by Brunson, Emily.

This is my  Series Page  for Sentinel recs, mostly because I wanted to do the stories
justice, in terms of recommendation, and there wasn't room for that on my Recs page.

I'm happy to supply a copy of any story that has no link supplied - by email on request.
I love Emily Brunson's writing.  She is an amazing author who handles heart-breaking storylines with a reality that I wish other authors could emulate.  Her drama is never OTT or cloying, but has a beautiful understatement about it that makes it terribly real.  Despite the harsh reality of her prose, there is always a sweetness in her relationships that keeps me coming back again and again, despite the lack of hot sex in her stories <g>.

Emily Brunson's Sentinel stories are temporarily unavailable.  She is apparently in the process of putting them up on her Emland site, but has not yet done so.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 1: Decompression.
Blair finally begins to realise that there is something wrong with Jim.
I think it took making dinner one night, and realizing that it had been at least a month since I'd cooked anything more substantial than a toasted bagel in this kitchen. I looked around and saw how neat everything was, how untouched, and I very quietly and very quickly began to flip out.
Nobody wants to admit that someone they care about has a problem. I sure as hell didn't want to think Jim was in trouble. And I had nothing concrete to base my theory on. Nothing but a prickling feeling on the back of my neck. Nothing but the way my heart sank, and then jerked into pounding so hard I thought maybe I was having a coronary. Pure fear.
Jim was in trouble.
This is an excellently written story, the first in a stellar series of vignettes that give small snapshots about the development of Jim's illness and how it affects their relationship.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 2: Absorption.
After some time of living with the knowledge of Jim's illness, Blair is still having trouble handling it.
When we got to a place where the rocks were flat and smooth, an outcropping that looks to me like a stubborn jutting jaw, I sat down, and patted the rock next to me. He sat stiffly, so tense I could smell it on him.
"What's going on, Chief?" I asked softly. "Talk to me."
The red light from the setting sun set his hair on fire; the wind off the water made his curls dance like flames. "I don't know," he answered in a dull voice.
"Chief, I'm not going anywhere. You can talk --"
"How can you say that?" he burst out, shocking the hell out of me. He glared at me. "How the hell can you say 'I'm not going anywhere'? That's crap, Jim. God." He launched himself to his feet and strode over to the water, as if he were contemplating wading on in, clothes and all. "How can you act like this is nothing? You're so -- imperturbable. Like this -- like you've got a fucking cold or something."
The guys get together in this story and it's in such a wonderfully straightforward way for a slash story that I would love this story for that fact alone.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 3: Counterdiffusion.
At Simon's birthday party, Jim is tired and Simon is beginning to notice that something is wrong.
Blair felt a flicker of terror, accompanied by something so nebulous at first he didn't even know what to call it. Embarrassment. This wasn't buff, rock-hard Jim. Jim was faster than that. Stronger than that. And yet there was this lie: he outran me. Not really a lie, but based on something Jim couldn't say. I couldn't keep going. I was already tired, and running a block and a half laid me out flat. A year ago I could have caught that guy, beaten him to a pulp, read him his rights and then jogged off for the annual Cascade Ironman. Now I get winded going
up my own stairs.
Em Brunson's language keeps me reading, even as Jim's situation worsens.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 4: Buoyancy.
Jim and Blair spend a lazy day playing chess and making love.
"I love you," he said hoarsely, looking down at me, balanced on his hands.
"Even when I beat you at chess?"
"Even then," he said, and kissed me.
I looked up and saw a million dust motes sparkling in the air above his head. It looked like brillant confetti, dancing for us, celebrating with us.
What's not to love about a story that contains the above beautiful description?

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 5: Exponentiation.
Finally, the truth of Jim's illness has hit home for him and he freaks.
He didn't look as angry now. He looked bewildered, and that scared me much, much worse. "Oh God, Blair," he whispered at me. "Have we just been kidding ourselves here? Thinking we can do anything to stop this? This doesn't make any sense. It's crazy, Blair, it's fucking nuts."
I just looked at him, and watched all his illusions fall into a thousand gallant pieces on the floor.
I love this story for its realistic description of Jim's freak-out.  I think Em Brunson has nailed Jim's character perfectly in this series.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 6: Circulation.
On the last fishing trip with Simon of the season, Jim tells Simon about his illness.
The silence sank over the room like a soft, muffling blanket. Without Sandburg's typical patter there was nothing to break the more customary silences of these two men. They were comfortable with quiet. Almost always.
"There's something I need to talk to you about," Jim said evenly. He set his cup on the battered plank coffee table.
Simon said nothing for a moment, and then nodded. "I imagine there is. You're sick, aren't you?"
I love the believability of Simon's reaction in this story.  There's no unrealistic sugary emotion in this story, only believable people reacting to a teriible situation in totally human ways.

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 7: Silent Bubble.
New Year's Eve and Jim's sickness has led him finally to a point of relative peace.
In a way, I think that this is the time I will miss most, when he's gone. This sense of not just being loved, but of being so deeply needed. Taking him to the couch and holding him in silence, I realize that we are a world unto ourselves. We're standing side-by-side, tired and rumpled, looking like ruffians or beggars instead of warriors. But we are fighting a battle, the two of us, and there is no one else in this place we have come to know so well. This circle we've drawn in shifting sands, this rickety barricade of hope and belief and determination.
Emily Brunson has totally nailed all the stages of dealing with a terrible illness, from denial to acceptance.  This is a peaceful story that brings a lump to my throat every time <happy sigh>

A Place Where No Shadows Fall 8: Saturation.
Something has changed and Jim is terrified.

The shock of finding nothing is so great that you fling yourself out of your meditation and lie gasping for breath in Blair's terrified arms, not hearing the anxious calming words he cried, but trying desperately to make sense of what you've just felt.

You gaze up into Blair's wide eyes and whisper, "Something's changed."
This is a great way for the series to end, with hope for the future.  These stories aren't for everybody - the subject matter alone will upset many - but I love it.  It's hard-hitting and emotionally draining but Emily Brunson's skill as an author as usual makes me very happy.
Date added: 30/09/03.