Rating: R

Pairings: J/B

Series/Sequel: Sequel is A Shot In the Dark II: Promises

Warnings: m/m

Archive category: Romance/Drama/First Times

Disclaimers: All recognizable Sentinel characters are copyright of Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. No infringement intended on my part.... just doing some wishful thinking. :-)

Notes: { } indicate thoughts

Summary: A case of mistaken identity on Jim's part leads to a near-fatal error for Blair.

Date completed: September 21, 1997


A Shot In The Dark

by Barbara Nice-Miller




Outskirts of Cascade


"For the last time, Sandburg, no."

"Come on, man..."

"Listen to me, Sandburg! We've got one, possibly two, armed gunmen in that warehouse. Back-up's not here yet. You are not going in there with me."

Blair watched in frustration as Jim cinched the straps tight on the Kevlar vest he wore over his white t-shirt, then checked the clip in his weapon. He slammed it home with a snap, cocking it, putting a live round in the chamber.

"Jim, it's pitch black in there. There aren't any windows. You're gonna have your sight working overtime." He threw his hands up. "What if you zone? You'll be all by yourself. I just wanna help."

"You really wanna help?"

"Of course I do!"

"Then stay right here in the truck. Direct back-up when they arrive." Blair opened his mouth to protest. "Blair, please. I don't have time to argue about this."

Blair closed his mouth and nodded his head. He'd lost this battle.

With a nod of his own head, Jim was gone, running off into the darkness, his Sentinel hearing picking up on his friend's whisper.

"Be careful."


The darkness was complete. Enveloping him, surrounding him. Dark, angry clouds blanketed the sky, obliterating the moon. Not even a single star shone forth. It was an eerie feeling. Foreboding.

Jim turned up his sight, picking out the warehouse door. Gravel crunched softly beneath his feet as he jogged up to it. It was partly open. Jim paused for a moment, letting the adrenaline surge through his veins. He could hear his own heart beating, faster than normal, in anticipation.

He was going to get these bastards. He was going to end their three-state killing spree. Tonight. No more dead children. No more.

Jim drew his service weapon with his right hand and pushed the door open with his left. He immediately dropped to a defensive crouch, gun sweeping the area. No one. He moved swiftly into the interior of the warehouse, up against the wall. He felt the rusted metal snag on the Kevlar momentarily as he brushed up against a support beam.

Taking a deep breath, Jim opened up his hearing, searching for heartbeats. Without his Guide at his side, he was careful not to push too hard, eager as he was to capture the men.

There! One heartbeat, faint but fast. He must be on the far end of the building. The Sentinel searched for two, but could only detect the one. The other gunman wasn't here.

"Damn..." he muttered to himself.

Jim turned down his hearing, barely registering the heartbeat, and turned up his sight. He'd need it to maneuver through the blackness. The abandoned warehouse was fraught with huge pieces of machinery, boxes, pallet stacks... He concentrated on picking his way carefully across the floor, needing to move fast, but not wanting to stumble.


Blair paced restlessly in front of the truck, running a hand through his dark curls. Where was that back-up?! He wanted, needed to get inside to Jim. He could be in trouble and his Guide would never know, standing out here.

The moon suddenly broke through the clouds for a moment, the unexpected brightness startling Blair. He took the opportunity to scan the area, hoping to see Jim emerge from the warehouse, prisoners in tow. And to his surprise, someone did come out of the building from a door at the far end, at a dead run. From this distance, Blair couldn't make out a face, but with the way he ran, he could tell it wasn't Jim. It had to be one of the men he was after.

Blair fully expected to see Jim hot on the guy's heels, but after a moment, he realized that wasn't going to be the case. No one was chasing him. That could only mean two things: Jim wasn't aware the man had left the building and was still searching for him, or...Jim was injured and couldn't give chase. Blair took off at a sprint, heading for the far door, visions of his best friend lying bleeding on a cold floor racing though his head.


Jim was almost at the back of the building when he turned down his sight and turned back up his hearing once again. And detected nothing. No heartbeat, no movement. Nothing.

"No, no..."

He shouldn't have turned down his hearing so low, shouldn't have concentrated so hard on his sight. Now he'd misplaced his suspect.

No, wait! There it was, still in front of him, and getting closer. Jim raised his weapon.

{I've got you now, you son-of-a-bitch}


Blair burst through the open door the suspect had run out of, from the blackness of outside into the total darkness of the warehouse, arm coming up instinctively so as to not run into anything.


