Disclaimers: Don't own the boys, not making any money off this endeavor, etc.
Special Thanks to my betas, Zoe and Ari, whose hard work enables my work to read grammatically enlightened.
Warnings: h/c, angst
Spoilers: "Prisoner X", most definitely.
Special Notes: This is a missing scene/epilogue for "Prisoner X". I had so many problems with the way this episode was written. Jim would have been dead by the end of the second day. He asked too many questions, when with his "talents" they were unnecessary. Prison life is generally not conducive to twenty questions. I also believe that Jim would have overloaded or zoned out at least once in the prison. His senses are tied to his emotions (as shown in "Killers" and a few other episodes.) His emotions would have been off the scale considering the circumstances he found himself in. Now all of that being said, it was still one of my favorites. I just needed some closure.
Thanks to Sarah McLachlan for her incredible song talents that inspire and humble many. Song Lyrics from I Will Remember You.
I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard
Jim scrubbed his face mercilessly as the steaming water sluiced over his battered body. Red streaks appeared on his bruised skin as the water cut channels through the tension in his abused muscles. He sighed deeply, shaking with the effort of holding it all in, but the hatred, the remembered noise of the prison refused to give him any peace.
Abdominal muscle spasms assaulted him repeatedly as he tried to wash it all down the drain, cradling his body with weary arms that barely served to contain him or his misery. He'd seen guys blown apart, holding their intestines in place with their own hands. This felt very much the way he imagined being ripped apart would feel. He swallowed the bile that soured his mouth, cringing in response to the stimuli. Spitting out blood and bile, he heaved, leaning onto the slick tiles in an effort to remain standing.
Losing the battle, he slid down the wall to his knees, falling back until he huddled shakily on the floor of the bathtub, his arms wrapped around knees drawn up into his bruised chest.
"Oh, God," Jim whispered softly, as he started retching once again, further cramping the muscles in his abdomen. Blood, vomit and water mixing to wash down the drain.
"Jim?" Blair's concerned voice rang out through the small ragged motel bathroom.
"Get out!" Jim growled, curling further into himself behind the opaque cream-colored curtain.
Blair's eyes grew wide at the anger in his partner's voice. What the hell happened to him in there? he thought sadly as he turned to leave the room. Raising his hands in the classic defensive position, Blair reminded, "Call me if you need me, man," and he slowly backed out the door, his face fixed in a worried grimace.
Jim lowered his head back to his knees and attempted to quiet his anxiety. He was starting to feel walled in, but he lacked the strength to pull himself from the tub. The water washing over his body had become ice cold and he shivered violently withdrawing further into himself.
Blair paced the small motel room relentlessly. Eight long steps from the front door to the bathroom door, where he paused momentarily and listened to his partner's suffering.
He had checked on him fifteen minutes ago, when Jim had demanded that he remove himself from the room.
Blair sighed, his agitation getting the best of him. He started when a soft knock at the front door drew him from his dark thoughts of worry.
"Come on in, Simon. What's up?" Blair asked distractedly as he stole a glance at the bathroom door yet again. He couldn't even count the number of times he had looked to that damn door praying that it would open and his partner would walk through it. He was still waiting.
"Blair, Jim's strong and has survived a lot of misery. He seemed to be okay when I talked to him at the prison. Just give him a couple days to work it all out in his head and I bet he'll be fine," Simon reassured the young anthropologist.
Blair's anger flared as he raised an accusing finger at the startled Captain. "You don't know that, Simon!" he yelled, his voice shaking with distress. "You have no idea what that place could do to someone like Jim! He's been in the shower for over an hour," Blair informed Simon, with a heavy heart. "He won't talk to me. Yelled at me to get out when I went in to see if he needed anything," Blair finished, his eyes flashing.
Blair straightened suddenly. The hairs on his neck had just bristled as he fought the shiver that ran down his spine. Inhaling deeply, he raced for the bathroom and crashed through the door.
Blair tentatively pulled the curtain back to reveal his devastated partner.
"Oh my... Simon, call an ambulance! Now!" Blair ordered as he reached for his traumatized partner. "God, Jim! Why didn't you say anything?" he whispered under his breath as he fought to gently extricate his partner from the tub, wrapping him in all the towels he could get his hands on. "Simon, give me a hand!"
Blair hefted his partner up through sheer strength of will and led him to one of the double beds as Simon called for the ambulance.
