free web hosting | free website | Business Hosting Services | Free Website Submission | shopping cart | php hosting

 

Thank God that today is Saturday. I don't think I could either lecture or do endless paperwork with the way my back is feeling. I'm not feeling sorry for myself, well, maybe a little, but my back is killing me. The backrub that Jim gave me last night did wonders, totally unclenched all my muscles and I felt as pliable as goo by the time he was finished. Today, however, I'm still a little tense... maybe if I could convince myself to move out of my bed.

"Sandburg?" Jim calls through the door but before I can answer he's continuing, good thing I was up man - but he already knew that of course. "I'm running out for breakfast, if you drag yourself out of your dungeon in there you can have some."

I smirk into my pillow, always a smartass. Well, it's now or never. Since Jim seems perky today, which is not something I would use to describe my partner, I'm assuming that he's feeling good. No side effects from that horrible bout with his senses from the other day, which is great, almost remarkable. I figured there would be some sort of... something left, but he looked good yesterday, and he sounds good today.

Groaning as I straighten my back, I know that this is the best time to shower, the water nazi is out and I can linger. I smile as I grab my robe and shuffle to my oasis; a long hot shower is what I need. Jim must have been up for a while - the bathroom looks pristine. I know that is standard operating procedure for Jim, but this seems too clean.

All at once, my nerves are tingling, and I'm full of energy. Maybe there is something wrong with Jim, maybe he is having some sort of delayed reaction. The symptoms could be anything. Headaches, or worse: migraines, muscle aches, spiking senses... I look up into the mirror and I can make out the blurred panic on my face. I can't do anything about it now, he's not here, but I can be ready when he returns.

I adjust the water temperature to my desired warmth and in minutes the bathroom is full of steam. I'm over reacting, I know I am, I have to be. The last two days have been the emotional roller coaster of the year. I feel better about myself, which is weird to hear myself say, but I do. Jim's praise does wonders for my shattered self-image at times. I'm not totally down on myself, I just tend to doubt my effectiveness from time to time. Since Jim is the most important person in my life, outside of Naomi, I tend to fret about his well being and what I'm doing to help ease his way.

The water feels wonderful and I turn around so the spray is hitting my lower back directly. I shiver from the heat as it rolls down my legs, but it feels so good.

I have to admit that I'm slightly off-balance with Jim this time around. He seems to want to talk about things, which is just odd, but I'm happy about it. I think. Perhaps what is more odd is that I'm reluctant to talk about it. I'm all for the spiritual side of our relationship, the dreams, the weird 'vibes' we have concerning each other; but what happened to me while Jim was in agony - well it's freaked me out. I was too concentrated on Jim to realize it at the time, but I was suffering from the same symptoms Jim was, just acutely.

Shaking my head, I laugh as I feel like a dog when my hair flings in one direction then the other. I lather my hair and go through the rest of the shower just thinking. I think all the time, but when something is bothering me I think more. This shared experience that Jim and I had - do I tell Jim? I almost have to, I'd feel like I was betraying him if I didn't reveal what happened to me after he's taken the time to detail all the events for me. I have no doubt that his tale will be detailed - another odd factor.

Shutting the water off, I grab a towel and start to wipe myself dry. I hear the door slam shut and know that Jim's back, and I know he's got bagels. Warm ones. I push myself along a little faster as I try to think of how to broach the subject with Jim. And while I'm at it, why do I know that Jim's got bagels?

Screw it, I'll just do it like everything else with Jim - wing it. Seems to be working so far, at least he says he's happy with me. God that makes me sound like an investment or something, that's he's happy with the way things are turning out. I know that we're more to each other than that, but sometimes it's hard to believe it when the past comes roaring to the forefront or things are horribly wrong.

"Chief? You coming out today?"

I jump a little and realize that I've been standing here, naked, holding a wet towel, long enough for most of the steam to have dissipated. So much for not freaking out. I hang up the towel and shrug on my robe before heading back toward my room. I don't dawdle, I just throw on the most comfortable pair of jeans I have, socks, t-shirt and a flannel, a big one. I'm buttoning the front when it registers that the shirt is too large, but it doesn't sink in till I'm standing next to the kitchen island. It's Jim's shirt. My face blushes before I can stop it and I turn to retreat to my room, to change before he notices, but it's too late.

"Your heart gave you away Sandburg, it's on now, just sit and eat." Even though Jim's back is to me I know he's smiling.

"Stop smiling, you're making me nervous."

"Why?"

"Why? Cause man, you this happy in the morning just isn't right." I say as I sit at the table and grab a blueberry bagel.

"Morning? Chief, it's early afternoon." He says calmly - I however, drop my knife and twist in my chair until I can see a clock. Damn, nearly one.

"Why'd you let me sleep so long man?"

Laughing he sits down next to me, not across, but next to me. "I only got up a couple of hours ago, I thought you should sleep, rest your brain some more."

I snort and decide not to answer that and just concentrate on the light cream cheese I'm spreading around the face of my bagel.

"Are you decorating the damn thing or putting cream cheese on?"

"Just because I don't have to glob it on to enjoy the flavor, doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. And plus, this stuff is bad for you - the key is moderation."

"True, but with the way you use it why bother even keeping track. Live a little Sandburg, glob some on there."

I look up and he is almost laughing outright at me, while I'm sitting here with my forehead pinched and my eyes all squinty. I put the bagel down and lay the back of my hand across his forehead. "Who the hell are you and where'd you put my roommate?"

He bats my hand away and bites into his bagel... which just oozes white stuff. "Seriously Jim, what is with you today?"

