This is the sequel to You Decorated My Life. Yeah, I know it was supposed to be another song one and in a way it is... :-) Anyway, I sort of ran into a block in one of the stories I was working on and the other, which I thought would be the next one posted, well, it took a detour so it's going to longer than originally planned (but not too long) and I felt bad about not having anything to post. This popped into my head and I said, "What the heck?" and here it is.
Oh, TPTB have never given Rafe a first name, but one of the kind authors in our little realm offered the name Brian and it has sort of stuck. Whoever came up with it first, I'm borrowing it, if you have no objection. Thank you.
BTW, it's even shorter than the first part. Hope you enjoy.
P.S. The disclaimer for the boys and their environs is on my mainpage but I guess I should add Spider Man and J. Jonah Jamison are the property of Marvel Comics.
"Easy, partner. It's okay. You're safe."
Brown swiveled his head to his right and looked into the concerned eyes of his partner, Brian Rafe. He closed his eyes, took deep calming breaths like a certain anthropologist had taught him, then opened them again, and even managed a smile. "You pulling an Ellison, Rafe?" His voice was scratchy and hoarse from his ordeal.
He received a sheepish smile in return. "Didn't think you should wake up alone. He and Blair seem to think that matters."
"It does. Blair's okay, isn't he?" he asked anxiously, remembering his constant companion through the past three hellish nights.
"Jim took him home."
Brown relaxed. If Ellison took him home then that meant he was better than alright. The police observer had kept him alive through their tortuous seventy-two hours of imprisonment-- and not just in a physical sense. Sure, Hairboy had used the skills he'd learned from Ellison to keep him from bleeding to death, but it had been his certainty that Jim was going to come for them which had kept the detective from giving up, and giving into the infection the bullet was causing in his thigh. Every time his eyes closed, he would feel a hand on his forehead and hear a voice saying with calm assurance, "Jim will come for us." Faith so pure had to be rewarded. "And he did, didn't he?" he said aloud.
"Who did what, H.?" Rafe asked, wondering if his partner was still reacting to the drugs from his surgery.
"Ellison. Jim came for us, didn't he?"
"Yes, H., he did."
"Blair said he would. He had faith, babe."
Rafe dropped his eyes to his hands. "I didn't, H. I accused Jim of not wanting to find you. I thought he was angry at you because you had taken Blair with you that night. I though he was angry at Blair for going, and at me because I wasn't available to go. I accused him of terrible things, Henri, and I nearly assaulted him in the parking garage."
"And you lived to tell about it?"
Rafe nodded. "Captain Banks appeared right after, and he accused Ellison of hurting me. But, H, I swear the man didn't even lift a finger in my direction. Even under all the pressure he'd been under.... I don't think anyone in Major Crimes slept for more than a couple of hours since your disappearance. Knowing Jim, he probably didn't even get that much. But, yet, with all that riding on his shoulders, including my accusations, he never once lost his temper.... The rumors about him have been greatly exaggerated."
"Let's see if you say that once he gets these bigots that kidnapped us," Brown said knowingly. He'd been around Major Crimes longer than his partner. He'd seen the changes in Jim since he'd hooked up with Blair, and while the man was more human to the humans he worked with, he was still hell on criminals. Especially those who harmed his partner. "Blair tell you who did this?"
"Only that it was a hate crime. He didn't want to go into details tonight, and Jim agreed that it could wait until morning."
Brown nodded. "They said something about a nigger and a Jew sitting in a car. I pulled my badge to make them move on. There was a gunshot, and people cursing about shooting a cop. Then a rag came over my face...chloroform, I think. Next thing I know, I'm waking up with my head in Blair's lap, and he's telling me I'm going to be fine and that you and Jim are going to find us. If you get an artist in here, I think...." He started to sit up, but Rafe's hand on his arm held him back.
"Ellison and Sandburg are right, H. It can wait until morning. You need to rest, my friend. You're recovering from surgery, remember?"
"But I'm going to fine?"
"Yes. That's what the doctor said."
