to Rhiannon-Jehane for listening to me rant. Honey, you're not going to
recognize a thing about this story. *winks*
A thousand thanks to Gothphyle, who makes every single word I write that much better.
And a last-minute squooshy hug to Kimberlyfdr, who pulled me from the frightening depths of sappitude.
Category: Slash, I guess, but certainly of the non-explicit variety.
Dry, stale air chafed Jim’s nostrils. The needle invaded his skin, cleaving his arm in two; the incessant, repetitive beep made his skull vibrate with each tone.
If he could just open his eyes, take a look around, maybe he’d be able to figure out what had happened this time. Which case went bad – what went down – had he been shot again?
A surge of relief, though: at least it was him this time, not Blair. Blair, who’d already suffered too much for him. Blair, who’d helped him figure out how to control these senses. Blair, who’d offered him friendship, support, and maybe much more; Blair, who’d laid down on an altar and sacrificed everything dear to him. For Jim.
As soon as he could, as soon as Sandburg got there (because he’d be coming, any minute now), as soon as Sandburg helped him piece together what the hell had happened – Jim was going to tell him. No more excuses, no more fear, just the truth. Jim was going to take his Guide’s face in his hands, look right into his eyes, and tell him how he felt. Three simple words.
Blair’s low, familiar voice carried into his room; Jim felt his own heartbeat quicken in anticipation. From the number of footsteps with him, it seemed that Sandburg had come amidst a crowd. Probably the guys from Major Crime, eager to razz him about his latest misadventure. No matter – it was good to have friends, good to have people who cared enough about him to visit while he was out of commission. He could admit that now. He was happy to admit that now. Besides, after a while they’d leave, and Jim could tell Sandburg – Blair – everything.
Jim struggled with his facial muscles, trying to grin, as he heard the familiar tones of Sandburg, clearly in full-on lecture mode.
“Room 211. Now, this is an interesting case.”
If only his eyes would open, Jim was certain he’d see an answering sparkle in Blair’s own eyes. I must be doing better,he thought, if Sandburg’s joking around like this.
Blair continued his dry recitation. “Subject has been in our facility for seven years. Symptoms presented in the spring of 1996, according to interviews with co-workers; at the time, Mr. Ellison was a 37-year-old police detective. As part of his caseload, he was on an extended stakeout. During the course of such, he voiced complaints about 'losing control of his senses' to his immediate superior, Captain Simon Banks."
Jim felt his chest tightening as Blair droned on. "On the morning of April 5, 1996, Banks contacted emergency services from Mr. Ellison’s apartment, where he had gone to check on the subject, who had neither shown up for work that morning nor responded to repeated phone calls.”
Jim wanted to furrow his brow in confusion. He remembered that night, that horrible dinner with Caro, how he’d gone home and taken a good, long look at himself in the mirror. He remembered crossing over to the sofa, slumping into it and making the decision to go see the damn doctor the next morning.
That’s when it all started – he’d met Blair, Blair had told him what was going on with his crazy, whacked out senses, Blair had helped him learn to use them. They’d become an asset, albeit a pain in the ass sometimes.
But now Blair was standing there, calmly giving a bunch of strangers – who were these people, anyhow? – a cold, clinical laundry list of one insignificant night six years ago. Like they weren’t friends, best friends. Like they weren’t roommates. Like they both didn’t know they were on the verge of something more.
Like none of it had ever happened.
One of the voices spoke up. “What’s the official diagnosis?”
Blair’s voice again, sad, a little wistful. “Officially, his charts read ‘akinetic mutism.’ Honestly, though, we don’t know what’s wrong with him. It’s almost like he checked out – neurologically, there’s nothing wrong with him, but he’s almost completely unresponsive to outside stimuli.”
Completely unresponsive? What the hell? Jim was stuck on that phrase, only marginally aware of the conversation swirling around him, phrases like intrinsic catatonic stupor and locked-in and a brief detailing of ear irrigation and head rotation and pupil dilation tests.
“As you’re aware, patients who remain in a vegetative state for longer than one month have only a three percent likelihood of recovery and survival. Mr. Ellison, having been in this state for more than seven years now, will, in all likelihood, remain here for the rest of his life.”
“Dr. Sandburg. I’ve read articles that indicate that some patients with akinetic mutism occasionally respond. Has that been the case with this patient?”
Oh, God, his scent. Closer, just a little closer, please, Blair.
That beautiful, deep chuckle filled Jim's hearing. “It’s funny you mention that. There are times when I’m doing rounds that I’ll stop in and visit with Mr. Ellison – Jim – for a while, and very infrequently, his vitals will speed up.”
One step, then another – and, God, thank you, Blair rested his solid, square hand on Jim’s forehead. “But that is, in all likelihood, a completely random spike. Doesn’t mean he’s listening to me.”
Soft chuckles from the other occupants of the room, and the squeak of shoes turning on the harsh linoleum.
“Moving on to room 212, we find a young woman who’s been with us for fourteen years now.” Jim tried to keep Blair’s voice in his ears, and panicked as it began to dim as he walked out of the room, away from Jim, away.
No – no – it can’t be – no ….
Outside the hospital, far off in the mountains, a low, mournful howl was heard. A large cat shrieked, a noise redolent with rage and frustration.
Inside the hospital, Jim Ellison slept once more.
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