Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Missing Scenes Collection

Summary: An epilogue in which Jim finally lets down his barriers and allows himself to grieve as Blair comforts him. Spoilers for Love Kills.

For Shiloh. Because she asked.

Mourning the Loss
epilogue for Love Kills
by Becky
March 1998

2:47 a.m.

Hands folded behind his head on his pillow, Blair stared at the ceiling of his small, darkened bedroom. Or rather, he imagined he was staring at what lay somewhere above his head, beyond the physical barriers that separated him from the source of his troubled thoughts. Forget minor things such as ceilings. We might as well be on different sides of the Pacific Ocean considering the distance Jim has put between himself and anybody who cares about him. Sighing softly, he rolled to his side and pushed himself up, shoving back his hair with both hands as he sat on the edge of the bed.

Three days ago, he had watched as Jim held the body of a woman he once loved, rocking slowly, obviously distraught. Blair hadn't known what to do, so he'd just stood there, wide-eyed, watching. He'd only seen Jim react so emotionally a few times before -- when Danny Choi had been killed and when Incacha had died. James Ellison, resident Sentinel of the Great City, Officer of the Year, and Major Crimes detective, was always in control. Emotions didn't come into play that often, at least not visibly.

Jim hadn't cried at all, just rocked back and forth, holding Lila's body for a few minutes before he finally agreed to let her go. At that point, Blair had been at his side, ready to offer comfort and whatever else he could to his friend. But Blair had taken one look into those cold blue eyes and taken an involuntary step back, suddenly not recognizing the man standing before him.

Jim Ellison had locked up, refusing to let anyone past those iron doors that slammed, almost audibly, into place behind his eyes. He'd taken the truck keys from Blair, found his truck, and took off, leaving his partner to catch a ride with whomever he could find. Brown had been kind enough to drop him by the loft, but Jim had been nowhere to be found. It wasn't until late that night that Jim had returned, still withdrawn and glaring daggers before Blair could even say anything.

Three days later, things were pretty much the same. Maybe even a little worse.

Blair scrubbed both hands over his face. Face it, Sandburg, you're not getting any sleep tonight. Not when you're so worried about Mr. I'm-Fine-Leave-Me-Alone. You know he's not sleeping either and he's got to know you're up as well. Why pretend he doesn't know? He shook his head, shifting his glance back to the ceiling for a moment before standing and shuffled quietly out of the small room.

Might as well get up and do something since I'm not gonna sleep.

He paused a moment at the kitchen table, looking down at the papers stacked haphazardly on one corner. Tests that had to be graded by Friday, plus half-written notes for a lecture in two days, and his own research notes for a project that he really needed to get working on sometime very soon. Deciding he didn't feel up to tackling any of his University work, he headed into the kitchen. Maybe a nice cup of tea to soothe the nerves. I need sleep even if Jim thinks he doesn't.

With practiced ease gained from months of late night studying, Blair silently filled the tea kettle and set it to boil. Leaning against the opposite counter, he watched the burner warm up, ready to pull the kettle off as soon as it began to whistle. Above him, he heard a creak, indicative to him that Jim was very much awake just as he figured.

Just like he's been for the past three nights. The man is gonna pass out at work pretty soon. Simon's already threatening to put him on leave, saying one day was not enough, that he needs to see a counselor about this. But, no, Jim just says he's fine in that 'back off' tone of voice. As if those gray circles and that lost look weren't telling a totally different story.

Another creak interrupted his musings, but still no voice, no acknowledgment that each knew the other was awake. Awake for the same reason, more or less. Normally, if either one heard the other up this late at night, they would talk to each other, try to find out what was wrong, see if it could be fixed. But not this time, not now. I've already tried that. And been told in no uncertain terms to leave him alone or else. Seeing as he wanted to keep all his body parts intact, Blair had backed off.

That had been two days ago, almost 24 hours after Lila had been killed. He and Jim had hardly spoken a word to each other since. At least not outside of absolutely necessary conversation. Blair hadn't even been to the station after that first day. He only knew what Simon wanted to do since the captain had called him at the University this morning with his concerns, wanting to know what Blair thought about the whole thing.

The tea kettle started to whistle and Blair jerked himself back to the present. He grabbed the kettle and flipped off the stove, waiting in silence for a moment for Jim's angry voice to float down to him, mad at the early morning noise. But there was nothing, nothing other than another creak in the floorboards above his head. Making a face, absurdly upset that Jim wasn't bothered enough to say anything, Blair fixed himself a cup of tea, then walked quietly over to stand at the balcony windows to stare out into the night sky.

Curling both hands around the warm mug, Blair sipped at the hot tea. Jim, what am I supposed to do? Let you keep doing this? Just ignore it and hope it goes away? I know you're hurting. I can see that. Hell, everyone can see that. No one likes to lose someone in their life, especially not like that, and especially not someone you thought was 'the one'.

Just as much as it was Jim's tendency to want to help Blair and fix whatever was wrong, it was Blair's desire to do the same. He knew that sometimes the way he reacted made things difficult for Jim and that maybe what Jim was doing was the same sort of thing. But there was a difference. Whereas Blair did take refuge in solitude, he didn't lock everything down for long. Jim, on the other hand, shoved all his feelings away and all his friends. He became a ramrod straight army officer with nary a crack or fault to be seen.

Blair leaned sideways against the cold glass, shifting his thankfully sock-covered feet on the hard wood floor. He smiled sadly to himself, catching his reflection in the glass. Well, no cracks except for one Blair Sandburg, anthropologist and guide. I know every chink in your armor, Ellison, and you know it. I just have to find the right lever to get at those chinks and make them a little wider, get you to talk to me.

