TIES THAT BIND

Part 3 of the "Family Tree Series".

By Lyn

FEEDBACK TO: townsend297@ozemail.com.au

DISCLAIMER: All characters of The Sentinel are the property of Paramount and Petfly. This story has been written for my own and others’ enjoyment. No copyright infringement is intended.

CATEGORY: Missing scene, Part Three of a continuing series.

SPOILERS: Cypher.

RATING: PG-13 (V) (L)

AUTHOR’S NOTES: This story began as an insignificant little missing scene for the episode, "The Debt" which left a few unanswered questions that bugged me enough, I felt driven to write my own answers. My friend, Chrysalis, asked for a sequel to that and it has grown from there. "You have a lot to answer for, Ruth." (bg)

It is probably advisable to read the first two parts of this series to understand where this is going. Though I guess it does okay as a stand-alone missing scene too.

Part one is "Shelter"; Part two is "Links to the past". Both can be found at my website.

I always vowed never to do a Cypher missing scene. There are so many writers out there vastly more talented to do the job, and they have. The episode, however, fell right into the middle of my series, so I took advantage of it.

I hope you enjoy it.

Portions of dialogue were taken from the Cypher transcript by Becky. Her episode transcripts can be found here:

http://geocities.com/TelevisionCity/3650/ts.htm

Blair arched up, muscles straining as he fought to escape the chair. He clamped his jaw shut against the invading liquid and whipped his head from side to side in a futile attempt to escape the grasping hands. As his nostrils were pinched closed, he held his breath until black spots danced in his vision and the headache from the earlier blow to his head pounded in concert with his heart.

With his strength rapidly waning, he was unable to fight any longer and opened his mouth to gulp greedily at the stale air, only to taste the drug, its bitter tang the passport to his death. He choked as his throat was stroked and the liquid slipped easily down, his gasping breath causing some to be inhaled into his heaving lungs.

"Police! Freeze!"

The weight suddenly gone from his chest, Blair turned to spit what fluid remained in his mouth and grinned triumphantly at Jim. A split second later, his body began to shake from the adrenaline overload and his heart felt as though it would burst from his chest. Then his relief turned to horror as Jim fell on the booby-trapped step and crashed heavily to the ground, his gun skittering across the floor.

Lash took advantage of Jim’s tumble and tried to run from the room but Jim reacted quickly and threw his formidable frame against the fleeing man, pinning him to the wall. With strength borne of desperation, Lash heaved himself forward causing Jim to stumble backwards and then both men were barreling out of control across the room. Blair strained against the chains that bound him, trying to see what was happening and screamed in fright as both men crashed through a large window. He heard their cries echo as they fell through rotten boards to the floor below.

~o0o~

Lash recovered first, pulling himself up on shaky legs and reaching for a large piece of timber. Jim rolled to his side and fumbled for his back up weapon, pulling it free of the holster as he surged to his feet. The wood smashed hard against his hand, numbing it and the second gun flew out of his grasp to go sailing over the landing to the level below.

Lash wasted no time in scurrying down the stairs toward it and Jim knew his only chance lay in reaching the ground first. He launched himself from the top of the stairs, his breath driven from his lungs as he landed heavily on a pile of discarded boxes and paper that collapsed beneath his weight. His scrabbling fingers found purchase on the gun just as Lash rushed at him with a frenzied scream and Jim had no time to do anything but pull the trigger.

The murderer’s body flew backwards under the onslaught as Jim emptied his weapon into him and Lash's body crashed over the edge to land in a boneless heap on the basement floor, his dead eyes staring sightlessly upward.

Jim turned and trudged wearily up the steps. His eagerness to get back to Blair was tempered by his aching body and heaving lungs. As he stepped back into Lash’s lair, he saw Blair struggling frantically against the chains that bound him, desperately trying to throw himself out of the dentist chair.

"All right, buddy," Jim soothed. He rushed forward and held the frightened young man back against the seat with one hand as he searched the nearby desk and floor for tools to release him. "It’s all over, Sandburg. Let me see if I can find something to cut you loose with."

Blair took a gulping breath and nodded, his tenuous hold on his emotions obvious in his fisted hands and ghost white face.

"Cutters, there. F-floor," he whispered past clenched teeth and Jim followed his gaze down to the bolt cutters lying partly concealed under the desk. The implement made short work of freeing Blair and he catapulted himself from the chair. Jim sprang forward to catch him as his eyes widened in surprise and his knees buckled beneath him.

"Take it easy, Chief. You’ve had a nasty shock. Let’s get you down on the floor till you get some strength back."