"Help's coming, Jim. Just hold on," Blair begged as he settled the big man on the bed, and placed his hand softly on Jim's forehead to check for fever and calm his trembling body.
Jim curled onto his side, rocking gently as Blair began to rub small circles on his back in an effort to keep him grounded repeating quiet words of comfort.
"Well is he zoned or not, Sandburg?" Simon ground out, his face twisted in a concerned scowl.
Blair shook his head. "I don't know for sure. I think it's some kind of zone out coupled with shock, but I want to get him checked out. The water in the tub was streaked with blood and vomit as it went down the drain and I just wanna be sure he's okay," Blair explained as he continued his efforts to soothe his partner.
"Jim? Can you hear me?" Blair tried to elicit a response. "Come on, big guy, let me know you're okay," Blair begged, his hands cupping Jim's face mindful of his injuries. "I'm not gonna leave you alone until you answer me, Jim," he promised, biting his lip as he waited for his Sentinel's response.
Jim groaned loudly, unable to focus on anything around him. Blair exhaled, relieved for some response from his partner. Just in time too, as the paramedics pounded the pavement as they made their way to the door of their motel room. Simon let them in.
"He's over here," Simon directed as he lead the paramedics to his fallen detective. "He's a police officer who was injured undercover. He shrugged off treatment on site and walked off before he was even evaluated," Simon provided, as he inhaled deeply.
The paramedics bent over the huddled, trembling form on the bed. Tasha Gilbert, according to her name tag, began to take vitals as her partner Evans began to ask the important questions.
Evans looked over his patient clinically, taking in his condition as he asked Sandburg, "What happened?"
"I went to check on him in the shower and found him lying on the tub floor. There was blood and vomit in the water. I yelled for Simon to call you guys. He was in a bad fight while undercover at the prison. Is he gonna be okay?" Blair asked worriedly.
"Probably, but we want to take him in and get him checked out, just to be on the safe side," Evans replied. Turning to his partner, "Let's go!"
Jim groaned piteously as he tried to pry his eyes open, dragging his hand across his face.
"Jim?" Blair asked cautiously, watching his partner's eyelids flutter. "It's okay, Jim. Just take it slow and make sure the dials are all set around a three, okay?" Blair rested his hand soothingly against Jim's fever-flushed cheek.
Jim moaned again as his eyes opened slowly to mere slits. Blair smiled down at him, his eyes gleaming.
"Hey," Blair greeted, placing his other hand lightly on Jim's chest. "How are you feeling?"
"Hit... by... truck... hurts..." Jim managed through his grinding jaws.
"I know, Jim. Just try to take it easy," Blair assured him with soft pats on his chest. "I'm gonna get the doctor." Blair turned to leave, but stopped when a weak hand brushed against his forearm.
"No," Jim croaked, willing his Guide to understand his needs.
"You don't want me to go?" Blair questioned, then smiled when he saw Jim answer with a slight smile and barely perceptible nod. "Okay, I'll call the nurse's station from here. The doctor needs to check you out, man," he finished gently as he reached for the button to call the nurse.
"Wa...t..." Jim hissed quietly, his eyes pleading, begging to be understood.
Blair paused for a moment, then smiled knowingly. "You need water, big guy?"
Jim nodded slightly again and was rewarded when soothing ice chips slid over his tongue. The ghost of a smile played at his lips as the ice soothed his raw throat.
"What... happened?" Jim asked quietly.
"You collapsed in the shower, man. Let's suffice it to say, you're a mess, Jim. You have a pretty decent concussion from the pounding that your hard head took in the fights. You have three separated ribs and two cracked ribs and severe bruising to the stomach which is what the doctor suspects caused you to vomit up the blood. You scared the shit out of me, Jim," Blair accused despairingly as he took in the lost look in his Sentinel's eyes.
Jim turned away from Blair and attempted to withdraw into himself further, wrapping his arms around his battered torso.
"I can't be here right now, Blair. Please, get me out," Jim pled quietly.
"Jim, you're not in the best shape..." his voice trailed off as he saw the claustrophobic look of despair on his Sentinel's face. Blair nodded, his chestnut curls bobbing. "I'll see what I can do."
Blair glanced over at Jim's restlessly sleeping form in the passenger seat. God, what did they do to you in there? he thought mournfully, as he reached his hand out to smooth Jim's furrowed brow.
