Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are the creative property of Pet Fly productions and Paramount. The characters have only been borrowed and will be returned unharmed.

This is a short depressing story I wrote for therapy to help deal with a situation that happened the other day.

Permanent Solution
By Trish

Blair stood holding the phone, disbelief etched on his face. Jim walked over to his young friend.

"What's the matter, Chief?" Blair just starred at the phone. "Come on buddy, you're starting to scare me."

The young man shook his head and looked at his big friend. Jim watched as a tear slowly made its way down the side of Blair's face. "Did something happen to Naomi?"

Blair collapsed onto the couch. "No, it's not about my Mom." He took a deep breath. "You know how on Tuesdays and Thursdays I've been helping out at the High school?" Jim nodded, he knew that his young partner had loved working with the students at Cascade High School. Sometimes even more than some of the college students he taught on a regular basis. He was always hyped up after a class.

"One of my students committed suicide today." Blair buried his face in his hands muffling his voice. "She was only fifteen years old, I don't understand, I just don't understand." He wiped the tears off of his face and looked up at Jim. "What could have been so bad that she would want to do something so permanent."

Jim sat down beside his upset partner. "Okay, Chief, what information do you have?"

"They told me that she shot herself while her parents were at work. They don't know but she may have left a note." He jumped up and started pacing the room unable to stay still. "Why didn't I see it coming? She must have give some clue that I missed."

Jim knew that if he didn't stop him, his young friend would work himself into a frenzy of guilt. He stood and grabbed Blair by the shoulders to bring him to a halt.

"Whoa, buddy, Why don't we wait for all of the facts before you start blaming yourself for something that might not have even been there for you to see." Jim tilted the younger man's head up. "Do you hear what I'm saying?"

"Yeah, I hear you. Thanks big guy." Blair smiled sadly at his friend. He knew in his heart that his Blessed Protector was right, but his head was still searching his memory for anything that could have pointed to a way to prevent what happened. "They are going to have counselors at the school tomorrow. I think I should go. Maybe I can get a few answers."

"Can I go with you?" Jim asked.

"Are you sure? I mean you didn't know her."

Jim put his arm around the smaller man's shoulder. "Yeah, Chief I'm sure. This isn't something you need to do alone. And I need to be there if you need help."

"My Blessed Protector to the rescue."

"You got that right."


The next morning they arrived at the school in time for the faculty briefing. The teachers were informed about the young girl's death. They all appeared stunned; this wasn't one of the students they would normally worry about being a suicide risk. There had been no warning. Teachers were told to give any student who felt the need for counseling a pass to the library where there would be social workers with special training in grief counseling. The faculty members who felt the need for counseling were invited to join the others in the library when they were ready.

Blair and Jim headed directly for the library. They sat at the back of the room as the students began to trickle in as the news spread through the school. Blair maintained his composure as his students entered the room, gathering around their young teacher. He was holding himself together, trying to comfort the kids. They all asked, Why? Why didn't she call anyone? Why didn't she know how many people cared about her? Why did she do it? Why didn't we know she had this on her mind? All good questions with no answer.

Jim saw Daryl as he walked into the room. The teenager looked as if he were in shock. The big detective went over to the young man and guided him over to Blair's circle.

"Tell me it isn't true. It's just a lie. Beth can't be dead." Daryl pleaded.

"I'm so sorry, Daryl, but unfortunately it is true."

"No! It can't be. I just talked to her yesterday. We were planning to go to a party this weekend." Daryl just kept shaking his head.

Blair gathered the teenager into his arms. As soon as Daryl felt the older man's arms around him it hit that it all was true. He started to sob as if his heart was breaking. Blair felt Jim's hands on his shoulder's offering support if he needed it.

"Come on and sit down." Blair said as he sat Daryl down next to him on the floor in the circle. No one had a clue as to why Beth had taken her own life. She had been one of the more outgoing and popular girls in the class. But as Blair listened a picture emerged from the small pieces of the puzzle each person had.

She was insecure about her looks, something none of her friends took seriously because to them she was a very pretty girl. She just was unable to see it. She felt that she wasn't smart enough and was always pushing harder to succeed. Numerous off hand comments that by themselves didn't say much but pulled together created a different image from the one people saw every day.

