Author Note: This story assumes the last episode never happened. Blair is still a student and an official consultant with the PD. I stole McGintyís from "Early Edition". This story was inspired by two of my favorite stories: Jean Williams' "Second Chance" (Mag 7) and "Struck By Lightening" a Bonanza story. This story has not been Betaed so all mistakes are mine.
Jim sighed as he sat at his desk. The last two weeks had been hard on the entire Major Crimes department. The successful conclusion of the Jackson Case was a relief to the Sentinel of the Great City. Jim smiled at that thought. //His city was safe from Jackson and the poison he sold// It felt good to catch the drug lord and be able to put him away for life. Everyone in Major Crimes was planning to celebrate. Since it was Friday, Brown and Rafe were leading a small group to a local pub that also served good food.
"Hey Jim? Why donít you join us? This was your case." Brown suggested.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I plan on celebrating by going home and sleeping until Monday." Jim said as he rubbed his eyes and forehead.
"What about Hairboy?"
"Blairís down state visiting friends until Sunday night." Jim wished his partner were here. Then he wouldnít have had to finish all the paper work alone.
"Whatís he doing down state?"
"Just hanging with friends who just moved back into the country. He didnít have any classes after his Tuesday class so he headed down on Wednesday morning. Iím going to enjoy the peace and quiet until Sunday night."
"Well if you change your mind Jim, weíre heading over to McGintyís at 7 oíclock."
"Thanks, but Iím too tired. Have fun and have a beer for me."
"Can do." Brown went back to his own paperwork as Jim finished up for the weekend.
As Jim was waiting for the final report to finish printing, Simon came out of his office and headed for Jimís desk.
"Hey Simon. Iím almost finished here."
"Good. After you give your report to Rhonda, you can head out. I know youíre beat, so I donít want to see you before Monday."
"Donít worry about that. Iím going to do nothing but sleep this weekend."
"Whenís Blair due back?"
"Sunday night. I have the whole loft to myself. Itís going to be nice." Jim smiled.
"Huh! Youíll go stir crazy before Saturday is over."
Jim was quiet for a moment. "You could be right Captain. That one-week has spanned into four years and the loft just isnít home unless Blairís there. This case has consumed so much of my time this week, that Iíve missed Blair forcing me to sleep and eat."
"You did well, Jim. You didnít zone once while he was gone."
"Came close a few times though." Jim stood and took the report from the printer. He handed it to Simon who smiled back.
"Well, go enjoy your weekend. Iíll see you on Monday. Is Blair coming in on Monday?"
"I donít know. Iíll find out when he gets home."
"No problem. See you both later."
"Thanks Simon." Jim grabbed his coat and headed home to crash.
The ringing of the phone woke Jim from a sound sleep. He fumbled for the phone and grumbled, "Ellison."
"Jim? Itís Simon." Jim glanced at the clock and saw that it was only 8AM.
"Simon? Whatís wrong? Itís not Monday yet is it?"
"Sorry to call so early on your day off, but I just got a call from a hospital in Longview."
Jim was instantly awake. "Longview? Simon, thatís where Blair is. Whatís going on? Is Blair okay?"
"Jim calm down. They have a patient down there that had Cascade PD ID on him and matches Sandburgís description."
"Do they know what happened?" Jim was getting dressed as he pumped Simon for information.
"They wouldnít tell me anything over the phone. They asked me about next of kin and I gave them your name and told them we would be there by this afternoon."
"I can do this alone Simon. No need for you to loose your whole weekend."
"Donít be ridiculous. Iíve seen how you drive when youíre under stress. It will be safer for all of us if I drive you down. Besides, you could use the support." Jim was about to argue more but was cut off as Simon continued. "Iíll pick you up in 30 minutes."
"Iíll be ready sir. Iíll pack a bag for Blair too."
"Good. You may want to grab your Power of Attorney papers too just in case they give you a hard time about being Ďbrothersí."
"Thanks Simon. Iíll be ready." Jim hung up the phone and quickly packed an overnight bag for himself and Blair.
Thirty minutes later, Jim was putting his duffle bag into Simonís car and they were headed for Longview.
The entire trip was done in minimal silence. Simon and Jim only spoke when needed, but other than small talk, they were both pretty quiet. Two and a half hours later, Jim and Simon were headed into the Longview hospital. They stopped at the front desk and asked about Blair. They were given a room number and Jim was up the stairs before Simon finished thanking the receptionist.
Jim was about to enter Blairís room, when a doctor stopped him.
"Can I help you sir?"
"Iím looking for Blair Sandburg. Are you his doctor?"
"Yes I am. Dr. Hough." Jim shook the doctorís hand as Dr. Hough said, "And you are?"
"Iím Detective James Ellison. Blairís my partner and brother. How is he?"
"Letís go to a private lounge and talk first." Jim was starting to get a bad feeling as Simon approached the pair.
"And you are?" The doctor asked.
Simon shook the doctorís hand, "Captain Simon Banks of Cascade PD. Blair and Jim are my men."
"Letís go somewhere private where I can tell you about Mr. Sandburgís condition."
They all walked to a private room and the doctor sat down. "Mr. Sandburg was brought in yesterday evening."
"Yesterday? Why wasnít I called sooner?" Jim stormed.
"Mr. Ellison, please calm down. Mr. Sandburg didnít appear to have any ID on him. It wasnít until someone went through his clothing thoroughly, that we found the Cascade PD consultant ID. Thatís when we called the police."
"Okay. Whatís wrong with him and what happened? Who brought him in?" Jim was loosing his patience. He wanted to see Blair.
"It appears Mr. Sandburg was thrown from an ATV. He came into the ER with a broken left arm, multiple scrapes and bruises, and a major burn on his right shoulder. At first we thought he fell near the ATVís engine and was burned, but it was discovered that he fell from the ATV because he was struck by lightening." The doctor paused to let the information sink in.
"Is he okay?" Jim asked quietly.
"Heís stable, but heís still unconscious. We set and put a cast on his arm and dressed the scrapes and burn. His reflexes seem to be okay although they are a little sluggish. My biggest concern is that heís still unconscious. He needs to wake up so we can find out what his mental state is."
