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Mercy Part 4


Disclaimers and Warnings in Part 1

Simon entered the warehouse with a pensive look on his face.  He had been extremely worried about his friend and best detective when Ellison had seemingly vanished a few days ago.  Upon receiving the phone call, Simon had felt the rush of blessed relief he had not expected to encounter.  The only thing left for him to do was to pick up the man that was the cause of so much grief and anguish, a man who was wanted in several states for everything from bribery to murder.  It was the background story that stung the police captain and the ride over had been anything but pleasant for his accompanying detectives.

While Henri and Rafe gathered Hunt from Jim and secured the fallen guard, Simon lingered in the shadows chewing his cigar and contemplating the conversation which had brought them to his detective’s aid.  He knew Jim had been taken hostage during his search for Blair.  He also knew the kidnapper was a diagnosed headcase, with some kind of idea about turning Jim and Blair’s sentinel connection into a bizarre sort of complicated criminal activity.  Luckily, the plan had been thwarted and Jim had found Blair, alive and semi-well, but that was all the detective would divulge over the phone. 

Megan came over to report that Hunt had been read his rights and was being loaded in a third car.  She would stay and work with the forensics team, knowing Simon would need time to find out details about the latest crisis.  He waved her on, silently thanking her for her consideration.  It was good to have people working for him who took his feelings into account and treated his position with some respect.  Once more he looked about the warehouse for Sandburg, but he was nowhere to be seen.  Jim probably had him holed up somewhere until they could be sure Hunt was gone and everything was okay. 

He silently watched Jim linger at the car as it readied to leave with its imprisoned occupants.  The look on the detective’s face was as stoic as Simon had ever seen it.  ~Well, he better be made of stone,~ Simon thought, ~because I am going to lay into him with both barrels.~

It was a matter of trust which had been betrayed.  Simon had finally acknowledged he was a part of this sentinel business and what had Jim done, but reverted right back to his old behavior.  Gone off on a lone wolf escapade as usual and almost gotten himself and Sandburg killed.  ~Where IS that kid anyway, damn it!  I should at least be allowed to know he is okay before I rip into Jim.~ 

Jim finally made his way back over to the captain.  As Simon opened his mouth to begin his barrage he caught a look at his detective’s eyes, their crystal depths were full of pain and remorse.  He quickly forgot everything he was going to say and could only quietly inquire,  “Where’s the kid, Jim?  You said he was here and alive.”

“I never said he was here, Simon.  I said he was alive and pretty much physically okay as far as I could tell.”

“Well, forgive me for making assumptions here.  I should have learned long ago not to assume anything when it comes to you two.  You still haven’t answered my question!”  He let his tone become authoritative.  “Where is Sandburg?”

Just before Jim looked away, Simon saw such pain in the eyes of his friend that he immediately knew the answer was not going to be good.  He instinctively reached out and grabbed his detective’s shoulder and turned him so that he could look into his face.  “What, man?  Tell me!”

The tears in Jim’s eyes were unmistakable as he quietly answered, “He’s gone, Simon.”  He turned away from Simon again and swallowed hard.

“Gone?  You mean he left?”

When Jim turned back to face the captain, the tears had vanished but his tone was troubled.  “While I was wrestling with Hunt, Blair went over to the door, told me to call for help and said he had to leave.  I know he had been having trouble with his memory and apparently between the first kidnappers and Hunt, he had pretty well had the crap beaten out of him.  But he seemed okay, you know, Simon?  I thought I had him back.”

Simon could only stare.  Finally, bringing his other hand up so he could grasp both of the sentinel’s shoulders, he pulled him closer and looked deeply into the blue eyes.  “Let’s get out of here, Jim.  I don’t think they need your presence while they gather evidence and I know you need a chance to rest and think.  At least we know the kid is alive, and if the memory problems are sporadic he’ll come to his senses and head back to you.  You know how he feels about you, Jim.  If Borneo and Alex couldn’t take him from your side, this won’t either.  He’s not just your friend, Jim; he’s your teacher and guide.  He won’t be able to ignore his destiny any more than you can, hell, not even I could do that.  Somehow it is a part we have to play in this whole crazy thing.  He’ll figure it out.”

Jim sighed and gave Simon a slight smile.  “You’re right, Simon.  I just wonder how long it will take.  It’s winter now and looks to be a hard one.  I hate to think that he is out there with little more than the clothes on his back.”

