In Good Company

by Jane Davitt

Jim's panting heavily, smeared with mud and refuse, his jacket sleeve torn, exposing a shirt that was white when he put it on. His chest heaves as he struggles to his feet, swaying slightly. That last punch had to hurt; from where I am, too far back from the action, doing some panting of my own as I pump my legs faster, I can see the flush of red across his cheekbone and a matching trickle of scarlet blood from his nose.

He rises, steadies himself, and takes three long, fast strides. Carlson staggers under the unexpected weight of an icily implacable Ellison, majorly pissed off, if I know the signs, and I do, I really do, and a moment later, the slime's in cuffs being led away and Jim's watching him go, grimly satisfied.

I don't rush up to him; no need now. His profile's a clean line against the sunset, his chin raised slightly, and for a moment, gripped by an ache of lust and admiration and pride (because he's mine), I think I see the Sentinel, not the man; think I see at Jim's back the serried ranks of every Sentinel who's ever walked this world doing their own version of protect and serve.

Jim's standing alone in the alley now, but from where I'm looking, it's crowded in there, and I wonder:  if he turned to look at me, would he see a crowd at my back, too, my fellow shamans, my own tribe?

I'd look over my shoulder, but I can't take my eyes off him.

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