Disclaimer: This story is an episode of The Sentinel Slash Virtual Season (SVS), produced by FiveSenses, Inc. SVS is based on characters and concepts developed by, and belonging to, Pet Fly Productions. This story is intended for private, personal enjoyment only. No money is being made, or will be allowed to be made, by the author of this story or by FiveSenses, Inc. from the writing and distribution of this story. Any original characters introduced in an SVS episode belongs to the episode author and to FiveSenses, Inc. and should not be used without their permission.
Author's notes: Warmest thanks from FiveSenses, Inc. to Dark Cherry and poyznelf for their much appreciated contributions in beta reading this story, to WoD for all the hard work she put into this, and to PJ for the medical advice.
Blair was signing the paperwork from their latest case when the door to
Captain Simon Banks' office opened wide and the usual bellow reached their ears.
"Ellison! Sandburg! My office!"
The two partners glanced at each other trying to figure out what they'd done
recently to deserve God's -- or at least Simon's -- wrath, then shrugged
and rose to answer the summons.
"You called, Simon?" Jim queried, as both he and Blair took their places
leaning against the conference table side by side.
"Jim, have you finished the report on the Trodat case yet?"
Ellison handed Banks a file, "Signed, sealed and delivered. We were reviewing
it when you called."
"Great," Simon turned his attention to the young man. "Sandburg, I assume
you're still living at the loft?"
The other two exchanged confused glances. Simon knew more than well Blair
still lived there with Jim.
"Uh, yeah," Blair answered nevertheless.
"Good, good... And I'm sure you still remember the address. Am I correct?"
"Then why do I keep receiving mail sent to the station with your name on it,
Mr. Blair Sandburg?"
"Still trying to impress the girls by giving them this address, Chief?" Jim
teased, but Blair could hear the seriousness and the warning behind the banter.
"Hey, man! I haven't given this address to anyone in months! And it's not
like I'm going to impress anyone by telling them I'm a cop!" he joked back, his
own warning just as clear. No more women between them. "I mean, just look at you
guys, you tell everyone you're cops and you can't get anyone to go out with you.
Maybe I should give you two a few pointers or something," Blair grinned.
"Yeah, right!" Simon snorted. "Here."
Blair accepted the envelope Banks extended in his direction. He examined it
carefully noting there was no sender address. The stamp stated it came from some
place called Wolf Point.
"I don't know anyone in Wolf Point," Blair muttered. "I don't even know where
in the hell Wolf Point is!"
Opening the letter he read it to himself, his face turning suddenly pale,
"Oh, my God!..."
"Chief, you okay?"
Without a word, Blair handed the sheet of paper to Jim, who read it aloud for
both his own, and Simon's benefit.
I don't exactly know how to begin this, but I guess I should start by telling
you who I am. My name is Anna Sandburg and I'm your grandmother. I don't know
if, or what Naomi told you about me and your grandfather, but I'm sure either
way you'll be surprised to receive this letter.
I've been trying to contact your mother for over two months without any
success. I found out through some friends of hers that you work with the Cascade
PD, so I decided to chance it and send this there. I only pray it reaches your
I'd like you and Naomi both to come and visit us. Your grandfather is
terminally ill and has less than a month to live. I think it's about time he got
to know his grandson and make peace with his daughter. He needs this closure, we
I do hope you come. We can't change the past, but maybe we can do something
about the future.
I'm counting on you.
101 U.S. Hwy 2 East
Wolf Point, MT 59201
After an uncomfortable silence, Jim placed his hand gently on Blair's
shoulder, "Blair? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah..." he breathed softly. "I guess it was the shock. I wasn't
expecting to hear from them, not after so long," the young man replied somewhat
"Are you going?"
Blair took a deep breath, letting the conference table hold all of his weight
up, "I'm not sure. Naomi told me they threw her out when they found out she was
"But?" Simon echoed, and watched as Blair shrugged.
"I... I want to meet them, to know why. If I don't go I'll only wonder, I'll
always regret it. For better or worse, they are family. And if he's
dying... I don't know why, but I have to go."
"And Naomi?" Jim prompted.
"She called a couple days ago from somewhere in Brazil. Said she was going to
the Amazon with some friends and wanted to let me know she'd be unreachable for
the next month or so."
"Next month or so? But by then..." Simon began.
"She might be too late, my grandfather might already be dead," Blair
interjected softly. "I know, but there's nothing I can do about it. I'll leave
messages with every friend she has there, but I'm not going to wait."
Jim nodded, "Okay, that's settled then. I have a couple weeks vacation
coming, so I'll take them now. That is, if that's okay with you, Simon?"
The black man leaned back on his chair, "Yeah, it's okay. Trodat's case is
closed. I can assign any new cases to other detectives. Things have been kind of
slow, so it won't be too bad."
Blair turned to his partner, seeming somewhat surprised, "You want to go with
"Of course, Chief! You didn't think I'd let you go through all that alone,
Blair smiled gratefully at the older man, his heart missing a beat at the
love he could see in Jim's sky blue eyes, "Thanks, man. I appreciate it."
"Maybe you should call your grandmother and tell her you're coming?" Simon
Blair cleared his throat, "I guess I should," he replied, forcing his eyes
away from his lover's with a regretful sigh.
"Use my phone. It'll allow you more privacy than the bullpen. We can wait
outside," Simon rose from his chair.
"Thanks, Simon. Actually, I'd like Jim to be here... If that's okay with you,
Simon nodded, understanding Blair's need to have his best friend with him.
"I'll be with Rhonda."
Once the Captain left his office, the young man took a deep breath.
"Ready?" Jim queried softly, caressing his lover's silky curls after checking
to see if the blinds were closed.
"As I'll ever be, man, as I'll ever be..."
Blair dialed the number written on the letter and listened to the ringing
until finally a female voice answered on the other end, "Hello?"
"Uh, hi. Is this Anna Sandburg?"
"Yes, who's speaking?"
"Blair!" she sounded extremely happy to hear from him. "I see you got my
"Are you coming to visit us?" the voice on the other side seemed uncertain
all of a sudden.
Blair nodded, although she couldn't see, "Yes."
"Good! How about you come next Saturday? How long can you stay?"
"Saturday's fine. And I can stay for two weeks. Would that be okay?"
"Excellent! And Naomi?" Anna's voice wavered as she mentioned her daughter's
"She's in Brazil right now, I'm not sure I'll be able to reach her. But I'll
leave a message with some of her friends."
He could hear Anna's sad sigh clearly, "Oh, okay. I'll be waiting for you
"Uh, Mrs. Sandburg?"
"Anna, please. What is it, Blair?"
"Can I bring a friend? My partner's on vacation and..."
"Of course he can come!" she interjected and Blair could almost feel her
smile through the line. "I'd be more than happy to meet your partner too," there
was a pause. "Blair, thank you. I know it would've probably been easier to
ignore my letter than to have to face this. It means a lot to me."
"It's okay. So, exactly where is Wolf Point and how do we get there?" Blair
queried, causing Anna to laugh. They spent the next few minutes making all the
necessary plans until Blair finally nodded. "Okay, I think I have enough
information. See ya Saturday, Anna. I'll call later and let you know what time
we'll be arriving."
"Right. I'll be waiting. Thank you again, Blair. Bye."
Blair hung up and sat down with another shuddering breath while Jim called
Simon back. Once he was back inside, Blair faced him.
"Simon, will it be okay for Jim to take the next two weeks off? I mean, I
know you said yes, but we didn't actually agree on when he could take the..."
"Blair," Simon interrupted the nervous babble, his tone soft. "It's okay, I
already said yes. But I expect you two to finish up all the late paperwork for
the rest of the week," he remarked with a smirk.
Jim muttered something unintelligible, rolling his eyes, but he was grinning
at his lover. Blair was unable to stop from grinning back, ignoring the fact
that they were both in the middle of Simon's office looking like complete fools.
"Hey, Beavis, Butthead! What are you two still doing standing there?! Back to
work, gentlemen!" Simon resisted the urge to roll his eyes as his best team
suddenly began to laugh like the cartoon characters. "Oh, brother!..." but he
couldn't help the chuckle that escaped his control. "Shoo!"
With a final smirk at his mock-glaring Captain and friend, Jim followed Blair
out to the bullpen. Time to drown in paperwork.
Wolf Point turned out to be in Roosevelt County, Montana. They arrived a
little after lunch and decided to rent a truck to drive around town. After
driving twice through the same block, Jim swore under his breath.
"Can't find the right street. We'll have to stop and ask for directions."
"There's a restaurant," Blair pointed out as the sidewalks were deserted. "We
can ask there, Jim."
They parked the truck and walked inside the establishment. Being
mid-afternoon there was no one around, with the exception of two men who seemed
to be caught in a heated discussion.
"You can't do this, Bill!" one of the them, a young man about Blair's age,
snapped angrily at the other one.
Bill turned around and faced the young man, "Look, Shane, I'm sorry. I really
am. I didn't want to just quit on you, but I can't do this anymore. I just
"But you can't leave, damnit! I have no one else to take your place,
especially on such a short notice! I can't run the restaurant by myself!"
"I know, and I wish it didn't have to be this way. But I have my own family
to think about. This place is sinking to the ground and you know it, Shane. Sell
it to Boyden and end this once and for all! You know he'll give you a good price
"No!" Shane growled in frustration. "This restaurant was my parents' dream
and I am not going to give it up to that bastard without a fight!"
Bill shook his head sadly, "You can't fight him forever, Shane. Boyden's
already winning. People are scared to come here. Boyden has been threatening to
do some hurting if anyone dares to eat here. You know the crowd is getting
thinner by the day! And then there was the poison in the milk we had delivered,
the brick someone threw from a passing car that almost killed that little girl
sitting beside the window... Give it up, man. It's not worth it."
