Hi everyone! This is my first fanfic ever. This story is a prequel to another one who will not be so gentle on our boys ( I have all the ideas for the sequel, just need more courage to start writing it down. ). Comments are welcome but don't be too harsh on me. I'm a french speaking canadian and english isn't my first language, I learned it through school. Hopefully, I did get help for the correction of any mistakes from my good friend Wolfpup. Thanks Wolfie, without you this would have never been possible. Thank you so much for those long hours of correcting... and procrastinating! ;-) I must also thank Marlou for helping me... So here it goes! Hope you love smarm! Good reading. :-)



Blair was in his office at Rainier University. Feverishly, he was trying to collect all the papers he would need for his next class. This time, he was really going to be late! Everything seemed to be going wrong this morning. It seemed that everything was going quicker around him. He, of course, had the impression he was moving in slow motion, as if the air around him was more opaque and that all his movements were slow and unprecise. He could say it was because of anastrologic imbalance or something just as farfetched that he could come up with. But, in fact, he knew very well the reason for his current state this morning.

Last night had been a very long and tiresome evening. Blair had helped Jim on a murder investigation all night long. Nothing really happened, nothing where he could have helped. Jim's heightened senses hadn't been needed. No, nothing special on that night except that it had prevented him from getting any sleep. The lifeless body of an old man had been found in one of the warehouses of the south section of Cascade. At his first, and only, glimpse of the victim and all the blood surrounding him, Blair had thought he was going to be sick. It hadn't been the first time that he had seen a murder victim, Jeez, since I've been following Jim, I've probably seen more dead bodies than a regular police officer working in a city less dangerous than Cascade, somewhere like New York city, maybe, but this time had been different. This body hadn't been more gruesome than others he had seen during his "experience" as a police observer. Not that he had gotten used to seeing all this violence and hate, he was sure his face still waned everytime he saw blood. No, nothing particular about the victim itself, only the location. The old disinfected warehouse where they had found the body reminded him bitterly of his own last place. Painful memories that he hadn't wanted to recall. He had to admit to himself though, he had had some good times there with his little friend Larry, his old thesis subject. It had been nice to stay there without any worries but to live freely with his little monkey friend until the activities of his neighbors had literally exploded to the surface of the world. Unfortunately, his own little world had been blown with it.

Since then, Blair had been living with Jim, his new thesis subject. He didn't really like to call him a "subject". Somewhere in the past 2 years, Jim had become a lot more. From an unknown cold and humorless police officer, the man had become an attentive and protective friend. A friend who was letting Blair stay with him. Although he paid rent, he couldn't believe the trust Jim put into him.The young man liked the sense of security that the loft brought, a sense of accomplishment and stability. Even though he knew Jim would never throw him out without a good reason, he couldn't help thinking about what would happen to him if he finally did. One day or another, he knew he would have to go and he just didn't like to think about it.

The vision of the old warehouse last night had brought to his mind how good it was to live in a comfortable place with a good friend such as Jim. But above all, it had reminded him of what he had been, where he was and where he was going. Would he ever be able to live somewhere else? What would happen to Jim if he wasn't around? And what would happen to him if Jim wasn't around?

The investigation had finally found its end early in the morning. Back at the loft, Blair hadn't been able to stop thinking of the warehouse, the loft and Jim. All of the previous questions and a lot more had haunted his mind. The loft did bring some security to his life. A very precarious sense of security. And with all kinds of questions and hypotheses coming to life in his head, Blair hadn't slept at all last night. And this morning, he had to be in class on time!

