Debbie Tripp

Rating: PG-13 (a few words)

Beta'd: Thanks to Lyn for the fast beta job and helping me with Jim's reaction. I've added a little more so any remaining mistakes are mine.

Warnings: Blair is a police officer (briefly)

Disclaimer: I do not own The Sentinel characters and this is done solely for entertainment purposes and no money is being made.

Summary: Blair has doubts about his new career and what he's had to give up.

This is written in response to Helen W's March themefic in which she said: I want something in which Blair is a cop and is finding he's not cut out for the job. Hope this fits the bill.


He had graduated with honors from the police academy, first in his class, first in firearms, first in everything. But no one knew the price he had paid. He had somehow been able to keep it from Jim, even though he drove back and forth weekly from the police academy to Cascade, in order to keep up to date with any problems Jim might be having with his senses or any cases he was basically handling on his own. Jim had outright refused to be teamed up with any other partner, except on occasion, Joel, but when Joel was transferred back to the Bomb Squad, Jim didn't want anyone else. Jim had told Simon that Blair was his partner, would always be his partner and he didnt want Blair to become jealous if he returned and saw Jim working with someone else.

It didn't matter that Blair had given Jim his blessing to accept another partner. Especially in those early days of the police academy when everyone was out to prove that Blair Sandburg just didn't have what it took to survive the grueling regimen. One by one, Blair took them all on and proved himself over and over again. It was the worst experience he had ever gone through, including when he had started at Rainier and had gotten beaten up on a regular basis. Blair had an inner toughness that he called on to survive the police academy, one he had developed as a college student some fifteen years prior.

After graduation, it wasn't a fast track to being Jim Ellison's partner. Jim was under the illusion that Blair would just jump in and they would be partnered up like before. But there was a six month probationary period and Blair had to survive as a uniformed officer.

He was teamed up with a veteran uniformed officer, George Wilson, on the job twenty years and one of the best training officers on the force. He and George got along once Blair decided George's way was the way to do things. If Blair even tried to show initiative, George would write him up and put the report in Blair's file. By the end of the first month, a second folder had to be started for Officer Blair Sandburg. He had learned his place, though. He didn't mention anything about it to Jim, and Jim never suspected anything.

Jim knew Wilson was Blair's training officer and whenever Jim would ask him about Blair, George would say things were going fine. For his part, Blair didn't say much when he got to see Jim, which wasn't very often, because Blair had been put on the overnight shift. He would get home after Jim had left for the station.

At the end of six months, Jim was expecting Blair's appointment to Major Crime and his rank to junior detective. But it didn't happen. Jim thought maybe there had just been a glitch and the paperwork had been misplaced. He went to ask Simon about it.

Simon knew Jim would wonder why Blair wasn't settling in with Major Crime. Simon had spoken to Blair and understood Blair's decision. Blair had promised to explain things to Jim and make him understand too. Apparently, Blair hadn't had the opportunity to explain to Jim yet.

Simon looked up when Jim walked into his office. "Have a seat, Jim."

"I just want to know what the holdup is with Sandburg's appointment to Major Crime. His probationary period ended last week."

"Have you talked to Blair lately, Jim?"

"Not really. He's been on the overnight shift and we miss each other because of the times. Is something wrong, Simon?"

"You need to talk to Blair, Jim. He's not coming to Major Crime."

Jim jumped up from his chair. "What! He's not staying in uniform, is he? He told me he'd be my partner. We've been going through all of this just so he can be my partner. He can't"

"Jim! Calm down and sit down! He's not staying in uniform. You need to talk to him."

"I don't even know where he is."

"He's in interrogation room one. He told me to send you there."

Jim left Simon's office, making a beeline to interrogation room one. He flung open the door and saw Blair standing by the one-way mirror. Jim closed the door behind him.

Blair was dressed in khakis and a sweater, had his backpack on his shoulder. He was staring at the floor. Jim could see the sad look on his face. With short hair, Blair's face was no longer obscured.

"What's wrong, Blair? Simon just told me you're not going to be coming to Major Crime. What is going on?"

