A Bridge to Sight and Sound by Sammi M.As the emergency room staff moved away from the small figure on the table, one of the doctors left the room and hurried to the two anxious men pacing in the waiting area. "Mr. Sandburg, Detective Ellison, I'm Dr. Fichtner. I was the lead doctor in your sister's treatment." She held out her hand and absently both men shook hers. "I was a little surprised to see her back and I definitely wasn't happy about the circumstances."
Blair agreed, "We weren't too thrilled about this either. How is she?"
"She has a slight concussion from being hit and then hitting her head when she fell. It's not really anything to worry about as long as she's monitored for any abnormal reactions. We were able to remove the needle from her neck with a small incision and some very steady hands. It was deep, but nothing that won't heal." The woman sighed; she was not looking forward to the next part. "What concerns me the most is what she was injected with. I've taken some initial blood samples and we sent what was left in the syringe to the lab, but those results are going to take time. Since I really don't know what I'm dealing with, I don't feel comfortable starting her on anything and I'm a little concerned with what she's already on."
Jim didn't like the sound of this. "So, what you're saying is you can't do anything."
"No, what I'm saying is our hands are tied until we get some of the test results back. I would hate to prescribe something and then find out it was the totally *wrong* thing to do. Her body's already been through a lot in the past few weeks; she doesn't need to add a drug reaction to it." Eyeing the stone-like man. "Look, we're trying to help her as best we can, but there's only so much we can do. I'm going to see about getting her readmitted so we can monitor her a lot closer. While I'm doing that, if you like, you can go in and let her know you're here."
The men nodded and entered the room. Neither said a word as they stood beside Schuyler's still form and surveyed the damage. Their eyes kept straying to the huge white bandage affixed to her neck and Jim could just make out the blood that was slowly seeping through. "You know, if you stare at it long enough, it might blow you a kiss," a voice grumbled from the table.
The detective reached out his hand and smoothed an errant curl away from her eyes. "I wouldn't be surprised at all if it did. How ya doing, kiddo?"
"I'm fine. I just want to go home. I'm sick of this place."
"Yeah, well, there are worse places to be," Blair answered. "Think of it as a vacation spot where they cater to your every need."
She cocked her eyebrow at him. "Like that's how you see it. Mom told me how you hassled the doctors until they agreed to let you go home. I want that and I want you guys to do it for me."
Jim shook his head and watched a pout spread across yet another expressive face. *It's amazing how fast a 22 year old can turn into a six year old. I'm almost tempted to spring her.* He didn't like her having to stay, but it was for her own good. "The doctor wants to keep an eye on you and I can't say it's a bad thing. We want you healthy and happy."
With all seriousness, "I don't think happiness is in my future. Could you help me up, please?" The guys each grabbed an arm and gently helped her sit. Blair moved behind her so she could lean on him. "To be happy I'd have to forget one of my 'closest friends' just used my neck for a pin cushion and shot me full of whatever her little sick, but brilliant, mind concocted. I'd have to also forget how this same *friend* helped my equally demented stalker *butcher* my best friend. *And,* on top of that, my senses have started playing tricks on me."
Blair's arms tightened around her. "What kind of tricks?"
"Everything keeps fading in and out and my head is starting to feel like a bass drum is taking up residence inside."
"That's your heartbeat," her brother explained as he moved his hand over her heart. "You need to calm down. You're safe with us. Jim and I won't let anything happen to you." He gently leaned her head to rest on his shoulder and used his most soothing voice. "We're here and no one's gonna bother you ever again. You can let go cause Jim and I will be right here to watch over you. We promise."
"I wanna go home, Blair. I'm scared and I want to go home."
As the Sentinel watched his Guide soothe his sister, the guilt threatened to overwhelm him. *I should have followed the senses. They knew Telly couldn't be trusted just like they tried to warn me about Harriston. If I had listened to them rather than what I did, none of this would have happened. I could have protected them b *
The doctor interrupted his thoughts as she motioned him away from the Sandburgs. "Since it looked like your brother had done a better job of calming your sister than we had, I didn't want to disturb them." She smiled at him and he almost thought of correcting her assumption. Almost. Somehow, it felt right and he didn't want to change anything that felt right. "We have a room for her and I'd really appreciate if you guys would help me get her up there. I know she's not too happy about staying, but I think it's for the best."
Jim nodded and returned to his family. He smiled as two sets of eyes, completely different in colour but similar in need, rested on him. "They've got your room ready. The doctor asked if we'd go with you and see that you're settled. Then, maybe I can go pick up Naomi and bring her back."
