Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Burton Awards 2001 NomineeSummary: Blair is kidnapped. Don't worry, you know the tall guy that did it. A short, gentle smarm piece from Jim's POV, especially for those who enjoy a thoughtful Jim and sleepy Blair. It was either this or "Blair Gets Narcolepsy."

This is for all my friends who have been patiently waiting for a story, knowing how busy I am. Thank you.

Picture courtesy of Rike.

My Empyrean
by Robyn
September 1999

I glance sideways at the young man listing to his left, sleeping in the passenger seat of the moving pickup. Fond feelings manifest themselves in my quiet smile as we drive down the road, when the irony hits me.

I, Detective Jim Ellison, have just committed a terrible crime. Something I would never let anyone else get away with -- not in a million years.

I've kidnapped Blair Sandburg against his will.

Well, sort of.

It was a justified abduction, okay? It's Sunday. A day-off Sunday, no less. I got out of bed at 7 a.m. and the kid was already up several hours before I was, sitting at the dinner table, stacks of papers strewn across it so high they almost hid his face, grading those awful things. Well, some of them are awful in my opinion. Trust me, I've read a few. Anyway, there he sat, paging through and marking term paper after term paper as if there were a fire built under him. Where does he get that energy? That concentration? That stubborn, hard-headed resolve to finish his task? Yeah, yeah, takes one to know one. But he only stopped for what I'd call a mere snack around 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., and even I know when I gotta stop to eat.

At 10:30 p.m. I decided I'd seen enough. Fifteen and a half hours of encyclopedic rambling about Machu Pichu and the so-and-so Indian tribe is enough to drive anyone insane, even a die-hard anthropologist, and I wasn't going to let that happen to my partner if I could help it.

So I kidnapped him.

I assure you, it was a very civil, non-traumatic abduction. I simply escorted him out to the truck in a professional, no-nonsense-you-had-better-not-try-anything way, put him in the passenger's side of the cab, locked and shut the door and ran around to the other side to start up the old truck and accelerate out of the parking lot before he could escape. Okay, so I probably threw in a little Ellison glare to make sure he knew I meant business.

The glare was really little, I promise.

I grin again to myself as I imagine confessing to the crime in Simon's office. After all, I admit my motives are just a little bit selfish. I just wanted to share something special with Blair. I wanted him to see something that doesn't happen very often, and tonight is the perfect night for it. With our busy schedules and nature's unpredictable whims, it may be our only chance for a long time.

We're deep in the forest outside Cascade now. The headlights glint off the asphalt road and the evergreens lining both sides. There it is -- I see the gravel turn-off coming up that I've been looking for. As I make the left turn off the paved road, the pickup sways a little as it sinks into the crunchy gravel and the tires meet more resistance. I look briefly to my right as I straighten the steering wheel. Blair sways gently back and forth with the truck's movement, his head bobbing slightly, but he still doesn't wake up.

The ability to sleep through anything must be a grad student thing. Or a Sandburg thing. Or both...

In a matter of minutes, the lofty pines and firs part in front of us as I drive the truck into a large meadow clearing. Rocks no longer crunch beneath the tires as the ground transitions to grass-covered terrain. Turning the ignition and headlights off, I watch as silent darkness falls upon the meadow once again like a gentle blanket. Only sounds of the night meet my ears -- the synchronized chirping of crickets, a few nocturnal animals rustling in the undercover, the faint trickling of a brook deeper in woods.

A quiet sigh escapes from my partner as he shifts in the seat, subconsciously sensing the cessation of the truck's movement. But soon his even breathing resumes and Blair lolls to one side again, eyes closed.

He still sleeps.

I feel a little guilty about waking him. He's obviously exhausted and needs his rest. I reach for the keys to start the truck again, but something makes me lean forward to glance up into the sky through the windshield's glass. My heart beats faster at what I see. Only a few more minutes and it will be... Sorry, buddy, I think silently to my friend. You have to see this. I know you'll love it. Then I'll take you home and you can sleep all you want.

I reach out, placing my hand softly on his arm, shaking it gently. "Chief. Chief, you with me?"

Blair murmurs quietly, shifting in the seat again.

"Blair. Blair, wake up, buddy."

"Mmmmm?" This time he murmurs a little more loudly, and I watch in the darkened cab as his eyes finally flicker open. "Jim? Where're we?" he slurs sleepily. His voice makes me smile.

"Sorry to wake you up," I say softly. "We're in the forest near Jacksonville. I want to show you something."

"In the forest, man?" he mumbles sleepily. "This isn't a crime scene, is it?"

I chuckle. "No, Chief. Something special. I'll come around and help you out of the truck. Don't want you falling out of the cab or anything."

"Ha-ha, Jim," Blair mumbles as his left arm attempts a pathetically weak swat in my direction. A smile passes across his face, making me feel good inside. "I'm awa --" His words are cut off by a huge yawn.

"Hold on, okay?" I chuckle again.

In a moment, I'm out of the truck and around to the other side, carefully opening the passenger door as I watch Blair through the window as he yawns largely again, rubbing his eyes. He steps out of the truck, swaying slightly since his legs seem to be still asleep. "Whoa," I say as I reach around both his shoulders with my arms to support him. He shivers as the night air envelops him with its breath. With one arm, I reach into the cab for his coat which I fortunately tossed in prior to our impromptu ride. I drape it across his shoulders and wrap his coat and my arms snugly around him, hugging his back close to my chest so he won't feel so cold. After a few moments of holding him close, Blair warms up enough for his shivers to cease.

Together, we turn and shuffle in tandem toward the back of the truck in an awkward but humorous step.

