by alyjude and Gail



Anyone should have been able to see. If they'd been looking, really looking. But they weren't. When Detective Blair Sandburg walked down the halls of the Cascade Police Department, eyes were trained elsewhere, unless he was with Detective Jim Ellison, than sympathetic glances were directed *his* way.

So naturally, when Detective Sandburg came out of the stairwell, flushed, breathing hard, face already swelling, shirt half out of his jeans, well, they should have noticed. They should have asked. But no one did. Even when Detective Carl Enders came out of the stairwell, limping, angry, face equally flushed, breathing even harder, and when he reached out and grabbed Sandburg's shirt and yanked at him, and when Detective Sandburg whirled around without thinking and slammed his fist into Detective Enders face, no one asked, no one said anything, they just ducked their heads and hurried by.....

Oddly enough, Detective Enders was not, by any means, a favorite among the men and women of the Cascade P.D. and if anyone else had hit him, a cheer would probably have gone up. But it wasn't just anybody who'd hit him. So silence reigned. And when Detective Brad Lewis, Detective Ender's partner, came running out of the stairwell stopping dead a few feet from his partner who was now on his knees, holding his bloody nose, well, some people *did*look at him, but then kept walking.

Detective Sandburg looked at Detective Lewis, then at the man on the floor, then he turned and walked through the double doors leading into Major Crime.

And as Detective Sandburg took his chair and sat down at his new desk, and as he took reports and started typing into his computer, Captain Simon Banks was listening to another officer on his phone, telling him how Detective Sandburg had just clobbered a fellow officer.

The other detectives of Major Crime kept their heads down, kept *busy*, and interestingly enough, not one of them had gotten up to see what had happened in the hallway. Of course, Inspector Megan Connor was in court with Detective Sandburg's partner, and Detective Joel Taggert was out interviewing a suspect with Detective Henri Brown, so you might say that those who cared about Detective Sandburg, were no where in evidence.


Blair glanced up, saw the expression on Simon's face, pushed his chair back, stood, made a show of straightening his desk, took a deep breath, wished fervently that Jim was there, and walked into Simon Banks office.

"Shut it behind you, Sandburg."

Blair did as he was told and shut the door, then stood, waiting. He was worried. Because he didn't know how much to tell Simon when he asked, what words to use, or how specific he should get. As it happened, he needn't have worried.

"Sandburg," Simon stood, all 6'5 of him, staring down, intimidating, chomping down on the unlit cigar, "Do you have any idea what I went through to get you into this department? Do you? No, of course you don't. Do you have any idea of what I've put up with, since you left the academy? The complaints? The rash of shit I've had to listen to? What your fellow officers in this department have put up with?" Simon walked around his desk, past Blair, to the window, his back now to the younger man.

"You can't make a single mistake, do you understand that? You have no room for errors. Not one. And yet, what do you do? You hit a fellow officer, here, at the PD, in the hallway, in full view of dozens of men and women." He sighed heavily before continuing.

"I can't protect you. I can't go to bat for you. I don't care how much Jim thinks he needs you. I went to bat once, so that he'd have what he needed to do this Sentinel thing, got you into the academy, but I was told, all debts paid, no more favors." With his back to Blair, he couldn't see the affect his words were having on the man. Couldn't see his jaw clench, his eyes widen, couldn't see the sudden surprise and deep hurt, couldn't see the hands, fold into fists, or the light go out of those blue eyes.....

"And this just might have broken the camels back. Do you think Detective Enders won't go running to his Captain? If anyone else had hit Enders, I doubt that Captain Fielding would do more than ask for a tongue lashing. But it wasn't anyone else, it was you. I suggest you take your lunch *now*, and I'll see what I can do. Lionel Fielding and I go way back, he's a fair man. Now get out, go to lunch." Simon didn't turn, his back ramrod stiff, brooking no comment.

"Simon, you don't....."

"Sandburg, lunch - now."

Blair stood, hands clenching and unclenching, mouth working but no words coming out.....his heart beating so fast he was dizzy. His jaw hurt, his eyes stung, and he could honestly say that he now knew what it meant to have the rug pulled out from under you. And the landing was exceptionally hard. Harder than a bullet in the leg, or Golden, or getting slugged, or death.

He turned, reached out blindly, pulled open the door, and walked out. He stopped at his desk, shut down the computer, put his pen away, straightened the two pictures on his new desk, one of Naomi, and the other of he, Jim and Simon at a Jags game, taken just a few weeks earlier, then he stood for a moment, looking at the nameplate on his desk, knowing what it said, even though of course, it faced outward.....

