Author's Notes:

Shhhh! I'm not supposed to be posting, remember? But, darn it, this little tale came and bashed me so thoroughly, that I just have to get rid of it. Okay. I guess I have to confess: I'm a fanfic posting addict. When I told my beta I wasn't going to post in August, she questioned my ability to control myself. I thought I could handle it. What's a month, right? You know, the least I could have done was make it to double-digit August, but no, here I am, August 5, posting. But if we're all quiet about it, it won't count against me, right? So, I'm going to go back to writing all those long ones, and I was never here. Okay? Okay. :-)

This is a brief character study brought on by re-watching the episode, The Sentinel By Blair Sandburg. Warning: Spoilers for it and the other eps Naomi has appeared in. I'm not sure how much of it I agree with, but the darn thing demanded that I write it. However, I think it explains certain events and character reactions which seemed inconsistent and confusing.

Hope you enjoy!



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 08-05-99)

I waited too long. I realize that now.

I waited too long, and I underestimated my opponent. You see, my son has always been fascinated by bright, shiny objects. There was this silver, free-form mobile I used to hang over his crib when he was just a baby, and he would stare at it for hours. Some babies would try to reach for it, and tear it down. My Blair was content to just watch its beauty. Whether moving or still, it would capture his attention, and keep him happy. In my mind, I equated Jim Ellison with that bright, shiny object. Just like that free-form mobile, he was multi-faceted, with lots of hard edges, some curves, and if you stared at him just right, there was the possibility of seeing a rainbow of colors play across his surface.

This was my initial opinion of Jim Ellison. Well, actually, my initial opinion of him was that for a pig, Jim could be a tasty morsel-- dietary laws be damned. Those eyes, that body.... I have met men who spend one hundred percent of their time perfecting their bodies, and they would cry if they ever ran into Jim. It's not so much that he is heavily muscled, as it is the way everything is perfectly proportioned. And he's so unconscious of it. Nothing is worse than a man who knows he's good-looking. Conversely, nothing is so appealing as a man who has no idea of what a package he is. The way he walks, moves.... Grace. That's it. Jim moves with feline grace.

I discovered all of this when I finally went to visit Blair. That was my first mistake, not going to Cascade immediately. I knew something was going on. I received a letter from Blair, telling me how excited he was about working with the police. He had decided to study them, to write his dissertation on their closed society. What? We all know why it's a closed society-- so that the public's blinded to their brutality, their sick, sadistic, twisted ways. Why would he want to study that? What happened to the Yama-whatevers, the Zunis, and the other real societies that needed to be examined? How had the pigs dragged my son into their dark world?

When his next letter caught up with me, I made travel plans. He was not only studying the cops, but he was living with one now. The last time I'd heard, he was sharing space with a Barbary ape; quite a leap up the evolutionary scale, son-- or maybe not. We were talking cops, right? As I made my way to Cascade, I wondered if Blair was going through another "looking for a father-figure" phase. It had happened a couple of times while he was growing up. Why children need authoritarian figures in their lives is unimaginable to me, but the psychologists assured me that it was perfectly normal. So, had one of these old cops taken in my son, given him a dose of what he'd craved as a child? If that was the case, then I had nothing to worry about. Eventually, Blair would chafe at being controlled, or the old man would tire of him, and give him the boot. I know that sounds cold, that I could consider the rejection of my son as a positive event, but I had learned early on that sometimes pain truly was for your own good.

When I reached Cascade, I decided to hurry things along. I'm not a stand-still person. I didn't have time to sit around, and wait for my son to see the light. So, I made myself at home in my son's new home. I burned sage incense, rearranged the furniture, and commandeered the stove. That should have drove the cop nuts. I mean, I could tell from the spotlessness of the loft, and the precision with which everything had been placed that he was a stickler for order. He would blow a huge gasket, and both Blair and I would be tossed out on our keisters. A diabolical plan, right? Too bad it didn't work. Jim was a lot more reasonable than I expected (a lot younger too). He didn't go off. He didn't tell Blair to get rid of me. He turned out to be allergic to the sage, but even then, he kept his cool. That should have told me there was more to this cop than I could see. I just didn't realize how much more.

So, this Jim wasn't too bad, but thankfully, he wasn't the only one my son was working with. If I couldn't place a wedge in the personal relationship Blair had with Jim, well maybe I could put a kink in his relationship with the Cascade Police Department. I went down there and threw a spectacular fit. I calculated there were three possible outcomes to this act: 1) Captain Banks would be so scared of a lawsuit, or be so disgusted, that he would revoke Blair's observer status; 2) Blair would be so embarrassed that he wouldn't show his face in the building again; or 3) Blair would understand how important his safety was to me, how frightened I was for him, and he would back away from the project. Needless to say, the action did not produce the desired results. In fact, I think it strengthened Blair's resolve to stay in "pig land." He must have heard, as I did, the respect Captain Banks had for him, and seen the pride in Jim's eyes as he, Blair Sandburg, stood up to his mother, reminding me that it was his life, and his choices.

