Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.
Rated: PG, for some strong language.
Author's Notes: This is an answer to a challenge from my roommate, Lisa. She asked me to write a story that was under ten (10) pages. Since RL is playing some very cruel jokes on me right now (surgery showed that I have arthritis), I agreed. This should also get me out of my writer's block. This story has SentinelAngst (for Jim), some quiet, thoughtful time (for Blair), and some exasperation (for Simon). No real violence, but some yelling on both Blair's and Jim's part. Please send feedback and also let me know if I made the under ten pages deal. Hope you enjoy!
"I DO NOT believe you man! You promised that we could have tomorrow for testing," Blair Sandburg yelled at his friend and partner, Jim Ellison.
"I know what I said Chief but I'm just worn out. I need some down time and this looks to be the only day I'm likely to be getting for a while," Jim countered.
"Look I know you're beat but so am I. I'm still working on my dissertation, working with you AND teaching at Rainier. The tests won't take long, just a couple of hours and then you can have the rest of the day to your self."
"For the last time, Sandburg, I'm NOT doing any tests tomorrow or, for that matter, for the rest of the week."
"Great, just great. I guess that getting better control over your senses and maybe learning a new layered ability is out of the question." Blair stormed over to the door to the loft that he shared with Jim, grabbed his coat, keys, and backpack, and opened the door saying, "I am out of here!"
"Chief, wait, don't..." as the door was slammed.
Jim slumped back on the couch and closed his eyes. "That's was handled subtly, Ellison. For an encore, let's kill one of Blair's plants. Why can't he understand that I'm just plain old tired?"
Blair stormed out to his Volvo, unlocked the car and got in. He realized that he was way too angry to be driving so he took in a deep breath, held it for a count of five, and then slowly released it. Blair repeated the procedure quite a few times until he felt himself in a reasonable state of mind. He glanced up toward the loft living room windows. He could see Jim sitting on the couch. Blair shook his head, started his car, and pulled out of his space. He didn't know where he was going except away from Jim for a while. He figured that he would calm down eventually.
Blair drove out to an area that overlooked the city of Cascade, Washington. The drive took about an hour and for a while Blair watched the city and thought about his friend. Jim Ellison was the brother that Blair had always wanted. Jim had started off as just a subject for his Ph.D. thesis. Their association had taken on a whole new reality after just a few weeks. Blair had become Jim's partner at work and his Guide full-time. The two had weathered hardships galore. Everything from being overdosed with a designer drug to going to Peru to save Captain Simon Banks and his son Daryl to saving Simon again from a kidnapper. Blair had fought his fear of heights, his dislike of guns and even put up with being very cold. He had endured a great deal just to be with Jim when he was truly needed.
As Blair sat and contemplated his life since meeting his Sentinel, he realized that he had been too harsh with Jim. Jim had worked a great deal of overtime in the last three weeks. Partly due to vacations for the holidays but also due to the flu that was going around the precinct. Jim needed downtime for sure and Blair had just added to Jim's anxiety by insisting that they work on his senses on his day off.
Blair glanced at his watch and was surprised to see that almost three hours had passed. He chuckled to himself that his musing had taken so long. Blair heard his stomach growl and realized that he had left the loft without eating this morning. If he left now, he could make it to the park by noon and get a couple of Mr. Tube Steaks for lunch. While he was there, he could watch the people and relax even more before going home. Starting the Volvo, Blair backed up and followed the road that led off of The Point. He didn't see the patrol car coming from the opposite side of the road.
Jim Ellison was not a happy man. He had tried to relax after Blair had left and had finally dosed off for a nap. The only problem with the idea of napping was that a person has a tendency to dream. And dream is just what Jim Ellison, Sentinel to the Great City, had done.
The dream had started out all right but had turned into something that scared him to his core. When he awoke, Jim tried to convince himself that nothing was wrong but the uneasy feeling would not go away. After another thirty minutes of worrying, Jim tried to call Blair on his cell phone. No answer. Next he tried Blair's office. Again no answer. Finally Jim had called Simon.
"Captain, it's Jim. By chance, you haven't seen Sandburg at the office, have you?"
"No I haven't seen Sandburg. For that matter, why should I? What happened Jim?"
"Nothing that can't be fixed with some talking but I have a feeling that something is wrong. I just can't pin it down if it's happened to Sandburg or someone near him at the moment."
"What do you mean 'if it's happening to Sandburg or someone near him'? Where's Sandburg right now?"
