Quondam Guide

by ljc


Summary: They met years before.

Warnings, Ratings: It changes POV from Blair to Jim and back again a number of times. Rated G.

from WordWeb:

quondam: adjective: belonging to some prior time.

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.


Nine year old Blair Sandburg sat hunched over his book in the shade of a grand old maple tree in the park. He wasn't reading though. He was staring obliquely at a group of high school students playing a pickup game on the basketball court. He gave a long, slow sigh, knowing that he'd never be allowed anywhere near the older boys. He knew all too well that their ages didn't mix well socially. Not that that was his purpose in being here. He came here to watch, and it was better if he did it surreptitiously. Blair would just have to do his best to look invisible, because he had to be here. He had to watch Jimmy Ellison.


Jimmy Ellison was going to graduate next month. He'd already made some hard decisions. Coming here and spending time with his buddies was a last grasp at what he already considered his 'old life'. His preparations for the future were already underway and when he left for college in the fall, his father was going to get a rude awakening. Jimmy Ellison was going to take control of his own life. He'd no longer live under his father's arbitrary rules. The last clash with his father and his brother Steven had been the last straw. He was his father's son, whether he knew it or not.

Thinking of that last betrayal by Steven, and the undeserved and calculated punishment by his father, caused a flash of anger that pushed him to drive hard for the basket. His buddies watched in triumph as he scored yet again before the other team could stop him. Jimmy's jaw clenched, but he tried to relax when his buddies thumped him on the back for the deft moves on the court. He was going to be burning a lot of bridges come fall and he really didn't want to leave these relationships behind, too.

The game continued in rousing manner in the slanting sunlight of the Cascade afternoon. Jimmy found himself taking note of his buddies, the court, the park ... as if to solidify them in his memory. It was an odd sensation, as if everything was muted but sight. Voices mellowed, traffic sounds too. His own heartbeat and breathing were the only things that seemed steady, a counterpoint to the seemingly distant swaying of the trees in the breeze, the tang of hot asphalt, the swirl of figures of children and adults as he twisted and turned in his efforts on the court. Yet he seemed caught, again and again as he whirled ... by blue eyes. He heard the thump of his own heartbeat with an echo too close. And again. There. The kid on the bench.

Finally the game was over. He and his friends headed for their bikes, or jackets and books, left in heaps near the court. He passed close to the bench and heard a shyly spoken, “Nice game,” at which he stopped for a moment to stare. The kid ducked his head but still watched through his lowered lashes until Jimmy gave a quick nod and, “Thanks,” then left for home.


Blair sighed, and grinned a little. It was acknowledgement of a sort. He'd be there tomorrow to watch again, if they played tomorrow. If it didn't rain, as it often did in Cascade, Washington. Blair sighed again as he thought that he'd be there tomorrow if he still called Cascade home. Mom was getting restless. He hoped to finish the school year here, but doubted he'd get to finish the last day. It was supposed to be a fun day, too, with games and a bag lunch to eat on the school playground or at least a movie if it rained. He'd kind of hinted to his mom that he could be all packed and ready to go the 'next' day. Well, he'd just have to wait and see. He really wanted to come back. Jimmy was a good player, and for some reason, Blair needed to watch.

Next day found Blair again watching the pickup game, and Jimmy Ellison playing his heart out on the court. Blair watched with awe as Jimmy scored again and again.


Jimmy's race back and forth across the court blurred. No stark colors or figures this time. Jimmy's focus shifted to the flip of a page, a sneaker whacking a bench leg, and that thumping melded into a swooshing thump that grabbed his attention for a shockingly disturbing moment. He stumbled, and with difficulty wrenched his attention back to the court, eventually driving for the backboard once again, and scoring. The kids on the other team groaned repeatedly as the score against them crept up, finally conceding at a lopsided tally.

Jimmy grabbed his shirt from the ground and wiped his sweating face and neck. This time he was the one surreptitiously watching. He could feel something within himself stirring, but was bewildered. He didn't know what was building within him. What was it that drew his attention to this kid?

He didn't need this kind of distraction. He had plans to finalize. He'd realized that these last days with his buddies were a time for saying goodbye, for leaving his old life behind. That he'd been savoring these last, best, moments of 'home'. These were the moments he knew he'd miss, not the moments with his father and brother. Family 'moments' only brought pain and regret, now tempered with flashes of relief since he'd made his decision to leave it all behind and make a fresh start elsewhere. He finally pulled himself away and headed home.


