Title: Tears for Blair Series: Trial of Life, story 1
Author/pseudonym: slery Rating: PG-13
Archive: yes Disclaimer: Don't own them. That privilege belongs to PetFly.
A major, big, huge, fantastic thanks goes out to my betas Lyn and Lorri. Without them, this would really not be worth reading.
Warnings: minor character death, violence, heavy angst, h/c, smarm, this might constitute a mild hanky warning.
Summary: Has Blair finally come to the one tragedy he can't bounce back from?
Feedback is definitely encouraged.
This is a new series. There is a sequel in progress for this story, if you think I should continue. It is the other half of this story, but since I decided it still needed some major work and was growing to be really long I stopped with this story. If you think it is worth while to continue please let me know. Also, let me know if you think this will be a good series. I may include my Father's Day story in this series and then expand it out with continuing snippets.
Tears for Blair
The bullpen was relatively quiet for a Wednesday. Detective Ellison was on his way down to records when the phone rang. "Ellison. Yeah, that's fine. See you in ten."
Detective Brown sat at his desk cursing his computer, "Hey, Ellison, where's Hairboy? I can't get this computer to cooperate."
Seeing the mile high stack of reports to be finished, Ellison grinned, "He'll be in after lunch. Naomi's in town and I am on my way to meet them."
"Tell him to hurry back. I need him."
"I never knew you had those sorts of feelings for Sandburg. I'm sure you'll make a lovely couple," Jim chortled as he slipped out the door, neatly ducking to avoid the rubber band H. aimed in his direction.
Blair and Naomi had just arrived at the new Greek restaurant and were waiting to be seated when two men burst in and pulled out automatic weapons . Blair's time with the police had earned him some experience in reacting to men with guns. So, he automatically dropped to the floor while yelling for Naomi to get down.
The anthropologist was stunned at first. Remembering his mother, he turned to where she had been standing. She was now lying on the floor in a pool of blood with two gun shot wounds to her chest. This can't be happening, she wasn't supposed to get hurt. That is my role in the partnership of Ellison and Sandburg, not that either of us like it that way, but it works. I get hurt and Jim saves the day. Sandburg dropped to his knees and began applying pressure to the wounds. He watched mesmerized, as blood continued to bubble around his fingers despite his efforts to stop it. The image would forever be etched in his mind.
Jim was in his truck when the call came over the radio. "All units in the vicinity, respond. Multiple shots have been fired at The Greek Island restaurant. Ambulances have been dispatched." Ellison's heart went to his throat as he flipped on his lights and floored it to the scene. "Oh, God. Sandburg!" The kid was supposed to be safe with his mother, wasn't he?
Blair cradled his mother to his chest. Nothing else mattered as time stood still. He couldn't stem the flow of blood and knew the damage was severe. "Mom, please hold on, the ambulance is on its way." His mother wasn't supposed to get hurt, that was his price to pay for staying with his Sentinel. Sandburg's mind didn't want to process what was happening before his eyes.
"Blair, baby, it doesn't hurt. Please don't cry." She grew paler by the minute as her life's blood slowly seeped onto the floor.
"No! You're not going to die! I won't let you." Tears streamed down his face, taking with them everything that was Blair Sandburg as his heart broke into a million pieces. His world was falling apart with each drop of her blood that hit the floor next to his knees.
The Detective jumped from the truck and ran into the restaurant as he heard ambulances pull around the corner. Unable to focus his senses he yelled, "Sandburg! SANDBURG!" Jim screamed, fearing his worst nightmare come to life.
"Jim! He's over there." Rafe pointed to the corner by the door where the Observer sat, holding Naomi in his arms.
"Oh, God!" Jim whispered. This was worse than his Guide being hurt. He knew Blair would be devastated if his mother didn't make it.
It was a blood bath. At least twenty people lay dead or injured. He rushed over and knelt by his friend's side. Naomi smiled at the man, her breaths coming in short gasps now. "Try to stay still, Naomi. The ambulance is just arriving."
She took his hand in hers, "Jim, you take care of my boy. He loves you, you know."
