Disclaimers: Boys not mine; I just borrow them from time to time when the muse moves me.
Special Thanks to my Beta Queen, Zoe, without whom I'd be doomed to a life of grammatical inaccuracy. Also God bless my beta Ari, who has the kindness and tenacity to ensure that what you read is worthy. Lastly, for my friend Heather, my own personal thesaurus, who undeniably makes up for the moments when my own brain refuse to spew forth the words I am so desperately looking for.
Thank you to wolfpup for giving my work a great home.
Warnings: Angst, Smarm, Some violence, and usually a bit of colorful language.
Spoilers: None to my knowledge.
Special Notes: There are conversations in this story that take place in the Quechua language. The English translation follows the sentence or paragraph between *. Thank you to DICCIONARIO QUECHUA - AYMARA by Donato Gomez Bacarreza and EL QUICHUA DE SANTIAGO DEL ESTERO/ DICCIONARIO QUICHUA - CASTELLANO by Jorge R. Alderetes for their vast online Quechua dictionaries.
Also, I offer my apologies to those that speak the Quechua language. While months of research were done to insure that the language was adhered to, conjugation as well as word placement was problematic not having a fundamentally rooted background in the grammar of the language.
Lastly, this story represents 18 months of my life (on and off) spent writing, learning and translating. It is with a hearty Yippee that I finally turn this over to all of you. Hope you enjoy it.
Tears fell quietly down her angular face as her voice sang quivering, "Hush-a-bye, don't you cry," she sobbed, her light brown hair flowing down around her. "Go to sleep, my little babies," she gasped quietly, finishing the lullaby with muted breath."
She lovingly tucked them in, her precious boys, and wiped the light brown hair from their foreheads. "I will love you always," she whispered, choking on her salty tears. Tilting her head slightly, she smiled as their hearts beat together creating their own unique beat. She glanced down at them lovingly and pulled the white blanket tightly around her shoulders.
Sighing deeply, she inhaled their baby soap scents. She loved their smell. God, how she loved them, her sweet babies. She memorized their angelic faces as they slept and dreamed the dreams of little boys.
"NO!" Jim screamed as he woke with a startled gasp trying to rein in the nightmare that had been haunting him the past week. He swung his feet over the edge of the bed as he heard Blair's footsteps clearing the loft stairs two at a time.
"Jim!" Blair called as he dashed up the stairs breathlessly, his wild hair flailing about him.
"Yeah," Jim answered scrubbing his face agitatedly with two shaking hands. "I'm okay. You can go back to bed," Jim suggested, avoiding his partner's gaze.
"Like hell," Blair huffed, squatting on the floor in front of Jim. "This makes a week of nightmares, Jim. There's obviously something on your mind. What's going on?" He prodded, placing a comforting hand gently on Jim's shoulder.
"I dunno..." he whispered. "I had the same nightmare as a kid right after..." Jim's voice faded into the darkened room as the back of his hand swiped across his tight lips.
"Right after what, Jim?" Blair probed gently, his concerned face backlit dimly by the moon through the skylight.
"Never mind," Jim avoided, shrugging off Sandburg's concern sternly. "I'm fine."
"Jim, you are anything but fine, man. When's the last time you slept through the night?" Blair questioned worriedly, gently placing his hand on his partner's knee for comfort.
"Let it go, Sandburg!" Jim growled, his voice breaking with pent up emotion.
Blair sighed heavily. "What do you think I've been doing for the last week, huh, Jim? That's all I've done!" Blair grated, throwing his hands up disgustedly, his voice rising slightly in anger. "I'm your friend, your partner and your Guide. What kind of man would I be if I just 'let it go'?"
"A smart one," Jim rebuffed angrily through clenched teeth.
Blair smiled knowingly at his Sentinel. Taking a deep breath, he resigned himself to try another tact. "Jim, you know you can tell me anything and I won't ever judge you. You said you'd had these nightmares as a boy. Are they about your father?"
Jim shook his head and Blair continued his gentle interrogation. "Your mother?"
With the softly spoken question, Jim turned away unable to face his partner. He folded his hands dejectedly on top of his head and sighed deeply, trying to avoid his partner's worried gaze.
"What about your mother? Was it because she left?" Blair questioned quietly awaiting Jim's response. "Come on, man. Give me a little clue here."
