Title: Bird's Eye View -- Cascade
Fandom: The Sentinel
Rating: R, m/m SLASH
Pairing: Jim/Blair, Panther/Wolf - SLASH
Summary: A little warbler finds a new perch and some interesting viewing in the concrete forest of Cas-cade.
Notes: I first wrote this story in 2002. It was/is intended as the first of a Trilogy; one which spans several fandoms. “Bird’s Eye View -- Seacouver” comes next, followed by “Bird’s Eye View -- Cheyenne”. So, that’s Sentinel to Highlander to Stargate. Only thing is, I never got around to writing more than a few paragraphs in the HL or SG-1 versions. Hence, this story has never been posted anywhere... making it only sorta new. :)
Bird’s Eye View -- Cascade
I’ve been back here many times over the last few weeks. I can’t explain the exact reason why it is that I keep coming back to this strange square tree each night, or why I feel compelled to sit outside this same magic portal on this blasted rocky perch. Why, if my friends saw me now they’d probably fall out of the sky laughing.
But, once again, here I am. Feet tucked under me to keep them warm against the chill of this funny rock-perch. (I don’t think this thing has ever been warm, if you ask me.) I can see myself reflected back through the semi-translucent magic portal. I’ve never figured out how it works; how it can both reflect myself back at me and show me what goes on behind it at the same time, but my parents taught me never to question the world I live in -- it’ll just give you headaches. That was good advice, I’ve learned. Too bad these animals I spend my nights watching haven’t figured that out yet.
I flew into a colourful cousin several mornings back. Her name was Kuni, and though she was rather too full of herself for my tastes . . . I mean, really, what makes a parrot -- sorry, ‘Scarlet Macaw’ -- so much better than a Warbler, I ask you? Nothing, that’s what. So what if her feathers are brightly coloured? That’s an easy way to get yourself killed around here. It’s like a homing beacon for predators. Honestly, some birds never learn.
And besides, she might be pretty, but I can still sing better. So, ha!
Anyway, this meeting was very fortuitous for me, as it turns out. Kuni has apparently learned some of these large two-legged animals’ strange language. She taught me that they call themselves “hoo-mans” and that while they do live in flocks, like sensible creatures, she considers that to be the limit to their intelligence. From what I’ve seen so far, I think she may be right.
The hoo-mans I have been watching, through this magic portal which separates us (by the way, I asked Kuni about that, too. She told me it was called a “win-doh”, but she had not yet discovered the purpose of it.) seem to be called “Jim” and “Cheef” from what I can discern. And they do not seem to have learned the slightest lesson about life that any good parent would have taught their fledglings first thing. It’s amazing these two animals have managed to survive as long as they obviously have. Why, I had a sibling once who never learned to stay in the nest until he was able to fly -- a most basic lesson -- and he wound up eaten by a cat! Why a predator has not killed one of these hoo-mans, I don’t know. But I’m glad of it, it gives me something to watch.
That’s what I’m doing right now, you know. Watching them through the win-doh. Watching as the smaller one, the one called Cheef, scuttles about like a squirrel in the shiny clearing where they store their food. Jim sits on the broad perch (which I dare say looks much more comfortable than mine!) in the clearing closer to me, drinking the juice of a strange fruit I have never seen before. He seems to like it, though. Perhaps I shall see if I can find this long, brown, cylindrical fruit with the strange markings. I just hope my bill is strong enough to crack open the top of it, for I have seen neither Jim nor Cheef eat the tough outside skin which clanks when banged against another fruit of its like.
But I digress . . . I was telling you what it was that attracted me back here night after night like a dumb moth to the burning red-flower, wasn’t I? Ah, well, quite simply it is because these two hoo-mans are the most interesting animals I’ve ever seen! And I’ve seen many species, migrating with my flock across land and sea as I do. I am well traveled, you know. But in all my travels I have never seen such creatures as these. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know fully well there are plenty of hoo-mans taking over our world like a swarm of red ants, but these two are so much more special than the others. These two hoo-mans are Blessed. Laugh you may, but it is true. I have seen the Holy Ones who walk with them.
There now, will you listen to what I say before you cause yourself to spontaneously molt with your laughter? Thank you. I know you do not believe me that these two awkward, simple animals could be so Blessed as to walk with the Spirits, but it is as I have said. The huge hulking black feline form of the Jaguar Spirit is never far from the big hoo-man named Jim. While the cunning Holy One of Wolves can often be seen bounding around Cheef’s slender legs. It is my guess that the only reason both hoo-mans are still alive, despite their frightening lack of life-training, is because the Holy Ones guard them against danger. After all, no self-respecting animal would dare attack a Blessed One whose Spirit is nearby.
