Many thanks to Taleya, faithful beta!
Blair made sure the door was locked as he stepped into the shower. He opened both valves up full stream and turned the head on full blast.
Despite what Jim and Simon and those damn doctors thought, he was not afraid of the water after his near-drowning. He was more afraid of what his spirit guide had made him.
He braced himself with his hands on the shower wall and bowed his head. With a faint whooshing sound, one he prayed his Sentinel roommate would not hear, the six small slits on the back of his neck opened up. They rose and fall with the rhythm of his breaths, turning the water flowing on them into life-giving oxygen.
Blair cursed silently again. At the hospital, he'd slept in the shower. Here, that wasn't possible. He'd have to install a tank in place of his bed and pray to all the gods he held dear that Jim would never come into his room again.
*Maybe you should just tell Jim,* a tiny voice whispered in his skull.
*Tell him what?* Blair shot back. *That I've got gills now? That I have to sleep in water every night or I can't breathe? That that's what caused my hyperventilation in the hospital, not fear of water?* He gave a mirthless chuckle. *Yeah, right. Tell Jim. What could be easier?
*Just tell him his Guide, his roommate, his best friend.....is now a damn merrow freak!*
FOUR DAYS LATER
Blair walked into the Loft and lay his keys in the basket. He took off his coat and hung it up. "Hey, Jim," he said cheerily.
"Sandburg," came the icy reply.
Blair froze. *Uh-oh.* "Uh --- Jim? Something the matter?"
"Got a call from the Y this afternoon." Jim sat on the couch.
Blair shakily moved to sit on the other end of the couch. "The Y?" *Oh, shit...* "What about?"
"They wanted to talk to you. I said you weren't here and they left you a message."
"Which was ?"
"That you need to take all your possessions with you when you leave after you spend the night there and to be careful not to leave the shower running all night."
Blair closed his eyes, paling.
“Then, after that call, I went to check in your room, see if you'd been sleeping there."
Jim looked at him, hurt and anger etched in his face. "Chief, why is your bed gone? What is that steel beam skeleton for? Why all the plate glass? What is going on?"
Blair was totally and utterly caught.
*Well...* he told himself. *When in doubt --- obfuscate.* "Well, ah, Jim, you see it's really very simple... my bed was...was taken as part .... part of a research....research..." His breaths slowly became labored. He could feel his lungs start to tighten, making each reach for air a struggle. He'd left it too late this time, he should have been in water sooner...
*Dammit!* He raised silent curses to every deity he held dear. That damn research had kept him late...dammit he should have watched the clock better .... dammit Jim why'd you have to be home?
"Chief?" Jim stood up. "Chief, what's wrong?"
Blair just shook his head.
Jim took a step toward him. "Chief...come on, what's the matter?"
Blair shook his head again, taking a step back, every reach for breath becoming more and more audible and painful.
A third shake of the head was Blair's reply. Raising his palm in a 'stay here' gesture, he gasped out, "...please..." and staggered to the bathroom.
Jim heard the door close, and the shower start up. He frowned. "Little early in the day for a shower, ain't it?" he asked himself as he moved toward the bathroom. "I mean it's only nine o'clock..." He opened the door very slowly.
Sentinel sight penetrated the wavy pattern on the door -- to clearly see Blair's form, back to Jim, in the shower, head bowed ---
"What the hell..." Jim opened the door swiftly, startling Blair, who scuttled back slightly, dropping his dripping mane.
"Jim!" he gasped, eyes darting around as if looking for an explanation. " I'm, uh, saving time and water, you know..." He gestured quickly to his clothes. "I wash, they wash?" He finished with a nervous chuckle.
But it was too late.
Jim had seen the damning evidence on Blair's neck.
Blair froze, watching the emotions play over Jim's face. "...Jim..."
Shock. Anger. Betrayal. Worry. Realization. Then blankness.
Jim spun on his heel and marched from the bathroom.
"Jim!" Blair scrambled to his feet. Snapping off the water, he raced from the bathroom on slippery bare feet. "Jim, wait!"
No sign of Jim. He moved to the living room, uncaring he left damp footprints behind and a trail of water from his hair that now hung over his neck. He was so worried about Jim that now he didn't even notice his gills were brushing his hair with every breath he took, eating the life-giving water there.
No Jim in the kitchen. No Jim in the hallway. Closing the front door, Blair turned toward the stairway. Maybe he'd gone up to his room....