"You mean he could be brain damaged?" Jim was starting to hyperventilate.
"Iím afraid so. He has a good chance of a full recovery physically. Itís been my experience with victims of lightening strikes, that the damage repairs itself, but it takes a very long time. I would recommend making arrangements for Blairís long term care."
"What are you suggesting? That I put my partner, brother, best friend in an asylum?"
"No Mr. Ellison. There are special centers for people who have suffered Traumatic Brain Injury with 24 hour care."
"Iím sorry doc, but Iím not putting Blair in one of those places. If it turns out he needs 24 hour care, Iíll give it to him."
"Mr. Ellison. This decision is up to Blairís relatives." The doctor was cut off.
"Doctor. I am the only family Blair has that matters right now and if itís legal you want, I have power of attorney over Blairís affairs in such cases as these, so it is MY decision. Now. I would like to go see Blair." Jim stood to leave.
"Mr. Ellison, I apologize. If you have power of attorney then just leave a copy at the nurseís station and there will be no more problems, but I am still recommending a full care facility for Blair."
"I appreciate your council doctor, but if Blair is going to recover from this, it will be because he is with me." Jim walked out leaving Simon to deal with the doctor.
"Dr. Hough? Jim is right. I donít pretend to understand it, but they have a special bond. They communicate and relate to each other on a different level than other people. If anyone can get Blair to wake up and to work toward his recovery, itís Jim."
"I believe you Mr. Banks. Itís just easier to let others help out. Weíre talking 24-hour care for months, if not a year. Can Mr. Ellison truly do that?"
"Weíll work something out. Iíd like to go see Blair."
"How long do you think Blair will need to stay for?"
"Heís not going anywhere until he wakes up. Then weíll see."
"Fair enough. Thank you Dr. Hough."
Simon headed toward Blairís room. He stopped and watched Jim from the doorway. //Weíll get through this boys//
Jim left the doctor with Simon and headed for Blairís room. He had to dial down his sense of smell to avoid being overwhelmed with the smells associated with hospitals and sickness.
Blair was lying peacefully propped up on his left side with his left arm resting on a pillow. Jim used his enhanced vision to scan his guide from head to toe. He registered the IV giving him fluids, every scrape, bruise, and burn; even the catheter. Jim pulled a chair closer and sat down within reach of his guide. He took Blairís hand and opened his sense of smell to register Blairís unique scent. His hearing picked up the steady breathing and heartbeat. Occasionally, a beat would miss but then settle back to normal. His sense of touch traced every bruise with hypersensitive fingers. Lastly, sense of taste checked in as Jim leaned in and kissed Blairís forehead.
"Hey Chief. Iím here now so you can wake up. Iíll take care of you buddy." Jim heard Simon approach and observe him from the door. "Heís going to be fine Simon. He has to be."
Simon entered and stood behind Jim. "Dr. Hough says he has a good chance of a full recovery."
"I just want to take him home." Jim pulled Blairís good hand to his cheek and held it close.
"He has to wake up first. If anyone can get him to wake up Jim, itís you, so donít give up."
Both men sat in silence for a few moments. The quiet was broken when Jim spoke. "If Blair needs 24 hour care Simon, Iím going to need a leave of absence."
"Weíll worry about that later. Iíll help with what ever you two need."
"Thanks Simon." Jim spent the rest of the day and evening speaking to Blair trying to get him to wake up. Simon came and went with food and to let Jim go to the restroom, but Jim never left Blairís side for more than a few minutes. Evening passed into night and then into morning.
When Simon returned from the hotel he found Jim asleep with his head resting against Blairís bed, with Blairís hand held snuggly in his hand. A nurse came in and smiled. "Heís been like that for a few hours now. They really love each other donít they?"
"Yes they do. Brothers in heart, yet still closer than that; soul mates."
"They are very lucky to have each other then." The nurse finished her rounds as Simon settled in to watch over his men.
A few hours later, Jim woke to see Simon reading a newspaper. "How long have you been here Simon?" Jim yawned and stretched.
"A couple of hours. You want something to eat?"
"Not really. Iím not hungry."
"Jim you need to eat if youíre going to keep your strength up. Iím going down to the cafeteria and Iím getting you some breakfast and you will eat it. Understood?"
"Yes sir, I understand and thanks."
"Donít mention it. Iíll be right back."
Jim found himself standing in the jungle. In front of him he saw his spirit animal, the Black Panther. The panther had something in his jaws as he approached the Sentinel. As the panther go closer, Jim saw a wolf pup in the pantherís mouth. The panther approached and released its tiny burden at Jimís feet. The wolf pup began to whimper and cry. The panther nudged the pup toward Jim as to say Ďgo aheadí. Jim leaned over and picked up the pup. Immediately the pup settled down and snuggled into Jimís arms. The panther purred. ĎHeís in your care Watchmaní, the panther spoke and melted into the jungle. Jim gazed at the baby wolf and smoothed its fur as the pup settled into sleep. As Jim looked up, the jungle faded.
The change in Blairís respiration and heartbeat woke Jim right away. As he looked up, he saw the doctor enter with Simon. "Doc heís waking up." Jim whispered. As he smoothed Blairís temple with small petting, he spoke softly. "Time to wake up chief. Open those baby blues and let me know youíre okay."
Jim was rewarded with a flicker of an eye-lid. Blair fought to open his eyes. He was so sleepy and just wanted to finish his nap, but he was drawn to a comforting voice. //Was it mama?//
Jim watched as Blair opened his eyes. He focused and looked around for a second. The next second, tears were pooling in the blue orbs. Jim immediately tried to calm Blair down. "Hey hey, Chief. Itís okay. Shhh youíre okay. Please donít cry." Blair continued to cry and look around as he tried to move his good hand toward his face. Jim noticed and moved Blairís hand close to his face. To Jimís surprise, Blair captured his thumb in his mouth and began to suck on it. Concerned, he looked at the doctor.
