A Cypher Epilogue Scene
Blair sat in the waiting room of the dentist's office and leafed through the pages of a year-old issue of Discover magazine. He turned the page to an article titled "Senses and the Brain," and did a double take. A broad smile touched his face as he read the introductory paragraph which described how scientists were finding out more about how the brain interprets sensory input.
Sandburg nudged his partner in the chair next to him and showed him the article. "Hey, Jim, look at this!"
Ellison looked up from his own out-dated magazine and glanced at the article. "That's interesting," he said, turning his attention back to his own magazine.
Blair sighed. "Man, you didn't even look at it!" He glanced at the receptionist behind the desk and lowered his voice before continuing. "This article is on sensory input and the brain. I mean, that's right up our alley. Didn't you ever wonder why the doctors never found anything anomalous with your sensory organs. I mean, before you met me you went to them for all kinds of tests. If there was anything different about your sense organs, don't you think they would have found it?"
Jim raised his eyebrows and shrugged. "I don't know, Chief. I'm not a doctor."
Blair waved a hand in the air excitedly. "Come on, Jim. This is important. I mean, what if there's absolutely nothing different about your actual sense organs? What if it's all in the way your brain processes sensory input?"
Jim tilted his head and gazed at his partner in playful annoyance. "Sandburg, if this is your way of saying I'm funny in the head..."
Blair shook his head emphatically. "No! No, man... well, okay, maybe a little..." He chuckled. "I mean, anybody who's as much of a neat-freak as you can't possibly be playing with a full deck."
Jim reached up and yanked on one of Blair's culrs. "Watch it, Junior, or you'll find yourself walking home."
Blair laughed. "Yeah. Yeah. Thanks, by the way."
"You thanked me on the way over, Sandburg," Jim said.
Blair nodded. "Oh. Well, thanks again anyway. I really do appreciate the ride."
Jim opened his mouth to reply when the receptionist interrupted him.
Blair looked up at the middle-aged blonde woman and smiled. "Yeah, that's me." He stood up and walked over to the desk.
The receptionist rose from her seat and gestured for Sandburg to follow her down the hall. She stopped at the second room on the right and waved him inside. "The doctor will be with you in a moment," she said.
Blair nodded, admiring the view from behind as he watched her leave. Not bad, he thought. Not bad at all... too bad she's Jim's age.
With a wistful shake of his head, Blair walked into the examination room.... and froze when he saw the grey dentist chair in the center of the room. Oh God... His chest tightened and the air in the room seemed to grow measurably thicker.
"Mr. Sandburg, have a seat," a woman's voice asked from behind.
Blair nearly jumped, relieved that he'd caught himself in time. Instead, he turned around to look at the young dental assistant behind him, managing a weak smile. "Oh yeah, sure," he said.
His smile faded as he turned back around. He took a couple of steps closer to the chair. Come on, you can do this. You've been to the dentist before... it's nothing... just a chair. Blair swallowed his fear and settled himself into the chair, feeling the cool vinyl beneath him.
"Okay," the woman began, "we'll start out with some X-Rays."
Blair nodded. Fine. Fine. Just hurry up so I can get the hell outta here. His heart pounded frantically in his chest, and he could feel his throbbing pulse all the way to his fingertips.
"Open up," she instructed.
Blair obediantly opened his mouth. The woman situated the mouthpiece over his rear teeth. "Bite down," she instructed.
Blair closed his mouth, wincing as the hard piece dug into his gums. She focused the X-ray machine, then fitted him with a lead blanket. The sudden weight on his chest drove Blair's panic into overdrive, and he closed his eyes, trying to control the fear that gripped him. This is too much... Images of Lash standing over him invaded his consciousness, and he clenched his eyes tighter, willing the memories away.
"Okay, one more time," the woman said.
Blair opened his eyes to see the woman standing over him. Calm... Be Calm... He opened his mouth and she removed the mouthpiece. Blair closed his eyes and mentally counted backward from fifty as she repeated the procedure on the other side of his mouth.
Jim glanced at his watch, hoping Sandburg would be in and out rather quickly. The detective hated sitting around waiting rooms. He tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair, and his eyes drifted over to the discarded Discover magazine laying on the table in front of him. Well, if Sandburg thinks there's something to it, I suppose it I should read it, he told himself, leaning over to pick up the magazine.
"Are you feeling okay, Mr. Sandburg?"
Blair looked up at the the dentist, a tall, thin man with speckled hair and glasses. "Uh-huh," he muttered. He swallowed, then forced a smile. "I'm just a little nervous about dentists," he said. As of a month ago, he added silently.
A cold shiver snaked down his spine at the thought of how close he had come to being one of Lash's "new friends".
"Friends are, like, SO easy to make."
Blair balled one hand into a fist, pushing Lash's voice out of his head. Had it really been a month ago? In one way, it seemed like only yesterday that he'd been chained in that dentist chair waiting for Lash to finish him off. In another way, though, it seemed like a million years ago, and, if he tried really hard, he could almost convince himself that it had all been a bad dream.
