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Challenge 154 Three in the Morning
Title: A Fair Distance: Ball and Chain. Chapter Three
Author: Laurie
Type: Slash
Rating: PG-17
Warnings: language
Beta’ed by t_verano, she who battles mightily with tenses. Thank you, once again. Picture by slipperieslope.

This is the second arc of A Fair Distance. The first arc,Running on Empty, can also be found at sentinel_epic and at 852 Prospect
There are now three Standalone stories from A Fair Distance

The beginning of this story



A Fair Distance baner




A Fair Distance: Ball and Chain: Chapter Three



“Oh, fuck,” I groused to myself. I knew what was happening, but I didn’t have to like it. Sandburg was fascinated by my dreams of the spirit plane, but I could do without them. Didn’t seem like I was going to have a choice, though. And the sooner I just embraced whatever moral or message or mind-fucking madness was in store for me, the sooner I could wake back up or slide into normal dreams.

I’d happily gone to sleep wrapped up around my guide, secure in the knowledge that there was no way he would leave me as I slept. Okay – so I’d shackled him to me. I wasn’t taking any chances on Blair Sandburg wriggling off my hook before I’d landed him.

The truce we’d agreed on for the night was, for me, the first step towards reconciliation, but for Blair -- I suspected he thought of it as a strange interlude, a bubble of familiarity and comfort that would be popped with the coming of daylight. I was committed to working out our problems; I wasn’t sure Blair was taking things more than an hour at a time.

Everything around me was turning blue and I grumbled that the first time in a year that I get to be in a bed with Blair and my subconscious or whatever gets dream-napped. This wasn’t a good time. I wanted to be able to keep monitoring Blair. The last time I’d surfaced from sleep and checked my watch – and Blair -- it was just past three in the morning. At least the Tylenol I’d given him earlier had lowered his fever, so I hadn’t had to wake him up for meds. Blair was being double-teamed by the strep and mono – his stamina and immune system was shot to hell right now – and I couldn’t rely on him to tell me how he felt. What if he needed me and I couldn’t respond because I was stuck on the spirit plane?

Fucking mystical shit.

’These dreams where I’m back in the jungle and every thing is blue…’ Christ, I couldn’t help but remember when I’d shot the wolf – Blair’s spirit animal – who had turned into a dead and naked Blair. I was not fond of these dreams at all.

I found myself walking along the edge of the jungle, the thick growth of vines and tropical plants somehow weaving together to barricade me when I tried to actually step into the jungle. I was dressed again as the sentinel for the Chopec, a combination of the remnants of my camouflage uniform, tribal markings and skin. I wished I had a machete to cut through the growth so I could get into this strange place. I wasn’t thrilled about entering, but it made more sense than just wandering around the outskirts here. I tried pulling the vines away, but they kept growing back faster than I could yank them away. Christ, this was frustrating. Why the hell was I having this dream if I couldn’t even get in the damn jungle? I hadn’t had any contact with the spirit plane since before Blair had left Cascade. Hadn’t seen my animal spirit sunning itself on the balcony, hadn’t dreamed of big cats and wolves, hadn’t visited the blue jungle.

This wasn’t working, this trying to force my way into the jungle with my hands. I had a hunch, reached into my pants pocket, and felt a familiar shape. I pulled out Sandburg’s pocketknife, which I had placed there for safekeeping -- and to keep my clever partner from getting out of his handcuffs and shackles. I flicked open the biggest blade and tried cutting a vine. The vine parted easily and I quickly slashed my way into the jungle. Once I was past the barricading vines, the jungle looked fairly normal – if being blue could be considered normal.

So now what? Ask for Incacha, look around for my spirit animal, Blair’s spirit animal, camp out, take a nap? What?

I decided to wander around for a while. I hadn’t asked to come here, so let the spirit world approach me.

