Author's Note: Just to clear a bit of confusion up, the wolf that showed up next to Blair in the previous story was his spirit guide. It's part of the show: the wolf (or in Jim's case, a panther) appears occasionally to keep the pair on the right path, provide warnings, act as a metaphor for predicting the future (in a vague way only the viewers can understand ;), and generally test Sentinel and Guide. Jim's spirit guide is a panther, although it occasionally morphs into human form of a Chopec Indian or 'Jungle Jim' so it can talk some sense into him. Pun intended.
Sudden motion to the side drew Topper's attention from the huddled form of his clan sister. He looked away from Jay to see three new arrivals. Two gargoyles were there, one male and familiar as his clan brother Tate; the other a savage, light blue redhead female in a loincloth and halter get up; along with a human, an adult male with short curls and wide, startled blue eyes.
The beaked gargoyle whistled, catching Tate's attention, and waved the group over. "Wazzzup?" he asked.
Tate sent a pained look at Jay. "We're here for some magic ritual thingy. Uh, who are you, anyway?"
A gasp from the blue chick saved Topper and brought everyone's eyes to her. She was staring at the Cap in what looked like shocked horror. "You-you're dead. A thousand years dead!"
"I thought the same o' ye," he rumbled. "Goliath's mate, smashed with the rest."
"No," she almost moaned, shaking her head, "I escaped. But you... I know, I heard, it's been a thousand years you must be dead."
He gave a faint chuckle. "I am. We all are." He indicated the rest of the gang.
"Actually, this might be good," the living human mentioned. Flushing under the new attention, he pushed back some hair that escaped a rubber band trying back the curls. "Three is a good, traditional number for magical purposes, but seven has similar powers. The whole living and dead thing can't hurt either."
"Sounds cool, professor," Topper drawled. "Wish you coulda been here earlier when we were facin' the challenge shit, but since we're past that, sorry." The gargoyle gave him a false smile. "Yer a little late."
Stella broke in. "Not yet. We - all of us - have one more challenge."
Topper groaned and rolled his eyes, while His Worship and the Cap pulled the same raised eyebrow Spock move. The living trio exchanged a look. "Why do I not like the sound of that?" Tate asked.
"Last few challenges nearly killed us... again."
"Great," the curly-haired human drawled.
"Uh huh." Damn, he could get to like this guy, if he wasn't careful. "So just what we gotta face now, babe? No more canyons, no more critters, just...." He trailed off, giving his clan sister a suspicious look. "Don't tell me we gotta fight her!" he yelped.
Surprise amplified his voice, apparently alerting Jay to their presence as she began to rock back and forth. A soft keen rose from the girl, a murmuring desperate chant of 'nonononononononono,' over and over again. A wind appeared, whipping up into a gale that seemed to form an outraged echo to her protests.
Shit, Topper mentally snarled, reminding himself where they were. The wind WAS echoing her. Only it sounded pissed. "This is bad, right?"
Stella nodded, her eyes focused on Jay. "This is the challenge."
The wind rose, the sheer force of it shoving them together, the gargoyles digging claws into the ground as they grabbed onto the humans, anchoring the group even as the windstorm tried to claw them up, digging away at skin, clothes, hair, and eyes. All the while it screamed, a keening bellow of protest.
At last, the wind died. It wasn't the natural slowing to breezes, but a sharp, ominous cut off. This cannot be good.
Well that wasn't too bad. Blair finally dared to raise his head and get a load of the situation. He froze at the realization that it was worse than any breeze. What looked like a genuine horde of malformed, unnatural humanoids and other, freakier critters surrounded then, chittering through far too many fangs and showing far too many claws or other assorted pointy bits. This last challenge was serious. "Um, guys? We got a big problem, and it does not look happy."
The gargoyles moved without warning, lunging from their handholds like sprinters from the starting line, barreling into several of the monsters. With that, the chaos began. His training at the academy for combat was pushed to the limit, then forgotten in favor of brawling as the battle degenerated into a confused swirl between beings. His adrenaline rush made reality seem to flicker, branding memories of the fight into his memory while completely erasing others. One moment he and the tall, dark (dead?) man fought back to back, nearly going under until Demona charged in, driving off the creatures with summoned bolts of lightning. The next, he was grappling with one of the many - god, they seemed countless! - mockeries of gargoyles over a spear it carried. One quick foot sweep later, he had the weapon and the monster was on the ground. He moved without thinking, ramming the spearhead into its throat. Suddenly conscious of what he'd done, the former anthropologist stared down in horror as the creature disintegrated. There was no time to wonder what he'd done, he turned and moved on to the next opponent.
