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

Summary: Boxes, pillows, and a missing Blair.

For Becky, a smarmy humorous fic sprinkled with a bit of angst. She likes that kind of stuff.
Episode spoilers: small non-detailed mention of Crossroads.

Missing
by Robyn
April 1998

Jim Ellison trudged up the last few stairs in the apartment building and made his way down the hall to the loft door. It had been one of those days -- no, one of those weeks -- the kind that made you feel like someone had tied you to a treadmill, turned up the speed, then left and forgot to come back. Haven't seen much of Sandburg in the past few days, thought Jim as he put his key in the front door. Seems he was always leaving for the University just as I was getting home from work. He wouldn't be avoiding. . . Jim paused, then shoved the uncomfortable rest of the thought aside. He'd been trying not to think about their conversation a few weeks back at Clayton Falls. Besides, later Blair had assured him repeatedly that as long as Jim wanted him around, he wasn't going anywhere.

Jim proceeded to turn the key in the lock but the doorknob turned easily, obviously already unlocked. He opened the door slowly. He presumed that Sandburg was home, although since the Volvo was spending time at the mechanic's yet again, Jim hadn't been able to tell from the presence or absence of the green car as to whether Blair was at home or not. Then again, he'd found unwanted visitors in the loft more than once before, so it didn't hurt to be careful.

The door swung open to reveal a sight that left Jim, the usually self-assured detective, unsure of how to react. The first thing he noticed was the open boxes scattered on the living room floor. A tribal mask peeked at him over the top of one of the boxes, and he realized that its usual spot on the bookshelf was empty. South American vases, traditional dolls, and other various artifacts were also missing from their previous locations around the loft. Blair's earth music cd was playing quietly in the background. Jim's mouth assumed the half-open position and his blue eyes clouded. Confusion, dread, and panic were fighting it out in the arena of his stomach. His senses seemed to be reaching out for something, anything, to hold on to in what seemed like a sudden change in his reality. So when Jim heard the voice, he latched on to it with a desperateness only a sentinel can experience when he feels he is about to lose his guide.

Even though the voice wasn't directed at him. Not purposely, anyway. It was coming from Blair's room. And it was muttering.

Something kept Jim from using his sentinel hearing to make out the muffled words, even though he could have done so easily. Deep down he knew it was because he didn't want his worst fears confirmed.

Jim directed his attention to his friend's room as he walked toward it, still unaware that his mouth was half-open. The double doors were cracked open only a few inches. Intermittent thud noises occasionally interrupted the familiar voice's frustrated muttering as if some soft object were hitting one of the doors from the inside.

"Chief?" Jim called out, a little more timidly than his usual delivery of the nickname.

No answer. Just continued muttering.

"Sandburg? You in there?" Jim put his hand on one of the bedroom doors and pushed on it gently. Meeting resistance from the several pillows piled up behind it, Jim applied firmer pressure and got the door wide open.

"Bl---?" Smack! Just as Jim stuck his head in the doorway, one of the red pillows that usually adorned the top of Blair's bed hit him full in the face. Startled, Jim caught the pillow, intending to use it as a shield if necessary. It was then that he looked over at the other side of the bed where the remaining pillows were piled on the ground. Quickly scanning the rest of the room, Jim saw the stacks of papers and books scattered all over the bed and on the floor -- the usual situation in Sandburg's room, but the mess was more than status quo today. It spoke more of a desperate person searching for something very important. But Blair was nowhere to be seen.

Then the stack of pillows on the floor moved. A few fell to the side, revealing the blue jeans-covered posterior of Jim's partner sticking out from under the bed. Then the muttering voice spoke again, this time clearly enough for Jim to make out what it was saying, even though it was still muffled because it came from underneath the bed.

"Where did I put that thing? I know it's somewhere..." More shuffling noises came from underneath the bed, as if things were being moved around and sorted through. "Gotta find it before Jim gets back..."

What is the kid looking for? Jim thought. Before his mind had time to force him to consider the more serious possibilities, another pillow came flying, only this time he was able to deflect it from another close encounter with his face.

"Sandburg!!!" Jim yelled. He tried to move closer to the bed, but there was too much junk in the way.

It was just as well, because the voice seemed to pay no mind to Jim's calling. After a few more seconds of shuffling noises and more muttering, it spoke again, this time triumphantly. "Yesss! Got it." The rest of the pillows were pushed aside as the owner of the voice emerged from underneath the bed, his long hair loose and rather rumpled. "Ow!" yelped Blair as he bumped the back side of his head on the edge of the bed. Rubbing the back of his skull, he pushed aside the curly strands of hair still obstructing his view. It was then that he saw Jim.

For what seemed like minutes (although it was only seconds), Blair froze where he sat on the floor as he looked at Jim with wide deep blue eyes. Jim detected his partner's heart rate speeding up a little, and his face blanching just a shade. Blair swallowed, still saying nothing. Jim swallowed too, feeling the anxiety level rising within himself.

"J--jim! I didn't hear you come in."

"Oh, uh, yeah," Jim answered, nervously running his hand through the back of his hair. "Simon let me off early today. Been kind of a long week."

"Yeah, haven't seen you around much lately."

Jim was beginning to think this was one of the most uncomfortable, unnatural conversations he'd had yet with the young anthropologist, who had now pulled himself to a standing position beside the bed and was shifting his weight from foot to foot.

