Disclaimer: The Characters of The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, The SciFi channel and others. No copyright infringement is intended.

Dedication: To all those who lost their lives in the attack of September 11, 2001 and for those who loved them. For all those in the U.S. and around the world who were touched by this senseless tragedy.

The song is by Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar, and Jai Winding.

9/11/01

by JET

********************

The loft was dark and quiet.

Too quiet.

Outside even the weather seemed to weep. An unexpected downpour had darkened the city of Cascade and robbed the loft of its usual brilliant light in a mournfully appropriate gesture of grief.

Softly, Jim Ellison pulled the door shut behind him. Somehow, even the sound of the closing door seemed too much for his rattled nerves to endure on this day.

Unfortunately, his emotions were the one thing the sentinel couldn't dial down.

The only light eclipsing the darkness were the candles. Dozens of candles in all shapes and sizes, casting their flickering light from tables and shelves throughout the loft. Their scents, carefully chosen for their compatibility with a sentinel's delicate senses, wrapped the loft in an aroma that immediately spoke to Jim of home.

His guide was here. Jim had been worried about his compassionate partner, concerned that Blair was facing the horrific events of the morning alone. A large part of Jim's soul warmed slightly as he caught sight of the shadowy silhouette standing so still, so silently at the wide windows.

Yet, a larger segment of his heart remained frozen, as it had been since a few minutes after 9:00 AM EST this day. Jim had been on an all night solo stake-out up the coastal highway, cut off from the news until he returned to the station a little after ten o'clock, Cascade time. By then, the news of the tragedy was four hours old. September 11, 2001.

A day that would truly live in infamy.

If Blair heard his approach, the younger man gave no sign. He never moved. Never spoke. Just stood motionless as he stared out through the rain, shoulders bent sadly as if he felt the weight of far more than his years.

Moving to stand behind him, Jim could literally feel the waves of anguish radiating from the slim body. As much as he ached for the nameless victims he'd never known, Jim Ellison hurt almost as deeply for the grief of his best friend.

Without conscious thought, responding purely on instinct, Jim offered the only comfort available at that moment in his limited repertoire. Powerful arms wrapped around his guide, drawing him to rest against his broad chest.

Almost immediately, Blair sank back heavily into the warm embrace. His body trembled slightly once...twice...and was still.

Long minutes ticked by without words. Only the sound of the rain falling like tears broke the silence. Resting his chin atop the soft curls and listening to his friend's labored breathing, Jim Ellison struggled with the heaviness in his own heart.

From somewhere on the street below, a haunting melody and words drifted up to the sentinel's ears.

Harry got up
Dressed all in black
Went down to the station
And he never came back.
They found his clothing
Scattered somewhere down the track,
And he won't be down on Wall Street
in the morning

He had a home,
The love of a girl.
But men get lost sometimes
As years unfurl.
One day he crossed some line
And he was too much in this world.
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore.

In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute,
Things can get pretty strange.
In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute...

Lying here in the darkness,
I hear the sirens wail.
Somebody going to emergency.
Somebody's going to jail.
If you find somebody to love in this world,
You better hang on tooth and nail.
The wolf is always at the door.

In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute,
Things can get a little strange.
In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute...

A few blocks away, the simultaneous wails of two discordant sirens cut through the heavy air with the mercilessness of a blade. The sharp dissonance immediately stabbed at the sentinel's sensitive ears, but he resolutely refused to dial down the sound, taking an odd pleasure in the pain.

The physical discomfort felt right somehow.

Drawing a deep, shuddering breath, Jim tightened his arms around his best friend. Holding the warmth of life so close against him only brought home the reality of its fragility.

A soft, tremulous voice broke the silence.

"Why?"

A single word, yet laden with an unanswerable sorrow.

Slipping slowly down the sentinel's face, a solitary tear dropped unhindered to dampen the chestnut hair. With a ragged sigh, Jim rested his cheek heavily on top of the head tucked beneath his chin.

Jim had known for years that he would give Sandburg anything. The shirt off his back. His undying loyalty and protection.

His very life.

Blair had but to ask.

On this day, however, Jim Ellison had nothing to give, no comfort to offer beyond the shelter of his own arms.

He had no answers.

It hadn't been his city. A continent away and certainly not his protectorate at all.

So why did he feel a deep sense of regret, as if he had failed somehow?

The words when they came were close to a whisper and laden with emotion. "I don't know, Chief. I just don't know."

Inside the warmth of the loft, two friends searched their souls in the darkness for some measure of peace. Outside, beyond the glow of the candles, the heavens cried, a nation grieved, and a world reeled on its axis in shock.

Each knowing only that nothing would ever be the same.

And in these days
When darkness falls early,
And people rush home
To the ones they love,
You better take a fool's advice
And take care of your own.
One day they're here;
Next day they're gone

I pulled my coat around my shoulders
And took a walk down through the park.
The leaves were falling around me,
The groaning city in the gathering dark.
On some solitary rock
A desperate lover left his mark,
"Baby, I've changed. Please come back."

What the head makes cloudy,
The heart makes very clear.
The days were so much brighter
In the time when you were here.
But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe...
I believe, I believe...

In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute,
You can get out of the rain.
In a New York minute,
Everything can change.
In a New York minute...

Pax...

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