Author Notes: Takes place after 'Night Shift' but before 'Sentinel Too Part 1'. Nothing to do with the episode 'Crossroads', I'm just using this for inspiration.
It had been a while since he'd meditated. His life had been so hectic, what with the pressure from Jim to be there at the PD and his committee pushing for the first chapter of his dissertation. He'd been so angry with Jim for reading that first, unfinished chapter, and it was still simmering below the surface, despite Jim's half-hearted apology. He needed to process and this was the only way he knew how.
With the curtains drawn over the French doors, the unscented candles lit, Blair sat in the middle of his bed in the lotus position. Jim wasn't due home for hours and he hoped to be calm and centred once more by the time he was.
"Whoa, this is different!" Blair didn't know how long he'd been meditating but he didn't usually find himself in the middle of nowhere standing at a crossroads with three choices of dusty track in front of him.
He felt a presence beside him and he looked down to find a wolf sitting patiently at his feet.
The wolf's response was to lie down and put its nose on its paws.
"Hmph, fat lot of good you are." Blair looked left and right but the roads just faded into the distant horizon.
"Okay, there's a reason I'm here." He felt better verbalizing out loud. "This is probably some sort of metaphysical representation of my life at the moment. Straight on, possibly, is my immediate future, the others could be different directions my life could take depending on the decisions I make." He looked down. "How am I doing so far?"
The wolf just huffed into his paws but didn't give any other indication that he'd heard.
"Okay, let's try straight on first."
He hadn't been walking long before the visions started. Scenes flashed before him; a blonde woman - a sentinel. There was the fountain at Rainier, and him drowning with Jim bringing him back.
The scenes flashed faster and faster until the unplanned release of his dissertation by Naomi; the fall out; Simon, Megan being shot, a press conference given by himself admitting to fraud to get the press off their backs and Jim being shot while taking down Zeller.
It was when Jim threw him the badge that he found himself back at the crossroads, sweating and hyperventilating.
"Oh man, is that what's going to happen?"
The wolf didn't give any indication it had heard him; it looked asleep.
"I think I'll sit here a while." Blair slid gracefully into the lotus position and sat until his racing heart had slowed and his breathing was back to normal.
"Okay, let's go left this time." He rose to his feet and started down the track off to the left.
This time the visions were of Jim telling Blair to go for the brass ring and Blair being swayed by the money and fame he was being offered.
The money rolled in, tours were arranged and taken and the media circus was overwhelming.
"Where's Jim?" Blair wondered.
As if in response to his question, the visions segued to a military base with Jim surrounded by doctors and technicians in white coats. His pain ignored as he was submitted to more and more tests, his zone outs encouraged and nothing done for a long time to bring him out of them, and only then being brought out of them with pain.
The final vision was of Jim on a gurney, an autopsy about to be performed.
"NO!" Blair screamed as the scalpel was about to be inserted and he found himself back at the crossroads.
Tears streaming down his face, he sank to the ground, shaking his head in denial.
The wolf raised his head and nuzzled Blair's hand in comfort, doing nothing else until Blair was calm again.
It seemed hours before Blair finally roused himself to take the road to the right.
The visions on this path were calmer. They showed Blair meeting Alex Barnes but informing Jim from the outset that he suspected her of being a sentinel. Jim, also, was more forthcoming about what was happening to him, the visions of the spotted jaguar and the feeling that Blair was in danger from him.
They were able to work it through and the results were an almost impregnable bond being forged between sentinel and guide. They were able to arrest Alex Barnes in the act of stealing the nerve gas held at Rainier when she was incapacitated due to a sensory spike.
Jim could not, however, prevent her from escaping as she was transferred to a women's detention centre, nor could he stop her from going after Blair who she felt could have helped her with her senses but wouldn't.
Jim brought him back, and she was apprehended at the airport trying to get to Sierra Verde. She created a huge scene, screaming that she had to get there; it was her destiny.
Jim and Blair took a leave of absence, once Blair had recovered from his drowning, from the PD and Rainier and travelled to Sierra Verde, where Jim led them to the temple of the sentinels.
It was there that Blair realised what it was all about, that he and Jim were two halves of a whole. He finally got what being a guide and shaman was all about, and he knew that if he abandoned his dissertation the rewards would be more than he ever imagined. There would be no monetary rewards, just the enrichment of spirit.
Blair woke to find himself back at the crossroads, a sense of peace pervading his entire being. The wolf was still there, but no longer lying down. It was standing in front of him, alert and poised as if ready to run.
"I guess this is it, then." He looked down. "What now?"
The wolf morphed into him, dressed as a Chopec Shaman.
"The choice is yours to make."
"That's it? That's all you're going to say?"
