by ljc


Summary: Is valor a result of being in the right place at the wrong time, or is it ingrained in one's character? How much can one person lose before he turns away from anything that promises closeness? No warnings. Rated PG for a word.

Spoilers for The Switchman and Siege.

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.


The medal awards ceremony was over. Jim and Blair were returning to the loft they shared with relief that the whole thing was over, and regret for those whose lives were shattered by Kincaid.

Blair slipped off his tie and stood by the doorway to his room, nervously scrunching and releasing the poor thing as he considered what to say. Unusually for him but only for the time being, he opted for silence. He needed to get into comfortable clothes and relax. So did Jim he guessed, because his roommate slowly went upstairs to his bedroom.


Blair put a teakettle on and opened one of the balcony doors. A little fresh air wouldn't hurt while he worked on a light dinner. He watched as Jim came down the stairs and headed for the fridge. When he pulled out a beer Blair held out a cup of tea, with honey, the way Jim liked it. He bristled for a moment then put the beer back.

“Okay Sandburg. I get the message,” and he turned to exit the balcony doors.

Blair was relieved that Jim wasn't so lost that he didn't understand. Beer was to relax, and too much was to lose yourself. Tea was to relax and to remember.

Blair allowed his friend the time to reflect then called him in for dinner, which they shared in near silence.

When the evening's chores were completed Jim sat down to catch the news before the Jags game.


“This is Don Haas, KCDE News, reporting. Today was a somber day in Cascade, as it remembered six officers and support staff that were murdered in the siege of police headquarters last month. Governor Matthews and Mayor Adamson were on hand to award posthumous Medals of Honor and Mayor's Awards to those officers and staff ....”

“Jim. Are you okay man?” asked Blair quietly.

“NO Sandburg, I am not okay. Okay?” Jim growled.

Blair bit his lip before withdrawing to his room.

Jim sighed and turned off the news after Haas had listed the deceased. He walked slowly into the kitchen and put his cup away. He turned to Blair's room and hesitated, but continued when he could hear Blair's distress.

He walked in far enough to lean on the doorway. Blair was looking at his own medal, the Civilian Service Medal. Blair slowly closed the box and looked at Jim.

“I know you're upset Jim. I have my own nightmares of that day, but you lost friends. It was 'your' station that Kincaid invaded and I understand your grief even if I can't wholly share it. But man, you can't treat me like an enemy. I'm here to help you. I ... I'd like to be your friend if you'll let me. Don't shove me away.”

“Kincaid's men were in the station before I left Sandburg. Why didn't I notice, hunh? What good are the senses? I lost more men that day. They may not have been in Major Crime, and they may not have been under my command, but you said it yourself, 'I protect the tribe'. Well, I couldn't do it that day, could I? And people died. You almost died. Daryl. Most of Major Crimes. Captain Taggert. I have to rethink this Sandburg,” and Jim pulled angrily away.

Blair walked to the door before Jim could get far, “Jim, I said protect the tribe, not save 'everyone's life every time'. You didn't want to be seen as some kind of superman. Well, you're not! Okay! You are not superman! You can't do it all, man. Give yourself some slack Jim. This guilt isn't yours to bear. It's Kincaid's, and I know he doesn't give a damn, but you can't claim it. I won't let you. I've got a medal in there. Today I was told I was a hero. But I didn't save a life, except maybe I helped to save my own. Some hero. I suppose I did distract them for a while. If that helped, great. But there's a lot of guilt to go around Jim. You don't think that every cop that got caught in that fake disaster Kincaid set up doesn't feel even worse than you do? If not for you and your senses, it 'would' have been a lot worse. Simon told me what you did man. He said you were awesome. Do you think anyone else could have ended it better? You can play what-if's if you want to, we all can. We all have regrets. There must have been something else we should have seen, something else we could have done, something .... I don't know what else to say. We can only go on from here Jim. Just don't shut me out.”

Jim turned and went up the stairs without a backward glance.

Leaving Blair feeling frustrated. No. He wasn't going to let him get away with it. Blair walked steadily across the room and up the stairs, until he could see Jim staring at his own medals, laid out in a row on his bed. Rows of medals, and not just from today. Oh my God, Blair thought as he stopped at the top of the stairs a moment. Then he went to stand beside Jim. He placed one comforting hand on his shoulder. “It's going to be alright Jim. I'm not going anywhere. We'll do the best we can man. That's all we can do. Just remember, I'm not going anywhere, my friend. We're in this together now.”

Jim turned dull eyes on Blair, “But that's the point. You haven't been in this very long Chief, and you already have regrets. Are you sure that's somewhere you should be ... somewhere you want to be, Chief? Beside someone like me.”

Blair thought for a moment, “Veronica Sarris and Garrett Kincaid are two sick, evil people that are locked away now, because of you. I'm here to back you up remember? Just don't push me away, okay?”