Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm and Song/Poetry stories

As the title suggests, these are outtakes of life. Each are more or less separate and unrelated. Read each as such. There is smarm below in places. There's also humor, teasing, warmth, hugs, and laughter with some introspection thrown in for good measure.

Quoted sections from The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

Outtakes
by Becky
June 1998

And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship.
And he answered, saying:
Your friend is your needs answered.

...........

Simon leaned back in his chair, watching the two men across the table from him as they bantered with each other. A nice restaurant lunch had been highly deserved for the detective and his partner after a hard week of tracking down a criminal that just refused to be caught. But even after the wild goose chases, the bad leads, Jim zoning at least twice that Simon knew of, the shoot-out, the hand-to-hand fight, and the bruises, the bad guy had been nailed and currently warmed a cot in a holding cell at the PD. Simon smiled to himself, nodding approvingly slightly. Yes, the two of them had done excellent work -- as they always did.

"You got something to add here, Simon?"

Shaking his head, Simon lifted his coffee cup, sipping at the hot substance. "Nope. Not a thing, Jim. You two just go on. Who's winning anyway?" Jim scowled and Blair grinned. Simon chuckled. "I guess that means Sandburg's winning. When are you planning on doing the tests?"

Blair answered smugly. "Next week. If nothing comes up."

Jim muttered under his breath. "I'll have to see about arranging for something to come up."

Blair pointed at him. "Uh-uh. That's not fair, Ellison. This is important."

Sighing once, Jim looked at Simon again for help. Simon raised his free hand. "No, you leave me out of this. I am not getting involved with these tests. That's strictly between you two. Beyond my authority."

"Simon...."

"Don't 'Simon....' me, Jim." He paused, looking down into his mug, then grinned. "And truth be told, I'm with Sandburg on this one."

"You are?" Jim's mouth dropped open in astonishment.

"You are?" Blair's face lit up with amazement.

Simon rolled his eyes. "Yes, I am. It's a sad thing." Blair laughed and even Jim smiled. "Really, though, it is important that you figure out what made you zone. What happens if you do it again and Sandburg isn't there to pull you out? I don't think I could do it. Or would even notice until too late. If Sandburg can find a way to prevent it from happening when he's not around, well, then, that's all fine and good with me." He paused, looking straight at Blair. "Not that I don't want you to be Jim's partner, you understand. This is just a precautionary measure, right?"

Blair nodded. "Yeah. Just in case."

Jim waved a hand in defeat. "Fine, fine. We can do the tests, Chief. When the two of you gang up on me, it's a lost cause anyway." He grinned. "I will have to add this day to historical memory, however, as one of the very rare times that the two of you have ever agreed on anything."

Simon glared at him, then just shook his head, going back to his coffee as Blair launched into another topic, something to do with experimenting with new foods, something Jim sounded even less thrilled about than the tests. Watching them together, Simon had to wonder just how the two of them had managed to ever get along in the first place. Outwardly and inwardly so different, so stubborn, so independent, yet they complemented each other, suited each other's natures so perfectly, meshing with each other completely.

Sentinel and Guide. Teacher and Student. Partners. Roommates. Friends. Brothers.

Oh, they still argued and had the occasional fight, but the disagreements never lasted long or were terribly nasty. Just the normal every day stuff that all friends went through. That was to be expected, especially since they shared the loft.

Jim reached over and patted Blair's cheeks in his familiar fond way that made Blair laugh and swat at Jim's hands, poking him in return. Simon chuckled. Definitely a completed circuit. Something greatly to be desired, but very rare to find. He felt privileged to be included in their private circle. They filled the needs of each other and along the way, Simon had found his own needs filled as well.

As his son would say, "way cool."

...........

He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.

...........

Blair ripped the check from his register and stared at it for a moment before laying it aside with a small smile. "Rent," said the message line, made out to one "James Ellison." The rent issue hadn't been brought up between them in a very long time, probably not since Peru, maybe even before, maybe as early as after the whole incident with Lash. However, Blair continued to pay rent on the same day each month, leaving the check on Jim's desk upstairs where he would find it.

At first, Blair had wondered exactly what Jim did with the rent money since he never really said anything about it. And it didn't seem like he really needed it either. If food was used up, new stuff appeared within a day or so. Supplies never seemed to run out. Blair tried to reciprocate by buying food when he could, augmenting what the refrigerator and pantry contained, usually trying to widen Jim's tastes, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. He figured he owed the man that much after invading his loft and disrupting his peace. True, he was helping him with his senses, but still....

