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Summary: An archetypal Blair-gets-kidnapped-then-rescued tale. Mucho angst and H/C.

Rating: 'R' for implied violence and unpleasant imagery.

Author's Note: Originally posted in two parts in my personal journal. Posted here for the first time in its entirety.





I Thought I Saw Sunlight
By Fluterbev

July 2007



I thought I saw sunlight a little while ago. It filtered in through the wooden slats nailed across the window, muted and golden, reaching across the floor to bathe my ice-cold flesh with its warmth.

It was an hallucination, of course. It’s been pitch black in here ever since I arrived.

I realized today that I’m going to die soon. It’s something that I expected would happen right at the start but, back then, I’d assumed the end would be violent and sudden. That I’d be beaten to death by the baseball bat my captor likes so well, or be dispatched by a swift bullet to the brain.

Instead, I’m dying by degrees. He stopped feeding me a long time ago; stopped coming down here at all, in fact. And injured and untended as I am, I know I can’t survive very much longer just on the droplets of water that constantly trickle down the damp wall at my back.

I’ve long since ceased to hope for the smaller comforts; the absence of pain, or to be able to lie down instead of being forced to constantly sit chained against the wall, a metal collar biting sharply into the flesh of my neck whenever my head droops. I no longer wish for warmth and dry clothes because I’m not always so cold anymore. I’d give anything, though, to be able to wash off the blood and filth, and to escape my own stink even for just one minute.

Hell, at this stage, I’d settle for some light. You learn to value the little things when they’re gone.

The worst thing of all is that I’ll die alone. And, right now, I’m finding that hardest part to bear.

***

Any cop worth his salt will tell you that the chances of a kidnap victim being found alive after this long are virtually nil.

From the demands that we received, it’s clear that some stupid asshole found out about the huge sums Blair was offered to turn Judas on me, and saw an opportunity to earn an easy buck by demanding the lot in exchange for his safe return.

Of course there was no money. Blair turned it down, ending up with nothing. Not even, it turned out, the job he’d been offered by Simon, which was rescinded as soon as word of it got to the higher-ups and their asshole lawyers.

Fortune or not, I’d still have gone along with the kidnapper’s demands if I’d gotten the chance, gathering the millions from somewhere. No amount would have been too much to get Blair back alive. After all, it’s not as if it would stay gone. I’d have made sure the bastard who took him was in no position to spend a cent of it just as soon as I had my partner back; money is pretty meaningless if you’re dead or in jail.

But I never got a chance. The demands unexpectedly ceased days ago, and nothing has been heard since.

Everyone now believes that Blair is dead. Everyone, that is, except me. I won’t believe it until I see his body. Until then, I’ll keep right on looking.

The thing that constantly haunts me is that we parted on bad terms. So much had just happened to both of us, so much hurt and so many hard words between us, and both of us too screwed up and angry at the time to put it behind us and move on. Once again we argued, and Blair stormed off somewhere to cool his heels.

That’s when the kidnapper took him.

The last time we parted like this Blair died, and by some miracle I was able to bring him back.

I can’t hope I’ll be so lucky again. Please god, don’t let this be how it ends.

But no matter how bad I feel, this is not about me and my regrets. This is about my partner; my friend. Whatever words passed between us, whatever wounds we inflicted on each other and whatever the world threw at us, nothing at all can change what he means to me, not when it comes down to the wire. And I’ll move heaven and earth to find him.

All I can do is focus, and keep searching.

But goddamn it, the leads we’ve gotten are all dead ends, and I have no idea where to go from here.

***

The sunlight is back. It’s pretty wild, really; I know I’m really still in the stinking, dark cellar, but when I close my eyes I’m surrounded by trees, the light dappling down through the leaves and the heat of it warming me right through to my aching bones.

I keep my eyes closed against the relentless darkness, basking in the sunlight, and I smile. I’ve seen this place before.

The last time I was here, Jim’s animal spirit came bounding through the trees, demanding that I turn and face him.

Demanding that I live.

