Rafe knew he hadn’t been part of Major Crimes long enough to be aware of all the little nuances of the closely-knit group, but he could easily tell when things were not right. There seemed to be an almost palatable tension permeating the bullpen, and nearest he could tell, it centered on one Blair Jacob Sandburg.
Rafe had watched silently from his desk when Ellison and Sandburg had first come in to work. Ellison was wearing his usual ‘hard as nails’ mask, while Sandburg’s face was unusually grim. Instead of the brotherly banter the two friends seemed to enjoy sharing with one another, in its place was a tense silence.
Rafe had then glanced over at his partner Henry Brown, and raised his eyes in a silent question. Henry had merely shrugged, the look on his face clearly sending the message ‘stay out of it.’ Rafe had then rolled his eyes in understanding, and returned his attention to the never ending pile of paperwork that seem to leech its way from Henry’s desk onto his. A few moments later all thoughts of Blair and Jim were banished from his mind as he got lost in his work.
An hour later all thoughts of the never ending paperwork were quickly interrupted as sounds of an escalating argument permeated Rafe’s work laden thoughts.
“Back off man, I’m warning you.” Blair hissed from his seat across from Jim, completely unaware of the attention their argument was getting from the rest of the bullpen.
“No, I won’t! Something is wrong with you, and I want to know what it is. And I’m through playing games chief, and I’m beyond sick of the attitude.” Jim looked up from his desk, anger evident in his tone of voice. He was tired of his friend’s surliness, and he’d had about enough of the silent treatment he’d been getting for the last few days.
Blair closed his eyes as if battling to control his emotions, and rose stiffly to his feet. Opening his eyes he glared pointedly at his sentinel.
“I’d be FINE, if you’d just leave me alone.” Blair snatched up his jacket and backpack in a huff, and stormed out of Major Crimes.
Blair practically slammed his office door shut, as he threw his backpack across the crowded room. Agitatedly running his hands through his chestnut curls, he tried to find his center to calm himself down. Blair hadn’t meant to argue again with Jim, but lately it seemed to be all he could do to remain civil to the man. For the life of him, Blair couldn’t figure out why he was so angry with the sentinel, he just knew that he was.
Shrugging off the negative thoughts and their accompanying bad energy, Blair began to go over his lesson plan for his two o’clock Anthro 101 class. He’d deal with his misplaced anger later, and once again apologize to the sentinel.
Blair was so deep into his teaching notes that he didn’t hear the door open to his office. A soft voice nearly caused the guide to jump out of his skin. Looking up nervously, he was relieved to find it was only a fellow TA.
“Blair?” The pretty young Chelsea attempted to gain the teaching fellow’s attention. “Are you all right, you seem awfully tense.”
“Uh, yeah. Just startled me there Chelsea.” Blair smiled warmly at his friend. Gesturing towards the seat in front of his desk, Blair spoke. “Have a seat Chelsea, and tell me what’s on that pretty mind of yours.”
Chelsea grinned, shaking her long red hair over her slim shoulders. Her brown eyes flashed playfully as she shared a little harmless flirting with her friend. “Well, o handsome one, I was just dropping by before my next class to see if you liked that meditation tape I gave you a few days ago.”
“Oh, yeah, totally loved it. I was under so long one time, my roommate began to worry about me.” Blair frowned a bit upon reflecting back on that particular memory. “Anyway, it was great.”
Chelsea fairly beamed at this admission. “Great! I’ve got another one for you; my sister sent it from home. And I made a copy for you.” She handed the tape over to Blair, and rose from her seat.
“I hate to run, but my class is in like” Chelsea glanced at her watch. “Oh shoot, five minutes, gotta run handsome, catch ya later.” And with that whirlwind Chelsea was gone.
Blair smiled to himself as he gazed at the tape he now held in his hands. Chelsea Turner was proving to be a very good friend, but he was loath to pursue the relationship any further than that. The young TA had just moved to Cascade and started attending Rainer a month ago. Blair had instantly spotted the pretty young woman, absolutely captivated by her deep brown eyes, and flowing red mane. They had become fast friends, and had discovered they shared many of the same likes and dislikes. Primarily the fact they both loved to meditate. Chelsea had given Blair the first tape almost a week ago, and he’d used it practically everyday since.
Glancing at the clock on his desk, Blair realized he was dangerously close to being late for his own class. Dropping the tape in his backpack, he grabbed his teaching materials, and was out the door.
Jim scowled at the paperwork scattered across his desk, wishing for at least the hundredth time in the last couple of hours that Blair was there to help. But no, they’d argued again and the young man had stormed out in a huff. In fact, the sentinel mused; Blair had been doing a lot of that lately. The sentinel could sense something was amiss, but couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Every time he questioned Blair, the young man would clam up with the same standard line ‘everything’s fine.’ Jim was growing weary of it, and something was going to have to change soon.
Rubbing a hand across his face, Jim suddenly felt old and weary. Being a guide to Blair and helping him with his empathy was not going as well as either of them had originally hoped. Truth be told, Jim wanted things to go back the way they were before all of this had happened. Blair was much more suited to guide, than he was, and as far as Jim was concerned, Blair could have the job all to himself.
Giving the obtrusive paperwork one last scowl for good measure, Jim vacated his desk and began to make his way toward the break room for a little caffeine pick-me-up. He’d just made it to the door of Major Crimes when a loud booming voice demanded his attention.
“Jim, come in my office for a minute.” Simon bellowed from his office door.
Jim sighed while gazing longingly at his empty coffee mug. With another sigh, he sat the mug down, and went to see what his captain wanted.
“Well?” Simon gazed expectantly at his friend, waiting for him to open up about whatever was bothering the younger man.
“Well what captain?” Jim looked puzzled.
With a heavy sigh, Simon tried again. “Jim, from one friend to another. What is wrong? There has been a lot of tension in my bullpen the last few days, and this mornings little shouting match was the icing on the cake.” Pausing to let his comments sink in, Simon watched with great interest as several emotions fought for control of Jim Ellison’s face. Despair finally won the battle.
“I don’t know what it is Simon. The last week or so Blair and I have constantly been at odds, and it’s starting to wear on me.” Jim practically slumped down in his chair, his body language screaming defeat. “He won’t even do ANY of the tests I’ve come up with for this empathy thing, and I gotta tell ya, I came up with some pretty good ones if I do say so myself!” A loud snort from the general direction of Simon caused the sentinel to halt his flow of words.
“Jim,” Simon tried very hard to keep his amusement at his best detective’s current problem out of his voice. “I can’t help but think about the fact that Blair has been in my office with the same complaint many many times, and he seems to always figure out a way around the problem. I’m sure you can too.”
Jim frowned slightly at this comment, slowly considering the truth in his friend’s words. Finally with a wry smile, he stood up from his chair in the captain’s office. “I’ll take care of it, Simon.”
Simon simply smiled. “See that you do.”
Jim arrived home quite a few hours later to find Sandburg meditating in his bedroom once again.
Well maybe at least he’ll find his stupid center, and get rid of what ever bug’s been up his rear lately. The sentinel mused to himself, as he hung up his jacket and dropped his keys into the basket.
Jim flicked on the television set, and turned to CNN for a little background noise as he prepared dinner. Jim knew it was Blair’s turn to cook, but he figured he’d make dinner tonight, as a peace offering to his young friend. Rummaging around in the kitchen cabinets, he finally settled on making spaghetti with garlic toast, thinking that he might even throw in a salad for good measure.
An hour later, dinner was complete and the dining room table was set. Jim glanced towards his guide’s room with a slight frown on his face. The kid hadn’t even acknowledged the sentinel was home yet. Blair had to be able to smell the dinner's heavy aroma. Frowning further, Jim opened up his senses and took in his guide’s vitals. The young man’s heartbeat and respiration seemed a little slow for meditating. Coming to a decision, Jim knocked on Blair’s French doors. Upon receiving no response, he tentatively opened them.
“Blair?” Jim questioned as he gazed down at the figure seated on the floor next to the small futon bed. Blair didn’t answer, so Jim reached out and gently shook the young man’s shoulder. “Hey chief, come on out of it, dinner’s ready.” The sentinel gently commanded, frustrated when he still received no response from his guide.
Shaking Blair a little more forcefully this time, Jim tried again. “Blair! That’s enough now, snap out of it.” The effect on the young man was instantaneous. Blair practically leapt out of his skin, as he violently came back to awareness. Blinking confusedly at the blurry face before him, Blair managed to find his voice. “Wha-what is it man?”
Jim closed his eyes slowly and took a calming breath. “Blair how long were you under this time? Your skin is like ice, and your lips are practically turning blue.” Roughly pulling Blair to his feet, he helped sit the slightly dazed young man down on the bed. Jim kept a hand on one of Blair’s shoulders, while the young man tried to pull himself together.
“Chief, you’ve gotta stop going in so deep! What if I hadn’t been home to snap you out of it, huh?” Jim didn’t get to finish his sentence, as Blair yanked himself out of Jim’s grasp.
“Don’t start with me Jim. I was fine. I didn’t need you to snap me out of it, I’m a big boy.” Blair testily replied, as he rubbed shaky hands over his haggard face.
That comment was the straw that broke Jim Ellison’s patient back. Rising to his full height, Jim started to read his errant guide the riot act.
“That’s it Sandburg, I’m through with coddling you and this week long temper tantrum. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?!?” Jim voice nearly shattered the French door’s leading to Blair’s room.
A rare expression of pure rage crossed the usually positive guide’s face. “I’m warning you Ellison” Blair’s voice had grown heavy with barely restrained anger. “Back off now.” Blair made a move to storm past his fuming sentinel, but a large hand grabbed hold of his arm, preventing his hasty exit. The younger man tried to jerk his arm out of the sentinel’s vise like grip, but to no avail, as the sentinel roughly shoved the younger man back on the bed.
“NO, I am NOT going to back off. I don’t know what’s happening to you, but it isn’t good.” Jim paused briefly taking in his guide’s angry countenance. Gazing heavenward, as if to gain strength, Jim tried again. “Blair, you gotta know I’m asking you what’s wrong as a friend. Have I done something to upset you?” When a look Jim couldn’t quite place crossed his guide’s expressive face Jim pressed on. “That’s it isn’t it. I’ve done something to upset you. Why don’t you tell me what it is buddy.” Jim knelt down on the floor in front of his guide forcing the young man to look into his eyes.
Blair exhaled deeply and felt all the rage leave his body in a rush. He honestly didn’t know why he had gotten so upset with his best friend, but he had. He’d been mired so deeply in meditation he didn’t even sense the sentinel had come home. When Jim had snapped him out to the trance he’d felt a deep burning rage suddenly fill his soul, and he’d lashed out once again at the unsuspecting man. He was growing just as weary of his ever-changing emotions as his friend was. And he knew it was way past time for him to apologize.
“I’m sorry Jim, I know you're trying to help, but I honestly don’t know what’s wrong with me. I----I just have been tense lately and I can’t seem to shake it.” Blair smiled softly by way of apology, hoping to make amends for his earlier actions.
Jim relaxed his grip on Blair’s arm and hesitantly returned the young man’s smile. As a thought crossed his mind, Jim began to frown again. “You say you’ve been tense. Usually when you meditate you’re as loose as a noodle when you come out of it. Where is your emphatic dial at right now?” Jim inquired. Though he and Blair had made lots of progress in learning to control Blair’s newfound empathy, they still had a lot of work to do. Sometimes Blair would have trouble keeping the dial turned down when he became too tense, or overworked himself.
“Uh---I don’t know around 5 or 6 I guess.” Blair shrugged.
Jim’s frown increased slightly at the off-handed way Blair responded. Deciding to let matters alone for now, Jim admonished his guide. “Turn the dial all the way down for now buddy, and come and eat. I slaved all evening over dinner and the least you could do is join me to eat.” Jim stood up, and patiently waited for his friend to follow suit.
The sentinel watched as Blair’s eyes briefly closed as the young man turned the dial down. Once the last of his tension drained from his face, the guide opened his eyes and flashed his friend a genuine smile. “Thanks man, I’m starved.”
Jim closed the front door to the loft secretly pleased to note his guide wasn’t home yet. Hanging up his coat and tossing his keys and wallet aside, Jim strode over to the couch in the living room and flopped down on it. The last few days had been tough, and Jim relished the chance to be alone.
Despite his assurances to Simon, and the effort he’d made the other night to make amends with Blair, the tension between the two partners had grown worse. Jim had spent the night after the argument listening to Blair toss and turn in his sleep, murmuring words and phrases that the sentinel couldn’t make sense of. When he’d finally had enough, he’d went down to wake the young man, only to get another healthy dose of Blair’s hostility. Giving up, the sentinel had stalked off to bed.
Neither partner had mentioned the episode the next morning, and each had went their separate ways both angry and brooding. Jim had given up trying to reason with Blair, and merely focused on remaining civil. Blair, on the other hand, seemed not to even want to go that far. He barely spoke to Jim, and stayed away from the loft as much as humanely possible, coming home only to sleep.
The sound of the phone ringing snapped the sentinel out of his thoughts. Snatching it up he gave a perfunctory greeting.
“Hi, this is Chelsea. Is Blair home?” The honey sweet voice on the line purred.
Jim scowled. He didn’t like Chelsea. Something about the young woman set off all his sentinel-alert systems, though he couldn’t quite pinpoint why. He’d broached the subject with Sandburg once, only to be rebuffed with a curt “Gees Jim, she wouldn’t hurt a fly. Gotta tone down that sentinel radar man.” Jim hadn’t brought her name up since then.
With a resigned sigh, he answered her. “No he’s not home, and I have no idea when he’ll get here either.” Jim waited impatiently for the young woman to reply.
“Thanks anyway. Sorry to have disturbed you Jim” Chelsea clicked off the line abruptly.
With a shrug, Jim dismissed the young woman from his mind. Leaning back further into the couch, he drifted off into a light doze.
Chelsea hung up the phone quickly when she heard Blair come out the bathroom. He was looking a little worse for the wear, but had agreed to go out with Chelsea for dinner---just as friends. She’d smiled at that comment and laughed, saying that that was just fine with her. She was shocked he’d agreed so quickly, but then he’d confided in her that he and his roommate were having problems and he’d just assume not go home yet.
