Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Warmth
by Becky and Robyn
July 1998

Dark blue eyes staring at the tent wall, Blair listened to the steady patter of rain drops on the small two-man tent's roof -- waterproof roof, he hoped. He scrunched down further in his down sleeping bag, trying desperately to get warm, to stop shivering, but the frigid night air seemed to seep right through the fabric and insulation, right through his sweats and t-shirt and two pairs of socks, right to his skin.

The Cascade weatherman was wrong again, he thought ruefully as he continued to shiver. I have got to stop shivering, or Jim might ...

Jim.

Blair rolled over in his sleeping bag to face his partner's sleeping form a few inches away from him, peeking over the edge with his eyes and still keeping the tip of his nose covered by the bag. The tent was pitch-black with no help from the cloud-covered midnight sky above, and Blair could not make out his friend's features, even with his eyes fully adjusted to the dark.

Jim, that heat-producing, cold-extinguishing big guy, he thought a little jealously, but mostly fondly. For a moment, Blair wished that he could stealthily scoot closer to the only thing in the whole tent which was warm. But even his best effort would surely wake Jim Ellison, former Army Ranger and Sentinel, someone who could detect another person's movements and intentions subconsciously almost before they came to fruition. How badly he wanted to reach out and touch the one who served as a source of warmth not only for the body, but for his soul.

Vainly, the freezing anthropologist thought of the roaring campfire whose coals had been extinguished an hour ago, the hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows they'd shared when the campsite was still dry. Blair liked few things better than sitting cozily next to Jim in front of a fire in the middle of the forest, the flames and sparks dancing in the night air, illuminating their faces and warming their hearts -- enjoying jokes, stories, feelings, enjoying ... each other.

Just then a blast of cold wind shook the tent a little. Blair instinctively buried himself, face and all, deep inside his sleeping bag, trying to get away from the unpleasant iciness which rudely bit his face.

J-jim, Blair thought again, shivering even in his thoughts. He gritted his teeth to keep them from chattering. I w-wish ... to be w-warm ...

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

The sleeping man shifted under the warmth covering him, moving his head on the pillow as he turned onto his side. Sighing out in relaxation, he fell rapidly back toward the heavy sleep calling to him. Another moment, and he would rejoin the dreams waiting for him just beyond the edges of the real world.

Something made him pause, made him want to look back.

Frowning, the man resisted, but still the pull to return to wakefulness echoed, whispering to him, niggling at him. Something wasn't right. Something felt wrong. In his sleep, he stretched out his senses, reaching for understanding, for knowledge, for his Guide ....

Jim's eyes flew open as his hand left the confines of the down-filled sleeping bag. The frigid air bit into his skin with a physical touch, chilling him immediately. He blinked, glancing around the small two-man tent. Reaching inward, he grasped that infamous temperature dial and notched it down a few points, not wanting to feel the cold leaching the heat away from him.

A noise got his attention. A noise he wasn't quite familiar with and yet was at the same time. Looking to his side, where his guide lay just a few feet away, he let his eyesight widen to accommodate the pitch black of the night. He couldn't see any sign of the younger man, but the familiar heartbeat rang in his ears, so the Sentinel knew he was there, just buried somewhere inside the bag. Probably trying to keep warm. Man, when did it get so cold out here? It wasn't supposed to be this cold this weekend. Eyes still on Blair's form, he frowned.

Blair's bag was moving. Or more properly, it vibrated. And shuddered. And shivered.

Damn, even with the sweats, he must be freezing his tail off. No wonder I woke up. Probably heard him shivering. Remembering the vague niggling worry that had poked him awake, he frowned. Or something like that. Whatever. It's not the important thing here.

Shifting and stretching out a hand, Jim snagged the closest edge of Blair's bag and slowly dragged it toward him. A flurry of movement inside told him Blair had either been awake or had woke up with Jim's action. "Wha...?"

"Chief, it's okay. It's just me."

A startled, but mostly, sleep-fogged voice, muffled by the down, spoke around chattering teeth. "Jim? What are you doing, man? You scared me."

"Sorry. You sounded cold." After getting Blair settled next to him, Jim took a breath, then yanked down the zipper of his bag, moving quickly, not wanting to let too much of his own body heat disappear.

Blair peered out of the top of the bag, keeping his nose underneath. "Cold? Whatever gave you that idea? Jim, what are you doing?"

