To be honest I'd more or less given up on the story, but all the wonderful e-mails gave me the strength to dig it out and dust it off again. Thanks so much for the support!!

Much appreciation also goes out to my beta, who's hard work makes this story what it is today. Thanks soo much!!

This was originally posted in May of '99.

Title: Leave of my Senses

Author: Technicolourdream (MoonDew)

Warnings: violence (torture); rated R.

Release Date: September 6, 2000.

Summary: Jim and Blair get kidnapped by a man with a vengence, giving Jim some real issues when Blair ends up the subject of the villain's revenge.

You know the drill- I own nothing, Paramount is God. This is my story, and credit should be given if distributed.

Enjoy.

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Jim and Blair sat in the park trying to unwind, quietly putting an exasperatingly long week behind them.

The sun had set almost an hour ago, leaving them in a mildly surreal light. Off to the left a fountain trickled, threatening to lull Blair into sleep right there on the bench.

He closed his eyes and listened to the water for a moment; it was almost hypnotizing. Blair sighed and leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. "I guess we should probably get going before we wake up to security kicking us out, hun?"

When Jim didn't answer, Blair finally looked up. Jim was staring off into space, seemingly oblivious to the world around him. Blair sighed again. It had been a really long week.

------------

"Shhhh..." a man whispered to his companion as he crouched further into his hiding spot across the park. He watched as his targets conversed on the park bench, one crouched down in front of the other, and felt his temper rise. A cruel smile spread across his face. "That's them. Fire at will, Mr. Johnson."

------------

"Jim?"

The Sentinel, coming out of his zone, took a deep breath and blinked a few times. He looked down at Blair's tired, lopsided grin.

"Ready to go home yet?"

Jim shook his head to clear the fog. "Yeah, ok--" then stopped short as Blair's eyes widened suddenly. "Chief?"

Blair swayed, and Jim caught his arm.

"Jim?" It was barely a whisper, and just as Jim's other hand reached out, Blair collapsed into his arms.

Jim's heart raced as he lowed his partner to the ground, only noticing the dart in his friend's shoulder the same instant he felt a prick in the back of his own neck. Turning quickly, he saw a man in a leather outfit and a larger man in a suit stroll casually towards them.

He tried to focus, to make out their faces, but gray was already eating at the edges of his vision. A wave of vertigo sent him off his feet, though he never felt the ground. The last thing he heard was a light, tenor voice saying, "Dose the kid again, we'll use him."

------------

Jim could hear the shuffling around him even before he could start to see though the dark, blotchy clouds in his vision. The air was bitter and damp, and his back was killing him. He tried to move but couldn't; he was securely tied into a chair.

"So, Mister Ellison decided to wake up after all."

Jim looked towards the voice, starting to make out one of the men from the park.

"I was getting anxious… thought I might have to start the show without you."

The voice was high pitched and fluent in nature; the man was in his mid 20's with blond hair that fell into his face. He was dressed head to toe in close-fitting leather that creaked in response to his every move, and his eyes held a certain glint that one certainly wouldn't trust.

Jim's attention quickly darted around the room. What he saw reminded him of those mad-scientist laboratories you see in the movies. One wall housed shelves of bottles full of different coloured liquids, capsules, and god-knew what else. A couple of large tables stood in front of it, sporting a frightening variety of scientific equipment; Jim froze though as his eyes fell on Blair.

His partner lay strewn on the floor, as if someone had just dropped him there. Stripped of his shirt and shoes, only his jeans protected him from the cold, cement floor.

"He's fine."

Jim's eyes shot back to the man with an expression that mixed 'Are you crazy?' with 'You're dead the next time you come within ten feet.'

The villain ignored him. "He'll come out of it soon, we just wanted to make sure he slept long enough for us to have a little chat."

Movement in the background caught Jim's attention, and his chest tightened as he saw the other man from the park approaching Blair.

"My name's Drey, that's Mister Johnson behind me. I'd treat him nicely if I were you. I haven't given any specific instructions not to kill you if the urge should come."

"What's he doing?" Jim's head still felt very fuzzy, but his words were sharp, and Drey almost seemed hurt.

"Don't worry about them, listen to me. I'm going to tell you why you're here. You see, about a year ago, my partner was involved in a little incident with you're police department. One of you're bright little Major Crime boys killed her." He had a regretful look on his face. "I can't help but take offense to that."

Each word burnt itself into Jim's brain, but he couldn't pull his eyes away from Blair. Johnson had bound his wrists above his head with a wide black strapping, the same stuff, Jim suspected, that his own arms and legs were strapped down with.

