Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama

Originally appeared in Sentry Post 2 from GraphicsOne Fanzines.

A Gentle Reminder from the Past
by Becky
March 1998

Major Crimes was nearly empty on that late Thursday night. Only a few pools of light remained. One in an office labeled 'Captain Simon Banks' and one around a desk near the windows that overlooked the rest of the bullpen. At that desk sat Detective Jim Ellison, wearily staring at a computer screen, occasionally typing in a word or two and sometimes writing something down on a paper in front of him. He glanced up once, as if looking for someone, focusing one direction, then smiled slightly to himself and shook his head. Still asleep.

Rubbing his forehead, he looked back at the screen, hitting a few more keys, quickly scanning the text that came up, making a few notes, then closed the manila folder and set it aside. He leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms over his head. It'd been a very long week, filled with interviews, running down leads, arguing with a few feds, and chasing down suspects several times, both on foot and in the truck. Only a few hours ago, they had finally wrapped everything up and settled down to process the paperwork.

All Jim wanted to do was go home and sleep for eight hours straight. Maybe longer if he could.

He sighed and looked down at the last folder on the side of his desk -- where Blair had left it when he'd gone to get more coffee for them both. It was the last bit of paperwork for the case and then he could file it and forget about it. He dragged it over and flipped it open, then started filling in the blanks left by his partner.

A peel of thunder crashed outside and he winced away from it, lifting one hand to rub at his ear. He dialed down his senses, again, and went back to work. He'd discovered this week that when he was really, really exhausted, he had a harder time keeping his senses at a reasonable level. Sometimes they'd turn up and he'd notice everything. Sometimes they'd all but turn off and he'd have to work at getting them functioning again. Blair had noticed, of course, and asked him about it. He'd been grouchy that day and had pushed Blair's concern away with a snarl, not wanting to talk about it. Blair hadn't asked about it again, but Jim had noticed him watching more carefully than normal.

You need to apologize to the man, Ellison. He's only trying to help you. Hopefully he'd be able to catch up on sleep this weekend and his senses would go back to normal. Normal. He had to chuckle once. Now Sandburg's got me thinking I'm normal. Simon would get a kick out of that idea.

Vaguely he heard a door opening off to his right somewhere and footsteps approaching him. He glanced up and saw Simon standing in front of his desk, a cup of coffee in each hand.

"Hey, Simon."

Simon handed him a mug. "Here, you look like you could use this."

"Thank you, sir." Jim took it, sipping at the hot liquid gratefully, not even caring at this point that it was flavored. He needed the caffeine if he was going to stay awake long enough to drive home.

After a few moments of companionable silence, Simon looked around. "Where's the kid? I thought he was gonna stay here until you finished."

"Hmm? Oh, he's in the break room, crashed on the couch. I sent him to get coffee maybe a half-hour ago. When he didn't come back, I went looking for him and found him sleeping on the couch. I think he made the mistake of sitting down while waiting for water to heat up. He's pretty much wiped."

Simon chuckled. "Unbelievable. Never thought I'd see the day Sandburg would run out of energy." He paused, then reached over and deliberately shut the folder Jim was working on. "Get your partner and go home. Take tomorrow off."

"You sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. You deserve it, you and Sandburg both. The paperwork can wait until Monday."

Jim smiled, turning off the computer. "Thanks, Simon."

"You're welcome. Now get out of here before I change my mind."

Jim laughed and stood, pulling on his coat. He gathered up Blair's coat and the ever-present backpack. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna let the opportunity get away." He flipped off the light on his desk then strolled out the door, throwing back an "Evening, Simon," hearing Simon's quiet reply vaguely as he headed toward the break room.

Nudging the door open quietly, he looked in and saw Blair laying curled on the couch, hair half-covering his face. Depositing the backpack on the table, Jim continued to Blair's side and squatted down in front of him, gently shaking on his shoulders.

"C'mon, Chief, time to go home and sleep in a real bed."

