Home > M. G. Burton > Get It? Got it. Good!

Get It? Got it. Good!

by M. G. Burton

Disclaimer: They're not mine - but I sure wish they were. Pet Fly and Paramount own 'em but should they ever decide to get rid of them - I'll gladly adopt.... 
Well gee, I actually did it! I'd like to thank my betas, Stargazer, TAE & Shallan for all their help. Extra thanks to Mpala who sent me to Graywulf and Graywulf who gave me a home for my stories. Yep! I think there's more to come! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it!

Sept. 7/99

The room was almost dark, with the exception of the glow from the TV screen. Jim didn't remember falling asleep on the couch - but as he watched the credits roll by on the screen he realized he must have done exactly that.

From behind him came a tap, tap, tappity, tap - the sound of Sandburg working away in the dim room to the light of the screen on his laptop.

Jim slowly sat up and stretched. He looked over at his roommate, who shot him a sidelong glance and started to go through the motions of shutting down his laptop.

"You were sawing wood pretty good there, man. You must have been a lot more tired that you thought."

"Yeah, I guess I was. This stakeout has been worse than watching paint dry. And tonight, with nothing on the tube, it was easy to fall asleep."

Jim stood up, shutting off the TV. "I guess I'm done for the night. Don't stay up too late, Darwin. We've got to watch paint dry early in the morning - and I'm not going to let you sleep through it."

"Uh Jim, man, I can't go with you tomorrow - I've got some work up at the university that can't wait. I'll be there all day. Don't you remember? I told you earlier. Connor is going on the stakeout with you."

"You're right, I forgot. So what's up at the university, Chief?"

"More research. I'm following up on some leads I found a while ago, but never had the chance to pursue."

"New sentinel stuff? Why didn't you tell me sooner, or is this something I'm not going to like?"

Blair shook his head. "Actually, I don't have a clear picture of this stuff either. Until I do, I want to continue working on the research before we start discussing it."

"Whatever you say, Chief. I'll see you in the morning." As he walked by the dining room table, Blair closed the laptop and said goodnight. Jim walked to the stairs expecting to hear Blair get up and walk towards his own room, but Blair didn't move. He listened closely, Blair's heart rate had sped up a bit, and he could almost swear he was holding his breath. //What was up with him?//

Jim shrugged, undressed, and climbed into bed. A short time later, he noticed the return of the soft light downstairs and the tapping sound resumed. //Whatever he was up to, Blair didn't want to share the information, at least not yet. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, like when he wants to run some new test on me.// Jim sighed and turned over in a vain attempt to get some sleep.

"What's wrong Jim? Too much coffee? You're pacing like a caged lion," asked Connor.

"No, just getting impatient for this stakeout to be over. We're getting nowhere."

Connor watched him pace.

Jim moved back to the window and after a short time did a double take. "Did you just see what I thought I saw?"

"No. What did you see, Jim?"

"A woodchuck. One minute it was there. The next it was gone."

"That's it for you. No more coffee. You're starting to see things. Maybe you should take a bit of a rest, I can keep watch for the next while," Connor offered.

He tried to rest, but returned to his pacing a short time later. Megan's eyes began to reflect the tension she felt as she wondered how bad this episode would get. She could see Jim becoming more agitated as the day progressed. When their relief arrived, she couldn't have been happier.

"Now to call Sandy and put him on alert," Megan muttered.

Getting in her car, she pulled out her cell phone and hurriedly dialed the loft. Getting no answer there, and not willing to leave a message, she then dialed the number at the university Blair had given her.

"Blair Sandburg."

"Sandy, this is Megan. We've got a problem. During the stakeout today, Jim was showing signs of agitation that I haven't seen since, well, since that Barnes woman was causing trouble almost a year ago. Could this be a sentinel related thing?"

