Sequel to: A Lost Soul.
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Blair was alive.
He decided to come back.
At the fountain, a morning many days ago, he was drowned, was dead, but nevertheless he survived.
During his strange vision, Jim clearly saw the wolf. The same wolf that in a dreadful dream just a few of nights before that morning, he had pierced and killed with an arrow and then it morphed in the naked body of the young anthropologist.
Now that wolf, Blairs animal spirit was running into the jungle, leaving life, leaving the Sentinel.
It had been Incacha who had told him how to stop his friend. Becoming the panther, using his animal spirit, anyway he could, to guide back Sandburg.
It was almost a joke, he, the Sentinel to guide his Guide.
But it was successful. It had happened really Something so incredible that he couldnt even begin to describe it. A blinding light, the running wolf stopping and then turning towards him, no, not him, but a panther, a black panther, then both running fast towards the other till they jumped in the air, merging in an explosion of energy. Then Ellison had heard it. A feeble thump, then another, just imperceptible but it was a heartbeat nonetheless.
Coming back to the campus reality the detective had resumed the CPR again and after some tense moments, it had happened. The miracle that no one dared more to hope for.
Blair began to breathe again, fighting with his waterlogged lungs, while tears of joy glistened in the eyes of Simon, Megan and the others.
And in that moment, Jim too, with Blair had begun to live again.
After that rebirth forever impressed in the detectives memory, Jim was so happy to have his Guide still with him, that what happened later on Sierra Verde with Alex, the Temples of Sentinels, his visions faded in the background.
He and the long-legged bitch, together on the beach, clutched and excited, with Sandburg, a shocked witness to their passion and of a gun dangerously pointed towards him.
This time though, the outcome had been different in spite of the dramatic events it had followed.
But now, it was all over.
Alex Barnes was confined in a mental institution, lost in her mind on a one-way journey. The gas canisters had been recovered without incident, and all seemed to return to normality.
Jim decided that it was the better thing to do. To sink those long and terrible weeks into oblivion, forgetting all about it.
Now they could go on with their lives. He and Blair, together, like always.
In work, like in their friendship.
In fact, after their return to Cascade, Blair agreed to return to the loft with Jim.
Sure, things werent still very smooth between them. Blair was still on the mend, a bit too silent and withdrawn, but it was just a time thing. So much had happened in a real short lapse of time.
Sandburg was dead, for heaven sake! There was a need just of time to recover, to process like Blair said and Jim was able to give to the kid all the time of the world to erase that terrifying chapter in their lives.
God, Incacha, the fate, whatever had give them, to him, another chance, Jim promised to himself that he wasn't going to waste it.
Truth be told, Blair had tried once or twice to break into Jims armour of refusal to deepen the subject, wanting to bring to light the spiritual aspect and the vision that both had shared at the fountain. But Jim had been inflexible till Blair had stopped insisting, or perhaps he simply gave up in order to cope with that particular and upsetting moment in his life totally by himself. No Naomi, no Jim, no one.
But Ellison wasnt a man of words. He was an action-man. Blair knew it, he understood his Sentinel more than Jim understood himself. It was for this reason that he was again by the side of his partner.
They were friends. Just this was important.
"Jiiiiim!!! Are you listening to me? Jim!!!"
Capt. Banks gruff voice woke the detective from his reverie.
"Sorry, Sir. I guess that I was lost in my thoughts for a moment or two."
"You can say so, my friend. I was beginning to worry. I was afraid you zoned on me."
"No, Simon, just thinking about our favourite and only observer, you know. Still now. I cannot stop reliving again what happened that day at Hargrove Hall. Everytime I close my eyes, I see his body on the grass. Damp. Cold. Lifeless. Sometimes I find myself looking at him and I cannot still believe that he is alive, breathing, whole."
"Yeah, the kid is a living miracle, if you ask me. He has been lucky. All of us, we have been lucky, to have him still with us."
"Amen to that."
"Well, when do you think that our professor will come back to my bullpen? Your pile of paperwork is reaching embarrassing levels "
"I hope soon. He is still recovering, He still having nightmares almost every night since our return to Cascade. I think that its normal in those circumstances, but for the rest, its allright. Till yesterday he was staying to the Uni nearly all day. He says that he had so much work to catch up on account of his long absence.
So practically, lately I dont see him too often if at all. Then this friend of his called him for help in a move and so this morning he left, to go to Arizona, I think. Anyway, its just for a few days. You know Sandburg, he cannot say no if someone needs him."
"Yeah Jim, I know this very well. So, how are things between you now?!"
"What do you mean, Sir?"
"I mean, do you think you'll be able to resolve your problems and therefore I can still count on having my best team entirely effective."
