Making The Guide Y2K Compliant
The two men returned home from an unusually exhausting day. Det. James Ellison of the Cascade Police Department had chased and apprehended a man suspected of killing several geriatric patients while they slept in their rooms at the Cascade Memorial Hospital. Unknown to most people except those closest to the detective, James Ellison was gifted with highly enhanced sensory perception - he was a Sentinel. In other words, when the murder suspect entered Cascade Memorial, Ellison was alerted to his presence by picking up the sounds from the leather shoes he wore, shoes he wore when he eluded the detective earlier. When the suspect gave chase through the busy streets, Ellison was able to locate and follow the suspects' automobile by simply spotting the car from five blocks away. Of course Ellison was also simply human and when the suspect continued his attempt to avoid arrest on foot Ellison chased the man seven miles into the Cascade forest preserve. A tiring but not impossible feat for the former ranger who was still in top physical form. Naturally, the suspect was apprehended, never knowing that it was his squeaky shoes that gave him away.
To be Det. Ellison's partner, one would have to be special. Knowing that Ellison was a Sentinel was a secret to be protected, people in the government, criminals and your basic in-for-themselves types would love to kidnap someone with these gifts and benefit from their advantages.
Besides being trustworthy, Ellison's partner would have to be very patient when dealing with a man who liked doing things his way and was accustomed to getting it as well. Aside from these two very important traits Ellison's partner needed to help when the Sentinel became so focused on one sense that everything else ceased to exist. He or she would have to be healthy, brave and good at typing up reports. Blair Sandburg fit the bill.
Sandburg was Ellison's Guide, roommate and partner. Sandburg was ten years younger than Ellison, an anthropologist who had been recently reinstated at Rainier University and was working on completing his work towards obtaining his Phd. in Anthropology. Sandburg studied Sentinels for his dissertation and fate somehow brought on a chance meeting between he and Det. Ellison.
The two men were as different as night and day but overcame their differences and learned to accept and even enjoy a friendship that was sometimes envied by those around them. Sandburg had become an Official Consultant to the Major Crimes Unit at Cascade P.D., a graduate of the Cascade Police Academy, expert marksman as well as Det. Ellison's full and official partner. It was his personal choice to not carry a gun and it was this choice that caused the department to create his title and allow him to continue as Ellison's now official partner. He was also the only person Ellison completely trusted with his life, all of his secrets and even with whom he willingly shared his home. Sandburg had effectively become Ellison's confidante, partner, mentor and kid brother. They were family.
So when Ellison chased the suspect in his truck and defied some basic laws of gravity, it was Sandburg who accompanied him secure in the knowledge that he had tightened his seatbelt. When Ellison chased the suspect on foot, running seven miles over rough terrain, it was his now somewhat badly scraped partner who assisted in tracking the man, watching out for his welfare.
Two hours after the fact, the two men entered the loft, carrying Chinese take-out and each taking turns for a quick shower and then dinner.
After the meal had been eaten and the dishes cleaned, the two headed to the couches to relax and to watch a good movie on cable. Tonight's agreed upon feature was The Matrix, starring Keanu Reeves.
As the movie ended Ellison noticed his younger friend becoming slightly agitated. When he asked why, the kid side-stepped the question and headed to his room. Ellison turned out the lights and decided that the kid was probably just tired and needed sleep.
He should have known that things were never that easy as far as Blair Sandburg was concerned.
It started off mildly, the kid tossed a piece of paper in the air and instead of it landing in the wastebasket, it landed on the floor. When Sandburg retrieved it he tossed it in the nearest receptacle, the one set aside for cans. Now it should be noted that the kid was heavily into recycling and never - never tossed out garbage without making sure it was placed into the proper waste receptacle. Still it was a small change, but a change that made Ellison watch his friend more closely.
The kid stopped offering advice to people. He stopped assisting his co-workers on how to manage their stress and he no longer hassled Ellison about his bad eating habits. In fact in the three days that followed, he even purchased burgers from Wonder Burger for Ellison and himself. The kid eating grease was like a mosquito drinking water for nourishment. It was just -- wrong!
The guys in the precinct noticed that the kid walked right past an argument that occurred between Rafe and Brown. Two men who had been partnered for several years and who had somehow allowed a minor disagreement to escalate into a large out-of-hand argument. Instead of stepping in and defusing the situation, Blair watched as two men he considered friends allowed the argument to escalate showing no concern about the situation and then blatantly ignored the whole scene. Ellison was completely stunned.
