Hi, this was my response to Shelly's request/challenge for a missing Blind Man's Bluff scene. This 'scene' couldn't have been written without the help of Seah and Cindy - thank you kindly.|
Rated: PG - for bad language on Jim's part and a 'Smarm' warning?
James Ellison strained with all his heart to simply see his friend. He could hear the soft whisper of the respirator, the ever present dripping of far too many intravenous drips and a slow, ominous beeping rhythm of the heart monitor. Sandburg had told him to remake the connection to regain his vision. But he couldn't do it without his Guide.
"Oh, Blair," Jim whispered.
The debacle of the car chase, the drugged food, the woman stepping to her death assailed him. All hitting too close the bone. That Blair was lying in a coma and near death was the hardest blow of all. Jim rested his head against the door jamb. The doctor in charge of Blair was concluding an examination. A deep, sorry sigh escaped the doctor, terrifying Jim. A golden shadow, the old sounding doctor, Jim supposed, came to his side and rested a heavy hand on the Sentinel's shoulder.
"I need to talk to you, detective."
The doctor waited until they were out of Blair's earshot before speaking.
"I'm sorry but the prognosis doesn't look favourable," he said without preamble.
Jim was struck dumb - before he had left with Simon, to close the drug case the doctor had been disturbingly noncommittal. Jim knew, however that permanent coma was a distinct possibility. Blair had been exposed to a new designer drug so they couldn't predict the effects. And even if he did wake up he might not be the Blair of six hours ago, last night, last week. What was worse: comatose Blair or vegetable Blair? The doctor was confirming his fears.
"How?" Jim said numbly.
"The brain activity is degrading - all we are detecting are fragmentary alpha waves. Initially we were getting peaks in the delta band, but I'm afraid that the damage maybe permanent."
Jim latched on the words. "But you're not sure? He could wake up?"
"It's not that simple, son. He might wake up but he'll more than likely be brain-damaged."
Jim's stomach made a slow queasy lurch. "No. No. Not Blair."
"Son, he has lost all autonomic functions - he can't breathe without assistance."
"Just give him time."
"I'll give him all the time he needs; but it might be forever," the doctor said compassionately.
Jim pushed passed the doctor before tears could blur what was left of his vision. He stumbled into the ICU room and fell into the hard plastic chair beside Blair's bed.
The Sentinel shifted forwards cradling his head in his hands. If Blair died... He wasn't going to sit in this chair and do nothing waiting for Blair to return. He was going to cajole his Guide, make him wake up.
'Take a breath - on your own. Now!' he demanded silently.
A little artificial breath was his only response.
"Blair, listen to my voice. I know that you're in there. The Golden has screwed up your...software. I want you to..."
Jim's voice trailed away. How could he guide the Guide? A simple molecule of Golden had twisted his sight until all he could see was a golden blinding hue. A reservoir of the hallucinogenic poison flowed in Blair's veins eroding, confusing, manipulating the Guide until he was lost in a golden world of demons. He had to bring the Guide back from Hell.
The question was how? Instinct, all he had was instinct. And his instincts were sound. Although cognitive thought had been brutally ripped from the Guide, Blair had responded to the Sentinel. Blair had responded to his voice and responded to his touch in the garage.
Tentatively he reached out - maybe touch would work? The rough weave of the utilitarian blanket shocked his fingers, momentarily he jerked back, then he reached again. The blanket felt red. He could feel a sharp protruding bone beneath his fingers - Sandburg's hip. Carefully, spider soft, he trailed his fingers up the blanket over the rib cage. The bones moved beneath his fingers - too slow; too shallow.
Jim continued his journey. He stopped at the edge of the blanket. A sheet was folded over the bedspread, perfectly aligned, uncomfortably cool and taut. Blair should be complaining about the horrible hospital bed, not lying inert and lost. The blanket should be ruffled and the sheets creased.
'Damn,' he thought hollowly.
