Title: Guiding Light

Author/pseudonym: Wolfling

Email address: wolfling@email.msn.com

Rating: PG

Pairings: J/B

Category: Missing Scene

Status: NEW, complete

Date: February 7, 1999

Archive: Yes

Archive author: Wolfling

Archive email address: wolfling@email.msn.com

Other website: http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Studio/3603/wolfling.html

Series/Sequel: sequel to Light at the End of the Tunnel

Disclaimers: The boys aren't mine, they still belong to PetFly and I'm using them without permission. No money made, written only for enjoyment, yadda, yadda, yadda...

Notes: Well apparently one missing scene for Sentinel, Too part 2 wasn't enough for me <g>>. Like Light at the End of the Tunnel, this is just a missing scene, not a "fix" as I'm one of those who like the ep as it was aired. And now maybe the boys will let me get back to the sequel to Destiny's Bond! As always, feedback of all types is gratefully accepted. :-)

Summary: Jim and Blair talk.

Warnings: spoilers for Sentinel, Too, part 2

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One of these days I may figure out the puzzle that is Jim Ellison, and finally come up with the answer that is the key to understanding him.

But somehow I doubt it.

You wouldn't think at first glance that it would be that difficult -- Jim comes off as a pretty straight forward guy, maybe a little anal, a little repressed, but pretty much what you see is what you get, right?

Wrong. Strip away the outer layers and you find complexities on top of complexities. It's like opening a package and finding the contents are ten times as big as the container. I have literally been studying Jim for three years now and arguably know him better than anyone and he still manages to say or do things that take me by surprise on a regular basis.

You'd think dying and coming back might change that, give me some previously untapped insight or something but it didn't. If anything, during the events immediately following Jim became even more of a mystery to me.

It didn't help that he was almost as much of a mystery to himself. He was having visions, feelings, instincts that he didn't understand and couldn't control. And man, if there's one thing Jim Ellison hates, it's not being in control.

Still he didn't freak out nearly as badly as I would've predicted. In fact some of it he seemed to be take right in stride.

Like the visions. They didn't seem to bother him at all. He just seemed to accept them as yet another weird sentinel thing and went with it. I don't know if that's because they were providing us with our only clues for a while there or if it was because one of the visions -- the one that I'd shared -- was what let Jim bring me back after I'd drowned. Or it may simply have been that he was too busy trying to deal with the other surprises his sentinel heritage dumped on him.

Jim's inexplicable and involuntary attraction to Alex --that had definitely been more of the freak out variety. Not just for Jim, but for me too.

When I followed Jim to the beach and saw him in a passionate clinch with Alex freaking out seemed like a logical reaction. Here was Jim, my best friend, locking lips with the woman who had killed me. Stunned does not even begin to describe how I felt. Bewildered, hurt, angry, they were closer to the mark. I kept wondering when I had stepped into a parallel universe.

But then I got a good look at Jim's expression. It was totally blank, with maybe just a hint of confusion as he registered my presence. And I flashed on another time I'd walked in on Jim in a similar situation when he'd be wearing that exact same expression. He hadn't exactly been in control then either; his sentinel senses had been overwhelmed by the woman's pheromones.

Okay, so this was a sentinel thing and not a Jim losing his mind thing. As soon as I had figured that out I stopped feeling hurt and instead started trying to figure out what it was and how to fix it. That's my job after all -- to help Jim with his senses and any other sentinel weirdness that comes up.

This particular sentinel weirdness wasn't able to keep Jim from stopping Alex from shooting me (I guess she was of the opinion if at first you don't succeed, try, try again!) but it did keep him from stopping her from taking off. The look on his face when he dropped his gun was so dazed and confused that any remaining hurt I may have had vanished. This was not a man who was in conscious control of his actions. And it was obviously scaring him.

For once I didn't have to browbeat him into telling me what was going on with him. He turned to me for explanations and solutions, trusting me to be able to make his world make sense again. Explanations I was able to give him, or at least my best guess, but solutions?

