ALTERNATE ENDING FOR 'SURVIVAL'
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DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are not mine. This fanfic was written for my own and others' enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.
CATEGORY: Epilogue, Themefic for May 2002.
RATING: PG (Violence, Language)
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Fixing the awkward ending.
Jim finished securing Quinn with shaking hands, then let the man fall to the ground at his feet. Stepping over him, he headed back to the mouth of the mine, breaking into a run as he saw Blair begin to slowly slide down the rock, the weapon in his hand drooping to point at the ground.
"Easy. I've got you." Grabbing Blair's jacket, Jim slowed his descent and caught up the gun with his other hand, keeping it trained on the scowling young woman just beyond them. Blair's head dropped forward to rest against his chest and Jim lowered him gently to the ground.
"I've got her. Take care of Sandburg." Simon had left Quinn bound and sprawled in the mud and now took charge of Lisa.
Jim nodded his thanks and turned his attention to his partner. Blair's eyes were glassy, his gaze unfocused, though Jim was unsure whether it was from the blows to his head or the blood loss from the bullet wound. Carefully, he cupped Blair's chin in his hand and angled the other man's face up to look at him. "Hey, you with me, Chief?"
Blair blinked slowly as though trying to figure out what Jim had said then nodded. Jim propped him up with his back against the rocks and gently maneuvered the injured leg so that it was straight. Blair sucked in a breath through clenched teeth and jerked away from Jim's hands. "Sorry. I know it hurts."
Blair's face was ashen; the bruises from his dive into the river and his run-in with Rooker were dark and ugly against his cold flesh. Dialing up his hearing, Jim focused in on Blair's heart and lungs, relaxing somewhat at the strong though somewhat rapid beat of his heart but worried by the faint wheeze accompanying each breath. He was shivering violently and Jim knew he needed to get the injured man warm and dry as quickly as possible. "You breathing okay?"
Again it took a moment for the words to sink in. Blair finally nodded. "My chest feels kind of tight."
"I think maybe you took in a little of that river water." Jim kept his tone light, not wanting Blair to pick up on his concern.
Turning his attention to the bullet wound in Blair's leg, Jim frowned at the mud and blood that covered Blair's jeans. The pressure bandage he'd applied hung loosely around Blair's knee, probably pulled off when he'd been thrown to the ground with the force of the explosion. Jim allowed himself no time for guilt. Quinn had to be stopped and Jim's options had been few. Had he hesitated, it was likely that neither Blair nor Simon would still be alive.
Simon squatted down at his side and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I've got Quinn and the girl secured. How's Sandburg?"
Jim shrugged and smiled at Blair. "Give me a minute, Chief." He stood and motioned for Simon to follow him. "I'm worried, Simon. The wound in his leg's bleeding again and he's got some congestion in his lungs. He's cold and he seems a little confused. I'm hoping it's just a concussion but it could be more serious than that. He needs medical help quickly." He looked up at the darkening sky as rain began to fall once more. "There's no way we can carry him out of here in this."
"I don't suppose you have a radio?"
"We lost everything in the river."
Simon sighed and Jim could see that the captain was close to exhaustion himself. Vicious bruising and swelling from his mistreatment at Quinn's maniacal hands stood out even against his dark skin.
"Okay," Simon said finally, turning around to contemplate the sullen Quinn. "I'll go check through Quinn's and the hunter's packs. See if either of them have anything we can use. Why don't we get Blair into the mine out of this weather? At worst, the dead man's cabin's not that far back. There could be a radio there."
Jim and Simon made their way back to Blair as rain began to fall heavily. "We're going to move you into the mine out of the rain, Chief. Let us do all the work."
Blair didn't reply but as Jim took hold of his arm, he tried to get his uninjured leg beneath him and lever himself up. Leaning heavily against Jim as his leg buckled, Blair allowed the two men to lift and carry him into the mine, his wheezing breaths punctuated by grunts of pain. They got him settled on the ground again then went back outside in search of bandages and water and anything else of use.
"Simon?" Jim was surprised to see that the captain had Quinn and his girlfriend on their feet with their hands tied in front of them and was herding them toward the entrance to the mine.
Simon gave Quinn a push that caused him to stumble slightly and he aimed a venomous glare at the black man. Simon looked at Jim and shrugged. "I figure it's going to take some time to get help here. As tempting as it is, we can't very well leave them sitting out in the rain and we can keep an eye on them and Sandburg this way." He handed Jim a large backpack. "There's a first aid kit inside, some matches, water and energy bars. No radio."