I thought about how Blair’s knife, the special bar mitzvah knife he’d had since he was thirteen, had assisted me in getting through the perimeter of the jungle. Things didn’t happen on the spirit plane without some meaning attached to them. And I wasn’t dumb. I figured the knife symbolized how I needed Blair’s help. Yeah, I got that already. I wanted to resume our life together, but I was going to have to convince Blair that it was the right step for us. I figured we had some arguments coming up about how that should work. I had the advantage right now since he was in my custody; he couldn’t take off to avoid me.

I hiked for a long time, drank water from a spring spurting out of a rock wall, walked some more. I kept testing my senses, listening and looking for anything that would clue me in about what my task here was. Finally, I stopped and closed my eyes and asked for help from my spirit guide. I took deep breaths to center myself and contemplated the anger that had fueled my feelings about Blair for so long now. After yesterday, I knew that some of my anger at him was anger at myself, for acting the way I had with him. So, why had I acted like such a horse’s ass, and widened the split I’d seen forming between us into an even larger gulf?

Fear -- I was figuring out that my anger had been born from fear. I’d allowed the fear I’d lived with for the last year, no -- longer than that -- the fear I’d felt when I realized Blair was slipping away from me every time he left for his bar job, to take hold of me. So I’d used a highly successful Ellison tactic and poked at my fear with a sharp stick. Only, Blair hadn’t caught on that I was acting out and wanting his absolute reassurance that he loved me and would stay with me. Unconditional love is what I’d been asking for, although it made me cringe now to think of myself as being that needy. Blair, I believed now, had taken my bad moods, nasty comments, and draping myself around Melissa as proof that my feelings for him had changed, and that to avoid talking to him about breaking up, I’d just showed him I had already done the deed. Christ, I’d been such an idiot.

And the sorrow I’d felt when he left me -- I’d buried it deep within the anger that had taken over me. I’d refused to deal with my emotions – I could practically hear Sandburg snort at that revelation – and the result was I had been a surly bastard the whole time Blair was gone. I wouldn’t even talk to Simon about it. But then, how could I when Simon didn’t know the truth about us. He thought I was missing my friend and guide. Losing your lover who was your friend and guide was much worse.

While I was being insightful and all, I at last heard a sign of life in this jungle of mine. A jaguar roared in the distance and my hearing locked onto the location. I opened my eyes and did the piggybacking trick with my eyesight-- that yeah, Sandburg had shown me – and saw my spirit animal up on a ledge of rock. I started after him. I wasn’t sure what would happen when we faced each other, but I figured I needed to do this, if Blair and I were to have a chance of being together without screwing up again.

The path I was on kept narrowing down and the jungle on both sides became thicker and more and more draped with the heavy vines that had stopped me earlier from entering the jungle. Finally, I was very close to meeting up with my spiritual helper. Just a bend in the very narrow pathway to travel, and I’d be able to climb up to the rocky ledge the big cat was lying on, his eyes intently observing my progress.

Except when I made that turn I saw such a thick tangle of vines blocking my way that I knew I was going to have to use Sandburg’s knife again to cut through them. I reached into my pants pocket – but the knife wasn’t there. Ah, shit – I’d lost it. It was special to Blair and I’d lost it. I hadn’t cared for it like the treasure it was, I’d been careless, assuming it was okay where I‘d stashed it. I hadn’t checked on it, hadn’t run my fingers over it to make sure it was where I needed it and in one piece. God, I couldn’t be trusted with gifts like this; only it wasn’t a gift, was it? I’d liberated it from Blair’s backpack and now I was going to have to tell him this special knife of his, one of the few mementos of his childhood, was gone -- destroyed by my carelessness.

Kind of like how my carelessness about Blair had destroyed our relationship.

Crap. I hated it when the spirit world decided to teach me a lesson.

While I was standing there berating myself, the big cat got to his feet and jumped down on the other side of the vine barrier. But after that the space he occupied became a motion of color and textures, and then my mirror image was facing me. He was kind of hard to see because of all the vines in the way and I tried to pull them away again. No luck.

