We stumble in a tangled web,
decaying friendships almost dead
And hide behind a mask of lies
We twist and turn and we avoid,
all hope of salvage now devoid
I see the truth inside your eyes

“Heeey, Sentinel, what’s-”

Ellison snarled at the rookie patrolman, his icy glare just daring the fool to continue his partially joking comment. The idiot had just enough sense to back off, letting Jim stalk the once familiar halls to Major Crimes. The instant he stepped out of the stairway and into the bullpen, noise almost ceased as assorted cops and criminals stared at him with a mixture of visible emotions, ranging from fear to impressed awe.

Henri Brown, still the same after a year, was the first to act, breaking his paralysis to move forward and greet his former colleague. “Hey Ellison, long time no see. How’s it hanging, man?”

Jim gave him a small, tight smile that barely thawed the ice in his eyes. It was an obvious effort not to have an even worse reaction to the man. “Pretty cool, H. I’m here to see Simon.”

“That’s cool, man. He’s still in the same place, and still tryin’ to bellow our eardrums out.”

He gave the fake smile again and moved through the silent bullpen as quickly as possible, avoiding eye contact and tuning out the whispers that grew in his wake, “Sentinel” hissing around him like a verbal brand of shame. As in the old days, he knocked and entered even as Simon called for him to come in. He slipped in the door, closing it before turning to face Simon-

And Blair.

Jim froze, the proverbial deer in the headlights, shocked to see the other man sitting calmly before Simon’s desk. Blair was having a similar reaction, dark eyes wide are he took in Ellison. For a moment, their gazes locked, and Jim easily read the other man’s emotions. Surprise, dismay.

And foremost, pity.

For Jim.

Something deep inside the Sentinel that had been forming for over a year finally hardened into complete being.

So take all this noise into your brain
and send it back again
I'll bear the cost, shed my skin, call
you up and then...
I'll say the words out loud

Blair winced as Jim’s already pale eyes turned polar, firming into an evil glare he had seen directed at criminals too many times. Never at him. But then again, what he’d done was probably deserving of the look.

“Jim, good to see you again,” Simon said, trying to break the uncomfortable silence. “Thanks for coming in to help clear up the Conkle situation-”

“How could you?” Jim’s softly venomous question was directed at Simon, but his gaze never left Blair’s. “I thought you knew better than to get _him_ anywhere near me again.”

Blair spoke before the Captain could. “We worked on the Conkle case together, man. They need both our testimonies.”

“Testimonies. From a freak _and_ a traitor. How nice.”

He didn’t try to hide the anger that crossed his face. He’d spent a lonely year working through their issues, angsting WAY too much before finally coming to his current, somewhat more stable state. “I did what I could. Why didn’t you?”

An equal fury finally appeared on Jim’s usually impassively angry face. “That’s rich, coming from you. As I recall, you’re the one who told the world that I am a Sentinel.”

Blair jumped up, unable to take this abuse sitting down. “What should I have done? I went up there, denied every damn word I wrote, and they didn’t believe me! It was all there, black and white, in three years of cases! Your senses, putting criminals away, in the perfect little superhero story of the century! I couldn’t do a damn thing about that, though God knows I tried!” He stalked up to Jim, getting directly in his face. “At that point I did all that I could to run damage control to keep things from getting even more out of hand, which is a hell of a lot more than you did! Bitch bitch bitch about the evils of the Sandburgs, that’s it,” he hissed. “And you know what, Jim? I don’t care what I did, or what you did, to keep this Sentinel thing under wraps. I’m still sorry it happened, and I have been since the day Mom sent the diss off to Graham in an effort to help me- us.”

Ellison continued glaring at him for a moment, then turned on his heel and stormed out of the room. Blair went to the office’s door. “You hear me, Ellison?” he called. “I’m sorry!”

You could resurrect a thousand
words to deceive me more and more
A thousand words will give the
reasons why I don't need you

The ride down to the parking garage was silent except for the creaking of gears and the wild thumping of his heart, harsh rasps of breathing playing counterpoint. Damn Simon, damn Sandburg, damn this whole fucking Sentinel thing! He slammed a fist against the wall, needing to release energy somehow. Never, no matter how long he lived, would he forget the gut-wrenching feeling when Sandburg came on TV with no warning whatsoever, and deliver that damning press conference confirming that yes, Jim Ellison was a Sentinel. The insanity of the press and criminals had quickly followed, accompanied by lawsuits, reexamination of every fucking case he’d even looked at, every facet of his life coming under scrutiny.

Blair, in the meantime, moved out- or was kicked out, depending how one looked at it- gotten the damn diss published and on the bestseller list for months. Jim moved to the country, desperate to get away from the attention, which had _finally_ died down somewhat. And wouldn’t the vultures love this little reunion, with the authorities reviewing one of their last cases.

Hell. No. Not happening.

‘I’m sorry.’ Yeah, that really worked. Two fucking little words were supposed to make up for the loss of his life, all that torn apart by fifteen chapters, a thousand pages, all in one bestseller.

Hell. No. Not happening.

Time manipulates your heart,
preconceptions torn apart
Begin to doubt my state of mind
But I won't go down on what I said
I won't retract convictions read
I may perplex, but I'm not blind

“Thanks, Mr. Sandburg! I wanna be a Sentinel when I grow up!”

Blair gave the kid a practiced smile, feeling almost sick to his stomach as he handed back the signed book. “You’re welcome, kid. Enjoy.”

