Author's notes: I haven't read any of the SenToo fic fixes (I couldn't even bring myself to do that much!), so I apologize in advance if this is woefully repetitive. I didn't discover The Sentinel until after Sentinel, Too aired the first time, and I had put off seeing it, literally, for months. I had a copy of the episode on VHS, but I'd dreaded watching it. I knew the basic plot elements and I just couldn't put myself through it. Finally, a Senfriend took pity on me and basically came over and held my hand while I watched it.
Territorial Imperative -- Interruptus
London bridge's falling down.
London bridge's falling down.
I can see all those bridges Sandburg worried about -- all the ones we were so sure we'd never have to cross -- tumbling down in big loud piles of cement and twisted metal and dust.
How did this happen?
How did this happen??
Blair was wrong. He thought we could handle anything. It's not true. Those weren't just items on an agenda, those bridges we had to cross. They were real, and ugly, and ultimately, bigger than we ... okay ... bigger than I could cope with.
What seems really clear now, now that it's all fucked up, now that he's on a respirator and his hands are quiet on the blanket, is that I did the one thing sure to destroy us.
I separated us.
He had ... has ... had ... this utter faith that we could do anything, as long as we stuck together.
I blew it.
I could try to excuse it. I could say it was the biological reaction taken to the nth degree. I could say it was just my territorial imperative asserting itself in the face of another encroaching Sentinel. That's what Blair said it was.
After he hid her presence from me.
After he put Jim the Research Subject before Jim the Partner.
After I territorial imperatived him right out of my life.
I pushed him away. Pushed. Hell, I packed for him. And when he came back, I pushed again, with words. I used his phrases against him. I took his weapon and I used it against him.
He still came back.
Tenacious little bugger, my Blair.
Then one day I looked over my shoulder and he wasn't there. Wasn't where he'd been for three years. Wasn't where he should be.
And it all clicked into place.
Six minutes too late.
I put my mouth on his -- how many times have I done that? I put my mouth on his and I breathed my air into him. I put my hands over his heart -- I've done it a thousand times. I put my hands over his heart and pressed and pressed, until I could hear tiny cracks in his ribs, and I could hear the breath I just put in him forced back out, but I couldn't hear, I couldn't hear his heart beat.
The constant in my life.
Six minutes it took. Six minutes to get a heartbeat. A heartbeat so faint I had dial all the way up to hear it.
Four minutes can cause brain damage. I know that.
Six minutes. It took six minutes.
That was three days ago.
I don't want to be a Sentinel anymore.
I don't want to be alone anymore.
I want him to open his eyes. I want him to breathe on his own and talk with his hands and be my smart, funky, beautiful Blair again.
I want my Guide back.
I want to kill Alex Barnes.
If he dies --
If he dies again, I might go with him.
I've survived a lot so far in my life. I've always found reasons to keep going, keep trying.
But this -- this isn't like that. This is worse. This I can't even stand to think about.
I don't want to be half of us for the rest of my life.
I hear Jim's voice. Just Jim's.
I feel hands ghosting over me. Floaty warm ghost hands. Not Jim's hands; I know those. I haven't felt those yet. Other hands -- poking, pressing, holding my wrist up, rubbing my fingers. I hear the answers Jim gives, but not the questions.
He tells me I'm in a coma. I don't know about that. Seems like something weirder than that. Like straddling worlds or something. Whatever it is, it's an unearthly freaky thing. I'm in here. Lucid. Well, that's stretching it. Cognizant. Hmmm, okay, even that's a little strong.
Aware of Jim.
Most of the time. Sometimes I think it's Mr. Hargraves from RFK Elementary in Petaluna, but that's extremely unlikely since he died in 1987. For awhile there, I thought maybe he was my guide to the afterlife or something and I had a little mid-coma panic attack, but then Naomi showed up and I know she's not dead, she's just not here, so I figure I'm safe enough.
Just hallucinating a little. Not too surprising, given the circumstances.
Where was I?
Oh yeah, being aware of things. Real things. Like this ice cold thing they've got stuck down my throat, pumping in even icier air. I know I'm not in the water anymore, even if sounds are murky and I'm cold as shit. I know because he keeps telling me, and I wonder if he knows how much I need to hear that. I can't move. I'd like to. I'd like to open my eyes and grab hold of him and yell at him so loud his ears ring for days.
How could we be so stupid?
I took a wild animal and pretended I'd domesticated him. I played with him. Teased him. And then I was surprised when he showed his teeth. Big, sharp, painful teeth.
How could I have been so dumb?
I placated when I should have forced. I apologized when he was in the wrong, and I made it all worse.
I guess you could call dying "worse."
They got me back. I know that, too. He told me all about it. He's wearing his voice out, talking to me. Telling me over and over it's time to wake up, time to wake up, time to wake up. Telling me he wishes he'd gotten there sooner, sooner, not later. Not late. Not so late. Not too late. One regret after another, just pouring out of him, like sweat.
He's suicidal and I'm on a respirator.
Oh yeah, we are quite the pair.
After everything Jim's been through in his life, this is what's pushing him off the edge. I guess I should be flattered.
Six minutes it took.
Brain damage in four.
I heard that, too. Weird stuff's sticking. That stuck.
The brain seems okay. Motor skills are still a big question mark. I can see myself stirring a big pot of ratatouille with a spoon in my teeth.
