Rating: PG

Disclaimer: See main page.

Written: Copyright July 2000 MaBrown. All rights reserved.

Author’s note: This is the second of two snippets I’m writing for two very helpful listsibs. This is for Dawn, for helping me out with my HTML and Word problems. :-) She requested a snippet involving what else...Blair angst :-) involving one or more of three of her favorite eps. I’ll let you all guess which eps they are and how many I used!

For those who don’t want spoilers to episodes they haven’t seen, or just want to know what they’ll be reading, feel free to jump ahead to the end of the snippet. I’ll post the spoiler ep info there for everyone to read.

Hope ya like!

What Lies Within

By MaBrown

Blair yawned mightily, shifting his backpack higher up on his shoulder as he walked into the small coffee shop. Exhaustion seemed to be something of a habit lately and the young man was growing weary of it. Sleep didn’t seem to be an option anytime soon considering the amount of papers currently stuffed into the worn backpack, waiting to be graded as soon as he got home. Not to mention he had a Sentinel waiting on him to go over some rather sensitive note from a murder case involving several young adults who had been students at Rainier. The anthropologist flashed back to the morning when the bodies of the missing students had been found in an abandoned warehouse. Warehouse…the word made Blair shiver slightly for some indefinable reason, but he chose not to dwell on the feeling. Rather he focused on what was needed in the present, and that was a tall, dark and rather strong cup of coffee. He’d deal with his dark thoughts another time. Of course, he reminded himself, it didn’t help that only a month ago he’d spent some unexpected time visiting Cascade General, thanks to overdosing on a rather wicked designer drug known as Golden. The hallucinations the drug caused had been horrific and the crash from the unstable high he’d experienced had sent him to the emergency room. After spending a few days hooked on a respirator, he’s finally awakened and been able to breathe on his own. He’d been released a few days after that, and spent the rest of his recuperation at home, under the watchful eye of an over-protective Sentinel. The doctor had warned him as he was checking out of the hospital that it would be awhile before his energy levels would return to normal. Of course, he’d probably feel better if he rested more. Right now, though, that simply just wasn’t an option.

Fifteen minutes later found him heading back out the door of the coffee shop, a large, steaming cup of the coveted brew in one hand, while digging for his keys in his pocket with the other. Finally snagging the keys, Blair deftly managed to open the car door and slid the backpack off his shoulder and onto the car seat. Holding the hot coffee steady, he moved the pack over to the passenger seat and slide into the driver’s seat without spilling anything. Shutting the door, he started the car and leaned back a moment, closing his eyes as he inhaled the wonderful aroma wafting from the hot liquid. His head jerked slightly as his eyes flew open, as he realized he was in danger of falling asleep yet again. Man, he was going to have to get more rest, this narcoleptic act was getting old. He’d almost zonked out several times during the day, much to his students’ amusement. Shaking himself to a more alert state, Blair lifted the cup to his lips and took a long sip as he gazed out of the window, watching the steady flow of people pass by his idling car.

A moment later, a tall thin figure dressed in all black and wearing a dark hat passed by the car and then stopped, slowly turning back to stare at Blair. The anthropologist felt his blood turn cold as the man leaned his direction, pointing a finger at him. Thin strands of blond hair were dangling from under the hat and the face bore a resemblance to man Blair had thought to be dead. That’s what Jim had told him wasn’t it? He was dead? He couldn’t be alive…no…not possible.

The dark figure leaned forward, his finger almost a deadly weapon as a rough voice erupted from the man. "I can be you. I could be you!!" The harsh words flew from the thin lips and caused Blair’s heart to stop it’s frantic pounding. He felt his breathing stop as the words sank into his tired brain, registering with a deep, hidden fear he’d allowed to stay dormant for so long…so long. It had been what…a year or more since he’d even allowed the name to enter into his mind.

No...NO!! This was NOT happening! Lash is dead!! Blair looked around frantically at the other passerbys who seemed oblivious to the screaming man in front of them. What in the world…didn’t anybody see this man?? Was the world becoming so jaded that people could completely ignore a maniac going off in the middle of a parking lot?

"I can be YOU!!" the stranger screamed, his once blue eyes beginning to glow with an odd golden hue, his face alit with a fire that seemed to have sprung from out of nowhere. The accusing finger turning into a pounding fist on the hood of Blair’s beloved car. "You aren’t worthy of the life you lead…so I’m taking it as mine!" The burning figure snarled, as he continued pounding away.

Shock chased away reason, as the young man put the car in reverse and slammed his foot down hard on the gas pedal. The car backed away from the haunting figure, swerving dangerously into the street. Blair didn’t risk a glance back toward the man as he put the car in drive, and sped down the street and away from one of the main figures in his nightmares. The coffee he had savored only moments earlier, fell from his bloodless fingers, spilling the hot concoction all over his left leg and down onto the floor boards. The young man took no notice of the burning pain as he sped towards his home, the shock of what had just transpired settling deep within his soul. One word playing through his mind like a broken record, almost a mantra…. Lash, Lash…Lash! Oh man, no…no! And the worst part of the whole thing was…he was one of the fire people!