Detective B. Sandburg

He walked out the double doors, got into the elevator, rode downstairs to the parking garage, climbed into his car, which was parked in space 21, *his* space, backed out and drove onto the street.

He vaguely wondered if the hard beating of his heart was visible to people.....he double checked the rearview mirror and decided that no, it wasn't. Which was odd, because it should have been. He was so certain it must be visible.

Pounding, pounding, pounding....thundering just below his skin, behind his ribs, so loud, so hard, he could feel it in his temples, his neck, his lower back, his hands......he let his mouth open slightly, because he was grinding his teeth, and that wasn't good.

He pulled up along the curb in front of Tony's, a place that he was pretty certain would host no cops, being a healthfood restaurant....he got out, locked up, pocketed his keys and walked inside.


:( :( :( :( :(


"I can't believe that jerk got off." Megan Connor was spitting fire with every word, and Jim Ellison just smiled and shook his head.

"We didn't do our job, Connor. If Simmons had handled the arrest properly, Allens would have gone down."

"God damn Miranda......and how hard is it to read off the god damned card?"

"For Simmons, evidently very hard."

The two detectives walked into Major Crime, neither noticing the looks of sympathy, or being so used to them, they now ignored them. As Jim took his seat, and wondered where Sandburg might be, since they were supposed to go to lunch, Detective Rafe sauntered over and perched on the edge of Jim's desk.

"Hey, Jim, you might have some explaining to do with Serena. She was warbling something about the Henderson case and a certain portfolio you'd taken?"

Jim stood abruptly, "Shit. I forgot. Damn, and I gave it to Stewart in Autopsy. Something tells me I'd better get down there, and save it. Where's Sandburg when you need him? He could charm Serena....damn."

Rafe laughed, slapped Ellison on the back, and said cheerfully, "Well, give it the old Ellison try, you never know, with Y2K just around the corner, you might be nothing more than a ripple in her daily life."

Jim gave Rafe his most condescending look and snapped back, "Gee, thanks. I've just been compared to Y2K, but hey, at least I came up one rank higher...let's just hope Serena agrees." He huffed and walked out, Rafe's laughter ringing in his ears.




"Look, Lionel, I understand, but we both know how Detective Enders is, hell, he probably deserved....."

"Don't give me that shit, Simon. I want Sandburg's head."

Simon was standing at his desk, Captain Lionel Fielding just in front of him. He gave a quick look out his window and was relieved to see Sandburg enter the bullpen. He walked to the door, opened it and stuck his head out.

"Sandburg. Office. Now." His voice was low, his demeanor strange. Blair didn't bother to take his jacket off, he just dropped the brown bag on his desk and kept walking.

As he entered, brushing Simon's chest, he wasn't surprised to see the other man, Captain Fielding. He'd come to several conclusions while *not* eating his lunch, while chomping instead on four Tums, and he squared his shoulders and prepared himself.

Simon closed the door, and faced the two men, Blair now leaning against the conference table, expression unreadable.

"Sandburg, Captain Fielding expects a complete apology from you to Detective Enders, in Captain Fieldings presence. So do I."

Blair glanced from one to the other, straightened, and crossed his arms over his chest.

"I understand. And of course, I'm more than willing to apologize. I assume the apology will be returned?"

Captain Fielding sputtered, his face going red in anger and Simon's mouth dropped open.



During the entire tirade, Blair stood silently, his jaw clenching, the small vein on the left side of his face throbbing.

"How's he walking?" Blair asked, no inflection whatsoever in his voice.

"WALKING?" Fielding was close to popping a blood vessel, but Blair answered before even Simon could intervene.

"Well, when he accosted me in the stairwelI, I knee'd him pretty good. It was the only option I had. Hey, you know how it is, a 6'5, 250 pound detective pins a 5'7, 165 pound man against the wall, smashing his face to concrete, his fucking dick pressed into ass, while his hand is trying to unzip jeans. But I managed to kick back and connect rather solidly with his very hard dick, and it doubled him over."

Simon stepped forward, away from the door, and was about to say something, but Fielding spoke first.



"Well, it seems he feels I must have a very sweet ass. He figured the only reason I was allowed to become a detective was my *sweet ass*. He said, and I believe this is a direct quote, "You must be one fine fuck, for Ellison to keep you around after what you did to him. And Banks must be getting his share, or you would never have been allowed in his department." He then proceeded to tell me that he now wanted *his* piece of my very fine ass."