Drey knelt down infront of him, temporarily blocking his view. "Now, I'm a fair man. Eye for an eye, right? It's not like I'm going to go blow up the station or something. I figure, one of you took my partner, so I'm going to take one of yours."

By now Johnson had slipped a chain from the ceiling through Blair's arms, securing it between his wrists.

"The thing is," Drey continued, "I have this thing against death. It disgusts me. Do you have any idea what a corpse looks like, even after one day? You must, being in your line of work. I really don't like to deal with that sort of thing." He stood and walked over to lean against one of the tables, casually lost in thought.

Johnson pulled on the other end of the chain until Blair was suspended with his knees off the ground, but his feet still touching.

"That was actually more my partner's inclination," Drey continued. "I guess you're kinda lucky that way. If you cops had killed me instead, we wouldn't be here now, you'd probably just be dead and it would all be over with." Drey stood, pulling a scalpel off a near by instrument tray. It gleamed in the light.

"No! Wait!" Jim still had to concentrate to keep the drug-induced haze at bay, though all of his protective instincts sprung to the surface as Drey started towards Blair.

"He's not even a real cop," Jim continued trying to sound condescending, in control. "He's an anthropology student for Christ's sake. What good will his death do for your partner?" Jim's heart raced as his mind jumped to all the things that Drey might be planing, none of them temperate, or sane.

"I know who he is, and I know who you are." As if to prove himself, he threw Jim's and Blair's wallets at his feet. Drey's voice became very stern and annoyed, "But you don't seem to understand. First of all, I don't kill people, ever. I just play a bit, it's this thing I like to do. I don't think I'll have to kill him to take him away form you. Second of all, I don't need to 'kill a cop', I need to 'kill' a Cascade PD Major Crimes cop's partner. You're the cop, he's the partner. I don't see a problem here, do you, Johnson?"

Johnson offered a grunt as he walked around Jim and stuck a gun in his back.

Walking over to Blair, Drey absently traced the blade over his bare chest. Jim winced, but Blair was too drugged to react.

"He's gorgeous, isn't he?"

Jim's heart leaped into his throat, trying to find a way to distract Drey. His mind refused to focus though, and he just sat there at a complete loss of what to do.

"Such nice skin… It's amazing how hard it is to notice sometimes, perfection. The problem with perfection though is you can never really understand how perfect something is, until there's a flaw to compliment it." Drey made a wide gesture with the blade, leaving a slash across Blair's ribs. Blair twisted slightly and moaned, visibly starting to fight through his drug-induced haze, but was blissfully unaware of how the madman was looking at him. Jim could see it though, and it scared the hell out of him. His hands twisted in their binds, testing the strength of the belt and the competence of the knot, but his efforts just ended up getting the gun pressed deeper into his back.

Meanwhile, Drey circled Blair, talking to Jim but obviously having his attention completely focused on Blair's hanging form. "My partner had nice skin too, though she had nice everything, if you know what I mean. And God, she was brilliant." As Drey spoke he carved shallow patterns in Blair's chest, cutting only deep enough to bleed, as if teasing his body.

Drey's face showed his sudden disgust as he compared Blair to his partner. "She was ten times the partner this sorry excuse for a person could ever be." Stopping at Blair's back, he suddenly made another large slash. Blair gasped, his breath coming irregularly and harsh. "But then that's another story." He stood back for a moment, as if appreciating his work, then slowly stepped forward, visibly trapped in his own little world. From behind, he put his arm around Blair's waist, closed his eyes, and leaned forward to suck at a shallow cut he'd put there a short time earlier. The whimper that came from the back of Blair's throat threatened to cut Jim's control to pieces.

Jim tried again. "You know nothing about Blair. He's been the best fucking partner I could ever have hoped for, if I'd ever even hoped-"

Drey spoke over him, sounding bitter towards the interruption, "'Why don't you just sit there, shut up and quiver in fear for your own life?"

"-and I'll be damned if he's not a better person than some whore who would work with a psycho like you!"

Drey stopped and stared at Jim, a look of horror on his face, "Shut up." Furious, he took several steps towards Jim, but not coming up with any sort of retaliation, turned back towards Blair before turning back to Jim. "Just shut the fuck up!"

Drey spun on his heel, back to Blair, and screamed. Blair's head snapped to the side from the following blow, but Blair didn't even seem to react, slowly slipping back into the obliviousness of unconsciousness.

"Fucking no good anthro freak. What good is that ever going to the world anyways?" Drey muttered and hit him again, his anger building.

He started talking to Blair. "Why don't you wake up and defend yourself, hun?" He hit him a third time. "You seemed to be so good at that before. No fancy words? No fucking professors on your side this time?" Drey punched him in the gut.

