The Sentinel Files

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For once the battered green and white VW microbus blended rather nicely with the eclectic assortment of student vehicles in the Rainer University parking lot. The four men inside the van might even have gone unnoticed individually, but as a package they were as unlikely looking as the pair they were currently keeping under careful watch. Actually, that Byers and Frohike were keeping under watch. Jimmy Bond was humming quite happily and tunelessly to himself while Langley twisted a palmful of pale, lank hair in frustration.

"I still can't believe you dragged us across the country for this." The hacker's other hand gestured dismissively at the video monitor.

"He's not what he looks like," countered Byers, nodding toward the long-haired graduate student dressed in flannel and torn jeans. "He's a specially bred aide for the first of a genetically enhanced army of soldiers."

"That’s bullshit."

"That's enough!" Melvin Frohike snapped at a glowering Langley. "You got a better story?"

"Well …"

"Yeah," led the older man.

"You know everybody's been having trouble since NSA put in that new encryption algorithm."

"Uh huh," agreed Frohike patiently. "So that means…"

"That means that this is our story," finished the hacker in a despondent tone.

"Right. So see what you can dig up on these guys."

"Fine. I get it. I get it. I just have one question." He pointed to Bond, still humming cheerfully. "What's he doing here?"

"The football league is thinking of expanding into the northwest and he’s hoping to find some willing undergrad to help set it up in exchange for a paper or two," mumbled Frohike, suddenly finding something very interesting about the floor of the microbus.

"Hey yeah!" Bond straightened up from his slump. "I even got new business cards."

He proffered one to the reluctant longhaired blond. "Printed in Braille. Cool, huh?"

Langley looked at Byers who shrugged, "He's going to be our introduction to one Blair Sandburg, part-time advisor to undergraduate anthropology students."

Closing his eyes, Langley sighed.

~oOo~

"Jim, that computer do something to piss you off?"

The glare his detective was gracing on the hapless CPU flickered momentarily in Simon's direction before the years of Army service transformed it into a look of collected subservience. Some days Simon thanked whatever military god who might be listening that he got the Ranger-trained version of a testy Jim Ellison and not who he must have been before the drill sergeants got hold of him.

"Sandburg?" he queried.

"One of them anyway."

"Naomi?"

Simon almost winced from the chill as Ellison's eyes turned an icy blue. Yes, that would be Naomi.

"Do you have any idea what that woman is trying to convince me of?"

"Ah, Jim," the captain motioned toward the quiet and suddenly attentive bullpen. Apparently life at the Ellison-Sandburg home was far more interesting than the day's case files. "Why don't we take this to my office?" He raised his voice a little. "So the rest of the ladies and gentlemen who call me Captain can get their work done."

He contentedly noted a sudden increase in the ambient sounds of paperwork being completed. Smiling, he gestured his cranky detective into his lair.

"What's Naomi into now?" Simon poured a cup of flavored coffee and then sipped it himself after Jim waved the offering off. "Growing sage on the balcony? Making musk ox tongue pate? Levitating over the coffee table?"

"She's trying to convince me I’m blind."

Simon choked on a mouthful of Vienna Swiss Mocha. "Jim you can see stuff four blocks away."

"Not with my Third Eye. It's completely blind."

Simon's dark eyes narrowed in suspicion. If Rafe and Brown were out there using one of those new supersensitive listening devices, so help him …

"Jim isn't that the name of a rock group?"

Ellison shrugged innocently. "I have no idea, sir."

"All right then, what is it?"

"Some crap out of Kundalini yoga, it's --"

"Wait, isn't Kundalini yoga the one where --"

"That's Tantrism, but, yeah, it's related to it. Sex is one of the triggers of the release of … Oh God. See, she's been here a week and I'm starting to sound like her."

"And this Third Eye is?"

"Right about here," said Jim, jabbing a finger between his brows.

"Uh huh." Simon resettled the gold frames of his wire-rimmed glasses. "And you see what out of this eye?"