"The choice is yours to make. Choose wisely."
He morphed back into the wolf and leapt towards Blair.
Gasping for breath, Blair woke to find himself back in his room, the candles burnt down and guttering in their holders. He checked his clock and found he'd been meditating for four hours.
He groaned as he unfolded himself and stretched before standing to snuff the candles out.
He was heading for the bathroom when he heard the key in the door and diverted to the kitchen.
"Hey Jim. Beer?"
"Sure." Jim sniffed. "Been meditating?"
"Yeah, and I'm now calm and centred. Ready to handle anything Rainier throws at me." Blair handed him a beer then resumed his trip to the bathroom.
"You cooking tonight?" He asked Jim when he came out.
"How about you call for take-out? My treat."
"Thai? Haven't had that for a while." Blair picked up the phone. "Why don't you have a shower while I order?"
Long after Jim had gone up to bed, Blair worked in his room. He gathered all of his sentinel notes together and locked them away, and then password protected his dissertation. He made a note to retrieve all of his tapes from his office and then surfed the internet to find out all he could about positions in law enforcement that would allow him to use his skills and knowledge.
He had a couple of options in mind when he heard Jim stirring above. He checked the clock and found it was six thirty.
"Chief? Did you sleep at all last night?" Jim knocked and leaned against the doorjamb, scrubbing his hands over his face.
"Nope. I'm on a roll." Blair motioned to all the papers and notes spread around him.
"Have you got any classes today?"
"No, I'm holding open office from ten so I can be with you for lunch today?"
"Fine. You want coffee?"
Blair collapsed into his office chair at just before ten. He'd come in just after eight and had been working on his argument to the committee. He'd spent a lot of time the previous night putting together the first chapter of an alternative dissertation, and he had the first chapter ready, with the rest in outline form.
He'd been able to see the committee at nine and he'd just come from there. They'd given him a hard time, but he was able to persuade them to give him another chance. He had three weeks to present and then defend and he was confident he could do it.
It also meant that he couldn't split his time anymore. He would have to tell Jim that for the next month he wouldn't be able to help him.
He was just about to grab his things when the phone rang.
"Chief? I'm at Cascade General."
"What is it? Are you okay?"
"An arm wound. Can you pick me up?"
"Sure. Be there in fifteen minutes."
Jim insisted on heading to the precinct to finish up a report but agreed that once it was finished they'd head home.
Jim was typing with one hand when Blair noticed the blonde from his visions sitting near Megan's desk. He did nothing while she was being cautioned, he just watched as she finally was able to leave.
"Jim!" He hissed, trying to not draw everyone's attention.
"What?" Jim looked up, scowling.
"Find out who the woman is that Megan was just booking."
"Chief, how many times have I told you not to…"
"Jim!" Blair interrupted. "I heard them talking. I think she's another sentinel."
"Let me finish that report while you go find out." Blair got up and shooed Jim away from his desk.
"Chief? Are you sure?"
"Get the information and we'll discuss this at home where we have more privacy."
Blair handed Jim a beer and sat down next to him with his own.
"Okay, tell me how you got shot?"
"What's that got to do with another sentinel in Cascade?"
"Okay, fine." Jim took a gulp of beer. "I thought I heard and saw another jaguar. I got distracted."
"So, not yours?"
"No. I've been feeling…off…the last few days. I've been having dreams as well. Look, I don't really want to talk about this, Chief."
"What are they about?"
"Leave it, Chief." Jim got up and opened the doors to the balcony, stepping outside.
"They're about me dying aren't they?" Blair followed him.
"Come and sit down. There's something I need to tell you."
Jim sat, stunned, as Blair finally finished what he had to say.
"Chief? The doctorate was your dream."
"And it's still my dream. But Jim, dreams change. I'll still have my doctorate; my dissertation will just be on a different subject."
"What about all of your research? The tests?"
"I've got the rest of my research in my bag, couldn't leave it lying about at Rainier." Blair grinned. "I can always perform more tests if you're willing though; just for fun?"
"Aw, Chief." Jim wrapped his arm round Blair's neck and pulled him in for a hug. "You're sure about this?"
"Positive. This is the right path for me now."
Jim pulled back to look down into Blair's face to check that his partner was really okay with this. All he could see in the clear blue eyes, though, was certainty and something that looked suspiciously like…love?
"Chief?" Jim bent closer, wondering if he was reading him right.
"You going to stop me?" His lips came to a stop a hairsbreadth from Blair's.
"Now why would I do a stupid thing like that?" Blair closed the distance between them and Jim was finally able to add taste to his catalogue of known Blair quantities.
One of the last things Blair thought before his brain turned to mush was that if was his reward, then the sacrifice was worth it.
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