Home > M. G. Burton > Vision For A New Day

Vision For A New Day

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....

Author's Notes: You can blame this one on Hephaistos' request for a small object that Blair could carry around with him.  Many thanks to my betas - Shallan & TAE!

The Dream

I found myself back at the Saulteau reservation. I hadn’t been there in more than 10 years. It was a short trip, but part of my studies at Rainier. I was walking through familiar streets, past homes of the people that lived there. Nothing like the images that sprang to mind when you talk about North American Indians. Tepees, wigwams, pueblos, and lodges are what came to mind, not small prefab houses or trailers.

I recognized the faces I saw and noted the shy glances from the pretty girls, followed by the stern looks from their disapproving parents. I remember that this was the last day here. I was the youngest member of our group, but apparently I had caught the eye of more than just the young girls.

My questions about the storytellers, who passed their history down through generations in the oral tradition, had caught the attention of several elders, including a shaman, Jonathan Two Crows. I listened intently for hours as history was brought to life, asking questions when the story was done. This beat a lecture or reading some of our texts any day. For the three days we were there, I listened, watched and learned, while the Jonathan Two Crows listened and watched me.

I joined the rest of our group as we started our good byes. Professor Buckner had lead the Rainier group and was talking with the village elders. He motioned for me to join him when he noticed I had arrived. As we shook the hands of the elders before we departed, to my dismay, a small, smooth stone is pressed into my palm by the shaman who had been standing patiently at the end of the line.

"For your journey. It will help you on your path," he said loud enough that only we knew what he had said. I didn’t have time to look at it, so I shoved it into my pocket. I hurried after Professor Buckner and boarded the van, ready to go back to the University.

Later, when I was back at the dorm, I pulled the stone out and examined it. It was a small smooth white stone, like you’d find in a riverbed. On it was drawn a circle. Inside the circle was the glyph of some sort of bird. I had to look this up. Hours later I understood it to be a dream stone. The bird was, at least I think it was, a quail. It represented communication. Hmmm…. Definitely the wrong major there. I’m in Anthro, not Communications….

The Search

From Blair's room come muffled sounds. Muffled to anyone else maybe. But for me, I can hear him muttering about something that he's trying to find. What? I'm not sure. From the sounds of it, he's tearing the room apart.

"Hey Chief? Anything I can help you look for?" I call out as I walk down the hall toward his room.

I reach the doorway to his room, and realize he hasn't even heard me. He's like a man possessed the way he's digging through boxes, drawers and any type of container found in the room. The room looks like a cyclone has hit it, and he's still going. No, he's not a man possessed. He's more like a terrier trying to remember where he's buried his favourite bone. I wonder what it is he is looking for?

He stops.

"It's not here!" he spits out in frustration. He rises and brushes past me as though I'm not there. I'm not sure when I've seen him this focused on anything. It's a little unnerving. I follow him down the hall, to see him grab his keys from the basket by the door. He's not putting on his coat, so he probably isn't going far. Listening, I follow his footsteps to the elevator and hear his trip down to the basement. He's going to the locker to try to find what ever it is he's looking for.

I look back towards his room, and pray he leaves the locker in better shape than the room was left in. I know I am not the one to point a finger about rearranging rooms when the instincts start kicking in. I realize now that is what Sandburg is doing, reminding me of a time when I felt a compulsion to act. That sensation causes me to shudder and I realize why his behavior has the *blessed protector* part of me on alert. I sigh and check my watch, and realize that if I don't get moving I'm going to be late for my date with Diane.

I come out of the shower a short time later to discover Sandburg's returned to the loft, and now he's back in his room. From the sounds of it, he's actually cleaning up. I can't complain. It's his space and he can do what he likes as long as it's done my way. Grinning to myself at that thought, I open the door and step out of the bathroom and duck my head into his room before heading upstairs.

"Did you find what you were looking for Chief?"

"Uh, yeah, Jim. I did," he replied distractedly. I look at him with concern. This is not the buoyant and talkative guide I am used to having around.

Well, maybe we'll talk about it later. I've got to get moving.

Twenty minutes later, I'm ready to leave. Sandburg's still in his room. The sounds of movement have stopped. I duck in to check on him. He's sitting on his bed tumbling what looks like a small stone over in his hands. He seems mesmerized by it. Maybe that's what he was tearing this place apart for. I wonder why? I guess I'll find out later. I only hope I can give him the time he needs to work this through.

