An Ethnography of The Sentinel: Fan Fiction, and Why Writers Write



By Debra S. "Tegan" Ridgway


    Jim came down the stairs, and was heading to the door, as Blair was putting the last of the refreshments on the table. Jim opened the door just as Simon was raising his hand to knock.

    "You would think that once, just once in this century, that I would get to knock on this door before you open it," Simon growled good naturedly.

    Jim looked at Simon, smiled and then closed the door.

    Blair started laughing as the knock came and Jim politely opened the door to admit their Captain.

    "Funny Ellison, very funny," Simon said as he stood there with his hands full.

    "Well sir, you asked. Just don't say that I never gave you what you asked for," Jim answered as he stood back to allow Simon in.

    Simon was followed by the rest of the Major Crimes Department along with the new officers that had been recently assigned to the department.

    Taking a quiet head count, Blair was amazed that everyone that they had invited to the New Year's Eve Y2K party had shown up. including his Mother, Naomi Sandburg. //Let's see, we have Jim and me. Simon Banks and his son Daryl, who had finished collage and was going into the Police Academy in January. Henry Brown and his partner Brian Rafe came with Joel Taggert. Simon's Secretary Rhonda, and Inspector Megan Connor. Jim's ex-wife Carolym Plummer came at Jim's request as she was in town helping out with a case, as well as the new Officer Lila Hobson who was just assigned to MC. Dan Wolf and his new assistant Incacha showed up. And last but not least, there were the other three officers that had also been recently assigned to their departmtent, Officers Kincade, Bracket and Zeller.//

    //It was fun because when the names of these three were first brought up to the department, everbody just about jumped out of their skins. It took a couple of weeks for things to settle down, but they soon learned that these were very dedicated, hard working men and they had nothing to fear from them.//

    Blair was still amazed at his popularity, not only in the PD, but in the community at large. When his dissertation had been leaked to the press, and he claimed that he was a fraud to protect Jim, he never in his wildest dreams, thought that he would ever be allowed into the PD again. much less the university. But here he was, not only a full fledged Detective in his own right, but he had gotten his Ph.D. on Sentinels anyway.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    Laughing to himself, he remembered the events clearly. After giving the 'fraud' press conference, he was told by the Chancellor that he had embarrased the University for the last time, and he had until Friday to clean out his offce.

    At that point, he thought that the only important thing was Jim, even though Jim thought that he had purposedly leaked the dissertation to the press. After catching Zeller though, it was a different story. Once he had cleaned out his office at Ranier, he had come back to the PD to have a last look around. That was when everyone from the department had shown up, Megan and Simon, who had just gotten out of the hospital, came over to say goodby. Or so he thought. When Jim tossed him the Detectives shield and told him that he was going to be Jim's permonant partner as soon as he went through the academy, he thought that he was going to cry.

    But that was only the beginning. It seems that the good citizens of Cascade liked the resident Anthropologist that worked with the best detective that the Cascade PD ever had, and even though Blair was going to be going through the Police Academy, he still deserved his Ph.D., and any teaching offer that went along with that as well.

    So they banded together and basically drug the press with them to the University, going straight to the Chancellor's office and told her that in no uncertain terms that they knew that Blair was lying when he cried fraud on his dissertation. That they believed that Jim Ellison could do what Blair said that he could do. And that they should not only give Blair his degree, but that the press should stay away from both Blair and Detective Ellison and let them do their jobs, because this last time that the press was hounding the detective, it almost got several other officers killed. They also stated that becaue the publishing company had been the ones to leak the dissertation to the press, that they should not only give Blair their previous offer outright as a kinda peace offering, but even if Blair decided to go with another publishing company, that they should honor that and accept their losses and consider it a lesson that should never have to be repeated.

    They also told the publishing company that they should pay for the damages that they had caused. Not only damge to the buildings, but to the other officers that were injured because of the trouble their presence caused, and that for this, that the press that was involved should also be accountable.

    Lastly, they went to the Commissioner's office and told her and the Chief of Police that if Ellison used his senses in the line of duty, then it was in the line of duty and that there was no need to get IA involved. He was a good detective before his senses, and he was just that much better after the senses.

