I wondered how Ellison would feel if he got back as good as he could give. This is my exercise in punishing the character who seemed oblivious to the hurt he often caused. Takes place a bit after the 'Crossroads' episode.
As always, I don't own them but enjoy manipulating their world. Please note I ain't no doctor and I ain't no cop, just a little old writer who fantasizes about these two whenever I can. Please - enjoy.
Tests, Tests and more Tests. Ellison had lost a bet with Blair. The bet was that Blair couldn't go an entire day without simply answering a 'yes' or 'no' question with a simple 'yes' or 'no'. In fact Ellison went as far as to inform his Captain of the bet and though both men tried their best to force the anthropologist to give one of his famous extensive answers, the guy didn't budge. Only when asked to elaborate did he then give a more extensive answer but one that was brief.
Simon was shocked but he had to admit, the kid could definitely take on a challenge.
It was two weeks after Ellison's impromptu trip away from his friends. Since that time things between he and Sandburg were a bit strained. The younger man was a bit reserved and it was Ellison's hope that this little bit of fun and games would lighten up their relationship. He trusted Blair and hoped that his friend would understand eventually come around and that maybe things would lighten up between them.
Tests. First it was how much tolerance did Ellison have against the cold. Sandburg had somehow coaxed a friend at the University cafeteria to let him place his test subject into the meat locker for 1 hour at -10 degrees. Jim tolerated the cold for the entire time, wearing only a t-shirt, jeans and socks. He also had the dials turned down. If left longer Sandburg feared that his subject's body might become frost bitten without Jim's notice. Test 1 ended successfully.
Test 2 was on scent. Ellison was to locate a rose placed somewhere in the heart of 'Molly's Fish Market'. It took 20 minutes to locate the rose, which the mad scientist hid inside the mouth of a sturgeon.
Test 3 - sight, locate the smooth ping-pong ball amidst what appeared to be thousands of golf balls at one of the local 'Goofy Golf' kid parks. Ellison hated the noisy distraction, however the mad scientist prevailed once again, "Jim, not every crime scene is in a dark and peaceful alley. You can do this. Focus!"
Focus he did. One-hour later, success, the ping-pong ball was located.
But it was the last test that pushed the already stressed out detective over the edge.
Test 4 - hearing. While standing on the balcony of the loft Ellison had to listen to some CD of some group blaring at a high pitch in the loft while trying to decipher what the mad scientist was saying to him from the Volvo which was parked across the street, with the windows down, radio also blasting music of equal annoyance, all while the mad scientist sat repeating "I won and you lost" over and over again. It took Ellison thirty minutes to figure this out since the younger man faced away from the Sentinel and forced him to rely solely on his hearing. Though successful, the music had brought on an excruciating headache and the Sentinel had had enough. Blair never saw it coming.
"Hey Jim I thought we could try a taste test. You see there is this rubber..."
"Stop it right there Junior. What do you think I am?"
Blair paused, "What? Jim the deal was tha..."
"I don't care. I am not a lab rat and you know what you can do with your damn tests." Ellison was fuming. It was a Friday evening and both men were to begin a two-day weekend free from obligations after putting 36 hours straight at the department. Bet or no, this was too damn much. Jim once again felt like a caged animal and the keeper was about to get seriously hurt.
Blair noted that the man before him was about to explode and decided it was not worth another test to see how many pieces of Blair would be strewn across the loft. "Fine, just calm down."
"Calm down. Calm down? Darwin have you any idea how it feels to be treated like some kind of thing? To be pushed to the limit and then some, all for the sake of some idiotic paper?" Ellison couldn't stop himself; the stress he felt compounded with the headache was forcing him to speak hastily and once again he failed to note the effect his words had on his friend.
"Jim, I'm not doing this for my paper. I am doing this so that we can learn the limitations of your abilities. Jeez, where do you get off yelling at me anyway? We had a deal. I won the bet, a bet you included Simon on, which was cheating, by the way, but I stuck through it and now you're yelling at me? This is important to you and the way you work. This is for your benefit not mine."
Ellison sighed. He was tired and this was not the way he intended to spend the next two days off. "Sandburg, let's see if I can get this out and avoid sounding too harsh. I really don't need another misunderstanding like last time." He sighed and spoke again, "I appreciate the way you help me with my senses, you know that, but I need a break from this Sentinel stuff. I sneeze and instead of the standard 'bless you' I get twenty questions on the cause for the sneeze. I take a bite out of a pizza and comment on the terrific tasting sauce and get quizzed on the ingredients. Kid, you're crowding me. I thought you scientists were supposed to be a bit removed from your subjects."
The two were interrupted by a call from Capt. Banks. Twenty minutes later they found themselves in the warehouse district. The building had long been abandoned but stood against the tests of time but showed signs of losing the battle. It was a four-story building that once housed a cannery and was now home to several vagrants. The body of a homeless man was found on the main level and probably wouldn't have been noticed if it weren't for the patrol cars that kept a watchful eye on the area. Initial identification indicated that the man might once have been a wealthy man who had disappeared a year ago. The need to verify this as a non-violent death was imperative. The news media would be all over this story if it indeed turned out to be Stanley Rossin, III.
Capt. Banks watched the two men study the area where the body had been found. At first it was business as usual but then he noticed the difference. Ellison was working the area. He frowned and wasn't questioned as to why. He sneezed and wasn't told to 'dial it down'. Sandburg was silently standing off to the side.
He also noted that Ellison never once asked the other if he'd prefer to avoid seeing the body. In fact, he seemed to be ignoring his partner.
Just then a patrol cop called out that living quarters were located in the back. Blair looked at Capt. Banks and then at Ellison. "I'll take a look."
The detective nodded but never looked at the other as he mumbled, "Be up in a bit."
Banks waited until he was alone with the taciturn detective, "Alright, spill."
"Don't give me that. What is up with you and the kid?"
Jim looked up and then back, "Nothing."
Banks sighed. It was bad. Ellison was never a talker but since Sandburg had started to work with the detective the man had loosened up a bit. A change his superior was grateful for. So when Det. James Ellison reverted back to grunting and one word responses, it meant serious problems. "So why is the kid upstairs and you down here?"
"Don't know what you mean? Why shouldn't he be?"
