Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

2004 Burton Awards nominee

Summary: Five things that never happened to Blair. All are unrelated to each other. Angst, angst, angst, and did I mention angst?

Spoilers for and a few lines of dialogue and/or text from Switchman, Blind Man's Bluff, Warriors, Sentinel Too, and TSbyBS.

Notes: In reading Buffy fanfic (where I spend nearly all my fanfic time these days), I came across the interesting "five things" challenge where you take a character and write about five things that never happened in canon. I thought this would make an interesting theme for a TS fic and so borrowed it. It's been a long time since I've written anything, TS or otherwise, so forgive my rustyness. Oh, and fair warning -- for the "five things" fics I've read, mondo angst seems to be the key ingredient and very little happiness My little ditties follow that pattern. What can I say? I'm in a mood.

Not beta'ed.

Divergences
by Becky
June 2004

--Holy Grail--

Blair jiggled the key in the sticky lock twice before the door to his office-cum-storeroom jerked open almost grudgingly. Sticking the key between his teeth, he nudged the door open a few inches more and stepped inside the dimly-lit room, backpack over one shoulder, an unsteady stack of books clasped in the his arms. With practice born out of experience, he gingerly moved over a smattering of intercampus envelopes scattered on the floor, most of which he guessed were student papers needing grading.

He groaned. Just what I wanted to come back to after a four-day hike. Oh, well, that's what I get for having a door you can actually put stuff under. And for deciding to take up Mark on his invitation last-minute.

Dropping the stack of books in so-called guest chair, he stood up slowly, rolling his shoulders a bit, absently tossing his keys on the desk and letting the backpack fall to the floor. Chewing his lip, he stared first at the phone and the stack of pink message slips, then his computer, and then at the envelopes. "Where to begin? Ene, mene, mine, moe... Floor, it is."

It took just a few moments to gather up the envelopes into a haphazard stack which he promptly added to the stack of books. Next, he flipped on his stereo and looked through the pink message slips as he waited for his computer to boot up. One message in particular caught his eye -- he had several faxes waiting for him at the main anthropology department office.

Bouncing out of his chair, he slipped out of his office and jogged down the hall. The department secretary looked over when he entered the office. "Hey, Blair, you survived the trip after all."

He chuckled and leaned against the tall countertop of her desk. "Yup. It actually wasn't as bad as Mark threatened." Glancing behind her, he saw a few other graduate assistants gathered around a small television set. "What's going on, Cindy?"

Cindy swiveled to look at the TV and shuddered once. "Some nut case just blew up a tour bus on the Green Street bridge. It's all over the news."

Blair blinked. "Oh, man. That's terrible. Was anybody killed?"

She nodded gravely. "Yeah, but no details yet."

"What a thing to come back to." He shook himself and changed the topic. "I came down to ask about faxes. There was a message saying I had some."

Cindy thumbed through a stack of intercampus envelopes and pulled out one with his name on it. "Here you go."

"Thanks." As he turned to leave, Blair opened the envelope and dumped several sets of stapled papers into his hands.

Behind him, he could still hear the reporter's voice echoing from the television set. "...update on the casualties of this tragic affair involving the Cascade Tours bus. Names have not been released on the passengers harmed; however, the identity of the bomber..."

Gasping, Blair stumbled to a stop just outside the door as he stared at a medical chart faxed to him from his friend at the medical center. Oh...oh...complaining of hyperaware senses...oh, wow...this could be it! He hurriedly flipped back to the cover sheet, looking for when she sent it. Yesterday. Well, this guy isn't there now, but maybe she knows where I can find him. He muttered to himself, "Name, name. What's his name?"

"...also killed was the police officer who attempted to stop her. No information has been released yet why she decided to focus her attentions on this particular officer..."

At long last, a sentinel! My Holy Grail! Just...wow! What a thing to come back to!

"...memorial services are being planned..."

Blair's adrenaline-hyped finger finally located the name of his possible sentinel. James Ellison. You, my man, are about to--

"...for James Ellison..."