The gunman was almost on top of him. Jim stepped out from behind the stack of pallets, just as the dark form of a man came racing towards him. Jim went to yell out, to identify himself, when the man's arm came up.

It all happened in a split second.

Jim's policeman's self-preservation instincts kicked in, overriding his Sentinel abilities.

He fired.


The gunshot was deafening in the silence of the building, the bright flash from the muzzle lighting up the darkness. The man let out a strangled scream of surprise and pain as the bullet slammed into him. The impact hurled him backwards into a piece of machinery before he crumpled to the concrete, laying on his side.

Jim stood stock still for the length of a heartbeat, a tendril of smoke emanating from the barrel of his gun. That scream... That voice...

"Oh, please, God..."

He holstered his weapon and was at the side of the fallen man in an instant, his heart slamming in his chest. This close, he didn't need any of his Sentinel abilities to know he'd just shot his best friend. Jim's entire world came crashing to a halt.

Blair lay like a broken doll, blood flowing freely from his upper chest to run down his arm and pool on the ground. His eyes were closed and he was deathly still.

Jim lurched backwards, feeling the bile rise in his throat. Oh, God, what had he done? All he could do was stare in utter shock and horror at his Guide.

A mistake...it was a mistake...

A shot in the dark, and he'd killed his best friend, his partner, his Guide... the only person he'd ever truly loved.

The emotional pain was unbearable, he felt as if his heart was ripping in two. He sank to his knees, his breaths coming in harsh gasps, his hand unconsciously reaching for his weapon...

The shrill whine of sirens split the air and Jim jerked, eyes catching the flashing red and blue lights through the open doorway. Moving stiffly, he gathered Blair's limp form in his arms, oblivious to the blood now staining his vest. He stood and walked out into the night, moving on auto-pilot, on the verge of a breakdown, senses completely shut down.

The area was swarming with uniformed officers. Simon and Brown met him halfway back to the truck. As soon as they saw Jim cradling Blair against him, Simon began screaming for paramedics.

"Jim! Jim, what happened? How bad is he?"

But Jim ignored his captain and continued walking. It was then that they saw the tears streaming down the detective's face.

Brown put a hand on Jim's arm and Simon reached for Blair, saying, "Jim, stop. Put him down."

"NO!" Jim roared, jerking away. "Don't touch him!"

"What the hell's wrong with you, Jim?!"

"He's DEAD, Simon!" he screamed. "He's dea--" his voice broke and his legs gave out on him at the same time. Simon and Brown rushed forward as Jim collapsed, Brown grabbing Jim and Simon catching Blair. He laid young man gently on the ground as Brown wrapped an arm around Jim's trembling shoulders. Simon and Brown looked at each other in horror and disbelief. Not the kid....

Simon pressed two fingers to Blair's neck, hoping against hope listening to Jim's anguished whispers.

"I'm so sorry, Blair...I'm sorry..."


Simon's startled cry was followed by his bellow, "Where are those paramedics?!"

"Captain? What is it?" asked a confused Brown.

"He's not dead. I've got a pulse! It's very faint, but I've got one." Simon turned to Jim, who was staring at his young friend, unseeingly "Jim! Jim, did you hear me? Blair's alive."

Jim tipped his head up. "Wh--What?"

"He's alive. Now come on, focus here. I need your help. Brown, get me the ETA of that ambulance and have everyone sweep the area!" As he rushed off, Simon commanded, "Here, help me get his shirt open. We need to stop the bleeding."

Jim worked the buttons open on Blair's blood-soaked shirt as Simon pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. Jim pushed the fabric aside and they got their first look at the gunshot wound. The hole was directly below the young man's right collarbone and still bleeding. Simon sucked in a breath and pressed the handkerchief over the wound.

"Jim, roll him towards me and pull his shirt off his shoulder."

Jim nodded and did so, carefully. Blair never made a sound.

"Dammit, Jim. There's no exit wound. The bullet's still in him. God knows what kind of damage it's caused." He paused. "We'll get this bastard, Jim, I swear it. Is he still in the area? Did you see where he went? What caliber gun was he using?"

The questions came rapid fire, but Jim was saved from answering as Brown came rushing up, the paramedics not far behind.

"Captain! We've got footprints heading south!"

Simon looked at Jim. "Keep pressure on this. I need to go check this out. The paramedics are almost here. Jim? Are you with me, here?"

"Yeah. Yeah, Simon. I'm fine. Go."

Simon left with Brown and Jim was alone with Blair for a moment. He grasped his friend's cold hand.