"Of course, his partner, Detective Lewis, is a good man, and if you asked, I'm sure he could corroborate my story, as he was rushing up the stairs, I assume to stop his partner." Blair turned to Fielding and made eye contact for the first time since he'd begun his recitation.

"Maybe, after the apologies, I should file a sexual harrasment suit? What do you think? Of course, technically, it was attempted physical assault......so maybe I should swear out a complaint? Maybe you two could advise me?"

Simon would have spoken up much earlier, but the lack of emotion, the coldness in Blair's voice, the total lack of expression on his face, all stopped the older man. And now, he was so shocked, so angered, so......incensed, he could only stare. For Fielding's part, he was just as stunned. So much so, the anger, the indignation, all faded away, in the face of what anyone could see was truth. And he suspected now that Detective Lewis would have told him the same story, just thirty minutes ago, had he given him the chance.

Simon finally found his voice.

"I believe a complaint *is* warranted here, don't you, *Captain* Fielding?"

Fielding looked over at Simon, saw the same shock mirrored back at him, and nodded dumbly, then stammered, "Uh, yes, of course, I mean, naturally, I will interview Lewis...and this will be investigated.....immediately."

"Anything else, Lionel?"

"No, of course not. I'll let you know, after I talk with Lewis....I, well, I'll get downstairs....", his voice trailed off, in the face of the man standing before him, and Captain Fielding made a hasty exit.

As Fielding left, Simon stepped aside, then allowed the door to reclose. With shame warring with his anger, he turned to face Sandburg, who was unbuckling his holster.

"Blair, I should have asked. I should have known."

Blair didn't look up, instead choosing to concentrate on the act of wrapping his holster strap around his gun and then unclipping his badge.

"Yes, Captain Banks, I guess you should have. But then, if it had been any other detective, you would have, but it wasn't, it was me." Blair's face was now flushed red again, and his voice, which just moments ago had been strong and firm, was now painfully soft and low, with small pauses, and hitches.

"And some t-truths were - told, facts shared, and now I ---- know. So it was for the best, in the long.....run." Blair looked up then, as he placed the gun and badge on Simon's desk. "I was blind, I had myself fooled, but now I can rectify this, fix it," he paused, almost unable to go on, not wanting to show how much this was hurting, how much it was killing him.....,"....so I'll just leave this here, and I'll get you a formal resignation letter later this afternoon, and you can all go back to normal, and forget this," his voice broke, but he took a deep breath and, "cop wannabe was ever here. And we both know that Jim doesn't need me, never did, not really, so this is best for him, I know how hard it's been, so thanks, Simon. Thanks for him."

"And I'll be staying with friends for a few days, I have some committments through New Year's, but then I'll be leaving Cascade."

And before Simon could react, Blair had walked past him, out the door, grabbed up the two pictures from his desk and was gone.


Blair drove carefully to the loft, went inside, packed a couple of duffel bags, sat down at the kitchen table, composed a simple letter to Jim, thanking him for the years, the home, his friendship, explained that there was nothing left in the loft that he wanted, that he'd been selfish, thoughtless, but that he was doing the best thing, that he wasn't the kind of cop that could best meet the needs of Cascade, and that he'd be with friends through New Year's and then he'd leave Cascade, but that he'd write when he settled because in spite of his actions, his mistakes with Jim, Jim would always be his friend. And as Blair stood and looked about the space that had been his only home, he wondered if he and Jim hadn't been moving toward this moment since Alex.

And he wondered if he could actually make it without Jim. Because he loved him, and he needed him so badly, and the idea of *not* seeing his face across the kitchen table in the morning, or as they passed one another to and from the bathroom, or sitting at the desk that cornered his --- own, or listening to him lecture, or watch his expressions as he focused with one of his senses, or not having Jim ask him if he didn't *hear* that, or don't you *see* that, or feel that, or taste that......and Blair ran a bet with himself, as he gave one last look around, he betted how long he *would* last without Jim, without the man who'd become Blair's other half, without hearing that voice, or see that smile, and Blair picked up his bags, dropped the pen on the table and left without a backward glance.

He drove to the part of Cascade called the Boiler End, a three mile area of soup kitchens, missions, AA offices, free clinics, and cheap motels. He chose the "Bryerson", a small, white motel with black trim, because it was close to the soup kitchens, and that represented his committments. He'd served Christmas Eve meals and had agreed to serve hot meals on New Year's Eve as well. And that was only one week away. He pulled into the back parking lot, a lot not visible from the street, parked and went into the motel office.