“I know, Jim, I know.  Hell, I wish it didn’t have to be this way.  The kid means something to me too and whether he remembers it or not right now, we can’t do this thing without him.  It’s kinda like that sorry saying, if you care about something let it go free....it will return to you if it was meant to happen.  I guess that is what we are doing now, waiting on him to come back.  Let’s go, okay?”

The detective nodded and quietly replied, “Yeah, I think I need to get out of here.”  His captain put a protective arm around Jim’s shoulders as they turned to leave.


The ride back to the loft had taken some time.  Jim insisted they drive around the outskirts of town, looking to see if they could find any signs of Blair.  Jim tried using his senses to locate him with no success and Simon had probably gone along with the activity because he too hoped that finding the anthropologist would be easy this time.  Surely it would be far less complicated than finding him with a madman, but their search proved fruitless and in the long run they ended back at the loft as planned.

Jim walked from the kitchen to the couch with two beers in hand.  Even though he was dog tired, Jim was grateful that Simon had come in.  The last thing he really wanted was to be alone with his thoughts right now.  When Blair had disappeared the first time there was that never ending lure of finding the creeps who had him and freeing his friend before he could be hurt or worse.  This was in some ways much harder.  Sandburg had gone of his own will, whether it be a totally rational decision or not.  He handed Simon the beer and sat quietly on the couch beside him.  Both men were alone in their thoughts before Simon finally broke the silence.

“You know,  in the same obtrusive way as always, your partner managed to deflect a perfectly good tirade I had aimed for you.”

After taking a long swallow of beer, Jim peered over the bottle and asked with a slight smile, “How’s that, Simon?”

“Like I said in the warehouse, but I’m sure you were preoccupied, I think there is a bit of destiny being played out here.  With you, the kid and me.  I thought we had kinda established that before.  You and I would work together to bring the kid back.  Understand, I’m not second guessing you here at all.  It’s just.....”

Jim adamantly shook his head as he interrupted, “No, Simon.  You don’t get it.  I know you and Blair both get angry with my ways.  I am by nature a loner when it comes to fighting my battles.  It took years for me to finally be able to give Sandburg just a little bit of credit when it came to backing me up.  Hell, he basically had to die first.”  Jim grew quiet as he placed the beer bottle on the coffee table.

“Jim, you can’t go there.  You’ll make yourself crazy.  The kid and you are okay now.”

“Are we Simon?  Do I really know what goes on in that quicksilver mind of his?  I can’t even presume that.  He’s sacrificed a lot for me and so have you.  I follow where you’re going, Simon.  I know you wanted to be there with me and shit, man, I could have used you, that’s for sure.  But things came down unexpectedly.  Like I said in the car, Hunt was looking for me and had Sandburg’s help.  There was no way for me to predict what happened.  You would’ve been there if I could have managed it, believe me.”

Simon smiled gently as he sat his beer down and rose from the couch, “I guess I need to drive over to the station to make sure we got your truck back.  You’re beat, Jim.  Try to get some rest.  You can call me and I’ll give you a ride in tomorrow morning and you can give your statement.”  He waited for Ellison as he made his way to the door.  “Let me know immediately if you hear from the kid, Jim.  I’m worried about him, too.”  Simon opened the door and turned back to look at his detective and friend.  “I mean it, Jim.  I really want to know what’s happening with him.”

Jim felt a surge of emotion and merely nodded as he blinked back threatening tears.  Simon clasped him on the shoulder and then left the detective as they both sought solitude to deal with their sorrow.


And I don’t want the world to see me, cause I don’t think that they’d understand.  When everything’s made to be broken, I just want you to know who I am–– John Rzeznik

Once again, Jim found himself haunting the seamier parts of Cascade.  Determined to find his wayward partner, he drove up and down deserted streets and prowled the homeless shelters.  Tendrils of anger would wind their way into Jim’s subconsciousness and then blossom to full fury when he missed his friend most.  How dare Sandburg leave him like this?  How had he come to depend on such a man, one who, in a weak moment, might abandon him forever? 

In the darkness of other winter days, Jim couldn’t believe his friend gone.  He had been so sure that the affirmation of their bond in that dingy warehouse room had been *real,* an incredible act of friendship, faith and trust that sealed their destinies together.  To find himself alone, with Simon as his only confidant, was too much for him to grasp at times.  Those cold evenings would find Jim in agony, sometimes pacing the floor in loneliness.  At other times, alone in front of the television or fireplace, Jim would review his life and retreat further within himself.  Soon the sentinel was a shell, going to work each day and avoiding everyone he could.  Although he knew his friends worried, he wanted no one to witness the incredible effort it took to endure the wait.

