Author's note: Small allude to Lollibelle's missing scene in this. Nice work, Lolli! :-)

Breaking Ground


by Wendy Myers

Jim had gotten halfway to the entrance of the dig site when his Sentinel-enhanced hearing caught the sounds of cracking timber. By the time he reached the opening, it was too late --- dust and dirt billowed through the doorway as the cave collapsed.

"Sandburg!!" he yelled as the dust settled. He started digging frantically through the rubble. "Sandburg!!" ‘No, God, please. . .’

"Jiimm. . . ." came a strained whisper to the Sentinel's ears.

Jim dug faster. AI'm comin', buddy," he said as he tore at the rubble and debris. He focused on the anthropologist's heartbeat. It was faint and slowing. "Hang on, Blair!" he yelled into the debris. "You hear me?! Hang on!"

Jim never heard the sirens of the police cars arriving on the scene. He wasn't even aware of Simon trying to pull him away.

"Jim!" barked the captain. "C'mon, man, let it go." He struggled to pull the detective away.

The Sentinel struggled. "Sandburg's in there!!" He strained again to hear the familiar heartbeat of his Guide. Nothing. "Sandburg!" He sank to his knees as grief took hold. "Blair. . . no. . ." He barely felt the hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, Jim," Simon said softly.

Jim raised his head to the heavens and let loose a primal cry of grief. "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!"



Jim sat up in his bed, sweat pouring off his face, his breathing labored, his heart pounding. He instantly opened his hearing, searching for the precious heartbeat of his Guide. He was rewarded with not only the familiar pounding pulse, but the scritching sound of a pen gliding gliding rapidly across paper. >Blair must be up writing notes,' he thought, breathing a sigh of relief. It was a dream; it had all been a bad dream. He did get to Blair in time. Blair was alive, downstairs, writing, safe.

But it had been close. Too damn close. Jim had nearly panicked when he=d arrived at the house to find Cassie at the computer, alone. There had been no one in the car, so he thought the forensics chief had taken Blair into the house with her, against his orders to stay put. When he and Cassie finally left, and Jim found the steel boot tip, his Protector mode kicked in full force. The killer had kidnapped the young police observer and taken him to the construction site to interpret the Masonic symbols.

Jim had followed them into the cavern and had gotten everyone, except the gunman, out before it completely collapsed.

A muffled cry of pain and the sound of a pen landing on a book shook the detective from his thoughts. Jim jumped out of bed and rushed downstairs to find out what was wrong. When he reached the living room, he found Blair sitting there, cradling his right arm.

"You OK?" Jim asked, concerned.

Blair nodded. "Yeah, writer's cramp," he said through clenched teeth.

Jim sat down next to his partner. "Lemme see."

Blair hesitated. "It's all right, Jim. It should go away after a while."

Jim looked directly at the young man and waved his hand. "Lemme see it, Sandburg," he ordered.

The anthropologist sighed, letting the older man take the aching arm in his hands and examine it.

Jim ran his Sentinel-sensitive fingers along Blair's forearm, checking for any injury. He had noticed minor differences in the way his partner would do things and had noticed Blair wasn't using his right hand as much. Every time he had broached the topic with his young friend, Blair had waved off his concern with a quick ‘I'm fine’ and continued about his business.

However, as Jim inspected his partner's wrist, however, he found things weren't fine at all.

Blair hissed in pain. "Ow! Jim!"

Jim ignored him as he continued his inspection. He clenched his jaw as his suspicions were confirmed. He felt a broken bone in the young man's wrist. "Why didn't you tell me your wrist was broken in that fall?" he asked.

Blair looked at him incredulously, then hissed as another wave of pain passed. "Broken? I didn't know it was broken. Are you sure?"

Jim got up and headed towards the bathroom for the medical supplies. "One way to be positive, Chief."

"Aw, man," Blair groaned.

Jim returned with the bandages and began to wrap Blair's wrist. "This is just ‘til we get to the hospital."

Blair opened his mouth to protest, then shut it. There was no arguing with the older man. If Jim said the wrist was broken, then it probably was.


Two hours and a hospital visit later, Jim and Blair returned home.

Blair crossed the threshold, fussing with his wrist cast. "I still can't believe it. A broken wrist."

Jim smiled as he followed his friend into the loft, dropping his keys in the basket. "Quit fiddling with your cast, Chief. Doc said you have to wear that for two weeks."