Blair glanced up just as he heard the sound of the phone hanging up. “Oh I’m sorry----if you needed to talk on the phone, you didn’t have to hang up on account of me.”
Chelsea smiled. “Don’t worry about it. It was just a wrong number.” She lied easily as Blair crossed the room to come stand next to her by the couch.
He caught her eye and gave her a small smile. Reaching for his jacket, Blair gestured towards the door. “Well, I’m ready if you are.”
Chelsea smiled sweetly, as she gazed at Blair’s handsome face, noting the dark circles under his eyes, and the tense set of his mouth. Everything is going along smoothly. She thought to herself, as she went to her closet and gathered up her jacket and keys. Turning to Blair, she plied him with another coy smile. “Ready as ever gorgeous.”
Blair flushed brightly and merely shook his head, and followed Chelsea out the door.
It was nearing midnight, and Blair knew Jim had to be going crazy with worry wondering were his giude was. Too bad I didn’t think to pack a white noise generator, could've saved myself from another argument with Jim! Blair mused as he quietly turned the key in the lock and opened to loft’s front door.
“Finally decided to come home, huh chief.” Jim voice floated from beyond the inky black darkness permeating the loft.
“Jesus Jim!!” Blair jumped, his heart jack hammering madly against his ribs. “Give a guy a heart attack will ya. What are you doing up anyway?” Blair grumbled as he shut the door, while Jim reached over from his place on the couch and clicked on a lamp. A soft glow filtered the once dark loft, bathing Jim’s frame in a golden light.
“We need to talk.” Jim’s tone brooked no argument.
But Blair was in an arguing mood. “Well, that’s nice and all, but I don’t feel like talking, I feel like crashing and that’s what I’m going to go do.” Blair made a move toward his small bedroom but was stopped by the hurt in Jim’s voice.
“Blair please. Something is really wrong between us, and usually it’s you who’s trying to figure it out.” Jim stood, and walked over to where his partner was standing. Laying a hand the young man’s shoulder, he frowned at the slight tremors running through the tense shoulder. “And it’s worrying me that you don’t seem to care.”
Blair turned slowly to face his sentinel, but refused to look him in the eyes. “Alright, so talk.”
Encourged by even this slight acquiescence, Jim carried on. Guiding Blair to the couch, they both took a seat. Once settled, Jim began to try to talk to his friend, using the same soft soothing voice Blair would frequently use on him when Jim was troubled. “Now, I have something I want to ask you.” At Blair’s nod Jim continued. “Why didn’t you sense me when you came home just now? You should have felt that I was home, but you didn’t, why?” Jim waited patiently as his question sunk in.
Shock slowly registered across Blair’s face. “I---I don’t know why. I guess now that I think about it, I’ve had the dial all the way down lately.”
“Why is that?” Jim questioned the guide.
“I’ve been so out of sorts lately, I didn’t want to accidentally overload and zone on someone else’s emotions. So I took your advice from the other night and turned the dial down. I haven’t turned it back up since.” Blair mumbled sheepishly.
Silence reigned in the loft as Jim quietly took in his guide’s last comment. At least he's still halfway listening to me. Jim mused. He then decided to ask Blair a question that had been nagging him for a while. “Blair, do you think maybe what you’ve been feeling lately is a delayed reaction to the Cummings situation. I mean we talked about it a little bit right after it all happened, but you didn’t really want to deal with it then.”
Blair adamantly shook his head no. When he spoke, his voice had a slight edge to it. “Jim I know it’s hard for you and Simon and the rest of the gang to believe that passive little Blair Sandburg could do such a thing and not feel bad about it. But to answer your question, no----I didn’t feel bad about beating that monster then, and I sure as heck don’t feel bad about it now.”
Hearing the conviction in his younger partner’s voice Jim left the subject alone. Blair was right in that Jim still couldn’t believe the fury he had witnessed in his friend’s actions that day. Blair had been cornered and threatened by Professor Rigel Cummings, a monstrous man who had first murdered Blair’s friend Christy Lomack, a fellow TA, in cold blood after she had overheard him threaten to kill Blair. Then Cummings had murdered his lover, Patricia Ackley, another one of Rainer’s professors, when they had disagreed on how rid themselves of the murder weapon used on Lomack. When Cummings came after Blair and stabbed him in the arm, the young man lost control of his empathy, and soaked up all of the killer’s rage. Blair had then proceeded to nearly beat the man to death.
Jim had watched Blair since the whole incident had went down, and still didn’t understand how the young man could so easily push aside what he’d done as if it were nothing. Jim knew how to handle things like that since he had been a trained killer in covert ops, but Blair was a peace-loving pacifist. The sentinel knew sooner or later the reality of Blair’s violent actions would come back to haunt the young man. Jim planned on being there to help his young friend when the time came.
Bringing himself back to the present and the current situation at hand, Jim turned to look at Blair. “Then tell me chief, as your guide when it comes to the use of your empathy---what do you think is causing your mood swings lately? I gotta tell you man, I’ve been tempted to run out and get you a pack of Midol or something.”
Blair gave his sentinel a lopsided grin. “Jim man, I keep trying to tell you. Please----leave the jokes in more capable hands.” Leaning forward he placed a hand on his sentinel’s knee. “But I really AM sorry man. You know, about how I’ve been acting lately. Maybe I just need to meditate a little more or something, in fact that’s what I was going to do before we had this little conversation. Chelsea gave me a new tape, said it was supposed to promote ultimate relaxation, and I gotta tell you man, I could really use that right about now.”
Jim’s insides twisted slightly at the mention of Chelsea’s name, but he managed to keep his inner emotions from showing on his face. Now that he and Blair were on speaking terms again, he didn’t want to rock the boat. Something nagged at the back of the sentinel’s mind but he still couldn’t seem to figure out what was causing his overactive worry. He couldn’t help but feel as if Chelsea had something to do with Blair’s current emotional state.
“Hey you know what Jim.” Blair’s voice snatched Jim out of his thoughts. “What chief?”
“You ought to try one of these tapes man, you’ve been stressed yourself lately.” Blair offered.
Jim frowned at Blair’s words--- there went that darn sentinel radar again. “No thanks chief, sleep will be relaxation enough for me.”
“Suit yourself man. Well I’m off to try the new tape out, and then I’m gonna hit the sack. See you in the morning.” Blair rose from the couch and headed to his room. Halfway there, he paused and turned to face the sentinel, who hadn’t moved from his seat. “Are we okay now Jim?” Blair asked in a hushed voice, as if worried that there were still lingering issues between the two friends.
Jim looked up distractedly and gave his guide a half smile. “Yeah, chief. We’re good.”
Chelsea sauntered into her dorm room, once again grateful she didn’t have to have a roommate like some of the other students did. She much preferred living on her own, and didn’t like to be bothered with other people and their trivial lives. Besides, she didn’t get along with other female students very well. She figured it was simply a matter of jealousy, and who could blame them? Not many were lucky to be as pretty as she was, and the few that were, certainly didn’t know how to use it to their advantage. Besides, none of that mattered. She was here living in this dorm, attending Rainer for one reason and one reason only. Blair Sandburg.
She sat down on her couch and kicked of her shoes. Stretching luxuriously, she twisted and turned until she felt the tense muscles of her back pop. Groaning in deep satisfaction, she settled back against the arm of the couch and glanced over at the VCR clock. Midnight, about time for that call. She thought to herself.
The phone rang just then as if on cue, and Chelsea reached for it lazily. “Hey there, about time.”
“If you’d check your messages you’d see I’ve called twice already.” A harsh voice on the other end ground out. “Where were you?”
“Tsk, tsk. Don’t be rude.” Chelsea admonished. Smiling to herself she decided to taunt the caller a little bit. “Besides, I’m a young girl, I needed to have a little fun.”
“Careful now, wouldn’t want you to drop dead of exhaustion now would we?” the mystery caller intoned.
“Yeah, like you could do anything about from were you are currently residing.” Chelsea retorted, hardly concerned with what she obviously considered an empty threat. “Besides, I was out with little Blairry-poo. I needed to get the last tape to him. That IS what you wanted isn’t it?” Chelsea purred into the phone’s mouthpiece.
“Yes dear, you did fine. You will keep me posted won’t you? Shouldn’t be long now.”
“Yes, yes. Don’t be so impatient, these things take time. Something should happen within the next day or so. I’ll be sure to let you know.” Chelsea was quickly growing weary of this conversation, and the person she was having it with.
“You be sure that you do, little girl.” And with that parting comment, the line went dead.
Jim despises you—be rid of him.
Hurt Jim like he hurts you!!
With a gasp Jim sat straight up in bed as the phrases continued echoing in his head as the nightmare faded away in the wake of consciousness. Wiping away beads of perspiration from his brow, he tried to make sense of the fleeting words of his nightmare. Man, maybe I am tenser than I realize. He thought to himself as he swung his feet over the edge of his bed.
He started to get up then paused as he turned up his hearing. He swore he could still hear the words for his dream echoing throughout the loft. Turning up his hearing dial all the way, his insides turned to ice as he realized the words were coming from his guide’s room.
Shocked beyond words, Jim quickly made his way down the stairs and bolted to his guide’s room as just a Blair’s fevered ranting rose dramatically in pitch.
Pushing the door open he nearly fainted dead away from the sight that greeted him.
Blair stood facing him, Jim’s own revolver in his hand. And he had the gun trained squarely on Jim’s chest.
“Well, well well. It’s about time.” Blair smiled wickedly. Slowly his finger tensed on the gun’s trigger, visions of death dancing through his mind.
Jim suddenly felt time stand still, as his world dwindled down to nothing more than Blair, the gun and himself.
He swallowed deeply trying to fight the nausea that threatened to overwhelm him. Placing his hands in the air, he attempted to reach his guide, hoping to bring the younger man out of his fevered state. Somewhere in the background Jim could swear he was still hearing the haunting words of his nightmare but he pushed that thought aside as he tackled the situation at hand.
“Blair buddy, what’s going on here huh? Wh---Why don’t you give me the gun, and we can talk about it.” Jim softly urged his guide, praying some part of the confused young man’s mind was still functioning on all four cylinders. Unconsciously Jim registered Blair’s elevated heart rate, and noted how flushed his face was. The young man was trembling with rage, his eyes looking dazed and glassy. Jim took another small step forward and paused as his guide adamantly shook his head no.
Blair closed his eyes as a sharp spike of pain shot through his temple. The hate he was feeling was consuming him and he badly needed a release, but try as he might a small part of himself refused to allow Blair to actually shoot Jim. The pain in his temple grew worse, and Blair began to fear that his head might actually explode. Looking up at Jim, he began to feel confused. Wasn’t I getting ready to do something? Blair wondered as he shook his head again. As he went to place a hand on his aching head, something cold and metallic pressed against his face. Startled he fuzzily gazed down at his hand. As another stab of pain assaulted his senses, Blair’s thinking process cleared somewhat, and he was shocked to realize he was actually holding a gun, and better yet, that he had just been pointing it at his best friend.
Stunned beyond words, Blair began to panic. “J—Jim man—what’s going on?” Jim noticed how shaky his guide’s grip on the gun had become, and decided to use that to his advantage.
“Blair, why don’t you just give me the gun. Okay Buddy?” Jim breathed a huge sigh of relief as Blair slowly handed him the gun. He placed behind him on the desk and took a few steps toward his partner, only to be quickly rebuffed.
“No—no stay away from me, something’s wrong with me.” Blair mumbled, as he stumbled away from Jim’s advancement and fell onto the bed. Blair placed his aching head in his hands, his stomach churning as the shock of what he’d been about to do completely set in. Looking up at Jim through tear-laden eyes, Blair whispered. “God Jim!! I’m so sorry. I ---I don’t know what happened. You know I’d never hurt you—oh man Jim. I’m so sorry.” Blair barely choked back a sob, as his head fell forward and a curtain of chestnut curls obscured his face from the sentinel’s view.
Jim knelt down by his guide and placed a reassuring hand on the distraught young man’s shoulder. “It’s okay buddy. We’ll figure this out. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the bottom of this.” When Blair shook his head as if saying no, Jim grabbed his friend’s face and gently tilted it up so as to see the younger man’s eyes. The anguish and torment he saw in the deep blue orbs nearly stole Jim’s breath away. “Blair listen to me. Somebody else has got to be behind this, I know that you could no more shoot me, than I could you. Trust me, everything will turn out in the end.”
Blair nodded numbly, desperately wanting to believe his friend’s words. “Yeah, okay man.” He murmured so softly only sentinel hearing could catch the faint words.
Jim gently squeezed Blair’s shoulder, then pulled the younger man toward him and engulfed him in a bone-crushing embrace. He held Blair until he felt the tremors racking through the younger man’s body slowly fade away, as stress and adrenaline gave way to fatigue.
Jim noted the pain in his friend’s face and could easily tell the nights activities had given Blair another one of his killer migraines. “Wait here.” He instructed his guide as he grabbed the gun from the desk and left the room. Jogging up the stairs that led to his room, Jim placed the gun in a drawer by his bed and secured the weapon by locking the drawer. After he came back downstairs, he grabbed a large glass and filled it with water. He then opened a cabinet over the sink and began searching though its contents. The cabinet held a multitude of prescriptions for both roommates, as the hazards of the job usually managed to lead to one or both of them being injured. Finding the exact pain pills he needed Aha! There they are—Tylenol #4, that should knock his headache right out! Jim shook a couple out and re-capped the small bottle. Grabbing his few small items, Jim returned to his guide.
Blair was still seated on the bed; his posture slumped and defeated. He barely even registered his sentinel’s return.
He finally glanced up as Jim tapped him on the shoulder, and gratefully accepted the pain pills. Downing them quickly with a large gulp of water, Blair hesitantly looked at his friend. “Jim man, I am TRULY sorry. I’ll do anything to make things right between us. I—” Blair’s sentence was cut off mid stride as Jim raised his hand for him to stop speaking.
“Don’t worry about it anymore Blair. Like I said, we’ll get to the bottom of it together. All we need to do is figure out what caused this to happen.” Jim reassured his friend.
