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.

Author's note - I borrowed the name of the lake in this story from that most excellent story 'Through a Window Darkly' by Robyn. It's at http://www.kelesa.net/fanfic/window1.htm {this link may not work, but the Television City site is well worth a look, almost as good as Starfox's Mansion. J

Warning: reality has gone for yet another quick walk around the block! <G>

Rafe Says

by Shedoc

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"So there we were - the three of us in a boat on Ice Lake. Granted it's summer - so there's no ice, but that place is cold anyway so we're wearing long sleeved tops and trousers. All except for Jim, who's a lunatic and wearing shorts! It's good weather for fishing, although there are storms predicted for this area tomorrow - big surprise, rain is the most common weather in our neck of the woods. Oh, that was a joke.

Maybe his Sentinel abilities are why he doesn't feel the cold - or maybe he's just one of those people who is always warm despite what they're wearing. Blair is the exact opposite - he's wearing like two layers of flannel and heavy jeans and boots. He's also got his winter jacket on the seat next to him. Jim was teasing him that if he fell overboard we'd just let him sink and he could walk along the bottom of the lake to get ashore.

I thought that was pretty heartless, you know? The poor guy drowned once - water isn't exactly his friend. Or that's what I thought at the time.

It was Blair's idea that we go fishing. Originally Brown and Taggert were coming with us but Taggert's wife caught cold and he wanted to take care of her and Brown's girlfriend suggested a get away for the two of them so it was just the three of us, fishing Ice Lake in this boat that was too small to be a cruiser but too big to be a dingy.

Jim's teasing Blair and I join in. The kid takes it all with a grin and then turns the tables on us and has us backed into a verbal corner in the matter of minutes. We're not dumb - we tell him to shut up before his talking scares away the fish and he smirks at us before casting his line over the side.

We're letting the boat drift. We got right out into the middle of the lake and then cut the engine. Blair has locked our rudder over to hard port so we kind of float in an ever widening circle to the shore. Before lunch he's bundled up in his winter coat and wearing gloves as well. Jim moves sort of casually to sit in a spot to provide shelter from the wind and Blair hunches into the windbreak with a smile and a touch of his hand to Jim's back.

That simple touch drains all the tension out of Jim's shoulders. We've had a rough couple of weeks - you know what's been going on. This fishing thing was Blair's way to get us to relax. He's always doing that stuff. Remember the time he called all our wives and girlfriends and got them to organize a picnic dinner in the park - all our families together and a ball game afterwards. I didn't realize it back then, but Blair really puts a lot of thought into taking care of us - the guy is always helping us remember that life goes on outside of work and I think we're a better team because of it.

Anyway that touch? It makes me wonder if Jim is relaxing because he's out here fishing and not catching crooks or if it's because Blair is his Guide. Physically they are exact opposites. Jim is tall and has bundles of muscles. He's got short hair, military bearing and a very scary 'I'm-a-badass-don't-mess-with-me' attitude. He's never cold and hard to read - your guess is as good as mine what goes on in his head. Blair is short, long curly hair and dresses in grunge despite the department dress code. He's slim - got a runners build really. He's always telling you what he's thinking - not his opinions though. The guy is painfully modest. He's always cold - even on the hottest day in Cascade the guy wears trousers, not shorts. His attitude is open and friendly - people just warm to him instantly. If they don't we lock them up - they usually turn out to be some kind of criminal.

The only thing they have in common is their protectiveness for each other. The Sentinel-Guide thing is a part of that I guess. Jim goes ballistic in front of the world if Blair is threatened or hurt. We all know better than to mess with Blair - though he's more than capable of defending himself. Three years on the job, unarmed and unpaid proved that to anyone with half a brain and one eye open. But what most people don't realize how protective Blair is of Jim. The guy is always on the lookout for stuff that will send the Sentinel trouble and removing it. Not to mention the amount of times he's been hurt in the field protecting the Sentinel. And the whole thesis mess? Wow - I wish someone cared for me just a tenth of what Blair does for Jim.

Ok, I'll get to the point. Keep your shirt on, ok?

We're fishing. It's a beautiful day. Blair got shot here once but he doesn't let it get him down. Like the drowning thing - I guess he's too alive to let death slow him down.

Anyway, we have lunch in the boat and Jim steers us back to the middle of the lake and we fish again for a while. At least Jim and I do, Blair pulls out a book and sits up in the prow to read it. It's getting pretty windy though so he scoots right down below the guns'ul. After a while Jim nods at and grins at me - Blair's gone to sleep, all huddled up in a ball. We use the Polaroid to take a couple of pictures for the notice board at work and go back to fishing.

