Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

I love AU stories. It's all about the first meeting. The initial discoveries and the mutual agreement to like each other no matter what the underlying reasons why. Guess that's why I love making new friends. The work to maintain a friendship is always a pleasure but it always comes back to how we first met.

Thanks to Starfox for the assistance offered and accepted and for giving my fantasy bubbles a place to exist.

Again, the boys are not mine in reality but in my dream world I manipulate their lives any way I chose.

ALTERNATIVE - THE SAME

by K-Lyn

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dr. Paskow reviewed the file on patient 1709-TD with complete indifference. The patient appeared to be intelligent and quite healthy. All tests administered returned negative. There was no real reason for his claims and yet he had not altered his story once. Hearing things that weren't there, smelling odors that were highly improbable and on and on. Paskow placed the file down and reached for another. His face now filled with hostility. Maybe the new resident pride and joy can review his file. Maybe, since they claim this young protégé is so highly intelligent, he can solve this patient's problem. If not Paskow would have one case unsolved by Mr. Long Haired Weirdo and maybe it would end the fanfare that followed the so-called genius around and people would take notice of the doctors, like himself, that were dedicated and efficient.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Patient 1709-TD sat quietly in his room. His bed made, his clothing immaculate and his posture rigid. It were the thoughts in his head that were in complete chaos. Any sane person shouldn't be able to hear the world beyond these padded walls, shouldn't be able to hear the birds singing, the ramblings of the other patients in the room next door, and any sane person should not be able to smell the foul odor of today's lunch menu from the cafeteria which was located three floors below.

Any sane person wouldn't be able to hear or smell these things - he had to be insane. Shunned by the staff, who practically ran out of his room because they considered his icy stare, unnerving and gratefully ignored by his fellow patients who seemed to sense that he was somehow strange.

Loneliness had become his constant companion and he welcomed it. He only wished death would follow soon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rainier University's newest owner of a PHD in psychology and whose thesis titled, 'The Study of Society and its Natural Pecking Order' which had been published in several magazines with requests for a further study, strolled through the campus excitedly. Blair Sandburg had received a call from the Dr. Paskow.

>"Mr. Sandburg, I think I have a patient which may interest you, please call me if you are still interested in furthering your study on the pecking order which occur within a closed society."

Although anthropology was still Blair's true area of expertise, doctorate pending, Sandburg faced being shunned by his peers for his outrageous belief in Sir Richard Burton's study on Sentinels. No one could be found to truly support or dispel any doubts about the validity of this particular type of individual which left Sandburg to conclude, at least at present, that with all the gadgets and techno trash surrounding today's society, normal man had become too lazy to attempt using his senses beyond sniffing the lunch set down before him.

Blair Sandburg had placed his studies on homo sapiens of the past aside in order to further his studies of the homo sapiens of the present due mainly to the real world's obsession with money and Sandburg's need to obtain materials for his now confidential agenda. He achieved his current level of education rather quickly and at 26 years of age Blair Sandburg was now a doctor with credentials to boot. His second area of interest.

The inner workings of the human mind fascinated him. Why people reacted the way they did to certain situations and how to help those who acted adversely was a passion of his. He loved helping others and he loved listening to people. Being a psychiatrist enabled him to do both and he did so with a great deal of enthusiasm.

Still he secretly hoped someday to complete his original research. Naomi always did instill a certain amount of hope in her son and Blair would never give in to the negativity that his peers often subjected him to. Besides this Neo-Hippie Jewish Dead Head was not going to let a bunch of close-minded stuff shirts dictate where his future would take him. At present, life was a lonely one, but one the young doctor would accept until his quests had been thoroughly satiated. Someday he would find a Sentinel.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dr. Paskow had arranged for a tour of the facilities and then some additional time for Dr. Sandburg to wander through the recreational area which would allow him to see the patients in their natural surroundings. 'Natural' indeed, thought Sandburg, some of these people need to be spoken to by a caring individual not sat in a corner with a chess board in front of them. Their life would improve greatly if someone simply reached out to them. Humans need interaction.

