Who protects who

By Antonella

FEEDBACK TO: antonella_stelitano@virgilio.it

Jim’s thoughts:

Something was different.

He could not pinpoint exactly what he had noted those days but something definitely wasn’t right.

He had another confirmation to his senses when he entered the loft.

Darkness and silence.

Sure, at 11.30 pm you didn't expect ‘Metallica’ music in your living room but at least the light in the kitchen, something that Blair and he had always left on for each other when coming back at the night, was, instead, sadly off.

It seemed that lately Blair had set aside their habits for a new lifestyle.

In fact, in the last weeks, Sandburg seemed to have set out his previous priority in a new order and Jim had the distinct impression that now his place in the student’s life had sunk very low.

During the past years, Ellison had seen his Guide through varying difficult moments, both at Uni, especially all through the finals, and working with the PD often at really gruesome cases or working on the Sentinel’s senses.

Nevertheless, Blair succeeded in coping with it all with uncommon sensibility and willpower.

Maybe the observer had simply reached his breakdown.

Perhaps it was something of which the detective was unaware. Then, this meant that Blair was keeping something from him.

Something of real importance to reduce, in very little time, his bouncing roommate to a total hermit.

In the first days, Jim though that for some reason, his partner was angry with him. Missing was the camaraderie, conversation was next to nothing, but more disturbing to Jim was that Blair was refraining from human touch like some sort of phobia.

Oh, he acted apparently as nothing was the matter but Jim had seen the ‘flinch’ when someone or even Ellison touched him.

But also Blair's reaction over an accident at the loft two days before, well to say it had been spectacular was an understatement.

A broken dish, a cut not too deep on his palm and some blood drops on the floor. Nothing serious, after all, except for finding his friend on his knees, eyes transfixed on the blood.

When the cop had put a hand under Blair’s elbow to help him to get up and to tend the cut, Sandburg come back suddenly from his personal ‘zone out’, jerking his arm from Jim.

In a frenzied succession of half muttered words that the sentinel's hearing succeeded to make out, Blair had wrapped a towel around his palm to stop the blood and threw down a mop on the dish’s fragments, tossing out all in the waste bin.

After having carefully mopped the floor, Blair dashed into the bathroom to emerge some minutes after, still slightly worked up and his hand freshly bandaged, while his astonished partner was still between the kitchen and the living room, trying to sort out the events.

A shy smile, a shrug of shoulders and Sandburg had dismissed the incident, withdrawing into his room.

But the anthropologist’s elevated heartbeat was to Ellison the unequivocal hint of his real state of mind.

Now the cop was more than worried for his Guide.

He was afraid.

Even if Sandburg didn’t seemed actually depressed, he was building a firm wall around him as to keep all out of his life, much alike he had done before meeting his unforeseeable partner.

For this reason, Ellison swore that he would succeed in getting inside that wall and help Blair with any devil he was fighting.

Blair’s thoughts

The soft click of the doorknob told Blair that Jim was home.

A sad sigh escaped from his lips.

Two weeks gone, another to go.

He could, he must do it.

His first plan to fly away from the loft had miserably failed when Seattle’s seminary, on which he reckoned as a good excuse to leave Cascade, had been postponed to a later date.

So he hadn’t had other choice but to stay, pretending that was ok in his world.

He had made a point to spend all his time at the Uni, buried in his office. An excellent way to catch up with his dues and grade his students’ tests.

Besides, the Seattle seminary with a bit of obfuscation was becoming a cycle of interdisciplinary course open to the teaching staff from Monday to Friday, obviously in late evening.

Congratulations, Sandburg, really clever of you, the TA had thought to himself.

In this way he'd spent the last 15 days. Fortunately, in the same period, Jim was engaged with court and minor cases, so the observer hadn’t been really needed at the precinct, and those few of times that he’d gone there, well it hadn’t been so smooth and the weekends were a merry go-round of excuses and little lies.

He kept on repeating to himself not to be so paranoid, that the possibility of being infected, and in turn to infect someone else, wasn’t really high, but it existed nonetheless, and he couldn’t ignore it.

So Blair had decided to react, to keep on with his life in some ways and to be extremely careful.

In spite of this, two days ago Sandburg forgot his good purposes and lost himself when he had accidentally broken a dish and picking it up the shards, the largest piece deeply cut his hand.

He was stayed there, still mesmerized by his own blood that you could almost say that he was zoned like a certain Sentinel named Ellison.

The images that often invaded his last nightmares came back, in live Technicolor, in his mind.

The fear that the anthropologist tried to keep a bay during those long days came unbidden, making his heart beat furiously and he forgot how to breathe.

When Jim had put his hand on his shoulder, Blair was dragged back from his personal zone, and he jumped up, mopped the whole mess, then he'd gone to the bathroom to treat his injury. Thoroughly bandaging his limb, he came out to find Jim still between the kitchen and the living room with a very puzzled expression on his face.

Knowing that his partner was ready to play ‘twenty questions’ with him, Blair had tactfully retired in his room to check his mailbox on the net.

Now there was still a week of waiting, and Sandburg was at the end of his rope.

He had to go away, find a quiet place to wait for the feared call and to have his own breakdown without an audience. Where he could be worried and depressed without having to pretend with anyone, above all with Jim.

His Blessed Protector, who had patiently beared his taciturn Guide in his difficult moments.

Sandburg knew that sooner or later he had to explain many things to Jim, whether the test results were negative or not.

Something happened though, the following day, before Blair had a chance to talk to Jim, and that event sent everything in an entirely different direction.

Fin

July 2003