Summary: Crossover between The Sentinel and NCIS. Jim helps out a friend; a secret from the past is revealed.
Author's Notes: Travelin wishes to thank KSL for her encouragement to attempt this storyline.
'JJ, I have to call in the favor. Come to DC as soon as you can. LJ'
Jim looked again at the brief message he received in the email. He owed the man, he knew that. He also knew that he had to go to DC and find out what he needed. He walked over to Simon's office. Time was on his side there. No outstanding cases pending and he had the vacation time stored. There was no reason for Simon not to grant him the vacation time. He could only hope that his guide and lover would be able to take the trip with him.
The detective knocked on the door and waited to hear the response from the police captain.
"Enter." Simon extended the pot of coffee he held to Jim. "Coffee?"
"Thanks, but no. What is this flavor? Smells like," the sentinel paused, his nose wrinkling, "burnt wood. Simon, there must be some other flavor you could brew besides that."
"I'll have you know this is the latest fashion in the best coffee houses in Cascade. Why.."
"Exactly, why do you let that even near your nose?"
"You may have an enhanced sense of smell, but you have absolutely no sense of ... " Simon looked up at the grinning detective to realize the man had been pulling his leg. "Okay, you did not come here to discuss coffee, that's plain to see. What's up Jim?
"I need to take some time off, immediately." The detective leaned against the desk. "It's important Simon."
"I'll ask again. What's up?"
"It's personal Simon. Goes back to my time in the service. I, ah, I just need the time off, Simon. I know I have..."
"Jim, it's fine. You're right, you do have the time. Go ahead. What do you need? Week, two?"
"Can we leave it open ended Simon? I don't know exactly what I'm going to be doing. Just know I have to go. I'm taking Sandburg with me, if he can get away from school."
"Now there's a surprise," he responded with a chuckle. "Sandburg is like an appendage to you. Of course he is going to travel with you!"
Jim turned his head and looked out the window. He was sad that none of their friends knew that their relationship had moved to an intimate level. Blair was the other half of his soul, the other half of his heart.
Simon saw his friend stare out the window, hopefully deep in thought and not lost in a zone out. "Jim," he asked tentatively.
The sentinel returned his focus to his captain. "Yeah, Simon, just thinking. But, I guess you're right. Bl..Sandburg is like an appendage at times. But, I don't mind. He's a good friend. Knows more about me than I do at times. Anyway, I'll see if he can make it too. I may need him," Jim paused, "you know, as my guide."
"Go on Jim. Go get the kid. Ask Rhonda to make whatever arrangements you need."
"Thanks Simon. You're a good friend." They shook hands then Jim turned and left the office.
Knowing the sentinel could hear him, "You are too, my friend, you are too."
The sentinel smiled as he walked over to ask Rhonda to make the air and hotel arrangements for them. He had her confirm the air for two, hoping Blair would be able to travel with him. Now that the travel plans were underway, he could talk to his lover.
Blair sat in his office while he listened to the rhythmic music played in the background. A fellow TA had just left his office. She had tried to coerce him to join her on a mid winter trip to San Diego. He recalled her words.
'Aw, c'mon, Blair. We'll have fun. Sun and sand in the daytime, margaritas and me in the evening. What do you say?'
Without any thought he tried to tell her that he could not leave with her, that he was otherwise occupied.
'C'mon Blair. Whatever it is can wait a week. You'll see, we'll have fun.'
Blair reflected on his response to her. 'Jenny, I know you'll have fun but I can't go with you. I, ah, have plans for the week.'
'Plans,' she purred, 'with who? Haven't seen you with anyone except that cop you ...' She paused, looked at and tried to read Blair's expression. 'My, my Blair. You and that cop? You've got to be kidding me! He's a - a '
'He's my best friend, Jenny. You go ahead and draw any conclusion you want from that.' Blair gestured towards his door. 'Now, I have some papers to grade before break, so...'
'I'm going. I'm going. Have a good break with your, ah, friend.' Jenny smiled at Blair as she turned to leave the office. Without looking back, she added. 'If you ever feel the need for female companionship, let me know.'
Blair shook his head as he closed the door. He walked behind his desk, turned on his cd player, adjusted the volume, heard the leather crunch as he settled onto the chair, put his feet on his desk and contemplated his relationship with Jim Ellison. They had decided not to tell anyone, if only to keep Jim safe at the station. Closed societies like the police force were not that welcoming to gay officers. Blair understood that and agreed with his love to keep their relationship a secret. They had not been together as a real couple for more than a month, so he was willing to just enjoy the newness of the affection they felt for each other.
The young teaching fellow's eyes were closed and therefore he did not notice the visitor that opened his door. He was lost in the thoughts of his lover and the music when he felt something pushing on the bottom of his shoe.
"Sandburg...Sandburg..." the voice prodded along with the tapping on the shoe.
Coming aware again, Blair opened his eyes to behold the man of his dreams. "Jim, what's up?" The teaching fellow rapidly removed his feet from his desk and started moving papers around the desk. "Were we supposed to meet?" he asked as he continued moving papers on his desk. "I can't find anything reminding me..."