Jim scrubbed his face with quick vibrating motions as he considered the question. Getting up, he headed for the stairs. "I could use some tea. What about you, Sandburg?"
"You want tea?" Blair asked dazedly.
Jim nodded and left for the kitchen to put on the kettle. Blair shook his head and pulled his fingers through his mussed hair as he headed down to the living room to join his partner. What is going on here? he thought as he cleared the last step and settled in on the couch.
Jim appeared moments later with two cups of steaming tea in hand. "Chamomile is the one for nerves, right Chief?" Jim inquired with a small smile as Blair took the cup and breathed in the steam and aroma.
"Yeah, it is. Now what's going on?" Blair prodded gently.
Jim sighed and set his cup down on the coffee table. "I don't know really. I remember snatches of things... emotions. My mother was singing a lullaby and then she told us she loved us," his voice faded out with the renewed emotion.
"Was this the night she left?" Blair inquired tentatively.
Jim hesitated. "Yeah, I think so. It was a long time ago, Chief. Almost thirty years."
Blair sighed lightly and patted Jim's hand. "Have you asked Steven about it?"
"Stevie was so little when she left. I don't know that it would do any good and I don't want to bring up any painful memories for him, you know?" Jim regarded his partner with thoughtful blue eyes.
"Yeah, I know what you mean..." Blair began reluctantly.
"But?" Jim drawled.
"But... what if it helps you both?" Blair suggested, his soulful blue eyes studying his partner's every facial expression.
Jim shrugged. "I'll think about it," he promised as he got up to go back to bed. "It's late. We should get some sleep."
"Okay, but don't think you're getting off the hook that easily. We can work some more of this out tomorrow," Blair said, raising his eyebrows and giving a small knowing smile to ensure his Sentinel that this discussion was far from over. "Get some sleep, man."
Blair steadied his hands on the steering wheel of the Volvo and took a deep centering breath. Looking up at the pretentious house with its magnificent landscaping, he sighed and started out of the car to make his way up the house.
He waited a few minutes before the door was answered.
"Blair!" The older oriental woman exclaimed excitedly. "What are you doing here?"
Blair shrugged. "I... I need to talk to Mr. Ellison. Is he in?" He asked before he could change his mind.
"Sure, he's in the parlor. Go on in, Blair," Sally gestured toward the door. "You're looking too thin, dear. I'll bring in some tea and cookies," she chastised as she hurried off to the kitchen to prepare the tray.
Blair knocked on the parlor door and entered upon hearing William Ellison's invitation. "Blair, what brings you out this way?" William Ellison asked, glancing up at the nervous young man bouncing in front of him.
Blair pushed his hands down into his pockets in an attempt to alleviate his nervousness. "Well, Mr. Ellison, I came out here today because..." he paused, looking away.
"Out with it," Ellison provoked gently. "You need money? Jim need money?"
Blair blanched at the suggestion. "No, sir. We're doing fine. It's actually something else that brings me out here entirely," Blair reassured the older man.
"Jim doesn't know you're here and you're uncertain if he'll be angry that you came to see me without asking him first," William ascertained easily.
Blair nodded. "That's about it," he sighed, hedging for a little more time. "I think Jim may be in some trouble," Blair began apprehensively, his hands tapping on his drawn up knees. "Jim's been having nightmares."
"Is that all?" William scoffed.
Blair glared at him openly. "He's had them every single night for two and half weeks," he spat angrily at the pompous gentleman in front of him. "It's affecting everything. His senses, his sleep, his work... everything. I'm afraid that if it continues much longer, he'll lose his concentration in the field and one of us will get killed."
"So, what do you want from me. He won't talk to me about it and he certainly won't see me. What do you want me to do?" William demanded indignantly.
Blair drew in a deep breath. "Look, I came here because he believes that the nightmares are directly connected to his mother and the night she left," Blair blurted out forcefully, his annoyance with William Ellison nearly getting the best of him.
William gasped and turned away. "He remembers that night?"
"I think a part of him does, sir. I think that's the part that's trying to come out," Blair sighed gently, reining in his anger. "I'm hoping you'll tell me what happened that night and maybe I can use the information to help Jim. Maybe, it will help settle his senses out," Blair's hopeful tone was broken by Sally entering the parlor with the tea and fresh, warm cookies.