The man smiled reassuringly and patted Blair on the elbow. "Don't worry, that's common enough. No cavities showed up, so we'll just do a cleaning today. I'll start you off with a topical anaesthetic, okay?"
Blair nodded. "Sure."
The doctor walked over to the cabinet and removed a bottle. Blair's eyes locked on the pinkish liquid inside the bottle. Oh man, talk about deja vu. The dentist poured a small amount of the liquid into a small paper cup and walked back over to Blair, holding the cup out to the younger man.
"Swish this around in your mouth and then spit it out in the basin," he instructed.
Lash's voice echoed through Blair's skull. "You're going to take a bath..."
Blair kept his gaze fixed on the cup on the doctor's hand. His head felt suddenly very, very light, and dark spots danced around the edges of his vision. He closed his eyes, seeing Lash flying toward him. Then the man was on top of him, holding his head back and forcing the drug down his throat.
"No." Blair eyes shot open and he shook his head violently, desparately wishing that the memories would leave him alone. He shot out of the chair and mumbled an incoherent apology to the wide-eyed doctor. His knees threatened to betray him, but he forced them to carry him toward the door. He had to get out of there. He tried to inhale a lungful of air, but he felt as though a huge weight were crushing his chest.
"Wait, Mr. Sandburg! Is something the matter? Are you okay?"
Blair barely heard the doctor as he rushed down the hall, breaking into a run past the receptionist's desk. Jim's head shot up in alarm as Blair ran through the waiting room and bolted out the door.
Blair didn't even spare Jim a glance as he flew out the door. For a moment, Jim sat there stunned, wondering what on Earth happened. Then realization hit him, and he cursed mentally. The dentist chair!
The Sentinel was on his feet immediately, rushing out of the building after Blair. ~~~~~~~~
Blair was only marginally aware of Jim's voice as the Sentinel called to him. He couldn't stop. He had to keep running. If he stopped, his legs would give way and he'd find himself kissing the sidewalk. No, he couldn't stop. He just had to get away... get some air... get the hell away from that thing.. that chair... He pumped his legs faster, his heart pounding so hard he thought it would burst through his chest.
Oh God, just leave me alone, Jim. He realized he probably looked pathetic, running down the street like a madman. There was no way he could stop now and explain it to the detective.... No, not to Jim Ellison, the man who never showed fear.
Blair's lungs burned, screaming for him to stop. His legs began to weaken, muscles shaking with exhaustion. He saw an alley entrance up ahead and pushed himself farther... Just a little farther. He rounded the corner and skidded to a halt near a large garbage can. Doubling over as his lungs pumped frantically for air, he leaned against the trashcan. The world around him spun slowly, and he closed his eyes, panting fiercely. His lungs couldn't take in oxygen fast enough, and bright spots danced in the darkness beneath his eyelids.
He felt a firm pressure on his shoulders, and found himself being pushed onto his rear. "Take it easy, Chief," Jim's voice soothed. "Just calm down. Breathe."
Blair's face grew hot with embarassment. He had NOT wanted Jim to see him freak out, but he couldn't deny the wave of relief that washed over him as he listened to the voice of his newly-appointed Blessed Protector. He sank back against the metal trashcan, just then becoming aware of the tremors that gripped his body.
"That's it, Sandburg. Take it nice and easy," Jim instructed, giving Blair's shoulder a gentle squeeze. "Breathe in and out... nice and slow."
Blair nodded, keeping his eyes closed. He pulled his legs up against his chest and rested his forehead on his knees. "Sorry," he mumbled.
He felt Jim sit down next to him and place an arm around his shoulder. "It's okay, Sandburg. You don't need to apologize."
"I didn't expect that to happen," he whispered.
Jim pulled the younger man closer. "I know," he said. "It happens to everyone who finds himself facing a life-or-death situation. Eventually down the line something kicks in and you realize just how close you came..." his voice trailed off, but he gave Sandburg another gentle squeze.
"It was like I was back there," Blair explained, raising his head to look at Jim. "Oh man, Jim, I saw Lash... I heard his voice. It was like he was right there with me."
The Sentinel's gentle blue eyes held Blair's gaze. "Well he's not, Chief. I am. Your blessed protector. Remember?"
Blair searched Jim's eyes for a hint of disapproval... or even a touch of pity. Instead, he found only compassion and understanding. Swallowing the lump in his throat, Blair nodded and forced a small smile.
"Thanks, Jim," he said.
Ellison smiled and patted Blair's shoulder. "No problem, Chief. It's all part of the blessed protector service."
Blair's smile broadened and he ducked his head a notch. "You wanna do me a little favor then?"
Jim raised his eyebrows. "What's that?"
"Go back there and explain to the doctor that I freaked out because I have a very sensitive allergy to... uh... " he knitted his brow in thought. Paper cups? Pink Liquid? Vinyl? Radiation? None of those sounded particularly convincing.
"Why don't we just skip the explanation and get the hell out of here," Jim suggested.
I can do that, Blair thought, nodding. "Sounds good to me."
Jim rose to his feet and helped Blair up. "Come on, Chief, I'll buy you a fruit smoothie, or something," he said as he steered his partner toward the truck.