| Disclaimers, Warnings, Acknowledgments, Authors
Notes in Part One. |
Im begging you, Marion. Please, can you spare a couple
of people to help us out? Ive got a few dozen lunches to prepare and Ive
got no one to serve them, pleaded the pretty young brunette.
cant, Vivian. Were running into the same problem you are and the cafeteria
doesnt run on its own, the older woman replied in frustration.
Half our staff is out with the flu. Hell, Ive been in since six this
morning and, because Ive got only two people showing up for the afternoon
shift, Ill be here until eight tonight.
Excuse me? I
couldnt help but overhear your discussion. Is there something I could do
to help? Blair offered.
Both women stopped and stared at the young
man. Help us? they chorused with a mixture of surprise and disbelief.
If a shortage of staff is the problem, why not help each other?
Blair suggested. Combine your kitchens and your staff. And if youre
still short, Id be willing to pitch in. Id gladly be willing to help
out for a few hours. Im between jobs, and although its been a while,
Ive been a waiter before.
Both women looked at each other
and then back at the young man.
Youre on. Marion looked
at Blair with an eyebrow raised.
Im Blair Sandburg. And you
are? he said, by way of introduction.
Im Marion White,
I run the cafeteria. This is Vivian St. Claire, she runs catering for the building.
Where do you want me to start? Blair grinned. There
was more than one way to finagle a way in to see Jim.
What do you
say Vivian? We can start him out by bringing your things down here, and then we
can figure out between us how to get this juggernaut running.
about the paperwork?
Im willing to put that off until
tomorrow. At worst, if we forget, youll get a free day out of me and Ill
be busy, Blair suggested. Youll need to start getting ready
for the breaks which will be starting soon and then we have to get the lunches
Both women grinned, liking this young mans willingness
to pitch in.
Cmon, Blair. Ill take you upstairs to our
kitchen and we can start bringing down what we need for the day. By the end of
this day, you may regret volunteering to help us, warned Vivian, leading
the way to the service elevator. If you survive it, you may have a job.
Vivian hadnt been kidding. He ran back and forth constantly between
the two kitchens until all the supplies needed for the days catering were
in the cafeterias kitchen. Marion and Vivian had worked out a schedule,
which had Blair on the run until just before noon. He was traveling all over the
building delivering coffee for breaks to different board rooms in addition to
taking a quick tour around the cafeteria to collect trays to be returned to the
kitchen for cleaning.
Between them, Vivian and Blair split the deliveries
of the lunches to the different boardrooms. Blair offered to take the lunches
scheduled to be delivered later, thanking Cat silently for getting the information
on Jims lunch meeting. It would be very interesting to see what his reaction
would be to the arrival of lunch.
* * * * *
Blair closed his eyes and took a deep breath to steel himself
for his next meeting with Jim. The frosty glare hed received when Jim recognized
him earlier had been pretty much what hed expected. He didnt appear
to be the easiest person to rattle, but the fact remained, he had gotten a reaction
and he was being noticed.
Hed made sure the lunches for the other
boardrooms were delivered first, leaving Jims until last. At least, if things
went wrong, he would only have disappointed himself, not Vivian and Marion.
Cat joined him in the hall just before he went in. Good to see a friendly
face, she said slightly relieved.
Bored? he asked.
Lets just say that I want to see this over with as soon as possible.
I dont like this Jim. I want ours back.
Blair hesitated at
her words. I guess its time to get on with this part of the plan.
Hopefully, I wont be on the receiving end of anything more than one of his
frosty glares. Wish me luck!
Good luck. Just remember Im
in there with you, she offered.
* * * * *
A light tap on the door and the room fell silent. The door opened
and a young man entered pushing a cart before him.
Everyone in the room
noticed that J. J. Ellisons gaze had not left the young man since he had
entered the room, everyone, that is, except the young man who seemed to be totally
oblivious to him as he took his time setting lunches and the dessert trays
out. He exchanged the old urn of coffee for a fresh one and ensured there was
enough cream, milk, and sugar for the people in the room. Turning to take his
leave, his eyes locked with Ellisons.