They burn...like ashes...and you think they’re dead! But they’re not…they’re not…and Lash…Lash was alive! And coming for Blair.

Blair haphazardly parked the car in one of the few spaces left and got out of the vehicle as fast as humanly possible. His thoughts were a potpourri of fear and terror as he knocked the front door leading into the building open and ran smack into a 6ft 3in barrier with piercing blue eyes. Strong hands gripped his arms, and Blair irrationally fought against the firm hold. He needed to get into the loft, away from the street and the crazies that roamed outside. Away from the golden hue that lit the sky, and fired the fear deep inside of him. He was losing his mind, going crazy. He needed to get away and hide.

"Blair! Buddy, snap out of it!" A voice commanded from somewhere above him. His movements stilled as recognition sparked inside his fractured mind. Jim…he had to tell him he was wrong. Oh man was he wrong. Lash was out there…out there waiting with the rest of them. Waiting with the fire people. Waiting to take over…his life.

He felt the grip tighten a bit as the Sentinel spoke, his words tight with worry. "Blair, buddy. I need for you to calm down and tell me what happened. Please, Chief, your heart’s pounding through the roof right now. Please…what happened?"

Blair pulled away from his friend and shook his head. "Fine now, j-just saw…c-couldn’t be it. N-Not possible…y-you said he was d-dead. It’s nothing, man. I’m just tired, need to get more sleep." Blair started shivering slightly, his thoughts racing past one another, vying for his attention. Sleep…that’s all it was. He was hallucinating, the doctor had told him this could happen. That had to be it, there were no fire people and Lash was dead. Sleep, that’s what he needed, sleep. Everything would be so much clear after eight solid hours of uninterrupted rest. He wasn’t crazy, just sleep deprived. Please let that be it, please don’t let him lose his mind.

"I’m fine now, Jim. Just got spooked, he’d dead. I know that now." Blair’s voice shook a little, betraying his vain attempt to appear calm.

Dead?! Who was supposed to be dead? Jim frowned slightly while taking in his Guide’s pale, sweaty face and the odd dark stain on his pants leg that smelled like…coffee? What in the world had happened to his partner in the few hours since he’d last seen him earlier in the morning? His sensitive nose picked up another scent layered underneath the smell of coffee. Burnt flesh. Blair had burned himself? With the coffee perhaps? Jim knew he wouldn’t get any answers out of his friend in his current state, so he reached out and gently grabbed the young man by a trembling shoulder. Guiding him toward the elevator’s doors, Jim pushed the button for the third floor.

"C’mon, Blair. Let’s get you upstairs and take a look at that leg." Jim’s words seemed to finally reach through to the younger man and Blair nodded slowly.

"O-Okay, Jim. Sounds like a plan." Blair nodded sluggishly, his earlier exhaustion returning with a vengeance. "Let’s go home."

Jim steered his wavering Guide into the loft apartment they shared and softly closed the door behind them. He then guided his distressed friend into the bathroom and instructed him to remove his damp pants. Jim left his friend and headed into the kitchen to retrieve the few items he needed to treat the Blair’s burn. He had just gathered up his things when his hearing spiked and suddenly the frantic beating of his Guide’s heart overwhelmed him.

He rushed into the bathroom only to find Blair still in his damp jeans, staring off at nothing, his face pale and sweaty. Jim swallowed in a tight throat, as a not so distant memory resurfaced in his mind’s eye sparking a painful moment of deja vu. Golden. He looked just like that when he was fighting the vicious hallucinations the drug had inflicted on him. Jim felt his own pulse quicken at the sickening realization. The doctor at the hospital had said this could happen, but Jim had ignored those prophetic words at the time. He had simply been happy to have his Guide alive, safe and sound. Anything else had been pushed to the back of his mind, worries saved for another day.

Flashback, Blair was having a flashback, Jim realized. That must have been what had him so spooked earlier. Cursing softly, Jim placed his items on the bathroom sink, and slowly approached his troubled young friend. Just as he reached out to touch the younger man, Blair softly uttered a sentence that sent sickly chills down the Sentinel’s spine.

"They’re ashes and you think they’re dead, but they’re not." Blair raised his glassy eyes to gaze at his Sentinel. "It’s a flashback isn’t it? Please, Jim, tell me they’re not real. Tell me Lash isn’t one of them…that he’s dead. You said he’s dead, Jim. You promised me that he was gone. Tell me this is just a flashback, Jim. Tell me I’m not losing my mind." Blair’s voice cracked at the end of his plea, and Jim’s eyes closed briefly against the intense pain he felt at his Guide’s needless suffering. Something inside the Sentinel broke and he reached for Blair, pushing the younger man down onto the toilet seat. Jim knelt down in front of the other man, and placed his hands on each side of Blair’s chilled face. Making sure he had his Guide’s attention, he began to console his friend.

