Senses And Slidability

"How about a condensed version for the scientifically impaired?"

Breaking off his explanation – which would have required not only knowledge of, but also a degree in physics – Quinn Mallory blinked at the man in front of him. Detective Jim Ellison was giving him a rather fierce glare; his partner (and lover, if what they'd slid into was any indication, considering they were both half-naked and playing tonsil hockey on their couch) Blair Sandburg just looked bemused.

"Basically," Wade took up where her boyfriend left off, "Quinn found a way to travel to alternate universes using a modified remote control – which we call a timer – and once we get to a new world, the timer starts counting down how long we have to stay before we can slide out. If we don't slide out when the timer hits zero, we're stuck on that world for another twenty-nine years."

"Whoa," Blair said, awed.

"And you expect us to just believe this crap?" Jim demanded.

"Jim, buddy, did you not see that blue swirling light we arrived in?" Rembrandt demanded.

Growling, Jim took a large swallow of his beer and declined to answer.

"So how much longer are you gonna be in our world?" Blair asked eagerly, obviously excited by the possibility of learning more about sliding.

Taking a quick look at the red numbers, Quinn said regretfully, "Less than five minutes."

"Damn!" Wade exclaimed, pouting.

"You wanted to stay here longer, Miss Welles?" Professor Arturo asked.

"Well, this world seems less dangerous than some of the others," Wade said pointedly. "And those two aren't freaking and accusing us of witchcraft and/or having us arrested or something." She gestured to Jim and Blair, who were discussing something in low undertones.

The two men's conversation ended, and Blair turned back to the sliders. "So you never have any idea how long you'll be staying or what world you'll end up in?" he asked quickly, obviously wanting to get as much information as possible before they had to leave.

Quinn shook his head. "No, and what with this new timer, we don't even know what part of California we'll end up in. The old one only had a mile radius in the middle of San Francisco; this one's is four hundred miles."

Exchanging a quick look with his partner, Blair said carefully, "Uh, this isn't California, guys."

"It isn't?" Wade asked, dread a cold knot in her stomach.

Blair shook his head. "You're in Cascade, Washington. State," he added for clarification.

The four friends exchanged startled looks.

"Oregon is still between Cali and Washington, right?" Quinn asked anxiously. "Almost three hundred miles of land between the two?"

Jim nodded.

Rembrandt groaned and held his head in his hands. "We don't even know what state we're gonna end up in now?" he demanded fretfully. "It was bad enough when it was same place, different dimension, now this? How do we know for sure that this is even the planet Earth?"

Pasting on a faked clueless expression, Blair asked, "Earth? What's that? This is the planet Vulcan."

Arturo chuckled. "I see Gene Rodenberry's Star Trek franchise is alive and well even here, eh?"

"You know it, man," Blair agreed.

Wade rolled her eyes. "So what, the radius is now eight hundred miles instead of four?" she asked.

"Apparently so," Quinn said dryly. "Damn." Checking the timer again, he waved the others over. "Less than sixty seconds, guys, we need to get ready."

"Hopefully this was just a fluke," Arturo said, taking his place at Quinn's side.

"I wouldn't bet on it, Prof," Remy returned sourly.

The four friends crowded around each other, Quinn keeping an eagle eye on the descending numbers.

"It was good to meet you," Blair told them, and Jim nodded. "You ever end up in Cascade again, look our counterparts up; hopefully they'll be as willing to help you as we are."

"And speaking of," Jim said, handing Wade a large bag which the four only now noticed he'd been fiddling with. "It's some food and water in case you end up somewhere inhospitable," he said gruffly at their thankful looks.

"Thank you for that," Quinn said sincerely. Pressing the button on the timer, a large blue vortex appeared over the couch. "We'll be sure and look you up if we're ever in town again," he shouted over the rushing wind.

Wade held the bag to her chest and jumped into the vortex, Arturo following on her heels. Remy gave a quick thanks and followed soon after. Quinn shot Jim and Blair a last smile at their gaping expressions, before stuffing the timer carefully into his jeans pocket and jumping after his friends. The wormhole closed behind him, leaving the room only slightly worse for wear than it had been before they arrived.

Jim and Blair stood slack-jawed in the middle of the room. A few pieces of paper on the floor and an air of general disarray gave mute testimony to the fact that yes, inter-dimensional travelers had just been in their home.

"I think Cascade should change its unofficial motto," Blair said suddenly.

"Unofficial motto?" Jim asked, off-kilter from the seeming non-sequitor.

"From 'The most dangerous city in America' to, 'The weirdest city in America,'" Blair joked, but seriously. "I mean, spirit guides, that whole thing with Oshun, Maggie's ghost, and now inter-dimensional travelers… What's next? Demons, vampires and witches, oh my?"

Groaning at the clichéd pun, Jim said, "I'm just glad they weren't here for very long. Otherwise we might have accidentally ended up 'sliding' out with them."

"We still could," Blair revealed, anticipation in his voice.

Jim turned toward his Guide, stunned. "What!?"

"I have a friend in San Francisco, Conrad Bennish. He's been studying the idea of inter-dimensional travel for quite a while…" Blair said eagerly, going almost immediately into lecture mode.

Jim just stared at his lover, thinking, No matter how much I love him, I'm not going world-hopping with him. I like my life, despite how zany, crazy, and unbelievable as it can be.

Ruefully, he admitted to himself, Actually, because of how zany, crazy, and unbelievable it can be. Because of Blair.