Jim was sitting in front of his desk in the bullpen of the Major Crimes Division. He had a hot coffee in his right hand and a blank page in his left. Blair was absent today, he had a class early this morning. An exam, I think Jim mumbled to himself. He really appreciated more and more the presence of the young man at his side, as much at work as at the loft. Of course, the transition had been everything but easy, from a quiet bachelor life to the one that he was living right now with the energetic Blair Sandburg. The young anthropologist probably hadn't noticed, but Jim had put a great deal of work into his new life in the loft, so that both could coexist peacefully. Jim had sacrificed a lot of his own autonomy and tranquility when he had accepted to take him under his roof. And it was precisely to protect the little reminiscence of control he still had over his life in the loft that he required Blair to strictly observe his "House Rules". He liked the sense of control that he had on his own life, his decisions and his acts. But, once Sandburg had entered the restricted circle of 'friends on which Jim could count', he had to change this control, to remodel it so that his young friend's emotions and ideas could be part of it. He didn't always listen to everything Blair had to say. Sometimes, a simple nod of the head and he could go back to his normal tasks without being buried under a ton of arguments. However, he did have to congratulate him now and then. Some of his ideas helped him catch the bad guys. Had it not for those ideas, he would probably be under guard in a forgotten asylum surrounded by people, trying to help him understand that his heightened senses didn't exist, without even trying to figure out whether they actually did or not. In the past few years, the Guide accompanied the Sentinel incessantly on difficult and dangerous situations. The courage of the young man surprised him each time and he was very proud of Blair.

Suddenly, Jim's sense of touch penetrated his deep thoughts to tell him that this coffee cup was getting dangerously hot in his right hand. He decided to put the coffee down on his desk before being burned and looked at the white page standing in his other hand. Of course, Blair helped Jim to understand and control his senses and to prevent him from zoning-out. But he was also a savior when it came to filling out Jim's reports. Jim was really not into writing. He was the action-packed type of guy. Not that he couldn't compose, he had been quite good in english in his high school years, but he just disliked having to explain in words everything he had done during a case, especially since he had to leave out every moment where he had used his heightened senses. Since Blair wasn't there today, he would have to write down the report by himself.

"Hey, Ellison. Where's the Blair Wonder? " Jim looked up and saw officer Brown standing in front of his desk.

"Had a class this morning. "

"What? After last night's investigation? Man, he must be so tired. I can't understand how he does it. It was hard enough for me to mix college and girlfriends. I don't know how he can manage with classes, girls... and you! "

"Thanks, Brown, real funny. Don't you have anything better to do? " Jim grinned.

"Well, matter of fact, I do. If you happen to see Blair Duracel Bunny, give him this, okay ?" Brown handed a thick yellow envelope to Jim and headed for the elevator.The envelope was addressed to Blair Sandburg Cascade PD observer. It was from the police internal mail service. Jim wondered what Internal Affairs wanted with Blair. Whatever it was it would have to wait. Blair wouldn't come to work at the station today and he was probably correcting his exams in his office. It would have to wait until tonight.

To his own surprise, Blair arrived in time for his class. At the sight of their T.A. entering the room, the students gradually stopped talking, looking at him with those little lost puppy-like eyes. Is that what Jim sees when I'm practicing the same old technique on him? he wondered. He approached the stand and glanced up at the class. As he started to speak, a young man entered the room. Mr. Nielsen, late again, Blair noticed.The young man was in his twenties, a little younger than Blair. He was tall and slim with brown eyes and short curly brown hair. He was the timid kind of guy, never asked any questions in class, didn't give his opinions or comments except in his assignments. The reserved student excelled though. His research was complex and elaborate and showed a thorough study of the subject. Blair did respect Nielsen's seriousness but couldn't understand his distant attitude in class.His grades were remarkable even if Nielsen was practically always late. He quickly took a place at the bottom of the class.

"Well, now that everyone's here, and I hope ready, I'll start to pass the exams. Please, do not touch the paper before I tell you so. For now, I want your desks to be clear of any books, sheets or bags. The exam, as usual, must be written in ink but liquid paper is permitted. Your answers must be precise. The exam will count for 30% of the final session mark" Blair announced.

As the students rapidly removed their stuff from their tables, Blair gave to each first student of the column the appropriate number of tests, each of them distributing silently the exams to the ones behind them. Blair waited for all forty students to look at him anxiously.

"You have 4 hours to complete the exam. Those of you who finish before the allowed time will be able to leave class after giving me back the test. Good luck!"

Like an olympic athlete who had just heard the sound of the gun starting the race, the group of eager students rushed on a frantic race against the clock. The clock that Blair was looking at with another thought in mind. In a little more than 4 hours, he would be in his bed, recollecting lost hours of sleep before beginning the long corrections on these exams.

