema. After all, you could never see The Godfather too often, could you? So long as you didnít count Number Three, which should never been made at all. Maybe his luck would be in and thereíd be something new on.
He walked briskly, keeping himself warm but trying not to wear himself out before he got to his destination. He only had enough money for the film and he hadnít considered driving there, not while there was still a chance of golden fire people popping up to startle him. Passing by an alleyway, he glanced over as he heard voices and looked enviously at the small group of homeless men who stood gathered together. A fire had been lit in an old drum and the men stood hunched around it, warming their hands as they talked. He looked quickly away and hurried his steps as a thick orange flame seemed to morph into an arm that reached out to him.
"Not real, not real," he whispered to himself. He repeated the mantra, matching it to his echoing footsteps and breathed a sigh of relief as the welcoming lights of the cinema appeared ahead of him.
He bought his ticket and a soda and headed into the cinema, finding a seat about halfway to the front. His luck wasnít in and he settled in for another showing of Brando, De Niro and company. The first movie had already begun but Blair was able to adjust to the plot instantly. He made himself comfortable and took a swig of his drink.
Despite expecting it, the first sounds of gunfire from the screen startled him and he jumped, spilling his drink. More shots followed and his heart began to race as he looked around and saw the flames that ate through the screen, heading toward him, their burning hands outstretched. ĎOh, God. Oh, God.í "Jim!"
He shrank down in his seat as he realized he had shouted his partnerís name aloud. He had to get home. Sliding out of his seat, apologizing to the disgruntled viewers, he made it to the aisle and started up the stairs to the exit, only to come to a halt. They were there was well, the fire people, slowly advancing on him. He backed away, oblivious to the angry murmuring of the audience, his breath coming in strangled gasps.
He continued to move away from the pursuing flames, one hand outstretched to ward them off until he bumped into the screen at the far end of the cinema. Realizing he could go no further, he huddled down and scrunched himself into a tight ball beginning to rock and keen in a low distressed wail. Jim had told him what to do to get rid of the fire people but he couldnít remember what it was.
"Sir, are you all right?"
Someone kneeled in front of him and shone a flashlight into his face. Blair looked up and cried out in fright as the manís face was eaten away by hungry flames, his fiery hand reaching out to touch Blairís shoulder and condemn him to the same fate. Trying to scramble away from the threat, Blair saw what he needed and tore the gun from the manís holster, holding out in front of him with two shaky hands.
The fire man backed away and Blair cocked the gun, feeling it waver slightly in his grip. ĎThe gun wonít work here.í Wasnít that what Jim had said? But the fire people were all running away now, the sound of screaming grating painfully on his ears. He allowed the weapon to droop in his hands; he was so very tired. One of the fire people moved slowly back toward him and he brought the gun up quickly and scurried back along the wall until he was wedged into a corner. Where was Jim? He needed Jim to tell him what to do.
Jim gave a final smile and wave to Margaret as she blew him a kiss and disappeared into the elevator. He closed the door and set about picking up the empty wine bottle and glasses from the coffee table. Heíd enjoyed his evening with Margaret. As he had thought, they had a great deal in common and enjoyed many of the same interests. Heíd already invited her to the new blues club on Wiltshire Street on Friday night. He wondered idly if he should ask Blair to accompany them. After all, Margaret was Blairís friend and he had set this evening up. Blair had been right. Jim decided that he shouldnít be concerned with Margaretís looks. She was smart, witty, and independent and had a wonderfully dry sense of humor. Of course, it didnít hurt that she was pretty as well.
Jim wondered idly where Blair had gone for the evening. He looked at the clock and felt a small shiver of concern.
He hadnít realized how late it was. He knew Blair hadnít taken his car and he knew the anthropologist wasnít fully recovered from his ordeal. The incident on his first day out of hospital had brought home the seriousness of the doctorís words that flashbacks could continue to occur for weeks or months.
Blair had still looked pale and tired tonight when heíd left. Perhaps he should have insisted that he stay at home. Jim was sure Margaret wouldnít have minded.
Crossing to the coffee table, Jim picked up the phone and was about to dial Blairís cell phone number when the phone rang. Breathing a sigh of relief, he answered it quickly.
"Sandburg! Where are you?"
