This is a sequel to How Life Turns Out. AU crossover with Stargate SG-1

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Don't make any money from this. My ownly reward is hearing the kind words of my readers and all the chuckles I get as I write.

Eternal thanks go to TAE and Cheryl for the beta and test reads and for being patient as I took my time.

What The Heck?
Lila Kulp

What the heck have I gotten myself into? Just three days ago I was in an Army hospital listening to some psychologist try to explain how I wasnít crazy because of PTSD from a traumatic helicopter crash and the resulting stay in the jungle. Now Iím sitting in an underground Air Force facility, listening to an anthropologist tell me about Sentinels, alien parasites, and galactic politics as if they were completely ordinary topics. I guess Ďcrazyí is in the eye of the beholder, just like beauty.

If it were anyone other than Blair, Iíd seriously think they were crazy or trying to pull a prank, but somehow he makes all this stuff about heightened senses seem real. It might have something to do with how I was able to hear his voice from across the hospital or how Iím finding that I can actually do all the things that heís talking about. Blair has been the one thing that I have been sure about through all of this.

Not that I donít feel like I can trust the others. I mean, Dr. Jackson knows what heís talking about and I can tell that Col. OíNeill takes his responsibility as a CO seriously. Thereís just something different about Blair, though. I think the others here at the SGC are in awe at how I can tolerate his constant talking and excessive energy. Heíll get on a topic and will just keep talking. Itís kind of comical how Dr. Jackson and Col. OíNeill will look at each other and almost roll their eyes. Everyone here at the SGC are in awe of me, too, I think. The way some of them look at me, itís like Iím supposed to be some kind of superman or something. Only instead of leaping a tall building in a single bound, Iím supposed to be able to hear a pin drop from a hundred yards away, or smell a flea pass gas from up wind. I hear some of them talking sometimes and it kind of creeps me out to know that so many people know about this sentinel thing.

Donít get me wrong, everyone here is cool about it. Nobody thinks twice about the fact that Iím staying at Sandburgís place. The medical staff tries to keep the lights dimmed whenever Iím in the infirmary for all the medical stuff that they do. Heck, everyone says that even the cooks in the commissary have stepped it up a notch and that the food tastes better. Not that I would have noticed, Iím used to Army food. These flyboys donít realize that even bad Air Force food is better than good Army food. Letís just say that I constantly get the feeling that I interrupted a conversation when I walk into the room, and leave it at that.

Youíd think my life would be perfect. Iím an anthropologist who gets to study amazing cultures and populations, has access to unprecedented resources, and even the living embodiment of a little-studied anthropological phenomenon as a roommate. What wouldnít be perfect about that?

The guns, thatís what.

When we first got back to the SGC, I was so focused on helping Jim deal with his senses that I didnít really stop to think about just what he would be using them for. Now, Iím trying to explain the finer complexities of the Goaíuld political structure and it dawns on me that once Jim joins an SG team it will be a combat team, and Iíll be a member of that team, too. This means that as a member of an SG team, like SG-1, Iíll have to carry a gun. Even if itís just a small hand gun, like what Daniel carries, itís still a gun and itís just a question of when, not if, Iíll end up in a combat situation with explosions and gunfire and everything that comes with it. Iíve read the mission reports for some pretty messy situations and just reading about the carnage in words is bad enough. Iím not sure about experiencing it firsthand, let alone inflicting it.

Itís not that Iíve never held or even fired a gun. I had to qualify with the various weapons just to be able to go through the gate in the first place. But now, Iím going to be on one of the front line teams that encounter Jaffa and Goaíuld on a regular basis instead of just occasionally tagging along and helping out.

Iím going to have to do a lot of meditating to process this new revelation.

Everyone keeps asking me how Iím settling in. Thereís not much to say. Itís a military base. In a lot of ways itís just like all the other places Iíve been stationed. Granted, I doubt that General Hammond is secretly running drugs, so it canít be as bad as when I was down in Peru, but itís not like thereís a lot to get used to. Other than the aliens, that is.

Things arenít bad, here. I do feel like Iím back in high school trying to learn all about Greek and Egyptian mythology, but the rest of the training is pretty fascinating. Learning how to use the alien weapons and technology is challenging. Let me tell you, itís a real blast when you finally get them to work.

Then thereís the gate itself. That is something to see. I guess I zoned pretty bad when I first saw it open. I remember hearing the whoosh and seeing this amazing display of colors, then the next thing I knew Sandburg was trying to get my attention and everyone was staring at me in concern. I still have no idea when Dr. Fraiser showed up.