Not far behind her, Jim sat in the truck. He rested his forehead on the steering wheel and had a heavy feeling in his stomach at those words. //'Could this be a sentinel related thing?' How long has she known?//

//Just when I need to talk to him, he decides to play hard to find. He didn't get home until late last night, and went straight to bed - no chance for me to talk with him. He was out the door early this morning, again. It's like he's trying to avoid me. What the hell is going on?//

Jim stared at the report in front of him. The same report he'd been trying to work on for the past hour. This was getting him nowhere. Every time he tried to concentrate on the report, the events of the last few days started to play themselves out for him. It had nasty echoes of the past. //Sandburg wouldn't do this again. He couldn't. There's no way, is there?//

He noticed for about the fifth time in the last two hours, that Connor was watching him. She must have said something to Simon, because he'd been out of his office roughly four times in the same amount of time. It annoyed him to be watched like this. It only made things worse.

"Ellison, I need to see you in my office," said Simon. The tone was not the usual tough one he used to call people on the carpet...this one was tinged with concern. Jim's stomach sank as he rose and walked towards the captain's office. He could feel everyone's eyes on him as he went.

Closing the door behind him, he readied himself for what he knew was coming. The last time he had acted like this he'd blown a gasket. He would not let it come to that again. He was trying desperately to remain in control.

"Jim, what's going on?"

"I'm not sure, Simon. I'm beginning to suspect there may be another sentinel in the city. I seem to be getting similar feelings, but not quite as strong as the last time. They're different somehow, but I can't put my finger on it."

"Have you talked about this with Sandburg?"

"No, for some reason he seems to be avoiding me. I've barely seen him in the last few days. Since about the time all of this started."

Simon's expression hardened. Clearly this was not a path he intended to journey down again. "I strongly suggest you find Sandburg and talk with him about this. In fact, make that an order, detective. I need you at your best. You're no good to anyone in this state."

Luck was with him. Jim found a spot not far from the Volvo in the campus parking lot near Hargrove Hall. He tried to ignore the sense of unease as he walked toward the building, glancing quickly at the fountain where disaster had struck the last time. He quickened his step, practically racing to Blair's office. By the time he reached the door, his heart was in his mouth.

Through the window, he saw someone move in the small room, but it didn't have the feel of his guide's movements. Extending his hearing, he tried to listen for the familiar heartbeat and was rewarded with the rhythm of a stranger and a bizarre shuffling sound.

Jim slowly opened the door part way. Out shuffled a woodchuck that sat up and regarded him for a moment and then slowly ambled down the hall past him. With his eyes wide in shock, he opened the door the rest of the way to see the stranger standing behind Blair's desk.

//This can't be happening!// Jim shuddered as the words tumbled into his mind. Everything was in chaos. "No!" Jim heard himself whisper as his eyes took in the mysterious man standing defiantly before him.

The red headed figure stood and glared at him with twinkling blue eyes, challenging him, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

//Damn! It's bad enough he looks like Danny Kaye, but does he also have to be dressed as the Inspector General?//

Jim jerked awake, his heart racing. The room was dim, lit only by the light of the TV. Behind him he heard the tap, tap, tappity, tap of Blair working away on his laptop.

Jim slowly sat up and stretched. He looked over at his roommate, who shot him a sidelong glance and started to go through the motions of shutting down his laptop.

"You were sawing wood pretty good there, man. You must have been a lot more tired that you thought. You missed most of the movie. All that's left now are the credits. I thought you wanted to watch The Inspector General?"

"I guess I was more tired than I realized. I'll catch the movie another time." Trying to appear nonchalant Jim stretched and rubbed the back of his neck, while mentally he was desperately attempting to sort things out. Getting up and walking over to the table where Blair sat working he asked, "Uh, Chief. I need to ask you a quick question. Now, don't take this personally. Okay?"

Blair peered at Jim from over the screen of the laptop. "Well, if you put it that way how can I say no? Ask away," he said curious to hear what his friend needed answered.

Jim cleared his throat and stared at a point somewhere beyond his roommate. Blair had to fight the impulse to turn around to see what was so darned interesting.

"Chief, let's say you noticed something about someone that made you believe I wasn't... Well, I wasn't the only one, besides Alex I mean."

