Title: You're Already Gone

Author/pseudonym: alyjude

Email: alyjude@webtv.net, or alyjude2001@yahoo.com

Pairing: J/B

Rating: PG

Category: First time, episode related

Status: Previously appeared in the zine, Senses of Wonder, which has timed out.

Date:      January 2, 2003

Disclaimer: Torture me and I still won't disclaim Jim and Blair. But neither will I make any money from them. A-l-t-h-o-u-g-h --- if I win the lottery...

Notes: As mentioned, this first appeared in the zine, Senses of Wonder. Thank you to the TSL crew and editors of the zine for their wonderful beta. I think I still went dash crazy---

Each segment of this story is set apart by lyrics from Matchbox 20's song, "If You're Gone".

This story takes place not long after Murder 101.

Warnings: It's an alyjude monster, beware.

Summary: Jim thinks Blair is gone and he wants to get him back before he leaves.


You’re Already Gone

by alyjude


I think I’ve already

lost you - I think

you’re already gone -

Matchbox 20




I should move.

It’s too quiet.

Too quiet? Now there’s something I thought I’d never say. Can it ever be ‘too quiet’ when you’re a sentinel? I don’t think there is any such thing as silence, let alone ‘too quiet’. Even when tuned out, I’m subconsciously aware of every noise. I catalogue every sound, store them, use them, or discard them. But there is always sound.

Tonight there’s the very loud sound of silence.  Evidently I still haven’t learned that a man who can hear a thousand miles away, must listen to his own heart. Shouldn’t I have learned by now that I need to listen?

I need to hear even when Blair isn’t talking.

He’s disturbed, unsettled, and we haven’t touched each other in days. We haven’t really approached each other or had a conversation that wasn’t forced, even when joking. I tried to reach out today, to touch him. I tried to touch his arm and thus his heart. Or his soul. But I only tried once. I knew instantly that it had been the wrong move so I gave it up and just let my arm drop to my side.

Now, late at night, sounds surround me. There’s the gentle faraway noises of my city, and the more immediate noise of my building. I can hear the plumbing, the various creaks and moans of brick, mortar, wood, glass and metal, and I can hear the more intimate sounds of my partner.

I can hear his breathing, his restless limbs, and the occasional mumbled nonsense that often dogs his sleep when he’s troubled. If I really focus, I can hear his blood flowing and sustaining life, his skin sliding against flannel sheets and his beard stubble as it catches on the pillow case. I can hear his hair as it brushes his skin and as it’s blown gently from his face by his breath. Hell, I can even hear his fingers tightening on the sheet.

For all of these sounds, I’m surrounded by silence.

Maybe that’s the real definition of alone?

I’m alone in my home because of the silence between us, a silence that stretches back over the weeks since Sierra Verde and the days before his death. This silence stretches back over the months since reading the introductory chapter of his dissertation.

Another more dangerous silence stretches back over the years we’ve been friends and partners. The silence that comes with words never said or explained, thoughts never expressed completely, unfounded beliefs allowed to continue, and actions misconstrued. Not that this partnership hasn’t seen the love of brothers unrelated by blood, or the union, agreement and connection of said brothers, because it has. Hasn’t it?

Isn’t it true that all couples, friends, family and siblings fight? They have misunderstandings, right?  Right. Hell, Carolyn and I lived one great big misunderstanding. Neither of us ever talked or listened. More importantly, neither of us really saw the other. I think Blair and I see each other, but we don’t always seem to listen at the same time.

What went wrong with us? Did my anger take me out of the game? Are there issues I’m not seeing or hearing? Or maybe ignoring?

Damn, I can’t sit here any longer.

Standing, I glance behind me and think maybe I could wake him—but I choose the balcony instead.

In opening the windows, the sounds of my city are immediate. I suspect that if I could actually enter the human body and race through the bloodstream, it would feel as my city sounds now; the speed, the thrumming sound of life, the twists and turns....

I don’t try to separate out the noise, instead choosing to let it slide over me as a single note. The air is cool, but I’m comfortable. Leaning on the rail, I gaze out over my city and manage to see nothing.

No, not nothing. I’m seeing the past. Snippets and snapshots zip past my eyes and I see the past as it happened, not as I imagined it. I can’t help but feel that this is an accomplishment.

I can see Blair’s face, really see it that fateful day when he walked into his home only to find his belongings strewn all over the floor, or piled haphazardly into boxes. I can see what I refused to acknowledge at the time; I can see the hurt, the incredible, serrated knife wound of deep hurt. An injury, that on that night, I couldn’t begin to understand.

I realize now that when I packed up his stuff, when I said the words telling him to have it all gone by the time I’d returned, that I had betrayed him.

Betrayal. A word I have used against him in both thought and deed. I accused him of betraying my trust with his dissertation, and later with Alex.

I looked the word up in Webster’s Dictionary earlier today.

Betray: 1. To be false or disloyal to: betrayed their cause; betray one’s better nature. 2. To divulge in a breach of confidence.

