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Summary: An extended epilogue for Blind Man's Bluff. Misunderstandings lead to misery for Blair.


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Outstanding Comfort Scene



Golden Confusion
By Fluterbev

February 2004



The first thing he really knew was a sense of utter wrongness.

For an endless time he had drifted in golden light, tendrils of flame snapping sharply and hotly at the fringes of feeling, making him flinch now and again in pain.

Awareness of his body now gradually impeded on his fragmented consciousness. He felt as heavy as lead, aching in every joint. He was oddly afraid to move, and for a while pondered this problem, as other discomforts made themselves known. His throat was as raw as if it had been rubbed with sandpaper, his head pounded, and a golden, shimmering light dazzled his eyes; although he was pretty certain that they were closed.

All that he knew for sure was that something bad had happened. Something really bad. Voices were muttering just out of earshot, and concentrating, he picked up one or two words, none of which made any sense: “Overdose… possible liver damage… suicide attempt… involuntary ingestion… breathing unassisted now… ”

Other noises began to register; a steady beeping, distant, echoing corridor sounds, a voice paging a doctor on a muted public address system.

Hospital, then.

Had he been in an accident? Why couldn’t he remember?

And why did it feel so wrong?

He was still trying to work it out when the golden light swept him up again, and propelled him buoyantly along in its current.

~oO0Oo~

Nurse Sylvia Mancini had just come back to work after a long absence, straight into duty in ICU. She was still on anti-depressants, but her doctor had thought it would do her good to return to work part-time. A significant part of her identity was tied up in her job, and it was important that she try to regain the sense of self-worth that her career imbued upon her.

Sylvia hadn’t been on duty for more than five minutes, when a multi-vehicle pile-up had pulled all available hands into the fray. Except for her – someone had to remain on duty with the critically ill patients in ICU, and she had been nominated for the responsibility. And now, less than half-an-hour after starting back at work, she had discovered this situation. And memories, unbidden, had already risen up to choke her.

Sylvia always liked to get to know her patients, even when they were not in a position to tell her about themselves; believing that the quality of care she could give was improved if she knew more about them. She usually spoke to other staff concerned with their welfare, as well as relatives, but this extremely ill young man was alone, and everyone else was tied up with the frantic emergency in ER. So instead, Sylvia looked in his coat pocket to try and get some information about her patient other than that which was on his chart.

She had discovered two things. A wallet, containing a Rainier ID, indicating that the young man in her care was - like her own son had been - twenty-six years old, and a graduate student at Rainier University. And a small sachet of golden powder – just like the one she had found beside her darling Mark’s lifeless body two months ago.

Part of Sylvia’s approach to her own grief had been to educate herself about drugs and their dangers, so that she could campaign to prevent other youngsters from losing their health and their lives, like Mark had. She knew, therefore, that the amount of golden in this tiny packet was in fact considerable, and worth a small fortune. This innocent-seeming boy in the bed, therefore, was quite likely far from innocent, because anyone with this much golden in their possession did not generally intend for it to be purely for their own personal use. Rage rose in her as she looked at her patient in a whole new light. For this young man, lying with his long hair fanned out on the pillow like a halo was, in all likelihood, a dealer who peddled the same substance that had cost Mark his life. No doubt his current condition was the result of some kind of accidental over-exposure to the poison he so callously foisted on others.

Others – just like Mark.

She had not been able to steer her beautiful baby boy from his self-destructive and ultimately fatal path, but perhaps, if she took action now, she could spare some other mother’s child from the same tragic fate. Sparing one hard glance at the youth in the bed, she made up her mind without any difficulty. Resolute, she lifted the phone, and called Cascade PD.

~oO0Oo~

The golden haze still filled his vision, but the next time he drifted back to awareness, Blair was a little more conscious of his surroundings. Hospital, he acknowledged.

But he still couldn’t remember why he was here, or what had happened.

This time, at least, his body seemed to be obeying some of his commands. Desperate for something to ease his throat, he tried to call out, but the harsh seagull-like croak that came out did not seem to have much to do with speech.

A stern face came into view; tendrils of golden light coiling out from it like Medusa. Vaguely, Blair wondered if looking in its fierce eyes would turn him to stone. Something came nearer to his face, twining sinuously through the viscous golden light, and he flinched, afraid. The Medusa spoke, its voice booming in his ears. “Just some ice, to ease your throat.” Mesmerized, Blair watched as the thing came closer, burning through his lips, to deposit blessed coldness in his parched mouth.

He closed his eyes and swallowed, the ice going straight to the agony in his throat and easing it. More came, and Blair sighed in relief. Opening his eyes once more, he saw that the Medusa was really a woman, although now he wondered if he had turned her to stone, her expression was so uncompromising. Not even the ever-present golden glow softened her features.

She spoke, the booming, uncanny voice quieted now to a more mortal cadence, although the tone was as hard as granite. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she said, her eyes boring twin streams of glowing fury straight into Blair. “Do you realize how many people you’ve hurt? How many people you’ve killed?”

Blair’s heart pounded suddenly, arhythmically, his breath stuck in his throat, as he digested what she said.

People he had hurt. People he had killed.

Suddenly he couldn’t breathe, and black spots danced amidst the golden haze. Because a memory came to him then, an odd scenario that his gut told him was somehow more than a dream – of firing a gun over and over, of wanting to vanquish the fiery creatures who were besieging him. Creatures who spoke with the voices of men.

And one creature in particular, who spoke with Jim’s voice.