"I'm not sure, Captain but I think he might be up at The Point."
"What's he doing up at The Point?"
"I don't know. It's just the impression I got. That impression is also telling me that something's not right but I can't put my finger on it."
"All right Jim, I'll have a patrol car go up to The Point and have a look around. I'll call you if they find anything, all right?"
"That's fine, sir. I'll be waiting for your call," Jim said and then turned off his phone. He placed the phone back on its charger and rubbed his face with his hands.
'What's going on Chief and why won't you answer me?' Jim called through the mindlink that he and Blair shared. The only reply that came was white noise. Jim closed his eyes and leaned back against the couch. He didn't know how long it would be before Simon called back, so he closed his eyes and tried to relax.
Almost an hour later, the loft phone rang. The phone was answered quickly with, "Ellison!"
"Jim, its Simon. Blair's not up at The Point but the patrol did find an abandoned car with a body in it. The deceased is a little more than three to four hours old."
"Are you sure there was no sign of Sandburg, sir?"
"Didn't I just say that? Look, Jim, I need to get Forensics working on the Crime Scene. If you get any more 'impressions' give me a call. Okay?"
"Sure Simon and thanks for the call. Bye."
Jim turned off his phone and groaned. Blair had been at The Point but had left. He had probably never even saw what had happened to the deceased. Now all he had to do was figure out where Blair had gone. Jim closed his eyes again and tried to relax. Maybe the impression of where Blair was would come to him again. He just hoped that Blair was staying out of trouble.
Blair parallel parked the Volvo near the park. He had seen the Mr. Tube Steak vendor pushing his wagon along the sidewalk. Blair got out of his car and wandered over to the vendor.
"I'll take two with everything except peppers."
"Two with everything coming up," the vendor said with a smile.
Blair watched the vendor prepare his lunch. The vendor made a real show of dressing up the tube steaks with 'kraut, ketchup, mustard, pickle relish, onions and even a little mayo. Finally, the vendor handed one of the steaks to Blair, accepted Blair's money and then dressed up the second tube steak. The vendor handed the second steak to Blair with a large smile and a "thanks."
Blair wandered over to a picnic table and sat down to eat his lunch. He watched the small children play on the monkey bars and other jungle gym pieces. The parents and citizens of Cascade had done an excellent job of refurbishing the park. Blair remembered back to when he had first moved to Cascade, the park had been rundown and overrun with drug dealers and gangs. It wasn't safe to be near even during the day. Now, the park was clean, dealer-free and gang-free pretty much. Most dealers stuck to other areas now and the gangs had decided that the park was no-man's land. Very little crime went on here so most parents didn't mind bringing their children here.
Blair sat for about an hour just relaxing and enjoying being in the area. The weather was unusually warm for January so he had decided to take full advantage and catch some sun. After glancing at his watch, Blair decided to head over to his office at Rainier and catch up on a little bit of paperwork. He also figured that the longer he stayed away from Jim the better. Blair walked over to his car, got in and started it up. Just as he put the car in gear, Blair noticed a police cruiser pull up next to the vendor he had purchased his tube steaks from. The officer leaped out of his car and gave chase to a young man running away from the vendor. As the officer gave chase, another cruiser pulled up next to the vendor. The second officer stayed with the vendor and seemed to be asking some questions.
Blair thought that it was funny that the police should be pulling up to the park. As he thought about it, Blair remembered back to when he had left The Point. He thought he had seen a patrol car pulling into the same area that he had just pulled out from. Maybe it was a just a coincidence but it seemed that the police were following him around. He'd have to ask Jim about it later when he got home. See if Jim had heard anything about what was going on. Blair pulled into traffic and headed for Rainier.
Jim awoke with a jerk. He had dosed back off after the phone call from Simon and he'd dreamed again. This time, Jim had dreamed of the park where he and Sandburg sometimes have lunch. He could see Blair clearly and watched as Blair purchased a tube steak or two. All-in-all, Blair seemed relaxed and content but that was soon to change. As Blair was leaving the park, someone came up to him and tried to rob him. No one saw the two men struggling. Finally, Jim saw that Blair had been knocked to the ground. The sound of Blair hitting the ground is what had awakened him.
Jim tried to slow down his breathing. After a few minutes, Jim was breathing somewhat slower and he reached for the phone.
"What is it now, Jim?"
"Can you send a patrol car to the park off Central?"
"Why? Does this have to do with Sandburg?"
"Yes, I... I think he just got mugged or something."