"As if doctors know everything." He moved his thigh experimentally, and winced at the pain the movement triggered.
Rafe squeezed his arm reassuringly. "That was Jim's diagnosis as well."
"Oh. So how long before I can go home?"
Rafe laughed. "Look at it this way, partner. As long as you're here in this hospital bed, the captain won't ream you another for not calling in for backup as soon you heard those racial remarks. But as soon as you get out..."
"You got a point there, Bri. I think I feel a relapse coming on."
Rafe smiled, and silently thanked the man responsible for returning his partner to him. "You ever wonder how he does it?"
"In the still of night, at the scene of a crime, like a streak of light, he arrives just in time...." Brown sang, slightly off-key.
Rafe frowned and touched Brown's forehead, wondering if the fever had returned. "You okay there, partner?"
"Theme song to Spider Man."
"I know. Just wondering why you felt the need to express yourself in such a manner," Rafe replied teasingly, now that he knew his partner wasn't hallucinating or something.
"Peter Parker's editor, J. Jonah Jamison, was always wanting to know who was beneath the mask. It didn't matter that Spider Man was always there to save his ass, man, that he always arrived just in time. All he ever cared about was who was behind the mask. I'm not a J. Jonah, Brian. I don't care what mask Jim wears. I don't care whether he was bit by an atomic spider, or if he can bend steel bars with his mind. I don't care if he hears stuff we can't hear, or sees stuff we can't see. As long as he's there to save my ass, and the asses of the people we look out for, I just don't care, Brian. I really don't," Brown said fervently.
Rafe nodded, and patted the arm beneath his hand. His partner was right. Let Ellison do what he did best, no matter what that involved. Because whatever it was, worked. The evidence of that was lying in the bed in front of him. "Sleep now, H. We'll straighten out everything in the morning. Okay?"
"Okay, partner." His eyes slowly closed.
"And H.?" Rafe said as he settled back in the chair to keep watch. "I agree. Spider Man can keep his mask."
"Yeah, way to go, Spidey." The room fell into silence as partners found comfort in each other's presence.
Jim Ellison sat in the yellow chair and watched the sleeping man on the sofa. Blair hadn't wanted to sleep in his room. He said it felt cramped, close, after the time spent in the storage container which was no bigger than a trailer on an eighteen-wheeler. So, Jim had made him up a bed on the sofa, then settled in to... to do what? Keep away the specters of the ordeal he'd been through, chase away the boogeyman the grad student had run into again because he was Jim's partner?
I don't know what to say to you, kid. The sacrifices you have made to make my life better, well, maybe it's too much. What gives me the right to wreck your life in order to straighten mine out? Better yet, what motivates you to make these sacrifices, face these awful situations, stand by not just me, but those who people my world too? And after all you go through, the last question you ask before falling asleep is what time do we have to be in to the department in morning. I don't deserve you, Blair. I don't think I ever will.
Jim sighed, and looked around the room. The remains of candles were everywhere, the cloying scent of burnt incense still hanging in the air. He shook his head, remembering that he was the one who had lit the candles and waved the incense throughout the room. Jim Ellison, who probably up to even as recently as a week ago would have sneered derisively at anything that hinted at New Age mysticism and assorted crap, had curled up in a lotus position in his living room, and meditated until he was able to reach out and find his partner. It was all so weird, but had felt so right.
And it had worked. The proof turned over, and opened his dark blue eyes. "Hi, Jim."
"You planning on sitting in that chair all night watching me?"
"Yep, that's the plan," Jim said, bracing himself for the protest.
But it never came. "Cool," Blair replied, and closed his eyes.
Jim smiled, then looked up suddenly as something inside him gave a tug. "You know what happened to the boy who cried wolf, Sandburg," he warned, even though he was pleased that the "alert" system worked so well.
"I'm not crying wolf, Jim. I waggle, and you're supposed to come get me."
Jim got up and took the two steps to the sofa. Blair sat up, and Jim plopped down, settling the pillow into his lap, then Blair's head. "Is this what you had in mind?" he asked, as he brushed the brown curls from his partner's face. He knew what was happening. After a trauma, sleep came easily for an hour or two. Then after that brief respite, the mind was able to function, and sleep was overshadowed by thought.
