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Notes: Song lyrics are from Duran Duran’s “Take the Dice” and are offset by being center and italicized. 

Show me your secret and tell me your name
Catch me with your busy smile.
Try to remember again and again what it is that I recognize

It was dark. He hadn’t bothered to turn on the bedside light – he didn’t really need to see. Blair sat on his bed; his back was against the wall with his feet planted on the mattress so that his arms rested on his knees where his head in turn rested on them. He was tired. The day had been long, starting before the crack of dawn and seemed to have stretched for a near eternity.

Blair was used to pulling “all nighters” but trying to keep up with Jim and the crimes and the other detectives and the witnesses and the captain... it took a lot out of Blair on a normal day, but today - - was not normal.

It all started with the early morning. He’d had actually gotten himself up early, had set the damn alarm an hour and half ahead, just so he could go over some of his class notes and maybe update the syllabus. He was still amazed he’d dragged his ass out of bed. He’d even showered. So Blair was sitting at the kitchen table, being as quiet as he could, turning the pages softly so he didn’t wake up Jim, when the phone rang. Before Blair could jump up and grab it, he heard Jim’s growl of “Ellison” float down from the bedroom.

Blair’s head had hit the table and he groaned, he just knew it was Simon calling them in. His life sucked. All that self-control and determination wasted ‘cause now he had to give up the extra time and go with Jim. Not that he minded, he really didn’t, but he had had his heart set on getting ahead, even if just a little. And the twenty minutes he had spent at the table was not enough.

Not more than three minutes later Jim came down the stairs, mumbled something about Simon and a crime scene, like that was a surprise, and continued to the shower. Blair just sighed, packed his papers away and returned them to his desk in his room. And being the ever-thoughtful roommate, he prepared a cup of coffee for Jim in a travel mug since Blair assumed there would be no breakfast.

That was another thing about this day – no food. Or little food actually. He had shoved a hot dog down his throat while on the way back to the station at some point about mid-afternoon. Blair still wasn’t sure how he kept it down, and this time the nausea wasn’t totally about the crime scene, but Jim’s erratic driving. The man really did need a re-training or something.

Blair grinned to himself trying to imagine Jim in a class full of other officers that were required to take the refresher. It just wouldn’t work. Jim would probably crash the practice vehicle. Simon’s face popped into his head then, marred by a frown as he listened to the teacher insist that Major Crime pay for the totaled car. It would be funny.

What wasn’t too funny was all the side stepping that he had to do during the day. Just that quickly his mind was pulled from his imagination and thrust into the day from hell. Jim was beginning to be overly comfortable with his abilities and just blurted things out while others could hear him. Then the detective had the gall to look at him, Blair, to make it all appear normal.

Like Jim seeing a small piece of metal, about an inch large, 10 feet from the body without much effort. Sure, ‘he eats carrots – good for the eyes’ would only go so far. He had done some quick thinking. To Blair it almost seemed that Jim thought it was a game: let’s see what Blair can come up with.

It was exhausting and nerve-racking – not to mention mean. Mean, god he sounded like a pouting child in the playground after he was pushed down. The first misstep of the day happened about an hour after reaching the crime scene in the morning. Joel had come in to help Simon out rather than pull Rafe and Brown out of bed too. Lucky for him, Blair was partnered with the detective with the highest solve rate. Bully for him.

Jim was squatting next to the body with Blair by his side, but just a little behind him with his hand resting on the detective’s back. It was Blair’s way of shielding himself from the gruesome sights. After a few moments, Jim observed, out loud, that the coat was torn open because the metal buckle was over there. He then proceeded to stand, walk around the body and retrieve said piece of metal from the ground using tweezers and placing it in an evidence bag.

Joel looked shocked, probably just as much as Blair but for totally different reasons. The large detective asked Jim, “How’d you see that Jim? And why did you think it belonged to the jacket?”

Blair had, without waiting, responded before Jim could just say, ‘oh, I saw it’. “I think the beam of your flashlight must have caught it and the reflection caught Jim’s eye. You know how he can be easily distracted at scenes like this.” He chuckled, intending to lighten the mood. Joel looked from Blair, to the body, to Jim, who was now off handing over the evidence.

