BEST EPISODE RELATED GEN STORY
BEST SHORT STORY - GEN
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DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are the property of Petfly and Paramount. This fanfic has been written for my own and others enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.
CATEGORY: Epilogue for TS by BS.
"Im gonna make you a little Blair-skin rug." With those words, Jim reached out and pulled Blair against him, one hand reaching up to fist in Blairs long curls, the other holding the younger man tightly against him.
Blair felt both stifled and unsteady, his precarious emotional balance knocked askew by the culmination of the past few weeks events. He couldnt breathe, his chest tightening as though in a vice.
"Come on, man. Knock it off." Blair twisted harder in an effort to escape and Jim seemed to suddenly become aware of his discomfiture, pulling back at the same time as Blair squirmed away. The struggle caused Blairs hair to become entangled in Jims watch band and he yanked his head forcefully back, grimacing at the sharp pain that brought tears to his eyes.
"Shit! Oh, Jesus, Sandburg. Im sorry. Are you okay?" Jim was holding his arm up and looking with chagrin at the strands of dark hair that dangled from his watch buckle.
Blair had stepped behind the desk now. One hand rubbed absently at his head while the other reached down and fumbled for his backpack. He nodded as he hefted the bag and slung it onto his shoulder. "Its fine, Jim. Its just hair. Not like I dont have plenty." Blair's tone was light but the eyes blazed pain and embarrassment.
Jim smiled, but it looked strained. "Is that a dig at my expense, Sandburg?"
Blair shrugged his shoulders. "You take it any way you want, man." He turned to the suddenly silent group. "Simon, its good to see you out of hospital. You, too, Megan."
Picking up the wallet from the desk, he hefted it experimentally in his hand, then flipped it open to the gold shield once more. He stared down at the symbol of what might be his new future then looked over at the captain, to see him studying Blair, a frown on his face. "Can I take some time to think about your offer?"
Simon looked puzzled. "I thought I thought it was what you wanted, Sandburg. Jim said -"
"Nobody asked me," Blair cut in. He softened his tone. "Its not that I dont appreciate the offer and Im not refusing it outright. I need some time to think things over. I just finished cleaning out my office at Rainier. I hadnt really given any thought to what I do now."
"Blair? Im sorry." Jims voice now, the words soft but the tone faintly accusing. "I probably overstepped the mark here. I just assumed that you wanted to stay on as my partner and Simon couldnt see any other way to do it."
Blair held up a hand to stem the flow of words as he came around from behind the desk and backed toward the door. "Im going to get out of here, all right? Ive got to get my stuff from the U unpacked and think about things."
"Blair?" Naomi stood up and moved toward him and Blair felt suddenly dizzy. Hed forgotten she was there. "We were going to go out and celebrate." One elegant hand waved to encompass the others.
"Tinos," Simon put in helpfully.
Blair nodded slowly, then shook his head. "Ill take a rain check, if you dont mind. You guys go, celebrate Simon and Megan being okay, getting Zeller."
His mother gathered up her bag. "Ill give you a ride home, sweetie."
Two voices spoke the word in unison and the owner of each rushed to explain.
"I need some time out, mom."
"Ill give you a ride, Sandburg," Jim said at almost the same time.
"Ms. Sandburg." Simon wheeled himself closer and looked up at Naomi. "Id be honored to have you join us." A muffled snicker followed the statement and Simons icy glare was directed at Henri who had the grace to look abashed.
"Im heading home anyway," Jim said, turning to Blair. "My legs aching a little."
"I can walk or catch the bus."
"Or you could get a ride, seeing were both headed in the same direction."
Blair nodded, then leaned forward to kiss his mothers cheek. He straightened and gazed around at his assembled friends, his family. "Thank you. All of you. Your support means a lot to me."
The front door shutting behind him sounded as loud as he imagined a cell door would, and Blair leaned his back against it, suddenly exhausted. The energy that had driven him through the earlier events of the day suddenly drained away, leaving him enervated and shaky. The badge that Simon had thrown to him felt heavy in his pocket, weighing him down. He felt the air becoming thick around him and he took a shaky, panic-filled breath. A sharp pain seemed to clutch at his heart. He remembered this pain; he was drowning again. This time, though, there was no water, no murderous Sentinel. A wave of nausea surged suddenly up his throat and he swallowed desperately against the saliva that flooded his mouth. Oh, God, he was going to be sick.
He clamped his jaw and panted harshly through his nose, pushing the sickness back to be dealt with later, along with the guilt, fear and despair. He looked up as Jim's voice impinged on his dark thoughts and he realized the detective was talking to him. "What?"
"I said do you want a beer?" Jim asked, holding an amber bottle out toward him.
Blair felt the nausea surge again at the thought of the bitter liquid and quickly shook his head. "No. Thanks. I'm, uh I'm good."
"Are you?" Jim asked. He took a sip from the bottle and limped back toward Blair, using the cane he'd been given by the doctor, but managing to make it look like an adornment.
"I dont know what you mean."
"Sure you do," Jim said amiably, coming closer and offering the bottle again.
Blair shook his head and straightened up against the door. Jim seemed to sense the tension in his partner and perversely, stepped closer. "What are you afraid of, Sandburg?"
"I dont know what you mean."