Having said that Bill left, leaving Shane standing dejectedly in the middle
of the room, eyes looking down desperately at the marble floor beneath his
Jim cleared his throat, "Excuse me?"
Shane turned to them and for the first time the two partners got the chance
to have a good look at him. He had wide jade green eyes and long, curly hair
that ended just below his shoulders, so dark it had blue highlights shining on
Shane threw them a suspicious glare, "If you're working for Lewis Boyden, you
better just turn around and leave. He's wasting his time. I'm not selling this
"We don't work for anyone. We just came to ask for directions and couldn't
help but overhear. Is everything okay?"
Shane sighed wearily, "Yeah, I guess. Bill and I were the only ones working
here at the moment. I cooked, he waited tables and did the dishes. Don't know
how the hell am I going to manage tonight without him... I'm sorry, you have
nothing to do with my problems. Where do you want to go?"
"Anna Sandburg's house."
Shane's face lit up with a huge smile, "Anna? Now, there's a classy lady! She
and her husband are some of my best customers! Come on, I'll show you how to get
He took them outside and explained the way. As it was, they weren't that far
away. Thanking the young man and wishing him luck, they went in search of
Blair's grandparents house.
Jim parked in front of the Sandburgs' house and turned off the engine. They
stayed silent for a moment, just enjoying each other's company, thankful yet
again at having been brought together. Jim held one of Blair's hands gently,
lacing their fingers together.
"Okay?" he asked softly, his tone one of concern.
Blair smiled a little shakily, "Yeah. I'm a little nervous, I guess. I can
feel the proverbial butterflies fluttering in my stomach. I don't know how to
react, man, I never had any other real family besides Naomi."
"That's to be expected, Blair. You never met them, don't know what they're
like... Just be yourself and everything will be okay," Jim reassured, squeezing
the hand he was holding.
Blair smiled lovingly at his partner. "Thanks, man. For the support, for
being here, for loving me... I don't know if I would've been able to do this on
Jim returned the smile, "Yes, you would. But I wanted to be here with you,"
he stated. Without caring who might see, he brushed his lips tenderly against
his lover's full ones. "Love you. Now come on, Chief. Time to go."
Blair blinked to clear the sudden fog in his mind, then took a deep breath.
He grabbed the bouquet of red roses they'd brought for Anna, got out the truck
and moved to the beautiful white house, his lover right beside him.
Blair rang the doorbell with some trepidation, bouncing slightly on his feet
as they waited for the door to open. The man who answered the door was about
Jim's height, with a slight frame, and about the right age to be Blair's
grandfather. Chocolate-brown eyes blinked at them from a gaunt face surrounded
by snow white hair.
"I'm... uh, Blair."
For a moment the man tilted his head in confusion as if he couldn't place the
name, then his face contorted in rage, "What the... Anna! Anna! Where the hell
The two partners looked stunned at each other, even as Anna Sandburg appeared
at the door. She was smaller than her husband, quite petite in fact, with a head
full of salt and pepper curls and deep blue eyes. It was easy to see who Blair
"What's the matter, Joseph? Oh... Blair?"
The young man nodded, suddenly uncertain. There was something quite not right
going on there.
Anna smiled and it was Naomi's bright, happy smile, "I wasn't expecting you
until later tonight!" she told them, as she hugged them both warmly. "You must
be Blair's partner."
"Jim Ellison, Ma'am," he nodded, and she chuckled.
"God, don't call me Ma'am, makes me sound old!" she laughed loudly, her eyes
shinning with amusement. "Anna is just fine."
Jim was powerless against her exuberance, "Okay then, Anna. We managed to
catch an earlier flight. I'm sorry, we probably should've warned you, but we
didn't have the time."
As he spoke, Jim moved closer to his lover in a protective stance. After that
initial outburst, Joseph Sandburg remained silent, standing by the door as he
watched his wife greet the two of them. And if looks could kill, both Jim and
Blair would've been six foot under in less than ten seconds.
"Here, these are for you," Blair gave her the roses with a smile.
"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed, smelling the roses for a second in obvious
delight. "They're beautiful! Thank you so much!"
Still unaware of her husband's reaction to the newcomers, Anna whirled around
to face him, her joy plain for anyone to see. Another thing she and Blair seemed
to have in common, very expressive faces.
"It's Blair, Joe," she chirped. "It's our daughter's son!"
"I have no daughter!" Joseph Sandburg growled, glaring at them. "What the
hell were you thinking woman?"
"No! I don't want him here, any of them! And you'd better not be bringing
this subject up again! Nao... my daughter died thirty years ago." He stormed
inside the house, somehow managing not to slam the door behind him.
Anna turned to her grandson, all joy gone from her eyes, only pain shining in
their depths now, "I'm sorry, Blair. This is all my fault. He wasn't expecting
you, I didn't tell him you were coming. I thought that if he just saw you..."
"It would make things easier," Blair understood her way of thinking.
"Yes. But I think the shock was too great. You shouldn't have gone through
that, my child. I'm so very, very sorry!..."
Blair tried to force a smile, "It's okay, Anna. At least we gave it a try."
She shook her head, "Don't give up on him yet, Blair, please. Let me talk to
him, try one more time."
"I saw an Inn, Homestead Inn, I think, in front of the place we went to ask
for directions. We could spend the night there," Jim suggested. Anna turned her
warm blue eyes on him, smiling with gratitude.
"That would be a good idea, thank you, Jim. Look, you guys, I'm not saying
Joe had the right reaction, and again I'm sorry for what happened. It was my
fault, but I've been desperate. I need to end this... hate in our family," her
eyes filled with tears. "I can't stand the idea of him dying still mad at Naomi,
without getting to know you. I have to do something!"
Blair hugged her tightly, "It's okay, grandma," he whispered, and heard her
chuckle in his ear. "We won't leave without trying a few more times. I promise."
"God... I can't believe I'm hugging my grandson, after all these years," she
sobbed softly, her arms tightening their hold. "No matter what happens, Blair, I
want you to stay in touch, and I want you to know that I never, ever stopped
loving Naomi. She was, is, and will always be my little girl. But as I was
saying, Joe's reaction wasn't all his fault, there's much more to this whole
story than you know about. Maybe if I tell you everything... it won't excuse
him, but maybe you'll understand better."
Her grandson wiped the few stubborn tears that fell from her eyes and kissed
her cheek, "Okay, how do you want to do it?"
"Meet me tomorrow at nine for breakfast at the McKenzie Restaurant. If you're
staying at the Homestead Inn, it's right across the street. The owner, Shane
McKenzie, is a good friend of ours. We'll be able to talk without any
Blair and Jim traded amused grins, "Yeah, we've met Shane. Tomorrow then?"
She kissed her grandson lovingly, her hand caressing his cheek, "My
grandson," she whispered, the awe clear in her voice. "My beautiful grandson...
I think Naomi did a good job raising you, my child. I'm so happy you are here!
So very, very happy!"
Anna's eyes filled again, and Blair hurried to embrace her once more, "So am
I, Anna, so am I. See you tomorrow."
She hugged Jim as well and then, with a last wave, walked inside the house,
leaving the two men there in the entrance staring at each other.
"Blair?" Jim looked worriedly at his lover. He wished he could've made Joseph
Sandburg behave differently toward his grandson. It must've hurt Blair badly to
hear those angry words. He smiled ruefully at himself. He was being
over-protective again, wanting to save his lover from pain, wanting to shield
him from other's wrong doings. Too bad life didn't always allow it. He'd gladly
take on the weight of the world, if it saved Blair from hurting.
Blair looked up at the concerned tone in his lover's voice, "I'm okay Jim.
Although, that certainly wasn't what I expected!" he huffed. "But the day wasn't
a total waste. I loved Anna, and like she said, even if things don't work out
with Joseph, I'll always be able to stay in touch with her. And I'm not going to
give up hope on him just yet either."
"Yeah. Shane was right, she is a classy lady. Come on Chief. Let's go to the
Inn and get ourselves a room. And then..."
"Then?" Blair purred seductively, enjoying the way Jim's nostrils flared.
"Then I'm going to undress you, bathe you, spoil you rotten with a
head-to-toe massage, feed you, and finally fuck you through the mattress.
Blair couldn't help but chuckle, "Jim Ellison, romantic extraordinaire!" He
almost ran to the truck, feeling some of his sadness easing a bit at Jim's
amused chuckle. Things could have definitely been worse. He could have been
At nine sharp the next morning they were at McKenzie's Restaurant waiting for
Anna to show up. Since it was Sunday, only two or three tables were full, giving
them plenty to pick from. Thinking that the conversation would undoubtedly be
emotional, the two men opted for a secluded table by the farthest wall.
Shane approached their seats, a happy smile on his face, "Hey, guys! Good
morning! Did you find the Sandburgs' house okay yesterday?"
"Hey, Shane! Yes, we did. Thank you. How did you manage alone last night?"
Shane grimaced. "I was up until 2 am cleaning this place. Thank God I live
above the restaurant or I wouldn't even have bothered going home."
"That bad, huh? Can't you find someone to replace Bill?"
"Not in this town! Everyone's afraid of what Lewis Boyden might do if they
come to work for me," Shane shrugged helplessly. "Excuse me, new customers."
They watched as he moved to another table to greet a couple and take their
"That sucks, man."
"Yeah, it does," Jim agreed, his brow creased in thought. "I might pay a
visit to this Lewis Boyden guy today. I can't do anything officially, but maybe
having someone in his face will make him back off. And the Sheriff's office
isn't out of the question either."
Blair smiled tenderly, his hand caressing his lover's thigh under the safety
of the table, "You just can't help yourself, can you?"
Jim didn't pretend to misunderstand. He grinned sheepishly, "I just don't
like seeing people being pushed around. If Shane doesn't want to sell, it's his
"It's okay, Jim. That's one of the reasons why I love you."
