|Notes: Dialogue (centered and italicized) from the
episode, "Out Of The Past", are courtesy of Becky's
'It hurts.' The thought dominated his mind, distracting him. He even forgot to flinch at the last peal of thunder but it did remind him that there were other, more important things he should be doing than dwelling on the fire radiating and throbbing its way up and down his arm.
Jim stalked around the spacious living room, avoiding the columns and pacing from window to window. Between flashes of lightning he could see out onto the rain-soaked lawn without even trying. His vision cut between the blinds and outside without him really needing to be close to the glass. Then the sudden light spiked pain through his skull, emphasizing his headache and redirecting the pain down his arm. He stifled a groan and stomped forward to take his frustrations out with a forceful and unnecessary tug on the blinds.
It hurt. It hurt a hell of a lot more than falling through a plate glass door. More than getting shot for the first time on a mission in the army. Almost more than the fateful chopper crash that changed his and so many other people's worlds. He glared down at the hidden bandage covering the torn skin. And that's what annoyed him so much about this wound. It WAS just torn skin. He'd lost more blood in a barroom brawl back in college, had a far more threatening knife wound fighting rebels in the mission before going to Peru.
He turned and went to lean on one of the pillars. The slight impact from his body radiated to vibrate down that arm. These damn senses… Jim gritted his teeth and scowled at the ceiling. He closed his eyes for a moment and tried to block the pain out the way he used to, the way he was trained to, but the sensations only intensified.
At the center was the white, hot heat of the torn area. It felt like someone had stuck a burning poker permanently to his bicep and the pain spiraled outward to jagged red streaks extending up and down his arm. Several streaks went all the way down to his hand - he could feel the pulsing pain as he formed a fist. The hot poker on his arm shifted slightly, the muscles moved and his hand spasmed open. The pain streaked in the other direction in retribution, sending tendrils into his chest to end like it was exploding on his breastbone.
SHIT. He opened his eyes, staring harshly at nothing while he panted through the wave. The pain receded, the white hot poker fading to a dull red and the streaks withdrawing. Finally able to breathe calmly again, he stuffed all his reactions back in and tried to redirect everything outward, looking for the bad guy.
Noises kicked in again around him. The thunder and wind, the rain drumming against everything. A few more passes to the windows around the room and an exceeding loud crack of thunder later he heard stirring from the lower areas of the house. The brief tensing of his body relaxed as the familiar form of his sleepy, tousled partner wandered into view.
The storm seemed to be getting worse now that Blair was awake. He watched the lightning flash behind the blinds and thought of Jim and if he was handling everything ok. He was hesitant to go and see, he wasn't sure if Jim was still upset about the whole 'letting them sneak out' thing. He still couldn't believe he was that stupid. Or careless. He was supposed to be there to protect them, to make sure they were fine for when Jim returned.
Instead Jim returned to a penthouse filled with only Blair. It didn't help matters that the cavalry scared the shit out of him - he was barely able to speak around the heart in his throat. He wasn't sure what he said, just stuttered out something. Something seemed to be good enough for Jim since he wasn't treated to further intense questioning.
What made Blair really angry wasn't just that he allowed himself to fall down on the job, but that he was specifically manipulated. Angie knew that he would be excited at the prospect of hearing some of her music, he didn't keep it a secret that he was a fan. But she used him, used him to get what she wanted. Blair couldn't really blame her, she was protecting her child and herself, he was sure that Naomi would do the same.
At least he hoped so. He sighed as he turned over in the bed so he was facing the closed door; in between the thunder he could hear Jim pacing like a caged animal in the living room. Blair wanted to know what was wrong that had Jim agitated so badly. He was torn - go to him or not. What he really wanted was for Jim to seek out his help, that would go a long way to help his deflated self worth after his earlier stunt, but Jim wasn't like that. The detective tended to try and shoulder everything on his own instead of admitting that he needed assistance. So Blair was left to either watch his Sentinel suffer alone or prepare himself to be rejected.
Jim always rejected his help at first, this time would be no different, but he wasn't sure if he could take it or if he was up for the fight. What right did he have to offer help when the job he'd been given ended so miserably? Maybe he was being too harsh on himself. Unexpected things happen. Angie probably wanted out of that penthouse so badly that if the music diversion didn't work she may have resorted to tying him up, or knocking him out...
Blair smiled in the near darkness. Course he was glad it went down the way of music, he wasn't sure if he'd be able to show his face at the station again after everyone knew he was bested by a woman. A woman with a child no less! That's not to say that she couldn't take care of herself, she could, but so could Blair - he just wished his partner began to realize that. Maybe that was why Jim always rejected him, made him fight to help. A way of proving his self worth?
Could be. Blair closed his eyes and listened carefully, trying to hear his partner in the outer room. There was near silence but Blair knew Jim was still awake; he twisted himself to the right and stood up.
Time to test the theory of rejection versus his ability to ascertain his worth as a partner... to his partner.
Jim: What are you doing up?
Blair: The thunder woke me. I heard you moving around out here and...
Jim: I just wanted to check on the locks and, you know, make sure everything's okay.
Blair: You okay?
Jim: Yeah, I'm fine.
Blair: Come on, Jim. Talk to me.
Jim: Oh, man. It's my arm. It's killing me.
Blair: I thought it was only a flesh wound.
Jim: I've been hurt much worse, believe me. I've never felt pain like this before, though.
