Sins Of Omission - Annie
“Wait here. I’ll be right back,” he’d told me and so here I am, waiting. Only it’s been over twenty minutes now and he should have been back and my gut is starting to tap dance its way up into my throat. If I don’t move, don’t do something, I’ll go nuts, so instead of doing what Jim told me, I set off up the street, in the direction he’d headed off.
He’s going to give that slow eye-roll of his when I catch up with him, I think, as I hasten my footsteps; tell me, “What did I tell you to do, Chief?” Then he’ll shake his head at me and smile and turn and introduce me to that old friend he’d seen down the street.
I make it to the corner and turn just as he had and I step into a dark, dank alley and stop dead. There’s no sign of Jim or his friend. Just cold, slimy alley walls already shadowed in twilight.
A sound at my back makes me jump and I turn quickly, almost laughing out loud as an old, skinny alley cat creeps out of the shelter of a Dumpster and gives me a sidelong, green-eyed look before scurrying off into the evening.
“Jim?” It’s seems stupid to call him when he’s obviously not here but the silence is getting to me and just hearing the sound of my own voice, shaky as it is, settles my suddenly shaky nerves.
There’s no reply though and I head back to the mouth of the alley, pulling out my cellphone as I go. I dial Simon Banks’ number and as soon as he picks up, I blurt out, “It’s Blair here. I’ve lost Jim. Well, not exactly lost... Yeah, actually I have. He told me he’d be back and he’s been gone over twenty minutes and I followed him but he’s not here-“
Simon interrupts, asking me where I am and wanting more details. Was I sure Jim hadn’t just gone off to join his buddy for a drink?
I explain as concisely as I can, given the panic I’m starting to feel, that we were on our way back from dinner when Jim had spotted an old friend from his Army days. He’d told me he’d be right back, asked me to stay where I was while he went to speak to Chuck, and that he wouldn’t have just gone off and left me standing on a street corner like some panhandler hoping for change.
Simon agrees it doesn’t sound like Jim and tells me he’ll come meet me. That settles the butterflies in my stomach somewhat. There’s nothing like having someone else to worry alongside you when your lover goes missing. I give him the cross streets and start to walk out of the alley to watch for him when something hard smacks into the back of my head and the lights go out.
“Chief? Come on, buddy, open your eyes.”
I’ve been trying to wake Blair for the last fifteen minutes. I’d thought he was dead when Chuck carried him in. I’d had to dial up my sight in the dark of the room we’re in so I could check him out but he’s stirring now, thank God, small moans seeping past his lips. He rolls his head away from my hand and I wince as his hair falls away from his forehead to reveal a vivid, wide gash across his temple. It’s still seeping blood sluggishly and I tear a strip off my shirt and wad it up, holding it against the wound in an effort to stop the bleeding.
“Jim?” His eyes are still closed but at least he’s conscious enough to know that I’m here and when I pull the cloth away, the bleeding’s almost stopped.
“Yeah, I’m here, Chief. Can you open your eyes?”
He does that then slams them shut almost immediately while his skin gains a ghastly greenish hue and he swallows convulsively.
“You gonna be sick?” I ask and he nods frantically then moans as I roll him onto his side and hold him there while he loses the expensive dinner I’d treated him to just before I’d spotted good ole Chuck.
“Oh man,” he groans, holding his head. “What the hell is going on?”
I angle his chin up so I can get a look at his eyes, hastily dialing down my sense of smell as a whiff of his sour breath floats upward. His pupils look equal, though he looks somewhat dazed and I hope he’s just got a slight concussion and not a fractured skull or worse. “What do you remember?” I ask, sitting down next to him and propping him against my side when he looks like he’s going to keel over sideways.
“We went to dinner and when we were leaving you saw some old buddy of yours and.…” He stops and thinks then shakes his head slowly. “That’s it,” he says after a moment. “Where are we?”
I look around the dingy room and shake my head. “No idea. I caught up with Chuck and he seemed happy to see me. Have to say he didn’t seem as surprised to see me as I was to see him though. He told me he had something to show me, got me in here ahead of him and slammed the door.”
