Notes: Started many, many years (about 2) ago, but not in a galaxy so far away, after all college is college for the most part.<G> This is a sentinel/ptl xover story that starts after the last Sentinel ep ::gag:: happened. It is also a prequel to Coincidence? Not!, which is in the PtL index.
Summary: Blair's lie is fixed but now he has to find a new path in life.
Making it all go away By Voracity
Blair walked out of the meeting with his dissertation board and took a deep breath. "It's over," he told Jim and Simon. "They accepted it and my rationale behind the press conference and agreed to list it as confidential for security reasons." He flopped down onto the floor and tossed his briefcase a short distance away. "They also suggested that I not stay here, that after all that's happened it might be prudent to go to another school."
Jim groaned, sitting down on the floor beside his Guide. "So, are they going to help you?"
Blair nodded. "They'll give me good recommendations and letters stating what happened. I'm advised to go find a small school, someplace very quiet and distant where research isn't the only way to get attention." He shook his head, leaning down to rest it on his knees. "This is just such a bad thing."
Simon nodded, grabbing Blair's briefcase. "Let's go someplace we can discuss this in detail, huh?" Blair nodded and Jim helped him up. "Food?"
"Not hungry," Blair answered. "Loft?"
"Not really," Jim said. "Too much crap there to remember, including your Mother."
Blair groaned and sighed. "Park or Forest?"
Jim and Simon looked at each other then out the window at the drizzle. "Park shelters," they said together.
Blair nodded, walking down toward his office. "I've got to go finish packing."
Jim steered him away. "Leave it, Chief, I'll come help you do it later tonight." Blair nodded, letting himself be led out to Simon's car; after all it had been Simon that had called his board back together and had helped him get his degree, jeopardizing his own safety to help Blair tell the truth so it could be covered back up.
They made it to the park, traffic being light at that time of the afternoon. Blair didn't wait for Jim to get his umbrella out, he just started to walk through the cold rain toward a distant and empty picnic shelter. Jim looked at Simon and shrugged, both men following him.
When they got there, and scared off the lone occupant that had barely beaten them to the safety of the shelter, Blair laid down on a table, covering his eyes.
"Sandburg, at least they know the truth and the academic world will too. You're getting your Ph.D. still and almost everything has worked out all right." Simon patted the younger man's leg. "And you know that the badge is still offered to you when and if you want it."
"Simon, I love you dearly, but I'm not a cop or even cop material." He moved his arm long enough to look at his friend. "We both know that."
Jim sighed, sitting down next to Blair's head. "Yeah, we do. Now all we have to do is figure out what to do about all this." He waved around. "What exactly are they willing to do for you?"
Blair sat up and started to tick points off on his fingers. "They're willing to get my diss accepted, but not published. They're willing to keep the truth classified unless and until it becomes needed by someone, preferably with the problem itself or a potential Guide."
"Then you were totally straight with them?" Simon asked. "About Guides and all that stuff?"
Blair smiled. "Yeah, them and the six extra people there that didn't want to believe until another Doctor who specialized in Native religions was brought in and verified what I had told them. She actually filled in a few gaps for me." He smiled. "She's always been amazing to work with."
Jim grunted, poking Blair's shoulder to get him back to the point. "So, the President and the Dean will see that you get your Ph.D., quietly of course, and you'll be able to get a job, just not someplace like Rainier where you'll be in a spotlight, right?"
Blair nodded, licking his dry lips. "Yeah. They're looking for a nice quiet school for me where I won't ever have to do much research or field work, except maybe some with Native Americans."
"So, then, you're moving away," Jim stated. He got up, walking out into the rain, leaving his umbrella.
Blair ran after him. "Wait, Jim!" He caught the older man by the arm and spun him around. "I told them everything - you, me, everything - and they're trying to find a place where we can both be."
Jim shook his head. "Chief, my life's here. My job, my friends, everything but you has always been here."
"You can get another job, your friends will still be around, and you can write, visit, or call them whenever you want. What else do you have here?"
"My calling," Jim said quietly. "I'm the Sentinel of the Great City, this city. I'm not sure if that'll work someplace else." He shrugged out of Blair's firm grip and walked away again. "I've got to think."