Jim’s hearing kicked up and he was instantly reminded about the faint whispering he had picked up on earlier in the small bedroom. He tracked its source and found that the words he’d been hearing were coming from Blair’s headphones.
Jim turned and picked up the tape recorder and headphones that Blair had been using earlier to meditate with. The tape inside was still playing and something about the background noise was causing the sentinel’s hair on his neck to prickle. Leaning forward toward his weary guide, Jim handed him the tape player. “I think we’d better start with these tapes you’ve been listening to. And we need to have a little talk about your red headed lady friend, chief.”
Blair paled considerably and nodded.
Chelsea stood in front of her bathroom mirror gazing in rapt attention at her reflection. Sometimes at quiet moments such as this, she could catch a glimpse of her mother in her face. Chelsea’s pretty face was momentarily marred by a frown as she thought back on the woman she’d been forced to call her mother. Caroline had been a haughty woman, not unlike her daughter, and she was well adept at using the male species to further her gains. Caroline had also been a striking redhead, with hair that had hung in thick waves and tendrils practically down to her waist. Whereas Chelsea had inherited her father’s cocoa-brown eyes, her mother had eyes that were almost impossibly green, seeming to almost glow when her anger would get the best of her, and that proved to be quite often.
Caroline had been a tall, elegant woman who always managed to attract attention wherever she went. The attention and her craving for it eventually became the undoing of Chelsea’s not-so happy home. While Chelsea was away at school one day, her father had come home early from his job, to find Caroline in the arms of another man. An argument began, words were exchanged, and the two men began to fight. After nearly beating the man to death, Chelsea’s father had then thrown Caroline out. Not a woman to be done wrong, she’d returned later that night, brandishing a gun and threatening him. The two of them had tussled and fought until the piercing sound of a gun going off rang through the night air. Caroline had gazed at her husband in shook, then had slid bonelessly to the floor, as death overtook her.
Chelsea had witnessed the whole shooting incident from outside the bay window. Neither parent even knew she had been there, and she never told her father that she’d seen what had happened. Instead she compliantly went along with whatever he told the cops, something about self-defense she vaguely remembered, and played the role of good little daughter. At least that is until she was finally able to strike out on her own.
Not liking the dark places her memories were taking her, Chelsea returned her attention to her reflection in the mirror. Smoothing a few strays into place she gave her auburn mane her final seal of approval. Leaning forward she noted a little smudge of lipstick on her teeth. She quickly remedied the situation and was finally pleased with the reflection before her. Swinging her hair over her slim shoulder, she headed out of the bathroom, and crossed over to her bed where her suitcase laid sprawled open. Shoving a few more items into the already over-stuffed suitcase she barely managed to zip it closed.
With a self-satisfied smile, Chelsea strolled over to her small window and gazed out at the campus, watching the seemingly endless rainfall drench every thing in its path. She absently watched the students scurry about in the downpour as they went about their daily activities. She was so happy to be leaving them and their mundane little lives behind. Having delivered the last tape to Blair the other evening, she had been pleased to note he’d been absent from school the next day. Figuring her plan had come to fruition, Chelsea had then decided it was high time to get out of town before anyone got suspicious about the tapes, and linked any thing to her. Besides, her employer had paid her well, and she had just bought a plane ticket to the Bahamas. She hated the rainy Cascade weather, and could not wait until the plane touched down, and she was finally able to get a little sun and a lot fun in the tropics. She felt deserved a little R&R for all the hard work she’d done lately. Helping stage a murder was not an easy task, and she was feeling a little rundown. Plenty of sunshine and one of the little drinks with the umbrella in it should do the trick at relieving her exhaustion. Or better yet, maybe she’d get a drink on the plane.
She felt a small pang of guilt as she thought of Blair. Poor Blair didn’t even see it coming did you? Such a shame really, men like you should never be wasted on the likes of inmates. Who knows? Maybe you’ll off yourself and save everyone the trouble.
Smiling to herself, she picked up her heavily packed suitcase and set it by her door.
Reaching into her open closet, she grabbed her jacket and purse. Reaching into her purse, she made sure she had her airline ticket and then grabbed her sunglasses. Shrugging into her jacket, she put on her sunglasses and tossed her hair over her shoulder. She knew she was looking too good, and couldn’t wait to see what man’s attention she could snag at the airport. Maybe she could score herself a sugar daddy on the way, and add a little extra financing to this trip. Surely this was going to be a vacation she wouldn’t forget. With a happy sigh she opened her door, ready to head out into her new life. All her plans fell by the wayside as she took notice of the two looming figures standing in her doorway. Startled as recognition sank in, she hastily backed away from the two men.
“Hello Chelsea. Going somewhere?” Jim’s sentinel sight easily cut through the woman’s dark glasses and he was secretly pleased at the look of shock and horror that crossed those lovely brown eyes.
Rafe silently eyed Jim, wishing Blair could be here, as he watched the weary detective rub tired hands over his face in frustration. Jim then got up from his seat and began pacing back and forth in front of the two-way mirror, glancing agitatedly at the proceedings taking place beyond his reach on the other side of the glass. Rafe knew this had to be hard on Ellison, to be made to sit out on the first round of interrogation, but he had to agree with Simon’s decision. Jim was an angry man right now, especially with out his partner to calm him down, and that made Ms. Chelsea a marked target for his rage. And it also meant Jim wouldn’t be able to keep his cool during the interrogation. So Jim was on the outside watching in, which meant Rafe was stuck playing hall monitor.
Rafe gently caught hold of Jim’s arm as the older man began his almost ritualistic walk past the mirror. “Ellison, how are you holding up?”
Jim’s first impulse was to snatch his arm out of Rafe’s grasp and offer some sort of curt reply, but a few years of living with Sandburg had made him a gentler man, so he merely offered up a half smile. “Been better.”
Rafe nodded, surprised at the tone of defeat that surfaced in Jim’s voice. “Hey Jim, we’ll get her. Henry’s one of the best there is when it comes to getting a suspect to crack, next to you of course.” Jim’s half smiled widened a little at this. “We’ll catch her don’t worry.” Rafe continued. “She’s a little too over confidant for her own good. Once Brown starts playing hardball with her, she’ll rat out the other party in this mess.” Rafe sounded sincere and Jim knew the man’s heart was in the right place.
Jim nodded. “I hope so, Rafe. I hope for her sake, she comes clean.”And for Sandburg’s sake too. Jim thought fleetingly as he let his intense gaze fall back on the disturbed young woman.
Rafe frowned a little at that comment, but decided to let it slide as he returned his attention to the conversation taking place before them. A small predatory smile crossed the handsome young detective’s face as he watched his partner in action.
“Look lady,” Brown was beginning to tire of this woman and wished she would simply give up the goods. “We can sit here ALL night if we have too. Believe me I ain’t got nothing else better to do.” Henry sat on the edge of the table fixing a slightly menacing glare on the troubled young woman.
Chelsea appeared calm and aloof but inside she was a boiling ball of raw nerves. She had honestly thought she was going to drop dead when that Ellison character had showed up at her dorm door with another young detective. Her first thought had been to run, but that idea was quickly squashed as Detective Ellison had grabbed her arms and whirled her around, reading her her rites and informing her she was under arrest. She had then been unceremoniously dragged off to jail in front of all the idiot gawkers, who had stood on the sidelines whispering and pointing as the would be femme fatale was carted off in a patrol car.
Chelsea had then spent the last 2 hours being grilled by one Detective Henry Brown. He was a large man with a gentle face, and she’d foolishly thought she’d be able to win him over like so many other men in the past. But all attempts at flirting had horribly fallen flat, and it was beginning to dawn on the young woman that she was quickly running out of options. No one would tell her were Blair was, only that they had tapes in their possession containing subliminal messages prompting one Blair Sandburg to kill Jim Ellison. The icing on their little cake was the fact that half of the tapes contained her voice.
Swallowing almost convulsively, she turned her gaze to the door. “Look Detective, don’t I get my phone call or something, I already told you I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Chelsea prayed that the all-consuming fear she was feeling didn't show in her voice.
Brown produced a menacing smile that would’ve put Jack the Ripper to shame as he leaned in toward the young woman. “Listen here little girl, we’ve already got you on one count of attempted murder on Jim Ellison, and we’re intending on charging you with Blair Sandburg’s murder as well.”
Chelsea’s mouth dropped so far down, she swore it hit the table. “What!?!? Blair’s dead? Look I didn’t have anything to do with that, all I was supposed to do was make a few tapes and slip them to Blair. I swear—I—I didn’t do anything to Blair. Maybe that Ellison character freaked out on him or something.” She stuttered out, the creepy fingers of fear digging their way into her spine.
Brown decided it was time to pull out all the stops. He abruptly got up from the table and strolled over to the door. Yanking it open, he motioned for the uniformed officer guarding the door to come inside. “Chavez, take Ms. Turner here down to booking. We’re charging her with murder. Be sure to put her in the pen with Big Alice, I hear she likes redheads.”
Chelsea backed away so fast from the approaching officer she nearly fell over her chair. “Nononono! It’s all right I’ll talk---I’ll talk. I’ll tell you everything I promise!!”
Bingo! Ellison thought to himself as the young woman talked herself right into a nice little cozy jail cell.
Blair sat down on a chair in the loft, as his carefully orchestrated existence came crashing down around him. “What? You mean to tell me Cummings is behind all this?” The young man raised pained eyes toward his sentinel, the deep azure orbs seeking clarification on the matter.
The sentinel stood up from the sofa, and wandered around until he was facing Blair. Jim had been almost sick to his stomach since Chelsea had fingered Rigel Cummings as her partner in crime. He knew Blair still hadn’t dealt properly with what had happened before, and now with all this new mess on top of it, Jim was more than a little worried for his guide’s sanity.
With a heart heavy sigh, Jim nodded. “Yeah buddy, Chelsea fingered him as the other accomplice. In fact, she admitted that he’s her father.” Blair’s nearly passed out as Jim relayed this tidbit of information. “He’s not the other voice on the tape, but he is the mastermind behind the plot. He was still smarting over what happened between you two, and he wants revenge.”
“How could he do anything from the loony bin they have him stashed in. I thought he was kept under tight security. Has someone on the inside been helping him? Maybe they’re the other voice on the tape.” Blair’s voice rose a notch at the end, signaling clearly that he was on the verge of full-blown panic attack. I can’t believe he’s Chelsea’s father? Oh man this is sooo not good. Blair leaned forward, placing his aching head into his hands as he tried to calm his nerves.
Jim regretted having to even mention the next thing to Blair, but his friend needed to know. “Blair, Rigel Cummings escaped two nights ago. No one knows where he is.”
Blair closed his eyes as he allowed this last bit of new to sink in. Well, this just keeps getting better and better doesn’t it? Opening his eyes slowly, he found himself looking into the concerned ice blue eyes of his sentinel. He felt a sickening sensation in the pit of his stomach as his own anger and disgust merged with that of his sentinel’s.
Looking away from his friend, he stood up and walked over to the balcony doors, looking out at the inky black night sky wishing he were anywhere else but here. Realizing that feeling was completely the fault of one Rigel Cummings, he turned to look at his friend, a chilling coldness seeming to seep into his body. Almost as if they had a mind of their own, the words slipped out of his mouth before he could stop them. “I’m going to kill him.”
Jim’s head jerked back in shock. Did Blair just say what he thought he did? No, he couldn’t have heard right.
“What’d you just say?”
Blair looked away, ashamed with himself for letting the words slip out so easily. “Why, what does it matter now. He’s out, on the loose and of course, no one knows where he is.” Blair stalked back to the couch and flung himself down on it, the perfect picture of hopelessness and despair. “So, what happens now.”
Jim frowned; it was very unlike his partner to give up so easily. “Well, since Chelsea gave a full confession she’ll be arraigned in the morning. Simon wants to put you into protective custody as of now since we don’t now were Cummings is. According to Chelsea, Cummings wants you bad, and when he finds out his plans fell through, he might try something else.”
Blair leaned back into the couch, gazing at the fire roaring in the fireplace as if it held all the answers to his problems. Closing his eyes, he spoke softly. “So let me be sure I’ve got everything straight here. 1-Chelsea was slipping me tapes with subliminal messages urging me to kill you. 2- She was hired by her own father who just happens to be one Rigel Cummings and 3- He’s out, he’s loose, and he’s looking for a little revenge. Did I miss anything?”
Jim grimaced slightly at Blair’s sarcasm, though he really couldn’t blame him. “Ah---no chief, I think that about covers it.”
~~Jim was running as fast as he could, but no matter how much speed he put into his stride, the door still remained elusive to him. Roaring in frustration, the sentinel gave one last push as he frantically tried to reach his guide. Blair’s voice was assaulting Jim’s senses, he could hear the young man screaming and crying out in pain, but he could not reach him, no matter how hard he tried.
All of a sudden the cries ceased and the door slowly opened. An eerie green light spilled forth from the room and a figure slowly moved into its path. Jim’s eyes cut through the dense darkness and saw the figure for who it truly was. “Blair buddy, are you alright? I came as fast as I could.” Jim shouted across the distance that separated the two men.
Blair merely pasted a ghastly smile on his face, as he slowly lifted an object and aimed it at the sentinel. “I’m fine now Jim, just fine.”
Then Blair fired the gun repeatedly into his sentinel’s chest, laughing maniacally the entire time.~~
Blair sat straight up in the bed, sweat pouring down his face and stinging his eyes. With shaking hands he removed a few lank curls out of his face, trying to make sense of the nightmare. Why would I dream that, I could never hurt Jim. Oh man, please don’t let it mean that I’m still under the influence of that stupid tape! Blair placed his heavy head into his hands as he felt his insides began to lurch. Giving into the call, Blair ran to the bathroom and emptied his stomach. After the painful retching had stopped, Blair plopped down onto the cold bathroom floor, trying to calm his breathing. No, it couldn’t mean he was still under the power of those messages, he just must be suffering from some sort of posttraumatic syndrome, Blair reasoned with himself. He would not except that he could hurt Jim, let alone try to kill him. He loved Jim, as a brother and as a friend, and he would never do anything to harm his sentinel.