However, after some time had passed, Blair had begun to notice things here and there. Little things really. A new afghan on the back of the couch. A few new pictures on the wall. A new bookcase. More cooking stuff. More pillows scattered around the room. Stuff like that. Stuff he hadn't expected or asked for.

It had taken Blair a few months to understand what was happening, but he finally got it. Jim was using the rent money to add things to the loft, to make it more of a home instead of just a place to sleep and store their accumulated stuff. To make it their home.

Blair smiled again, humming under his breath as he went back to paying his other monthly bills. Somehow knowing that he had a home, a real home, a solid home, and a friend who cared enough to make it that way, made those loan and car payments a lot smaller in comparison.

...........

For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

...........

Jim rubbed his temples, trying to ignore the loud chaotic mess echoing all around him in the Major Crimes bullpen. People running back and forth. Phones ringing constantly. Voices yelling for attention. All designed to drive a sentinel completely nuts. Especially a sentinel with the beginnings of a headache and one who couldn't find those dials Sandburg was always talking about.

Sighing heavily, he muttered under his breath, "Where are you when I need you, Sandburg?"

"Jim? You okay?"

Jim looked up, blinking a little in surprise when he saw Blair, backpack over one shoulder, standing in front of his desk. "What are you doing here, Chief?"

Blair waved a hand in the air. "Class was canceled. You didn't answer. Are you okay? You look..." He glanced around them, lowering his voice. "You look like the noise is getting to be a bit much."

Nodding, Jim continued rubbing his forehead with one hand, wincing at a particularly loud scrape of a chair being shoved across the floor. Blair moved around the desk in two steps, dropping his backpack on the floor next to the window. Seating himself in the chair next to his partner, he laid a hand on Jim's arm, leaning in toward him.

Blair's voice was soothing, a low pitch he had cultivated strictly for helping Jim, whether as a Guide or as a friend. "Close your eyes, Jim. Just ignore everything around us. Listen only to me. Feel my hand on your arm. Only me." A few seconds passed and slowly Jim relaxed. "Okay, good, good. Now look for that dial, you know where it is. When you've found it, turn it down to a normal level again."

Another few seconds and Jim took a deep breath, opening his eyes to look at Blair. He smiled in gratefulness, patting the hand on his arm. "Thanks, Chief."

Blair nodded once in return, then grinned, a mischievous light in his eyes. "What, no promise of a card this time?"

Jim rolled his eyes and reached over to tug at Blair's ponytail. "Not this time. We're on a rotating basis."

"Ah. A rotating basis, I see. I'll remember that."

"You do that. Now then, Simon gave us a new case this morning...."

...........

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the "nay" in your own mind, nor do you withhold the "ay."

...........

Blair stormed into the loft, uncaring that the door slammed into the coatrack, sending several coats to the floor in his passing. Muttering imprecations, he dropped his backpack on the kitchen table, the books thudding loudly on its surface. Breathing hard, he turned, arms crossed defensively over his chest, waiting for the object of his anger to come through the open doorway.

A few moments later, Jim entered, his own eyes stormy, but not quite as full of anger as his partner's. He eyed the younger man warily, noting the barely controlled tension in each muscle. Blair waited until Jim quietly closed the door, then burst out in a fierce whisper, "How could you do that?"

"Chief, it was only a stakeout, nothing major."

Blair shook his head, sending loose tendrils of hair into his eyes. He shoved them back impatiently, then sliced the air with one hand. "That doesn't matter. I told you to call me if anything came up."

"Sandburg, will you cool it? Nothing happened, did it? I didn't zone, didn't get into trouble, hell, I didn't even get hit on the head." Jim turned and picked up the jackets, intending to hang them back on their respective hooks. Only a hand reached up and plucked them from his grasp, tossing them back onto the floor with a flourish. Jim whirled to find his partner standing a foot away from him, mouth turned down into a frown, eyes narrowed.

A finger poked him in the chest. "But you could have, Jim, you could have. And I wouldn't have been there to do anything about it. I didn't even know you were on a stakeout. No, I had to find out from Rafe when I strolled into Major Crimes looking for something I left at your desk. He wanted to know how you and Conner were getting along on your first solo stakeout together. Just how do you think that made me feel, Jim? You planning to replace me with Megan or something?"

