Gift of Memory

Blair's computer was staring at him. Jim hunched over his coffee cup, wishing the laptop perched on the back of the sofa would fall off, develop a virus, get a dead battery, SOMETHING. But nope, it was still there, giant icon dominating the screen, still demanding to be used.

*Hrumph. Not this time, Chief.* The Sentinel grabbed his mug and retreated to his room, determined to do something worthwhile that did not include falling for his partner's crazy plots involving computers and icons that said 'click me'.

Five minutes later Jim found himself back downstairs, glaring at the letters that could be read from his room even without sentinel enhanced sight. It wasn't curiosity or anything. Just the fact that he couldn't tune out the laptop's motor. Since it wasn't accompanied by the tacking at keys and heartbeat of his partner, it was too unusual to tune out. He couldn't care less about the bright red bulls eye surrounded by blinking text of 'click me!' that was obviously left for him.

"Aw, hell," he groaned. He couldn't even convince himself. And since the culprit had fled the loft before Jim woke, leaving behind the vague note of 'gone out for awhile' that meant he probably wouldn't return for quite awhile, there was really only one option.

Jim moved before he could convince himself otherwise, grabbing the computer and heading around to sit on the couch, mindful of the cord that threatened to tangle his feet. He set it down on the coffee table and tapped the icon, leaning back in expectation of some obscure test Blair had dreamed up.

There was a brief stutter as the machine kicked to life, a rattle of memory moving as the screen blanked. Then the speakers came to life, letting loose Blair's jungle tunes that Incacha had labeled earth music so long ago. With that, the parade of pictures began.

It started simply, images coming from the left, lingering, then sliding off to the right. It was mostly posed pictures, of Jim in his army uniform, clippings about his time in Peru and joining the Cascade PD. There were a few of Blair, the wonder kid that was attending college at sixteen, graduation shots, snippets of papers that had grabbed the academic world's attention.

The next picture snagged all of Jim's attention. It was the news article about the Switchman case, the first time he and Blair had worked together - hell, first time they'd met! The next few were the same, cases they'd handled, from small things like vandals and the occasional crook at the wrong place at the wrong time to major hitters like Kincaid and Lash.

The pictures continued, interspaced with mementos like their plane tickets to Peru when they had to rescue Simon. There was even footage from what had to be the department's cameras, showing a Golden-blinded Jim talking a drugged Blair off a squad car, taking away a gun and cradling the hysterical, hallucinating grad student. *I don't believe this! How did he get his hands on this?* The Sentinel shook his head in continued amazement at his partner's abilities.

The show went on and on, passing through vacation photos to stills from Blair's infamous press conference to his graduation from the Academy.

Five years, caught in pictures. It was all here, the good, the bad - Jim winced. And yes, with Golden, Alex, the fountain incident, and the dissertation mess, even the ugly. Joy, pain, laughter, tears... friendship. He swiped away wetness that threatened to blur the litany of memories as the screen settled on an image of Blair as he was now, slightly tidier, hair regrown but not quite what it had been when they'd met.

"Hey Jim." Blair's familiar voice was distorted by the electric medium, too tinny to be the anthropologist. "Did you know this makes five years?" There was a shaky laugh. "I decided this makes a better anniversary present than silverware." A slight pause. " 'The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay.' I guess we're living proof of that. Five years ago I never would've dreamed that I'd be shot at, kidnapped - died - by now. I thought I'd have finished my doctorate, still teaching at Rainier maybe, not a cop, not a part of Major Crimes. But I never would've dreamt I'd find you; my holy grail, the brass ring - partner, brother, friend. My Sentinel. And ya know what, Jim?" He could see his absent partner's brilliant smile in his mind. "Although I could've done without some of the nasty parts, it's so totally been worth it. Thanks, man."

The music stopped, the screen flickered, and returned to the main menu.

Blair eased the door to the loft open, knowing Jim could hear his heartbeat outside the building but preferring the psychological comfort of pretending he could sneak in. Oddly enough, there was no comment from Jim. Since he expected some sort of wise ass comment, actually, ANY comment, Blair gave up all pretense of stealth and stepped inside. Jim was sitting on the couch, the program flickering through the early pictures. *That's weird, I thought he wouldn't be able to keep away from it this long.* Realization that Jim still hadn't acknowledged his presence sparked a different train of thought. "Hey, man, you ok? Jeeze, please tell me you didn't zone on that!"

"It's ok, Chief," Jim managed. He looked up, shocking the younger man with traces of tears down his face. "I'm fine."

"So uh, what'd you think?"

Jim stood and moved over to face him. "Are you sure?" the Sentinel asked, sky blue eyes scanning his face. "That it's worthwhile? After... after everything?"

Blair didn't try to hide his smile. "Yeah man. I'm sure. Are you?"

The Guide was suddenly engulfed in a hug. "Hell yeah." He laughed. "Besides, I don't trust your taste in silverware."


All thanks must go to Aislinn, the amazing lady who started my new addiction to the guys, proofs the fics about them, and the guilty party of this story's inspiration, a gift all in itself. Thank you.

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