A Broken Statue - Lisa, Duncan's Twin
What does one do with the grief that never leaves, the kind that time cannot heal?
How does one live when sadness is everywhere at your departure?
September 11, 2001 - 5:51 a.m. P.S.T.
The phone woke him, jarring him from the edges of sleep into the harsh reality of morning.
"Jim," Simon said, his voice trembling, "turn on the TV."
"What?" Jim said, already throwing off the covers.
"Wazzit?" Blair asked, sitting up and pushing the hair out of his face.
"Simon," Jim said, covering the mouthpiece.
Downstairs, looking for the remote, Jim said to Simon, "What's going on?"
"Shit, Jim, the world's fucking going to hell."
His finger on the power button, Jim hesitated, taking one last deep breath before plunging into what waited.
"...plane hit the World Trade Center's north tower minutes ago..." the reporter said, talking frantically.
"Oh god," Blair said behind him, shocked, his hand over his mouth.
"Simon, I'm here. What do you want us to do?"
"I'm on my way to the station," Simon sighed. "Get there as soon as you can."
Jim hung up, setting the phone on the coffee table.
"We need to get to the station," Jim told Blair, not taking his eyes off the screen.
"Right," Blair said, turning and heading up the stairs.
"Oh my god!"
"What?" Blair said, turning to look at Jim's shocked face.
Frantically punching in the number, Jim cursed as he misdialed and had to start again, fingers trembling.
"Be there, be there."
"My Dad, Chief. He was going to New York this week, but I can't remember when."
"Damn it, no answer," Jim cursed as he clicked the phone off.
"Steven'll know!" They said simultaneously.
Dialing, Jim started to pace.
"Steven! Wake up."
"What? Shit, what time is it?"
"Steven, when did Dad go to New York?"
"Listen to me," Jim enunciated carefully. "When. Did. Dad. Go. To. New. York?"
"Fuck!" Jim cursed. "It's Tuesday, Steven."
"Oh, right," Steven said, sighing. "He left this morning. What time is it?"
Letting out a relieved breath, Jim smiled to reassure Blair.
"Steven, turn on your TV, all hell's broken loose. I've gotta get to the station."
"Wait," Steven called. "What's going on?" Jim could hear the television click on over the line. "Oh, god."
"Exactly," Jim said. "Can you find out if Dad's plane left already or if he's still at the airport? Call me on the cell."
"Okay, okay, I will."
Jim hung up and followed Blair upstairs to dress. Three minutes later they were out the door, beginning the worst day in the history of America since the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in April of 1995.
On the way to the station, they heard that the south tower had been hit; it was now very clear the first hit hadn't been a tragic accident, but was, instead, an act of terrorism. They drove faster.
The station was a mad house, uniform and plain clothes officers had all been called into the station and were awaiting orders. They stood around radios and the few televisions, watching history unfold. Finally, Simon came in, holding his hands up to quiet the officers and gather everybody together.
"Okay people, here's what we know so-"
"Holy shit!" The yell came from down the hallway in Narcotics.
The volume of the nearest television was turned up.
"...a plane just struck the Pentagon..."
A chorus of shocked exclamations went up around the room.
"People, please!" Simon said loudly, moving closer to the television.
The room listened attentively, shocked into silence and stillness. The world, it seemed, was falling apart.
Finally, Simon turned the sound back down and began explaining what was going to happen.
"Starting today, everyone will be working twelve hour shifts. You'll work five days, have a day off, then switch to the opposite shift. Here's the list, find out which schedule you're on. Some of you have been temporarily reassigned," Simon handed the list to the nearest officer who glanced at it and then passed it along. "These changes are only temporary, but will continue indefinitely.
"Any questions? Good."
Jim caught a quick look at the list, found his and Blair's names on the day shift. They hadn't been reassigned, so he tugged Blair towards their desks and started working on open cases, waiting for further assignment.
Jim's cell phone chirped.
"Son, it's Dad."
"Where are you?" Jim asked, alerting Blair who was standing beside him, scanning the crowd of media already assembled for the mayor's press conference.
"Home," William Ellison said. "The airlines said to go home, that we probably wouldn't be going anywhere, especially those going to New York." He sighed. "Have you heard anything, Jimmy?"
"Nothing more than you know, Dad. We're at city hall for the mayor's address."
"Be careful today, son."
"I will," Jim said reassuringly.
Ending the call, Jim smiled at Blair. "Just my dad. He's home safe."
"Good," Blair said, resuming his watch.
"Ellison, Sandburg, my office," Simon called from his office doorway.
Casting a quick glance at Jim, Blair followed his partner quickly into the office and shut the door behind him.
Joel was sitting at the conference table, so they sat down as well, eyes on Simon.