Sometimes "I don't know" are the hardest three words to have to tell a person.

But somehow we dealt. Don't we always? Though I have to admit I could've done without Jim making us targets for Arguillo's men by yelling a warning to Alex at the exchange. Playing target is *not* my chosen career path.

Neither is being held hostage by powerful -- and generally pissed -- crime lords but, since teaming up with Jim, I've garnered more than my share of experience with both. So it didn't really surprise me much when it happened again. Exasperated me yes, surprise me no.

By that time Jim had taken off on his own -- which also hadn't surprised me as much as maybe it should've. The way this whole thing had been playing out I knew somehow that Jim was going to have to go it alone eventually. There was more going on here than just us tracking a rogue sentinel with a couple of canisters of nerve gas in her possession. There was also some sort of sentinel imperative, some kind of quest or journey that was drawing Alex and Jim right along with her. And in tribal cultures those kinds of journeys usually had to be taken alone.

Didn't stop me for being annoyed when I woke up and found him gone but... I understood.

Besides I soon had problems of my own. First Megan figured out about Jim and Alex being sentinels and then, as I mentioned already, we were taken hostage by a pissed off crime lord -- Arguillo who was still searching for Alex and the nerve gas.

But at least that had us all heading in the same direction.

And, I figured when we caught up to him, Jim would just kick these guys' butts anyway. After all, he wasn't under any compunction to protect *them*.

That was pretty much how it went down. We caught up to them at this ancient temple (the Temple of Light from all those sentinel legends I studied! If I hadn't been slightly preoccupied I would've been ecstatic at the find) and Jim, fresh from some kind of Sentinel vision quest took the bad guys out one by one. I don't even think he broke a sweat. Though I admit it would've been hard to tell since he was dripping water at the time.

That left only Alex to deal with. Alex who still had two canisters of nerve gas. Alex, who had o.d'ed on the whole sentinel vision quest thing and seemed to have parted company with what sanity she did have. Insane sentinel with deadly nerve gas is not a good combination.

I don't think I've ever been prouder of Jim as I was as listening to him trying to reason with her, trying to make her see what a sentinel could be, should be. Most of his words were things I'd told him in the past, many of which he'd initially resisted or downright disbelieved. But somewhere along the line he had accepted every one of them so completely that he was trying to pass them on.

Man, I can't tell you what a rush it was to hear Jim say those things. It was proof that my words had made a difference to him, that *I* had made a difference. I guess I already knew that but knowing and *knowing* are two different things if you get my meaning.

But Jim's words were destined to fall on deaf ears. Fate or karma or the spirits that watch over sentinels had already passed judgement on Alex. Her attempt at getting more power, more knowledge, had burnt out her senses. Apparently there was only one vision quest per sentinel.

I have to admit I'm of two minds about what happened to Alex. I'm saddened that we couldn't help her. She had this incredible gift that very few people ever get to experience but she didn't know how to use it properly. She had the senses, yes, but she didn't have the heart of a real sentinel. I still wonder what could've happened to her in her past to make her the way she was and if there was anything that could have been done to prevent it.

Still, at the same time, part of me takes satisfaction in her losing her senses and her sanity, most likely for good. She did kill me after all (why do I always get the urge to yell "But I got better" when I say that?) and while I'm not a vindictive person I admit to enjoying on some level having a little payback. Does that make me a bad person? Maybe. I prefer though to think it just makes me human.

Jim wasn't through surprising me yet though. The biggest surprise didn't happen until we got back to Cascade.

It felt strange being home, both of us safe and sound, with this whole Alex thing finally behind us. Strange but good. It had been a very rough month and I would prefer not to go through something quite so painful again but we had come through it with our lives and relationship intact and maybe even have gained something in the bargain. I know I had. Without my dying and the vision I had had -- the one I had shared with Jim -- there's no telling how long it would've taken for me to realize how I felt about him.

How we both felt. Even if he hadn't realized it yet.