He’s not here now; the forest is silent and still.

I wish he was here. I wish he would meet me one last time, here under the trees, just so I can tell him I love him, no matter what went on between us.

I wish I could at least tell him goodbye.

***

It was a sheer fluke. A call came into the precinct a short while ago, neighbors complaining about a bad smell. Seems some poor bastard keeled over and died in his house, and the telltale stench had started to filter into the neighboring houses.

When the cops broke in they found the body on the kitchen floor. There were no immediate signs of foul play. According to the neighbor who called them the guy had a heart condition, and a cursory assessment of the scene suggested he’d died of natural causes.

They found something else as well. The kitchen table was covered with photographs of my missing partner, as well as news clippings about his abduction. A half-written ransom note was displayed on the screen of the abandoned computer, still whirring away in the corner.

Needless to say, the officers who’d attended the call got right on to Simon.

Now, just a short few minutes after the call came in, the two of us are in Simon’s car, speeding toward the location. We’re listening to the police radio; forensics have just arrived, and have sealed off the house. All is quiet for a few minutes. I look at my watch, we should be there in five.

Then a voice comes over the radio. “Captain Banks, we found him! We found Sandburg!”

Simon and I exchange a look, then he steps on the gas.

***

There’s a young uniformed cop outside the house, vomiting on the lawn, as Simon and I jog swiftly up to the front door. Even before we get inside, the reason for his nausea becomes clear.

The place stinks to high heaven. A week old corpse is never a pretty sight, and definitely not a pretty smell, especially for a rookie like him.

We’re a pair of old pros so it doesn’t faze us, it’s something we’ve encountered a thousand times during the course of our careers. Simon is grimacing slightly, but stoic as ever. I just dial my sense of smell right down, exactly like Sandburg taught me.

An older cop, the kid’s partner, is standing by an open door at the far side of the kitchen. Through it, I can see that it leads to the basement. “He’s down there,” he tells us, looking grim. “Paramedics are on the way.”

Single-mindedly I move past him, leaving Simon to deal with the niceties.

A stark electric bulb lights the way down the steps. Even with my sense of smell dialed down, I can tell that the stench down here is just as bad as up there.

Two white-clad forensic officers are couched in the shadows by the far wall. They’ve abandoned what they are supposed to be doing – securing the scene, gathering evidence – to deal with a far more pressing priority. “Stay with me, buddy,” one of them is saying softly, his voice full of appalled pity. “Everything’s gonna be okay now.”

As I reach the bottom, my eyes are drawn to the emaciated figure he’s addressing.

Blair. Oh, sweet Jesus.

***

The forest is different, somehow. Less substantial, not as welcoming. The sunlight no longer warms me, and I shiver with the return of intense cold. The overlapping patchwork of pain which wracks my body is back with a vengeance, dissipating the comfortable lassitude which I had enjoyed within the balmy embrace of the trees.

The dark place is calling me, and I don’t want to go back. But it seems I have no choice. For the time being, the forest has rejected me.

I cry out in despair as I surface, wanting desperately to return to that place of warmth and light and comfort. Then I cry out once more, terrified by the unexpected sight before me. A man is crouching near me, the harsh electric light from the stairwell at his back reflecting dazzlingly off pure white coveralls, blinding me after so long in the dark. His face is in shadow, a nightmare figure. Behind him, a second similarly attired figure stands silently, white suit gleaming and identity swathed in darkness.

“Hey, hey!” It takes me a moment to hear through my terror the words that the faceless man speaks. “It’s okay,” he’s telling me, over and over. “Hey, easy, Blair. It is Blair, isn’t it? That’s your name?”

I close my eyes, desperate to find my way back to sanctuary. If this is it, if he’s finally gonna kill me, then I’d rather take matters into my own hands and head back to the forest before it begins.

But it seems that isn’t going to be permitted. A soft touch on my arm startles me back to harsh reality, the burning heat of it making me gasp after so long in the cold. “Stay with me, buddy,” the man tells me. “Everything’s gonna be okay now.”

