Note: For conveinence sake, Blair's spanish is mostly in English - duh!
Jim Ellison could wake up one of two ways; Eyes automatically flicking open seconds before his alarm, or to the sounds of his roommate padding through the loft accompanied by his low mumblings as he talked himself through the early morning haze. What Jim Ellison had never done in all his years was to wake up happy, warm and safe. Until now. Today.
Jim Ellison *did* wake to his roommate, but this time to a roommate in his arms. Blair lay on his side, one arm hugging Jim's waist, hand resting on one hip, his left leg draped over Jim's and his head nestled just under Jim's armpit. Long curly hair tickled delightfully and the soft regular breathing lulled the Sentinel into an even richer state of euphoria.
Jim reached over and hit the alarm before it could awaken his bedmate, but he accidently hit the music button and the sounds of Aerosmith filled the room. Jim looked down at the face turned up to his, eyes closed, but fluttering, lips slightly parted and the words of the song swirled about him.......
"Don't want to close my eyes, I don't want to fall asleep cause I'd miss you, baby, and I don't want to miss a thing......"
It captured his feelings about Blair Sandburg so completely....especially now, with the young man finally in his bed, lying beside him, his beautiful, lean, compact body molded to his, and the possessive way he held on, even in sleep.
No, Jim didn't want to miss one moment of this gentle sleeping man.
Last night Blair had given Jim the one thing missing from his life - peace. And it was so much now, in the early morning hour, with the sun just begining it's journey up, and the small bits of light that moved into his bedroom, streaking across their bodies.....
Over the years, Blair Sandburg had given Jim Ellison a great deal. He'd given him control over his senses, friendship, laughter and energy, but last night he'd given him the final gift....himself. And with that gift, with the love that spurred the gift, came peace. Total, complete, unshakeable peace. Peace of mind, peace of soul.
How could Jim ever express his gratitude?
Jim let one hand drift up, let his fingers lightly brush a few stray curls off the beloved face and he allowed his fingers to stay, to stroke Blair's rough, beard stubbled cheek, and he ran one brave finger across the man's lower lip, then leaned down and rested his own lips against Blair's, but he kept his eyes open, afraid to close them, afraid of missing a precious moment, so it was with surprise that he noted Mediterranean blues blinking back at him and a hand tightened it's grip on his hip, pulling Jim's body closer and Blair's eyes closed again as the kiss deepened and Jim gave a small groan and the phone rang.
Jim reluctantly pulled away and snagged the phone, as Blair rolled over onto his back, suddenly very still.
"Yes, sir, we're on our way."
He put the phone back and swung his legs over the edge and stood. "Simon. A hostage situation at a day care center. We've got to go."
Blair didn't move, just watched as Jim pulled on his robe and started downstairs. Blair waited until he knew Jim was in the bathroom, then got up, grabbed his clothes from the floor and walked downstairs.
He'd known how the morning would be, that last night had been for Jim, that he'd given the man what he'd needed, but that it wouldn't be forever, let alone for today. He'd known it and done it anyway. His choice. His love. But in the morning light, his prison. A prison of his own making, but still a prison.
He rummaged in his drawer, pulled out a clean pair of underwear, grabbed another pair of jeans and a shirt and sat down on his bed to wait his turn in the bathroom.
Jim shut off the shower and wondered why he'd run....one minute he'd been deep inside Blair's mouth and the next he'd been answering the phone as if nothing had happened between them. He toweled himself off, slipped into his boxers, ran the hot water in the sink and started to brush his teeth. As he did, he looked into the mirror and faced the man and asked why? Why had he just gone downstairs, leaving Blair spread on his bed.....his mind went back and he saw Blair's face, watching him, and Jim's eyes widened, because Blair hadn't been surprised.
Blair hadn't even batted an eyelash. As if he'd known what Jim would do....as if he wouldn't know. Blair knew Jim better than anyone.
So why had he run? Fear. Fear that what he would see in Blair's eyes, in the light of day, would dash his hopes for tomorrow.
Jesus, what did Blair have to do? How far did he have to go to prove to James Joseph Ellison that he loved him? Hell, he'd died for him, and more importantly, he'd come back for him. Jim looked hard and deep at the man in the mirror, and the lyrics came again, ".....I could spend my life in this sweet surrender......" and Jim knew he was fighting the surrender, because of fear.
