Unidentified White Male
Summary: After TSbBS. Something bad has happened so this isn't a totally happy future. There are two warnings at the end if you need them.
Warnings, Ratings: Fan Rated Suitable for Teenagers, Profanity
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 worked methodically, and efficiently. That part of his personal habits would probably never change. He continued working even though his mind was elsewhere. He stacked the fresh produce carefully before moving on to get another load. “Come on, John. Let's head out back. We've got a lot to do before we punch out.”
The blue-eyed, curly haired 'John' answered with a bare nod of his head.
Jim clapped a hand gently to his shoulder as they walked companionably to the delivery area. “You know, Chief, I could whip us up a good dinner tonight. How about it? You willing to trust my cooking?”
“You cook? I, I ... that would be good. C,can I bring something?”
“You just bring yourself and your appetite. You look a little skinny to me,” Jim couldn't help adding, but grinning so the kid wouldn't take it the wrong way.
“I, I'm hungry. I, I've been working all day. I could eat.”
“Then it's a date. Let's get the last of this produce out and get out of here.”
Jim watched as Blair, 'John', struggled to handle the next box. His left arm was weaker than it should be. Damn, the doctor he'd spoken to had assured him that Sandburg was doing fine physically, but he'd checked him out himself with his sentinel senses as soon as he'd found him. He needed to talk to the doc again and have him define 'doing fine'.
He thought back to that day a week ago, when they'd gotten the message from San Francisco of an unidentified white male matching Blair's description. He'd almost passed out thinking Blair might be dead until he read the contact number for the doctor on his case. The kid had been missing for over a month. The Major Crimes crew had searched for him franticly, putting in more overtime than the city would ever have paid for if it had been official. Records of a 'John Doe' had finally come to their attention from a hospital in San Francisco. The description fit and Jim had been on the next plane.
Dr. Wilson had been forthcoming with details since Simon had cleared the way for him and verified the Power of Attorney Jim held for Sandburg . The problem was that Blair had amnesia. Dr. Wilson hypothesized a trauma both physical and emotional. Jim had proven to the local cops who, what, and where Jim was from, and they researched the date of Blair's admittance to the hospital, but nothing obvious had turned up. There was no record of any situation the kid could have been in that could have caused it.
That left Jim with only the doc's recommendations to follow to reconnect with his own friend and partner. The doctor had said that Blair had been placed in lodgings and a job as soon as he was deemed able to care for himself.
So, here he was, schlepping produce while keeping a careful eye on 'John Doe'. It was so good to see his friend again, and to have his guide beside him, too. The senses had been unreliable but not absent. That was one thing that had kept Jim going in his search. He truly believed that if Blair had died, then he'd no longer have any control of his senses. That at best, he'd no longer be a sentinel and at worst, he'd not be sane. He privately considered that his own death came somewhere between best and worst.
Blair/John had already stopped a zone. His look of concern as he'd patted Jim's shoulder was enough to render Jim speechless which of course only deepened Blair's concern, so Jim forced a smile and a word of thanks, and a carefully worded 'obfuscation'. Thinking of that made the smile real and he swung an arm around Blair's shoulders and decided to invite him to dinner tonight. He needed to do 'something'.
He'd felt angry, impatient for so long. He wanted his friend back. He hoped he'd hid it well. The last thing he wanted was to upset Blair ... John, damn it. He'd almost slipped too many times. He couldn't call him Sandburg. He couldn't call him Blair, although he rarely had. For all the kid knew, the only name he had was 'John Doe'. So, Chief was a natural choice although the kid had looked at him oddly the first few times he'd used it. He'd wildly hoped that Blair had remembered, but he'd turned quickly away when he'd had to hide his disappointment.
But he'd made 'friends' with him. He was coming over tonight. Maybe he'd like to watch the game. The doc had said that familiar faces and activities could jog his memory. If something didn't happen soon ... but Jim had to reign in his impatience again. The doc said to give it a couple of weeks. He also said that revealing too much, too soon, could exacerbate the original trauma ... 'whatever' it was. Their friends back in Cascade were still working on that.
