Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Repercussion
by Becky
October 1997

Dark shadows had long since fallen across the normally bright blue eyes and solid walls now rose behind them in an attempt to hide and protect soul inside from the horror hovering on the edges, waiting for just the right moment to stampede its entry. Just a little longer, please. Eyes skittering away from the tableau before him, he focused his attention on the ground at his feet, willing himself to hold steady and not to fall over the sharp cliff he stood poised on. He swallowed several times, then finally spoke, unable to make his voice stop shaking as he wrapped his arms more tightly around his body as if keeping himself from breaking into a million pieces.

"I can't do this anymore."

His quiet words sounded loud, even to himself, in the cacophony of noises, bustle, and commotion surrounding him in the large room. And they sounded final. The two men standing near him didn't say anything for a moment, just looked at each other, then back at the him. One of them finally forced out a soft, hesitant question.

"What does that mean?"

"It means .... it means that I can't do this stuff anymore. I mean, it's always been bad, I knew that when I got into this, but this .... this was just too much. I can't ...." The words trailed off in choked horror.

The man who'd asked the question stepped closer to him, reaching out a hand, intending to comfort, to calm. His voice was pitched low, probably hoping to soothe some of the terror he knew was still evident in his eyes. "Maybe some time away ...."

He shook his head sharply, denying that thought insistently, moving away, out of reach, out of touch. "No! You don't understand. I can't ..... Not ever again, not after .... I'm sorry. I ..... I just can't ...." His voice cracked and caught on a sob. He lifted his eyes for a brief moment, meeting the concerned and disturbed blue eyes of his friend, then looked down and away as he felt the dark chasm open up beneath him to swallow him whole.

" I .... I'm sorry."

And then Blair Sandburg ran.

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

Simon looked down at the body of the young woman at the base of the lecturing platform before motioning to the coroner to continue. Deep knife wounds; death within seconds. He shook his head in regret. Why did this guy have to choose a University to hole up in? And why this one? And why this particular teacher and his class? The only consolation was that neither the teacher nor any of other twenty students in the late night class had been hurt seriously and that the murderer was already dead, shot by Ellison when he refused to surrender and threatened another hostage in the classroom with a gun. The perp's two buddies had been taken down shortly thereafter and were in custody outside.

He stepped to the side, watching as his men bagged the evidence scattered throughout the room. A gun. A knife. A long-sleeved plaid overshirt that lay unwanted and bloodied on the floor next the woman's body. Simon remembered it falling from Blair's hand when Jim had pulled him -- shell-shocked and way too quiet -- away from the woman's body. Most likely he'd tried to stop the bleeding, even though that wouldn't have saved her life.

Someone appeared at his side. It was Jim, minus his kevlar vest, looking haggard and worried. After two hours of negotiation with a madman, knowing that your partner was inside, Simon would expect nothing less. And then having that same partner seemingly flip out and disappear from the crime scene before he could even be checked for injuries, well, that probably didn't help.

Jim stared at the young woman's body, a frown on his face as he spoke. "I know her."

Withdrawing the unlit cigar from between his teeth, Simon raised an eyebrow. "And?"

"Her name was Marie. She was one of Blair's students. I met her a few times. He talked about her a lot. Seemed they had a lot in common."

"Damn." Simon didn't have to guess what having someone Blair knew killed in front of him was doing to the kid's psyche. And neither did Jim. They both knew. "Where's the kid now?"

Jim shook himself and straightened as he glanced around. "I don't know. He's not outside or in his office or anywhere else on campus. His car is still here, but one of the uniforms said he saw him take off walking just after he got out the door..... I thought he needed a few moments alone. I didn't expect him to leave. He doesn't even have a jacket with him..... Simon....."

Simon waved him away. "Go. Find him. Take him home. Get him to talk to you. He'll need it."

Jim nodded, already turning to leave. "Thank you, sir."

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

An hour later, Jim parked his truck in front of the loft. Letting the truck idle for a few moments, he laid his head back against the seat, staring at the roof of the cab. He'd searched everywhere -- all of Blair's usual haunts. Nothing. I should never have left him alone like that. What was I thinking? Damnit, where is he? He sighed and turned off the ignition and opened the door. Stepping out into the cold night air, he looked up toward the loft, focusing his hearing, hoping that perhaps his partner had come home.

There was a heartbeat. And it was Blair's heartbeat. He shook his head and muttered, "If you've been here the whole time, Chief, then why didn't you answer the phone? Why'd you make me worry?" He stuffed his hands in his pockets and jogged over to the building and headed upstairs.

The door was unlocked; Jim pushed it open, then closed it quietly behind him, his eyes immediately latching onto his partner standing on the balcony, arms wrapped around his chest. Jim stripped off and hung his jacket, then stood for several moments in the darkened apartment, just watching Blair, listening to his slightly rapid heartbeat and nervous tremors in his mostly still frame. He sighed and rubbed one hand across his forehead. He needed to talk to Blair; he needed to understand what Blair had been trying to say back there.