Jim interrupted the tirade, his anger at Blair's reaction rising up. "Stop this! I am planning no such thing and you should know that more than anyone. You're my partner, Chief -- you and no one else. I asked Conner along with me because I needed someone with me on the stakeout. No one does stakeouts alone. It's a rule."

"Then why didn't you call me? If I'm your partner, shouldn't I be the one helping you?"

Frustrated, Jim gestured toward the backpack lying unwanted and ignored on the table. "Because I knew you were busy, Sandburg. I know how hard it is for you to balance police work and your academic life. I know what sacrifices you've made to accommodate me, to work with me. And I know how far behind you are on your own projects, your papers, and your grading. This was a routine assignment, nothing I haven't done a thousand times before. Conner was available, so I asked her. Simon approved and that was it."

Blair stepped back from Jim, crossing his arms again. "I don't need someone to tell me to do my homework, Jim. I am plenty capable of keeping track of everything I need to do without your help."

"I know that, Blair. I was just trying to help, nothing more. I don't want --" He broke off, shaking his head. "Never mind. Look, I'm sorry I didn't call. I should've at least told you what was going on. I'm sorry. I'm going to bed. See you in the morning." He walked past an unresponsive Blair, heading toward the stairs. He'd just reached the bottom steps when his partner spoke up in a whisper.

"What don't you want, Jim?"

Jim paused, staring up at his bedroom for long moments, chewing on his lip as he debated answering. Finally he sighed and ran a hand over his hair. "I don't want to be responsible for you losing your academic career, Blair. I know how much it means to you. I know that you've dedicated yourself to this Sentinel thing and to our friendship. I understand that. But I don't want you to lose what you've worked for all your life." He gripped the staircase railing tightly, voice dropping. "I don't want you to lose your dreams."

Blair didn't say anything and Jim looked over to see him standing alone in the late evening darkness of the loft. The lights from the city shone in through the windows and pooled around the solitary figure. His back was still turned, arms still crossed. As Jim watched, Blair's shoulders hitched up in small movements, then lowered again as Blair sighed out heavily.

The younger man turned, relaxing his grip on his arms, but stared at the floor. He raised one hand and rubbed his face, then whispered, "Sorry, man, I don't know why I'm so upset."

Jim left the stairs and walked back over to Blair, stopping in front of him. Blair continued to stare at the floor. Slowly, Jim lifted a hand and tilted his partner's face up by the chin. He looked down into those dark blue eyes, filled with apology and worry and weariness. Jim smiled gently at him and lifted his other hand to cup Blair's face, running his thumbs over Blair's cheeks in soft arcs.

"You're upset because you're stressed about school, worried about me, and afraid that Conner will replace you. Conner will not replace you, Blair. She can't. She's a good cop, someone I can work with, but nothing more. I know you worry about me when you're not there. I appreciate that. And I understand it. I can't tell you not to worry, but I can tell you if it was important enough that I needed you, I would call in an instant. This stakeout wasn't." He stopped for a moment, still staring into Blair's wide eyes. Shifting his hands to hold onto Blair's shoulders, he went on.

"And as for your school stuff, I'm afraid I can't really do anything to help you, otherwise than to give you extra time wherever I can find it so that you can work on the things that are unrelated to police work. You're a student and a teacher, Chief. Your life is busy enough even without the added police work. Some days I don't know how you do it. You seem to be everywhere at once, doing fifty things at the same time." He smiled, rocking Blair back by the shoulders. "And I'm damn proud of it, for your ability to do it. Mystified, but proud nonetheless. I want to see you get that doctorate so I can be even prouder. You're my friend, Blair. I want to see you attain all the things you're strived for, all the things you've dreamed of. Is that such a bad wish?"

Blair blinked and shook his head. He swallowed hard, then whispered, "No, that's not a bad wish at all. I never ... I never knew you felt like that."

Jim looked away, abruptly feeling a little uneasy at the emotional scene. Shaking the unease away, he shrugged once. "I didn't really know myself until I said it just now. At least not in those words exactly." Blair chuckled softly and Jim looked back at him, sharing the soft laughter. He asked, "So, are we okay, now?"