He'd picked up the salad greens at the produce market. He'd been working on his plans for a couple of days, just in case the right moment presented itself. Blair's special sauce, that's what Jim was going to make tonight. He had pretended that he couldn't guess the special ingredients when Blair had 'tested' him on it, at least the first time. He had figured that Blair had known he was being teased anyway. It was on the menu for this special ... first night.
Blair arrived at the small apartment Jim had subleased for a couple of months. It was a nice little place. It was on the second floor and the hills in San Francisco added to the climb, but Jim had a lovely, if sentinel enhanced, view.
Jim had planned several little surprises for the evening ... he opened the door before Blair could knock, and smiled warmly, “Come in, Chief. Make yourself at home.” Blair was startled but didn't seem curious about the 'welcome' at the door. He seemed a bit nervous, and quiet like always ... at least since whatever had happened to him ... to change him ... to almost take him away from Jim.
Jim pushed 'those' thoughts away fast. “You can hang up your coat there, Chief. Come and get a glass of wine while I finish up, and we can talk.”
Jim poured him a glass, then opened the refrigerator. “I made spaghetti. I hope you like it. I just need to finish the salad, and put the garlic bread in the oven to toast.”
“I, I can do the salad, Jim. W,we work with produce all day. I, I think I can handle that.”
smiled at that. Blair had rarely taken initiative since Jim had come
back into his life after the 'trauma'. It was good to see a little
spark there again. Supper went smoothly, and the game was enjoyed by
both, but no breakthroughs were achieved, and at that realization
Jim's enjoyment dimmed. It had felt so much like before.
When the game was over Jim grabbed his coat along with Blair. When he looked at him questioningly Jim shrugged and said, “I have a truck, Chief. I know it's a nice night but I'd still like to give you a ride home.”
“B,but I can walk home. It's not far.”
“And I'd rather you didn't take any chances walking this late at night. I wouldn't want any friend of mine to get hurt because I didn't make sure he got home safely.”
Those last words had been hard for Jim to say, but he'd make sure Blair got home safely this time. It became a 'habit' for Jim to give Blair a ride to and from work after that. It seemed the most natural thing in the world.
The Farmer's Market that Jim and Blair worked at served a wide clientèle. The weekend was the busiest. This Saturday Jim introduced two men to 'John'. They began discussing the quality of the selection while wandering the aisles with them. Jim was called away so Simon and Joel kept Blair busy, asking for recommendations, and urging him to give them a short tour.
They'd come with small plans in mind. Joel shared 'his' ostrich chili recipe with Blair, and Simon raved about his expertise with barbecued ribs. He and Joel shared some memories of picnics with 'friends'.
They'd arrived near lunch and, another part of their plan, asked him to join them for his break and cajoled Blair into joining them, too.
They'd been upbeat during their visit but they left subdued. It had been depressing to see their friend so shy and withdrawn in their presence. Blair was a good friend. He had 'never' been intimidated by them before, not even by Simon's well-used bellow.
Blair asked Jim to his place for supper on Tuesday. Jim hid his disquiet. It wasn't far from his place, but Blair's old warehouse, with the rats, and the drug dealing neighbors wasn't far below this new place.
Of course, social services had done their best. They'd found this damaged young man a place to live and a job. At least he wasn't homeless, or institutionalized. Jim had been in contact with them and knew for a fact that those had been definite possibilities.
Jim had done his Blessed Protector act one night. He'd followed Blair home and staked the building out. Blair had made friends with some of the neighbors, an elderly couple. He stopped in for a few minutes to leave some tomatoes he'd bought at the market, and left with a small package of cookies. The other neighbors seemed a mixed lot. He listened unashamedly to some normal sounding family quarrels and to a few teenagers hanging out on the corner. He was relieved to sense no obvious evidence of drugs. After a few hours he left for 'home'.
The produce had to be moved, no matter what else was going on in their lives. Jim and Blair worked side by side most of the day. It had been nearly three weeks when an incident almost turned deadly. A forklift driver was delivering a load when it shifted on the pallet. Blair was closest to the danger until Jim pushed him out of the way.
was in the waiting room when Jim was released.