"I'll see you later Sandburg. I don't know when I'll be back. You know the drill."

"Yeah, Jim. Have a good time. I'll remember to leave the chain lock off for you."

The Revelation

"How many times have I done this before? Too many to be counted. And yet..." I mutter to myself as I gather the things I need for the meditation. Candles, music, and finally, the dream stone. That is what makes this time different. The dream stone.

I turn off the lights and envelop the loft in a blanket of darkness. Taking my candles, I light each one individually and set it on the coffee table in a growing pattern of illumination. As I turn on the music, I finally feel a calmness settle over me, but it does not lessen my sense of purpose. I settle on the floor, arrange myself in the familiar cross-legged pose of meditation, and take a deep breath. Okay, time to get on with this, already. I focus on the dream stone and once it is firmly fixed in my mind, I close my eyes and begin the deep breathing exercises.

I relax further and breathe normally as my consciousness drifts. Slowly, a light begins to form before me, separating as it forms blurred images. As the vision clears, I see Jonathan Two Crows crouched in front of me, his left hand gently grasping the nape of a large wolf's neck. After more than ten years he has changed little, aged some, but his appearance is much the same.

"Little Brother, you have finally found your way here."

"Where exactly is here?" I ask as I look around, taking in the landscape of this incredible vision. Part of me is very much aware that I am, in fact, still in the loft, sitting cross-legged on the floor. The other part gazes in wonder at the starkness of the land I now encounter. The area, a hilltop or mountainside, is mostly rock, bared and smoothed by time, wind, and rain. Scrubby pines dot the horizon but are so sparse that I realize we are on higher elevation than I first recognized.

"This is the place you must walk," replied Jonathan. "This is the place between worlds where the wolf walks seeking the knowledge of our grandfathers. Where you must walk so you may guide your sentinel. You must be the pathfinder."

"You knew." It wasn't a question but a statement of fact. "How did you know? Is that why you gave me the stone.... so that I'd find my way here? Are you *my* guide? Is the wolf my animal spirit or a spirit guide?"

Jonathan chuckled quietly and smiled as he shook his head. "So many questions, Little Brother. Yes, I knew a part of what was to come. I had a dream before you came. You appeared to me, and it was then my guides told me what I must do, but not why. My part in your journey is nearly done. The wolf is a part of you. Follow it through the place between worlds, seek out the ancient wisdom and learn. Teach your friend what you learn or use the wisdom to help him as the path dictates, guide him as is your destiny."

I close my eyes and shake my head in disagreement. "No. This is too soon. I am unsure of myself, my path, hell... even my purpose. Jim is not about to follow me on any journey. Not now."

"You must be the pathfinder. When you discover the true path your sentinel shall follow. His choice will be yours."

I open my eyes to voice my fears and doubts, but as I glance about me, I see nothing but the barren horizon. Jonathan Two Crows has gone. I close my eyes again and let his words replay through my mind. "You must be the pathfinder." Me, the directionally challenged, a pathfinder? I fight the fear, pushing it outward and dissipating it into the air about me. Then I regroup to the center of my being, open my mind, and repeat a new mantra. "Pathfinder." I continually rub the stone and my sense of time is lost as I determine to glean what such a name must mean for me and ultimately, Jim.

The Discovery

The elevator ride to the loft seems to take forever. Next time the stairs. Definitely the stairs. At least I can take them two at a time. I am ticked off enough with myself, it's putting me on edge. You would think I could make it through a date without this sentinel thing rearing it's ugly little head. But here I am, worrying about Sandburg. He's a big boy, he can take care of himself, trouble magnet that he is. But here I am anyway, mother hen that I am, on my way back up to the loft to check on him. I *know* something is wrong.

As the elevator door slides open, I take a deep breath and prepare to feel like an idiot. Just how am I going to explain to Sandburg what I am doing home so soon? I fumble with my keys, get the door open, and am greeted by total darkness. I dial up my hearing and concentrate on it while at the same time I think about how pissed I am going to be with myself if I find out Sandburg's out and I have ruined my own evening to come back here to check on him.

I have to admit I am a little surprised when I hear the familiar heartbeat. Its rhythm is slow and steady. In fact, it is almost too slow. I scan the darkened loft and use my hearing to direct my sight. There he is. He is meditating cross-legged on the damn floor. I shake my head in irritation as I walk across the room to where he sits. It is cold in this place, cold even to me. What the hell is going on? The sharp edge of fear, far too familiar a sensation, joins the knot of anxiety I feel in the pit of my stomach.

