Spoilers: none, Just the sequel to my story "Blair Zone"
Special thanks to my beta reader, the 'D-Man', for taking time out of his busy schedule to beta this monster for me!!
Summary: Jim and Blair try to come to terms with Blair's emerging new ability.
Note: "//" indicates character's thoughts
Blair Zone II--"Overload"
Blair slowly trudged up the stairs leading to his loft apartment he shared with his roommate Jim at 852 Prospect. The elevator was out once again (as usual) so hence he had been forced to take the stairs. Which ordinarily wouldn't have been such a problem for this usual peppy anthropologist, but given the raging migraine he was currently battling, he might as well have climbed Mt. Everest. Blair knew what had prompted this current headache's untimely appearance. There had been a staff meeting at Rainer University where he worked part-time as a teaching fellow, while he worked on his dissertation involving sentinels. The meeting had run late because of an argument between two professors involving Blair. Professor Ackley had wanted the young man to help assist him with a special project, which would have severely cut into the already sparse spare time Blair had. This inferiorated Professor Cummings who had already snagged Blair to help him get things set up for a Peruvian art festival to be held within a week.
The two professors had begun to argue back and forth, neither of them thinking to ask the young man in question what he'd prefer to do. But that was the life of a lowly teaching fellow, to be used by the professors as they so pleased. As the argument escalated, Blair had begun to feel more and more agitated. It was almost as if he felt himself drawing from their emotions, feeding his own anger and ill will. Their voices began to fade and he felt himself floating adrift in a sea of violent emotions. He was vaguely aware of someone calling to him, speaking his name in growing concern. With great effort he pulled himself back from the torrent of crashing emotions, and found himself face to face with a raven-haired angel. Or at least that's how he thought of the young Christy Lomack, a fellow TA, who was watching him with worry written all over her pretty face. Gazing into her smoky gray eyes, Blair attempted to snap himself out of his current chaotic state of mind.
"Blair" she hissed under her breath, "Snap out of it. Man, the Professors' are mad enough without them thinking you're not paying attention. At least pretend to be interested if nothing else." She admonished him. Blair gave her a rueful smile, and quick thanks, returning his attention to the argument before him.
An hour later, the issue at hand had been resolved, Blair would continue as planned helping with the Peruvian art festival. Christy would assist Professor Ackley in the special project. Once all parties had been placated the meeting was adjourned and all attendees rushed from the room in a flurry of motion.
Blair, still feeling a bit strange from his earlier experience, stood up to quickly and had been rewarded for his haste with a migraine.
Finally reaching the destination of his seemingly endless trek from the Volvo, Blair paused to lean against the door to the loft. His head seemed to be beating in time with his heartbeat and though that might have proved interesting at some other time, right now it was merely annoying. /Man I wish I had a pain dial right about now/ Blair groused internally as he unlocked the front door and staggered in.
The loft was empty since his roommate and friend Jim Ellison was on another all night stakeout. Jim was a detective in the Major Crimes department of the Cascade police force. To top it all of he was a sentinel, someone who possessed five enhanced senses; senses so strong he could even see and hear for miles. Blair Sandburg was his guide. The person who helped the sentinel control and handle the enhanced senses, preventing the sentinel from experiencing a zoneout, something that happened when the sentinel focused to much on one his senses. Blair didn't feel much like guiding anyone right now though. All he intended to do was collapse in a heap on his futon bed and wait for Mr.Sandman to pay him a sorely overdue visit.
Barely managing to hang up his coat and toss his keys into the basket, Blair stumbled into his room. Falling onto his bed with all the grace of an elephant, Blair fell into a troubled sleep.
Five hours later, Blair awakened to a complete pitch-black loft. Sparing a quick glance at the clock on his desk, he noted it was now well past 10 o'clock. Realizing that his migraine had abated somewhat, at least enough where he could form some semblance of a coherent thought, Blair headed to the kitchen in search of something to drink. The shrill ring of the phone startled him and his snatched it up hastily, and managed a breathy hello.
"Hey Chief, just checkin' in. Are you alright, you sound winded." Jim stated, already threatening to slip into the blessed protector role.
"Chill out Jim, I'm fine. Just woke up a few minutes ago, and the phone ringing caught me off guard. How's the stakeout going?" Blair asked as he rumm. Raged through the refrigerator in search of something to drink.
"Boring, Chief, absolutely, positively, no doubt about it, BORING!!" Blair chuckled at his friend's apparent lack of enthusiasm for the job. "So I take it the notorious Jones Brothers are a no show?" Blair inquired.
"Pretty much, so Simon's called it off and we're all heading in. I'll be home in about 30 minutes or so. Have you eaten, do I need to pick anything up for dinner?" Blair winced upon hearing that question. He hadn't eaten since 8 o'clock that morning, and he could only imagine what response THAT would get from Jim. "I'll take your silence as a big fat 'no Jim, once again I forgot to eat'! Sandburg, you've got to start taking better care of yourself. I don't know what's been going on with you lately but-"
Blair cut Jim off before he could get into full rant mode. "Look Jim, I appreciate the concern, but there is nothing to be worried about. I am fine. Just been busy, between the university and working with you, it's a wonder I ever manage to eat let alone sleep." Blair hoped that statement put Jim off for now. He really didn't want to have to admit what had happened. Besides, it would only fuel Jim's current mother-hen radar, and Blair SO did not want to do that at the moment.
Jim knew his partner was stalling, but decided for now to let it go. "Fine Blair. But you and I are going to sit down and have a nice little chat here soon buddy. You are going to tell me what's going on with you and that's final. Now what do you want to eat?"
Jim glanced over at his partner for the sixth time in the last 20 minutes. He knew he was driving Blair crazy, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong. The feeling was only made worse by the fact that Blair refused to discuss it with him. Last night, after arriving home with Blair's requested Chinese takeout, Jim had been shocked to see how pale and shaky Blair had looked. The anthropologist had shrugged off Jim's questions claiming he'd had another migraine but was all right now. Jim knew his friend was lying, but decided to once again let him off the hook. But after watching Blair for the last 20 minutes, noticing how shaky the young man still appeared Jim wondered if he should have pressed his friend for the truth. Or, if he should have left him at home.
"Jim, man, you know the reason your sitting in the driver's seat, is because you're supposed to be the one driving. Not watching me. I. Am. Fine. So stop staring, you're freaking me out!" Blair admonished his partner.
"Sorry" Jim muttered as they pulled into the crime scene. The two of them had been called in on a murder investigation involving a young 23yr old woman. The woman had been found in her car, apparently stabbed to death. As the partner's trudged toward the car, Jim took a quick scan of Blair's vitals. Pleased to find that they were normal for the moment he gestured towards the murder scene before them. "Chief, you know you don't have to go over there. From what dispatch told me, it's pretty gruesome buddy."
"Thanks man, but I'm here to help you. Can't have you zoning on us now, can we? I'll be fine, lead the way big guy." Blair smiled as he paused for Jim, attempting to give him his best poker face. Truth be told, he felt horrible and most certainly did NOT want to see the crime scene. But, duty called and there was now way he'd let his partner down. Squaring his shoulders, he followed Jim with renewed determination and paused to look into the car.
The shock on Blair's face was clearly noticed by all. "Oh no, no no---Christy!!" Blair gasped backing away from the car, bile rising quickly in his throat. The young woman had been brutally assaulted. Her dark hair matted with blood, her gray eyes, once so full of life, now dull and flat. They seemed to be staring at Blair in accusation //why didn't you help me, why couldn't you save me// they taunted unmercifully. Haunted by their unspoken incriminations, Blair staggered away for the car. Avoiding Jim's concerned gaze, he headed towards the truck.
Jim had been concentrated on the oddity of the young woman's stab wounds when he heard his younger partner's shocked gasp. Turning around, he found that Blair had already headed back to the truck. //Man that kid is quick on his feet// Jim mused as he turned to let Cassie Wells, the forensics chief, know that he'd be right back.
"Is Blair alright Jim? He didn't look so good." The curly red head inquired of Jim.
"Yeah, I'm sure he'll be alright. Take a look at those stab wounds will you, and let me know what could have made an entry wound like that." At Cassie's nod, Jim went to console his distraught partner.
He found Blair leaning against the side of the truck with a strange, dazed look upon his face. He appeared to be staring ahead at nothing. Almost as if he had--"Ah, shoot!" Jim exclaimed realizing what had happened. Blair had zoned again. Fortunately it hadn't gotten to the point where he'd stopped breathing yet. Taking the cold pale face in his hands, he began to call Blair back. "Come on buddy, help me out here. You need to come back before folks start getting the wrong idea." He lightly tapped Sandburg on the cheek for emphasis.
Blair jerked, then began to blink, taking in his surroundings as his fogged mind began to clear. "Huh, wha- what happened." He groaned as the headache from the night before threatened to return. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Jim Ellison was not a happy man. The puzzle pieces slid perfectly into place as he finally caught on to what had been bothering him concerning Blair. "How many times have you done this Sandburg. I thought we'd agreed to discuss these zoneouts whenever they happen." Jim's tone was cold and hard, causing Blair to wince a little.
"WE didn't agree to anything, you ranted and I listened if I recall correctly!" Blair winced again as Jim leaned rather threateningly in his direction. "Alright, alright already, geesh! I've had four or five in the last few weeks. The most recent one, besides the one just now, was yesterday at my staff meeting. My friend Christy---wait, oh no!" Memory came flooding in one great motion as Blair remembered the cause for his zone.
"Blair--Blair! What is it?" Jim questioned, no longer angry, merely concerned.