“You’re kidding me?” Blair says, and I guess I can’t really blame him for being amazed I fell for it.
“He’s an old friend,” I say defensively. “Why would I think he was going to do something like this? What I can’t work out is why he beaned you and brought you here too.”
Blair sighs and I waylay his hand as it creeps up towards the cut. “Don’t touch!” I warn as he settles back against the wall we’re leaning against.
He rubs the back of his head instead. “I’ve got one hell of a lump on the back of my head. Guess I hit my forehead on the sidewalk when he knocked me out.” He frowns as though he’s trying to gather his thoughts. “What exactly did he say and why didn’t your senses pick up anything hinky going on with him?”
“He was my friend. Besides, I didn’t exactly run a Sentinel lie detector on him, Chief. I thought he was dead. I was so damn glad to see he wasn’t, I didn’t even think of doing that.”
“Did he say anything about why he was doing this?”
I tilt my head toward the door. Someone’s coming. “Not yet but maybe he’s about to.”
The door creaks open and then a light switch is flicked on and I have to cover my eyes for a minute as the glare threatens to overload my sight. Blair’s patting my arm, whispering, “Dial it down.” It takes a moment or two longer before I get it under control and lower my hand.
“Hey, Jimbo,” Chuck says brightly, holding up one beefy hand in greeting and my Sig Sauer in the other. “Sorry about your buddy there but I need him too.”
I turn to look at Blair and wince at the blood I can see trickling down the side of his face again. “You could have killed him,” I growl. “You got a first aid kit anywhere in this dump?”
Chuck laughs. “He looks tough enough. He’ll live. Now, Jim, guess you’re wondering why I brought you here.”
“That’d be an understatement,” Blair mutters.
“Shut up, Sandburg!” Chuck yells and I see Blair wince at the volume. “I’m talking to my friend, Jim, here. You’re just a tool, an added incentive, if you will, for Jim to do what I want him to do.”
“Which is what?” I ask tersely.
“You owe me, Jim,” Chuck says. “You left me behind in Salvador after that mission.”
“We thought you were dead!” I snap out. “You were MIA.”
“Yeah, well, I guess that wasn’t your fault,” Chuck says, “but we were buddies, right, and the minute I found out about your little secret gifts, I knew you were the guy to help me.”
“Oh man, not another one,” Blair mutters. “Jim, I’m sorry.”
I know what he’s apologizing for and I just shake my head at him and pat his shoulder. We’d got past his diss being accidentally released months ago. The story had made the news for a while but eventually bigger and better stories had eclipsed it and we’d both begun to hope we could put it behind us.
Chuck is still grinning like a loon when I look back up at him. “Sweet,” he says. “You guys are still partners. You always did have a big ole forgiving heart, Jim. Anyway, this is how it’s going to happen. When I got back a few months ago I found out my wife had already had me declared dead. Fair enough, I guess, I’d been gone for over seven years. Worse thing was though she remarried and let her new husband adopt Tim. He’s nine now and I want him back. No way is some other guy raising my son.”
“Why don’t you just go to court and get access to him?” Blair puts in reasonably.
“Because, smartass, Tim thinks rich Mr. Dave Collins is his papa. Now, I love my boy and I don’t want to cause him no upset but he has a right to know who his daddy is. Jim, buddy, I just want a couple of hours with my son so I can tell him the truth.…”
“Well, that’s going to cause him some upset, isn’t it?” Blair asks. “I mean, if he thinks this Collins guy is his dad then-“
“Shut up!” Chuck yells again. He points my gun directly at Blair’s head.
“Look, all that stuff about me having supersenses was bullshit, Chuck,” I tell him, more as a way to divert his attention than because I think he’ll believe me. “It was just some crap Sandburg here was doing for a book.”
Chuck just grins at me and I know I haven’t convinced him at all. “All I want, Jim, is for you to get my boy and bring him here so I can talk to him. I spend an hour or two with him, you take him home and you and the Boy Wonder here get to walk out of here with no one any the wiser.”
“Fine,” I say. “But I need a guarantee Blair’s going to be okay. How do I know you won’t kill him to stop him talking about this the minute I leave?”
