Title: The Last Time I Saw Sandburg

Author: alyjude

Email: alyjude@webtv.net

Pairing: J/B

Category: First time, drama

Rating: NC17

Date: November 2, 2001

Status: previously appeared in the zine, Jim and Blair Do The World

Series/sequel: no to both 

Disclaimer:  I, alyjude, being of somewhat sound mind and aging body, do hereby disclaim all knowledge and payment of and for Jim Ellison and

Blair Sandburg. They *do* live in my basement, but that's all I'm admitting.

  Warning: None, nada, zip, zero. Except it *is* an alyjude story.


Notes: This appeared in the zine,  *Jim and Blair Do The World*. You can guess that it doesn't take place in Cascade. <G> And it does take place

after TSbyBS.


Summary: Well, it's about the last time Jim saw Blair.


The Last Time I Saw Sandburg

by alyjude



I've had this stupid title running around in my brain for days, thanks to a movie I kept surfing passed a few lonely nights ago.

The Last Time I Saw Paris.

Depressing movie. Depressing title.

Of course, I'm not remembering it quite that way, I've done a word change here and there. Well, okay, *there*.  It's now; The Last Time I Saw Sandburg.

Depressing title. Depressing thought.

Depressing life.


Funny though, thinking back on the last time I *did* see Sandburg, I notice a great many little things that if I'd noticed earlier—fuck—if I'd noticed *that* day, well, it might not have been the last time.

I noticed his hair, naturally. I was still getting used to it and on that last day it was a mess.

The guy managed to go three weeks into the academy with his hair long and then one day—WHAM—he comes home looking like a shorn poodle. If I thought his hair was curly before, well, cut, it's nothing *but* curls.  Short, spiky, fly-away curls.

On that last day those curls were all over the map and he kept running his fingers through them, trying to tame them, but in fact, only making them worse. As I look back now, I can see the pinched look to his face, the raccoon-rimmed eyes, the tight, fake smile, the nervous hands and twitchy limbs. I can see that not once in that whole day did he ever actually look me in the eyes. Not once.

Looking back, I can see the misery, pain and—desperation.

And what about the last time I heard Sandburg?

His voice shook and he spoke slowly, almost as if there were a period after each word. The rich timbre of his voice was absent, his pitch a bit higher than normal. He explained everything with great patience but I know now that he was simply trying to misdirect me. It worked. He knew *exactly* what to say. He knew what my deepest fears were and he played them like a maestro.

How about the last time I touched Sandburg?

He was packing up the Volvo and once the back seat and trunk were full, he turned to me and asked me to explain to Simon. To thank Simon. He told me Connor knew enough now to help me, should I need it, but assured me that I wouldn't and hadn't I proved that since the dissertation fiasco?

He dropped his jacket on the passenger seat and held out his hand. I took it and we shook. His hand, on reflection, was cold and clammy and now I can feel in my memory, the slight tremor. Hindsight. Useless and why? Because—it *was* the last time I saw him.

In the weeks that followed, I walked a tightrope. My senses were going crazy and I didn't need Sandburg to tell me why, I had my memories of him to do that. He'd always maintained that my senses and emotions were tied together and with him gone, my emotions were scattered like ashes caught in a summer breeze and twice as fragile.

I know everyone assumed that once Sandburg exited my life, I'd revert to form, that I'd go back to being the loner, to biting heads off, if and when I spoke at all. But I surprised the hell out of all of them by settling in with Connor as my partner. We worked well together, when we weren't sniping and biting each other's heads off. But Sandburg was wrong, she really couldn't help me with my senses, not that she didn't try. Simon tried, Connor tried, even Joel, who confessed he'd never been fooled for a second, tried. But the suppressed emotions manifested themselves in whacko senses to the point that I nearly cost Connor her life. After that, I turned them down.

Turned everything down to normal.

I was normal. Just plain old Detective James Joseph Ellison.

The Sentinel of the Great City was dead, long live the ordinary detective.

As the weeks crawled by and turned to months, the cadets of Sandburg's class took their places in our ranks and gradually the truth came out. A shamed story was told at a time and place where Joel could overhear; a hushed episode told in the gym, with Rafe one of the witnesses; a taunting, crowing deed told to impress, with Henri Brown one of the listeners.

Gradually and too late, we pieced it together.  The terrorism, the threats, the *accidents*, the taunts of being my whore, of being a *piece of ass* used by me and by MC (the only explanation for our continued acceptance of him after he so obviously betrayed me).