"I'm a screw-up, Jim. And I'm tired of having to prove myself. I'm never going to live up to your expectations. Or anyone else's. I can't be a police officer. It's not in my makeup, in my character. My mom was right. I'm not cut out for this kind of work. At least, not here in Cascade, where everyone knows my past, present and obviously my future. I wanted to explain things to you, Jim, but I knew you'd be disappointed in me. I'm going to be leaving you, just like everyone else in your life."

"No, you won't, Chief. You leave, I leave. We're partners. No matter where we go."

"Jim, I can't let you do that."

"It's not your choice, Darwin. I'm a grown man, able to make decisions for myself. I can get a job anywhere. People here know my past, present and future too. If we go off somewhere else, together, then we can start new. You can put all your training and learning to use and we can be partners. Did you come up with somewhere to go?"

"Well, I was thinking somewhere warm. Maybe California, Arizona, Florida"

"Not Florida, Sandburg. Too wet. Maybe we could try Hawaii?"

"Sure. I hadn't looked into that, but we could. You would really do this for me?"

"Why do you sound so surprised? You gave up your whole academic career for me."

"But what if I can't handle the pressures of being a cop? What if it's not just here in Cascade?"

"We can still go somewhere else, if you want. We can do anything you want. You can try to reclaim some academic revenge for yourself. You could still teach with a master's degree, right?"

"Yeah, I guess I could. But there'd still be a background check. They'd still know who I am."

"But your master's degree isn't tarnished, Blair. I should have suggested something like this before now. You could teach high school history, English, any number of subjects. You'd be great with high school students."

"I could do that here, and then you wouldn't have to give up being a Major Crime detective. But you would have to accept a full-time partner. I could be a consultant and help whenever you needed it with your senses. But you have to accept someone as a full-time partner."

"You can still have the appointment, Blair."

"I really can't be a police officer, Jim. Really. I'm sorry I didn't speak up before now."

"Why didn't you speak up?"

"I had disappointed you with the dissertation, and then with all my screw-ups and I had thought I could do it. Until I started going through the academy, having to prove myself to everyone there, instructors and students alike. There were taunts and beatings and other things, but I endured it. It wasn't the first time I had to."

"What do you mean, Blair?" There was a distinct growl in Jim's voice and Blair immediately recognized a pissed off Jim. "Who? Tell me who beat you up! Damn, Sandburg!" Blair watched as Jim slammed his open hand against the wall.

Blair tentatively reached out and placed his hand over Jim's. "It's okay. It's over. I survived. It was similar to when I started at Rainier. Beatings were every week occurrences. Not to mention the name calling. At least at the academy, I didn't cry, making it worse. Then I spoke back to Officer Wilson. Did you know I have two files full of reports for things I did wrong, or at least things I did against the way Officer Wilson wanted me to do them? I finally learned my lesson and kept my mouth shut. That's what this whole experience has done to me, Jim. Squashed my freedom of speech and expression. We never saw each other, so you didn't know it. I knew it would be a distraction to you if I brought it up. I talked to Simon and explained things to him, declined the Major Crime appointment and told him I'd explain things to you. I wasn't sure how to do that."

Jim looked down at Blair's hand covering his. "You did just fine, Blair. I understand. I don't like that you had to suffer and I'd still like a list of names. I don't think it has to be this way, but it's your life. As long as you promise to look into a teaching position in the area?"

"I will. I didn't think of it either. I was so focused on the university and all I had lost there, I didn't think of other options. Maybe once I get some money, I'll look into any options I might have left with the university."

"I told you I would help you with that. It's not right they just dismissed you without any hearing or telling of your side of the story. I know several professors have contacted me to let you know you have recourse. If you want to pursue it."

"I'm sorry I did a knee-jerk reaction and went for the police academy and then it didn't turn out."

"Don't apologize, Blair. You overcame great obstacles and still came out first in your class. You proved yourself: to you, to me, to the people who really care about you. And now I have you as a consultant."

"Thank you for the understanding, Jim. I wish I could be your real partner."

"You are my real partner. You're my guide. That's my partner."

Blair smiled and knew things would be okay.