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His Past

by ljc

4/06


Summary: Blair got a call, then the story kept growing.


Warnings, Ratings: It's definitely a 'Sentinel' story but it does crossover with Stargate SG1. Rated PG, for just a tiny bit of bad language. I know I don't have the timelines right but I hope you can accept this as written. The Quechua names are part real names and part fabrications.


Thanks so much to Jaye Daver. Her comments helped ever so much to clear the confusion. Jaye, I got “LB” as far away as I could without doing away with him altogether <g>.


Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, Paramount and the SciFi Channel. Stargate SG-1, its characters and all related entities are property of Stargate SG-1 Productions (II) Inc., MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp and Showtime Networks Inc / The SciFi Channel. No money is being made. No copyright infringement is intended. This story was written by ljc with the love of the shows in mind.


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Blair stood and stretched his arms over his head. He walked slowly around his office trying to restore circulation to various body parts. It had been a long morning of meetings and classes, and now he was grading papers. He'd have to wrap it up soon and join Jim at the police department. THEN he could do some more paperwork before they settled into 'Sweetheart' for a stakeout. He'd have plenty to keep him busy tonight. Besides finishing the grading he'd have to watch Jim to make sure he didn't zone. It could be stressful work, being a guide. He had his own academic work, his own research, Jim's work, and a guide's work.


The phone rang, startling him from his stretching and his ruminations but he grabbed the phone with a grin hoping it was Jim, “Blair Sandburg's office.”


Well ... Guide ... how is your Sentinel?”


Blair's heart skipped a beat, “How did you get out, Brackett?”

Tut, tut, Sandburg. Do you really want to know?” smirked Lee Brackett.


You know I'll notify the authorities,” hissed Blair.


Oh yes. But by then I'll be long gone. I still have friends in high places,” Brackett answered, actually chuckling in good humor.


You mean low places, don't you?”


Oh, you wound me Sandburg. You don't think the Agency would allow the loss of an operative like me do you? I can be very useful to them. Don't you agree?”


You're crazier than I thought! What do you want?”


Maybe just to gloat! I'm free, and with all the galaxy out there to find my 'fortune', while you're 'stuck' with one sentinel. How much do you yearn for my resources Guide? How much would you give?”


He'd only play into Brackett's hands if he lost control. And right now, he figured he needed his wits about him. Blair tried to calm himself, “Nothing Brackett. You see, you're not a guide. You don't have any idea what we're all about. THIS is my place ... beside my sentinel. You have nothing I want or need. So long Lee.” With those words he hung up, immediately picking up and redialing, and reaching the man he wanted fairly quickly. “General Hammond? This is Blair Sandburg. Yes Sir, it's been a while. Sir, we have a problem ....”



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Part 2

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Daniel waited in the alley. He hoped they'd be home soon, it had been dark for two hours already . He knew cop's lives were not nine to five routines, any more than his own was. Well actually, it had to be more routine than his own. The life of SG1's archaeologist was not routine and it was not glamorous. There weren't many days that he could remember sitting down to a meal at a regular time ... at least not since Abydos ... since Sha're.


Daniel shivered as the wind came out of the north. He watched from the alley as Jim parked the truck and he and Blair walked into their apartment building. They looked eager to get in out of the cold, although Ellison was limping heavily. Maybe that's why they were so late. He waited patiently to give them a head start on reaching their apartment.


It seemed odd to think of Blair rooming with the big cop ... Sentinel. He wondered how it was working out. When he saw the lights go on he gathered up his duffel and crossed the street. He took the stairs, hoping to warm his stiff muscles up a bit.


Reaching 307 he hesitated briefly. He could hear a soft murmur from behind the door. He knocked softly, wondering all the while if Ellison already had his senses zeroed in on him.


<>


Are you expecting someone, Chief?” asked Jim moments before there was a tentative knock on the door. They'd only had time to take their coats off. Jim raised one eyebrow in question to Blair who answered with a shrug. Jim cautioned Blair with a hand signal as he reached for his gun, Blair quickly backed to the wall beside the door. He had too much trust in Jim's instincts, and Lee Brackett's call earlier in the day had left his nerves on edge. He hoped Jim hadn't picked up on that. He wished he'd been able to tell Jim about his past.


The knock came once more. “Hey Blair? It's me, Daniel.”


Blair's look of shock didn't last long. He rushed to open the door, but still took a second to look through the peephole. Flinging it open he grinned like a fool while Jim nonchalantly flipped the safety on his gun, “Daniel! Don't just stand there, man.”


Daniel raised an eyebrow as he watched Jim, “I ... hope I'm not ... intruding ....”


Blair grinned nervously, “No, of course not! Come in and have a seat. You're in town for the night? Do you have a place to stay?” Blair asked with a little hesitation, seeing Daniel's duffel.


I haven't made a reservation to stay anywhere yet. I 'was' kinda hoping I could stay here tonight. If it's not too much trouble. I thought maybe I could borrow your sofa.”


Blair set Daniel's duffel by the French doors. When he stopped beside Jim he lightly jabbed an elbow in his ribs as he asked, “Jim won't mind ... will you, man? Daniel's a real old friend of mine. He looks a little scruffy right now but he's an academic. He works for the Air Force, and don't even ask him, his lips are sealed as tight as yours about your Ranger days.”


