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Canyons of Your Soul, Part III

I can’t believe Roy’s dead. Man, it is just so unfair. He was just making it, after years and years of …. I just feel so bad. And Ray would go nuts at the idea that anyone could think his brother killed him. Over what? Jealousy? No way, man. I know these guys. Knew … whatever. But Jim will not listen to me! Like that’s anything new. It’s beginning to really piss me off.

I’ve tried and tried to figure out what is going on with him. I know he still wants me around, and sometimes it’s even like old times – wow, we’ve been together long enough that there are ‘old times’. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Sometimes we still have fun together, laugh, tease, easy, you know? But most of the time, he’s so remote. He’s never gone back to touching me as much as he used to, before he said we’re ‘family’. What’s that about? And he’s doing totally dumb stuff, like going undercover in that prison. With his senses? God, it had to have been a living horror, not that prison is a cake walk at the best of times. He was like a zombie when he got out of there. But I’ve never been able to get him to talk about any of it. Just more crap that he buries down deep inside. Like even though I’ve been around for going on three years now, he still feels he’s absolutely alone. And instead of getting closer, he’s drifting further away.

Oh, I know he still cares about me. When I went through the floor on the dig at the waterfront, he was really scared that I’d been badly hurt. I could tell from the sound of his voice, the careful way he touched me. And when Chapel came after us in the loft … he was shaking when he undid our bonds, kept asking if we were okay, if he’d hurt us. Us being me and Cassie. For a while, I thought he was interested in her and that he thought I was in the way. And other times, he seemed fed up with her interference and stupid propensity to get herself into bad situations without the right backup, because she wanted so badly to be a cop or something. But … Cassie wasn’t the problem. There’s something else going on, I can feel it. He’s not comfortable around me anymore and I cannot figure out why.

Whatever. Right now, I just want to find out who killed Roy and why … and get the bastard behind bars.


Ah, geez … wow, isn’t that articulate? But it’s how I feel. Shaken. Empty inside, and yet full of all this turbulent emotion. Weird feeling. The last few days have been illuminating, to say the least. And, I think, it’s all been for the good, the last few days, I mean. For Jim, anyway. He’s reconciled, sort of, with his father and I think he’s learned that his Dad isn’t the complete ogre he’d always thought. Though, his fears of being seen as a freak, and his repression of his senses, stem from his father pretty much telling him to hide how he was different … and that may have resulted in Bud, his mentor’s, murder being unsolved for all these years. But, it’s solved now. And Jim was able to save his father’s life in the process. And they’re together now. I wonder if they’ll call Steven to join them for the evening for a family reunion, and maybe some family healing. I hope so, anyway. Jim might deny it, but the estrangement from his family for all of these years has hurt him and I really hope, for his sake and theirs, that this will be the beginning of a healthier, more supportive and, well, maybe even happy, relationship.

I’m really sorry Jim suffered what he did, when he was a kid. That it hurt so bad that he’s had it buried for so many years. Sorry he was alone then with his senses, with nobody to help him understand them, or that they are a natural part of him, not something bad or ugly or freakish, but wonderful. And I’m sorry he lost Bud when he did, the one guy who seemed to understand and encourage him, a substitute for the father who was always too busy or too … cold. God, imagine finding someone you loved that much, respected and needed that much, dead? I can understand why he buried it. Man, who would want to consciously remember all that hurt and pain? I just hope that opening it all up again, like lancing a scarred-over wound to drain the crap underneath, will allow real healing. It’s been good for him to find out that his Dad really regrets how he behaved back then. But … he was just trying to do his best, I guess. Couldn’t’ve been easy after his wife moved out. Not at a time when ‘real men’ didn’t ever talk about their feelings, let alone reveal them because emotions made them seem or feel weak. Man, Jim sure absorbed a lot of those teachings, no matter how much he believes he turned his back on his whole childhood.

So my emotions about and around Jim are all roiled up. Aching for what he suffered as a child. Furious, too, at William, for not somehow being there for him; worse, for having inadvertently made him feel like a freak who has to hide the glory of what he is. Glad, really glad, that William wasn’t killed today. Hopeful that maybe there will be healing and reconciliation.

And I feel empty, why? Well, because I’m here in the loft. Alone. Simon brought me home when Jim walked off with his Dad with scarcely a backward glance. I know why – his Dad needed him and he needed his Dad. No problem with that. None.

But … well, it’s petty. It’s just that with all that’s happened, Jim walking away like that with his Dad, it’s all made it pretty clear to me that I’m not really ‘family’ after all. See, I said it was petty. It’s just, with him pulling away from me these last few months, and now that he’s reconciling with his real family, I have to wonder how much longer there will be space in his life for me. It’s like I can see the end coming, and I know it’s inevitable, and I’m just not sure that I can stave it off for much longer. I know it’s selfish of me to want to hold on so badly.

That’s why I feel empty. When I think about it all being over, about ‘moving on’, and I realize there is absolutely nowhere that I want to move on to; when I think about … about not being with Jim, no longer being part of his life … I just feel so empty. All hollow inside, insubstantial. Like there’ll be nothing to hold me together and I’ll just implode from the force of gravity or something. Just fold into myself and disappear. Like I’ll have no reason to be or, literally, to take up space and air, anymore. I used to have all these other dreams, these other hopes and aspirations, but I seem to have lost them somewhere along the way. Without Jim, the thought of anything else just feels meaningless. Empty.

It’s a very scary feeling.