God forbid they should actually come up with the truth.

By the time it all came together, after a drunken four hours at McGinty's Tavern with myself, Connor, Simon, H, Rafe and Taggert, Sandburg had been gone for almost six months and inspite of his promise to "keep in touch", I'd not heard a word.

I remember sitting at the large table in McGinty's, nursing a drink, only Simon left, the others long gone. We cried in our beer or in this case—scotch, and bemoaned our stupidity. We should have known. We should have realized the truth. Blair Sandburg isn't a quitter. And for all intents and purposes, he'd been a cop in all but badge, for three years.

And of course, Blair Sandburg wouldn't leave unless he thought he were doing the best thing for everyone. For Simon, who'd put his career on the line to get *the powers that be* to allow Sandburg in the academy; for the team of detectives that make up Major Crime, whose very fabric of teamwork was being ripped apart by rumors; and of course, for yours truly, James Joseph Ellison.

Rumors in a closed society like a police department can get a man or woman killed. We have codes and unwritten rules. And Blair Sandburg, anthropologist and Ph.d *in all but dissertation*, knew every single one of them. He knew them better than I, better than Simon, better than any of us. If it had been only about him, he'd have stuck it out. But it wasn't so as he crawled closer to his goal, they threw more obstacles in his way. They got rougher. They whispered louder. They threatened deeper, darker threats and Blair Sandburg was no fool. The writing was on the wall. He could risk himself, but not us, not - me. He didn't give up one life, only to see the reason for the sacrifice destroyed.

So with glib words about principle, about being true to himself, about finding out who he really was, finding a new path, a path that didn't involve the possibility of killing another human being, he packed. He was embarrassed, he said. He was letting everyone down, he said. He was letting me down, he said. But a man has to be true to himself, doesn't he, he asked.

On that final night, I stood in the doorway watching as favorite shirts were folded and packed, as jeans and Dockers were added, as flannel shirts took their place in the suitcase and I nodded and said, "Yes, I understand, of course, Chief, of course I understand."

As books were packed and boxes marked, I assured him that Simon would understand.

As the shelves that held the books were wiped down, I swore that of course we'd always be friends, that nothing could change that.  As the desk was cleared and pencils and pens were rubberbanded together, then offered to me only to be tossed when I shook my head, I smiled and agreed that something right was out there just waiting for him.

As his laptop was zippered into its case and set down next to the suitcase, I told him he was making the right decision, that his happiness was all that mattered.  As the Peruvian blanket that he used as a bedspread was neatly folded and offered to me, and as I took it in gratitude, I nodded and agreed that only when a man is true to his nature, to his dreams, can he be happy.

As I helped him pack up the many collected artifacts, as we labeled boxes for Professor Cummings at Trent University, and boxes of research material for a Professor A. Watkins at Princeton and still another box of larger artifacts destined for Professor Eli Stoddard, currently working out of Cornell University, I smiled as he promised to call when he settled - wherever he settled.

As we carried the boxes downstairs for UPS pick-up we agreed that we would email each other, that we'd talk weekly by phone, that he'd keep me up to speed and I'd do the same for him.

While we sat on the floor in front of the stereo and separated the CD's, we joked and yelled things like, "That is too mine!" or "You bought that for me!" We laughed about memories, we talked about each CD and when Blair was ready to tape up the small box of his discs, we were both surprised because as we'd talked and joked, most of his had ended up back in the stereo storage center. Gifts to me.

When he brought one more box into the living room, the last box, he stood a moment and gazed around him while I pretended to be busy.  Pretended not to notice how his eyes lingered.

"Jim, is there anything you want?" he'd asked, his voice light.

Yes, I remember thinking, there was something I wanted. But what I said was, "Uh, no, not really. Although," I said, one finger tracing over a few of the items on the book shelf, "I wouldn't mind....", he didn't let me finish, just smiled and said, "They're yours."

By midnight his room and the loft were bare. And barren. He collapsed on his futon, which he was leaving with me, "Just in case you miss me so much, you have to have another roomie!" while I trudged upstairs, fell onto my bed, fully clothed and spent the rest of the dark, hollow hours not sleeping.

The next morning was the last time I saw Blair Sandburg.

I let go of his hand and he got into the Volvo, waved and was - gone.

