This story is a work of fan fiction, and is not intended to infringe on the copyright of UPN, Paramount, Pet Fly, or anyone else connected with The Sentinel. I do not claim the characters, setting, or concept, but the story is mine. I am not making a profit, don't intend to make a profit, don't want to make a profit, are we getting the picture here? Suing would be pointless, as I have little to no money and two cats to support (and no, you can't have the cats, they're mine).

Ratings/Warnings: PG for language. Not beta'd, although I did proofread. Any remaining boo-boos are completely the fault of the typo gremlins. Also, there is no plot, just some angst and smarm. Remember, smarm is your friend. Spoilers: for "Flight" and many Season 3 episodes

Notes: this is purely the result of writer's block. I was two scenes away from the end of a long (for me) story and my muse decided that, since I was on spring break, she should be too. Thanks a lot, muse. I'll remember this, come pay day. Anyway, this--I'm not even going to call it a story--this rambling came to mind, I wrote it down, and I still have writer's block. Oh, well, such is life.

While You Were Sleeping
by Katie


Jim--

This is so weird--I'm sitting here watching you sleep. Quite a switch, huh? God, you must be exhausted to let me do this. The last few days must have been hell, court all day, then staying late to help Brown and Rafe on the Danziger kidnapping--maybe you think I've been too busy with my own life to notice, but I know you're tired. How 'bout we just sit here for awhile before I wake you up and we go to bed?

Funny, it's usually me that ends up sprawled on the couch, surrounded by papers, with the TV on so low it's not even useful for background noise. Sometimes--okay, lots of times--I wonder what you hear. If the volume's turned down to zero, do you still hear something? Have to remember to ask you sometime. Don't think I'll ever tell you you're cute when you're sleeping, though. Who'da thought you were a cuddler? Big as you are, I'd think you would sprawl everywhere. Hmmm, wonder if that has anything to do with the Sentinel thing? Maybe it's the safest way to sleep, protecting the maximum amount of body parts at once? Maybe I'm as tired as you are, and my mind is wandering--yeah, yeah, I know, does that most of the time anyway, right?

I've kinda missed you this week. You busy in court all day, me doing midterms--I hate midterms, why is it professors always give you papers due at the same time they're giving a major test? Like I should talk, did the same thing to my Anthro 101--seems like we haven't seen each other except to walk past on our way to or from the bathroom in the mornings. Guess I've gotten used to having more time to talk, or even not talk, just be together, catch a game, whatever, talking isn't even necessary. You do that silence thing so well, man. Don't know if I've ever been around someone who could be quiet for so long without being asleep. You're strange that way--strange in a good sense, don't get me wrong, it's just that you're so . . . so still. Not like me, huh? I must drive you crazy, all that kinetic energy surging around, messing with your biorhythms. Hey, maybe that's why you always know when I'm around--can you feel the difference in people's energy fields? Test time, my friend! Guess it's time to clean the kitchen again--or have you caught on to that one yet? Maybe the kitchen and the bathroom.

Something's been bugging me all day, man. Great time to bring it up, huh? What with you being asleep and all. Don't know if I could talk about it if you were awake, though, so this is as good a time as any. God, I can't believe this makes me nervous when you aren't even really listening. My hands are actually shaking. Think I can blame it on too much caffeine? It's just that, well, this is majorly important to me, and as much as I know you wouldn't laugh at me or anything--you're pretty incredible about that, you know? You actually listen to me, and even when you think I'm wrong or na´ve or whatever, you don't make me feel stupid--anyway, that's not what I was getting at.

Okay, here goes. The other day, when Simon kicked you out of his office and kept me there? Weird experience, man. I still can't believe Simon Banks actually apologized to me--especially when I probably should have been the one doing the apologizing. I was kinda over the top on that one--it's just, losing a friend isn't easy, god, look who I'm saying that to. But it hurt, and then you guys weren't believing me, and . . . This wasn't what I wanted to talk about. What Simon said, though . . . something like "I don't know what demons you've got running around in your head, Sandburg." Ever wonder if he knows my first name? Oops, different topic, get back on track there, Sandburg--god, now I'm doing it.

