The leaves are green again, Chief. The second Spring since you left, and I remember.
The breezes are mild, and I remember how you would shed layers of clothing, and the way you'd lift your face to the clear sunshine, and simply enjoy the bright skies and the new warmth.
I watched two little kids feeding pigeons in the park today, and I remember your zest for life. You told me about each new harbinger of the changing season, gleefully announcing the first robin searching for a fat worm, the first butterfly flitting through the air, the first skein of geese passing overhead, the first hyacinth in the park. With my Sentinel vision, I can see so much more than you can – but you noticed so much more of life than I ever did. I noticed the things necessary for survival, or solving cases; you noticed the entire rich tapestry of life.
Yeah, that's trite – but damn, it's true. Even though you're gone, I'm still learning from you; I'm taking a leaf from your book and noticing the little, important things. (Hence, the pigeons in the park.) I remember how your eyes lit up when you described the time you watched the swallows return to Capistrano. I want to share that with you, Chief. The very next Spring after you get back, I'll take that week off and we'll go together, and you'll teach me to open myself even more to life and the world around me.
There are roses blooming in people's gardens, and I remember the first test you ever gave me. I did smell those roses from the next aisle over, even though I didn't believe it was possible. Even then, two hours after we met, you had such confidence in me, and in my senses. I never told you what a gift that belief was, did I? Even when I was complaining about the tests that you devised for me, your unshakeable certainty that I would be able to do – whatever – gave me an anchor in a crazy world, and the strength to keep trying to master these senses.
These senses. Surprisingly – at least, I was surprised – they didn't disappear when you left. Oh, I had some trouble for a while – spikes, mostly, and times when the dials didn't work. To be honest, I moped around for weeks, fighting my senses, fighting our friends, fighting the whole damn world. I was on a downward spiral to self-destruction, and I didn't care.
No. More than that. I welcomed it. I thought I couldn't live without you, Chief. Didn't want to live without you.
But Simon finally sat me down and read me the riot act. He pointed out that if I let everything go, then I would be denying your sacrifice. He was right. You gave up so much; if I let the Sentinel thing go – if I let my life go – it would be the same as saying that your noble actions were meaningless.
Yes, Chief, I mean it... 'noble actions'. I know it now. I knew it then, but I just couldn't say anything. It was simply too big, too... heroic for me to face.
Shame on me. And I am – deeply ashamed. Ashamed that I did not acknowledge your gift. Ashamed that I didn't try harder to help you recover from the blow of losing your dissertation, your place at Rainier, your reputation, your – life.
Did I know, when I convinced Simon to offer you an official place with us, that you wouldn't be able to go through with it? That, even if you were comfortable with the idea of becoming a cop, the stigma of 'fraud' hanging over your head would make it impossible for you to gain acceptance at the Academy? That it would make working with the rest of the PD unbearable – even dangerous? I think I did, but didn't want to face it. Simon made me see that, too.
God, I'm sorry Chief. So very, very sorry. There are no words for how much I hurt because of what I did to you. I'm hoping, though. Hoping that one of these days you'll come back, and I can prove it to you. I'll spend the rest of my life proving it to you, and making it up to you.
I've already started. About four months after you left – and I had my head on straight again – I went to the Police Chief, the Commissioner, and the District Attorney. I proved to them that I am an actual sentinel, and that you hadn't lied in your dissertation. Oh, there was quite an uproar for a while – all very hush-hush and behind the scenes, of course. The DA delved into every single one of my cases from the time my senses came on-line and you started working with me. But every single conviction was upheld, without question and without a new trial. We didn't realize what we were doing at the time, maybe, but trying to keep my senses a secret meant that we backed up everything they told me with hard, indisputable evidence. So, sometimes these senses gave me clues that we might have otherwise missed, and sometimes they were the only thing that kept us going – assuring us that we were on the right track – until we could find the hard evidence that we needed. But, because of them – and you! – we always found the necessary evidence, and we were able to put away the scum that deserved to be behind bars.