Itís kind of hard to believe Iíve only been here a week. What with all the sentinel stuff Blair has me doing and training so I can go through the gate, Iíve been pretty busy. Iíve gotten to meet most of the members of all the SG teams that I might get assigned to. Theyíre pretty good people and I could probably work with most of them. Thereís a couple that Iíd probably have issues with, but you find them everywhere you go.

I get the feeling that they have a kind of competition going to see who gets the sentinel assigned to their team. Not to mention that everyone is looking forward to me going through the gate for the first time. Iíve gotten no end of advice on that; donít eat anything because most people throw up the first time, keep your eyes open, keep your eyes closed. Blair says that all the excitement is because going through the gate for the first time is like an initiation ritual. I just want to get it over with so that things will eventually get to some kind of normal.

I canít wait to get this over with. I know that there is probably nothing to worry about, but I just canít help it. Going through the gate for the first time is not the most pleasant thing in the universe. Most people get motion sick and toss their cookies. Sure there have been a few who didnít understand what all the fuss was about, but weíve also have a few people who still get sick when they go through the gate. Thankfully they are on dig teams and not the combat teams.

Iím probably just being paranoid, not to mention annoying the heck out of Dr. Fraiser. Jim says that he doesnít normally get motion sick, so heíll probably be fine. Maybe if I keep telling myself that, Iíll start to believe it.

Jim, of course, says I just need to relax. Heíll go through the gate and heíll either throw up or he wonít, simple as that. Iím not sure if thatís more reassuring or just infuriating.

Thankfully, weíre about to find out. Weíre just waiting for the gate to finish dialing the alpha site. Then, after we get the go ahead, and if I can keep Jim from zoning on the ripples of the event horizon, weíll step through.

I think heís actually looking forward to this. He just has this eager look on his face that I havenít really seen before. He reminds me of a little kid getting to go on a field trip. He hasnít said anything this last week, but I think he has been getting eager for some action. Jim isnít the kind who would be happy sitting around and watching everyone else going on missions.

He also apparently isnít the kind to miss an opportunity to give me a hard time. I get just a little distracted and the next thing I know heís acting like Iíve zoned and heís trying to bring me out of it. Well, it got him to smile and gave everyone here a good laugh, so I can deal with it. It will be even more worth it if Jim is still smiling after stepping through the gate.

Iíve come to realize something. It doesnít matter where you are, the US, South America, Europe, or heck, halfway across the galaxy. All medical facilities have two things eerily in common. One, there is something about them, that I canít put my finger on, that just screams medical facility, and two, I really hate being in them.

I remember giving Blair a hard time about me being the one whoís supposed to zone-out before we stepped through the gate and then I woke up here. They tell me I passed out when I went through. I just dropped to the ground like a rag doll, according to Maj. Pierce. Not really what I wanted to hear when I first woke up, but hey, he reminded me that at least I can honestly say that I didnít throw up my first time through the gate.

Iíve got to give Blair credit, though. He has yet to say, ĎI told you so.í He almost drove me nuts these last couple of days with worrying about what would happen and how it would affect my senses. One minute he was certain that I would have sensory spikes and then the next he was terrified I would zone. I guess he was wrong after all, neither one happened.

He and the base doctor are off chatting with Dr. Fraiser through the stargate. Iíd try to listen in, but concentrating like that just makes my head hurt worse.

I canít tell you how glad I am to have that over. When we stepped through the gate, it was like one of those dreams where you canít move and everything happens in slow motion. All I could do was watch as my sentinel crumpled into a heap. Thank all the gods and goddesses that Sgt. Donaldson was there to keep Jim from hitting his head on the stone platform. We had expected him to be somewhat disoriented, but not unconscious.

I think the whole base breathed a sigh of relief when Jim finally woke up. Of course, he wasnít too happy about being in the infirmary, but thatís what happens when you scare the bejeebers out of me. And of course he doesnít want to just sit and take it easy. No, now that heís awake and his headache has gone away, he says heís fine and wants a tour of the alpha site and to even go through with the training exercises that we had already planned with SG-15.

Major Pierce is, of course, bragging about getting us on his team. Iíve never really paid much attention to what the military types have said about me, but apparently he is just as happy about me joining his team as he is about getting Jim. Apparently, Jim even overheard the major comparing me to Daniel Jackson. I bet Col. OíNeill just loves that.