Bear with me here, Jim, I don't like talking about the "touchy-feely crap" any more than you do--unless it's someone else's touchy-feely crap. What Simon said about demons . . . he's the last person I'd peg as insightful; smart, sure, but not exactly in touch with his inner self or anyone else's. But he knew--don't ask me how--he knew there was more going on than just missing a friend. What I said about not getting any credit, though, that was only partially true. Took me a while to figure it out, which is scary since it's in my head, but today I was trying to find something to think about besides the papers I was grading and this is what I got stuck on. Seems like all I hear lately is "You're not a cop, Sandburg" and "Stay here, Sandburg" and, basically, "You're not really needed here, Sandburg."

Am I just being neurotic here, Jim? Just feeling sorry for myself? I mean, I know that's been known to happen. Thing is, I know I'm not a cop, and to be honest, no offense and all, but I don't really want to be one. Between the two of us, you've got that covered pretty well, and up until recently, I thought I had enough--I don't know, esoteric knowledge or something--to hold up my end of the partnership. But now it seems like, every time I turn around, you're finding some reason why you don't want me around, or at least, don't want me contributing to the job. The prison thing, the psych hospital, god, even when we were chasing Bud's killer, you slapped your phone in my hands and pulled that "wait here" business you haven't done in a long time.

Is it because of what I told you that night when Janet was killed? About having enough information for my dissertation? Maybe you're trying to find some subtle way to tell me I can leave, that you don't need me anymore and you were just letting me hang around to fulfill your side of our little bargain. I mean, you never said anything that night--not that I was expecting a declaration of undying affection or anything, but a "we're still partners, Chief" would have been nice. Hell, I would have settled for "it's been nice having you around." I mean, something to give me some indication that I'm not just wasting your time here.

Guess that is pretty neurotic, isn't it? How can you be so sure of yourself all the time? Here you are, sleeping like the proverbial baby--that paper under your head's gonna be too crumpled to use, you know--and then tomorrow, you'll get up and go back to court, never once stopping to ask yourself if you should be where you are. Not in court, you know what I mean, in your life. Do you ever look in the mirror and ask yourself if you're just wasting space? Not in the world, I'm not that neurotic--yet--but with us. In our little partnership, here. I mean, you're the necessary one, the Sentinel, you don't need to doubt what you're doing. Me? I'm just the anthro grad student who managed to con a cop into letting him tag along for more than two years now, whose best line is "breathe, Jim, breathe." Maybe I can get a job as a used car salesman if this dissertation thing falls through.

It would really help a lot if you'd just talk to me once in a while, man. How am I supposed to know if you need me around if you never tell me? It's like that Borneo thing--I say I'm going, you say great, sounds like a good opportunity. Was I supposed to read your mind? I felt like I was walking out on a broken twig when I said I'd stay.  For all I knew, you might have actually been happy I was leaving. If it weren't for the look on your face--like I'd given you a Christmas present, man; I still think about that when things get tough with us--I still wouldn't know what you wanted. I guess that's how you are, and I admire it, I really do, that you're willing to sacrifice what you need for my own good, but it's kinda frustrating . . .

. . .

. . . oh. Is that what it was, in the truck? You didn't want me to think I had to stay if I needed to go? Were you scared then, too? Scared I'd leave, or at least want to? Not gonna happen, man, not if you don't tell me too. Maybe not even then.  It's hard to imagine life if you weren't around, if we didn't have this partnership--even if you do obsess over the house rules. And drive too fast, and treat me like I have no judgment where women are concerned--okay, okay, I'll give you that one. I've just had a string of bad luck lately, it can happen to anyone, right?

God, I'm tired. Guess I should get you up, you're gonna have a terrible crick in your neck if you sleep like that all night. Just give me a minute, I know I've got energy left somewhere . . .


"Sandburg? Time to wake up, Snow White."

"Just don't kiss me, man, you are not my idea of a handsome prince." I squint up at you, wondering what happened to my glasses and why it is you're waking me up.  Seems like it was supposed to be the other way around.

"Not a problem. Come on, get up and get to bed while there's still night left to sleep through." You look at the clock on the table and rub the back of your neck absently. "Do you have any idea how late it is? It's about time you got home."

You don't have any idea why I give you such a huge, and probably silly, grin. Hell, neither do I, exactly. It's just--probably 'cause I'm more than half asleep--what you said strikes a chord in me. Sometime between walking in the door and you waking me up, I came home.

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