And, uh, I don’t want to freak myself out or anything, but I’ve had some friends who I remember saying they didn’t see any future beyond a certain point, and refused to make any plans beyond that point, like say three months into the future, or ‘next spring’, or whatever. And it’s spooky, but every one of them died, one way or another, in accidents or because of illness, by that ephemeral wall in time. So I’ve wondered, you know, if people who have lost the capacity to plan, to hope, to dream, who cannot see a future and don’t even really want to commit to one … I wonder if that’s because there is no future for them? And then I wonder: which is the chicken and which is the egg? Did they cease to make plans because they had some subliminal psychic awareness that their time here was ending? Or did they die because they stopped making plans and could see no future for themselves? And if I can’t see a future for myself beyond Jim, does that mean I’m going to die when … when it’s all finally over and he tells me he doesn’t need me anymore?

See … I said it was all very scary.

Man, I have got to stop fixating on all this negative shit and focus on something real. Like the lecture I have to give tomorrow. Or maybe just stop being so damned selfish about all this and simply be really glad that Jim is finding his way back to his family. His real family.


Well, once again, Simon has dropped me off at home and Jim is off doing his own thing up in Clayton Falls. Fishing. Making time with that very pretty animal doctor. Enjoying the peace of not having me in his face all the time, making him feel like a lab rat. Or Simon’s pit bull. I mean, it’s not only me that he doesn’t want to be around. Like that’s a comfort.

God, I feel like shit. Completely wrung out, physically and emotionally. I mean, hey, I thought I was going to die earlier today. I really thought that. And then I’m running through the bush behind Jim and jumping onto trains. And all the time, through all of it, I’m thinking in the back of my head – and sometimes, often, in the forefront – he doesn’t want to be around me anymore. I’ve driven him out of his own home in a search for peace and respite from me. This is not good. So not good. This is, in fact, very bad.

Oh, sure, everybody needs a bit of space now and then. That’s not the point. The point is he didn’t tell me, just tell me, that he needed a break. He had to practically sneak away. Practically? Try in actuality. What else do you call it when someone doesn’t tell you until the last minute that they’re disappearing for a week, and then refuses to tell you where they’re going? And he sure wasn’t happy when we showed up anyway. Lab rat. In his face. Always in his face. Right.

I don’t know if I’ve got the shakes as a reaction to the events of the day and being physically ill, even if not mortally ill, or in anticipation for what I can feel coming, like a train roaring down a track, its broad headlight cutting the night, letting me know it’s getting closer and closer.

But he has to say it. He has to tell me that it’s time for me to go. Straight up.

And even then … I don’t know how I’m ever going to leave.

But I guess I’d better start preparing myself. Guess it’s time to start writing the diss, though I still don’t know how I’m going to safeguard Jim. Damn it. I really, really need to find at least one more sentinel. So I can refer to ‘subjects’ and then nobody will think of linking ‘subject’ to the guy I’ve been hanging around with for nearly three years. Well, some might. Like Ely. But most won’t. Especially if I can also publish a few articles on the subculture of the PD to make my cover project for the last few years credible. Yep. Time to make preparations. The end is definitely near. It’s just a matter of time now. Maybe a few months. Maybe only a few more weeks. He’s doing really well with his senses. Must be, to go off for a week alone and not have any worry about zoning or whatever. Kinda like a trial run for flying on his own.

And that’s good. He needs to feel confident about handling his senses on his own.

I just wish I didn’t feel like this lost little kid inside, wailing, ‘I don’t want to go!’ God. I’m nearly thirty years old and I need to get a grip here. Jim doesn’t love me and never will. That’s just the way it is. I’ve known that for years now. I’ve always known that the time would come that he’d want me to move on. I can’t let him see how this is tearing me apart. That’s not fair to him. Man, I can’t believe he felt he had to sneak away from his own home just to get some space away from me. If I love him, really love him, then I have to be willing to give him his home and privacy back. I have to be ready to move on the moment he says it’s time. And, no, this fishing trip doesn’t count. He has to say it. He has to tell me it’s time to go. Not just for a break, but for always. Cause that’s the deal, right? That I’m here, will always be here, until he doesn’t need me anymore.

I feel so pathetic. Like a man afraid of drowning holding onto a sinking ship and trying to convince himself that it’s really not going under and taking him with it. This ship is going down. I need to find a friendly shore to swim toward or I will drown, evidently in self-pity. Maybe I should just bring in a cross and climb up on it to make it perfectly clear what a self-sacrificing little martyr I’m being. Yeah, some martyr. Like it’s hard to be here with him, to spend time with him every day. Yeah. Real hard. Like there’s anywhere else I’d rather be.

I hate this. Hate being so whiny. Hate being so scared of losing everything that matters to me. Hate the anger that’s bubbling inside. Yes, anger. We thought I was dying today, dammit! And, man, is that a sobering experience! I thought I had contracted Ebola or something equally as gruesome and deadly. What a freaking relief to find out it was only a conspiracy, after all, an elaborate hustle to clear the way to rob a money train. But … I mean, if it had been the other way around, and we’d thought Jim was dying, there is no fucking way that I’d let him out of my sight after we found out everything was okay. Either I’d’ve kept him with me or gone home with him, because when you nearly lose, or think you’re going to lose, the one you love best, you don’t want to let them out of your sight. But he was so glad to see us go. So glad to be rid of us. It pisses me off that I love him more than he’s ever going to love me. I just don’t know if I’m angry with him … or with myself for being such a fool.