Sandburg smiled, knowing what his peers often thought of his methods and his devotion to the assistance of others. He was often called a fool because he cared so much but Sandburg didn't know how to be any other way and he had no plans to change. He was what he was and damn proud of it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He noticed the strange newcomer enter his area from his seat near the radiator. He knew better than to try to strike up a conversation with anyone. The last time he tried, he ended up in his room for apparently scaring a fellow patient. Only the occasional visits from his superior in the police department and friend, Simon Banks, provided some hope that a normal person could want to be his friend. But there were times when even Simon appeared a bit afraid to talk about his own personal life and his son Daryl. Maybe Simon thought trust had a limit and friendship could only go so far. It didn't matter, not really. Did it?

Slowly he stood and made his way towards the new "specialist". At first the guy appeared nervous and uncomfortable but at first everything about a new doc seemed out of place and overly cautious. This one appeared to be nothing more than a student, too young to be a regular physician. Long curly hair held by back by some sort of tie and tortoise shell glasses which gave the guy a quasi-professional look, but lost a great deal of credibility due to his overall appearance.

He cautiously glanced at the doctors' eyes and was a bit surprised to see something more than professional indifference. His eyes showed an individual who seemingly cared and wanted to help.

He had overheard dumb Dr. Paskow call this one a genius. "But that genius is going down". Ellison recognized the jealous tone in Dr. Paskow's voice but cared little about the hospital politics. Paskow was a disgusting individual who only wanted to help patients who were seen and never heard from. Often Paskow received his wish. The man knew how to get a 'job' done.

Help, sure. He thought sarcastically, The last four shrinks said they want to help and then either came close to overdoing the medication to silence me or just plain ignored me altogether after a week or so of stupid unnecessary questions that made me irritable. This guy was probably the same. Wasn't he?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He knew he was being watched but this was their world and he was merely a visitor. A visitor who wanted nothing more than to make things better for his prospective patient. Sandburg began to wonder which individual was his to care for. The file on his patient omitted a photograph and Sandburg wondered why Paskow had done so. His musing stopped and it was then that he noticed the tired, cold eyes gazing at him. This man is going through hell, he thought. Under his breath he uttered, "Whoever is caring for you needs to do better, I know I would."

Sandburg then flashed one of his best and warmest smiles at the cautious man before the patient abruptly turned and walked away. Blair watched the man exit and wished he had time to get to know the him and the trouble behind those extremely uncertain eyes. Maybe he could find out who his physician was and speak with them about the patient's care. There was no harm in trying.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Well Dr. Sandburg what do you think of the facilities?" asked a rather disinterested Dr. Paskow.

"Well, I can't say I'd want to give up my home to move in but the facility is quite adequate", Sandburg was not going to let another stuff-shirt try to ruin his outlook. He was here to try to make a difference, not because he had something to prove but because he wanted to help.

"Patient 1709-TD has proven to be quite a bit of a puzzle. He was a detective and a decorated officer in the military who spent some time, due to some sort of accident, in Peru with jungle natives. Separated from anything familiar and completely isolated from atypical civilization. He eventually was rescued."

"His career choice after that was to work as a detective for Cascade and excelled in his field, becoming one of the best, even saved a bus load of people from some bomber a while back. One of the passengers was a close relative of Cascade's Governor and because of this, Patient 1709-TD is being afforded the best of care and the utmost confidentiality."

Sandburg noticed the lack of feeling and the sarcastic way at which Dr. Paskow had presented the information about this individual. This patient was a man not a number; the man had a name. Paskow had already assumed that Sandburg hadn't read up on his future patient, feeling it necessary to repeat everything Sandburg had read in the file. Paskow obviously thought Blair only wanted to use this patient to prove something. Paskow was completely wrong.

Dr. Paskow continued droning on oblivious to Blair's apparent lack of attention, "You will be in complete charge of the patient and no one will have the right to countermand your decisions." The next statement was delivered with undisguised joy, "You, Dr. Sandburg, will be his physician and as such you are responsible if anything goes wrong."

Sandburg was adapt in the art of reading between the lines and knew that Dr. Paskow expected something to go wrong. Time would tell.