For the first time since she
had met him, his assistant saw something akin to surprise on J. J.s face.
The young man didnt flinch from his steely gaze, nor did he lower his eyes
in submission, like most of the staff did when Ellison was in one of these moods.
He met him as an equal. There seemed to be a flicker of something more, but Karla
couldnt put her finger on what it was. The young man broke the gaze and
left the room as quietly as hed entered it.
Since the catering
has arrived, why dont we get our lunches and then we can return to our discussion?
J.J. suggested as he held Karla back, wrote her a quick note and then joined his
guests at the sideboard. Karla read the brief note and then shook her head as
stared after him. //I wonder why this young man upset him so much?//
* * * * *
Blair sagged against the wall opposite the boardroom door. He
let out the breath hed been holding since he broke Jims gaze and waited
for security to escort him out of the building. But it never happened. //I wonder
You did fantastic in there! Cat crowed, joining him
a moment later. Are you okay?
Yeah, Im okay. It
was just a little harder than I thought it would be, he admitted.
You held your own, she coaxed.
Come downstairs with
me so we can talk, Blair suggested as he started to move the cart in the
direction of the freight elevator. Youre right though, I dont
like this Jim either.
Youll like it even less with
what Ive got to tell you, she cautioned as she followed him to the
What happened? he asked warily as they got on the
After you left, he wrote a note to his assistant. I was
standing behind her as she read it. He instructed her to find out who you were
and to make sure you never came up to these floors again.
at least he didnt call security and have me escorted from the building.
Thats something, I guess, he answered with a tired shrug.
Blair? Did you notice the look on his face when you looked him straight
in the eye? she asked thoughtfully.
No, I was trying too hard
not to blow it. I knew I had to keep myself calm until I left. I just kept waiting
for the explosion that never came. Why?
The other people in
the room noticed his reaction to you and I know his assistant was wondering what
was up. Youre getting through to him, she encouraged. Im
pretty sure I saw a flicker of recognition before he caught himself.
Well, at least Ive gotten this far, but if hes banned me from
this area I wont be able to get to see him again, at least not here. We
need to find other opportunities to get to him without me coming across like a
deranged stalker or corporate spy.
Cat grinned at his statement,
knowing it wouldnt take much to cross that line with this particular version
of Jim. How about I follow Jim for the rest of the day. Ill hitch
a ride with him tonight and I can meet you back at the hotel when I have some
more information we might need, she offered.
Ill stay here and help Marion close up the cafeteria tonight then go back
to the hotel and get some dinner. When you come back, check the hotel restaurant
first, then look for me in the room.
Deal, she agreed
as the elevator doors opened. Ill see you later then, she said,
before changing back into the cougar and making her way to the stairwell. Blair
grinned, glad that he was the only one able to see her. Hed hate to
see Animal Control trying to catch her.
* * * * *
Karla, go on home, Jim told his assistant. Ill
see you tomorrow at nine for the meeting with the marketing group.
What about you? Are you staying? Karla asked, knowing he was notorious
during this time of year for staying almost around the clock working on reports.
No, Jim replied with a weary smile, the first one Karla had
seen all day. Carolyn has struck a deal with me. I can work on the reports
all night as far as shes concerned, as long as I do it at home.
Smart lady, Karla shot back.
If I didnt know better
Karla, Id say you two have been talking, J.J. accused, eyeing his
I dont know what youre talking
about, J. J. Karla declared. Now, pack up and get out of here before
Carolyn figures out youre trying to renege on your deal. And do me a favor?
Try to get a good nights sleep. You were definitely off your game today.
It was that damn waiter with the caterer, Jim told Karla with
a hint of anger and frustration. Make sure you take care of that first thing
tomorrow morning, before the meeting. I dont need any more surprises.
What was it about him that set you off? Ive never seen you
react that way to anyone before, she asked with concern. Something wasnt
right. J. J. did not lose his cool like that. Ever. But somehow this young man
had gotten under his skin on sight.
If I didnt know better,
Id say hes following me. I saw him at the hotel this morning at breakfast.