Jim was just putting the last words in his report. 'Roy Thompson is now in custody'. Jim reread the report for any mistakes or omissions. He recalled yesterday's actions.It had been a very slow day, at first. But, right after lunch, he had been called on a murder case at the pier. An old man had been found dead, face down with a knife in his back. Sandburg had been with him and he had seen the young man's face becoming whiter as he spotted the lifeless body. Blair would never get accustomed to seeing dead people. Hell, do I?, Jim thought. Jim had all the military training, the Covert Ops and his police experience, but through all this, had he really become immune to seeing death? Maybe he had, he wasn't sure himself. But Blair was just a civilian, and even if he was trying to hide his feelings from Jim, he knew his guide would never get used to it.

The victim had been a homeless Caucasian man, 5'9", 63 years old. Everyone had smelled the scent of alcohol on him. The dead body had been found in an old warehouse that seemed a lot like the one Sandburg had lived in before he had found himself homeless. The warehouse seemed to be a rendez-vous point for little drug dealers and other low-life scums. At night, the place must have been crowded, but in the middle of the day and with all the police cars around, no one had been seen. An unidentified caller had alerted the police to the location of the victim.

The forensics search had found no prints on the knife. They had pinpointed the time of the murder to be around 7:00am that morning. No evidence of a fight had been found. The guy had probably been too drunk to defend himself. Jim had decided to wait until later in the night to find a witness who could have heard or seen something. Nobody had been in the area at that time, but Jim had suspected that people would start to appear at night for their drug supply. So Jim and Blair had waited. After some searching, they had finally found someone who knew the victim and, even more, had seen the murder. A few minutes later the suspect, Roy Thompson, one of the little drug dealers of the area, had been arrested. Case closed. Too easy, Jim had thought. But at 4:30am, Jim had seen the fatigue on his young friend's face and had been glad, after all, to call it a night.

After he finished the final corrections, Jim decided to head to the nearest fast-food restaurant for lunch. He was starving and a good greasy all dressed hamburger without pimento, of course, seemed more and more appetizing.

"All right everyone, time's up!" Blair announced. The remaining students, almost all the class, glanced at him. In a general sound of deception, anger and disbelief, the students slowly began to get up and give their sheets to their T.A.. Nearly all the students had stayed until the end of the allowed four hours. Mr Neilsen and Ms. Thornton had been the only ones who had finished the exam and had gotten out of class before the elapsed time. As everyone was leaving the auditorium, Blair started to gather his things and put the tests in his briefcase. He was really tired and needed his bed more than anything else.

This week had been so hectic.The final preparations for the exam, a date with Isabella on Tuesday and a date with Leigh on Wednesday (both dates hadn't worked out though). On top of that, he had been at the station all week, had spent three days helping Jim with a bomb threat before catching the guy, and then last night's murder at the warehouse. Just thinking about the warehouse sent shivers all over his body. I really don't need to think about that right now. What I need is a good bed and several hours of sleep before starting to correct these exams Blair finally left the campus and hopped into his Corvair. Yes, it really had been a drawn out and exhausting week and, on this friday afternoon, his only plans were to relax a little.

Jim entered the loft slowly and silently. He knew before coming in that his young friend was sleeping soundly in his room and didn't want to wake him. After last night's investigation and his early class today, Jim knew that Blair was probably dead-tired. He wasn't really hungry, not with all he had eaten that afternoon so he decided to watch tv. He turned the sound so low that anyone else, except him, wouldn't hear anything. But with his heightened sense of hearing, he could listen to everyword that was said on the nightly news. He didn't want to focus too much though. He didn't want to zone out on the tv. So he just listened vaguely to the reporters. The day's news was quite boring and Jim slowly began to succumb to sleep.

Where am I?

Blair was lying down on a hard and cold cement floor. Everything was dark around him, he couldn't see any walls or ceiling. There was no light at all.

Oh my God, I can't see anything. Please, please, please, I need to find a light.

He didn't know why, but he needed to find the Light. It was important that he find it soon, really important.

He began to get up but stumbled on something. He tried to touch whatever had made him trip. Yes, there it was. There was a filament hanging horizontally near his waist line. He nervously started to pull the string toward him but he couldn't.

It must be attached to something. Oh please, let it be the exit. I must find the light!

