Title: Time to Rebuild
Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairings: Jim/Blair, Steven/Michael, Rafe/Lee (preslash) William/Daniel (slash)
Summary: What now?
Beta: By my sister Anna. All remaining errors are mine. With apologies.
Time to Rebuild
“Hello, son. How are you?”
William looked up at Steven from where he was hanging. The seatbelt literally saving his life and that of Daniel and Sally.
“Oh, I’m fine, just hanging around.”
Steven chuckled from where he knelt looking into the smashed van. “You made a funny.”
“Yes, son. Occasionally I do have bouts of humor. Though this really shouldn’t be a time for it.”
Steven reached through the broken window to touch his arm. “Oh, I don’t know. I can’t thing of a better time.”
William chuckled softly, looking at his middle son critically. “Are you really alright, Steven?”
A low, deep-throated growl. “Steven.”
William saw his son roll his eyes. “Will you just give it a rest, Watchman?”
Steven looked up. “Shut up. We need to get Dad, Sally and Daniel out of the car. Hello, Daniel, Sally. You guys alright?”
“Yes,” Daniel replied, softly. “For being upside down.”
Sally looked at Steven from the back seat of the van. “I could be better, Steven.”
Steven smiled at her. “Okay, Jim will have you out in a minute.”
“Jim?” William asked, trying as best as he could to get a good look at his eldest son.
“Yeah. Jim’s here. So’s Blair, Rafe, Michael and Lee.”
“Is everyone alright.”
“Banged up, but were okay.” Steven rubbed his eyebrow. “Ah, Dad?”
“We have no house.”
“We have no home. It’s kaput. I don’t think we’ve got much of anything left.”
“Oh, God,” William began struggling with the seatbelt. “I’ve got to get out of here.”
Steven touched his Father’s shoulder. “Easy. Let Jim do it. He’s gone Ultra-Sentinel again. Took Lee with him this time. He saved our lives. Saved Wofie, Blackie, and Barkie and Starsky and Hutch, too.” He frowned, looking up. “Hey, what about the fish?”
Steven smiled. “You have got to be the coolest brother on the planet.”
“Thank you. You’re going to have to move back so Rafe and I can flip the van back up.”
Steven touched his Dad’s shoulder. “See you in a bit.”
Suddenly William’s world tilted again and they were once again right side up. The doors to the van gave a loud screech as they where forced open by means he didn’t want to question to closely. Considering no one was standing near them.
Once free of the van he got out quickly, followed by Daniel and Sally.
“Oh, thank God. Is everyone alright?” he asked the watching boys.
“We’re pretty banged up. Jim’s got a broken leg even though right now it doesn’t show,”
Steven replied, going into his Dad’s arms
William looked over at his grown son. Not commenting on the fact that Jim now looked to be in his twenties.
“For now I’m okay. We need to get everyone to the hospital and taken care of. Especially Steven. He’s hurt worse of all of us even though he’s hiding it.”
Steven glared at Jim. “I am so going to kick your ass.”
Jim glared back. “I dare you to try.”
Steven started for his brother. “Stopped it, both of you,” William told his sons.
“Dad, Steven is holding it together by a wing and a prayer. He’s not going to last much longer. We need to get to the hospital. All of us do. I won’t have these powers much longer.”
“Stopped it, Steven.” William said, holding on to his middle son when Steven cursed under his breath and made a lunge for Jim. “Steven said your leg is broken?”
“Yes. Once my power is gone I won’t be much help. Rafe needs stitches to his forehead. Lee’s right arm is broken in two places, Michael’s right arm is broken too and he has a concussion.”
“And Blair,” William asked, softly. Blue eyes darkening as he looked over at his little son asleep or unconscious in Jim’s arms. “How badly is Blair hurt?”
Jim smiled, looking down affectionately at his little Guide. “He’s asleep. The excitement was to much for him. Blair survived the earthquake and the aftershock with no damage. Thanks to Steven.” The smile vanished. “He threw himself on top of Blair and Rafe when the earthquake hit. He saved their lives. “He...” His voice hitched. “He got hurt protecting them.”
Steven frowned at him. “Will you give it a rest? I was doing my job, Watchman. Same as you.”
“I was doing what I had to-to protect what’s mine.”
Steven’s frown deepened. “And I wasn’t?”
“Shut up, Watchman. Just shut up. I’m tired; I’m covered in pine dust. I’ll never feel the same about Christmas trees, I’ll have you know. And I’m hungry. So just shut up.”
Jim pulled Blair higher up in his arms. “And you’re hurt.”