Jim lowered the shaking body to the floor and tried to push Blair to lie back but Sandburg struggled, pulling on Jim’s hands until he sat, his knees drawn to his chest and his head pillowed on them.

"Did you swallow any of that stuff he poured down your throat?" Jim asked, gently stroking Blair’s heaving back.

Blair’s head shot up in alarm and he stared at Jim with a frightened expression. "I don’t know. Think so. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop him. I’m sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry for, Chief," Jim soothed. "You did everything right."

"Yeah?" Blair smiled shakily at the praise. "Thanks, Jim."

Both men started at the sound of footsteps pounding up the stairs, muted voices calling their names.

Jim smiled and ruffled Blair’s unruly hair. "Here comes the cavalry."

~o0o~

Blair sat with his back against the wall as far away from the chair that had held him captive as he could. He was wrapped in a blanket and he clutched it about him tightly as he watched Jim, Simon and the other officers walking through the scene of Lash’s insane fantasies. The dentist chair loomed like a specter out of the darkness and he looked away quickly to escape the sight.

"Shit! Look out!"

As Blair’s blurry gaze fixed on the wheelchair swinging aimlessly from the ceiling, a shadow fell across him and then he was pushed heavily to the ground amidst a riot of clothing. He rolled to his back and pushed at the body on top of him, only to come face to face with the unseeing eyes of Susan Frasier.

He let out a shriek of sheer terror and scrambled up, running madly for the stairs, not hearing the voices that pleaded with him to stop, conscious only of the moans of the long dead victims of David Lash.

His legs gave way on the second to last step and he tumbled head over heels, to land hard on the cold wet ground outside the warehouse. He scrambled quickly to his hands and knees and scurried toward a sheltered corner where he crouched, his hands pushed firmly against his ears, rocking violently to and fro.

~o0o~

Jim ran down the stairs with Simon and Carolyn close on his heels.

"What on earth was that all about?" Carolyn asked. "He acted like he’d seen a ghost."

Jim rounded on her, his blue eyes blazing. "He’s been kidnapped, drugged, threatened with death. I’m amazed he kept it together as long as he did. If you hadn’t knocked the fucking mannequin flying…"

He turned his back on her and concentrated on finding Blair. The racing heartbeat and whispered pleas came from just around the corner of the warehouse and Jim motioned everybody back, signaling to Simon to keep the area clear before he walked slowly around the corner.

This side of the warehouse was devoid of light and Jim dialed up his sight. He spotted Blair just ahead of him, crouched low on the ground, his hands clasped over his ears, a thin trickle of blood snaking its way from his hairline to his jaw.

"Blair? It’s okay, it’s only me," he whispered and he crouched down and slowly made his way forward.

Blair continued to rock, seemingly unaware of his partner’s presence and Jim’s concern grew. He reached out a hand and laid it gently on Blair’s shoulder, patting softly. When Blair did not attempt to shake off his touch, he sidled forward again until he was close enough to wrap an arm around the young man’s shoulders.

"Gave you quite a fright, huh?" he asked. "Took about ten years off my life too."

He placed a hand over Blair’s and uncurled the fingers from around his ears. At that, Blair started, his body raising up as though to run once more, but Jim kept his arm securely around his shoulder and pulled him close, relieved when Blair relaxed into the embrace.

"Jim," he whispered, his voice muffled against Jim’s chest. "I could hear them crying. They’re all dead."

"Shh," Jim soothed, continuing to rock Blair gently. "It’s over. Lash is dead. He won’t be hurting anyone else."

"Jim?" Simon’s stage whisper startled them both and Jim felt a tremor run through Blair’s huddled body. "Paramedics are here."

Jim nodded and leaned back to look at Blair. He wiped away the blood that was still dribbling down Blair’s face and smiled at him. "Let’s get you checked out, all right?"

Blair started to shake his head, then sighed and acquiesced. "I’ve got a headache," he admitted.

"The doctor can give you something for that. Probably from when you fell down the stairs."

He felt Blair shake his head against his chest as he pulled him into a standing position.

"Had it before, prolly, prob’ly, when he chased me. Hit my head on…on the table."

Jim nodded and then began to walk the two of them back toward the waiting ambulance, aware that Blair’s breathing and heart rate were slowing, his body beginning to shut down.

"Don’t feel so good."

The words were barely a whisper, but Jim heard them easily, cursing as the young man’s knees buckled beneath him. He managed to get an arm underneath Blair’s legs and with Simon steadying the unconscious man’s lolling head, he raced for the ambulance.

~o0o~

Jim pushed open the door to the loft and leaned it up against the wall with one hand as he ushered his partner inside with the other. He took off his own jacket and hung it on the hook, then when Blair simply stood, listing off to one side, his eyes staring vacantly into space, pulled his jacket from his unresisting arms and steered him toward his bedroom.

