Author's Notes:

Been listening to that darn radio again. You Decorated My Life was written by Bob Morrison and Debbie Hupp and is performed by Kenny Rogers (I'm very eclectic when it comes to music). I think this was just a way of unwinding from Bayou. Timeline-wise, this occurs before the third season (that's as specific as I can get. If you can do better-- well, imaginations are free; use the heck out of them.) Also, there are references to occurrences in a couple of episodes, but I don't think spoilers are necessary for them.

P.S. Like my other "musical" offerings, this one is short. But unlike the others, this one actually has a plot. :-)



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 08-20-98)

All my life was a paper, once plain, pure and white...
"Back off, Rafe," Detective Jim Ellison warned his colleague.

"I will not back off!" the younger detective countered. "Not when my partner's life is at stake!"

"So is my partner's!"

"Then do it for God's sake!" He grabbed Jim's arm when he started to walk away. "We're not finished here."

Jim looked down at the hand restraining him. "I say we are. Let go of me."

"No! If you don't give a damn about Blair's safety that's your business, but I'm not going to let H. go down. Not when I know you can find them!"

With a growl, Jim shoved Rafe back against the parking garage's wall, breaking his grip. Then he pinned him there. "Listen to me! I have done everything humanly possible to find our partners! I have tracked down every criminal the four of us have put away. I have gone over the car, the area where it was found, at least twenty times. I have checked my own past for enemies who might want to strike back at me through Blair. I have checked Blair's life for enemies, Brown's life, hell, I probably even know more about your life than you do, Rafe! There are no leads. There is nothing for us to go on. What more do you want from me? What more do you expect of me?"

"I expect you to find them."

"How, damn it? You're a cop. You know we've done everything." He stepped back, releasing his friend.

"No. I've done everything. Major Crimes has done everything. But you haven't, Ellison." Rafe felt his legs give way, and he slid down the wall, the exhaustion and tension of the three days catching up to him. "I know you're angry at them. I know you think Henri shouldn't have taken Blair along. You're probably angry at me too, because I wasn't here to back my partner, and that's why yours did. But don't let your anger stand in the way of finding them. Please, Jim. I don't know how you do it. At this point, I don't even care. But I know you can find Blair. We've watched you do it. Me and H. You're connected to him or something." He moved until he was on his knees. "I'm begging you. Please, man, please find them."

"What's going on here!" Captain Simon Banks' voice boomed as the elevator deposited him in the parking garage of the Cascade P.D. "Damn it, men! Don't we have enough to worry about without this! Back off, Jim!"

"Simon, I--"

"I said back off!" He knelt before Rafe. "You okay, son?"

"I didn't--" Jim began, then threw up his hands in frustration. Fine. His captain assumed he had hit a co-worker. His co-worker assumed he could work miracles. And somewhere out there he had a partner who assumed he would find him in time to save him. It was just too much to handle.

He walked out of the garage, leaving his truck behind, but unfortunately, not his demons.

Till you moved with your pen, changing moods now and then, till the balance was right.
Jim aimlessly walked the streets of Cascade. He was angry, hurt, and most of all, scared. Blair Sandburg was missing. His partner, roommate, friend... brother. Blair had come down to the station to do some paperwork while Jim testified in court. Det. Henri Brown had received a call about a missing suspect. He was just going to drive around, take a look in the area where he had been spotted. He needed another pair of eyes, and since his partner was in a meeting with an A.D.A., he'd taken Blair along. Four hours later, Brown's car had been found in an alley with blood on the seat-- Brown's blood, which Jim had known before the lab report was back. That had been three days ago.

He wrapped his arms around himself as if he were cold, but the temperature rarely affected him. Jim was a Sentinel, which meant he had five heightened senses. His body adjusted to temperature changes, his nose was able to discern it wasn't Blair's blood on the seat, and his eyes confirmed that whoever had taken his two friends had left no clues behind. His senses-- once regarded as curses but lately considered gifts-- had betrayed him, left him separate from his Guide.

That was why he couldn't go home. The loft held too much of Blair. He had let the anthropologist take over their home as he had his life. Blair was everywhere. Blair's books and papers cluttered various chairs and tables, any flat surface that was available. Blair's food was in the fridge, next to Jim's food, and both was slowly being replaced by their food. Their laundry was by the door where Blair had left it the morning he had disappeared. Their shaving equipment was in the medicine cabinet in their bathroom, their toothbrushes side by side on the sink...