I read the words and was forced to ask myself; has Blair Sandburg ever been false with me? Disloyal? Has he ever betrayed our cause deliberately? The answer was simple: No.

Did he act naively? Most assuredly. But the real crime in my eyes was that he appeared t put someone ahead of me. Some*thing* ahead of me. But did he really? Has he ever actually put anything or anyone ahead of me in three years?

Resting my elbows on the railing, I drop my head into my hands because the answer is the same now as it was earlier today.

He hasn’t. He talks a good game, but when it comes down to action or words, Blair Sandburg’s actions speak much louder. I should have listened.

I came to another truth today, or rather, accepted a truth that had been hanging around awhile. It seems that I love Blair Sandburg more than anything in this world or any other.

Unfortunately, another truth popped up at the same time; I’m so afraid of that love that it’s maybe— killing me.

Us. Killing us.

Shit, why didn’t anyone ever tell me you could love like this? Love is supposed to be so fucking normal.  You love, you have sex, you share, you have bad breath together, you laugh at inane jokes, you play farting games, you sneak up on them in the shower, you talk politics while they’re going to the bathroom, you steal more than your fair share of the blanket, and when you go shopping, you remember to buy that special jar of pickles they love so much. That’s love.

So when did it get so fucking complicated?

When did it become so much more? When did it become about fear and protection? When did I start worrying about protecting me and keeping myself safe?

Is that it? The root of all evil?

I really, really, really, fucking hate fear-based responses. But I think I know something that wise Mr.  Sandburg doesn’t: Every response is basically fear-based. For everyone. I guess mine just gets us into more trouble than most. But then, is that so hard to understand? I hear better than most—okay, better than all. I see farther, can feel and smell more—so is it any wonder that every response I have is equally heightened?

A fear-based response of Sandburg’s is a blip on the radar scope of life, mine measure 8.2 on the Richter scale.

God, I’m doing it again, aren’t I?

Here I am alone, in the middle of the night, and having a wonderfully truthful conversation with myself when I should be having it with Sandburg. Hell, we’d probably be in each others arms by now, you know? And wouldn’t everything make more sense then?

Blair always says I think better with him around. He knows this about me—about us. Why couldn’t I know it?

What did I say to him when he first told me that I think better with him around? Oh, yeah—“Bit of an ego there, have we, Sandburg?”

Yeah, I’m a piece of work all right. I know damn well that he just knows me.

Suddenly I look up and bark out a laugh because the idea of thinking straight in Blair’s arms is incredibly funny. Think straight, get it? In Blair’s arms? A man’s arms?

Heh, I’m a card.

I glance over my shoulder and think it’s time Blair and I talked. I need this silence to, if not end, at least quiet down to a livable roar. I need Blair— now.

It’s not far, the walk to his room, yet it seems to take forever.

I can see him through the glass and I understand that I’m looking at my life all tangled up in yellow sheets, bare-assed, hair in his mouth, fingers clenching and unclenching—but still—my life.

My life.

I can feel the heat of tears in my burning eyes. It’s time to move or l’ll lose him. He’s half way out the door now.

I step inside and walk to the bed. Placing one shaking hand on his shoulder, I’m reassured by his warmth, the warmth of my life.

“Chief?” I whisper softly. “Wake up, I need you.”


I think you’re already

leaving, it’s like your

hand is on the door -

Matchbox 20



I watch as he mumbles, shakes his head, and shrugs the shoulder holding up my hand.

“Blair? Come on, buddy.” I give his shoulder another shake and his eyes open, he blinks and I hand him his glasses.

“I need you, Chief. Would you get up and join me in the living room?”

Blair Sandburg can wake up faster than anyone I’ve ever known, even my fellow soldiers. He’s nodding, moving, and throwing off the sheet. With a worried glance tossed in my direction, he takes the robe I hold out. Yawning, he slips into it and follows me out.

How does he know not to ask?

I go straight to the balcony, Blair shuffling behind me. As I again lean on the railing, he remains behind me, waiting.

I gaze at the stars above us while he waits. The sky is huge and the city lights don’t overshadow the stars for me, a sentinel. Friends have told me that seeing the sky full of stars makes them feel small and insignificant, but I’ve never felt that way. When I look up and see the amazing array of our heavens, I always feel a part of them instead of a freak.

Suddenly I need to know the night sky affects Sandburg.

“Chief, when we’re up in the mountains and you can see every star in the solar system, how does that make you feel?”

If he’s puzzled by my question, he doesn’t show it.

“Huge. It makes me feel—huge. And don’t laugh, but it makes me feel one with the universe.”

I can hear the smile in his voice when he says that last part and I smile in return.  “Always made me feel like I belonged. Guess we’re saying the view makes us both feel the same, eh?”

“Yeah, Jim. Sounds like.”

“Most people feel small and even overwhelmed. But not us.”

“No, Jim. Not us.”

I look down at the street below, at Prospect, and I’m suddenly struck by the name of the street I’ve lived on for almost nine years.


How prophetic is that?