Daniel could see that Jim wasn't exactly ecstatic about the unexpected house guest. He knew the man had to be irritated at the prospect of having a stranger in his territory, after all it was getting late and he had to be hurting. He saw Jim's mouth close abruptly, probably on the questions he wanted to ask. Daniel knew Blair would fill Jim in on what he could later.


Daniel could see that Blair had questions for him, too. He didn't know how he was going to pull this off without Jim getting suspicious. There were secrets to protect on both sides, but Blair's nerves were showing and if 'he' could tell then Ellison had to know. He had to do something to calm Blair down a little. Maybe a little truth would alter the situation, after all, there were other things that Blair didn't know. With a small sigh he began, “I, ah. I've been on leave for a week, Blair. Bereavement leave. Sha're's funeral was last week ....”


Blair paled and looked terribly saddened by Daniel's words, “I'm so sorry, Daniel. I would have come if I'd known.”


Daniel glanced downward to compose himself. It wasn't an easy topic of discussion, and there were layers of secrets to dance around.


I know Blair, but the funeral wasn't here in the States, you understand,” and he did know Blair understood. Blair had had no reason to visit Abydos, but he knew about it. “I've just been wandering around, with no real destination in mind until I thought of you.” Which wasn't the whole truth. Hammond had called him back to duty a bit early, since he and Blair had been friends. “I've missed our talks.” At this admission, Daniel allowed a sincere smile to grace his weary face.


Me too, man. Me too,” admitted Blair. “Uh, Jim ... Sha're was Daniel's wife.”


Jim spoke his condolences, then, “Look Blair, Daniel ... you two need to talk, catch up. Why don't I call for some takeout. I just want a hot shower and to hit the sack early for a change.”


The food arrived shortly, hardly taking long enough for them to get Daniel's things into Blair's bedroom, and for them to settle again on the couch. Jim had taken his shower but his exhaustion was evident because he ate very little then headed right to bed.


Daniel thought that Jim's thoughts were probably on controlling his dials and not on Blair and his guest. That and his obvious exhaustion and the limp that was still evident, were hopefully distracting enough for him to miss any clues he might have picked up from Blair and himself.


Blair and Daniel finished their dinner more slowly, not knowing what to say to each other that wouldn't compromise their many secrets to an outsider ... Jim-The Sentinel-Ellison.


Blair told Daniel about their stakeout that evening and the perp that had given them a good run for their money. Daniel was impressed. Jim had jumped a pile of debris and landed on several discarded bricks. Blair had been the one to take down the serial-thief with a well-placed chunk of brick that had knocked him off a security fence.


Blair grimaced, then he rolled his eyes loft-ward then back to Daniel, “So, have you talked to George lately?”


Daniel lifted an eyebrow and glanced at the loft bedroom over their heads knowing that getting a little info to Blair was going to be tricky. He'd keep it simple until they could talk more freely, “Yeah, I spoke to him today. He had a short term project he thought I might be able to help with, and he hopes I'll be back soon, tomorrow hopefully.”


Blair looked questioningly at Daniel, “Are you sure everything is okay with you, D.? I hate the thought of you going back if you're not ready. This project he mentioned, does he think it will be settled pretty soon?”


Daniel grinned back, “Yeah, B.. The project may not need my attention. It might even be cleared up tonight. Oh, by the way, Jack might be calling later to tell me the status. I just might get to hang around for a while.”


At that last statement, Daniel grimaced. Yeah, if Brackett is still on the loose, he thought. But they'd traced Brackett's whereabouts more quickly than they'd believed possible, and at last check in they were setting up a perimeter around his location. Lee was getting cocky, thinking that his contacts could keep him safe, maybe get him off world. With the NID, maybe it 'was' possible. But Blair had had enough trouble from Brackett, and it was because of his work for the SGC. Daniel wished he'd never gotten Blair involved.


When Jack's call finally came, they'd already given up and gone to bed. “Hey, 'D'. Did you get to talk with your little buddy ... 'B'?” teased Jack.


Yes, 'J'. Everything set on the project, Jack?”


Oh, all wrapped up. George said you can take your time. See you ... whenever.”


Blair had come to stand in the doorway. “Great,” giving Blair a thumb's up, “Goodnight, Jack,” grinned Daniel.


Goodnight, Daniel.”



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Part 3

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The next morning Daniel watched as Blair walked casually to the balcony doors. He stood drinking his coffee for a few minutes, then turned back to Daniel. “It's alright. He's gone, Daniel. It's safe to talk now.”


It must be strange living with a sentinel. Is it as awkward as we'd discussed?” Daniel smiled at his friend.


Oh, it's awkward at times. Man, I didn't know what 'lack of privacy' meant before this. I thought it was bad when I joined up with you guys!” Blair looked closely at his friend, “Is that what you want to talk about D.? Or is it just easier to talk about Jim than about Sha're?”


Daniel turned his gaze to the windows. Blair could see right through him sometimes. With a sigh he turned back to his friend. “I have a hard time talking about her. I still loved her so very much. I guess it 'was' easier to talk about Jim. Sorry.”


Hey, I'll always talk about Jim, to you. As long as it goes no further. It's his life that would be in jeopardy. And mine too.”


