Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Quote by Newell Dwight Hillis.

Reflections on Friendship
by Becky
September 1999

Friendship warms like a sunbeam...

"Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee..." Blair muttered his morning chant as he stumbled out of his room. Morning, however, it was not, even if the drizzly gray outside made it appear darker than the actual time of 12 noon. He rubbed at his eyes with one hand, using the other to feel along in front of him, not wanting to bump into the counter. His hand hit something else, quite solid but which gave a little. Soft fabric caught between his fingers and a rhythmic thumping vibrated against his palm. Forcing tired eyes open, he looked up to see two blue eyes watching him.

"Uh...hi, Jim."

"Looking for this?" Jim held out his favorite mug -- that is, Jim's favorite mug -- filled with something hot, if the steam rising from the surface was any indication.

Blair gently wrapped his hands around it, holding it under his nose. "Oh, wow. Thank you. Oh, man." He took a small sip, sighing in pleasure. "Tea. Better than coffee. Thank you," he repeated.

Jim leaned one hip against the counter. "You finish?"

Nodding, Blair took another swallow. "Mm-hmm. The article's all ready to send off for publication. Even with a day to spare." Another swallow as the student straightened. "Still gotta take it down to the post office though if I want to get it out in time." He groaned at the prospect, eyes filling rather gritty and head feeling full of polyfill after typing all night long. Going to the post office and standing in lines wasn't high on his list of favorite things to do right then. He stared at the surface of the tea, wondering if he had any of his chocolate stash left for some quick and dirty energy.

"I'll go."

"Huh?" Blair glanced up at Jim. "What?"

Jim chuckled and came around to lay a hand on Blair's shoulder. "I said I'll go. Give me the paper and the address. I'll take care of it for you. You need to play some catch-up."

"Huh?"

The chuckle got deeper and more amused. Jim took the mug away from Blair and set it on the counter. "C'mon, Sleepy, time to get some shut eye. Let's get that paper printed off and then you can crash on the couch since I'm sure your bed isn't liveable. And it's warmer out here anyway. Okay?"

"Uh, okay." Blair stopped at the door to his room, looking at Jim. "You sure?"

"Yeah, Chief, I'm sure."

...charms like a good story...

"And then, oh, man, Jim," Blair spoke between laughter, "you'll never guess what he did."

"Hmm." Jim turned the wheel of the truck, maneuvering through the early evening traffic. Paper rustling caught his ear and he muttered, "If you're eating my fries again, Sandburg..."

A pause and more paper rustling, both of which were followed by a quick swallow and even quicker words. "Me? Eat your fries? Would I do that?"

Jim shot a glare at his partner, smirking as he saw Blair lifting his hand to his mouth to lick telltale salt and grease from his fingers. Blair's eyes widened and he yanked his hand down, trying to be casual about running them across his jeans. Jim just shook his head, sighing.

The younger man shifted in his seat, looking out the window at a few passing cars. "Uh...where was I?"

"Well, before you started snacking on my fries, you were about to tell me what this friend of yours did after he got accepted or inducted or whatever." Another turn and one street closer to home. And to eating his burger and fries in the piece of the loft. Whatever was left of his fries after Blair the Closet French Fry Fan got a hold of them. He chuckled quietly to himself.

"Anyway... What's so funny, Jim?"

"Nothing, nothing. You were saying...?"

"Oh, yeah. Well..." Blair started gesturing in the space in the cab again, twisting slightly around to face Jim, painting a colorful, zany, and quite delightful picture with his words. Jim found himself laughing despite himself, despite the convoluted nature of the tale, and its doubtful total veracity. It didn't matter. Blair had a way of finding something to make him laugh, even on his worse days. And that was the only thing that did matter.

...inspires like a brave leader...

"Good one, Steven! Beautiful!" Blair's voice echoed above the loud voices of the players as the basketball whooshed through the hoop. Lowering his hands into his lap, Blair shifted on the park bench again, idly thinking of the pillow in the trunk of the car, then dismissing it. No way he wanted to hobble back to the parking lot. Not that Jim would think of letting him. After having majorly twisting his ankle during a chase the day before, Blair was on crutches and strict orders to keep his foot propped up as much as possible.

Which for today meant watching from the sidelines as Jim played basketball in the local park with the group of teenage boys that hung out in the area. Normally he played as well, but today...today Steven had joined them for breakfast and then gone to the park with them. Blair had been pleasantly surprised to discover that Jim's younger brother played so well.

A year or so before, Jim and Blair had started the practice of coming to the park nearly every Sunday to play a little basketball on the courts. What started as one-on-one had quickly developed into teams as the teenage boys in the area showed up and wanted to play as well. Most knew Jim was a cop, but also knew he was a good guy. Blair enjoyed watching Jim interact with the kids, answering questions about life, knowing a lot of the boys didn't come from good homes. Some didn't even have fathers in their lives to show them how to be a man.

For reasons unexplained and unspoken, Jim had willingly taken on the challenge of showing a bunch of boys who'd not had much in the way of discipline or proper role modeling just how to be a grown-up. How to be a good guy. How to help others and themselves. On the court, he was just a guy. They knew that. And they felt willing to talk to him more, get some direction for their lives.

A miniature tribe, Blair had privately named it. Jim's miniature tribe, a chosen few he was taking into training as hopefuls to be future guardians.

A foul was called and one boy, a little newer than the rest, started to pick a fight. Jim grabbed onto him and held onto his arms, pulling him a few feet away from the other boys to talk to him, calming him down.

