Disclaimers: "The Sentinel"
and all its characters belong to Pet Fly and Paramount. "Quantum Leap"
and all its characters belong to Bellasarius Productions and Universal.
Any other characters belong to my warped imagination and Ill gladly take
the blame/credit for them.
Warnings: OFC alert.
This story does contain a recurring OFC from the Road Less Traveled series.
Many thanks to my online friends for the support and generally putting up with
me as I worked through this story. Thanks to Marianne, Otter and Catbat for the
sanity checks. Thanks also to TAE for telling me to get back to work. And last
but not least, many thanks to Kathleen & Shallan & Toni Rae for agreeing
to beta this story!
Authors Notes: Major
references to the episodes Switchman and Warriors. Minor references to the episodes
Seige, Night Train, Remembrance, Flight. This story is set in Fall 2000.
// denotes thoughts.
rain beat a steady tattoo on the windshield as Jim slowed for the amber traffic
light as it turned to red. It had been another gray rainy day in Cascade, which
mirrored his mood. He would be glad to get home. Time to relax and try to put
this whole mess behind him, unless Cat had other plans. Hed told her he
was going to be out for the afternoon. At least that had been his intention until
the rain had started to fall.
He had just spent the last two
hours in Bayside Park, going over the scene of a now closed investigation. Unfortunately,
it had not closed to his satisfaction. It had started out with a missing persons
report, the nephew of a local political candidate, Russell Bradford. As it was
an election year, they had respected Bradfords desire to keep it out of
the medias eye. The case was handed to Captain Simon Banks, who in turn
handed it over to his best team, Ellison and Sandburg; developments escalated
and it turned into a murder before they had ever been able to bring the Feds into
The light changed and a car impatiently honked behind
him, alerting him to the fact. Jim continued his journey home, driving more on
instinct than conscious thought.
//Wed collared the suspect.
The evidence gave the DA an almost airtight case. The kidnapping victim had died
before we... *I* could find him. He had only been sixteen years old and should
be out playing football with friends instead of being buried by his family. Minutes
had made the difference, not hours or days. I *should* have been able to find
him, but *I* failed. And now a family grieves. More people Ive failed. Sometimes,
I wonder why Im even a cop. Maybe I should have considered doing something
else with my life, where being a few minutes late doesnt cost someone his
Jim was lost in thought as he turned to enter the parking
garage of their building. He remembered as he pulled into his parking space, that
Cat was expecting Blair to come over this afternoon. //So much for resting and
* * * * *
After getting off
on the 21st floor, Jim slowed as he approached their apartment, listening
for his partners voice. Instead, all he heard was the tapping of the keyboard
in Cats office.
"Sandburgs running late is
he?" Jim asked, shrugging off his damp coat.
I just heard from him about five minutes ago. He said hed be about 20 minutes
late, the line was long at the store and he couldnt get out of there any
sooner." Cat called out from the office. "Coffees fresh if youre
interested, but if you want cream for it instead of milk, youll have to
wait until Blair arrives. He offered to pick it up when I told him we were out,"
"Did you want your tea in there?"
Ill join you in the living room. Ill be out in a sec to make it."
his way to the kitchen, he noticed a stack of books on the end table in the living
room. "The lending library is still open?" he joked.
she replied with a grin. "Blair said hed finished the others."
the topic this time? Spirit guides and how to contact them? Aboriginal dreamtime?
Energy healing? Crystals?"
not this time
she answered with a chuckle. "Ive got a couple of books about spiritwalks
for Blair." Cat paused for a moment. "And hes got a couple of
books I wanted to borrow." Cat noticed that something was wrong. There was
something in his voice, almost as if he was distracted. But by what?
Jim? Is everything okay?" Cat asked cautiously as she entered the kitchen.