He froze, eyes snapping upwards. "What?!" Blair whirled around and stepped back into the office, staring across the room to the small television set as it flashed a still photo of a unsmiling blue-eyed man, looking vaguely uncomfortable in his dress blues. Uncaring of the startled looks thrown his way, Blair's fingers dug into the door jamb. The picture changed to a jerky hand-held camera shot of the destroyed bus surrounded by assorted officers, emergency vehicles, police cars, yellow tape, media vans, and gawkers. Debris and plastic-covered mounds that could only be bodies littered the pavement.

"...truly a horrific day for Cascade..."

Papers fluttered to the floor, the medical chart fax landing at Blair's feet.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

--Orange Tang--

It was like swimming upwards through orange quicksand. Thick and miring quicksand that really didn't want to let him go. What seemed like days passed before his head broke the surface, only to cough and gag and cringe away from all the sudden noise and unwelcome, intruding touches on his body. Someone kept saying something, but he couldn't make out the words, couldn't understand them.

So tired.

More words. Clearer. Recognizable.

"Blair? Do you understand me? Squeeze my hand, Blair."

Hand? Oh. He squeezed. Or tried to. It must've worked because the voice, a woman's, changed slightly, approval sounding in her words.

"Good. Good."

Blair wanted to complain that it was dark, but as his head cleared a little more, he realized his eyes were closed. He slowly blinked them open and squinted at the persistent orange halo wrapped the unfamiliar face above his. But even through the one-color vision, he recognized the decor of a hospital room. His memory failed to tell him with why he was there. He tried to say something and registered the object in his mouth and down his throat. Panicking, he tried moving his head, looking for... Jim? Jim?

"Blair? I'm going to remove the tube now. Cough for me..."

Long painful moments later, he still felt like coughing and was grateful for the straw placed between his lips. He swallowed hard several times and managed to croak out a one-word question. "Jim?"

An odd look passed through the doctor's face as she exchanged a look with the nurse on the other side of the bed. She patted his hand. "Someone is waiting to see you outside. I'll let him see you for a few minutes. But you need to rest." They left quietly and spoke in subdued tones to someone just on the other side of the door.

Blair strained to hear the words, but all he could decide was that it was a man. His eyes drifted closed and he would have laughed if he'd had the strength -- even the inside of his eyelids were wreathed in the color of Orange Tang. Lovely imagery.

A hand touched his arm. "Blair?"

His eyes popped open in startlement and he blinked a few times. "Simon?"

The captain smiled slightly and nodded. "You're awake. How are you feeling?"

"Fuzzy, mostly. What happened?" Blair looked toward the door of the room. "Where's Jim?"

Simon rubbed his forehead before pulling a nearby chair over to sit down. Blair could feel the warmth of Simon's other hand where it rested on his arm. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"What? The last thing?" Blair fumbled through the last few days, putting together events. "Jim and I, we're working the Golden case. The racetrack. Jim going blind from the Golden. Setting up a sting." His forehead furrowed in deeper thought. His mind felt just as exhausted as his body. "We were in the bullpen. There was ... pizza? I was hungry and had a piece. I think." He looked over at Simon who nodded once in encouragement. "After that, I don't...I can't...there was--" His throat closed up on him as the details rushed back all at once.

"You get away from me! .... What's going on, buddy? .... You don't see them? They're coming through the walls and the floor .... Who are? .... They're made out of fire and they're burnt. You think they're ashes, but they're alive, man. And we gotta send them back!"

Blair gasped and tried to sit up. "Simon, I had a gun! Jim's gun! I was, I was shooting at...at..."

Simon bolted upwards and gently pressed Blair back into the bed. "Stay down, kid. Just calm down." His thumb stroked the skin of Blair's arm soothingly. "So you remember."

"Yes." Blair squeezed his eyes closed, forcing himself to breathe, forcing the encroaching tiredness away for just a few more minutes. "Yes. Most of it." He opened his eyes again and stared upwards, afraid to look at Simon. "Did I...did anyone get...was anybody hurt?" The captain didn't answer and Blair turned to meet his eyes. "Simon, where's Jim?"

