Author:         Kathryn A
Disclaimer:     Not mine.  If they were, Certain Things would never have
Rating:         PG
Spoilers:       TSbyBS, Sentinel Too, references to other 4th season episodes.
Category:       AU
Warnings:       AU
Series/Sequel:  True Dreams (1)
Summary:        Jim wakes up in the hospital, and finds things aren't
                quite as he expects.
Date:           first posted 1st October 2000, revised 10th January 2001

This one is for Susn.

Further notes are at the end.

True Dreams: Dreamshatter

by Kathryn A

"All the things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams."

The first thing he noticed when he woke up was that his throat felt like it had been sandpapered on the inside, the second that he was thirsty, and the third that it hurt to breathe. The tube up his nose and the too-loud beeping of a heart monitor told him he was in the hospital. He could smell the starch on the sheets, the disinfectant in the air. Hospital. Serious. What happened? Last thing I remember was Simon giving Blair a badge.

"He's awake," a voice said. A voice that he recognised, but not the one that he expected to hear. "Jim, can you hear me?"

"S'mon," Jim murmured. "Wh'r's Bl'r?" He opened one heavy-lidded eye, and saw the tall form of the Captain of Major Crimes looming over his bed. "Y'r lookin' b'ttr, S'mon," he said. "Wh'n y'lose the wh'lchair?"

"No, you're not ready for a wheelchair yet, Jim," Simon said. "Doctor said you'd be thirsty -- do you want some ice?"

"Yssss," Jim said, frustrated that his tongue couldn't seem to keep in synch with his brain, not to mention that he felt as if he was trapped in a gravity field at least twice as strong as the one he was used to. He allowed Simon to put some ice chips in his mouth, and then Simon was brushed away by the medical staff that descended upon him in what felt like a horde, even though there were only three of them. The gravity field -- or the drugs -- overcame him, and he drifted into sleep.

Then followed a time of waking up to no one but doctors and nurses, who spouted hearty reassurances, but didn't actually tell him anything. And then more sleep.


Suspended in that half-life between sleeping and waking, Jim could hear the sounds around him with sharp clarity, but his muscles were wrapped in a blanket of inertia. Close by, the heart monitor bleeped in a steady rhythm, and his own breathing was loud in his ears. Further away, voices spoke, trying to whisper, but clear as crystal to his Sentinel ears.

"Can't you see he's asleep?"

"He'll sleep better if I'm there." Familiar, familiar voice. Wanted voice. Comforting voice.

"I can't have you disturbing him."

He won't disturb me, Jim thought. You're disturbing me.

"I won't make a sound." Blair. It was Blair. "I just -"

"If you won't leave, I'll call security."

"I'm leaving, I'm leaving..."

Don't go. Jim listened to Blair's mutterings all down the hall, until he could no longer follow with his ears where he longed to go.


The next time he woke up, he felt better; by no means ready to take a run through an obstacle course, but better than he had been. He still ached, and his mouth tasted like the inside of a dumpster, but he felt less weak, more in control, clear of mind. The heart monitor was gone, but he thought he could hear the rustle and breathing of at least one other person in the room. He sniffed and smelled something, that hard-to-describe scent he knew so well; herbal shampoo, soap, fresh herbs, coffee, and underneath, the essence that was definitively...

"Blair," he said, opening his eyes.

His long-haired friend leapt out of his chair and came to the bed. "Jim!"

"Missed you before," Jim smiled.

"Sorry I wasn't here," Blair said. "Simon dragged me out of here and forced me to go home." He frowned. "I wonder if he spiked my coffee too?" He grimaced. "Then they wouldn't let me back in." Earnest blue eyes looked into his own. "I am so sorry, man."

"What happened? How'd I end up in the hospital?"

"What's the last thing you remember?"

God, as if I want to regurgitate some of the worst few days of my entire life, what with Blair's dissertation going public, all the media attention, then Blair trashing his own reputation, his entire career, just so I could get my life back? Particularly when I blamed him for the whole thing. Offering him a badge wasn't enough. Jim took a deep breath, or started to, before the pain in his chest caused him to stop short. "You know, that thing with Zeller --"

"Zeller?" Blair's eyes widened. "The Iceman, international hit-man, that Zeller?"

"Don't know any other Zellers," Jim said. "So, what happened? How'd I end up needing a tube up my nose?"