"Drey!" Jim spoke up, realizing the guy was about to go berserk and trying a different approach. "You don't want to do this! Think about it, he may not be a cop, but if you kill him it'll be just as bad-"

"Don't want to do this?! You have no clue how much I want to do this!" Drey ranted, "And cops? What's so bad about killing fucking cops? Cops kill people, they destroy lives, lifetimes of work. No one cares. I have nothing to live for now. The past eight years of my life have become absolutely obsolete, and now all I want is a little justice, a little revenge," his anger flared suddenly, "So you can't tell me I don't want to do this!" He roundhouse kicked Blair's lower back to emphasize the point.

Drey stood, breathing harshly, calming down.

Regaining his composure, he smiled awkwardly and turned to Jim. "There's a wall of bottles over there, I saw you eyeing them earlier. Interested? I am going to give one dose from one bottle to your friend here, and you get to pick which one."

Jim's eyes widen as the implications dawned on him, "What?"

"You heard me. They're all different, most of them my own creations, but some are just things I pulled off the shelf from a drug store. Some of them will cause massive hallucinations, some of them will put him in coma, and one of them won't do a thing," he paused. "But then that's just a relative few of the many possibilities open to you. And before you protest, I can guarantee that if you don't choose, I will. Don't forget that I'm the one who knows what they all do, and it would go against my nature to not pick the slowest and most painful of them all. There's only one of those, and well over a hundred bottles. If you pick, there's a very good chance you won't get it. Of course there's the matter of your conscience; could you live with yourself knowing that whatever Blair goes though over the next couple days relies solely on your decision? But then, how much would Blair appreciate your conscience, while he's going through hell?"

Jim didn't know if there really was logic in those words, or if the drugs had made him more vulnerable to suggestion, but what Drey was saying made terrible amounts of sense. He picked one based on what Blair's birthday, months down, days across, and ended up with a bottle full of murky, green pills which look like crushed herb pulp in some sort of syrup. Drey smiled uncommitingly, and pulled down the bottle. Removing a pill, he gently held Blair's face in one hand, and forced the pill down his throat with the other. After a moment, Drey motioned for Johnson to take Blair down and out of the room.

"I've called your station for you… I figured it would save you the trouble of having to find a phone."

"What?"

"They know that I have you, and they'll know where we are soon enough. My lab needs to be restocked, and I'm a little low on funds. I'll be exchanging you for compensation-"

"Ransom."

"Whatever. Then you'll be home safe, and I can continue our research. Everybody's happy." Jim heard Johnson reentering the room behind him. Looking frighteningly sober, Drey glared at Jim before spitting at him. "Get out of my sight."

With that, Drey turned and stalked back towards his lab tables. Jim barely had time to turn his head in Johnson's direction before he was knocked unconscious with the butt of his gun.

-------------------

Jim was awoken by the overwhelming stench of mud, mildew and blood. Immediately turning his scent down and his vision up, he strained to see through the darkness but all did was encourage a sharp headache. Where the hell were they that there was no light? He turned his sight down and took a couple cautious steps forward into the room, recognizing that unmistakable heart beat while stumbling over something on the floor. Hearing a cry of pain and sudden, harsh breathing. Jim dropped to his knees. He could have sworn his own heart had just skipped a beat. "Chief?" his hand found Blair's bare shoulder, slick with either sweat or blood. "Blair!" he repeated more urgently, his other hand going to cup the side of his Guide's face. "You with me, pal?"

Blair didn't answer, but his breathing calmed a little. Looking down at Blair, Jim tried desperately to see anything, even just a shadow of his partner below him, but nothing came. This is definitely not good, Jim thought to himself. Shifting his weight he gently pulled Blair up to get behind him, trying to ignore his unconscious moan of protest. Sitting now, with Blair's head resting heavily on his shoulder, he let his hands roam over Blair's bare chest, seeking out the worst of his injuries.

What had Drey ended up giving him? He had to remind himself that it had been Drey, not himself. If he hadn't chosen; no matter how it ends up now, it would most likely have been much worse. Unfortunately that reassurance didn't keep waves of guilt from washing over him with every labored breath his partner took. It tore his soul to shreds, having Blair there, bleeding, possibly dying in his arms. He could feel his fury building, not just at that maniac for doing this to him, but at himself for not being able to stop it.

Jim wondered who this Drey guy was; he seemed to know a lot about Blair, although there was nothing he mentioned that he couldn't have learned by rifling through Blair's backpack. He sighed.