"The victim, I know her. She is--I mean was a good friend of mine. She was a teaching fellow at the university with me. Her name is--I mean was Christy Lomack. She was at the meeting with me last night. Actually she was the one that snapped me out of the zone. Look, I'm sorry man; I need to clear my head a minute. I'm just gonna take a quick walk." Sensing Jim's reluctance, he attempted to reassure him. "I'll be fine. I just need to think a minute. I promise, no more zones." He offered up a weak grin and put on his best puppy-dog face.
"Just don't go far. I won't be long, and we WILL finish this discussion chief." Jim started to leave, then turned back for one last comment. "And Blair, we'll have to let the Captain know that you knew the victim. And I'm sorry buddy, I'm sorry this had to happen to a friend."
Blair suddenly looked worn and world-weary. "Yeah, I know."
Simon turned to face his best investigative team as they entered into his office. From looking at slouch in Sandburg's posture and Ellison's scowl, Simon sighed wearily, realizing that this was going to prove to be a difficult meeting.
"Well, what do we have so far gentlemen." Blair remained unusually unresponsive, so Ellison answered the Captain. "So far we've determined that Miss Lomack was attacked while getting into her car. She apparently was stabbed with a large round object at least ten times. Witnesses in the area state that they heard Miss Lomack's screams for help but by the time they arrived the assailant was long gone. There is no sign of the murder weapon on the crime scene, and forensics' hasn't pulled any prints other than Lomack's from the car yet. They haven't completed the initial autopsy yet to see if there are any prints on the body. When it's done, Cassie will bring it to me."
Simon nodded and turned his attention to the still to silent Blair. "You're awfully quiet today Sandburg. What's your take on all of this?"
Startled from his thoughts, Blair jerked his head up toward the expectant captain. "Uh, no I, well I went to school with her. The victim I mean. She was a TA like me. Very sweet woman." Blair's voice trailed off as he began to feel the despair seeping in again. "Are you alright son?" Blair looked up to see the captain had moved closer to him, concern evident on his dark brow.
"There's another matter we need to discuss with you Simon." Jim interjected, ignoring the warning looks he was receiving from Blair. "We've just discovered, well--ah heck, there's no easy way to say it but straight out. Blair and I have just found out that, he evidently has a heightened emphatic ability. He can easily zone on the emotions of others. Mainly in a situation that has escalated out of control."
Jim paused as he took in the look of total disbelief that crossed Simon's face. The tall captain turned away for a moment as if to compose himself, then turned back to face his troubled team. "Sooo, your not pulling my leg here right? I mean for three years now this supposed ability has never ONCE shown up, and NOW all of a sudden Blair has super abilities?" Simon scoffed. Shaking his head in utter disbelief, he failed to miss the rising emotions of the silent observer.
Blair rose from his seat with fury written all over his pale face. But Simon was not the object of the wrath. Turning toward a startled Jim, Blair began to rant, "Man, I don't believe you. We agreed to keep this between ourselves. You know Simon has a hard enough time believing anything I tell him as it is. Why is it that when it's something involving YOU we keep it quiet, don't want to be called a freak now do we? But no it's just Blair, let's shout it to the world. The world thinks he's crazy anyway!" Blair's voice had risen to a near shout.
"Now just a minute Sandburg!" Jim abruptly stood up, anger etched on every cell of his face. "You know full well that anytime something goes wrong with me, you run in here and whine to Simon about it. Why wouldn't I mention this also, you've already zoned twice in the last two days!"
"Whine to Simon" Blair sputtered, barely able to believe his ears, "Whine, so that's all I do is whine? Man you are such an--" Simon took this opportunity to interrupt before things got anymore out of hand.
"Ellison, sit down! Sandburg, calm down! I will not have my office used as counseling center for issues you two obviously need to work on outside of the job. Nor do I appreciate being told about this after you have so called zoned twice in the last two days!" Simon's voice roared at the fuming observer. Rubbing a large hand across his face, he wearily sat down. "When did this thing first happen, if it's happening at all."
Before Jim could muster a retort, Blair turned his fury towards the captain. "Why is it that you insist on belittling everything I say or do. What do you mean, IF it's happening? It's happening man, you just want to play deaf blind and dumb, just like you do when I try to
discuss Jim's issues. I get really sick and tired of everyone discounting what I have to say around here?" Before Blair could finish, a mountain of a man suddenly stood in his personal space.
"SANDBURG!! I will NOT have you speaking to me like that in my office. You will sit down and be silent as I am your commanding officer." Banks roared.
Blair's eyes widened at Simon's command, "My what?? Commanding what??? How could you be my anything when I don't even get PAID!!" The look that crossed Simon's face might have actually been amusing at another point in time, but as it was, it proved to be frightening. Blair backed up a few steps wondering if he had indeed let his mouth run off too far this time, when he backed into another mountain man.
"Just a minute Captain" Jim started to intervene only to stop abruptly as his attention was suddenly drawn to his partner. Blair, already pale, had turned stark white. His eyes had glazed over and his respiration had dramatically slowed. //What? He's zoning?// Jim realized what was happening and reached for his guide.
Blair began to feel the odd lightheadedness return again as the palatable anger in the room began to overwhelm him. //Anger, there's so much anger// he thought trying to shake himself free of the maelstrom, but failing. He felt himself absorbing the emotion, felt it seeping in as he began to lose focus. As if from a great distance he could see Jim and Simon advancing towards him, their mouths moving soundlessly, reaching for him. It became hard to breathe; the emotions were so thick, almost as if he were trapped. His last conscious thought was one of panic, as he felt his body slowly shut down and he fell swiftly into oblivion's welcoming embrace.
Simon rubbed a weary hand over an equally weary face. With a heavy sigh, he again wondered to himself why things never seemed to get any better when it came to Ellison and Sandburg. In fact just as soon as things would seem to slow down, and peace would reign, something would happen to one or the other, causing new and improved reasons for Simon to grow ulcers. He glanced over at Jim wondering what was going through the other man's mind. //I can't believe Blair collapsed after zoning in my office, then to top if off, Jim almost zoned trying to snap Blair out of his.// With an even heavier sigh, Simon turned to face his troubled detective.
"Jim, I'm sure the kid will be alright. He started breathing on his own before the paramedic's got to him. He regained consciousness in the ambulance on the way over. They're probably just holding him for observation right now." Simon stated, trying to ease his friend's troubled thoughts.
"I know, it's just. I should have handled that whole situation better. I should have waited until another time to bring it up to you. I should have warned him I was going to mention it, maybe he wouldn't have become so upset. I shouldn't have belittled what he does to help me. That wasn't fair of me. He practically works himself into the ground trying to keep me online and things running smoothly. I could have been more sympathetic, I know what it is like to feel like a freak" Jim finally paused having nearly run out of breath. The anguish in the detective's eyes was nearly Simon's undoing.
"Jim, this is really my fault. I shouldn't have been so quick to brush off what you two were trying to tell me. I--I just sometimes have a hard time taking it all in ya know?" At the sentinel's nod of understanding, Simon continued. "This was just the icing on the cake I guess. I was just getting to feel completely comfortable dealing with you and your senses. Now Blair has a new emerging gift," Simon gave a short gruff chuckle. "Well, let's just say I'm trying to process it all. I ---I surely shouldn't have reacted the way I did. I apologize to you, and I intend to do so to Blair when the doctors let us see him."
Jim turned a faint smile towards his captain, "I appreciate that sir, and I'm sure he will too."
Just then a tall, thin, graying man in a white lab coat walked up to the two seated men. "Detective Ellison, Captain Banks, I'm Dr. Grant and I have been handling Mr. Sandburg's case since he came in." Raising his hand to stop Jim's torrent of questions, he proceeded to update them as to Blair's condition. "The young man's vitals are all normal right now. He's been complaining of a severe headache, so we've given him something to ease the pain. As far as everything else he check out just fine. My diagnosis is exhaustion and he is also mildly dehydrated, so we have him hooked up to an IV to help restore his lost fluids. You can take him home in a couple of hours. He'll probably be pretty out of it, due to the painkillers. So I want him to get plenty of rest. Please see to it that he also gets plenty of fluids in him. He should feel a lot better tomorrow."
Already sensing Jim's next question, Dr. Grant beat him to the punch. "Yes Detective Ellison, you can go in and see him, he's been asking for you and Captain Banks since he awakened. He's in exam room number four right behind you." Jim thanked the doctor and left Simon to handle whatever paperwork needed to be filled as he went in to check on his partner.
Jim smiled to himself as he helped his barely coherent partner into the loft. As he helped settled Blair down on the couch he had to chuckle to himself as he recalled the look of shock that crossed the young man's face when Simon had apologized to the young man at the hospital. For a minute Jim had worried that Blair would zone out from the shock. But the young man quickly recovered and apologized to the captain for losing his temper, gracing him with a patented mega-watt Sandburg smile.
"What's so funny man" Blair asked, his speech slightly slurred as the painkillers began to take hold.
"Just thinking of the look on your face when Simon apologized to you. I thought you were gonna have a coronary or something there, chief." Jim grinned down at his partner, relief at the young man's current state of wellbeing clearly written all over his handsome face.
"Jim, I'm sorry I yelled at you, man. I was just frustrated and not feeling that great. I just wanted to tell Simon when I was ready." Blair mumbled as he's eyes began to slide shut. Jim nudged the young man jerking him back to the land of the living.
"It's alright Blair, I'm sorry too. I should have talked to you first before I opened my mouth to Simon." Noticing Blair's fight to say in touch with reality, he helped his friend to his feet and helped him to his bedroom. "I think it's time for you to head to the land of Nod partner."
"Oh man," Blair groaned as he lay down on his bed. "I must be out of it, I could have sworn you just tried to quote a nursery rhyme man." Blair teased as he began to drift to sleep.
"Always with the quips chief." Jim chuckled as he covered his friend with a blanket and turned to leave the room.
