Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

The Chains That Bind

by Arnie

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Blair choked as Lash let go of his jaw, then turned his head to spit the sedative out, hoping, fervently, that he hadn't swallowed enough of it to affect him. Jim's sudden arrival had distracted Lash and now, sitting in a dentist's chair, trussed up like a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, all Blair could do was watch the pair of them destroy Lash's lair as they fought.

Blair remembered, in a vague, dream-like sort of way, being carried down the stairs over Lash's shoulder. He'd felt confused at who was holding him, who was carrying him with such apparent ease. But, watching Jim's struggle to overcome the psychotic serial killer, Blair realised that Lash was far, far stronger than he looked. Maybe there was something in that old adage about insanity giving strength.

The pair moved in front of him, locked in each other's arms in some kind of macabre dance, then fell. The window smashed, and the pair disappeared from Blair's sight as the floor they landed on gave way.

Blair's cry of denial was lost in the sounds of more crashing and he strained his ears, wishing, not for the first time, that he had his Sentinel's amazing ability to hear for miles.

The sound of gunshots made him jump and Blair's breath caught in his throat. Jim's gun was on the floor. He could see it, kicked to one side in the frantic struggle he'd witnessed earlier.

Jim's gun was on the floor.

Blair's thoughts seemed to stutter to a halt, then slowly start up again. Another gun...Jim had to have another gun on him, right? Didn't cops carry one? Or was that just in movies? Damn it!

Rocking slightly in his chains with frustration, Blair cursed himself. He should know these things - Jim was his Sentinel; he needed to know things like this. But there'd been so many questions, and not enough time to ask them all.

Footsteps on the stairs caught his attention and he listened intently, hearing the steps falter then carefully avoid the broken step.

Lash. Lash was coming back. And that meant that Jim was dead.

Tears filled his eyes as he wrenched at his shackles, struggling to break free. Jim was dead. Shaking his head, Blair fought harder. If he was going to die, he might as well have died without Jim coming to the rescue; without his Sentinel sacrificing his life in a vain attempt to save Blair's.

And the worst of it was, Lash would never understand who and what he'd killed.

His pathetic attempts to impersonate his victims couldn't give him an understanding of them. And no matter how long he spent claiming to be Jim Ellison, moving like a shadow through the routines of Jim's life, none of it could give Lash the merest glimmer of the man he'd destroyed.

Jim Ellison: Sentinel, Ranger, cop. Best friend.

How could Lash understand the need to protect that had driven Jim? All Lash knew was how to destroy. Even when Jim's senses had first returned, forcing him to seek medical help, Blair had seen the fear that Jim hid so well. The fear that he wouldn't be able to do his job; wouldn't be able to protect his people in his city.

Blair's grief settled like a cold, hard stone in his chest. It wasn't going to end like this. Jim's sacrifice wasn't going to be wasted, and Blair's life wasn't going to end before he could tell the world of the miraculous, amazing person that Jim Ellison - cop and Sentinel - had been.

He could barely see Lash as the serial killer moved in front of him, hands reaching out as he crooned reassuring noises once more. As those loathsome hands touched him, Blair hurled himself forward, knocking the figure back. Landing on the floor with a crash, Blair fought his restraints, screaming all his rage and grief at the killer who had destroyed the best man Blair had ever known. If it was the last thing Blair did, he'd drag Lash down to Hell himself and stuff him in a fiery furnace to burn forever.

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Shaking his head to clear some of the dust that Blair's crash-landing had raised, Jim grabbed the struggling figure and wrapped his arms around him. "It's all right, Sandburg. It's me!"

Jim hadn't wanted to admit that the kid had got to him so much. But, when Lash dared to enter their home and kidnap Blair, Jim had been filled with a fury he'd never known before. He knew he was slightly territorial; he didn't need Blair's constant analysing to tell him that, but this was more than a reaction to his territory being invaded.

Now, his arms wrapped around his friend as Blair's grief raged, Jim had to admit that he cared about Blair. Not just as that annoying, grungy student who ate weird things, talked a hellova lot and helped Jim out with his senses, but also as a replacement for Steven. Somehow, that talkative, slightly odd know-it-all had eased the sting that Steven's betrayal had left behind. And Jim hadn't even realised it, until today.

No one would have grieved for him as much as Blair was grieving for him now.

Tightening his arms, Jim rocked his best friend, murmuring, "It's all right, Chief. Lash is dead. You're safe," over and over, in an endless litany of comfort.

He didn't know how long it took before Blair's adrenalin faded and the screamed hatred fizzled into a hitched-breath quiet that allowed him to hear the reassurance being offered.

"Jim?"

Blair's voice was hoarse, and Jim wasn't surprised.

"That's me, buddy."

The figure twisted, and Jim knew Blair needed to see his face; to reassure himself that this wasn't one of Lash's tricks. Loosening his grip, he moved Blair around and grinned at him.

The kid looked a mess.

Shock covered Blair's face as his fingers scrabbled to grab Jim's coat and hold on. "Jim! I - I thought -"

"It's okay." Listening, Jim was aware of the sounds of a search party getting closer. Simon sounded anxious, and Jim knew it wasn't just because of him. The kid had gotten to Simon too - although Simon would have died rather than admit it. In any case, it wouldn't be long before someone spotted the fading light of the candles and came to check the warehouse over.

Using his sleeve, Jim wiped off Blair's face, leaving a smear of dust instead of the tears, although he couldn't do much about the blotchy complexion that betrayed the torment Blair had gone through. Not because of Lash and his insane plan to kill Blair and take his place - as if anyone could replace Blair - but because Blair had thought that Jim was dead. Despite the panic Blair had to have been feeling, he'd held himself together until then.

Swallowing down the lump in his throat, Jim asked, "What say we get you out of those chains?"

Blair smiled, though the shocked disbelief that it could all end so well was still evident. "That'd be good." As Jim got up, his aching body protesting the movement, Blair added, "Bondage has never been my thing."

"Too much information, Sandburg!" Jim retorted, glad to see a hint of Blair's normal personality returning. Finding a bunch of keys among the trophies that Lash had collected from his victims, Jim knelt down and began working out how to break Blair free from the mass of chains surrounding him. "Jesus, Sandburg, Lash must have thought you were the Incredible Hulk to need this many chains."

Blair's breath hitched, and Jim looked up.

"He's not coming back, Chief; he's dead. You can take my word for that."

Nodding, Blair took an unsteady breath. "You've got a back-up gun, haven't you, Jim?"

"Yeah." Jim frowned in surprise, wondering where Blair's thought processes had taken him this time. "I always carry one." Glancing up again, Jim could see that embarrassment was taking the place of relief. Keeping his eyes on Blair's face, Jim told him, "You did good, Chief."

He saw the surprise that flickered before being hidden, Blair's eyes skittering away to avoid his gaze. "I - uh. -"

"You did good," Jim repeated firmly. "You kept him off balance. Kept yourself alive until I got here." Thank God, Jim added mentally.

An uncertain smile settled on Blair's face. "Yeah?"

"Yeah." Jim unlocked the last padlock and dropped the chain on the floor. "Now let's get out of here before Simon storms the building looking for us."

The End

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