A half-groan, half-moan was his only reply. Jim laughed softly and pulled Blair up to a sitting position. "Just wake up enough so I don't have to carry you downstairs, all right?"

Blair blinked at him once, but his eyelids were too heavy to stay open. He mumbled plaintively, "Don't want to wake up. Want to sleep."

"I know, but how 'bout we go back to the loft to do that, okay?"

One hand rose to wipe at his eyes, shoving back unruly curls. "Yeah, whatever, man." He started to slide sideways back onto the couch and Jim grabbed him again, hauling back upright.

"No, you're not going back to sleep yet and I'm not leaving you here." He lifted Blair by his shoulders, holding him by one arm as he draped Blair's coat around the mostly-asleep man's shoulders. Blair leaned against Jim, wavering slightly on his feet. Jim slung Blair's backpack over one arm and pulled Blair close to him with the other when the younger man's legs threatened to give out on him.

"Ready, Chief?"

"Ready? For what? Want to go to bed. Tired."

Jim rolled his eyes, directing them both to the door. "That's what we're doing, Sandburg. Going home. Then you can go to bed. All right?"

"Good. Tired."

Stifling a laugh, Jim resisted the urge to pat his guide on the head. Sounds like a little kid who's been up too late. Together they stumbled down the hallway, only Jim's arm around Blair's waist keeping him upright at times. Simon met up with them at the elevator. He raised an eyebrow at the sight of Blair clutching Jim's coat and Jim's arm draped around Blair's waist, but didn't say anything.

Jim just lifted his free hand. "Don't ask."

Simon grinned. "Don't worry. I wasn't going to. But it does look like you have your hands full. Sure you can handle him?"

The elevator doors opened and all three of them stepped inside. Simon stabbed the button for the garage as Jim replied, "Yes, sir, I'm sure. At least I'll know he'll be sleeping and not up for hours writing or studying or making up some horrid tests or some such thing."

"Tests? For his University classes?"

Jim shuddered once, then offset it with a wry grin. "No, for me."


Pushing the door shut with a foot, Jim continued toward Blair's bedroom, glad it was on the lower story and that the elevator was working again. He wasn't awake enough to climb three flights of stairs while carrying his unconscious partner. On another day that might have been okay, but not today. Blair had fallen asleep again in the truck, curled into a ball underneath his jacket as the truck's heater worked overtime to warm up the cab. The heavy rain had made Jim go slower than normal and the extra time had been enough for Blair to warm up and go to sleep. And this time, Jim hadn't been able to wake him up enough to walk. He'd debated for half a second about leaving him in the truck, but shoved the thought aside immediately.

Instead, he'd threaded one of his arms through one of the backpack's straps, then scooped the unconscious man into his arms and headed to the building, taking the elevator with gratitude. Normally, he would take the stairs, liking the exercise and sometimes using it as a way to wear off tension. Today, he was just too tired to even consider the stairs.

Jim lowered Blair to his bed and dropped the backpack to the ground next to the desk. Turning back to Blair, he pulled off the younger man's shoes and coat, then rolled him over to get him underneath the heavy blankets. Blair didn't even really react, just curled underneath the welcome warmth, dropping even further into sleep.

Straightening, Jim left the room, pulling the doors closed. He stood for a second in the main room, looking at the stairs, then the couch, considering just sleeping down there. Then remembering the backache he'd had last time he did that, he trudged upstairs, only taking time to yank off his own shoes and jacket before falling face down into his pillow, pulling the far half of the comforter over himself.

Two seconds later, he was asleep.


Muzzily, Jim blinked into awareness, feeling the warmth of sunlight on his face. He looked up at the small windows at the side of his room, then over to his bedside table. The glowing red numbers on the clock stared back at him. For several long moments, he couldn't get his brain to match the numbers with a meaning, but then slowly things began to make sense again.

10:42 a.m.

Late, even for Blair. Thinking of his partner, he switched to listening downstairs. The even breathing and heartbeat of his partner greeted him. Still down for the count. Good, he needs it.

