It? Got it. Good!
Disclaimer: They're not mine
- but I sure wish they were. Pet Fly and Paramount own 'em but should they ever
decide to get rid of them - I'll gladly adopt....
Notes: Well gee, I actually did it! I'd like to thank my
betas, Stargazer, TAE & Shallan for all their help. Extra thanks to Mpala
who sent me to Graywulf and Graywulf who gave me a home for my stories. Yep! I
think there's more to come! Hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it!
The room was almost dark, with the exception
of the glow from the TV screen. Jim didn't remember falling asleep on the couch
- but as he watched the credits roll by on the screen he realized he must have
done exactly that.
From behind him came a tap, tap, tappity, tap - the sound
of Sandburg working away in the dim room to the light of the screen on his laptop.
slowly sat up and stretched. He looked over at his roommate, who shot him a sidelong
glance and started to go through the motions of shutting down his laptop.
were sawing wood pretty good there, man. You must have been a lot more tired that
"Yeah, I guess I was. This stakeout has been worse
than watching paint dry. And tonight, with nothing on the tube, it was easy to
Jim stood up, shutting off the TV. "I guess I'm
done for the night. Don't stay up too late, Darwin. We've got to watch paint dry
early in the morning - and I'm not going to let you sleep through it."
Jim, man, I can't go with you tomorrow - I've got some work up at the university
that can't wait. I'll be there all day. Don't you remember? I told you earlier.
Connor is going on the stakeout with you."
"You're right, I forgot.
So what's up at the university, Chief?"
"More research. I'm following
up on some leads I found a while ago, but never had the chance to pursue."
sentinel stuff? Why didn't you tell me sooner, or is this something I'm not going
Blair shook his head. "Actually, I don't have a clear
picture of this stuff either. Until I do, I want to continue working on the research
before we start discussing it."
"Whatever you say, Chief. I'll
see you in the morning." As he walked by the dining room table, Blair closed
the laptop and said goodnight. Jim walked to the stairs expecting to hear Blair
get up and walk towards his own room, but Blair didn't move. He listened closely,
Blair's heart rate had sped up a bit, and he could almost swear he was holding
his breath. //What was up with him?//
Jim shrugged, undressed, and climbed
into bed. A short time later, he noticed the return of the soft light downstairs
and the tapping sound resumed. //Whatever he was up to, Blair didn't want to share
the information, at least not yet. I'm sure I'll find out soon enough, like when
he wants to run some new test on me.// Jim sighed and turned over in a vain attempt
to get some sleep.
"What's wrong Jim? Too much coffee? You're
pacing like a caged lion," asked Connor.
"No, just getting impatient
for this stakeout to be over. We're getting nowhere."
Jim moved back to the window and after a short time did a double
take. "Did you just see what I thought I saw?"
did you see, Jim?"
"A woodchuck. One minute it was there. The
next it was gone."
"That's it for you. No more coffee. You're
starting to see things. Maybe you should take a bit of a rest, I can keep watch
for the next while," Connor offered.
He tried to rest, but returned
to his pacing a short time later. Megan's eyes began to reflect the tension she
felt as she wondered how bad this episode would get. She could see Jim becoming
more agitated as the day progressed. When their relief arrived, she couldn't have
"Now to call Sandy and put him on alert," Megan
Getting in her car, she pulled out her cell phone and hurriedly
dialed the loft. Getting no answer there, and not willing to leave a message,
she then dialed the number at the university Blair had given her.
"Sandy, this is Megan. We've got a problem. During
the stakeout today, Jim was showing signs of agitation that I haven't seen since,
well, since that Barnes woman was causing trouble almost a year ago. Could this
be a sentinel related thing?"
Not far behind her, Jim sat in the truck.