At about three we're thinking of packing it in when Blair gives out this horrible scream and lurches up. Jim drops his rod into the boat and grabs for Blair who is yelling about a storm and how we have to get out of here like right now. Jim settles Blair down and I look around at the sky. There's a big bank of black clouds piling over the mountains at the other end of the lake. I point them out to Jim and he swears, winds in his line and heads for the motor. I'm winding in too, and Blair is sitting down, a lot calmer and a little embarrassed at over reacting.

The motor catches and my line rips out of my hand, feeding itself through the prop and breaking the blades. I swear because I think I broke a finger or two and Jim swears because the damaged motor cuts out and won't start again. Blair starts to splint my fingers together while Jim makes sure the motor is off before hauling it up a bit to check on it.

We decided we'll have to row and the clouds are getting closer so Jim and Blair take an oar each and start pulling. It's getting darker now and a lot colder. Blair shrugs his jacket off and drapes it over my legs and I'm grateful for the warmth because the wind has a real edge to it now. The lake is getting pretty choppy and I can see how hard it is to row for the guys now. They're gasping for breath and dripping sweat and red in the face.

Then the wind grips the boat and us flips.

I mean flips. Right over. I hit the guns'ul on the way and the pain in my ribs just won't quit. The water is freezing and that steals my breath and I have to really fight to get up to the surface now. I come up and see the overturned boat - thank God it's not to far away. I manage to swim over to it and grab a hold. I yell, but there's no answer from Jim or Blair.

Jim's teasing hits me full force and I realize Blair is probably at the bottom of the lake by now - for real. I go a little nuts, yelling and screaming and as if in answer Blair surfaces a few yards away. He takes a deep breath before going under again and I want to let go of the boat and help, but my ribs stop me. I barely manage to grab hold again as I resurface and I swear at God - who I'll apologize to later, you'd better believe it.

Then Blair resurfaces again and this time he's got Jim - who's unconscious. The Sentinel must have taken a good hit to the head, and Blair went after him. The kid's got guts - you gotta give him that. He gets to the boat and grabs hold. Thank God it was a flat-bottomed boat because he boosts me up onto the hull and then I help drag Jim up too.

Jim's still breathing, but his head wound looks awful and Blair bites his lips. He's still in the water and shaking so hard with cold that the boat is almost rocking, but there's no room for him up on top with Jim and me sprawled out like we are. Blair tells me to share some body heat with Jim. The cooler floats past and he rescues it, handing it up and telling me to use it like a wind block. I remember how Jim did that and it works a little - at this point anything is better than nothing is.

Blair is shaking and mumbling. His face is really out of it and I try to reach over Jim to grab the kids' hand so he won't be lost. He convulses before I can reach him and slips away from the boat. I scream and lunge but it's too late and my body hurts too much for me to go after him. I know Blair wouldn't want me to die trying to save him - leaving Jim alone and unprotected. I pull Jim close and wonder what to tell the poor man - after all they lived through Blair drowns again and this time there's not even a body to fight for.

Then there's a splash and Blair rises up out of the water - I swear to God - still mumbling and shaking. He has the boat's line in his hand and he leans back, kind of digging his heels in. The line goes taut and the boat starts to follow as Blair walks backward, pulling as he goes. Jim stirs against me a little and he reaches out for Blair before passing out again.

And Blair just keeps right on pulling until we reach the shore and the boat is dragged up out of the water. He gets Jim into the truck and then me, and turns on the engine to get the heater working. He's shaking so hard the whole truck is vibrating. He manages to get the radio mike in his hand and calls for help.

They take us here and separate us for treatment. It's nice to be warm again and they got them some mighty fine drugs in this hospital too. Want some?"

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"This seems to be a habit, Captain Banks. We meet again."

"Don't take this the wrong way Doc, but I had hoped not to be in here again. How are my men?"

"Detective Ellison has a pretty nasty concussion, but he'll recover from that. Detective Rafe has indeed broken a few ribs and two fingers on his left hand. All three of them were hypothermic and suffering from exposure too, but they'll recover from that. Don't be concerned by Detective Rafe's story, Captain. I'd say the water wasn't as deep as he originally thought and Detective Sandburg was able to walk on the bottom to tow the boat ashore. And the whole superman thing is merely a mild bout of delirium."

"And Detective Sandburg? I understand he spent the longest time in and under the water."

"He's got a few difficulties breathing at the moment. The previous drowning left him more vulnerable to lung infections. At the moment we're looking at bronchitis and we're dosing him pretty strongly with various medicines to keep pneumonia from developing."

"Damn. Poor kid - they just can't catch a break."

"We recovered these pictures from Detective Ellison's clothes, Captain. Perhaps you could hold them until they are recovered?"

"<Disgruntled tones> Look at this fish - at least they caught something out there. <Chuckle> And this one is definitely going on the notice board!"

End J

Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail Shedoc.