"I know." Unshed tears were reflected in the sky blue eyes. "I love him too. But you hang on, he still needs you." Jim realized she wasn't going to make it, and nothing he could do would change that. For all the worrying he did about Blair, he never imagined him being hurt this way.
"I can't do that." Smiling at him with a deep sadness in her eyes, she gasped, "I love you, Blair."
"I love you too, Mom. Hang on, you're going to be fine." Naomi closed her eyes and breathed her last breath. "NO! We need a medic, now!" Two paramedics rushed over and Jim pried Blair's hands from her so they could work. "No. No. This can't be happening." The paramedics worked for almost ten minutes before giving up. "No! You can't give up!" Blair took his mother back into his arms and began rocking her. He whispered over and over, "It's going to be okay. I promise."
The sight of Blair rocking his mother broke the Sentinel's heart, "Chief, let her go." While Jim held him, two officers pried her body from the young man's grasp and placed her in a body bag. It was the worst thing Ellison had ever had to do.
The Observer looked down at his hands, now covered in his mother's blood. Sandburg didn't notice the blood seeping from his arm where he had been grazed, and Jim knelt in front of his partner. Blair was gasping for breath and refused to look away from his blood stained hands. I couldn't save her. I let her down. They just came in and killed her and I didn't do anything to stop them. I let her die!
"Chief, take slow deep breaths. Come on, Blair, look at me." Jim reached up and squeezed his friend's shoulders. Noticing the wound to his Guide's right forearm, "I need a medic here. Blair, please! Just breathe."
A paramedic came over and assessed the wound. "Sir, are you hurt anywhere else?" Not receiving an answer, he then began questioning the detective. "Was he hurt anywhere else? He may be in shock and that's why he's not answering." Seeing the concern on the older man's face, he asked, "Are you related?"
Ellison looked up at the paramedic, "Not exactly." And now he doesn't have any real family left. "Do you have anything I can clean his hands off with?" The paramedic handed him a towel and Jim proceeded to wipe Naomi's blood off his friend's hands. "He's not in shock. At least, not yet, it's an anxiety attack, he's had them before." Though I've only witnessed them three times. It really takes a lot to shake Sandburg. Jim paused for a deep breath, "His mother just died in his arms. Listen, I'm going to take him to the hospital in my truck. I want to get him out of here and you have other people that need the ambulance."
Ellison helped Sandburg to his feet. As they stepped outside, Simon rushed over to them. "Jim, what happened?"
"Don't know, Sir. I need to get Sandburg to the hospital."
Banks could see the kid was hurt again and Ellison was in full Protector mode. "Sandburg, what happened? Are you alright?"
"Not now, Simon!" Jim practically yelled when he noticed Blair start to shake. He pulled the younger man closer to him, "I'm sorry, Chief, I'm not mad at you. We're going to get you taken care of." "Jim?"
In a quieter voice, "Not now, Simon. Naomi's dead. And Sandburg's hurt."
Shocked, Banks took charge, "Come on, I'll drive." The black man ushered his best team into the back seat of his car and headed for Cascade General. Would this be the final straw that will tear my best team apart?
Ellison and Banks sat in the waiting room while the doctors patched up Sandburg, "Jim, what happened?"
"I don't know, Simon. When I arrived there were already cops on the scene and ambulances on their way. I found Sandburg with Naomi. My God, Simon, she died in his arms. After that, I noticed the wound on his arm. I needed to get him out of there as quickly as possible."
A gray haired doctor walked in with deep worry lines etched around his eyes. "Mr. Ellison?"
"How is he?" Jim asked frantically.
Keeping a professional demeanor, the man said, "I'm Doctor Jenkins. Why don't we go somewhere where we can talk." He stood and motioned for Jim to follow. They entered a small room and sat down. "Mr. Sandburg's wound is superficial and we've stitched that up. More than likely he won't even have a scar. He does seem to be in pain though, so I will send him home with pain killers."
Jim couldn't take it any longer; he had to get up and pace. "So, Doctor, what aren't you telling me? You don't bring people to a private room to tell them the patient will be fine."