I watched as the car chugged up the hill, watched the turn indicator come on, watched the turn that took him from my sight.

After our discoveries, I tried calling Naomi, tried to find him. She was frantic herself, having no clue as to his whereabouts and I knew without sentinel senses that she was telling the truth.  I hired a private detective and she tracked Blair as far as Nevada, but no further. No more credit card receipts. No more Volvo.

I slept little, ate less. My dreams were nightmares and always the same.  A wolf, lost and alone, growing weaker and weaker until its frozen body was discovered after a winter thaw.

I thought of going to Nevada myself. Searching myself. But how can one lost man find another?

Six months after Blair Sandburg drove out of my life, I began seeing my animal spirit. Always in the same place. The jungle. The Peruvian jungle. I saw the jaguar pacing around the Chopec village.

I needed to go to Peru. I needed to find myself so that I might find Blair. I was so tired of seeing him on every corner, in every old, green car. I had faith, and to steal a line from an Elton John song, I still believed in us. I believed that once I found myself, I'd find him, that it would *just* happen. Out of the Blue. I was certain that once I had him back, once I divulged my secrets, told him that I loved him as much as he loved me, the world would be right once again.

Foolish, naive, simple. But I believed. Blair had believed for so long, how could I do less? How could I believe less?

I'd had the brass ring and I let it slip through my fingers.


  Simon was almost enthusiastic when I gave him the paperwork requesting a leave. He signed it so fast I'd have figured him for some super alien being. His eyes told me he was tempted to go with me. My eyes must have told him that this was a one man search and find mission.

Cases were turned over to other detectives, Connor was teamed with Joel and I was given a royal send off. None of them ever expected to see me again. None of them figured I'd find what I was looking for in Peru or anywhere else. But then, they didn't believe.

Six months and three days after the last time I saw Sandburg, Simon drove me to the airport.

I was on my way to Peru. To a people who could help me find Jim Ellison, the Sentinel of the Great City. And consequently, Blair Sandburg, Shaman of the Great City.

As I sit here on the plane, waiting our turn to take off, I stare out the window knowing that Simon is still there, still watching. And he'll continue to watch until we're nothing more than a speck in the sky. He thinks he's seeing me for the last time. He thinks he's losing his best friend. Another *best* friend.

We talked a bit on our way to the airport but no drunken mutterings this time, just plain old-fashioned talk. Honest, brief, but saying everything in the typical shorthand of two macho, posturing men.

Simon confessed his affection for Sandburg. Almost a son, he said. Then he corrected himself. *A* son.

His regrets number almost as many as mine.

As my flight was called, I turned to Simon and just like Blair and I had done all those months ago, we shook. I looked into his eyes and the regrets, the pain, shook me to my core.

He doesn't believe. Doesn't have faith.




I should sleep. Long flight, followed by a series of even more flights.  I have a two hour layover in Dallas/Ft. Worth, then onto Mexico City, another layover, then Lima and finally Iquitos. But the closer my destination, the more restless I become, as if trying to find myself is useless.

As if I'm wasting my time.


  It's almost five-thirty when I finally step into the airport at Iquitos.  Normally I would have taken a few minutes to prepare myself for the onslaught, but of course, now, that isn't necessary.

I move slowly through the crowds gathered around the gate, ignoring the names being eagerly yelled out as family and friends recognize their loved ones. Everything is so fucking normal.


All the sounds fade, the smells evaporate and all I can hear is—music.

I stop in the middle of the crowd, bodies moving past me, some shoving none too politely, others just brushing me—

Words, faint but there, now join the whisper of melody.

*--a crowded street--*

I recognize the song and can't believe I'm hearing it here, of all places. Elton John in Iquitos?

I stand swaying, eyes closed, disbelieving.

I realize I must move again, so I do and the crowd parts a bit and I use that opportunity to search for the music.

I find it.

*Someday out of the blue*, aren't those the words of the song?

The air around me crystallizes. I can hear every word of that damn song, feel every strand of the shoulder strap attached to my luggage as it digs into my shoulder, smell the sizzling meat from the cart several hundred feet away. And I can smell the mouthwash he used earlier in the day.

He's sitting on the floor of the airport, in a corner tucked away from the hustle and bustle, legs crossed, a large notebook open on his lap.  His head is bent as a pencil flies across a page that is half-filled with a scrawl I know only too well. His hair all but obscures his features and I marvel at it. He's let it grow again and I'm happy about that. On his head, the earphones, the portable cd player itself hooked to his shirt pocket.