"Blair? Can you hear me? Oh, God, I'm so sorry. It was an accident," he whispered brokenly, the tears starting anew. "This is all my fault. Please...don't leave me. There's so many things I wanted to say..."

"Detective? We've got it now. Step back, please."

Jim allowed himself to be moved away by the paramedics, but his eyes never left his friend as they worked frantically to stabilize him. Blair was loaded onto the gurney in moments, and suddenly Jim was left alone, kneeling in the dirt, his hands and chest covered in Blair's blood.

If Blair died, how would he ever live with himself, knowing he'd killed him?


The nightmare had Jim fully in it's grasp, resisting his attempts to awaken, forcing the Sentinel to endure the images flashing in his mind...

...the shooting in slow-motion, only this time he saw Blair's face but couldn't stop himself from firing

...Blair's look of disbelief as the bullet slammed into him

...Blair's scream of pain

...the young man standing before him, blood on his hands, his chest, accusing him, anguish in his eyes. "Why, Jim? Why?"


Jim jerked upright with a yell, finally breaking free of the nightmare. He looked around frantically, trying to remember where he was. Oh, yeah. The hospital waiting room. He must've fallen asleep for a bit as he waited for Blair to come out of surgery.

"Jim? You Ok?"

Jim looked over at his captain and rubbed a hand across his face. "Yeah, Simon. I'm fine."

Simon didn't look convinced. "We need to talk about what happened in that warehouse. You up to it?"

Jim sighed and nodded his head. Time to confess. He'd taken off in the truck as soon as Blair was loaded in the ambulance, following it to the hospital, without telling Simon he was leaving the crime scene. Though it didn't take a genius to figure out where he'd gone, and Simon showed up in the emergency room as Blair was being taken up to surgery. The bullet had bounced around the young man's upper chest, tearing muscle and nicking his lung. They needed to repair the damage quickly.

As Jim and Simon headed to the waiting room, the captain told him they'd been unable to catch the fugitive. He'd disappeared without a trace. For one brief, insane moment Jim thought about not telling anyone it was he who'd shot Blair, so overwhelming was his guilt. But he snapped back to reality a split second later and realized he could never to that. He had to face the facts and consequences of what he'd done.

"Ok, Jim. Give me a play-by-play of what happened, especially in relation to the shoot--"

"Simon, stop."


"I just...Simon, I...Oh, shit, Simon."

"Jim?" Simon had never seen such desolation in his friend's eyes.

"Simon, the man I was after didn't shoot Blair. It was me. I shot Blair."

The silence in the waiting room was deafening until Simon found his voice.

"You--you what? How? What the hell happened in there, Jim?"

Jim jumped up from the chair and started pacing, hands gesturing.

"I told Sandburg to stay in the truck. He obviously didn't listen to me. I picked out the perp's heartbeat when I entered the building, but it was so dark in there I had to turn down my hearing and concentrate on my sight. I was afraid I'd zone otherwise. When I reached the far end of the building, I turned down my sight and turned my hearing back up again. But I couldn't hear the heartbeat for a moment. Then I picked up on it, moving fast and straight towards me. I raised my weapon and stepped out from behind the pallet stack. He was almost on top of me. I went to identify myself when I saw movement, his arm came up. And...I fired. Oh, God, Simon. I heard him scream..." he finished in a whisper.

Simon stood and placed a hand on Jim's shoulder. "It was an accident, Jim. You had no idea he was in there. You thought you were having a weapon pointed at you."

"And if he dies? What kind of comfort will that be? I'm a Sentinel. I should have been able to tell that it was Blair. That bullet did a lot of damage. He lost so much blood, and his lung... Hell, I was so freaked out I thought he was dead, and I just let him bleed..."

"Stop it, Jim! Don't do this to yourself. And don't count the kid out yet. If there's one thing I've learned about Sandburg, it's that he's full of surprises."

"Detective Ellison?"

Jim and Simon turned their heads at the sound of the new voice.

Jim stepped forward. "I'm Ellison."

"I'm Doctor Throne, Detective. I've just finished up with Mr. Sandburg--"

"Will he be alright?" Jim broke in.

"I do believe so, yes. His right arm won't be of much use to him for quite awhile, what with all the muscle damage, and he'll need physical therapy down the road. We repaired the minor damage to his lung, he should have no long-term problems with his breathing."

Jim visibly sagged with relief as Simon said with a smile, "Thank you, Doctor."

