Small World – Found Blondie
Rouge Park - Ravine
Sam remained still, keeping his breathing pattern slow not giving any indication he had regained consciousness. A skill he had learned many years ago and unfortunately had used often. He just wasn't ready to deal with the emotions. Jules was stroking his hair gently and there was a painful pressure on his right arm. He hurt; the pain in his chest throbbed with each intake of air.
Startled out of her thoughts when the helicopter dropped low over the trees Jules jerked. She lost her balance and her knee landed on Sam's chest.
Pain, hot and intense, radiated through his chest. Sam couldn't stop the gasp from escaping his throat or the grimace across his face.
"Sam, oh god I'm so sorry. Oh god. Are you okay? Sam? Sammy, oh god" Jules murmured to him feeling absolutely awful that she had caused him more pain.
He didn't hear. The blackness had claimed him again; blissfully taking him away from pain.
"Ready Jim?" Ed called to the paramedic as they prepared to rappel from the police helicopter.
"Ready, been a while since I've done it but it's a skill you don't forget" Jim replied as he adjusted the medic bag on his shoulder and rechecked his line.
Ed, Spike, Rollie, Dale and Jim rappelled down to the top of the ravine. They took in the overall scene then set to work. Ed, Spike and Jim raced pell-mell down the incline sending rocks and dirt flying ahead of them. Rollie and Dale crouched next to Aaron with sadden faces.
Jim was the first to reach Jules and Sam. He looked at the female officer's face and noticed tears; that indicated she cared about this guy. No duh, for the last thirty minutes on the flight here he'd listened to the four guys in the bird talking about this officer.
Two of them were especially anxious to arrive and ensure this 'Sam' person was okay. Apparently the man was important to them, more than just a teammate and they'd do anything for him. He'd known a few guys like that; engendered that feeling in others. There were two such guys Jim would willingly give his life for; check that, only one now, the other was gone now.
He quickly turned his attention to his patient. He had been informed of injuries they were aware of knowing they didn't appear to be life-threatening. So he took a moment to take in the position of the body looking for any obvious indications of trauma.
Yes 'the' body not 'his' body. It was important to remain objective in his line of work so he always thought in impersonal terms. He saw nothing indicating any broken limbs. That was good. He squatted down to assess the head injuries next as his vision shifted to the SRU officer's face.
"Blondie" was expelled on a faint wisp of air as shock coursed violently through Jim. He couldn't move as his mind processed the image in front of him. "No. Not Blondie" exploded Jim. His impersonal walls crumbled.
Ed and Spike were surprised by the paramedic's reaction. They quickly looked at each other and soundlessly mouthed 'Blondie'. Less than an hour ago they had heard Sam referred to as Blondie. Did the paramedic know Sam? Jules was just confused and thought what did the color of his hair have to do with anything?
Jim shook himself out of his stupor a second later. It was Blondie; it was him, here and hurt. Oh god, hadn't the poor kid been through enough already. Luckily his training took over and he immediately set to work assessing his condition.
Unfortunately he knew this body well. He did too many checkouts on it, stitched too many wounds and cleaned too damned many thin gashes. He knew what this body could handle, how it reacted to injuries, so he was worried that Blondie was unconscious.
"How long has he been out?" Jim asked Jules.
Jules started calculating in her head and replied "about thirty-five or so minutes since he has responded to anyone. Not sure if he was out the whole time or just unable to speak. He was definitely out when I got here about fifteen minutes ago. But it appeared he was beginning to come around until …" her voice trailed off.
"Until?' Jim prompted.
"Until just before you rappelled. I shifted and my knee knocked into his chest. He gasped and I could see his face wince in pain then nothing" Jules finished guiltily.
"Help me get his vest off, need to check his ribs" Jim requested. Silently hoping that it was broken ribs, those were easy to mend. They carefully moved Sam as they removed the vest. Jim cut open his shirt and started probing gently.
Blondie was covered in wonderful shades of red, blue and purple. A small smile crossed his lips. The kid always did bruise magnificently. Some bruising on his left shoulder was already turning blackish those had to be hours old, this wasn't his first injury today.
"Was he injured recently?" Jim asked already knowing the answer was yes but needing to know general details to fully assess his current state.
"Took a bullet to the vest early this morning; left shoulder area. Knocked the wind completely out of him. He was given the all clear by the medic that checked him out" Ed said staring at the badly bruised chest.
Spike added "This afternoon he collapsed and hit is head and was out for a bit. The medic said no concussion but he had a small lump on the back of the head. No one knows why he collapsed after he took the shot and saved little Sara. We think he might have had low blood sugar combined with the rush of adrenaline or something. He hadn't eaten today. Medic cleared him for duty then too."
"Yeah, I'm sure it was because he was hungry. You should have seen how quickly he ate the lunch we got him" Jules said.