"Jim" Blair soft inquiry stopped his exit from the room. Turning back around he gazed down at his friend, a hint of amusement coloring his brow.
"What is it Chief, I thought you'd fallen asleep." He turned to sit in the chair next to his friend's bed.
Blair struggled to keep his eyes open as he turned to ask something of his sentinel.
"Jim, I need your help here man. I---I can't handle this thing on my own. I thought I could but I can't. I think, well I think you must be meant to guide me through this." Blair rubbed furiously at his eyes, trying in vain to stay awake and make his point. "I need you to help me run some tests on this. So I can get some kind of handle on this thing, before it gets out of control. I can't go around zoning on everyone every five minutes." Exhausted, he paused sneaking a glance at his partner's face, fearing what kind of emotion his request might have garnered.
He need not have worried. Jim graced his best friend with a gentle smile. "Of course. I'd be honored to help you." At Blair's smile, he couldn't resist adding; "Besides payback's going to be sweet with all the tests I'm going to dream up for you buddy. Yes payback
time indeed!" with a final pat to Blair's shoulder the sentinel left the room snickering to himself.
Blair groaned, maybe this wasn't such a smart idea after all.
Jim looked up as he sensed the young Cassie Wells approaching his desk. Her perfume choice of the day was overwhelming, and Jim automatically turned down his sense of smell. Something about the forensics examiner always seemed to set him off the wrong way. He wasn't sure what it was. "Here's your report on Christy Lomack's autopsy Jimmy." Cassie stated, as she uncerimoniously dropped it onto of a file Jim was reading. Maybe THAT was it.
"Thanks Wells." Jim ground out patiently as he perused through the report. Pausing he re-read a particular paragraph. "Hey, it says here that those odd stab wounds looked to be caused by some sort of staff?" Jim inquired as he turned his attention back to the redhead.
"Yes. From the way the entry and exit wounds appeared the murder weapon would have to have had some type of pointed tip. But also be large and rounded to account of the size of the wounds. We also pulled a partial print of her left arm. Could be that the assailant was wearing latex gloves, and one of the fingers could have torn off in the struggle, allowing for a partial print to be left behind. There are traces of latex residue on her arms and face, so more than likely the gloves would have caused that."
Jim looked up impressed. "This gives us something small to work with at least. Just need to find a killer with staff, and a latex glove missing a finger. How long till we get something back on the partial print?"
"Hopefully by tomorrow, I'll let ya know. See ya later Jimmy" with that parting statement, Cassie was gone.
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Jim noted it was almost noon. //Time for lunch// he thought, as he dialed Blair's number at the university.
Blair had gone in to school today, despite Jim's objections, stating he had far too much work to do, to be sitting at the loft all day. Besides, he'd claimed, he felt FINE and didn't need to be mothered. Jim had merely sighed, attempted to give the young man one of his best glares, and finally gave up and gave in. Jim knew he'd be able to keep tabs on the young man later in the afternoon, since he would be interviewing people at Rainer to see if anyone knew anything about young Christy's untimely demise.
Blair picked up his extension after three rings. "Hey Jim." Came the distracted greeting.
"How'd ya know it was me Sandburg?" Jim inquired. //Don't tell me he's going physic on me now too.//
"Relax man" Blair chuckled, "its noon and that means it's burger time. I figured it was you calling about lunch." The levity in Blair's voice suddenly vanished, replaced by sadness " I don't suppose you've found out anything regarding Christy yet have you?" Blair waited, nervously chewing on a red grading marker.
"Not much chief. Cassie was able to pull a partial print off of Christy's arm, and they've sent it in to be identified. She also discovered that the murderer used latex gloves, and a staff as the murder weapon. But other than that, that's about all we discovered. Maybe we'll get some more clues when we do the interviews at the university later this afternoon." Catching the soft depressed sigh, Jim tried to take Blair's mind off of the case for a moment. "So chief, whaddya say we head out for lunch, and I can test you a little."
Blair was barely able to contain his snort "Yeah, I can't wait to try these tests big guy."
"Mock all you want little man, mock all you want. I'll be there in 20 minutes."
"Alright, let's get started Sandburg." Jim was devouring a rather large cheeseburger with all the trimmings. //Complete with fries and a big artery clogging shake// Blair mused as he feasted on his grilled chicken and goat cheese salad. Taking a quick sip of his iced tea, he looked up at his partner expectantly. "Sure Jim, so what do you want me to do, Obi Wan."
"You're a laugh and a half chief. Now listen up smarty, I figured we could start off by seeing what kind of control you have over your empathy." Glancing around the crowed diner, Jim spied two women huddled deep in conversation. Turning up his hearing, he could easily hear what they were saying. One of the women was upset at her boyfriend; she had found him alone with another woman in her apartment. She was obviously angered and upset by the situation, and her friend was doing her best to be compassionate.
Grinning to himself, Jim turned his attention back to his friend. "Okay, I've got it. See the two blondes over there in the back booth." Blair glanced over to the right, and nodded. "Yeah I see them. Man the one is a knockout, did you see her?"
"Table leg chief. Now, I want you to see if you can pick up on how each of them is feeling. I'll know if you're wrong, because I can easily hear their conversation."
Blair looked at his partner in disbelief. "How am I supposed to do that?? Man, I-" Jim interrupted his friend before he could began rambling. "Humor me Sandburg. Just try."
Blair sighed, then closed his eyes and took a few calming breaths to focus himself. When he felt like he had achieved enough of a calm state, he opened his eyes slowly, trying to pick up on any emotions. At first Blair felt nothing. With a frown, he opened himself up more, ridding his mind of his own emotions; and nearly doubled over at the table as he was assaulted by intense feelings of jealously and anger. Grabbing on to the emotion, he glanced over at the two women and honed in on the one he sensed the feelings were emanating from. As he gazed at her, he began to feel himself losing control, falling into her turbulent emotions. Time was beginning to slow. Then---he felt a soft whisper in the midst of the entire maelstrom. Calling him back, requesting his immediate return.
Blinking, Blair turned and looked into the eyes of one seriously worried sentinel. "Whoa man, that was intense. How long was I out?"
"Only a minute or two this time. You seemed to respond to me a lot faster than in the past. Maybe you're learning to use my voice as an anchor. Like I do with you." Jim paused, let what had just happened sink in. One minute Blair was arguing about the test, the next he was headed straight for zone city. It freaked Jim out to see Blair's eyes glaze over in that manner. As if his body was still around, but his mind had left on vacation. It then dawned on Jim that this was what Blair would go through dealing with him and his zoneouts. Jim felt slightly guilty, and vowed to work harder on not giving his guide such a hard time in the future when it came to those infernal tests.
"Earth to Jim." Blair was waving his hand in front of Jim's face. Jim snapped out of his thoughts, and returned his attention to the task at hand. "Alright chief, what did you pick up from the two women?"
"Well, all I got was a lot of anger with jealousy sort of at the center of it. Almost as if, hiding the jealousy within the anger. I felt myself falling into the emotions again. But this time you pulled me out in time."
Blair glanced down at his lunch, losing his appetite. He was 100% sure he was ready for this new ability. Frankly the thought of access to other's emotions freaked him out. Looking back up at his friend he inquired "Well, was I right?"
"Right as rain buddy. The woman found her boyfriend alone with another woman, and she's pretty steamed about it." Jim was geniually amazed that Blair was able to pick up on that so easily. Noticing how ill at ease Blair seemed, he patted his shoulder. "I know this is all overwhelming to you now, but don't worry about it. We'll get a handle on it, so you can control it. Just like you've done for me. Now focus on them again for me, but focus on that dial. See if you can tell me where you have it set."
Blair found the young woman's emotions again easily, testing the dial; he felt it was set at eight. "It's at eight." Blair gasped, slowly losing focus again.
"Turn it down to two now Blair" Jim commanded. Blair complied, and was rewarded with instant relief from the emotional assault. Taking a deep calming breath, Blair looked into the eyes of his sentinel. "It worked like a charm man. I can still sense how upset she is, but it's not so overwhelming anymore."
Jim smiled in approval. "Good job chief. I think that's enough for now. At least you found your dial, why don't you try to keep it set at two for the rest of the day. Later on this evening we can run some more tests."
Blair groaned. "More tests. Man, you've been hanging around me too long."
"Suck it up Sandburg, remember, payback is sweet. Now come little grasshopper and lend me your expertise, while we interview the charming people at your university." Jim got up from the table leaving a tip for the waitress. Blair followed behind him as they left the diner.
"Jim, I gotta tell you man, your jokes stink." Blair was rewarded for his comment with a swat to the back of his head.
Blair fidgeted in his chair ignoring the glare the sentinel threw his way. He couldn't help feeling restless; they had been talking to people on the campus all afternoon, and still hadn't managed to find much out.
Christy Lomack was a well-liked and respected TA on campus. She was a hard working individual and was friendly and compassionate towards all. Which is what made her murder more confusing. Everyone claimed to have liked her and yet someone out there had obviously felt differently. From the way the murder had been committed, more than likely it was someone the young woman had known, and known well.
Ellison and Sandburg had spoken to the best friend of the young woman Jenna Brown. Blair's heart had gone out to the young woman, who was obviously still very distressed by the recent death of her friend.
She had tearfully answered all of their questions.
"I'm so sorry, I don't have a clue who could have done this to Christy." Jenna dabbed a tissue at her eyes as fresh tears threatened to flow. Blair was seated in a chair next to the distraught young woman, he reached out and attempted to console the young woman. "I
know this is hard for you Jenna, but we need to ask these questions so we can catch the monster that did this to Christy. Now the last time I saw Christy was at the staff meeting, it ended around 4:30pm. She left before I did. Do you know if she met up with anyone after that?" Jenna nodded, and tried to compose herself. When she spoke again, her voice was much calmer.
