Riding Shotgun

by Jane Davitt

"I call shotgun."

Jim gave Blair an exasperated look. "Sandburg, you're the only one riding with me; you can't call it; there's no point."

"I just did." Blair grinned and chanted softly, "Shotgun, shotgun, shot --"

"Enough." Sometimes, you just had to be firm with the kid. "Get in, zip it, and buckle up."

"That's a lot of verbs, Jim. I've noticed that about you; you're a man of action, a doer not a thinker, a --"

Maybe he could get some peace if he tied Sandburg to the roof like the car equivalent of a ship's figurehead. Jim spent the time it took to slam the truck door and fumble for his keys in picturing Blair, hair streaming, tangled by a wild hand, blue eyes tearing up from the wind but gleaming bright with excitement, white ropes criss-crossing his body, outlining muscle, wrapped around -- no.

Jim swallowed and started the engine. Two minutes into traffic, with Blair a bopping, humming ball of energy to his right as they waited at a red light, he gave in. "Why did you call it?"

"Hmm? Oh…" Blair gave him an enchanting smile that Jim trusted as much as Willy the Dip with a wallet. "Mostly just to annoy you."

That was a given. "Mostly implies not all."

Blair pursed his lips thoughtfully. "Maybe a little just to…" His hand sketched a line in the insubstantial air. "You know. Make it plain."

"Make what plain?" Okay, he'd gotten snappy. That guaranteed he'd lost the argument right there.

Blair stared out of the window, enough of his face showing for Jim to see the upward curl of his mouth. "That this is where I belong. Guarding you. Of course, strictly speaking, on a stagecoach, I'd have been on the other side, but allowing for the position of the steering wheel in an American vehicle --"

"You're not armed," Jim pointed out a little sourly. That still bothered him, though Sandburg with a gun wasn't that reassuring a thought, either.

Blair turned his head just enough for Jim to catch a glimpse of his face, pale and set, pure resolve. "Jim, if anyone even tries to hurt you on my watch, I'll take them down one way or another, trust me. I've waited too long to find you to lose you now."

"Because I'm a Sentinel," Jim said and tried to make it matter-of-fact. Okay, that truth stung, just a little. Not important to Sandburg because of who he was, but what…

Blair looked down at his lap, where his hands were locked together. The light changed and a cacophony of horns broke out behind them, but Jim didn't pull away. "Chief? Because I'm a Sentinel, right?"

He had to be a Sentinel to catch Blair's whispered, "Mostly."

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