Yet that is not the only reason I stay and watch them. Come, watch and listen with me for a while. You can see them there, through the win-doh. It’s alright, come. We’re safe. They can’t see us. Or if they do, they do not care. Come, and watch . . .
// “Hey, Chief? Toss me another beer, will you?” Jim lounged indolently against the back of the couch. He smiled innocently at his partner as Sandburg made dinner.
Blair turned and glared at lazy oaf blanketing the sofa, but obediently reached into the fridge to grab a beer. He threw it across the room with little worry of Jim not catching it. Blair himself had drilled his Sentinel relentlessly until the man’s hand-eye coordination was as heightened as the rest of his senses.
As expected, Ellison’s hand snaked out to catch the bottle before it sailed over his head and into the far wall. Jim let a little smile curl his lips. His Guide had a good arm, that was certain. He leaned back further into the cushions, turning his thoughts back to the news broadcast that he was supposed to be watching. Fresh beer in one hand, TV remote in the other, Ellison settling in for a relaxing night of channel surfing.
“Jim? Jim, man, come on. Snap to, Ellison!” The sharp words and light shaking of his shoulder woke the detective from a rather pleasant slumber. He cranked his neck to relieve the stiff muscles even as he took stock of the situation. Blair was already walking back toward the kitchen table, satisfied that his Sentinel hadn’t zoned in his sleep. It was then that Jim realized the wonderful odors teasing his olfactory senses were dinner, and he was still sitting on the couch while it got cold. He bolted up to his feet and hurried to join his partner.//
As the hoo-mans ate, it reminded me of my own hunger. So I decided to take a quick break to catch some insects. By the time I got back, several more of my kin had decided to join me for my nightly spying session. It seems that news of Blessed Ones spreads faster than I’d thought. Oh well, if we are quiet enough then hopefully the hoo-mans will not notice our attention.
The hoo-mans had long since finished their own meal, and were now sitting side by side on the comfortable-looking perch. From our own much harder perch outside, we could see them clearly. But shh! They are communicating again . . .
//”Jim? Do you ever wonder where you’ll be down the road? You know, like in twenty years or something?”
Blair’s question was asked with the epitome of calm, except for the slight jump in his heart rate which only a Sentinel could have heard. Luckily for Jim, (and unluckily for Sandburg, in this case), Ellison was one such. And it was the hitch in his heartbeat more so than his words which dragged the big man’s attention away from the television.
Pausing a moment to search his best friend’s face, Jim thought about the question and tried to formulate a response. He had to handle this carefully, he knew. Blair had been building up to something for the last few weeks, asking seemingly odd questions whenever they sat down together for more than five minutes. For some reason though, tonight’s question seemed more poignant, more important than any of the others. Like whatever his partner had been trying to figure out had now built to a crescendo, and this was the turning point. Jim just wished he had the slightest clue what Blair wanted to hear, then he might know what he was supposed to say.
“I dunno, Chief. I’ve never really thought about the future much. Hell, sometimes I can’t even be sure I’m going to have a future, what with all these psychos trying to kill us.” Jim tried a wan smile in hopes of ending the conversation -- or at least diverting it -- but it was to no avail. Blair was having none of it.
“I’m serious, Jim. Just supposing you do outlive every bad-ass who comes through Cascade, what do you think you’ll be doing when you’re too old to be a cop?”
Seeing the earnest blue-eyed gaze leveled at him, Jim tried to imagine himself at sixty years of age. He probably wouldn’t still be with the police force, since he doubted he’d ever be comfortable sitting behind a desk while others patrolled his city. But it was hard picturing himself doing anything else. Protecting his tribe was already an instinctive response for him, it didn’t seem likely that he would ever be able to give that up no matter how old he got. That is, as long as his senses stayed sharp. Old age had a tendency to dull the senses, didn’t it?
He had to suppress a shudder at that thought. For all that he’d complained about his heightened senses for the past four years, the very thought of being without them now was . . . alarming. Best not to think about it.
“I guess I’ll still be the Sentinel of the Great City, protecting my Guide and my tribe as best I can. As for the rest of it,” he shrugged, “well, we’ll figure it out together. Right?”
He looked hopefully at the one person who meant more to him than anything, and was heartened to see the smile spread on Blair’s face. Judging from that ecstatic grin and the now completely relaxed heartbeat, whatever Jim had said had been the right thing. Sandburg was positively beaming at him.
“Right, Jim. That’s right. Together. Always together.” Blair practically sighed the words in relief as he relaxed back into the cushions, unconsciously leaning into Jim’s warmth as he got more comfortable.