Now, he was only vaguely aware of voices shouting, of an oxygen mask being lowered onto his face, of hustle and bustle around his bed. As the darkness took him, one agonizing question echoed over and over, the all-pervading wrongness he felt now given substance: who the hell had he killed? And that awful train of thought led on to its logical conclusion, and he was forced to consider his deepest dread.

Oh god, had he killed Jim?

~oO0Oo~

When the patient – Blair Sandburg, according to his chart – had woken briefly, Sylvia had been unable to hold back her anger and resentment at people like him, who preyed on the weak and vulnerable for their own sick profit. To her shame, her unprofessional behavior had resulted in Sandburg’s blood pressure soaring. He had become tachycardic, and experienced some difficulty breathing before passing out.

Given how sick Sandburg still was, his reaction to stress was not at all surprising. Now he was on oxygen, and his heart rate had stabilized at last, but he was still unconscious. Cursing herself for letting her personal problems influence her care of a patient, Sylvia vowed to put her own troubles aside and do her job. Distasteful as it was, Sandburg was entitled to the same care as any one else, and really needed to be kept calm until the drug was completely out of his system. It was not Sylvia’s job, but that of the justice system, to punish him for his crimes. She was just here to make sure he got well, so that the law could take its course.

Her musing was interrupted by a voice behind her. “Nurse Mancini?” Turning, she saw Kelvin Sommers, a uniformed officer in the Narcotics division of Cascade PD, standing in the doorway.

She smiled a little sadly. The last time she had seen this man was during the inquiry into Mark’s death. At the time, she had thought him a little gung-ho, but he did seem to get the job done, with his zero-tolerance attitude to drug pushers. “Officer Sommers,” she answered. “Yes, I called about this patient,” she said, indicating the still form on the bed. “Please, come in. I need to show you what I found.”

~oO0Oo~

Officer Sommers had just come back today, of all days, from an extended – and involuntary - leave of absence. The truth was, he had been suspended from duty while allegations of brutality were investigated. It had all been a crock of shit – yes, he had gotten a little rough with a suspect, but the scumbag had been suspected of selling crack to kids at a school, for Christ’s sake!

His fucking partner, of all people, had grassed him up, which was why he had opted to answer this call alone, without waiting for the other half of the dynamic duo. He had only just arrived in the Narcotics bullpen at the start of the evening shift, when the notification had come in that a patient in Cascade General had been found to be in possession of a suspected – and significantly large - packet of golden. He hadn’t even taken off his jacket; just headed straight back out after taking the call.

Now, it would be fair to say, he could not believe his eyes. For there, in the bed, was the-darling-of-Major-Crime Jim Ellison’s freaky-hippy-ride-along Blair Sandburg, with a portion of golden – big enough to have a street value of hundreds of dollars - sitting in his pocket. He had always suspected the little bastard wasn’t as clean as everybody made out, and now, he thought smugly, he had the proof. God, he was going to enjoy seeing this rubbed in Ellison’s face. He had never liked the smug son of a bitch, ever since they’d worked together in Vice, when Detective Wunderkind had been put on the fast-track to Major Crime, and all he had scored was a step up the uniform ladder in Narcotics.

“I’m glad you reported this, Ms. Mancini,” he told the nurse who had called it in. “This shit, pardon me, ma’am, this drug is one of the most dangerous to ever hit the streets. But I know you know that, with your own loss. What was it, two months ago now?”

Sylvia nodded sadly. “Yes. That’s right. This is my first day back at work since it happened.”

Sommers was all sympathy. “I’m so sorry, ma’am. Your boy was a victim of scum like this,” he said, indicating the man in the bed. “But you needn’t worry. There’s enough evidence here to arrest him and charge him with possession. It won’t be hard to get a confession that he was dealing as well, after we lean on him a bit. And,” he smiled reassuringly, “putting this guy away is going to save countless lives. You can be sure of that. You did exactly the right thing.”

~oO0Oo~

The next time Blair woke, his head was a little clearer, the oxygen mask had gone, and the ever-present golden fog had thinned a little, allowing him to make out a little of the hospital room he was in.

Pondering why he was there brought back a sudden memory of what had been said to him earlier and, overwhelmed suddenly with fear and guilt, he pulled in a gasping breath, his heart pounding like a jackhammer.

A face emerged once again out of the light; the same woman as before, who he now could see was a nurse. “Easy,” she said; her touch calming but her eyes hard. “Calm down. With the drug still in your system, you can’t be sedated, but you really have to be calm. Take deep breaths.”

He didn’t think he could. He desperately wanted to know what he had done to spark this nurse’s ire. Who had he hurt? Who had he killed? Where was Jim? Was he, as Blair was so terribly afraid, dead too? And what was that about a drug in his system? The words wouldn’t come, so he tried to lift a hand, the one not pierced by a drip-needle, appealing frantically for help. But his other hand wouldn’t move. Something hard and cold bisected his wrist, something which restrained him to the bed.

A handcuff.

Shocked, he lay still again, and listened as the nurse spoke to someone out of his field of vision. Then the space in the golden mist, where her face had been, was filled by another face. A hard face, with hatred between the brows. A cop’s face.

“Blair Sandburg,” the cop said, “You have the right to remain silent …”

As he was Mirandized, all hope that there might have been a terrible mistake fled, replaced by the certainty that somehow Blair had done something really terrible. Something that had involved hurting people, and even killing them. And worst of all, that one of them might have been Jim.

But other than the nightmarish vision which constantly replayed in his head, of him holding a gun and shooting at glowing demons, why couldn’t he remember what had happened?

