Detective Jim Ellison stared at the franticly scurrying paramedics as they swarmed over the body of his friend, his captain. It was only the sound of the steady-albeit accelerated- beating of Simon's heart and cranky comments to the medics that kept the detective from rushing to his friend's side. He knew he'd only be in the way, but that did nothing to soothe his frustration. "Dammit!" he snarled, bringing his fist back and almost savoring the meaty thunk as weak flesh met the unyielding metal that covered the engine of his truck.

"Jim, let it go," Blair coached from his side, almost forgotten in the Sentinel's anger.

He snarled wordlessly in frustration. "I can't."

"Come on man." Blair nodded towards the sheet covered form on another gurney. "You got the shooter, he's not gonna be dealing drugs to school kids anymore, and there's no lawyer to get him off where he's going. And Simon's gonna be fine too."

"It shouldn't have happened in the first place!" How to make the anthropologist understand? Sometimes Blair could be so oblivious. "I should've noticed something! I didn't even hear him until just before he fired!"

"Hey, great power comes with great responsibility, man, not an eternal guilt trip.You heard him in enough time to save Simon, right?"

"But he still got shot! If he hadn't been wearing a vest...." God, how could he joke about this? Didn't he get it? "Simon was going as backup! He shouldn't even have been in the line of fire."

Sudden understanding flashed across Blair's face. "It's not your fault."

"He shouldn't have been shot, hell, he shouldn't have been there in the first place except I had a hunch! He had no reason to be there, and now...." The Sentinel looked away, clinging to the guilt like a lifeline. "It should've been me," he whispered, thinking it was too soft for any ears but his own.

"Jim, look at me." When he refused, a hand gripped his shoulder, clenching tight enough to almost be painful. "Look at me!" the Guide demanded. Against his will, Jim looked down. Even in his anger - his guilt - he was riveted by the intense gaze from those corduroy blue eyes. "Jim, it is not your fault," Blair declared, voice quiet but full of conviction. "I hate to be the one to tell you this buddy, but you are only human. You can not do everything, you can not be everywhere at once, you are not Superman. There is only so much you can do, Sentinel senses or not. Simon was acting as backup. He knew - he KNOWS - the risks, and he did what he was supposed to. He kept you from getting shot so you could take down the perp. If he didn't know what he was doing, he wouldn't be captain. He did his job, and you did yours. So stop blaming yourself for a job well done!"

Jim pulled away, managing to tear his gaze away from his friend. "I should've heard him. I mean, come on Chief, if I can hear your heartbeat, I should damn well be able to find some drug dealer in an empty warehouse!"

"Exactly! 'Empty.' You didn't even know he was there in the first place."

"I should have!" It was irrational, totally baseless except for maybe Blair's 'fear based reaction' theory, and he knew it. But dammit, Simon had been hurt. There was no excuse for that. The Sentinel had failed to protect his friend, his colleague. JIM had failed. That was not acceptable.

"Jim." The soft syllable, although a distant whisper, instantly had his attention, yanking his head around to find Simon looking at him even as the captain was being loaded into the ambulance.

Piggybacking sight upon hearing, he zoomed in to see him smiling.

"Good job, Detective," Simon breathed, masking the words as grumbling about his condition. "Now get your butt back to the station. I want your report on my desk by the time I get discharged." He hesitated, trying to see if the Sentinel was actually listening. "And thanks for the save." The door shut, sending Jim back to his surroundings.

As if he too heard Simon's words, Blair again rested a hand on Jim's shoulder, feather light but always grounding. "You aren't the reason he's injured," the Guide declared. "You're the reason he's alive."

He rolled the words through his mind, balancing guilt against the admittedly biased words of friendship. Both looked true, both sounded false, neither provided a good option. "I just-"

"Excuse me? Detective Ellison?" Both men looked at the approaching medic.

Jim stepped forward to intercept the woman. "That'd be me."

She nodded. "I just wanted to tell you that we've sent him off. He should be fine and back to work soon, if he actually wears the sling. And...." She hesitated, then made an almost visible metal shrug. "Well, just wanted to say nice save. From the sound of it, if you'd been any later he'd be dead, not pissed. Anyway, sorry to take up your time." With that, she jogged off.

Blair moved up to his side, giving him a mock punch on the shoulder. "There! You see, man, you saved the day."

*But. But Simon shouldn't have been there, but he shouldn't have been hurt at all, but what if it had been Blair, but what if he hadn't been fast enough.... But.*

The anthropologist waited, letting Jim work though his thoughts, but finally gave up on the silence.

"Fine," he sighed, throwing his hands up, "whatever. But you can guilt trip in the truck driving home, where it's warm."

*But Simon's ok, but it wasn't Blair, but the crook is down for good, but everything's pretty much ok.... But.*

When had the internal voice he'd labeled as his conscience started sounding like Sandburg? "Hey Chief."

Blair stopped his absent minded rant to turn and look back. Jim grinned. It was weak, a feeble excuse at humor, but it was a start. "Thanks."

It wasn't much... but it was a start.


Many, many thanks to Assata, who nagged me into finishing and provided an ending when I got stumped. Gracias amiga, for being my cheering squad. You do realize I'll have to return the favor, right? ;)
Also, a really big thank you to Aislinn for providing my Sentinel addiction and hosting my therapy - er, writing. :)

Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home

I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive

Any questions? Complaints? Screams of outrage that I actually consider myself a writer and/or dared to show this in public? Tell me! Send it all to Norcumi@backtick.net! I love mail!!!!

Y'all know the drill. The Sentinel is a Registered Trademark of Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. All Rights Reserved. Used without permission. Any use of copyrighted material or trademarks in this file should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. No profit is being made, I'm just out to have fun, so please don't sue, unless you want to end up with a lot of college bills.