"She called me around 6pm to let me know she'd be late for our double date we were supposed to go on together. She said she had to talk to some professor, I think her name was Ackey or Ackin, I don't know something odd like that."
"Professor Ackley?" Blair asked softly, as something seemed to nag at him in the back of his mind.
"Yes, that was it, Ackley. I remember because I'd never heard her mention her before. So she said she'd meet our dates and I around 8pm. That was the last time I ever talked to her." At that last sentence, the poor young girl broke down and had begun sobbing. Blair had glanced at Jim, who had remained silent the whole time. The sentinel shrugged his shoulders indicating Blair was on his own; watching with a hint of amusement as Blair had awkwardly put his arm around the young woman and uttered words meant to console. When she had calmed down again, he asked her another question. "Jenna, who were your dates for the night?"
Sniffling rather loudly into her tissue, Jenna managed to answer. "My date was Bobby Turner, you know him Blair, he's captain of the football team here. Christy was supposed to be his cousin's date, his name is Darren, Darren Turner. Same last name." She looked at Blair and smiled briefly.
Finally the silent sentinel spoke up. "Ms. Brown, how long did you and your friends wait on Miss Turner before becoming concerned as to her where abouts?" Jim gazed into the young woman eyes, his head cocked slightly to one side. It was very clear to Blair his sentinel was listening to the young woman's heart rate to determine whether or not she was telling the truth.
Jenna flinched slightly under the detective's intense scrutiny. Something about the tall man gave her the creeps. She felt like he was staring straight into her soul. She still couldn't believe that Blair actually worked with this guy. Taking a deep breath, she answered the cop's question. "I called the dorm room at least 5 times between 8 and 9 o'clock getting no answer. Finally all of us were starting to get worried so we left the restaurant we were waiting at, and headed back to the dorms. That was around 9:15pm. We got back to the dorms around 9:40pm, and there was still no sign of her. So that's when I called the police and Bobby called campus security on his cell phone. The police arrived here a little after 10pm. They questioned us and said they would look into it. The
next morning I woke up, and there was someone at my dorm door. It was a policeman, and he said they needed me to come down and identify Christy's body. I had to do it, since her family lives out of state." She paused to dab at her eyes again, as the emotions again welled to the surface.
Jim, satisfied the young woman was telling the truth, glanced at his partner. Blair had gone silent, and was starting to look a little pale. Thinking the young man might be having trouble controlling his empathy again; Jim spoke directly to Blair.
"Blair, why don't you write down the phone numbers of the two young men so we can talk with them also." Blair blinked, shook his head slightly and grinned sheepishly at his partner. Taking out his notepad, he quickly scribbled the numbers down as Jenna rattled them off to him.
Jim continued with his questions. "So did you go anywhere else after calling the police?" Christy nodded, "I spent the night across the hall with Lucy, my friend. I was kind of freaked out since I was so worried, and she let me stay with her so I wouldn't have to be alone."
Jim nodded and after thanking the young woman for her time, they left her to grieve in private for her lost friend.
Blair sighed shakily and rubbed a weary hand over his face. Jim noticed how tired and drawn the young man was beginning to look. He decided after one last interview with this Ackley character, they were headed home for the day. Remembering something he'd noticed while they were speaking with Jenna, Jim stopped and turned to his partner.
"So out with it chief, who is this Professor Ackley, and why did your heart rate jump up when the girl mentioned the name?" Jim inquired as they walked down a crowed dorm hallway.
Blair shrugged. "It's just---Remember that staff meeting I told you about I had the other day?" At Jim's nod, Blair continued.
"Well, the meeting ended up running long because Professor Ackley got into the huge argument with Professor Cummings. See, I had already agreed to help Cummings with this Peruvian art exhibit we have going next week, but at the meeting Ackley announces that she's going to be using me for some special project. She never did elaborate what this 'special project' was supposed to be about, but anyway; Cummings reminds Ackley about me helping him and told her she needed to use another TA." Blair paused, as he sidesteps to avoid running into a small cluster of giggling female co-eds.
"So, did something unusual happen during the argument or something?" Jim lightly tapped his friend on the shoulder to distract his attention from the departing co-eds.
"Huh? Oh yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, Ackley practically went ballistic, almost screaming at Cummings. Telling him that 'no one speaks to me that way', all over dramatic and stuff. She then began ranting and raving about how she held more tenure with the university then Cummings did, and she should have first pick of the TA's. I'm not sure what else happened, 'cause that's around the time I zoned." Blair's voice trailed off significantly, embarrassment clearly written all over his face. He hadn't exactly told Jim the full details of this particular zoneout.
Jim stopped in his tracks, turned and taking hold of his guide's arm, he lead the young man to sit on a quiet ledge, peaceful for the fact that most of the students were milling around on the other side of the campus.
Looking directly into his young friend's eyes, he made sure his gaze was clear and steady, so the guide would know that his sentinel would not take any obfuscations.
After a moment's pause, he spoke. "What exactly happened to cause you to zone. And I want the truth Sandburg. Just tell me what you remember."
Blair nodded briefly, closed his eyes and after taking a deep breath, he began. "When the arguing escalated to a near shouting match, I---I kind of felt their anger. It, it almost drew me in, I couldn't ignore it. That's when I began to lose focus. Next thing I remember, Christy was tugging on my arm telling me to snap out of it. When I started paying attention again, the arguing was pretty much over. Chancellor Edwards suggested that Ackley choose another assistant since I had a prior commitment. Ackley eventually chose Christy, but now that I think back on it, she didn't look happy at all about it. She practically stomped out of the meeting." Blair began rubbing his temples, feeling another headache attempting to make an appearance.
Jim eyed his partner, unconsciously tuning into the younger man's vitals. Satisfied nothing more was troubling Blair than an encroaching headache, Jim spoke "So this is the zoneout that prompted the five hour nap and the massive migraine you had when you came home that day." Blair nodded in agreement, so Jim decided to press on. "Did any of your other zones leave you feeling so wasted afterwards, not counting the little trip to the ER."
"No, Just the one at the meeting and the one in Simon's office." Blair replied.
Jim thought this over briefly. "Maybe the intensity of the peoples emotions you're tuning into effect how strongly your zones affect you. I want you to try something for me. I want you to close your eyes for a minute and think back to the argument at the meeting."
Seeing that Blair had complied with his instructions so far, Jim continued. "Now, I want you to zero in on the anger you felt at that meeting." Jim senses immediately registered an increase in Blair's respiration and heart rate.
"Remember how at the diner earlier you were not only able to pick up on the woman's anger, but also felt the jealousy underneath it?" Blair nodded his eyes still closed. "I want you to try to do the same here. Can you isolate Ackley's anger?" Another nod yes. "Okay, sift through her anger, can you feel any other emotion hidden within it?"
Blair remained silent several moments, eerily still, as he worked through his memory. All of a sudden his eyes flew open, a slightly shocked look on his face.
"What, what is it? What did you sense?" Jim inquired impatiently, worried at his guide's lack of response.
"Lust. A-a deep longing almost. Not overtly sexual in nature, more of a need. That's what was fueling the anger." Blair whispered. Then all of the color drained from his already pale features. "I---I think it was directed towards me."
"What??" Jim could barely believe his sentinel-enhanced ears. This case was starting to get too weird, even for the Sandburg Zone. "Are you sure?"
Blair leaned forward, placing his face into his hands, and groaned loudly. "Yes, I'm positive. She wanted me, but I'm not sure why and what for. All I know is that when she couldn't get her way, she threw a hissy fit."
"You just attract them like flies don't you Sandburg." Jim teased his partner, hoping to lighten the mood a bit.
"Hey, can I help it if I'm sweet as honey?" Blair quipped back half-heartedly. He knew his friend was trying to cheer him up, the least he could do was play along.
Jim swatted Blair on the back the head, then stood up. "Come on chief. Let's go interview the number one member of your fan club."
Professor Patricia R. Ackley was not exactly the type of woman Jim had expected. Not that he'd had an exact picture in mind; just not what he found when they had arrived at her spacious office. For one thing she wasn't nearly as stodgy as the other professors Jim had come across since he and Blair had become partners. Ackley appeared to be in her early to mid fifties. She had shoulder length auburn hair that was cut rather stylishly to frame her face. Her green eyes seemed to nearly jump out at the admirer, possibly because of the contrast of her ivory white skin. When her full ruby red lips parted in a smile, Jim was instantly made aware of her perfect white teeth. As she rose to shake hands with the detective, Ellison couldn't help but admire the fact that Ackley apparently took great pride in maintaining her figure. For maintain it well she did.
"Table leg Jim." Blair's sentinel soft whisper immediately jerked Jim's attention back to the pressing matter at hand. Jim cast his partner a scorching glare, which Blair covertly ignored as he too shook the professor's hand.
"Thank you for taking time to talk to us Professor Ackley." At the professor's nod, Blair continued. "This is my friend Detective James Ellsion with the Cascade PD. As your probably aware, I work with him as a consultant."
"Yes, I am aware of that Mr. Sandburg. It's always been something I've found to be rather interesting about you. But then so much about you is interesting." Ackley cast a predatory smile upon the anthropologist, causing the young man's face to turn a rather intriguing shade of maroon. "Please, have a seat gentlemen. How may I help assist Cascade's finest today?" Her voice almost dripped with false charm, her eyes unabashedly admiring Blair.
Jim decided to help his friend out, deciding that Blair had done enough fidgeting for one day. "Professor, I'm sure you're aware of the death of a Ms. Christy Lomack?" The professor nodded at Jim, her eyes only briefly leaving Blair to acknowledge the sentinel. Jim found this to be more than a little disturbing to say the least. Clearing his throat so as to catch the woman's attention, he continued. "I understand that she was going to be working as an assistant to you on some project for the university?" Ackley finally seemed to be able to turn her attention away from Blair, much to the young man's relief.
