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.

Warning: This deals with self-mutilation.

I Will Not Cry

By Paula C

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

I will not cry. I will not cry. Blair repeated this mantra in his mind as he left Major Crimes.

If a day could get any worse for him he thought he might just take Jim's gun and end it there for good.

Taking the stairs to the garage, avoiding things that he was weary of, such as elevators, he walked out onto the street. He couldn't find a parking spot in the garage so he had to take several extra minutes to park down the block, away from the station.

Yes, he had been late for the noted meeting in Major Crimes. Yes, he had an excuse on why he was late. He did try to call but he couldn't find an actual person to talk to in the department, he did leave five messages if anyone bothered to check their voice mails. He noted this to Simon as he tried to explain, but Simon would not hear any of it. With the foul mood in the air, it was best that he went home. 'Let us do what cops do Sandburg,' he remembered Simon telling him.

With a sigh he sat behind the wheel of his car and wondered if it was worth it. If he was worthy of trying to be like them. They never gave him credit beyond the moment. He was getting tired of proving himself over and over.

I will not cry.

~little boys don't cry~ a female voice from his past entered his mind.

~what are you? A sissy?~ an older boy had taunted him

Blair shook his head, trying to keep the past demons away.

I will not cry.

Driving home, his loneliness clung to him, growing from its normal small feeling to becoming overwhelming. He had seen the disappointment in Jim's face when he arrived late. Sometimes University students have to skew time a bit to make things fit for everyone. But they had wanted him in the briefing, which now, he had totally missed when he made it into Major Crimes. People had their assignments, and there was none for him. Simon would watch Jim's back. He wasn't needed.

After breaking from the meeting Jim shook his head and told him to, "Go home."

"I'm sorry Jim, I couldn't get away on time. I tried to call."

Jim turned and looked straight at him, "Go home. I'll be home late if everything works out the way it should. Simon will watch my back."

Blair nodded, feeling the vibes from his friend. "Right, home. I can do that." Picking up his backpack he escaped to face his own demons.

So now he drove home feeling small. He wondered, seriously, if he disappeared would anyone really miss him. Deep down miss him. Did he, Blair Sandburg, make a difference to anyone?

~You're not needed here.~ Simon's voice came to him.

~If Naomi didn't have you around, she would be living it up.~ Clark's deep voice echoed through his mind.

Blair parked in front of the converted warehouse and turned off the engine. He wondered sometimes if people ever thought about him. Oh they saw him, commented about him, but no one ever looked deep down. Jim knew some things, but he never quite got to the inner core, even after a year of living together.

He hated feeling like this. He felt lost, losing control of what was around him. He looked at his hands on the steering wheel, seeing the slight shake in them. Where did Blair go to talk about his problems?

Nowhere.

Grabbing his backpack, he locked up his car and headed up to the loft.

Blair dropped his keys into the basket and headed to his room. Dropping his pack onto his bed, he emptied his pockets onto his desk. He fingered his Swiss Army Knife before adding it to the pile of coins and junk.

Memories of what he had done with the knife in the past came to him. It had been some time since he had done it. When he felt alone, like when he had lived in the dorms in his undergrad years and no one noticed him. Or when he lived in the huge warehouse, making him feel small in its large empty space.

He moved away from his desk. He couldn't do it, not now.

He needed a shower. Finding a pair of clean sweats from the clean pile he had yet to put away, he shucked his shoes and headed for the bathroom.

Turning on the taps in the shower, he started stripping while the warm water cascaded in the shower. Taking a moment to look at himself in the mirror he still wondered about himself. He rarely liked looking at himself. He wasn't vain and though that he was below average for looks. He was short and felt small compared to Jim who he thought was a woman's dream

Blair looked down at his arms, seeing the tiny imperfections that no one else had bothered to see. He made sure others didn't see them, wearing long sleeves to keep them hidden from intruding eyes.

He stepped into the shower, letting the warm water rush over him, warming him on the surface, while his inside still felt cold. He tried to forget, but the little voices kept nagging at him, reminding him of his flaws.

I will not cry. he kept repeating to himself.

