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Date with Destiny
(Formerly Truth, Justice and the American Way)
by Laura Picken

Hi everyone! Thanks for all the positive response on "Blair Sandburg, PhD". This is the sequel to that, although you don't need to have read that story to get the gist of this one. (One note of clarification: my X-Files crossover, "Someone to Watch Over Me", is not a part of this 'universe', and in no ways relates to this story.) I thought about the options that they could use to keep Blair in the department, and this kept popping into my head. Someone mentioned this possibility in another story (which one it was escapes me at the moment), and the more I thought about it, the more realistic the possibility became. Plus, this is a teaser to a case I'm still trying to come up with. But then again, that's only the beginning. Why spoil it for you?

DISCLAIMER: You know the drill -- Blair, Jim, Simon and the gang from "The Sentinel" belong to Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. I'm using them without permission and definitely not for profit. I just like writing about 'em. If we keep it clean and in character, they won't sue, will they? Any and all original characters, though, are mine, and I'm letting them play roles here because I have other stories in mind for them, so anyone who wants to use them _must_ ask me first. And be warned, you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. ;-)

And now, on with the show…

*****

Jim Ellison was a man who wasn't scared of anything. Except for losing his partner. Over the years, he had come to think of Blair Sandburg as exactly that -- his partner, his Guide, and his best friend. He couldn't imagine having to do his job without Blair at his side. But, with Blair's dissertation published and his police observer status up for review, he had a feeling that just might happen. He walked into Simon's office, unsure of how he was going to say what he needed to say, but sure that this was the right thing. He knocked on the door, and Simon answered with a gruff, "Enter."

Jim took his cue and sat down in front of the desk. "Simon, have you given any more thought to what we can do about Sandburg?"

Simon leaned back in his chair and let out a long sigh. When he first met the long-haired anthropologist, if someone had asked him that question, Simon's first response would have been to send the kid back to the school as quickly as possible. But, as he began to see the effect Blair had had on Jim, as well as the ability he has shown to handle himself well in almost any situation, he began to see Blair as just another one of his men, on the same level as his partner. Having been hit yet again by the reality of Blair's civilian status was frustrating him, but he didn't know how to keep Blair on the force short of shipping him off to the police academy, which was a solution everyone knew was unrealistic. Blair had a job, now a real job as an Associate Professor at the University, and had no desire to become a cop. And, judging from what little Jim had told him about what happened in Peru with his senses, Jim wouldn't be able to last that long without Blair either. He replied, "Yeah, I've thought about it, but I can't come up with anything that would sound plausible."

"I think I have a way to solve this."

Simon gave his best detective a curious glance. "Why do I have a feeling I'm not going to like the sound of this?"

Jim winced. "Maybe because I don't like the idea myself, but it's the only thing I could think of that might work?"

Simon sighed again. "Okay, what is it?"

"We go to Commissioner McPherson, tell her about my abilities, and get her to hire Blair on as a police consultant?"

Simon cupped his head in his hands and began to massage his temples. Jim was fiercely secretive about telling anyone about his abilities. If the information got into the wrong hands, Simon knew, it could be used against Jim or Sandburg, or, most likely, both of them, as Lee Brackett had done. To have him come up with this idea meant that they really had no other choice. "I'll arrange the meeting, but you have to tell Sandburg, okay?"

Jim nodded. As he got up to leave, he turned to Simon and added, "Oh, and thank you."

Simon looked up at him, confused. "For what?"

"For working so hard to try and keep Blair around."

"He's your partner, Jim. No cop would be able to handle you and your 'senses' nearly as well as he can. It would be stupid to try and force one to try. You'd send them screaming to the loony bin the first time you heard them mumble something about you in my office. And if you ever tell Sandburg I said this…"

Jim interrupted him, laughing as he left the office. "I know, I know! We'll be pulling traffic duty for a month. See you later, sir."