"Yes, she was to assist me with some things I needed help with. I had originally requested young Mr. Sandburg here, but he proved to be unattainable." Jim's eyes brows rose slightly at this statement. Professor Ackley continued. "Professor Cummings wasn't in the mood to share, so I had to settle for little Miss Lomack. No where near as smart as young Blair, but oh well, I guess she would have sufficed for the time being."
Blair's eyes narrowed at the derogatory way the woman before him spoke his deceased friend's name. Though he had never really paid Professor Ackley much attention one way or the other, something about her demeanor at the moment set off warning bells in the back of his mind. Going with an impulse, Blair decided to turn his emphatic dial up to 6. He knew he had promised Jim that he would keep it turned down, but he wanted to see behind her smooth façade she had put on for the interview, and see the true emotions behind her carefully thought out answers. He knew Jim could sense an increase in her
heart rhythm should she decide to lie, but he wanted to hedge the bet a little so to speak. Realizing he was drifting a bit in thought, he tuned back in to the conversation going on in front of him. He began to focus solely on Ackley's emotions, sifting through them, in an attempt to read her inner most emotions.
Jim decided he'd had enough of this particular suspect, and decided to get to the heart of the matter. Perhaps in catching Ackley off guard, he could trip her up, get her to admit something, anything to help get this case solved and over with. He was starting to get concerned with how this was affecting Blair, he thought the young man looked about ready to drop.
"Professor where did you go immediately following the staff meeting that was held on Wednesday?"
A look of irritation quickly flashed across Ackley's near flawless features before the smooth and easy façade fell quickly back into place. "I had a dinner date for the evening. So I headed on home to get ready for my night out." Jim picked up an increase in her heart rate. Blair began to pick up on her rising panic and fear.
"Are you sure you didn't go anywhere else before going home. Maybe stopped by the store, or went by the dry cleaners?" Ackley shook her head no, all the while her heart betraying her to the sentinel's ears. "That's interesting. You see Ms. Lomack called her roommate and told her she had a meeting with you that same evening and would be late meeting her friends for dinner. A dinner for which she never showed up. Now I'll ask you one more time Ackley. Did you stop anywhere else before going home? Maybe had a quick impromptu meeting with Christy that you forgot about?"
Ackley's heart was nearly pounding out of her chest as she stared into the almost steel like gaze of the detective before her. She swallowed slowly and attempted to appear calm and collected, despite the twisting of her insides. Taking a deep breath she answered the sentinel's questions. "I'm quite sure Detective Ellison. I went straight home, and then met my dinner date at the Peppercorn Grill for dinner at 8pm. You are more than welcome to check with the restaurant. They will most certainly vouch for my companion and me. Now if there is nothing else I am quite busy today. With Miss Lomack's untimely death taking place, I'm with out a TA and I have student interviews to conduct." Ackley rose from her desk in an obvious attempt to end the interview. Jim wasn't quite done yet though.
"Just one more thing Professor, if you don't mind." At Ackley's terse nod, Jim continued "Do you have anyone who can vouch as to your being at home?" Patricia Ackley's ivory hued skin suddenly drained of it's scant amount of color, as she tersely informed the detective that she had been home alone, and there was no one to back up her alibi. "Oh before I forget," Jim paused as he and Blair began to leave. "Who was your dinner date for the evening? We will need to check with him to back up your alibi, and confirm where you two went for dinner."
Blair had been closely monitoring the professor's emotions when he was suddenly assaulted by barrage of emotions so intense he almost lost control. Her fear and guilt seemed to role into him in great crashing waves, over and over, pounding into him relentlessly. Her anger and irritation gnawed at his soul tearing and ripping away his already fragile and worn down defenses. But her guilt, her undeniable stench ridden, rotting guilt was his ultimate undoing as he felt himself sucked down by the onslaught, drowning, losing touch with reality as the darkness of the zone beckoned him. He surrendered, the oblivion a welcome relief from the private hell he was now experiencing.
Jim had been busy writing down the name of Professor Ackley's date, when he suddenly sensed Blair's heart rate slow dramatically. He turned just in time to catch his friend, as Blair began to pass out. Murmuring softly into the young man's ear, Jim was just able to barely snap Blair out of the zoneout without drawing the attention of Professor Ackley, who had sat back down at her desk, distractedly sorting through a stack of papers on her desk. Jim led Blair out of the office and towards the truck. After helping his friend settle into the truck, he scanned his guide's vitals and found Blair's heart rate, while still a little slow, much closer to normal.
Jim laid a hand against Blair's face and found him to be slightly feverish. Gently he shook his guide's shoulder, who for the most part still appeared to be in a daze. "Blair buddy, I think its time to call it a day. You zoned pretty deep there chief, and you're feeling a bit feverish. Can you tell me what made you zone? Were you tuned into Ackley's emotions?"
Blair blinked, then closing his eyes he slowly nodded. Finally speaking, his voice was soft, almost as if coming from a great distance. The sentinel had to pick up his hearing to catch what Blair said. "She's guilty Jim. Her---her guilt was so strong, I almost couldn't take it. It's eating her up inside, festering and growing. I'm sorry Jim. I shouldn't have turned the dial up so high." Anything else Blair had planned to say was quickly forgotten, as the young man drifted to sleep.
Jim sighed and softly shut the truck's door. After climbing into the driver's side, he turned on the engine and took his weary guide home.
Jim stretched luxuriously as he slowly and lazily came to life. Glancing at a clock on the wall he noted the time to be half past seven. Slowly rising from the couch he'd been napping on, Jim made his way over to his guide's room to check on the young man. Peering effortlessly into the darkened room, Jim honed in on his guide.
Blair lay huddled under a pile of covers blissfully unaware of the goings on around him. He had pretty much been out on his feet from the moment he and Jim had arrived at the loft. Jim had steered the exhausted young man towards his room, helping him to undress then shepherded him into bed. Once Blair's head had hit the pillow, he'd been out like a light. Jim had covered him with a light blanket, and then monitored his fever for a few moments. Satisfied that it had gone down a couple of degrees, he'd left the young guide to his much needed rest. Realizing how tired he was himself, he had made a quick call into the station letting Simon know he'd come in early the next day to discuss the new developments of the case, then crashed out on the couch. He had fallen asleep almost instantly.
Jim shook himself from his thoughts and quietly moved away from his guide's room. From the sounds of it Blair would still be out a while. Jim sensed Blair's fever had broken and was no longer worried about Blair's well being. He suspected Blair needed just what he was getting---rest, and lots of it.
Realizing he was hungry, and figuring Blair would be too when he awakened, Jim set about making dinner.
He had just set the water to boil for the spaghetti noodles, when he heard Simon's car pull into the parking lot. // He REALLY needs to get that muffler fixed soon// Jim mused to himself as he managed to open the door to the loft before Simon had a chance to knock.
"Jim!! I swear if you don't stop doing that, I'll have your butt on foot patrol so fast you won't know what hit you!" Simon's easy smile belied the gruff tone of voice, and Jim grinned back.
"So sorry sir, please do come in." Jim replied in mock formality, gesturing grandly for the large man to enter his home.
"Funny Jim, really funny. Been hanging around Sandburg too long I see. How's he doing anyway?" Jim had to smile at his friend's feeble attempt to hide his concern for Blair. He knew the big gruff captain had a soft spot for his guide, but often went out of his way not to show it.
"He's asleep still. These zones, if they are really bad, it knocks him right off his feet. He should be okay though; he just needs to get more rest. This case has been hard on him, especially since it was a friend of his murdered that way." Jim motioned for Simon to take a seat at the dining room table as he finished up the preparations for his spaghetti dinner. Setting a bowl of salad on the table, he turned to his captain. "We have more than enough if you'd like to stay for dinner Simon."
Smiling broadly Simon thanked his friend for the invitation. "Don't mind if I do. So your sure Sandburg is feeling better?"
Jim sat a heaping plate of pasta topped with tomato sauce tinged with garlic and onions in front of the inquisitive captain. Setting a can of beer in front of the man, he too sat down and began to eat. "Yeah I'm sure. Besides after talking with a Professor Ackley today, Blair and I both agreed we'd found our suspect. When I questioned her about her whereabouts during the time Lomack was murdered, her heart rate practically shot through the roof. And Blair picked up on her guilt, so much so he zoned on it. I say we bring her in for questioning since she can't provide a rock proof alibi." Jim paused when he noticed his captain had stopped eating and turned pale, a decidedly amazing feat for the dark skinned man.
"What is it Simon? Too much garlic in the sauce for you?" When Simon didn't respond, Jim leaned forward beginning to worry. "Simon?"
Simon rubbed a hand over his face and sighed. "I'm sorry Jim, that's what I came over to tell you. We just got a call into the precinct. Professor Ackley was found stabbed to death in her office a couple of hours ago. Her wounds apparently matched the ones found on Miss Lomack. I---I'm sorry Jim."
Jim remained silent, granite jaw in place. There was nothing he could think of to say.
Blair stretched and yawned furiously, trying to chase away the lure of the Sandman. After rubbing his sleepy eyes for the hundredth time, Blair peered sluggishly into his empty tea mug. With a sigh he slowly rose from his desk in the small cramped office he held at the university, and went in search of the elusive beverage. As Blair walked the dark corridors, he thought back over the events of the past week.
Upon finding out that their number one suspect had been murdered, Jim and Blair had exhausted every avenue they could think of to determine who the repeat murderer was. But all they were able to accomplish was finding every dead end available. Jim had studiously examined the second crime scene under the expert guidance of Blair, but hadn't been able to pick up on anything different from the first crime scene. This time the killer had been smart enough not to leave any partial prints, or any other useful evidence. The entry wounds on Professor Ackley had matched those of poor Christy Lomack, leading to the assumption their killers were one in the same. The fact that they knew each other, and had died with in two days of one another only added to the puzzle. And no one still had a clue as to the mystery murder weapons where abouts. By mid-week, Cassie had finally gotten back to Jim with the latest update regarding the pulled partial print from the first murder victim.
