Sequel: Fifth installment in the "BlairZone Series"
Author's notes: This story was originally posted to the Sentinel Angst List as a May themefic request for Hephaistos.
This story is for the most part "not beta'd". But two wonderful women, Ruth and Beth, were nice enough to beta the last portion of this story. My sincere and heartfelt thanks go out to both of them. :-)
Detective Peter Tate watched with barely restrained disgust as Detective Ellison and his grungy sidekick, Sand—whatever, strolled into the precinct. How in the world Captain Banks put up with such a slacker among his men was beyond him. If he had his way, the little jerk would be taken down a peg or two and thrown out of the police station on his worthless kiester. No civilian had ANY place working in a department like Major Crimes. They claimed he was some kind of genius boy wonder or something. Yeah right, he’d believe THAT when he saw it. How smart did they all think he was when he was shooting up the police garage a couple of months ago? Stupid hippie had nearly killed every cop in the precinct, Tate had been sure the guy would get thrown out after that horrid incident, but noooo, they all had welcomed him back with open arms. Idiots.
Tate’s gaze then roamed over to Ellison, and disgust on his face grew even more pronounced before he managed to disguise it. He hated the detective even worse than that hippie punk. A few years ago he’d been up for a long overdue promotion into Major Crimes, and it had appeared to be a sure thing, he was, after all, a decorated cop having been bestowed with several honors. Then along came one James Ellison and all Tate’s dreams had gone up in smoke. Ellison had been immediately placed in to Major Crimes while Tate had been sent to Vice. He’d deserved better than to be stuck in some rat hole department like Vice, but that was alright, he’d bide his time patiently and soon enough everybody would get just what they each deserved.
A wicked smile crossed Tate’s face as watched to two partners enter into the lobby elevator. His smile faded quickly though as the hippie raised his head and looked him directly in the eye, almost as if issuing a challenge. Tate felt an involuntary shiver snake down his spine as he felt himself pinned by the younger man’s hardened gaze and intense anger. There was an unspoken promise delivered in that look and Tate felt himself unable to look away. He was granted relief a moment later when the elevator doors closed with a soft hiss and the hostile young man was blocked from view.
Tate felt his temper rise almost unreasonably as he realized the little punk had actually had the audacity to try to intimidate him by staring him down. Peter’s eyes narrowed in a scowl as he stalked off to Vice. Well if it was a fight the little punk wanted, Tate was all too happy to oblige.
Blair laughed as he and Jim strode into the precinct. He still couldn’t believe the sentinel had had NO idea that the young woman at the donut shop had been flirting with him. For somebody so sensitive to pheromones, Jim could sometimes be practically oblivious when it came the opposite sex. The young woman had practically drooled all over the baker’s dozen they had ordered trying everything in the book to catch the older man’s eye. Finally she’d just resorted to giving Jim her phone number, and it had taken all of Blair’s personal restraint not to bust out laughing at the look of shock that had crossed the sentinel’s face. It might not have been so bad had the young woman, Gertrude, not been as tall as Jim, as BIG as Jim, and had a mustache with more hair in it than Jim had on his head.
“Laugh it up Sandburg, maybe I can hook you up with her twin sister, Helga.” Jim scowled as they neared the elevators. His attempt at a threat fell flat as the snickers going on behind him rose in pitch.
“Sorry man, you’re right. Besides, I know you two will be great together, and I---I d-don’t want to stand in the way of true love man. You guys would have s-such s-strong, manly children together.” Blair gave up as the snickers turned into a full out laugh, as Blair leaned against the wall for support, as he tried to calm himself. He couldn’t help himself; the look on Jim’s face at the donut shop had been absolutely priceless.
Jim merely gazed at his young friend with his usually stoic expression. “Keep on joking chief. I see a long weekend of intense housecleaning in your future. Starting with whatever’s been growing in that orange container at the bottom of the fridge the last 2 months.” Blair noticeably quieted, and attempted to settle down, and trying his best to appear calm, he knew the threat was empty but he decided to cut his friend some slack.
Suddenly Blair felt white-hot ball of hate roll through him and he barely suppressed a shocked gasp at its surprising intensity. Opening himself up automatically, he turned up the dial on his empathy, trying to pinpoint the violent emotion's origin. His search grew desperate, as he sifted through the anger and realized a hefty portion of it was aimed at his sentinel. The guide in him quickly came to the fore as protectiveness towards his sentinel surged through the young man and the source of the emotional storm quickly became clear.
Blair barely felt Jim yank him into the elevator as he turned to stare at the person he felt the hate was emanating from. His gaze finally came to rest upon a tall, blond detective he’d seen around the station a few times before. The man stared back at Blair and for a moment the world shrunk down in size until they seemed to be the only two people left. Time slowed to a grinding halt and the air suddenly felt heavy and thick. Blair felt his skin start to go cold and tingly, as he became vaguely aware of his body’s intentions to protect his sentinel. With his empathy so wide open, Blair barely had enough control to restrain himself from overloading, and as it was a little of his anger at having his sentinel threatened managed to leak out and project across lobby and into the other man. Blair watched as the man stiffened for a moment then flinch as he felt brief ebb of fear flow back across to him. The anger quickly returned, wiping the fear away as the other man’s eyes narrowed while he held Blair’s unwavering gaze. Before any other action could be taken, the elevator’s doors closed, and the man with the hateful emotions was effectively cut off from view.
Jim was still lost deep in thought about the shocking offer from the hairy woman at the donut shop, when his sentinel hearing registered a spike in his guide’s heartbeat. A slight jolt of energy startled the sentinel and he quickly registered it as coming from Blair. Jim automatically turned up his hearing to register his guide more closely. Looking down at his friend, he was caught off guard at the almost feral look on Blair’s face. Before he could question the younger man, the elevator had signaled its arrival, the soft ding sounding like an earth-shattering blare with his hearing turned up so high. Irritated the sentinel reached for his distracted friend and fairly yanked the young man into the waiting elevator taking care not to drop the donuts. Jim absently rubbed at his ears trying to lesson the ringing in them, while keeping an eye on his guide. Blair was staring at somebody in the lobby; his face had a look on it that Jim couldn’t quite place. His guide’s eyes were slightly dilated, alerting Jim to the fact that Blair’s empathy was working overtime. Jim was just about to turn his attention out to the lobby to see who had provoked such a response from his guide, when the elevator doors shut, cutting off his view.
With a frustrated sigh, Jim turned to his friend, who was now shaking his head slightly as if trying to clear it. Jim frowned and shifted the box of donuts around so he could reach out with his arm and turned his friend around to face him.
“Blair buddy, what was all that just about?” Jim questioned his guide, watching in concern as his friend slowly raised his head and glanced at him distractedly.
“Huh? All what?” The young man tried his best to look innocent. Seeing the sentinel wasn’t going for the act, Blair turned to obfuscation.
“Oh, nothing man, just thinking about something.” Blair lied easily trying his best to keep his heart from racing. Jim didn’t need to know anything about this just yet.
Jim frowned again, noting the slight jump in his guide’s heartbeat signaling the lie, and started to push the issue, but the elevator doors opened and Blair exited quickly and headed towards Major Crimes. With a weary sigh, Jim followed after his guide determined to get to the bottom of whatever was bothering Sandburg later.
A few hours later found Blair bored and stiff from having sat in one spot to long while helping Jim clear up some long neglected paperwork. Their caseload had been light lately, giving sentinel and guide a break in the constant action that always seemed to be brewing deep within the heart of Cascade. At least that was the lie Blair told himself, to keep from dwelling on the negative thought that perhaps the brass didn’t want an ex-golden druggie out on the streets. Blair sighed, those thoughts weren’t getting him anywhere he hadn’t already visited in his nightmares and he really wasn’t up for a trip down memory lane right now. Blair closed his eyes briefly in an attempt to escape the oppressive boredom and ease his fractious thoughts. He was still worried over the feelings he’d picked up from the cop in the lobby; he couldn’t seem to get rid over the tingly, on edge feeling permeating his mind. Try as he might, the sensation seemed to hang in the air, as if it were a prelude to a disaster waiting to strike when he least expected it.
Giving up all hope of relaxing, Blair opened his eyes and indulged himself in a much-needed stretch, groaning in sinful satisfaction as he felt a deep pop within his back. He couldn’t help but grin at the irritated snort his actions earned him from his sentinel.
Jim scowled slightly, glancing up from his paperwork. “You know I hate it when you do that.” He complained.
Blair shrugged and smiled cheekily. Goading Jim was definitely better than sitting around bored. “Why do you think I do it?” Ignoring his partner’s pointed glare Blair rose from his seat, and gestured to the door. “Be back in a minute, I forgot I left something in the car.”
Blair didn’t REALLY need the book he’d left in the car, for some reason he just felt like getting out of the office. He was starting to feel claustrophobic and the tingly feeling was really starting to set him on edge. He wasn’t quite used to his new ‘super enhanced’ sense just yet and he felt a quickie mediation was needed to calm his soul, or at least get things under control a bit. Five minutes of deep breathing and visions of a blond on a beach anywhere but in Cascade was just what the doctor ordered. His unease must have broadcasted to his sentinel, for he was startled out of his thoughts with a light tap on his shoulder as he passed Jim on the way out.
“Are you alright chief?” Jim questioned as he looked up at his friend, his concern for Blair showing easily in his tone of voice. Blair smiled at his friend’s concern, but honestly didn’t know how to tell Jim about what was troubling him, so instead the guide did what came second nature, he obfuscated.
“Yeah, I’m fine Jim. Right as rain, couldn’t be better. Need anything while I’m gone?” Blair evaded with the skill of a well-seasoned pro.
