Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

For Robyn -- because it's been a rough week. And for Hephaistos -- because she's doing such a great job in beta'reading my epic.

Assorted brief mentions of various episodes, no real spoilers.

Night's Vision
by Becky
November 1999

Contrary to popular opinion at the station, Blair Sandburg wasn't prone to nightmares.

Oh, there were always a few after the really nasty cases, the ones where either him or his partner would get into life-threatening, sometimes nearly life-ending, situations. Lash. Golden. Quinn.

Alex.

But the bad dreams, when they came, never lasted long and Blair always recovered, sometimes quickly, sometimes a little more slowly, but he always managed to deal with his demons.

Jim pondered those thoughts as he stared at the ceiling of the tent in the darkness. The night was pleasantly warm. Everything was quiet beyond the tent walls except crickets and the occasional birdcall echoing through the forest. In the second tent, he could hear the rumbling snores of his captain as he resettled into sleep.

The heavy weight along his side shifted and an unhappy murmur spilled out onto his shoulder. He refocused his attention downward and stroked his hand along Blair's back, soothing him instinctively. No, Blair wasn't really prone to nightmares, but when he did have them, they were, in a word, doozies. The younger man quieted and Jim closed his eyes, letting the night's events replay themselves behind shuttered eyelids...

~~~~~~~~

The fishing had been so-so, but that hadn't mattered to any of the three men who crawled into their sleeping bags much more rested and relaxed then they'd been when they'd arrived that morning. The setting of the forest and the peace of the river calmed them, helped them to find their own peace again away from the rush and crime of Cascade.

Jim waited until Simon zipped up his tent that set several yards away, then zipped up the tent he shared with Blair. Turning, he found his partner, dressed in navy sweats and a red t-shirt, already scooting into the bag and settling down into its warmth. Heavy shadows, cast by the camp light, danced along the walls as Blair moved. Jim chuckled and made his way over to his own bag.

"I don't know how you can be cold, Sandburg. It's the perfect temperature out here."

"Maybe for polar bears," came the muffled answer as Blair curled onto his side and ducked his head further into the bag.

Jim laughed again as he sat on top of his bag. He pulled over a small duffle bag and unzipped it. "Lucky for you, I came prepared."

Two blue eyeballs peeked over the edge of the sleeping bag as Jim pulled out the red wool afghan that normally lay draped over the back of the couch. With an economic and graceful movement, Jim snapped the afghan out to lay over Blair's sleeping bag, teasingly tucking it around him.

"There. Snug as a bug in a rug." He smiled a bit smugly as he tossed the empty duffle aside.

The two eyeballs rolled, then grew serious as Blair said a quiet "Thanks, Jim".

Even muted by the down filling of the sleeping bag, Jim heard it and stretched an arm over to pat Blair on the shoulder. "Anytime." He shifted and got himself into his own sleeping bag. He was also attired in sweats and a t-shirt, though he planned to leave the bag mostly unzipped so he wouldn't overheat. "Now then, let's get some sleep so the fish don't have it so easy tomorrow."

Blair laughed and closed his eyes. "Yes, sir. Wouldn't want those fish to get away from the great sentinel again."

"Will you two quiet it down? You're gonna scare all the fish away!" Simon's low voice echoed in the night air. Although the words sounded upset, the subdued laughter in his voice belied any anger. "And I'm trying to sleep."

Jim and Blair chimed out as one, "Sorry, Simon."

Simon grumbled a few times under his breath, then fell silent. Jim reached over and clicked off the camp light, throwing them into near blackness. Folding his arms under his head, Jim closed his eyes and whispered, "Night, Chief."

A few moments passed before Blair answered rather muzzily. "Night, Jim."

"Night, Simon."

A low snore rumbled from Simon's tent and Jim smiled, then shook his head. The poor man had been exhausted. That much had been obvious when he'd agreed without any 'Blair-cajoling' to take a three-day weekend with the two of them and leave Major Crimes in the more than capable hands of Joel. They'd all needed the break.

Jim shifted again, finding a more comfortable spot, then took a deep breath and let it out, imagining the tension flowing out with it. He suppressed a chuckle as he realized some of Blair's meditation practices had found their way into his daily life. Mentally shaking his head, he relaxed and drifted into sleep...

...only to be jerked awake when a loud noise rang in his ears. He sat up and looked around a little blearily, wondering what happened. Glancing without thought at the lighted display on the watch on his wrist, he saw that several hours had passed.

"No!"

Jim jumped at Blair's near-shout. He turned towards Blair, opening his sight to get a better view of his partner in the darkness. "Chief?"

Blair lay on his back in the sleeping bag; his body was still, but his eyes moved rapidly under his eyelids. The top of the bag had shifted downwards to reveal his face. His mouth hung open as he panted in irregular breaths. A spasm ran through his whole body and he called out again. "No!" His voice rose and Jim could hear Simon waking up, his low snores stopping abruptly.

Getting concerned, Jim moved closer and reached out a hand to touch Blair's nearest shoulder. "Blair--"

As his hand made contact, Blair screamed out another "No!" and yanked backwards from Jim's touch, struggling against the confines of the sleeping bag. Jim tried to get a hold of him, but Blair managed to get one hand free and swung outward with it. Jim blocked the blow carefully, not wanting to hurt his partner or be hurt by him, however unintentionally.