More silence and more thumb-stroking before Simon finally replied in a soft, regretful voice. "Across the hall. In a coma." He swallowed. "Jim almost managed to talk you down. The last time you--the gun went off, though, he was too close for it to miss. Somehow he must've known what was happening because he moved, but not far enough. The bullet took him high in the shoulder, but it knocked him off-balance and he fell and hit his head on the pavement. Then you passed out and collapsed. I barely managed to keep you from following Jim."

Sobs and shouts of disbelief crowded in Blair's throat. Watery orange clouded his vision. "Simon, please tell me this is a nightmare."

Simon's eyes filled with tears. "I wish I could, Blair. I wish I could."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

--Dead Waterfall--

Blair could only stare in shock and horror as Jim communicated brokenly in Quechua with the dying shaman who lay bleeding on their couch. Incacha's eyes flitted rapidly between Jim and Blair, gasping out phrases that Jim translated almost as an after-thought. Blair knew without asking that Jim would rather just be talking to Incacha in his final moments rather than relaying details about the kidnapped Spalding.

What the heck is a forest in the sky? More importantly, where do we find it?

His train of thought abruptly derailed as Jim blurted out, "He wants me to become a sentinel once again to help save the tribe."

Hallelujah! "Good, good. It's about time--"

Whatever Blair had planned to say vanished when Incacha focused his attention on him, wrapping bloody fingers around his arm in a surprisingly tight grip. "Hey!" He glanced worriedly at Jim and then back at Incacha -- and found himself drawn into those intense eyes.

--blue haze spread across his vision, blocking out everything else and he abruptly found himself in a jungle, standing at the very edge of a cliff overlooking a long-dried-up waterfall. Only a bare trickle of water dribbled down the rockface. Blair tripped over his own feet while hastily backing away from the edge as his fear of heights roared up to cackle at him. Brown grass carpeted the jungle floor and withered trees hung above him

"Do you think to be Enqueri's shaman?"

The voice came from directly behind him and Blair twisted around to see Incacha staring at him. In disapproval.

"H-his shaman?" Blair stuttered. An isolated corner of his mind noted the oddity of Incacha speaking English, but overall it seemed rather mundane compared to everything else. "I--I try to help him, teach him. Is that--?"

Incacha lifted a hand and pointed at the dead waterfall. "You must make a choice. To remain here or to jump."

"Jump?" He turned again and stared at the hard, rocky formations. "Into that? I'd be killed."

"Yes."

Blair opened his mouth to say something, anything, but couldn't find the words.

"I cannot pass the way of the shaman over to you. You are not worthy."

He twisted around again at the words, mouth falling open to protest. But Incacha wasn't finished yet.

"You are destined to betray him."

The waterfall and all thoughts of jumping and death forgotten, Blair stiffened angrily. "Betray? Betray Jim? I wouldn't do that. I couldn't do that. He's my friend. My best friend."

Incacha was implacable. "You will betray him by going to another sentinel. A broken sentinel."

A what? Blair stepped toward Incacha, curiosity in his voice. "There's another sentinel out there? Where?" Too late he realized his error and tried to backtrack. "No, wait, I didn't mean--"

--he gasped and fell back against the couch when Incacha released his arm and pushed him away, red blood smearing across his skin.

Jim held onto Incacha and spoke rapidly to both of them. "Sandburg? Incacha? What happened?" His attention returned to the shaman as he forced out one final comment before breathing his last and fading away. "Incacha! Incacha!"

Still trying to find his bearings and deal with Incacha's horrible prophecy, Blair sat up and touched Jim's arm. "He's gone, Jim. I'm so sorry." He paused and stared at the shaman's red-painted face. "What did he say? Jim?"

"He said..." Jim gently released Incacha's hand. "He said for me to become a sentinel again, you need to guide me to my animal spirit."

"That's all?" Blair's heart skipped in his chest. He didn't tell you I am supposed to betray you?

"That's all."