When I moved in, my prospects seemed pretty dim but I was oddly hopeful. It was if I were a prospector panning for gold and praying for the Mother Lode.

“I picked a nifty street to live on, you know?”

I can hear Sandburg shift behind me, then he says, ”I thought so when I first came over, remember?”

Well, hot damn. He’s right.


//Jim opened his front door and stepped aside, allowing his guest to enter. Sandburg jogged in, his usual energy going at full tilt, but Jim was used to it now, thanks to the two weeks of working with the anthropologist. Jim had learned that the man was one great big generator.

“Man, this place is so cool, Jim.”

“It’s an apartment, Sandburg.”

“No, no, man, it’s way more.”

“Whatever, Chief.”

Blair turned around and took in the place Jim Ellison called home. He wasn’t altogether surprised to find it large, airy and roomy—just what a sentinel needed. The whole atmosphere was of peace and quiet. Even the idea of a loft bedroom seemed appropriate.

A guardian perched high above his domain.

He turned and smiled up at his discovery. “You know, even the name of the street seems somewhat appropriate, if you think about it.”

“Sandburg, you are one strange man. Just how is Prospect appropriate?”

Smiling cheekily, and not a little mysteriously, he answered, “Some day you’ll figure it out, man. But in the meantime, you need to add color. Warm color. This white is nice and it enlarges the room, but for you, no. Your eyes need rest and a soothing background. You need visual peace, you know? Where’s the bathroom?”

“Behind you. Sorry.”

“I don’t need it, Jim, but I do need to see what cleaning products you use. You know, like aftershave, shampoo, that kind of stuff.”

Jim frowned and started to shake his head, to stop the stranger he’d entrusted his life to, but Bair interrupted.

“Jim, Jim, Jim, aren’t you the one complaining about your skin? The rashes? The itching? Geez. Let me do my thing and stop worrying.” Then he grinned and added, “Just think of the prospects, man, think of the prospects.” The next hour gave Jim Ellison his first real clue into just what Anthropologist and ‘Doctor in all but his dissertation’ Blair Sandburg could actually do for him. As Blair moved through his home in a manner that not even his ex-wife had done, he took copious notes, chattered endlessly as he directed Jim in the products that would be safe and the foods that would be healthy and easily digestible. He went on with suggestions for both clothing, sheets and towels.

Jim, mental calculator spinning, decided that this sentinel thing could be expensive. And no way was he giving up his Wonderburgers or Mr. Tube Steak.

And maybe, just maybe—his prospects were looking


“I was kind of a jerk back then, wasn’t I, Jim?” Blair suddenly says.

Shaking my head at the fact that both of us have spent the last couple of minutes reliving some of our past, I say, “No, no you weren’t. You were a lifesaver.”

I can hear the smile in his voice again as he says, “What flavor?”

My own smile is a twin to his. “Butter Rum.”

“Mmm, my favorite.”

“Mine too, Chief.”

I finally turn and face him. Resting my back against the rail, elbows braced on the cold metal, I say, “I’m sorry about everything.”

If he’s surprised about such a confession in the dead of night, he’s hiding it well as he says simply, “So am I, Jim.”

I couldn’t help but notice that he still isn’t moving onto the balcony, choosing instead to remain in the doorway. He gazes past me and says quietly, “I sometimes forget that I need to talk as much as I think you do. So, let me start, okay?”

This isn’t how I planned this talk and somehow, I understand that if I let him start—I’ll lose him.

“Blair, this time, let me. Please?”

His eyes narrow and I can see him start to protest, but something about me stops him. “All right, Jim. Go ahead.”

A small bit of tension eases out of me and I grin.

“Thanks, Chief.”

But where to begin?

The beginning.

“Blair, I think I sometimes look over your head.”

A small smile plays around his lips and he can’t hold back the obvious comeback. “Jim, you always look over my head. You’re almost a head taller.”

I let him have the moment, then say, “I suspect you know what I’m really saying, Chief.”

“Okay,” he agrees, then waits, uncertain.

I can see his fear now, hell, I can smell it, so I say, “I don’t want to do that anymore.”

“You woke me in the middle of the night to say this?”


He shrugs. “Okay. I get it.”

“You don’t get it all. There was no betrayal of trust, unless you count mine, and you should count it.”

“Jim, if we’re really going to talk, and apparently we are, maybe—inside?”

“I think I need the night air, Chief. The openess, you know?”

“All right. So we’re talking about the whole Alex thing, right?”

“We’re talking about three years, Chief. We’re talking about love.”

That did it. He steps out onto the balcony. His body is nearly thrumming with whatever he’s feeling, and the way he’s looking at me—I think I’m thrumming.

“Love?” he asks incredulously.

“Love,” I answer simply. “As in I love you.”

“Love? You love me? You’re finally saying it?”

“Yeah, I’m finally saying it.”

“I’ve been suspended.” He tosses it out like a live grenade.

How did we go from love to suspension? What should I say?

