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What We Don't Know

by ljc

3/05



Summary: I think I over – cliched a bit, but there's a story in there (complete here in three parts). Tests ... MmmMmm.



Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and Paramount. All stories are written with the love of the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories are property of the author.



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Part 1



“Come on Chief, rise and shine. The sun's going to be up soon. We've got places to go and things to do buddy.”



Moan, “Now? But Jim, it's dark out,” Blair whined as he knew Jim expected. He could play the game too. Jim was just too darn chipper in the morning. It isn't natural. But he got up and ready in minutes. Jim wouldn't be so gung ho if he knew he had some ideas for tests. Blair couldn't help but bounce as he rushed to gather the camping gear he didn't put by the door last night.



“Hey, don't we even get breakfast?” Blair spluttered as Jim thrust a thermos into his hand.



“Wonderburger has a great breakfast sandwich,” said Jim with a hungry twinkle in his eye as he reached the door and grabbed up their gear, letting Blair bring up the rear and lock the door.



Man, Jim. Enjoy, because Blair had plans for his unsuspecting sentinel.



<>-<>



It was a beautiful morning. They didn't set up the tent right away. They arrived so early that the morning dew was still thick on the grass. They decided to walk the short trail to the lake, Blair lazily batting spider webs sparkling with the dew, from their path. It was cool here this early in the morning, but they found a sun warmed rock to settle on to enjoy the view. They figured they'd wait until Simon got there. Then they'd put up their tents together.



<>-<>



Simon's arrival didn't go unnoticed.



“Hey Jim. I know you know I'm here. Don't even pretend that you didn't hear me. Come and help me with this gear,” grumped Simon.



Blair tried to hide his smirk, and whispered, “Did you hear that Jim! He's onto you, man. He is the Captain, Sir! And you have just received your orders.”



Jim gave Blair a mysterious look, got up slowly and stalked his prey. He pulled him to his feet then grabbed Blair in a headlock “If you heard that then you can hear this, I'm volunteering you to help your partner put up the Captain's tent.”



“Jim no. Not the hair!” giggled Blair.



“Sandburg, tell me you're not giggling,” groaned Simon.



Camp setup went like clockwork even though they didn't get many chances to practice those skills. It was too hard to get away with workloads as heavy as theirs. “There's a fish waiting with my name on it boys,” Simon enthused.



“I'm with you Simon. Blair are you going to try the trail up to the falls? It'll take several hours. You'll miss lunch,” asked Jim.



“That's okay. I love the solitude. The hike alone is like a meditation.” Jim and Simon looked at each and rolled their eyes. Blair missed the byplay. “You probably won't catch anything this late anyway,” teased Blair.



“Perhaps you'd like to place a small bet?” Simon saw a chance to get out of a few camp chores, but Blair just shook his head and held up his hands, palm out. “Well, then we get to eat whatever we catch. We won't have to share. Right Jim?”



Jim just grinned and reminded Blair to take a small lunch and some water with him. Simon just shook his head at his usually very reserved and undemonstrative detective.



As Blair was leaving the clearing, he whispered, just for Jim, “A little overprotective aren't you Jim? Like, smothering! Mom didn't do that when she sent me off to school.”



Jim had unkind thoughts about Naomi for a while.



<>-<>



Lunch was a hurried affair. Jim had sensed a new storm forming off the coast, and he wanted to get everything battened down before the wind and rain came up. And he wanted to be ready if he needed to go help/find/rescue a certain hiker – friend.



Simon agreed that they'd better pack everything up and call this weekend a partial 'washout', pun intended. When he saw Sandburg he tried to feel sorry for the kid but he couldn't help but laugh. He was soaked through to the skin. Blair had to wring out his hair and change into dry clothes under a tarp. Jim and Simon held it over him because Jim would never let him into Sweetheart's front seat if he was soaking wet.



They stifled their laughter until Blair growled, “It is not funny. I am wet and I am cold.” Blair almost got wet again when they both doubled up laughing.



Blair sulked half way home. But he was less grumpy after he got warmed through. He contemplated those tests that he didn't have the opportunity to give. But when they got home and ate a late, light supper they decided to call it a night. The tests would have to wait, he and Jim were too tired tonight.



<>-<>



Blair was up early and went for bagels and Jim's favorite, buttermilk donuts. Jim was up when he got back and had coffee on, and tableware set. “You could smell the donuts, couldn't you?” said Blair.



Jim grinned, “Thanks Chief. I know you try to get me to eat healthy but I really love these.”



