A Field of Dandelions
by Ice Bear
Summary: Jim reflects on the differences between himself and Blair.
Disclaimer: All things Sentinel belong to Pet Fly and Paramount.
It was the first real spring day after a long, wet, cold winter, so Jim picked up a sandwich and walked to the park four blocks from the station. Despite the recent lack of sunshine, the park’s grass was in need of cutting, and the long stemmed dandelions had already lost their vibrant yellow and were disco balls of feathery dust waiting for the first good breeze to spread them to the four winds.
There was a young girl – 4 or 5 he guessed - with curly, brown hair running gleefully through the long grass, her pink dress floating about her as she dashed back and forth. Her laughter was what first caught his attention, as it wasn’t often he had the opportunity to be reminded of why he did what he did, so he let himself get lost in the child’s carefree abandon.
Watching her, he was reminded of his partner. Maybe it was the long, curly hair or the tingling laugh, but more likely it was the wide spread arms, welcoming the world as she frolicked in the grass that brought his best friend to mind. For just like the little girl, Blair tended to meet the world head on – running to embrace it.
Jim shook his head slightly, scolding himself for that fanciful notion as he started back. He lost his smile as he began to compare himself to the anthropologist. While Blair always seemed to be running toward something; he, himself, had spent a lifetime running away: from his father and brother; from his failure in Peru; from his marriage; and from his senses. If he was going to be honest, he figured he’d probably always be running…
That night, after Blair had fallen asleep in his room beneath the stairs, Jim went out on the balcony and looked out over his city. His mind wandering back to the little girl. He had a picture in his mind of her picking one of the dandelions and blowing the wisps into the air; making a wish before she blew. He was sure he’d never been that carefree, or if he had, he certainly couldn’t recall it.
And just as she attracted people with her joy, he repelled them: his mother being a prime example; Carolyn, another. And those he didn’t repel tended to die: Bud; his Ranger team; Jack; Blair…He jerked to attention and tried to focus on the half moon settling over the water, but his thoughts wouldn’t be controlled.
He’d killed Blair – well technically Alex had, but only because he’d pushed him away – and the Guide’s entire experience since meeting the Sentinel had been one of death and destruction: Veronica Sarris; Kincaid; Lash; Brackett; the list went on and on. Why then, did the younger man stay with him? It made no sense. Clearly, the Sentinel was a threat to the Guide. What right did he have to take that joi de vive and destroy it by exposing the man to the dark he faced every day? It was simply wrong.
He went up to his room and got into bed; his thoughts weighing him down. He stared at the ceiling for a very long time before falling into an uneasy slumber.
Blair was running from him. He was yelling at him to come back: begging him to stay, but the younger man just ran faster. He turned his senses on him as he ran, and could smell his fear. He pleaded; he promised to change; he swore not to hurt him anymore, but still the smaller man ran.
“Jim! Jim, come on, man, wake up. Whatever this dream is, you don’t really want to be having it,” Blair shook the right foot sharply, knowing that getting close to the upper body would not turn out well. He had learned the hard way that Jim’s Army training made waking him up suddenly a dangerous chore. “Jim, please! Wake up!”
“Blair!” Jim shouted as he suddenly launched upright, blue eyes wide with fright.
“Easy, Big Guy, I’m right here,” he said gently, moving up to put a hand on a quivering shoulder.
“You were having a dream – a bad one.”
His eyes falling to his lap, the older man hesitated. “Sorry, Chief. Didn’t mean to wake you.”
“You’re not getting out of it that easy, Ellison. You were yelling at me; pleading with me to come back,” he forced the man’s head up so they were eye to eye. “Whatever it was scared you, and we both know that nothing good will come of this unless we talk it out. Tea or scotch?” He finished with an encouraging smile.
“Tea,” Jim said softly before laying back down, his eyes focused on a spot on the high ceiling. They had made a promise to each other, after Alex, that any problem would be discussed and worked out together. It had been a difficult promise for him to make, since sharing his thoughts and feelings was so outside the norm for him that facing down armed men seemed easier. But he had learned his lesson and would do the best he could to explain the dream. He stacked his pillows and was sitting up when Blair hit the top of the stairs, two steaming mugs of tea in hand.
