Author's note: This story takes place after Rhonda's story "Payment", in which Lash returned for more torment. This was my first TS fanfic that I had written, inspired by her story. Professor Kinyon, a wonderful character creation by Kris Williams, makes only a cameo appearance in this story. (At the time this was written, I was a relative newbie to the show & couldn't see it locally, so I had no real clue who the characters were, besides the main 2 until later.) {Forgive me, Kris} :-)

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Family

by Wendy Myers

"Detective Ellison?" Jim had just got home when the phone rang. The voice on the line was female. "Yeah," he replied.

"Detective, this is Professor Kinyon," said the woman. Jim's thoughts instantly flashed on Blair. "Could you come down to the University?"

"What's wrong?" he asked, instantly worried.

"I'll explain when you get here. Please hurry." she said urgently. Jim was already out the door before she hung up.

The trip to the University was plagued with worried thoughts. Jim knew it had been too soon for Blair to return to work, but the young man had insisted. "It's only a night class," he had explained. "I'll be all right. Besides, I've got some paperwork to do." Jim had reluctantly relented and let him go.

When Jim arrived at the University, Professor Kinyon was waiting for him in the parking lot. Jim quickly shut off the engine and hopped out of the truck. "Where is he?" he asked. Professor Kinyon grabbed his arm and quickly led him to the Anthropology Building, explaining as they went. "Blair was going to teach a class tonight, but he never showed. I got worried, especially after that madman had abducted him last week."

David Lash had returned to Cascade, although presumed dead, and had not only kidnapped and severely beaten Blair, but had kidnapped Naomi, who had been visiting. Jim and Simon succeeded in finding them, however, and Simon killed Lash with a shot to the head, making sure he never returned again.

Professor Kinyon led Jim down the hall towards Sandburg's office, where they found a student hanging around the door. The student, a young lady, looked at them, worried. Professor Kinyon introduced them and explained. "I sent Melissa here to check upon Blair when he didn't show." She led him into the office, to a particular corner in the cramped room. "This is how she found him. He hasn't moved since."

What Jim saw made his chest tighten. The young anthropologist was on the floor, curled up in a tight fetal ball, staring into space. "How long has he been like this?" he asked as he knelt down beside his Guide. Blair didn't acknowledge the older man's presence.

"Like this, not long, maybe five minutes," Melissa replied. Just before that, he was rocking back and forth and muttering to himself." She paused. "Who's Lash?"

Jim snapped up to face her, startling her. She took a couple steps backward. "I'm sorry! That's who he was muttering about."

Jim shook his head regretfully. "A nightmare," he replied and left it at that. He knelt back down and placed a hand on the young man's shoulder. He didn't need his Sentinel touch to feel the rock hard tension in his young friend. "Blair?" he inquired quietly. *Come on, Chief. Work with me.* Blair continued to stare, not acknowledging the detective before him. Jim got into a better position of the floor so he could look into his friend's eyes. Nothing. The familiar light Jim had regularly seen this partner's eyes and admired as part of his personality wasn't there. *Please, Blair.* he pleaded silently. "Blair?" he tried again, his voice remained quiet and calm. No response.

"Is there anything I can do?"

Jim looked up behind him to see Professor Kinyon still standing there concerned. Melissa was gone. "Uh..." he faltered. "No, thank you, Professor," he replied quietly. She nodded. "Let me know if you need anything," she said and she turned to leave. Before she left, she added, "Blair's very fortunate to have a friend like you, Detective Ellison. Take care." And she left.

