Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

A big thanks to Izzy and DC for beta-reading.

Warning: Spoilers for Cypher

The Jacket

by Starfox

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Blair Sandburg stood in front of his closet, silently contemplating his choice of clothes.

Today was the funeral of Susan Fraser, their newest serial killer's victim, whom they had found dead in her bathtub. Jim wanted to participate because he hoped that the killer would show up there and give herself away.

After rifling through his clothes for the third time, Blair came to the conclusion that he was seriously lacking black jackets.

A soft knock on the doorframe to his room pulled him out of his reverie.

Ellison leaned against the doorjamb, arms crossed in front of his chest, dressed in a black coat, blue shirt with dark blue tie, and black trousers. "Ready to go?"

Blair grimaced at the difference in their states of dressing. "Just a second, okay?" Again he searched through his closet only to end up with the same result: He didn't have any suitable jacket. Turning back to his roommate, he decided to admit his misery. "I don't have a black jacket."

Ellison digested the news silently for a few moments, then he pushed himself away from the jamb and moved toward his bedroom. Returning after a few seconds, he carried a black leather jacket. He handed it to Blair. "Here, I think it'll fit."

Sandburg took it hesitantly, then slipped into it. It was a little long in the sleeves, but otherwise a perfect fit. "Thanks, Jim."

Ellison shrugged his shoulders. "You're welcome. Now come on; let's go, before we're getting late."

The two men left the loft, closing the door firmly behind them.

********************

After the funeral and his screw-up at the church, Blair was too upset to remember to give the jacket back to Jim. The next day he was running late as per usual, so he didn't have time to transfer the contents of his pockets from one jacket to another.

And so it happened that he was still wearing Jim's jacket when he was kidnapped by David Lash.

********************

Ellison stared down at Lash's lifeless body. After a vicious fight with the serial killer, including falling down through at least two dilapidated floors, he finally shot Lash five times, ensuring that the psychopath would never kill again.

Now that he was sure that the killer was dead, he had a partner to take care of.

He slowly made his way back upstairs, ignoring his many aches and pains - results of his tumble down the floors.

As he regained the area where Blair was held captive, he extended his hearing, trying to determine how his friend was doing.

Only silence greeted him.

Jim hurried over to the dentist chair Blair was chained to and knelt down in front of his partner. To his relief, the young man was only unconscious. His heartbeat was sluggish and Ellison had trouble hearing it; even with Sentinel senses. Obviously Lash had managed to force him to swallow some of the drug.

He examined the chains that tied his partner and realized that he needed the key for the locks to get him free.

After a short search, he found the matching keys in a corner where Lash had lost them during their scuffle and started to work at the bindings. While Ellison was busy getting Blair free, the young man showed the first signs of waking. Apparently Carolyn had been right with her statement that the drug was short-acting. Sandburg moaned and started to move. He turned his head toward Jim, squinting unfocussed through half-closed lids. Obviously he didn't recognize his roommate. Then as soon as he noticed his surroundings, he began to pant and tried to struggle.

Ellison had no trouble restraining his friend's movements; Blair was just too groggy to put up much of a fight. He covered the anthropologist's hands with his own, larger ones, trying to calm him down. "Easy, Chief. It's Jim. Lash is dead; it's over. You're safe; do you understand me?"

Sandburg stilled. The wild look slowly gave way to recognition, "JJim?" The tense muscles relaxed, and Blair sank bonelessly back into the chair. "Get me loose, man. I want to get out of here," he pleaded softly."Almost done," Jim soothed. He removed the last chain and crouched in front of his friend. "You feeling all right? How much of that drug did he give you?"

The young man started to shake with reaction. "II ddon't know. I tried not to swallow." He leaned forward, propped his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. His breath came in short, wheezing gasps."This guy was totally crazy, man. He wanted to make friends; that's why he killed them." His shoulders shook, and he made a visible effort to calm himself.

Jim placed a hand on his back and started to rub in small circles. "It's okay, he's dead. He'll never hurt somebody again. Just try to relax. Backup should be here soon, then we're outta here."

The hitching in Blair's breathing slowly lessened, and he leaned forward against Jim's chest. "He wanted to be me, you know. Did you see him? He dressed like me and used a wig. I totally lost it. I told him he sucked, provoked him."

Ellison put his arms around his friend, continuing to gently stroke his back in calming circles. "You were amazing, Chief. You did everything right; you threw him off-balance, shook his confidence. And the most important thing: You kept your cool. I'm proud of you."

Blair looked up into his friend's concerned face. "Thanks, man. I thought I was going to die. How did you find me?"

Ellison ruffled his hair playfully. "I did a little sense work. Seems the tests we did paid off after all."

A small smile lit Sandburg's face. "You have to tell me about it, but now I really want to get out of here."

Jim cocked his head. He could hear the wailing sirens of their backup in the distance. Whipping out his cell phone, he contacted Simon and gave them their exact location along with the news that Lash was dead and Sandburg alive and unharmed.

After putting his cell phone in his jacket pocket, he patted Blair on the back. "Come on, Chief, time to get you to the hospital so they can check you out."

Blair grimaced but didn't object. He tried to push himself out of the chair only to nearly collapse to the floor.

Jim hastily put an arm around his waist, taking almost his whole weight. He slowly guided his friend to the stairs, and they left Lash's macabre shrine behind.

********************

A few hours later the two men finally arrived home. The doctors couldn't detect any lasting effects from the drug, except for a slight nausea. They told Blair to go home and sleep it off if possible.

Over the past hours the adrenaline rush had worn off, and now Sandburg shuffled wearily into the loft, Ellison close on his heels with a supporting hand on his back.

As Blair registered the destruction of the loft, he stopped dead in his tracks. Slowly turning to Jim, he offered an apologetic smile. "Sorry for the mess, man. I'll clean it up tomorrow."

Jim put his hands on Blair's shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze. "Chief, you had a pretty good reason for that. Don't apologize for fighting for your life. I'll take care of it. Try to get some rest."

Blair nodded and turned toward the coat rack. Slipping out of his coat, he finally noticed that he still had Jim's jacket. "Hey, Jim, I forgot to give that back. Thanks for loaning it to me."

Ellison moved over to him and took it out of his hands, then he draped it across Sandburg's shoulders. "I want you to keep it, Chief. You could use a warm coat." He ruffled Blair's hair affectionately. "Now come on, let's get you to bed."

Half an hour later, Blair was lying on his futon, exhausted beyond belief. The soft noises of Jim cleaning up the living room were a comfort to his frazzled nerves.

The thought that Jim cared enough about him to give him one of his jackets, making sure he was warm and comfortable, spread an incredible warmth inside him as he finally surrendered to his exhaustion and fell asleep.

Even if nightmares came, he had somebody who would help him through them.

END

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