The minute Chuck tells me he’s coming with me and Blair’s staying behind, I know the hunch that has been itching at me for the past ten minutes is right.
“Jim, you can’t just go and kidnap someone’s kid-“ Blair barely gets the words out before Chuck’s in his face, snarling. He throws a piledriver of a punch into Blair’s gut with the gun and then I’m on him, hauling him away from Blair and tossing him to one side, sending the gun flying off into a corner of the room.
Chuck’s head bounces off the concrete floor and I take advantage of the fact that he’s too stunned to go after the gun. Blair anticipates me as well as he usually does and he manages to roll so he’s close to it and then bats it over to me with his hand. I’ve almost got my hand on it when a kick in my back sends me sprawling again, the impact with the floor winding me.
Blair’s throws himself at the gun as well but Chuck’s already a step ahead of us both and I hear Blair scream as Chuck rises to his feet and stomps down hard on Blair’s outstretched hand. He manages to grab the gun off the floor seconds before I can close my fingers on it.
Blair’s curled up in agony, his hand cradled to his chest, breath wheezing from his lungs. I get to my knees and crawl across to him, rolling him gently to his back. Casting a look over my shoulder, I see Chuck watching us, the gun pointing at my back.
“Easy, Chief,” I murmur as Blair tries to roll onto his side again. I hold him in place with one hand on his shoulder and check out his hand as gently as I can, using my enhanced sense of touch so as to cause as little additional pain as possible. Despite my care, he hisses in a breath and clenches his teeth down on his lip as I touch his hand. “He has at least three broken bones in his hand,” I snarl over my shoulder at Chuck. I concentrate next on his ribs and feel a crack in one and a definite break in two others. “You broke his ribs!”
“He shouldn’t have said what he did,” Chuck replies but there’s no anger in his tone now.
Blair’s panting shallowly, small moans underneath the wheezing. I keep my hand on his ribs and try to splint them so I can get him positioned more comfortably.
Chuck’s watching us curiously, his gaze drifting to my hands. “It’s true then,” he says finally.
“What?” I ask distractedly, keeping Blair still and relaxed by rubbing gently across his ribcage. His eyes are half-closed and there’s sweat beading on his pale face.
“You and Boy Wonder there. You’re doing it.” Chuck’s voice sounds different and I look away from Blair to glance at him. There’s an indefinable expression in my old friend’s eyes… regret maybe?
“Doesn’t matter,” I say abruptly. “Just tell me how you want me to do this so I can get him out of here.” I shush Blair as he tries to protest, urging him back down to the floor again.
“Jim, don’t,” he murmurs,” it’s not fair on the boy. He’ll be scared.”
“Of me?” Chuck’s standing right next to me now, the gun dropping to point at the ground. I give momentary thought to grabbing for it but quickly realize Blair’s in no condition to get up and run. “You think he’d be scared of me, his own father?”
“Can I sit up?” Blair asks and Chuck nods then moves back a few steps and motions to me to help him.
I get behind Blair and lever him up so he’s sitting against my bent leg, his head against my chest. I try to tune out his groans of pain at the maneuver, quenching the anger that is making me want to tear Chuck limb from limb for hurting him.
“Why?” Chuck asks. “He’s my son. We have a bond.”
Blair shakes his head wearily. “No. You have a bond with him, built on memories. He’s never been able to have one with you, he was too young to develop it.” He coughs and winces, grabbing at his ribs with his good hand.
“Can he have some water at least?” I ask and Chuck walks backwards across the room to a tap set into the wall near the door. There’s a table there, a rickety wooden thing with cups and plates on it. He fills a cup with water, keeping his eyes on me the whole time then walks back and hands it to me. I feed the water to Blair in small sips, telling him to take it slow then put the cup on the floor at my feet when he’s finished.
“I never knew my father,” Blair goes on. “I always wanted to, always hoped that one day he’d turn up at our door and want to see me. Maybe, on those days when I was mad at my mom for something, that he’d take me to live with him.”
“Maybe that’s what Tim wants too,” Chuck interrupts.