Pulling up in front of the loft, he killed the engine and gently roused Jim from his sleep.
"Come on, big guy. Time to go upstairs and you know I can't carry you," Blair teased as he opened Jim's car door. Helping the older man to his feet, he balanced the bulk of Jim's weight on his hip as he kicked the car door shut. "Come on, Jim. I've got you. I won't let you fall. Let's get upstairs," Blair whispered calmly, soothing Jim's raw nerves.
As they came in the door, Blair started to lead Jim to the couch when the older man gestured for the balcony.
Blair started for a second. "You want to sleep outside?"
Jim nodded and Blair helped him to settle out on the reclining lawn chair. "I'll bring you some water so you can wash down these pain pills, okay?"
"Sure," Jim replied distractedly as he inhaled the crisp night air with a small, but grateful smile which Blair returned.
Blair returned with the water to find Jim staring longingly at the stars. Handing him the pain pill and the water glass, he joined him in the other lawn chair, as he too glanced up to catch a glimpse of what was capturing Jim's attention.
"What're you lookin' at, Jim?" Blair asked quietly, as he studied the stars in greater detail recalling the names of each constellation as he spotted it. His hair fell into his face as he turned to hear Jim's reply.
"Jim?" Blair asked worriedly.
"I'm here," he replied hazily. "I shouldn't be," he whispered angrily. "It's too quiet."
"I know," Blair responded automatically.
"NO, You don't know Sandburg. You can't because..." Jim spat, shaking with anger, trying to rein in his words before saying too much.
"Because?" Blair coaxed.
"I don't want to talk about it, Blair. Please, just let me be," Jim warned his voice sounding stern, yet defeated, even hollow somehow.
"It might help..."
Jim interrupted before Blair could really get started. "I said no, damnit!" Jim turned away from him, drawing the blanket tighter around him.
Blair inhaled deeply trying to center himself for the upcoming fight. He knew that his Sentinel was stubborn, but this was too important to just let it go.
"We'll talk later," Blair promised as he went inside to make himself some tea.
I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard
"Can't sleep?" Blair asked quietly as he watched Jim turn over painfully for what must be the 10th time.
Blair smiled warmly. "Jim, I know that you're upset with me for going in there, but I couldn't just leave you in there. I wanted you to be able to sense that I was near. I even slept in my car, so you'd have me to focus on," he finished, blushing embarrassedly at the tiny admission.
Jim grasped his head frustratingly, scrubbing his fingers through his matted hair. "You could have been hurt or worse. You were lucky, if not stupid," Jim rasped harshly, causing Blair's breath to catch in his chest.
Blair exhaled painfully as the fist around his heart tightened more mercilessly. "I know it was hard for you in there. Hell, even impossible, but you survived..."
Blair stopped stunned as Jim's short derisive laugh caused him to cringe. "You don't know what the fuck you're talking about, Sandburg."
Blair's eyes hardened at the implications of that statement. "I know that Jim Ellison is still in that prison and that Jim Curtis is the man I brought home. Jim Curtis isn't welcome here! This home belongs to Jim Ellison and I want him back!"
"You don't know what you're talking about, Sandburg!" Jim yelled, his voice shaking with anger and fear.
"Don't play that game with me, Ellison. I know you better than you know yourself sometimes. You can lie to yourself, but don't you dare think for one fucking minute that you can lie to me. I know that you've been to hell, but it's time to come back now. Talk to me!" Blair ordered authoritatively.
Jim turned away.
"You don't have a choice, man. You either talk about this or prepare to let Jim Ellison self-destruct and leave his life to that rat-bastard Curtis. I need Jim Ellison, the good man who calls me 'Chief'. Jim Curtis can go fuck himself," Blair spat fearfully, trembling from the emotions that were pouring out of him, his eyes glazed with tears. He ran his shaking hands through his hair, drawing it back from his flushed face.
Blair looked frustratingly at his friend, folding his hands over his mouth unsure of what he could say to bring Jim around.
"I am terrified here, Jim. I don't know what I can say, what I can do to bring you home and help you through all this," Blair poured out, his shaking hands reaching out in comfort, but dropping at the last minute, unsure if his touch would be welcome. "I need you, Jim. I need you here, with me to help me, understand the horrors of what I know you're feeling," Blair begged, his tear-filled eyes pleading with his best friend.
