Spoilers: Sentinel Too, Parts 1 and 2, The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg
Summary: Blair finds recent events too much to deal with.
There, he swore he had heard it that time. Calling him again, taunting him, pleading with him to answer.
Blair squeezed his eyes shut, trying in vain to block out the siren's call. But he knew he couldn't. He'd been finding himself more and more resistant to the call lately. He was finding he no longer cared about a lot of things anymore. So much had changed so fast, and so drastically. He didn't even recognize his life anymore. It was as if his life before had been a dream, a mere shadow hidden in the deep recesses of his mind. The life he had now was that of one who had been scorned. Ripped away from all he had loved, told he was no longer welcome and then shown the door.
Blair sighed, he knew he was supposed to get over this, get on with his life and be happy that all was well for his friend now, but he couldn't. Yes he loved Jim like a brother and would do anything to protect him (and had) but in the process he had lost himself. And now he didn't care anymore. He no longer wanted any part of this life that had chosen to continually mock him so cruelly. Hadn't Jim made it clear in the past that he would be better off with out Blair around?
There, he'd heard it again, and found he could no longer resist. Slowly he rose from his bed, not caring weather Jim heard him or not and made his way out from his room. Snagging his keys from the basket, he headed to the front door, then paused, once again unsure of what he should do. He didn't want to hurt his friends and his family, but he could no longer take living this way. No longer could stand the way people looked at him in the street, contempt and disgust written all over their faces. He was tired of the pity he received from well meaning friends who truly had no idea what he had given up, could never understand what it was like to have everyone think you were a liar, a fraud.
His mind made up, with a final glance towards Jim's room, he left to answer the siren's call.
Jim listened anxiously as Blair exited the loft. Then quickly followed suit, pausing only to grab his keys, lest he lose track of Blair's heartbeat. All of his blessed protector instincts were on red alert, and he knew he had to follow Blair, or something very bad was going to happen.
Jim had know something was bothering Blair more than Blair would let on. He had known that since the dissertation fiasco Blair had been different, he had changed. He no longer smiled much, no longer laughed, and hadn't been to the station to visit in a long time, despite repeated calls and invitations from the gang at Major Crimes. He knew Blair hardly slept at night, instead sitting quietly in his small bedroom, staring out into the darkness. Blair would hardly even eat, and had begun to take on a gaunt appearance, almost as if he had become a ghost of his former self. Even though Blair was to start at the academy in a few weeks, he hadn't even mentioned it once, not even to Jim.
Jim knew how hard it had been for Blair to lose his life in such a matter and couldn't help but feel somehow responsible for the loss. Things had happened so quickly when Naomi had made the mistake of sending Blair's dissertation into the publisher, that Jim didn't even pause to think. He had done what seemed par for course in his relationship with Blair---he blamed him.
Blair then did the one thing Jim had honestly never expected Blair to do, he renounced his dissertation as a fraud, and in doing so gave Jim back his freedom.
Jim had been shocked beyond words at his partner's actions. He had done his best to let Blair know how much he appreciated what he had done, how much he appreciated him in his life. Even how sorry he was for wrongly blaming him in the first place. He had even went so far as to go to Simon and plead his case for making Blair his permanent partner, knowing the kid had nothing to go back to now that his academic dreams had all gone up in smoke.
He had foolishly hoped that would be enough, that that one small gesture would make everything all right. He should have known better. Why hadn't he learned the last time he blamed Blair, the young guide had died because of him. Now it seemed as if he was about to lose Blair again. There was no way he was about to let that happen.
Blair slowly pulled his car over and parked. Before him stood the siren that had haunted all these months, calling to him, begging him to come. Finally he had, and there was nothing left to do but the obvious, go and meet her.
She was grand. Just as grand as she had been the day he had died in her. Even though it was late into the evening, the fountain was still running. The sound of water hitting upon water deceptively peaceful, tranquil in it's song. She knew the truth, even if others didn't, he should have never come back. He should have died for good that day. Ever since his drowning, things had been wrong, and he had struggled to figure out why. Now he knew the truth for she had shown him. He should have died. There was only one way to make everything right. He was going to end the pain now as his siren desired. He could feel the pull from the fountain drawing him in with invisible arms, promising the comfort he so desperately sought. This would make everything right-- finally he could rest.
