Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Summary: A trio of missing scenes connected by a single quote. Spoilers for Love Kills (epilogue scene to my previous story Mourning the Loss), S2P2, Cypher, and Murder 101.

Notes: Pre-TSbyBS and a general SMARM warning.
Extra disclaimer: The originator of the quote I used is unknown.

Since I'm never going to finish what I was planning to do with these three scenes, I decided just to put them into one fic and rework them just a bit. The first two parts were originally posted on the SentinelAngst list (a long time ago), though I've rewritten the first one a little since then.

Beta'ed as always by the wonderful Dr. Robyn.

Pillars
by Becky
April 2000

~~~~~~~~~~
The friends in your life are like the pillars on your porches.
Sometimes you lean on them...
~~~~~~~~~~

Warmth and light in the wrong places teased him awake that next morning. Lifting a hand to rub sleep from his still-closed eyes, Blair took a mental inventory, trying to figure out why things felt so wrong. I'm in bed, albeit an unfamiliar one. It's morning. I'm exhausted. What time is it? A better question is where am I? Forcing one eye open, he squinted in the direction he thought his clock should be -- and found himself looking at Jim's dresser across from him. Huh? He opened the other eye and blinked a few times, but the dresser remained. What--? Memory suddenly returned in a rush.

Lila dying. Jim mourning. Holding his partner as he cried and eventually fell asleep.

Oh.

Abruptly, he became aware of a heavier weight and a slow, deep breathing behind him that could only belong to Jim. Carefully, not wanting to wake the older man, Blair shifted until he could sit up, grateful the springs on Jim's bed didn't squeak. Turning just a little, he watched Jim. Curled on his side facing Blair, face relaxed, hair mussed, gray robe still covering his t-shirt and boxers, one hand tucked under his chin, the other lying half-curled next to his chest, he looked so much younger. And more vulnerable.

The slumbering man murmured and shifted on the bed, somehow aware of the eyes watching him. A strand of hair fell across his forehead and Blair automatically reached out to smooth back the misplaced hair, keeping his touch light. Sighing softly, Jim relaxed again, the touch gentling and calming him.

Resting his hand on Jim's shoulder, Blair smiled and shook his head slightly, somewhat awed by the knowledge that his touch alone could soothe the sometimes unreachable detective. Not like our positions haven't been reversed in the past. He's done the same for me many times.

Jim's hand curled next to his chest twitched and a small frown line developed on his forehead. Sliding his hand down Jim's arm, Blair closed his hand over Jim's, stroking his thumb over Jim's fingers. Again, he settled back into sleep, indicating to Blair that his partner had no plans for waking up right then. That's okay. Simon'll know we're okay. Heck, he'll be glad Jim's not coming in as he's been recently.

The last few days, dealing with Lila's death, had been rough on him and Jim. Jim had been doing his typical stoic act, and Blair had been lost for what he could do to help his friend cope. Until last night. Last night, he'd finally broken. And cried. Blair, already awake and worrying about his friend, had gone to him, held him and rocked him. Comforted him. Helped him to grieve. Let him know that he had to grieve to move on. To heal. It had been a little different being in the position of giving comfort, but it was one he was very willing to take if he could help Jim.

Shifting his gaze, Blair stared vacantly out towards the windows of the loft, watching as the sky lightened. He kept up the soft rubbing of his thumb over Jim's hand, somehow realizing Jim needed the connection. I just hope... The thought died and he sighed. A yawn overtook him and he raised the other hand to cover his mouth, then rubbed that hand over his face, pushing away the encroaching sleepiness.

"Hey."

The voice was scratchy, low, and heavy with sleep and residual tears. Snapping back to full wakefulness, Blair turned to see Jim watching him from half-shuttered lids.

"Morning," he replied. Blair shifted and removed his hand from Jim's as his friend pushed himself up to a sitting position, moving slowly to accommodate the pull of the gray robe he wore. For several moments, Jim contented himself with rubbing his eyes with the heels of his hands. Then, he slowly lowered his hands to his lap and looked almost shyly at Blair.

"I..." He hesitated, then swallowed as a light pink blush spread across his cheekbones. "Thanks, Chief."

