Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Breezes
by Becky
May 1998

Cool evening breezes blew gently around the solitary figure standing on the balcony of the third story loft apartment. With soft fingers, it caressed chill-pinkened cheeks and ruffled loose brown curls, sending them dancing across the upraised face and closed eyes. A moment later, the head lowered slightly and a hand lifted to tuck the rebellious strands of hair behind an ear. Another moment and the eyes opened, revealing a blue as dark and deep as the night itself.

And with a sigh that the breezes seemed to echo, the slight figure leaned forward against the railing of the loft balcony, plaid-covered arms wrapping around himself, shivering a bit in the evening air.

It had been a long day, actually, a long week, filled with things that Blair Sandburg, anthropologist, student, teacher, observer, had never wanted to see, to experience, and hoped never to see or experience ever again. The images hovered just beyond his mind's eye, threatening to haunt his memories for months, years possibly. Images that promised to remind him that he was mortal, that he could be hurt, that he could die, that youth and luck were no guard against the evils of the world. He was vulnerable.

And so is he.

Blair glanced momentarily back inside the loft, to the couch facing the balcony to where the object of his thoughts lay sleeping, resting, recuperating, regaining the strength he'd lost that day and the days that had come before. The injuries were not to the body -- they were to the soul, the spirit, the heart, the very essence of the man who'd adopted this city as his own and taken its inhabitants under his protection. It was his city, his territory, his . . . protectorate.

Smiling only slightly, Blair refocused his gaze on the fast approaching night outside. Jim would love that. Cascade as a protectorate. I guess that makes everyone in it his tribe or something. His smile widened a little more and a small chuckle rumbled in his chest, making his own soul a little lighter, a little less weighed down by his own responsibilities of protecting and helping the protector.

A protector that had finally given in to the strain wearing at him the past week, each day taking a little of his light away, each day casting more of a shadow on him, darkening his path. And as Jim's light had faded, so had Blair's. They were too connected, too 'in sync' for it not to happen that way. Sometimes it was only Jim's strength, Jim's fortitude against crime and all its wickedness, just Jim himself, that kept Blair from folding over after seeing all the crummy stuff men did to each other on a daily basis. Men, women, children, young, old, rich, poor, everyone from the street cleaners to the CEO's of corporations. Murders, robberies, gun smuggling, greed, and drug dealing. So much evil, so much hate, so many opportunities to do good lost all for the sake of fulfilling personal agendas, hiding secrets, and gaining wealth.

He shifted, moving a hand to rub over his face. Closing his eyes, he hoped only to see darkness. Instead, the memories of the past week's case, plus older memories, more personal ones, rose up at him as well, taunting him, laughing cruelly at him. The case had not been kind, stirring up his own personal demons. Things like Lash, Golden, Oliver, Galileo, Quinn, Iris, anything that had put either him or his partner or both of them in grave danger. But as draining as the case had been, he and Jim had stuck with it, all the way to the end.

Until today. Jim had caught the bad guys, got them off the street and into jail where they belonged. Everything was over. Complete. Finished.

So why was he still upset?

Forcing his eyes open again, he took a deep, cleansing breath and stared up at the slowly darkening sky. Only a few stars were visible, but he watched them intently, making silent wishes with every one that appeared. Wishes for peace, for life, for hope. The evening breeze swept around him, sending his hair flying out like a dark curly halo, shifting the curls forward to cover his face, then back to lay mostly untouched on his neck. A few strands caught on his face and he raised a hand to push them away, eyes still fixed on the stars above him.

Blair felt the warmth at his back a moment before a hand slowly touched it and rested there. Jim's voice was quiet, soft, a whisper aimed not to disturb the peaceful night.

"You okay, Chief?"

He breathed out an answer. "Yeah." A moment, then, "Did I wake you?"

"No." The hand shifted to rub lightly on Blair's back, long soothing strokes designed to comfort him, to calm him, to settle him. He just knows I'm upset. Somehow he knows. I wish I knew how he knew. Jim moved closer, raising his other hand to rest on Blair's shoulder as the first stilled on the other one.

Blair closed his eyes, just absorbing the feel of the other man at his back. If he ignored the sounds of cars and the city itself, the smells of the urban air, concentrating only on the feel of the cool wind, the scent of ocean air, the faint noise of crickets, he could almost pretend they were somewhere else, maybe camping, some place away from the city, its crime, and bad guys.

Jim's voice came again, softer if possible. "What were you doing out here?"

"Doing?" he mumbled in a question, trying to drag his mind back to reality.

"You were staring up at the sky."

"Oh, that. I . . ." he trailed off, then grinned, opening his eyes to look back at Jim. "I was making a wish, well, lots of wishes actually, one for every star I saw come out."

Jim smiled. "I thought that only worked for the first star."

Blair shrugged. "I figured I've missed a lot of 'first stars', so I decided to catch up."

Laughing gently, Jim slipped his arms over Blair's shoulders and hugged him around his torso firmly. "Catch up, huh." He paused, then asked, not moving. "You leave any for me?"

Blair shifted, eyeing his big friend. "I didn't think you wished on stars. Too frivolous or something."

"Everyone needs a little frivolity in their lives. So, did you leave one or not?"

Rolling his eyes, Blair turned his attention back to the skies, searching for a new star. Finally he spotted one and raised an arm to point it out to Jim. "There."

Jim straightened a little, leaving his arms where they were as he contemplated the star. Blair rested his hand on Jim's arm, feeling the strength hidden under the long-sleeved shirt. Sometimes, when he was feeling introspective and he thought, really thought, about where he was, he was still surprised that Jim Ellison, former covert ops Ranger, loner detective, a man who definitely didn't need anyone, had let one Blair Sandburg into his life so fully, so completely.

He watched Jim's face under the cover of darkness, feeling the larger man's heart beating against his back, feeling the lungs rise and fall with each inhalation and exhalation. A smile crossed Jim's features and he turned his face to look down at Blair.

"There. I've made my wish."

Blair grinned back at him. "Good."

Jim moved around to stand in front of Blair, sliding his hands around so he didn't lose physical contact with the younger man. "So, you think you're ready to go back in now? I don't know about you, but to me, it's getting a little chilly out here and I'll have to get a jacket or something if we stay out here any longer."

Always checking to make sure I'm okay and so willing to stay here with me if I need him to. Blair's grin settled into a relaxed smile. "Yeah, I think we can go in now."

"Good." Jim pulled Blair to him, sliding an arm over his shoulders to hold him tight to his side as they moved to the balcony doors. Blair leaned against him and draped his arm around Jim's waist. As they entered the loft, Jim asked, "Now that this case is over, you think you're up for camping? If you're free from University stuff, that is."

"Camping is good. I think it would work just fine. Just what we both need. A little rejuvenation."

"Yeah."

Outside, the wind swirled across the balcony, stirring up dead and dried leaves, sweeping them off into the street below.

- The End -