Blair shrugged, trudging back to the shelter. He sat on one of the picnic tables and held his head with his hands, elbows between his spread knees. "I don't know what to do. I can't leave him, that's clear to me now. I can't stay." He looked up at Simon. "Have you ever had one of these days?"
"Can't stay, can't go?" He nodded. "Yeah, during my divorce. I had too many times I wanted to walk out, needed to walk away for my own good, but had to stay for Joan and Darryl. This is really the same thing, you know. You're divorced from what you thought was your path in life and now you're searching for a new one." He lit a cigar and moved a little farther away so the smoke wouldn't blow in Blair's face.
"I know. It is like that, death of a dream and all that, but what do I do now?" He looked out through the rain, searching for some sign of Jim. "What do we do now?" he asked himself quietly.
Blair was packing up his office, dealing with the accumulation of all the odds and ends in his desk, when Jim knocked on the door. "Want help?"
"Sure, come on in and pull up a box of my life." He waved a hand at the empty boxes. "You can start on the books if you wouldn't mind."
Jim nodded, closing the door behind him. He picked up a box and headed for the nearest shelf. "I got a cover for the bed of the pickup. We should be able to move it all in one load that way and put it into storage somewhere."
"Over on Lake St. I've already rented one of those 'you keep the key' places." Blair put the full box down before leaning back in his chair. "So, did you have a good think?"
Jim nodded, folding the top back down, taping the box closed. "I'm sorry about the way I left, but I had to do that." He looked up briefly and moved the box to the pile of full ones. "I still haven't figured it out, I don't know what to do."
Blair laughed shortly. "I'm going to leave and you're going to figure it out. That's what we're going to do." He shook his head. "I talked to two of the schools on the list my Advisor handed me today, there were fifteen or so on it. He had called each one personally to tell them what was going on." Blair grabbed another box and started on another drawer. "I've sent resumes to all of them and both the interviews went pretty well. One may have a place and one definitely has one, they just need to run it past the hiring committees." Blair got frustrated, dumping the drawer down into the box, slamming it back into place. "You'd think, after all I've went through here lately, that this would be easy."
Jim came over and hugged his friend to him. "No, it's not. You're ending one part of your life and moving onto another part. That's never easy, not even for those with a lot of practice." He held Blair while he got it out, let him vent his frustration and grief on his chest. When he was done, Jim stepped back a few paces and looked down. "Better?"
"Some," Blair said quietly, going back to getting his desk packed up.
Jim nodded, going back to the books, carrying loads down as soon as they were done so Blair could have a little privacy while he said goodbye.
Jim handed over the mail, knowing it was all for Blair about his new position. He sat down and waited while his friend opened them, sealing their fate. Finally it came down to two piles: acceptances and rejections. Jim watched as the pile of rejections grew, the acceptances not getting any higher after the first two.
Blair opened the last letter and sighed, placing it in the acceptance pile. "So, we have three possibles." He looked around the loft, seeing it with eyes that were making memories to tide him over. "I'm going to go research the schools." He went into his bedroom and closed the door softly.
Jim picked up the three letters and looked at the states: California near the desert, Illinois not far away from Chicago, and Vermont at a school founded by a commune. He smiled and thought about Blair being in his element there, then sobered up when he realized how far away that really was.
He got up, heading into the kitchen to get a drink. "Blair, would you like some tea?" he called.
"No, thank you though," was the whisper-soft answer.
Jim poured his beer out into a glass, tossing the can into the recycling bin. He headed back to the couch and looked over the rejection letters. Most said they didn't think they would fit his needs, and a few said that the position was more public than Blair had wanted. A few came out and said the truth though, their school's board couldn't deal with the problems Blair's public admission caused. He tossed them back down then straightened up the pile. When Blair came out and caught him doing it, he smiled slightly. "Sorry, had to do it, see for myself."
Blair just nodded and grabbed the three acceptance letters, heading back to his computer.
Jim sat back and waited, knowing it wouldn't be too long before he knew their fate.
Jim looked up and smiled at the delivery man. "Did you need something?"
The man nodded and handed over a packet for Blair, silently handing Jim the clipboard to sign.
"Thank you," Jim said, tipping him and watching him leave. He got up, going into Simon's office, where Blair was hiding, and handed it to him.
