Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Summary: An introspective post-TSbyBS piece with the boys remembering a few milestones in their lives.

Notes: In writing this story, I realized I needed a rough timeline for when things happened. So, rather arbitrarily, I decided to say that the fourth season episodes stretched out almost until the end of 1998, putting TSbyBS in November (maybe Naomi was visiting for the holidays?). Basically, I wanted Reverie (the graduation story) to take place in June of 1999. ~grin~ This story (which happens in March 1999) comes after my previous story, Penance, but prior to Reverie. Also, I have no familiarity with what is entailed with getting a PhD or the timing or anything else. So if this rings a little false, forgive me. I'm just a lowly BBA and have absolutely no intentions of getting anything further. Go back to school!? You must be joking... ~grin~

Timeless
by Becky
April 2000

"If, out of time, I could pick one moment and keep it shining, always new,
of all the days that I have lived, I'd pick the moment I met you."
-- unknown

Blair leaned back in his chair at the table, stretching to release the tension in his back from sitting so long. Mid-morning sunshine painted the loft with broad strokes, inching across and over the furniture and wood floors, not to mention the books and papers currently occupying the table top. Images shone on the TV screen across the room, accompanied by the near-silent voice of a CNN anchor. The refrigerator hummed in the kitchen, providing unintrusive background noise.

Dropping the red marking pen, Blair picked up the dark blue mug next to the papers and sipped slowly at the still mostly hot coffee. With the other hand, he tilted one of those papers up to read it more closely. He murmured the words under his breath, nodding to himself in between swallows of coffee. Yeah, yeah, that's good. Hmm...that...maybe... Reaching the bottom of the page, he set the mug aside and picked up his pen again to make another note for later changes, then placed it with the rest of the marked-up first draft.

First draft. And only the first draft...

Writing and editing the second thesis was taking more time than Blair had anticipated it would. After Naomi, albeit with good intentions, had exposed his original thesis to the attention of Sid the Unscrupulous and various media sharks back in November, Blair wasn't taking any chances. The year 1998 hadn't exactly been a banner year for himself and Jim. Between huge misunderstandings, evil sentinels, his own drowning and nearly permanent death in May, Jim's visions, even a few ghosts, the dissertation being leaked to the public had put the cap on a very bad few months. So he planned to get the paper right from the start.

Even if this second dissertation didn't deal with sentinels, real, imaginary or otherwise.

No, he planned to defend this dissertation and pass with the proverbial flying colors the first time, get his degree, and then take his place back at Jim's side. Where he belonged. Maybe not as a cop, but still as a partner. He knew he'd miss teaching, but if he had to make a choice, Jim would always win. He'd overheard Jim and Simon talking more than once about just what position they could get Chief Warren to approve. Actually, he'd come into Major Crimes once and found nearly the whole department stuffed into Simon's office. He chuckled to himself, remembering how they'd all shut up rather quickly once Jim realized he'd walked into the bullpen. Oh, let them keep their secrets. Why steal their fun?

Shaking his head, Blair picked up the "marked" pile and shuffled it straight, tapping the pile lightly on the table. He looked at the title page, smiling a little. 'Closed Societies and Law Enforcement: A View From the Inside. Blair Sandburg, Ph.D. Candidate. Rainier University.' After several meetings that included lawyers on both sides, the Rainier Advisory Board, Captain Banks and Chief Warren, the anthropology department chair, and Chancellor Edwards, Blair had finally received permission in January to continue at Rainier long enough to turn in his "real" dissertation. He wouldn't be getting a teacher's position, but that was okay with him. Chuckling, Blair recalled the last meeting in which Jim had attended and sat silently the whole time, just watching Chancellor Edwards. Watching. Yeah, right. More like a predator sizing up a tasty treat. A very hungry predator. Later that evening, Jim had denied doing it on purpose, but Blair hadn't missed the rather satisfied gleam in the detective's eyes.

The chancellor had called him personally the next morning to give him the university's decision to allow him to finish and graduate with the condition that he turned in the correct dissertation before June at which time he would graduate with that year's class. He'd spent the rest of the day with Jim at the station, tossing out ideas for possible titles for the paper. At most of them, Jim had merely shrugged. Though he had visibly winced when Blair had threatened to use the "thin blue line" in the title somewhere. In the end, however, the one he'd chosen was one that Jim liked and said it had meaning in of itself since Blair was definitely "on the inside."

A long-familiar warm feeling spread through him at the thought of being "on the inside" and being so accepted, cop or not. Blair flipped to the first page of the prologue, absently marking the date he listed for his first day as an observer at the precinct. And what a first day it was! Talk about your baptism by fire... That was so long ago. Three years. Man...

He paused and frowned, staring at the date again, then shifted around to look at the TV, reading the date stamped in one corner of the screen. Laying the stack of papers back on the table top, he blinked. March 27. The same day. Three years later. Wow...

