Categories > TV > Sentinel

Waking Dream

by queasy 1 review

What the title says.

Category: Sentinel - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Blair, Jim - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2005-06-26 - Updated: 2005-06-26 - 1797 words - Complete

Waking Dream

He was never quite certain if he was awake or dreaming at such times. There was never any transition between consciousness and sleep, only a kind of sense, awareness of where he was. Now he was in the jungle again, but he couldn't decide if it was vision or dream, or if it was his return to Cascade that was the dream and he'd never escaped the jungle to begin with.

He had never wholly escaped the jungle, he corrected himself, recognizing the familiar doubts that had plagued him ever since his long, enforced stint in Peru. He looked around the blue-tinted gloom, searching for the dark form of his spirit guide and whatever message it had for him this time.

A tiny, doggedly rational corner of his mind, the part which had gotten him his detective badge, his captain's bars, his degree, and any number of A's in school, began yammering about how all the jungle dreams (for of course they were dreams) were just products of his subconscious mind and not really significant unless one wanted to get Freudian about it. Just what kind of sick psyche went around killing best friends and endangered animals in his dreams he tried not to consider, but his reason intervened again to assure him it didn't really mean anything; he probably killed everyone and everything in his dreams and just didn't remember any of the others. It was not a comforting idea. He shoved the voice of reason to one side and searched for meaning.

He found the jaguar sleeping in a stand of pine trees, ears flicking as a branch overhead shed tiny, prickly needles. The air was cool and redolent of pine. Pines. Pine. Perhaps... perhaps the change reflected his new status as Sentinel of Cascade and not the Chopec in Peru?

A rustle, then a puppyish yip startled them both as a huge timber wolf bounded from the brush and dropped an artificial-smelling lemon in front of the jaguar, bushy tail waving blithely. /Hah! /said his voice of reason in triumph. He watched in sick fascination as the big cat batted the bright yellow fruit away irritably. The wolf looked from the rejected offering to the cat, seeming hurt and puzzled. Tentatively, it nosed the lemon back to the sleepy jaguar, which eyed the fruit with deep disapprobation and growled. The wolf visibly wilted, laying back its ears, lowering its tail and flattening its fur. He felt inexplicably sorry for it.

Mouthing the lemon gingerly, the wolf began to dig furiously at the base of one of the pines. It dropped the lemon in and buried it. It repeated the action several more times, until it had buried a lemon under every pine, and the air was lightly scented with pine and lemon. Apparently satisfied with itself, it began to sweep up pine needles with its bushy tail. The jaguar yawned, and began licking lazily at a black paw.

This was what he had in his subconscious?

The scent of pine and lemon drifted up to him from below. He squinted blearily at the pale golden rays slanting through the skylight and decided he was awake. A faint buzzing, snapping noise like static interacted fuzzily with the noises of daily life he was accustomed to, blurring everything to a muted, indistinct hum, and after some thought, he decided it was a white noise generator. He toyed briefly with the notion that some criminal mastermind, say, Brackett, or even Alex, had broken into the loft and done... something involving pine and lemons to Sandburg downstairs while he was sleeping, using a white-noise generator to cover the inevitable ruckus, but had to give up the fantasy as a lost cause as the smell of cooking eggs joined the pine and lemon.

If Brackett and his ilk hadn't done anything to the loft, then the kid must have done it himself. He rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, having managed to fall into bed only at three, but the artificially induced quiet bothered him. It kept him from checking up on stuff. Not knowing what was going on downstairs made him vaguely queasy.

Sighing, he kicked off the stifling blankets and rubbed sleep-sand from his eyes. His first weekend off in far too long, without having made any promises to run through mazes or prepared any camping disasters, and Sandburg had to spoil it by trying to not disturb him. "Chief, fix some for me too." he called, reaching round to switch off his alarm clock.

There was a brief pause, then with a click, clear sounds washed up to him. He savored the sudden clarity, then made his leisurely way down.

"Hey, you're up early," This was said with apparent good-humored surprise, as if his resident expert on all things Sentinel had truly expected his little gizmo to cover smells as well as sounds. Or that smells wouldn't wake him.

Pleased to find the table already set for two, he seated himself before the larger portion, sniffing appreciatively. Then he hesitated. Something was... not quite wrong... /different/. "What..." He looked around, trying to spot the problem, and found himself squinting in the brightness. "What did you do?"