Jim reached for the zipper of Blair's bag. "Working on a way to get you warm." He paused. "Unless you'd rather shiver the rest of the night."

Blair shook his head. "No, that wouldn't be something I'd enjoy. What do you have --?"

Jim yanked down the zipper to Blair's bag, wincing at Blair's response -- a half-stifled shriek in response to the flood of frigid air that surrounded his already cold form.

"JIM! This is not what I call getting warm!" He curled back against the opposite side of the bag, arms clutched to his chest, knees half-pulled up.

Moving as fast as he could, Jim zippered his bag to Blair's, using his night vision to avoid fabric snags and Blair's loose hair at the top. Definitely not something he would enjoy!

"Just one more second...." A final zip, then Jim laid back down. "There, this should help. Come here." He reached out a hand and grasped Blair's arm to lead him to the warmer side of the double bag.

"What did you do?" One of his hands reached tentatively out to touch where the zipper should be. Jim watched with some amusement as Blair's currently blind eyes blinked in his direction. "The bags?"

"Zippered together. I figured we'd be warmer that way." He tugged at Blair's arm. "You do want to get warm, right?"

"What? Oh, yeah, I do. But you don't have to--"

Jim squeezed Blair's arm, shaking his head in the dark, even while knowing Blair couldn't see him. "No, I don't. But you'll be warmer this way and we can both go back to sleep." He tugged again, adding in a gentle tone, "Come here, Chief."

Finally, after another moment of hesitation, Blair crawled over slightly to Jim's side. Jim pursed his lips, then carefully used both hands to turn Blair away from him, fitting Blair's back against his chest. As Blair relaxed back against him, Jim could feel the shivers and shudders that racked the smaller man's frame. Wrapping an arm down over Blair's chest, he pulled his Guide closer to him, tucking the edges of the bag around them to form a cocoon of heat.

Blair sighed, using Jim's other arm as a pillow.

"Better?"

Nodding slightly, Blair replied in a soft voice, "Yeah, much better. Still a little cold, but I'm getting warmer." He paused, then added in a whisper, "Thanks."

Jim leaned his head forward, lips nearly touching Blair's ear. "You're welcome." He stroked Blair's arm under his hand, concentrating on getting his friend warm enough to sleep again.

Blair's breathing evened out, the shivers slowly tapering off, then stopping altogether. The younger man's voice, when it came, surprised Jim.

"How did you know?"

"Know what? I thought you'd gone to sleep."

Blair shifted, turning around under Jim's arm to face him. "No, not yet. The cold woke me up. It'll take a few more minutes before I'm sleepy again." He repeated his question, clarifying it, placing a hand on Jim's t-shirt-covered chest. "How did you know I was cold? Weren't you asleep too? I know the cold doesn't bother you as much, so why'd you wake up?"

Jim shrugged. "I don't know. Something just didn't feel ... right, I guess. Something told me I had to wake up." He absently rubbed his hand on Blair's back, pulling the sides of the sleeping bag back in to keep the new warmth with them, instead of disappearing into the coldness just outside.

In the darkness, Blair stared up at him, wide eyes contemplative. Slowly, he smiled.

"And why are you smiling?" Jim asked, amusement playing at the edges of his lips. Or do I really want to know?"

"No reason really. Just ... just that, well, it feels good to have someone, a friend and a partner, who cares about me so much."

Stilling his hand, Jim stared down into the dark blue eyes that he knew couldn't see him, but that still looked up at him with so much trust, so much friendship, so much caring, so much ... love. Slowly he started moving his hand on Blair's back again, drawing the smaller man closer to him.

"Hmm. Just don't let it go to your head, Chief." He closed both arms around him, hugging him a little awkwardly, then releasing him so both of them could get comfortable.

Just before he let the long-awaited sleep retake him, Blair's voice came softly, so softly that he barely heard it.

"No, it stays in my heart. Where it's always been."

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

Blair felt the cold begin to disappear, nudged, edged, chased away by the warmth from his partner's body close to his. Finally allowing himself to relax enough, Blair let himself snuggle more closely to his partner's chest, their shirts pressing together, their heartbeats almost synchronizing in a perfectly harmonic rhythm. He could feel Jim's warm breath on his head, his partner's chin touching the top of his hair. In a few minutes, Blair felt himself drifting off to sleep. It was hard to say which was warmer -- his body or his soul.

- The End -