"Blair. Iím Dr. Hough and youíre in a hospital. Do you understand?"
Blair nodded and whispered around his thumb, "Mama?"
"Your mother, Naomi?" Jim asked.
Blair nodded again. Jim suddenly understood the dream he had. //The wolf pup was Blair. Somehow Blair thought he was a child; a very frightened child.// "Blair? My name is Jim and Naomi asked me to take care of you. Do you understand?"
Blair nodded again and calmed a little. Something inside of him told him he could trust this Ďstrangerí. "Thatís good chief. The doctor needs to check you over and ask you some questions. Is that okay? Iíll stay right here, I wonít leave you."
Blair nodded and looked toward the doctor. He couldnít get his head to move with much control, it just moved on itís own.
Dr. Hough decided to explain first. "Blair, you fell and broke your arm. You also have some bumps and scrapes and a burn on your back." The doctor checked Blairís vitals. "Can you tell me your full name?"
"Bwair Jacob Sandbwerg." Blair said without removing his thumb.
"Very good. Can you tell me how old you are?"
Blair tried to hold up the four fingers attached to the thumb in his mouth. It came out as a weak wave, but the doctor seemed to understand. "Youíre four years old?" Dr. Hough clarified. Blair nodded and glanced at Jim who smiled.
"Good. Can you tell me where you are?" Blair thought for a minute and when he couldnít remember he started to cry again. "Thatís okay Blair." Dr. Hough soothed.
"Dr. Hough? Naomi moves around a lot, so Blair probably never knew where he was from one week to another." Jim added as he stroked Blairís shoulder.
"Okay. Blair?" When the Doctor had Blairís attention again he said, "Youíre in Longview, Washington."
Jim added, "And you live with me in Cascade."
Blair smiled and said, "Loft?"
"Yes. We live in the loft." Jim was happy Blair could remember certain things, but everything seemed mixed up.
The Doctor noticed Blairís eyes drooping and a big yawn. "Why donít we let this little guy get some sleep?" Doctor Hough stood to leave. "Gentlemen? Could I talk to you in private." Dr. Hough headed into the hall followed by Simon. Jim remained to reassure Blair.
"Hey Chief. You rest and Iíll be right back okay?"
Blair smiled and closed his eyes. When Jim was sure Blair was asleep, he joined Simon and Dr. Hough in the hall.
"Well Doc?" Simon asked.
"As you gentlemen saw, Blair thinks heís four years old. His muscle tone and reflexes are still good, so Iím confident that Blair can relearn how to move and walk. The process will be long. Heís essentially a thirty-year old man who has to relearn everything. His muscle reactions are that of a newborn. Now, he should regain control with exercise and therapy. Since he has little if no control over his muscles, he will be unable to make controlled movements, hold his head up, feed himself, or even be able to control his own bowels."
"So youíre saying my partner is a thirty-year old newborn?" Jim clarified.
"Yes. Again I would strongly recommend you have Blair put into a long term facility."
"Dr. Hough. We already discussed that. If Blair has to relearn everything, then I will help him." Jim said with conviction.
"Twenty four-seven, Detective?"
"Do you have any experience with children Mr. Ellison, because you will have to feed him, dress him, and change him until he relearns to use the bathroom?"
"Most parents donít have a lot of experience, itís learning as you go. Iím willing to take over his full care."
"Very well, Mr. Ellison. Iíll make arrangements to have his physical therapy appointments up in Cascade. Iíll also have maternity bring up a newborn care packet. Iíll put together his medicines and after discharge care instructions."
"When can we take him home?" Simon asked.
"Iíd like him to stay one more night. That will give us some time to make sure his vitals are strong and that he can eat solid foods without any trouble. It will also give you some time to prepare for Blairís trip. The maternity councilor will be by and will discuss what structures will need to be in place for Blair when he goes home."
"Thank you Doctor." Jim shook the manís hand again.
"You have a long haul ahead of you Detective. At least Blair appears to have the language skills of a four-year old. That should cut down on the crying. Heís going to need a lot of reassurance and comfort while he relearns everything. His memory may come back quicker than his body. You saw how he knew your home was the loft, where he didnít remember you. Information is all mixed up in his head and it will take time to rearrange it and put all the information back where it belongs."
"Should we ask him questions to jog his memory?" Simon asked.
"You can as long as you donít pressure him. Itís got to be frustrating not being able to remember when you know you should. Try to keep him calm and donít upset him with a lot of questions. I suggest you just answer his questions as honestly as you can and go from there. If youíre really concerned you can have his family doctor check him out. I would suggest you do that anyway to make sure the burns and abrasions are healing properly. Anymore questions gentlemen?"
"Not right now Dr. Hough. Thank you again. Iíll take good care of Blair." Jim shook the Doctorís hand again and went back to sit with Blair. Simon said his good-byes also and went to get Jim something to eat.
Simon decided to put a call into the office and get assistance with preparing for Blairís return home. He contacted Rafe and Brown and gave them a list of things needed at the loft. He would drive back to Cascade and set everything up and then return to pick up Jim and Blair.
Jim on the other hand, was getting a crash course on how to take care of a 30 year-old baby who thinks heís four years old. The nurses had the task of getting Blair to eat.
"Mr. Ellison, itís just not working. We spoon it in and his reflexes arenít fast enough. He just pushes most of it out. Iím afraid weíre going to have to try a bottle."
"What about one of those sippy cups?"
"We tried it. He needs solid foods and we can mix the rice cereal into the Ensure in a bottle and he will get enough to eat. Unfortunately, doing it that way, heís going to need to eat more often until he can be spoon fed."
Jim sighed. He didnít know what being bottle-fed was going to do to his "four year-old" roommate. He had been told that four year-olds were fiercely independent. "Letís try it, but I have a feeling heís going to fight it." Jim saw Simon exit the elevator. "Iíll be right back." Jim headed for his Captain.
"Iím heading out Jim. Rafe and Brown will meet me at your place and weíll set up the place. Iíll be back tomorrow to pick you two up, after lunch."
"Did they find everything?" Jim asked.
