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Tape 76: April 17, 1999

The research is fucked. It's all useless now. Objectivity my sweet ass. What the hell do you think the Dean would say if she heard this? Yeah, Blair Sandburg, impartial observer, fucking his primary research subject. Nice job there, Sandburg. What the hell was I thinking? I'm not a teenager, I'm not some kid who can't control his hormones. I'm a researcher, a scientist, a goddamned anthropologist.


[blank space]

I'm going to have to start all over. I'm going to have to...

I can't do this. I already know where this is headed.

I'm fucked.

I. Alpha

Tape 1: March 24, 1996

Okay, here we go. Blair Sandburg, dissertation project documentation, tape one. Whoa. It sounds so strange to hear that.

I found a living, breathing subject for my dissertation. I never thought I'd actually find one with all five senses enhanced. Looks like the subject is the genuine article, though it's still too early to say. I need to develop some controlled experiments, some parameters for working with him. There's so much to do that I don't even know where to start.

Anyway. Subject is a male, Caucasian, age unknown. I'll have to ask him. His name is Jim Ellison. Sentinel abilities apparently manifested during a period of prolonged isolation in the jungles of Peru, while he was assigned to some kind of Special Ops unit with the military. I discovered his abilities by accident, so the subject comes into this study without prior contact with this researcher.

Ellison is apparently in touch with some of his more primitive instincts. His behavior only adds to my suspicions about the extent of his heightened senses. I'd go so far as to say his reactions are a little primal...because when he thought I was jerking his chain, he threw me up against a wall. Very dominant.

The subject agreed to cooperate with the research in exchange for some insight into his own abilities. So basically, he sees me as a sort of assistant. Someone to put things in perspective for him. I can deal with that.

As soon as I figure out what the hell his abilities are, that is. It's the blind leading the blind, man. I'd better hit the books. I just wasn't expecting this. This is going to be great.

Tape 2: March 26, 1996

I did something today that might not be the smartest thing I've ever done, but it seemed really right at the time. I managed to persuade the subject to let me move into his loft. He wasn't too thrilled, but I need access to him, and there's no other way I can really see him twenty-four hours a day, to see what he's really like when he's not on his best behavior. This way I can really get to the bottom of what he's all about.

He was resistant to the suggestion, but I was persuasive. I had a little disaster at my place - namely that it blew up - and I had to move out on short notice. Once I had my foot in the door, the rest was a piece of cake. He doesn't know it yet, but I'm not going anywhere until he throws me out. This is a great opportunity and I'm not going to waste a minute of it.

We are so not compatible as roommates. Already Jim's making a big deal about stuff that isn't important to me, but I can see how it might make a difference to someone who's super-sensitive. My music bothers him. A lot. Noise in general totally bothers him. And not just because he has no taste in tunes. He hears more, all frequencies and tones, so he's easily distracted. I feel like I'm tip-toeing around, trying not to get on the subject's nerves. I hope my nerves can take this, because I'm in it for the long haul, man, or until he kicks me out. Which might not take that long.

What's cool about this is that he has let me into his personal space. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to maintain professional distance, but it's better to be inside. I can still look at this objectively. I'm a trained researcher. No problem.

I should mention that not only am I in his apartment, but I'm a part of his everyday life. He's a cop, and I'm an observer. Very cool, very cool. That will work out great. Twenty-four-seven, like I said.

I've made some preliminary observations over the past few days. For instance, the subject uses physical touch to communicate his needs. Several times over the past few days, he's put his hand on my arm, or against my back. It's almost as though he's communicating with me without speaking, on a level I seem to understand instinctually. It doesn't seem to bother him at all, and he doesn't do it with everyone. And I haven't even known him that long. I gave some consideration to the fact that he could be homosexual and is attracted to me, but I don't think that's the case. It's hard to say. I don't know him well enough.

There's something about the way he relates to me, though. He already trusts me completely. I don't pretend to understand it yet. But we've got time to figure all of this out, still.

As I postulated in my research, a Sentinel is susceptible to sensory spikes, and Jim has proven this amply. He has them all the time, and his senses are just wildly out of control. My payment to him for letting me tag along is helping him get this thing together, figure out how to manage his gifts. Not a bad deal, really.

Tape 5: March 28, 1996

Nothing like starting off with a bang. I went down to the police station today to get my observer credentials and I ended up knocking out two gun-toting militia men. That was before I was taken hostage, kidnapped, and held a flare gun to the head of the pilot of the helicopter I was on in order to make him land.

All in a day's work, the subject says. He's kidding, but I'm not having fun, here.

I'm not sure the subject thought I had it in me. He had me pegged for some peacenik flower child. It must be the hair. Everyone makes that mistake because of the hair. I mean, violence sucks, but sometimes a man's gotta do what he's gotta do to save his own ass. Or in Jim's case, protect the tribe.

I hope this isn't an omen.

Tape 6: April 6, 1996

I was sitting on the couch tonight, minding by own business, drinking a beer and watching the game. Or at least, I was pretending to watch the game, but actually, I was watching the subject. I'd take a drink, turn my head, sneak a peek at the subject. He was trying not to zone on the sounds of the rain. Sometimes Jim becomes so focused on a single sense that he leaves reality for a minute, just packs up and splits for parts unknown. It's weird to watch, but it's fascinating. Could be colors, or the smell of fresh tomatoes, or the sounds of bugs in the walls. Could be anything.

We were having a hell of a storm. Pounding rain, almost loud enough to drown out the game. And he was staring at the wall, listening. So I took a moment just to look at him, just to appreciate the way his eyes absorb the gray of the thunderclouds and turn even more blue. He's not a bad looking man, and it's pretty hard not to notice. But I digress. After a little while, I went back to watching the game. Take a sip, watch the game. Quietly, because I didn't want to disturb him. And when I took one more peek in his direction, Jim was watching me.

It was the way he was watching me, like he was looking straight through me, at first. So I chalked it up to a zone-out, especially when he didn't answer me. Went back to watching the game, drinking my beer.

He kept looking at me. It made my hair stand on end.

Unnerving, annoying, whatever, right? I mean, being stared at should be irritating. It shouldn't be erotic. But it was.

So finally, when I couldn't stand it anymore, I opened my mouth to say something, but he was watching the game, smiling, drinking his beer.

I can see this is going to be an interesting relationship.

Tape 8: April 20, 1996

I don't know what to think. I don't know what...

If this weren't research to me, I wouldn't know what to do. I just...I don't know.

The subject is asleep in my bed. Where I was, a minute ago. With his arms around me. It was because I couldn't sleep, because I was thrashing around in here, freaking out. I keep seeing that psycho nutcase breaking down the fucking door and dragging me away.

Jim heard me, and he came down here with me, and he wouldn't leave. Pretty soon, we were body to body. And I went right to sleep. But it didn't last long. Because I woke up wanting him, man, and it's not like that, it can't be like that, this is too important.

I've got cuts and bruises all over my wrists from the chains he tied me with and I'm still dopey from the stuff Lash gave me. Strike that. Remember to delete the name of the suspect when you write this, Sandburg...

[long pause, sounds of mumbling and a soft male voice]

I'll have to finish this later.

[tape resumes]

I had to wait until he went back to sleep, or he would have overheard me, and it would contaminate the research.

It's crazy. Something made him realize I wasn't there with him, and he woke up. I don't get this at all. He made himself crazy trying to find me. Not because of this project. Because he feels, well, responsible for me.

I guess I should just hit the highlights. I'm so tired that I'm not making any sense, here. I was kidnapped by a psycho serial killer and the subject saved my ass.

Hanging out with the subject is kind of dangerous to my health.

[another long pause]

What I'm getting at is, he took me to the hospital, fussing over me like somebody's mother, and he told me how he used his senses to find me. Sense of smell, to narrow down the odors associated with a duck pond. Sense of hearing to listen for my voice. His face changed when he told me that, and I don't know why, but it has something to do with what I said, or was saying. I don't know. Sense of sight, to pinpoint my location, to find the clue that led him to me in the first place.

And all though it, he had his hand on my wrist, massaging it, or on my neck, with his fingers digging in, taking away the tension. And when I fell asleep in the hospital, he was holding my hand.

I can't afford to let this get complicated. Tomorrow I'm going to find things to do away from here, because I'll be damned if I'll let this turn me into a shrinking violet, running for comfort in Jim's direction. Fuck that.

Tape 9: May 1, 1996

I'm starting to think Jim attracts trouble. Maybe it's some kind of karmic thing. No case he's assigned is ever simple or uncomplicated. But I'll come back to that.

First, down to business. The subject has exhibited a marked negative reaction to cold medicines containing common ingredients. When taken, the medicine caused a disproportionate sensory spike that was almost completely out of Jim's control. Vision was drastically altered, to the point the subject complained of painful brightness and described it as looking down a long, blurred tunnel. Small noises were deafening. In the short time available, I wasn't able to find an answer; the effects lasted until the medication worked its way through the subject's bloodstream and were out of his system, approximately three hours.

Obviously, pain control is going to be of primary concern if Jim is injured - if he's given the wrong kind of mediation, he could be incapacitated for hours, even days. I'll have to work on that, just in case. In the meantime, I'm looking for homeopathic and folk remedies for everyday concerns like headaches, muscle aches, colds and flu. Jim's wary of taking anything I prepare, but after this experience, I'm willing to bet he'll have a much more receptive attitude about it.

We spent the night last night on a train, trying not to get killed or get anyone else killed. Jim handed me a gun at one point and expected me to use it. Not just point it at somebody for effect. We'd never really discussed how I feel about weapons before, but we did when I got home. Having the power to kill someone a mere squeeze of the trigger away isn't something I'm really comfortable with. I'm going to have to re-evaluate my feelings on the issue, since it's a sure bet I would have been killed if I wasn't willing to shoot that gun.

Surprisingly, I think I really was ready, but I hope I don't have to find out how right or wrong I am about that anytime soon.

Tape 10: May 10, 1996

Until today, I never really stopped to think about what would happen if the wrong person got access to the information I've been storing about the subject. I guess the world is actually pretty damned lucky that the subject has chosen to use his powers for good. I don't mean to make him sound like Captain Marvel, here, but you know, the potential is there, and if he was a different kind of man, the world would be in a lot of trouble.