"Yeah. The chair was too far away." Blair looked up into the eyes he had longed to see for three whole days. "This is nice."
"What? Having someone at your mental beck and call?"
Blair shook his head. "That connection is between the Sentinel and his Guide. This," he swept his hand out, indicating the two of them, "is between us, Jim and Blair."
Jim smiled. "Yeah, Chief. This is us."
The eyes fluttered closed, then popped open again. "You spoil me."
A shrug. "You've earned it. We'll get around to discipline you later for running off with H. in the first place."
"You're the one who taught me that a detective shouldn't go out on a call alone," Blair replied impishly.
"Go to sleep, or we'll get around to your discipline right now. I can only imagine what must be growing in that refrigerator, since I haven't even been near it for three days."
Blair shuddered. "I get the hint, Jim. I'm closing my eyes, okay?" Silence for all of two minutes. "Everybody always thought Naomi spoiled me. I mean, basically, she let me do anything I wanted. I never had a curfew. She never lectured to me about what I wore, or who I dated, or what I ate. But that was just Naomi being Naomi, Jim. It wasn't about me."
"I know, Chief." He had ambivalent feelings toward Naomi. Blair had turned out okay, so she must have been a decent mother, but her methods...
"I used to have this dream when I was little. Actually, the correct term would be a 'recurrent nightmare'. Anyway, in this dream I would get lost. Sometimes it would be in the woods. Sometimes in a department store. Mostly, it was just some dark, anonymous place where I alone and I couldn't find a door to get to the light. A therapist said it was because Mom and I were always on the move. Makes sense, doesn't it?"
"I'm sorry about your nightmares, Chief." Jim wondered how long this rambling would last; not that he minded it, but Blair needed to rest.
"It's okay. They're gone now. You know why?"
Blue eyes searched their counterparts. "You, man. It's like I was this little boy who was waiting for someone to come and take me home. You've done that, Jim. Thank you."
"And I'll keep doing it, Chief, until you're able to find your way home on your own. So you rest, okay, and don't worry about getting lost anymore. I'll come get you. I promise."
"And I'll be waiting. I promise."
Promises made, the warmth of one's hand in the other's, Sentinel and Guide, man and brother, settled in for much needed rest.
"You did good, Chief," Jim praised as they made their way into the Major Crimes bullpen. "The perps have been ID'd and the D.A. is ready for court."
"But he'll probably never have to prosecute the case, because the guys who kidnapped Brown and me are going to plead guilty and be sent off to jail. Why? Because they're scared to death of you," Blair chided with an amused smile. "The stare, man. I think I know where the idea for laser beams came from."
"They tried to kill you and H., Chief. My eyes were supposed to shine with warmth and kindness?"
"Uh, freezing would have been warmer than what you gave, Jim. I think I should offer you as a show-and-tell project to the freshmen chemistry classes. Sometimes they have problems understanding the difference between zero degrees and absolute zero. One look from you and ding, instant understanding."
"Keep it up, Sandburg, and I'll show you absolute zero."
"I didn't know Spider Man had a freezing death ray, Jim."
Jim gave his head a shake, trying to keep up with the rapid turnings of his partner's mind. "What are you talking about?"
"Take a look at your desk."
Jim looked down and found a Spider Man action figure on his desk, in a box with his name on it. "What the hell?" He looked around the room, wondering if this was somebody's idea of a joke. But there were no suspicious jumps in pulses, no flushing faces.
"Jim, Sandburg, I need you in my office."
"Sure, captain." Jim shrugged, and stuffed the doll in his desk before joining Blair in moving across the room. Simon probably had a more intriguing investigation waiting for him.
Brian Rafe smiled, and headed down the hall to the copier room. A passing officer turned briefly and frowned as the detective passed by him. He could have sworn the man was humming the Spider Man song. Nah. Probably just an auditory hallucination due to coffee-deprivation. Happened all the time....