WARNING! SPOILERS for The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg
Writing missing scenes is not my usual gig-- probably out of sixty-some stories I've written, maybe one or two fit that category. But Jim told me he needed defending, and considering the things I have done to the poor boy (and will continue to do), I couldn't turn down his request. <g>
Just so you know, and we can avoid further arguments, this story does NOT blame Jim for his reactions in TSbBS. If you're convinced he's the villain of the piece, and no one is going to tell you otherwise, I advise you to read fiction other than this one. Although somewhere down the line, I'll probably be able to explain myself a bit more elegantly, I will not change my mind about the episode-- it was excellent (from a story, not plot, point of view) and if it is the end, it was a fine end-- and I liked the Jim and the Blair it displayed.
I've been lurking in several groups, gleaning opinions and reactions. If you see something familiar in here, I agreed with it and borrowed it. I find I express myself, and my opinions, better with fiction than with normal prose.
Hope you enjoy, or at least, tolerate.
"Your mom get off okay?" Jim asked as Blair entered the loft, throwing his keys into the basket.
"Yeah. Just as her flight was called, I think it began to hit her that I'm going to be a cop." He shook his head and grinned. "Man, I'm glad they called her row first."
Jim smiled with him. "I was wondering about that acceptance thing she had going on at the station. In fact, I was expecting to be attacked when I invited her to be there when we told you."
"She was in the guilt zone, Jim. What she did.... I forgive her, but I think it's going to be a while before she forgives herself. And you...you never blamed her at all, did you?"
He shrugged and got two beers out of the fridge. "Everything got out of control so quickly, Chief, that I was operating on sheer instinct and, quite frankly, Naomi was barely a blip on the radar. There was a killer on the loose, my life was playing on page one...."
"You thought I had betrayed you," Blair added softly.
"Instinct, Chief. My whole life has been nothing but--"
"Betrayal after betrayal. I know that, Jim. That's why I would never--"
"I know that, Chief. I knew that. Even before you explained to me what had happened, what Naomi had done. But before I could embrace that thought, before I could sit down and take five minutes to think through what was going on, I had to concentrate on protecting that union jerk...which I couldn't do because I was being mobbed by the press and criminals were asking for my autograph. Do you know what I felt like, Chief?"
"No." But he remembered the blank stare on his partner's face at the rally when he'd finally made it through the crowd to scatter the paparazzi from around him. It hadn't been a zone. More like a deer caught in headlights....
"Like I was finally that freak my father thought I was."
Blair impatiently tugged a curl behind his ear. "I never meant for any of this to happen, Jim."
"Do you also know I...I'm not even sure I was ever going to publish at all? I had just finished the diss when my mom sneaked in. I had finished it, and I knew the time had come for me to face the truth.... Maybe if I had just accepted it, admitted it at that point, then Mom wouldn't have had the chance to do what she did. There was no way I could have ever submitted the dissertation, man. You tried to tell me that earlier, and I freaked out--"
"I freaked out," Jim corrected.
"Because you knew, didn't you? Knew that the paper would just put a big target on your back."
"You knew!" Blair accused. "You knew...and you still let me continue the fantasy.... No, it was even worse than that, wasn't it? You would have let me publish, wouldn't you've? Knowing there was no way in hell I could have kept your identity a secret, knowing that you would lose your privacy, your advantage over the bad guys...your ability to function as a Sentinel. Yes, the senses would have remained-- Incacha said you would be a Sentinel as long as you chose to be-- but that diss is...was a 'how to' manual-- how to care for a Sentinel and conversely, how not to. Your enemies would know your every weakness."
"Yes," Jim agreed softly.
"The gig was up the moment I moved into the loft, wasn't it? Maybe even before then. I was supposed to be observing the policemen in the Major Crime Unit, but who did I always partner with? In all the trucks you've owned, whose butt has left an imprint in the passenger's seat? For three years I followed one person, one cop. Not only did I watch you, but I melded my life into yours. If I was late for class or couldn't finish a report on time, it was because I had to be with you.... Yet, I was supposed to convince everyone that my diss subject wasn't you. Impossible. Even if you were just a wild obsession of mine, when would I have had time to study anyone else? Between stakeouts? In the middle of kidnapping? No, I know-- maybe I was studying someone else while I floated in the campus fountain...." He stopped his ramble, a wave of panic going through him. "You do know, Jim, that not everyone is going to believe this was all a lie. I know two paramedics who will always believe. And an entire bullpen of detectives."
"But they're willing to overlook it, Chief. They have all these years."
Blair chuckled. "Yeah, we didn't do a good job of covering at times, did we? And with Megan, I royally screwed up."
"Simon screaming, 'Jim, can you hear his heartbeat?' at the fountain didn't help matters either, Chief," Jim said, wondering at his ability to smile about something that happened then. That was a good sign, wasn't it?
Blair leaned against one of the patio doors. "You gave me my life back at the fountain, Jim, and in return, I almost ruined yours."
"Instead you ruined your own. I meant what I said at the hospital. What you did was incredible."
"What you did was incredible. What I did was...was what I had to do. The situation was intolerable for the Sentinel...and for you. Cascade was blessed with a Sentinel and I was messing with that. Definitely bad karma to mess with a blessing, man. There's no way I could have profited at your expense. The universe itself would have retaliated."
"And there's no way I could profit at your expense, Chief. That's why I had to figure out someway for us both to profit. I know the dreams you had for your life didn't involve being a cop--"
"No, but they did involve me being happy. That part is no longer a dream, man."