Sally crossed the room and set down the tray in front of Blair who in turn took a cookie and ate it thoughtfully.
"Awesome as always, Sally," Blair complimented around a mouthful of cookie. "They're warm. Tell me you didn't just bake these after I arrived."
Sally shrugged with an all-knowing smile. "Okay, I won't tell you," she remarked slyly as she slipped from the room.
Blair shook his head amusedly and reached for his cup of tea and a few more cookies.
"I don't want his senses settled out," William grated softly as he sipped his tea.
Blair flew up from the chair, his rage taking over. "What the hell do you mean, you don't want his senses settled out? Maybe you don't realize that they cause him pain when they spike all over the place," Blair fumed, waving his arms angrily, glaring at the seemingly unfeeling man before him.
"They cause him pain?" William asked concerned.
Blair huffed out a laugh. "Yeah, what did you think would happen?"
"Is he in pain when he fades out?" William inquired, the pain in his eyes easily recognizable.
Blair's brows knitted together in confusion with the turn in questioning. "You mean when he zones?" He continued at William's affirmative nod. "No, I don't think he's in pain, but if it goes on too long, his vital functions will start to shut down. That's what makes it so dangerous," Blair finished, trying to get the stubborn man to see reason.
"Is that why he needs you? To keep him from zoning?" William questioned, his eyes darting to the multitude of books on the shelves of the parlor.
"Yeah, that's part of it," Blair replied, gesticulating his point with his hands. "But that's not all of it. Not by a long shot!"
"Blair?" Ellison started tentatively, wringing his hands together in front of him. "Do you think you'll have to take Jim away from us?"
"What?" Blair gasped curtly. "Mr. Ellison, I would never take Jim away from you. We may need to get away from the city to hone his senses, but it wouldn't be a permanent transition," Blair finished. "What's going on here?" Blair inquired leaning toward the older man and placing his hand gently over William's shaking ones.
"Mr. Ellison, maybe it's time..." Sally interjected as she brought in the next batch of freshly baked cookies.
"No! Sally, it's not your place..." William erupted as he flew from the winged back chair in anger.
Blair rushed forward as the explosive scene fired up around him. Gently grasping Ellison's arm, he led him back to his chair.
"Mr. Ellison?" Blair questioned looking back and forth between the two people he needed to trust to save his Sentinel's sanity. "Look, Mr. Ellison. I know that you love your son and don't want anything else to happen to him. Neither do I, but if you don't help me here, I don't know what else I can do! It's not like I can run down to the hospital and pick up a pamphlet on 'How to Help Your Sentinel.' And I don't have a lot of other case studies to go on. Aside from Jim and Alex Barnes, who I'd like to remind you currently resides in the loony bin, I don't know any other Sentinels," Blair fumed, fisting his hair in exasperation.
"I do," William Ellison whispered sadly, unable to meet the younger man's shocked gaze.
"Maybe you should start at the beginning now that we're all here," Blair suggested quietly as he looked over at the worried faces of Jim and Steven.
William stood up and began pacing the room. Drawing in a ragged breath, he began tentatively. "You were both so little... we didn't know what to tell you. You hardly remembered that your mother... had talked to you... told you she had to... go away for a little while," William Ellison stuttered, his face carved of stone.
Wiping his hand over his eyes, he continued. "Gracie wasn't well. She had these... these... episodes," William rambled, nearly praying for a reprieve. "She was hearing things no one else could and getting these horrible headaches. It started getting really bad about a month after Genevieve died."
Blair raised his head in understanding. "Go on," he prompted gently, waving his hand in the air slightly.
"Genevieve and your mother were very close," William began slowly.
"She was her Guide," Jim interjected softly.
William only nodded and continued painfully. "She actually lived with us for awhile when your mother got very sick. The doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with her," he paused, taking in a long shuttering breath.
"Anyway, Genevieve was hit by a car and... well, she died instantly. Your mother... she didn't take it well at all. She went a little crazy in her grief and started having a lot of problems with her hearing. She said everyone was always talking too loudly and that it was killing her," William recounted, his eyes filled with remembered pain.