As the door to the extremely well padded and soundproofed room opened, Sandburg felt a lump form in his throat. The mystery was solved, cold blue eyes and a cautious manner belonging to the man Sandburg had seen earlier in the rec room now pinned him with a look that would give a polar bear frostbite.

Dr. Paskow saw the slight discomfort Dr. Sandburg was showing towards Patient 1709-TD and held back his smile. He is not going to last long, he thought smugly. "Well Dr. Sandburg, this is James Ellison." He stood and moved towards the door, "I will leave you to your work - he should prove to be quite a challenge."

Again Sandburg noted the sarcasm in Dr. Paskow's voice and the way he avoided going too close to the patient as he exited. Suddenly a terrible thought drifted into his mind - they wouldn't leave me alone with a patient if he were violent, would they? He quickly brushed the thought aside and softly spoke to the cold looking man who continued to stand before him.

Blair stood and smiled, "Hello Mr. Ellison, my name is Dr. Blair Sandburg. I am here to help." Then he gestured towards the chair beside him. Instead the man slumped into the chair opposite the doctor and nearest the door. Blair sighed and sat down.

"Mr. Ellison, perhaps we should begin with the reason you admitted yourself into this facility and what you expect from us." Sandburg read the official reason but wanted to hear this in Ellison's own words - if he spoke.

Ellison could hear Dr. Sandburg's heart beating, it was slightly elevated but he could also detect that this man had been telling the truth. So far. He wondered how long this guy was going to last. The heartbeat was slow and Ellison found himself listening closely to the change.

"Mr. Ellison?" Dr. Sandburg read about this somewhere, 'zoning' he thought it was called. He reached over and placed his hand on Ellison's wrist. "James, please I am offering my help. Please allow me inside. Let me try."

Ellison could hear the warmth in the man's voice as it seemed to pull him back into awareness. He then looked down and was startled to discover the comfort this man's voice created. Then he noted the hand on his wrist and hastily withdrew from the grasp. "Don't you ever touch me. Ever."

So he speaks. "Well that is a step in some direction", said a suddenly confident physician, "What else do you expect from your time here?"

"I expect to be left alone," said the still hostile man. "What are you anyway, a student? I need a doctor."

The cold tone in Ellison's voice was not missed by Sandburg yet this was not going to prevent him from continuing. "Mr. Ellison, James, may I call you James? Jim?" Sandburg was determined to find a common ground.

"Look, Chief, you can call me whatever you wish, makes no damn difference to me and in 3 or 4 weeks it won't matter to you either." There, thought Ellison, I said it now let the games begin.

"Why? Where am I going in three weeks?" Blair had known about Ellison's previous caregivers but this was not going to detour his objective. Ellison was talking and Blair felt his journey into the man's thoughts was just beginning.

"Look, I don't feel like continuing this anymore." He was tired, so very tired of life, loneliness, everything. "You have the file, it's all there. If you really want to help then go practice on someone else, you obviously can't help me. No one can." Ellison really didn't want this doctor to walk away and the feeling scared him. He felt a strange yearning for this man to somehow prove him wrong. Something told him that Dr. Sandburg was the one, but the wall had been built a long time ago and no one dared to try forcing it down. No one cared.

Blair stood up and slowly walked over to stand next to his patient. I can help you, he thought and then he placed his hand on Ellison's shoulder, "Let me try. Please."

In one fluid action Blair Sandburg was thrust up into the air and shoved against a wall, "Listen you neo-hippie witch doctor, I just want to be left alone. Understood? There is nothing, not one damn thing someone like you can do for me. Got that? Not a damn thing."

Sandburg was stunned, he had expected a reaction but not one as violent as this. Think fast Blair. He looked at the other man and saw fear. James Ellison was terrified. "Look Joe Friday, you need someone like me to help you." Where am I going with this? "Listen, I know about the time you spent in Peru, the isolation and the loneliness that a situation like that can produce - give me time and we will solve this. You and I. Together."

Slowly Sandburg's toes began to touch the ground. It was then that he let out the air he hadn't realized he was holding. "Ellison, Jim," Sandburg decided to use the man's first name to obliterate the emotional distance and to show he was not insincere, "I am not going to quit and you shouldn't either."