"Yeah? What other reasons are there?" Jim joked, but before Blair could give
him the wanton reply shining in his eyes, Anna walked up to them and sat down at
"Sorry I'm late," she sounded a little breathless. "But I ran into Mrs.
Davenport. I swear, that woman should work for our local newspaper. She knows
everything about everyone!"
Shane approached the table as he saw her, "Anna! Nice to see you again! How's
"Fine," she replied, her smile clearly forced, and Shane nodded in
understanding. "And how's everything going with you? The restaurant?"
Shane made a face, "You don't want to know, Anna, believe me!" then he smiled
again. "What can I get you nice folks?"
They ordered breakfast. Jim waited until the young man was out of hearing
range to ask Anna, "What's the deal with this Lewis Boyden character?"
She frowned unhappily, "He and his brother Tom came to Wolf Point about five
years ago. Apparently he had some capital and decided to invest in the real
estate business. Pretty soon he was established and ended up staying in our
town. I'm not sure he uses legitimate ways to get what he wants, though. There
are rumors about blackmail, beatings, strange accidents... and I've always been
a believer that where there's smoke, there's fire. About two years ago he
decided Wolf Point needed a big shopping mall and set about to buy every
building in this block, the perfect location for his shopping mall. According to
him, of course."
"Isn't this town too small for something that ambitious? You have a shopping
mall already, we saw it when we arrived yesterday."
"Precisely! We're under three thousand inhabitants and between the mall we
have already and the traditional shops, it's more than enough. The worst part is
how this is dividing the town. The ones in favor of progress want the new mall,
the small business owners are afraid another big surface is going to make them
lose clientele. Then there are others, like Shane, whose businesses are their
only means of survival."
"He really loves this place," Blair observed.
"True. His parents died in a car accident last year. This place was their
pride and joy, so Shane decided to keep it open. It hasn't been easy though. No
one could prove it, but Boyden has tried to sabotage the restaurant a few times.
Someone threw a brick that crashed through the window out of a passing car. A
little girl was hit with it on the head and nearly died. I thought Shane was
going to die of guilt. He almost gave up and closed this place. Joseph and I had
a hard time convincing him to keep it going."
"Oh, man... Poor Shane," Blair muttered, angry at what money and power made
"Anyway, soon after Boyden began to buy the buildings in this block, the
rumors about his methods began again. Sheriff Ashwood has been trying to get
evidence against him, but no one's come up front and admitted to having been
threatened or whatever. And without those statements..."
"He can't do a thing," Jim finished for her.
"Exactly!" she replied excitedly. "I hate to see Shane go through all this.
His parents were good friends to us, we were there when he was born... He's like
The two partners nodded in understanding. It was hard to see someone go
through so many problems while being helpless to lend a hand. Jim thought he was
definitely going to have a word with Lewis Boyden later in the day.
Anna turned to her grandson, her mind already on another subject, "Blair, I
tried talking to Joe again last night, but..."
"He didn't change his mind," Blair guessed.
She sighed wearily, "I'll keep trying though. I refuse to just give up. I
swear, that man's as stubborn as a mule! Something, I might add, he and Naomi
have in common! They're so much alike, it's scary."
"What's wrong with him?" Blair asked suddenly, in a rather blunt way.
Anna turned devastated ocean blue eyes on her grandson, "Cancer," she replied
softly, her eyes beginning to mist. "We found out about three months ago. In
spite of his age Joe has always been a very active person, he was in very good
shape physically. All of a sudden, he began to get tired a lot, even when he
wasn't doing anything strenuous. Then came the occasional dizziness, the trouble
breathing, weight loss and abdominal pain," she sighed. "Took me nearly a month
to persuade him to go to the doctor and even so, I had to force him," Anna shook
her head, seemingly unaware of the tears rolling down her cheeks. "By then it
was too late. The doctors discovered the cancer in the lung and kidney area, but
it's spreading throughout his whole body."
Blair tried to swallow around the lump in his throat. He was suddenly
grateful for Sentinel senses and the knowing hand rubbing soothingly over his
back. Bless you, Jim.
"Couldn't he do some kind of treatment? Chemo maybe?"
"We discussed it. The doctors told us this is a rare kind of cancer, very
aggressive. They said chemotherapy would probably increase Joe's life span for a
year at most. That night we had a long talk about it. We knew what chemotherapy
did to the human body. Joe decided it wasn't worth it, that he'd rather have
three months nearly pain free, able to live a relatively normal life, than
having to suffer through that torture for just a few more months. It was a...
terrible decision to make, but I couldn't deny him that. I love him. We've been
spending these months like we're on a second honeymoon. I want to make him as
happy as he can be before he..." she sobbed softly. "Before he dies. And I'll
always have these memories, good ones. Not awful memories of Joe connected to
some machine, his face contorted in pain. I wanted him to die f-free..." she
couldn't go on, crying openly now, so Blair rose from his chair and embraced
her, his own eyes shinning with unshed tears.
"Oh, Anna..." he whispered. "I wish it didn't have to be this way, that I
could help somehow..."
She took a shuddering breath and backed away a little, her eyes locking with
Blair's, "You are helping, Blair. You're here. I can't tell you how that makes
me feel. Thank you," her gaze turned to Jim's as well. "Thank you both."
Blair sighed sadly, "God, I wish I'd known sooner, maybe things could've been
"Blair, what did your mother tell you about us?"
Blair gazed into the depths of the blue eyes so much like his own, knowing in
his heart that the answer he was about to give wasn't the whole truth, "She said
you threw her out when she got pregnant."
Anna's shocked gasp was confirmation enough, Naomi had lied to him. "She told
you that? Oh, God!"
"What happened all those years ago, Anna?"
She just shook her head, "It's not that simple, Blair. Maybe it was our
fault, maybe we did throw her out in a way. Maybe it was because we were parents
so early ourselves and we didn't know how to raise a child, I don't know. I'll
always regret the way things happened, how they turned out," she sounded
incredibly sad and exhausted. "She was never like the other kids her age, you
know? Was always too independent, too headstrong like her father. She never
listened to anyone, always had to do what she thought was right no matter what
everyone else thought about it."
"That's Naomi all right," Jim chuckled. Under that easy going way was a
strength Jim had only seen in Blair before. It was very deceiving. People saw
the hippie and overlooked everything else. A mistake he and Simon had made more
"When she was in her teens things got worse. Naomi and Joe fought like cats,
always at each other's throats, too much alike for either of them to back down.
When she turned to all that hippie stuff, we almost died. You have to
understand, we didn't understand that way of thinking, of living. It was too
foreign for both of us. We were raised in a very strict environment. And Naomi
didn't make it any easier on us. She was never home, and when she did come home
it was in the middle of the night. We never saw her with the same boy twice,
never knew where she was... Joe found some pot in her room and tried to punish
her by grounding her. She escaped by the window and disappeared for days."
Jim whistled. He knew Naomi tended to be wild, but this was a surprise.
"Then there was the time she got involved in a peace protest and ended up
getting arrested for hitting what she called a 'pig'," Anna sighed wearily. "I
thought Joe was going to have a stroke when the police called us at 4 am that
night. We thought... we thought she was hurt or worse, we were scared out of our
minds. So when Joe went to get her, I guess he was a bit too high strung. They
had a terrible fight and stopped speaking altogether. The final straw was when
she proudly announced she was pregnant and didn't know who the father was."
"Joe decided enough was enough. He forbade her friends from coming around our
house, locked her in her room and found a local boy to marry her and raise the
child with her."
"She must've loved that!" Blair smiled.
"She broke everything in her room," Anna nodded, sharing the smile with her
grandson. The smile vanished as she proceeded. "Then she packed a bag and
disappeared. Left a note saying she wanted her child raised in love, not in a
place resembling a prison. We tried everything to find her, called everyone we
could think of -- friends, relatives... no matter how insane, we tried it. After
a while Joe was ready to just about forgive her for everything she'd done and
what she hadn't either. Each time we managed to contact one of her new friends
she'd already be gone, and after some time we completely lost track of her. We
even put ads in some newspapers," she shrugged. "Then we gave up. And little by
little, Joe's sorrow over losing her became anger. To a point he doesn't even
mention her name anymore. We know she kept in touch with a few of her cousins,
it was through one of them that we learned she'd had a son called Blair, but no
matter how many times we called and pleaded with them, none ever told us where
she was staying."
The partners remained silent for a while, digesting what they'd been told.
After what was becoming an awkward pause, Anna asked, "Think she'll come?"
"I have no idea, Anna. Depends on if she gets the messages I left for her. I
"So do I. The past doesn't matter anymore. I just want us together, I want
Joe to see her at least one more time before it's too late." Pulling herself
together, she rose from her chair. "I have to get going now, I'm afraid. There's
a Town Hall meeting about the mall and I want to be there. What will you two be
"I was planning on going to have a word with Lewis Boyden, but he'll probably
be at the Town Hall meeting." Jim told her.
Anna chuckled and shook her head, "I don't think so! Shane tried to flatten
his face during the last meeting. Even knowing Shane isn't going to be there, I
don't believe he'll chance it. A lot of people don't like Lewis. What about you,
"Well, since Jim'll be busy with Boyden, I thought I might lend Shane a hand
around here. What do you think, Jim?"
The older man nodded with a smile, "Good idea Chief. I'll meet you here when
I get done, 'kay?"
Anna kissed them both on the cheek, "And I'll come by later myself, to see
how things are going. Don't lose hope, Blair. It might not look like it now, but
your grandfather is a good man and he'll come around, I promise."
The young man nodded, "It's okay. I'm a patient man," he stated, ignoring
Jim's amused snort. "I'll wait."
And he would. For as long as it took, he promised himself.