I saw him again as I came into the building, and then he showed up as the waiter
delivering lunch. It was just too coincidental.
talk to the caterer in the morning, before the meeting to make sure he doesnt
show up again, she promised. It still didnt sound right. But then,
J. J. wouldnt have gotten to where he was if he didnt know what he
was doing. So who was she to second-guess him?
* * * * *
Cat silently padded after Jim as he headed down to the parking
garage. She slowed in surprise as she saw him approach his car. //Who woulda thunk
it? Jim driving a sleek black Lexus?//
Cat quickly hopped into the vehicle
just as Jim started the ignition. The trip to Jims home was a pleasant drive
to the outskirts of the city. He lived in an older neighborhood and the houses
screamed old money.
Jim pulled into the driveway of a large home, modest
in comparison with his neighbors. The grounds were immaculate and the fašade was
simple, yet elegant. When she followed him inside, she noticed the interior was
beautiful. It was like something out of a magazine. Definitely the type of place
an executive would have to have to entertain. She wondered if that was Carolyns
doing, or if shed hired an interior designer.
* * * * *
Jim? Carolyn called from the dining room.
You were expecting someone else? he kidded, setting his briefcase
I heard that might be a possibility, she paused for
a beat, waiting for his reaction. She saw a flicker of surprise, but that was
it. So, how was your day? she prompted.
Like any other,
he replied as he loosened his tie. You know the routine, meetings all day,
trying to get a handle on the information I need for the reports due at the end
of the month for the CEOs meeting.
Now try telling me
the truth. What happened today? she prodded.
know what you mean, he denied obstinately.
Jim, did you honestly
believe I wouldnt hear what happened at lunch today? When the guys from
R & D left your meeting today, it took less than half an hour for the floor
to be buzzing with speculation. You know I normally hear whats going on
there. The fact that your wife works in R & D doesnt stop all the talk.
Now, Id like to hear your version, she stated firmly.
wish I could explain what happened, he said in frustration. All I
know is this
young man seemed to be dogging my every footstep today. He
was there this morning at breakfast. He showed up again at lunch as catering staff.
I half expected him to follow me home tonight.
Oh, come on,
Jim, she admonished. Youve been edgy ever since your dream the
other night. What is it about him that set you off? Did he really do anything
threatening? Anything else that would make you think he was dangerous?
No. Its just
he stopped before he said it. There was something
familiar about him. He had recognized the young man from the nightmare, but he
wasnt about to admit that to anyone. He wasnt sure why, but he knew
something terrible would happen if he did.
Just what? she
asked, sensing his hesitation to answer.
Nothing, he answered
with a sigh. He didnt have the answers. He wasnt sure he ever would.
And right now, it seemed the only one who might was the stranger who kept popping
up when he least expected it. Never mind. Lets have dinner,
he suggested. Ill work in the office for a bit later.
Figuring shed lost this round, she backed off. Mrs. Hagen prepared
a wonderful dinner for us. Have a seat and Ill bring it in.
* * * * *
While Carolyn and Jim had dinner, Cat explored their home, looking
for more information she could use. She guessed the Mrs. Hagen who had been mentioned
was their housekeeper. The house was immaculate.
On the main floor there
was a living room, dining room, office, library, and kitchen. Of the rooms on
this floor, only the office looked like it saw much use. She noted their unlisted
number and the second number in Jims office, which she suspected was also
unlisted. The books in the library were a mix of fiction and non-fiction. The
mysteries made her smile, knowing that some things never changed. The historical
biographies intrigued her. She suspected the bestsellers were Carolyns.
Downstairs, beside the storage area and the laundry room, she found what
most would refer to as a family room. A home entertainment center sat prominently
along one wall. The stereo system was to die for. The music ran the gamut from
the classics to jazz.