Daniel looked concerned, “Then the guide 'is' connected to the sentinel phenomenon?”


I'm Jim's guide but I'm still not sure. Brackett sure thought so. I'm glad they've got him locked up again. You couldn't get them to throw away the key this time could you?” Blair joked lamely.


You know I would if I could. You know we've certainly tried. He was too smart for his own good this time. It's not like him to be so careless.” Daniel thought back to his first encounter with Lee Brackett, when SG6 had encountered a tribal sentinel and guide. The NID had sent Brackett undercover to join the team that was to investigate further.


I keep running Brackett's words through my head.”


Tell me. Maybe one of us can figure out what's bothering you about it.”


Blair was encouraged by Daniel's suggestion. Brackett's words had bothered him, but he knew next to nothing about the NID or what they were capable of these days. Maybe Daniel would see something he didn't. “Okay. Brackett said, 'I'm free, and with all the galaxy out there to find my 'fortune', while you're 'stuck' with one sentinel. How much do you yearn for my resources Guide? How much would you give?'”


Blair looked worried suddenly, “You don't think the NID has contacted the inhabitants of PXP-812?”


Daniel's glum expression worried Blair even more. “Where the NID is concerned, I can't guarantee anything. I can't even tell you what I've learned about them since you left the program. Some things are classified even for you.”


Need to know. I know,” Blair said morosely. “Do they have a way off-world?”


Daniel grinned, “If I told you ...”


... You'd have to shoot me. Gotta love those secrecy agreements.”


Did you tell General Hammond?”


Of course.”


Then he'll do what he can, Blair.” Daniel hesitated a moment before he said diffidently, “I ... I think Brackett might have been trying to recruit you.”


What! After the mess on PXP-812, and then here in Cascade! There's no way I'd help him. Oh man. Don't tell me General Hammond thinks I'd ...”


No, B. Not for a minute. But I'm sure it occurred to him that Brackett was offering just that.”


Blair slouched down dejectedly in his chair. “I am so glad he's back in custody.”


I'm sorry I ever suggested that you accompany SG6. He managed to keep track of you through his contacts. When you started following Ellison around, he took notice. I really am sorry Blair, that you got caught up in his plans.”


Daniel, it's not your fault. I was thrilled to have the chance to work with sentinels, you know that! Brackett was just a lousy break.”


Daniel's concern was still evident, “General Hammond put the planet on restricted status when the NID's involvement became known. It was the only thing he could do at the time to protect them, but he couldn't foresee a meteor impact causing such devastation or that the local population would have to evacuate. We still don't know where they went, or even if they made it safely. We're watching for signs of them on new planets. We hope someday to recontact them. They had a remarkable society.”


Blair sighed in regret, “I wish Jim could have visited them. He always felt like a ... freak. It would have been great for him to see people like himself integrated into a society and respected for their gifts.”


Daniel grinned, “And his guide too.”


Blair's grin was a little strained, “Yeah, his guide too.”


Daniel quietly added, “Accepted and respected like the sentinel.”


Blair sadly added, “And 'by' the sentinel. It's hard for him. I know he understands that I need to be there by his side, even if he doesn't 'want' me there. I feel like it's my place ... like his is to be the sentinel, I am the sentinel's guide. But if Jim ever found out about my past I don't know what would happen to us. I don't think he ever trusted me completely. I'm afraid it would destroy our friendship, our partnership. I've wanted to tell him, but I signed that damn secrecy agreement. There's no way I can go against that.”


But he'd have to understand. He's bound by the same agreements, Blair. He's admitted that he was in covert ops. If it comes out, he has to understand.”


Sometimes I think ... Jim only understands betrayal,” sighed Blair.


What are you really afraid of, Blair?”


He already threw me out once ... because of Alex. I never expected that reaction, not after working on the Sentinel Project.”


Blair ... are you safe here?”


Blair stared bleakly at his friend, “I think so, D. I just have this gut feeling ... that this is where I 'have' to be.”


I think you need to finish the dissertation. It would give you options,” Daniel said firmly.


But I can't. It would reveal too much to keep his identity secret.”


I can talk to General Hammond about it. There are ways to keep sensitive material out of public records.”


Blair looked horrified, “How could I explain that to Jim? I couldn't tell him that an Air Force General is 'handling' it.”


Daniel looked gravely at Blair, “Maybe you'd be allowed to tell him. His clearance is already high. Maybe we could bring him in on at least part of the secret. After all, sentinels and guides are already known to the SGC. The military, at least the Air Force, already knows. The only problem is ... your sentinel doesn't know about the SGC or your involvement. Maybe if we're allowed to rectify that, one problem would be solved. Would it be enough if Jim is told you worked on a 'Sentinel' project?”


Daniel, Jim has major trust issues. I really think it would be over between us.”


Secrets rarely stay 'secret' forever. Letting him in on it may be the only way, Blair.”


Blair sat back heavily on the couch, dismay at the inevitability of the coming disaster evident on his face. Stargates, aliens, the SGC ... none of that would stay 'secret' forever.


But it was the release of a secret closer to home that brought the disaster to their door.