"Look normally the kid is your second shadow and you never let him out of you sight either, now all of the sudden he's - over there?"
Ellison sighed, "We just ... he was collecting on his bet. Things got a bit much. Then it was questions and commentaries and ..."
Simon sighed, "No, let me finish. Then you yelled, told him to back off and said that he was bugging you and ..."
"I just wish sometimes he'd find someone else to pester. I need time out."
"So you reneged on a bet, verbally attacked the kid and you feel you're in the right? Ellison this is the second time you've said that Sandburg is crowding you. Maybe you should sever this relationship with him before something terribly wrong is said and you get more than you're asking for." Banks looked away, "I personally don't know how you do it. Twenty-four seven, this kid is near but for what ever reason it works but it hinders your work performance then change it. Talk to him." He walked away mumbling something about the ignorance of men who have it all.
Ellison watched the other walk away and sighed.
Unknown to either man was the fact that the person whom they were discussing was able to hear everything that was being said.
Blair looked at the room around him forcing his mind to focus on the victim's living area. The man had mementos from his past life placed throughout the room. Pictures of friends, family, places he visited and in each his smile was the brightest. "Why'd you leave your life? Why end up here?"
Blair walked to the window in the dirty room and looked out. His mind recalling memories from time spent in places like this. He had never known then that he liked living in a stable home and had considered little out of the way and easily afforded rooms like this satisfactory. He never knew he liked permanency and shook his head at the idea. It was the story of his life.
Some people were gifted with a better appearance than others, some the ability to blend. Blair was gifted with too much presence, too much curiosity and way too much energy.
He often overwhelmed people with his thoughts on most subjects; hell most of his girlfriends found him a bit much. Again he sighed, Jim was right. He was a scientist and should have maintained some sort of professional distance. He never should have stayed in the loft and he never should have befriended any of Ellison's co-workers. He was not an objective observer. He was too heavily involved.
He looked at the room once more and imagined that the victim was someone that realized his friends had told him much the same thing. The pictures showed how much the victim interacted with others but Blair wondered if he was welcomed. Was the victim, was he alone in a crowded room?
The sound of heavy feet headed in his direction indicated the arrival of his - of Jim Ellison. Blair waited until he entered the room but said nothing. His mind a maelstrom of conflicting thoughts and emotions. "This was his home."
Ellison nodded as he looked at the pictures, the bed and the place where clothing was kept. All neat and a large contrast to the condition of the room that held the personal items, Nothing was disturbed but it seemed odd that the man had such clean things and idly Jim wondered who maintained the items for him. Aside from that it all appeared unsuspicious. "It looks like he died of normal causes."
Blair was about to say something when both men heard Banks tell someone that he was headed back and to get the report into him as soon as possible. "Tell Ellison ... never mind, I'll speak with him when he gets back."
Jim looked at his partner who refused to meet his gaze and realized that the room had very thin walls. "Chief ..."
"Don't. Just leave it alone."
Sandburg walked out the door hoping to avoid further discussion.
Ellison intended to get this out in the open now as he rushed to reach the other. He paused and tilted his head to listen to a sound that seemed to come from down the hallway. "What the hell?"
Suddenly there was a crashing sound. Voices shouting. "Look-out. The stairs are collapsing. Carter, Risen, get back."
Jim took off down the hallway and when he came to the corner where the stairs began and the hall ended he was forced to stop. The stairs had fallen in on itself, taking part of the second floor hall with it. Dust clouded the area preventing the worried detective from seeing anything. "Sandburg!"
Voices called out for the three men. Flashlights skimmed the area. The dust far from being settled prevented any clear visuals.
Ellison called out and then attempted to climb down using what was left of the banister but was told to hold off when bits of the wall started to crumble. Being a man who acts, he walked back down the hall, located a fire escape that appeared relatively stable and quickly climbed down.
He then ran to the front of the building and re-entered. The fire department arrived in record time and rescue efforts were underway.
Jim assisted in pulling some of the mortar, drywall and assorted debris that past vagrants had littered the stairs and hallway with. Fifteen minutes later, the three were located. The EMT's were brought in and everyone else held back. Capt. Banks arrived just when Det. Ellison was about to slug the fireman that held him away from his friend. "Jim, just let them do their jobs."
Risen was taken out first. Wedged in his left waist area was a large piece of wood. Blood was being stemmed but it looked extremely serious.
Carter was pulled out next. Then Sandburg. Both unconscious.
He paced, waited, and waited some more. A doctor entered the waiting area and asked to see Carter's wife and parents in another room. Soon a woman was sobbing and Ellison became more agitated. Carter had died from severe trauma to his spinal cord.
Banks went to assist the staff while waiting for Carter's superior to arrive.
Another doctor entered and asked for a James Ellison.
He also escorted the extremely worried and agitated man into a small room. "Sir, you are listed as Blair Sandburg's next of kin is that correct?"
"Yes. I also am listed as his Power of Attorney in Healthcare. How is he?"
"Well, sir, he received an extremely hard blow to the head and cracked two ribs. The ribs and the cuts to his hands were taken care of and he should be all right in a few days. Though he doesn't have any internal damage, it is his memory I am concerned about. He appears a bit disoriented at the moment. Didn't seem to know where he was, how he got there and so forth. Of course it is a bit early."
Banks entered the room, "Will he recover?"
The doctor looked at Ellison for permission to continue speaking and received a nod. "Yes, but as to his mind, only time will tell."
Jim shook his head, "Are you saying there is brain damage?"
The doctor sighed, "The mind is basically an uncharted area. He may have some sort of amnesia, perhaps temporary, perhaps not. As I said before we will find out in time."
Ellison looked at the doctor in frustration, "Can I see him?"
"He needs to rest and your presence might agitate him. I think it best if you stay out of his room."
Banks held off the impending response and smiled, "Doctor - uh Simms, since Ellison is listed at Sandburg's next of kin and is his Power of Attorney I beg you to reconsider."
The doctor sighed, "I want him to wake without distraction. Please, let's give his mind a moment to readjust and then you can go in. I'm only asking for five hours."
Jim was ordered to go home and change. He did so. He was told not to step into the hospital until 7 the next morning. That didn't mean he couldn't sit in the parking lot and wait.