Blair wouldn't meet his eyes. "Um, we're not exactly sure..."

At that moment, Simon Banks entered the room. "You're looking better, Jim," he said heartily.

"Um, Simon, could I have a word with you for a minute?" Blair said to the Captain. "I'll be right back," he added to Jim. He pulled Simon out of the room, and down the corridor.

Now, what's that all about? Before he could tune in to what they were saying, another person entered his room. The auburn hair and curls were almost as wild as his partner's, but she was still recognisably Megan Conner.

"Hey, Conner," Jim said distractedly.

"How are you feeling, Jim?" she asked.

He held up his hand. "Shh, they're talking about me." He focused his hearing on what the anthropologist -- ex-anthropologist -- and police captain were saying.

"And the last thing he remembers is the Zeller case."

"But that was over two years ago! The doctor said something about disorientation, but nothing about amnesia!"

"Amnesia?" Jim whispered. What the hell!?

His listening was interrupted by Megan's quiet "Jim?"

"Megan, could you do me a favour?" he asked her, grinding his teeth. "Go and grab Sandburg and Simon and remind them that there's no point in talking about me behind my back in the corridor -- and that I'd rather they talked about me to my face."

"You really can hear what they're saying?" Megan said.

Jim gave her a puzzled look. "You know that, Conner," he said.

"Oh, Blair told you, then?" Megan said.

"Told me what?"

"That I figured out you were a Sentinel."

"But --" Jim broke off. What the hell is going on here? Sandburg thinks I have amnesia, and Conner seems to have amnesia. "Conner, please, just do me a favour and bring Blair and Simon back here, okay?"

Megan raised her eyebrows and shrugged. "Okay, can do."

Moments later all three of them were back in Jim's room.

"Now, what's all this about amnesia?" Jim demanded. "And why won't anyone tell me what happened to me?"

"Hey, man, I didn't want to upset you," Blair said.

"You ought to know by now you upset me more by trying to keep things from me," Jim snapped. Then he realized what he'd said. Oh god, Jim, what will it take for you to learn from your mistakes? This guy just trashed his career for you, and you still jump all over him? If you didn't keep on treating him like your own personal Judas, if you actually listened, then maybe he wouldn't be afraid of telling you things you don't like to hear. "I'm sor--"

"Amnesia?" Megan interjected. "What makes you think Jim's got amnesia?"

"The last thing he remembers was two years ago," Blair sighed.

Megan rolled her eyes. "If that was the case, he wouldn't remember who I am!" Only Jim heard her mutter under her breath, "Talk about jumping to conclusions!"

Blair looked at Jim, then Megan. "You mean, he does know who you are?"

"Megan Conner, on exchange from the New South Wales Police," Jim said. "Unless she's got a twin sister she hasn't told us about."

"Sandburg!" Simon snapped. "Next time get a little more information before you panic." He nodded at Jim. "Don't let him tire you out, Jim. See you later." He closed the door quietly behind him as he left.

Jim looked at Blair and Megan. "Could one of you please stop second-guessing me, and just tell me how I ended up in the hospital?"

Blair sighed. "When we got back from Sierra Verde --"

"Sierra Verde?" Jim interrupted.

"We went there after Alex --"

"She escaped?" Jim said. "I thought she was in Conover."

Megan frowned. "She is in Conover."

"Okay, never mind that now," Jim said, realizing that if he kept interrupting, he'd never find out anything. "What happened?"

"We were hoping you could tell us that," Blair said. "We got back late in the afternoon. You said you had a headache, so I went to get some groceries by myself. When I came back, you were in your bed asleep. I figured you were just tired, let you rest. It wasn't until I couldn't wake you up the next morning that I realized that something was wrong."

Jim could see the guilt in Sandburg's eyes, imagined how frantic he must have been. He didn't want to hurt the kid with memories, but he had to find out more. "So why do I feel as if I've been kicked by a mule?"

"You were in a coma. Then your heart stopped."

"CPR," Jim realized. "I was dead." He looked at Blair. "Maybe I did end up taking that trip with you after all."

Pained blue eyes met his own. "You didn't take any trips with me," Blair said. "God, Jim, don't ever scare me like that again," he said softly.