~oO0Oo~

It was taking far longer than Jim had expected to wrap up the bust. He was impatient to get back to Cascade General, not wanting Blair to wake up alone, but as lead officer on the case he had no choice but to participate in the processing of the suspects and all the paperwork and media hype that went along with it. This was a high profile case, and Simon had impressed upon him (the Mayor having impressed in turn upon him) how important it was that they did everything right and by the book. There was no way these guys were going to be allowed to get off.

In a brief, quiet moment, he called the hospital, and spoke to the nurse in charge of Blair’s care, anxious for word on his partner. He was told that yes, Mister Sandburg had woken briefly, and although still very sick he was now off the respirator and on the mend, and that another police officer was with him at the moment. Jim supposed it might be Henri – he had developed a soft spot for the kid and had been, after all, in the parking garage when the whole shooting incident had taken place, when poor Blair had been terrified out of his drugged mind.

At least, therefore, Blair wasn’t on his own. Satisfied that Sandburg was in good hands, Jim turned his mind back to what had to be done, after vowing to go and see his partner just as soon as he managed to get out of here.

~oO0Oo~

“Please,” Blair had found his voice at last. “Please, I need…”

“Hey, shut the fuck up, kid. Nurse Mancini has other patients, you know.” The cop’s voice, the one who had arrested him.

“Please,” Blair said again, “Is Jim… is he dead?”

“I thought I told you to shut up. And anyway, how the hell should I know? Who is this ‘Jim’? One of your smack-head buddies?”

Blair’s voice faltered. “Det… Detective Ellison.”

“Oh,” the cop drawled. “That Jim. Well, your pal was still alive and kicking, last I heard. Except,” he chuckled nastily, “guess he’s not your pal anymore. He’s not here, is he?”

Blair didn’t answer. Instead he turned his face to the wall, silent tears of mingled relief and anguish burning bitter tracks down his cheeks, turning the fiery haze into a blurry, golden mist.

Jim wasn’t dead. Blair hadn’t killed him, even if he’d apparently killed other people, in what he now realized must have been a drugged orgy of violence. And for the fact that Jim was still alive, Blair was utterly grateful, even though it no doubt meant that the most profound friendship Blair had ever experienced was over for good.

Because Ellison would clearly want nothing more to do with a murderer. And as the cop had said, Jim wasn’t here.

~oO0Oo~

Heading into the break room, Jim almost bumped in to Henri Brown. “Whoa, man,” said Henri, “Where’s the fire?”

“Hey, H.” Jim carried on past, then at a sudden thought, turned round. “Yo, Brown?” he called. “How was Sandburg?”

Henri frowned. “Sandburg? Last I saw him was down in the garage, man. Ain’t you been in to see him?”

Jim was puzzled. Which other officer would be with Sandburg? “Never mind, H. Forget it.”

Henri turned and carried on the way he was going. “Later,” he called.

Shaking his head, Jim went to get coffee.

~oO0Oo~

Blair must have drifted off again, when a sound intruded on his consciousness – raised voices, an argument.

“This is ridiculous! This man was brought in here because of involuntary ingestion of a narcotic. The cops were with him! No-one said anything about him committing a crime!”

Blair didn’t recognize the speaker, but he knew the next voice, the cop. “Believe me, Doc, I love to give people the benefit of the doubt. But the evidence is clear. All I want from you is an indication of when he can be moved to the prison hospital.”

There was a pause, and then the voice Blair assumed must be the doctor replied. “He’s still very sick. He needs to stay in ICU for a while longer.”

“How long, exactly?” The cop’s voice was impatient.

“Maybe if you’d get out of here so I can examine my patient, I can give you a better idea. Please, wait outside.”

“I’m sorry, Doc, I can’t do that. This man is under guard.”

Exasperation flared. “Where the hell do you think he can go? He’s cuffed to the bed, even if he wasn’t critically ill. Get out, before I call security.”

“Okay, Doc,” the cop answered with bad grace. “I can let you have five minutes, then I’m coming back. He might be your patient, but he’s my prisoner.”

The door opened and closed, and Blair heard footsteps approach the bed. He stirred as a stethoscope touched his chest, and looked up at the doctor, who shimmered in the light like an angel.

The doctor smiled at him, with no trace of the hatred or the fury that had been in the faces of the others he had seen. “Hello son. My name is Doctor O’Connor. I’m just checking you out. How do you feel?”

The gentleness of tone caused an answering reaction in Blair, as fear and grief welled up, and the doctor’s image was obliterated as a veil of golden tears blocked his vision. He couldn’t answer, and felt his shoulder caught in a strong grip. “Easy, son. Easy, now. You’re going to feel pretty emotional for a while until the drug wears off. It’s nothing to worry about. You’re doing just fine. There’s no lasting damage as far as we can tell, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make a full recovery.”

“Please…” Blair knew he didn’t deserve it, after what he had done, but he still needed to hear again that Jim was okay. “Jim…”

The hand on his shoulder squeezed. “Jim? Is that your cop buddy, the guy who brought you in?” When Blair nodded, Doctor O’Connor carried on, “Would you like me to call him for you? Maybe he can help straighten all this out.”

Blair shook his head vigorously. “No. Don’t call,” he forced out past the lump in his throat. He couldn’t bear that Jim might look at him with disgust.

“Okay, son. Settle down.” O’Connor paused, then leaned closer. “Blair? Is that your name?” When Blair nodded, the doctor carried on, “Listen to me, Blair. This is important. You’re in a very vulnerable state right now, and despite what that guy out there says, I’m not so sure you understand fully what’s going on here. Now, if you don’t want me to get Jim for you, is there someone else I can call? Someone who can sit with you until you get released from the hospital? And I really think you need a lawyer.”