Ah, hell. What does it matter if I’m hurt or angry or scared? None of that is the least bit relevant. None of that changes the fact that this boat is definitely sinking and I have to let go – have to force myself to reach for the only life preserver I’ve got before it floats away. I’ve put it off as long as I can. Longer than has made any kind of sense. It’s time, I guess. Time to accept that Jim is ready to fly on his own and, in his own inimitable way, is letting me know that, probably hoping that I’ll get a clue and move on before he has to spell it out for me. Time to write the damned dissertation and, then, get a life of my own.


God, I’m tired. What a night. Okay, face it – you were being a passive-aggressive little shit, laughing at Jim in the truck last evening, mocking him, while you did the last edits on that draft chapter of the dissertation, giving him a hard time for effectively forcing you to write it because he doesn’t really want you around anymore, and you’re furious with him. And then getting all ‘holier than thou’ when he read it. Of course he read it, you schmuck. What did you expect after you pushed all his buttons and then left it lying around under his nose? And how did you think he’d react to all the psycho-babble bullshit that reduces him to a thing, an object, that can be studied and picked apart and dissected and explained like a piece of art or a weapon. Crap.

He’s right. It’s garbage and, worse, it’s demeaning to his person and a betrayal of trust. He said I could go ahead with it, but I can’t. This isn’t a dissertation. It’s … too shallow. Too dependent upon one subject. I thought finding a sentinel would be enough, but it’s not. Alone, his existence proves nothing except that he’s an aberration – and the last thing I want to do is feed his innate belief that he’s some kind of freak. That’s not to say that I think the last three years have been a waste – I don’t feel that way at all. These have been, bar none, the best three years of my life and … and at least I have helped him learn to manage and control his senses. And that has tremendous worth in human terms, in the equation of my life.

But it’s not worth a PhD.

If I don’t find another sentinel to demonstrate that he’s not an aberration but that individuals with five enhanced senses do exist in our modern society and have a valuable, even necessary, role to play as our watchmen, then there is no basis for a dissertation, except in terms of theoretical and hypothetical meanderings. Oh, who am I kidding? Without at least one other sentinel, I’ve got nothing for comparison or analysis or extrapolation toward anything remotely predictable in terms of societal norms.

And the odds of finding another sentinel? Right. Zip.

Man, Gabe, if you really are an angel and you really can work miracles, I could sure use one right about now.

But, in the absence of a miracle within the next few days, I have to figure out what I’m going to do. I can’t stay here much longer, can’t keep pretending that this life I’ve been living can go on. I’ve got some serious thinking to do about where I go from here. One option, I guess, is to come clean with Eli and tell him I’ve got nothing in terms of a dissertation, no more than I had three years ago. We could talk about what other avenues I could pursue in terms of another topic. The other option is to … to accept that I don’t know anymore if I want a career in academia. One thing I’ve learned in the last three years is that the goal of a professorship doesn’t hold the same allure as it once did. I’ve liked the ‘real world’ I’ve inhabited with Jim. Hell, I’ve loved it. But there’s no place in Jim’s world for me. Oh, theoretically, I suppose I could apply to the Academy and become a cop, but I don’t think that’s what I want or what I’d be good at. Maybe I need to take some time off and just, I don’t know, travel or just get a job with the skills I’ve got now. I could teach in a community college. I’ve got lots of manual skills. I’m just having a really hard time visualizing … anything, really. Worse, I can’t seem to work up any energy or enthusiasm to pursue anything.

I’m just tired, I guess. I need to … I need to get some sleep and then make a list of possibilities. And then I need to pick one and move on.


Oh my God! Gabe, I could kiss you! I can’t believe this! Just when I was about to toss in the cards and give up, you sent me another sentinel! She’s incredible! She’s got all five senses enhanced and, man, poor woman, they’ve been driving her nuts. But I can help her, like I helped Jim. Actually, now that I’ve got the experience of working with him, I’ll be even better at helping her achieve control. And my thesis can be proven. One is an aberration. Two indicate that this is not just a myth, but that sentinels can and do exist in our society. I can write a dissertation that doesn’t depend solely upon my research with Jim, and that doesn’t run the risk of identifying him.

I got my miracle!


I’ve been sitting here for hours wondering how I could make such a mess of everything. Intellectually, I’ve learned a valuable lesson for the dissertation that will never be written and that is: enhanced senses do not a sentinel make. Alex has the senses, no doubt about that. But she’s the antithesis of a watchman or protector. She’s a viper. I don’t have enough data to know if she was born a killer, a psychopath untroubled by any vestige of conscience, or whether the circumstances of her life destroyed her – whatever the cause, she’s a monster. And I helped to make her even more dangerous by teaching her some basics on how to marshal her senses and bend them to her will. God forgive me … I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to forgive myself.

Nor will Jim ever forgive me. I didn’t mean to, obviously, but I betrayed him, his trust, in so many fundamental ways. Good intentions and basic academic research protocols are no defense for having failed to take note of his vision of the spotted jaguar, or his increasing sense of threat, or his increasing aberrations to try to control his environment to make sense of an impending threat he couldn’t understand but could sense so clearly. Nothing can excuse my failure to tell him that I’d found another possible sentinel or my self-absorption in my own interests and needs to make my research work. My ego got in the way; my desire to … to write something that would have lasting worth and perhaps have value in other lives blinded me to so much. And now maybe millions of people will die because she got away with that nerve gas.

I’ve been hoping, fruitlessly, for the phone to ring, or for Jim to walk in that door, to tell me he knows I didn’t mean to screw up so badly. To give me absolution, I guess. But that’s not going to happen. Nor should it. I don’t deserve it. My apologies to him tonight are worthless in the great scheme of things. Hollow, useless words that can never excuse my actions or, worse, the outcomes.

