And to Think It All Started with a Baseball by Sammi M.
He shivered as he realised where he would be now if the younger man hadn't shown up in the examination room he'd been in at the hospital. His heart constricted at the very thought of his world without Blair Sandburg and he shook his head. *I don't even want to go there. I wouldn't have a life without him.*
"It's hard to think about, isn't it?" A soft voice questioned from behind him. Naomi moved to his side to lean on the balcony railing. "It's not one of my favourite times to remember either."
"I'm sure." He placed his hand on her shoulder. "When did you find out?"
"Right before his ninth birthday. He'd had a nasty bout with pneumonia and he just wasn't bouncing back. " She smiled. "I'm sure you know the easiest way to tell if my Tigger's ill is if he doesn't have that internal 'spring' of his in action."
Jim couldn't help himself, "You call him Tigger?! Oh, now I've heard everything!"
Naomi hit the younger man and gave him a "behave" look. "Don't you dare tell him I told you that! He would pout me to death; I can't resist those eyes any more than you can."
For a few moments they shared an easy laughter, but soon the detective in Jim got the better of him. "Tell me about that time. I want to understand what happened."
"I don't know if I should. That's Blair's place."
"Okay, then tell me how you found out or how you felt during the time or what you did while you were waiting. Just tell me something. Please?" His eyes begged her. "Until the time he feels like telling me about it, I need "
Naomi placed her fingers against his lips effectively quieting the man. "I understand." She lowered her hand and turned to sit in one of the chairs, motioning for him to join her. "It was a very scary time for me. Like I said, he'd just gotten over the pneumonia and he wasn't perking back up. I kept trying to tell myself he was still recuperating and an illness like that took a lot out of a person, especially a child." She looked out over Cascade as she remembered. "We had these steps in that house at that time no real reason for them to be there, but they were. I had gone out to my little garden at the rear of the property for a few hours while the kids were still asleep. Something kept nudging at me and finally I just gave up and headed inside. That's when I found him." Taking several deep breaths. "His little body was sprawled on the steps and I panicked thinking he'd fallen, but when I got to him he he was just trying to push himself back up but he couldn't. I called Brenda and she told me to take him to the hospital and she'd contact one of the people she went to med school with. I knew with the questions she was asking she thought it was something bad. I didn't know how bad until a couple of days later."
Jim could tell this was hard on his friend's mother. Hell, it was hard on him; he could only imagine what it was doing to the elder Sandburg. "If you need a break, we can do this some other time."
"No, if I'm going to tell you, it has to be now." The strength that was so much a part of her son and daughter came through and she squared her shoulders. "After I dropped Schuy off with some friends, we headed for the hospital. The whole trip, he never moved from my side and he looked so frail so tiny." She paused to catch her breath. "In the emergency room, Bren's acquaintance kept asking me all sorts of questions some Bren had asked already and my fear kept growing. They told me they'd like to keep him for a few days for some tests and I said okay as long as they would be able to tell me what was wrong with my baby." Turning tearful eyes to Jim. "The nurses and doctors gave each other this look so full of pity that I almost started to lose it right then and there, but I held on and I helped them get Blair settled." Grateful as he took her hands in his and squeezed. "I thought those were the worst days of our lives because every few hours, someone was in there poking and prodding and taking blood from him. But I soon found out, they weren't even close."
~ @ ~The doctor greeted Naomi with a sad smile as she entered the inner office. He stood and showed her to the seat in front of the desk and then did something that sent her heart skyrocketing he took the seat beside her.
"Mrs. Sandburg, I'm Dr. Nelson. I've been asked to take on your son's case."
She took the hand that was offered and smiled with her greeting. "Actually, it's Ms." It took her a few moments to calm herself and look into his eyes. "What exactly do you do here that you 'take on' cases?"
"I specialise in pediatric oncology."
For a brief second, the room threatened to go dark for the terrified woman, but she managed to hold it at bay. The doctor was impressed and he was glad because he knew this family was going to need it for what was to come. "Blair has can cancer?"