"She was so beautiful... so... so perfect. She told me that she needed to leave for a little while. Gracie and Genevieve had been planning a trip down to South America and she thought it would be a good idea to go ahead and go," he huffed, clenching and unclenching his fingers in misery.
"God, I was such an ass!" he exclaimed, shaking his head sadly, surprising his sons with his admission. "I didn't want her to go. I was afraid she would never come back, but she assured me that her love would always keep her with us. She promised that she would take a few weeks and come back as soon as she could," William finished, his hands palsied with the effort of the telling.
Crossing to his desk, he removed a picture of her from the bottom drawer and lovingly caressed the picture of the wife he remembered so endearingly.
"What happened, Dad? I don't remember much about that time," Steven asked plaintively, his brow furrowed with the effort of accessing the memories.
"Mom was in an accident. The plane crashed somewhere over Ecuador. I remember now. There were no survivors. I think... they sent us a package... of her things," Jim responded despondently.
"That's right, Jimmy," William choked out as Steven rose to encompass the older man within tense, but strong arms.
"We had services for her. They never shipped home her body because..." William paused, turning away.
Blair looked away as his Sentinel answered, his eyes closed in anguish, "they never found her body."
Captain Banks sighed as another knock at his door interrupted his case reviews.
"Come in," he growled as pleasantly as he could muster.
Brown and Rafe entered tentatively sensing the Captain's foul mood.
"Sir," Rafe began. "We just got a call from downstairs. A woman was brought in. She... was mugged... we think," Rafe hedged.
"What do you mean you think, either she was or she wasn't and since when do they call us for a mugging, gentlemen?" Banks griped, his scowl deepening.
Brown's shoulders drooped ever so slightly. "Well, sir. They can't find anyone who understands her. She's speakin' some strange language or something," Brown explained, his hands stuffed into his pockets.
"They were hoping maybe Hairboy could try talkin' to her," Rafe interjected helpfully. Simon sighed as he tugged his glasses from his face and tossed them onto the desk. "Where's the kid?"
"Doing Ellison's paperwork while he's in a deposition," Brown answered a bit wistfully.
Simon nodded, smiling at the thought that the reports would be a little more entertaining to read. "Okay, fine. You guys take him down there and stay with him. See if he can talk to her and find out what happened."
Each replied a hearty "yes sir" as they strolled out of the office to pick up the grad student and take him downstairs.
"Ma'am? It's okay, we're not gonna hurt you. It's okay," the young officer tried to soothe the seemingly frightened woman rocking in the corner of the small office, as several officers looked on.
"Yanapay. Yanapay. Pachamac yanapay," she whispered hauntingly as she covered her ears, her eyes squeezed tight, and her body shaking fitfully as her litany continued without fail. *Help me. Help me. God, help me.*
"What's going on in here, guys," Blair interrupted as he entered the room with the Major Crime detectives in tow. "Come on, guys. Clear out of here. There's too many people," he ordered as the men started to filter from the room slowly.
Ignoring their hasty depart, Blair crossed the room, approaching the fearful woman slowly, the detectives flanking him on each side. As they drew nearer, she began to shake uncontrollably. Blair held up his hand to halt the men. "Hold up, guys. We're scaring her. Why don't you let me go up on my own, 'kay?"
Blair slowed his approach with his arms spread out from his body.
"Yanapay, Pachamac yanapay," her voice carried softly from beneath the folded arms cradling her head. *Help me, God, help me.*
Blair tentatively reached forward his open hand to set it gently on her shoulder. "Shh... it's okay, I won't hurt you," he whispered attempting to allay her fear.
As his hand connected softly with her shoulder, she gasped whispering, "Killari?" Lifting her head, she met the Blair's soulful blue eyes. "Mana Killari. Munapayana sunkku, nuqap qusa, nuqap Killari," she cried breathlessly, willing the young man to understand her. *Not Killari. I want my heart, my husband, my Killari.*
Blair paused as she impaled him with her steel blue eyes. Eyes that reminded him vaguely of his Sentinel. He drew in a sharp breath as the face before him took on the somewhat older, yet familiarly kind face of the one person he never thought to ever meet.
"Blair? Snap out of it!" H hurled angrily as he shook the kid back from his shock. "What the hell's the matter, kid?" He demanded worriedly.