Why do you ask?" replied Jim warily. //Damn! The Bradford case is still on
my mind. Shes starting to pick it up. I wish it would just go away like
it had never happened. All of it!//
"Just a funny feeling
I had. But if you say everything is okay
" she trailed off, turning
her gaze away from Jim to the rain dripping down the overhang above the balcony
doors. The feeling persisted. //Okay, so he doesnt want to talk about it
with me. Ill make sure Blair knows, but it will definitely be out of Jims
"It is," he assured as he busied himself
in the kitchen getting three mugs for their coffee and tea. Cat put the kettle
on to boil. With one last glance at Jim, she headed into the living room to wait
for it to boil.
"I picked up some of those cookies
she started only to stop when she heard the thud of something falling in the kitchen.
As she got up and went to the kitchen to offer her help, to her horror she realized
it wasnt something, but someone who had fallen. Jim was no longer standing
in the kitchen, but now lay in the middle of the floor.
she cried out as she knelt beside him. He was unconscious. She quickly checked
him for injuries remembering the four "Bs" breathing, bleeding,
broken bones and burns. He was breathing easily. He had a steady pulse. There
was no sign of any physical injury, though she was sure hed have one heck
of a bump and a bruise or two from the fall. There was no sign of fever
yet there was something very wrong. There was an almost hollow feeling when she
touched him. Almost like he was there, but wasnt.
hurried to the phone and with shaking fingers dialed the number of Blairs
"Blair Sandburg," came the answer after
two short rings.
"Blair, its Cat. How long are you
going to be?" she asked with a note of panic in her voice.
just going through checkout now, why, is something wrong?" he countered,
hearing the panic.
"Big time. Jim arrived home a few minutes
ago. He suddenly collapsed midway through a conversation."
you see anything wrong with him? Injuries? Anything?" Blair quizzed her as
the cashier rang the last of his purchases through.
breathing. Hes got a steady pulse. I cant see anything physically
wrong with him, but hes unconscious. Did you want me to call 911 or wait
for you to get here?"
there in a few minutes." Blair handed the cashier the money for his purchases
and without waiting for his change, grabbed the bags and ran for his car.
* * * *
The trip from the store had been a blur. The groceries
sat forgotten in the car. He thanked lady luck for having an elevator waiting
for him as he hurried in and went straight up to their floor without making any
stops in between. Opening the door to the condo with his own set of keys, Blair
saw Cat kneeling beside Jim in the kitchen, draping an afghan over his still form
to keep him warm.
Joining her on the floor, Blair started his
own examination. "Has there been any change?" he demanded. If he hadnt
known how this had happened, he would have sworn Jim was sleeping.
Has he done this before? Is this a sentinel thing?" Cat asked shakily.
as long as Ive known him," he replied, checking Jims pulse.
do you get a funny feeling
when youre touching Jim? Like now
taking his pulse?" she asked hesitantly.
do you mean?"
"I get this feeling of a hollowness.
I dont know how else to describe it," she offered apologetically. "Its
almost like his essence is gone. The part of him that makes him who he is apart
from his physical self. His soul, I guess some might call it."
furrowed his brow at this comment, not knowing what to make of it. "Help
me get him into the living room. Theres more room there. We can make him
more comfortable." Cat nodded in silent agreement and helped Blair move Jim
into the living room.
* * * * * *
had just gotten Jim settled when he heard Cat gasp. He watched as she fell backwards
with a look of shock on her face. She stared at a point above them, nodded wordlessly
and then looked at him.
"Are you okay? What happened?"
he asked with concern.
"Uh, yeah. Im okay. I think
I just saw Incacha," she responded slowly trying to take in what she had
"What? How did you know it was Incacha? Did he say
anything?" Blair questioned.
He had long
dark hair. He wasnt wearing much and his face was painted red. He said the
Shaman of the Great City is the only one who can help Enqueri. Do you know who
this shaman is?"
"Yeah, I do," Blair responded
absently. //How am I supposed to help Jim if I dont know whats wrong?//
how do we find him? Look him up in the yellow pages under "S" for Shaman
or "G" for Great City?" she asked in bewilderment.
