Author's notes: This is a gift to my fellow fanfic writer and Stick Figure Gang member, Mulder. She suggested this plot bunny, and it wouldn't leave me alone! Of course, her wonderful compliments helped, too <grin>

There are a few spoilers to 'Night Shift' and major spoilers to Sentinel, Too. While I normally don't do 'missing scenes', this is an epilogue of sorts for S2 in my TS/MacGyver world. I am in agreement with several others that Blair at the end of S2 is on a major 'spirit walk', and will come back to us slightly damp but alive and hopefully more enlightened. It may simply be a case of denial, but like Sam I refuse to believe otherwise!

I am not starting with the resuscitation scene at the fountain. Many others have covered this ground, and my knowledge of medical procedures and spirit guides is zilch. This story will start at the hospital, assuming that Blair has started breathing again, but is still unconscious and not out of the woods yet (and perhaps still talking to his wolf... though I would have thought a hawk, myself, though I suppose the morph scenes are easier with a wolf...)

The one thing that has struck me from my lurks on the list and from various S2 and Night Shift stories, is that many seem to want to place 'blame' on Jim for the various arguments recently. Well, I've always been more of a 'see both sides' type of person. In this case, I feel that both parties have made mistakes that are in accordance to each character's personality flaws. That is one of the reasons I like TS - this friendship of two basically good but flawed characters, trying to make the sentinel thing work. So I will toss in my favorite 'neutral party' mediator (MacGyver) and see where this leads. This is mostly from Mac's point of view.

Still prayerfully hoping we see the second part of this story, and that Jim has the chance to shoot that Barbie of Borg, ah, I mean, that evil sentinel!

Please send any comments to spacecloud@juno.com

Enjoy the ride.

Disclaimer: Most of characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain. If you do sue, you will not get much except for my Black Lab mix, who is currently being very protective of his alpha person since she has been in a blue mood lately.

Rated PG-13, for language, since the emotions are running a bit high in this one.


NEUTRAL PARTY



C. L. Combs






Leaning against the window to the ICU room, I stare at the pale figure under all the medical probes and devices. The fear for this fragile life chills me to the bone. My worse nightmare, the death of one of my sons, had nearly come to pass. Still could, for that matter. The doctor hasn't been very optimistic, saying that no one knew how long Blair had been without oxygen. Even if he does wake up, there is the strong possibility of brain damage. My heart rips to shreds just thinking of my intelligent, enthusiastic son with so much promise destroyed like that. Staring into Blair's face, I try to will my own strength into his weakened body. He has to make it. We have not had enough time together yet. Blair has too much living to do.

I spare another glance towards the large, hunched figure sitting next to Blair's side. Ellison's cold mask is in place, trying to protect himself. However, I have a pretty good idea of the tortured soul behind it. I know without a doubt that the sentinel will not last long if his guide does not pull through. Did anyone else realize that? Know enough to keep a suicide watch if the unthinkable happens? Was Jim even aware of what was going on at this point? I can't believe how much I cared about that. Somewhere along the line, the tough cop had become family. I don't want to lose the sentinel, either.

What happened? The brief call from Banks had mentioned something about a woman Blair was helping at the University who had stolen nerve gas. Then he had insinuated that it was 'complicated'. Did the complications arise from the case, or from the sentinel business?

From Blair's last phone call, I had the impression that there had been problems between sentinel, guide, and the dissertation. That didn't surprise me. I've suspected that the ultra-private Jim had no idea what being the 'subject' of a study might entail. Nor had Blair realized yet what the costs might be to Jim or himself. But, in what I am discovering to be typical Blair fashion, he had downplayed the incident, saying that he and Jim had worked it out. That had been over a week ago. What had happened since then? What had transpired to bring my son and Ellison to this very low point?

Damn, I just wish Blair would wake up and tell me.


Inspector Megan Connor entered the ICU ward with a heavy heart. She had been so certain they had lost sweet Sandy this morning, she was scared to hope that he had been restored to them. She was even having trouble concentrating on finding the bitch who had done this to him. Limbo can be such a heart-wrenching place when a life was hanging there.