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The Sentinel” by Blair Sandburg was leaked to the press with disastrous results. Blair's claim that he committed fraud destroyed his academic career. Naomi fled soon after, since she had so much processing to do, which left Blair and Jim to deal with the aftermath.


Some time passed, which allowed the dust to settle.



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Part 4

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Reaching 307 he hesitated briefly. He could hear a soft murmur from behind the door. He knocked softly, wondering all the while if Ellison already had his senses zeroed in on him.


Are you expecting someone, Chief?” asked Jim moments before there was a tentative knock on the door. They'd only had time to take their coats off. Jim raised one eyebrow in question to Blair who answered with a shrug. Jim cautioned Blair with a hand signal as he reached for his gun. Blair quickly backed to the wall beside the door, his own gun at the ready. He had too much trust in Jim's instincts.


The knock came once more. “Hey Blair? It's me, Daniel.”


Blair's look of shock didn't last long. He rushed to the door, but still took a second to look through the peephole. He tucked his gun into the holster before he flung the door open while Jim still held his gun at the ready, “Daniel! General Hammond?”



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Part 5

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May we come in Mr. Sandburg? I have some things to discuss that have grave implications, and we're pressed for time.” He turned to gesture to several men that had accompanied them but had deployed themselves at elevator, head of stairs, and opposite their door. “These gentlemen will see that we're not interrupted.”


Blair glanced at Jim and seeing a glacial expression knew that he would be the one in charge of any pleasantries to be extended. “Please come in ....” Followed by a nearly silent, frantic whisper, “Damn it, Jim. Put the gun away!”


I hear congratulations are in order, 'Detective' Sandburg,” General Hammond said warmly. “I'm glad the dissertation problem hasn't deterred you from your chosen course.”


Blair bounced nervously on the balls of his feet. He tried not to glance at Jim, and was sorry when he did. His stomach was in knots already. That one glance almost made him lose what little there was in his stomach. This couldn't be happening. After everything that had happened, he couldn't lose it all now. He couldn't.


The next thing he knew, Jim had a tight grip on his elbow and was guiding him to a chair, which was probably a good thing because he was already on his way down. He'd either land on a chair or on the floor. Right now he wished he'd just disappear through the floor. This couldn't end well. Things between he and Jim just couldn't recover from this. He'd had too much time to imagine worst case scenarios. He had many floating through his head ... each new one an escalation of the last ... oh man oh man.


Jim, out of necessity, pushed Blair's head down between his knees. Blair's sight stopped wavering and his loss of his ability to breathe eased into trembling breaths. When Jim finally let him up, the look he gave him made Blair clench his teeth till they ached. He had never wanted to see such ... defeat ... betrayal ... and know he was the cause.


He realized that any forthcoming decision may not be his to make tonight, but he'd already thrown away one life, one career, for his sentinel. He wouldn't hesitate to follow that decision again. The problem was, if this was about National Security, then the decision would not be his, and Jim might never be his friend again. He might not even be his sentinel again.


He spoke ever so softly, “Jim. You have my word ...” At Jim's glare, he swallowed tightly but continued, “You have my 'word' I will protect you with all I have, with all I am.” Blair could have wept at the softening of Jim's look, and the gentle squeeze on his arm.


Blair looked up when he heard soft voices. Wonder of wonders, Daniel and General George Hammond of Stargate Command were making tea in their kitchen.


He clutched desperately at Jim's arm and took a deep steadying breath. Surprisingly, Jim didn't leave him. He allowed the touch to remain as he sat beside Blair at their dining room table. It was more than he'd expected. Could it possibly mean what he hoped it meant? That maybe Jim had turned a corner on the trust issue? But then, Jim hadn't heard the whole story. Blair figured tonight was the night. He could do this. The General wouldn't be here if it wasn't important. Really important. Hopefully, it wouldn't be one of those 'Earth Saving' missions that Daniel and SG1 had so successfully completed.


General Hammond set a tray on the table with tea and mugs for them all. “Daniel knows his way around your kitchen. I hope you don't mind if we helped ourselves. He seemed to think this tea would help settle everyone's stomach a bit.” He talked to Blair, but glanced pointedly to Jim.


Thanks, Sir. You didn't have to ...”


It's alright son. We should sit, drink, relax a bit. Daniel's kept me apprised of your situation. A matter has come up that urgently needs attention and we have hopes it will also help with your problem. I know it's a bit of a strain having us just show up like this. I hope you'll forgive me when you learn the 'whole' story.”


Blair tensed again, because the 'whole' story bit was said while looking at Jim. Oh, man. This 'was' the day from hell he'd been anticipating. Let's hope he didn't have to sell his soul this time to protect Jim.



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Part 6

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Brackett's disappeared again. We're not sure where he is right now, but we think we know what destination he has in mind.”


Blair stiffened impossibly, and Jim felt himself turn glacial once again. He allowed himself to stare at Blair for a moment. It was incomprehensible to him that Blair seemed to be at the center of this situation. A situation that involved the military and Lee Brackett. Those were two nightmares he'd hoped never to revisit, especially not together.


Jim allowed the military face he'd adopted to remain. It seemed best to keep his own reactions to himself. Except that Blair could read him like a book. Just how deep was Sandburg into this ... whatever the hell this was! “Excuse me, Sir. You said Brackett's disappeared ... again? It seems I may have missed something important. Perhaps you could explain?”


