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.

In a Cascade Minute,
everything can change.

by Rae

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

I have always been in the camp that blamed Jim fairly and squarely for the Dissertation fiasco (apart from Naomi of course, but that is a whole different rant). Be warned Jim gets no sympathy from me on that score. In a way this story continues that theme showing the insensitive side of Jim. It also involves a chaste m/m J/B kiss that, if it is not your sort thing, you may wish to take into account before deciding whether to read on.

The song 'In a New York Minute' inspired the story and those lyrics are reproduced in full at the end of the story. I have taken liberties with the lyrics, sometimes lifting them whole, sometimes tweaking them to fit what I am writing but always trying to remain true to the sentiment. Don Henley, Danny Kortchmar and Jay Winding wrote the song. No disrespect is intended by the use of the lyrics in this story, which are owned by Cass County Music/Kortchmar Music ASCAP. The track can be found on the Don Henley Album. "The End of the Innocence".

This story is meant only to entertain so please don't sue.

~~~

I think most of us have thought about it once in our lives. I believe those that say they haven't are not being true to themselves. Fortunately most of us do not act on that thought but we should never forget that where there is darkness there will always be light for what is one without the other and either can change in an instant.

~~~

Thanks to Sherry and Jo for the read through.

The light bulb goes on but Jim takes his time realising it.

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

The two men stood facing each other. At their feet a tarpaulin covered a body. The glare of the arc lights gave everything in the tunnel an eerie glow, all colour leeched out leaving greys of every hue. Even the blood was grey and there was a lot of it. The body, actually Harry Fielding Jr., had apparently only a few hours earlier got up, got dressed, walked to the subway station, gone to the end of the platform, climbed over the barrier and started to walk down the track. No one had stopped him, no one had cried out. Maybe someone had seen him but not said anything, only wondered. Harry had removed all of his clothes as he had walked, leaving the items scattered on the track. The train driver had said Harry had just kept on walking until the train hit him. Now he was dead and he wouldn't be walking anymore.

The two men were quiet. Forensics had left the scene and someone had felt moved to cover the body. The taller man had already made up his mind that this was a suicide. There was nothing to indicate or even suggest otherwise. He stood, hands in the pockets of faded blue jeans, his heavy coat buttoned up against the cold and damp. He looked at the shorter man and a frown creased his brow. The shorter man wore black jeans and the neck of a black T-shirt could just be seen beneath the collar of a black shirt and Jim's black leather jacket. When Jim had seen Blair dressed to leave the loft this morning with his back pack slung over one black leather-clad shoulder, framed in the doorway, his heart had skipped and the thought that had popped into his mind ran along the lines of 'no wonder all the women want him, he is beautiful'. The stray thought had disconcerted him and he had pushed it from his mind forgotten until now.

Now his mind was registering vulnerability as he watched his partner, guide and the man who shared his home. It was only a few months since he had almost lost Blair. Only a few months since the man had willingly sacrificed himself, his reputation, his career and everything he held dear to save him, Jim Ellison, Sentinel of the Great City and first class pain in the ass from professional madness. Even the Neanderthal that was James Ellison, detective with the Major Crimes Unit of Cascade Police Department knew that things were still rough between them. The ease of their shared existence was not the same, Blair didn't bounce as much, he didn't smile as much but, Ellison thought with a smile, at least he was there and maybe that was more than he deserved after the way he had behaved towards the younger man. And at least he was with Jim now. Blair had turned down Simon's offer of a place at the Academy. Jim had some how known this would not be an answer to his problems and he had known that the Police Chief would not let Blair continue as an official ride along or consultant, whatever you wanted to call it. So now Blair didn't go to Major Crimes to work with Jim and the others, he did the only teaching job he had been able to get after the disclosure of his 'fraud', so when he wasn't teaching English and History at the Community College he went with Jim on stakeouts and to crime scenes, guided his Sentinel and all with an unofficial sanction.

The last few months most of the crime scenes he and Blair had visited had been cold ones, the bodies already removed and they had gone so that Jim could exercise his Sentinel abilities with his guide there to ground him. As luck would have it he and Blair had been having lunch when the call came in. Lunch was a more frequent occurrence of late with the Community College being only a couple of miles from Police Department Headquarters. This meeting during the day to break bread was something he knew they both enjoyed. Blair had told him how he enjoyed it and for Jim it filled a void, the void that was Blair in and part of his working life.

