The old man settled back in his chair and prepared to enjoy the one vice his health and his physician permitted. Picking up the remote, he pushed the button to open the doors of the cabinet housing a large screen television. He began his nightly exercise of flipping through the multitude of channels trying to find something to capture his interest. He almost missed the most important show he would ever see.
It took a fraction of a second to register what he had seen. Quickly channeling back he found the broadcast. As he watched the press conference on the screen, the remote fell out of his suddenly nerveless hand and a tear made it's way down his cheek. "Matthew," he whispered.
Two weeks later:
Blair tiredly made his way up the flights of stairs to the loft. He wanted nothing more than to grab a cold beer and plant himself in front of the television. As he inserted his key, he heard the door across the hall open.
The young man winced; on most days, he would have been more than willing to spend time with the elderly Mrs. Mahaffey. He slowly turned and smiled tiredly. "Hello, Mrs. Mahaffey. How are you today?"
The elderly woman looked at him closely. The young man and his roommate had a special place in her heart. They always made a point of looking out for her, always knowing when she might need help. "A package came for you, dear. Wait just a minute, I'll get it for you." She disappeared from his sight for a brief moment, quickly reappearing with a medium-sized box in her hands. She handed it to him. "Here you go." She looked up at his face. "You need to go and get some rest. You mustn't let your self get run down." She turned him towards his door and gave him a small push.
Blair looked over his shoulder and smiled. "Thanks, Mrs. Mahaffey, I'll do just that." She smiled and gave a small wave before entering her apartment.
He opened the door to the loft and slowly walked over to he kitchen table, gently setting the box on the table and stepping away. He hadn't ordered anything for months and did not recognize the address on the package. The past few years had produced a much more careful Blair Sandburg. He no longer ripped into unknown packages. After the events of the past few weeks, anything was possible.
Jim entered the loft looking forward to a hot meal and hopefully a good Jags game. He had been up to his neck in paperwork since his partner had started at the academy. He could smell dinner cooking as he walked in the door, but was surprised to see Blair sitting at the table staring at the package in front of him. "What's up, Chief?" Jim asked, worry beginning when the younger man didn't even look up.
Blair jumped when he heard his partner's voice. "Man, you scared the crap out of me."
"I'm not sure." Blair gestured at the package in front of him. "This came in the mail today. I don't recognize the address so I decided to wait." He looked at his partner. "Can you tell if there is anything dangerous in it before I open it?" He gave his Sentinel a quick grin. "The suspense is driving me nuts."
"Must have been a short drive," Jim said just loud enough for his guide to hear, as he moved closer to the suspicious package. Blair just made a face and refocused his attention on the parcel. Jim first checked with his sense of smell and then tied in his hearing to check for explosives and timers. He took a deep breath. "All clear, Chief. I don't smell anything but the paper and nothing is ticking. You can go ahead and open it." He tried not to laugh as his young friend tore into the package, ripping the tape off. He opened the flaps of the box.
"What the hell..." he lifted out a photo album. When he opened it to the first page, an envelope fell out onto the table. The picture on the first page however had caught his attention. He sat heavily onto the chair. "Oh my God."
Jim grew increasingly concerned as his partner's heart rate shot up and quickly moved to the younger man's side. Blair looked up and took a deep breath. "It's me but it's not." He ran his hand through his hair. "I don't understand." He turned a few more pages. "It looks like me as a kid, but I don't know any of these people." Jim picked up the envelope that had fallen.
"Maybe this will explain." He offered it to his young friend. Blair looked at the white envelope as if it were about to bite him.
"Would you read it?" He asked, stress evident in his voice.
"Sure, Chief, but let's move over to the couch." Jim suggested. "It'll be a hell of a lot more comfortable. Bring the album and I'll grab a couple of beers." Once they were settled, Jim without ceremony opened the envelope.
Dear Mr. Sandburg,
I hope this package finds you well.
If you would like to learn more, please
meet my representative at the
Ambassador Hotel, room 435, on Saturday.
"That's all there is Chief. Is there anything in the album? Jim asked.
"Just pictures. This is so weird, this guy looks like me but..." He suddenly paled.
"What is it" Blair turned the picture for his partner to see. "You're kidding, isn't that...?" He looked at his young friend.
"Yep, it's a marriage license and wedding picture for a one Naomi Sandburg." Blair said through clenched teeth. He suddenly stood, handing the album to his friend. "I've got to go for a walk." Jim started to stand. "It's okay, Big Guy, I just need to do some processing. I'll be back in a little bit."
Jim reluctantly sat back. "Okay, buddy, but if you're not back in an hour I'm coming to get you."
Blair smiled. "You would, too."
Three days later
"Are you sure you really want to do this?" Jim asked, still not convinced his partner was prepared for this meeting. Blair nodded; he understood where his Blessed Protector was coming from. The older man had been awakened every time Blair began to pace. It had been a long three days with Blair trying every few hours to reach his mother.