"I feel good and I want to talk. Crazy as that sounds, I do. I feel like we need to talk, like there's something to be discovered."

I almost choke the mouthful of food. God he knows already. The decision is out of my hands, I can't hide it. I don't think I want a bigger role in this, I don't know if that's such a good idea. We have a good thing going, adding something more, something unexplainable, well that's just going to skew things.

Having nothing better in response, I just nod.

"You don't want to talk?" Jim asks me, actually it sounds more like an accusation.

I quickly shake my head. "No I do, I do. I'm just trying to reconcile this "eager to talk Jim" with the guy that I had to almost tie down to explain things to me. It's quite a difference you know."

"I thought you'd be happy."

"I am, just a little... surprised." I take another bite of my bagel; these are really good.

"It's just - you seem... distracted?"

I swallow before answering. "Jim, to be honest, I'm not distracted, I'm just thinking. You know where that normally gets me." I smile, trying to lighten the mood, but it doesn't work, he just frowns at me.

"Can we table this until after I've finished my decorated breakfast?" My voice is almost pleading with him; he looks at me, like he's trying to see inside my mind.

"Ok. But no hiding anything, I know you and your obfuscation techniques." He's deadly serious.

"Yeah, ok, fine, promise. Now finish eating." I say. I'm not hungry any more, but I still manage to shovel the food in. Jim wanting to talk, knowing there's something on mine - not a good combination. I suppose it's going to be a long day, good thing I slept late.

 

 

"Sandburg?" I cock my head and catch the rustling noises of cloth shifting, the faster, awake heartbeat and keep going. "I'm running out for breakfast, if you drag yourself out of your dungeon in there you can have some." Grinning at my own wit, I shrug into a coat and head out. Collette's downstairs should still have something good from the second baking of the day and though it's still fairly crowded with people in for a late lunch, I don't begrudge the time I stand waiting.

Sandburg was dragging himself to the bathroom as I headed down the stairs and I think he's still feeling a little stiff. He'll probably be in there a while. I grin again at the memory of him all stretched out last night in front of the fireplace, pounded into a relaxed mass by the time I was done with him. He was moaning and groaning with pleasure and I had to ask him if I should leave him alone with his fantasies. I could have taken a walk or something. Heh heh. He muttered something about being too relaxed to get up, chase me down and deliver the pummeling I so richly deserved. I snorted, laughed and bopped him gently on the head as I told him 'as if'. I poured him into bed shortly thereafter.

I finally return upstairs with my booty of fresh hot bagels and slam the door deliberately to hurry the water hog currently disguised as my partner along. The water sounds have ceased and the steam is no longer drifting from around the door, but no Sandburg. What? Did he vaporize in there? Shrivel up and wash down the drain? My bagels were cooling off here. "Chief? You coming out today?"

That scares him out of there and he scampers to his room to get dressed. He comes rushing back out with the same scamper, damp curls brushing and damping the shoulders of the shirt he was buttoning. My shirt. HEY! The sneak. I'd wondered where that went to. I turn back to the fridge to hide my smirk. Now he's embarrassed. "Your heart gave you away Sandburg, it's on now, just sit and eat."

"Stop smiling, you're making me nervous."

"Why?" I really wanted to know. Sometimes his reasoning is so entertaining.

"Why? Cause man, you this happy in the morning just isn't right." He sits down and snags a blueberry bagel.

"Morning? Chief, it's early afternoon." He jumps, dropping his knife and ogles the clock.

"Why'd you let me sleep so long man?"

I chuckle and park myself next to him for better access to the food, before he inhales it all. "I only got up a couple of hours ago, I thought you should sleep, rest your brain some more." He just snorts at my admittedly weak comeback and seems to focus on artfully dabbing the spread onto his bagel. "Are you decorating the damn thing or putting cream cheese on?"

"Just because I don't have to glob it on to enjoy the flavor, doesn't mean I don't enjoy it. And plus, this stuff is bad for you - the key is moderation."

Moderation??? I of all people don't need to glob stuff on for flavor. And the putz knows it.... I like it for the texture. "True, but with the way you use it why bother even keeping track. Live a little Sandburg, glob some on there." I grin as he applies another thin but even layer on a section.

He looks up at me, annoyed and still frumpy from sleep, and his eyebrows draw together in a frightening frown. The stare is basilisk-like (yes I remember my mythology from high school) and his hand comes up to my forehead to check my temperature. "Who the hell are you and where'd you put my roommate?"

Ok- that's definitely getting excessive. Jeez- look who can't take a joke today. Batting him clear, I take a bite of my poppyseed and relax slightly in bliss. It's still warm, making the cream cheese ooze on the bottom, and the smooth way it feels in my mouth with the rough bits of bread and smooth balls of the seeds...

"Seriously Jim, what is with you today?"

"I feel good and I want to talk. Crazy as that sounds, I do. I feel like we need to talk, like there's something to be discovered." Blair doesn't look real thrilled with the idea. He jumps and twitches like he's hiding something or restraining the urge to run. He doesn't really look guilty but there's definitely something bothering him and he just nods at me.

"You don't want to talk?" My question comes out suspiciously. Maybe I should be the one checking him for a fever.

And just that quick he's shaking his head in denial. "No I do, I do. I'm just trying to reconcile this "eager to talk Jim" with the guy that I had to almost tie down to explain things to me. It's quite a difference you know."

"I thought you'd be happy." I pout slightly.

"I am, just a little... surprised."