He rested his forehead on the steering wheel and had a heavy feeling in his stomach
at those words. //'Could this be a sentinel related thing?' How long has she known?//
//Just when I need to talk to him, he decides to play hard to find. He didn't
get home until late last night, and went straight to bed - no chance for me to
talk with him. He was out the door early this morning, again. It's like he's trying
to avoid me. What the hell is going on?//
Jim stared at the report in front
of him. The same report he'd been trying to work on for the past hour. This was
getting him nowhere. Every time he tried to concentrate on the report, the events
of the last few days started to play themselves out for him. It had nasty echoes
of the past. //Sandburg wouldn't do this again. He couldn't. There's no way, is
He noticed for about the fifth time in the last two hours, that
Connor was watching him. She must have said something to Simon, because he'd been
out of his office roughly four times in the same amount of time. It annoyed him
to be watched like this. It only made things worse.
"Ellison, I need
to see you in my office," said Simon. The tone was not the usual tough one
he used to call people on the carpet...this one was tinged with concern. Jim's
stomach sank as he rose and walked towards the captain's office. He could feel
everyone's eyes on him as he went.
Closing the door behind him, he readied
himself for what he knew was coming. The last time he had acted like this he'd
blown a gasket. He would not let it come to that again. He was trying desperately
to remain in control.
"Jim, what's going on?"
not sure, Simon. I'm beginning to suspect there may be another sentinel in the
city. I seem to be getting similar feelings, but not quite as strong as the last
time. They're different somehow, but I can't put my finger on it."
you talked about this with Sandburg?"
"No, for some reason he
seems to be avoiding me. I've barely seen him in the last few days. Since about
the time all of this started."
Simon's expression hardened. Clearly
this was not a path he intended to journey down again. "I strongly suggest
you find Sandburg and talk with him about this. In fact, make that an order, detective.
I need you at your best. You're no good to anyone in this state."
Luck was with him. Jim found a spot not far from the Volvo in the campus parking
lot near Hargrove Hall. He tried to ignore the sense of unease as he walked toward
the building, glancing quickly at the fountain where disaster had struck the last
time. He quickened his step, practically racing to Blair's office. By the time
he reached the door, his heart was in his mouth.
Through the window, he
saw someone move in the small room, but it didn't have the feel of his guide's
movements. Extending his hearing, he tried to listen for the familiar heartbeat
and was rewarded with the rhythm of a stranger and a bizarre shuffling sound.
slowly opened the door part way. Out shuffled a woodchuck that sat up and regarded
him for a moment and then slowly ambled down the hall past him. With his eyes
wide in shock, he opened the door the rest of the way to see the stranger standing
behind Blair's desk.
//This can't be happening!// Jim shuddered as the words
tumbled into his mind. Everything was in chaos. "No!" Jim heard himself
whisper as his eyes took in the mysterious man standing defiantly before him.
red headed figure stood and glared at him with twinkling blue eyes, challenging
him, "How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"
It's bad enough he looks like Danny Kaye, but does he also have to be dressed
as the Inspector General?//
Jim jerked awake, his heart racing. The
room was dim, lit only by the light of the TV. Behind him he heard the tap, tap,
tappity, tap of Blair working away on his laptop.
Jim slowly sat up and
stretched. He looked over at his roommate, who shot him a sidelong glance and
started to go through the motions of shutting down his laptop.
were sawing wood pretty good there, man. You must have been a lot more tired that
you thought. You missed most of the movie. All that's left now are the credits.
I thought you wanted to watch The Inspector General?"
I was more tired than I realized. I'll catch the movie another time." Trying
to appear nonchalant Jim stretched and rubbed the back of his neck, while mentally
he was desperately attempting to sort things out. Getting up and walking over
to the table where Blair sat working he asked, "Uh, Chief. I need to ask
you a quick question. Now, don't take this personally. Okay?"
peered at Jim from over the screen of the laptop. "Well, if you put it that
way how can I say no? Ask away," he said curious to hear what his friend
Jim cleared his throat and stared at a point somewhere
beyond his roommate. Blair had to fight the impulse to turn around to see what
was so darned interesting.
"Chief, let's say you noticed something
about someone that made you believe I wasn't... Well, I wasn't the only one, besides
Alex I mean."