"I don't know, cosmic harmony or some other celestial shit."

"But it doesn't really see, this third eye thing."

"Well, no, not like in light waves."

"So, as I said, it doesn't really see."

"Don't you think I've tried that argument, Simon?"

 

~oOo~

 

"Dr. Sandburg?"

"Um…" Blair looked up from Anthro Today’s article on the latest furor over the Yananamo . "Just Sandburg, no ‘doctor.’ At least not yet. "

"I'm Jimmy Bond. I, uh, got your name from the dean’s office. They said you were the most popular anthro advisor. I’m in town talking to CAB. The, uh, Cascade Association of the Blind."

Blair folded the magazine and extended a hand. "And what can I do for you, Mr. Bond?"

"You can call me Jimmy."

"Okay," agreed Blair. When nothing else was said he smiled slightly. "There was something else?"

"Oh! Yeah!"

~oOo~

 

In the van Langley slapped his forehead into his open palm. "Guys, I know we've never openly discussed it, but you two do know he's an idiot."

Frohike grunted noncommittally while Byers just frowned slightly, the corners of his mouth turning down against his short-cropped beard.

"What?" protested the blond. "This is just like that fucking emperor's new clothes story. Am I the only one that can see…"

Langley's face grew redder as Frohike shushed him, motioning towards the receiver still broadcasting from the anthropologist's office.

~oOo~

 

"We've been doing some great work promoting sports for the visually impaired."

"Like blind skiing and golf."

"No, man, we're a football league."

"Football?" came back the amused reply. "Did Jim put you up to this?"

"Jim? No it was…" Jimmy's forehead wrinkled. He wasn't supposed to say anything about that. "No," he said again, remembering Byer's careful coaching. He was supposed to say … "We're supported by anonymous donors. Our team on the coast, uh, the other coast, you know, that way." He pointed helpfully toward the western end of the quad. "They're doing really great and, uh, we're here to start an Atlantic division."

"Pacific," corrected Blair.

"You too? Wow. I'm the same way. I hate violence."

~oOo~

 

There are certain things you don't do as Jim Ellison's partner. You don't flush after ten. You always use the spray. You don't let your mother burn sage in the loft and when - despite you’re best efforts to the contrary - Naomi is there, you don't bring home anyone likely to further annoy an already-taxed Sentinel.

Unfortunately that was exactly what he was doing. Any other time introducing Jim to one Bond, Jimmy Bond, would have been well worth the after-experience grumbling. With Naomi in attendance it might just be the straw that broke the proverbial Sentinel's back. Or, one pissed off Sentinel might do the same to the back of his guide.

/Okay. Here we go./ Taking a deep breath and feeling the looming friendly presence he'd not been able to shake still solidly behind him, Blair opened the loft door. No raised voices or breaking of crockery. /So, so far so good./ Heavy fog of silent tension and tension was bad, true, but silence … silence was better than the alternative. The Jim-Naomi conflict apparently had settled into the siege stage.

Tempting scents of tomatoes and spices wafted from the kitchen -- Jim's spaghetti sauce. The vibes might be negative but Jim had made spaghetti and spaghetti in Ellison-speak was a truce food.

"Uh, Jim."

"Hey Chief."

"Hope you made the usual extra, man. We got company."

"*More* company?" He could hear the plastered-on, beauty contestant's smile tightening his Sentinel's voice. "I couldn't be happier."

/Sure, Jim, that wouldn't fool anybody./ Or maybe it would. There was a whoosh of air as Jimmy Bond stepped around him. /No, man, don't. Not good./

"Hey, I feel the same way."

"Uh huh." Jim's voice took on a slightly growling edge. "And you would be?"

"Bond. Jimmy Bond."

"Jimmy. Bond." The name was repeated flatly without a hint of question or amusement. Blair couldn't help the little snort that escaped softly. Pity nothing was too soft for Sentinel ears.

"Jimmy came to see me at campus today. He works for a non-profit back east that sponsors sporting events for the visually challenged."