He stretched, then sat up, rubbing sleep from his eyes and making a face at realizing he'd slept in his jeans. Feeling much better than last night, he trotted down the stairs. He started the coffeemaker going so there would be some fresh coffee in the carafe after he took a shower, then poked his head in Blair's room. The only thing he could see was the top of Blair's head where curls peeked out from the covers.

Sighing he realized his tactile sense had turned itself down again. He found the midpoint on the dial again and realized it was cold in the loft, even for him. He turned on the heat, then headed for the bathroom and a shower.

A while later, feeling more human and awake after a shower and fresh clothes, Jim sat down on the couch with a mug of hot coffee to read the morning paper. He even propped his feet up on the coffee table, disobeying one of his own rules. He smiled to himself. Fortunately, Sandburg's still asleep so he can't call me on it.

After skimming through the front page news, he read the sports pages, then started in on the other sections. Something in the local news section had just caught his eye when he heard a muffled thud from Blair's room. He sat forward, concerned, wondering if Blair had somehow managed to fall out of bed. He heard vague muttering and realized Blair was awake. He called out in a voice pitched just to reach into Blair's room, "Chief? You okay?"

"Jim? Yeah, I'm okay. Just...oh, man."


The doors flew open and Jim watched with amusement as a flash of Blair-colored shape dashed from the bedroom doors to the bathroom with a speed rivaling that of light.

Jim laughed, relaxing and going back to his paper, saying softly to himself, "Too much coffee last night, Sandburg?"

A bit later, Blair stumbled out of the bathroom and collapsed on the couch next to Jim. "Man, what happened? Last I remember I was at the station doing paperwork. How'd we get home?"

"You crashed on the couch in the break room when I sent you for more coffee. I left you there, figured you needed the sleep. Half an hour later, Simon sent us home. I got you awake enough to get you home and into bed." Not exactly the whole truth, but then Blair didn't need to know that his partner had to half-drag through the PD hallways to get him to the elevator and that Simon saw. Or know that he had been carried upstairs. Probably would only embarrass him.

"Oh, man, I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to..."

Jim interrupted, holding up a hand. "No, it's okay. You were tired, exhausted really. You fell asleep. Understandable."

Blair shoved his hair away from his eyes. "Well, give me a few minutes and I'll be ready to get back to the station with you. Did you finish the paperwork?"

Jim chuckled. "Sandburg, do you have any idea what time it is?"

Blair froze. "Time? Um, no, is it late?"

"It's past 11 a.m."

Blair's eyes widened almost comically. "What? And you let me sleep! Simon's gonna be pissed. What are you still doing here? What...?"

"Whoa there, partner. Simon gave us the day off. And I only got up maybe 20 minutes ago. We're okay here."

"A day off? Really?"



"Do you any University stuff you have to do today?"

"Uh, no, I don't think so. No classes today." His eyes became more animated. "No, I don't. Hey, that means we could do some of those tests I put together last month. I've got some really great ideas about how to..."

Jim halted him, "It's a day off, Sandburg. That means no paperwork, no chasing bad guys, and definitely no tests. Got it?"

The excitement in Blair's eyes dimmed, but he managed to keep his smile from faltering too much. "Oh, okay, Jim, whatever you say." He started to get up off the couch. "Actually, maybe there is something I could do at the University. I think I have some papers I could grade..."

Jim reached out and laid a hand on Blair's arm, stopping him. "Wait." Blair paused, head still turned away. Jim grasped Blair's arms, turning him, but the younger man refused to look up at him, taking refuge behind his hair. "Blair, look, it's been a long week. And to tell you the truth, I'm feeling a little used right now. I just want to relax for a little while, just be me, just Jim, not a detective, not a sentinel. As for the tests, well, we'll get to them. I promise. Just not today."

Finally looking up, Blair nodded, smiling again. "Okay. So, what do you want to do today?"