Looking up, she spotted a lanky blond man staring into Sandy's room. Who was this? Was he connected to that Alex witch? Ellison was in no condition to handle an attack. The Australian exchange officer felt her protective hackles rise. The prickly American detective had been both rival and friend during her short time in the States. She had fought to save him that morning, and would continue to do so until she knew he and Sandy were safe.


"Excuse me, may I help you?"

Mac slowly turned from the window at the strongly stated question. The attractive redhead looked like she'd toss him out on his ear if he answered wrong. Pieces from his last couple conversations with Blair clicked into his numb mind. "You must be Inspector Connor."

"That's right. And you are....?"

"Name's MacGyver." He cast another anguished glance into the room. "I'm Blair's father."

"Oh my," Megan whispered. While this MacGyver really didn't look much like Sandy and barely looked old enough to be his father, the deep pain in his eyes could not be missed. "I'm sorry."

"I'm not giving up yet. Blair hasn't." Mac paused a moment, gathering his thoughts. "Would you mind telling me what happened? I don't want to bother Jim yet."

Megan sighed. "No, it is best not to bother him. Things haven't been well with Jim for the past few days. I fear this has 'taken the cake', as you say."

Mac followed the inspector to the waiting area chairs. He quietly listened to Megan's story, of arresting Alex and her weird behavior, then finding out later of Blair's strange interest in her. Of the high tech burglary case involving a lone perpetrator. How suddenly, this Alex became Ellison's main suspect and how she had nearly killed them with a bomb. Then most puzzling of all, Jim's strange behavior dating back to an arrest last week when he had been shot. Feeling almost like a tattletale, she told Sandy's father about Jim's 'tantrum' at the station, kicking Blair out without explanation, of finding Jim in an empty and freezing loft, staring out over the city and suddenly declaring there was trouble.

MacGyver shook his head. 'Complicated' didn't even begin to cover this. What was going on? How much was Blair hurt by this? Why hadn't Blair called? Where has he been sleeping the last couple nights? Didn't Blair realize I'd help him, either with money or just a friendly ear to talk to? Or was Blair, with his stubborn pride and independent childhood, still not comfortable with having someone to fall back on?

Finally, Megan sadly told of how she had fought Alex and, while thinking the woman was unconscious, had returned to rescue Jim. Only to discover later that she had escaped to kill Blair at the University. "I am truly sorry. If I had made certain that bitch was contained, Sandy would..." her voice cracked, not quite sure how to say it.

Gently laying a hand on Megan's, Mac reminded her, "And Jim would be dead. I wouldn't want that, and neither would my son. You had no way of knowing Blair was in danger."

Megan struggled against the tears. "Yet Jim knew she had gone after Blair. I keep wondering if all of Jim's strange behavior lately is tied in with his psychic abilities. That somehow he knew something bad was about to happen."

Mac blinked.

"Oh, dear," Megan replied meekly. "I'm sorry. I guess I'm not thinking. They probably didn't tell you about Jim's gift."

Thinking fast, Mac assured her, "No, I know about Jim's gifts. I hadn't realized they had told you." Psychic abilities? Which one of you thought that one up? Just how much truth might actually be in there?

"Actually, I had guessed, and Jim admitted that I was right. You see, I am familiar..."

Only half listening, Mac's mind raced ahead, making connections from Megan's story that she didn't realize were there, due to a vital gap in her knowledge. Suddenly, everything clicked. Oh hell, another sentinel? Alex's unusual accident, her skills, Blair's interest - they all point to it. Was that what Banks meant by 'complicated'? Did my often naive son even consider that another sentinel might be as likely to hurt the 'tribe' as to aid it? What about Jim's behavior? Did those sentinel instincts tell him there was a problem? Oh hell, I have GOT to talk with Ellison.

At that moment, Sam entered the ward, Captain Simon Banks right behind him.

"Dad! Is there any change?" Sam rushed towards his father, fear and worry rolling off his body.

"No, not yet," Mac softly answered, pulling him in for a tight embrace. Needing to feel that this son, at this moment, was alive and healthy. Wishing desperately that the other one was, too.

Megan stepped up to her American captain. "Sir?"

Simon gave a wistful sigh, understanding her question. "Sam Malloy, MacGyver's son and Blair's half brother. He just flew up from Mexico, where he's assigned as a photojournalist."

"They are Sandy's family, then?"

"Yes, though Mac only found out about Sandburg a few months ago. They have grown pretty close since then. Brown still hasn't had any luck finding his mother."