The thing is, when you actually have scruples, it's easier for some folks to use them against you. Threats to innocent people and all that. The subject won't ever let anything to happen to a civilian if he can help it. Today, he had to use his Sentinel abilities to help this criminal steal some technology, and if he hadn't, thousands of people could have died, maybe millions. It bugs me to think that something I write could open that door for someone else. I'll have to be careful to hide his identity, and I don't know how I can do that. Not without jeopardizing the research. It's tricky.

Something else is bugging me, too, and I think it's the same thing that's bothering him. He's been up and down all night, not sleeping well. This jerk who coerced the subject into helping him was ready to blow me away. I mean, he was ready to shoot me, just to keep the subject in line. Sure I was scared, but it's Jim I was really worried about, because all that stuff about not letting innocent people get hurt goes double for me, and I think he would have done just about anything. And he's restless because deep down, he knows that, and I know it too, and he knows that I know...damn it. Aside from maybe murdering somebody, he would have gone along, thinking that he could stop whatever was going to happen before it got too far out of hand. And I'm not so sure about that, and somehow, I don't think he is, either.

Tape 10: May 20, 1996

I helped close a case for the PD. In the process, I screwed up the head of a girl I cared about, I acted like a jerk, I got myself caught and Jim had to come to the rescue, and the whole thing was a disaster.

[long pause]

I mean, I'm just supposed to be an observer. Jim is always preaching about professional distance, about not getting too close, not getting involved. I should have paid a little more attention. It's pretty easy to slip out of that zone of protective distance and into really giving a damn about what happens to these people we help.

Or, that Jim helps. I couldn't even help myself.

There's not a whole lot of difference, I guess, between me getting too involved with this particular case and me getting too involved with police work as a whole. My focus is supposed to be on my subject and on collecting and analyzing information related to the way he uses his senses. Professional distance... I'd better start repeating that as a mantra when I meditate.

There's also this little thing called transference, where feelings for one person are shifted onto another. I'm having a little problem with that, too. I've never fallen for a girl so quickly, and I don't think it was because of the girl. She's beautiful, no question, but there's something about wanting what you can't have that will make you decide to take what you can. Even if it's not even close to what you really want.

Tape 10: June 17, 1996

The subject met a woman and fell into bed with her, and now I have the really not cool job of explaining why that isn't something he consciously chose. When he comes home, that is. It's almost 3AM and I'm not expecting him before morning, really. This is probably as close to a mating imperative as he'll ever get. He practically has to have her, and I've been up all night trying to figure out why.

It's pheromones, I think. With his enhanced senses, Jim's more vulnerable to them than the ordinary guy, and that is a real problem, because it's like his libido is on overdrive. For a guy who's usually not into making eyes at a woman he's just met, this is going to be weird for him. Not only that, this particular chick is the one who's been committing the robberies he's been investigating, or at least I think she is. When he finds out, it's going to throw him for a major loop.

I'm not sure it's worth mentioning, but I did wonder if he would have that reaction to members of the same sex based on body chemistry as well, and what activates it, and how often it happens. Don't know if it would be possible to form a theory 'bout that one, or to test it even if I could, but it's intriguing. Funny thing is, I can't seem to drop the idea. I can't seem to stop the little pictures going round and round in my head, man, it's a fucking carnival of Sentinel and observer, and it's all the kind of stuff that I'd be smarter not to think about.

It really isn't the research that kept me up all night.

Tape 11: July 8, 1996

It's official: the subject is turned on by male pheromones. But oddly enough, not any old male. Nope. Just me.


It was easy enough to put it to the test, once I figured out how to do it without letting him know. It's hard to put one over on a guy who senses everything. It couldn't exactly be a scientific experiment, with control groups and so forth, since this is all subjective anyway. So I just measured increases in normal behavior based on added stimulus. Sort of like putting two and two together.

The subject touches me pretty much constantly. I've sort of gotten used to it. I'd say I like it, but I'm not supposed to like it. I'm a scientist. I'm supposed to be above all that. I do like it, though. Enough that I set things up to measure increases in the frequency and type of touch as an indicator of arousal.

Of course, no man responds to the pheromones of every woman, but most men exhibit at least a mild response to the introduction of any female pheromones. So I just collected personal items from women, making sure each woman was aroused at the time she handled an item. I felt like an asshole doing it, but hey, it's all in the name of science, right? A lipstick here, a condom wrapper there, some underwear...anyway, I swiped them over his pillowcase before he came home and waited to see what his reaction was. Just a tiny bit of scent, not enough to consciously tip him off. Ten for ten, he tossed, he turned, he paced the apartment in the middle of the night, he was irritable in the morning, or he practiced the art of self-relief.

Had some friends of mine collect items their boyfriends touched when they were aroused - now, that took some explaining, there - and tried the same experiment. Nine nights of blissful sleep, not a care in this world. Morning ten - which was the morning after I...let's just say I left my scent in the bed...he came downstairs in the middle of the night, interrupted my study session, tracked me around the apartment like a prowling cat, and touched me so often that I started to get a little aroused by his proximity.

It was so tempting just to turn to him when he crowded me on the couch, just to turn my face that direction and wait for him to taste me. Because that's what he wanted to do, subliminally, even if he wasn't aware of it. But there's a line there I can't cross, and neither can he.

Anyway, score one for my instincts. The subject responds to male pheromones - ironically, the same pheromones I happen to be giving off daily. Now there's a twist I won't be writing in my dissertation.

Tape 12: September 4, 1996

There's been some weird shit going on. I've been thinking of joining a field expedition to Borneo with Dr. Stoddard. A few months ago, this is something I would have jumped at. There's no denying the fact that I love working in the jungle. There's something so cool about being close to nature, about the fact that it doesn't remotely resemble anything modern and convenient.

But hey, that's not the point of all this.

Scientific distance has been hard to maintain. I've done pretty well over the summer, but it hasn't been easy. Lots of tests and experiments to keep my brain where it ought to be. The subject has been pretty patient, considering.

That's the problem. I mentioned the trip to Jim, and he was hurt. Really hurt, as in, down deep. He makes a big show of not giving a damn, about wanting me to do what's best for my career, but it's a front. He wants me here. And I don't think it has anything to do with the project, or the research. I wish I could describe the look on his face.

I think I was hoping he would ask me to stay, but I should have known he wouldn't do that. Macho pride, or whatever. He needs me, but I don't see him saying that anytime before, you know, hell freezes over. The truth is, I'm totally torn about this one. Part of me is so on that plane, man, already on my way to Borneo, taking notes about the native culture, and part of me has grown tethers and is stuck to the subject.

Which brings me to the current problem. One of our friends from the PD is missing, and his son, and Jim is packing for an expedition into the jungle to find them.


Honestly? My first reaction here was to insist that he let me go with him. It's perfect. I can see what he's like in the wild, with all of his instincts functioning, with everything running full throttle. If this is the last chance I get to do this, then I'll have to do it right while I can.

Then I stopped to think about it, really think about what I'd been saying in my head. Our friend. Our work.

Our life.

I didn't realize I thought of this as us. Not Jim's space with me in it, but our space. Our life together. My work revolves around his work; his work has become my work. I've never offered to move out; he's never asked me when I'm going to find a place. Couple days ago, he asked me if I wanted to hang that my Mabutto tribal mask in the hallway. Said it was so ugly, it would brighten the place up.

I'm still not sure I should go, but I'm going anyway. For all kinds of reasons. For me, for Jim, for our...our friends.

Tape 13: September 7, 1996

Man, am I glad to be home. This was an experience I still haven't processed completely - there's a lot to tell, so I'll try to get it all out while it's fresh in my memory.

We were close to the area where the subject first experienced his powers. It had a definite effect on him. He seemed almost disconnected from his senses, struggling with some kind of decision. He would only tell me bits and pieces about what was bothering him, and even after we got home, it took him a few days to give it all to me. Turns out he had a vision, and had to decide to accept the responsibility for being a Sentinel. It was a vision of a panther, sleek and powerful, and he felt it was leading him to a decision, a choice - to be what he was meant to be, or turn his back on being a Sentinel. He chose the path of a Sentinel, apparently, and his senses returned. The way he describes it, with such wonder and amazement, made me wish I could have seen it myself. Seeing it through his eyes was almost as good, I guess.

I've never seen a man even remotely this powerful. When he's focused, he's like something from the distant past, a kind of man who doesn't belong in the modern world. Every part of his body works with the senses and the mind to produce an efficient animal, capable of hunting, stalking, tracking and killing. I was awed, and a little afraid of what he can do. When he's here, he's civilized, socialized. He's not the same man in the wild. It's not that he's a soldier, although I suppose that's a part of it too, but he's more. He's evolved. Or maybe he's a throwback. I can't quite make up my mind.

Whatever it is about him, I am drawn to it. The harder I try to deny it, the clearer it becomes. I feel it, and so does he. The relationship between us, my role in his life - it's all part of a larger connection to things outside of what we are individually. I can't leave now. I don't want to.

I could say it was the research, and that it was more important than the trip to Borneo, but I'd be kidding myself. And I didn't try to kid Jim. He would have known it was a damned lie.

[long pause]

I think I want him more than I've ever wanted anyone. I catch him staring at me, following the line of my body with his eyes, looking away as I look, turning his back on me like the guilt is too much for him. I think about my work, man, and I don't want anything to get in the way, but I spend entire nights with the vision of him in my head, fucking me raw, seducing me, and I'm having a hard time drawing that line these days. I want to draw it, I do, but it's not that easy.

If I don't draw that line, I might as well stop now. Put the recorder away and just own up, just make him realize what he's trying to ignore. But I can't. I started this for a reason, and I'm going to finish it.

Tape 15: October 17, 1996

Subject has been extremely disturbed the past four days. Restless, unable to sleep. Even though I asked him repeatedly, he was reluctant to discuss the problem with me. I think I finally broke through this morning after a long talk with him, at which point he described a recurring dream he's been having. God, he's so closed, he's almost repressed to the point where getting information is like prying out his deepest, darkest secrets. It's ridiculous.