Once she left, Jim returned his attention to Blair. The anthropologist hadn't moved. *Fortunate? Yeah, right.* Jim gave a short laugh. The frown and concerned look returned and he used his medic skills and senses to determine his friend's physical condition. The bruises he had received from Lash's encounter were still there but slowly fading. Jim ran his sensitive fingers along Blair's ribs. Lash had succeeded in breaking four of them last time. It had been a week since the incident and the ribs were healing, but they were not completely healed yet. *Got to get him out of this position.* Jim sat down and made himself comfortable on the floor. The detective then reached over and gently pulled the younger man to him. He gently, but firmly uncurled Blair from his fetal ball, then settled the young man on his lap, wrapping an arm protectively around his shoulder. While trying to relieve some of the tension in Blair's arms, Jim spoke softly to him. "It's all right. You're safe. No one's gonna hurt you." Did he sound convincing? Some part of his mind tried to convince himself of the same thing. How safe was he really?

Lash had abducted Blair from the loft the first time. He was supposed to be safe there. This last time Lash had taken him from his own office here at the University, another place where he was supposed to be safe. *Some Blessed Protector I am. I couldn't protect him or his mother from that bastard.* Professor Kinyon's words echoed in his mind....

"Blair's very fortunate to have a friend like you..."

Jim gave a short, humorless laugh. "I'm sorry, Chief." he said, still rubbing Blair's arms. "I'm so sorry you ever got caught up with this."

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A couple of hours passed and not much changed. Jim had started to really worry an hour ago and called Simon to meet him in the anthropologist's office.

Simon had rushed over to the University after the phone call he received from Jim. The detective sounded really worried. Simon had never known Jim to be extremely worried or afraid of anything until Sandburg came along. Now the kid brought a new change in his best detective, besides the senses thing, which Simon still didn't fully understand.

"Jim?" Simon called from the office doorway.

Jim opened his mouth to call out his captain when a hand suddenly grabbed a handful of his shirt and he heard a small, fear-filled whimper. He looked down at his partner. The young man had shifted and was trying to burrow deeper into the detective's chest. His eyes were wide with terror. The Sentinel tightened his grip on his Guide. "It's all right, Blair," Jim soothed. "It's only Simon."

Blair looked at Jim for the first time in several hours and Jim saw, for one heart-wrenching moment, pure fear and helplessness in his friend's eyes. The look was fleeting as recognition set in, but the hold of Jim's shirt didnít change. Jim shifted his grip on the young man and pointed in Simon's direction. The captain had found his way to the back of the office and was now kneeling before them. "See?" Jim assured calmly. Blair timidly followed the pointed finger and set his eyes upon Simon. He looked back at Jim for confirmation, then back at Simon.

"Hello, Blair," Simon said softly, then looked back at Jim for an explanation. Blair relaxed a little more in Jim's arms but still didn't let go.

"Thanks for coming, Simon," Jim said, looking up at the captain. "I think some kind of noise scared him, but I'm not sure. I know it was too soon after Lash's attack for him to come back....Whoa!" At the mention of Lash, Blair instantly tensed up, eyes wide with terror and was trying to scoot away.

"Heard him in the hall," Blair started babbling. "He was out there, so I hid." He started rocking back and forth, shaking his head. "Didn't find me...didn't find me..." Simon closed in and laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. Blair flailed at the touch and cried out, trying to scramble away, ignoring the minor pain in his side.

Jim grabbed the young man's arms and commanded briskly. "Blair!"

Blair's head snapped up and looked at the older man, eyes filled once again with helplessness and fear. "Listen to me!" Jim ordered. He gave Blair's shoulders a small, but firm shake. "Listen to me! Lash. Is. Dead." Blair started shaking his head, muttering, "No....no...." Jim looked at Simon for help.

Simon picked up on Jim's silent plea. "Jim's right, Blair," he said calmly. Blair looked at the captain, eyes desperately searching for hope. "Sandburg," he continued, "I shot him myself. He's not coming back." Blair looked back at Jim, who nodded.

"It's over, Chief," he said quietly.

Tears welled up in Blair's eyes and his breathing hitched. Jim pulled his partner into a reassuring embrace. "Shhh...it's all right..." Jim said softly, rubbing the young man's trembling back. Simon watched silently and placed a hand on Jim's shoulder. Jim looked up and saw understanding and concern in the captain's face. They sat quietly until the young man's tears were spent and he relaxed completely in the detective's arms.

