Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

A sequel to Embrace and Essence. More smarm.

by Becky
July 1998

Blair wiped the last of the water from the counter around the sink, dried his hands, then hung the towel on the hook attached to a lower cabinet door. Looking at the small kitchen, he smiled, nodding to himself in satisfaction. Leftovers put away. Dishes done. Everything all neat and tidy. His smile grew into a silly grin. Just like Jim likes it. Man, Sandburg, has he got you trained or what?

Laughing silently to himself, he padded on stocking feet out of the kitchen toward the main room. Trained. Brainwashed. Whatever the term would be, you're it.

He looked around him, eyes taking in everything, deliberately noting how much the loft had changed in the three years since he'd met Jim. Originally stark and cold, the place had become a warm, cozy, shared home for both men, filled with items from both their sometimes disparate worlds. New age CDs sat next to Santana. Foreign films co-mingled with war epics and action-adventure flics. Tribal gods adorned shelves and counter tops that three years ago stood empty. Stacks of papers to be graded, plus several anthropology books, lay on the coffee table next to a box of new red pens that Jim had picked up for him just two days ago because he hadn't been able to make it to the store.

Blair smiled. And you don't care one bit, do you, Sandburg, that Jim's got you doing things his way. He chuckled again. Well, not everything, just the neatness .... for the most part.

Stretching, he continued walking to the closed balcony doors and looked outside at the evening sky. Cloudy, a bare hint of rain in the air. Not unusual for Cascade. Crossing his arms over his torso, he leaned forward, resting against the glass, feeling a sudden tiredness in his body that hadn't been there an hour ago. Probably because he'd still been helping Jim, trying to make him feel better, keep him on track. His head had hurt the whole day. And going to the station that afternoon sure didn't help much. What was that man thinking? He just kept dialing down the pain all day long. I don't even want to think about what his headache must feel like.

Blair frowned, remembering how Jim relaxed got every time he touched him that morning, especially when he ran his fingers over the bandage encircling Jim's head. He stared down at his hand, flexing his fingers, turning them over to examine them carefully. What's so special about what I did? Why did he react that way? Rubbing one hand with the other, he pursed his lips in concentration. Some kind of ... what, guide touch, or something? Or maybe ... shaman touch? He shivered once, shying away from that thought, not wanting to deal with it or what it could mean. Whatever it was, it helped Jim and that's all that matters.

Thinking of Jim made him turn and look toward the upstairs bedroom. Jim had retreated there a half hour ago, barely able to keep on his feet. Blair remembered watching, half holding his breath as his partner had tottered up the stairs, clinging to the railing as he went. He'd wanted to help, but Jim had waved him away, saying he could do it on his own. He did, but Blair hadn't moved from the bottom of the stairs until he'd heard Jim fall onto the bed with a small groan of relief.

Shifting, he refocused his attention outward, staring at the street for a few moments before he closed his eyes and rested his head on the cold glass. He chuckled, almost hearing Jim's voice in his head. 'You should go to bed, Chief. That bed of yours has got to be more comfortable than dozing against the balcony doors.'

Blair pulled away from the glass and rubbed his forehead, muttering under his breath. "You know what, Jim, I think you're right." He yawned, then padded to his room, eyes still half-closed. He had just reached the French doors when the noise stopped him.


He paused, one hand on the door frame, tilting his head back to listen, whispering cautiously, "Jim?"

Another moment, then another soft moan echoed across the loft, this one a little louder than the first, a little more drawn-out, and filled with a little more hurting.

Moving quickly, Blair dashed up the stairs, gripping the railing to keep from slipping on his sock-covered feet. The sight that met his eyes at the top of the landing had him biting his lower lip in sympathetic pain. Still asleep, Jim lay on his side, half-curled in a ball, forehead creased, both hands clenched in fists. He moaned again, a small whimper of pain squeezing out between tightly compressed lips.

Evading the puddle of gray robe on the floor, Blair sat on the edge of the bed and placed one hand on Jim's face, fingers stroking Jim's temple softly. No wonder he's in pain - he's laying on his injury! Have to get him to relax so he'll lie flat. Leaning down slightly, he whispered soft, nonsense words of comfort and assurance.

"Sh, sh, it's okay. You're okay."

At the same time, he smoothed his hand down to Jim's neck to his shoulder and bare back, kneading gently at knots occasionally, but mostly just using circles of touch to soothe his big friend's pain. He ran a hand down Jim's arm to his hands, coming to rest on Jim's clenched fists, slowly prying them open with encouraging words and a gentle touch.

Bit by bit, Jim began to relax, uncoiling himself from the tense position. Still in pain, an occasional moan slipped out when he moved his head on the pillow. With his unoccupied hand, Blair touched Jim's forehead, still whispering to him, hoping to get through to him without really waking him.

"You need to move, Jim. You need to roll over. Can you do that? Hmm? For me, Jim?"

Jim's forehead creased and his eyelids twitched, but he didn't move.

Blair slid his hand across the sheets to touch Jim's leg at his knee, gently pushing it back to straighten out. At first the joint resisted movement, but slowly, Jim let himself be positioned. Blair smiled, stroking Jim's forehead. "There you go. That's right. Just relax."

Moving both hands to Jim's shoulders, he carefully shoved the bigger man to his back, one hand going up to cushion Jim's head against the movement, unwilling to cause his friend any more pain from the obvious headache.

With Jim settled on his back, Blair glided tender fingers over the bandaged wound, noting with relief that it hadn't started bleeding again or anything. Jim winced in muted surprise at the touch, but didn't pull away.

Rather he shifted his head back to Blair, resting trustingly in his care, sighing out softly.

Going sheerly by what worked earlier, Blair gently stroked above and around the wound, using only his fingertips, keeping his touch as light as possible. "Just imagine all that pain going away. Is that better, Jim? Hmm?"

Another long sigh, this time filled with relaxed satisfaction and relief, answered him. Blair watched as the tension simply drained away and disappeared from the big man's frame, leaving his muscles relaxed and loose on the bed. Still carefully and softly soothing the hurt away from the head wound, Blair reached across Jim to tug the comforter up and over Jim one-handed.

Then, slowly, Blair pulled his hand away from Jim's head and shifted to stand up. Jim stirred slightly, turning his head more toward Blair, a muted sound of protest slipping from between his lips. Halting his movement, Blair rested a hand on Jim's chest, leaning over to whisper to him.

"Hush, it's okay. I'll be downstairs if you need me. Just sleep now, Jim. Sleep. You'll feel better in the morning." For a moment, the younger man wondered if he would need to stay the night upstairs, but then Jim relaxed again, healing sleep leading him away.

Deciding to wait a bit longer, just to be sure his friend was truly asleep, Blair sat on the edge of the bed, just watching Jim breathe, feeling his chest rise and fall under his hand. He wasn't sure how much time had passed when something touched his hand. He opened his eyes - when did I close them? - and saw Jim's hand resting on his, thumb moving slightly to rub the top of Blair's fingers.

Blair smiled, recognizing the gesture as one of gratefulness and caring. Even in sleep, Jim knew he was there and wanted him to know he knew. And where else would I be but at his side, even in the hush and dark of night? With gentle motions and movements, Blair extracted his hand, patted Jim's hand once in a soft good night, and disappeared down the stairs.

Behind him, a warm smile flickered briefly on the sleeping man's face before he settled back into a deeper rest.

- The End -