Blair's eyes narrowed. //What the hell?// "I think you know the answer to that one." Regarding his roommate with a look of incredulity he asked, "Jim,are you looking for reassurance here?"

Jim continued to stare beyond Blair's head, which was really, really, starting to get on the younger man's nerves. When there was no forthcoming comment Blair continued. "Jim, you would know as soon as the thought crossed my mind."

Jim let out a loud sigh and visibly relaxed.

"What brought this on, man?" Blair looked totally confused. //Damn, he's doing that staring thing again.//

Jim coughed and said hesitantly, "I don't know. Just had a thought."

Blair smiled in spite of himself. Jim seemed downright worried. //Almost like he.... Wait a minute ... //

"Jim were you dreaming a minute ago? Did you dream about another sentinel?"

Jim blushed and continued to stare beyond Blair's head.

"Jim, we may need to investigate this, man. What did the sentinel look like?"

"Well, I, uh... Let's just say he wasn't like me. There was a man and a spirit animal.

"Did you see another jaguar?" Blair was becoming animated, a mixture of excitement and dread on his face.

"No, no. No, jaguars, buddy. Nothing like that. I think I'd better go to bed, Chief. That stupid movie has messed with my dreams."

Jim turned away and quickly went up the stairs, mumbling to himself as he went. "There's no way I'm going to start talking to Sandburg about woodchuck spirit guides and sentinels who are Danny Kaye look-a-likes," he mumbled.

For about the millionth time, Blair wished for a portion of sentinel senses as he strained to hear the mumbled words Jim kept repeating.

"Uh, Jim? Are you talking about -- woodchucks? *Woodchucks*?" Blair repeated in bewilderment as he got up from where he was sitting.

"Goodnight, Sandburg."

"Hey! Wait, wait! What the hell are you talking about?"

Jim could hear the younger man clambering up the stairs after him. He turned at his bed and made a stopping motion with his hands.

"Let it go, Blair. It's no big deal, okay? I just had a stupid dream and I want to get some real sleep now."

Blair stepped over to him, ignoring Jim's attempts to end the conversation.

"Listen, man. This is not *us* anymore. We don't do *this*, remember?"

Jim looked into his friend's luminous eyes and felt the pull of responsibility he found so familiar these days. With a sigh, he sat on the bed and patted the mattress beside him.

"Sit down, Blair. You're right. If I am going to regain your trust, I have to be willing to talk things over, even the stupid stuff I guess. There have been plenty of times when you have taken something I thought was sheer lunacy and shown me how important it was."

Sandburg squinted down at the detective as he pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. "I am not sure to take that as an attempt at a compliment or a blatant insult. And what is this about "regaining trust"? You know I trust you, Jim."

Jim had to smile and said softly, "Chief, *will* you sit down? I just mean that my question earlier...about you telling me if there was another sentinel...had to bring some issues up for you. I know that damned dream did for me. You're a smart guy. I know you had to have a bit of a flashback there, huh?"

Blair continued to stand. Jim watched the kaleidoscope of emotions flash in his friend's eyes as Blair analyzed the words.

"Blair. Sit down. *Please*?"

Blair's expressive eyes suddenly brightened and focused back on Jim. He sat down on the bed and put his forearms on his knees. He slouched so far over that all Jim could see was the curtain of hair that fell over his face.

Jim continued in the soft voice, "Chief, I never meant to imply that I think you would betray me somehow. I know you.... And I know my question had to bother you. I also know you are very interested in my dreams because of our past experiences. I want you to know that I would not let anything like *that* happen to us again. It's just...well, I am a little embarrassed to talk about this one. It seems so silly now."

Blair raised his head and turned towards Jim. He shifted over so he could sit cross-legged in his typical meditative position and looked eagerly at Jim. "Well, we'll never know if it's something significant unless you talk to me, man. You said earlier there was a spirit animal or something?"

Jim forced himself to keep looking at Sandburg. "Yes, there was a spirit animal. I guess you could call it that."