We dont have to go looking for him," Blair began hesitantly. Seeing
Cats confusion, he continued. "Incacha called me the Shaman of the
Great City just before he died. But I have no clue what to do. I dont even
know whats wrong with him!"
her voice trailed off.
Blair nodded. "You said it appeared
that Jims essence or spirit had left his body. How
could you tell?"
"When I tried to connect with him
to do a healing, all I could feel was the emptiness within him. Jim isnt
here," she said quietly, laying her hand on Jims chest. "The only
thing I can think to do is a soul retrieval, a spiritwalk, to bring him back,
but Ive never tried it before under circumstances like this."
Blair said, trying to take this information in. "How do we get started?"
wish wed had our meeting before now. Those are the books I had ready for
you to read," Cat answered wistfully, nodding in the direction of the books
laying on the coffee table.
"Ive always had an interest
in this type of thing," Blair admitted. "But I have to admit; Ive
never taken Incachas calling me a shaman as anything more serious than someone
whos helped Jim with his senses. Ive come up with some medicines that
have helped him when regular medications threw his senses off the chart."
reached for a tape that lay beside the books. "I picked this up for you,
to go along with the books. Its a drumming tape Ive used for journeying
that I thought might be useful to use in conjunction with the books on spiritwalks."
She handed it to Blair, "Why dont you set that on continuous play while
I get a candle set up? The lit candle represents the spirit and invites spirit
guardians and spirit helpers to help us find Jim," Cat prattled on nervously.
set up the tape and the sounds of the drums filled the room. He adjusted the sound
to a comfortable level. "Next?"
"Next, we to
do the same type of breathing exercise as for mediation," she explained as
she lit the candle, placing it on the floor above Jims head. "Then
you state your intention to retrieve Jims soul. We will then, hopefully,
enter a meditative state which will allow us to go to the same place Jim has gone."
settled into place opposite Cat, with Jim on the floor between them. They each
closed their eyes and took a deep breath, releasing it slowly. Repeating this
pattern four more times, they let the sounds of the drumming fill them, their
hearts and minds in rhythm with its beat. As they began their journey, a boom
of thunder reverberated through the still room as lightening lit up the sky. They
did not notice the thunders uncanny resemblance to laughter.
* * * *
It was dark. There was little light, and what light
there was only showed various shades of gray in the darkness. He could sense movement
around him, but wasnt sure if it was in the condo or elsewhere?
suddenly felt a pull as if someone had him by the scruff of the neck and was yanking
him upward. He became aware of his body below and raised his gaze to see where
he was being drawn.
He could see nothing. He could sense his
movement had slowed and finally came to a stop, but the landscape, if you could
call it that, told him nothing. It was the same gray nothingness hed found
himself in before. There was no sense of up, down or sideways here, though he
*knew* he was standing on something; but what, he couldnt tell. He could
actually see it shift and move, but it still defied any semblance of normal.
vague shape pulled and twisted and finally, pulled away, separating from the gloom.
This new shape started moving toward him, taking shape, until he finally recognized
"Where are we?" Blair asked, bewildered by what
he saw and felt.
"Were in a sort of way station,"
she stated, slowing her approach. "An *in-between* place. Close your eyes.
Concentrate on Jim and state your intention."
his eyes and started to state his intention when he heard Cat gasp. He stopped
and turned toward her. She appeared to be talking to someone, though he couldnt
see anyone there. She hung her head and slowly joined him where he stood. She
was definitely more subdued than when he first saw her.
were you talking to Cat? What happened?" he asked, in concern.
appeared again," she spoke quietly. "I had been warned before not to
interfere. It is not my place to help Jim."
"I told him I was here to help you, not Jim.
Ive been allowed to stay, to help you, but I have to pay a price."
Cat went quiet and stared at her feet.