There was no in between, no break in the memories, simply combat going on impossibly long, far after the point when his endurance should have thrown in the towel and screamed for death. It seemed like hours, felt like days, and they all kept going, fighting, killing and accumulating wounds. When he at last hit a break, all the creatures distracted by the others or not near him, Blair's first response was driven by shock. He stood there, taking in the scene. Piles of black dust, the fallen monsters, were spewed every which way as the battle continued. He realized numbly that they weren't winning. They were barely holding their own against the creatures, and considering the amount of blood that flowed, that wouldn't last too long either.
Pain suddenly erupted in his shoulder, the impact sending him into a dive for the ground and his spear flying away. He slammed down and rolled, coming to a halt only to find a warped, twisted version of a gargoyle looming above him. The monster snarled, revealing over-large, vicious fangs, then raised both large, very clawed hands. Even as the deadly sharp paws arced down at him, Blair reacted with instincts honed from over four years working with Jim.
He yelled for his Sentinel.
Jim had finally degenerated to pacing restlessly, monitoring the girl's vitals for sheer lack of anything else to do and a need to anchor his senses. Zoning right now would be a very bad thing. After all, there was no Blair to pull him back to reality if need be. Of course, it was because of this kid that Blair wasn't here. A subliminal growl escaped the Sentinel, while he began to unconsciously grind his teeth. It wasn't fair, it wasn't right, and goddammit, he should be with his Guide!
He was so wrapped up in self recriminations that it took awhile to realize that something else in the room was also growling. When the sound finally registered, Jim twisted around to glare at the hospital bed. He wasn't that surprised to see a black panther sedately lounging around - the thing was his spirit guide, after all, however one choose to interpret that - but it was sort of a shocker to find it curled up on the bed next to the unconscious girl. What in the world? A canine whimper/whine drew his attention to the chair placed next to the bed. A gray wolf was seated there, giving him an imploring look.
The Sentinel's blood ran cold. The wolf was Blair's spirit animal. The last time he'd seen it had been when Blair had died, in visions in which he had killed the wolf- Blair- and then when some mystic connection had brought the Guide back. No. Oh no. Not again, please God, not that again. "What's going on?" He resisted a hysterical laugh at the Lassie flashback, then approached the chair. When he was close enough to touch the animal, it jumped down, trotting around to glare pointedly at the now empty seat. Well, that was rather obvious. Bemused and worried beyond questioning, Jim obediently sat down. The wolf seemed to nod before disappearing, and then the panther began to purr. Still in shock, the Sentinel focused on the sound, not even aware of what he was doing as the rumbling, highlighted by a now familiar lub-dub, became his world, sound drowning other senses, and he zoned....
Jim suddenly snapped back to reality, shaking off the zone and taking in his surroundings. He was in a strange, blue lit jungle, surrounded by half-familiar foliage and sounds. He'd traded in his slacks and tee for jungle gear and camo. His gun was still there, but augmented by the addition of a bow and a quiver of long, probably poison tipped arrows. Damm. So much for this being reality. All in all, it was pretty standard for one of his visions. The occasional trip to the spirit world or wherever the hell it was just happened to be one more of the wonderful aspects of having heightened senses. All it needed this time to be complete was a cryptic, irritable spirit guide - in human form, of course.
Instead, the Sentinel caught a vague, frighteningly familiar sound.
He took off like the proverbial shot. His Guide was in trouble.
Demona snarled as she grabbed another pseudo-gargoyle, whirling to toss the creature into what looked like the lovechild of a slug and overcooked lobster. As stupid as they were ugly, the pair began to tear into each other. The immortal turned with a smirk and gratefully took advantage of her small breather in combat. They seemed to be holding their own fairly well. All were wounded to one point or another, but it was minor. Unfortunately, the monsters kept coming.
A startled bellow to her left snapped her head around, searching for the person in trouble. It was the human, Blair. He was on the ground, with another of the monsters looming over him with obvious intent to kill. It lunged down at him, and Demona darted forward. She tackled the monster, spilling them both to the ground seconds before it gutted the Shaman. It took only seconds to gut and kill the creature, then she turned back to Blair.
