Batteries Not Included
I'm hiding next to Jim, helping him to remain grounded as he analyzes our surroundings, guiding him like I never have before. I have to admit it is strange but efficient and this whole thing has given me a new insight into how Jim's senses operate, one I couldn't even have dreamed of only a couple of days ago. Now I know exactly what he's seeing, hearing, smelling. It's almost as if his senses were mine and the truth is that being freed from the restrictions language had always imposed upon us is wonderful. This experience has also served to give me a new level of respect for my sentinel. It has enabled me to understand for the first time just what kind of input Jim has to filter out every moment of every day in a way that years of constant testing didn't allow me to even fathom. Now I know how hard he must struggle to keep from zoning, how painful sounds can really be, the level of concentration it takes for him to dial something down. It is enlightening --and I admit I'm having a hard time trying to keep myself from going into scientist mode-- but I have to keep reminding myself that that's not the primary objective of this link, that I'm not the only one who is 'linked' to Jim's senses now. I may be the one who's most closely connected, the one who is actually teamed up with him, but in a way we all are and the others are counting on us. This is a battle, lives are at stake and I can't afford to forget that... there will be time for experimentation later.
The other aspect of this thing that has been amazing has to do with the sudden realization of just how clumsy language really is when it comes to conveying meaning, not only because of its limited scope but also because of the time factor. If I were a linguist I'd be feeling extremely depressed by now. Through the link time is no longer an issue, we can literally communicate at the speed of thought, in full detail and our minds seem to be completely in sync, exchanging information about the situation even faster than we can register it... but somehow the link also feels painfully incomplete. We may have the senses, mind, coordination and mobility of a super organism but in an attempt to protect the ones we perceived as being weaker, the ones we felt had less to contribute to the actual battle, we crippled ourselves by basically leaving out our heart and our soul... or should that be our heart and our power unit?
The thing is that we linked eight minds when we should have linked all eleven of them. I know that now just as I know that particular problem is going to be corrected just as soon as this is over but still it was an obvious mistake. Even though the plan to take down this demon is pretty straight forward and was hatched long before the idea of establishing a link was even conceived, those absences could still prove to be fatal. We knew from the time the new Council was formed that we all had a purpose... and that included Dawn, Xander and Andrew. In an attempt to protect the ones we felt were less able to protect themselves, the ones we thought had the least to offer, we seriously limited ourselves as a unit. As we now stand we are an impressive fighting machine... with a big neon sign that reads 'batteries not included' and Willow will be limited to her own power when it comes to shipping that demon literally out of this world. We are still fairly sure that her power will be more than enough but I believe we would all have felt more comfortable if we knew she'd been given full access to the Key's mystical energy.
As far as Xander and Andrew go, their absences feel less obvious as far as the upcoming battle is concerned but they are not less important. It is not so much that their not being linked lessens our effectiveness as a whole in terms of the actual fighting but rather that it narrows our perspective and weakens our sense of purpose. It is hard to explain. In a sense it makes us feel almost as if we were a kite that had its line cut and was left totally adrift. Caleb described Xander as 'the one who sees' when he took out his eye... I'm not entirely sure that's an accurate description, even if it is not totally wrong either. He sees, that's true, but mostly he feels... as oddly enough does Andrew. I know both Buffy and Willow are still wondering how on Earth Andrew got to be part of the team and I really can't explain it either, but by now I don't think anyone can deny that he is one of us... the only problem is that I'm not sure he believes it himself.
I remember the hurt look in his eyes when he heard about the link... or rather when he realized that he wasn't going to be a part of it. At first he was all excited, talking about Vulcan mind melds and then he got quiet... really quiet. After that he kept looking at us with such longing that I didn't even know what to say to him. He always works so hard trying to please everyone that he almost becomes a nuisance... and unfortunately sometimes the others, mostly Buffy, Dawn and Xander, have a tendency to take their frustrations out on him. He is a safe target, he is gentle and he never even tries to defend himself ... besides he is still convinced he has something he must atone for, be it for what he did with his former friends, or for Jonathan's death, or even because he is painfully aware that Anya died protecting him. I feel Buffy's glare inside my mind and I realize that I've succeeded in actually making her feel guilty. That's one side effect of the link I'm yet to get used to, I send her a silent apology and try to shift my attention back to the task at hand but it's not really working. I'm too fascinated by everything I'm now seeing and experiencing, by this new level of understanding that has revealed a new world to me. It's like the way in which a sunset can reveal magnificent colors you never even knew were there.
I sense Spike's smirk in my mind at that analogy and I feel his comment that maybe I should cut it out before I start sounding like his former self and suddenly in my mind there's this image of William the Bloody (awful Victorian poet), I send a mind glare in his direction and that causes Methos to chuckle inside my head. Even now I can sense a camaraderie we hadn't shared before, one that is born out of an entirely new level of understanding. It is a wonderful feeling but it is also highly disturbing in a sense. There is a loss of individuality and a slight confusion due to the fact that old, familiar and basic concepts no longer seem to hold true. I'm struggling with the fact that I can no longer tell the difference between 'I' and 'we', concepts that are a cornerstone in how we perceive the world around us.
That is the part I still find somewhat disturbing but I guess that's to be expected after having lived my whole life alone in my own skin. I can almost hear Methos's amused 'you are thinking way too much' inside my head... and was that Willow who just had the nerve to tell me to quit my mind-babbling because it's giving her a headache?