Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. I am only keeping the fandom alive in our hearts
Acknowledgments: Thank you to Elaine my Beta
Blair sat in the truck with his hands clamped tightly to his ears; Jim knew how to drive the truck but he didn’t. Accessing the sentinel’s memories was slow, as if he were learning a new skill, and the sound of the grinding transmission still vibrated in his head, making it impossible to hook his consciousness up to the information he needed. The pain that had come with the sound surprised him. He chided himself as he attempted to turn down his sensory dials. He should have been prepared; he was a guide, he knew the stress that hyper senses caused to sentinels. But the reality of actually hearing, with living ears, instead of with his empathic mind, was quite different. He tried again to turn down his hearing, instead pin pricks of pain traveled over his body as all the nerves in his skin fired. He doubled his hand into a fist and pounded the steering wheel in frustration. A wave of pain traveled up his arm and into his shoulder causing him to grit his teeth against it. He looked over at the building, Jim would be coming out soon, he had to get away. There was no point in making it easy for the sentinel to follow him, so he grabbed the keys out of the ignition and ran.
Jim came to slowly and stretched out his arm only to find empty bed beside him.
“Chief,” he called. “It’s okay.”
He swung his feet out of bed and sat up looking for his pants. They weren’t where he thought he left them. He scowled and stood up; it wasn’t important now. The only thing that was important was calming his frightened guide. He could feel his guides fear vibrating through him in a way he had never felt it before.
“Chief,” he called again. “I’m not angry,” he said, as he made his way to the loft stairs. His eyes were behaving weirdly and everything beyond 3 feet was a blur of color. He tried to turn up his sight dial but nothing happened. “Over load,” he muttered to himself and walked down the stairs.
“Come out, Blair. I’m not going to punish you or send you back to River Island.” The living room was empty. “Just come out now, we’ll take a nice warm shower.” Jim tried to turn up his hearing, so he could listen for Blair’s heart beat, but that dial wasn’t working either.
“There’s nothing to be afraid of, Guide,” Jim call out as he looked into the exercise room under the stairs, it was empty. “I know it felt a little weird at the end, but Gibbs explained it to me. He called it rebound. It’s part of a strong bond.”
Jim made his way to the kitchen. He looked under the table and in the cupboard under the sink. There were only two more places the guide could be the coat closet was empty so Jim made his way to the bathroom. The obvious place to hide was in the shower, when that was empty Jim turned to the linen closet. But all that he found in there was towels and sheets. Jim scowled, “Blair, enough of this,” he yelled, brushing away a persistent tickle on the side of his face, only to have his fingers tangle in a thick layer of curly hair. “What the hell…” Jim turned to the mirror, leaning in to bring the image into focus. It was Blair’s face looking back at him.
Bile rose up in Jim’s throat. He grabbed the sink and leaned over as a wave of panic hit him. He turned on the cold water and splashed it on his face, pushing the panic away and making himself think. Suddenly he felt very naked; he decided the first order of business was to get dressed. When he got upstairs he opened his closet door and pulled a pair of jeans off the hanger, but when he pulled them on they didn’t fit. He swore, throwing the jeans to the floor as he realized he would have to wear Blair’s cloths. He walked around the bed, avoiding looking at himself in the mirror, and pulled a pair of sweat pants and a sweat shirt out of the drawer and slipped them on.
When he got back down stairs he checked the table by the door. His wallet, truck keys, and cell phone were gone. Blair must have taken them and left. Well he couldn’t go out and hunt for his guide, not if Blair had the truck. He would need help. There were only two people that he trusted enough to ask, Captain Banks and Gibbs.
Banks was closer but Jim couldn’t risk letting what had happened get out at the station, and no matter how quiet the Captain tried to keep it, the risk that his co-workers would find out was too great. They would think he was insane and that was not a risk Jim was willing to take. That left Gibbs. Jim went over to the phone and dialed.
The called ID told Gibbs that it was Jim calling. “Hey, Jim,” he said when he picked up the phone.
“I’m in trouble,” Jim blurted out before Gibbs could say anything else.
“Blair? What’s wrong? Is Jim hurt?”
“I need you Buddy, how fast can you get here?” Jim asked.
Gibbs’ gut churned, something was wrong. It was Blair’s voice he was hearing but the speech pattern was Jim’s; no guide would talk to a sentinel like that, especially one he wasn’t bound to.
“Your conditioning is broken,” Gibbs said; it was a statement not a question. “What’s going on Guide?”
“More then broken conditioning,” Jim told his friend. “How fast can you get here?”
“Give me an hour,” Gibbs said and hung up the phone.
“Grab your coat,” he said to Tony. “We’re going to Cascade.”
The drive to Cascade was ordinarily just under 2 hours; that is if you stuck to the speed limit. Gibbs didn’t. True to his word he was knocking at the loft door one hour after he hung up from the phone call.
Jim opened the door to the loft and let in Gibbs and Tony.
“Where’s Jim?” Gibbs asked before Blair’s body had a chance to close the door.
Jim exhaled and closed and locked the door before answering. “I am Jim; there was some kind of weird rebound when I claimed Blair. We switched bodies.”
“Cool,” Tony said. “Gibbs had a gut feeling…”
Gibbs whacked Tony on the back of the head causing the guide to stop in mid-sentence.
Jim glared at his friend. “You knew something like this could happen and you didn’t warn me?”
“I don’t know that anything has happened,” Gibbs said. “Do you really expect me to believe that you’ve switched bodies with your Sentinel?”
“I switched bodies with my Guide,” Jim corrected, “and now he’s gone. He took my wallet, my truck and my cell phone. We have to get him back Gibbs, we have to fix this.”
“If it can be fixed,” Tony muttered under his breath.
“Shut up Tony,” Gibbs said.
“What did he say?” Jim asked, squinting at Tony to bring him into focus.
“Are all you senses at human normal?” Gibbs asked.
“All except my eyesight. Blair needs glasses; I don’t know how he could function like this. He should have told me his eyesight was this bad.”
“He was conditioned not to ask for anything,” Tony said, “and Sentinels like to keep their guides at a disadvantage.”
Jim looked at Gibbs, “Why are you letting your Guide talk to me like that? Why are you letting him talk to me at all? We need to find Blair. You can have NCIS put a BOLO out on my truck.”
“Your truck’s still in the parking lot,” Gibbs said, deciding that the person in front of him was Jim even if the body wasn’t. “That means Blair’s on foot; by now he could be anywhere in the city. He’s never been on his own so he won’t know not to use your credit cards or cell phone. When he uses them we’ll find him.”