“Blair... I don’t think that’s...”

“Why not,” he had said, “You know how good Jim is at finding stuff.”

Blair remembered that he’d hung his head as Joel shrugged and walked away. He then headed over to Jim and slapped the man on the arm. Blair tried to ask Jim what he thought he was doing; but Jim being Jim, had no idea why he was so agitated. Blair, the ever-patient partner, calmly pointed out that Jim couldn’t just blurt out his findings at a crime scene while other people were within earshot. He continued his argument by telling Jim that if he wanted to keep it – the big ‘it’ – a secret, then Jim would have to start acting like it was a freakin’ secret!

The student lifted his head from his arms and sighed. He would love to say that was the last incident ever – hell he would have been happy with the last incident for the day. That was not the case though.

Blair stretched out his legs, scooted from the bed and walked to the door; he needed to move his tense muscles and check on Jim. He opened his bedroom slightly so he could see Jim who was sitting on the couch staring at the fire. Blair stilled and just... observed. Jim wasn’t moving, he seemed to be captivated by the fire. He could hear Jim sigh, so he knew Jim wasn’t zoned, but the Sentinel looked... Blair wasn’t sure how he looked, but Jim’s body language wasn’t pleased.

As Blair gazed into the fire from his room, he chided himself for not having a set of explanations handy. He’d worked with Jim long enough to know that Jim reacted strongly to evidence and didn’t give a damn who was around – most of the time. It seemed that not only was Blair’s job to steady Jim as he used his senses but also to explain away his eccentric investigation methods.

Was he even qualified for that? No, but he could lie, or bend the truth with the best of them. So, the incident with Joel was the first thing. They spent another hour or two, the time just blurred together in Blair’s mind, at the crime scene before returning to the precinct. By the time they arrived, H and Rafe were in and Simon requested that everyone be brought up to date.

The other detective pair had reserved an interrogation room so they had some privacy without trying to be heard over the hustle and bustle of the bullpen. Rafe and Brown sat down across the table from himself and Jim, armed with notepads and pens. Jim had started listing the facts. Age, appearance, name, location, evidence that was found... everything was normal until he stopped thinking, ‘cause that’s really what Blair thought happened.

Jim, the seasoned detective, shared with his fellow detectives (not yet with his partner) that he found hairs, some white, some gray, on the victim’s jacket. He believed that they belonged to a dog, probably a Husky. Blair’s head had snapped to the right and he stared at Jim, his mind already racing to come up with something that would distract the other two.

“Hairs? Jim, how did you find them?”

“I saw them, they were all over the coat.”

“But the coat was beige man,” H said.

Jim had shifted in his seat and glanced in Blair’s direction. He hadn’t a clue how to fix it, then or even now. But, somehow he came up with a lie, it wasn’t even bending the truth. It was a bold faced lie. And it was to his co-workers and friends. That had been grating on his nerves all day. He knew and understood that Jim wanted to keep his abilities a secret, he was all for it, anything to keep Jim safe. However, it seemed like every passing day Blair was lying and creating stories upon stories. He couldn’t help but think of the saying “what a tangled web we weave when we first decide to deceive.”

“We lucked out and had a, um, a funky light with us that I held above the body and Jim was able to identify the hairs. They really stuck out under this light.”

“What kind of light?” H had asked.

Blair remembered swallowing, trying to buy himself more time. “Um... I’m not sure, one of the beat cops handed it to me – must have been, well, I don’t know, left over from something he was doing.”

“What did the light do, I mean, to highlight these small hairs?” H didn’t seem like he was going to let it go and judging by the tone of voice the round detective was using, Blair knew Brown wasn’t buying it. Blair had taken a breath and was about to lie some more when there was a knock at the door, followed by Rhonda. She was looking for them, their attendance had been requested in Simon’s office. Saved by the assistant.

The student shifted on his feet in the doorway. He wasn’t sure exactly what the problem was, well no, he did, he just didn’t want to admit it. He obfuscated with the best of them, juggled several women at once, classes, students, but this... Blair wasn’t sure if he could keep everything straight. There’s a reason why that saying is still around, those that deceive will be caught – eventually. And when they are caught, will everyone understand why they had lied in the first place? He was good at observing people, but predicting a reaction was beyond him. Although he had some ideas: Rafe would probably be offended and confused; H would be pissed off but probably make some sort of wise-crack but he knew Joel would be hurt, offended, angry... at all of them.