The light on the stairs behind him is eclipsed suddenly by something massive, and the faceless man and his silent partner fade into nothingness as this third, vital force flows through them. Hands enclose my face between their sun-kissed warmth, and the fragrance of the forest envelops me, words soothing my agony like warm droplets of tropical rain. “Oh, Chief.”

I can’t help it – I start to cry.

***

God knows how long he’s been chained here, forced to sit upright against the wall, but by the state he’s in, I’d venture a guess at the whole fucking time he’s been gone. Judging by the smell and the mess, which is obvious even with my senses dialed right down, he’s not even been allowed up from this spot to use a toilet.

I’d hardly know it was him but for the blueness of his eyes. He’s looking at me now so intensely, so anxiously, as though he’s afraid I’ll disappear if he blinks. He’s sitting stiffly, as though he can’t move. I’m pretty certain he’s been beaten; it looks like both arms are broken, at the very least.

I bury my rage. Now is not the time.

My hands feel the roughness of beard, the trickle of his tears. His head is heavy in my hands, so heavy, and I encourage him to let me carry his weight for a little while. “Relax, Blair,” I tell him. “I’ve got you, and I’m not letting go.” While my hands take the weight of his head, my outstretched fingers explore the collar at his throat, seeking an opening and feeling where it has cut into his flesh – Jesus, it’s barbaric.

Blair doesn’t speak, just keeps squinting at me with that look of panicked desperation on his face. I realize that he can’t see me very well; I’ve got the light at my back. So I keep talking to him, making sure he knows it’s me. “Just looking for a way to get this off, Chief. Soon as we get you free, we’ll get you out of here. Get you taken care of and cleaned up, huh? I bet you’re more than ready for that.”

There’s movement to my right: Simon. “Dear god,” he says, sounding appalled. But that’s all the time he allows himself for shock. He nudges my shoulder, a blanket in his hand. “The forensic chief gave me this.”

I’m not moving my hands from Blair’s face – I’m not gonna let this fucking piece of metal around his neck hurt him any more. “Wrap it around him, huh? He’s freezing. But be careful – he’s hurt. Not sure how bad,” I direct Simon.

He’s already moving before I finish speaking, draping the blanket over Blair’s torso and gently tucking it around his shoulders. “Hey, Blair,” he says, his voice more tender than I’ve ever heard it when addressing my partner. “You hold on, you hear me, son? We’re gonna get you out of here real soon.”

There’s another rush of silent tears over my hands, and I feel Blair swallow, the movement making the collar move. If I wasn’t holding his head up, it would have pressed once more into his already abused flesh.

God, I can’t even articulate the intense anger I’m feeling. But I push it down, deep down. That’s not what Blair needs from me right now.

My fingers are still carefully seeking and at last, I find it: the thing is padlocked together around the back. I call out to the forensic tech who is still standing behind me, her colleague having gone back up the stairs. “I need the key for this padlock,” I say over my shoulder. “Either that or something to break the lock.”

“Already on it,” the woman tells me. “Charlie’s gone to get some cutters out of our kit. We’ll have him free in no time, Detective.”

I nod, secure in the knowledge that the people I’m with are professionals who can deal with this situation without unnecessary drama.

A few seconds later, Charlie kneels beside me. He’s calm and efficient. “Is there enough play in the chain to lean him forward slightly?” he asks me.

“Just about,” I tell him. Blair’s head is still heavy in my hands, so I do what Charlie asks. Blair gasps, jerking in fright, and my thumbs soothe his temples. “Easy, Blair,” I say. “Trust me, okay? I’m not gonna let you be hurt, all right? We’re just gonna get this thing off of you.”

Charlie leans in, and shines a flashlight at the back of Blair’s neck. He nods. “This should work,” he assures me, handing the flashlight to his partner, who obligingly shines it in the same place. “Just hold him steady, Detective,” he tells me. His voice softens, as he addresses Blair. “It’s gonna feel a little uncomfortable, just for a minute, okay? Hang in there, Blair. Your partner’s got you.”