It had been a couple of days since Jim had come home and delivered the depressing new about Chelsea and her father to Blair. The young man had dealt with the information has best as he could and then pushed far back into his mind. At least Chelsea would be visiting the state penitentiary for awhile, several years actually, but since Cummings was still on the loose, that thought gave Blair little solace. The thing he hadn’t been able to deal with so easily was the fact that he had almost killed Jim a few nights ago. He would never forget the look of fear that had crossed the sentinel’s face when he had aimed the gun at him. Blair felt he would never get over what he perceived was the ultimate betrayal of is sentinel. A guide was meant to protect and help his charge, not attempt to kill him.
A loud cry in the darkness of the night snatched Blair away from his thoughts. His empathy immediately registered that Jim was in distress, and he got up off the floor and made his way up to his sentinel’s room.
The sight that greeted him upon his arrival threatened to turn his stomach again. Jim was all tangled and twisted up in his bed sheets, his body drenched with sweat as he fought his nightmare. Reaching out to wake his friend up, Blair was suddenly violently assaulted by the fear pouring off of his sentinel. The pain of the shock dropped him to his knees, and he barely managed to bite off a cry of pain. When the pain had passed, he shakily raised himself up off the floor and reached out for his friend again. Before he could touch him, Jim snapped awake and grabbed the startled young man roughly by the arm. This time Blair wasn’t able to bite back his cry of pain, as he yanked himself away from his friend.
Blair’s cry snapped Jim out of the last of his nightmarish dream. Blinking he looked around and saw his guide standing next to his bed, rubbing his arm and gazing wide-eyed at Jim.
“You alright now man?” Blair asked quietly from the shadows of Jim’s room. “You having a pretty rough nightmare there for a minute.”
Jim sat up and took a deep breath, attempting to calm himself down. His dream had shaken him pretty bad, but he didn’t really want to let Blair know what it had been about. Especially when it involved his guide shooting and killing him. He didn’t want to have to explain to the young man what the dream meant, when he wasn’t entirely sure himself. He knew Blair was fine now, and would never hurt him, but he just couldn’t seem to let completely go of what had happened. If Cummings had succeeded, he would be dead and Blair would be in prison, likely on death row for killing a cop.
Looking towards Blair, he watched as the light from the moon filtered in and surrounded his guide in an otherworldly glow. Jim cringed slightly as the scene reminded him too much of his nightmare. “Yeah I’m alright chief, just a little bad dream.”
Realization dawned as Blair discovered what his own nightmare had meant. “You dreamed I shot you didn’t you.” When Jim didn’t reply, Blair knew he was correct. Oh man, I picked up on his dream. That’s what my nightmare was about---- I picked up on his fear. Jim’s scared of me now Blair thought to himself as he backed away from the sentinel.
“Are you alright buddy.” Jim’s voiced spoke softly in the darkness of the room.
Yeah I’m fine, my best friend’s scared of me now. I’m just peachy. Blair thought to himself. “Yeah I’m fine. Listen if your okay now, I’m going to head back down and try to get some sleep.”
“Are you sure you’re okay buddy, your hearts pounding a little fast there.”
“I said I’m fine. Just get some sleep.” Turning away from his friend, Blair ignored Jim’s soft pleas, and began the decent down the stairs and back to his room.
Shutting the doors to his room softly, Blair slowly lay down on his bed and pulled the covers over his chilled body. Turning on his side, he closed is eyes and willed his frantic thoughts to slow down. Realizing that this incident was just one more thing he really didn’t want to deal with, Blair carefully locked his feelings on the matter into a dark corner of his mind, and then threw the key away.
He’d deal with this new problem at another time.
Blair had had about enough. Glancing into his rearview mirror, he sighed as he noted the unmarked patrol car that was tailing him on the way home from Rainer. It was bad enough that he had had to put up with Officer Denny following him around all day at school like some trained watch dog, even sitting in on all of his classes and lectures, but now he had police shadowing him everywhere he went.
Enough was enough, it had been four long weeks since Cummings had escaped and Miss Chelsea had been sent up the river. Besides the nightmares both men had been having, which neither seemed to eager to talk about, things had been relatively quiet. There hadn’t been any attempts made on Blair or Jim’s life, not even any threatening phone calls. At first Blair had been secretly relieved to have the extra protection, for he worried about Jim and the fact that the sentinel thought he could protect Blair all by himself. The man had run himself ragged, stretching his senses as far as they would go, pushing himself dangerously close to exhaustion. Blair had easily sensed the older man’s frustration at not being able to track Cummings down, viewing the situation as a failure on his part. Blair had finally had to force Jim to rest and relinquish control of the manhunt, citing the need for the sentinel to rest and recuperate. Not to mention the fact his guide needed him whole, physically as well as mentally. Jim had relented, hearing the worry and concern that had laced his guide’s voice.
Blair pulled to a complete stop at the intersection, rolling his eyes in disgust as the police car nearly back ended him. Blair returned his attention to the traffic in front of him, idly drumming his fingers as he waited for the light to turn green. When it finally changed after what had seemed like an eternity, Blair pulled out into the intersection, his eyes flicking up briefly to the rearview mirror as he watched the police behind him follow closely behind. Sighing again, he cast his eyes back on the road.
Just before Blair crossed the middle of the intersection, a large SUV came careening through, and slammed into the driver’s side of Blair’s car. The officers who had been tailing so closely behind, ended up running into the back of the Volvo, sending it and the SUV into a violent spiral, as both vehicles slid across the intersection. All three cars finally slid to a halt, the sound of grinding metal filling the air.
Blair slowly leaned back as he extricated himself from the steering wheel. Moaning softly, he slowly opened his eyes and surveyed the scene before him. The Volvo’s hood had been crushed into a perfect imitation of a tee-pee and the passenger side of the car was so smashed in, in no longer existed. Taking a deep breath, Blair began assess his own condition, trying to figure out if he was injured, and how badly. There wasn’t a part of him that didn’t seem to be hurting at the moment, so it took a few moments for Blair to compose himself.
He had just reached the conclusion that he’d only suffered minor scrapes and bruises when his car door was roughly yanked open. Blinking dazedly into the face of the intruder, Blair barely managed to mumble a quick “Hey” before his left arm was roughly grabbed and he felt the sting of a needle against his flesh. Yanking his arm away, he stumbled out of the car, intent on confronting his assailant, when suddenly the world shifted. Falling to the ground on his knees, he shook his head, trying to clear the heavy fog that seemed to be descending quickly upon him.
He barely noticed when his attacker leaned next to him on the ground, gently turning the young man’s face towards his. Placing his mouth close to the drugged young man’s ear he softly whispered. “Mr. Cummings would like to wish you a pleasant trip.”
At those simple words, Blair’s world drifted away.
The young checkout clerk at the Quick-E Mart watched with mild interest as the automatic doors slid open to admit the latest customer of the late afternoon rush. The store was empty, most of the customers having already left in a crowd a few minutes earlier. A young man with long curly hair stumbled inside the doors, gazing around his surroundings with a glazed look upon his face. His movements were jerky and he seemed to be looking for something or maybe someone. Frowning slightly, the clerk, whose proudly displayed name tag read ‘Chuck’ leaned forward trying to gain the other man’s attention.
“Hey dude, need anything man. You're looking kinda lost there bro.” Chuck’s frown grew more pronounced as the curly headed man jerked away from him as if stung. He then began looking around the store becoming more and more agitated. Afraid the man was about to have a nervous break down on his shift, Chuck came from behind the checkout counter to see what he could do to calm the young man down. Once he got closer, he noticed the blood that had at first been hidden by the abundant curls, marring the right side of the man’s face. Chuck gently touched the man on the shoulder, and was startled as the other man jerked away, nearly falling over a display of soda pop in the aisle.
“Hey, it’s okay dude. Looks like you're hurt, you want me to get you some help?” Chuck as the trembling man continued backing away from him. When Chuck reached for him again, he finally lost it.
“Stay away from me!! I know you're part of them!! All of you, I can FEEL you!! I know what you are.” The young man had begun screaming, his voice taking on a horribly haunted sound. “You look human, but inside you're all fire, burning ashes!! But not me, you tried once, but never, never again. Do you hear me?!?!”
Chuck felt his insides twist as it dawned on him this man was heavily under the influence of some wicked drugs. In fact it reminded him to much of when his own brother had over dosed on heroin, and nearly died in the hospital trying to fight of imaginary monsters that kept creeping out of the floors and walls. Shrugging off the painful memory, Chuck raised his hands slowly in the air and backed away from agitated man. Eyeing the phone on the checkout counter, Chuck came up with a plan.
“Look man, you’re right, a lot of people are evil inside. So whaddya say I help you out, let me call somebody who can take care of them for you huh?” Moving slowly behind the counter, Chuck began to reach for the phone. “Hey buddy, what’s your name? So I can tell the good guys and they’ll come and help you out.”
The bedraggled young man seemed to consider this for a moment then hoarsely answered. “I-It’s Blair. My name is Blair. Don’t know my last name, they burned it away---it’s gone. But they won’t get my first name. I’ll kill ‘em before they do. I swear, I’ll KILL HIM!!” Blair began shaking violently, his breathing sounding harsh and painful.
“Okay it’s okay” Chuck attempted to soothe Blair as he dialed 911. “I’m calling help okay Blair? I promise, it’ll be okay you’ll see.”
Blair nodded absently, wrapping his arms tight around his aching chest. Something didn’t feel right and it hurt pretty badly when he took a deep breath, but he couldn’t worry about that now. The golden monsters were after him again, and he needed to keep on the move. They kept sneaking up on him, coming out of the sidewalks, and buildings. Even ordinary people would morph into them. Blair’s heart had nearly stopped when he’d witnessed a little girl suddenly burst into flames before his eyes, only to watch in horror as her ashes had morphed into an 8-foot raging fire god. Blair had screamed and ran away has fast as he could. But it seemed no matter how far he ran; he kept seeing them everywhere. He was desperate to find a person called Jim. Jim would help him, he had to. Blair couldn’t keep fight alone he couldn’t.
Blair had mainly decided to come into the Quick-E Mart because he couldn’t sense any of the fire people. So far it was okay, and he prayed this Chuck guy would get help for him soon, because he didn’t think he could hold out much longer. He really wasn’t feeling so good.
Looking up, he belatedly realized Chuck was calling his name. He was just opening his mouth to respond when Chuck was suddenly engulfed in flames, his body almost burnt beyond recognition. This was bad, so so bad. Chuck had promised to get him help, but he was really one of THEM! How could he have not sensed this, what was wrong with his empathy?
Ignoring the screams of the flaming young man, Blair turned to run out of the automatic doorway. He stopped just shy of it, when a wall of flame erupted right in front of him. He backed away from it so quickly; he tripped and fell hard on his backside. Frightened beyond belief, Blair watched as the pulsating fire swirled around, morphing to form a face that had visited him in his nightmares far too often lately. Rigel Cummings’s image hovered before him made entirely of flame and ashes, his eyes dark sockets that seemed to bore into Blair’s very soul. Seeming to swell in size the face gazed down at the nearly catatonic young man, and graced him with a ghastly smile. It opened its mouth and spoke; it’s voice deep and booming, seeming to vibrate through every part of Blair’s body.
“So Mr. Sandburg, enjoying your little trip so far?” The apparition questioned before the whole vision disappeared in a huge puff of smoke.
Blair blinked once, then fainted dead away, oblivious to the frantic pleas of poor distraught Chuck.
Jim felt as if his heart would stop as he heard the call come in from dispatch. He’d been on his way back to the loft when he’d heard the message about a three-car pile up involving a Volvo. His sentinel sixth sense kicked in and he knew that the Volvo in question just had to belong to his partner. Blair’s usual streak of luck dictated things like this were bound to happen to the young anthropologist. And with Cummings on the loose, that made Blair’s involvement even more likely. Fortunately he was only a few minutes away,
Upon arriving at the scene of the accident, Jim quickly exited his truck and jogged toward the intersection where the accident had taken place only moments before. Nodding briefly to a couple of uniformed cops, Jim flashed his badge and then made his way towards the wreckage. He grimaced slightly as he walked past the two covered bodies of the slain policeman who’d been tailing Blair. The stench of their shed blood was almost unbearable, and he quickly moved away from them, turning his sense of smell down. Looking away from the dead bodies, he spotted Blair’s Volvo. Immediately his heightened sense of hearing kicked in and he began scanning for his guide before he even reached the wrecked car. Panicking when he didn’t register Blair’s heartbeat, Jim was slightly relieved to note his guide wasn’t in the vehicle once he reached the wreck. His relief was short lived though, as he as his sight zoomed in on his friend’s blood, dripping from the steering wheel onto the floorboard of the Volvo. All of his sentinel sense immediately kicked into high gear and he began searching the wreck for clues as to the whereabouts of his missing guide.
Scanning the area around the wreck, he spotted a faint trail of blood, and tracked it to a spot where the blood seemed to have pooled, as if Blair must have stopped in one spot for a moment. Something silver flashed in the corner of his eye, tracking it he zoomed in and recognized it as the broken off tip of a needle. His sense of smell registered the scent of his guide’s blood coupled with chemical smell he didn’t recognize. Frowning he began to focus more on the alien scent and didn’t realize it when he began to slide into a zone.
Moments later, he felt something tugging at the edge of his awareness, nagging at him, requesting him to snap out of it. Immediately Jim relinquished the zone, taking in a deep, shuddering breath. Looking up to determine who’d snapped him out of the zone, his came face to face with Simon.
“Jim man, are you alright now. Jesus, you scared the life out of me.” Simon nearly shook his best detective to death. “You were zoned almost five minutes before I could get you to snap out of it.” Simon helped the dazed sentinel to his feet, lending him a steady hand on his shoulder, until the younger man could get his bearings.
Nodding to Simon to signal he was fine now, Jim spoke. “Thanks Captain. I zoned when I found this.” Jim showed Simon the needle tip he’d found. “ I smelled Sandburg’s blood on this, and some odd chemical smell. I found this not far from this blood trail leading from Blair’s car. I think somebody has drugged him, not to mention he was injured in the accident. I smell Cummings all over this one Sir.”