Finding the most offensive wounds, he carefully shrugged out of his jacket and tore the lining into strips. As he moved to tie them around Blair, he felt his partner tense suddenly, then struggle against him in his arms. "Shh… Blair, it's me. Calm down." Jim held him as tight as he dared, trying to keep Blair from hurting himself. "Blair, it's ok, I'm not going to let anyone hurt you." anymore. "Blair, please relax." Eventually Jim could feel Blair's breathing change as he seemed to realize who was holding him.

"Jim?"

"Right here, Chief." Jim winced as he listened to Blair's voice, weak and shaky. "Jim, man, what the hell happened? I can't see anything."

"Don't worry, it's just real dark. Relax, I've got you." Jim continued to hold Blair, praying that for Blair it was just the dark, and that he hadn't gone blind. Blair's breathing was still erratic and shallow, but better. "Can you stay with me for a minute, Chief? I'm gonna have to bandage you up. Just lie back and relax, I'll take care of it." Jim felt Blair nod, and as carefully as he could, he slipped the strips of fabric around Blair and tied them. Blair bit his lip and tensed, but didn't complain beyond the catching in his breaths.

Next Jim got his arms out of the sweater he was wearing, and flipping it over his head, he got it over Blair's. Between the two of them managed to get Blair's arms into it. It was backwards and inside out, but the motions were lot easier less painful for both of them. "I'm going to check around and see what we've got here. Are you ok for a minute?" He felt Blair hesitate, but nod again, and he carefully slid out and helped him lie down. Jim hated having to leave Blair, even for a second, but was rewarded shortly:

Earlier, he thought he had smelled old canvas and wood, and now came across a single cot in one corner. As he continued, he found the door he'd come through. It sealed on all sides, and could only be opened from the outside.

Finding nothing else, he went back to kneel next to Blair. "Chief?" Blair moaned a bit; he seemed to be floating in and out of consciousness. Bending down, Jim checked Blair 's vitals, and deciding he wasn't in any immediate danger, gathered him into his arms and walked over to the cot. After carefully laying him out, he went back for his jacket and laid it over his partner's chest. "Blair?" he tried to rouse him. It was frustrating, sitting here helpless. He couldn't even tell how much of Blair's condition was due to the drugs, and how much was due to the beating.

Jim had been so focused on listening to Blair's breathing and heartbeat, the creak of door behind him thundered painfully in his ears. He heard someone slip inside, then the door closed again. Jim immediately recognized the click of Drey's shoes as he walked into the middle of the room.

"Presents!" Several items hit the floor, then Drey turned and left.

Hesitantly, Jim left Blair's side again to find what Drey had left. His hands found a large candle, a lighter, a hand towel, and a water bottle.

The candle seemed like a flare after the dark. Listing his sweater, he finally got a good chance to see how his partner looked. Jim shuddered slightly at the marks and spreading bruises covering his body. Sparing some of the water to wet the towel, he cleaned off as much of the blood off his chest and arms as he could without disturbing the makeshift bandages. Finishing, he tried to rouse him, succeeding only after several long seconds of prodding.

"Blair?" He mumbled something incoherent.

"Come on, Chief." Jim held the bottle to Blair's lips, trying to get him to drink. Satisfied after a couple sips, Jim let him slip back into sleep.

Jim sighed and sat back on his heels, left to his own thought for the first time since he woke up in that chair. He always felt mildly responsible for Blair being in and out of the hospital with gunshot wounds, concussions, even drug overdoses, all thanks to his police work. Blair never seemed to mind, but probably wouldn't have objected if Jim had turned out to be a botanist or something equally mild, not that that would match up to the 'prophesized' description of a Sentinel. Regardless, Jim knew that Blair didn't stick with him just because he liked the police work; he really was there because Jim was there. He was Jim's Guide, and Jim was his Sentinel. His 'Blessed Protector', but all he seemed to be able to do for him was drag him into hospitals and make him tea. When Blair helped Jim it was because Jim needed Blair. No one else knew how to talk him out of zones, or knew how to deal with the more serious complications with his senses.

Jim heard the door again, and saw Drey come back in, with a folded canvas chair in hand. Unfolding the chair, he silently set it up across the room and sat in it.

Jim was about to ask Drey in not so many words what the hell he wanted, when Blair stirred. Jim rushed to his side, finding it more than a little disconcerting that while Jim looked directly into Blair's eyes, Blair seemed to look right through him. Jim watched as he blinked dazedly, "Man, we really have to do something about the lighting in this place."

At a loss for words and with Drey as a persistent distraction behind him, he decided not to confront anything at the moment. "Yeah, tell me about it. Go back to sleep, Sandburg."

Blair sighed, already floating back towards unconsciousness.