Blair grinned back, and thought he'd never get Jim to change. Hmmm. Tests. He wondered if Jim could taste all the ingredients in the donuts? He wondered if they use organic, all natural ingredients. Would it make a difference to Jim if he knew what was in them? I'd hate to spoil this little vice of his. It's not like he doesn't work out and keep in shape. Wouldn't hurt to ask? “Hey, man. I have an idea for a little test .... ”



“No way Darwin. This is Sunday. It's a day off.”



“But Jim, it's about the donuts,” wheedled Blair.



Jim looked at his donut with a bit of worry. “What about the donuts?”



Blair bounced in his seat, “I just want you to taste them. Tell me all the ingredients. I'll check them against the label on the bag. That's all.”



Jim hesitated, trying to think of Blair's angle. He was up to something. He knew the kid too well. But he couldn't think of anything, so with a deep sigh, he agreed. After all, it was tasting donuts. That was fine with him. He'd get to savor it to the last crumb. Hmm – mm.



“Okay, tell me .... ” said Blair eagerly, sitting with the bag and a pencil ready to check off ingredients.



“Well, flour, sugar, yeast, oil, .... I don't taste buttermilk.”



“Well, buttermilk is sometimes substituted with something else. Can you tell what it is?” said Blair.



Jim looked a little peeved. They should never mess with the buttermilk. But he tried to do as Blair asked, he took another bite. “Milk ... and lemon?!”



“Great Jim. What else?” grinned Blair.



Jim had thought that was everything. Is this a trick question? But he took another bite. It wasn't so bad eating a donut as a test. No ... Yes ... Something tasted funny. Kinda chemically. Weird. Whew. He hurriedly turned his back and spit the donut remnants into his hand. Oh, gross. And the taste was still in his mouth. He threw out the soggy remains and washed quickly, then grabbed his coffee, swishing it around his mouth like mouthwash. Ugh. “SANDBURG! Don't you dare pretend to look innocent.”



Blair thought maybe he should have asked after all, but that WOULD have spoiled the test. “I'm sorry, Jim. Really. You know foods can have all kinds of additives and stuff. We've done taste tests before, and you eat these often. I thought that since you like buttermilk donuts it would be a fun test for you, and you could sort out the ingredients, no problem.”



“What was it? What does the label say?”



“Uh, I don't think the bakery added it. I think it comes from the oil used to fry the donuts. It prevents oil from turning rancid.”



“In. My. Buttermilk. Donuts?” Jim asked.



Jim looks calm. Blair thought he might need to make a strategic retreat.



Like ... now!



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Part 2



Blair drove into his space and sat staring up at the Loft. He wondered if it was safe. He really hadn't meant to make Jim mad about the test. He should have known if he had Jim focus on the ingredients in his buttermilk donuts that he would find the additive. Jim was too good a sentinel. His senses were sharp, and he'd tried to do his job as guide to hone them further. He hoped he hadn't spoiled Jim's love of buttermilk donuts. Time to face the music, as the saying goes.



<>-<>



Blair pulled his keys out of the lock and looked around the door cautiously.



“Get in here Sandburg. If I wanted revenge, they'd never find the body, and you know it.”



“Hunh ... Yeah.” That made him feel real safe. “I am sorry Jim. Are we okay?” Blair felt a little unsure that Jim wouldn't hold it against him.



“I said get in here. I'm fine. I almost can't taste it anymore. And I'll try not to think about it the next time I eat them. And a certain someone WILL NOT remind me, right?”



Blair grinned and turned to hang up his coat. His gear was still on the floor. There were things he still had to put away. As a peace offering he asked Jim what he'd like for dinner, saying that he'd cook tonight. While Jim channel surfed, Blair started dinner then grabbed his gear bag. He'd brought some snacks on the camping trip that needed to be put away.



Jim turned to look at Blair. “What is that?”



Blair grinned, “It's dinner.”



Jim didn't look amused, “There's a smell. What's in those packages?”



Blair thought, here it comes, revenge on the nerd. “Jim, it's just some trail mix. And this is a packet of tea mix that Shari gave me. I've had them before. Don't try to mess with me, man,” he said with a little chuckle.



“I'm not 'messing with you' Sandburg. I smell something chemical. I think it was there before but since that test this morning it just seems to be more noticeable and out of place. Have you read the ingredients?”



“Come on Jim. It's trail mix and tea,” said an exasperated Blair.



“Read it,” Jim said.



Wow, he looks serious. “ ... on the dried fruit?! You're kidding. Maybe that's why you won't eat this brand, this stuff can cause severe allergic reactions. Do you suppose your senses were subconsciously warning you?”



“What about the tea?” Jim said to stop Blair's wandering down another track. He didn't want him to think up more tests.



He picked up the box of tea mix, “ ... that's a flavor enhancer. Man, you can't assume anything.”



