Summary: What happened after TSbyBS. Originally posted on SA.
Disclaimer: All characters and plots associated with The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN and Paramount. No infringement is intended.
It hadn't ended with a big argument. No shouting or waving of arms. It had been a quietly muttered aside, just loud enough for Blair to hear. It had been a week since the press conference and although on the surface things appeared to be back to normal, the atmosphere between them remained tense. The rest of Major Crimes, taking their cue from Jim, were also tense and wary around him. Civil, but not friendly. The only exceptions being Megan and to some degree Simon, but since they were still on sick leave, Blair was feeling very isolated.
"Better let me do that, Sandburg." Jim indicated the report Blair was correcting. Then it happened, the quietly muttered comment that ended it all. "After all, we don't want the press getting hold of this one yet."
Blair felt strangely calm as he looked at his partner.... Former partner.
"Jim, we need to talk." His voice was amazingly steady.
Jim looked up sharply. He was already kicking himself for his previous comment, but didn't know how to put it right.
"What!" Guilt made his voice sharper than he intended. "I'm kinda busy here."
Blair flinched slightly, then seemed to draw himself up.
"It won't take long. There's not much to say. I can't do this anymore. I've tried to make things right, but It's not working. I've thought about Simon's offer to get me into the academy and I'm going to refuse. It wouldn't work. As far as everyone here is concerned I'm a fraud and that's going to follow me to the academy. How can anyone trust me if they think I'm a fraud? You don't, and you know I'm not."
Jim was engulfed by a wave of shock that rapidly changed to anger.
"You ungrateful little shit. Simon stuck his neck out for you and you're going to turn him down?" Jim's voice was quiet but deadly. "So, what are you gonna do instead? Write another book? How's this for a title 'Backstabbing, The Blair Sandburg Guide To Friendship'."
Blair looked around. People had started looking in their direction. They couldn't hear what was being said, but it was obvious that Jim was angry and upset. Blair could feel their accusing stares jabbing at him from all sides. Jim stood up and stormed out toward the break room. There was a moment of silence in the bullpen and then everyone went back to work. A quiet murmur filled the air as they muttered about what had just occurred.
Alone and now ignored, Blair picked up his jacket and backpack and headed out of the door. Time to detach with love, while there was still some love left, at least on his side.
The drive to the loft passed in a blur of unshed tears. No, he would not cry. Enough was enough. Time to take back his life. Packing only those things that meant anything to him, he left a note telling Jim to sell the rest and take the proceeds towards his unpaid rent. It was the coward's way out he knew, but he couldn't deal with any more of Jim's anger.
His next stop was to visit Simon. He thanked him for all his help, both past and present and explained his reasons for not accepting the place at the academy. Simon would have tried to change his mind, but Blair took advantage of the fact that he was not fully recovered and beat a hasty retreat knowing that Simon couldn't catch up with him.
Megan was more understanding. He told her why he was leaving and asked her to take care of his car.
"Sandy, are you sure? You love that car. Won't you need it?"
Blair smiled. "No, I'm going to stay up at Saint Sebastian's for a while. I won't need it there. When I decide what to do I can come back for it."
Megan sighed and shook her head "Oh Sandy. You don't have to go. You can stay here with me until you decide what to do. Hey even better, I'm thinking I might go home soon. You could sell your car and come to Australia with me. It's beautiful there you'd love it."
"I need to get away Megan. Just for a while. Somewhere Jim won't look for me. If he knows I'm here..." Blair's voice trailed off. "But I will consider your offer. Are you really thinking of leaving? I thought you liked it here."
"I did. Recent events have made me reconsider my place here and if I can ever really fit in." Megan's tone was slightly bitter. "After all if they treat one of their own like they've treated you, what happens if I screw up."
"Well, I should get going. The bus leaves in an hour." He stood up and hugged his friend.
When she finally released him he looked her in the eye and she knew what he was about to say.
"Megan, while I'm gone, can you help Simon keep an eye on Jim. He's more prone to zone outs when he's stressed or injured, and at the moment he both. I've left some notes with Simon. You're the only ones who know about him. Please."
She stared to shake her head as he asked, but that final plea was too much.
"Ok. I'll do it for you, not him. At the moment I don't like him very much."
"It's not his fault Megan. It's the way he grew up. Everyone he ever trusted either left him or betrayed him. Now he feels that I'm doing the same. He's going to react badly."
