SLIP SLIDIN' AWAY






The high-pitched wail of the EMT ambulance cut through the early afternoon air. Seated in the front passenger seat of Simon Banks' car as they raced after the ambulance, Blair Sandburg divided his attention between the ambulance ahead of them and the backpack on his lap.

"Where is it? I know I put it in here. It's always in here." Starting to panic, Blair contemplated dumping the entire contents of his backpack at his feet.

Simon, irritated by Blair's mutterings, glanced over at him. "Sandburg! Fasten that seatbelt right now!"

Blair absently reached for the shoulder strap with his right hand even as he continued rummaging around in the backpack with his left. Glancing up, he frowned. "Simon! You gotta keep up with the ambulance!"

Simon snorted. "Jim will be fine. The bullet grazed the side of his head. Head wounds..."

"Always bleed, making the wound look worse than it is," Blair snapped as he fastened his seatbelt. "Yeah, I know. But Jim's senses are going to be all over the place when he wakes up. He won't be reacting well to the over-stimulation. And all it will take is some eager-beaver intern shooting him full of some sedative to maybe kill him."

"What?!" Simon glared at the younger man. "Sandburg, what the hell are you talking about?!"

"YES!" Briefly closing his eyes in relief, Blair clutched the small notebook to his chest. Shoving his backpack onto the floor in front of him, he opened his eyes. "Simon, Jim took an over-the-counter cold liquid a few months ago. That threw his senses all out of whack...almost like an LSD trip, okay? Now, imagine what some sort of painkiller would do to him...not to mention something high-powered like Demerol. That's why I need to be there when they take Jim out of the ambulance." He held up the notebook in silent explanation, then gasped. "Oh, God, Simon! What if he's already awake? That siren will drive him crazy! They could be shooting him full of..."

"Sandburg! Enough!" Simon growled. He pushed down on the accelerator, catching up to the ambulance. He glanced at the notebook. "All that stuff in there is about pain killers?"

Blair shook his head. "It's got everything we know so far about what affects Jim. Food, scents, detergents...everything. What they are...how it affects Jim...what counteracts the bad stuff." He glanced at Simon in surprise. "Simon, this is what I do for Jim."

Simon silently nodded. 'You should have figured it out, Banks. Jim wouldn't have allowed the kid to stick around 24/7 if it was just a matter of controlling his senses while on the job.' He suddenly admired Blair and pitied Jim.

Simon braked to a stop behind the ambulance at the emergency room door. He'd barely come to a halt when Blair unbuckled his seatbelt and threw himself out of the car. "Sandburg!" he yelled. Shaking his head, he got out of the car. "Crazy kid's gonna kill himself."

Blair heard Jim's groan as the EMTs unloaded the gurney. "Easy, Jim. Just take it easy."

Jim Ellison winced as every sound felt like a hot dagger stabbing his eardrums. He opened his eyes, then quickly closed them with another groan.

Blair grabbed Jim's shirt and hung on as the EMTs raced the gurney inside.

"Gunshot victim. Head wound. Cascade PD."

Blair glanced up as the EMT handed the paperwork to a middle-aged nurse. The woman glanced at Jim then at the board on the wall. "Get him in Room 3." She started to stop Blair who nimbly danced away and walked with the gurney. "Sir! Wait a..."

"It's alright," Simon quickly spoke. "They're...partners." He inwardly grimaced, wondering how Ellison would react if he heard THAT label applied to Sandburg. "And Detective Ellison has a lot of allergies."

The nurse hesitated, then handed Simon a clipboard. "Well, somebody needs to fill this out."

Simon pointed towards treatment room three. "I'm sure Mr. Sandburg will be able to complete those forms."

The nurse flashed him an irritated look then walked down the hallway.

Simon sighed and walked back towards the emergency room door to move his car.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair tried not to flinch when the EMT's transferred Jim from the gurney to the bed. The ex-Ranger's teeth were gritted in his determination not to react. 'Okay, Jim's in his bite-the-bullet-there-is-no-pain-because-I-refuse-to-acknowledge-pain mode. I can work with this.'

A young blonde-haired nurse smiled as she began taking Jim's blood pressure.

Blair brought a nearby chair over to the bed and sat down. "Don't go scaring the nurse, Jim. She's pretty." He winked when the nurse chuckled.

"And married," she added. She frowned when Jim winced at the pressure of the cuff on his arm.

"Easy," Blair whispered. He put a hand on Jim's shoulder. "Deep breaths. Remember?"

"Easy for you to say, Sandburg," Jim growled.

Blair watched as the nurse walked over to the intern who'd just arrived. As the two conferred quietly, he leaned forward and murmured. "Let's get those dials down, Jim. We'll reset them later. Sight first. What's the dial set at?"

"Eight," Jim muttered.

Blair frowned. "Okay, gently turn the dial down until it's set on three. The lights around here are awfully bright." He quickly helped Jim bring the dials on sight, touch, and scent down before the intern stepped forward.

"Mr. Sandburg? I'm afraid you'll have to wait outside while we examine and treat your partner."

Blair looked up with a smile and glanced at the doctor's badge. "Hey, Jim. It's Dr. McCoy."

Jim slowly opened his eyes, grunted, and closed them.

