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Missing You

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Missing You

by PsychGirl

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Not mine, more's the pity. I'd have seasons two through four out on DVD by now if they were.
Written for LiveJournal Sentinel Thursday challenge #155 - Missing you. Not betaed, so all mistakes are mine. Well, they would be anyway, wouldn't they?
There is a character death, but it takes place in a vision, so it's not real - but just so you can't say I didn't warn you.
This story is a sequel to:

Jim stood on the balcony, looking out over downtown Cascade. It was two in the morning, and he couldn't sleep. It had been over a week since they'd offered Blair the badge. At the time, he'd looked pleased - surprised, but pleased - but later, Jim had overheard him asking Simon for some time to think about the offer. Okay, yes, he'd been eavesdropping on their conversation, but he couldn't help it. He needed Blair to accept this job. He hated himself for it, but it was the only way he could think of to keep Blair in his life, after the press conference.

And it's always about you, isn't it? he thought, bitterly. Your needs, your senses, your job, your feelings. Never what's best for Blair, or what he wants, or how he's feeling.

But he didn't know what else to do. He loved Blair, he realized that, now. He couldn't imagine his life without Blair in it. Not that he had anything to offer him in return. He didn't even have the balls to tell Blair how he felt.

Sure, a lot of his reaction to the diss thing had been anger at having his secret revealed, his privacy breached. But the bigger part was the fear. Fear that life with a middle-aged, balding, repressed and irascible cop couldn't possibly compete with fame, fortune, and a Nobel prize.

He'd shut Blair out, though, like he always did. Which left Blair with no choice, really, because he was always thinking of other people, never of himself. And now there was one more person who had sacrificed his life and happiness for Jim Ellison. And for what? It would have been better for him if he'd never met me, he thought.

It was a measure of the amount of weirdness he'd gotten used to over the past four years that he wasn't at all surprised to see Incacha standing on the balcony next to him. "I'm sorry, Incacha," he said softly, "but I don't think this is a spirit thing. This is just a Jim-Ellison-is-a-fuckup thing."

Incacha looked at him sorrowfully, shaking his head. "Enqueri, your thoughts do you no honor. They hover around you like vultures and feed on your fears. They block the light. You must dispel them." He reached out and grasped Jim's arm above the elbow. Jim felt a sudden strange sense of dislocation in his gut, then the balcony disappeared and they were standing in Blair's office at Rainier. Great, thought Jim. Another vision quest.

Blair was sitting on the edge of the desk, his backpack open beside him, reading a letter. Jim glanced back at Incacha, but the Chopec's face was impassive. Not for the first time Jim wished there was some kind of cheat sheet for these things, something that told you what to expect and made it clear what you were supposed to do. He sighed and walked around the desk and behind Blair so he could read the letter over his shoulder.

Dear Mr. Sandburg, the letter read, we regret to inform you that, as of the date of this letter, your candidacy in the doctoral program in anthropology at Rainier University has been terminated. In spite of numerous requests and communications from this office, and three formal extensions from the department, you have failed to make adequate progress on your dissertation in the time required. Please be prepared to vacate the premises by 5:00 pm on...

Jim stopped reading and looked up, confused. The problem wasn't that Blair hadn't made any progress, it was that he'd declared his work fraudulent. Why would the university send him a letter like that? He looked around the office, only now noticing that it looked very different than usual. The space was still cluttered, but it looked like no one had been in here in a long time. There was a thick coat of dust over the piles of papers, books, and artifacts. The blinds were drawn and closed, making the space seem dark and musty, when Blair usually kept them open. In fact, Jim was relatively sure it hadn't looked this bad when he'd last been here, a few weeks ago. He knew these buildings were old, but could things have really declined like this in such a short time?

Blair slid off the desk and turned to dig through the open backpack, and Jim stifled a gasp at his appearance. He'd never been a big guy, but he'd clearly lost weight; his clothes hung loosely on his gaunt frame. There were hollows under his cheekbones and dark smudges under his eyes. His skin had a sallow cast to it, and his face was lined, his expression grim. His hair, although still long, was unkempt and Jim thought he could see streaks of gray mixed in with the brown.

Jim looked over at Incacha. "What the hell is going on?" he growled.