Ellison stepped back a bit, apparently stunned at his actions as well.

"Now let's get you back to your room." Sandburg was again surprised to find Jim not only released him but he followed without another word. The man wants help and I just need to keep trying.

He followed the doctor while he mulled over what had just happened. Not only hadn't the Doc backed down, but he insisted on walking him personally to his room. No guards, restraints or the threat of some calming medication, just two men walking down the hall.

He called me "Jim.". No one called me that anymore. At least not recently. The walk was amazingly silent and calming with only the sound of Sandburg's heart thrumming along. Ellison noted that the doc seemed a bit afraid but put up a good front. Obfuscation appeared to be the little guys' specialty. Yet he was obviously sincere about his offer to help. Maybe I'll see what he can do.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dr. Paskow waited for an hour; he just knew the 'Genius' would be begging to have a new assignment. Sure, Blair what would you like? The man who thinks he is a dog?

A half an hour later produced nothing but silence. Then ...

"Dr. Paskow, I will see you in the morning. Oh, and thanks for your assistance earlier." He never received a response; the other was too shocked to come up with anything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was 9 a.m. and as usual Ellison was pacing in his room. He was accustomed to a morning jog followed by a bit of weightlifting. Being an ex-military man, it was something he had accepted as part of his routine and so he made due with what he could. Sit-ups, push-ups and pacing.

Soon breakfast would be delivered which always consisted of some kind of fruit flavored oatmeal, toast, juice and some 'happy' pills which had been prescribed by Ellison's last doctor. Ellison never took them since he recently discovered that they were pills made simply from sugar - placebos.

He didn't need to be pacified, he needed help but who listened to the ranting of a mad man.

At 9:30 a.m. the door to his room slowly opened accompanied by a --- knock?

"Hi, Jim," said an extremely jolly Dr. Sandburg, "I hope you don't mind the intrusion on your usual schedule but I really hate to eat alone and I thought you might like the company, you know a change of pace?"

God, thought Jim, this guy is really unorthodox. Secretly, Ellison admitted that the man was at least entertaining, a little amusing and he kind of liked the sudden, albeit strange, attention. "O.K. Chief. Please, have a seat."

Sandburg almost dropped his tray in surprise. He simply couldn't believe it. Did he see laughter in those cold eyes? Did he just hear 'please'? Just go with it. He thought and instead of sitting on the offered chair, he sat on the bed beside Jim. "I stopped off this morning and brought some breakfast from the deli down the block." Slowly he placed the wrapped food on the already made up bed.

"I got 2 glazed donuts and some of those breakfast sandwiches." He looked at Jim and smiled, "Go ahead and take one or two, I'm partial to the breakfast sandwich." He smiled inwardly as Ellison scooted a bit closer and looked at the food on the bed.

"Oh yeah, brought a large coffee and a large orange juice, fresh squeezed. Makes no difference to me what you pick, I'm easy."

Ellison was completely stunned. His mind soon flooded with many questions and thoughts. Isn't this against some rule? Why is this guy treating me like a normal person? God, I miss coffee. Why? Then he paused. Maybe there is medication in the food. He tilted his head slightly and began to take in the scent of the food before him. He paused again and realized that the man beside him had been true to his word. Breakfast it was.

Without further hesitation, James Ellison began to eat the best breakfast, hell, the best meal he had ever had in what seemed like a decade.

It worked, Sandburg could barely stop a smile, Now my friend, let's see if you are willing to listen.

"Jim, I am a bit new at this whole doctor-patient relationship thing. So I would feel better if, for now, I could ask you a few questions and you tell me whether or not you feel like answering them." Sandburg paused for a moment and then added, "No judgments man, just a simple answer. You decide if you want to elaborate."

Ellison considered the idea and then nodded thinking that this guy was either really naïve or extremely calculating. 'Probably into inkblots and the old 'What color is the universe in your world?'

"Cool, so when did the problems with your senses begin? Your file indicated a week before you admitted yourself into the hospital but what exactly triggered the change?"