Capt. Banks eventually stepped in when the two detectives started ignoring each other and Rafe and Brown were sent home to stew about their actions. It was Banks who called Ellison into his office and it was he who voiced his concerns, "Look Jim, I know the kid is not a cop but he is part of the team now and well, between you and I, I've come to rely on him to help out with the human resources part of this operation." Banks noticed the detective smile and moved quickly to protect his reputation as a hard ass, "I will deny anything I have just said but I really stink in the 'get in touch with your feelings' department and Sandburg has somehow managed to help me avoid that stuff. Now suddenly he's not doing anything. What is going on?"
Ellison walked over to the window that looked out at the Major Crimes Unit. There sat his partner, still, quiet and doing the paperwork. "I've noticed the changes as well. Nothing major, but it seems that the very essence that makes Sandburg who he is has been slowly taken away."
Simoin joined his detective at the window and both looked at the subject of their discussion, "Any ideas on how to bring the kid around?"
Jim smirked, "Careful Simon. You are on the verge of admitting you like him the way he was."
Banks looked seriously at his friend and best detective, "I know this will be hard to believe and even harder for me to admit, but the kid can't be allowed to change. He's special the way he is. He's made you more - approachable and, well, likeable. Hell, after the fountain, I know the two of you need each other."
Simon gazed back at the younger man through the window and continued, "Somehow the kid has made this unit gel a bit better than before he came and he's even helped me with my son. We communicate because the mad scientist out there somehow got Daryl to see me in a new way. Something I will forever be thankful to him for doing."
Ellison was shocked and proud, "Yeah, well that is only a small part of what he has done for me personally."
Jim sighed, "I do have an idea how this all got started and with your permission sir, I think I'll take the kid out for a late lunch, see if I can repair the damage."
Banks nodded, "You have your assignment, now go out there and make sure that the kid is Y2K compliant. God knows I can't face the Millennium with a dysfunctional Sandburg."
Jim drove his silent partner to the park. Bear in mind that it wasn't that the kid wasn't speaking to the detective, he responded when questioned, he laughed when he was told a joke and shared one in return, but something was definitely not right. Ellison came to realize that it was the buzz of life that was missing from his younger friend. The almost constant energy level that the kid gave off when you were in his presence. It somehow made whomever was near the man feel at peace and energized at the same time. Now Blair Sandburg was like everybody else. Still.
Ellison realized that the last time the kid was like this was when Jim was mistakenly exposed to the media as being a Sentinel. Blair had quickly moved to end the speculation of whether or not the information was true or false and in doing so he lost his position and tenure at Rainier University and his job at the station.
The guys and Ellison helped to repair the damage and Sandburg now had his old life back and more. Still Ellison remembered the kid's face when he thought it was all over, he remembered the stillness and as he looked at the man seated beside him, he realized that something needed to be done to, as Simon said, make the kid Y2K compliant.
The two headed to their favorite park bench each eating a hot dog. "Chief how about we watch The Matrix again tonight?"
Blair was stunned, "Why?" Jim just wasn't a repeat viewer, well not all the time -- if you don't count Van Damme, Stalone, Gibson - type movies.
Ellison shrugged, "I enjoy the special effects don't you?"
Sandburg looked away, "I don't know. I kinda feel that Hollywood is really glamorizing the destruction of the world and, well it's just sort of sad."
Jim was ready. He knew that this funk Blair was in had something to do with the movie but it was merely a catalyst for something else. So with careful prodding the kid would open up. "I don't get what you mean chief."
Sandburg paused and looked out at the park, "Everyone loves those movies like 'Independence Day', 'The Terminator', 'Armageddon' heck even most of our music lately is based on the fact that the world is no longer a place to save, just a place to exist and cope with. Everything revolves around romanticizing the dark future and it all just sort of bothers me."
Ellison paused, "What bothers you? The movies?"
Sandburg sighed, "No not the movies. It's just ... well - why does the future have to be so bleak? Why do Sentinels have to be portrayed as mechanical and evil? Why isn't there any hope for a future that never escalates to the point where man destroys humanity? Maybe I'm a freak of nature or something. I thought we all wanted a better, safer, well happier world. Yet everyone loves to hear about the worst that could happen. It's like they want the worst to happen. No one envisions a world that carefully avoided what everyone seems to think is inevitable."