Blair shook his head, the tears now a steady stream; sure that there was no one who would want anything to do with him. “No. Nobody,” he muttered brokenly.

O’Connor heaved a sigh. “Okay. Listen to me, then. First of all, you’re doing fine, and if circumstances were different, I’d discharge you from ICU into a general ward. But If I do that, that guy out there is entitled to take you. I’m not happy about releasing you into custody in these circumstances, and so I’m keeping you here for another twenty-four hours, where he can’t touch you. In the meantime, if I were you, I’d be thinking about who to call for some advice. Because I think you’re in a pretty serious situation here. Do you understand me, Blair?”

“Yeah,” Blair nodded tearfully, swallowing. “I understand.”

The hand patted his shoulder. “Try to rest. Okay? I’ll be back in a while to see how you’re doing.” Behind him, the door opened, and O’Connor called irately over his shoulder, “Do you mind?”

“Five minutes are up, Doc. Can I arrange to take him now? I’ve already checked that the prison hospital has a bed.”

The Doctor patted Blair’s shoulder reassuringly once again, then turned away, and Blair heard him talking quietly to the cop by the door. “He’s still critical. Until I’m satisfied he’s stabilized, he needs to stay in ICU for at least another twenty-four hours. I suggest you make yourself comfortable, or call in some relief. It could be a while before he’s well enough to be moved.”

“Shit.” The cop sounded really pissed off.

“And another thing,” the doctor added, “I don’t want you bothering him. You will stand guard out there, not in this room. He needs to stay calm and relaxed, and the stress of being arrested is already playing havoc with his blood pressure, which is putting a dangerous strain on his heart, with the narcotic still in his bloodstream. If I hear that you have been harassing my patient in any way, I will call your superiors and have you removed from the hospital. Do I make myself clear?”

“What the hell kinda animal do you think I am?” the cop growled. “I’m just doing my job, Doc, same as you. And if fewer guys like him were on the streets, neither of us would have to deal with shit like this. You get what I’m saying?”

Exhausted, scared and heartsick, Blair drifted off again to dreams of glowing demons and gunshots.

~oO0Oo~

As he walked away from his patient’s hospital room towards the nurses’ station, Doctor O’Connor’s stride was resolute. That young man might have said he didn’t want his friend Jim or anyone else called, but influenced by the narcotic as he was, he was obviously not thinking straight. Anyone who was arrested was entitled to one phone call, but O’Connor didn’t believe for one minute that Sommers had accorded him that basic right; and ill as Blair Sandburg still was, he was in no position to demand it.

It was time to take matters into his own hands, and act as an advocate. That sick youngster was quite patently not capable of protecting himself right now. Walking straight up to the nurse on duty, O’Connor demanded, with all the authority his status accorded him, to see the file on Blair Sandburg.

~oO0Oo~

After a hastily grabbed cup of coffee in the break room, Jim was now back at his desk, trying to finish the last part of his report. Heaving an exhausted sigh, he leaned back from the dancing letters on the screen, and rubbed his eyes tiredly. The golden glow still hovered around the fringes of everything, but at least he could see again. Man, he had been scared that his sight was gone for good.

Blair, he reflected, had been a rock throughout the whole thing, finding ways to help Jim manage without his eyesight, and backing Ellison up even when he had been terrified out of his wits. What a stroke of genius that had been - pretending that his new techno-toy laser pointer had been a laser sight. The memory of it made Jim grin proudly. His wacky professor partner had a knack of thinking on his feet, using whatever came to hand to get them out of sticky situations. But for Blair’s quick thinking, Jim would most likely have been killed there and then.

Then Jim’s grin faded as he remembered Blair’s voice in the station garage, heavy with unshed tears and full of terror. And then later, the few times Sandburg had drifted to awareness in the hospital, scared, disorientated and unable to breathe by himself, still apparently seeing terrifying visions of uncanny monsters. It was a miracle, Jim knew, that more people hadn’t eaten the drugged pizza, and just Blair’s bad luck that of all the people it had been aimed at, he was the one who had been hit. And god, but he didn’t deserve it. As soon as he could, Jim intended to tell him so, and also tell him what a good job he’d done while they had worked this case. It was time Blair realized how much Jim valued their partnership.

A tall figure appeared before him, interrupting his train of thought, and he looked up wearily at the Captain of Major Crimes. “Jim,” said Simon. “Go home. Take the report with you and do it there. I’ll get it off you tomorrow.”

Jim shook his head. “It’s about done, sir. I’ll finish it here. Anyway, I’m not going home for a while.”

Simon nodded, not surprised. “Going to check up on the kid?”

Jim nodded. “Yeah. The nurse said a little while ago that he was doing okay. He’s off the ventilator, and he woke up and was coherent.”

“But you want to see for yourself,” Simon finished for him.

Jim nodded.

“You tell him from me, Jim, that we’re all thinking about him. I’ll be up to see him too, just as soon as I’ve finished here.”

“You don’t have to do that, Simon-” Jim began.

But Simon cut him off. “Detective, even though he is an unpaid observer, Sandburg is one of my men. He was attacked, hell he was poisoned, here in my bullpen. Therefore I will be up to see him later.”

Jim smiled. “Thank you, sir. I know he’ll appreciate that.”

Simon grinned. “Yeah, just don’t tell him I said so. Or they’ll…”

“Never find the body,” Jim joined in, and they both laughed, the old joke not at all funny after a million and one times, but they both needed the release after the stress of the last few days.