Blair looked at it and raised an eyebrow before tearing into the top of the envelope. He pulled out the contents, reading over the cover letter. "I'm being offered a not-really teaching, research position at a private foundation."
Jim hissed and was handed the letter. "San Francisco?"
Simon pointed out the window to the rain. "Nicer weather, not too far."
Blair nodded. "Yeah, not too hot, not too cold." He looked down and whistled. "I know these people, I got a grant from them in my Master's program." He handed over the brochure to Simon. "Great people, very nice. The head of the foundation is a great guy. Dutch I think."
Simon looked it over, whistling at the picture of their headquarters. "A castle?"
"Um-huh. In the bay on an Island." Blair nodded, taking it back, handing it to Jim. "I like this one. A lot actually, and I can teach too. They said a part time teaching position is offered with it."
Jim reread the cover letter. "It says it's at a private college in the city."
"Yeah, I think I know which one. Derek, the guy who's the President of the foundation, teaches there sometimes." He shrugged. "Maybe I'll be doing the classes with him, who knows."
Jim handed everything back and grimaced. "So then, your mind's made up?"
Blair shook his head. "Not really. I'm going to wait a few days and think about it." He looked over at his partner. "You'll be the first person to know."
Jim nodded and went back to his desk to do some more paperwork.
"Blair," Simon said, "what would happen if you left?"
Blair sighed, sinking down further in his chair. "I don't know. He could start to zone, could get lost in one if he thinks I'm leaving him permanently. He could stop functioning all together as a Sentinel. He might just get depressed for a while then decide it's for the better." He took a sip of his cold coffee. "No one's sure, it's not been written anywhere. All I *do* know is that if we're bonded like we're supposed to be and he dies, I will too. If something should happen to me, there's a sixty percent chance he'd die then."
"Why? I mean why so uneven?"
"Because a Sentinel can find another Guide, but a Guide only usually runs into one Sentinel per lifetime. I've already been the exception to the rule." Blair looked out at Jim, seeing him staring. "I'm going to go talk to Jim." He got up and walked out, heading to the detective's desk. "Hey man, I know you heard. What's going through your head?"
"I was just thinking about what you said." He looked up with the most pitiful expression Blair had ever seen. "Are you leaving me? I mean for good? I know we'll have to be apart most of the time."
Blair sat in the chair next to Jim's. "Jim, I won't lie to you. No, I don't want to leave you, never have. Yes, we'll have to be apart for a while and if you want, you'll always have a place with me. No matter where I go." He touched Jim's arm to add weight to his last statement. "No matter where I go, you're more than welcome to come with me and be with me, travel with me."
Jim nodded. "I just don't know if I can do that, Blair."
Blair smiled sadly. "So that's what it takes to get you to say my name, huh? Well I guess I ought to destroy my life more often." He patted Jim's hand, getting up and going to the bathroom.
Jim shook his head, going back to pretending to do his paperwork, thinking about his choices and what they really meant.
Blair smiled at the older man across the desk. "I was surprised when I got your letter, Doctor Rayne. I've followed some of your Egyptian work in the past and had gotten a grant from the Luna Foundation earlier in my schooling. I'm very impressed with the work you do here." He held up a hand as his cell phone rang. "Excuse me for a minute, would you please?" The older man nodded.
"Hello?" Blair answered.
"Sandburg, it's Simon. Jim's zoning and we can't bring him out. It's been almost an hour, Megan and I had to move him to the car and make up an excuse."
"All right, put the phone next to his ear." He covered the receiver. "I need to take this out in the hall, excuse me for a second?" Derek nodded again and Blair walked out of the office, leaning against the far wall. "Jim? Jim, this is Blair, you've got to snap out of it. You're scaring the natives there, man."
Jim groaned Blair's name, letting out a deep breath. "How long?" Simon answered him, barely audible to Blair. "I'm sorry, Chief, I know I need to be more careful."
"Jim, careful isn't going to work. I'll be home late tomorrow and we'll work on it then, okay?"
"Yeah, thanks Chief." Jim hung up.
Blair turned off his phone before walking back into the office. "I'm sorry about that, my partner at home needed me to help him for a minute."
Derek smiled. "Would that be the Sentinel you were helping?" Blair got his deer in the headlights look. "Don't worry, we see strange things every day here and your Detective Ellison is more than welcome to come with you. We actually expected him to join with you."
