Disclaimer: Pet Fly's guys.

Author's Notes: For Wolfshy.




One last Ellison family vacation. Jim frowned at the expensive summer homes that now covered the hills he had hiked as a tyke. Dad's little 'cottage,' luxurious as it had been at the time, looked small and dated compared to this age of architectural excess. Dad and Steve talked real estate prices for the area, while Jim walked the property, gathering memories to take with him when they left for the last time. Absently eavesdropping on his father and brother as the phone rang. He started back up from the beach as soon as he heard Simon's voice.

Pain. A dull fogged feeling that meant drugs. Hospital. Institutional green walls. A tube in his arm trailing up to an IV stand. A television on low, muttering away with the afternoon talk shows. One of those straight-backed uncomfortable chairs was pulled up to the side of the bed, occupied by a man with dark, classic features.

It puzzled him for a long moment. He never doubted there would be someone there, but this... who?... the slender, olive skin and Armani... this wasn't right.

Blue eyes, he thought, and broad shoulders in a worn LL Bean Field Coat. Jim.

"Blair? It's okay. You were beat up, you're in the hospital, but you're going to be okay..."

He let the other's muted reassurances follow him into the darkness.

"So this idiot takes a baseball bat to Sandburg because he was talking to his wife? Unbelievable. Doctor say anything else? That's good. No. I can't get a flight back until tomorrow. Yeah. The uniforms did it by the book, right? I don't want this guy getting off on a technicality. Yeah. Right. Bye, Simon."

Pain. A dull fogged feeling that meant drugs. Hospital. Dim light showing a tube in his arm. Soft snoring from his... roommate? No. An industrial orange recliner, and a man curled up like a cat, a man... Rafe. The name rose up out of the depths of memory.

He had wadded up his jacket to use as a pillow. That was wrong; Rafe hated wrinkled clothes. Not the only thing wrong. Where was Jim? He barely had time to wonder about this before slipping into sleep again.

Jim stared out of the airplane window at the terminal, a fine rage boiling in his gut. These idiot airlines and their delays. Didn't they realize that sometimes there were emergencies, and people had to reach their destinations on time? He wondered if the old man still had his attack lawyers on retainer. He'd sue. If something... happened... if he wasn't there and Blair... needed him... he'd shut the company down.

Pain. A dull fogged feeling that meant drugs, and robbed the light menu hospital food of any taste. Blair rearranged his Jell-O cubes around on the plate.

"Try and eat a little, Blair, the doc wants to see if it'll stay down," a softly accented voice gently encouraged. Blair poked at an unnaturally colored quivering lump with his spork, guiltily.

Rafe had sat up with him, brought a few of his things over from the loft, was visiting him. It wasn't Rafe's fault that he was, well... Rafe.

Jim caught a cab at the airport. The driver was inclined to be chatty. Jim ignored the conversational overtures he made and glared gloomily out the window until he reached the hospital.

Once there, he made his way to Sandburg's room, mood lightening only when his eyes lit on the battered figure on the bed. And the younger detective who had stood in for him, Rafe, looked weary and more rumpled than Jim had ever seen him. He'd have to get the kid a gift certificate or something.

Stepping out into the hall so they wouldn't wake Sandburg, Rafe filled him in, on the case and on Sandburg's condition. Then Jim relieved Rafe of guide-guard duty, and settled in at his bedside. Frowning slightly as he looked through Rafe's discarded men's fashion magazines and realized he didn't have anything to read.

Pain. A dull fogged feeling that meant drugs. The hospital. He opened bleary blue eyes and focused on the welcome sight of his sentinel at his side. Where he was supposed to be.

Safe, Blair slept.

~ End ~

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Page last updated 8/15/03.