Blair doesn’t react at the guy’s words, but he groans when Charlie brings the cutters into play, flinching against my hands as the collar twists in response. I lean in close, murmuring reassurance. “Easy, easy.” My lips brush his skin, which tastes of sweat and pain and fear. “I’m here,” I tell him. “It’ll be over soon.”

And it is. Charlie’s triumphant, “Got it!” tells me the exact second he gets Blair free. The collar buckles as it comes undone, and Charlie immediately drops the cutters on the floor to wrestle it open. Blair shudders as it comes off, his whole body drooping sideways into my arms the moment he is deprived of the support of the chain, his head a dead weight as I guide it against my shoulder.

I hear Simon behind me, as I cradle Blair’s limp body in my arms. He’s bellowing up the stairs. “Where the hell are those paramedics?”

Now I’m no longer holding just Blair’s head, I can feel other things: the heat and swelling of broken bones, the dry onset of fever. I’m afraid to lie Blair down, worried that I’ll exacerbate his injuries so, with Charlie’s help, I move him forward just a little and slide in behind him, positioning myself at his back against the very wall he was secured against all this time. I lean him back against my chest, his head resting back on my shoulder, hoping my body heat will find its way through and take away some of the intense chill. He’s sopping wet, sodden with water and other, fouler fluids, which start to seep into my clothes as well.

But I don’t care. This is all I want: to hold Blair in my arms, to reassure him, and me, of his safety.

Thank god, the paramedics arrive soon afterward, and we begin the arduous task of bringing Blair back out into the light.

***

I think I can see sunlight again. It’s seeping through the vertical slits of the blind which cover the window, falling in gentle, golden rows across the ceiling and the wall. I follow the path it takes with my eyes, and find Jim sleeping in a chair beside me, the sunlight bathing his flawless skin with its glow.

As I watch his eyes open and he smiles at me, a tender smile, full of love and care. “Hey,” he says gently. “How’re you doing, Chief?”

I blink, half expecting the dream to fade, as it usually does. But Jim is still here. Not only that, he’s touching me now, palming my cheek carefully. His eyes are flecked with sunlight; sparkling, as they gaze into mine.

A memory surfaces, then. His hands finding me in the darkness, his gentleness transporting me out of a living nightmare.

Gazing into those light-filled eyes, wanting so much to hold on to this moment forever, I find myself drifting, nevertheless; spiraling down inexorably into the darkness at their core. Only this time, I’m not afraid.

I know now that I’ll be back here with him, in the sunlight, soon.

***

Blair is being given some pretty heavy duty painkillers. That, combined with the after-effects of the surgery he had when he was first brought here, as well as his utter physical and emotional debilitation, has contrived to keep him mostly out of it for the past few days. He surfaced briefly a moment ago, just for a few seconds, and looked at me for the first time since we pulled him out of that hellhole with recognition in his eyes. It reassured me that he’s actually still in there.

At least I can be content in the knowledge that he’s feeling no pain right now. I don’t imagine that will last once he finally wakes up properly, and reality hits.

It took the E.R. staff a long time to clean him up and deal with his injuries but, thankfully, Blair was either insensible or anaesthetized for most of it. He’s a mess, with multiple broken bones which had to be re-set and numerous contusions, not to mention the painful lesions all over his lower body caused by sitting in his own waste for days on end. He’s on intravenous fluids as well as antibiotics to combat infection, and he’s currently being fed through a tube, since he’d basically almost starved to death since the sadistic fucker died.

All in all he’s in pretty bad shape. But at least he’ll live, thank god.

It’s going to be a while before he’s awake and aware enough for the psychological effects of his ordeal to be assessed, and I’m fully expecting that there will be repercussions. No one could live through what he has, and come out unchanged.

Kidnapped, beaten and terrorized. Then chained up alone in the dark, starving, in agony and terrified, for over a week.

Goddamn it. I wish the bastard who did this to him wasn’t already dead, so I could kill him myself.

***

I’m back in the dark, and it hurts. Oh man, it hurts so much.

