Post-TSbyBS and post-chat with The Sentinel's creators. It's a music one, so you know it's short. :-)
Bridge Over Troubled Water is by Simon and Garfunkel.
Inferno is being stubborn, but is progressing. You should see it in the next few weeks.
Hope you enjoy!
When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all.
I'm on your side, oh, when times get rough,
And friends just can't be found.
He sat in his car and watched them. They were the usual eclectic mixture of bold and shy; loners, pairs, and groups; those who kissed their parents goodbye, and those who barely noticed as the familiar car drove away. Freshmen. Rainier University's Class of 2003.
Every other year at this time, he would have been out there with them, volunteering his time to help them move in, making them feel a little less alien in this new world they had entered. In the days following, he would've commandeered a bench in the college green, where he would spend hours answering questions-- where is this building, do I have to take Class A before Class B, and what was the best cineplex within walking distance of the campus? It was a tradition he'd started his sophomore year. Back on campus before most of the returning students, he'd wanted to feel useful, so he'd become like an unofficial greeter. A couple of students had told him that their older siblings had told them to look for him, if they got lost or just felt lost. That had secretly delighted him.
But the tradition was over. Not because he was a professor and no longer had the time since he'd have his own personal group of advisees to worry about. Not because he was Dr. Blair Sandburg, and wouldn't get back from his latest anthropological expedition in time for Orientation. No, the tradition was over because he no longer belonged. The university had kicked him out. In their opinion, he was a fraud. He'd made up a phony dissertation and had been caught-- no, he'd confessed before he was caught. Quite frankly, he wasn't sure which had been the greater transgression-- writing the dissertation, or denouncing it in front of a television audience.
So now, he was a silent spectator, an observer where he had once been a participant, and riding a thin line as a trespasser on the campus he had so lovingly memorized. Hell, if he thought about it long enough, he could probably count the number of steps from Hargrove Hall to the cafeteria. One, two....
As a testament to his misery, he didn't even flinch as the passenger's door opened, and a tall form lowered itself into the seat next to him. The door closed, but the figure remained silent.
"You think I'm crazy, don't you? I know I don't belong here anymore...maybe I haven't belonged for a while now. I hated the politics that let bastards like Brad Ventriss cheat and rape and murder because of his father's money. I hated the administration that wanted to punish me because I thought helping you catch a criminal was more important than attending a department meeting. But I never hated the place, the university, the life that abounds here. I still don't.
"Some of those kids could have been my students, Jim. See the blonde over there. I can see her sitting in the front row of the lecture hall, scribbling notes and laughing at my jokes. And that guy over there-- he'd probably give me a hard time about what really happened to the Anasazi. Too much X-File watching. I'm sorry I won't be there to hear the current conspiracy theories." He laughed, then angrily brushed away the single tear that escaped when the laugh ended as a near-sob.
"Yes, I gave this up of my own free will, and if I had it to do over again, I'd do it the exact same way. I have no regrets over my decision, Jim. But I can be sad for just a little while, can't I?" he pleaded, seeking permission for the feelings he already had.
Jim's voice was slightly husky when he replied, "You can be sad for as long as you want, Chief."
"You think this is silly, don't you?"
"I think you feel that this is your watch, Blair, and I'm just here to keep it with you for a while, if you don't mind?"
"Because that's what a partner does."
Blair flicked his eyes over to Jim and saw the warmth and understanding in the piercing blue eyes. With a lightened heart, he continued his silent watch-- he and his partner.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down,
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
When you're down and out; when you're on the streets,
When evening falls so hard, I will comfort you.
I'll take your part, oh, when darkness comes.
And pain is all around.
Jim walked the streets of Cascade, lost in thought so deeply that he didn't notice the thinning crowds, nor the approaching darkness, until it descended upon him. It had been such a shock seeing her again. After all the years of wondering and hating.... She had appeared without warning, and although it had been nearly thirty years, he'd known who she was immediately-- had known her scent, her stance beside his desk as she waited for him, her voice as she explained her presence.
Damn Steven for being out of town. The one time he needed his brother.... No, that was unfair, wasn't it? But, God, this would have been so much more-- tolerable, if Steven would have been around. Because maybe then, he could have concentrated on what his baby brother was feeling, instead of what this was doing to him, the big strong cop, who was feeling as abandoned now as he had all those years ago. His mother. Strolling into his life with the same shocking suddenness with which she'd walked out of it. She had left to get away from William Ellison's control. She'd come back under another's control-- cancer. No, she hadn't come offering apologies or looking for absolution. She merely wanted a memory to take with her to the facility where she would spend whatever remained of her life. She didn't want visits or phone calls; she had rejected both while she was healthy, and she refused to be an invalid and a hypocrite.