Weeks passed and occasionally there would be a report from someone who thought they had seen Blair.  Nothing ever came of it, but Jim was given hope that his friend had stayed in the area.  It became a habit for Jim to patrol the streets on his way home from the police department.  One particularly dark night, when the stars and moon were obscured by a thick blanket of cold clouds which had descended upon the Cascade skyline with a vengeance, Jim decided to take a quick drive around the university.  From a distance he could make out a lone figure standing near the fountain at Hargrove Hall.  Quickly pulling the truck to a halt, Jim jumped out and ran toward the building, his heart racing with the knowledge that this *had* to be Blair.  Suddenly a security guard stepped out of the shadows and in front of the running detective.

“Where you going in such a hurry, mister?  Don’t ya think it is a bit late for wind sprints?”  He grabbed Jim’s arm as he tried to dodge him.  “Hey, I’m talking to you, bud!”

Reaching back for his badge, Jim managed to stifle the rising rage he felt from being detained.  The guard shrugged and muttered an apology as he saw the shield.  When Jim turned back to the fountain, the figure was gone.  Jim jogged over to the site but there was no sign that anyone had been there.  Whoever it was had silently moved on.  Jim reached out with his hearing straining for any sign of the reassuring beat.  Faintly, he heard the beloved thrum of a pulse he knew better than his own, but then heard an unfamiliar voice, a car door slam, and the surge of an engine as a car pulled away. 

Jim slowed to a walk as he made his way back to the truck, realizing he had been too late.   Leaning against the Ford, Jim allowed his breathing to slow, well aware that the sobs he fought were not entirely from being winded.  ~Damn it, Chief, why?  What has happened to you?  What happened to us?  To what we are?  Why?~  And *why* became the mantra that wrapped itself around his mind and refused to let go.


As time passed, Jim remained confident that he would find Blair once again.  He refused to believe that his best friend and guide would just disappear after visiting the scene of his death those many months ago.  Instinctively, Jim knew there was something symbolic in that visit, perhaps something he would only glean after Sandburg returned.  However, Jim was convinced there was a reason he had been there.  He also speculated that the anthropologist might frequent other sites which held meaning for him.  Jim just had to be patient and careful.  There was no telling *who* he would recover when he managed to find his friend.  So the detective kept himself sane by preoccupying his thoughts with plans of just how he would handle such a situation when it finally presented itself.

Jim began to go to places he and Blair had regularly visited.  He ate at those crazy ethnic food restaurants which his partner enjoyed so much.  He patrolled around the campus more often and strolled in the park several times a week.  It also occurred to him to follow his usual routine, but at odd hours.  He went to the store and took long walks in the park before dawn. 

On one such walk, Jim found himself reflecting on the events of a stake out which had very nearly gone dangerously wrong before Simon had shown up and gotten the situation under control.  One of the young cops had dropped his guard and had almost blown the whole damned thing.  Ellison’s focus was on the case and he had walked from habit, needing the damp and chilled early morning air to clear his head.  As he rounded the last bend in the path, he noticed a young man standing in the distance by a park bench, his arms wrapped around himself in a familiar gesture.  As Jim drew closer, he noted the collar on the young man’s worn coat was turned up and his short hair framed his head in an explosion of wet curls that swept down over his forehead and just barely trailed along the edge of the coat’s collar.  He was about to turn and head for his parked truck when the smooth cadence of the instantly recognized heartbeat greeted his ears.  Jim swallowed and proceeded quietly toward the obviously distracted young man.  He was just a few steps away when those incredible eyes, almost black in the dim light, looked up and saw the detective. 

Jim saw a look of horror sweep over Blair’s face as he recognized the sentinel and turned as if to run.  Without thought, Jim launched himself in a flying tackle and caught his friend’s ankles as he slammed to the ground.  Blair fell solidly, his breath going out in a huff.  He weakly struggled against the bigger man, but it wasn’t long before Jim had him pinned on the ground. 

“Blair!  It’s okay, buddy!  Take it easy, take it easy.  If I let you go, do you promise not to run?”  There was no response except for Blair’s ragged breathing which sounded like sobs to the detective’s ears.  “Come on, Chief.  Take it easy.  I just need to talk to you, okay?  If you still want to leave after that, I won’t stop you.  But please, talk to me.”

