Blair woke first, taking note of the sunlight pouring into the room
as he climbed out of bed. Jim was still asleep, and he couldn't even remember
him coming into the room last night. He'd never expected to sleep, but the combination
of fresh air, stress, and three beers, had put him right out. Jim must have been
quiet that night when he came back down. He pushed the hair out of his face and
walked over to the windows, looking out at the partially clear sky. The sun was
just clearing the horizon and shining directly into their window, lighting up
the dock below. Blair scanned the pier for any sign of life, but there was no
one in sight. Passing by Jim quietly, he opened the door and checked the bathroom.
It was empty. Katie could be heard in the kitchen, and he saw both bunk-room doors
still closed. Taking advantage of being the first one up, he took a long hot shower,
then dressed quickly and was in the kitchen before the first of the students came
out of their rooms.
"Hey there early bird." Katie smiled and poured
a cup of coffee that she handed to Blair. "How are you feeling today?"
"Fine, thanks." He took the cup and sat down facing her. "I
was fool enough to get talked into diving today."
She laughed, turning
eggs in a pan as they scrambled. "I heard. Good for you. You know how I feel
about cold water diving."
"Yeah, you and Jim. You two should join
one of those polar clubs."
"Don't think I haven't considered it."
Katie turned her head to see down the hall. "Breakfast in ten minutes!"
she shouted. "Hey, could you bring up some urchins while you're there? We
were talking about that last night and I got a craving."
nodding. "Sure. I haven't had those in a long time."
your friend wants to try them."
"Jim? You think Jim wants to eat
"No, I don't think so Chief." Blair turned to see
Jim standing next to him. "Your cooking leaves something to be desired when
it comes to the more exotic items."
"Come on Jim, you eat these raw.
No cooking involved. Perfectly safe. It's an old native delicacy that is just
now catching on again in some of the more cultural restaurants in the area."
Jim shook his head and accepted a cup of coffee from Katie. "No thanks
Sandburg." He sat down beside Blair to drink his coffee. "Now, a lobster,
maybe some shrimp?"
Katie laughed, dishing up the eggs and handing each
of them a plate full. "Bring up anything you see that you'd like to eat,
I'll cook it for you."
Jim smiled at her. "You're on."
was laughing, then he saw the other students coming down the hall and he stopped,
glancing quickly at Jim. The sight of Kenny only reminded Blair of Emily, and
the way he had felt when she told him how important family was to her, and that
she was going to take her mother's advice and start seeing Kenny Pritchard. Kenny
ignored them both as he stepped over to the counter, helping himself to coffee,
which he then diluted with so much milk, Blair wondered why he even bothered.
Larry and Ross followed suit, then each took a plate of eggs and sat down at the
table behind Blair, out of sight unless Blair turned around, which he had no intention
of doing. Lucy came down the hall next, and just took coffee, sitting beside Ross.
Amy was behind her and got a plate and a cup, smiling at Katie, then she sat next
to Blair and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.
"Hey, long time."
He nodded, smiling back at her. "Can we talk later?"
she replied, smiling at Jim. "Did I hear right? You two are going down to
the wreck today?"
"Yep." Blair replied. He could hear Ross behind
him whisper something to Kenny and he shot Jim a quick glance, wondering if his
partner was listening. Jim was looking at Amy, but Blair could tell he was picking
up everything being said at the table behind them. He'd have to wait, as always,
to find out what had been said.
"I'm sending Igor down today. I can follow
you two with him."
"Hey, keep your eye out for lobster, would you?
Jim has put in a request for dinner." Katie sat down with a cup and smiled
at Amy. "If anyone can find a good lobster, it's Igor."
for a moment of shared memory, then Amy rolled her eyes and turned to Jim. "I
had Igor down one day, and thought I found something from the ship. But his lens
was dirty, and I could see well. So, I get all excited, thinking I've just made
a wonderful find, and grab it. All the way back I'm trying to see through his
lens, trying to figure out what this wonderful artifact could be. Then of course,
Igor comes up, after I've announced to everyone that I had something. Turns out
it was a lobster."
Blair laughed, as did Jim.
"Well, it was delicious,"
she added, smiling.
"So, you ready?" Jim looked at Blair expectantly.
He shivered, raising his eyebrows and reluctantly nodded. "Sure. Let's
go freeze our..."
"Ah, am I the last one up again?" Clive came
out from the door at the far corner of the main room where he and his wife shared
a large, private suite.
"You, my dear, are always the last one up. And
the last one to bed." Katie smiled at him and rose, going to the kitchen
to start more eggs. "Blair, there's plenty of wetsuits down on the barge.