Jim's heart practically leapt out of his throat has the reality of what Blair had planned hit him hard. Without even pausing to think, he sprinted from the car, calling to his guide, pleading with him to stop. If Blair had heard, he didn't show it, for he never once slowed his pace as he headed towards his destination.
Jim finally caught up to his guide and reached out to grab him by the arm, intent on shaking some common sense into the young man for even thinking of doing such a thing. As he whirled Blair around he again felt the cold grip of fear as he looked, truly looked at the lost shaman. Blair's eyes held the vacant look of despair, almost as if zoned on the depression that was ripping into the young man's soul. Blair didn't even seem to see Jim, he looked past him as if still focused on the fountain. He tried to push past Jim, but had no success for Jim held him in place with a firm iron grip.
"NO!" was all Jim could muster to say, his distress at the situation he found himself in almost overwhelming in its intensity, leaving him almost without voice.
Blair gazed at him, with a sad somber expression on his face. Slowly he shook his head and spoke to his sentinel, hoping to make him understand. No matter how much Jim thought otherwise, he knew this had to be done. There was nothing left for him anymore, and he was growing weary of trying.
"Yes Jim, yes." Came the soft-spoken reply.
"NO! I will not let you do this!! How could you even think of doing this!! What is wrong with you???" Jim cried out, grasping even more tightly onto Blair's shoulders. Hoping somehow, someway he could shake some since into the young man, reach him somehow.
Blair turned his tortured gaze away from his sentinel, ashamed at having been caught trying take this way out of his problems. He couldn't answer his sentinel; there was nothing to say. He felt as if he had become a burden in Jim's life. A problem to be dealt with quickly handled, so Jim could get on with his life. He didn't want to cause anymore trouble; he just wanted to quietly disappear.
As if reading Blair's mind, Jim decided to bare his soul to the young guide. Something he knew he should have done months ago. More than the few token words of thanks he had given his friend at the Hospital. He needed to make Blair understand, help him to see how much he valued the young man. How without him, he could not function.
Guiding the distraught young man to a nearby bench, Jim proceeded to tell Blair everything. Starting from the beginning to the present. Making sure that Blair truly understood how needed he was, and how precious his life was to all who knew him, but mainly to Jim. And for once, Jim was able to tell his friend these things without hesitation. He was determined that this time, things would turn out differently. For now he truly understood? It was about friendship.
Jim was so nervous as he guided Blair towards the bench he actually felt faint. He knew that what ever was needed to restore his guide to his former self had to be done by him. The blessed protector felt ill equipped for the job though, seeing as how he had screwed this up many times over in the past. He stole a hesitant glance over at Blair and almost immediately regretted it. /God Blair looks so lost, what do I say, what do I do to make this right? / Jim ranted internally. Closing his eyes and saying a silent prayer he began.
There wasn't even a small acknowledgement that Jim had spoken; in fact Jim was beginning to think Blair had forgotten he was even there. For in fact the ex-anthropologist was again gazing at the fountain as if it held some kind of unseen power over the young man. The very thought chilled Jim to the core.
This time he grabbed his friend by his shoulders, forcing Blair to look at him, hoping to break the strange spell of the fountain.
"Blair, I need your full attention here buddy. I-I need you to focus in on me, to listen only to the sound of my voice because I need to tell you some things." Jim spoke softly mimicking the guide's tone that Blair had always used on him when he was zoning. "I need to tell you why you can't do this!"
Blair watched his partner with eyes tainted by too much stress, the glow having long since been tarnished, faded. He then started to speak, in a voice eerily devoid of all emotion, as if all feeling had long since stopped registering with the young man-
"What is it Jim?! Huh, what is there to be said now that couldn't have been said long ago? It doesn't really matter to me what you have to say or how you feel man. I'm am so way past caring about any of that anymore it isn?t even funny. I don't belong here anymore!!"
Jim winced as Blair's voice rose in pitch, an almost brutal assault on his heightened since of hearing.
"Blair at least give me a chance. Do you even realize how valuable your life is to all those around you?" He chose to ignore Blair's snort of disbelief and pressed onward.
"Everything that has gone wrong has had absolutely nothing to do with you at all, it has all been me. My fault. As a sentinel you?ve taught me many times over that I must listen to my guide. Even Incacha tried to tell me how important that was, and not once have I taken it seriously and look where it has gotten us." Jim paused trying desperately to mentally gather the words needed to salvage the young man's heart, for it had been badly badly broken.