*****

Blair had no trouble agreeing to the meeting. As always, he was more concerned about the implications this meeting would have on Jim's ability to do his job than on the possibility that he might not be able to assist him. "One way or another, we'd work it out," he had reassured Jim, "We always do." So why, now, sitting outside the Commissioner's office, did he feel like a 12-year-old who had been caught sneaking into the varsity girls' locker room and now had to face the High School principal?

The Commissioner's administrative assistant led the three men into the Commissioner's office, and they sat down. No sooner had they sat down, however, when they stood up for the older woman who had entered the room. Jim and Simon exchanged their greetings with the Commissioner, who then introduced herself to Blair. "Professor Sandburg? I'm Commissioner Diane McPherson. It's nice to finally meet you."

Blair was still so stunned by his initial impressions of this woman and the fact that she called him 'Professor Sandburg' that he almost didn't respond. With her piercing blue eyes and slightly graying, but otherwise jet-black hair, she looked for all the world like she could be Blair's mother. He quickly composed himself and replied, "It's a pleasure, Commissioner."

She commented, "The chief forwarded me a copy of your dissertation. You seem to have ascertained a lot of valuable insights into police work. Congratulations, I'm sure you must be very pleased with it."

Nervously, he replied, "I am. Thank you."

She motioned for the three men to sit down as she took her place behind her imposing mahogany desk. "Now, I understand that your status as a police observer is coming up for review, Professor?" Blair nodded, and the Commissioner continued, "I don't understand. I thought that once the dissertation was published, your work here was done?"

Jim and Blair glanced at each other nervously. Simon had come over and the three of them had gone over how they were going to explain this to the Commissioner for an hour last night, reviewing every possible obstacle she could throw in their way. Leave it to her to cut to the chase. Blair nodded, and Simon interjected, "True, the paper is finished. However, in the time that Mr. Sandburg has been with our division, he has been able to contribute significantly to the division on many occasions, and we would like to see his relationship with the department continue on a more permanent basis."

The Commissioner ruffled through her papers, and came up with the file she had been looking for. Opening it, she asked, "I take it this has something to do with the work he does with you, Detective Ellison?"

Jim nodded, and drew in a deep breath. "Yes ma'am. During Blair's time at the department, he has come to assist me in a very specialized function. As we worked together, we began to realize that after he published his dissertation, we would still need to continue to work together on a more permanent basis."

Diane then asked the question everyone was dreading hearing. "And what is this specialized function, Detective?"

[Now comes the tough part.] Jim replied, "Just before Blair came to the department, I began to have some difficulty with my senses. I began to see and hear things that, to other people, simply weren't there. There was nothing physically wrong with me, yet, when I was tested, it became clear that my senses had become amplified, acutely sensitive far beyond the levels of most people. What I was hearing was real, it just may have been in the next room, in the next building, or down the block, and far out of the other person's normal hearing range. Blair's work, to that point, had been studying people with similar sensitivities, so a friend of his introduced us, and he and I started working together to help me control and direct my senses so they can be used as an effective tool in my work."

The Commissioner looked skeptical, but asked, "And you continue to need Mr. Sandburg to assist you in this fashion?"

Blair and Jim both nodded. Blair replied, "Cases of people with Detective Ellison's abilities date back to pre-civilized cultures. In those times, they were called Sentinels -- people with acute sensory ability whose duty it was to protect the tribe from danger, help scout for food, etc. Each Sentinel would have a 'partner', called a Guide, who would help him control and focus his senses when necessary. That is what I do for Detective Ellison."

Diane nodded, "I see. Of course you are aware of how crazy this story sounds."

All three men nodded in agreement. Jim then responded, "Would you like us to demonstrate?"

Curious, the Commissioner nodded. Blair then asked Diane, "Commissioner, would you please be so kind as to go into the other room and whisper something to Captain Banks? Oh, and turn up the radio."

Diane nodded in agreement, rose, and motioned for Simon, who escorted her into the waiting area. She whispered to Simon, "I think you've finally gone off the deep end, Simon--bringing these two in here and expecting me to believe their story! You really think these guys are telling the truth?"