Steven sighed. “Watchman…”
Jim’s eye’s filled with tears. “I never wanted for this to happen. Never.”
Steven tilted his head as he contemplated his brother. “Know what? We’ll talk about this later. Let’s get to the hospital.”
William looked at the his boys. All of them barely hanging on. Their weariness almost palatable. Rafe was visibly swaying, held up by Lee. He frowned, at least he thought it was Lee. Michael was rubbing his head with one hand with the other carefully cradled against him.
All of them covered in blood and grime. They had been through an ordeal he wasn’t sure he wanted to know about. Yet later he would ask, he had to know and his sons would tell him.
“That’s a good idea, Steven. But I’m not sure the van will make it.”
Jim gave him a tight smile. “It will make it. It won’t be much good for anything else afterwards, but it will get us to the hospital.”
As they climbed in he heard Steven tell Jim. “I am so going to kick your ass when this is all over, blabber-mouth.”
“You and who’s army?” Jim growled back.
“I don’t need an army. I can kick your ass all by myself. Super Sentinel or not.”
William turned back to tell them to settle down. He didn’t say anything once he saw Steven lean against Jim, closing his eyes wearily. Jim leaning right back, head resting on top of Steven’s. The sleeping Blair cradled close against Jim’s chest.
Michael was leaning against Steven’s side, with Lee resting against him and Rafe leaning wearily against his Guide. All of them leaning against one another seeking and giving each other support and comfort.
Steven opened his eyes. “Dad?”
“We need to go back to where the house was and pick up our critters. They’re hurt too. We can’t leave them by themselves.”
“Alright,” William replied, watching Steven close his eyes again, leaning heavily against Jim.
“Oh, my God.” William’s said in stunned horror as he got his first look at what remained of their home.
Nothing. There was nothing left but rubble. No, that wasn’t exactly true. In the middle of the rubble in the area that use to be Simon’s office sat an aquarium. With fish swimming happily in their tank as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
William opened the door to the van ignoring the screech of twisted metal. He was joined by Daniel and Sally as they viewed the devastation.
Off to the side well away from the rubble that was once their home was a dark blue light. Every now and then a bright flash would spark along it’s edges. Inside the blue light were their pets. Safely contained, but even from where William stood he could see they were hurt too.
William turned toward Daniel his eyes brimming with tears. “D…Daniel.”
The Shaman took his trembling hand in his. “I know,” he told him softly.
“When we left they were all in the house. Jim, Lee and Michael where making snacks for them all. Steven, Blair and Rafe were in their room. My sons were trapped in the house when the earthquake hit.” William fell to his knees on the grass. “My sons were alone in the house. They were all… alone.”
“They weren’t alone, Will,” Daniel replied, going onto his knees as well. Taking the distraught father into his arms. Feeling his own eyes fill with tears. “They are never alone. They have each other and by the looks of things they relied on the love they have for one another to get them through this.”
William wiped at the tears. “I should have been here. I should have been here for them.”
Daniel gently cupped William’s face. Wiping the tears with his thumbs. “You’re here now. We’re here for them now. Right Sally?” he asked, looking up at Sally who was wiping at her eyes with a handkerchief.
“Yes. We are here for them now. They will be alright. Come,” she offered her hand to William. “We must see to our boys.”
William took the offered hand, rising to his feet. “You’re right. We need to see to them.” He took a deep unsteady breath. “And our pets.”
He approached the blue light, touching it-it dissolved under his hand, releasing their pets. He bit his lip hard, fighting off a new wave of tears when he saw how hurt they were. Barkie wagged his tail at him weakly.
William gathered him carefully into his arms while Daniel gently picked up Wofie and Blackie. Sally picking up the cages containing Starsky and Hutch.
Once they were safely in the van William went back for the aquarium. Gently placing it in the back.
In the van he turned to look at his sons. All of them deeply asleep as if finally realizing it was okay to rest. He turned to give the watching Daniel a shaky smile.
“They’re okay?” he asked as if seeking reassurance.
Daniel nodded. “They’re okay and they know they’re safe. That’s why they’re asleep.”
William took a deep steadying breath. “Okay, lets get them taken care of.”
If Daniel or Sally notice the stream of tears coursing down William’s face as they made their way through the devastated city or the unsteady hands that wiped at them, neither mentioned it.
Once at the hospital Daniel went inside looking for help. It came quickly. Simon, a bloody bandage covering his right arm. Followed by six orderlies and nurses.
He looked inside the van. “How are they?”
William looked up. “They’re hurt. All of them have injuries except for Blair. Jim is really worried about Steven.”