I'm not sure I understand, but I've been up all night, trying to interpret it. The subject says that the dream begins in the jungle, where he's camped as he might have been during his time in the military. He sees a large gray wolf circling the perimeter of the camp, kept away by the fire. When he goes to put out the fire, the wolf approaches and crouches at his feet. He goes back to sleep and the wolf sleeps next to him.

Freud would have a great time with this one, man. Is this deep, or what? I mean, the symbolism alone. Fire, wolves, jungles. Geez.

As near as I can figure, I'm the wolf. He's had dreams like this before. The fire, I think, represents his need for comfort, his need to protect himself, to see the light of understanding. But the wolf crouching at his feet...that one could be several things.

And I don't want to go there.

If I were being honest with him, I'd tell him every possible interpretation, from the submission angle right down to the fact that he might be sublimating a desire to be close to me.

Yeah, that one would go over well.

I am too involved in this as it is. I keep telling myself to back off, and I keep getting closer and closer in. Something's bound to happen. These dreams of Jim's mean something. I can sense that something's coming, and so can he. Something is going to happen and when it does, I want to make sure I can handle it objectively.

[long pause]

One more thing. I sat in the living room last night and listened to the rustle of his sheets as he tossed and turned upstairs, tried to make out what he was muttering. Looking for clues, hey, that's me, Sherlock Holmes. I guess I should have looked at myself first, because the only thing I heard was the thing I should never have heard, the word that's going to screw this up completely. But I knew if I listened long enough, I'd hear it. Oh, yeah. And when he said my name, I wanted to go back in time, put the word and the memory away and close my ears and my eyes and pretend, but that's not possible. So many other possibilities are out there, if only...goddammit.

[sound of papers being thrown]

Tape 16: October 30, 1996

I should be getting hazard pay, man, for the bullshit I've been going through. I got shot yesterday! Well, not shot, exactly. Okay, yeah. I got shot. I happened to have had a bulletproof vest on at the time, but I still bruised some ribs. Might even have cracked one.

Jim's been very nonchalant about it all, but let me tell you, he wasn't too calm about it when it happened. I think he thought I was dead. He's been shot like that before. Hell, I'm pretty sure there's not too many injuries Jim hasn't had. But it was scary for me. Not to mention that it hurt like a sonofabitch. I might have thought he was just brushing it off, except that I know he was in a little bit of a panic when he got to me.

Well, not to hit the point too hard or anything, but it's obvious that he cares what happens to me. I knew that. Just...after what's been happening lately, it was nice to know for sure. To see it in his eyes.

Tape 18: November 6, 1996

Okay, I need to take a step back, bigtime. Jim almost died yesterday, and I am way more freaked than I should be at this point. Everything is fine, everything is okay, and I'm a wreck, I mean, I am completely whacked, here. It didn't really set in until way after the fact. It's delayed trauma, I guess.

What a way to go, drowning in a vat of unrefined oil. It's a long story. I was almost too late; he went under several times while I was trying to pull him out. At the time, it was just a relief to see him alive and well and...oily. Too many other things were happening - I got a little whack to the head, I defused a bomb, all kinds of things. I'll never be able to say that working with Jim is boring.

We got back home from the rig late in the afternoon and I was so exhausted I thought I'd conk out on the floor if I didn't get prone pretty quick. So I did, and I slept, but I woke up in the middle of the night, brain in overdrive.

He came down here last night, when he thought I was asleep. I know he could tell as soon as he stepped in that there was no chance I didn't know he was there. He waited, and he listened, and I turned over and looked at him, and if that moment had gone on one fraction of a second longer I don't think I'd be able to walk today, because I would have been too sore to stand after he took me. And then he moved away, and he left me aching and wondering and so fucking frustrated that I can't breathe.

I woke up this morning hard as a rock, ready to rumble, and suddenly I lost it. I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think. I only saw a picture of myself as I might be without Ji- the subject. I tried to organize my thoughts so I could record what happened here, and all I wanted suddenly was to touch him.

And he appeared. Big as life, eyes round like saucer plates, and I swear he could hear me, could tell what I was thinking, and I looked scared. I looked like some kid who just got beat by the school bully, and now here comes my big brother, all ready to fight. But he isn't my brother, man. He's something a lot more sexual than that.

He asked me if I was okay, and I said yeah, man, sure, what do you mean? At least I said it in my head. My mouth didn't move. I made this little noise, and he wrapped his arms around me because it was like he needed what I needed, to feel him, to be close to him. I put my face in his shirt and said his name. Because I had to hear his name, I had to say it, had to face it.

Fuck, fuck. And then he let me go and he was gone like a shot, and he won't look at me now, except in that strange detached way of his, and he's distant and all business and like nothing ever happened, and I can't fucking take this. I'm going to watch him die someday, and it's so not worth it. It's not worth it. Fuck.

Tape 18: November 14, 1996

Naomi always used to tell me - "If you're going to do something, do it well." She drummed the idea into my head that if I was going to take on something new, something I didn't know how to do, I should be prepared to learn how to be good at it.

I was always pretty adventurous as a kid - into new stuff all the time, actually. But there were just some things I never expected I'd be doing, and playing detective falls right into that category. By the same token, I didn't have a clue how much I'd like it until I started working with the police, and now I think about that quite a bit. How different my life might be if I weren't entrenched in academia.

It's a sort of paradox - on the one hand, I'm trying pretty damned hard to keep myself separate, to look at things with an objective eye, to hold things at arm's length so I can see them better. On the other hand, I have to be right in there with the subject so I can see exactly what he sees, and that isn't exactly conducive to creating distance. I'm in pretty deep, and I can't say that it's a problem for me. It should be, I know that, but it isn't. I'm more disturbed that I'm not disturbed by it.

Case in point: my mother came to visit. Jim met her for the first time. I sort of got the feeling my childhood was being dissected when I wasn't looking. I would have told Jim to butt out, but it's only fair, since I've been picking apart his life since before I even met him.

While she was here, we had the obligatory scene - she doesn't think I should be doing this. Hanging around with Jim, I mean, putting myself in harm's way. Neither did I, but her objections sort of made everything really clear to me. She doesn't think I'm cut out for police work. I didn't think I had it in me, but the minute she said that, I realized I did, I do. I'm a part of it, so much so that Jim spent time talking me in to helping with this undercover operation, instead of talking me out of it.

I became involved by accident, but I have something valuable to contribute, and now that contribution has been acknowledged. You know, becoming a part of the tribe. Which I guess I was really hoping for all along, in a way. In a very real way. Part of Jim's tribe. He couldn't join mine; he doesn't belong there.

So what does it mean, exactly? I don't know. Just that I belong where he is, right now. I'm cool with that.

Tape 19: November 20, 1996

I decided to take a little vacation. I had to clear my head. There was too much happening, too much to sort out. Seattle is cold this time of year, but there are a couple of great bands playing this weekend, and it's one thing Jim's guaranteed not to want to do. He's off fishing with Simon.

I've been writing a sample chapter of the dissertation, playing with words, dodging the issue. It doesn't feel real to me anymore. I wrote about the subject's senses, his powers, but I'm not writing about a subject anymore, I'm writing about a man. A man I want to know intimately. I see my opinions and my awe bleeding through into every paragraph I write. I thought I was better than this, a little better at what I chose for a career. I love what I do, man, I really do, I mean, I can't imagine doing anything else. I love riding with Jim, the subject, but I can't do that forever. There's only so far I can go with that before I have to stop pretending and get back to the real world.

This trip has had some positive effects. For one thing, I didn't have the subject to stare at and form my world around, so the distraction was removed. I seem to have found some focus. I was able to describe him as a man. I interviewed Jim's ex-wife by phone last night, and it was an eye-opener. She seems to think he fears intimacy. Well, duh. But hey, it's good to get another point of view.

I considered calling up Jim's parents - he never talks about them much - but Jim's ex set me straight about that. She gave me an earful about what a bastard his father is, and how his mother left when Jim was still a kid. So I think I'll leave that alone for now. Looks to me like Jim isn't close to his father, and his father wouldn't be much help to me where Jim's concerned.

It's been a revelation to me that no one knows Jim as well as I do. No one. Not even his ex. He has very few close friends, and those I've met don't strike me as being particularly trustworthy. Jim's generally a good judge of character, but he can be clueless when he likes somebody. Not cynical enough. I'm not really one to talk, but this isn't about me. Much.

Jim isn't open in the least. He has these huge walls he builds between himself and everyone else around him. Even me. You'd think I'd be the last person he'd want to talk to about things, given his fear of being known too well - but he is surprisingly good at telling me what he needs. Or maybe I'm just good at interpreting the non-verbal stuff. Touch...he's very good with touch. He has a whole vocabulary of touches. And I know what most of them mean, now. There's still a few I'd like to try.


You know, maybe I just need to get laid. I saw a guy in the hotel bar last night, said he was going to the show at the Rack tonight. I suppose I could head over there in a little bit, see what's happening. It would do me good to think about someone...something else for a little while.

Tape 19: November 27, 1996

My cooking, according to Jim, sucks. At least, it does today. I burnt the turkey. How can a guy burn a turkey? Good question. If I knew that, I wouldn't have burnt it.

Thankfully, I didn't cook the mashed potatoes, or we'd have starved. Simon and Daryl came over for dinner and we ate mashed potatoes, bread with cranberry sauce, green bean casserole Simon brought, and ready-to-make stuffing. I swear, I didn't mean to turn it into a vegetarian meal. I would have given it a lot more thought than that if I'd known it would be like this.

We seem to be developing an odd little pattern of holiday rituals. Jim buys groceries, we cook together, we eat at the table, sometimes we invite friends over. But not on Christmas. Jim is adamant about that. Thanksgiving is for friends; Christmas is for family. When he first told me that, I started to protest, until I figured out what he was trying to say to me. Distance, my ass.