Jim gasped as Blair's plaintive words and frightened tone punched through the carefully constructed wall he had built and he hung his head, desperately trying to catch his breath. Blair nodded, leaning forward, placing his hand slightly on Jim's shoulder.
"There was so much hate, Chief," Jim began beneath his breath. "It washed over me like a tidal wave and filled up all my senses," he explained, his voice breaking.
"What did you see, Jim?" Blair questioned softly, beginning the rundown through his Sentinel's senses hoping to bring them into balance again, one by one.
"Brutality and cruelty. Men beating on other men, killing them, spitting on their broken bodies. Liotta was stabbed to death in the showers. I watched as his blood ran over the white tiles. I almost zoned, but Miller unknowingly pulled me out of it."
"Who was Miller?"
"He was a forger doing his time. I put his brother away. He's the one who made me. That's why I sent the note to be pulled out. I just didn't think it would take so long," Jim replied wearily.
"The last note we got said all was well and that the food sucked. I didn't ever get a note that told me you'd been made. I'm so sorry, man," Blair apologized, placing his hand gently on Jim's shoulder and giving it a comforting squeeze.
"Miller must have switched the notes," Jim replied knowingly.
"He should be punished for that! He damn near got you killed!" Blair spat out angrily.
"He's dead, Chief. The guards shot him in the back when we were trying to escape. They told him to go, and then just shot him. I wanted to feel something, but I couldn't," Jim whispered regretfully, unable to meet his Guide's eyes.
Blair reached up and turned Jim's face toward his. "There was nothing you could have done, Jim. You have to know that. If something could have been done, then you would have done it," he reassured his partner compassionately.
Blair inhaled the clean night air deeply. "Jim, look up into the sky and tell me what you see?" Blair asked employing the soft tones of the Guide.
"Planes circling the airport waiting to land," Jim started.
"That's great, man, but I want you to look past the city," Blair requested, drawing his Sentinel in further.
"I see the moon, the stars, the patterns of the constellations. It's been a long time since I've seen a night as clear as this," Jim muttered with a smile.
"Do you see Centaurus?" Blair asked pensively. At Jim's nod, he continued. "Find the arms of Centaurus and drop down to the southwest about 5 degrees," he paused, watching his friend as he complied with the directions.
"What am I looking at Chief?" Jim asked quietly.
"That's the constellation Lupus," Blair began, clarifying as he noticed Jim was unsure of it's significance. "The wolf. It represents the Ancient Arcadian King Lycaon as a sign not to displease the gods. Lycaon attempted to offer Zeus a child sacrifice, which angered the god enormously. Zeus struck down his 50 sons with a bolt of lightning and changed him into a wolf, forever immortalized in the nighttime sky," Blair concluded his small lecture.
"I want you to remember that the Wolf is always up there watching over you, Jim. You're safe, here. I will be here to watch over you always," Blair reassured his partner with a calming hand on his forearm and smiled softly when he felt his Sentinel relax minutely. It's a start, he thought tiredly.
"What did you hear, Jim?" Blair led, trying to help his partner purge the experience from his very soul.
"Violence, fighting, rapes, screaming, snoring, cursing, cold laughter, like the person laughing was dead inside. I never realized how much noise is in those places. I thought about turning my hearing all the way down, but then I wouldn't have been able to keep track of it all and I needed to keep track of it all. You know what I mean?" Jim asked, raising his steel blue eyes to meet his partner's gaze.
"Yeah, I think so," Blair reassured him. Placing his hand on Jim's shoulder, Blair made his request. "Jim, I want you to open your hearing up, but don't go above eight. Tell me what's going on in the building."
Jim closed his eyes and concentrated on opening his hearing up as his Guide had requested. A small smile played at his lips, "I hear Mrs. Patterson in 205. She's trying to get her husband to stop snoring."
Blair laughed at the image that presented. "Is it working?"
"Not yet," he replied, his eyes starting to soften. "I hear Benny down in the basement, beating on the water heater again. Gillie and Katie are in their room giggling. I hear the rustling of their sheets and..." he paused, focusing in further, then smiled. "They're reading their diaries to each other," Jim blushed and turned away. "Now there's something I didn't need to know."
Blair smiled as he felt his partner beginning to relax. "What else, Jim?"
"The McHenry baby is teething again. I can hear Paul grumbling trying to find the Orajel. Trisha is trying to soothe the baby singing 'You Are My Sunshine' over and over." A smile graced his face as he listened to the singing, coupled with his Guide's heartbeat. "I hear your heartbeat," Jim finished, tears forming in his stormy blue eyes.