"Uh huh."

/Uh oh./ When Ellison lapsed into monosyllables it was never a good sign. Blair reached out to brush his hand against his partner’s hard bicep. That interrupted, at least momentarily, the Sentinel’s scrutiny. And more than that he could smell…

"Ah, Jim, I think your sauce is burning."

"Hell…"

Must have been some once-over if Jim could miss the smoky scent of carbonized tomatoes. Taking advantage of his partner’s rapid retreat into the kitchen Blair waved toward the living area.

"Have a seat Jimmy. You want a beer?"

**Only one Jimmy.** Frohike’s warning tickled through the receiver in Bond’s ear. **Just one. Remember what happened last time.**

"Ah, man! Just one."

"Your wish is my command." Blair handed over one of the bottles he carried and navigated to the comfort of the armchair.

"Hey Jim, where’s Naomi?"

"Went out to get some … torino something or other."

"Torenia?"

"Yeah, that sounds right."

"That’s lettuce -- organic, Italian lettuce. Really dark leaves. Naomi loves the stuff."

"We’ve got lettuce, Chief. That stuff you’re always buying – hydroponically grown New York leaf."

"Boston, Jim," explained Blair tolerantly. "Boston."

~oOo~

 

Frohike studied Byers as the great leafy greens debate continued.

"This is your genetically enhanced super soldier? The cook and his sidekick Lettuce Boy?"

He wasn’t ready to join Langley’s whine-fest but this wasn’t exactly front-page material they were recording.

"Um, I’m not questioning you, but it doesn’t sound like they’re gonna end the salad debate and start plotting the overthrow of Jiang Zemin any time soon here. What’s got you so sure this Ellison guy is some kind genetic prototype?"

"Well Sandburg’s manuscript was real enough."

"Yeah, but he recanted. Claimed it was fiction."

"What else were they going to do? Obviously his mother was clueless when she sent it to the publishing house. They had to do something and this wouldn’t be the first time they’ve used transparent obfuscation. I mean look at the Roswell mess. This thing is precision compared to that."

"Look, I know what you’re hoping for -- Jimmy manages to plant a few bugs and you get to hear the equivalent of the super soldier smoking gun. If he sticks to one beer."

**Get you another beer, Jimmy?**

Frohike appreciated the way Byers hid his eyes behind his palm and groaned. Pity Langley was too busy pouting to watch.

~oOo~

 

"Ah! Company!"

Naomi switched the macramé shopping bag to her left hand and extended her right to the attractive young blond on the sofa.

"Naomi Sandburg. Are you a friend of Jim and Blair’s?"

A sharply drawn intake of air followed which was the usual reaction of most men to finding Naomi Sandburg standing before them in her yoga cat suit. "I’d like to hope so."

"Oh, that’s sweet. And look at you. Your aura is absolutely lovely. Lavender with a flash of blue and just tinge of yellow."

"Doesn’t that clash, Naomi?"

Blair ducked his head to hide his smile at the smirk apparent in the big guy’s voice.

"This from a man whose aura is monotonously tan."

Jim moved closer to him, a warm hand dropping on his shoulder and squeezing lightly. "That’s all right, Blair’s color-blind."

"But you can see his aura can’t you, sweetie?"

"Every last tan drop of it," agreed Blair innocently, wincing slightly as the grip on his collarbone tightened.

"See. Third Eye wide open."

Hearing a slight gasp coming from Blair, Jim hastily released the pressure of his clenched fingers.

"Ah, don’t start with that Naomi."

Even Naomi Sandburg knew when to leave well enough alone. "All right. All right. Peace. I brought some wine."

**Jimmy. No! Jimmy do you hear me?**

Jim cocked his head and said softly. "You hear something just then Chief?"

Blair arched against the back of the couch, grinning up at him. "When did it ever do you any good to ask me that?"