Jim nodded and followed the others into the mine. "Not there," he admonished Quinn as the man lowered himself to the ground beside Blair.
Quinn smirked. "Sorry. Didn't realize he was spoken for."
Jim reached out a hand and shoved Quinn hard. With no hands to steady himself the con smacked into the rock wall hard, grunting in pain at the contact. He spun to face Jim, his face twisted in anger and his bound hands coming up, fists formed, then his shoulders slumped as he realized the futility of his actions. "Pig!" he spat.
"Sit down and shut up, Quinn or I'll gag you as well," Simon interrupted. "Jim?" He motioned with his head for the detective to move away from the prisoner and Jim did so after shooting Quinn another warning look.
Lisa watched in silence then sighed and lowered herself down beside her boyfriend and rested her head on his shoulder. Satisfied he had things under control for now, Jim moved back to Blair and squatted at his side. "How are you doing, Chief?"
Again the pause before Blair responded and Jim's stomach tightened with concern as he saw that Blair was visibly struggling to move air now.
"I'm okay Leg hurts .Cold."
Jim nodded and pulled the first aid box from the backpack. "Gonna fix both those problems right now."
Blair allowed his head to fall back against the wall and closed his eyes as Jim used his knife to slit open the denim covering the wound in his thigh. To his relief, Jim saw that the wound was only oozing slowly although the dangers of blood loss and infection could not be ignored. Pulling a roll of bandage from the first aid kit, he pressed one of the large gauze pads against the entrance wound. "Simon? I could use a hand here."
When Simon knelt beside him, Jim handed him the bandage and directed him to wrap it firmly around Blair's leg while he pressed another gauze square against the exit wound in the back of Blair's thigh. By the time they were finished, Blair's face had paled considerably, his wheezing more evident as he attempted to pant through the pain.
"You all right, Sandburg?" Simon pressed a hand to Blair's trembling shoulder, smiling when the young man's eyes opened and he nodded silently.
"Looking good, Chief." Jim tied the bandage off and waited a moment, pleased to see that no seepage of blood appeared. "Now let's see if we can find some dry clothes for you."
"I already checked," Simon said. "There's nothing in the packs. Look, I think the best thing would be for you to head back to Rooker's cabin, see if there's a radio, get some help out here and bring back some blankets and the like. You could be there and back in a couple of hours."
"What about them?" Jim looked over at Quinn and Lisa.
"They're not going anywhere. I've got a weapon and I'll light a fire, see if I can warm Blair up. It's the only way to do it."
Jim nodded then touched Blair's shoulder. The anthropologist jumped then groaned as the movement caused pain to flare in his leg. "Sorry, Chief. Look, I'm going to head back to Rooker's cabin and radio for help. You think you can help Simon keep an eye on these two until I get back?"
Blair's gaze wandered from Jim to Simon then back again. Slowly, he nodded. "We'll be fine."
Standing, Jim headed over to Quinn and Lisa. Reaching out, he pulled the girl to her feet.
Quinn reacted quickly. "Hey, Ellison. Keep your filthy hands off my girl. You've got your own pretty boy over there."
Jim fought the urge to punch Quinn in the mouth and led Lisa along until several feet separated the two prisoners. "Sit," he ordered.
The girl did as she was told, flashing him an angry glare as she slid down to the ground. Leaning down to check on Blair once more, Jim saw the young man was either asleep or unconscious. Accepting a bottle of water from Simon, Jim took a final look around the mine before heading out. "I'll be back in a couple of hours."
Simon poked at the dwindling fire with a stick and debated whether to go outside in search of more firewood. Jim had been gone for around three hours now and it was getting colder. Quinn and Lisa had been silent for the most part as they sat huddled against the wall of the mine.
Blair dozed fitfully, waking only when Simon checked the bandage on his leg. His continuing confusion worried Simon and he'd debated whether he should attempt to keep the drowsy man awake but having to split his attention between Blair and his two prisoners was exhausting enough. He contented himself with verbally prodding Blair toward full wakefulness whenever he checked his leg, never allowing him to sink too deeply into unconsciousness.
Rubbing his hands briskly up and down his arms to try to warm himself, Simon went to Blair's side and pulled back the jacket he'd taken from Quinn to drape over the injured man. Blair shivered convulsively and mumbled something indecipherable. Simon patted his shoulder in a gesture of comfort then checked on the bandaged thigh. The gauze was discolored with old blood but Simon was relieved to see the wound had apparently stopped bleeding.