"Everything but the travel seat, but Brown had an idea to fix that, so donít worry about anything except Blair. Iíll be back tomorrow."
"Thanks Simon. Tell the guys thanks too. I really appreciate the help."
"No problem Jim. Youíre going to need it. Have they gotten him to eat yet?"
"No. The nurse is getting a bottle ready and theyíre going to try that. I donít know how heís going to take it though."
"Heíll be okay. Kids are pretty resilient. Just explain things to him. The real Blair is in their somewhere."
"Thanks Simon. I better get back before they feed him with me gone."
"See you later Jim. Call if you need anything before tomorrow."
"Will do Captain. Thanks." Jim headed back to Blairís room as Simon headed out. When Jim entered Blairís room he knew something was wrong. Blairís heart rate was racing and he could smell the salty tears. The nurse was trying to sooth him but Blair was only getting more agitated. Jim quickly went to his partner and gathered him into a hug. Blair whimpered as he clung to Jim.
"Sh. Itís okay Blair. I have you. Can you tell me whatís wrong?" Jim looked at the nurse at the same time with the same question. Blair shook his head but the nurse said, "I was just going to help him eat, but as I explained about the bottle, he got upset."
Blair was crying softly now. As Jim rubbed Blairís back he said, "Chief? You have to eat. I want to be able to take you home tomorrow."
"No bottle." Blair whispered.
"Blair? Itís the only way right now."
"No. Iís big boy."
"I know you are buddy, but do you remember what the doctor said about the accident?" After Blairís nod, Jim continued. "He said your body thinks itís a baby, while your brain says youíre four. We have to relearn how to do lots of things."
"Wik goiní potty?" Blair asked.
"Yes. Like going potty." Jim smiled. "Iíll teach you how to eat by yourself, use the potty and how to crawl and walk. We can do all those things together. Okay?"
"Good." Jim reached out and took the bottle from the nurse. He noticed the thick mixture was cool now so he turned to the nurse and smiled. "Would you warm this again please?"
"Certainly. Iíll be right back." The nurse hurried out to re-warm Blairís lunch, while Jim sat and talked with Blair. Blair was close to falling asleep when the nurse returned. Jim took the bottle and checked the temperature of the mixture with sentinel senses. When he was satisfied it was perfect, he shifted Blair in his arms and placed the bottleís nipple at Blairís lips. Since Blair was almost asleep, he opened his mouth and instinctively suckled from the bottle. As Blair drank the last of the bottle, he fell into a peaceful sleep. The nurse smiled at the tenderness the older man showed for his ailing partner.
"He doesnít remember you, but he trusts you."
Jim looked up at the nurse. He had been so focused on Blair that heíd forgotten she was in the room. "We have a bond."
The nurse seemed to understand and accept the simple statement. She smiled and took the empty bottle from Jim. "Let me know when he wakes up, and Iíll show you how to change his Depend."
"Thanks." Jim settled his sleeping charge down on the bed, being careful of his broken arm. He then tucked the blankets up around Blairís neck. Leaning over to give him a quick kiss on the forehead, Jim stretched and settled down to watch Blair sleep. Before he knew it, he was asleep too.
As dawnís first rays of light started to filter into the hospital room, Blair began to stir. Several times through the night, Blair had awakened needing to be changed and fed. Each time the bottle was presented, Blair fought it, to the point where the nurses would have to reheat the Ensure/cereal mixture before Jim would convince Blair to eat.
Blair opened his eyes and tried to remember where he was. He finally recognized the hospital room and immediately started to search for Jim. Blair smiled when he noticed Jim slouched in a chair. Blair was content to watch him until he felt a slight pressure in his lower body. The pressure increased for a few minutes before it was released. A few minutes later, Blair became uncomfortable. He knew the feeling was going to get worse until he got someone, but he didnít want to wake Jim. Blair lay there, wet and uncomfortable, trying to ignore the wetness and not cry. Silent tears were streaming down Blairís face without him even realizing it.
Jimís nose twitched. His heightened sense of smell picked up the distress of his guide and he woke up. Wiping the sleep from his eyes, Jim focused on what woke him up. He noticed Blair was awake and was crying. He got up to go to his partner, when his nose caught another smell, telling him why Blair was upset. Jim pushed the nurse call button and then trying to calm his guide.
"Sh Blair. Itís okay. Are you awake buddy?" Blair nodded. "Why donít you open those baby blues for me and give me a smile?"
Blair opened his eyes and smiled at Jim. As Jim wiped his tears off Blairís cheeks, Blair whispered, "Iís wet."
"I know. As soon as the nurse gets here, Iíll change you into something dry. Then weíll get you dressed. Weíre going home today after lunch."
"Yes really, Blair. As soon as the doctor says so and Uncle Simon gets back."
"Unca Simon?" A flash of a tall black man came to Blair. "Captain?"
"Yep. He went to make sure everything was okay at home and will be back after lunch. Okay?"
"Kay." The nurse arrived with a dry Depend and a clean set of sheets. Jim quickly changed Blair and then wrapped him in a blanket, pinning his arms and legs into a tight cocoon. He picked Blair up and settled them both into the rocking chair maternity brought up. The nurse then proceeded to change the sheets on the bed. As Jim rocked Blair, a second nurse brought Jim a bottle. Blair began to argue. "No want."
"Blair. I donít want to have to explain every time itís time to eat. I promise, we will try a cup every few days and when you can keep enough food and water in your mouth, we will get rid of the bottle, but I donít want to argue with you at every meal. These poor nurses have had to reheat your bottle several times because you fight it. Next time the bottle gets cold, youíll eat it cold if you argue."
Blair started to cry. "Not fawr."
"Is it fair to make the nurses job harder? I need your help here Chief. I promise you wonít need the bottle for any longer than needed for you to heal. Okay?"
"I promise. Now letís get you fed and back into bed for a nap."