After the bigwigs calmed down, they decided that I could 'keep using my senses in the line of duty', as long as I kept backing up the information I learned with solid, court-worthy evidence. (Ha! Big of them, wasn't it?) Actually, I wasn't too sure, for a while, that I wouldn't be dismissed from the force. People are frightened of what they don't understand and, in some people's eyes, these senses do make the freak I was always afraid of being. But I've come to realize – finally – that it's not my problem; it's theirs.
Sounds like something a shrink would say? Yeah, well... I've been talking with the PD psychiatrist. She's got a lot more savvy than I gave her credit for. It's hard – I still have trouble talking about the stuff inside – but it's helping. Now she wants me to write stuff down, to keep a journal of my thoughts and feelings. I can't. It's just too..... I can't, okay? But I can write a letter to you, and tell you all the things I wish I could say to your face. I know that, if you come back (please God, when you come back), I'll choke again. I won't be able to tell you this stuff... but I need to tell you this stuff. So, I'll write down everything – everything I'm thinking and feeling, all the things I want you to know and understand. And when you come back (please God, not if you come back), I'll give you this letter. I'll give you... me. Unedited, uncensored, with all my flaws hanging out. I'm scared – I never wanted anybody to see this deep inside me – but you already know so much of it, anyway. You might have thought you were guessing about the 'inner me', but usually you hit the nail on the head. There. I've admitted it. And now that you know that I know, and accept it, maybe we can work from there.
You know what helped? The acceptance of all of our friends in Major Crime. When I knew (or decided) that I was in it 'for the duration', I told all of them about the senses and the truth about your dissertation. Of course, Simon and Megan already knew, but the others... suspected. You were good with the obfuscations, Chief, but I was careless too often about hiding what I was doing with the senses. The others put two and two together – they are detectives, after all – and, when you told the world that I wasn't a sentinel, they understood that you were trying to protect me, and realized what was really going on.
You'd be amazed, Chief. No, maybe you wouldn't, but I was, for the longest time. The support and loyalty from our friends is just... unbelievable. And humbling. All my life, I've learned that I could depend only on myself. My dad started the process, the army continued it, and my early years in Vice... well, you've heard the stories. That man – the man I was before you came into my life – would never have accepted help from anybody, would never have leaned on a friend's shoulder if the load became too heavy. Hell, he would never have admitted that the load was too heavy. You changed that. I always knew I could depend on you to help, to care, to simply be there when I needed a friend. How does that song go? "He ain't heavy, he's my brother." Yep; that's you to a T.
Oh, God, Chief, why didn't I realize it earlier? You are closer to me than any brother could ever be, closer even than most married couples. You have a large piece of my very soul, and you took it with you when you left. That's a good term – soulbrother. (If it's not in the dictionary, it should be, and the illustration would be your portrait.) I miss that piece of my soul – I feel empty without you here – but I'm glad you have it with you. I hope it comforts you a little, wherever you are, and I hope it'll finally lead you back to me.
Where was I? Oh, yes – our friends in MC have been behind me, propping me up, and not letting me disintegrate into the antisocial, repressed, self-destructive SOB that I could so easily be. They've all accepted the senses, and they're all helping me to maintain and use them. I shared your dissertation with all of them. They're amazed at what you were able to do to help me – you've got quite a fan club waiting for you when you come back. And with their help, I'm still able to use the senses on a day-to-day basis. Not nearly as effectively as when I had you beside me, but at least I'm not incapacitated by spikes. Not too many problems with zones, either, but mostly because the senses don't work as strongly as they did when you were here. Just as well – the few times I have zoned, they've had to get pretty... strenuous, to bring me out of it. Connor carries around a bottle of the worst-smelling perfume it's ever been my misfortune to inhale. Not quite as bad as smelling salts, but almost. And Brown figures the best way is a right cross to my jaw. Taggart's method is the least painful – a good hard shake and a shout in my ear works from him. But being on the receiving end of any of these is not pleasant, so I just – don't – zone much anymore.
But even that comes back to you and your training, Chief. Maybe I depended on you too much when you were here. Now that I have to manage for myself, I can – mostly. I can ground myself with another sense, to keep me from zoning on the 'seeking' sense. It works, just like you always said it could. But without you beside me, it's like... like an amputee walking with prosthetic legs. He's grateful for the prostheses, but they simply can't compare to the real thing.