"It's just - you seem... distracted?" He's chewing, now that he's finally finished decorating the thing, but my timing obviously sucks. Just like the waitresses who always come around to ask how everything is when everyone at your table has a mouth full.

"Jim, to be honest, I'm not distracted, I'm just thinking. You know where that normally gets me." Blair smiles, but he still seems off. "Can we table this until after I've finished my decorated breakfast?"

He sounds almost like he's asking for a reprieve. What the hell? I look him over with a frown. He still looks tired and there's something churning in his eyes. I'm going to find out what it is though. "Ok. But no hiding anything, I know you and your obfuscation techniques."

"Yeah, ok, fine, promise. Now finish eating." He stuffs another bite into his mouth with determination.

We polish off another bagel each and coffee in companionable silence and make assorted trips to the bathroom and kitchen for further supplies. I anticipate the need for munchies and drinks in the near future.

I settle onto one end of the big couch and Sandburg curls up facing me on the other end, his stocking feet tucked under him in a lotus position. "So, here's what I remember of Thursday as I remember it. Try to let me get through it, impressions and all first before you go for the clarifying questions, ok?"

Blair nods. He takes a sip of the beer I'd handed him, hey- it's almost 2 pm, and squirms slightly to get more comfortable. His lips part as if he thinking of saying something but he just settles back in silence and nods at me again.

For the next hour I talk. I nursed a beer and a half and told him everything I could remember. I told him about the probably bad lunch, the dust, and the slime in the alley. I told him about the funny tastes and the colored voices in the bullpen. I told him about the cross-connected dials and the rash of spots on my skin. Blair opened his mouth at this point and then shut it again very firmly. I described Simon getting me home and onto the couch and how I felt when Blair arrived. I described in as much detail as I recall how the colored shapes of their voices hurt in the argument I never heard. I described the nausea and how Blair's hands and voice and touch steadied me and made my skin feel better. Again he almost interrupts me, the look on his face giving me a long pause in my narrative. He looks surprised, shocked, scared and almost horrified. Gonna have to figure that one on in a bit. Maybe after he gets to talk. Then I'm up to the bathroom part and how he took care of me. His cheeks flush at that and I go one about how good it felt to have him rubbing out my stomach cramps, how solid he felt to curl up around when everything else was heaving.

"And then you held me steady while I took stock. Figured out how my senses were doing and steered me to bed. I gotta tell you Chief, whatever that lotion was - that was perfect. I felt so great, cool and soothing. And afterwards I was really exhausted and I wanted to curl up on you again. You lay down without a fuss. I put my head down and set my dials to baseline - to you and let myself finally relax." I drained my remaining beer and set the second bottle down next to the first. Grabbing a handful of peanuts and pushing another beer towards my partner, I settled in for a wait.

Blair's eyes were fixed on me, slightly magnified by his glasses, which he'd put on earlier in an unconscious habit as he concentrated and listened. I tried to conceal a smile though I felt the corners of my lips twitch. Only Sandburg would put on glasses to listen better. And I could practically see the wheels turning from here, see the smoke. Nah - that's not fair. Blair's mind usually works like a well-oiled machine. I do have to wonder if I've thrown a wrench in or sugared the gas tank or something.

The first sound he makes is a cross between a moan and a groan and I frown. That can't be good. Seeing my eyebrows come down he holds up a hand and takes a deep breath. "Ok Jim. Points of clarification first...."

 

 

Wow. Hard to imagine that Jim could talk so long - and be so thorough, maybe that was from filling out all those police reports, no matter how short and terse they were, they were always filled with information. This is a conversation that I wasn't sure I wanted to have with him. Ironic isn't it? Here I am, the person that always wants to discuss things to death, running from it. Bastard caught me though. His retelling of how his senses freaked on him has me heart beating faster. I'm sure Jim is ignoring it, but to see colors, that has to unbalance you. I'm not sure where to start, so I approach it like any thing that I would want to get to the bottom of; hey it's what anthropology's about. Learning of the past. In this case the past is only two days prior, but still, the idea is there.

"Ok Jim. Points of clarification first..."

"Yes?" He asks, too eager for my liking.

"First, man, I told you to stay out of those places for lunch! You know better than to try anything you aren't sure of. And second, since when don't you wash your hands after something like slime touches you. Did you just forget all that stuff we normally do?" I'm half kidding and half serious and by the way Jim is looking at me I don't think he expected me to reprimand him like a child. But he is one. I'm not there and he forgets everything, it was like he wanted to be deviant to prove something. Jerk.

I take pity on Jim and smile at him before slapping his nearest leg. "Now that I'm sure you've learned your lesson, don't do something like that again. Not only is it harmful to you, I can't figure out what triggered such a massive overload. And it couldn't have been just a normal overload, noooo, you had to start combining senses. And while I find that fascinating, I can't prevent it from another appearance cause you get a little careless." I trail off, as my voice gets husky.

Jim stares at me. I've gone from joking to upset to pissed.

"Sandburg, I already said..."

"I know what you said man, and I get it, really I do, but you just don't know what it was like to watch you suffer. Really. So I'm a little upset that I can't figure out what you came into contact with. Just frustrated with not having the knowledge I need to help you." I stand up and walk over to the balcony doors. It's a decent day, the sun is playing hide and seek with some clouds, but it occasionally wins the battle. I know Jim is still sitting on the couch, I shouldn't have said that. I sigh and my shoulders deflate a little.

"I'm sorry Jim. Let's move onto something else. The tastes and sights of colors, you said it was Simon's coffee first. It tasted funny to you, I think you said blue right?"

"Yeah."

"How did you know it was blue?"