Jim shook his head no, and waved absently; tracking Blair’s departure with his hearing as he returned his gaze down to the never-ending pile of paper work scattered across his desk. Yeah he’s fine. Right as rain or whatever. Kid claims he’s fine so much he oughta save himself the trouble of lying, and get a T-shirt with a big yellow happy face on the front, and “I’m fine” written on the back. Jim thought to himself as he scowled down at the mess on his desk thinking that if he stared at the stacks of paper long enough, perhaps his sentinel sight would cause it all to go up in a burst of flames.
Twenty minutes later, the sentinel was still waiting.
Tate smiled in satisfaction as he drove back to the precinct. His little reconnaissance mission had went surprisingly well, and he’d managed to obtain quite a little bit of information on one Blair Sandbarf-burg—whatever. As he drove, Pete reviewed the interesting facts he’d just discovered.
First off he’d contacted a person he knew rather well that worked at Rainer University and after a little prodding and finally some out and out bribery, he managed to find out exactly what the hippie was working on. Some crap about heightened senses and super guys called sentinels. Kiki, the research assistant he’d promised a four-star dinner date to, had promised to pull all of Sandcrap’s old articles that had somehow managed to get published. Tate had originally been sure it wouldn’t amount to much considering how much of an idiot he thought the punk was, but had been surprised upon arriving at the university library to have Kiki thrust nearly thirty different periodicals into his waiting arms. Pete hadn’t even bothered to read all of them; the articles were all filled with too many fancy words he didn't understand.
So the little freak must think Ellison is a super-hero, hmmm, wonder if super cop knows his little buddy is busy writing sci-fi articles instead of his ‘thin blue line’ spiel. Maybe someone should clue Ellison in, heck why not let everyone know about boy wonder. Tate thought to himself as he pulled his car into the precincts' overly crowed parking garage.
Humming slightly to himself as he happily began planning a way to drop Sandtrap’s little bomb, he was pleasantly surprised to see the object of his ruminations enter the lot. Well, no need to plan any further, things could just get started here and now.
Tate watched from his car, practically salivating, as Blair walked across the parking garage, evidently headed for his wreck of a car. A faint predatory smile crossed the detective’s sullen features as he exited his own vehicle and stealthily moved towards the young man. He made sure to keep is approach as silent as possible, for he wanted to scare this worthless punk and scare him good. He was so intent on his approach that he was startled a bit when the hippie turned towards him, his eyes flashing with barely contained anger as they focused on Tate. It unnerved the detective for a minute to realize the other man had somehow sensed his silent approach. Shaking off his unease, Tate watched in faint amusement as the hippie began to walk his direction, the younger man’s stride determined and his expression hard as stone.
Tate stopped his forward momentum, content to let his prey come to him willingly. He attempted to relax his muscles to keep himself loose, and ready for action. He was of a mind to settle his beef with Sandbag now, and end this hippie’s days at the precinct once and for all. He couldn’t wait to show the jerk his place in the grand scheme of things, couldn’t wait to knock the anthropologist down a few pegs. He was sure with the right ‘encouragement’ he could get this headcase to realize that he had no right to work at the station, that his sorry civilian butt belonged back in school, hiding behind his ivory tower. It should be easy to get rid of the creep, especially now that Pete had his ‘evidence’ ready and waiting in the wings. As Tate waited for his adversary, he took a good look at the man who dared to walk the hallowed halls of the ‘men in blue’; still shocked the brass allowed the man to do so. The miscreant had hair like a woman, a baby face, and to top it all off was much to short to be worth anything---what kind of backup could this jerk possibly be for that creep Ellison anyway? An ugly smile crept up on Tate’s face as a few interesting scenarios for the odd partnering played out in his mind.
He unconsciously cracked his knuckles, readying himself for battle, as one half of the object of his hatred came to stand before him. The hippie freak crossed his arms and pinned him with an intense glare as if re-issuing the earlier challenge. Tate shrugged off a slight feeling of unease and answered the challenge with a smile; let the games begin.
Blair finally wandered into the parking garage, intent on heading into the Corvair for a little peace. The nameless blond on the far-away beach was calling to him, and he really needed to soothe his nerves. He was only a few feet away from his car, when all the hairs on his neck united as one, and stood completely on end. The faint unease that had been niggling at him all day, suddenly exploded white-hot inside his mind. The threat to his sentinel was near.
Whirling around, Blair spotted the tall, blond detective he had registered earlier, several rows away. Without conscious thought, Blair immediately began walking the other man’s way. The man had a sick smile on his face, and Blair was pretty sure he didn’t like the feelings he was picking up on behind that off kilter grin. A strange since of danger oozed from this man and Blair was sure it was mainly focused on Jim, and he was determined to find out why.
Stopping a few feet away from his new adversary, Blair crossed his arms and pinned the man in place with a particularly handy glare he’d learned from Ellison. Whether it worked or not, Blair wasn’t sure since the man returned the scowl with another half-cocked grin. Blair was seriously beginning to have doubts about this particular cop’s mental capacity. Finally he tired of the half- hearted staring contest, and decided to get right to the heart of the matter.
“Leave Jim alone.”
Blair watched as fear crossed the man’s face for split second before he snorted in obvious amusement, leaning towards Blair in an attempt to appear threatening.
“What makes you think I’m worried about that jerk Ellison?? You ought to worry more about yourself.” The blond man spoke softly.
Blair frowned slightly, what did this guy want anyway? “Why is that exactly?”
“Because I’m not the one claming to be writing about the thin blue line while I’m actually writing crap about some make believe super guys called sentinels. How about that for reason punk.”
Blair tried his best not to let on how shocked he currently was, he knew this guy wasn’t the smartest, but he also wasn’t playing with a full deck. Those two things were a very deadly combination. Blair realized the silence was stretching on a bit to long and decided to put an end to it.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about, and as far as I know, whatever I’m writing doesn’t in any way concern you Mr.---“ Blair paused at a loss for the man’s name.
“Detective Tate to you--you jerk, and it is my business as well as every other law abiding officer in this building business. We don’t take to kindly to liars and frauds in this line of work, I’d bet Captain Banks would like to know about your true study. Not to mention that prick Ellison, what would he think, finding out that his precious boy-toy is actually a lying freak!” Tate pressed on, apparently oblivious to the rising fire growing deep within Blair; the younger man’s skin flushed bright red with barely surpressed anger. Blair barely even registered the fact he was now shaking, his entire focus on the monster masquerading as a man in front of him.
“Or maybe that’s it, you two are in it together. Two little love freaks caught up in their own private fantasy. So if he’s the hero, what are you—his devoted faithful sidekick, a little sweetie pie on the side? Wait until IA hears about this, I can see it now---The great Detective Ellison shamed out of Cascade, he secret love life out in the open, his image tarnished by his secret love affair with the hippie who nearly managed to kill every cop in the precinct while stoned out of his mind. Why were you the only one who got doused? Huh? Answer me that you little punk, why you and no one else. I’ll tell you why--” Tate reached out and roughly grabbed Blair by his shirt, slightly lifting the smaller man off of his feet. “Maybe Ellison slipped ya the goods, and you just couldn’t handle it, that it? Maybe lover boy needed you high, so you’d do the dirty do.”
Blair barely heard the last of the cop’s mocking words, for his vision had suddenly clouded over bright red, and there was a strange ringing in his ears. He felt his heart pounding away as the last of his control faded, leaving in it’s wake a red hot fire that seemed to burn deep within Blair’s tortured soul. Blair felt his empathy turn in on itself and then suddenly expand outward, as his red-hot anger flowed unhindered into the creep across from him. His world swirled in brilliant reds and oranges, as Blair became lost in the tide, barely hearing the faint sounds of a violent scuffle taking place nearby. A few moments passed before he even knew what was happening, and as his vision slowly cleared, Blair found himself on top of Tate, and discovered that he was gleefully wringing the man’s neck.
Detectives Henry Brown and Brian Rafe strolled into the parking garage as they argued back and forth as to where to go for lunch. It was Henry’s turn to drive, so he figured he should pick the place, whereas Rafe was more than sure that he wouldn’t be able to stomach another day of the mystery cuisine from Annie’s Café, the greasy spoon Henry seemed to love with a passion. The partners’ banter continued as they made their way past several rows of tightly parked cars.
“I’m just saying that if I’m driving my vehicle and spending my hard earned gas, I should get to pick the place man.” Henry complained good-naturedly as he dodged out of the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Laughing slightly to himself as he helped Brown avoid getting hit by yet another car as the too drew closer to their destination, Brown’s old 1975 brown Impala. Ran like a baby but was definitely hard on the eyes. Rafe’s humorous thoughts were abruptly interrupted as sounds of an escalating argument drifted lazily their way. He was shocked to discover that one of the voices belonged to a Blair Sandburg.
Grabbing Henry’s arm again, he motioned towards the direction of the altercation. “Come on man, sounds like Hairboy’s in trouble.”
With a quick nod, Brown quickly followed his younger partner; anxious to make sure everything was all right.
The sight that greeted both detectives as they finally caught up with their friend and his apparent adversary threatened to steal their breath away. Blair and another much taller man were arguing, and from the snatches of conversation they were able to pick up on, it sounded as though the other man was threatening their friend, and his comments were extremely derogatory in nature. Whatever the fellow said towards the end of his rant set their friend off, and they watched as Blair began to tremble, not in fear, but in unchecked anger. Shocked beyond belief both men watched Blair Sandburg fairly tackled the tall blond detective they both now recognized worked in vice.
Brown snapped out of his fugue the quickest and raced over to the struggling men on the parking lot pavement hoping to yank Blair off the other man. The last thing the kid needed was to be hauled up on charges of assaulting a police officer. A few folks still hadn’t forgot about the Golden incident a few months back; news like this wouldn’t help Blair’s reputation at all. Besides, Henry wouldn’t want to be the one to explain something like this to Jim or Simon for that matter. As Brown knelt down to grab hold of Blair to lift him off of the clearly distressed victim, he caught a glimpse of the smaller man’s face and felt shock settle within him again. // My god! I think the kid’s lost his mind.// Henry was shocked at the feral look on the other man’s face, Blair’s eyes appeared black, the blues of the irises long since faded by the intense dilation. Brown wasn’t even sure Blair knew he was next to him.
