Summary: Another lesson to be learned.
Warnings, Ratings: Spoilers for Sentinel Too. Takes place after TSbBS and Blair is a cop. Rating: PG for a few words.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, Paramount and the SciFi Channel. No money is being made. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.
Jim's duty tonight was groceries. And lots of them. They'd been working day and night on a stalker case that had led them in circles and had escalated into violence. So now the fridge was empty, the cupboard was bare, and they were tired of takeout. It didn't matter if it was pizza, Chinese, Thai ... whatever. Home cooked never sounded so good. So tonight Jim shopped and Blair left from the station to head home to clean up in preparation of cooking. Jim knew he had to be tired if he hadn't insisted on his usual level of cleanliness, but they had both been worn out.
He exited the store with bags in both arms and one hanging from his wrist, wondering how he was going to juggle them to get in the truck. A scream stopped him in his tracks, and linking sight and hearing, he used his senses to find the source. The woman in trouble was half way across the parking lot. Jim dropped his purchases and pulled his gun. The woman was struggling with an assailant. He swiftly closed on the two, yelling, “Cascade PD. Freeze.”
Jim's frustration rose since of course the perp didn't freeze. Jim took out after him and yelled to the woman to go back to the store. Jim fumbled out his cell phone and called it in on the run, but it proved hopeless. The man ran across a busy intersection. Jim, in pursuit mode, headed into traffic and barely missed being run down by pushing off a fender of a moving car. Then the driver screamed obscenities at him. Jim stood for a moment with several cars passing him by with inches to spare, but he couldn't focus enough to track the assailant. He wearily turned toward the store and the distantly approaching sirens.
He headed for his groceries and gathered them up before heading to his truck. If he didn't, he knew they'd be gone in no time. Then he turned to the spot where the attack had taken place. His senses seemed to spark and the clarity of the scene startled him into stillness until he felt a light touch on his arm and a sweet voice asked him gently, “Are you alright sir? Officer?”
“Uh ... Yeah. Yes. You're the woman who was attacked. I thought I told you to go into the store?” Jim questioned sharply. But he was puzzled by the fact that, as focused and clear as the scene had seemed, he hadn't heard her approach.
The woman backed up a step, worried perhaps by his glare, “I'm sorry Officer. I did go in but when the police car drove in I thought it was safe. You came back so quickly and without the man that attacked me, so I knew you must have lost him. Oh, I don't blame you! I just thought it was safe here now ... since you were back. My name is Jenny Cameron.”
Jim looked around quickly. How did he miss the police car's arrival? Had he zoned? The officers were known to Jim and they were already on their way to assist him. “Look, Ms. Cameron ... sorry, I didn't mean to upset you further. I'm Detective James Ellison. If I could get your preliminary statement, it would move this along faster. Do you know the man that attacked you?”
Ms. Cameron shook her head, “No, Detective Ellison. He tried to grab my pocketbook. I guess it wasn't too smart to try to hang onto it. There's not that much in it. I've been traveling, so I only had one credit card in there and a few travelers checks. I didn't recognize him either. I hope it was just a random thing. There's been so much in the papers here about that stalker and how violent he's become. I think I'm beginning to feel lucky that it was just a thief. And that I'll be going home soon.”
As Jim listened further to her comments he thought about the stalker case. He regretted every new victim and couldn't help considering it a personal failure that the perp was still free. He accompanied the young woman to her car and directed her to meet him at the station tomorrow to give her formal statement. He directed the two patrolmen to help him canvas the few bystanders just in case they knew something that could help. But with someone like the stalker on the loose he knew a petty thief would be of low priority to a police department of any major city. The chances of finding the guy were slim.
Jim called Blair from the station. Blair might as well call for takeout tonight because he'd be very late. Blair had sounded a little upset. It surprised Jim. The kid must just be more tired than he thought. Blair didn't usually let petty things disrupt his disposition. Unlike himself, Jim thought ruefully. Oh well, they'd both feel better after a night's sleep, and he had the makings for a big breakfast to start the day off right. No Wonderburger breakfasts tomorrow. Even he was tired of them.
Jim woke up clenching his eyelids in bright sunlight and letting out a small groan at the clatter of pots and pans. He consciously relaxed his tensed muscles and listened to the din from the kitchen. What was Sandburg doing? He couldn't use that many pans or make that much noise if he had a troop of Sunshine Girls in to make cookies. More listening just made him more curious so he sighed in exasperation and climbed out of bed. As he made his way downstairs he became more than curious. What the ... ?