Poor guy's embarrassed. Blair laid a gentle hand on Jim's nearest leg. "You okay?"

Jim took a breath, then nodded. "Yeah. I am." He shrugged, lifting a hand to pinch the bridge of his nose. "I think so. I guess. Lila--" He breathed out in a rush, shaking his head. "I don't know."

Smiling ever so slightly, Blair rubbed his thumb over Jim's leg though the comforter. "I understand."

"Do you?" A small bit of aggression entered Jim's tone as he lowered his hand to stare at him across the bare space separating them.

"Yes, I do. And it'll get better. I promise." Blair kept his eyes steady on Jim, not flinching at the calculating blue gaze. Jim blinked once, and his gaze changed to same lost look Blair had seen last night. He flowed with it, reaching out a hand to rest on Jim's shoulder, gripping it. Last night's breakdown had obviously left the normally stoic and strong man Blair knew off-balance and struggling to find control over the emotions that still raged within him. Jim met his eyes and Blair tried to communicate with his own eyes what he couldn't say in words.

I'm here every step of the way, Jim, every step. At your side, at your back, sometimes even walking in front of you. Every step.

Jim took a deep but shaky breath, then let it out again in a rush. He rested his hand over Blair's and squeezed warmly as a quiet smile formed on his face -- a smile that answered the unspoken words.

I know.

~~~~~~~~~~
...sometimes you brace them up...
~~~~~~~~~~

"You're doing it again, aren't you?"

Dragging his attention away from his seat mate, Jim glanced to his other side where his captain sat across the aisle of the small darkened plane. He could see Megan's long curled hair just beyond Simon where she rested against the window, a blanket pulled around her shoulders to fend off the too-cool air conditioning. Keeping his voice low and quiet in deference to the other sleeping passengers around them on the red eye flight back to Cascade, he asked, "Doing what?"

"Watching him sleep." Simon's reply was just as quiet. "Watching him breathe. Listening to him."

Momentarily lost for an answer, his eyes returned to the sleeping form of his partner. Only Sandburg could find a way to get comfortable in these airline seats. Both arms wrapped loosely around the backpack to keep it in his lap, Blair had curled to one side, facing him, face half-buried in the pillow wedged between the two seats, an airline blanket draped over his shoulders. He could hear the slight wheeze of air as it passed from between his lips, could both hear and feel his heartbeat echoing in tune with each breath, could feel the warmth of his body touching him. To think I almost lost the chance.... He reached over and carefully tugged the blanket up, unnecessarily tucking it closer around Blair's shoulders.

Turning back to his boss, Jim shrugged, a smile on his face in the darkness. "Yeah, I'm doing it again, Simon."

Simon shook his head, and Jim dialed up his sight to see his captain close his eyes and shift downwards a little in his seat, trying to find a comfortable position. "Just remember that we won and Alex lost. He's not going anywhere."

"Yes, sir." Jim debated adding a suggestion that Simon get some rest, but then noticed that the captain had beat him to it, his breathing already evening out into sleep. He smiled and settled back into his seat, tilting his head toward Blair, his eyes shuttering halfway closed.

I suspect I'll be keeping close tabs on you for a while, buddy. Hope you don't mind. With their adventures in Mexico over and a catatonic Alex Barnes in custody, the four of them were returning to what hopefully would be at least a quiet few weeks in Cascade. He snorted softly. Cascade? Quiet? Not likely.

His attention snapped back to Blair when the younger man moaned and murmured under his breath, hands clutching at the backpack. Mumbled words slipped out and Jim shifted closer to hear them, his hand already reaching for Blair's arm.

"...no...no...Alex...no...can't be me...no...Jim...no..."

Jim swallowed, hearing enough to know Blair's demons were ganging up on him at once. Sitting forward and turning so he could see Blair easier, he grasped Blair's shoulder, shaking him slightly. "Blair, you're dreaming. Come on, wake up for me, Chief. You're okay." He moved his hand up to Blair's face, patting his cheek lightly. "Wake up, buddy, it's just a dream. You're safe. I'm here."

