All right, all right, I'll admit... this is my first time writing a "missing scene piece" and I couldn't help myself. Here's one more epilogue to S2. Warning, this contains spoilers to that famous season ender.

Thanks to Tonya and Linda for beta reading and thanks to Tonya for storing my stories at her site. The Elves are welcome to do their thing and archive.

Standard disclaimers apply. The characters of Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, and Simon Banks are the property of Pet Fly and I am just borrowing them for a few short pages.

The abilities of shamans, which I have mentioned in the story, are taken from the book, "Secrets of Shamanism" by Jose Stevens, Ph.D. There are many other abilities according to Dr. Stevens, but I have included only a few here.

Now, on with the show....................


TIME OF THE CHOOSING

missing scene Sentinel Too

marlene a. becker






"Jim!" Captain Simon Banks strongly grasped Jim Ellison's arms and forcefully dragged him back from the side of the lifeless body of his partner and guide. "Jim, it's over." He added more gently, "Let him go."

For a brief moment, Ellison turned to his captain, the intense blue of his eyes now dull with shock and grief. Pain of a loss so great, he couldn't find any words to express it, so now all he uttered was a cry of despair as he tore loose from the restraining hands and returned to Blair Sandburg's side.


Great vines and closely-packed undergrowth surrounded the young wolf as he crashed through the vegetation. He could spare no time on a search for an easier path, and so, unhesitatingly, he forged ahead, intent on a destination he never thought he would have to visit.

After leaping over a fallen tree, he slowed his forward momentum to a rapid trot as he realized his objective was near. The trot decreased in speed and he scanned the surrounding forest for the signs that only he would recognize.

Gradually, the undergrowth became sparse as vines parted and opened onto a clearing.

The wolf broke to a walk and approached the opening with lowered head -- watching, listening, alert.

At the heart of the clearing were the remains of an ancient temple. Lichen- covered stones that were once mighty pillars, supporting a gold and silver roof, were now scattered as if an angry child had grown tired of play. Thick-bodied vines with broad leaves threaded among the ruins as if attempting to hold the crumbling structure together.

On the very edge of the clearing, untouched by time and avoided by the all- encompassing vegetation, was an ancient carving of a seated jaguar. The image, rough-hewn out of native rock, surveyed its surroundings with an air of authority as sightless stone eyes noticed the arrival of the young wolf.

The wolf paused for a moment, then bounded onto a large fragment of the temple wall lying before the image. As the animal settled onto his haunches, he began to blur. The long snout began to shorten, the hair curled, the body lengthened, and within a very short time the wolf had completely morphed into a young man.

He seemed not at all surprised at his transformation, but was much more interested in the temple ruins before him. Colbalt-blue eyes widened in surprise as he surveyed his surroundings. He desperately wanted to run up to the ancient structure and examine it closely; however, the innate knowledge that he was there for another purpose kept him in place.

The image of the jaguar blinked and arrested Blair Sandburg's attention.

"So," a voice emanating from everywhere, and yet, nowhere in particular, penetrated his consciousness. "You have arrived."

"Where are you?" Sandburg's head swiveled in all directions as he tried to find the owner of the mysterious voice.

"Look not with your eyes, but with your heart."

Oh boy. Where have I heard that before? Sandburg thought to himself as, unsuccessfully, he willed himself to do as he was told.

"Release your hold on the physical world," the voice commanded.

For an unknown reason, that statement terrified him, and subconsciously, he shook his head.

"Do not fear your power. It exists to help you find your way."

Again, he closed his eyes, attempted to calm his frenzied mind and see with his inner being. Breathing deeply, he gradually quelled his uneasiness and his body began to relax. When he opened his eyes the statue of the panther had been replaced by the image of an old medicine man. His round, tanned leather face was lined with age and laughter. Long, gray hair was haphazardly tied at the nape of his neck, but wayward strands escaped and flowed unnoticed in the soft breeze.

The old man smiled and nodded once. "Well done."

"How did you...? I'm dreaming, aren't I?"

"You are seeing."

Sandburg shook his head and drew his fingers through wayward curls. "Where am I? What am I doing here?"

"Time to choose."

"What? Choose what? I don't understand."

"Yes, you do."

"No. No, really I don't. I don't know who you are, where I am, what I'm doing here..."