With more than a little trepidation, Brown grabbed Blair by the waist in a near bare hug while Rafe, (who’d finally snapped out of his own fugue), grabbed at Blair arms, attempting to dislodge the vicious chokehold the young man had on the cop. With a mighty tug, both men managed to peel the furious anthropologist off the other man only to each be knocked to the floor as Blair twisted away from them and head back towards his prey. Rafe barely managed to scramble to his feet and catch hold of the fleeing man’s arm only to be accidentally checked by a flying elbow. Rafe quickly let go, as he reached for his injured nose sending a look to Henry that clearly stated---‘you’re on your own now buddy.’
Groaning, Henry got up and started towards the fray once more only to feel a strong hand grip him firmly on the shoulder. “Easy Brown, I got it.”
Henry glanced at Jim and nodded stepping away and allowed the man to retrieve his partner.
Tate was rubbing at his injured throat when he suddenly found himself once again the object of Blair’s fury. The shorter man just managed to land mighty blow to his foe’s midsection before he was once again pulled away. Still lost in his fury the young man bucked and struggle, furious at whomever it was holding him back. As Blair watched the object of his scorn rub at his midsection and send menacing glares his direction, he felt his ire heat up once more. Before he could act on his fury again, a voice permeated his red-hazed mind and called him to his senses.
Blinking slowly to clear his eyes, Blair was shocked to realize that Jim was the one holding him back, and he felt a warm flush of shame sweep across his face. Now that his mind had cleared, and he was regaining some control of his faculties, Blair realized Brown and Rafe stood a few feet away, both of them rubbing their battered posteriors, and while Rafe was also gently probing his nose.
Oh no, tell me he didn’t hear what this creep said!
Jim stood in between Tate and his guide blocking the prizefighters; preventing anymore fighting from taking place. Even though from the looks of the scowling detective, Blair certainly was handling his own Jim smiled slightly to himself. Glancing at his now silent partner, Jim frowned as he took in his partner’s disheaveled appearance and the slightly dazed look on Blair’s face; his eyes still dilated and appearing haunted. It also didn’t escape Jim’s attention that Blair seemed to be holding his side as if he were in pain. Frowning further, Jim moved towards the anthropologist.
“Hey chief. Are you okay? This jerk didn’t hurt you did he?” Jim asked, but before his guide could reply, Tate began ranting.
“What, oh for the love of ----this hippie freak attacks me for no reason at all and you’re asking HIM if HE’S okay?!? What kind of fool are you anyway? He attacked me, he’s a junkie and a perv and I want him outta here immediately.” Tate voice sounded rough, and the man paused to rub his abused throat muscles, the skin already purpling, promising to be quite a spectacular display of bruises in a few hours.
“In fact,” Tate continued, as he glanced over at Henry and Rafe. “These two officers witnessed everything didn’t you guys. Tell Ellison how his little boy toy just went off and started mauling me.” Tate left off rubbing his neck and crossed his arms, apparently awaiting the two partners’ responses.
Rafe noticed how Brown tensed at Tate’s words and quickly grabbed his partner’s arm, shaking his head slightly to forestall anymore rash actions. There had been enough of that already. He then turned back towards Tate.
“Haven’t a clue what you’re talking about buddy. Me and my partner here saw this young man defending himself against you.” Rafe smirked a little, enjoying the violent flush of red that crept up Tate’s face at his words.
Brown caught on quickly and played along. “Yeah that’s exactly what happened. I mean come on, how is this little guy, barely 150 soaking wet, gonna take down you, someone who is easily 220—230lbs, and what, about 6 foot 4 inches tall. Surely you must be pulling our chain.”
Rafe walked over to Blair, and laid his hands on the man’s shoulder. “Blair would you like to press charges against this creep for harassing and attacking you? We’d be happy to help.” Rafe turned a slightly menacing stare at the now fuming Tate.
“Nah, just as long as he leaves me AND Jim alone, I don’t think we’ll be having any further discussions. Will we?” Blair now looked up a Tate and pinned him with a look that meant business.
Tate blinked once, then twice, obviously at a loss to understand the sudden change in events. Scowling further he started to yell, then thinking better of it, settled on hissing. “This ain’t over punk, not by a long shot. You’re buddies ain’t gonna be around ya 24/7, so you’d better watch your back.”
Suddenly Tate found himself face to face with one very ticked off Jim Ellison. “Don’t even think about it. If Sandburg so much as gets a papercut, I’ll figure it’s your fault and hunt you down and then it’ll just be you and me friend.” Satisfied by the rise in Tate’s heart rate that he’d scared the man a little, Jim turned to collect his guide.
Watching their friends leave, Brown and Rafe looked back at Tate and shared a knowing smile. Putting an arm around his friend’s shoulder, Brown leaned in conspiratorially and spoke loud enough for Tate to hear. “ Sure hope nothing happens to Hairboy, bet Tate would hate for everybody to hear how he was taken down by somebody almost a foot shorter and 80lbs lighter than him.”
Rafe chuckled loudly as they started walking away from the now sputtering Tate. “Yeah, who knows, news like this could be all over the building by 4pm. Heck, it could be all over the streets by 5pm and all the perps would know just how much of a wuss old Tate really is. Might make it hard for him to be intimidating when he trying to work. Sure hope it doesn’t get out.” Grimacing slight, Rafe rubbed at his nose and whispered quietly to Brown. “Dang man, Sandburg’s got one wicked elbow hook, my nose is gonna be the size of an orange by tonight. Not to mention my butt is killing me.”
Brown nodded in empathy. “Man my backside feels like it’s been pounded on by a pack of wild elephants man. Who’d thought Hairboy had it in him. Next time he goes off, let’s let Jim handle it.”
Rafe snickered slightly, and nodded. “You got it man, gotta keep my face intact for all the women.”
Brown snorted slightly as they finally neared his car. “Yeah buddy ----whatever, didn’t realize you had that many women to worry about.”
The sounds of the playful banter faded as the two men pulled off and headed out for their now greatly shortened lunch break.
Tate stood still, fuming inside, as he watched the two partner’s drive off. That’s all right ya little freak. You win this round. But believe me there will be another one day, and your little buddies won’t be able to help you either. You just wait. That thought soothed his mind somewhat, and Tate stalked off to Vice, trying in vain to yank his shirt collar up over his neck to hide the hand shaped bruises circling his neck like a choker. He prayed nobody had heard yet, news DID travel fast around the station, too fast.
Jim guided Blair towards the truck; well aware of the fact his friend still appeared to be slightly dazed. As he opened the passenger side to the truck, Blair finally seemed to take notice of his surroundings and turned to his friend, a frown marring his expressive face.
“Wait a minute---where are we going, what’s going on here Jim?” Blair raised his hand up as a signal for Jim to stop with his mothering, slightly exasperated with the sentinel. He felt well enough, except for his aching side, so he figured they were going to head back to Major Crimes.
Jim sighed. “Sandburg, you just went toe to toe with that Tate character, your empathy is wide open, your face is starting to bruise and your shirts torn.” Jim lightly touched Blair’s jaw, wincing in sympathy as the younger man flinched away from his touch, obviously the bruise was a sore one. “Not to mention the fact I think you managed to get a rib or two cracked or at least bruised. Don’t think I didn’t notice the way you’ve been holding your side. I know he hit you pretty hard there chief. I think we need to get you checked out, just to be on the safe side. Plus, I don’t really want to explain to Simon right now, how you left on break looking normal, and came back looking like you do now.”
Seeing Blair getting ready to question him about how he’d know Blair was in trouble, Jim beat him to the punch.
“Before you even ask, I got to wondering what had happened to you and listened for you, and pinpointed your heartbeat going about a hundred miles an hour. I told Simon I was headed out for a bit, and tracked the sound down to the garage. I spotted you and Tate going at it, even got to see Brown and Rafe bite the dust when they tried to pull you off the guy.”
Blair looked away, not wanting to answer the unspoken question in Jim’s voice. Finally Blair turned his gaze to the floor and spoke so softly Jim had to turn his hearing up high to catch the faint question.
“I ---I didn’t embarrass you did I?? I mean, how much did you hear—you know, between me and Tate.” Blair kept his eyes down, not wanting to see Jim’s expression. He shut his empathy down so as not to pick up on any negative vibes, he hadn’t meant to take a swing at that creep Tate, but the threat he’d felt toward his sentinel had been too overwhelming to ignore. Before he realized it, he had attacked, and he was pretty sure his rash actions had succeeded in nothing more than screwing things up worse.
Blair was still gazing at the floor, drowning in self-incrimination when he felt the hand of his friend come to rest on his shoulder. Looking up, he was surprised to see Jim smiling.
“Chief, we have seriously gotta work on this self-image problem you seem to have. Heck no you didn’t embarrass me, you handled Tate like a pro. Not many guys could take down somebody as big as that fellow, and yet you did without any problem whatsoever. That took guts.” Blair smiled slightly, a little surprised at the complement. He’d thought Jim would have jumped all over him for fighting at the station. He softly murmured “Thanks” and turned to get in the truck.
Jim waited for Blair to get situated, before he shut the door and circled around the vehicle, climbing into the driver’s seat. He was just getting ready to pull off when he paused. “To answer your other question---yes I heard everything he said.” Jim’s words were spoken with a soft growl; a hardness creeping into his tone that Blair was all too familiar with. Jim was obviously still fuming at Tate and his actions.
Blair nodded his understanding at how his sentinel was feeling and turned his gaze out the window. “Then you know we could have a big problem on our hands.”
Jim sighed heavily, eyes raised heavenward as he prayed for some relief from the torment in which he currently dwelled. Rubbing his face wearily, he nearly jumped out of his skin when a wolf like howl erupted from the seat next to him, signaling his friend was at it again.
