Author's Note:

Well, I was listening to that golden oldies station again... and here's the results. The song was written by Carole King, but I'm not sure who the guy is who was singing the version I heard. It's short, it's sweet, it kills time on slow fanfic days. 'Bye for now.

YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND

by

D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 6-11-98)

VERSE 1

When you're down and troubled
And you need a helping hand
And nothing, oh, nothing is going right.

Blair was having a bad day. Not a typical bad Sandburg day where some creep was stalking/ chasing/imitating/gunning for/[insert own graphic, scared-for-your-life experience here] him, but one of those equally hellish days where everything was wrong from the moment the day began.

He'd stayed up half of the night finishing a paper due at 2:00. Somehow his professors always had papers due at the same time some big criminal decided Cascade looked like a swell town to do business in which meant Jim needed him on the job. Fortunately, this one wasn't as much of a close call and he'd finished with enough time to actually get a few hours sleep. Unfortunately, he never realized how much he depended on Jim's, "Get your ass out of bed, Sandburg," until he awakened much later and discovered he'd slept through the carefully set alarm.

Well, he'd taken a five-minute shower, dressed, grabbed a can of juice and headed out the door. He chose the stairs because they were faster than the elevator but as soon as he reached ground floor he realized it was trash day and it was his responsibility to take it out. If he didn't go back and get it, Jim would know; even if he managed to beat Jim home and toss the bag in the communal dumpster, the Sentinel would know the garbage had remained one day longer than it should have.

With a sigh, Blair trudged back up the stairs and grabbed the plastic bag. On the third stair down, he felt the bottom of the bag giving way and he quickly reacted, scooping the bag up into his arms. However, he forgot about the can of open juice in his other hand. After getting the garbage to the dumpster, he went back up the stairs, took another five minute shower to remove the orange juice and other (ugh) miscellaneous items that had escaped through the hole in the garbage bag, dressed, and finally left for the university.

Because he arrived late, he had to park three blocks from his building which wouldn't have been so awful if he'd known the temperature was thirty degrees cooler than it had been yesterday. He hadn't noticed the chill earlier because of the garbage fiasco and therefore had neither sweater nor jacket to block a very nippy breeze. His class had already started when he got there and of course Dr. Lambert had made some smart remark about his tardiness. Witch. He'd have to 4.0 the class out of spite.

After the class, he heard his stomach growl and remembered he'd worn his juice instead of consuming it. Good thing it was lunch time. Then he found out that when he'd done his quick-change routine out of the garbage soiled clothes, he'd forgotten to exchange the contents of his pockets. No wallet. With a sigh, he dragged himself over to his office and realized with growing bitterness, he had no key.

The fates gave him a break and he was able to find Andria, the department secretary, before she left for lunch and the friendly soul opened his office for him. But the fates wanted payment for their kindness, so when he reached into his backpack for the diskette that had his paper, he saw that instead of his paper he had one of the games he'd downloaded for a friend in the math department. Looking at his watch, Blair saw that he had only fifteen minutes before he was scheduled to teach a class; definitely not enough time to go home and get the right diskette. Damn. He was going to have to waste one of his precious extensions-- on a paper he'd actually finished on time. As if he wouldn't truly need one the next time or the time after that.

Blair wanted to scream. Blair wanted to cry. Instead he did neither and reached for the phone.

Just close your eyes and think of me
And soon I will be there
To brighten up even your darkest night.

"Ellison."

"Hi, Jim." He hadn't even realized he'd made the call until he heard the familiar voice.

"What's up, Chief?"

Blair felt embarrassed. "Nothing, Jim." Except I'm having a crappy day and I wanted someone to bitch to and my fingers dialed your number on their own. "Just wanted to check in. Nothing worth disturbing you over."

"You're not disturbing me. I'm just going over some witness reports. So talk to me, Chief."

And that's what Blair did. He told Jim everything and before he knew it, he had to hang up because it was time for his class. Jim had merely grunted sympathetically here and there and Blair suspected he hadn't really been listening, but that was okay. Just getting it off his chest had helped. He set off to class feeling better than he had all day.

An hour later, he stopped by Andria's office so the secretary could let him in his office again. Instead she handed him his set of keys. "Your hunky detective left them here for you."

As Blair made his way down the hall, he thought about Jim searching through his icky pants for the keys and knew what a sacrifice his roommate had made. Entering his office, he saw Jim had made use of the keys before giving them to Andria. A jacket was draped across the back of his chair. A diskette and a bag which, yes, contained lunch sat on his desk. A post-it note on the bag stated that his wallet was in the locked desk drawer. And the message was signed: Your Blessed Protector.

You just call out my name
And you know wherever I am
I'll come running to see you again.

Winter, spring, summer, or fall,
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, yes I will,
You've got a friend.

VERSE 2

If the sky above you
Grows dark and full of clouds
And that old north wind begins to blow...

The gloom that descended this year was worse than in the past. Why? Jim had no idea. The anniversary of the helicopter crash in Peru was always noted in his mind, but usually it was more of an annoyance rather than a hindrance. But the depression was so strong this time, the pain gnawing at his gut so forceful, that he'd had to tell Simon he wasn't feeling well. He'd taken the afternoon off to... to what? Sit on the balcony and think of the brave men who had given their lives, not for their country, but because they had gotten in someone's way.

He tried to make sense of their deaths and when that didn't work, he tried to make sense of his own survival. Who had decided that he'd take the seat on the helicopter that wasn't damaged in the crash? How had the trees known not to snap his neck like a branch from one of their own? Why had the metal not torn into him, cutting arteries or causing infection? Where had death run off to instead of confronting Jim Ellison?

Had he been the sole survivor because he had to have time to fulfill his Sentinel obligations? Or maybe, fate had been generous because someone needed to be around to remember the men as the fine and capable team they were. Or... or maybe somewhere in his past he had committed some huge sin and his penance had been to watch the men he had handpicked for that mission die one by one...

Just keep your head together
And call my name out loud
Soon I'll be knocking upon your door.

"Jim?" His partner opened the door to the balcony and stood over him as he sat in a chair and stared at nothing. "Simon told me you were sick."

"I'm fine, Blair." He should have known Simon would go running to Blair. Just because every other sick day he'd taken had been because of a hospital stay didn't mean he had to be rushed to one now.

"No, you're not."

Jim looked out at the city and saw the jungle instead. And the sounds in his ears weren't car horns and racing engines, but buzzing insects and cries of the dying. "Do you know what day this is, Chief?"

"Yes." Jim jerked his head around in surprise. "It's alright to mourn them, Jim. If you want to be alone I understand, but if it's okay with you, I'd like to sit here and remember too."

"Remember what, Chief?" He should have known Blair would have the date memorized. Sometimes he knows my life better than I do.

"How much you lost. How much you suffered. How close I came to losing you..."

The shared silence healed Jim's soul and when night finally descended, so did peace.

Hey, ain't it good to know that you've got a friend
When people can be so cold
They'll hurt you and they'll desert you
They'll take your soul if you let them
No, don't you let them.

Winter, spring, summer, or fall
All you got to do is call
And I'll be there, yes I will.
You've got a friend.
You've got a friend.

THE END

Comments? D.L. Witherspoon