"You're right." Sighing deeply while pinching the bridge of his nose, "Mr. Sandburg hasn't said anything since he was brought in and he is completely unresponsive."
"He's unconscious? It was just a scratch!" Jim couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"No, he isn't unconscious, just unresponsive. Can you tell me what happened to him?"
The Detective scrubbed a hand across his face. "He was at the shooting that just happened at that restaurant. And his mother ... died ... in his arms."
"That explains a lot. Mr. Ellison, he is going to need a lot of support. I've been told the two of you are very close."
"Yes, we are. He's like family."
"Good. He will need you more than he realizes. I think you should consider counseling. I have a friend that would be happy to see the both of you."
"Both of us?" Jim couldn't believe this doctor. He didn't need counseling. It was Sandburg's mother who died and Sandburg who was hurt.
"Yes, you said yourself you were family. This is a family problem. Whether you admit it or not, you are affected by this, too."
"Fine. Can I see him?" The Detective would deal with this later. Right now, he just needed to see his Guide, to touch him, to reassure himself that he was alive.
"Yes, of course, follow me."
When the detective reached the exam room an intern was just finishing with the bandages and looking for a sling. He proceeded to give directions for the care of the wound, Blair just sat there not even batting an eye. "Do you have any questions, Mr. Sandburg?" The Observer didn't acknowledge he had been spoken to.
"It's okay. I'll take care of him." Jim reached over and took the sling so he could help his partner put it on. Blair winced when Jim took his arm to place it in the sling. "Sorry, Chief."
Sandburg looked up at his friend's face, "Jim?"
"Yeah, it's me, Chief. How you doing, Buddy?" Thank goodness, he is responding to me at least.
In a small disconnected voice, "'wanna go home." Blair leaned over and placed his head on the older man's shoulder.
The Sentinel wrapped his arms around his Guide, "We're going home soon." After completing all the paperwork, Jim shepherded Blair out of the exam room.
Banks was relieved to see his two friends finally coming out of the ER. "How you doing, Sandburg?" The Observer didn't look at him or respond. Worried, Simon looked to Jim for answers, but the Detective only shrugged.
Upon reaching the loft, the painkillers were kicking in and Banks and Ellison helped the younger man to get up the stairs. After settling Blair in his room, Jim came out and offered Simon a beer and sat down at the table. He slammed his fist down on the table hard enough to rattle the bottles of beer, "Simon, I want whoever is responsible for this!"
"I know, Jim. But, you're too close to this one." The Captain prepared for his detective's arguments.
"I want in! Look what they've done to Sandburg."
"Exactly, Ellison. He needs you right now and I don't need you going off half-cocked. Do I make myself clear?!"
Ellison was seething, "Yes, Sir."
Jim awoke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and sounds coming from the kitchen. Surprised to hear his friend up and about, he grabbed his robe and padded down the stairs. Letting out a yawn, "What're ya fixin?"
"Oh, hey, Jim. I'm just having a bagel but I'll fix you some eggs. Go take a shower and they'll be ready."
"Thanks, Chief. Did you leave me any hot water?" Jim teased his Guide since he seemed to be in a good mood this morning, despite what had happened. Maybe the kid is more resilient than I thought. He's been through a lot, but I honestly thought this time it would take longer for him to bounce back.
Sandburg just rolled his eyes, "Yes, there's plenty of hot water left. I had some papers left to grade so I've been up a while." Why didn't he hear me get up earlier? Maybe he's sick. After finishing breakfast, Blair packed the papers in his backpack and went to the bathroom door to let his roommate know he was leaving. "Jim, breakfast is ready and I've got an early class to teach, so I'm heading out."
Ellison was stunned. Did he really just say he was leaving to teach a class? The older man turned the shower off and quickly grabbed a towel as he rushed out of the bathroom. Not finding any sign of his partner, the Detective ran upstairs and dressed so he could go find the anthropologist. His eggs sat on the table completely forgotten.