Then you added some music, every note was in place; And anybody could see all the changes in me by the look on my face.
He let himself into the loft because that was where his feet had finally taken him. Cascade was a sizable city ,but it wasn't big enough to get lost in, at least not him. And, damn it, not Blair. He realized that now. Rafe had been right; he could find Blair. He had before. He would again. No matter what it took. No matter what he had to face about himself, about what he could do, or his relationship with his Guide. Later, he would bitch about tests. Later, he would insist that there were things he couldn't do, argue that certain events hadn't occurred. Later, he would confront the fears that were about to explode in him. Later.

Jim went into Blair's room and gathered what he thought he would need. Candles. Incense. Blair's pillow. Next stop was the stereo system. Something earthy with a soft, subtle beat. He lit the candles and the incense, remembering the care with which his partner had chosen the tools he used for meditation. All had been deemed "Sentinel-friendly" meaning they were totally unoffensive to a nose on overdrive.

He settled in the middle of the floor, folding his legs as he'd seen Blair do, closing his eyes and hugging the pillow heavy with Blair's scent.

"Okay, buddy. Guide me."

Like a rhyme with no reason in an unfinished song...
Blair Sandburg looked down at the man whose head he cradled in his lap. "Just hang on a little long, H. Our partners will come. You believe that, don't you?"

"If you... believe... it... Hair Boy." Brown's voice was weak, his entire body was, but he still tried to grin and reassure the man who had spent so much effort in keeping him alive. The shot he had taken to the thigh had bled a lot and the bullet was still inside. For the first couple of days as they tried to escape the metal box that held them captive he'd been okay, Blair's use of his sweater as a tourniquet finally getting the bleeding under control. But now infection had set in around the bullet, and it was fast sapping his strength.

"I believe," Blair said with more confidence than he had. His life just couldn't end this way. Not in some stupid shipping container somewhere in Cascade. Especially not in Cascade.

As the child of Naomi Sandburg-- Flower Child of the Sixties, Blair had probably moved more his first year of life than most people did their entire lives. And the moving never stopped-- first, in his mother's arms, then at her side, and finally on his own. In the beginning he thought all people moved around as much as he and Naomi. Later, when he was old enough to attend school, he realized what they did wasn't normal, but that was okay; it was the Sandburg way of doing things. In college, if there was a break-- summer, spring, fall, Christmas-- he was gone, off to visit places that he'd read about or studied.

On occasion, he stopped, and tried to figure out if he was running away from, or toward something. Naomi was definitely running away; from what or whom, he didn't know and he wasn't going to force his mother to tell. But since he had continued the tradition, he too must have had a reason, and he figured his moving was toward something. What he was looking for was undefined, but as he grew older, learned more, he realized he was on a search, and the restlessness wouldn't go away until he found it.

There was no harmony, life meant nothing to me, until you came along.
The it turned out to be a man, a very special one. Blair had thought he was merely a research subject, a means to an end. But the man himself had been an end, at least to Blair's wandering. Jim Ellison had been this tough cop scared to death that he was going insane. The anthropologist explained about him having the genetic make up of a Sentinel, and volunteered to "coach" him in exchange for material for his dissertation. It sounded fair; both men would get a little and give a little. He hadn't even liked the detective at first. His head had been as hard as granite, his mind sealed tighter than a tin of sardines. And his back had been so stiff and unbending that Blair figured a rod of steel ran from his neck to his ass. Then when he had moved into the loft, well, he had gotten a close-up view of what anal retentive really meant. But it was all about the paper, the elusive three letters behind his name. He could deal. Hadn't he even shared quarters with Larry the barbary ape? A cop would be a piece of cake-- at least for a few weeks, anyway.

Then something happened. A partnership formed, then a friendship, and finally a sense of brotherhood, family. There were private jokes that only the two of them got, and admonishments to wear a jacket or be careful of bright lights and loud sounds. There were nights of getting through bad dreams, and days of holding vigil in hospitals. Vacations were taken together, laughter and sorrows shared. Despite a cloud of danger that seemed to follow him and his new companion, Blair had tossed his suitcase into a back closet in the loft, and the loft became home.

There was no more running from this end of the world to another. There was no need. The search was over.

And you brought out the colors, what a gentle surprise; now I'm able to see all the things life can be, shining soft in your eyes.
"You know, Henri, that Jim is going to be pretty pissed off if you up and die before he makes his gallant rescue. And alive or dead, I don't think you want him pissed, man," Blair said, wiping the sweat off his friend's face. His temperature was rising rapidly now.

"Then tell him to hurry up."

"Okay, H. I'll do just that."