Tape 20: December 25, 1996

I fell asleep on the couch last night, after getting drunk and pestering Jim to delve back into his childhood memories, calling up scents and sounds and textures. It's incredible, the way he can just concentrate and pick out the smallest strands of things, the way his brother giggled when they were kids, or the bumps and striations in the wrapping paper. He was in rare form last night. I think he was a little drunk, too, because he was touching me. Nothing unusual. He touches me all the time. But still, it was different.

There was a moment...when I fell over the table trying to get my drunk ass to bed, and he tried to catch me, and he ended up wrapped around me on the floor, protecting me from knocking myself out. I took a little peek into his soul right about then, and turns out he wanted me. Scientific evidence notwithstanding, like the fact that his dick was boring a hole in my thigh, or that his hand was moving over my was in his eyes.

Delusional, I guess, or yeah, maybe too drunk to have a clue, but I know what I saw, and if I'd looked there long, he'd have owned me. All of me. His eyes were dilated, but the little bit of color there was so blue, so dark and sensual, and he lowered those lashes and looked right into my heart, and I could not move. Could not. So it's a good thing he was thinking with his head and not his body, or things would be different today. Very different.

And I'd be out on the street, and without a research project, and broken into little bits, literally and figuratively.

Merry Christmas, right? So today, he acts like it never happened. Which is cool with me. Not. But it has to be. For the sake of the project.

He gave me CD's for Christmas. The kind he hates. You know, the music he's told me a million times is just pollution of perfectly good sound waves.

I'm really starting to wonder about him.

Tape 22: January 8, 1997

Just out of the hospital, again. I know many, many nurses by name these days.

Jim went blind a few days ago when he was exposed to the powder form of a powerful hallucinogen. Maybe blind is the wrong way to put it, like the doctor said; Jim could see light, but only light, no shapes or defined forms. There was no overt physical cause; it caused some sort of odd neurochemical change in his brain chemistry because of his Sentinel senses, is my guess. I thought it might be permanent, though I didn't want to tell him that. It scared me, and if he knew I was scared, he wouldn't have handled it well. Instead, I just told him he would have to will his sight to return, actively trying to see.

How weird is that, to know my reactions can have such an impact on Jim?

I should have been taking notes the entire time, but I was completely focused on finding a way for Jim to cope with the loss of his sight. He showed an incredible ability to compensate with smell, touch, hearing. I worried that they might actually cause him some sort of sensory overload, since he's already supersensitive, and the loss of any one sense causes hypersensitivity even in a normal person. But he handled it extremely well.

Using echoes of sound, and that memory of his, he learned to map his surroundings through sound. Worked like a charm, surprisingly.

We spent a fair amount of time working together as a team, fooling people into thinking Jim could see normally so he could proceed with a drug bust he'd been working on. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. Simon had to be convinced. I had to convince myself. I knew Jim wanted it, knew he couldn't stand to be out of control like that. I spent every second pretty sure I was going to screw up somehow and get Jim killed. It wasn't a good feeling.

Meanwhile, Jim and my friend Margaret have been getting closer. I really was hoping they wouldn't hit it off. I tried like hell to keep them from meeting, but it didn't work. Jim was even more insistent when he went blind. It's like he needed something to reassure him that he was still all man. I was filling another function for him, and I don't think he liked relying on anyone that much.

His sight hasn't entirely returned to normal, but he can see through the golden haze. Most objects still have a halo. It's better than it was, though.

I was dosed with the same stuff. Don't really remember much, but they tell me I got hold of a gun and took some shots at officers in the parking garage. What I do remember is Jim's voice. Jim talking to me, Jim calling my name. Jim's arms around me as I hit the ground. Jim's hands touching me, Jim's presence right there next to me when I woke up and couldn't speak because of the tube jammed down my throat. Jim saying things to me that might have been my imagination, and probably were. Lots of words that had to do with need, and fear.

Things I'll never repeat back to him, now that I'm apparently going to live. Although you might think that would be the perfect reason, but if Jim really wanted me to know, he would have told me when I was awake. So I'll just go on pretending, and so will he. It's probably better that way, for now.

Tape 22: January 17, 1997

You know, this one would almost be funny, if it hadn't been such a problem. Jim got his ears cleaned out during his annual physical. And it caused him to overload, since he was suddenly hearing everything at maximum levels. The wax acted as a natural filter, far better than cotton or earplugs. I introduced Jim to the benefits of white noise, for which he wasn't properly grateful.

I got a glimpse into just how powerful his senses really are - I mean, I understood intellectually, and I've got long lists of what he can and can't do, and some of it is fucking incredible, but he went into Sentinel overdrive on this case. He saw a body dumped into the bay from several miles away. He literally was able to pinpoint where a body had been just from the heat left behind, even minutes after the body was gone. And then he went into a kind of a fugue state during the recovery operation - I didn't even try to bring him back from the zone. It didn't seem practical. He was in a place he needed to be to cope with it all.

I think sometimes about what it must be like to be Jim, to have your senses and your mind invaded all the time by outside stimuli, by things you can't stop or modify or make go away. I don't know how he can stand it. I'm amazed he hasn't gone completely insane. I'm not sure if I've helped with that. I like to think so. I just wonder if it will ever be possible for him to switch his abilities on and off at will, years from now, and if they will grow stronger. It's a lot to think about. Jim seems to think the senses will diminish with time - he says it almost hopefully. I didn't have the heart to tell him I think it's the other way around.

Tape 23: February 20, 1997

A while back, I postulated that trouble followed Jim, like a big old rain cloud over his head. I take it back. It's me; I'm the trouble magnet. I mean, seriously - I've been abducted by killers, dosed with dangerous drugs, beaten up, hit in the head, knocked out, and now I've been held hostage by a nutjob who wanted to drop an elevator full of people dozens of stories. I swear to god, Cascade has got to be the most dangerous place on the face of the earth - at least it is for me. I could just be standing still, minding my own business, and I'd probably end up at the wrong end of a gun.

I said that to Jim tonight when we were safely back here in the loft, drinking a beer and trying to act casual. We do that a lot. It's our own ritual, that whole relaxing-in-the-loft-with-a-beer thing. I almost get killed, or Jim gets his ass kicked, we come back here for a beer. No sweat. Laugh it off, talk about it, be cool. Decompress.

We start off easy. Just jokes about work, women, school. Stories about exploits, heroics, the whys and wherefores of what we each did that day. We pat each other on the back. We reassure each other. It's comforting, in a sort of oddly macho way.

Then comes the part I appreciate the most, the part Jim ought to hate, but he doesn't. We can say anything to each other, talk about fear, about the things that scare us. Where Jim tells me what I did right, or wrong. Where I almost always end up thanking him for being there, one way or another. A few more beers and all those fears come rushing out, calmly dissected and set aside where they can't bother anybody anymore.

This time, Jim told me he was scared. Really scared, like he hasn't been since Lash got hold of me. He didn't think he could get us out in time.

Of course, he said all that standing in the kitchen while I was on the sofa, so I couldn't see his face or ask him questions. He knows me way too well.

This time, I didn't say anything. I drank my beer and I waited. He came in from the kitchen loaded down with chips and dip, and he set them down on the table, and looked at me. I drank my beer, and I waited. He picked up his bottle and went out onto the balcony, and after a minute, I went out there with him. He draped his arm around me, pulled me up close, ran his hand over my shoulder, and I waited.

He asked me if I was all right, and I said sure, Jim. Why wouldn't I be? He pointed out that I never seem bothered much by the shit I go through, that it just rolls off me like water off a duck.

I drank my beer.

He said, look at me, Blair, and I did, and there was this ache in my chest, and I felt my throat closing, and he met my eyes and watched me. I couldn't look away. He collected my bottle and set it down with his on the ledge by the railing.

I said we should go inside, and he tightened his grip and asked me again, you okay?

When he wrapped his arms around me, that was pretty much the end of the conversation. Which was all right with me. I didn't have anything to say anyway.

Tape 25: April 6, 1997

Jim has been going on and on and on about this woman he's been dating. I know her; she's a professor at Rainier. She teaches criminal justice; I audited one of her classes about a year ago, before I met Jim. Good teacher, but personally she's just annoying. Every time she comes over here, she grills me about my doctorate, about my progress with the committee. It makes me wonder if she knows something I don't. Granted, I'm sort of late for peer review, but my extension was granted and I don't think it'll be a problem. I'm getting the feeling she's privy to some gossip I'm not hearing. It's irritating.

Meanwhile, I've been making time with this girl Jenny I met at a seminar. She's a grad student too. We have a lot in common. I'll probably never find out what she's really like, though, because every damn time we set a date, I end up getting dragged out on a stakeout or a call with Jim. If it weren't for that serious look on Jim's face every time it happens, that serious don't-fuck-around-Chief look, I'd swear he's doing it on purpose. If I catch him smiling, so help me, I'm going to kick his ass.

Tape 26: May 4, 1997

Oh, man, what was I thinking? I let Jenny read some of my journals. Not all of them - definitely not the ones having to do with my research - just the ones that had to do with my personal life. I thought a little touch of honesty would be good for our relationship, you know, help her see the real me? It didn't exactly work out that way. She freaked out. Basically, she threw the damned things at me and went into a fit about Jim. Jim this, Jim that, Jim rules your fucking life. I wasn't sure what to say. I just collected the journals and watched her leave. Jim is going to get a hell of a laugh out of this. Oh, yeah. Like I don't feel stupid enough already.

Tape 26: May 7, 1997

My life has developed this weird tendency to go from ultra-normal to off-the-charts fucked up in less than a minute. One second I'm in the truck with Jim, riding the tail end of a convoy to deliver a prisoner to another jurisdiction. The next, the truck is full of holes, every window is blown out, I have glass in my hair, the tires are flat, and Simon is a prisoner of that prisoner.

And what the hell is it with the helicopters, anyway? I swear to god, there are more helicopters per capita in Cascade than anywhere else in the free world - but here, you have to be a criminal to get one.

Got shot, again. This time it was bad enough that they had to put a tourniquet on me. Got dragged through the forest again by bad guys. Man, I'm getting tired of this. I was airlifted to Cascade General's trauma unit, where I spent the next few days being coddled by nurses and craving a nice, cold beer.