He had two choices. The string stretched from left to right. He had to choose a way. He decided to go right. He began to follow the string blindlessly. Suddenly he heard something.

"Stop! You're going in the wrong direction. You'll find nothing at this end of the string." a strong and deep male voice said.

"Who..Who are you ?" Blair asked, stopping, searching for the owner of the voice. "I can't see you. I'm searching for the light."

"Go back. I'm warning you. This is not the way that will lead you to the light. Trust me. I am a friend. " The unknown voice seemed concerned and friendly. Blair was still scrutinizing the dark, trying to pinpoint the direction from where the voice was originating.

"Why can't I go this way ? What is at this end ?" he asked, worried.

"Blackness. No light. Emptiness only. If you go that way, you will never come back. "

"I must find the Light. I must." Blair implored.

"Your only salvation is the other way. Go back." The voice seemed to come from all around Blair, as if the darkness itself was speaking.

"How...How can I trust you ? You may be the one who put me in here. How can I know you're telling me the truth? "

No response. Only the silence and the dark. Nothing.

"Well? " Blair's voice was trembling now.

Then he heard it. It was nothing but a little giggle at the beginning. Soft and nearly inaudible. But the giggle was getting louder and louder... and evil. He could sense the craziness in it. The laugh was too loud now. It was deafening.

"Stop it! Stop it I said! " Blair screamed.

Falling to his knees, he frantically put his hands over his ears.The laugh wasn't stopping. I'm lost and alone. I'm a prisoner, a prisoner of this place, this voice, this laugh. He was crying now, with despair and sorrow. He couldn't stop himself and the laugh just doubled in power as if the tears were making it stronger. "This darkness... without light there's no salvation, no hope, no life." Blair mumbled to himself.

The laugh stopped suddenly. Only his sobs could be heard now.

"Without Light, there's no You!" the voice said dryly. It sounded angry now, but it was definitely the same voice.

He understood now that the Light was his only hope. Blair needed to win this battle for his own sanity and freedom. He got up but was still sobbing silently and tears rolled down his face. He started walking rapidly, while holding the string, continuing in the same direction he had walked at first. It must be the right way. It must be.It has to be.

"What do you think you're doing, Pretty Boy? You don't belong anywhere else but here. This is your home, remember?", the sarcastic voice said then continued, "You don't need anybody else but yourself and you surely don't deserve anyone else but yourself! This loft, those friends aren't yours. They're not from your world! Your world is this... emptiness. Good old emptiness, with no one to care about or worry about. No one to make you sad and feel bad. Here, you are protected. 'Detached with love', remember Pretty Boy? "

"I am-not-listening to you." Blair answered, trying to sound determined and strong. The voice seemed to get closer, but he still wasn't able to see anyone or anything coming toward him. Blair had the impression that the voice was like a vice and that he was caught in the middle of its jaws as it was slowly closing on him.

"Oh, but you are.You don't need Jim or Simon or even this stupid loft.. This is not you. You are trying to be someone that you'll never be able to become. You don't have the guts to face the world as it is. You need to go back to your life. You're living at the dependance of Jim and you know it! You're nothing more than a looser. You need nothing more now than to be isolated again."

"What do you know of my needs?" Blair asked still following the string.

"A lot more than you know yourself, Pretty Boy." the voice broke into a mocking laugher. "I know every little facet of your disgustful life and I'm tired of you playing another one's role," the voice added with disdain. "You're not who you think you are. And you surely are not as important to anyone as I am to you."

Silence. The voice wasn't talking anymore. No laugh, no giggle either. Only silence.

Blair was there. He could feel a wall in front of him. Searching desperately for a door, his hand rested on a knob. Without waiting any longer, he opened it.

Blair was blinded by the sudden white light that filled the room in front of him. A person was sitting in a rocking chair just beside a bed where a man was lying. The man in bed had long curly brown hair and was sleeping. Blair knew immediately that the person he was looking at was him. How could that be possible? He then attempted, in vain, to identify the other person in the room, intrigued to find someone looking silently at his sleeping twin, but he could only see the stranger's back. Blair tried to enter the room, but he couldn't move, an invisible wall was standing between him and the chamber.