Fifteen minutes later he walked out and over to room 21, unlocked the door, went in, dropped his bags on the bed, then walked back out.

He walked the two blocks to the Fifth Street Shelter and turned in.

At the counter stood a tall man, maybe in his forties or fifties, hispanic, and at spotting Blair he waved and called out, "Sandburg! What are you doing here? We under arrest or something?"

"No, Lino, not unless you finally want to confess your secret stew recipe?"

"You know better. If I gave out my secret ingredients, the other shelters would have all my customers."

"True. And we can't have that." Blair walked up to the man, and they highed fived. "So, what's up, Blair?"

"I figured you could use some temporary help through the 31st. I'm - at odds, until the first, so I said to myself, why not see if Lino needs my expertise in ladles."

Jose Lino had known Blair Sandburg for the last five years. He knew him pretty well, and the young man standing in front of him was hurting, hurting bad. But Lino had learned - you don't come out and ask Mr. Blair Sandburg....you wait, you nibble, you skirt, and eventually, you will know. So he was willing to do just that. In the meantime.......

"Man, you are manna from heaven. This flu bug has everyone down, I'm shorthanded, you couldn't have come at a better time."

"Great. So when....", but he didn't finish, as Lino handed him an apron, a big smile on his face.

Blair took it, smiled, nodded, and disappeared into the kitchen, Lino staring after him, concern plainly evident.




Simon had finally moved, gone after Sandburg, but he wasn't fast enough, not nearly fast enough. Now he walked back into his office, his head low, his own words haunting him. But it was too late to cut out his tongue......

As he sat down, he noticed Jim entering the bullpen, jumped up and waved the man over.


Simon closed the door, and faced his friend.

"I screwed up today, Jim. Badly. I've hurt someone I've come to care deeply about, like another son. And I may not be able to repair the damage."

Simon's words, the look on his face, all served to send a chill racing down Jim's spine.

"What, Simon."

"Blair. There was an altercation, between he and Detective Enders. It was bad, Jim, very bad, but I didn't listen to him, didn't even ask him for an explanation. I just laid into him. I said things, Jim. Things I should never have said, things that weren't - *aren't* true. I spoke from fear, exhaustion, worry." Simon pivoted and picked up something from his desk and held it out to Jim.

Blair's badge and gun.

Jim stared at them.

"He didn't resign in anger, Jim. He was badly hurt. He believed, because I gave him no choice, he believed that this was the best thing for the department. For you. For me."

Slowly Jim reached out.....took the objects into his hands as if they were holy. He lifted his gaze from the badge, met Simon's gaze and waited for the rest.

"You'd better get home. He said - he would leave Cascade, after the 31st, that he had - committments. That he would stay with friends."

Jim finally spoke, as he lowered his gaze back to the badge.

"He has no friends left, just - us. No one to stay with....how long ago?"

"An hour, maybe less. I tried to go after him, but he was too fast. I led him to believe, that he was a detective because of - you, only you."

Jim was having a hard time understanding, his puzzlement, his confusion on how Simon could say anything like that.....and the confusion showed, because Simon stepped closer and said, "Jim, we need to go now, and yes, I mean *we*. I'll tell you everything in the truck, but we've got to get to him."

That Jim understood. He nodded, numb, and the two men left.




At the last minute, Simon decided that he'd better drive, so they took his car. Simon told Jim everything, every word, everything that had apparently occured in the stairwell. By the time he'd finished, they were pulling up in front of Jim's building.

No Volvo.

No heartbeat.

No Blair.

They both trudged upstairs, found the letter.

Jim sat, staring at nothing, the letter in his hand.

"Where would he have gone, Jim? What committments?"

Jim shook his head, never letting his sightless gaze leave the letter.

"Jim, think."

"Things haven't been good. They've been - shallow. Skin deep." Jim was talking as if Simon weren't there, as if he were talking to himself.

"I've been keeping him at arms length.....", Jim looked up and smiled wryly. "Afraid, Simon. Always afraid. Afraid he wouldn't make it. Afraid *for* him. Afraid I'd lose him. When he realized...."

"I know, Jim. I've been feeling the same. Only - it's been more like, almost not *wanting* him to be a cop. Like we'd be losing.....something valuable. Losing a piece of him, to this business we've chosen. I've been waiting for the day when he'd walk in, that look in his eyes, and he'd tell me he couldn't do it anymore. Couldn't *be* one of us. Couldn't be a - *cop*."

