Disclaimer: Just borrowed, briefly. NOT part of my "For a Male Guide" series.
Warning: Violence, Partner Betrayal, Hurt N/C, Death Story
"Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not." Matthew ii. 18.
"If it were possible to heal sorrow by weeping and to raise the dead with tears, gold were less prized than grief." Sophocles
Simon Banks was no stranger to crying. Hed heard his son, Daryl, cry in hunger, fear, pain, and frustration. Hed heard his ex-wife, Joan, weep in anger, sorrow, and even joy. Hed heard wives bewail lost husbands and husbands wives. Hed heard parents mourning for children and children for parents. Hed heard perps cry in real or pretended contrition. But he had never heard anything as gut-wrenching as this.
When his knock had gone unanswered, he used the key hed been given and let himself into the loft. As the door opened, he heard it. It was not the cry of a spoiled child. It was not the sound of physical pain. It was the sound a man makes when he has never cried before, and so is inexpert at it. It was the desolate weeping of someone without hope of comfort, a soul-crushing sound of loss and despair. It was a sound that reflected grief, and guilt, and a kind of loneliness.
Banks had been angry when he set out, but now he didnt know what to do with his anger. He couldnt possibly inflict it against the desolation already present.
The problems between Sentinel and Guide had been building for a year, a year that had seen the Sentinel repeatedly accuse the Guide of betrayal while the Sentinel, himself, repeatedly betrayed the Guide. He betrayed him by breaking their original agreement, despite how well the Guide had kept up his own end. Hed done it by accusing his Guide of treason in the wake of Alex Barnes, while he himself behaved traitorously with her. The Sentinel had failed to trust the Guide and so had read what he was asked not to read and then hed failed to act when asked to do so in light of the crimes of a Brad Ventriss.
The final straw had been when the dissertation had been leaked to the press. Yes, the Sentinel had agreed it could be written. Yes, he had not exactly made the effort to keep his colleagues from finding out what he could do. Yes, he knew that the Guide would never have chosen publicity and money over loyalty and friendship. But loss of control led to anger and anger was so much easier than understanding or acceptance. Thus, he had forced a second kind of death on his Guide, the destruction of his academic life, his name, and his reputation.
Then, Banks himself stepped in and had worked out a way for the Sentinel to regain control of his life and his Guide, by working it out so that the Guide could move completely into the Sentinels life, in all ways, at last. The two older men had offered the younger a badge.
In public, the latter had joked about his hair and had seemed open to the idea, but later, on their return to the loft, his attitude had changed. Hed tried, once again, to talk to the Sentinel about the situation. The Sentinel had once again shut him down. This time, however, the Guide refused to be shut-down. Hed named truths in the harsh light. Hed admitted his faults and demanded the Sentinel do the same. He asked difficult questions about the friendship and the original agreement. Then, he set out to show, step by step, fraud by resentment, why the DA and the uniforms would never accept him as the Sentinels partner. There had been no safe obfuscations, no pretty lies, and none of his usual attempts to soothe.
When the Sentinel had no answers, no apologies or excuses, no words at all, the Guide had turned toward the small room under the stairs and announced that hed be packing. He couldnt stay; there was clearly nothing to stay for. If the Sentinel really believed everything hed accused the Guide of doing, then there was no trust between the two, no friendship, no bond because the Sentinel didnt trust the Guide. Moreover, if the Sentinel didnt really believe everything hed accused the Guide of doing, but had made no effort to apologize or retract his statements, then the Guide had no reason to trust the Sentinel, leading to the same outcomes.
The Sentinel was not a man of words, but of action. He had no control of the conversation and the words of the Guide felt like an attack, and he reacted to that feeling as he would have to any other assault, by lashing out physically. His first punch broke the younger mans jaw and the second his nose. The third cracked ribs, and the fourth broke them, pushing one into the lung behind it. As he pulled back his arm for a fifth swing, the body before him finally sank to the ground. The Guide was out cold, barely able to breath between the blood in his nose and mouth and the slowly collapsing lung. The punches had been full-strength, meant to injure, to harm, and they had.
As the younger man fell, the fury that had briefly brought the Sentinel to act faded into horror. He called 911 and set about doing what little he could to make sure the other man kept breathing. When the EMTs arrived, theyd worked feverishly to stabilize their patient and then sped off with him. The ER contacted Banks, and hed gone down to the hospital, thinking to support the Sentinel in a vigil. The absence of the Sentinel told Banks what he could still hardly believe.
So, hed driven to the loft, ready to confront, suspend, and arrest his lead detective. There was no way out of this. Police officers who beat their domestic partners--lovers, family or friendswere automatically suspended and charged. And this, this was Jim, and Blair. How the hell had this happened?
His mother had already gone without leaving any contact information, too traumatized on her own behalf to keep in touch. His University friends had already deserted him, and, if they heard, they secretly believed hed deserved it. The majority of those in the Police Department thought hed had it coming and expressed regret only that "a good man" had been brought down by it all. The members of Major Crime were too stunned, even Banks. Blair left Cascade, checking out AMA as soon as he could, and, alone, unmourned, quietly died not six months later of pneumonia brought about by poor living conditions, loneliness, despair, and lungs forever damaged by life and previous death at the hands of Sentinels.
Jim served his short prison term for assault, all it in protective solitary confinement, watched over by solicitous and sympathetic guards. He had lots of visitors, mostly from Major Crimes, but also from the rest of the PD and his brother and father. Upon his release on probation, he took a Forest Service job, keeping a fire watch, his senses mostly dulled, but still heightened enough for this work without the fear of a Guide-less zone. During the long days, both of confinement and freedom, he mostly managed not to think, but his dreams were often full of a laughing, colorful friend with the mercy that was too late for daylight.
Banks, curiosity and his conscience striking too late, finally traced Blairs last days a year after the other mans death. It hadnt been difficult. The young man hadnt made any effort to hide his whereabouts. Banks wondered what it had been like for Blair, despised although innocent, to know that no one had even looked for him. Suddenly he heard the sound again, the sound hed once heard coming from the loft, and he realized that this time, the sound was coming from him.