The detective pushed the curtain separating Blair’s small room from the rest of the apartment and managed to half carry Blair to his bed. He sat him on the edge of the futon and began to unbutton his shirt. Blair was having none of it though. He batted Jim’s hands away impatiently and mumbling incoherently, flopped bonelessly down onto the mattress. Jim sighed and watched as Blair turned to his side, facing the wall, his breathing deepening almost instantly into sleep.

Deciding that rest was more important right now, Jim got to his feet and pulled the blankets up around Blair’s shoulders, tucking them in firmly then stroking the sweaty forehead before he turned and left the room. Hesitating for only a moment, he reached out to the desk and switched on the lamp, angling its beam away so that it bathed the room in a muted orange glow. There would be nightmares tonight, he had no doubt of that and Blair would not be the only one suffering them.

He walked over to the front door and stood for a moment as he debated the best way to keep them secure for the night, then decided it was all too much trouble. He lifted the door away from the wall and maneuvered it back into place, then jammed a chair under the door handle. Not exactly secure, he thought, but if anyone tried to get in, he figured the noise would wake him.

He pulled a beer from the fridge and walked over to slump tiredly onto the couch, before taking a long swallow of the icy brew. He placed the beer on the coffee table, its taste suddenly bitter and unpleasant and scrubbed his hands over his weary face.

Blair had remained unresponsive during the trip to the hospital, Jim’s fear mounting steadily with each passing minute as his senses registered his partner’s falling heart rate and temperature. He had regained consciousness violently as the paramedics had prepared to lift him from the gurney to the examination table. He kicked and hit out at both doctors and nurses, screaming in abject terror until the doctor had sent for Jim, fearful of giving him any further sedation.

Jim had enveloped the frightened man in a firm bear hug, whispering assurances until Blair began to relax once more. Jim hitched himself up onto the table and pulled Blair up against him, so that he rested cocooned in Jim’s arms.

The doctor had wanted to admit Blair for observation, still concerned over his hypothermia and obvious disorientation but Blair had panicked at the words and they had come to a compromise, after Blair had insisted that Jim admit to his medical training.

"Jim always looks after me," Blair had confided to the startled doctor, his eyes struggling to focus, the pupils dilated from the after effects of the chloral hydrate. " When my home blew up, he let me stay with him and he still hasn’t told me to move out, even after Larry trashed the place."

So it was agreed. They would warm him up and Blair would stay for four hours observation. If his vital signs began to near the normal range and stayed constant, he could go home. The doctor thought some of his symptoms could be attributed to a mild concussion sustained when he had tried to flee from Lash at the apartment and then again by falling down the stairs at the warehouse.

Finally, the doctor had agreed to release his patient with strict instructions to return should his condition worsen.

"I’m sure he’ll be fine in a day or so, Detective. All he really needs now is to sleep off the effects."

"Don’t we all?" Jim muttered now. He made himself comfortable on the couch, bunching up a cushion from the other chair under his head and draping the afghan over him as his eyes drooped closed, his hearing still attuned to the steady heartbeat in the bedroom under the stairs.

~o0o~

"Oh man," Blair groaned as he stumbled bleary eyed from his room. "At least tell me I won the fight."

Jim grinned as he walked down the stairs buttoning his shirt. "You did, indeed. How are you feeling this morning?"

Blair wandered into the kitchen and pulled a jug of juice from the fridge. Lifting it to his lips he drank thirstily. "You know, okay," he replied, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

Jim reached past him and pulled a glass from the cupboard, offering it to him. "Rough night, huh?"

"I’m sorry if I kept you awake. I don’t really remember much about it after you got me out of that chair," Blair answered, pouring more juice into the glass.

"It’s okay," Jim assured him. "I had my own share of nightmares last night."

Blair stared down at his glass for a moment then picked it up and drained it. "I am so thirsty. My mouth feels like the Sahara."

"The doctor said that’s a side effect of the chloral hydrate."

"What doctor? You took me to the hospital?" Blair asked, his eyes wide. "I don’t remember any of that."

Jim shrugged and patted his shoulder sympathetically. "Lash got some of the chloral into you and combined with the concussion you got when he attacked you here, it knocked you around a little bit."

Blair took a look around the loft. He walked into the living room and stooped to pick up a shard of broken pottery. "Oh God, what a mess. I’m sorry, man."

"No big deal," Jim assured him. "Easily fixed. I’d rather have you in one piece."

"Thank you," Blair said.

