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Jim's Answering Machine

The answering machine is not Jim's voice, but a much bouncier, upbeat one of a different man.

"You've reached Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. We're not here right now, obviously. I can be contacted at Rainier University anthropology department. Jim can be contacted at Cascade PD, Major Crimes unit. Or you can leave a message and we'll get back to you, unless Jim accidentally deletes all the messages again."

for guidehimback

Jim woke with the familiar sensation of a body his arms and long hair curled in his fingers.

He didn't react for a long time because his senses told him everything was fine. No one strange, no sharp and sudden awakening, just his mind telling him everything was normal in his territory and his Guide was close.

A few minutes later, his waking mind rolled over to catch up with the fact his Guide was close. Too close.

He opened his eyes to see Blair's head tucked in against his chest hair swept back from his face by Jim's fingers.

He untangled his fingers slowly and gently. He shuffled out of Blair's arms, settling him comfortably into the futon. As he slid away, the ache start again in his ribs, the world sliding back into painful, too sharp focus as his senses kicked up into alert.

He went and got in the shower, leaving Blair to sleep.
Two days, and Jim was about ready to jump off the balcony for something to do. He was banned from cleaning. From fixing things. From doing anything that wasn't being still and healing.

Sleeping on the futon wasn't helping. He was sleeping, sure. Which was a step up. Until last night.

Last night, Blair had slept up in Jim's room. And Jim found himself not sleeping again. So in the morning, on the third day or enforced rest, Jim was cranky, bored and tired. And trying very hard not to take it out on Blair. Which meant making breakfast and morning coffee for them both.
Jim wasn't aware of anything.

He had been aware, until several second before, of the way the icy air dragged through his throat and lungs, scalding cold all the way down. He had been aware of the way the metal in his hand had warmed under his touch but was frozen not far away, as the sub-freezing temperature leeched heat from everything exposed to it.

There had been the shifting of feet through snow, crunching and cracking ice that was dancing pain through his temples with the irregular, sharp sound. Simon's voice near him a low drone that kept him from fading out on it all while he didn't have Blair here.

He had been the only one aware of the distinctive sound of a rifle being loaded, and the only one to see the flash of red across Simon's neck.

He had been aware of cold air as he flung himself across the red light and heard the snap crack of firing and then there was pain. Burning, heated, agonizing, mind numbering pain.

He wasn't aware when he hit the hood of the police car and skidded off under the force of the bullet into his captain. There was no reaction to the police storming the building or Simon and Megan dragging him off Simon and feeling for a bullet hole.

The kevlar saved his life, again, and instead snapped his already cracked ribs.

But he wasn't aware of that either.


Fifteen minutes later, Megan was standing outside the hospital, phone in hand and hoping that she could get through to Sandburg before the doctor's came back and decided there was a problem and admitted Jim for observation.

To Sleep

The first night, Jim blamed his cracked rib. He woke up constantly from the pain until he eventually dragged his doona and pillow down to the couch, stretching out with the heating pad against his chest and falling to slightly more steady sleep.

The second night he moved the heat pad upstairs to try and get a good night's sleep, only to find himself waking up. The pad was burning hot, his ribs ached, his feet were too cold. He went downstairs to get painkillers and finally managed to doze off fitfully in his armchair, watching Blair's feet twitch like a sleeping puppy's.

The third night he was out of explanations. He took painkillers before bed, he used the heating pad, but under a folded sheet to keep the heat even and mild, and he still woke up fifteen minutes later. And then five minutes after that. And ten minutes after that. And on and on for over two hours until he stomped back downstairs wearing his robe and put the kettle on, leaning his head against the central post while he listened to the kettle boil.

Tea made, he found himself gravitating to his room mate's doorway, watching him sleep while he sipped his tea. Watching and leaning became watching and sitting himself on the small chair that was for once free of books and clothes. He watched out the window for a while until his tea was finished, set the cup on a shelf and leaned his head back against the wall, closing his eyes.

And finally slept.


In Silence

He woke up because of the silence.

His eyes flew open, already half out of bed and stumbling towards the other bed in the room before his mind caught up and told him why he was panicking. There was silence, no heart beat, no rasping breath, nothing.

