This story is rated G. What? No language and violence warnings? No angst? No owies? No Jim owies? What is this madness that has come over me? No! Not the muse of Sweetness & Light! Not her...nooooo! Good thing she never hangs around long. <g>
My beta (thanks, K) says I should label this one humor. That's only one person's opinion, ladies and gentlemen. <g>
Spoilers for the episodes Dead Drop, Vendetta, Night Shift, Sentinel Two, Part Two, and The Waiting Room.
Hope you enjoy!
The day starts normally enough. We have breakfast-- eggs for me, some blenderized concoction for Sandburg. Then we go our separate ways. I head to the station, and Blair to the university to give the final exam to his Anthro class. We make plans to meet for lunch, and then he will be with me for the rest of the day.
At the station, the usual assortment of cases wait for me: a string of burglaries, a couple of narcotics-related deaths, Brown's misplaced Tigger pen.... Quite frankly, I'm not too sure why he's attached to this pen. Brown is more of a Pooh to me, and we all know who bounces like Tigger, right? I think Rafe is Christopher Robin because, let's face it, the boy was always a fashion plate in those cute little shorts. Simon is definitely Rabbit because Rabbit always fusses. And me? I don't fit into the scenario at all. Poor me (smile).
The Tigger case turns out to be an easy one. Tracking Brown's scent and piggy-backing my sight onto it, I discover the beloved pen beneath the copier. According to Brown, it must have somehow tipped out of the pencil cup where he always places it, rolled to the floor, and then was kicked beneath the machine. Personally, I prefer my version of what happened: Brown shoved the pen behind his ear, went to make a copy, started chatting up the doughnut dolly, and the pen slipped out unnoticed.
Before we can express our differing opinions to our colleagues and thereby start a pool, the captain calls me into his office. A new assignment, he says. A traveling art exhibit had been ripped off during the night. I yawn. The missing pieces are valued at less than one million and I wonder why Major Crimes is involved. Then Simon drops the kicker; I knew he had one by the little gleam he gets in his eye when he's planning to annoy me. The City of Cascade was underwriting the cost of the exhibit and the mayor had asked for me, specifically. You know, sometimes it doesn't pay to be all that you can be. People make less demands of you that way.
So, after a long and leisurely lunch, Blair and I arrive at the storefront where the exhibit was to be held. Missing items included an Etruscan coin collection, a Sumerian amulet, and a Pelasgian urn. See, waiting for my partner to join me before going to the site was a brilliant maneuver on my part. I knew if the curator wanted to go into detail, Sandburg would come in quite handy.
The curator, a Mr. John Brandt, is so nervous that even Sandburg can smell him. Granted, you expect a burglary victim to be upset, but this is beyond the "I've been violated" realm. This is fear, raw and deep. I indicate that Blair should "interrogate" Brandt while I filter his responses with my amazing lie detector routine. Whoa. Stop. Rewind. The needle goes off the scale every time the whatchamacallit urn is mentioned. Pelasgian. Yeah, the Pelasgian urn. See? I'm not a total plebeian. Anyway, I call off the admittedly brainier member of the duo, and start my own interrogation. I'm quite proud of myself when Brandt breaks a mere three questions later.
It seems that the Pelasgian urn is cursed. There is a companion piece to it, something that looks like a poorly made thimble to me, and if the two are separated, well, the curse is invoked. Supposedly, the spirit of the urn will walk the earth and cause havoc and death until the two pieces are reunited, or twenty-four hours passes-- whichever comes first. Considering the fact that the thimble thingy is in front of me and the urn is not, I would have to say the clock has started ticking. It's funny the way things work out. Most cops would have heard the curse, rolled on the floor laughing, and gone out for doughnuts. But me and Sandburg, according to our very able captain, "aren't normal in any way, shape, or form," so we take the man's word for it and calculate how many hours we have left to solve the case. Besides, I kind of feel for the spirit of the urn; if someone separated me from my companion, I would be a bit miffed too.