He knew that the guys at the bullpen were primarily Jim’s friends, but Blair felt adopted at times, and he had taken them in as his friends too. If Jim didn’t stop the nonchalant attitude things were going to be out in the open, the detectives weren’t stupid, and they were detectives after all.

Blair sighed and jumped slightly as the wood popped in the hearth. The icing on the cake for the day had been the meeting with Simon, Jim and himself towards the end of the day. Simon wanted a recap of the case: where they were, what leads were still pending – regular cop stuff. Blair hadn’t noticed the office door was open, he hadn’t noticed when three men walked up to it intending to inform Simon of some news. He only noticed after – after the damage was already done.

“Jim, there isn’t much to go on here. A torn jacket, dog hairs – that’s not anything to build a case on.”

“Simon, I can’t give you something that’s not there. We have other analyses still pending for some of the evidence we collected.”

“Well, what else did your senses pick up that’s not in the this report.”

“Everything’s there sir. I didn’t smell anything or see anything other than what’s there. I tried but there was so much going on each time I tried to really concentrate on extending my senses – I got distracted.”

Blair, who had been looking down at the report, looked up at that. He had intended to lay into Jim about not telling him about his problems, but movement from the door caught his attention. The three detectives were standing there, it was obvious, at least to Blair, that they had heard the conversation.

Joel seemed to recover first, as he jerked himself from his place and walked toward the table. He first turned to Simon and handed him several pages of some sort of new information, then looked at Jim.

“What did you mean ‘extending your senses’ – how do you do that?” The image was humorous, only if Blair hadn’t been directly involved. Joel stood there, with his arms crossed, looking at Jim, while Rafe and H flanked him on either side. It almost appeared as though they were parents who were disappointed with their offspring.

Jim was speechless, his eyes wide and lips slightly parted. It was plain that he didn’t have a clue how to answer that. And again it was left to Blair. “Uh, I’ve been working with Jim, at home, on how to meditate and kind of let himself go, relax, so he can absorb all he can from a crime scene.”

Joel’s eyes shifted to him. “What do you mean? That doesn’t really explain...”

“Sure it does.” Blair had replied in an excited voice and leaned over the table toward the standing men. “If Jim, or anyone for that matter, can relax enough and allow themselves to fully experience something, you can pick up more than normal. I’m not saying it’s a hundred percent successful, but sometimes, after your eyes are closed and you open up, you may see something you missed the first time.” He had run out of breath and words and just hoped that they bought it.

Joel only nodded then excused himself, Rafe and H were right behind him.

Even now, hours later, Blair knew that they didn’t believe him. How was he going to be able to help Jim, not only with the Sentinel stuff, but with normal police work if his co-workers started to think he was lying. Blair fought for the respect that he’s earned from the other detectives, but he could feel that slipping with each lie. What was he going to do if they started to question the simplest of things: forms, information he passed on to them for Jim, reports, and so on.

The worrying was gnawing at him. This was something he couldn’t fix; it wasn’t as though he was going to stop covering for Jim that would be too dangerous. Blair shifted on his feet again, the only high point of the day was that Blair believed that Jim finally realized what the consequences would be if he continued on in the way he had been. Blair was sure that Jim didn’t fear an attack from his co-workers, but the Sentinel was still sensitive to how his gift would be perceived.

As his Guide, Blair should know how to fix it all. A way to allow Jim the freedom to express himself without the censoring that happens while out in the field, a way to explain the things Jim finds with more bending and less lying, a way to make Jim more comfortable with himself and his fellow detectives.

He should be able to do it. But he couldn’t, just couldn’t see it. Straightening his shoulders, Blair opened the door and walked to the living room. He looked at Jim, then sat on the couch. Both men stared into the fire, but it was Blair that spoke first, knowing Jim probably wouldn’t.

“Jim, we need to work on some things. We can’t have another day like today. And I’m not talking about the work load.”

“I know,” Jim replied softly.