So, now that the doctors and I have let Jim up out of bed, (ok, so itís more like we gave up on trying to keep him in bed) weíre out here in the woods of the alpha site playing an adult version of hide-n-seek. Basically itís Jim and me versus everyone else. Right now weíre tracking Sgt. Donaldson while trying to not get caught by the major and the rest of the team. It would be easier if we were more familiar with the terrain, but then again, weíre not likely to know the terrain on any other planets that we go to, either.

I guess Iíd better pay attention and get used to this kind of thing. Iím going to be trudging around all sorts of environments with Jim and the rest of SG-15 from now on. At least I donít have to worry about going through the gate again until tomorrow morning.

Okay, this is getting old. The first time I passed out going through the gate, everyone thought it was just an extreme case of the first time jitters. I know Blair was expecting something unique due to my heightened senses. The second time, when we came back to Earth from the alpha site, everyone started to get concerned. The third time it happened, everyone got serious and now it feels like the entire base is focused on figuring out what is going on and how to stop it from happening again.

Dr. Fraiser and her staff have been working around the clock, devising tests and theories to explain why I pass out every time I go through the gate. I donít even want to think about all the MRIs, blood tests, stress tests, sensory tests, and psychological tests that Iíve been through lately. I wouldnít be surprised if Carter wanted me to take a damn physics test next.

They canít even really put any kind of sensors on me to see whatís happening when I go through the gate, because they all stop working when they go through the gate, too. Add to that, the fact that Iím already unconscious when I come out the other side and thereís not a lot of opportunity for them to collect any data.

We tried all sorts of things. One of the theories is that there is some kind of overload and I pass out like when a computer crashes.

Blair came up with this dial idea, so I can turn down my senses, just like on an old radio. It works great for normal stuff, but not for going through the gate. We tried having Blair and I in physical contact as we went through the gate to maximize this connection thing between sentinel and guide. That had no effect. We tried having Blair go through first. We tried having me go first. We tried various different meditations and medications. Hell, Tealíc even tried to teach me Kelnoreem!

Everything we try ends the same way, with me waking up in some medical facility listening to Blair and the doctors talking about me. Whenever weíre on Earth and Iím not unconscious, Blair and Daniel are buried in books and old documents, looking for any kind of reference to sentinels going through the gate. I donít think theyíve had much success, because if they had found anything, Blair would have been in here talking a mile a minute and I would have to remind him to breathe between sentences. On the plus side, he and Daniel are getting a chance to catalog and index all their dusty old books.

Col. OíNeill and Tealíc have apparently appointed themselves as my personal morale officers. Itís like they have a schedule or something set up with the doctors. The docs will no sooner tell me that theyíre done with me for now, then I turn around and either Col. OíNeill or Tealíc or one of the guys from SG-15 or any combination there of are standing there waiting for me. Blair will disappear back to his dungeon full of books and I get dragged off to some activity thatís supposed to be fun. I really have to find a way to tell Tealíc that thereís just so many times a person can watch Star Wars.

I understand why theyíre doing it, though. They still forget that I can hear them even when they are just down the hall. They think that if I have too much free time to ponder whatís going on, then Iíll have a breakdown or something. To be totally honest, Iím bit concerned, too. Itís not like Iíve got a whole lot of options if this Stargate thing doesnít work out. I even kind of like it here. Everyone is serious about what they are doing and they understand about this sentinel and guide thing between Sandburg and me. I doubt that would be the case if I got posted somewhere else and I have no idea what Iíd do in the civilian world.

Maybe I should have just stayed with the Chopec.

I canít tell you how glad I am that I took those psychology courses back as an undergrad. Even that small bit of knowledge has been invaluable these last couple of weeks, hell this last month, dealing with Jim and everything thatís been going on.

All the medical tests and times weíve gone through the gate to try one thing or another has me all worn out and Iím just there to help Jim out. I donít know if I could have put up with everything the way he has. The rest of us are all at our witís end and out of ideas. Itís really surprising that Jim hasnít run out of patience by now.

I think the main reason heís holding it together is just because heís supposed to. Itís like a mind over matter kind of thing. You do what you need to in order to get the job done. He literally just soldiers through it all.

For example, when Col. OíNeill says, ďHey, letís go fishing,Ē as a captain, the proper response is, ďSure, Iíd love to.Ē Itís simply his duty to put up with all this, so he puts up with it.

Thatís why weíre here in Cascade.

