Part 9: Touch and Go
Blair stood outside of Jim’s quarters, waiting for a reply. He’d been standing there for a while. Now he was getting worried. Jim had the day off and wanted to get started early. Jim wouldn’t have gone off to do something else. Maybe he started without Blair. Or maybe…a zone-out? What if he was having a zone-out? If that were the case, how would Blair get in there to help him? There were only a few people who could override security on someone’s quarters: the captain, the head of security, the station doctor… The doctor. He knew he couldn’t call either of the other two—Jim thought they were out to get him. But could he trust the doctor? He would have to. He only hoped Jim wouldn’t be mad at him for going behind his back—especially if there wasn’t anything wrong at all. He pressed the emergency button on the corridor’s communications system. “I need sickbay, please! I think there might be something wrong with Lieutenant Ellison. Can you check and see if he’s in his quarters?”
“Lieutenant Ellison is presently in his quarters. We’ll beam him directly to sickbay…”
“NO! Please! I can’t explain it, but could the doctor come here to check on him?”
A man’s voice suddenly came over the intercom. “My name’s Doctor Bashir. I’ll be right there.”
Bashir beamed into Ellison’s quarters and opened the door for the frantic caller. Strange. Someone had told him Ellison didn’t have any friends on the station—he was too cold and rigid one minute, too hot and angry the next. This harried person in the hall didn’t look anything like what he figured the stolid, military Ellison would pick for a friend. But who was he to judge? He had a few odd friends and acquaintances of his own.
The two of them rushed around, looking for Jim. Blair found him curled up in a ball in his bedroom. His clothes were torn, as if he’d tried to rip them off. Blair touched Jim’s arm. No response. He started talking to him in a quiet, soothing voice, urging him to wake up.
Dr. Bashir ran a tricorder over the lieutenant. His vital signs were weak, but the tricorder could pick up no evidence of injury or disease. What was wrong with this man? He shouldn’t be in a catatonic state unless he’d suffered some severe emotional or psychological trauma. Had the captain been right? Could this man be unstable? Just then, the readings began to change. Ellison’s life signs were mysteriously getting stronger. A mystified Bashir stared at the officer who was now opening his eyes.
Blair let loose a huge sigh of relief. “Jim? Jim, are you ok?”
Jim looked up to see Sandburg’s face creased with worry. This was getting to be a bad habit. “What happened?”
In his worry for Jim, Blair completely forgot the doctor was right behind him. “You zoned again, man. Can you tell me what set it off? Maybe we can work on filtering it out so it doesn’t happen again.”
“It was so strange. I started to feel itchy all over. I thought maybe something was wrong with my clothes. I changed into something more comfortable, but it didn’t help. I’ve had this shirt for years, Sandburg. It’s one of my favorites. But today it felt like it was made out of shards of glass, each piece scraping my skin. I think I kind of lost it then and tried to rip the clothes off. That’s the last thing I remember.”
Blair just stared at him. Touch, too? FIVE SENSES! Blair couldn’t help the huge grin that stretched from ear to ear. “The holy grail, man! The holy grail!”
“What are you babbling about?”
“I’ll tell you later.” He cast a sideways glance at the doctor.
Bashir noticed he had now become the object of their scrutiny. “I want some answers, ones that make sense. Your vital signs were weak then suddenly they were strong again. Just from this man talking to you? What’s going on here?”
Jim was still pale, but quickly regaining his composure. He looked at Blair. What was the doctor doing here?
Blair started talking fast. “Well Jim has these really weird allergic reactions and he must’ve eaten or drunk something he wasn’t supposed to.” He turned to Jim. “How many times do I have to tell you not to drink Cardassian ale? Do you know what they put in that stuff? The acid content alone will…”
“Nice try. But I am the Chief Medical Officer here on the station. I have access to the lieutenant’s medical files. He doesn’t have any allergies.”
“They’re relatively new. Been creeping up on him lately.”