The lobster-slug thing had apparently gotten over the pseudo-gargoyle and now stood near the human, claws snapping back and forth as it tried to catch the frantically scrambling man.
Before she could move, an animalistic roar of fury sounded behind her. It was followed by the sudden growth of a long arrow in the lobster-slug's eye. It roared in pain, echoing but not nearly matching the previous cry, and in that interim a green clad man raced in to pull the Shaman away. It took Demona several long seconds to recognize the man in jungle clothes and black war paint as the other cop from the hospital. But by that time, she had other problems to worry about.
Topper had had several fantasies about tall, Amazonian female gargoyles looming over him, but for some reason they never included the butt ugly fangs and overwhelming desire she apparently had to kill him. Just my luck, he thought absently as the creature prepared for the final blow.
A streak of black slammed into the thing, and momentarily formed into a large, highly pissed panther that happily clawed out the pseudo-gargoyle's guts before racing off to tackle another of the lobster-slugs they'd all been avoiding. Ohkaaaay, not gonna ask. The beaked gargoyle scrambled to his feet and took things in. The good guys seemed to be regrouping over near Jay. It took a quick scramble and another garg wannabe, but he managed to join up.
"Anybody else having fun? 'Cause I really gotta say, this totally bites," he drawled, ignoring the additions of new human, a wolf, and panther. This place was too fucked up to worry about weird shit like that. If it helped, who was he to question? Aside from the intelligent one.
"This is ridiculous," the Emir said, gesturing to the horde that was taking advantage of the break to regroup on their own. Ok, so maybe they weren't that stupid. "We've destroyed at least twice that number and they still keep coming!"
The Cap shot a curious look at Jay. "They havna gone near the girl," he observed.
Professor Curley shrugged. "They're here to protect her. Why should they?"
A roar from the monsters caught the group's attention. "Revving up for a charge," the new human commented.
"They'll run us down, this time," Stella observed. "There's no way we can take them."
"There is," the Cap said, readying his sword. "Kill the brain, kill the body."
"Those things have no leader," Demona pointed out.
They watched in bafflement as the dead Scots shuffled a few paces backwards, none understanding his intentions. The monsters, on the other hand, seemed to realize his plan and finally charged.
Most of the group turned to face off against the attackers, but Topper continued watching the captain, who had finally turned away and began sprinting towards his target, echoing bellows of denial ripped forth as his plan became frighteningly clear.
Topper surged forward, tackling the man and bringing the Captain down. Even as they thudded to the ground, he spotted the other green gargoyle rushing to embrace Jay protectively. Satisfied she'd be safe enough, he turned his attention back to the Cap.
"What the hell are you smokin'??" he roared. "She dies we all bite the bullet, dork boy!"
"She's the reason they're here!"
"Dammit, she's the reason we're here!" He managed to grab an arm and twist it back into a painful hold. "I ain't the brightest crayon in the box, bud, but even I know that's a sucky idea! Now you gonna help us fight or just kill us all again?!?"
A frightening moment of silence louder, then the human nodded.
"Allllrighty then." Topper bounced to his feet and pulled the Cap up. "Lead on, kemo slobby." That earned him a weird look which he just ignored from practice. A sudden thought struck him and he trotted back, waving the human on.
"Hey bro," he called, hurrying up to Tate. "Wazzup? We got a battle to get creamed in, ya know."
The other gargoyle started down at still rocking girl. "She's afraid of me," he managed in a broken whisper. "Even my touch scares her."
"Hey guys, enough of the bonding, we got - holy shit!"
They ignored the yell. "Sure it's you?"
He swallowed. "I'm why she got into this mess."
Aaaah, damn. "Look, um, I'm sure you didn't mean it, I know she still loves you blah blah but for god's sake save the fuckin' pity party until after the battle maybe!?!?!? We still need to save her, ok?!"
They turned, only to freeze in their tracks. "What the hell?" Tate gasped. The monsters had changed during their conversation, darkening towards a blue color, features turning female and rather familiar.... While they retained the warped and sick shapes, all had a humanoid face that resembled Jay.
Topper glared around, mind quickly making the connection. "Her fears. We're facing her fears still!"
"These fucked up challenges, they're her fears. Those things are her, so make the connection, Sherlock! She's scared of hurting us!"
"Then why the hell is she trying to kill us?"
"It's all about fears coming true, duh."