Smiling, Drey leaned forward in his chair, "You know, you could kill me right now. I'm sure you'd love to. You won't get out without me, though. Even if you did get out of here, it's a good twenty-mile hike to the nearest trace of civilization. You'd probably have to leave him somewhere, all alone. Besides, I'm the only one with the magic potion that can cure him."

He stood, looking over his shoulder as he left, "It doesn't stop with his eyes."

-----------------

Again alone in with Blair, was immediately relieved when Blair woke up on his own. He checking his pulse with his fingers, not that he'd ever lost track of it since waking up in this room. "How do you feel?"

"Like an army of angry crabs tried to turn me inside out. Why, how do you feel?"

Ignoring Blair's attempt at lightness, Jim continued, "Do you know what happened? What do you remember?"

The genuine concern made Blair a little uneasy, but he thought about it for a minute, trying to place all the fragments of memories he had together. "Uh.. we were in the park, you zoned, then there were a lot of flashes of something painful, and then we ended up here. What did I miss?"

"We were kidnapped by some guy with a grudge against the police department for the death of his partner. He's holding us for ransom. He's got a pretty mean looking assistant too." Jim stopped for a second, breathing deeply, trying to get the reawakened pounding in his head to subside a little.

Blair noticed. "Are you ok, Jim, you don't sound so good."

Of course Blair would have to notice. "Yeah, I'm fine," he lied. His head was pounding and could still feel the drugs in his system, but he'd be damned if he was going to have Sandburg worry over him now. "It's just the smell's getting to me a little. It's fine now though." Blair seemed to be out of it enough to accept that. He continued, "You were drugged again by Drey-"

"That's the creep who's holding us?"

"Yeah. You don't know that name, do you?" Blair though about it, "No, should I?"

"No."

There was an eerie pause before Jim continued, "How much can you see? Try to concentrate."

Blair did, but trying to concentrate on anything made his stomach unnaturally queasy, and he gave up shortly. "Not much, just a couple shadows, but it's dark, right? I mean, I'm not a Sentinel, I can't see through this stuff."

Jim paused again, "There's a candle lit just to my left."

"Oh… So you're telling me I'm blind?" Jim could easily recognize the subtle undertones of panic creeping into his voice.

"Just for a little while. Drey's got some kind of antidote, we've just got to get it from him. He's just trying to scare us into cooperating with him." He wasn't really sure that he believed his own words - who said that Drey really had an antidote after all? And he certainly hadn't made any substantial demands to cooperate with, but he couldn't help but reassure him. Jim could tell Blair had read the uncertainty in his voice. He took Blair's hand in his own.

"Hey, Sandburg, you trust me, right?"

"Well, yeah."

"Then when I tell you this will go away, you know it will. I don't plan to be leading a blind man around while chasing bad guys." Jim bit his tongue, unsure if that was actually the most supportive thing to say.

"Ok. Thanks, Jim," Blair said uneasily trying to sound collected, even if it was more for Jim than himself.

They talked for a while, but Blair started drifting again, and Jim soon ended up in a depressingly one-sided conversation. Realizing Blair had finally passed out, Jim's thoughts turned to their escape. He would not leave Blair, that was not an option, which definitely complicated things.

Drey interrupted his thoughts as he reentered the room and sat in his chair. In one hand his was holding a small, loaded syringe, the needle capped. "How's he doing?"

Jim ignored the question, eyeing the syringe suspiciously. "What is that?"

Drey looked down at it, as if seeing it for the first time, "That? Oh. That's just the antidote for your friend, there." He paused. "Do you want it?"

Jim thought about that for a second, wondering if it was a trick question. "Yes."

"What would you do for it?"

So that's where this is going, Jim thought, He want's something from me. Not that is would have mattered, his answer would have been the same regardless of the motivation behind the question. Anything. "What do you want?"

Drey looked at him as if considering his answer. "You two really are good partners, aren't you." He was sounding sentimental. For a brief moment, Jim thought he was just going to hand it over, then and there. He answered cautiously. "Yes, we are."

Drey nodded, smiling almost wistfully. He fingered the cap on the syringe. "Good." He nodded again, then got up and left the room.

----------------------

The next time Blair awoke, he was completely deaf. Jim had wondered how he was going to handle a panic-attacked Blair when he couldn't even talk to him, but Blair had been eerily calm. After a while, he started talking to Jim in kind of a train-of-thought monologue. Jim held his hand, offering support through the only means of communication left open to him.

"… I've decided this isn't really so bad, this whole loss of senses thing. It's kinda neat, to be completely trapped in your own mind. There are no distractions or anything, you know? It would have made a good experiment- taking you away from your senses. We could have gotten our hands on one of those sensory depravation tanks or something. You should try it when you get out of here."

