Of Apes and Anthropologists

By Lady Shadowphyre

Notes: Jim POV. Also set in the Sandhawk universe, this takes place directly after The Debt. Part one of two. Maybe next part I'll explain a little of what the deal is with Blair's past and why it's effecting his present this way.

He's finally asleep. Took him long enough, too, he's been lying there for almost an hour.

Okay, yes, I know that's not fair. The last couple of days have been rough on him, and if I'm honest I haven't helped much. I did agree to let him room with me and bring the monkey - excuse me, Barbary Ape, and yeah I know it wasn't my idea and I wasn't exactly thrilled about it - but then Sandburg and I are still getting used to each other. Christ, listen to me, I'm sounding like this is some kind of... permanent friendship instead of just a purely academic... thing. And that's his idea, too. I might have joked about courtship rituals but I'm not expecting that to actually happen.

So I know I'm not familiar with Sandburg. We haven't known each other or been around each other long enough for me to have picked up on all the kid's idiosyncrasies and commit them to memory-- and if you tell him I'm doing that, they'll never find the body. Not like it matters, since he's probably doing the same thing with me, but....

I'm stalling. I know I'm stalling. I'm trying not to think about what happened when we got back to the loft after leaving Earl and Ms. LaCroix. Trying not to think about the look on Sandburg's face when he walked in the door and got a good look at the room.

I don't get it. He wasn't even really angry, just... quiet. Commanding. He called Larry over to him and damned if that little beast didn't go right to him! Then he told me to call up Animal Control to the loft and I swear I almost saluted him. While I was giving Animal Control the all clear, Sandburg was still standing in that exact place and reading Larry a lecture on his parentage and genetic capabilities that sounded only half anthropological. Then he turned the Ape over to Animal Control without even blinking. And then he started cleaning up the loft.

I'm still not sure how he found it first. Hell, I'm the one with the heightened senses; you'd think I'd be the first to smell blood in my own loft. But somehow he zeroed in on the slight spill as if he had some kind of radar for it. It had made him hesitate, just for a moment, and then he was carefully picking up the glass shards around the spot and putting them in a salvaged take-out bag to throw away.

The thing is, Sandburg has barely said fifteen words since we walked in the door. And I know that we haven't known each other for very long but one thing I have picked up on is that Sandburg talks. A lot. And most of the time I bet it even makes sense, but hell if I can understand some of the things he spouts off about. This stoic silence is just... strange.

It didn't escape my notice that after dinner, which I cooked while he cleaned, and after he'd spent time on that laptop of his writing up what I can only assume is the paper he was keeping Larry around for, he packed up and was tucked onto the couch for the night. By ten. I thought for sure that would be the first rule to go; I do remember what the life of a grad student was like. But no, he surprised me tonight by being completely punctual.

And now he's been lying on the couch pretending to sleep for an hour and sixteen minutes. I glance at the clock. Correction. He's been pretending for an hour and five minutes but he's been asleep for the past half hour. I can hear him breathing, deep and even, and this faint, steady thump-thump... Good Lord, am I actually hearing Sandburg's HEARTBEAT? Sure sounds like it. It's steady, though. Rhythmic. Kind of soothing, actually. And now I feel stupid because what kind of freak is soothed by hearing his roommate's heartbeat?

What kind of freak indeed?

Sandburg would probably kick my ass if he heard that. Well, he'd try. For some reason, he's dead set on convincing me that I'm normal. Well, as normal as a guy with heightened senses and a tendency to get lost in those senses can be considered normal. But then finding someone with all five senses heightened, what he calls a 'Sentinel,' has been a dream for Sandburg for literally years. Faced with his dream made flesh, and believe me that idea makes me feel awkward as hell, one could expect the kid to be a little biased.

I snort softly and turn over onto my side in preparation for dropping off, myself. A quick auditory check around the loft, noting the foreign sound of another person sharing this space and dismiss it. I linger a little on that faint thump-thump, thump-thump, and then chide myself silently for it. No use getting accustomed to something - and someone - who won't be around for very long. With a slight yawn, I settle down and close my eyes. Today was no picnic for me, either, and I'm more than ready to sleep. Preferably with a nice soothing dream or two.

I wonder what Sandburg is dreaming of....

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