Blair sighed as he tied the bandanna around his throat once more. It had been a year since he’d been turned into a Merrow – a merman without fins – and every day was still a challenge.
It wasn’t so much the sleeping in a water tank or the having to wear and periodically wet a bandanna around his gills just so he could breathe and function out of water. No, he was used to all that by now.
No, what was the challenge was two-fold. Firstly, Blair had started to notice that things were --- different --- underneath the water. All of a sudden, he could hear things and see things and smell things and feel things and taste things he should not be able to.
On land, that was not the case. On land, he was a normal human being – well, as normal as one could get with gills. But under the water…
If he didn’t know better, he could swear that he was as much a Sentinel under the waves as he was a Shaman above them.
Good thing he knew better.
The other problem was, Blair was lonely. For all Jim’s ‘table leg’ jokes, Blair hadn’t had any resemblance of a relationship since he’d become a Merrow. He’d even welcome a female friend right about now.
Especially underwater. Especially there – that was where the loneliness was most acute. There, he was terribly aware that he was the ONLY merrow around.
That there was nobody like him.
She sighed as she tied the scarf around her throat. Sleeping in a tank didn’t bother her, nor did the periodic wetting of her multicoloured scarves so she could live on land.
She looked in the mirror and sighed again. No, what was bothering her was the loneliness.
Back in Australia, she’d had a bevy of friends. Above and below the waves, they were inseparable.
But now her job had taken her to Cascade, where she was the only Merrow. The only mermaid without fins.
There were moments where Megan Connor knew she was going to go mad from the isolation.
“Have I mentioned how much I hate stakeouts?” Blair asked, leaning back against the seat.
“Only a million times, Chief,” Jim chuckled. Then he sobered slightly. “Did you bring enough canteens?”
“Enough to wet my bandanna and give myself plenty of air all night if I have to,” Blair assured him.
Jim tilted his head and regarded his partner with such scrutiny that Blair actually squirmed. “What?” he finally asked.
“It’s almost like being an alien, isn’t it?” Jim asked softly. “You have to have your own supply of water with you all the time – just to breathe.”
Blair smiled at him. “It’s not that bad, Jim. I can still go up to four hours without the bandanna. It’s just hard to and this is much easier. Thank you for this, by the by. Now I know I can live a normal life. Even with gills.” The smile was genuine.
Seeing that, Jim relaxed. “All right. You know if anything weirder happens, you can talk to me, right?”
Blair nodded. He wasn’t quite ready to tell Jim about the strange things that were happening with his senses when he was underwater. It wasn’t time yet.
Jim suddenly stiffened. “Call it in, Chief. Our target’s on the move!”
As he reached for the radio to report what Jim was seeing and hearing, Blair sent up a silent prayer of thanksgiving that this stakeout was finally coming to an end.
After a discouraging night, the partners returned home. Blair dropped his backpack behind the couch and growled, “I don’t believe him for an instant!”
“Me either,” Jim snarled. “Seems a bit too convenient that our star witness against Jefferson suddenly has amnesia.”
“Very selective amnesia as well,” Blair groused. “He remembers everything else, but nothing about Jefferson. Too damned convenient.”
“I’m going to pay him a visit tomorrow,” Jim sighed as he locked the doors. “I’m too tired tonight.”
“Tomorrow afternoon, if you don’t mind,” Blair said as he entered his room and began to untie his shoes. “I need at least ten hours sleep.”
“Make it twelve and you’ve got a deal,” Jim sighed as he weaved his way toward the stairs.
Blair pulled his outer clothing off and tumbled into the tank. He didn’t even register he did what he did next.
Now that his senses hyped up – since he was in the water – Blair stretched out his hearing and locked onto Jim’s heartbeat. Finding it strong and steady in sleep, he did a mental triangulation.
Realising Jim was square in the centre of his bed, Blair smiled and rolled over onto his side, falling asleep in seconds.
All was well with the Merrow’s world again.
Blair retied his bandanna and watched Jim interrogate the man who had developed selective amnesia against Jefferson. It was frustrating to say the least.
The man had been gotten to. He’d obviously been threatened.
Blair felt a touch on his shoulder. He turned and smiled at Megan, playfully tugging on the front tie of her scarf and dismissing the dampness as his own nervousness. “What’s up?”
“That was my question,” she said, jerking her head toward the interrogation. “How is it going?”
“Well, he’s been threatened.” Blair sighed. “I wish I was in there, too – that way Jim wouldn’t be in there intimidating and frightening the guy.”
Megan grinned. “I’ll bet you anything that he’ll call you in to help.”
Blair returned the grin. “You think so?”
“You think he won’t?”
Blair chuckled. “What’s the stakes?”
“Loser buys the winner a seafood dinner.”
Blair nodded. “You’re on. It’s a bet.” They shook on it.
Fifteen minutes later, Jim called, “Blair, come in here – see if you can’t get this canary to sing!”
