This story is a work of fan fiction. The Sentinel belongs to Paramount, Pet Fly, and any other Powers that Be. I do not claim the characters, setting, or concept, but the story is mine (all mine--ha, ha, ha). No copyright infringement is intended, and no profit was made beyond the enjoyment of the writing. Since this is virtually the only profit I get from my job as well, there's no point in suing.

Rated: G

This story is nothing more than a h/c PWP. If you've come expecting plot, you may want to try elsewhere. Thanks to Shellie for the beta.

by Katie

There was a certain irony, Blair felt, in being attacked at the truck not fifteen minutes after his partner told him to wait there, presumably for his own safety. It was an irony he intended to share fully with Jim just as soon as he got finished being choked to death.

They had been looking for David Cavendar, a mechanic wanted on suspicion of armed robbery and the murder of his partner, John Doyle. Early that morning, Jim had gotten a tip that he was hiding out in the warehouses by the docks. The whole area was a maze of tall buildings, some in use and others left abandoned, easy ground to hide in if someone were determined not to be found. Cavendar had already proven that he wasn't willing to cooperate when Jim questioned him. A huge man with dragon tattoos curling up his thick arms, he had all but threatened to rip Jim's intestines out with the screw driver he had been holding at the time, couching his words in terms just polite enough that Jim couldn't call him on it.

Blair hadn't liked the man much at the time. He found, as he kicked ineffectually at Cavendar's kneecaps, that he liked him even less up close.

"Where's your partner?" Cavendar growled again. The big man had one hand surrounding Blair's throat, holding him up against the brick wall of the warehouse with no apparent effort.

Blair couldn't have answered if he wanted to. It was hard enough drawing in a breath, each attempt leaving his head pounding with pressure and his lungs burning. Cavendar growled, his face reddening.

"Tell me, punk."

Blair clawed at Cavendar's arm, fingernails scraping dragon scales to no avail. Black spots dotted his eyes. Jim could really show up any minute now.

With another growl, Cavendar pulled back his free arm and slammed his fist into Blair's stomach. The shock was so great at first that Blair didn't even feel pain. All he could focus on was the nauseating feeling of pressure and the harsh rasping of air against his throat as the wind was knocked out of him. For a moment, his vision went completely black. He could feel his spine grating against the brick.

Then the pain burst into his abdomen, radiating out toward his ribs like something had exploded inside him. It burned, and he needed it to stop so that he could breathe. Right now.

"I said, tell me where your partner is," Cavendar bellowed.

Perhaps he finally realized that Blair couldn't talk if he couldn't breathe, or maybe his arm just got tired. At any rate, he lowered Blair enough that his feet could touch the ground again and loosened his grip just a bit.

"Don't know," Blair gasped. Like he'd tell the Neanderthal if he did know, but he didn't have enough of his breath back to go beyond the basics.

"Too bad." Calendar leaned down, leering into Blair's face. He smelled disturbingly of onions. "'Cause if you knew where he was, I wouldn't have to do this."

With that, he hit Blair again, his fist plowing into Blair's ribs so hard that Blair was sure something had cracked. What else could explain the sharp bolt of pain that shot around to his spine? His eyes were watering from the strength of it. He blinked them clear just in time to see Cavendar pull back, and then pain went spiraling up from his belly again.

Already tender flesh exploded into agony again. Blair cried out, unable to stop himself even though he hated giving Cavendar the satisfaction. Fiery spikes shot back toward his spine and up to grab at his throat. He clawed at Cavendar's arm again and kicked at his shin, but the man seemed impervious. A knee to the groin might have made an impression, but Cavendar was too close for Blair to get more than his thigh. He wondered crazily what Cavendar's reaction would be to having someone puke on him, because that was looking more and more like Blair's only weapon.

Cavendar shook him a little. "Sure you don't know where your partner is? Tell me, and I won't have to hit you anymore."

Blair suddenly felt the urge to grin. "Right behind you."

Cavendar fell for it. He wasn't stupid enough to let go of Blair, but he did take a step back so that he could turn and look behind him. That was all the opening Blair needed. Before Cavendar had a chance to realize that no one was behind him, Blair brought his knee up, slamming it full force into Cavendar's groin. Cavendar let out a choked scream as his hand loosened on Blair's neck.

With a mighty twist that seemed to pull at all his aching muscles at once, Blair broke free from Cavendar's grasp. The truck would have been a safe haven, but Cavendar stood in the way. Instead, Blair dove to the left, intending to dart down an alley between two warehouses and lose Cavendar in the shadows. With any luck, either he would run into Jim or Jim would hear the commotion and come find him.

