By Melinda Holley
Beta Read by Jewelle Sprite and Wolf
Written for PetFly by Harold Apter
internal thought in italics
"I don't want to hear it, Jim," Capt. Simon Banks firmly announced. He was standing at the door of his office, eyeing Detective Jim Ellison with a no-nonsense expression. "In fact, I've heard more than I care to about it." He waved a sheaf of papers in front of Jim's face. "Every week, as a matter of fact, I get a nicely typed memo informing me that your yearly physical is past due." He lowered his voice. "Three months past due!" he hissed.
"You were supposed to show up for your physical three months ago!" Banks exploded. "I can't keep putting them off forever. Now what's the problem?"
Jim looked around to make sure no one was close enough to hear his explanation, then lowered his voice. "My sentinel abilities, sir. All it would take is one suspicious doctor…"
Simon half-frowned. "Mmmm…I see what you mean. What if the doctor figures out you're not normal? I thought everyone knew that." His dark eyes twinkled at Jim's sour expression. "All right, I get your point. But isn't that the reason I have to put up with Sandburg? Let him figure out how to deal with it." He turned to enter his office. "Today, Ellison."
"Yes, sir," Jim sighed
Dr. Grant's Waiting Room
Blair Sandburg trotted as he tried to keep up with Jim's long stride. "We knew this was coming, Jim. You put it off as long as you could. We'll do the best we can."
Jim ignored the younger man as he flung the door to the waiting room open. Blair sighed and caught it to prevent it slamming shut.
"Excuse me?" Jim glanced at the shorter man. "What's this 'we' stuff?"
"Hey, I've got something at stake here." Blair grinned. "What if the world finds out about your sentinel abilities? There goes my thesis. The book. The movie rights."
"You're kidding, right?" Jim demanded.
Blair shrugged. "It could happen."
Jim missed the twinkling in his friend's eyes. Irritably, he approached the receptionist's desk. "My name is Jim Ellison. I have an appointment."
The young blonde-haired nurse smiled. "Please take a seat. Dr. Grant will be with you shortly." She handed him a clipboard and pen. "Please fill out the form. Both sides."
Jim silently nodded. He led Blair towards two empty seats. He absently nodded at the elderly couple who occupied two seats next to the wall. He started to fill out the form, then put the clipboard on his lap. He leaned closer to Blair and muttered, "What am I going to do, Sandburg?"
"Just stay calm," Blair urged. "Your body should respond normally to the tests as long as your senses don’t get…" He waved his hands in the air.
"Over stimulated?" Jim irritably finished.
"Exactly!" Blair smiled.
"And how do I prevent that from happening?" Ellison demanded in a low voice.
"You just gotta stay relaxed," Blair decided. "You need a mantra."
"A mantra?" Jim stared at the younger man in derision. "Like those people in the orange robes at the airport?"
"Come on, Jim. Open your mind a little, huh?" Blair complained. "Meditation is not only about spirituality. It also affects the body in many different ways." He lowered his voice. "Including the senses." He levered himself up in his chair until he could sit cross-legged in the seat. "Now don't fight me on this, okay? Work with me. I'm trying to help you." When Ellison curtly nodded, he smiled. "Now. Take a deep, cleansing breath. Like this." He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, held it for a few seconds, then slowly exhaled.
Jim looked at the older couple who were openly watching. "He's here for therapy."
"Breathe, Jim, " Blair ordered without opening his eyes.
Jim closed his eyes and began to breathe deeply.
"Good…good…now inhale and repeat after me," Blair softly murmured. "I am…"
"I am…" Jim repeated as he inhaled.
"Relaxed…and exhale," Blair ordered.
"Relaxed," Jim exhaled.
"Again," Blair softly ordered. He opened his eyes and watched his partner.
"I am…" Jim inhaled. "Relaxed." He exhaled.
"Working?" Blair quietly asked.
