PEER PRESSURE

BY: Lyn

FEEDBACK TO: townsend297@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel belong to Paramount, Petfly and others luckier than I. This fanfic was written for my own and others’ enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement was intended.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This story is for Meercat’s themefic. I hope you enjoy it, Meercat. No bonus points for me though. (sigh) Just couldn’t come up with a crossover for it.

Daryl Banks surveyed the happy throng milling about in his living room with satisfaction. It had taken some serious sucking up, not to mention, a major effort in pulling up his grades in order to convince his father to let him throw his first unsupervised party. Well, almost unsupervised. Daryl looked over at the burst of laughter from one corner of the room and grinned at the antics of his chaperone. Blair Sandburg, anthropologist and Cascade PD observer was regaling some of Daryl’s friends with an absurd and probably true tale from his experiences at some dig or another.

Daryl shook his head and wandered over to get himself a drink and something to eat from the heavily laden refreshment table. The one condition his father, Simon had placed on the party was that an adult should be present. Daryl supposed as far as chaperones went, Blair was the best choice. He was still young enough to fit in with Daryl’s friends and had insisted to Daryl that he didn’t want to be in the way. He would just be there in case something happened, that’s all. "Enjoy," he’d insisted. "Forget I’m even there."

Kind of hard to do, Daryl thought, when just about everyone you invited seemed to gravitate instinctively to the genial young man. Including every pretty young girl in the room and especially Kelly Scott, who Daryl had been contemplating asking out ever since the beginning of the school year. He saw his chance to spend some time with Kelly as Blair watched Daniel Ryan and Miguel Perez make their way upstairs and detached himself from the corner group to follow them casually upstairs. The party was strictly a downstairs affair, Simon had said. "No one in the bedrooms," he’d ordered firmly.

Blair clapped Daryl on the shoulder as he went past and winked at him. "Really happening party, Daryl, and that Kelly…" He waggled his eyebrows and whistled and Daryl blushed, hoping that his dark skin covered his embarrassment. Blair laughed outright and shook his head. He was an observer, after all.

Daryl was so caught up in chatting with the pretty Kelly that he lost all track of time until he saw Daniel and Miguel strolling back downstairs, laughing and nudging each other. Daryl frowned as he looked at his watch, then scouted the rest of the room. There was no sign of Blair anywhere and he’d gone upstairs three-quarters of an hour ago.

Hesitantly, the teenager approached Daniel and Miguel. He hadn’t actually invited these two boys to his party and Blair had voiced some doubts when they knocked at the door. "These guys aren’t on the list your dad gave me," he said, pulling Daryl to one side.

Daryl’s ego, however had been swelled to think that the two coolest guys in school would want to come to his party. Daniel explained that they’d heard about Daryl’s experiences as a prisoner of drug-runners whilst he’d been on holiday in Peru with his dad and they wanted to hear more.

"It’s fine," he assured Blair. "I did invite them. I must have forgotten to put the names on the list."

Blair nodded doubtfully and let the boys in.

Now, Daryl watched as Miguel dug Daniel in the ribs and laughed as he approached. "Hi, guys. Uh, have you seen Blair around?"

"Who?" Miguel asked, grinning inanely.

"Blair. The older guy with long hair. He went upstairs right after you did, and um, look, I’m sorry but my dad said nobody’s allowed upstairs."

Daniel stood and shrugged. "Yeah, well, that’s okay. It’s getting kind of boring anyway. We’re gonna go find another party. Later, man."

"About Blair?"

"What? Oh, right. The old guy." Miguel nodded slowly and Daryl could see now that his eyes seemed slightly unfocused. "He’s upstairs, man." He snorted with laughter and doubled over, giggling hysterically. "He’s on the roof."

Daryl’s mouth dropped open in shock at the words. "On the roof? Outside? Why? It’s freezing out there."

Miguel shrugged and giggled some more. "You got me, man. He looked out the window and started muttering something about the Christmas lights being all Golden. Next thing we knew, he was climbing out the window."

"Why didn’t you stop him?" Daryl was already hurrying toward the stairs as he spoke, the words thrown over his shoulder.

"Not our problem, man. I’m tripping fine. No way I’m chasing some weirded out whacko onto the roof. Anyway, thanks, it’s been…different." Daniel laughed uproariously at his friend’s words and the two headed for the front door.

Daryl watched them leave with disgust, then shook himself as a touch at his elbow startled him. Kelly looked at him, her pretty dark face creased with concern.

"Daryl? Is everything okay?"

"No, not really. Listen, can you help me out here?" When the girl nodded, Daryl drew her quickly to one side and whispered instructions in her ear before turning to sprint up the stairs toward his bedroom. Stepping over to the window, he sucked in a breath.