I can’t see any way out of this. I can’t figure out any way to make any of this right, to fix it. I feel as if I’m standing on the edge of a void, of nothingness. Too numb to think, maybe? There’s no way back and no way forward. And it’s all just such a … a waste. For all that I’ve loved him, I’ve made a mockery of the friendship Jim and I shared. For all that I wanted to help him, and others like him, I’ve only helped a murderer triumph. My childish belief in the myth, reinforced by my incredible good fortune in knowing Jim, blinded me to the reality that senses do not define personality or choices, but that the inherent personality defines how those senses will be employed.

Oh, God. Millions of innocent people are at risk. Millions. I can’t just sit here and wallow in my mistakes and guilt. There should be something that I could do to make this right, to help Jim find her, stop her. There must be something, some clue, in what I learned about her. Maybe … maybe there’s something in her art, her visions? The draw, the compulsion, she felt about the temple? If I could figure out where it is, would there be a chance of


It’s been a week since Alex walked into my office and interrupted my last entry. A week since she took me out to the fountain at gunpoint and slammed me over the head and shoved me into the water. A week since she murdered me.

I remember drowning, fighting for air, for breath, for life – and losing. I remember dying, the pain of it, the regret and grief of it, the bone-chilling cold of it. I remember not wanting to go – desperately not wanting to go. And feeling lost and helpless and furious and … sad. So very sad. I remember being in a strange forest and seeing the bright light and I remember resisting it, wanting to hang on, linger, hold onto what I knew was lost but I didn’t want to let go. And I remember, finally, being drawn toward that light, irrevocably, unable to resist but wishing, wishing so hard that I didn’t have to leave, that it wasn’t over. But it was over. I was over. There was no more ‘me’ and there was nothing in that forest that was real, and the last residual part of my consciousness knew it was only the last vestige of the dream of life.

And I remember – God, I will never forget, so long as I live – I remember hearing Jim calling me, crying out desperately for me to hear him. And I stumbled on the way to the light, and looked back, aching to see him, to find him behind me, reaching out to me, wanting me to stay. Makes me shake inside to remember, makes my throat tight and tears sting my eyes every time I recall those infinite moments of being between life and death. He came for me. He wouldn’t let me go. He harnessed the power of the cosmos to bring me back. I don’t know how. He won’t tell me. I know we shared some kind of symbolic, mystical vision of spirit animals leaping into one another in a cataclysm of heat and light and such unimaginable, indescribable sheer energy … and I woke up gagging, coughing and choking and vomiting water from the fountain. Utterly miserable and wholly alive.

I was dead. There’s no doubt about that, apparently. And Jim brought me back. There’s no doubt about that, either. With all that’s happened since, I hold onto those two facts like a lifeline tethering me to reality.

Because nothing else makes any sense. No, that’s not entirely true. It makes sense that Jim felt compelled to go after her, to stop her and to recover the poison gas. That part makes sense. And it also makes sense, to me, at least, that he didn’t get lost in the drugs she fed him and the visions he had – that he didn’t go mad, like she did, but then she was already more than halfway insane, anyway. But it makes sense to me that Jim’s fundamental ethics grounded him, kept him from getting lost in whatever he saw when he looked into the Eye of God. He won’t tell me what he saw. Says he can’t remember. But he does. He’s too haunted by it, too distracted. He remembers.

He just doesn’t trust me enough to share it with me.

But the part between him going after Alex and him surviving the visions doesn’t make much sense. The part where he lusted after her, kissed her wantonly, wanted to mate with her, wanted to protect her – this woman who had murdered and would murder again, who was a monster … who had murdered me. He tapped into some psychic link with her, shared her visions of the temple and was able to follow her there. And I guess that same psychic link was part of an irresistible compulsion to affiliate with her, sentinel to sentinel. Only … she wasn’t a sentinel. Just someone with five enhanced senses. Or, maybe I’m wrong about that, too, like I’ve been wrong about so much. Maybe there are good and evil sentinels. Maybe he felt something in her that could be worthy, or that he could somehow redeem her. I don’t know. He said something about Incacha telling him that it was a test of some sort, and that he had to face it alone. But I don’t know if the test was in resisting her power over him, or in surviving the pool, or both … and I don’t think he knows, either. All either of us know for sure is that there was no place for me in any of what happened, no part for me to play. The message, if there is one in all this, seems to be that I really have no place in his life anymore.

I hoped, when we first got back and I helped him get the loft back to normal, and he asked me to stay – I hoped that somehow we might find a way across the chasm that had grown between us. We even hugged, albeit awkwardly, and I promised him, again, I’d always be here for him, so long as he wanted me.

But though he brought me back home to the loft, he hasn’t forgiven or forgotten anything that happened. He’s stiff and tense around me. Won’t make eye contact. Forget touch – he won’t come within three feet of me. Scarcely speaks to me. Our friendship is a charade, and a hollow, bitter one, at that. Yeah, he brought me back, both to life and home, but I think he hates me. And though I love him, I guess I always will – when I remember seeing him kissing her on that beach, and choosing to try to save her, I hate him, too.

So, here I am, back in the loft, fighting off incipient pneumonia, knowing I’m here on sufferance, grateful to be alive but not sure what I’m living for, or why … why he was granted the power to bring me back. I’ve been given this huge, incredible gift of life, but I don’t have a clue what to do with it. I don’t feel excited to be alive, though I did, briefly, when I first felt the mystery of it in the hospital. Now, I feel numb, sort of. Disoriented. It’s like I’ve lost all my reference points. The numbness isn’t lack of feeling but too much and too contradictory emotion: gratitude, anger, frustration, guilt, grief, horror, betrayal, loss. I feel lost inside. I’m alive but my life, life as I knew it, is a specter, a ghost that needs to be buried. Nominally, I’m still Jim’s ‘partner’, I guess, and I still have my job as a teaching fellow, but he very clearly no longer needs me, my dissertation is in shambles, and I see no future at the university. Hell, I don’t see any kind of future anywhere. But I don’t have the energy to deal with any of it, at least not right now.