"Jim? Simon. I just got a call from a uniformed squad who was called to the Rialto cinema about a disturbance tonight. One of the officers recognized Blair. Seems like he could be having one of those flashbacks the doctor warned him about."
"Iím on my way, Simon. Tell them to try and keep him calm."
"He managed to get hold of one of the officersí guns, Jim. There havenít been any shots fired yet but he wonít let anyone near him. Keep me informed, all right?"
"Yes sir." Jim hung up the phone and grabbing his jacket, ran for the stairs.
Jim pulled into the curb in front of the cinema and jumped out, not bothering to stop and lock the door. He pushed past the crowd of curious onlookers and made his way to the entrance. He recognized the well-built, gray-haired uniformed officer who appeared to be in charge as Ray Kelly, a kindly veteran.
"Hey, Jim." Kelly acknowledged him with a wave of his hand. He ushered the detective through the doors and into the foyer. "Your partnerís in Cinema two just over there. We got a call of a crazy disturbing the peace. I donít know how he got hold of my gun."
Jim nodded. "Thanks, Ray. Iíll take it from here."
Kelly called after him. "He seemed really out of it, Jim. You want me to send some back up in with you."
"No," Jim answered quickly. "Do me a favor, will you? Get rid of that crowd out front. The last thing we need now is an audience."
"You got it."
Jim headed up the stairs to the cinema at a trot. As he reached the top, he dialed up his sight to compensate for the darkness of the interior. Scanning his surroundings, he could see no sign of Blair. Continuing to walk slowly, he extended his hearing and pinpointed his partner almost immediately. Blair was mumbling softly to himself, his breaths shallow and quick, his heart pounding.
"Blair? Itís Jim. Whatís happening?" Jim tried to keep his voice light despite the panic he could feel coursing through his body. Dear God, he didnít want to go through this again.
Blair didnít answer and Jim slowly made his way down until he was almost close enough to touch. Blair was scrunched at the far end of the cinema, below the screen. He had backed himself into a corner, and was huddled into a ball, his arms wrapped tightly about his knees. Jim saw that he still clutched Ray Kellyís weapon in his right hand.
Jim crouched down and slowly reached out a hand toward his shivering friend. "Blair? Itís Jim. Do you want to tell me whatís going on?"
Blair reacted suddenly by skittering away. The gun came up and pointed toward Jim, Blairís grip shaky and wavering. His eyes appeared dazed and unfocused and Jim was unsure if he even knew where he was. He tried again.
"Hey, Chief, itís me, Jim. Why donít you give me the gun and weíll go home?"
Blair shook his head adamantly. "We canít. Theyíre here, Jim, all around us."
"Whoís here?" Jim asked, carefully maneuvering himself closer.
"The fire people. Theyíre all around us." Blairís words were spoken to Jim, but his eyes restlessly roamed the interior of the cinema. Suddenly, he stilled and looked directly at the detective. "Do you have your gun?"
Jim shook his head. "No, buddy. I was worried about you. I left in a hurry."
Blair nodded. "Thatís good, thatís good. Jim? The gun wonít work, will it?"
Jim breathed a sigh of relief. "No, Chief, it wonít. Why donít you give it to me?"
Blair shook his head. "I know clapping my hands wonít work either, man."
Jim felt a spark of hope. Blair had sounded completely lucid. Then the observer gave a terrified sob and pressed himself back against the wall.
"Theyíre burning. Theyíre going to burn me." His eyes widened in fear as he followed the imagined fire peopleís advance. Then he seemed to mentally shake himself. He dragged his eyes back to look at Jim and took a ragged breath. "I donít know what to do, Jim. I know none of that stuff is gonna work, but I can still see them. Theyíre here."
Jim was finally close enough and reached out a hand to touch Blairís arm. "Why donít you just let me take care of it, Blair. Like I did the last time, huh?"
Jim watched as Blairís attention slipped away from him once more, his eyes staring at a point over Jimís shoulder. It gave him the unnerving sensation that someone was creeping up behind him. Blair began to mutter to himself once more as he brought his hands up to his eyes. "Ashes. No! Not ashes, theyíre alive. I donít want to burn."
"Blair! Look at me!" Jim winced at the impatience in his voice even as Blair jumped, but it appeared to do the trick as Blair looked up at him and reached one shaking hand out to him. Jim smiled and squeezed the cold flesh. "You can see them, but you know they canít hurt you, right?"