"I'm sorry this is so late Jimmy but the lab had an awful time trying to scan the print." Taking the report from the woman, Jim dialed his smell down again as he was blasted with Cassie perfume choice of the day.
Sneezing, he paused to blow his nose. "Why is that, what was so different about the print?" Jim inquired once the mild sneezing fit had passed. Rubbing his watery eyes, Jim attempted to read the now blurry report.
"Wow Jim, I never knew your allergies were this bad. Anyway, they had problems because it appeared the print was from a fingertip that was damaged. Meaning it had probably been burned at some point in time. So they couldn't find anything to match with in their database. If the killer's prints have been taken before, he or she's probably burned their fingers since then."
Jim had later relayed this piece of information to his guide, as Blair had come in later that afternoon.
Blair had merely shaken his head sadly, he had long since begun to lose faith in finding the killer and this little piece of news did nothing to restore his flagging faith.
Sitting down Blair had taken in his best friend's appearance, noting the sneezing fits and watery eyes. He couldn't resist teasing his miserable sentinel. "I take it Cassie hand delivered the report to you big guy."
Jim had merely scowled, blew his nose and turned his attention back to the practically useless report.
"Funny chief, are you here to help or add to my misery." Jim ground out, even though his slight smile betrayed his true feelings.
Blair had smiled; knowing his partner's current state of irritation had nothing to do with him personally. "Sorry man, just stopped by to drop off this tea for you, which I'm glad I did. It's a special blend for allergy sufferers. Which it appears to me, you could use a cup of it right now." Blair had then laid the tea on Jim's desk and then stood to leave. "I also wanted to remind you I would be tied up for the rest of the week working on the Peruvian art festival with one of the Professors at the university. I'll probably be home late."
And late Blair had been for the past few nights, as he had assisted Professor Cummings with the festival. It had been a rather large and imposing task involving cataloging and setting up well over 300 different artifacts. For some reason Blair couldn't fathom,
Cummings had not requested any more help other than Blair. Then the professor proved to be practically non existent, leaving Blair to do most of the work by himself.
Blair shook himself from his thoughts as he neared the break room. //No use whining about the work// Blair groused to himself, //you're the one that requested this job, so might as well suck it up, and get the job done.//
As he strolled into the faculty break room a few minutes later, he ran right into a rather frightened looking Jenna Brown. Sensing how distraught she was, Blair gently took her by the arm and led her out of the room, oblivious to the scorching gaze given him by the unnoticed third party left behind in the room.
Pausing in the dark hallway, Blair turned the young women towards him. "Jenna what is it? What's wrong? Did someone frighten you?" Blair remained careful to keep his emphatic dial down at two. He didn't want to chance a repeat performance of his last zone. It had knocked him out flat for nearly ten hours.
Jenna looked up at the young anthropology teacher and practically shuddered, wrenching her arm out of his gentle hold she finally found her voice. "Mr. Sandburg, you---you might want to be careful. I---I can't talk about this right now. I'm so sorry." She turned to leave but was stopped as Blair reached out again for her arm.
"Wait a minute Jenna, does this have something to do with Christy? If it does you need to tell me what you know." Jenna shook her head, her eyes darting nervously from side to side as if watching for someone. "Jenna please," Blair tried again. "I thought she was your best friend, don't you want her killer brought to justice? Please, if you won't talk to me, here" Blair handed her a card he'd pulled from his pocket. It had the number to Jim's phone at the precinct on it. "At least call Detective Ellison and let him know about anything you've come across okay?"
Jenna snatched the card from Blair and with a quick nod, darted off into the darkness and disappeared from view.
Blair walked back to his cramped office, completely forgetting about the tea he had been in search of only moments before. As he turned to go into his office, he paused and glanced around the nearly pitch-black hallway. He wasn't quite sure why, but he felt as if someone was watching him, hidden within the velvety black expanse. It was getting late, and most of the lights had been turned off except for a few hallway lights here and there. The darkness made it hard for Blair to see if anyone indeed WAS actually out there. Cursing himself for not having Jim's sentinel eyes, Blair finally gave up. Glancing once more around the empty hallway, Blair finally headed back into his office shutting his door firmly behind him.
A few hours later Blair could be found faintly cursing to himself as he was seated on the floor of the Rainer's large artifact storage facility. Glancing at his watch he noted the time was now well past midnight, the time he had originally intended on being home. Eyeing his nearby backpack, Blair thought of the cell phone inside of it. Briefly he debated whether or not he should call Jim, know the sentinel was probably standing watch on the balcony of the loft, awaiting the return of his absent guide. As if reading his mind, the cell phone rang to life, sounding shrill and intrusive in the intense silence of the storage room. Snagging the phone, Blair flipped it open, and answered the incoming call.
"Sandburg, where are you!!" Jim's slightly distorted voice was impatient. Blair could easily picture the sentinel, arms folded across his broad muscular chest, chiseled face formed into a scowl that sent fear into criminals everywhere.
"Easy big guy, I'm still here at the university, working on these stupid artifacts. I know I told you I'd be home around midnight. Sorry I'm running late, I lost track of time." Blair chose to ignore the rather rude snort on the other line.
"Sandburg, that would be the purpose of the watch you're currently wearing, to keep TRACK of time, not lose it." Blair rolled his eyes wincing at his friend's attempt at humor, as he pulled a large staff from behind several boxes where it had been partially hidden.
"Jim man, I'm pleading on behalf of all mankind, leave the jokes in more capable hands!" Blair grunted as he finally dislodged the staff from it's hiding place. Taking in its appearance, he found it to be a beautiful piece of work, hand crafted and light in weight. For a moment he found himself wondering if this could be something the sentinels of old carried with them while protecting their tribe.
Jim stopped his agitated pacing of the loft to deliver another indignant snort at Blair's ribbing. "Chief, I'll have you know that they are many people who find me to be rather amusing."
This time Blair snorted "Man, there is a marked difference from desperate women telling you that you are funny, and actually BEING funny?" Blair's voiced trailed off at the end.
Jim waited patiently for a moment, then became concerned when his friend's heart rate shot through the roof. "Chief, what is it? What's wrong?" When no answer was forthcoming, save for the increased panting on the other end from Blair, Jim panicked. "Blair, what is it!!" he practically yelled into the phone.
When Blair's voice finally came back on the line, it was soft and sounded haunted. "Jim man, I---I think I've found the murder weapon we've been looking for."
Jim frowned; not liking the way Blair was sounding. "Chief, I need you to calm down, you are going to hyperventilate soon it you don't settle down here."
Blair tried his best to comply, having a hard time accomplishing this task while holding onto the very thing he was sure had killed his friend Christy, and Professor Ackley. When he felt calm enough, he continued explaining the situation to his partner. "Jim man, I just found this long round staff sort of hidden behind several boxes. It looked like someone had tried to clean blood off of it, but I can still see a little. The killer probably figured since the staff has engravings all over it, some of which are red, no one would notice if he didn't get it all."
As Jim was listening to Blair and absorbing this information, he began putting on his shoes. Grabbing his keys and a light jacket, he paused to give Blair an instruction. "Chief, I want you to listen very carefully to me. I want you to stop what you're doing and take the staff and high tale it out of there. It's late and more than likely with your luck, the killer is probably lurking around there somewhere. Head to your office, I'm leaving here now and should be there in a few minutes. I'll call for back up." Without waiting for Blair's acknowledgement, Jim hung up, and called Simon.
Blair warily glanced around his surroundings as he gathered up his backpack, placing his phone inside. Shifting the backpack onto his left shoulder, he stood up and grabbed the staff. With one last look around, he quickly left the storage room.
The figure hiding in the darkness frowned. Things were not going at all as he had planned. He had wanted to kill that little irritant Sandburg right then and there, but then the pest's stupid cell phone had went off. He'd been able to figure out from the kid's conversation that he was talking to that ignorant cop, and as much as he wanted to kill Sandburg, he really didn't want the cop running to the rescue and interfering with his carefully laid plans. No problem, he'd simply have to adjust his timeframe a little bit. No problem at all.
Moving silently from his darkened hiding place not far from where Blair had found the hidden staff, the murderer followed the young man from the room.
Blair opened the door to his office; his heart practically pounding in it's way into his throat. He couldn't seem to shake the eerie feeling he had that someone was watching him. Moving quickly past the doorframe he turned to shut the door, only to have his efforts halted midway. Blair slowly backed away from the open doorway, his heart having finally lodged itself it his throat. Remembering the staff in his right hand, he placed it in front of himself, prepared to use it to defend himself. The looming figure in the darkened doorway took a menacing step forward, and as he passed into the soft light spilling forth from the small desk lamp his identity became crystal clear in the soft light.
Blair gasped, wondering when and how his current situation had taken such a drastic downfall. Blair swore he could actually feel his heart stop, as the man he had thought he knew so well took another step forward. He prayed silently that Jim was on his way.
Blair allowed his backpack to slide off his shoulder and onto the floor as he grabbed hold of the staff with his other hand. Noting that the man before him had stopped moving forward, he began to take stock of the situation. He was armed for once and judging the wall of a man in front of him, he was probably going to have to resort to violence. Taking a deep breath, he spoke with an air of calmness that belied the churning going on in his intestinal regions at the moment.
"What can I do for you Professor Cummings?" The older man smiled a polite smile as if they were just having a little impromptu meeting about university matters.