Jim pinched a tiny crease in the sheet before reaching further. The sheet didn't lie right, Jim decided, Blair would have it tucked around his chin - snuggling into warmth - instead the nurses had left the sheet at half mast lying across his Guide's chest. Jim resisted the temptation to pull the blankets up - he didn't want to disturb the heart monitors he knew were taped to Blair. He could feel one of the electrode wires snaking under the hospital gown, interweaving with the wiry chest hair.
It was simply a matter of waiting for Blair to wake up - if he woke up.
'Don't think that way!' he berated himself.
He refused to fall into the bottomless well of dark thoughts. Blair was going to survive hale and hearty. The doctor's words were pissing in the wind. Blair had lectured him hour after hour on alpha waves and meditation techniques - Blair was hiding deep within himself, falling back in familiar patterns while he regrouped after the onslaught of Golden. Jim followed the wire of the electrode until it emerged from the collar of the hospital gown. Now, he touched the Guide. The skin at Blair's neck was too cool and disturbingly clammy.
'Shocky.' Jim's medical training supplied the diagnosis.
Unerringly his fingers moved to the throbbing pulse then beyond to the sluggish blood, corpuscles and platelets supplying his Guide with nutrients and most importantly with oxygen.
'Keep working - keep my Blair alive.'
He extended his senses further until he lost himself in the movement of oxygen and fluids seeping into and out of individual cells. A slow throb interrupted his zone out and then another slow throb brought him back to himself. Blair's heartbeat. He was always the Guide, even in unconsciousness, bringing the Sentinel to reality.
'Your heart is beating, Blair. I want it to beat stronger and harder.'
The skin under his fingertips felt slightly warmer. Carefully, Jim traced the vein up to the edge of Blair's rounded jaw. A trace of stubble dusted the Guide's cheek.
'How long have we been here, Blair? Long enough for your beard to show.'
He could see his Guide in his mind's eye - a faint dusting of dark stubble over a pale shocky grey face. Jim reached to pat his friend's cheek in a familiar gesture when he encountered something alien and out of place.
'Tape,' Jim concluded. He followed the adhesive tape to lips that were not talking. The tape was securing a plastic tube inserted in Blair's mouth. A tube that had been forced through a constricting airway. A tube that supplied labouring lungs with oxygen.
'The respirator,' Jim thought as his own heart thudded miserably. The respirator that was keeping Blair alive.
His hand on his Guide's lips, Jim dropped his head on to the rough bedspread and fought back tears.
Devastation. Nothing made sense. His world tasted like Escher print - stairs and windows and walls juxtaposed with each other with no respect for Newton's Law of Gravity. Insane architecture. Crumbling facades. Breathing windows that horrifyingly were not moving.
'Jim!' Blair wailed, locked within his own mind.
Jim lifted his head. He thought that he had heard his Guide. Blair's lips were still. Jim's fingers drifted onwards tangling in matted curls.
'Oh, Blair, you're going to be screaming for a shower when you wake up.'
Salty crystals of sweat burnt his fingers. Gently, he began to card his fingers through the tangles trying separate the curls. Slowly he worked his way through the worst of the knots.
"Is that better, Blair?"
The short tufty hairs of Blair's sideburns grazed his fingertips. Jim paused a moment, loosing himself in the contrast between long curls and coarse beard. The noise of a nurse moving beyond the room broke him from his reverie.
"Blair?" Jim leaned forwards towards a neat ear. He could almost taste the golden metal of the hoop of the earring. "Blair, I want you to listen... Take a breath. Just one - for me."
Curled up in the tightest ball imaginable, Blair cowered. Impossibly, darkness was walking along the walls. He knew that if he looked at the shadows they would move. The golden fire people fuelled the shadows. He didn't know which was worse. If he kept still and thought nice thoughts maybe they would stop and go away. Unable to help himself, Blair looked up. He wasn't under the staircase hiding from the fire people. He'd moved. He couldn't remember moving. He didn't know where he was.