“Suspended?” I finally choose, stupidly.  “Yeah. The only thing Chancellor Edwards and I worked out was that if I turn in my completed dissertation by next Tuesday, I won’t get completely tossed out on my ass. She’s pretty ticked. Ventriss withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars from the university, so no new buildings.”


I tell the man that I love him and he throws the dissertation into my face? Jesus.

“That’s one reason I haven’t been at the station much, and why I’m a bit—tired. Burning the candle, the midnight oil, the morning oil, you name it. And of course, no money coming in. But I’ll make the deadline.”

He says it almost - defiantly. The bastard.

I haven’t a clue what to say. What to do.

“You know, it’s kind of funny really.” He goes on, apparently uaware of my confusion and hurt. “I tried to fight her, you know? Mentioned the drowning, how it happened right under the nose of campus security, thought I’d frighten her off. But no. She said I died because of my other work and wasn’t that the whole problem? I thought that was really funny.”

I could only stare at him. Who was this man?

“I guess you don’t think it was funny, eh, Jim?”

“Are you insane, Sandburg?”

“Probably. My shrink says if I don’t talk about it, I may very well go around the bend. Of ccourse, she didn’t use those words—exactly. Her terminology was more - medical.”

“Shrink? Shrink?”

“Well, yeah. Hey, man, I died. A person has to kind of talk about something like that, you know? To someone.”

Numb, I say flatly,”You’re seeing a shrink.”

“Umm. Two days a week. Not like that’s new territory for me, you know.”

Suddenly inside is good. I push past him and after he follows, I shut the windows.

Everything is too loud. Too—real.

Maybe silence is golden after all.


I think you’re so mean,

I think we should try...

Matchbox 20



As I moved to the kitchen, Blair spoke behind me, his voice chilling in its coldness.

“My shrink keeps pushing the whole honesty thing and I’m paying seventy-five bucks an hour for her to be right, so maybe I should add an addendum to my remarks about my dissertation. You see, I’ve already beat the deadline, Jim. I submitted today.”

No grenade this time—just your basic H-bomb.

I froze—then decided beer wasn’t going to cut it. I turned left, opened the cupboard over the sink, and took down an old bottle of Johnnie Walker. This was going to take something a great deal stronger than beer. As I twisted the cap off, I said dryly, “Did we forget our little agreement? That I was to read the damn thing before you submitted?”

“No, we didn’t. But then, hell, it’s my fucking dissertation, you know?”

It’s possible that I’ve been living with Bela Lugosi all these years. I have never heard any voice sound as emotionless, uncaring or as cold as Blair Sandburg’s right now.

Guess who can sound just as cold?

“It’s your fucking dissertation, but it’s about my fucking life, Sandburg. So unless you’ve found some way to hide my identity, not that it would matter, because I know it’s me, and based on your introductory chapter, I’m thinking I’m screwed.”

I keep pouring and swallowing, pouring and swallowing.  Behind me, nothing. He’s there, but apparently has no response. I pour a third time and turn to rest my back against the counter. He’s just standing and staring. I start to take another swallow, but something stops me.  I realize it’s the way he’s looking at me, the way he’s standing. The anger in him is gone.

“Why is it you always manage to jump to the worst possible conclusions where I’m concerned? You can’t seem to help thinking the worse about me. You refuse year after year to see me, know me, or hear me.”

He moves to his bedroom then, and as he shuts the door on me, I can hear his final words.

“You’re still looking over my head, Jim.”


I think you’re so mean,

I think we should try...

Matchbox 20



As I move to the kitchen, Blair speaks behind me, his voice chilling in its coldness.

“My shrink keeps pushing the whole honesty thing and I’m paying seventy-five bucks an hour for her to be right, so maybe I should add an addendum to my remarks about my dissertation. You see, I’ve already beat the deadline, Jim. I submitted today.”

No grenade this time—just your basic H-bomb.

I freeze—then decide beer isn’t going to cut it. I turn left, open the cupboard over the sink, and take down an old bottle of Johnnie Walker. This was going to take something a great deal stronger than beer. As I twist the cap off, I say dryly, “Did we forget our little agreement? That I was to read the damn thing before you submitted?”

“No, we didn’t. But then, hell, it’s my fucking dissertation, you know?”

It’s possible that I’ve been living with Bela Lugosi all these years. I have never heard any voice sound as emotionless, uncaring or cold as Blair Sandburg’s right now.

Guess who can sound just as cold?

“It’s your fucking dissertation, but it’s about my fucking life, Sandburg. So unless you’ve found some way to hide my identity, not that it would matter, because I know it’s me, and based on your introductory chapter, I’m thinking I’m screwed.”

I keep pouring and swallowing, pouring and swallowing.  Behind me, nothing. He’s there, but apparently has no response. I pour a third time and turned to rest my back against the counter. He’s just standing and staring—at me. I start to take another swallow, but something stops me. I realize it’s the way he’s looking at me, the way he’s standing. The anger in him is gone.

“You must really love me, Jim. More than anything.  Because you always manage to jump to the worst possible conclusions where I’m concerned. You can’t seem to help thinking the worse about me. You refuse year after year to see me, to know me, to hear me.”