Blair sighed deeply, his eyes glazed with tears. "It's Jim's mother," he breathed, turning to face her once again.
H and Rafe shook their heads with disbelief. "But she died 30 years ago," Rafe reminded gently.
"Apparently not," Blair whispered, trying to maintain an inner calm he did not feel.
The knock at the door gave each a start as Jim barreled into the small room. "Blair, what the hell's going on?" He demanded curtly, then leaning forward, he whispered "your heart rate just shot up..."
Jim stopped as he took in the shock on his friend's face and ignoring everything else, led Blair to a chair where he dropped heavily. "What's going on, Chief?"
Taking the deep breath he needed to be calm, Blair's voice shook uncontrollably as he looked into the steel blue eyes of his Sentinel. "Jim? They needed... a translator for a... victim who was brought in tonight," he related hesitantly as Jim nodded for him to continue.
"They think she was attacked. She was traveling with a man who's in the hospital and still unconscious. Her injuries were minor so they brought her here and asked me if I'd try talking to her," he continued distractedly.
"And?" Jim prodded impatiently.
"Jim?" Blair hedged unsure of how to break the news, but knowing that it needed to be done. "Jim, it's... your..."
"It's my..." Jim led his Guide further.
"Your mother, Jim. It's your mother," Blair finished definitively, placing his hand gently over his partner's shaking fingers.
Jim stopped and stared at his Guide shoving him away with disbelief and anger. Then following Blair's gaze, he spied the woman crouched on the floor.
"Jim?" Blair asked, reaching out his hand only to have it pushed away as Jim launched up from his squatted position on the floor. "Come on, Jim?" He attempted again.
"How... where has she been?" Jim spat, shaken to his very core.
"I dunno, man. There's more," Blair warned quietly awaiting his partner's response. He continued when Jim looked down at him and nodded. "She's a Sentinel and she doesn't speak or even seem to understand English. She's speaking Quechua, Jim," Blair finished hesitantly.
"Quech..." Jim faded off as he pondered and scrubbed at his face with his hands, trying to keep from going into an overload. He straightened suddenly, his eyes growing distant, as he pushed all emotion deep down inside.
Blair flinched as he watched the covert ops facade take precedence over his Sentinel.
"Come on, Jim," he started as Jim pushed past him and walked over to his mother.
Squatting down, he whispered. "Ama manchay. Ama manchay," he breathed hesitantly, looking at the trembling woman before him. *Do not be afraid.*
Reaching out to gently caress her head, Jim slowly encroached into the woman's space. "Tasnukapuy, allichu. Nuqa munay chapay qam," he comforted, allowing himself to touch her hair lightly. *Calm down, please. I'll protect you.*
The slight woman gasped as the Sentinel's touch ignited something deep within her "Qampa tiyay wagaychana, chapaq. Nuqa ministiy nuqap Killari, nuqap altumisayuq, allichu. Pay tiyay ukupi nanay," she rambled fearfully, railing against Jim. *You are a protector, a guard. I need my Killari, my Guide, please. He is in pain.*
"Tasnukapuy, allichu," Jim requested gently, then continued as she visibly quieted. "Killari tiyay qampa altumisayuq. Qam munay kay paywan utqa. Nisqata huntay," He promised as he willed her to calm further. *Calm down, please. Killari is your Guide? You will be with him soon. I promise.*
She smiled causing the weather-worn skin around her eyes to wrinkle further, as Jim asked, "Imataq sutiyki?" *What is your name?*
She looked up at him with red-rimmed eyes and whispered, "Nuqap waqyay Alliyma. Imataq sutiyki" *My name is Alliyma. What is your name?*
Jim smiled. "Challay suti. Nuqap waqyay Jim. Qam ministiy yaku?" *That's a beautiful name. My name is Jim. Would you like some water?*
She returned his smile with pain-filled eyes. "Ari, allichu."*Yes, please.*
Turning to his Guide, he asked, "Chief, would you mind getting us some water in here, please? Thanks a lot," he finished with a small smile.
"No problem, man," Blair replied quietly as he jumped up from the chair and proceeded out the door. "Rafe, H? Why don't you guys give me a hand?"