He can't leave. I won't let him. What would I do without him? ...... Do I have the right to stop him? Do I have the words to stop him?

As he walked across the living room, flipping on a small table lamp as he went, Jim searched for words. What do I say to him? What does he need to hear? He stopped behind Blair, just a few feet away. He reached out one hand, intending to lay it on Blair's shoulder to let him know he was there. Blair stiffened and moved away even before Jim touched him. He blinked, then swallowed as he lowered his hand to his side. "Blair?"

Blair's voice was quiet. "Is everyone else okay?"

"What? Oh, yeah, they are. Simon arranged for them to be taken to the hospital to get checked, then driven home. Are you --?"

Blair interrupted. "Good, good, that's good."

Jim tried again. "Blair, are you okay? Are you .... hurt or anything?"

"Hurt?" Blair laughed once, a sharp, brittle, empty laugh that sent a chill through the air.

"Chief ....?" Jim frowned, getting more worried by the second. Something was definitely wrong here. He just saw someone he knew get murdered. Of course, something is wrong, Ellison!

Blair shook his head. "No, Jim, I'm fine. I'm not hurt, not .... like that."

Jim was silent, not knowing what to say next, wishing Blair would say something, anything, instead of just standing there like a statue, staring blankly out into the night sky. Jim watched as a shiver went through Blair's body. He didn't have a jacket on, he didn't even have a sweater, just a dark t-shirt and his jeans. His eyes dropped further; he wasn't even wearing shoes. He had to be freezing, but he didn't make any move to come inside. Finally, Jim spoke again.

"You're thinking about leaving, aren't you?"

Blair shrugged. "I guess, I don't know." He shifted his gaze to the balcony floor, covering one foot with the other. "I don't know anything anymore."

Jim reached out again. When Blair didn't flinch away, Jim grasped his shoulder and tugged him back through the doors. "Come inside, Blair, it's cold out there. I thought you hated being cold."

Blair let Jim pull him in and stood aside while Jim closed and locked the doors. "I thought it would help."

Jim paused, looking over at Blair who was still not meeting his eyes. He knew what Blair was trying to say for once. Letting the cold freeze out turbulent emotions that refused to be controlled was something Jim had done in the past and still did now on occasion. He never would have suspected Blair of knowing that particular tactic. He asked, "Did it?"

Blair lifted his head for half a second, meeting Jim's eyes, then he turned and walked away. "No, it didn't."

Jim watched him walk around the kitchen island and pick up the teapot. He held it for a moment, then placed it back on the stove, keeping his head and eyes down. Jim's heart ached for his young friend. He could almost sense the distress, anger, and residual fear filling up the apartment. Stepping toward the kitchen, he lowered his voice to what he hoped was a comforting level. "Blair, talk to me." Blair looked up slightly, his face cast mostly in shadow. But Jim's eyes cut through everything; he could see the despair written all over Blair's face. He swallowed and went on. "Let me help you."

Blair shook his head, letting his loose curls cover his face again. "There's nothing you can do, Jim. It's all been done." Quiet, calm, resigned. Those were the words Jim would use to describe Blair right now. None of the buoyant energy that he normally displayed. He was .... removed, alone, withdrawn, apart. Like he was ready to end everything they'd worked on together, everything that they had as a team and best friends. No. I won't believe that. I can't accept that. His anger came out before he could stop it.

"Damnit, Sandburg, I won't let you do this! I won't let you leave!"

Blair's head went up in a flash. His dark blue eyes widened in shock. "Jim --"

"No! I'm not going to lose you to this. You're too important to me."

Blair blinked, but only said calmly, too calmly, "You don't understand, Jim. I can't stay. I can't go back to the station and just go on with life. And if I can't be your partner on the job, I can't effectively help you. And if I can't do that, then there's no reason for me to be here."

Jim strode quickly around the kitchen island and took hold of Blair by both his arms before he could react. Blair tried to pull away, but Jim held on, determined that Blair would have to stay and not retreat into his room or anywhere else. Failing physical withdrawal, Blair ducked his head, evading eye contact, focusing instead on the buttons on Jim's shirt. Jim managed to keep away a growl of semi-annoyance at Blair's escape tactics. That wouldn't help either of them right now.

"Listen to me, Blair. I'm sorry. I'm sorry Marie is dead. I know you were friends. And I'm sorry that you had to see it, that you were there." He hesitated, then continued. "I always ..... I always knew that someday, something like this might happen."

Blair snorted. "What? That your wannabe cop partner would run in terror from a crime scene?"

