Disclaimer: The Sentinel is a Pet Fly production, no copyright infringement intended.

Author's Notes: Another experiment in style. Comments and constructive criticism welcome. Flames will be used to light aromatherapy candles.

Point of Triangulation



He is drawn to her from the beginning. Puzzling. Change is irritating. He prefers the familiar, well-worn grooves of life that fit neatly within routine. A comforting repetition of what was, what is, what will be. She is new, and the struggle begins. So much to learn. Pattern recognition, and she is a piece of his jigsaw that does not yet fit. Her voice intrudes, interrupts. Turning to speak to Sandburg he is shocked to find her there, at his other side, and the sunlight in her hair blinds him. Her scent lingers and he must separate the layers of perfume, foundation, hairspray, and herownself, to identify.

There is no history between them, and that makes it hard to speak to her beyond the job. Words are not easy for him, and all too often misunderstood, and others take offense where none was meant. And most worryingly, she is another pair of eyes, watching him for mistakes that he is so desperately afraid that she might see, and know him for what he is.

And yet he is attracted. The familiar again. He has a fondness for redheads, and forensic chiefs, and she is both. He knows her now, enough that the first shock of strangeness has worn off. She is being mapped and tagged, threads of information tying her into the fabric of his life. Inevitable. Better to keep her at one remove, other people are undependable, mutable, fallible, changeable. She will become familiar to him, the sharp edges and shine worn off, will fit neatly into the pattern of his days and then change will come. Events will occur that prove him wrong in all that he has labeled her, or will show him that he is not the man he hopes himself to be. She will die. She will leave. There will be another hole in his world that cannot be repaired. There will only be the echo of memory, and another new person to learn, who will take her place, will never replace her.

This is change. This is the risk of new people. For it has happened, therefore it will happen again.

And yet there is attraction, bringing her closer still. There is the fox-red hair that tumbles over her shoulders, if he is careful it will feel like silken threads in his hands. There is skin like pale rose petals, and bright intelligent eyes. There are hips and breasts that speak to something older than the sentinel within. And there is something to be admired about her bravery, her conviction in her belief though she is proven wrong.

It is not meant to be. A small humiliation, like many suffered before, and then there is male bonding with Sandburg, against her, also familiar, a rite of passage, two against one and it is sweet; to be one of the two, instead of the one.

Strange attraction. She is known now, an identified quantity, could be allowed to drift on the edges like so many others in the concentric rings of daily life, like Serena, like Beverly, drifting into contact when forced by the current of events. Instead, he finds himself seeking her out. Adding more facets and dimension. She studied cryptography and interior decoration. She had been shot and survived, not allowing the experience to deter her from forging ahead when she believed that she alone was on the right track.

Quiet coffees in the breakroom. Nights in the lab waiting for a report to print out to be signed in triplicate and filed away. Times he could have avoided her and didn't, times he actively sought her out.

Epiphany. It is one of these times, when he learns the truth. It is after a long case, a killer has been captured, a night waiting for the last of the reports to print, and the carefully constructed lie that covered the evidence-gathering to be tested by her review. He hears the hitch in her breathing begin, her lungs flutter in her chest like the wings of a trapped bird, and her face sets in weary resignation. He holds her hand as she brings the inhaler to her lips.

He will never tell her but alone among those that surround him, she would understand. Surrounded by a thousand invisible poisons that no one else would notice, her body reacts, betraying her. She fights it, forcing the flesh to a semblance of normalcy by an act of will, as she struggles to draw air. Her asthma is the faintest shadow of his senses, but he believes she would begin to understand.

And he sits at her side, helpless, unable to offer anything but support, to dig in her purse for her inhaler, and hold her hand. That is the barest shadow of being a guide, but he begins to understand Sandburg, trying to free him from a zone.

Cassie. This is the point of triangulation, of introspection, of reflection.

~ End ~

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Page last updated 8/15/03.