“Hey laaaaadies!! Whoo-hooo, looking GOOD!!” Blair’s next wolf call was cut short as he found himself yanked semi-roughly back into the truck’s cab. “Hey maaaan, lay off the skin! Don’t bruise the guide, cause I AM THE MAN, I------AM----THE---umphh.”
Blair’s last words were abruptly silenced as a large sentinel-sized hand clamped his mouth tightly shut, signifying in no uncertain terms that his weary partner had had enough. Once Jim was assured he gotten his heavily medicated guide’s attention, he once again tried to reason with his friend.
“Come on chief, settle down will ya? We’re almost home, god, what did they give you at the hospital anyway? I’ve never seen you act like this before, not even when you’ve had too much to drink.” Jim complained, working his way slowly through the gridlocked streets of Cascade as he wondered what fates were currently plotting against him. He honestly didn’t now how much of Sandburg he could take in the younger man’s current state, obnoxious didn’t even begin to describe Blair’s actions.
“Ah maaaan, you are---you -- ahh—you’re just tooooo tense, Mr. Ten-sy man, always with the negative vibes. You need to loosen up----whoa!! What do we have here?” Before Jim could grab him, Blair was once again leaning out of the truck’s window, throwing catcalls in the direction of two young women walking along the sidewalk. The two women merely smiled and waved at the brass young man. Jim tried to keep from rolling his eyes into the back of his aching head; even drugged and sleepy, Blair could charm the women. Another wolf call sounded out, and Jim once again, moved his friend, being mindful of his injuries, back into the truck.
“Blair, come on man. If you keep this up, you’re gonna bust another rib and we’ll have to go back to the ER again, is that what you want?” Frowning slightly when he didn’t get an immediate response, he glanced over at his friend and immediately regretted it. Blair was gazing intently out the window, sticking his tongue out at a little girl in the Suburban next to them. She evidently was enjoying it for she was sticking hers out in return.
Jim clinched his jaw and tried to remind himself that it wasn’t Blair’s fault that the ER doc had decided to try a new painkiller on his friend. When Jim had finally managed to coerce his reluctant guide into the ER to get his aching ribs checked, the partners had been informed that Blair did indeed have a cracked rib. The ER doctor, Dr. Kirshmi-something, had briskly bandaged the ailing man up, then shot him up with some new painkiller they were trying out. Not more than five minutes after Blair received the shot, he’d collapsed on the exam table into a fit of hysterical giggles, mumbling something about a big black kitty. Jim had closed his eyes, counted to ten, and asked the doctor how long Blair would be like this. The doctor had merely shrugged and told the distressed detective that the painkiller effected everyone a little differently, but most people were out like a light within the hour. The doctor had assured Ellison that once his friend fell asleep, he’d be out for hours.
Jim was still waiting.
Exactly eleven minutes later, Jim gratefully steered the truck into the loft’s parking lot, eager to get Blair inside before the young man could get started up again. Blair had quieted down the last five minutes and was apparently about ready to drop, his eyes half-mast, and a decidedly goofy grin gracing his face.
Jim sighed yet again, and went to help his help his friend from the vehicle. Surprisingly, the younger man seemed o still have his legs about him, and managed to make to the front door of the building without keeling over. The two men progressed steadily to the elevator and managed to enter it without incident. Once inside, Blair pulled away from his sentinel, and leaned against the opposite wall, his glazed eyes attempting to focus on his friend, his arm unconsciously still protecting his injured side. The guide obviously found something amusing because he kept giggling all the while he was watching his friend. Jim became so engrossed in watching Blair watching him that he didn’t realize the elevator door had opened. A small hand tapped him on the shoulder, and he looked down to see old Mrs. Kelly standing next to him.
“Are you boys alright? You both been standing there staring at each other for the last few minutes.”
Grimacing slightly, Jim nodded. “Yes Mrs. Kelly, we’re fine. Blair’s just a little under the weather and I’m taking him inside to get some rest.
An indignant snort cut Jim’s words short. “I am NOT under a sweater, I have on a shirt man, get---it---right.” Blair pointed his fingers at a startled Mrs. Kelly, apparently not realizing she wasn’t Jim. Jim quickly grabbed hold of his friend and steered him past the startled woman. Blair jerked and looked up at his friend.
“Hey! Stop moving around like that, you’re making me dizzy here maaaan.”
Not nearly as dizzy as you’re making me chief. Jim nodded good-bye to the older lady, hoping to forestall anymore questions from the woman, and directed his partner home. He’d almost made it home free, when Blair turned and called over Jim’s shoulder. “Call me sometime honey bun—“ Jim snatched his partner into the loft and slammed the door closed behind them, leaving a rather intrigued Mrs. Kelly pondering the young man’s last words.
Once inside Blair promptly passed out, leaning heavily against his sentinel as the man caught him, breaking his fall. The unconsciousness quickly turned into a deep sleep and the young man began snoring a few seconds later while Jim still held the limp figure in his arms. Half dragging, half carrying his heavy load to its final destination, Jim began to contemplate the wisdom of murdering his guide.
Tate slammed the door to his home with such force that a few innocent pictures, once hung with such care upon the walls, came crashing to the floor with a deafening cadence. Tate barely acknowledged the mess, choosing to step over the broken glass and tattered frames, heading to his small kitchen in search of the one elixir that always soothed his soul. Reaching in the refrigerator, he pulled out a Heineken, and quickly took off the top, taking a long swig of the beer before heading into his bedroom.
Inside his sparse sleeping quarters, the morose man snatched of his tie and his jacket closely followed. Setting the beer bottle on a small table serving as a makeshift nightstand, Pete headed into his bathroom to inspect the damage the hippie freak had done to his neck. Turning on the bathroom light, he was shocked to discover the large purple bruises lining his throat. Memory of the viciousness of the other man’s attack began to resurface, and Tate felt his anger welling up inside of him again. Glancing briefly at all the other bruises and contusions that the Sandclap character had inflicted upon him only served to fuel his already burning rage. He could not allow what had happened to pass, how could any self-respecting man forget what had happened to him. How dare that freak attack him in broad daylight, in the middle of the precinct garage no less, and get away with it. He would never forgive the other two ‘cops’ for lying for the stinking punk, protecting him like some wayward little brother. That Ellison character was even worse, protecting his boy toy, how DARE he threaten him in front of the others. What was the saying?? Birds of a feather flock together? More like rats in this case.
Tate slammed the bathroom light off, and stalked back to his bed. Grabbing his bottle of beer he frowned, his elixir wasn’t serving its intended purpose tonight. He wasn’t relaxed, he wasn’t calming down, he was furious and somebody would have to pay. Namely the four who’d thought they’d conspire to make a fool of him.
Wait----just wait, each would get what they deserved.
He couldn’t wait.
The phone rang, screeching through the once silent loft like a siren, snapping Blair awake almost instantly. With a groan the young man slowly slid upright from where he’d been napping on the couch, and gingerly reached over to grab the phone from the coffee table being mindful of his still aching rib. He prayed it wasn’t Mrs. Kelly again, the woman had called several times in the last few days, always wanting to make conversation. Each time she called, Jim’s grin would grow impossibly wider, as if he knew something that Blair didn’t. The younger man had a sneaking suspicion the older woman’s attention had something to do with the day Jim had brought him home, drugged out, from the hospital. Blair didn’t remember much of anything from the time the doctor had given him the painkiller until he had awakened the next morning. That had been a couple of days ago and Jim stubbornly refused to fill him in on what had happened on the ride home. Judging from the frequency of Mrs. Kelly’s calls, Blair probably DIDN’T want to know.
The phone’s incessant ringing demanded his attention and warily he clicked the ‘talk’ button and spoke.
Soft breathing. Still no one spoke.
“Look, if this is you Mrs. Kelly, for the last time I am not interested alright?”
A soft chuckle followed by the maddening silence.
Blair’s empathy suddenly went on red alert.
“Who are you?”
The silence was broken only by the soft puffs of air, as the caller breathed heavily on the other end.
A feeling flowed over Blair and he felt his defenses rile up, in preparation for battle. Deja vu coursed through him as the emotions leaking through the other line felt eerily familiar---a threat---his sentinel---JIM!!
“I know you don’t I?”
The caller quickly disconnected, and a dial tone was Blair’s only response.
Brain Rafe hummed softly to himself as he strolled to his car in the precinct-parking garage. Glancing briefly at his watch, he still couldn’t believe how late he and Brown had worked this evening. It was well past midnight, and the partners had managed to wrap up a rather sticky murder case that Captain Banks had entrusted into their hands. Rafe and Brown had been surprised to receive the case, things like that usually went to Ellison and Sandburg, but both had eagerly jumped at the chance to show their worth for the police commissioner.
They’d finally tracked down the suspect, a 41-yr. old high school teacher by the name of Mrs. Eclesworth accused of murdering her school’s principal, outside of her sister’s suburban home. The distraught woman had grabbed one of her nieces and brandished a weapon about, threatening to harm the small child if the cops didn’t let her go. After a tense stand off that lasted several hours, Eclesworth’s sister finally convinced her to let the child go and surrender, which the woman did, albeit reluctantly.
Rafe and Henry had then hauled the murderess to the police station, where they had interrogated her for the better part of the evening. The woman finally admitted to killing principal Barnes in a fit of jealous passion, she’d found out he’d been diddling one of the younger English teachers on staff. She had confronted Barnes about the love affair, and the two had argued. When Barnes threatened to fire her if she didn’t leave him alone, Eclesworth pulled out her small caliber weapon, and shot the man in cold blood. Once the confession had been signed and paperwork filed, both partners discovered it was way past time to have gone home. Brown had already left for the evening a few minutes earlier and had looked a little worse for the wear.