~oOo~

 

The sauce was good, if just a tad bit smoky, and Naomi’s salad was great with a touch of tarragon vinaigrette, but Jim wasn’t eating. While Blair didn’t doubt that what tasted pleasantly smoky to him probably tasted charred to a Sentinel, he knew there was more to the hunger strike than that.

Still Jim was trying to make polite conversation. And as making conversation at all was often a stretch for his partner, he appreciated the effort the big guy was clearly putting into establishing a conversational give-and-take with their dinner guest.

"So, Jimmy, what kind of sports are we talking here?"

Blair bent further toward his plate of pasta to hide his grin.

"Hmm?" The young blond man’s expressive face scrunched in confusion. "Oh, right … we’re a football league."

Jim’s fork, which had rarely found itself off the plate tonight, froze in mid-air. "Football. American football?"

"Just like the NFL."

"How does that work?"

"It works really well. We’ve got a locational beacon in the goal posts, another in the ball. Have had some problems when someone’s cell phone goes off though. And once when Jeb Parker’s hearing aid battery went low Kowalski tried to kick his head through the uprights."

Naomi choked, muttering something about the wine going down the wrong way and Jim’s fork clattered back to its resting place.

"Chief? Why don’t you help me clear the table and get dessert?"

"Ah, sure."

Wasn’t surprising when Jim locked a hand around his wrist and pulled him behind the refrigerator door. "Where did you find this guy?"

"Don’t blame this one on me, Jim. He found me."

"Is he kidding?"

"I don’t think so. He’s just looking to find an undergrad to volunteer a few hours. I told him he ought to go over to soc, that it was more up their alley, but he insists on an anthropology student. I know it sounds nuts, but he’s really serious. He told me the name of every player on his roster. He really thinks it’s a good way for the visually impaired to participate in an American institution."

"More like he should *be* in an American institution."

"Well, look, we’ll feed him dessert and send him on his way. Although I still think if he’d take the only mildly visually challenged I’d make a good field goal kicker. I mean I did learn to heel fake from Pele when I was three."

"Pele?" asked Jim blearily.

"Yeah, Naomi was in Brazil …"

"Don’t tell me. I really don’t think I want to know."

~oOo~

 

"Jim, I mean I know you wanted him out of here, man. But we can’t send him out like that."

Jim had winced as their guest started on his third rendition of Rebel Music. Naomi had gracefully retreated to her room, claiming she needed to mediate. Though how anyone could mediate in the current din of off-key Marley was a good question.

But when they had to retrieve Jimmy Bond from the loft bedroom where he hung upside-down over the railing still wailing "Hey, Mr. Cop! Ain't got no - hey hey! hey, Mr. Cop" Blair realized he needed to drive their guest home. Rapidly. Before his own personal Mr. Cop called for backup.

Jim waved them bye-bye and got out the antibacterial cleanser.

~oOo~

 

"You plant ‘em all?"

Jimmy looked up from where he lodged a thumbnail between his incisors and mumbled.

"Could you repeat that?" muttered Byers.

"’tink I go let us stut in m’ teaf."

"Without the thumb," advised Frohike.

"Think I got that lettuce stuff stuck in my teeth."

"The bugs, dipwad." Langley swatted at the beefy hand once more nearing Bond’s mouth. "Did you plant the listening devices?"

"Oh, yeah. One in the living area. One in the kitchen, the bath and the bedroom. Hey, Hey Mr. Cop!"

"Good Jimmy. Now all we have to do is wait for some intelligent conversation out of those two."

~oOo~

 

"Two more days Chief, then we get our house back."

Blair nestled up to Jim’s side, understanding that a few minutes in the quiet of the cleaned loft before turning in might be something his Sentinel needed. Well, relative quiet, anyway. Not that it was ever what Jim heard but he could listen to the low grumbling hum of the outdated refrigerator, the breezy whisper of the heating system, Naomi’s soft snores radiating from his old bedroom.

"Yeah, I know, Naomi is kinda like a Brownian motion generator. Lots of random stuff bumping up against each other."

