Thanks to Marianne for creating the universe and letting Jen and I play in it. Thanks to Jen for the Epilogue and for the encouragement and plotting. For more Second Generation stories visit Jen's page.
Thanks as always to the Beta Monster, TAE. For without her there would be a severe shortage of commas.
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the following characters. I just feed the monkeys as they typed at the typewriters.
Simon took a deep breath and looked up at his parents. "Can Tyler sleep over tonight?"
It was one of the rare nights when the Ellison and Sandburg families ate dinner separately.
Jim Ellison gave his son a patient look. "Itís a school night, Simon. You know the rules."
Simon pushed his dinner around on his plate before trying again. "Weíll be good. I promise. Weíll go to bed on time and we wonít stay up late talking. Please?" He tried to give his dad the irresistible puppy dog eyes that Tyler could do so well.
The elder Sentinel tried to ignore the pleading look and see through to what his son was really up to. "Is there a particular reason why you want him to stay over tonight?"
Simonís food continued its journey around his plate "imhavingtroblewithmysenses," he mumbled out quickly. Before his father could launch an interrogation, the young Sentinel continued, "not much. Just a little keeping the dials in place." The words started in a rush and ended in more mumbling.
He looked up to see expectant looks from his parents. They obviously thought that there was more to the story. "The janitor was using some weird stuff to clean some graffiti today and I think thatís whatís causing it."
Jim watched his son for a few moments, judging the validity of his story. The story sounded reasonable and if Simon was having problems with his senses, then having Tyler sleep over was the best solution. "All right, but only if itís okay with Uncle Blair and Aunt Aislynn." Receiving a nod from his son, Jim continued, "and you do realize, that Uncle Blair will want to run some tests this weekend?"
There was another silent nod from Simon.
"Okay then, finish your dinner and weíll go ask if Tyler can sleep over."
Simon was quiet for the rest of dinner. He absently listened to his parents discuss their day as he rearranged the food on his plate.
While Megan cleaned up after dinner, Jim and Simon went across the hall to the Sandburgís.
"Hey Jim, I didnít expect to see you over here tonight. I thought you got enough of me at the station?" Blair commented as he let his friends in.
"I got more than enough of the Sandburg Zone the first time I met Doctor McKay," Jim answered, then nodded towards his son. "But apparently, Simon here canít get enough of it." Jim gave Simon a little nudge, indicating that he should ask about Tyler staying over.
Simon fidgeted a bit, "I was wondering if Tyler could sleep over with me tonight. I know itís a school night, but weíll be good and go to sleep when weíre supposed to. Please?"
Upon hearing his friendís request, Tyler began to bounce in excitement. "Please, Daddy, Can I?"
The two adults exchanged looks and when Jim tapped his ear, Blair understood that it was a Sentinel thing.
"Sure, but if I hear that you two stayed up lateÖ" Blair started to say, but was interrupted by Tylerís excited reply.
"Yippee! Come on Simon, you can help me pack." The two boys disappeared into Tylerís bedroom to pack, leaving their fathers to talk.
"Whatís going on, Jim?" Blair immediately switched to Guide mode once he realized why Jim had agreed to the impromptu sleepover.
Jim tuned into the kids as he answered, "Simon says heís having trouble keeping the dials in place. He told us that the janitor was using something and I quote Ďweirdí to clean up some graffiti. I donít totally buy the janitor story, but something is definitely wrong."
Blair nodded in agreement. He, too, had noticed that Simon wasnít his normal energetic self. "Okay, but if it gets too bad, come get me."
"Will do, Chief. Iíve already warned him that thisíll mean tests this weekend. Iíd just like to give them a chance to work through this, themselves."
Blairís face lit up with a smile at the mention of tests, "I can live with that. Hmmm, I wonder if I can get his dad to take some tests too?"
Before the person in question could respond, the two boys came out of Tylerís room. "Iím all packed."
After good night kisses and hugs were passed out, the Ellisons and their guest headed back across the hall.
As promised, the boys did their homework and promptly went to bed when told. The only late night talking was that of a Guide to his Sentinel.
Jim looked over at the bedside clock as he tried to figure out what had awakened him at 2:00 am in the morning. He stretched out his senses checking for anything wrong.
"Jim? What's wrong?" Megan asked.
"I'm not sure, yet." Jim said, continuing his scan. Just then the Sentinel stiffened as he located the problem, then bolted from the bed. "It's Simon."
Jim burst into the downstairs bedroom to find his son curled up on his side moaning in pain.
A frightened Tyler was trying desperately to get his friend to tell him what was wrong. "I'm sorry, Uncle Jim, I don't know what's wrong. Please, you've got to help."