Megan paused, but wisely decided it would take forever to figure out Sandburg's family structure. Maybe she'd have the chance to ask questions later.

Sam reluctantly pulled back, looking into his brother's room. An instant of horror at the sight was quickly replaced with determination. Blair was going to make it. Sam refused to think otherwise. "How's Jim doing?" he asked, privately thinking Jim didn't look much better than his brother. It was like looking at the news magazine cover again.

Mac shook his head. "I don't know. I haven't spoken with him."

"No one has since they left the University," Simon explained. "He has pretty much tuned out everyone else but Sandburg. Even the hospital staff can't make him move."

*I'm not sure how I'd handle it if I lost him, too.* Jim's statement a few months ago, along with visions of his brother floating face down in a fountain, had been haunting Sam the entire plane ride. "What do we do now?" He exchanged looks with his father.

If Simon couldn't get through to Jim, maybe they could. He had guided Ellison before when Blair couldn't. Mac quickly thought a moment. Watching, Megan finally saw a resemblance to Sandburg in the expression. "Okay, here's what we'll do..."


MacGyver quietly slipped into his son's ICU room. The beeps of the monitors and the flashing of lights all cried out the seriousness of Blair's condition. He laid a hand on the mass of curls, staring into the precious face that was much too pale and cold. Gently, he rubbed his thumb along Blair's forehead by the hairline. "Come back to us, son," he whispered. "You are needed here. I need you. Your mother needs you. Sam needs you. Jim needs you. Please, come back."

He turned his attention to the one who needed Blair the most, whether he'd admit it or not. James Ellison had not acknowledged Mac's entrance, had not even moved. For a moment, Mac wasn't even sure Jim was breathing. Was this a zone? Could Mac pull him out? He lightly touched the detective's shoulder. "Jim?"

Jim suddenly jerked, glancing around the room, settling on Blair for a few moments, then catching sight of MacGyver. "Mac?" he questioned blearily. His attention recaptured by the sight of his fallen partner, Jim faintly commented, "You got here quick."

"Jim, it's nearly 6 p.m." Had Jim lost the intervening twelve hours?

"Oh." Running a hand over his face, Jim sighed, "I'm sorry, Mac. It's all my fault."

"It's okay." Mac patted the tense shoulder, hearing the overwhelming guilt and grief in the rough voice. "Let's grab something to eat and we can talk about it."

"No," Jim stated, slowly shaking his head, "I'm not going to leave Blair unprotected again."

Okay, let's try plan B. "Jim, he won't be alone. Sam's just outside the door. He wants to sit with Blair for a while."

"No," Jim repeated. "That woman is still out there. She might try again."

"Jim, Simon Banks is here, too. So is Inspector Connor. They will stay right outside, and make sure nothing happens." Silence. Okay, here's plan C. "Blair needs you to be strong, Jim. You need something to drink at least. We won't be gone long."

"But, he might..." Jim's voice cracked, unable to say it.

"No, he won't," Mac returned sternly, allowing no room for argument. His voice softened again, "Sam will let us know if there is any change."

"Okay." The agreement was so faint, Mac wasn't sure he had heard it at all. Then the normally powerful body slowly rose from the chair, the burden of pain and guilt weighing it down.

With one last look at his son, MacGyver led Ellison out of the room.


A few minutes later, MacGyver had Ellison seated in a private lounge, a cup of coffee in his hands. After Jim had stared at the floor for several minutes, Mac quietly asked, "You want to talk about it?"

Mask still in place, Jim quietly stated, "It's all my fault. I told him I couldn't trust him, that I wanted some space. I thought he'd be safer away from me. Instead, I wounded him, then left him out defenseless against her. It's my fault."

Well, that made a whole lot of sense. Guess we'd better start with the basics. "Why couldn't you trust him?"

"I don't know," Jim mumbled. "Seems pretty stupid, now."

"It must not have seemed stupid before. Does this have anything to do with the dissertation intro?"

Jim sighed and took a sip of coffee. "Yeah, I guess it started then." He quietly told Mac about Blair's intro, and how he had read it against Blair's expressed wishes. "It was about me. I thought I had the right to read it. I never expected it to say what it did." He paused, running a finger up and down the cup. "I never expected to become that angry."

