Epilogue

Jim lay in bed and listened to the sounds of his partner moving around in the bedroom below. It had been a long hard journey for both men since the day three months ago, when Jim had pulled Blair's lifeless body from the fountain at Rainier.

Since then, Blair had struggled with recovery made more difficult by the unwelcome side effects of caffeine toxicity. At the same time, both men had battled to resurrect their friendship and strengthen the bond that had been forged between Sentinel and Guide that awful day.

The muted activity below was a welcome sound after the stressful events of the previous couple of months. After spending a week in the hospital, and a few more days at home, Blair was returning to the university the following day. In a week's time, he would actively resume his role as Jim's guide.

Though the doctor had reassured him that Sandburg was well on the way to recovery, with no lasting side effects from the caffeine toxicity that had caused his previous crisis, Jim's protective instincts still hovered just beneath his outwardly calm demeanor.

There had been a couple of nights when Jim had woken to hear Blair pacing below. Unsure whether to go down and insist Blair go to bed and at least try to sleep, but wanting to avoid a confrontation, Jim extended his hearing and relaxed somewhat when he heard Blair reciting some kind of lecture under his breath.

He reassured himself with the thought that Blair had been surviving on three or four hours sleep a night since Jim had known him. Of course, that was before Alex had drowned him, and before he'd contracted Guillian-Barre syndrome.

He tired more easily now, though their regular work-out sessions together had bulked him up a little and increased his stamina. He'd become more introspective too, less garrulous, and Jim would sometimes catch him staring at nothing, caught up in his own personal zone-out. When Jim asked him what he was thinking about, Blair simply smiled and brushed the question off.

He was still somewhat edgy and short-tempered, though Jim wasn't sure if that was the effects of the caffeine pills and Blair's withdrawal from them, or simply that he was impatient to get things back to normal for them both.

A dull thud of what sounded like a book hitting the floor, and then a muffled curse, interrupted Jim's musing. "Sandburg? You want to go to bed already? We've both got an early start in the morning."

"I know that. That's why I'm packing my backpack now. I don't want to be late my first day back."

"Now that is a first." Jim rolled onto his side and punched his pillow into a more comfortable shape. "Go to bed, Sandburg."

"All right. I'm going."

Jim waited and heard the sound of covers being pulled back, the faint bouncing as Blair climbed into bed and spent an interminable length of time wriggling around until he found just the right spot to sleep.

As Jim anchored his hearing to the soothing sound of Blair's heartbeat, allowing it to lull him to sleep, his Guide's soft whisper floated to his ears, bringing a long-absent smile to the Sentinel's lips.

"Thanks, Jim. For everything."

END

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