Jim had wondered how Blair would react to this scene and had been surprised how calm the younger man had been. Now he seemed so…vulnerable… it was the only word he could think of that fit. Blair dropped to a squat besides the remains and opened the thin folder in his hands. Jim knew what was in it: Harry Fielding Jnr., homeowner, long term live in girlfriend, successful broker in a high power finance company. On the face of it not a care in the world; no reason to walk into the 10.55 Downtown train. Blair pulled down the tarpaulin and winced at the view.

"What a waste." Jim stated.

Blair nodded.

"What an idiot."

Blair looked up at Jim confusion plain on his face. "Idiot?" he repeated.

"Idiot, coward, whatever. Why take your own life? Nothing is ever bad enough to warrant that." Jim explained as he gestured at the now fully covered body.

Blair stood and Jim sensed the stillness and tension in the younger man's body.

"You don't think there is any situation when you would be pushed far enough to take your own life?"

Blair's face was serious. Before Jim could answer Blair continued, "You have never felt so lost, so hurt, so far over the line… so much in this world that this …" his hands struggled to express what he was saying, "that nothing mattered anymore?"

Jim shook his head.

"Even in Peru when I really thought I was going to be lost forever, when I was hurting and desperate and then before you turned up in my life and I thought I was losing my mind, I never considered it an option."

Blair stared hard into Jim's face. Jim wondered if Blair could hear the voice that whispered 'Liar, liar' in his ear.

"You don't know how lucky you are then."

Blair walked back to the station and away from the carnage. In a few days Harry Fielding Jr. would be laid to rest and another lost soul would be mourned.

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

Jim lay in bed looking at the ceiling. He couldn't understand where it had all gone wrong. In the dark and in the distance a siren wailed. Jim could tell it was an ambulance. He rested his forearm over his eyes trying to block out the image: Blair dressed in black, this time with a holdall by his feet. The light from the corridor brighter than in the loft had cast a halo around Blair's curls. Unkempt from a day of not being combed and being ruffled by fingers, stray hairs stood out of place. The light made him look angelic, a sharp contrast to his clothes. Jim had blinked and in that instant had seen the wolf standing by Blair's leg. In the next blink the wolf was gone and then minutes later so was Blair. The excuse, that he was going to visit Naomi in San Francisco for the weekend sounded hollow to Jim's ears. Blair had looked so sad and lost it had torn at Jim's heart.

Another siren's wail, this time the police. He closed his eyes and tried to sleep. Dreams made his sleep restless. One took him to the jungle where Incacha stood on the steps of the temple.

"Love is precious, a rare delight in a dangerous world. When it is found it should be fought for tooth and nail, not thrown away behind falsehoods and fears."

Jim groaned and was back in his bed. Another siren wailed.

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

It was Tuesday and Blair had not yet come back. There had been no phone calls, no emails, nothing. Jim had tried to call Blair but his phone was off and Jim's voice mail messages had gone unanswered. It had rained all weekend. That wasn't unusual in Cascade. Jim had stayed in the loft as much as he could, hoping that Blair would call or even better, come home. He hadn't and Monday had come round. Jim had rung Simon feigning a cold. Whatever Jim had said or however he had said it had persuaded Simon and he had told Jim not to come in until he was better.

There was a fine rain falling but Jim had finally had to leave the loft, the walls had been closing in on him and he felt like screaming. Slipping on his jacket and checking for the umpteenth time that he had his cell phone, he left the loft and walked. He headed to the local park. He and Blair had gone there often, to jog, to shoot hoops, just to walk. There was a small pond and Blair liked to feed the birds that gathered round. Jim's senses were already playing him up. Now as he walked it was as though his hearing had gone haywire, it was overriding all his other senses. He caught snatches of conversations;

Old voices: "… these days, the kids have no respect…"

Worried voices: "… it gets dark so early…"

Voices in love: "…I rushed home to tell you that you are the one I love…"

Familiar voices: "… take a fool's advice…"

"Gabe?" Jim called.