NO. Not this time. Not anytime in the future. He wouldn't miss another minute of Blair Sandburg.
Blair sat contemplating the floor. He really should vacuum in here, but that would likely give Jim a heart attack. He looked around at his prison and wondered. It was a strange way to live, for him. To voluntarily live like this, to give up his adventures, for adventures with Jim. To give up another chance for love, for the love he didn't have from Jim. And of course, there was the whole *guide* thing. Even if he was the only one who thought about it. And no, he couldn't move out. And not even Simon understood.
Blair had seen Jim *nearly* zone hundreds of times. Here at home, at work, in the field, at the store, watching the tube.....so Blair touched. That's all, just ~ touched. And Jim didn't zone. So a guide didn't just leave. A guide stayed. And if the guide loved, well, too bad.
So, this prison. Gilded, wonderful, but confining now, because he and Jim were struggling to find their friendship again, the trust again, and because....Jim didn't love Blair. Hell, Jim didn't even know he needed him. So Blair lived in this small room, lived for small moments. A few months ago, it had been so much easier, but then Alex, Veronica, his mother and the dissertation and now their friendship was wary, with Jim always testing the waters. But there was the Sentinel/Guide bond, if Blair pushed. And Blair pushed.
Oddly enough, now that Blair was a cop himself, he finally understood what drove Jim Ellison. So last night, he'd given the only thing he could - himself. And as he'd held Jim, he'd cried, because he knew the pain that was Jim, that was being a Sentinel who sometimes failed. And he'd cried for himself, for what he could never have again.
Sandburg looked up, "Jim?"
"Bathroom's all yours. Shake a leg."
"Natch. Ready in a minute."
With siren and light they speeded to the address Simon had provided. Neither man spoke, each deep in his own thoughts. Blair sat wedged into the corner, his face turned to the window, eyes sightless to the early morning view of their city. A third of his brain was *prepping* him for the situation ahead, for watching his own back and Jim's, for making sure that Jim didn't zone. Another third was reliving last night, knowing it would never happen again, and the final third of his brain was accepting the fact that if Jim ever needed it again, he would provide.
For Jim, there was a sense of calm, because he knew that as soon as this emergency was over, he and Sandburg would talk, and Jim would say words that needed saying, that needed hearing.
As they turned onto Nutwood Avenue, Jim canceled lights and siren. They slowly approached the half ring of cars and officers forming the barricade that surrounded a small, two-story Victorian house. There was nowhere to park so Jim swung up alongside Simon's car, shut down and flashing their badges, he and Blair crept up to where Simon and Joel Taggert were leaning up against another car.
"Simon, fill us in," Jim whispered.
"The residence belongs to a Constance Bennett. She runs a day care center out of her home. We don't know how many children are in there, maybe three. Miss Bennett has an ex-husand, Aurelio Garza. He's our suspect. We think Lori Conklin, Bennett's assistant is in the house, but not Miss Bennett." Simon motioned over to a SWAT car, and a tall man talking on a two-way. "You know Captain Edwards. He's in charge."
Jim and Blair looked quizzically at each other, then turned their attention back to Simon's words.
"We don't know what he wants. He won't talk."
"From what I can hear, there are at least six children in there, Simon. And he's speaking Spanish. I don't think he knows English."
"What is he saying?"
"I speak Quechua, it has it's roots in Spanish, but I can only catch a few words."
"Shit." Simon moved away and bending low, he joined Captain Edwards.
"Ben, our man doesn't speak English. Spanish only. You got any translators on the scene?"
Edwards gave a cursory glance around, then addressed his Lieutenant, "Mendez or Rollo here?"
"No, sir. But I can have Rollo here in fifteen."
"Do it." Edwards turned away from Simon, clearly dismissing him. Banks reigned in his anger and made his way back to his post.
"He'll have someone here in fifteen," he told the waiting men.
"Not now, Sandburg."
Jim's face suddenly paled, his body tensing. "Simon, we don't have five minutes. He's going ballistic, NOW! SHIT, HE'S GOING TO KILL..."