She had expressed some disappointment at not seeing her youngest son, but she took her eldest's word for it that his brother was well and reasonably happy. Jim assured her he was also reasonably happy, and introduced her to his partner, who had begged off when asked to join them for lunch. A quick explanation to Simon had freed up the rest of the afternoon, so they had done the lunch thing, the small talk thing, and finally, the walk in the park thing, where he remembered that it was not just William Ellison who was a master of emotional control. Then, she had pulled out a cell phone, given an order, and a car had come for her. She had gotten in, then disappeared from his life for probably the final time.
He'd gone to the loft after that, but it felt confining, too small to contain everything flowing and bubbling inside him. So, he'd gone for a walk-- and now it was night. Blair would be worried. He headed back, dreading the questions he knew his partner had waiting for him-- questions which, after all these years, still had no answers...and now, never would. Sighing deeply, he let himself into the loft. But it had changed. Instead of the tiny space he'd left, he found home. The tantalizing smell of dinner wafted toward him. Soothing music swirled around him. And a roommate looked around with a welcoming smile.
"She came to tell me she was dying," Jim said bleakly, hoping that would be enough of an explanation, because he doubted his ability to string any more words together.
Blair never opened his mouth. He merely put down the spoon he'd been cooking with, wiped his hands on a nearby towel, took the few steps across the room, and put his arms around his best friend.
Grief shared-- grief halved.
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down,
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will lay me down.
Sail on, silver girl, sail on by.
Your time has come to shine; all your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine, oh, and if you need a friend,
I'm sailing right behind.
One minute, twenty seconds left on the clock. The Cascade P.D. was down seventeen to twenty-one in the Annual Charity Football Game against the Cascade Fire Department. Half the crowd was cheering loudly, the other half was grumbling bitterly. The police were used to winning; eight out of the past nine years. Jim Ellison was a hell of a quarterback. But, oh yeah, Anderson was the quarterback this year, because the uniforms were upset about Ellison's partner. The little liar had gone to the academy, then straight to detective rank. It wasn't right, so when it came time to vote for quarterback, Anderson had won hands down. And to add insult to injury, Ellison had taken it in stride. But then, he'd been taking everything in stride since his personal boytoy had become official. He was still hell on criminals, but around the office you were more likely to see him smiling, instead of glaring.
In fact, he'd just given them that same smile as the team took a timeout, set Anderson on the sideline, and asked Jim to quarterback the last play. He gathered his partner with a subtle motion of his head, and without a word, another player came off the field, keeping the P.D.'s number to eleven.
Jim's orders were short. "Chief, go deep. I'll find you." To the others, he merely shrugged and broke the huddle.
Some wondered if he was going to punish the department for what they'd done out of their spite. The ones who knew the man were just worried they'd waited too long to come to their senses. If they lost the game, then it was not Ellison's fault, nor his partner's. But that didn't mean it was going to hurt any less when they had to give up the loving cup, which had been proudly displayed on police premises for nearly a decade. Ah, pride is a hard thing to swallow.
The whistle blew. Some struggled to protect Ellison; others drew the opposition away from Sandburg. The former anthropologist ran down the field. Jim had told him neither left nor right, but it didn't matter, because he knew wherever he was, Jim would make sure the ball found him. He crossed into the end zone, turned, and the ball fell into his arms. Then his team fell on him. His back was whumped, his head patted, his butt pinched-- who was that?-- and he was carried off the field on the shoulders of the men who had shunned and resented him.
"How long do you think this will last?" Simon asked, coming up behind Jim, who was staring at the antics of the rest of his team.
"Long enough. He's a fast worker. And damn well irresistible if given half a chance. I think this will give him that chance." He sighed as he crossed his arms. "He really needs to belong, Simon. He gave up a lot for me. I just want to give him some of it back."
Simon nodded. He, too, had felt bad about the way Sandburg had been treated. But he didn't regret making him a detective. As the head of Major Crime, he could pick and choose his officers at his discretion. However, he couldn't make the others accept his choices. But Jim seemed to have hit upon a solution. "When did you get so wise?" he asked dryly. "And how the hell did you find him on that field? You had men all over you."
Before Jim could answer, a plaintive wail of "Jimmm!" carried across the field. The detective looked up to see his friend doused in the local housebrand version of Gatorade. He grinned. Didn't they know you couldn't drown a guppy?
"Go rescue him, Jim," Simon said, with an equally wide grin.
Jim turned to go make sure his partner was sufficiently "de-stickied" before allowing him in the truck. Then, he remembered the captain's prior question. He looked at Simon, then leaned forward as if sharing the secret of the universe.
"I'll always find Blair, Captain. Always."
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind,
Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind.
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