"What're you doing?" Blair murmurs as we slowly make our way through the grass.

"We're gonna be here for a few minutes," I explain, "and I didn't think you were in any condition to stand up the whole time. So we're sitting down."

"Wha?" asks Blair. But as we near the lowered tailgate of the pickup which I had quickly let down when I first got out of the truck, he chuckles in understanding. "We're gonna have a tailgate party. Did you forget to invite other people, Jim?" he teases.

"Nah, Chief. Tonight, this party's just for us," I answer.

We come to a halt at the end of the truck. I can tell Blair's looking sleepily at the tailgate, wondering where he's going to get the energy to get up onto it. I laugh to myself, as I turn my partially awake partner around to face me and I place my hands under his arms. "Up you go, sleepyhead," I say as I help him up onto the tailgate. Then I pull myself up to sit next to him on the truck bed.

With both of us settled with our legs dangling off the edge of the truck bed, I lift my eyes up. We have a fantastic view of the meadow spreading all around us and the massive night sky hanging quietly above us.

The moonless sky is filled with a million stars, concentrated in the bright sparkling river traveling above us which forms the edge of the Milky Way. The mysterious beauty of the infinite heavens penetrates my very being, speaking to the something inside all of us that has always wondered about our origin, our meaning -- our destiny. For a moment, everything in my life falls into perspective as I behold the thousands of galaxies, clusters, planets, and nebulae visible to my eyes, each one unique in color, shape, and pattern.

Beside me, Blair is gazing up at the sky as well. He breathes in deeply, his deep blue eyes wide as they adjust to the darkness. I hear him catch his breath momentarily as the hundreds of stars gradually blink into view for him. Without the light pollution of the city, this night sky transcends the ordinary boundaries of awe and mystery for both of us, and silence is all that is worthy for this perfect moment in time.

Several minutes pass. Then Blair speaks softly. "So did you just get the urge for stargazing, Jim?"

I sigh, smiling sheepishly. "No. Yes. Well, yes and no," I stutter. "We can do stars anytime. But tonight there's a special show on."

"I don't see anything, man."

"Shhh. Just wait. It's about to happen," I assure him as I scan the heavens with a visual sweep.

"What's about to happen?" he demands.

"There!" I point excitedly to an area of sky slightly east of the zenith.

Blair follows my direction immediately as we both focus on the area of sky where I've already begun to see it.

Seconds pass. Then Blair gasps. He sees it too! Glowing streaks of electric green, sapphire blue, then firey red and twilight violet sweep across the blackness of the sky as if drawn by an artist inspired, compelled by ultimate ecstasy.

"The aurora," breathes Blair, his vision fixed on the sky and his face filled with wonder.

"Yes," I whisper.

Empyrean by RikeThe phenomenon floods the previously colorless sky with vivid color only the northern lights can create. The aurora borealis plays before us like an optical symphony rising gracefully in a glorious crescendo to meet our eyes. Compared to previous instances, this aurora is easily the brightest and most colorful we've seen at this latitude in years. This one will be brilliant enough to be seen in Cascade city proper, but I am glad I drove us into the wilderness so we could experience its full beauty, unhindered by the city lights. Usually the northern lights are difficult to predict unless one has access to sophisticated atmospheric sensors and technology. Fortunately, I had been outside earlier today and noticed the very beginnings of this aurora, and was lucky enough to predict that its brightness would peak tonight.

As we watch the blues, greens, and reds streak across the sky in ever-changing patterns of harmonic chaos, I think of how my life has changed from the constancy of a moonless night to the brilliance of one filled with colors of the aurora -- how I am able to experience this visual celebration beyond what I ever imagined possible. I think of Blair and our friendship, which is beautiful in spite of chaos -- because of chaos -- and how it will surely last as long as the northern lights return to delight our planet's inhabitants.

I think of how glad I am to be sharing this night with my best friend, and the feelings of joy and amazement reach an even higher level inside me.

As I lose myself in my thoughts and the traveling lights moving effortlessly above me, I feel Blair lean slightly toward me. I reach my arm behind him, curling it around his shoulder and inviting him to relax more closely against me. He does, and his presence calms me, centers me like it has done so many times before.

Blair leans his head against my shoulder, and I feel him sigh in comfort, the way he does just before he falls asleep. Gradually, his muscles relax one by one. I hold him just a little more securely against myself, supporting him so he doesn't need to worry about falling over.

As I look up at the sky again, the aurora has faded a little, and I know it will be over soon. Heaven. The word spontaneously comes to my mind. I recall an afternoon last week when I was straightening the loft. One of Blair's books caught my eye as I picked it up from a wayward spot on the coffee table. "Native American Empyreans -- Ancient Visions of Paradise," read the title. My curiosity piqued, I called over to Blair who was sitting at the kitchen table deep in thought over some lecture notes. "What's an empyrean, Chief?" I had asked.

Blair had turned toward me, a confused look on his face. I lifted the book, gesturing to its cover. Then he grinned. "Empyrean -- that means heaven, man. That's a book about Native American beliefs of the afterlife -- you know, heaven, paradise."

"Ohhh," I had nodded. I resumed my cleaning and he resumed his studying. I'm not much of a big-word kind of guy. But somehow this one stuck with me.

Blair is breathing slowly and evenly now, snuggled closely against me. Soon, I'll have to wake him again so we can go home and he can sleep in a real bed, but I postpone that for a little while longer since he seems to be comfortable.

As I view the heavens above and feel my friend sleeping beside me, I realize what this is -- what's really important to me. My senses within me, the universe before me, and my guide beside me to share it all with. This is my heaven. My paradise.

My empyrean.

- The End -