I move next to him, taking in his meditative pose, crouching beside his much too still form. He begins mumbling something as I near him but it is too slurred for me to understand, sentinel hearing and all.

His face is calm enough, but he is constantly rubbing something between his slender fingers. I grab his hand and gently pry the digits open and then stare at the smooth stone that falls into my open palm. Wasn't this the thing he was tearing the place apart for earlier?

As realization slowly dawns, I look around the room. The remnants of candles are scattered about, their flames long extinguished. Shit! How long has he been sitting here?

"Sandburg." I purposely keep my voice calm and gentle. The last thing I need to do is scare him right now. "Chief, come on. Snap out of it, buddy." I reach over and tap him on the cheek. God, he’s freezing! The knifelike edge of fear tears through my stomach again.

I cup his chilled face in my hands and quietly urge him out of this trance, or whatever it is. All I know is he is going to catch hell from me, as soon as I know he is safe. "Blair, I need you to come back to me here. Come on, Chief, open your eyes." There is no response, so I rub my thumbs along his cheekbones as I cradle his face between my hands, attempting to warm his chilled skin and urging him to resurface.

Fear opens the door to anger and my voice takes on an edge of frustration as I speak his name. His breathing and heartbeat remain quiet and slow, which only frightens me further. My guide’s usual alert exuberance, the very essence of him, is *totally* hidden from me in this persistent state. His skin is so cold to the touch that it reminds me of another time I almost lost him, not so long ago. My heart skips a beat as the knife of fear plunges deeper.

Every protective instinct I have in me cries out for drastic measures. I rush to his room, grab a couple of blankets off his bed, and return to his side. I carefully wrap the first blanket around his shoulders and then shake out the second and drape it over his head, tucking it around his body, so that only his ashen face and a few curls can be seen. I move in close beside him and slowly straighten his legs and massage the muscles in his calves, waiting for some kind of response. The whole time I am talking to him, urging him, hell, begging him, to leave the trance, to come back to reality, to come back to me.

Still there is nothing. No movement. No change in expression. No difference in his heart rate. All the signs that I am so desperately monitoring remain the same. Finally, I let what Blair might call pure sentinel instinct take over, and pull him over to me and I put my face next to his. I push the blanket off his head and stroke his hair with my trembling hands. The silky curls separate in my fingers as I move my hands over his head and my heart tightens with raw emotion.

My fear, anxiety, and anger at the situation I find myself in due to my guide’s lack of concern for himself prompt me to further desperate measures. "Sandburg!" I yell as I hug his limp body close. I push a shaking hand through his curls and clutch his head to my chest and command, "Come out of it, Chief! Now! Do you hear me, Sandburg? Come out of it!" He tightens in my arms and I feel and hear his heart trip and then race in fright. //Dammit. Serves the little shit right.//

"What the hell?" he gasps as I continue to hold him close. No way I’m letting him go now. Not until I know he is back for good. His eyes are wide as he blinks up at me and I realize he can’t see in the darkness.

I shake him and growl, "What do you think you’re doing, Sandburg, sitting here in the dark like that? You were gone and I couldn’t get you back." My voice cracked with emotion and this only made me angrier. How dare he put himself in danger and drag me along for the ride.

"What in the hell did you think you were doing, you little idiot? What if I hadn’t come home? Would I have just found you passed out on the floor here? Dammit!"

He just closes his eyes and sighs as he fights to regain control. I realize I am still hugging him to my chest and my hand is desperately carding through his hair as I talk. I doubt my angry words have their desired effect. I am just a softy at heart when it comes to Sandburg anymore, no matter how much of a hardass I pretend to be.

With eyes still closed, he whispers, "God, I’m really sorry, Jim. I never meant to do anything like this. I swear, man." I just shake my head, as I look down on him and then feel his arms go around my waist in a loose hug. I hug him back and feel the last of my anger vanish with it. But that doesn’t mean he won’t endure a bit of the Ellison ass chewing he deserves. Nope, he worked hard for it this time... and he will get it.