"So that's what's eating you."
Sandburg paused and frowned at his friend, "Nothing is eating me, Jim. I just suddenly realized that everyone is happy with the way things are, they aren't making any effort toward a better life and maybe I should just try to see the world through their point of view. I always pried myself on being open-minded ... "
Ellison leaned back on the bench and placed his arm along the backside, behind his partner, "Look at this park Chief and what do you see?"
Blair looked at the park, "I see life. People talking, the Tube Steak Vendor, dogs, birds, the blue cloudy sky, green grass, tall trees -- you know the park."
Ellison smiled, "Before I met you, I used to come here to eat alone. When I looked around me, I just saw people eating in the park. I never noticed 'life' as you say. You've opened my eyes and now I enjoy the sounds of the seagulls, the laughter of people passing by and even the green of the grass. Now I see and enjoy life."
Sandburg blushed, "Yeah but still people would rather see movies about the miserable end of the world. No one boasts about seeing a Disney film, at least not an adult. People don't care about the ozone or the Amazon forests. No, they'd rather watch movies depicting the world slowly losing sunlight or a world where gun toting is a common expectation."
Ellison smiled, "Maybe some people watch those things for the very reasons you've explained but not all. Would you like to know why I enjoyed, The Matrix so much?"
Blair laughed, "The guns, the explosions and the babes in leather."
Ellison smacked the kid on the back of the head and returned his arm to the back of the bench, "No, maybe, okay, I'd be lying if that weren't part of the reason I mean there is definitely something about a girl in vinyl and leather but, well, I kinda see myself as Neo, a healthier version of course, a man with special talents and uncertain where to go from there. I see you as the Fishburn-Morpheus character. Fishburn did a good job in acting as a Guide by the way. He almost mastered that look you give me when I am ready to quit. I've always wondered if I am the only one fortunate enough to be able to find someone who believes in me as much as you do. I wonder if anyone even knows how special it is to have someone in your corner when the chips are down. To have someone believe in you when everyone around turns away."
Ellison smiled at the blush forming on his friend's face before he continued, "For me, The Matrix was about a belief in the fact that one man could change the world but he doesn't accomplish this until he realizes his own potential and he doesn't realize his potential until his Guide points him in the right direction. It was through the Guide's faith in Neo that Neo saw his own future in a different and better way. He wasn't superhuman but he became a better person because of the faith one man had for him and eventually he learned to have faith in himself."
Sandburg was staring at his friend with his mouth open. Jim rarely shared his deep and personal thoughts on his relationship with Blair and well the kid was stunned. Ellison reached over and closed the kid's mouth with a chuckle. "Look chief while most of us want to believe that there will always be a happy ending some of us want to know what we would do if the outcome weren't so favorable. I mean with a happy ending what else can we all do but, well be happy? But if the world were about to end with a sour note and you and I were the only ones that could change the outcome, well I feel pretty secure in the knowledge that this Sentinel and his Shaman/Guide would try to prevent the end from coming. Together."
Blair smiled shyly, "You have no doubts about me helping you in this so-called fight?"
Ellison suddenly got serious, "There was a time when I didn't care if we all lived to see another day or not. Man always seemed so greedy and self-serving to me." Ellison smiled, "Then you came into my life - never self-serving, forgiving, patient and you introduced me to hope. Through you I got to see my co-workers in a different light. Simon is no longer just my boss, now he is a father struggling with a demanding career and the demands of parenthood. Brown is a lover of all types of music and has a strange sense of humor. Rafe is not just a lover of clothes but he respects life and wants to protect it, he also plays a mean game of poker. Joel Taggert, since meeting you, has changed his career from working in the bomb squad to being an excellent detective, which by the way is also directly associated to you, and he is a hearty lover of life. Joel's lost weight, has purpose, heck he's a changed man. We all need each other. So there is no doubt in my mind that you and I could defeat anything if we put our minds to it."
Ellison tilted his head and looked at his partner, "You've indirectly managed to change all of us a bit you know and well I'd like to think we've done the same for you."
Blair nodded, "Yeah, I realized that you guys are not 'pigs' but great protectors of this city and I am proud that you've included me into your group. I have a purpose and a direction that gives me a reason to feel, well, kinda proud, you know?"