A soundless cry burbled in his throat, taking away all reason.
Had his Guide attempted to breathe? So faint a movement that even a Sentinel could not have sworn to have felt a breath? The scent of cold sweat and terror filled his nostrils. Jim moved to stroke the damp hair soothingly.
"Blair, calm down. There are no golden fire people and no monsters under the bed. You're in hospital. You're safe."
He kept up the litany of calming words trying vainly to reassure a person that he wasn't entirely sure still existed. Then there was a smallest of movements. His thumb resting at Blair's temple twitched as fine skin around his Guide's eyes tightened. Jim knew that Blair's eyes had opened.
But he couldn't see.
Frustration clawed at his soul. He wanted to scream. Forged in anger, Jim made the connection. For a moment light and golden colours strobed widely then he saw clearly. Blair's eyes were open and tears were gathering.
"Blair," Jim said softly, "welcome back."
The normally expressive eyes opened to a void that was no longer Blair. There was no recognition in those eyes. There was no life.
"Hey, Blair," Jim began and then his voice failed him.
Scared and lost, Jim looked away and found the monitor mocking him with the flat alpha rhythm. He denied it, and returned to his Guide. Blair was still staring vacantly.
What was he going to do if Blair was permanently lost? What would happen if his friend was hooked up to drips and catheters and monitors for what could be years? He had read about people trapped in their comas; locked in institutions until they withered away.
'I'll take him home and look after him myself, he'll never be institutionalised. No,' Jim chastised himself for his negative thoughts, 'he just needs time. He just has to figure out what has happened.'
Why was it so much worse now that Blair's eyes were opened and filled with dead tears? So his eyes had opened - so what? He simply wasn't all they way back from his drug induced hell. If the Sentinel could make the connection with the Guide's help the Guide could make the connection with the Sentinel's help.
'If this takes a lifetime; it takes a lifetime.'
That he preferred this place, was Blair's only coherent thought. Now his world was deathly still, the only sounds were the soft susurration of even breathing and a comforting, motherly heartbeat. He was safe. Content, Blair swam in foetal nothingness.
They couldn't even give his Guide the courtesy of discussing Blair's case out of earshot! Jim lifted his head prepared to ream the doctor to Kingdom Come. Did the man not know that Blair would be in a highly susceptible state? Blair was shocky and vulnerable - to tell him that he was probably brain dead was the last thing he needed to hear.
There was nobody in the room. Jim suddenly realised that he had been listening in on the doctor's conversation out in the hall. Simon was also in the corridor and he was angry. Jim tuned them out.
"Blair, if you take a breath they'll take you off the respirator and then..."
Simon's heavy hand on his shoulder choked his words. The sound of the Captain's shocked intake of breath as he saw Blair's vacant expression choked Jim's soul.
"My God, is he awake?" Simon hissed. "The doctor said that..."
"Shut up!" Jim said through gritted teeth. His hand cut the air in front of his superior's face stopping him.
Simon's dark eyes flared angrily but he kept his peace.
"It's an improvement," Jim said confidently. "Blair isn't frightened anymore. He's just taking his time. He's had a shock, it takes awhile to get over it."
Jim smiled realising that the simple statement was true - he could no longer smell the acrid scent of fear. The Sentinel touch was showing the Guide the way back. Dismissing Simon, Jim returned to his Guide.
The smooth skin on Blair's forehead was warmer to the touch, as was the skin under the stubble on his cheeks. A simple autonomic function was working to increase blood flow. The capillaries were dilating under his fingertips warming the Guide. A good sign; the symptoms of shock were ebbing. Jim whispered disconnected words, simple nonsense phrases, using only his tone to reach the Guide. He had no idea what he said. He was addressing the Instinct part of Blair's psyche - the part that Blair so effectively manipulated in the Sentinel.