Upstairs were four bedrooms. The master bedroom
spanned most of the back of the house. It looked like it would be a bright room
in the daylight with the windows. The room matched the rest of the house
elegant and understated, but not overly feminine in appearance. The guestrooms
were a little less so. It appeared that Carolyn had had a little more leeway with
Back downstairs, Cat settled into the office watching Jim,
who was now hard at work. Occasionally, she would look over his shoulder, hoping
for some more information Blair could use. Finally, Carolyn strolled into the
room. Resting her hands gently on Jims shoulders, and asked, Going
to be much longer? I was thinking of heading off to bed.
should be there shortly, he replied absently.
Uh, uh. Youre
not getting away with that tonight. The last time you said that, you ended coming
to bed at three in the morning, she scolded, slipping her arms around his
neck and leaning forward to whisper in his ear.
Oh my, gasped
Cat. Twos company, threes a crowd. Im outta here,
she said, turning on her heels and hurried out of the room. Finding her way to
the backyard, she quickly changed to an owl and flew off in the direction of the
* * * * *
Blair? Cat called from the hallway before entering
Cmon in Cat, he answered, turning the television
off so they could talk. How did it go?
got a couple of numbers for you. I suspect they are both unlisted. The first is
their home number. The second is a line for Jims home office.
Anything else? he asked.
Jim and Carolyn live in a beautiful
home on the outskirts of town in an old but definitely moneyed area. Looks like
when hes not in the office downtown, he lives in his office at home, and
believe it or not, Carolyn also works at Cyclops in the R & D group.
She watched the surprise register on his face before continuing. And I think
you should know
Carolyn knows you made an impact on him today. Word spread
like wildfire this afternoon. Apparently, she believes his reaction to you had
something to do with a nightmare hes had recently.
Do you believe the nightmare is what I think it is? Blair asked, looking
Cat nodded in agreement. Blair, if our reality
is a nightmare to him, we may have a problem.
What kind of
problem? Blair asked in concern.
The longer he stays in this
reality, the more real it will become. Right now, most of his life is just a bare
sketch to him. The fact his home and office are so stark might indicate
he is just beginning to fil in the blanks. If this world becomes his reality,
our reality will cease to exist for him.
Which means what?
Our Jim will end up in a coma?
Possibly, she admitted.
he could die, she finished in a whisper.
up from the bed where hed been sitting and started to pace. She perched
on the corner of the desk and watched as he moved back and forth in the small
room. She watched the emotions flit across his face as he tried to figure out
the next move.
Cat, where are those phone numbers? he asked.
She pulled out a piece of paper from her purse and laid it on the desk
beside the phone.
You said the second one was his home office number?
he asked thoughtfully.
Yes. When I left, I think they were on their
way to bed. So Im not sure youll get an answer tonight
So if I call their home line, they should answer,
he speculated pensively.
More than likely, she agreed. Are
you sure you want to call tonight?
Cat, I have a feeling I
have to do this now. Tonight. You just said time is a factor. I need to keep him
off balance. Calling him tonight, this late, and on his unlisted number, should
do it. I just hope it will work out the way I think it might.
* * * * *
Jim rolled over in the bed at the sound of the ringing phone.
Ignore it, Jim, Carolyn protested sleepily It has to
be a wrong number. Who in their right mind would be calling at this time of the
Jim thought about ignoring the ringing phone, but then sighed
as he sat up and reached for the light before answering the phone.
Mr. Ellison, this is Blair Sandburg.
I dont know any Sandburg. How the hell did you get this number? Jim
demanded, as his level of irritation rose.
Thats not important
right now. We need to talk, the voice stated firmly on the other end of
the line. Im the person you saw this morning.
have nothing to say to you! Jim declared.
Carolyn stared at him
from the other side of the bed. Jim? What is it? Whats going on?
No, but I have answers to the questions you may be having
about your nightmares. Meet me across the street from Cyclops as soon as possible,
he instructed, hanging up before Jim could protest.
Jim stared at the
phone, unsure of what he wanted. Ive got to go out for a bit. Ill
be back, Jim told his wife, quickly gathering the clothes hed worn
earlier and dressing.
Jim, please, dont
started, but he stormed out before she could finish the thought. Minutes later,
she heard the car start and back out of the driveway.