"I just wish we could have found Naomi. I would've liked to hear her side of the story." There was a trace of anger in his voice. "It has to be true. I mean, we look like we could be twins. I can't believe she would lie to me. Why would she lie to me like this?" He barely took time to breathe. Jim shrugged or nodded his agreement in all the right places. Having heard this same conversation in all of it's many variations over the past three days, he knew nothing he could say would make a difference.
They pulled into the hotel-parking garage and grabbed the first elevator going up. Jim reached over and pushed the button for the fourth floor. He could hear the younger man's heart racing. "You don't have to do this, Chief." He said, resting his hand on the shorter man's shoulder.
Blair gave him a grateful smile. "I know, but it's time to learn the truth." He took a deep breath and knocked on the door of room 435. Jim could hear movement in the room. The door opened and the woman who opened the door took a shocked step back.
"Damn," she said under her breath, "The old man was right." She quickly recovered her poise and invited them in. "Mr. Sandburg, Mr. Ellison, please come in." She motioned for them to enter the room. "My name is Virginia Myers. I represent Mr. Roger Marchison." They took seats opposite the table where she was seated.
"Ms. Myers," Blair began. "What can you tell me about this?" He pulled the album out of his ever-present backpack.
She leaned forward and began. "The Album was sent by your grandfather. The young man in the pictures is your father, Matthew." She handed him a stack of papers. Blair sat back heavily. It was what he had expected and hoped.
"There's no doubt about this, right?"
"No, Mr. Sandburg, no doubt at all." She answered. "Your grandfather would like to meet you as soon as possible. He lives in Portland, Oregon."
"Why now? Why not when I was a kid?" Blair asked trying to understand.
She looked at Jim; he could see the pain in her eyes. "He had been searching for years, ever since your mother disappeared. He only stopped in 1987, when he was told you had died."
Blair gasped; Jim rested a comforting hand on the younger man's shoulder. "Who would say something like that? Who told him?" Blair asked.
She looked away for a moment. Taking a deep breath she answered. "Naomi Sandburg, your mother."
Blair closed his eyes. Once the initial wave of denial passed he opened his eyes and looked at his partner. "Can we get away for a few days?"
Jim nodded. He would work it out with Simon and the academy, one way or the other; his partner was not going to face this news alone. Blair turned to the lawyer. "Tell him yes." He stood. "We'll drive down tomorrow."
Once again Blair stood before another door ready to face the unknown. He honestly didn't believe that he would have been able to go through with the trip to visit the man claiming to be his grandfather if it hadn't been for his ever-present partner. Every time he felt shaky, all he had to do was look toward his friend and feel the worry ease.
He raised his hand and knocked. The door was opened almost immediately by one of the tallest men Blair had ever seen. He looked up and the first thought that ran through his head was the Adams Family butler Lurch. He tried very hard to suppress the hysterical laugh building within. The man who opened the door seemed transfixed by the sight of the young man.
Jim broke the starring contest between the two men. "Blair Sandburg to see Mr. Marchison," he announced, causing their attention to shift. The man at the door looked him up and down and noted the protective way Jim was standing next to the young man.
"Yes, Sir. Please follow me," he said in a pleasant tenor voice.
He turned and started down the hall. Blair whispered. "Is it just me or did you expect him to say 'You rang?'"
"Been watching the Adams Family marathon, haven't you?" Jim said with a smile.
"Better than Bonanza." Blair said under his breath, chuckling.
"I heard that."
"Well, duh." Blair said, ducking the hand swinging toward the back of his head. The bantering had relieved some of the tension the younger man had been feeling for the past few days, giving him a moment to catch his breath.
The tall man led them to a large room that had been outfitted as a library. "Mr. Marchison will be with you in a moment."
Blair looked around the room trying to stave off the quickly returning nerves. "Wow, would you look at this," He walked over to the book lined walls. "It's amazing." He checked the titles of the books within easy sight. "Most of these books are impossible to find now days." He walked further around the room coming to a dead stop. "I don't believe it. I thought this book had been destroyed or was a myth." He stared at the book in disbelief.
Jim walked over to his partner's side. "What did you find?"
Blair pointed out the book with a shaking hand. "That is the total compilation of Burton's research on Sentinel's. It was reportedly destroyed by his wife."
"My father was given that book by Burton personally," said the voice behind them. They whirled around to see an elderly man standing in the doorway. He slowly made his way into the room. Jim was amazed by the resemblance between the old man and his partner. He now knew what his young friend would look like when he aged.
"I am Roger Marchison." He stated as he walked over to his grandson. Jim could hear his young partner's heart beating like a trip hammer. His hand shook as he reached out to take the old man's hand.
"I am Blair Sandburg." He looked over his shoulder to the man standing behind him. "This is my partner, Jim Ellison." Jim nodded.