When I got home, Jim fussed over me for a while. I made him go back to work, give me some privacy. He's taken to sleeping on the couch - no repeats of the nights he spent refusing to leave me alone in my room - and checking my bandage repeatedly. It doesn't do any good to tell him I can do it myself. He just gets out the antibiotic ointment, washes the wound, bandages it and completely ignores me. I stopped protesting a while ago.

It's not exactly unpleasant to have him smoothing that ointment on me. The rest of me hurts in ways I didn't think were possible - being shot sucks, and I mean, it really sucks - but the way he touches me, I can almost forget the pain.

He knows. I see it in his eyes, in the way he won't look at me sometimes.

I don't care anymore.

Tape 26: May 20, 1997

Finally met Jim's brother, and he turned out to be self-centered in ways Jim isn't. I would love to be able to record something nice about how the subject is not a product of his environment, how his childhood was normal and stable. But if his brother is any indication, they were fucked up from the get-go.

I never had a brother. Being an only child wasn't the greatest. It makes me sad to see what they've wasted. Family is more than shared genes. Jim is my family now as much as Naomi is.

I saw how Stephen looked at me. There were a million questions he was dying to unload on me. Every time Jim touched me, Stephen stared. I could almost hear him asking. I wanted to turn around and ask if he knew something about Jim that would make him think it was possible. 'Cause I'm sure not ever going to ask Jim. Much as I might suspect, much as I might think it's possible, I have to go by what I know.

Which, even after all this time, just isn't a hell of a lot.

II. Omicron

Tape 40: September 10, 1997

I've been trying not to freak out all day. I don't even know where to start with this one. Every time I think about it, I end up with so many questions, the kind of questions there aren't any answers for, not now. Who would I ask? I'm getting ahead of myself.

[sound of a deep breath]

Jim lost his sentinel abilities. Well, they're back now, but that's not really the point. He didn't get them back because of anything I did. Or maybe he did. I'm not sure anymore.

I've referred to Incacha in previous notes. He taught Jim the ways of the sentinel, introduced him to the culture of he tribe, all that. He showed up here in the city a couple days ago. The reasons aren't all that important. Well, actually, they are, but not as important to this project as what happened because of it. He's dead. He was killed, and before he died, he passed on the way of the shaman to me. I don't know what the hell that means. No, I mean, I understand what the shaman is, and what he does, but how can he just pass it on to me? I woke up this morning thinking I should, you know, look different, or feel different, or something. But nothing's changed. Except maybe the way the subject looks at me.

There's something in his eyes now that wasn't there before. I can't put my finger on it.

Back to Incacha. He said several things to the subject as he was dying, and I'm sure that Jim wasn't translating accurately. He was too upset. I mean, this was his friend, dying on his couch. There were things said between them that had to do with me, but I didn't understand enough of the language to make sense of it. All I know is, Incacha wanted me to show the subject the way to find his animal spirit. Should be easy, right, except I was totally lost. What the hell does an actual shaman do? I know all the bookish things, but the practical application is totally different, man. Besides, I've spent so much time concentrating on Jim, on sentinel abilities, that I've never stopped to worry much about the roles of others in the tribe in relation to the sentinel.

I helped Jim focus, guided him through meditation so he could access his subconscious and speak to his animal spirit, and he regained his senses. I don't think I had much to do with that, actually, but you never can tell. And if I did, I don't know what it was that made the difference.

Now I'm totally confused. And I have all these questions. Why did Jim lose his senses? What were the subject and Incacha saying to each other? Did he tell me everything? Oh, man, that sounds like I don't trust him. That's not it at all. What is it going to mean for me to be the shaman? Can I do something I didn't know I could do?

Jim was shaken by Incacha's death. He went over the edge, and I had to bring him back. And maybe that's what a shaman does. Maybe that's what I've been all along. I don't think it has a damn thing to do with mystical stuff like visions and spirit guides, because I've never seen anything like that, and probably never will. It just has to do with the practical stuff. You know, 'listen to your spirit guide' kind of advice. That's intuitive. I can do that.

I still want to know what Incacha said to Jim. All of it. When he's ready to talk about it, I'm going to dig it out of him.

Tape 43: October 1, 1997

You know, it's absolutely fascinating to watch the way women react to the subject. He attracts them like honey attracts flies. They gush and smile and do all those woman-things that most men fall for in the blink of an eye.

Jim, however, seems to have taken to someone who's more like him than anyone I've seen. She's strong, she's pushy, she's practical and unsentimental, and she's basically as butch as Jim. Only prettier. He gave me the whole 'opposites attract, like repels' speech - like I've never heard that before - and then went on to prove he was all wet. 'Cause if that theory were true for him, I sure wouldn't be making notes about his attraction to someone else.

Tape 45: October 29, 1997

It's official; the subject has a temper. A bad one. People have told me that I'm a hot head, but my trigger pales by comparison. I wonder, if Jim were tested, how far up the scale he'd be in terms of testosterone levels? I mean, he can be one of the most compassionate, gentle people I know, but when he goes ballistic, he really flies off the deep end. I'll have to ask him if he'll submit a blood sample. I don't think he'll like that.

What brought all this on was Jim being stalked. Hey, there's a switch! Someone was actually fixated on Jim, for once. I've had my share of psycho nut-buddies, thanks. And all because he lost his temper in classic fit of road rage and provoked this guy who made Jim his personal stalk-ee.

I'm trying to figure out how much connection his senses have to his anger, and what triggered it. Normally, he doesn't switch into that sort of protective mode unless he's on the job, and there he's always calm. Can't come up with a satisfactory answer. It will make a good chapter for the diss.

Tape 47: December 23, 1997

I've pretty much slacked off on the tests. I could catalog Jim's senses ten different ways from now till forever, and it wouldn't change the core information I've collected for the project. So I'm just sort of observing him now, putting together little details as I watch him use his senses in his day to day life.

It's interesting to me that my journals have become the repository of all the dry, technical stuff, while these tapes are more like a private diary. There's information in both places that's greatly beneficial to understanding Jim, but...I don't know. It seems a little less awkward to just think out loud about him. It's sort of like translating what's in my brain directly to words and verbalizing it, just once. Then it's recorded forever, and I don't have to dwell on it anymore.

Christmas is coming in a couple of days. I bought Jim a sweater, and a white noise generator for the dashboard of the truck - good for rush-hour traffic - and pots and pans for the kitchen. And a new toaster. I stowed an extra one away under the sink, just in case.

And some of those godawful R&B albums he loves. I just hope he doesn't try to make me sit through them Christmas day.

Tape 48: January 14, 1998

I have to admit that I was not at all crazy about Jim going undercover in a prison. The kinds of thoughts that ran through my head, man...I'm not even going to go through them here. I can't put them into words. There's an evil subculture in a prison; Darwin's theories have never found a better proving ground. Jim is certainly one of the fittest no matter where he goes, but when the fittest form big gangs and go around...well, let's just say I barely slept a wink the entire time he was inside.

There was an interesting dynamic at work while Jim was gone, one I've been thinking about constantly, trying to interpret in the context of my research. I didn't want Jim to go, but most of all I didn't want him to go without me. I can't even imagine what the inside of a prison is like, but I opened my mouth and volunteered to be Jim's backup without giving it a second thought. And Jim shut me down. He looked a little wild, actually. He looked...angry.

But I know that look. Not anger. Protective instinct. He hides behind that anger and that dismissive demeanor, but it was all about keeping me safe, which he couldn't do in there. And I was feeling an almost desperate need to be where he was. I know it can be explained away by my concern for his safety, but that wasn't it. My desperation to be with him was equal to, and almost greater than, his need to keep me away from danger.

More and more, I'm sure we're connected in some way I can't see or sense, beyond clues like this. I'm pretty sure Jim senses it too, but I haven't asked him about it. I'm won't be ready to discuss it until I figure out what "it" is.

Without Jim here, I was sort the case. Not really needed. The other cops are polite to me but it's not the same. I know I've earned their respect, but I also know they don't quite get why Jim and Simon give me access at all. Nobody treated me as though I was underfoot but I wasn't included, either. I was surprised by how much that bothered me.

Tape 50: February 25, 1998

This has been a bad week.

[long pause]

Jim has been there for me, totally calm, totally solid. No lectures, just lots of sensible reminders about objectivity and not letting my emotions run away with me.

Too many things, just...too much happening at once. A friend of mine was killed, and I wasn't able to step back, look at things from the police point of view. I was living inside my own anger.

For the first time, I pushed him away. I think...I'm pretty sure it put Jim off balance. I didn't mean for that to happen. I just needed some space. I couldn't get clear of my anger. My head was all screwed up. It still is, actually.

He's taken to sleeping on the couch again, through this whole thing. My opinion? I think it's an instinct, to comfort and be nearby in case I need him. He just can't really express that well, and I don't need him in the ways he's used to being there - you know, cop stuff. This is more of the emotional variety of comfort, and he's trying, but he's just not sure what to do, and I can't bring myself to tell him.

There was something else, too. I was getting a little tired of being disregarded whenever I open my mouth. A guy can only listen to people say 'you're not a cop' so many times before he loses his temper. So I went off because they weren't listening to me, and I was making sense. Simon pulled me aside and told me my contribution is valuable, and he meant it. And he apologized.

Under any other circumstances, it probably would have made my day. This day, it only made me feel better for about ten minutes, after which I was back in that bad place, man, that place I don't want to go to anymore.

I couldn't sleep last night. I got up and went into the living room, and Jim was sacked out on the couch. Which, actually, is the whole reason I went out there. I sat down in front of the couch, just to be near Jim. I didn't care if he was asleep. It was better that way. I curled up under an afghan, and put my head back on the edge of the couch, and I stared out the window. And thought about death, and the people close to me, and what I'd do if Jim were killed.

When he started stroking my hair, I didn't say anything. I didn't want to talk. He knew that. He just touched me until I drifted off to sleep. Best sleep - practically the only sleep - I've had all week.

Tape 52: March 15, 1998

Jim has been talking with his dad quite a bit the last few days because of a case involving some things from Jim's childhood. Come to find out that Jim's dad always knew Jim has special senses, but he pretended not to know and tried to convince Jim he was imagining things. All in the name of conformity, of making Jim fit in.

