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20 October 2011 @ 10:06 pm
Fic: Laud and Tarnish 22/?  
Oh...wow...sorry...my muse went off galivanting again, but I managed to corral her long enough for another part...and it's kinda long too!

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previous parts:
{prologue} {one} {two} {three} {four} {five} {six} {seven} {eight} {nine} {ten} {eleven} {twelve} {thirteen} {fourteen} {fifteen} {sixteen} {seventeen} {eighteen} {nineteen} {twenty} {twenty-one}

Disclaimers: TS belongs to Paramount/Pet Fly. NCIS belongs to Paramount/Belisarius.

Laud and Tarnish - TS/NCIS crossover

{twenty-two}
 
*KA-REE!*
 
Meditative state sliding away, the sentinel shifted in place, his eyes opening smoothly.  The pain had settled to distant, distinct low-pitched hum. 
 
*KA-REE! KA-REE!*
 
A moment later, the roar of the waterfall filled his ears just as he felt the absence of his guide’s presence.  A frown tugged at the edges of his mouth, calm dissolving further.  Was he Called away?  Taken?  His eyes widened.  Lured upwards past the steps?
 
*KA-REE!*
 
A quick perusal of the darkness beyond the jungle thicket rewarded him with a glimpse of glowing eyes and half-formed shapes of two familiar spirit animals.  He breathed out in relief - his guide had still resisted the--
 
*KA-REE! KA-REE! KA-REE!*
 
The insistent sound forcibly dragged his attention outward he turned with a touch of irritation towards the ancient temple where a black and grey bird of prey perched on the steps.  Hooded eyes pierced him, freezing him in place.  Then the bird shook its wings out and resettled again before craning its neck downward to tap its beak pointedly on the crossbow.
 
*KA-REE!*
 
Ah.  Nodding once at the dismissal, the sentinel rose to his feet.  He flicked a glance upward, catching only a momentary glimpse of the hidden shadows in the temple doorway.  Then he circled away, walking out of the clearing, towards the beckoning waterfall.  At the cliff’s edge he paused, arms outstretched.  Water droplets swathed his skin, heavy mist soaked his vision, pounding roars drenched his hearing, and an all-encompassing deluge saturated and overpowered any other taste or scent. 
 
A feathery shiver rippled, leaving his senses tingling in its wake.
 
.....something itched....
 
Jim tried to move and sharp pain echoed in response as the heavy - and too familiar - veil of drug-induced sleep grudgingly released its talons.
 
The itch shifted away from physical to ... something else.  Something was wrong.  Felt wrong.
 
Even as he tried to force his eyes open, he scrambled in his mushy brain for information.  *Where am I?  What happened?  How--?*   Jim caught his breath as the answers presented themselves in blinding speed, surround sound, and way too much color.
 
Memories slammed into him, shuttling past in rapid rewind before braking and screaming forward again, ending in a hail of bullets, broken glass, and shrieking voices.  Then an almost overwhelming silence, followed by pain, Sandburg’s panicked voice, and a few moments of all his senses flaring at once and shorting out, rebelling in protest against the strain.
 
Then nothing. 
 
*Blair.*
 
With the thought of his partner, his senses started to report in, sluggishly and not at what he considered full capacity, but working nonetheless.
 
Stiff sheets, sharp recycled too-clean air, hollow sounds, muffled echo of voices beyond a not-solid-enough door, and an all-over ache thrumming in time with his heart.
 
*Hospital.*
 
Slowly his senses sharpened, faltering only slightly as the vaunted dials struggled to reset.  Further details began to slip into place.   Points of pain streaked along one arm and one leg, though his years as a soldier and a cop told him they were both symptoms of minor injuries.  His head, however, throbbed dully and steadily - a throb he’d felt only a few times in the past but recognized easily.  *Sensory overload hangover.*
 
The muffled echo of the hospital paging system snagged him before he lost himself in the headache.  The smells and sounds of the room were off just enough to remind him he wasn’t in Cascade.  Bu the lack of up-close noise meant he was in a private room, not the ICU.  And he could hear a very familiar breathing pattern only a few feet away.
 