Ellison nodded, "Being part of our group means your part of a bunch of guys who believe life can get better with proper guidance."
Blair began to laugh, the sound was warm and sincere and Ellison suddenly noticed that the buzz of his friend's life energy had returned, full force. It was a strange occurrence but one Ellison reveled in, "What's so funny chief?"
"Well it's kind of hard to believe you guys are happy ending Disney types."
Ellison laughed, "Hey, I liked Tarzan and the Lion King."
Blair laughed again, "Sure, in both there were good fight scenes and in one there was a chick in a loin cloth."
Ellison laughed again and Blair looked away for a second, "Thanks Jim."
Ellison stood and was joined by his friend, "For what chief?"
"For knowing something was wrong, for caring, and for showing me that The Matrix and movies like that aren't about the end but how to reinvent the beginnings."
Ellison smiled, "Ahhhh so I, the student, have now become the teacher."
Blair laughed, "Yes wise one but the road ahead is still a steep one."
Ellison placed his hand on his friend's shoulder, "With you back on track, I think I can handle the climb. Now let's go check out a few leads on that jewelry theft downtown and then we can head for home."
Banks noticed the two returning to office the next day. Ellison reached for a powder donut and Blair slapped away his hand and gave him a breakfast bar. Reluctantly, Ellison gave in and went to sit at his desk.
Banks noticed that Brown and Rafe sat at their desks and avoided looking directly at each other. Capt. Banks knew the signs, both men were sorry for the words they spoke to each other the other day but both were too proud to admit it. He wondered if he needed to step in again. It wasn't good to have partners not communicating.
Sandburg walked to the water cooler and stopped between Rafe and Brown. He said something that had both men suddenly laughing, just then Taggert came in and began showing the three pictures of, what Banks assumed was part of his vacation in Florida. Blair held a picture in his hand and said something to Rafe and Rafe gave Brown some sort of silent signal and the two partners began laughing. The ice was thawed and now Rafe and Brown were talking again.
Sandburg walked away without even knowing he had bridged a gap that threatened a decent partnership. He then went to sit at his desk after carefully discarding his paper cup in the recycle bin. Ellison then said something and Blair laughed as he handed the older man another breakfast bar. The kid could convince a peacock to surrender its feathers and never even break into a sweat.
Capt. Banks smiled and it was then that Ellison met his gaze.
The door to his office opened and Ellison stepped in. "Yeah Simon? Did you need me?"
Banks walked over to his desk and sat. "Come in for a second will you?" As the door closed Banks waited until the detective stepped closer. "So I see your assignment was successful?"
Ellison looked out at his partner and smiled, "Yes sir."
Just then Brown knocked on the door and stepped in, "Captain, me and Rafe are gonna head out. Rafe has a hunch on the Deenot case and well I thought we'd go check it out."
Banks nodded, "Very well, keep me informed." The door closed and Banks looked back at Ellison and before he could speak the door opened again.
"Hi, Simon, Jim that guy from the produce stand just called, said the suspect is expected in at noon." Blair looked at the Captain, "Simon you really shouldn't eat those breakfast sandwiches from the diner, the grease could kill you, man. Do you know that it would be healthier for you to just drink a cup of grease than to eat one of those things?" Without waiting for a reply, the younger man continued, "Come on Jim let's get going."
Ellison smiled again noticing that the buzz of life surrounded his Guide, "I'll be right there Chief." The door closed and Sandburg walked over to Rhonda, Banks' secretary who looked a bit frazzled and said something that caused the lady to blush and giggle. She resumed working but now had a smile on her face.
Capt. Banks looked at the detective and grinned.
Ellison stretched and smiled smugly, "Well sir, I expect a special bonus in my check at the next review."
"The Matrix has been adjusted and Sandburg is now Y2K compliant."
Capt. Banks laughed, "Thank God."
Ellison walked out of his superior's office and towards the man who held the keys for hope in the universe that Ellison existed in. Keys that would forever be protected by the buzz of life.
Sandburg handed the older man his jacket, "Hey Jim, what are you smiling about?"
Ellison's smile broadened, "Just realized that I really do like happy endings."
--- Don't we all? ---
All right this was not the first piece of fiction I've written for the Sentinel but it was the first I've opened for public consumption. I hope it was enjoyable:>
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