Relaxing inside, Jim smiled, picking up a page of the newspaper. "Well, I figured you might want to do tests and since I didn't want to, I'd make you a peace offering..."

Blair protested. "Jim, you know you don't have to do that."

The detective held up a hand. "Just let me finish, Chief." Blair quieted and Jim continued. "It's partially that and partially an apology for biting your head off the other day when you asked about my senses. I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry."

Blair ducked his head, blushing lightly. "No, Jim, I shouldn't have pushed you..."

Jim shook Blair once gently, "Sandburg, don't apologize for that. It was my fault. You were doing your job, looking after me, as a partner and a friend and as my guide. You were right to ask. And maybe later today, maybe tomorrow, we'll sit down and I'll tell you everything you want to know. Deal?"

The smile widened on Blair's face. "Deal." He gestured at the paper, a twinkle in his eyes. "You mentioned a peace offering."

Jim cuffed Blair's head softly, laughing. "You." He turned the paper around and pointed at a article near the bottom of the page. "Thought maybe you'd be interested in this."

Blair took the paper and squinted at it. "I can't...what does it say? I don't have my glasses."

"What? Oh, sorry, forgot about that. Can you at least read the title? The bold print?"

Blair focused on that instead of the fine newsprint. Rare Showing of South American Artifacts. Today Only. He looked up quickly, heart rate automatically picking up in anticipation. "Today? Only today? Why didn't I know about this earlier?" He ran a hand through his disorderly hair, then made a face. "Yuck! I need a shower. I've got to go to that. Jim..."

Jim laughed. "Go on, Chief, take a shower. Breakfast will be ready when you're done. And then we'll head off to the museum. My treat."

Blair was halfway to the bathroom before all of Jim's words sunk in. He spun. "We? You're going too?"

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Yeah, unless you don't want me to."

With a grin, Blair shook his head. "Oh, no, man, I'd love it if you'd come. Way cool." He hurried on into the bathroom, closing the door as he said, "Thanks, Jim."

Jim smiled at the re-emergence of his friend's enthusiasm for life, replying softly, "You're welcome, Chief." He picked up his coffee mug again, sipping at the cooling liquid once before standing to refill his cup and start on breakfast. Absently, he rubbed his forehead, dialing down the headache he could feel still trying to creep up on him.


An hour later, Jim trailed along behind Blair as he nearly bounced from exhibit to exhibit, reappearing at Jim's side from time to time, pointing out exhibits of particular interest, ones that he thought were 'cool' or 'important'. Jim watched with some amusement and pride when Blair took the time to explain one exhibit to a few school-age children that were gathered in front of it. His partner, ever the teacher, had a way with people of all ages it seemed. But then hadn't he commented once to someone that Blair had a way with children because he wasn't that far removed. Watching him today certainly proves that.

He was amazed at how much enjoyment Blair could get from looking at wicker baskets and clay pots. Nonetheless, it was better than the last week when he and Blair had been so tired some days that it was all they could do to care enough to remember to eat. The case hadn't been particularly grueling in any emotional way, just physically tiring as they tried to keep up with the number of suspects and tips that had them both running all over the city. A long weekend was what they both needed.

I'm sure Sandburg could quote me some obscure text about sentinels needing time off to recoup. Maybe I should ask. He paused, then mentally shook his head. Nah, if I do that, who knows what he'll tell me. Better just to know that we both need a break to relax and that Simon was aware of that, even if I wasn't.

He realized Blair had stopped up ahead and was waiting for him at the entrance to one of the exhibit rooms. His eyes searched out the placard which Blair just happened to be standing next to: Peruvian Room. He lifted an eyebrow, then strolled up to Blair, coming to a halt next to him.

"Waiting for me, Chief?"

Blair shrugged once. "Yeah, I guess. Wanted to see this stuff with you, thought maybe you could give me some insight that the researchers might have missed. And, well, you know..." He looked around, as if checking for eavesdroppers.