"Hold up there, chief!" The sentinel smirked. "You didn't forget anything. We didn't have plans and before you ask, my senses are fine." Ellison walked behind the desk then smoothly lowered himself to be seated on the desktop, facing the younger man. "In fact, my senses are always fine," he added as he gently stroked Blair's cheek with the back of his hand, "when you are nearby."
Blair leaned into the touch. He loved all the gentleness that this big man offered. How could anyone ever NOT want to be with him, he wondered, as he enjoyed the touch. Oh well, he thought, their loss, my absolute gain! "So, what do I owe for this unexpected, yet very pleasant surprise?"
He put both palms on each cheek, held the beloved face to look at him while he still stroked the cheekbones with his thumbs. His face solemn, "I need to leave town. I have to go to DC. I ..."
Worried, Blair interrupted. "...You aren't leaving without me mister," he assured. "It's spring break this week. Please Jim, you have to..."
Jim put a single finger over Blair's lips, instantly quieting his guide. "If you would've let me finish, I was about to ask you to come along. I need to help a friend from back in my service days. I, ah, well, I owe him." Jim removed the finger from the lips of the now stilled man.
"Whatever you need, man, I'm there. Like I said, its spring break. I can leave as soon as I grade these last two papers. When are we leaving?" Blair knew Jim would eventually tell him why they were taking this trip. The sentinel had a calling to help others and Jim Ellison was the type of person to always repay his debts or simply help out a friend in need. Blair trusted Jim. It was that simple.
"Rhonda is booking the air for us right now and arranging for a hotel. I'll go home and start packing for us." Ellison let his eyes rake over the body of his lover. "I pretty much know what you like to wear by now, so I'll pull out your stuff too. Then I'll..." Ellison's cell phone rang at that moment. He stood up, grabbed the phone from his belt, hit the speak button and answered, "Ellison.....yeah....ok....red eye, huh?.....No, no that's fine. Thanks Rhonda!" Jim hit the end button on the phone and returned it to his belt. "That, as you probably figured, was Rhonda. She has us on a red eye flight tonight. Leaves at 11:30PM tonight and arrives there at 8:30 AM local time in DC. That gives us about eight hours to finish what needs to be done here and go to the airport. Can you do that, Blair?" As he finished, he bent over and kissed the top of the curly headed teaching fellow, then simply held the man in a gentle embrace.
Blair rested his head on the tall detective's shoulder and wrapped his own arms around the man that he would follow to the very ends of the earth. "Yeah, can do, but you'll have to get out of here so I can concentrate on these papers." Reluctantly he released his hold. "Jim, the sooner I finish here and you finish packing for us, the sooner we can take a few moments for ourselves. You know..."
Ellison also released his arms but placed his hands on the shorter man's shoulders. "Yeah, 'you know' would be great before we leave. Plane trips are so hard on the senses so a little 'afternoon delight' would be just what the sentinel ordered." Leaning over he again placed a chaste kiss among the curly locks. "Get busy chief. The Ellison airport shuttle leaves in eight hours.
"Ok already. Leave so I can finish!" Blair made sweeping motions with his hands, dismissing the older man.
After the detective left the room, Blair whispered, knowing his lover would still be listening to him. "Love you, Jim. See you soon."
Ellison could only smile which left the passing students to wonder what caused the usually stern looking man to suddenly look so...happy.
It was now past 9:30am in Washington, D.C. as the pair from the state of Washington pulled out of the car rental lot. Breaking the silence, "Rhonda got us a room at the Embassy Suites in downtown DC. Should be well located to meet up with LJ," Ellison remarked.
"Does LJ know we're coming?" Blair laid his hand gently on Jim's thigh, slowly moving his hand around the firm muscles.
"No, not exactly, I didn't email him back, but I think he knows me well enough that I'd be here as fast as I could." Jim rested his right hand over Blair's, grasping it tenderly. "If I haven't said it before, thanks for coming. I don't know what LJ needs, but I feel better with you by my side."
Blair blushed at the compliment. It wasn't as if Jim never praised him. On the contrary, Jim was always making note of something he was doing and commenting on it, letting the pride in his voice always be heard. Flattering remarks were something Blair Sandburg, child genius, never heard from his mother, or anyone else, as he grew up. At long last he felt a sense of worth when his partner would shower him with accolades on his latest feats.
"Where else would I be?" Blair squeezed hand over his own.
"Nowhere else, if I have anything to say about it," Jim replied smiling. He returned his hand back to the steering wheel. "Traffic in DC is crazy," he said in explanation.
They pulled up to the hotel. The valet immediately approached and opened the driver's side door. "Welcome to the Embassy Suites."
"Thanks. We're going to check in and then we need to get over the NCIS offices. Can you let us park the car nearby?" Jim asked the attendant.
"Yes, sir. Just pull over to the curb up there. That area is reserved for those guest check in."
After parking in the temporary area, the two men from Washington, entered the hotel. Jim stopped abruptly after entering the lobby. Blair looked around at the vast atrium of the hotel.
"Whew! Cool place! Look at all the greenery on each floor."
Jim remained still and silent.