Rafe shook his head sadly as he neared his car. He still couldn’t get over the fact that someone as innocent looking as that teacher could be capable of such a vicious crime, even threatening her own flesh and blood no less. Sometimes Brian wondered why he stayed in Major Crimes, especially when such awful cases as this one crept across his desk, clouding his heart and mind with the depressing content, but he knew the answer and couldn’t deny it’s truth. He would never be one to sit on the sidelines and allow injustices to take place, he’d seen enough of that in his young life and had taken vow to prevent it from happening to others. Besides, Major Crimes had become his family where his own had failed him, and he could never imagine working anywhere else, and didn’t want to.
Feeling a little better due to his brief yet meaningful soul-searching, Rafe smiled as he opened his car door; a warm bath and good book were calling his name and waited for him at home. Usually he’d peruse the net in search of fanfiction regarding his favorite cop show, an addiction none of his friends knew anything about, but tonight he wanted to loose himself in the printed pages from the past. Maybe a little Robin Cook, or even some thing from his collection of Mary Higgins Clark mysteries. His love of mystery novels dated back to early childhood and probably had a lot to do with his decision to become a detective.
As Rafe slid into his front seat, he heard the soft sounds of footsteps headed his direction. Rising quickly from his car to see who was roaming about at this hour, Rafe felt an odd rush of air fly by his face followed quickly by a searing pain. Darkness came quickly, and soothingly carried him away.
Brown wearily opened to front door to his small home in the heart of Cascade. His home sat nestled between houses of similar design, all resembling shoes boxes lined along each side of the well traveled road. Only their colors offered any variety, for apparently the same contractor had built all the houses on the block. Brown had chosen the house due to the low asking price, but secretly had loved it’s fixer upper status, loving to work with his hands and he spent a lot of his spare time puttering about his abode. He’d recently re-done his bedroom, adding paint and wallpaper, and hanging new drapes. Not to mention the second hand king-sized bed he’d found at a flea market on the other side of town. The room had gone from drab and worn looking, to cozy and inviting, and after the rough day he’d had with his partner and that crazy woman; his new room was just what the doctor had ordered.
Henry closed his front door softly, locking it securely behind him, time on the force always keeping him careful in such things. With a weary sigh, he navigated through the darkness and easily found his way to his bedroom. Without bothering to turn on any lights, Henry kicked off his shoes and dived into his waiting bed, anticipating the softness that would greet him and send him on his way to the land of Nod.
The sensations he received were not quite what he’d hoped for, as he landed on a pile of sharp and splintered objects. Sitting up abruptly, the detective reached over to turn on his lamp, only to find air where the object should have been. Frowning, Henry rose from the bed and stumbled across the room, tripping over several misplaced objects in his haste. Finally he found the light switched, and immediately the room was bathed in a harsh light, bringing to life a nightmare before Henry’s eyes.
The room was ransacked. Clothes lay strewn all over the floor, his lamp had evidently been thrown, for it lay shattered in pieces on the other side of the room. His beautiful bed had been taken to with an ax, and pieces of the once exquisite headboard lay shattered all over the bedspread. Brown felt his heart pound into his throat as he ran from the room, and turned on the light in the living room.
The damage he found in that room was no less daunting. Family pictures had been smashed from their frames, and ripped into shreds, apparently thrown about like confetti at a party he hadn’t been invited to. His furniture had been slashed and paint thrown all over the walls. Whoever had done this had wanted to hurt him and hurt him they had. Not wanting to see what other damage had been done to his beloved home just yet, Henry sat in one of the disfigured chairs in his living room. Placing his head into his hands, Henry silently let the tears fall, thankful that no one was there to witness his silent breakdown, as months of hard work was abruptly flushed down the drain.
A quickly as they had started, the tears ceased as Henry had never been much for crying. Not a manly thing to do, his father had told him time and time again. Shaking off bad memories he didn’t want or need, Henry removed his hands from his face, hastily wiping away any evidence of his momentary lapse into tears. Rising slowly, Brown pulled out his cell phone and dialed 911 as he sadly moved around his home, attempting to assess what other damage had been done.
Jim glanced at his watch, it was still 9 am, and once again he found himself wondering where his partner had wandered off to. Blair had mentioned something about having a quick errand to run promising to be gone no more than an hour; of course that was exactly an hour and 15 minutes ago. In light of recent events, Jim felt justified for feeling a little mother hennish at the moment. His younger partner had just returned back to work at the precinct, having been off for almost a week due to his cracked rib. A check up at the doctor’s office confirmed what Jim already knew; the rib was healing fine and should pose no problem for the anthropologist as long as he continued to take things easy. Jim snorted a little at that last thought. When had Blair EVER taken ANYTHING easy? Smiling slightly Jim shrugged off his ill ease and returned his attention to his crowed desk. A faint scowl crossed his face as he recognized some of the paperwork as belonging to Rafe and Brown.
Glancing around the office, Jim noted the two men were absent from the room. Winding his thinking back to when he and Sandburg had first come a couple of hours earlier, he realized he hadn’t seen his friends then either. An odd feeling passed over Jim, causing the hairs on his neck to stand on end. Something wasn’t right with this picture, the sentinel mused, and he felt that his tribe wasn’t safe. Frowning, Jim stood up from his desk and approached Simon’s office, intent on finding out if the captain had heard from either man yet.
Half way to the captain’s office, Jim picked up on Rafe’s scent, the young man always wore an expensive brand of cologne, and could hear the faint sounds of distress coming from the younger detective. The ill ease began to grow stronger as Jim waited for Rafe to enter the bullpen. The sentinel in Jim immediately surged to the forefront as the watchman took in the battered appearance of his co-worker.
Rafe’s manner of dress was slightly off; likely do the fact the young man appeared to be in considerable pain. The left side of the handsome detective’s face was bruised, his left eye nearly swollen shut and a small cut graced his forehead. Realizing his friend was moving about somewhat on autopilot, Jim reached out and took hold of Rafe’s arm, directing the man to sit down in a nearby chair. The words were almost out of his mouth before he realized it.
“My god Rafe, what happened? Have you been checked out, are you okay? Who did this, did you see them? Were there any witnesses?” Jim questioned his need to protect his tribe member, almost overwhelming in its intensity. Rafe smiled slightly at the older detective’s barrage of questions.
“I’m okay Jim, thanks. No I didn’t see what hit me. One minute I was getting into my car to leave the next I was lying on the pavement next to my car. I didn’t get a good look at the assailant, besides at the time I was busy trying to keep my head from pounding off my shoulders, it was hurting pretty bad last night.” Rafe grimaced slightly at the unpleasant memory, looking up at Jim with his one good eye.
Jim went into full medic mode, and began to probe the younger man’s face, searching for any signs of a break, or cracks in the skull. “You didn’t answer me earlier—did you go to the hospital and get checked out?”
Rafe shook his head no; “I didn’t feel like sitting around the ER until six in the morning, besides I’m alright, just got a heck of a shiner.”
Jim frowned, what was with these younger guys these days? Rafe was almost as bad as Sandburg was when it came to lack of self-preservation. When his sentinel touch detected no serious injury, and he was satisfied that Rafe would be fine, Jim ended his examination.
“Alright slugger, I guess you’ll live. You should still get checked out though, make sure something didn’t get knocked loose in there.” Jim’s tone was firm, offering no room for argument. Rafe nodded in acceptance, he really wasn’t feeling to well and didn’t want to expend the energy to argue at the moment.
“We’re there any witness around when this happened?” Jim asked again.
“No, just me, it was pretty late. I came to on the ground and checked out my car thinking that maybe someone had wanted to steal something out of it. Everything looked fine, except for me that is. So I just headed home, figured I’d deal with it this morning.” Rafe looked sheepish toward the end of his comment, the look on Jim’s face told him the other man didn’t think too much of his decision.
Sighing Jim nodded, and gestured toward Simon’s office. “Let’s tell the Captain what happened and then get you checked out alright.” Rafe nodded and slowly got up, his eyes clearly giving away how much pain he was in.
On the way to Simon’s office, Jim paused. “By the way, where’s your partner at? Haven’t seen him yet today.”
Rafe frowned, wasn’t like Henry not to be on time. Looking over at Jim, he shrugged. “I don’t know, he always beats me here, he should have come in by now.”
Simon’s office door swung open just then, and the large man gestured for the two detectives to come in.
Blair hummed along with the song on the radio, tapping his fingers along with the beat. Glancing at the clock on the bank across the street, he groaned as he realized he was running a good 30 minutes behind schedule. He was surprised Jim hadn’t gone into full blessed protector rant mode yet, he should have received no less than 5 phone calls from the sentinel by now, demanding to know where he was, and when did he expect to be back. Shrugging off the thoughts, Blair decided not to worry about. Likely Jim had gotten caught up in work, and hadn’t realized how late his partner was running. Blair smiled a little as he turned his car down the road that would lead him back to the precinct.
It wasn’t as if he’d meant to be late, things like keep track of the time always seemed to fall off his radar, probably was why he never wore a watch. He’d never think to check it anyway. Still taping is fingers in time to the pop driven beat coming from his car radio, Blair yawned a little, as he thought back to his early morning meeting which had turned out to be an absolute bust. He still wasn’t sure who had left the message on his answering machine stating he had a 7am meeting with Professor Kingston, but he couldn’t wait to find out who’d pulled the prank. Blair had rushed to make it to the University on time for the meeting, only to find out it was a hoax. Professor Kingston wasn’t even in for the rest of the week; he was gone on vacation with his family, somewhere in the Bahamas.
Figuring he’d make good use of the trip out to Rainer, Blair had holed up in his office, catching up on marking papers, and researching a few articles for his paper that was due in a week. He’d gotten so engrossed in his work, before he knew it an hour and a half had passed and he realized he was late getting back to the station.
Blair was still several blocks away from the police station, we he spotted a familiar truck sitting at the intersection on the opposite side of the street. He smiled to himself as Jim spotted him and waved, a few seconds later his cell phone went off.