"No! I'm *not* staying here." Schuy struggled out of Blair's hold and ignored his protests. "I don't want to hear it. There's nothing they can do here, so I want to go home." Begging. "Please?"
"Jim, maybe she's right. They can't do anything for her here that we can't do at home. In fact, it might be better for her if she was at her place. We don't know what this drug is going to do and if she starts screaming about being able to hear a dog bark two blocks away, they're going to want to lock her up rather than help her." Adding his own plea. "Come on, man. We can do this."
Ellison was torn. On one hand, he wanted the best care out there for the girl and he knew the hospital was the best place for her. But, on the other, this was about the senses and he knew the best *person* to help her was his Guide. Put like that there really was no contest. "Okay, Chief. I'll go talk to the doc and see what I can do. You two stay put." Pointing at them. "And this time, I mean it."
&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&"What took you guys so ?" Naomi started to ask as she opened the door. "Omigod, what happened?"
Jim understood her confusion at seeing him with a sleeping Schuy in his arms and Blair beside him looking worried. He carefully pushed his way into the apartment and moved towards the den. "Umm, Sandburg, I think that's your cue. I'm gonna put Schuy on the sofa for now." He continued his trek and left mother and son still standing in the foyer.
Naomi turned accusing eyes on her offspring. "What happened? You were supposed to be here hours ago."
"There was an incident at the hospital."
"What kind of an incident and why does she look like that?"
"I'll explain everything while I help you pack." He gently took her arm and led her towards the stairway. "I called Brenda from the hospital and she said you could stay with her for a few days. Jim and I think you should hang out there until things smooth over a bit here."
The older woman jerked her arm out of her son's hold and turned fiery eyes on him. "I am not going to stay anywhere while my children need me, no matter what you and Jim think. What happened and why are you trying to get rid of me?"
"We're not trying to get rid of you it's just things could get a little rough and you know how you are when one of us is sick." He tried to bring things down a notch. "Mom, I promise, I'll explain everything when we get upstairs. Trust me." He held out his hand. "Please?"
Naomi fought a silent battle as she kept looking from the den to Blair's hand. Finally, her hand went into his and she tearfully asked, "You promise you're going to tell me everything?"
"I promise. Are you ready?" She nodded and he followed behind her as she walked upstairs.
While his partner was handling the older Sandburg, Jim had brought the youngest one in and placed her on the sofa. He gently lifted her and slid in so she was again in his arms. When they were settled, he noticed grey eyes watching him. "Sorry. I tried to be as careful as I could."
"You didn't hurt me. I heard how worried Mom sounded and I couldn't stay asleep." She nodded towards the entranceway. "That actually went better than I thought. Mom can be quite the mama bear when she's upset over her cubs. Blair's lucky she didn't deck him."
"I don't see Naomi decking anyone. She's much too passive."
Schuy laughed, "Then you don't know my mom. When Blair was little, this doctor wouldn't let her see him because she wanted to rub him down with some healing oils. He got really nasty with her so she popped him one. Somebody called security and when they came they saw her towering over this guy with a bloody nose. I was on her left hip and she was telling him how dare he try to keep her from her child. If one of the guards hadn't stepped in between them, I think Mom would have gone at him again."
Jim was having a hard time seeing this, but he could see the sincerity in the girl's eyes. "So, what happened?"
"The doctor backed down and refused to press charges cause he knew that others had heard his comments to Naomi. We were ushered into the room and they didn't bother us any more." She sobered a bit as she fingered the design on his shirt. "They knew she was just scared. She always gets antagonistic when she's scared. Like now." Looking up at him. "This is bad, isn't it?"
"It could be; we just don't know." He tapped her ear, "Are the plugs helping?"
"Yeah, they are. I didn't know they made white-noise generators small enough to fit *in* your ear. Thanks for letting me use them. The noise was starting to get kind of loud. After nearly three months without my hearing being enhanced, it was a bit much."
The cop shook his head in amazement. "I can't even comprehend being without my senses for so long now that they're a part of me. It's funny. I still go through periods where I want to give them up, but, in the end, I'm usually thankful I have them." Smoothing the hair from her face. "How did you deal with losing them?"
"For the first weeks after Hannah died, I didn't care." She shrugged. "I think a bomb could have been dropped and I wouldn't have known. But, then, I started missing them in little ways. Sounds I was used to hearing I couldn't anymore. Night sounds that usually lulled me to sleep were gone and I suddenly found myself an insomniac. Sensors I could pick out metres away suddenly disappeared unless I was right on them. I adjusted, but it made my job that much more difficult. I think I resigned myself to them being gone forever." Whispering. "I suppose I owe her for something."