Jim, too, seemed to have gained something from his vision quest. He seemed more at ease in his own skin, more comfortable with what he was and what he did.

He hadn't spoken much on the trip home -- not that I had expected him to; even at the best of times Jim is not a talker. Which is fine because I usually have enough to say for both of us. Maybe I just noticed it more this trip because I wasn't talking much either.

Not that there was anything sinister about that; I just was too busy contemplating everything that had happened, what it meant and how it changed me and....

I did mention I overanalyzed didn't I?

Anyway, Jim hadn't said much but it hadn't bothered me; I figured he was probably doing a bit of self-reflection on events himself. I mean who wouldn't after what we'd been through?

That changed when we got home to the loft. Jim not talking I mean. Not the second we walked in the door or anything but pretty soon after, maybe an hour or so. Enough time passed for me to unpack my bag and grab a beer at any rate.

It started when Jim came down the stairs from unpacking his stuff, grabbed a beer of his own and... watched me. I was sitting on the couch with my head tilted back just luxuriating in the feeling of being home. My eyes were closed but I knew what Jim was doing. I could feel his gaze on me almost like a physical touch. You've never really been looked at until you've been looked at by a sentinel.

I opened my eyes and stared up at him. The expression on his face... I don't know. It seemed one part affection, two parts apprehension, three parts determination and... something else. I frowned. That couldn't be what I thought it was could it?

"Something I can do for you Jim?" I asked, letting my puzzlement make its way into my voice.

He started slightly, like he had been so caught up in just watching me that he hadn't expected me to speak. "Uhm yeah Chief," he finally said. I watched him take a deep breath as if to steal himself for some ordeal. "We need to talk."

Okay, now I was a little concerned. "What's wrong?" The direct approach has always worked the best with Jim.

Of course usually I had to employ it several times in a row before I got an answer but it still worked better than being subtle.

"Nothing's wrong." He walked over to the couch and sat down beside me. "I just want to talk okay?"

"Okay," I said, trying to remember the last time Jim "just wanted to talk." I was coming up blank.

I waited for Jim to start speaking but he just sat there looking at me. The moment dragged on and I began to feel the need to squirm. Fighting the urge to fidget I asked, "Uh Jim?"

"Yeah?"

He was still looking at me. Now I did fidget. "Talk?"

"Right." His intense gaze finally shifted away from my face briefly, glancing downwards before meeting my eyes again. "I need to tell you what I saw when I was in that pool."

If Jim's asking to talk surprised me, this surprised me even more. Sharing self-revelations is *so* not in character for him. Besides which... "I thought you couldn't remember what you saw, that it had all faded away."

"Most of it has. But I still remember some of it. The most important bits."

"And you want to tell me about them? Cool."

That earned me a brief flash of smile, as I knew it would, and seemed to ease a little of the tension that was practically radiating off the man. I grinned back and asked, "So what were the important bits?"

"You."

I blinked. "Me?" The most important parts of Jim's vision quest had been about me?

Now that was cool.

Jim nodded. "You." He reached out and brushed a strand of hair off of my face with a funny little half smile. "That surprises you?"

Did it? I gave it some thought. "Not really," I finally decided. "You've gotten used to me trying to come up with answers about the sentinel thing so it follows your mind would use me when it was trying to make sense of something sentinel related. Add that to Incacha passing on the way of the shaman to me and you were predisposed to..." I trailed off as I noticed Jim smiling at me fondly. "What?"

"I love you," he said simply.

Whoa. Did he just-? I saw the overwhelming affection in his expression, along with a hint of apprehension as he waited for my response. Yep, he did. Oh man. I had known that he loved me but I hadn't expected *him* to realize it so soon. Or to just come right out and say it.

Jim was watching me closely, still waiting for my reaction. Figuring I should say *something* I opened my mouth, trusting Jim would understand if I didn't make much sense. He's had to get used to my babbling. Besides, he loved me. He just said so.

"Uhm, wow." Okay. That wasn't too bad.

