Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Summary: A father's views on his son. Angst and sentimentality. Spoilers for Remembrance (and a few lines of dialogue); brief mentions of Switchman and His Brother's Keeper.

Note: I am basically using what has been said in episodes in regards to Jim's family, rather than try to figure out the somewhat screwy timeline since it's just *way* too confusing for my poor little brain. ~grin~

Written in response to stories which paint William Ellison as the enemy, rather than a father who didn't know how to communicate with or how to relate to his children, especially Jim. A thank-you to Mrs. Fish for posting the pictures from the Remembrance album.

Beta'ed by Robyn and Hephaistos -- Thank you!

A Father's Eyes
by Becky
June 2000
(edited slightly July 2000)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.
~Lady Bird Johnson~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Exasperation and worry cloaked with anger filled his voice. "Now you got to stop pretending or people are going to think you're a freak! You understand?" In front of him, Jimmy's eyes clouded with hurt, but William continued, wanting his son to finally get it. "Huh? Is that what you want? For people to think there's something wrong with you?"

Jimmy's voice was small as he answered. "No."

Straightening, William nodded. "All right. Then wise up." Turning, he stormed down the hallway, heading for his room. His younger son appeared from behind the bathroom door. Stevie's eyes were wide with shock -- he'd heard the argument and didn't understand what his cherished older brother had done wrong.

"Jimmy..." Stevie started to move forward, but William caught his arm and gave him a little push toward his own room.

"Jimmy needs some alone time right now, son. Leave him be." He ignored the soft choked sound of Jimmy holding back tears, and the echo of his bedroom door opening and closing. Stevie nodded mutely and William released his arm.

Continuing on to the sanctuary of his own bedroom, William closed the door and sank onto the bed. Scrubbing his hands over his face, he wondered just where he'd gone wrong with Jimmy, why he was so...different, why he was able to see and hear things other people couldn't. When the senses thing had first started, he'd thought it was just a phase resulting from too many comic books. A year later, William had then been struck with the horrifying notion that Jimmy had some kind of mental problem. But then, slowly, he realized that everything Jimmy saw and heard from far away was real, was true.

Finally, he'd been faced with the fact that Jimmy was just...different. And 'different' wasn't something he could allow. He didn't want his son taken away from him. He didn't want his son to be laughed at or hurt. He wanted Jimmy -- and Stevie -- to enjoy happy lives, to be well-liked, to be respected.

William sighed and leaned forward, resting his face in his hands. And so I just yelled at my son, told him what people would think of him, accused him lying, of making up stories. Grace would've called me harsh. Grace, who had asked for a divorce two years after Stevie had been born when their marriage, such as it was, had crumbled. Grace, who didn't want the responsibility of children as she rebuilt her life without him. Grace, who had left.

Jaw tight, William sat up and stared at his shadowy image reflected on the glass-covered picture on the opposite wall. At least I stayed, Grace. At least I love my children enough not to abandon them. I may not be around much, but at least I'm here. At least I care enough to want the best for them instead of running away. He blew out a breath. Enough.

Standing, he left his room and headed toward the stairs, pausing only briefly when he heard the quiet voices of his sons inside Jimmy's room. Realizing that he should've known Stevie would go to his older brother, William shook his head and continued downstairs to his den. He had work to do.

It wasn't until years later that William realized that the day Karl Heydash was killed was the last time he ever heard anything about Jimmy's abilities.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
His father watched him across the gulf of years
and pathos which always must divide a father from his son.
~John Marquand~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Diffused light from the fading sunset spilled into the living room where a man sat alone on a little-used couch; a lamp on the table next to him added to the soft glow of the room. Cradling a snifter of brandy in one hand, and a photo album in his lap, the man flipped the pages of the album slowly, examining each picture, not really hearing the quiet classical music playing in the background.

A woman came to the entranceway and softly cleared her throat. "Will that be all?"

The man looked up and smiled. "Yes, Sally, that'll be all. Thank you. And good evening."

Sally nodded and returned the smile briefly. "Good evening, Mr. Ellison."

William Ellison's eyes refocused on the album as he turned yet another page. He ran a finger down the edges of the newspaper clipping covered by protective plastic.

Military Hero Joins Local Police Force

A soft smile flitted over his face. He'd been proud of Jimmy that day. He'd always been proud of Jimmy...even when he worried about him and tried to convince his young son to keep his 'differentness' quiet...even when he'd gotten scared and angry and yelled at the ten-year-old boy. His smile faltered as he remembered how things had slowly begun to change after that. I did my best...I tried...I provided for them the best I knew how. Regardless of his efforts -- or perhaps because of them -- he, Jimmy, and Stevie had drifted apart. But still he'd been proud of his son...even during the years that Jimmy was gone. Staring into the distance, William wondered if his son knew how he felt, knew that he was proud of him.

And knew how much he missed seeing him.