    None of this was leaked to Jim or to Blair as they tried to piece their lives back together, and figure out what to do next. Two days after Blair was offered the gold shield, he and the rest of Major Crimes was called into a meeting with the Commissioner. Attending, were the Governor, Mayor, Commissioner, Chief of Police, as well as the Chancellor of Ranier, publisher Sid Graham, Naomi and selected press membors along with the Spokesperson for the citizens of Cascade.

    Blair looked at Jim, and asked with just the look on his face, Do you have any idea of what is going on? Jim just shrugged his shoulders. Blair decided that if Jim had any idea of what was going on, that he was hiding it really well.

    "Good afternoon everyone," The man behind the podium said as the people quieted down and acknowledged the man who was ready to speak, "My name is Michael Johnson, and I was born and raised in Cascade. In fact, I went to school with Detective Ellison when he was in grade school. I've watched his career from the time he was brought back from Peru. When he came back fro Peru, he was different from the boy I knew in school, kinda like something was missing. When he joined the Cascade PD, he became a really good detective. But when he and Blair Sandburg teamed up, I could see the young boy that was back. Someone who was always able to find things that no one else could. Always be able to tell you what was going to be for dinner. That was, until a good friend of his was killed. Then, my famly moved to a different part of the city and we lost contact."

    "What I'm trying to say here, is that what the press claimed that Mr. Sandburg wrote, and then claimed as fraud, is in fact the God's honest truth. Jim Ellison is a Sentinel. His partner Blair Sandburg is his Guide. Now we, the citizens of Cscade know why Mr. Sandburg did what he did to protect his Sentinel, but the citizens of Cascade want you to know that we want you to continue to look out for us. We want you to know that we will do everything in our power to keep you safe, so that you can continue to do your job."

    "We also believe that Mr. Sandburg should get his degree, and that he should be given the respect and recogonition that he deserves. All the citizens ask in return, is the real truth. Are you, Detective James Ellison, a Sentinel?" Jim looked over to Blair, who was standing there with his mouth hanging open in total and complete shock. Putting his hand on Blair's back, Jim steared him towards the front of the room, before looking at Michael and saying, "Yes Michael, I am a Sentinel, and without Blair's help, I would not be here today."

    Looking back to the detective and his partner, Michael said, "Thank you , we appreciate your honesty. We did however run into a small snag when we were setting all of this up. Someone mentioned that the government might try to wisk you away to parts unknown for testing and what not, so we called them to let them know that that was just NOT acceptible. We told them, that you were our guardian angel and we were keeping you, and that if they wanted to know something about your senses, that they could ask either you or your partner. They have no need to take you away from what you do best. Plus the fact that they would be better off studying you in your element, and not in some lab somewhere." Everyone in the room said "AMEN TO THAT," after which the spokesman turned the podium over to the Chancellor of the University.

    As soon as the voices in the room again settled down, the Chancellor began to speak. "Mr. Sandburg, if you would be so kind as to step foward." Blair did as he was asked, and found Jim to be right behind him. "At this time, I have two things to say to you Mr. Sandburg. First of all, I would like to appologize to you for the way I myself and the University has treated you over this. We should have been paying more attention to you, and what was going on with you instead of just the publicity for the University. I hope you will accept our sincerest opoligies."

    Blair nodded his approval, and the Chancellor seemed to relax just a little at this point. Continuing, she reached over and accepted a fairly large flat box from her assistant. Turning, she looked straight at Blair."The dissertation committee has gone over your dissertation with a fine toothed comb, and Ranier University would now like to honor you with the degree of Doctorate in Philosophy in Anthropology. You are elgable to all of the rights and priveledges pertaining to this degree." Pulling a frame from the box, she presented Blair wih a beautifully framed diploma.

"Congradulations, Doctor Sandburg. We wish you all of the best in your future. We also would like to offer you a position as a proessor in our Anthropology Department if you are still interested. You are a good teacher, and your students like you a lot. I know you are going to the Police Academy and all, but we would be honored if you were still interested in teaching as well."

    Blair's eyes were very moist at this point and he was still staring at the diploma with his name on it. Looking up, he said, "I would like that very much."

