Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

If you can't guess by the title, yes, this is smarm. Though I would categorize it as melancholy smarm if you want to be specific. Maybe brooding would fit well.... But don't worry, there's comfort, too. This is set in mid-season 4, so it's pre-TSbyBS. No real spoilers, other than vague, nonspecific references.

Dedication: To Robyn. Just because.

by Becky
April 1999

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart
and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."
~ author unknown ~

"I'm just so tired."

Blair's quiet -- too quiet -- words sounded loud in Jim's ears. And somehow, horribly, terribly ... wrong. He stood in the doorway of the balcony, leaning against the doorjamb, staring at the back of his partner where he stood on the balcony. Arms tucked into toward himself, frame listing forwards to rest on the railing, head down, hair hanging loosely to cast shadows over his features. One foot scuffed against the floor the balcony, rubbing at a charcoal stain from the last time they'd grilled. Jim's eyes followed the movement of their own will.

Last month. One of the briskets fell out of the new bag. Jim blinked and the incongruent memory washed away. "Chief...." Words deserted him. What could he say in the face of his partner's, his roommate's, his friend's, his Guide's obvious need? He wasn't even sure what the need was, other than what those four words told him.

Weariness of the soul. Exhaustion of the body. Loss of spirit. Surrender of strength.

In short, heartsick.

Jim had discovered that word only a short time before and found that it said so much. Meant so much. Spoke to him so well. Though the word itself was defined as 'despondent', he felt it really carried more meaning than that. It wasn't some temporary depressed state that passed; it was something that needing caring. Tending. Listening. Concern. Warmth. Love.

He'd come home just a few minutes before and found Blair on the balcony, staring out at the city, watching the deep darkness sink onto Cascade in an eerie, unBlairlike silence. Oh, Blair liked the quiet of the evening, liked to watch the stars come out, liked the rare peacefulness when they didn't have to be either working on some case or doing a stakeout.

But this evening...this evening felt different. Blair hadn't responded when he'd called out he was home. Hadn't said anything to his statement that he'd brought home Blair's favorite takeout as a surprise. Hadn't reacted to his report of Simon's promise of a three-day weekend to go camping. Hadn't moved when Jim had leaned against the balcony doorjamb, the frame creaking with his presence. Five minutes Jim waited, watching, listening to Blair's heartbeat, his breathing, wondering what had happened and why Blair was so quiet. The food sat forgotten on the kitchen counters. The lights stayed off. His leather jacket still hung over his shoulders, a slight sprinkling of wet on it from the heavy mist drifting down from above.

And those four little words -- "I'm just so tired" -- just blew him away.

Jim shook himself back to the present when Blair spoke up again, not shifting from his position. Jim leaned forward just a bit to catch the quiet voice, speaking out into the night.

"I mean, so much has happened. And sometimes, it just overwhelms me. It's just...too much."

More words. A shiver ran up his spine. Words that frightened him.

Blair moved a finger on the railing, tracing through the wetness there. "Some nights I lay awake, wondering why I'm here."

Jim finally shifted away from the doorjamb and moved forward to stand next to Blair, on his left side, leaving only a few inches of air between them, not touching his friend yet, knowing he needed the space. His hands gripped the railing instead as he stared into the night as well. "What do you mean? Here as in here in the loft or here as in general."

A shrug. "Don't know. Sometimes one, sometimes the other. Sometimes they feel like the same thing to me." A long pause and a soft wry chuckle. "I'm not who I was anymore and sometimes I miss that person. I've nearly died twice and actually have died once. I've fallen in love and had my heartbroken in a week's time. I've been chased down by psychos and gun-toting villains. And I don't know anymore. I said once it's a roller coaster ride, but I'm beginning to think there are days I really do want to get on the merry-go-round."

Jim swallowed and gripped the railing more tightly. "Are you trying to tell me you want out, Blair?"

Another long pause. Long enough to make Jim squeeze his eyes closed and feel his throat begin to tighten.

Then, finally...softly...slowly, Blair answered, "No, no, I don't want...out. It's just..." He sighed and shook his head, raising one hand to shove his loose hair behind his left ear.