"Great. How's that supposed to help?"
"Um...." Topper shrugged. "I'm workin' on that part."
Prof Curley apparently took that as his cue. "Guys, we could use some help here!"
"Cool yer jets, Blue Eyes!" Topper snapped back. "Soon as we figure out how to use her fears against her! Damn, did that sound psycho or was it just me?"
"Explain!" Prof demanded. Somehow in between kicking ass, Topper managed to get all the details across. Curley was silent for a thoughtful moment, stuck his spear through another monster, then whooped. "How good an actor are you?"
"Oh, never mind." He seemed to degenerate into mumbling to himself until the newest human cursed, reluctantly nodded, and raced over. Seconds later, he grabbed the spear and rammed it into Prof Curley. Everyone - human, gargoyle, and monster - froze as the two men let out a simultaneous scream.
Topper was the first one able to move. "What the hell?!?!?"
"Listen up, lady!" Mr. Camo bellowed. The impaled body slipped to the ground, leaving behind the spear, coated with ruby liquid. "I'm not letting you take him, dammit! And if that means I gotta be the one to do him in, fine! Sounds better than the alternative!"
The monsters visibly hesitated, confusion showing clearly. A few of the smaller, wounded ones crumbled.
A maniacal expression crossed the human's face. "And I hope you know that goes for every other son of a bitch here! No more monsters, they're gonna go nice and quiet!" He finally noticed the shocked expressions around him. "Don't you see?"
"That yer totally flippin' nuts?" Topper asked.
"No, I'm not! I'm making it right! I'm protecting him, see? She's gonna kill all of us. I'm doing the only thing I can to... to protect him! This way she doesn't win! She's not gonna kill him, she fails."
Several of the larger monsters were nodding in almost satisfaction, while more crumbled away.
"Who's next, huh?" the human cried, brandishing the spear.
Just to add to the madness, Tate stepped forward, dropping to his knees before the wacko. "Me," he declared. "She couldn't, wouldn't protect me. I will take your protection instead."
The human nodded almost reverently, then moved like lightning, swiping the blade around. Tate let out a gurgling cry and raised his hands to his throat, but not before they caught sight of a red line springing into being, blood leaking forth. "Next!!!"
When Stella stepped forth, the monsters sighed and every last one crumbled. Topper stared around, unwilling to believe his eyes. Finally, he managed to get out something resembling words. "Bastard!!! How could you do that?"
"I asked him." The calm reply, tinged with faint humor, dragged all eyes to the curly-haired human laying on the ground. He cracked open a startlingly blue eye and grinned. "And believe me, man, there is nothing like trying to convince a Sentinel to hurt his Guide, even if it is just a scratch."
The taller man snorted with laughter as he reached down, giving Prof Curley a hand up. He ignored the fresh, still oozing slash along the palm of Prof's hand. "I wouldn't call that just a scratch. And as I recall, you didn't know it'd work."
Tate popped his eyes open and sat up. "Well, I'm just happy you really hadn't gone around the bend." He grimaced and reached a hand up to rub at his throat. "And by the way, nice control. Barely bleeding any more."
Topper finally managed to drag his beak up from about his knees. "It... it was one big fake out?" he asked.
Prof Curley laughed. "Yeah. It worked. Her fear of failure kicked in, it came true, and we're still here. Cool, huh?"
Stella cleared her throat and stepped forward. "Which means our job is done. If you're ready?"
The Emir and Cap stepped over to her. "Very much so."
"Aye. It's been an honor fighting beside ye, but I'm ready to rest."
Topper just blinked and shook his head. "It was a fake out?" he managed to ask as the world disappeared around him.
Jim finally relaxed faintly with a sigh. He really hated this mystical shit. It was just too weird. And as for pretending to kill Blair... brr. That had not been pleasant. He was fairly certain that was why Blair had relied on Sentinel level hearing - there was no way Jim could get within Blair's hearing to argue against it. "So, uh, what now?"
The blue female - he wasn't about to ask - motioned towards Jay. Of course. The obvious. Why hadn't he thought of that?
The quartet cautiously approached the huddled figure. Tate took the lead, reaching out a hand to stop inches from the girl's shoulder. "Jay?" he called softly.
The figure flinched, drawing impossibly closer into itself. "Go away." The pain in her voice was doubly obvious to the Sentinel. He had no idea what they were supposed to do, but having her blow them off could not be a good sign.