Five hours felt like days. At 6:57 he was out of the truck and at the front desk. As he reached the room, Dr. Sims was exiting. He saw the detective and gave the man a wry smile, "A moment before you enter please?"
Ellison looked at the door, but the doctor placed a hand on his shoulder, "He'll be there but we need to talk."
Jim entered the room twenty minutes later. Sandburg's had a large band-aid on the right side of his head. His eye was swollen. Jim looked at the bandaged hands and then back at the kid's face.
Slowly as though waking in response to Ellison's mental plea, dazed blue eyes opened and looked up at sky blue eyes.
"Hey Chief, you know who I am?"
Blair frowned, looked around and then back, "A- therapist? "
Ellison fought to hide his disappointment. "How are you feeling?"
"I feel so tired and I - can't remember things. The doctor said it'll take time but ... it's all so messed up."
"Give it time."
Blair tracked the other's movements with his eyes, "I got it wrong didn't I?"
The older man was pulling a chair close to the other and paused, "Don't worry. Like Dr. Simms said it'll get better in time." He sat and smiled sadly. "Sleep. I'll watch over you."
Blair frowned again, "You a cop?"
"You ... "
Jim smiled, "Sandburg, just close your eyes. I promise it will get better in time."
Some promises are not so easily kept.
Ellison watched as the stranger that was his roommate moved about. He heated up two frozen dinners and plopped on in front of the older man and began to eat one of his own. Now, it wasn't so much that the kid could be called a health freak but he never -Never- Served up frozen dinners. Blair loved cooking, concocting strange but tasteful meals.
Not this stranger. This guy hardly spoke, at least not to Jim, kept secrets from his roommate and ate frozen dinners.
"So what do you have planned for today?"
"Hmmm? Sorry, uh, going to the University. Have some things to discuss with the department head. Then I will be able to join you at the station. Maybe spend two or three hours and then back here. Need to grade tests." He stood slowly in difference to his still healing ribs and sighed, "You know I will never let this happen to me again."
Of that Ellison was positive, seems this Sandburg didn't want to see a crime scene. Unaware of the true object for his study, Sandburg believed that he was studying closed societies and the hierarchy within.
He stayed distant and inquisitive. He rarely joined Jim for lunch, hardly rode to and from work in the same vehicle and never 'hung out'.
"Now, James, I am a scientist and it is bad enough that I have jeopardized my thesis by staying here. An idea I can't believe I made thinking rationally but that is the past I guess. Let's try to maintain a professional and objective point of view. Just do what you need and I'll stay our of your way."
It grated on the older man's nerves. The kid stayed out past eleven and didn't call. He never said who he was with and when asked he got defensive. "Look man, my life is private just like yours. Now butt out."
Jim was frustrated and every time he felt like lashing out, he remembered that Dr. Sims asked him to give Sandburg time.
"Detective, these things often work themselves out for the best. In most cases, full memory returns. Worst case is you get your friend back but he'll be a bit changed."
He looked at his roommate as he tossed out the plastic dish that accompanied the frozen entrée and decided that change was a bad thing.
He looked at his watch; Blair would not be in until one or so. He stood and decided to grab a bite at Meenshaw's Deli. It was a favorite of Sandburg's and though Ellison wasn't a big fan of the place he just wanted something old and familiar. He missed his ever present, talkative friend.
As he entered the deli, he noted that the place was crowded and he decided that the noise was grating on his nerves. He placed his order and waited.
"Oh shit, he's here."
"My study subject. I swear the guy is freaky, follows me everywhere. It is annoying as hell."
"Come on, Blair, I've known you since before the accident. You and he are really good friends. I mean it was like, like, well when the two of you were together, you created a bubble. Closing out the rest of the world and talking a talk only the two of you understood. I'm telling you, we never spoke about anything without you talking about the guy and I swear he's always there when you needed a ride. Called you all the time on the cell phone. He was always there for you."
"Yeah? Let me tell you about the man. He watches what I eat, comments on how I dress, wants to know where I am at all times and let's not even discuss his rules on housekeeping. I know he's a cop but unless I'm a suspect he needs to find someone else to detect. Ugh!"
"Let's leave before he spots me and decides to join us. I feel like I'm some sort of suspect under surveillance."
Having heard the total conversation, Ellison received his food order and decided to stay since a corner booth suddenly opened up. He ate the sandwich in a less than enthusiastic manner, his mind drifted to a time when Blair Sandburg didn't run from his presence.
"Chief, I prefer to eat a meal that has red meat in it. WonderBurger is just down the block. We can ..."
"Jim, look, they have a terrific turkey sandwich. Come on big guy, give it a whirl."
Ellison sighed, "I'm sure this goes over well with you and your friends but ..."
Blair laughed, "Dude, you are Sentinel and I am Guide. What friends?"
Ellison hid the smile he felt. "Alright fine, but if I find one feather, I swear..."
Shaking away the momentary flashback Ellison looked at the turkey that at one time tasted warm and delicious and noted that at the moment he tasted dry meat, old bread and stale soda.
Blair entered his office and listened to his voicemail. The department head wanted to see him about his request to discuss his thesis. He smiled, "Great."
He listened to the next one, "Sandburg, Banks called off the stake-out so, you might not come in. I'll see you at the loft."
"Terrific, now I can finish the last of that research and sit in for Jones and then this IOU book will be EMPTY!" He paused and his head throbbed the moment he received the message and he swayed. "Got to take my vitamins." He took a deep breath and began wrapping up his research project.
"Damn it Ellison. Joe Michels, a perp wanted in two states for suspicion of rape and wanted here in Cascade for the murder of his own father. Joe Michels who was in that four story apartment building which we had secured and all you had to do was wait for him to come out. He does and walks right past you."
Ellison looked away.
"How do I know - you ask? Well, because your back-up witnessed it, hell it's on tape. Next thing we get is a two hour car chase, thousands in vehicular damages and the Chief breathing down my neck. Who, by the way, wants to know if Ellison is back to his evil ways." He crossed his arms and pinned the emotionless man seated before him with a glare. "Now I won't ask again. Explain."
"I was focused on him, he made a phone call and I tried to listen in and, well, I zoned."
"You zoned. Might I ask why it was that Sandburg was not with you?"