There are no other sounds for me. Just the music, his breathing, the scratching of the pencil on paper.

There is no other sight for me. Just the man, the jeans, old and washed too many times, the gaudy jungle print shirt, unbuttoned, revealing a sleevless white undershirt and his feet, encased in worn sandals. He's wearing his earrings again and around his wrist, a leather native band twisted at least three times.

I turn slightly and start to walk toward him carefully but he doesn't feel my approach and I manage to come within a couple of feet. My body casts a half shadow over him and his eyes come up from the page—rest on my shoes, then travel up.

I don't know what I expect to happen when those surprised, glittering blues meet mine, but I have faith. In us.

He pulls the earphones off, drops the pencil, zips up the notebook, the same notebook that once held an introductory chapter of his dissertation and slowly stands.


The one word is not a question, it's a statement. There is no inflection, no surprise. His eyes, which met mine ever so briefly, are now gazing anywhere but at me.


"So," he says, shuffling his feet a bit, his eyes now fastened on the middle button of my blue denim shirt.

"What are you doing in Peru, Chief?" I haven't said that word in months and it feels good.

Feels right.

Chief. My Chief.

"Oh, uh," he pauses, then adds, "field work, yeah, field work."

I had no idea that middle button of mine was so interesting and I have this ridiculous urge to pluck it from my shirt and hand it to him.  Instead, I find my gaze traveling around us, looking for the rest of the expedition. For more scientists.

"Where is everyone?"

He fidgets some more, his eyes dropping to the floor. "The rest of the crew? No crew, just - me."

Of course. No expedition. Just him. In Peru. That's when I notice the necklace against the whiteness of the undershirt. I reach out and finger it lightly.

"Chopec. You've been with the Chopec."

He doesn't answer and I really *look* at him.  He's as brown as a nut and thinner than I've ever seen him. There's a sense of the laborer about him thanks to  the new muscles, calloused hands, and the many small scratches on his arms. His eyes have dark smudges beneath them and I sense that eating regularly and sleeping soundly are joys of the past. But what really bothers me is the stillness. Even with the fidgeting, I sense this—non-movement. No hands punctuating his feelings, his words, no vague motions, just this—inertia.

An internal and external quietness. The scariest kind when dealing with Blair Sandburg.

I've had friends for six months. People to talk with, to console me, to listen to me, to commiserate with me. It was never enough, of course, but it was, I realize now, a hell of a lot more than Blair Sandburg had.  For six months, he's had only one person; himself.

He's carried this burden on shoulders that I see now have reached their limit and as he tries not to look at me, I can see no hope in his eyes.  He hasn't a clue. This is just one of those quirky Sandburg moments that his life seems to be filled with and he has no expectations about this weird meeting.

I'm seeing the Blair Sandburg *BJE*. *Before James Ellison*. I'm seeing the Blair Sandburg that followed his mother around the world, that watched man after man enter his mother's life and exit his. I'm seeing the Blair Sandburg that, up until meeting me, had lived his life *alone*.

An entity unto himself.

I'm not prepared to say it. Hadn't planned it. But the words come.

"I love you."

He's looking at me now. Oh, yeah.

He's blinking. I think I should say it again.

"I love you, Chief."

Did I expect that to fix everything? Did I expect his eyes to clear? Did I expect him to smile? To nod? To repeat the words back to me? Hell if I know.

"Why are you here, Jim?"

I sure as hell *didn't* expect that.

"I—needed to be. Don't know why. Just had to be here. Took a leave, caught a plane and here I am."

"So, you're just arriving?"

I nod and I know I'm grinning like a fool. Because now I do know why I'm here.

"I'm just leaving."

Ice dumped down my back. At least that's what his words feel like.


"Naomi is ill."

"I'm sorry, Blair." I want to say more, but a sense of urgency envelopes me. I can see his airline ticket sticking out of his pocket so I reach out, take it, read it then put it back. He's watching, surprised. I glance down, see his trusty backpack and pick it up. I pluck at his shirt and pull him with me.

Amazingly enough, he follows.

I walk to the airline counter, drop my return ticket onto the surface and ask to exchange it for a seat on Flight 62 to Miami, Florida, USA.  There's discussion, loads of tisking on the part of the clerk, I grab Sandburg's ticket again, show it to the clerk, seat changes are made, then the exchange of my credit card and through it all I'm aware that my fingers are still wrapped around the edge of Blair's shirt and that he isn't moving. Hell, he's barely breathing.