Once you get in, the cold will be a distant memory."
He nodded and reluctantly
pushed himself away from the table. He could feel eyes on his back from the next
table, but he didn't turn around. Jim had stood and taken both their plates to
"Hey, I'll be down in a minute," Amy called to them
as they both reached the door.
Blair nodded at her and grabbed his coat, looking
up at Jim. "You sure about this?"
"You're not afraid of getting
cold, are you Chief?" Jim teased, pulling his coat on and opening the door.
"Okay. Just checking." He followed his partner out the door. The
sun was farther up in the sky as they made their way down the landing to the pier.
Blair marveled at the new length of the dock, extending now more than twice what
he remembered. The barge docked at the end was familiar though, and he couldn't
help the smile that crossed his face as they boarded it. "Man, this brings
back some memories." Blair said as he hurried over to the room containing
Jim followed, "Yeah, I heard about a few of those last night."
"Oh man, that is SO not fair," Blair said, glancing back at Jim for
a moment before stepping through the doorway. "When do I get to meet your
old army buddies? Huh?"
Jim just laughed, shaking his head. "Relax,
Sandburg. They didn't dish up any dirt. I'm beginning to doubt that there is any."
Blair rolled his eyes and stepped over to Igor, running his hands over the
machine lovingly. "I can't believe they still keep it running after all it's
"It hasn't been easy, believe me." Amy stepped
inside then, grinning at each of them as she approached.
"You send it
down often?" Jim asked.
"Sure. Almost each time a diver goes down.
It's easier to find your way to the wreck when your following a diver with the
camera, especially if the water's churning up. I'm going to send him down with
you two today, but it's clear water now, so I can use him to lead you down."
Jim slapped Blair on the back, pushing him towards the doorway. "Come
on Chief, the water's not getting any warmer."
Blair shuddered, but let
Jim push him out and towards the hatch. Once below they each found wetsuits and
gear to fit and began the arduous task of pulling on the tight rubber suits. Blair
hated this part. Stripping down in a freezing cold room, to a bathing suit, of
which there were always plenty at the station, then pulling on the wetsuit. He
beat Jim in donning the outfit, having hurried to get something on against that
cold air, and started to check the tank he had chosen. The gauges on all the tanks
read full, so he took the first in the row and checked the regulator. Satisfied,
he picked up the tank, grabbed a mask and flippers, and climbed back up to the
deck. Jim was right behind him and was already putting on the mask, following
Blair over to the edge.
Blair stopped at the edge of the barge, glancing down
at the clear blue water before sitting down to don the flippers and mask. Jim
slapped him on the back, then jumped in, sending a cascade of ice cold water up
to meet him. Blair grimaced against the cold water that hit his face, and would
have shouted at Jim if he thought he would have only been heard by his Sentinel
friend, and not also by Amy who was standing at the other end, lowering Igor into
the water. He was shivering by the time Jim's hand came up and tugged on his foot,
pulling him into the bay.
He hit the water and held his breath, waiting for
that awful moment of pure shock to subside and start his heart beating again.
Within seconds, the bubbles cleared away and his body adjusted to the numbness.
Jim was in front of him, waiting, and he waved him on, following closely. They
swam side by side when they reached the edge of the barge, and Igor joined them.
After a few yards, Blair led the way deeper, following the camera as it lead the
way to the wreck.
Blair had to consciously force himself to stop biting down
hard on the regulator against the cold hitting his face. Once he did so, he found
himself relaxing more and enjoying the dive. Igor wasn't fast, so he stayed well
enough back to keep from overtaking the little machine and glanced around. They
passed a large rock covered in anemones, urchins, and sea stars. Blair paused
along with Jim, watching the colors dance with the current in a display of reds,
purples, and oranges. Blair could almost forget his discomfort watching the show
before him. The water was so clear, he could see color everywhere, and could imagine
what Jim was able to see with his Sentinel sight under there. That was something
he would have to remember to ask. They had never been diving together, and Blair
was suddenly curious as to whether or not the water was having an affect on his
Jim touched his arm then and motioned for them to continue.
It only took a few more minutes to reach the bow of the ship, poking up from the
sand. They swam over the bow and looked out at a large section of deck still intact.
