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.

Instincts

by Arnie

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

Blair turned over and buried his face in the pillow, ignoring the protest from his badly used ribs. Sleep was beyond him. His body was exhausted, but his mind...his mind kept on turning over and over. Jim, the fountain, Alex, Jim, Sierra Verde, the Temple, Jim. Sighing, he rolled over again and stared up through the darkness to the ceiling above him. Jim. Whatever he thought of, his mind brought him back to Jim.

He'd forgiven him, really he had, and he understood that Jim hadn't been able to cope with the mixed signals he was receiving - not only as a friend, but as a Sentinel. It was just...did Jim want him back in the loft and as his Guide, or was it guilt? Sighing again, and noticing the wheeze of his lungs as he did so, Blair turned onto his side and shut his eyes determinedly. He was going to sleep. He wasn't going to think about this.

He wasn't going to wonder when Jim would throw him out again, this time for good.

A thousand 'if only's ran through his mind. If only he'd told Jim about Alex, maybe that would have headed off the total breakdown between them. If only he hadn't gone to his office at Rainier, maybe that would have stopped Alex...no. Blair shook his head. Alex had been determined to kill him knowing that that would distract Jim long enough for her to get those gas canisters out of the country.

He snorted softly and smiled. How ironic. She'd nearly destroyed their friendship but she had been the one who'd known that killing Blair would destroy Jim - in spite of that shattered trust. His...death had brought them back together, shocking Jim out of his previous attitude.

Of course, that had been before they got to Sierra Verde, and Jim and Alex had started making out on the beach.

Blair sighed again, ignoring the rattle and wheeze, and turned over once more, ignoring the pain in his ribs. Jim and Alex. His mind told him it had been a Sentinel thing - put one male Sentinel and one female Sentinel together and bam! Instant attraction. His heart though...if Blair was honest with himself, his heart felt betrayed that Jim had wanted to be with Blair's murderer. *Attempted* murderer, he reminded himself. If she'd succeeded, you wouldn't be lying in bed, trying to get comfortable, debating Sentinel instincts at, he raised his head and glared at the clock as if blaming it for his wakefulness, two in the morning.

Repressing the urge to groan, he rolled over again, then threw the blankets back. If he was awake, he might as well get some writing done. Turning on his lamp, he grabbed his laptop and settled down on the edge of the bed. Opening his notebook, he found his last notes to be full of Alex and he froze. He couldn't do this right now.

Later. It'll be fine later.

Shutting the notebook and dropping it quietly by the bed, he turned on his laptop and started a game of FreeCell. Maybe some Patience would calm his mind.

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

Jim listened as Sandburg turned over in bed again, the sighing and wheezing of the ill-treated lungs reaching his ears clearly. Shutting his eyes he cursed himself and his damn instincts. Later, he'd realised that he'd subconsciously known there was another Sentinel around, and he'd reacted. Badly.

He'd shut Sandburg out...he'd shut his Guide out...and he'd chucked him out as well. Naturally, Alex had taken advantage of that and had drowned the police observer whom she considered to be a very dangerous loose end. She'd also used Jim's attachment to said loose end to keep him busy while she absconded with two canisters of lethal gas.

My attachment. Jim shook his head. He was attached to Sandburg, in more ways than one. The exuberant grad student had saved his sanity by helping him control the senses that were driving him mad, and had also saved Jim from being the human icicle he'd become after losing his team-mates in Peru. Of course, with the return of those repressed emotions came the fear of betrayal, and he'd finally snapped under that fear and made Blair pay the price. The wheeze of Sandburg's breathing underscored that thought.

Hearing the click of a lamp, Jim zeroed in on the room downstairs. The notebook rustled, then shut abruptly, before being tossed aside. There was a few seconds' pause then Jim heard Sandburg's laptop start up. Maybe he's going to write about how stupid male Sentinels get when confronted with a female Sentinel. Listening, Jim realised that Sandburg wasn't typing at all. Patience. He's playing Patience...probably FreeCell. Damn.

Jim considered getting out of bed and going downstairs to try to help Sandburg sort out his thoughts, but he didn't. After how he'd acted, he really didn't think Sandburg would want him barging in in the middle of the night, regardless of how many times he'd done that very thing before. Sometimes to talk, sometimes to quiet one of Sandburg's nightmares... sometimes to seek reassurance after a nightmare of his own - usually involving Sandburg's death. Now that's irony.

Shutting his eyes, Jim wished he could shut his heart against the overwhelming emotions. He'd screwed up. He knew that. He knew that Sandburg knew that. He just wasn't sure if the kid wanted him to try to put things straight.

Turning on his side, he dialled his hearing down, letting the sounds from Sandburg's room fade into oblivion. Maybe they could talk in the morning. Maybe.