Jim clasped Blair's hand in one of his own. "Not if I can help it, Chief." There could have been a dozen people in the room instead of just Megan, and Jim would have ignored them all like wisps of vapour. There was just Blair, and him. At that moment he felt more connected with Blair than he had been in months. The dark blue eyes were a little bloodshot, probably from lack of sleep. He could feel the blood thrumming through Blair's hand, hear his heart beating...

"Hey, Jim, come back to me now, just listen to my voice..."

The sheet felt as rough as industrial carpet. The tube up his nose felt like he'd been impaled with knitting needles. He scrabbled to sit up, get out of bed, tear the tubes out of his nose, but firm hands covered his own and held him down. Blair.

"Jim, Jim! It's all right! Calm down!" Blair said.

Jim looked at his Guide. The light stabbed into his eyes like a white knife. He flinched, and shut his eyes. "God, Blair, make it stop," he said, and flinched at the sound of his own voice, rough, too loud in his sensitive ears.

"Jim, you know what to do," Blair said calmly, but Jim could hear how his heart was racing. "Take a deep breath, very slowly."

Jim started to, and was stopped by the pain in his chest. "Hurts," he said, and was scared to hear how childlike he sounded.

"Okay, take a shallow breath, but do it very slowly. Don't think about the pain. Just concentrate on breathing. Count your breaths. Just do that." Blair kept on murmuring more in the same vein as Jim complied. Gradually he relaxed, counting. Nothing but numbers and Blair's voice. "Okay, picture the dial in your mind. You are in control, man. You are in control of how you feel. Ease it down. Ease it down."

The sheets went back to just being sheets, and the countless tiny agonies faded away. It suddenly struck Jim, the irony, control. Control was what Jim wanted in his life; he raged when things were out of his control, blamed Blair when things had happened that were outside of his control, hated the way his senses got out of his control, hated the way it made him dependent, weak -- and yet Blair was constantly affirming Jim's control, that the senses were Jim's to control and that his own part in it was relatively minor. God, what an inappreciative bastard you are, Ellison! It was a paradox; he only had control when he wasn't afraid of losing it.

Jim blinked his eyes open and looked up at his best friend. "Blair," he said. "Thank you. I don't say that often enough." His eyes felt gritty and sore, as if he'd been in a hot, dry wind -- or left them open too long without blinking. I zoned, then I lost it. "How long?" he asked Blair -- then noticed that Megan was gone. "Where did Megan go?"

Blair smiled. "Guarding the door." Of course. Interruptions would have been very awkward, to say the least.

"How long was I out of it?"

"I'm not sure, five minutes? Ten? I wasn't timing it," Blair said.

Jim realized what a stupid question it was. Of course Blair wouldn't have been timing it -- he would have been concentrating on getting Jim out of the zone, out of the sensory spike.

"What did you zone on?" Blair asked.

"Your heartbeat."

"Oh," Blair said. "And then when you came back, it all slid too much the other way."

Jim lifted his hand to rub his sore eyes, and noticed when he looked back at Blair, that he was frowning.

"Jim, why did you say that the last thing you remembered was the Zeller case?" Blair asked. "He was put away over two years ago."

"Put away?" Jim frowned. "But he's dead."

"Dead?" Blair exclaimed. "When did you find this out?"

"What do you mean, 'When did you find this out?'" Jim said. "You were there with me. He fell off the roof."

Blair frowned in concern. "Um, what roof, Jim?" he asked.

"Cascade PD. I chased him up there after he shot up Major Crimes. You followed me." Jim frowned and his head pounded. "Why are you acting as if it never happened?" But God knows he has reason enough to wish it hadn't.

Blair was starting to look worried. "Jim, you've been in a coma. You're bound to be a little confused..."

"Confused? What kind of game are you playing, Sandburg? God only knows you have every reason to blame me--" Jim broke off at the expression on Blair's face, accompanied by a jump in his heart rate. Blair's worry was now overshadowed by fear. Fear for him. That, more than anything convinced Jim that this wasn't some sort of practical joke, or an exercise in denial. The fear transmitted through the air like some contagious disease, corrupting Jim's certainty. "Tell me -- tell me I'm not going mad."

"You're not going mad."

"Tell me the date."

