Ride Of A Lifetime
NOTES: This is a missing scene of a sort. I was watching some eps a few weeks ago and something Blair said struck me, then the muse started hitting me over the head with this little idea.
Thanks, as always to Annie, Tate and Amz for the beta.
"What the !" Blair stared up in utter confusion at a clear, bright, sunny sky, then down at where his hands were cuffed to the railing of some kind of open car. He tried to stand only to be brought up short by the manacles biting into his wrists then he was abruptly slammed back into his seat with a jolt as the car shuddered and began to trundle upwards. "What's going on here?"
He squinted into the sun and saw a line of similar cars, preceding him up the slope. All appeared to be empty. He shook his head. It couldn't be - it was as though he was handcuffed to a -
Laughter wafted up to him from below and he fought the urge to look down but eventually his curious and befuddled mind had other ideas and he craned his neck, attempting to keep his quaking body away from the edge. "Oh God."
People strolled around a fairground. From this distance, they looked like ants and were seemingly oblivious to Blair's plight. "Hey!" Blair panicked, his stomach churning with nausea, his head spinning with vertigo as the revelers below got further away. He wrenched at the cuffs, succeeding only in sending shards of burning pain through his wrists.
Blair's frantic eyes searched the ground far below until he finally spotted the too distant figure of his partner, running through the crowd, pushing aside anyone who got in his way. "Up here!" Blair shouted. "Jim! I'm up here!"
"Sandburg!" Jim had paused now, looking around frantically, not appearing to hear Blair's panicked shouts.
Why can't he hear me? What the hell is going on here?
Blair watched Jim, his eyes suddenly burning with tears as the Sentinel ran off again, finally disappearing from sight. Blair slumped back, his breath coming in frightened gasps, his chest tight. This couldn't be happening. Last thing he remembered was saying goodnight to Jim.
Now it seemed while they had both slept, deeply exhausted from handling Jim's latest case, some whacko had broken into the loft and kidnapped Blair. How'd he get him out though? He knew what it felt like to be drugged but he felt clear-headed enough, despite the fear assailing him. Still, he couldn't remember anything beyond watching Jim climb the stairs. Jim apparently hadn't heard a thing. Blair was beginning to rue the day he'd bought those white noise earplugs for his partner. "Some Sentinel you are!" he shouted in frustration. "I'm up here!"
Nothing. The cars appeared to have reached the pinnacle of their climb upward and with a dizzying lurch that forced a scream from Blair's throat, his car surged abruptly over the edge and teetered in gravity-defying balance on the precipice of what appeared to be a bottomless dive. Blair closed his eyes as the car began to rock backward and forward, slowly gaining momentum, as though it were readying itself for the final plunge.
"Hey there, Chief."
Blair's eyes snapped open at the familiar voice. His partner sat in the car behind him and Blair could just see him if he twisted in his seat to the maximum stretch of the handcuffs. "Jim! How did you -" The questions could wait till later. "Get me out of here!"
Jim smiled lazily. "What's the matter, Sandburg? Not enjoying the roller coaster ride?"
The car slipped forward suddenly, snapping Blair's attention back to his predicament and he screamed as the ground rushed up to meet him .
Jim knew Blair was here somewhere. The serial killer they'd been chasing had gotten cocky and decided Jim was getting too close. In an act of bravado and revenge, he'd taken Jim's partner. The Sentinel had only turned his back for a moment and Blair was gone. "Sandburg!" he shouted. Nothing.
Pausing for a moment, he searched his surroundings. They were in a maze of some kind. Warped mirrors dotted throughout sent the world askew and rendered Jim's sentinel sight almost useless, keeping him on the verge of zoning out. He extended his hearing. Nothing. It was as though his ears were stuffed with cotton. He'd finally reached a point where his hypersenses had been rendered useless at a time when he needed them most.
A gunshot rang out, crashing against his suddenly restored eardrums and sending him to the ground in a maelstrom of agony. "Sandburg!" he shouted, though he could not hear his own voice over the reverberating pounding in his head. "No!"
Blair surged up in his bed, his abrupt movement almost sending him to the floor in a tangle of legs and bedding. He was in his room dark, comforting, blessedly familiar. He leaned forward and scrubbed shaky hands over his eyes, trying to drag air into lungs that seemed to have forgotten how to expand.