"Imata susidiy?" Jim asked authoritatively. *What happened?*
"Suwanakuy," she replied subdued, her hands cradling her aching head. *We were robbed.*
He was like her, a guardian. He would not harm her. She was fairly certain of that. But would he understand her need to be with her guide? She thought as she looked into his steel blue eyes.
"Nuqa tiyay paywan. Tiyay aychasapa?" Alliyma asked with trepidation. *I must be with him. Is he well?*
Jim nodded affirmatively.
"Pay munay anchuy nanay, allichu. Allichu?" She pleaded as she hoped that he would acknowledge the pain. *He will take away the pain, please. Please?*
Jim nodded in understanding.
"Akuychis Killari kunallitan. Ativ apikuy ancha achka?" Jim asked quietly, his arm wrapped firmly around her trembling shoulders. *We'll go to him right now. Can you hold on a little longer?*
"Ari, manapiqa utqalla allichu," she begged softly. *Yes, but please hurry.*
She flinched as the door opened and Blair entered the room with a small cup of water.
"Qichuy nanay," she cried out, holding her head tighter, fisting handfuls of hair in an effort to stop the pain. *Take away the pain.*
Jim turned toward his Guide and took the cup from his hand. "Thanks, Chief," he sighed, handing the cup to his mother. "Qam tiyay upyay yaku," he instructed quietly. *You need to drink water.*
Turning back to Blair, he directed, "Give the Captain a call and let him know that I'm taking some personal days, okay? Tell him... tell him I'll call when I know more."
"Sure, do you want some company? I could call him from the truck. She looks pretty rough and it might be a good idea to have a Guide nearby," Blair suggested as he slowly approached the fearful woman.
Jim shook his head amusedly. "Always thinking, aren't you?" He teased as he reached down to help his mother from the floor. "Nana manchay. Amuy nuqawan. Akuychis qampa qusa." *Do not be afraid. Come with me. We go to your Guide.*
Offering his hand, his face locked into his most genteel expression, he helped her from the floor and placing his hand gently at her back, directed her out the door.
His dead mother.
How many times had he wished to have her back again only to have reality kick him in the teeth? Too many. Jim smiled to himself as he stole a quick sidelong glance at her.
Blair was watching him, gauging his reactions, making sure he would be okay as he always did. Damn, how many times have I taken him for granted?
He met Blair's cerulean eyes across the crowded cab of the truck. Blair nodded his acceptance knowing full well what his Sentinel had been thinking and forced Jim's smile when he sub vocally reminded him that the feeling was mutual.
Fifteen minutes later, they were at the hospital and five minutes after that in the room that housed his mother's Guide. It was almost too much to process at one time.
Jim looked down at the strong tanned face belonging to the man in the bed. His mother's Guide. That was enough to twist his brain in knots.
"Nuqap sunkku, allanki. Yanapay, punuy chikalla," she whispered as she lovingly stroked his scraped cheek. *My heart, you are well. Please, sleep no more.*
Blair and Jim waited, their breathing shallow with anticipation. Another Sentinel/Guide pair. Blair could not help but think of Alex which in turn brought him to shiver at the thought.
"Don't go there," Jim hissed, his large hand firmly squeezing the younger man's shoulders and demanding eye contact.
"Alliyma?" A rough voice managed from the bed.
"Ari, Nuqa qamwan, qusa," she replied gently, missing the surprised expression on her son's usually stoic face. *Yes, I am with you, husband.*
He coughed, his hands automatically folding inward to brace his sore ribs. "Allillanchu? May nuqanchis? Pi qamkuna" he inquired gently caressing her fingers that intertwined with his. *How are you? Where are we? Who are they?*
"Allillantaqmi, Killari. Nuqa saykusqa aslla, manapiqa allillantaqmi," she ammended at his disbelieving look. *I am fine, Killari. I am a little tired, but fine.*
Killari gaped at her, before chastising, "Kayan chawpero." He reached for her "Kayan chawpero," he begged his beloved repeatedly, his eyes closing on his vast emotions. *He is one we cannot trust.*
Her eyes flashed angrily before she calmed in the face of his fears for her. She soothed him in voice with soft brushes of her fingertips on his tense face. "Chaylla! Chikalla, sunkuu nuqap," she whispered more understandingly. *Enough! No more, my heart.* "Nana manchay." *Do not be afraid.*
Taking his hand in hers, she answered the rest of his questions. "Kayku yanasu, Killari. Paykuna yanapay. Pay tiyay wagaychana, chapaq. Kgari pishinga Altumisayuq." *They are friends, Killari. They helped me. He is a guardian, a protector. The small one is his Shaman.*
Jim choked at the description, then leaned quietly toward Blair to whisper, "They're married."