"But I didn't fall that far," Blair protested.

Jim clapped his friend on the back. "Yeah, but you landed hard." Then he stopped and turned Blair around to face him, placing both hands on his shoulders. "You disappointed me, Chief," he said softly.

Blair looked up, startled. "What? How?"

The Sentinel released the young man, walked over to the living room and sat down wearily on the couch. "You should've told me you were hurt," he said. He looked at Blair. "I'm your Blessed Protector', aren't I? I mean, that's what you called me, right?"

Blair stood there for a moment, shocked. ‘Disappointed?’ He had disappointed the only person whose opinion he valued the most. He shook himself from his initial shock and sat down on the coffee table facing Jim. "I'm sorry, Jim," he said softly. "I honestly didn't know it was broken. I thought it was bruised like the rest of me."

Jim just nodded.

Noticing the older man's silence, Blair changed the subject. "So what else is bothering you? And don't tell me ‘nothing’," he added, knowing Jim would try to get out of it.

Jim fidgeted in his seat, unsure of how to answer. "It was just a bad dream. That's all." He looked at Blair, saw the determined and concerned look on his friend's face and sighed. "I dreamed I was too late and you were buried alive at the construction sit. I heard. . ." He looked at his lap. "I heard your heart stop beating," he said softly.

Blair sat back, stunned. So *that's* what was bugging Jim. He moved to sit next to the older man and placed a hand on Jim's shoulder. "I'm sorry, man. I didn't know," he said softly. "But Jim, I'm alive. It was just a dream." He squeezed the detective's shoulder. "Look at me." When Jim complied, Blair continued, "I'm alive. My heart is beating, I'm breathing, I'm alive." Blair wasn't prepared for Jim's reaction as the detective pulled him into a fierce embrace. "Umph!"

Jim rested his cheek on the top of Blair's head, letting his sense of touch feel the beating of the young man's heart against his chest. "I know it was a dream," he said. "But it seemed so real and it scared me, y'know? It could have easily been reality. If I hadn't been there in time. . ."

Blair pushed back from the embrace and looked at his friend. "But you were in time. I'm here. I'm alive."

Jim wrapped his long fingers around the cast and gently lifted it up to eye level. "With a broken wrist." he said matter-of-factly.

Blair gave an acknowledging nod. "Yeah, a broken wrist. I swear, Jim, I had no idea it was broken." >Don't be disappointed in me, please.'

Jim released Blair's wrist and sat back on the couch. "I believe you." He pointed a finger in his partner's face and said in a no-nonsense tone, "But next time something like that happens, you tell me if anything hurts when I ask, ok?"

Blair raised his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay. I promise," he said with a grin. "Anything else before we go to bed? You're not disappointed in me anymore, are you?"

Jim thought about it for a moment. He had been slightly disturbed Blair had not confided in him about his injury, but that was cleared up now. His major gripe now was with the new forensics chief, Cassie Welles. She had taken Blair into a potentially dangerous situation and, because of her blatant disregard of Jim=s orders, had gotten Blair kidnapped and nearly killed. "Nah," he said, patting Blair's knee, "I'm irked now with Cassie. I'll have to have a talk with her in the morning. I'm proud of you for following my order to stay in the car, but next time she wants to drag you off somewhere and she pulls that stunt again, don't go, OK?"

Blair nodded. "You got it." He definitely didn't want a repeat of what had happened during that case. "And no more nightmares for you, OK, Jim? I'm alive and okay and going to get some sleep," he said with a grin.

Jim smiled and patted Blair's knee and rose alongside him from the couch.

Blair hesitated at the doorway to his bedroom and turned around. "You ‘felt’ that broken bone?"

Jim waved his fingers, pausing in his ascent up the stairs. "Yep."

Blair got excited. "Jim, oh man, we need to run some tests on this." He started back to the living room for his notebook.

Jim ran back down the stairs and laid a hand on the anthropologist’s shoulder, steering him back to the bedroom. "Bed, Chief."

Blair tried to turn back for his notebook. "But. . . ."

"Bed," said the older man. His tone left no room for argument.

Blair chuckled and let the Sentinel steer him to his bedroom. "OK, Jim. I’m going."

"G'night, Chief," Jim said as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom.

"G'night, Jim."

There were no more nightmares.


The End.


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