"Good, Jim. Go on. Tell me what you smelled at the prison."
"Blood. Lots of sweat, stench, vomit, piss, sewage. The smells permeated the very walls. I did have to turn my smell down to zero the last couple days because I kept gagging on the stench."
"Okay, Jim. Focus your sense of smell on the bakery down the street. What do you smell, now?"
"Sweet rolls, doughnuts, homemade bread, fresh brewed coffee. I can almost taste the doughnuts, Chief."
"Well, I guess I know what to get you for breakfast. What about taste, Jim? What tastes do you remember from the prison?"
"Salt. The air was always salty from the sweat of the men," Jim explained with a grimace at the memory that played through his mind.
"It's okay, big guy," Blair reassured. "Close your eyes and taste the air, Jim. What do you taste, now?"
"You," Jim replied openly, then chuckled as he caught the expression on his Guide's face.
"Me?" Blair asked with an air of confusion. "Well, I didn't think I'd ever be asking you this, but what do I taste like?"
"The ginger from your herbal shampoo and the cleanness of the soap. Your tea. It's kind of a combination. I can't really explain it," Jim admitted, turning away, his cheeks flushing slightly.
Blair reached out to Jim, turning him back to face him. "Hey, no. Don't be embarrassed. I think it's totally cool!" Blair gushed enthusiastically, his warm eyes dancing over his partner's face.
"What about touch, Jim?"
"The air was thick, I could feel the pressure in it from all those guys crammed so close together. Everything was starched. The sheets, the uniforms, the blankets. Everything. I felt thousands of points of pain with everything that touched me, so I turned touch down to zero as well," he admitted a little guiltily.
"That's probably why you didn't realize how badly you were hurt in the fight. I understand why you felt you had to do that, but from now on don't turn the dials down that low. It scares the shit out of me that you'll be hurt and won't know it, because you'll have blocked out the pain that would have been a warning."
"I know, Chief, but I just couldn't take it. I felt like I was crawling out of my skin," Jim supplied, his anger dissipating with each admission.
"Tell me how the blanket feels against your skin, Jim."
Jim smiled slightly, prompting Blair to return it when he realized that the smile was finally beginning to reach his Sentinel's eyes. "Soft. It was washed in that special soap you use to keep my senses from going haywire. It's fleece. It feels warm and comforting, soothing. The threads are silky..." Jim's voice drifted off.
"That's good, Jim, but stay with me here. Absolutely no zoning is allowed," Blair warned gently with a smile.
"Okay, last one, Jim. How did you feel?" Blair asked, gazing tentatively at Jim, his eyes expressing the desire to understand the experience fully.
"Hopeless, angry, apathetic, distrustful, betrayed, furious, vengeful. Half the time, I was trying unsuccessfully not to feel anything. I had a lot of trouble shutting off with all that hate permeating the air," Jim explained, sighing softly, amazed at his Guide's ability to relax him more than he would have thought possible.
"Feel better?" Blair inquired, already knowing the answer by his observations of his friend.
Jim shook his head disbelievingly. "Actually, yeah. I do," he said with a smile.
"What are you feeling, Jim?" Blair inquired soothingly.
"I feel warm, even safe for the first time in awhile," Jim sighed, as his eyes started to close with the weight of exhaustion.
"Good, now do you think you can get a little sleep?" Blair asked, putting another blanket over the healing Sentinel.
"Will, you stay? I really don't want to be alone right now," Jim asked, his eyes cast out toward his city.
"As long as you need me to," Blair promised as he made himself comfortable and stretched out his muscles settling into the chair, drawing another blanket firmly around his shoulders. "Remember, the wolf will always watch over you, Jim," Blair reminded softly as he settled further into the nest of blankets.
Blair glanced over at his Sentinel, sick at all Jim had had to endure, in awe of the courage and strength it had taken for the man to have survived these past five days. Blair shuddered as he thought about how close he had come to losing his best friend. Jim's hand settled on his arm, quelling the chill that had ran through the Guide.
Blair smiled. Yeah, it had been a close call, but he knew that his Sentinel was on his way to emotional healing. As he heard his Sentinel's first soft snores, he smiled softly and settled in for the night. With a deep contented sigh, he drifted off to sleep.