Simon nodded gravely as he took in the sight of Blair’s mangled car. Gesturing towards the personnel working the crime scene, Simon turned back to his friend. “The two officers assigned to follow Blair home were killed, apparently right after the accident. Officer White suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, while Officer Green took one straight between the eyes. Whoever was driving the SUV is long gone, my guess would be the accident was staged, so that whoever’s behind this could slip Blair the drugs. They probably took out the officers so they could have a clear shot at Sandburg.” Simon rubbed large hand over his weary face. This whole Cummings situation was beginning to prove to be very wearing, and he was beginning to worry about how this was affecting Jim.
Jim looked at his surroundings trying to gauge which direction Blair would have wandered off in. His was almost sick with worry from not know knowing where his guide was or what kind of condition the young man was in. Jim turned worried eyes toward his captain. “All I know is this, Blair’s wandering around the city, more than likely drugged out of his mind. We’ve got to find him and find him fast.
Simon nodded his head silently in agreement. Suddenly an idea popped into his head. “Blair more than likely left another blood trail, think you could pick up on it, and maybe that’d lead us to wherever he is right now?”
Jim could have kissed Simon, instead he settled for a radiant smile. “Excellent idea sir, don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.”
Simon graced his detective with his own smile. “That’s why I’M paid the big bucks to be captain. See what you can find, we’re running out of time.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jim and Simon found themselves directly across the street of the Quick-E Mart.
“The trail leads directly across the street into that convenience store Simon.” Jim quickly extended his hearing and found the rapidly beating heart of his guide. Nearly giddy with relief and worry at the same time, Jim swung around toward his captain. “He’s in there Simon, but he doesn’t sound to good, radio that ambulance and notify them that we’ve found him. I’m gonna head on over there to calm him down.” With those words Jim sprinted across the street while Simon radioed the ambulance, giving the paramedics their location.
Jim’s hearing was focused sharply on his panicked young guide as he crossed the street, listening to the younger man’s disjointed ramblings as he spoke with the clerk in the store. Frowning as he neared the entrance to the store, Jim’s heart sank when he realized his partner was once again caught up in the nightmare hallucinations left over from his Golden overdose. He could hear the strained breathing and the off kilter beat of Blair’s heart. Worry washed over him as he
Taking a deep breath to calm and prepare himself for what was undoubtedly going to be a difficult situation, Jim was startled to hear his guide’s once calm voice began to scream as his inner nightmares assaulted him. Not able to stand it any longer, Jim charged through the automatic doors intent on calming his distraught guide. The scene that greeted him nearly caused the older man to be sick. The store clerk had just dropped a phone from his hand, and was trying to placate a pale and shaking Blair, who was screaming at the other man for him to stay away.
When Jim passed through the doors, Blair whirled around and went white as a sheet when he laid his eyes on Jim. The young guide acted as if he didn’t recognize Jim and immediately backed away from his sentinel, falling on the floor in the process. A violent shudder passed through his exhausted body as Blair tried to fight off the effects of the drug he’d been given.
Jim raised his hand slowly in the air to put his confused friend at ease as he walked toward him. “It’s okay buddy, it’s me Jim. It’s going to be alright, I promise.” He knelt down in front of his partner, keeping his movements slow so as not to startle the young man anymore than he already was. It was obvious Blair was caught up in another hallucination, as he seemed to be looking through Jim, as if he wasn’t even there. When he reached toward Blair, the young man suddenly stiffened his eyes rolling into the back of his head, as he passed out.
Jim caught Blair just in time, and slowly lowered his unconscious guide to the floor. Quickly he scanned the young man, using his sense of touch to determine what injuries Blair had sustained in the accident. Running his hands gently over the young man’s head, he located the cut responsible for the blood flowing down the side of Blair’s face. Satisfied it was not much more than a surface wound, he began to check the rest of the young man, determining that Blair had suffered a couple of cracked ribs, and possibly a strained wrist. He was so immersed in his examinations; he didn’t even notice when the medics arrived, until one of them gently touched him on the shoulder. “Sir, please let us through so that we can help him.” Jim ignored them, not yet ready to let go of his guide, having only just found him.
“Jim, man, come on out of it. Let them do their jobs, Blair will be fine, but you need to let them check him out.” Jim recognized the deep voice of his captain. Nodding his assent, Jim gently touched his guide’s cheek, “You’re going to be just fine chief, I promise. I’ll be right here with you.” Reluctantly he surrendered his friend over to the skillful hands of the waiting paramedics.
Simon helped Jim off the floor and laid a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, they’ll take good care of him Jim. You ride with him in the ambulance, and I’ll be right behind you. I want to make sure somebody interviews the clerk, see if he knows anything.”
Jim nodded silently, not yet able to trust his voice, as too many emotions were running through him at the moment. Standing off to the side he concentrated on the paramedics as they worked on his guide.
Jim never knew time could stretch so long. It seemed as if he’d been waiting for hours and hours to receive even the tiniest bit of information regarding Blair. Slumping down further into the hard waiting room chair at Cascade General Hospital, Jim let his head fall back against the wall, allowing his tired eyes to drift shut. His head had begun to ache almost unbearably, most likely due to the stress of the current situation. Maybe it had more to do with his anger at not being there for Blair, protecting him from this attack. It angered Jim that Cummings seemed to be able to stay one step ahead of his no matter what Jim did. He knew the man was intelligent, but even smart people had to trip up sooner or later, and Jim was more than ready to catch Cummings when he did.
Jim winced slightly as the sound of a gurney being wheeled by seemed to echo around inside of his aching head. Wishing once again for the calming voice of his guide to soothe his aching senses, Jim sighed deeply and opened his eyes. The sight that greeted him placed a small grateful smile upon the distressed detective’s face. Simon stood before him, a hot cup of coffee in one hand, and a honeybun from the vending machine in another.
“Thanks Simon.” Jim gratefully took the offered items, needing some type of comfort to calm his rattled nerves.
“How are you holding up Jim?” Simon took a seat next to his friend, quietly sipping his own cup of coffee.
“Been better. Actually I’d be A LOT better if they would just tell us something, I’m tired of waiting.” Jim held the hot styrofoam cup up to his head in an attempt to ease some of his growing discomfort.
“I’m surprised you haven’t tried listening in.” Simon mused as he glanced over at Jim.
“Trust me, I did. But the sound got to be to much for me, and all I got for my trouble was a killer headache.”
Simon grimaced in sympathy, he knew how bad the sentinel’s headaches could be, especially the ones precipitated by worrying about Blair. “I’m sure we’ll hear something soon. He was stable on the way over here, and his vitals looked pretty good from what you told me. More than likely he’s bruised and battered from the accident.”
“Don’t forget the drugs Simon. We have NO idea what he was given or the effects it’ll have on him. You know how sensitive I am to drugs with my sentinel senses. Blair and I haven’t really delved much into how drugs affect his empathy. He’s always hated taking medicine, so we really don’t know what this drug will do to him.”
Jim’s thoughts were interrupted as a petite woman, wearing a white doctors coat came up to greet the two waiting friends.
“Detective Ellison?” The small woman inquired of the two towering men in front of her.
Jim nodded, anxious to get the news on his partner’s condition. “How’s Blair doing? What was he given?” Jim practically bombarded the woman with his desire to get answers about his guide.
Simon grimaced slightly at Jim’s curtness. “This is Detective Ellison, and I’m Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade PD. We were hoping to find out how Blair Sandburg is doing, he’s detective Ellison’s partner.”
The small woman nodded, she dealt with police officers before and understood how they felt when one of their own was injured in the line of duty. “I’m Dr. Yamora, the physician attending to Mr. Sandburg. Have a seat gentlemen and I’ll fill you in on how he’s doing.”
After all three of them were sitting down, Dr. Yamora continued. “Mr. Sandburg suffered two cracked ribs, a mild concussion and a sprained wrist due to the car accident he was in. We ran a tox screen to determine what drugs the young man was dosed with, and have found out he was given a rather high concentration of a street drug known as ‘Dreamweaver’.”
Jim paled considerably at the mention of the hallucinogen Blair had been given. He knew it was a powerful drug that often cause hallucinations so severe in it’s users, many had committed suicide, trying to escape their horrifying visions. He shuddered slightly as he remembered how Blair had looked in the convinence store, on the floor shivering heart racing as he fought off his nightmarish delusions.
“Are you alright Detective Ellison?” the Doctor inquired, not liking the sudden change in the man’s pallor.
“Y—Yes, I’m fine, it’s Blair I’m concerned about. How long before this drug works it’s way out of his system? Will he recover from this?” Jim questioned, not entirely sure he was ready for the answer.
The small Asian woman regarded the detective, feeling sympathy over his worry for his partner. “The drug should h work its way completely out of his system in the next 48hours or so. From what information we have on this new drug, it shouldn’t have any lasting effects on Mr. Sandburg. While the drug is working its way out of his system we can expect him to have severe flashbacks though. We’ll do everything we can to help your friend. He’ll probably be able to go home, barring in problems, in three or four days.”
Jim nodded, once again finding it hard to speak. Simon took pity on his grieving friend. “Can the Detective go and check in on his partner?”
Dr. Yamora graced the two men with a surprisingly beautiful smile. “Of course Captain Banks. Right this way gentlemen, I’ll take you to your friend’s room. He’s pretty groggy right now, so he might not realize that you're there.”
Jim smiled to himself because he knew the doctor was wrong. He knew no matter what, his guide would always know when his sentinel was near. He followed the doctor and his captain, eager to finally be able to see his friend.
A few feet away from Blair’s door, Jim paused catching a scent in the air that was eerily familiar to him. He couldn’t quite place the smell, and the sentinel in him took over as he started off in the direction the smell was coming from.
Simon frowned when Jim started to head off in a different direction, catching his friend by the arm; he waited until the man looked at him. “Come on Jim. Blair’s room is right here. You must be more tired than you’re letting on.”
Jim shook his head slightly as he came out of the mini zone. The scent momentarily forgotten, he smiled apologetically to his friend and the doctor, and quickly followed them into Blair’s room.
An orderly watched the proceedings with an unusual degree of interest. When the two men and the small doctor moved his direction he quickly hid himself in a utility room, cracking the door slightly so he could watch where the men were headed. He froze momentarily when man with the ice blue eyes paused in his tracks, and turned slightly his head tilted in the hiding man’s direction. He seemed about to head that direction when the tall dark man stopped him and gestured toward the doorway leading to the patient’s room.
The orderly breathed a sigh of relief; he couldn’t afford to be discovered now. He was tired of his plans falling through because of that idiotic Detective Ellison, so he was just going to have to remove him from the scene. Rigel Cummings quietly slipped out of the utility closet and headed on his way. After all time waits for no man, and he had things to accomplish. He was determined to take Sandburg out once and for all, and no one was going to stop him---no one.
Jim sat next to Blair’s bed, relieved to see the drastic change in his young friend’s appearance. Blair had much more color to his skin now, and the tight lines of pain had faded away from his face. He looked young and peaceful in his sleep, and Jim was relieved the young man was getting his rest.
“He looks a lot better than he did.” Jim had forgotten that Simon had come into the room along with him. Nodding in agreement, he returned his attention to his guide. “Yeah, he does seem better, but we both know this isn’t over until Cummings is caught and put in prison this time, not the funny farm. I want around the clock protection for Blair.”
Simon nodded, having already anticipated this request. “Rafe’s on his way down now to guard Sandburg’s door. Nobody will be allowed in or out without going through him. Joel will come and relieve him later.”
Jim smiled, grateful for the support from all of his colleagues during this whole Cummings ordeal. “Thank you Simon, I appreciate it.”
Simon smiled and placed a reassuring hand on his friend’s shoulder. “Jim, I know how hard all of this has been on both of you, and all of Major Crimes is behind both of you 100%. Sandburg is one of MY men, and nobody attacks any of my people and gets away with it.” Simon’s voice had taken on a hard edge, and Jim knew that if he weren’t able to take down Cummings, Simon would be more than happy too.
Simon then removed his hand and gestured towards the door. “Now, I’m going to give you sometime alone with your partner. I’ll be back in thirty minutes or so to take you home to eat and get some rest.” Seeing the argument already brewing within his friend, Simon held up a warning hand. “I don’t want any arguments either Ellison. You won’t be any good to Blair if you’re dead on your feet. We all want to track down Cummings and put an end to this mess. In order to do that, I need my best detective sharp and ready for action. Now do I need to make this request an order?”
Jim surpressed a smile and meekly answered. “No sir. I’ll be ready. I just want to let him know I’m here, he’ll rest better once he’s seen me.”
Simon nodded and left the two friends alone.
Jim turned back to look down at Blair and was shocked to be greeted by two very glassy blue eyes. Smiling Jim leaned down and gently laid his hand on top of his guide’s head. Keeping his voice soft so as not to startle his young friend, Jim spoke. “Hey chief, how are you doing. I sure am glad you’re awake now, you’ve been missing all the action.”
Blair smiled weakly, the slowly let his eyes close. For a moment Jim thought he’d fallen asleep until Blair’s heart rate jumped and the young man’s eyes flew back open. Grabbing Jim’s hand in a vise like grip, he hoarsely whispered. “The f-fire people. Gone?”
Jim felt his heart clench, but managed to put on a brave front for his guide. “Yes Blair, they’re gone. You were drugged buddy, but it’s okay now. You’re completely safe.”
Blair nodded slowly, suddenly appearing very tired and worn. Slowly lifting his tired eyes to gaze into those of his sentinel, he barely managed to whisper a soft “thank you” before drifting off to sleep.
Jim smiled sadly, gently squeezing Blair’s hand before laying it down on the bed. “You're welcome buddy.”
Jim then quietly left his partner and went out to let Simon know he was ready to go.
Blair shifted restlessly in his sleep. He had been dreaming of a beautiful waterfall, it’s sounds soft and soothing, calming to him in his healing sleep. But now he kept feeling a presence in the back of his dreams, another’s emotions. They were dark and defiling, marring his pleasant dreamscape with dark angry clouds. Blair shifted and moaned again, as the presence seemed to grow stronger, ever closer as time wore on. Revenge, anger, hate--- these feelings kept swirling around in his mind, the emotions taking over as his dream turned into a nightmare.