It seems to take hours, but eventually, I have my ticket and the seat beside Sandburg.

I look feverishly around me, spot the little alcove that represents food and haul Blair toward it.

We have almost three hours until our flight.


  The alcove is a small cafe, a few scattered tables and good, Peruvian food. I order for us, including a couple of beers. I'm still holding onto him, via his shirt and after paying at the counter, I tug him to one of the few empty tables in the corner, drop his backpack, my bag and almost push him down onto the chair.

For a minute or two, I can only stare at him. I've scared him. I can see it in his eyes, in the sudden grey tinge around his lips.

"What's wrong with Naomi?"

He relaxes a bit and shrugs helplessly. "She was pretty vague in the wire and by the time I got to a phone, she was almost incoherent. She's scheduled for some tests today and she's afraid. Naomi is never afraid."

Ah. Naomi is afraid, therefore, Sandburg is afraid.

"She'll be okay, Chief."

He nods and glances up as the man from behind the counter sets our food and beers on the table. It's a kind gesture.

It's amazing to me that we're sitting in this airport, eating, swilling beers and I've said that I love him. We aren't talking about it. We're talking about the food. The food. I finally put down my fork, swallow a huge amount of beer and say, "I said I love you."

His fork pauses in mid-air, then continues to his mouth. He slips it in, takes the food, chews, swallows. My eyes seem to have no place else to go. They watch in fascination as his jaw moves, as his tongue comes out and absently licks his bottom lip.  They watch his throat as the food goes down, fasten on his adam's apple—

Something brightly colored gets in the way. His napkin, brushed across his mouth.

"What do you want me to say, Jim?"

I'm reminded once again, by the complete lack of emotion in his voice, that he's been alone for a long time, his thoughts his only company. He still doesn't believe—this.

I know this man. I know that he's talked himself out of any possible happy ending. I know that never once did he believe anything like our running into each other, let alone a confession of love from me, could happen. So, I have to convince him. Now. Somehow. With words. Time to start talking.

"I don't expect you to say anything, Chief. Not even that you love me back. I know you do. I don't expect my saying it to you will make everything better. I know why you left, I understand. I just wish that you'd have remembered that we're a team and that together, well, you know the old saying—" I leave it at that, then wait.

During my little speech his eyes just kept getting bigger and bigger. He hasn't yet blinked. He's still staring at me.

There goes his jaw.

And now he's blinking. And swallowing a lump the size of Texas.

"I, I—" Is all he can say.

Mr. Smooth.

Time for the great orator, James Ellison, to step back up to the plate for the home run.

"Did you think once your classmates graduated and started working, that the truth of what you went through wouldn't come out? That a bunch of detectives wouldn't finally figure it out? Put the pieces together?  Granted, we took longer than we should have, but you made it so damn easy. You were so damn convincing, so damn good."

I sit back and rest my arm over the back of the chair next to me and wait.

He's processing. I can tell. But this time, it's not easy. He has a whole lot of Sandburg crap to get through. I'm patient - now that I've found him. Now that I've found *us*.

I can almost hear the *Ka-ching* when he finishes.

"I, I—"

I have successfully tongue-tied the great Blair Sandburg. Time to take charge, for however long that lasts. Knowing Sandburg - not long.

"Look, we'll go to Miami, take care of Naomi, then make the necessary decisions. Nothing says we have to go back to Cascade. We have other choices, Chief."

That did it. That did him in. Every defense, every argument he'd been planning, every wall he'd put up in the last six plus months - gone. His backbone turned to mush, his resolutions went flying. He reaches for his beer and I can't help but notice that his hand is shaking. I sit up, lean over and take it. Just like that. He's not alone anymore. He'll never be alone again.

He stares at my hand closing over his. Then, thank god, he looks at me.  Then back down at our hands, at one slightly larger, Pacific Northwest pale, covering the trembling, brown one.

I do believe he's finally *getting* it. Believing it. Now if I can just get him to trust it.

We've used up most of our three hours and our flight's been called. We still have to deal with Naomi but hell, you can never say it enough, so I say it again. With a slight twist.

"I love you, Blair.

Our eyes lock and it's there, swimming beneath the dark shadows of the last six months. He believes and just maybe - he trusts.