* * * * *
Across the street from the Cyclops Oil building, Blair paced
impatiently. Hed placed the call to Jim only 15 minutes ago. //He should
be here in a few minutes, if hes going to show up at all. If *this* Jim
is anything like the one I know, hell be here. Pissed, but hell be
As if to confirm his expectations, Jims car sped around
the corner and screeched to a halt in front of Blair. He stormed out of the car
and slammed the door, which made the whole vehicle shake with his fury.
I have had enough of you! spat Jim, grabbing the younger man by the
shoulders, pinning him against the wall. Everywhere I turned today, you
were there. Hell, youre even turning up in my dreams, but before today Id
never met you. I want to know why youre in my face.
you do know me and a part of you is trying to remember who you are. You are Jim
Ellison. Youre a detective
Are you out of your
mind? Im James Ellison, the Vice President in charge of Operations at Cyclops
Oil, *not* a detective. And I *dont* know you, he shook Blair
to punctuate his objection.
You joined the Cascade PD after you
left the army. Before that, you were a ranger in Special Ops. You were sent on
a mission to Peru. You lost your team in a helicopter crash. You lived there for
18 months with the Chopec until you were found, he insisted.
spin a mean story, kid, Jim scoffed.
Its not just a
story, its who you are, replied Blair with determination.
Jim fought to clear his thoughts as images from the nightmare, which had plagued
him the last couple of nights resurfaced. He felt a sharp pain behind his eyes.
Releasing Blair, he started to back away. He shook his head slowly, trying to
dispel the voices and noises he suddenly began to hear.
a little girl wheedled in a passing vehicle.
...yeah. I cant
wait to see you tonight, either. I should be there in about twenty minutes,
a young man promised his date from a phone booth down the street.
car horn blared as two cars collided three blocks away. The shriek of sirens could
be heard even further in the distance. It all seemed like it was right there surrounding
him as the sounds of the night threatened to drown him like a rising tide. He
clamped his hands over his ears trying to block the onslaught.
suddenly flared like the noonday sun, even though it was almost midnight. Out
of the corner of his eye he saw a brief shimmer in the shadows. He closed his
eyes tightly against the offending light. His clothing suddenly felt coarse, burning
and chaffing his skin. The odors of the street assailed him. Gulping for air,
Jim fell to his knees. His agonized cry echoed through the night as his senses
However, through the barrage, he felt the gentle touch of a
hand resting on his shoulder. How it got there, he had no idea. Who it was, he
wasnt sure. Jim heard a voice from very far away, soft, insistent and steady.
Cmon, Man. Listen to me. Dial it down. You know how to do
Slowly, the pain and noise assaulting him began to burn
away like a fog as the sun starts to rise.
Its okay, Jim.
Cmon, you can do it, Blair repeated resolutely.
finally opened his eyes to look at the young kneeling man before him, one hand
still on his shoulder as his soft, steady voice continued the reassuring mantra.
Who *are* you? Jim whispered, bewildered by what was happening.
A friend, the young man reassured.
What is happening?
Youre starting to remember that youre a sentinel.
Whats that? A sentinel?
Blair stated quietly. A sentinel is a person with a genetic advantage. They
have a sensory awareness that can be developed beyond normal humans. You have
always been a sentinel and you always will be a sentinel.
Its not a dream. Its where we belong.
Youre a detective with the Cascade PD. Im your partner. We work for
Captain Simon Banks in Major Crime. This, Blair indicated with a sweep of
his other hand, is the dream.
Jim suddenly saw the image of
an imposing black man sitting behind a desk, saying to him Yeah. Says in
big letters, You are divorced. Now what? Hell, man. I kept expecting
this to be a great moment, and... I don't know. All I feel is empty. It gets better,
The image changed to the young man before him, standing on
a familiar balcony saying, This sentinel thing... You know, it's more than
just a research project. Uh... it's about friendship. I just didn't get it before.
? Jim asked, his eyes narrowing in recognition.
"Yeah. Though Ive also been known to answer to Sandburg, Chief,
Darwin, or Professor, he returned with a smile.
Jim started to ask.