As he spoke the phone rang. Even as she picked it up she knew who it was.
"Jim!" She tried to sound surprised. Looking over at Blair she saw him shake his head.
"No, I haven't seen him. Isn't he supposed to be with you today? Ok if I hear from him I'll let you know." She hung up the phone quickly. "When hell freezes over." She added.
"He's looking for me already. I should get going before he has Simon put an APB out on me." Blair gathered his things up and made for the door. "I'll be in touch. Please don't tell anyone where I am. Not even Naomi. I need some space from all of them."
She sadly watched him shoulder his duffle bag and head off. "Be safe Sandy." She called after him.
Early the next morning Blair trudged up to the door of St Sebastian's. There was a short delay before the door was opened and he was ushered into brother Jeremy's office. The older monk looked harassed.
"Brother Jeremy, is everything alright?"
"Brother Blair, it's good to see you, but you have called at a bad time. We are about to depart on a mission to Peru and we'll be gone for three years, and brother Andrew has been taken ill and will be unable to accompany us. Which means we are a man short. We may have to cancel. There were only just enough of us to man the mission as it was. All that preparation..."
Blair was shocked. It was the most he had ever heard bother Jeremy say at one time and was a clear indication of how upset he was.
Brother Jeremy smiled sheepishly. "I'm sorry brother Blair, I shouldn't burden you with my worries. How are you? What brings you here?"
Blair thought for a moment. He knew he could be taking a risk, but he felt that the old monk was trustworthy. He had kept brother Marcus' secret and refused to betray him even under threat of death. "If I tell you something, will it remain confidential?"
Brother Jeremy nodded. "Of course. I will take it with me to the grave."
Blair explained everything that had happened. It took a while and by the time he had finished he was exhausted. Brother Jeremy sat quietly for a moment and absorbed all he had heard.
"Well, that certainly explains a lot of what happened during your last visit. I'm sorry it's ended this badly for you. It was a noble thing to do. 'Greater love hath no man'."
"I haven't exactly laid down my life." Blair was a little embarrassed.
"You sacrificed your academic life. I hope he appreciates that. But running away is not the answer to your problem. "Brother Jeremy looked solemn.
"I'm not running away, brother Jeremy, I'm just taking some time to rethink my life. I may have the answer to your problem, however. What if I took brother Andrew's place until he is well enough to join you? I've spent time in Peru before. I was on expedition there some years ago."
Brother Jeremy looked hopeful. "It could be some months before Andrew is fit to join us. Can you stay for that long?"
Blair nodded. "It would be perfect. It would give things here time to die down." Brother Jeremy smiled. "In that case I only have one more question." Blair looked at him expectantly. "Do you have your passport?"
About the same time as Blair was entering St Sebastian's there was a pounding on Megan's front door. She barely had time to step back as an agitated Jim Ellison burst into her apartment.
"Where is he? I know he's here his car is outside." He was pacing around her apartment looking in all the rooms.
"Do you mind? This is my home you're invading here. Sandy's not here. He asked me to look after his car." Megan stood with her hands on her hips with a less than welcoming expression on her face.
"You said you'd call me if you heard from him." Jim glared at her, with very little effect.
"Sandy asked me not to, and don't ask me where he is. He doesn't want to see anyone at the moment, including his mother." Megan stood defiant in front of the angry detective.
Suddenly Jim seemed to deflate. He sat down heavily on the sofa and lowered his head into his hands.
"He's gone hasn't he? I finally managed to drive him away. I could hear myself doing it but I couldn't seem to stop. I felt guilty for letting him ruin himself so I blamed him for letting it happen. I didn't mean any of it. I need him back, not just because of the senses, because he's my friend and miss him."
Megan's expression softened. "I'm not the one you should be telling this to." She patted his shoulder.
He looked up, hopeful. "I need to tell it to Blair. If you know where he is, tell me. Please. Give me a chance to put things right."
She shook her head regretfully. "I can't. I promised. But if he contacts me I'll try to get him to talk to you. He asked me to help you with your senses. He's left some stuff with Simon. We'll need to work on it together."
Jim stood up. "Ok. I'm gonna keep looking though, I haven't given up. If you change your mind let me know."
Six Months Later
Jim sat on the sofa in the loft. It still felt wrong, too big and empty. He'd kept all of Blair's things. His room was as he'd left it. Jim only went in there to dust occasionally. He and Megan had a reasonable working partnership going on, but she still refused to tell him where Blair had gone and said that he had not been in touch.