Blair told him the date. It was months ago; just after they came back from Sierra Verde. For a moment Jim wondered again if Blair was lying to him -- but he wouldn't have any reason to. Or would he -- for his own good? That's easily checked. Jim picked up the remote from the table beside his bed and switched on the small television in the far corner of the room. He flicked through the channels until he got to a news channel. Minor stuff he didn't remember, but when it got to the major stories, he remembered them; news of months ago. He sagged back on his pillows.

"God, instead of amnesia, I'm having delusions."

"You aren't crazy, Jim." But the worry on Blair's face belied that.

"What else would you call remembering things that haven't happened?"

"If you talk about it, maybe we can figure it out," Blair said. "What was this thing with Zeller on the roof?"

Jim sighed, then stopped as the pain in his chest caught him again. He didn't know what to think. One half of him was convinced that Blair knew perfectly well what happened with Zeller and the diss and everything, and the other, more logical half was equally convinced that Blair didn't have the faintest idea. But he didn't have any better ideas than to go ahead and talk. "Okay," Jim said, "but try not to interrupt too much, okay?"

Blair nodded.

"It started, I guess, when we heard that Bartley -- the union guy -- was getting death threats. We were brought in to protect him. He kept on calling Megan 'babe' and 'doll' -- really pissed her off." Jim smiled. "The hit-man turned out to be Zeller -- I shot out his scope when he tried at Bartley the first time." Jim paused uncomfortably. "At the same time, you'd just finished your dissertation."

"What's my diss got to do with Zeller?"

"Don't interrupt," Jim said. "It's hard enough as it is."

Blair's eyes widened. "Okay, mouth shut -- but you gotta let me ask questions after."

Jim nodded. "Your mother was visiting. You made her promise not to read your diss -- it was only the first draft. So she very kindly didn't read it -- she just sent a copy of it to a publisher friend of hers, Sid Graham." Jim could feel himself tensing all over again, at the memory, the anger rising. "She -- she meant well, she thought you were worried about the quality of your work."

Blair shook his head. "She's my mother, Jim."

"I know that," Jim said. "So the -- the publisher read it, thought he had a bestseller on his hands, and offered you a publishing contract. You didn't tell me. He -- he didn't listen when you said you didn't want it published, instead, he talked to the press, and the next thing... the first thing I knew about it was when I had a microphone shoved in my face, being asked why I've decided to reveal my abilities!"

"What?" Blair said. "I don't understand."

"My name was all through your diss, Chief!" Jim burst out. "It wouldn't be valid if you lied about the identity of your subject, would it, Darwin?"

"Just a minute, Jim, you don't understand --" Blair broke off at Jim's glare.

"The media are all over my face," Jim continued. "Criminals wanting my autograph, for God's sake. I can't do my job. Zeller tries again, I get to within three feet of him -- he's disguised as a press photographer -- when the press vultures pile on me wanting interviews. Zeller shoots the dummy decoy we had set up for this, and gets away. In the meantime, the publisher is offering you three million dollars for the book, and your name is up for the Nobel prize."

"Nobel prize?!" Blair exclaimed, then clapped his hand over his mouth.

"Zeller targets Major Crimes -- he's after me, but gets Megan and Simon instead. Not dead, but critical condition." Jim shut his eyes briefly as the memory of Megan falling down, red blossoming at her shoulder, flashed through his mind. "Zeller fakes his own death, but we didn't know it at the time. Then..." Jim paused again. He could feel his eyes grow damp. "Then you held a press conference. Declared your thesis a fake, yourself a fraud. Trashed your career, just to, to get the media off my back. To give me my life back."

Blair's jaw dropped. "Oh man..." he said.

"Then we find out Zeller isn't dead, after all," Jim continued. "He comes in and shoots up Major Crimes, yelling for Bartley."

"And you chase him up to the roof, and he falls off," Blair said.

Jim nodded. "You got fired from the university. So... we did what we could. Offered you a detective position at Major Crimes, after the Academy." Jim smiled. "And you still said you weren't cutting your hair."

"That's it?" Blair said.

"The highlights," Jim answered.

"Oh man," Blair said again, running his hands through his hair. "Jim, that's not a delusion -- it's a nightmare!"

"I know it was a nightmare, Chief -- it was terrible!"