We hang out at the makeshift museum all afternoon and well into the evening looking for clues, but even my Sentinel abilities aren't putting a dent into the case. Tired, frustrated, and always hearing the clock ticking in the background, we decide a break is in order. I make a quick call to Simon and we head to the loft to "re-center" ourselves. I like using words like that around the captain. He makes such a cute face. Blair can mimic it quite well. He made the same face when he found out that I'm a Sentinel. You know, being one has changed me so much. Forget all the neat things I can do (my partner's words, not mine), but it has made me so "open" (another word Simon hates). I sadly admit that at one time I too was a Neanderthal jerk who would have ignored the curse and indulged in eclairs, but being a Sentinel has nipped that kind of behavior in the bud. It's sort of hard sneering at the supernatural when you saw spirit guides, communicated with ghosts, and brought your best friend back from the dead. That's the stuff which puts the credible in incredible, you know?
As we enter the loft, Sandburg is the first to notice we have a visitor. Later, we decide I hadn't sensed the intruder because in my mind, he wasn't an intruder. However, Blair didn't view him that way, and I'm almost flattened as he tries to exit the loft through me instead of around me. I catch him, even as I'm catching myself, then shove him behind me as I face a weirdly familiar form.
The cat is very similar to my spirit guide, but instinctively I know there's a difference. Since I have no idea of his origins, I generically call him a panther-- black, feline, yeah, panther fits. His eyes are an iridescent green, like emeralds reflecting and refracting firelight, and instead of pulling my weapon like a good cop, I find myself asking aloud, "Who are you?" I don't need to hear Blair gasp behind me to know that my reaction is a little odd.
"I am Prowler, your humble servant, milord." The animal stretches one paw forward and the others back in sort of a bow.
My humble servant? I glance back at Sandburg, wanting his take on this, but he's just staring at me and I realize he can't hear, or at least can't understand, our "cat" chat. "He says his name is Prowler and he's my humble servant."
Sandburg's eyebrows lift at that. "What does he want?" I translate that back to Prowler.
"I am in need of your assistance, milord."
"How may we be of help?" I just want to point out that my use of "we" refers to Sandburg and I. Although Prowler seems to be under the illusion that I'm some kind of leader or something, I'm not so full of myself that I would use the royal "we". Just wanted to make that clear.
"I am the guardian of the Urn of Forever. My trust has been separated from the Draught of Day. They must be together, or all ends."
I fill in the blanks for Blair. He says, "Okay."
I tell Prowler we're in and he executes another one of those bows. Blair wants to know what's up with the obeisance moves and I tell him the cat refers to me as "milord". He doesn't look convinced, so I ask Prowler why he came to me. He said he had been frightened to awaken in such a fast-moving world and feared he could not reach the urn, although he could feel its presence. Then he felt another presence, and realized the city was under the protection of a Master. Immediately, he sought the Master's palace and waited for the royal entourage to arrive to aid him. He adds that he's startled that my entourage is so small. I tell him I've given the others the day off. He replies that I am a wise and generous Master.
Well, Blair almost chokes on that. "What makes him a Master?" he asks, and once again I play interpreter.
"He is a Sentinel. They are the Masters of the Animal World, both spiritual and corporeal. All within his realm must obey."
Blair looks impressed and I'm struck with the thought that it would have been nice to know that when I almost lost Dan Freeman's trail because of that junkyard dog, or when the alligator had escaped inside the department. Hmm... Wonder if I had unwittingly told it to chomp on the bad guy's butt?
My place in the Animal Kingdom clarified, we hop into the truck in search of the urn. I thought Prowler would get a kick out of riding in the back, but Blair says no, which means-- me being the great Master and all-- the cab is pretty crowded as we cruise through Cascade. Blair does allow Prowler to stick his head out the window on occasion, and the cat and I share a laugh as his ears are blown back.
I'm not a happy camper when Prowler's directions leave us touring the most exclusive area of Cascade. Getting a search warrant in this part of town would be harder than finding two straight days of sunshine in the local weather records. As we pull to a stop in front of the biggest mansion, which belongs to the wealthiest man in the city, I find myself contradictorily relieved. Blair and I have a relationship with the wealthiest man in the city-- between the two of us, we saved his daughter and unborn grandchild from certain death in an elevator. Even if he doesn't remember that, we can always bring up the fact that he didn't have to pay the terrorists the five million dollars they wanted. I figure either the money or his family is surely worth a quick, "Mind if we search your place?"
