Notes: Not my usual style, but if anyone wants to take it up where it finishes, feel free.
"I didn't think you were going to do this anymore."
"I just..need to know."
"You said that last time."
"I know." Jim didn't take his eyes off the small group gathered under a tree.
"You miss him."
"Better that than the alternative."
"It wasn't your fault."
"He might have remembered."
"If he'd stayed in Cascade, maybe."
"So you go through this ritual every three months."
"Has it been that long?"
"Seems longer." Jim shrugged and glanced across at the tall redhead next to him.
"We all miss him, Jim."
"I know." Blue eyes taking on a far away cast, Jim Ellison remembered to the exact minute his world fell apart. Two years, four months and three days, some psycho with a gun had shot three students and almost killed Sandburg as he'd shielded Jim who'd come to take him to lunch. It had been a random act of violence; nothing to do with a current case or the PD. Completely senseless, and Blair had taken the brunt of it. One bullet to the shoulder, the other creasing his skull and passing through to Jim's arm.
Four hours in surgery and a week in intensive care had resulted in a loss of memory that had completely wiped Jim from his mind. It had been heartbreaking to see no recognition in the deep blue eyes, but Jim had assumed that eventually he'd get his memories back. Blair had thought that Jim was the investigating officer and the doctors had warned Jim not to force anything. His own guilt had prevented him from doing just that, and he'd made the decision to return Blair to academia. Nearly four years of riding the roller coaster had taken its toll, and it was time to go back to the roundabout.
A careful tissue of half-truths and the willingness of Naomi had seen her gather her son and move him to California, teaching high school students in a small town of twenty thousand. He hadn't complained, or seem overly worried about where the missing years had gone, and Jim had been extremely thorough in extracting all his sentinel research from Blair's office; carefully leaving behind some of the notes on the PD as tribal protectors giving some truth as to why he'd had a constant stream of visitors from the various departments. It had been the hardest thing Jim had ever done to see him board the plane with his duffel, the story about his lost possessions being blown up with the warehouse being the only really true thing Jim had told them to tell him. And Blair had accepted it because he'd always travelled light. Simon and Megan had argued long and hard with Jim over it, but he'd stood his ground. He had control of his senses and it was time to let Blair go before he ended up dead again, and all because of his association with Jim.
A soft touch on his arm brought him back and he focused on the woman beside him.
"Sorry, just thinking, that's all."
"Do you want to go and say hello?" Megan asked gently.
"No. I'd better not." His body was tight from wanting to do just that, but he knew it would be harder to leave if he did.
"We'd better go."
"I know." Jim sighed and then drew in a deep breath, filtering out the smell of warm grass and fresh leaves, the scent of Megan's perfume and drew in the waft of Blair from across the green expanse. He was sitting in the achingly familiar half-lotus position in front of a small group of teenagers, hands waving to emphasise his point and Jim extended his hearing to listen to him lecture. The tightness eased from his chest and he relaxed slowly, letting Blair unknowingly weave his magic for the older man, and Jim swallowed hard. This would be enough to last him for a while before he was driven to seek out his guide again.
He turned away and they made their way back to the rental, Megan keeping her hand tucked in the crook of Jim's elbow. She didn't comment on Jim's need to do this, or about the way he'd kept Blair's things still at the loft. She'd been allowed to read all of Sandy's notes and his half-finished dissertation because Jim wasn't stupid enough to go out in the field alone, and it made sense for Simon to pair them up now she was settled there permanently.
She and Simon were regular visitors to the loft and she supposed they helped Jim by not talking about Sandy as if he were dead. She still clung to the hope that one day he'd remember and come back, pissed off that Jim had made the decision for him, and yes, she hoped he'd kick Jim's arse from here to kingdom come. Many a time she and the Captain had discussed over dinner the possibility of going to Blair and telling him everything; that it would miraculously make everything right and bring him home, but the doctors had left them little hope of that happening. All it would serve would be to confuse Blair and for Jim to lose this small part of him. She didn't begrudge Jim his pilgrimage, but wondered if it was good for him in the long run. She hated to see the longing in his face when he did this, and never did she think the expression 'so near, yet so far' was more appropriate in this instance.
She got behind the wheel of the car and waited for Jim to take one last look before slowly driving away.
Blair rose gracefully from his position on the ground, dismissing his students with a shooing motion and then bending to gather his battered backpack. A faint dizziness assailed him and he unconsciously ran a hand through his short hair, a finger grazing lightly over the scar at his temple. Standing perfectly still, he let the afternoon sun warm him from a sudden chill and he shuddered, wondering why a pair of haunted blue eyes came to mind.
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