Blair gave a nervous little laugh. "Um, how did you..."
"We're associated with someone who was brought in to determine your fate. We've also had reports from former members about your research and were told to keep an eye on you and it." He waved around the office. "What you see here is not only a foundation for the study of artifacts, but also a group of individuals who deal with the strange and unusual daily."
Blair smiled. "So, are you part of that group that I ran across last month in a private journal? The Legacy?"
Derek blanched some. "Yes, we are, as would you be if you joined. Both of you actually." He steepled his fingers, twiddling his joined fingers. "You see, this house has fallen on hard times for members. In the last few years, we've lost one long time member and one recent addition to the house, not to mention a few people who might have stayed after temping but decided that they liked it elsewhere better. Our house is one of the most active in our organization and we need people like you and Detective Ellison. Both of your skills would be of great help here."
Blair smiled, a little sadly. "Jim's not sure if he can leave Cascade or not," he said quietly. "I would like to join, but I can't be sure about him."
Derek nodded, pushing over a folder. "This is yours, your contract and another for your partner if he decides to join as well."
"Um, we're not that sort of ..."
Derek held up a hand. "I realize that also, but you two have worked together as partners for quite a while now and are recognized as such. Here would be the same."
Blair picked up the folder to play with it, turning it around and around. "So, may I take this and show it to him?"
"Definitely. We would have it no other way." Derek smiled kindly. "You are both always welcome here in this house, whenever he wants to join."
Blair nodded and got up, shaking Derek's hand. "I'll be in touch early next week. You can count on me, but I'll try to get him to come too." Derek nodded and Blair left the castle on Angel Island.
"Jim, man, I'm telling you that they're more than willing to take both of us."
"What would I do? Become a security guard or something?" He snorted. "No thanks, I think I'll stay here for a while."
Blair sat beside his hurting friend to pat his leg. "They have another guy there, a former Seal. He investigates and things too." He showed Jim the personnel packet Derek had given him. "See, just these three and they're looking for new people. People with your skills." Blair got up to start pacing. "I've done some checking on them. Did you know that they help the San Francisco Police on occasion, mostly on serial killers and the like, but also on cult and occult matters?" He turned to face Jim. "You're not going to become a security guard and I'm sure you could consult too."
Jim handed it back and nodded. "I just don't know..."
"Then come with me when I go and *talk* to the man. That's all I'm asking, that you talk to Derek, hear what he has to say, to offer." Blair leaned over the back of the couch next to Jim's head. "He knew who you were without me telling him. Knew knew you, not just knew you existed. He mentioned you by name, man. That in itself points to a large information gathering capability. I'm sure you would be able to design security and things along with the all the other stuff." He touched Jim's shoulder. "Please, just come and listen to him."
"Knew me, as in knew who I was?" Blair nodded. "So then, they got a copy of your dissertation, right?"
Blair shook his head. "There are only three copies in existence: mine on my computer, the hard copy we gave Simon as a just-in-case, and the one that my mother sent off which is now in Darryl's possession on a diskette. My *diss* board didn't even get a copy of it, they didn't want to risk it getting out."
Jim finally nodded slowly. "All right, I'll listen to him. I'm not going to promise you anything, but I will listen to what the man has to say." He looked up at his smiling roommate. "Are you happy now?"
"No, I would be ecstatic if you would just take a leap of faith and trust me here and join too. But yes, I'll be happy enough when you've just listened and talked to him. Okay?"
Jim nodded and grinned. "Does that mean that you're buying dinner?"
Blair shook his head and picked up the phone. "Okay, but I get to pick."
"You know I don't care as long as it looks edible and is pronounceable." He smiled. "And I mean that in the nicest way of course."
"Jim," Blair sighed, "sometimes you just have to try new things."
"Me?" Jim shook his head. "No thanks, I've eaten more than my share of inedible things that I *could* pronounce, I don't really need to branch out into the realm of things I can't." He grabbed his jacket and held the door open for his partner. "After you."
Simon looked over the vacation request form and frowned. "So, you're leaving?" he asked his detective.