General Hammond looked chagrined as he replied, “As you might have guessed from your own encounter with him Detective Ellison, Brackett's as slippery as an eel. He's been in the highest security prison in the country, but the man has connections at the very highest level. After his last escape I sent Dr. Jackson to act as liaison between my office and Mr. Sandburg and you, if need be, but he was located very quickly that time. Unfortunately, he has knowledge and experience that certain agencies need to infiltrate a 'foreign' power and for that reason, he was released. His connections were able to transport him out of reach. And that leads us to our visit tonight. You see, Brackett is only one of our problems. I'm afraid Detective Ellison, that getting you on board is the other. We have a story to tell you. It's a pretty incredible story. I'm sure you'd call it insane, but I assure you it isn't.”


Jim had listened grimly, not sure what the General expected him to reply to that statement. What he really wanted was a long 'chat' with Sandburg but he couldn't see that happening soon. “What if I don't want to 'come on board', General? If Brackett's out of reach, then he's out of my jurisdiction. Unless ... it's an 'order'?”


General Hammond took an envelope out of his jacket pocket. “If what I've heard about you is correct, then I don't think I'd need to give you any 'orders', 'Detective' Ellison. When you have read these papers, and signed them, I can answer almost any question you might have. Until then we'll just finish our tea.”


Jim was confused until he saw the papers. They were familiar but he read the Air Force version carefully. When done, he was quite willing to sign but he had one question first. “Sir, I understand the ramifications of these documents. But, I have to ask why Sandburg isn't required to sign them, too.”


Hammond settled back into his chair with his tea and nodded to Blair to fill Jim in on his situation.


Uh, Jim. I signed the papers about five years ago. I worked on a project for the Air Force ....”


Blair stopped when he saw the papers crushed in Jim's hand. “Jim, man. If you've ever listened to anything I had to say then listen to me now. I have never betrayed you. I've always done my best to protect you. As I'm sure you've guessed ... YES, the Air Force knows about Sentinels. That's what the project was about, and it happened before we ever met. But if you want to know more than that then you'll have to sign. I promise you, it's so far beyond unbelievable that ... that ... well, you'll just 'have' to listen to us. And if you don't believe me, then believe them. They're good people. The best. Use what we've worked on, your skill at evaluating vital signs, Jim. Have you caught Daniel in a lie? Or General Hammond? They're not Brackett. He was ... damn, I can't say that. Please Jim. Just sign it.”


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Part 7

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Jim's introduction into Stargate Command was quick and concise, barely covering the basics. His guide pointedly kept him grounded with a light touch on his forearm. All present were aware of the intense scrutiny by the sentinel in their midst. When all was said that could be said in an unsecured location, Jim sat looking stunned.


He looked at Sandburg, then placed his hand on Blair's, which was still on his forearm. “I don't know if I should 'believe' my own senses, Chief. This is crazy. Maybe I really went insane four years ago.”


Blair ducked his head for a moment then smiled at his sentinel, “Man, if you're crazy, then I beat you to it. But they're telling the truth. That's what your senses are telling you. General Hammond wouldn't be here without good reason. He wouldn't be releasing this information to you unless he ... needed you. Please, trust me, man.”


Hmm, Mr. Sandburg, Blair ... I need 'both' of you.”



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Part 8

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Since both Jim and Blair were acquainted with field missions, things moved rather quickly for them. A leave of absence was arranged, by someone else. Transportation was arranged, by someone else. Food and lodging would be on Uncle Sam. They only had to pack up a few personal items and sentinel friendly products before making the trip to Cheyenne Mountain immediately.


Orientation took a bit longer, but with Blair talking nonstop, that actually took less time than usual. One of the first things Blair arranged was a mini field trip to and through the Gate to the Alpha Site. He had to know Jim's reactions to gate travel before embarking on a mission.


Jim's main reaction was to turn green and vomit, prodigiously. When questioned by his guide, he just said his balance was off. Blair thought it might be an inner ear problem. Jim countered that the world was wobbling.


Major Samantha Carter was stunned by that comment. “It 'is' wobbling. It's spin will eventually turn it on it's side, in about a million years!”


Blair looked distraught for a moment then asked, “Jim can you dial it down?” and the problem was solved, at least on this world.


Their trip back to Earth through the Gate was as normal as it got, with Jim having no disturbing reactions, and leaving them just enough time for the mission briefing.



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Part 9

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Jim had wondered when he would be able to meet the alien member of SG1. Blair had told him about Teal'c during orientation. But he thought that talking about a Jaffa and 'sensing' one might be altogether different.


When they arrived for the briefing Blair hurriedly placed himself bodily between sentinel and Jaffa. “Jim, this is Teal'c. He is Jaffa, and a comrade-in-arms, even if he's not from Earth.”


I sense two life-signs, Chief. I 'do' remember the 'parasite' explanation, and the difference between Go'auld and Jaffa. I've had 'Stargate History', mission synopses, galactic history, strategy, alien biology, alien weaponry, the Iris and SG team codes, first contact protocols, Egyptian myth, assorted other earth mythologies, alien lifeforms both plant and animal, physics of wormholes, Stargate symbols, DHD use and a list of addresses to memorize, and a whole lot of other things stuffed into my head nonstop for the last few hours. And I do listen when you speak, Chief.”


