Author's Warning:

This is fluff, complete and utter fluff. No plot. No action. No purpose other than I had time to write and I didn't want to write what I should have been writing, so I wrote this instead. It's only redeeming quality is that it's short.

The song Faraway Places has been sung by a lot of people but I think I remember the version by the Embers. If I can find who wrote it, I'll add it but for now, please know I didn't write it and I give the credit to the people who did. For those of you not familiar with it, think a lazy Sunday afternoon, maybe lying back and watching the clouds float by or going down a highway with no particular destination in mind or if you're from the South (USA, that is), picture yourself on a porch with a glass of lemonade and the soft hum of insects keeping you company... Those are the kinds of feeling Faraway Places evokes.

Oh, I guess you can set this sometime in the first season.



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 4-27-98)

Faraway places,

With strange sounding names,

Faraway over the sea,

Those faraway places,

With strange sounding names,

Are calling, calling me.

I'm cramming stuff into my backpack because as soon as Simon's done with Jim, we are out of here. It's been a long, unproductive day. As we've been doing lately, Jim dropped me off at the university this morning, picked me up at lunch, and the rest of the day was spent here at the station or on the street, trying to put down some of our cases. Listen to me. Our cases. I swear they're going to turn me into a cop yet. Nah. I am not cutting my hair for anything or anyone.

Why won't this notebook go back into the pack? I had to take it out because while I was jotting down stuff I observed Jim doing on the job, I actually managed to get some details of the crime scene Jim had not realized he'd noticed. That's something we're going to have to work on. Jim needs to get used to processing the vast amounts of information his incredible senses detect, then he has to learn how to properly organize it for recall. Maybe I should check out a video cam for the weekend. I'll have him list what he sees in a room, then watch the video and show him what he's missed. Knowing my partner, he's competitive enough to try to "beat" the tape. By Sunday night, he'll be noting everything.

What's this? Aha. No wonder I couldn't get the notebook to fit. I got all this junk I picked up from my campus mailbox. I knew Jim was waiting, so I just tossed everything in and forgot about it. Oooh, a division mixer next week. Can we say, "no way?" The Christmas party is all I can tolerate, and that only because of the brownie points I accrue by attending. And if the last few months have been any indication, I'm going to need those points.

Who knew that being a cop's partner could be so dangerous? No, that's not fair. Most of the "adventures" I've experienced lately have nothing to do with working with Jim. In fact, most of them I got out of because I work with Jim. He can be amazing, my Sentinel, charging to the rescue-- protecting his tribe. It's still hard for me to believe I found him. After the years of searching, after the ridicule I've gone through. Why don't you find a real thesis? Still looking for your caveman? Hey, Sandburg, I can smell a fart from fifty yards, does that count? Finding Jim saved not only my career, but my dignity and sanity.

A postcard from Harvey Miller. Oh, yeah, he's on a dig in the Atacama Desert. Says here there's evidence that the site is a lot older than they expected. The director is trying to get permission and not to mention, more money, to continue the expedition a bit longer. Even through this postcard, I feel ol' Harv's excitement. I remember that rush. Good for you, Harvey.

Hmm. A letter. The return address is Semporna, Sabah. Must be from Shannon Burke. She's living with a secluded tribe for the next year. I can't believe she actually sent me a letter. Especially after what happened our last night together. Better not open this here. Shannon can be unpredictable. Wonder if I can get Joel to check it over for me, just in case.

"Ready to go, Chief?"

I hadn't even heard Jim approach. The man moves with the stealth of a cat. Scares the hell out of me sometimes, but I'm getting good at covering. "Sure, Jim. Just let me--" I finally get the notebook to fit, but I drop the postcard and letter. Jim picks them up, and although he doesn't intentionally invade my privacy, I see him scan them just a little. Since he didn't push me to the floor and yell for everyone else to get down, I guess I can assume Shannon's letter is safe to open.

"Sandburg," he says as he hands me my mail, "Man with friends in strange places."

I laugh. "You got that right, man. A hazard of my profession, I guess; to study man you gotta go where he is. It's a calling."

"These faraway places calling to you, Chief?"

I've gotten pretty good at reading the man in front of me. At first it was difficult because I believed the image he tries so hard to project-- controlled, uncaring, cold. But the real Jim Ellison is nothing like that. He has a wicked sense of humor that he doesn't share unless he's comfortable with you and, oh boy, have I been on the receiving end of that lately. I guess that means I've made progress with him. I mean, instead of shoving me up against a wall, he's teasing me about my ponytail or the women I occasionally date.

Not that life with him has been all laughs. There is an anger burning deep in him and it's been there for a long time, driving him to the places he's seen, to do the things he's done. He has it pretty much under control, though, only letting it show if he's very upset. Like when he didn't know what was happening to him with his sense,s or when that psycho guy grabbed me.... If he keeps me around long enough I'm probably going to have to deal with that anger, perhaps help him deal with it. I hope I'm strong enough.

Another side of Jim he doesn't allow just anyone to see is the gentle, soothing side of his personality. Watch him with a victim who needs comforting and assurance. Sure, as soon as he can he hands the person off to another officer, usually a female, but until then his softly delivered, confident words totally convince the victim that his or her broken world can be mended. And yes, I speak from experience. Just about everything I owned, everything that meant something to me was destroyed when my apartment building exploded. I could have easily lost it then, been a candidate for a rubber room and "paint therapy." But Jim held me together, kept the ground steady beneath my feet even during the aftershocks.

If only he could work the same magic on himself. My official title is "police observer" and I do my job well, catching glimpses of Jim without even the Sentinel being aware of it. When I look into his eyes sometimes, I see the broken world where he dwells. It's a place littered with shards of shattered truths, keen-edged barbs of betrayals, and the heavy stones of lies. I know this not only because of what I've seen but what I've heard as well. Close listening often reveals tales that appear to be untold. I learned that from him.

There is an arrogance in me that says I can lead Jim from the hell visible in the depths of his eyes. I don't know where that comes from. I mean, I'm not the type to interfere in anyone's life. I was raised to believe in the adage, "live and let live." I have watched people use drugs, have casual and unprotected sex, commit crimes of all degrees and I've never had a compunction to fix their lives. Yet, I look at Jim and I want to, hell, need to help. He doesn't have to ask. If he merely reaches out his hand, I will take it and yank him into a realm where the roads aren't so hazardous, where the sun does make an occasional appearance. An audacious undertaking for which I am uniquely unqualified. Of course when has that ever stopped me....

Those crystal eyes I've been talking about now peer into mine, and I remember he's waiting for an answer. But it takes me a second to remember the question because I sense he is no longer being merely conversational. He's asking me for something...his hand's venturing forth. It's easy to answer him now. If those places were calling me, they have been drowned out by my own shouts of triumph. The excitement sends energy running from my head to the balls of my feet, and I have this urge to rock back and forth; what Jim calls the Sandburg bounce. But wait. I have to be cautious. Too much of a response with cause him to retreat. "They've always called to me, Jim," I say very casually, "but lately another place has been calling even louder. I think I'd like to spend some time there."

"And where is that?"

"Home, Jim." He smiles and I can actually feel the warmth of his hand in mine.

"It so happens my truck is heading in that direction, Chief. Need a lift?"

"If you don't mind?" Now my hand is in his.

"I don't."

I sling the now closed pack on my shoulder and walk beside him to the elevator. My hands are burrowed deep into the pockets of my jacket, but I can still feel our link and from the shy glances he throws my way I know he feels it too.

Perhaps one day I'll follow the calls of those faraway places, but for now, I'm content just to follow my Sentinel home.


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