“James Joseph Ellison, Sentinel of Cascade,” my spirit-self called and I stepped closer to the barricade.

“Detective, Captain, Ranger, ex-husband, son, brother, friend.”

The spirit seemed inclined to stop there so I prodded him.

“What about lover?” I crossed my arms and waited.

“What I named is what you accept about yourself and will allow others to know about you. You are the Sentinel of Cascade, as you were the Sentinel of the Chopec. During your time with the Chopec, all the tribe knew you as sentinel. Few know you as Sentinel of Cascade, but these few – Simon Banks, your guide, your family, Lee Brackett – accept you as a sentinel.” My spirit-self mimicked my actions and also crossed his arms.

I didn’t like Brackett being placed in the group that I trusted with the sentinel shit, and I certainly didn’t trust him – but he did know that I was a sentinel.

“What about lover?” I wasn’t going to get sidetracked here. This trip to the spirit plane was about Blair and me. I wanted to cut the mystical crap and get to the reason I was here.

“What about your lover, Sentinel of Cascade?” he replied in a tone of voice that dared me to answer him.

“Okay – I’ve figured out I was wrong to treat Blair the way I did. I didn’t need a trip to the spirit world to help me know that. Surprisingly, I’ve come to that conclusion already. I want to make it up to him. I want us to go back to being lovers and I want to take care of him. Satisfied?”

Sandburg would flip out at the disrespectful tone of my voice towards my spirit-whatever, but I was getting tired of the run-around here. Although… thinking of the lecture Blair would give me if he could, I decided that maybe I should watch my mouth; I had asked for help, after all, once I’d been shanghaied into the spiritual plane. And I did owe the spirit world a great debt, for helping me to bring Blair back from the dead.

I cleared my throat and tried again, without the lip. “Why was lover not listed along with friend?” I dropped my arms and waited for his reply more respectfully. No eye rolling; no mentally bouncing a ball against a wall, a bad habit of mine when I wanted to blow somebody off. Instead, I practiced being patient.

“Who have you told about your lover?” the spirit-sentinel asked me.

I thought about that a moment and answered, ”Findley. I told him about Blair and me so he would let me take Sandburg into protective custody.”

“Willingly?” And the answer to that was, of course – no, I hadn’t told him without having my arm twisted. I had to do it. I couldn’t let the murdering bastards after Blair have a chance at killing him.

“No. I didn’t want to tell Findley. I did it to keep Blair safe.”

I added wearily, “And you know, it isn’t anybody else’s business about my love life. Blair knows he’s my lover, or he was my lover, and I hope he will be my lover again.” I knew as I said it that I was missing the point.

“I’m missing the point, aren’t I?” Might as well admit it. I’d asked for help and I needed to listen to what this guy could tell me. I wasn’t going to like it, but if it would help me get Blair back as my lover, then I would deal with it.

“Why did you keep knowledge of your guide as lover to you secret from those close to you?” There was heavy disapproval in the spirit-guide’s tone of voice and on what I could see of his features.

“I was just waiting to see if it was going to work out between us. I was afraid…”

Fear again. I was afraid Blair would leave me and afraid of everybody’s pity that my lover – tolerant, intelligent, engaging Blair; my guide -- had decided he couldn’t love me anymore. And I was concerned about upsetting my father. I didn’t want to do it for nothing.

“Sentinel. What of your guide’s feelings? What were his actions when you forbade him to tell of his lover’s heart for you?” Still disapproval in my interrogator’s voice; of course, he was a part of me, so a part of me must have thought I was doing the wrong thing last year when I told Blair we should keep our being lovers to ourselves.

“Blair said that it was okay. He understood that it was private, just our own business. And he was happy, at least at first he was.” I started to shift on my feet, waiting for the boom to be lowered on me.

My spirit-guide shook his head. “Your guide told you what you desired to hear. He submitted to your wishes, but they were not his wishes. You have a task, when you return to your body, to find the truth for yourself about his feelings regarding being hidden and denied his status as your mate.”