The two sat quietly contemplating what was ahead of them until Blair and Naomi appeared in the doorway with a couple of bags. It was obvious the older woman had tried to cover the fact she'd been crying as she walked in and kneeled in front of them. "How are you doing, Baby?"
"I'm fine, Mom."
"No, really. How are you?"
Schuyler gave her mother a tentative smile to calm her fears. "I just have a little headache. It's nothing to worry about."
Naomi reached out and cupped the girl's face. "It's my job. Humour me." She smiled at Jim and Blair. "Your brother tells me you're in good hands."
"The best. I'll be fine, Mom, because they'll take good care of me." The smile grew. "Outside of you, I can't think of anyone who'd do better."
"Well, I guess I can't ask for anything more." She stood. "I still don't understand why I can't stay if you guys are. I mean, if it's as contagious as they think it is, aren't you guys at risk?"
For a minute Jim looked like a deer in headlights, "Huh?" Barely catching Blair's look out of the corner of his eye. "Oh, umm, they gave us the uh last of the serum, so we're pretty safe. I'm sorry, Naomi, if you'd been there "
She nodded, "I do understand. I guess I just needed to hear it from you." Hearing the doorbell. "That's probably Brenda. I'll show her in."
As she moved away, both Schuyler and Jim tried to smack Blair. "Hey! What's that for?"
A barely contained whisper and glare found their target. "You lied to your mother! How could you do that?"
"Yeah, like I was going to tell her about enhanced senses and experimental drugs. Naomi's open-minded but really, man, that's a bit much even for her to grasp. I saved all our butts by telling her Telly went whacks and injected Schuy with an experimental virus the CDC had in storage at the hospital."
Schuyler rolled her eyes, "Way to keep it simple, Sandburg. First rule you ever taught me: make embellishments grand, but simple lies let stand. I'm surprised she even bought it."
"Bought what?" Naomi asked as she walked in with an older African American woman holding a medical bag.
"Uh, the gift. Telly had a gift at the hospital and Schuy was surprised she actually *bought* something considering how far gone she was." Jim cuffed his partner on the back of the head. "Ow!" He glared at the other man and then turned his attention to the new arrival. "Hi, Brenda. Sorry about all this, but thanks for taking Mom for a few days." He hugged her and turned her to face his friend. "Jim, I'd like you to meet Dr. Brenda DeMoss, First Team Chem. Specialist at Symmonds. Bren, this is my partner, Detective Jim Ellison."
The woman smiled and reached her hand out to shake his. "Pleased to meet you, Detective, though I wish it was under better circumstances." She kneeled so that she was about eye-level with the girl. "How's it going, Kay?"
"So far so good. How are things in the lab? Are the guys okay?"
"Hell no! They're double pissed the bitch slipped past them and got to you and Hannah. Talk about a traitor in the midst!" The woman opened her bag and pulled out a syringe not noticing how three people in the room cringed at the sight. "They wanted me to tell you how sorry they all are and hope you won't hold her against them." Smiling ruefully. "I hate to do this, but the guys really want to analyse your blood for any surprises. Are you up to it?"
The girl took a deep breath and felt the arms around her tighten, "I suppose. Tell them to put a rush on it and I'll okay the lab time. And, tell them not to worry. I trust them with my life *am* trusting them with my life."
Brenda set about her task and in no time it was completed. "Well, that's all and done. I'll make sure it's rush." She stood. "So, Naomi, ready to go and have some fun with a lady of mileage and no sense?"
The eldest Sandburg laughed, "Mileage, huh? I remember a time when that phrase could only be used when we were referring to your clunker of a car. The sense part I can accept, but mileage never." She handed her one of the bags. "If you don't mind going ahead, I'll meet you outside. Last minute instructions and all that."
Brenda nodded as she left, "I understand. I have five of my own plus all of the boys in the lab. I'll see you at the car. It's the hot-pink Rodeo."
Jim started moving like he was preparing to leave, but Naomi stopped him, "And where do you think you're going?"
"I was giving you guys some time alone."
"If I'd wanted it, I'd have asked for it. This is for all of your ears." If ever there was any doubt the older Sandburg was tough, the figure she cut standing before the three with her hands on her hips was enough to allay them. "Let it be known that I am leaving here under protest. Let it also be known that I better be updated of every change as it happens or I will personally invade every nook and cranny of your lives and do it with as much sage as possible." She saw Jim shudder. "If at any time this gets to be too much, my number had better be one of the first you call." She paused for effect. "I don't like this and I don't appreciate being shuffled out 'for my own protection.' I love you all, but if you shut me completely out of this, *may your deities help you*. Are we clear?"
Three heads nodded in perfect unison.
"Good. Now who gets the first kiss?"