Ah, Jim thought. That’s what all this anxiety has been about. Blair was worrying about his place in Jim’s life far into the future. But he needn’t. The one thing which would always be crystal clear in Jim Ellison’s mind was that he’d always have his partner at his side, no matter where they ended up.//
There had been some tense moments for the hoo-mans while we watched. Evidently whatever they had discussed had been of some import. Even the Holy Ones had reacted to the tension. The Jaguar Spirit had prowled about the clearing as if searching for a threat, even as the Wolf Spirit had followed his feline counterpart’s progress with an intense stare.
But now we all breathe a sigh of relief, as it appears that the crisis moment had passed. The tall hoo-man had wrapped a featherless wing around his companions shoulder’s, even as Cheef slumped happily into his fellow hoo-man’s embrace. As we watched, the Jaguar Spirit carefully laid down beside the Wolf Spirit at the hoo-mans feet. It was quite remarkable, actually. To watch as the Jaguar Spirit seemed to wrap himself protectively around his smaller Spirit companion the same way that Jim did Cheef.
As you can see, my friends, these hoo-mans truly are fascinating creatures. I can see by the light in your eyes that many of you are thinking of beginning your own observations of this incredible pair. It is a pursuit to which I can attest to being very entertaining.
But speaking of entertaining -- what’s this? Something new is happening, my friends. I have been watching from this win-doh for many nights now, and I have never seen this. It’s incredible! I feel like the luckiest bird alive! Has anyone ever witnessed such a wonder before me? I can not know, but I feel that this must be a legend in the making.
As we watch from our stone perch, we see the Holy Ones stretch and yawn. Oddly, while many of my kin would normally be unable to hide a shiver of fear at such a display of teeth, not one of us feels fear from the Spirits or their strange hoo-mans. Whatever it is that makes these ones special, it must be benign. I feel nothing but safety in their presence. And I’m sure you do as well.
That sense of safety must come from the Jaguar Spirit and his hoo-man charge, as far I can tell. For both the Wolf Spirit and his hoo-man seem to react instinctively to snuggle up closer to them as each moves away. The sudden separation does not seem to be accepted well by either the Wolf Spirit or Cheef, for moments later we watched as they gracefully rise to stand beside their respective companions.
These actions are more extraordinary than you may be aware of, my fellows. In all the many nights that I have watched these hoo-mans, I could count on one wing’s flight feathers how many times I’ve seen the Holy Ones at the hoo-mans feet. Yet tonight alone, we have all seen the Spirits constantly by the side of their hoo-man charges. And now, even more notable, is the fact that it appears as if each motion of the Holy Ones is mimicked by the hoo-mans. Or vice-versa.
Those of us outside watching hold our breath and strain forward as the minutes pass and the two hoo-mans merely stand there looking at one another. Then the smaller one’s beak moves, but we cannot hear what is said. Not that we’d understand anyway, but we know it must have been meaningful from Jim’s softening expression. It’s frustrating not being able to understand the hoo-man’s language at moments like these. I can’t help thinking we’ve missed something important that deserved to be witnessed.
But no matter, there is no use worrying over stolen seeds when this spectacle is going on before us. Without even knowing what is happening, we are aware that it is special beyond any experience we may ever have the pleasure of having in our lives. The hoo-mans are walking away from us now, heading toward the rocky hill which slopes up to another clearing. Be calm, my friends. We can still watch, we must just move to a new vantage point. Come now, silently. Follow me.
We quickly fly up to the win-doh at the top of the tree, the one which looks down into the clearing Jim and Cheef are just now entering. Our view from here is nearly perfect, and we can see every move our favorite hoo-mans make. My eyes are fastened on the site of Jim’s wing gliding through the silky feathers adorning Cheef’s head. It is an action I have often performed for my own mate, a devoted suitor carefully preening his beloved. The sight of that naked, light-coloured wing against Cheef’s dark gleaming feathers is beautiful. It is an image I am sure to remember for the rest of my life. Perhaps I will even tell of it to my young next spring. . .
Ow! Hey, be careful! Hmpf! How rude. Why whatever could be so important that you would so distract me from my -- oh, my! Yes, I see. Thank you for bringing it to my attention, my friend. Look there, down by the end of large nest. You see it too, now? Incredible . . . I knew this night was special.
At the far end of the nest, a sleek black figure can be seen from the shadows. In moves matching those of the hoo-mans, the Jaguar Spirit stalks around the Wolf seated before him. For a moment, I feared that perhaps the larger Holy One would attack its companion, but it is only a transient thought. It is soon quite obvious that the only pouncing this Jaguar Spirit will be doing will be the welcome kind.
Awed to bear witness to this monumental occasion, we watch avidly as Cheef and the Wolf Spirit both take up the silent challenge offered to them. Cheef raises up on talons and wraps his wings around Jim’s neck in a sudden move which obviously startles the larger hoo-man. Likewise, the Wolf has lunged playfully to nuzzle the Jaguar with an equally surprising speed. Off-balanced though they may be, I must approve of the rapidness of both Jim’s and the Jaguar Spirit’s acceptance. Both immediately pounced on their prospective mates with a passion which caused the younger of our group to swoon.