He hadn't seen Jimmy in so long. Stevie still came around from time to time and sent him the occasional card, even if it was usually just his name signed after a standard greeting. But his older son...his older son had left on his 18th birthday, enlisted in the Army, and never looked back. William had watched from afar and listened to friends of friends of friends who informed him that Jim Ellison rose in the ranks quickly to become a captain. And he'd mourned from afar when that captain and his team had disappeared.

And rejoiced silently when he'd been found again 18 months later.

William had been surprised to hear that Jimmy had returned home to Cascade and joined the police force. Wanting to make the first step toward seeing him again, he'd sent a letter to him at the Police Department. It had been returned unopened. He tried again a few months later with the same results. And so he'd waited...and waited...for a call, a visit, even a card. But nothing came. Not even when Jim got married -- ever so briefly -- to a fellow officer, Carolyn Plummer. He wondered what his daughter-in-law had been like and what had gone wrong with their marriage.

And now...now it was seven years later since Jimmy's return from Peru. Seven years of being alone and growing old and realizing just how much he missed having a family. Seven years of newspaper articles that spoke of his son's deeds in protecting the city and its inhabitants.

Detective Blows Criminal Ring Wide Open
CPD Detective Receives Mayor's Commendation
Assassination Attempt Thwarted
Fast-Acting Cops Save Hundreds of Lives
Det. Ellison Named Officer of the Year

He paused and looked at the last and most recent article, touching the inset picture of Jimmy's face. Through the grapevine, he'd heard that Jimmy and Stevie had reunited around that time, renewing their relationship after a 15-year gap.

William sighed quietly and closed the album. "And just maybe..." He smoothed one hand down the cover, fingers running lightly over the embossed name on the shiny surface. "Maybe."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
~Paul Boese~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After the doctor left him to attend another patient, William sat up gingerly on the edge of the bed in the curtained-off examining room of the ER. Ignoring the trembling in his hands, he slowly buttoned his shirt. Jimmy had stayed with him until the doctor arrived, then disappeared beyond the curtain with a promise to return later.

"Knock, knock," a male voice, not Jimmy's, called from just outside.

"Come in."

A hand pushed the curtain aside and the young man who'd helped him walk out of the wooded area to the playing field earlier stepped inside. Blair Sandburg -- his son's partner according to the articles he'd read -- a partner who wasn't a cop. This confused him a bit, but everything he'd heard told him that Sandburg was a good man to have at your side.

Blair smiled nervously and took a few careful steps toward him. "Uh, Mr. Ellison, hi. Jim asked me to wait with you if he didn't get back before the doctor left. He's been trying to get hold of Steven before he hears about this from somebody else. And since he can't use his cellphone in the hospital, he's outside...somewhere. And I'm babbling. Sorry." He bounced up on the balls of feet, then settled again as he laughed a little. "I'm not real sure what I can say to you, um..."

William chuckled. "Somehow I doubt that, Mr. Sandburg. You seem like someone never at a loss for words."

Blair blinked. "You know who I am."

"I've...watched Jim from a distance. I've seen you in the newspaper and on television, always by his side."

"I'm his partner."

William nodded. "So I understand." He reached across the bed for his sweater, but a pain running up his side stopped him. Wincing, he pulled his arm back and closed his eyes, willing the pain to go away. A hand touched his shoulder and he glanced up to see Blair hovering next to him, concern written on his face.

"Are you all right?" Without waiting for an answer, Blair snagged the sweater and carefully helped him put it on. "Here. You gotta take it easy for awhile. Trust me, I know."

Before William could query Blair on that remark, Jim's voice came through the curtain. "Chief?"

Blair turned his head just long enough to answer. "In here, Jim."

A moment later, the curtain parted and Jim entered the exam area. William watched with quiet interest as Jim first touched Blair on the back, then turned all his attention to him, resting a hand on William's shoulder. "Hey, Dad, you doing okay? What'd the doctor say?"

William smiled. "I'm doing okay. The doctor said I just needed to rest, take it easy, maybe take some aspirin."

"Good, good." Jim nodded, then seemed to hesitate, looking between William and Blair. "Uh, Dad, about what we were talking about earlier, about you knowing, um..." He trailed off, chewing on his lower lip.

Blair suddenly shifted on his feet, then started to back away. "I'll just, uh, wait, uh," he gestured toward the curtain, "outside. Okay?" When Jim didn't say anything, Blair slipped beyond the curtain and out of sight, leaving the two men alone.

William spoke up quietly. "Jimmy...Jim, it's okay."

Jim shook his head and rubbed a hand over his eyes. "No. No, it's not okay. I shouldn't've run off like that. I...I'm sorry. I was...I was upset, I guess. All this time, you knew that I was...that I was different..." His jaw muscles jumped in his cheek.