The door opening jarred him from his thoughts and Jim stumbled inside, a basket full of newly washed and dried laundry occupying his hands. Blair watched with mild amusement as Jim nudged the door shut with one hip, then moved further into the room, heading for the couch. Halfway there, the detective glanced his way and blinked when he realized he was being watched by his grinning partner. Two seconds later, the laundry basket thunked on the coffee table, displacing a few magazines to the floor. Then Jim straightened to stare back at him.

"What?"

Blair waved one hand in the air. "Nothing."

Jim eyed him another moment, then muttered something unheard under his breath and sat down. He began pulling clothes from the basket, folding and sorting effortlessly. Part of his attention rested on the TV, his intent eyes telling Blair he had his hearing turned up a bit and focused on the quiet volume. Blair ran his fingers over the stack of pages, abruptly remembering another evening a month or so ago during which he had done the laundry while Jim read the entire sentinel dissertation...

"Sandburg, you wanna tell me what's going on in that overfull brain of yours or are you gonna just keep staring?"

Jim's voice startled him and he jumped. "What? Uh, sorry. I wasn't staring. I was thinking."

"Uh-huh." Jim paused, then waded through the basket hunting for a matching sock. "Dare I ask about what?"

Blair grinned. "Do you know what day it is, Jim?"

Jim stopped midway through folding a pair of Blair's socks. "Day?" He snorted and continued folding. "It's our day off in which I'm playing laundry boy while you're being Student Sandburg." The complaint was half-hearted and Blair laughed.

"That's not what I meant, Jim."

"Well, it's also Double Fries Day at WonderBurger." Jim looked at him and winked openly.

Blair laughed again and shook his head. "Nope, sorry, not that. Though I'm sure you're right. I think you're got some kind of lifetime membership there or something."

Jim chuckled. "Hmm. Maybe. So what day is it, Chief? Somebody's birthday? Or some really obscure holiday in a country I don't know exists?"

"Well, actually..." He stopped at a glare from Jim and grinned. "No, that's not what I'm talking about either." He paused, then said softly, "It's the third anniversary of my first day as an observer at Major Crimes."

The detective looked from Blair to the TV screen where the date was displayed, then back to the laundry. "So it is."

"Hard to believe it's been three years. Only three years." Blair pulled the coffee mug towards him and ran a finger around the rim as he stared into the dark liquid. "So much has...changed since then." He paused, then shook the darker mood away before it had time to cement its hold on him. Looking up, he found Jim watching him intently, his face and eyes unreadable. "Uh...Jim? You okay?"

After a second, Jim nodded and forced his eyes away, refocusing on the still half-full basket of laundry. "Yeah, I'm okay. Just...comparing."

Blair frowned. "Comparing? Comparing what?"

Jim studiously kept folding and sorting laundry, keeping his eyes on the task as he answered. "Comparing what I see now to what I remember." Keeping his attention on a pair of socks, he went on slowly. "Three years ago today, you started as an observer at the station. I know for you that's a...what do you call it...a milestone. But for me...for me the milestone is when I first met Blair Sandburg." He glanced to the side, pointing a finger at Blair. "And I'm not talking about that questionable, blatantly illegal, really bad impersonation of a doctor at the hospital."

The younger man grinned. "It worked, though, right? It got you to come to the university."

"Yeah, well..." Jim huffed. "I almost didn't. And even when I did get there, I couldn't find that fire trap you call an office. Fortunately I ran into some blonde co-ed who all but drooled when I mentioned your name." He ignored Blair's resulting laugh and gave up folding laundry to sink backwards into the couch. His eyes grew a little distant in memory. "The image of you at your desk, in that vest, listening to that godawful noise..." He snorted and shook his head. "I nearly turned around and left right then, thinking I was three times the idiot for even showing up."

"I'm glad you didn't," Blair said softly.

Jim shifted on the couch and looked over at him. A quiet smile lit his eyes. "Me, too." After a moment, Jim shrugged and glanced back at the laundry. "Anyway, that's my milestone. Meeting you -- the real you -- for the first time. It's not a day I'll ever forget."

"Neither will I. We both nearly got creamed by a garbage truck and you threw me up against a wall and called me a neo-hippie witch doctor punk!" Blair laughed at the memory.

"That I did." Jim chuckled. "That I did." He leaned forward towards the unfolded laundry, then hesitated and looked at Blair. "And you know what?"

Blair raised his eyebrows in vague suspicion. "What?"

Jim's voice softened. "Nicknames, NDE's with garbage trucks, and drooling co-eds aside, that...was a good day."

"Most definitely a good day."

The silence stretched between them, then each quietly returned to their tasks, assured they were where they were supposed to be. And later...

"So...how's the diss coming along, Chief?"

"The diss is coming along just beautifully, man. And, no, you can't read it until it's done, so stop asking."

"Sandburg..."

- The End -