In moments, it seemed, the two couples were off their feet and laying sprawled across the large nest. The Jaguar had pressed his smaller mate into the soft lining of the nest even as Jim achieved the same position with Cheef. We were astonished to see Jim fiercely rip Cheef’s feathers right off him, quickly followed by his own. It is only Cheef’s obvious pleasure at the act and the lack of response from his Holy One which keeps us from panicking. Apparently, this is acceptable behavior for mating hoo-mans. Though as I look around at my fellows, I can see that you are just as disturbed by the sight as I. Perhaps it is even better not to be a hoo-man than I had originally thought.
While I have been distracted observing my compatriots, Jim and his Spirit are busily licking and nipping at every inch of their respective mates they can reach. (And some you would think they couldn’t!) The Wolf Spirit is very vocally enjoying this attention. His howls of pleasure are enough to wake the hummingbirds from their deep sleep, I’m sure. At least Cheef is respectable enough to keep his keening cries low. Not that you’d ever hear him over the sound of growling and purring Jim and the Jaguar are emitting. I must admit to being a bit shocked. I’d had no idea either hoo-mans or Holy Ones were so . . . expressive . . . in their displays of affection. Perhaps on my next trip south to our breeding grounds in the Great Rain Forest I shall study the big cats more closely.
Or perhaps I shall just continue to study these hoo-mans and the Holy Ones who have bonded to them. I have a feeling that no animal will ever interest me as much as these two Blessed Ones. The seeming perfection of watching them mate is enriching for the soul, I find. Ooh, look! A particularly impressive movement done in tandem by Cheef and Wolf puts them on top of their larger mates, though neither Jim nor Jaguar seem to mind too much. They just continue to lick and nuzzle whichever part of their mates they can reach. But now Cheef and the Wolf Spirit are free to perform their own licking and nuzzling, and both are doing so with avarice! The sounds these four are making are becoming louder by the second, and I fear that this win-doh may not withstand the sonic pressure.
Incredibly, Cheef is sliding down his mate’s form to rest his face near Jim’s groin. And the Wolf Spirit is matching him move for move! By now, even the older birds are being affected by the scene below us. Though no one dares take our eyes off Cheef or the Wolf as they begin to lave their mate’s with their tongues, I can hear the sharp startled inhalations around me from my kin. If I were not so far beyond shock, I would probably react the same. I know of no bird who has ever tried such an act during mating, but if word of this gets out into the flock we may have some attempting it. The pleasure showing on the faces of both Jim and his Holy One is obvious.
Although, judging by the ferocity with which each reasserted their control, it would be my guess that the pleasure may be more than Jim or Jaguar can handle right now. Good thing neither Cheef nor Wolf seem to mind. They both appear exceedingly glad (and excited) to lay down for their mates. A fact which is not lost on either Jim or the Jaguar Spirit, it seems.
Somehow, despite Jim’s near-painful looking state of arousal (and my, but he is certainly large all over!), he manages to stretch and enter his mate slowly and carefully, so as not to hurt him too badly. Beside them, Jaguar is doing the same for his Wolf. I can only marvel at the level of love and trust that must exist between them for this to be accomplished. It brings tears to my eyes, and I move to hide my face in my feathers. But alas, it is undeniably apparent that each of us is so awed. There are many a wet feather indicative of that fact.
Turning our collective eyes back to the two couples engaged in a dance as old as the most ancient beings, we are proud to be here on this enchanted night when two souls come together in tandem with their bodies. Jim and Cheef are moving as one, the sounds and sights of pleasure and happiness coming from each enough to warm the darkest of hearts. A love, a union such as theirs cannot be looked upon and not be celebrated. Especially when it so beautifully resonates with their Holy Ones.
Seeing the joy reflecting throughout the clearing beneath us and the two hoo-mans within it, I can’t help but wish them the best of luck in their future. I shall continue to watch over my hoo-mans tonight as they sleep curled round one another. You’re welcome to join me, of course. For tonight, and any other nights to come.
And together, we shall remember Jim and Cheef’s story to tell the next generation. Perhaps one of our young will be lucky enough to witness another such pair in their lives.
Goodnight, my friends. Old and new, alike. Sleep now. I will stand watch over you all. None will disturb your peace while I guard you. That is my solemn promise.
Sleep, my precious hoo-mans. Tomorrow, I will find Kuni again and learn all I can of your language.
Sleep. I’m here. I’ll keep watch.
Sleep, and be happy.
As I will be for you.