Blair nodded. "Yeah, we're okay."

"Good." He gripped Blair's shoulders once more, then pulled him into a tight hug. Blair's arms slid around his waist in return as they reaffirmed the friendship. After a few quiet moments, Jim released his friend, smiling as he met Blair's eyes. His smile turned into a grin and he slung an arm around the younger man's shoulders.

"Now, about those jackets you dumped on the floor...."

...........

And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.

...........

Jim dropped his keys in the basket by the door, glad to be home. Paperwork for a solid eight hours was not his idea of a fun day. Especially without his partner to help him wade through it. But Blair had been at the University all day, taking and teaching classes. Speaking of his partner.... He looked toward the stove, wondering if supper was anywhere near done. A frying pan and a pot, both empty, sat abandoned on the unheated stove. Raising an eyebrow, Jim closed the door, calling out, "Sandburg? You in here somewhere?"

No answer. He frowned, then turned up his hearing to listen for the presence of his Guide. After a moment's worry when no heartbeat echoed in his ears, he located the familiar beat on the balcony. He walked quickly over to the half-shaded glass doors and pushed them open, stepping outside.

Blair stood against the far wall, leaning half against the wall, half on the railing, face turned away from the glass doors, eyes unfocused, arms curled around his torso. He shifted at Jim's appearance, looking at him and nodding once, but not saying anything, not even smiling. Then he went back to staring aimlessly out at the city.

Slowly, Jim walked over to join Blair, standing close enough to him to feel his body heat, even through the heavy leather jacket. He didn't say anything, just stood there, waiting, quietly, letting his presence speak for itself. A bit at a time, Blair pushed away from the railing and leaned into the larger man. Jim lifted an arm to drape around the younger man's shoulder, pulling him closer.

Finally, Jim tilted his head to look down at the top of Blair's head. He whispered, "Bad day?"

Blair sighed, turning his head toward Jim, breathing out heavily against his chest. "Yeah." He paused, then looked up to meet Jim's light blue eyes with his dark ones. "Thanks. For knowing .... what I needed."

Jim wrapped both arms around Blair and hugged him warmly, holding him in the circle of his embrace. "I always know."

...........

When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountains to the climber are clearer from the plain.

...........

"Flight 1842 to San Francisco is now boarding. All passengers, please come to Gate 21. Flight 1842 to San Francisco is now boarding. All passengers...."

The announcer's voice echoed on in the terminal, drowning out the hustle and bustle of people as they greeted friends, said goodbye to others, moved in and out of line, and talked with attendants. The chaos swirled around two men in particular, both trying to ignore the noise as they said their own farewells.

"That's your flight, Chief."

Blair stood, shouldering the strap of his duffle. "Yeah, I guess it is." He looked up at the taller man. "Now, are you sure you'll be all right, Jim?"

Jim smiled and rested a hand on Blair's other shoulder, squeezing it. "I'll be fine, Sandburg. Stop worrying. I promise, no zoning. Hey, the worst thing that can happen is that I'll eat out at WonderBurger too many times."

The younger man made a face. "All that healthy eating down the drain as soon as I'm gone. I can see I'll have my work cut out for me when I get back."

Laughing, Jim patted Blair's face. "It's only for a week, Blair, how much damage can a few burgers do in that time?"

Blair shuddered. "You do not want to know, man."

"You're right, I don't."

The announcer made a second call for boarding and Blair turned slightly, looking at the doors that led down the ramp to the plane. He shifted, gripping the shoulder strap a little tighter, then turned back to Jim, smiling. "Well, I need to get going before they take off without me. I've been looking forward to this conference for weeks."

"I know. I've had to live with the excited bouncing for at least that long."

"I do not bounce, Jim." Blair tried to frown in disapproval, but the effect was lost as his eyes twinkled with amusement.

Jim grinned. "Oh, yes, you do, Chief. Trust me, you get excited, you bounce all over the place. Simon noticed it last week and made a point of mentioning it to me."

Blair rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine. I bounce. What of it?"

"Just an observation, nothing more."

The announcer called again for passengers, interrupting their warm teasing.

Jim nudged Blair toward the doors. "Go on. I don't want you to miss your flight."

Blair nodded, "Yeah, see you in a week?"

"I'll be here to pick you up. And don't worry about me. I'll be fine. Go." Jim gestured for him to go, smiling at him.