The base psychologist was concerned that Jim wasnít dealing with all of this as well as he would like us to think. After all, heís been through almost two years of stuff that would make most other people question the wisdom of sanity. First there was the helicopter crash, and then adjusting to life in the jungle. Then, just when Jim must have been thinking that he was going to be there for the rest of his life, the Army shows up and he has to adjust back to modern life again. Add to that, having to deal with over-active senses, which the doctors at Walter Reed misdiagnosed as PTSD, and now everything at the SGC. Dr. Luvwood thought it would be best for Jim to get back in touch with what most of the world sees as a normal life and that the best place to do that would be Cascade.

So, it was decided that Jim and I would take a break and mix a bit of psychological therapy with R&R. At the same time, SG1 is going to go back to PX3-992 and consult with the natives there to see if they know why Jim keeps passing out. Hopefully, they will be able to give us an answer so weíll be able to go through the gate and finally get back to the normal oddness of life in the SGC. I really would like to get to know the laughing and smiling Jim that we got a glimpse of just before stepping through the gate the first time, not this Jim who is totally focused on the Ďmissioní and Ďdutyí.

Now, Jim and I are in the lobby of the building where his dad works, trying to get the receptionist to interrupt a meeting to let William Ellison know that his son is here to see him. The problem is that she doesnít believe Jim is really Williamís son, because heís supposed to be dead.

Apparently, Jimís relationship with his dad hasnít been the best, which is why Jim hasnít really spoken with his Dad since he left home and went to boot camp. So it kind of surprised me that Jim wanted to get together with his Dad first thing on our little trip. Then it dawned on me that heís treating Dr. Luvwoodís suggestion that he try to patch things up with his father like a mission. Heís doing it because itís expected of him, not because he wants to or because he thinks itíll help heal wounds. Itís like heís using Ďdutyí as a shield or wall to hide behind, as an excuse to not face the more emotional side of things.

The way things are going, itís going to be a long three days.

When the receptionist asks Jim to wait, yet again, so she can answer the phone, again, I decide that itís time to break things up before the receptionist calls security to escort us out. While sheís distracted with the phone, I grab a pen and post-it note and write a quick note, the name of the hotel that weíre staying at and our room number. It takes a bit of glaring, but I manage to get Jim to sign his name then hand it to the receptionist, who is all too happy to agree to send it to William as long as we leave.

I have the feeling sheíll be lucky if she still has a job after Mr. Ellison gets the note.

This is not going well. Iíve only got two things Iím supposed to do during this trip; one, talk to my Dad, and, two, relax. You know how well the first one went.

The second one isnít off to a good start, either. We came back to the hotel and almost immediately, Blair started interrogating me regarding what weíre going to be doing. The guy was demanding a detailed itinerary or something. It was like he had picked up where Col. OíNeill and Tealíc had left off.

He had brought up a stack of brochures from the front desk and wanted me to go through them like a damn tourist. I had to keep reminding him that I grew up here and that Iíd been to most of these places as a kid. Maybe he wanted me to relive my childhood or something. I donít know.

Between all the medical stuff and entertainment stuff that everyone at the SGC constantly had me doing, Iím worn out. I donít want to go anywhere. I donít want to do anything. It took a lot of arguing and convincing, but I finally got Blair to understand that I just want to sit and do nothing for a while. Maybe watch a game on TV or just flip channels, but nothing more than that.

Of course it didnít take long for the next round of interrogation to start. Blair of course let me have the remote control, but he apparently didnít like watching the ĎUpí channel. He kept making comments about why didnít I stop on this show, or how can I tell if I donít want to watch something unless I wait through the commercials. Eventually he suggested ordering a movie from one of the pay channels and started flipping through the information guide.

Thatís when I suggested he go and get us something to eat. This was followed by him trying to convince me to go with him, which was followed by me losing it.

I was starting to feel like nobody trusted me to be alone. It was like there was a suicide watch or something.

Oh, the hurt puppy look that comment earned me. If I hadnít been so frustrated, Iíd have felt bad, but damn it, the more I thought about it, thatís what it felt like.

Blair gave in and went to get sandwiches from a deli that he used to go to a lot when he was still at Rainier. I tried to settle back down and watch some more TV, but I guess Iíd gotten too worked up, because instead of flipping channels, I started pacing the room and talking to myself.

I have no idea how long I paced back and forth. I wasnít even paying attention to my guideís progress through the building. The next thing I know, thereís a knock on the door. I just figured it was Blair with his arms full and wanted me to open the door for him, or at least give me some warning so I could try to calm down a bit before he entered the room.

I was wrong.

So here I am, standing in the doorway of my hotel room, looking like an idiot with my mouth hanging open in shock, trying to figure out what to say to my Dad.

Jim was right. We were all over-reacting. Itís not like we all got together and decided that we were going keep an eye on him 24/7. It just sort of happened.