"It began while I was on stake-out. It was a very rural area. Things like the sound of a birds wings, cars on a road located 6 miles from where I was, it all just started becoming too noisy, distracting. I could hear all of this. Then the odor from the area around me began to become stronger, so overwhelming." Ellison shuddered at the still very vivid memory and wondered if, when he had the choice, he should have eaten a bullet. He was crazy. Wasn't he?

He looked into the eyes of Dr. Sandburg and realized that he didn't see any skepticism. Instead the eyes held interest and compassion. This man appeared to understand him and knew the right questions to ask. Was he for real?

"Jim", Sandburg wanted to supply the man with answers but was concerned that Ellison was not prepared to hear it all at once. It was an answer that needed a willingness to open ones mind to possibilities outside of the world today. He considered another form of action, "I searched your file and there is nothing in it that says you can't go for a walk outdoors. Are you afraid of being inundated with more of these experiences and prefer to stay indoors out of self preservation?"

"Yes."

"Jim," Slowly. Carefully. "If I told you that I know what your problem is, that I could help you but that the answer to the situation is so unbelievable to the common man that it might scare you. Well, would you at least hear me out? Listen with an open mind."

"I-I would try." Ellison suddenly felt - hope. What if?

"Good, I need for you to go outdoors with me. Can you do that?" Sandburg began to see a small glimmer of hope in the eyes of the man before him. God, he just couldn't let him down.

"Today? Now?"

"Yes."

Ellison looked around his room and knew he never turned away from a test of any kind. He stood and looked down at the doctor, "Let's do it Chief."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For several days the two walked out of the building. Stunning many in the hospital but amazing Sandburg's peers.

Dr. Paskow was not one of the amazed. He had noticed Dr. Sandburg emerge from Ellison's room. Ellison following close behind the smaller man. Ellison's body language seemed to be changing and was a bit less tense, almost protective.

"Damn," mumbled Paskow, "the Jewish hippie solved the riddle and in just under a week."

Ellison heard the comment but forced himself not to react. He never did like that self-loving bastard. The man boasted about his own accomplishments and how Ellison needed to see reason, then when the so-called doctor grew bored he would administer a sedative. A quiet patient was a cooperative patient. For the most part the medicine made things worse. Often Ellison was left in pain and screamed out for help but no one heard the sounds his brain tried to make. He had been trapped in his own body and in a world of pain.

Sandburg was about to exit the building when he noted that Ellison was hesitating. Slowly he reached out and lightly placed his hand on Jim's elbow. "Jim?" Sandburg's voice was barely audible to himself but Ellison looked at him and tilted his head, "Come on, it's a nice day."

Jim felt such warmth behind those words. It was always a nice day whenever the doctor stopped by. Could he trust anyone again?

The tests were easy, Sandburg never pushed but was insistent and Ellison found himself reluctantly doing as the man asked.

Cascade was in rare form that late morning. The sun was warm and not a cloud in the sky. Sandburg had Jim locate and smell flowers behind the area where they stood. Feel the indentations in the leaves. Read a note on a small piece of paper that was placed a block away. Ellison normally would have been appalled at being able to read at such a great distance but found himself smiling as he read the message. "See you are not crazy and neither am I."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sandburg sat on a bench beneath a tree as Ellison hesitantly slid next to him in 'their' spot as the doctor refereed to it. From within the building, Dr. Paskow watched all of this and grew angrier by the second. The guy breezed into this hospital and in two short visits he had the walking dead doing tests and talking when the zombie had baffled doctors with more experience. Doctors who deserved accolades for this sort of accomplishment.

Outdoors, Sandburg had no knowledge of the jealousy projected towards him and his patient. He had found his holy grail. Taking a deep breath, hoping this would be the easy part but taking precaution to go slowly, he spoke, "Jim, when I began my life as an academic, I started out as an anthropologist major. I researched a type of man almost unheard of in today's society. Genetically he was superior but today this man would appear to be an oddity. A researcher by the name of Sir Richard Burton, not the actor, called this type of man a Sentinel. He would guard the tribe using his senses. Changes in the weather, enemy scouts encroaching on his tribe were easily defended against because of the gifts this man had." Blair tilted his head and smiled, "You, my friend, appear to be the embodiment of this type of individual."

