While Sentinels Sleep
Summary: Epilogue to Love Kills. Originally posted to SentinelAngst.
Disclaimer: Canon characters do not belong to me. They are the property of Pet Fly and Paramount. I don't make any money etc., etc.
Notes: Thanks, as always, to my beta, Becky. This story is dedicated to my dear friend Brook.
If I had a penny for each one of his thoughts, I would be a rich man...
He's standing there, watching the rain fall like tears from the heavens. I wonder sometimes if the rain is really just the unshed tears of men like Jim. I've been watching him for the past twenty-four hours, willing the damn around his heart to break, hoping that the flood gates will open even just a crack. He's barely said two words to me since we came back from Lila's funeral, and I guess I shouldn't be surprised by his unwillingness to talk. After all, I'm the "talker" in this partnership, and Jim, well, Jim is just the opposite.
If it weren't for the slight sway of his body, one would think that stoic Ellison had actually managed to turn into a statue. It's amazing how still he is, how perfectly marble his expressions can be. It's taken me years to chisel away at his rock-hard exterior, and only now am I beginning to see the soft center that lies beneath the stone.
For a minute I actually thought he might say something. He's turned his head slightly towards me, and his gaze no longer has that far-off look. An untrained eye would have thought that Jim had zoned out, but I know better. You see, Jim has a way of zoning "in" more often than he actually zones "out." I know that sounds strange, but it's frighteningly true. Jim has this way ... this way of tuning out the world around him and being utterly alone. It scares me -- this ability to live within himself without letting anyone inside. I'm sure he sees it as a way of protecting himself, but I see it very differently. Jim may be the protector of the tribe, but I am the protector of the Sentinel. The villains in this world are no match for the villains that ravage his heart.
He's shaking his head now, his left hand coming up to rub the pain-etched creases in his forehead. Any second now he'll let out that heart-wrenching sigh that tugs at my heartstrings. I can't imagine the pain he's going through, but I can do something to make it better.
Tentatively, I reach out my hand, snagging the tense muscles in his shoulder between my fingertips. He doesn't pull away, if anything I think he leans back a little, trying to edge closer to the comfort he so greatly needs. I tug on his shoulder, gently pulling him away from the window towards the couch. He doesn't fight me, a true testament to the hurt he must be feeling.
I sit down on the far end of the couch, tucking a pillow onto my lap and patting it once for emphasis. Curling my legs into a lotus position, I wait for him to make the decision that I have already made for him. He doesn't protest, only hesitates for a moment, trying to salvage a bit of control from the situation. I let him, knowing that he needs to think that the entire decision to lay down on the couch with his head on my lap has been entirely his idea.
Slowly, he lays down, his head hovering just above the pillow. I wonder sometimes if he thinks I'm going to pull the pillow out from under him, like some cruel joke that Lucy might play on Charlie Brown. My hand settles on his forehead, gently pressing his head back into the soft confines of the pillow. I long for the day when his head falls back in my lap without that hesitation.
His eyes are closed, his breathing evening out into calm, whispering breaths. The lines of pain on his forehand have smoothed, and his jaw is relaxed in sleep. I smile to myself as I run my hand along the rugged cheekbone, cupping the side of his face and turning it gently towards me.
I mutter more to myself than to him.
I will protect you.