A moment in time...
Jim woke, his body instantly on alert. Casting out his hearing, he found Blair's heartbeat. He wasn't in his room, though. The pre-dawn air was still and dim; gray light filtered in through the windows. Clearly, Blair should still be in bed safely snoring and drooling on his pillow. With his guts tightening with worry, Jim trotted down the stairs.
Ever since Blair had embraced his role as guide and shaman, he had become more and more likely to lose himself in visions and dreams where Jim couldn't follow him... couldn't protect him. And a little part of Jim felt guilty because he liked the fact that the visions that had plagued him had vanished—had migrated over to Blair, official guide and shaman. The balcony doors were open, and as the sunrise just started to stain the sky with pink, Blair stood staring out over the city, his curls blowing in a gentle wind.
"Blair?" Jim grabbed the blanket off the back of the couch and padded out onto the balcony. He could dial down the chilly morning air so that he didn't feel the ache of it in his bones; Blair couldn't. "Shit, Chief, your arms are covered in goose pimples." Jim slung the blanket around Blair's shoulders and then pulled his guide close, hoping to warm him. But Blair's eyes remained fixed on some distant spot of sky even as he leaned back into Jim's frame. Jim's Sentinel vision couldn't see anything, but then Blair had a way of seeing things that not even Jim could see. For a second, Blair remained utterly focused, his body stiff in Jim's arms as he stared out into the sky, the purplish blue of which reminded Jim of a healing bruise.
Rubbing his hands up and down Blair's arms, Jim could only wait as Blair wandered the spiritual world. A shiver went through Blair's frame, and then another, and then his teeth started chattering.
"Jim?" Blair asked, his voice confused.
"Shit, Chief, you really need to tell me if you're going to go off on some vision quest. For that matter, staying in the heat might be a good idea, too." Jim pulled Blair backwards into the loft, kicking the door closed with his foot so that he didn't have to let go of Blair.
"Oh man. Damn, that's cold."
"No shit, Sherlock," Jim said, but he carefully guided Blair to the couch, and then pulled Blair down as he sat. For a second, Blair was stiff, and then he curled towards Jim's heat, his hands reaching around Jim's waist, probably trying to defrost. "Blair, you have to tell me if you're going to go do your thing."
"My thing?" Blair sounded amused.
"You know, where you see dead people and shit that I don't even want to think about?" Jim tightened his arms, and Blair made a little huffing noise as he squirmed around a little. The fact was that Jim was grateful that the visits from Incacha and the visions of spirit guides and even the blue dreams had faded. True, he didn't like that Blair was now on the supernatural front lines, but after Blair had left to finish his PhD, Jim had nearly gone mad as the visions spiraled out of control. He'd wake up to find illusionary water flowing through the living room or his black jaguar spirit guide chewing on the furniture. Blair's absence had made the task of keeping the visions at bay impossible. He couldn't control visions any more than Blair could control his body temperature. And sometimes—just sometimes—Jim felt a little guilty that he now got to have a life that came a whole lot closer to normal only because he had passed all that shit over to Blair. "Chief, I'm not going to stop you from doing whatever vision walk crap you need to do, but you need to tell me so that I can be here to look after you."
Blair laughed. "Oh man, do you have any idea what that sounds like?" He shifted around again so that his head rested against Jim's chest, the shivering finally vanishing.
"You sound like me... like the old me when I was always nagging the shit out of you to not try and do everything yourself."
"Chief," Jim warned, his tone making it pretty clear that the two things were not the same. He got a poke in the ribs.
"It is the same damn thing... only not. Man, I did not mean to do a vision walk. I was just..." Blair pulled a hand out from under the blanket to wave it at the universe in general. Then he quickly pulled it back under again. "Damn, it's cold. Anyway, you used to go charging off without me, so you were like intentionally obstreperous. I was just...." Blair shrugged.