Jim clapped a hand on Blair's shoulder and steered him inside. "Yeah, I know. The memories of Peru and the senses thing, right?"

Blair raised hesitant blue eyes, the thought evident in them that maybe he'd stepped over the line. "Uh, yeah, that. I thought maybe... Never mind. You said no tests. And that's the way it is."

Jim squeezed his shoulder once before releasing him as they approached the first exhibit in the semi-darkened room. "It's okay, Blair. If something strikes me, I'll tell you. Okay?"

Blair nodded, flashing him a quick smile before the female tour guide talking in front of the exhibit took his attention. "Yeah, okay. That'd be great, Jim."

As Jim stood behind Blair and listened to the woman speak, he looked idly around at the rest of the large room. A few native village scenes, but mostly just individual items, such as baskets, pots, masks, rugs, clothing, and weapons. His eyes landed on a tall, ornately decorated two-handled clay vase sitting on a pedestal across the room. The woman's voice blurred as did the rest of his surroundings for a few brief moments.

The vase stayed clear, almost painfully so. Something flashed across his mind, a fragment of a memory. He blinked and it was gone. What the ...? Shaking his head, he threw a glance at Blair, but he hadn't noticed since he was still absorbed in listening. He turned slightly, deliberately away from the vase and used his guide's familiar heartbeat to settle down his senses which were threatening to skip totally out of control. After another moment of concentration, he had all the dials back in place.

Everything was fine. Except for that minor headache which had come back again, defying the aspirin he'd taken before leaving the loft. Shoving the pain away as an annoyance, he turned his attention back to woman and her talk, hoping that maybe by ignoring the headache, it would leave.

Three exhibits down, after three more brief zone-outs and uncatchable flashes of memory, Jim had a zone-out long enough for Blair to notice when he didn't respond to one of the young man's comments about the exhibit. He only vaguely heard Blair's heart rate pick up as he stared at the vase, trying to figure out what it was that seemed to call to him. Then he felt a tug on his arm and a quiet but frantic voice hissing at him.

"Jim! This is not the place to do this!"

He jerked back into awareness and swivelled his eyes around to find Blair standing in front of him, worry written on his features. That worry melted away somewhat when recognition flooded Jim's eyes.

"Oh, man. What happened?" He looked around, making sure no one in the tour group was watching. "You were zoned. What is it?"

Jim rubbed his forehead as he propelled Blair toward the group. "Nothing. Just tired. You know I get sorta sluggish on the zoning bit when I'm tired."

Blair resisted moving toward the group, still holding onto Jim's arm. "If you're that tired, maybe we should go."

Jim stopped Blair before he could turn back toward the exit. "Nope. It's okay. We're staying. I'll be all right. Just a little headache left over from yesterday. Nothing I can't handle." He smiled widely, hoping to calm down his anxious guide.

Blair stared at him for a moment, then nodded slowly. "Okay. But you'll tell me if it gets too bad, right?"

"Right." He nudged Blair forward again. "You're missing the presentation, Chief."

"Huh? Oh, yeah, right." Blair quickly started to follow the group as they moved forward to the next exhibit, missing the look that Jim threw back at the vase before following his friend.

As they continued on the rest of the circuit of the room, Jim felt Blair's eyes on him from time to time, most likely checking to make sure Jim was still okay. Ever the master of his own facial expressions, Jim kept a pleasantly interested look on his face and in his eyes, ignoring the throb in his temples from the headache. And ignoring the increased tug of interest in the vase as they neared it. There's something familiar about it. Very familiar. Could it be Chopec, maybe? Is that why? He gave himself a mental shake, raising one hand to rub at his forehead once when Blair wasn't looking. This may drive me nuts.

Feeling the pull beginning to overwhelm him, Jim took a step closer to Blair, letting the calming aura of his guide ground him. Blair glanced up at him and frowned slightly, no doubt noticing the clenching jaw muscles.


"It's okay."