"What?" Blair inquired, holding Jim's arm in question, then his eyes sparked as his mind replayed the statement. "Oh, okay. Hey, wait. What did she say?" He requested sotto voice.
Jim shook his head. "It was nothing, Chief," Jim replied, his ornery smile belying his actual words.
Blair looked disbelievingly at his partner. "Yeah, right," he whispered.
"Imarayku amuy," Jim requested, his voice strained with remembered pain.*Why are you here?*
Killari inhaled deeply before answering. "Nuqap wuarmi musquyan wakin," he began hesitantly, his eyes never leaving the stark blue eyes of his beloved. *My wife dreams at times.*
He continued when Jim nodded. "Makayan ichu-mishi yana, Wagaychana. Kimsa chunka punchaw, mesekramprar-ku amuyra sapa punchaw. Pay ama mikuy, pay ama punuy, pay ama pensay," he relayed as he looked into the strong face of the Sentinel. *She sees the black panther, the Sentinel. For thirty days, the dreams came every day. She could not eat, could not sleep, could not think.*
"Altumisayuq, kachaniku maskay chiqa. amuyaniku kayman," he finished softly. *The High Shaman commanded us to look for the truth. We came to here.*
Alliyma looked up at his pronouncement and proceeded to explain further. "Yaku tiyay nuqap kancha. Kancha tiyay Tata-yaya Pachama. Mis nawis upyayanku utqalla chay pachaqa kayani chusu. Mana imapas, mana pipas. Nuqayku manaraq ama unanchay," she added resolutely, her features touched with the confusion she felt welling up within her. *The water is my light. The light is my God. My eyes drink immediately and then I am hollow. There is nothing, no one. We still don't understand.*
Her husband nodded his assent before turning toward Jim and declaring openly. Qam nawis anqas tiyay pay nawis anqas. Dewdakuy. Achalay!" Killari celebrated, his once shadowed brown eyes, shining brightly as he looked at his new son, the Guardian standing so fiercely with his Guide. *You have her blue eyes. We have become related by marriage. Welcome (actually, the word is an exclamation of happiness).*
Jim pulled out his wallet and pulled a small picture from it, handing it to his Guide. "Please, Chief," he whispered.
Blair smiled gently at his Sentinel and replied softly with a knowing smile, "And you thought I was wasting my time learning Quechua."
Looking at his Guide, Jim acknowledged the moment afforded him.
Blair held the picture out to them. "Tiyay rimachiyuanchik. Tiyay Jim wan mama before kay man-haikijpa," he explained, his voice choking slightly with the emotion he was not at liberty to feel at this time. He would think about it later. *We must talk. This is Jim with his mother shortly before she was killed.*
She took the picture from his hand before asking, "Imayna atiy kay?" *How can this be?*
He looked at Alliyma before continuing. "Tiyay qampayki. Yuyaynki manaimapas?" *It's you. You remember nothing?*
Alliyma reached a tentative hand toward the son she never remembered. "Llakiy. Kallpachakuyani yuyay. Mana imapas. Kimsa chunka upitikuna, llikchayrqa wan ama yuyaykuna," *I am sorry. I am trying to remember. There is nothing. Thirty years ago, I awakened with no memories.*
She paused, wiping the tears from her steel blue eyes and gestured toward her son. "Kayanki ichu-mishi, ari?" *You are the panther, are you not?*
Jim nodded, his stoic facade slipping a bit. "Ari," *I am.*
"Chay pachaqa kay ichu-allqu. Qam yachachiyanki Wagaychana," she replied, gesturing at Blair. *Then you are the mountain dog (wolf). You teach the Guardian.*
Blair nodded as he responded affirmatively. "Ari. Munay ama saqiy," he promised, his eyes flashing with all the conviction of a Sentinel's Guide. *I am. I will not abandon him.*
Killari smiled at his beloved. "Qampa mesekramprar tiyay ama ancha achka, wuarmi nuqap. Pay churay. Kunallitan, tiyay riqsiy" he comforted quietly, running his fingertips across her cheek as she leaned soothingly toward her husband.*Your dream is no more, my wife. You have found him. Right now, you must know him.*
Returning her husband's smile, Alliyma crossed the small hospital room and stood proudly before her son. "Churay. Munay sunqu. Nuqa yuyay qampa," she rejoiced. *You are found. You will be in my heart. I will remember you always.*
"Churay," Jim responded to the ancient words. *I am found.*
Several days later...