I’ve been dreaming again; dreaming about safety and comfort, dreaming that Jim swept in on a fucking sunbeam to rescue me. I’m so goddamned pathetic.

“Hey, it’s okay, Blair. Just relax.”

I’m chained up and yeah, it hurts all over, and I’m scared every single second that he’s gonna come back and finish what he started. As time goes on, I'm just as fucking scared that he won't. But as of this moment I’m alive, man. I’ve just got to hold on to that, right?

“Easy, Chief. Just keep breathing.”

But the problem is, I’m not holding on all that well anymore. I keep freaking out. I can’t stop freaking out. I want out of here so bad, want the pain to stop, want to be warm, want to lie down. And yeah, rescue would be fucking fantastic, man, except if the cavalry ever actually does arrive, I truly don’t want anyone to find me sitting in my own shit like this.

Most of all, I don’t want to die here. Please, not like this. I just…

I don’t want to die.

Please… please…

“Easy, Blair, come on. Keep still - you’ll hurt yourself. Just relax, Chief.”

The voice, Jim’s voice, is so close. And suddenly I’m back in the dream again, the one I keep having. I’m not shivering with cold any longer, and I’m lying down with my head on a pillow. I can feel the weave of blanket under my questing fingers, feel a gentle hand stirring my hair in a comforting caress. Although I’m still hurting it’s muted, somehow, the hard edges of pain dulled and blunted within the cocooning softness. “Please,” I beg again, wanting so badly for it not to be a dream, needing so much for it to be real. “Please, oh man, I can’t… ”

“Hey, hey!” Jim’s voice sounds like it’s right next to my ear, the puff of his breath warm on my face. “It’s all right, Blair; it’s okay. It’s all over, buddy. You’re safe now.”

I should open my eyes. I should find out once and for all if it’s real; if it truly is over, or if this is all nothing more than a desperation-fueled fantasy. But god help me, I’m too scared. Such a coward. So afraid that, once again, all I’ll see is darkness beyond my eyelids; nothing but brutal, hopeless nothingness.

So scared that Jim was never really here at all.

Then I feel lips move against my temple, soft and dry and spectacularly corporeal. “Trust me,” Jim whispers huskily, all deep promise and raw hope.

And at last, his words set me free.

***

It’s the middle of the night, and Blair is dreaming. He’s been talking in his sleep, and it’s clear that he’s reliving an eternity in hell.

After a while of talking to him softly, coaxing him back into consciousness, he finally opens his eyes. And now he’s blinking up at me, dread morphing into a kind of terrified hope as he focuses on my face.

“Hey,” I say gently. “You with me, Blair?”

His eyes dart anxiously around the hospital room, taking in its all-too-familiar trappings, before he turns back to look at me. Then he nods painfully, the bandage around his neck impeding movement just a little. “Yeah,” he says hoarsely.

He’s finally awake and aware. I’m ecstatic to see the return of sense in his eyes, and proud of the fierce courage it’s taken to bring him, unbroken, this far.

He’ll get through this, no question. We’ll get through this together, in fact, and if he needs me to carry him for a little while until he finds his feet, then I’m more than happy to do so.

I spend the next little while trying to make him more comfortable, giving him ice chips to suck, straightening the bed-covers and making sure the tubes and wires that are still attached are not causing him any undue discomfort. He’s sweating with pain when we’re done, so I press the button which will summon a nurse; it’s a little past the time he should have been given a dose of pain meds.

All the time he’s watching me, hardly blinking. The nurse arrives but, before she can dose him, he pleads, “Jim, I don’t want to go back there, man.”

It’s a strange thing to say, of course that will never happen. But I know he doesn’t mean it literally. He’s terrified that, when the painkillers take hold and he drifts off back to sleep, he’ll find himself back in his nightmare, the drugs making it hard for him to wake up and escape from it.

But he needs this. Needs relief from the pain; needs to rest and allow his body a chance to heal.