"Yes." Sympathetically. "According to our tests, Blair has Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL. We'd suspected it from the description of his symptoms the fatigue, the obvious weakness, the easy bruising, his pallor and the fact that he had lost a considerable amount of weight that you gave us, but we wanted to be sure." Dr. Nelson easily leaned over his desk and grabbed some brochures and handed them to her. "Once our diagnosis was confirmed we started outlining a course of treatment.
"I know this isn't going to sound right, but he's actually quite lucky." Seeing her shock. "The prognosis is usually quite good with over fifty percent of those diagnosed living past the five years mark. With the right regimen of chemotherapy, he has a great chance of beating this. He can make it. Just from our talks, I can tell he's a very smart and strong-willed young man."
"Yes, he is. You'd be amazed at the things he does. He's so bright and fast. Sometimes, I find it hard to keep up with him. He'll probably know more about things in a few years than " Naomi's voice shook as she asked, "Why is this happening? Did I do something wrong to bring this onto my ba my son?"
"Of course not. We can't say why these things happen, but we can do everything in our power to fix them." He patted her hand. "He's a fighter and with your help, he'll make it." The doctor stood and smiled down at her. "Would you like for me to go with you when you tell him? I can answer any heavy-duty questions he might have."
Naomi stood and shook her head. "No, I think this needs to be between my son and I right now. You can come later and tell him about the treatments and what to expect." She held out her hand again and watched as he shook it. "Thank you. I'm sure Blair is going to be in excellent hands."
It didn't take long to make her way to the floor where her child waited. Because of the hours she had walked the halls trying to burn off worried energy, meditation be damned when you were facing the possibility of losing your only son - she knew all of the twists and turns like the back of her hand. Once outside his door, she called on that strength that had brought her this far. *I am going in there with a smile on my face if it kills me! I won't let him see how much this is tearing me up inside. It's positive thoughts from this point on.* With her resolve in place, she entered the room and quietly moved to the tiny, still form in the middle of the huge bed. Blue eyes surrounded by dark, bruised skin greeted her. "Oh, Baby, I hope I didn't wake you. I know you're tired."
"It's okay, Mama." He focused on her face and his little hand traced a barely seen trail. "You've been crying."
"Just a bit. I should have known I couldn't hide it from you." She took the hand in hers and kissed it. "I've been in talking to the doctor. He had the results of all the tests." Naomi lowered the guardrail, bent over until she was leaning on the bed and caressed the slightly flushed face. "Blair, do you remember Rebecca's little girl, Katie?" He nodded. "Well, do you remember when she got sick?" Another nod. "Do you remember what we told you she had?"
Blair's forehead furrowed and he seemed to be concentrating everything he had on remembering. Finally, his eyes lit up and he gave her a smile. "You said she had look-imiair."
She couldn't help it as she laughed, "Close, Baby, but not quite. Katie had Leukemia."
"Is that what the doctor told you is wrong with me?" She nodded. "So, does it mean I'm gonna die? Katie died."
"No, Blair." The tears returned as she kissed his cheeks and forehead. "The doctor said that your kind is different from Katie's. With yours, you have a better chance to beat it with the treatments. He also said that you are a very strong young man, so that should tell you something, right?"
"Is it gonna hurt? I don't like when it hurts."
"It probably will for a little while, but you'll have me and Schuyler and Bren to help you through it."
A look of fear crossed the small features. "We can't tell Schuy! She's still a baby and she won't understand. She'll be afraid I'll go away!" He started to cry. "She'll hate me because I promised her I wouldn't go away. We can't tell her. We can't!"
Naomi climbed onto the bed and pulled him close caressing his head and rocking him. "It's okay. It's okay. She knows you're not going anywhere. You're her big brother and she knows you wouldn't leave her." They continued like this for several minutes with her slowly calming him with loving words. When he finally pulled back, she smiled down at him. "Better?"
"Better." He scrunched up his face. A few sniffles found their way out before he cocked his head and blurted, "I'm gonna lose my hair, aren't I?" She nodded. "Probably. I think the medicine they give you causes that."