Jim shook his head and sat down, sipping some of the coffee Simon had given him. "No. Not for a while, if at all. Blair's asked that I go and talk to his new boss in San Francisco; he wants both of us to join and so does Blair." Jim grimaced and put down the Styrofoam cup so he wouldn't crush it. "I don't know what to do, Simon. If I stay and he leaves, I'll have problems. If I go with him, I have to leave all my friends and everything I've worked for here." He hunched over a little, seeming to shrink. "What do I do?" he asked quietly.
"You do what your heart demands," Simon said calmly. "You've got to decide what's best for you. Not what's best for both of you, but for yourself."
"That's selfish of me," Jim said, looking up. "I can't abandon Blair like that. What if something happens to him?"
Simon leaned forward and put his arms on the desk. "Jim, I know this may come as a shock, but that man is a *grown * man. He can take care of himself. And from what little you've both told me, they'll take care of him too."
Jim nodded. "I know, but I'm his Sentinel, his blessed protector." He smiled wanly. "I'm the one that saves his life, the one he runs to when he's gotten into trouble."
Simon shook his head. "Jim, you're the reason he gets into trouble."
"That's not fair, sir. It's not my fault that things keep happening to him."
"And how many of those things have happened because he was working with you?"
Jim grabbed his chest and frowned. "That's cruel, Simon." He stood up and left the office, going back to his desk.
Simon looked down at the paperwork, frowning. "I hope you know what you're getting into, Detective, I really do." He signed the innocent piece of paper, laying it into his mail tray so it could go where it was needed.
Jim stood in the foyer of the castle on Angel Island, looking around. He took in all the art work, the old wood and its patina that said it had been lovingly cared for over many years. He looked up as he heard someone coming down the stairs.
"Goot day, Detective Ellison," a distinguished looking man said. He was dressed in a tastefully expensive suit that gave him a certain glow. "I'm Derek Rayne, head of the Luna Foundation. Welcome to my home." He shook Jim's hand and led him toward the office.
"This is a great place," Jim said, looking at all the things that decorated the hallway.
"Thank you. Most of the art is the foundation's, but some is mine." He smiled, pushing a button to open his door. "This way, please," he said, letting Jim walk in ahead of him.
Jim walked in and sat in a chair facing the window. Outside he could see part of the gardens and some peacocks strolling around. "This is an inspiring view. You must look out at it often."
Derek took his seat and laughed. "You have no idea." He smiled at Jim. "Our residents are sometimes a little, shall we say, difficult to deal with." His smile got just a little wider. "My mate is quite a handful sometimes. He's our resident security expert."
Jim nodded, remembering the bios Blair had made him read before they left. "Mr. Boyle, right?" Derek nodded. "So, Blair tells me he's coming here to work for you."
"Yes, he is. He's accepted a research and investigative position with our organization. We think he's going to be a great asset." Derek got a sad look. "Our resident language expert left us quite a while ago, over a disagreement, and we've been looking for someone with Blair's qualifications and experiences for quite some time."
Jim nodded. "Yeah, he's a handy person to have around. He seems to store a lot of knowledge in that head of his." He grinned. "Not all of it of the useful sort."
Derek laughed. "Yes, we've found that out. He and I had a long discussion last night about table manners in ancient cultures." Jim shook his head, laughing too. "So, what can I make you say to come with him?"
"Ah, a direct man that's also an academic." Jim shook his head. "Not much really, I don't think I would fit in here. You already have someone with my skills."
Derek sat back in his chair and looked around the room for a minute before answering. "Jim, may I call you that?" Jim nodded. "Jim, we're in need of an investigator. In our line of work, we see many strange occurrences that we must figure out. We - I, Blair, and the rest of my house - all believe that you are suited for that particular job; Blair in particular has been singing your praises for your investigative abilities." He leaned forward. "I'm also sure that Blair has told you that I know about your other abilities. I'm more than willing to keep you two together as a team and am prepared to help Blair in any way he needs it to keep you working well."
Jim nodded. "He had told me that you mentioned my being a Sentinel and I know you won't go around telling the world, but what use would it be if I moved here? My life, my duty, is in Cascade."
"James, your duty is wherever you pledge to guard." He pulled a book out of one of the desk drawers, and pushed it over so Jim could read it. "This has been in our archives for years now. Blair has been researching over the last few days, trying to find a reason for you to come with him."
Jim looked down so he could read the information presented to him. "This makes a valid case, but that isn't my situation. A lot of people would die if I left."