    "Then we shall be in touch," the Chancellor said, then stepped back as she turned the podium over to Sid Graham.

    Sid got up to the podium and looked at both Jim and Blair. Both men almost shivered at the thought of what he was going to do at this point. Feeling a hand on their shoulders, both of them turned to look at Naomi who had come up to give her son and his partner any and all support that he needed. Both men relaxed under her comfort as they retrned their attention to the man at the podium.

    Sid looked at both Jim and Blair, and holding an envelope out to Blair, he said, "I too must apoogize for the mess that we caused over your work. We still want to publish your work, but can certainly understand if you do not want to work further with us on this. We also would like you to accept this along with out sincerest apoligies for the trouble that we have caused." Handing Blair an envelop, he then turned to the Commissioner and said, "We would also like to present the Cascade PD with this to cover any damages that were caused because of our and the press' interference."

    By this time, Blair had opened the envelope and was looking it over when Jim reached out and led him to a chair as his knees gave way.

    Looking up to see the worry in his partner's face, Blair just handed him the paper. Jim read through the paper and was soon sharing the chair with his partner as his own knees gave way.

    Simon, seeing what had happened to the two men, came to see if he could help. Naomi was reading the letter that she had taken from Jim's hand as Simon got to them. "Oh my God," was all that she said before she to had too sit down.

    "Jim, Blair, are you two alright?" Simon asked as he got to the men.

    "I think so Simon," Blair said as he met Simon's worried gaze .

    Sid had turned the podium over to the Commissioner and she was waiting until her men had had a chance to catch their breath. Once she had their attention, she looked at Blair and handed him the same wallet that Jim had tossed him several days before, and said, Dr. Sandburg, after IA reviewed all of Jim's past cases, they concluded that it was your help that has made a good hard working cop into a great hard working cop, and at this time we would like to offer you the position of Detective, with back pay from the time that you first began as an observer and Jim's partner. The title should be considered honerary until the time that you complete the academy and get your certification. If that is ok with you?"

    Blair just nodded as that was all that he could do at the moment. The rest of the room however, errupted in applause and cheers.

    After several minutes, the room quieted down and the Commissioner finished her speach. After that however, their was no stopping the party that errupted. Blair was hoisted up on the shoulders of his coworkers and carried back to their office were maintance had set up another desk next to Jim's. It had everythng that he would ever need, including the nameplate that read Dr. Blair Sandburg, Detective. It was a good thing that it was a Friday and that it was after 5 PM when the Commissioner had finished her speach, because, they were at the office just long enough to get their things together before tey headed out to party.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    The following morning, they didn't get up until like noon. Jim had gotten up only a few minutes before Blair and was making coffee when Blair groaned as he got out of bed, and made his way towards the aspirine that Jim was holding out with a glass of water.

    With the aspirine down, Blair headed to the shower. Jim had breakfast on the table when Blair got out of the shower. He had made a simple breakfast of toast and juice to go along with the strong coffee that was waiting for him.

    After breakfast, Jim got his own shower and the two of them were feeling almost human again, when Blair spoke up and said, "Now I remember why I don't drink more than two beers a day."

    "I definately hear you there partner, I most definately hear you there," Jim returned.

    They sat there in companionable silence for several minutes. Jim was the first to speak after awhile, "You decided what you are going to do with the three million that you got from Sid yet? Oh, and let's not forget the four years back pay for your salery at the PD?"

    Laughing, Blair said, "You mean after I pay off all of my student loans and get the Volvo fixed, and give you the two months rent that I still owe you?"

    "Yeah, after all of that." Jim returned laughing.

    "Well, I thought that I would buy the loft across the hall."Blair answered.

    Jim suddenly realized that maybe Blair didn't want to live there any more. And even across the hall, was far enough away that for him it was to far. Looking at Blair, he asked, "You don't want to stay here any more? I know it's rather small with you having your degree and all, but I thought that we could somehow work something out."