Blair licked his lips. "Okay. I can--we can do that." He looked at Incacha, not knowing if he should hate him for putting doubts in his mind or understand him for protecting Jim even in death. Either way, it left the burden of potential betrayal on Blair's shoulders, for him to carry alone.

I won't betray Jim. I won't. I promise.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

--Ruined Shoes--

He wasn't sure how long he'd been sitting there, staring, watching, ignoring the dingy water soaking into his pantlegs. It seemed like both forever and only a moment as events replayed in an endless loop of pain and shock and fear and--

Why can't I close my eyes? Why couldn't I stop this from happening? His breath caught and he struggled to remember how to breathe.

My socks are wet. A drizzle of icy water slid beneath his shirt collar, trickling down his backbone. He shivered. I'm cold.

A sudden cacophony of noise penetrated his isolated world but he didn't move. Wheels and brakes screeching. Car doors slamming. Voices of people he knew.

His name spoken in anxious, worried syllables.

"Sandburg?" A warm hand touched the side of his face, pushing dripping hair away from his bruised cheekbone. The same voice spoke again. Gently. Beseechingly. "Chief? You in there?" The hand touched his face, joined by its mate on the other side, forming a cradle of warmth.

He shivered again as his face was directed toward two blue eyes. Recognition swam to the surface. "Jim."

Lips relaxed into a small smile. "Yeah. It's Jim." Those eyes flickered upwards to a presence Blair could sense standing behind him on the edge of the small concrete fountain. The soft-voiced conversation told him it was Simon. Jim's hands slid down to rest on Blair's shoulders, thumbs rubbing idly against his neck. Water splashed behind his large frame.

Blair looked at his feet and saw Jim's shoes through a murky film of green- and pink-tinged water. He frowned. Jim's gonna ruin his shoes in the fountain.

The fountain.

The technicolor movie played once more and Blair inhaled sharply, both hands going up to grip Jim's arms, knuckles whitening as interrupted reality slammed down on him. His heart skipped a beat and his breath panted outwards in uncontrollable gasps. "Jim. She--oh, man, she tried to--"

Those blue eyes re-focused on him, almost too intently and he flinched, wanting to look away but unable to. The eyes softened just a bit, and Blair wet his lips and tried to find the words to explain.

"I didn't want--I tried not to--she had--had a gun--made me--" A sob broke free and he leaned forward, changing his grip from Jim's arms to his jacket. "It all happened so fast."

One of Jim's hands curled upwards and cupped the back of his head, fingers sliding under sopping curls to guide Blair's forehead to his shoulder. The other hand splayed widely over Blair's upper back.

More water splashed behind Jim. And low voices. He didn't dare raise his head.

"It's okay, Chief." A beat or two, then, "Can you tell me what happened? Just take it slow. I'm here."

Several deep breaths and he found a rhythm and the right order of events. "I was in my office and Alex...she came in with a gun, said she was going to kill me. I threw...something at her, don't remember what, got away, ran out here, but she caught up. We fought. She tried to drown me." His fingers tightened on Jim's jacket and he felt a corresponding pressure on his back and the back of his head.

Sirens whined as more vehicles pulled into the already crowded courtyard of Hargrove Hall. He could hear the hum of early-arriving students asking what happened, as well as at least one nosy reporter wanting instant answers.

"I don't know how, but I pushed her away and got the gun. I told her to stay away, to sit down. I begged her not to--not to--but she jumped at me, pushed me down in water again. The gun just went off." His voice broke.

Quiet voices behind Jim and the jarring sound of a heavy-duty zipper made him jerk.

"I didn't mean to kill her, Jim."

Lifting his head against the weight of Jm's hand, Blair watched, distraught, as long-fingered artist's hands were folded limply over an inert chest and flyaway strands of wispy blonde hair were tucked inward before the heavy black bodybag was rezipped.

"I only wanted to help."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

--Tribal Protectors--

A keyboard of a laptop computer clicked quietly in the near-silence of the loft. Words formed themselves on a glowing screen and reflected off Blair's glasses where he sat at the kitchen table, absorbed in his own little world of academia. His fingers paused and he pursed his lips as he reviewed what he'd written and then pondered those last few sentences to summarize such a lengthy document.