"Yeah." The surprise in Jim's voice couldn't be hidden. "It is. I am…" he inhaled. "Relaxed." He exhaled. "I am…" he inhaled.
"BOO!!!" Blair shouted as he lunged sideways at his partner.
Startled, Jim nearly jumped to his feet. The older couple also instinctively moved back in their seats. Catching his breath, Jim glared at the giggling anthropologist.
"I'm sorry, man. Really." Blair tried hard to control his laughter. "It's sort of a rite of passage when you first meditate, you know."
"I'll give you a rite of passage," Jim muttered under his breath.
The older man shook his head in disapproval although the older woman softly chuckled.
"Come on, man." Blair gently patted Jim's arm. "Let's start over. C'mon…"
Jim reluctantly closed his eyes. "I am…" he inhaled. "Relaxed." He exhaled. "I am…"
Dr. Grant's Examination Room
"Relaxed." Jim exhaled. "I am…" he inhaled. He opened his eyes and shivered. "Freezing!" He looked down at the loose gown then around for the thermostat. Finding it, he grimaced. "No wonder. Between this idiotic piece of paper I'm wearing and…" He leaned backward and to one side, reaching for the thermostat. He quickly turned back around when the door opened.
"Good afternoon, Detective Ellison. I'm Dr. Grant."
Jim appreciatively eyed the tall auburn-haired woman. Her white lab coat did nothing but emphasize her attractive body. "Dr. Grant," he greeted.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, studying the clipboard in her hand.
"No complaints," Jim quickly assured her. "Just the standard yearly physical."
"Hmmm…" Dr. Grant nodded. "Good. Glad to hear it." She smiled as she laid the clipboard on a nearby table. "We'll get started, then." She smiled. "I'm sure you've been through this before."
Jim grunted. "More times that I care to remember."
Dr. Grant warmed the stethoscope between her hands then placed it over Jim's heart. "Breathe, please."
I am…relaxed. I am…relaxed. Jim silently repeated the mantra as he followed the doctor's instructions to breathe, stand, hold out this arm, hold out that arm, turn left, turn right, and sit.
"Say 'ahhhh,'" Dr. Grant ordered.
"Ahhhhh," Jim sighed. He watched as the physician marked something on the clipboard. She reached for a pair of rubber gloves.
"You know, your dress matches your eyes, Doctor." He appreciatively eyed both the dress and eyes.
"Hmmm..mmmm," Dr. Grant answered. Her eyes, however, twinkled as she worked the gloves over her slim fingers. "Why don't you stand up for me?"
Jim sighed again. "My favorite part."
"Mine, too," Dr. Grant widely smiled. "This may hurt just a bit. But turn your head to the side and cough."
Not long afterwards, Jim was buttoning his shirt as Dr. Grant studied a chest x-ray.
"Your chest looks great," she offered.
Surprised, Jim glanced at her.
Dr. Grant's eyes twinkled. "I was referring to the x-ray, Detective." They exchanged a quick smile. "Actually, for your age, you're in great shape."
For my age?!? Jim's eyebrows rose.
"Except for one thing," Dr. Grant continued.
"What?" Jim asked in concern.
"Your ears," Dr. Grant answered.
"They've always been sensitive." Jim caught his breath.
"With all that wax in them, I'm surprised you can hear anything at all," Dr. Grant snorted. "Haven't things been sounding as though you're underwater?"
Jim half-shrugged. "I guess I've compensated for it."
Dr. Grant reached for a nearby instrument. "Well, when I get through with you, it'll be a whole new world. Have a seat, Detective."
"Look, my ears are fine," Jim protested. "Really."
"Tell you what." Dr. Grant smiled. "If you don't hear a difference, I'll owe you dinner." She indicated the examination table. "Sit."
Reluctant, Jim sat.
"Hold this for me." She handed Jim a cup to hold under his ear.
"Easy," Jim cautioned. "They're really sensitive."
