Disclaimer: No, they don't belong to me. They belong to Pet Fly, UP and Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended and absolutely no money has changed hands.
Acknowledgements: My huge, heartfelt thanks to Aly for the fabulous artwork and to Starwatcher for her expert beta. You both are amazing! Thank as well to wolfpup for housing my stories.
Authors Note: While this story only 'lightly' touched upon the subject of organ donation, it is an important issue and also a very personal one The American Heart Association has more details on the subject.
Feedback: Feedback is always appreciated - email@example.com
Staring at the scene in front of him, Jim Ellison breathed slowly, deeply. He couldn't quite grasp how a by-the-book drug bust had managed to turn into a scene straight out of an Abbott and Costello movie. If it weren't for the fact that his partner was sitting in the back of an ambulance, doped up to the gills on hallucinogens and sporting a goose-egg right in the centre of his forehead, it would almost have been laughable. "What a shemozzle," he said, shaking his head.
"What?" Simon Banks briefly pulled his attention away from the chaos around them. "A what?"
"A shemozzle," Jim repeated. "A commotion, a kerfuffle."
"I know what 'shemozzle' means," Simon bit back. "It's just not an expression I ever expected to hear out of your mouth." He gave Ellison a quick head to toe visual. "Neither is kerfuffle, come to think of it. You sure you haven't breathed in any of that stuff Sandburg's doped up on?"
At the mention of Blair's name, Jim glanced toward his partner. "Hold that thought," he said, his attention now fully tuned in on Sandburg, who appeared to be doing an exemplary job of starting up his own personal shemozzle less than ten feet away.
Sitting in the back of the ambulance, shaking his head wildly from side to side, Blair was fervently resisting an examination by one of the paramedics who was attempting to shine a pen-light into his eyes. "Oh no, you don't," he said. "I came into the world with these baby blues and I intend on not only leaving with them, but taking them six feet under with me when I go." Shifting on the stretcher, Blair started to maneuver his body sideways until his legs swung over the side. "I've read the books and know exactly what you're up to. One minute I'm on my way to the hospital and the next I'm in some basement butcher shop, split from sternum to pelvis with my goods and chattels being sold off to the highest bidder." Purposely tilting his body weight forward, Blair pushed off from the stretcher and, the moment his feet hit the floor, he took flight. In three strides he was at the back of the ambulance. His escape attempt would have been a complete success if he hadn't leapt straight into Jim's unsuspecting arms.
Grunting as the force of Blair's full weight pushed the air from his lungs, Ellison shot the EMTs a dirty look. "You know, you guys really need to be a lot quicker with the restraints than that." Righting himself and steadying Sandburg in the process, he cupped Blair's cheek with his hand, studying the wild, distended eyes. "Chief," he said calmly. "You okay?"
"Jim!" Blair squeaked, his fingers latching onto Ellison's jacket. "Man, am I so glad to see you."
Not even bothering to rescue the front of his jacket from the desperate strangle-hold, Jim shifted his hands to Blair's shoulders. "You wanna tell me what's going on, Junior?"
"Body snatchers, Jim. Body snatchers is what's going on."
Jim narrowed his gaze. "Body snatchers?"
"Yeah," Blair confirmed. "Broad daylight body snatchers no less." Letting go of Jim's jacket with one hand, he swiveled around and pointed his finger. "That one, the one with the mono-brow, he's got his eyes on mine, and the other one," he said, lowering his voice, "the one that looks like Hannibal Lecter, has a hankering for my kidneys."
"A hankering for your kidneys?" Jim repeated.
"Yeah," Blair confirmed again. "Big bucks on the black market, don't cha know."
"Oh," Jim said, rolling his eyes. "And here was I worried he was going to serve them up with a bottle of Chianti."
Blair's eyes went impossibly wide, and his grip on Jim's jacket became even tighter. "I didn't even think of that!" His hand shot toward his chest, and covered his heart. "My heart, Jim."
The look on Ellison's face switched from cynical to concerned in less time than it took his own heart to beat. "Your heart, what?" he asked. "What's wrong with your heart?"
Shifting closer, Blair's eyes darted from side to side, making sure no one was listening. "It's not my kidneys they want, man," he revealed. "It's my heart. They want to eat my heart."
The tension drained from Jim's shoulders and his expression settled back to one of sarcasm. "And why would they want to do that, Chief?"
