Nine Lives

Summary: When Blair is injured in the line of duty, he learns something interesting about his connection to Jim, and to Jim's spirit animal.
Rating: PG
Timeline: Post "The Sentinel, by Blair Sandburg"
Disclaimer: I don't own the boys, although I do have a nifty spirit animal who walks with me.
Author's Note: Thanks to Kameka for the Beta. Quack, m'dear.

Nine Lives

Blair had been officially assigned to Major Crime for not quite three days when he saw his first piece of action as an actual Detective.

"This reminds me of this time in Brazil," he told Jim as the pair crouched behind Jim's truck and getting shot at by a bank robber. "There was this village of Yanamamo--"

"Save it for your memoirs, Chief," his partner interrupted, popping up from behind their cover and squeezing off a few shots.

"Yeah, only I think I've learned my lesson about writing things down," Blair answered, leaning around the bumper and getting in a few shots of his own. "You're completely surrounded!" he called. "It'll be easier for you if you come in peacefully!"

Flying bullets were the only response to this declaration.

"And you got top marks in your negotiation course?" Jim smirked.

"You want to give it a shot, Ellison?" Blair grumbled. "It's not as easy as it sounds!"

"Gee, I never noticed that! Look, we need to break cover, see if we can outflank him."

Blair examined the terrain around them. Concrete traffic barriers would probably provide better cover than the truck anyway. He gestured to them, swapped a few hand-signals with Jim and broke.

Blinding pain in his shoulder spun him around but did not slow him in the least. He sprinted past the shooter and dove behind the barrier, allowing himself the luxury of a pained bellow as he landed on his injured arm. The world swam before his eyes.

"Oh, no you don't, Chief," he muttered to himself, going into a breathing exercise to take the edge off his pain. "It's not like you've never been shot before. Get it together, Sandburg!"

"Chief?" Jim's voice reached his ears, the older man's worry audible.

"I'm hit, Jim. It's nothing," he said in a low voice. Jim would know he had been shot; the robber did not have to. "Naomi is going to be pissed…"

"Sure, threaten me with your mother!" Jim shouted back, laughter in his voice.

Blair smiled, resting his cheek against the warm concrete traffic barrier. Not so much like the incident in Brazil any more. He had been shot at, but not actually shot in Brazil. In Brazil, as here, the adrenaline had been flowing. The difference was that, here, he was having trouble staying awake. His limbs were heavy and hot, as if they were full of molten lead. In fact, that about summed up the pain in his shoulder. His right arm out of commission, he tried to lift his gun with his left hand but it slid between his fingers and bounced off his knee before tumbling to the ground.

With relief, he heard the voices of other cops swarming onto the scene. Which he took as permission to pass out now. The world went dark and, as it did, the burning in his shoulder vanished. He was smiling by the time he hit the ground.

He was aware of darkness, aware that some idiot was dragging him across what felt like blacktop by both arms. For some reason, it did not hurt remotely. Then he heard Jim's voice, frantic. He tried to open his eyes, to form words of reassurance, but he could not seem to muster the energy. The fear in Jim's voice made him want to weep, but there was no energy for that, either.

A low growling reached his ears, and something warm and furry and large was nuzzling the side of his face. Jim's spirit animal?

How badly wounded am I?

Badly. The warrior is frightened.

He turned his head and found himself nose-to-nose with the black jaguar. Its tongue rasped across his face and his nose was hit with the scent of Jim's toothpaste. He could feel Jim's hands on his face, his head in the Sentinel's lap, but he could not move or even open his eyes.

So how was he seeing Jim's spirit animal?

Stay. The warrior needs you.

I'm not going anywhere. Tell him.

He hears all, but he does not always listen.

Blair felt something slip. He could not have described exactly what, but it scared him. He reached frantically for the great cat and felt his hand close around Jim's wrist. He tried to squeeze, to reassure Jim, but could not find the strength.

"It's okay, Chief," Jim was whispering to him. "Ambulance is on its way. You just need to hang on for us. Simon won't be happy if the new guy in Major Crimes lasts less than three days."

Simon? Oh, God. Simon was going to kill him!

The jaguar was back, nuzzling his face then, as Blair felt his awareness of the sensation start to fade, it closed its teeth around his neck. Which should have been terrifying but was, somehow, nothing but comforting.

Jim kept talking to him, his voice fading in and out as if someone was playing with the volume-control. Blair clung to it as well as he could. He was not exactly scared, but he was worried about Jim. The Sentinel could not be alone; he needed Blair. And Blair needed to be with him.

A plastic tube was roughly forced into a largish vein on the back of his hand, an oxygen mask placed over his mouth and nose. Clothing was cut away, electrodes applied. Nothing Blair was not familiar with from a dozen other incidents where exactly the same procedure was followed. The main difference now was the lack of anything resembling pain or panic. It should have been worrying, he knew, but that would have taken energy he simply did not have.

I have to stay, he protested simply, every time he felt his grip on reality slipping. And, every time, he felt a little more grounded in the real world. He could feel the gurney under him, the hands of the paramedics working to staunch the flow of blood from his shoulder, Jim's hand grasping his own, thumb moving restlessly over the back of his hand but always avoiding the IV line.