Blair jumped around the car, grabbed the bullhorn dangling uselessly from Taggert's hand and moved quickly to the sidewalk.
He raised the bullhorn and addressed the house in Spanish. "SENOR GARZA! LISTEN TO ME. I AM DETECTIVE SANDBURG. WE ARE TRYING TO LOCATE YOUR WIFE, BUT WE DON'T KNOW WHERE TO LOOK. WE NEED TO TALK TO MISS CONKLIN. IS SHE THERE, WITH YOU?"
All around him, complete silence. Every man and woman froze in their position the moment Blair began to yell in Spanish.
The front door opened a crack and a pale, freckled face peered out at Sandburg.
Blair took three more steps across the sidewalk and onto the grass. "Lori, do you know where we can find Miss Bennett?"
The young woman nodded nervously, "She's at City Hall, renewing her permit." Blair nodded encouragingly, "How many children, Lori?"
"Is he behind you, right now?"
"Yes-s, the gun is in....my back."
"Senor Garza, we know where your wife is now, I'm going to send for her, would you let the children go?"
"NO! My wife, I want my wife!"
Behind the barricade there was a sudden flurry of movement as Jim shared Blair's conversation with Conklin. Simon, ignoring Edwards, dispatched a car to City Hall for Bennett.
Blair heard the car as it pulled away and addressed Garza again.
"Senor Garza, Aurelio, isn't it? The children are not a part of this, are they? We love our children, si? And we must protect them, mustn't we, Aurelio?"
"You come in, I will let them go. YOU take their place."
"That's a good idea, but I need to know I can trust you, and you must know the same about me. Send out Miss Conklin, with three of the children and I will come in."
"NO! YOU COME - THEY GO!"
Blair moved forward. Conklin was pulled away and Blair slipped inside.
"What the fuck is he doing, Jim?"
"His job, Simon. Garza was about to kill one of the children. If Blair hadn't acted, we'd have one dead child. And in case you missed it, he does speak Spanish."
"I noticed. I assume you're tuned in?"
Jim nodded, "Yes, but I can't understand much."
"Simon, look." Joel had grabbed Bank's arm and was pointing to neighboring roof.
"Shit, Edwards has his snipers in place. This is bad."
All three men looked back at the house, knowing full well that if Sandburg succeeded in gaining the release of the hostages, he'd be expendable. He wasn't a favorite at the station, not since the press conference. This was their worse nightmare.
The house was dark due to the pulled drapes and closed shutters. Garza had Conklin pulled against him, his rifle now leveled on Sandburg's chest.
"Aurelio, I'm here. Let the children go. Your wife will be here soon."
"How do I know she will come?"
"Here's what you do know. They are children, innocent, they are not a part of this. They play ball, jump rope, they laugh and watch cartoons, and they have nightmares, Aurelio. Do you want to be their nightmare? Do you want to squeeze the trigger, watch as a piece of lead tears through soft, tender flesh? As it kills?"
Aurelio Garza was a frightened, angry and confused man, but the words, so softly spoken, penetrated and his head shook as he mouthed, "nononono...." over and over again.
"Aurelio, let them leave. Let Lori take them out, into the morning sun."
"Si." He pushed the girl away from him, but kept the rifle trained on Sandburg.
"Lori, take them and go - quickly."
She looked hesitant, her eyes moving from one man to the other.
"Lori - NOW," Sandburg spoke firmly and she finally moved to the bedroom door, opened it and spoke quietly, "Marsha, take Jeremy's hand and Paul, take Merri." Lori bent and scooped up the smallest child, a three year old little girl who was sobbing. She hustled them out and into the livingroom.
"The baby. I can't carry Miguel."
"Go, Lori. I'll take care of the baby. GO."
She reached the door, unaware that the rifle was now on her. Garza's finger was twitching so Blair started talking......
"Aurelio, tell me about this....about Connie."
Garza's eyes were torn from Lori's vulnerable back to Sandburg's face and the rifle followed his gaze. The front door opened, and Lori and the children stepped out into the sunshine.
"Simon, he's done it. Garza is letting the children go. They're coming out now."