His eyes caught a movement in the glass and he looked up to see dim movement in the upstairs bedroom. Jim. He didn't move, however, just went back to drinking his tea, hoping and praying Jim would say something, anything that would give him the chance to talk.

When Jim did speak, his soft words almost surprised him. Almost.

"What's wrong, Chief?"

Blair blinked, turning his head away from the glass to look upstairs, really not seeing more than vague shapes and shadows in the darkness. Wrong? He wants to know what's wrong? He swallowed and replied, "Couldn't sleep."

"Any particular reason?"

He hesitated, not knowing what he should say. He didn't want to scare Jim off now that he was finally talking to him. He stared at the tea in his mug, as if looking for the answer to be spelled out for him. Finally he answered, "I guess, well, I'm a little worried."

"Worried? About who?" This time, Blair could hear trepidation in Jim's voice, maybe even a prelude to yanking himself away again.

"About..." What do I say? Then an idea occurred to him. He sipped at his tea, prayed for strength and went on. "About a friend."

"A friend." Now Jim sounded confused.

Blair looked outside the balcony windows and continued quietly. "Yeah, he's having a rough time right now. Lost someone he loved. His other friends and I, well, we're all pretty concerned. I think he thinks he's okay, that he's got a handle on everything. But from looking at him, we know he's not sleeping, that he's not okay. But none of us know what we should do. He's a self-sufficient guy, you know, doesn't like to admit he's got weaknesses and hurts just like the rest of us.

"I think, well, I think he needs to talk about it, maybe cry some, but it's not the guy thing to do, not something he would believe is something he needs to do. And then I think maybe he doesn't think anyone else would understand. He fell in love with someone he thought he could trust, then got betrayed by her. At the end, when she wanted to change, wanted to be someone else instead of who she was, well, she was taken away from him before he could do anything." He paused, staring down at his mug again.

"He asked me once if I had ever fallen in love so hard that I thought that she might be 'the one'. I told him no." He chuckled once, sharply. "I lied. I did. Once." Visions of a naive, young girl flitted through his mind along with the more darkened memories of her father, and later her boyfriend. Shaking the old memories and old hurt away, he finished softly, almost talking to himself now more than to Jim. He didn't even know if Jim was still listening at this point.

"I wish he knew that I do understand, at least some of it, if not all of it. Maybe it's selfish of me to want him to feel better, to be better, to not hurt. Maybe I just need to wait him out, just stick around, keep an eye on him, just let him know I'm here, that I won't leave."

Silence rolled over Blair like a blanket. Focusing on the balcony windows, he concentrated on remembering how to breathe, how not to panic as he waited for Jim to respond. A minute went by and nothing. Another minute. Still nothing. Then...

A choked sob broke the quiet, followed by Jim's cracked voice. "Oh, god, Blair, she's dead. I loved her. And she's dead."

Blair hurriedly turned toward the stairs, depositing his mug on the nearest flat surface, which happened to be the bookshelves nearest the staircase. Taking the steps two at a time, Blair ran up to the upstairs bedroom. Jim, dressed in a robe, sat on the edge of the bed, hunched over, elbows on his knees, face in his hands, his shoulders jerking as he cried between jagged breaths. Blair sat down beside him and cautiously laid a hand on Jim's back, feeling the tension of his muscles. When Jim didn't protest, Blair started to slowly rub his hand on Jim's back, hoping to dispel some of that tension.

He murmured softly, "I know, Jim, it hurts." Jim shuddered under his touch, sobbing harder. Slowly, Blair curled his arms around the older man's shoulders, drawing him closer to him, holding him, rocking him. Minutes passed and slowly Jim's harsh crying lessened, evening out. Tears still streamed down Jim's face, accompanied now by quiet sobs.

Carefully Blair tugged Jim back as he shifted on the bed to lean against the headboard, pulling Jim up beside him. Jim's arms moved to wrap themselves tightly around Blair's waist and his forehead came to rest on Blair's shoulder. Blair could feel the tears falling from Jim's eyes to slide down his skin and absorb into his t-shirt. He tightened his hold, shifting one hand to keep Jim close to him while with the other he continued to rub his back in long, smooth, soothing strokes.

"It's okay, Jim, just cry it all out. I'm not going anywhere."

Another choked sob was his reply.

Blair tilted his head down and pressed his cheek to the back of Jim's head. "You cry as much as you need to and then rest. Let me be the 'blessed protector' for a little bit. Okay?"

A soft, wet, tearful chuckle rose to his ears.

Blair paused in his rubbing to pat Jim's back. "Hold on here for a sec." He stretched out one arm and snagged Jim's heavy comforter that was shoved to one side of the bed. Pulling it over, he draped it over his legs and Jim's. With a satisfied sigh, he resumed his slow, gentle rubbing of Jim's back.

More time passed, and little by little, the tears faded away to be replaced by soft gulps of air between residual hiccups. Blair whispered, "You doing okay here, Jim?"

Jim nodded against his shoulder. "Yeah, I think so. Now, at least. Blair, thanks for being here."

Blair smiled. "There's nowhere else I'd rather be. Now rest." He lengthened and slowed his strokes across Jim's back, using both that and the most calming tone of voice he knew to aid Jim in finding the sleep he needed. "Just rest."

"Will you stay?" Jim's hold tightened convulsively for a moment

"As long as you need me to. Close your eyes."

Jim finally succumbed to sleep, letting it carry him away as Blair kept watch. Blair shifted slightly, and the man lying against him stirred slightly, murmuring. The younger man stilled his movements and whispered softly, "Shhh-shhh, it's okay. Sleep, Jim." After another second, Jim slid back down into the depths of sleep, safe in knowledge that Blair wasn't leaving.

As long as you want me to be here, Jim, I'll be here. I don't ever want to leave. Sleep, now, my dear friend. Sleep and dream of peace and healing.

- The End -