Blair began to struggle within his bed, panting slightly with the exertion of fending off the nightmare images in his dream. Something was close, and it was coming for him.
Rafe shifted slightly in the hard chair he was seated in, trying to relieve the uncomfortable pressure on his backside. Sighing he squinted down at the magazine he was browsing through, hoping to find something worth reading. Giving up, he stood up and stretched, glancing down the hallway towards the nurses’ station. It was pretty quiet now, had been since around 8 PM, when visiting hours had ended. Rafe glanced at his watch and noted it was now 10 PM almost time for Joel to come and relieve him.
Twisting from side to side to crack his aching back, Rafe jerked as he felt a sharp sting in his neck. Grimacing slightly, he reached with his hand to rub the stinging spot, when suddenly he felt lightheaded. The hallway began to spin crazily and Rafe leaned back against the wall in an attempt to steady himself. Closing his eyes, he tried to breathe slowly, in and out in an effort to keep from passing out.
A moment later he felt a soft touch on his arm, and he opened his eyes only to find his vision had gotten incredibly blurry. A large hazy figure gently patted him on the arm and began to move him away from the wall. A male’s voice gently spoke to him. “Come with me detective, you look a little tired. Maybe you need to lie down, before you fall down.”
Rafe started to protest there was something he was supposed to be doing, but for the life of him he couldn’t remember what it was. He allowed himself to be pulled away by what he guessed must be an orderly and led down the hallway. A few moments later he felt his legs give way, and his vision began to grow dim.
“It’s alright” The disembodied voice seemed to float around him, “I’ve got you. Almost there.” A moment later Rafe felt himself being lowered on to something soft and felt a hand slowly caress his head. He felt so sleepy all of a sudden, his eyes slid close, and he barely heard the voice one last time before he finally lost consciousness. “That’s it, you rest. Your job is done.”
Jim jerked upright from where he’d been sleeping soundly on the couch. He’d collapsed almost immediately after Simon had brought him home and fed him, ordering him to get some rest. And he had been resting, sleeping deeply, dreaming of a waterfall, when he’d been violently awakened. He knew the cause—something was wrong, and it involved Blair.
Jim was out the door and on his way to the hospital within minutes.
Blair’s mumbling and panting became worse as the nightmare increased, as images of golden people came up out of the water and began moving towards him. He felt himself jerk away from their fiery touch as he let out a scream. Their fiery anger and hate were proving to be too much for his overloaded empathy and he was finally able to force himself to wake up from the dream. He let his eyes stay closed, as he tried to calm himself down, trying to convince himself it was all a dream, the fire people didn’t exist. It was hard to do though as he could STILL feel the emotions swirling around in his head. Then it dawned on him he was not alone--
Assuming it was Jim, he slowly opened his eyes---
And came face to face with one angry Rigel Cummings.
Blair couldn’t believe his eyes, surely his was dreaming. Wasn’t he? Blair closed his eyes briefly; praying the horrible image in front of him had disappeared, only to be sorely disappointed. He swallowed convulsively, he’s throat dry and parched. He started to speak, only to find himself at a complete loss for words.
“Now, now Blair. Nothing to say? No, hey how’s it going Rigel?? Gee, I missed you Rigel. Man am I SORRY Rigel for totally screwing up your life!!” Rigel leaned menacingly over the ill anthropologist, reaching out to lightly caress the frightened young man’s curly locks. Blair jerked away from the touch, fight off the nausea Cummings and his violent emotions were causing him. He turned his face away from the man, not wanting to see him.
Rigel couldn’t help but smile, he’d been waiting for this day for a long time, and now that it had finally arrived he wanted to savor every moment of it.
“Well I tell you what. That hurts. Yes it does, that really hurts me. I’ve spent the last few months DREAMING of you dear Blair.” He roughly shoved aside the young man’s legs as he perched on the edge of the bed. “But you know what? That’s okay, because I’m here for one reason and one reason only, vengeance! You dear boy, are about to pay!”
Jim knew he was breaking several traffic laws but he had to get to the hospital. The feeling that was nagging him before was threatening to overwhelm him, and he couldn’t ignore it. Swerving to barely miss running into the back of a pickup truck, Jim stepped on the gas and turned on his siren. One way or another he was going to get to the hospital, he had a sickening feeling Blair’s life depended on it.
Joel Taggert yawned mightily as he strolled onto the 4th floor of Cascade General. Pausing to let the nurse’s station know that he had arrived for the shift change on Blair’s room. After exchanging pleasantries with one of the particularly attractive young nurses, Joel headed on his way. He was taking his sweet time making it to Blair’s room, since he was actually about 20 minutes early to relieve Rafe. As he strolled down the hallway, he glanced into one of the rooms, and nearly hit the floor. There lay Rafe, snuggled deep into the hospital bed, very much asleep.
Joel shook himself out of his shock, and quickly trotted over to the sleeping detective. “Rafe. Rafe! Wake up, what in the world are you doing in here?!” Joel shook the young man’s shoulder, frowning at he sluggish response from the young man.
“Wha? Wha happen?” Rafe barely slurred out, his eyes heavy and glazed looking. Joel frowned again as he tried to rouse Rafe out of his lethargy. Lifting the listless young man from the bed, he pulled him into a half-sitting position. Rafe’s head lolled forward coming to rest on Joel’s broad shoulder. Joel gently shook Rafe again.
“Come on buddy, snap out of it. Why are you in here instead of watching Sandburg?”
Joel stood abruptly as the reason why Rafe was in this room dawned on him, absent-mindedly letting Rafe fall back to the bed with a thud. The younger man simply rolled over and fell back to sleep.
Joel pushed the button for the nurse’s station. A nurse arrived at the door within seconds. “What are you two doing in this room, nobody should be in here. I need you to leave this room now, and take your buddy with you.”
Raising a hand to interrupt the woman’s ramblings, Joel flashed her his badge. “I’m Detective Taggert. I believe this young officer has been drugged, and I need a doctor in here to check on him immediately. I need you to wait here with him for the doctor while I go and check on the patient he was supposed to be guarding. You might want to alert security that an escaped mental patient is loose on the premises.”
The nurse nodded her consent, and Joel left the room and headed towards Blair’s.
Jim slammed on the brake and quickly shut the engine off and was out the truck’s door in less than thirty seconds. He jogged into the hospital doors, and decided to by-pass the elevators. He figured it would be faster if he took the stairs to the 4th floor. Swinging the heavy door open, he quickly began running up the stairs, taking two at a time. He could already hear his guide’s heartbeat, and it was pounding away furiously. Blair was scared.
Jim man, NOW would be a good time to make an appearance!! Blair thought to himself as Cummings reached for him.
Blair tried to jerk away as Cummings reached for him, but was unsuccessful as the crazed man pinned him down on the bed. Struggling with all his might, he gathered a small burst of energy and managed to knock Cummings off balance, and the older man fell back onto the floor. Blair gasped as his cracked ribs protested all the moving about, and he nearly doubled over from the pain.
Blair barely managed to pull himself from the bed and lunge toward the door before Cummings caught him and grabbed him from behind, slamming him back on the bed. Once again pinning the young man in place, Cummings then began to strangle Blair, his large hands covering the anthropologist’s entire neck. Blair struggled against the inhuman hold, but his strength was quickly waning, already having been taxed by his injuries.
Blair vision began to dim and his arms fell limply onto the bed, as his body began to shut down from the lack of oxygen. His mind ached from the overload of emotions pouring from the deranged man as he attacked Blair. It was almost a relief when he finally began to lose consciousness, his mind seeking relief from a situation it saw no hope of escaping from. The last thing he saw before his body gave up was the Cummings horrid face, grinning madly as he choked the life out of Blair.
Jim and Joel both arrived in front of Blair’s room at the same time, practically running into one another. Not wanting to waste time with explanations, each gave a curt nod of acknowledgement, and then Jim kicked in the door. The sight that greeted both detectives made the sentinel’s blood boil over with rage.
Cummings was on top of Blair; obviously strangling the young man for Blair was beginning to turn a ghastly shade of blue. Cummings was so intent on his mission, he didn’t even here the door get kicked in, nor did he noticed the two men enter into the room.
Both detectives trained their weapons on the murderer, slowly approaching the man. Jim slowly crossed to the right of the man, and managed to find a voice with which to speak. His anger was almost feral; no one attacked is guide and got away with it.
“Let him go Cummings, or I will shoot.” Jim ground out, his voice low and dangerous sending chills down Taggert’s spine, making the man eternally grateful he was on Jim’s side.
Cummings whirled around and Jim flinched inwardly at the amount of hate he saw radiating within the man’s glare.
“Back of Ellison, I’m sick and tired of you interfering with my plans. I’m here to kill him and nobody’s going to stop me.” With that last comment, Cummings turned back to his prey, and tightened his strangle hold on the young man’s neck. Blair’s limp body spasmed convulsively, fighting even in the end for the precious air it craved.
Jim’s voice roared across the room, “NO!!!” and he then took aim.
A second later Cummings heard several shots ring out, then looked down at his chest, staring in wonder at the blood that slowly pumped out in time with his fading heart beat. A second after that he became acutely aware of the pain that seemed to radiate all over his body. Dizziness crept over him and he felt himself let go of his death grip he had on Blair. Sliding off of the young man, Cummings fell to the floor in a bloodied heap, having been shot several times from both Jim and Joel’s weapons.
Jim ran to his guide, who lay on the bed weakly gasping, while Joel checked on Cummings. The older detective looked up at Jim, and shook his head slowly. “He’s dead Jim.” He said softly, secretly happy that the man was now dead and the nightmare over.
Jim nodded as he held his weak guide, urging Blair to breathe, the heaviness in his heart abating slightly as his guide did his best to follow his sentinel’s wishes. “Come on buddy, open your eyes for me. Let me know your okay.” Jim commanded his guide, eager to reassure himself that his friend indeed was alive and safe, the threat to his life now done away with. Blair’s eyes sluggishly obeyed his command to open, and the sight of those beautiful blues greeted him. Blair smiled slightly, a murmured sentinel soft. “I knew you’d come.” Weariness took over and the young man’s eyes slid closed once again.
A moment later, the small hospital room was overrun with the medical staff, as they immediately converged on the young man, shooing Jim and Joel out of the room. Joel gently guided the distraught sentinel out the door and into the hallway.
He felt as if he were filled with the most incredible feeling in the world---peace. It flowed over him and through him, all around him, coloring his dreams a magnificent blue, as blue as the sky on a warm summer day. Sighing softly he shifted, surprised a little when the peace he felt shifted to a sense of anxiousness, a longing almost. Unconsciously he reached out to that emotion and clung to it, eager to see where it led him. Hoping that it would lead him home to his friends and family.
Stretching out his empathy he found his sentinel nearby and felt his emotions, using them as a beacon home. Smiling he slowly opened his eyes expecting to find his friend seated in a chair next to his hospital bed, only to be shocked to find he was at home, resting in his OWN bed.
Closing his eyes briefly, he searched through his fuzzy memory banks, attempting to remember how he’d gotten home. After several minutes he was vaguely able to remember being discharged from the hospital with strict orders of rest, and no talking until the swelling went down in his neck, and his throat wasn’t as sore. He’d been prescribed a couple different types of pain pills, causing him to spend most of his days either asleep, or well on his way. It was no wonder he’d sometimes wake up confused as to his whereabouts. All on their own, he found his eyelids lazily drifting closed again, and he slowly blinked them back open. Shifting slightly in the bed, he toyed with the idea of getting up to get something to drink, only to drift off again, and fall into a light doze.
“Napping again are we chief?” A deep voice floated lazily through his hazy mind, bringing a half smile to his lips.
Finally winning the war against his drooping eyelids, Blair finally turned his sleepy gaze on his friend.
“Hey” Blair hoarsely whispered his throat still raw from the abuse it had taken at the hands of Cummings.
Jim frowned admonishingly and leant a hand as his guide attempted to sit up. He winced in sympathy, as his young friend was barely able to surpress a groan as his ribs reminded him of their recent misadventure. Blair sat still for a moment, in an attempt to catch is breath as the deep ache within his ribs finally subsided. Opening his eyes, he graced his sentinel with another half smile.
“Thanks” came the gravely reply. This time Jim didn’t hold back his reproof. “Quiet chief, you know you’re not supposed to be talking yet. You’ll never get that throat to heal if you don’t rest it properly.”
Blair merely rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically as he accepted Jim’s help up from the bed. It had been 3 days since the hospital had released him from his weeklong stay. His tussle with Cummings in the hospital had not only damaged his throat, but also earned him another couple of broken ribs. All of his injuries had left him feeling week and drained, leaving him little energy for daily actives. Jim had been in full blessed protector mode since the hospital incident, and while it was somewhat comforting, it was also annoying and Blair desperately wished his sentinel would return to work.
Blair took a seat at the kitchen table, and watched silently as Jim prepared a light lunch. Jim turned and glanced at his guide. “Soup okay chief?” At Blair’s nod, he set about warming up a big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup that Joel had sent over the day before. Since both Jim and Joel were on suspension pending the IA investigation of their shooting involving Cummings, Joel had busied himself in the kitchen doing something he said he loved, cooking. The result had been a huge pot of soup, complete with southern cornbread, both of which Blair could not wait to dive into.
His thoughts straying back to the investigation of his partner’s actions, Blair shifted in his seat slightly and reached for his pen and pad. Writing had been his main mode of communication the last few days, and he’d made good use of it. Scribbling his thoughts down quickly, he tapped the table lightly to gain his sentinel’s attention.
Jim stopped his stirring of the soup, wiping his hands absently on a dishtowel, then picked up Blair’s note. Frowning he tossed the pad back on the table and returned his attention to the stove. “Don’t worry about it chief. Joel and I will be fine. You just worry about getting better.”
A loud tapping gained his attention again, and he turned to face his determined young partner. Blair was frowning and his eyes were extremely dilated, suggesting to the sentinel that his guide was scanning him emphatically and was not happy with what he’d found. Blair held up the pad again, pointing to a heavily underlined sentence.