Jim looked down at his now sleeping partner and whispered, "Let's go home." He heard a mumbled response and smiled. Looking at Simon, he said, "I think he's ready to go home now." Jim shifted to get up from the floor but Blair wouldn't let go of him.

Simon knelt down. "I've got him," he said as he pried the young man from Jim and scooped him up. Blair protested a little at the removal then shifted back to sleep in the captain's arms. Simon looked at Blair and his heart softened at the sight. The sleeping anthropologist looked so small and vulnerable in the big man's arms. *Like Daryl when he was little.*

"OK, Simon." Simon looked up to see Jim standing before him, arms open expectantly. The captain quickly composed himself and handed the sleeping young Guide into the Sentinel's waiting arms. Blair immediately fastened a hand onto Jim's jacket as the headed out of the office.

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As they headed down the hall towards the exit, Jim and Simon saw Professor Kinyon locking the door to her office, preparing to leave for the night. As they approached, the professor looked up, her face full of concern at the sight of Blair in Jim's arms. "Is he all right?" she asked, reaching out gently to brush aside a few strands of curls that had fallen in the young man's tear-stained face. Blair sighed, then turned and snuggled his head deeper into Jim's shoulder, like a child nestled in his father's arms.

"He's sleeping," Jim replied. "We're going home now. Thank you, Professor."

She looked up at the detective and the captain. "Anytime. Just take care of him, ok?" They nodded. "Oh, don't worry about Blair's car. I've made arrangements with the security for the night," she added. She took another look at the sleeping young man and said quietly, "Good night, Blair. I hope you feel better soon."

Blair mumbled something incoherent.

Jim smiled. "He said, 'good night'," Jim said. "And thanks again."

"You're welcome," replied the professor. "Good night, gentlemen." With that, she left.

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Simon watched with amusement as Jim tried to get his truck keys without waking Blair. Jim gave up after a few tries and murmured something to his sleeping partner, who woke up a little. The detective gently lowered the young man's legs until he was standing, albeit highly unsteady, and maintained a hold around Blair's shoulders. By the time Jim go the passenger door unlocked, Blair started to sink to the ground, his legs refusing to support him any longer. Simon rushed over to help, scooping up the sagging anthropologist as she slid from Jim's grasp. "Gotcha," said Simon as he straightened back up.

Blair's eyes opened immediately, and his body tensed with fear. "NO!" Panic was evident in his voice.

Simon tightened his grip for fear of dropping the struggling young man. "Easy, easy." he soothed.

Jim immediately reached out to his partner.

Blair focused and his eyes settle on the man holding him. Simon. Blair relaxed, at the same time Jim's hand appeared on his shoulder, and said sheepishly, "Sorry, Simon." He looked at Jim. "Sorry for being so much trouble, Jim."

Jim gave his shoulder a squeeze, then opened the passenger door.

Simon eased Blair inside. "You're no more trouble than usual, Sandburg," quipped the captain, giving him a small grin.

Blair returned the grin weakly, then reached around to fasten his seatbelt while Jim closed the door.

Jim turned to Simon. "Thanks again, sir." Simon nodded. Then Jim added, "Hey, want to come over for a beer?"

Simon opened his mouth to refuse, but something in Jim's tone changed his mind. "Sure. Just for a few minutes," he replied. "I'll follow you there in my car." Jim nodded and headed towards the driver's door and got in, while Simon headed towards his own car.

The ride home was relatively silent. Jim glanced over to his partner halfway into the trip to find Blair had resituated himself and was staring at him. "You OK, Chief?" he asked. Blair nodded sleepily, then closed his eyes. He murmured and Jim swallowed the lump that had suddenly formed in his throat. "I am now," he had muttered. So much trust. *He feels safe with me.* Jim smiled. He unconsciously monitored his partner's heartbeat the rest of the way home. Slow and steady, the signs of sleeping.