Blair was taken aback for a moment, “Oh. Okay then. No problem. Well, then you probably remember that Teal'c was First Prime of Apophis but now he's a member of SG1, and that he's proven himself many times since O'Neill vouched for him.”


Which one is O'Neill?”


That would be ... me! Briefing time. Let's not keep George waiting.”


Jim whispered, not so quietly, “He calls the General ... George? I guess the Air Force isn't up on military protocol.”


O'Neill said clearly, “I heard that.”


So did I, Colonel O'Neill. Now let's begin.”


General Hammond detailed the major items.

1. P44-X101 was found to be inhabited.

2. For P44-X101's inhabitants this would be Second Contact.

3. P44-X101 was listed as restricted, with exceptions.

4. The exceptions were: SG1, one sentinel and one guide.

5. Sentinel and guide would remain for an extended period if necessary, to be determined by the pair, or by the SGC as safety or National Security dictated ... or as the local inhabitants decreed.


Jim looked stoically at his guide for some explanation, but said guide had his nose deep in the mission briefing paperwork. So Jim undertook to ask his own questions. “General Hammond, sir. What is the reason 'we', a sentinel and guide, are needed for this mission?”


General Hammond looked questioningly at Blair, “Mr. Sandburg, it's rumored that you've been briefing Mr. Ellison since you arrived, yet you haven't told him about P44-X101?”


When Blair looked up, his excitement was obvious, “Are they the inhabitants of PXP-812?”


General Hammond looked flustered for a moment, “Colonel O'Neill, do I understand correctly that none of us thought to tell Mr. Sandburg who these people are?” He shook his head in consternation, “I apologize. These are indeed the people that SG6 investigated, when both Mr. Sandburg, and Lee Brackett were members.”


Jim was getting frustrated, “Sandburg worked with Brackett? Chief, what else do I need to know?” He could see that Blair's eyes were alight with excitement so he did his best to control his annoyance. At some point 'someone' would tell him whatever it was that seemed so obvious to everyone else.


Jim, man. These people ... their society ... they know about sentinels and guides. They 'have' sentinels and guides. They were the Sentinel Project I worked on five years ago. This is incredible.”


Jim paled before he could ask a question that seemed obvious to him, “But Chief, you want me to meet other sentinels? What about ... Alex?”


Blair sat back looking stunned. “I couldn't tell you before ... I mean, there was so much I didn't understand about you and Alex. These people live together with no problem. Since Alex was a psycho, an aberration, I later theorized that it was 'her' that you couldn't abide ... not all sentinels. But how could I tell you that? Really, Jim, these people live in harmony. I ... I think you'll 'like' them.”


Blair stared down at his papers as he shuffled them nervously for a moment. He couldn't meet Jim's eyes when he continued, “But ... just to be safe ... I guess we 'should' have an escape plan in place. I think it would be safe enough if SG1 goes through and positions themselves at the DHD. We shouldn't have any problems making our escape before something ... happens.”


Jim stared at his guide while he considered Blair's words. He knew that Blair's uneasiness was felt by everyone present. “Chief, look at me. If we decide to do this, I want you right at my side. Or better yet, behind me. You may be willing to take this risk but I'm not sure I can take another chance with your life.”


Jim looked fiercely at O'Neill, Teal'c, Carter, and Jackson. “If we do this, I want your word that you'll be extremely vigilant. If you see anyone make a move toward Sandburg, you must be ready to defend him instantly ... even against ... me ... Blair already drowned at the hands of another sentinel, Alex Barnes. Neither one of us would survive if there was an attack like that again.”


Jim saw Blair blink in surprise. Of the others, he thought only Daniel might know that story. All of them had straightened sharply and glanced from sentinel to guide.


O'Neill leaned forward and clasped his hands on the table, “SG1 takes care of it's own, and we don't leave anyone behind. Good enough?”


Jim watched as Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c nodded their acceptance with the seriousness it deserved. It was going to be difficult to explain this to their new teammates. One look at Blair made him realize that there were still things about the encounter with Alex that even they didn't understand to this day.


He forced his own shoulders straighter as he felt sorrow for a loss he couldn't explain. It was clear to him that it had left them both insecure about their partnership. He felt both betrayed and betrayer, and nothing that had happened in the past months had changed that. They had a commitment to each other, but trust wasn't so easy.



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Part 10

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Jim had been on alert from the moment they stepped through the Gate. Blair, too, was alert for any of the signs Jim had exhibited pre-Alex. He kept a hand to Jim's back, letting him assess the situation with his Sentinel senses. Jim had walked through the Gate ... and sneezed.


Hey, Daniel. You want to share any of those pills of yours with Ellison?” asked O'Neill.


Blair, who was right at Jim's side, waited for any other physical reaction that might materialize but it seemed a one time thing.


Jim?” asked Blair, “I have Dr. Frasier's prescription here if you think you need it.”


But Jim refused the meds, and they all finally relaxed when Jim did.


