Growing up the way that I did, I had a lot of uncertainty in my life. Even later, after I was out on my own, things didn't get a whole lot better. I was always scrambling, trying to get together money for tuition, books, rent or any other of the many expenses that seemed to pop up out of nowhere. Or if I wasn't trying to figure out where to get money, I was trying to figure out where to live. It's not like I wasn't used to moving around. Naomi and I did a lot of it when I was a kid. I got used to it after a while. Hell, I guess a person can get used to anything if given enough time. And it wasn't that bad really. I was always being exposed to new people, new places. But every so often, I'd wonder. Wondered what it'd be like to have a home. Wondered what it'd be like to find a place to belong. For a while, I thought I'd finally found it. I thought that I'd found it when I met you. It didn't start out that way, of course. In the beginning, I never thought that I'd grow so close to you. That I'd grow to need you so much. That I'd grow to love you so much.

At first, I just saw you as a research subject, someone to be observed and studied. You were my thesis, my dissertation. My ticket to finally getting those three little letters after my name. I should have remained detached. I should have kept my objectivity. But I didn't. And it happened so gradually, just little by little, that I didn't even realize it was happening at first. Then, by the time I did see what was happening, I didn't care. It was too late. Too late to go back to the way it was, the way it was supposed to be. We were friends. Looking back, I probably should have changed my dissertation topic then. But I couldn't. For so long, I had believed in the existence of Sentinels. Believed that I would find one. Through it all, the lost grants, the skepticism, and often outright ridicule, I had maintained and defended that belief. And when a person has held on to something for so long, it's so damn hard to finally let go and give it up.

Then, I moved into the loft. And together we turned it into a home. The home I'd always longed for without even being aware of it. I'd come home from a late night at the university and I'd find you asleep on the couch, the TV on with snow on the screen. Or, if I'd get home early, I'd find you standing at the stove putting the finishing touches on dinner. And I have to admit that I liked it. I liked knowing that someone cared enough to wait up for me, that someone cared enough to have a warm supper waiting for me. It just made me feel ... feel warm inside. Made me feel welcomed and wanted.

After a little while, I started to do the same for you. It was kinda weird at first. I'd never actually waited up for anyone before and the only cooking I did was usually for myself. And that was always just whatever I could scrounge up. But one day, classes were cancelled and as I was driving back to the loft, I passed a grocery store. It was my turn to stock up so I stopped. But as I was walking down the aisles, I just started picking up the stuff to make a casserole. I didn't even think about it really. When I got back to the loft and started putting everything up, I was actually kind of surprised to see the stuff.

I didn't have much to do. No papers to grade or ones to write for once and I needed something to keep busy. So I cooked. I was just taking it out of the oven when you came home. You looked so worn out and tired. I turned and watched as you hung up your jacket. It was funny. You just kinda paused, your jacket halfway to the hook. I saw you tilt your head up and it looked like you were sniffing. Then you turned and looked into the kitchen. When you saw what I had fixed, you smiled. That smile, it just kinda lit up your whole face. And at that moment, I just felt so happy. Happy that I had done something to make you happy. While we ate, you kept telling me how good everything was and then we washed the dishes together. Later, as we were watching TV, I looked over at you and the feeling just hit me all of a sudden. I was surprised when I finally figured out what it was. It was a feeling of home, of being at home with you.

Everything started to change when you read the first chapter of my dissertation. But, then again, looking back on it all, I think maybe it started earlier than that. I think it really started when Incacha died. When, with his dying breath, he grabbed my arm and passed on the way of the Shaman to me. Hell, I didn't even realize it at first. It was like after I first met you. Just like when we grew close, I didn't notice as we started to drift apart. At first, it was little things. You'd tell me that you didn't need me at the station. Didn't need my help. Didn't need me. So, I'd spent some extra time at the University. And, before I knew it, we were hardly seeing each other at all. Just pass each other in the mornings or in the evenings. What finally brought me to my senses, no pun intended, was a phone call from Simon. He called one night for you and when I answered, he made some crack about there hadn't been any trouble at the station in a while since the resident trouble magnet hadn't been around lately. After I handed over the phone to you, I went into my room to think about what he had said and I didn't come out the rest of the night. You didn't come to check on me either.