Simon began without any pretext. "Joel has been temporarily reassigned back to the bomb squad. Jim, I want you and Blair working closely with him. There are likely to be a lot of bomb threats called in, and I don't want to waste a lot of unnecessary time at scenes. Things need to stay as normal as possible, and seeing SWAT trucks and bomb disposal units on every street corner and at every public building will not inspire confidence in the citizens of Cascade."
Simon paused, watching Blair look back and forth between Jim and Joel.
"Yes, Sandburg, Joel knows about Jim's senses," Simon said, then looked at Jim. "Didn't you say it was okay to tell Joel since he already suspected?"
"Yeah," Jim said. "Sorry, Chief, you were in the break room getting donuts."
Blair shrugged, "Whatever."
Jim rolled his eyes, knowing that that 'whatever' was going to cost him big time, but he had other things to worry about.
Simon turned to head back to his desk, "Oh, one other thing," he said, turning around, "I need y'all on sixteen hour shifts right now. I hope that's not going to be a problem."
"Not a problem," Jim said, standing up.
Blair sighed heavily but didn't say anything.
September 14, 2001 - 11:45 a.m.
The days blended together, smearing into a blur of bomb threats and stale coffee. Jim had gone home late the first day, gathering some clothes and their shaving kits before returning to the station for the long haul. They slept for six hours at a stretch, waiting for the fifth day so they could get some real rest. A temporary sleeping area had been set up in Vice; those officers had all been assigned to other departments. There were officers assigned to protect the major city buildings, including the mayor's mansion and the city jail. The National Guard had been called in for the airport, and when it finally opened for business, they would be ready.
Blair had long since forgiven Jim for not including him in the decision to confirm Joel's suspicions about Jim's senses. As payback, Blair had made Jim perform a few tests to show Joel Jim's abilities and limitations; Joel had been impressed. The first time they had been sent out on a bomb threat and Joel had seen Jim's senses in action, he had been even more impressed with Jim's abilities. Laughingly, Joel had accused Jim of using his senses to beat them at poker, but Jim had just teased back that he was naturally talented and didn't need to. Those few moments of levity helped them through the longest days.
On this afternoon, Blair managed to skip out of the station on his lunch break, eating a sandwich as he drove to the loft. He had only been a badge wearing, gun toting cop for ten months, and nothing had prepared him for the situation they were dealing with now. Needing some space from the insanity, he had insisted to Jim that one of them should go home and check the mail and water the plants. Jim had relented, though it had been on the tip of his tongue to remind Blair that the plants could probably go another day without water, but Jim, better than anyone, understood breathing space.
At the loft, Blair took a deep breath in the silent haven of home. He had almost forgotten what silence sounded like; it was never truly quiet at the station, even when they were trying to sleep.
He sorted through the mail, dropping the junk mail in the trash and stacking the rest. Seeing several new magazines, Blair put them in a pile to take back to the station, thinking Jim could flip through them and relax for a few minutes himself. Blair left the bills on the table and stacked the remaining few envelopes with the magazines, a newsletter from a local animal shelter they donated money and time to, a post card from Jim's dentist reminding him to make an appointment, and a letter from Naomi.
Taking a few minutes to sit on the couch, Blair put his feet up on the coffee table, leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
Nearly jumping out of his skin, Blair hopped up and grabbed the phone.
"You weren't asleep, were you, Chief?"
"Bite me, Jim."
"You name the place," Jim said, his voice lowering sexily.
Blair laughed in frustration. It had been a long time since they'd been together. The time and the place just weren't right for intimate contact, no matter how much they both longed for just one kiss.
"Your ass is mine on Sunday," Blair promised.
"And then yours is mine!"
"Deal," Blair said with a laugh. "I'm leaving now. You need anything?"
Blair listened as Jim hung up and then did the same. Grabbing the stack of magazines and mail, Blair looked around the quiet loft and then left, locking the door behind him.
"Pass me the fried dumplings."
"How many of those are you gonna eat?" Blair asked, flipping through a hot rod magazine.
"As many as are left," Jim said, sliding the dumpling into his mouth.
Sighing, Blair raised his eyebrow and added softly, "We won't talk about your cholesterol."
Jim thumbed through the pile of magazines.
"No Guns and Rifles?"
"Wasn't in the mail."
Seeing Naomi's letter, Jim reached for it, but Blair was quicker, snatching it before Jim's greasy fingers could grasp it.
"Go wash your hands, Jim."
A one-fingered response was tossed his way.
"Very classy," Jim said as he headed to the bathroom to wash his hands.
Jim smiled at his reflection in the mirror. He knew he was well-trained, Blair had his number and repeatedly called him on stuff. That's okay, Jim thought, the perks are fucking excellent.
Jim tore out of the bathroom and was back in the break room three seconds later.