“Hey Jim, where are you and Rafe off to?” The light changed, and Blair decided to circle the block instead of going straight towards the police station.
“Hey chief. Rafe got attacked last night, and I was just running him over to the hospital to get checked out. I left a note on my desk for you. We shouldn’t be-------“
Jim’s voice was suddenly cut off as the line went dead. Blair frowned as he punched in Jim’s number, only to be told that the unit was not turned on. Frowning further Blair glanced in his rearview mirror and nearly ran into the car in front of him. He saw smoke billowing over the tops of the houses not far from the street he’d just turned off of. Quickly turning the next block, Blair finally managed to circle back to where he had first spotted Jim and Rafe.
His heart nearly stopped beating as he eyed the four-car pile-up in front of him. Smoke billowed from the wreckage, and Blair’s insides twisted as he realized Jim’s truck was in the middle of the mess. Quickly pulling over to the side of the road, Blair jumped from his car and took off running toward the pile up, intent on getting to his friends. Of it’s own violation, Blair’s empathy flared completely open, as he began to shift through the smoke to get to the truck. Waves of pain and fear rolled through Blair, nearly stumbling him and he realized they were coming from Rafe. At least he knew the young man was conscious, but that realization only worried him more because he wasn’t picking anything up from his sentinel. Nothing at all.
Rafe slowly shook his head; none too happy to discover it had underwent further abuse. The aching was so great; death seemed to be the only viable respite from the pain. Reaching a shaking hand up to his forehead, he felt a thick sticky substance, pulling his hand away he attempted to focus and realized his hand was covered in blood. Well, that can’t be too good. The groggy detective then realized he was seated inside of a truck, and as memory flooded back he quickly remembered where he was and what had just happened. Ellison!!
Painfully turning his head, he reached out his arm toward the unconscious man next to him in the driver’s seat. Not wanting to injure him further, he gently shook the man’s shoulder, hoping to rouse him from his unconscious state. A weak groan emerged from Jim, and Rafe closed his eyes briefly in heartfelt gratitude, and shook the man once again.
“C’mon Jim, snap out of it.” Rafe’s voice didn’t sound right to his own ears; it sounded far away, as if in a tunnel.
Jim groaned again, and pushed himself off of his steering wheel, grimacing at the pain the simple movement caused him. Belatedly the sentinel realized someone was talking to him. Blinking his eyes open, he realized it was Rafe.
“Are you with me man, I hope you are---I’m—(cough) I’m not feeling to great right now.” Rafe moaned, as a vicious wave of nausea passed over him. Leaning back he closed his eyes, grateful when the drumming inside his head shifted to a slower beat. Off in the distance he could barely hear the sounds of sirens, and hoped it was an ambulance, and that said ambulance was full of drugs that would take away his pain.
He was enjoying the thought of being heavily medicated when he felt someone touch him gently on his face. Thinking it was Jim, he sluggishly opened his eyes, wincing at the brightness of the daytime light, as the drumming in his head picked up it’s previous pounding beat. Automatically his eyes snapped shut, deciding for themselves that they preferred the darkness to the harsh light. Jim would just have to wait a minute; he really wasn’t feeling so hot. He just wanted to sit quietly with his eyes closed, hoping that he’d fall asleep and find out this was all just a bad dream. A bad, bad dream.
“Sir, ---Sir!! We need you to keep your eyes open for us. Can you tell us where you’re hurt?” An angel in white greeted him, as he obeyed her command. Smiling dreamily at the beautiful apparition before his eyes, Rafe attempted to answer her question, and promptly threw up.
As Blair neared Jim’s truck he saw that the paramedics were already tending to the two men. Fear twisted inside of him, and again he searched with his empathy attempting to ascertain how badly his sentinel was hurt. This time he easily picked up on his friend, finding confusion and slight pain at the forefront of his sentinel’s emotions. Releasing a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, Blair made it over to Jim and knelt down by his injured friend, who was propped up on the side of the truck, being tended to by one of the medics.
Jim looked up wearily, sensing his guide’s arrival, and graced him with a half smile. Gently touching his sentinel’s arm as a means of centering his friend, Blair softly voiced his question, so as not to assault his friend’s hearing in case it was out of whack.
“Jim, how are you holding up here man? You gave me quite a scare.”
Jim smiled slightly. “Been better, but definitely not worse. I’m fine, just got a little banged up.” The sentinel assured his guide. Blair glanced over at the medic, who nodded his agreement. “He’ll be fine, just got bruised from the steering wheel, probably got a little mild whiplash and a slight concussion. We’re going to run him in just to check and make sure. More than likely everything will check out fine, and they’ll send him home.”
Blair nodded absently, already intently focussed back on his sentinel. Whispering softly so the medic wouldn’t overhear, the young man leaned closer to his friend. “How are the pain dials Jim? Is everything okay?” It still bothered Blair that he hadn’t been able to pick up oh his friend for a minute there. He was always able to read Jim even if the other man was sleeping. Could it be because the sentinel had been unconscious? Whatever the answer, Blair was worried. He didn’t like being cut off from his sentinel, for a moment he had thought his friend had been killed. Suddenly Blair remembered the other passenger in the truck.
“What about Rafe? Is he okay?” Blair began to search anxiously for his other friend. How could he have forgotten all about the other man like that? It was like he was so worried he couldn’t think straight, something kept niggling him in the back of his mind, trying to push to the front and gain his attention.
The medic reached out, and gently grasped his shoulder to calm him down. “He’s already loaded into one of the ambulances. He’s got a pretty good concussion, and a couple of bruised ribs. They’ll take good care of him don’t worry.”
Blair nodded relieved to hear his friend’s injuries weren’t life threatening, but disheartened to learn they were severe enough to warrant a hospital stay. He was just about to ask the medic another question when he suddenly felt the fiery hot emotion of another wafting its way through his empathy.
Abruptly he stood, shutting out all activity around him and automatically pivoted in the direction he felt feelings coming from. In the distance a small crowd had gathered, watching the accident scene as if it were a spectator sport of some sort. In the midst of the crowd, Blair spotted a tall man turning away from the scene, moving swiftly through the mass of bodies. The man was dressed in a long coat and had a hat on, hiding the color of his hair from Blair’s eyes. As the man hurried along, he bumped into another man who happened to be coming from the opposite direction, causing his hat to slide off. Before the tall stranger could place it back on, Blair got a good look at the hair color. The man was a blond, and no longer a stranger.
Blair’s mind screamed, enraged beyond comprehension, as the young empath recognized his enemy.
Rage boiled white-hot within the young man and reason momentarily fled in the face of vengeance. Without thinking, Blair stalked off in the direction Tate had fled, determined to put an end to their quarrel once and for all.
Jim watched in utter disbelief as Sandburg stormed off without so much as a “later Jim” thrown his way. What the heck had just happened? One minute the young man was fawning all over him in mother-hen overdrive, the next minute Jim had been dropped like a hot potato. This did not bode well, not at all.
“Blair!!” Jim called after his guide, hoping the younger man would snap out of whatever odd mood he’d suddenly slipped into.
Blair paused a moment and glanced back at his sentinel, but the eyes that gazed at back at him showed no recognition. The normally brilliantly blue orbs were now black, the eerie dilation associated with Blair’s empathy in overdrive having kicked in.
Uh-ohh, this is SO not good. Jim thought as he struggled to stand. Usually Blair would respond to his voice in these types of situations. Calling after his errant guide, Jim’s insides clinched as he watched the younger man pick up his pace and disappear behind a crowd of by-standers.
Realizing time was of the essence, Jim shrugged off the now irratating assistance of the medic and reached for his cell phone, finding it on the floorboard of the battered truck. Trying to ignore the twinge of regret of his beloved trucks mangled appearance; Jim hastily dialed Simon’s number. Once again brushing off the quiet entreaties of the concerned medic, Jim was caught off guard when a booming voice spoke in the background.
“Ellison!! Quit giving the medics a hard time and let them assist you man!” Simon admonished none to pleased with his detective’s actions. It was obvious the man was hurt and he couldn’t understand his friend’s reluctance to accept the help it appeared he needed.
“Simon! Thank god, look I need your help here. Sandburg was just here and he’s gone off---“ Jim paused a moment and motioned his irritated captain closer, not wanting the medic to overhear his next words. “He’s gone off half cocked—I think he’s zoned.”
Simon’s eyes widened considerably at this interesting piece of news. “He what??”
Jim sighed; he really didn’t have time to break this down to A-B-C level for the man. “Look you know about his empathy, well he’s zoned on someone. He took off that direction, and wouldn’t even stop when I called his name. He just glanced back, it was as if he couldn’t even see me, or didn’t know who I was.” Jim paused, the slight ache in his head beginning to grow in intensity. Finding his pain dial, he managed to alleviate most of the discomfort. He didn’t have time for pain right now, he needed to find his guide. His earlier unease was returning three-fold and he knew he needed to find his friend now! The urgency was killing him.
Simon closed his eyes and sighed inwardly. Why were things NEVER easy with these two? He’d received the call about a four-car pile up on Bronson Ave; dismayed when he’d been told Ellison’s truck had been in the middle of it. He raced out of the precinct and gotten to the accident site as fast as he was able too, glad the Bronson Ave wasn’t more than 10minutes away from the police station. He’d been filled in on both Rafe’s and Jim’s conditions by the first medics he found when he had first arrived, and had been relieved that neither man was too seriously injured. Rafe had already left in one of the ambulances and was on his way to the hospital, when Simon had spotted Jim brushing off the attempts of the poor medic who was fervently trying to help him. Even though Simon hadn’t spotted Blair anywhere around, he should have known Jim’s agitated state had something to do with his missing partner. What else could agitate the sentinel more than his guide?
Sighing out loud this time, he looked intently at his friend as he questioned the medic. “Is this man in any shape to leave, or does he need to go directly to the hospital?”