Blair half-turned away, taking a few steps away, then stopped. Jim raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. Blair dropped his duffle and stepped back to Jim, right into his personal space and looked up at him. He hesitated a moment, glancing around. Jim knew what he wanted and almost laughed at Blair's indecision. Without waiting for Blair to make up his mind, he pulled him into a quick, hard hug, squeezing the air out of the student's lungs. He heard a muffled "I'll miss you" from the face smashed into his chest.

Jim leaned down and spoke softly into the mass of curls under his cheek. "I'll miss you, too, Chief. Won't be the same here without you." With a final pat on his friend's back, the detective released him, smiling down at the younger man. "Now go. And remember to call me when you get there."

Blair returned the smile, then turned, grabbed up his duffle bag and jogged to the doors. He paused only long enough to throw Jim a jaunty wave and a bright grin before he disappeared down the tunnel.

Minutes later, Blair was settled into his seat, a window seat, nonetheless. He stared out at the terminal, at the large panes of glass that overlooked the runways and planes, imagining that Jim could see him, knowing that he could, knowing deep inside that his friend would wait until the plane took off before leaving, wishing that he had sentinel sight as well so he could see Jim watching him. He smiled, mouthing the words "see ya."

Inside the terminal, Jim stood at the large pane, eyes searching the small plane windows, knowing that Blair should be on that side of the plane. Finally he found that familiar face and he grinned back at the smile that met him. Digging his hands into his jacket pockets, he watched as the plane finished boarding, closed up, and taxied out. He watched as it roared down the runway and lifted off the ground in a rush of air and engine-powered determination.

"See you in a week, Chief."

The tall detective walked away from the windows and through the airport, heading for parking and his truck so he could get back to the loft. He knew the loft would feel emptier without his friend's buoyant enthusiasm for life, his laughter, his voice, all the things Jim had come to appreciate, to cherish. But not totally empty. Reminders of Blair and his place in Jim's life abounded and existed in every nook, cranny, corner, and shelf. Tribal artifacts, foods, papers, books, pictures, all of it a part of Blair and now a part of his own life as well.

Jim smiled to himself. No, Blair's presence wasn't something he would be without in the coming week, even if the man couldn't be there himself. And that, somehow, made everything all right.

...........

And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

...........

Megan paused several yards away from the long table sitting in the grass and stared at the two men behind it as they picked on each other and made pancakes at the same time. Voices drifted over to her in the late morning air, clearly separated from the other officers and staff talking around her, and she had to laugh at the comments.

"That's no way to make a perfect pancake, Chief."

"A perfect pancake." A long, heartfelt sigh. "I'm sorry to tell you this, Jim, but those kind of pancakes are so boring. Very routine."

"Routine? You're calling my pancakes routine?" Turning, a spatula held in the air, mouth open a little, a hint of a smile curling the edges of his lips.

"Yes, I am. Every single one is exactly the same size, the same shape, and all of them are perfectly round. No personality whatsoever." A saucy grin tossed up at the taller man before looking back down to skillfully toss one of his less-than-perfectly-round pancakes.

A low, amused voice spoke in Megan's ear. "I see they're at it again."

Megan turned to meet Simon's eyes briefly before looking back at the Jim and Blair. "Are they always like this?"

Simon nodded. "Yeah. More so when they're off-duty. And the Major Crimes Annual Breakfast is about as off-duty as it gets. None of us even knew Jim could make pancakes until last year when Blair volunteered him without realizing Jim had never attended one of these shindigs. He told me he just assumed Jim was doing them because he does pancakes the best he's ever had."

Megan frowned. "Jim had never attended before?" She watched Jim laugh and bump Blair with one hip. "I would think from the way he acts that he would enjoy such an event."

Simon shook his head. "Before Jim teamed up with the kid, he didn't really mix with any of the other detectives. Kept to himself. Did his job. That was about it." He smiled, motioning toward the two men, still currently teasing and baiting each other. "Sandburg, however, has had a lot to do with who Jim is now. Three years ago, Jim wouldn't have cooked in public, much less worn that apron."

Megan eyed the apron in question -- bright green and flowered. Not something she had pictured the tall detective ever wearing, but he pulled it off with more style and flair than she had given him credit for.