He blinks at me and I can tell he's thinking. "I don't know, it just did. Maybe it was a flash of color..."

"Like you took a sip, then a color flitted across your mind? Like memories when they're triggered by something."

"Something like that."

"What about seeing them? Each person had their own color right? Did the color change when the tone of voice changed? Vary in shades?"

Jim huffed out a breath, then ran his hand over his head. "To be honest, I can't remember. Everyone had their own color. I didn't notice any shifting shades, just texture."

"The texture. That was Simon and I?"

"Yeah. His was still brown but had spikes on it, as he talked it was as though the words were pricking my skin. It hurt."

"And mine?" I ask as I move back over and sit on the couch next to him.

"Yours was harder, the turquoise was still there, but it felt solid, round... just hard. It didn't hurt really, just made me know you were there."

"And when I stopped arguing with Simon, it soothed you more than before?"

"Yes."

Ooh, short answers, wonderful. "Anything else?"

"Yeah, why do you sound so clinical, no, detached from all this? You seem upset somehow about all the facts."

I press my back into the side of the couch, trying to back away from his look, which is of course futile. "I'm not upset, it's just, there are so many things that happened, and I can't... can't prevent anything. I know that it seems silly for me to worry about something that has such a small probability of happening again, but I do. I can't screw this up. It's not like it's a paper, or a project, it's your life man. Something I don't want to gamble with; dropping the ball is not an option here."

"So you're trying to..."

"Just trying to make sure I don't miss anything, any clue that might point me in the right direction."

"For what? Sandburg, we already know we can't find the substance that did this, so stop trying."

I want to roll my eyes at him, he just doesn't get it. I lose track of one detail and everything could go in the can. I've lived through the consequences that were a direct result of my lackadaisical attitude before. Jim trusts me, that's great, but now I have to trust that I won't make stupid mistakes again, like leaving the spoiled milk on the counter during a blind taste test. That was brilliant. And with this new stuff, me feeling things... I shake my head and look Jim in the eyes.

"I can't say I'll stop looking, but I won't bother you about it anymore."

He looks a little taken aback from my acceptance, but he just remains quiet. So it's my turn to start. "Um, so no one's voice hurt you until it had harsh emotions behind it, right?"

"Yeah."

"Ok, well that's good. At least you weren't being pelted by pink or rust colored objects as you passed through the bullpen." I smile a little to put him more at ease, but it seems to make him tenser. I must not be succeeding.

"Chief, do you want to tell me what's wrong?"

No, not really Jim. "There isn't anything wrong, more like a new development. One in which I would probably love if it weren't effecting me so directly. A link or connection like this is astounding, just fascinating. The idea behind it, that two people can be so linked. So in tune with each other... Must have been useful back in the primitive days, no way of contacting each other, not like we have today with telephones, or email. It must have been a great advantage to know if the other person were in danger...

"Sandburg!" Jim's shout brings me out of my own zone. "Breathe, what has you so worked up?"

I take a deep breath. How will Jim react to being so closely linked with me? Will he hate it, accept it, deny it - will he trust me with this?

"Jim. I, well, I knew there was something wrong before Simon called me."

"What? Chief, make some sense here."

"I will if you give me a minute. The whole thing has me a little off-balance. But that morning I was fidgety - more than normal man! I just was agitated so I did as much work as I could, tried to pass the time until I was able to leave. Then Simon called and I knew, just knew there was something wrong."

"Before?"

"Yes. Then I rushed over here. I was nauseous in the car but figured it was the stress of not knowing if you were ok, I just brushed it aside, that and the pounding in my head. So I rushed up the steps and you were curled on the sofa. Then everything happened so fast that I wasn't able to dissect it at the time. But, my head hurt, I was sick to my stomach and I had a rash on my arm..."

I trail off, willing Jim to come to the conclusion on his own. Several minutes pass of us just sitting here on the couch, in silence. I begin to think that Jim is going to deny it, to brush everything under the carpet and pretend it's not there till it rears it's ugly head sometime in the future, because believe me it will.

"What do you mean you felt those things?" Jim asks tentatively.

"Jim, it's simple, I was feeling your symptoms. Most of which I didn't even know were things you were suffering from until I was standing in front of you, but I had already been experiencing them since the phone call. I just was so focused on the trip here that I wasn't paying attention." I groan as I realize the implications of my distraction. I bounce off the couch and start to pace, as I pass the coffee table I throw my glasses onto them. "Jim! This development is supposed to be used for me to help you. If I'm not with you and I'm feeling your ailment, then I have time to create a course of action - a treatment!! And what did I do? Just one thought, one purpose, get home. How the hell did that help? It didn't that's how."

"Sandburg..."

"No man, no matter what you say isn't going to change the fact that I had something like gold in my hands to help you and I blew it. I could've already been thinking on how to treat the rash, I could've taken you right into the bathroom before you got sick..."

"Chief..."

"I wouldn't have wasted time arguing with Simon, maybe that would've proven to him that you weren't just at thing, but important to me. There are so many outcomes that would have been different. Less pain and agony for you..."

My pacing is stopped by hands on my shoulders - I hadn't realized that Jim had moved and was surprised to see him.

"Blair. How many times do I have to tell you that you did good until you believe it? Chief, I don't know what the hell happened to make you think you're a screw up in times of pressure, but time after time you have showed your resourcefulness and quick thinking. I thought I got through to you yesterday."

"I hear you Jim, really I do, but do you realize the implications of this new," I wave my hand between our two chests, "connection? I mean, I could guide you without being there. Course it's not the same thing, but I'd have to know what to do, how to proceed, I'm not sure if this is such a good thing."

