Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Smarm

Burton Awards 2000 Nominee Burton Awards 2001 Nominee Burton Awards 2002 Nominee

Lest I let a month go by without writing anything, here is a short piece to (hopefully) warm your soul and satisfy your smarm quotient for the day. I hope you enjoy it.

The legend in this story is completely of my own creation and not meant to be factual.

Warnings: RSA alert! <g> (RSA = Random Smarm Attack)

Additional note: the majority of my stories are written as I listen to music (usually instrumental only), and I decided to begin listing the piece(s) that inspired my writing. I also think you might enjoy reading my stories a little more if you're able to read them with the music in the background. This piece was written while listening to the beautiful soundtrack from the movie Ever After -- a Cinderella Story, particularly the main theme as played in tracks 1, 3, 7, 11, 13, 16, and 21.

I Heard the Mountain Sing
by Robyn
March 1999

A gentle, cool alpine breeze tousles my loose hair around my shoulders as I sink my hands deeper into the flannel-lined pockets of my jacket and pull my arms closer to my body, suppressing a small shiver as it passes through me. Seated on the trunk of a fallen tree, I glance down at the empty cup perched on the granite slab beside me. I think about how I should return it to its proper spot in the backpack, but my hands balk at the thought of leaving their warm berth. I decide to leave the cup where it is, in case I decide to have another serving of coffee from the thermos.

Instead, I lift my eyes up, scanning from the small flattened area comprising this vista thousands of feet above sea level in the mountains north of Cascade -- today's Saturday morning hike destination. Fortunately, the trail to this place was wide enough to keep my acrophobia under control, and the vista large enough for me to sit comfortably on a log a good twenty feet from the edge. I'm glad the clearing is mostly surrounded by a thick stand of tall green fir trees behind me, providing some protection from the wind. The view meeting my eyes has definitely lived up to its reputation. Worth the three-hour walk, I decide. The crisp early spring air and intensely blue sky merge to bring the pristine natural panorama spreading before me into a sharp focus. The mountains across the gorge are even taller than this one, still capped with lingering snow. I'm not sure whether it's the thinner air at this high elevation, the cool temperature, the exertion of the hike, or the beautiful scenery, but I feel breathless.

My gaze pans further to the right, and a peaceful smile spreads across my face as I see the one with whom I share this fantastical view. Jim leans against the granite side of the mountain, a little closer to the edge than I am. A cup of coffee clasped in both hands, aromatic wisps of steam rise up toward his face, contrasting against the dark brown cloth of his field jacket. Pleasant feelings fill me as I note how content his expression is -- his strong jaw muscles completely relaxed, his mouth curved in a slight smile as his upturned face catches the sun's rays, his blue eyes... closed. The irony strikes me as softly amusing, and my grin widens a little. During the entire drive up to the base of the mountain, my partner regaled me with ardent declarations of how beautiful the view would be from this spot. And here he stands, with his eyes closed.

Then it hits me. For a moment, I had forgotten that my friend has not one heightened sense, but five. Perhaps he is listening. Smelling? Feeling? Tasting? What? These questions surpass mere curiosity. I mean, I've thought about what Jim was sensing a million times before, but usually my queries are of a factual nature. How many miles away can he really see? What are the suspects saying in their car a block down the street? How did he manage to pick up the faint perfume from where the victim sat? Abruptly, I realize that as a scientist, I sometimes let an obsession with the facts dull my sense of awe. I realize that I haven't pondered lately what it would be like to experience the things Jim senses every day.

Not that I would want to be a sentinel. That is Jim's destiny. His role. I'm just lucky to be along for the ride! Well, maybe it's more than that, I admit when my own sense of destiny chides me. Of course, the role of a sentinel is much more than having heightened senses -- it's about duty and protection, as I've learned since the unforgettable day I met the gifted man who would become my partner and friend.

Still, Jim's senses make him unique. I look down at the palms of my hands, wondering what it would be like to really feel things the way Jim does. Just for a moment...

I look back up at him. He's still leaning against the mountain with his eyes closed. What do you feel? I ask silently, almost timidly. I don't want to disturb his moment of peace, but my thoughts race on as the feeling of wonder builds higher within me.

What do you smell? ...

What do you taste? ...

"What do you hear?"

My thought transforms into an audible whisper, escaping before I can catch it. The question floats quietly in the air, lingering between us before dispersing, engulfed by the sheer enormity of the mountain's atmosphere. I hold my breath, hoping desperately that I haven't disturbed him.

Seconds pass slowly as I watch my friend anxiously for his reaction.

But Jim remains still.

His eyes stay closed, his face remains calm, his posture relaxed. More seconds pass, and I finally let myself relax as well. And then, just as I start to wonder whether he heard me speak at all...

... his blue eyes open. In a graceful movement, he turns toward me slowly. He smiles fondly at me, warming me inside in an instant, more than the sun's rays or the cup of coffee did in the minutes I've sat here.

Still saying nothing, Jim crosses the short distance between us and sits down beside me on the log. He places his hands on my shoulders from behind and gently turns me so I face away from him, looking directly out toward the mountains. His hands release their grip on my shoulders, and I feel him lean forward so his chest touches my back.

Then, I feel his large, warm hands reach up around me. I let my eyes fall closed as his hands gently cover my eyes and darkness falls around me, shutting out the gorgeous scenery surrounding us. Feelings of warmth and safety envelop me, and though I am curious about what he is doing, I don't question him. I hear his voice speaking softly, close to my ear.

"Listen," he whispers.