I find myself wondering what ever became of Lazarus. Did he rejoice at being brought back to life? Did he do great things with his life or just live happily ever after? Or did he wander, searching for meaning, trying to understand why he was brought back, feeling perpetually guilty that he wasn’t worth such a miracle?

More prosaically, I find myself wondering why Jim brought me back here. Guilt, maybe? For kicking me out in the first place? Or nostalgia, for the friendship that once was? Maybe he feels as lost and confused as I do. Is there still something he needs from me? Something that I can give him that would make bringing me back to life count for something? Do I have anything of worth left to give?

I’m too tired to think. Too confused. I feel as if it’s all I can do to just hold on to my sanity, such as it is. All I can do to just take one step at a time and not look too closely at the world or my life or my choices. Maybe if I just keep moving, keep pretending that things are … what? Normal? God, what a farce that is but, maybe, in time, if I just keep going, eventually things will start to make sense.


I can’t go on like this, angry all the damned time. Trying to hide it, trying to pretend things are fine, trying to carry on as if nothing’s changed, as if I haven’t changed. Over the past few weeks, I’ve raged at Simon as well as Jim ostensibly over Brad Ventriss, but really because I’m so damned tired of the fact that they don’t listen to me, don’t give credence to my instincts. I’m fed up to the teeth with being told I’m ‘not a cop’, and that’s stupid. I’m not a cop. I have no rights in their world. One thing after another, the deal with being excluded from the charity game with the Jags, being sidelined by Jim when Veronica came back into his life, the guys all laughing at me over the idea that Jim can see ghosts and Jim’s refusal, abject refusal, to be honest with anyone but me about what he can see. As if he’s ashamed of his abilities. Still. After all these years. I’ve tried to ignore the anger, and rallied from time to time to do my best to pretend that everything’s fine, to be as involved as I ever was, like going undercover with Megan to get evidence against the Hydra Security gang. But nothing’s worked, not really. All I’ve managed to do is nearly get myself killed in a variety of different ways.

Anger is so corrosive, you know? It eats away inside, twisting painfully and distorting everything, every other emotion, every thought, clouding perception and reason. It solves nothing and makes everything infinitely worse. It’s exhausting and, ultimately, it leads to profound despair. And it’s not just eating at me. On the rare occasions when Jim looks right at me now, I can see such pain in his eyes. I see despair there and, briefly, when he revived me after I’d been gassed at Harry’s daughter’s place, I saw horror before he locked it down and turned away. Poor guy. Even when he sidelines me, I still end up scaring him half to death by nearly getting killed on his watch. One more death on his conscience. One more that he just can’t afford.

I can’t continue like this. For both our sakes, I have to let the anger go.

So, I’ve been trying to figure it out, pin down where all the anger comes from and deal with it, resolve it. I’ve gone back through all my personal journals since I first met up with Jim. Man, now that’s an interesting and enlightening journey when read all at once from the distance of time. God, I was such an incredibly naïve kid – I can scarcely believe that there was a time when I vehemently refused to carry a weapon or even to learn how to use one because I didn’t believe violence was ever the answer. Me, the guy who – without a second thought – grabbed a revolver a few short weeks ago to shoot at Kincaid and his gang to cover Jim while he stopped their escape in that sub. And I realized that that’s part of my anger. That I’ve changed irrevocably. I’ll never be that wide-eyed innocent again. Unconsciously, I guess I’ve been blaming Jim for that, but it’s not his fault. I chose it all. Chose to be with him regardless of the dangers. And I realized that, even if I could, I wouldn’t go back to make a different choice. I wouldn’t give up any of the time I’ve spent with him, or choose to unlearn anything that being with him has taught me. Philosophically, I wasn’t wrong to want there always to be another choice, another option to violence but, practically, I’ve learned that sometimes it’s the only immediate choice to impose boundaries around wanton cruelty and severely antisocial behaviours. Clearly, the world would emphatically not be a better place with the likes of Garrett Kincaid running amok, free to wreak whatever havoc he wants. So, ultimately, there is no rational basis for that subliminal anger about how much I’ve changed – indeed, there is cause to, if not rejoice, at least be aware that I’ve learned some valuable if painful lessons along the way about life and about my ability to adapt to necessity.

But reading all those old notes revealed some other pretty fundamental stuff, too. Stuff I’m not proud of, to say the least. What a self-righteous little shit I’ve been, professing to love Jim unconditionally, feeling so undeservedly noble – what utter crap. Yes, I love him. But part of hanging around was pure and simply because I didn’t want to be anywhere else. I stayed for me, for the excitement of being with him, for the home he gave me. And I kept hoping that by some miracle he might someday love me back. The way I want him to love me. And that’s where a ton of the anger comes from – that he never did and never will and the love I feel for him will forever be unrequited. God, when I read those passages and remembered the women he invariably falls for, I wonder how I could ever have deluded myself, even unconsciously, into believing that someday he’d wake up and realize he wanted me. Fuck. Jim … Jim falls for tall, gorgeous, and ultimately very dangerous women. It’s like he can sense the threat in them and it’s a turn-on for him; partly excitement, maybe – and partly the probably unconscious hope that he can redeem them with his love. When I realized that, I could see the pattern that repeats itself over and over from Laura to Veronica and incorporates every woman he was ever serious about in-between. Including Alex; maybe especially Alex. Can’t fault the guy for wanting a challenge, I guess, though I’m afraid he’s destined to continually get his heart broken. Still, I’ve got to hand it to him. His innate nobility, the depth and power of his love did redeem Lila, even if he couldn’t save her. And, I suppose, he harnessed Alex’s mindless aggression, enough to stop her from unleashing that poison gas and killing all of us in that temple and for miles around. But in all honesty, a guy who is attracted to gorgeous, dangerous women is never going to find me appealing. Aside from being a guy of, er, average height, I’m about as dangerous as an over-eager, gormless, awkward puppy.