Finding Boyden's office wasn't hard at all. The first person Jim questioned
about it as he stepped out of McKenzie's Restaurant supplied him with the
directions. The building was one of the most modern ones in Wolf Point. Boyden's
office was on the fifth floor. The elevator doors opened into a large hall where
Jim spotted a young black man sitting at the reception desk dressed somewhat
shabbily for his job. The tight black jeans and Hustler t-shirt were definitely
not what Jim thought of as appropriate attire for the receptionist of a company
such as Boyden's.
"Good morning, Sir. How can I help you?" the young man queried politely. "If
you're looking for Catherine, she called in sick today."
"The receptionist. My brother couldn't find a replacement on such short
notice, so he called me instead. I'm cheaper too," he chortled, and extended his
hand. "Tom Boyden. So, what can I do for you?"
Tom was about thirty, tall and well built, with short black hair and warm
cocoa eyes. And he was the kind of person you immediately took a liking to, Jim
thought ruefully, hoping his brother was just as friendly. Somehow he doubted
"Jim Ellison," he shook Tom Boyden's hand. "I need to talk to you brother,
"You're out of luck. He and his assistant, Eric, are going to be away the
whole day. I don't know where they are. Can I ask what you want with Lew?"
"I want to talk to him about Shane McKenzie," Jim replied, not missing the
sudden hammering of Tom's heart at the mention of Shane's name.
"Something wrong with Shane?" Tom asked, all humor gone from his face.
"No, he's fine..."
"Thank God!" Tom breathed softly, his relief obvious even without the aid of
"...But I need to talk to your brother about his attempts to buy Shane's
restaurant," Jim finished.
Tom sighed and shook his head, "It won't work. Believe me, I tried that
already. I love my brother, but I don't agree with what he's doing. I tried
talking some reason into him, but he's obsessed with that damn mall. He won't
listen to me. And he won't listen to you either."
"I think I'll try anyway."
Tom shrugged, "It's your time to waste, man. Try tomorrow around this time,
he should be here by then. Catherine will be easy to bypass, but be careful with
Lewis' assistant, Eric Bangle. The man's a creep!"
"Okay, thanks. Will you be here tomorrow?"
"Not if I can help it!" he chortled and Jim couldn't help grin back.
"Nice meeting you, Tom."
"Likewise, man. Any friend of Shane's..."
Jim nodded and left. Since having a talk with Lewis Boyden was out of the
question, it was time for him to get to know Wolf Point's Sheriff Ashwood.
Shane felt like things were finally beginning to improve for him. Blair's
help over lunch was unbelievable -- he was even better than Bill. He cooked,
washed the dishes, helped wait tables and still had time to chat with the
customers. It was so much more than he could have hoped for.
Shane looked up to see Joseph Sandburg at the entrance of the Restaurant,
sweeping the place with his eyes. He walked up to the older man.
"Hey, Joe!" he greeted his friend with a smile. "How are you?"
"Fine, fine," Joseph replied somewhat distractedly. "You haven't seen my
wife, have you? We were supposed to meet here for lunch."
"She didn't come back from the Town Hall meeting yet. Sit down somewhere and
wait for a while. It shouldn't be long now."
"What's he doing here?" Joseph pointed to Blair with his head.
"Helping out, thank God! He and his friend were here when Bill quit yesterday
and today he offered to lend me a hand. Blair has been here throughout lunch and
Jim went to have a word with Boyden. I don't know why they're doing it, but it
sure feels nice to have their support! I couldn't have made it through the
morning without Blair to help me. You sure have nice friends, Joe."
"He's not my friend," the older man remarked with a thoughtful expression.
"No? But he asked directions to your house yesterday and had breakfast with
"Has he told you his last name?"
"Umm, no. I kinda forgot to ask."
"His last name's Sandburg and he's my grandson. Can you ask him to bring me a
coffee while I wait for Anna?" Joseph queried, unconcerned of Shane's shocked
"Um... sure. He'll be right here."
Not two minutes later, Blair was handing Joseph the requested coffee,
fidgeting slightly under the old man's unreadable gaze.
"Sit down for a minute, will you, Blair?"
Blair obeyed, somewhat thrown by his grandfather's soft tone. After the scene
the day before, he hadn't been expecting that. He sat quietly in front of the
older man, watching as Joseph's curious eyes turned fully on him.
"Why are you here?"
Blair blinked in confusion, "Because Anna wrote..."
"No," the other interjected, his voice still soft. "Why are you here, working
The young man turned and focused on Shane for a second, watching as he spoke
with a few customers, his face lit by a huge smile, his hands and body moving
gracefully as he replied to something being asked.
"Because he needs help; because I'm here for two weeks and have nothing else
to do; because I hate power hungry bastards like Boyden; because it's right," he
shrugged slightly and looked back at his grandfather. "Take your pick."
"About my reaction yesterday..."
Blair nodded in understanding, "It's okay. Anna told me what happened all
those years ago. And I'll understand if you still refuse to have me around, but
none of this is or was my fault," He leaned forward. "And I know you probably
don't want to hear this, but the Naomi Anna told me about doesn't exist anymore,
hasn't existed in a long time. She's not the same person she was then, she's
changed a lot."
Joseph looked lost in his own troubled mind for a moment. "This isn't easy
for me, Blair," he finally said. "What she did... I won't say it was all her
fault, I know I'm not the easiest person to live with, but we left hundreds of
messages over the years with friends of hers, cousins, uncles, even school
colleagues she hadn't mentioned or talked to in years. I don't believe she never
got them, even if just a half a dozen. She could've called us and let us know
how she was, how you were doing."
"I know. And she shouldn't have lied to me about you either. But I know Naomi
and I'm sure she regrets it and has been regretting it for most of her life. But
we all make mistakes and we're all human, man. And you know, sometimes, no
matter how much it hurts, it's easier to live with that mistake than to face it
and try to make things better. Maybe she wanted to call and thought you wouldn't
forgive her for running away; maybe she was too ashamed of what she did; maybe
she didn't have the courage after a while. Whatever it was, you both have to let
it go and start over. Please... give us a chance. Give me a chance to get
to know you."
Joseph's heart melted at the pleading look in the bright blue eyes that gazed
into his, eyes that reminded him of his beloved Anna so much. He remembered the
pain of not knowing if his daughter and her child lived or died; he looked again
at the young man begging to be allowed to know his own family, his own
grandfather. Maybe it was time to give his hurt pride a rest and welcome his
grandson into his life.
"So, what kind of music do you like?" he asked, startling Blair with the
sudden change of topic.
"Uh... well, most kinds, I guess, just as long as it's good. I have some
amazing tapes with music made by some South American tribes, I use them to help
me meditate. Um, what about you?"
Joseph gave him an unexpected grin, "I'm a Rolling Stones kind of man
myself," he replied, and smiled as his grandchild laughed heartily. It was a
beautiful laugh, one that lit up Blair's whole face. Once again Joseph thought
how much he resembled Anna. And he felt glad of his decision to let go of the
past and enjoy his grandson. Now he could die without the regret of never having
met his daughter's child, and he knew that after he was gone Anna wouldn't be
When Jim finally arrived at McKenzie's Restaurant it was already
mid-afternoon and the place was deserted. He was pleasantly surprised to find
Anna and Joseph Sandburg sitting at a table with Shane and Blair, the four
Blair was positively glowing with happiness and Jim felt his heart miss a
beat. No matter how much his partner had dismissed it the day before, the cop
knew Joseph's reaction had hurt Blair deeply. He was glad to see that things
seemed to be changing between them.
"Hey, Jim!" Blair grinned as the Sentinel approached the table. "How did it
"Boyden wasn't there. I talked to his brother."
"You talked to Tom?" Shane seemed a little flushed suddenly, and Jim noticed
with interest that the young man's heart picked up speed as he mentioned Tom
"Yeah. Seemed like a nice guy."
"He is," Anna confirmed. "Nothing like his brother at all. He's been trying
to convince Lewis to stop that shopping mall idea, but it's no use."
"And the Sheriff?" Blair asked as Jim sat down next to him.
"I liked him. He really wants to get his hands on Boyden, but without
"Are you going to try Boyden again tomorrow?" Blair queried, although he
already knew the answer.
"Yes. I may be out of my jurisdiction here, but I still want him to know
someone's keeping an eye on him."
Shane smiled, "I don't think it will work, but thank you both for what you're
"No need to thank us, man," Blair grinned. "It just gives new meaning to the
motto 'to serve and protect.' I serve, he protects," he chortled, laughing out
right with the others as Jim groaned at his bad pun. Things were looking good,
real, real good.
Dinner was over and the restaurant was long deserted at last. Shane was
cleaning up the place as he waited for his love to show up. And as usual, he
thought with a rueful smile, his love was late. He heard the door opening and
swiveled around with a smile, but to his disappointment, it wasn't who he'd been
"We're closed," he said.
"I know." one of the two huge, bulky men blocking the entrance to his
restaurant told him with a cold smile. They began to advance and something in
their faces made Shane move back.
"What do you want?"
"Not what, who," the second man said. "And the answer..." he drawled as he
pounded his right fist menacingly into his left palm. "...is you."
They lay in bed snuggled against each other after an intense lovemaking
session; Blair's head resting comfortably on the older man's shoulder, his hand
caressing the smooth chest beneath it.
"A penny for your thoughts," Jim whispered and could feel Blair's smile.
"I was just thinking about how the pieces suddenly all fell into place."
"What do you mean?"
"All that traveling Naomi and I did... I mean, don't get me wrong, it was
great to spend a whole summer with my uncle Tom driving the rig across country,
or spending some time with my cousins in Forth Worth checking out all the rodeo
action, even hanging around Robert and learning just which horse or team to bet
on," Blair quipped with a smile. "And going to other continents, all the
cultures and people we met... I wouldn't trade it for the world, but sometimes I
had this feeling that Naomi didn't really want to leave. It was more like she
had to leave. Now it all makes sense."