"You are not here, Enqueri," Incacha replied.

"Yeah, yeah, I know, spirit quest, whatever," Jim muttered under his breath. He reached out to try and touch Blair's shoulder, and was unsurprised when his hand passed through Blair's body like smoke. Damn visions.

Blair pulled something from his backpack; a small, leather-bound journal, familiar to Jim's eyes. The Sentinels of Paraguay, by Sir Richard Burton. Blair's bible. He held it in his hands, looking down at it, but his eyes were flat and dull. There was no sign of his usual exuberance, his irrepressible excitement over all things Sentinel.

With a quick, jerky motion Blair threw the book in the trashcan, then grabbed his backpack off the desk. Jim stared at him in astonishment, unable to believe what he'd just seen Blair do. Blair quickly left the office, engaging the door lock as he left. Alarmed, Jim followed him as he headed down the hallway and out of the building.

It was snowing when they exited the building, another weird thing that gave Jim pause. Snow, in May? Blair didn't seem to notice, despite the fact that he was coatless; he started trudging along the sidewalk, head down, shoulders hunched. He climbed on the bus that was waiting at the stop and was gone.

Jim turned on Incacha, who had followed him out of the building. "What the hell is going on?" he asked again.

Incacha looked at him patiently for a moment, then repeated, "You are not here."

"Yeah, I know," Jim growled in frustration, "it's a vision, I can't touch anything or anyone, I got that, but..." he trailed off as insight suddenly dawned. "You mean I'm not here, in this vision. I don't exist. Blair never found me."

Incacha nodded.

It would have been better for him if he'd never met me. Now he remembered thinking that. So that was the point of this little vision quest, to prove him wrong. He glared at Incacha. "I don't believe it," he said, defiantly. "Blair had documented cases of people with one or two enhanced senses, and he'd done reams of research. He'd put years into his work. I don't believe that he wouldn't have completed his dissertation just because he'd never met a true Sentinel."

Incacha looked at him sadly. "I did not say that he did not meet a Sentinel, Enqueri. I said that he never met you." He took Jim's arm again, and again Jim felt that odd sense of movement somewhere around his gut as Hargrove Hall faded.

Now they were in an apartment, one that seemed strangely familiar to Jim. Blair was sitting on the couch, watching television, a glass in his hand, a barely-touched TV dinner on the coffee table in front of him. A half-empty bottle of Scotch also sat on the coffee table; as Jim watched, Blair leaned forward, poured some Scotch into his glass, and drank it down in a single swallow. Christ, Jim thought, no wonder he looks so bad, if he's been drinking like that and eating so little. He glanced around the apartment, trying to pin down why it was so familiar to him. Artwork covered the eye...a jungle scene...a spotted jaguar...he felt the hair rise on the back of his neck as he suddenly realized where they were.

A key turned in the lock, and Alex Barnes walked in. She was dressed from head to toe in black, and was carrying a black leather backpack, which she flung into the corner angrily. She stalked over to the couch, hands on her hips.

"And where the hell were you tonight?" she hissed at Blair. "I had a sensory spike when the alarms sounded. It threw my timing off and they saw me. I had to kill one of the guards."

"I told you before; I'm not doing that anymore. I'm not going along on your jobs anymore." Even his voice was different, Jim realized. Flat and harsh, instead of the soothing, warm timbre he was used to.

"Oh, don't start feeding me that crap again about a Sentinel being the protector of the tribe. None of that shit means anything to me. I got these senses the hard way - by doing time - and I'm going to use them to get what I want out of life. The tribe can go screw itself." Blair didn't respond, and she reached down and grabbed a handful of his shirt, hauled him up to face her, shook him. "You're my Guide, it's your job to help me."

"I don't know why you want my help," he replied dully. "You always tell me nothing I do makes any difference."

Fury distorted her features. She backhanded him sharply across the face, shoved him back down onto the couch. "Well, maybe, if you were a decent Guide, you'd have found something that works by now," she said scornfully.

Jim was across the room and eye to eye with her in an instant, even though he knew it was futile. "Lay a hand on him again," he said, in a calm, deadly voice, "and I'll kill you." He actually thought, for a moment, that she might have heard him; her eyes widened slightly and she looked around the room in alarm.