Reaching out, he switched on his bedside light and gazed around in relief. Just a bad dream. A doozy of one but a dream nonetheless. His sweats were damp with perspiration but he felt incredibly chilled and still a little spooked. It wasn't surprising, he supposed. A lot of the cases he worked on with Jim gave him the horrors and this had been one of the worst.
They'd come home late after finally catching a serial killer, responsible for the horrifying murders of five prostitutes. They'd both been exhausted and subdued. The case had played on both their minds - Jim had been handed the investigation and had the unenviable task of examining the mutilated bodies of the women - little more than girls really - up close in the search for clues. He'd picked up on Blair's reticence to get too close to the first body and suggested he wait at the truck. Blair had initially refused but the sight of the poor girl, her body eviscerated had sent him hurrying outside the warehouse where he'd puked until he was beyond empty. After that, he'd remained at the crime scenes, but at a distance, keeping a close eye on Jim, in case he was needed, guilt gnawing at him for failing as Jim's guide.
They'd finally caught a break and apprehended the killer in the act of stalking another victim. They talked around it when they got home, inconsequential topics, like how they hadn't had time to hit a grocery store and whose turn it was to clean the bathroom.
Jim's eyes were haunted, his body language tense, his words choppy and terse. Blair didn't blame him. What he'd seen of the post-mortem photos of the last four victims had been enough to make him want to toss his cookies again, and made him wonder, not for the first time what the hell he was doing, riding along with a cop, seeing firsthand, man's inhumanity to man.
He'd wanted to discuss it, apologize, vow to do better, but Jim had waved him away with a tired "Good night, Sandburg. See you in the morning."
Blair's final words to Jim had been that he'd wished they could have caught the guy before he'd progressed to the second victim, let alone five.
Jim had frowned at that then his face had become sad. "I did the best I could, Chief. I'm sorry."
"Jim, I didn't mean - I just meant -" Blair had stuttered but Jim simply shook his head and wearily climbed the stairs to his room.
Climbing out of bed, Blair headed out to the kitchen for a drink then paused and turned toward the stairs. He padded up quietly, not wanting to wake Jim. He stood on the top riser and watched Jim for a moment, allowing his partner's reassuring presence to chase the remnants of the nightmare from his mind, then turned to go back down.
"You okay?" Jim said from behind him, almost causing Blair, still a little shaky from his nighttime escapade to tumble down. Blair clutched at the railing and tried to will his pounding heart to slow.
"Shit!" he whispered. Louder, he said, "Yeah, fine. Just just had a nightmare. I'm okay."
"Want to talk about it?"
Blair turned and faced Jim who was half sitting up in the bed now, staring at him. He shook his head. "You're tired, you need your sleep."
"Wasn't sleeping," Jim said. He lay back down and stared up at the ceiling. "I was thinking about what you said, if I couldn't have done something differently, concentrated more -"
"Jim, it wasn't your fault. I didn't mean it to sound like you -"
Jim dismissed the words with a wave of his hand as he had earlier that evening. "You're right though. This guy was constantly a step ahead of us until the last minute. These senses of mine weren't worth anything in this case."
Blair took a few steps until he stood by the bed. Jim patted the mattress in invitation and Blair sat, raising his knees and wrapping his arms around them. "Your cop instincts solved the case. If you hadn't suggested going back to where he'd picked up the first girl, we might never have caught him. Like you said, it's not always about your senses. You're a good cop, Jim, with or without your abilities."
Jim patted his arm. "So are you, Chief, even though Simon keeps reminding you you're not."
Blair smiled at that. "How'd you figure it out?" Blair asked. "What made you think he'd go back to his first hunting ground?"
Jim patted the pillow beside him and Blair obediently lay down then turned onto his side so he faced Jim. "The last body was left close to where he kidnapped the first girl. It was like he was taunting us, flipping us the bird. See, I can do it right under your noses and you'll never get me."
Blair nodded, his eyes beginning to droop. "Cool," he said. "You ever thought of going into profiling?"
Jim shrugged. "I'm happy with where I am right now, partner, on and off the job."
"Me too." Blair's eyes closed and deep even breathing followed, stirring a few strands of hair plastered by dampness to his cheek.
"No more nightmares, Chief," Jim said softly, rolling to face away from his slumbering partner. "Cases like this are why I sometimes wish you'd get back on that damn merry-go-round."