Sorry. I dont have any of the details,
he apologized. Maybe we can figure that out
we have to figure out how to get you home.
Jim muttered softly as he remembered *home*. As the memories grew stronger, the
city around them began to dissolve and run together. Jim found himself standing
beside Blair. Behind his friend stood a woman, hovering anxiously.
asked Jim, trying to confirm he was really remembering things correctly.
She beamed when she realized he could see her. Its over? We can head
Yeah. Its finally over. Now, can we get the heck
out of here? urged Blair.
With that, the three friends turned their
backs on the last vestiges of the fading Cascade and walked into the gray nothingness
to begin their journey home.
* * * * *
Jim had never been the superstitious type. Had it been a normal
black cat that crossed his path, he wouldnt have thought twice, but when
the big black jaguar passed between him and his friends, he stopped, knowing there
was a reason for it to be there.
He watched his friends walk into the
grayness as the jaguar regarded him. Jim turned to the cat and asked, Now
The jaguar changed before his eyes into an image of himself,
which he hadnt seen in several years. He couldnt remember the last
time hed seen the spirit image of himself. He was sure it had been more
than three years.
"Who are you? the man challenged.
My name is Jim Ellison, he responded.
What are you?
A sentinel, Jim answered.
before him changed again, assuming the form of his friend, Incacha.
you know why you are here? the image asked.
Im not sure,
Jim spoke slowly, trying to figure out exactly why he had been here.
lesson have you learned?
Lesson? This was a lesson?
he responded in confusion.
The figure changed again. This time, Jim did
not recognize this person.
Who are you?
teacher, the shadowed figure answered cryptically.
was I to learn?
The lesson you have not wanted to learn before.
What lesson was that? Jim demanded.
upon the life you have chosen to return to and the one you now leave behind. What
were the differences? What was the cost of choosing one life over the other? What
made this life worth returning to over the one which was offered to you?
Jim stared at the stranger in the shadows, realizing what was being asked;
understanding that he had made a conscious choice to return to his life. He had
turned his back on what might have been if things had been different in his life.
He had never realized that giving up the worst parts of his life also meant giving
up the best.
What is your name? Jim asked quietly.
I have many names: Loki, Hermes, Baubo, Monkey, Raven, and Coyote, are but
a few. In your world, some call me simply, Trickster, he replied with a
Will I remember any of this? Jim asked.
you choose to, answered Trickster.
What about my friends?
What will they remember?
They will remember what they choose
to, Trickster assured him. They too, had lessons to learn. It is time
for you to return.
? Jim began.
already know the way. And with that, the figure disappeared, leaving Jim
alone in the gray nothingness. Jim turned and began the rest of his journey home.
* * * * *
Blairs eyes fluttered open. He looked
across to Cat, who was rubbing her eyes with the heels of her hands. After stretching
briefly to ease the stiffness in his muscles he looked down at Jim, who was still
laying motionless on the floor.
Cat, hes not back yet. Is
there something else we have to do? Something we forgot? He was right behind us,
Blair said, slightly panicked.
I dont know. Has anything changed
at all? Pulse? Temperature? He still appears to be breathing, she offered.
Blair was checking Jims pulse when the older mans eyes slowly
opened. Oh, man! Dont scare me like that ever again! How are you feeling?
Im okay, Jim assured him. What happened?
you did a really good impression of a redwood falling,
offered Cat cryptically.
Blair grinned as Jim groaned and cupped his hands
over his eyes.
Guys, you really know how to show a gal a great time,
but I have a feeling I should be getting home, she announced, rising to
gather her things. Jim, you take care of yourself. Blair well
Thanks Cat. Ill call you tomorrow we can
reschedule our discussion, promised Blair.
Just before she ducked
out the door, Cat looked back to her two friends. By the way, Blair. You
wanted to know about that walk I took. You had a great time in Borneo. You
finished the work on your dissertation there. It seems you found a sentinel in
Borneo. Youve been back a couple of times to visit him and his people. Just
thought youd wanna know, she finished with a warm smile.
the door closed, Jim turned to Blair and asked, What was that all about?