Banks and Taggert moved out, Simon waving Connor and Brown over to join them. The four detectives had the children up in their arms in seconds and had all back on the other side of the barrier. The children were immediately handed off to paramedics, as Lori Conklin was led to a squad car.
The mood of the men and women of the Cascade Police Department shifted visibly. The children were safe and no longer a potential nightmare.
"Simon, there's one more. A baby."
The door shut behind Lori and Sandburg was left alone with an angry ex-husband.
"She left me. She had no right."
Before Blair could answer, a small cry came from the other room.
"Let me get the baby, Aurelio."
He nodded and together they moved into the bedroom where they found the child, who'd pulled himself up by the rails of his crib and was sobbing. Sandburg lifted the boy out and holding him awkwardly, he addressed Garza, "Let someone come to the door, to take this baby."
But Garza wasn't listening. He was looking around the room. Around the *nursery*. It was not a playroom for other peoples children, it was a baby's room. The baby Sandburg now held. Garza stepped closer, peering intently at the child.
"Mine," he said.
"Simon, they're going to vent the house," Joel pointed out. Jim and Simon immediately focused on the roofs and Jim confirmed the weapons.
"They're getting ready to launch!"
Simon ran back to Edwards and yelled, "Edwards! Don't fir....." but he was too late. Both snipers fired and the windows on each side of the house were blown in a forceful, shattering blast.
The first vent ball crashed through the diningroom window, the second into the nursery. The window over the crib shattered, sending chunks of glass toward Sandburg and the baby. Blair droped as he hugged the child to his chest, using his own body as a shield. Garza immediately began firing out the window.
"MY MAN IS IN THERE! WITH - A - BABY!"
Edwards regarded Banks with no emotion, then spoke into his mic, "You gotta bead on him?"
Garza realized that he was shooting needlessly. He looked down at the man, kneeling on the floor, struggling to stand upright, while juggling the baby.
Garza moved to his left, and rested the muzzle on the back of Sandburg's head.
"I'm going to die. So you will die. And my son will die."
Sandburg froze, on his knees, the rifle pressing into the back of his head. He tried to wrap himself around the child, cupping the small head and hunching his shoulders forward and praying Jim was not listening, and that his body would protect the child.
The men and women standing guard held their places, the street completely silent. No birds, no traffic, no sounds of life. The shooting from inside the house had stopped as quickly as it had started.
The police waited.
There was more at work here, more than the hostage situation, more than usual. Trained eyes flicked from the open windows, up to the snipers, perched, guns ready, down to Captain Edwards and Captain Banks, over to Detective Jim Ellison, back to the house.
An argument brewed. Officers were mentally taking sides, and thirty minutes ago, most would have taken Edward's side. Banks might have been a favorite - once. But he'd protected a cheat, a man who'd nearly taken down the department. A man who'd just succeeded in talking a madman into releasing children.
They listened, they waited. And a baby cried.
Heads jerked back to the house. A baby. For many, this was new. A - baby - was - still - in - the - house.
Simon stepped into Edwards' personal space, poking his head forward until they were almost nose to nose.
"TELL - YOUR - MEN - TO - STAND - DOWN."
Edwards didn't even blink. "My man can take him out."
"He doesn't have a clear shot and one of our men is in there, doing his damndest to save a child."
"I know all about Sandburg and he isn't one of *our* men. Wilson can take the man down and I'm in charge here. Back off, *Captain* Banks," then he added, "Wilson, take the shot."
Sandburg heard the click of the rifle, as the trigger began it's movement back....
"No, Aurelio. You don't want to do this. I don't believe you *can* do this. Drop the weapon, for yourself and for this baby."
Pressure against his head lessened. Slowly, he rose, feeling the rifle as it followed him up.
//I can't, Sir. Sandburg is standing too close to the suspect//
"Take the fucking shot, Wilson - NOW!"
Jim could feel the tension as he zoomed in on Banks, Edwards and Wilson. He knew his partner was about to die, one way or another, if he didn't act.
He stood, took careful aim at Wilson's gun and yelled, "SANDBURG! THEY'RE GOING TO TRY AND TAKE HIM. SNIPER OPPOSITE YOU!"