"Realistically speaking," Blair said, walking into the office and sitting in the other chair, "they're probably going to die even if you're there. Without a guide, you're back to square one." He patted Jim's hand. "I can help you find another guide, Megan even, but it's going to take time to train them to help you. While that happens, you, they, and the city will all be vulnerable."
Jim sighed, closing the book, putting it gently onto the edge of the desk. "I understand that, but my life and duty is still there." He turned to his former partner, touching his arm. "I'll be here for a few more days, at the hotel." He stood up to shake Derek's hand. "Nice to have met you." Derek nodded and Jim walked out of the castle and back down to the ferry dock.
Blair shook his head, watching his partner's progress from the room. "Stubborn, a textbook example of it."
"Scared," Derek corrected. "He's scared of leaving the life he's created and the support group he's created for himself."
Blair nodded at the wisdom. "I'm going to finish unpacking." He stood up and looked out the window. "Do I have anything to do tonight besides learn the house?" Derek shook his head so the younger man nodded and left, going back to his new room.
Derek turned to look out his window, willing the sight of the perfect gardens to soothe him. "He'll change his mind, Blair, don't worry. He'll be as troubled as you will while you're apart."
Jim flopped down onto the bed and dug out his cell phone. He hit the speed dial and waited until Simon answered. "It's me," he said.
#What can I do for you this fine night, Jim?#
"I'm not interrupting, am I?"
#No. How did it go?#
"Well, he tried to prove to me that it was in the best interest of both of us to be there, pulled out an impressive book to show me an entry."
#Did it help?#
"No," Jim said, lying back and sighing. "I don't want to give up my life to go start another one, not at this late stage of life."
#What did the book say? Better yet, what did Blair say?#
"Blair said I could find someone else to do his job, and he would train them, but it would leave us and the city vulnerable while it happened." Jim shifted some, getting just a little more comfortable. "He's disappointed."
#Do you blame him?#
"No. No, I don't. He's got to be here, it's the perfect place for him. They have a library that's got more books than you could imagine, many of them the obscure type that Blair tends to lug around. They've got a huge garden, sculpted bushes and all. The castle itself should be a national treasure museum; some of the artwork was priceless. They've got antiques spread around carelessly so you can look at it. None of it's guarded. It's a thief's dream."
Simon laughed. #I'm sure they've got it guarded, it just seems not to be.#
"Oh, they've got security all right. Gate house guards with guns, guards roaming around on patrol with guns. Electric fences and security checks. It's like the White House."
Simon laughed again. #So...#
"I can't do it. What would happen in Cascade if I did? What would happen the next time some terrorist takes over Rainier or an elevator or the vault."
#Jim, have you ever thought about why they come here? We have more terrorists than New York, Baltimore, D.C., and Los Angeles combined. Did you ever think that they're drawn here because of you?"
Jim snorted. "I'm sending out terrorist vibes?"
#Maybe, you never know. Maybe they're coming here because they know that there's a challenge here, someone that can equal them.#
Jim thumped his head on the pillow. "If that's true, then I can't move here either." He rolled over onto his side. "What am I going to do?"
#You're going to do what you think is right for the both of you. No matter what I say or tell you or try to convince you of, you're going to end up there with him. And we'll miss you.#
"Simon, I can't do that. I can't just leave and start again here."
#Jim, what's going to happen if you leave that man there? How long is it going to be before he's hurt or taken hostage or lands in a hospital bed again? Hmm? Who's going to take care of him when he's been working for days at a time and forgets to eat, or walk behind him when he goes shopping to make sure he's not kidnapped in the frozen vegetables? Can they take care of him like you do? Are they willing to risk their lives to watch over *your* Guide?#
"I don't know," Jim said softly, hanging up. "I really don't know." He rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling, trying to figure out his future.
Blair programmed in the last number into his cell phone, making sure he had the old number he was replacing written down in his rolodex. When he punched the last button, he tossed the reminder of his old life onto the bed beside him and laid back, covering his head with a pillow. When the restlessness wouldn't ease off, he jumped up, trudging downstairs into the library, picked up a book off the shelf and grabbing a notepad. Derek had told him that someone had been working on translating the pertinent books but had never finished. He had left to resume his normal life, so Blair decided to pick up where the former member had left off.