"She couldn't afford to stay in one place too long for fear her parents might
find her," Jim voiced the unspoken thought.
"Yeah. And to be honest, after what Anna told us, I wasn't expecting Joseph
to surrender this fast. But this afternoon was so cool, I'm really glad he
changed his mind about me. I could still feel him holding back, but at least
we're talking and getting to know each other."
"He's a good man," Jim ventured.
"Yes, he is. Naomi's leaving hurt him a lot, I get the feeling she was
everything to him, that's why he was so mad."
"There's a thin line between love and hate," Jim quoted and felt Blair nod
"Exactly. I don't think he ever hated her, but he was so hurt it was easier
to think she was dead. God, I do hope Naomi gets my messages before it's too
late! It would be so cool to see the three of them together again... Did you
notice the way they kind of adopted Shane? They took him under their care and
watch over him as if he's family. I think it's really sweet," Blair chuckled.
"You know, I have a feeling Shane was up to something tonight. I offered to stay
after dinner to help with the cleaning, but he told me I didn't have to,
practically threw me out of the restaurant!"
Jim tilted his head, listening, "He's still there, I can hear him talking to
someone," he frowned suddenly.
"What?" Blair asked, raising his head as he felt Jim's body tense up.
"There's something... Shit!" Rising from the bed in one swift move, Jim
donned his jeans rapidly and grabbing his gun, ran out the door.
"What the...? Jim!" jumping from bed as well, Blair put on his jeans and
followed his lover across the street and into Shane's place. He saw Jim bursting
into the restaurant and as he walked in seconds later was greeted to the sight
of Jim aiming his gun at two men. One of them was holding Shane's arms behind
his back allowing the other to hit the young man at will, without fear of
"Let him go," Jim growled, and Blair was relieved when after exchanging a
brief glance the two men released Shane and stepped back. "Blair, call Sheriff
Ashwood and tell him to come and pick up this garbage."
Blair made the call while Shane tied the criminals together under Jim's
watchful eye. Better safe than sorry.
"Who do you work for?" the cop queried, and was met with stony silence. Jim
shrugged at the two young men. He was supposed to be on vacation anyway. Let the
Sheriff deal with the two thugs.
Ashwood arrived promptly with two of his deputies not ten minutes after Blair
made the call. He shook everyone's hands with a friendly smile, "Good evening,
folks. Harry, John, take these two to the car. I'll be out in a minute," he told
They watched the criminals being taken away, then Ashwood turned to the
others, "You know, it won't do any good to arrest those two. It will be just
like the others before them. They never talk, never say who hired them, and most
of them are out on bail before we finish the paperwork."
"You mean you caught some of Boyden's goons before?" Blair queried,
Ashwood grimaced. "You mean 'alleged' goons. We never could prove they worked
for Boyden. And yes, we managed to catch a few of those bastards. And the end
result was always the same: every single one of them were outsiders, they were
never the same ones, none would say who paid them to do the job. It's a vicious
circle and I doubt these two will be any different," he sighed wearily, then
looked at Shane's somewhat battered condition. "Need someone to have a look at
those bruises, son?"
Jim shook his head. "I'll do it, Sheriff. Thanks."
Ashwood nodded. "In that case, I'll go and take care of those two.
After Ashwood left Jim turned his attention to Shane. The young man's
handsome face was already showing the signs of his close encounter with the two
men, the worse being a split lip and a rapidly darkening bruise on the left
cheek. Jim could only imagine how his body must look and feel like.
"You have a medical kit?" he asked.
"Behind the bar."
"Okay. Let's do something about those cuts and bruises."
Jim was almost done when Tom Boyden stumbled through the door, his mouth open
wide as if about to say something. He stopped short as he took in the scene
before him. Jim Ellison, the man he'd met that morning in his brother's office
-- barefoot, wearing tight black jeans with the top button undone, his chest
bare for the world to see and apparently caressing Shane's cheek lovingly. Tom
"What the hell is going on here?!" he growled, taking a menacing step closer
Before things could get any worse, Shane stepped in between the two men,
"Tom, take it easy! It's not what it looks like."
"What do you mean it's not..." he stopped suddenly. "What happened to your
face?" Tom brushed the bruised cheek tenderly.
"Two bastards just walked in here and tried to make pancakes out of me. What
do you think?" Shane snapped, then sighed at Tom's hurt expression. "Damn..." he
pulled the black man to the kitchen. "Excuse us." he said to Jim and Blair.
As soon as he closed the door, Shane embraced Tom eagerly, keeping him in his
arms until he felt his lover relax against him.
"God, I missed you..." Tom exhaled softly, his arms embracing Shane's slender
frame. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Jim and Blair got here just in time to stop the creeps. I'm sorry I
snapped at you, I didn't mean it," he gave Tom a mock-pout. "And you're late,
"Sorry. Lew dragged me to another boring business dinner. He's still trying
to get me to join the company," He paused, as if weighing what to say next.
"Tom, I want to tell him about us. I love you and I want the whole fucking world
Shane sighed sadly. "Love, we talked about this already. What do you think
will happen if your brother finds out you're in love with another man,
especially if he hears that man is me? You think I enjoy this situation? Having
to meet in secret, never being able to go anywhere together, never being able to
spend any time together..." He looked away with an odd expression and Tom
He used his hand to cup Shane's chin and raised his head until they were
locking gazes, "What's wrong, Shane?" Tom queried gently, his thumb sliding over
his lover's pouty lips.
Shane flushed a little in embarrassment, "I... It's just that this is getting
too intense for my liking. Before, Lewis was just trying to ruin my business.
You know how much I hated what he was doing, hell, I nearly gave up when that
little kid almost died, but... now he's making it personal. The idea that he
wants to hurt me..."
Tom suddenly grabbed hold of Shane's dark coal hair with both hands,
possessively, their faces inches from each other, "Listen to me! I love you, I
won't let anything happen to you, I won't let him hurt you! I promise, Shane..."
he vowed fiercely, and Shane found himself believing the words somehow.
They kissed tenderly, their hands roaming each other's bodies until Tom
brushed across a particularly painful bruise causing Shane to whimper softly.
"Sorry, Love. Come on, let's get rid of your guests and get you in bed. I'm
spending the night, no way am I going to let you out of my sight tonight. I'll
make up some excuse for Lew tomorrow, your health is more important."
They said their goodbyes to Jim and Blair, and after locking the restaurant,
went up to Shane's apartment on the first floor. Tom undressed his lover
tenderly, kissing every bruise to make it better. Shane enjoyed the feeling of
being pampered too much to get annoyed at his lover's whimsical mood. He just
allowed the mother hen routine, then sighed happily as they climbed into the bed
and Tom spooned behind him, his arms around him to keep him safe. Shane soon
fell into an exhausted sleep; he never noticed Tom standing guard and watching
over him the whole night.
Back in their room at the Inn, Blair settled down on the bed with his own
"Man, what a night!"
"Yeah," Jim mumbled, his head resting comfortably on his lover's shoulder.
"You know, I suddenly feel like a character on the Westside Story but with a
twist," he chuckled ruefully.
"Tom and Shane are lovers."
Blair looked down at him, surprise written all over his face. "You're
"Oh, my God! How did you know...never mind, Sentinel senses. I take it Lewis
Boyden doesn't know about it?"
"I didn't want to pry on them, but I think he doesn't know, yeah. If he did,
things would be even worse for Shane."
"Damn... It can't be easy for them! Still going to talk to Boyden tomorrow?"
"Oh, yeah! I want to have a word with him now more than ever. It's obvious he
sent those guys tonight to beat Shane up, he's turning up the heat."
"Come by the restaurant when you're done, I want to know what happened. I
promised Shane I'd help out the whole day."
Jim bit him gently on the junction between neck and shoulder, "I will.
They snuggled together and were soon fast asleep, the worries of the day
forgotten in slumber.
The next morning Jim and Blair had breakfast with the Sandburgs at Shane's
place. McKenzie was grinning from ear to ear in spite of multiple injuries and
the two partners couldn't help chuckle at the obvious reason; they'd seen Tom
leaving the restaurant wearing the same clothes from the day before. It didn't
take a detective to realize that the younger Boyden had stayed the night.
Halfway through the morning, Jim left to have his long awaited conversation
with Lewis Boyden. As he said, Tom wasn't there. In his place was a woman who
Jim guessed was the Catherine Tom mentioned the day before.
"Good morning. How can I help you?" she greeted softly, a fake smile
plastered on her face.
"My name's Jim Ellison, I'm here to see Lewis Boyden."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No, I don't. That's his office, isn't it?" Jim queried, already moving
towards the mentioned door.
"Wha...? Sir, you can't go in!" She tried to stop him, but it was too late.
In two easy strides Jim burst through the office door where two men stood up to
"What's the meaning of this?" a tall black man standing by the desk demanded.
By the imposing way he stood and the other man's submissive body language, that
had to be Lewis Boyden.
"I'm sorry, Mr. Boyden, I tried to stop him..." Catherine began with a whine.
Boyden shooed her away with a wave of his big hand, "It's okay, Catherine.
You can go."
After the receptionist walked out, Boyden turned his chocolate brown eyes on
Jim, "Please sit down, Mr. Ellison. What can I do for you?"
"I'd rather stand, thank you," Jim replied, as he watched Boyden and Bangle
settle back into their seats. The Sentinel raised an eyebrow quizzically, "You
know my name." Somehow it wasn't a question.
Boyden smirked, "News travels fast and Wolf Point's a small place. Nothing
much happens in this town without me knowing. Besides it's not every day that
Joseph Sandburg's long-lost grandson comes for a visit."
"So you must know why I'm here."
"To talk about my attempts to buy McKenzie's Restaurant."