Blair asked, alarmed, not realizing there could be strings attached to this kind
"I can stay and help, but youre the only
one who will be able to see or hear me. I wont even have the ability to
"Youll be like the hologram Al
to my Sam Beckett on this leap then? Ill be glad for the company. I dont
think I want to try something like this by myself."
yeah, just dont expect me to start smoking a cigar and wearing tacky suits
Blair said with a grin, relieved she was able to stay and help him.
* * * *
He stated his intent as she had instructed then repeated
it several times. Around them, the gray nothingness started to shift and part
taking on vague shapes. Soon, they found themselves in an alley behind
a parking garage.
"Blair, do you have any idea where we
"Im not sure. Lets walk a bit further
and see if we can get a better idea."
Walking around the
parking garage to a street corner, Blair confirmed his suspicions about where
they were. The vehicles in the street, for the most part, had Washington state
license plates. A Paolos Cab whizzed by. Blair looked at the street signs.
They were at the corner of 8th and Waterman.
I think its safe to say were in Cascade. Ill try to call Jim and see
if hes at the loft. If hes not there, we can try his cell number."
pulled his cell phone from his backpack and started to dial the loft.
not getting a dial tone. Either the battery is dead or I dont have a cellular
phone in this Cascade."
Pulling a few coins from his pocket,
Blair checked to see if he had enough change to make a couple of phone calls at
a pay phone. He did. Thankfully, he remembered that he still carried the $100
bill in his wallet. Hed have to check his finances to see how much money
he had. If he didnt have enough, he started to wonder if the credit card
he had would work here. Who knew how long they actually had to find Jim?
something to remember while were here, while this looks like our Cascade,
it isnt. Anything can happen. Anything is possible." To make her point,
she changed her shape before his eyes, becoming a cougar, then returning to her
"Point taken," Blair said with wide eyes.
"I guess that means I can make the cell phone work if I want to?"
"Why not try it again to see?" she prompted.
turned on the phone again and smiled when he got a dial tone. He dialed the number
to the loft and received a message "The number you have reached is not in
service..." He tried Jims cell phone this time and received the same
"Neither number works," Blair announced.
The disappointment was evident. "Lets check the phone booth down the
street. Maybe we can find a listing for him there." The two walked to the
phone booth and checked for a listing. Jim either did not exist in this Cascade
or he had an unlisted number. The fact they were here meant it was more likely
that he had an unlisted number.
"Next stop, Cascade P.D.
Well see if Jim is there."
* * * * *
watched people entering and leaving the Central Precinct as Blair stood talking
to the desk sergeant. She was tempted to explore the upper levels of the precinct
to see who else she could find, but chose to wait for Blairs return. It
wasnt a long wait.
Blair left the precinct with Cat following
close behind him. "He doesnt work there."
where does this leave us?" asked Cat.
"The only thing
I can think of right now is to search for him in the newspapers," Blair answered.
"The library should have those on file, some in hard copy, some on microfiche,
and the rest on CD ROM."
"So off to the library?"
"No, not yet," he countered. "Im
not sure about you, but Im getting hungry. Im going to grab something
to eat. Are you okay?"
"One of the fun things about
being non-corporeal in this place is I wont get tired or hungry. But because
you have a physical form in this reality, it seems you will," she commented
with a wry grin.
I guess if Im going
to get tired, then Im going to have to find someplace to spend the night.
I know of a place not far from here where I can grab something quick to eat and
a place to sleep." Blair paused, looking at his watch. "Its 4:30
p.m. now, maybe I should think about getting a rental car as well, so that we
can move a little faster than walking. Who knows what were going to face
while trying to find Jim."
Cat nodded with a grin, but
silently wondered what she was going to do with herself while Blair slept. There
definitely were drawbacks to this journey.
* * * * *
entered the large library and stopped to get their bearings. "Do you want
to try the reference area first or get online and see if you can find out something
through newspaper searches?" Cat asked.
I take the Reference area, while you can start searching online?" he suggested
and began walking in the direction of the Reference desk. Blair stopped when he
realized there had been no reply. Looking back, he saw her staring after him.