Blair closed his eyes and focused on his partner. From the beginning he was aware he could reach Jim when no one else could, that the Sentinel sensed him in a different way. There was that time a madman had kidnapped him... Jim had made some crazy leaps of logic, and had been able to reach him before he became the serial killer's next victim. It had taken him a while to get over that, and it was only recently that he realized Jim had had to use something other than his five senses that night. As a cop, the man already had a keen instinct. So, maybe his Sentinel genes had enhanced that too.

He had also realized that the connection wasn't just one way. He had known his partner was in trouble when those government men had taken him away ,and he knew when his touch soothed Jim, and when his voice was pitched just right to guide the Sentinel. So maybe most of the time he was just an ordinary grad student, but with Jim he was part of something greater, and that was what he was going to appeal to now. If there was anything to this link, now was the time to test it. Before they lost a friend. Before they lost each other.

And you decorated my life; created a world where dreams are a part.

The detective opened his eyes to find his captain peering at him worriedly. "Oh good, you're here, Simon. Call Rafe, and tell him we'll pick him up on the way." He reached out, dousing candles and incense.

"On our way where, Jim? What's going on? I've been driving around looking for you for hours. Your truck wasn't parked outside, but I saw the flickering of light through the window so I thought I would investigate." Simon had hurried up to the third floor loft, afraid of what he would find as he used the spare key they had given him to let himself in. He'd known Jim was in a bad way when he'd left the station, and he'd felt guilty over accusing the man of assaulting a fellow officer when after having questioned Rafe, he'd found it to be untrue.

"The truck's still at the station."

Simon's eyes bulged. "You walked all the way here?"

"Yeah. Just call Rafe from your car, okay. We really need to go." He grabbed his gun from the counter, and put it in the holster at his back.

Simon reached out and grabbed his arm. "Go where, Jim?"

"To get Sandburg and Brown." He hustled the captain into the elevator.

"You know where they are?"

"Uh huh."

Simon, having witnessed peculiar incidents with Ellison and Sandburg since this whole crazy Sentinel thing began, ignored the other questions in his mind, and pulled out his cell phone. To his surprise, Rafe had no questions.

Jim directed Simon to the docks, where thousands of container cars rested, some waiting to be picked up, others having just been unloaded, and still others which remained there from year to year. According to Jim, in one of them was Sandburg and Brown. He pointed to a dented metal shell and said, "That one." Whipping out his gun, he shot off the lock.

And you decorated my life by painting your love all over my heart.
"I'm here, Chief," Jim said as he hefted himself into the hot, dank cell that held his two friends.

"'Bout time," Blair said, his voice cracking from thirst and emotion. "He finally made it, H."

"Took... your... own sweet time... didn't you, Jim," Brown managed to say before passing out.

"The ambulance is on its way," Jim said quickly.

"You can hear it?" Blair asked.

Jim nodded. "I can." He looked around as Simon and Rafe scrambled inside. "Henri is going to be okay," he assured them quickly. "He's running a temperature, but the infection hasn't spread far."

Blair looked at Jim's hand, and saw it laying on Brown's leg. He'd made that diagnosis just from a light touch? He placed the thought in the back of his mind. There were more immediate concerns now. "Jim, I need to get out of here. We both do."

"Sure thing, Chief. Rafe, help Blair outside. Simon and I will bring H."

"Be careful of his leg," Blair began, then stopped. Jim would know if the bleeding started again.

The ambulance came, taking Brown and Rafe away. Blair wanted a few more minutes out in the open air before getting in the car with Simon and heading for the hospital themselves. "Do you or Brown know who did this to you, Chief?" Jim asked, making sure his partner took regular sips from the bottle of water the paramedics had left.

"No. And at the moment, I don't care. Tomorrow I'll worry; tonight, I just want to be thankful that you came. How did you find us?"

Jim gazed off into the water of the harbor. "I followed the line you held out, Blair. Sorry it took so long for me to grab it."

"Sorry it took me so long to extend it. I think maybe from now on, we should let it hang there between us permanently, just in case. I'll just waggle it when I'm in trouble, and you'll know to come get me. How about that, Jim?"

"Sounds like a plan," his partner agreed. "I think we need to get you to the hospital." He threw his arm around Blair's shoulders, urging him to lean on him and borrow his strength.

Blair obliged. He would go to the hospital and let the doctors check him out just to make Jim and Simon happy. But he knew what he needed and he already had it. In fact-- he thought, tugging experimentally on the bond and grinning foolishly as Jim quickly turned to him-- he would never lose it again.

You decorated my life.

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