Simon then whispered back, "I don't pretend to understand it, Diane. I've just seen enough evidence to know that it's true. And you have Jim's records from the past couple of years. You know how his arrest and conviction statistics have gone way up since he's been teamed with Sandburg."

Diane replied, "Then why hasn't any of this stuff come out in his case reports?"

Simon replied, "You remember when Danny Choy was murdered?" Diane winced slightly and nodded. It always hurt to remember when one of her 'boys' died. Simon continued, "The defense lawyers ate him alive on the witness stand. Said that there's no way he could have seen the killers from the distance he did, even though, with his abilities, it was completely possible. He couldn't say anything without making his senses a matter of public record. After that, he was a lot more 'guarded' about what he put in his reports."

Simon then turned off the radio and escorted the Commissioner back into the room. She asked Blair, "So, what was I talking to Captain Banks about? I take it the two of you were eavesdropping?"

Blair shrugged. "I didn't hear a thing--Captain Banks very considerately put the radio up so loud people were listening to it in Oregon, so that's all I heard. Jim?"

Jim looked the Commissioner straight in the eye and said. "Number one, you think we're all crazy, which I have to admit, I did too when this first started to happen to me. Simon asked you to look at the evidence, which I agree speaks for itself. Number two, you're wondering why I didn't put the times when I used my 'senses' in the reports. Simon told you about the Choy murder case, and I'm sure you definitely understand what kind of a public relations challenge this department would face if all of a sudden my 'abilities' became a matter of public record."

Diane was intrigued. It does seem like the detective had heard every word. She then remembered something on her assistant's desk, and decided to come up with a little test of her own. The door was still open a crack, so she asked Jim, "Tell me, detective. As you can tell, I don't have a coffeemaker in my office. I don't touch the stuff, and what coffee my assistant gets, she get from the cafeteria downstairs. Can you tell what kind of coffee she's drinking?"

Jim closed his eyes, and drew in a deep breath. Simon and Blair watched the familiar clench of his jaw and tilt of his head and he tried to filter out the other scents in the large office to isolate the smell he was interested in. He then replied, "French Vanilla, with hazelnut creamer and two sugars. And it's cold."

Surprised, Diane got up, went over to her assistant, and calmly asked her, "Julia, what kind of coffee did you get this morning from the cafeteria?"

Julia replied, "French Vanilla. I wanted to try something new this morning. Why do you ask?"

The Commissioner's face went white as she asked, "No reason. Oh, by the way, how do you take your coffee?"

Confused, Julia replied, "A little hazelnut creamer and two sugars. I like it sweet. Why?"

Diane shook her head, as if she was trying to brush off the shock of what she just heard. "Just curious. Thank you."

As Julia shrugged off her boss' odd behavior, the Commissioner walked slowly back to her office, then turned and asked Julia, "Oh, and Julia, please bring me a copy of the XF1013 contract and a 1099 form for Professor Sandburg."

Julia nodded, and walked over to her file cabinet. "Right away, Commissioner."

Diane then closed her door and walked slowly back to her desk. It was pretty clear to the three gentlemen that she was convinced of Jim's abilities. She just had a couple more question to ask. "These abilities of your--they can get out of control?"

Jim nodded. "If I focus too much on something with one or more of my senses, I'll start to drift mentally--almost like I'm in some sort of trance. In a high pressure situation, this can become dangerous, and has become dangerous many times. Blair has been able to talk me through the balance of being able to use my abilities without losing that 'focus'."

Diane then asked, "And how many people know about your abilities, Detective?"

Jim replied, "Only those of us in this room, and a ex-CIA agent named Lee Brackett. I believe you read the report on him?"

The Commissioner nodded. "So no one else knows?"

"No one that we know of, ma'am."