"I know. And what would I do then? How could I make it without him." And Jim turned to his friend, his eyes questioning, pleading, "How can I make it without him, Simon?"

"He says you don't need him for your senses, that you never really did."


"Do you believe that?"

"I told you how I felt when you kicked him out of your life. We both know that there is something about you two.....even when I *don't* want to acknowledge it, it's there."

"Do you have any idea how many times he keeps me from zoning? I don't think he even realizes. But Simon, I'm not talking about the Sentinel thing. You understand? If I really lost him, I'd simply - stop being a Sentinel."

"I think I do understand."

But Jim was shaking his head, "No, Simon, you don't. I love him."

"So why are we sitting here, moaning. Why aren't we looking for him?"

Jim lifted a haggard face to Simon, "Where? Where do we look?"




Blair looked out over the kitchen serving counter, at the full room. Homeless, the poor, they were all there that night, eager for company, for hot food, warm bellies, an ear to listen.

It was hot in the kitchen, with the stoves, and in spite of the weather outside, Blair was down to his t-shirt. His hair was tied back, and the apron fit snugly around his waist. He'd been serving for five hours straight, and his back was killing him. They'd gone from lunch directly into dinner, and so far, no relief. But for Blair, it was perfect. In the three days since he'd left the loft, he'd been keeping himself busy, falling into bed after midnight, than up by five and back at the shelter to help with breakfast.

He'd been amazed at how dirty he'd felt, how....dirty and useless. He'd been struggling with what to tell Jim and Simon, in those first minutes back at his desk after the incident with Enders, before Simon had called him in......but he hadn't really let it sink in.....and when it did, at about 10pm that night......the shame, embarrassment, had hit him like a two ton truck.

Combine all that with the fact that he'd turned out to be not what he thought at all, that he wasn't who he'd come to think of as him.....shit, he wiped his hand over his eyes, shit, he couldn't even think straight anymore.

Could there be anyone more stupid? He'd actually thought....that Simon.....that Simon.....he couldn't even finish the thought, had he ever been - useful? Had he ever been anything other than - a - what? A - nuisance?

Something to really just be tolerated? A hand on his shoulder......


"Blair, take a break. Carlos is here. Come on, lets step out back, get some fresh, cold air."

He blinked, shook himself and smiled at Lino.

"Right. Cool. Break." And he allowed Lino to pull him outside.

Blair sat on the short stack of boxes, leaning back, closing his eyes, as Lino made himself comfortable resting against the alley wall. He pulled out a cigarette and lit up, taking a healthy drag and exhaling up into the night air.

"God, I know I should quit, but at times like these, it's the only thing keeping me sane."

Without opening his eyes, Blair answered, "I understand. And it'll keep you great company after they remove one of your lungs."

"Shit, Blair. You really can dish it out."

"Um. Maybe you'll only lose your voice box. You know, and you can smoke through the hole in your throat."

Lino stubbed out the cigarette.

"I'm kinda surprised, Blair.....you being a new cop, and yet they let you have a vacation so early?"

"I'm not a cop anymore, Lino."

Simple words. He'd said them. And the knife twisted in his gut.

"I don't understand. You were a cop at Christmas, and now you're not.

What happened, Blair, " he asked, gently.

"I thought I was somebody I'm not. I thought, I'd found my destiny.....and it was brought home to me, that ---- I was wrong."

Blair sat up then, opened his eyes and stared up at the dark sky, overcast, stars in hiding. "It's weird. I think you can find your destiny, but if.....if - what you find, doesn't accept....fuck, I'm not making an ounce of sense."

"Blair, if it's your destiny, it is. How can it be otherwise?"

Sandburg laughed, dryly, "My mom met her destiny once. Twenty years ago, Lino. His name was Jeremy. She loved him like no other before or since. And she said he was her destiny. That they were meant to be together, that he was the one."

"What happened?"

"He left her - after three months. He couldn't handle - a ready made family - me. A ten year old. So he kissed her and walked out."

Blair stood and stretched his back, arms reaching high as Lino asked, "Then, he wasn't her destiny."

Blair chuckled, "Oh, don't tell her that. They're getting married on Valentine's Day."