Sure, he’s cared about me. A man can appreciate the mindless devotion of a dog – but when such unquestioning devotion springs from another human being, it can become awfully suffocating and completely alienating. No wonder he had to escape to Clayton Falls, if only to have some space, to be able to breathe without me clinging to him like some kind of psychological limpet or ivy, invading his life and, even though I’d told him nearly a year before that I had all the research I needed, giving no sign of ever intending to leave him the hell alone.

I thought all my anger sprang from the events surrounding Alex’s invasion of our lives. But when I read the old notes, I realized it had been growing for a long time as I blamed him more and more for evidently wanting a life that didn’t include me. So much for loving him unconditionally. All the time that I was congratulating myself for being so selfless, I was really being incredibly selfish. And all the time I was increasingly angry with him for his unresponsiveness, he was the one loving unconditionally – putting up with my presence when he’d vastly prefer that I move on, allowing me to continue to research him when it’s been clear from the very beginning that he loathes the idea of my dissertation and is deeply afraid of what it will mean for him, his life and privacy. And if there was any single mindblowing act of unconditional love in the past three years, it was when he brought me back from the dead – not for himself, not for any other reason than his profound refusal to have my life end so pointlessly, so brutally. He brought me back for me, to give me another chance, because my death at that time, in that place, was wrong. And you know, I have no frigging idea what that incredible act of love and will cost him, except that I think it exhausted him emotionally, mentally and physically, which left him vulnerable to Alex and all the inexplicable psychic shit that was going on with her. I have no doubt now, looking back, that if he hadn’t expended all that energy on me, he would have handled everything about her and that time in Mexico very differently. So continuing to blame him for his behaviors there is really tantamount to adding incredible insult to debilitating injury.

And though my presence in his life is obviously causing him discomfort, he brought me home and hasn’t said a word about me moving on because, basically I guess, in his view, I don’t have anywhere else to go. And while that’s incredibly unselfish of him, it’s also crap. I’m nearly thirty years old and I really am capable of putting a roof over my own head. So I think, unconsciously, I’ve also been angry with him for that, for not giving me the credit of believing I can take care of myself – and how warped is that?

So, that’s it – all this anger I’ve been feeling has been self-generating and is entirely self-referential. I’ve been willfully deluding myself for years and blaming Jim for my inability to deal with my own feelings. And, man, that is so wrong. So incredibly, wantonly, unfair. At least now that I finally recognize it, I really can let it go. Because it’s worthless and pointless … and because, all things and I do mean all things considered, I’m not the least bit sorry for a single moment that I’ve spent with him. I’m only grateful, really, to him for having allowed me to be such an integral part of his life for so long.

And, in gratitude, it’s way beyond time to get serious about letting go and giving him his life back.

I wondered a few months ago, when we first got back from Mexico, if there was anything that I could give him before I move on. And I think there is. Deep down, Jim has always believed he’s some kind of freak of nature. As if that’s not bad enough, equating himself to Alex, as if she was another sentinel and inherently like him, has only made that inherent instinct worse. If there was one single thing I could do for him, to help him understand that he is nothing like her and that, far from being a freak, he’s magnificent, so incredibly special, and that his gifts are something to be treasured, then that would maybe make all he’s given me over the years worthwhile. So I’ve decided to write my paper – not as a dissertation because it can’t ever be that, I know that now. But as a personal tribute of sorts, for his eyes only; an illumination of his senses not as special in themselves but as adjuncts to the unique and amazing man he is, in himself, in the core of values and principles and ethics and choices that make him a sentinel, a watchman, a protector of the innocent, a defender of his chosen tribe. It’s not the senses that make him a sentinel, they only help him be the man, the hero, he has always been. Maybe if he can read the paper and see himself as I see him, maybe then he won’t feel like a freak.

And maybe in writing it, I can finally give him a gift of unconditional love that is worthy of him. And when I’m done, and I’ve left him whole, then we’ll both have closure and I’ll have the strength to move on.

Move on where, exactly? Hell, I don’t know. Doesn’t even matter, really. Anywhere but here will do as well as anywhere else. The point is that I can’t stay here. Ironically, I guess Naomi has always been right, that when the time comes to go, it’s about detaching with love.


God, what a frigging awful, relentless nightmare the last few days have been. Simon nearly died. Megan was badly hurt. Jim got wounded. The media maelstrom has been a fucking circus. Man, talk about good intentions paving the road to Hell. So much for wanting to give Jim a precious, private, personal gift – if I’d set out to deliberately destroy him and the last gasping vestige that still remained of our friendship, I couldn’t have succeeded any more spectacularly than the fiasco of that paper. My fault. Oh, not writing it. Someday, if he ever reads it and the memory of this unholy mess has softened, maybe it will have some meaning for him, if not be the unvarnished tribute that I’d hoped it would be. No, my mistake was allowing Naomi to think it was the dissertation. I was so surprised by her unexpected arrival, and was so obviously pumped about having finished it – it’s probably the best, most beautiful and compelling prose I’ve ever written – that it was just easier to let her believe it was the dissertation rather than try to explain that that document wasn’t ever going to be finished, and that things were about to change significantly, well, my life, anyway. There was no time. I was late already and Jim was expecting me. I thought I’d explain … later. In a year or so. Maybe. Or not.