Even if I was down to a one-word description.

Jim smiled. "That probably was the last thing you expected me to say, huh?"

"Well," I hedged, "maybe not the *last* thing but I have been wondering if you were ever going to admit to it."

"You mean you knew?"

I smiled. "Yeah I did. Not for very long though. Just since I had that vision with the black jaguar and the wolf. I figured it out the same time I realized I was in love with you." I managed to toss that out casually and watched, delighted as Jim's eyes lit up in response.

"You could've said something."

"No I couldn't," I countered automatically. "You weren't ready. If you had been I wouldn't have had to tell you. You would've known, same way I did."

Jim considered that for a moment, his hand sneaking out and toying absently with my hair again. "You're right," he finally admitted. "If you had told me I would've..." he trailed off with a shake of his head, leaving me to wonder what he'd been about to say. "The knowledge had to come from inside."

He fell silent then, as if he'd fallen into a memory triggered by his own words. As the silence lengthened I began to think that might Not Be A Good Thing and nudged him. "So you figured it out when you were in the pool, huh? What did you see -- a giant neon sign that said 'You love Blair Sandburg'?"

That earned me a pointed look. "Hey man, no offense," I said, holding up my hands. "I'm just curious. If you don't want to talk about it..."

Jim reached out and twined the fingers of his left hand with my right, pulling it into his lap. "I want to," he said softly.

Every nerve ending seemed to focus on where his hand touched mine which was faintly ridiculous considering this was hardly the first time he had touched me. But it was the first time since he told me he loved me, I reminded myself and decided to just sit back and go with the sensation.

"The visions at first were horrible," Jim was saying, looking down at our clasped hands. "All these images of violence and death... I thought I was going to lose my mind. I called to Incacha and he told me I had to face the dark, and to look for the light within me." He looked up and met my eyes. "The light is you, Chief. Blair. That's when I knew."

I felt an incredible warmth at Jim's words and if I had ever had any doubts about what lay between us they were dispelled in that moment. "I'm your light, huh?" I said, noticing that my voice had gotten huskier than normal. Man, that was one powerful vision Jim had had; it was certainly knocking me for a loop and I was only experiencing it second-hand!

The way Jim was looking at me had nothing to do with it.

He nodded. "That's why I didn't lose myself like Alex did," he confessed. "I had you to illuminate my path."

Oh, man. What had I been saying about Jim not being good with words? I opened my mouth to reply but couldn't think of anything to say that came close to expressing how I was feeling.

"Blair Sandburg speechless," Jim teased with a smile. "Never thought I'd see the day."

"Maybe I'm just thinking of something better to do with my mouth than talking," I challenged, leaning towards him.

I loved the way his eyes zeroed in on my mouth at that. "Like what?" he asked, his voice suddenly as husky as mine.

"Like this." With that I closed the remaining distance between us, pressing my lips to his for the first time.

Well the first time when I'm breathing anyhow.

Jim is an amazing kisser and I quickly lost whatever train of thought had been going through my head. I was drowning again but this time I didn't care because I was drowning in Jim. Man, if I had known it was going to be this good I would've jumped him ages ago!

When we finally broke apart we just sat there staring at each other. Jim looked just as stunned and aroused as I felt and it took me a few minutes to start thinking in words again.

My brain kicked back into gear and I ventured, "Maybe we should move this upstairs."

Jim blinked then smiled. He stood, pulling me up with him and into his arms for a brief hug before we headed for the stairs and his bedroom.

Once we got there... well, remember what I said about you haven't been looked at until a sentinel looks at you?

It goes double for touch.

And I thought his kisses were amazing!

So if anybody asks me if all the hurt and misunderstandings and shit we went through was worth it I have to tell them yes. Because it showed both of us where we belong.

Together.

Would we have figured it out regardless? Probably. But I don't know for sure. Because before everything hit the fan we never saw what was right in front of us.

Sometimes it's takes being in darkness for you to be able to find your light.

END