“I know it looks bad, but I'll be fine.”
“Y,you look terrible. Is your arm b,broken? And your ankle?”
“Well, yeah, the arm is broken. You can be the first to sign my cast,” and Jim tried for a grin and failed miserably. He knew he'd have a hard time getting up to his apartment, especially with his truck still at work. What was he thinking? Neither one of them could drive. “At least the ankle's only sprained,” he sighed.
“I,I can get a cab. Are they going to let you take the wheelchair?”
“No, and I couldn't get it upstairs anyway,” sighed Jim. He knew he had to get somewhere he could lay down pretty soon. He 'really' needed to take some pain meds.
Blair hesitated, and Jim wondered what the kid was thinking.
“Y,you could come stay with me, Jim. I, I live on the ground floor,” Blair fairly whispered in his self-doubt. Blair was aware that Jim had a nice apartment and his own was barely livable, but it was also obvious that Jim needed help and the stairs would be a problem. “Y,you're ankle should be better soon.”
Jim smiled at his friend, too choked for words for the moment. He just nodded his head. Finally, “I have money for a cab. I appreciate the offer ...”
When he saw Blair bite his lip, he hurried on, “I'd really appreciate it. Thanks. I hate to be a burden to you, but you're the only friend I have in town. I hate to ask 'another' favor of you, but could I give you the key to my place so you can pick up some clothes for me?”
Blair looked surprised for a moment, then he asked, “Y,you'd give me your k,key?”
“You're a friend. You're doing me a big favor helping me out this way. ... I trust you, Chief.” And Jim watched with a grin as the kid actually bounced on his toes.
Jim's arm ached. His foot ached. He'd just growled at Blair. Could he get any 'meaner'. The kid had taken him in when he was injured. When Blair was barely able to take care of himself! Damn, that wasn't right. Blair could take care of himself just fine. He was a very capable person even with most of his memories lost. It was Jim that was a wreck. That could barely function. And he'd better straighten out his attitude!
“Chief? Look, I'm really sorry I yelled. I'm just feeling a little ... “
“Grumpy? Did you think I didn't notice?”
“Hey, did you hear that? I think you've been doing better controlling your stutter!”
“R,really? ...” and Blair went from happily surprised to depressed in one second flat.
Jim was quick though, “But that's good, Chief. Really good. It'll come. I know you've had a problem but you've been doing better. I noticed. Your arm's stronger, too, and you're not as quiet as you were, not as shy.... Hey! I'm grumpy?”
Blair grinned and said carefully, “Yes!”
Jim grinned back and said, “Okay. I'm grumpy. I can live with that.”
Blair grinned back cheekily, “No, I have to live with that.”
Blair's friends had tried for weeks to get in touch with his mother, but contact with Naomi had been even more intermittent since Blair became a cop. Her presence 'might' have made a difference but Jim wasn't really sure. She'd call when she was ready so the effort to make contact with her had finally stopped.
Henri's natural instinct was to look around the neighborhood with his hand on his gun. He'd be glad to be inside. He didn't know how Jim stood it here. Well, he was here because of Blair, they all knew that. But Henri wished his friends didn't have to live here, no way!
He, Rafe and Megan had planned a little excursion to the city by the bay for the weekend. It would be good to see their friends again, even though Simon and Joel's trip hadn't jogged Blair's memory. They had to be careful though, not to let something slip.
“Chief, I think I heard a car drive up. It might be my friends.”
Blair peeked out the window, “It looks like them. H,how you described them.”
They'd been invited for lunch, which Jim tried to help with, but someone with a broken arm and a sprained ankle was almost no help at all. Blair just shooed him out of the kitchen and told him to put his ankle on a pillow.
When lunch was nearly ready, Henri jumped up, “Hey, Hairboy let me get that ...”
Jim saw the stricken look on his face, and did his best to cover the slip, “Hey, Chief ... Hairboy is good name for you. Should I call you that instead of Chief?”