There I was, trying to give him the chance to decide what we were going to do and when he decided to do nothing, I wouldnít let him. I guess I just have a hard time doing nothing. Maybe I should be the one having regular chats with Dr. Luvwood.

So, as an apology, I not only got the sandwiches, but I stopped and got some of Jimís favorite junk food and a crossword puzzle book to keep me quiet. I was tempted to go up to the library at Rainer, but I donít think my ID is valid there anymore, plus it would have taken way too long. I can easily get lost in there for hours.

Peace offerings in hand, I made my way back to our room. Thankfully, we got stuck at the end of the hallway. I really donít want to think about Jim putting up with the constant noise of the elevator or ice machine. Even I have a hard time putting up with it; a sentinel would be utterly miserable. I came around the corner just in time to see someone in an expensive business suit enter our room and the door close. I just knew it had to be Jimís dad. It figures, the only time Iím gone is when his dad shows up and he has to face the man by himself.

The relived look on Jimís face when I walked through the door was clear and obvious.

My first impression of William was of an uptight businessman who put too much value in outward appearances. Then again, he had been in a big meeting just a while ago. He probably rushed directly over here as soon as he got the note and hadnít had a chance to change out of his suit, yet.

Once you get past the suit, the family resemblance stands out. Both Jim and his dad are the same height and build. Williamís hair is a bit longer and grayer, but you can tell itís the same color. But what really jumps out is the personality. Just the way they interact, I can tell they are both men who donít like to be pushed around. Yeah, Jim is in the military and has to follow orders, but there is a subtle difference between willingly following orders from an officer you respect and being forced to follow orders from someone you donít respect.

William brings up the idea of going out to dinner and Jim immediately says no. It was like a knee-jerk reaction. He follows up with the fact that I just brought in food. William points out that it could be put in the refrigerator and saved for tomorrow. They both look at me as if they expect me to cast the deciding vote. Ha, I know better than that. I just responded that I didnít mind either way and I was good with whatever they agreed on.

Yep, they even have the same glare.

This is one of those times when Iím really glad I had those psychology classes as an undergrad. The interaction between Jim and his Dad is very telling. Itís better than a fencing match.

I can tell that William is happy to see Jim. There is no doubt about that. The problem is he doesnít know exactly how to express it. I get the feeling that he almost canít believe that Jim is really here. He keeps raising his hands, which are open, like you would if you were going to touch something, but then he lowers them again and clenches his fists. Itís like heís scared that Jim will just turn out to be an illusion if he tries to touch him.

Then thereís Jim. He normally does a good job of maintaining this image of self-assurance and control. I can always tell when itís just an act, but then again, Iím his guide. A casual observer probably wouldnít be able to tell the difference. But right now, itís blatantly obvious that Jim isnít sure how to act around his dad. Actually, I think itís more accurate to say that heís not sure how heís SUPPOSED to act around his dad.

Back at the base, itís easy to tell how youíre supposed to act around someone. You either out-rank them, in which case itís your job to tell them what to do in order to achieve a specific goal, or they out-rank you, in which case you respond with ďyes, sirĒ or ďno, sirĒ and do what you are told. Here, Jimís posture is the same as when heís dealing with Jack or General Hammond. He is clearly out-ranked, but his responses to his dadís suggestions are completely opposite.

William wants to go out to dinner. Jim says weíve already got food. William wants us to check out and to come stay with him at his house. Jim wants to just stay here. William asks what Jimís been doing since he returned from Peru. Jim just says that he canít say. It finally got to a point where their dysfunctional dance got too painful to watch and I just had to do something. I suggested that we make plans to meet tomorrow night for dinner. When it looked like William was going to argue, I quickly pointed out that it would give him time to think up some really embarrassing stories that he could tell me about Jim as a kid and even bring cute baby pictures with him.

William smiled a bit as he started to think about what he was going to tell me tomorrow.

I could tell that Jim was torn between thanking me for ending his current misery or glaring at me for perpetrating future pain.

I guess weíll find out tomorrow night.

This is more like it. This is relaxing. I got to sleep in, and then eat a good breakfast. This was a fresh made civilian breakfast, too, with my eggs made to order and crisp bacon, not the rubbery scrambled eggs and the been-sitting-in-the-warmer-too-long soggy bacon that the commissary serves. Trust me, I can tell the difference. After breakfast I spent some time in the hotel gym, and then woke up Sandburg.