Simon nudged her toward the table. "C'mon, we'd better get up there before the others decide they want thirds or whatever helping they're on now."

A few moments later, Megan stood, plate in hand, in front of the battling pancake chefs. Still caught up in their verbal byplay, they didn't notice her at first. Simon stepped up next to her and cleared his throat before saying, "With the two of you around, we sure don't need entertainment."

Blair just laughed and waggled his eyebrows. "That's what we're here for, Simon. Didn't you know that?"

Simon raised an eyebrow, replying dryly, "Sometimes I wonder."

Jim rolled his eyes in practiced disgust, belying the grin on his features. Turning to Megan, he said, "Ignore them. What would you like? Perfection or, um, creativity, as Sandburg would have you believe?"

Megan smiled at the options and held out her plate. "I think I'll play it safe. Why don't you just give me one of each?" With a flourish, Jim did just that, giving her one very round pancake and one that looked suspiciously like Mickey Mouse, ears and all. She nodded her thanks, then walked down the length of the table to add various toppings, pick up other foods, and get a drink before she found a place to sit. Simon stayed behind to chat with Jim and Blair, asking them what the differences were between the two selections. Before Jim could say anything, Blair started expounding on creativity versus stagnation....

Megan turned to look at the tables set up on the park lawn. Dew sparkled in the sunlight. Groups sat together, talking, laughing. She took a step forward, then hesitated. Still an outsider, she wasn't quite sure where to sit or who to sit with.

A voice called over to her. "Conner, over here."

Following the sound of Brown's voice, she saw him waving for her to join him and his partner at the edge of the cluster of round tables. Gratefully she picked her way through the damp grass, glad she wore tennis shoes that morning. Arriving at the table, she moved to set down her meal, now on a tray, but Brown jumped up and took it from her like a true gentleman. Rafe made a show of wiping off the chair next to him, then held it out for her.

She smiled at both of them. "Thank you both, kind sirs."

They nodded, making exaggerated bows, then settled back down in their own chairs. She looked around the table, wondering at the emptiness. "Why are you two alone?"

Rafe answered, "Oh, Simon'll join us in a bit, as will Jim and Blair once they're done with cooking."

"Ah." She paused a moment, looking off to the side, back at partners still talking to Simon. She twirled her fork in her hand. "Can I ask the two of you something?"

Brown paused, coffee cup halfway to his mouth. He exchanged a glance with Rafe, then nodded. "Sure. What is it?"

"Why is Jim is partnered with an anthropology student? I mean, I like Sandy. He's nice and very smart, but he's not a cop. I have to wonder what else is going on between them."

Neither man said anything at first. She watched them as they looked at each other, then over at Jim, Blair, and Simon, all three still laughing. Finally Rafe started to reply. "I joined the department after Blair was already here. He made me feel welcome immediately. I had the same question you did. Why was a student partnered with a cop? I was told he was an observer and that because Jim didn't have a partner, they gave the observer to him." He paused, shrugging minutely. "Sometimes I wonder if that's the complete truth, but if that's what they want to tell us, then that's fine with me."

Brown spoke up. "Hairboy's been good for Ellison. Calmed him down. Made him more personable, more likeable. He always worked alone, stayed alone before this. He's only had one other partner before, back when he first transferred into Major Crimes years ago, before my time. He was killed during a kidnaping investigation."

Megan blinked. "How awful."

Brown nodded. "It was. Captain Banks told me that Jim sorta locked up after that, kept to himself. The captain was the only one Jim would talk to, well aside of Carolyn, his wife for a short time." Blair's laugh rung through the air and Brown grinned. "When Hairboy showed up, Jim thawed. And with the two of them working in Major Crimes, we've solved cases that probably would've stumped us for months otherwise. They just have this uncanny knack at figuring things out, finding the smallest pieces of evidence that even forensics missed."

"So I've noticed." Megan sipped thoughtfully at her coffee. "So you don't think having Sandy around is even a little bit odd."

Rafe chuckled. "Of course it's odd. But by time any of us got around to really questioning his presence, we all liked him too much to want him to leave. He's part of our group and that's all we need to know. He got his credentials pulled once when the captain was in the hospital, but Jim got him reinstated by the next day. Jim wants him around. He seems to need him for some reason. So he stays."