"But you said it wasn't a jaguar, right?" Blair's eyes had taken on the sparkle that was so characteristic of the young man in scientist mode. Jim couldn't help but smile at the return of that intense gaze. Things were good in the guide's world when that expression was on his face. Jim gathered his courage and plowed ahead.

"It was a woodchuck, Chief. And, yes, there was a sentinel, or what I perceive to be a sentinel, based upon my past responses to the presence of another one."

"Wait a minute here, Jim. The spirit guide was a woodchuck?" Blair's voice betrayed his amusement.

"If you're gonna make fun, Sandburg, I'll stop right now."

"No! No, no, no.... Sorry. Look. See. No amusement here. None at all." Blair put on his most serious expression. "What was that about another sentinel?"

"He was in your office, Chief. Like before. So you can see why I was a little unnerved. Something else was weird. Megan and I were on a stakeout in the dream. She was watching me and talking to herself. She muttered something about calling you. She said *it* was happening again. She knew about me, Blair." Jim directed his crystalline blue gaze at Blair and half asked, half guessed, "She knows, doesn't she?"

His guide's mouth fell open and a flush spread from his neck to his face. When he spoke, the words tumbled out, one on top of the other, in a desperate attempt to make things right, "Jim, oh man, yeah. She, ummm. I, well, she found out when we went to get Alex. When we were at the church and everything went nuts. I was an idiot, Jim. I left the copy of Burton's book on a pew and Megan found it. She must have looked through it. She said something about sentinels. I had to admit that you were one. She had it nailed, Jim. Oh God. Oh man. No one else knows, Jim. I am not even sure how much Megan understands. She can't know it all. God, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I was sure she didn't really *get* it you know, and... Shit..."

Jim took pity on his friend and held up his hand. "You know, Chief, I should be really pissed off about this. I mean after all that we have been through and the strides forward we've made." Blair's face paled even more. "But you know what? I realized that Megan was bound to find out sooner or later anyway. She's a good detective and can be a friend to us both. You never know, that knowledge might help us if things get a little crazy out there someday. Right now we can just play it by ear." Jim peered at his friend. "Hey, Chief, you can breathe now. That other sentinel thing does seem to have gotten to me a bit. I can't really describe it, but some of the feelings I had in the dream were very similar to what I experienced with Alex."

Some color had returned to Blair's face. "Wow! Maybe we need to research this, Jim. It could be that you are sensing something here. Have you been experiencing any other symptoms? Have you been feeling...."

Jim looked away and mumbled, "It was Danny Kaye, Sandburg."

"What did you say...it sounded like...nah...what did you say?"

Jim continued to look away. "The sentinel was Danny Kaye."

Sandburg made a little choking sound which brought Jim's attention back to him. As Jim watched he could see little tears begin to gather in the corners of his guide's eyes. Watching Blair's frantic attempt at controlling his amusement finally proved too much for the detective. All the tension and stress caused by the dream seemed to fade as he began to chuckle. Blair's eyes widened and one of the tears spilled down his cheek. Jim began to laugh harder as he reached over and circled a long arm around his friend's neck and quickly pulled Blair into a rough embrace.

"That's right, kid. It was Danny Kaye. *And* he was dressed as the Inspector General. Want to make somethin' of it?"

Blair's shoulders began to shake under Jim's arm and the effervescent sound of Blair's laughter filled the room. He pulled away from Jim and wiped his eyes. "You really had me going there, Jim. I was about ready to call in Simon. Now *that* would have been a disaster." He began to giggle again.

Jim took a deep breath and put his hands on Blair's shoulders. Seeing the expression on Jim's face turn serious, Blair met his eyes with a questioning look.

"Chief, I don't worry about you *or* you becoming involved with another sentinel. You're my best friend and I trust you. Get it?"

Blair looked unwaveringly into Jim's eyes and put his hands on the sentinel's shoulders to complete the connection. "Got it!"

The two friends, sentinel and guide, grinned at each other as they said quietly in unison, "Good."

Meet DK - My mascot...

woodchuck.gif (34348 bytes)


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