William stopped short as he saw her sitting at the table.
Reaching her hand out for the traditional greeting, Alliyma puzzled at his shocked expression.
"You were dead," he stuttered brokenly, very much unlike the man Stephen and Jim had always known.
"Kawsariyni kutis. Llakiy nanay," she reminded gently, as she placed tentative fingers on William's shaking form. *I live again. I am sorry for your pain.*
Turning toward Killari, Jim introduced the couple to a part of her former life she would never remember.
Over the past several days, Jim had shared what few family pictures he had and one special album his mother had given him their last Christmas together. It was the last thing he had received from her and as such held with the highest regard and treated with the utmost care.
Nothing was remembered.
Finally, at the advice of his Guide, he stopped trying to recreate the old memories and settled for making some new ones. His father's voice brought him back to the present.
William sat tentatively at the table, his sons on each side of him. Clearing his throat, he proceeded unsurely. "I missed... you... her, my Gracie," he stammered, emotion making it difficult. Savagely wiping his eyes, he finished gently. "Thank you for meeting with me. For giving me a final chance to say goodbye to you. My one fear was that you died never knowing how much I truly loved you. I have always regretted not telling you that more often. For being too busy with business to see what it was that you needed, Gracie."
She smiled softly at him and gratefully thanked Jim for the translation.
"Anay chaypala chiqa, manapiqa chikalla, William. Mesekramprar kay riqsiy. Tata-yaya Pachama tantanakuy Riqsiyni yachay llakisqa, manapiqa nuqanchis tiyay lluqsiy kunan. Dyuspagrasunki!" *Thank you for this truth, but no more, William. The dream has been known. God brings us together. I know you have sorrow, but we must go now. Thank you all!*
That night, after they had returned from the airport, a peace descended over the loft.
"You're still up," Blair remarked as he walked in from his room.
Jim nodded, "Couldn't sleep."
"Well it's been quite the week. Hey, by the way, why did you choke at her explanation in the hospital? I didn't recognize the word... What was it?" Blair scrunched his face in an effort to distract his Sentinel, hoping to dispel the worry lines etched in the older man's face.
Jim chuckled again. "She said 'Kgari pishinga Altumisayuq'."
Blair rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. "Which means what exactly?"
"The small one is his Shaman," Jim translated helpfully, delighted laughter marking the words.
Blair shook his head, his smile ever widening. His Sentinel was beginning to relax, then just as suddenly a thoughtful look covered Jim's face.
"She'll be fine, big guy," Blair assured the exhausted man.
Jim sighed resignedly. "Yeah, I know. It's her life now," Jim whispered.
Blair smiled at his friend's reluctance. "It was always her life, Jim. You will always have the memories of your mother and while Grace Ellison may have died in a plane crash over South America, in your heart you know that Alliyma will live on," he finished gently.
"You know, Chief. I was thinking we should go on a big camping trip this spring," Jim started smiling.
"Yeah?" Blair responded, a knowing gleam in his eye. "I hear South America's nice that time of year."
Jim chuckled at the ease with which his Guide could always read him.
"You read my mind, Chief."
Blair gloated for a moment. "Part of the job, man," he tossed out jovially before heading off to bed.
Jim crawled exhaustedly into bed, the week having exacted its toll.
Sighing, he drifted toward sleep as his senses settled on the heart beating just below him.
He smiled as he recalled the lullaby his mother had sang so long ago. Allowing himself to drift further, he began to hum it in time with his Guide's heartbeat, smiling as they fit so perfectly together.
The long nightmare was finally over.
Tonight, he would sleep.
Tonight, he would dream.