Blair looked disquieted. He didn't speak for a moment. He let the slip-up go, not understanding the reason behind the sudden tension. “No. Chief, I like. Not Hairboy.... Lunch is ready. M,maybe Megan could give me a hand?”
Megan smiled widely at the shyly put request, “I'd be happy to, mate.” And she gave him a little one-armed hug as she joined him in the kitchen.
Rafe waggled his eyebrows at Henri.
Henri's quick reply was, “Well, hell. She's prettier than I am.”
Jim almost snorted his beer.
Everyone relaxed for a lazy afternoon visit.
Simon showed up at Blair's door a few days later, looking as grim as Jim had ever seen him. Simon had planned it so that Blair would be at work. “Jim, we've got a problem.”
“Go on, Simon. How bad is it?”
Simon sat heavily on the sofa beside Jim. “Naomi's ... remains were located last week. They've just been identified.”
Jim was glad he'd already been sitting. “Simon, what am I going to do? How can I tell him? I haven't even told him who he is ... I have to talk to his doctor before I dare to say anything.”
Simon took Jim to the hospital to talk to Dr. Wilson.
“Detective Ellison, I would only be guessing about 'John's', Mr. Sandburg's, reaction to this news, but perhaps it's time to tell him the basics. If he handles that well, then continue as you deem necessary. He has come out of his shell remarkably well, and his minor physical problems have abated. In fact, I'm amazed that he has adjusted so well socially. You've done a remarkable job, but now, I think the next step is to introduce him to himself. If the trauma he sustained that caused his amnesia reasserts it's effects, then back off.”
“Blair's the remarkable one in this partnership,” Jim answered distractedly. His mind was busy processing the doctor's words. It wasn't all that comforting a prognosis but it was all he had.
Jim had Simon ship some personal items from Cascade. That gave him a couple of days to plan, and he was hoping for something concrete to say about Naomi's death.
The package had been delivered that afternoon and it sat, still unopened, on the table. When Blair arrived home from work, Jim told himself he was as ready as he was ever going to be. He called Blair to come sit with him for a moment.
“Chief, you remember Simon? He and Joel came to the Farmer's Market one Saturday.”
“Yeah. Is the package from him?”
“Yeah. I asked him to send me a few things that I'd like you to see.”
“Sure, Jim. Do you want me to open it for you since you still have your cast?”
It took only a moment to open, and then Jim was forced to start. “Chief ... listen. This is hard for me to say. I need you to give me the benefit of the doubt about what I'm going to tell you tonight. I asked Simon to send me a few things, hoping to offer some proof that I'm telling you the truth.”
“Truth? I ... don't understand.”
“Chief, you know ... that I know ... about your amnesia. I've talked to your doctor ....”
“Dr. Wilson? He told you about me?”
“Well, he told me about you after ... I told him about my friend ... about you. I knew you before your memory loss, Chief. Believe me, please, that I wanted to come and take you home with me right away but he said the trauma could have been both physical and psychological. He was worried that you could be hurt more if you were made to remember too soon. And since you hadn't remembered, maybe there was a reason that kept the memories lost. I didn't want to hurt you, Chief.”
“Too soon. And it's time now?” he asked worriedly.
Jim nodded and waited.
“It's been hard not knowing who I am. The doctor, he thought that maybe I didn't want to know? Maybe he's right. I, I have nightmares sometimes. When I wake up all I can remember is being scared. At the hospital they just called me 'John'. When no one came ... I, I thought I was alone anyway. You wanted to take me home? With you? Why now?” Seeing Jim's eyes glisten, he went on, “Is it bad?”
“I do have some bad news, but first, I have to tell you about you. You, my very dear friend, are Blair Jacob Sandburg. I've been hoping you'd remember me, or our friends. You've met them. They came down from Cascade, Washington to see for themselves that you were doing alright.”
“They? Not just Simon?”
“No. Simon, Joel, Henri, Rafe, and Megan.”
“My friends, too? Not just yours?”
“Yeah, hopefully we've got some photos in this box.”
