Jim tossed in the grip of a nightmare, unable to rouse himself from the depth of sleep to escape the horrors that plagued him at night. The cabin was cold, frost forming on the windows and a deep chill permeating the dark corners of the furnished interior. A small wood stove smouldered in a corner, a small pocket of heat which didn't dissipate the cold, in the cabin, or in Jim's heart.
It had been two months since the funeral, but it seemed both like it was yesterday and an eternity to Jim. The nights were filled with images of death, destruction, fear and guilt. The image of Blair tumbling down into darkness was forever ingrained in his dreams, dooming him to repeat that minute of dread over and over in his dreams.
With a shout, he bolted upright, crying out into the darkness of the cabin's small space. But there was no one there to ask if he was all right, to talk with, ultimately dispelling the demons that could only be assuaged by one man. One man, who would never be there to make him hot tea to soothe his head and allow him to be vulnerable, even if just for a night.
With a weary sigh, Jim swung his leg out over the edge of the bed and allowed the covers to sink off his body and onto the mattress. He padded to the wood stove and stoked the glowing embers. An extra piece of wood added some heat, and Jim placed a small kettle on top of the stove to boil.
He whirled around, seeking the source of the sound. He could have sworn he had heard something. A flicker in the corner of his eye brought his head whipping around towards the small sink and mirror that were discreetly tucked in a corner.
He drew nearer, a green flicker drawing the breath from his body. It couldn't be. But it was. As he faced the spotted mirror, the silver turning green on the back, a figure glowed within its depths. It shimmered and slowly formed shape.
*Hey, man* The peel of laughter was like the chime of church bells on a cold morning when the sun sparkles off freshly fallen snow.
"B...Blair?" Jim's voice was filled with disbelief.
*The one and only* Blair's shimmering face had a wry grin. Jim swallowed.
*Come off it, Jim. You could see some dead woman you never met but you wouldn't be able to see your best friend?*
"But she had something left to do..." Jim trailed off yet again, suddenly seeing where this odd conversation was going.
*And I don't?* Blair shook his head, hair shifting about his face in a shimmering mass. *I left too soon, Jim. I wasn't done. And neither were you. I can't leave until we're finished.*
"How?" Jim felt like a record stuck in the same groove, unable to comprehend how this was possible. But he was a Sentinel. He had seen and heard things which he never thought possible. His world had expanded in more ways than just with his sense, and he owed it all to the man whom he saw before him.
Blair raised a hand, holding it up and splaying the fingers as if pressing them against the glass of the mirror. Jim copied his action and when their fingers met, a tingle went through the tips of Jim's fingers and a shiver went up his arm. The figure in the mirror disappeared.
"No!" Jim grabbed the edges of the mirror in both hands, feeling the rim bit into his skin. He wanted to see his friend again. He couldn't lose him again. Despair rushed through his heart, the cold returning to the briefly lit space in his soul. It was an illusion. A trick of the light. A wish that couldn't be fulfilled no matter how hard he tried. Blair was gone. Jim felt his eyes prickle and he leaned heavily on the lip of the sink, staring into his own eyes and the emptiness that dwelt within.
With a final glance at the mirror with the hopes of seeing his friend and Guide, Jim turned away and went to the large picture window that overlooked the lake. The sky was black, stars sprinkled across the heavens like a dusting of dew on grass. Suddenly a bright flash shot across the inky darkness. A falling star streaked over the hilltops that were crowned with snow, lighting up the sky with its brilliance.
Jim closed his eyes.
*I'll never be gone, Jim. I won't let you fall.*
The music of the soft whisper resonated in Jim's heart.
*I'll be with you. Trust me*
The scariest words on earth, but they were the only ones which Jim wanted to hear. He returned to his cooling bed, bundled himself in the covers and lay his head on the pillow. His dreams would be filled with light and laughter. The demons would be banished. And the Sentinel would return to his post, his duty, and his destiny.