Blair nodded slowly. "I know that," he whispered, "but I keep losing my perspective. "Why wonít they go away?"
"Youíve got to trust me, Blair," Jim said. His hand closed over the gun and he pulled it from Blairís lax fingers. He placed it on the ground beside him and gathered Blair to him. "Trust me, Blair. Like the last time. Your Blessed Protector always takes care of things, right?"
Blair nodded, his body beginning to shake with cold and shock. Jim quickly stripped off his jacket and wrapped it around Blairís shoulders, then tucked the younger man close to his side. "I want you to keep your head down, all right. Donít look until I tell you to. They feed on your fear, Blair. If youíre afraid, theyíll get stronger. We can beat this together."
Blair did not lift his head from Jimís shoulder and allowed the detective to guide him to the rear of the cinema. As Jim was about to push the door open, he spoke softly.
"Are all those people still out there?"
"I donít know. Ray Kelly was moving people on."
I donít want to see anyone, Jim. I donít want anyone to see me like this," Blair whispered.
Jim thought a moment. "Can you wait here for just a minute?"
"No!" Blair looked up at him and grasped at his jacket. "Theyíll come back."
Jim gently pushed him into a seated position in front of the door. "Iíll only be a second. If you donít want to see anyone, you have to work with me, Chief."
"All right," Blair agreed. "Hurry."
Jim squeezed his shoulder and pushed open the door. He spotted Ray Kelly standing just inside the foyer entrance; his arms crossed over his sizeable chest as he challenged anyone who dared to approach. Jim hurried over to him and held out the officerís gun.
Ray looked around in surprise when he didnít see Blair plastered to Jimís side. "Everything all right?" he asked, an expression of worry creasing his kindly face.
"Yeah, everythingís fine," Jim answered. "I need a favor from you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys.
Having accomplished his task, Jim hurried back into the darkened cinema. His heart leapt into his throat as he realized that Blair was not where heíd left him.
"Blair?" Jim called softly. He walked further into the cinema and stood at the top of the stairs, dialing up both his sight and hearing in his search.
"Iím here," Blairís voice came from directly behind him in a stage whisper and Jim jumped and almost wet his pants. He whirled to find Blair hunched up behind the door, his head cradled on his upraised knees. "Jesus, Sandburg!" Jim exclaimed, his heart still pounding in his chest. "You scared ten years growth out of me."
"Sorry," Blair answered, not looking up.
Jim knelt down in front of him. "What are you doing behind the door, Chief?"
Blair shrugged. "Theyíre gone," he said shakily, "but I figured if they come backÖ" He sighed deeply. "Iím such a fucking head case. I know theyíre not real but I was still scared that theyíd come back."
Jim rested a hand on Blairís knee. "Youíre not a head case, Sandburg," he said gently.
"Iím not?" Blair looked up and rubbed at his wet cheeks.
"Nah," Jim replied. "Youíve been seeing some seriously scary shit here and Iím the one who nearly peed my pants." He was rewarded with a shaky smile.
"Whatís say we blow this joint?"
Blair nodded and accepted Jim offer of help to stand. "Jim, what aboutÖ?" Blair motioned toward the exit with his thumb.
"Weíre using the celebrity exit, Sandburg." With that, Jim switched on a borrowed usherís flashlight and led his partner back down the stairs to the lighted emergency exit. He watched Blairís eyes flicker occasionally from side to side but the young man never faltered in his step, his jaw clenched tight.
The door led out onto a small alleyway and parked right in front, motor running, as he had requested, was his truck. No one was in sight and Jim quickly helped Blair into the passenger seat before hurrying to climb into the driverís side. Backing out of the alleyway, he looked over at Blair, who was already folded comfortably into his seat, watching Jim with sleepy eyes.
"What am I going to do if it happens again?"
"We are going to deal with it, just like we did tonight. Until it stops happening."
"What if it doesnít stop?" Blair asked.
"Itíll stop, Sandburg. Just give it time. You need to get some sleep. I shouldnít have let you go out tonight, youíre still recovering."
Blair tried to stifle a yawn. " How did you and Margaret get on?" he asked drowsily.
"What can I say, Chief. She loves me," Jim answered, grinning at his barely awake partner.
"Whatís not to love?" both men chorused.