"What do you mean 'or something'?"
"That's just it Simon, I'm not sure. I had this 'vision' that someone, possibly Blair, was getting mugged."
"And this someone or Sandburg was in park off of Central?"
"Yes, sir. I recognized the park because Sandburg and I stop for tube steaks sometimes."
"All right Jim, I'll send a patrol car out there to check on the area and to be sure that Sandburg's not in trouble. I'll call you back when I get word."
"Thanks Simon, I'll be waiting."
Simon disconnected from Jim and called dispatch to send a patrol car out to the park. After he had disconnected from Dispatch, Simon leaned back in his chair and rubbed the bridge of his nose. 'God save me from confused Guides and very confusing and frustrating Sentinels!'
Approximately ten minutes later, Simon was relaying the information about the park mugger to a much relieved Sentinel. Sandburg was fine and the vendor of tube steaks was bruised but otherwise healthy. The mugger had been chased halfway across the park before he had been apprehended. Sandburg had been seen leaving the park as the second patrolman was with the vendor. Simon was happy to hear his detective breath easier and told him to call if he needed anything else. Jim agreed and hung up.
Blair took another drink from his mug of coffee and grimaced. The coffee had gone cold. He glanced at his watch and was surprised to find that three hours had gone by while he'd worked on his dissertation. Blair stood up from his chair and stretched. His back cracked and popped, letting him know that he'd been sitting for way too long. Blair walked over to the coffee maker and poured himself another cup. Taking another drink before turning back to his desk, Blair glanced out the doorway of his office. He was surprised to see flashing lights outside of his building. Blair set down his mug and headed out front to find out what was going on.
On the front steps of Hargrove Hall, Blair ran into Suzanne Tamaki, head of Rainier Campus Security.
"Hi, Suzanne. What's going on?"
"Hi Blair. We got a call about ten minutes ago from Captain Banks. Seems he had a tip that something was amiss near here. Sure enough, my people found a girl that had been mugged. She wasn't too badly hurt but we had a hell of a time convincing her to go to the hospital. I think she had a concussion along with a nice slice in her arm."
"Lt. Tamaki!" called one of the Security guards. "We caught the guy. We caught him trying to break into Professor Buchanan's office."
"Great. Has anyone called the Cascade PD to come and pick up the guy yet?"
"Joe is calling them now. Paul and I can hang on to this guy until they get here and take him off of our hands."
"All right, let me know when they get here. Have Joe disperse the crowd when he's done with CPD."
Blair shook his head and half-smiled at Suzanne. She turned back to Blair and asked, "so what's with the smile? Know something I don't?"
"No! I mean, I don't know anything that you don't but I'm beginning to wonder what's going on."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Jim and I had a disagreement this morning. I needed some space and time to cool down so I went for a drive. I finally went up to The Point for a while. When I was leaving, I could've sworn I saw a patrol car arriving there. Then when I had finished eating over at the park, two patrols pulled up and chased down a guy who had just robbed the tube steak vendor I'd bought two steaks from. Now this, if I didn't know better, I'd say that Jim's got his friends keeping an eye on me."
"Well, if Jim is having his friends keep an eye on you, then I'd say that everybody around you is benefiting from it. I wouldn't complain if I were you," Suzanne said with a smile and a lilt in her voice.
"Yeah, maybe you're right. But it's still seems a bit creepy. At least everyone's okay. Look, I better let you go so you can finalize the details here and I need to get back to my diss. I'll talk to you later."
"Bye Blair. Good luck with the diss and with Jim." Suzanne waved as Blair turned to go back into Hargrove Hall and return to his dissertation.
Blair sat down at his desk and started working on his dissertation again. After a few minutes, he realized that he wasn't going to be getting anymore work done. He shut down his laptop and started putting things into his backpack. When he was finished packing his things up, Blair shouldered the pack and left his office. Blair went out to his Volvo and got in. He watched the sun set from his car, turned the ignition over and headed back to the loft that he shared with Jim. He realized that the two of them needed to work out some details about their lives.
"BLAIR!!!!!!!" Jim sat straight up. He could've sworn that he'd just seen Blair stabbed. His screamed still echoed within his mind and Jim shook his head to clear out the dream. He knew that he was breathing way too fast so Jim started utilizing a breathing technique that Blair had taught him. Finally, after ten minutes of slow deep breathing exercises, Jim realized that he was breathing easier and much slower. Jim felt more in control of himself and his senses.