"Oh, right. Sorry. Lets start at Reference, and then do an online search."
you figured out how to start this search?" Cat asked. "Weve already
struck out at the PD, and both his cell number and the line at the loft werent
"The only thing I can think of is to
try to locate him from key dates and events that I know from his life: return
from Peru; cases hes worked; and anything else I can remember." Grabbing
a seat, he sat down and started to rummage through the pockets of his jacket for
a pen and paper.
"Why dont we make a list of dates
first?" Cat suggested, perching on the edge of the table. "If more occur
to us afterwards, we can add them. We may not even need all of them."
We know he was born, because hes here; but apparently hes never become
a cop, so we can backtrack to September or October 1989 for news of his return
9, 1991 is when Jim and Carolyn were married," Blair added.
should be in the papers then," she agreed.
Serris was bombing Cascade for about a six month period in 1994, just before I
met Jim in September. His senses came online while he was working on that case.
She blamed Jim for the death of her father, who was one of the men who died in
"Why did she blame Jim?"
was the commanding officer of the mission. He survived while the others didnt.
So as far as she was concerned, it was his fault."
shook her head. "The next date?"
Blair heard from behind. Turning, he noticed a librarian glaring at him.
keep my voice down. Sorry."
"Sorry, bout that.
I keep forgetting people cant see me."
makes two of us. But Im sure theyre used to people talking to themselves.
Lets search between 1989 and 1994. Well dig deeper depending on what
"That sounds like a plan. So, we start
with the microfiche for 1989?"
* * * *
A short time later, Blair made himself comfortable
in front of a viewer for the microfiche spools he had just placed on the table.
Each represented the dates he had earlier identified. Shifting his chair a bit
to the right, he pulled another next to him and smiled and whispered, "You
may as well have a seat, this may take a while."
into the chair beside Blair as he loaded the first spool into the sprockets. They
both watched carefully for any mention of Jims return from Peru. There was
The next spool proved that Jim was in Cascade. He
and Carolyn Plummer did marry on July 9, 1991. Blair noticed a few changes from
the picture he had seen before. Both of Jims parents were present, along
with the Plummers. This was an interesting development; and a possible way to
get in touch with Jim, if Carolyn was still around and had not moved to San Francisco.
the records from March of 1994 to the end of the year, there were no mentions
of Jim, the Switchman or even the taking of the Cascade PD by the Sunrise Patriots.
None of it ever happened. Where was Jim?
"Any other ideas?"
Cat inquired, sounding more than a little worried.
September of 1997, Incacha and several other Chopec came here hunting for two
Vice Presidents of Cyclops Oil," Blair started. "If they came, then
there should be some mention in the papers at least of Torrens death and
possibly other details from that time."
the spools theyd already reviewed and requested the spools for the last
six months of 1997.
As he scrolled through the spools, he noticed
that, Bud Torrens had died exactly the same way he had in September of 1997 in
their reality. Two days later, the disappearance of Gerald Spaulding, another
Vice President of Cyclops Oil, was noted along with the death of Mitch Yeagar,
Vice President in charge of Security, also from Cyclops Oil. The good news as
far as Blair was concerned, was that there was no report of Janet Myers
Blair slowed over the next few weeks, looking to see
if any other details could be found about what happened at Cyclops. He knew if
Incacha had been successful, Spaulding would have been tried and found guilty
by the Chopec for killing the land, the water and several of their tribesmen.
The penalty, according to Jim, was death.
Finally, they found
a follow-up article to the disappearance, but not what either of them was expecting.
There, in the October 6, 1997 issue of the Cascade Tribune, in the Business Section,
was a picture of Jim. Above was the announcement of the promotion of James J.
Ellison to the position of Vice President in charge of Products and Chemical Operations
at Cyclops Oil.
//Jim? At Cyclops? Maybe if Janet is still
"I think I may have a way in to see
Jim," Blair said cautiously. "Lets go online first, to find out
what we can about what hes doing there. I can also see if an old friend
is still there."