At least I attempted to wake up Sandburg. I tossed my sweaty towel at him on my way to the shower and then did my best to make sleeping difficult as I got dressed for the day. I had to resort to pulling the covers off of him just to get him to acknowledge the conscious world. I swear that man can sleep through anything. There I was all ready to go out for the day and my guide and best friend wanted to spend the whole day in bed.

Obviously, I managed to get him moving, because here we are at the Oaks City Park.

Watching TV last night, I realized that I couldnít spend the entire time in the hotel room, feeling sorry for myself. Iím supposed to be relaxing and hiding inside is not the way to do that. But instead of going through the brochures that Blair brought up, I decided to just head out to one of the parks and play it by ear once we got there.

So far, so good.

We managed to get in on a pickup game with some guys on the basketball court. For being short, Blair can really hold his own and even scored a few buckets. The real eye opener was when we mixed up the teams and he and I ended up playing against each other. Youíd think that with me being taller and in better shape that Iíd be able to blow right by him and score easy. Not the case. It was like he always knew which way I was going as soon as I knew. It was kind of spooky, actually. I guess thereís still some things about this sentinel and guide stuff that we havenít figured out yet.

Now weíre just strolling around the park, eating a couple of hotdogs and just watching everyone enjoy the weather. It kind of amazes me how civilians can just go about their daily lives not knowing about all the potential danger that exists out there. Itís nice to know that Blair and I are a part of making that possible.

Speaking of potential dangers, I can hear police sirens off in the distance. Right now they are probably several blocks away, far enough that Blair and the others wonít be able to hear them, but they are moving in this general direction. Iím sure itís nothing to worry about, but it does emphasize the point that the Goaíuld arenít the only threats we face.

The distinct sound of screeching tires and crunching metal tells me that the car chase is over. I figured that the excitement was over and turned back to finish my hotdog, but then the shouting and yelling started. I could hear the cops shouting at one guy. It was a jumble of voices, but I could still make out some of the words; ďget downĒ and ďstop resistingĒ mostly.

There is a second cluster of shouting thatís also moving towards the park. These cops are shouting things like ďfreezeĒ and ďhaltĒ. I guess they got someone who is trying to run on foot. Focusing my hearing I can tell that the suspect is running through the wooded area that borders the east side of the park. In fact, it sounds like heís headed directly for the playground area.

I know that Iím supposed to be on vacation and that the cops can handle this, but something tells me to head over to the playground.

This is more like it. OK, so having to wake up before noon wasnít my idea, but it was worth it to get to hang out with Jim today, the real Jim, the Jim that laughs and smiles. I actually woke up when he tossed his nasty towel at me, but I just couldnít resist making it difficult for him to get me out of bed. I think he actually enjoyed tormenting me. Like I said, it was worth it.

The basketball game was a blast. He really wasnít expecting me to be that good. Though, I did take advantage of our unique connection. Weíll have to experiment with that after we get this whole thing with the gate sorted out. Iím sure itíll come in handy out in the field.

Or, it could come in handy right now. Jimís been staring off into space, but I can tell heís really listening to something. What it is, I have no idea, but heís focused on it. When he looks over at the playground, I can tell that heís really concerned about something, so when he takes off running, I donít question. I just try to keep up.

We are only about thirty yards away from the playground when some guy comes bursting through the bushes. There could be all sorts of reasons for this guy to have been in the woods, but the large knife that he has in his hand kind of eliminates most of the less threatening ones.

Several things happened all at once. This guy takes one look at Jim and me and then he takes off running for the playground with all the kids. Jim takes off to intercept him. I start yelling at the parents and kids to get away. Some of the parents see the guy and start yelling as well.

Iím running towards the playground, intending to help get the kids out of the way, while Jim dives at the guy and ends up tripping him up and taking him down in a messy tackle. I managed to help a mom with a set of twins and then turn in time to see Crocodile Dundee take a swipe at Jim with his knife. Jim managed to dodge the blade and grabbed the guyís arm all at the same time. Using some fancy martial arts move that Iím sure someone has tried to teach me back at the base, he disarms this guy and has him pinned on the ground by the time the cops come running up with their guns drawn.

Shortly after that, the cops had Knifeman in handcuffs and locked in a patrol car.

Then came the endless questions and the telling and retelling of what happened. At first, I was fine with everything, but then either the adrenaline wore off, or having all the strange people around started to get to me and I started to get that killer headache, again. Thankfully Jim managed to convince Detective Banks that I didnít need to have the paramedics check me out. I really would have hated to try and explain things to the local doctors.

We had just enough time after the cops finished with all their questions and paperwork to get some rest and cleaned up at the hotel and then head out to meet Jimís dad at the restaurant.