There were indeed innumerable photos, and not just those treasured by Jim or Blair himself. They'd all sent their favorites: fishing with Simon and Daryl, playing baseball with the Major Crimes team, watching basketball while crowded around the television, poker parties, Little Stogie and all of them in tuxes. One of Jim's proudest pictures was of Blair's graduation from the Police Academy. That stopped Blair for a full fifteen minutes. Jim tried to answer his questions without delving too deeply into the reason behind it.
“Blair Sandburg. It's so good to be able to say your name.”
“Not just, Chief?”
Jim blushed slightly, “You were easy, Chief. I gave you lots of nicknames. Darwin, Guppy, Einstein ... well the list could go on, and on.”
“And I called you ...?”
“Jim. Sometimes, Big Guy. There is other stuff we have to talk about.”
Blair seemed to brace himself, “The bad news?”
Jim swallowed hard and nodded. Blair hadn't mentioned the sentinel stuff, so it could wait, but it took a moment before he could go on. Naomi had been such a vivacious, exuberant person. It was still hard to believe she was dead. And what if Blair had witnessed it?
“Blair, do you remember anything of what I've been telling you?”
Blair thought about it, but shook his head. He had tensed considerably, knowing there was bad news coming.
“I had Simon put in a picture of someone else. I told him to wrap it and put it in the very bottom of the box.” Jim pulled the last item free of the bubble wrap and showed Blair the picture of him and his mom.
eyes were wide and frightened. “I don't know her! I don't!”
Jim placed his hand on Blair's arm, “It's alright if you don't. You don't 'have' to remember right now. I'll tell you all I remember. That will have to be enough for now. Blair, her name is Naomi Sandburg. She ... was your mother.”
Blair eyes overflowed, “I don't remember. I don't! Is, is she dead?”
Jim nodded, trying to keep his own tears at bay. Blair needed him, so he couldn't fall apart.
“My mom,” he whispered. “When did she die?”
Jim cleared his throat, “She was just found and identified a few days ago. But they think she died about the time you disappeared.”
Blair looked alarmed, “I ... what happened? How did she die? Tell me.”
“She was shot twice. We don't know the circumstances. We thought maybe, someday, you might remember something. Blair, please listen to me. Please ... we're not even sure that your injury is related to this at all. So don't push to try to remember. You may not know anything about it.”
“Did Dr. Wilson think I'd ever remember?”
“He said there was a good chance. Most people do remember at least pieces of their past. But it could all be lost forever.”
Blair sat staring at the picture for a while. He looked at Jim and asked, “I really don't remember her. She's my mother. It isn't right that I can't even recognize her face.”
The next morning Blair didn't want breakfast, but Jim fixed toast for them both along with coffee. Blair looked like he hadn't slept a wink all night.
“I've been thinking, Jim. Living here with you has been ... familiar. Were we really close friends ... you know ... before?”
“We were 'very' close. We were roommates.” When Blair only looked curious and not surprised, Jim felt a surge of relief. “Being here together was almost like old times. And we were partners on the force. There's more that I need to tell you about that. When I first met you, you were in grad school. You were doing research for your PhD. You'd finally found someone that embodied your studies of tribal watchmen, of sentinels. You found me. And you are my guide.”
Blair looked around franticly.
“What? What is it, Blair?”
“I, I heard a, a howl ... and a growl. Didn't you hear it?”
Jim smiled broadly, “No. I think that was just for you. A welcome home. I think I have a lot more explaining to do. Then maybe we can make some plans about going home. What do you think?”
Blair was reintroduced to his life in Cascade. He eventually went back to work at the precinct doing a desk job until he was released back to active duty. Bits and pieces of his life came back to him but not the trauma of his mother's death. It was still an open case.
He learned to accept the friendship of those that had stood by him, and when he was ready, all of his friends were there for him when he finally released his mother's ashes into the Pacific.
The sentinel had no doubt as to the genetic nature of a guide. With no memories of his own, the guide still knew instinctively 'how' to guide, 'when' to guide, and 'what' the course of that guiding would be. The sentinel was grateful for that, and that they had found friendship once again.
1. Minor Character death.
2. Partial permanent amnesia but not altering the fact of the personal, sentinel/guide, or work partnership of Jim and Blair.