"I, I—"

That's enough for now.

Blair is in shock which makes it much easier to manuever him onto the plane. Hell, I can't believe *I'm* getting on another plane, let alone one headed for Miami. I give him the window seat and it's funny because now he doesn't take his eyes off me. He watches my every move including my leaning into him and fastening his seatbelt.

Oh, yeah, it's sinking in. But now there's a new fear. I bet I can guess what it is. Same as mine.

That he'll wake up.

When he does, we'll be in Miami and I'll still be here.




Once we take off, I place my hand over his again and watch happily as his fingers slide between mine. After the plane reaches cruising altitude and the warning signs blink off, the airborne waitresess' start passing out the drinks and Blair and I do some much needed talking, our heads close together, speaking softly, sharing the last six months of our lives.

Just before his head starts to droop, I ask him why the Chopec. His answer stops my breathing.

"To be closer to you."




I'm watching him sleep and I'm seeing a Blair Sandburg I've never seen before, not even in the most trying of his times with me. He's suddenly so young and so damn vulnerable.

He's always been so in control, so in charge, even when he didn't have a clue as to what he was doing. But now, I see the facade of that control.

We're so much alike, it's almost spooky.




I received another shock when we landed. I fully expected to finally exit an airport, *not* head over to another airline ticket counter, namely Bahamasair.

"Uh, Sandburg?"

"Mom is in the Bahamas, Jim. On Andros Island. You have two more flights to suffer through."

I do some quick math. Six flights. Six planes. Shit.

An hour later I'm boarding another plane and two hours after that, the last plane and it's on the last leg of this unexpected journey that I learn Naomi is staying with friends on Andros and that she's been here almost since leaving Cascade all those months ago.




I've been all over the world, but somehow, I've missed these Caribbean islands. I'm in no way prepared.

I step onto the tarmac and it hits me. Warm, sensuous and fragrant. The Bahamas. Like no warmth I've ever experienced.

I try to divide out the different scents, try to separate the fresh, sparkling sea perfume from the many and varied floral essences that surround us. I'm a Sentinel again. Have been since Iquitos, but at this moment, I'm truly reveling in it.

The joy temporarily ends as we step into the small building that represents the airport and Blair heads straight for the phone. I stand next to him, so close I can feel the heat from his body. This is how I want to stand forever. Just this close.

"Mom? Yeah, I'm here on Andros. What happened?"

He's listening now, nodding, then his face lights up like the Fourth of July.

"Mom! That's great. You're sure? Everything was negative?"

The inertia is completely gone. Long live the mobile Blair Sandburg.  He's actually bouncing on the balls of his feet. His left hand slips from mine and starts waving about as he nods in response to his mother's continued words. It's a brief moment, but I relish it because right now, Blair has it all and I can see it in his face.

Damn, at this moment, so do I.

I can hear Naomi telling him that her friend, Pat, is sending a car for him and it should be here in fifteen minutes or less. She tells him that she loves him and that's when he tells her about me. I should have plugged my ears. I can hear her shriek and I expect the few others in the building can as well.

I don't know how much she knows, but she is clearly happy about this turn of events. Hey, so am I. Deliriously happy.




Our first few hours on Andros are spent with Naomi and it's clear that she has had a scare. Apparently she discovered a lump in her throat a few weeks earlier and after much deliberation, decided to allow a local physician to do a biopsy in his office. The doctor was fairly certain that aspirating it would work and he was right. She's sitting next to her son now, a small bandage gracing her throat, the pallor of her skin a dead give-away to her earlier fears.

But the mood is light now as we laugh, talk and somehow start on the road to healing.




Andros Island is the largest island of the Bahamas and where we're staying is one of the most beautiful sections. Pat and Carl Smithers, Naomi's friends, own one of the many tourist villages that have, according to Carl, so recently popped up all over the Bahamas. In this case, Carl made sure that each home blended with the scenery, each its own bit of paradise, nestled among the palm trees, each one with a spectacular view of the Carribean Sea.

Originally, Blair would have been staying with his mother, but once it became known that I was with him, Naomi's friends arranged us to have one of the more secluded villas. I'm standing in the small living room now, gazing about me, in a kind of a stupor. The decor has all the colors of this island, but muted, not garish as so often is the case. I feel comfortable and soothed by the cool tile underfoot and the simple ease of this villa.

