Fanfiction Library ~
GW & Guests


Photo Albums

Trekkers Over
and Around 40
Floridaze ~
Buffett, Key West,
& Things Parrothead
The Key West
Foreign Legion

Half Aft
Bar Stage

Warren Zevon Other Ports



No Sexual Situations
No Violence


Blair is lost ~ Can Jim find him and bring him home for Christmas?

Written for The Jim and Blair Christmas Song Challenge 2000.

As always, for Aly and Amy.

This tale takes place after "The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg."

I practice no established faith, but I believe that no one can honor any god or goddess more than by honoring the living things that are regarded as their creations.  It is my intent to offer that sense of spirituality in this story.  I mean no disrespect or endorsement of any particular faith.

I thought of this tale last night and wrote it in haste this morning, wanting to respond to Aly's challenge before my holiday obligations to my family draw me away from the computer for the rest of the holiday.  It has not been beta'd.  Please forgive any grievous typos or other errors.

With thanks and apologies to Pet Fly and the songwriters listed at the end of this story, and proceeding under the assumption that forgiveness is easier to ask than permission ...

Subj:     [senad] Challenge
Date:     12/22/00 12:03:27 AM Central Standard Time
From:    alyjude@webtv.net (alyjude)
To:        senad@cascade.squidge.org (The Sentinel Adult Discussion List)

The Jim and Blair Christmas Song Challenge -

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a Jim and Blair Christmas snippet or story using as many song lyrics from popular Christmas songs as you can.

I'll be home for Christmas
You can plan on me
Please have snow and mistletoe
And presents on the tree.

Christmas Eve will find me
Where the lovelight gleams
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS ~ Kim Gannon and Walter Kent



Jim blinked hard in the falling snow and stared at the figure plowing its way toward him.  The voice was familiar....


"What are you doing here?"

"My partner's on that bus.  Talk to me."

Rime cracked on the big man's mustache as he frowned.  "Damn.  I'm sorry, Jim, but it's not good news.  It went off the road on this side of God's Shoulder, ten feet down an embankment.  The driver managed to call in that there were injuries and a couple of fatalities before his radio went dead.  We're taking the Tonka toys up."  He gestured over his shoulder through the snow at the motley caravan ... a yellow hulk of steel with a plow blade as tall as Jim shining faintly through the white haze, a huge salt truck right behind it, a hook and ladder rig, a couple of State Police cars and three ambulances.  And the Coroner's truck.  Emergency personnel in bright orange coveralls were fitting chains to the tires of the smaller vehicles.

"I'm ... I want to ride along."

"Sorry, Jim, can't do it.  No room.  We need certified people in every seat."

"I've got the training, Jackson."

"Yeah, man, but you're not paper legit."

"Then I'll follow you in my truck."  He tossed his head over his shoulder and indicated the blue and white Ford pickup parked at the edge of the staging area.  The hood and windshield were already inches deep in wet snow.

"God, Jim," sighed Jackson, "you won't get a mile up the road in that heap, and you know it."

"I've got to get up there, JT.  It's non-negotiable."

Jackson Taylor frowned, and Jim could see old times flashing behind his eyes, old debts being remembered.  Jim threw his pride away.  "Jackson," he said, all the need and urgency and fear in him blatant in his voice.

"All right."  Taylor dug in his pocket and pulled out a key ring.  "Take my truck.  The black Suburban over there ... it's got four wheel drive, chains on the tires, and the windshield's been treated with defrost.  There's three quarters in the main tank, and the two axillaries are full.  Stay right behind the meat wagon--" apology flashed in his dark brown eyes and he corrected, "behind the coroner, and stay out of trouble once we get there.  You find him, you bring him back here in my truck, and leave the keys in it."

Jim's throat was tight, and he reached out with one gloved hand to squeeze Taylor's shoulder.  "Jackson...."

"Hey, buddy, I owe you.  For Alice and Suzi.  You know that.  Good luck, Jim."



Where are you Christmas
Why can't I find you
Why have you gone away

Where is the laughter
You used to bring me
Why can't I hear music play

My world is changing
I'm rearranging
Does that mean Christmas changes too


Every silver lining has a cloud, he thought.

The radio didn't work, but the CD player did.  "Christmas Favorites."  Just what he needed.

But Jim let it play anyway, on low, needing the sound of something in the cab of the truck to keep him from zoning on the sound of the plow ahead, the cascade of salt onto the icy macadam left exposed by the big blade, and the voices of the men trying to reestablish contact with the bus radio.