Jim knelt next to the bed and gave Tyler a tentative smile, "Don't worry, Ty. We'll find out what's wrong."
The frightened father allowed his Sentinel abilities and medic training to take over. "Simon, can you tell me what's wrong?"
Jim used his senses to check his son's vitals. Breathing was slightly labored, but there was no sound of congestion. Pulse was a bit high, but under the circumstances, fine. His temperature was higher than it should be.
It took heightened hearing to catch the young boy's reply. "It hurts."
"Where does it hurt?"
"Stomach," was the still almost silent reply.
Jim gently maneuvered his son so that he could examine the boyís abdomen. Applying slight pressure, he kept talking to his son. "Does it hurt here?"
Simon shook his head.
Again Simon shook his head.
Jim kept up this routine, systematically searching for the source of the pain. As he narrowed his search, his fear grew.
Finally, Jim asked, "Does it hurt here?" applying slight pressure to Simon's lower right abdomen.
Simon's resulting gasp of pain was all the answer needed.
Jim bit back his worry, pulled the blanket back over Simon and stood up to face his wife. "Go warm up the truck while I put some clothes on. I'm taking him to the hospital."
Without a word, Megan turned to do as he asked.
Jim turned back to the young Guide, "Tyler, can you stay with Simon for a few minutes?"
As Jim raced up to get dressed, he heard the young Guide talking to his Sentinel, doing his best to stay calm.
Once he was presentable, Jim raced back downstairs.
"Thanks, Tyler." Jim wrapped Simon in the blankets as he continued to speak to the other child. "Now, go over and wake your parents up. You guys can meet us at the hospital."
Jim gently picked up Simon and headed out the door, followed closely by Tyler.
"Uncle Jim, is Simon going to be all right?" Tyler asked before they parted in the hallway.
"Don't worry, Tyler. He'll be okay."
With that last bit of reassurance, Tyler pushed the button for the elevator, then ran back to the door to his family's loft.
Once outside, Jim lay Simon down on the front seat of the truck, securing him as best he could with the seatbelts. Racing around to the driver's side, he gave Megan a kiss, climbed in, flipped on his lights and siren and sped off.
Jim paced the waiting room. He didn't notice when the rest of his family entered.
Jim looked down into the worried eyes of his wife. "They rushed him into surgery shortly after we got here. The doctor agrees that it's appendicitis," He explained as he gathered Megan in for a hug. Feeling a comforting hand on his back, he looked over to see Blair, and behind him, Aislynn and Tyler.
Tyler shyly approached his uncle, "I'm sorry I made Simon sick."
Blair bent down to speak to his son, "You didn't make Simon sick. Why would you think that?"
The seven-year-old chewed his lip before replying. "Cause I was helping Simon keep the pain dial down."
"Simon mentioned that he was having trouble with the dials," Jim said as he, too, bent to address the child. Why was he having trouble with the dials?"
Tyler pulled himself up to his full height. He figured that if he was to get in trouble, that he'd take it bravely. "He's had a tummy ache for the past few days, but he didn't think it was anything, so he was just dialing the pain down."
"That's consistent with appendicitis. It often starts as a stomach ache," Aislynn stated.
The adults sat down and Jim pulled Tyler into his lap and tried to explain that it wasn't his fault that Simon got sick.
Several hours passed as the adults consoled the young Guide. The combined efforts of Megan and Aislynn kept Jim and Blair from harassing the nurses for information.
Four hours after the vigil began, the doctor finally made an appearance.
Concerned family members gathered around the doctor, who held up his hands to forestall the myriad questions. "I'm sorry you've had to wait so long, but I didn't want to leave the OR. First, Simon is in recovery and doing fine."
The tension level of the waiting room lowered exponentially as the waiting adults all released the breaths that they'd been holding.
The doctor continued, "He did have a bit of a reaction to the anesthesia at first, but we were able to handle it. Its not surprising considering who his father is."
Everyone gave Jim a knowing look, then turned back to the doctor.
"His appendix had burst, but we were able to clean up most of the infection. We'll want to keep him here for several days, so we can monitor him and give him intravenous antibiotics. Like I said, he's in recovery now," the doctor looked right at Jim, "but we don't expect him to be there long. We'll let you know when he's in a room and you can go see him."
There were 'thank you's and nods from the adults.
The doctor looked down at the tug on his sleeve.
"So, Simon's going to be okay?" Tyler asked.
The doctor smiled down at the young boy, "Yes, your friend will be fine."
"Doctor, will Tyler be able to go up to Simon's room?" Blair asked.