Jim was confused however. He 'could' sense the presence of other sentinels, but he didn't know why they didn't make him as uneasy as Alex's presence had. But he was infinitely relieved that he sensed no danger to his guide. “Sandburg, the village is in that direction. The sentinels must be out on patrol since they seem a little more distant.”


You 'can' sense them? Cool! Do you want to head right to the village or wait to get acclimated? I don't want you moving too quickly into something you're not familiar with. Maybe we should work through your dials first and make sure you can handle the environment first.”


Sandburg, I just sneezed once.”


But Jim ...”


I think it'll be okay, Chief. I don't feel any ... apprehension, like I felt with Alex.”


Apprehension?”


She was a threat. Somehow I sensed it. I don't feel that here.”


O'Neill butted in, “Well, since I 'am' in charge here, let's go kiddies.”


It was a long walk but at least Blair got his wish to work through the dials along the way. Jim knew it was one way for Blair to work through his own 'apprehension'. Blair had been tense as soon as he knew that Jim was worried that an Alex-type reaction might be possible. Jim, in his own way, tried to be supportive and indulged him in test after test, forcing himself not to give him any grief over the redundancy.


They simply walked into the village with no fanfare other than the gathering of wary inhabitants watching from their homes. Blair soon saw the local shaman approaching. Greetings were offered and they were shown to the shaman's home where 'Sentinel and Guide' were offered lodging. Lodging was offered elsewhere for the rest of the team.


O'Neill looked bemused. “Well, it seems we're really not needed here. Carter, what say we head back to the base. It seems that SG1 performed it's 'escort duty' and now we might as well go back home.”


Daniel looked hesitant as he asked, “Blair, do you think this is a good idea? We haven't seen these people for a few years. Do you want to stay here alone, uh, with Jim?”


O'Neill said, “Daniel, SG4's mission lasted a week here. We 'are' familiar with these people and SG4's mission was uneventful. They've been asked to stay and there's no reason to babysit them. Sandburg is well acquainted with procedure and Ellison is an ex-Ranger. They can handle this.”


Turning to the newest members of the team he went on more seriously, “Now ... you two will have to check in periodically. Make it every twelve hours. If you need help ... yell.”


Jim watched the SG1 team pull out with misgivings. Alex would always be a dark cloud over him and his guide, and being temporarily stranded on an alien planet was a bit more than he'd really bargained for in joining this expedition. His protective instinct for his guide was fully engaged.



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Part 11

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Jim watched as his guide talked animatedly with the Shaman, Anok. Jim knew his friend too well. Blair was in 'research mode' and he'd allowed himself to be distracted. That could be dangerous. Of course, he was out of practice for this type of 'expedition', and he did have Jim to watch his back. And this was his Holy Grail, too, even if it couldn't be published until the Stargate Project was declassified. Jim let his senses roam the village, on alert for any disturbance, until the 'sentinel' presence drew very near.


Sandburg ... get behind me ... now.”


Blair looked confused for only a moment before taking the place indicated by Jim, and taking his normal working stance slightly to the side and touching his back lightly.


Jim noticed when Anok nodded slightly, as if in approval.


When the new arrivals joined them, the tension was palpable.


Jim, I know them,” Blair whispered. “They're sentinels and these are their guides. I met them during the Sentinel Project. They have their own guides, man. I'll be fine. I don't think there's anything to fear from them.”


The sentinels were still tense when Blair spoke out to the newcomers, “I hope you remember me. I'm Blair Sandburg, from the SGC. I've come for a visit if you'll allow it. I've brought a sentinel with me. His name is James Ellison. We'd hoped to exchange information. Please, come forward. I act as Jim's guide. You have nothing to fear from him.”


The guides conferred with their sentinels briefly before tensions eased slightly. They finally stepped forward, staring at Blair with an odd combination of emotions, Jim thought. It was respect and welcome, but they were also wary. The sentinels stood with their guides close at their side. Did they fear their motives in coming here? That did 'not' sit well with Jim.


Blair stepped up beside Jim. “James Ellison, this is Sentinel Ch'aska-Ti and his guide T'ayma-Ti, and this is sentinel Ch'ika-Min and his guide T'imta-Min.” After brief nods of acknowledgement, Blair seemed at a loss for a moment.


Anok stepped forward to offer the hospitality of the village and his home. “We have a great deal to discuss. Our Guardians have come here to speak to ... our guests. We will sit, have tea, and when the time is right, we will converse.”


Jim started to answer but Blair beat him to it. It was probably for the best. Blair always had been more diplomatic. But he wasn't as convinced as Blair seemed to be that these sentinels meant them no harm. It had seemed to him that Anok had wanted to exclude Jim. Their attention was all on Blair, which caused his protective streak to flare.


And the guides ... they seemed to hold themselves apart from him. They seemed almost hostile. Didn't guides protect sentinels, or was it that they only protected their own sentinels? Something just didn't ring true here. He had to keep his senses alert.



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Part 12

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Serving of the tea was ceremonial. Jim was irked because everyone knew what to do but him. He felt like the 'country bumpkin' for not knowing the ritual and he knew that was irrational. During the meal little was said except please pass the whatever. He was relieved that the main dish tasted like chicken.


At the end of the meal Anok turned to them and asked for each of them to state their names once again and to explain them so that they could understand.


