Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate by Kerensa

Do Not Fold, Spindle or Mutilate - Kerensa

Warnings: See the end of the story. But only if you want a spoiler.

The younger man on the television screen was talking, his eyes rarely venturing up in his humiliation. You didn’t need to be a Sentinel to feel the pain pouring off of him.

“…my desire to impress both my peers and the world at large drove me to an immoral and unethical act. My thesis "The Sentinel" is a fraud. While my paper does quote ancient source material, the documentation proving that James Ellison... actually possesses hyper-senses is fraudulent. Looking back, I can say that it's a good piece of fiction. I apologize for this deception. My only hope is that I can be forgiven for the pain I've caused those that are close to me. Thank you.”

Ellison stared in stunned surprise at the television screen. Why the hell would he do that? Jim asked himself.

All around him, friends who had been teasing Jim for the last several days were muttering. Most of them were expressing their doubt that Hairboy would lie like that, others were pretending that they knew Jim wasn’t any ‘Sentinel’ all along. The detective ignored them all.

He just trashed his life for me. For me!

Jim thought of all the people who wouldn’t give up one thing, let alone their whole lives, for him and flinched. He couldn’t fathom the depth of Blair’s sacrifice, because the Sentinel couldn’t imagine giving up his job, his reputation, all of his friends and co-workers, just to save one person. Jim wasn’t sure what that said about him, but he did know what it said about Blair’s character.

How many times over the years has he covered for me; pretended that he was the one to do something funky to find the evidence? Like that time I tasted the mud, Blair covered that up by letting the guys think he’d shoved dirt into his mouth. Still can’t believe I did that, the Sentinel thought to himself.

And how many times have I let him do it? I just stood there and didn’t say anything, because I didn’t want people to think I was a freak. It didn’t bother me that they would think even worse things about Blair.

Around him, people dispersed back to their own desks, departments, whatever was appropriate. Ellison slowly sat down in his chair, stared off into space and thought. Intellectually, Jim knew that he was sitting there like some sort of mannequin, and attracting all sorts of attention to boot, but for the moment, he didn’t care.

His eyes widened as a light bulb figuratively went off over his head. Blair loves me!

That idea floored him. Ellison thought back, remembering all of the times that he had forgone Wonderburgers, because Blair said they weren’t good for him. He remembered the many and varied tests that he had tolerated.

I love him too! It had to be love, because Jim was too uptight to live with someone for very long. Even Carolyn was only able to stand living with him for a little over a year; Blair had lasted 4 times that long already.