The medic knew where this conversation was leading and decided his opinion was already a lost cause. “He’s got a slight concussion and appears to have mild whiplash. No he doesn’t need to go in right this minute but he ought to be checked out as soon as poss---“
Before the medic could finish, Jim snagged Simon’s arm and dragged him towards his car. “You heard the man, I’m fine. Let’s go, before I loose his heart beat.” Jim directed, climbing into the captain’s car.
“Jim, I don’t think a concussion and whiplash are the ‘exact’ definition of ‘fine’, but I’ll humor you if you humor me. As soon as we find Sandburg and I wring his neck for this little stunt, you ARE going to the hospital. Do I make myself clear detective?”
“As clear as a bell sir. I got it—find Blair—wring his neck—then hospital.”
“Good. Just so we have an understanding.”
Tate knew he had to move quickly. He was pretty sure that runt Sandspeck had spotted him and he knew he didn’t want to get caught at the scene of the crime. How the hippie freak had spotted him in the midst of that crowd he didn’t know, but he knew he couldn’t get caught. Not after what he’d just done. Trashing that creep Brown’s house had been one thing and knocking that idiot Rafe upside his head another, but he hadn’t expected his newest plan to go so awry. He thought he’d had everything planned perfectly, he’d messed with the cop’s breaks, causing them to leak fluid just slowly enough so that they would work for awhile before giving out on Ellison. He’d figured the guy would just rear end someone and be out the deductible on his insurance. Maybe get a little banged up in the process. Never had he imagined that the cop would end up in the middle of a four-car pile up. Tate knew he’d messed up on this one, he was getting too careless, reckless even with his actions. He needed to think things through more clearly, figure out what his next course of action should be. He’d do all that just as soon as he got away from the hippie.
Tate quickly rounded the next corner and spotted an alley off to his left. Jogging quickly towards it, he looked behind him briefly to see if he could spot the hippie. Not seeing him in the throng of people milling about behind him, he turned back towards the alley and began to walk down the darkened path. Fortunately he knew this little path well; having frequented it on occasion with some of Cascade’s more interesting nightlife. He knew his car was parked to far away from this spot, he’d a least been smart enough to park far away when he’d first noticed Ellison’s truck careening into the other car in front of him. Delighted beyond belief at actually getting to witness his handy work, Detective Tate had pulled over as soon as he could and trotted the few blocks back to sit back and witness the show. And what a show it had been, smoke billowing out in all directions, like some faceless entity, swallowing up everything in its path. He’d been able to blend in easily with the rest of the crowd, standing by watching, as various ambulances and patrol cars pulled up to assist the wounded. It’d been great, that is until the hippie had shown up.
Tate still couldn’t understand HOW the creep had just happened to be there, let alone how the younger man had spotted him. The kid was beginning to freak him out a little, just HOW did the kid know he was there. Tate had been watching Ellison and his boy toy talking while the medic appeared to be answering some questions the hippie had, when all of a sudden the punk had just stood up and looked directly at Tate. For a minute Pete had felt as if his soul had been lain open for all to see, irrationally Tate had felt as if everyone could sense his guilt, knew about his involvement in the accident. Blair has held is gaze and for a split second, Tate had felt powerless to break the hold the man seemed to have over him. He’d finally been able to shake himself free of the gaze and move away, only to find Sandcreep was following him.
Man he hated that kid!!
Tate’s inner musings kept him so occupied he didn’t even notice the figure a few feet in front of him in the dark alleyway until he ran smack into the smaller man. Jerking away from the unwanted contact, Tate frowned then jumped slightly as the shadowed figure spoke softly.
“I warned you didn’t I?” The darkened figure moved slowly into a faint shaft of light that managed to pierce its way into the alley. Tate’s ill ease grew tenfold as he realized the voice belonged to Blair. How the heck had the kid found his so fast?? As Blair moved closer, Tate got a good look at the younger man’s eyes, and for a moment, his blood turned cold, feeling much like ice, as it snaked through his tightly constricted veins. The eyes were black, wait a minute that couldn’t be right, Tate nervously thought, weren’t the hippie's eyes blue?? Whatever the color, the message in them was all to clear. Tate was in some serious trouble.
“I warned you, and yet you didn’t listen. I’m going to make sure that mistake doesn’t happen again. Ever.”
Jim urged Simon to drive a little faster, irritated by the man’s slowness and lack of urgency at finding his guide. He didn’t think the captain truly understood just how serious this situation was, and how much worse it could get. The sentinel had never seen Blair in this mode before. That thought alone frightened Jim; there was still so much about Blair’s ability that neither of them understood. That lack of knowledge could one day be their undoing.
Once awhile back when a young woman named Chelsea had threatened the two of them, Blair had confronted the young woman at the prison facility she was being held at. In fact it was then that Blair had come to fully realize a new facet of his empathy when he threatened Chelsea by projecting his emotions on to the unsuspecting woman. The after effects of that careless action had left Blair drained and unable to handle even his sentinel’s emotions for hours after the incident. Not to mention the effect it had on the young woman, according to a recent psyche test the sentinel had managed to get his hands on, Chelsea was still rated as delusional and withdrawn. Apparently Blair’s projection had irrevocably scarred the woman, leaving her forever lost in her fractured mind. Neither sentinel nor guide had spoke about the incident since it happened, fear being the main reason for the hesitation to broach the subject on Jim’s part. He just didn’t know what to think about that part of Blair’s empathy; quite frankly it scared him.
Jim shuddered at the thought of what Blair was intending to do this time around, and how it would affect his guide. This was the problem Simon didn’t really understand, and Jim didn’t think he was up to explaining things at the moment, his head was aching, and his neck and shoulders were killing him. For some reason the sentinel couldn’t get a firm handle on his dials and his pain was affecting him more than it should be. Of course, the sentinel mused, if his guide were by his side like he SHOULD be instead of running off after god knows who, planning god knows what, he could get some help with his pain. Shifting slightly in his seat, Jim allowed his eyes to close as he tracked his guide’s ever- moving heartbeat. The young man had yet to stay still, it was almost as if he were stalking prey. Jim opened up his sense of smell as he barely caught a whiff of his guide’s after-shave.
“Take a left here Simon, he’s close. No wait a minute—"
Jim paused as he cocked his head in slightly, signaling to the captain that he was in full sentinel mode, and that absolute silence was needed. A moment later the sentinel spoke.
“He’s stopped.” Turning his head to the left, Jim glanced past Simon’s broad frame, spotting a menacing looking alleyway. He sensed his guide was in that dark place, and was anxious to retrieve him.
“He’s there Simon. He’s stopped and he’s arguing with someone. Wait—I don’t believe it. It’s Tate.”
“Tate, who the heck is Tate?!?” Simon bellowed, instantly grimacing in apology as the sentinel clamped his hands over his ears, forgetting that the man had his hearing turned up high. He pulled over to the curb next to the dark alley and turned the engine off, waiting for his detective to recover and answer his question.
Once the ringing in his inner ear ceased, Jim finally answered his captain. “He’s a detective in Vice, and he has a beef with Sandburg and I being partners. They had an argument a while back but----“
Jim’s voice trailed off as an odd expression crossed his face. Suddenly the sentinel snapped to immediate attention.
“Simon, we gotta go now.” Jim bolted from the parked car, not waiting to see if his friend was behind him.
Simon groaned as he quickly followed suit, whatever was going on in the alley, he knew it wasn’t good. Wishing he were anywhere else but there, Simon quickly followed his friend into the alley, determined to back his team up in whatever manner was needed. He just prayed it wasn’t anything too freaky, he really didn’t think he could handle that right now.
Blair stood still as he watched the criminal in cop’s clothing fidget in front of him. He could barely think straight, he was so angry with the creep in front of him. When he’d spotted Tate across the street from the accident scene, the man’s guilt had nearly screamed at his empathy, admitting what the detective couldn’t say verbally. Tate was responsible for the accident that had sent Rafe to the hospital, and injured his sentinel. Blair still couldn’t believe another cop would go so far as to injure a fellow officer just because he didn’t like the fact Jim was partnered with him. Tate had endangered countless lives with his reckless actions, his guilt poured off of him like some deceased stench, and it filtered over to Blair sickening him as his empathy sucked it in and spat it back out.
A small, tiny part of the guide realized that he was way past being rational and needed to calm down and think things through. But the larger, insistent part of him was governed by raw emotion, at that part demanded retribution for Tate’s actions. Blair could barely see the alley around him, the only color in his vision red, fitting with his temper and the rushing emotions flowing through him. He could barely make out Tate mumbling vague threats and weak promises of hurting Blair, but he didn’t care. The man had nearly killed his sentinel and he must pay.
Vibrating with a raw energy he’d never felt before, Blair took a step towards the other man, smiling slightly as Tate flinched and involuntarily stepped back, fear peaking out behind the cracks in the tough guy mask the cop had plastered across his scarred face. Blair empathy flared open wider as he unconsciously began to prepare for his next move. His pulse quickened, and the energy within him began to coil and twist as his anger and fury took form and substance. Turning his heated gaze upon the man, Blair began to speak.
“Save your pathetic excuses for someone who cares, I cannot tolerate your actions any longer. How dare you endanger the life of my friend, and those around him. Do you realize how many others were hurt in that accident? DO YOU EVEN CARE??” Blair’s voice rose in pitch, his body trembling against the maelstrom he held captive within his soul.
Tate scowled, he’d had enough of this punk and despite whatever unease he felt at the younger man’s words he was determined to put an end to the runt once and for all. The punk was way smaller than he was; child-like in size compared to his bulk. What could Sandtrap possibly do to him? Last time the creep had gotten in a couple of lucky punches, but not this time. This time Tate was ready.