Jim frowned. This sort of confusion wasn't normal for Blair. In fact, it was a little disconcerting how quickly and easily Blair took to his spiritual duties as shaman, but now he sounded lost... confused. "Blair?" Jim asked. Just days ago, Blair had tried to use a vision quest to track down Ventriss. Since Blair and Jim had been busy in the SGC at the time of the Ventriss investigation, the little shit had given Joel the slip and disappeared. But Blair's quest had been neatly repelled, so maybe that had thrown him.
"I know, I know," Blair said wearily. "I'm not nearly as thick as you are, though. I would have come to you if I knew I was going on a vision quest. Unlike some people, I don't have some god complex that makes me think I can do this by myself."
"I thought I had a guilt complex," Jim teased. Blair raised his head long enough to glare at him. Jim couldn't keep from smiling just a little.
Jim didn't disagree with that. "What happened, Chief?"
Blair shrugged and then went still for long minutes, but Jim remained silent, waiting for some sort of answer. With a small noise, Blair tried to pull away, but Jim just tightened his arms around Blair. Blair was in charge of the spiritual world and all the shit that entailed, but this was the physical world, and this was Jim's territory.
"I can't protect you if you don't talk to me, Chief."
"There's nothing to protect me from. If anything, I’m the one who needs to protect you." This time, Blair did shove him away, scooting to the far side of the couch where he clutched the blanket that Jim had put around his shoulders and stared, wild-eyed, at the room.
"Blair?" Jim leaned forward. If there were some sort of spiritual problem, it would be Blair's job to protect both of them, but after watching Blair channel lightning, Jim had no doubt that Blair could. He just hated the feeling that there were enemies around that he couldn't see or fight. A huge part of him wanted to protect his guide. "Blair, talk to me," Jim asked.
Blair finally looked over at him, his blue eyes troubled. Then Blair dropped his eyes to the floor and scrubbed his face with a hand. "I don't know. I mean, I know there's something wrong, but I don't just don't know what."
Even though Blair had just pulled away, Jim reached over and tugged on Blair, urging him back. Without even a token resistance, Blair leaned heavily into Jim, his head resting against Jim's shoulder.
"Did you ask Roland?" Jim asked. In real life, the old man was an invalid with Alzheimer's so severe that he couldn't tell you his own name, but on the spirit plane, he had become the mentor who guided Blair through the intricacies of understanding his powers. Sometimes Jim wondered who Blair would have become if Naomi had stayed in New Mexico and allowed Roland to teach a young Blair to embrace his powers from the start.
"He told me that I'm being stupid."
"He called you stupid?" Jim frowned. That didn't sound right.
Blair snorted. "He told me that everyone with eyes could see the truth, but the man who stares at the truth can't see anything." Blair's arms slipped around Jim again, and Jim settled back into the couch so that he was half-laying down, Blair on top of him. The sunrise was starting to send stripes of light through the blinds on the windows, and Jim could see every mote of dust floating in the air, each a tiny world filled with tiny landscapes and mountains and valleys. Blair's heart beat slightly out of time with Jim's heart so that the two created a complex rhythm that filled the air.
"Is there danger?" Jim asked.
"I don't know. I don't think so, but I can feel things... I feel like everything is just a half an inch off... like someone snuck into my office and moved the books over just far enough to make everything feel alien." Blair's arms tightened around him, and Jim held Blair close. Whatever was coming, they would deal with it together. Never again would Jim allow their friendship to be destroyed by fear or some misguided attempt to keep Blair clear of trouble.
"You could have woken me," Jim said softly.
For heavy seconds, Blair didn't answer. "I just thought I was going to watch the sunrise. I totally did not expect to get pulled into that conversation. Man, it is too damn early in the morning to have someone call me stupid."
"Next time wake me up. Otherwise, I'm going to start sleeping on the couch just so that I don't have to worry about you. Keeping your body in one piece and free of pneumonia is my job," Jim pointed out. Besides, Blair hated the military doctors at McChord and if he took Blair back to the student health clinic, Nurse Ratched was going to gut him with a spoon. The woman knew how to hold a grudge, and she just could not get over Jim's case of temporary asshole a few months back.