Megan grinned at Blair’s retreating back. “Pick me up at eight.”
Blair smiled at his dining partner as he sipped his water. “Well, while we were talking, we got what we needed.”
“Excellent!” Megan smiled as she sipped her own water and they waited for their food to arrive. “I knew you could do it. Jim doesn’t give you enough credit.”
Blair’s head tilted as he regarded her. “You think so?”
“I know so. You’re a good man, you’re good at anything you put your mind to, you’re holding down two jobs successfully -----“
He held up his hand. “Stop, you’re making me sound like Superman.”
Her nose wrinkled. “I never cared much for Superman.”
“No. Always preferred Aquaman to him.” She sipped her water again. “And I call them like I see them.”
He smiled. “So do I. And I see someone who reminds me of Wonder Woman.”
“What?” she coughed.
When she was through with her little fit, he chuckled. “Yeah. First time we ever met you, you dispatched several bad guys – wearing that horrible fox-collared coat!”
Megan laughed. “Circumstances warranted it. Both the fight and the coat.”
“Jim and I both knew there was something special about you the moment we saw you.”
“Oh?” she challenged, heart pounding irrationally.
Blair nodded and smiled at the waitress as she delivered their calamari appetizer. As the woman moved off, he finished, “It takes balls to fit in with us. There’s been women that have tried and tried – and you didn’t try. You just came in and were yourself. And we admire you for it.”
The waitress served the calamari and walked away, smiling as the man and woman talked. She knew detective Connors – she knew she was a wonderful woman and a fine detective.
And she wouldn’t mind getting to know Detective Connor’s date better as well…
When Detective Connor headed to the ladies’ room, she decided to follow. She figured she could ask her some questions about her date, maybe see if they were serious…
Strangely, the door to the ladies’ room was locked.
She frowned and pulled out her key. She opened the door and walked in – only to stop short in the doorway and gape.
Detective Connor whirled to face her, snarling at her to get out!
She didn’t need to be told twice. Opening the door, she ran as fast as her legs could take her. Out of the restroom, out of the restaurant altogether, down the street – crying and shaking with fear.
She’d seen Detective Connor wetting her scarf in the sink. She’d seen the six gill slits on the back of her neck opening and closing, drinking the water greedily from the long red hair that half-hid them.
What in Heaven’s name was she??
Once more, he sought refuge in the polluted waters of Cascade Bay. The pollution was not so bad that it reached the bottom, so that was where Blair took refuge. Once more he felt the strange expansion of his five senses.
This is absolutely bizarre, he thought. It's almost as if – as if I've become the Sentinel of the Water!
Cold chills washed over him as he let that sink in. If I am a water-based Sentinel... I'm at risk of Zones. With no Guide.... He wrapped his arms around himself and shuddered.
With no Guide, I could go into a Zone... and never come out of it. He swam to a small hollow and vomited. I'll die... I'll die without a Guide... and I'm the only Merrow that exists!
She had just slid into the Bay when one of her animal friends streaked by, mentally ranting about the man who lost his lunch.
Confused, and wondering what he meant, she headed in the direction the fish had come from.
She was startled to find the sick man wasn't on the surface, vomiting down into the water. No, rather, he was on the bottom, on his knees, holding himself and dry-heaving.
Swimming over, she called, Hey! Hey, are you all right? What's the matter?
His head snapped up at her first word. The motion blew his ponytail to the side and she clearly saw the six gill slits that marked him as a fellow Merrow.
But then, he whirled to face her and she felt her jaw drop and perfectly mimic his stunned stare of recognition. Blair? she gasped.
Oh, heavens – Megan?
Blair, she repeated, her telepathic voice soft and shocky. What...how?
Blair stared at her, his eyes huge. Gently, a hand reached out, fingers caressing her cheek. Oh, merciful heavens – you're real! I'm not dreaming this....
Megan frowned. Of course you're not dreaming it – and of course I'm real! Blair – what are you doing here? I thought I was the only Merrow in Cascade!
And I thought I was the only Merrow – anywhere! Blair gasped. There are others like you and me?
Yes, of course – colonies of us, all over the world! Reading his expression, Megan frowned. You thought you were a freak, didn't you? You thought you were unique?
Blair slowly licked his lips. Megan – I still might be unique.
Tiny hands planted on slender hips. Okay. Now this I gotta hear.
Megan watched Blair push his food around on the plate. "You have not eaten at all."
"I'm sorry. I'm a little...rattled."
"You've told me a fantastic story. But I've seen so much proof of it." She smiled warmly. "And we're two of a kind! I was so worried I was the only Merrow in Cascade..."
Blair smiled shakily. "I can relate. I thought I was going to go mad. If Jim hadn't..." The smile and his voice both faltered. "..Jim."
Megan stood up. "Come on." She threw some bills onto the table and held out a hand. At Blair's expression, she smiled gently. "You're hurtin'. Let's go somewhere a little... wetter... and talk."