"Do you think you can be happy as a cop?"
"Do you think I can?"
Jim nodded, coming to stand beside his friend. "I never would have pushed for this if I thought you couldn't. You say you've watched me, but I've watched you too, Chief. You are not only a hell of a cop, but you enjoy being one. How many times did you sacrifice something at school for something at the station? It wasn't just because I needed you-- which I did, and still do-- but it was because you felt they were your cases as much as they were mine. Tell me that I'm wrong, and we'll find some other way, some other existence where we can be who we're supposed to be."
"Do we know who those people are, Jim?"
The detective rested his hands on the broad, sturdy shoulders of his partner. They could bear his weight, and more. "Sentinel and Guide, Guardian and Shaman...protectors of the tribe. Both of us, Chief. I think.... No. I won't say it. I'll probably screw it up and you'll take it the wrong way."
Blair sighed. "Just say it. Verbal communication is a good thing...usually."
"I think that's where you made your first mistake."
"Oh, goody. At least one of us knows where I went wrong."
"See? That's why I wasn't going to say anything," Jim said, retreating from his partner.
Blair reached out a hand and tugged him back. "I'm sorry. The snarky comment was uncalled for. Continue...please?"
"You saw me as the protector of the tribe, and basically stamped your foot until I accepted my destiny. But it wasn't my destiny alone." He sighed, trying to find the right words. "Your destiny was to find a Sentinel, but it didn't stop there, Chief. And that's where you strayed from your chosen path."
"Which path would that be, Jim? No snarkiness intended, big guy."
"The path of the Guide, which would lead to the path of the Shaman. But because you strayed, you accidentally stumbled upon the path of the Shaman, instead of being gradually led to it."
Blair nodded. It was true that the gift of being a Shaman had just been pressed upon him. What should have gained after a long journey toward enlightenment had been transferred to him in one bloody handgrip. If he had committed all his energies toward being Jim's Guide, he might have met up with Incacha earlier.... But, damn it, hadn't he given up enough of his life to be with Jim? Even before this fiasco, his life had been split in two...and both halves had suffered. Maybe Jim was right; the Guide had forced the Sentinel into making a decision-- while avoiding making one of his own. Perhaps the time had come for the Sentinel to force the Guide to face his destiny as well.
"So, you think being a cop will put me on the right path to being a Guide?"
"My Guide, yes."
"I just don't see it, Jim. How can learning to use a gun make me a better Guide and Shaman?"
"It won't. But learning to use a gun isn't the same as actually using one, Chief. I doubt if you'll ever be comfortable using it, which means when it comes to a quick draw situation, you're going to go for your best weapons-- your mind and your mouth."
"That won't bother you? You won't be counting on me to back you up with a gun?"
"I'll be counting on you to back me up as you always have, Chief-- by being and reacting as Blair Sandburg."
"Then how is this putting me on the right path?"
"It's putting you at my side...officially and permanently."
"Oh." He hadn't thought of it that way. Actually, he hadn't thought much past the part of Blair Sandburg: Armed and Dangerous. But since Jim wasn't overly concerned about the armed part, maybe it was time to think about the other part. No more staying in the truck. No more begging to be part of an operation. No more curious looks and wondering speculations. His presence would be sanctioned, indisputable. Why hadn't he seen this silver lining before? Must have still had his head in those anthropological clouds....
"You okay in there?" Jim asked, lightly thumping Blair's head.
He smiled. "Just doing some reorganizing. You went to a lot of trouble to set this up, didn't you? Getting me into the academy, this automatic assignment as your partner.... Whose soul did you sell, James?" he asked jokingly.
Blair spun around to face his roommate. "What did you do?"
"I 'outed' myself to the brass. Simon helped."
"So my sacrifice was in vain?" Blair asked, his heart breaking. How did telling the police honchos differ from telling the officials at the university? Either way, there was confirmation that Jim was a Sentinel.
"Do you think I would allow that to happen? That I would belittle what you did? Whose instincts are kicking in now, Sandburg?" He smiled, taking the sting out of the accusation.
Blair took a deep breath. Jim had made it clear he understood every nuance of the press conference, what Blair had given up-- not just fame or fortune, but his life as he had envisioned it. "So tell me how this differs from my publishing?"
"The university would gain from my exposure. The department gains from keeping my secret."
"What good is a secret weapon if it's not a secret anymore? What good would it be for one of their own to be a constant target? What good could come from a swarm of defense attorneys trying to get their clients' sentences overturned because they claim using my senses constitutes illegally gained information?"
"All your old cases...." Blair began. That was an argument he hadn't considered. "Damn it, Jim! You should have torched the whole thing earlier, and banged my head into the wall until I understood I couldn't allow anyone to read it!"
"I was confident you would come to the decision on your own, Chief," he said easily. "Neither of us could have predicted that Naomi would so rudely push us out of our comfortable nest."
"Yeah, feathered with impossibilities and self-delusions.... We could still be falling, man," Blair murmured with a shiver.
"But we aren't, Chief. At least, I'm hoping we're not."
Blair closed his eyes and pictured the past three years. He'd been telling the truth when he'd told his mom he had it all, that he had his brass ring. A home, family, people who trusted and believed in him...a job that he not only loved, but was good at. He squared his shoulders and looked out at his city, his tribe. "No more falling, Jim. From this day forward, we stand."
His Sentinel stood tall behind him, giving and taking support. "Yes, Chief. We stand."