Marchison seemed almost startled to see Jim behind the younger man. He had only had eyes for his grandson. "Mr. Ellison, Blair. Please have a seat."
The two men sat side by side on the overstuffed leather sofa as the old man settled in a chair opposite the sofa. "I'm sure you have a million questions, Blair. You can ask me anything."
Blair took a deep breath. "Tell me about my father."
The old man gave a sad smile and nodded. "Your father was my only child. He, as you saw in the photo album, looked just like you. He was always so curious about the world, always asking questions, even ones that got him into trouble. He also had a strong sense of justice." He looked down at his hands. "That's probably why he joined the FBI." Blair looked startled. "Yes, Blair, he was an FBI agent."
"Did my mom know?"
"Not at first. He and his partner were investigating campus subversive groups. They had infiltrated one of these when he met Naomi."
Jim spoke up for the first time. "Naomi was a member of a subversive group?"
"Not really. She was just protesting the war. She had no idea that their true agenda was destructive. When Matthew realized this, he worked to get her out of the group. By this time my son was in love." Matheson shook his head. "He had fallen head over heels; even his partner liked her. I'll tell you this. If Josh hadn't approved, she wouldn't have lasted. They had a quick courtship and married. It wasn't until then that he brought her home. At this point she still had a romantic notion about the FBI; it lasted until Matthew was shot. I honestly don't know what upset her more; the fact that he had been shot or that he only asked for his partner." He shook his head. "She never understood the bond between them. Even when Matthew explained about Josh's abilities, she was still jealous."
Blair looked at the bookshelf suspicion growing in his mind. "Josh's abilities?"
"Yes, he was a Sentinel just like Jim."
Jim fell back against the couch. Blair sat open mouthed. "S-sentinel." Blair stuttered.
The old man nodded. "Yes, he was a full Sentinel. They found each other at the Academy. Josh thought he was going nuts when he ran into Matthew. Luckily for him, Matt had read Burton's book from cover to cover and knew exactly what was happening. They had been together for six years before Naomi showed up."
"Naomi knew about Josh? Knew that he was a Sentinel?"
"Yes, she did. Matthew and Josh explained it to her very carefully before they were married. She said she could handle it but I don't think she really let herself understand." He shook his head. "She tried to make Matthew choose between her and his Sentinel the day she found out she was pregnant with you. He tried to prove to her that he could be a husband and a guide, but she wouldn't accept it and disappeared." He looked up at Blair. "That was the last time I saw Naomi in person. She was five months pregnant. The next time there was word about her was two years later. Matthew and Josh had left the bureau in order to search for her. It wasn't until they had managed to find the commune where you were born that Matthew found out he had a son." A tear traced down the old man's face.
"What happened to my father and Josh?" Blair asked gently moving to his grandfather's side.
The old man sighed. "A few years later, they had opened a private investigations office. That way they could use their cases to continue the search for you and your mother. They never gave up hope, Blair." He explained. "Their last case went horribly wrong. It was a kidnapping of a young child." He stopped and took a drink of water. "Josh had spotted a clue at the abduction site and they managed to track the kidnapper to his hideout. What they didn't know was that a local cop was following them and as they were sneaking up to the house, this rookie deputy came roaring up in his patrol car against all procedures. This alerted the kidnapper who started shooting out of the window. The deputy was the first to die, and then Matthew was wounded. The kidnapper started shouting for him to give himself up or he would kill the kid. Matthew sent Josh around to the back where the Sentinel had heard the child crying. Matt kept popping up to keep the kidnappers attention, giving Josh time. As Josh was pulling the kid out of range he heard the shot that killed his guide. Josh managed to get the kidnapper and took the child to safety."
"What happened to Josh?" Jim asked for his guide who was unable to speak through the emotions choking him.
Roger Marchison rested his hand on the down bent head. "He back came here to live. I was the only one who understood what was going on with him. He made me promise not to take him to a hospital. He faded away, the zone outs happened more and more often and one day I was unable to pull him out of it."
Blair looked up at his grandfather. "How did you find me?" He finally asked.
"The press conference." Blair winced. Marchison explained, patting the young man on the shoulder. "When I saw you standing there, I thought at first I was seeing my son but I quickly realized the young man on the TV in front of me had to be my grandson, so I checked. What you did was what your father would have done to protect his Sentinel. He would be so proud of you. My only question is how did the press find out this secret you've kept for so many years?"
Blair began to explain how the whole chain of events happened. When he started to speak about Naomi's visit, he suddenly stopped. He looked at his grandfather then back to his partner, the realization dawning in his eyes. "She knew all along, Jim, she knew all along."
"I know, chief, and we will deal with her later. Now is the time to get to know the other half of your family." Jim said calmly. He didn't even want to think about the confrontation that would happen when His guide caught up with Naomi.
"You're right, big guy, she can wait for another day." Blair smiled bitterly. He turned back to his grandfather ready to learn about his past.