~ Simon will watch my back~ Jim's voice came back to him

~Mr. Sandburg, it's come to my attention that you are past due once more in your paper.~ Dr. Mathis from the dissertation committee

~I don't want to see you anymore Blair~ Linda, becoming another flavor of the week

Blair turned his head to the water, letting it flow over his face.

One by one, they leave my side.

One by one, I am left to my own.

Turning off the water, he reached for his towel and started drying himself off. Dressed in the soft old sweats, he returned to his room. He eyed the Swiss Army knife once more. He picked it up, fingering it. Old habits die hard.

He had to be careful. Jim would be able to smell his blood in the loft. He looked around, wondering where he could go. It had to be someplace away from the apartment. Thinking, he came to an answer, the roof.

Putting on socks and tennis shoes, he went to the end of the hall and up the small stairway that led to the warehouse's flat roof. Lodging the brick by the door to keep it open, he stepped out onto the roof.

He settled to sit sheltered by the brick wall that surrounded the stairs. He looked to see that the sun was beginning its decent into the ocean beyond. Falling into its own abyss of darkness.

I will not cry.

Looking down at his knife, he opened the blade. How did I get to this point again? He pulled up his sleeve and looked at his bare arm. He could see some of the old cuts, it had been some time since he had done this.

He brought the point to his arm and started to drag it across the surface. He had tried to be friends with everyone. Why did they push him away? Leaving him alone, alone with his thoughts. Didn't they know what he was capable of? He pulled the knife down his arm, cutting a four-inch line. He watched as the blood came to the surface.

I will not cry.

He cut another line beside the first. The physical pain was welcomed. He nearly sighed when the first shock came to him. Tears came to his eyes as he felt the pain with each new break of the skin. Each cut brought pain, and with that pain; it helped him release the pressure within him, letting him cry.

As the blood flowed from his cuts on his arms, the tears flowed from his eyes.

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

The bust had gone sour. The major players moved their meet and they couldn't move fast enough to change positions. Simon was pissed, as was the rest of the group. All that planning and come up empty was not what they intended for the evening.

Jim pulled into his normal spot and got out of his truck. He looked over to see that Blair's Corvair was parked where it should be. He was glad to see that the kid did come home, not going back to the university or somewhere else getting himself into trouble or worse, crashing the undercover operation. He didn't need to worry about him with so many other demands on him.

Getting out of his truck, he honed his senses onto his roommate, searching for his heartbeat, his beacon for home. It was out of rhythm. Moving to the stairs, he climbed them quickly. He stopped in front of the loft door and realized that his Guide was not in the apartment. Turning his head, he searched out where Blair was, above him, on the roof. Jim made his way to the steps that led up to the roof.

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

Blair took the fresh towel and wrapped it around his arm, putting slight pressure on it to stem the flow.

It had felt good to cry, letting out the feelings he had bottled up within him. No one understood him, making jokes about why he was.

With the sun slowly descending, darkness fell over the roof. Leaving him alone to his thoughts, and the pain.

The stinging of the cuts remained, making him feel alive, alive to feel again. He pulled the towel back looking at what he had done.

No one would know. Wearing his long sleeve Henley's shirts and flannels were good at hiding him as well as keeping him warm.

He dabbed once more at the cuts, seeing that they had stopped. All he needed was to cleanse them and bandage them up before Jim got home, he would never suspect a thing.

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

Jim stepped onto the roof, looking for Blair. Sensing him around the corner, Jim moved quickly to find him. He found Blair, sitting on the roof.

"Chief? What are you doing up here?" Jim rarely had seen Blair come up on the roof, his fear of heights and all.

Blair looked up at Jim, quickly pulling down his sleeve of his sweatshirt. Shit. Blair looked away from Jim, hoping he couldn't tell what had just happened.

A smell came to Jim, blood, the blood of his guide. Starting to panic, Jim picked Blair up by the front of his shirt to stand before him. "Who hurt you? Why are you up here?"

"No one hurt me," Blair tried to convey to his roommate.

Jim took his hand and pushed the sleeve that Blair had just pulled down. He looked at the cuts on Blair's arm.