Jim swallowed again. I might as well get this over with. I have to know. Then he spoke, the words spilling out before he could stop them. "I noticed all the boxes in the front room..." he paused, scrutinizing Blair's face for any kind of reaction to his words. "Getting tired of the decor?"

Luckily for Jim, in an instant Blair's facial expression changed from worried to mirthful. He broke into a very large grin, the kind people have when they are trying desperately to look innocent.

"Oh, those!"

"Yeah, those," Jim said, exhaling sharply with relief. He couldn't remember the last time he had been so happy to see Blair grinning so widely.

"Oh, see, Rhonda asked me to help her six-year old daughter out with a show-and-tell thing at her school. I'm going over there tomorrow morning to give a little talk and show them some neato artifacts, you know? Think they'll like it, Jim?" The words tumbled out almost faster than Jim could process them.

"Yeah, yeah, of course they'll like it," Jim said, glad that Blair was back to his usual hyper self. He held out a hand to Blair, who was having a bit of trouble maneuvering his way around the bed without injuring himself on the stuff scattered on the floor.

"Thanks, man," said Blair as they made their way out into the front room. Blair plopped onto the couch and proceeded to rearrange some of the items in one of the boxes.

"So what were you looking for under your bed?" Jim asked as he sat down on the couch beside his friend. He noticed that Blair started to rummage faster in the box, not meeting his eyes.

"Oh, just a piece of paper," Blair mumbled, as if that were going to keep Jim from understanding him. Blair continued to shift the artifacts around in the box in a futile manner.

"A piece of paper?"

"Yeah." Blair looked up directly at Jim. "The dry cleaning slip."

Jim looked confused at first, then smiled. Give him enough rope to hang himself, Jim thought mischievously. "The dry cleaning slip?" he repeated.

"Yeah. I know I was supposed to pick the things up this week. But don't worry, I found it. I'll go get the clothes tomorrow, I promise!"

"Chief."

"Yeah?"

"I already picked up the dry cleaning on the way home from work. And you didn't find the slip. I had it with me."

Blair gulped. "Oh."

"Blair, old buddy," Jim said as he put his hand on his friend's shoulder, "this is why you shouldn't try that obfuscating thing with me. Now if you'd said 'another artifact for Jenny's school show-and-tell' or even 'a cocktail napkin with some girl's phone number on it,' that would have been more believable. But the dry cleaning slip? Sorry partner, but that was the wrong answer. I'm not that bad of a detective, am I, hmm?"

"Uh, well, see Jim, it was because I didn't think you wanted to know the truth."

"And that would be..."

"I was chasing a bug. A real big one."

"You don't mean...!?!"

"Yep, Jim, I knew you wouldn't like it, but it's the truth. It was a roach."

"Sandburg."

"Yeah, Jim?"

"We don't have roaches. There are no roaches in the loft."

"How do you know?" Blair said defensively.

"Okay, fine. Show it to me."

"Show it to you? Those things are disgusting. You don't want to see it."

"I know, but you show it to me and I'll believe you."

"It got away."

"No, it didn't. I know you. You wouldn't let a roach get away while I was in the room and not say anything about it the whole time. You were too calm."

A look of defeat spread over Blair's face, and he slumped back on the couch.

"Chief. Show me what you were looking for under the bed."

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"I just can't."

Jim sighed. This interrogation was harder than he thought it would be.

"Am I gonna have to chase you around the loft to get you to empty your pockets?"

"C'mon Jim. Please don't."

"Blair, what is so important that you can't tell me about? Is it that bad?"

"No, no, Jim."

"Well, then?"

Blair looked resigned. "Okay, fine. Here." He dug into his jeans pocket and pulled out a folded piece of paper, handing it to Jim.

Jim unfolded the paper. It was a gift certificate to Tra Vigne's, one of the most elite gourmet restaurants in Cascade, a place that required reservations a year in advance.

"I wanted it to be a surprise," explained Blair. "I got this awhile ago. Someone over there owed me a favor and said I had standing reservations for the next couple months whenever I wanted to show up..." He scanned Jim's face for a response. "... but lately I started thinking that maybe with you wanting some time alone, that you wouldn't want to..."

"But Chief, why don't you want to take out some nice girl to this place? Do you know how many women would be lining up to go with you to Tra Vigne's?"

"I know, I know, Jim. But I thought it would be fun for us to go. And I know they serve this really good cheesecake there. I know how much you like cheesecake."

Jim paused, then grinned. "Chief. I can only think of one thing to say to this."

"Yeah?"

Jim clapped Blair on the back. "Let's go!"

Blair returned Jim's smile. "Great! It's almost dinner time. I'm starved!"

**************************

After changing into more formal outfits, two very good looking men made their way to the door.

"Hey, Jim," Blair said as he reached for his coat.

"Yeah, Chief?"

"When you'd just come home and we were back in my room, you looked kind of worried back there, Jim. Everything okay?"

Jim paused, remembering the thoughts that had been going through his mind.

"Yeah, everything's okay...I was just...worried about you."

"Worried?"

"Yeah, I was worried...about the look on your face. You know, Chief, you looked like a deer caught in the headlights back there."

"I did not!"

"Yes, you did."

"I did not!"

"Yes, you did..."

"Not!..."

~ The End ~