"I am so so sorry for everything I've done directly and indirectly to hurt you, to cause you to even consider this as an option! Blair please, please don't ever think of doing something like this, I--I don't want to lose you again!" Jim's voice nearly broke on these words.
But Blair merely turned away and looked down, signifying in no uncertain terms the words were too little too late.
/Oh Chief, don't give on me now/ Jim moaned inside. What else could he do, so far nothing he had said had done any good, Blair wouldn't even look at him. There had be some way to make this right, to end his friend's suffering.
Then he came upon an idea as he unconsciously found him self tuning into the sound that had been in many a nightmare for the past few months. The sounds of the fountain, it was almost hypnotic in its tone, soothing yet unnerving at the same time. Realizing he was threatening to zone on the sound, and not trusting Blair to bring him out of it, he came to an abrupt decision. He needed to get Blair back to home base, safe and secure, and away from the distraction of this place. A place that had once been a thing of beauty, but now only spoke of death.
"We're going home." came the abrupt command, spoken in a way that left no room for argument. Grabbing Blair by the arm, he forced the distraught young man towards the truck. And as far away from the wretched fountain as he could get him.
Blair sat sullenly on the couch in the loft not sure which made him angrier, the fact that Jim had unceremoniously dragged him away from the fountain. Or the fact that now after all this time, NOW he wanted to talk. Realizing Jim was once again speaking to him, he tuned in deciding suddenly maybe he did want to hear what Jim had to say.
Jim once again spoke softly, as one would with a spooked animal of some sort, wanting to instill as much peace as possible into Blair's bruised psyche.
"Blair, tell me what I can do to make things right, how can I prove to you how much I appreciate everything you've done for me. That your friendship means more than anything to me, that I'd do anything, anything at all not to lose it!" Jim then waited knowing the ball had once again been placed in Blair's court. Hopefully the raw emotions behind his words would reach through to the young man before him.
Blair sighed deeply, slowly beginning to realize how much all of this was scaring Jim, honestly he had scared himself pretty badly. He knew Jim was sincere and that he truly wanted to help, but he just didn't know what to say. He hadn't wanted to cause the man anymore grief, in fact just the opposite. He had hoped to end the pain for everyone with one simple act. But he was beginning to realize he didn't want to now, no matter how badly he?d wanted just a short while ago. Realizing Jim was about to have a massive coronary awaiting his reply he finally spoke up.
"Jim man, uh, I don't know what would make things right. I thought I could handle being thought of as a fraud, but I can't. I can?t stand how everywhere I go, people treat me like crap. It's almost as if it's become their life's mission to see how much more miserable they can make me. Man you wouldn't believe the names I've been called, the things that have been said to me. I have been told not to come back to several places I shop at man. Told me I was no longer welcome, that they didn't wait on my kind." Blair spat out. His anger was again peaking as he remembered how hatefully the words had been flung at him. "But what makes me the most upset is that as your guide, it's my job to protect and watch over you. So I should be willing to make any sacrifice necessary. Especially if it concerns the good of the tribe. I shouldn't have any regrets man, but I can't get past this. I just can't!! How can I be your guide if I can't even handle this!!?
Blair was now visibly shaking, the flow of emotions almost threatening to overwhelm him in their intensity. Jim rose up from his seat as if to console the young man, but Blair dodged him with the grace of a linebacer. He didn't want to be consoled right now. He needed to get away, to process everything that had been said. He was feeling trapped. As if everything was closing in on him.
Jim kept his distance recognizing the beginnings of a panic attack in the young man. But he still had a burning question he desperately needed an answer to.
"Do you hate me Blair, do you wish we'd never met?" came the solemn question, voiced with tangible fear.
"NO! Man I would never think something like that." Blair vehemently replied, eyes flashing brightly with unshed tears. "I've loved you like a brother Jim, it's just that sometimes I can't help but feel a burden to you. More than once you've told me you wished things could go back to the way they were before we'd met. I feel as if I've lost everything here man, even you. I think you took for granted what my job, what my life's work meant to me. You have to realize, not everything in this partnership is solely about you. And I --- I can't go on with things this way." Blair turned away from his friend, not wanting to witness what effect his words might have had on Jim.
The effect was not what he expected as he felt himself being spun around and pulled and to an almost paralyzing brutal bear hug.