"No, no, I mean a real nightmare," Blair said. "A dream. Your fears made real. God, why didn't you talk to me before about about the diss? Half of that stuff -- it's impossible, it simply couldn't happen! Nobody gets offered the Nobel prize for a dissertation thesis, for goodness' sake! Or three million dollars for the first draft of an anthropology thesis." Blair smiled. "It's terribly flattering that you think so highly of me, Jim, but it's just not possible." Blair shook his head. "And as for your name -- Jim, your name isn't even in my notes! It would never go in the diss, man! Yes, my dissertation committee has to know who you are, but that's all. Subject confidentiality is sacred -- heck, even Freud knew that!"

"A nightmare." Jim frowned.

"A nightmare," Blair repeated. "Doesn't it seem rather improbable that an international hit-man, whom we both knew, was hired to kill a local union leader? We populate our dreams with people we know."

Jim considered the other things he recalled -- his old army buddy turning up, his old flame, Kincaid taking over the Cascade Sports Arena, heck, even Vince Deal had gotten involved. "But it seemed so real," he protested.

"You're a Sentinel," Blair said. "Your dreams are bound to be more vivid than other people's."

"3D, surround sound, living colour?" Jim said skeptically.

"Why not?"

"But Simon and Megan being shot -- it happened just like it did in my vision in Sierra Verde."

"It did? Your vision?" Blair pursed his lips in thought and let out a long breath. "I don't know... maybe you incorporated bits of your vision into your dream. Unconsciously working through a traumatic experience--" He stopped dead as something struck him. "God, I'm an idiot!" Blair exclaimed. "That could be what caused your coma!"

"Working through a traumatic experience caused my coma?"

"No, no," Blair said, shaking his head. "What I meant was, you probably still had some of that potion running around your bloodstream when we got back. When we checked the loft for anything you might have reacted to, I was only thinking of things I already knew about. But you may have had an adverse reaction to things that normally wouldn't affect you, because of the remnants of the other stuff." Blair ran his hands through his hair. "Why didn't I think of that before? I am such an idiot!"

"I'm the last one to say you're perfect, Sandburg, but an idiot you definitely are not," Jim said.

Blair shook his head. "I should have realized, I should have thought of it before." He started to pace. "I need to go over the loft again -- and talk to the doctor," he continued. "Can you think of anything you might have had -- a drink? Something to eat? Touched something? Medication -- sleeping pills, painkillers, anything?"

Jim shook his head, and groaned as the movement started a drumroll of ache in his skull.


"Headache," Jim answered. He felt drowned in sudden weariness.

"Dial back the pain, Jim."

"Can't," Jim said. "Control shot to hell. Damn."

"You're recovering, Jim," Blair said. "It's probably going to be hard to control things before you get your energy back. Sleep is probably the best thing for you right now."

"Sleep or lose control, is that it?" Jim sighed. "I know which one gets my vote."

Blair grinned. "So sleep, big guy. I'll be --"

"Going through the loft with a fine-toothed comb, even if you're too tired to see straight?" Jim interrupted him. "I'll sleep if you'll sleep," he said. "Go home and rest. Let those eyes of yours stop looking like a boiled lobster."

Blair rolled his eyes. "I don't think the metaphor quite fits, Jim," he said with a smile.

"Do it anyway," Jim said. "Please."

"Okay," Blair said. He rested a hand on Jim's forehead. "Get better real soon." He grinned. "Or you'll find I've drunk all your beer and replaced all your ground beef with tofu."

Jim swatted at Blair. "Get out of here, Sandburg."

Sandburg stepped out the door and talked softly to Megan where she stood outside. He shut the door behind him, but even through the thickness of the door Jim could hear their departing footsteps.

Jim couldn't sleep, despite his weariness. Thoughts chased around inside his head. It was just a dream. A nightmare. It didn't happen. He remembered Simon collapsing in front of him. It didn't happen. It didn't happen. Blair's face, as he told the world he was a fraud. But it seemed so real.



This was my "Dallas defence" story. I wanted TSbyBS never to have happened. Of course, Dallas wasn't the only piece of fiction to use the "it was all a dream" defence, but it's the most well-known one. I actually got the idea from Sheila Paulson's "Jabberwocky" series.

Thanks to Susn for pointing out all the good reasons why it makes more sense for it to have been Jim's dream.

Gratitude to my lovely beta reader Aubrey Robin. Revisions thanks to input from Kimberley Workman. All mistakes are mine.


     "All the things one has forgotten scream for help in dreams."
            -- Elias Canetti "Die Provinz der Menschen" (1973)