"My powers, Jim," Blair replied in a tone of voice that clearly stated the obvious. "They want my superpowers."
"Right," Jim drawled, patting Blair lightly on the shoulder. "Chief, how 'bout we let the good gentlemen over here give you a quick once-over? If you're a good boy they might let you trade your superman cape for a new one." He flashed the paramedics a quick, sardonic smile. "I'm sure they could find you a nice white one with a couple of bright, shinny buckles on the back."
In the blink of an eye, Blair's whole demeanor changed. His shoulders slumped and his face took on an expression so crestfallen that Jim felt as if he'd not only just kicked a puppy, but had booted it all the way over the fence. "Chief," he began, only to be cut off by a voice that sounded impossibly small and irrevocably defenseless. "I thought you liked my heart?"
The deal was clinched and the contract signed and sealed; Jim had now officially become putty in Sandburg's hand. "I do like your heart, Chief," he said, unable to stop himself from wrapping both arms around Blair. "In fact I like it more than any other heart I know."
Blair's breath was warm against Jim's neck. "You do?"
"So you won't let them eat me?"
Jim instinctively tightened his hold. "Not so much as a nibble."
With the paramedics now slowly advancing, Jim drew his attention away from Blair. "Change of plans, guys," he said. "Sandburg and I will follow you to the hospital in the truck."
The older and more experienced of the pair was the first to voice his objection. "Detective, I really don't think that's such a good idea. He's hallucinating and really needs to be monitored."
Studying the man for a brief moment, Jim decided that Blair did have a point. The guy did bear a striking resemblance to Hannibal Lecter. "Well you're in luck, then, because I just happen to an expert in the field of monitoring rambling Sandburgs."
Jim held up his hand, effectively silencing Blair's 'Hannibal'. "The decision's not negotiable, so you may as well save your breath."
"Jim, what's going on?"
"Just about to drive Blair to the hospital, sir."
"And the paramedics are not doing this because, why?"
"Because they apparently have a hankering for human body parts, Simon."
"You know Jim," Simon sighed. "Any normal captain with a normal detective would be focusing his concerns on the second half of your statement. Instead, I'm asking myself why I'm standing here unnervingly disturbed by the fact that you've just used the word hankering."
"Beats me, Captain," Jim shrugged. "Maybe Hannibal has the answer." Pushing Blair away from his chest, Jim looped his arm around Blair's shoulder and led him toward the truck.
"Jim, you sure this is such a good idea?" Simon asked, following closely behind. "He doesn't look so good."
Letting out a sigh, which was unmistakably laced with feigned patience, Jim yanked open the truck door. "Simon, without stating the obvious, I think I might know Blair just a little better than you do. He'll be fine."
'Fine' was, to Blair's stomach, like a red rag to a bull. The moment the word left Jim's mouth, Blair unceremoniously bent over and vomited on Ellison's feet.
A derisive, smug smile appeared on Simon's face as he jumped back to avoid the splatter. "Without stating the obvious, Ellison, I think he's just vomited." Leaning over he slapped Jim, hard on the back. "Hey, aren't those your new shoes?"
Stretched out over several emergency room chairs, Blair readjusted the icepack on his head. "How much longer?" he whined. "I'm sick of waiting."
"You're sick of waiting," Jim replied, wiggling his bare toes against the cold, tiled floor. "If it wasn't for you and your fixation with body snatchers, we'd have come in by ambulance and would have been in and out of here hours ago."
Slowly pulling himself into a sitting position, Blair ignored Jim's comment and slumped back against the chair. "Can't you do something? Flash your badge, wave your gun. You're a cop, Jim. Surely that has to count for something."
"I could shoot you," Jim replied helpfully. "A gunshot wound is sure to expedite proceedings."
"Ha, ha, very funny, man," Blair grumbled. As the drug had slowly worked its way out of his system, bits and pieces of the day's events were slowly beginning to piece together. Unfortunately, vomiting all over Jim's new shoes was at the top of the list. Given the current look on the detective's face, he decided to err on the side of caution in order to minimise Jim's stated inclination to use his service weapon. Looking around for something else to occupy his mind and train his focus away from his dull headache, he picked up a clipboard which was balancing on Jim's knee. "What's this?" he asked.