Now, what to do with this realization?

~~~~

Later, at the hospital, outside of Simon’s room.

“...where do I get off following you around for three years pretending I was a cop, right?”

“This self-deprecation don't suit you, you know. You might have been just an observer, but you were the best cop I've ever met and the best partner I could have ever asked for. You've been a great friend and you've pulled me through some pretty weird stuff.”

Someone rolled a huge linen cart down the hallway; its clattering made enough noise that it distracted the Sentinel. So, Jim missed the slow rise of Blair’s head or how his body language went from sad to pissed off at the speed of light.

The detective realized that what he’d just said wasn’t exactly the apology that he’d planned, so he changed tactics, going for completely honest. "You are the best partner I've ever had," Jim repeated sincerely, trying to inject as much of the love he felt into his voice. "And... I realize that I love you," he admitted.

Blair looked up at him incredulously, his mouth hanging open. "You..." he stopped talking and glanced around the semi-crowded hospital corridor. "Come here a minute." Blair grabbed Jim's arm and pulled him along. At first he aimed for one of the small chapels that dotted the hospital corridors, but then changed his mind at the last minute with a shake of his head. "In here," Blair directed Ellison into the stairwell. Blair glanced over the side of the stairwell, first looking down and then up, to make sure they were alone, before turning to face the detective.

"I'm 'the best partner' you've ever had?" Jim nodded.

"Bullshit!" Sandburg barked at the older man, startling Jim with the intensity of the words, as well as the words themselves; Blair wasn't one to curse.

"Chief..."

"No, be quiet a minute. You've had your say, all week, in fact. All I have heard is how the crap with my mom has affected you, how it relates to you and what it means to you, your family and friends. You can shut the fuck up and listen to me for a while."

Ellison nodded, wide eyed, and shut his mouth. Rationally, he knew that Blair had every right to be pissed off, but he'd never had his younger friend turn on him this way. I guess I know how Blair feels now, he thought with a pang.

"I'm not your partner, that would indicate some degree of equality and that sure as hell never happened. You and Simon have spent the last four years alternately telling me that I'm 'not a cop' or guilting me into helping with a case, because I 'owed it to you'. I've been a lot of things, from a Guppy to someone who would 'hump a table leg', but I've never been your partner. So, don't feed me that crap. And now you say that you love me?!"

Jim nodded his head. He opened his mouth to answer, but a dagger-like look from the anthropologist stopped him cold.

"Well, I have one thing to say, if that's the way you treat people you love, then it's no wonder you are divorced."

The ex-Ranger's body jerked in surprise at that slam. Blair didn't go for the easy put down either. Before anger could take hold, a look of chagrin crossed Blair's face.

"I shouldn't have said that. Just because you shit all over me doesn't mean I should reciprocate." He turned around a moment, to regain his composure.

Ellison nodded, not sure if he was allowed to speak and not entirely sure that he wouldn't say something nasty back to the younger man if he did talk. So, he decided to keep his feelings to himself this time.

"My statement was crappy, but the idea behind it is true. You have treated me like I was your punching bag for quite a while now, and I've let you. That's at least partially my fault, but no more!" Blair stood up straight, stiffening his spine. "You wanted your life to be like it was before me, well, this is me gone."

"No! Chief, I didn't mean it!"

"Again, bullshit, Ellison!" Blair glared at him. "You meant every word of what you said. You were upset and scared, which I get, man, and spoke out in anger, as usual. Well, guess what, I was scared and upset too! You think I wanted my mom to ruin my life like this?!"

"No, but..."

"Don't give me that. You thought I had traded in four years of friendship for fame and money. I have news for you, Mr. Wonderful, I could have turned in my diss after just a few months, well before that fantastic trip to Peru to save Simon's ass." Blair waved a hand to stop him when Jim started to comment. “Be quiet, I'm not done talking yet. I gave you my word that you would read the dissertation before I turned it in to the committee, but of course, you couldn't believe that. I had to be a liar." Blair slammed the palm of his hand against the wall of the stairway. "Because you reading part of the opening chapter worked out so well."

Ellison felt himself becoming angry. He loved Blair and had decided to let the kid vent from his understandable pain and anger, but he wasn't going to let himself be attacked. "Now, wait a minute there."

"No, you wait a minute. You are not a scientist." Blair laughed, a barking, sarcastic sound. "Wow, revenge for all the 'you are not a cop' shit I've dealt with over the years. Well, no shit. I'm not a cop and why in crap's name would I want to be one?"

Jim blinked several times as he stared at his friend. "But, you're good at it."

"No, I'm not," Blair argued. "Anything I say, any ideas, suggestions, whatever, are sneered at by Simon, looked down on and generally ignored, at least until somebody else says it and then it's all, 'Oh, what a great idea!'" The last was spoken in a fake, falsetto sounding voice, like a Valley Girl on helium. "I've never gone to the Police Academy, so I'm too stupid to live."

"No one thinks you're stupid, Chief."

"Button it!" Blair snarled. "Yes, you do. All of you. I don't know how to take apart a gun, clean it and re-assemble it, in the dark, with both hands tied behind my back... with my tongue, so I am totally inadequate. So, tell me Mr. Ranger, would you write a report telling about... my being shot and expect it to sound compassionate and caring?”

“Of course not,” Ellison said, frowning.

“No, naturally. But you thought that the opening chapter of my dissertation showed how we weren’t really friends. Like I could turn something like that into the committee. But then, I make a copy of my dissertation, which does show my feelings for you and you’re pissed about that.”

“That’s because it was given out to the world,” Jim snarled, really getting pissed now.

“By my mother! You stupid wanker! My loving mother, who, for my own good, of course, hacked into my computer, getting past the password, onto the file, which had its own password and downloaded each chapter, with, you guessed it, had their own passwords.”

Ellison’s eyes darted around the stairwell, not knowing what to think. “Chief, that sounds like...”

“Like my wondrous mother just screwed me down the river, deliberately. Yeah, I know. And I’m going to figure that out. But, we’re not talking about Naomi here, we were discussing your ‘love’ for me. Not once, in all of this crap, which, by the way has fucked with my life too, did you ever give me even the slightest bit of the benefit of doubt. No, no. I had to have deliberately ruined your life. Apparently I squatted in that tiny room under your stairs, lived by your rules, and put up with shit from officers at the station FOR FOUR YEARS to cash in now.”