He moves to his bedroom then, and as he shuts the door on me, I can hear his final words.

“You’re still looking over my head, Jim.”



There’s an awful lot

of breathing room, but

I can hardly move -

Matchbox 20



Well, what do you know? I’m alone again and the silence is threatening to deafen me. Gee.

Could someone tell me what just happened?

As I move to the couch and sit down, legs stretched out and glass in my hand, I tick off the last few minutes as they happened.

One: I tell Sandburg I’m not going to look over his head anymore.

Two: I tell Sandburg that I love him.

Three: He tells me he’s been suspended and that he’s seeing a shrink.

Four: He’s submitted his dissertation. Without letting me see it.

Now he’s in his room and wow, I’m out here, and he says I’m still looking over his head.

Like - how? Like - how did this get to be my fault?  Did we or did we not have an agreement? I would read it, we would discuss it, he would make the changes and voila, everyone would be happy.

Right? Right?


He’s not asleep. He’s not even lying down. I can tell -- I’m a sentinel, you know.

I need another drink.

Suddenly, I can’t move.

God, when did this place become so small?



I bet you’re hard to

get over, I bet the

moon just won’t shine

Matchbox 20



So this is it. He’s still here—but gone. Matter of time before he’s walking out the door, never to be seen or heard of again.

No more Blair Sandburg.

Blair. Five letters. James. Five letters.

Have you wondered about his name? Blair? Why on earth did Naomi name him Blair? I mean, think about it.


Mark Sandburg.

Keith Sandburg.

Jacob Sandburg.

Michael Sandburg.


So many possibilities, but the woman chooses Blair.

I could have called him Mike.

“Mike, you stay in the truck.” Or, “Hey, Keith, call for back-up.”

No, that does not work.

Okay, how ‘bout, “Hey, Jake, call for back-up.”


“Mark, need any help with that?”

That works too. But Blair?

On the other hand—he is indisputably a—Blair. He is Blair. Blair is perfect for him.

Blair Sandburg. Rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? And I think I’m drunk.

But even drunk, I can say it - Blair Sandburg.

I should tell Conner that I really, really, really hate when she calls him Sandy. He is NOT a Sandy.

Witness if you will: “Hey, Sandy, call for back-up.”



Mark Keith Jacob Michael Sandy Blair Sandburg is gone -- whatever the hell his name is - he’s gone.

Here, but gone. Soon to be a distant memory.

“Blair,” I whisper, “you’ll never be a distant memory to me.”



I think I’m just scared,

that I know too much, I

can’t relate and that’s

the problem - Matchbox 20



I can’t believe he submitted his dissertation. Why would he do that?

Suddenly the glass in my hand shatters silently. I look down and see the pieces as they fly and fall, as the remaining liquid spills over my hand, and I’m amazed because there’s no blood. I look down, then back up to my palm.

Truth swims up toward me, as if written on my hand....

He didn’t do it. No, he did, but not that dissertation.

Damn it, he was right. I was looking over his head again.

Like some kind of robot, I stand, walk into the kitchen, get the dust pan and broom, also the sponge and paper towels. Gotta clean up, you know?

As I sweep, pick up pieces, wipe and sop up—I realize there’s too much to process. He was telling me so much, but once again I couldn’t hear or wouldn’t hear.

The bastard tricked me.


Leaving the mess, I stride over to the French doors but pause inches away and rest my head against the glass.


“I’m a stubborn son of a bitch, Chief.”

I knock my head against the glass - once - twice, and suddenly remember that I was stubborn about these fucking doors once too....


//The Jags were losing and Jim thought about shutting the damn thing off and maybe reading. He could hear his roommate in his room, fingers flying over the keys of his laptop, so he tilted his head, and without an ounce of shame, listened in....

“...fuck, I can’t believe you’re saying this, you asshole....”

Jim grinned. Email. Sandburg was undoubtedly emailing some buddy who was half way around the world and he wasn’t agreeing with a word Sandburg was saying.

“...geez, you have a college education, where do you come up with this stuff? And when did you become a Republican and not tell me?”

Jim grinned. Sometimes his only joy was listening in on Sandburg. His private vice. But God, the man was hilarious. He could talk a meanstreak even when alone.  And his mumblings? Priceless. As roommates went, well, he was actually better than Carolyn and Jim had been married to her.

He heard the loud “fuck” and knew by the accompanying sounds that Sandburg was logging off. A few minutes later, said roomie bounded into the living room, jumped over the back of the couch and came to rest next to Jim.

“Hey, buddy, how we doin’?”

“We’re losing, Chief. The Jags have decided to play tiddlywinks on the court instead of Bball.”

“Well, fuck. I had ten bucks riding on this game.”

“Sandburg, is that something you really want to tell your roommate, the cop?”

“Come on, Jim, don’t tell me you never make little bets with the guys? Or join the Superbowl pool?”

“Is there a point here, Sandburg?”

