Blaze of Glory
by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: July 2005
Summary: In 2005, merryish issued a challenge to all of us “old school” Sentinel writers to come out of retirement and write fics for the clichés challenge at the LJ community ts_ficathons. This story was the result and was written for the cliché: "If we're going to die, then dammit, let's go out with a bang."
Jim wasn’t sure when today had veered off the tracks and begun to careen wildly out of control. However, it was clearly out of his control now, and he struggled to find a way to right things. Loss of control was not his favorite thing. Of course, being pinned down and nearly out of bullets was also near the top of his least favorites list.
It had started out innocently enough. He and Blair had been headed home, when Rafe stopped and asked for a favor.
“Hey, Jim! Are you heading out now?” Rafe came running up. Jim could already feel the irritation coming off Blair. Blair had plans for tonight and was not going to be deterred.
Jim tried to speed things up by skipping the small talk, “Yeah, what’s up?”
Rafe looked nervous and guilty all at the same time. “Well, I sort of need a favor. One of my informants called and wants to make a drop. Nothing big just a computer disk with some names of johns from her pimp. And see, well…”
Dammit, he had a date. Jim knew what was coming before the words even left his mouth. He chose to just wait. He snuck a glance over at Blair, who was rocking back and forth on his feet. Blair was nearly vibrating with annoyance.
Rafe put on his best, most charming smile. “Well, I have date with the good Lt. Smythe from homicide. Could you help me out? I’ve been after Janice for two weeks.”
Jim noted to himself that two weeks was a record attention span for Rafe. He stole a glance at Blair, who just raised his eyebrows. Raised his eyebrows in the “you do this, you are so dead” way.
Jim sighed and accepted his fate. “Alright, alright. Where’s the drop?”
Rafe clapped Jim on his shoulder and looked relieved. “Thanks, man. I owe you one.”
Unable to stop himself, Jim pointed out with a weak chuckle, “Actually, you owe me about twelve now, but who’s counting?”
The nervous, guilty look returned to Rafe’s face, “Man, I wouldn’t ask if I weren’t desperate.”
Feeling a little guilty himself, Jim tried to ease Rafe’s mind. “Nah, it’s okay. Where are we headed?” He glanced over at Blair as he spoke. Blair’s eyebrows seemed to climb even higher as he mouthed silently, “We?”
Rafe shoved a crumpled piece of paper with an address into his hand. “Just over in the warehouse district, down by the harbor. Thanks so much, man!” Then he was gone.
Jim and Blair walked in silence to the truck. Jim wondered idly when the silence would end. They had been headed out to some lecture at the University. Some bigwig from some place in Europe talking about something of vital importance to something. Yep, he was definitely going to pay for this one for quite awhile.
As soon as they pulled out of the garage Jim felt the cold glare from his passenger. He knew what that glare meant. It was the “I’m not saying a word until you apologize” glare.
Time to be a man and admit that he would rather go to the seediest part of town to pick up a disc from a hooker than go to some university lecture. Yeah, that would go over well. “Blair, look, it won’t take long. We’ll pick up the disc and be there before they even finish his introduction.”
Stealing a glance away from the road, Jim saw that fell flat. The glare continued without change. Only now, it came with the “I’m seriously pissed” voice. “Try again, Jim.”
This was bad. Jim noted that he might have really screwed up this time. “Blair, I’m sorry. It seemed like it was easy enough and that date seemed to really matter to him.”
Jim took a risk and decided to go for light. “Besides, this way, we could just head home after and catch the end of the game.” As he pulled up to the stoplight, Jim put on his best million-dollar smile and looked over at Blair. His smile wilted under Blair’s look.
Blair ran a hand through his hair as he spoke. “Won’t work, Jim. You knew how much I was looking forward to this lecture. I knew you didn’t want to go, but I didn’t think you’d stoop this low. You could have at least dropped me at the University on the way.”
Blair was right about that. It was just a routine drop; he didn’t really need his Guide, but something in his gut told him that he needed Blair with him.
An uncomfortable silence returned to the truck. Yep, definitely in the doghouse.
After riding the rest of the way with Blair staring straight ahead, no doubt planning his very long, very painful punishment, Jim pulled up outside the designated warehouse. No one was waiting on the designated corner.
As they stepped out of the truck, the smell assaulted him almost immediately. It was the smell of burnt flesh. There was nothing else that smelled like that. Jim immediately pulled his gun and moved protectively in front of Blair.
Blair gave him a withering look, “Cut out the drama, man.”
Jim gave a glare of his own, “Shh. Something’s wrong. Don’t you smell that?”
Blair shook his head, but didn’t argue further. He trailed Jim closely across the parking lot. As they reached the corner of the warehouse, they could see the source of the smell. A group of men stood clustered around an old car that was on fire.
Without looking, Jim knew that Rafe’s informant was in that car and that it was too late. Jim shook his head to clear it of the jungle flashbacks that were threatening to take hold.
In that split second that Jim struggled with his demons, everything went to hell. He had missed the goon who came up behind them. Missed him until he heard a strangled cry from Blair.
The man had Blair by the hair and was brandishing his weapon quite threateningly in Blair’s direction. Something clicked in Jim. He took the man out in one shot.
Unfortunately, the shot brought the others running. There was too much open area between them and the truck, so Jim grabbed Blair and ducked into the maze of crates for protection from the bullets flying through the air. He sent a few shots flying himself as he ran for cover. He knew that at least two of them connected, but there were still three uninjured, heavily armed men out there.