At that point, Julia discretely entered, carrying the contract and the 1099 form. Diane thanked her, and she discretely left. The Commissioner then handed the forms to Blair. "Professor, I am prepared to offer you a permanent position as a consultant to the department. You will retain all access that you had as a police observer, and your duties will be to assist the Major Crimes division in any way they find necessary, specifically in relation to your continued work with Detective Ellison. Simon, if you want to assign Detective Ellison a partner from the other detectives on the force, that is your prerogative, but the Professor here will work with Detective Ellison regardless." When she said this, all three men visibly relaxed.

Diane could tell that this is what the three men wanted, but she was also fascinated by this unusual situation, and did have a few things in mind for the Sentinel and his young Guide. But before that, a few things needed to be clarified first. As Blair was about to speak up, the Commissioner, who by now had fully regained her composure, stopped him. "Professor, I am aware of the need for the continued discretion as to who knows about the detective's 'abilities'. As far as anyone outside this room goes, you will only be known as a consultant to the police department, nothing more. Anyone who wants any more information on you or your work will have to go through me to get it. The contract you are holding is a special private contract that the department also uses for psychics we keep on retainer."

Simon looked shocked -- he had no idea the department kept psychics on retainer. And if he didn't know, he was pretty sure no one else did either. When she noticed Simon's expression, she continued, "No, Simon, as I'm sure you've just realized, it's not common knowledge that we have a few psychics on retainer with the department. They're a small group, hand-picked by me. They're my last resort before a case is retired as unsolved, and they're paid only if the information they give leads to an arrest using other viable evidence. I see no reason why Detective Ellison and Professor Sandburg's 'secret' should be treated any differently than that. Unless anyone has any objections?" The room was quiet.

When no one spoke up, Diane continued, "All right then. Gentlemen, this will mean one change, though." All three men sat up, attentive. This meeting had gone much better than anyone had expected, and they were waiting for the other shoe to drop. She turned to Blair and Jim and stated, "I don't like this business of you two filing reports that are less than accurate."

Before Blair or Jim could object, Diane continued, "Although I understand your obvious need for secrecy, I still want to see the truth documented for the record. Therefore, I'm going to ask that you two start filing two reports for each case. Detective Ellison, you will need to file the official report, as you have been doing to this point. That is the report that will continue to be a matter of public record. Professor Sandburg, I am going to need you to file a separate report, detailing everything about the case, including any 'unique' investigative techniques you and your partner may have used. If Detective Ellison saw something, I want you to tell me how far away it was. If he heard something that you used later in the case to gather other evidence, I want to know where he was in relation to what he heard. I think you get the idea?" Blair nodded.

The Commissioner continued, "These reports are to be hand-delivered to me by one of the three of you. They will be kept under lock and key in my office at all times, and only myself, Julia and those in this room will have access to them unless all parties agree to the contrary. Once delivered, those reports will never leave this room, with the exception of copies that Professor Sandburg will be at liberty to make for his research. Are we in agreement on this?" After an involuntary groan at the thought of double paperwork, both men nodded.

Noticing their annoyance, Diane reminded them, "Careful, gentlemen. Remember, I could have simply let Professor Sandburg's observer status run out and had you deal with the consequences. I think you should consider yourselves lucky you got out of this with the deal that I gave you. Are we clear on that?"

All three men responded, "Clear, ma'am."

Satisfied, Diane turned to the file she had pulled from her desk earlier. "Very well, then. That will be all for now, gentlemen. I will contact you when I need you."

Taking that as their cue to leave, the three men got up, said their "Thank you"s to the Commissioner and left. As she left, she said to herself, "They told me when I got this job that Cascade was a peaceful, quiet little city. 'Nothing like New York,' they said. Now I've got a file of Unsolved Mysteries, a team of "Mission: Impossible" psychics, and a detective whose senses are so overloaded needs a human 'guide dog' to help control them. What's next, Rod Serling showing up to take over my job?"

She could barely make out the uncontrolled laughter of Jim Ellison as he stepped into the elevator.

*****

Well, that's it folks! Stage Fright is our boys' first case under the Commissioner's new rules. Check it out!