Rising gracefully to his feet, Blair took her hand.
Once they were back in Cascade Bay, Megan asked, Why do you maintain you still might be unique?
His answer, when it came after a long pause, startled her.
Because in the water... I'm like Jim.
Megan blinked at him. Say that again.
Though the pair was far underwater, Blair's lips suddenly felt dry. Licking them unconsciously, he repeated, In the water. I'm like Jim.
You're like Jim.
Megan circled him, looking Blair over with a scrutiny that threatened to make him squirm. Well, she said at long last, You're no taller. You're still scrawny. And you've got a hell of a lot more hair...
Blair shoved his hand forward, and the resulting current rocked Megan and made her mentally laugh. Idiot, he shot back good-naturedly.
Thank you, she shot back, equally as friendly. So I'm assuming you're referring to the enhanced senses.
All five intact, Blair sighed. And G-d forbid I ever zone out... I don't have a Guide and there's a pretty good chance that if I ever Zone, I won't be coming out of it.
Megan's head tilted. Is that why you were throwin' your cookies earlier?
Blair nodded glumly. He sank cross-legged to the floor of the bay and let out a sigh that caused bubbles to fly all around his head. Any Guide would have to be a Merrow as well – he'd have to know already how to pull someone out of a Zone, because I sure as hell couldn't teach him...
As he continued to list the shortcomings of having no Guide, Megan floated down to sit beside him. Hey. Sandy. Relax.
He looked incredulously at her. What? Megan, I can't relax! If I use these gifts and I Zone--
You won't die. You'll be just fine.
He waved his arms in frustration. Have you not heard a word I've said? I. Have. No. Guide.
Yes, you do.
Blair's arms dropped. He looked at her, incredulity slowly melting into puzzlement. I... do?
She threw back her head and laughed, bubbles exploding from her gills. Me, you thick head! I'm your Guide!
Blair stared at her, and felt something 'click' into his soul at her pronouncement. Oh, heavens, he whispered. You are.
So, Sandy, Megan grinned, putting a grounding hand on his shoulder. Use those senses.
With a smile of joy that shone from his very core – Blair did.
Hours later, as both Merrows were drying off and fixing their wet bandanna and scarf so they could breathe, Blair's hands stilled. "Megan?"
"How in the world are we gonna break this to Jim?"
Returning to Prospect, they found Jim pacing the Loft. One look at him and Blair realised they didn't have to worry about breaking it to Jim.
On some subconscious level, the Sentinel already knew.
"What happened to you?" Jim snarled. "You've been gone for hours..."
"I ran into Megan, here," who waggled her fingers at Jim as she passed him en route to the refrigerator and the beers within, "...and we swam awhile."
Jim let out a growl and toppled onto the couch. "It's like before," he growled, eyes boring into Blair's. "This is the exact same feeling as when psycho-bitch was here."
Blair sat on the coffee table facing him. "Like there's a second Sentinel on your territory."
"And you're worried he'll take Sandy away like she tried, right?" At Jim's reluctant nod, Megan smiled. "Well, Jimbo, I can honestly tell ya this Sentinel's no threat to you and he ain'tgonna take Sandy away."
Snarling, Jim rounded on her. "And you're so confident of this – how?"
"Because I'm the other Sentinel you're sensing," Blair answered.
Jim's eyes widened. He slowly turned back around to face Blair, who calmly met his eyes. "....Chief?"
Blair shrugged. "Don't worry, Jim. It's only underwater. You are the Sentinel of the Great City. Apparently my territory is the waters surrounding it. They do not overlap, since I only have my senses underwater – where I can survive and you can't."
With every word – every affirmation of Jim's dominance and Blair's sincere desire to not muscle in -- Jim found himself relaxing.
When Blair fell silent, the tension had been replaced by hurt. "And you chose not to inform me – why?"
A sheepish smile crossed Blair's face, though at that moment all he wanted to do was cheer because Jim had successfully controlled an instinctual, fear-based response. In reply to Jim's question, he spread his hands. "I only discovered all the nuances earlier this afternoon. First chance we've had to come home."
Jim nodded, accepting that. Then worry reared up in his eyes. "If you're a Sentinel in the water...."
Megan stepped forward. "Already covered, Jimbo." She removed her scarf, held her breath, turned around and lifted her hair. Smiling at Jim's hiss of shock on seeing her gill slits, she turned back around and re-tied her wet scarf. Drawing in a breath, she finished, "Merrow, born and bred. Trained under Sandy to be a Guide, remember? Now – in the water – I'm his Guide."
Looking from one to the other, Jim's knees slowly buckled, sending him sitting with a gentle thump back onto the couch.
"Jim?" Blair asked nervously.
"Well...." Jim took a deep breath. "Well. Things are certainly going to be ... interesting... around here now."
Return to The Sentinel fanfiction page
Return to The Realm