Willingly, I obey. The sound of an eagle calling as it soars high above us, the wind as it moves through the trees, Jim's quiet breathing next to my ear -- all these sounds distill into a level of clarity more acute than anything I've heard. A sense of rapture fills me as I realize I'm experiencing a tiny piece of something I've told Jim to do a million times before -- isolate one sense and allow it to fly. By covering my eyes, he's helping me -- guiding me -- to listen beyond what I normally hear. I wonder if he feels the same way when I'm helping him. My heart beats faster and I can't help but smile in exhilaration under his touch.

He continues to hold me silently, covering my eyes for several minutes, letting me listen.

Finally, he whispers again, "Keep your eyes closed, Chief."

I nod. His hands move away from my face and his right arm curls around and in front of me, covering and grasping my chilled right hand resting in my lap with his own larger, warmer one.

He slowly leans forward, extending our right arms and hands together, directing me to reach out and to my left. Still blind to what I'm reaching for, I eventually feel something cool, hard, and flat beneath my fingers -- granite.

"Feel," he whispers, and he carefully guides my tentative fingers along the surface of the rock, much like the time he helped me feel the side of his former partner's car. Only this time, I can feel... something. Strange roughened patterns I can't decipher pass under my fingertips. They are so faint, no wonder I didn't notice them before when I had my eyes open. What am I feeling? I wonder.

Jim must realize the patterns are a mystery to me. "Here. Feel again," he says. He moves our hands back to the beginning of the etchings, and this time he patiently helps me trace the symbols with one finger. Ah. I smile a little more widely, marveling as I begin to comprehend their meaning. A simply drawn picture takes shape as we touch it together -- it's a figure -- no, two figures, in the style of primitive stone etchings I've seen before at other sites sacred to the Native Americans who used to live in this area. Two people standing next to each other. The outline of a mountain is etched to the side of them. One of the figures is reaching out, touching the other person's face with his hand.

Now, we trace the last element of the engraved drawing together, feeling long wavy horizontal lines with curled ends flowing from the mountain to the two figures. I recognize the symbol as representing wind.

A small chuckle leaves my lips, evidence of my delight. I move, intending to turn around to face my friend, but just before I open my eyes, Jim squeezes my hand a little more tightly, making me pause. "Shhh," he says quietly. "Don't look yet."

Still holding my right hand in his, he touches my shoulder with his other hand, turning me back around in a slow, deliberate manner so I face him again, my eyes still closed.

I feel him bring my hand up toward him. My fingers touch his cheek gently as he holds my hand against his face. Just the tiniest hint of roughness is starting to appear where he shaved this morning, but otherwise his skin feels amazingly smooth.

The instant we make contact, the alpine breeze picks up, swirling into a cool wind that feels gentle and powerful as it envelops us where we sit on this mountain. I inhale deeply, experiencing the intimate caress of nature while sharing it with my best friend. I hear and feel Jim take a deep breath too, and he continues to hold my hand securely as we listen to the wind whistling up the gorge and through the evergreen forest surrounding us, generating an almost musical sound, feeling the zephyr embrace us. The sensation is beyond amazing... beyond words.

It's almost like a blessing.

We remain still for several long moments, reveling in the euphoria, not wanting it to end.

Finally, the wind stills, slowing gradually back to the gentle current that only ruffles the pine needles playfully.

Slowly, I open my eyes and notice that Jim is also opening his. We lower our hands from his face and I smile at him, gratitude and amazement written on my face. He smiles back at me, and I notice his eyes are sparkling.

"It sang for us, Chief," he says softly.

The questioning look in my eyes communicates my curiosity. I do not understand, but before I have to ask, Jim begins to explain.

"When I was ten years old, Bud brought me here, to this mountain. He used to take me hiking a lot." Jim pauses, and he looks away across the gorge to the beautiful mountain range on the other side. "He told me the legend of this mountain."

I look deeply at Jim, giving his hand a squeeze, encouraging him to go on. "Tell me."

He smiles, realizing it may be the one legend of these mountains I don't already know. "This mountain has an Indian name -- it means 'the mountain that sings.' The tribe that used to live here considered this mountain a special place. They believed that if two people came to this spot where we're sitting, and they were destined to be soul mates, the mountain would sing for them." He sighs. "I remember feeling the engraving on the rock when I was here as a kid, but I didn't realize until a couple weeks ago what the picture really represented. I don't think Bud knew about the etching."

He chuckles softly, but the tone of his voice changes slightly to sound almost wistful. "I remember asking him if I'd ever have a soul mate. He smiled and put his arm around my shoulder and said, 'Someday, you will, Chief.'"

Jim lowers his bright blue eyes. "A week later, he was dead. And for all those years afterwards, I thought he was only trying to make a lonely kid feel better."

My heart goes out to my friend as I empathize with him, feeling mixed emotions of sadness at Jim's lost childhood, of joy because I know there's a happy ending, of gratefulness because he's sharing something with me that he's held close to his own heart all these years.

Eventually, he looks up at me, and both our eyes are shining. He gives me an almost quirky, vulnerable smile, and I notice that the tough, protective shell he usually wears around his soul is gone.

My voice is husky when I murmur a quiet response. "He must've known the future, Jim."

Jim nods at me. "Yeah. I guess he did."

We sit together in introspective, comfortable silence for a bit. I think of our friendship, how our destinies have merged in a way deeper than anything either of us ever could have imagined, and how lucky I am to have found someone as special as Jim.

And I know he's thinking the same thing about me.

After a few moments, I reach out with my hand, covering one of his hands and guiding it up to my face. We close our eyes, and as he touches me, the mountain air whirls once more into a breathtaking symphony, crescendoing into a natural musical score that penetrates our souls and bonds us closer together.

For the rest of my life, I will remember this place... this day.

Here...

today...

... I heard the mountain sing.

~ The End ~