The gargoyle hesitated, then pulled back. "Please, you have to listen to us."
"I don't have to do anything. Now fuck off, Tate. I thought I made it clear that I'm done with gargoyles."
This time it was Tate and Demona flinching. "Even me?" the female asked.
The girl hesitated, then looked up with wounded brown eyes. She studied the immortal for several long seconds before glancing away. "Just leave me alone."
"Guys," Blair called when it was obvious that the gargoyles were at a loss. He motioned them aside, drawing the other three away. "How bad is this?" he asked.
Demona looked off at some imaginary point in the distance. A deep breath, a pause to collect her composure, then she faced the Shaman. "We have several hours to convince her to leave, or we all die."
"Great," Jim sighed.
Blair held out a hand in a calming gesture. "Psych minor, remember Jim? I can handle this."
The trio watched him go back to the girl, then looked away with pretended politeness. While the gargoyles ignored each other, Jim sent out his senses, checking the terrain for any possible hostiles. So they were all taken by surprise when the girl began yelling at Blair.
"Look, I don't need to be psychoanalyzed!" Jim snapped around to find the girl glaring at Blair, almost nose to nose while she roared at him. "Just take your reverse psychology and go away! I want to be alone! Why can't you get that? Just let me be alone!" She turned away again, and Jim knew he was the only one to hear her soft whimper. "Let me stop hurting."
Ah, shit. This was not going well at all. He moved before he had time to figure out just what he was doing, or going to do. "Hey Chief!" Jim called, jogging over.
The shaman met him a few steps away from the girl. "Yeah?" He made a face. "Take it this is about my 'progress'?"
"Let me talk to her." Hell, can't do any worse, and I'm the only one left.
Blair's eyebrows tried to climb into his hairline. He opened his mouth for some undoubtedly smart-ass remark, but instead a thoughtful look passed over his face. With a small nod and a light pat on Jim's shoulder, he trotted off with a Sentinel-soft "Good luck, man."
Deciding that little trip to the Sandburg Zone wasn't worth the headache of excessive thought, Jim sank down to sit cross-legged next to Jay. "Hey."
She gave him a disgusted sidelong glance. "Another one. Wonderful. What now, trying to bribe me to leave?"
"Good." Satisfied with her dismissal, she went back to her huddle. Jim simply waited. He'd been trained by the best in the U.S. Army and the Chopec Indians of Peru.
She didn't stand a chance.
A few minutes later, she turned back to face him. "So why did you come over? For the company?" Sarcastic and hostile, but curious as well. Good signs.
Gotcha. "No." He pointed back towards the waiting trio. "See that guy over there? Kid with the curly hair?"
That earned him the evil eye. "Somehow I guessed we weren't talking about Tate. What about him?"
He nodded, accepting the hit. "I came to ask you to spare his life."
Her jaw dropped in shock. "What??" Jay yelped, trying to figure out where that line had come from. The man simply continued to stare at her, face solemn and icy eyes unreadable.
"I'm asking you to spare his life."
"Whoa whoa whoa! Wait!" she held up her hands in protest, as if to hold back the insane words. "Just wait. I'm not out to kill anyone! I just wanna be left alone! Yes I'll defend myself is necessary, but.... No way I'd kill him for talking."
"You're going to kill all of us."
"Are you on crack??! All I want is to be left alone!" No, not death. No more death. Just quiet, peace. Not to hurt, not to feel pain, not to FEEL, just... to be.... To be alone.
"Do you know where we are?" Jay simply stared at him in confusion. Where? What did that have to do with killing the guy?
Seeing her puzzlement, the man gently grabbed her wrists and brought her hands down, holding onto them loosely even when they rested on her lap. "We're in your mind." He grinned faintly, shaking his head ruefully. "Don't ask me the details, this magic mumbo jumbo is too weird for me. They know how, I just ended up here."
If he didn't know the details, then.... "Why?"
"Blair. He needed help."
She twisted slightly to look at the man in question, needing to get away from the disturbingly direct gaze. Like some freaky staring contest, she thought, not really seeing the small group waiting for her. Just...he's not trying to prove anything, hide anything. Well, she knew there were a lot of hidden layers back there, but it was all hidden far beyond something, the thing she could see but not name....
Belief, she suddenly realized. He believes this junk. "I still don't get how all this ties together."
