The standard disclaimers apply. I don't own them. I make no money from this. My only recompense has been and will be all the nice things people email to me (hint, hint). I wrote this on Thursday, Friday was a day off, and I left the disk at work. Sorry, Wolfpup. Here it is now. :) I guess I was in a rather contemplative mood. I'm not sure where this one came from. No plot. Just musings. Kind of a 'how did I get here from there?' piece. I mean, what does one think about while sitting beside the bed of an injured friend. I've never seen a book (my own personal choice for waiting rooms) or a magazine. He has to do something to while away the hours. Hmmmmm. R.I. Eaton

What If.


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What if the helicopter hadn't crashed? What if my men hadn't all died?

What if I hadn't been rescued by Incacha? What if I had never been found?

What if I had stayed in the Army?

What if my senses hadn't gone crazy?

What if I had never met you?

It was no use. Thinking about 'what ifs'. The what ifs hadn't happened. The 'what did's' happened, instead. There was no going back. No changing the past. In spite of the bad things, there were more good things. He wouldn't trade anything for what he had now. Well, mostly. He hated the interminable waits in hospitals, waiting for some doctor to tell him that his partner was going to survive; would be all right. Eventually. Waiting for said partner to regain consciousness, demonstrating that he would be all right. But each hospital stay changed things; changed them, their relationship. How they reacted to the stress. Sometimes, he wondered why Blair stayed. It simply was not healthy to be partnered with him.

Why did he stick around?

It certainly couldn't just be the thesis. There had to be a lot of easier ways to earn those three little letters at the end of his name than risking his life tagging along after a cop.

"It's about friendship."

It had to be more than that. There had to be another reason. Blair had been raised in a manner that taught that when the going got tough, you left. Yet every time he stayed, ...every...single...time. In spite of his injuries. In spite of his fear. In spite of the residual nightmares.


"It's about friendship."

It couldn't be that simple, could it? Friendship. Could it be enough to endure the fear, the pain, the nightmares? Could it be that simple? Could it be that complex? "Jim?" whisper soft voice, dry, harsh.

He looked up. "Hey, Chief. Welcome back." Reaching out a hand to touch the fevered brow, brush the tangled hair back; brush knuckles gently down the fevered cheek.

"What happened?" Lost, confused.

"You jumped some armed robbers, Chief. At the video store." What do you remember? Silence. Eyes closed tight, trying to dredge up the memories. Oh. Eyes opening, surprised. "I remember. We were picking out some movies to watch, when two guys came in to rob the place. Did we get them?"

'We.' When had it become 'we'? When did it stop being 'Stay in the car, Sandburg.' 'You are not going with me, Sandburg.' 'Just forget about it, Sandburg.' 'Wait here, Sandburg.'? When had it become 'Stay with me, Chief.' 'Keep close, Chief.' 'Watch my back, Chief.' 'Call for backup, Chief?' How had this neo-hippie, witch-doctor, punk, become friend. Brother. Partner. Son. Family? He moved away from the man in the hospital bed, turning toward the table beside the bed. Pouring a glass of ice water. Turning back to see concerned, worried blue eyes following his every move.

When had that absolute trust happened? That...almost...hero worship? What had he done to deserve it? 'Blessed Protector'

'You always save me.' 'Whenever I get stuck, trapped, hurt, scared, kidnapped, beat up, shot, hung up in a tree, you rescue me.' 'It's something you're genetically programmed for.' 'It's what you do.' But it wasn't. There were very few people he would willingly lay his life down for. Sure, on the job. That was the job.

He turned back to his injured partner, inserting a straw into the cup, bending it down for Blair to drink. Holding the glass as he drank his fill. Turning back to replace the glass on the table.

"Yeah, Chief. We got 'em."

We. It gave him an inexplicably warm feeling inside. We. Us.

How had he allowed someone so different from his own beliefs, standards, expectations, to get so close? When had he changed so much as to allow someone as different from himself to crawl in past his defenses and take up residence? Did it really matter? Did how they got to where they were now make any real difference to the fact that they were there? He sat back down in the chair beside the bed. Reaching out to take the hand of his now conscious partner. Making contact. Reassuring. Comforting.

None of it mattered. Not the what ifs, not the whys. The only thing that mattered was that they were both where they wanted to be. Well, not the hospital. They could both do without everyone in the ER knowing them by their first names and on sight. But the relationship. Where they stood with each other. That was what mattered. That was what was important.

"It's OK, Chief. I'm not going anywhere. You're safe."

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