Blair, however, didn't wake up, just continued to stir restlessly, muscles twitching as he tried to escape his dreams. The exhaustion had finally caught up and refused to release him back to the waking world. Leaving his hand on Blair's cheek, Jim paused a moment, deciding what to do.

He needs to feel safe again, Ellison.

Within moments, Jim had the arm between the seats pushed up and Blair's backpack on the ground. Carefully holding the still-dreaming Blair upright, Jim snagged the younger man's pillow and shoved it behind his own back for cushioning against the outside chair arm. Then, sitting semi-sideways, he pulled Blair over to him, folding the twitching arms under his against Blair's chest, pillowing Blair's head on his shoulder. He'd have to wake him before they landed to get his seatbelt on, and Jim had a feeling his own muscles wouldn't be happy with him come morning, but...

Once as comfortable as he was going to get, the blanket still covering Blair up to his shoulders, Jim tilted his head downward and whispered quietly in his friend's ear, "I'm here, Blair. You're okay. You're safe. They can't hurt you. Not anymore. Just sleep. Rest."

He kept up the quiet whispers, stroking one hand over Blair's arm through the thin blanket, until Blair finally settled and drifted back into a dreamless, heavy sleep. Jim shifted a bit, then relaxed, resting his head against the seat. From the time Blair and Megan had arrived in Sierra Verde until the moment they stepped on the plane for the return trip, things had just happened hard and fast, leaving no one, least of all Blair, a chance to catch up with themselves or even to realize just how much they were pushing themselves.

I know he's still hurting from the CPR -- among other things -- but he doesn't want to admit it. Didn't want anything to slow us down, to give me reason to send him back. He looked down at the curly hair under his chin, whispering to the sleeping man. "Like I could have convinced you to stay away, Chief. You're stronger than me on that approach. 'Stay in the truck' lost meaning a long time ago." Closing his eyes, he tightened his hold just a bit, lowering his face to rest his cheek on Blair's head. His voice dropped to near inaudible.

"Now there's only 'stay with me'."

~~~~~~~~~~
...and sometimes it's enough just to know they're standing by.
~~~~~~~~~~

Edging past a few students exiting the lecture hall, Jim slipped quietly inside the lecture hall. At the front of the room, a crowd of young people gathered around the podium. Voices rose and fell in questions and comments. Jim knew somewhere within that group stood the teacher, hidden among the taller students. A moment later, the voices quieted long enough for him to hear said teacher's voice. Laughter followed his comments, ringing out into the room. Chuckling himself, Jim crossed his arms over his chest as he leaned against a desk in the front row.

Guess this means I get to wait for a bit. He shifted and withheld a grin as one of the students glanced back at him, then dismissed his presence and continued to listen to Blair rhapsodizing. Wonder what they would think if they knew just a few days ago Sandburg was hanging from a helicopter and jumping into the bay after Ventriss. Sandburg the Mighty Professor catching bad guys.

Blair's laugh rung out again, echoed by the students. Jim shook his head, amused. Obviously someone's in fine form today.

Another bell rang in the halls and several students began filtering out of the doors. Others remained, shuffling through books and papers, asking their own questions. As the crowd surrounding his partner thinned, Jim was finally able see him. Or at least parts of him.

One hand moved in the air as he talked, the other hand pointed at the chalkboard illustrations. Nodding patiently at questions, the desire to help and to teach was written on his face. Eyes brightened with excitement and pleasure as a confused student finally understood something Jim didn't want to try to figure out. The air about him just crackled with life and vibrancy.

Jim smiled, deciding that waiting maybe wasn't such a bad thing after all.

~~~~~~~~~~

Ten minutes after class had ended, Blair paused to take a breath in the middle of explaining one of his lecture points, looking for a piece of chalk to write something on the chalkboard.

"Uh, Professor Sandburg? There's a guy..." the student trailed off, pointing behind him.

With one hand resting on the chalk tray, Blair turned, peering around another student, then grinning when he saw Jim sitting at one of the desks. "Oh, hey, Jim. I'll just be a few more minutes." He turned back to helping the student, barely hearing, but definitely registering, Jim's quiet answer.

"No rush, Chief. I'm not going anywhere."

- The End -