The Reprieve

I am suddenly aware of encompassing warmth. The kind of comforting sensation you usually get after you have been "chilled to the bone" cold. Reality still struggles to surface in my rather dimly lit mind. I mean, man oh man... I am something of a blithering idiot here... Can't get my thoughts to follow one another.... Everything is skipping around like quicksilver. Then I become aware of him. Well, crap. Jim is holding me, peering into my face like I am some kind of alien. His voice is shaking and he is running a hand through my hair but he is saying all manner of pissed off things. I think I've blown it. Big time.

"God, I'm really sorry, Jim. I never meant to do anything like this. I swear, man."

Jim sits me up and looks closely in my eyes. His face is set in an expression of frustrated worry, but his eyes give away the panic I had heard in his voice as I had come back to the present reality. And Jim doesn't like to do panic. Not at all.

He moves the blankets that are pooled around me closer and demands, "Are you back with me Sandburg? What in the hell have you gotten yourself into this time, huh?"

I sit up a little straighter and try out my voice, hopefully I will sound like I know what I am doing. "I'm here, I'm here, man. Just give me a sec... I guess I was shooting for Naomi's record without even trying." Jim moves away, stands, and reaches for my hand. He pulls me up, blankets and all, in a swift movement and then pushes my shuddering body to the couch.

"Sit down, Sandburg. You're shaking like a leaf." He plops me rather unceremoniously on the couch and goes to the thermostat to turn up the heat and then turn on the light. He then heads to the kitchen, lecturing me as he makes his way to the refrigerator. "Keep the damned blankets around you. You were cold as a corpse when I got back here. And I don't mind telling you that finding you like that brought back some memories I would just as soon leave alone, if you know what I mean."

He slams the refrigerator door shut and starts back over with a couple of beers. He appears to rethink the beer, and returns the bottles to the fridge, slamming the door yet again. Setting up the coffee maker, he waits while it brews, giving me a chance to think this over. How am I going to explain what I was doing? Will he even understand why? I watch as he makes his way back to the living room with two steaming hot mugs of coffee. I rest my face in my hands and wait for him to make his way back over to the couch. Let the ass chewing begin.

I hear his footsteps approach and stop....

And then nothing.

I venture a look up at his face, hoping for the best. No such luck. His jaw is clenched as tight as a vise and those crystal blue eyes are cold as ice and looking straight through me. He says nothing as he hands me a mug. Is this a peace offering or a diversionary tactic? God, either way I am at his mercy.

"So, tell me, Chief. What was going on? I come back here on a hunch, find you in some kind of trance I can't get you out of, and the place is totally dark and cold as a meat locker. And to top it off, you are mumbling something over and over while you rub this rock.... Where the hell is it?" He fishes in his shirt pocket and finds my stone and holds it out to me. "So who were you trying to channel anyway? Or do I want to even know?"

My head automatically pops up and I find myself giggling nervously. "What? This from the man who used to think channeling was going between ESPN and Fox Sports on game day? Man, I have made a few changes here, haven't I? And what is this about a hunch? You had a hunch about me, man? This is so cool, I can't wait...."

"SANDBURG! Shut the hell up. You are not going to get me off on some sentinel study tangent, you hear? I want to know what the *HELL* you think you were doing and I want to know NOW!"

I shut up. And I think. I think really hard and really fast. He stares at me, never batting an eyelash. Okay, go for it Sandburg. It is now or never, boy. Put those fast talking skills to use. I take a sip of the coffee... and just do it.

 "Well, Jim. I've been thinking. I mean I am *supposed* to be the shaman of the great city, right? Incacha said so. Don't you think it is a bit curious that you are the one with all the visions and stuff, though? You have seen a Chopec warrior and Incacha. You have a spirit animal. So here I am a shaman and all and... Nothing. Not since the fountain, anyway. Not a damned thing. So I got curious. I wanted to see if the wolf is my spirit guide... if he really is *mine*, you know? I never, ever meant to go into such deep meditation and I am truly sorry about that. But I want to find out what this all means. I really think I have to pursue this, Jim!" I give him my best wide-eyed innocent look and wait.

Ha! It works. It almost always works. Nope, I don't want to talk about when "the look" fails to get him.... Won't *even* go there. But I have him this time. He doesn't make a sound but his face goes through these changes. His eyes soften and his lips curl upwards just a bit. He is amused. Thank you, God... he is amused.

"Sandburg, if you wanted a puppy that bad, all you had to do was ask."

Did I ever tell you that Jim can be *such* an asshole?


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