Officers who'd been riveted on the Banks - Edwards battle, now turned to Detective Jim Ellison, who stood, in plain view of the suspect, gun raised to Wilson's location.
This couldn't be happening.
Inside the house, Sandburg began talking quietly.
"He's so small, Aurelio. And look, see how good he is.....all this noise but he's stopped crying, and he must be so frightened. Look how strong he is, how he's gripping my thumb, look, Aurelio, look....."
And slowly, Garza looked. His gaze was captured by wide, chocolate brown eyes, still moist with unshed tears, but blinking curiously at him. He looked at the soft black curls and the small mouth that was currently engaged in *gumming* Sandburg's thumb, tiny fingers convulsing on the large hand.
"He's hungry, Aurelio. Your son is hungry. Put the gun on the floor and together we will walk outside."
Slowly, the gun was dropped to the floor, arms were raised and fingers clasped behind a head.
In English, Blair addressed his Sentinel, "Jim, we're coming out. He's surrendering, it's over."
Jim, arm still raised, yelled, "GARZA IS SURRENDERING, IT'S OVER, THEY'RE COMING OUT NOW!"
Wilson sighed in relief and lowered his gun. The other sniper, Bruce Leeds, had already started to climb down.
The front door slowly opened and Aurelio Garza stepped out, hands behind his head, Blair Sandburg behind him, rifle slung over his shoulder, the baby in his arms.
The media had been kept at bay, cordoned off over a block away, but one enterprising photographer had *escaped* and was in the perfect spot to capture the picture.
Garza went down on his knees as officers rushed forward, read him his rights, cuffed him and led him away.
The car bringing Connie Bennett to the street had arrived just minutes before Garza's surrender, and she rushed forward now, as Sandburg smiled gently and placed the baby in it's mother's arms.
Simon watched as the baby settled in, and as Jim holstered his gun and joined his partner. Then he turned to Edwards, hissed out, "Asshole," and slugged him. As Edwards reeled back into the arms of one of his men, Simon stuck his cigar in his mouth, lit up with a satisfied sigh and walked over to his people.
Children were reunited with their parents, Connie Bennett watched as her ex-husband was driven off and the officers of the Cascade P.D. began the clean up process.
Sandburg sat on the curb as Jim tried to dab at several cuts on his neck and face. Around the two men stood Connor, Taggert and Banks. The paramedics came up and began to inspect several other spots on Sandburg's back where it looked as though glass had imbedded itself.
As officers went about their duties, they somehow managed to swing by the protective ring and to call out things like, "Good job, Sandburg," or "Is he okay?" and "How is he?"
Pariah to hero in one easy lesson.
Wilson walked up to the group and Jim jumped to his feet. Before Wilson could say anything, Jim hastily said, "I was aiming for your....", Stan Wilson held up one hand and interrupted him, "I know. You were aiming for my gun. I figured it out, " he looked down at Sandburg and added, "I figured it *all* out." Then addressing Blair, he said, "I wouldn't have taken the shot. Just wanted you to know that." And he walked away.
"Detective Sandburg, we're going to have to take you in. Some of this glass is pretty deeply imbedded."
Blair, still watching Wilson's retreating back, nodded at the paramedics, too tired and too drained to verbalize.
Jim drove silently through the streets of Cascade, away from the hospital, toward the station. Blair was leaning against the door, eyes closed, arm in a sling. They'd taken out four chunks of glass from his shoulder and back. In his pocket, he had anitbiotics and pain meds. Reports awaited them.
At a red light, Jim looked cautiously over at his partner. It was almost impossible to believe that just a few hours ago Blair had been in his arms. It seemed like an eternity.
Blair stirred, reached over and turned on the radio. And the same song filled the cab.
"....I just wanna stay with you in this moment forever....."
Jim listened again, and as the song ended he pulled the truck over to the curb, still three blocks away from the station. He shut down and turned to his partner.
"Chief, we have to talk."
Blair gazed at him and smiled gently. "If it's about last night, it's okay. I gave what you needed, what I could. No strings attached."
Jim frowned as he studied the man he'd been living with almost four years. Would he ever understand this man?
"And if I need it again?"
Blair shrugged and answered, "Whatever you need, Jim."
For some reason, that answer angered the Sentinel.