The plan was good, but he hadn't allowed for Cavendar's quick recovery. He was still several feet from the mouth of the alley when a huge hand closed on his shoulder, bringing him to an abrupt halt.

"Not so fast, punk."

Blair swung around. If he could knock Cavendar off-balance, he still stood a chance of getting free.

Cavendar grinned down at him, face flushed and sweaty. In the hand that wasn't holding Blair, he held a long, gleaming switchblade. The tip seemed almost bizarrely huge as Cavendar waved it in front of Blair's eyes.

"You want to play cat and mouse, you'd better remember that cats have claws." Cavendar chuckled, obviously pleased with his own wit.

Blair gulped, barely noticing the soreness in his throat as he stared, mesmerized, at the blade.

"How about you put that away and we talk about this a little bit?" he suggested, fixing a smile on his face that he doubted was very convincing. "There's no need to make this any harder on yourself than it's got to be."

"I'm not the one this is going to be hard on, punk. It'll be real easy for me, don't you worry about that."

Blair could have lived without Cavendar practicing his comedian skills just at that moment. Every time the big man laughed at his own witticisms, the switchblade danced just a little closer to some part of Blair's anatomy.

"Come on, man, think this through. My partner's out there, and he'll be back any minute when he doesn't find you in the warehouses. You kill me, and what's going to keep him from doing the same to you?" Blair was babbling; he knew it, but couldn't have stopped even if his life depended on it. Which, under the circumstances, was a distinct possibility. On the other hand, maybe his luck would suddenly take a shift and Jim would hear him and come running.

"You've already got one murder count against you. You can't afford another one. You might get out of the first, claim it was an accident or plea bargain or something, but there's no way you'll get any leniency if you kill me. Think about it. I work with cops, man. You know what happens to someone who kills a cop. You'd be lucky to make it to the trial, and if you did, the judge would throw every book in the library at you. It's not worth it. The best thing you can do is put the knife away and let me go, okay?"

Cavendar frowned, running his tongue over his lips as he thought. He smirked. "Not if I don't get caught."

"Too late."

Blair was pretty sure there had been other times when he was at least as happy, if not more so, to hear Jim's voice. At the moment, he couldn't remember any of them due to the extremely distracting knife that had been thrust against his ribcage as Cavendar grabbed him and whirled to face Jim.

Jim stood less than ten feet away, his eyes glacial as they flickered from the blade to Blair's face, then to Cavendar's. He held his gun in that steady, two-handed grip; Blair could only trust it was aimed with Sentinel accuracy at Cavendar.

"David Cavendar, you're under arrest for armed robbery and the murder of John Doyle. Put down the knife, let go of my partner, and put your hands on the wall behind you."

As calm as Jim's voice was, Blair knew him well enough to know that it promised mayhem if his demands weren't met. Yet there was no give in the arm Cavendar had thrown across Blair's chest, nor in the knife biting into the skin by Blair's ribs. It was a standoff, and Blair wasn't eager to bet on which man would out-stubborn the other.

"Not a chance, Ellison. You put your gun down, or Shorty here will be sporting a new air hole." Cavendar punctuated his words with a jerk of the knife, leaving a trail of fire across Blair's middle.

Jim's nose twitched. He was smelling Blair's blood, Blair thought with a vague excitement. Seeing Jim's abilities in action never got old. Being held hostage was another matter all together.

"I said, put your gun down, Ellison. You need proof?"

Blair thought he was braced for anything, but nothing could have prepared him for the sudden weight in his side. It wasn't pain so much as a sense of violation, of unforgiving metal piercing his tender abdomen.

Then with a jolt just as abrupt, he found himself on his knees. He saw with profound clarity the asphalt between his splayed hands and felt tiny rocks stinging into his palms. A bottle cap had been flattened into the surface with one side crushed to where it seemed to form a lop-sided grin. He couldn't breathe.

"You okay, Sandburg?" Jim asked. His hand rested on Blair's back, warm and solid. "How bad is it?"

Blair couldn't speak, even if he'd known the answer. It felt pretty bad, but a small, logical-sounding voice in the back of his head was doing a running commentary on how the body reacted much the same way to a papercut as it did to something life-threatening, so maybe if he got up the courage to look, he'd find that he wasn't hurt that badly after all, even if his abdomen was the location of a whole lot of useful internal organs that were kind of required for living, but hey, at least it wasn't his heart, right? No harm in looking on the bright side, was there?