"An old friend? At Cyclops?"
She was murdered in our reality, but according to the papers, she wasnt
here. Her name is Janet Myers. She was
*is* the Vice President of Environmental
Affairs. She was being used in the Hale Corporation scam which lead to the deaths
Torrens, Yeagar, and Spaulding, who were also involved," he explained. "Now
if we can verify shes still there, she might be able to help us meet with
* * * * *
They sat across the
street from the Cyclops Oil building in a rental car Blair had obtained earlier
in the evening.
"Are you ready, Cat? You know what youre
looking for?" Blair prompted.
"Im to look for
any traces of either Janet Myers or Jim at Cyclops. If I find traces of them,
then Im to look for information that will help us locate either of them,"
she repeated as she stepped out of the car.
see you shortly. Good luck," wished Blair.
the street oblivious to the traffic, which passed through her. Blair shuddered
as he watched and shook his head when she finally disappeared inside the building.
inside the building, Cat looked for clues as to where the executive offices would
be located. Approaching the security desk, she looked at the logs of those who
had come to visit over the course of the day, hoping for a little luck. There
had been a number of visits from out-of-town Cyclops people to the upper levels,
floors 15 to 22. Her guess was she would find the offices she sought there.
to the elevator banks, she realized that they had been locked down for the night.
Unless one of the security guards decided to use them, the elevators would take
her nowhere. She found the nearest stairwell tucked to the left of the elevator
bank. She suspected they too were locked as a precaution. "Not that it will
be a problem for me," she said to herself, passed through the door and started
the climb to the 22nd floor.
Working her way down
through the building, she found Jims office on the 17th floor.
"Nice view," she commented as she looked out over the moonlit harbor.
His office was stark but immaculate. Not a clue was to be had about his whereabouts,
from what little there was on his desk. She took a piece of paper and pen from
her purse, taking note of his phone number, then left for his assistants
Cat had a little more success in Carla Withers
office. Sitting in front of her phone was her agenda for the day. She had been
making arrangements for a breakfast early the next morning at the same hotel Blair
was staying in. Apparently, Jim was holding a breakfast for several directors
from out-of-town and then they would return to Cyclops for their meeting.
second meeting later in the day with the R & D group was set for one of the
conference rooms. They were going to have a catered lunch. Apparently, they had
an in-house caterer for those types of functions, since the number for the caterer
was an extension rather than a full number.
She hurriedly took
down the information about both meetings to pass on to Blair.
explored further, looking for Janets office; finally finding it on the 15th
floor. She took note of Janets office phone number and noted that her married
name was Janet Myers-Allen. At least Blair would be relieved to know she was still
here, and it would be interesting to see what his reaction would be to the news
she had gotten married.
Her assignment complete, Cat tucked
her notes in her purse. Deciding the quickest way down the stairs would be on
four legs rather than two, she changed into cougar form and hastened to give the
information to Blair.
* * * * *
you," Blair said, hanging up the phone. "Well, thats taken care
of. Ive got a wake up call scheduled for seven in the morning. Hopefully,
we can connect with Jim right away and get out of here."
you have any ideas on how to confront him?" asked Cat.
think, for the breakfast meeting, maybe just watching and waiting for an opportunity
would be the best thing. We dont know what he will do when he sees me, if
"Okay, but what are you going to do for
the rest of the day?" she questioned. "All the other meetings are scheduled
to be in boardrooms at Cyclops. Even the lunch is going to be catered by an in-house
"I think we can play the rest by ear; especially
since we dont know whats going to happen. After breakfast, Ill
call Janet to see if she can get me in to see Jim even for a few minutes.
If that doesnt work, then well come up with another plan. You know
I have to admit, Im curious about what my other self is doing here. I mean,
what happened since I didnt meet Jim. Maybe I could check on that while
Im thinking of it."
"Blair," Cat said
cautiously. "Please, dont get sidetracked. If you start going off on
a tangent, we might lose Jim. Or worse still, I might end up losing both of you.
