Warning: The aftermath of a violent crime scene
Blood was splashed everywhere, red and thick and smelling of brutality. The linoleum was slick with it, and Jim had to tread carefully so as not to lose his footing.
Under the coppery tang of blood he could smell the scent of thousands of individual cells as they died, small and sharp as pinpricks. That was almost worse than the smell of the blood. It told him that they’d gotten there only minutes too late.
Brought down by one shot from Jim’s gun, Cascade’s latest serial killer lay crumpled on the floor in a puddle of his victims’ blood, the knife he’d used to murder them still clutched in his hand.
“It’s all right, Jim. Just use the dials, bring it down enough to deal with it.” Blair spoke softly behind him, and Jim felt his partner’s hand come up and gently touch his back.
Jim nodded, and stepped forward.
They worked together quickly and efficiently, gathering evidence, and Jim fought the urge to gag several times. He’d been at a lot of crime scenes in his career, but he’d never seen anything like this.
So much blood.
Blair stayed close, closer than usual, ready to reach out and lay a hand on Jim’s arm if necessary, his usual queasiness around the sights and smells of death apparently absent. Jim wondered when, exactly, his partner had become inured to such things and felt a wash of guilt at being the cause of it. He couldn’t help but be glad of his presence, though, since it was just as easy to zone out on something vile as something beautiful, and Blair’s proximity kept him grounded.
By the time Simon and the rest of the team got there, they’d finished their work and Jim was more than ready to get away from the crime scene. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Simon shooting him concerned looks, but he didn’t care. He needed to get himself and Blair outside, into the light, and into air not fouled by the smell of violence.
As soon as they got outside into the blessedly clear air, Blair sagged against the side of the building and vomited. Jim held the hair out of his face and rubbed his back until he was done, and then drew him close. They embraced without speaking for a long moment.
When Blair finally stepped back and looked up at him, his eyes were bleak. “How do you stand it? God, Jim, the smell. I can barely stand it, how can you?” He took a long shuddering breath, and his voice cracked on his next words. “All I saw was red. Everywhere.”
“You handled it like a pro.” He put his hand on Blair’s arm and squeezed gently.
Blair took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. “Yeah, well, you needed me to.”
And that, Jim realized with a start, was at the center of everything Blair did. Always. That kind of devotion was rare, even in the best of friendships. The knowledge warmed him and did much to dispel the lingering horror of the morning.
He reached out and cuffed Blair gently on the side of the head.
“C’mon, Chief, let’s go home.”
“But Simon –“
“Simon’ll call the loft if he needs us. Let’s just go home.”
Blair nodded, and followed Jim back to the truck.
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