"I dont see why not, Simon. Sure, Blair and me have had our ups-downs and through very difficult moments but its past. We all right."
"Are you really sure, Jim? Can I ask you how you two have sorted out your little divergence? Have you discussed it? Have you reasoned, speaking heart to heart, face-to-face? Or do have you limited yourself to a slap on the back and to We're allright now Chief, aren't we? with Blair obviously nodding just to please you?!"
"I dont understand what are you trying to tell me, Simon. Alex is locked out probably forever in her mind, Blair is alive, hes come back to the loft and to Uni and very soon here in M.C., so Sir, if you let me, all is right in my world!"
"All is right in In your world Jim? And what can you tell me of Blairs world? Isnt that important for you? My God, Jim. I really dont understand you. Blair died! He drowned and he was dead for a while. Have you spoken with him about this? Asked him what he felt, what he fells now after his experience? No, dont bother to answer me. I think that I can guess by myself this answer. Am I right?"
"All right! Blair and I havent any heart to heart talk of that day. Why, though? ---Its past. Its behind us now. Why do we have live again those moments? I just want to forget that day, erase it totally from my life. What is so wrong with that, uh? Can you tell me?"
"Jim, I can only say to you that for me its wrong. Its a mistake to try to disregard something like what happened to you. You are a clever man, Jim, you are an excellent cop and you are a Sentinel, too. You cope with dangers everyday. Your life is on the line but its your job, so okay. But youll admit that when it deals with your privacy you become a real bear, or a hedgehog or in this case an ostrich. You prefer to bury your head in the sand instead of taking the bull by the horns. Its important for you that I specify who is the bull and what are the horns?"
"A very bucolic example, Simon. My congratulations! But I think that you are exaggerating. Alright, maybe I have been a bit too hard with Blair "
"Okay, okay. I have been a real asshole, are you happy now? Anyway, also Blair said that my attitude was affected by Alexs presence. A sort of mechanism related to the Sentinels instincts to protect his territory. So, if Blair, too, has been able to understand it, to explain it to me, why cant you to do the same?"
"What Im trying to tell you, Jim "
"Whatever you are trying to tell me, Sir, I afraid itll have to wait till tomorrow, Its about 7 pm and even if Blair is away for some days I promised him that I will try behave myself well, you know, no wonder burger, no new products of any kind, just to help any unexpected reaction to my senses or a sudden zone out."
"Always a Guide even when he isnt here with you."
"Allright, detective, you can go for now, but remember that we haven't finished this discussion. Its just put off for tonight."
"Yes, Captain, see you tomorrow, Sir!"
"Go home, Ellison. Now!"
Arriving back at the loft, Jim lost most of his cockiness when he stopped to look around the silent apartment. Images of his bare loft during the Barnes case were embedded in his mind, so like the night when he had filled many boxes with Blairs belongings.
He has acted impulsively, thinking to protect Blair from a danger that Jim hadn't succeeded in pinpointing.
At that moment, sending Sandburg away it had seemed to be the most logical thing to do but it had turned out to be a terrible mistake.
Left alone, without his Sentinel beside him, Blair had been vulnerable, helpless in Alexs hands.
Ant it was Jims fault.
Sure, he kept on repeating to himself that all it was in the past, dead and buried. They had both survived.
Still standing in the center of his living room, the detective felt something tugging in the recess of his mind.
Another sensation, another warning
However the Sentinel tried to dismiss it, he felt that something was wrong with Blair, with his leaving.
Unconsciously Jim found himself in Blairs little room and what he saw, to say that it was appalling was an understatement. Blairs stuff, his clothes, his books and treasures there were still in the boxes, resting haphazardly as he had tossed them that fateful night when he had thrown out his Guide from his home and his life.
Suddenly the previous feeling became a physical nuisance, something much like an instinctive fear and then Jim Ellison knew it. In his heart, something had clicked all of sudden revealing the truth just in front his incredibly blind eyes. Blair hadn't gone away to help a friend but he had left because the man that he believed his best friend, his blessed protector' hadnt succeeded in helping him deal with the most awful event of his life. Jim hadnt wanted and didn't listen to him, leaving Blair fight alone his demons, his memories.
It was he, Jim, the betrayer, not Blair. Never Blair.
Blair had tried and tried again, but Gabe had been quite right---it didn't make any sense to be a Sentinel if you can only listen to your own heart and not that of who is near to you.---
It was in the void of that silent room, that for the first time Jim realized how empty his life was, and his soul without Blair, especially now that he could not feel his presence, especially now that without his Guide, Jim Ellison was no more a Sentinel.
In fact, his enhanced senses, his gift as Blair called them, were missing, just like Sandburg.
Now he was just a man alone.
Alone with his thoughts and regrets.