You're the real thing, Chief. I ache for you to be back beside me. If I could, I'd get down on my knees and beg you to come back. I'd vow to never be short-tempered again, to not snap at you, to not complain about the tests, to always give credence to your suggestions... but we both know that I'd fail in those promises. Eventually, I'd start slipping back into old habits – old dogs and new tricks, you know. But this I can promise, Chief – I'll try. I'll try my damnedest. And you have my permission to haul me up, shake me down, and knock some sense into me whenever those old habits start rearing their ugly heads. And I'll listen, Chief; I will listen. I know now what not listening cost us; I won't let it happen again. I won't.
Where are you, Chief? What are you doing, how are you living? That postcard you sent from Tucson – I turned the entire city upside down, looking for you. The police chief there is a friend of a friend of Simon's, and he authorized an APB for you – obviously, with no success. I flew down and located the branch post office that you mailed the card from; I thought maybe if I was in the same place you'd been, I would find some clue, or feel some connection that I could follow to find you. Of course there was nothing. I searched for over a week – checked cheap rooms where you might have stayed, talked to people who employ itinerant, part-time help... the kind of jobs I suspect you're stuck with, now that you can't claim your true credentials, and the kind of rooms you'd have to settle for because you don't have enough money. I suspect now that you didn't even stay in the city at all – probably just passed through, stopping only long enough to make an anonymous mail drop, knowing that no one would remember one faceless man who walked by one day and was never seen again.
I appreciate the postcard, Chief. I do. Thank you for trying to reassure me, for telling me that you're okay. But – I don't believe it.
That's no reflection on you, honest. I know that you've always landed on your feet, and I believe that you can do any damn job that you want to. But always before, you've had the foundation of... legitimacy. You had a background, an explainable place in the scheme of things, a niche in society. (Ha! After listening to an anthropologist for four years, even I can sling some of the lingo.)
Sorry. I'm being facetious. I know; it's a defense mechanism because it hurts so much to face what I did to you. (Like I said, the doc's pretty savvy.) When you were a student, it was acceptable to bounce from job to job; employers would understand that you would be gone in a few weeks because the next semester was starting, or the next field trip, or whatever. Now, without that foundation, I'm pretty sure that most potential employers look at you with suspicion. I'm pretty sure that all you can manage now is minimum-wage jobs... and I bet not too many of those, and not too often.
That hurts as much as anything, Chief – the suspicion that you're scrimping by, living hand-to-mouth. Have you even tried to access your checking account through an ATM? I know the answer to that – no. You've learned police methods too well, and you know damn well that we can get a lead on your location as soon as you withdraw some money. But if you ever do need the money badly enough – if you're completely destitute and desperate enough to chance it – you'll find that there's $12,000 in your checking account, and I'll keep adding more every month until you come home. Use it, Chief, with my blessing. Use it to run to the ends of the earth and hide forever if you feel the need. I'll understand if you feel that you can never face me again. But I'm hoping... dear Lord, I'm hoping that you'll use it to come back to me. Please come back to me, Chief. Come home. Please.
You've got a place here, just waiting for you. Your choice – you can go through the Academy and be a cop if you want. Or, you can be an official, paid, civilian consultant if you prefer. Either way, you won't get any fallout from your 'fraud' declaration. Once the guys in Major Crime knew the truth about my senses, we all got together to figure out how to smooth your way back into the PD – a way that would let you be recognized for the dedicated, courageous, man of integrity that you are. You'd be proud of the gang, Chief; instead of barging in with an 'in your face' attitude, they used insights of human nature and closed cultures that I'm sure rubbed off from you. What happened? We started a rumor campaign – very subtle, very hush-hush, and very effective. Nobody admits out loud that I actually have heightened senses, but 'everybody knows' that they have a sentinel in their midst. It's a 'secret' that they're proud of, and one that they'll never pass on to 'outsiders' – not even to civilian family members, and certainly not to the criminal element. And they also know that the Sentinel needs a Guide; the whispers paint you as a combination animal-trainer and magician, and they're pretty disgusted with me that I 'let you get away'.