Arriving at Rainier, the Sentinel stretched out his senses to locate his friend. Finding the classroom, the older man stepped in to find his Guide standing in front of the class looking for all the world like a little, lost child. Ellison dismissed the class and headed down to the front of the classroom. "Chief, what's going on?"
The young man was a little disoriented, "Jim, what are you doing here?" Blair seemed lost in thought for a minute, "No," it was almost a heart broken cry, "She's gone isn't she?" He turned pain filled eyes toward his partner.
"I'm afraid so. Let's go home." Hoping to get the TA home before the walls came tumbling down, Jim gathered his friend's notes and headed for the truck.
The grad student hadn't said a word since leaving the University and they were almost home when he finally spoke. Turning to his friend, he quietly asked, "Why?"
"I don't know." So much for waiting until we get home.
"I'm all alone now."
Jim pulled the truck over to the side of the highway as the tears began to fall, "No, Blair, you are not alone. We will get through this together." Reaching over he gathered his friend in his arms and quietly rocked him until the sobs subsided.
Three days later
Jim got up from the couch and opened the door before his Captain could knock. "Hi, Simon."
"I wish you would quit that." The older man said, with an annoyed look. "How's Sandburg?"
Ellison let out a sigh. "Have a seat, Sir."
"That bad, I take it."
"He just sleeps all day. I'm lucky to get him to drink a couple of glasses of water a day, but he won't eat and I can't get him to talk to me."
"That's not good, Jim." As much as Blair's chatter annoyed the Captain, a quiet Sandburg wasn't normal.
"I know." So tell me something I don't know. Like how do I help him?
"Well, I did have another reason for coming over." Guess now is as good a time as any.
"Have you got any leads?" Ellison was a little hopeful now.
"Rafe and Brown have a lead. It seems the restaurant owner refused to pay protection money. But, that's not why I'm here."
"Then what is it?" He had a feeling he knew where this was going.
"I have a friend in the morgue ... "
Interrupting his captain, "I know, Simon. But I can't get Sandburg to talk to me and make arrangements."
"Jim, something needs to be done with the body. If you want me to help you I will." I have to do something to help the kid.
"Thanks. I'm going to call one of Naomi's friends here in Cascade. Maybe she can help me put something together."
"I need to get back to the station. Let me know if you or Sandburg need anything."
"Thanks again. Keep me updated, will ya?" Ellison closed the door and let out another sigh. What am I going to do? Collecting himself, he went to Sandburg's room.
Blair lay on his bed, staring out the window. The older man could see the lines of pain around his friend's eyes. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, "Hey, Chief, time for your pain medication."
Blair allowed his friend to help him sit up and took the pills handed to him. (It was never a good sign when he willingly took prescription medicine.) "Blair, we need to make arrangements for the funeral." The older man didn't receive an answer. Sandburg just lay back down and continued to stare out the window.
Ellison got up and went through the anthropologist's desk until he found the address book. Leaving the young man to his thoughts, he went out and called Lily, Naomi's friend. The Detective had only met her once, but instantly took a liking to her. She was an older woman, perhaps in her early sixties, with white hair that framed her face and flowed down almost to her waist.
Lily had agreed to come over to the loft to help make arrangements, since Jim didn't want to leave his friend alone. She had already made some calls and had a good idea of what Naomi would have wanted. Cremation with her ashes set free over Mt. Rainier and a simple wake where her friends could celebrate the life she had enjoyed.
"Jim, may I suggest something." She was glad she could help, but didn't want to over step her boundaries.
"Yes, please." Ellison was really grateful for all the woman was doing.
"I don't think setting her ashes free should be part of the wake. You and Blair should do that alone, especially since he is having such a hard time with this." There, she had said it, now she waited for Ellison to go off. Naomi had told her about the wrath of the Detective. Naomi always complained that whenever they would have their private discussions about Blair's life, Jim would always refuse to let the kid go JUST because Naomi felt it was too dangerous. It was Blair's life and he had to make his own decisions. Naomi didn't really know how much danger her son was put in. She based all of her accusations on the fact Jim was a cop. Blair, on the other hand, was always very angry with both his mother and his friend when he heard about one of their arguments, but he always chose to stay with Jim.