“Well, yeah. How ‘bout we put a door on my room?”

They were three weeks past the “one week, man, just one week” and Jim didn’t miss the “my room” part of the sentence.

He turned his head away from the television and looked at his partner.


“Yeah, a door. Those are the things that have shiny gold knobs and open and close? They were invented by Rocco, an early Neolithic caveman who desired privacy when he was jacking off in his half of the cave he called home.”

Jim squinted, narrowing his focus as he regarded the weird man sitting next to him. It was probably true.  Helplessly, he shook his head in bewilderment.

“We could go looking tomorrow, you’re day off. I have no classes and while I do have umpteen papers to read or do or submit,” he waved one hand expansively, “I can burn a little midnight oil to catch up.”

He smiled the brilliant Sandburg 200 watt smile and gave his eyebrows a little waggle. “So, whaddya say, Jim?”

What he said didn’t match what he thought at all, because what he said was, “Sure, why not?” but what he thought was, *Fuck, I like that curtain, it moves with him.*

The curtain remained up for another five weeks. Jim procrastinated. Jim covertly peeked. Jim dawdled, Jim made excuses, Jim continued to peek right up until the unusual case of a peeping Tom was dumped into their laps. A peeping Tom who’d gone violent.

The afternoon after he and Sandburg had caugh the guy, Jim went to their local home improvement store and bought doors. But not a door. No, he wasn’t willing to go that far. He bought French doors. Glass panes, you know.

By the time Sandburg got home from the University, they were up.

The look on Sandburg’s face had been worth the extra dollars and effort.//




If you’re gone, hell,

baby, you need to come

home - Matchbox 20



Okay, so maybe stubborn wasn’t the right word. I had a very good reason for stalling. The curtain moved with Sandburg. And - and - it was easier to see him, to feel him.

“Chief?” I whisper against the cool glass. “Wanna know why it took me five weeks to get these doors?”

His quiet “why?” was all I needed.

“Because the curtain moved with you. You used to pace all the time and the damn thing moved softly, billowed lightly, fluffed out and it was - you.”

I wait and finally hear the bed creak as Blair stands up. But he doesn’t approach the door.

“Please, Blair, let me in. I get it now.”

I close my eyes and hold my breath.

“If I open the door right now—you’ll fall in.”

I open my eyes and smile - because he’s right there - his face below mine, blue eyes gazing up at me. I step back, he opens one of the doors, and I move in.

I immediately draw in a sharp breath, one filled with Blair Sandburg. Of Chief. Of Darwin. Of Sandy. Of Sandburg. Of - Blair.

“You didn’t turn in the sentinel dissertation, did you?”

“No, Jim, I didn’t.”

“What did you turn in?”

“I guess you could say it’s kind of the whole *Thin Blue Line* thing. It’s called ‘Societies Guardians’.  It’s about you, Simon, Joel, Rafe and Henri....”

“I get it. The Closed Society thing.”

“Sort of. But more about how society closes itself off from the very people who guard them. I changed my subject three days after we got back from Sierra Verde.”

“And you’re really suspended?”

“Yes, Jim, I’m really suspended.”

Amazingly enough, we’re still standing just inside his room. In spite of our words, and what I’m learning, I’m acutely aware of him. He has nothing on under the thin molded-to-his-body robe, and while I’ve seen this before—I let it register this time. Last time, Conner was sharing kitchen space with us.

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

He rubs at the back of his neck and says tiredly, “It didn’t seem to matter to anyone but me, Jim. Sorry.”

“I’m sorry, Chief.”

He looks up then and grins. The first true smile I’ve seen in weeks. “Too many sorrys here, Jim. And they don’t really seem to get us anywhere, do they?”

“I love you, Blair. And I’m thinking that if we pierce my nose and you run a string through the ring, then whenever I’m about to look over your head, you could tug on the string....”

He’s frowning at me. He looks cute. Those little ridges between his nose and the way that pug nose squiggles up....

“*I* think, Jim, we pierce something else. Then when I tug, you’re sure to look down.”

I know my eyes just popped open. Then I grin. “Aw, Chief, you’ve been leading me around by my dick for years and it hasn’t worked. No, I say we go with the nose.”

“Okay. Tomorrow. I know a great place on Emerson; The Screwed Tattoo. Very clean. After the piercing, maybe we get some kind of reminder permanently affixed to your body. Something like: ‘Blair Sandburg is a Saint’. That should fit across that broad chest of yours.”

“How ‘bout just ‘Saint Blair’ across my ass? Saint on my left ass cheek and Blair on the right?”

“Hey, that works too.”


There’s a little

something in me in

everything in you

Matchbox 20



I’m not sure why, but instead of ending up on the couch in the living room, we end up sitting side by side on his bed. As we sit, shoulders just touching, I gaze about his room and marvel. It’s - home. Homey.  It’s him.

“I guess we’d - better - talk, uh, Jim?” I tear my eyes from the drawing on the wall across from the bed and ask, “Where did you get that?”

Blair’s eyes follow mine and he smiles. “You remember Susan? The artist I was dating last year?”