I wish I'd opened up sooner, Chief; we could probably have avoided that whole dissertation mess. I was so afraid of my secret getting out, like it was something to be ashamed of. But now that everyone in the PD knows, it's such a relief. I can do what I need to do at a crime scene without worrying about hiding my actions from the average cop; they'll turn a blind eye to what I'm doing and help distract civilians so that my abilities stay hidden. And yes, the senses still have to stay hidden outside the Department. God forbid that the general public should know, or – even worse – the military. I couldn't live the rest of my life under the glare of being a 'celebrity', and I certainly don't want to become a government lab rat.
Among those who must never learn the truth is Chancellor Edwards. We've seen what she would do with that kind of information. That woman hasn't got an honest bone in her body, and I wouldn't trust her to tell me the time of day. Besides that, she now has a personal grudge against me. With the help of Dad's lawyers, I backed her into a corner; got her and the University to admit – (a) that you never submitted your diss, so they couldn't accuse you of fraud, and (b) that they had gone against your stated wishes by instigating the media hoopla, and (c) that your dismissal was unjustified and illegal. They (the U and Edwards) made a public apology – I thought Edwards would choke on the words – and reinstated your credentials. When you come back, you'll be able to resume teaching and complete your doctorate if you want. You probably won't want to – that poisonous snake would almost certainly make things ten times more difficult for you – but at least you'll have the good name and necessary credentials to get accepted at another university.
Did you see it, Chief? I made sure that it got as much coverage as the original media frenzy... well, as best I could. We invited all the same reporters, but the media isn't terribly interested in apologies, and restoring someone's good name isn't nearly as 'newsworthy' as destroying a reputation is – so the TV spots were smaller and less hyped, and the newspaper columns didn't make the front page. Hell, maybe you're not even in the country now, or maybe you're so far out in the boonies that you don't get newspapers or television. But I'm hoping that somewhere, somehow, you'll find out and know that it's – safe – to think about coming home. There might be a few rough patches still, but I'll help you work them out. I want to be there for you, the way you've been there for me so many times.
Chief – don't get the wrong idea here – but I want to 'be there' for you, forever. I want to be your best man if you get married, and I want to be Uncle Jim to your kids. If we're not in the same house, I want to live right next door to you. I want to work beside you, and I want to play beside you, and I want to go on vacations with you. The Sentinel needs his Guide, I know that now. But much more important – Jim needs Blair. I was a fool to fight against that truth so long and so hard, and it is the truth. Sometimes I feel like it was written in the stars, destined from the dawn of time... Jim. Needs. Blair.
It's selfish, I know, but I really hope that Blair needs Jim, too.
Maybe not as much; it's a frightening thing to need someone so much. I was scared of that need for a long time. To be honest, it still scares me a little, but I'm working to accept it and be comfortable with it. The doc tells me that we all need someone, and that we are not 'lessened' by needing another person. Intellectually, I know that; one of these days, my gut will know that, too. Till then, I'll try to be content with an unbalanced relationship; I don't care which of us needs the other more, or which of us isn't quite so 'needy', just as long as we're together.
Come home, Chief. I'm waiting for you.
I've made some changes, things that I hope you'll like. Had an architect in, and he confirmed that the walls of your room aren't weight-bearing. So I had the side wall knocked out, and moved it about five feet into the living room. Doesn't sound like much, but it gives you a lot more space. Replaced the futon with a proper bed – you should be a lot more comfortable than on that lumpy old thing. Sold the old desk and got you a bigger one, with lots of shelves and cubbyholes to help you keep all your books and papers organized. Installed a second set of wall-shelves, too – plenty of room now for all your books and artifacts.
I want you to be comfortable here, Chief; I want the loft to be your home, not just a place that you pay rent for. I've even kept all your artifacts as you left them; it helps me feel closer to you, and gives me hope that you will come back one day. Soon, I hope.
I know you told me to sell them, but I couldn't. For a while, I needed your things around me to keep from going crazy. Later, I realized that selling the things you treasured would be the same as rejecting you again. I've rejected you too many times, both physically (when I threw you out of the loft) and emotionally (when I gave your ideas short shrift and ignored your contributions). I won't do it again. Never again. When you come home, your room is here, your things are here... and I'm here.