Take a slow breath, that's what Sandburg would have told me to do. Maybe she's right, I don't do feelings well and this might be what he needs. "I'll think about it." He then looked towards the smaller bedroom as he heard Blair getting up.
The young man came out of his room wearing a t-shirt, sweatpants, and thick socks. He trudged to the bathroom not noticing the two figures sitting at the table. Lily was concerned at how pale and tired the young man looked. He may have been lying around all the time, but he certainly wasn't sleeping according to the dark circles under his eyes. "Jim, he looks awful."
"I know. He doesn't eat, barely drinks anything, only takes a shower when I make him, and lays around or sleeps all the time." And he won't let me inside that box he built around himself. Chief, you've got to let me help you before you waste away.
The young man came back out and stared at the two sitting at the table. "Lily?"
"How are you, Blair?" She wondered if she would get a truthful answer.
Instead of lying, he just avoided the question all together. People don't really want to know how you 're doing. It's just the polite thing to ask. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to help Jim make arrangements. Why don't you come help us?" She hoped to draw him out of his shell a little and start the process so he could deal with this.
"No, I'm really tired."
"I can see that. But since you're not really getting any sleep, I would like your opinion."
" I said, NO!" He stormed back into his room and slammed the door.
Ellison turned back to the woman, "He's going to self destruct if he keeps this up."
"Have you thought about counseling?"
"Yes, the doctor at the ER gave me a few names. I want to wait until after the funeral and see if that will snap him out of it. But, I am really worried." The Detective looked at Lily with a deep sorrow in his eyes.
"You two are very close. He will be alright, eventually." Just don't give up on him, Jim, he needs you.
The phone rang and Jim quickly picked it up. "Ellison."
"Jim, it's Banks."
"Hi, Simon. What can I do for you?"
"I just wanted to let you know that we arrested the two gun men from the restaurant shooting. They are also rolling over on who hired them." Simon was relieved that he could finally deliver good news to his detective.
"Thanks, Sir. At least I know there is still some justice out there." He just couldn't be thrilled about the arrest. What difference was it going to make? Naomi was still dead and his best friend was still hurting more than he ever should have had to.
All of the arrangements were made and finalized. Now, Sandburg started coming out of his room for several hours a day. However, this really wasn't an improvement, because he just lay on the couch never acknowledging anyone's presence. His arm was slowly getting better and Jim was tapering off the pain meds and forcing him to use it some.
The day of the funeral finally arrived. Jim had to practically dress the younger man and force him out the door. Lily had done a wonderful job and everything was beautiful. It was at a local park, a natural setting, just as Naomi would have liked. Instead of rows of chairs, there were blankets arranged in a circle with three picnic tables to accommodate anyone not able to sit on the ground. Another two tables were arranged with food and extra flowers. The friends attending brought bouquets of wildflowers and placed them on the ground inside the circle.
Jim took Blair over to a white blanket and set him down. The older man proceeded to sit behind him in case he was needed. The young man didn't speak a word; he only watched the pile of flowers grow in the center as people arrived. Some would come over and offer their condolences as they placed single flowers at Sandburg's feet.
Lily began by thanking everyone for coming and started telling her favorite story of Naomi. When she finished, others jumped in with their own tales. Ellison was glad to see the familiar faces of Major Crimes; Simon, of course, Joel, Rafe, Brown, and even Rhonda. The Detective knew they came for the silent observer, but he was also glad for the presence of his fellow officers among Naomi's many and varied friends. Some of Blair's students also stopped by to show their support, though most didn't stay very long.
The stories had been going on for almost two hours and some were quite funny. In fact, he barely heard Blair whisper, "Jim?" as the young man leaned back to be supported by his Sentinel.
No tears were shed but Blair held on to the arms wrapped around him. That's it, Chief, let me help you. "I'm right here. You're safe. I'm not going anywhere." He continued to whisper reassurances to his friend.
Comments: Please email slery.