"Oh please, let's not insult each other's intelligence by claiming not to know WHY I'm here. Why don't you ask me a better one like, why did I kill the others? Surely your wracking your brain as we speak to figure that one out aren't you?" Blair involuntarily flinched as the larger man leaned towards him.
Cummings smiled again; this was going better than he could have ever hoped for. The large prematurely graying man sat down in a chair next to Blair's desk. "Since you seem loathe to ask, I'll spell it out for you little Blair." Crossing his legs, and placing his hands on his knees, Rigel Cummings began what he felt was an interesting tale of passion gone wrong.
"Ms. Patricia Ackley and I were lovers. Does that surprise you?" Rigel inquired as he heard Blair gasp at that admission. "We were. And quite happy for many years mind you. That is until YOU came along."
Leaning forward in his seat, Rigel began to lose some of his forced congeniality, as his face began to harden in remembered anger.
"Patricia and I had agreed to keep our lover affair private, so as not to feed the rampant gossip mongers here on campus. Surely you've had your share of troubles with the campus gossip, why they ran with that little drowning incident of yours for weeks. Of course, I was sorry to see you recover, would have saved me the trouble I'm currently going through now."
Blair had had about enough of Cummings ramblings. His fear began to give way to a slow boiling rage, as he gripped the staff so tight, the blood began to drain from his hands. "Just get to the point."
Professor Cummings eyes narrowed and all semblance of polite chatter quickly vanished. "Fine Blairry Boy, listen up. Patricia began to get a serious crush on you, so much so she tried unsuccessfully to end it with me on several occasions. But of course I would not hear of it. She finally claimed to be over you, but I knew better. Which brings us to the here and now. I figured she would want to have you be her 'special little assistant' on that so-called 'special project'. Bet you didn't even know that there WAS no project. She was just trying to find a way to make time with you." Rigel began to fidget angrily in his chair, his face beginning to flush slightly. Taking a moment to compose himself he continued.
"But I beat her to the punch, signed you up as MY assistant. Ooh, that steamed her good. She ranted and raved a good one she did. She was furious to have been stuck with young Miss Lomack. In fact your young friend happened upon my lover and I while we were arguing outside of the university. She overheard me tell Patricia that I'd rather KILL you then to continue to allow you to come between us. She threatened to report our affair and my little threat to you. I tried to reason with the little wench, but she got away in her car. But this is where we get to the good part." Rigel took this opportunity to rise from his seated position, and draw himself up to his full height of 6 feet 7 inches.
"I followed her, and as soon as she pulled her car over and opened her door, I attacked. It was easy, she was so small, and of course it helped that I had caught her completely off guard. She wasn't very smart you see. I happened to have that handy little object you're holding there in my car, I had intended to study it at home later, but it was handy so I used it. I didn't want to kill her, but she wouldn't listen to reason. So I did what needed to be done to shut her up. No one was around, no witnesses it was perfect. That is until
Patricia began to get antsy. You and your idiot cop friend scared her quite well with your little interrogation. She called me to her office asking me to bring the staff. She wanted to burn the thing to get rid of any evidence linking us to the young woman's murder. Let's just say she and I didn't quite see eye to eye on the matter. What can I say, she made me angry, and I was tired of her catty little games. And you know what Blairry boy? Even in the end she still asked for you, your name on her lips as she took her last breath!!" Cummings voice had now risen in pitch to a nearly frantic scream. "Well, so this brings us to now doesn't it boy, and since you seem to be the main focus of all my worries and woes, I think its time to bring your life to an end." With those words Rigel began to advance on Blair.
Jim ran up the university stairs, taking them two at a time. He knew he'd broken at least 10 different traffic laws getting there, but he didn't care. His guide was in danger, how he knew that he couldn't explain. At least not explain in the conventional manner. Jim knew he possessed some type of sixth sense when it came to his partner and guide. Something felt off tonight and Jim had a bad feeling that something was going to go down. And of course, as always, it was going down around his guide.
Once the night watchman let Jim into the university after flashing him his badge, he began the long trek towards Blair's office. Focusing his hearing, he honed in on his guide's heartbeat as he prowled along the dimly lit corridors. Frowning he paused, when he registered the rapid staccato beat that belonged to Blair. Tilting his head slightly, he also picked up the heartbeat of another. Turning up his listening dial further as he resumed walking, he began to pick up snatches of a conversation. What he overheard caused the sentinel to break out into a full run.
Blair could barely contain his rage at finding out his friend had been murdered because of some insane lover's quarrel. Watching the madman before him begin to move, Blair raised his staff higher in defense, feeling his heated anger give way to rage. Concentrating so hard on the man before him, Blair began to lose control of his internal dial, and his empathy came wide open. Without realizing it, he began to absorb Cummings rage until it filled his being. The anger within him became so intense, he swore all he could see was the color red. His body began to tremble as he managed to find a voice to speak with.
"You mean to tell me Christy DIED because you didn't want anyone to find out about your stupid affair?"Blair hissed between tightly clenched teeth.
Rigel ignored Blair's scathing comment, and reached inside his jacket to reveal a large hunting knife. The knife was caught in the soft glow of the lamp and the flash momentarily distracted Blair.
Cummings took advantage of this and lunged at Blair, who moved just fast enough to avoid being stabbed in the chest. The knife sliced through Blair's left bicep, laying the muscle open. But Blair barely even registered the pain as he bought the staff down swiftly on the older man's head. Cummings dropped to the floor moaning in pain as his hands moved to feel the blood flowing from a wound on his head. He attempted to reach for the knife which had fallen from his hands, but soon received another blow from the young guide. Fury and rage were finally allowed to take hold of his actions, and Blair began to beat the two-time murderer soundly.
Jim almost wouldn't have believed the sight before as he pushed open the door to Sandburg's office if he hadn't witnessed it with his own eyes.
A large man lay on the floor still and unmoving, while Blair continued to strike him with the staff. The look in the young man's eyes was one that Jim had never witnessed before, and hoped to never see again in his lifetime. Fearing the young man had completely lost control, Jim called to him. "BLAIR! BLAIR! Stop!! It's over. You got 'em buddy, it's alright it's over." The young man finally ceased striking Cummings, and dropped his arms to his side. He stood deathly still, staring down at the crumpled form lying at his feet.
Jim slowly moved towards Blair, not wanting to spook his friend anymore than he already was. "Blair buddy, are you with me here?" The sentinel's worry began to increase, as Blair made no move to show he'd heard a word his friend had just said. The young man just continued to stare blankly at the figure on the floor.
"Blair, buddy I---I need you to put the staff down okay? Everything's going to be all right. Just put the staff down." Jim pleaded.
Blair finally registered someone else had entered the room. His eyes landed on a man before him, speaking words he didn't understand, gesturing towards the staff in his hands, now slick with the blood of Cummings. Blair blinked once, then shook his head as if trying to clear it. He then dropped the staff as if it were a hot poker, as realization of what had just transpired hit him full force.
Jim watched as Blair suddenly dropped the staff and backed quickly into a corner in the office. Jim knelt down quickly by the fallen professor, and after performing a quick scan, found him to be alive, but just barely. He spotted a large knife just a few inches away from the unconscious man's hand, and saw that is was stained with blood. His sentinel senses quickly confirmed it was the blood of his guide.
Turning his attention back to Blair, he noticed for the first time the gaping wound on the man' upper left arm. It was bleeding profusely, and Jim knew he needed to get his friend some medical attention soon.
"Blair buddy, it's okay, it's me ---Jim" Blair didn't move as Jim advanced on him slowly so as not to startle the already frightened young man. He stood before his traumatized young guide, and gently laid his hands on the man's shoulders. Blair seemed to finally shake out of his trance, and really looked at his sentinel for the first time. Finally recognizing the man that stood before him, Blair began to speak.
"Jim" he gasped. "He k-k-killed Christy a-and A-Ackley. H--He was going to try to kill me, I hit him, and I-I couldn't stop. His anger so-so much--couldn't tune it out." Blair barely managed to stutter, before he began to zone again. The loss of blood and fading adrenaline rush proved to be too much, and Blair's eyes slid shut, and he began to slide to the floor.
Jim had been closely monitoring his guide and reached out for him as he passed out, laying the young man gently on the floor. Checking Blair's pulse he found it to be strong, but a little fast. Taking advantage of the fact the young man was now unconscious; Jim examined the stab wound. Grimacing when he realized the blade had cut Blair all the way down to the bone; he quickly took action to stop the bleeding.
Taking off his jacket, he pulled off the T-shirt he was wearing, and wrapped the bleeding wound. Tying it tightly around Blair's arm, he then pressed on the wound with his right hand. With the other hand he lightly tapped Blair on the face attempting to rouse the young man. So focused on his partner was he, that Jim didn't even hear Simon and the backup arrive.
"What in the name of God happened here Detective!!" Simon bellowed, shocked at the scene laid out before him. Simon was shocked to see Jim kneeling over an injured and unconscious Blair, while not to far away lay a rather large man, who had apparently been beat within an inch of his life. The captain briefly closed his eyes and prayed that what he was thinking had happened, hadn't. He prayed Ellison had not beaten that man, especially so severely. Directing the first set of paramedics towards Cummings lifeless body, he again turned to his best friend. "Jim, what is going on. What happened." Jim just continued murmuring softly to Blair, his back to the captain.
Simon frowned when Jim did not respond to his question. "Detective Ellison. What happened here."
When Jim finally glanced up, Simon was nearly undone by the profound sadness he saw on the man's face.
Jim merely shook his head, too overcome with emotion to speak. Turning his back on his worried captain, Jim gently nudged his partner good arm. "It's all over Blair. You did well, I need you to come back to me, please buddy. I need you to snap out of it." Blair remained unresponsive to his pleas, much to Jim's dismay.