I didn't give up. If my baby couldn't see the danger he was in, I was just going to have to show him. I "accidentally" got myself involved in their little undercover operation. Blair would know what it felt like to worry, to know how it felt to have a loved one's life be at the mercy of the cops. But the faith my son had in Jim never faltered. He trusted Jim, and by extension, the Cascade P.D., to save me even when their careful plans fell apart.

As a last-ditch effort, I attempted to seduce Jim. Blair would feel betrayed, and I...well, let's just say it wouldn't be a hardship for me. I brazenly waltzed up to his room, carrying a plate of tongue and a photo album of Blair that he just had to see. Guess what happened? He ate tongue (only the cooked kind) and actually went through the photos. When Blair came in, instead of finding us in flagrante delicto, he found us laughing at his bare baby butt. Either I'd lost my ability to wrap men around my...whatever, or Jim Ellison was a man way in control of himself. I think it was the latter. His mind had relegated me to in-law status, i.e. I was the family of his family, which meant I was worthy of his affection, but strictly off-limits for anything more carnal. Pity.

I tried again to make Jim and the others show their true "blue" colors. I came back to town with a psychic in tow. Now, that should have really caused an all-out war, but once again, Blair's cops shocked me. Sure, they scorned poor Charlie, but when it came down to protecting lives, they listened to him. Amazing. Was my Blair responsible for these enlightened cops, or had he managed to stumble into the only group of them that weren't narrow-minded, jackboot-wearing animals?

Anyway, this brings us to my latest, and yes, final, attempt to free my son from the police's influence. Although I hadn't seen him for a while, we had stayed in contact, and I could tell he was changing. He was harder, more judgmental, more at ease with the violence that not only the criminals committed, but the cops as well. "Jim shot him," rolled off his tongue without so much as a chord of disgust or sadness. It was time, I thought, to end this once and for all.

I arrived just as Blair was finishing his dissertation. I saw this as divine providence. Here, at my fingertips, was the perfect way to save my son. He gave me this song and dance about it not being ready, that it was just a rough draft, etc. Even though we hadn't shared space for any significant amount of time for nearly fifteen years, I still knew my son. What he was really saying was that if he admitted his dissertation was finished, then he no longer had an excuse to hang out with Jim and the boys in blue. Hallelujah! This was what I'd been waiting for. Maneuvering around his edict about not reading it, I sent the manuscript to Sid Graham. He was a good friend of mine, and an editor at a huge publishing house. He got really excited about Blair's work. Didn't even have to bribe him with the promise of a good time.... Oh, well, with Blair going out on his own, there was still Jim, right? Had to squeeze him twice this last time, he felt so good.

To say that Blair wasn't happy with what I'd done was an understatement, but I was sure of his love, and his ability to forgive his wacky, but loveable, mother, so I wasn't worried. Then I found out why he was so miffed, what he was hiding in that book of his. Wow! Jim Ellison is a Sentinel. What a secret. What a boon for my son. He had taken what was a laughed-at fable, and turned it into a bona fide fact. Take that, I wanted to yell, all you people who cursed me for being a single mother, who pitied Blair because I didn't give him a father. This illegitimate child, this bastard, was going to set the academic world on its ear! The Nobel Committee was even reviewing his work. My child, my piece of heaven, was not only going to be a millionaire, but he was going to have the respect of the world. Way to go, Naomi!

At least now I was able to understand Blair's devotion to Jim. This man turned out to be his personal holy grail. No wonder it seemed that at times he was worshipping at Jim's feet. But that was over too. I had not only managed to make my son a success, but I'd finally caused a rift between him and Jim. Jim was angry at him because he was careless with the dissertation, and I think to some degree, angry about the dissertation itself. Sounded as if it had been a bone of contention between them before. If I had known that, maybe I would have used it earlier. Anyway, a betrayed Jim was a spectacular Jim. The way he cut into my son, without even raising his voice, was stunning. Of course, by this time I could see just how badly Blair was bleeding, but wasn't that better than the alternative-- shedding blood for real? He'd get over Jim's rejection more easily than he would death. Right?

But then the real bleeding occurred. Captain Banks and that woman cop, Megan Conner. I'm not sure if it was the shooting itself, or Jim's reaction to it, which caused Blair to act. One minute I was grinning at his press conference, and the next, I was forcing back tears, and fighting my way through reporters. What had he done? He'd destroyed his future in one fell swoop. He told the world he was a liar, a fraud. Why? To protect his friends, to protect Jim, to protect his precious Sentinel. I'd never been so angry...nor so terribly sad.