I lean in close. “You’re not going back,” I tell him firmly, willing him to believe it. This is the man, after all, who taught me the power of positive thought; time to turn it back around and make it work for him. “No more bad dreams, huh? You’re safe now. Just keep telling yourself that you’re safe.”

There’s the slightest flicker of a smile in response, which makes my heart leap with joy. “A mantra, huh? I guess I can do that.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly it. ‘I am safe’. You got that, Chief?”

He nods resignedly but, despite his brave words, he still looks so frightened, so tired. I reach out and smooth the lines from his brow. “Go back to sleep, huh? I’m going to stay right here with you.”

The nurse is emptying a syringe into Blair’s drip. She nods at me, smiling, and silently leaves. We’ve struck up something of a rapport since Blair has been in here, and I’m grateful for her subtlety and unobtrusiveness right now. All the medical staff here are aware of what my partner went through, and have been more than supportive of my constant presence at his side.

Now she’s gone I lean in, and kiss him gently on the forehead. Still speaking softly, I tell him, “You’re not alone, Chief. Not any more.”

Something in that assurance seems to have gotten through and god, no way is it a surprise that loneliness is a trigger, considering the barbaric isolation he was subjected to. I’m relieved when he relaxes with a huge, shuddering sigh, his eyes closing.

As his breath evens out gradually into sleep, the painkillers taking hold, I enclose his fingers in mine for a moment, cradling his broken arm gently before I tuck it inside and bring the covers up to his neck to keep him warm.

Then I lean back in the reclining chair beside Blair’s bed, wishing nothing more than to be able to find him in his dreams and keep him safe there too.


~End



Comments are welcome, but are absolutely not necessary - all of my stories are offered freely and without obligation. If you do wish to comment below please sign your name/pseudonym if you are not logged-in to Dreamwidth or Open ID, or alternatively you can email me at fluterbev@gmail.com



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Date: 2007-07-31 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
What a fantastic story. I loved it. :)

Date: 2007-08-01 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm so glad you liked it. And welcome to my new journal! :-)

Date: 2007-08-01 09:45 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
Thank you. :)

Date: 2007-09-02 08:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] valiree.livejournal.com
Wow, so much things here ... you break my heart ! I'm running to read your other stories.

Date: 2007-09-02 09:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm really happy you enjoyed it :-)

Tough story to read

Date: 2007-09-02 11:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tlyna.livejournal.com
Tough story to read, but so well worth it as always with your stories.

Re: Tough story to read

Date: 2007-09-03 07:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Thank you! I really appreciate your lovely comment :-)

Your new site

Date: 2007-11-02 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mrs-tilford.livejournal.com
Nice place you have here.

I'm enjoying your new format and especially your story, I Thought I Saw Sunlight, and I'm on my way to see what else you've been doing lately, knowing that you never disappoint.

Re: Your new site

Date: 2007-11-02 02:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Hey, there! I was honestly just thinking about you the other day, and wondering if you were still around on LJ. Nice to see you!

Thanks for your kind words about my new site - I've really enjoyed putting it together :-). and I'm so glad you liked the story. I hope you'll find some other stuff to your liking, too! :-)

Date: 2007-11-18 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] numom1.livejournal.com
Excellent story! Love the Blair whumping, but especially love the care that Jim shows for Blair - my favorite part of any story. I love how you weave the imagery of the sunlight shining through. Also, the part where Blair was in the forest and where he was talking about saying goodbye, was a bit scary as it showed how close he actually was to death and just letting go. All in all, a great story! Thanks for sharing it with all of us!

Laura

Date: 2007-11-20 09:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Hi there, Laura! Thank so much for the lovely feedback :-)

Date: 2008-01-05 11:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] betagoddess.livejournal.com

Glad you mentioned this fic in your post today, because it's WELL worth a read. You do BlairHurt/JimComfort SO well. Thanks for sharing it with us. *g*

Date: 2008-01-07 10:54 am (UTC)
ext_14365: If you made this, tell me and I'll credit (Default)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev.livejournal.com
Thanks! :-D

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