He doesn't remember anything about my senses, not interested in his old thesis, so I figured..."
Banks stepped up, "I warned you. You wished for this and it happened. Now I am ordering you to take the next two days, talk to him and come up with some way around this. I will not stand for this happening again. Am I understood detective?"
"Yes sir." He walked out of the office literally without a friend in the world. His head throbbing and feeling lost.
He arrived at the loft and found a note.
Went out with a few friends. Salisbury dinner in the fridge. Just press 5. Won't be back till day after next.
The note was immediately crumbled and tossed into the trash. "Don't want to be here. I follow him. Go to hell. You and your damn friends."
"Ugh, sorry. I- ugh..."
Ellison spun around, "I - I thought you'd left."
"Not feeling too good. Look I ..."
"What do you mean you don't feel well?"
"What? Oh, bad headache, nausea - just tired I guess." He looked down, "I could go stay at Pete's if you..."
"No, come, sit on the couch. Did you take something for the pain?"
"No. Don't like what those chemicals do to a person."
Ellison shook his head, "Chief, they help. Why suffer?"
Blair watched as the man collected his bedroom pillow and blanket, some aspirin, juice and brought the bundle to the couch. Then proceeded to place the pillow on the couch, have his 'patient' lie down and then covered him in a blanket. Next came the juice followed by the aspirin. As Blair took his medicine, the lights were dimmed and a sudden feeling of warmth washed over him. "Thanks Jim."
Ellison watched the other fall asleep and wondered if the two of them would ever be as close as they had been.
The next morning it was Sandburg who took the initiative while the two had breakfast.
"Jim, why do you call me Sandburg and I call you - Jim?"
"I've never thought about it, we just do. Does it bother you?"
Everything about you bothers me. "No, not really."
Both men completed their meals in silence. After the dishes had been washed Jim made his way to the couch as Blair reluctantly followed. Now sensing that the other wanted to talk, the older man prepared himself, "Alright Sandburg, you and I have no secrets, ask all the questions you need. I will answer the best I can."
"I have quite a few."
"Fire away." Ellison seemed anxious to help his friend with his memory. Maybe now he'll start to come around.
"How long have I lived here, with you?"
"I noticed my schedule from the computer. Do you realistically expect me to come to work every day? What about scholastic work? When do I sleep?"
Jim felt ashamed, how do you explain to someone that he was self-sacrificing and although it was appreciated, he never truly felt comfortable with all the things Blair did for him. "Blair, you do this because you felt it was necessary. I can't truly explain you to you but in a nutshell, you felt that the work I did was as important as the work you performed at the University."
Sandburg seemed deep in thought and for the first time, Ellison couldn't read the expression on his face. The kid was inventing more expressions by the day. "Blair, do you have any more questions?"
"What exactly was I studying."
"Not what Chief, who."
"I'm the sentinel in your study."
It had been a very long discussion. Blair being mostly stunned and Ellison hoping that the information wasn't too much for the other to handle. In the end the kid retreated to his room to re-read his journals. The fact that the sentinel actually existed was too much to accept.
Jim retreated to his own room, hoping things would be better in the morning.
He woke with a start, he glanced at his watch and noted it was 3 a.m. Slowly he opened his senses to see what had startled him. At first everything seemed normal. Then Jim sat up, Blair was gone.
Immediately he got dressed and began to seek his friend. He stretched out his hearing and located his friend. It was raining outside and for some strange reason, Sandburg was on the roof.
Ellison quickly grabbed his friend's jacket and went to join him.
Sandburg heard the door to the roof open, "So it's all true. It's not some kind of joke." He seemed lost and mumbled all of this.
As Ellison got closer he responded, "What's not a joke, kid?" As he continued to close the distance between them Sandburg backed up towards the edge of the roof. Apparently, Blair had lost his fear of heights as well.
"Please, Ellison, I need for you to stay exactly where you are. Please!!!" Blair's eyes held nothing but terror for the man before him.
"Sandburg, please whatever it is let me help..."
"No. I-I need to... I mean you're some kind of freak of nature and this whole, - - this existence you and I share, it's unnatural. How can you stand to hear my every sound, help with nightmares that your job is responsible for, and why do I stay? The loss of privacy to both of us is enormous. Not to mention the things you can hear, the smells, my God!"
Ellison was shocked and barely whispered, "You stay because we are friends."
"Friends? God, this is just too much. Does anyone else know the truth about you and your handicap?"
"Listen, I can't, this is too much. I don't, Ellison I-I need for you to just leave me alone. I need to process this."
"Blair at least come inside. It's raining and you know how you feel about heights." Jimreak but he couldn't ignore his need to protect the other.
"Look, you're not my father and I don't need a guardian. This blessed protector crap is unnecessary. Just keep your abilities and your concerns away from me." Blair was beyond inconsolable; he was trapped in some kind of nightmarish B-grade movie. He wanted, needed a normal life. This explained how this man could follow him; hear him when he whispered, when he used the washroom. It was too much.
Jim turned to leave; uncertain how to proceed. His Guide for the most part was gone and in his place was someone he couldn't reach. A stranger.
"You're not the kind of man who'd welcome someone like me. Why work so hard to keep me around?" Blair was facing out into the early morning's darkness.
Jim turned and stepped closer to the other, wanting to touch the other on the shoulder but holding back, "I need you."
"Thank you for your honesty."
Slowly Ellison turned and left the man on the roof. If it were at all possible for the stoic detective to cry, he would. Instead he waited until his roommate returned to the loft and then he left.
The next day, things hadn't changed much. Sandburg eluded any closeness from his roommate/co-worker. He tried to stay out of the way as much as possible. Lunch time he spent alone in a small cafe down the street. The only time the young man seemed 'normal' was when he went to the University. There Sandburg seemed content, studying, and making new friends.
Ellison tried to distract himself with his work. Hoping that his feeble "we're working on it" excuse to Capt. Banks would prevent his superior from pulling his badge. Jim continually wondered how much longer Sandburg would continue pretending to be his partner. The younger man was clearly not happy being with him.
A murder in an alleyway had occurred and Ellison had prepared to leave, "Sandburg would you care to join me?"
"Sure, might as well."