"If this is all true, why did it all start up so suddenly and how can I stop it from occurring again?" Ellison knew he shouldn't grasp at something so totally unrealistic. It wasn't rational but it seemed plausible and answered so many questions. Could this guy be right? Could he have the answers?

"First, your senses were something you were born with and had become latent for some reason we can look into. I haven't any idea how to turn them off, but I can help you to control them. If you want, that is." Sandburg could barely contain his excitement but, understood that he also couldn't afford to scare the already stressed out man further and he would not push. I need him as much as he needs me.

"I don't know. What you are saying makes sense but it has been such a long time since anything made any real sense to me." He paused and then had a thought. "You're not testing me to see how far off the deep end I am are you?"

Slowly Sandburg slid closer to Jim, leaving only a thin space between them, "Listen to my heart beating." Cautiously the doctor placed his hand on Ellison's wrist, "Feel the temperature in my body and look at my eyes."

Ellison followed the command as though he had no other choice. The trust and amount of caring reflected in those topaz colored eyes was astonishing.

"I am not lying to you. I never will. Please try to believe in that."

Ellison knew that Sandburg wasn't lying before he had asked the question. The doctor held the truth in the warm tones of his voice. God, I do trust him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Dr. Sandburg what the hell is going on here?" Dr. Paskow would discredit this hippie freak by any means possible. "This is not a pick-up joint for you to seek out probable mates for sexual advances. This is an accredited hospital."

The man continued to indulge in his insults never noticing that somewhere deep within James Ellison something began to come to light. Something that would not be ignored.

Paskow reached out and grabbed Sandburg by the collar. "You do not come into my hospital and make sexual advances to the mentally challenged. This man is in need of extensive medical assistance and your groping him is not helping."

Sandburg was shocked. Had this Paskow lost his mind? "Doctor release me or ..."

Paskow lost control. This piece of crap was not going to tell him what he could and could not do. He pulled back to punch the kid but his fist never moved forward. Instead, his fist was held in the air by the patient in question and Dr. Paskow now gazed into the eyes of an almost soulless monster.

"Try that again and I will have you up on charges for striking a resident, slander and anything else I can come up with." Never before had Ellison felt such uncontrolled anger nor had he ever felt completely compelled to protect anyone. Who was Sandburg and - Why?

Two rather large orderlies suddenly made their way across the garden toting several restraints. They reached for the patient and Ellison fought to avoid capture. Suddenly, Sandburg leapt onto one of the orderlies who ignored his initial pleas to stop the attack on his patient. He was now forced to get physical.

Ellison had just shoved away one of the orderlies and turned in time to see the other orderly strike Sandburg.

As if in slow motion he watched as Sandburg's body rose up into the air and impacted head first against the tree behind them. Slowly his body slumped to the ground, leaving a small trail of blood on the bark of the tree.

"Nooo!!!" Ellison shoved past the persistent hands trying to restrain him and ran to his - - friend's? - - - side, gently cradling the man's head in his lap. "Please Blair I need you, I-I trust you." Ellison slowly felt the internal walls begin to crumble. His heart began racing. It was so easy. Why hadn't anyone else been willing to help him? What would he do if Blair couldn't continue to help him? Not now. Please not now.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"What the hell is happening here?" Simon Banks hadn't planned on visiting Ellison today but he had received a call late last night from a rather excitable Dr. Sandburg who believed that he knew what Ellison's problem was and that Banks' best detective was indeed very sane. Dr. Sandburg had apologized for the late call but Ellison's file had listed Simon as his only friend and confidante and he had questions that needed some answers.

The doctor then requested that Simon come in for a visit and so they could meet. Due to the Mayor's breakfast meeting Banks' was a bit late and, unfortunately for one Dr. Paskow and two orderlies, Simon was currently in a very surly mood.

Ellison hadn't heard his friend's voice; in fact he couldn't hear anything except the beating of his doctor's heart. It had grown so faint, and Blair's breathing had slowed and become somewhat labored. Ellison slowly slipped into a "zone out" and steadily began joining Blair's fate as his heart slowed to match that of the doctors.