Blair shakes his head. “You don’t understand,” he says. “If he had, no matter how angry I was with my mom, no matter how much I’d wished to just see him in all those years, I would have been terrified to go with him.” His voice drops to a whisper again. “I wouldn’t have known him, and he wouldn’t have known me.”
“But it wasn’t my fault,” Chuck says in a broken voice. I look up at him and see tears trickling down his face. “I didn’t want to be away from him. I would have been with him while he was growing up.”
“Then that’s what you need to tell him,” Blair replies softly. “But not like this. Don’t let him think of you as some bad guy who hurt people to get what he wanted. Let him think of you as the hero you really are.”
“How? If I can’t see him-“
“I’ll help you.” I lower Blair gently to the ground, brushing a quick kiss over his hair then I stand up and close the distance between me and Chuck. “Let me talk to your wife, to the courts, let me tell them what happened to you, why you didn’t come back until now. I’ll help you get a lawyer to get visitation with your son.”
Chuck steps back and lifts the gun and I flinch, waiting for him to turn it on Blair or on me. Instead he turns it around and hands it to me. “Promise me he’ll know who I am,” he says.
“He will.” I train the gun on him, not really wanting to take the next step but knowing I have to, that we have to do this by the book.
“Your cuffs and your phones are over there,” Chuck tells me as he turns and kneels on the floor, hands behind his back.
Within minutes, he’s secured and there’s an ambulance and backup on the way.
Simon’s the first through the door when they arrive, weapon in his hand and a worried look in his eyes. He takes in the scene then walks across and kneels next to Blair. “Just can’t help yourself, can you, Sandburg?” he says, in a voice that’s a mixture of fond concern and teasing.
“Hey, I was just waiting for Jim. He’s the trouble magnet,” Blair replies. He closes his eyes as the medics surround him and nods without speaking when I tell him I’ll see him at the hospital. He knows the routine, knows I have to see Chuck processed and make out a report before I can give in to my Blessed Protector instincts and be with him.
“I’m sorry.” Chuck stops in front of the gurney they’ve loaded Blair onto. “I just couldn’t wait any longer. Your father, did you ever find him?”
Blair opens his eyes at that and smiles wistfully at him. “No. It’s probably too late for us now. It’s not for you and Tim though.”
“I hope not.” A nudge in his back gets Chuck moving past me and out to the patrol car.
I look over at Blair. “He’ll be okay, Chief. You just make sure you are.”
There’s an aura of sadness in Blair’s eyes as I pull him down beside me on our bed. I kiss his mouth then each eyelid in turn. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” he tells me but his expression belies his words. “It’s just all that stuff with Chuck made me wonder…” His voice trails off and he turns and rests his head against my shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. I’m fine.”
“You’ve been thinking about your father.”
“Yeah. Just thinking what it would have been like if things had been different, if I had known him.”
“You could ask Naomi. You told me she’d tell you if you ever really wanted to know.”
He looks up and pulls me down for a deep kiss, his unbandaged hand tracing circles over the skin of my chest, the sensation sending a wake up call to my quiescent penis. “Maybe.” He grins up at me suddenly, a flash of sensuousness sparking in his eyes, erasing the wistfulness. “Later though. Tomorrow even.” Then he pushes me over onto my back and makes love to me with hands and mouth, body and heart.
The apartment is quiet when I wake up but I can hear the low buzz of Blair’s voice coming from the living room. I pull on my boxers and pad down the stairs, sitting on the bottom riser till he finishes his call.
He looks over his shoulder at me and blows me a kiss then says goodbye and hangs up. “That was my mom,” he tells me as he walks across and sits next to me on the step.
“Yeah.” I wait, wanting him to tell me, not wanting to push.
“She’s coming over tomorrow to talk to me. Says she has some old pictures of my father.”
“Did she tell you his name? Where he is?” Suddenly the questions are bubbling up and Blair shushes me with a finger to my lips. I bite the end gently then settle back and wait for him to tell the story.
“They met in high school. Teenage sweethearts, all that stuff…”
There’s a brightness in my lover’s eyes that I haven’t seen much of since the day Chuck turned up in our lives. I pull Blair close and listen.
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Notes: With many thanks to Lyn for the stellar beta and for giving me a place to hang my imagination.