“She did that? Why?”

Blair drops his head down and starts picking at a hangnail. “Well, uh... she was... making a point, kind of.”

I look back at the picture, then back at him, then one more glance at the drawing. Well, hell. Susan knew?  Susan knew? It was so obvious that as a parting gift, she gave that drawing to my partner?

I stand and walk the two steps that take me to the wall, to the framed gift. My eyes are drawn to Susan’s name, which is printed in the bottom right corner, then up to the two figures she’s sketched.

It would seem that the two people in the pencil drawing are men. No boobs. I tend to pick up on those types of things. Of course, no dicks either, but their positioning kind of precludes showing dicks.

The men appear to be free-floating, nothing apparently holding the larger figure up, but he does appear to be seated on something, and it’s clear that he’s holding the shorter figure on his lap. But if one looks at it differently, the shorter man could be bracing the taller. Their arms are wound around each other and they’re kissing. Somehow, Susan has captured all the love, sensuality, and neediness in the simple way they hold each other, and the way their lips meet. And yes, in the way each is bracing the other for this most intimate act.

My heart constricts and Blair is seeing a shrink and I have to keep him here and I want those two men to be us and I want to be everything to the man behind me.

But I don’t say any of that.

“You’re angry, aren’t you, Chief?”

“Angry, Jim? How did we go from Susan to anger?”

“Just answer.”

“No, not really angry. I think I passed angry a while back. I know what world I live in, what world you live in, but I kind of forgot. I started to expect, and thus need, too much.”

I tear my eyes from the picture and face him.


He’s picking at that hang nail again as he says, “Look, this is complicated, Jim. And believe me when I say that it’s more than you need to know about me, not to mention more than you want to know.”

“There’s nothing about you that I don’t need or want to know, Chief.”

His eyes bore into mine and I can see he’s surprised by my words. Stunned actually. I hurry on, capitalizing on his shock. “Please,” I beg, “Blair, tell me.”

I pray my words are enough.

He waits a heartbeat, but finally says, “I never - needed, Jim. Do you understand? And in turn, I was never really needed by anyone, seriously speaking. But in the last three years, damn it, I’ve needed. I found myself needing validation from you, Simon, from - all of you. Hell, even from my mother.  And I wanted to belong.

“When I died, I guess I needed so much and it wasn’t there and I was so fucking angry and everything went to hell so fast, Jim, and I couldn’t keep up and damn, I know that doesn’t make sense but I never needed before and I’d talked myself into believing that you needed me, that Major Crime needed me, hell, that even Simon needed me, and finding out that as usual, I was wrong and back to square one, well, I kind of freaked.  I needed to talk, but no one wanted to because, well, not their fault really. After all, they hadn’t, like, died, you know?”

I am always amazed at how he can do the whole *ramble on* thing. I know that when I’m listening to his rambles,  every word is important, every word the real thing, and I have to listen, because if I don’t, well, what I miss could be vital. I didn’t miss a thing this time, not one word, not one between-the-lines word.

He needs me. Blair Sandburg needs me.

“Well, I do need you,” I finally respond.

Blair isn’t swallowing it. He’s shaking his head. “No, you don’t, Jim. But I’m starting to think you want me.  Which is cool. But you don’t - won’t - ever need me, or anyone. You’ve made that pretty clear over the years.”

Suddenly I wonder who is teaching whom here?

“And you believed me? You, with a minor in psych?  You believed my ramblings? My protestations of macho oneness?”

One eyebrow quirks delightfully as he gives me my favorite lopsided grin. “Macho oneness?”

“Well, sure.” I sit back down beside him and surprise him even more by taking his hand. “You know me, Sandburg. Come on, already. Lone Wolf Ellison, full of testosterone? Get real. I’m a pussy cat.”

I love it when I turn his whole world upside down by doing something that destroys his perception of me. Of course, this is the first time I’ve done that, but I love it. I’m especially fond of the expression on his face right now.

“If I said that I was ready to take that trip with you now, what would you say?”

God, I’m smart. Go back to your biggest single mistake and undo it. Well, okay, that would mean going back to not kissing Alex but it’s too late for that, so I’m choosing the second biggest mistake.

“What trip?”

O-kay. I wasn’t ready for that. Let’s start over.

“You know, The trip. The one where the water’s fine.

That trip.”

“Oh, don’t be an ass. We’ve been on that trip for three years.”

Judging by the expression on his face right now, I must look like a total idiot. “Wh-at a- about the merge?” I manage to sputter out incredulously.

“What about it?”

“Sandburg, we fucking merged. Became one, then I as much as told you no fucking way. Well, now, I’m rescinding. Now it’s way.”

“Jim, didn’t I just say that you wanted me? I know that.”

Does this man have a fucking brain? I need to dazzle him with my verbal footwork. This could be a disaster.

“Sandburg, you’re cute and all, and yeah, I want you in that way, but if that was all I wanted or needed, well, we’d have already done it.”