Blair's eyes narrowed. //What the hell?// "I think
you know the answer to that one." Regarding his roommate with a look of incredulity
he asked, "Jim,are you looking for reassurance here?"
to stare beyond Blair's head, which was really, really, starting to get on the
younger man's nerves. When there was no forthcoming comment Blair continued. "Jim,
you would know as soon as the thought crossed my mind."
Jim let out
a loud sigh and visibly relaxed.
"What brought this on, man?"
Blair looked totally confused. //Damn, he's doing that staring thing again.//
coughed and said hesitantly, "I don't know. Just had a thought."
smiled in spite of himself. Jim seemed downright worried. //Almost like he....
Wait a minute ... //
"Jim were you dreaming a minute ago? Did you dream
about another sentinel?"
Jim blushed and continued to stare beyond
"Jim, we may need to investigate this, man. What did
the sentinel look like?"
"Well, I, uh... Let's just say he wasn't
like me. There was a man and a spirit animal.
"Did you see another
jaguar?" Blair was becoming animated, a mixture of excitement and dread on
"No, no. No, jaguars, buddy. Nothing like that. I think I'd
better go to bed, Chief. That stupid movie has messed with my dreams."
turned away and quickly went up the stairs, mumbling to himself as he went. "There's
no way I'm going to start talking to Sandburg about woodchuck spirit guides and
sentinels who are Danny Kaye look-a-likes," he mumbled.
For about the
millionth time, Blair wished for a portion of sentinel senses as he strained to
hear the mumbled words Jim kept repeating.
"Uh, Jim? Are you talking
about -- woodchucks? *Woodchucks*?" Blair repeated in bewilderment as he
got up from where he was sitting.
Wait, wait! What the hell are you talking about?"
Jim could hear the
younger man clambering up the stairs after him. He turned at his bed and made
a stopping motion with his hands.
"Let it go, Blair. It's no big deal,
okay? I just had a stupid dream and I want to get some real sleep now."
stepped over to him, ignoring Jim's attempts to end the conversation.
man. This is not *us* anymore. We don't do *this*, remember?"
into his friend's luminous eyes and felt the pull of responsibility he found so
familiar these days. With a sigh, he sat on the bed and patted the mattress beside
"Sit down, Blair. You're right. If I am going to regain your trust,
I have to be willing to talk things over, even the stupid stuff I guess. There
have been plenty of times when you have taken something I thought was sheer lunacy
and shown me how important it was."
Sandburg squinted down at the detective
as he pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. "I am not sure to take
that as an attempt at a compliment or a blatant insult. And what is this about
"regaining trust"? You know I trust you, Jim."
Jim had to
smile and said softly, "Chief, *will* you sit down? I just mean that my question
earlier...about you telling me if there was another sentinel...had to bring some
issues up for you. I know that damned dream did for me. You're a smart guy. I
know you had to have a bit of a flashback there, huh?"
to stand. Jim watched the kaleidoscope of emotions flash in his friend's eyes
as Blair analyzed the words.
"Blair. Sit down. *Please*?"
expressive eyes suddenly brightened and focused back on Jim. He sat down on the
bed and put his forearms on his knees. He slouched so far over that all Jim could
see was the curtain of hair that fell over his face.
Jim continued in the
soft voice, "Chief, I never meant to imply that I think you would betray
me somehow. I know you.... And I know my question had to bother you. I also know
you are very interested in my dreams because of our past experiences. I want you
to know that I would not let anything like *that* happen to us again. It's just...well,
I am a little embarrassed to talk about this one. It seems so silly now."
raised his head and turned towards Jim. He shifted over so he could sit cross-legged
in his typical meditative position and looked eagerly at Jim. "Well, we'll
never know if it's something significant unless you talk to me, man. You said
earlier there was a spirit animal or something?"
Jim forced himself
to keep looking at Sandburg. "Yes, there was a spirit animal. I guess you
could call it that."
"But you said it wasn't a jaguar, right?"