"Sure you do," Jim repeated, amiably enough. "Are you afraid you cant cut it as a cop? Because you and I both know youre already three-quarters of the way there. I wasnt bullshitting at the hospital when I told you youre the best cop Ive ever known. I know its not because you dont want to cut your hair. I never bought that crap from day one. Youre too dedicated, too focused to allow something as inconsequential as that to stop you from getting what you want. So, whats holding you back? What *do* you want, Sandburg?"
He was looming over Blair now; his face so close that Blair could smell the beer on his breath. Blair pushed back but there was nowhere to go. "I dont know what I want," Blair whispered.
"I think you do. Tell me what you want."
Blairs hands came up to push ineffectually at Jims chest. "Will you get out of my face? I said I dont know."
Jim rested his hands on Blairs shoulders, his fingers digging in, his gaze boring into Blairs eyes, demanding truth. "What do you want?"
"I want I want to be your Guide." Blairs reply was a strangled half-sob, but he rushed on, the words tumbling from his mouth. "But what if I screw it up? Ive done everything wrong "
"You did everything right for me." Jims voice was as forceful as Blairs own was uncertain.
"Simon said I could have a couple of weeks to think things over," Blair whispered, not surprised that he could scarcely croak out the words.
"That was Simon, not me." Jim shifted back abruptly and Blair almost sagged to the ground at the sudden loss of support. He felt cold sweat snake between his shoulder blades, making him shiver. "What do you want?"
"I dont know that Ill make it as a cop," Blair suddenly blurted out, "but if I don't accept the offer, I can't be your partner. They'll make me leave."
"Do you want to be my partner?" Jim's eyes narrowed, the blue irises glittering with fiery ice.
"*Yes*." Blair put as much conviction as he could into that one word. "I do want to be your partner but more than that, I want to remain your Guide, but -"
Jim shook his head and pressed a finger to Blairs lips, halting the rush of words. "No matter what choice you make, you will always be my Guide." A small smile curved his lips, only accentuating the sadness in his eyes that Blair knew was mirrored in his own gaze. "A Guide will always be a Guide, unless he chooses not to be."
Blair shook his head. "Thats you, man. A Sentinel!" He poked Jim in the chest, emphasizing his point.
"We shared the vision," Jim reminded him. "Created a bond. Sentinel and Guide. You only have to choose."
With those words, the weight of all that had occurred, the fear and failure, indecision and pain, the loss of his career and, worst of all, the wall of mistrust created by the whole mess, tumbled down, fracturing Blairs composure. His heart pounded loudly in his ears, drowning out the ragged gasping of his breath. His knees buckled and he felt himself sliding down the door to the floor. Jim knelt in front of him, still grasping his shoulders. And then, to his mortification, Blair was crying, huge heaving silent sobs with tears that streamed in rivers down his cheeks to drip off his chin and snake down the length of his neck.
He felt Jim grasp his forearms and haul him forward and he allowed himself to flop bonelessly, his fatigued body folding in on itself. He dropped his head down to burrow into the juncture of Jims neck and shoulder. Jim's arm wrapped around his shaking shoulders and the detective's other hand reached up to cup his head, pulling Blair into the shelter of his embrace. Jim's strong fingers massaged through his damp curls, the hypnotic, soothing sensation a balm to his aching soul.
Jim spoke, the words Sentinel-soft, barely stirring the air as they were breathed against his ear. "We'll work it out. It's going to be all right."
After long minutes, Blair dredged up the last of his strength, finally managing to compose himself somewhat and pushed away slightly from Jims support.
"Ive lost too much already," he said, aware of the trembling in his voice. "If I screw this up, therell be no other chances for me to stay on as your partner. I I have to be sure Im making the right choice. I we have to be realistic about this. What if the fraud admission bites us in the ass further down the track, on the witness stand or something? Remember Tommy Juno," he said, referring back to one of their first cases, when Jims evidence had been thrown out of court because he couldnt admit to his Sentinel abilities.
He wiped at his face, brushing away the remnants of his tears, feeling his resolve strengthen, needing Jim to see the whole picture. "All my life, I was searching for one thing." He gave Jim a wan smile. "My Holy Grail. Now thats gone " He held up a hand when Jim opened his mouth in obvious protest. "I need to make a living somehow. It cant just be about what I *want* anymore." His next words were full of uncertainty. "I feel like Im standing at the edge of a precipice and if I take one wrong step, Ill fall."
Jim nodded. "Ive been there. In Peru, when Incacha told me I had to choose whether to be a Sentinel or not." He shifted back, giving Blair the space he needed. "So where do we go from here?"
"I need to think."
"A Sentinel needs his Guide," Jim said solemnly. "Ill back up any decision you make. Youve lost too much already so that I could keep my life." He reached out and squeezed Blairs shoulders. "Whatever it takes, Ill fix it," he promised. "Ill fix it."
He was peripherally aware of Jims presence as he stood above a yawning chasm, feeling the glacier-like gusts of air buffeting him, rocking him back and forth on his feet, pushing him inexorably closer to the edge.
"Choose," Incachas voice commanded in his head.
Blair opened his eyes and stared past the glow of the meditation candles, into the concerned gaze of his Sentinel. "Im ready."