Jim stood for a moment feeling a little abashed at the emotion he felt. Last night made him realize that Blair had come to mean a lot more to him than just someone who could help him control his senses. It had been entirely too close for comfort.

"Why don’t I fix us some breakfast," he suggested, his voice a little shaky. "Simon wants a statement as soon as you feel up to it."

Blair nodded. "Let’s get it over with."

He pulled his T-shirt up to his face and grimaced. "Guess I should shower first. Don’t cook breakfast for me though. My stomach is still feeling a little upset from that drug."

"Okay, I’ll make you some tea." Jim watched Blair disappear into the bathroom then went back to the kitchen to start breakfast.

Jim had a steaming cup of tea waiting on the table when Blair came out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist.

"Looks like you put up quite a fight," Jim said, walking over before Blair could disappear into his bedroom. He ran a gentle hand over the black and blue marks discoloring both shoulders and peppering his back. "Do you hurt anywhere else?"

"Everywhere," Blair answered, then smiled. "I’m okay, sore muscles, that kind of thing."

He held up his arms for Jim’s inspection. Dark bruises encircled both wrists overlaid with broken skin where Blair had struggled to free himself.

"This was the worst," he said quietly. "Being chained up, having no control over what he did to me. Knowing what he did to the others." He looked up, a worried frown creasing his forehead. "He is dead, isn’t he? I didn’t imagine that, did I?"

Jim shook his head and patted Blair’s shoulder. "He’s dead."

He smiled as Blair released a deep breath. "Why don’t you get dressed and we’ll go downtown, get your statement out of the way. I already called the University for you. Martin Scott can cover your classes for a day or two. Maybe I could swing a day off."

Blair smiled. "That would be great."

 

~o0o~

By the time Blair finished giving his statement on the events of the previous night, his eyes were drooping once more. Jim had to type up his own report on the case and Blair sat at the desk beside him, finally succumbing to his exhaustion with a soft sigh as he dropped his head onto his folded arms.

Simon came out and took the file from Jim, then stood watching Blair sleep.

"He looks pretty rough. Are you sure he’s okay?"

Jim nodded and stood up, stretching and yawning. "He’ll be all right. Just needs a couple of days’ rest. I’ll take him home. Any chance I could take the rest of the day off?"

"Take tomorrow as well," Simon replied. "Today’s almost over anyway."

"Thanks, Simon." Jim turned back to his partner and shook his shoulder gently, stepping back as Blair startled. "Easy, Chief. Let’s go home."

Blair looked around for a moment, looking a little dazed, then nodded. As he stood up, Henri poked his head inside the door. "Hey guys, you’ve got to come see this. You’re on TV, Jim."

Jim walked over to take his jacket from the hook and handed Blair his, smiling at the ribbing coming from the other detectives, feeling the flush of embarrassment color his cheeks. Damn reporter made me sound like some kind of cartoon superhero.

"You know, the Chinese believe when you save a man's life you become his blessed protector and it's your duty to do that for the rest of your life," Blair said as they turned to head toward the elevator.

"Really?" Jim replied, grinning. " Well, here's today's rescue -- call Christine. Beg, crawl, whatever you got to do."

"I'm pretty good at that, huh?"

" Don't ever lie to her," Jim continued. " Remember -- trust, commitment."

"Speaking of commitment, I've been thinking about getting a Cascade P.D. insignia tattooed right on my chest." Blair cast a sideways glance at his partner, waiting for the inevitable reaction to his words.

"Above the nipple ring?" Jim asked casually.

Blair’s mouth dropped open. "How did you know about that?"

Jim turned to him and smiled. "Let me tell you something. You get a tattoo and your blessed protector's going to kick your ass down seven flights to the lobby."

"Whoa, there, tough guy! C'mon, you really think I'd put something on my body I couldn't take off? I was just kidding."

As they entered the elevator side by side, Blair took another shot. "Although an earring would be nice. You know something tasteful. Maybe a small silver badge."

He smacked Jim playfully on the back and then, as the doors closed, leaned back against the wall, closing his eyes for a moment. "I’m really wiped."

"Getting kidnapped by serial killers will do that to you," Jim said dryly.

Blair opened his eyes to give him a suitable glare but Jim was smiling gently at him.

"I thought I was going to be too late last night," Jim whispered. "You don’t know how relieved I was to hear you shouting at Lash." He shrugged his shoulders and tried for a lighter tone. "Guess I’ve gotten used to having you around. The loft would be too quiet without you there."

Blair smiled back at his blessed protector. "That stuff you said earlier about trust and commitment and never lying? I need to see my grandfather."

FIN

To Be Continued in Part Four – "Coda"

 

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