He shifted slightly. "It has to do with the magic junk. There's a time limit involved."
Understanding dawned. "So you don't get me out, you get kicked out." She smirked. "I see why you're rushing."
He shook his head. "No, we don't get out unless you get out. If you don't...." He paused, then shrugged. "We all die."
Die??!? What the hell?! Involuntarily, she turned again to look at the three figures whose importance had quickly changed. Tate, seated, outwardly calm and unreadable except for the madly twitching tail. Demona, arms crossed, face pensive, pacing slightly while conversing with the human. The human - Blair? - a person this obvious military type was would risk his life for....
No! Reality reasserted itself along with common sense. Pushing your buttons, trying to pull the strings.... NO WAY!! "Yeah right. Tell me another one. Ooo, lemme guess, it's about a bridge you want taken off your hands."
"No." A look of frustration finally crossed the man's face. "I'm telling you the truth."
"Then why him? Why not all of you, or even just you and him? Welcome to the real world, people don't do things like that without ulterior motive. What's yours?"
A strange expression flickered across his face. Pain, anger, more frustration, maybe fear? Glaring at her, his eyes suddenly seemed less sky blue than pure ice. The grips on her wrists tightened. "I don't want to see him die again."
Tingling at her wrists brought Jay's eyes downward in time to see blue sparks arcing from the man's hands, then slam into her.
Racing towards the now familiar stairs, oh god, Alex could be anywhere by now - no, I can feel it, she was here, she's after Blair, it's a Sentinel thing...Blair? Turning towards the fountain, there's a faint scent, it's his shampoo, dammit all, please god no. "Oh my god." He's there, IN the fountain, oh god I can't hear him, please, where's his heart I can't hear his heartbeat but I can always hear his heartbeat. "H, give me your hand!" He's so still, so cold, no, please, come on Blair, don't.... don't leave me like this.... I'm not mad, not really, please come back to me "Sandburg! Sandburg! Come on. Come on, guys. Come on. Sandburg! Let's get an ambulance here!" Breathe, damn it! You're my Guide! Don't leave me! "Come on, Chief." Come on Blair. Simon's demanding a heartbeat, can I hear it but god, there's nothing there! Blair.... Please, don't leave me.... guide, friend, brother.... don't leave me....
Reality snapped back into place, leaving Jay and the man gasping at the sudden change. "My god," Jay whispered shakily. "Was that-" When he died? She knew it was a stupid question, but she had to ask.
"Yeah." He swallowed and ran a shaking hand over his face. "God, that was intense."
She let out a shaky laugh. "Intense?" The laugh turned into more of a whimper. "No, intense is living 5 different peoples' lives all at once." She bit her lip, fighting back the panicked tears that threatened.
"Shh, it's alright," he whispered, removing a hand from her wrist to brush away the few escapees. "You're safe, I swear. I won't hurt you." More sparks leapt into being upon contact.
Oh god, not another Sandburg lecture. Doesn't this kid ever give up? "See, a Sentinel has extra strong senses so he can protect the tribe. So actually, it's natural that you did the army then cop thing." He doesn't stop moving, either. Could he talk if I tied his hands? "I mean, the progression from territory and strength of your senses is fascinating. When you were learning, you were part of the army, the warriors protecting the large tribe of all America." I might have to try and find out, if he keeps this mumbo jumbo up. "Then you can to your senses - no pun intended - " I'm so sure. "And claimed your own territory of Cascade. It all comes down to a genetic need to protect your turf."
"Shit!" he hissed, pulling away and stopping the stream of sparkles. "Dammit kid, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
Jay shook her head, holding out a hand. "You didn't mean it. And.... " It's not that bad. It doesn't hurt. Not overwhelming, just... different. Rather than to try to explain herself, she reached out and placed her hand on his arm, willing the thoughts to flow. More sparks appeared, this time going from her. In a second, the man relaxed.
It had worked. They'd shared thoughts.
God, this is weird.
Was the thought his or hers? It was impossible to tell... and it didn't really matter.
"So, um." She sniffled and reluctantly headed back to the topic. "You'll - you'll die? If I don't leave?"
" 'Fraid so."
She gulped in air around the lump that suddenly came into her throat. "Can... can I come back? If I let you out, can I come back?"
"Sorry kiddo, but it's a one way thing. You have to make the leap of faith or go the hell back into the jungle."
Personal experience in that wry, almost bitter comment.