He just fucking had to go, Jim thought bitterly.  Naomi's never there for him, but she crooks her finger and he comes running.  And now....

Now Blair was in a Greyhound bus that had gone off the road on God's Shoulder, the steepest pass in the Cascade mountains, on a snowy, icy afternoon that happened to be Christmas Eve.  And Jim Ellison had one more reason to hate Christmas.


So climb down the chimney
Turn on the brightest string of lights I've ever seen
Slice up the fruitcake
It's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough

For I've grown a little leaner
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older



The black block letters burned through the snow and into his eyes and onto his brain.  Three dead on that bus, as of two hours ago.  And they'd been an hour on the road, creeping through the blizzard, making their way slowly toward the wreck.  A lot could happen in two hours, in a wrecked bus with no heat on a frigid Christmas Eve.

Jim didn't believe in miracles.  He'd only encountered one real miracle in his life, and he didn't know if that miracle was still alive.

Oh god ... please....


Oh, I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door

Oh I just want him for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is


Inside the heavy boots, his toes were cold; inside the thick skier's gloves, his fingertips were numb.  And inside his chest his heart beat fast with fear and yet remained chilled.  The snow was blinding; the wind whirled it in wild eddies across the hood of the big Suburban, whipped it off into the gray of late afternoon, blew it like water across the road, and the only way that Jim could hold his course was to keep his eyes trained on the terrible black letters stenciled onto the brown steel doors of the vehicle ahead of him.


His hands tightened on the wheel as the chains crunched on a patch of ice and dragged the tires to the right.  He swore, feathered the brakes, heard the grinding of metal against frozen water and concrete, and manhandled the truck back into position. 

Sandburg, if you ever pull a stunt like this again ... I'll let you go, but not alone.  Not without me.


It's Christmastime; there's no need to be afraid
At Christmastime, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmastime

But say a prayer to pray for the other ones
At Christmastime 


Brake lights flashed and held bright, and Jim tapped his own brakes and slowed.  Up ahead he could see flashing red lights as vehicles pulled alongside each other, and there, the faint glow of fading headlights tilted at a crazy angle, shining up into the falling snow.  He brought the Suburban to a full stop and carefully turned it around so it was facing back down the hill, cut the tires at a sharp angle facing away from the shoulder of the road, and shut the engine down. 

The snow was lighter as he stepped out onto the road, and not too deep here on the pavement where the wind had an unbroken sweep up the side of the mountain.  And he could see the bus, not completely on its side but at a steep angle and covered with snowdrifts on the windward side.  He stayed in place for a moment and threw his hearing across the vehicles between him and the wreck, above the chatter and the static of radios and the uneasy purr of idling engines, listening for the only sound in the world he wanted to hear.

And there it was.

That heartbeat.

And the murmur of a voice, sniffly and coughing from time to time but low and comforting.  A voice that had pulled Jim back from dark places uncounted times.  A sound as dear to him as the heartbeat, murmuring softly.

"It's okay, it's gonna be fine.  Your momma is gonna be fine, and soon she'll take you home.  'Course you don't know what home is yet, do you?  Well, it's the best place in the world, where people want you and need you and welcome you back, no matter where you've been or what you've done.  And some day when you grow up you'll find someone who you can't imagine being in the world without, and you and that person will make a home of your own together."

And beneath that ceaseless, steady murmur, Jim could hear the cooing of a baby.


Christmas time is here
We'll be drawing near
Oh that we could always see
Such spirit through the year
Such spirit though the year


The EMTs were carrying someone out on a stretcher, faceless beneath a full-body shroud.  Jim felt guiltily relieved as he waited for them to pass and then climbed up the icy slant of steps and into the bus.  He followed that beloved voice through the darkness all the way to the back of the vehicle, pushing broken seats out of his way, sliding behind men crouched over injured passengers, making his careful but urgent way toward his partner.  A broken piece of metal snagged his pant leg and he bent to release it, then straightened and caught his breath.

Blair sat in the back of the bus, head bent and body curled around a small bundle held securely in his arms.  Jim couldn't see his face, only his lips moving beneath the curtain of his hair, but the flashlights of the EMTs lit his red-brown curls from beneath and glinted off the nylon of his worn yellow jacket and bathed him in an ethereal glow. 