Turning so he was looking at Jim’s profile, Blair asked, “What do you think we can do about it so that we keep you safe but I’m not tripping over my words to explain things, or lying. I lied today man, and they probably didn’t even believe me.”

Silence reigned in the loft, peppered occasionally with crackles coming from the fire. Blair survived the day, he could be patient, because he honestly wasn’t sure what to do.

Don't ask me now
When I need you I don't know how
to believe in your advice
Just this once I take the dice

“Fire pretty” was about the level of Jim’s thoughts as he relaxed on the sofa after the day they’d just completed. He sighed and shifted, a bright spark leaping reminded him of the way the hairs had glinted on the coat in the early morning light and just like that he was back in the present.

Jim shook his head slightly. The department paid him to use his brains but lately, especially today, he seemed to have left them, or at least a good portion of them and his discretion and common sense in bed this morning.

And poor Sandburg. He’d really gotten a workout today. The bit with the belt buckle and Joel’s light was brilliant, but he hadn’t realized that he’d blindsided his roommate with the dog hairs until he’d seen Blair’s head whip to look at him in the meeting. There’d been some fancy footwork there and not all of it had been smoothly accepted. Jim could tell just by watching the other guys that things weren’t being believed as easily. Years of blind faith wear off most times, but why did it pick today to do it?

Jim wasn’t even sure whose fault it was in Simon’s office. He should have made a note about the door, Blair should have shut it, Simon should have closed it when he joined them at the table... It’s just that the captain’s office had always been a safe haven. The one place in the building other than parking garage where they could really be safe talking. Were they all so used to it that they took it for granted? Jim wasn’t sure what sort of a face he made when the guys confronted him but he was certain that he wasn’t thinking anything but: oh my god.

And poor Sandburg, stuck covering again. This time even more outrageous than before and less well received. That’s not to say that Jim hadn’t actually tried the meditation techniques – ok, it had taken a bribe and a case to show him the merits but... But sure as hell the guys in the bullpen weren’t buying that Stoneface Ellison would try meditation – even for Blair.

Vaguely aware that Sandburg had been lingering in his doorway for a while, Jim wasn’t surprised when he felt his partner settle next to him.

“Jim, we need to work on some things. We can’t have another day like today. And I’m not talking about the work load.”

“I know,” Jim replied softly.

Blair shifted and asked, “What do you think we can do about it so that we keep you safe but I’m not tripping over my words to explain things, or lying. I lied today man, and they probably didn’t even believe me.”

“I don’t know Chief, I really don’t.” Jim sighed, “I’m sorry about the dog hair thing. I really thought I’d told you. I meant to. At least so that you’d be up to date when you write the report.”

The feeble joke got the disinterested snort of disgust it deserved.

“I don’t know what to tell you about the senses statement in the office.” Jim shrugged. “I really thought the door was shut. You did a brilliant job today but I have to agree with you. I don’t thing the guys bought everything. Some, maybe even most but...” He sighed and contemplated his knees. “I don’t know, what do you think?”

Sandburg was silent. Jim looked to see him staring at the flames with a frown and he fancied that maybe sentinel ears could hear the wheels turning. “Well – I suppose we can just go on. Be 300 times more careful about what we say and do and how we find and deliver evidence...”

Jim nodded, “That would certainly cut down on the obfuscations you’d need to come up with.”

“But that doesn’t really do anything about the fact that I lied through my teeth today. Lied more than we have for the past couple of years. It was easy at first, you know? The dumb thing is, now that your control is so much better, I figured it would be even easier to disguise it.” Blair shifted restlessly and ran his hands through his hair.

Jim grunted, “Probably would be if I could keep my damned mouth shut.”

“Aw, man no! You use them! You use them like you were meant to, like you should and you’d damned well better be telling me about it. That’s what I’m here for.” Blair grinned. “The problem is you’re not telling just me.”

Jim couldn’t contain a snort of his own at that statement. A long, more comfortable silence followed, each contemplating the problem. Jim only shifted once to poke at the fire before settling back. “Well Chief, that only leaves one other option that I can see.”

Sandburg looked at him expectantly, “And what’s that?”

Jim shrugged and said, “We tell them. So – what do you think?”