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

The panther roared angrily and Jim opened his eyes, not really surprised to see the lush jungle instead of his bedroom. Sitting up, he pushed himself into a standing position and turned to see the stalking panther. Its tail lashed as it saw the Sentinel, and Jim frowned. If his own spirit guide was pissed off at him, things were bad.

The panther stalked towards the edge of the clearing, turning its head back as if to make sure the man was following. Obediently, and almost hopefully, Jim followed. He wasn't going to ignore his spirit guide's advice again.

Pushing his way through the jungle behind the pacing cat, Jim wasn't surprised to see another clearing up ahead. In the middle lay the wolf. Its head was down, resting on its paws, but it was awake. As the panther and Jim made their way into the clearing it raised its head, then put it back down as the cat paced around, stalking back and forth, lashing its tail, but not attempting to approach the quiet animal. Squatting at the edge of the clearing, Jim gazed into the animal's eyes. The wolf looked lost, alone...uncertain. And above all, bone weary.

The panther roared again, its fury rattling the trees as it lashed itself with its tail. Turning it stared into Jim's eyes, and beneath the anger Jim saw the same loneliness, the same uncertainty.

"I know." Barely aware that he'd spoken, Jim stiffened as the animal leapt for him, the black shadow disappearing inside him.

The jungle disappeared and the Sentinel's eyes snapped open. His Guide needed him, needed comfort, but above all, needed sleep. Pushing back the blankets that covered him, the Sentinel swung his feet to the floor and made his way to the stairs.

Inside, Jim was aware that he was moving towards Sandburg's room, but he was content to let the Sentinel take over. Sometimes you just had to go with your instincts.

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

Blair looked up as he heard Jim start down the stairs. For a few seconds his hand hovered over the lamp. He was tempted to hide, to turn off the light and hope Jim would take that as a signal for 'not now', but he wasn't sure what he wanted. His hand fell as the door was pushed open and he looked up into Jim's intent face.

"Jim?" Turning off the laptop and pushing it to one side, Blair considered the look on Jim's face as the man headed towards the bed. He couldn't be zoning, he was walking, yet there was no reaction to Blair's query at all. In a flash Blair thought he had the answer - sleepwalking. Standing, Blair reached out his hand to gently touch the Sentinel, hoping to bring him back from whatever dream had him in its grasp, instead the Sentinel's fingers locked around the outstretched wrist and tugged him towards the door.

Blair frowned as he followed his friend. He was sure this couldn't be sleepwalking. "Jim? What are you doing?"

There was silence as he was pulled into the darkness of the loft leaving the brightness of his room behind.

"Uh...Jim...I can't see."

There was still no verbal answer, but the taller man turned to slide one arm around Blair's waist and urge him forward again. Tripping on the step, Blair realised that they'd reached the stairs. He stopped on the first step. "Where are we going?"

Again, there was no answer, just Jim's arm pushing him onwards.

Resisting the pressure, Blair stood still. He was tired, he was in no mood for games, and he was certainly in no mood for the silent treatment. "Jim! What the hell are you playing at?"

Still nothing, just the suddenly increased pressure across Blair's back as he was urged upwards.

Tiredly giving in, Blair took the next step, then the next, as he quietly made his way into Jim's bedroom. Stopping at the edge of the moonlit room, Blair turned as far as he could to look into the Sentinel's face, wondering exactly what was in the man's mind. "Jim?" The arm pushed him forwards again, towards the bed. Digging his heels in, Blair refused to budge. He hadn't slept with anyone, well, apart from his girlfriends, since he was a child and he'd never figured Jim for a snuggle bunny.

"Look...Jim, maybe we should just talk in the morning, okay?" There was a slightly hysterical tone in Blair's voice, but that was ignored too.

His heels slid on the floor as the Sentinel pushed him forwards. His knees encountered the edge of the bed and he teetered on the brink before falling onto the bed. Strong hands moved him over, giving the Sentinel room to lie behind him, then Jim's arm pulled the comforter over both of them before curling around the Guide's chest, holding the smaller man close.

Blair blinked a few times as his mind tried to make some rhyme or reason of the past few minutes. His back felt warm as it rested against Jim's chest, and the puff of Jim's breath as it wafted across his hair felt comforting. For the first time in weeks, Blair felt safe, protected. Slowly the fears and cares of the past few weeks faded, leaving one very tired Guide behind.

"Jim?" Blair's voice sounded drowsy, and he finally got an answer.

"Yes?"

"If you wanted a hug, all you had to do was say so."

Laughter rumbled in Jim's chest. "Go to sleep, Chief."

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

Jim smiled in the darkness. The Sentinel had faded, allowing the man to take control again. His Guide was safe, confused but safe. Allowing his smile to widen, Jim decided he'd explain in the morning.

~finis~

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