And from that vision sprang a greater revelation, of every god or goddess that human hearts had created or discovered throughout the time of man on earth, every spirit that had offered and inspired gentleness and nurturing and love in creatures born to struggle and strife, every hope of peace in a brutal and savage world.  All the history of man reaching for light in a dark world, and sharing that light with others, was for Jim embodied in the sight of a young man cradling a newborn baby in the back seat of a wrecked bus on Christmas Eve.


Someday at Christmas
Men will not care
Hate will be gone
And love will prevail
Someday a new world that we can start
With hope in every heart

Someday all are dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmas time
Someday at Christmas time



At the soft whisper Blair's head lifted, and only then did Jim see the stained bandage over his right temple and the dark bruise on his cheek.  But a wide grin blinded him to these things, and he reached forward and tucked an errant curl back behind a cold-reddened ear.

"Hey, Jim."

"Who's your friend?"

"This is Jesus ... Jesus San Angelo.  That's his mom, Maria."  He nodded his head and only then did Jim see the young woman wrapped in a gray blanket on the other side of the seat, a paramedic bent over her. 

"Not yours, is he, Sandburg?" Jim joked.

"No, man, but I wish...."  And he smiled down at the baby he held.  "I helped deliver him."

"You, Chief?"

"Sure, Jim.  I saw lots of babies born when I was a kid ... Naomi hung with folks who believed in home births.  There was a nurse on the bus, and she asked for help, and I knew what to do, so...."  He brushed a gloved hand across a rosy cheek.  "Here he is."

"Excuse us, gentlemen," said the paramedic.  "We'll take him now.  Thanks, buddy ... you did a good job."  Blair nodded, leaned down and kissed the tiny forehead, and hesitantly surrendered the bundle to the burly medic.  The man eased his way past Jim and said, "You two might want to clear out so they can get a stretcher back here for the mother."

"Sure," said Jim.  "Come on, Chief," he said, reaching out to the shivering young man.  "Let's go home."


Friends and relations
Send salutations
Just as sure as the stars shine above
This is Christmas, Christmas my dear
The time of year to be with the one that you love

Then will you tell me, you'll never more roam
Christmas and New Year will find you home
There'll be no more sorrow
No grief or pain
'Cause I'll be happy that it's Christmas once again


The loft was dark, lit only by the flickering images on the television.  Blair, chilled and drowsy, had been undressed and bundled into his bed by Jim, who was worried about the runny nose, the cough, and the slight gurgle he could hear in his friend's lungs.  He kept his ears trained on the soft snore and the ragged breathing as he sat in the living room, not really watching the movie but not yet ready to go to bed.  Somehow he wanted to cling to this moment, this odd Christmas Eve that found him sitting alone in the dark in his undecorated loft, more moved by Christmas spirit than he had been since a small boy.

A cough ... Jim listened intently, but it lapsed into a soft snore, and he relaxed.  In the silence he heard a thread of melody and looked up at the television.  He didn't need to reach for the remote ... Sentinel hearing brought Judy Garland's velvet voice to his ears.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Let your hearts be light
From now on, our troubles will be out of sight. 

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Make the Yuletide gay
From now on, our troubles will be miles away

Jim smiled, and flicked the television off.  He moved quietly around the loft, checked the doors and windows, and then went to the small room in the corner and stood still for long minutes, regarding the still figure tangled in the bedclothes.  The words of the song continued to play in his mind.

Here we are as in olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more

He unbuttoned his shirt and draped it over the stereo cabinet, toed out of his loafers, and unbuckled his jeans and let them drop to the floor.  He crept into the room and knelt next to the futon, drew back the sheets and comforter, and slid in behind the sleeping man.  He reached out and gently pulled him back against his chest.  The soft breathing soothed him, and as midnight brought Christmas morning to the loft, that rhythmic breathing drew Jim along with Blair into peaceful sleep.


Through the years we all will be together
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now


We Need A Little Christmas by Jerry Herman
Where Are You Christmas? by Faith Hill
All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and Walter Afanasieff
Do They Know It's Christmas? by Bob Geldof
Christmas Time Is Here from Charlie Brown
Someday At Christmas by Stevie Wonder
Bells Will Be Ringing by Bon Jovi
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas by Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane

~ 30 ~

~ Return to "The Sentinel" Page ~

~ Return to The Library ~



Fanfiction Library ~
GW & Guests


Photo Albums

Trekkers Over
and Around 40

Floridaze ~
Buffett, Key West,
& Things Parrothead
The Key West
Foreign Legion
Half Aft
Bar Stage
Warren Zevon Other Ports