Angry voices: "… you take care of your own…"

Sad voices: "… one day they're here, next day they're gone…"

Blair was gone and he might not come back. The realisation hit Jim and took his breath. He knew that it had something to do with the conversation they had had over Harry Fielding's body but he also knew it was more than that. This had been coming since the mess over the dissertation. They had not talked it out, had hidden all their feelings away and they had been growing like some cancerous tumour. No, that wasn't true. If he was honest, it was he, Jim Ellison that had hidden his feelings. Blair, being Blair had worn his heart on his sleeve, he had tried to talk to Jim but Jim, being Jim, had found a reason, an excuse not to listen, not to talk and little by little he had worn Blair down and now he had gone. Blair wouldn't do anything though would he? Jim knew what he meant by 'anything' and it terrified him. Was Blair so unhappy, so lost that he felt his life was not worth living? If he did, what could Jim do, what would he do? No, Jim told himself firmly, Blair would come back, they would sit and talk and it would be ok, really… honest… it would.

Jim reached the park. The clouds were trying to thin but there was still a light drizzle, Jim pulled his coat tighter. It was fall and leaves were coming off the trees covering the ground. Reaching the pond, Jim sat on a bench. Carved into the wood were the initials of lost loves and young loves. One, 'B loves J', had a heart with an arrow through it. Jim wiped the tears from his face even though there was no one to see.

"Blair," he whispered, "please come back to me."

He knew he had lied to Blair, lied to himself and in his head he had justified the lie in some skewed logical way that now he couldn't even remember. His heart was clear, he wanted Blair back and his heart was sure he would do whatever was necessary to get him back. Those thoughts gave him strength and he sat back not realising that he had been slumped over his knees. He looked round the park. There was only one other brave soul, a woman walking a large German Shepherd that looked like it would prefer to be at home. Memories filtered into his head; Blair laughing in the bullpen, Blair flirting, Blair wet and cold, Blair teaching, tucking a stray hair behind his ear, pushing his glasses up his nose, cooking in the loft, playing blues on guitar; pictures, snapshots, all memories to bring a smile to his face and then the snapshots changed. The images he had seen at the temple; Blair dying, Blair hurting, Blair bleeding, Blair crying.

"No." Jim cried and with a conscious effort he willed himself back to the happy memories, the memories of when life was brighter, when Blair was there by his side.

Now Jim was on his own and the man who could change all that was out there somewhere. Jim despaired that Blair would ever come back.

"I have to believe that he will."

"And if he doesn't?" his alter ego asked.

"He will… he has to… he must."

Jim got up. Morbidity was setting in. His mood was as gloomy and grey as the lowering skies. Jim walked back the way he had come. The clouds pulled apart briefly and sunlight escaped giving a stark relief to the earth below. The flash caught Jim's eye and his vision sought the brightness. He felt himself slipping into a zone when movement distracted him. An arm threw something that hit the water of the pond. Jim turned back to the water. There was a figure at the water's edge throwing bread. The figure was dressed all in black with long shoulder length curly hair.

"Blair." Jim called.

The figure looked up. Jim thought he saw a smile and turned to walk towards the figure that remained still, looking at him. The closer Jim got the faster his heart beat, the more certain he was that it was Blair and that Blair had come back to him. It took only a few seconds for Jim's long strides to reach the man. It was Blair. Jim smiled.

"Oh God Blair, you came back… you came back."

Blair said nothing, just stared.

"I'm so sorry Blair. I was wrong about everything, about the dissertation, about everything I said, about everything I didn't say," he breathed, "especially everything I didn't say. But you came back," Jim stopped. Doubt filled his being. "You have come back?"

Blair nodded. His eyes were sad. In the instant Jim looked in Blair's eyes he saw it all, the whole brass ring.

"I love you Blair."

A sob escaped Blair's frame. Jim stepped forward and nervously his palm brushed Blair's cheek. Jim's fingers slipped behind Blair's neck and his thumb brushed the jaw line of the younger man. Jim looked down as though seeking permission. Blair didn't move. Jim leaned in and his lips brushed Blair's lightly. For Jim it was electric, his whole body felt so alive. Blair sobbed again and pulled back. In an almost silent voice he whispered,

"I had to believe… to believe… that you would say that one day."

He turned his face to Jim and smiled. The clouds wept as Blair laid his head on Jim's chest.

"Yes, I came back."

The End.

New York Minute

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 the line
And he was too much in this world
But I guess it doesn't matter anymore

Chorus

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

Chorus

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 she was here
But I know there's somebody somewhere
Make these dark clouds disappear
Until that day, I have to believe
I believe, I believe

Chorus: 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

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