Living Free
by Kira

It's late.  The rain has stopped, but the tears haven't.  I can't help it.  I'm so pissed off that I could take my gun't go there.  He had to do it.  He had to be the one to let go.

"You never let me fall," were his lasts words to me.  That one sentence hurt me more than any other wound I've received in the line of duty, because I had.  I had let him fall.  I let him drown.  I let him sacrifice his degree for me, his career.  But now, he sacrificed his life.  And I did let him fall, in so many ways.

The tears won't stop.

It's the sort of day that he loved, in a twisted sort of way.  He'd bundle up in layers, put on that stupid hat of his and looked like a deranged chipmunk.  The contrast of the heat to the cold was what he liked.  The feeling of being cozy when he knew it was damp and cold outside.

I can still feel the salty water on my cheek.

He'd have liked the funeral.  It was understated, but with enough positive energy to satisfy the most staunch neo-hippy witch punk.  Naomi said a few words, Simon gave her a folded up flag, the only deference to police funerals that Naomi would permit.  She was still in denial that Blair had become a cop.  Getting killed in the line of duty wasn't what she had in mind for the passing on of her son.  It wasn't what I had in mind for the passing of my friend.

The rain is starting again.

I can't see the end of the cemetery through the fog and mist.  The minister is droning on, but I've tuned him out.  All I can hear is Blair telling me that I never let him fall.  Joel's presence at my right side is reassuring.  His solid bulk is like a rock, unmoving, but his eyes are filled with deep emotion.  He's familiar with loss, his wife having been buried in this very cemetery only three years before.  Blair and I stood with him and were rocks for him.  Now he's repaying the favour, but I think he's feeling a deep loss too.  He and Blair were close ever since the church bombings.  Fears shared are fears banished.  And Blair had almost overcome his fear of heights.  Almost.

I can taste salt on my lips.

The burial is over.  The dirt falls on the casket with a rattle.  But it's not loud.  Nothing is anymore.  My senses are normal again.  No super senses, no Sentinel experiences.  Simon expressed some concern about that, but I reassured him that my job wouldn't be affected.  I was a cop before; I would still be a cop.  I would carry on protecting the tribe, even if I weren't the watchman anymore.  Crime would still happen, criminals would need stopping, and I'd be there.  But Blair wouldn't be.

My jacket is damp and I'm starting to shiver.

Blair wouldn't be there with me, helping me with my senses, offering insight to cases in that quirky way of his.  He wouldn't be leaving wet towels on the floor, or stealing my sweater for his morning jog.  He wouldn't leave alfalfa sprout sandwiches on the coffee table, or forget to rinse out the blender after making his algae shake.  I'll be able to eat Wonderburgers without a running commentary on my arteries, and listen to Santana without cracks about my age.

The tears won't stop.

I'm not sure when Blair became part of my life, like an arm or a leg that you don't really think about until its gone.  You think it will always be there, comfortably familiar and constant.  I should have known.  I should have remembered that nothing in my life remains constant.  Those near me only find pain, from my enemies and from my own stupidity and mulishness.  I should have remembered, and I should have learned.

I don't want the tears to stop.

Simon is urging me into the car.  I obey, always the good soldier, doing my duty.  To God, my country, but never to my friends.  I hunch my shoulders beneath the black leather jacket that starts to smell like wet dog.  Blair used to smell like a wet dog when he'd come in from the rain, walking home from the university.  He'd even shake like one, his hair whipping back and forth, spraying fine droplets in the air.

The wind has picked up, howling around the car.

I'm taking a vacation, going up to a cabin that Steven has in the woods north of Cascade.  I need to think, to figure out what I'm going to do.  I know I can't quit my job.  I'm a cop as much as I was a Sentinel and it's the one thing I can do without Blair.  It won't be the same, but I can still do it.  But I need to get some quiet, some peace, some time to get my thoughts together.

A white dove flutters up from the cemetery disappearing into the grey mist.