Blair had one foot on the bottom step when he heard it.
Coming from Blair's room.
Blair pushed open the French doors and stood silently dripping in the doorway for a long moment. His jaw slowly opened and his eyes went round with shock at the sight that met them.
Jim was on his knees, wrench in hand, in the centre of the steel skeleton that Blair had been painstakingly constructing over the last few days.
As Blair watched in disbelief, one by one, Jim inserted the panes of plate glass into the steel skeleton, finishing the job Blair had laboriously begun.
"Jim..." Blair whispered at long last, still stunned beyond words.
"You could have told me," was all Jim said as he stood and gently laid the bottom pane in, fastening the bolts tight.
"I..." Blair began, but Jim interrupted him.
"But considering the magnitude of this --- this change --- I probably would have kept it from you too if it happened to me."
A small smile tugged at the corners of Blair's mouth. "Probably?"
Jim looked up, and chuckled slightly as he shook his head. "All right, definitely." He stood up and looked over the tank. "Do you need salt or fresh?"
"Long as it's wet, it doesn't matter. Jim, look --"
Jim held up a hand. "I did look. I see perfectly well. You've been --- altered --- and we have to deal with it."
Blair closed his eyes. "Jim, I can't ask you to --"
Jim lay his hands on Blair's shoulders. "You didn't."
Blair raised sea-green eyes to Jim's azure ones --- they became green when his gills were activated. "....no....I don't suppose I did."
Jim gave a slight smile as he saw the physical shift in Blair. "Well..." he said with a laugh, "Now I suppose I have a reason to call you Guppy, huh?"
Blair laughed. It felt good to let go of the tension and the worry.
Jim then raised his eyes to look over Blair's head at the trail that marked where the merrow had been. "Of course you do realise we're going to have to draw up some new house rules to deal with this --"
Jim hung up the phone and pushed open the French doors. He walked in and perched on the edge of the tank. "Chief..."
Blair slept on, curled up shirtless under the warm water, his long hair pushed slightly by the current created from his breaths.
Jim reached down and rapped his knuckles on the glass. He was rewarded by sea-green eyes fluttering open and Blair rolling over, an eyebrow raised inquisitively.
"Can you hear me?" Jim asked at normal volume. When Blair nodded, he went on. "Simon just called. He wants us at the station in about two hours."
*Why?* Talking was impossible underwater, but Blair's mouth formed the word anyway.
"He thinks he's got a bead on the nerve gas."
Blair's newly-green eyes narrowed as his lips formed one word. *Alex.*
"We don't know, Chief. The snitch said that he saw a duffel bag with the laboratory's name on it being loaded onto a private jet. He did some sniffing around and found it was heading for Peru."
Blair's eyes widened. *Peru?* Then there was a flurry of words, inaudible due to the water, then a loud crash of displaced water as Blair sat up. "---us there and we can figure out what to do then. Peru! Wonder if this ties into those freaky dreams and --"
"Whoa!" Jim put a hand on his shoulder. "Whoa, Chief, hold up a bit! Dreams?"
Blair froze. "....erm....."
Jim sighed. "Okay, Chief. True confessions time. I've been having pretty weird dreams myself." He told Blair about the dreams of killing the wolf which morphed into Blair, then he told Blair about the ones that had come the last few nights, of the temple, the eye ---
Blair's eyes had grown huge. He interrupted, "...and going in and fighting the jaguar...."
Jim's mouth worked, but nothing came out. Then he whispered, "Same dream, huh?"
Blair nodded. "Same dream."
The Sentinel moved to his friend's side. "There's something I have to know, Chief."
The large eyes just looked at him.
Sighing, Jim went on. "Were you a --- a merman --"
"Merrow, Jim. The word is merrow."
"Merrow then. Were you one ... Before the fountain?"
"No." Blair smiled. "A wolf showed up and slashed my neck just before I was pulled out. When he did, I knew that I was now a merrow --- that it had been a Gift for me to use as your Senses are a Gift." He shrugged. "I'm assuming that means I'm to help people with it --- but for right now, it's a pain in the ass just to survive."
Jim nodded and moved to the other side of Blair's room. He took Blair's bandanna and told Blair to be dressed when he returned.
"Wait, man, where you going with that?"
"Trust me!" Jim called as he moved out of the bedroom.
Knowing full well Jim could hear, Blair groused about pushy know-it-all Sentinels. He smiled as he heard Jim's rich laughter in reply.