"Attempts that seem to be a little too forceful, Mr. Boyden," Jim commented,
his steel blue eyes never leaving the black man's dark ones.
The other man in the office, a Hulk Hogan look-alike squeezed into an Armani
suit, jumped to his feet, his face red with fury, "Just what do you mean by
Boyden glared at his assistant, "Eric!" his hard voice echoed through the
room. "You have to forgive my assistant, Mr. Ellison. He tends to get upset very
easily. Those 'forceful' attempts as you call them are just rumors. I never did
any of those things I'm being wrongfully accused of. I admit I want to buy
Shane's place and maybe I've been a little... intense in my negotiations with
him, but that's all. All the rest is just vicious rumors started by those who
"Call it what you like. The fact is Shane doesn't want to sell and that's his
final word. Sheriff Ashwood has his eye on you and for as long as I am in Wolf
Point so will I. Remember that, Mr. Boyden," Jim nodded his head in a parting
greeting. "Good day, gentlemen."
Silence reigned in the office for a few minutes. Then Eric walked over to the
window and watched as Ellison crossed the street and drove away, "We have to do
something, Mr. Boyden," he said.
"I agree, Eric. Are you sure the two men arrested last night won't talk?"
"Yes, I paid them enough to shut up. They know better than to double-cross
"Good, good... Find someone else for tonight. Someone... nasty," Boyden
finished with a grin. "I want Shane McKenzie dealt with once and for all."
Bangle smiled back, "I know just the person for the job. Consider it done,
Mr. Boyden. By tomorrow afternoon the McKenzie Restaurant will be yours." He
paused for a moment. "And this Cascade cop?"
"He has no jurisdiction here and Ashwood has nothing on us. I own Wolf Point
and I want to keep it that way. No one will stop me or get in my way." Boyden's
eyes had a hard glint in their depths. "No one."
Shane put up the 'Closed' sign and collapsed on a chair with a grateful sigh,
"God, I thought dinner would never be over!" he huffed, grinning happily at
Blair who was seated next to him looking just as tired and just as happy. Both
their grins disappeared as they took in the cleaning job ahead of them. The
restaurant looked a mess.
"Shit, might as well get to it," Blair muttered, silently cursing his lover
for offering to drive the Sandburgs home after they all had dinner at Shane's.
They could really use another pair of hands to help out.
The two young men rose and were preparing for the hard task ahead when Tom
Boyden crushed through the door, "Shane, you have to get out of here!" he said
in a frantic voice.
Tom stood in front of them panting with exertion, "I heard... Lew and Eric
talking over dinner. Eric hired someone to get rid of you tonight after the
restaurant was closed."
"We're closed now, that means... Oh, man!" Both Blair and Tom turned to see
why Shane had suddenly gone white as a sheet. They found themselves face-to-face
with a monstrous looking man aiming a handgun at the three of them.
"Too late," Tom whispered brokenly.
The man grinned, "Hello, boys! Name's Riche Caddy, at ya service. I wasn't
expecting such a crowd, but you know what they say, the more the merrier."
"What do you want?" Shane queried with a strange feeling of deja-vu. He'd
asked that exact same question just the night before to the two men that had
beaten him up.
"Well, let's see. I was hired to kill you, but I'm easy. If you pay me double
what I was offered before, I might just let you all live."
"I was paid 10,000 dollars, so for you I'll make it 20,000 dollars."
Shane grimaced, "I can't get that kind of cash. Business hasn't exactly been
The man raised his gun, "Too bad then, isn't it? I'll just have to kill you."
"Wait!" Blair interjected frantically. "Uh... My... my grandparents, yeah, my
grandparents have money. They can get you the 20,000 dollars, maybe even more."
He was prepared to bullshit the guy some more -- after all, no way in hell
someone would have that kind of cash available these days and all the banks were
closed, but the man got a thoughtful expression on his face then simply nodded.
Apparently he was big on muscle, not on brain. He moved to the bar where the
phone was resting, his eyes never leaving the three young men. He practically
threw the phone at Blair.
Blair made the call, silently thanking his good fortune at having memorized
his grandparents' number. He listened as it rang, hoping Jim was still there,
then Anna answered the phone, "Hello?"
"Hi, it's Blair. Is grandpa Jim still there?" he tried to keep the wavering
from his voice, but wasn't completely successful. Hard to do that with a gun
aimed at your face, he thought ruefully.
"Grandpa Jim? Child..." something in Blair's voice must've registered,
because when she spoke again, she sounded frightened. "Is everything okay?"
"No. I just need to talk to him."
"Oh, God... He's talking with Joe, I'll go get him, Blair, hang on."
Not two seconds passed before Jim's worried voice came through the phone
line. Blair suddenly felt safe. As long as he could talk with Jim, things would
"Blair, what's wrong?"
"Well, there's this guy here at the restaurant, he was paid to kill Shane,
but if we pay him double of what he was given before, he'll let us live. I was
thinking you could pay him, grandpa."
"Shit, Blair," Jim's voice choked. "What's with you and psychos?" A deep
breath, and Jim the cop was on the line, replacing Jim the frantic lover. "What
kind of fire power does he have? Is he alone?"
"Just one, grandpa. And yes."
"Right. One gun, and he's alone. Thanks, that should help us some. Hang on,
okay? I'll be there in a few minutes. Anna will call the Sheriff as soon as I
hang up. Just... don't do anything stupid, okay?"
"Right. He wants 20,000 dollars for the three of us."
"Three?" Jim queried, and Blair could almost see him frown.
"Me, Shane and Tom Boyden."
"Damn! I'm on my way, Chief."
"Uh... grandpa Jim?"
"I love you."
"I love you too, Blair. It'll be all right," Jim vowed gently, the love plain
to hear in his voice. "I promise."
"It's done," Blair told the man once he hung up. "Now we have to wait."
Unnerved by the slightly dazed look of the man that held them captive, the
three young men wisely sat quietly down close together to wait for help.
As soon as they arrived at the restaurant, and after making sure every
possible escape route was covered, Jim and Sheriff Ashwood began to think of
strategies to apprehend the man without hurting the hostages. The Sentinel had
lost precious time convincing Blair's grandparents to stay home and wait for
news. They were both worried sick about both Blair and Shane and had wanted to
come along. But having them there would only make things worse, and Jim had
finally managed to win the argument, promising to call as soon as he had freed
the young men.
A car pulled over and Lewis Boyden and Eric Bangle got out, cutting through
the gathering crowd to meet with Ashwood.
"What the hell is going on?" Lewis demanded. "One of your deputies called me
and said my brother had been taken hostage in some situation at McKenzie's
Ashwood nodded, "It's true. Shane, Tom and Joe's grandson, Blair, are inside
with a man holding them hostage at gun point."
"What? And what are you doing to do rescue Tom?"
"Whatever I can," Ashwood's voice turned hard. "To rescue him and keep
him and the others alive. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
Whatever he was about to say next was lost as the restaurant's door was
suddenly opened and the armed man walked out with Tom Boyden held against his
chest as a shield against the cops.
"I have hostages!" he shouted. "I want my money. Now!"
He took a couple of steps back, dragging Tom with him, but when the young man
began to struggle against his hold, the criminal lost what little patience he
had. "That's it, kid! Time to make an example out of you." He lowered the pistol
from Tom's temple to his leg and squeezed the trigger. Tom cried out as the
bullet hit him, then fell to the ground.
"Pick him up and carry him inside!" the big man ordered, and Blair and Shane
rushed to obey, the latter feeling as if his heart were about to stop as he
gazed at his wounded lover. If Tom died...
The two young men busied themselves tying a tourniquet on Tom's leg to keep
him from bleeding to death.
Out on the street, Jim and Ashwood lowered their guns with a curse, never
having had time to get a clear shot of the bastard to end the young men's
torment. Things could still get worse.
"My God..." Lewis whispered in shock, his eyes bright with unshed tears as he
turned to his assistant. "What kind of psycho did you hire? My brother..." his
voice broke on the last word. "Tom's the only good thing in my life, the only
thing that truly matters... You bastard!" he suddenly roared, his face inches
"I only did what you wanted!" Eric shouted back. "A nasty bastard to kill
Shane, that's what you said, isn't it? Well, Caddy's the sickest bastard I ever
met, an ex-con with no conscience. He was perfect! Not my fault that weakling
you call a brother got caught in the middle!"
Before things could get any worse between the two men, Sheriff Ashwood
approached them, a huge grin lighting up his face, "Gentlemen, you are both
under arrest. You just confessed to hiring that man to kill Shane McKenzie in
front of several officers of the law." he chuckled. "No getting out this time,
Lewis. Mr. Bangle, would you be so kind as to tell us the name of the man you
hired? It might save us some time."
"Richard Caddy," came the sullen reply.
"Thank you. Harry, take them away and read them their rights. I don't want
anything to go wrong with the arrest."
"Well," Ashwood told Jim after the two men were taken away. "Half the
problem's gone. I can't believe it was that simple. Especially after years of
trying to get Boyden to make a false move. Who would've thought his love for his
brother would be his downfall?" the Sheriff shook his head in perplexity. "Now
we need to get that guy to release the hostages without any more bloodshed."
Jim nodded wearily, "That's what I'm worried about, Sheriff," he muttered,
his senses straining to keep tabs on his lover. For the moment Blair was okay,
although his heart was hammering in his chest, but they still had to stop the
"Sheriff!" the criminal yelled from inside the restaurant.
"You have two hours to get me my money. After that I start shooting again."
"Right!" Ashwood turned to Jim. "What money is he talking about?"
Jim told him about his phone conversation with Blair and the Sheriff nodded
in understanding. "You have a very smart partner, Mr. Ellison. That money and
the man's greed are probably the only thing keeping them alive. Now if we can
only keep them that way..."