Jim took that with a nod. Sometimes Blair talked like the Mensan he was, like he forgot the Mensan his partner wasn’t. It was best just to nod and go on.

"What did she mean when she said that thing about my aura?"

"What? That yours was monotonously tan? Jim, you don’t even believe in auras."

"I know. I just want to know what Naomi meant."

"Ah. Tans. Well there’s different kinds. I figure you’re what Naomi would call an Enviromental tan. They’re the bridge between the Environmental Family and the Mental Family. Lots of experiencing reality by touching it. And I have to admit she’s got you there Jim."

A noncommittal grunt urged him onward.

"Okay. Tans like security, stability. They operate best in a world of rules, boundaries, standards. Order, discipline, you know, that cop kind of stuff. Tans are supposed to be especially good at analyzing spatial properties. You know, stuff I’m terrible at – looking at a garage full of old junk and knowing how many boxes you’re gonna need to pack it all up."

"I could get over being pissed about this," admitted Jim.

"Ah, well, I’m not quite finished. Tans tend to be very intelligent. They’re just terrible at expressing themselves. Keep their feelings to themselves. Those feelings can be very deep, they just have problems putting them into words, figure that their thoughts and feelings are nobody else’s business. They don’t want help, want to figure it all out for themselves."

"Chief, I think I’m getting pissed again."

"I’m still not finished. Tans have a strong sense of responsibility. A strong need to complete the task they’re working on, even if that means working themselves to exhaustion. They like to meticulously calculate all those boring little steps and details."

"They’re not boring Sandburg, they’re important."

"Uh huh. So this is sounding familiar?"

"Not in the least, it’s just that those little details are important."

"Okay, okay. Don’t go all magenta on me."

"Ha ha, Sandburg."

"Almost over. Let’s see. Tans are loyal. They take their commitments seriously. Oh, and they like a neat, clean, orderly environment. So, see, being tan is not all that bad a thing."

"But you’re not."

"Not what?"

"Tan."

"No way, man. I am so not tan."

"So what color are you?"

"Well, Naomi says it’s violet but it’s really blue."

"You’ve seen it?"

"Sure. A friend of mine had an aura camera. It was blue, man, like the sea blue."

"And that’s good?"

"Any color is good. Blue is good. Tan is good. Fuschia with celadon dots, okay, that’s probably not good. But anything within the Crayola box is okay."

"The little eight color box?"

"Nah. The big box with Atomic Tangerine and Pig Pink."

Yawning Blair nestled tighter against Jim’s chest.

"Chief, how do you know these things?"

"I dunno," he murmured sleepily, "doesn’t everyone?"

~oOo~

 

"This is intelligent conversation?"

"Well at least it’s not about lettuce."

"No, it’s about some new age shit …"

"You were thinking, what? Specs on Ellison’s bio-implants?"

"I’m not kidding here guys," Byers glared. "Ellison is exactly what I claimed."

Frohike nodded sagely. "A man who doesn’t know his crayon colors."

"A man with a tan aura," added Langley.

"Stop it guys. I believe him. The guy is seriously buff."

"Yeah, Jimmy, that proves it all right."

It was gonna be a long night.

~oOo~

 

Jim fished for Blair’s face under the tangle of curls, wrestling away the pillow his partner had clutched to his stomach. Blair looked charmingly endearing in his half-woken state causing Jim to stomp down on the instincts threatening to rise and have him scoop up what would turn out to be one very pissed anthropologist into his arms.

"Time to go to bed, sleepyhead."

The hair succeeded in reclaiming its resting place over Blair’s forehead. "You go ‘head."

"Uh huh, and have you wake me up when you stumble in three hours later groaning with a stiff neck. I don’t think so. Up and at ‘em."

He accentuated the order by giving the nearest flannel-clad arm a little shake and got a grunt of protest in return before the bundle of curls and plaid and denim staggered to its feet. Blair shook back the chestnut tinted cascade and grinned at his Sentinel.

"Sure you weren’t a drill sergeant there, big guy?"