It makes me incredibly sad to think of what Jim went through as a kid. I mean, he could do more and feel more than anyone else, and he had no one to share that with, no one to help him. His father should have respected those gifts, but he made Jim feel like a freak instead. I'm amazed Jim didn't turn out to be some kind of insane homeless guy or something, with the pressures he must have felt. I can see how Jim is hurting over this. I had a second where I felt like a total dick for persuading him to talk to his dad, try to work things out. I think it had to be done, though.

So it seems Jim was always able to use his sentinel senses, but that urge was repressed most of his life - until Peru. Interesting.

Tape 52: March 19, 1998

Jim's been having sensory spikes, and one of them occurred during lovemaking. I was really interested in the details on that one. Way too interested. It isn't healthy for me to be thinking about that stuff in depth. It does bad things to my libido.

But I wonder what that would be like. To have somebody so incredibly focused on me that their every sense is tuned in to my responses, to the way I breathe, the sounds I make, the way my skin feels, how I taste. Or vice versa - what a trip, to be able to fill your mind up with just this person you are making love to.

Mmm. I think it would be smarter if I don't explore this aspect of his senses too closely. It's a little bit like expanding on my own kinks, and I don't think he'd appreciate that much.

Tape 53: April 23, 1998

The subject is getting a little impatient with me, with being studied. If it wasn't obvious before, it is now. He gave me a lecture about always being under a microscope, and then he ditched me to go fishing alone. Not that I let that deter me; Simon and I got it together and followed him up to the river, but he was serious. He wants some space. I suppose it was bound to happen.

You know, I've been living with him two years now, and I just don't hear him saying anything to me about moving out. I'll be damned if I'm going to bring it up. Hell no. This is on him. I like it here.

Tape 53: May 15, 1998

I feel violated. I mean it. Jim read the first chapter of the dissertation after I specifically asked him not to, and took it totally out of context, and then he went apeshit. He went on about trust and betrayal and friendship and I was pretty much ready to punch him in the mouth, and then he walked away from me.

He accused me of digging into his personal life. No shit. I have probably explained the anthropological aspects of this to him ten times in ten different ways, but all he saw was his personal life laid out for everybody to gloat over.

It's just so fucking frustrating. He took it all back, later. Much later. After the damage was done. I turned in the first chapter for review, but I feel like an asshole just for doing what I told him right from the beginning that I was going to do.

I almost burned my notes. I damn near took these fucking tapes and pitched them right into the goddamn bay. I mean, what the fuck? I presumed I had some privacy. What if he's been listening to these things? I have them scattered all over the place in my room. I didn't see the need for locking them up. I'll have to take them to the university and leave them there, or get some kind of lockbox for my notes. I can't have him getting curious and pawing through the rest of this.

I'm not going to be taking many more notes, anyway. I have more than enough material for the dissertation now. I told Jim that once. Maybe it's time for me to move on.

III. Omega

Tape 65: January 23, 1999

Jim was shot today. It's not bad; it'll keep him out of work for a little while, a week at most. It was pretty frightening to run into that store and find him on the ground bleeding. Jim's practically invincible. There's not a lot that puts him down. I think my heart stopped, just for a second, when I saw him there.

He also had a vision of some sort, a jaguar, apparently before he was shot. It seems to have spooked him pretty badly. I didn't have a chance to get many details; every time I try to talk to him about it, I get chased off by a nurse, or by Simon. He's coming home tomorrow, so maybe then I can get some answers.

Tape 65: January 24, 1999

Jim came home and he is acting weird. He's touchy about every noise, everything I do. I finally retreated to my room last night and didn't come out again until I left for the station this morning. I was glad to go; he's driving me crazy. He says it's not about the pain of the wound, but he doesn't want to discuss the vision, and he's not interested in hearing my ideas about it, and in general he's just being a jerk. I'll chalk it up to him being shot, for now, but I think there's more to this.

[tape break; elapsed time]

This is incredible. I've discovered a second Sentinel. At least, I think I have. I need to talk with her a little more, find out what happened to trigger her senses. This is such a huge opportunity for me. Note that the new subject will now be referred to as the secondary subject, while Jim Ellison will now be referred to as the primary subject. For purposes of comparison, I'll be making notes about their mutual abilities, as well as any disparities between the two.

I started to mention it to Jim today when I got home, but he blew me off. Jim has never blown me off that way. I was a little stunned. I didn't even get far enough to mention her sentinel abilities - all he heard was something about a woman, and he locked me out, shut me down. I could speculate on the reasons why, but I don't have enough information. He's not communicating, he's not listening at all.

Tape 65: January 25, 1999

The name of the secondary subject is Alex Barnes. Secondary subject spent a week lost in the woods, hence the prolonged isolation which has triggered her senses. She has shown a willingness to adapt to the gift, but her reluctance to go forward is based on her assumption that she can get rid of these abilities. Now that she knows it isn't the case, I think she'll be much more willing to work on honing those abilities.

I've been unable to illuminate the meaning of the primary subject's spiritual vision. He seems unusually reluctant to explore the matter. Concerning my secondary subject, I've been unable to find any data which would suggest what would happen if two sentinels were to come together- Would they see each other as allies, would they face off in some kind of territorial rivalry? Now if, in fact, my secondary subject does turn out to be a sentinel, I'm gonna have to bring them together in a carefully controlled situation. So at the present time, I've decided not to tell Jim Ellison or Alex Barnes about one another. It's fortuitous that when the subject came up before, the primary subject wasn't interested in hearing it - so I'm not in a position where I have to retract information.

Tape 66: January 28, 1999

The secondary subject has a talent for art, and in many of her paintings, she has expressed sentinel symbolism. She showed them to me today; there's some fascinating stuff there. I was tempted to take photographs and compare some the drawings to sketches from the temples in Peru. She says they just come to her; I think it's incredible.

Tape 66: January 29, 1999

The secondary subject has dreamed of the Temple of the Sentinels. I don't believe this. She has tapped into something deep, something ancestral. Her subconscious mind is supplying her with information she can use to find her way in the waking world. This is exciting, it's incredible. It's beyond my wildest dreams. Even the primary subject hasn't had these experiences - or if he has, he's decided not to share them with me.

There's something else. The secondary subject...Alex has been coming on to me. It's not subtle. I feel a strong connection to her, a pull, and I don't understand it. The only connection I've ever had this strongly with anyone has been Jim. Ordinarily, I might talk to him about it, but he's so focused on pushing me away right now that I don't think I want to attempt this particular subject. It could dredge up reasons and explanations I can't deal with just yet.

[time break]

The primary subject packed my stuff and threw me out of the loft.


I don't...something is very wrong here. I took my boxes down to the basement, just took my research notes and my clothes and I split. He didn't want to explain, he didn't give me a reason, he just told me he wanted me gone. Jim has never acted like this before. I have no clue what's causing it. He won't talk to me. I don't understand. He says he's feeling claustrophobic, needs space.

This has to be tied in some way to Alex's presence. It has to be. But if Jim won't let me explain, how can I help?

Tape 67: January 30, 1999

I've been doing some of the more routine stuff with the secondary subject, practice on eliminating the headaches that come with every use of her senses. I'm feeling a little guilty about that, though, because I feel like I ought to be spending this time with Jim.

Megan told me that he came unglued at work about people touching his stuff. There is some sort of territorial imperative at work here, and now I'm certain the presence of a second sentinel has made him a little crazy. Not crazy. It's having some sort of effect on his nervous system, on his instincts. I can't tell if Alex feels it. Maybe it's different for her because she doesn't view Cascade as her territory.

Megan and I went to talk to Jim tonight and found the loft completely cleaned out, devoid of any furniture and like an icebox. The primary subject had turned off the heat, the electricity, and was talking about something being wrong. And then he rushed out to chase down sirens. He's just acting bizarre. To anyone else, it's got to look like he's lost his mind. I'm not so sure he hasn't, chemically speaking.

There's one other thing. One very uncomfortable thing. The secondary subject tried to seduce me tonight. She showed up at the hotel, dressed provocatively, wine in hand. I had to tell her gently that I wasn't interested. Which isn't true, in point of fact. The attraction I feel for her is something more than physical, but I know it's not a good idea to get involved.

After she left, I sat there and stared out the window and wondered what the fuck I was doing. That's one question I haven't found an answer for yet.

Tape 67: January 31, 1999

The primary subject dropped a bombshell today. Oh, yeah. The secondary subject is a criminal. Not only that, Jim has been having the same dreams - about the Temple. Only he didn't bother to tell me. It all came out in a rush at the station house today, when he said he thought his suspect was a sentinel, and then I sort of blurted out what I knew about Alex, and I never got the details of Jim's experiences because he blew up about what I had supposedly done to him. And then he made me take him to Alex, and he was just a total prick.

The primary subject has conveniently forgotten how he shut me down. And let me add in a couple pieces of relevant but fucked up information. The two of them were circling each other like animals in heat. And if that weren't bad enough, Jim ordered me around and touched me like he was trying to reinforce some sort of ownership of me. That, of course, only lasted until we were out of eyeshot of the secondary subject.

I'm getting this weird feeling, like all I am is a pawn in a game I'm not even familiar with. It's giving me the creeps.

Jim has a good point about the reasons two sentinels would be in the same place, at the same time, and both would find me. I was looking for a way to explain why I think that happened - at least, with regard to me - but he's not listening. Again.

Tape 67: January 31, 1999

This office is really a pit. I need to clean out some of this junk. I don't really notice it, just like I didn't notice it at home. Jim is always bugging me about my room being a mess, but I guess that won't be a problem anymore.

I told him where I would be - well, actually, I said he'd know where to find me. That much is true. I'm pretty sure that he won't be much interested in finding me, though. He told me he felt betrayed. I apologized for keeping what I knew about Alex to myself, but I don't think he understands what has happened here. On some level, even though I'm not sure he realizes it, he thinks I've switched my loyalties, that I've stopped helping him and I'm helping Alex. I think it all has to do with the premise of a Sentinel needing a guide, someone they can depend on, trust in - he thinks she's taken over his territory, so he's letting it go. Letting me go. Because he can't trust me anymore, now that I've helped the Sentinel who's invaded his space.