The Sentinel reared back when Blair yelled, his sensitive ears ringing like a fire alarm.

“So, now... now when things are back to normal you have decided that you love me. Well, it isn’t normal. My life has been changed irrevocably, but that doesn’t matter, does it? It isn’t your precious life, so who gives a flip!”

Blair took a deep breath and Jim could almost see the younger man centering himself. Even though Blair had been yelling, Ellison decided to give Sandburg a break; after all, it had been a rough few days.

“I am out of here,” Blair said in a much calmer tone.

“But, what are you going to do, now?” And what about me? the Sentinel added silently.

The anthropologist glanced up and away from his friend, or should that be, former friend. “I have quite a few options, actually.”

“You do?” Ellison hadn’t intended to sound quite so incredulous.

Blair rolled his eyes. “Yes, Jim, I do. I have a Bachelors and Masters Degree in Anthropology, a Bachelors in Psychology and another Bachelors and Masters degree in Archeology. I think I can find a job.”

The Sentinel was stunned to hear Blair’s credentials. He knew that the grad student was working towards his doctorate in anthropology, so presumably he had the degrees leading up to it, but hearing the others listed was a surprise.

“But what about...” He waved a hand in the air, indicating all that had gone on.

“Admitting fraud on television?” Blair filled in the blanks for him. “I’ll survive. People have admitted a helluva lot worse and been forgiven by the academic community. Besides, I’m going to sue the ass off of Rainier University, Berkshire Publishing and most likely, Naomi.”

Again, Ellison was gob smacked; Blair thought that lawsuits were the devil’s work. “Your mom?”

“Yes. As I just explained, she had to go to a lot of trouble to get my files. Mom is very smart, but not computer literate, so that means she got somebody to hack into my computer. That twit at Berkshire did not have my permission to publish my birth date, let alone any of my dissertation. The uni, or at least Chancellor Edwards, helped to railroad leaking excerpts of my paper and then had the nerve to fire me, again, without due cause.”

Jim knew that Blair was referring to the Ventriss case, where Blair had been dismissed from his job at the university because Brad’s rich father wanted it that way. Another situation where I was less than supportive, Jim realized.

“Uhm, Chief. You admitted to fraud, didn’t that give her the right to fire you?”

“No, not outright. There should have been a hearing before I was dismissed. And I would have won,” Blair said smugly.

“How is that?” Ellison was honestly curious.

The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg isn’t my dissertation.”

“It isn’t? What do you mean?”

“I officially changed the topic of my main dissertation after that crap with Brackett. I knew that if he could figure it out that easily, then other trained observers could as well and I wasn’t willing to risk your safety for a few letters after my name.”

“But what about your ride along?”

“My official topic is Police Societies and the Real Thin Blue Line. And no, before you get your jockey’s in a twist, I didn’t lie to you. I was writing a second dissertation about Sentinels; one that was supposed to be locked up until after we were both dead. The copy I finished was to be your private copy, to show you how I really feel about the magnificence of your abilities.”

Blair looked away, swallowing hard and Jim felt all of two inches tall. “I didn’t know,” he admitted softly.

“No, you didn’t. Because every time I tried to talk about my Sentinel studies, you pushed me away.”

“I was... scared.” It was hard for Jim to say that word; as an Ellison he had been taught that fear was disgusting.

“I know you were.” Blair sighed, his anger, not exactly gone, but tempered somewhat. “You expected me to tow the line and know each and every thing about being a Sentinel, without giving me the tools to learn.” Jim shook his head in denial and Blair rolled his eyes. “Tests, Jim, tests. You hated them and I wasn’t exactly happy with having to give most of them, but without tests, I have no results and with no results, I have no answers.”

“Questioning a suspect,” the Sentinel stated. “If you don’t question a suspect, you can’t get the answers to solve a case. I-I never thought about it that way before, Chief.”

Blair nodded. “Again, that was partly my responsibility; I should have explained why I needed to do the tests. Or at least tried harder.” Blair crossed his arms and looked heavenward. “And you didn’t give a damn that refusing to do most of the tests invalidated my work and our agreement.”

“What do you mean?” Jim felt his hackles rising again in defense.

“I needed results to validate my findings, otherwise my paper is just so much speculation. And hello, we had an agreement. I was to help you control your senses and in turn, I wrote my dissertation on you. You manage your senses just fine, but I was a traitor because I actually wrote the flippin’ paper.”

Ellison winced, because Blair did have a point. “You’re right,” he admitted.

Sandburg looked up in surprise. “Thanks, but I’m still outta here.”

“But, I love you,” Jim offered again.

“And I love you, Big Guy. But I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you. When the fur starts to fly, it must be Blair’s fault, is your motto.”

“I... what about the loft?”

Blair just stared at him. “I don’t think that’s going to work either, Jim.”

Ellison felt a sharp pain in his stomach. “Will you stay in touch?” he asked desperately.

The anthropologist nodded. “Yeah, we’ll talk at times. Professor Stoddard asked me to go on a dig with him, several weeks ago. I hadn’t even considered it before and I sure as hell was surprised when he called me an hour ago and re-offered. There’s no telling how long we’ll be out in the field, but hey, cell phones work most any where,” Blair said with false enthusiasm, trying to end the conversation on an up note.

“I’d like that.” Jim pulled Blair into a hug; he was encouraged when the younger man gripped him back.

“Bye, Jim.” Blair let go and hurried down the stairs.

“Goodbye, my love,” Jim whispered, as he watched the best thing in his life hurry away.

The End.

*This is not a happily ever after story for the boys. So, even though Jim realizes that he loves Blair and Blair admits that he loves Jim, they don’t get together. Sorry.

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Notes: Betaed by Bobbie. For Patt who made a generous donation to the Moonridge Auction for a story where Jim realizes he loves Blair for the first time.

There are a few sections that are direct quotes from the episode. See, I’m giving the credit to the show, so I’m not stealing them. Also, I used the Episode Transcripts from Becky’s wonderful site, (thank you, Becky) which Patt was so kind to send me the link to.

Warning, Blair curses quite a bit in this one, which is contrary to normal Blair behavior, but he is really mad in this one.