Warning: Death story. Deals with assisted suicide; death of major characters. Be sure you want to read this; I'd understand if you'd rather stay away. My only excuse is that I was really scared when I wrote it; absolutely fear-based writing. Fortunately, it wasn't all so bad in RL in the end...
Thanks to Lyn for the beta, and Lisa for the detailed feedback!
Jim lit the candle on the nightstand, and within seconds, a soothing scent filled the room. Next, he opened the bottle of wine, pouring two glasses of the dark red fluid. After he'd pulled the curtains shut and turned on the CD player, he sat down on the bedside, handing Blair one glass. Briefly, he wrapped his fingers around the shaking hand that took it from him, smiling even though he made no attempt to hide his tears.
"There you go, partner."
"Thank you." Even the small whisper seemed to cost Blair a lot. The cancer had weakened his body to the extreme. Not that he hadn't fought, trying everything, but in the end, he'd been defeated; they both had been. Now, he was a mere shadow of the vibrant man Jim had encountered only a few years ago; the doctors had given him another month. If he was lucky.
The night after that verdict, Jim had stayed with him, holding him in his arms while Blair was crying, from pain, from fear, and because it was too fucking soon. Still, he didn't want the time and surroundings of his death to be dictated by that damn disease, and he'd given Jim that look, pleading for help--
Jim had raged at the very idea; how could Blair ask something like this of him? Then he had recalled what his life had been like before Blair, without his Guide. A decision had been made, but he'd only told Blair half of it.
Truth was, he couldn't really imagine a life without Blair Sandburg in it. They had never been lovers, his considerations weren't of the romantic kind – they were facts, plain and simple.
Their glasses clinked together, and Jim drank deeply. There was only one reason why he could, in the end, agree to fulfill Blair's wish. He had settled all affairs for both of them, and knew without a doubt that Simon would, with Megan's help, take care that they'd be respected.
Carefully, so not to disturb Blair, he lay down beside his friend.
"It will be over soon." The thought didn't hold so much sadness anymore. Their bond couldn't be broken, not even by death.
"Yeah. You know... I – I'm really grateful you... do this for me." Waves of pain interrupted his words, and Jim felt as if they crashed over his own body as well. Never in his life had he felt this close to another person.
//God, I love you so much.//
"And still... I'm afraid."
"Don't be." Jim leaned over to kiss Blair's temple. Then, very softly, his lips<,> that were cracked and dry with fever. "You won't be alone."
Blair's eyes widened as he realized immediately what Jim was saying. "No! I never... m-meant that... Jim! You can't..." He tried to sit up, but his body wouldn't obey. Tears were streaming down his face, his heart racing. "P-promise..."
Jim took the glass from him before anything was spilled, then he pulled Blair into his arms, carefully. "Don't make me promise what I can't keep," he whispered, stroking tenderly over the soft fuzz on Blair's head, a pale memory of the long curls he'd been so proud of. "I need to be with you. You know that."
"That stuff will be c-crazy on your senses! *You* are... crazy." He was silent then. Jim simply held on.
After a moment that seemed like eternity, Blair nodded against his chest. "I'm s-sorry."
"Don't be. It's not your fault. Not the cancer, or being the best friend I'll ever have. *My Guide.*"
He'd have to prepare the wine for both of them, but Jim couldn't make himself let go just yet, so he let Blair sob as long as he needed to. When he lowered him back into the soft cushions with great care, Blair's eyes were calm.
"My Sentinel," he said, his voice astonishingly steady now, smiling even through the pain. "I guess we're going into the jungle now?"
Jim took a deep breath, willingly acknowledging all the doubts that were still alive in his mind, what if they went to see just one more specialist, just one more chance... But they had seen an endless row of specialists lately, and all had told them the same. All of them had been sorry. The young doctor at Cascade General, a renowned oncologist, had cried after they left the room; Jim had heard him when they were already down in the lobby.
He felt a presence beside him, and when Jim turned to look he wasn't surprised to see the panther, eyes wise and gentle on him. Close to its side, of course, was the blue-eyed wolf, its appearance putting a happy smile on Blair's face.
"No need to wait any l-longer."
"I guess so." Jim had the wine ready now, steadying Blair while he was drinking. Slow sips; it wouldn't work if he wasn't able to keep it down. Again, he wrapped his arms around his Guide, trying hard to believe this wasn't really the end, just the passage into another world. All his life, he'd been rather cynical about religions, his and any other, and their concepts. He'd never given much thought to an afterlife or reincarnation. Right now, Jim couldn't think of any alternative.
And if it all ended in nothing, that was still better than having a life where half of his soul was torn from him.
Incacha's spirit had helped them once to turn the hands of fate around; and he'd saved Jim in the Temple of the Sentinels when he'd almost lost his mind in that pool. That had to mean something.
He listened to the beloved heartbeat, in awe once more at the utter and complete trust Blair put in him. //Blessed protector.// There was no real danger of slipping into a zone right now. He knew what he still had to do.
When his hearing could no longer detect the sounds, he kissed Blair again. Crying in a way he never had, never allowed himself since that once, secretly in his room after finding Bud murdered, his Dad asking if he wanted people to think that something wasn't right with him.
Blair had never doubted him, admired his abilities, but always chose the friendship over the more practical aspects of their relationship. "I have no regrets," he said aloud. "Knowing you makes it all worth-while, and believe me, it's the only way I can set your soul free."
The moment he said those words, the wolf disappeared. Jim took his own glass and drank the wine in one swallow.
The CD player would turn itself off after a while; the candle was burning down securely in a candleholder. Nothing to worry about anymore. He was so very tired now. "Wait for me," he whispered, pulling the colorful afghan over both of them.
Jim closed his eyes.
When the mirror burst into a thousand shards, Simon Banks knew exactly what had happened. It was so fucking unfair that he'd have to lose them both; yet he'd seen enough to know that, in the end, the deadly disease would kill Jim, too. He'd witnessed that day at the fountain how a Sentinel dealt with the loss of his Guide. But that time, they'd been so damn lucky.
The past few weeks, it had been clear that Jim didn't have the power to fight death once more.
Even knowing all this, it hurt like hell.
He'd have to call Daryl, and their friends in Major Crimes, but Simon couldn't bring himself to do that just yet. He'd need some time for himself, to come to terms with the enormity, and absurdity of this loss. Unfair indeed.
He was only now beginning to realize how lucky he'd been, as one of the few people they had confided in. To have had them both as friends. To have known them.
"And I'm damn proud of it," he said to himself. "I'll never forget."
Then he went to call Megan Connor to inform her that the Sentinel had followed his Guide on his journey.