"Yes. She met him again....a couple of months ago, at one of her famous retreats. She doesn't have a ten year old anymore. He's thirty now, and she hardly sees him anymore....which is silly, cause he's no longer a cop. But now....she's going to be Mrs. Jeremy Cooper. Matron. Destiny."

"So, what does it all mean, Blair?"

"Hell if I know. Except.....now I don't have a destiny. It's gone. And I don't know who I am.

I've had quite a few lives, man. A gypsy, a college student, a grad student, a teacher, an explorer, a scientist, an observer......a cop. I changed with each new life, jumped in with both feet, always assuming I was welcome......", Blair swallowed suddenly, as the tide of emotion rode high, as hot, burning moisture hit his eyes...."And I was - rarely welcome, but I was too stupid to notice......except with my mom's *friends*......I always knew I was an intrusion...someone to be bought off."

"I think I should kill her, mi amigo."

"Her?" Blair frowned in confusion.

"The woman who tore you apart, who broke your heart."

Blair leaned back, smiling....."Um, I wonder what you would think if you knew it wasn't a her."

"I would want to kill him, and I would be very angry I did not know sooner.....I'd have made my move on you months ago."

Blair suddenly found himself choking, and as he leaned forward, trying to catch his breath, Lino joined him, slapping him on the back.

"Sorry, Blair....."

And Blair was laughing, laughing hard, and tears were streaming down his face, and the laughter turned hysterical, and Lino, a good man, simply took the younger man into his arms, and held on tight.

They stayed like that, until a voice interrupted them.


The man in question whirled around, searching, and from the darkest shadow of the alley, a tall man seperated himself from the blackness.


Lino stepped away and quietly went back inside.

Jim walked up to his friend, his partner, stopped when he was within arms length and gently said, "You picked a bad time to turn in your badge......Friday promises to be downright fun. The Commissioner has called every man and woman in....."

Blair just stared. And said, "Jim?"

"Yes. Jim. Your friend. Your Sentinel. Your partner. The man who loves you. Jim. J - I - M. And you would be Blair. B - L - A - I - R."

"Thank you for the spelling lesson. How did you......"

"Find you? I finally, after tearing this town apart, remembered the shelter, Christmas Eve. Figured I'd give it a try."

"Well, I'm kind of glad....I felt bad about not - waiting to see you, to say good-bye....."

"No good-byes. Unless we both go - together."

Blair frowned, his face scrunching up as if he were trying to figure out the greatest problem in the world. Shaking his head, he said, "Jim, I don't...."

"Simon is out front. He feels like shit. He hasn't slept in three days. Not good for a Captain. Enders is through. If you're interested. Lewis heard everything, saw some of it, told his Captain. You know, it's weird. Simon and I had the almost exact same fear."

"And that would be fear of going bald?"

"Ha, ha, Chief, very funny. No, fear that we would lose someone who'd come to mean a great deal to us.....in different ways, of course. He doesn't want to strip you, and fuck into the real millenium. I don't think he does, at any rate."

Jim took another tentative step toward Blair, who stayed where he was, waiting, one eyebrow cocked.

"Simon, had a bad day, Chief. He didn't mean any of what he said. But he......"

"Maybe I should speak for myself?"

Both men turned to see Simon stepping out the back door of the shelter.

"I could grovel, Sandburg, but knowing the kind of man you are.....you'd hate seeing that. And you know, I don't hug, so that's out. But I'm hoping your as smart as I've always believed you to be, and you'll understand when I hand you these." And his left hand lifted and laying in the open palm was Blair's badge and gun.

Blair gazed at his shield, then up to Jim, then up further to Simon.

"Blair, there was so much pressure, it surrounded all of us, and right smack in the middle, was this groundless fear that you would....fold. That you would hate what we do, once you were forced to do it. And somehow, that something precious inside of you....would be destroyed if you stayed. An innocence. A view of life that I need to see in you, for my own health. Does that make sense?"

Blair nodded, unable to speak.

"You know, maybe....just this once....how bad could a hug be? Just this once?"

He urged the gun and badge into Blair, who, holding his breath, took them, and before he could look up again, he was wrapped in strong arms, and a second later, Simon stepped back, rubbed his face, and said, "You tell anyone, anyone at all, and so help me, they won't ever find the body parts. Understood, Detectives?"

"Tell anyone what, Simon?" Jim asked innocently.


"I don't know - what you mean, Captain."

"Simon, it's Simon.....S - I - M - O - N. And Jim, you're right.....absolutely right...." And Simon turned and walked back into the shelter, muttering, "Next millenium, indeed."