I can't believe I was so stupid.

He thinks she's dangerous. I don't know what to think. I want him to come here. I want him to take my apology at face value. I want him to get past it, and I want him to understand what's at stake here. More than any of that, I want him to realize that I'm his guide in this - no one else's. I helped her, but she's not important to me, she's not...

I don't love her.

[long pause]

[sound of door opening]


(female voice): If it hadn't been for you, I never would have understood what I really am. I owe you that. You want to know how I really got the Sentinel senses? Solitary confinement in prison. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn't until I met you that I realized what I'd become.

{Blair} And look how you used this gift. What a waste.

(female voice) This is the one thing I really didn't want to do. But I can't leave you alive.

[sound of gun being cocked]

(female voice) I never expected you to love me. I admit to being a little surprised that you didn't respond to my attempt at seducing you. Things would've been different if you hadn't found out the truth so soon. It would have been better if I could have taken you with me, but your loyalties are with him.

{Blair} Nothing would have been different, Alex. I would never have left here willingly.

(female voice) I would have...persuaded you. It doesn't matter now. This will be the catalyst for what I need from Ellison. Without you, he'll be vulnerable, just like I was.

(Blair) He doesn't need me. If you think this will stop Jim, you're wrong. He'll take you down.

(female voice) It won't stop him. It will make him hunt me. And that's what I'm after. Plus I can't leave you to give him clues about my abilities to help him. Stand up. Let's go - outside. You first.

[blank space]

Tape 67: February 1, 1999

Just call me Lazarus, risen from the dead. About three days ago, I died. My secondary subject took me out to the front of the social sciences building at gunpoint, hit me on the head, and drowned me. No question about it; I was dead. Not breathing. She did it to get me out of the way, to make sure Jim wouldn't have an easy time finding her, to protect her secrets.

I think she also did it because she couldn't turn my loyalties away from Jim. But I'll never know that for sure.

Jim was there when I woke up, bending over me, looking more scared than I've ever seen him. Scared, and relieved. Everyone told me the story - they couldn't wait - about how Jim wouldn't give up, how he literally breathed life back into me. That's not the freakish part, though. The part that has me spooked is the vision Jim and I shared.

He gave me the details almost as soon as I was allowed to have visitors at the hospital - Incacha guided him in bringing me back. His spirit guide called to mine, leading me back from death. Or at least, that's what I think it was. I saw a wolf running through the jungle, and the wolf leapt up and collided with a black jaguar, and there was a burst of light...and then I choked on water, and the jungle was gone and there was Jim, and the paramedics, and Simon and Megan, all looking at me and crying. Jim saw the same vision. Exactly, right down to the smallest details.

It scares me, but not nearly as much as it scares him. Because the mystical stuff has never involved me. It's always been Jim's visions, Jim's dreams, never mine. I've never seen a thing up till now.

He picked me up from the hospital like nothing had happened, took me back to the loft and moved me right back in, but not into my own room. He installed me upstairs, in his bed, like it was no big deal, nothing unusual. And he slept right next to me that first night. I admit that it was sort of comforting to know he was there. I knew Alex was long gone, that she thought I was dead, but Jim wasn't taking any chances.

I woke up smelling chlorine that first night, woke up with the sensation of water in my nose, of being smothered, and I came up swinging. He just rode it out, he wrapped those big damn arms around me and calmed me down and listened to me breathing, and he didn't let go until my heart stopped pounding and the coughing stopped.

Actually, he didn't let go at all.

I tried to ask him about Alex, about what's happening, but since that first night he's been withdrawing again. He still sleeps here, in the room with me, but now he sleeps on the floor. I already know what's going on, and I know he doesn't want to talk about it. He doesn't want to discuss the vision, or Alex, or the mating imperative, or what any of it means. I lived; his job is done.

He's leaving for Sierra Verde in the morning. We still haven't talked, beyond the conversation in the hospital. He's not angry with me anymore - but there's something else going on, now. When I figure it out, maybe everything will make sense again. Because there's not a fucking thing that makes sense right now.

Tape 68: February 3, 1999

I really don't know what the hell I'm doing anymore. Obviously I've lost my mind. I got on a plane with Megan Connor two days ago and here I am in Sierra Verde. I'm bone tired. I'm totally fucking exhausted and the doctor told me not to go, but here I am.

I'm here because Jim is here, because Alex is here. And the unbelievable shit that is happening just defies logic. It's just so far beyond my experience...I can't help Jim. I'm lost. This moved way past me the minute Alex entered the picture, but I was too stupid to know my own limitations.

Jim is drawn to Alex in a way that overrules logic, common sense, his sense of duty, his obligation to the tribe - everything. That bitch killed me, she drowned me in a public fountain, and today I found Jim kissing her on the beach, one second away from ripping off her bathing suit and fucking her senseless. That's not the best part. The best part is the fact that she aimed a gun at me, and it took Jim a second to decide whether or not to stop her from killing me again. And then he let her walk away, just turn and run down the beach, and he did nothing to stop her.

And then he turned to me for answers, which is pretty funny considering that I don't have a clue what's happening here, other than the obvious. He doesn't seem to notice that he's got the hots for the woman who killed me, who doesn't care if she kills most of the free world. Okay, he notices, but he doesn't care.

[long pause]

I have no distance from this whatsoever. This entire trip has been a disaster. Yesterday, Megan figured out what Jim is - I don't know how the hell we kept it from her for so long, anyway. Actually, I'm relieved that she knows. It's one more person I don't have to lie to. Keeping Jim's secrets is getting harder by the second.

Right now, he's on a crash course with Alex. He took off and left us alone out here in the jungle, on his way to track her down. I should be flattered that he realizes, finally, that I can take care of myself, that I actually know my way around a tree or two. But I'm just pissed. And if I said I was jealous, that wouldn't be far from the truth either. I know he can't help what he feels for her, but I'll be damned if I have to like it.

He's convinced there's a temple here, a temple I can recognize from his descriptions as being the gathering place of the Sentinels from legend. If it exists, no records reflect its location - Jim's still running purely on instinct, guessing that Alex is seeing the same things, trusting that to draw them together.

I hope he knows what he's doing.

[time lapse]

Back in the hotel, now. Alex is in custody. Jim...Jim is sleeping in his room, presumably.


The subject has detailed an experience completely unparalleled in any research done thus far regarding Sentinels. The temple does exist - it's exactly as I imagined it might be, and it matched Jim's vision exactly, in every detail. Jim experienced a vision there while under the influence of some sort of hallucinogen prepared for him by the secondary subject - a vision he refuses to discuss with me. I can tell he's shaken up, shaken all the way to the core. He's not talking, and I'm not asking. More than anything else, I want to know what happened, what he saw, what he felt, I want into his head. But I have my own demons to conquer. And I'm tired, and that trek through the jungle did bad things to my lungs, and...

I wanted to bring them together under controlled conditions, and what I got instead was chaos. How could I have fucked this up so badly? It just doesn't seem possible that this is where I am, after three years of research...of friendship. Everything is completely out of whack.

[soft sound of knocking, then of footsteps]

Hey, Jim.

(male voice) I heard you coughing, Chief. You all right?

Yeah, fine. Why aren't you sleeping?

(male voice) I'm not sure, I... Do you mind if I come in?


Sure. You going to tell me what's up?

(male voice) I just thought maybe... this whole experience has been pretty off the wall.

No kidding.

(male voice) I'm not good at this, Blair.

You have to start somewhere, Jim.


(male voice) Maybe we could talk a little.

Sure. Hang on a second while I put my notes away....

Tape 68: February 7, 1999

I'm glad to be home. We moved the last of my stuff back into the loft almost as soon as we walked in the door. Jim insisted. I've been very tired, not really into talking, but we have had our moments.

He opened up to me in the motel room the other night. I guess...there are any number of things I could talk about, give detailed description of. I think I'll just stick to the most important things. Most of those have nothing to do with the dissertation.

While Jim was in the temple with Alex, he ingested some sort of hallucinogen and had an extremely powerful vision, almost a spirit journey. Incacha came when Jim summoned him. But let me back up for a moment. Jim's always had a problem with fear; it guides almost all of his choices. The key, however, is the kind of fear. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of being known too well, fear of being vulnerable and not being able to hide.

Incacha showed Jim the darkness inside his own spirit. I think it's taken Jim a little while to process what he saw, to put it into some sort of order on his own before sharing it with me. What caused him the most distress was the impression that his life is built on violence, on death and destruction, on total chaos. On the fear that he will lose someone he cares for, and he'll be responsible. It's one of the reasons he pushes those close to him away - it lessens the possibility of emotional pain if he should suddenly be without them.

Jim asked Incacha for help. Incacha told him he had to find the light on his own - it's a journey Jim had to take by himself. When Jim visualized the light in his world, he saw only one thing.

He saw me.

It was hard for Jim to get this part of it out. He wouldn't look me in the eye. He couldn't quite face it, I don't think. He's fucked this up, I've fucked it up, we've fucked it up together. He had to forgive me for not being and doing what he thought I should, and I had to forgive him for not reading my mind and understanding my heart.

We tried hard to work through the whole Alex mess. It took hours. Jim had to be made to see that the mating imperative he felt for Alex was about displaced feelings. It was about denial. Some of it was his mind turning away things his body craved. If I had died, Jim would have hunted her, and he would have killed her. Since I lived, he shut down his feelings for me, turned them inward, allowed himself to feel the imperative. He and Alex both turned those feelings inward, and then outward, on each other. Somewhere deep down, Jim wanted to help her, but he never would have acted that way if there hadn't been hormones and pheromones and complicated emotions involved.

I explained it to Jim much better than this. Much more clearly. I'm just tired. Basically, it came down to my role in Jim's life, and the role Alex wanted me to play. Whatever you want to call it - guide, shaman, whatever - they couldn't share me. And they both needed me. Jim was going through a strange realization of sorts, and it messed with his head at just the wrong time, causing just the wrong reaction - he pushed me away instead of pulling me close.