Jim just looks at me for a moment before a light flashes in his eyes. "This is what you've been jumpy about all day." He frowns a little and then pushes me toward the couch again. Sandburg, this new gift is unpredictable - new - and you're not supposed to know everything. It could be a fluke..."

"See! I knew you were going to say that!! It's not a fluke man!! Burton never fully explained the bond between Sentinel and Guide, the documentation is sketchy, but this is huge!"

"I know, and maybe this is part of the whole sentinel thing, but you can't beat yourself up about it cause you didn't handle yourself correctly. Exactly what were these symptoms like?"

I shrug and ignore the pinched eyes across from me. "They probably weren't very acute compared to yours. My head hurt and I was nauseous and I was scratching my arms. I don't remember there being a rash, but with my unconscious scratching my skin was red. By the time I maneuvered you into the bathroom my arms weren't itching and I felt better. Everything was gone by the time we went to bed."

I flop backward until my back is against the couch. I feel wasted, as though finally saying the words exhausted me. Jim still hasn't said how he feels about this development, course I haven't really shut up long enough. Now we're back to silence, but it's comfortable as Jim tries to figure things out; I'll practice restraint and not speak, let him get things organized.

 

 

I suppose I deserved that. I resist the urge to shift in my seat and see if my ass is still attached. I should and do know better. Though in my own defense, I did wash my hands when I got back to the station. I just think it might have been too late at that point. I do think I fully deserve the chastising for eating that lunch though. His slap to my leg jars me out of my almost pout.

"Now that I'm sure you've learned your lesson, don't do something like that again. Not only is it harmful to you, I can't figure out what triggered such a massive overload. And it couldn't have been just a normal overload, noooo, you had to start combining senses. And while I find that fascinating, I can't prevent it from another appearance cause you get a little careless."

I stare at him. He's mad again and with every right. He gently berates me further for carelessness before turning it into a statement of how hard it was to watch me suffer. I can go along with that. How many knocks to the head will he be able to take before he ends up dimming that amazing light bulb? His voice jerks me back.

"I'm sorry Jim. Let's move onto something else. The tastes and sights of colors, you said it was Simon's coffee first. It tasted funny to you, I think you said blue right?"

"Yeah."

"How did you know it was blue?"

Hmmmmm How did I know? Haven't you ever had a vegetable that just tasted green? Or had that violet flavored chewing gum? Sometimes you can just taste the colors.,.though this isn't exactly the same thing. I shrug, "I don't know, it just did. Maybe it was a flash of color..."

"Like you took a sip, then a color flitted across your mind? Like memories when they're triggered by something."

"Something like that." Sort of. He's skirting it; I'm skirting it. There aren't words to describe it. If it happened everyday - we'd have words for it but...

We go off about the color of the voices for a few moments. This concept seems to fascinate him. Varying shades per person? Too bad I can't see that on purpose - it would be another way of determining if someone's lying to me. Then logically we veer off into the texture discussion.

"The texture. That was Simon and I?"

"Yeah. His was still brown but had spikes on it, as he talked it was as though the words were pricking my skin. It hurt." I remember that vividly. It felt like each word was a burr digging into the rash on my skin.

"And mine?" Blair finally joins me on the couch again; his interest peaked and diverted.

"Yours was harder, the turquoise was still there, but it felt solid, round... just hard. It didn't hurt really, just made me know you were there."

"And when I stopped arguing with Simon, it soothed you more than before?" His head tilts to the side and he's got that abstract look on his face that usually means his mind is running strictly on academia.

"Yes." Have I lost the friend to the researcher?

"Anything else?"

Pressing my luck, I try to call him on it. "Yeah, why do you sound so clinical, no, detached from all this? You seem upset somehow about all the facts."

He retreats back, almost into the sofa itself. "I'm not upset, it's just, there are so many things that happened, and I can't... can't prevent anything. I know that it seems silly for me to worry about something that has such a small probability of happening again, but I do. I can't screw this up. It's not like it's a paper, or a project, it's your life man. Something I don't want to gamble with; dropping the ball is not an option here."

"So you're trying to..." I'm still probing here. The eyes staring at me from the end of the couch are filling again with that self-doubt.

"Just trying to make sure I don't miss anything, any clue that might point me in the right direction."

"For what? Sandburg, we already know we can't find the substance that did this, so stop trying." There are just too many factors and it's been too long. I just wanted to tell him so if this ever happens again he'll know what to do to help me because I'm sure that if I've gotten to that point there's not much else I can do other than clean up, throw up and ride it out.

He shakes his head at me, curls floating over his shoulders and stares solemnly at me. "I can't say I'll stop looking, but I won't bother you about it anymore."

But, but... I just meant we'll never identify what was in lunch or the slime or the dusts. Does that mean he's giving up? He said he wasn't but... And Sandburg? Not bothering me about Sentinel stuff maybe I should check him for odd reactions if he's...

"Um, so no one's voice hurt you until it had harsh emotions behind it, right?"

"Yeah."

"Ok, well that's good. At least you weren't being pelted by pink or rust colored objects as you passed through the bullpen." His smile is strained and he's hiding something from me. Something deeper than trying to figure out what did me in the other day. He's twitching just slightly, like he doesn't know what to do with himself - or needs to tell me something.

"Chief, do you want to tell me what's wrong?"

He sits, staring off into space before the floodgates open. "There isn't anything wrong, more like a new development. One in which I would probably love if it weren't effecting me so directly. A link or connection like this is astounding, just fascinating. The idea behind it, that two people can be so linked. So in tune with each other... Must have been useful back in the primitive days, no way of contacting each other, not like we have today with telephones, or email. It must have been a great advantage to know if the other person were in danger..."