Blair was seated on the very edge of the gently sloping roof outside the window. His arms were wrapped tightly about his shuddering torso and he appeared not to notice the snow that was beginning to coat his head and shoulders.

Daryl’s room adjoined a rumpus room that Simon had built on after Daryl was born when Joan, Daryl’s mother had insisted he have a separate area to entertain his work-mates. Joan had never fitted in with the PD crowd even before she and Simon had divorced, she’d told Daryl.

Carefully, Daryl eased up the window and stuck his head out, shivering violently as an icy blast of wind nipped at his cheeks.

"Blair? What are you doing?" There was no reply and Daryl’s fear grew. "Blair? Come on, man. Why don’t you come back inside where it’s warm."

"C-Can’t."

Daryl blew out a sigh of relief that at least Blair had answered him. "Sure you can. Just get up and come back the way you went out."

Blair shook his head and Daryl’s heart skipped a beat as the anthropologist teetered for a moment on the edge. The anthropologist righted himself with one hand on the gutter, then went back to hugging himself. "I can’t move, Daryl. I’m stuck here."

‘Oh, man.’ Daryl looked back at the bedroom doorway as Kelly came running into the room. "I put some more music on and I called your dad. He’ll be here in about ten minutes and he’s bringing Jim with him." She stepped up to Daryl’s side and craned her neck to look out of the window. "Oh, God. Is he all right?"

"I don’t know," Daryl admitted. "I mean, he’s got to be freezing sitting out there with just a sweater on and I think Daniel and Miguel might have slipped him something." He pointed at an empty punch glass on the bedside table. He leaned out and called to Blair once more. "Just hang on a little longer, Blair. Dad and Jim are on the way."

"From the stakeout? Jim is gonna be so pissed at me."

"How do you think I feel?" Daryl muttered. He drew in a deep breath, then spoke again. "Blair? I’m going to come out and help you get back inside?"

There was no answer and Daryl pushed the window further open, then began to clamber out. Kelly halted his movement. "Shouldn’t we wait for your dad to get here?"

Daryl shook his head. "I don’t know if Blair can hold on that long."

Blair spoke softly and confirmed Daryl’s fears. "Daryl? I’m not feeling too good here, man."

Daryl climbed the rest of the way onto the roof and hunkered down onto all fours. The wind had picked up, whipping at his clothes and he blinked the snow from his eyes. Taking another deep breath, he began his slow crawl toward the figure huddled at the edge of the roof. He tried to push down the fear of heights that had developed ever since a terrorist named Garett Kincaid had dangled him out of a police precinct window several stories up just a few years before. "I’m almost there, Blair. Just don’t look…"

"Too late," Blair’s shaky voice said, and Daryl could see that the anthropologist’s gaze was fixed unwaveringly on the snowy ground several feet below. He was close enough to touch Blair’s icy hand now and Daryl sat up on his butt and scooted as close to the edge as he dared.

Blair looked up finally at his approach, his face white and waxy looking. "Hey, man." His teeth chattered violently and his entire body vibrated with cold. "Sorry."

Daryl shook his head and tried to look calm. "No biggie, man. It’s cool. Come on, it’s freezing out here. Let’s go inside and warm up."

"I’m down with that," Blair replied, then his eyes slid back toward the edge and in a sudden heart-stopping move, he surged up from his seated position. In the same instant that Daryl reached out a despairing, restraining hand, Blair wavered, then toppled over the edge as his foot slipped out from under him.

Daryl screamed in agony as Blair’s full bodyweight dangled suddenly from his hand, wrenching his shoulder from its socket. Clenching his teeth, he scrabbled for purchase on the roof as he felt himself being dragged inexorably toward the edge. Peripherally, he was aware of Kelly’s terrified screaming and directly below him, muffled grunts of pain. He wrapped the fingers of his free hand tightly around the edge of the gutter and attempted to pull Blair back toward him and was rewarded with renewed agony shredding up his arm. He looked down into Blair’s pale face, blood dribbling now from a gash over one eye and further down, he could see the upturned terrified face of his father.

"Daddy," Daryl whispered in the frightened tone of that little boy from so long ago. "Help me."

"Daryl." He turned his attention back to Blair as the anthropologist called his name. "Let me go. It’s all right."

Daryl’s eyes widened in shock. "No! I can’t. I can’t."

"Sure you can. It’s okay. You did good." Blair’s voice was calm, his voice serene and Daryl tightened his grip as he felt the other man begin to uncurl his fingers.

"Sandburg? Hold on. I’m coming." Suddenly, Jim was there, propping a ladder against the wall and scaling it rapidly. Daryl let out a sob of relief as Jim caught Blair’s drooping body by the waist and the pressure was released from his shoulder. Jim looked up and smiled. "It’s okay, buddy. You can let go now."