"Blair?" Jim was still pressing against Blair's back with one hand, but the other had started to pull gently on Blair's shoulder. "I need to see how bad it is, Chief. Can you sit back?"

Not a chance in hell. Not with a knife in his side and no air in his lungs. What did Jim think he was, a miracle worker?

"Okay, we're going to take this slow," Jim said, his voice more confident than Blair thought reasonable under the circumstances. "Just lean back against my hand and let me do the work. That's right, just like that."

Blair did as he was told, his eyes squeezed shut against the pain he knew was coming. Dizziness hit him at the same time. He gasped, suddenly able to breathe again, and felt the solid bulk of Jim's chest against his back.

"Good job, Chief," Jim murmured into his ear. "That doesn't look too bad. It shouldn't have hit anything vital at that angle."

With morbid curiosity, Blair forced his eyes open and looked down. The hilt of the knife, a utilitarian black plastic scarred with hard use, stuck out of his body just below his ribs, pinning his shirt to his skin. Blood welled sluggishly out from around the blade.

"Get it out," he gasped. It was obscene; he felt an unreasoning hatred for it. Frantically, he grabbed for the hilt, only to have his hand stopped by Jim's inexorable grip. "Jim, I want it out."

"Take it easy, Chief. It's blocking the hole and keeping the blood inside your body where it belongs. I know it hurts, but we've got to keep it there for now."

Blair took a cautious, shallow breath, trying to calm himself. Panic really wouldn't help anything. The part of his mind that could be logical knew Jim was right, but he still couldn't stand to look at the hilt sticking out of his body.

"Okay," he managed finally. "Okay, I'm good. Sorry, Jim."

"Nothing to be sorry for." Jim squeezed his hand once before letting it go.

Blair could feel Jim moving around behind him, not letting go of him but obviously doing something. A minute later, it became clear what Jim was up to as Jim carefully started wrapping his flannel shirt around the hilt of the knife.

"We'll just put this on to stop the bleeding until we can get you to a hospital, okay, Chief?"

Jim was careful, but even so, it hurt. Blair tried not to squirm, tried to breathe evenly and calmly. Then Jim pulled a little too hard on the fabric, and fire burned up his belly toward his heart. He cried out, unable to stop himself. Grabbing frantically for the source of the pain, he ran into the unbreakable wall of Jim's hand again.

"Sorry, Chief, sorry. Take it easy, now."

For the first time, Jim's voice wasn't steady. He wasn't quite panicked, but he'd lost the easy confidence that he'd been using to reassure Blair. Weirdly, that did more to calm Blair than all the reassurances in the world.

"Okay," he gasped. "'m okay."

Jim squeezed his hand again. "Yeah. You are, buddy. Just hang in there for a minute while I call for an ambulance, okay?"

Blair settled back, not really listening as Jim spoke into his cell phone. He felt tired suddenly, all the adrenaline draining out of him. Jim's hand was still warm around his cold fingers, Jim's voice a familiar background hum that was a comfort as he waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Jim poked his head around the door to the ER examination room. "Hey, Sandburg."

Blair blinked at him, a grin slowly working its way to his lips. He'd been bandaged, transfused, and given painkillers. At the moment, his brain seemed to be on a time-delay, but other than that, he felt fine. Very fine.

"Hey, Jim. What's going on?"

Jim came the rest of the way into the room and dropped into the chair next to Blair's bed. "I talked to the doctor a few minutes ago. She said you could go home as soon as the paperwork is done."

"That's cool, man. I thought I was going to have to stay."

Jim grinned wryly. "The benefits of managed care. Anyway, you can rest at home better than here."

"Home is good," Blair agreed. He blinked, his eyes wanting to stay closed. For a few minutes, he let them, watching the images of the day spin in lazy, harmless circles behind his eyelids. Remembering the fear and anger and letting it slide away now that he didn't need it anymore.

"Hey, Jim?" he asked, his eyes popping open as a thought suddenly surfaced. "What happened to Cavendar?"

Jim sighed. "He's still on the loose. Simon's got a team of uniforms searching the warehouse district, and every cop in the city has his description. We'll get him."

"Hmm." Blair yawned. "Tell 'em to watch out for his right hook, man. It's wicked."

Grinning, Jim replied, "I'll do that, Sandburg."

"Oh, and Jim? We gotta talk about that whole staying in the truck thing . . . "