Blair gazed up at his partner's face and noticed the signs of the zone out he was experiencing. "Oh man, Jim. This is not a good time or place for this. Come on Jim. DC has wa.a.a.y too many military people walking around. We so do not need their attention," he whispered. Blair rubbed and surreptitiously pushed on Jim's back to encourage him to move further from the entry area. Satisfied they no longer stood in front of the doors, Blair continued to stir the sentinel out of his zone. After trying all the tricks he usually used, he was about to call for help when a man with salt and pepper colored hair approached them.
Before Blair could say a word, the stranger put his hand on the sentinel's shoulder saying, "JJ, just like old times."
Jim shook his head as he started to take in his surroundings. He could smell the fragrance of his lover's shampoo and saw him standing, dumbfounded, staring at the next person he saw. That person had a hand on his shoulder, a smirk plastered on his face and a heartbeat he had not heard in many years.
"LJ!" Ellison wrapped his arms around his friend then stepped back. "Guess old habits are hard to break around you!" Ellison drew Blair close to him. "This is my friend and partner, Blair Sandburg."
"Good to meet you. If JJ calls you a friend and partner, that is high praise. I'm Leroy Jethro Gibbs, LJ to JJ here but most people just call me Gibbs." He extended his hand which Blair gladly accepted.
"You must be good friends with Jim, I mean JJ, 'cuz he dropped everything to come out here for you," Blair surmised aloud.
"He saved my life, Chief. Guess that makes him a real good friend."
Gibbs observed the two men then remarked. "Found you today just the same way I did in '87. Some things never change. Does Blair know you, um..."
"Oh yeah, he knows," Jim smiled. "He knows all about me and those 'black outs' you used to call them. I'll tell you later."
Blair gawked at Gibbs. "You know about Jim's, ah, zones, I mean black outs?"
Before Blair could get a full head of steam questioning his friend Ellison suggested that they check in and move the conversation somewhere else.
"Good idea," Gibbs agreed. "Check in and then we'll go to NCIS. Lots of good places to converse there, privately."
Once they entered the conference room, Blair practically exploded with questions from how did they meet to how did Gibbs save Jim's life.
Jim summarized their meeting as a time they were both at Pensacola. He was getting ready to ship out on a transport and Gibbs was a SP at the time. Something caused Jim to zone, he didn't remember what, but it was Gibbs pushing him out of the way of a jeep that drew his attention back to reality.
"Jim, it makes sense now, excuse the pun," Blair suggested. "But maybe you were, you know, slowly coming online, and LJ's presence triggered something. Maybe he was supposed to be your true gui..."
"Stop right there buddy. LJ does know something is different about me. Heck, ask him yourself. He thought at first I was on drugs or drunk or something that day. But he believed me that I was clean. We started to talk and he figured..."
" 'He' can speak for himself you know. I am standing right here," Gibbs interjected. "Yeah, I started talking with JJ and could see he was clean. The more we spoke the clearer everything seemed to be for him. He said the sun was too bright, but it was a partly cloudy day. He could clearly see the birds on the pier, but we were over a half mile away. He said I was talking too loud...Ok...that might have been true. I tend to be loud by nature. Still, I could tell JJ's senses were out of whack."
"But the strange thing was," Jim continued the story, "I didn't notice the senses until that day. I think I heard his heartbeat. That might have been what I zoned..."Jim noticed the questioning look on LJ's face, "...zones, what we called 'black outs' back then.."
Blair leaned back in his seat, the chair creaking as he moved. Jim had another guide that helped him suppress his senses until he had them reawakened in Peru, he thought. A thought suddenly occurred which he immediately expressed, "You zoned today on Gibbs' heartbeat. He is a guide. He was your FIRST guide. I guess for a sentinel," Blair paused to explain to Gibbs. "Sentinel. That's what Jim is called from all the studies I've done. Anyway, maybe like a first kiss. You never forget it. So Gibbs was your first guide and your senses have never forgotten that either. That's why you zoned in the lobby. You .."
"I sensed my guide. Blair, I..."
"It's okay, big guy. It's fine. It's like I said. You never forget your first, well, anything. I'm still your guide."
"I'm a ...a .. guide?" Gibbs queried.
"I'm Jim's guide. I sorta watch his back when he is using his senses. I help ground him so he doesn't get lost and zone in the sense he's using at that time. I also help him to understand how to use them in tandem like riding sight on sound. In fact there was this one case..."
"I'm a guide."
"Yeah, I just said that," Blair agreed. "As I was saying, there was this..."
"No, I mean right now. Don't look at me like that, Sandburg. I don't mean to JJ here either. There's someone on my team, that I, well, I think is a sentinel, like Jim."
Silence blanketed the room. Blair's mind was going a mile a minute. He's met another guide that knows of another sentinel. Plus, whoever and wherever this sentinel was, the feeling of another sentinel nearby, unlike Alex, did not seem to bother Jim. "That's why I asked for help, JJ. You're the only person I know that would understand and believe me about the person I think is like you. I bring him out of those 'zones' and help him concentrate, but ..."
"Blair and I can help, believe me, we can help."