Our luggage has been taken into the single bedroom. I'd have to say that Naomi has definitely figured out more than just that Blair and I are partners once again. As I come to this conclusion, I find myself smiling broadly.


Blair has been at the window since our arrival and he's excitedly waving me over. The sun is setting and Blair is bathed in the bright glow of the fire in the sky and I can't move. He has no idea that the sunset is reflected in him and that I have no need to see the one happening outside. He's still motioning to me and I can finally move, finally come up behind him.

Wrapping my arms around him feels so good, so right. When he leans back, resting his body against mine, it feels even better.

"Isn't this spectacular, Jim?"

I close my eyes and bury my face in his hair and can only murmur, "yes."

Somehow the sunset takes a back seat as the need to connect with this man comes front and center. I turn him around, find that mouth and we're sharing out first kiss. In the Bahamas.

I'd like to say it was earth shattering, that the world tilted. Actually the world did tilt, thanks to exhaustion, but mostly the kiss was clumsy and needy, full of small moans and bodies trying to find the right position, the right *fit*. Finally Blair laughingly pulled away.

"Hey, we're both tired, and we're not sure where we are and I could use a hot shower. You?"

Very romantic. Very.

Happily I nod and add a caveat, "But we shower together."

Hey, we're both environmentally aware.


  I'm not prepared for either the shower nor the bathroom.

The room is designed as if it were outdoors, large and airy. The floor is white tile, the shower like a huge terrarium, only the plants are on the outside. We take one look at the shower, then each other and the clothes come off faster than I thought either of us could move.

Blair beats me and has the shower door open and the water on as I finally get my shorts off, but eventually I *am* pushing him in, he's laughing and neither one of us is the least bit self-conscious that we're naked and about to take our first shower together. Go figure.

The water is perfect, the man in front of me is perfect. We soap and rinse, taking our time, enjoying our first touch of the other's body. I knew he was thin, but the wiry strength I'm faced with now really surprises me. And he's tan everywhere. Which tells me that while with the Chopec, he was *with* the Chopec.

Embracing their ceremonies, their dress, their way of life.

I want to hold him, hold him close and not let go so I do it. I pull him into my chest, hold him tight and whisper, "just stay, don't move."

He stays and once he brings his own arms up and around my waist - he doesn't move. We remain like that for what seems an eternity, but it doesn't escape me that we're both hard. Very hard. Achingly hard. I make another decision.

I slide down his body, he starts to say something but I shake my head and in a moment, I'm on my knees in front of him. I don't waste any time, I take him into my mouth, my hands holding him in place, anchored to his hips.

The water is pounding down, steam swirling around us but all I can taste is him, every nuance of all that is Blair Sandburg. The flavor bursts in my mouth and I remember the first meal I truly enjoyed after my senses kicked in and I'd met this *know-it-all*. I remember tasting every single spice and herb the chef had used, and this is how I taste him now. All the flavors of him mix and mingle in my mouth, and I'm in Sentinel heaven.

But then, all I can *feel* is him. And once again, I'm taken back, taken to that first moment of truly *feeling* every fiber in a piece of cloth, wondering at the miracle of it. His penis has so many textures and my tongue has to explore them all, identify them all. *Feel* them all.

His moans attack me through his cock and my lips tingle with sound of him. I grip his hips even harder, my fingers cataloging the feel of his skin, wet and slippery, soft and hard, my thumbs making small circles against his hip bone, feeling ridges, dips and swells that only I can distinguish.

He's close and just as I'm about to lose myself in his orgasm as only a sentinel could do, he uses that new steel strength and pulls me up. I groan my despair, but when one tan leg wraps around me and I'm urged to lift, our cocks hit and bump and every nerve ending I possess reacts as the sensation is sent throughout my body and I think even the roots of my hair must feel it.

I move us back, holding him up, and we come almost together, both of us yelling our completion.

I'm not surprised that it is my name he yells.

Nothing has ever sounded this good.




Cool sheets, lightly drawn curtains, his body curled into mine - we sleep.

I have no need for white noise generators or sleeping masks.




We're in Paradise. Literally and figuratively.

The next morning neither of us is eager to leave the bed. The sentinel in me says I must know this man, in every way and from the look in his eyes as we awaken and he finds me, he agrees, wholeheartedly. Hence, our first full day on Andros is spent in bed, in each other's bodies.