When Jim and Blair walked into Major Crimes nearly an hour later, Blair was grinning from ear to ear. He could not get over the small gesture of thoughtfulness on Jim's part.
The bandanna Blair wore tied around his neck had been saturated with water. It could be re-saturated in the bathroom or any sink and reapplied. Jim had solved one of Blair's problems -- how to stave off the 12-hour deadline his lungs now had.
It had been something so simple that it had totally escaped Blair's notice.
The smile grew. The bandanna also hid the fact that Blair was breathing through his gills and not his lungs.
Simon walked out, meeting them. "Ellison, Sandburg! My office!"
Under his breath, Blair wondered if Simon would ever learn his first name was Blair -- "I mean come on, man -- 'Ellison Sandburg' just doesn't do it for me..." Jim found himself chuckling over the joke meant only for Sentinel ears.
Once his door was closed, Simon turned to them. "It is Alex Barnes, and she is in Peru."
Sentinel and merrow looked at each other, then back at Simon. In perfect unison, they chorused, "When do we leave?"
PERU, FOUR DAYS LATER
"Take it easy, Jim...it's okay, it's okay...." Once more, Blair was holding a shaking Jim tightly in his arms, gently dabbing at the sweat-dampened skin. The Sentinel, blinded in reaction to a powerful vision, clung to his best friend and shook, his breath coming in ragged gasps that may or may not have been sobs.
*It's happening again,* Blair thought as he held his best friend and talked him through the attack. Since coming here, Jim had had visions of going to the beach and making love to Alex Barnes. He didn't know why he was having these, but they terrified him. So far, Blair had been there to prevent his leaving to enact the visions.
But each time he refused the siren call, his reaction would be worse and worse. This time he had lost his sight.
Finally, Jim slumped in Blair's arms. Blair breathed a sigh of relief. It was over.
Jim slowly sat up and opened his eyes. "....yeah, it's back..." He looked at Blair, lending truth to his words. "Damn, I hate this!"
"You and me both," Blair sighed. He moved to the bathroom and re-soaked his bandanna. He came out, tying it around his neck. "Are you going to be okay?"
Blair blinked. He hadn't expected that answer. "....no?"
"No, Chief, I'm not gonna be okay. Not until we get this straightened out."
Blair nodded. "I'm cool with that. Soon as we get Alex stopped and --"
"I don't mean us and Alex," Jim interrupted. "I mean you and me."
Jim nodded. He clasped his hands together and dangled them from his knees, looking at the floor as he spoke. "...Chief, I feel like this whole damn mess is my fault. If I hadn't thrown you out of the loft --"
"Hey," Blair sat beside him. "Hey don't start that again."
"Sandburg, will you just let me finish!" Jim stood up and moved to the window. "If I hadn't reacted so badly --- you wouldn't have died. You wouldn't have been turned into a merman --"
"Merrow," Blair corrected automatically.
"Merrow. Whatever. None of it would have happened! I...I guess what I'm trying to say is...is..." He leaned his forehead against the glass. "Hell, Chief....I'm tryin' to say I'm sorry..."
Blair laid a hand on Jim's shoulder. "I know you are. And what I'm trying to tell you is that it's okay."
"Okay?" Jim looked at him in disbelieving shock. "How in the hell can it be okay?"
"It can be okay because I know you weren't in total control of your actions and reactions. You were reacting to the presence of another Sentinel in your territory. It's like you were half-zoned through it all, acting totally on instinct. Hell, if it was anyone's fault it was mine. I should have told you she was around from the start."
"Look, what I'm trying to say is that we both made mistakes. The communications blackout happened on both sides. It was as much my fault as yours." He smiled. "So what do you say we call it a mutual fault and move past it?"
Jim just looked at him. "....you... forgive me?"
Blair laughed. "Jim, I forgave you the minute I saw you putting my tank together!"
The curls bobbed as Blair nodded. "See, when I saw that I knew we could deal with anything. Together. Cause we're partners."
Jim smiled. "That's right, we are."
"So come on, get some rest. You fought all night."
Jim nodded and slid into bed. "....what about you?"
"I'll rest in a few minutes. Need to fill the tub first."
With a slightly delirious giggle just before he slid to sleep, Jim cracked, "....night, Guppy..."
Blair fired him a raspberry before he filled the tub.
Sea-green eyes opened as Blair rolled over. Sure enough, Jim was tapping on the side of the tub. Sitting up, Blair asked, "What's wrong?"