Simon was exhausted. He had been up late last night making sure the loft was Ďchild proofí. He laughed. //Child proof, but was it Sandburg proof// Rafe and Brown had helped with shopping for the roommates. There was now plenty of Ensure, baby cereal, bottled water, Depends, and jarred baby food for several weeks. Simon had put a bed rail on Blairís futon and put up a tall baby gate across the bottom of the loft bedroom stairs. Brown had borrowed some safety apparatus from a friend who works with the developmental disabled to create a safety seat for Jimís truck. Simon decided to use the truck to bring Jim and Blair home since the Ďseatí would stay in Jimís truck for as long as it was needed.
With all of the major work finished, calls made to the University, and paperwork for Jimís leave of absence all taken care of, Simon grabbed a couple hours of sleep before heading back to Longview. When he entered the hospital, he met Dr. Hough in the elevator.
"Doc. Howís Blair?"
"Doing well. Heís eating, even though heís not happy about using a bottle. He should be ready after lunch. I hope Mr. Ellison is aware of the type of responsibility heís taking on. Itís hard work raising a normal child, but itís even harder to take care of an adult who thinks and acts like a child."
"Heíll have help doc. Major Crimes is like a family. We take care of our own, and Jim and Blair are part of that family."
"I was under the understanding that Mr. Sandburg was a grad student at Rainier."
"He is, but heís also Jimís partner and an official consultant with Major Crimes."
The elevator opened and both men headed to Blairís room. When Simon entered, he saw Jim changing Blair into a clean Depend and clean clothes to go home in. The doctor entered behind him.
"Well, young man. Are you ready to go home?" Dr. Hough asked.
"Yes sir." Blair smiled at the doctor. Jim had said they would go home as soon as the Doctor and Uncle Simon showed up and now both were here. "Unca Simon!" Blair yelled.
"Unca Simon?" Simon said sentinel soft. Jim blushed.
"Yes Uncle Simon. Iíve been telling Blair all about you and Uncle Rafe and Uncle H." Jim said quickly.
"Oh. Well, Uncle H figured out how to secure our little bundle of energy in the truck and at the loft. Everything is set. All we need now are you two to come home."
The entire time Jim and Simon were talking, Dr. Hough was checking Blair. "Well, young man. Everything looks good. Howís your arm feel?"
"Heffy." Blair said.
Dr. Hough laughed. "I know, but you should get use to it. Have you been eating?"
"Yes sir. Iís have ta use bottal wik a baby." Blair chanced a quick look at Jim and noticed the disapproving look, so Blair added, "But itís Ďkay. I get betta fast."
The doctor noticed the exchange but ignored it. "Yes you will Blair. Soon youíll be feeding yourself and walking and getting into typical trouble."
"I no twuble. Iís good boy."
"Yes Iím sure you are." The doctor finished his last check as the nurse brought Blairís lunch. Blair was about to argue again when he noticed the slight shake of Jimís head. Blair smiled and asked, "Jim?"
"You feed me?" Blairís pleading look was too much and Jim smiled.
"Sure buddy." Jim joined Blair on the bed and took the bottle and fed Blair.
The doctor smiled and said, "Iíll go get the discharge papers and then you gentlemen can leave when Blair finishes his lunch."
"Thanks Dr. Hough." Jim said. The doctor left the room and Simon sat down.
"Heís not fighting the bottle?" Simon asked softly noticing Blair drifting to sleep as he suckled his lunch.
"Oh he was." Jim whispered back. "Until I told him I wasnít going to fight with him and I wasnít going to let the nurses warm a cold bottle if he argued until it got cold again. He had a small taste of cold Ďformulaí earlier. He wasnít happy."
"I bet." There was silence for a few minutes with the only sound in the room being Blairís gentle sucking sounds. "I called the university and explained everything to them. They asked for a doctorís excuse for the records but had no problem giving Blair a leave until heís recovered. Youíre all set at the PD also. The paperwork only needs your signature and then you will be on leave."
"Thanks Simon. I really appreciate all the help. It would have taken longer if I had to leave Blair to take care of things."
"No problem Jim." The doctor entered as Blair drifted off to sleep. Jim lay him down and listened to the doctorís discharge orders. Jim signed the papers and gathered all of their things. Simon took the bags as Jim bundled Blair up again. Normally the hospital would insist Blair ride in a wheel chair, but since he couldnít sit up or control his head, the hospital followed the regulations for newborn babies; Jim carried him out of the hospital.
Blair slept the entire ride home, while Jim dozed in the front seat. Simon didnít mind the quiet, since he understood that Jim and Blair needed the sleep. Arriving at the loft, Simon woke Jim up. He got out to carry a still sleeping Blair into the loft. Simon led the way and opened doors. When they entered the loft, Jim noticed the changes. There was a gate at the bottom of the stairs. Another around the fireplace and outlet plugs in all exposed outlets. The TV and VCR cabinet was secured with child locks on the doors. Jim settled Blair on the couch and stood against it so he wouldnít roll off.
"You should put him to bed Jim. He could roll off the couch."
Jim thought about it for a minute and nodded. "I suppose." He lifted Blair again and entered Blairís room. Things were moved around and Jim noticed the high railings on the futon. He settled Blair on the bed and took off his shoes. After covering up his sleeping guide, Jim put up the new railing. "Maybe we need another one of these for the couch?" Jim said as he fingered the railing.
"That would work, but heíd be more comfortable in his bed." Simon paused. "Does he need changing?"
Jim tilted his head and closed his eyes. He didnít detect any foul odor, so Blair was fine. "Heís okay." Jim ushered Simon out of Blairís room and went to the kitchen to make some coffee. After putting on a pot, Jim retrieved Blairís medicine from the travel bag and put it in the fridge.
"What did they give him Jim?"
"Liquid Tylenol. They were mixing it into his bottle so he got some every four hours for pain. He says he has a headache but mostly his arm hurts."
"I can understand that. Iíve had a broken bone or two."
"I need to call his doctor and make an appointment."
"All done Jim." Simon led Jim to the calendar. "I wrote the physical therapy sessions down too. Brown brought a stroller thingy if you need to go out and canít carry him. Itís in the back stairwell if you need it." Simon spent about twenty minutes showing Jim where everything was before he noticed how tired Jim looked. "Hey Jim? Why donít you go lay down? Iíll keep me ears open for Blair and wake you if youíre needed. Okay?"
