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Places to Be
Jim Ellison eased himself onto the couch and leaned his head back as he rubbed his hands through his hair. The past several days had been hard; he was glad everything was finally over and done with. It had been shocking, to say the least, to see Incacha and the other Chopec Indians again. Then to suddenly lose his former shaman and mentor so violently was an unexpected crushing blow. At least now the real criminals were safely behind bars. He'd done his part; the rest was up to the D. A.'s office.
His hands fell into his lap. Once everything had died down, he had made the arrangements to have Incacha's body, along the surviving warriors, sent back home to their village in Peru. His friend deserved nothing less than a full Chopec burial, complete with all the rituals befitting his status as the tribe's shaman.
Now came the really hard partdealing with everything that had happened. But before he died, Incacha had passed the way of the shaman onto Sandburg. That, as much as anything else, eased the sentinel's mind, knowing that his guide would help him get through this current emotional ordeal. Just as Blair had already done for him several times since they first met.
A few minutes later the object of his thoughts came through the French doors of his room. That was expected. What was unexpected was the backpack and loaded carryall he was carrying. Jim suddenly felt very uneasy at the sight of the packed travel bag.
"What's with the bag, Chief?"
Blair walked to the front door, putting down both the carryall and the backpack, as he reached for his jacket. He turned around, coat in hand. "Jim. I told you yesterday that I'm going away for a few days. Somewhere up in the mountains. I know Simon gave you a week off, so I took a week off from school. I need some time alone to think, and to work through some personal stuff. I should be back before the week's up."
Jim blinked in surprise. The uneasy feeling grew to near panic levels. He'd been counting on Blair being here, helping him, not out in some unreachable wilderness. "You're leaving? NOW? After everything that's just happened?"
Blair was confused then annoyed. Apparently Jim hadn't been listening to him. Again. Besides desperately needing this for himself, he had thought that Jim would want a little peace and quiet right now, too. "Actually, it's because of what's happened that I need to do this. I have a lot to process and I need be somewhere quiet and peaceful for a few days. I thought you'd want some quiet, down time, too."
Looking around the smaller man to the bags by the door, Jim couldn't keep the scowl off his face. "Oh yeah. I can see how concerned you are about what I might need or want right now. I just lost a good friend, one I hadn't seen in years, and now you plan to take off for a few days to..." he held up his curled fingers to show a quote "...'process'. Fine. Go. Do what you want. You always do anyway."
Blair stared at his partner, shocked by his outburst. Then his own ire began to grow again. "Yes, Jim, you did lose a good friend. And I stuck with you like glue every minute afterwards. Who kept you from taking the heads off the Forensics team right after Incacha died? Who helped get your senses back online so you could go after your friend's killer? Who helped you catch that killer? Who helped you with all the bureaucratic red tape so Incacha's body could be released to return with the other Chopec? Who do you think convinced Simon how important Incacha was to you and that you needed some time off?" Oops. Didn't mean to let that last one slip. Oh well, too late now.
"And, since it obviously slipped your mind, let me remind you that I also lost a good friend during all this. Janet? Remember her? The one who was killed getting us the information you needed. You know, the woman we left defenseless in the parking garage because you insisted we keep driving around looking for a skilled shaman warrior. Who was probably already back up on that rooftop before we even got to the car. But hey, in the end you got the information you wanted and that's all that mattered, right? Who cares about the person who actually got you that information. It wasn't like it was anybody you cared about."
Angrily wiping away a tear that had slipped out, Blair continued before Jim could respond. "At least you got to say your good-byes to Incacha before the Chopec left. Know what happened when I called a friend to find out about Janet's funeral? I was told that it would probably be better if I stayed away. She said that Janet's family, who used to be like a second family to me, didn't want me anywhere around. Her fiancÚ threatened to beat the crap out of me on sight. And her brother said he'd have me physically removed if I showed up at the cemetery." His eyes were getting wet again but he ignored them now as he voice grew softer. "And you know what, Jim? I don't blame any of them for feeling that way."
"And so you think that leaving is the answer?"
Sighing loudly, Blair dropped his jacket over his bags and took a few steps into the living room. Jim just wasn't going to make this easy. He really needed to get on the road if he was going to get to his camping spot before dark. "When your friend Danny Choi died I did what I could to help you. Even though we didn't know each other that well back then, I could see how much he meant to you. You remember the night that Tommy Juno was captured? We both sat right here and got shit-faced drunk and you spent most of the night telling me stories about Danny. The next day we both looked and felt like ten miles of bad road, but I could see that some of the tension you'd been carrying around was gone. Unfortunately, getting drunk isn't going to help this time. So yeah, I think this is the answer, for me at least."
Jim had one last gambit to try to convince Blair not to go. "Incacha passed the way of the shaman onto you. What about that?"
It was a losing battle for the younger man to keep the growing frustration out of his voice. "Yeah. What about that? Am I now suddenly supposed to be a shaman? You don't just become a shaman. Among other things, a shaman is supposed to be able to travel from this world to the spirit world. He is the spiritual leader of the tribe. It takes years of training with an elder shaman before the title gets passed on. Personally, I think it was damn inconsiderate of Incacha to pass this onto to me with no warning, and then up and die without explaining any of it." He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "I got a few books on shamanism from Rainier. One of the things I'm going to do while I'm gone is to study up on this and at least try to get a handle on it. This was not something that I was planning on getting involved in."
Jim leaned back and crossed his arms. "Incacha said you were supposed to guide me to my spirit animal. How are you going to do that if you're gone?"
It's bad karma to kill your sentinel. It's bad karma to kill your sentinel. It's bad karma... "First off, Jim, I'm only going to be gone for a week. Second, how the hell can I "guide" you to anything if I don't have a fucking clue about what I'm even supposed to do? That's what the books are for." Blair held up both hands, fingers spread wide, then clenched his fists. It was a mental effort to pull himself together. He was not going to get sucked into Jim's little head games. He was leaving and that was that. They both needed this time alone, even if the still grieving, bull-headed sentinel sitting in front of him didn't seem to realize it.
"We all have places to be, Jim. Someplace we're supposed to be. My place is here, with you. Helping you. I accept that. I even embrace it. But right now I have to be someplace else for a while. For me. If you can't accept that...well, too bad. I'm going anyway. We can talk about anything you want when I get back. Who knows, maybe I'll even have some answers by then. But right now I really need this. I'm going somewhere very remote and very quiet. And when I get there, first I'm going to cry and grieve until I'm all cried out. Then I'm going to rant and rave against Cyclops Oil, you, the Chopec and God Almighty if it makes me feel better. When I'm done doing that, I'm going to meditate and ask Janet to forgive me for getting her involved in all this, since I know I'll never be able to forgive myself. Once I find my center again, if I can find it, I'll start reading those books and see what I can learn about the way of the shaman. Then, when I'm ready, I'll be back."
He made it all the way back to the door and started putting on his jacket. So far so good. Still no response from Jim.
"And just what am I supposed to do while you're gone?"
After slipping his backpack over one shoulder and picking up the other bag, Blair turned around again. "Think, Jim. Think about everything that happened and why some of it happened. And while you're thinking, chew on this little tidbit: Sometimes. Not. Everything. Is. About. You. This is one of those times. I'll see you in a week."
And with those parting words, Blair was out the door and gone.
Jim stared at the closed door for several minutes, then slowly nodded his head and whispered, "See you in a week, Chief."
~ End ~
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Page last updated 6/29/04.