I make Prowler stay in the truck because it was going to be hard enough explaining my and Blair's presence, much less several hundred pounds of big cat. Unlike a certain member of my entourage, Prowler doesn't gripe about having to stay in one place. Hmm. I could get used to him. The butler answers the door, frowning at such common people arriving without an appointment. I flash my badge and he grudgingly gets his boss. Wilkinson takes one look at us and sighs.
"My daughter has a new boyfriend. They are currently out to dinner. I can give you the address if you're looking for him. If you're looking for something he has, feel free to search their room. It's the third one on the right at the top of the stairs."
Poor man. His daughter has lousy taste in men. I take out my cell phone and dial for backup and forensics. I tell them to kill the lights and sirens. No need to shame Mr. Wilkinson needlessly. It's not long before they arrive and we carefully bag all the evidence. I take possession of a certain item and head back to the truck. Prowler rests the urn possessively between his massive paws and says he's sorry I had to call in my entourage on their day off. I say they understand and Sandburg's elbow somehow makes its way into my ribs. He really needs to take lessons from Prowler.
We reach the storefront and the curator is gone. I take out my notebook to get his number, but notice Prowler seems a bit nervous so I ask why. He says the twenty-four hours are almost up. I look at my watch and realize we must have been off on the time of the robbery. So, I'm left with the choice of B & E'ing, or facing the end of everything. I break and enter. There's an alarm system which I easily bypass, and Blair, with Prowler's urging, sets the urn beside the draught. A light glows around the two objects, sort of like a halo. A green emerald suddenly appears on the urn, inset near its top. It reminds me of Prowler's eyes. I turn to tell my feline buddy that and...he's gone. I stare at the emerald and smile. Then it hits me.
"Forever," I say, pointing to the urn.
"And a day," Blair concludes, pointing to the draught as he finishes my thought flawlessly. We are familiar with "forever and a day". It's what we promised each other after that fiasco with a certain we-won't-say-her-name Sentinel.
We pick up both the Urn of Forever and the Draught of Day and take them down to the station. We "sandburg-ize" a report, meaning we strip it clear of the stuff Simon won't like, and turn it in. Our captain is pleased, until we mention what we didn't put into the report. Then we are kicked out of his office, but not before I tell him to tell the mayor that he shouldn't let his cousin Bernie do the security systems for him anymore. I think Simon might have been crying when we left, but I wouldn't put my money on it.
The loft seems like heaven as we drag our tired butts home. I order pizza, while Sandburg collapses on the loveseat. Somehow he manages to drop his red "checking exams" pen over the back of the small sofa. When he leans over, contorting his body in ways that make me cringe, he calls out that Prowler has left me a present. Immediately, I think that it isn't my fault the loft didn't have a litter box and that maybe with the life I'm now living, it might be a good idea to keep one around just in case.
I turn down my sense of smell to go examine the "gift", since I wouldn't know what kind of cleansers I would need until I saw the manner of waste. To my surprise, and Blair's giggles-- yes, I said giggles-- Prowler has indeed left me a gift. It's a huge natural emerald, looking like an unwieldy hunk of rock, but worth so much more. "Now, that will make a nice pension plan," I say to my partner.
"Connecting suites at the asylum of our choice?" he offers.
"Nah. We'll just get the loft padded and hire live-in help."
He nods. "I'm down with that."
The pizza arrives and soon I'm on the large sofa, watching the end of a basketball game, and he's once again on the small sofa, grading exams. The game goes off and one of those talk shows comes on. In a volume that makes me grab my ears, the announcer exclaims, "Today's subject: Women Who Crave Excitement!"
"Tell them to find a Sentinel!" Blair yells back.
As soon as I adjust the volume, I take my hands away from my ears and innocently ask, "Should I call in and give them my number, Chief?"
If I thought Prowler had fire in his eyes, then Blair's are a carefully tended inferno. "Let. Them. Find. Their. Own," he says succinctly. When I nod obediently, he goes back to his grading.
I flip through the channels and finally drift off to the melodic tones of CNN's night anchor. As my mind prepares for sleep, it fast-forwards through all the strange and odd events this day has brought. "Chief," I say to the man who has agreed to walk at my side as I stumble through all these strange and odd occurrences. He is my rock, my anchor. He is my forever and a day.
"Don't forget you're the one who has to get the cat hair out of the truck."
He laughs. "You are so full of it, man."
A day that ends in laughter. Who could ask for a better one?