It disturbed Jim in no small way that Blair was talking as if he'd already accepted his own death.

"All things considered, it's not a bad way to go. It kinda gives a man a chance to get to know himself before, you know, death. Not that I'd be really be dead, but it'll be close enough. Not that I'm doubting you, Jim, but if it were to end for me here, like this, I really wouldn't mind. It's really kinda peaceful." His unseeing eyes blinked, and he continued.

"You know, if I don't make it, it would not be your fault. And anything you come up with to blame yourself for later, don't. I completely forgive you for any shortcomings you think you brought to our friendship; you gave it so much more. You've been a really good friend. You treated me better then I ever should have hoped for, especially since most of my original interest in our relationship was mostly scientific…"

Jim took his hand from Blair, and he quieted, as if sensing his friend's need for silence. Jim sat back on his heels and watched Blair's blank face, noticing that he'd gone back to his inner reflection. He suppressed a sob. He wanted to hold onto Blair, listen to what was going on inside his head, but he just couldn't stand it. Guilt was ripping him limb from limb, and the fact that Blair had accepted his fate hadn't made things any easier, as if, regardless of what Blair claimed, he'd lost faith in his friend. What kind of a Blessed Protector was he if he couldn't get to a tiny vial within 100 yards of him?

It hadn't escaped Jim's attention that Blair's words had started slurring, and his hands twitched occasionally- he was losing his sense of touch. Jim was running out of time. All of his frustration turned slowly to resent. Every muscle tensed as he watched the door and waited to jump Drey for the antidote the next chance he had.

-------------------

Jim's eyes lit up as the door finally swung open.

Drey stepped inside, walking into the room, flipping the stout, loaded syringe end over end. "Ready to cooperate?" His smug expression changed to terror at the sight of Jim barreling towards him. They both went down in a mess of arms and legs, Jim coming out on top with the syringe.

Looking down at Drey, Jim almost didn't recognize him. His eyes were anxious, his jaw slack in shock, "What are you doing?"

Jim grunted in contempt, "What does it look like?" he resisted the urge to kick Drey while he was down, and instead walked towards Blair.

"You don't want to do that!" the desperation in Drey's voice was palatable.

Jim sat on the edge of the bed and took the cap off the needle, "And why is that? Because you'll loose your hold over us?" He injected the full syringe into Blair's arm.

Drey smiled suddenly, "Well…"

The sudden change in Drey's tone was completely unexpected, and as Drey stood, he changed from the distraught man watching things go wrong, back to the confident, smug psycho seen earlier.

Something was wrong. Jim turned quickly back to Blair, realizing that his breathing and heartrate were dropping rapidly. Blair was going comatose. He could tell; he'd been tuned into his heartbeat for how long now? It slowly filled the air, becoming a constant background noise.

thathump thathump

"No," Jim barely mouthed the words.

Drey stood, stretching. "Well, that's over with. I was getting tired of waiting anyway." He tilted his head, considering the pair, then dismissed them. "I have to make some calls, I'll be back to collect you shortly."

Jim just knelt there, in shock, semi-zoned.

"thathump thathump

-----------------

Simon watched as the last couple squad cars pulled up around the ruins of the warehouse. Looking around, he did as the call instructed, and waited. The place was well beyond repair; barely any of it was still standing, although from where he stood, the foundation looked intact. He wondered how extensive a cellar the place had; that would probably be the only place still useable.

He couldn't help but wonder how Jim and Blair were doing. They hadn't been missing for that long, but from the way this guy sounded on the phone, that wasn't any comfort.

Suddenly a voice rang from a PA system Simon suspected was mounted in the remains of the walls. "Alright, boys, let's do this."

Simon watched as Jim, carrying an unconscious Blair, walked out from behind one of the walls. They were followed closely by the man wearing the headset that he assumed was Drey, and another, large, man. The latter two were both armed with guns, both trained on Jim.

Drey spoke again, easily heard through the speakers, "Put down your guns."

Looking from Drey to his assistant, Simon realized that even if his team managed to take one of them down, the other would probably be able to shoot Jim before they got him anyway. "Do it." They followed their captain's orders.

"You see I have your men, do you have my money?"

Simon walked forward on the wide cement walkway, studying his detectives. He worried for Blair, held protectively in Jim's arms, and for Jim who was looking well beyond shock. He placed the metal suitcase on the ground, halfway between Drey and the line of cops behind him, and retreated.

"Mr. Ellison, walk over to the suitcase." Jim complied as if he were in a trance, his eyes flat and glassy. In his head, Blair's heartbeat sounded.

thathump thathump

"Now, put your friend down, and pick the suitcase up." Jim stood there like a statue. Simon's gut clenched in sympathy with the raw emotion showing on Jim's face.