Well that didnít go the way I thought it would.

I blame Sandburg.

I was all prepared for a very awkward, uncomfortable, and looooong dinner with my Dad, but instead, it was a very pleasant evening. Itís all Sandburgís fault.

Number one, he encouraged my Dad to bring photos and be ready to tell stories about when I was a kid. Number two, he dared me to give my Dad a hug instead of just shaking hands. He dared me. A preemptive strike is what he called it. He told me that it would be the last thing that Dad would have expected and that it would put him off balance for the rest of the evening. What a load of bull.

This connection thing goes both ways, so itís not like I couldnít tell that he was just making it up, but he DARED me.

So, we get to restaurant and thereís my Dad, waiting at the maitreí deís podium. I wonder if he was surprised that we actually showed up or if he expected us to bail on him. Almost immediately, I feel this nagging from my guide as if he keeps thinking, ďdo it, do it, do it.Ē Like I said earlier, he dared me.

The next thing I know, Iím giving my Dad a full hug. Itís not just a polite one, which is more of a quick wrap around pat on the back, no, itís a full wrap your arms around and squeeze kind of hug. What was even more surprising was that my Dad returned it and that he wouldnít let go.

Iím not sure who was more off balance after that, me or my Dad.

Dinner was spent listening to Dad tell stories from when I was a kid. Itís kind of unsettling to hear stories of things that I remember, but with such a different perspective. I remember things like Dad going on a lot of business trips and him trying to make it up to us with lots of gifts, but I never realized how much time and thought he put into getting them. He had Blair in stitches when he told about hunting all over LA, looking for a particular toy that Stephen had mentioned I wanted only to find that I had made it all up just to tease my little brother.

What was even more unsettling were the stories that I didnít remember, like the time I got poison ivy and Dad stayed up all night reading to me, because otherwise I couldnít sleep. I initially was thinking that he just sat in a chair next to my bed, but then he mentioned how his arm went numb, because he didnít want to move and wake me up.

This just prompted Blair to ask another question and Dad would tell another story.

Like I said, I blame Sandburg.

That was soooo much fun.

Not only did I get Jim to give his dad a hug and break the ice, but I got a ton of information about Jimís early childhood and his senses. If only I had a tape recorder or a notebook. Mr. Ellison was a wealth of information even if he didnít realize exactly what he was talking about. I especially loved when he talked about how Sally, their housekeeper, would make two different meals, one for Jim and one for everyone else. She would then put the different leftovers in different colored containers so that Jimmy could tell which ones were for him, which explains why he insists on keeping our food in color-coded containers at home.

Oh man, the look on Jimís face, when he realized that the stories his dad was telling meant his senses were online as a kid, was priceless.

What was better was the look on Williamís face when some guy walked up to our table wanting to shake hands with me and Jim. It turns out that was the police chief. The woman that I helped earlier at the park is his daughter and the twins she was taking care of are his grandsons. He recognized William and came over to see if the James Ellison who had stopped the man with the knife was of any relation. The chief must have shaken our hands at least three times each.

I must admit, I was a bit embarrassed. I think Jim was, too, but William was beaming with pride.

Finally, the police chief tells Jim that if he ever decides to leave the Army, heíd make an excellent police officer and to let him know, heíd be more than happy to write a letter of recommendation to the police academy. Jim was almost standing at attention. I guess brass is brass no matter what hierarchical structure they are in. Thankfully, Jim gave him a polite non-committal answer and then the chief let us get back to our dinner.

The whole night couldnít have gone better; heck the whole trip was great. I now have a new appreciation for doing nothing and watching the Ďupí channel.

We are both recharged and eager to get back to the base and find out what SG-1 found out so we can get Jim though the gate.

Have you ever gotten the feeling that people are afraid to talk to you? Not just strangers, but people you know and who should be excitedly asking you how your trip went. Oh, they wave and say hi, but they were obviously avoiding any lengthy conversation. Itís like they knew something we didnít and they didnít want to be the ones to tell us the bad news.

We didnít have to wait long. Jim and I went straight down to the conference room for the scheduled briefing. Another clue that there was bad news was that, despite the fact that we were early; we were the last ones there.

Thankfully General Hammond and Col. OíNeill are not the kind to drag something like this out and they got straight to the point. According to the inhabitants of PX3-992, Sentinels arenít supposed to go through the gate.