"Look inside yourself," the old man interrupted with a wave of his hand. "Find the power."

"I don't have any power! You're talking about Jim, not me."

"No." Sadly, the image shook his head. "You must not deny it longer. Just as your sentinel had to choose to keep his gift and use it for the benefit of others, so must you choose."

"But..." Sandburg pleaded for understanding with outstretched arms, "I don't know how."

"You do," the old man insisted.

"Inchacha died before he could teach me anything."

A low, musical chuckle sounded from the image. "Still, you do not understand. Like your sentinel, you were gifted from birth; and, like him, you used your abilities without knowing."

"WHAT abilities??!!" Sandburg nearly shouted.

"Those natural to a shaman: to control time, to find that which is lost, to impart knowledge..."

"Okay, I agree that I share knowledge, but control time? I don't think so."

A deep sigh prefaced the old man's thoughts. "You already have. In order to accomplish an impossible number of tasks, you slowed time... on many occasions. To others, it was not noticeable; and you... were unaware of the action."

"I slowed time?"

"Yes, young shaman. You must now choose to accept the responsibilities of the title, and accept your gifts."

"Now?"

"There is a limit to how long time may be stretched."

"You mean I'm slowing time now?"

The image nodded. "Choose." The outline of the old man began to blur.

Sandburg blinked and shook his head to clear it of too much information. "Wait...please. I... can't. I'm scared."

The image continued to blur. "More scared than... your sentinel?"

"JIM!" Sandburg's head snapped around to stare back down the broken trail he had just come. He thought he heard his name cried out as if by an animal in pain. When he turned back toward the temple to ask a question, the outline had hardened -- into that of the rough-hewn panther statue.

The voice of the old medicine man filled the clearing, and echoed inside Sandburg's head. "Choose." Trying to shut out the command, he quickly clasped his hands over his ears and squinted against the headache he was sure was about to start. But he couldn't prevent his sentinel's sound of anguish from registering.

"JIM!!" Without another thought of doubt, he turned and ran from the clearing; and, as he ran, his long curls began to shorten, his body lowered to the ground...and the young wolf rushed along the same beaten path he had just come.

The way was shorter this time. He knew his destination and he galloped toward it unerringly. The underbrush seemed less dense, the vines more subdued, the path clearer -- he quickly found another clearing... then stopped at its edge.

There were no temple ruins here... no statue. Only a very agitated black panther, pacing back and forth, tail twitching continuously. He stopped when he noticed the wolf. Then, when the wolf made no move forward, he flicked his ears and sat... watching intently.

Slowly, the wolf walked toward the seated panther, then stopped just in front of him. He cocked his head, appraising the big cat, then lifted a paw and batted at the panther's shoulder. The cat rumbled in approval, rose, and with a glance back at the wolf to be sure he was following, ambled off into the jungle.


"SANDBURG!! Sandburg, thank god!!" Jim Ellison cradled the weak body of his guide and soulmate as the young man retched and heaved up chlorinated water.

After sentinel hearing had alerted the detective to the sound of a faint heartbeat, he'd reacted immediately and alerted the nearby medics. But when he was certain they had done their job and the heartbeat was stronger and more regular, no one was going to hold his guide but him. He would've fought them if he had to, but luckily, Simon Banks was standing by his shoulder and ran interference. Days from now, he would remember to thank his captain. But now, his attention was elsewhere.

He was totally focused on the damp, dripping young man in his arms -- listening to the heart he never thought he'd hear again, feeling it beat through his own clothes; listening to the ragged breaths; feeling warmth gradually spread through the chilled body...

"Jim..." A voice so low, so weak, only a sentinel would've heard.

"Shush." Strong hands smoothed back stringy wet curls as he gently laid his partner back down on the stretcher. "Later."

"Peru," Sandburg gasped.

Ellison smiled and nodded. "Together, partner. Just get well."

He stood and followed the medics and their precious cargo to the waiting ambulance. Before entering, he glanced at Captain Banks.

"Simon, I'm going to need some time off," he said in a no argument tone.

Subtly wiping at his red-rimmed eyes, the normally composed captain inclined his head once. "Take all the time you need, Jim." As he watched the ambulance doors close and heard the sirens shatter the uncomfortable silence that had enshrouded the area around the fountain, he repeated to himself, "Take all the time you need."

Just the beginning


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