Homework from the spirit plane – but I would talk to Blair and not let him get away with telling me what he thought would please me.

I bowed to my spirit-guide and prepared myself to leave the jungle. Usually, I just woke up but nothing was happening.

“Nothing is happening – what’s the deal?” I asked my spirit-guide, who had remained quiet.

“There is danger to your guide.” I wasn’t sure if he was asking me or telling me, but I nodded yes.

The spirit-guide thrust both of his arms through the vines that separated us and I grasped his forearms in a two handed warrior’s clasp. We held on to each other and images flashed through my mind, images of Blair’s spirit animal and of Blair naked, as I had seen him before in my jungle dreams.

Blair’s spirit-self had spied on me. Blair in his wolf or human form had crept around or hidden near me in my jaguar or my sentinel-spirit form, and I had seen him -- only to ignore him. I -- me -- my spirit form hadn’t interacted with him till just a few days ago. Had to be when I was on my way to Sweetwater and all I could think about was how mad I was at him. Then I had hunted him in my cat form and he ran from me, hid from me. When I did catch him I – I licked him. He’d been scared, afraid of me, but I felt his relief when I didn’t tear his throat out. God – that poor kid. I saw what had happened in the interview room at the Sweetwater PD. I saw it in double vision – me mauling Blair and trying to kiss him, and biting him on the neck, and also the black jaguar licking the wolf’s neck.

I saw Blair asking for help from my sentinel-spirit because of the bite I’d given him. I saw Blair aroused, naked, driven wild by the touches of my – the sentinel spirit’s—hand, and as he orgasmed with pleasure, I-the sentinel-spirit, bit him hard on the back of his neck. Christ, that was how he got the stigmata. I didn’t know it had really hurt him. Jesus – was there anything that Blair wouldn’t do to save me? I swore to make it up to him.

I also saw images of wolf-Blair’s many lairs that had been destroyed. Something, some other predator was hunting him. The sentinel-spirit had observed the torn apart dens where Blair’s spirit had rested, but had done nothing to protect or comfort wolf-Blair. That had been my fault, I realized. I saw Blair in his human and wolf form during the many times he had been forced to find another place in the jungle to hide. He couldn’t disguise the misery he had felt. And I-my spirit-self hadn’t bothered to make sure my guide was safe. My spirit-self didn’t know who was tracking my guide because in the physical world I had locked him down by repressing my emotions about Blair. My spirit-self was pissed at me, but I silently vowed to him that I’d do better. I wanted to take care of Sandburg now, while he was sick and in need of a friend, and also be there for him in the future. Whatever he needed from me.

The sentinel-spirit let go of my arms then, and the blue jungle faded away.


I opened my eyes to see cabin walls, not vines and branches. It wasn’t dawn yet, but it would be soon. Blair was next to me, still asleep. I felt his forehead, and he was starting to feel warm again. His temp was 99.5, so it was low enough to leave it alone for now.

I thought about what I had learned during my dream. Those torn apart lairs – in the physical world Blair had had to leave places he’d hoped to get settled in at because of either the harassing letters he’d believed were from me, or the official ones from Rainier that damned him. ‘We need to talk, but till he wakes up, I’ll savor this time. I’ll scent his skin and I’ll taste him when I kiss his shoulder.’ I stroked his hair off of his forehead and he gave a small sigh.

‘My little shaman. My guide. My friend. My lover. My lodestar. Who hates you enough to want you dead? Is it Bergman, or do you have another enemy, hiding in the shadows? I promise I’ll do everything I can to find and stop this hostile. You’re my treasure, Blair, and I won’t be careless with what’s precious to me anymore.’



~oo~oo~oo~oo~


A Fair Distance. Ball and Chain. Chapter Four.