He sighed as he looked at the other end of the couch. It seemed wrong not to see Blair there, breaking house rule no.7 - no feet on the coffee table.
He picked up the remote control and switched on the TV. He surfed around looking for a basketball game to take his mind off the quietness around him. Suddenly as he clicked on to the next channel he found himself looking straight into a pair of familiar blue eyes. The shock caused him to drop the beer bottle he was holding, spilling beer all over the rug.
It was a documentary about a mission in Peru who was trying to raise money for the local natives, driven out of their homelands by drug bandits, who had been starving before help arrived. It went on to show how the monks from the small monastery of St Sebastian's had arrived and made such a difference.
Jim was riveted to the screen as the commentary continued. "The days are long and tiring and there is little food, but no-one here complains. The monks always make time to comfort those who are sick or afraid, and the natives have taken them to their hearts. Especially one young man, known to the locals as Sandy. He is not one of the brothers, but a volunteer who stepped in when one of the monks became ill. He spends his days working alongside these holy men and any spare time seems to be spent with the children who have been abandoned or orphaned. It is a rare to see him without at least seven or eight children shadowing him."
The scene switched to a picture of Blair kneeling to tie his shoelace, pretending not to notice the half dozen children creeping up on him. Suddenly the lead child gave a yell and they swarmed all over him. He disappeared, laughing under a pile of children.
"The young man declined to be interviewed and tried to avoid the cameras, but we managed to capture a few unguarded moments."
The scene changed again showing Blair, completely unaware he was being filmed. He sat beside a distraught woman who was clutching her dead child to her chest. He was quietly talking to her, comforting her. Eventually she turned to him and handed him her precious burden. He took it gently and nodded to her family. He stood and walked away with the baby as her family surrounded her and took over the role of comforter.
Jim took a good look at Blair. He was thinner, his hair lightened by the sun and his skin darkened. He had changed, except for his eyes. They were the same eyes that had stared back at him last time he had spoken to him, full of sadness for the death of something precious. For the death of their friendship. It was time to do something about that.
He was suddenly jolted out of his thoughts by the phone.
"Jim, have you been watching the documentary channel tonight?" Simon's voice boomed over the phone. "Daryl had to watch it as an assignment. Guess who's on it."
"I saw it Simon. I have to go there and at least speak to him. I'll need some time off."
"Ok, I'll clear it. You get down there and sort things out. Tell him we all miss him." In truth the bullpen was a much more subdued place since Blair's departure and many had been heard to say how dull it was without him. "I will. Thanks Simon."
As soon as he put the phone down it rang again. It was Megan.
"Did you see it?" She asked.
"Yeah. Did you know he was there?"
"No, Jim, I swear. He was going to ST Sebastian's. I thought you'd eventually go there and find him. I was surprised when you didn't."
"I did. When I got there it was all closed up. I knew they had gone abroad, but it never occurred to me that Blair had gone with them."
"Are you going there?" Megan's voice cut through his thoughts. "If you are, I'm coming with you. I promised Sandy I'd watch your back and that includes little trips to the jungle."
Jim knew he was fighting a losing battle. "Ok, how soon can you be ready?"
"Consider me packed. Pick me up on the way to the airport and don't try to ditch me or I'll hunt you down like the dog you are." Megan's voice was light but the meaning was clear.
Less than twenty four hours later they were on a flight to Peru. It was cramped and noisy but they had been lucky to get seats. Neither of them being short people, the found the lack of legroom constricting and by the time they landed they were both exhausted and bad tempered.
They were bickering as they came out of the gate and not really looking where they were going. Jim collided with a man waiting to meet someone and, as he turned to apologise, found himself looking into the eyes of brother Marcus.
"Brother James! What are you doing here?" The monk looked decidedly nervous.
"We've come to talk to Blair, if he'll agree to see us." Jim looked at the older man waiting for a reaction. "
You saw the documentary didn't you?" the monks shoulders slumped. "Blair was worried you might. They said they wouldn't use the footage of Blair, but when he found out that they had been filming me at work he bargained with them that they could use it if they destroyed the film of me."
"Were you expecting us? Is that why you're here, to turn us back?" Megan spoke for the first time.
"You must be Megan." He smiled at her. "Blair talks about you almost as much as he does about Jim. He said wild dingoes wouldn't keep you away once you knew where he was."