Simon left him alone again and, feeling a little lighter at heart, Jim finished his report quickly and sent it to the printer. After signing it and placing it in Simon’s tray, he grabbed his coat and headed out.

As the doors to the elevator closed behind him, his desk phone began to ring.

~oO0Oo~

Blair came back to awareness a little clearer headed, though still feeling a bit muddled. The golden aurora surrounding everything had decreased a little, and the room was more in focus now. His head still pounded, and that, along with the remaining visual disturbance, reminded him of the occasional migraine headache he sometimes suffered from.

The room was quiet and empty, so the cop – Blair couldn’t remember ever being told his name – had apparently taken the doctor’s words to heart, and taken up position outside the room. Any hopes that being arrested had been simply another hallucination, or that it had all been an awful blunder, were dashed when he flexed his wrist to find it still handcuffed to the bed.

The overwhelming feeling of guilt and horror he felt still weighed him down, but despite that, Blair at last found himself a little more able to think about what had happened.

He understood now that somehow he had gotten under the influence of a drug; and from the golden glow around everything, he supposed it must be ‘golden’, the new designer drug he had heard about. But, as he searched his memory to work out how that could be, all he could find were gaping holes.

Taking a deep breath, exhaling slowly through his mouth and then repeating the cycle, he tried to relax and find his center. As he did so, he cast his mind back, trying to work out what the last thing was that he could remember.

But it was all a jumble. He had vague recollections of working with Jim on a case, but he couldn’t remember what it had been about. For some reason, he kept thinking of bats, and for the life of him, he couldn’t work out why. And over it all was the nightmarish vision which kept repeating over and over in his head – of deadly golden fire people, exploding out of the earth to rend the world to ashes, and of himself desperately firing a gun at them to keep them at bay; knowing that if he didn’t, all that he held dear would be destroyed.

The memory was obviously (given the fact that somehow he had been high on golden) an hallucination. But the nurse had told him he had hurt people, and killed them. And now, he had been arrested. And those facts, along with his dream-like recollection of blindly firing a gun at imaginary monsters, led him over and over to the certain conclusion that he had actually fired a gun; just not at golden fire people, but at people.

He had heard the doctor say that he had ingested the drug involuntarily. As to how that could have happened, he had no idea. But involuntary or not, the fact remained that he had apparently maimed others and taken lives. And as far as he was concerned, being high on a drug was no defense for something as awful as that.

No wonder Jim had gotten the hell away from him.

Overwhelmed once more, Blair turned his face to the wall.

~oO0Oo~

Henri walked back into the bullpen just in time to pick up Ellison’s phone. “Major Crime, Ellison’s desk,” he answered.

“Detective Ellison? This is Dr O’Connor, Cascade General.”

“Uh, no, Doctor, Detective Ellison’s not here. This is Detective Brown. Can I help?

“Maybe you can. I’m calling about one of my patients, a Mister Blair Sandburg. Detective Ellison is listed as his emergency contact, but this is also a police matter. Can I talk to you?”

Puzzled, Henri answered, “Sure, Doc. What’s the problem?” Then he listened incredulously as the tale unfolded.

After a few minutes, he put down the phone and barged straight into Banks’s office. Before Simon even had a chance to growl about the intrusion, Brown said, “Captain, we have a serious situation down at Cascade General. I think you’d better get over there sir, before Ellison does. Because if we don’t stop him in time, there sure as hell is gonna be murder!”

~oO0Oo~

Sylvia Mancini had survived a chewing out from Doctor O’Connor, and was still on duty, “Only because we need all hands on deck just now,” according to him. But she knew she was in serious trouble.

She had only been trying to do the right thing by reporting the drugs in Blair Sandburg’s possession to the cops. But after what the doctor had told her of the circumstances of this young man’s admittance, now she was not so sure her impulsive action had been the right thing.

Apparently this boy had been working with the police when he had accidentally ingested the drug, and was in fact partnered with a cop. His overdose had been, according to the doctor, the result of an attack on the PD, and Sandburg had been the only one unlucky enough to succumb to it.

None of that, though, explained why he had such a large amount of golden in his possession. But Sylvia was astute enough to realize that in view of the facts (he was not only partnered with a cop, but also lived with one, and that same cop held his Power of Attorney), it was unlikely after all that Sandburg was a dealer. Given the attack on the station, it was in fact more likely that the same malicious felons had planted the drug on him.

As she approached Blair Sandburg’s room, she noticed with surprise that Officer Sommers was not in his position by the door. She knew that the doctor had insisted he remain outside the room, so that Sandburg could get some rest. She was horrified, therefore, when she heard his voice coming from inside. “You little shit, you’re going down for this,” she heard him say, his tone ugly with spite. “You thought you were so high and mighty you’d never get found out, you long-haired loser! What gives you the right to hang out with honest cops, huh? You sick doper…”

Sylvia had heard enough. Without hesitation she barged in, to see Sommers leaning over Sandburg, his face twisted with cruelty. The young man on the bed was shaking, his face turned away.

The second that Sommers registered her presence, it was as if a mask was replaced, and the cop’s features smoothed out as he smiled at her. “Nurse Mancini,” he lied boldly, “I heard him call out, but you weren’t around. Came in to see if there was anything I could do.” Straightening up, he brushed past her and out. “I’m going to get some coffee,” he said coolly as he retreated. “I’d be grateful if you would stay with my prisoner until I get back.”

She ignored him and went straight to her patient. Still in the highly suggestible emotional state typical of golden withdrawal, Sandburg was crying and shivering, muttering over and over in a voice full of anguish, “I’m sorry… oh god, I’m so sorry… so sorry…”

Her heart twisting in her breast with pity and self-disgust, she stroked his hair back from his brow, murmuring words of comfort, trying desperately to undo the damage she had done.

