Rating: PG.
Status: New, complete
Date posted: 9/20/98
Series/Sequel: No.
Archived: at 852 Prospect, the Sentinel Adult Archive
Summary: Blair has a dream while dying. Not a death story; relax. We already know he comes back.
Episode Related: Sentinel Two
Warnings: Dream imagery.

Disclaimer: The characters in this story and the whole Sentinel concept belong to Pet Fly, not me. I'm just having fun, and am making no money from them. Suing me would be pointless; I'm broke.

My deepest gratitude again goes to my beta reader, boyd. This would have been much less coherent without her input!

Before I Sleep

by Ashtareth

Jim screamed. "He's alive!"

Blair looked around in confusion. His friends were hovering over him, their figures distorted as if underwater, their voices muffled and booming against his ears. Simon's face floated over him, twisted with some great effort. Blair staggered up, reaching for the source of the tortured scream, his vision blurring. He tried to call out, but his voice was gone, his throat raw and aching.

"Let it go, baby, let it go..."

Blair shuddered with sudden terror. He found himself behind Jim's broad back, but Jim was straining away from him, away from strong hands that held his arms. Blair lifted himself up, peering over his Sentinel's shoulder, to see -

Oh god.

That's me.

I'm dead. She did it, she killed me. Oh god.

A panicked heartbeat pounded in his ears, his own or Jim's, he couldn't tell. He covered his mouth with both hands, feeling a cold cold wind blow through him.

"I'm sorry. He's gone," said a nearby voice, gentle and sad.

Gone? No, no, wait, I'm here! I'm right here, Jim, can't you see me, for god's sake, I'm here! Blair screamed, but no one heard him.

Jim wailed like a lost soul and sank to his knees. Blair followed him down, dropping into the wet grass -

Grass he couldn't feel.

In terror he flung himself down and buried his face in it, grabbed at handfuls of it, shrieking with his vanished voice. The sounds around him vanished likewise, and the grass and soil became mud, clinging to his hands. He was in the jungle, and his body was the body of a wolf. Sudden pain shot through him like a bullet. He fell onto his side, and opened his eyes to find Jim standing over him. He wanted to speak, to reach out, but his body was heavy as lead, and his mouth was full of mud.

Jim stared at him in abject horror. The bow that had fired the arrow into Blair's heart dropped from his shaking hands. "This can't be happening," he denied. "This can't be happening, this can't be happening..." He covered his war-painted face and turned away.

It's happening. You killed me. The dreadful accusation of his friend hammered at his mind, and Blair rose from the wolf's body and desperately ran. White moonlight spilled through the trees, opening a thousand doorways to heaven in the blackness, and voices whispered to him. Weeping, he came upon a shallow pool of water and light and in it lay the wolf he had been, glassy eyed, his protector's cruel arrow jutting from its ribs. He dropped beside the furred body, and reached for the feathered shaft, but could not draw it free. "No, no, I didn't know..." Blair moaned.

The painted arrow twisted in his hands and muttered, "I need a partner I can trust..." Blair snatched his hand away from it with a sob.

The wolf raised its head and looked at him. "You know where to find me," it said. Blair gathered up the heavy creature and hugged it close. It melted away, leaving his arms empty, and he curled up in the cool water where the wolf had lain, the accusing arrow in his own heart. It hurt more than any bullet or blow he'd ever taken. He raised his eyes to the solemn wolf, looking down at him now. "Help me," he begged. "Please, I'm so scared; it hurts!"

"What do you fear?" asked the wolf.

"Dying," Blair whispered. The arrow in his side jerked, and its movement flooded him with pain and sorrow. He remembered Jim's face, angry, hurt, betrayed; remembered the face of his beautiful killer, the young Sentinel who had betrayed his trust. He remembered and lamented his helplessness in the face of his own Sentinel's most urgent need.

"What do you fear?" asked the wolf again.

"Failing," Blair murmured with deep regret. Crying, he laid his hand on the shaft, and it slid free of his flesh. He dropped it and pressed his hand over the wound in his heart. Blood flowed over his fingers and he knew he would soon die.

The wolf leaned close towards him, wearing the familiar painted face of the Chopec shaman, and grabbed his bloody arm, dark eyes blazing into his. Blair huddled back, trying to pull free, but he was not stronger than a dying man.

"Incacha, let me go!" Blair cried.

"I pass the Way to you..." Quechua words echoed in his head.

"I can't!" Blair shrieked, "I don't know how! I just watch, you understand? I'm just a fucking observer! You're the Shaman, not me!" Incacha slipped away from him, his face disapproving and sad. Blair pulled himself up, holding his torn side, and ran again through the whispering woods.

The earth crumbled suddenly beneath his feet, dropping him to his hands and knees. He huddled on the edge of a cliff, and remembered the one from which he'd once thrown himself in fear for his life. He could hear the roar of the wild river below. Something terrible was down there, he knew it, something worse than madmen with machine guns.

He leaned over the precipice, and what he saw made him cry out in horror. At the bottom of the cliff, the rushing white water relentlessly washed away the mortal clay of a broken doll with his own face, turned up to him blind and screaming. He felt numbness spreading through him.