Man, if only I’d said, ‘Ah, hey, no, Mom, this isn’t the diss. It’s another paper. Sorry, I’m late; gotta run.’ What’s that? Fifteen words? Would have taken maybe five seconds to say? There would have been so much less pain and suffering for everyone.

But it’s going to be okay. Simon’s out of danger. Megan suffered no permanent damage. Jim will be fine. For once, I was able to fix one of my screw-ups. Mitigate the damage, as it were. I mean, I was planning to move on, anyway, right? This just turned out to be a more spectacular exit than I’d envisioned. But then, I guess most people don’t expect to self-destruct on the national news. Guess that was my fifteen minutes of infamy.

Mom was pretty upset, but I think she understands now. After I got Jim settled in the hospital, I explained to her that I’d decided to give up on the PhD, anyway. Academia just doesn’t hold the allure it once did and I wouldn’t be happy going back to a life that was purely about departmental politics, publish or perish, and esoteric research. I enjoyed teaching but, honestly, grading tests and reports wasn’t a lot of fun. So it’s not like I made some great sacrifice here. I just did what was fair and necessary. I think Jim feels badly, though, and he shouldn’t. None of this was his fault. Once he’s discharged from the hospital, I’ll make sure he understands that before I hit the road.

In the meantime, I’ve got a day to clear out my office at Rainier, so I’ll do that tomorrow, and then I’ll pack up my stuff here at the loft tomorrow night. Guess I’ll turn in my observer’s badge downtown before I pick up Jim at the hospital the next day.

I’m holding together pretty good, considering. I’m glad, though, that Naomi decided to stay with a friend tonight, that she understood that I need some quiet time ‘to process’. But, to be honest, I’m not really up to processing much of anything tonight. No, tonight I just want to be here, to soak up the ambiance of the loft, and commit it all, every last detail, to conscious memory. Once I pack stuff up, it won’t be home anymore.

I still don’t know where I’m going. South, I guess. Maybe, eventually, back to the temple. I suspect there’s a lot there that I could learn that might be of some use to Jim. Eventually, probably sooner rather than later, I’ll have to figure out how to pay off my mountain of student loans but I think it might be possible to nail Sid Graham and Berkshire Publishing for illegally releasing excerpts of my paper. I’ve got a good case and a settlement would solve the current looming financial crisis. I’ll be okay.

Yeah, sure, I’ll be fine. Life goes on, right? People don’t actually die of broken hearts – that’s a romantic fallacy. Loneliness, now, that’s something else. People can die of that. But I know how to be alone, how to deal with loneliness. I learned how years and years ago. Besides, I’ll be too busy picking up odd jobs to pay for food and gas to hardly even notice. I just … just have to keep going, one step after another, one day at a time and, eventually, it’ll be next year and … and it won’t all hurt quite as much as it does now. I have to believe that. I have to. It’s either believe or take a flying leap off the balcony and that’s just a bit too dramatic, you know? If I find I really can’t handle it, I want to be somewhere far away, some place where nobody knows me, so I can just … disappear, I guess. Ride off into the horizon. But I’m sure it won’t come to that. I’ll manage. Life does go on.

But, dear God, I’m going to miss him. More, I think, than I can even begin to imagine. I wish … ah, well, you know what they say: if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.


Trust in me
And you’ll find a heart so true.
All I want to do
Is give the best of me to you,
And walk beside you.

Just ask, it will be done.
And I will prove my love
Until you’re sure that I’m the one.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t jump off the balcony. All this time, and I had no clue – and, evidently, neither did he. We did a bang-up job of protecting one another from the truth. Nearly protected one another right into a lifetime of empty misery. Man, we have got to learn to be honest with one another, even when we’re afraid. Last night, we made a good beginning, a new beginning.

I’d explained and argued all afternoon, laying out time and again all the reasons why I couldn’t accept the badge and why I had to leave, whether I wanted to go or not. I was surprised, frankly, that Jim was putting up such a fight about it. I mean, deep down, I really did believe he’d be relieved to know I was finally moving on. But I never expected, never dreamed, had long ago given up hoping, that he’d want me to stay, that he didn’t want me to ever leave. God, that he loves me, wants me … needs me.

I felt like I’d been punched. I was so profoundly shocked I couldn’t seem to breathe. He turned away and slowly walked up the stairs to his bedroom, his shoulders slumped and with the air of resigned defeat of a man going to the gallows. I know I gaped at him as I struggled to grasp what he’d said. At first, I couldn’t make myself believe it. I was sure that I must have misunderstood, that I’d only heard what I wanted so desperately to believe. Vaguely, I remember my knees were weak and I sank into the chair, shaking my head, still struggling to draw in air. And I remember I started to shake. Man, I was close to blubbering like a baby. The relief was indescribable. The joy … there are no words, no words. All my carefully laid out arguments about why I couldn’t stay were just so much chaff in the wind. But that didn’t mean the problems, the issues and challenges weren’t real. Just that they paled before the awesome declaration Jim had just made.