Dr. Throne smiled back. "You're very welcome. Mr. Sandburg's been moved upstairs to his room, number 201. You can go see him, but realize that he's still a bit out of it from the anesthesia."

He turned to go, then paused. "Oh, we have the extracted bullet for you. I understand you need it for evidence in Mr. Sandburg's shooting. Just ask the duty nurse for it."

Jim immediately stiffened and Simon laid a hand on his arm. "Thank you, Doctor, we will." Then Dr. Throne was gone.

"Go on, Jim. Go up and see the kid."

But Jim stood still. "How can I face him after what I did? I'm his Blessed Protector...and I almost killed him."


Jim silently entered Blair's hospital room, closing the door behind him, taking in all of the sights, sounds and smells at once. His friend looked so small lying in the bed, eyes closed, face too pale, his dark curls standing out in stark relief against the white pillow. The blanket was pushed down to his waist, leaving the bandages on his bare upper chest exposed. His right arm was immobilized, wrapped tight across his waist, his shoulder and upper chest swathed in thick, white bandages.

He was hooked up to an IV, heart monitor and oxygen. Despite what the doctor had said, Jim could tell Blair's breathing was labored. The strong smell of antiseptic permeated the air, and he turned down his sense of smell.

Jim walked farther into the room and sat down in the hard plastic chair at Blair's bedside with an exhausted sigh. The siderails were down and he moved the chair as close to the bed as he could. He then reached up and laid his palm lightly on Blair's chest, directly over his heart. He turned up his touch and hearing, needing to feel Blair's heartbeat beneath his fingertips. And there it was. Strong and steady, and slow enough to indicate sleep. Blair stirred at the touch and Jim quickly removed his hand, not wanting to wake the battered anthropologist. But Blair's eyes fluttered open anyway, and suddenly Jim found himself drowning in their blue depths.

Blair smiled tiredly. "Jim..." he whispered.

Jim leaned forward and covered Blair's hand with his own. "I'm here, Chief."

Blair looked down at himself and sighed. "I guess..." he began, fighting to stay awake, "...there were two of them...in that warehouse."

Jim pulled back slightly. Oh, God. Blair didn't know. Then the missing pieces began to fall in place. While he was concentrating on his sight, the suspect must have run out of the building. That would explain the open door. When he didn't emerge, Blair must have run in the same door to check on him. Which is when he picked up on the heartbeat again. But Blair thought he'd been shot by the second gunman Jim had told him may be in there, too.

Jim swallowed. "We'll talk about that later, Chief. You need to sleep, Ok?"

All Blair could manage was a nod before his eyes slid shut and he drifted back off to sleep. Jim waited for a bit, then released Blair's hand and left the room, heading for the cafeteria and some much needed coffee.


He returned about 45 minutes later, feeling a bit more awake, even though he'd been at the hospital since 2:30am and now dawn was breaking. Blair's eyes were still closed, his breathing slow but easier now. The Sentinel took up his position in the chair beside his Guide's bedside once more.

"Oh, Blair," he spoke softly, taking the coward's way out, knowing Blair couldn't hear him, considering this a test-run of what he'd say to his Guide when he was awake. "Please don't hate me when I tell you your Blessed Protector fell down on the job. It was an accident. I didn't know it was you until after I pulled the trigger. You have to know I'd never purposely hurt you. How could I ever hurt you... I love you." He sighed. "But you don't know that, do you? Because I've never said anything. But it has nothing to do with you being a man. I've long since accepted my feelings for you, regardless of the fact that I've never even looked at a man before. And I'm not even worried about your reaction. I know you think I don't know about the occasional guy you go out with." He smiled. "Never try to fool a Sentinel." Then he sobered again. "No, I've never said anything because... I'm scared. That's right. Big, tough, Jim Ellison is scared. Scared of giving you my love, my heart. I've just gotten burned too many times in the past. My father, Stephen, Carolyn...I gave them all of me, then it all just fell apart." He leaned forward and took Blair's hand. "But something scared me even more tonight. Because of my mistake, my carelessness, I almost lost you forever, without ever even giving 'us' a chance. And I'm willing to take that chance. With you. Only you. I'm trusting you with my heart, my soul...everything. Because I know instinctively that you'd never hurt me. And I'm counting on that, because I love you more than life itself, Blair Sandburg."

"Well it's about damn time," said a soft voice.

Jim practically jumped out of his skin. Blair was smiling, eyes still closed, but very much awake. He opened his eyes to gaze upon the man that owned his heart, even though he didn't know it.