“Chief? What's going on here?” asked Jim as he scanned the kitchen disaster.
“Nothing Jim. Not a thing. Look, I just had toast for breakfast. I'm leaving. Catch up with you at the station.” And without a further word of explanation Blair caught the handle of his backpack and shut the door. With emphasis.
Jim stood with his mouth open until the shock wore off. Looking around he decided toast would have to do. It was late ... and there was a little mess to pick up in the kitchen. It gave Jim time to wonder what was bothering Blair.
When Jim arrived in Major Crimes he was greeted by almost everyone. The single exception was Blair. Jim hung up his coat and took his seat at his desk, glancing briefly at his best friend and partner, who was doing a dandy job of giving him the cold shoulder. His attempts at small talk were ignored or greeted with a grunt. He finally turned to Blair and asked him straight out, “Chief. I don't know what's going on with you ... but I don't like the attitude. I think you could at least tell me the reason .... Well ....?”
Jim watched as Blair sat still and silent for a moment. He looked at Jim in frustration. Jim was waiting for the blow up he was sure was headed his way, but was surprised when Blair's frustration, and then anger, turned to worry.
“Jim. I don't know the answer to the question man. I knew you were caught up in that purse snatcher case, but I just lost my temper. And then last night I woke up half a dozen times, just shaking with ... man you are going to think I'm a wuss, but I was scared! And then when I got up I was angry again. If there's a reason, I - I don't know it!” Blair had started out talking quietly, but ended up whispering. Beads of sweat had formed on his brow as if he was fighting to keep his buried anger in check.
Jim didn't like this at all. “Is it possible this is one of those sentinel
related things, Chief?” At Blair's shrug, Jim said, “Stay right here. I'll talk to Simon. Maybe we can get at least a few hours to try to figure this out.” He reached to squeeze Blair's shoulder but Blair flinched back. Jim leaned slowly back in his chair and regarded Blair carefully.
Blair fidgeted as he whispered, “Sorry. Go ask Simon.”
Jim had told Blair that they had a four day weekend. That Simon had been contacted by the FBI to relinquish the files on the stalker case. It was now out of their hands. The Feds had linked the MO to other cases that had begun with stalking and then escalated to murder. And serial murderers were the Feds jurisdiction.
As far as Jim was concerned, he had a more important concern anyway ... Blair. He'd warned Simon that they, the two partners, had a problem. Simon had looked alarmed. Jim wasn't usually the bearer of such news.
Since they'd taken separate vehicles that morning there was no chance to talk on the way home. They arrived at the same time and after the two friends walked into the elevator, Jim punched the button for the third floor. Jim tried to put a reassuring hand on Blair's shoulder, but was angrily shrugged off. When the door opened Blair stormed out leaving a concerned Jim to watch pensively until the doors started to close. Blair was already inside when Jim came through the door. Well, at least he didn't slam the door shut on him, Jim thought. He tossed his keys in the basket beside Blair's. Blair was already making tea. For Blair, it was a sign that he was at least trying to work on this.
Jim calmly, but with growing concern, put his own things away and walked over to lean casually on the counter. He was careful to leave an avenue of retreat for Blair if that's what he needed. He couldn't chance pushing him too fast.
Blair turned toward Jim. Leaning back on the counter, he said, “I'm sorry. Something just has my nerves fried. That plus no sleep after a rough week ... I don't know what else it could be.”
Jim nodded toward Blair's cup, “Got enough for two, Chief? Simon gave us four days. We should be able to come up with something. We 'are' detectives.” Jim smiled warmly but didn't enter Blair's space, deciding to let Blair lead for the moment.
They settled comfortably in the living room. Jim chose one couch and Blair paced until he too settled, but on the opposite couch.
Jim cleared his throat to speak, “Chief. Blair. Is there a reason you don't want to be near me? You shrugged me off twice today when I touched you. Did uh ... something happen? I mean, you never seemed to mind it before.”
Blair looked at him curiously for a moment until he understood what Jim might be asking. He flushed slightly as he answered, “Oh hey. No! Nothing like that. I came home straight from the station yesterday to start the cleaning. No weirdos were met on the way. I swear. But it is odd, now that I think about it. I was fine yesterday. I remember feeling really tense when I woke up, but work has been so stressful I don't know if it has any connection. It wasn't until last night that this moody thing got out of hand.”