Blair sat kicking the bench leg beneath his seat. He'd watched the plays, and he'd watched Jimmy Ellison especially. He had moved with determination, skill, and confidence. He reminded him of the big cats in the zoo. They moved with such grace that it was easy to be deceived about their strength, their power ... like Jimmy. Something about him was ... different. He watched through his lashes until he was out of sight.


Jimmy leaned on the fence that bounded the court. He stared at the empty bench feeling lonelier than he'd felt in a long time. He swiped his hand down over his face. He didn't understand it. He didn't know why he kept looking for the blue-eyed kid. But he felt uneasy, like something important, essential, had slipped away. Maybe it was just a result of his own restlessness. He decided to skip the game today. He grabbed up his books and gave one long backward look to the empty bench before heading 'home'.

<v><v><v> Years Later

Blair raced down the stairs at the hospital, rounding the corner at each landing and then continuing his downward flight, taking two steps at a time. In his head he berated himself, <McKay! I actually said McKay? Stupid, stupid, stupid!>

He finally reached the exit, pushing forcefully on the door and shoving it much harder than necessary. He jogged toward the far end of the parking lot and his Corvair. Reaching it, he fumbled, fuming, for the right key. He finally was able to fling himself into his seat in embarrassed frustration. He slapped his open palms on the steering wheel, the pain gaining him only a moments distraction.

He just knew he'd never see the cop again. His Holy Grail! He hunched down into the seat, hoping to catch a sight of the cop, the sentinel that he'd been searching for for years. Hoping to see some sign that the man didn't think he was an idiot!

He thought he'd missed him, when finally Ellison emerged from around the front corner of the building, and headed toward the same parking lot. Blair sat up a bit, trying to get a better look, a glimpse that would hopefully reassure him that he hadn't blown his chance with the sentinel. When the detective seemed to glance his way Blair hurriedly hunched lower, but still tried to keep sight of the man. The cop stopped for a moment, rubbing tiredly at his temples and squinting, seemingly in pain, probably from the sunlight.

Blair's thoughts raced. His senses are spiking! Oh man, there's got to be a way to control that. All of that input of sensory information ... how does his brain cope with it? Blair thought he might be able to devise techniques to help manage the input. He hoped so, because the overload seemed to be quite painful. He wondered if Ellison had ever experienced a zone. He wasn't certain they were inevitable, although with an untrained sentinel he'd take odds on it happening.

The cop squared his shoulders, and with a determined expression headed toward the other side of the lot. Blair's breathing slowed as he watched with awe. This man, this sentinel if he was right, was dealing with his gift under such adverse conditions. He'd managed to pull together some background information on Ellison. He'd had no training and from what he'd heard from his 'source', Ellison might even believe what the doctors were whispering about his supposed mental condition. Blair's heart clenched at the sheer courage of the man. Just watching him, his admiration for the man ... not just the sentinel, grew.

He thought back to that day, year's ago, when he was riding away from Cascade with Mom and her friends, to a time when he'd thought he'd never see Jimmy Ellison again. 'Something' had drawn Blair to that park, to stare with longing. The need he felt then may not have had a name, but it was real, and now he thought he knew what it was. He couldn't lose his sentinel again.

He longed to talk about that time with him. Longed to understand that wrenching feeling of loss. Longed to know if it was shared. He had so much to say to him. So much to teach him. But that would have to wait. He didn't want to scare him away, and he was so afraid that he might already have done that.

He felt there had to be more to this than just researcher and subject. He hoped it was the same for the sentinel. That the feeling went both ways and that it would encourage Ellison to consider letting Blair help him, study him, write about him. He dared not let himself believe that it could develop into friendship.

Yeah, first things first. First they'd have to work together on the sentinel senses. No ... first ... Ellison would have to agree ....


Detective Jim Ellison rounded the corner of the building, believing once again that the doctors had formed their own conclusions about his complaints about his senses. Once again his fear for his sanity nearly overwhelmed his firm grip on his emotions and his actions. And he spared a moment to wonder angrily what that fool kid “McKay” was all about.

All this flitted through his mind as he scanned the area ahead and all around. Long ago that had become instinct, survival instinct. That led to a momentary glimpse, across the parking lot. Blue eyes. He stifled a gasp, averted his eyes, and tried futilely to rub away the searing headache that had pulsed between his temples for most of the day. What? Blue eyes. He slowed slightly as he reached his car, as he skirted the edge of memories of a time long gone. In his car, he risked one more glimpse. He knew where he would be tomorrow. Fool kid or not, there was something ....