He sat at the large old table and spread out the things he would need, carefully arranging them. He opened the old book carefully to the first page and started to translate the contents into English, not caring who would be worried that he wouldn't be answering them.
Derek looked through the open door into the library on his way to the kitchen for a drink. He saw Blair, sitting in the same spot as that he had been a few hours ago, writing to take his mind off his old life and all that was leaving in a few days. Derek made the decision to go inside, try to talk to the younger man to make him feel better. He pulled out the chair directly across from the book and pulled it over to him. "Working already?"
Blair looked up and smiled sadly. "I had to do something," he said quietly. He held out a hand and Derek slid the book back to him. "I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd get something constructive done."
Derek nodded. "You realize he could still change his mind?"
Blair laughed. "Jim doesn't do things like that. Once he's made a decision, he's going to stick to it, no matter who it hurts, including himself." He marked his place and closed the book. "Jim's got this 'make a decision once' thing going: once he decided on a course of action, a direction to head, he's not going to be turned unless he's in mortal danger or his way is blocked by something like a hurricane."
Derek sighed and patted Blair's hand. "We don't know that your bond won't do that for him. It might lead him back to you. You've told me it lead you back from death, to Mexico to rescue him, many other times to rescue him; it may do it again."
Blair nodded, reopening the book. "Yeah, or it might just kill us both and be done with it." He bent back to his translation and Derek finished going for his glass of milk, after frowning down at the young man in front of him and silently vowing to not let that happen.
Jim paced around the waiting area of the airport gate. His flight was late already and wouldn't be here for another hour or so. He looked around to see if everyone else had left so he could start to mutter to himself. "How can I do this, just walk away? Better yet, how can I not do this; it's for the best, for both of us." He looked up to see if anyone was watching him and went back to pacing. "How could he be so calm this morning, just giving me a hug and walking away. Doesn't he care that this is tearing me up? Never mind, of course he does. That's just his way of dealing with it, giving me my space and going off to hide his own torment at that beautiful house." He stopped in front of the desk, the steward just having shown back up. "Another delay?" he asked the young man.
"No." He flipped on the microphone. "Ladies and Gentlemen, I have some bad news. This flight has been canceled for today, the weather at the airport where the plane is has gotten worse and has closed for the night."
There was a group moan of dismay. "Why?" someone yelled out.
"Unfortunately, Denver is now under over a foot of snow. Their spring storm has just been classified as a blizzard and they've had to shut down the airport until it's over, which should be in the morning." He cleared his throat. "I've got a list of hotels and motels here, some of them have rooms available." He cleared his throat again. "Unfortunately, the airline's policy won't let us pay for a room for you. You're more than welcome to wait here if you want, but that's all we can do."
Jim shook his head, taking a copy of the list before pulling out his cellphone. He knew he didn't have much money on him, he had pretty well maxed out his cards and blown his accounts on this trip. "Which of these is nearby and cheap?"
The steward smiled. "This is San Francisco, nothing is cheap here except a few of the drag queens."
Jim grimaced and started calling around. After he had made it all the way down the list and not found a room he could afford, he did something he hadn't wanted to - he called Blair. "Chief, it's me." He coughed and was silent for a few seconds. "Do you think that I could, um, maybe..."
He was cut off by the gentle voice that had helped him for almost four years. #Jim, man, we heard. Come on out, Derek said you can stay here tonight.#
"Thanks Chief." He hung up and gathered his bag, walking out to the busses.
Jim lay down on the comfortable bed and sighed. Today had been a disaster, a thorough wreck. He let the bed ease the tension from his neck and back, relaxing little bit by little bit. He turned up his hearing, wanting to hear his Guide's heartbeat, just for one more night. He could tell Blair was downstairs, probably in the library again, and was restful, concentrating.
He fell asleep, the sound leaching out the rest of his tension and worries, giving him peace.
Nick Boyle walked into the library, his lover ordering him to force Blair to go to bed. What he saw made him smile in remembrance of someone else who used to fall asleep over the books.
Blair had his head down, eyes closed behind the wire framed glasses, on the book he was working on. The pencil was still in his hand, drawing idly with his dreams, over the translation. A small line of drool was just starting to work its way down his cheek, destined to ruin the book.
