I was just reading my email. Then I went and looked at Wolfie's page. That picture of Simon. This story just came forth full blown. Lucky puppy got to sit with BAY at the con. He even survived the ordeal. (Just kidding, Nudge. I'm absolutely certain that you were an almost perfect lady.) This is a companion to "What if...." and "I Could Have..." From Simon's point of view.

I've been working on this off and on for the past month. It just seems to keep getting pushed to the back of the heap. It has now made it to number nine on the hit parade for Wolfie's request for ten stories by the time she gets back online. It's Friday, I started Monday. I just might make it. I hope. I'm gonna need that week on the Wagon Train, just to recover. But that's another week away.

Reflections Upon Waiting In The Hospital


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Usually, it was the kid. Absolute trouble magnet. The kid couldn't seem to go anywhere without drawing trouble, like trailer parks and tornadoes. Usually, it was Jim Ellison's job to sit and baby-sit the kid until he woke up. Not this time. This time Jim couldn't sit in this horribly uncomfortable chair. He wished he could. He did not want to have to be the one to tell the kid. But it was his responsibility. Blair was his man, even if he wasn't a real cop. He had more brains, more guts, and more heart than most of the cops he knew. The kid was an integral part of his team. He held one of the kid's hands in one of his. Waiting for him to wake up. Waiting to tell him...

He couldn't believe how close the kid had gotten to Ellison. How much Ellison had changed. He still couldn't figure it out. It didn't make a lot of sense. The two of them were closer than lovers, not that they were, mind you. It was almost like they were conjoined twins. One heart between them. Jim certainly hadn't had one before he met the kid. And it had taken time, but the change was dramatic. The coldest SOB in Cascade had turned into a man who had not only a heart, but a sense of humour, as well. Not to mention a soul. A soul named Sandburg. If he were completely honest, he'd admit that the kid was the heart and soul for the entire squad. Not that he'd ever admit it. At least, not out loud. Maybe,... maybe this time, he should. There wasn't a lot of comfort he could offer. Not now. At least...not yet.

He glanced over at the other bed and its occupant. Holding one of that patient's hands in the hand not holding onto Sandburg. Seeing the pale face, covered with respirators and other machines to keep him alive. The doctors weren't holding out much hope for him. If only the kid would wake up, they would have a chance. Amazing how confident he was in the kid's power to pull his best detective back from any kind of situation involving the mind. Whether it was one of those 'zone out' things, or unconsciousness. The kid had a knack for reaching his friend...their friend.

They kept telling him to go home. That he couldn't help his men. That there wasn't anything he could do. That he was only making himself sick by staying there. He didn't listen to them. He'd seen how these two refused to leave the other. Well, this time, it was his turn. He couldn't help but wonder.

What would have happened if Jim hadn't accepted help from the kid? What would have happened if the kid hadn't been willing to help him? Would Jim have eaten his pistol? If he were honest, he'd have to say, yes. He thought he was going crazy. No one offered him any help. Hell, he hadn't believed him, either. He'd be playing at catch up for the rest of his life to try and make up for it.

What would have happened if Sandburg had quit at any of the points when he got hurt, or scared, or kidnapped, or... Only, he hadn't.

Sure, the kid was a pain, sometimes. Hell, he was less a pain than Ellison had been. It was amazing the change. In both of them. Sure, Jim had become human. But the changes in the kid were no less amazing. He'd gone from a nomadic, unable to take responsibility, hippie, punk to a dedicated, concerned, responsible young man. The kid had changed so much that he was glad the kid was around. Sandburg had done so much to help him with his son. Daryl looked up to Sandburg...Blair. He was an excellent role model. In spite of the long hair and earrings.

It was a lot more than research for the kid. He'd said it was about friendship, once. Jim had taught the kid well. The responsibility of friendship. All the things that went with that responsibility. The caring, the listening, the 'just being there'. The love.

Jim had learned a lot, as well. To trust. Not something he ever had, ever would, or even ever could do easily. To see them together, without them interacting, you wondered how two such dissimilar men could possibly have anything in common. Well, they both enjoyed the outdoors, camping, fishing. But the biggest thing they had in common, was their concern for others. Blair said that Jim was 'genetically predisposed to protect the tribe'. Pretty lofty sounding. Kind of pompous, too. Except that it was nothing less than the absolute truth. Unbelievable. But to watch Ellison when the stress was getting to him, those jaws of his threatening to splinter teeth, the tendons bulging, then to have the kid touch his arm and say something so softly that no one else could ever possibly hear it, and see the pair of blue lasers he used for eyes soften and that jaw relax, sometimes even a smile...unbelievable.

Blair's hand in his twitched, bringing his attention back to the young man. He didn't understand this 'Sentinel/Guide' thing. He probably never would. But he wouldn't trade these two for anything in this world. Not as men under his command, not as friends.

"Sandburg? Blair? I could really use you awake right now. Jim could use you awake right now." His thumb rubbing the back of the limp hand. "Please, Blair. Just open your eyes and talk to me, OK? Please?" The hand he held tightened again. The young man in the bed took a deep breath and slowly opened his eyes. His brows moved down in puzzled worry, then the pain registered, and he squeezed his eyes tightly closed once more, groaning.

"Where's Jim? What happened, Simon?"

No surprise at the order of concern. "He's in the next bed. On life support. He needs you, Blair. I think he may have zoned. The doctors want to pull the plug, but I know that he's still in there, I just can't reach him, but you can."

"You didn't answer the other question, what happened?"

"You had a railroad bridge blow up under you. But you managed to get the train stopped in time to save the passengers. You're heroes, as usual." He took the lax hand of their friend, and placed it in Blair's. Here. You talk to him. I bet the doctor that you'd have him responding within five minutes. Don't let us down, OK?" The emotion thick in his voice.

Blair turned his head to look at his partner. Saw the machinery, heard all the noise. "Well, first thing, turn the sound off on all the monitors." Simon jumped (slowly, he had been sitting for most of the preceding four days in that awful chair) up to do as instructed.

"Jim?" Squeezing the hand. "Jim? Buddy? It's time to come back, now. I need you here. We have a bet to win. Jim? C'mon, Jim. Please?" He felt the hand twitch. "That's it, man. It's me, Blair. Now, you're on life support, but we'll get you off it as soon as you open your eyes. Don't fight the respirator, OK? Just take it easy. Simon's getting the doctor now."

Simon smiled and headed for the door, thrilled to win his bets. Most of the doctors had bet against him, telling him that Jim's EEG readings indicated minimal brain activity, even though they could find no reason for it. But some of the nurses, and a couple of the ER doctors had sided with him when the odds were set forth. He had gotten a copy of the readout for Blair, 'The EEG of a Zoned Out Sentinel' He could imagine the kid's excitement, documentation for his thesis. It was going to be interesting to see the doctor's reaction to a conscious patient. And rather nice to pick up his winnings. He smiled, deciding that this time, at least, to share the wealth and take Jim and Blair out to dinner at a nice restaurant when they were back up to par. He'd wagered far more than he would normally bet on anything. But he'd learned to believe in Blair's ability to reach his partner. Suddenly realizing what he had just thought, he paused for a moment, considering; then, with a shrug of acceptance and his smile wider yet, he tapped the doctor with whom he had made the largest bet, and said: "Pay up. They're awake."

The End

That seems like a good place to stop. Nine down, one to go. I'm going to make it! Now, where did I lose that list of challenges? Oh, dear.

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