“Damn. Alright.” Simon turned toward the waiting orderly. “Alert x-ray we’ll be up shortly.” The man nodded leaving quickly.
Simon cursed under his breath once he got a good look at all six boys. He reached in gently pulling Steven out. Calling to another orderly. “Take him. Careful, we don’t know how hurt he is. But there is every reason to expect it’s very serious.”
Steven didn’t react, either remaining asleep or unconscious. Next came Jim, still holding on to Blair tightly.
“He’s back to being young,” William told Daniel. “Lee, too. The worst must be over.”
Simon was curious about what William had just said, but he didn’t question it. He would save it for later.
Neither Sentinel nor Guide moved as they were carefully lifted out of the van, together. No one willing to separate the young Sentinel/Guide pairing. Michael followed, then Lee and finally Rafe. All the boys remained unconscious.
When they’d been carefully placed on gurneys and rushed into the hospital Simon turned to William.
“What the hell happened? They look like they’ve been in a war.”
“They have. A war for their lives,” William replied, feeling his eyes fill with tears all over again. “They fought to get out of a house that was suppose to be their safe haven.”
“The earthquake trapped Steven, Blair and Rafe on the third floor.”
Simon covered his mouth in shock. “Dear God.”
“Simon, please see to my boys,” William pleaded, softly. “They are my life. Help them.”
Simon touched his arm, offering comfort. “I will.”
Just then a whimper came from the back of the van. “Our pets are hurt too. They need tending as well,” William told him, trying desperately to blink away the tears.
“Alright. While the boys are in x-ray I’ll take care of them,” Simon turned to the waiting nurses. “Take them to my office, please. I’ll be there in a moment to have a look at them. And you Will-how are you?”
“I’m alright. See to my boys.”
Simon frowned. William was barely holding it together. “Come on. Let me take care of you and Daniel and Sally.”
“No. You need to be strong for them. They need you right now. To do that you need to take care of yourself. Come on.”
An hour later bandaged William sat in Simon’s office with the now casted Barkie in his lap, absently rubbing his ears.
Blackie and Wofie lay on a pile of comfortable blankets, their wounds seen to and now resting. The hamsters on the nearby coffee table with the aquarium on the bookself.
William looked at Simon, who was viciously biting down on his cigar. “Simon, my sons?”
The Doctor took the cigar out of his mouth. “They’re still in x-ray.”
William sighed heavily. “It seems like hours.”
“How are you?”
Simon smiled at his friend. “Fine. Got fifteen stitches in my arms.”
“Oh.” William’s eyes widened. “Daryl, where’s Daryl?”
“He’s fine he was coming into the hospital to meet me for that movie we were going to, when the earthquake hit. Suffered a broken leg when he was knocked down the stairs. He’s asleep in one of the rooms upstairs.”
“Damn,” William cursed softly. “Our whole family has suffered.”
The door to Simon’s office opened allowing Daniel and Sally to enter, carrying trays of food and drink.
Daniel handed William a sandwich. “Eat.”
William shook his head. “No.”
“You have to.”
William shook his head again. “I can’t, not until I know about my sons.”
Daniel sighed unhappily . “Alright. Then you ‘will’ eat.”
William smiled at him. “Yes, sir.”
Daniel returned the smile. “Hmm-will you at least drink some ice tea?”
“Yeah, that I can handle.”
William watched Sally place a bowl of fresh water down on the floor. The cats made their way to it slowly, painfully, to drink thirstily. He looked down at the puppy in his arms.
“Are you thirsty, Barkie?” The puppy wagged his tail. William smiled, rising from the chair, he place him in front on the bowl.
Once he was done, Barkie lay on the blankets between the Blackie and Wofie.
“God damn it,” William said rubbing his eyes tiredly. “The waiting is killing me.” Pacing around the small room.
“Why don’t you rest for a bit,” Daniel said, looking at him worriedly.
“I can’t. I can’t. Not until I know my boys are going to be alright.”
Simon worried at the cigar. “William?”
William stopped his pacing. “Yes?”
“What truly happened back at the house?”
“I don’t really know. Steven mentioned that Jim became Ultra-Sentinel again only this time he took Lee with him.”
“He saved them?”
“Yes. Protecting what was his.”
“Steven threw himself on top of Rafe and Blair when the earthquake first hit. Jim was really worried about him. Kept nagging at him.” William looked up, meeting Simon’s eyes. “I’m so worried, Simon. About all my sons. I consider Rafe and Michael my sons as well. They couldn’t be any closer in my heart if they were my blood.”
“They have to be alright. They just have to.”