~oO0Oo~

When Jim arrived at Cascade General, he headed straight toward Sandburg’s room in ICU. Yawning, still exhausted from the long day and all the stress of the previous week, he failed to extend his hearing ahead into the room. So he was totally taken aback by the sight that greeted him when he walked in the door – his partner in the throes of what appeared to be a complete emotional breakdown, being comforted by an ashen-faced nurse.

“Jesus, Chief,” he muttered, moving faster towards the bed, then pulled up short as he registered something else. Something that definitely should not be there. “What the hell?” For a second, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Then, feeling a red-hot rage descend upon him, he exploded. “What the hell is this? Why the fuck is he handcuffed?”

Startled, the nurse stepped away from the bed. “Sir-” she began.

But Jim didn’t allow her to continue. “Get the hell out of here!” he yelled. “And get me whoever is in charge here, right now!” He couldn’t remember ever feeling so angry. “I want an explanation for this, damn it, unless you want your asses sued from here to eternity!” As she beat a hasty exit, he reached into his pocket for the keys to his own cuffs, and leaned over his shivering partner. “Easy, Chief,” he said softly, the rage which still possessed him lending an edge to his words, “I’m just going to get this off of you. It’s going to be okay.”

Blair turned his head and looked at him, his eyes red, He’d obviously been crying a long time, and his face was twisted with sorrow. “Jim?” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry, man.”

Sorry? What the hell for? The second he had the cuff off, Jim lowered the bed rail and sat down, and placing one hand behind Blair’s head and the other under his shoulders, he pulled Sandburg up, and cradled him in his embrace. “Shh, Chief. Nothing to be sorry about. Everything’s going to be fine, now, partner. I’m here. I’m here.”

“I didn’t mean to do it, Jim.” Sandburg’s voice was muffled, his tears soaking through Jim’s shirt.

Not understanding what it was it partner hadn’t meant to do, Jim answered, “I know, Chief. Whatever’s wrong, it’s okay. We’ll work it out, buddy. Don’t worry. Just relax.”

“Well, isn’t this a touching scene?” The voice cut into Jim’s focus on his partner, and looking up, he was surprised to see Kelvin Sommers, his old colleague-cum-adversary from Vice, lounging in the doorway, a sardonic grin on his face. “Always wondered why you let this junkie hang out with you, Ellison. Now I know. But seeing as you’ve broken him in, maybe Mister Big will be easier on him in the showers once he’s inside!” Sommers chuckled, as though this was a huge joke, either not recognizing or not caring about the danger he was putting himself in. “And for god’s sake, Ellison,” he continued, “Who said you could take that cuff off? He may be your boyfriend, you sick fuck, but he’s my prisoner.”

Ellison’s rage at the shameful treatment of his desperately ill partner found its focus. And in true Ellison style, it manifested in its initial phase as ice.

“What did you say?” The words were quiet, but full of menace.

Sommers looked smug. “I mean it, Ellison. I’m not going to argue over the details with you. He’s going down for possession and dealing, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Get that cuff back on, or I’ll see you up on charges.”

Carefully, Ellison laid Sandburg back down on the bed. Blair grasped at Jim’s shirt as he was lowered down, whimpering in protest, and gently, Jim peeled Blair’s fingers off of him, holding his eyes all the time with his own. “Shh,” he whispered. “It’s okay, Chief. It’s okay. Nothing’s going to happen. Trust me.”

Something in his words or in his face seemed to reassure Blair, and Sandburg let go, although reluctantly. Jim smiled at him, and pulled the blanket up to tenderly cover him. Then he straightened up and turned towards Sommers.

And he moved so fast, the guy never even saw him coming.

~oO0Oo~

Banks and Brown were just walking towards Sandburg’s half-open door when a loud thud, as though something heavy had hit the wall, came from inside. Exchanging a swift glance, they rushed as a man into the room. The sight that met their eyes was no less shocking for all that they had expected it. “Ellison!” Banks bellowed, and they both moved forward to grab an arm each.

Arms that were currently trying to throttle the life out of Officer Kelvin Sommers.

Ellison seemed oblivious to their efforts to pull him away, his powerful biceps bulging as his hands held Sommers by the throat against the wall, the other guy’s feet dangling in mid air. The uniformed cop’s lips were beginning to turn blue, and Ellison was practically growling in his face. “Don’t you ever,” he was saying, “go near, look at, talk to or even think about my partner ever again! Because you know what, Sommers? He is ten times the man that you are, you asshole!”

“Ellison! Let him go! Let him go now, Detective!” Banks bellowed, and finally the wild look faded from Ellison’s eyes, to be replaced by a look of disgust. As though casting something foul out of his hands, Jim opened his fingers, grimacing, and Sommers dropped to the floor, gasping and coughing now his oxygen supply had been restored. Both Banks and Brown ignored the downed officer, instead steering Jim forcefully away from him and across the room, until he was backed up against the opposite wall.

Banks looked him in the eye. “Not another word, Detective,” he said in a tone that brooked absolutely no argument. Seemingly, the explicit command in his tone spoke to Ellison’s inner soldier, as he nodded in assent and, as the fight went out of his posture, Banks turned back to Sommers, leaving Ellison in the capable hands of Brown.

As Banks towered over him, Sommers suddenly found his voice. “Arrest him! C’mon, Captain! That sick son of a bitch tried to kill me! You saw him!”