Jim's probing wasn't finding what he had hoped for "Crap, not broken, wish to god they were broken" he said distastefully not realizing he had said it out loud.
Disturbed by the words and tone the medic used Ed asked with ice lacing his voice "Just what the HELL do you mean by that?"
"What?" Jim looked up at Ed caught off guard by the question and tone. He registered a set jaw and a fierceness that conveyed 'I can kill you'. He scrambled in his head to figure out what caused that. Oh shit he thought as he realized he must have spoken out loud and how it would sound to someone who didn't know what he knew. How to explain?
"Relax, please" Jim started. "I know him, I know how his body reacts, I was hoping for broken ribs" he continued. The look didn't change. Crap not the right words, shouldn't have said 'hoping'.
He was dead, figuratively, if not literally, if he didn't make him understand quickly. "Unconscious, broken ribs, easy to fix but he'd go out with that type of pain. Not broken means it has to be something worse." Whew success, Ed's demeanor changed from I'll kill you to worry.
"Explain" was all Ed said.
"Blondie, err Sam to you, has a high pain threshold. It has to be bad to send him unconscious. Really bad either physically or ..." Jim didn't finish. He didn't want to share the rest it wasn't his place so he tried to deflect. "I'm worried there might be internal bleeding; all the bruising on his stomach. That would be bad, something like that he'd be out. It has me real worried" he concluded.
"Boss, we need air-evac NOW, possible internal bleeding. The police helicopter cannot get him out. There is nowhere to land, no clearing large enough and it's not outfitted with a hoist" was Ed's tightly controlled response to Jim's explanation.
"Let me find out air-evac ETA, hold tight" Greg responded. Switching to the proper channel he communicated the need and did not like the response. "Are you sure? Nothing else is available. Any others with a faster response time from surrounding areas? Do what you can, we have a badly injured SRU officer, possible internal bleeding."
Frustrated and upset Greg switched back to channel six "Eddie, bad news. Air-evac ETA is two hours. They are busy with a eight car pileup. They say nothing closer with capability to extract without landing."
"We need options guys and fast" Ed replied. The team started considering possible options. They needed to get Sam to a hospital and quickly. No one was happy.
Army CH-146 Griffon Helicopter - Inflight
"Captain Blain?" queried Corporal Simons who was currently flying in an Army CH-146 Griffon approximately sixty-five km away from Sam's location.
"Yeah Winds, what's so important you're using titles?" Blaze asked knowing something was up. His communications specialist was rarely formal. It usually indicated something out of the ordinary was happening.
"Blaze, been listening to local air chatter. There's a situation not far from us. The SRU has an officer in need of air-evac. A medic rappelled to his location, says possible internal bleeding. Air-evac ETA two hours. They need to hoist him out given the terrain, no aircraft available sooner outfitted with one. I was thinking we should help" Winds said.
"We're finished with the training op. Let me see if we can get authorization. You locate who I need to speak with at SRU if we get it" Blaze replied then proceeded to communicate with his base commander to obtain authorization to assist.
Once authorization was obtained Winds patched Blaze through to the right channel. "This is Captain Blain, with Army Special Ops. May I speak with Sergeant Greg Parker?" Blaze asked over the SRU channel one.
Sergeant Winter motioned for Greg to switch to channel one that someone needed to speak with him. "This is Sergeant Parker, who am I speaking with?" Greg asked.
"Captain Blain, Special Ops. I hear you have a situation. We'd like to help" Blaze replied.
"How can you help?" Greg replied curiously.
"We just finished our training op. Heard you had an injured officer that needed air lifted. We are currently about ten to fifteen minutes out from your location. Our bird is outfitted with a hoist and cage. We are experienced in extractions" Blaze returned.
"Thank you. We would very much appreciate your help" Greg said relieved. He then gave Captain Blain the coordinates and had them switch to channel six.
Rouge Park - Ravine
Ed, Spike and Jules were standing a little away from Sam and Jim. They were still trying to come up with options. Nothing looked good. When Sarge said "Ed, good news, help is ten minutes out. Patching in Captain Blain so the two of you can define a plan."
Ed and Blaze spoke and worked out a plan. When they arrived they would send down two of their team with the backboard, cage and four harnesses. Once the plan was defined everyone felt a small relief. Jim had checked Sam's vitals again and was setting up an IV when Sam's eyes opened.
Sam blinked a few times getting his eyes to focus. He noticed Ed, Jules and Spike off to his right talking. Ow, damn must be the medic to the left he reasoned feeling the sting of an IV being inserted. Sam flicked his eyes to the left to look at the medic. The uniform confirmed it was a medic. He looked familiar. A name filtered into his head.