"Kid if you don't want to, no one is forcing you to." Jim noted the reluctance in Sandburg's voice and it irritated the man.
The ride to the crime sight was a quiet one. Both lost in their own thoughts. Both miserable.
Jim was able to locate some additional evidence without any assistance from the reluctant observer.
It was when Ellison spotted a small metallic object by a crate in the alleyway that trouble occurred. He zoned out.
Sandburg noticed that the man was completely focused on something and was oblivious to everything around him. Fortunately, the detective was alone, just Blair to observe the 'Zone Out'. Cautiously, he stood in front of the detective and viewed his predicament. I could smack him and he would never know it. Wow!
Simon had arrived on the scene and saw something he never thought he would see. Blair Sandburg was simply standing in front of James Ellison marveling at the man's predicament.
"Sandburg!" Banks was furious.
"Oh, Captain Banks, hello." The other greeted the man with a smiling face. No concern.
Simon ignored the man and shook Ellison, "Jim, c'mon. Come out of it."
Slowly Ellison returned. "Simon? How?"
Simon halted the questions; "I want you and Mr. Sandburg in my office in 20 minutes."
"Yessir" Both replied.
20 minutes later
"Gentlemen we seem to have a situation here and I need to know where you both stand. Jim back at the crime scene you zoned out. Sandburg, your position here in my unit, as Ellison said he explained to you and as I believe you are now completely aware of through your journals is to assist your partner with avoiding this particular 'Zone Out' pitfall. Am I correct Mr. Sandburg?"
Simon stood and walked over to stand in front of the observer, somewhere in the back of his mind he found it somewhat alarming that Ellison made no move to step between the two, "Then explain to me why it was that I found you simply staring at Ellison while this occurred. Tell me why you chose to allow the man to slip further away for the sheer curiosity of it all."
"I thought eventually Ellison could snap out of it. I thought if I waited long enough nature would kick in and he would simply wake up. My initial hypothesis was that he'd asphyxiate but I wanted to see if self-preservation would step in. The body wants to live and awareness or not ..."
"Sandburg, Det. Ellison has a serious condition, one you were allowed to assist with. One you chose to deal with. I am aware of your current condition and I can understand curiosity but where is your empathy. He is your partner for god's sake! I will not tolerate this. He could have died in order to prove you wrong."
"Capt. Banks I need to understand why I am here. Det. Ellison seems quite efficient on his own and I should be researching my latest paper on the Contiki Tribe?" Sandburg wanted out of this work relationship. It was weird knowing the detective was sensitive to his presence that was disturbing to the younger man. If zone outs were his only problem why not hire a dog or some such animal to snap him out of it?
Before Simon could respond, Ellison abruptly spoke, "Captain, may I have a word with you in private about Mr. Sandburg?"
"Jim, what's this all about?"
Ellison sighed, "Simon, please."
"Sandburg, please, would you mind?"
Sandburg stood up and walked out to Ellison's desk. He was furious.
"Alright Jim spill. What the hell is going on between the two of you? I thought after your talk he'd come around."
"Look, Simon, it's not working. I don't know how to reach him." Ellison had reached the end of his rope and this was just too much to handle. "that man, this Sandburg standing out there is cold, standoffish and has no desire to continue as my partner. My abilities are scaring the hell out of him and he hates being near me."
"Jim, what is it? What aren't you telling me?" Simon could see nothing but pain and loneliness on Ellison's face. The man could handle mad gunman, but when it came to a certain anthropologist, James Ellison was helpless.
"Last night Blair asked me to stay away from him, he thought that this partnership/Sentinel/Guide thing was too unnatural." Jim sighed, he felt as though Blair had died and a stranger had taken his place, "Simon he called me a freak."
Simon was speechless; Blair was the only person in the world that considered Ellison abilities gifts. In all the time that Simon knew the kid, he never saw him treating Ellison like a freak; in fact the kid worshipped the man like a big brother. "Jim, if you want me to revoke his observation pass just say the word."
"Simon, I just want Blair back not this arrogant, cold, information seeking bastard." Ellison took a deep breath. "Last night he was in the bathroom, and I heard the sound of metal. H-he was going to cut his hair off."
Simon, couldn't help it he suddenly broke out in laughter.
"It's not funny, he doesn't leave any messes, he never speaks unless spoken to, he doesn't understand why he is important in this Sentinel/Guide business, he avoids getting near me as though touching me will cause him to catch a disease, and he goes to the University whenever he can, hell I think he is sleeping in his office just so he doesn't have to be with me during my days off. He just doesn't care about this job or the thesis. It was just dumb luck that I was able to prevent him from cutting his hair. You should have seen his face when I walked in on him in the bathroom, he positively hated me." Ellison couldn't forget the look he had received. Never in all the time he had been with Blair had he ever looked into the kid's eyes and saw such hatred and now he had seen it twice, once in the bathroom and once on the roof. The man was a stranger.
"I keep protecting Blair from the guy he is now but a part of me is beginning to feel that there is no reason for this. The Sandburg I know is never going to return."
Simon couldn't help but notice that Ellison omitted saying that he needed the kid and that he was lonely. The captain wasn't blind to the fact that Ellison was unconsciously reaching out to the man and Sandburg kept slapping him away. It was a complete surprise that Jim had even discussed this much with his Captain. Jim was a friend but rarely shared his feeling. Sandburg was so much more to the man and now he had apparently lost it all. Teacher/brother/co-conspirator/guide/son, the list just seemed to grow. Blair was family and now... "Jim, what do you want to do? We can revoke his pass but you still need a Guide."
"Simon", Ellison growled. "I just don't know. I'm lost."
"You talked to Naomi."
"Right. She thinks that her son has the right to change his life if he wants to. She said she feels better knowing that Blair no longer wants to be around me and this nasty business I'm in." He looked away, "Said he'd be better off doing work to better the world not following some cop."
"Jim, although I would have loved to see the kid with shorter hair, the only thing I can suggest is that the two of you talk this through. He has the right to do anything he wants without your approval and I can't force him to continue his status as an observer but I will admit that I can see that just having him around has helped you a bit. You need him, and whether he knows it or not he needs you too."
"Talk to him? I am ready to strangle him." Jim didn't display his emotions easily but when it came to the anthropologist, there was an exception, "He told me to stop calling him Chief, said he was too old for cowboys and Indians."