Jim helped neaten his roommate by smoothing an errant curl behind his ear and took in the wide, amused gaze facing him. His desire to look so deeply into Blair’s eyes had disconcerted him at first, but then the closeness, when it had come, had given him cover to lose himself in the hundred shades of blueness in the round irises. From pale turquoise to dark slate. Cornflower. Royal. Powder. Cyan. Steel. Midnight. Sky. Aquamarine. Dodger. Hell, Sandburg’s eyes were the damn crayon box.

"I can arrange for you to be drilled …"

The arresting kaleidoscopes of blue disappeared under fringed lids and the full mouth pursed in an exasperated smile. "Oh God, I should have stayed asleep."

"You won’t feel that way in few minutes."

"You mean when you strike oil?"

"I’m gonna strike something, Sandburg."

 

~oOo~

 

"Jim, you just need to refocus. Draw away from your physical eyes toward your inner one."

Blair put a restraining hand on his mother’s arm and whispered, "Naomi, look, I know you mean well, but Jim’s just not the introspective type."

No, he was the sensing type. He practically put the "S" in ISTJ.

"Hey, Chief, what exactly did you mean by that?"

Like whispering would do any good. "Nothing Jim, you’re just the classic ISTJ."

"IST-what?"

"There’s a psychology test called the Meyer’s-Briggs." Sandburg’s hands were already moving in conductor-like fashion. "Sorts people according to four personality preferences – there’s extraversion/introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/feeling and judging/perceiving."

Jim watched, amused, as the fingers of one square hand counted off four fingers on the other in time with Blair’s recitation.

"I know you’ve had to take it somewhere. The thing is practically ubiquitous. Besides, they should stop defining ISTJs and just put your picture up. Everyone would get it, trust me."

"Okay, you got me. What is an ISTJ?"

"You are." Blair paused a moment gathering his thoughts, or more likely, breath enough to continue. "ISTJs are like the ‘good citizens’ of the world, man. Law, order, rules, neatness. Can’t forget the neatness, Jim."

"This is that aura thing again, isn’t it?"

"Hey, that’s a good point. Wonder if we could correlate aural readings with personality profile results? I gotta tell that to Dr. Neutens over in Parapsych. He’s gonna love that idea."

"Glad I could be of service," muttered Jim dryly.

Naomi patted his arm comfortingly. "Don’t worry Jim. All those personality tests are just definitional renderings of our reaction to the limited material reality our spirits find themselves in. The first thing you need to do is just open your mind. We have to learn to meditate with our eyes open. It’s the first step. Then if you prepare and reduce the traffic of information going through your physical eyes, you slowly begin to watch through the inner eye, which will give you impressions beyond physical reality."

"Yeah, thanks, Naomi, but right now I’ve got to take my physical eyes and go look for bad guys. Drop you off, Blair?"

"Sure." Blair shrugged into his coat and hooked his backpack. "If you go to that herbalist, would you mind getting me some lemon balm?"

"Sure sweetie." Naomi placed a kiss on her son’s forehead, clasping a hand over the one he reached out. "You be careful. Both of you."

~oOo~

 

"Byers, the deadline is Sunday and we’ve got a tape of explanations of tan auras and personality profiles and a request for lemon balm."

"Don’t forget some rather amazing radio porn," added Langley.

"No," agreed Frohike, "let’s definitely not forget that."

"Trust me, guys." The looks Byers got in return were skeptical. "I’m not wrong here. We just need to wait a little longer. Something will give. Ellison’s arrest record is twice that of anybody else in the Cascade PD. He’s using his enhanced senses to get it done. All we have to do is catch him at it."

~oOo~

 

Frohike grimaced at the muted sounds of joint mediation seeping through the receiver. "Remind me again why we can’t bug a police station?"

"Because they tend to notice things like that?" smirked Langley.

"Uh, yeah … well, it’s been three days and I’m about ready to take our chances. We get something tonight or we go with the backup story."

Byers eyed them suspiciously. "What backup story?"