"I'm going to take a shower," she snarled at Blair. "My head is killing me. We are out of here first thing tomorrow morning, so you'd better be ready." She stalked off towards the bedroom. Blair didn't move from his place on the couch, just reached for the Scotch and drank again, hopelessness and defeat etched on his features.

"You know, I think she's right," he said quietly to himself, staring into the liquor in his glass, "I guess I had it wrong. I guess all that stuff was crap."

Jim looked over at Incacha in frustration. He couldn't stand seeing Blair like this, broken and dispirited, but he wasn't sure he believed, yet, that his presence in Blair's life had had any better effect. "So he met a bad Sentinel instead of a good one. I don't see that the outcome's any different."

Incacha sighed. "Dreams are the mind's fire," he said. "Even the brightest flame needs to be fed, to be tended. Without care, without hope, the fire dies." He took Jim's arm again. "There is one more vision, Enqueri," he said. The apartment faded, then came back into focus. Late morning sun streamed in the windows. A strip of yellow police tape crossed the door, and a white sheet had been thrown over something on the floor. Connor and Brown were standing at one end of the sheet, talking in low voices. Jim moved closer to see what was going on. Simon entered the room, bending to pass under the tape. "Okay, guys, fill me in," he said.

Megan read from her notes. "Blair Sandburg, 29 years old, Caucasian male, until two days ago a graduate student in anthropology at Rainier. Expelled for failing to make progress on his dissertation. We think maybe he was Barnes' accomplice - on at least two of the jobs she had to have had someone on the outside, waiting for her."

Simon and Henri crouched down, and Henri reached for the edge of the sheet. "Looks pretty much like a self-inflicted gunshot wound, evidence that Barnes was directly involved." He pulled the sheet back, and Jim reeled.

"No," he gasped in horror, hands over his eyes, trying to shut out the view of the still, familiar features; the long brown hair streaked with blood and brain matter. He staggered backwards, felt Incacha's hand on his arm.

And then he was back on the loft balcony, breath coming short, heart pounding in his chest, the red brick solid under his hands, Incacha's voice echoing in his ears. "Understand, Enqueri. Life brings many trials. Do not confuse the adversity that hones the spirit with the suffering that can crush it."

"Jim?" He spun to see Blair standing in the doorway, yawning and scratching his belly sleepily. "Man, it's like two in the morning. What are you doing out here?"

Before he could stop himself he had crossed the balcony and wrapped his arms around Blair in a tight embrace, pulling him close. "Hey," Blair said, sounding faintly surprised, "are you okay? Did you have a nightmare or something?"

"Yeah. Something." Jim managed to get out, his throat choked with the words he couldn't say. He felt Blair's arms slide around him, warm strong hands stroking his back gently, reassuringly. He took a deep breath, inhaling Blair's scent. Blair was murmuring something, Jim couldn't make out the words, but it didn't matter; all that mattered was the cadence, the warm burr of his voice rising and falling, washing over Jim like water, soothing and relaxing him.

Listen," Blair said, and Jim pulled back slightly so he could see his face, "I know I probably freaked you out when I asked Simon for some time to think about the offer." He put his hand on Jim's chest and looked up at him earnestly, blue eyes shining. "I just want you to know, it's not because I didn't appreciate it. I did. And I do. And I will...I mean, I want to do it, you know, be a police officer, be your partner. I just needed some time to process..."

Jim nodded, only half listening to what Blair was saying. He couldn't stop drinking in the sight of him, whole and happy and full of energy, despite the early hour.

"...Naomi will kill me, probably, and the whole gun, that'll take a lot of meditation...but I mean, this is a chance to really help people, have a practical impact in the world..."

It was going to be okay. Bad things would still happen; they'd still have fights; he'd still do stupid, thoughtless shit and end up apologizing for it later. But it was going to be okay, because he had Blair's back, and Blair had his. They'd have each other.

"...but I've seriously thought it all through, and this really is what I want to do. I'm sure. I've never wanted anything more in my entire life."

Jim framed Blair's face with his hands and kissed him.

"Except maybe that," Blair said, breathlessly.

Jim grinned.


Missing You by PsychGirl:
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