"Sandburg! Breathe, what has you so worked up?" He jumps as I break into his thoughts and words. He was actually flushing, though whether that was from anxiety or lack of oxygen I can't tell. He breathes though, like I told him to. One deep one and then another, almost like a delaying tactic. One more and he visibly gets himself ready.

"Jim. I, well, I knew there was something wrong before Simon called me."

Huh? If he doesn't explain this...

"I will if you give me a minute. The whole thing has me a little off-balance. But that morning I was fidgety - more than normal man! I just was agitated so I did as much work as I could, tried to pass the time until I was able to leave. Then Simon called and I knew, just knew there was something wrong."

"Before?" Before Simon called... just to clarify things

"Yes. Then I rushed over here. I was nauseous in the car but figured it was the stress of not knowing if you were ok, I just brushed it aside, that and the pounding in my head. So I rushed up the steps and you were curled on the sofa. Then everything happened so fast that I wasn't able to dissect it at the time. But, my head hurt, I was sick to my stomach and I had a rash on my arm..."

Ok so. Partner's intuition. He knew something was wrong. I've seen that - hell, I've felt it myself. That's not necessarily something to freak over. Nausea - well that could certainly be accounted for by stress and worry, that along with the headache. It's the rash that I have to admit does me in. It's not like he was exposed to anything weird that day. All the stuff in his office has been there for months. He showered as usual, used our regular detergent to wash the clothes. Unless he ate something he's not admitting to or got stung... He was nauseous, with a headache and a rash. That sounds excruciatingly familiar, scaled down to a person with normal senses.

Is he serious? Can he really have felt my symptoms or a part of them? That can't be. There's no logical explanation for it! Or course there's no explanation for my favorite blue dreams and an obnoxious black jaguar I see occasionally too. SO... this is a sentinel thing between him and I? Is it going to get bigger? More? Will it turn to telepathy? Will we be able to check in on each other during the day? Cause there are definitely times on my dates and Sandburg's dates where that would NOT be a good thing.

He's looking at me resignedly. I can see he thinks I'm going to brush this off and believe me I'm tempted. Too weird, not enough solid evidence for my police tendencies. And yet... "What do you mean you felt those things?"

"Jim, it's simple, I was feeling your symptoms. Most of which I didn't even know were things you were suffering from until I was standing in front of you, but I had already been experiencing them since the phone call. I just was so focused on the trip here that I wasn't paying attention."

I open my mouth to interject but he's up off the couch and into his rant again.

"Jim! This development is supposed to be used for me to help you. If I'm not with you and I'm feeling your ailment, then I have time to create a course of action - a treatment!! And what did I do? Just one thought, one purpose, get home. How the hell did that help? It didn't that's how."

"Sandburg..." He's pacing the room now, glasses tossed onto the coffee table

"No man, no matter what you say isn't going to change the fact that I had something like gold in my hands to help you and I blew it. I could've already been thinking on how to treat the rash, I could've taken you right into the bathroom before you got sick..."

"Chief..." I need to interrupt him, to get a word in edgewise.

"I wouldn't have wasted time arguing with Simon, maybe that would've proven to him that you weren't just at thing, but important to me. There are so many outcomes that would have been different. Less pain and agony for you..."

He's not hearing me, so I get up and put myself in his path, catching his shoulders before he runs me over. His head jerks up and his blue eyes focus on me with surprise. "Blair. How many times do I have to tell you that you did good until you believe it? Chief I don't know what the hell happened to make you think you're a screw up in times of pressure, but time after time you have showed your resourcefulness and quick thinking. I thought I got through to you yesterday."

"I hear you Jim, really I do, but do you realize the implications of this new connection? I mean, I could guide you without being there. Course it's not the same thing, but I'd have to know what to do, how to proceed, I'm not sure if this is such a good thing." He's got a wild look on his face - almost like he wants to bolt and that clinches it for me.

"This is what you've been jumpy about all day." I steer him toward the couch , I can feel the tension thrumming in him again and he just needs to sit and be still. "Sandburg, this new gift is unpredictable - new - and you're not supposed to know everything. It could be a fluke..." He interrupts my stammering thoughts before I can really get rolling.

"See! I knew you were going to say that!! It's not a fluke man!! Burton never fully explained the bond between Sentinel and Guide, the documentation is sketchy, but this is huge!"

I frown at him, seating myself again. "I know, and maybe this is part of the whole sentinel thing, but you can't beat yourself up about it cause you didn't handle yourself correctly. Exactly what were these symptoms like?"

He shrugs and gives in, "They probably weren't very acute compared to yours. My head hurt and I was nauseous and I was scratching my arms. I don't remember there being a rash, but with my unconscious scratching my skin was red. By the time I maneuvered you into the bathroom my arms weren't itching and I felt better. Everything was gone by the time we went to bed."

Blair flops back as if the words were the only things that had been holding him upright. So he's laying there all relaxed waiting on me to make any final pronouncement. I snort to myself. Like anything I have to say is going to stop it from happening if that's really what's going on here.

Ok. He's what? Empathic? Digging into the shaman side of things? I don't recall Incacha feeling like this for me - but then I was never seriously hurt or out of it that I can recall. And I also get the vague feeling that Incacha knew he wasn't to be my permanent guide, that the white men who sent me would eventually come to take me back.