Time was ticking away at an unbelieveably slow pace for everyone involved in
the hostage situation. The cops tried to negotiate with the man, but Caddy
refused to answer the phone or to speak through the window. He remained seated
on top of a table in the back of the restaurant, his eyes resting on his
hostages, occasionally straying to the clock on the wall.
Blair and Shane watched helplessly as Tom grew weaker by the moment, both
sitting close to the injured man, both silently hoping the people outside
managed to get them out of that terrible mess before it would be too late.
"You tricked me," Caddy told Blair suddenly, his voice sounding oddly calm.
"Your grandparents can't have that much cash at home and the banks are
closed. You called the cops instead, didn't you? That's why they suddenly showed
up outside. Get up!" he ordered angrily. "Both of you, get up!"
"The two hours aren't up yet, maybe they'll..." Shane tried desperately.
"I won't fall for that again! I'm getting out of here and the two of you are
going to help me. Now, let's go!"
When the door of the restaurant opened anew, every law officer in the place
reached for their guns and aimed, Jim included. Maybe this time they'd get
Blair and Shane walked out first, slowly, side by side, Caddy hidden behind
"I want a car to drive out of here, or these two'll die!" Caddy shouted. "Do
you hear me, Sheriff?"
"I hear you, hang on a minute. I'll see what I can do."
"Make it fast!"
Blair peered over his shoulder, "What about us?"
"I'll let you go as soon as I'm safe," Caddy told them, but both Blair and
Shane could tell he was lying. The two young men locked gazes. They had to do
something before it was too late.
'Right', Shane suddenly mouthed and Blair frowned in confusion. Shane moved
slightly away from him, to his own right and Blair understood. 'Left' he mouthed
back and saw Shane nodding very lightly so Caddy couldn't see.
Blair looked straight ahead, his eyes finding Jim and locking with his
lover's, "Jim," he whispered Sentinel soft. "Get ready," he could see Jim's jaw
clenching as he understood Blair was up to something, then the cop said
something to the Sheriff and both men took careful aim. "Shane and I are going
to move away just about... Now!" Blair shouted and jumped to the left, as at the
same time Shane jumped in the opposite direction.
Caddy blinked as he found himself without his human shields, but by the time
his drugged mind told him to react it was too late. His shot was lost amidst the
confusion. Jim's was not. By the time everyone began to take stock of what had
happened, Richie Caddy lay dead on the ground.
Richie Caddy, it turned out, was an ex-con with a drug addiction and no money
to support it. It was already dawn when everything was finally taken care of and
Sheriff Ashwood allowed the two partners to go back to the Inn for some much
"Did you call your grandparents?" Jim queried as they were undressing for the
night. Or the day, he thought ruefully.
"Yeah. They were so relieved when they heard my voice... made me feel really
good, you know? Anyway, I swore I was okay, and that Shane was too, gave them a
short version of what happened and told them about Tom. We're going to meet them
in the afternoon and drive to the hospital to see Tom. Think he'll be okay?"
They snuggled down on the bed. Jim spooned behind his lover, surrounding the
sturdy body with strong arms. "Yes. You and Shane did a great job keeping Tom
from bleeding to death, and the hospital isn't too far. Plus Shane is with him.
Those two will be just fine," the Sentinel finished with a smile.
"Just like us," Blair grinned.
Jim chuckled, "Just like us. Sleepy?" he purred, his groin sliding enticingly
over his lover's bottom.
Blair chortled, "Not any more!"
He rolled over slowly, smiling up at Jim who was crawling languidly on top of
the younger man, blanketing him with his larger body.
"You know, Blair, one of these days we're going to have a little talk about
those stunts you pull to get yourself out of danger. Jumping out of Caddy's way
might not have worked if the man hadn't been drugged to his eyeballs."
"Hey, it was Shane's idea, not mine!"
"Right," Jim told him sarcastically. "I didn't see you arguing with him."
Blair grinned, "I couldn't, could I? Caddy would know something was up."
"Shut up," Jim ordered with a teasing smile, leaning over for a passionate
kiss. Blair was there with him, alive and pliant in his arms, and that was
enough. It would always be enough as long as they were together.
Their mouths met again in a slow, lingering kiss, their tongues dueling for
supremacy while Blair's hands traveled down his lover's flanks, down to the
powerful hips and thighs, taking the Sentinel to higher levels of arousal. Their
hard cocks brushed against each other, the touch inflaming them, and control was
a thing of the past. They rolled about in the bed, bodies entwined, wrestling
playfully, until Jim finally used his bigger bulk to pin his lover down.
Jim found his partner's mouth anew and nipped on that enticing full lower
lip, his tongue sliding over it sensually, dragging a small whimper out of
Blair. Jim released the lush mouth with a regretful sigh, then began nibbling
his way down Blair's neck, kissing and licking the musky skin, feeling as his
lover wrapped his arms around him, nimble fingers caressing his back.
"Jim..." Just a whisper, Sentinel soft, but it made the older man shudder.
Blair thrust his hips up against his lover's, frantic, wanting Jim to make
love to him. He moved his body against Jim's, flesh sliding over heated flesh,
stroking the taut chest with greedy hands, caressing the strong pecs, fingers
brushing over pebbled nipples.
Jim pushed down against Blair with his whole body, trembling as his lover
thrust back. They were both lost in delirious sensation, in the pleasure,
touching every part of the other they could reach, hands and mouths caressing,
lapping, sucking, nibbling, calves and thighs sliding together as body moved
Rubbing their bodies together with fierce passion, lips locked in a devouring
kiss, they drove each other closer to the edge until Jim's lips parted from
Blair's, his voice suddenly filling the room as he shouted his lover's name,
head thrown back, body rocking as he came, the shattering release shaking him
His fingers closed around Blair's still erect cock, pumping a couple of times
as his lover thrust into his hand. It was all it took for Blair to climax as
well, shuddering in ecstasy.
"If that was my punishment for going along with Shane's plan," Blair panted a
few seconds later. "I have to tell you, I think you're going about it all wrong,
"Moron," came the mumble from his lover. Jim was draped over Blair's smaller
form, their legs entwined, his head resting on Blair's shoulder.
The younger man snickered, and embraced his Sentinel, "I love you," he
"I love you too," Jim replied just before surrendering to his exhaustion, but
his lover didn't hear him; he was already fast asleep.
The phone disturbed them a few hours later. From the sun coming in by the
window, Jim guessed it was already midmorning.
"Hello?" he muttered, his voice rough from sleep.
"Jim, it's Anna. I'm at the hospital," her breath hitched. "Joe collapsed
during breakfast. The doctors told me the cancer has spread, that's what caused
the collapse. He had a complete system failure, his body is shutting down... Oh,
God! Jim, he's dying... my Joe is dying..." she began to cry earnestly and Jim
felt utterly helpless. It wasn't a feeling he was comfortable with. He was used
to reaching out, doing something, taking action. But not even him, with the
Sentinel gift given to him, could fight this terrible disease.
"It's okay, Anna," he said gently, with a calm he didn't really feel at the
moment. "I'm going to wake Blair up, we'll be there soon, I promise. Hang on
tight, okay, Sweetheart?"
He could hear her take deep, shuddering breaths in an effort to control her
emotions, "I'm okay, I just... Thank you, Jim. I'll be waiting."
Anna hung up and Jim turned to his peacefully sleeping lover, shaking him
gently, "Blair, wake up. Blair!"
"This better be good, Ellison!" came the mumble from under the covers.
"Come on, Chief, we have to get up."
Blair sat up and blinked sleepily, his eyes settling on his lover's pale face
and worried frown, "What's wrong?"
Jim took his hand gently in both of his, "Anna just called, Blair. Joseph is
in the hospital."
"Oh, God! What happened?"
"From what I understood, the cancer spread and caused his body to shut down.
Blair," Jim hesitated slightly, wondering if there was an easier way to say it.
He couldn't find it. "...he's dying."
Blair turned hurt filled eyes on his lover, "Jim..." he seemed to be pleading
for something, his blue orbs shining with unshed tears.
Jim hugged him tightly, sharing his lover's pain, "I know, Blair, I know...
We'll be okay, it's okay..." he rocked them together until Blair was calm enough
to get up and get dressed. Jim figured he must have broken every traffic law in
existence to make it to the hospital.
Blair's breath caught painfully as he walked into the hospital room and his
eyes fell on his grandfather's too still form resting on the impersonal white
bed. He looked so frail lying there, with all those wires and machines beeping
all around him.
Blair moved closer and reached gently for Joseph's cold hand, keeping it
secure between his own warmer hands.
The young man looked up and found his grandfather's shining eyes resting on
him. He tried valiantly to smile in an effort to hide his despair from the older
"Hey, there... thought you were sleeping."
"Nah," came the whispered reply. "I'm glad you're okay... we... I was worried
last night. I know... we talked on the phone, but... it's great to actually see
This time Blair's smile was genuine, if a little shaky, "I know. I could tell
how scared you were when I called. I... it meant the world to me, Joseph... to
know you cared, I mean..."
The older man closed his eyes and was silent for so long, Blair thought he'd
"Blair," Joseph finally whispered. "I think... I'd like it very much if you
called... me grandfather or grandpa if you prefer," he said, his eyes filled
"Okay," Blair choked, his vision blurring suddenly. He blinked the tears
away. "Shit... I'm sorry," he muttered, wiping a few rebellious tears from his
Joseph squeezed his hand weakly, "It's okay, Blair, honest... I suspect my
death will be a lot harder on all of you... I accepted the fact that I was dying
some... time ago... I had a good, long life... lived well... my only regret..."
he seemed to be tiring rapidly. "I need you to do me a favor... when you see
your... Naomi, tell her that... I never stopped loving her, that I forgive her
and hope she forgives me too, that... that it's okay..."