The doctor exchanged looks with Jim and Blair, "I think that can be arranged."
Simon opened his eyes to see his parents and aunt and uncle looking at him. "Dad?"
"Hey there Sport, how you feeling?" Jim asked quietly.
"Tired," was the drowsy reply.
"I'm not surprised. There's someone here who wants to say hi." Jim picked up Tyler so he could see over the edge of the hospital bed.
"Hi Simon, I'm sorry you're sick."
Blair sighed at his son's refusal to give up his guilt.
"Hmmm, I wonder who he got that from?" Aislynn mumbled to Megan.
"Gee, I have no idea," Megan replied sarcastically.
Simon simply smiled at his best friend, and then turned to his uncle, "Do I still have to take those tests?"
The elder Sentinel and Guide chuckled. Blair looked down at his nephew, "No, I think we found the source of your problem."
A serious look came to Jim's face, "But we are going to have a talk about the proper use of the dials."
Simon and Tyler groaned in unison. Then Tyler leaned his head against his uncle's shoulder, letting his eyes droop closed. Simon also showed signs of falling asleep.
Jim gently placed the young Guide on the bed next to his Sentinel. The two young boys curled up close and fell sound asleep.
Epilogue by Jen R.
Two days later, Blair brought Tyler over to the hospital after school to see Simon. Tyler had his backpack filled with both his schoolwork and Simon's.
He and his dad had gone to Simon's teachers and gotten the homework before heading for the hospital.
Inside the hospital room, Simon grinned when the door opened and his best friend peeked his head in. "TJ!" he called out.
"Hey, Simon. Me and Dad brought homework," Tyler said.
"Homework?" Simon muttered grimacing.
"Uh-huh. See?" Tyler said as he walked up to the bed and opened up his backpack for Simon to see inside.
Simon groaned and lay back down on the bed.
"Simon?" Tyler asked, concerned,
"I'm fine, TJ." Simon said sitting back up. "Hey, Uncle Blair, you just missed Mom," he said when his uncle came into the room.
"Hey, kid, how you feeling?" Blair asked.
"I'm fine. When can I get out of here?" Simon asked.
Blair tried not to grin. The kid had asked the same question every time someone came to visit him. Just this morning he had asked his parents when they had visited.
"In a few days, Simon. You have to rest, so your body can heal," Blair explained. "But I'll go ask the nurse for you. I'll be right back, you two," he said before leaving.
Tyler had pulled one of the chairs closer to the bed while Blair was talking and was already climbing up onto the bed.
Tyler started pulling out his homework.
"How was school, TJ?" Simon asked. Starting to wonder why his friend was so quiet. Usually he would be talking a mile a minute about his day.
"Fine," Tyler muttered.
"Fine?" Simon questioned.
"Uh-huh," Tyler replied, he had his notepad out and was practicing writing out words.
Simon, finally having enough, grabbed his friend and gave him a noogie. Tyler reacted like he usually did and tried to push Simon's hands away.
"Ow!" Simon hissed when Tyler accidentally hit his side.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" Tyler exclaimed.
"Its okay, T.J." Simon said soothingly.
"No it's not, its my fault you're sick," Tyler said sadly.
"No it's not, TJ!" Simon exclaimed as he moved to face Tyler.
"But I helped you turn the dials down..." Tyler said, refusing to look up at his friend.
"I'm the one that asked you to help turn the dials down the first place. I should have told Dad something was wrong. " Simon said.
"But . . ." Tyler started, only to be interrupted by Simon.
"No buts, Chief. You didn't do anything wrong. You were trying to help me like I asked you to. I should have known better," Simon said.
"I'm the guide I should know that you're not supposed to block out the pain if it's really serious."
"Yeah and I'm the Sentinel who should know when something is serious or not."
Tyler frowned, thinking it over. "How can you tell if its serious or not?"
Simon looked confused. Thinking about it, he realized he didn't know. "I have no idea, but I bet our dads know," he commented.
Blair walked back into the room a moment later, and immediately noticed the thoughtful expressions on the boys' faces.
"How do you tell when itís not a good idea to turn the pain dials down?" Tyler asked.
"How do you know when pain is serious?" Simon asked at the same time.
Blair grinned, and the boys knew they were in for a long, long, LONG answer to their questions.
Tyler carefully moved up so he was sitting next to Simon on the bed, and they leaned back against the pillows, listening to Blair talking.
Blair didn't even notice when the boys fell asleep. All he knew was that, several minutes later, he looked over to see the two boys curled up together, sound asleep.
He rolled his eyes and smiled as he pulled the covers up over both boys.
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