"You listen to me now Sandburg, and you listen well---You have NEVER been a burden to me, you've been a life saver on more than one occasion. I am so sorry for everytime I've made you feel unwanted, because nothing is further from the truth. I want you to stay in this partnership Blair, but your right, it can't go on the way it is." Jim slowly let a totally stunned and speechless Blair out of the bone-crushing embrace and glanced at his watch. /6am?!? We've been up talking for that long, well it was more than worth it/ Jim thought as he formulated a plan of action to begin a process of restoring his guide's self worth.
"You and I are going into the station today after you get some sleep, and we are going to let all our friends at the station in on the sentinel thing. We should have told them long ago, and they deserve to know the truth. Especially about you Blair. About the roll you play as my guide keeping my senses online, but more importantly about what you did to protect your sentinel and the 'tribe'." Jim ignored the look of total shock on Blair's face as he continued explaining his plan.
"Then we are going to have a little visit with the chancellor and let her know the truth also. Then I'm going to help her to see why I couldn't go public with my abilities, and we'll see if we can't get her to except another topic for your dissertation, you once told me you had enough to write 10 dissertations didn't you?" Jim questioned his friend.
Blair slowly blinked trying in vain to focus on the changed man in front of him. Things once again were moving to fast and he desperately needed them to slow down a bit. Taking a deep breath, he began
"Yeah, I've got enough to go several different way with a dissertation topic but----" Jim cut him off abruptly holding up a hand to silence him.
"Then I'm going to encourage her to re-instate you Blair, if she proves to be a little difficult, I'm sure the threat of us suing her and the university for falsely trying to publish a work of 'fiction' should help make her alittle more reasonable. Especially when it comes to light that the dissertation was never even formally submitted, but they went ahead with their plans anyway. Between Stephen and my father I'm sure we can get hold of some of the best lawyers in town and make things happen if need be. I'll even hold a press conference stating these 'facts' and my utter disappointment over how things were handled. And how upset I am over how wrongly you were treated by the university and the press."
Jim finally stopped having practically run out of breath. Blair simply continued staring at the sentinel in obvious shock at the sudden turn of events. For a minute Jim was once again over come with fear as he mistook Blair's silence for one of, but all thoughts of worry wore banished with Blair looked at him.
"You'd actually do all of that for me? Why, I thought ---I mean ,----why Jim?" Came the soft-spoken question. The young guide looked at him with eyes no longer dulled by distress and apathy, but once again alive with a glint of hope sparking in them.
"Because as you once told me long ago, 'it's about friendship' even though now I think it would be better to say--- It's about family. Which you definitely are Blair, you are my brother of choice, and as your blessed protector I'll do whatever it takes to ensure your well being. You've given up your life for me twice now Blair, and it's high time I return the favor. You've already given to much of yourself, and I need to repay you for all you've ever done for me." " I don't want you as a cop for my partner Blair; I want you as what you were always meant to be, a teacher, an anthropologist, and a guide to the sentinel. That's the partner I want. What do you say, are you willing to try?? I am." Having finally reached his emotional verbal peak, Jim fell silent anxiously awaiting Blair's reply.
He didn't have long to wait.
"Yes Jim, ----yes." Spoken with a smile that could have rivaled the stars with its intensity. A sense of peace settled over Blair's features, making him appear younger in the soft glow of the approaching dawn. For the first time in months he felt light as if a huge weight had been removed from around his heart. And he found he could breathe again, secure in his place at his sentinel's side. The siren that had called to him all this time had been robbed of her destructive power. She no longer had a hold of him. And slowly she faded from his memory as if swept away by a gentle breeze, sent away to torment him no more.
Seeing the change in his best friend's countenance the sentinel finally allowed himself to relax. He knew that Blair and him would be okay. There would still need to be more healing of old wounds, more words spoken, but he knew a powerful foe had been slain just now, and he reveled in the silent victory.
Switching to full mother hen mode Jim pulled Blair by the arm, directing him towards his bedroom. "Let's go chief, off to bed with you before you drop on me." Smiling as Blair interrupted with a face-cracking yawn. "You need to sleep, cause we've got a lot to do and your gonna need all your energy for it."
Blair smiled sleepily and nodded his head in submission as he trudged towards his room. Outside of the french doors he paused, then returned to his sentinel, capturing him an embrace akin to the fierceness behind a drowning man's clutches.
"Thank you." Came the sentinel soft words echoing Blair's deep gratitude at having been saved, in more than one way that morning.