"Patch?" he said but no sound was emitted. Not believing his eyes he blinked several times but always presented with the same image when they opened. Was he dreaming or worse hallucinating. It couldn't be Patch, not here. Could it be him? He tried again to speak "Patch?" This time it was a faint hoarse sound but was loud enough for Jim to hear.
Jim finished taping the IV and looked into Sam's cautious questioning eyes and smiled. "Yeah Blondie it's me. I was surprised to see you. Missed ya a lot buddy. Hold tight. Evac is a few minutes out. Rest for now. I'm here. I'll take care of you now." Then he placed a hand on Sam's left arm and gave it a small squeeze like he had done way too many times before.
Sam did not know what to think. Patch said he missed him. How is that possible? They hated him. How could Patch miss him? Sam recognized the gesture, a squeeze of his arm, one that had comforted him many times. Patch had told him once that he did it to let Sam know he cared.
So why did he do it now? He didn't care about him anymore. How could he care? Sam had done the unthinkable, killed their brother. Patch hated him now. Unable to comprehend, his mind too jumbled, his body in too much pain, he simply stared at Patch, no hint of emotion showing.
Jim's conversation attracted the attention of the team. They hurried over and knelt close.
"Samo, man it's good to see you awake. Told me no naps in the forest. Promised me no unacceptable risks. Do we need to review that definition again?" Ed said strictly but with smile as he lightly patted Sam's right leg.
"Got ya a cool ride coming. No regular air-evac for you. Army bird on the way. Only the best will do for our Samtastic. But seriously buddy, you have to stop this. Three times in the same day. This is not what we had in mind for a profoundly unique day. Just sayin" Spike wisecracked needing to ease the tension.
Jules stroked her fingers through his hair caressing his head. "You scared us. Just be still and let us help you. It will be okay. You will be okay. We will keep you safe" she said. Worry was etched on her face as she noticed that his face was completely devoid of emotion. He did not respond to their comments. His eyes had gone blank.
Sam was shutting down. He did not know how to handle this. It was too foreign. They did not act or say what he expected. Experience told him they were to yell and condemn him, to flay him alive with words for killing Aaron.
His mind grappled for explanation. Maybe he was unconscious and just dreaming, his mind creating the acceptance he so desperately wanted. But the pain he felt in his head, chest and arm was all too real.
Too many conflicting emotions. This was too much. Today was too much. His eyes slipped closed just as the Griffon appeared overhead.
Jim quickly checked his vitals. His heart rate was a bit faster and still thready. Jim was glad the evac was here. Something was seriously wrong with Blondie. There were physical injuries for sure but the lack of emotion on his face scared the hell out of him.
God he wished Matt or the Lieutenant were here, they'd know what to do. Matt was the best at pulling Sam back but the Lieutenant could do it too.
Matt and the Lieutenant had developed a fast method to help assess what was needed when Blondie got back when assigned to other units. Just two simple questions; 'How long?' and 'How bad?' Given the state Blondie was usually in after those missions it had to be simple.
How long would tell them his physical state. How many days he laid in his sniper perch unmoving unable to eat or drink much. How bad, god the answer to that one was tough to hear sometimes. It broke their hearts.
The General was a sadistic bastard to keep sending Blondie on all those missions. He treated Blondie like he was a sniper robot without a soul. Matt had said once he thought the General was trying to see how many kills it would take to completely tear apart a soul. How bad, was the number of people Blondie killed on a mission. Jim knew those questions did not apply here but he recognized the blankness and Sam needed someone to help pull him back from the brink.
His train of thought was interrupted as two men rappelled down. Jim bent down and rechecked the IV and vitals again and readied Blondie for transport. Ed and Spike went to meet them and help with the supplies.
"Captain Blain?" Ed asked loudly to be heard over the noise of helo as he approached the army officer.
"That's me, but call me Blaze everyone does and this is Winds" Blaze responded even louder reaching out to shake Ed's hand.
Jim's head shot up instantly and looked in their direction.
"BLAZE, WINDS?" Jim bellowed not believing they were there. Everyone turned and stared at Jim.
"Patch?" Blaze questioned as he took in the sight of his old buddy. He could always read Patch, an open book to him. Fear, concern and relief were running through him with equal measure.
"Found Blondie, it's bad" he said flatly as he pointed to the SRU officer on the ground.
"Holy shit!" was all Blaze could say as he and Winds stared at Sam and processed what Patch had said. It was something they had said way too often 'found Blondie, it's bad'. It meant action now, questions later.
Blaze immediately called out commands. Sam was quickly strapped to the board and into the cage and hoisted to the helicopter. In record time they had Sam secured in the bird along with three other SRU officers and one medic. The trip to the hospital was quick. During the entire flight six people silently watched an unconscious Sam/Blondie hoping he was going to be okay.