It took me awhile to pull myself together. I’m not sure how long it was before I realized that I hadn’t said anything. That he didn’t know how I felt. That he thought I might still want to go. You’d think I would have raced up those steps, but I felt fragile. What if I had misunderstood? What if I went up there and made a fool of myself? What if … what if he changed his mind some day? What then? If I thought it was hard to leave now … that really would destroy me. And … and I felt badly, really embarrassed, that I’d hidden my feelings for him for so long. Yeah, I know, it’s a two-way street, but I’m the talker in this relationship. I’m the one who usually blurts things out and picks up the pieces later. The one time that I kept my lips zipped would, of course, turn out to be the one confession I should have risked months, hell years, ago.

So the first thing I intended to do was apologize, you know? And maybe, I don’t know, talk more about what he meant, about what he wanted – and how he saw the future unfolding. I didn’t get it, not really, not until I got up to his room and saw him sitting hunched on the edge of his bed, as if he was afraid to even look at me. And then, typical of everything I’ve tried to do lately, I messed it up and he thought I was saying that I didn’t love him, that his love for me didn’t change anything, when in fact it changed everything. Absolutely everything. He flinched away and started to shake so badly that he scared me. It was like he was exerting every last vestige of control he had to keep from flying apart. And the light from downstairs glinted on his face and I knew there was a tear, and that he was trying hard not to cry. Oh, God. No matter what happens, how much he’s been hurt or how much he’s suffering, Jim never, ever cries.

In that instant, I was shattered. Whatever defenses I still had, whatever fears, were gone, demolished.

I don’t even remember how I got across the floor. I just know that all of a sudden I was holding onto him for all I was worth, with all my strength, and saying over and over that it was alright, that I loved him more than life, and that I’d never, ever, not ever, leave him. Frankly, I was babbling. I could feel him trembling in my arms, heard him choke back a sob. This rock of a man was shaking with emotion. I kissed his brow and held on tighter, pulling him against me so that he was leaning on me and hanging on as if he was afraid if he let go that I’d disappear like a puff of smoke on the wind. Gradually, he quieted and looked up at me as if he couldn’t quite believe I was still there. I promised him I’d never go.

And then he kissed me. So tentatively, so carefully and tenderly, like I was some kind of precious thing he was afraid of hurting or breaking. It was sweet – but I’m no wilting flower here, no blushing maiden, you know? So I kissed him back with all the passion I’ve had bottled up inside for so long that I was about to explode with the need of him. My hands were roaming over his shoulders and back and let me tell you – nobody knows how to touch this man like I do. He was tasting me, inhaling me, feeling me want him and was probably hearing my heart thunder in my chest. I held nothing back, hid nothing from him, and it was so, so good to finally be able to let him know how much, how deeply, I love him.

I lost the ability to think somewhere along the line. I’ve got images in my head, memories of being on the bed, clothes gone, entangled together; my skin still tingles from his touch, from loving and being loved by him. It was wild, like a tempest that rips through after a long, long dry spell, violent and yet life-giving. Precious beyond imagining. And emotionally and physically explosive – so much need and want and desire that it couldn’t be sustained and we both lost any semblance of control pretty damn quickly. But that was okay. Necessary and incredibly affirming. I was completely spent, a total wreck … curled against him and the last thing I remember as I slipped into sleep is the feel of his feather-light kisses on my face and eyelids. Turns out, my big, strong, typically repressed he-man is a tender and romantic lover. I think, deep down, I wasn’t surprised to find that out. Anyone who has to armor his soul as heavily as Jim has over the years has the capacity to feel so much, so deeply and poignantly. I swear, I’ll never give him cause to regret trusting me with his heart. I swear, I will treasure him, love him, with all that I am for the rest of my life and be grateful every damn day for the chance to do so.

I was so sure that I’d lost everything of meaning. I thought I’d be leaving my own heart and soul behind when I walked out that door. I feel like I did when I first woke up in the hospital and realized that I wasn’t dead after all, exhilarated to be alive and know that I’d experienced a mindblowing miracle. I don’t know how we’ll deal with the fallout from my press conference. I don’t know how I’ll win credibility as a cop, but if he wants me as his partner, and it seems he does, then there’s nothing else I want more than to make his wishes all come true. God knows, he’s made all my wishes come true … looks like this particular beggar is in for the ride of a lifetime. Never again will I fear the love I feel for him, or doubt the love he feels for me. I’ll do whatever it takes to make our life together work.

Hell, if I have to, I’ll even cut my hair.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 26th, 2006 12:45 am (UTC)
When you emailed me "If You Go Away", I thought to myself hmmm... is this the one with the fabulous kiss at the end of it? And yes it was!

And then this story was charming! To get to be inside Blair's journaling head, episode by episode building up to that kiss of yours was a treat. I enjoyed reading your take on seemingly scattered random Blair who is actually all about Jim/all of the time.

I enjoy your stories so much. I was working my way through your website when the news came out about your webmaster. I am not all the way through them however and was waiting till I was finished your catalog to write you a thank you feedback. Best laid plans and all that stuff... I will pick up reading where I left off when your new site is up. So far my favorites have been the Westerns, I adored your wild west AU!

*le sigh*

Thank you for posting new stories in your lj. I have the time now to go back and play catch up here. Thank you for sharing your gifts. Your stories are special to me.
Jun. 27th, 2006 04:59 am (UTC)
T's me, Arianna -- posting from someone else's computer
Oh, hey, what lovely feedback!!! Thank you so much. And I'm sorry I didn't reply sooner, but I was at Moonridge and didn't have online connections. If you want any of my TS slash stories before my site is back up in the next few weeks, just let me know.

I'm truly delighted to know you've been enjoying my stories ... and eventually, I'll have another story in the Old West AU. And I'm glad the 'journal' approach of this story worked for you!

Love, Ari
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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