--Don’t lie to me!!--
Jim sighed, rubbing a suddenly weary hand over his face. There was no use in lying to Blair, he figured he might as well tell him the truth. Leaning against the counter, he crossed his arms and proceeded to inform his guide of what had been happening with the IA.
“Okay Blair, I’ll give it to you straight. Joel and I aren’t so much in trouble for killing Cummings, he was strangling you and would have killed you if we hadn’t shot him.” Jim watched his guide closely as the young man’s eyes closed briefly at the reminder of his near death, the event still to recent for Blair to completely deal with it. When his eyes opened again, they were even more dilated than before. Jim sighed then continued.
“What they are concerned about is the fact we shot him seven times between the two of us. It was overkill, not to mention the fact the hospital administration wasn’t to pleased to have bullets flying around their precious equipment. But don’t worry, the worse that could happen is that I’d be suspended for a while, to set an example for the other cops in the field. So stop worrying about it.” Jim good naturedly glared at his guide and then returned his attention the simmering food on the stove, hoping the conversation had been tabled for now. Pausing, he noticed he hadn’t heard Blair move or make any sounds, so he turned around and was greeted by his friend in full zone out mode. Blair was as still as a statue, a frown marring his features, and his breathing shallow. His eyes had lost their blue, the irises having totally dilated now, his eyes appearing black.
Jim quickly went over to his guide and began to draw him out from the zone. “Come on back Blair. Snap out of it, your foods getting cold here buddy.” Jim smiled as Blair jerked slightly, blinking his eyes for a moment, then looked sheepishly up at his friend. Rubbing a hand across his head as he felt a headache coming on, he glanced up at his sentinel.
--Did I zone?---Blair mouthed silently, as Jim did a quick scan of his vitals. Satisfied that everything checked out fine, he nodded to his friend as he stood up to get their food.
“Yeah, ya zoned pretty deep there for a minute. That’s what you get for trying to play lie detector on me. Now eat this while it’s still warm before you fall out on me.” Jim needled as his placed a steaming bowl of soup before his partner, taking a seat himself at the table. Blair merely rolled his eyes and mouthed ‘whatever’ as the two friends dug into their meal. Jim knew Blair hadn’t let go of the previous conversation completely, and would start it up again at another time. Which was fine, but for now, Jim wanted to enjoy the meal with his friend and not think about anything. He just wanted a relaxing day at home, he didn’t think it was too much to ask for. Not after the month they had just lived through.
Chelsea sat within her cell; completely stunned at the news she’d just received. Her father was dead, shot to death by that Ellison. She wasn’t sure exactly how she felt about that, but she knew she should be angry. After all her father was dead, just like her mother. She was all alone now, no other family, everything had been taken away from her.
Chelsea flopped down on her stiff bed and closed her eyes in attempt to stop the tears she felt coming. She knew she wasn’t mourning her father’s passing, but more so was mourning the loss of her freedom. She was supposed to be lounging on a beach in the tropics, not sharing a cell with ‘Hairy’ Alice. But no, she’d foolishly listened to her father and went along with his idiotic plan. And look where it had landed them both, him dead and her rotting in prison.
Her tears abruptly stopped as Chelsea went from self-pity to righteous anger.
Someone owed her big time for her loss. And since she couldn’t collect her debt from her idiot father, she’d get it from the person who’d stolen her chance at it. That person would be made to pay, and pay dearly. Sitting up in her bed she began to concoct her plan. One way or another the person would pay, and her revenge would be sweet. She took a deep breath, feeling immeasurably better than she’d felt a few moments ago. Leaning against the hard wall, she closed her eyes and allowed her mind to drift to the object of her hate, her face smiling sweetly as his name played across her mind.
Yes indeed, he was going to be one sorry cop when she got through with him.
Rafe scowled slightly as he watched his partner, Henry Brown, saunter over his way, mischief written all over his face. Sighing heavily, Rafe braced himself for what was sure to be yet another fascinating attempt at humor from the man. Ever since Taggert had found Rafe fast asleep in the hospital bed instead of guarding Blair several weeks ago, he’d been on the receiving end of countless sleeping beauty jokes. It didn’t seem to matter that Cummings had drugged him, he still was the object of endless teasing. He’d show up to work to find dwarves sitting on his computer, or dancing merrily across his screen saver. He’d get in his car only to find little dwarves sitting in his passenger seat, all strapped up and ready to go. Of course the icing on the cake had been the nefarious bottles of NO-Doze that seemed to magically appear wherever he went, be it the men’s room, the break room, even Captain Bank’s office. He knew all of Major Crimes was in on it, but he also knew his good ole’ buddy Brown was the ringleader.
“Hey baby, how’s it going” Brown asked as he took his seat across from the younger detective. “You certainly look well rested, did you get all your beauty sleep last night?” The comment earned him a scowl and rolling eyes from his young friend.
Grinning Henry reached for the top file in his inbox, and settled in for the day’s work. Opening the file, he nearly jumped out of his skin as a spider jumped from the pages and landed squarely on his face. With a startled yelp, he sent the horrific bug flying across the desk, where it landed squarely on Rafe’s computer.
The younger man merely smirked as he picked up the obviously fake rubber spider and sat it back on his friend’s desk. With a slightly condescending pat on Henry’s shoulder he headed back to his desk. “You okay there Henry? You look a little shaken up, maybe you just need a little more sleep at night. Keep ya from being so jumpy.” Rafe teased as he tossed one of the many bottles of NO-Doze he’d collected recently onto his partner’s desk. A few chuckles drifted across the room, before the entire bullpen broke out into laughter.
Henry tried valiantly to appear upset, but soon gave up as he joined in the laughter with the rest Major Crimes. “Real funny Armani man, real funny.” Henry laughed, as the two settled down to work. “You're getting the hang of it buddy, you're catching on.” He beamed at his friend.
Rafe smiled in response. “Hey been taught by the best.” The two kept chuckling silently as they worked on their ever-increasing paperwork.
A half an hour later, Major Crime’s best detective team strolled into the bullpen deeply engaged in their usual banter. It had been almost two months since Sandburg had come into work, and the people of Major Crimes had sorely missed the energetic young man. Blair had been off work due to doctor’s orders, and had spent time resting to allow his various injuries to heal. He’d driven Jim crazy during his time off, prompting Ellison to plead for his sanity with Simon, urging the captain to see if he could move along the IA’s investigation. A few days later, Jim and Joel were cleared of any wrong doing, and were let off the hook with a light slap on the wrist to be more careful in future situations. Jim had gone back to work the next day, much to Blair’s relief. That had been three weeks ago, and both partners’ had begun to miss each other’s presence on the job. The doctor had finally given Blair clearance to return back to work, and this was the first day back on the job for the young observer. Several of the detectives rushed up to greet the young man, including Rafe and Brown, inquiring eagerly as to the young man’s health.
Blair smiled, his face a little reddened, as he expertly fielded all the questions, assuring all of his friends that he was feeling fine now and was happy to be back. He indeed did look better, less gaunt and tense, more like his usual self. After a few final well wishes and pats on the back, the group dispersed, allowing Jim and Blair to settle back into their routine peacefully.
Jim glanced at his partner, unconsciously scanning the younger man as he reached for one of the files in his over stuffed in box.
Blair tensed as he felt himself scanned by his sentinel. Sighing he attempted to focus on his work."Would you quit it.” He grumbled without ever looking up from his desk.
“Quit what?” Jim asked feigning innocence as he pretended to be absorbed in a particular report he held in his hands.
“Quit scanning me, I can feel it when you do that you know.” Blair whispered sentinel soft, finally looking at his partner. “I’m fine, Cummings is dead, it’s over.”
Jim frowned, and looked back at his work. “I know you're fine Sandburg. Quit scanning me back, I can feel it when you do that too ya know.” Jim growled mimicking Blair’s previous comment.
Blair looked up surprised. “You can? Since when, why didn’t you mention that before, we need to run tests---“ Jim raised a hand cutting of his friend’s rambling.
“That’s why I didn’t mention it chief. I didn’t want any tests to come out of it.” Jim frowned at Blair’s snort.
“Yeah, when was the last time I gave you a test?” Blair commented, crossing his arms waiting for his sentinel’s reply.
Jim opened his mouth to reply, but was quickly interrupted by the booming sound of his captain’s voice.
“If you ladies are through playing gossip, I’d like to see you in my office, NOW!”
Jim winced slightly as he turned down his hearing, following his partner into Simon’s office. Once they had both settled into their customary seats in Simon’s office, Jim spoke up. “What’s up Captain?”
Simon smiled half-heartedly. “First off, how are you doing Blair? I mean really doing?”
Blair looked up slightly shocked, Simon rarely called him Blair and when he did, it usually meant something bad was about to follow. Frowning slightly as he sensed the man’s uneasiness, he quickly turned down his dial.
“Uh, I’m fine Simon thanks. All healed up and raring to go.” Blair graced the captain with one of his high wattage smiles, hoping to put the older man at ease.
Simon smiled slightly in return. “Good son, I’m glad to hear it. You had me worried there for a while.” Blair blushed slightly, turning his gaze to the floor near the captain’s desk. He wasn’t use to this tone of caring from the man, and it unnerved him slightly.
Simon stood up straighter and crossed his arms. “I’ve got something I think you need to see Jim, you too Sandburg.”
Reaching down, he grabbed an envelope off his desk and handed it to Jim.
Jim opened it and immediately frowned, his jaw muscles working over time. “When did you get this Simon?”
Blair looked over at his friend in concern, as he easily picked up on his friend’s blossoming rage. But what worried him more was the heavy amount of fear layered underneath the anger. “What is it?” He asked as he reached for the envelope in Jim’s hand. Not waiting for the answer he glanced at the object in his hands, and gasped audibly as his own anger came to the fore.
He looked at the object in his hand. It was a picture of Jim and Blair leaving the hospital weeks ago. A small note had been roughly stapled to the picture, with a short warning scrawled hastily across it. ‘Be Careful’ was all that the entire note said. But it was enough to cause the three men in the room great unease. A heavy silence rang in Simon’s office, as the friend’s realized their nightmare wasn’t quite over yet.
Simon’s weary voice broke through the tense silence. “I got it this morning in my inbox, addressed to me. But obviously the note is for you two.”
Blair looked up, an odd expression playing on his face. “Did you check to see if Chelsea Turner is still behind bars?”
Simon nodded. “That’s the first thing I did. She still tucked away safe and sound in the pen. None of the guards has seen her do anything suspicious.”
Jim shook his head frowning slightly, as he took the picture away from his guide. Closing his eyes slightly, he focused on his sense of smell as something about the scent caught his attention. A moment later, realization struck, and his jaw clenched even tighter. “I don’t care what the guards say Simon, this smells of her. She sent it.” Jim stated as he tossed the offending article back down on the desk. “I’m growing tired of this captain. Really tired of this.”
“I know Jim, believe me I know. But we don’t have anything to pin on her as of yet; we certainly can’t tell anyone that you think it SMELLS like her. You know how well that’d go over.” Simon admonished, sitting heavily down at his desk, as he suddenly felt old and weary. Jim nodded and remained quiet as he mulled the situation over.
Blair spoke up suddenly, his voice having an odd sound to it. “I wouldn’t worry about it too much just yet. All the note says it to be careful, so that’s what we’ll do---be careful.” Glancing at his watch, he noted the time. “If that’s all captain, I have an appointment to meet with one of the professors, and I can’t be late.”
Jim caught the odd tone in Blair’s voice, and started to question him. Blair quickly raised his hand, effectively cutting Jim off. “Don’t, I’m fine. I just need to take care of this, and I’ll be back here at the station around 2pm or so.” Watching a look of disbelief cross Jim’s face, he turned to look his sentinel in the eye. “I’m fine, and I told you earlier I had this meeting.”
Jim resisted the urge to scan his guide as he pasted a smile on his face. “Sorry, force of habit. You need to check in with me a couple of times, though, until we find out for sure what’s going on.” Blair rolled his eyes and lightly tapped his partner on the shoulder. “Yes mom.” Turning to Simon, he waited for permission to leave.
Simon shook his head as he watched his two men in action, grinning slightly at their banter. “Go ahead Sandburg. Check in with your partner, and I’ll see you this afternoon.”
With a nod to his two friends Blair exited the office, hoping his pounding heart didn’t give him away to his sentinel. He had absolutely no intention of making his advisory meeting; he had other plans he needed to attend to.
Blair waited impatiently for the young woman to be led to the table, and pushed down into the seat opposite him. The guard signaled to the young man that he only had 20 minutes before the inmate had to be returned to her cell.
Blair nodded his understanding, then returned his focus to the young woman who sat across from him, separated by a thin wall of plexi-glass.
Chelsea grew impatient as Blair sat across from her, merely staring at her, with that odd expression on his face. She tried to wait him out, play the staring contest game, but quickly grew bored, and finally leaned forward. “To what do I owe this wonderful pleasure, hmm? Did you miss me?” Chelsea sneered as she sat back in her seat, waiting to here Blair’s response.
Blair merely remained silent, staring at her and saying nothing. He turned his empathy up full throttle, so he could accurately gauge her reaction to what he had to tell her. Blair was going to put an end to this madness now, he’d barely survived dealing with Cummings, but there was no way he was going to put up with the murder’s spawn.
Sandburg had stressed about his decision the whole trip from the precinct. He knew he was trying something rather dangerous, and he’d never really done a controlled test of it before. He had tried it a few times on Jim and it had half way worked without the sentinel knowing. Or if he had known, Jim hadn’t said anything. Of course if the sentinel ever found out about what Blair was getting ready to do, he’d kill him.
Taking a deep breath, Blair began phase one of his little plan. Leaning forward, he put on his most threatening face and sneered. “Oh I missed you alright, but I know you’re not missing me. I hear your roomie has been keeping pretty busy lately.” Blair watched with faint amusement as Chelsea proceeded to turn several different shades of red.
Not giving her a chance to speak, Blair continued. “I don’t have time to waste with you, Chelsea, so I’ll just get right down to it. I know you sent the sweet little note and picture. And I also know who you got to do the dirty work for you, and they’re visiting with my partner right now.” Chelsea remained statue still, absorbing Blair’s words. Blair was extremely grateful she wasn’t a sentinel and couldn’t hear the racing of his heart as he easily lied about knowing who her accomplice was.