And in my current state, there isnt much I could do if that happened."
he agreed, noting the concern on her face. "I do have one favor to ask though
that? Dont tell me
you want me to hang out at Cyclops all day tomorrow
and sit in on Jims meetings? Hmmmm
Just think what a corporate spy
would give for this kind of opportunity," she continued with a grin.
thats not what I was thinking, although you may have to do a bit of that
to help me keep tabs on him."
"Okay, so what did
you want me to do?" asked Cat, her curiosity piqued.
me how to change like you do
into animal form. Whats the trick?"
fell back on the bed laughing. "Blair, you know that old joke about getting
to Carnegie Hall?"
"Yeah. Practice. You mean thats
all there is to it?" he asked skeptically.
the secret," she confirmed. "Youve already started learning how
to do it by manipulating the ability to use your credit card and cell phone here.
You also seem to have an unlimited supply of cash too, Ive noticed,"
she teased. "Its also the same way I was able to take notes. Neither of us
brought anything with us. But, weve both materialized other tools, like
your backpack and my purse."
"You mean I can do the
same thing, only on a bigger scale?" he prompted.
small, like changing the color of your shirt," Cat suggested. "Just
focus on the change you want to make. Just approach it like you do mediation,
relax while doing it. It works better than trying to force it."
closed his eyes and his face blanked; slowly, the shirt changed from a light blue
to a dark green.
"Um, Blair. Why dont you take a
look?" she suggested with glee.
Blair looked down to see
that the shirt had indeed changed color. For the next couple of hours, he tried
different articles of clothing changing both color and style. Finally, he tried
changing his clothing from coat to shoes. Once he was satisfied he could do it,
they settled down to a companionable silence to watch television until Blair drifted
off to sleep.
"Sleep well, Blair," she said, as she
vacated the chair. It was going to be a long lonely night. Feeling restless, she
decided to go for a walk, promising herself to be back before Blair received his
wake up call.
* * * * *
did you do all night?" Blair asked. "When I woke up in the middle of
the night, you were gone."
"Well, since I didnt
need to sleep I went for a walk," Cat responded, watching Blair order his
breakfast. "Youre great company when youre awake, Sleeping Beauty,
but you dont talk enough in your sleep for me to stick around all night."
where did you go?" he prompted.
she announced with a nod. "You could set a clock by him," she remarked,
noting the time was exactly 8:00 a.m. according to the watch Blair was wearing.
strode into the room with an air of a man used to getting exactly what he wanted
and settled at a table on the opposite side of the room from them. Dressed in
a conservatively tailored gray suit, adding to the imposing figure he cut. Somehow,
seeing him this way, and adding the glare Jim was capable of, Blair shuddered
at the picture it painted. This might be more difficult than he had expected.
penny for your thoughts," Cat offered.
just wondering what it will take to get him to come back with us. He looks just
a little too comfortable here," he mused. "Im beginning to wonder
if he remembers any of his life before this."
he doesnt, Im wondering what it will take to shake him," she
murmured. "He looks positively cold, which isnt exactly surprising
after seeing his office at Cyclops. Its almost devoid of any kind of personal
statement of who he is. Im beginning to wonder if his marriage to Carolyn
fared any better in this reality."
Three other men soon
joined Jim. Blair watched as their host greeted them. He was smooth, but Blair
could tell by the way the men sat in their chairs that they were wary of him.
the next half-hour, Blairs gaze rarely strayed from Jim as he absently nibbled
on his bagel and drank his coffee. Jim had noticed his attentions and it was obvious
he wasnt pleased, but he offered no sign of recognition.
watch the room and let me know when no ones watching. I want to try something,"
Blair whispered, his eyes locked with Jims at that moment. From the look
on Jims face, storm clouds were gathering. This was Blairs chance
to try to throw Jim off-balance.