After that, I made a conscious effort to hang around the station more. To be around you more. There for a little while, I thought it might have been working. That we had restored some of the closeness between us. But then, you took off for Clayton Falls. Without me. Without even bothering to tell me you were leaving. After Simon and I followed you up there, I was shocked by your reaction when you saw us. I never thought... I never imagined that you could feel that way. That you could think that about me. You're not some lab rat to me. I mean, yes, maybe I thought that in the beginning. But not now. Not after seeing the kind of man that you are. Not after I grew to love you so much. Those words, your words, hurt so damn much. Then, after I got sick, you acted like you didn't even care. Simon showed more concern then you did. And after it was all over, after the bad guys were caught, you made that smart ass remark. You were glad to finally get rid of us. Glad to get rid of me. In that moment, I felt so unwanted. Unneeded. And oh so cold inside.

When you came back, there was this ... this cool politeness between us most of the time. We weren't fighting. But it was just like ... like there was no emotions, no feelings, behind anything that we did, behind how we interacted with each other. Then, you read the first chapter of my dissertation. I think that we had been struggling up to that point. But then, I think that's when we started to die, when whatever remained between us started to die. Everything just went so bad, so wrong, after that. So it's no wonder Alex was able to tear us apart. Hell, we had already done most of the work for her.

You know, despite all the scientific reasoning behind it, despite my head knowing the reasons you were compelled to do what you did, I still feel such a sense of pain, a sense of betrayal, when I think about you and Alex that day on the beach. When I saw her in your arms. When I saw you kissing the woman that killed me. You know; you called my soul back at the fountain. You called my spirit back that day. But at that moment, I think it died again. And it hurt so much. More than anything. For a second, I thought you were going to let her shoot me. For a second, I wished that you would. But then you, gently, lowered her arm. Then, you watched as she ran away. There was such a look of longing on your face as you stared after her. As much as I wanted not to, I have to admit that there's a part of me that hated you for that.

Then came everything at the temple. Through all of it, the thing that registered the most with me is that you left me behind. I'm supposed to be your guide. I'm supposed to be there to help you with your senses. And when I thought you would need me the most, you left me behind. You went after her on your own. When Megan and I woke up that morning and discovered you were gone. I wanted to believe that you had gone to stop her. But there was a part of me that wondered if you had gone to finish what I had interrupted on the beach. I think I almost felt relieved when I found out you had went to stop her. Even though you had left me behind. Then, when it was all finished, I saw you staring after her when she was being carried off. I felt so alone.

I think that I knew it was over after that. But I refused to admit it. Not even to myself. I didn't want to give up what I had with you. What I used to have with you. So, after we came back to Cascade, I moved back into the loft. But something was missing. It was just a place to live. It wasn't a home anymore. I just got through things one day at a time. Just going through the motions. Sometimes, I'd try to talk to you. But I never went through with it. You just seemed so closed off, so inaccessible. And this time, no matter what I did, I couldn't reach you.

When Naomi showed up, I was so happy to see her. No matter what happened while I was growing up, I always knew that she loved me. At that moment, I needed that. I needed to feel that someone loved me. But then, she sent my dissertation to that friend of hers. And that was it. That's when my world came crashing down around me.

I tried to stay. I wanted to stay. Even after everything that happened, I still held out some hope. Hope that you and I could work everything out. Hope that we could finally, finally get back what we had lost. But... but I couldn't. Because I finally realized, you see. I had deluded myself. Deluded myself into thinking that I had finally found what I had been searching for all of my life. And I'm not talking about finding a Sentinel. I'm talking about something so much more important. You see; it turns out I had been really searching for something completely different. But I hadn't found it. I hadn't found a home. Hadn't found a family. Hadn't found a place where I was wanted, was needed.

It's time, Jim. Time for me to let go.

So, I guess I'm back to searching again. Hopefully, I'll find that place someday. Or, if not, I'll find a place where thinking about what I lost doesn't hurt so much. But I seriously doubt that place even exists.

I'll miss you, Jim. Miss you more than you could ever imagine. I suppose it wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't love you. But I can't help that. No matter what they do to you, no matter what may happen, you always love your family. And, to me, you'll always be my family. Take care of yourself. And know that no matter where I am or what I'm doing, I'll be thinking of you.



SURF ALL DAY @ BAJA.COM / the interactive peninsula!

Cool Counters @