Jim led the way and Blair followed, scanning the barnacle encrusted deck. There
was more of the ship there than Blair had thought, but a lot of it was buried
in rocks and sand. Jim continued on to the stern where part of the wheelhouse
was visible and leaned inside. Blair joined him after a few more minutes of marveling
at the ship that he must have swum over a hundred times before it was found. Jim
pointed inside and Blair shook his head. His partner wanted to swim down into
the hold, but he had never gone inside a wreck before, and knew the dangers. Jim
pointed again and Blair shook his head again, waving at him. He held up three
fingers and went inside, leaving Blair above.
Great, go in there and get
stuck. I'm not coming in after you. He knew he would, of course, if his diving
partner wasn't out in three minutes. But he didn't want to. Blair pulled the regulator
gauge around and looked at it, using it as a watch like he always did while diving,
judging the minutes by the drop in air pressure. He was just at the point where
he was going to have to make one of those decisions he hated to have to make when
Jim came back up. He tried to glare at his friend from inside the mask, but Jim
just nodded and pointed back the way they had come. Blair agreed and let Jim lead
the way, with Igor close behind them both. They took their time swimming back,
both enjoying the scenery from under the waves. Blair could almost forget the
fact that he could no longer feel his feet as they watched an octopus quickly
escape their proximity. He could ignore what felt like ice crystals on his face
as Jim played with a brightly colored sea slug for a few minutes. But he could
not ignore the air pressure dial as it inched closer to the red. He tapped on
Jim's shoulder and pointed up, ascending only after his partner nodded and set
the slug down to follow. Igor was right beside Blair then and he waved at the
camera lens, then pointed to a clump of urchins on a rock, watching as Amy directed
the machine over to the creatures and used the clawed arm to pry one off.
reached the surface next to the barge and Jim was first to the ladder, climbing
out of the water after pulling off his flippers and tossing them up. Blair had
to tread water and wait, trying to keep his teeth from chattering.
on Jim, it's cold," he complained, waiting for Jim to get all the way up.
Once there, his friend turned around and held out a hand.
"Toss em up."
Blair obliged and tossed his flippers to Jim. "Hey, I think it wants you."
Blair turned to see Igor next to him, handing out the urchin. He laughed and
took the crustacean, handing it up to Jim. "Hey, Katie wants enough for dinner!"
"No problem!" Amy shouted back from her control room.
"I'll have to keep looking for lobster!"
Jim set the urchin aside
and reached down for Blair. "Man, that was incredible. I haven't been down
in these waters in a long time."
Blair let Jim pull him up, then sat down
on the edge of the barge to remove his tank. "Yeah, I'd forgotten just how
alive everything is down there. But God it's cold!" His hands were shaking
too much to unclip the tank and Jim reached over to do it. How come he never
seemed to feel the cold? "I can't believe there's so much of that ship
down there, all this time."
"You should have come inside." Jim
had pulled off his own tank now and was unzipping the top of his wetsuit. "It's
in amazing condition considering the age and the currents here. Must be due to
the temperature. And it's still full of old shipping trunks and things, in pretty
"Yeah, the temperature." Blair's teeth were
chattering now and he stood, lifting his tank. "Man, I'm getting out of this
and into a hot shower." He hurried down below and stowed the gear, placing
his used tank at the far end of the row, then sat down and began the very difficult
task of removing the wetsuit. Jim came in with his halfway down already and Blair
shivered seeing his friend, standing there in that cold, seemingly unaffected.
"What the hell is it with you anyway?"
Jim laughed a little and looked
at Blair, questioningly. "What?"
"You aren't even shivering.
Your fingernails aren't blue." Blair made a face as he pulled the wet rubber
off of his chest, trying not to dislocate both shoulders as he pulled each arm
loose. "I can't see you turning down your sense of touch enough not to be
Jim was smiling as he pulled the rest of his wetsuit off. "I
just have a higher level of tolerance, Chief. Always have."
got the rest of his suit off and he quickly toweled off, rubbing hard to warm
his skin. "Yeah, well, don't count on me going back down for your lobster."
"Don't worry Sandburg, I'll find someone else to go down with next time.
I wouldn't mind having another look at the inside of that ship. There was a lot
of room in there. Room for all sorts of supplies. I wonder what they've found?"
"You can have a look at some of it," Blair said, stuffing his arms
into his sweater. "They've got a lot boxed up in the basement." He shoved
the sweater on and grabbed his pants. "And Clive should have a list of what
the historians expected to find on board." He zipped his jeans and looked
for his socks, then noticed the thoughtful expression on his partner's face. "What?
What are you thinking?"
Jim had been glancing at the tanks while dressing.
"I was just wondering how often these tanks are replaced. Seems like a lot
of equipment for just a handful of divers."
Blair was about to form a
response when he heard his name called.