Comments

( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
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redgirl72928
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
Isn't it ironic...Jim hates those jungle dreams, and has them, and Blair thinks they're fascinating! I've been looking forward to more of your series...thanks so much for another lovely part!
laurie_ky
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:37 pm (UTC)
Yep. I totally agree with your assessment. I'm glad you're enjoying the series.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
janedavitt
Jul. 19th, 2008 11:48 pm (UTC)
So good to see more of this! Jim's beginning to see things clearly in that blue light, isn't he?
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:04 am (UTC)
Even though he didn't want to go he ended up learning some things about himself. Now to see if paid enough attention.

Glad you enjoy the series.
Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
mrs_tilford
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:37 am (UTC)
Ball and Chain
I'm so pleased to see that this story is going forward - thanks for sharing it with us.
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:54 pm (UTC)
Re: Ball and Chain
Hang in there with me; I have no intention of letting it stay a WIP. It just takes a while to write and get beta'ed. My beta and I both have to make a living. I do have the rough drafts for BaC completed through chapter 10.

I'm glad you enjoyed the story,

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
knitty_woman
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
Jim's actually pretty good at interpreting this stuff. Blair would be impressed! Let's hope Jim learns from it, however. So glad to see this again!
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:57 pm (UTC)
Jim is an intelligent man, so if he's dense about something there's some other reason why. Learning from this encounter would be good, and sharing what happened with Blair would be a step in the right direction.

Thanks for reading and commenting,
Laurie
lit_gal
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:43 am (UTC)
Oh Jim, I think you're only now starting to understand just how badly you've fucked up, aren't you. Blair is going to have trouble believing you're ready to pack up all these fear-based reactions!
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:01 pm (UTC)
Yes, it would be natural for Blair to shy away, but he is an optimist so that's in Jim's favor.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie

PS. I got behind on your stories while I was on vacation. I hope I can get caught back up this week. Mopping the floor? Vacuuming? I don't need to do no stinkin' housework.

Actually, I do or the house will be stinking. I'm getting caught up on fannish life though.

Laurie
snycock
Jul. 20th, 2008 12:57 am (UTC)
Glad to see more of this!

And it's about time Jim came around and faced himself and his own feelings. Now I hope he'll take those lessons to heart and make some changes (if Blair will let him...)
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
Therapy through the spirit plane. At least there isn't any HMO restrictions that way. And yes, Blair's response is critical.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
karieflybabe
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:14 am (UTC)
You’re my treasure, Blair, and I won’t be careless with what’s precious to me anymore.’

ABOUT DAMN TIME!

Oh, and I love this and can't wait for more. ;)
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:06 pm (UTC)
Glad you liked that line. I liked it, too.

They are starting to reconnect in a more healthy way.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie

PS. would you send me the link to those three stories you did with, I think, Celine Dion lyrics? I looked through your journals but couldn't find them and I wanted to nominate those stories at LMF.

Laurie
(no subject) - karieflybabe - Jul. 20th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - laurie_ky - Jul. 20th, 2008 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - karieflybabe - Jul. 20th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
thismaz
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:43 am (UTC)
Oh, they are so out of sync, aren't they? Jim is beginning to get a clue, but Blair still doesn't know any of this. And even if Jim has determination, he still has misinformation. While Blair... I still can't see any reason why Blair should trust Jim an inch.
Lovely to see more of this.
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:08 pm (UTC)
They are starting to stumble in the right direction, but they've got a lot of stuff to clear up, that's for sure.

Blair doesn't hold grudges, and his nature is to be optomistic, so that's in Jim's favor.

