The Doctor is In: An Everyday Life IV
by Grey Bard
"I don't know how or when it started, Simon, but it's been happening for a while." Sandburg said to Captain Banks in the man's office. Things haven't really been right between us for a few months now."
Banks leaned back in his chair. He'd been afraid of this, had thought he'd picked up on it too, but hearing it from the expert made him uneasy all over again. " Don't you think you're exaggerating?" he asked, skeptically "You two seem to be getting along fine now...."
"You don't understand, " the anthropologist said, shaking his head," This is just the eye of the hurricane. I live with the guy, and things are not normal. He's 'fallen in love' twice, taken an unplanned trip without me, kicked me out, taken me back, kept me out of duty, brought me back into it, and dragged me into his family problems. Half of the time we're closer than ever, and the other half of the time he can't even seem to meet my eyes. This is not right. You know Jim, he's pretty stable; this just isn't like him."
Simon looked at the track that Sandburg's pacing was wearing into the office carpet. Damn, the kid was worried. "Okay, Professor, I'll bite, what's going on? Alex?"
Sandburg sighed, collapsing into one of the chairs in front of the police captain's desk. "I'm not sure," Blair said wearily, "but I think he's running from something." At Simon's incredulous look, he attempted to clarify. " No, no, not someone or something really; we both know he's stronger than that. It must be something that he knows or something inside himself. What can I do?"
Banks looked up into his friend's anxious face and a slow sly smile began to overtake him. Oooooh, yes. He thought he knew why this had begun to sound familiar.
"Hmmm. I think I know just the thing."
Dinner was over and the washing up had begun. Jim took a wet dish from his roommate and began drying it. " So you told Simon, and Simon's sending us to a shrink."
Blair dipped a glass into the soapy water and wiped, handing it to Jim. "Yeah, well, that's about the size of it."
The Sentinel dried the glass and stared at the ceiling as if praying for patience. "You can't be serious, Chief," he grumbled. "What are we going to say? 'Umm, well, sir, my superpowers sometimes freak me out, and he just got back from being dead?'"
"Don't blow this off, Jim," his Guide admonished, swirling around some silverware in the sink with practiced ease. " "It's not just that and we both know it. There's something wrong here. Don't you want to fix it?"
Ellison made an unintelligible noise and swiped both soapy silverware and washrag wiping them off impatiently before giving the rag back to his friend and drying the knives and forks. "Can we?" he asked.
"Hey, it could happen." Blair shrugged, reaching for more things to wash.
"All right," Jim sighed, "But if she makes me do the childhood trauma thing, you owe me lunch."
"If that's what it takes," his friend assured him, catching hold of a pot, " I swear that if she does the 'all the kids at school said I dressed funny' thing, I will personally spring for a Wonderburger biggie."
"And a milkshake too?" Jim asked in a mock little boy voice, his eyes round in simulated wonder.
"Yes, and a milkshake too" the Guide sighed in exasperation. "God, I sound just like my mother!"
"It's okay, Mom." Jim grinned.
"Stoppit, just stoppit!" Blair sputtered, flinging a small amount of soap foam at him. "I so do not want to think about the Freudian implications of that, okay?"
The 'shrink' turned out to be a rather nice, if overly clinical, woman in her late thirties who asked many questions and who sometimes had uncanny insights into their partnership. Blair had always sort of thought that the whole Sentinel /Guide thing was unique, but Dr. Ruhlsten treated the emotional implications of that partnership as if she dealt with them every day.
Muted sunlight trickled in through the blinds of the simply decorated office. Ruhlsten gazed over the tops of her non-prescription reading glasses with the air of finality that comes with already knowing all the answers from long experience. She took a deep breath, as if to regain her air of professional concern, and asked, "So, how long have you been together?"
"Ah, I don't know." Jim Ellison said, squinting like he was trying to read the information and it was engraved in the air about three inches above his eye level. "Three and a half years at the most, couldn't be more than that."
