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.

Mosaic 3:

Making Sense

by Arnie

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The food had arrived and been eaten, the game was three quarters over, and Jim sat on the couch; his stomach pleasantly full and his eyes at half-mast as he watched the game. The Jags were going to lose, he knew it. He also knew he shouldn't have made that bet with H.

"So what's wrong?"

Flicking his gaze to one side, Jim glanced at Blair, wondering why he wasn't half-asleep yet. "Nothing."

"Don't give me that, man!" The cushions dipped as Sandburg moved, angling his body to face Jim more squarely. "You've been brooding about something since I came in."

Jim sat still, his eyes still half-closed as he stared at the TV screen. "I'm trying to watch the game."

"Yeah, I can tell you're rivetted by the action," Sandburg replied, a snide tone in his voice.

Looking over at his bete noire again, Jim was annoyed to see a determined look on his face. It looked like his friend wasn't about to give up any time soon. "I'm just tired, Sandburg. You know what tired feels like, right?" He allowed his sense of frustration to show in his voice, hoping to warn the kid off before he started digging too deep and chipping through the layers of Jim's emotions.

"I know, man." The snideness was gone, replaced by a warm sympathetic tone that did far more to undermine Jim's determination. "It's just -"

"It's just nothing, Sandburg!" Letting his anger get the better of him, Jim pushed himself up off the couch and stalked towards the stairs, choosing to retreat rather than face this battle; a battle he was doomed to lose.

"Jim!"

As Jim swung around, ready to vent some more, Sandburg continued, "You're not mad at me - you tried to distract me with Thai. It's not your senses or you'd be yelling at me to fix them."

Jim frowned, his conscience making itself felt with a hefty twinge.

"So what is it?" As Jim shook his head in denial, Sandburg asked, "Is it work? Is it a case?"

The kid was like a terrier in that he never gave up. For a brief moment, Jim had a vision of Blair as a tiny terrier, his teeth sunk into the hem of some criminal's trousers as he yanked and worried at the material, shaking his head from side to side as he growled loudly and refused to admit that the human was a damn sight bigger than him. Maybe that was why Sandburg was so good at defending himself.

"Jim?"

Brought back to the present situation, where Terrier-Blair was nipping at his ankles, Jim shook his head again, wishing for the words to put Sandburg off before he brought this whole house of cards down on top of them.

"C'mon, man," Blair's voice was quieter now; inviting rather than demanding. "I thought we were friends."

Damn. Jim shut his eyes for a second to block out the look of insecurity in Blair's eyes. "It's not you, Chief, I swear. It's just...."

"Just what?"

"Nothing." No matter what, Jim couldn't bring himself to admit that kind of vulnerability. It always led to disaster, no matter how much you believed you could trust the other person. "Listen, I'm tired. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

As he turned towards the stairs again, Blair quietly asked, "Do you want me to move out?"

Jim swung back in an instant. "What? No!"

"'Cause, if you need more space -"

"Damnit, Sandburg, I said no!" Jim scrubbed a hand through his hair. This was why he hated conversations like this: someone always got the wrong end of the stick.

"Well, if it's not that then..." A myriad of emotions flashed through Blair's eyes and Jim was positive that if he used those damned enhanced senses of his, he could replay them slowly and identify every one. "Oh."

The understanding that stayed in the light blue eyes was hard to bear, and Jim crossed his arms to ward it off. "What?"

A half-smile settled on Blair's face. "I told you, man; you're my holy grail. I'm not going anywhere." The grin widened and the ache in Jim's chest eased. "Except to fetch more beer. The game's not over yet and you might even win that bet with H." Two beer bottles clanked. "Though I doubt it."

Taking the beer bottle-shaped olive branch that was being held out to him, Jim accepted the change in subject, though his mind was still turning over what Blair had said. "How did you know about my bet with H?"

"Didn't you know?" Blair grinned as Jim settled himself back down on the couch, then took his place next to him. "Cops talk." He titled his head and raised his eyebrows. "A lot."

"We don't talk that much," Jim replied absently, his mind on his senses, and what they'd brought him.

"Oh yeah? You need to use that enhanced hearing of yours to listen into gossip. I bet you can't tell me who Rhonda's dating in the PD."

Jim finally let it go. Maybe Blair would stick around for longer than the dissertation. In any case, he was there for now, and Jim knew that sometimes you had to take what you could get.

The End

9th May 2007.

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