Blair didn't answer, but he yawned so wide that Jim could swear he could hear the man's jaw muscles popping.
"Do you want to go back to bed?" Jim asked. It was still early for Blair, especially since he usually didn't get to bed until well after midnight. Instead of answering, Blair's body stiffened for a brief second, and then he was pushing himself away.
"Yeah, I probably should. I totally need the sleep. Man, I have to deal with Colonel Pissy tomorrow, and if that man does not stop making stupid comments about Sentinels, I'm going to have to have you kill him and hide the body."
"Hold on, there," Jim said, reaching out to catch Blair's wrist just as Blair was ready to make a run for it. "Blair, what's going on?"
"Nothing." Blair tried to put on his best innocent face, but Jim wasn't nearly as naïve as the guys on poker night who bought the innocent look from Blair every single time.
"Don't do this, Blair," Jim warned.
A frown darted across Blair's face, and his gaze flicked to the open door to his room.
"Chief, is there something wrong with your room?"
"What? No. No way. Everything's fine; I'm just tired." Blair tried to retreat, but Jim held onto his wrist.
"Don't shut me out, Chief." It went against every instinct Jim owned, but he let the fear and the dismay show through in his face. Immediately, Blair moved closer and sat on the edge of the couch.
"No way would I ever shut you out, Jim. That's not ever going to happen, and this is really embarrassing, so could you maybe just let it drop?"
Jim studied Blair's face from the way his cheeks were slightly pinked to the capillaries in his eyes contracting so that the tiny red webs in the white of his eye thinned. In the morning light, the blue of his eyes was brighter than normal, and the black was so dark that Jim could see the reflection of the window in it. His curls were a wind-blown mess, and one stray hair was caught in the eyelashes of his left eye. Jim reached up and used his thumb to trace the outer edge of Blair's brow, pulling the hair loose as he went.
"Chief, you've seen me at my worst, emotionally and physically. You never made me feel anything but safe admitting some pretty fucked up shit. Please trust me enough to do the same for you." Jim whispered the words, but they hit Blair hard enough that the black of his eyes widened with emotion.
"I do. I totally trust you, Jim."
"Tell me what you're thinking, then."
Blair sighed and looked away for a half second before meeting Jim's gaze. "I can't sleep. This feeling that something is slightly out of step gets worse the longer I lay there. I try to not think about it, but that's not happening."
"Is there something I can do to help?" Blair's face turned much pinker almost immediately.
Jim leaned forward and caught Blair's second hand so that he held both. "Blair?"
Closing his eyes, Blair whispered, "This is so stupid."
"Chief?" Jim knew he'd won when Blair's shouldered sagged and he took a deep breath, letting it out with a huge sigh.
"It's better when we're close. Could I maybe..." Blair bit his lip, but Jim wasn't a stupid man. He sometimes acted like an idiot, but he wasn't stupid.
"Come on, Chief, let's go to bed," Jim suggested as he stood. From the grateful smile Blair gave him, Jim had guessed right. Jim held Blair's wrist and led the way up to his bedroom. If Jim were perfectly honest, he felt better having Blair a little closer. Sliding into bed, Jim pulled Blair in after him, not giving his guide a chance to freak out and panic over having to ask for this.
When he first slid under the sheet, Blair was stiff and Jim could smell the distress. "I'm not some kid who has to climb into bed with a parent during a thunderstorm," Blair finally announced.
Reaching over, Jim put his arm around Blair's waist and tugged on him until Blair lay close. "First, I'm not your father, Chief. I'm your Sentinel, and you're my guide, so let's leave any father issues out of this because we couldn't afford the mutual therapy bills. And second, I've seen you call down lightning on our position while doing battle with an alien. Trust me, you don't have to defend your manhood with me, Sandburg."
Blair didn't answer, but he did turn and curl towards Jim's heat, his arm slipping around Jim's waist. Jim didn't have time to do more than smile before Blair's breathing deepened as he slipped into a deep sleep. "Good night, Chief," Jim whispered, stroking a few stray curls of hair as he settled in for a late morning.