Blair Sandburg rolled down the window of his Volvo and inhaled the fresh air. He was valiantly trying to ignore his fellow passenger, Mike Dougan. He did feel slightly bad about it, since the man was only there to protect Blair. Mike Dougan, police officer. Blair had fought it. Not that he didn't want the protection; he'd just rather have Mike be in plainclothes to blend in more. It was a little disconcerting to walk around the campus trailed by a fully-uniformed police officer. He'd argued with Jim for over an hour before finally relenting. He realized his sentinel was scared and, not knowing how to deal with it, Jim was obviously operating in full mother-hen mode.
past few days, Jim had been driving Blair slowly insane. He called the
anthropologist almost every hour and, if Blair was in class or unavailable, he
would call Officer Dougan to ensure that Sandburg was indeed safe.
Mike found Ellisonís over-protectiveness to be rather funny, but he knew how important Blair was to Jim, and so he took his job very seriously. He would answer Jim's call and reply to his questions. After hanging up he would make a comment about Jim now being Sandburg's mother.
If the truth were known, Blair was quite scared himself and had no intention of ever running into Alex again. He understood the rationale that if Alex could see Blair was being protected, she might not try anything. It was just hard to ignore a six-foot tall, fully armed man always standing no more than six feet away. He should be used to it after all these years with Jim, but this was different. He felt like a prisoner, when he should be the one who was free, not Alex.
even gone so far as to call Alexís clinical psychiatrist in Oregon, Dr.
Feinberg. The man had been surprisingly talkative after Blair had introduced
himself. Heíd told Blair that, with her mental breakdown, Alex had been unable
to control her senses, such as they were. Of course, at the time, the doctor
hadnít realized all of her senses were heightened. He had thought she could use
two or three senses at a heightened level, but was doubtful she could control
promising to send the doctor a copy of his dissertation, Blair had hung up.
arrived at Rainier and made their way into Blair's office. Blair had found an
old couch that he had stuck in the corner of his office, so at least Mike had
somewhere comfortable to sit. Blair had been trying to get his protector
interested in anthropology, but had met with little success. It seemed Mike was
very interested in sports and little else. So, after running out of "Jags" talk
the first day, there were quite a few stretches of silence between the two.
routine they had begun to follow continued that day. Mike had followed Sandburg
to his first lecture, where he positioned himself in the seat nearest the door.
From there, he could check over all the entrants. After all the students were
seated, Mike would divide his time between keeping his eye on the door and
windows and his ear on Sandburg's lecture. Anthropology was not his cup of tea,
but Blair was an amazing teacher; maybe if there had more instructors like him,
Mike would've stayed in college. Sandburg really got his students involved in
the discussions and made it known that their opinions were important.
way back from class, Blair was digging into his notes as Mike kept his eyes
tracking around the area. Not watching where he was going, Blair rounded a
corner and slammed into another person, sending them both to the ground.
reacted instantly, rushing past a fallen Blair and placing himself in the center
of the mess. Blair, realizing what had happened, was quick to assure the cop
that he was fine, and climbed quickly to his feet. He walked around the officer
to assist the victim of his clumsiness: a young woman, around 22 or 23 years
old, with short, spiky red hair. Her slacks and shirt were black, accented by a
bright scarf. She wore the chunky, thick-soled shoes that were so popular, and
held the strap of a black leather backpack, which lay next to her on the
sorry, it's my fault completely," Blair apologized. "I should have been watching
where I was going." He reached his hand out to help her up. She smiled up at him
as she extended her hand and Blair pulled her up.
"That's okay, I was hoping to have an excuse to do my laundry," she said lightly while dusting off her pants.
snickered in the background, and Sandburg shot him a look of mock disgust.
Turning back to the woman, Blair told her, "I'm such a klutz; I'll pay for any
listen, if I ever had any 'dry clean only' clothes, I killed them long ago. I'm
strictly a 'wash and wear' kind of girl," she laughed.
Sandburg listened to her laugh and thought of how attractive she
was. Maybe she'd be open for a cup of coffee or something. "So do you have
anything going on now?"