"What?" Jim asked, looking for any kind of clue as to what was wrong with his partner.
Blair was frozen, his mouth agape, staring at the paper in his hand, Naomi's letter.
"What is it, Chief?"
Jim took the letter from Blair's lifeless fingers and quickly scanned it for some indication as to what caused Blair's peculiar reaction. Seeing nothing, Jim dropped to his knees at Blair's side, bodily turning Blair to face him.
Forcing Blair's face up, Jim tried to meet his eyes.
Looking up, Blair's eyes were red and watery.
"What?" Jim shook him gently.
"She... she was..."
"She was what?" Jim asked urgently, a feeling of dread starting to tingle in his toes.
"Boston, she was in... Boston."
Remembering that from his scan of the letter, Jim looked again, reading slower, searching for the obvious clue he was missing. Then he saw the envelope on the floor. Reaching for it, his vision dialed up of its own free will, enhancing the postmark.
'Sept. 11 '01, Boston, MA'
Grabbing Blair's arm, Jim pulled him out of the chair and continued pulling him until they were in Simon's office.
"That door was closed for a... what the hell's wrong with Sandburg?" Simon came around the desk.
Thrusting the letter at Simon, Jim rushed, "Blair's mom might have been on one of the flights."
"One of the... oh shit," Simon rushed back behind his desk and grabbed his phone. "Rhonda, get me the FAA."
Slamming his phone down, Simon asked, "How do you know?"
Pointing at the letter, Jim explained, "She always mails him a letter from the airport when she leaves somewhere. Tells him what she's been doing, where she's going. It's tradition.
"Simon, she was in Boston that morning," Blair said weakly.
Checking the date of the letter and the postmark on the envelope, Simon sighed, "This doesn't mean anything for sure. She could have left on a later flight. A different airline."
Jim spun around, feeling Blair start to tremble.
"It's always United, she always flies United," Blair said softly.
With a look at Blair's stricken face, Simon walked over to the door and leaned his head out. "Connor, come here."
Jim eased Blair down into a chair and sat in a nearby one, scooting it closer, holding both of Blair's cold hands in his. Blair wasn't saying anything, and that more than all else, was scaring the crap out of Jim. He listened to Simon explain the situation to Megan, and asked her to call United Airlines and see if she could get answers faster that way than through the FAA.
Returning to his office, Simon closed the door.
"Jim, why don't you take Blair home and-"
"NO!" Blair said vehemently. "I want to be here. Simon, I have to know!"
Nodding in understanding, Simon took up his seat behind the desk.
They waited in silence, all saying prayers to various gods along with the rest of the world.
When the answer finally came, it was as they expected. Naomi Sandburg had boarded flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles on that fateful morning, hoping to visit a few old friends, and had instead found the evil specter of terrorism.
Megan stood leaning against the office door, silent tears rolling down her cheeks as she grieved for both Blair and Naomi. Simon too had shed a tear, covering his face with his big hands and wishing he would wake up from this terrible nightmare. Jim had kept his eyes on Blair, feeling them burn at the news, but knowing he had to be strong for Blair.
Blair's reaction startled them all. He had been silent at first, stone still in the chair, eyes glued to the floor, and then he'd sat up straight, looked at each of them and smiled.
"Okay," he said, standing up. Jim's hands were still clenched around his.
"Jim, we need to get back to work," Blair said softly.
They all spoke simultaneously.
Blair smiled again.
"It's okay, you guys. She's... it's gonna be... oh hell!"
Wrenching his hands out of Jim's startled grasp, Blair bolted from the office.
As Jim ran after Blair, Simon called, knowing Jim would hear, "Take him home, Jim. We'll cover you."
Following the pounding heartbeat up to the roof, Jim wrapped his arms around Blair, pulling him as close as possible, crooning softly into his hair.
"Why?! WHY?!" Blair screamed out.
"I don't know," Jim whispered into his ear.
"Oh, god, I didn't even get to say goodbye."
Jim nodded against Blair's head. "I know."
They stood together for a long time before Blair turned around and wrapped his arms around Jim, resting his head on Jim's chest, his damp eyes pressed against Jim's warm neck. Feeling fresh hot tears sear his throat, Jim's eyes burned and his tears joined Blair's.
"It's not fair."
"No, it isn't," Jim said, holding on to Blair as the storm raged and the dust flew in the air around them.
I do not know what to do without you.
I cannot replace your eyes, your smile, your joy in my presence.
This very moment I want no one but you, to hear your voice, to feel the reassurance that only you can give.
And all the while you lived, I had no idea you held the pieces together.
I am now a broken statue.
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Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Diana who betaed this when it was originally written and to Kelly for the most recent beta. I did make some changes after, so all mistakes are mine. Thank you Patt, for hand holding and art. :)