Daniel took William into his arms. “They will be. They wouldn’t have survived the earthquake and the aftershocks if they weren’t going to be alright.”
William look at him, blue eyes brimming with tears and emotions he couldn’t release lest he complete lose himself.
“What I wouldn’t give to hear Steven wisecracking right now. Threatening to beat up his Sentinels if they didn’t listen to him. Oh, Daniel, just to hear Blair giggling. To hear them all laughing and joking.”
“And you will. It’s going to be okay.”
William rested his head on Daniel’s shoulder. “Can you guarantee it? Can you swear on everything you hold dear that it’s going to be okay?”
Daniel began rocking William gently back and forth. “I swear to you on my powers as a Shaman that your family will be alright.”
The passing of time agonizingly slow as they waited for news. Sally resting on the couch while Simon tried to do paperwork. Tried being the operative word.
William sat on the floor close to their pets, held in Daniel’s comforting arms. Listening to him pray in a language he didn’t understand, but somehow found comforting.
Suddenly the door opened startling them all. The nurse that walked in gave them an apologetic smile. “Sorry, but the phones are down. I have news on the Ellison family.”
“Alright,” Simon told her. “Tell us.”
“All of them are now out of x-ray. Their injuries have being attended to.” The pretty nurse frowned slightly. “There was something odd about Steven Ellison.”
“What? What about Steven?” William asked anxiously, standing.
When we took him upstairs he looked to be alright, not a scratch on him. But once we enter the x-ray room…”she hesitated for a moment.
“What? What?” William asked impatiently.
“A transformation took place. His shirt that had held nothing worse than dust and grime was covered in blood, quite a bit of blood. Once we took off the shirt to check, his back was a mess. Deep, deep cuts, almost to the bone as well as scratches and deep bruising. He also has three broken ribs. His arms also suffered damage, both of them are broken in several places.”
William felt his legs buckle, held up by Daniel’s strong arms. “Oh, my God,” he whispered hoarsely. “Oh, my God.”
The nurse gave him a sympathetic look before continuing. “His legs have deep bruising and cuts, but no broken bones. There is no sigh of internal bleeding, but it was close. Very, very close. The doctors have finished casting him. It took a total of two hundred stitches to close all the wounds on his back, buttocks, thighs and arms.”
Simon wiped his eyes with his handkerchief. “Damn. Damn.”
“He is by far the worst hurt of all six of the boys. Blair Sandburg Ellison the least. He suffered no ill effects.”
“Are they awake?” Daniel asked, softly, still holding onto William tightly. Afraid if he let go William would crash to the floor.
“All of them are awake, except for Steven. When I came down to give a report, the other boys were trying to wake him.”
William turned to Daniel tears streaming down his face unchecked. “I need to see them. I need to be with my boys.”
Daniel nodded. “Let’s go.”
When they entered the area where the boys were being cared for, it was to find Jim in a wheelchair by Steven’s bed pleading for him to wake.
“Come on, Stevie. You need to wake up now. Please…” he breath hitch. “Please wake up. I need for you to wake up.”
All of them were kneeling by Steven’s head. Worry clearly visible on their young faces.
“Jim,” William called out softly.
The young Sentinel looked up. “Dad? Oh, God, Dad. He doesn’t want to wake up.” Jim wiped at the tears absently. “He doesn’t want to wake up. We’ve tried everything. Threats, promises everything. He just won’t wake. Make him wake up. Please, Dad. Make him wake up,” Jim pleaded hoarsely.
William covered his mouth trying desperately to cover the scream of despair that threatened to escape.
He moved closer to where Steven lay. Touching his son’s head with violently trembling hands.
“Steven, you need to wake up. Your family is waiting for you to wake up. Sally is here, Daniel and Simon, too. They all want you to wake up. Now, son.”
There was no response from the boy on the bed. The only sign that he was alive was the gentle up and down rhythm of his back. Now covered with a heavy layer of gauze. There wasn’t an inch of his back, buttocks and legs that didn’t have some sort of bandage. The bandages bloody in spots. The only part that hadn’t seemed to have suffered damage was his head.
“I never wanted this to happen. Never. I told him not to. I told him,” Jim whispered softly.
William looked at his sons. All of them had tears rolling down their very, pale worried faces.
“Simon?” he asked the Doctor as if he could some how wake his gravely injured son.
Simon shook his head. “I don’t know. I just don’t know.”
Daniel frowned. “He’s gone to a place that’s warm and safe. Free of pain.”
Every face in the room turned toward him. “How do you know,” Michael asked, holding on to the only thing of Steven’s that wasn’t bruised or broken-his pinkie.