"I must go to the Light. Let me in, let me in!" he screamed, banging vigorously on the wall that was preventing him from going any further. The stranger in the room didn't seem to hear him.Hopeless, Blair sat down, leaning his back against the invisible wall. He brought up his knees, folded his arms on top of them, and hid his face. Finally, deciding to calm himself, Blair forced his breathing to a more normal pace. I am dreaming all this. Could that be possible? To find the light, do I have to wake up? That must be it, he thought and then he faced the wall again. The room was still illuminated and nothing had changed.

"Wake up, man! C'mon, help me out here, wake up! " Blair said aloud, slamming the wall with his punches.

Suddenly, everything went dark. The image of the room filled of light disappeared. Blair knew he was in his bed now. He opened his eyes. The man sitting in the chair was still there, rocking relentlessly. His head was bent down so Blair couldn't see his face. Slowly, as if he had just noticed that Blair was awake, he looked up.

The man's face was as white as the snow. His eyes were as dark as the darkest night. His hair was dark brown and curly. He had an evil grin on his face. The man standing in front of him was... him! It was the exact replica of Blair Sandburg only it didn't have any life in it. Before Blair could say anything, the grin broke into a little giggle.

"Wrong door, told you so !" the man said. "Now you're all mine ... again!!!" The man's hands suddenly appeared in front of Blair and started to strangle him.

"Nooooooooooo" was the only thing Blair had time to scream.

"C'mon Sandburg. Wake up! Wake up, Chief!" Jim was shaking Blair vigorously now. Blair was having a bad nightmare and was screaming Jim's name. Jim had been sleeping on the couch when he had suddenly heard his friend cry out for help. He had tried for the last 5 minutes to wake the young man but with no results, and he was beginning to worry. "Wake up buddy, you're having a nightmare!"

Blair's eyes flew open. "What!?!"

"It's okay. You're awake now. "

"Jim? Oh, man..." Blair brought his hands to his neck, remembering painfully his evil twin's grasp. He tried to stop the tears gathering in his eyes. The nightmare had really scared him.

"Are you okay? " Jim was standing in front of the bed, worried about his friend's emotional distraught.

"Y...Yes... No... I don't know. This nightmare was so real, man!"

"Tell me about it. I tried to wake you up but you just kept crying and screaming. I couldn't get to you. "

Blair looked away. "Oh, I'm so sorry, Jim. Did I wake you? This is real stupid. I'm acting like a child." He was still crouched in his bed. His hair was soaked, a curl sticking to his right cheek. He remembered everything about the dream, everything the voice had told him and tears filled up his eyes again.

Jim sat on the bed near Blair. Moving the misplaced hair, Jim tucked it behind Blair's ear. "Shhhh... I understand. Sometimes nightmares can be really frightening, believe me, I know. Just let it go. You had a long and stressful week, Blair. You need to relax now. " Jim put his arm around the young man's shoulder.

Blair didn't know what to think. This was unreal. I still must be dreaming. But he knew he wasn't. This was Jim, his best friend, and he was trying to help his Guide. But the voice was still reverberating in his head. 'You don't need anybody else but yourself and you surely don't deserve anyone else but yourself.' Tears were rolling down his face now. He closed his eyes. He couldn't face Jim like this. Do I truly deserve a good friend such as Jim ? I really am a loser, crying like a baby over a nightmare and in front of my best friend who probably thinks I'm crazy.

"Blair? Tell me what's wrong. What was the dream about? " Jim patted Blair on the shoulder. The kid was really taking this bad. Sandburg looked so joyful usually but this dream must have really shaken him.

Blair opened his eyes but couldn't meet his friend's gaze. Instead, he looked down to his hands playing with the sheets of the bed. "I'm....I'm okay, Jim. This is going to pass. Nothing you should worry about. Thanks."

"I am worried. Listen, Blair. I don't know what this is all about, but I do know you. Something is bothering you. Something bad and something that is deep inside of you. It's hurting, and I don't think you should face this all alone. "

Still not looking at Jim, Blair nodded and slowly inched himself into a sitting position just to the right of his partner. Jim's warm touch on Blair's shoulder encouraged him to take the deep breath he needed to continue.

"This is about me and my fears."

"Go ahead."