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When Jim pulled into his parking space in front of their building, he found Blair still sleeping. The young man looked so peaceful. He really didn't want to wake his Guide, but they had a couple flights of stairs to climb before they reached the loft. "Sandburg?' he called quietly as he laid a hand on Blair's shoulder and gently shook him.

Blair protested with a incoherent mumble, then slowly opened his eyes and blinked. "Are we there?" he asked sleepily and yawned as he ran a hand through his hair.

Jim could tell the stress of the past several days had taken its toll and left his young friend exhausted. The detective nodded and patted his shoulder. "Come on, Chief," he said gently.

Blair unbuckled his seatbelt while Jim hopped out and circled around the truck. By the time Jim reached the passenger side, Blair had opened the door and was slowly getting out.

"Easy, Chief," Jim slipped into Brother mode, taking the young man's arms and helping him out.

"I'm fine, Jim," Blair chided, but didn't refuse the older man's assistance. Then he noticed Simon's car pulling in behind the truck. As Simon got out of his car and headed towards them, Blair asked, curious. "Why's Simon here?"

Jim led him through the door of the building. "Simon and I are just gonna talk about stuff for a while, that's all," he replied, hoping that would satisfy his young friend.

Blair just nodded, too tired to think more about it.

When they reached the second flight, Blair sank down to sit on the steps.

Jim was right beside him, concerned. "You OK, Chief?"

Simon knelt on the steps in front of them, also concerned.

Blair nodded. "I'm fine," he said quietly. He ran a shaky hand through his hair. "Just give me a minute." The older men nodded.

After a minute passed, Blair attempted to stand, with assistance from Jim. "I'm fine," he protested, batting the hands away. Jim let go and Blair stood successfully for two seconds before his knees buckled. "Whoa!" he exclaimed. Both Jim and Simon caught the young man as he fell. Simon gathered Blair into his arms and straightened up.

"What happened?" asked Jim. "What's wrong?" The Sentinel reached out, checking Blair for injuries.

"I don't know," replied Blair. "I stood and my legs...they felt like they went to sleep." He tried to suppress a yawn but failed. "Sorry. Don't know shy I'm so *yawn* tired."

Simon looked at the detective for an answer.

"After Naomi left, the nightmares came back full force. He's only had two hours sleep. And that's a total of three days."

Simon nodded. *And you've probably slept less, worrying about him.* thought Simon. "Go ahead and unlock the door, Jim," said Simon. Jim opened his mouth to protest, then closed it when he saw Simon's commanding look. "Go on." Simon continued softly. "I've got him." Jim left.

By the time Simon caught up with Jim and entered the loft, Blair started to squirm.

"Put me down," he muttered. "Put me down."

Simon obliged, but didn't release his hold of the young man's shoulders as Blair tried to steady himself. Once steady, Simon released him.

Jim appeared by his partner's side, taking over the hold on his shoulders. "You're going straight to bed, Chief." Jim said firmly. "No more scaring me tonight, OK?"

Shame and embarrassment crossed Blair's face as he looked at Jim. "I'm sorry, man."

Jim gave his shoulder a gentle squeeze. "It's all right. Just try to get some rest, OK?"

Blair nodded, but instead of heading to his bedroom, he went to the couch instead.

"I said to bed, Sandburg," said Jim. "Where are you going?"

Blair sat down slowly on the couch, careful not to jostle his healing ribs. "I just need a few minutes," said Blair quietly. "In here."

Jim caught the pleading look his partner gave and nodded, moving toward the fridge. "Want a beer, Simon?"

Simon watched Blair grab a pillow and start to hug it before answering. "Yeah, thanks." He looked at Jim and took the offered beer, then headed for the living room chair.

Jim followed and sat next to Blair and picked up the remote, flipping through the channels before finding a good movie playing on HBO. Before Simon could ask, Jim gave him a *later* look.

