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 Few Seconds (AU)

by Leesa Perrie

(Spoilers for Switchman, The Rig and Dead Drop - set before Series three)

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A few seconds can change a life forever.

Like the few seconds needed to read a fax from a hospital nurse. That sure changed my life - leading me to Jim. What if I hadn't received the fax? Or hadn't had time to read it for several days? Who knows if I would have met Jim, or met him in time to be able to help him.

Or on the oil rig - and that wasn't just a few seconds, that was one second. One second between hero or victim. Between life, or being blown to smithereens. If Jim had been one second later in contacting me, or I had hesitated, or tripped on the way down the rig, or hadn't seen the bomb when I did…. One second. Too close, way too close.

In the elevator, there were mere seconds left. If the idea hadn't come to me, if I hadn't been able to cut the hole so quickly, if the bomb hadn't dropped as far as it did and the blast had been closer….

And now, just a few little seconds have changed my life again.

I had just retrieved something from the University's archive - having bravely climbed a step ladder to reach the box from the top shelf (after all, I am an acrophobe) - and had been looking through the box of files and books. I had left my backpack in the archive room - the box had been heavier than I had realised and hadn't want to put it down to collect my bag. I had just returned to the archive room to get it, when I heard several loud creaks, and the next thing I know I'm on the floor with the archive shelving on top of me and boxes, books, files and artefacts scattered around and on me.

It hurt.

It hurt really bad.

And it took over an hour for someone to find me.

If I had taken a few seconds less to look at the items in the box, or a few seconds more, I would have been okay. A few lousy seconds.

So now, they say I'll be lucky to walk again. My legs were so badly broken, they're not sure if they will ever be strong enough to walk on. And if they are, I will always have a slow walk and an awkward gait. I was lucky that the shelving missed my torso, or my ribs would have been crushed, and my lungs as well. But my legs took the full brunt of the weight and impact. They had to piece them together with so much metal, I swear there's almost more metal than bone. They tell me that's not the case, but it certainly seems that way.

Jim's been great through all of this. Naomi as well. Simon, Taggart, Rafe, Henri, Rhonda, and even Daryl, have all been to see me regularly. Friends from University and the station too. Everyone's been so supportive. Some of them too much so. I need to learn what I can and can't do, and that means doing things for myself, or at least trying to.

I know it's hard on everyone. No one wants to see me in pain. But if I don't try to do things for myself, then I'll never be able to.

The physiotherapy nearly kills me, and I have banned Jim from being anyway near when I'm doing it - he nearly hit the last physiotherapist. He really takes that 'blessed protector' comment way too seriously! But it's nice as well, knowing that he cares for me.

So now, it's a long road I need to travel, with no guarantee of what lies in wait for me along the way. No guarantees that I will walk at all. No guarantees of anything.

A long hard road, that started with a few lousy little seconds, and a lot of bad luck.

The End

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