Felinton Office Building – Downtown Cascade
It had been an unusual day in Cascade. A beautiful blue sky stretched as far as the eye could see with not a cloud in sight. Brent Marten sighed as he stared out the floor-to-ceiling window of the unfinished office building. He would have given anything to have been anywhere else…doing anything else. But he was a cop. A good cop.
He stiffened as he heard the nearby elevator doors open. So much for the idea of a beautiful sunset. He turned to see his colleague, Dave Brooks, calmly exit the elevator.
"What's up, Brent?" Brooks smiled. "Funny place for a meeting."
Marten shook his head. "This is serious, Dave. We have to talk."
Brooks shook his head. "So she finally told you, huh? I really thought she would keep her mouth shut."
"Leave Barbara out of this," Marten irritably replied. "She doesn't have anything to do with this."
"Get real, Brent," Brooks smirked. "This is me you're talking to, remember? Barbara's got a lot to do with this." He walked away and leaned against a nearby, unpainted wall. "What do you want?"
"End it," Marten quickly answered. "Now. Come with me."
Behind Marten, the door to a nearby stairway silently opened. A gloved hand kept the door from slamming shut.
"I'm afraid I can't do it, Brent," Brooks shook his head. "Why don't you just let sleeping dogs lie?"
"Because the dogs aren't sleeping, are they?" Marten angrily shot back.
The dark-clad figure from the stairs carefully walked down the corridor, staying close to the wall. Barely six feet behind Marten, the man looked over Marten's shoulder at Brooks.
"No," Brooks sighed after a moment of silence. "'Afraid not."
Marten saw Brooks slightly nod and started to spin around.
The dark-clad man quickly raised his pistol and slammed the butt-end against the side of Marten's head.
Stumbling, Marten fell against the wall. He shakily reached under his jacket for his gun.
Brooks quickly tackled Marten, sending the cop's gun sliding across the concrete floor. Another blow to Marten's head completed the assault.
Breathing heavily, Brooks retrieved Marten's gun.
"Chopper will be here close to midnight," the other man quietly said.
Brooks nodded. He brought out his handcuffs and secured Marten's hands behind his back. "Bring the drop cloths." He glanced around with a smile. "We wouldn't want to get blood splattered all over this nice room while we find out just what our friend, Brent, knows, now would we?"
The other man grinned and walked back towards the stairwell.
Brooks stood over Marten's unconscious body, then looked out the window at the brilliant sunset in the western sky. "Now that's pretty."
The Loft – Just Before 2AM
Oh the night…has a thousand eyes…
Why the words to that particular song kept playing in Jim's mind, he'd never know. But he automatically added, Not to mention a thousand sounds!
He stared up at the ceiling and cataloged the sounds for probably the thousandth time. Water dripping from the bathroom faucet in the apartment just beneath him. Car horns blaring at the intersection three blocks away. A radio playing some god-awful so-called music from the car parked at the corner. A pen scratching its way across a piece of paper.
Angrily, Jim threw the blankets back and got up. Pulling on a pair of sweatpants, he quickly walked down the stairs. Leaning over the back of the couch, he grabbed Blair's pen.
"Man!" Blair jumped in surprise. "I thought you were asleep! What's going on?"
"Do you have to write so damn loud?" Jim demanded as he tossed the pen onto the end table.
"Excuse me? Write so loud?" Blair shook his head. "Get a grip. Use the earplugs I gave you." He leaned over and grabbed his pen.
"I am wearing them!" Jim angrily pulled the earplugs from his ears.
Just then, Blair's alarm clock went off. Jim slapped his hands to his ears and winced. Blair smacked the alarm clock, silencing the shrill whine.
"Sorry," Blair apologized. "Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what I'm doing I forget to go to sleep."
Jim threw the earplugs onto the coffee table. The echo as they bounced on the polished wood caused him to wince. He sat on the opposite end of the couch and rested his head in his hands.