Blair: All right. Let's calm down and think for a second. Okay, you're outside, your senses are on full alert and, uh, your body just becomes an open receptor for whatever stimuli comes your way. In this case, it just happened to be a bullet.
Jim: Yeah, I know! I just want it to stop.
Blair: You got to be able to control the intensity, be able to turn it up and down at will.
Jim: I-I-I got to...
Blair: Let's try something. Take a seat. Come on, Jim, take a seat.
Jim sits down. Blair sits across from him.
Blair: Okay. Okay, now, just let's remember our breathing. Close your eyes. Concentrate... And just let all the tension just flow right out of your body. Yeah.
Jim: It still hurts.
Blair: You've got the attention span of a gerbil. Now, close your eyes and relax and let's journey to that part of the brain where your senses converge.
Jim: What is this, Fantastic Voyage?
Blair: Look, Jim, if you don't want to cooperate...
Jim: Okay, all right. All right. I'm converging.
Blair: Okay. Now, picture something that you can control... picture a dial.
Jim: Got it.
Blair: Okay, now, imagine yourself turning it down, sort of like the volume control on a television set. Only you determine how much you feel. That's it.
Jim: Wow. Yeah.
Blair: It worked?
Jim: Yeah. Yeah, it just kind of feels like a scratch now. (stands up)
Blair: Jim, this... this is a major breakthrough.
Jim: Yeah, I feel all relaxed. It's great. Why don't you head back to bed? I'm just going to keep an eye on things out here.
Blair: All right. Good night. (goes back to the bedroom)
Jim sits down and pulls out gun to rest beside him.
Damn. Just damn, that felt so much better. It was amazing the difference. Who'd have figured that such a simple idea from Sandburg would have such a big effect? In just three minutes time he'd gone from seriously contemplating just taking his arm off to resting peacefully on the couch. It tingled now. A gentle throbbing that hovered on the edge of his awareness. Just enough to let him know that the arm wasn't 100 percent but not enough that it controlled his world.
He pictured the dial again. A large black dial with sharp white numbers on it and a red arrow hovering above it. The dial was turned to partway between the 3 and 4 and god, that was fantastic. He gently 'gripped' it and turned it up to 6 and felt the throbbing growing correspondingly stronger. He also noticed the heat from the bruises on his face and back from earlier, more vividly. With a small smile he turned it back down to its previous position.
Jim's eyes flew open briefly and he glanced over his head to see if the light bulb of his idea was actually floating over his head. Seeing that, thankfully, it wasn't he disguised the movement by scanning thoroughly around the room before again closing his eyes. He carefully imagined his dial again and in precise blue letters above it he labeled it "Touch/Pain". Next to it he created four more dials with the corresponding sense neatly above it. He noted with some surprise that most of the arrow markers were already set at a midrange point except for his hearing which seemed a little low. A crash of thunder made him jump slightly, then grin. Apparently his hearing had compensated for the storm.
This was just fantastic!! He'd have to do something nice for the kid- maybe his own set of Tupperware containers… One last touch to the cool familiar metal resting beside him on the cushion and Jim relaxed into the newfound peace of the night.
Wow - it worked! Blair sat on the bed in silent wonder at what just happened. He hadn't been sure how he was going to help Jim when he first went out to the living room, but he'd had to try something. He'd been thinking about controlling the senses for so long that he hadn't realized he had a plan. Dials. Blair shook his head at the simplicity of it. There are dials for everything. Radios, televisions - well those are around somewhere. At first he thought it was too simple, could Jim really use it?
It worked like a charm though, well once he got Jim to pay attention long enough. Blair fell back onto the bed and tried to get comfortable, no longer feeling restless because of his partner. Jim was so predictably stubborn that at times that Blair had to try not to laugh. The gerbil comment was to entertain himself more than reprimand Jim. Actually, Blair was surprised that Jim hadn't swatted at him or made a smartass comment back - that just showed how much Jim was suffering.
Stubborn. If only Jim had come to him before wallowing in discomfort Blair was sure that he would have been able to lessen his discomfort, but Jim hadn't. He decided to wallow instead. What does that say about Jim? About Blair? Did it mean that Jim would rather deal with everything on his own like he was used to? Blair ignored the fact that he and Jim have been partnered together for over a year and that Jim hadn't really been on his own as much as he would like to think. Or did Jim's unwillingness to ask for help stem from Blair's inability to be counted on?
He sighed as he rolled to his right to look toward the door again. Blair really hoped it wasn't that. He tried. He wasn't a cop - which Simon was always so quick to point out - but he was able to hold his own. At least he thought he did. Blair knew he let Jim down by allowing Angie to sneak out but it could've happened to anyone. Right? Sure, maybe a rookie. Blair wasn't sure what he could do to prove his worth to Jim...
Tonight helped though. The look of wonder on Jim's face when the pain faded after following Blair's advice was worth any disapproving looks shot his way earlier in the night. He was able to help Jim. Ease his pain. Blair laughed; he sounded like the voice in the "Field of Dreams" movie.
Ease his pain. But that's actually what Blair did, with just an idea and some spoken guidance. Blair couldn't help the smile that split his face. If there was ever a moment that illustrated that he contributed to Jim as a partner or as someone helping with the detective's senses, tonight was the night. Blair felt both pleased and relieved with himself, he just hoped that everything turned out alright for Angie and Pam... but with a Sentinel standing guard, what could happen?