Sight Unseen

by Jane Davitt

They're telling me that there's a possibility that Jim will be blind when he wakes from this coma.

There's so much wrong with that statement that I don't know where to start putting them straight. I skip to the part where I freak out until Jim's doctor tells me I'll have to leave if I don't calm down.

No one seems to think I've got a reason to freak; it's not happening to me, after all, and I'm not family or married to Jim; I'm just the man who's been mooching a room from a soft touch for the last eighteen months.

The guy who fell in love with Jim a few weeks in and can't seem to climb back out of the hole.

I settle down next to his bed, dare them to move me with a glare Jim would be envious of, and watch him breathe with help from machines, impersonally efficient. I could help him better. Could lie beside him, put my mouth on his, give him air. I think of how his lips would feel against mine and shiver, half-aroused, half-ashamed because Jim's so fucking quiet right now, so empty.

Around two in the morning, the bad thoughts come around. Naomi hates this time. She used to tell me never to act on any decision made in the middle of the night and I wonder what decision she took then that was so disastrous.

I've been feeling sorry for Jim, and trying -- failing -- to be angry at the driver who knocked him over. Only Jim would expect cars to swerve out of his way just because he was chasing a suspect across a busy road. Like the driver knew. Yeah, I can't hate Alan Johnson much. He got out of his BMW, rushed to Jim's side, called 911 when I dropped my phone twice trying to push the buttons. His skin was a deep, rich brown and his voice matched it, somehow, but his hands were shaking as much as mine. I think he hugged me when I started to cry -- I remember a shoulder against my face -- and I stopped the cops responding from giving him a hard time.

They knew Jim and they wanted a villain, but there wasn't one. Just a fragile body meeting steel and then the road and somewhere a blow to the head that screwed up something.

Jim hasn't even opened his eyes; how can they know --

I'm trying not to think the bad thoughts. The sneaky, ignoble, hateful thoughts that I'd never admit to. Like, if he loses his sight, one of his five senses, is Jim still a sentinel? They need five. He won't qualify. What happens to my research then? Do I move on? Look for a replacement?

And yet…wouldn't it be interesting to study a sentinel deprived of a sense? I could compare his abilities with the other four senses before and after the accident and see if it'd made a difference to them. I could experiment with taking away the others, one by one, something I'd thought of trying for a longer period than Jim was willing to try.

 I could --

It's at this point that I throw up, reaching the sink in the tiny bathroom just in time.

I loathe myself. I'm a monster. If my notes were here, I'd shred them, spit on them, burn them. If I were strong enough, I'd scourge my back bloody like a penitent monk.

I end up kneeling by his bed, his hand clutched in mine, tears leaking until somehow I slip from guilt to sleep, a undeserved mercy.

Two days later, Jim wakes. He's breathing by himself now, and he's been moving; small, restless twitches. Between one twitch and the next, he opens his eyes, stares at me, and says thickly, through dry, chapped lips, "Why do you look so tired, Chief?" before fading out again, rolling to his side, the trailing IV tethering him.

Jim can see.

And when he wakes properly and takes a good look at me, what will he see then? Sentinel eyes…how deep inside me can they reach?

God, I hope when it comes to me, he's still blind.

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