Blair's eyes had taken on the sparkle that was so characteristic of the young
man in scientist mode. Jim couldn't help but smile at the return of that intense
gaze. Things were good in the guide's world when that expression was on his face.
Jim gathered his courage and plowed ahead.
"It was a woodchuck, Chief.
And, yes, there was a sentinel, or what I perceive to be a sentinel, based upon
my past responses to the presence of another one."
"Wait a minute
here, Jim. The spirit guide was a woodchuck?" Blair's voice betrayed his
"If you're gonna make fun, Sandburg, I'll stop right now."
No, no, no.... Sorry. Look. See. No amusement here. None at all." Blair put
on his most serious expression. "What was that about another sentinel?"
was in your office, Chief. Like before. So you can see why I was a little unnerved.
Something else was weird. Megan and I were on a stakeout in the dream. She was
watching me and talking to herself. She muttered something about calling you.
She said *it* was happening again. She knew about me, Blair." Jim directed
his crystalline blue gaze at Blair and half asked, half guessed, "She knows,
His guide's mouth fell open and a flush spread from his
neck to his face. When he spoke, the words tumbled out, one on top of the other,
in a desperate attempt to make things right, "Jim, oh man, yeah. She, ummm.
I, well, she found out when we went to get Alex. When we were at the church and
everything went nuts. I was an idiot, Jim. I left the copy of Burton's book on
a pew and Megan found it. She must have looked through it. She said something
about sentinels. I had to admit that you were one. She had it nailed, Jim. Oh
God. Oh man. No one else knows, Jim. I am not even sure how much Megan understands.
She can't know it all. God, I'm sorry I didn't tell you, but I was sure she didn't
really *get* it you know, and... Shit..."
Jim took pity on his friend
and held up his hand. "You know, Chief, I should be really pissed off about
this. I mean after all that we have been through and the strides forward we've
made." Blair's face paled even more. "But you know what? I realized
that Megan was bound to find out sooner or later anyway. She's a good detective
and can be a friend to us both. You never know, that knowledge might help us if
things get a little crazy out there someday. Right now we can just play it by
ear." Jim peered at his friend. "Hey, Chief, you can breathe now. That
other sentinel thing does seem to have gotten to me a bit. I can't really describe
it, but some of the feelings I had in the dream were very similar to what I experienced
Some color had returned to Blair's face. "Wow! Maybe
we need to research this, Jim. It could be that you are sensing something here.
Have you been experiencing any other symptoms? Have you been feeling...."
looked away and mumbled, "It was Danny Kaye, Sandburg."
did you say...it sounded like...nah...what did you say?"
to look away. "The sentinel was Danny Kaye."
Sandburg made a little
choking sound which brought Jim's attention back to him. As Jim watched he could
see little tears begin to gather in the corners of his guide's eyes. Watching
Blair's frantic attempt at controlling his amusement finally proved too much for
the detective. All the tension and stress caused by the dream seemed to fade as
he began to chuckle. Blair's eyes widened and one of the tears spilled down his
cheek. Jim began to laugh harder as he reached over and circled a long arm around
his friend's neck and quickly pulled Blair into a rough embrace.
right, kid. It was Danny Kaye. *And* he was dressed as the Inspector General.
Want to make somethin' of it?"
Blair's shoulders began to shake under
Jim's arm and the effervescent sound of Blair's laughter filled the room. He pulled
away from Jim and wiped his eyes. "You really had me going there, Jim. I
was about ready to call in Simon. Now *that* would have been a disaster."
He began to giggle again.
Jim took a deep breath and put his hands on Blair's
shoulders. Seeing the expression on Jim's face turn serious, Blair met his eyes
with a questioning look.
"Chief, I don't worry about you *or* you becoming
involved with another sentinel. You're my best friend and I trust you. Get it?"
looked unwaveringly into Jim's eyes and put his hands on the sentinel's shoulders
to complete the connection. "Got it!"
The two friends, sentinel
and guide, grinned at each other as they said quietly in unison, "Good."