"Damn straight! Oops sorry!!" Megan blushed to the roots of her hair.
Marcus laughed. "Your just how he described you. I'm actually here to meet brother Andrew. He's the monk that Blair replaced. He's joining us and Blair will be returning home in a few days. He'll be sorely missed by the people here. Even the local medicine man has taken him under his wing, and that's no mean feat. He barely acknowledges us, but Blair is like the son he never had."
Looking over Jim's shoulder Marcus spotted his missing friend. "Brother Andrew, over here." He turned back to Jim. "I suppose you'd better ride with us. That way you won't get lost. Blair would never forgive me if I let anything happen to you."
An hour later Megan was beginning to revise her opinion that Jim was the world's worst driver. Brother Marcus threw the old jeep around with the blissful abandon of one who knows he is protected by God.
They pulled into the mission at high sped and screeched to a halt outside the main building. Before the jeep had stopped moving, Jim was out of it and scanning the camp for his friend. He quickly spotted him, crouched down among a group of children. They appeared to be playing some sort of game using the little round nuts that grew locally. With his back to them he didn't hear them approach.
"How many times do I have to tell you not to play with your food, Chief?" Jim stood back as Blair leapt to his feet and spun round.
"J-Jim, Megan when did you get here? How did you find...the documentary. I was hoping you wouldn't see it. It would have saved you a trip. I'm coming back to Cascade in a few days anyway."
"I couldn't wait that long." Jim's voice was quiet. "I've been looking for you for six months, I didn't want to risk that you might move on and I'd lose you again. We need to talk Chief, but not here. Somewhere more private. Now either hug me or slug me." Jim held his arms out at his sides.
"Ok." Blair squared up to the bigger man. Take that." He said and threw his arms around Jim's chest.
Much relieved Jim returned the hug. "Thanks Blair. I really needed that."
"Ahem." There was cough behind Jim, and Blair peered round him at Megan.
"Hey Megan. Surprise!" Blair grinned sheepishly at her.
She strode over and tapped Jim on the shoulder. "Excuse me."
Jim stood back. He had a suspicion he knew what was about to happen and didn't want to get in the way.
Blair stood with his arms out inviting a hug but she didn't move.
"Did you or did you not promise to stay in touch?" As she said this she prodded him in the chest.
He backed up a step and she followed. "Did I get one phone call, one letter?" Another prod, another step back. "What were you thinking of, running off like that and not letting me know?"
By now she had him backed up against the main building wall. "Have you any idea how worried I've been?" She stepped into his space and glared at him. Then she grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him into a world-class lip lock.
All the children who had been watching started laughing and chattering, pointing at the kissing couple. The adults, who might not have understood what as being said, but had clearly grasped the situation, were all snickering at the young man's predicament.
When they finally broke for air a small cheer went up. Blair was red to the soles of his feet and for once in his life speechless.
"Now I'll leave you two to talk but, when you're done, you and I are going to have a little 'discussion' of our own. In private." With that she gave him a quick kiss on the nose and walked away.
Blair looked over at his friend who was wiping the tears of laughter off his face.
"Thanks for helping me out there. I thought she was gonna kill me. Hell she still might. I'm gonna have to learn to breath through my ears with her around."
They both became serious.
"We really need to talk. I need to apologise. My behaviour was unforgivable. I'll understand if you don't want anything to do with me. I just needed to let you know how sorry I was. I would like you to come home, back to the loft, when you return to Cascade. I've still got your stuff there. You can take it to your new place if you decide not to come back." Jim was starting to ramble.
Blair held up his hands to stop him. "I accept your apology and offer my own. I was careless with my manuscript. It shouldn't have happened, but it did and I shouldn't have run away I should have stayed and talked it through. That does not make what happened afterwards alright. I will come back, as a trial to see how it goes, but only if you agree to see someone about your issues of trust. You can't spend your whole life waiting for people to betray you. It's not healthy. You've gotta start talking to me man and not bottling it up. We'll discuss it more when we get back. Now where's Megan, we need to have that 'discussion' "
"I think she went inside with brother Marcus." Blair turned toward the building. "Come on man we better find you both a bed for the night. It's pretty cramped, some of us might have to share." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively as he spotted Megan talking to brother Jeremy.
Jim followed him in shaking his head and laughing. "Table leg, Chief." He muttered just loud enough for Blair to hear.