Blair quickly found the correct page in his notebook. "Detective Ellison has quite a few allergies and drug sensitivities. I have an extra copy so you can include it in his files for future reference." He tore three pages from his notebook and handed them Dr. McCoy.

"I'm sure you mean well, Mr. Sandburg, but we are quite capable of..." The young intern looked at the paper then frowned. Glancing at all three pages, he sighed. "Is there anything that's not on this list?"

"I'm sure there is, but that should give you an idea of what to avoid." Blair patted Jim on the shoulder then stood and moved the chair aside. "I'll be right here, Jim."

Dr. McCoy sighed and handed Blair a clipboard. "Please fill this out and return it to the admitting nurse."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Recapping our story from the Cascade Public Employees' Credit Union, an employee identified as John McTavish opened fire on his coworkers this morning. This was the scene at 11am when Cascade police officers responded to the silent alarm and were able to negotiate the release of the hostages. However, when Mr. McTavish exited the Credit Union, he began firing his automatic weapon. During a brief exchange of gunfire, both Mr. McTavish and a Cascade officer were injured and taken to Cascade General Hospital. Mr. McTavish is listed in serious condition while the condition of the officer is unknown at this time. As you know, the Cascade PD has a strict policy of not releasing the medical condition of their officers for at least 24 hours pending notification of family. This is Don Haas reporting for Channel 4 News at 5pm."

William Ellison ignored the reporter's solemn face and delivery as he watched the activity behind the reporter. Two paramedics were rushing towards an ambulance. The face of the man on the gurney was easily recognizable.

"Jim," William murmured. His attention was so fixed on his son being loaded into the ambulance that he didn't see the young long-haired man anxiously hovering close to the gurney.

When the new anchorwoman began talking about the latest squabble between the Mayor and City Council, William turned off the television. He checked his watch then glanced at the luggage by the front door. Coming to a quick decision, he picked up the telephone and dialed a number.

"This is William Ellison. Send a car for me now if you please. I need to make a stop at a hospital before going to the airport." He automatically placed his right hand on his chest and remembered his physician's warning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Look, Chief, I'm fine. Go home." Jim grumbled. "I should be going home with you."

"It's just one night for observation," Blair soothed. "Just so they can make sure nothing's not rattling around in your head that shouldn't be rattling around."

Jim stared up at the younger man. "I must be suffering from a concussion. That actually made sense."

Blair chuckled as the door opened. Looking over his shoulder, he nodded. "Hey, Simon."

Simon nodded at Blair then studied Jim. "Ellison, you look like somebody who needs to be kept for observation. Stop complaining."

Jim ignored the satisfied smirk on Blair's face. "Yes, sir. Would you mind taking Blair home?"

"Sure," Simon nodded. "It's been a long day, Sandburg. Let's go before your backpack decides to take up permanent residence in my car."

"But..."

"Look...I'll be asleep in a few minutes anyway," Jim pointed out. "And, after your discussions with all the doctors, nobody's going to give me anything not on the Sandburg Approved List." He faintly smiled. "Go home, Chief. Everything's fine. Everything's turned down."

Blair hesitated then nodded. "But you'll call if you need anything, right?"

"Gotcha," Jim yawned. "Go."

"Come on, Sandburg," Simon urged. "He's not going to sleep until I get you out of here."

Blair stared down at Jim for a few seconds then nodded. "See you tomorrow morning, Jim."

"Bring doughnuts," Jim muttered as he closed his eyes.

Blair insisted on stopping at the nurse's desk to be sure they had his number in case of an emergency. Simon patiently waited as the nurse gently reassured him they would call if necessary. Reluctantly, Blair nodded and followed Simon to the elevators.

"He'll be fine, Sandburg," Simon grunted.

"Yeah," Blair nodded. "I just..." He glanced up as the elevator door opened.

An older grey-haired man stepped out of the elevator and glanced up at the sign designating patient room numbers. Then he stepped to one side with a brief smile. "Excuse me."

"No problem," Blair automatically smiled in return. He and Simon got into the elevator. "I just have this feeling I should stick around for a while, that's all."

"The only place you're sticking is at home, Sandburg," Simon growled.

William Ellison smiled as the elevator door closed. 'Well, that was certainly an odd couple. Let's see, the nice young lady at the information desk said Jim's room number is 3117. That would be...this way.'

William turned to his right and walked down the hall towards the intersection at the nurses' desk. At the intersection, he turned right again and quietly walked down the hallway. Visiting hours were just starting, filling the hallway with the muted noise of quiet conversation.


//I know a father who had a son
He longed to tell him all the reasons for the things he'd done
He came a long way just to explain
He kissed his boy while he lay sleepin'
Then he turned around and he headed home again.//



William stood, staring down at his sleeping son. The clean white bandage on Jim's head shouted out to the elder Ellison just how vulnerable his son was and how close death had been to Jim that morning. In his sleeping son, William could also see traces of the young boy he preferred to remember over the hard-eyed adult his son had become.

William reached out for his son, then stopped. 'He's peacefully sleeping. No need to wake him. He needs his rest. We'll talk another time.' Instead he awkwardly patted the pillow next to Jim's head.

The elder Ellison glanced at his watch and inwardly sighed. His plane wouldn't wait for him. And the meeting in Chicago was critical if he was to retire as CEO yet retain some influence in the company he had devoted much of his adult life to build.

Squaring his shoulders, William silently turned and walked away.




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