Several minutes of trial and error finally led him to exactly what he wanted to say and hoped that his work would portray as a whole.

"Humanity has long dug into its past in the hope that it will shed light on its future. Perhaps what this reveals is that it is the best of ourselves that will survive and lead us through the next millennium. Watching our every step will be our tribal protectors -- the sentinels -- and their insight will further illuminate the spiritual connection of all things."

Satisfied with the ending, he typed in "the end" and saved and sent the last few pages to the printer to add to the stack in the metal lockbox next to the laptop. While he waited, he stared at the title page of the first draft of his dissertation -- The Sentinel: Genetics, Mythology, and Ontology of our Tribal Protectors by Blair Sandburg -- and it hit him.

Three years and some odd months after first meeting Jim and beguiling the disbelieving, longsuffering cop into letting an overactive graduate student shadow him and he was--

"Done."

His own voice surprised him for a moment and he lifted a half-empty water bottle to take a few swallows. Well, done, more or less.

Except...

Even knowing how critical he was of his own work, Blair knew in his heart that this particular first draft was, by and large, ready to be turned into his dissertation committee.

Except...

The printer stopped and he rose to his feet to gather up the final papers to add to the thick stack. Tapping them slowly into place, he had to smile and wonder just what would be the next large project to occupy so much of his time now that the sentinel thesis was finished.

Except...

*~smack~*

The stack of papers hit the tabletop loudly and Blair shouted at the ceiling. "All right, already! I know." He paced away from the table, both hands tugging at his hair. "I know. I mean, I don't know. Man... How am I going to protect Jim? How can I submit this with his name plastered all over every page?" He slumped against the back of the couch and stared bleakly at his thesis and laptop. "What am I going to do?"

The blinking cursor after "the end" didn't have any answers for him.

"There has to be a way I can do this without totally destroying everything I've done for the past three years." He gnawed at his lower lip. Shaking his head and sighing heavily, he pushed away from the couch and returned to his computer. "First, I talk to Jim. Then I'll start worrying about the rest." Blair glanced at the time display on the laptop monitor. "Oh, man, speaking of Jim, I am so late."

Hurriedly re-aligning the heavy thesis, he placed it carefully into the lockbox. As he turned back to the laptop to shut it down, the loft phone rang. Stretching one arm down the table, he picked up the handset and answered without thought as he closed out of his word processing program.

"Jim, man, I'm sorry. I know I'm late, but I can explain. I--" An unfamiliar voice interrupted him and he apologized. "Sorry, I thought you were someone else. Yes, this is Blair Sandburg. Can I help you?" The voice continued and he could only listen and blanch and stammer out a few half-words in response to the brief sentences coming over the phone line. Finally, he swallowed hard and managed to say, "Yes, yes, I'll--I'll be in touch. Thank you for--for calling."

He hung up the phone, nearly dropping it on the table top. His eyes stared at and through the multi-colored bouncing ball pinging from side to side on his monitor laptop.

Another phone rang, this time his cellphone. After listening numbly to two rings, he fumbled it out from within the wide-open backpack on the nearby chair. It rang twice more before he remembered how to answer it.

"H-hello?"

Jim's clipped voice came across the line, demanding to know where he was and why he wasn't there. Beyond his voice, Blair could hear the clamorous din of a crowd of people and vehicles.

"J-jim? I-- Something's happened."

The anger vanished in an instant from Jim's voice, replaced immediately by concern, the overworked cop moving aside for the caring friend. In his mind's eye, Blair could see Jim turning away from the crowd and whoever he was with, cupping his hands over the fragile connection between them, tuning out everything else. His query of "what's wrong, Chief?" almost broke him.

"It's my mom. Naomi. I just got a call. She's de--she's gone." A sob rose up and he covered his mouth. "What am I going to do?"

He dimly heard Jim speaking quickly to Megan but the only words he cared about were the ones spoken into the phone a few moments later.

"Hang on. I'm coming."

~the end~