Daniel’s frown deepened. “I sense it.” He turned toward the little Guide, quietly sitting in Jim’s arms. “Do you sense it too-Blair?”
The curly haired little Guide nodded. “Yups. No hurt where he at.”
“Can you bring him back?” William asked the Shaman. “Can you bring him out of it?”
“He’s gone in very deeply. I can’t do it by myself, not as far in as he’s gone. How did this happen?” Daniel asked the boys.
“What do you mean?” Rafe asked softly.
Daniel rubbed at his nose absently. “For Steven to have gone to where’s he’s at someone had to have ignored his call for help. His stabilizing force.”
Everyone looked at him in stunned silence. Finally. “One of us is his stabilizing force?” Jim asked quietly, eyes becoming bluer and somehow colder. “Which one of us?” He looked around the room in an accusing sort of way. “Which one of us is it?” He said in a tone that did not bid well for whoever it turned out to be.
Daniel sighed heavily. “Did anyone feel odd? Sort of like there was a voice in your head calling to you.”
Finally a trembling hand went up. “Me.”
“Lee?” Jim frowned, glaring at the trembling Guide. “You ignored Steven?”
Lee’s blue eyes glistened with unshed tears. “I didn’t know. I thought I was hallucinating.” His bottom lip trembling. “I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t know. If I had known, I would never have ignored Steven’s call for help. Not ever.”
Rafe gathered the distraught Guide into his arms. Giving Jim a glare hard enough to freeze him solid. “He said he didn’t know. Leave him alone.”
“He ignored Steven when he needed him the most.”
Lee looked up at his Sentinel. “I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t. I would never do anything to hurt Steven. Never. You’ve got to believe me.”
Rafe kissed his Guide’s forehead. “I believe you, baby. I do.”
“Lee, it’s not your fault. You didn’t know this would happen. None of us did.” Daniel reassured. “For some reason Steven latched on to you to stabilize him. Much the same way the Sentinel does with a Guide. It is the way of the Protector.”
“Why didn’t he latch onto me?” Michael asked, hurt beyond belief by what he was hearing.
Daniel shook his head. “It doesn’t work that way.” Noting the deeply hurt look in the Michael’s eyes. “He loves you, Michael. Of that there is no doubt.”
“Then why didn’t he choose me?”
“You are a Protector as well. A Protector can’t choose another Protector to be his stabilizing force.”
“And why didn’t you mention this before,” Simon asked accusingly.
“I’ve been studying the ancient tomes of the Sentinels as you well know. All the research I’ve done doesn’t cover such young parings of Sentinel/Guides and the even rarer fact of them having Protectors as young as Steven and Michael. This is quite unusual.”
William sighed, running his hand through his hair. “Nothing about any of this has been usual.”
Daniel rubbed his arm. “I know.”
Michael rubbed his head absently. “Hmm, Daniel…”
The Shaman looked over at the suddenly uncomfortable bodybuilder. “Yes, Son.”
“Hmm, does this mean I’m going to have a Stabilizer as well?”
Daniel nodded. “Yes.” Rafe raised his hand, making the Shaman smile at the schoolishness of the whole thing. “Yes, Rafe?”
“What exactly does a Stabilizer do?”
“From what I read they do pretty much what a Guide does, except for the scenting and bonding parts. Keeps them from overextending themselves. The Protector can be a force unto themselves.”
Jim smiled. “That sure sounds like Steven.”
Daniel returned it. “Yes, it does. When a Protector does something to protect his pairings, he draws energy from the earth itself. It can be very draining. Steven, can I’m pretty sure draw power the same way Jim and Rafe do. If anyone had been aware of it I think they would have seen Steven glowing when he threw himself on top of Blair and Rafe. All his energy was on that-protecting his charges and nothing else. There was none left to protect himself. That’s why Steven was hurt so badly. If Lee had been aware of what he had to do, he could have drawn some of the power away from Steven protecting him from everything that came down. But if the Protector is hurt and the stabilizing force in his life isn’t there to stop him, he’ll go to a place where there is no pain. Just like Steven did. Especially with the incredible amount of pain he’s going to be in.”
Lee looked at him, tears streaming down his face. “I didn’t know. I didn’t know. I thought I was dreaming. I didn’t know.”
Daniel knelt in front of the young Guide. “None of us did, Lee. Plus you were unconscious the first time Steven reached out to you. You are not to blame. No one knew that Steven was going to be much more powerful than we originally thought or so vulnerable. What Steven and Michael are, is rare, very, very rare. But what you are and what one other in this group.” He smiled. “It’s going to be interesting to see who it is- is-is even rarer. You are both Guide and Stabilizer, it’s has never happened before.”