Slowly, Jim slid off and sat on his knees beside the prone body of his friend.  Sandburg lay on his stomach as he had fallen, but his breathing was calming and his heart no longer sounded as if it was about to explode out of his chest.  Jim carefully squeezed the arm nearest him and then gently pulled on it to try to get Blair into a sitting position.  Finally, after a bit of tugging, the detective was able to prop his friend semi-upright against him.  Realizing he was leaning against the sentinel, Blair moved as if to distance himself, but Jim grabbed his arms and kept him close to his side.  “Easy, easy, Blair.  It’s okay.  Everything’s alright.”  Jim continued to talk softly and soothingly, all the while keeping a firm hold on the trembling man.

After several minutes of whispered assurances, Blair eventually turned his head towards the soft voice of his friend.  Dark blue eyes sought light ones and as Jim watched, a tear slowly worked its way down the cheek of his guide.  Not knowing what else to do, Jim reached up and brushed the tear away with the side of his hand.  He then pushed the shortened locks from the dearly loved face and sighed, “Oh God, Blair, it’s really you?  After all this time you’re here.  Don’t you know how much I missed you?  How hard it is to do this without you?”  With those softly spoken words the last of Blair’s defenses eroded and he was in the arms of his sentinel.  Jim pulled him in tightly and breathed in the scent of his guide while his hand continued to stroke through the damp curls.  The sentinel shut his eyes tightly and burned this image of his friend into memory, absorbing the essence that was his guide, his partner, his friend, his brother.

There was no telling how much time had passed when Jim finally held the weary Sandburg away from him and said in a cracking voice that conveyed his emotion, “We better get up from here before I have to explain an arrest for lewd public behavior to Simon.”  Blair ran a shaking hand over his face and then smiled quietly back up at Jim. 

Drawing a deep breath, Jim asked hesitantly, “Will you come home, buddy?  I’m not going to force you or anything, but I really wish you’d come home.” 

The anthropologist met Jim’s imploring gaze almost shyly and fumbled with the worn gloves on his hands in a nervous manner which seemed ill at ease and awkward.  Jim felt the surge of warmth that such disarming gestures often produced in him when he watched Sandburg from a protective role.  Long moments later there was finally a quietly spoken response, “I think I’d like to come back, Jim.  If you’ll let me.”

Not realizing he had been holding his breath as he had waited, Jim released a sigh that was tangible evidence of his relief.  He stood and reached down to his friend, offering a hand to help him up.  Blair grasped his hand and Jim pulled him to his feet.  They stood apart for a second, each lost in his own thoughts, then Jim gently put his arm around the younger man’s shoulders and said, “Let’s get you home, then.  You need to get in some dry clothes and eat.  Everything’s okay now....it’s all okay.”


The times that life treats you kindly can often be counted on one hand because so often things don’t quite measure up to anticipation.  Or worse, the pain of unrealized dreams can haunt you like an unacknowledged spectre, refusing to leave you in the peaceful bliss of ignorance.  When life’s kindnesses are finally meant for you, they should be cherished and studied like seashells of infinite beauty, sides worn smooth by travels through the ocean’s water so that each one is unique and mysterious, all the more treasured because they came to *you.*

Looking at his friend hunched over in a bundle of blankets on the couch, Jim couldn’t help feel a sense of wonder.  While Jim was preparing soup, Blair had taken a long shower, dressed in flannel and sweats, then had gone to sit in his customary position in front of the television.  It wasn’t long before he had captured the afghan and pulled it around himself, but Jim had still seen the shivers which shook the younger man as he stared off in the distance.  With a concerned sigh, the detective had taken the blanket off of the futon in Sandburg’s room and tucked it around his friend’s gaunt frame.

Although the shivers decreased, Jim could still see a slight tremor from time to time as he watched Sandburg from the kitchen.  It seemed as if his preoccupation with his friend being cold had been valid and he doubted if the younger man would be capable of feeling safe and warm for awhile.  Jim poured the soup in a mug, grabbed a spoon, and approached the couch.  Blair continued to stare into space, not even glancing at the television which, although on, had the sound turned down sentinel low. 

Seating himself on the coffee table, Jim quietly pulled his guide’s attention back.  “Hey, Chief, you with me here?  How about something warm to eat?  Could you eat some soup for me?”