Before Megan could say anything, Simon appeared at the table, his tray loaded down with food. He settled next to Brown, laughing. "Those two are gonna drive each other nuts sooner or later. Probably take me along with them."

The two men and Megan laughed at the comment, pushing aside their conversation as finished, or at least postponed for another time. Another few moments passed, then Jim and Blair arrived at the table as well, each with their breakfast. Blair plopped down next to Megan, Jim on his other side. Megan settled back to watch the comradery between the group of men, stunned and pleased that she'd been accepted into such a group. She looked carefully at Jim and Blair's plates and smiled.

Blair's plate of pancakes were all perfectly rounded. And Jim's were a conglomeration of shapes and sizes.

Jim met her eyes for a moment, and Megan raised an eyebrow, looking toward his plate. He smiled in recognition of her observation, then happily dove into his food.

...........

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.

...........

The debate, some would call it a minor argument, raged for at least twenty minutes inside the loft apartment. Neighbors raised their eyebrows in curiosity but declined to interrupt or investigate. The two men had shared living quarters for over two years. Arguments were a natural way of life between them. No one worried. After all, Ellison was a cop. Sandburg, his loftmate, was a graduate student at Rainier University. They worked together as the Cascade PD, though none of the neighbors had quite figured out how exactly that situation worked yet. They only knew that life was never boring with the two men around for entertainment.

The voices rose, overriding each other's words, making it impossible to decipher anything other than the occasional phrase. Something about tests going wrong. Then it got suddenly and abruptly quiet. A few people stuck their heads out their doors, staring at each other, then at the apartment at the end of the hall.

A few seconds later, Sandburg's voice rose again, this time shouting "no, no, no" in ever-increasing pitches. Laughter accompanied the voice or otherwise the neighbors would have worried. The loft door opened and Sandburg burst out of the loft to stand against the wall next to the fire extinguisher. He laughed, holding his hands up in front of him.

"Jim, Jim, I'm sorry. I won't do that test again, I promise. Just don't --"

A small wave of water crashed over Blair's hands and cascaded down his face to soak into his gray t-shirt. Jim stood just barely outside the doorway, a grin on his face, a tall, recently empty glass in one hand. "That's right, you won't do that test again. Or next time, instead of just a glass full of water, I'll toss you in the shower."

Blair glared at him, wiping water off his face. "You're gonna pay for that, Ellison."

"First you have to catch me, Junior."

Blair charged Jim, shoving him back inside the loft. The door slammed shut and more laughter echoed inside the walls.

The neighbors smiled at each other, shaking their heads as they retreated back inside their own apartments. Just the boys having a little friendly fun, just clearing the air a little, nothing to be concerned about at all.

...........

For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.

...........

Blair finished up his presentation with a grin and a laugh, inclining his head politely at the echoes of applause in the large amphitheater. Breathing out in relief, he stepped back from the podium for the lead speaker to close the afternoon session. He'd been called to 'pitch-hit' in the series of anthropology lectures just two days ago, giving him only 48 hours to prepare for the long lecture. He'd had to beg out of helping Jim with his current case and paperwork, needing all the time he could find to dig out materials and pull together the lecture.

Fortunately for him, Jim had been understanding and sent him off with good luck wishes. They hadn't really seen much of each other in the two days since. Jim was busy at the station nearly all the time, helping cover for a few sick detectives and Blair found himself almost living amongst the books in the library and his office.

As Blair waited for the lead speaker to finish, he let his eyes drift around the attendees in the amphitheater. Now that he wasn't directly in the spotlight in the semi-darkened room, he could see faces more easily. He nodded and smiled at the people he recognized, a lot of whom were students from his classes. Others were fellow teachers and grad students and even friends from outside the University. He followed the aisle up to the top of the room with his eyes, absently scanning and cataloging faces.

He stopped, blinking.

Halfway up the room, in an aisle seat, sat Jim Ellison, hands calmly folded in his lap, a proud smile on his face, eyes meeting his. He nodded once at Blair, his smile growing wider.

Blair blinked again, wondering if he was seeing things. But Jim was still there when he looked again, this time with amusement sparkling in his eyes.

The lead speaker finished his remarks, thanking the attendees for coming and dismissing the session. Blair stayed at the front of the room, talking to those who wanted to say something to him. He kept glancing to where he'd last seen Jim, wondering if the man would stay and wait for him. Every time he looked, Jim just smiled at him, waving for him to continue talking to those around him.