    Blair smiled that understanding smile of his, and said, "Well, what I was planning, if it was ok with you was to buy the loft across the hall. It's identical to this one, only it's backwards. And then join the two so that we had one really big loft. Keep the living room here, and on the other side I could use that as my office. The rooms under the bedrooms could be used as a den, or as a spare room if Mom should happen to show up or poker night gets snowed in or something. We could have this really big kitchen with a dishwasher. Maybe." Blair said to his stunned partner sitting next to him, almost afraid to say anything else.

    Jim just reached over and pulled Blair into a tight hug, saying, "Anything you want buddy. Anything you want as long as you stay here. I was soo wrong to ever accuse you of selling me out. Can you ever forgive me?"

    At this point, Blair felt water seeping into his hair. Pulling back, he saw that Jim had tears in his eyes that matched the ones in his own. "Alright, who are you and what have you done with my partner? Yes, I can forgive you, as long as you promise me that you will always try to listen to me before you make any judgements in the future"

    "I'll try, I can't give you any guarantees, but I will try. How's that?" Jim answered.

    "That's good enough for me Jim," Blair said before he really returned Jim's hug with one of his own.

    Comfortable in each others arms, they drifted off to sleep.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    That was seven years ago.

    Thinking back to that time, they did buy and expand the loft, as well as Blair going through the academy. He also accepted the position with the university as a full professor, and they worked with his schedule so that he could still work with Jim at the PD.

    Blair did go with a different publishing company to get the dissertation published. Sid wasn't too awful happy, but then he could see the kid's point. Declining the book tour and television interviews, he did however accept the off from Pet Fly Productions to turn The Sentinel into a television series. The third season, ended with a cliffhanger that left Blair for dead in the fountain at the university. The next day, UPN, the station that aired the show, anounced their fall guide, and The Sentinel was not on it. Fans came out of the wood work. Making calls, writing letters and sending faxes, they made it be known that they wanted their show back.

    It took several months of work, but the fans got their show back for eight episodes as a mid season replacement in February of 1999. This season ended with The Sentinel by Blair Sandburg, and Jim offering him the chance to be his permanent partner. Unfortunately, UPN again cancelled the series, but again, the fans rallied. They got the Sci-fi channel to pick up the series in reruns. The are still trying to get Sci-fi to pick it up for new episodes, but they need to wait until next year to find out if it is worth the money to produce new episodes or not.

    Now, here it is 8 PM on December 31st, 1999, and all of their friends from their department were over to see what happened when the clock struck midnight.

    Grabbing his own beer, Blair headed into the living room to get his seat that was left for him by his partner.

    "Well, so far so good," said Daryl, who was flipping channels to see if there were any problems with the computers of the world as the clock struck midnight in each time zone.

    "Yeah, but for all that we know, it could wait until it gets to the last time zone before all hell breaks loose," Henry said.

    "I really hope not, cause if all of the computers crash, then I'd lose all of the wonderful fanfic that I discovered recently," Daryl replied.

    "Fanfic, you read fanfic? Who's?" Henry asked.
    Looking at Henry like he had grown a second head, he answered, "Why The Sentinel, of course. You don't think that I spent all of those lonely nights sitting around studying, do you?

    What fandom do you read Henry?"

    "The Sentinel. did you think that I would
discover fanfc and not be reading The Sentinel?" Henry answered, and asked in return.

    "No, that's not what I meant. I was just kinda surprised that after working with the real thing all day that you would go home and relax and kinda get away from it all, that's all," Daryl said.

    "And what makes you think that reading and writing isn't relaxing?' Jim asked.

    "Oh Lord," Daryl whispered, "I think that I just put both feet in my mouth"

    "Probably," Jim returned, but honestly, do you think that we are too old or something and that we wouldn't enjoy all of thse wonderful stories out there.

    Daryl blushed slightly, and said, 'I guess in a way, I did. I'm sorry, I guess that I thought that you guys worked with crime all day and that when you get home, you would want nothing more to do with it."

    "In a way, that's true," Blair jumped in, "but you gotta look at it from the friendship point, true friends share everything together, kinda like a good married couple, through the good, the bad and the ugly, they stick together like glue."

    Giggling, Daryl said, "Well if that's the case, then you two should considered yourselves married, because you have been living together for more than seven years, and that is considered a common law marriage."

    "Cute Daryl, really cute," Jim said as he got up too get another beer.