He turned Blair over, his face slack, his skin pale and lips blue and his flesh was cold, so cold against his hands as he cupped his face-

He woke up with a panicked cry, blankets kicked off and already sitting up in bed before he realised he was wrong.

He could hear him. He could hear him fine.
It might have been a dream.

He woke, but the world was faded blues and grays, like his dreams so often were. He slipped from his sleeping mat, past the tent opening and out into the jungle while the rest of the Chopec slept.

He walked deep, off paths and worn tracks and into the jungle proper, where only his machete and innate grace gave him access. Into the wilderness, the true wilderness, where it may be been decades since human foot trod.

He walked until he face a temple, ruined now but once glorious, snarling beasts framing the collapsed doorway. And still he was compelled on, by noises he could barely hear and yet were clear like an echo in his chest.

Until he saw it.

Standing in the eaves of the stones, looking into the darkness he saw the creature, primal and ancient; a muscled bulk that stood nearly as tall as he did and shifted in the darkness with near silent footfalls. It came up to the doorway, peering at him through the stones and it snarled, sharp, pointed fangs glistening too white in the faded moonlight.

He did not fear it. Anymore than he would his own reflection. He should’ve, but he couldn’t find it in him to fear.

Then it turned and walked away, long, muscled tail flicking behind it as it walked back into the darkness.

He did the same.

He walked back into the camp, to the tent he was sharing with Incacha. The shaman looked at him as he walked in, then nodded once. “The cat sees you, Sentinel.”

He woke up with the aching sense that he dreamed a memory... or it was a memory of a dream.

justprompts: Sanctuary

The rain was a heavy mist, faded blue and grey forest a fog about him.

What is your light?

He stood outside himself, watching himself sitting slumped against the stone ruins, eyes glassy and blank and staring, mouth slack and limbs heavy. The rain beaded on his skin, but he couldn’t feel it.

What is your light, Sentinel?

He looked about for the source of the words, the impression of words, not actual words spoken but he could hear them in his soul. His body didn’t react, and it reminded him chillingly of broken puppets and dead bodies and-


What stop your soul from darkening? What is your light?

It was almost like he didn’t feel anything at all. He saw his body but it meant nothing. He felt no water, no heartbeat. He tasted no water and smelt no forest. It was just a disconnection, hyper awareness of every little detail but so distant and drifting.

He heard a rasp.

What do you come back for?

A cough broke through. He felt it, rattling his chest, though it was his body that coughed as he watched. He felt his breath rasping in his chest. It ached. The rain was muggy, smothering and he was drowning in the air, just like-


He woke up with a start.

He could hear the steady beat of his guide’s heart, then another soft cough and moan as his breathing rattled wetly.

Silent, he slid from his bed, peering over the edge to check that he was safe, and well.

What is your light?

justprompts: Normal

Jim woke up to a world flooded with sensory data.

He could feel the silk of his boxers against his skin, a sharp contrast to the incredibly soft, four thousand count cotton sheets he was lying on. The air currents were normal, warmer up in his bedroom, cooler downstairs, all windows and doors closed and the only hint of outside the tiny gap under the front door that was a small breath of fresh, cool air.

He could smell himself faintly, sweat and soap and shampoo. There was spice in the air, last night's leftovers in the fridge still a bit too richly scented for him to cut out completely. He could smell the familiar richness of his guide downstairs, sweat and aftershave and herbs.

He didn't bother opening his eyes yet, he could already see light and shadow from his skylight telling him there was nothing moved up here, nothing visible that had changed in the shapes of his room.

Most importantly was the influx of sound. Dogs barking outside, people walking the streets, birds on the roof, the drain downstairs bubbling, a cough from two apartments over-

And the steady, even beat of Blair's heart. Everything else faded and Jim rolled over and went back to sleep without ever quite waking.

Normal was relative.

justprompts: A letter to your child self.

Dear Jimmy,

I know things are bad. I know you're wondering if your mother leaving was because of you and Stephen, and if your father hates you for it. You've lost a lot of important people and things feel like they're going to keep getting worse.

They'll get better, though. It might take time, but they will get better.

And more importantly, kid, you're not a freak, no matter what anyone says. One day, you'll start to believe that.