One way.... One choice. All that pain, all that suffering, all that feeling... or four more deaths. I don't wanna do this, she thought wearily, why does it have to be me? I don't wanna decide, I don't wanna be responsible.... She sighed. I don't wanna have to choose. More sparks flickered, memories flitting by. Simple buddy moments, the tiny things that make friendship worth it, the long nights spent together to keep nightmares away, as many hours in the hospital waiting for the most important person in the world to return....
"Please," Jim whispered, or maybe by now it was her, it was so hard to keep track of identity and separate self, "Let him go, at least. I'm a selfish bastard, I'll do anything to not see him die again."
More memories, flooding back to replace the ones incoming, memories of Tate and Demona. The silly pranks, the shared jokes, hours of working together in silence both shared and enjoyed, perhaps even relished for the close contact it provided and demanded.
Leap of faith, or get the hell back into the jungle. She swallowed, closing her eyes for a moment to savor the solitude.
No, it's not. Not solitude, no way of being empty, she realized. Not with the man whose memories she now shared sat next to her, not with the trio waiting back there for her decision. It could never be alone till they were gone, and even then, there would be the memories.
Jay opened her eyes to look into Jim's. "So how do we leave?"
Thank God he was sitting, or he would have fallen over. As it was, he knew the blue lights leaping from hand to hand transmitted his combination of relief and gratitude.
Along with a trace of regret. This strange connection, of viewing another's mind while they viewed yours.... It held a strangely comforting intimacy that came from acceptance without even a hint of judging. Jim almost reluctantly stood, pulling Jay to her feet before letting go. It was lonely being the only one in his head again. "Come on, they're the experts."
He led the way back, gently tugging her between him and the others. She looked nervously at them, and faint sparks of anxiety and all out fear leaped into him. Jim rested a hand on her shoulder, projecting calm and hoping that whatever it was worked. Together, they made it to the trio. Jay gave them a nervous look and shifted uncomfortably. "So, uh, just how do we blow this pop stand?"
Tate was the only one showing visible relief in a long breath out. Demona simply nodded and sent Jay a small smile of reassurance, while Blair grinned and gave Jim a 'good job' look. Whatever, the Sentinel mentally sighed. "So?"
Demona unexpectedly grabbed his left hand, then Tate's right. "Circle," she ordered. "Jay, in the center. Tate, you between the humans." She hesitated, then gave them all an almost frightened look. "I'm not sure how this will work. There are only supposed to be four involved."
"We need Jim," Blair asserted.
Apparently happy with that, Demona nodded and began to speak. She spewed forth what Jim would have been willing to say before were unpronounceable syllables, linking together guttural, inhuman words. It rose, echoing off nonexistent walls, perhaps just the other words, until there was only one resounding note that grew and almost throbbed in tone. At last, Demona was silent, and the beating remained, counting off the seconds. Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. A heartbeat. A noise that summoned a shower of the blue sparks that whirled around the group, enveloping them in a cocoon of light, then a shroud of memories.
Life starts, of course, with birth.
Dark, warm, safe. Boring. Small. Too small. Stretching out, pushing against the walls, wait, that one gave a bit. More pushing, clawing, must get out too small out afraid too small out out out! Pounding hitting crack! It cracks! Hit more hit harder crack crack crack! Open! Cold! Face, sad, dark green red hair brown eyes gentle smile. Carefully lifting gentle hands with gentle smile, then rumbly words. "Welcome to the world. Elder, his name?"
New face, dusky red funny wrinkles blue eyes big smile steady small hands. "Hello Terry." Creaky voice gentle voice. Soft voice. "You've a hard road, but it will be a good one. I greet you, clan's child, Terry."
After birth is a period of intense learning, of gaining understanding of the world and how it works.
Ohmigawd. Oh, my god. I cannot believe this. This is just amazing. Weird noises, things tasting weird, smelling the impossible, and... damn, is that a zone?? Ok, ok, I'm calm. I am... relaxed. I am... relaxed. God, I need to meet this guy! If his touch - aw, hell, even without the tactile sense, someone with four of five.... Oh man. This could be a Sentinel. Come on Blair, get a grip. Don't wanna scare him off. Espically if - no, take it one thing at a time. Meet him first.
Oh man. A Sentinel.
Ok, coat, nametag - that old geezer'll never notice it's missing - um... hair's all set, oh! Glasses. Check. Alright, it's showtime.