Jim gently touched Steven’s head, stroking the soft hair. “Does that mean that he allowed me to get help from the other Sentinels and Guides to protect them?”
Daniel nodded. “I think so. But I’m not sure. No one knew he had this power, not even him. So it’s hard to say.”
“But what about when Jim goes ultra-Sentinel?” Lee asked, with a puzzled frown.
“Jim is still going to be the most powerful Sentinel the planet has ever seen.” Daniel looked at the pale faces listening to him. All of them wounded, bruised and battered. “You are so very young, what you are and will be, has not been fully developed or even been fully revealed.”
“But that still doesn’t explain what happened?” Jim asked, moving closer to his brother, laying on the bed so silent and still. “Why he let me protect.”
“It does, Jim. Steven has just now come into his new powers. Powers he didn’t know he had much less how to use. You will always be able to protect what is yours. Your power may overrule his or enhance it. It’s way to soon to tell.”
Jim thought about it for a moment. A smile suddenly lit his face. “He won’t be able to do this again, if I don’t want it?”
“With Lee now fully aware, yes- I think so. He also won’t be able to hide his injuries if he were ever to get hurt like this again. Goddess forbid.”
“That takes a load off my mind. How do we get Steven back from wherever he’s gone?”
“It going to be a little tricky and you won’t be able to help, not in this.” Daniel saw Jim’s face fall. “It’s going to be alright. But this is going to take a Shaman.”
“I ‘elp. I Shaman.”
Everyone turned toward Blair.
Daniel nodded. “Good. But because Blair is so young it’s going to be a little trickier.”
Jim pulled Blair higher into his lap. “Is it dangerous?”
“Yes, but if we don’t do it we’ll never be able to get Steven back and we need to do it soon.”
Blair turned to look up at his pale Sentinel. “I do. I bing Stevie back. I be berry, berry careful.”
“Alright,” Jim agreed softly. Knowing there was no other way.
“If it helps, I’ll be going with him.”
Jim sighed in relief. “Yeah, it does.”
Daniel turned toward Lee. “You want to go too?”
Daniel nodded again. “Yes, it’ll be a lot easier getting him back if you were going. I just didn’t want to ask. You’ve been through so much already.”
“Steven is my brother. I love, him. If only I’d known, none of this would be happening now.” He looked up at his Sentinel. “Is it alright, Rafe? Can I go?”
Rafe kissed Lee’s pale cheek. The only part that didn’t have a scrape or cut or bruise. “Yeah, go get him. Just be real careful.”
“I will.” Lee turned toward Daniel. “Let’s go get him.”
Daniel went to Jim, carefully taking Blair from his arms. “I’ll take very good care of him. Blair and I need to do this together. Neither of us is strong enough to do it alone.”
Jim let go of Blair willingly. “I know, but it needs to get done if we’re ever going to get Steven back from where he’s gone.”
When Blair was in his arms he went to stand next to the silent boy on the gurney. Daniel turned to Lee. “Come,” he said offering a hand.
Lee took it with a last glance at Rafe, as if looking for reassurance. Rafe gave it with a tiny smile and a. “Go get him, Tiger.”
Lee smiled at him before turning to Daniel. “Okay. What do we do?”
“Hold on. Blair and I will guide you in.”
The Shaman turned toward the voice. “Will?”
William’s blue eyes glistened with tears. “I…”
Daniel smiled at him. “Shh, I know. I’ll take care of your sons.”
“Yourself, too. You’re just as important to me as my sons. If something happened to you…”
“Shh. Nothings going to happen to me. To any of us. Have faith.”
William gave him a shaky smile. “Always.”
Daniel returned the smile. “I love you.”
“I know and the feeling is very mutual. You do know if Steven were awake he’d be making gagging noises?”
The shaman’s green eyes twinkled merrily. “Yes, he would and making some snide comment about mushiness.”
“Yes. Bring him back.”
“I will.” Daniel turned back to the waiting boys. “Ready?”
Blair nodded his curly head energetically. “I is ready.”
“Me, too. Let’s go get him.”
“Okay, Blair do you know what to do?”
The little Guide nodded, placing his left hand on top of Steven’s head, offering the other to Lee. “I knows.”
Daniel took Lee’s free hand in his, placing his other hand on top of Blair’s. “Close your eyes. This has a tendency of making you very dizzy. Think of Steven, of all the love you have for him. Calm, steady breaths. Think of Steven and nothing else. There before you is the path, follow it. It will take you to where Steven is. Follow it. Remember we go together. We stay together. Do not stray from the path before you. Follow the path. Steven is at the end of it. Go to him.”