He came fully conscious as Jim's hand was torn from his. "No!" he protested, forcing himself up on one arm – his bad one as it turned out. The pain was dizzying, but he refused to let himself go back to sleep. Or back into a coma, or whatever. "No, the warrior needs me! I need to stay!"


Blair forced his eyes open and saw Jim being restrained by Simon and a pair of orderlies.

"Detective Sandburg, I need you to lay down and relax," an authoritarian female voice directed. Hands pressed on his chest and uninjured arm and his gurney was rolled in the opposite direction from Jim. "Detective Ellison, you can see him as soon as he's out of surgery," the woman told the other man, who had stopped struggling but was still looking mutinous.

"It's okay, Jim," Blair murmured, letting himself be pushed back against the gurney. "There'll be an overgrown alley-cat watching their every move."

"I know. I see him."

"Then you know you don't have to worry. But, so help me, Jim, if he gave me a hickey…"

"He's delirious," the doctor announced as they moved into the surgery. "You find that blood for me?"

"It's on its way upstairs now, Doctor."


"Hey, look who decided to join us again in the land of the living!"

"Jim?" Blair asked, slowly opening his eyes and glancing around. He was in a hospital room, hooked up to monitors and IVs but actually feeling pretty good. It took him a moment to isolate that as being from the morphine. "What happened?"

"You got yourself shot," Simon informed him. "Again. Three days after you started as a full Detective. Do you have any idea how much paperwork you've netted me?"

"Sorry, Simon," Blair answered meekly.

"He's just grumpy because he's relieved," Jim told Blair. "It was pretty touch-and-go for awhile. You went through nine units of blood in surgery."

"Guess that explains why I'm feeling so light-headed." Blair sighed and took a look around. Jim's spirit animal was curled up on a chair in the corner. "Hey…"

"Yeah, I see him, too," Jim murmured. "By the way, sorry about your neck…"

Blair reached up to touch it with his good hand, wincing. "He did! Your spirit animal gave me a hickey!"

"Sandburg, it's a rash," Simon told him, shaking his head. "I'm out of here. I have so much paperwork it's not even funny."

Jim was shaking with silent laughter by the time Simon was gone. "Let's try not to let this get around at the station, Chief. You getting a hickey because of me, that could be misconstrued."

"You think?" Blair asked, grinning. "So, when do I get out of here, Jim?"

"Better discuss that with the doctor."

"Could you be a little more evasive there, Jim?" Blair's smile faded abruptly. "God, what is it? What's wrong?"

"Nothing, not any more. The bullet nicked the subclavian artery." Jim closed his eyes. "You flat-lined a couple of times on the table."


Blair hit the button to raise the head of his bed, so he could stare at Jim on the same level. "Are you okay, Jim?"

Not opening his eyes, the Sentinel told him, "Your wolf, she was out there sitting with me in the waiting room the entire time. I could feel her getting weaker sometimes, but it was like something passed between us, then, and she was strong again."

"It's hardly the first time," Blair pointed out.

A wolf padded into the hospital room, resting her chin on the edge of the bed. And, while she was looking at Jim, her words were for Blair.

The warrior's heart aches, yet he is happy.

I know, sweetheart,Blair answered, resting a hand on top of her head.

Humans are confusing, shaman.

Yes, he agreed, chuckling.

"What's funny?" Jim asked, frowning at him.

"Humans are confusing," Blair told him, trying to stop laughing. It hurt! But it was still funny as hell for some reason.

Jim frowned at Blair for a moment, then tilted his head and regarded the spirit wolf quizzically. She rumbled deep in her throat and licked Blair's hand. He thought she might have been laughing along with him. The jaguar opened its eyes and lifted its head, letting out a strange almost-cough.

Hrugn, hrugn, hrugn.

"I hate being the only one not in on a joke," Jim muttered.

"Don't worry, Jim. I think the joke's on both of us," Blair admitted, smiling and shaking his head.

Jim frowned blankly.

"They don't get us."

"Well, that's just fine, 'cause I don't get them."

"Neither do I," Blair agreed, scratching his wolf behind her ears. "But, then, I don't always get you. Doesn't make it any less comforting to have you around."

Jim smiled and gave Blair's hair a ruffle. Abruptly, his hand stilled and his eyes glazed over, all his attention on the black jaguar in the corner.

"Jim, man, what is it?" Blair asked, touching his wrist.

"Uh, I'm supposed to tell you. That's two. You have seven left…"

"Heh," Blair answered, shaking his head. "I vicariously get nine lives because your spirit animal is a cat?"

"Apparently," Jim answered, looking as perplexed as Blair felt.

Shaman, you are connected to the warrior. Through this, each of you gain the protections afforded the other, his wolf explained.

"Man," Blair muttered. "If I hadn't learned my lesson about that kind of thing, there would so be a paper in that."

"A paper on what?" Jim asked, looking leery at the idea of Blair writing anything down. Ever again.

Blair gave him a reassuring grin and explained, "On the way friendship can make two men so much more than the sums of their individual parts."

The End