"Okay Simon, but wake me up when Blair wakes up."
"I will wake you as soon as youíre needed."
"Thanks Simon." Jim wearily headed upstairs to his bed. It only took minutes for him to fall into and exhausted sleep.
Simon settled down on the couch and began a book he had started. The only noise in the loft was the soft whisper of pages being turned and dual snores coming from the inhabitants.
When Jim woke up, it took him a minute to remember the afternoon drive home and about Blair. Instinctively he extended his hearing to find his guide. Blairís steady heartbeat was coming from the living room not the bedroom. It was then that he heard the quiet whispers of Simon talking to Blair, who appeared to be giggling softly. Jim got up and headed down the stairs to see what was going on. What he saw stopped him.
Spread out on the floor, in front of the television, was a gym mat. The mat apparently had an indentation in the middle, because Blair was laying on his back, watching TV and wasnít rolling off the mat; even though he was moving around.
"Hey guys." Simon turned to Jimís voice and smiled.
"See Blair. I told you Jim was upstairs sleeping."
"Simon? I thought I ask you to wake me when Blair got up?"
"You did and I said I would wake you if you were needed. You were so tired, you didnít even notice the difference."
"Huh. Sneaky." Jim sat next to Blair and ruffled his hair. "You hear that Chief? Uncle Simon is a sneaky man." Blair giggled. "Did you eat buddy?"
Blair moved his head back and forth roughly. Jim looked at Simon.
"I changed him, but I didnít know what the ratio in the bottle was. When I asked him, he said he wasnít hungry. I did give him a drink of water out of the bottles in the fridge."
"The sports bottles with the squirt tops?"
"Yep. I popped it about half open and he did pretty well. You may want to try those with the formula mixture."
"Maybe." Jim stood up and went to the kitchen to mix up a bottle. He quickly wrote down the ratio in case Simon needed it in the future. After warming the bottle he took it into the living room and set it on the coffee table. He then went to pick up Blair. "You ready to eat now Blair?"
"No baby bottle. Other bottle." Blair let Jim wrap him up into a blanket and settle him on the couch. Jim cradled Blairís head and shoulders against the armrest and his left arm. "We can try the other bottle tomorrow, Chief. This oneís already ready."
"Unca Simon useded it." Blair was on the verge of tears.
"I know buddy, but that was just water. I need time to figure out if this Ďfoodí will work in a sports bottle." Jim lifted the bottle to Blairís mouth, but Blair wouldnít open. He turned his head into Jimís chest and cried. "Blair? Whatís really wrong?"
"Arm hurts." Blair hiccupped.
"The medicine that helps with the pain is in your dinner, so drink up before it gets cold."
Blair looked at Jim and saw him smile, so he turned his head back toward the dreaded bottle and opened his mouth.
"Thatís my boy." Blair ate and Jim used his left hand to rub soothing circles on Blairís shoulder. Simon gathered up the few things that were out and placed them neatly on Blairís mat. "Whereíd the mat come from Simon?"
"Brown. He figured it would be a good place for changes and his therapy since it can be wiped down and sterilized."
"When are the guys going to stop by?" Simon blushed like he was caught in a big lie. "I am a detective Simon."
"Tomorrow probably, if you two are up to it."
"Sounds okay with me. Whenís Blairís first Doctors appointment?"
"Tomorrow morning." Simon watched as Jim removed the empty bottle from a sleepy Blair. He then pulled Blair up a little and started to pat his back. Blair burped and then managed to get his thumb into his mouth and fell asleep. "He can maneuver his thumb by himself now?"
"Yep. He learned that one quick. Dr. Hough said it was natural for babies to have their hands in their mouths, but the fact that Blair has the control to do it so quickly, gave him hope that Blair will relearn things quickly."
"That would be nice."
Jim picked Blair up and tucked him into his bed. Then he went into the kitchen to make some dinner. "What do you want for dinner Simon?"
"Youíre not cooking. I ordered Chinese and it should be here soon."
"Chinese huh? Not Wonder Burger? Right now my guide canít lecture me on how bad it is."
"You want me to corrupt you while your conscience is unable to keep you on the straight and narrow? I think not." Simon smiled.
"Sneaky AND evil."
Dinner arrived and the two men ate and then watched some TV. Simon said his good nights and promised to bring the boys and dinner tomorrow. Jim checked on Blair once more before he went to bed.
Jim hit the alarm before it could ring. He wearily got up and got ready to take a shower. He checked on Blair and took a quick shower before Blair woke. It had been a long night with Blair waking every few hours. After getting dressed and taking a sip of his coffee, Jim heard Blair begin to wake up. He grabbed a bottle and started warming it as he went in to get Blair up for the day.
"Jim." Blair smiled at his friend. "Up?"
"Yep. Itís time to get up. We have a big day ahead of us."
"First, letís get you up and changed. Okay?"
Jim lifted Blair up and carried him to the mat in front of the fireplace. Jim quickly changed Blair and wrapped him into a cocoon to eat. He left Blair on the mat for a second to grab the bottle from the kitchen. When he returned, Blair had rolled onto his stomach.
"I Ďtuck Jim. Help."
"Where are you going short eyes?" Jim rolled Blair back over and gathered him into his arms. "I guess Iím going to have to have Uncle H put some straps on that mat to keep you from rolling away."
"I sorry." Blair chewed on his bottom lip and looked at Jim with tears pooling in his eyes.
"Hey Chief. Itís okay. Iím not mad at you. I just want to keep you safe. Okay?"
"Kay." Blair sniffed.
"Good. Letís get you fed and then ready for the day."
Blair ate as Jim explained to his partner what they were going to do today. "But before we do anything, you need a bath." The hospital smell was still on his guide and it bothered him.
"No baff!" Blair said.
Jim tweeked his nose and said, "But you stink my little guppy."
"Maybe, but you still need one." Jim carried Blair to his room and put him on the bed with the railing up. "You wait right here while I get the bathroom ready. Okay?"