Jim seemed half-zoned. "She's on the move..."
Blair stood up. "Alex?" At Jim's dazed nod, he asked, "Where's she going?"
"The one you told me you saw in a dream?" Again, Jim nodded. "Well that's that then."
Jim nodded a third time. "...I'll pack the backpacks..." he said, leaving the room.
"Don't forget to fill both canteens full of water!" Blair called as he pulled his clothes on and drained the tub, tying the wet bandanna around his neck. "I'll need one whole one just for my gills!"
Two hours later, both paused on the edge of a jungle. "You sure about this, man?" Blair asked.
Jim looked around. "As sure as I've been about anything this trip, Chief. She's in there, heading for that temple."
Blair nodded. "Lead the way, then."
They entered the jungle. Behind them, a jaguar growled and a wolf began to howl --- in approval.
Sentinel and Merrow were acting as a team again --- finally.
Jim's eyes snapped open as the nightmare spun itself out. He looked at Blair's sleeping form and knew what the vision was trying to tell him. "Sorry, Chief," he whispered, touching Blair's shoulder. "This is one I do alone."
With that, he headed into the jungle down a path that was suddenly clear to him -- one he'd seen in his vision.
Blair woke, trembling from a nightmare. He moaned and turned his head, reaching out. His hand encountered a canteen, which he promptly scooped up and soaked the bandanna with its contents.
Then it registered that he was alone. "Jim?" he called, standing up. "Jim?"
Images from his dream came flooding back. The temple...Jim...Alex... Blair struggled to his feet as realisation dawned. His dream.... it hadn't been just a dream. He'd had a vision! He turned and saw a path in the jungle -- the same path he'd seen Jim walk onto in his vision.
"Omigod." Blair ran toward the path that he sensed led to where Jim was. He didn't even question how he knew that was where Jim was, he just reacted.
Suddenly he stopped running, feeling a strong hand land on his shoulder and the muzzle of a gun press into his neck. "Now, gringo," came a rough voice behind him, "March. Take us to this temple ahora! Now!"
"No need to translate," Blair said flippantly, moving forward along the path. "I do speak fluent Spanish."
"Is that so?" the man growled. "I happen to be fluent in gun. So move!"
Blair paused. "Move?" he asked the man, his own eyes looking to his left. "Did you say move?"
"Ah you speak Spanish, but your English isn't so good?" the man snarled. "Si, I said move!"
"All right then, I'll move." And Blair did. He broke into a run, racing to his left. Behind him came a Spanish curse and a gunshot. Blair ducked as the bullet hit a tree to his right, showering him with bark.
As he ran, he ripped off his bandanna and shoved it into his jeans. He swiftly undid his flannel shirt and flung it off, never pausing in his race. Finally, he kicked off his shoes.
Clad only in jeans and a white undershirt, Blair cheered as he plunged over the small cliff to the water he'd sensed below.
He froze, hugging the shoreline below the cliff, careful to stay under the water. He heard Spanish curses, and still in Spanish, heard the man complaining because Blair hadn't surfaced. He winced as two shots were fired into the water -- thankfully, both missing -- and then the curses began to fade as the man walked away.
Blowing out the air in his cheeks much as he would have on land, the merrow steeled himself. Propelling himself as fast as he could, he shot toward the temple, sending up a sincere prayer to all the gods he knew that the river fed into the temple somehow.
Jim finally came to himself, gasping. He was still in the water tank, but now he could move. The curare derivative Alex had shot him with seemed to be wearing off. He was shaken to the core, however. He'd seen more visions --- thing horrible and painful happening to his friends and co-workers. He'd screamed a why to Incacha and had been asked, "What do you fear?"
At long last, he had said it aloud. "I fear love! I fear being hurt! I fear being alone! I fear my own need for company, for a family's love!"
And the visions had stopped. Incacha had reappeared. "You are stronger now than ever. Your visions will not come true if this comes to pass."
Incacha had faded and the image of the spotted jaguar reappeared. She lay dead at the feet of a wolf and panther.
The wolf had blood on his muzzle.
Jim frowned as the last of the vision faded and he sat up slowly. In his dreams that had set this whole nightmare off, Blair had been a wolf. Did that mean that they had to stop Alex together?
He slowly swung out of the water tank and moved to the one beside him. Alex lay there, in the grip of the same drug she'd forced Jim to drink, to heighten his senses further. Jim swore silently. If her senses were heightened now too, she'd be doubly dangerous.