Jim picked up the phone and dialed Captain Banks once again.
"Simon, get on the phone to Lt. Tamaki over at the University."
"What's going on Jim? What did you see this time?"
"Either Blair or someone else has been stabbed over at Rainier. I don't know how I know but I do. Can you just let them know?"
"I'll call now Jim but I need a location."
"Yeah, near Hargrove Hall. Hurry Simon."
"I'm on it. I'll call you when I know anything. Bye."
"I'll be waiting. Thanks Simon."
Simon switched lines and called Rainier University Security. After telling Suzanne Tamaki that he had received an anonymous tip about an assault, he asked to be notified about the outcome of the investigation. Thirty minutes later, Simon was on the phone again to Jim.
"Jim, its Simon. Blair's fine. Suzanne talked to him herself."
"Thank God. So what happened Simon?"
"Seems one of the female students was mugged. She was hit over the head and stunned. What the mugger hadn't counted on was that she didn't pass out from being hit. The assailant had a knife and sliced her arm so that she would let go of her bag. Security found her on the ground near Sandburg's window. They caught the perp trying to break into one of the professor's offices two buildings over."
"So the student is all right?"
"Yes, Suzanne finally convinced her to file charges and go to the hospital to be checked out."
"Did she say what Blair was doing?"
"Said that he was working on his dissertation. He's fine Jim, will you just relax. He'll get home when he's had enough of being at school. Why don't you give him a call?"
"I've tried to call him off and on throughout the day and I get no answer. I guess he'll talk to me when he's ready. I just wish it was now. Look Simon, I appreciate everything that you've done today. I'll let you go. I'll see you at the office the day after tomorrow."
"Look Jim, take tomorrow and the next day off. The way today has gone; you really haven't had any downtime. I'll see you in a couple of days. Get some rest but call if you have anymore problems, okay?"
"Sure Simon and thanks. See you later. Bye."
"Bye Jim," Simon said and then hung up. He thought to himself, 'those two are going to kill me yet.'
The key turning in the lock startled Jim from his solitary contemplation. He watched as Blair tossed his keys into the basket next to the door, hung his coat on the rack and made his way into the kitchen. Jim watched this little scene in complete silence. It was after seven, early for Blair to come home from the University, but Jim was glad to see Blair home safe and sound. Finally, Jim couldn't stand the silence any longer.
"Hi Chief, have a good day?"
"Jim, oh man, you startled me," Blair said after he almost jumped out of his skin.
"Sorry Chief, I didn't mean to scare you. Find anything in there to eat?"
"No, not really."
"You want to order some Chinese?"
"Sure but could we, um, talk first?"
"What about Chief?"
"About our misunderstanding earlier this morning. I shouldn't have gotten mad at you. I know that you've been through a great deal lately and are pretty much fried. I thought I'd be helping you with the test but I just wasn't thinking of you and your emotional welfare. I hope that you can forgive me and we can just forget about this morning entirely."
"Chief, I'm sorry too. I shouldn't have yelled at you. I got you and myself upset over a trivial matter that could've been rectified if I had just said yes."
Blair cut him off and continued, "no Jim. I was wrong. I assumed that you would want to work on your day off. I knew what the schedule had been for the last week and I didn't take into consideration that you could be burnt out. This was all my fault. I guess I just needed a 'time-out' to get a different perspective."
"Yeah, you know, like when parents or teachers send little kids into corners or into other rooms. Now-a-days, getting put into a corner is called 'time-out'."
"So now you're thinking of yourself as 'a little kid'?"
"No but I did need to get away and calm down. As I calmed down, I started looking at the whole situation from your angle and realized that I was wrong. I should've just left you alone when you said that you were tired. I'm really sorry to get you so upset man, can you forgive me?"
"I forgive you Chief as long as you can forgive me?"
"Forgive you for what Jim?"
"For being pigheaded and inconsiderate. I know when you want to run these tests that they're for my benefit as a Sentinel. I should've agreed but asked to do them later. Can you forgive me?"
"Why don't we call it even and say we're both forgiven?"
"I like that idea Chief." Jim sighed and then asked, "so, what did you do today Chief?"
"Not much but I had the strangest feeling that the police were following me around all day. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you Jim?"
"I don't know what your talking about Chief but if the police were following you around it had to have been for a very good reason. Why don't you tell me where you went and what you did and then I'll tell you about my day," Jim said with a small smile on his face.
"Well, after I..." Blair began.
End (...for now)