Bashir looked at the two of them. Ellison looked resigned, as if something dreadful he’d been waiting for had finally arrived. The other man looked on the verge of panic. He made a decision. “Look, I’m not supposed to tell you this, but you’re going to be ordered to sickbay today for a special set of scans. The captain wants to see if you’re genetically enhanced. I think there’s something else going on here. I want to help you, but I can’t do that if you’re going to lie to me. You don’t have any reason to trust me, but I really do want to help.”
Blair knew Jim wasn’t going to say anything. Well, Blair would have to then. Jim could just kill him later. “Jim will pass any test you give him. Because he’s not…”
“…enhanced. At least not in the way you mean.”
Blair looked helplessly at Jim. “Look. This test has you worried. It shouldn’t. You’ll pass. Keeping your abilities a complete secret is just working against you. If you told the captain, Odo, the doctor, and maybe a handful of trusted officers on the station, they’d find a way to help you. As long as they think you’re crazy or an illegally altered human, they’re going to be looking over your shoulder and trying to get you kicked out of Starfleet. You want to stay in Starfleet, don’t you?” Blair shook his head ruefully. “I can’t believe I’m trying to help someone stay in Starfleet.”
Jim got up to pace the room. He let out a long-held breath. “I don’t like the idea of being some sideshow freak. Then they’re going to want to run a lot of tests on me. I don’t want to end up a lab specimen, either.”
“It won’t come to that. I won’t let it come to that. If they try anything like that, I’ll…I’ll…get a hold of every Uni-Spiritist I can find and we’ll protest at every station and even Starfleet Headquarters itself. We’ll make such a stink the whole universe will know what happened. You haven’t seen a good protest rally until you’ve seen it done Uni-Spiritist style.” What had he done? He’d just made what could be a long-term commitment to Jim. Sure he’d planned to help him and learn from him at the same time, but he didn’t figure on getting so deeply involved. His whole life, he’d moved from one place to another, never making strong ties. It was easier that way. Now he’d officially declared his intention to go the distance to help Jim. Jim looked like he’d been slapped. Hadn’t anyone ever gone out of his way for Jim before? Jim quickly recovered, the stern face back in place. But Blair could tell from his eyes that he was struggling between gratitude and fear. They were going to make an odd pair.
Jim didn’t know what to say for several moments. Had Sandburg just said he was going to stick around? Jim had assumed the kid was helping him so they could find the assassin and so Blair could study him at the same time. He figured the young xenopologist would take off soon after. Why would he want to stay? “Alright, Sandburg. If you’re so confident I’ll pass the scans, you tell him. It’s your theory.”
A small smile tugged at the corner of Bashir’s mouth. These two were going to make things very interesting around the station.
Doctor Bashir listened incredulously as Blair told him about the ancient sentinels and their abilities. “You know you’re going to have to prove this to me—the captain and Odo, as well.”
Blair nodded. “That’s a given. But here’s the deal. Jim could be an asset to Starfleet once he learns to control this. When, and I do mean when, he passes the scans and proves his abilities, Jim is in control of how his training progresses as long as it doesn’t interfere with his duties. That way he won’t end up doing a lot of unnecessary tests he hates or performing stupid parlor tricks for visiting dignitaries.”
Jim spoke up, a masochistic idea spurring him on. “And Sandburg is in charge of the tests.” Now was Sandburg’s chance. He could say no and go back to his own life instead of Jim’s screwed up one. A part of him hoped Sandburg would agree. For some strange reason, Jim felt comfortable around him. It was like his senses weren’t quite so out of control when he was around. Just Sandburg’s presence took the edge off.
Blair gave Jim a strange look then turned to Bashir. “Yeah, that too.” Jim was stuck with him now.
“I may be the CMO on the station, but I don’t have the authority to make those concessions. But prove to me what you say is true, and I’ll back you 100%.” Anything that was in his power to help give the lieutenant a chance, Bashir was willing to do. He’d been agonizing over a solution. He only hoped this man before him really knew what he was talking about.
“That’s all we can expect.” Blair and Jim then proceeded to stupefy the good doctor with Jim’s amazing abilities.