Jim awoke to the eerie feeling of being watched. He rolled cautiously to his back and found himself face to face with Blair, who was kneeling on the bed beside him.
“I need to go,” the boy said.
“Oh. Right.” Jim sat up and fumbled for his robe and pulled it on then glanced at the bedside clock on his way around the bed. 11 PM. He’d been asleep barely an hour and he’d thought Blair was out for the count when he’d put him to bed. Stifling a yawn with his hand, he held the other one out for Blair to take then led him downstairs to the bathroom. He opened the door and ushered the child inside, then stepped back out and leaned against the wall while he waited. He heard the tinkle of Blair doing his business then Blair put his head round the doorway and looked up at Jim. “I can’t reach it,” he said.
“Okay.” Jim walked in and flushed for him then washed Blair’s hands and took him back to his room, lifting him onto the bed and tucking him beneath the covers. “Sleep tight,” he said, heading back to his own room.
He’d just settled back in and was drifting off into a peaceful sleep when he heard the pad pad of small feet. Suppressing a groan, he called out, “Blair, go back to bed. It’s night time.”
“I’m thirsty,” Blair called back.
“Of course you are,” Jim muttered. He made the trip downstairs again, filled a plastic cup with water and took the cup and the boy back into Blair’s room. “Okay, have your drink then lie down and go to sleep. We have to be up early in the morning so I can go to work.” With a final (he hoped) parting pat to Blair’s curls, he went back upstairs. Once in bed though, he lay awake for a long time, wondering if, now that Blair had been given more to drink, another bathroom trip would be in order. After an hour or so though, with no little voice or small footsteps heard from downstairs, Jim allowed himself to nod off.
An ear piercing shriek startled him from his peaceful slumber and Jim literally fell out of bed, landing on his knees on the hardwood floor with a painful crack. He took a moment to give them an aggrieved rub as he stood up then he pulled on his bathrobe haphazardly and hurtled at breakneck speed down the stairs and into Blair’s room.
The little boy was sitting bolt upright in the middle of the bed, the twisted covers a testament to the nightmare he’d had. He stared right through Jim as if not seeing him and pointed a shaky forefinger at something only he could see. “No!” he shrieked, the piercing tone causing Jim to wince and hastily dial back his hearing to something less migraine-inducing.
Jim hastened over to the bed and sat down, grasping Blair’s forearms gently. “What’s wrong?” he asked, giving a small shake. “Did you have a bad dream?”
Blair shuddered in his grasp and let out a heartrending whimper then his gaze slid away from Jim’s and focused on a spot somewhere over Jim’s right shoulder. “Fire,” he sobbed.
Jim swallowed hard and fought the impulse to look over his shoulder, instead pulling an unresisting Blair onto his lap where he cuddled him close, rocking him back and forth soothingly. “There’s nothing there,” he murmured, rubbing Blair’s back with one hand. “It’s just a dream.” Or was it? Jim wondered. His mind flashed back to the days after Blair had been dosed with Golden. Even after he’d been released from the hospital he’d woken with nightmares about the fire people he’d seen while he was drugged.
Blair gave a huge shuddering sigh and then an enormous yawn. Jim made to stand up but Blair’s arms wrapped around his neck like a limpet and Jim sighed. At this rate he wasn’t going to get any sleep. He grabbed Blair’s pillow then turned and carried the boy out of the room and up the stairs where he tucked him under the covers in his own bed. Blair snuggled down immediately, his eyes closing and Jim crawled into bed on the other side and fell back into sleep.
Jim woke just as the sun was beginning to the light the room through the skylight. Yawning widely, still feeling more asleep than awake, he rolled to his side and jolted upright when he saw the other side of the bed was empty. “Shit,” he muttered, grabbing his bathrobe, putting it on and then stumbling downstairs., hoping he’d find Blair had simply gone down to the living room to watch TV. His heart plummeted to his feet though when he saw the room was empty and the front door was standing wide open. Jim castigated himself as he ran back upstairs to hastily pull on his jeans, t-shirt and shoes and socks. He berated himself more as he ran out of the apartment and saw no sign of Blair on the landing. Heart pounding so hard he could hear the echo of it in his ears, Jim stopped for a moment to take stock of the situation. Belatedly remembering his sensory gift, he extended his hearing in search of Blair’s voice.
“What’s his name?” Jim heard Blair say.
“Killer,” came the reply, “because he’s a fierce watch doggie, he is, aren’t you, Killer?
With a relieved grin, Jim set off down the stairs to Mrs. Murphy’s apartment directly below his own. He knocked on the door and almost collapsed to his knees with relief when the elderly woman opened the door and he saw Blair next to her, Mrs. Murphy’s tiny Chihuahua held in a stranglehold in his arms.
“I take it he belongs to you,” Moira Murphy said, grinning at Jim. “I found him in the lobby when I took Killer out for his walk and thought it would be safest to bring him up here with me till I could find where he belonged.”
“Thank you,” Jim said, stepping past Mrs. Murphy and over to Blair. He gently extricated Killer from Blair’s tight grip and lowered the dog to the floor. “You’re not supposed to leave the apartment without me,” he said to Blair.
Blair looked up at him solemnly. “I went for a walk,” he said. “I always go for walks, Jim.”
The adult Blair had, true enough but… Jim crouched down so he was eye to eye with the child. “If you want to go for a walk, you ask me and I’ll come with you, okay?”
“Okay,” Blair agreed readily enough.
“All right, say goodbye to Mrs. Murphy and Killer and let’s go have breakfast so I can get to work.”
“Bye, Mrs. Murphy. Bye, Killer,” Blair said obediently, taking Jim’s hand.
“You know, Jim,” Mrs. Murphy said as they left her apartment, “if I didn’t know better I’d swear that was Blair.” She winked and tapped her nose and Jim grinned weakly back then towed Blair out to the elevator.
“Now, listen,” Jim crouched down next to Blair before they stepped into the elevator to take the ride up to Major Crime, “I have to go speak to Simon so I want you to stay at my desk and not wander off, okay? I brought some crayons and paper so you can do some drawing while you’re waiting for me.”
“Good.” Jim looked him over critically. The clothes Mrs. Masters had been kind enough to lend them were a little big but they’d do for now. He ruffled Blair’s curls then took his hand and led him into the elevator.