"I no want a baff." Blair started to cry.
"Blair. I promise it will be painless. Just quick in and out, okay?" Blair turned his face away from Jim and managed to roll to his side. Jim smiled. "Youíre getting very good at rolling Chief. It wonít be long before youíll be crawling." Jim rubbed Blairís back. "Iíll be right back."
Jim slipped out of the room and ran a bath. He got Blairís clothes and Depend for when they were finished and put them next to the mat. He spread a towel out on the mat and got several more for the bathroom, the entire time keeping his hearing tuned into Blair. When the bath water was ready, Jim went to get Blair, who was still crying in his bed.
"Hey, come on Chief. It will be fun. Uncle H got you a rubber ducky to play with."
Blair looked at Jim. "Willy?"
"Really." Jim put the railing down and put a plastic bag around Blairís cast. Then he quickly undressed Blair and wrapped him up in a blanket to carry him to the bathroom. Jim set Blair on the floor and unwrapped him. He handed the rubber ducky to Blair who gave Jim a big smile. Quickly but gently, Jim put Blair in the tub of warm water, leaving his casted arm resting on the edge of the tub. He supported Blairís head and gave him a quick scrubbing. Using his electric wet/dry razor, Jim explained what he was doing and then shaved all of Blairís whiskers off. Blair was frightened of the sound at first until he saw it was harmless. It took Jim the longest to wash Blairís hair, but with the final rinse, Jim announced it was time to get out.
"I not done." Blair said playing with his rubber ducky.
"Well, itís time to get out anyway. The waterís getting cold." Jim went to get Blair out but Blair swatted his hands. "Wanna play."
"Young man, we donít hit in this house. Itís time to get out now. You need to listen."
"Why what? Why we donít hit or why you need to listen?"
"We donít hit because itís not nice and you need to listen to me because right now I know whatís best for you. Okay?"
"Nomi letís me do what I wants."
"Your mother isnít here, I am and you need to obey me."
"Because I said so." Iím becoming my father. "Now, itís time to get out."
"íKay." Blair pouted.
Jim lifted Blair out of the tub and back onto the blanket. Quickly drying Blair off and rewrapping him, Jim lifted Blair and took him to the mat to get dressed.
The morning tired Blair right out and he fell asleep on the mat. This gave Jim enough time to get the stroller and a travel bag with bottles and extra Depends ready. When everything was set, Jim put Blair in the stroller and headed out for their doctors appointment.
"Well, Dr. Johnson?"
"Blair looks pretty good for someone who was struck by lightening less than a week ago. His reflexes seem to be okay even if theyíre a little sluggish. Heís eating okay?"
"So far all heís had is the Ensure and cereal mixture roughly every four hours."
"Give him a couple of days and try some basic baby foods and see how well he does. The cast looks good. Are you in much pain Blair?"
Blair shook his head. He was a little scared of all these new things even though Jim had told him he had seen Dr. Johnson before.
"Well, Iím sure it hurts some so keep giving him the Tylenol. He should get it every four hours even if he doesnít eat."
"Okay Dr. J."
"How are you doing Jim? This is a big responsibility youíve taken on."
"Other than being a little tired, Iím doing good. The guys from work have been a big help."
"Good. You need a support system. Let me know if anything changes or if you need help. I know some good direct care nurses who have worked with patients like Blair, so if you feel yourself stressing out, weíll get you some additional help."
"Iíll take you up on that offer Doc. I wasnít sure how I was going to shop and other things with Blair."
"Well, if he was really a baby, youíd just take him along, but since heísÖ" The Doctor saw Jim tap his ear and smiled. "ÖA big boy." Ellison smiled. No need to upset Blair. "It would be easier to get a babysitter."
"Iís not a baby, Iís a big boy."
"Thatís true Chief, but itís just a term used for someone who stays with you and helps you when I have to go out."
"Leave me?" Blair started to cry. Jim gathered him into his arms and soothed, "No Chief. Iím not going anywhere. I promise."
"Kay." Blair sniffled and settled down into Jimís arms.
"Heís tired. Iím all done here. Make an appointment with the receptionist for in two weeks. If you need anything before that though, just call. Any questions Jim?"
"Not right now Doc."
"Good. Then get this young man home and to bed for a nap."
"No nap." Blair mumbled around his thumb.
"Weíll see how you feel when we get home, Chief?"
Blair shook his head, "No nap pwease." Blair whined.
"Weíll see." Jim picked Blair up and set him into the stroller. "Thanks Doc. See you in two weeks."
"Bye Blair. You be a good boy."
"Kay." Blair snuggled into the seat and was almost asleep by the time Jim rolled him out to the truck. He slept all the way home.
Blair didnít wake as Jim transported him from the truck into the house and into his bed. Jim smiled as he covered his sleeping guide. Not sleepy my foot. Jim raised the railing and quietly left Blairís room.
Jim was napping when there was a knock at the door two hours later. He stood up and recognizing Simonís cigars, opened the door.
Simon breezed in quickly. "Jim, is everything okay?"
"I called and just got the machine."
"I turned it down low so I could sleep while Blair is napping."
Simon sighed and sat down. "How long has the kid been asleep."
Jim yawned as he looked at his watch. "About two and a half hours."
"Good. That means heíll be rested when the gang get here with the pizza. Theyíre right behind me."
Jim was about to reply when his senses picked up Blairís increased breathing as he was waking up. "Let me get Blair up Simon. Make yourself at home." Jim entered Blairís room and smiled at the slight pout Blair gave him.
"I say no nap."
Jim laughed. "Chief, you fell asleep. I didnít make you nap. Are you hungry?"
Blair didnít respond right away, but finally said, "no bottle."
"How about we compromise. Weíll try some baby food and see how it goes first."
"íKay." Blair raised his arms up to be picked up, and Jim gathered him up into his arms.
"Letís get you changed and fed because Uncle Simon is here and the whole gang is coming over to see you."
When the gang arrived, Jim was spooning in the last of Blairís strained peas. Jim had placed Blair in a chair with a special harness designed for adults with physical limitations. The harness allowed Blair to sit up so he could eat.