"Jim? What's going on?" Simon's worried voice came from just outside the tent.

"Not sure, Simon." He held onto Blair's arm with one hand as he moved closer to grasp Blair's shoulder with his other hand. "All I know is that I woke up and Sandburg's having one hell of a nightmare." Behind him, he heard the zipper being pulled. A breeze of cooler air and a carefully covered flashlight beam let him know that Simon had opened the flap enough to see inside. Jim dialed down his sight a little as the light filtered inward, reflecting off the sheen of sweat on Blair's forehead.

Simon gasped a little and Jim chanced a quick look behind him to see the somewhat fatherly worry on the captain's face. "Is there anything I can do?"

Returning his attention to Blair, Jim shook his head. "Probably not. I just gotta get him to wake up." He leaned over Blair, keeping his voice calm as he spoke to his dreaming partner. "Come on, Chief. It's okay. It's just a dream. Wake up now."

Blair continued to struggle, though with not as much energy. A choked cry emanating from between his lips. "Jim...no."

Jim froze, hand stilling from where he'd begun to move it from Blair's shoulder to his face.

Behind him, Simon whispered, "Jim?"

The detective shook himself and swallowed hard. He touched his hand to Blair's cheek, pushing away the dark curls from his face. "Wake up, Blair. It's just a dream."

Blair at first relaxed into the touch, then pulled away. "No. Jim... You killed him." He struggled harder and tried to push Jim away. "You killed him!" His voice rose again. "You killed--!"

Jim yanked Blair up to a sitting position and grasped him by the shoulders, shaking him hard enough to snap his head back. "Blair! Wake up!"

He woke. Gasping and panting, eyes wild with half-remembered night terrors, face sweating, hands clutching feebly at Jim's arms, but he woke. Sleeping bag and afghan pooled about him, Blair stared at him, his Adam's apple moving as he swallowed several times, then he pulled his arms from Jim's grasp and started patting Jim over the chest and shoulders. "Jim...you're here. You're alive? Okay? I thought she...I thought she killed you. I saw you floating...you were dead. Dead." He pressed his hand over Jim's heart. "She killed you," he repeated again. He shivered, the cool air drying the sweat from the nightmare.

Simon asked from over Jim's shoulder, "Who, Blair?"

Jim flashed his captain a quick glare, but then didn't get a chance to say anything before Blair automatically answered the question.

"Alex." His eyes didn't move from Jim's face.

The other two men inhaled sharply at the name, but Blair, still lost in that semi-dream state, didn't seem to notice as fractured sentences poured out. "She drowned him. In the temple. I saw it. I saw her. She killed him."

Raising his hand, he touched Blair's face. "I'm right here, Chief. Alex didn't kill me. I'm alive."

"She killed him."

Jim grimaced and glanced over his shoulder at Simon. "Go back to bed, Simon. Everything will be okay."

"You sure?" Simon shifted uncertainly. "He doesn't seem all...there."

"He's not." Jim looked downward at the hands that wandered over his shoulders and chest, coming back time and again to rest over his heart. "But he will be. I'll sit up with him for a bit."

"Okay." A hand stretched inward and touched Jim's shoulder momentarily. "Call if you need anything."

"You got it."

The tent was rezipped and the flashlight beam bounced away as Simon returned to his tent. Jim listened long enough to hear Simon resettle into his sleeping bag, then he gave his total attention to his still-not-all-there partner. "Okay, buddy. Step one is for both of us to get comfortable and warm again."

Through a bit of maneuvering, Jim piled duffle bags on top of each other, then sat back against them on one of the sleeping bags before bringing Blair up next to him, the other sleeping bag and the red afghan pulled around both of them for warmth. Blair inched closer, hands still skittering across Jim's torso.

Jim bent his head down to whisper into Blair's ear. "I'm right here, partner. What is it that you need?"

The response surprised him.

"Heartbeat. I need to hear a heartbeat. Alex killed--"

Jim cut him off gently. "No. Alex did not kill me. I'm alive. I'm right here." Using his greater strength against his lost partner, Jim turned him and pulled him into his lap. He cupped one hand against Blair's head and directed it down so that his ear rested against his chest -- over his heart. "Listen, Blair." Rocking slightly, he resituated the blankets, again covering them with warmth. "What do you hear?" When he didn't get an answer, he titled his head to look at his partner's face. "Blair?"

Soft breathing of a deep sleeper was his reply and he smiled. He stayed that way for the 20 minutes, quietly rocking until he was sure Blair was far into sleep. Only then did he slide them both down flat so he could get some sleep before the morning.

~~~~~~~~

Blair shifted in his sleep, one hand curling and uncurling where it lay clenched against his own chest. Only half-awake himself, Jim rubbed his hand down the younger man's back and tilted his head down to whisper into the darkness. "Shh...it's okay. It's all right. I'm right here."

Jim could only wonder about the leftover anxieties from Alex that Blair had parading around inside his head, but he hoped that tonight's exhibition had ended that particular one. He'd had one too many nightmares himself about losing his partner to the fountain, so he understood -- more than he wanted to. He shuddered and held Blair a little closer to his side, reaching over to tuck the red afghan a little more tightly around him.

We survived. We're stronger now. We're okay.

We're alive.

No more nightmares.

- The End -


Author's note: If you haven't had a waking nightmare, don't be anxious to join the club. I've had one -- and it's not something I ever want to repeat. That kind of terror was not fun to experience and I don't think I'd wish it on anybody.