Thankfully, the bratling was the last of the crowd, as the bookstore employees shooed the readers away so he could have a quick break. Blair sighed and leaned forward, resting elbows on the table and scrubbing his face. Dear lord, he was worn out. And his hand was this close to falling off.

“Honey? You ok?”

He raised his head long enough to give Megan a grin. “How’d you get in here?”

She shrugged. “One, told them I was going to play security for ya. Two, told them we were married.”

He laughed and pulled her into a hug. “Truth wins through again, huh?” They kissed, passion still quite present despite almost four years together. “God, I’m glad to see you.”

“Oh? Something wrong?”

He sighed and rested his forehead against her curls. “A kid just told me he wants to be a Sentinel.”

“Acceptance is good,” she hesitantly said, obviously not seeing any problem.

“But wanting the spikes, the pain, overloading on the bad even if there is a good.... Come on, it’s a gift, but not many people could handle it. Especially not some snot nosed little twit.”

“Second thoughts again?”

He sighed. “Releasing the diss? Every day.”

“But what about the students? The Sentinels of tomorrow.”

“You’ve been listening to my agent too much. But yeah. They make it worth it.” He sighed. *Making sure other Sentinels don’t grow up considering themselves freaks, repressing their abilities.... It’s the only worthwhile thing about it.*

“Dr. Sandburg?” the manager said, indicating the growing line.

“Yeah, sure, great,” he replied as Megan slipped off his lap. “Bring on the masses.”

After two little old ladies that gave him looks that really disturbed him while singing their copies of his biography, he looked up to greet the next autograph and question hungry fan. His forced cheerful words of greeting died in his throat as the blood drained from his face.

A tall, well built man moved smoothly up to the table, sliding the annotated biography, detailing his years as a police observer, across the table. His hair had receded a little bit more, but grown out enough to cover all but the high forehead. A few more smile - frown? - lines covered his face, but he didn’t look very different at all.

“Jim,” Blair whispered.

So take all this noise into your brain
and send it back again
I'll bear the cost, shed my skin, call
you up and then...
I'll say the words out loud

“I finally read it,” he admitted, deciding to skip the formalities that would only make things harder. “All of it. And... I don’t agree with all of it. I can’t. But I think I get it more now.” The next words were hard, one of the hardest admissions he’d ever had to make. But he did have to make it. “And you’re not the only one who misses... you know. The way things used to be.” He looked directly at Blair. “I’m sorry, too.”

You could resurrect a thousand
words to deceive me more and more
A thousand words will give the
reasons why I don't need you

Never in his life could Blair have dreamed he’d hear those words from Jim Ellison. He never dared to, leaving only a vague nostalgia he never voiced outside of that one, silly book. “Do you-” He swallowed, suddenly having trouble speaking. “Do you think we might give friendship another try?”

Jim smiled, a tentative ghost of what he remembered. “Try signing the book, Chief, and we’ll let the rest of the people get their piece of you. Then I’m willing to give it a go.”

Chief. He laughed, and damming propriety, stood to lean over the table and give Jim a hug, uncertain on both sides, but looked damn good for the shutterbugs waiting in line. Flashes went off like fireworks, for what had to be a front-page story.

I'll say the words out loud. I'll say a
thousand words or more
Manipulation. Fabrication.
Conversation. Annihilation
I'll say a thousand words or more
Damnation. Frustration. Elevation.
I'll say a thousand words or more

“Welcome back, I’m Jay Leno and here are my guests, Dr. Blair Sandburg and Captain Jim Ellison! So, uh, what are you guys up to?”

Blair gave the man a reassuring grin. “Starting a school, actually. A place where Sentinels can learn to train their abilities, along with those who want to help them along.”

“So basically Xavier’s School for the Sensory Gifted, huh?”

Jim bit back annoyance. He knew this wasn’t going to be fun, but still. Well, better to take control now. “Close enough, but it’s not just for Sentinels. If you don’t want to zone, you should have a trained partner along. We’ll be teaching people how to do that too.”

“Fascinating. Now, Dr. Sandburg, I was rereading your book the other day, and I’ve got a question.” The partners shared a look. They’d suspected something along these lines would be coming, but anticipation didn’t really help. “See, you’re really vague about why you two went your separate ways. I always wanted to know how come you separated almost seven years, never even speaking to each other, and suddenly you’re starting a school! What gives?”

Another look, then Jim spoke. “When we first started working together, Blair helped me with my senses so he could write his dissertation. It accidentally got sent to a publisher, who-”

“Was a general asshole,” Blair filled in, before he could go too overboard about Sid Graham. “He acted as my agent without my permission, until I had to do something before the press trampled Jim to determine the truth. Or more likely, just make up what they thought was the truth. So I held that press conference.” He winced.

“I wasn’t consulted about it, so it was a total shock for me. I... don’t take shock well. We blew up at each other, and just sort of let it spiral out of control from there.” Blair gave him a somewhat apologetic grin and thwapped him on the shoulder.

“Wow. Ok, I have got to ask this. Someone pointed out to me you two do that... touchy feely thing a lot.”

“Well, humans are naturally tactile creatures, and with enhanced sense of touch,” Blair explained, “it gives more input on the surroundings. Extra strong senses, so it takes a bit more to meet average needs.”

“Ooooh. Well, thank you for clearing that up. See, the woman that told me this thought you were gay!”


You could resurrect a thousand
words to deceive me more and more
A thousand words will give the
reasons why I don't need you

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!!!!

The Sentinel, Jim, Blair, and any basically everything but the fic itself belongs to Pet Fly and Paramount. The song, Thousand Words, is totally Savage Garden's. No infringement intended.