Do you still have your key, Chief? Do you know why I wouldn't let you give it back to me? Simple – I wanted you to know that you can walk in any time. You don't need to knock on the door or ask permission; this is where you belong. It took me a long time to understand that, but I do now. I thank God that I recognized that before you left – it kept me from saying something unforgivable. (Although, God knows, you've forgiven me so much; you would probably have forgiven whatever idiotic ramblings I spewed out.) But I would not have wanted to lay any more hurt on you; it would kill me if I had to remember that I sent you away with harsh words.
Did you know how much I needed to say 'goodbye' to you? I'm sure you did; you'd probably give me a lecture on the importance of 'closure' and not allowing hidden wounds to fester. I'm incredibly grateful that you didn't just leave a note and disappear into the night, that you gave us both the dignity of parting... well, maybe not amicably, but at least comfortably. As painful as it was to see you go, the memory is precious to me. Because there were no angry words from either of us, it gives me hope that, when the time is right, you'll be able to come back.
I just hope that the 'right time' will be soon. I'm counting the days, Chief, but I don't know when the counting will end.
I pray that you, too, understand that this is where you belong. You will always have a place in my home and in my heart; all you need to do is reach out your hand and claim it.
Truthfully; I'm not just using a figure of speech. I've actually been praying. Are you surprised? I am; I haven't been inside a church for anything other than weddings or funerals since Carolyn and I divorced; and before that, not since my mother left. But you would undoubtedly explain that it is human nature to seek the comfort of a higher Power when life becomes too difficult or despairing, and wouldn't be a bit surprised. (I miss that acceptance, Chief; that was another great gift that you gave me.)
Anyway, Simon dragged me to his church a couple of times – I think he felt like he was on suicide watch for a while. His Pastor seemed particularly compassionate, and very wise, but very down-to-earth. (Or maybe that's not so unusual; I must admit that I don't have a very high opinion of the clergy, and I could be selling them short.) I've talked with the man several times; with his help, I've learned that I can ask the Lord for a favorable outcome without seeing it as begging. So I've been asking, and I'll continue to ask until you come home. And then I'll say 'thank you'.
I've even gone to Synagogue, to talk to the Rabbi. You and I never talked much about religion – I don't even know how devout a Jew you consider yourself. But I want to have some insight to evaluate your actions – our actions – from a viewpoint that might mean something to you. I don't think I've got it right, though; you and I will have to have some long talks when you get home.
Yeah, I know. Too often, I've acted like 'talk' is a four-letter word. But I promise – I'll talk to you, Chief; I won't shut you out anymore. But I need you to be here; one-sided talking just doesn't cut it.
Spring is here, and Summer is coming. Maybe the prospect of nice weather doesn't matter to you now; maybe you're someplace where you're warm and dry most of the time. And you've gotta be someplace that has less crime – Cascade seems to have cornered the market, and there can't possibly be anything left over for any other city.
So maybe you think there's no reason to come back. And maybe you're right. But I've gotta tell you, you have friends here that miss you and want to see you again almost as much as I do. Major Crime isn't the same without you; everything seems... flat. Connor keeps making wild guesses about where you are and what you're doing. (If you've spent any time wrestling alligators in Florida, I owe her a ten-spot.) Brown complains that he's lost his best outlet for teasing, says that nobody else can volley it back as well as you do. Taggart walks around looking like he's lost a favorite younger brother, and wishing you were here to contribute 'those amazing behavioral insights' that helped us solve so many cases. Even Simon has admitted that he misses you. Not in so many words, of course, but he says he'll grant you a three-day dispensation from knocking on his door before you go in his office. (After that, though, the rules are back in force.)
Come home, Blair. Come take your place as friend, partner, guide, observer, consultant. Come fill the empty place in my soul and make me whole again. Come talk to me and tell me what you need. If you can't live in Cascade anymore, we'll go somewhere else, wherever you want. Note what I say – WE will go. I'll never again leave you alone and unprotected to face the world. Together, Blair; I give you my solemn vow.
Just... come home, Blair. Please.