Simon fought back the laughter that threatened to erupt, his friends were in trouble, he could laugh later, "Jim why don't you take the evidence you retrieved from the alley downstairs and I'll send him home? You can cool off and talk with him later on."
Ellison drove for 2 hours and regretfully headed to the loft. There was a time when he looked forward to seeing his roommate, sharing, laughing, and simply hanging around each other. Yeah, well you did this. You wanted some time alone and now you got it. Got it in spades.
Upon entering the loft he was greeted to the sight of boxes. Blair Sandburg was leaving.
"What the hell are you doing?" Jim felt nothing but dread.
"I am moving out of here. I don't need any of this. Maybe at one time I was an insecure boob who had nothing better to do than to baby-sit some guy with strange abilities but there are dogs that can be taught to assist you with that. Aren't there? I need to be part of the big picture. I feel trapped and I want out."
Ellison snapped. He walked over to the stranger that stood before him, grabbed him by the shirt collar and dragged him to the couch. "You had your say, now it is my turn and damn you, you are going to listen."
Sandburg froze; the man in front of him was a lunatic.
Jim saw the fear in Sandburg's eyes and smiled. It felt good to force this person to be scared of the future. Now he knows how I feel. "The Blair Sandburg I know is a honorable man. One I trust with my life, my sanity and even a part of my soul. He was compassionate, and he was the brother I always wished for. Somewhere inside you is the real Blair Sandburg. I need him, he needs me." Jim approached the fearful man on the couch and stood before him, "Blair would never have called me a freak let alone make me feel like some specimen to be observed regardless of the consequences. We are friends. I understand I can't force you to remember how things were but I will not allow you to move out of this loft until I feel you are all right. Whether you like it or not you are my responsibility and until the doctor okays your health completely I expect you to stay."
Blair sighed and looked away to gather his thoughts, "I apologize for treating you like a specimen, I never meant any harm to you. As for the doctor's recommendation, I will make an appointment as soon as possible. Look, I intend to move out by the end of the week and I told Captain Banks I'd be gone in two weeks so he can start looking for a partner for you. You need one, you know. A partner who is a cop."
He shrugged, "Jim, I am sorry that I can't be the man you say I once was; your Blair Sandburg is gone. I'm here and this little world my-my alter-ego existed in is just not for me. I need a life, a purpose and if you truly consider me a brother, you will not stand in my way." Blair stood and left a stunned Ellison alone as he went into his bedroom to continue packing.
That night, alone in his bedroom, Ellison wept for the man he remembered and for the loneliness he now faced. He was losing his only true family member and his little brother wanted nothing to do with James Ellison - the freak.
The days that followed were miserable ones. Ellison became completely guarded. Sandburg operated like a reluctant hostage. He did things only when asked and never offered anything in an effort to allow his partner to operate efficiently and without a 'crutch'. The men were strangers and both were suffering.
Home was also a strain on the two. Both avoided each other at all costs. Ellison either arrived at the loft late at night or Sandburg stayed at the University over night. When it came time to see the doctor they were informed that Blair was sound of mind and body. The doctor informed an unhappy Ellison that he had been warned of the possibility that the patient might never fully recover all of his memories. Blair Sandburg, his guide, may never again return. It happened.
Sandburg chose that moment to walk out on the saddened Ellison, he had a life to get on with. He wanted to shed this old Sandburg away. It was time for the new Sandburg to be happy.
Slowly James Ellison began to lay to rest his only true friend. Somewhere deep in Ellison's mind Blair had died and the funeral had begun. Cards from his friend were neatly folded and kept in a box, pictures of outings the two shared were placed in a closet. CDs the current Sandburg tossed out in the trash were collected and placed back on the shelf. The detective was determined to let go but never forget the friendship he once had.
The final day of Sandburg's time with Cascade Police Department arrived. The young man felt some empathy towards Det. Ellison but he just couldn't stand to live and work with someone who seemed to be looking at him but seeing someone else. He just couldn't live up to the man's wishes, and, after all Blair was entitled to a life of his own. Friends of his own, who liked him for himself not because of some forgotten personality that no longer existed. A new dissertation topic, one that was preferably less sci-fi. A new life, starting with cutting his hair the minute he moved out of Ellison's domain were the start to what he hoped was a better life.
His things were packed and ready to be moved, the apartment he obtained was a bit expensive but he intended to get a second job, a job that paid. Unfortunately, the apartment would not be ready for two more weeks. His current roommate said nothing when given this information. Ellison barely spoke at all except to offer to assist Blair in the move, which Blair thanked him for but refused. The man was a bit intimidating and Blair just wanted to be far away from him. So for now he'd stay at a hotel.
Ellison watched his friend move about on his final day as his guide. Simon was prepared to assist the detective in selecting a new partner and hoped for the best but nothing mattered. Nothing could hurt this much.
The detective understood one thing, he would never again trust anyone, things got messy that way and he had had enough of messes. People either died, walked-out or forgot him.
He knew he wasn't without blame. He remembered his last conversation with his true guide. He had said hateful things. Because I wanted time apart from Blair and his tests, I caused all of this, now I have nothing. The Blair Sandburg who stood a few feet from him wanted nothing to do with Ellison's life, even standing near the man seemed to cause him great distress. This Blair Sandburg did not trust Ellison; in fact he was scared to death of the man. The older man decided he would do the only thing left to do; he would let go of Blair Sandburg. He would do so out of love for the friendship the two once shared.
Simon watched as two men entered Major Crimes for what was to be Sandburg's last day as Ellison's unofficial partner. Blair seemed unable to contain his happiness and Ellison unable to completely hide his despair.
The men and women in the bullpen seemed to acknowledge Ellison's despair. Most gave the man a sympathetic smile but all simply understood that James Ellison would never welcome pity and the new James Ellison was slowly becoming the James Ellison before he even met Sandburg. Everyone at Major Crimes prepared for the worst.
Simon was losing two friends and he understood that although he had offered to assist Ellison with his work until a replacement partner could be selected, the detective would either quit the force or simply refuse anyone as his partner. James Ellison would become a recluse and his superior could think of no way to stop this from happening.