"You know that tip that the big ball of twine in Kansas is really an alien hairball."

~oOo~

 

Blair met him at the door, pushing him back into the hall with a kiss and a whisper. "Jim! Hey man! Thought we’d go out tonight."

While the kiss was blissfully returned, it did not allay his Sentinel’s suspicious nature. "Naomi coming?"

"No, just you and me."

"Just you and me?" Jim brightened. "It’s a deal, Chief, but let me change clothes."

Blair’s mouth rounded into a near perfect "o". "Uh, no!"

"No?"

"You look great, Jim. No need to change."

"Well, at least let me wash up."

"No … uh …."

Jim frowned and reached for the doorknob. "Some reason you don’t want me to go in my own house?"

"Of course not." For every step his partner took forward, Blair took one step back until they were both finally inside the loft proper. "Just … don’t go upstairs."

"Okaaaaay." Jim barely loosened the rein he’d been keeping on his senses ever since Naomi had arrived. Too dangerous when the Damocles’’ sword of burning sage hung overhead. "Blair, what’s going on up there?"

A grimace took over the younger man’s normally open features, "Uh … I think Naomi’s manifesting."

"Manifesting?" With the hearing dial approaching normal, Jim could make out small noises creaking noises coming from the loft bed. Small creaking noises that he and Blair tended to make when … "She’s?"

Blair shrugged.

"Alone or with someone?"

Blair shrugged a second time.

~oOo~

 

Three pairs of eyes settled on Byers.

"Super senses," said Frohike.

"Genetically altered super soldier," tossed in Langley.

"The guy didn’t seem so super to me," added Bond, complete missing the "et tu Jimmy?" look in Byers eyes.

Frohike motioned toward the receiver, "Shut it down. I’m tired of listening to everyone in that family get some while I have … you three."

With a sigh, Byers switched the set off.

~oOo~

 

They’d dragged dinner out as long as they could, parked down by the bay and had taken a walk and done a little tickle and grope in the confines of the truck, but eventually even they had to go home.

"Hey, listen Jim." Blair stepped into the loft and cocked his head. "It’s quiet."

Ever so cautiously Jim notched up the imaginary dial.

"See?" said Blair. "Nobody home."

Allowing himself the release, Jim slowly let all the dials spin upward. Faint overlay of sweat and sex coming from the hamper in the bath. Naomi must have changed the sheets, thank God. A bit of mixed waxy scent from the kitchen cabinet where she had stowed the meditation candles. A faint and curious hum from four or five locations that led him to press a finger to his lips to ensure the quiet of his happily basking partner.

"What?" mouthed Blair as he watched Jim stalk a perfectly harmless reading lamp and flip it over with all the black ops skills he could muster. "Some kind of killer lamp, Jim?"

He tried to focus on the small button long Sentinel fingers produced, but couldn’t manage it before Jim dropped it on the floor and ground it to even smaller bits.

"Bug," Jim breathed in his ear as he stalked by.

~oOo~

 

Blair looked up from reading the note Naomi had left on the coffee table and saw Jim give the all clear. What a week.

"Jim, who’d want to bug us? I mean we straightened out the whole diss thing. Jack says there’s not been any interest from the governmental side. Who else is out there?"

"Don’t know, but whoever it was, they’re going to have a harder time from now on. No more turning down the senses, Naomi will just have to control herself."

Blair waved the rectangle of paper, "Think we’ve got a respite. She’s found a wonderful new ashram to visit and I shouldn’t worry, she’s with someone named Nghia."

"Who’s Nghia?"

"I suspect the …" Blair thumbed toward the loft.

"Ah," said Jim, nodding his head. "Whatta you say we go do some … manifesting ourselves."

"I’m thinking you’re going to want to skip the three hours of preparatory meditation."

Jim reached an arm around Blair’s waist and leaned into the waiting kiss. "Unless you’re really, really set on it."

"I can manifest without it."

Jim grinned. "Yeah, I bet you can."

 

 ~end~

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