A frustrated look passed over Blair's features before he turned back toward the speaker enough to pay attention to her words, but obviously still concerned. Jim could almost see the wheels turning in Blair's head and knew he was in for a long lecture when they got back to the loft.

When they reached the last exhibit, Jim knew his battle to ignore the vase was lost. He found himself next to it before he even realized he'd moved. Without looking, he knew Blair was next to him. He felt a touch on his arm. "What is it, Jim? What is it about this thing that has got you so unnerved? I saw you staring at it for the past ten minutes."

Jim shook his head, just looking at the muted colors, worn away by time and travel. "I don't know. Not exactly, at least. It seems familiar to me. Is there a tag or something that says what it is?"

"Um, the plaque says it's a ceremonial water pitcher from an Indian tribe in Peru. Why?" Jim reached out a hand across the velvet ropes separating him from the pedestal and lightly touched the surface, placing his hand flat against it. "Jim, I don't think you're supposed to be touching..."

A voice from his past rang in his ears, drowning out Blair's.

<<Sentinel. You must both listen and talk to him if you would be strong. He is strong as well. Let him guide you as is his destiny.>>

"Jim! Jim!"

Another voice intruded -- that of the female tour guide. "Excuse me, sir, please don't touch the exhibits."

Yanked rudely out of the semi-zone by a voice that wasn't his guide's, Jim pulled his hand away and looked over the woman. "I'm sorry. Can you tell me what tribe exactly this is from? The plaque doesn't say."

She frowned, shifting her glance to the pitcher, "Chopec, I think." Then she turned back to the rest of the tour group, leading them out of the room, not realizing the reaction her simple statement would get.

"So it is Chopec," Jim murmured, eyes going back to the pitcher.

Blair's voice was stunned, but soft. "Chopec! No wonder you reacted." He looked from the pitcher to Jim, whose eyes were still fixed on the figures. He stepped closer, lowering his voice. "C'mon, Jim, talk to me. Tell me what you're feeling, what you're sensing. Tell me what is going on."

Slowly, Jim smiled and pulled Blair around in front of him, pointing at the figures. "Tell me what you see, Blair."

Rolling his eyes, Blair rattled off, still unnerved by Jim's zoning. "I see a really old water pitcher made by the Chopec. Why? What do you see?"

Jim chuckled and tugged on Blair's curls. "C'mon, Chief, where's that anthropology degree I've heard so much about? Tell me what you see."

Blair sighed and looked back at the pitcher. He walked around it, following the designs and patterns, the colors and figures, staring at it from all angles, thinking quietly, muttering every now and then. Jim waited patiently. Finally Blair stopped at Jim's side and began, "I'm not sure what I see, Jim. Two figures, equal to the other, both of some major importance to the village as a whole. And some sort of tribal ritual of oathtaking. It's so old it's hard to tell in this dim lighting. I'd have to have it to study in a better place for a full explanation." He looked up at Jim, seeing the small smile on his face. "Okay. Now tell me what you see, oh great detective."

Jim's smile widened and he pointed at the two figures, not touching them this time, just tracing the air above them. "This is definitely Chopec work. I can see it now. But old, very old. I saw something similar to this in Peru, not exactly like this, but close enough for this to look familiar to me. Anyway, these two figures represent two very close friends in a small village. The pitcher itself tells of the strong bond between these two friends, how no one could separate them, and how they vowed to use their strengths to protect the village and give warning when an enemy would come by staying on the borders and watching -- together."

Blair stared at Jim for a moment, mouth open. Jim watched as the realization of what the drawings represented hit the anthropologist, recognition spreading across his features. Blair focused back on the pitcher, scrambling around it, squinting to get a better look as he walked around it several times, muttering, "Oh, man, oh, man. Is that all? Does it say anything else?"

Jim started to shake his head, then stopped, raising a hand to carefully trace something at the top of the pitcher. Blair was at his side in an instant, whispering, "Jim, please be careful. I don't want the museum security to throw us out of here because we busted this."