“Wow, everything is blue,” Lee commented in awe as they looked around. Blair standing between them, holding on to both their hands.
“That’s because we’re in an astral plane. There are many, this one just happens to be blue.”
Lee looked around. “I’m not to sure I like everything being blue.”
“Try being in an astral plane where everything is neon orange.”
Lee shuddered dramatically. “Yuck.”
Blair looked around curiously. “No see Stevie.”
“He’s here. He might be hiding because he doesn’t know where he’s at. Steven? Steven where are you. It’s safe to come out,” Daniel called out.
Blair joined in. “Stevie? We here.”
Lee looked around the really odd colored forest, trying to spot his friend. Everything really was blue. It was kinda like someone only had that color in their crayon box and went hog wild with it.
“Stevie, come out. It’s safe. We’re here,” he called softly.
There was a rustling of leaves off to the side and Steven came walking out. Blair gave a gleeful shout. “Stevie.” Running toward his brother, he launched himself.
Steven caught him. “Hey, little brother.”
Blair rained happy kisses all over his face. “I miss you.”
“I missed you, too.” Steven returned the kisses just as happily. “How long was I gone?”
Lee moved closer. “We’ve been trying to wake you for hours.”
“You’re unconscious, back in the real world,” Lee told him, moving even closer, giving Steven big hints he wanted to be held.
Steven took it, freeing an arm to pull Lee against his side. The Guide gave him a happy sigh. “That would explain the funky blue color and why I was by myself.”
He turned to Daniel. “Why is that?”
“Which? The funky blue color or that you were by yourself?”
“Well the funky color is because we’re in an astral plane. The fact that you were alone is that the pain of your injuries sent you here because you didn’t have someone to stabilize you.”
Lee made a small sound of pain. Steven looked at him. “What’s the matter, Squirt?” Lee couldn’t meet his eyes. “Come on, look at me. What’s the matter?”
“I was suppose to help you when you called for help. B…But I though I was dreaming.” Lee sad sadly, finally looking up to met Steven’s eyes, his own full of unshed tears. “I didn’t know. I swear I didn’t.”
Steven looked at Daniel. “What is he taking about?”
“When you were trying to protect Blair and Rafe did you reach out for someone. And again when they were working on you at the hospital did you reach out for them again?”
Steven frowned as he thought about it. “Hmm, yeah-did both times. At the hospital I remember starting to wake. I remember the pain and wanting to scream like a girl, it hurt so bad. I wanted Michael. I kept calling for him, but he didn’t hear me. I just wanted the pain to stop. I was reaching out for someone, anyone.” Steven’s frowned deepened. “I could feel there was suppose to be someone, but they weren’t answering me.” He pulled Lee closer at the Guide’s sound of misery. “Shh, its okay.”
“It was me. You were reaching for me, but I didn’t respond. I thought I was dreaming. I’m sorry, Stevie. I really thought I was dreaming,” Lee told him, eyes once again filling with tears. “I’m so very sorry.”
“Shh, don’t worry about. It’s okay.”
“B…But I was suppose to respond. I was the one you need it and I didn’t do my responsibilities.”
Steven looked at Daniel for an explanation. “I still don’t get it.”
“Who did you reach for when Michael didn’t respond?”
Steven’s face lite up in understanding. “Lee. I went looking for Lee, but I couldn’t find him. It hurt so bad and I couldn’t find him. But why would I go looking for Lee?”
“Lee is your stabilizing force. He’ll be able to help keep you steady.”
“You’ve got a new ability to help you protect your charges. And because of the power you draw from the earth herself, you need someone to help you so you don’t drain yourself to much and also to protect you when you aren’t able to protect yourself.”
Steven looked at Daniel silently for a moment as he took in everything the Shaman was telling him in. Finally. “Oh. I bet Jim’s happy.”
Daniel smiled. “Ecstatic.”
“Is he still mad?”
“Not so much now that he knows there’s a way to protect you.”
Steven turned Lee. “So you and me, huh?”
Lee gave him a shy smile. “You and me.”
“You gonna keep me from getting hurt and from being stupid?”
“With everything I got in me. I’m sorry, Stevie,” Lee told him woefully. “If I had known, I would never have let you get hurt.”
“It’s okay, Squirt. You didn’t know. You know now and Daniel will show you what to do. And that’ll keep Jim from yelling at me, too.” Steven smiled at the Shaman. “Right, Daniel?”