They donít know of a way for a sentinel to go through the gate without passing out. According to them, The Great One, which is the best translation for what they call their deity, specifically made it so they couldnít go through the gate to keep The Evil Ones from taking them. I hate to admit it, but it makes sense. Could you imagine what would happen if a Goaíuld had a sentinel working for him, or worse, as a host?

It still leaves us with one heck of a problem. What are we going to do now?

General Hammond mentioned a couple of options. One, we could join a dig team. I could work with the artifacts and cultures while Jim does security stuff. Two, we could go to the alpha site and work security there, essentially Jim would make sure everyone who came in wasnít a goaíuld or something. Three, we could stay here on Earth and do the same thing in addition to going on any Earth bound missions that might come up. No matter which option we take, Jim still has to sit by and watch everyone else go through the gate and do the fighting.

Whatís even worse is that the Ďrealí Jim is gone again and weíre left with the one who just soldiers through. So much for our trip to Cascade.

Too bad we donít have a rock garden here at the SGC. There are precious few places to just go and, for lack of a better term, feel sorry for myself. Iíd go to the gym and try to beat the weight bag to a pulp, but I really donít feel like being around people even that much. Although, it is nice that SG-15 has positioned themselves on the stairs a few flights above and below me, just to warn people that itís a better idea to take the elevator right now.

I should have expected this, been prepared for the possibility.

I was right earlier. I should have just stayed with the Chopec. But instead, Iím going to be stuck either guarding the gate and asking people to wipe their feet as they come through, or babysitting some brain trust as they play in the dirt.

What good is it to have all these abilities and skills if I canít really use them?

Granted we do need some security for the dig teams and it is important to check everyone who comes through the gate, but anyone can do that kind of stuff. Is it really something that requires a combat trained Ranger with heightened senses?

Either way Iíd be helping to fight the Goaíuld about as much as the cops back in Cascade.

Itís funny how life turns out isnít it?

Itís funny how life turns out.

I was living an anthropologistís dream, traveling to distant worlds and studying isolated cultures. Then, just as I was thinking that Iíd have to give it up because of debilitating headaches, I met Jim and we started this whole Sentinel/Guide adventure. As it turned out I still had to give up the inter-planetary travel, but something even better came out of it.

I still remember that day back at the SGC when we found out that Jim would probably never be able to go through the gate without passing out. Maj. Pierce had just wished me luck as I headed up the stairs where Jim was processing. Personally, I preferred to hide behind the rack of computers in Samís office. It was warm and all the fans made great white noise for meditating. Anyway, I went to check on Jim, except he came barreling down the stairs and almost ran over me. He was babbling something about Cascade and fighting a different battle and who knows what else. Normally Iím the one that people have to get to slow down, breathe, and use small words.

Before I knew what was happening, Jimís dragging me down the hall to go talk to General Hammond. It took the two of us to get Jim to calm down enough for us to understand what he was talking about. Then we had to get a bunch of people back to the conference room to discuss the option and see if it really was a good idea or not.

Long story short, Jim and I are back in Cascade.

Iím sitting here in the bleachers of the police academy gym, thanks to the lovely Cascade weather, watching my sentinel get his shield after finishing top of his class. Chief Warren was right. Jim is going to make a great cop.

As for me, Iím an anthropology professor at Rainer. Dr. Eli Stoddard, my mentor, couldnít have been happier when he found out I wanted to come back to my alma mater. I wonder how many strings he pulled and favors he called in to arrange the opening that suddenly appeared.

It was agreed that Jim and I would still be available if the SGC needs us for something specific or they find a way for Jim to go through the gate. In exchange, if we run into any unique problems, we have access to some of the SGCís resources, including the elders on PX3-992.

Weíve been lucky so far. There were a few rough spots at first, mostly figuring out that we canít go for long periods of time without seeing each other, but weíve got a good handle on the basics now. We donít have all the details worked out, but I think itís something that weíve got to try. Weíll just have to deal with any new problems as they come up.

Hammond and Fraiser both agreed that this sentinel and guide thing could be considered personal medical information. I mean itís not like Burtonís theory on sentinels is top secret or anything, just the existence of other worlds and stuff. Iím not saying that weíre going to go around telling everyone. Jim wants to see if we can make this work with as few people knowing as possible. Weíve told his dad, since he pretty much already knew anyway and it will help avoid the whole next-of-kin, emergency contact thing, but I think the idea of other people knowing makes him uncomfortable. But itís not like we canít tell other people if and when we need to.

The cheering of the graduates startles me out of my memories of the past and I canít help wonder what the future will bring.

It just goes to show, that you never know how life will turn out.

The End

The story continues in Punishment

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