Daryl nodded but it seemed an eternity before he could force his numb hand to obey his command. Finally, he drew his hand up and rolled onto his back on the roof, curling into a ball of misery as he sobbed in pain and fright. Then, his father was beside him, picking him up like a small child, enfolding him in his strong arms and carrying him carefully back to the bedroom window. Simon laid him on the bed and piled the bedclothes over him, then stroked a trembling hand over his forehead. "You did good, son. You did good."

0~0~0~0~0

Daryl looked up from his seat on the gurney where a doctor was settling his still throbbing arm into a sling. He smiled wanly as Jim stepped into the room and gave him a thumbs-up. "He’s gonna be okay?" The teenager breathed a sigh of relief when Jim nodded. "Can I see him?"

Jim helped Daryl down from the gurney and held the door open for him. "For a few minutes. He’s sedated, he’s still having a few hallucinations off and on and he’s beginning to hurt from the circulation coming back in his hands and feet."

They stopped outside a second trauma room and Jim put a hand on Daryl’s arm. "Daniel and Miguel are being taken to the station as we speak, and I think your dad has a few things he wants to say to you." He smiled at Daryl’s grimace. "But I wanted to say thanks for helping Blair out. It was a very brave thing you did. Stupid, but brave."

"Daryl?" The two looked up as Kelly Scott came running toward them, followed by a tall, worried looking man. "Are you okay?"

"I’m fine," Daryl assured her. "Just a dislocated shoulder."

"I was worried about you," Kelly said. She indicated the other man. "I begged my dad to bring me down here. You are the bravest person I know." Daryl reddened as she leaned forward and gently kissed his cheek.

"I’m just going to go get your dad to sign you out," Jim said, grinning at Daryl’s discomfiture. Daryl nodded, then turned back to Kelly. "Jim said I can see Blair for a minute. Can you wait? My dad and I could drop you home."

Kelly smiled and reached for his hand. "Sure. I’ll go tell my dad. I’ll wait out here for you. Say hi to Blair for me."

"I will." Taking a deep breath, Daryl pushed the trauma room door open. Blair lay on the examination table with his eyes closed. He had numerous blankets piled over him and Daryl had to step right up to the bedside in order to see his face clearly.

Blair’s eyes opened slowly and blinked owlishly at him, then he smiled lazily. He had four small black stitches in the cut in his head and one wrist was heavily bandaged. Jim said Blair had sprained it when Daryl grabbed him as he fell. An IV dripped warm saline into his other hand and an oxygen mask puffed humidified air into his lungs. He looked washed-out and exhausted but Daryl was gratified to see the recognition in his eyes.

"Daryl! I was hoping you’d stop by. How are you, man?" His gaze flickered to the sling. "How’s your shoulder?"

Daryl shrugged, then winced. "It’ll be fine in a few days. How about you?"

"Hey, right now, they’ve got me on some sort of happy juice and I’m feeling no pain, man."

Daryl nodded, then he looked down and fiddled with the frayed edge of the topmost blanket. "I’m sorry," he began, clearing his throat as his voice faltered. He tried again. "I’m sorry for what they did to you, Blair. I swear I had no idea that they had drugs on them."

"You weren’t to know," Blair assured him but Daryl shook his head.

"I lied to you. I told you that they were supposed to be on the list. They weren’t, I was just so rapt that the coolest guys in school wanted to come to my party."

"I kind of suspected that, so I’m partly to blame," Blair said. "I promised your dad I’d follow his instructions to the letter and I let them in anyway. You saved my life, Daryl. Thank you." Daryl nodded silently. "Daryl? You did a really brave thing out there. Let yourself off the hook already. Life’s a learning curve. Learn from this."

Finally, the teenager looked at Blair and smiled tremulously. "Thanks," he whispered. "I just hope my dad is going to be as understanding. Somehow, I doubt that. I think I’m gonna be grounded until I’m thirty-five."

Blair snorted with laughter. "I’m am not going there, man. You’re on your own. I’m going to have my own problems with a certain cop with a mother hen complex."

"Daryl?" The young man turned to see Jim hovering in the doorway. "Your dad’s waiting outside for you."

Daryl nodded, then smiled as Blair reached out and squeezed his hand. "Time to face the music, buddy."

Taking a deep breath, Daryl brushed by Jim and walked out to meet his father. He couldn’t hold back a grin as he heard Blair’s voice. "Jim, I’m fine. I don’t need another blanket. Okay, thank you. Are you happy now? Will you sit down and quit hovering?"

FIN

- November 24th, 2001.

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