"Alls clear. What
?" she started, but stopped as she looked back at him. Briefly,
as a waitress had stepped between Jim and Blair, Cat found herself sitting with
Cat watched Jim, who was watching their table; his eyes
narrowing when he saw the young man who had been watching him had been replaced
by another vaguely familiar face.
"Okay, we have some
recognition, and a little surprise, but hes not giving away much. Blair,
dont sit down at the poker table with this one
" Cat warned. "Welcome
back," she said as a patron crossed between the two tables and Blair changed
A slow smile formed as she watched Jim choke on his coffee.
He realized his uninvited observer was back.
warned me it was that difficult to hold another form," Blair admonished.
do you think I suggested you start small?" she replied. "It takes time
and practice. Im surprised you were able to take on Simons form, let
alone hold it as long as you did. It was effective though."
least Ive caught his attention. Now I know I can get through to him,"
Blair said thoughtfully.
"Just be careful how you get
his attention. Remember, I can change like you just did without attracting attention.
You cant. If anyone else sees you, how are you going to explain it?"
"Okay, no more quick changes, at least
not out in the open." Blair paused briefly. "Cat, do me a favor?"
Blair asked, continuing without waiting for a reply. "Keep an eye on Jim
and let me know when hes getting ready to leave. I need to get in touch
with Janet at the office. I want to see if she can get me in to see Jim today
Blair pulled out both his copy of Janets
phone number and his cell phone as he stood and ducked around the corner. Dialing,
he prayed silently that Janet would answer. Catching the eye of the waitress,
he had his coffee cup refilled, assuring her hed be right back. He wanted
to be as far out of Jims earshot as possible, just in case.
* * * *
"May I speak to Janet Myers-Allen, please?"
Blair requested, stumbling over the hyphenated last name.
she answered hesitantly. "May I ask who is calling?" she demanded, knowing
this call was being made from an unfamiliar outside line, as the call hadnt
been passed through her assistant or receptionist.
Im sorry. This is Blair Sandburg," he started to explain.
Sandburg! Oh my God! Its been ages," she replied in disbelief.
you wouldnt believe whats happened since we last saw each other,"
he said with relief. "Look, Im sorry to have called you on the wrong
line. A friend passed this number on to me. I was hoping to ask a favor from you."
How about we get together this weekend for dinner to talk over old times? We can
discuss this favor you want then. Besides, I want you to meet my husband. Ive
mentioned you to David a few times."
"I was kind
of hoping I could beg that favor from you today. It would really mean a lot. We
could still get together on the weekend for dinner if you wanted," he countered,
trying not to hold his breath as he waited for her answer.
wish I could Blair. Im just about to leave for the airport. Im leaving
town on business for the next couple of days," she said apologetically. "What
kind of favor is it? Are you sure it cant wait until the weekend?"
I was hoping to get a few minutes with one of the other VPs at Cyclops and hoped
you could help me. His name is James Ellison. Is there any possibility you can
help arrange that?" Blair crossed his fingers hoping she could help him.
a second, Blair," she asked. He could hear her tapping her keyboard to check.
"Blair, Im sorry. I wont get a chance to talk to either J. J.
or Carla until I get back Thursday. Hes in meetings over the next two days.
Were both in the middle of preparing reports for a big meeting which is
coming up in a couple of weeks time. I wish I could be of more help."
okay Janet," Blair replied. "You dont know how nice it is to hear
your voice again. Ill talk to you when you get back," he offered quietly,
knowing he might never talk to her again if he was successful in his task.
* * * *
The waitress noticed Blairs return to the table
and presented him with the bill. Charging it to his room and leaving a tip, he
busied himself with his coffee until the waitress left.
luck with Janet," Blair told Cat. "Apparently shes on her way
out of town and wont see Jim or J.J. as she calls him until
Thursday. Jims in meetings for the next two days."
"Ive got an idea, but we need to leave
now. It looks like theyre getting ready to leave and I want to see his reaction
if we can beat him to Cyclops," he said with a grin.
* * * *