The villa has a fully stocked kitchen and we take advantage of it. We eat in bed, we nap, we talk, and we make love. I can't get enough of him. We've always touched but now, some part of me must be in contact with him. A knee, a hand, my dick, my tongue, something, anything, always.

And damn, I haven't stopped grinning.

For Blair, it's more—needy. His fingers reach for me even in sleep, his eyes search for me the moment he awakens. And always, there is fear hiding behind the need. I see this and promise myself that nothing will ever separate us again, that he'll never lose me again, that I can make this fear go away.

We do take some time out from our love making to make one call - to Simon.

The call is wild, strange, full of Simon yelling, of Blair listening quietly to Simon's suddenly hushed words and I watch as Blair's head lowers, as his breathing hitches, as his hand grips the phone so tightly that his fingers go from brown to grey. He turns from me, giving me his back as he nods and says, "um, huh," and "yes, Simon, I know that now, Simon."

I place my hand on his shoulder and squeeze because I can hear Simon. I can hear that he's told his detectives, *all* of them, the truth. I listen as he tells Sandburg that he has a desk and a badge waiting for him if he chooses to come back. I move in closer, head tilted toward the receiver and listen as he further tells Sandburg that he and I will have the full support of Major Crime *if* we should choose to come back.

I drop my arm across his back and grip his right arm as Simon tells Blair how much he means to him. I feel the tremor move its way through Blair's body as he whispers, "thanks, simon."

In typical Simon fashion, he's decided for us, because the last thing he says is, "I'll see you both in two weeks, not one day longer."




We spend Simon's *two weeks* seeing the islands, fishing, snorkling, swimming, and of course making love. And we set no limits on where. He's insatiable and doesn't much care if we're someplace private or not and I find that I enjoy being pulled into corners and groped.

I love Nassau and get a kick out of watching him barter for stuff to take back to Cascade. The first time he does it, it's for a ridiculous hat for Megan, which is how I find out that we *are* going back to Cascade.

We visit all the requisite landmarks, the fort, and Parliment Square among them. We walk the white sand beaches, swim in the warm, tropical sea, I eat my first conch fritter and fall in love with food all over again.

As we near the end of what has become our vacation, Blair hears about the underwater caves called Blue Holes and he figures we've enough experience to handle them, so the next thing I know, I'm being dragged down to Carl's Bayliner, scuba gear in tow along with food, care of Naomi. With the maps provided by Carl, we're off for a day of Blue Hole diving.

I thought that bringing Blair back from the dead was pretty damn spiritual. Hell, making love to the man is pretty damn spiritual, but diving in these ethereal waters, buried deep under the sea is unbelievable. As we come up in one the larger caves, where the water doesn't quite meet the ceiling of the rock formation, I lift up my mask and gaze around me, in awe of the beauty of my surroundings.

Blair is behind me and his words about the mystical creature called the Lusca seem to echo in the chamber. Apparently the Bahamians believe in the this mythical being that grabs the legs of unsuspecting divers and pulls them to their deaths.

As I'm almost floating, my legs barely moving beneath the calm water, I sense something but before I can react, the *something* has me and I'm going down.

With strength and determination, Blair has me in his arms. Underwater, his lips latch onto mine, and I pray he feels like passing me some air because I'm all out. Damn him, he had me fooled!

The little shit. I can *feel* his smile through the kiss and his underwater laughter as it travels from his mouth to mine.

Lusca my ass. If the people of the Bahamas only knew.


  We make love tonight, our last night in this island dream. We're in the wide bed, drapes open, the moonlight pouring in, the sound of the waves echoing our movements.

I feel as if we are still under water, weightless, and as I move inside of him, going deeper than ever before, as my sweat drops onto his rigid back and he hisses out my name, I become the Lusca, taking him down with me, and the death is life and the life is endless.


  There are only a few hours before we must get up and head to the airport for the four flights that will take us home, take us back to reality. As I lie in Blair's arms, he's moving his fingers through my damp hair and I can feel his breath as it caresses my temple. The leg that anchors me to his body is trembling slightly.

At some point, some of the fear made a return engagement and lingers behind the smoky depths of his eyes.

I don't know what I can say to him to take that fear away, so I say the only thing that can take my fear away.

"I love you, Blair."

His fingers still and his head shifts slightly, bringing his lips closer to my ear.

"I love you too, Jim."

The trembling in his leg stops.

It's enough.

~The End~