Captain Banks had every intention of preventing Ellison and Sandburg from doing anything on this day but paperwork, then he received a call. 'Officers down, back-up needed. A sniper was firing from a building in the downtown area'. He regretted sending the two but they were needed. Rafe and Brown were en route.
Simon watched as they both got their orders. Ellison never glancing to give his usual reassuring smile to the younger man. Sandburg failing miserably to conceal his profound reluctance at accompanying Ellison anywhere.
James Ellison had truly lost his 'shadow' and he showed it, he was now silent, argumentative and unapproachable. Sandburg had been the only one he seemed to want in his world and was the one person who simply ignored the silent pleas. The most unlikely duo who had forged an unforgettable friendship had now become strangers.
Ellison approached the crime scene and habitually told Sandburg to stay behind and out of trouble. Sandburg agreed and obediently stayed in the truck. Secretly this made Jim furious, he had often wished in the past that the observer would listen to him when he asked him to stay behind but most of the time the kid saved the detective and Jim was always thankful for his independence. Now the other simply pulled out a book and began to read. This was just one more thing that reminded him that Blair was never going to be the same. He was on his own. So be it.
Sandburg was grateful to stay clear of a potentially dangerous situation; it was the smart thing to do. As he sat in the truck he watched the detective as he moved gracefully near the building where Banks said the sniper hid, he seemed to move with a deadly grace. Like a sort of wild jungle cat.
The thought made the anthropologist smile, at least the man was one of the best. Really, the guy can do this alone. The thought brought on the beginning of a headache. He rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly feeling an uncontrollable need to exit the safety of the truck in order to get a closer look at the situation outside. He didn't understand why but his body unknowingly responded to the need to get to where the detective was hiding. I am an observer after all. So I'll observe.
As Jim approached the building he extended his vision, the sniper quickly came into focus and the detective prepared to take aim. The gunman was across the street and just a few feet above him. All he needed was one clear shot. He stealthily entered the evacuated building and then located an apartment that had a better view of the sniper.
Exiting the room and climbing onto the fire escape, he raised his weapon and called out to his superior on his radio. "I have the target. Awaiting orders." He never heard a response. A flash from a mirror off of one of the patrol cars below distracted him. His focus abruptly torn away from the deadly situation Det. Ellison was trapped in a muted haze. James Ellison 'zoned out'.
Blair seemed to move on some instinct that he didn't quite understand. Ellison was a capable individual. The man is built like a tank for God's sake. According to the Cascade P.D. database, Ellison had an exemplary arrest record. The man was practically mister poster-boy for truth, justice and the American way. Still, Sandburg felt an overwhelming desire to reach him, to be nearby just in case. He told you to stay out of sight. Today is your last day, why bother? He doesn't need you. Blair decided he was a man of action not a man of compliance. Somewhere in the muddled recesses of his mind a voice whispered, It's about friendship - it's your duty.
Blair spotted Jim across the street from the building where the sniper hid. He was on a fire escape and he seemed ready to take a shot. Yet he wasn't moving. In fact he seemed completely frozen, not even breathing. The guy zoned out. He didn't have time to consider how he knew this, he just did.
After entering the building and climbing up to the floor to be next to the detective, Blair cautiously stepped onto the fire escape and behind the detective. The sniper must have seen some movement because the next shot he fired was aimed just below Ellison. Still no movement, not even a breath had been drawn. The gunman had missed but was damn close.
Blair hesitantly placed a hand on the detective's arm What do I do? Simon yelled at him because this was his job. The journals said to simply talk him out of it. He needs help. My help. Slowly Blair spoke, "Jim, c'mon man you're scaring me. Snap out of it man. I-I need you. Please Jim? Please just come back."
Jim had been drifting somewhere left of reality. Somewhere that had no pressures, snipers or amnesia ridden guides and yet the darkness became overwhelming. Jim was lost and he knew that the one person that was meant to help him was just where he left him. Then something happened - slowly a voice that had meant everything to the Sentinel seemed to creep through the darkness - 'I need you. Please Jim? Please come back.'
Suddenly Ellison dragged in air and slumped to the floor of the fire escape. At that moment another shot rang out and slammed Sandburg against the backside of the fire escape. Rage like nothing Jim had ever experienced surged through him. He turned and took aim. Some called it a lucky shot others simply marveled at the detective's marksmanship. John Middlestone a.k.a the sniper was D.O.A.
Jim turned towards the younger man and began his examination and was met with resistance, "Blair, come on I know you don't want me touching you but just let me see how you're doing."
"Jim cut it out, man." Blair tried to squirm away from the close scrutiny of his partner.
"Blair this could be serious."
"I am not going to the hospital."
"It looks like a scratch, just a few stitches and you'll be fine."
"Listen, if it's just a scratch why do I need stitches?" Ellison continued his examination, "Oww, Jim, just once I wish you would quit with the 'mother hen" routine. I'm not going to the hospital. You know I hate hospitals and how the hell did we end up here anyway? Did the homeless guy live near a sniper?"
Suddenly Ellison pulled back, cautiously he looked deeply into the bright blue eyes in front of him, "Chief?!?"
"That's me Hoss."
A smile broke over the detective's face as he pulled Sandburg in for a hug, "BLAIR!!!"
Blair had no idea what he had just said that warranted such a tight hug from the usually non-overly emotional detective but he endured it with a smile, maybe he wouldn't have to go to the hospital after all.
Jim pulled back and started to check his partner more thoroughly. Eyes not dilated, heartbeat slightly elevated but that would be considered normal, and again the eyes, the soul that was his friend seemed to sparkle with the usual life behind them and most importantly with the unquestionable trust the kid always had for the detective. The mouth was going a mile a minute and the arms were gesturing all over the damn place, except for a slight wincing due to the injury. Could this be true? Was his guide back?
"....haven't I told you that you need me. I am your Guide, Jim. You need me man. Oh, and do you mind if we get out of here? I really don't like heights."
Ellison hugged him once more. This time to reassure himself that once again some higher force took pity on the Sentinel and returned the other half of his soul. His Guide was whole and the world had righted itself. But just to make absolutely certain the kid was completely all right, Sandburg was briskly taken to the doctor.