“So before you get any more bright ideas,” Blair continued before he lost his nerve to do what needed to be done next. “Just remember, anything happens to my partner, anything at all,---- you’re dead.” Blair delivered this last statement with more venom then he even knew he was capable of. Years of hanging around with lockjaw Ellison had certainly served him well.
With his empathy wide open, Blair was easily able to pick up on Chelsea’s growing fear and anxiety, despite the calm façade she presented to him. Closing his eyes briefly, Blair readied himself for the second phase of his attack. Channeling all his anger and rage over what Cummings and his daughter had put him through for the last several months, Blair opened his eyes and sent the tidal wave of emotions full throttle at Chelsea.
The reaction was interesting to say the least, as Chelsea jumped up from her chair and staggered back as if she’d been physically struck a blow. One of the guard’s stationed across the room noticed the small outburst and started toward the frightened young woman. Chelsea quickly took her seat, and shook her head towards the guard indicating that she was all right. The guard merely frowned, but retreated back to her station.
Chelsea slowly raised her eyes towards Blair, almost afraid of what she’d find. She knew it couldn’t be possible, but somehow for an instance it was if she’d felt all of Blair’s anger, brewing deep inside of her, coming close to overwhelming her. And then as suddenly as she been assaulted by the emotions, they were gone, leaving her feeling very much intimated by the man across the table from her. She wanted nothing more than to get away from Blair and as soon as possible.
Blair’s expression hadn’t changed once. He remained absolutely still, gazing at his tablemate with a look of absolute contempt. It was now time for the final part of his plan. Hoping the female guard across the room would fall for some of the old Sandburgian charm, he offered a dazzling smile, and was quickly rewarded with one in return. Pleased with receiving just the reaction he’d hoped for, he turned his attention back towards Christy, and once again graced her with a feral smile. The young womanly unconsciously flinched, shrinking back a bit into her chair.
“Did you enjoy that? Just remember that if you try anything else at all, I’ll be waiting for you. And believe me I’ll know if you try anything. I do have my inside sources here and they’ll be more than happy to keep me posted on you.” Blair once again glanced at the guard, flashing her a winsome smile. Chelsea followed Blair’s gaze just in time, to catch the guard wink at the young man, than offer a flirtatious smile of her own before looking away.
Chelsea swallowed deeply, and tried to steady her thoughts. Any ideas or plans she’d had before, were over with now. She never wanted to see Blair again as long as she lived, even if she’d imagined everything that had just happened, she knew she was in way over her head. Nodding slightly, she shakily stated her acknowledgement. “I understand, you won’t get anymore trouble out of me.”
Blair nodded his gaze cold and calculating. “Good. Have a nice stay.” And with that he motioned to the guard on his side of the room that he was ready, and with one last parting glance at the trembling young woman, left the room.
Blair barely made it to his car, before the magnitude of what he’d just done hit him full force. Staggering to a patch of nearby bushes, he violently vomited, sickened with his actions. When his stomach had finally stopped churning, he hastily wiped his mouth, and collapsed into his car. Shutting the door he leaned back and tried to gain control of his empathy dial, attempting to turn it all the way down to zero. But his little attack on Chelsea had left him with little control, not to mention weak and exhausted, and he found he had no control left. He’d suspected for awhile that he might be able to force his emotions on another, but had never used it with such intensity before. He done it this time thought to protect his sentinel. He would do anything to keep his friend from harm, and he had honestly felt there was no other way to put an end to this nightmare. He just wished he felt better about it, he never liked violence whether it was physical or physiological, and it always left him feeling so empty inside.
Closing his eyes, he tried to will away his newly acquired migraine, but met with little success. Groaning, he placed his key in his ignition, and began to drive slowly home.
Blair jerked awake with a groan, momentarily disoriented and confused by his surroundings. Memory slowly returned as Blair recalled the reason why he was pulled over to the side of the road in his Volvo. Leaning forward slowly, he groaned again as his migraine returned with a vengeance and merrily began pounding away at his skull. Sluggishly he turned to glance at the clock in the car noting it was well after 6pm. Blair moaned as he vaguely recalled promising Jim he’d be back to help him at the station. Great, just great! Jim gonna be so mad, he won’t even be able to see straight. Blair briefly entertained the idea of running off to some far away tropical island, never to be heard from again, but knew that was just a fleeting fantasy. He knew he had to face his sentinel, and take his punishment. He never should have tried what he had with Chelsea and he was definitely paying the price for that course of action now.
Sighing, Blair turned the keys in the ignition and began the dreaded trek home.
Jim cursed silently as he stormed around the empty loft. He’d rushed home after calling numerous times and not receiving an answer on Blair’s cell phone. He and Simon had both waited well past the 2pm-arrival time promised them by his errant guide. Jim fumed as he stormed around the loft, debating what his next course of action would be.
A few minutes later, just as Jim was reaching for the phone to suggest Simon issue an APB on Blair, the sentinel heard the sounds of his partner’s Volvo turning into the parking lot. Registering his guide’s heartbeat, the detective took a seat on the couch, and bided his time till his guide reached the door. He was planning on giving his partner a HUGE chunk of his mind, and it wasn’t going to be pretty.
He took a long, deep calming breath just before he heard the key turn in the lock.
All thoughts of ranting and raving quickly fell by the wayside as he took in his guides exhausted appearance. Blair was pale and shaky, and a light sheen of sweat covered his brow. Jim could also detect a migraine as his partner’s eyes were dilated and rimmed in red. Anger quickly resurfaced though, as Jim realized Blair could’ve been hurt, and he wouldn’t have known about it, since the young man had never called him as planned. Jim’s eyes narrowed to slits as he waited for his guide to get situated.
He watched silently from the shadows as Blair slowly trudged into the loft, quietly shutting the door behind him. Sluggishly the younger man tossed his keys into the basket and barely managed to hand up his jacket. Then the young man turned toward his still silent friend, and shocked him by speaking.
“You know I know you’re here Jim. I could pick up on your anger a mile away. But before you pull out all the stops and read me the riot act, I’m sorry. I should’ve called but I got detained longer than I thought. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go lie down, I’m not feeling to hot.” With that, Blair turned to head to his room, only to be stopped by a firm hand on his arm, and an angry sentinel.
“Sorry Sandburg. But you’ve got some explaining to do. Simon and I have been worried crazy for the last few hours. I called everyone you know looking for you, and no one knew where you were. I’ve been worried sick, especially with someone playing games with us out there roaming around. Why in the world did you think I asked you to call me, just for kicks?? Something could’ve happened to you, and I wouldn’t have been able to get to you in time Blair. Did you even STOP to think about anybody else for a change?? Where were you anyway? On a hot date?” Jim practically hissed out the last sentence, his anger and worry from the last few hours finally boiling over, and spilling his emotions all over his guide. He let go of his guide’s arm, and waited to hear what the younger man’s excuse would be.
Blair had remained silent throughout Jim’s tirade, taking in what the sentinel had had to say. Jim watched, horrified, at the reaction his words earned him. Blair took a few steps back from his friend, and began to shake violently, his breaths coming out in short, strained gasps. Jim moved to help his friend, only to be immediately rebuffed.
“N-No, stay b-back. Ca-can’t take your feelings—t-too much overload—h-hurts!” Blair gasped out; grabbing his head and squeezing his eyes shut against the powerful pain building like a raging inferno behind his eyes.
Jim instantly went into guide mode, as his distress over his guide’s current condition increased tenfold. He took a deep calming breath to center himself, than slowly attempted to approach his friend again.
“I’m sorry Blair, I shouldn’t have snapped like that, I was just so worried that something might’ve happened to you.”
“No-not your f-fault. S-shoulda called. F-f-fell asleep. D-didn’t mean to.” Blair stammered out through clenched teeth. He was suddenly so cold, and began to hug himself in a vain attempt to warm up.
Blair’s tremors seemed to grow worse with each passing moment as the young man finally turned his tortured gaze upon his sentinel. Jim’s heart nearly broke as he completely realized how much pain the younger man was in. Gingerly he reached for the trembling man, grimacing when he felt how chilled Blair’s skin had become through his clothes. Blair didn’t jerk away this time, in fact, Jim wasn’t altogether sure Blair even knew what was going on anymore. The younger man had begun mumbling under his breath; words spoken so soft the detective couldn’t catch them.
The sentinel led his guide to the small lower bedroom, and helped the young man sit on the bed. Never taking his hold off of Blair’s arms, he knelt down before the ill young man, and managed to get Blair to look him in the eyes. “Blair buddy, you’re not doing to good here. I think we oughta get you to the hospital and get checked out, okay?”
The reaction to his words was instantaneous. “N-no! NO hospital—NO!!” Blair jerked away from Jim, and scooted back on the bed, his back coming to rest against the wall. Groaning, he grabbed his head and slid sideways down onto the bed, the pain of his headache becoming too intense for him to handle any longer. “P-please, no hospital. Just need to rest. Shouldn’t have tried that w-with C-Chelsea. Hurts!” Blair groaned, fighting the raging nausea that was threatening to send him on an impromptu run to the bathroom. Jim frowned at the mention of Chelsea, wanting to ask Blair what he meant, but pushed that thought to the background so he could deal with the situation at hand.
Jim decided not to push the hospital issue, figuring he could care for his guide better at home anyway. He also knew Blair had had his share of hospital stays lately, and was beginning to develop a near phobia about them. “Alright Blair, I’m not going to make you go, it’s okay. Just relax.” Jim soothed his partner, as he gently pulled off Blair’s shoes and wrestled the covers from underneath the shivering man. Blair seemed to relax slightly as the adreniline rush began to wear off and his eyelids began to droop. Knowing his partner’s headache was still doing a number on him, Jim sat next to Blair on the bed and began to lightly massage his friend’s temples. Jim smiled slightly as Blair’s fractured breathing eased into a more restful pace, and the tremors racking his body began to fade. He continued his light massage of nearly twenty minutes until he felt the last of the tremors leave Blair’s body. The young man’s respiration was slow and deep, signaling that he’d fallen into a deep sleep.
He was shocked a moment later when the deep blue eyes slowly opened a gazed at him with an intensity he didn’t quite understand. Leaning forward, he gently patted is friend on the arm, “Go back to sleep Blair, we can talk later.”
Blair shook his head no, and the grip he had on his sentinel’s arm tightened almost painfully. “No” he rasped out, sounding exhausted. “I need to explain, so you’ll understand.” Turning his head slightly toward his friend, he again gazed at him intently and it dawned on Jim that the young man had his empathy wide open, his pupils dilated so far that Blair’s eyes appeared black.
“I went to see Chelsea today.” Jim stiffened a reprimand ready on the tip of his tongue. He was prevented from venting his displeasure by a shake of Blair’s head. “Just let me finish. I went to tell her to leave us alone, and then----“ Blair paused briefly, not entirely sure how to explain what he’d done to Jim. He really wasn’t 100% sure how he’d done it himself. “Then I used my empathy against her, I---I pushed my feelings on her, all the anger, fear and resentment from the last few months. She—she couldn’t take it, she practically fell out of her chair. Scared her good, she won’t be bothering us anymore. ” Blair turned his head away from his sentinel, not wanting to witness the disapproval he knew had to me reflected in his friend’s eyes. He kept his empathy turned up though, partly because he wanted to see gauge his friend’s reaction and partly because he was too exhausted to handle the dials. Not liking how the silence was dragging on, or the feelings he was picking up on, he continued speaking. “I would have been on time to meet you, but I got queasy and had to pull over on the side of the road. I guess I dozed off, and woke up around six. I got home as fast as I was able to. I’m sorry I didn’t call, I didn’t mean to worry you guys. I just came up with the idea and wanted to handle it before things began to get out of hand. I---I wanted you safe.” Blair’s voice trailed off, his exhaustion finally winning, as his body succumbed to the need for sleep.
Jim couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. How could his guide do something so irresponsible and foolish? They’d never tested anything like that with his empathy before. What in the world had possessed his foolish guide to take it upon himself to head over to the prison, and take on Chelsea one on one? Hadn’t he learned from past experiences that when the sentinel and guide worked against each other, things always fell apart? There was no way Blair could’ve know what pulling that stunt with his empathy would do to him. As it was, Blair had completely crashed and burned, snoring slightly and obviously dead to the world. The sentinel scanned his errant guide’s vitals once more and was relieved to find everything seemed to be back to normal. Blair’s skin felt warm to the touch and his heart rate and breathing were at a nice slow pace indicative of deep sleep. The kid had merely exhausted himself, and was sleeping it off. Jim sighed as he rubbed a weary hand over his face, absently noticing a light growth of stubble on his chin.
Blair was a rare individual indeed; Jim mused to himself, as he gazed down again at the sleeping man. He found it amazing the lengths the younger man was willing to go to in order to protect in sentinel, even if it meant his life. And though Jim knew he’d do the same for Blair, he still found in disconcerting to have someone feel that way about him. He was grateful for the friendship extended to him by the young guide, and vowed silently to never take it for granted. That still didn’t let Blair off the hook though, and as soon as the young man roused himself from his exhausted slumber, he and his blessed protector were going to have a nice long chat about common sense, and keeping one’s partner informed of his whereabouts.
Besides, there also needed to be test run regarding this apparent twist on Blair’s empathy. Jim had had no idea that Blair was able to do anything like that. Of course now that he reflected a bit on past events, Jim suspected that Blair probably tested this new facet of his empathy on him a few times. Jim’s eyes narrowed slightly at that realization, deciding that some of the upcoming tests were going to be decidedly unpleasant for the anthropologist. Grinning slightly to himself, Jim slowly rose from the bed, giving his guide one last scan to assure himself the young man was indeed now resting peacefully. Quietly leaving the room, he made his way to the phone to call Simon and let him know that Blair was now home, safe and sound, and that Chelsea was no longer a threat. Thanks to one hardheaded Blair Sandburg.
Thank you for reading this story, be sure to email me if you want to send me feedback!!:-)