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 Return

By Paula C

Follow up to "Low"

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Three years after the Dissertation news conference.

Sitting in his four-door sedan, parked on the street across from the Cascade PD, Blair Sandburg took a deep, cleansing breath. He looked across the street and looked at headquarters. He had come full circle in both his agony and his quest. He was back where he had started. Now it was time to see what had truly changed, and what had remained the same at what he thought of fondly as his family home.

He put his hand on his leather satchel that sat in the passenger seat and took another deep breath. He checked his mirror for traffic and exited the car.

With his head held high, he walked into the foyer of the station and approached the duty clerk. After a year of being away, he had established contact with Simon via e-mail. With Simon's help he was able to accomplish much this last year. The last steps of his return could not have been done without his help. Blair could only hope that Jim would appreciate what he had done.

The young female clerk looked up at him and smiled. "How can I help you?"

"Simon Banks, of Major Crimes, has me on the list for a visitor's pass." He handed his picture ID of himself from California.

She looked at the picture then to Blair and nodded, she looked down her list and found Blair's name on the list of expected visitors for the day. She returned Blair's license and then handed him a clip-on visitor's pass.

Blair made his way down the hall to the elevators. He got on to one, and found himself in an empty car. As it ascended, he took another deep breath. He was about to step back into the bullpen, a place he fondly remembered. He hoped that he had been forgiven and the news he had to tell would be greatly accepted.

The doors opened and he stepped out. He looked into the bullpen and could see that little had changed on the surface. Detectives were on the phone, filing reports, interviewing witnesses. Along the back wall, he could see Jim having a friendly conversation with his computer.

As he stepped through the pen, making his way across the room, people stopped what they were doing. The older realm recognized him and the new guys were wondering what was stopping the others.

As Blair approached Jim's desk, he could hear Jim muttering at his computer. "Come on you son of a bitch. I know I saved the Carson report. I saved it twice so you couldn't eat it this time." He clicked around trying to find the missing report. "I refuse to type it in again."

Blair smiled, remembering back to times when Jim had done just that, trying to find a lost file on his computer. "Why don't you open the history record on you computer and find it from there."

Jim clicked on the icon and found the missing Carson file. Jim's scowl changed to a smile when the report opened. Looking up, he started to say, "Thanks for the advise, I was ready to…." Jim stopped when he saw who had given him the advice.

Not trusting himself to state the obvious, he stood up and slowly moved around to the front of his desk. He looked at Blair and slowly smiled. He looked from the floor and up Blair's body to see what had changed and not. Overall Blair was still a shade on the skinny side, but he held himself tighter than he had previously. Jim looked over what he was wearing, dressed in new dark blue jeans, the crease had yet been worn out of them, a crisp white oxford shirt, and with a tweed jacket to keep him warm. Blair's hair was much shorter than he had ever seen it but he wore two studded earrings where he normally had seen hoops. Jim reached out and hugged the smaller man to him. "Blair," he whispered.

The detectives throughout the pen watched as Jim hugged Blair. The old guard smiled, liking that the kid had returned. The new guard wondered what the fuss was about.

Tim O'Malley came up to Rafe, "Who's that?"

"Blair Sandburg."

"That's him?"

"That's him."

Simon came out of his office and smiled as his eyes looked to see Jim hugging Blair. This was a good start. Now if everything went as smoothly it was going to be a great day for Major Crimes and especially Jim Ellison.

Simon looked over to Rhonda and asked, "Call the Commissioner and ask him to come to the conference room." Simon turned his attention back to Jim. "Ellison, let the kid breathe will ya."

Jim let go of Blair reluctantly; wondering if he did that Blair would disappear.

Sensing the trepidation from Jim, Blair looked up at Jim. "I'm real Big guy."

"Just checking," Jim said lowly. He was well aware of everyone watching them. "Before we get into all this, I want to tell you I'm sorry."

"I know Jim," Blair looked up at his friend, "I know that man. Wait till you hear what I have to say. I have some announcements to make."

Simon smiled. He knew what Blair had to say. After getting himself together, Blair started planning his return, his return to Cascade, and his sentinel. Simon knew the journey had not been easy, but he was here.

"Rafe, Henri, Joel, Rhonda, Megan, Jim, conference room please."

The old guard moved to the conference room smiling in seeing their friend Sandburg back.

Blair stopped short of the door and smiled at Simon. "You're a sight for sore eyes," Blair told him. "You don't know how many times I nearly gave up on this. If it wasn't for you and your e-mails, I think I would have gone somewhere else."

"No you wouldn't. You need him as bad as he needs you. My question is, was it worth it?" Simon asked.

Blair stayed quiet a moment, then looked into the conference room, seeing Jim, seeing those blue eyes watching him and Blair smiled. "Every moment Simon."

"Then let's get this show on the road."

They entered the room and the conversation stopped as Blair stood before the long table.

Jim noticed that Blair was a bit nervous but he gave a determined look. He looked around the table, to his friends. "Three years can go by quick," Blair started out saying.