Of more concern were Blair's lungs. The wheezing had become harsher over the past hour or so, punctuated with racking coughs that brought tears to the young man's eyes. Simon absently brushed a lock of hair back from Blair's face and frowned at the feverish feel to his skin. Slowly blue eyes fluttered open, blinking dazedly for a moment before settling on Simon.
"Jim?" Blair rasped and then coughed harshly, one hand reaching up to clutch at his chest as he screwed his face up in pain. Simon rubbed Blair's sternum sympathetically.
"Not long now, Blair. Jim'll be back soon."
"I'm cold." Blair shivered again and Simon pulled the jacket back up so that it covered Blair's shoulders then tucked it snugly about his neck.
"He's not the only one," Quinn muttered. "How about you let us move closer to the fire, Banks?"
Simon flashed Quinn an impatient glare. "Stay where you are, Quinn. Don't tempt me to shoot you."
Quinn glared back then seemed to relent. "At least let Lisa get closer. She's only a little thing. She's shivering almost as much as he is."
Simon looked over at the silent girl who indeed was almost doubled up into her jacket with her bound hands curled up on her chest and her face barely visible in the folds of her collar. "All right," he said finally. "Just the girl but you stay away from him." He pointed at Blair who appeared to have drifted back to sleep.
Lisa nodded and struggled to stand but appeared to be having trouble getting to her feet. Simon stepped around the fire and leaned down to place one hand under her elbow, helping her to stand. Something heavy hit him forcefully in the back sending him staggering forward to slam into the unyielding wall of the mine.
With his breath driven from his lungs, Simon collapsed to his knees, struggling to stay conscious. As he attempted to stand up on shaky legs, something pressed between his shoulder blades and pushed him back to the ground.
Dawson Quinn laughed, an ugly, triumphant sound and as Simon raised his head and wiped away the blood that trickled into his eye from a gash on his forehead, he saw Quinn pulls his arms open, separating the remaining strands of rope that had bound them. Stepping over to the girl, he quickly untied her hands then picked up the rifle Simon had left leaning against the wall. Reaching down, Quinn stripped the jacket from Blair's unconscious body and shrugged it on, grinning when Blair moaned and shifted in his stupor.
"Leave him alone, Quinn," Simon threatened. His voice was soft but the tone was a dire threat.
Quinn placed the barrel of the gun at the side of Blair's head and pressed slightly. Blair gasped and squirmed at the pressure, then came fully awake, staring up at the man who towered over him with a look of shock. "S-Simon?"
"Stay still, Blair," Simon said, trying to keep his voice calm.
Quinn dug the barrel a little harder into Blair's temple. "Where's the money, Banks?"
Simon glared at the murderer. "Ellison took it with him."
Quinn's eyes narrowed in anger. "Liar!" he spat. Lifting one foot he brought it down onto Blair's leg and dug it brutally into the wound.
Blair screamed and arched up at the agony, his hands reaching out in a futile attempt to pull away Quinn's foot. Simon felt sweat break out on his forehead, mixing with the blood there and stinging as it ran into the gash. He gritted his teeth and held up his hands.
"All right. Leave him alone. Just leave him alone. The money's outside in Rooker's backpack, over by the equipment shaft."
Quinn smiled and eased the pressure on Blair's leg but kept his foot there, resting on the now bleeding wound. Blair collapsed back to the ground, his face ashen, tears streaking through the dirt on his cheeks, his chest heaving as he attempted to breathe through the pain.
"Go get it," Quinn ordered, looking at Lisa.
"It's raining. Why don't you go?" she pouted, huddling further into her jacket as she surveyed the wintry landscape outside the mine entrance.
"Because I told you to go," Quinn said patiently as though talking to a child. "Go get the damn money so we can get the hell out of here."
Lisa jerked her chin at Simon. "What about these two."
"Let me worry about Banks and Ellison's little sidekick. Just get the damn money."
She hesitated a moment longer as if suddenly unsure of her actions then hurried out into the rain. Quinn looked down and contemplated Blair a moment.
"Kid here screams like a girl," he said conversationally and even as Simon shouted a protest, he put his foot back down on Blair's wound and pushed hard. Blair arched up again, his hands curled into fists that beat weakly against Quinn's leg but he did not cry out this time. Blood dribbled down his chin where he'd bitten his lip, his breath coming in grunts of pain.
"Give me one good reason not to shoot you, you evil son of a bitch."
Quinn jerked back in surprise at the sound of Ellison's voice, almost stumbling as he staggered away from Blair. Jim stepped forward from the darkened recesses of the passage of the mine, the same route he'd taken when they'd been trapped the first time, his gun held steadily in both hands and aimed straight at Dawson Quinn's head. "Drop the weapon, Quinn and get down on the ground."