Simon settled back in the chair and took a long swig of his beer. But instead of watching the movie, the captain quietly observed the two men on the sofa. Jim watched the movie, every once in a while casting a glance at Blair, who was still hugging a pillow and also watching the movie. But as he watched, Simon could see Blair's head starting to droop. He noticed, too, that Jim put down his beer then took another pillow and placed it in his lap. Simon smiled at the tenderness taken not to jostle Blair's healing ribs, then turned to watch the rest of the movie.

It wasnít much later when Simon looked back at Jim to find Blair had finally gone to sleep, curled up next to Jim, his head resting on the pillow in Jim's lap. Jim was still watching the movie, but Simon noticed that Jim had a protective hand on the young man's arm. Simon let out a small chuckle.

Jim heard the chuckle and looked up to see Simon smiling at him. "What?" he asked.

Simon shook his head, still smiling. "You, man," he said, pointing to the sleeping young man beside him.

Jim gave him a curious look, then looked down at his sleeping partner. Blair was curled up on his side, still clutching his pillow, sleeping peacefully, his head resting on the pillow in Jim's lap. Jim's heart swelled with pride at the trust and faith his Guide had in him. He absently removed the hand that had been resting on Blair's shoulder and ran it over the mass of curls in his lap. Blair stirred, murmured something unintelligible then snuggled his face deeper in the pillow, drifting into a more restive sleep with a sigh.

Simon couldn't help but notice the paternal look that crossed the detective's face. This was followed by relief, then exhaustion.

"You look like you've had about as much sleep as he has," commented Simon. "Maybe even less."

"Huh?" Jim looked at Simon. He tried to think. After Naomi left, the nightmare returned with a vengeance. Jim had taken to sleeping in a chair next to Blair's bed because of them. But even at that, neither of them got too much sleep.

Simon walked over to the kitchen and threw away his empty beer bottle. "You heard me, Ellison," he said. "You said Sandburg had a total of two hours sleep. How much have you had?"

"Enough."

"Bull," Simon muttered as he returned to the chair and sat down.

"How'd he do it, Simon?" Jim asked after long pause. "I mean, even Carolyn couldn't get this close. This is way beyond this Sentinel stuff..." He trailed off and looked at his sleeping partner.

"Did you and Carolyn ever discuss having kids when you two were married?" asked Simon.

Jim blinked and looked at his captain, confused. "What?"

"You heard me," said Simon. "Did you?"

Jim thought for a moment. "I remember discussing the matter when we were first married...She decided that the time just wasn't right, I think. Why?"

Simon shook his head. "Oh, nothing," he said. "Just curious." He picked up Jim's now empty bottle and went to the kitchen to throw it away. Changing the subject, he said, "Go to bed, Jim, I'll..." He trailed off when he turned to see Jim passing him with Sandburg in his arms on his way to the young man's room. Simon followed and watched in silent amazement at the gentleness to which Jim put his friend to bed.

Jim gently sat Blair on the bed then proceeded to prepare his young friend for bed. While holding Blair upright, Simon observed, Jim removed Blair's sweater and shirt layer until he was left with a T-shirt. Blair's head lolled around on his chest, mumbling incoherently every once in a while. The detective then removed Blair's shoes and socks before easing the young man's legs into the bed. He removed the sleeping man's jeans then pulled the bank up to cover him. It was then that Jim looked up and saw Simon standing in the door frame, smiling. "What?" he asked as he left the room, making sure the door was left open.

"You." Simon indicated the room they just left. "You would have made a good father, Jim," he commented quietly.

"Yeah, right," scoffed Jim with a short laugh. "A father who is the leading cause of that kid's nightmares." He shook his head and ran a hand over his face.