"You don't think that might not be beyond the realm of a normal friendship? Or even beyond the bounds of Sentinel and Guide?"
Blair just stared. Then his hand fumbled with the door, finally pushed it open and stumbled out. He started walking away.
Apparently, even prison walls could shrink.
Jim sat stunned. Fuck. How hard was it to just tell Blair how he felt? Why so hard? He opened his door and ran after him.
Sandburg stopped, but didn't turn.
"I didn't say *anything* I meant to.....I'd planned to.....I've wanted to tell you...thinking I had so much time, wanting to tell you how I can't miss another moment of you, of ~ us. And of course, we never know how much time we *don't* have, a lesson I, of all people, should have learned by now....."
Jim's forehead crinkled, but then a huge grin split his face as he noticed the sparkle in Blair's eyes.
"I think that's my line, Sandburg."
"I don't see your name engraved on it."
"Do you see my name on you?"
At the blank stare, he continued, "You don't, do you? But it's there." Jim moved in close, letting his hand slip around Blair's hip to caress the younger man's ass. "It's right here. It says, *Property of James Joseph Ellison*."
Blair could have melted right then and there, the walls of his prison shattering. He could have morphed himself into Jim's chest, but he didn't want to give in just yet.....false imprisonment demanded retribution.
"That is *so* politically incorrect, Ellison," he snarled, his lips twitching.
One eyebrow rose dramatically as Jim did his best *Who me?* impression, then he gently took Blair's hand and brought it around his own hip and held it against his left ass cheek as he murmured, "....and right here," he slid Sandburg's hand up and down, "it says, *Property of Blair Sandburg*."
Blair decided maybe he should give in - now....but.....
"So, you appreciated last night?"
Jim's head was buried in hair as he whispered, "hmmm....."
"You *liked* last night."
"You're *grateful* for last night."
Lips were nibbling Blair's neck....."mph, mmm."
"You want - a repeat of last night."
Jim's head moved slightly, his lips now poised over Blair's as he breathed out, "....all my nights, all my days...."
Nice words. Very nice - but.....
"You want - *me*."
"god, yes....," he whispered, their lips just touching.
Blair's own libido was seriously kicking in now, but there was an old saying which seemed very approriate....."Strike while the iron is hot"....or should that be, "....while the iron is hard"?
"And you're grateful for *everything* I've done?"
"that's emotional blackmail.....," Jim whispered, his control slipping.
Blair ran his tongue over Jim's bottom lip - slowly.
Jim groaned and managed to squeak out, "eternally grateful....."
Blair took Jim's bottom lip and nibbled as his hands squeezed Jim's ass and brought the larger body into his....
Retribution was fine, but there was a time and place.....
Jim's eyes opened and he found himself staring up at his skylight, a light rain washing down the glass. Movement to his right solicited a curious glance down....
Blair. Asleep. By his side.
Jim Ellison smiled.
Words. Blair's livelihood. His downfall. What he wouldn't give to be able to say the beautiful words, to say how important Blair Sandburg was to Jim Ellison. To sing it, write it, paint it, sculpt it.
Mediterranean blues blinked up at him.
"I know, Jim. I know."
Jim Ellison took Blair Sandburg into his arms, and held him. He could do that. Forever.
Surrender wasn't so hard after all.
Aurelio Garza was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, but after testimony from Detective Sandburg, his sentence was reduced to five, with parole possible after three.
Connie Bennett moved to Tacoma, but visited Garza every weekend. And brought his son, Miguel.
Lori Conklin was hired at the Prentiss Day Care Center and later married Officer Wilson.
No mention of Detective Jim Ellison taking matters into his own hands ever appeared on any report.
Captain Benjamin Edwards was given two choices - retire, or be terminated. He refused. Following his termination, he sued the City of Cascade. He lost.
Blair Sandburg and Aurelio Garza exchange letters for the three years Garza was incarcerated.
The photographer, Joe Pilling, became one of the most famous photographers of the twenty-first century, thanks to his Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of Detective Blair Sandburg's exit from the house on Nutwood Avenue. The public is a sucker for happy endings.
For as long as he was granted, Detective Jim Ellison never missed another moment. And he found, with practise, the words.