Ill tell you later, he stalled. I think weve
got a lot to talk about. Why dont I put on some coffee?
was putting on coffee for Cat just after we came in. Ill check and see if
its still warm, he offered. You can turn off that noise you
call music. How you can meditate to that, Ill never know.
Actually, its Cats drumming tape for journeying, Blair
Journeying? Jim asked.
Well, it helped
bring you back from your little trip, Blair quipped.
had long gone cold. Jim emptied it and started a fresh pot. Blair started a fire
in the fireplace to take the chill off and turn the lights on in the darkened
I wonder how long we were gone, murmured Blair as he
looked at the remains of the candle on the floor. He turned on the TV to check,
not only the time, but also the date. He knew they had spent almost two days in
the other reality and was curious as to how much time had passed in this one.
I figure Cat called me at about ten after three this afternoon.
According to the weather channel, weve been gone for about eight
hours. Are you hungry?
Yeah, I was just thinking about dinner.
Chinese? Jim suggested.
The usual? Blair asked, reaching
for the phone, making a mental note to get the forgotten groceries from the car
after ordering dinner.
* * * * *
So, what happened? asked Blair as he dug into his
chow mein. I mean, why did you end up in that other Cascade?
Im not entirely sure, Jim replied, dishing out some more rice.
I think Im going to need some time to go over what happened to figure
Does it seem like a dream, like this life did there?
It does have an unreal feeling about it, admitted
Jim. What about you? How did you know what to do? Where to find me?
Cat had the idea of how to find you. As for actually tracking
you, we went back through the events in your life and tried to trace you from
there. It was a bit of a shock to find youd actually ended up as an executive
at Cyclops Oil. How did you manage that?
I guess I followed
in my fathers footsteps. Hed always pushed us academically and encouraged
us to be competitive. In that life, instead of going into the Army, I became a
business major. I ended up at Cyclops and worked my way up the ladder. Jim
yawned. Enough of this for now.
Youre right. Its
after midnight and weve got work in the morning, reminded Blair.
Not a word of this to Simon, understood? warned Jim.
said Blair with a smile.
Cmon Chief, were
going to be late if you dont get moving, Jim cajoled. Coffees
ready, youre breakfast is on the table.
All right. All
right. Im coming, Blair said in exasperation. Its not
my fault the power went off last night.
No, but batteries
in your alarm clock would have helped keep the time, Jim countered playfully.
Blair hung his head and chuckled. Man, youre really something,
you know. Looking up, he ran his hands through his hair to get it out of
Youd prefer my evil twin? asked Jim with a
twinkle in his eyes.
Now, I didnt say that, Blair protested
as he grabbed a mug and poured himself some coffee. This had quickly become a
familiar joke between them about Jim and his evil twin. Beyond that, Jim
seemed reluctant to talk about what had happened on Sunday. Blair doubted
he would ever know more than what they had briefly discussed after their spiritwalk.
Jim got up from the table to clean his breakfast dishes and refresh his
coffee while he waited for his partner to finish his breakfast.
with his coffee in hand, Jim leaned against the counter and finally worked up
the courage to ask the question hed wanted to ask the last couple of days.
Hey, Sandburg? he began, trying to act as nonchalantly as possible.
Do you by any chance have any books dealing with, he paused before
continuing, feeling uneasy,
a mouthful of coffee over the table in shock. Geez, Jim! Dont do that
to me again. Now Im going to make us even more late because I have to change!
Looking up at his friend, he realized Jim was dead serious and waiting patiently
for an answer. The Trickster? Really?
Ill see what Ive got, answered Blair dumbfounded. If
I dont have it, Im pretty sure I know where I can get some information
Okay, Jim sighed in relief. Now go get
changed, so we can get out of here before Simon has our hides, he chided.
Blair started down the hall to his room to change, but stopped.
Turning back, he looked at Jim and smiled. Thanks, Man.
I can wait until later for it, Jim told him.
You do realize,
I want to know more about where the Trickster fits into this, Blair warned.
I was afraid of that, Jim responded with a grin.