Jim shook his head, continuing gently. "No, that one day my better-than-a-cop friend and partner would see too much, be exposed to too much. You're an anthropologist, Chief, not a cop. You're not trained for this stuff; it makes sense you don't want to see it; hell, I don't want to see it. Your reaction was normal."

"Normal for who?"

"Normal for anyone who had just seen someone they knew killed right in front of them."

Blair flinched and Jim felt him shudder. The reaction was setting in. Jim could feel it coming. Freezing it out would never be an option for Blair, no matter what Jim had said before about checking your emotions at the door. While Jim could do that most of the time, Blair couldn't. Oh, he could ignore it for a little while, but never for very long. Blair just wasn't like that. And Jim hoped he never would be. Sensing that Blair wouldn't try to run, Jim released one of his arms and raised his free hand to Blair's face, pushing back the long curls and resting his hand on the back of Blair's neck. He stepped back slightly and ducked his head to try to meet Blair's eyes -- they were closed.

"Blair? C'mon, look at me, buddy."

Blair inhaled shakily and opened his eyes after another moment to meet Jim's. Jim implored, holding those eyes intently. "Talk to me. You can't just shove this all down. It'll only hurt you more. Blair, please."

His partner just stared at him, then whispered, "I need time, Jim. I can't .... I can't go back. Not tomorrow, not next week, maybe .... maybe not ever. I don't know." He stopped to swallow, then went on, his voice gaining volume, but losing steadiness. "It was too much. It still is. He .... he killed her, stabbed her, then threw her at me. She died in my arms. I couldn't help her; she was my student, my best student; she begged me to help her. I tried, Jim, I really tried. But it wasn't enough. Her blood is on my hands. It's my fault. I've been working with you and the cops for over two years. I should have been able to stop him, to control the situation. I should have been able to do something more, anything. But I couldn't. She died because of me, Jim, because --"

Jim stopped the rambling self-hating words streaming from his partner. "No, Blair, it wasn't your fault. It was his fault. Only his fault. You have to believe that. I know what happened. Simon told me what the witnesses said. You couldn't have done anything different. It was too fast."

Bitterness crept into Blair's voice. "There should have been something, anything .... I let her die."

Jim gripped Blair's shoulders tightly, shaking him once. "Yes, Chief, she died. But you didn't let her. Not even a doctor could have saved her. It was too quick, too much blood loss." Blair shook his head, but didn't try to say anything, just closed his eyes and looked away. Jim massaged Blair's shoulders, whispering, "Just let it go, Blair. Let it go."

Silent tears began to wind their way down Blair's cheeks as his body shook. Jim drew him forward, wrapping both arms around him, one hand on Blair's back, the other on his neck, soft curls entwining themselves with his fingers as he pressed Blair's face into his shirt. He rocked slightly, murmuring softly, "That's it. Let it go."

At first, Blair remained passive in the embrace, accepting Jim's comfort without comment, but then slowly settled further into Jim's arms, surrendering himself into the solace of the older man's arms. Jim pulled him tighter in, turning to lean his back against the counter as he supported Blair's full weight. He lowered his face to lay his cheek on Blair's head, whispering as he closed his own eyes, feeling the wetness of tears soaking through his shirt.

"I know it hurts, Blair, I know. I'm sorry."

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

Another hour later, after some quiet talking on the couch, Jim stood at the door to Blair's room, watching silently as Blair shifted to get comfortable in his bed. Blair finally looked up at him, eyebrow raised in curiosity. "You gonna stand there all night, Jim?"

Jim's answer was quiet and serious, even as a small smile appeared on his face. "If you need me to."

Blair blinked, then shook his head. "No, that's all right. I'll be okay."

Jim pushed away from the door jamb. "Okay. But you if need me ...."

Blair nodded, saying softly, "I know." Jim turned to leave, but Blair spoke up again. "Jim, I --" He looked down, picking at the blanket, then back up. "Thank you. For understanding."

"You're welcome. You take all the time you need, Blair. All the time you need to process this." He stepped back into the room and sat on the edge of Blair's bed. He looked down into Blair's eyes, then laid a hand on his shoulder. "But I can't let you go. Understand? Maybe that's selfish of me, but it's the way I feel." He hesitated, then tried to continue, his voice faltering, "I --"

Blair reached across and placed his hand on Jim's, squeezing it warmly. "I know. Thanks for that too."

Jim smiled again, feeling relief at Blair's acceptance of his need to have Blair there, to not let him go. He released Blair's shoulder and rose to his feet. "Go to sleep, Blair. I'll see you in the morning."

"Yeah. Night, Jim."

"Night, Chief."

Jim closed the door to Blair's room, but paused before heading for the stairs. It had been a long day and even a longer night. But they were okay now. Jim could sense that and he smiled. Everything was going to be all right.

- The End -