Author's Notes:

This is basically a drabble on steroids. A little plot, a little smarm....

Stand By Me, words and music by Ben E. King, Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber.



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 01-29-99)

When the night has come and the land is dark

And the moon is the only light we see

Blair Sandburg hated the night. Well, maybe hate was a bit strong. He disliked the night. Well, actually night wasn't too bad in the right situation. But the cramped cab of a pickup truck in the middle of the worst winter Cascade, Washington had seen in thirty years, couldn't be considered the right situation by any stretch of his considerable imagination. He was a student, a teacher, an anthropologist. None of these professions required sitting in the cold, waiting to see if an arsonist was going to strike. He had never thought he would be anywhere near a profession that required such...stupid dedication. After all, his mother had taught him law enforcement was something to scorn, to rebel against.

Jim Ellison had taught him otherwise.

I won't be afraid, no, I won't be afraid

Just as long as you stand, stand by me.

"Here, Chief." The door opened and the warm scent of hot coffee wafted into the truck.

"Bless you, man," he said gratefully as the heat filtered through the cup to his glove-covered palms. "I thought you were just walking around the building to see what was what."

"There's a gas station around the corner and I figured you were freezing by now."

"You figured right." Jim didn't get cold easily. Whether that was because of his Sentinel genes or just Jim, he hadn't discovered yet. But he would. Studying Jim was his raison d'etre. Surely, he would uncover most of the man's secrets by the time death came a'knocking. Then again, death came a'knocking quite a bit around the two of them. Bad karma, his mom would say.

"I don't know why we always get the late detail," Jim complained. "You know if you were nicer to the man, maybe Simon wouldn't pick on us."

"And maybe if you weren't the only officer Simon has that can see in the dark--"

"That's why they make flashlights, Chief."

"That's a very valid point, James. Share it with the captain. I'm sure he'll have something to say about it."

"Uh huh. My hearing can only take so much of what he'll say."

"I'll help you dial down to a '1', big guy."

Jim rolled his eyes. "You're so kind."

"Hey, a Guide's gotta do what a Guide's gotta do."

If the sea that we look upon, should tumble and fall,

Or the mountain should crumble to the sea

"Man," Blair said hours later, the coffee long gone. The windows had been cracked in the truck so they wouldn't fog up, inconveniently alerting the neighborhood to their presence. "There isn't anything I wouldn't give for a warm bed right now. What about you, Jim?" When there was no reply, he turned toward his partner and noticed he was frowning. "What is it?"

"A smell," the detective replied distractedly.

Blair put a hand on his shoulder. "Focus, Jim. We're looking for an arsonist. That means we're talking about flammable materials like--"

"Kerosene!" Jim said triumphantly. He tossed a cell phone across the seat. "Call it in, Chief."

The Sentinel left the truck, following his nose to where the smell was greatest. A few seconds later, he became aware of something other than smell. "Why isn't your butt in the truck, Sandburg?" he whispered angrily to the man coming up behind him.

The errant observer just grinned. "Must be going deaf. Never heard the order to stay in the truck."

"It was implied."

"Oh," Blair whispered back. "That's the problem then. I don't do implications."

Before Jim could make a proper retort, he heard a sound, and quickly pushed his partner down behind him. Words, even gestures, weren't needed. When Jim stood up, gun in position, Blair was safely out of the way. "Stop right there! Cascade P.D. You are under arrest."

Peeping out-- yes, peeping was allowed, according to the Unofficial Guide and Observer Handbook, mentally penned by the only Guide and Observer that anyone knew of-- Blair saw a tall, shadowy figure and heard the thud of a dropped metal can. He figured it was safe to come out, so he joined his partner who was cuffing the suspect.

"Patrol car's about a block away," Jim said, noting the fine shivers in his partner. Maybe he'd get him a heavier jacket for his birthday. He pushed the arsonist toward the truck, so Sandburg could get warm. Then he paused, so abruptly that Blair ran into the back of him.


"It's going to blow! Run, Chief!"

Seconds later, the warehouse exploded.

I won't cry, I won't cry, no, I won't shed a tear,

Just as long as you stand, stand by me.

"Jim!" Blair called frantically.

"I'm right here, Chief. All in one piece. You?" he asked, although his senses had already assured him his partner was fine.

"Surprisingly undamaged. Your hearing?"

"Managed to turn everything down just before the explosion."

"What happened?"

Jim bopped the suspect, who was also uninjured, on the back of his head. "What did you do?"

The man shook his head in total exasperation. "Mail order crap. Next time, I'll do my own shopping."

Jim growled, and nearly tossed the man to the arriving officers. If he had anything to say about it, there would never be a next time. He looked at his partner. "Ready to call it a night, Chief?"

"Been ready," Blair said with unabashed relief. "By the way, I lied."

Jim fished a piece of ash out of his hair. "Yeah? When?"

"When I said there wasn't anything I wouldn't give for a warm bed."

"You're forgiven, Chief. I'm sure when you said it, you didn't think your life would be flashing before your eyes a minute later," Jim said easily.

"Not my life I'm talking about," Blair replied softly.

"Oh." Jim settled his arm across familiar shoulders. "Let's get this scum settled into his new home, so we can go to ours, Chief."

"Next to the coffee, that's the best idea you've had all night, Jim."

Stand by me, oh, stand by me

Oh stand, stand by me, stand by me.


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