Angry? "What made you angry?"

"Oh, Blair wrote up some BS about me being fear-driven. I wasn't too happy to see that."

I bet. That's the last thing a macho, ex-military policeman wants to read about himself. Hell, it is that last thing anyone wants to read about themselves.

"But the real kicker is that he had talked to Caroline about my 'fear of intimacy' without telling me."

"Caroline?"

"My ex."

Mac winced. Damn. Once that boy is back on his feet, we are going to have a long father-to-son chat about respecting other people's privacy. Mac refused to think that he might not have the chance.

Jim continued, his voice still filled with remembered pain. "I felt betrayed that he would actually talk to Caroline without asking me first. I was mad at him and mad at myself. I have never let anyone else get as close to me as Blair has. Hell, that was Caroline's main complaint against me." Jim took another sip of coffee. "So when Blair asked me what was wrong, I blew up. Then he blew up. It wasn't pretty." Jim paused, then sighed. "Later, I told him to go ahead with the intro. I knew I was wrong to have read it when he had told me not to. He had even been prepared to tear it up and probably lose out on his PhD, just for me. If he was willing to do that, surely I could put it behind me as well. I figured it was just a one time deal, a case of Blair's enthusiasm getting the better of him."

"Then what happened?"

Jim sighed again, then told Mac about seeing a spotted jaguar instead of his own black spirit guide. How he had been overwhelmed by feelings of hostility and suspicion, on edge, expecting danger from every corner. "It had been so, insidious, that I couldn't seem to stop and think it through. I'd find myself snapping at people for the tiniest annoyance, doing the strangest things. Probably half the department by now thinks I'm off the deep end."

Mac thought back to his conversation with Inspector Connor. "This all started around the time of Alex's arrival in Cascade?"

Jim nodded. He explained about the case, of what he had seen upon finding her in Blair's office, of how he had found out about Blair working with her and not telling him about it. "I felt betrayed again. In some very strange, deep way, it felt like Blair had been stepping out on me. Which is really stupid. Our friendship has never been about that. We're both into girls. I certainly don't own him. But I couldn't seem to think it through."

Because you thought he was YOUR guide, yet he was helping your enemy. "You were driven by instinct, so you were reacting, not thinking," Mac stated out loud. "Your senses were warning you that another sentinel who meant harm to the tribe had invaded your space, and your guide was with her. You and she were pitted against each other the moment she arrived, and Blair was dropped in between." Damn it, Blair. Didn't you see the danger? See the warning signs? Hadn't I told you that Jim was bonded to you, that you were the reason Jim's senses came back? Or did you only see another test subject who needed your help? Apparently, father-son lecture number two needs to be on making and keeping committments...

"And Blair lost," Jim stated bitterly. "It's all my fault."

There's that statement again. "How is it your fault?"

Haunted eyes mournfully stared into his own. "I was warned in a dream."

Mac was startled. Was Megan right? "What dream?"

Jim softly explained about searching for danger in the jungle and shooting a wolf. "It was so weird. I like dogs. I'd never hurt a wolf. Then, the wolf morphed into Blair. There he was, naked and vulnerable and hurt, maybe even dead, and it was my fault."

Another piece clicked into place. "That's why you kicked him out of the loft. Why you continued to shove him away. You were afraid you would kill him."

Jim nodded, a single tear trailing down his cheek. "Instead, I wounded his spirit. I yelled at him, kicked him out of my home, called him stupid, told him I couldn't trust him. Then I left him out in the open, naked and alone, easy prey for that bitch. If I'd kept him with me, maybe he'd be okay now."

Mac gave him a stern look. "Or else she'd have killed him in the warehouse. And since when is Blair easy prey? You all had a part to play. Defending sentinel, invading sentinel, and guide. Just that history has lost the rule book and Blair hasn't finished rewriting it yet."

Jim wiped away the tear, fighting to regain his composure. "That is what I don't understand. How could she kill a guide? She's a sentinel, for Christ's sake. Doesn't she realize how precious a guide is?"

"Because Blair isn't HER guide," Mac pointed out. "She has lied and stolen and killed. She has in her possession a menace that can kill millions of people. Even if Blair hadn't already found you, he would never go along with that. He could never be her guide like he is yours. Yet he knew her secret and thus she had to destroy him." Mac felt a flash of anger. Blair would have helped her if he could and probably did. He didn't deserve to die.