That footwork was so fast, I missed it. But he’s staring at me again and in a good way.

“So you’ve been waiting - why?” He gives me that little head wiggle of his when he says, “why” and I nearly succumb right then and there, but this is about more than sex, about more than wanting him physically. I have to make him see that.

“Damned if I know.”

There, that should convince him.

“Jim, what the fuck are you trying, so lamely, to say?”

Lame? Me? I’ll show him.

“I’m trying to say that when I saw you floating face down in that fountain, I nearly died. The world went black, I couldn’t breathe, and there was no heartbeat to center me. I pulled you out, but you were so damn cold and your face was pale and your lips were blue and your hair, ah, God, your hair....”

I shut my eyes at the memory and my face is hot and so are the tears....

“It was spread out on the grass and I had this stupid thought that I’d never find another excuse to touch it - to touch you. We started mouth-to-mouth and it wasn’t working and Simon was crying and GOD DAMN IT, YOU WOULDN’T MOVE OR BREATHE!”

I’m shaking him now, my voice loud and I can’t stop it....


“I was dead, Jim.”

That stops me cold. It could have acted as a dam, stopped the flow of emotion from the great stoic James Ellison, but it worked to the opposite. My body is shaking as I ask him, “Why did you let her kill you, Chief? Why did you have to die? You weren’t supposed to die, don’t you see?”

“I came back, Jim, and I don’t know why I let her kill me. Hell, I don’t even know why she wanted to.  It makes absolutely no sense. You knew about her, Simon knew about her, how could killing me stop that?  It makes no sense.”

He was right - it didn’t. There was no earthly reason for her to kill my partner. Except - would I have been able to - would I have been strong enough without him?


“I guess those are questions to which we’ll never have answers, Jim. And it doesn’t really matter - now.”

“Well, I need answers. You did let her, didn’t you? There were no signs of a struggle, Blair. How did she get you into that fountain?”

Blair suddenly stands and walks to the back door, then turns and walks to his nightstand. He’s staring at the window over his bed. “It doesn’t really matter, Jim.  It’s over, I came back and here we are.”

I’m up in a flash and behind him, my hands on his shoulders, fingers tightening. “It damn well does matter, Sandburg. I want an answer to this one. We may not get answers to all our questions, but fuck, you can give me this one. Why. Did. You. Let. Her?”

He pulls away, forcing my hands to fall uselessly to my side as he turns and faces me, eyes flashing. “Why not?” he asks me, his voice painfully quiet.  “I had nothing at that moment, Jim.”

He goes on, his words ripping me to shreds.

“Why shouldn’t I let her? It solved a whole lot of shit for me, you know?”

Has the entire last three years been leading up to this horrific moment? As I stare at those beautiful blue eyes, as my gaze roams over the face I know as well as my own, I feel a coldness inside and wonder if this is it. Is there any chance for us? Can I bridge this?

Anger burns in my gut and I can feel my face harden into Ellison granite as I hiss out, “God damn you to hell, Sandburg.”

He smiles wryly at me and says, ”I’ve been there for awhile, Jim.”

What the fuck do I say to that?

He’s so close to me, I can feel his heat, sweat, fear and his hopelessness.

I have to reach out and touch it, then somehow dispel it.

I place my hand on his neck, let my fingers curl around it, stroke his skin, my thumb rubbing over his pulse - his beautiful, full of life pulse.

“Let me carry you for awhile, Blair. Give me a chance because if you don’t, we both stay in this hell. Breathe again, just once more, but this time, for me and yourself. For us.”

“You don’t know what you’re asking, Jim.”

“Yes I do. I’m asking for one more leap of faith. Just one more. For the guppy.”

I can see the tears in his eyes and he’s blinking them back, but I also see the beginnings of a smile.

“For the guppy, Jim? For the guppy?”

I shrug my shoulders and smile back. “What can I say? I... you... you’re    my - guppy.”


God damn it, we’re both crying. We’ll never live this down, but then, who’s gonna tell?

“Please, let me hold you? Please?”

Haltingly, he moves into my space and the hand I have on his neck moves into his hair. His chest is against mine, his breath coming fast. I swear this is too painful, too real, too - great. As my other arm goes around his waist, it’s all I ever wanted.

He’s plastered against me, his face buried in my shoulder, this crazy man, this beautiful man and he’s mine, and I’m his, and we’ve both - finally - surrendered.

It’s been a long time coming.

His head comes up and our lips meet, part, and it’s so sweet, so complete, and damn, he’s - aggressive. Who’s in charge here, anyhow?

Like I don’t know?

We move and our legs hit the bed and we’re going down and this is the last place that I thought it would happen, but this is where it’s going to happen. For a sentinel in love, it couldn’t be better - I’m surrounded by him.

I lift my lips from his neck and say, “I love you, Blair.”

“I’m back, Jim and I love you too.”

“You’ll stay?”

“Never leave.”

As I move down his body, I find myself whispering over and over again, “Thank you, thank you, thank you....”

I know there is more to talk about - but for now, this is enough, because he’s here.