He moved away, looking for a way out of the room. Alex had closed the heavy stone door by pressing a series of hieroglyphs. If he could find the right combination, he could open them and get out of there before she ---
Behind him, he heard a female moan and the displacement of water as she sat up.
Alex had a maniacal smile on her face. She began to gush about how everything was all pumped up.
"Alex..." Jim said. He went over and lay his hands on her arms. "Alex, this isn't right. You need to --"
"I don't need to do anything!" Alex cried, pulling away. She produced the tear gas canister.
"Come on, Alex....put that down..."
"You don't understand," Alex snarled, hands on the canister lid. "But you will. Once I open this, you'll understand everything!"
"Alex..." Jim took a step forward, and she took one backward. "If you open that, you'll kill us both too!"
She just smiled and began to twist the lid.
Suddenly from behind her, there was a loud eruption. Blair shot from the water tank Alex had been in. He grabbed her and twisted the canister out of her hands. Jim caught it neatly and found she hadn't broken any seals.
Jim looked up to see Blair dragging a thrashing Alex into the tank. What froze him in his tracks was the expression on Blair's face. He had never seen such a look of rage on the gentle Guide's face.
Alex's scream faded into a gurgling gasp as Blair pulled her under the water. Jim took one step forward and saw the water seeming to boil as the figures below -- indiscriminate even to Sentinel eyes -- tussled.
When the water stilled, Jim took another step forward ---
And Blair shot once more from the water, giving a yell of victory that bore an uncanny resemblance to the howling of a wolf.
"It's over," Blair said as he climbed from the tank and stood dripping in the temple, grinning from ear to ear. "It's finally over, man. Alex won't hurt anyone anymore, I ...." A look of pure horror slowly bloomed on his face as what he'd done finally sank in. He paled till his white undershirt was more colorful than his face was. "....I drowned her...."
"Hey!" Jim gasped, lurching forward and catching Blair as the merrow's knees buckled. "Hey, easy Chief...come on, take it easy...."
"I .... killed....drowned...."
"You did what you had to, Chief."
"Chief...Chief!" When that wasn't working, Jim grasped his chin and forced the merrow to look at him. "Blair, listen to me!"
Blair blinked, startled. He lapsed into silence and listened, huge green eyes focused on Jim.
"Blair....it wasn't you. Okay? It was... it was some half-zoned merman -- merrow I mean -- acting on pure instinct!"
Blair's gaze shifted to the tank in front of him. "....wasn't really me...." he said, as if trying to convince himself.
"No, Chief. No."
With a sigh, the damp head rested on Jim's shoulder and the green eyes slid closed. Jim smiled and held his best friend tight.
It was enough.
Acceptance had come.
Jim opened his hotel door to find Simon standing there, cigar clamped firmly between his teeth. "Simon," he said rather tiredly.
Simon pushed past him. "You better have a damn good reason for not checking in, Ellison."
"Not so loud," Jim said, motioning with his hands. "You'll wake Sandburg."
Simon turned to the two beds in the room, both of which were empty. "Sandburg?" he asked, frowning deeply. "Where is he?"
"He's asleep. Yeah, we had a good reason for not checking in -- we met up with Alex Barnes again. There was some....trouble." He knelt beside one of the beds and pulled out an unmistakable canister. "Here is the nerve gas."
The cigar dangled at a ludicrous-looking angle as Simon's jaw unhinged. ".....and Barnes?"
"Won't be bothering us or anyone else again," Jim said grimly as he laid the gas canister gently on the bed.
"You killed her?" Simon gasped.
"Shh! " Jim said, motioning him to quiet. "No....I didn't kill her, Simon. Sandburg did."
The cigar fell to the floor. Jim couldn't help but smile and the idle thought flashed through his mind that it was a good thing it wasn't lit.
"I think I need my hearing checked," Simon said, looking at Jim wide-eyed. "I thought I just heard you say that Sandburg killed Barnes."
"You did. He drowned her." A grim smile twisted Jim's lips. "Ironic, huh?"
Simon slowly sank onto the bed, eyes never leaving Jim's. "This....this is some Sentinel/Guide thing, isn't it?"
Jim shook his head. "He saw her threatening me, threatening to open the nerve gas, and he reacted. He dragged her into a water tank and held her there till she drowned."