The feeling of grief in the room was overwhelming. Jim could hear and feel the toll it was taking on his Guide. He knew the moment Blair hit the 'fall apart or hurry and do something' stage. As open as his young friend seemed, putting his emotions on display was not an option. Blair stood and gathered the paper and pencil he needed. When he sat back down, he started to ask questions.

Looking around the circle he asked, "What are some of the things Beth loved the most?"

The group was quiet for a moment then they all started talking at once. "Hold up a minute. One at a time. I'm trying to make a list."

"Godiva Chocolates." One girl said quietly, "She always saved some of her allowance each week and when she had enough she would buy a small box. She could make it last until she had saved enough for the next box." She shook her head. "I sure wouldn't have been able to do it."

"She loved to sing. any time, any where she didn't care." Another teenager said. "The funniest time I remember was when we were at the drive thru at Wonderburger, she like totally confused the poor guy trying to take her order. She kept singing her order and laughing when he couldn't get it right."

"Titanic. It was her absolute favorite movie. She had to have seen it twenty times. Man, she could do the dialogue in her sleep. Talk about annoying! I got to the point that I wanted to pop her upside the head if she so much as said a word about that stupid movie." She took a breath as she realized what she said, afraid she was being disrespectful.

Blair smiled, "I know what you mean, if I had to hear the theme song one more time I was heading for the duct tape."

Everyone chuckled and the atmosphere in the room lightened a little bit. Jim wondered at times like this if his Guide was empathic, he always seemed to know exactly what to say to make things better.

"Monster Trucks." Daryl spoke up. "She loved the monster truck rallies. She thought that they were so cool. I remember the one we went to, you know the one with the transforming truck. Her eyes lit up when she saw it up close. I couldn't get her to leave until she had a chance to touch it."

"She loved to watch the people. She could always spot the ones with the distinctive mannerisms and be able to mimic them. Beth was always able to make me laugh no matter what." Amy said. She looked over at Blair. "She could do imitations of anyone. She did a real good Mr. Sandburg." The class laughed.

"What mannerisms?" Blair asked everyone and looked at his partner who was trying not to laugh.

Amy looked at the others. "Well let's see, there's the bounce — you know, the rocking back and forth on your heels when you get hyper about anything."

"The balanced glasses maneuver. You know head tilted up to keep the glasses from sliding down when you are writing on the board."

"The pacing when you lecture, wearing a rut in the tile."

"Okay, I get the point." Blair raised his hand smiling. He looked at his partner.

Jim smiled, "Looks like they know you pretty well, Chief."

Blair looked around at the group. It seemed as if the raw edge of their grief had been blunted. Tthey all seemed to be calmer. He stood and motioned for one of the counselors to take over the group.

"I just need to stretch my legs for a moment." Jim walked out with him into the hallway. He watched as the front Blair had put up in order to deal with the kids' emotions collapsed. Jim hauled him to a quiet corner of the hallway.

"Sit down, Chief, before you fall down."

Blair rested his back against the wall and slid to the floor, sitting with the wall holding him up. The big detective wasn't sure how to deal with the lost look in the young man's eyes. He was tempted to get one of the counselors, but he knew his guide would just pull together the tattered remnants of his composure, waiting to fall apart later.

"Come on, Chief, talk to me. What's going on in that over analyzing brain of yours?"

"I should have seen it. I mean the signs were all there waiting to be seen, you heard it. I could have done something, maybe stopped her before it was too late."

"No!" Jim said emphatically. "There wasn't anything you could have done. No one could have. She was too good at hiding how she felt. She never allowed anyone to see the whole picture. Maybe she couldn't trust anyone enough to let go of her insecurities and just be herself."

"But I should have..."

"No, this was a tragedy, something that should have never happened. If she had been able to recognize what good friends she had and people who cared, she might still be alive. If people who saw her every day didn't see anything was wrong, how could you?" He put his arm around his guide trying to comfort him, wishing he had the ability to remove the pain. "Maybe this will prevent another kid from using a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

"I wish every kid who thinks about suicide could have an, 'It's a Wonderful Life' moment. Maybe they would realize how precious life really is." Blair said sadly. "Let's go in and say good-bye. I think the counselors have a pretty good handle on everything."

"Are you sure you don't need to stay for yourself?" Jim asked concerned.

"No man, I have my own built in counselor, Blessed Protector, and friend all rolled into one. I know it will take a while for the pain to ease, but I won't be alone."

"You got that right." Jim stated.


EMail: Trish Wilcox