As the door closed behind Simon, Jim gazed back at Blair, who was once again staring at the shield.

"So, do I have my permanent and official partner back?"

"Just like that," Blair said, wonder in his voice.

"Just like that. And by the way? I *love* the apron."

"You shit."

"Yep," Jim said, happily.

"Come here."

Jim, being the good Sentinel, did what his guide told him to do......


Jim leaned in closer.

"Good. And bend your knees, just a bit."

Jim bent his knees.

"Real good." And Blair brought Jim's head down just a bit more, and kissed him. With all the finesse, all the passion, all the command of his experience. Which was considerable.

And Jim let himself be kissed, taken, controlled, enjoyed the demanding tongue, the sweetness of it, the feel of it, and he finally took it, sucked deliciously, pulled it in deeper, and arms surrounded each other, hips ground into flesh, and Jim's hands moved down, taking that ass, that beautiful ass, and kneaded it, and stroked and pulled the body in impossibly closer, and Blair's right hand lodged on Jim's hip, fingers tightening, and zippers were undone as hands moved, and fondled, one set clumsy, the other experienced, and the moans increased, but one of them, finally, surfaced, came to his senses, and said, "....alley, cold....", and they stopped, Jim's head dropping to rest on Blair's shoulder, both breathing hard.

Jim raised his head, and rested it, forehead to forehead, and they smiled at each other, that secret smile shared by lovers everywhere......

"So, when do you get off?"

"If one of us hadn't gotten wise, a few minutes ago."

"The soup kitchen, idiot."

"What time is it?"



"Let's go."


"He can get his own......"





No one could say that Blair was welcomed back with open arms. For one thing, no one knew he'd *resigned*, and for another, it was no secret that Enders was gone, and that Sandburg was still there.

As for the men and women of Major Crime, well, unbeknownst to either Jim or Blair, Simon had met with almost every member, in a general meeting, two days after Blair had left. He had simply told them that he trusted every single one of them, that they were his team, and as such, they were entitled to know that Detective Blair Sandburg *had* lied. At the press conference. And that that was the *only* time he'd lied. Simon then told his crew that he would leave them to discuss among themselves if they were willing for Detective Sandburg to continue in their department, and that if not, they need simply come to Simon's office and tell him.

No one came to his office. No one.

On December 31st, Blair's first official, *unofficial* day back, he expected the coldness that he was used to and he found it. And when he entered Major Crime, he expected the usual, "let's not look at him, maybe he'll go away", attitude, so when, within his first ten minutes, *every* man and woman there had come up and said "hello", or "boy, isn't it going to be a busy night", or "how ya doin, Sandburg?" he was just plain flabbergasted. And overjoyed, but he tried very hard to play it cool, to answer like a mature cop instead of a suddenly excited kid who'd just been let inside the toy store and told he could have anything he wanted.....And Jim just sat back, stunned, but delirious, smiling like there was no tomorrow.....

The day moved on, and it was almost as crazy as everyone had predicted. But oddly enough, it was the fire department and the hospitals that were kept hopping, as fireworks caused the usual amount of stupid fires, and drunks had accidents or caused accidents, and supermarkets were overrun by last minute panicked shoppers who decided that maybe they should have bottled water, and beef jerky, and maybe some cole slaw on hand, just in case....and surprisingly enough, there were quite a few attempted robberies at banks and ATM's as idiots believed that vaults would miraculously open, and ATM's would spew forth twenty dollar bills.....

In fact, Major Crime found themselves doodling for much of the 31st.....until 1215am. When they were called out to the Washington Mutual ATM on 15th and Egerton. It seemed that four men had surrounded the ATM, certain that any minute now, it would give up all it's gold....so to speak. Unfortunately, the four men had AK-47's, and threatened to shoot anyone who dared to get within ten feet of *their* gold mine.

Jim and Blair pulled up, one of four responding units, and one of the men immediately began shooting, and Jim and Blair found themselves once again jumping from the truck, which was taking it's fair share of bullets.

"Why does this always happen to us?"

"Just lucky, I guess, Chief," Jim yelled back, over the sounds of gunfire.

Jim noticed a way that he might get around the idiots defending their ATM, and giving Blair the sign to cover him, he made his move. Blair fired a volley at the idiots, who immediately began concentrating their fire on the silly blue and white truck, and Jim made it to the side of the ATM, but one of the idiots spotted the flash of his blue shirt, and turned and fired. At that exact moment, Jim tried to round the corner, and one of the bullets caught him high in the leg. He went down.