"Actually I'm looking for Blair Sandburg's office. Do you have any idea
where that could be?" She hefted the backpack over one shoulder.
should, I'm Blair Sandburg," he introduced himself, gracing the young woman with
one of his more dazzling smiles.
should have recognized you! I'm Denise Breton; we've been corresponding through
e-mail. I'm your new TA." She held out her hand, and Blair shook it
exchanged pleasantries and headed towards Blair's office with a bemused Mike
Dougan in tow. Denise glanced at Mike a couple of times before asking, "What
exactly is he doing with you?"
mean you haven't heard about it through the very fast and highly efficient grad
student grapevine?" Blair asked, rolling his eyes, as he slipped his key in the
lock and opened the door.
don't listen to gossip; if I want to know what happened, I ask," she stated,
following Blair into his office.
very refreshing," Blair commented, a hint of humor in his tone. He smiled his
thanks at Mike as the officer grabbed a chair from the office and placed it
right outside the door to give the two some privacy.
"So what's going on?"
smile faltered, and he gave into a quiet sigh. "You don't mess around, do
too short to play it safe. See what you want and go for it. If you fail, at
least you tried." She laughed at herself. "Man, I'm starting to sound like a
sneaker commercial. Seriously, if you need to tell me something, it'll stay
between us." She looked her new boss directly in the eye. "Is this about Alex
paled at the mention of her name and gave a small shudder. "What do you know
about her?" he whispered.
your press conference talking about her being a
sentinel, and of course I've seen the news reports of her escape." She paused,
walking around to the front of the desk to sit in a chair. "I've always been
intrigued by sentinel lore, and when I discovered you'd actually found one,
well, I was floored. I knew that you were the professor to work for. You
believed that they existed and you kept at it until you'd found one." Taking in
Blair's stricken appearance she reined herself in. "I realize it was a terrible
situation, but just experiencing your dream should be able to wipe some negative
right, it should, but it's still too fresh in my mind, I guess." Blair looked
away quickly, suddenly engrossed in looking for something, anything, to keep
Denise from asking too much more about Alex.
at Sandburg with honest concern, she spoke, her voice soft, "She's after you,
nodded bleakly. This was all more than he wanted to deal with. He swallowed and
busied himself with digging out some test booklets from his backpack.
--" she jerked her head toward the officer sitting in the hall, "-- is here to
protect you from her?"
"Yeah. Look, I'd rather not talk about this, okay?" Blair stood awkwardly, his face pained as he lifted a stack of the booklets.
smiled apologetically, noticing his discomfort with the personal turn the
conversation had taken. "I promise not to ask again. I'll wait until you tell
me. So, what have you got for me?"
With a look of relief flashing briefly across his face, Blair quickly smiled, handing her the test booklets while explaining what she needed to do.
Mike or Jim always around, Blair found he didn't like to go as many places as he
usually did, so for the next few weeks he spent most of his time either at the
loft or the university.
with his TA, who was a new grad student in the Anthro department at Rainier and
still learning her way around, Blair was getting to know Denise quite well. She
was an exceptional student, very intelligent, with a tremendous drive to
succeed. Any romantic inclinations he might have had toward her had dissolved
after that first day; the two seemed to make better friends than potential
romantic companions. Besides, Blair felt uncomfortable with the idea of becoming
involved with a student under his supervision. The feelings were reciprocated:
apparently, Denise felt friendly toward him, but nothing more.
however, was another story.
sentinel had come to see Blair, arriving while Denise was helping the teaching
fellow grade some papers. Denise had momentarily stepped down the hall, and
Blair was alone when Jim got there. Ellison had greeted Mike, offering to keep
an eye on Blair for a while so Mike could catch some lunch, then walked into the
office. Jim plopped down on the office couch, angled so he could keep an eye on
the hallway. "Hey, Darwin, how's academia?"