Jim blinked at the glint of silver, wondering abruptly how long it had been since he'd seen the familiar two earrings. A while, if you don't remember for sure, Ellison.

Blair lifted his head, staring at Jim in the encroaching darkness, added to by the lack of light from inside the loft itself. Jim turned slightly to meet his eyes, watching Blair just as intently as Blair watched him.

"I guess maybe I'm just feeling a little used up or something right now. It's been a hard couple of months. It just all sorta caught up with me at once."

Feeling the tension dissolving a little, Jim reached up with one hand and laid it on Blair's shoulder, holding it, rubbing it with his thumb, giving Blair solid, tangible proof of his presence. "I know. And I'm--"

Blair raised his hand, cutting off Jim's words. "No, please. You don't need to apologize. We've already been through all that. We've talked. We're okay. Trust me." He laid his hand against Jim's chest, over his heart.

Jim lifted his other hand to hold Blair's hand in place. "I do trust you. And I know we're okay." He slid the hand on Blair's shoulder up to his neck, thumb resting on Blair's jaw. "But I just want you to know, to remember, that I'm here for you to talk to. That I'm here to listen. That I'm"

A small smile lit Blair's eyes and he leaned forward, moving without hesitation into Jim's arms. His head rested where his hand had been as the taller's mans arms pulled him close, wrapping him warmly and securely. "I could never forget that, Jim." Eyes closed, he could hear Jim's heartbeat under his ear. His own arms slid around Jim's waist, fingers curled to anchor themselves in Jim's jacket. Jim's arms surrounded him, one hand splayed between his shoulders, the other on his mid-back, thumb rubbing softly against his skin underneath the sweatshirt. A soft pressure on the top of his head told him Jim's cheek rested there, completing the sensation of being protected and cared for totally.

Blair whispered into Jim's chest. "But's like I've forgotten what I was like three years ago. Someone today told me I acted so much older, so much less...less..."

"Bouncy?" Jim's lips curled into a smile.

A small chuckle rose from Blair's chest. "Yeah. They hadn't seen me since just after I met you and wondered what happened to me. They said I wasn't me anymore. That I'd forgotten how to sing."

Jim didn't say anything, pondering that statement, knowing instinctively that literal singing wasn't what he had in mind. He knew it would also apply since he couldn't remember hearing his rather vocal partner doing any shower operas in quite some time, but that it wasn't the time for literalness right then. No, right then it was time to speak from his heart, not his head.

He released his hold on Blair a little, bringing one hand forward to tilt Blair's face up so he could see his friend's eyes. "Then I'll remind you."

"How?" Blair's voice took on a small note of desperation.

Jim smiled, using that hand to wipe away the moisture on his Guide's cheeks. Not tears, he knew. But he could see so much obvious pain and tiredness in Blair's expressive eyes that the mist condensing on them might as well be tears. "Trust me, Chief."


Curling his hand around to rest on Blair's neck, Jim brought his friend close to him again, holding him. "Life does make us grow up, Blair, makes us learn things we don't sometimes want to know, shows us things we don't like, lets things happen that scare us or scar us." His voice was soft and gentle, non-judging. He rested his cheek on the top of Blair's head again. "But it doesn't mean we can't still laugh. And smile. And sing. We have to, need to. Pain mixed with joy. It makes us who we are."

Blair felt the weight pressing down on him slowly lift up and drift away like the mist in the light of his friend's care and his touch. He relaxed further into the strong frame, knowing Jim would support him tonight. On another night, it might be him who supported and gave care to his sentinel. Tonight, he was content to just let go and let Jim take care of him.

Under his ear, Jim's heartbeat thudded reassuringly. A moment later, the heartbeat was joined by a low hum, echoing slightly against Blair's earbones. Within a few bars, Blair identified the melody as a quiet piano piece on the CD he'd gotten Jim for Christmas the year before. A missed note here and there ... a little offkey in places ... soothing peace and warmth in every gentle hummed measure.

Closing his eyes, smiling, Blair let the music and the love of his friend caress his soul and write the words to his song once again upon his heart.

- The End -