As Quinn did as he was told, Simon dropped onto his butt, an all-consuming lethargy overwhelming him. Dimly, he could hear shouting outside the mine then a uniformed officer hurried in and quickly cuffed the unresisting Quinn before taking him away.
Jim was already at Blair's side, taking a blanket from the paramedics who joined them and wrapping it securely around Blair's shivering body. He looked over at Simon, who sat impatiently as another medic checked him out.
"I'm all right," Simon grumbled, shaking off the medic's hands. "See to the kid."
"He's all right, Simon."
"His leg? I'm sorry. I couldn't stop him. I had no idea he was going to do that."
"Not your fault," Blair whispered, though his chest heaved with silent sobs. "Guy's insane."
Suddenly exhausted, Simon rested his head on his knees and let the welcome sounds of rescue wash over him. He was barely aware when someone helped him to his feet and ushered him outside. "We're ready to take you and the other injured man to the hospital, Captain."
Simon nodded and managed to get to the rescue chopper, which had landed in a clearing; more or less under his own steam. Blair had already been loaded in on a stretcher, an IV running fluids into one arm and an oxygen mask fitted snugly over his face. Jim leaned down and whispered a few words to his partner who smiled beneath the mask and raised a thumb in an OK gesture.
"I'll see you at the hospital, sir." Jim helped Simon climb into the cockpit and strap in beside the pilot. "I'll get a ride down with Mara."
Jim nodded. "You can't keep Sandburg down for long. He's already made a date with Mara for Saturday night." He grinned and shook his head. "Though I doubt he'll remember it once the painkillers wear off."
Simon chuckled, feeling some of his weariness dissipate at the image of a stoned Sandburg chatting up the feisty FBI agent. "At the very least, we owe the kid dinner," he said, becoming serious again. "Even when they were trying to smoke us out he kept his cool. He did okay. So did you."
"You know, Simon, back there with Quinn If you hadn't been back there..." He shook his head.
"You would have done the same thing."
"I don't know about that."
"I've got something for you here." Reaching into his pocket, Jim pulled out Simon's leather cigar case and handed it to the captain who took it with a grateful smile. "We'll see you at the hospital."
A soft groan from the still figure in the bed had Jim awake instantly. Dragging the chair closer, he leaned forward and reached for Blair's hand as the other man shifted and opened bleary eyes.
The surgery on Blair's leg had been uncomplicated despite the bruising caused by Quinn's boot. The doctors were confident that Blair would be back on his feet within a few weeks. He was still pale, with twin points of fever flushing his cheeks, the oxygen mask replaced by nasal cannulae. His lungs still wheezed slightly but the chest infection was already responding to the antibiotics being infused through his IV.
"Right here, Chief. How are you feeling?"
"Awful," Blair rasped. He gratefully accepted the water that Jim held to his mouth though a few sips were enough to exhaust him. "How long have I been here?"
"Two days, though this is the first time you've woken up properly. Doctor said the blood loss and the chest infection would keep you pretty much out of it for a few days."
"I feel like a giant wet noodle," Blair said, raising a shaky hand to his head. "Is Simon okay?"
"He's fine. He's already gone back to Cascade to do the paperwork on Quinn."
"Man, Jim, Quinn is one crazy son of a bitch." Blair's eyes drooped and his breathing began to deepen as he dozed off. "What day is it?" he asked sleepily.
"Saturday. I'm afraid you're going to have to give Mara a rain check on your date. Doctor says you'll be here at least another two or three days."
Blair's brow wrinkled. "Date? With Mara? Who " Blair's eyes snapped open again. "I didn't, did I? When?"
Jim grinned widely. "When we were loading you into the rescue chopper. Mind you, you were pretty doped up with morphine at the time, so I guess she'll forgive you for forgetting. I've got to admit, Sandburg, you're a piece of work. Shot full of morphine, a bullet hole in your leg, pneumonia and a concussion and you still manage to snare a date. With the ice maiden of the FBI, no less."
Blair smiled around a yawn. "What can I say, man. It's a gift."
"Do yourself a favor and don't show her your diary this time."
"Oh, yeah, no more diaries for me. I'll wait until I get old enough and write my memoirs."
"Yeah, I can't wait for the movie version to come out. You look like you're about to go down for the count again. I'm going to go grab a bite to eat. Anything I can get you?"
"Hmm?" Blair fought to open his eyes. "Did I dream it or was there a real pretty nurse here before? If there was, you think you could send her in?"
June 10th, 2002.
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