Blair nodded brokenly, completely incapable at the moment to stop the tears
that fell freely down his face. It wasn't fair! It wasn't supposed to be like
that! He was supposed to get to know his grandfather better, Naomi was supposed
to get there in time... He wanted to shout out his pain, to break something, to
cry until there were no more tears, to crawl somewhere and never come out again.
He wanted to make Joseph healthy again, he wanted a miracle to happen so that
everything would be okay once more. But nothing happened, nothing changed. No
miracle. Joseph was still lying in the hospital bed... dying.
"And Blair..." Joseph caressed his grandson's cheek with a thin, shaking
hand. "I'm damn proud of you... I couldn't have asked for a better grandson...
the way you help others, the way you care... I'm glad you came and... I love
Moved beyond words by the emotion he could see in the older man's eyes, Blair
leaned down and brushed his lips over his Joseph's forehead, "I love you too,
grandfather... I'm glad Anna wrote... I love you..."
Joseph brushed his fingers against Blair's cheeks, wiping away the fresh
tears. He smiled and nodded, a peaceful expression settling over his face.
"I'm going to sleep now. Call Anna for me?"
Blair nodded back, "Okay. I'll be back later to see you again, grandfather.
Sleep well," giving the older man another tender kiss on the forehead and
squeezing the hand he still held, Blair finally left the room feeling totally
drained and completely numb. Soon the numbness would disappear and the pain
would be unbearable, but for now it allowed him to function and help Anna
through her own pain. Jim would be there for him later when it was time for him
He wiped his face and took a deep breath before joining the others in the
deserted waiting room. As soon as she saw him, Anna rose and nearly ran to
"Okay?" she asked softly, her voice muffled by his shirt.
"Yeah," Blair sighed tiredly. "We talked a bit. He... said some stuff I
needed to hear. What about you?"
Anna nodded slightly, sighing in gratitude as they both felt Jim wrap his
arms around the two of them in silent support, "I knew this moment would come,
thought I was prepared, but still... it's so very hard!" she said fiercely. "I
love him so much, I don't want to let go..."
"I don't want him to die either, I've only just met you two. But... there's
nothing we can do," Blair said softly, feeling his eyes blurring again. "At
least there's no pain and... I don't know how to explain it, but I feel a sense
of peace coming from him... I think he's finally at peace with himself and what
happened with me and my mother," he took a shuddering breath. "God, I wish she
"Things don't always work as we want them to," Anna sighed and backed away
from the two men. "But you being here has been more than enough. And I can't
tell you what it means to me. Thank you both."
Blair kissed her gently on the cheek, "He wants to see you. Think you'll be
She smiled sadly, "Yes. I promise to call if it gets too hard."
They watched her walk silently into the room, then Jim turned his gaze on his
"Jim, would you do something for me?"
"Of course, Blair! What?"
"Kiss me... please?"
"Oh, God..." Jim moaned and embraced his lover gently, leaning down and
letting his mouth cover Blair's in a desperate kiss. They both poured every
emotion they were feeling into the kiss, the pain, the hurt, the anger, the
sadness, the helplessness...
It took them both a few minutes to realize they were no longer alone. When
they parted, they found themselves face-to-face with the woman standing frozen
at the room's entrance.
"Naomi!" Blair exclaimed, his voice a mix of dread and happiness.
Naomi stood before the two men, her usually animated face for once showing
only a blank expression.
"I take it this is a recent thing?" she asked in a casual tone, but Blair
thought he could see her lips twitching slightly.
The two lovers exchanged an embarrassed glance, "Pretty much, yeah," Blair
"Good," she stated finally, a grin crossing her face although it didn't quite
reach her eyes. "We'll have to talk about this later. And Jim, hurt my baby and
your ass is mine. But now... I went to the Inn and they told me you were here.
My father?" she asked in a pleading voice, chocolate irises bright with unshed
Blair took her hand tenderly, "Come with me."
He took Naomi to Joseph's room and knocked lightly on the door before peeking
inside. His grandfather was awake, talking quietly with Anna who sat by the bed,
holding his hand lovingly. They smiled at him.
"What is it, Blair?" Anna queried gently.
"I have a surprise for you." Blair held open the door, allowing Naomi to
enter the room.
"Naomi!" Anna shouted, rushing to her child and hugging her fiercely, both
mother and daughter crying brokenly. They never noticed Blair leaving the room.
"Oh, mom..." Naomi whispered, her own arms embracing Anna just as tightly.
"I'm sorry for everything, I'm so very sorry..."
They stayed locked in each other's arms until Anna run out of tears. She
pulled back regretfully, her eyes roaming over her daughter eagerly, "Naomi,"
she breathed softly. "You look wonderful!"
Naomi smiled sadly, "So do you, mom. And God, I never realized how much Blair
takes after you!" her gaze turned to the bed and the man lying there watching
her with an unreadable expression on his face. "Dad?" even to her own ears,
Naomi's voice sounded small and hesitant.
Joseph Sandburg extended a hand towards his daughter. It was all it took.
Naomi ran to him and fell on the bed, her head on her father's shoulder as she
hugged him as fiercely as she'd hugged her mother.
"God, I missed you so much... I'm so sorry..."
"Shh... it's okay, Naomi, everything's okay now, Butterfly," he soothed as he
caressed her head lovingly, his fingers carding through her silky hair. "I love
"I love you too," she raised her head and looked at Joseph, "Can you forgive
me? I've always regretted running away like that, but after a while it was
easier to just keep running than to come back and face you. All I could think
was how disappointed you had to be... I didn't have the courage to turn back and
I should've. I..."
Her father stopped her gently, a finger brushing over her lips, "I forgive
you, Butterfly... We both made a mistake and we both paid... for it... It's time
to let the past rest... You're here and... that's all that matters..."
Naomi nodded, "I love you, dad, always have."
Joseph smiled at her, then turned his gaze on his wife, "You were right... we
all needed the closure..." he sighed tiredly. "I think I'm going... to sleep a
little more now," his eyes were filled with love as he looked at the two women.
"I love you both," he whispered softly.
His eyes closed slowly, his heart gave one last beat, then everything was
They were the last ones leaving after the funeral. Blair watched as Jim
wrapped a gentle arm around Anna, guiding her to the waiting car, while he and
Naomi followed a little behind.
"I never asked how you ended up getting here on time," Blair said.
"We returned from the Amazon earlier than expected. One of the friends I was
with broke a leg, so we all decided to come back, and I got the messages from
the people you had contacted. I called Simon, and he told me you were at the
Homestead Inn, so as soon as I got here I drove to the Inn. The receptionist
told me what happened."
"Why did you tell me they threw you out?" Blair asked suddenly, a question
that'd been plaguing him for days.
Naomi took a deep breath, "I started regretting running away almost from the
day I left. At the time I was just so angry! Angry with my father for wanting to
rule my life, for wanting me to marry some guy I didn't even know just because I
was pregnant, angry at my mother because she always supported his decisions... I
never thought about what my behavior was doing to them, how much they were also
suffering. All I wanted was to live my own life," she sighed unhappily. "And
once I was out on my own I realized the mistake I'd made, how hard life really
was when you had no one to depend on, but by then..."
"They would've taken you back."
"I know that now, but at the time I didn't think so. So I kept going, living
my life as best as I could, raising you the best way I could. And then you began
to ask about your family and I just couldn't bring myself to tell you the truth.
It was easier to make something up, something that would make you never want to
look them up. So I told you that they threw me out and you never asked again,"
Naomi sighed again, her eyes following her mother's weary form. "You know, I
heard a song yesterday that said something like 'What I used to be ain't what I
am.' If I could just go back in time... We lost so much time..."
"But you said good-bye to your father and you and Anna are together again.
Joseph was right, let it go, Naomi, or it'll eat you up alive. Stay here with
Anna for a few months, help her recover from grandfather's death, get to know
her again. It will heal you both."
She turned to her son and smiled softly. "When did you get to be so wise?"
Blair smiled back, "I take after my mother. You did a good job raising me,
She nodded, accepting the statement as the truth, then turned serious eyes on
her son. "Blair, about what I saw at the hospital..."
"Just how seriously are you and Jim involved? Are you sure this relationship
is what you want for your life? You know I love Jim and I'm not really surprised
with the way your relationship changed, I could see it coming for some time now,
but I can't help worrying. I mean, being a gay couple isn't exactly an easy
thing even now, especially in the world Jim works in and..."
"Naomi," Blair interjected softly. "Jim's 'The One.' He showed me what I
really want from life, mom."
"Which is?" Naomi queried, a gentle smile caressing her face.
"Someone to be there alongside me until the death do us part thing. Someone
to laugh with, to cry with, someone to fall asleep by my side and wake up next
to me, bad breath and all," he quipped. "Someone to talk to, be silent with, to
agree with, to fight with, someone to share the magic, the good, the bad, and
the lousy stuff in life, someone to pick me up when I'm feeling down, someone I
can offer shelter to on a rainy day," he shrugged. "Someone, Naomi. And Jim's
definitely that someone."
She stopped walking and turned to her son with a smile, "Then I'm happy for
you both. I'll always worry, but I understand," she hugged him tightly. "You can
count on me, Sweetie."
He sighed happily, "Thanks, mom."
Naomi nodded and they began walking back to the car again. She took one last
look at her father's final resting place, a deep sorrow inside her heart. Yes,
she'd said good-bye and had been forgiven, and she was slowly rebuilding her
relationship with her mother. But the regret would always be with her -- a part
of her would always wonder what those thirty years could've been like if she'd
stayed. But it was too late now. The only thing left to do was learn to live
with the past, let it become a part of her, and concentrate on the future.
Breathing softly, Naomi wrapped a loving arm around her son's shoulder and
continued walking through the path that lead out of the cemetery.
Final note: This story contained original artwork. If you want to see the artwork done for story or if you want to read any of the other stories in the SVS, click on the link below.http://www.squidge.org/5senses/