Whoa! Oh jeeze, what is this, poster boy for army life?? Shit, this is G.I. Joe! "Detective Ellison. I'm Dr. McKay."
"Your nametag says McCoy."
ACK!!! Uh... shit, this isn't going well, BS, BS!!! "Um...yeah. But the correct Gaelic pronunciation of my family name is "McKay"." Oh yeah, he'll believe that. Ok, forget the act and just Shakespeare it. "Me, I'm no one. But this man, he is. He's the only one who can truly help you. You're too far ahead of the curve for any of this techno trash. You're a cop. See the man."
Go go go! Run awaaaaay!
Safe? Shit, I hope so.
Awww, damn. That just blew my chances to all to hell. Note to self: next time you stumble on your Holy Grail, don't scare him off before you can even talk to him. *Sigh* Put a positive spin on this, man. There really could be Sentinels out there. You just scared off yours.
Mine? Yeah, right. I wish. At least now I know it's possible.
Then comes the settled life, in which patterns of living become ingrained, family overshadows job.
Good lord, this has to be the longest week in history. Three years, and he's still here. At least the ape is gone. Larry, we hardly knew ye. Thank God.
Huh. The monkey made the week limit. I did say that, didn't I? "Just one week, Sandburg."
Just one week.
I don't know what I was thinking, letting him move into the loft. The weird foods, even weirder beverages, and not going near the music.
Though at this point, I can't imagine living alone again. My Guide, my friend, my partner, my brother in all ways that matter. Ack. That's it, no more beers for me. Too damn maudlin. Jeeze, too much time around the kid. Starting to talk like him.
Last is death.
Icy coldness, no, burning pain as the sword slides through the gut - not hers, but Macbeth's, but pain calling down to darkness, peace, quiet. Fire, peeling away skin, bubbling away fat, curling hair into nonexistence as it licks char marks onto bone, pain beyond screaming pain beyond feeling pain then not feeling at all. Water, water, everywhere, all around, strong hands holding down can't move let me move! Finally let go, breathe in, sucking in water, choking breathing more water I can feel it down to my lungs coldness pain darkness. Ah! Rock after rock, pebble after stone, slamming in one after another tiny bruises shouldn't matter but it's piling stone on stone but I am stone why does it hurt? Rock after rock, pebble after stone, humans throwing missiles that make one big bruise until only pain, only darkness.
But afterwards, there is a rebirth, a return to life that is painful, but in life's paradox, such a joyous event.
Unsteady steps, not used to walking like this, all weight carefully balanced on the ball of the foot and those three big toes. The wings are weird, too. Aside from the whole extra appendage thing, which is trippy all by itself, there's all those unexpected balance problems.
One of the perks though, frightening as hell not to mention is fly- GLIDEing.
Jumping free, all limbs stretched wide to catch the most air, being caught by an updraft cradling you upwards higher and higher until the city is only a dream of lights and sound...
God! The adrenaline rush is amazing, fear is half the exhilaration! This... oh, god, THIS is life!
Yup, more thanks to nifty people:
Datafage, proofreader, chummer, and the guy who keeps my spelling in line
M.C. I think it's all been said (well, aside from the bit about Hudson... ::grins evilly and waves to Ryuu-sama::) so I'll stick to 'thanks,' espically for the Jim/Jay convo bit. It really helped bring everything together. And particular thank yous for the recent warm fuzzies. I didn't realize just how much I needed that. ::hugs::
All the wonderful people that sent me a quick e-mail telling me this #@$%^& thing STILL wasn't working when posting in the garg archive. Here's hoping I get it right this time.
Wait, who was that? The Characters.
Back up, I wanna try this again. Part 2, Body
Well? What happens?? Part 4, Heart
I want to read more! To get back to the fic archive
Let me out of here!!!! A.K.A. Home
PLEASE send any and all feedback -particularly if you hated it; I can't improve until I know what I'm doing wrong!- to: Norcumi@backtick.net
Gargoyles, Demona, the Captain of the Guard, the Emir, and any other related material belongs to Disney, used without permission or profit, no infringement intended, so please don't sue. The Connecticut clan, Jay, Tate, Sadie, Topper, Stella, and Loar are my own (don't steal!). Pretty much everything else belongs to Pet Fly Productions and therefore Paramount, again the whole rant about no infringement, payment, and sueing.