"Special, Jimmy," William broke in. "You're special, not different. I know that now." He pushed himself off the bed and landed a bit unsteadily on his feet. Jim's hand moved automatically to his arm, supporting him. William reached up and softly touched Jim's face with one trembling hand. "And you're my son. I love you. I never meant to hurt you."

"Dad..."

"I'm just sorry I was never more of a father to you when I had the chance." He lowered his hand and looked down to fiddle with the sweater buttons. Silence fell between them and after a long uncomfortable moment, William started to pull away. "I guess maybe we'd better get going. Maybe you could give me a ride home, if it's not too much trouble." He started towards the door, but Jim's voice stopped him.

"Dad, wait. Wait."

Raising his head, William met his son's eyes and saw himself reflected in their depths.

Jim took a breath, then spoke in a rush. "Look, we can't...we can't change what happened. But maybe...maybe we can try... Maybe we could have lunch...or something?" The look in Jim's eyes reminded William of the Jimmy of years past asking his father to attend his football games -- before he'd stopped asking.

William smiled. "I'd like that. I'd like that a lot."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
We do not remember days; we remember moments.
~Anonymous~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sun shone down on the back porch of the Ellison house, warming the shadowed eaves where William Ellison sat watching his family in the backyard. The laughter of children rang in the air and William smiled. Sometimes it was hard to believe that he'd spent so many years alone in the house with only Sally for company. But in the years since he and Jim and Steven had reconciled, those happy sounds had become more frequent -- dinner at the Ellison house was an almost weekly event now.

Moments earlier, the boys -- he chuckled at the thought of calling Jim and Steven boys -- had decided to play a little baseball and had dragged in the rest of the family as well. Blair was at bat, or rather he and Megan Conner were at bat, since Blair had his arms around the woman to supposedly "show her how it's done." Knowing that Megan had led the Major Crimes baseball team to victory a few months ago made the rest of them laugh. Blair just ignored them and continued to flirt with his newly engaged fiancee. The children -- Steven's two kids -- giggled at the adults and their strange habits.

Steven pitched the ball underhand and the Blair-Megan team swung and connected, both cracking up as the ball ricocheted off a tree and landed in the pool. Jim sighed and grabbed the long-handled net to haul the ball out -- again -- and threatened to throw his partner in if he didn't stop doing that. He threw the ball back to Steven, then grabbed his fellow "outfielder" and kissed her soundly on the lips.

William sipped his lemonade and laughed softly, watching the woman jokingly push Jim away and swat him lightly on the arm. Blair had told him privately a few weeks ago that Jim's girlfriend was, in his opinion, moving towards the "fiancee" state. She'd seen Jim's moods, good and bad, and still loved him, even after all they'd been through in the past. Blair also told him that Jim was thinking about explaining his sentinel abilities to her, which to Blair meant that Jim was heading in the direction of getting serious. William certainly hoped so. He'd like to see his son finally find that special woman to share his life with -- and he wanted a few more grandchildren.

Leaning back in his chair, he closed his eyes and let the laughter in the yard roll over him. A year ago, he would've been out there playing with them, but the stroke had left him a little weaker and Jim didn't want him to overdo things. So he sat and watched and listened and let the memories of the painful past blur away as the memories of the more recent, happier past colored over them.

Memories of his and Jim's halting conversations over lunches. Memories of him and Steven and Jim having lunch together for the first time since Jim had joined the Army. Memories of coming to terms with his sons, of forgiveness, of hugs, of tears. Memories of holding his grandchildren for the first time.

Memories of watching Jim and Blair struggle to put their lives back together after the "diss fiasco" as Blair called it. Memories of him and Blair talking about Jim's sentinel abilities and realizing that Jim's friend was a part of his family and had every right to be there. Memories of meeting Blair's mother, Naomi, and finding they had more in common than one would think because of their mutual worry for and love of their children. Memories of Jim receiving the "Cop of the Year" award for the second time and of being invited to attend the ceremony. Memories of holidays and other special times.

Memories of waking in the hospital after his stroke and finding both his sons hovering anxiously over him. Memories of more long talks as he recovered with either Jim, Steven, or Blair at his side. Memories of listening to the tales Blair spun about his and Jim's adventures as partners, then comparing them to Jim's tamer versions of the same stories.

"Dad? You okay?" Jim's soft voice sounded close and William opened his eyes to find his son sitting on the chair next to him, concern in his blue eyes. He rested a hand on William's arm, gently rubbing through the sweater.

William smiled. "Yeah. I'm okay." He covered Jim's hand with his own. "Just enjoying the...noise."

Jim looked confused for a moment, then Steven's familiar laughter filled the air, followed by the children's. His son smiled in understanding and he squeezed William's arm. "Okay. You let me know if you need anything, okay, Dad?"

"I'll do that, Jimmy. I'll do that."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Thou must be emptied of that wherewith thou art full,
that thou mayest be filled with that whereof thou art empty.
~St. Augustine~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

- The End -