Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Everyday Life Series

Boxes by Becky (graphic by Robyn)

Summary: A brief peek at Blair as a child courtesy of a plain white and blue box. Set in early third season after Three Point Shot.

Author's notes: Originally I had much grander plans for this story, but after the few parts I had written sat untouched in my computer for over a year, I decided that the "grander plans" were never going to happen. ~grin~ But because I didn't want to lose what I'd written or leave it gathering virtual dust in my hard drive for an eternity...I found something else I could do with it. You may recognize an element or two in this story as being in Robyn's story, Night Light. She asked to borrow "the box" for her fic in a bit of foreshadowing of my story as I'd told her about the story earlier; the "S" night light, however, is her creation.

Thanks to Hephaistos for the speedy beta and her suggestions. After much arguing, the title insisted on remaining as is; I *still* don't know why it's plural... ~grin~

Boxes
by Becky
July 2001

Legs curled underneath him in a half-lotus position, Blair sat on the futon bed in his bedroom. A somewhat battered but still sturdy white box, blue logos emblazoned on it, rested in front of him. Lakota piano music playing on the loft's sound system drifted inward past the open French doors. A shaft of late afternoon sunlight slid lazily through the window over his bed, randomly spotlighting dust motes as they danced in the air.

Blair pushed up the sleeves of his gray-patterned flannel shirt. After he tugged the box closer to him, he slid his fingers under the edges of the lid and lifted it off, dropping it to the rest on the floor against the bed frame. As Blair looked at the items within the cardboard confines, memories stirred to life. A few cherished books, a fat envelope filled with special photos, an old night light, postcards from Naomi's world travels, a rock from New Mexico, a few rare cards from Jim, the key to his now-gone Corvair, a rabbit's foot keychain given to him by his first girlfriend, a couple of inexpensive artifacts, a bound copy of his masters paper...so many things.

Smiling, he reached for the old basketball card enclosed in a protective hard plastic case. Orvelle's so-young face looked up from the card, his expression intent, caught in the moment of playing his chosen sport. Blair ran his finger over the case, grinning again as he remembered getting the autograph as a kid.

Outside the room, he heard the front door open and close. Jim's voice followed a moment later. "Sandburg?

"In here, Jim." He put the card inside the box, tucking it into place. "You're home early."

Footsteps neared his room, then stopped at the door. "Simon was in a good mood." Laughing, Blair looked up to see Jim leaning against the doorframe, arms crossed loosely over his chest. Jim pointed to the box with his chin. "What's that?"

"This?" Blair reached down and retrieved the lid. "This is my ‘keepsakes' box." He replaced the lid and tapped it down securely. "I was putting my signed Orvelle card back inside; I'd gotten it out earlier to show to him."

Jim nodded. "Ah...I see. Isn't that box getting a little...worse for wear?"

Blair chuckled. "Oh, yeah. But I've had it forever. It's as much a keepsake as the things inside." He turned the box around and tilted it backwards, running the fingers of his other hand across the black-inked writing adorning the surface. A smile plucked at the edges of his mouth. "See?"

Varied handwriting and groupings of words, some crossed out, others traced over several times, stared back at them.

Photos, mag. articles, set of ceremonial gourds
Books, third shelf
Notes for masters paper
Mayan artifacts, on loan - 3 months
FRAGILE
Thesis notes
Keepsakes

And in the middle of all the writing was Blair's first name, written in large, uneven, blocky letters.

Jim spoke up in an amused dry tone. "Nice penmanship there."

"Hey! I was five!" Blair protested mildly. Without waiting, he went on, chuckling at the grayed memory. "I remember we were moving, and I wanted to help. And I wanted my own box..."

~~~~~~

"Are we leaving, Momma?"

Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the tiny apartment, the young woman looked up from the box-folding directions she held in front of her. Long strands of red hair that had escaped the ponytail drifted past her cheeks, brushing her skin. A little boy stood next to her, a slight frown marring his features. Reaching out, she drew him down to sit in her lap. She petted back his short, curly, brown hair, then wrapped her arms around him and rested her chin on the top of his head.

"Yes, sweetie, we're leaving."

"Why?"

She smiled. "There's so much of the world to see, Blair. Wouldn't you like to see all those places in your special books? Just imagine. The Grand Canyon. The Great Salt Lake. The Mississippi River."

Blair twisted partway around to stare up at her, blue eyes wide with wonder. "Can we see the big wall in China? And the Taj Mahal Palace? And the pyramids? And mummies? And Alaska?"

Naomi laughed softly at her five-year-old's enthusiasm and hugged him warmly. "One day, I'm sure you'll see them all, my little explorer. But first we need to pack." She released him and reached around his body for the first blue and white box, folding it together quickly.

"Can I have a box?"

Pushing loose hair behind one ear, Naomi tilted her head downward, looking at her son who was still ensconced in her lap. "Why do you want a box, Blair?"

He pursed his lips. "I want to pack my special books. And teddy. And my S light. Can I have a box? Of my very own?"

Naomi laughed again. "I certainly don't see why not. Hand me the black pen. We'll put your name on this one right here."

Blair grabbed the pen next to the small pile of unfolded boxes, then settled back into Naomi's lap. "I can do it." He pulled the cap off the pen with a jerk, then leaned forward, carefully inscribing on the box as the tip of his tongue protruded from the corner of his mouth.

Holding the box steady for her little boy, Naomi smiled, watching with fondness and love as the name BLAIR slowly took shape on the box side. She ran a light hand over her son's hair again and hummed softly.

~~~~~~

"...from that day on, this box was my box. I used it to pack my ‘special' things whenever we moved." Blair smiled to himself, nearly forgetting Jim was standing there, listening to him reminiscing. "Didn't matter if it was a rock, a stuffed animal, or a book." Touching his fingers to the blocky childish scrawl of his name, he finished softly, "In a strange way, this box has been a kind of constant in my life."

Jim didn't say anything for a long moment. In the living room, the CD continued to play, changing tracks smoothly. Finally, he broke the silence. "Guess being ‘worse for wear' is a good thing."

Blair shook himself back into the present and looked up in confusion.

Biting down on a grin, Jim continued, "If that box can survive a life of crazy Sandburgian adventures, guess I can too."

The younger man blinked, then slowly began to smile as Jim's comment registered. "Yeah, yeah."

Pushing away from the doorjamb, Jim let the grin show on his face. "C'mon, Chief. I'm hungry and Mama Rosa's lasagna is calling me." He headed into the living room, pausing to shut off the CD player.

After setting the box back under his desk, Blair met Jim at the door and followed him into the hallway. "It's food, Jim. Food is always calling you..."

- The End -