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It was supposed to have been a simple Q&A with a possible witness to a carjacking.  Instead, Det. Jim Ellison and his partner, grad student/observer Blair Sandburg, now found themselves prisoners of a man holding a sawed-off shotgun, high as a kite on who knew what.  Heíd taken Jimís gun and ordered them into a back room of the sparsely furnished, run-down house, forcing Jim to tie Blair to a chair.  He kept mumbling to himself about someone coming after him and how he wouldnít let them take him alive.

As the man, Victor Leland, was about to handcuff Jim to another chair, Jim suddenly attacked.  He knew if he allowed himself to be cuffed, he and Blair would die in this old house.  But Leland was stronger than he looked.  As they struggled for control of the shotgun, Leland managed to throw Jim into a wall, stunning him for several seconds - just long enough for Leland to regain control of the gun and turn it toward Jim.

At that moment, Blair, whoíd been wrestling with the ropes tying him to the chair, leaped at Leland, knocking the gun from his hands and knocking the man down.  Leland grabbed Blair by the jacket and slammed him into a wall.  Blair slid down with  a groan, barely managing to remain conscious.

When Leland turned, Jim was pointing his backup gun at him and ordering him to surrender.  Leland looked at him, looked at the shotgun, looked at Jim.

"Donít do it, Leland.  Donít make me shoot youÖdamn it, Leland!" Jim fired as Leland leaped at the gun, his bullet hitting Leland in the shoulder and knocking him backwards.

Jim eased forward, kneeling down beside Leland and pulling out his handcuffs.  As he grabbed Lelandís bad arm to move behind him, Leland twisted and knocked Jim to the floor, knocking his gun away.  Leland managed to straddle Jim, hands wrapping tightly around his throat.

Jim tried to loosen Lelandís hold, but failed.  Punching him in the kidneyís also failed.  Just as Jim felt he was about to pass out, Leland was gone.  Jim sucked in a deep breath, looking up to see Blair straddling Lelandís chest, hitting him in the face, over and over, a wild look in his eyes.

"Blair!  Enough!"  Jim finally managed to call out.

Blair stopped, fist raised.  He looked at Leland, who was out for the count with a bloody nose and split lips, then at Jim.  Blair scrambled to his side.  "Jim?  You OK?"

Jim nodded, rubbing his throat.  "Yeah, Iím OK.  How about you?" he asked in a raspy voice.

"Iím good."

"OK.  Call it in, get us somebody out here to take him in.  Better put in a request for an ambulance, too, Rambo."

Blair shot him a dirty look and pulled out his cell phone, mercifully still intact.  He called for backup while Jim cuffed Leland

Simon and Joel arrived at the same time the ambulance did.  They watched as Jim and Blair followed paramedics out of the house, Leland strapped to a gurney.

"What happened?" Joel asked.

"That guy was high on something," Blair said.  "He attacked us when we tried to question him about the carjacking."

"He kept raving about someone being after him.  Probably acid or PCP and heís having a bad trip," said Jim.

Simon started to say something, then stopped.  He frowned at Blair.  "Sandburg, you OK?"  Blair stood still, not answering him. "Sandburg?"  Simon reached out to touch Blairís arm.  As he did, Blairís eyes rolled back and he collapsed.  "Blair!" Simon yelled as he caught him, easing him to the ground.

"Medic!  We need some help over here!" Joel yelled as Simon cradled Blair gently against him, not wanting to lay him on the cold pavement.

Jim, whoíd stepped off to have a word with the officer who would accompany Leland to the hospital, turned at Simonís cry and ran back to his partnerís side.  "Chief?"  Jim took Blairís hand as one of the medics ran over.

A second ambulance was called, as they dared not put Blair in the same one as Leland, who could possibly be very violent when he awoke. Blair had not regained consciousness by the time it arrived, nor by the time he arrived at the hospital.

Jim stood at the waiting room window, looking out at the city.  A CT scan had revealed that the blow to Blairís head, when he slammed into the wall, had caused bleeding into the brain.  He was in surgery now, to relieve the building pressure; his doctor was optimistic that Blair would be all right once the pressure was relieved.

"He saved my life, Simon," Jim said quietly.  "You shouldíve seen him.  Lelandís at least as big as me.  He was hopped up on acid, throwing both of us around like rag dolls.  He had me down, strangling me.  I thought I was a dead man.  And then he was just gone, and I could breath again, and I look up, and Blairís sitting on this guy, pounding him for all heís worth.  I donít think he wouldíve stopped if I hadnít called him off."

"He was protecting you, wasnít he?"

Jim gave a little nod.  "Yeah, he was."  A smile played at the cornerís of his lips.  "I guessÖthat makes himÖ*my* Blessed Protector, huh?"

Simon put a hand on Jimís shoulder.  "Yeah, Jim, I guess so.  Heís going to be all right.  I have faith in him."

Jim nodded.  His reply was cut off as Blairís doctor, Daniel Marcus, entered the waiting room.  "Det. Ellison?"

"Dr. Marcus, how is he?" Jim asked, his expression anxious.

Dr. Marcus smiled.  "Heíll be fine.  Heís in recovery right now, and was already showing signs of regaining consciousness.  Weíll be moving him to ICU in the next twenty minutes or so.  You can see him once heís settled, and Iíve already left permission for you to stay with him, on the condition that you at least *try* to get some sleep on the cot to be provided."

Jim smiled.  "Yes, I promise.  Thank you, Dr. Marcus."

"Youíre welcome.  Gentlemen."

Jim looked around, and saw his relief echoed in the faces of his and Blairís friends, gathered there waiting for word.

"You see, Jim?" said Simon quietly.  "You just gotta have faith."

"Yeah.  Thanks, Simon."  Simon patted his shoulder and chewed the cigar he couldnít smoke.

A half hour later, Jim was shown to Blairís room.  They had only had to shave a small bit of hair at the back of Blairís head, easily hidden by the rest of his hair.  Blair would be happy to still have his long hair, Jim thought with amusement.  Blair was very vain about his long hair, despite the teasing he sometimes took because of it.  Jim sat down in the hard plastic chair beside the bed and settled in to wait.

Three hours later, a change in Blairís vitals alerted Jim to the fact that Blair was waking up.  He moved to sit down on the edge of the bed and took Blairís hand.  "Chief?  Blair?  Can you hear me?" he asked softly.  His voice had a slight rasp to it, from being strangled.  His doctor said it would go away in a couple of days.


"Blair?  Címon, Chief, open those eyes for me."

Blairís eyes fluttered and slowly opened.  Blair blinked, his vision clearing.  "Jim?"

"Hey, Chief.  Welcome back."  Jim smiled at him.

Blair looked around.  He frowned.  "Hospitíl?  Why?"

"Itís not important right now, Blair.  You just rest and get better."

Blair reached out to touch Jimís throat, which had an ugly set of bruises ringing it.  Blair looked him in the eye.  "You OK?"

"I am now."  Jim brushed his hand over the bandage surrounding Blairís head.  "Thank you, Blair."

"Whaí for?" Blair asked sleepily.

"For saving my life."

Blair gave a lop-sided smile.  "SíwhatÖbrothers do."

A broad smile lit Jimís face as he nodded.  "Yeah.  They do.  Go to sleep now, little brother.  Iím here, and youíre safe."

Blairís eyes were already closing, his breathing and heart rate slowing down as sleep once more claimed him.  But his hold on Jimís hand didnít loosen.  When a nurse came to check Blairís vitals a few minutes later, she found Jim sound asleep, head pillowed on one arm on the side of Blairís bed, the other still grasping Blairís in a firm hold.  She just smiled and let them both sleep.