Finally the last person who wanted to talk departed, leaving Blair alone at the front of the room. Bouncing slightly on his toes, Blair watched and waited as Jim threaded his way down through the attendees to join him. Blair asked as Jim stopped next to him, "What are you doing here, Jim? I thought you had a ton of stuff to do at the station. Not that I mind or anything."

Smiling, Jim answered with a chuckle, "Slow down, Chief." He put a hand on Blair's shoulder. "I'm here because I wanted to hear this presentation you've been working on madly for the last two days. You said it was important, that it was an honor to be chosen to speak at this yearly thing, even if you're just pitch-hitting." He shrugged a little. "I thought I should be here for it."

Blair's mouth dropped open and he blinked again. Jim laughed softly and reached up to ruffle Blair's loose hair. The younger man grinned briefly, then touched Jim's arm. "I know you've got to be busy at the station. You didn't have to come." He hurried on when Jim frowned. "But I'm glad you did. I'm ... touched."

Jim relaxed into a smile. He slung an arm over Blair's shoulders and directed him toward the stairs that would take them up and out of the room. "Now mind you, I didn't understand a whole lot of what you were talking about, but what I did understand was pretty interesting."

Stopping Jim for a second, Blair looked up at his tall friend. "It's enough that you came, Jim. Thanks."

"You're welcome, Chief."

...........

And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

...........

Jim opened the door to the loft slowly. He knew Blair was inside somewhere, but his heartbeat was slow and Jim didn't want to disturb the younger man if he was asleep. However, as soon as he opened the door, the scent of candle wax and vanilla greeted his nose. Easing into the apartment, Jim let his eyes adjust to the darkened loft living room. Blair sat in the midst of the couches, legs crossed in a lotus position, a circle of lighted scented candles adorning the top of the low table set in front of him.

After closing the door quietly, not wanting to break the younger man's meditative state, Jim padded across to the kitchen, heading for the cabinet that held their drinks. He debated for a few seconds, then pulled two bottles of water from the shelves and walked over to the couch. Sinking into the couch to the side and behind Blair, he set one of the bottles on a coaster on the end table. Opening the other bottle, he proceeded to chug down the water.

He watched Blair's shoulders move up and down with his slow breathing. Listened to his heartbeat. Smelled to the subtle scent of candles. Felt the nearly unnoticeable rise in heat from the candle flames. Almost tasted the tang of vanilla in the air.

As he waited and watched, slowly, a bit at a time, Blair's heartbeat and breathing rose, increasing toward a more normal state. Grabbing the other water bottle from the table, Jim slid down from the couch and settled next to Blair, crossing his legs to mirror his friend's form. After another minute, Blair inhaled deeply and his eyelids fluttered upwards. Without looking, Blair said softly, "Hey, Jim."

"Hey, buddy." He kept his voice low, matching the peace in the room. "I didn't disturb you, did I?"

Blair shook his head, glancing over at him. "No, no, you didn't. I knew someone had come in, but I knew it was you, so..." He shrugged. "You didn't disturb me at all."

Jim offered the full water bottle. "Thirsty?"

"Hmm? Oh, yeah, I am. Thanks."

Jim unscrewed the cap and held out the bottle to Blair, who took it with a grateful nod. They sat in companionable silence for a long time, both staring at the candles and the flickering flames, occasionally sipping at their water. The younger man shifted once, rotating his neck and shoulders. Jim lifted one hand and, carefully pushing the long hair out of the way, rubbed at those muscles, feeling the stiffness relax under his touch. Blair sighed out heavily, dropping his head forward in pleasure, his hair curtaining around his face. The detective chuckled softly and just continued the impromptu massage, turning up his touch dial to find the knots and tensions, soothing them out with long strokes.

Several long minutes went by, uninterrupted by either of them.

Finally, after releasing the last tensions in Blair's back, Jim changed the long strokes to a gentle rubbing. Blair slowly lifted his head back up, shoving back his hair with one hand. "Oh, man, Jim, you missed your calling. Where have you been hiding that talent? And why didn't you tell me about it sooner?"

Jim laughed and patted Blair on the back, then slid his arm across Blair's shoulder, squeezing them. "You're welcome."

...........

And a youth said, Speak to us of Friendship....

- The End -