“I thought you read labels Chief?”



“I read yours thoroughly, but trail mix and tea? I thought I knew what was in them. You just never know.”



Jim thought bemusedly, that sounded just like his guide. Blair reads his sentinel's food labels thoroughly. Who's the Blessed Protector in this partnership? “Maybe we should both read labels, Chief.”



“Yeah, 'what we don't know' might hurt us.”



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Part 3



“Sandburg, it's about time you got here,” said Jim.



“Hey Jim, I do have other work you know. I got here as fast as I could. I know it's a surprise for Karen. She's been griping about being soooo

pregnant that she hasn't seen her feet for a month now. I think everyone was getting nervous she'd have the baby here.”



“I hate office parties,” grumped Jim.



“Stop that. You do not. You're just not socially secure like some people I could name,” said Blair as he ducked the expected whap on the back of his head. He danced back and sideways, grinning at his sentinel, which made Jim grin back. Tension eased. Guide's job done.



<>-<>



“Hey Rhonda, can I help with anything. I'm sorry I couldn't get here earlier,” asked Blair. Blair didn't mind helping the ladies out, not at all. Blair couldn't help flirting. It came naturally.



“I made the cake myself, since Karen has had trouble with her blood sugar during the pregnancy. I hope everyone likes it, and the punch too,” Rhonda said.



“I looks and smells great. You know cops. If you call it cake it'll disappear,” Blair answered, happy when Rhonda looked reassured.



<>-<>



The male cops were the wallflowers here. The ladies all gathered around Lt. Karen Powers and held up 'baby thingies' as H was heard to say. Jim and Simon were strategically near Simon's office door. They might need to attend to 'business' suddenly. But that didn't prevent them digging into the refreshments.



Simon was commenting on Blair's antics with the ladies when Jim asked, “Did you hear that?”



Simon looked unsure how to answer that. He could hear lots of things, but Jim could hear more.



“Simon ... ” Jim leaned into his shoulder and Simon knew there was a problem, “Sandburg.” He'd tried to say it quietly, but Simon doesn't do 'quiet' well. Heads turned.



Blair watched in shock. Jim looked like he'd zoned. He stared straight ahead for several seconds and listed to the side, into Simon's embrace.

When Jim's eyes rolled back and he collapsed, Simon barely managed to lower him to the floor.



Blair came at a run, giving orders on the fly. Dispatch was called and a medic was present but didn't have much to do. Blair had Jim in the recovery position and was checking his vitals like he'd done this before. The medic and the others just stood clear and hoped Ellison would be alright. They could see that his partner was on top of the situation.



<>-<>



The doctor was concerned that Jim was still unconscious after arrival in the ER. Blair handed over Jim's updated medical history, just to make sure the doctor took note of it's thickness, and the complexity of his sensitivities. The doctor was concerned enough to drag Blair away with pointed questions about just what Jim had come in contact with that may have caused this seizure.



<>-<>



“I had an epileptic - type seizure from a sugar substitute?!” Jim said.



Blair felt sick himself. It was supposed to be safe, except in high doses to little lab rats. But it caused dizziness in some normal people. He should have warned Jim to at least try to stay away from it. But Jim didn't know. Blair did! “The doctor said that sound you heard before you spaced out was probably the aura that comes before a seizure. The aura can be a sound, a smell or a taste. I'm just glad it didn't cause behavioral effects. I'm so sorry Jim.”



“Blair, stop blaming yourself. That's why you keep notes. Because things like this keep popping up. I didn't know and neither did you. You know I've eaten it before. I just don't understand why this happened today.”



“Maybe ... Aw Jim, it was in the cake and in the punch. For you it must have been an overdose and that caused the seizure. I'm so sorry, man. I knew Rhonda made the refreshments herself so they wouldn't bother Karen. I should have suspected ... ”



Jim got a glint in his eye as he said calmly, “No. You can't blame yourself for my reaction. You just explained it yourself. It must be Rhonda's fault,” said Jim.



Blair looked horrified, “Jim! Rhonda had no idea it would hurt anyone. Come on.”



Jim just smiled at his friend and said warmly, “Blair, it was an accident. That means it isn't anyone's fault. Not Rhonda's. And not yours. Deal?”



Blair's eyes shone with gratitude. He was thankful that this time Jim was okay. But blessed protector syndrome could go both ways.



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finis



Note: This is a work of fiction in which Jim is a Sentinel. This means that he is hypersensitive. He doesn't react as normal people would to ingredients in food, medicine, etc.. I'm not a doctor, a biochemist or a medical researcher therefore I have no expert knowledge in this area. Additives have their uses in the food processing industry and make our food choices richer and safer.