Blair blushed slightly as he glanced at Jim before he answered, “I think I know where your confusion lies. Jim isn't familiar with your names either. My name is Blair Jacob Sandburg and this is James Joseph Ellison.”

Ch'aska-Ti spoke abruptly, “You do not share names.”


T'ayma-Ti reached a calming hand toward his sentinel as they shared a quick glance. Then, hoping for further explanation he added, “Do you not choose a bonding name?”


Blair gave a small sigh, “No. That is not our way.”


In astonishment T'imta-Min asked, “Then you do not bond?”


Blair paled as he said, “We have not bonded, T'imta-Min. We ... did not have that opportunity on our world. I didn't even know about our world's bonding pools until another sentinel ...”


T'imta-Min interrupted in surprise, “You are bonded to another?”


In outrage Ch'ika-Min added, “... Yet you guide this one?”


Blair shook his head, “No! No, I am ...”


Jim thought he was beginning to understand this strange conversation, “T'ayma-Ti, another sentinel forced 'me' into the pools with her. Blair was ... too far away to stop it. After that, I thought the pools were too dangerous because the other sentinel went insane.”


Anok had to raise his hand to still the rising murmurs of the sentinels and guides. “That answers many questions from when they first sensed you. They are bonded. They knew you were not. That was why there was doubt about your intentions toward our own Guardian pairs. They feared you came to claim ours for your own.”


Blair stated faintly, “We're not bonded. Oh man, Alex wasn't bonded. Two sentinels and one guide, and none of us understood what to do.”


Anok answered gently, “No, but we can see that you guide this sentinel ... Would you wish to bond?”


Jim looked uneasy, “Would the bond take place in your pools? I 'saw' the other sentinel, Alex. I wouldn't risk that for Blair or myself, especially when I don't know what this bond really is. I would have said that we had bonded already. I take it that being friends, closer than brothers, is not all the bond is about.”


Sandburg stared at Jim.


Chief? Closer than brothers ... I meant that. Hey, I'm here ... with you ... just stepped through a wormhole ... onto an alien planet. I 'trust' you.”


Anok smiled, “It will be done.”



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Part 13

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These are not the pools of our ancestors. They are not the pools of the Tau'ri world. But these pools join-as-one the chosen companions, the Guardian Pairs known to the Tau'ri as Sentinel and Guide.”


Blair and Jim looked at each other as Anok's words continued. Their thoughts were not on this earth. They were not on these small pools, carved under the shelter of a waterfall. They weren't thinking of the beauty of this place, the pale green sky, the slightly skewed rainbow arching above the falls, or the subdued thunder as the water fell from the substantial cliff above them.


Jim wished he could read Blair's mind. He knew where his own thoughts wandered ... to Alex's catatonia and his own fear of going insane. He knew that was a dangerous 'place' to go so he pulled back to study his guide in closer detail. Blair was pale as a ghost, which was something else Jim didn't want to think about. Was Blair thinking about his encounters with Alex? He watched as Blair visibly shuddered. Jim reached out a steadying hand and was gratified to see Blair still his tremors and return the squeeze to his hand.


Blair said, “Together this time, Jim.”


Together.”


<>


It seemed ages passed ... yet, was it only an instant? ... and they arose together from the pools.



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Part 14

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It had been a productive visit. They'd made formal Second Contact with this society. It would remain a restricted planet. This had already been decided before they came here but the inhabitants were agreeable. The Sentinel and Guide would return for further study. There was a lot to learn, on both sides. Blair and Jim knew they had a lot to learn, about the planet, the people, and about themselves.


They received one more gift before they returned to Stargate Command. It came gift-wrapped ... actually it was tied and gagged, and they couldn't think of a better gift. He walked ahead of them and with ill grace toward the Gate.


The 'package' would be returned to the planet after being questioned about his activities. The inhabitants of PXP-812 had only loaned him to the SGC. Their own penal system had already sentenced this 'package' and his companions to hard labor. Their crime was the attempted kidnapping of a young Guardian Sentinel, whom he intended to 'guide'.


Blair grinned as he strode beside his sentinel, “Hey, Jim, do you think ...”


... that Brackett will like going back to Earth?” and Jim smirked, knowing full well that Lee Brackett could hear every word and was unable to say a word to their captors.


Yeah, you'd think he ...”


... might be a little worried about his welcome.”


He's probably thinking that the NID might ...”


... get their hands on him again. But we have to make sure ...”


... they don't release him again.”


I need to talk to my ...”


... contact in the NID? Wouldn't that ...”


... draw attention to us? I'll be careful. It might be worth it if ...”


... Brackett doesn't 'escape' again before he gets to serve his sentence. I know. I think we need ...”


... better prisons, like on an airless moon, ...”


... I like the way ...”


... I think?”


Yeah.”


You know we ...”


... have to stop finishing ... EACH OTHER'S SENTENCES!”


... EACH OTHER'S SENTENCES!”


Brackett had stopped to stare at them and Jim had, none too gently, prodded him into motion again.


Blair grinned at his sentinel, “Can you imagine ...”


... yeah, Simon would ...”


... freak! We'd freak them 'all' out, man.”


They grinned at each other ...


... BUT LET'S DO IT ANYWAY.”


... BUT LET'S DO IT ANYWAY.”


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finis