Simon quickly assessed the situation, determined that the injured man on the ground was Dr. Sandburg and called for assistance on his cell phone. Meanwhile Paskow and the two orderlies backed off but made no move to leave. No one ever gave a damn about these patients. Now suddenly something changed and the medical staff had no idea how to proceed.

Security soon joined the fray along with more medical staff. Simon tried to get Ellison to let go of the doctor, to speak and give a report on the situation but the detective held on tightly the hand of his doctor and appeared to be incapable of hearing anyone.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sandburg could feel strong arms surrounding him protectively, his hand held tightly and he had the vague feeling of security as he lay there. His eyes slowly began to focus just as he took a deep breath and he gazed into the now warm blue eyes of James Ellison. He smiled but quickly frowned when the other didn't respond. He soon realized that his patient was hardly breathing. "Jim? C'mon big guy, wake up. I am o-kay and you are too." His other hand reached up and touched Jim's cool cheek. "Jim, do me a favor - breathe in."

Jim was safe, he could hear the voice calling and he knew that the voice was there to help. He could trust this man. Trust and protect him with his own life. With confidence James Ellison took control and made a choice, he breathed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Time healed all wounds.

Dr. Paskow was brought up on charges of abusing the use of medication on patients in his care. Some of who had become severely brain damaged because of his negligence. The doctor had no other alternative, he pled insanity and was hoisted upon his own petard swimming in a sea of medicated nothingness.

Ellison eventually returned to his old position due to the enormous favor Cascade's Governor still felt he owed the detective and insuring the man that his stay in the mental institute would appear as though it were some elaborate scheme to ferret out Dr. Paskow and his poor medical procedures. No one would question the Governor and once Ellison's arrest rate excelled no one questioned anyone.

Simon had gained a veritable organic crime machine and new respect for the man he never stopped calling friend. He also gained another friend, although he was still trying to deal with this particular personal trauma.

Dr. Blair Sandburg became Cascade P.D.'s resident observer on the field and part-time psychiatrist for the department. The anthropologist also published a paper on the 'Pecking Order Within a Closed Society' and another paper on the long forgotten 'Sentinels of Mankind - Myths No Longer' thus spurring an organization founded on the belief that man must separate himself from the techno trash of the 20th century in order to exist in the future.

Ellison and Sandburg formed a friendship that seemed to be unique but a friendship to be envied and admired by all. They were inseparable on the field and a force to be reckoned with. Sure Sandburg still got into a few too many close calls but Ellison was always there to give him a hand just as Sandburg was there to guide his friend through the various challenges brought on by Ellison's enhanced abilities. It appeared as though this had been a part of their destiny. Neither opposed their fate - no normal man would.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The loft these two inhabited was slightly up scaled thanks to the combined earnings of the two successful men. It overlooked the city and was located close to the department and to Rainier University where Dr. Sandburg occasionally taught classes on his views regarding today's society.

It seemed to share a living area, a home together. A place where both shared secrets, laughs and tears. The loft just - worked and neither man would have it any other way.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Chief, you ever wonder what would have happened if you had found me before the whole hospital incident?" Ellison reclined onto the couch suddenly introspective after a very satisfying day of chasing the bad guys and winning.

"Jim, something tells me you're stuck with me no matter what." Replied a rather comfortably seated doctor from the other sofa.

"Wouldn't have it any other way." Ellison hesitated, this man who sat across from him gave him access to his own sanity, offered a kinship of sorts and a reason to continue in life. This man had become his friend, unorganized roommate, doctor, guide, brother, and a whole lot more. "Blair?"

Sandburg heard the tone and quickly moved and sat beside his friend, "What is it big guy?"

Smiling through the tear filled eyes he responded, "Thanks for being there."

"James Ellison, where else would I be?" Then Sandburg reached out and gave his friend a hug. Later satisfied to sit near his brother by choice. Blair smiled, "Hey ever wonder what would have happened if I had the enhanced senses and you were the academic?"

Jim gave the question some serious thought and then replied, "I would be there for you too."

Blair smiled at the fact that no difference could change their lives. They would always remain as they were. "Thanks Jim."

"No problem Chief."

The alternative equation remains the same. Thank God!!!

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