Jim asked, “Can you pinpoint something that happened on the way home, what you did when you got here? I know it's usually me that has problems with chemicals, but did you use a different cleaner or something?”
Blair shook his head slowly, “No. Not really. I remember I started to feel kind of anxious just before you called. But I was just straightening the room. Then I took the laundry baskets to our rooms. And I remember stubbing my toe on the couch as I walked by. I danced around on one foot a little. Then I totally blew it out of proportion. I started swearing ... I mean, it's not like I broke my toe. I don't even think it's black and blue. But I was suddenly over the edge. Out of control. It kind of scared me at the time. I usually save the histrionics for important stuff.”
Jim grinned as Blair hung his head sheepishly. It was good to see him get a little perspective on the situation and regain his good humor. It was a relief actually. But still, it didn't solve the mystery.
Jim sipped his tea then said, “Well, about that time I'd have been chasing the purse snatcher, and almost getting run down by some of our law abiding drivers ....”
Blair slammed his cup down on the coffee table and jumped up to pace.
“Blair?” said Jim as he carefully set his cup down. He stayed seated, fearing Blair would take off in this mood.
Blair looked furious. He paced, then turned to Jim, “Damn it Jim! What's wrong with me? I feel like if I could get my hands on you I think I'd throttle you.”
Jim muttered, “Well I guess that rules out that my guide was worried about my situation last night.”
Blair said, “What?”
Jim raised his eyebrows, “The perp? Almost getting run down? Not worried about me, right?”
Blair exploded, “No. Angry, yes, damn it! Are you listening to your guide, sentinel?”
Jim's look of astonishment was followed by his contemplative answer, “You know something Chief? Incacha used to say stuff like that to me.”
But Blair was still angry, and he replied sarcastically, “Only in Quechua, right? But Incacha was your shaman. Not your guide.”
Jim walked carefully over to Blair, “Guide, what should I have heard?”
“I am your guide. Only me. No one else,” cried Blair adamantly.
“You are my guide. Only you. No one else,” stated Jim. “Who was the threat, guide?”
Blair looked bewildered, “Threat? I ... I don't know.” Blair said, “But you are my sentinel. There will be no other but you. Didn't Incacha tell you that?”
Jim reflected for a moment, “I lot of what happened in Peru was repressed as you know. What Incacha told me sometimes returns in time of need. He told me that a true sentinel needs a true companion. That I remember. It's what you told me when we met. That a sentinel needs a partner, someone to watch his back.”
Blair strode into Jim's space, nearly touching. “I am your guide. No other.”
Jim paled, “Alex.”
“Alex couldn't make me betray you, to take another sentinel, and for that I had to die. We learned that lesson, Jim. Didn't we?” gasped out Blair.
“It was after Alex's arrival in Cascade that things changed between us. And ... that weird love/hate relationship with Alex ...” Jim suddenly grinned and grabbed Blair's arms, “Jenny Cameron!”
Blair shoved him. Hard. Jim stumbled back until he tripped over his own feet. He landed gracelessly on the couch and almost overturned it. But Jim only chuckled. Blair was furious. Jim quickly sobered and held up a hand to wave him off, “Wait. You're my guide. There's no one else. But this woman, Jenny Cameron, was the victim of the purse snatcher. I think I lost a few minutes of time. I think she pulled me out of a zone when she touched me and spoke to me.”
Jim's eyebrows shot up when he heard Blair's growl. He'd never let Blair tease him again about going 'all primal'. That was too ... weird.
“Blair, listen to me. There's only one guide for me,” Jim said firmly. “Come on Chief. Jenny Cameron might find her own sentinel one day, but this one has a prior claim. There's no chance she'll lure me away. Hopefully I'll never have to see her again. She was supposed to come to the station today to give her statement, but we're off for four days. I'll never see her again. She's leaving town on Sunday.”
Blair seemed calm enough, but he was still breathing raggedly, “Pack.”
Startled, Jim asked, “What?”
Blair took a deep calming breath and a more confident stance. With his hands on his hips he allowed a predatory, self-satisfied expression to appear as he said, “Pack. We'll be back on Monday, Sentinel ... and not before. Cascade is too small for more than one guide.”