Blair tried to breathe, a panic attack forthcoming. Jim had found him in the act of hurting himself. He tried to pull his arm out of Jim's hold. "Jim ... let go, please?"

"Who did this?" Jim asked again.

"No one." Blair answered, "Please Jim."

Jim let go of his arm and looked at the younger man, not understating what was going on. "You did this?" He couldn't believe that Blair was capable of causing undue pain onto himself.

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I " Blair stopped and turned his face away form Jim's concerned gaze. He couldn't say, not here on the roof.

Jim realized he wasn't going to get any answers in the dark on the roof. He took Blair by his shoulders and steered him to the steps.

Blair let himself be guided down the stairs and to their door. Entering the loft, Jim sat him down at the kitchen table. Finding the first aid kit, Jim returned to Blair.

Settling at the table, Jim started to clean, then disinfect the cuts that riddled Blair's arm. Jim held his tongue as he worked. He heard the intake of air as he spread the disinfectant but Blair said nothing as he watched Jim take care of his arm.

Jim wrapped the heavy gauze around the arm then taped it solid.

Blair pulled his arm back to him and pulled down the sleeve. He never looked up from the table, to look at Jim.

"Why?" Jim asked. "Why cut yourself?"

Blair let his fingers make pretend designs on the table. Finally he answered Jim's question, "to feel."

"Feel what?"

"Pain." Blair sighed then finally looked up. "The pain tells me I'm here, ya know? It reminds me I'm alive."

"Why do you have to be reminded that you're alive?" Jim noticed the dry streaks on Blair's face, streaks from crying.

"Because people have a tendency to forget about me. Ever wonder if anyone would miss you if you suddenly disappeared?"

Jim shook his head, he had never come to thoughts like that. Jim was aware of Blair's low self-esteem. He thought they had gotten past that. Today had shaken his partner; he had to understand what had happened. "Why were you on the roof?"

Blair looked down again, his hair obscuring Jim's view of his face again. "So you wouldn't find out. If I did it here, you would have smelt the blood. I couldn't let you find out."

"That you cut?"

Blair nodded.

"Why not?"

Blair looked up, "I hadn't done if for a long time. Things just got overwhelming today, and I wanted to cry but I can't cry."

"Why not Blair?" Jim reached over to touch Blair's cheek.

Blair shook his head.

"Why cut then? What do you get out of it?"

"I feel pain. I need to feel, feel the pain, the pain I felt in here." Blair pointed to his heart.

"How long?"

"I don't do it all the time Jim." Blair looked at Jim. "I hadn't done it since living in the warehouse. "

Jim ran his hand through his short hair, trying to understand what was going on with Blair.

"How long have you been doing this?"

"Cutting?" Jim nodded. "Since I was sixteen." He pulled out his knife, and fingered it. "Things can be overwhelming to a sixteen year old freshman. I would find a dark, safe place and cut into my arm. The pain let me cry, I felt so alone at Rainier."

Jim saw the pattern here.

"Cry?"

Blair nodded, "Men don't cry, or at least that is what others have told me, other than Naomi of course."

Jim had heard the message that Blair had left on his voice mail, showing that Blair did try to get in touch with him earlier. Even Simon had mentioned that Blair had tried to call and circumstances were just against him.

"I'm sorry about what happened at the PD."

Blair shrugged. "Happens, man."

Jim watched Blair for a second and saw that there was still something unresolved in his friend. Being troubled, Jim realized that he needed to help Blair. He stood up and then had Blair stand.

"What?"

"Follow me."

Jim took him to the sofa and sat down. He pulled Blair to sit on his lap.

"What are you doing?" Blair asked.

"Giving you my support. Trying to make you feel that you are not alone any longer."

Jim pulled Blair's head down to rest on his shoulder. Jim held him close for a few minutes.

/I will not cry./ Blair repeated in his mind. /I will not cry/

But a tear did come, followed by another. Blair allowed himself to cry, without creating the pain. He allowed himself to feel and to know that someone did care about him.

Jim held on to his friend, giving the best support he could, sanctuary to feel.

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