Drey continued, his voice still steady, "Jim, put him down. I can still cure him for you."

thathump thathump

Simon though he saw something akin to hatred flash in Jim's eyes. He slowly and carefully put Blair down on the ground and turned toward Drey.

thathump thathump

"Pick up the suitcase." Drey readjusted his aim, as if seeing the resistance building in Jim's eyes.

thathump thathump

Jim suddenly screamed, running all out towards Drey.

thathump thathump thathump thathump

Jim didn't even notice the sound of the two shots fired. To him, a sudden silence came over the scene, and he and Drey toppled over in slow motion. The headset was knocked several yards away.

Slamming back into reality, Jim noticed that Drey had been shot. He heard him whisper, "I guess it would make sense that if I kill the cop, I'd have to die too." He gave Jim one last, pathetic smile, and passed out.

Jim stood, taking a couple shaky steps before collapsing to his knees. He was covered in blood. His or Drey's? Had he been hit?

Simon wondered the same thing, but looking at Drey he noticed something odd about his gun - it was a dart gun, made to look and sound like a real one.

Drey's assistant quickly moved to Jim's side, drawing the aim of several officers. He stopped, saying, "My name is Detective Fraser Carre, Greenborough PD, badge number 768390. I've been working undercover with the 'employed-guns' organization Drey hired."

Simon turned to one of his subordinates, "Call it in, Moore." She nodded and ran to the nearest radio. Looking down, he saw Carre helping Jim lie down. "Mr. Carre, unless you'd like to be shot, I'd suggest that you step back and put your hands on your head."

The detective did as he was told, but continued, "A general anti-toxin will bring him right out of it- it isn't very strong stuff, just enough to kill if left untreated. Drey was planning to use it on himself after dealing with Detective Ellison and Mr. Sandburg."

Simon nodded at a pair of paramedics, who had been waiting anxiously until the situation was resolved. Now they ran to Jim's side, anti-toxin already in hand. "Captain Banks, I have the antidote for Mr. Sandburg's condition on me. If we don't use it soon, he may never recover."

Simon's eyes narrowed, trying to figure out if the man was telling the truth. He glanced back at Moore, who signaled that they hadn't confirmed the badge number yet, and then glanced down at Blair. God, the kid looked like shit. He looked back up at Carre.

Carre winced visibly under the scrutiny of the Captain. "Sir, at this point every second counts."

Simon glared back towards Moore, who shrugged helplessly. He knew the call would take about 10 minutes. It had been maybe three. "Ok, Carre, but move slow, and show the medics what you're doing."

Carre walked over to where two medics had flanked Blair. They'd been kneeling uneasily, unsure what to do; Blair was physically stable, and they had been waiting for Simon's permission to leave for the hospital. Simon followed as Carre slipped a vial of bright blue liquid from his jacket pocket, reaching into the medic's kit for a syringe and cotton. Drawing 3ccs, he shot them directly into the artery in Blair's neck, then skillfully covered the puncture wound with the cotton and taped it down.

"Ok," Carre sighed, "either he'll wake up sometime over the next 12 hours, or he won't wake up at all. I don't really know what's in here…" he continued, handing the rest of the vial to the medic. Simon watched Blair's face, looking for any sign that the vial had actually been the antidote, or if he'd just let a criminal in his custody kill Blair.

Moore's voice from behind grabbed his attention, "His badge number cleared, Sir. Detective Fraser Jeremy Carre, he's been with the Greenborough Police Department for 6 years."

Simon sighed, relieved, and holstered his gun as he looked around. Drey had already been carted off to the ER, although no one really expected he'd make it even that far. Jim, still out (god knew what his body was going through at this point, with the conflicting drugs in his system) had been moved onto a gurney and was being loaded into the ambulance, as was Blair when he turned around. He sighed again. He wanted to follow his friends to the hospital, but being the senior officer on the scene, he knew he'd be more help to them here. He headed towards the house to head up the investigation.

---------------------

Jim sat staring into space. Less than 40 hours ago they had been sitting quietly in that park, which made it roughly 4:00 am now. Jim had long ago lost track of things like time and sleep; he now sat floating somewhere indescript, looking over Blair and just existing. As much as he tried, he couldn't stop his mind from drifting to the events of the last day and a half, though each time painful memories sent him crashing back, looking again into his fallen friend's face. Blair had already been conscious for fleeting moments; not long enough to realize what happened, but long enough to assure the doctors that he was going to make a full recovery.

