Partners

By: Lyn

FEEDBACK TO: townsend297@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are not mine. This fanfiction has been written for my own and others’ enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: I got my calendar from Dawn in the post today. My prize for my Calendar fic, "Packing up" and the picture shows Blair fronting up to Jim, in his face, and it gave me a plot bunny.

So, Dawn, this one’s for you as a thank you for the calendar you sent all the way down under.

Not betaed. Feedback welcome on or offlist. No betaing please. I’ll choose my own.

Blair Sandburg swallowed past the lump in his throat and took another step closer to the crazy holding a gun on his best friend. Jim was kneeling on the ground in front of him; a gash above his eye still bled freely, gumming up his rapidly swelling eyelid.

Blair thought carefully about what he was going to say, and prayed that Jim would know that this was one time that he was the expert. He remembered the argument they’d had that morning in the police station garage over the fact that Blair wasn’t a cop and how he never did what Jim told him to do.

Blair didn’t think he’d ever seen Jim so angry before and then he’d looked at his friend more closely. He’s scared, he realized with surprise. Blair recognized the look for what it was because it mirrored what he knew Jim saw in his own eyes so often.

0~0~0~0~0

Earlier:

"Damn it, Sandburg. You’re not a cop," Jim ranted as he paced in front of the truck.

Blair grabbed his arm and pulled the detective toward the elevator, away from the curious stares of other officers in the garage.

"What was I supposed to do?" Blair asked, squaring his jaw, preparing for the verbal sparring that always occurred after an experience such as this. "Sit in the truck and watch them shoot you?"

"They almost killed you, and you put two other officers at risk by barging in there," Jim answered, fretfully running a hand through his hair. "If Simon hadn’t been right behind you…" He didn’t finish the sentence. He didn’t need to.

Blair nodded. "I know," he replied softly. "I’m sorry. But I can’t be your guide in the truck, Jim. I can’t sit out there and watch them carry your dead body out, knowing that if I’d been there backing you up, it might not have happened."

Jim groaned and accepted the stalemate. "Come on," he said, pushing Blair into the elevator. "You’ve got paperwork to do and then as penance, you can buy me lunch."

"The paperwork is the penance, man," Blair groused good-naturedly, pleased that the dark mood had dissipated for now. "Buying you lunch is a cakewalk after correcting your spelling mistakes."

Jim grinned and cuffed him amiably on the back of the head.

0~0~0~0~0

Blair looked at the sweating man in front of him and then at the gun that ground into Jim’s temple. He was encouraged to think that this was one time that not being a cop might work in his favor.

The anthropologist licked his dry lips and took another step forward, resolutely ignoring the pleading looks from his friend. "You want a hostage, man, to get you out of the city? You’ve picked the wrong guy there," he began.

"Sandburg." Jim’s voice growled low and menacingly.

"Shut up, Jim," Blair breathed, knowing the sentinel would either hear him or read his lips. "I’m trying to save both our asses here."

The perp lifted his jaw belligerently. "What the fuck are you talking about?"

Blair indicated Jim with his chin. "He’s a cop. A nobody." His spirits lifted as he watched the gunman’s puzzlement grow. "He knows the risks. They are not going to let you out of here just because you’re holding a cop hostage. Casualty of war, man. That’s all he is."

"Who the fuck are you?"

"Me?" Blair smiled a feral grin. "I’m someone important. Someone who can get you out of here."

"How you figure that? You’re a cop, too."

Blair shook his head. "No way, man. I’m better. I’m his best friend."

"Sandburg, shut up," Jim shouted.

The gunman swung his weapon sideways and Blair flinched as it connected once more with Jim’s head. The detective fell sideways, then staggered almost immediately back to his knees, shaking his head to clear the fog. Blood from a new wound ran down his cheek and dripped off his chin.

The man wasted none of his attention on his current hostage, save for tightening his grip around Jim’s throat. He pushed the gun back into Jim’s temple and focused his attention back on Blair.

"If you’re his best friend, how’s that help me?"

Blair rolled his eyes as though he had to state the obvious. "Because he will do anything to keep me safe. If that means letting you go, he’ll do it. Right, Jim?"

"You lay a hand on him, I’ll take you apart with my bare hands," Jim growled.

The detective struggled against the grip on his throat, stopping only when the gunman slowly moved the gun away from his head and aimed it at Blair. Blair’s heart skipped a beat. He wasn’t sure whether to attribute the phenomenon to his absolute fear or his elation that his plan was working.

//Way to go, big guy,// he thought. //We have a winner.//

The criminal wasn’t willing to throw in his cards just yet. "What about the other cops?"