Daniel returned it, allowing the three boys to see his deep dimples. “Right.”
“So, is that the reason I’m in this blue place?”
Daniel nodded. “Yes, you needed to get away from the pain so your subconscious sent you here to avoid it.”
Steven looked around the dense blue jungle. “Is there a way to get back?”
“Yes, that’s why we’re here. To take you back.”
“It’s gonna hurt like heck, when I go back isn’t it?”
Daniel nodded. “Oh, yeah and then some.”
“Shit. No magic cures for it, huh?” Steven asked, hopefully.
Daniel smiled. “Yup.”
“Will I be forgiven if I shriek like a girl?”
Steven looked at the little Guide. “Will you forgive me if I yell like a sissy girl?”
Blair looked at him solemnly. “I forgive. I bring cookie to make feel better.”
Steven smiled. “Thank you, little brother. And you, Lee? Will you forgive me if I scream my head off?”
“Oh, yes. I understand and I’ll help you with whatever you need.”
“Thank you,” Steven replied, kissing Lee’s forehead. He looked over at Daniel. “There’s no way I could just stay here until I heal?”
Daniel shook his head. “No, Son. We’ve been here to long as it is. We need to get back.”
Steven lowered his head, sighing heavily. “Shit, I am in no way in hell looking forward to this.” Lifting his head. “Alright, let’s go.”
When he reentered his body he gave a harsh gasped as he was flooded by intense pain of a kind he had never, ever felt in his life. He tried to flee like he had before only this time Lee was there to stop him.
“No. You’re not going back there again. Stay here.”
“Oh, God,” Steven moaned. “Hurts.”
“I know, but stay here. Don’t back there. If you try it, I’ll so kick your ass.”
Steven smiled at the Guide looking down at him, an intense sincere look on his cute if rather bruised face.
“You’d kick me when I’m down, would you?”
Lee nodded. “I will if you try to leave.”
Steven bit his lip hard as a wave of pain tore through him, leaving him covered in sweat and panting hoarsely. “L…love you, L…lee?”
“I love you too and it’s not going to work. Stay. Here.”
Steven looked at Jim who’d rolled his wheelchair closer. “W…Watchman. Y…you o..okay?”
“Yes. You hurt?”
Jim placed his head next to Steven’s on the bed. “I love you, Stevie.”
“L…love y…you, too. Ah.” Steven panted as a new wave of pain tore at him violently. “D…damn.”
Jim looked up at Simon, blue eyes obscured by tears. “Do something. Give him something to help. He hurts.”
“We’ve given him the strongest pain medication we can. There’s nothing else we can do,” Simon told him, sympathetically.
“D…Daniel?” Steven called, unable to look to where he knew the Shaman was.
“A…are y…you s…sure I…I c…can’t g…go t…to t…the b…blue p…place?”
“I’m sure. I’m sorry, Steven.”
William knelt by the bed so he could look into his child’s pain-filled blue eyes. He gently stroked his son’s hair. “I wish I could take the pain away from you, son.”
“Ah. D…don’t, D…Dad. i…it w…would h…hurt m…me m…more i…if y…you w…were o…on t…this b…bed. O…oh, G…God. I…if y…you w…were i…in t…this b…bed i…instead o…of m…me.”
“Oh, son,” The tears in William’s eyes spilled over to splash onto the sheet covering the bed.
“D…don’t c…cry, D…Dad. I…it b…be, o…okay.”
William looked up, the pain his child was feeling to much to bear. “There’s got to be something. Anything to stop Steven’s pain.”
William looked down at his littlest son. “Blair?”
With that Blair wiggled free from Jim’s lap, climbing onto Steven’s bed. Moving close, but not close enough to cause anymore hurt, he placed a tiny hand on Steven’s sweat-soaked hair.
Instantly Steven felt relief from the mind-numbing agony. “Oh, God,” he whispered. “Thank you, Blair,” he said gratefully.
Blair lay on the bed curling his little body protectively around Steven. Reaching over he kissed his nose. “I take pain. I be right here. I ‘elp.”
“Thank you, Blair. You’re the best baby brother anyone could ever have.”
Blair smiled at him brilliantly. “I knows. Sleep, now,” he demanded, stroking Steven’s hair. “I bees right here.”
Steven finally free of pain, closed his eyes and did as his little brother had bid.
Simon wiped at his eyes with his handkerchief, wondering why the damn thing was still wet. He turned toward William.
William wiped at his own tears with the back of his hands. “Now I take my family some place safe. Allow them time to heal and we rebuild.”