Jim took his unhappy friend back to the hospital and, while the 'scratch' was being tended to, Ellison used that time to inform Sandburg's doctor of his mental change. Sandburg was then checked again. This time more thoroughly than the first time.
Blair Sandburg was one unhappy man.
Three hours later he was given a clean bill of health.
Blair noticed how Jim kept his distance from him. Though he was informed of his now temporary amnesia and was told that the blackout period of time between his first hospital visit and his current one was expected, it seemed as though Ellison was angry at the young man for something. "Jim, what's going on man, why aren't you speaking to me? Why are you avoiding being near me?"
"Later Chief, okay?" Jim wasn't completely sure of Blair and after the initial shock he realized that he was afraid of being hurt - again. Though the Sentinel had come to realize that Blair was often his greatest asset he unfortunately realized that this made him Ellison's greatest weakness. His shaman could inflict a world of pain with one simple action.
"Jim, did I do something to hurt you?"
"Please Blair, later."
"Okay." Sandburg never felt so unsure around the big guy before. Jim was looking at him as though he expected Blair to pull a weapon and kill him.
Blair held back as long as he could and by the time the two men reached the truck he again asked his friend to tell him what was wrong.
Ellison spoke of the time the other spent in the hospital, the amnesia and then stopped speaking.
"Jim, there is more, what happened? Trust me I won't freak out. I promise."
Slowly, Jim told him of the words Blair spoke to him on the roof. He told Blair how he allowed the zone-out to occur and stood by idly watching until Simon brought Jim out of it. The reprimand. His preparation to move out. The words they spoke towards each other the other night. The way the argument ended.
As Blair listened he saw and felt the pain his friend went through. Jim had complete trust in his guide. Now, it felt as though the walls were resurrected. Jim was looking at his friend through guarded eyes. Why not? He said I called him a freak.
For a moment neither man spoke. Both uncertain what to do next.
"Jim, I am so sorry, I have never viewed you as anything other than a man with special gifts. I can't explain where any of the things I said came from." Blair noticed that his friend still would not look into his eyes. Slowly Blair placed both his hands on top of Jim's, then he took one of his friend's hands on his chest where his heart was and the other he simply held. "Jim, please look into my eyes, you've always said you could easily read me, listen to me and believe me, I trust you, I believe in you, you are my best friend and a terrific big brother. I am sorry for what happened, if I could I would make the last few weeks disappear, I am sorry that I can't. Jim, I need you to know I have never thought of you in a negative way. You are family to me." Blair looked deeply into the eyes of his friend and said, "I love you Jim, please don't let this hurt our friendship. Our bond."
Jim felt as though his heart would burst. As he gazed as deeply as only a Sentinel could, into the eyes of the man beside him, he saw nothing but complete trust and love. Blair was indeed back. Jim slowly brought down the walls he reconstructed to keep his emotions in check. Sandburg was the only person who was able to get past those walls and he did it once again. His brother returned and Jim would forget the past. He trusted this man and always would.
Slowly Jim pulled his friend into a fierce embrace. With Blair's head tucked beneath his, Ellison replied, "I love you too little brother. Nothing could ever change that. Our bond was never broken. I just needed to be sure you where alright."
Somewhere in the distance a roar and a howl pierced deep into the sky. Sentinel and Guide were restored. Purpose reasserted.
As with all close relationships, the two men turned the negative situation into something to look back on and laugh. Blair was astonished at evil doings by what he now referred to as -- the evil Blair. Slowly their life was restored as usual. Both content to simply hang out together for a while.
"Aww, Jim, cowboys and indians? I-", Sandburg broke off into another fit of laughter.
"Kid, I was ready to rope and tie you into recovery." Jim Ellison was one happy man and he was enjoying the moment.
"So, Jim, would you say that you appreciate me for my flaws?"
"No, but I'll admit to that I missed you."
Ellison suddenly turned sober, "Blair about the tests and what I said about you making me feel like a lab rat, I apologize. While you were recovering and going through the," He grinned, "'evil Blair' thing, I had time to realize why the tests were necessary and I promise to try to be more cooperative. I still may not enjoy them but I understand your need to understand my abilities better and the way they help me with how I live."
Blair smiled, "Jim, I am sorry for making you feel like a lab rat. Sometimes I forget about being humane when buried in research. How about you tell me how you're feeling during the tests and I'll try to compensate wherever possible?"
"Alright", Jim leaned his head back and smiled. They were home and both men were safe. "Blair, one more thing."
Sandburg leaned forward to look into the eyes of his friend, "Yeah Jim."
"Just because I needed some time apart from you, doesn't mean I want it to be a permanent thing. As long as you feel content to stay, I want you to know this is your home."
"Thanks Jim." Blair was content.
"Tomorrow we go get the deposit you placed on the hole in the wall apartment, talk to your adviser about that dissertation and then see Simon about stopping his search for another partner for me. With you back, it should be all right."
"Yeah Jim, I understand." Blair smiled, now he knew everything was all right, Mother Hen was tending his chick. Still Blair had to get his message across, " Jim, I completely understand the need for time away, hell whenever I needed time away, Naomi taught me to just go. So if and when you need the space, I can find a hotel or stay at a friends place. I just want you to know it's not a problem."
Blair held his hand in the air to silence Jim's comments, "Jim, please, I just want you to understand if this is something you need, I will do it. Just say the word."
"Thanks kid, the offer is duly noted but just stay close by. Never know when I'll need you."
Blair felt the sting of tears form behind his lids. When James Ellison got emotional, time seemed to stop. "You got it man."
Ellison reached over and took hold of the young man beside him. He was met with a hug that was just as strong and Ellison sighed, "That's a promise I will hold you to." Both men smiled. The past faded away.
"Thanks for rescuing me from the Evil Blair's attempt to cut my hair."
He tugged at a curl and smiled, "Just one more of my many talents as Blessed Protector."
- EPILOGUE -
Simon Banks gazed out into the bullpen. Ellison had just walked towards his desk and behind him was his newly restored shadow. Ellison was smiling prouder than a father on Father's Day. Blair was his usual hyperactive self. Yes, today would be a good day.
The men and women in Major Crimes all seemed to sense that things were back to normal. The friendship all envied, was restored. Sometimes things worked out for the best.
The tribe was secured. The Sentinel and Guide were back on their post.
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