Summary: Family relationships can be twisted by love and pain, both for the family you're born with and the family you choose.
Spoilers: Remembrance, His Brother's Keeper
No warnings. Unbetaed. Rating G.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and Paramount. All stories are written with the love of the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories are property of the author.
Blair's mind was awhirl with thoughts as he drove to the loft to drop off the items he would need during semester break. Finally his thoughts centered on his sentinel, his friend Jim, and he sighed with frustration. The Mick and Aaron Foster case had blown up in their faces and Jim had been uncommunicative and sniping in turn.
Jim's plans to reunite with his father had withered to a phone call or two. Blair didn't know what to do for Jim in this case. Blair and his mother had always been on great terms, but Blair had never known his own father. What could he say to Jim to offer encouragement for the reconciliation? And should he? Jim had seemed shaken when he had revealed that his Dad knew about his senses. And he had no idea what William's thoughts or intentions were.
Blair was deep in thought as he started up the stairs at the loft two at a time. He bounced up the last two and stopped in surprise at the visitors waiting on his doorstep, William and Steven Ellison. He couldn't remember Jim arranging a meeting with his family. What's up with this, he thought? His natural friendliness dueled with the wariness their appearance caused.
“Uh, Hi Mr. Ellison, and uh, Mr. Ellison,” Blair stammered out. He blushed a bit at the awkwardness. “I didn't know you were coming by to visit. I'll just let you in and you can make yourselves comfortable until Jim arrives.”
“It's alright Mr. Sandburg. We came to see you actually,” said Mr. Ellison, senior.
'This can not be good,' Blair thought. Blair didn't know what to say to them as he let them into the apartment. He took their coats and offered to get them drinks, which they declined.
“Mr. Sandburg ... May we call you Blair? Please call me William and you have met Steven before, I know. I had hoped to catch you at your office, but the receptionist said you had left for the day but were heading home. I came to talk to you about Jimmy.”
“Jimmy ... ,” Blair had a very hard time thinking of Jim Ellison, ex-Covert Ops, ex-Army Ranger, Detective of Major Crimes, as 'little Jimmy Ellison'. He fleetingly wondered if he'd ever actually dare to call him 'Jimmy'. It might be more dangerous than calling the President 'little Georgie Bush'. “Well, ah, how can I help you ... William?”
William glanced at Stephen. Stephen nodded back as if encouraging him. William glanced down at his watch, reached up to twitch his tie and looked up finally at Blair. Now that William was here it was hard for him to get started on this uncomfortable topic. He tried to ease into it with what he considered innocuous chitchat, “Well, you've lived here with Jim, for a while .... ”
Blair had observed the nervous mannerisms. He had certainly taught long enough to know the signs. He fervently hoped the conversation so far was just a delaying tactic. “Well, yeah. It's been more than two years. When my place burned down Jim let me move in for a week.” At William's solemn stare Blair continued, “That was kind of a joke, you see. A week ... Well, we just got along, as odd as everyone seems to think that is, and I stayed. Jim let me stay.”
Blair wouldn't say it. He wouldn't. He was not repeating THOSE rumors to Jim's father! Besides, it might not be why they were here. He was becoming increasingly uneasy himself. He was beginning to think that those rumors might be the least disastrous reason they were here.
Blair attempted to refocus the direction of this conversation, “Well, I'm more than a little curious about why you want to talk to me.”
William leaned toward Blair and with a sigh, firmed his resolve as he continued, “It's taken a while to gather my courage to approach you. The reason I'm here is to ask for your help. I've seen you with Jimmy. I know you're good friends and I'm glad he has that. I know I made a mess of things when he and Steven were children. We've lost so much time to misunderstanding, foolish pride, and stubbornness and I don't want to lose any more. You may be my best hope of making up with Jimmy. I came to ask for your help. I know I mishandled my relationship with my sons, but with Jimmy most of all.”
William sighed deeply as he gathered himself to continue. He reluctantly revealed, “This is hard for me to admit. When Grace, my wife, asked for a divorce, I still loved her very much. I hardly knew what to do, how to react. Divorce wasn't the everyday occurrence that it seems to be now. Well, I threw myself into my work hoping to ease that pain a little. But I ended up cutting myself off from the love of my sons. When I discovered Jim's friendship with Karl Heydash, Bud, I have to admit that I was terribly jealous and hurt. I saw how Bud and Jim came to care for each other, and well, to be honest, I was furious. I felt it was another rejection. I'm afraid I lashed out at Jim, and at Steven, too, pitting them against each other for my attention. I destroyed my relationship with my sons and their love for each other.” With a weary sigh he looked to Steven, who tried awkwardly to comfort his father with a hand on his shoulder.
Blair felt badly for William, for the whole family. But Jim was his friend and his heart ached for the rejected child that Jim had been; first by his mother, then his father, then at odds with his little brother. Plus he'd witnessed a murder and the loss of a mentor, Bud. He could have only so much sympathy for William. “I don't know what you expect me to do. It has to be Jim's choice to contact you. I have tried to encourage him, but you hurt him badly. If he has decided to back off, then I have to support him.”
William seemed subdued when he finally replied to Blair, “I have a lot to make amends for with my sons. I had hoped that with a little encouragement from someone close to him that it would help us to repair our relationship. I know that may have been unrealistic.”
“William, after Jim saw you during the Foster case, he tried to keep in contact. I don't know what happened, but the phone calls dwindled and the meetings didn't happen. That takes both sides to fix. I'm not sure it's something I should encourage if you're not serious,” Blair answered as honestly as he could.
William seemed defeated, older, “I hoped you could use this information somehow to help us heal the breach. I know I was supposed to be the adult, and I failed Jim badly. I came here to ask for your help in this matter. But only if you think it would be to Jim's benefit. This has to be for Jim, not just for me. If you think I should back off, then that's exactly what I'll do.” He looked earnestly into Blair's eyes as he tried one last plea, “I have always loved my sons, Blair. This really could be our last chance at being a family.”
Blair considered what William had said. William's feelings of jealousy and rejection were concepts Jim had never mentioned in relation to his father. Jim had never picked up on these reasons for William's actions. At least it wasn't anything he had talked about. Was this something Jim could relate to, maybe even forgive?
Blair could understand those feelings. He'd certainly been afraid of Jim's rejection at times, and right now he could feel jealousy growing. Blair thought of Jim as his brother. Could he share Jim with Steven? Would Steven become jealous of Jim and Blair's friendship? Would Jim reject him or grow more distant if he and Steven did reconnect? Blair felt ashamed of his own reactions, but he couldn't stop them. And what about William? He couldn't handle his relationships with his own sons. He wouldn't want a down-and-out grad student hanging around. Painful, hurtful memories came to mind as he remembered that William wouldn't be the first person to accept Blair's help and then exclude him.
He was angry about being put in this position, but he believed William and Steven were serious about attempting a further reconciliation. Could he help heal the family dynamics? Blair had never thought family counseling would be considered part of his Shaman duties for his sentinel. But he'd been given the opportunity to do this for Jim; to give him back the rest of his family. If it was Jim's idea to back off from them, then he'd have to try to find out if it was a conscious decision or just bad timing or something else. He absently rubbed at the knot in his stomach. He'd redouble his efforts to find a way, for Jim's sake. After all, the only one who had anything to lose was Blair.