"It's been four now, Jim." Blair gently reminded his partner, smiling slightly.
"You're kidding?" Jim said warily, and blue eyes met blue as incredulity met knowing amusement.
"Trust me, I'd know." his friend reassured him. " The circumstances of our first meeting were memorable. For another thing, you had more hair then...."
"Yeah, well," the cop muttered in embarrassment, "You can more than make up for me in that department."
At this juncture, Dr. Ruhlsten cleared her throat conspicuously to attract the attention of her two patients to the fact that she was still in the room, and then picked up where she had left off. "Four years. And your problems began when?"
"About six months ago," the Sentinel admitted.
"Mmm hmm. That would be three and a half years ago, correct?" the shrink asked, not waiting for verification. "Let me guess, you started out not thinking it would last, but it just sort of kept on going without much thought being involved. And then one morning you wake up to find yourself domesticated. This is a common scenario. There aren't two lives going on anymore, just one being shared. There's a nice little hole cut out where you fit in and it's a little too cosy for comfort. Am I right, Jim?"
The Jim in question looked rather like a poleaxed ox for a second before gathering himself enough to reply. "Yeah, pretty much. How did you know?"
"Frankly," said the good doctor, "I would have been surprised if it didn't happen. You've never had much luck with commitments before, and all of a sudden you're in one and you don't remember anyone asking you if you wanted to be. It's not so much that you mind, but that you don't and you're not sure how it happened. You keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, not realizing that it won't unless you force it to with all your nervous fidgeting."
"I see." said the man heretofore emotionally blind on the subject.
"If that's all it is, then what can I do?" asked Blair worriedly, "Why am I not having this problem?"
Dr. Ruhlsten paused to remove and clean her glasses and then answered. "That's because you're a completely different person, Blair. You never stopped looking, so you always knew where you were and how you got there. You've had just enough experience with happiness to know what it is, but little enough not to worry about whether you're happy enough. You know you're where you belong, and in general it doesn't bother you in the least. Give Jim some time, but don't back off; let him get used to the idea that this is normal, that you aren't going anywhere."
She turned on the older of the two men, "Jim, just take it easy on the weekends doing things that you both like, and consciously enjoy it. Remind yourself of why you're together and why you love it. Just remember, as much as anyone can keep such promises, Blair isn't going anywhere and certainly doesn't intend to."
"Well, duh..." murmured the aforementioned immovable object.
Dr. Ruhlsten shook her head as if half in annoyance and stood up, opening the door. "Now get out, you two. Your relationship is disgustingly healthy, all things considered. Just follow my advice and don't be afraid to be happy. With any luck, I won't be seeing you for a long time."
As he was getting up to follow Jim on his way out, Blair favored the doctor with one of his famed flirting smiles. " Thanks for the advice, care to have dinner with me Friday?"
She gave him a look that Blair thought would've been more appropriate had he changed into a werewolf or something. "Of course not! The very idea of it! Members of my profession try to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem."
The psychology minor excused himself from her office and rushed to catch up with his roommate. "So, what do you think that was about?"
Jim smirked slightly. "I don't know, Chief, but it sounded like psychobabble for drop dead."
"Funny," Blair pondered, "I thought she liked me."
Jim Ellison was on the phone with his superior as he emptied out the remaining carton of leftover Chinese food onto the plate. "Yeah, it went great. No big deal. It was like she saw these problems all the time."
The plate of sweet and sour pork entered the microwave. "She's an expert? What do you mean? She picks cops' brains about their partnerships?"
A long quiet, and then an exclamation of amazement, confusion, denial and horror followed. "She's a what! Simon!"
The phone was hung up with a bang and the Sentinel stood for a moment in silence, before he wandered out into the living room, totally disregarding his lunch. He sat down next to his Guide, still wearing an expression of total shock. "You know Dr. Ruhlsten?" Jim asked.
"Not as well as I'd like to, but yeah." Blair said, looking up from his book in curiosity.
"Simon sent us to a marriage counselor."