"Hey, Jim. It's a challenge, as usual," Blair glanced up to see his roommate intently watching someone walking toward the office. Denise. He recognized the look on his friend's face and knew what was running through Jim's mind. Oh man, she's a redhead! Jim's gonna be trouble. Blair couldn't help the smirk that spread across his face. Or a lot of fun!
stood, wary at the approach of a stranger, but obviously interested in getting
to know her better -- assuming she wasn't a threat to Sandburg -- when the woman
approached and entered Blair's office.
"Jim? Jim!" Blair called to get his friend's attention. The sentinel glanced at his partner, then back to the woman who stood comfortably in front of him.
smiled at the woman. "Denise, this is Detective Jim Ellison, the guy I told you
about, who I work with at the police department. Jim, this is Denise Breton, my
redhead smiled at Jim, and he returned it, his features lighting up. They shook
to meet you, I've heard so much about you," said Denise. "Blair can't stop
talking about his adventures with the Cascade Police."
pleasure to meet you, too, although you have me at a bit of a disadvantage since
Blair's failed to mention you." He shot Blair a look of reprimand at Blair,
which his friend responded to by shrugging innocently.
Jim. I guess I was so wrapped up in my classes, I forgot all about my brand new
assistant. I apologize to you, Denise, because you are far too important to
neglect, and I should be spreading your name far and wide," Blair finished by
flinging his arms open to indicate the entire room.
Denise started giggling, Jim murmured, "Well, you're spreading something, Chief,
but I don't think it's her name."
"Humph." Blair glared at his friend, arms akimbo.
laughed again, then grabbed some of the papers and sat on the other end of the
couch, red pen in hand, to resume grading.
next half hour, Jim talked with Blair, throwing occasional comments in Denise's
direction, hoping to distract her from her task. But the woman was intent on
grading and, other than polite responses, seemed oblivious to Jim's attempted
chatted with his friend as he filed some papers and cleaned off the top of his
desk. Jim seemed to get a bit disheartened at Denise's apparent lack of
interest, looking forlornly at his friend. Blair attempted to appear
sympathetic, but couldn't quite hide his grin.
seen the cop following Blair around and cringed. There'd be no way to reach him
without hurting someone or getting hurt herself. Neither was something she
wanted at this point.
had to be some way to get her hands on Sandburg. No matter where she went
in this city, she couldn't escape his pull, his power. Her hearing kept spiking
and centering in on his voice. She heard him once when he was at the loft, and
had "tuned into" three of his lectures so far. She kept focusing in on the
guide. This cemented her certainty that he belonged to her. She needed him.
wait them out.
It had been over three weeks with no sign of Alex. Blair was sick and tired of having a 'babysitter,' and Jim seemed to grow more irritable each day that passed with no news of Barnes. He wasn't able to sense her like he had the last time and therefore had no way of knowing if she was still around or had really left the city.
had a theory that Barnes had lost full "Sentinel Status," as it were, when she
returned to the temple's pool and fried her senses. Based on that idea, he
thought that Jim's inability to feel her presence was because she was no longer
a sentinel. This theory did nothing to curb Jim's anger or relax his worry. The
only thing that seemed to do that was to have control over Blair.
Jim was on an all-night stakeout with Simon, and he had barricaded his best friend in the loft with threats and guilt. Blair was resigned to a night of grading tests, since he had given a special assignment to Denise earlier in the day. He sat at the table, the laptop in front of him and a stack of bluebooks to his right. Moving the cursor using the touchpad, he tried to access the ' fact and issue' checklist he'd copied from his office computer, but an error message popped on the screen, informing him that the file was unreadable.
Damn! He needed that information to grade the exams. Slapping a palm on the table, he berated himself for not printing the sheets out. He'd thought he'd save a few trees and just work with the electronic version, but he should have known better than to put faith in a machine.
He'd promised the grades would
be posted the following morning, and hated to disappoint his students. Knowing
Jim would kill him, he dialed his friendís cell to tell him of his dilemma, but
he only got a busy signal. After two more tries with the same result, he decided
that a quick trip to his office was safe enough. And besides, he rationalized,
he would be back long before Jim returned, none the wiser.
Continue to Act 3