Keeping his voice level, Banks replied, “I’m not sure I saw any such thing. Did you see any such thing, Detective Brown?”

Henri was shaking his head, still holding onto Ellison by one arm. “I didn’t see nothin’ Captain. We just got in here, after all.”

Sommers took in the three of them, a look of disgust on his face. “I don’t believe this! You guys are as tight as a fuckin’ drum. What,” he nodded towards the bed, where Sandburg still shuddered out his misery, “He putting out for you two as well?”

For the second time that day, Sommers was manhandled by a fellow officer. Banks grabbed him by the lapels, and hoisted him aloft, slamming him back against the wall. “Let me put this to you in words you will understand, Officer Sommers,” he growled, enunciating the words slowly and clearly. “One, Blair Sandburg is a respected member of my department, and as such any untrue or offensive statements you make about him will be regarded as libelous. Two, he is not now, nor has he ever been a junkie, a pusher, or connected in any way shape or form with illegal drugs. Three, he was recently poisoned in an attack on members of my department, by a drug gang who he ultimately had a hand in taking down. His partner was also injured in the line of duty by the same gang, and is probably feeling a little protective right now. Therefore anything I might or might not have seen him do to prevent his partner from being hurt further, short of outright murder, has my sincere and firm approval. Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?”

Banks in this mood could cow even Ellison, and so Sommers was far from immune to the menace in the Captain’s demeanor, or from the fact that he was currently outnumbered three to one by what he was coming to recognize as the Major Crimes mafia. “Understood, Captain,” he said tightly. But then, believing he still held the ace, he qualified, “But before you pass judgment on my actions, take a look at what I have in my pocket. The evidence is there. The drugs that were found on your…” he paused, groping for the right words, arrogance apparently at war with prudence. But self-preservation is a powerful force, and prudence won. “Your observer.”

Slowly, Banks removed his hands, and stepped away. “Show me,” he said. Then, when a sound of protest came from behind him, he turned and glared Ellison back into submission, before turning back to Sommers and taking the evidence bag from his hand. Simon held it up to the light. “It looks like golden,” he stated.

Feeling vindication was just around the corner, Sommers leapt back into the fray. “It is, Captain and it was in his coat pocket.” He indicated Sandburg with a dismissive wave of his hand. “The nurse found it in there. Nurse Mancini – you can ask her, she’s the one who called it in. And look at it, sir, at the quantity. There’s no way that’s just for his use. Only serious pushers would carry that much around.”

Banks was nodding, his expression serious. “And you would know, being in the Narcotics division.”

Sommers nodded enthusiastically. “Yes sir. I would.”

Banks continued in the same even tone, “But you obviously don’t know everything.”

Sommers raised his brows in puzzlement. “Sir?”

“For example,” Banks went on, “You obviously don’t know that the golden case was bumped up to Major Crime a few days ago. Or that Ellison and Sandburg are the team who got the case. Or,” he finished, “That the case is now closed, the manufacturers busted, the pipeline shut down. Do you know that, Sommers?”

It seemed that Sommers had finally learned to keep his mouth shut. Into his resounding silence, Banks turned round to his detective team, who were watching him with open admiration. “Oh, Detective?” called Simon. “Do you, by any chance, recognize this?” He held up the evidence bag and waggled it.

Ellison’s voice held a thinly veiled amusement. “Yes, sir, I do. It’s the sample the dealers gave me when Sandburg and I were under cover.”

“Hm. That’s what I thought. Any idea why it might be in Sandburg’s coat pocket?”

“Well,” drawled Ellison, “I don’t believe it actually was. You see, sir, the coat hung up over there, that’s actually my coat. I left it here earlier. As for the sample being in my pocket, I put the packet in there myself, just after I was given it. I forgot it was in there. The truth is, I was a little preoccupied at the time. Some of that shit got in my eyes by accident, and Blair took me to the hospital to be checked out right after that.”

Sommers had turned an alarming shade of red. He knew he had lost, but still grasped at one final straw nevertheless. “But, but…” he spluttered, “Sandburg’s student I.D. was in there, too! How can you explain that, huh?”

Ellison shrugged, looking pointedly at Sommers. “Sandburg sometimes borrows my coat. We’re,” he grinned wickedly, “very good friends!”

~oO0Oo~

Banks and Brown hustled Sommers out, and Jim turned his attention back to his partner, who had watched the whole thing from his bed with wide, sad eyes. “Hey, Chief,” Jim said softly. “How’re you doing?”

Blair focused tiredly on him. “Jim?” he whispered. “What did I do?”

“Oh, buddy.” For a second, Jim’s rage at Sommers flared up once again. Sandburg hadn’t needed any of this shit. “You didn’t do anything, Blair. Not a thing. It was all a misunderstanding.”

“I’m…” Blair swallowed. “I’m a little confused.”

“I know. It’s okay.”

Sandburg frowned. “Somebody, a nurse, I think, said that I’d…” he faltered, and Jim sat down on the bed, taking one of his hands in both of his. It seemed to give Blair what he needed, as haltingly he was able to carry on. “I remember a gun. I think… I know I fired it. She said I’d hurt people. That… that I’d…” he licked his lips and closed his eyes. “That I’d killed them,” he finished in a whisper.

“Chief, that’s a load of bull!” Blair didn’t respond, so Jim said forcefully, “Sandburg, look at me. C’mon, open your eyes. Look at me.” Blair did what Jim ordered, fixing his miserable gaze on his friend. When Jim was sure he had Blair’s attention, he said, “Trust me, Chief. I won’t lie to you, okay? Yes you fired a gun, but no one, no one, Blair, was hurt, except for you. The guys making the golden found out who I was, and they sent pizza laced with golden to the bullpen. The only one who ate it was you, but it could have been any one of us, hell, it could have been all of us.”