Simon noted the exhaustion and frustration in Jim's face and his voice. "The nightmares will pass, Ellison." Changing direction, he added, "You're good for that kid." They sat in the living room. "I'm serious, Jim. I've seen repeatedly how good you two are for each other." Simon sighed. "I am not going through this again," he said, exasperated. "That kid is the best thing that ever happened to you and you know it. You're a better detective and you're more human since Sandburg came in. And I've seen what you do with him, too. He looks up to you, man." Simon walked over and laid a hand on the detective's shoulder. "Look. You're tired. Go to bed. I'll sleep on the couch tonight and keep an eye on things." He raised a hand to stop Jim's protest. "No argument. Go."

Jim nodded wearily and got up. Moments later, he exited the bathroom headed upstairs towards his bedroom. Halfway up the stairs, he turned back to the captain, who was sitting on the living room couch. "Thanks, Simon." Simon waved him off and headed to the bathroom. Jim smiled and went up to bed.

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Very early the next morning, Simon came out of the bathroom and stopped by Sandburg's room to check on the anthropologist. His heart stopped when he looked in and saw the room was empty. *Oh great.* he thought. *Jim's gonna kill me.* He rushed upstairs to Jim's bedroom to wake the detective, then stopped as soon as he reached the landing.

"Shhh," Jim shushed Simon as the captain neared the bed. Jim was sitting in bed, propped up on several pillows. Then Simon noticed the bundle beside him. Nestled in the detective's protective arms, his head resting on Ellison's chest, was Blair, sleeping peacefully.

"What happened?" asked Simon as he sat carefully on the edge of the bed. Blair looked so small in the older man's arms, curls falling in his face, and peaceful.

Jim looked down at his partner and raised his hand to move the curls from Blair's face before answering . "Found him an hour ago, sleeping on the floor next to my bed." The memory of it flooding back to him.

He had opened his senses to the early morning and listened for the heartbeat of his Guide, only to find it louder that usual, as if close. Jim had sat up in bed and looked around, his eyes finally resting upon the young man asleep, albeit restlessly, on the floor. When he had reached over to gently awaken the young man, Blair had started whimpering fearfully in his sleep. Jim knelt beside him, shaking his shoulder. "Blair!" he said quietly. "Wake up!" Blair woke up with a gasp, frightened eyes looking around.

"Easy, Chief, easy," soothed Jim. "It's all right. It's over." Blair looked at him for a moment, then

suddenly threw his arms around the detective's neck, nearly knocking Jim off balance. Jim wrapped his arms around the young man, who was shivering.

"When will the nightmares end?" Blair's voice was so soft that only Jim's Sentinel hearing picked

it up. Blair buried his face in the detective's neck. "Make them stop." Blair pleaded. Jim's throat

tightened. *I only wish I could.* he thought to himself.

"Let's get you off the floor." He said, slipping an arm under Blair's knees and lifting him. Blair

didn't protest as Jim got to his feet, turned and walked towards the stairs. The arms around his

neck tightened. "No!" Blair gasped. "Not yet...please." Jim saw the pleading in the young man's

eyes. "OK," he replied. "But you're not gonna lay on the floor. You'll hurt yourself." With that,

Jim put Blair onto the large bed.

Now, with Simon there, Jim finished explaining. "I knew the floor..." He was interrupted when Blair twitched, then relaxed. Jim immediately returned his attention to him. "It's all right, Chief. Go to sleep," he said quietly, soothingly. Blair cracked open his eyes and looked at Jim, like a child making sure his father/security was still there. Jim gave a reassuring nod. Then Blair closed his eyes, settling back to sleep, unaware that Simon had been there. "That's right, Chief," he whispered. "Sleep." Turning his attention back to the captain, Jim continued. "I don't know how long he had been there, but I knew that sleeping on the floor wasn't real good for his ribs, so I picked him up..." He trailed off and gestured to his present situation.

"Nightmare again?" asked Simon. Jim nodded. *I wish Darryl trusted me that much.* thought Simon. "Congratulations, Jim," Simon said quietly. At Jim's confused look, Simon added with a smile. "Welcome to parenthood."

The Sentinel looked down at his sleeping Guide, his hand immersed in the mass of curls and smiled, his heart swelling. "Yeah," he whispered.

 

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