"Guess." The younger man was grinning and almost bouncing, pleased with himself, and he suffered a sudden flashback to his dream, stifling an impulse to check for lemons under the rug, or maybe in the cabinets.

Pine... lemon... The loft sparkled, he realized, looking around in a state of half-shock. Not a stain, not a stray crumb, not a speck of dust was anywhere to be seen. He ran a finger lightly over the flawless tabletop. The entire place smelled pleasantly of lemon and pine, and so faintly of cleaning chemicals that Sandburg must have gone over everything with water at least twice afterwards. No heaps of stuff creeping from his room, no dropped hairs even. The hair in question was greased and gelled into a sticky clump, and tied in a neat ponytail. He stared. "What did you do?" he found himself repeating.

"I cleaned the loft! Sorted out my stuff, packed it all away." The stranger in his home made a sweeping gesture, encompassing the spaces where stuff used to be. "You won't believe how long it took to organize everything, even when most of it is still packed neatly in boxes." He winced slightly at that, but Blair continued, unfazed. "I scrubbed the bathroom with a toothbrush too! Look, isn't it clean?"

Indeed, the bathroom was also sparkling. Perhaps he was still dreaming.

Perhaps he was still in the jungle after all.

"Chief, it's your day off," he started hesitantly. "You've got nothing to grade, your lectures are prepared, and you don't have to go on a call with me. You haven't had a free day like this in ages."

"Absolutely," Blair was nodding enthusiastically. "I haven't been able to do any real cleaning in, like, forever. There were always too many things to do. These past few years have been really something, huh?"

"But it's your day off. And you scrubbed the bathroom. With a toothbrush."

"Well, yeah. I mean, I'd already finished cataloging my notes and tapes, and I saw the mess. I figured it must have been even worse for you, with your senses and all, so I started cleaning. And I found another moldy sandwich, man, I can't believe it! How did you stand it all this time? How did you miss it?"

He wanted to know that too. How had he missed a sandwich when he moved out all the furniture? Where had it been hiding?

"Chief." He looked around, at the spotless surfaces shining in the morning light, then at the earnest concern on the face of his friend and partner, still slightly haggard, and worn out after working for who knew how long to make the loft pleasant for him while he slept. "Blair. This is too much. You should have slept in, rested. You didn't have to..." He waved a hand vaguely, indicating the state of the loft.

"I needed to." Blair started to scrub a hand through his hair, tangled his fingers in the sticky mass and gave up, lowering his hand again. "I labeled all my research, but I never put it away. What was I thinking? I left it all just lying around. That's how Alex found out you were a sentinel too. I'm only surprised no one did that before. I need to do this while I can."

"Well, yeah, I'm all for putting the research material out of sight, but the loft, you didn't need to do that." He waved his hand again, squinting. It seemed... too bright. Too empty.

"But, Jim, your senses, the dust, the hair, all that /stuff/, man, it's gotta be driving you crazy!"

Right. At last he understood. He looked around the loft with new eyes, taking in all the differences. It was driving him crazy. Just not the way Blair expected. He glanced down at his plate. Even the eggs looked... clean. Sort of. But they wouldn't stay that way for long. Stuff would fly in and settle on them, they would interact with the environment and dry out, the smells would ripen, so to speak, bits of the eggs would themselves drift off and onto everything, kind of like Blair himself, scattering hair and stuff everywhere he went, and like his own stuff rubbed off and settled on Blair. All mixed up, like a family.

"You don't need to do all this, Chief. Really," he added earnestly, raising a hand to forestall Blair's incipient protest. "I'm... I'm used to having stuff around. The dust and all that, they diffuse the light, so it's not so sharp or bright. The old stuff, the hair," he took a deep breath, finally finding Blair's smells, both his own natural scents and his familiar toiletries through the pine and lemon. And eggs. And hair gel. And he could smell himself. He supposed he was lucky Blair hadn't come upstairs to try to wash him too. "They smell like home. Texture the smells, make things... /richer/. Like perfume. You know?" He looked at Blair hopefully.

The phone rang and he snatched at it, grateful for the distraction. "Ellison."

"Simon, it's my day off," he said, and abruptly realized he was still holding his fork. Blair stared at the eggs, and made to dispose of them. He made an abortive motion with the fork. "No! Just leave them. I was talking to Sandburg. All right, we're coming," he snapped, and replaced the handset.

Blair was grinning as he took the fork from Jim. And left the eggs on the table. "Smells like home. Right. I get it."

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