(X or Y)
by Kira

Jim sighed contentedly as he picked up the double salami, triple cheese, with pickles and onion, hoagie. It was truly a masterpiece, and he had been lovingly crafting the high cholesterol, gazillion calorie meal for the last half hour.

"God DAMN it!!!"

Jim almost dropped his dinner as the shout from Blair's bedroom startled him. Blessed Protector detector on high, he instinctively scanned the loft for a few preset emergencies -- intruders, fire, blood from major injury, or sky-rocketing heartbeat from nightmare. Nope. Carefully placing the sandwich back on the plate, he walked over to the closed door and gently knocked.

"Sandburg? Everything okay in there?"

//damn, damn, good for nothing...what the hell is this all good for anyhow. what do they expect me to do with this crap....// The muttering from the other side of the door persuaded him that it wouldn't be entirely dangerous to open it, although any foray into Blair's room ran the risk of the adventurer being lost amid laundry and piles of paper and books. He placed his hand on the knob, only to have it whisked away as the door wrenched open.

Two bloodshot, caffeine-wild eyes stared at him. A piece of paper was thrust into his face.

"Do you see this symbol, Jim? Do you see it? Huh?" Blair held the picture in two hands as Jim crossed his eyes to see the photocopied symbol resting almost on his nose.

"Yeah, it looks like....um....an upside down, uh, tree?"

"Do you know what this means? Do you KNOW what THIS MEANS?"

"Uh, no." Blair deflated, shoulders sagging and he pulled the piece of paper away from Jim's face and whimsically looked at the diagram.

"Well, neither do I."

Jim closed his eyes, feeling like he had just entered the Sandburg zone.

"And is it important?"

"Well of course it's important Jim. I'm have a comprehensive exam on the whole language and I don't know what this symbol means. I mean they try to explain it in the book, but it means nothing! Nothing I tell you."

"The book didn't help?"

"No. All it said was that it meant nothing. But I ask you, Jim. How can a symbol that is used in all of these complex constructions I've seen not mean anything. I mean either you use something and it means something, or you don't use something and it means nothing....right?"

Jim had the good grace to simply nod sagely at Blair's creative logic, then walked back to his sandwich.

"Unless they meant it actually means 'nothing'. You know, the word 'nothing'," he pointed out as he picked up the hoagie.

Blair simply stared at the Sentinel. He looked down at the page in his hand, turned on his heel, and shut the door. Without even a bang.

Jim smiled an little grin, *Thank God these exams would be over in two weeks.* There was a thud, almost as if a book had meet the wall with great velocity.

"Don't scratch the paint, Chief."