I wonder what about this particular episode triggered this? Is this the first time since Incacha died and passed his gifts/blessing on that I've been hurt? Or is this just the first time my senses have acted up? Briefly pondering that, I come to the conclusion that it was probably a first on both counts.

So, he thinks he's feeling my symptoms and damned if it doesn't sound like it. Am I therefore going to be feeling his symptoms at some point? Which could be handy for when the next nutcase comes to town but damn near incapacitating if we both come down with the flu at the same time. So are there limits? Certain instances? Stress? Maybe it won't work for colds. Shit. I reach over and grab my empty beer bottles. I need another drink. Standing, I lean over and snag Sandburg's empties as well. He looks up at me, eyes huge and questioning.

"Relax Chief. I'm not going anywhere but to the kitchen." He nods looking relieved, his eyes following my movements. Did he really think I'd need to go out to think about this? That I'd leave without giving him some kind of answer? I muse on this further proof of the kid's insecurities as I drop the bottles in the recycling bin.

Opening the fridge for two new ones an idea pops to mind. Sandburg would hate it. I know that deep down in my bones. He'd protest and give me three million reasons why I shouldn't and then try to come up with something better. He wouldn't succeed. There's only one real way to test this without waiting for life to intervene. I'm going to get my ass chewed again but I see no better solution.

I place the bottles on the counter and take a quick glance over at Sandburg. He's gone back to his own thoughts, staring abstractly out the balcony glass. A quick glance around the kitchen shows me nothing at an optimum level so bending at the knees again as if to retrieve something from the recycle bin I set myself up. With a silent deep breath and a reminder not to do this too hard, I reasonably firmly knock my right elbow back against the cabinet. A sharp jag of pain shoots up my arm from the nerve cluster I just banged and I quickly reach over to massage it away, listening intently for some sign of something from the occupant of the sofa.

A sharp inhalation and a quick rise in his pulse rate are coupled with a twitch and a grab/rub to his right elbow. His head jerks around as the soft thud of the impact reregisters on him and he stares at me. Hoping to placate the beast before it gets rolling, I quickly pop the caps off the bottles and swiftly move to place one in his hand. "Here you go Chief, fresh and cold." I wince internally at the lameness of that statement and prepare myself, settling vaguely defensively into my seat.

He's still staring at me, the non-expression starting to resolve itself into annoyance that might be edging into anger. "What just happened?" The question is clinical and precise, delivered in that certain don't-screw-with-me tone that he's developed recently.

"I banged my elbow on the cabinet." It was a precise answer, just maybe not as developed as he'd like. You've got to learn something about answering what was asked from all those lawyers.

"You banged your elbow on the cabinet." The statement was dry and tinged faintly with disbelief. Sandburg glances at the kitchen and then at me. I know he's picturing my elbow height in relation to the cabinets. Here it comes.

His eyebrows draw together in a fierce frown and his mouth settles into a thin line. "I know you, Ellison. You're not that clumsy in your own home. Your elbows are nowhere near the right level for either set of cabinets. You did that deliberately. Didn't you?"

"I..."

"Didn't you??" He's leaning in towards me now, his fingers hard around the bottle he's forgotten in his hand. His voice angry and hard.

I blink in astonishment at him, "Y...yes."

"Explain."

Damn. I blink again and draw a breath, taking a chug of my beer before putting it down.

"The whole thing. Don't leave anything out and obfuscate."

Yessir. "Ok Chief, it's like this. I figure you've got this new ability and we needed to find out if it was a fluke or a new thing. How long can we wait to do that? What if something big happens and one of us is incapacitated? So I figured a small controlled test. Something non-injurious, non-life-threatening. Something that would be noticeable and go away quickly. So I banged my elbow to see if you'd feel it. You did. I saw you start and grab for exactly the same place. We needed to see if it would repeat and I couldn't think of anything thing else to do."

Sandburg draws a breath to go in at it again and I hold up a hand to stop him.

"What if this goes both ways? What if I can feel if something happens to you? I needed to know it wasn't only sense related but worked on any hurt. What if this gets bigger - deeper? Am I going to find myself extremely... frisky one night while I'm alone and you're out on a date? We have to notice these things. What if we're both down with colds - are we stuck in a repeating loop? We won't know until these things happen but we can be aware of the possibilities. There's no way to test these things. We just have to wait until they happen. But I was able to test today to make sure that it wasn't a one time thing. And I'm sure it wasn't the way you would have done it, but it got the job done."

He's sitting back again, taking a swig of his beer before putting the bottle down. Listening and nodding at my points, the thoughts are churning across his face.

"So all I can think of to do is to be aware and let it happen. I rather that then a series of really uncomfortable tests for the both of us." I lean in and fix his gaze, "You get me there?"

He nods. "Yup, no uncomfortable tests for either of us. Let things ride until it comes up again. Be awake and aware." He pauses, then goes on in a quiet tone, "Are you sure Jim? What if this does get bigger? What if you do find yourself... frisky? Or hurting or terrified?" He blushes a little at the last question.

I lean over to pat his knee. "I'll deal with it when it comes up." I pause and frown, trying hard to suppress the grin I feel tugging at me, "I mean when it happens."

"Aw geez, man. That was bad. Are you trying to get a rise out of me?" Sandburg's filling with his old mischief and I groan at the bad pun.

"Just don't shoot any more of those puns at me and we'll be alright."

He laughs aloud at that and through the chortles manages to stammer, "But I'm just getting to the cream of the crop here."

Damn! That was AWFUL. Retaliation of a more physical sort is called for here and with a perfect lunge, I land both hands under his loose over shirt right against sensitive ribs. His squirming just makes my tickling all that more effective until finally his laughs wriggles himself right off the cushions onto the floor, leaving me laughing, alone on the couch.