"Three years can be an eternity too," Jim pointed out.

Blair nodded to that. "I can so understand that." He smiled and laid his satchel on the table. "Guess you want to know what I did in the time since I left here?"

A group consensus said 'yes.'

"The first six months was pure hell. I had no money, only what I could carry in two duffel bags and no transportation. I didn't care what I did and how I acted. I had a few close calls but in the end I ran into an old friend of Naomi's. He had heard about the dissertation disaster and offered me a place to stay, to think."

He smiled at the group. "I spent six months of clearing my mind and making new plans. I may have lost the round but I was going to make the fight."

He looked to Megan, then to Simon and Jim. "You three knew the truth, the rest of you suspected. You had to. Why would Simon put up with me for four years?"

"We thought lion tamer was part of your duties," Henri answered.

"Blair Sandburg, lion tamer." He smiled in memory of the stories people told about Jim in his pre-Blair days. "Well, it's only fair now to say that truth be told. Jim Ellison is a Sentinel, a man with five heightened senses."

"We know that now Hairboy."

Blair continued on, wanting to realize some of the stress he saw in Jim. He just confirmed with everyone that he was a Sentinel. But what he had to say would be music to his ears, a relief to some of the pressures they had once lived under. "At the time, we thought Jim was the only one. We were scared about the government finding out. What would they do with someone like that? Was it worth the risk? At the time, no."

"I had to do the conference, had to say it was all false."

"Anyway, after picking myself up, I went to Los Angeles. I found some interesting things in LA. One, there are others like Jim. Some with four senses, many with three, as we knew, but there are a few out there with all five. They work in jobs that are like you, police officers, security, private eyes, even a few in other government jobs. And they are acknowledged by their workplace. And two, the government knows about these people. There is documentation back from the forties that tried to develop a program for them, but they found with the lack of co-operation and finding them a 'helper' the people zoned out too easily and were not able to complete their assignments. Our worst fears were totally unfounded." Blair smiled.

"Jim, you're free. Free of the fear of using your senses, hiding from the powers that be. There are others in the same position as you and are welcomed. It's my goal to help those who are in the same position, to help educate those around them so your talents are not wasted but relished.

"With that said, I did six months of additional research with my new test subjects, contacted Dr. Stoddard, and got in UCLA. I resubmitted my original thesis with additional information.

"Eight months ago, I received my doctorate."

Applause fired up around the room. Blair held up his hand, he still had much to say.

"I took the publishing company to court and got a nice undisclosed sum. Let's say that I'm able to fund a few projects that I have been planning for a long time to help those Sentinels to be. I also took Rainier to court and I am currently waiting for the outcome of that issue."

A knock came at the door and Simon got up. Commissioner Baines entered.

Simon looked to the crowd and picked up on Blair's story. "As you know, I've been in communication with Blair for two years, letting you know that he was alive. Part of his grand plan was to be able to get back here, to be with Jim."

Jim looked surprised.

Blair looked at his friend. "One of the things I learned from the other Sentinels is that you need your guide, the person that helped you work at your maximum. I know Simon and Conner did their best but you need the key. We all know who your key is."

"A neo-hippy witch doctor," Henri commented.

"Well, neo-hippy, yes, witch doctor is a complete misnomer."

Everyone laughed at that.

"The only way we could get Blair back in the department was to make him officially one of us." Simon conveyed, and then turned to Blair. "You are looking at the top cadet from Los Angeles Academy."

Jim stood up and walked over to Blair. "The hair?"

"Only for the academy man." Blair ran his hand through the shortened hair. "Simon told me I could grow it back."

"Within reason," Simon mumbled.

Commissioner Baines cleared his throat. "Captain Banks came to me six months ago and told me the whole saga and documented statements from LA and San Diego. We worked with Dr. Sandburg in getting his credentials in order.

"I was able to commission a position that required a full officer, but the flexibility of what Dr. Sandburg needs to assist other sense heightened persons." The commissioner pulled out a leather wallet. "Before your peers and your Captain, I would like to extend this offer to you."

Jim looked to see that Blair had a badge with his name on it for Cascade. "Chief?" he asked.

Simon smiled. "LA took it fairly hard that they couldn't keep him. Did great in all his classes, even marksmanship."

Blair turned to Jim and stated what he had wanted to say for the last year. "I'm back. I'm back home."

Jim thought of that. Home was the loft, near the waterfront, Cascade, and the PD. Blair had planned, and executed a plan to return to a place that once had turned its back on him.

"Why?" Jim asked, unsure why Blair would have gone to such troubles.

"Because you need me. One thing I learned from your counterparts, that you need to be comfortable to perform your best. After I got my act together, the only thing I felt was a burn inside me. I knew the only way I could appease it was to return here, to be by your side. If you'll have me."

Jim looked around the room. He already knew the feelings of the others in the room. "It will be good to have you as a partner." Jim smiled and noted, "You're back were you belong."

END

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