"Blair," Nick said gently. When the younger man moaned and shifted positions, he walked in to take the pencil from his hand, setting it down. He touched Blair's shoulder, stepping back before he could be hit, he'd seen that reflex before too.
Blair mumbled something that sounded like "jim" and turned his head in the other direction.
Derek walked in to watch his lover trying to wake the newest member up. "Sleeping?" he asked softly. Nick nodded and plucked the glasses off the younger man's head, waking him.
"Time for bed, Blair," Nick said, closing the book as Blair sat up. "You can't sleep down here, it's not comfortable."
Blair nodded and stumbled out of the room, heading for his own.
Nick set down the younger man's glasses before stepping into his husband's comforting embrace. "He really does remind me of you and Philip. That same drive, that same exhaustion that used to let Philip drop off where he sat." He snuggled down into his lover's chest and sighed. "I miss him."
"As do I, love, as do I." Derek comforted his husband for a few more minutes before he pulled him upstairs, back to their bed.
"I just wish you could stay for a few more days," Blair said, sitting down beside his partner at the table.
"I don't have the funds."
"Derek said you could stay here." Blair looked over, hope shining out of his eyes.
Jim sighed and put down his fork. "Blair, even if I stayed, do you think that it would change my mind?"
Blair looked down and shook his head, biting his lip to keep his emotions in check. "No. Not really." He got up, going outside.
Jim sighed and slapped the table, heading out after his best friend. "Blair, wait!" he called. But the younger man didn't listen, forcing him to jog to catch up. He grabbed the younger man's arm to pull him around, stopping his flight. "Listen, I didn't mean it like that, but it's the truth. *You* have a place here, not me."
Blair pulled his arm away. "You'd have one too, if only you'd stay!" He threw up his arms, prepared for the battle. "Derek's offered, the job pays well. You and I would have everything we'd ever need here!" He spun around in a circle. "What do you need that isn't here?!?"
Jim sighed, pulling Blair over to a bench, sitting him first and planting himself beside him. "Blair, this place is for academics, not cops. What they, you, do wouldn't be anything I could do most of the time." He looked around the garden, seeing all the care and love that went into it. "Yes, it's beautiful and serene and calming here, but I'd feel out of place and useless. What use do they have for a Sentinel?"
Blair took Jim's hand, holding it tightly in both of his. "Why don't you ask? I'm sure there's some things that they do that aren't purely academic in nature. They do a lot of investigations and things, you can do that. That's what you're good at." He bit his lip and thought. "What more do you really need? You'd have work, well-paying work. Security here, time away when you needed it. Flexible hours that most of the time isn't twenty-four-seven. People who care how you are." Blair tried his last tactic, the last hope he had. "You'd have me."
Jim squeezed the hands that held his. "Blair, that's all I could ever want, but I still can't stay. This isn't the right place for me to be. No matter how much you want it, I'm not cut out for this life." He kissed Blair's cheek and left, going back to gather his things so he could leave.
From his office window, Derek shook his head and turned back around. "He's going to get them both killed soon," he said quietly. He picked up a folder, starting to flip through it. "I promise you Blair, we'll watch out for him until he figures it out and comes back."
Simon looked around the crime scene, Jim's loft, and swore. He bit down on his cigar's end as he pulled his detective aside. "What happened here?"
Henry Rafe looked around, confused still by the look on his face. "I got called by Joel."
Simon nodded at Joel to come over. "Taggert, what happened? Where's Ellison?"
"Gone sir," the older man said. He waved a hand at the broken balcony doors. "By everything that forensics said here, I'd say they both went over the edge and left that way."
Simon walked out to look down at the rope hanging down over the balcony. "Someone climbed up this way, came in, shot the place up after rifling through it for something and then left, with Jim following?" He looked back at the former Bomb Squad captain. "Does that make sense to you?"
Joel and Henry shook their heads. "But," Henry said, "we're talking about Ellison here and he's not been making a lot of sense recently, not since Sandburg left, about a month now really."
Simon rubbed over his face with a tired hand. "You don't know how right you are about that," he said and walked out of the loft. He stood on the sidewalk, directly underneath his detective's balcony, and looked around, hoping to find a clue as to what had really happened.
When he couldn't find anything out of the usual alley contents, he sighed and pulled out his phone to make a call he didn't want to. "Blair?"
go to part 2