The heartbeat sounded a tad stronger. Jim reinforced his perceptions with touch, following the trail of the jugular vein in Blair's neck. He traced another vessel that ducked behind a jutting collarbone to emerge on the underside of Blair's skinny bicep. The vein pulsated. Further down at the crook of a carefully draped arm he could feel the intrusion of sharp metal point delivering a solution which tasted of saline and dextrose. Jim paused at a narrow wrist - narrow in proportion to large expressive hands that were rarely still. Blair's hands were out of proportion to his body - but that did not make them ungainly merely that they underscored his enthusiasm with every gesture.
Jim finally picked up a lax hand and clasped it in his own.
"That is not a good sign," the doctor said sadly.
Jim jerked in his seat. The doctor had returned and he stood with Simon at the end of the hospital bed.
"How can his eyes be open?" Simon asked quietly.
The doctor pinched the bridge of his nose. "It's not uncommon. There has been a change in the degree of consciousness. Unfortunately...."
Simon coughed and the doctor's voice droned to a halt.
"This would be best discussed outside," Simon said. "Jim, would you like to join us?"
Jim knew that he was glaring at them and if he stared at them any harder they would incinerate. Simon shepherded the old man out of the room before Jim could bite his head off. Jim listened unashamedly to the conversation in the corridor.
"It's a reflex action," the doctor was saying, "but the fact that he is not blinking or showing any evidence of pupillary response tells me...."
Jim's heart hammered against his ribs.
"...there's severe brain damage."
He could hear the brush of cotton against skin as the doctor had reached forwards and grasped the Captain's shoulder.
"What's the prognosis" Simon asked, despair in his voice.
"I didn't want to mention this to Mr Sandburg's partner, as he is understandably distraught, but did Mr Sandburg ever say anything to you about his thoughts on organ donation?"
'Shit!' Jim smacked his fist down on the mattress, jogging its occupant.
The Sentinel grabbed his Guide by his shoulders and shook the inert form for all his worth.
"Blair, you little bastard! You will wake up now!"
There was no response; the heavy head lolled on the flat pillowless mattress.
"Listen to me - you have make a connection - come back!"
Hands were pulling at his shoulders trying to draw him away from Blair. Simon caught his wrists in a punishing grip, strong fingers digging into the tendons forcing him to release Blair. The other man shifted his grip and an arm snaked across his chest trying to drag him back. They were going to break his tenuous link with the Guide. The Powers That Be were going to consign Blair to an untimely death if he didn't return - there was no more time.
"Blair, don't do this to me, man."
At the soft words the Guide's eyes rolled back in his head. Between one heartbeat and the next, Blair was as limp as a rag and then fighting, weakly, against him. Jim released him instantly.
"Doc." Jim twisted out of Simon's hold and made way for the doctor.
The medic ducked under Jim's arm and leant over his patient. "Hi, son. You're in hospital. I'm Doctor Vanzant."
Jim didn't move out of the doctor's personal space but peered over his shoulder using his own talents to monitor Blair. The student's pupils constricted as he followed the path of the medical light that the doctor shone in his eyes. Blair looked confused and he was definitely unimpressed with the endotracheal tube that stopped him talking. Despite the dazed look on his Guide's face there was intelligence and thought shining in those expressive eyes.
'This sucks,' Blair thought. There was a hollow baseball bat stuffed down his throat - and what felt like a two by four making him seriously uncomfortable in his nether regions. The light shining in his eyes was making a throbbing headache a thousand times worse. He felt like a soft toy with all the stuffing pulled out - boneless and empty. He just wanted to lie quietly and maybe stare tiredly at the strangely golden ceiling.
'What's happening?' he thought with an inner whine.
He knew that Jim was somewhere near. His eyes sought out his friend. Jim Ellison was standing behind the doctor person. Jim was looking at him with a big, happy grin written on his chiselled face. Blair couldn't manage a smile around the tube stuck in his mouth but he could smile with his eyes.
Jim's smile became impossibly wider.
'I guess everything's okay,' Blair decided. When his Blessed Protector was looking out for him nothing could go wrong.
~~ fin ~~