"Jim, you suffered from impacted wax," Blair softly explained. "It's no big deal. It happens to other people, too, you know." He ignored the glare thrown in his direction. "In your case, your sentinel hearing automatically compensated. Jim, we never knew just how powerful it actually is. You're just going to have to start at the beginning again."
"That's very encouraging, Sandburg," Jim grumbled. "Thanks so much."
"Come on, Jim," Blair encouraged. "You did it before. You can do it again. Your hearing is one of your greatest assets. And if you've only been using it at half-power, think what you can do!"
"Yeah. Spend the rest of my life tortured by dog whistles!" Jim snapped. He grabbed two throw pillows from the couch and clapped one over each ear.
Blair smothered a smile. Earaches are no fun for anybody. So it's probably worse for Jim. But…c'mon, man! He gently reached out and pulled one pillow away from the side of Jim's head. "Come on, Jim."
High Above Cascade
Brent Marten sat slumped against the side of the helicopter. Several streaks of blood crisscrossed his face. His left eye was swollen shut, and his jaw was definitely broken on the right side. Through narrowed eyes, he studied Brooks, who was looking out the window to his left. He held his gun loosely in his right hand. Marten's eyes flickered towards the back of the pilot's head. Where'd the other guy go?
Double-checking to make sure his sight wasn't playing tricks on him, he confirmed only he and Brooks were passengers on this ride. Must have stayed behind to clean up the place. He closed his eyes when Brooks turned to look at him. Patiently counting to twenty, he cautiously opened his eyes. Brooks' attention was again on the city lights below.
Forcing himself to act despite the pain shooting through his body, Marten suddenly kicked at Brooks' arm, knocking the gun to the floor. Snarling, Brooks met Marten's desperate lunge and threw him backwards.
Marten screamed as the passenger door flew open and he fell out of the helicopter.
"Dammit!" Brooks swore. He smacked the pilot on the shoulder. "Down! We've got to get the body!"
"Look, Jim…" Blair was repeating.
Jim sat up, startled, as he heard a piercing scream. "What the hell?"
"Jim?" Blair asked in concern. He watched as Jim flung open the front door, ran out into the hallway, and then continued down the stairway. "Jim!" he called out again as he followed his sentinel.
By the time Blair joined him moments later, Jim stood on the sidewalk, carefully listening. "Put your shoes on, man!" Blair ordered. When Jim automatically obeyed, he shoved Jim's jacket into his arms. "That, too!" Pulling on his own jacket, he looked around. "What's going on?"
"You didn't hear that scream?" Jim glanced at the younger man. "And the chopper?" He looked upwards at the moonless sky.
"Choppers fly over all the time, Jim," Blair patiently explained.
"And screams?" Jim demanded. He tilted his head to one side and spun around. "It's landing." He began running towards the bay.
"Jim!" Blair shouted.
Panting, Jim ran towards the water. Focusing his sight, he saw a helicopter land. One man jumped out and heaved a limp form back into the aircraft. He was still two blocks away when the helicopter quickly rose into the black sky. Reaching the deserted shoreline, Jim gasped for air as he followed the aircraft.
Desperately dragging air into his lungs, Blair joined his partner. "C'mon, man…what is…"
"Shh!" Jim held up a hand. In horror, he watched the helicopter hover over the bay. The door of the aircraft opened, and a body fell into the water. "Oh, my god! They just threw a body into the bay."
"What?" Blair gasped. "Where…" He vainly looked up at the black sky.
"It was a police chopper," Jim curtly interrupted. "But I couldn't make out the numbers."
"Are you sure?" Blair demanded.
Jim's eyes searched the nearby ground. He silently walked towards his left. "The body landed here."
"How can you tell that?" Blair asked with barely muted excitement. Oh, man, this is so cool!
"Depression in the ground. Heat pattern from the body," Jim absently explained. He nudged a nearby glove. "There's blood on the glove." He glared out at the water. "Son of a bitch," he muttered.