Blair sighed. "I don't know where to begin. This is so complicated. I'm used to listening to people talk about their problems, but this is so hard when I'm the one talking about them."

He continued. "I think it began yesterday. You know, the warehouse and everything. It really made me think. I recalled the way I was living before I met you. I was alone in that warehouse, all by myself. Oh, I had a lot of friends, but I don't think they really were nothing more than simple friends. Nothing like you and me. I never had a best friend before I met you." Blair stopped for a moment, his eyes nervously darting to Jim's face before he quickly returned to studying the blanket in his lap. "Well, anyway, I was thinking about the warehouse and my life as it was back then and.... I don't know, man."

"You were scared?" Jim said, more like a statement than a question.

"Yeah. I was frightened to death! I mean, this life in the loft with you, this is so unreal ! I have to pinch myself everyday to be sure I'm not dreaming all this. This friendship. I love the security it brings to my life. As long as you're around, I know this security and that friendship will always be present, but if I ever loose you, I'll be all by myself again in the dark. I'll go back to what I used to be before I met you. That's what the nightmare was all about, I think. About having to return to a life where you wouldn't be there to protect me or just be my friend." Blair was now looking directly in Jim's blue eyes.

Jim gave Blair's shoulder a reassuring squeeze. He knew what Blair was talking about. "I understand Blair. This is new territory for me too. This is hard for me to tell but, I guess I am in the same situation as you are, Chief. My life used to be in two colors - black or white, right or wrong. But since I've met you, I've learned to look at things from different angles, different perspectives. I've grown to appreciate the differences in people and situations, to see them in varying shades of gray. Face it, you've taught me a lot."

"You really mean that?" Blair's eyes were all wet again.

"Yes, I do, buddy. When I first met you, I thought of you as nothing more than a hyperactive student who had nothing better to do with his time but to harass people. But I rapidly learned that you were as far from that image as Brackett is from an angel." Blair grinned, listening as Jim resumed. "You are truly a rare person, partner. You love your work and what you do and, on top of that, you risk your own life everyday for me..."

"Jim, I chose to..." Blair interrupted.

Jim held up his hand, cutting off the words he knew were to follow. "I know that, Chief. But you still risk your life everytime you follow me to a crime scene or just by living with me. And I respect that. I really do. I'm proud of you, Blair. But I still have this urge to protect you, to watch out for your safety every time you're around me and even when you're not there. "

"I told you Jim. That is you. You are a Sentinel. You were genetically choosen to care and protect. This is not about me. I am not as important as you think." And you surely are not as important to anybody as I am to you. the voice echoed again. Blair looked away this time. He couldn't bear to see his friend now.

Jim took his young friend's chin and softly forced him to look at him again. "You're wrong, Blair. You are the most important person in my life. I must protect the citizens of Cascade from all kinds of dangers, that's part of my job. But above all, I must protect you. If you have to face psychos, murderers and arsonists now and then, that's all because of me. It's my responsibility to be there for you whenever you need help. That may be part of this Sentinel thing, but it still doesn't matter. I'm your Blessed Protector, remember? And you are the one who told me it was for life. "

Blair could see the sincerity reflected in his friend's eyes. Chastising himself, he let his relief spill out into words. "Oh man, I'm so sorry. I really am an idiot. I know what you mean, Jim and I should have never doubted you. This nightmare I had, it was just all dark around me and the only thing I needed to survive was this Light. As if the light could protect me from the emptiness, hold me together and alive. I guess all along the light was you." Blair put his arms around Jim, holding him tight for a very long time. He knew he was right. The meaning of his dream suddenly became crystal clear. The evil twin was representing what he was scared of : loneliness, and it was trying to drag him back to his old solitary life. He needed Jim in his life as much as he had needed the light back in his nightmare. Like the light, Jim was a friend who would help him during periods of despair and guide him through difficult times. And it felt so good to have a friend that you could bet your life on.

Jim knew that Blair was crying silently on his shoulder. But he didn't care. His own eyes were full of tears too.

Sentinel and Guide together. Two friends in a complete understanding of their meaning in life. Both knowing that their friendship would last as long as there was light in the darkness. Just as a full moon shining in a black sky, the light was eternal.

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