Blair saw him fall, and signaling to another cop for cover, he made his way to Jim's side. He'd just scooted up to his fallen partner, when two of the men turned their guns toward the fallen detective. Blair calmly, in front of everyone, stepped in front of Jim, his body now blocking his wounded partner, and Blair went down on one knee, and took careful aim and fired at the man closest.

He screamed as the bullet thudded into his gun hand and the AK-47 went flying. Then Blair yelled, calmly, "FREEZE, CASCADE PD, YOU IDIOTS. AND THE ATM IS BROKEN, CAN'T YOU GUYS READ?"

One of the idiots turned and did indeed read the white sign posted on the ATM screen, and it did indeed say, "Temporarily Out Of Service, Money Can Not Be Accessed At This Time"......

"Fuck", the one idiot said, and dropped his gun.

The others quickly followed suit, especially after Blair fired a round that slammed into the wall just over the head of the one who looked as though he wouldn't cave.......

The officers rushed the three men, while two officers took charge of the man Blair had hit.

Blair turned his attention to Jim, clamping his hand over the bullet wound, shaking his head, and making that disgusting clucking sound.

"James, James, James....so clumsy. And if you think I'm celebrating the New Year at Cascade General...you've got another thing coming."

"In and out.....flesh wound, doesn't even hurt....", and he bit back a brave groan.

"Oh god....and you're going to be brave for me, too, my, my...."

"Shut the fuck up, Sandburg."

The ambulances arrived, paramedics swarmed over Jim, who was starting to get annoyed, but a gentle hand on his shoulder and quiet words whispered, "Just turn it down", helped, and *allowed* them to put him into the ambulance.

2000 2000 2000 2000

"You're staying."

"I'm not."

"Oh, Jiiimmmm, I've always wanted to get fucked by you, and you wearing only a hospital gown, and the threat of discovery any minute, of course, if you're not up to it......"

"Sandburg, close the fucking door and get your ass over here....."

The door swung shut, a jacket was peeled off, and moments later, Jim found a 165 pound man covering his body, and hungrily attacking his mouth.....

Blair stopped long enough to gasp out, "How do you want to do this?"

"Hey, it's your fantasy.....I'm in the gown, now do something...."

Sentinel eyesight was truly a blessing, because he couldn't miss the very wicked grin that crossed his bedmates face......

"Okay, you asked for it....."

"No, clarification here....you dreamed it...."

But Blair was only shimmying out of his jeans, while at the same time pulling the curtain shut,

and then with some tender nibbles, hot kisses, firm stroking of Jim's now very interested cock, and grabbing some of the hand lotion the hospital so nicely leaves hanging around each bed, he quickly prepared himself, watching Jim's face, watching the blue eyes go black, and Jim's breathing turn to harsh panting, and he straddled his love, fumbled with the gown, and with one quick kiss, he lowered himself, felt Jim grip his hips with superhuman strength, knew Jim was holding back the moan, so he leaned forward, ran his tongue over Jim's lips, and said, "Bet I can make you scream....."

"Don't you even try......oh, shit....fuck....god..."

And Blair set the rythm, the pace, alternated his movements with kisses and bites to Jim's neck, managed to give equal attention to Jim's nipples, his ears, whispering, "you lazy bum", and smiling, but then he increased his movement, and Jim twisted slightly, thus hitting Blair's prostate, and whispering, "we'll see who screams first....", but Blair bent and dragged his hair over Jim's face, and down his neck and he pulled at the gown until the frail tie snapped, and he ran his hair over now very sensitive nipples, and Jim thrust up, ready, and with his body trembling, he actually came first, and he screamed, and Blair followed, but clamped his mouth over Jim's, catching his own name mid *air*......and as the last of his climax was wrung out of him, his hands trailed down Jim's thighs, carefully, avoiding the bandage, and felt Jim's tremors, and Blair tucked his head under Jim's chin, and rested a moment, before getting up, lifting his body off of Jim, to a moan from the nearly unconscious man, and Blair quickly cleaned up, slipped on his jeans with shaking fingers, and reaching over to the side of the bed, he took the television control, turned on the tv, hit a channel that was showing a re-run of the many and varied midnights around the world, climbed back into bed with Jim, and said, "Man, it's the year 2000, Jim. We made it."

"yes," came the sleepy answer, "we did. but I just know you're gonna kill me before the year 2001."



End - 2000