Glad you enjoyed this part.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
sallye
Jul. 20th, 2008 02:16 am (UTC)
excellent, another chapter! I'm glad to see Jim's spirit animal taking him to task. I hope he remembers what he's learned when Blair wakes up. I'll keep an eye open for the next chapter!
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:10 pm (UTC)
Jim's spirit self hasn't been very happy with Jim for the past year, but Jim only recently has been receptive at all to listening to his inner self. Jim would be wise to pay attention to what was discussed in the blue jungle.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
mab_browne
Jul. 20th, 2008 03:05 am (UTC)
I'm so pleased that Jim is getting a clue. I was surprised actually at how angry I got when I remembered the bar scene; Blair seeing one thing, and Jim seeing and intending another, and all the time not seeing that he was breaking Blair's heart. ::shakes self::

Now that he's done some figuring out, there's still plenty of work to do yet...:-) Which is good. More story for the rest of us.
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 01:13 pm (UTC)
Oh, yes. Tons of stuff to work out and misunderstandings to air out. On both sides. Jim is starting to figure out why he's acted the way he has and identifying a pattern of behavior is the first step to changing it.

Glad you've been pleased with how things are working out.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie

snailbones
Jul. 20th, 2008 10:55 am (UTC)


Another lovely part - thank you! Poor old Jim really does need a good smack upside the head at times. Bless the man.

laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 02:44 pm (UTC)
He does need some home truths pointed out to him, and his spirit self is happy to take on the job. Probably Blair has some things to say to him, too.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
alina_kotik
Jul. 20th, 2008 11:44 am (UTC)
It's great to see an update. Jim's inner dialogue is fascinating. Let's hope he will manage to convince Blair how deeply he loves and needs him.
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 02:49 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked the dialouge between the different aspects of Jim. Jim wants to convince Blair to start things back up. He's a do-over kind of guy - with romantic relationships, anyway. We saw that in the show with Veronica, and Lilah and he even gave Carolyn a tenative pass with that passionate kiss.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
slipperieslope
Jul. 20th, 2008 06:10 pm (UTC)
I love Jim getting interrogated by his bad cop spirit-self! This was wonderful h/c and bluejungleand visits in these last two chapters! I love this story!

*twirls you*

Thank you for sharing them with us!
laurie_ky
Jul. 20th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
Jim's got skills, even if they do get turned on himself. I'm glad you are enjoying where the story is going.

Thanks for reading and commenting,

Laurie
t_verano
Jul. 22nd, 2008 04:49 pm (UTC)
Crap. I hated it when the spirit world decided to teach me a lesson.

::pets Jim:: But this does it so well... (and Jim is trying to pay attention and make use of what he learns here, for a change ::pets him again::)

I have so very much love for this 'verse and for the story you're telling and the way you're handing it all. (And Jim needs all the help he can get, to help work through his part of this mess, and understand Blair better, and Blair's part of the mess.)
laurie_ky
Jul. 23rd, 2008 01:53 pm (UTC)
Jim really doesn't like mystical stuff much at all.

I was picturing the attitude Jim had when Simon was in the hospital and Finkleman was acting captain, while I wrote this. Jim was on the rebellious side but he did know he should straighten up his act a bit.

Thanks for being so thinky about this chapter, and commenting.

Laurie
izzie7
Jul. 29th, 2008 06:53 am (UTC)
I don't know how I missed spotting this until some days after you posted it, but I'm so glad to have found it (& thanks for letting me friend you - now I'll get the updates as you post. Yippee!)

These introspective moments are hard to do - hard for the character, but also hard for the writer. You did a great job with this, showing us how Jim is at last accepting his anger and beginning to let it go as he realises what it has been hiding all this time. His inner voice struck me as being absolutely right - a kind of grudging acceptance, but definitely acceptance.

Frankly, I hope Blair makes him work for his forgiveness after what Jim has put him through!
laurie_ky
Jul. 30th, 2008 01:03 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to hear that Jim's understanding himself a little better sounded right to you. And Blair has reservations about going back to the way they were.

Thanks for reading and commenting,New Friend,

Laurie

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Disclaimers

These stories and podfics are fanfiction or read from fanfiction based on original characters that do not belong to me. I consider fanfiction to be transformative in nature. There is no profit made on these stories or podfics.

All comments and feedback welcome, and that includes constructive criticism. If you prefer to email, I can be reached at holler (at) duo-county.com

Laurie

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