Jim had often felt he'd failed Blair, but never had his failure been so blindingly obvious to even himself. He hadn't been able to stop Drey as he mercilessly beat into his partner; he'd sat in the same room watching. He'd been the one to put him in this coma with that catalyst, playing right into Drey's hands, doing exactly as the bad guys wanted him to. If it hadn't been for that undercover cop, Blair would be as good as dead. He couldn't even make himself get angry at the cop for not intervening earlier; not only had he had his orders not to interfere, therefore not blowing the cover of the other cops still working for the 'employed-guns' agency, but that was supposed to be Jim's responsibility in the first place. Blair had been counting on him to get them out of that mess, but here they were, in the hospital, Jim watching over a partner that he'd failed to protect, again.

Even when the situation had been relatively under control, he'd gone and put a wrench in the works by getting himself taken down, taking up valuable resources that could have been better used to help Blair or aid in the investigation.

He hadn't even been there to hold Blair's hand.

And he'd wanted to. The paramedics had now way of knowing, but he hadn't been completely senseless in that ambulance. He had been able to hear everything that was going on, even though he hadn't managed to fully wake up. He'd heard when Blair's heart rate had changed even before the medics had noticed. He'd heard the catch in Blair's breath before he started convulsing on the gurney, heard the shuffle as hands reached to hold him down, and a voice speaking softly, trying to calm him.

Strangers hands. A stranger's voice.

Blair deserved better. It should have been Jim's voice coaching Blair to relax, his familiar hands holding him, but while being less than 3 feet away, he had been completely out of reach.

None of this might even have happened if he hadn't zoned in the park. He might have heard them hiding in the bushes. He could have called for back up. They might have gone home at an earlier hour. The possible paths they had had to avoid the last day and a half reached out beyond count, and Jim blamed himself for missing each and every one of them. He took little consolation in the fact that Drey was now dead.

He heard Simon walk into the room behind him, but didn't turn around.

"Hey, Jim."

When Jim didn't answer, he'd looked up into the Detective's face, and was shocked at the pain showing in his eyes, looking too much like it had been there for years. Simon continued, knowing Jim would hear him.

"Carre just gave his statement a couple hours ago. It turns out this guy had a thing against Blair from the beginning. His real name was Ben Pratchett, and he was another grad student from Ranier, up for the same grant that Blair got last term. Without the money, he and his partner were forced to start stealing the supplies they needed for their research. A couple weeks ago, Pratchett's partner had been killed while holding up a pharmacy. Apparently that's when he lost it, and decided to take it out on Blair. He also wanted to involve the police for the public sympathy it would get for their situation and his partner's death. He was never planning to use the money, he was actually planning to kill himself after turning you two over."

Jim nodded slowly. No good reason, he thought. All this because some kid wanted attention.

Simon watched him, worried, "You ok, Jim?"

"No."

After a moment, he stood, retrieving his and Blair's wallets from his jacket. Placing all the cash from his wallet into Blair's, he handed it and Blair's keys to Simon. "When he gets out of here, get him settled in the loft for me, would you?"

Simon eyed the offerings suspiciously, but reading the look in Jim's face, took them. "Where will you be?"

"I don't know."

"Where can I reach you when he wakes up?"

"Don't."

---------------

Something was wrong, he could tell. Even before he was fully conscious, he knew something was very wrong. Slowly waking up, he felt someone take his hand. "Jim?"

"No, Blair, its Simon. It's really good to see you awake."

Blair opened his eyes, trying to focus on the blurry, dark face in front of him. "Is he alright?" Blair realized he was in a hospital, which meant they'd gotten out. Or at least he had. His mind jumped to a hundred horrifying reasons why Jim wouldn't be there with him.

Reading his train of thoughts, Simon quickly cut in, "No, Blair, Jim's fine, really."

"Where is he?"

Simon could see that somehow, Blair already knew; just another testament to the link they somehow seemed to share. He decided not to hide anything from the kid. "I honestly don't know."

Blair tried, but couldn't completely conceal the crushing disappointment and hurt in his eyes as his fears were realized: Jim ran away. Sensing his need to be alone, Simon left, promising to be nearby if he needed him; he could explain what happened later.

Inside, Blair wanted to scream. Jim's guilt had finally driven him away, and now he was left here, alone. "How am I supposed to go on without you?" he whispered, and silently cried himself to sleep.

END.

NOTE: Yes, I decided to end it there. You as the reader can assume that Jim comes back and there's some really good smarm scenes while they make up and Blair recovers fully, but I like h/c; smarm isn't my forte. If there is anyone out there who would like to take a crack at a sequel covering these things, please be my guest. I would love to see how it turns out:)

NOTE! A lovely and talented writer did create a sequel which I enjoy and endorse : RETURN OF THE SENSES, by Sam Mallory.