 

 

I think I showed a lot of restraint - I was quiet for most of what he talked about. It helped that I was very interested. My nerves got to me as Jim sat in silence for a few minutes; he was thinking, something that needed to be done after I said I was feeling his pain, in every literal sense of the word. In my reluctance to share this with him, I never really thought about what it meant to me. I don't have a problem with it, now that I know it's there, it can only help Jim.

But where did it come from? Empaths are normally born that way... right? I've never known one, but people with heightened senses are born that way, most don't repress their abilities like Jim. Maybe I repressed mine? That doesn't seem right, not with Naomi always there getting me to meditate and accept everything that I am.

Maybe it had to do with Incacha and his dying words. I shake my head slightly, it would have made itself known before this. I guess it doesn't matter where it came from just that it's here. I'll have to go to the library tomorrow, no tomorrow's Sunday, so maybe on Monday in between my student meetings. There are bound to be books on empathic people, the degree to which they are affected, if it is connected to one person, to those close to them...

My head snaps up as Jim rises from the couch. He's leaving? I was only giving him a few minutes to think, I didn't realize he'd have to leave.

"Relax Chief. I'm not going anywhere but to the kitchen." Oh the kitchen, well don't I feel like an ass. Jim's been handling this whole episode so differently than what I've been bracing myself for, I should have more faith in him now.

I hear the refrigerator open and beer bottle clink together. Beer and thinking - kind of acts against each other there doesn't it? A man has his crutches, if beer makes Jim think better, then so be it. Me, it makes me a bit loose lipped and even more energetic; at least for a while. I drop my gaze to my fingers that have been playing with the edge of my shirt. Just as I'm thinking about what could be taking Jim so long, a sharp pain, followed by a cutting tingle shoots up my arm. I can't help the deep breath. I grab my arm and start to rub at it and wonder what the hell could have caused that. It was as though I banged it, like I hit my crazy bone but I didn't move and even if I'd hit the back of the couch, they're cushions, not a hard surface.

I heard a thump. I twist slightly as I look into the kitchen and watch as Jim opens the beer bottles; he comes into the living room and hands me mine and informs me they are nice and cold. No shit they just came from the fridge.

Staring at him I ask, "What just happened?"

"I banged my elbow on the cabinet." Jim answers precisely.

"You banged your elbow on the cabinet." I feel the need to repeat his answer, as I'm sure there is more to it than that. I look toward the kitchen again already knowing there is no way Jim could have accidentally banged his elbow, he's too tall. He did it on purpose. Caused himself pain on purpose and for what? To test this new thing? 'Cause I know that's his reasoning...

"I know you, Ellison. You're not that clumsy in your own home. Your elbows are nowhere near the right level for either set of cabinets. You did that deliberately. Didn't you?"

"I..."

"Didn't you??" I lean toward him, invading his personal space. I don't want him to think that I'm ok with this, and I don't want him to feed me another line. I'm so angry that I don't even know where to begin. I know it seems like such a small thing, banging his elbow, but what else is he willing to try?

After giving him the no nonsense glare he admits to doing it on purpose then I ask him to explain. And as he chugs some of his beer, I make sure to let him know I'm no mood to be lied to. "The whole thing. Don't leave anything out and obfuscate."

He takes a breath and...and he just starts talking. His reasoning is valid and I can see the need for a test, but it would have been nice to be clued in on it first. To make sure nothing went wrong, course we are talking about banging an elbow, so maybe I overreacted just a little. I'm about to give my thoughts but he cuts me off and rambles again. This is so unlike Jim I want to laugh but I can't find anything funny without telling him it's because he's talking so much and I'm afraid that would shut him down. And I can't have that.

The picture Jim paints is a scary one. Both of us sick, repeating loops. I shudder slightly as I think about it; that would be disastrous. Course the whole frisky thought is funny, and boy could I have fun with that one night, but that just limits my privacy even more. Which is something I don't have much of now.

Finally he seems to come to an end.

"So all I can think of to do is to be aware and let it happen. I rather that then a series of really uncomfortable tests for the both of us." I lean in and fix his gaze, "You get me there?"

I nod and my lips quirk into a small smile; sure he can spring tests on me but not the other way around. As the severity of our circumstances hits me again, I ask him quietly, "Are you sure Jim? What if this does get bigger? What if you do find yourself... frisky? Or hurting or terrified?" I wish I could say that I didn't blush but I did. It's not a secret that I have a hard time in certain situations and the worst thing that could happen is that I start to broadcast my feelings to Jim while he's trying to concentrate. He just leans over, pats my knee and tells me we'll deal with it when it comes up. Ok. I smirk and throw a pun right back at him. It lessens the tension that's been in the air all night and gets us back to feeling more like ourselves. Me feeling his... pain and what not will be an interesting adventure.

I laugh again as Jim asks me not to verbalize any more puns, but I just can't help myself. "But I'm just getting to the cream of the crop here."

Before I can blink, Jim lunges across the space between us and attacks me in the ribs. Of course he would always know where the most ticklish part of me is and I squirm to get away. I just laugh harder, gasping for breath as he doesn't let up until I wiggle myself right off of the couch to the floor.

Jim's half laying on the couch chuckling and I'm flat on my back, sucking air into my lungs as my stomach quivers from the laughing I have been doing. Not a normal Saturday for us, but we seem to take this new aspect of our bond and continue on like we normally do. Slightly off-balance, just the way it's supposed to be.

~End~