As they hid behind a tall stack of shipping crates, Jim checked his clip not good. Only a few left. His extra clips were safely locked in the glove box in the car along with his cell phone. God, someone should take his shield for this mess. If they got out alive, that is.
He turned to look at Blair and whispered his most pressing question, “Are you okay?”
Blair’s glare hadn’t changed as he hissed back. “Oh yeah, great. I’m not at my lecture. I’m being shot at. And let me guess, you’re running out of bullets. I’m doing just great, man.”
Jim gave him an apologetic look, “Don’t suppose you have your cell phone?”
Blair used his best mocking whisper, “Blair, it will just take a minute. No big deal, Blair.” He paused for effect, “Of course, I don’t have it! It’s in the truck.”
Jim reached out with his hearing and could hear the men moving around the outside of the crates. He heard the match strike, before he smelled the fire. He cursed under his breath, “Shit.”
Worry creased Blair’s brow, “What is it?”
“They lit the crates on fire. We’re really screwed this time, Chief.”
“C’mon, Jim. There’s got to be a way out of here.”
Jim surveyed their surroundings. The flat wall of the warehouse was behind. Stack of wooden crates surrounded them. He coughed as the thick smoke began to reach them. He could tell from the smell that they had soaked the outermost crates with gasoline to really get the fire going. Great, of all the punks to stumble across, we’ve got to meet up with a bunch of firebugs.
The only way out was through the fire and about 200 yards across the parking lot to the truck. It was foolhardy at best, but it was still better than burning to death. He could cover Blair with the bullets that he had left. Maybe Blair could at least get to the truck to get the hell out of here and call for help.
Jim turned to look at Blair. Blair spoke first, “Don’t even start with me, man. There’s got to be a way for both of us to get out of here.”
As he stared at Blair, his feelings came bubbling to the surface. “Blair, believe me, I want nothing more. But I think our best option is for me to use the ammo I have left to cover you to the truck. Once you’ve reached the truck, you can call for help and get out of here.”
Blair protested, “Come with me. You can lay cover fire while you run. I’ve seen you do it plenty of times.”
Jim just shook his head, “Blair, you’re faster than me. If we go together, I’ll only slow you down. I figure if we’re going to do this, we need to do soon. The fire is getting pretty hot. They’re going to be waiting for us.”
A look passed between the pair. Jim knew instantly they were thinking the same things. They’d been dancing around their feelings for months. Neither willing to risk their friendship for a night of passion. Both afraid that the friendly sniping would turn into a relationship from hell if put into a different context. But at the heart of it, neither could imagine living without the other, but there really wasn’t another option here. If Blair could make it to the truck and get help, Jim might be able to hold out until they arrived. If he kept moving and didn’t get caught in the fire. It was a pretty big if.
Blair finally nodded his agreement to the plan. After a smoldering glance, Jim pulled Blair to him for their first and likely final kiss. He communicated everything he ever wanted to say in the one kiss, and it felt like Blair was doing the same.
When they finally pulled apart, both were breathless.
After a moment, Jim stated the obvious, “Let’s do it.”
For Jim, the next few minutes passed painfully slowly like the slow motion conclusion to every bad movie he’d ever seen. Blair sprinted out from the crates, running for his life. Jim had been wrong about the numbers. Apparently, he’d only winged one man, so there were four heavily armed men waiting for them. As Blair ducked and weaved, Jim carefully took his shots to conserve bullets.
As his first shot hit home, two of the men turned their fire on him as the third remaining man kept spraying bullets at Blair.
After he dodged behind a new stack of crates, Jim peeked around the corner and fired two shots in rapid succession, taking down both the one firing at Blair and the one he’d injured earlier.
The last one was clearly torn as to whether to focus on Blair or Jim.
Jim glanced at Blair only about 50 yards to go. The last shooter made his decision and sent off another spray of bullets in Blair’s direction.
Jim gaped as one of the bullets hit home. Jim watched as Blair crumpled to the pavement.
Coming out from behind the crates with a growl that didn’t even sound human, he took the man out with one shot right between the eyes.
The slow motion effect was gone. Time resumed a painfully normal pace as Jim sprinted towards Blair.
As he reached Blair, his stomach churned as he saw the pool of blood coming from…his leg. Hearing Jim, Blair rolled over slowly and painfully. Jim could see the bullet had gone clean through the muscle of the thigh.
Blair smiled weakly, “Guess I zigged, when I should’ve zagged, huh?”
Jim crouched down and pulled Blair into a tight hold. Blair protested, “Ow, Jim. Jim, my leg, man.”
After a minute, Jim released Blair and helped Blair up from the pavement. Blair leaned heavily against Jim as they hobbled to the truck and the much-needed cell phones.
After getting Blair settled into the truck with a towel for his leg, Jim called for an ambulance and the necessary back-up.
Turning his attention back to Blair, a sense of embarrassment began to creep up on him. Blair spoke first though, “So, hell of a kiss you’ve got there.”
Jim decided that there was no time like near-death for true confessions. “Well, I guess I’ve been saving up for awhile.”
Blair just nodded. “Likewise.”
“So, are we good, Chief?”
An imp like grin crossed Blair’s face, “Oh, we’re good, Jim. We’re going to be even better when my leg heals.”
Jim chuckled, “So, I’m guessing we’re not going to be making Rafe pay for this?”
Blair shook his head. “Oh no. He’s definitely going to pay for making me miss my lecture. However, once he’s done paying, I think I’ll have to buy him a drink.”
Jim could hear the approaching sirens about to turn down the road. Jim stole a quick kiss before they rounded the corner. “Maybe we’ll buy him two drinks.”