If Mac's anger was a flame, Jim's was an inferno. "I am going to get that bitch," the sentinel softly vowed.

His own anger temporarily forgotten, Mac shivered at the ice in the determined blue eyes. "Jim..."

"No, Mac," Jim interrupted him. His eyes took on a feral gleam. "She invaded my territory, hurt my people, and attacked my guide. She is mine."

"Don't you have a few things to do first?" Meeting Jim's blank stare, Mac continued. "You have some fence-mending to do with your guide."

Shame and guilt raced across Jim's face. "If I can."

"Yes, you can," Mac scolded him. "Blair hasn't given up yet, so neither should we. He has some thinking to do as well. True, you should have never read his intro, kept the dream from him, or kicked him out. On the other hand, Blair should have never talked to Caroline without your permission. He should have told you about the other sentinel, especially considering how you were acting. Even Connors realized something was wrong, and she barely knows you. Most of all, he should been more cautious with this other sentinel. Blair needs to learn how to be a guide even more than you need to learn how to be a sentinel."

Jim ran his finger along the side of his cup, still looking guilty.

"Ellison," Mac stated firmly. "You have one advantage against this sentinel. You have a guide. Don't blow it now."

Jim continued to stare at his coffee, considering Mac's words. If Blair lived, would he still want to be his guide? If Blair didn't live, would anything even matter anymore?


"...Then this round, short woman comes into the bar. She grabbed the huge guy by the ear, and started to scold him! Man, I couldn't catch everything she said, but she really bawled him out for picking on gringos and being late to dinner. I'm not sure if she was his mother or wife, but *I* sure wouldn't want to cross her! Once she'd pulled him out, we left as fast as we could!"

Sam paused, gently rubbing his brother's limp hand. "You know, Indy, it would really help if you were awake and could laugh at my stories. You really have Dad and I worried. I'm just getting use to having a big brother. I don't want to lose you now." He glanced out the window. "Captain Banks and Inspector Connor are just outside. You're right, she is something else. You have them worried, too. And we're all worried about Jim. He's hurting, bro. He's trying to cover it up, but you can see it in his eyes. He hadn't budged from your bedside until Dad talked him into getting something to drink a few minutes ago. I'm afraid for him. If you don't open those big eyes of yours and tell him you're all right, he's going to fall to pieces."

"hmmm."

Sam's eyes suddenly widened. "Blair?" He straightened, peering into his brother's face. "Come on, Indy, let me know if you can hear me."

At the light squeeze on his hand, Sam hit the nurse's button.


Within minutes, Jim and Mac had joined Sam, Simon and Megan in front of Blair's room as the doctor checked him out. Rafe and Brown had also arrived, joining the anxious party.

"Mr. MacGyver?" the doctor called as he stepped outside.

"Yes?" Mac could feel the squeeze in his gut. Was Blair going to be all right?

"Someone must have heard your prayers. Your son will be fine, barring complications." Everyone breathed sighs of relief. "One person can go in for a few minutes, then he needs his rest. Would you like to go in, Mr. MacGyver?"

"Yeah," Mac replied, "but I suspect he needs to see Ellison more."

"Mac...," Jim began.

"He may not know if you survived your encounter with Alex, Jim. Go on." The two men exchanged looks. Then Jim walked into the room to see his guide.

Placing his hand over Blair's forehead, Jim felt the icy fear inside melt as the familiar blue eyes opened. "Welcome back, Chief."

Blair gave him a groggy frown. "You okay?" he croaked, then coughed.

"I'm fine, or I will be once we have a chance to talk. But it can wait."

The frown smoothed away as the guide drifted back into a healing sleep, comforted by the knowledge that his sentinel was back keeping watch.

The End


Author's note, 5/31/98: I currently don't plan to continue this. I'd rather Danny and Paul have a chance to finish this themselves. I have great faith that they aren't planning to make Blair's demise permanent (I didn't get that impression at all from theirs or GM's responses at the Con), so UPN better give them the chance.

Anyone interested in reading about Zadra's and mine adventures at the Con in Vancouver are welcome to check Zadra's site at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Lot/5076/ for our report.

Cindy


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