Sandburg’s eyes finally turned to his friend and lost some of their dull glaze.  Rather than answer, he just looked at Jim as if trying to catalog some new information.  Eventually, Jim reached over and put Blair’s hands around the mug.  “Come on, kid.  You aren’t going to get warm until you eat and get some rest.  You looked like you were dead on your feet out there.”

Suddenly, Blair blinked and looked at Jim with eyes held wide.  “In a way, I guess I was.  You found me, Jim.  I couldn’t help myself.  I kept coming back even though I *knew* you would know I was out there.  I knew that I would end up back here, but I was afraid, you know.  I’m not the same as I was Jim, I haven’t been the same for a long time now.”  Blair shuddered as he spoke and Jim reached over to rub his arm.

“Hey, buddy.  It’s okay.  You and I need to talk. I know that and I’m not going to go away, throw you out or put you off.  But right now you need to eat and get some sleep.”  Blair slowly began eating the soup as Jim gave his arm a final pat and went back to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee and something for his own supper. 

Tonight would be a long one, he suspected.  This was not a time for sleep, since every sentinel protective instinct he had was on alert.  It was a welcome sensation however and as he poured the coffee and made a sandwich he watched his guide.  Before Jim made his way back with his coffee and food, the anthropologist was beginning to nod off, mug balanced precariously in his hands.  Quickly setting his own food aside, Jim grabbed the mug and put it on the table.  Gently, he pulled the kid over on the couch, placing a throw pillow under his head, and tucked the afghan and blanket tightly around him.  Sandburg was sound asleep in seconds.

As he watched his guide sleep, it occurred to Jim that he really should call Simon and let him know this latest development.  As he conversed with his captain on the phone, he could tell Simon was awe struck that the young man was back, but was more than willing to let the anthropologist get his bearings before coming to see him.  Hearing the relief in Simon’s voice compelled Jim to issue a warning.

“I need to tell you, sir, he’s not the same.  Some of it’s pretty obvious, but there seems to be something going on in that head of his, too.  I think we might need to do some repair work here.  He’s going to need our help, Simon.  I can pretty much guarantee that.”

Simon’s voice was emotional when he finally replied.  “I’ve *felt* for awhile that we might have to do some things differently if we got him back, Jim.  Remember, I’ve had to think about how we all fit into the sentinel picture, too.  I just know that the kid is valuable and we’ll do what we have to do in order to get him back with us.  I don’t know exactly how, but I think it will all be okay.”

Jim chuckled softly into the phone, “I’ve been telling him that since I found him.  It’s all going to be okay.  If both of us think that, as hard headed as we are, it’s gotta be true, right?”

“It has to be, Jim.  I want to come by and talk to the kid.  I’ll give you a call before I head over there in the morning.  Just take care of him, Jim.”

“Consider it done, Simon.  If he thinks I’ve given him the big brother treatment before....”  They both disconnected with a smile.


Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing.  There is a time for silence.  A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny.  And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.––Gloria Naylor

Jim sat on the floor beside the couch and let the emotions of the last few hours catch up with him.  Listening to the familiar heartbeat and the quiet breathing of his guide, he felt a calm descend he hadn’t known in months.  Jim had not exaggerated when he had told Blair how much he missed him, but with his return came new mysteries. Even his changed physical appearance brought forth multitudes of questions.  Questions that demanded answers, but also required care and tolerance.  Jim might have been led to Blair instinctively, but he knew Blair had made himself open to such discovery.  He had practically said so himself.  Jim knew that if Blair had not wanted to be found, he would never have found him.  Yet there were issues and Jim could only speculate how they impacted his young friend.  Memory loss, guilt and fear were all things that singly would set most men back for some time.  But Blair Sandburg was not most men. 

Jim’s attention was brought back to the couch when he heard a slight movement.  Jim sat up on his knees to check on Blair and felt a rush of emotion at the sight.  Blair’s hair tumbled about his face in short curls still damp from his earlier shower.  His face shone with the slight sweat of deep sleep and in his left ear glinted two silver earrings, something Jim hadn’t seen in quite a long time.  Yeah, there were some things that would need to be resolved here.  Life was not going to proceed in the nice orderly manner that he had once enjoyed and would soon be taking some interesting detours for all of them.  Slowly and carefully, Jim smoothed a few of the errant curls behind Blair’s ear as he marveled at the return of his friend.  Perhaps there was more mercy in the world than Jim could imagine, a mercy that would extend to his friend and himself.  Mercy for those who dared to be merciful.

The End

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Monday May 10 2010
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