"You’ve got it made," Blair said. "They’ll bargain for me. I’m Joe Public, man. They can’t risk anything happening to me." He allowed himself a grin. "It’s an election year."

The perp was obviously torn. Suddenly, he brought the gun up once more and slammed it into the back of Jim’s head. Jim collapsed bonelessly to the ground and Blair had the terrifying thought that he’d just made the worst mistake of his life.

The gunman trained the weapon on him and reached for his arm. He pulled him up against his chest then wrapped a strong arm around his throat. Blair fought against the suffocating hold, wincing as the muzzle of the gun ground deeply into his skull.

"All right," the other man said. "Let’s get out of here. Remember, no tricks."

Blair barely managed to nod his head before he was dragged backward through the store door, his eyes fixed on the unmoving body of his friend.

0~0~0~0~0

Jim stirred and groaned then rolled over onto his back. He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs from his mind and groaned once more as the movement awakened the pounding in his skull. The pain also served to sharpen his memory and he staggered to his hands and knees, forcing his shaky limbs to support him, before he staggered drunkenly toward the doorway of the store.

Pressing himself instinctually against the doorframe, he poked his head out and was surprised and overwhelmingly relieved to see the thief ahead of him, dragging a stumbling Sandburg toward his car. One hand was wrapped securely around his partner’s throat; the other held a gun to Blair’s head.

Realizing he was of no help to Blair here, where the perp could spot him at any time, Jim turned and ran for the stairs that led to the roof. Reaching his goal, he pushed down the nausea and dizziness that threatened to overwhelm him from his enforced exercise and crept quickly, bent almost double to the edge. Below him, the scene seemed all the more frightening, with Blair so far from his reach. Jim crouched down as low as he could and extended his hearing to the people below.

The detective grinned humorlessly as he heard the gunman swear softly, his heightened hearing having already picked up the approaching sirens.

"Fuck!"

"Take it easy, man," Blair soothed. "This is it. You just stay cool. Tell them what you want. They’re not going to let anything happen to me."

"Shut up! I’m trying to think."

Jim ground his jaws together as he saw the nervous man slam the gun into Blair’s face. Blair collapsed but was pulled back up quickly to lean, panting against the other man’s chest. Jim’s sight easily made out the blood dribbling slowly down Blair’s cheek, snaking under the collar of his shirt.

Jim reached down toward his ankle and pulled his backup weapon from its holster, feeling immense relief that the perp had not had time to search him for extra weapons. Sighting carefully, knowing his future depended on the next second or so, he squeezed the trigger slowly.

And cried out in agony as the gunman arched up, his body falling sideways away from Blair even as his finger tightened spasmodically on the trigger of his weapon. Blair spun sideways, slamming into the ground to lay silent and unmoving.

0~0~0~0~0

Jim looked up as a man wearing wrinkled scrubs under a white coat approached him.

"I’m Doctor Jackson. You can go in now, detective. Your partner’s a very lucky man. The bullet just grazed his forehead. He’s going to have the mother of all headaches for a few days but apart from that, he’ll be fine."

Jim nodded and stood, swaying slightly on his feet, absurdly grateful for the young man’s supportive presence at his back. His head ached and the stitches in his eyebrow and cheek itched annoyingly as the local anaesthetic wore off and sensation returned.

Slowly, he made his way to the trauma room door and pushed it open. His partner lay on his back on the examination table; a blood-spattered gown covering his body and a thin blanket pulled up to his chest. His eyes were closed, one looked as swollen as Jim’s own. His features were white and slack, the black stitches in his forehead stark against the pallor.

Jim made his way over to the bedside and sank down into the adjacent chair with an exhausted sigh. Blair’s eyelids fluttered and then one blue eye opened, roving over the ceiling before moving sideways to fix on Jim.

"Hey, Jim." Blair’s voice sounded scratchy and weak but Jim felt an enormous wave of gratitude wash over him at the sound.

He reached for Blair’s nearest hand and squeezed it lightly. "Why?" he whispered.

Blair’s head lolled sideways and Jim could see the lines of exhaustion and pain marring the young man’s face. "Because it was the only way to keep both of us safe."

When Jim raised an eyebrow, he continued. "Because you’re my Blessed Protector," he said. " I knew you would do anything to keep me safe."

Blair gulped a breath and Jim watched as a single tear welled in his one good eye and trickled down his bruised cheek. "And because I’m not a cop and I’m not sure that, if the positions were reversed, I could have done the same for you."

Jim reached over and wiped the trail of moisture away with his thumb. "You did good, partner," he said.

FIN

-5.2.01

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