Jim was speechless for a moment, then stammered, "How much did you--"

"Every word," Blair replied quietly, then gave a little chuckle, grimacing slightly at the pain it caused. "Looks like I fooled the Sentinel, " he teased. "So it was you who did this, huh?" he continued."Well, I've got to admit, shooting someone is certainly a unique way to say 'I love you'. You know, Jim, you didn't have to take such drastic measures to get my undivided attention. I would've sat quietly on the couch in the loft," he finished with a smile, trying to catch his breath.

Jim just sat there, dumbfounded, not knowing where to start. This wasn't exactly going as planned, but with Sandburg, nothing ever did.

"I...Can you forgive me, Blair? I don't know what happened in there. I should've been able to tell it was you..." he trailed off.

"Jim, there's nothing to forgive. It was my fault. I never should've run in there like that. But I was worried..."

Jim smiled. "You were worried? About me?"

Blair gave him an annoyed look. "Of course I was worried about you... I love you," he finished softly.

Jim sucked in a breath, barely believing his ears. He tightened his grip on his Guide's hand. "Ahh, Blair..." he sighed. "Why didn't you say anyth--"

"You didn't," Blair pointed out.

Jim nodded. "You're right. I didn't. And now you know why." He rubbed his thumb across the back of Blair's hand. "Will you tell me why you didn't?"

"Because I was scared, too," Blair admitted. "But for a different reason. It was the idea of commitment, Jim. All my life, I've learned not to get attached. To any place or anyone. Because Naomi would always pack us up and move us. But then I got used to it...the traveling, seeing new places... that's what got me interested in anthropology." He paused. "Then I got the job at the University, and it was the longest I'd ever stayed in one place." Blair smiled. "Then I met you. And for the first time I'd found something worth staying in one place for. And it scared me to death. Could I give up my wanderlust urges and really, truly settle down? For good? Make that kind of commitment? I was afraid to promise you that, for fear I'd break it. So I loved you from afar. But then I answered my questions when I turned down Borneo." He squeezed Jim's hand, then removed it from the big man's grasp to lay it on the side of the Sentinel's face. Jim's eyes went half-closed at the touch, leaning into it, a smile touching his lips. "I knew right then that I could never leave you, and I'd never want to. I told you it was about friendship, but it was more than that. It was about love." He let his hand drop down to rest on Jim's arm. "But then I didn't know what to do. Just blurt out 'I love you'? So I've just been waiting, having faith in myself that I'd know when the right moment came. And here it is..." he breathed. His hand moved again, this time he brushed a finger across Jim's lips. He sighed happily. "I've always wanted to do that."

Jim's eyes were dark with passion, with love. "Is there anything else you've always wanted to do?" he asked huskily.

"Why don't you lean in a little closer and find out?" came an equally husky reply.

Jim stood and leaned over the young man, bracing his hands on either side of him, taking care not to jostle him. Jim dipped his head, their lips mere centimeters apart. "Is this close enough?" was his whispered question.

"No," replied Blair. "But this is." Then he closed the gap and brought their mouths in contact with each other for the first time.

That first kiss was tentative, exploratory, but at the same time, an outpouring of pent-up emotions for both men, expressing their love without words. Blair marveled at how soft Jim's lips were, while Jim used all of his senses to try and capture Blair's very essence, imprinting it in his memory.

Blair went to deepen the kiss, but hissed in pain as he moved his injured shoulder. Jim immediately pulled back to see his love's eyes squeezed shut, a grimace on his face. Jim laid his hand on Blair's head, stroking the soft curls.

"Shh, relax. Ok, Chief. That's enough for today. It's been a rollercoaster of a day, we have a lot to talk about, but we both need some rest, Ok?" Blair opened his eyes and nodded, relaxing at Jim's touch and as the pain subsided. "I want you to get better so I can bring you home and take care of you." He leaned down for a quick kiss. "For the rest of my life," he vowed.

Blair smiled tiredly, exhaustion finally catching up with him. "Forever, Jim?" he asked gently.

"Forever, Blair."

"I like that..." he said as his eyes drifted close.

"So do I, Chief. So do I." He kissed Blair's forehead, then said softly, "I love you."

Jim straightened up, intending to go, but Blair's eyes opened and they seemed to be almost...twinkling.

"Hey, Jim?"

"Yeah, Chief?"

"Wanna play doctor?"



Thanks for reading! Comments are always appreciated. :-)

Barbara Nice-Miller