"Your paperwork," Ellison replied.
"Oh, man. You're kidding me. If this is still out here it means we'll be out here, indefinitely."
"Them's the hazards of body snatches versus ambulances, Sandburg," Jim replied, slapping Blair on the leg.
Choosing to once again ignore Jim and his returning memory, which was unmercifully beginning to draw a vivid picture of the saga of Hannibal Lecter and the Body Snatchers, Blair idly flipped through the paperwork. "Why did you check no to number five?" he asked. "You know my stance on organ donation, Jim."
Jim raised his eyebrows. "More intimately than most," he said, wiggling his toes once again against the cold floor.
Handing back the clipboard, Blair pulled himself from his slumped position and sat up straight. "Jim, did you know that in the US at this very moment there are over a hundred thousand men, woman and children in need of organ donations, and that every twelve minutes another name is added to the list? And did you also know that an average of eighteen people per day die while waiting on this list, which in turn means," Blair continued, mentally doing the math, "that over six thousand people a year never make it to the operating table. Six thousand lives, Jim. Lives which could be saved if people simply considered donating their organs." Turning sideways in the chair so his body was now facing Jim, Blair continued. "It's a crazy world we live in, man. I mean we're all doing our bit for the environment with recycling and cutting down on our waste and all, and every day we're bombarded with more information than we can handle on how to limit the impact of our carbon footprint, but when it comes to organ donation, which in my opinion should be considered the ultimate in recycling, only thirty percent of Americans know the steps to take to become a donor." Seeing that Jim had now closed his eyes and was leaning his head back against the wall, Blair slapped him on the arm. "Hey, what's your view on this?" he asked. "Even you must have an opinion!"
"I do," Ellison replied without bothering to open his eyes. "My opinion is that I liked you so much better when you were a drug addict."
The talking, the rambling, the lecture, and the mind-numbing statistics continued throughout the wait in emergency, throughout the transfer to the examination room, throughout the physical exam and, to Jim's mental anguish, throughout the walk down the hall and out into the parking lot. Then finally, as Blair stopped to draw breath, Jim had a revelation. A pivotal question sprang forth from the heavens above, which had him more hopeful than a groom on his wedding night and more excited than a virgin sailor on his first shore leave. "What about my organs, Dr Barnard? What do you think would happen if my eyes, for example, were to be transplanted into another person? Would the recipient gain my sentinel sight?"
Blair's mouth closed, then opened, then closed again, without one single syllable being emitted.
Silence, golden, blissful and completely uninformative triumphed throughout the drive home, throughout the trudge up the stairs, throughout a simple dinner of sandwiches and soup. But finally, as they sat on the sofa and Blair stared blankly at the television screen, Jim began to rethink his take on revelations. What if his question had unexpected repercussions? What if it had catapulted Blair's brain activity from high-level to warp speed with such velocity that it had taken out a few of Sandburg's vital synapse linkages in the process? Resisting the urge to poke Blair to see if he was actually broken, Jim put his down his beer and waved his hand in front of Blair's face. "Chief, you okay?"
The silence remained unbroken.
"Blair?" he said, this time giving him a shake. "You okay?"
"I don't know the answer," Blair's voice was quiet and his eyes met Jim's for the briefest of moments. "I don't even know where to begin."
Jim let out a small, but relieved sigh. "Maybe you're not meant to know the answer to every single question, Einstein. Maybe sentinel senses fall under the category of 'never to be solved mysteries of the universe'."
"But it could be important," Blair answered, in a voice that Jim knew all too well. Blair's train of thought was now leading toward failure.
"Hey." Reaching over, Jim settled his hand on Blair's knee. "Tell you what. How about I make a deal with you that by the time my number comes 'round, my organs will be so old and shriveled up that they'll be well past their use-by date?"
Blair knew full well that Jim's promise was one he couldn't guarantee to keep. But, right here, right now, the sentinel's words were exactly what he wanted to hear. The words he needed to hear. "You promise?"
"Scout's honour, Chief."
"Sorry about your shoes, man."
"It's okay. They're not important."
"So, you still like my heart?"
Jim smiled. "More than any other heart, I know, Chief."
Shifting his hand from Blair's knee, Jim grabbed his beer from the coffee table, and sank back into the cushions. "The mouth, on the other hand... now that's an entirely different story."
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