"I'm being careful, Chief. I think there's something written near the top, but it's so worn down it's hard to read, even feel."

Blair looked around once nervously, then said, "Turn up the dial, Jim. I know you've got everything on low today."

Jim shot him a half-serious glare. "You do, huh? And how would you know that?"

"You get all mellow and distanced when the dials are down." He shrugged. "It's harder for me to get a reaction out of you."

"Hmm. Have to remember that." He was quiet for a few long moments as he concentrated on the text under his fingertips and not zoning out. He didn't need to accidentally knock this pitcher over. Blair probably wouldn't speak to him for a month if he managed to break some valuable artifact -- especially this one.

Slowly, the word became clear to him. He toned down the touch dial and pulled away. Grinning, he waited.

"Well?" Shifting from one foot to the other, Blair gestured impatiently. "You gonna tell me or do I have to beg?"

Grinning, Jim began his explanation, "It's a Chopec word all right. I think I only heard it once the whole time I was in Peru and I don't think I want to try to pronounce it now. Too long. But I think I can translate it, as least a close approximation...if you'd like."

Blair smacked Jim on the arm, grumbling good-naturedly. "If I'd like. Are you trying to kill with me anticipation here or what?"

Jim laughed, his eyes twinkling. "Sorry, Chief, I'll stop teasing you. Chopec use special words to describe pairs that are sometimes considered one unit, like two good friends, a husband and wife, the two head elders in a tribe, stuff like that. This one," he traced the word again, his eyes softening, "this one translates as 'Sentinel and Shaman-Guide'."

Blair blinked a few times, stunned. Jim waited, knowing that it wouldn't take long for the realization of just what that meant sank into his friend. The wait wasn't long as Blair began to grin, his eyes wide and sparkling in excitement. "Oh, wow. That's Way cool." Jim chuckled, but didn't say anything. Blair went on, half his attention on the pitcher, half on Jim. "And what was with the zoning, Jim? Did that have something to do with the pitcher?"

Jim looked back at the pitcher and smiled. "Just a memory and a message from my friendly spirit guide."

"A message? What?"

Jim threw an arm around Blair's shoulders. "Just that I should listen to you more, that I should talk to you about stuff. Something that I will try to do more, starting today."

Blair said quickly, "You listen to me, Jim. It's not like you ignore me or anything like that. At least not most of the time."

Jim squeezed his shoulder, nodding. "I know, Chief. But I don't listen to the right stuff sometimes. Like when you tried to ask about my senses the other day and I snapped at you. That's what the spirit guide was telling me." He paused, releasing Blair. "So, what do you say we finish up with the museum, then go out and grab some late lunch. And then we can talk about these crazy senses and you can figure out what's going on, right?"

Blair laughed. "Oh, yeah, Jim, give me the hard job, why don't you."

Jim gave him a gentle push toward the door of the room, chuckling. "It's a dirty job, but..."

"Yeah, yeah, somebody's gotta do it." He sighed melodramatically. "Might as well be me, right?"


Jim walked out next to Blair, listening to him as the younger man muttered about finding out who owned the pitcher and how he could wheedle them into letting him borrow it for a little while. Underneath the excitement, Jim heard the relief in Blair's voice that everything was still okay -- more okay now that Jim was willing to listen better to what he had to say about the whole sentinel thing. To Jim, the pitcher had been a reminder that they were strongest when they communicated and worked at understanding one another. And my headache's gone. Maybe that's my spirit guide's version of a gentle reminder that I'm not listening when I should be.

He watched as Blair bypassed the other exhibit rooms, heading for the management office, probably to hunt up the owner of that pitcher or whatever. Jim had a feeling that if Blair got his hands on that pitcher, the next two weeks would be comprised of Blair studying it from all directions and grilling him for information. He grinned to himself. Wouldn't have it any other way.

Hurrying to catch up with his partner, he mused. Yeah, Blair, somebody's got to do it and I'm glad you're the one who is. I don't know what I'd do without you.

- The End -