"Hey, hey, hey, easy, easy."

Jim's voice carried across the court before he lowered it to whisper intently to the boy. After he'd finished saying whatever quiet words he needed, Jim gave the boy a soft little shake. Blair smiled at that, recognizing the move as one Jim used on him occasionally. The boy nodded to whatever Jim said and jogged back to join the other kids. Steven joined Jim as the detective walked back onto the main court. Blair watched as Steven smiled at Jim, leaning into say something. Jim laughed, grinned, and thumped his brother on the back.

Blair smiled wider. Brothers by blood reunited -- something he'd been hoping would happen. Something he'd been quietly working toward. Jim glanced over at them as the players got ready to start the game up again. Blair gave him a thumbs-up and a big grin. Jim tossed off a salute and one of his classic relaxed and happy smiles, then jumped back into the game as the ball was thrown in.

Shifting again on the uncomfortable bench, Blair settled back to watch his friend at work even while he was at play.

...binds like a golden chain...

Sometimes he wondered why everyone didn't see what he did. He'd tried explaining it to himself, to a few select others, but he never could. The two men and their friendship just wasn't easily defined.

Simon had watched one hardnose cop take a stray anthropologist under his wing, under his protection, and into his home. A friendship had been developing almost from the moment they'd met, growing stronger with every second. The captain had known from the moment Jim had argued against cutting Blair free during the Lash case that the friendship, the partnership, was there to stay, no matter what they went through. And they had been through some pretty terrible things in the three years they'd known each other. Somehow every time, they'd manage to come out on top and still in one piece.

Though he had to wonder if their current challenge wouldn't be too much for them. He cupped one hand around his mouth and yelled across the field. "Come on, you two, get it together. Sometime today would be nice."

Jim waved a distracted hand at him, but didn't deign to look up from where he was trying to situate his partner's leg next to his in the burlap bag. Blair had a rather gleeful and patently amused look on his face, nodding every now and then to Jim's long-winded instructions. Simon could only imagine what thoughts were going through Blair's head as they prepared for the Annual Major Crimes Picnic Three-legged Race. On the other hand, maybe he didn't want to know what the observer was thinking.

Finally it looked like the two were ready to go. Jim waved a hand at Simon again and shifted to line up with the other contestants at the starting line -- Rafe and Brown, Levitt and Rodriguez, Megan and Serena, and Buxton and Addisen. Simon glanced over at Joel who stood at the other side of the finish line, then lifted his whistle and blew it.

Two steps into the race and Blair fell behind Jim's longer steps and tripped, landing in the grass, bringing Jim down on top of him. Jim yanked him back up even as they laughed and kept going. None of the other pairs had any better luck, not having practiced beforehand. Down and up, down and up. Blair's laughter got louder every time they fell, especially after Jim tripped once and Blair fell on top of him. Jim cast long-suffering eyes toward the blue afternoon skies and hauled them both back up again.

Simon just laughed, shaking his head. Those hanging around, watching the contest, laughed with them, especially when Jim finally gave the contest up to the rapidly winning Rafe and Brown. He settled for a wrestling match with Blair on the grassy field, threatening tickles and noogies since Blair's uncontrollable laughter had lost them the prize -- one of Rhonda's deliciously sinful meringue pies.

Blair only shrugged and squirmed away from the bigger man's hold. He tore up a handful of grass and threw at Jim, then ran off to hide behind Joel, dancing away from Jim's long arms, staying just far enough away to keep his ribs safe, but never so far that either one couldn't touch and bask in their mutual light.

...guides like a heavenly vision.

Staring up at the night sky, Jim felt every tensed nerve and muscle finally, slowly begin to relax. Hands folded behind his head which rested on his discarded jacket, he lay on his back near the burnt down fire. Some distance away, he could hear the river water bubble over rocks and bends in the course. Behind him, Blair and Simon went about their usual playful bickering, something about the number and size of fish. He grinned. Simon might have got the bigger fish, but Blair was winning the verbal battle. The man was just no match for the master of words.

Jim sighed and shifted once, then closed his eyes, letting his senses drift, catching the scent of pine floating around him, as well as flowers, other trees, fresh water. Beyond their campsite, his ears picked up the quiet noises of animals, some settling down for the night, others just getting up for their nocturnal activities. Re-opening his eyes, he scanned the stars in the overhanging blanket of darkness, watching them sparkle and glitter and wink at him.

Feet scuffed behind him, warning him of his friends' approach. Simon sat on the log just next to him. Blair, however, laid down next to Jim on his side, looking up at the sky and the stars. The captain picked up the kettle of coffee and poured himself a cup, nursing it slowly in the silence. Blair, after a minute or so, touched Jim's elbow where it jutted outward. "What do you see, Jim?"

"I thought we said no tests, Darwin."

Blair said quietly, "Not a test. I'm...curious. Just me. Not the anthropologist or guide. Just...Blair."

Jim pulled both arms from behind his head and reached over with one to cup the back of his friend's head. With the other hand, he pointed upward. "There. I see one of the planets. A shooting star. Several constellations that I don't know the names of..." He went on, showing Blair what he saw.

At some point, Simon left them, disappearing into his tent. At another point, Blair curled up closer to Jim, resting his head on Jim's shoulder. Two friends enjoying a few peaceful moments. And a guide listening to his sentinel describe the wonders of the universe.

- The End -