"Hey Blair, come help me with
Igor, would you?" Amy called from above. "If Katie wants enough for
dinner, I'm going to need some help."
Jim smiled and pulled on his shirt.
"I'm going to go up and have a chat with Clive about that ship. Just keep
your eye out for lobster, okay?"
Blair smiled and nodded. He was going
to try again to convince Jim to try sea urchin, but after the little mess in the
loft, he knew his partner wasn't going to be keen on anything he suggested for
dinner for some time. They both climbed back up to the deck and Blair assured
him it would be lobster or nothing, then entered the control room and took a seat
next to Amy.
Blair took the controls while Amy went outside to attach a net
to one of Igor's arms, then he sent the machine down to the rock where he had
seen the bounty of urchins earlier. It felt good to be back at the controls after
such a long time. Finding that native canoe in the channel had been the first
time Blair used Igor. There wasn't much call for propeller driven cameras in anthropology,
but he wasn't completely unfamiliar with machines, having invented most of his
own for testing Jim's Sentinel abilities. There was a space heater on in the control
room, so Blair quickly warmed up, then was able to enjoy himself, maneuvering
Igor around the sea floor in search of lobster. He had better luck with the urchins,
and after a few dropped ones and three that were crushed beyond recognition, he
was able to gather a bag full and brought Igor back to Amy's waiting arms.
should keep you and Katie happy for the night." Amy held up the dripping
bag, laughing. "I can't stand the things myself."
tried them?" Blair asked, smiling at her from the other side of the sack.
"Well, no. But I'm not sure I will be any time soon." She set the
bag down and looked around, trying to see down the pier. "Hey, can we talk
Blair looked up and raised his eyebrows. "Sure. Anytime."
She nodded, glancing over her shoulder again as they heard footsteps approaching.
"Not now, but maybe after lunch?"
Blair glanced past her and saw
Kenny and Lucy coming up the pier. "Yeah, okay." He nodded then picked
up the bag. "Hey, do me a favor. Keep an eye out for lobster."
got it." Amy patted Blair on the back as he passed her and stepped off the
barge. Kenny was there, waiting to board.
"You surprise me, Blair. Coming
all the way up here to help Emily out like this." Kenny stepped aside while
Blair jumped off the barge and turned to look at him. "Although, considering
her parent's position, I would have thought the University would send someone
a little more...in keeping with her status."
"Someone has to be responsible,
Kenny. I only hope you grow up some day soon." Blair picked up the bag of
urchins and left before he could say any more. Seeing Kenny, walking around without
even the hint of sorrow or regret, made his blood run cold. He knew Kenny's type
more than he knew Kenny personally, and he knew the strongest emotions people
like him felt were towards themselves. How could Emily have fallen in love
with a man like that? When Blair knew her, she was so vibrant and full of
life and love for everything. They'd had fun together, but Blair wasn't ready
for anything serious any time soon. And Emily was. But Kenny Pritchard?
From what he'd heard, Kenny wasn't even a very good student. Professor Kinyon
wasn't too fond of him. Neither was Jim.
Blair glanced up to the top floor
windows of the center before starting up the steps. He could see Jim standing
there with Clive, both of them looking down at the pier. Hadn't Jim said something
last night about Kenny? Blair started up the stairs and caught a glimpse of Ross
and Larry standing on the landing, watching him. There was something strange going
on with those two. Something that was beginning to give Blair a nervous feeling
he couldn't quite identify. He smiled at the two as he passed them, entering the
building. They both just stood there, watching him like two fleshed gargoyles.
Blair set the bag of urchins down in the mud room and hung up his coat, then
went looking for a bucket to carry the dripping creatures into the kitchen with.
There was nothing on the main floor he could find, so he went downstairs where
he knew he'd find one or two tucked away in the closet. Once at the bottom of
the stairs, Blair kept his eyes from wandering to the freezer. There were boxes
stacked everywhere, and several of them were pressed up against the closet he
needed to get into. Most of the crates were nailed shut and lifted easily, so
he began to reposition them in order to gain access to the bucket he could see
against the far wall. He had just moved three crates and was lifting a fourth
when his hand hit something sharp.
"Ow!" Blair pulled his right hand
back quickly, seeing blood dripping off his index finger. He pressed his thumb
over the cut and bent down to examine the offending crate. Several nails were
sticking out from the lid that had been hastily put together. More often than
not, the hammer had missed it's mark, and more than half the nails were bent.
Blair looked at his finger, then found a safe handhold on the crate and moved
it aside. Before reaching for the final one, he examined it closely, finding the
same hasty construction. He moved that one aside with his foot and reached the
bucket he was looking for, taking it back up the stairs.