Blair was watching Jim raptly, a desperate hope beginning to replace the anguish in his eyes, and encouraged, Jim carried on. “You were high on the stuff, hallucinating. You thought that you were under attack, and you fired off a few rounds in the station garage. But no one was hit, and we managed to get the gun off of you. Then you passed out. You’ve been really sick, Chief, but you’re on the mend now, and you’re gonna be fine. This has all been just a huge mistake, buddy. But it’s over now. You’ve got to believe me.”

Blair was quiet for a moment, processing. Then he said wonderingly, “It was you.”

Jim frowned. “I don’t follow you, Chief.”

“I remember you. Your voice. The golden fire people were everywhere, but you told me to trust you.”

Jim was nodding. “That’s right, Chief! That’s what happened,” he said earnestly. “And then you gave me the gun. Do you believe me?”

Blair smiled tremulously, for the first time in what seemed like an eternity. “Yeah,” he said tiredly. “I believe you. I trust you, Jim.”

~oO0Oo~

Very early the next morning, and just before going off duty after a long and arduous shift, Sylvia Mancini slipped into Blair Sandburg’s room to check on him one last time. The room was dimly lit by a night-light, and a tall figure was sitting beside her patient, the hand at the end of one muscular arm resting on the sleeping young man’s wrist. Tiptoeing quietly around to the far side of the bed, Sylvia checked the drip, which had been feeding her patient fluids, and did a quick routine check of his vitals.

All seemed to be as it should be. At last the worst seemed to be over, and Sandburg’s sleep appeared to be restful. Later today he would most likely be moved out of ICU and into a ward for a time, before being discharged to go home. She wrote the information down on the chart, and was about to exit the room, when a quiet voice stopped her. “Why?” was all it said.

She turned to the tall man in the chair, knowing exactly what he was asking. “I’m not proud of what I did,” she said, speaking quietly so she wouldn’t disturb the sleeping patient. “I made assumptions I never should have made, and I acted unprofessionally. It won’t happen again - I’m going to resign from my nursing position, but they’d probably kick me out anyway, if I stayed. I broke any number of rules today. But worst of all, I hurt this young man badly, and I’ll never forgive myself for that.”

“Why?” he asked again. Even in the dim light, his gaze was uncompromising.

Sylvia didn’t feel she had the right to make excuses for her behavior. But something in this man’s face prompted her to tell the truth. “Because,” she answered sadly, “My son, Mark, died two months ago from an overdose of golden. He was a grad student too, and the same age as Blair. I thought if I helped put away a drug dealer, that someone else might be spared what I… what he went through.”

She stood for a moment, but no response came; although she hadn’t really expected one. She walked towards the door, but as she reached it, the quiet voice of the detective halted her. “We got them,” he said. “The golden is finished, and all the manufacturers and dealers are in custody. It won’t happen to anybody else.”

Tears came into her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered silently.

The man couldn’t possibly have heard her. But as she walked out into the corridor for the last time, she imagined she heard a quiet voice say in her wake, “You’re welcome.”

~oO0Oo~

EPILOGUE

“Are you sure you want to do this, Chief?”

“Chill, man. This is really important. And hey, I do public speaking every day. It’s you with the stage fright, tough guy!”

“It is not! I’ll have you know…”

“Shh! It’s starting.”

“Hello everyone, my name is Sylvia Mancini. Thank you so much for coming to Rainier University’s Annual Conference on Substance Abuse. This morning, the first ever Mark Mancini Memorial Lecture will be given jointly by Blair Sandburg, a graduate student and Teaching Fellow here at Rainier University, and James Ellison, a Detective with the Major Crimes Unit of Cascade PD….”



The End





Comments are welcome, but 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: 2007-08-01 08:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] klgrem.livejournal.com
Cool. This was a great story too. I envy you. Great job! :)

Date: 2007-08-01 08:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Thank you! I'm really glad you liked it :-)

One of my fav fics!

Date: 2007-08-07 07:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tai-fanficfan.livejournal.com
Thanks for putting this up here. This is one of my fav fics that you've written.

Re: One of my fav fics!

Date: 2007-10-16 10:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Aw, thanks! I'm really glad you like it :-).

BTW, sorry for the delay in responding to your comment - I don't often log in under this I.D., and I somehow missed it.

Date: 2007-11-19 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] numom1.livejournal.com
Awwww... I love a BMB's epilogue that still deals with Blair being in the hospital and not having recovered yet. I'm definitely loving your writing and enjoying so many of your fics. I loved how Simon hovered over Sommers and you wrote "Banks in this mood could cow even Ellison" - I could just see Simon in my mind's eye and it made me smile. And when you referred to Major Crimes as "Major Crimes Mafia" - it was great! And the ending was perfect with Sylvia doing something positive in her son's name. Again, thanks so much for sharing this great fic with all of us!

Laura

Date: 2007-11-20 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Aw, you say such nice things. Glad you are finding stories here that you like. Your feedback is much appreciated! :-)

Date: 2009-10-26 06:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] phoenix-run.livejournal.com
Aw! The ending had tears in my eyes. I really enjoyed this though I normally just read slash, I could easily see the relationship between Jim and Blair here. I actually also just watched it again on my Tivo and you I think you caught the missing scene between Blair being drugged and his being released. Fantastic!

Date: 2009-10-26 06:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fluterbev-fic.livejournal.com
Hey, thanks! I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting :-)

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