As soon as I can, buddy, I'll do more than this. More than just lie here listening to only your voice.
I'm working on it.
Looking back on it now, it seems so strange. Like it happened to somebody else. Someone else sneaked in Blair's drawer and read his research. Someone else packed his things, far more carefully than he would have done, boxed them up and left them for him.
Big square boxes of rejection.
Him leaving wasn't enough. His things being gone wasn't enough. I could still smell him on the cushions of the couch, see him sitting at the table, hunched over his computer, his face lit blue by the screen. I could feel him in the dust motes, taste him in the air.
So I decimated the loft. I put everything in storage, opened all the windows, scrubbed until I scraped fingernails off. Anything to wipe clean the scent. Anything to mask the taste.
Of the man I love.
How did that happen? How did I get to the point where I couldn't bear to share my territory with him, the only person who ever made himself at home there?
How did we get that far apart?
How could I do that?
She did it.
The other Sentinel.
The tall one, with blonde hair, long legs, big tits.
And smart, too.
Just like he likes them.
And he kept her from me. Kept quiet, when he should have talked. Jesus, what a time to learn that lesson.
I was afraid.
I'm still afraid.
I don't know how to fix this.
I'm surfacing. One mental hand swimming in front of the other, mental feet kicking behind me. Coming up to the surface. I can hear other voices now. I can hear both the questions and Jim's answers. I can sense him, hunkered in a chair beside me. I can feel the weight of him, how warm he is. I'm sure he hasn't really been here twenty-four-seven -- a man's got to eat and take a leak from time to time -- but anytime I'm awake, I feel him.
He doesn't sound quite so panicked anymore. All those bleeping monitors are passing along good info, apparently. Brain waves normal. Pulse strong. Get me off this freaking respirator and I'll tell him I'm good. Maybe tomorrow, he tells me. See if I can't breathe on my own.
I'll never take talking for granted again. If I've got something to say, I'm damn well going to say it, and if he goes apeshit on me, well ... I'll just have to talk him down. That used to always work. I used to be good at that. I'm not holding back from him any more. Ever. Ever, ever, ever. Holding back's part of what got me here in the first place.
I blew it. I totally blew it. He depends on me to know stuff, and I not only didn't know it; I didn't even see it coming. And when it was on us, like that garbage truck that first day, this humongous thing we couldn't avoid, I played it all wrong.
I backed down, backed off. When I should have pulled a Jim, tossed him up against a wall and made him listen to me. I didn't even recognize him that day. I walk in the loft and there's all my shit, in boxes. Labeled.
Labeled. Not some irrational, hasty, heat-of-the-moment thing. No way. He took time to label them.
Right then, I should have caged him.
Neither one of us was thinking very clearly. He was off in some never-never king of the jungle testosterone anal retentive place, and I did what I always used to do when confronted with a bully -- I put my hands up, backed off and skedaddled.
Big mistake. Huge.
He just retreated farther and farther. How about that thing that passed for a conversation at the station? Nice one, huh. I breached his trust? Pull the other one, Jim. Yeah, I fucked up. Yeah, I thought with my brain instead of my dick -- that's not usually a problem. But you threw me out long before you ever heard the words 'Alex Barnes', so don't lay that particular pile at my feet.
I'm in deep enough shit as it is.
He opened his eyes.
He did. He blinked twice, then he opened his eyes.
I don't know about him, but now I can breathe again.
He's rolling his head on the pillow, and his fingers are kneading the blanket. Down at the foot of the bed, the little lumps his feet make start moving around.
He's opened his eyes. His hands work. His legs work.
Thank you, God.
Jim looks like shit. He's got big blue smears under both eyes, like watching me bruised him.
He looks old.
He's staring at me like he doesn't have even half an idea what to say to me, and I'm not much better. I'm breathing on my own. That's a good thing. They're talking about rehab and virtually guaranteed pneumonia and the threat of residual brain trauma, but I'm not going to worry about all that shit now.
That's a bridge we'll cross when we get to it.
He's licking his lips. Makes me want to lick mine. They're at least as dry as his are. Maybe more. Talking's tough, still, but I manage to tell him I'm whole. In here. Same old me.
For better, for worse.
He eases up just a hair then, but he's still strung pretty tight. It's going to be all weird, I can already tell. He's just torn himself right up. As soon as I get some strength back, and my throat doesn't feel like it had a tube stuck down it for three days, I'll work on him.
There's no point in him guilting himself to death. It's not like we spent every waking moment together anyway. It's not really his fault he wasn't there when she spazzed. I'm going to keep telling myself that. I'll believe it eventually. And I'll make him believe it, too.
If we let her separate us now, she's won.
And I don't aim to let that happen.
He's all there. Brain, body, all of it. It's a miracle. An honest-to-God miracle. I don't know how we'll ever get through this. Past this. Maybe he's a better person than I am, because I can't even forgive myself, let alone hope he'll forgive me. But if he'll let me back in, I'll spend the rest of my life making it up to him. I swear, I will.
I'm not alone. Not entirely. Not anymore.
It's about healing now.
My body. His mind.
Patching things up.
Mending the rip.
I think for starters, maybe we should bring the furniture up from the basement. Maybe get all my shit out of storage.
Recreate the lair.
And maybe --
he'll get up the courage to touch me again.