"Hey, did you
Blair was halfway back to the mud room to gather his urchins
when Katie came down the stairs. "Yeah, sure did. Where do you want them?"
Blair picked each one out of the bag and put them into the bucket.
the sink. I'll need to rinse them out good. Clive likes them boiled, or he won't
eat them at all." Katie walked over and took the now full bucket from Blair's
hands. "Want some coffee?"
"Sure. I just need to wash up. Where's
"Upstairs. Clive is showing him the historical record of that
old wreck. Here, there's soap at the sink, wash your hands."
and walked over to the smaller sink at the opposite end of the kitchen. He couldn't
help the sudden intake of breath as the hot water hit his finger. "Ow, man...Do
you still keep the band-aids in the same place?"
"Of course. What
happened?" Katie walked over and took Blair's hand in hers, looking at the
cut on his finger. "What did this?"
"I had to move some crates
to find the bucket." Blair tried to pull his hand away when she took a closer
look at the cut. "Some of them have nails sticking out and I found one the
Katie shook her head and pulled Blair by the hand. "Come
on, let me clean this out before it gets infected."
As she still had his
hand, Blair had no choice but to follow Katie across the room and into the small
medical station she kept set up just across from her and Clive's private quarters.
Once inside she had him sit on the one bed while she opened a cabinet and produced
bandages and antiseptic soap.
"I'd better have Lucy fix those boxes. It's
not like her to do a shoddy job packing artifacts. In fact, packing and cataloguing
is what she does best."
Blair tried very hard not to complain as she began
to scrub his finger. "Hey Katie, was Kenny the only one on the dock with
Emily, when it happened?"
She finished scrubbing the cut and patted it
dry. "No, actually Larry and Ross were down there too. Kenny was diving with
her though. By the time I got down there, they had been trying to resuscitate
her for five minutes." She finished drying the cut and put a bandage around
it. "I still can't get over it. I imagine I never will, not completely. Clive
and I, we feel so responsible for all of them when they come up here."
knew what she was doing. So did Kenny. I don't understand how this could have
happened. Thanks." Blair glanced at his finger when she finished and nodded.
"You know, that friend of yours has been asking about it too. And not
just in a curios way. I suppose, being a Detective and all, he sees these things
in a different way than the rest of us. But I have to tell you, he's starting
to make me wonder myself."
"Yeah, Jim does that." Blair stayed
on the bed and Katie took a seat on the stool beside the small counter.
told me about how your apartment got blown up and he took you in after that. At
first, I had a hard time picturing the two of you together. But after getting
to know him, I can see how you might compliment each other. He's a good friend."
Blair nodded slowly, raising his eyebrows. "Yes, he is." He smiled,
remembering the paint fight of just yesterday. It had taken him totally by surprise
and his stunned reaction was all Jim needed to get the advantage. Blair still
didn't know when it was okay to relax around Jim and when it wasn't, but he was
learning all the time. Just the fact that Jim Ellison still wanted him around
often surprised him. "I've never met anyone like him before. He's so...deep.
I mean, I can't even explain it myself, but this guy's just not your average policeman.
He's not your average anything, really. Scares me sometimes."
leaning against the counter. "What do you mean?"
"I'm not sure."
Blair shrugged, realizing he may have used the wrong words, but it seemed true.
"I've just never known anyone who was always...There. I mean, I thought our
working together was going to be pretty temporary, and I still keep expecting
him to call it off. But, I don't want it to be over, not anymore. And he keeps
me around, even with my occasional screw up. God, I just don't know how to deal
with it sometimes. But I want to."
Katie smiled, "He's had an effect
on you. I can see it."
Blair looked at her then, wondering what she meant,
but afraid to ask. "Everybody has an affect on me."
She shook her
head, still smiling. "No, not everyone. Clive sees it too. You've changed
since we saw you last. And it's not because of Emily."
At the mention
of Emily, Blair lowered his eyes for a moment, still struggling with his emotions,
or lack of them, even after Jim insisted it was okay. He wasn't sure if he had
been more upset about his feelings, or what Jim would think of him if he were
to find out. But Jim had found out. He'd found out and hadn't even thought twice
"I don't know exactly what you do for the Detective, but take
my advice...Stick with him. He's been good for you." She stood then and Blair
got up. "And, though I never met him before, I'd be willing to bet you've
had an effect on him, too." She patted Blair on the shoulder and they both
left the aid room. "Like you do on everyone you meet."