Warnings: Angst. Slight AU. Rating: Gen Disclaimers: Not mine. Just borrowed. Author's Notes: Post-TSbBS. Spoilers for S2 and other episodes. This is a brief "overview" version of a longer story currently in the works, but I'm sending this standalone bit out as "advance scout."

Sentinels

By Jayed

EMAIL: Jayed

Bootleg copies of Blair's dissertation made the rounds of the Internet without his knowledge or permission. He had lost all control of his work when his mother hit that little "Send" key.

Blair had sought Sentinels in so many places, but he had not been able to look everywhere. He had apparently just missed encounters all over the country and even across the globe. The Press Conference did what he hadn't been able to do. It connected him with the World of Sentinels.

The Sentinels, for their part, were stunned. A Guide! A clearly unbonded Guide. No Sentinel would have put his or her bonded Guide through that telecast ordeal. A true Sentinel would have had the honor to step up and say and do the right thing. A true Sentinel would not have forced his or her Guide to be seen by the world as a fraud, a liar, and a betrayer. The pain the Guide was experiencing was obvious, and yet some foolish Sentinel was letting this stand. Despite the Guide's misplaced loyalty, the Sentinel he was protecting was clearly not his true Sentinel. He could be courted; he was clearly a Guide worthy to be sought.

Thus, while Blair found himself practically vilified on Cascade's streets and while vitriolic messages were left for him by ex-friends, ex-colleagues, and total strangers, deliveries began to appear. Food-exotic gift baskets filled with rare tropical fruits, imported chocolates, extravagant liqueurs, entire dinners centered around honeyed hams and roast pheasants-and flowers-one of a kind orchids, blooms in fidelity's blue and friendship's yellow-appeared accompanied by cards signed by men and women who readily named themselves Sentinels. The gifts were offered as tokens, without any claim or obligation, of their desire to meet with him, to court him, to join with him, as signs that he was found worthy of honor and their seeking.

Blair took the first deliveries, which arrived while Jim was away from the loft, as cruel jests. But then he began to consider the costs involved. He looked up some of the items on the internet and found that the smallest, least expensive basket cost more than $400. The one with a rare Belgian liqueur cost more than $4,000.

He thought about it. While he had been chasing after Jim, and suffering with Alex, all these other Sentinels had been out there. And now, when Jim had rejected him, devastated him yet again with his lack of trust, once again, once for all, these other Sentinels sought him, wanted him, needed him. They offered, rather than demanded, proving with this first wave of gifts that they would provide, without a constant need for reminders about repayment.

Jim was going to have a fit. And was going to find a way to blame Blair for this.

So, Blair stood in Jim's living room, surrounded by tens of thousands of dollars worth of foods he'd almost never heard of, and he wept. He wept for lost chances. For his love for Jim. For what he'd once dreamed and where he'd ended up.

He looked at all the baskets through the blur of his tears, and he wondered if he was willing to try this all again. To start over with a Sentinel who knew that he or she was a Sentinel, with someone who wanted, needed, courted, coveted a Guide. He wondered how he would be able to do what he knew Jim really wanted: leave.

And the tears continued to fall.