Simon's unusually soft voice broke through Jim's frantic pleadings. "Come on Jim, let the medics take over, Blair needs them right now. He'll be fine." Reaching down he gently placed a reassuring hand on the sentinel's shoulder.
Jim reluctantly surrendered his guide's well being to that of the waiting paramedics. They worked efficiently, handling Blair as gently as possible, as though sensing the detective's distress. After applying a pressure bandage on the stab wound, they placed the limp young man onto the gurney, and wheeled him swiftly from the room. Rising from his position on the floor as if in a daze, Jim was suddenly overwhelmed by the stench of blood. Dialing his sense of smell down to almost zero, Jim turned to his captain who was busy directing the working of the crime scene. Once done Simon came immediately over to his troubled detective. Simon frowned slightly; he had never seen Jim look so lost and despondent. He took his friend gently by the arm, and led him out of the cramped office.
"He's going to be fine Jim. Come on; let's get you to the hospital. He'll be looking for you. You can fill me in on what happened here on the way." Jim nodded briefly and silently followed Simon.
Simon glanced over at his stone like friend wondering for the hundredth time exactly what was going on in the man's mind. Jim had haltingly related what had happened from the moment he had called Blair from the loft, to the moment Simon had arrived on the scene. Simon still had a hard time believing that Sandburg had lost it bad enough to beat Cummings so viciously, but then stranger things had happened. Simon then went on to relate how he'd arrived so quickly on the scene. Apparently the 911 dispatch had received an anonymous phone call regarding an assault in progress involving one Blair Sandburg. Knowing Blair's penchant for getting hurt, Simon then called in for an ambulance to arrive on the scene, just in case Blair needed it. Which of course, true to form, he had.
Once the two men had brought each other up to date, Jim had gone silent and not so much as blinked since.
Simon knew Jim was listening to the hospital staff work on his friend. Blair's stab wound to his arm had been a nasty one, and he had lost a fair amount of blood in his struggle with Cummings.
Sighing deeply to ready himself for a dose of the patented Ellison freeze out, Simon turned to his troubled friend. "Jim, I know something else besides all that's happened tonight is bothering you. What is it, what's on your mind?"
Surprisingly Jim didn't stiffen up and freeze Simon out; instead he slumped down further in the chair and regarded the captain with weary eyes. "I?I don't know, it's the whole thing, the murders, Blair being attacked, man I swear Simon, I'll NEVER forget how enraged Blair was when I made it to his office. It was like it wasn't even him! It freaked me out Simon, how bad is that? It actually freaked me out." Jim leaned forward placing his elbows on his knees, resting his face in the palms of his hands. His whole demeanor screaming defeat.
Simon knew he needed to choose his next words very carefully. "Jim are you sure that's what it is? Are you actually saying that you're frightened of Blair?" Jim jerked as if stung by Simon's words. "No, that's not what I meant, I---I guess I feel I failed Blair as a guide for his empathy. I mean, when I came into his office, he?he looked as if he'd taken in all of Cummings hate into himself. He couldn't control it; it seemed to consume him. Lord Simon, he was beating the man half to death!!" Jim paused as he jumped up from the hard hospital waiting room chair, and proceeded to pace the corridors. "I should have been there with him. I failed him as HIS guide and Blessed Protector!!"
Simon shook his head emphatically. "NO Jim, you did nothing to fail your guide. You got there as soon as you were able. You were able to reach through the zone and get Blair stop beating Cummings. Blair was attacked and he defended himself, a bit overmuch, but then our Blair never does anything halfway."
Wanting to get through to the distraught man before him, Simon rose and halted Jim's pacing, placing a hand on each of the sentinel's tense shoulders. "He is new to his ability sentinel, as he helped you get past your mistakes regarding your gifts, so must you get him past this. You know how Blair feels about violence; this will tear him up unless you are there to help him deal with this. Do you understand me sentinel, do you accept your duties to comfort and care for your guides soul?"
Jim was almost too stunned by Simon's eloquent speech to answer. He'd never heard his captain speak so passion and understanding regarding the sentinel business. It was so unlike Simon's usual dismissive attitude regarding Blair and his abilites. "Yes, I understand, and accept my responsibilities." Jim finally managed to speak.
Simon smiled gently at his surprised friend. Patting him on his shoulders, he admonished his friend. "Don't be so surprised sentinel. I am finally learning my role in protecting the tribe, and that involves protecting you and the guide." Seeming to suddenly shift back to the old Simon he knew so well, he spoke again. "Besides, now that I've seen what kind of a whumpin Blair can deliver, I don't want to cross that young man. You did get a good look a Cummings didn't you." Simon smiled broadly, laughing softly to himself as he sat back down in his chair.
Jim had to laugh at that mental picture Simon's statement conjured up in spite of himself. Any witty reply he might have made was quickly for gotten though, as Blair's doctor finally approached them to inform them of their friend's condition.
Jim and Simon slowly entered the dimly lit hospital room, Jim immediately honing in on the pale figure lying motionless in the bed. Blair's arm was neatly bandaged having received over forty stitches to close the gaping wound. The doctor had assured Jim and Simon that the arm would recover, as long as Blair had physical therapy to help strengthen the injured muscle tissue. The doctor however was concerned that they had not been able to rouse the young man since his arrival at the hospital. Jim had then panicked, asking if his friend was in a coma, but the doctor had assured him that Blair was merely unconscious and would hopefully awaken soon.
Jim quietly sat down in the chair next to Blair's bed, and lowered the guard railing, while Simon remained hidden in the shadows by the door, a silent witness watchful should he be needed. Jim took in his friends vitals, satisfied that they were now much closer to normal. Taking his guides hand into his own, he began to speak softly to his friend, calling him back from where ever he'd gone.
Time lost all meaning for the sentinel, as he continued to speak softly to his guide, watchful for any change in the young man before him. Slowly he began to lose himself in his words, focusing to closely on Blair's heartbeat; he began to lose his tentative control and slid into a light zone.
Soon he felt a strong hand rest on his shoulder, and a deep voice rumble through the haze of the zone. "Sentinel, your guide is awake."
Jim jerked awake from the zoneout, and saw two blue eyes gazing fuzzily at him. Blair gently squeezed Jim's hand, and looked questioningly into his eyes. The hand on Jim's shoulder gently squeezed, and then the deep voice spoke again. "I'll leave you two alone now. I'll go check on Cummings" with that final statement, the leader of the tribe was gone, leaving the sentinel to comfort his wounded guide.
One month later-
Blair relaxed into the chair he was seated in on the loft's balcony, and breathed in the fresh spring air. Closing his eyes, he allowed his thoughts to wander, as he soaked up the sunshine's calming rays. Opening his eyes, he registered a light itch spreading down the long scar of his left arm. Absently moving his right hand to provide relief from the irritating sensation by scratching it, Blair thoughts drifted to the man who had caused this wound.
Upon waking in the hospital over a month ago from a rage-induced zone, Blair had been informed by Jim that Cummings had indeed survived his beating. Professor Cummings had sustained 6 broken ribs, one broken arm, a concussion, and a fractured thighbone at the hands of one Blair Sandburg. Blair had been relieved beyond words to find out he hadn't killed the man, but harbored a disconcerting sense of satisfaction at having caused him pain. No matter how hard he tried, Blair could not feel remorse over what he'd done, and he felt it was the least the man deserved for the violent murders he committed over some fractured love affair. He still mourned the loss of his beautiful friend Christy, who had lost her life so young and senselessly because of some deranged man's agenda.
Professor Cummings was still recovering from his injuries, and was under constant police guard, until he could be reprimanded to jail pending his courtdate. Shortly after the ambulance had brought Blair and Cummings to Cascade General, police had been dispatched to search Cummings car and home for evidence linking him to the murders of the two women. The police had, under the watchful eye of one Captain Banks, had been able to find blood and hair and clothing fibers belonging to Christy Lomack and Professor P. Ackley. They were able to even find one of the rubber gloves the man had wore in an alley behind his home, flaked with dried blood. And of course it helped that Cummings had signed a full confession, apparently loath to have to come face to face with Blair anytime soon. Of course it probably helped that a certain police detective had taken it upon himself to grace Cummings with a little impromptu visit while in the hospital. Whatever Ellison had said to the man in private worked, Rigel Cummings had immediately requested an audience with Captain Banks, and offered up a full confession.
Blair had attended Christy's funeral just a couple of days after being admitted to the hospital. Jim had wanted to argue with his guide, given Blair's weakened condition from the stabbing, but had relented. One look at his guide told Jim how important it was for the young man to honor his friend's memory, so he relented and convinced the hospital to release Blair early. Jim had driven his silent friend to the funeral, and stayed by his side the whole time, protecting his guide from the emotions of those around him, preventing him from becoming lost in a zone.
Blair smiled fondly as he reflected back oh how much their friendship had changed over the last few weeks.
Jim had gained a new understanding of how hard it was for Blair to get an uncooperative sentinel to do tests, as he tried to test an even more stubborn guide. Blair found himself being much more patient with Jim and his reluctance to sometimes open up about problems pertaining to his senses, as he found himself often in the same boat. Sentinel and guide were able to work through these small obstacles, and as a result the union between them had grown stronger. Though they still argued back and forth occasionally, both were much more at ease with their roles in protecting their tribe.
Taking a sip of the ice tea that had been chilling quite nicely next to him on the balcony, Blair closed his eyes and took a calming breath. He tentatively reached out with his empathy to see if he could determine his sentinel's whereabouts in the loft. He easily picked up on Jim's profound good mood emanating from the kitchen, as the detective set about fixing dinner for them. Pleased with his progress concerning his new gift, Blair allowed Jim's calming emotions to soothe away all thoughts of Cummings and his healing injury.
Smiling again to himself, Blair slid further down into his chair, and let the peaceful emotions of his friend lull him into a blissful sleep.