Simon rubbed his eyes. "I thought the kid was afraid of water now, Jim."
Another shake of the head. "Not at all."
Shaking his own head as if to clear it, Simon stood and moved toward the open bathroom door.
"Simon, where are you going?" Jim gasped, going after him.
"I'm going to splash some water on my face, unless you have a better idea," Simon shot back and vanished into the bathroom.
Jim closed his eyes. "...three....two....one...."
"Holy Mother of God!"
"He's seen Sandburg," Jim sighed, moving toward the open door.
FIVE DAYS LATER, CASCADE, WASHINGTON
Jim hung up the phone and sighed. He moved to the kitchen table and sat down across from Blair, watching his partner type on the laptop.
Slowly, the flying fingers slowed and then stilled as Blair looked up at him. Jim smiled to himself. Those green eyes seemed to be a permanent fixture now that Blair wore the bandanna constantly and breathed almost exclusively through his gills. "That was Simon on the phone. "
Blair frowned slightly. "Simon? Why?"
“They found Alex's body yesterday."
Those emerald eyes turned huge as his face began to whiten.
Jim held up a hand. "You're not blamed, Chief. The authorities ruled it a freak accident. No marks on her neck, no bruises beyond those consistent with a fall --"
"But I'm the one who held her under the water."
"We've discussed this."
Blair sighed and removed his glasses, rubbing his eyes as he spoke. "I know. But Jim --- you didn't see her face. When she realised she was drowning and that I was the one drowning her ---"
"Fear, I can imagine...."
That got Jim's attention. "No? She wasn't afraid?"
Blair shook his head, sadness clouding his features. "No. She....she tried to laugh, Jim. She tried to rip my eyes out. She tried to rip gills onto her own throat. She wanted to be what I am, Jim. She wanted this!" He was crying now.
Jim didn't know what to say. He just sat there, looking at Blair. He couldn't imagine anyone wanting to be what Blair had become. He'd seen the merrow struggle just to survive .... to imagine anyone wanting that life... Jim shook his head.
"She was really crazy, wasn't she, Jim?" Blair looked at his friend, his tears abating.
"Yeah, Chief, she was," Jim sighed.
"....so in a way, I made her well?"
Jim blinked. Then he smiled. Recognizing that Blair needed to know that some good would come out of this, he said, "Yeah, Darwin. You made her well."
The sunny smile that graced Blair's face made the last few days worth it all.
Jim then nodded toward the laptop. "What're you working on?"
"The last few lines of my diss."
"Oh." Jim tried not to let the disappointment he felt show. Without that diss, surely Blair had something better to do than --
His thoughts were interrupted by Blair's words as he finished typing. "The....End.... done!"
Jim frowned slightly. He'd expected Blair to be a little more....exuberant... than this. Dancing, throwing his arms around, hugging Jim --- not to be just sitting there smiling at the screen. "That's....great, Chief."
Blair smiled. "Isn't it, though? Come over here, I want you to see something."
Hesitantly, Jim moved so he could see the screen. Blair hit a few keys, and the text was highlighted. "What did you wanna show me, Chief?"
"This," Blair said. With another combination keystroke, the screen blanked. Then he closed the file and dumped it into the recycle bin --- which he emptied!
As Jim watched speechless, he then popped out the disk he'd had his diss backed up on. He took it to the fireplace --- and threw it into the fire.
Without replying, the merrow vanished into his room. When he returned, he carried the box that held the hard copy. "Help me?"
"Sandburg....Blair....what are you ...."
Blair settled the box in front of the fireplace. He pulled sheet after sheet of paper off and fed it into the fire. "I saw visions, Jim," he said calmly as he did so. "Horrible, horrible visions of what would happen to our friends if this was ever published. I'm still going to do the one on closed societies --- but the Sentinel one is history." He looked up at Jim. "Will you help me feed the flames, man?"
Jim knelt beside him. "Chief....this...was your life's work..."
"My life is here now, Jim. With you and Simon and our other friends. Doing what I do; being what I am. It's hectic and a pain in the ass sometimes, but there's nothing I'd rather be doing. No place I'd rather be." He looked at Jim, as serious as the Sentinel had ever seen him. "Will you help me move on?"
Jim studied his face for a second. Then he reached into the box.
Sentinel and Merrow fed the flames for nearly an hour, in silence. Nothing needed to be said.
That chapter of their lives had ended, thanks to Alex.
Now a new one could begin to be written.
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