Finally successful in opening his eyes, he blinked several times in the dim light cast by the small table lamp at the far side of the room.  Rolling his head just a bit, he spotted Blair, slumped in the ubiquitous hard plastic hospital chair.  Some kind soul had provided him with a blanket, which was draped haphazardly over one shoulder.  Jim squinted at it, trying to make out the design.  *Are those skulls?  With wings?  What--?*
 
His ponderings were interrupted when Blair twitched in his sleep, causing the blanket to slide down to puddle across his lap.  His hands tensed into fists and a murmur of ‘no’ slipped from between tightly clenched lips.
 
Jim cursed softly as he tried - and failed - to sit up.   Between his albeit minor injuries, the sensory headache, and whatever pain medication he was given, muscle control hadn’t returned quite all the way yet.  Swallowing hard, he wet his lips and managed a scratchy whisper.
 
“Chief.”
 
No response.
 
Grimacing, he forced himself to move towards the edge of the bed, slowly rolling over on one side.  Slowly stretching one arm out, Jim managed to brush the very tips of his fingers along Blair’s nearest shoulder.  He tried speaking again, gaining a little more volume.
 
“Blair.”
 
With a half-gasp, Blair startled awake, another choked “no” caught in his throat.  His eyes flew open and Jim easily spotted the leftover darkness as his partner surfaced from twisted memories of the last several weeks. 
 
Jim let himself fall back, more awake but still feeling sluggish.
 
Blair blinked a few times and his expression cleared and brightened.  “Jim!”  He all but leapt from his chair, absently dumping the borrowed blanket over Jim’s feet.  “How are you feeling?”
 
“Like I got run down by an armored truck.”  He fumbled for the bed controls.  “Twice.” 
 
“So you remember the bank and everything?” 
 
Shifting his legs over as Blair sat on the edge of the bed, Jim affirmed.  “Yup.  The bank, the non-appearing lawyer, the shoot-out, and everything right up until it all went dark.”  *Including the apparent reason for the bank heist - the safety deposit boxes and someone named Quint who just has to be a coincidence.* His fingers found the right button and the top of the bed moved up, giving him a better look at the blanket.  *They are skulls with wings!* “Sandburg, please tell me the hospital didn’t give that to you.” 
 
“What?”  Then he chuckled.  “Oh, the blanket?  No, Abby came by just before visitors’ hours were up.”  He tugged it towards him, twisting his fingers into the material.  “She came with this and coffee and a sub-sandwich.  I think she knew I wasn’t leaving.”
 
Jim didn’t say anything, then reached out a hand to touch Blair’s arm.  “Did you get *any* sleep?  Real sleep?”
 
Blair shrugged.  “A couple hours.  And some meditation.”  A smile appeared.  “Plus, you know, the whole, er, jungle thing.  Surprisingly restful.”
 
>...wet leaves...thunder...painpainpain...’picture a dial’...heartbeats...shadows...glowing eyes...water...KA-REE!...<
 
A hand grasped his non-bandaged shoulder, fingers digging into muscle.  “Jim?”
 
The hospital room reappeared as did Blair’s concerned eyes as he leaned forward, one hand on Jim’s uninjured shoulder, the other hovering uncertainly over the other one.  “Sorry...zoned out a bit.  It happened again.  My memory of it is always so ... disjointed.”
 
Dropping his hands but staying where he was, Blair nodded once, then rubbed at his forehead. “I think ... I think the sentinel part of you retreated there after you--”
 
“--fainted? swooned? had a spell?” Jim could hear the recrimination creeping into Blair’s tone.  *Plus he didn’t even ask what I remembered this time.  Bad sign.*
 
Blair continued, a hint of a smile touching his lips.  “After you *collapsed* out of sheer exhaustion.  Jim, I should’ve--”
 
Jim raised his hand, stopping him.  “No, not your fault.  Yes, I’m tired.  So are you.  Bad guys and bad timing.  That’s it.”
 
Long moments of silence fell between them, interrupted only by the muffled voices and hospital noises beyond their door.  Then Blair let out a long sigh, his head dropping into his hands.  He spoke in a half-heard whisper.  “You just dropped so quickly and for a moment, I felt like it was years ago and I was still new at this and we’re not where doctors sorta know what’s going on with you and I just--”
 
Jim ignored the twinges in his injuries long enough to sit up further and wrap one arm around his partner, gently tugging the younger man towards him.  He stroked his hand down his friend’s back, reassuring him of his understanding.  Tilting his head to rest his cheek against the top of Blair’s head, Jim released his own sigh.  “I know, Chief.  I know.” 

tbc...
 
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