And sent me right to Alex, who killed me for many things, not the least of which was my attachment to Jim. Even if he couldn't see it - she could. And she won either way - live or die, she would have the thrill of the hunt, or the thrill of the mating imperative.

It all sounds very mumbo-jumbo gobbledygook when it's laid out this way, but I believe it to be real. The problem is that there's an implication here of physical need, and Jim isn't quite able to wrap his emotions around that right now. I've known it all along. I've understood it in the back of my brain, but I couldn't be everything to him. To be his...lover, on top of everything else...I don't know if I can do it all for him.

Where I had it wrong was in thinking even for one second that I had a choice in the matter. I believe it was always meant to be advisor - I prefer guide - and lover. But of course, I can't make that choice for him. Only for myself. It might be that the two roles were meant to be intertwined; I'm starting to suspect that, more and more, and I'm going to dig into some of these Burton texts and see what the hell I can find out.

Tape 68: February 27, 1999

It's been a few weeks since Sierra Verde. Jim is stuck to me like glue. Before, he was as far away as he could get without being somewhere else entirely; now he's right there, all the time. Guess his little crisis is over.

He's using proximity to compensate and I don't mind one damn bit. I like having him close. There's an atmosphere at home that hasn't been there for a long time. We joke around, we laugh, we talk - he's really making an effort to communicate his needs. I think he's still sorting through what happened in the only way he knows how, and words don't come easily to him. Like that's news, right? Anyway, sometimes he passes me in the kitchen and he'll lay his hand against the small of my back. Or he leans over me as I'm reviewing papers, and his fingers just sort of dig in to the place that hurts the worst in my neck and smooth the tension away.

Something else is happening, too. Something really subtle. At first, I thought I was imagining it but it's definitely there. Erotic undertones. He's not hiding his attraction. It's palpable. He hasn't done anything overt, exactly. Just stepped up the touching. And I catch him looking at me, once in a while, at the place my shirt falls open at my throat, or at my ass as I'm walking by.

I keep telling myself, he hasn't done anything yet, there's no reason to ruin this by pushing the issue. Just a few more months and I'll have published, and then things can be different - can be however he wants them to be. I don't mean that I'm surrendering control to him. I mean, he has to be the one to decide. I already know - have known for what seems like forever.

I went looking for evidence that what we have here is some kind of mystical sentinel/guide thing, and I can't find one shred of proof. If that's it, if that's why it's happening, it's probably a first. I tend to think maybe it's just...maybe it is that, a little, but maybe it's also just Jim and Blair. Maybe it just is what it is.

Tape 69: March 1, 1999

I just started writing the dissertation. I estimate it'll take maybe two months to complete if I can get time to write every day. It makes me feel sort of...empty...when I think about this coming to an end. I don't know what I'll do what it's done. Or what this means for me and Jim.

I don't want to think about it yet. Maybe there'll be a way...

Tape 72: March 30, 1999

I don't think of Jim as the subject of my thesis anymore. I mean, let's be honest here. I haven't thought of him in only that way practically since the first day I knew him. This is something way deeper than that, something much more mystical and profound. I don't think my finding him was an accident. It happened for a reason.

Jim and I have talked about the fact that there are no coincidences. Maybe this was just the method through which we found one another. Maybe it was always meant to happen that way.

I just have a sense that something is about to happen. Something important. Make or break. Jim can sense it too. The tension has kept him awake every night this week, prowling around the loft. I've stayed in my room despite the pull I feel to go to his side. It's so strong, it's almost like a rope tied to my wrist, but I've resisted. I want this to take its natural course. I'm not going to push it along in any way.

Tape 75: April 4, 1999

I was in the kitchen tonight cooking dinner. Not much of a dinner, just some tacos. Jim had a craving and I was in the mood, so I got the stuff together and was making up a big batch of taco meat.

He came into the kitchen, opened the fridge, grabbed a beer, asked me if I wanted one. Sure, I said. I was too busy to look up.

He brings the bottle, sets it down next to the cumin and salt, already opened. I thanked him, smiled at him. He smiled back. Around that time he moved back to the fridge, leaned against it, drinking his beer and looking at me.

So I asked him what was up. I mean, I was cooking; I had things to tend to.

You like me, he said, lifting the bottle, taking a sip.

Yeah, sure, Jim. What the hell are you getting at? I asked, but I was already there, I had leaped ten miles down the road and I was already thinking about the aftermath.

He took one more sip, and then he moved, so casual, so easy I would swear it was just no big deal, it was something we did every day. Which I suppose we did, in a way, didn't we? He reached around me and turned off the burner, and his arms went around me, on each side of me, pinning me against the stove. And his face was against the side of my face, and his lips were against my ear, and he said, put the spoon down.

I put it down.

One of his hands slid right down over my stomach, lifting my shirt, and his mouth was against my neck, and he kissed me there, and I shivered. I shivered so hard that my teeth rattled, that my entire body shook. He pushed that hand up underneath my shirt, spreading out his fingers over my stomach, and he bit my neck, gently, but hard enough that I must have made some noise, because he whispered, shhhh.

I turned my face, and he closed his mouth over mine and made me open up to him, like we'd done it a hundred times before, except that no damn kiss ever felt like that, no lips ever tasted so perfect. He was in me and on me and it was just exactly what it was supposed to be, everything I wanted. Everything he needed.

He pulled his mouth away from mine and kissed my upper lip, pulling it between his teeth, licking it slowly. You hungry? he asked, moving to the lower lip, licking that, too. Hell no, I said, fighting to turn around.

Patience, he told me, and he kissed me again, and then I wasn't listening anymore. I couldn't hear anything except the sounds I was making as he pushed his body against mine.


Tape 75: April 5, 1999

So much has happened...everything is totally different now.

Jim's asleep upstairs. Burrowed down in the bed where I was a minute ago, close to my scent, that incredible body sprawled out all over those very soft sheets. High thread count. I didn't realize how picky he was about the softness of the sheets.

Can hands have talent? His do. He knows exactly where to touch me. He listens to my breathing, I think, to the beat of my heart, and fine tunes the way he puts his hands on me accordingly. I've never been touched that way; I've never felt so much just from the simple pressure of fingers across my body.

I've been with more partners than I can count. I don't really want to count them. It's in the past; it's not important anymore. Not a single one of them made me feel like this, totally languid, completely safe, out of control without giving a damn how it looks, or what I say. I mean, I've been uninhibited, but this...this was different. I knew he wanted to hear me, wanted to know what he was doing to me. So I let him hear every sound, every moan, every half-scream.

His mouth was everywhere. He did things to me I've heard about, but...oh, god. I turned over for him, I rolled on my belly and waited for him to push me into the places I'd always wanted to go. He seems to know what I need. Jim has an instinct for pleasing me, for knowing how to please us both.

The first time I said his name, it was enough to make him come. I didn't say it, I sort of moaned it, while his fingers were stretching me and his hand was stroking me and he was licking his way down my spine. After that, we had to slow down, because I wanted him inside me, I wanted to be taken. I didn't want there to be any doubt at all about my role in this.

He wasn't willing to let me touch him without reciprocating. So we kissed, and he touched my tongue with his, tasting me, talking to me, saying things that made me shudder and sigh and beg him for more. I begged. I'm not ashamed to admit that. I asked him to fuck me, probably not once, probably more than a dozen times. So once he finally slid his cock into me, once he was about as deep as he could go, I stopped begging and started babbling, telling him what he means to me, giving it all up as he fucked me slowly, dragging me right over that edge of pleasure and into a place of pure ecstasy. I've never felt anything like that. Nothing. It was beautiful, it was fucking transcendent. It was pure pleasure. It was everything I'd ever dreamed of.

This morning, when I rolled out of bed and reached for my clothes, he caught me in his arms and leaned over and whispered in my ear.

*I love you.*

I dropped the clothes and put myself right back in that bed, pressed my face against his chest, told him I knew, and that I loved him, too. And I tried not to think about what my rational mind was going to do today when I had a chance to process all of this. Because there're things I'm not wanting to think about right now. Too many things.

It all comes around soon enough.

I can tell this is a major change for Jim. It took him a long time to get here, and he's not going anywhere now that he's arrived. I'm not sure I can say the same about myself.

Tape 76: April 17, 1999

The research is fucked. It's all useless now. Objectivity my sweet ass. What the hell do you think the Dean would say if she heard this? Yeah, Blair Sandburg, impartial observer, fucking his primary research subject. Nice job there, Sandburg. What the hell was I thinking? I'm not a teenager, I'm not some kid who can't control his hormones, for god's sake. I'm a researcher, a scientist, a goddamned anthropologist.


[blank space]

I'm going to have to start all over. I'm going to have to...

I can't do this. I already know where this is headed.

I'm fucked.

Tape 87: May 24, 1999 - Final Entry

The funny thing is, it's been leading up to this all along. I'm just so stupid that I never realized it. It was never really about the project.

I invalidated my life today. Turned myself into a fraud and a liar, and told the world that all of this was just my imagination. It doesn't matter. Anything was better than seeing that betrayal in Jim's eyes. I would rather have left, walked out the door and never come back. It didn't come to that, though.

It's wild to think that even if it hadn't happened like this, if Jim's abilities hadn't been leaked to the press, I would have had to decide whether or not to publish my research. Since it's all compromised by having Jim's dick in my ass on a regular basis. I should be grateful I didn't have to figure that one out.

They want me to be a cop. Ironically, that's the one thing I thought I might be good at, if I didn't have half my life invested in this degree. Now I get the chance to find out.

I asked Jim last night if he was sure about this. He rolled me over and blew me 'til I came all over him, and then he told me to shut the hell up and go to sleep, since I'll be starting the Academy on Monday and I need my rest. I would have laughed, if he hadn't sucked every drop of energy out the tip of my cock.

I'm going to round up these tapes and pack them all away. Maybe eventually, when I'm old and gray, and Jim is just as decrepit, we can listen to these and laugh our asses off.

It's amazing how I've become something else, something I didn't even know I wanted to be. And now that I'm here, I think I'll stay a while.

It'll make an interesting footnote to a very strange life.