He took a sip and a deep breath and plunged ahead. He had decided that there was no way around the issue; no obfuscation. “Chief, I’ m really not a good influence on you. All I seem to do is introduce you to destruction and death. I think it might be better for you if you moved on.” It came out in one quick sentence, and Jim returned to staring at the mug in his hand, his head jerking up as Blair started to laugh.
“Oh, god, Ellison,” Blair chuckled as he tried to regain control, “that must have been one hell of a dream to have triggered that fear based response of yours.” He straightened up and his voice hardened, “So, why don’t you tell me just what the hell bug is up your ass so we can deal with it and get back to sleep…and just so you know, I’m not going anywhere.”
“It’s for your own good!” Jim squelched the yell as his hands tightened around the mug. “Can’t you see? All I’ve brought into your life is pain and unhappiness. You deserve better, Blair. You do.”
“Where did all this come from, Jim? What happened today?” Blair asked; voice gentle.
Jim snorted softly. “Would you believe a curly haired little girl in a field of dandelions?” He sank back against the pillows and waited.
“Well, at least you’re getting more creative,” Blair said softly, his smile warm, “but a little more information would be helpful.”
So Jim told him about the little girl in the pink dress, and how it brought him to realize that he spent his life running away and he didn’t want to hurt him – not anymore then he already had. Blair wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. It was such a Jim thing to take the simple act of a child running wild in the park and turn it into the end of the world as they knew it. But he couldn’t laugh – he wouldn’t – because he knew the conclusion his friend had drawn was based on his own experiences and that made him sad. He wasn’t sure what he was going to say when Jim finally stopped and turned to look at him.
He did not want to hurt the man, but he was poking in the dark when it came to trying to settle his friend’s mind. He couldn’t remember seeing Jim so worked up about something other than the worst of their cases. So he settled on speaking from the heart. He reminded the older man that he had given him a home – the first one he’d ever really had; a family since he was the big brother he’d always wanted and the Major Crimes team were his cousins and uncles. He talked about fulfilling his dream of finding a Sentinel and how while that was amazing, it wasn’t anywhere near as important as finding a friend: a best friend, something he’d never had before. And he talked about now being able to help people in a real way, not just through teaching but through doing.
He paused to gage the impact his words were having but Jim’s face was closed. He hated that look more than anything else. So he pulled out the big guns and reminded him that he was a grown man and quite capable of making his own choices and he chose Jim the man; Jim the cop; Jim the Sentinel, and until and unless he decided otherwise, the only thing that was going to change was his climbing back into his warm bed.
The phone rang startling both of them, and Jim left 10 minutes later for the station. Blair went back to bed, said a brief prayer to whatever deity looked out for hopeless Sentinels and went back to sleep.
Jim did not get home again until after 10 pm the next evening. He was bone tired and emotionally spent after helping find the dead bodies of three children that a killer had given up to the DA. All he wanted was a shower and bed. He was half way to his first goal when something stopped him. He shook his head in disbelief before turning back to look at the kitchen table. There, in the middle, sat a large vase full of wispy dandelion heads.
“Take your shower, Big Guy, dinner will be ready when you are,” Blair said stepping out of his room, a smile on his face.
After dinner, Jim followed Blair out onto the balcony; Blair carrying the vase. He pulled out one long stem and held it up to the night sky. “Did you ever consider, Jim, that I finally found what I was running towards? Or that maybe, just maybe, you’ve stopped running? I’m thinking that it is just possible that we’re both where we’re supposed to be.” With that, he closed his eyes tightly, took a deep breath and blew.
Jim was mesmerized, as he watched the tiny feathers dance into the night air. He was brought back to the balcony when a cool, slippery stem was placed in his hand. He cocked his head and looked carefully at the man standing beside him and was warmed by the smile that greeted him. So at the tender age of 38, he closed his eyes, made his first wish, and exhaled.