Behind him the trees muttered and cursed him for a coward. He couldn't turn around. He couldn't flee. He couldn't stop looking down.

The wolf nudged him, nipped at his arms and face until he sat up to push it away. It backed up and sat on its haunches looking at him.

Blair wrapped his arms around himself. He was cold, so cold now. "What do you want from me?" he asked.

The wolf licked its chops. "Your life and your soul."

"They're already gone," Blair said. He dropped his heavy head, hiding in his hair. "It's too late." He felt a strange relief. Too late. He didn't have to decide now. He couldn't make any more mistakes. It was too late. He heard Jim's voice, screaming his name, faintly, so far away. Poor Jim, all alone. He shuddered. He missed Jim already. He missed himself. No more blue eyes in the mirror, no more wild curls in his eyes, no more sweet orgasm sex, no more adrenaline rush heartpounding anxiety attacks, no more him, nevermore.

"No more me," he whispered. "Who am I now?"

"Who are you?" asked the wolf patiently.

"I'm Blair - Naomi's son," he muttered. "Pride and joy, ball and chain."

"Who are you?"

"I'm an anthropologist - "

"Who are you?"

"I'm - I'm - I don't know!" Blair shouted, then hung his head again feeling emptiness and sickening shame wash through him. "I know who I'm supposed to be, but I'm not - I'm not worthy."

"How can you be unworthy of your own heart?"

"I'm supposed to be Jim's Guide. I'm supposed to be the Shaman of the Great City, if that even means anything. But I don't know how. I don't know what to do."

"Don't you?"

"I failed."

"You only failed to choose."

Blair covered his eyes, rocking. "I don't want a destiny," he whispered. "I don't want to have to choose. This is the one thing I didn't want to do."

"You have to, now," said the wolf calmly. "Embrace your destiny, or walk away."

"What should I do?" he asked forlornly.

"I can't make your decisions for you," the wolf said, surprisingly gently. "I can help you, but it's really up to you."

"I should have made this decision a year ago," Blair admitted, ashamed. "If I'd accepted the Way when Incacha passed it to me, none of this mess would've ever happened."

"No guilt. You don't know what might have been." The wolf licked its paw. "I don't mean to rush you, man, but you don't exactly have forever here. Never mind the past. Just decide now."

Blair looked over his shoulder, into the peaceful darkness of the woods. The dark trees stood silent now, waiting for his choice. He listened to the sweetly whispering voices that called to him from the brilliant portals of moonlight that shone through the trees. It was tempting, to lay down the burdens he'd almost unwittingly shouldered, and walk away, into the sweet white light of the wolf's moon.

His own voice echoed out of the darkness to his ears. I'm right here, buddy, just listen to the sound of my voice. Follow me back. He felt tears start down his cheeks. He didn't want to abandon Jim, didn't want to leave him alone. If his destiny was to be with Jim Ellison, then he could embrace that destiny with joy.

Blair turned away from the light. It would be there. There was no hurry.

The wolf sat looking at him expectantly. His fear gone, Blair looked down over the dizzying drop of the cliffside, to see his shattered form far below, surrounded by the ragged circle of mourners. Mourners, and one sobbing heartbroken Sentinel. "My poor Jim. He thinks I'm gone. He thinks he did it."

"Is he yours?" asked the wolf.

"Yes," Blair replied without thinking. He swallowed hard at the wolf's smile, and then straightened his back and nodded once. "Yes. Of course he is. He's my Sentinel."

"And you?"

"I'm his Guide." Blair turned back to the cliff. "I'm the Shaman of his tribe." He drew a deep, deliberate breath into lungs that burned with the air. "I can't leave him now. I've just begun. I won't leave."

The wolf pounced, and Blair opened his arms to catch it. Its furry body melted against him, into him, and he heard the howl coming from his own throat, as he flung himself from the rock, aiming his flight for the small forsaken body below.

The fall took forever.

The landing hurt like hell.

He convulsed upwards, the howl tearing free from his constricted throat, water gushing after it. He choked, coughed, gasped air into reluctant lungs, and spewed up noxious fluid.

Paramedics scurried, shouting. Cops yelled. Jim appeared and took his face in his hands, searching his eyes desperately. "Chief? Blair? God, please... Can you hear me?"

Blair croaked, "Hi," and collapsed back into coughing.

"Oh, god, Chief, I thought I lost you, Blair I'm sorry - "

The paramedics were lifting him, strapping him down. He was too tired to resist. He turned his head to watch Jim following after the gurney, frantic, reaching uselessly to touch him. Simon was behind him, and all their friends, astonished and worried. Blair managed to hold Jim's eyes. "I'm not leaving," he whispered. "I love you."

Only Jim caught the faint words. "Me too," he choked out. "I'm right there with you - "

An oxygen mask cut off his vision, and the ambulance doors closed on the world. Blair felt the weight of the wolf, warm and comforting, across his chest, and he let himself sink into darkness, unafraid, knowing this time, it was only sleep.


Feedback always welcome: ashtareth@yahoo.com