"Blair, you’re not losing your mind. Remember what the Dr. Gray said before you checked out of the hospital. He said you might suffer from flashbacks, and that’s all that’s happening now. This was just a flashback, buddy. You’re fine now. Lash is dead and he’s never going to touch you again. You’re safe, buddy, trust me." Jim spoke softly, somewhat relieved to hear the frantic beating of Blair’s heart subside, slowing to a much more normal pace.

Wanting to be sure he was really reaching his friend, Jim pressed further.

"Do you understand, Blair? You’re fine; this is just a flashback. You’ve just been burning the candle at both ends a little much lately and it’s catching up with you. Dr. Gray said you’d be more susceptible to something like this when you’re stressed or overtired. And you’re definitely both. So relax, Chief. We’ll call the doctor in the morning and let him know what happened, but trust me. You’re fine. Got it?" Jim pasted a smile on his face, hoping his Guide believed him, hoping his own fears weren’t showing through.

Blair nodded, and pasted his own smile on for the Sentinel.

"Got it. Not crazy, just tired. Sorry, man. Don’t mean to flake out. IT was just so real, so real. I…I was…" Blair’s voice trailed off as he looked away from the probing gaze of his friend. Swallowing deeply, he finally spoke.

"I was scared, Jim. Really scared. I didn’t want to freak out like I did at the precinct. I tried to hold it together, and headed straight for the loft. I didn’t want to…to hurt anyone on accident. Like I almost did before."

Jim winced as he heard the deep guilt in his partner’s voice. The kid still hadn’t gotten over his guilt over what had happened, he still believed that somehow he was at fault. Jim knew he needed to really sit down and talk this out with the anthropologist. One look at the sagging shoulders of his friend told the detective that Blair was too tired to really listen. He’d discuss it with Blair again tomorrow, after the younger man had rested and was in a more receptive frame of mind.

"Blair, you did just fine. You handled the situation perfectly. No one got hurt, not this time, and certainly not before. So don’t create more things to worry about. Let’s get that burn cleaned up and dressed, and then we’ll eat dinner. You look worn out and I know you’re about ready to drop. But before that happens, I want you fed and watered. Think you can handle that?" Jim’s voice took on a slightly teasing tone, hoping to chase away the last of the worries plaguing the young man, at least for the time being.

Blair smiled crookedly, "You make it sound as if you’re talking about a horse. Feed and water me, huh, then put me to out pasture for the evening, is that it?"

Jim smiled. "Yep, that sounds about right, Junior. Now quiet, and strip."

Blair grinned micheviously as he stood up and gestured to the doorway. "Now, Jim that line might work on your dates, but ah, I prefer to undress privately if you don’t mind." Blair tiredly waggled his eyebrows, as he pushed Jim toward the door.

Jim merely shook his head as he left the bathroom, shutting the door behind him, pleased to hear even that small joke come from his Guide. He knew Blair wasn’t at all bashful, but merely needed a few moments alone to collect his thoughts and steady his mind. Hopefully, they would sail pass this new hurdle and move beyond this painful moment unscathed. Jim would care for his friend’s burn and make sure he ate sufficiently, before shooing him off to bed. Maybe the night would pass without further incident. He’d call the doctor in the morning like he’d promised Blair, and make sure there was nothing further they needed to do. He prayed silently that this would be the last time Blair would experience a flashback. He didn’t know how Blair would handle another episode, and honestly…he wasn’t sure if he could handle it either.

Lash, on top of everything else, the kid had flashed back to Lash. Lash and the fire people, all in one day. No wonder Blair had been so shaken, that combination was enough to give anyone a panic attack. Shaking his head sadly, Jim rubbed a weary hand over his face as he paced the living room area. Maybe Blair needed to visit a psychiatrist. Heck, maybe he needed to go to, so they could get rid of these insecurities and haunting memories. Something to think about, Jim mused silently as he came to a stop in front of the French door leading to the balcony.

But he’d do whatever was needed, and do it gladly. That was a blessed protector’s job, and it was a role he took seriously.

Jim smiled as his Guide called to him, letting him know he was ready to be tended to. The Sentinel left his post and went to care for the most important member of his tribe.


Spoilers: BMB and Cypher. Two of Dawn’s favorite episodes. :-) Dawn had also mentioned "Dead Drop" as a possible snippet choice, but I couldn’t fit it in as I originally had hoped to. Hopefully she and the rest of you enjoyed this snippet!!! Feedback, as always, is welcomed! Private or public…I’m easy!

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