There was a silver lining, however. It was over. Blair and the cops were a done deal. Although he seemed to have made up with Jim-- at least that was the way it sounded when he called me on his way to the station to finish up the case with that awful longshoreman-- I knew the end was near. He'd finish this case because he was the type person who had to finish what he'd started, and then.... Then I'd take him with me. Maybe we'd study Zen together in a retreat in the Rockies. Or maybe we'd just head to the other side of the world, and get away from it all. Even as I hung up the phone, I was busy making plans for me and my son.

Then he called again and told me he was at the hospital. No, he wasn't hurt, but Jim had been shot. Nothing serious. He'd be bringing him home soon. Okay. I realized I was going to have to put my plans on hold for a while. He was not going to leave Jim until the man was completely healthy. I understood that. I applauded his loyalty and dedication. How anyone could believe this sweet, curly-haired angel was a fraud, was beyond my reckoning. It was just as I'd been saying all along-- these people weren't worthy to be in my son's life.

I remember Blair telling me something about Jim being in covert operations, that is to say a member of the American controlled death squads, but I really couldn't see it, because there's nothing subtle about the man. He's brawn, maybe with a little brain mixed in to make him tolerable. I could see him in camouflage paint, shooting at anything that moved, but I couldn't picture him really being covert. I mean, I figured he wasn't even capable of a sneak attack in bed. But I was wrong. I don't think I've ever underestimated anyone as badly as I did Jim.

We'd been living in gentle harmony for nearly a week while he healed. Blair chauffeured him around, ferrying him to the hospital for check ups and to visit his fallen comrades. This morning he woke up, and told Blair that he couldn't put it off any longer, that he needed to go clean out his office at Rainier, then stop by the station and maybe do the same.

Ah, I thought sadly. My chick was getting close to being kicked out of the nest. Poor baby. It was a good thing Mother was here to pick up the pieces. I was thinking about what to fix him for dinner when Jim caught my attention with a simple, soft-spoken, "Naomi."

I turned around and in that split second, I realized Jim knew. Somehow-- I still don't know if it was because of his special senses, or that he's just that good-- but he knew everything. It was there, in the depths of those glorious blue eyes. He knew what I'd been trying to do since my first visit to the loft, and now he was calling me on it. My ditzy, dutiful Mom routine wasn't cutting it anymore. I'm starting to wonder if it ever had. Could he have been cunning enough to play me, to let me have enough line to strangle myself?

"Naomi," he continued, "Simon and I have arranged for Blair to become a badge-wearing, gun-carrying, honest-to-God member of the Cascade P.D. We're going to spring the news on him today. Have a big celebration and everything. In fact, a car's coming to pick me up and take me to the station. You'll be coming with me, and you're going to paste on your biggest grin and tell your son how proud you are of him."

I opened my mouth to protest, but closed it seconds later. He didn't even have to say anything. It was all so clear, that he didn't have to waste words: either I played his game, or he would tell Blair what I'd been doing, how I'd been manipulating him. Yes, my son would still love me, but he'd never trust me again. And it wouldn't make a bit of difference to him, because he'd have Jim to trust, and Jim to take care of, and Jim to take care of him. He wouldn't need me. Hell, he hadn't needed me for a long time. But he had welcomed me. If I didn't do as Jim said, I wouldn't even have that.

So, I'm here -- smiling, congratulating, keeping my comments to myself when the captain mentions weapons training. As I do this, I'm aware that I'm under scrutiny. Jim is watching me-- with all five heightened senses. I don't like the sensation. I tell Blair it's been fun, but it's time for me to go. My beautiful baby boy says, "Okay, Mom. Come back for a visit when you get the chance." He hugs me, kisses my cheek, then heads back into the bosom of his "family".

Jim comes to escort me to the elevator. "You know, it's funny, Naomi, how we try so hard to accomplish one thing, and end up accomplishing just the opposite. I guess fate is fate."

Yeah, fate is fate. My son is a cop. He lives with a cop. And this makes him happy. Guess it's time for Mother to give up and give over. "Take care of him," I order, as the elevator doors start to close.

"I always have."

Jim Ellison's words ring in my ears as I make my way out of Cascade. Of all the people who passed through our lives, Jim is the most stable. Blair counts on him...and I do too. I realize that now. In between trying to get Blair away from Jim, I've counted on Jim to keep him safe, to keep him breathing until I saw him next. I've also counted on Jim to take me in, accept my attempts to break his hold on Blair, and act with genteel civility as he did so. Even now, with all my cards exposed, I know I can show up at the loft, and I will be treated with kindness and respect.

Jim Ellison is a Sentinel, but he's also a decent human being. Yes, he's the protector of the tribe, but he's also the protector of my son's heart... and the protector of me. Had he not protected me from making the worst mistake of my life-- taking Blair out of the shelter of his care?

According to the media, my son is a fraud. But I know who's the fraud in the family.

Maybe, I've always known.


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