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Putting Down Roots



Blair had been a student at Rainier for nearly half his life.

Sometimes he thought back to his days pre-Rainier. Those were days that had been not half bad... but not half good, either. He had been happy - happyish - for much of the time, but he had always longed for a more settled life than Naomi had given him.

For the one thing Naomi had never wanted was a settled life. Blair had started to put down roots, but after the second time she had forced him to pull them up because she wanted to move on, wanted - needed - to see something new, he had realized, young though he was, that he would have to wait until he was no longer a child before he could settle anywhere.

He considered himself very lucky to have been able to go to Rainier when he was sixteen.

At first he had assumed that once he graduated he would have to move on, but a degree would give him - in effect - a spade to dig himself into some kind of niche. But then Rainier employed him as a TA, and he knew that once he got his PhD he was almost certain to be employed there as a full member of staff.

He had found The Sentinels of Paraguay in a second-hand bookshop soon after he started at Rainier - finding the shop had been pure serendipity but a happy hour spent in it had quickly proved to him that it would provide him with a source of not-very-expensive books that would give him more background knowledge of his chosen subject than many of his fellow freshmen would think to look for.

The idea of sentinels intrigued him.

Over the next few years he spent some time looking for people with heightened senses, finding hundreds with one or two senses sharper than average, and had begun work on his doctoral dissertation - he had very little hope of finding anyone with all five senses heightened, and when he realized that basically all he was doing was rewriting his Masters thesis he began to have half a mind of changing the subject of his dissertation

And then he met Jim, moved in with him 'for a week' that never ended and relaxed in the security of what seemed to be a totally settled life.

When Alex Barnes appeared in Cascade, apparently giving him a second full sentinel to work with, he was... not happy, exactly, because Jim was *his* sentinel, and time taken to work with Alex was in some ways time taken from helping Jim - and when she turned out to be a criminal he half wondered if he could make misuse of the senses a viable chapter in the dissertation. But he was too keen to present sentinels as a force for good.

But a sample of one was not good science... and he began to consider splitting Jim's abilities to make it appear as if he had been studying more than one sentinel, with each having one sense dominant. But he quickly realized that that wouldn't work - he had to show that a full sentinel had all five senses, not just one very good one and the others nearer 'normal'..

* * * * * * * *

Over the years since he first went to Rainier, Naomi had popped into his life perhaps once a year. He had always been glad to see her, even when she tried to interfere with his settled life, telling him that it was not good for him to stay so long in one place; that it would stifle his creativity. And when she sent his unedited dissertation to her editor friend, Blair knew that she had done it deliberately in an attempt to force him to finish, cut his ties to Rainier and move *on*, away from the settled life he so enjoyed. For he was well aware that for all those years she had been convinced that 'staying put' had been something he felt he had to do (rather than wanted to do) in order to complete an education that - to her mind - was not really necessary to live a happy and varied life.

Her immediate reaction to his press conference, once they had gone back to the loft, was to say happily, "So now you don't have to stay here, you can move on. I was thinking of going to Easter Island after I left here - I've never been there. Why don't you come with me?"

Blair looked at her, wondering if he had ever really known her, and deciding that no, he hadn't. "Mom," he said, and his use of the word showed her how serious he was. "I may not have any real credibility left, I may not be able to get a job more demanding than stocking supermarket shelves, but I don't want to leave Cascade. I know that Jim mightn't want me cluttering up his spare room any longer so that I have to find a new place to live, but... I never told you, but I hated moving around all the time when I was young. Having holidays all over the world would have been great, as long as there was somewhere permanent to go back to. That's half of the fun of travelling - knowing that in two weeks, or four, there's somewhere permanent to go back to.

"I don't expect you to understand. From somewhere, you inherited a restlessness that won't let you settle anywhere. But I don't have that restlessness. I want - need - to put down roots. To have a home."

"And he has one here," a quiet voice said from the door.

Blair swung around. "Jim! How long...?"

"Long enough," Jim said. "Down at the station, Chief... We saw your press conference. Nobody there believes you're a fraud. The number of people in different departments who stopped me when I was on my way out, to tell me that..."

"As long as they keep that inside the PD," Blair said.

"Chief, they all understood why. Even the Commissioner... Yes, I saw him too. He told me to let you know - there'll be a job offer coming your way in a day or two, once they can get a contact drawn up. You'll be based with Major Crime but roughly half your time will be spent working with other departments as they need you. You know how sometimes you see a pattern nobody else does? It's helped all of us at different times only now you'll be helping the other departments as well - and you won't ever have to give evidence in court, just as you never had to give evidence any time you helped me, or Joel, or Brown, Rafe, Connor... " Hearing a soft sob, he glanced st Naomi, knowing that Blair was doing the same thing.


"Where did I go wrong? When you were growing up, where did I go wrong? I gave you the world..."

"I just told you," Blair said quietly. "All I ever wanted was the one thing you don't want - a permanent home. Travelling all over the world from it would have been great... as long as we had it to come back to. Well... Now I have one."

Jim nodded.

"And you'll always be welcome any time you want to visit."

Jim nodded again.

"And we'll enjoy hearing about all the places you've been. We might even go to some of them ourselves when we have a holiday. But then we'll come home again."

"And Naomi - if you're half as happy in your travels as we'll be doing that, you'll be really lucky," Jim said sympathetically.


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