"Great job Blair." Jim praised as he wiped Blairís face.
"Iís a big boy." Blair was very proud of himself.
Brown, Rafe and Megan entered the loft and set the pizza on the table. "Hey hairboy. How are you?"
"Dood, Unca ĎEnri." Blair smiled at everyone and then noticed the pizza. "I have pizza too?"
"I donít think so pal. You only just took in your first solid food. I donít want you to choke." Jim answered.
"Pwease." Blair pleaded with tears pooling in his eyes.
"ButÖ" Tears flowed freely down Blairís cheeks.
Jim was about to tell him no again when Simon interrupted. "Jim? Come here a minute."
"If you broke it up into small pieces he would be fine."
"I donít know Simon."
"Trust me. Even if he doesnít chew it, he wonít choke if the pieces are small enough."
"Okay Simon. Since youíve been a dad before, Iíll defer to your judgment."
When Jim and Simon returned to the table, Brown and Rafe were trying to cheer Blair up. "Hey chief."
"Pwease Jim? I want peeza." Blair hiccupped.
"Only if you let me cut it up into small pieces. Weíll try a couple of pieces but if you choke, there will be no more. Understand?"
Blair nodded as he wiped at his eyes. "íKay. Tanks big guy."
"Thank Uncle Simon. Heís the one who convinced me you should be allowed to try."
"Tank you Unca Simon."
"Boys? Letís eat." Simon broke up a few small pieces of pizza for Blair and set the plate down in front of him. "Have Jim feed you Blair."
"I do it." Blair reached out toward his plate and quickly grabbed up three pieces."
"One at a time Chief or Iíll feed you."
"íKay." Blair dropped all the pieces and focused on grabbing just one. It was hard work to grab just one piece, but that first taste of pizza was worth it; for Blair and everyone.
Everyone dug in with gusto and when dinner was over, the entire group settled down to watch a movie. Blair was asleep before the movie was halfway done.
"How is he really Jim?" Rafe asked after he knew Blair was asleep.
"The doctor said his reflexes are good and the burn is healing well. Heís a little shaky emotionally, as you noticed, but the doc said that was normal for a sick child. Since Blair thinks heís four, Iíve had to deal with tantrums and pouting, but his smile makes it all worth it."
"How are you Jim?"
"Iím doing alright. Itís a lot of work but the Doc gave me the number of a home health care person who helps out when I need a break or just to get out and shop."
"We can help too Jim." Simon offered.
"I know and I appreciate all that you guys have already done. Iím not sure our homecoming would have been so smooth if you guys hadnít prepared the loft and everything. Thanks."
"Not a problem babe. Weíre happy to help in anyway we can, even Blair-sitting duty. Henri added.
Jim laughed. "I may take you up on that." Everyone watched Blair sleep for a minute. "Iím gonna put him in his bed." Jim gathered Blair into his arms and carried him to bed. He quickly changed Blair and tucked him in. He settled the railing in place and watched Blair sleep for a few minutes, then went back to the movie.
Jim woke with a start. He listened to the sounds of the loft for what woke him but couldnít detect anything. He lay back down and was about to close his eyes when he heard noises coming from Blairís room. Getting up, he didnít detect any danger, so he walked down the stairs and listened to what was going on in the downstairs bedroom. What he heard confused him. He quietly opened the door and observed Blair sitting up in his bed talking to his Teddy Bear.
Jim smiled. It had been three weeks since the accident and Blairís physical progress was improving. He could sit up and grab objects better and was only weeks away from crawling. Although Jim thought the nighttime discussion was cute, he needed Blair to be sleeping. The last think he wanted was a grumpy Ďfour year oldí when he introduced the new Health Care aide that he hired to help with Blairís care. The young man didnít know it yet though.
ďBlair?Ē Jim said softly as he walked into the room. ďWhat are you doing awake?Ē
Blair turned toward Jim and smiled. ďJIM!Ē
ďChief, why arenít you asleep?Ē
ďI was wet.Ē Blair pointed toward the floor where Jim saw the discarded soiled Depend. It was then that Blair was naked from the waist down.
ďBlair, why didnít you call me? You canít sleep without your Depend.Ē Jim went to the dresser where he had supplies for this very occasion.
Blair stopped playing and saw what Jim was doing. ďNo!Ē He screamed.
ďNo what Chief?Ē
ďNo diaper. Go Ďmando.Ē
ďíMando? Whatís that?Ē Jim looked confused as he approached the bed and lowered the railing.
ďNo diaper. Wanna doe nekkid.Ē Blair pouted.
ďYou mean Ďcommandoí?Ē Blair nodded at Jimís question. ďNo Blair. When you learn how to use the potty, you can go commando, but not tonight.Ē
Jim reached for Blair and got a teddy bear in the face for his efforts. ďYoung man! What have I told you about hitting?Ē
ďNo diaper. Pwease.Ē Blair wailed.
ďYou will wear a diaper and stop carrying on like Iím killing you.Ē Jim gently pushed Blair down and was about to clean Blair up when Blairís leg pushed him away.
ďEnough!Ē Jim grabbed the pushy leg and swatted Blairís bare thigh. ďItís late and you will wear this Depend. No more fighting me or I will spank you. Do you understand me Blair?Ē
Blair, who was crying and rubbing his thigh, whispered, ďSowwy Jim.Ē
Jim changed Blair quickly and wiped away the tears running down Blairís face. ďI want you to go to sleep now Blair. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day and I donít want you to be cranky.Ē
ďWhat?Ē Blair asked as he sniffed and wiped his nose on his sleeve.
Jim quickly intercepted the arm and wiped Blairís nose with a tissue. ďDonít worry about it okay, just go to sleep.Ē
ďOtay.Ē Blair snuggled down and put his thumb in his mouth.
ďI love you Blair. Sleep tight.Ē Jim gently stroked the side of Blairís face.
ďWuff oo too Dwim.Ē Blair mumbled around his thumb.
Jim smiled and headed back upstairs to bed.