"Great! Now I'm gonna be just as bald as Schuy!"
The laughter forced it's way past her lips and she couldn't fight it as she hugged the precious precocious little man tighter.
~ @ ~Naomi smiled that Sandburg smile and her eyes glistened. "Thank you."
Jim was confused as he wiped at the tear tracks in between his chuckles. "For what?"
"For caring enough about him to want to know and for helping me to remember it wasn't all bad."
@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@The week flew and before they all knew it, it was the Thursday before they were set to leave.
Jim was down at the precinct with Simon, Joel, Rafe, Brown and Megan clearing up some loose ends so they wouldn't leave too much for their stand-ins. It had taken some doing actually, Naomi had a few words with Chief Warren about something no one could pry out of her but all of them had been able to take the long weekend, Friday through Monday, off.
The elder Sandburg had decided to spend the night at her daughter's place where she could meditate and cleanse herself properly leaving the loft to the younger ones.
They sat quietly just staring out the windows, drinking juices and Schuy's head on her brother's shoulder. "What are you thinking about?"
Blair shrugged. "Nothing. Everything and then some."
"I'm being serious, Goofball."
"I know. I just like playing with your head sometimes. You give good reactions." She punched him. "Ow. Do you mind? You're not supposed to mess with the Guide! My people can make your life miserable."
Hamming it up. "Oh, please forgive me, sir. I knew not the error of my ways."
"Kids today. They just don't have any respect for their elders." He laughed when she made a face at him and barely caught the flicker in her eyes. They settled back into their previous positions and Blair casually kissed her forehead. "What were you thinking?"
"Nothing really, just enjoying some downtime with my favourite big brother. Of course, if you say I said that to Jim, I'll deny it."
He snorted but sobered quickly. "No, seriously. There were some pretty heavy duty sighs coming from your side. They didn't sound like they were over nothing."
"Well then, maybe they were over nothing you need to worry about."
"Doesn't work like that, Snip." He turned to look at her and raised her chin. "What's up?"
Schuyler lowered her eyes. "It's gonna sound silly."
"I doubt it, but let me be the judge."
"Fine. I'm scared."
"About tomorrow and what we're going back to. I know you and Mom have always brushed my feelings about that time aside because you think I was too young to remember, but I remember everything that happened." Her eyes met his. "I don't know if I'm ready to deal with all of that again. I almost lost you. You almost died on me and I don't know if I can handle facing all of those feelings.
"I know I seemed all gung-ho about this at first what with all the planning and getting everyone there and everything, but the more I thought about it I want to be there for you, but I don't know if I can."
Blair pulled his sister closer and gently rocked her. "You wanna know a secret? I'm not too sure about all of this either." Looking up at the ceiling and sighing. "That was one of the scariest times in my life and I can still remember the pain. I'm terrified of what being there again is going to bring up, but that's what makes it so important. We have to remember or else all of that would have been for nothing. We have to understand all of the pain and feelings, so we can help others with what they have to deal with."
"So, you're going to just walk in there with a stiff upper lip and treat it like another 'learning' experience?"
"Hell no! I'm gonna walk in there and probably take one look at the place and burst into tears. I'm probably going to be a mess, but I'm going to be a living mess and one that's going to take all of that and turn it into something positive. And, even though you don't believe it, you're gonna do the same. It's who we are "
"And who we were meant to be" she whispered, finishing the thought as she wiped her eyes. "Don't you ever get tired of being the strong one? I mean, I know everyone looks at Jim as being the tough one in the team, but you're the one that keeps everything going. With what you've gone through, doesn't it get tiring?"
"Sometimes. I think about everything all the fights I had to go through and the times giving up would have been the easiest thing to do. But then, I think about what I have now and I realise, I wouldn't trade it any of it if it meant I couldn't have this."
Giving in. "Well, I guess that means no matter what, we'll be at the ceremony, huh?"
"No matter what, Snip, we *all* will."