“Who’d ever believe a little prick like you?? You’re nothing, but a raggedy tag-a-long for the glorious Ellison, there to kiss his butt, and do his paperwork. You’ll never be anything but a kiss-up, and everyone knows it. If you’re so special, why couldn’t you protect your partner an hour ago? Where were you when he was busy running into every car on the street, injuring innocent passengers left and right? Huh?!? You worthless hippie freak, you and your scum friends in the department think you are so smart. Well how smart do you feel now punk, with NO one to back you up this time. How tough are you.” Tate sneered as he attempted to regain some of his lost bravado. No way would he allow himself to appear scared to this creep, it was time to take matters back into his hands.
Blair’s slight trembling grew in intensity as the other man’s taunts acted as fuel for the fire within him. This had been the story of Sandburg’s life once too often. People constantly dismissed him because of his appearance or his size. Through out his life, Blair had had to deal with bullies, intent on making him feel useless and insignificant because of his height, or his long hair, or anything else they could come up with. Well, Blair Sandburg was sick and tired of being picked on and looked down at. He couldn’t take anymore and wasn’t going to. Tate would be made to understand; no one talked to him like that anymore and got away with it. And no one threatened his sentinel and got away with it.
Once again Blair took a step toward the other man, and when he spoke, his voice was deep and low, carrying softly across to the other and delivering a fateful message in its tone. Blair was beyond pissed and it was time to let Tate know just WHAT he could do.
“I’ll show you how tough I am---" Blair hissed, as Tate reflexively shrunk back from the heated venom in the other man’s voice.
Blair was just about to unleash his fury, when a voice cut through his mind, slicing through the fiery haze and demanding his attention.
The small distraction was all Tate needed; when Blair turned at the sound of his sentinel’s command, Tate struck out delivering a blow to the smaller man’s midsection. His satisfaction at the smaller man’s exclamation of pain was short lived, as Blair immediately straightened, and pierced Tate with an almost inhuman glare.
“Stupid move man.”
Those were the last words Tate heard before his world erupted into a wall of white hot flame, fury and anger meant solely for him crashing into him, flowing through him, around him, pressing in on him. His mind screamed at the onslaught, unable to understand what was happening, opting to shut down and deal with the horror later. Tate dropped to the ground, unseeing, as the vicious attack continued mercilessly, wave after wave of raw emotion pounding into him with no end in sight. Anger, hate, fear, fury ----All swirled bright red in his mind’s eye, taunting him without remorse and finally Tate understood.
He should have left Ellison alone.
The crooked detective sluggishly realized he could hear someone screaming in the background, the person's anguish and pain etched horribly into each wail. Belatedly it dawned on Tate that he was the one screaming as the darkness waiting patiently in the wings took pity on him, and swallowed him up whole, finally releasing him from his torment.
Jim and Simon both stood in silent shock, having just witnessed Blair’s emotional assault on Tate. Neither man spoke for a few seconds, as they attempted to understand what they had seen.
“Jim---is he okay. He doesn’t look so good.” Simon’s harsh whisper carried through the alley, echoing eerily down the damp corridor, his concern for Blair evident in his hesitant tone.
Jim shook his head no, he knew Blair wasn’t okay, but at the same time he didn’t want to get Simon too worked up just yet.
“He’s zoning a little. I just need to talk him out of it, that’s all.” Jim tried to sound reassuring, which was difficult considering this was usually Blair’s territory, not his.
“Jim?” Simon’s whisper now took on a more harsh edge, fear beginning to seep into his voice. “What the heck just happened? I mean, what did he do to Tate?? The man is a mess, look at him---I mean Blair didn’t even touch him Jim. What is going on here?” The captain’s normally deep voice cracked a little, testimony to how well the captain was handling the situation. Which was well at all.
Jim glanced back at his captain and sighed. This was exactly what he had wanted to keep from happening. Simon had enough problems dealing with his sentinel abilities without freaking out every five minutes. How was he going to explain about the things Blair could do with his empathy? Sighing again Jim whispered back. “I’ll explain everything later sir, right now I need to take car of Blair.”
Simon nodded, excepting Jim’s words for now. “You bet your badge detective you’ll be explaining everything to me later. Do you need any help with him?”
Jim shook his head no and motioned for Simon to stay back as he slowly approached his guide. He had tried to stop Blair from doing what he had feared the young man was planning, and had almost succeeded until Tate had suckered punched the younger man. Jim knew the blow had been vicious, he doubted sincerely that he had even needed his enhanced hearing to hear Blair’s ribs bruise once again under the blow. Jim however had not expected Blair to push the pain away so quickly, he had hoped, no make that prayed he would be able to grab Blair and stop him. No such luck, for Blair had succeeded and Tate now lay at the young empath’s feet, a sniveling, quivering mass of flesh, all coherency lost as Tate’s eyes held a vacant stare, silent witness to the torment the crooked cop had just suffered.
Jim finally neared Blair and quickly assessed his guide’s condition before reaching out to touch the trembling young man. Blair’s skin was so pale that in the darkened alley it almost appeared translucent, an odd bluish undertone giving the young man a garish quality. His breathing was slow, and his darkened eyes glazed, staring out at nothing as if his mind were lost in the reality of what he’d just done. Jim gently touched his distraught guide’s shoulder, only to be jolted by a shock of emotion so electric in its intensity it nearly crippled the sentinel. Quickly withdrawing his hand, Jim gently rubbed at his aching head as he circled around to the front of his guide, effectively cutting off the young man’s view of Tate. The action caused Blair to snap out of his self-induced fugue and finally take notice of his sentinel.
“J—Jim? Wha- what hap’un?” Blair’s voice was slurred, his body movements jerky, almost as if he were trying to reconnect himself and having considerable trouble accomplishing the task. The sight reminded Jim vaguely of a marionette whose strings had just been cut, then tossed carelessly to the side.
“Blair buddy, you’re gonna be alright. I just need you to find that dial and turn it all the way down, can you do that for me?” Jim softly questioned his friend, recognizing Blair was on the verge of a full-blown zone out. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched as Simon went to check on Tate, as he simultaneously radioed for back up. Both Simon and Jim had over heard Tate’s heated words to Blair, both men now knew that Tate was responsible for Rafe and Jim’s accident. While Jim was horrified at what had just happened, he felt no remorse for Tate, only disgust at the monster that dared wear the title of “protector”, marring the good name that cops everywhere struggled to maintain. Admittedly he also felt pride at what Blair had done for him, willing to protect Jim no matter what. Jim was beginning to realize more and more how fortunate he was to have Blair as a friend, a partner, and as his guide.
Blair shook his head sadly, despair written all over his pale face. When he finally answered his voice was shaky, breathless with his private pain. “No dials, a-all gone. L-lost control, c-can’t get it back.”
Jim’s eyes closed briefly against the pain he heard in his guide’s voice. Ignoring the steadily increasing ache in his head, Jim slid into his role as guide and attempted to help Blair stabilize somewhat, at least until they were able to get somewhere more private. Away from Simon and his evident shock at what had just transpired. Jim knew he needed to sit back and take in everything that had happened, and he also knew Blair needed to crash badly. The tremors in the younger man were growing steadily worse.
“C’mon buddy, I know you can find that dial, you’re just a little tired right now is all. Close your eyes and concentrate—find the dial and turn it down to zero.” Jim commanded; he could hear the faint sounds of sirens in the distance and he wanted to get Blair calm before the uniformed cops showed up.
Blair obeyed his sentinel’s commands and closed his eyes. Jim waited anxiously and a moment later, Blair’s eyes opened and he looked dazedly at his sentinel. An odd expression flitted across his face briefly, before a placid mask fell in place, effectively blocking Blair’s true emotional state from his sentinel. The young man ran a trembling hand over his haggard face, the once again gazed at his worried friend, pasting a ghastly attempt at a smile on his face.
“Found the dial, thanks Jim. I’m fine now.” The sentinel frowned at Blair’s tone of voice; it was flat, devoid of emotion, dispassionate even. Focusing in on his vitals, Jim frowned even further as he found Blair’s heart to be racing, almost as if the man had just finished running a marathon. Blair was on the verge of collapse no matter what the young man claimed. Jim rubbed at his aching temple; he needed a drink, a nice tall stiff drink.
Simon’s voice cut through the tense situation like a knife. “Gentlemen, we have a serious situation here and we better get our stories straight. Not to mention Jim needs to get to the hospital.”
Sensing the sentinel’s pending argument, Simon shifted into full-blown captain mode. “Don’t even try it detective. We had an agreement. We’ve found Blair and I’ll for go wringing his neck for now, so that leaves the hospital, which is exactly where we are going. Is that understood?”
Jim nodded silently in acquiescence to his captain's order; realizing it was a lost cause. Hopefully Blair could hold out until after a trip to the hospital. Jim glanced at his guide as he reached for him, in an attempt to offer some sort of support.
To his dismay, Blair shrunk away from his gesture, adamantly shaking his head no. The man then wrapped his arms tightly around his torso, almost as if in attempt to hold himself together, as he moved away from Jim.
Jim sighed deeply, this wasn’t good, wasn’t good at all.
Henry Brown leaned his weary head against the hard wall in the hospital waiting room. Sighing, he reflected over the last 36 hours and decided without any hesitation, that they had sucked. He had thought that getting robbed and having all of his family heirlooms destroyed was awful enough, the time and effort it was going to take to replace the damaged items and repair his home was astronomical in itself. These worries paled in comparison to finding out that your partner and best friend had been first mugged the involved in a car accident.
Henry had been at home, moping over the damages he’d discovered, when he finally remembered he needed to call in to work and let Captain Banks know what was going on. Rhonda, Simon’s secretary, had quickly filled him in on the accident report involving Rafe and Ellison. Before the woman had finished telling Brown what hospital his partner had been taken too, Henry was out the door and on his way to Cascade General. That was over two hours ago. Most of his time at the hospital had been spent in this small waiting room, watching various people from all walks of life pass by, each lost in their own worlds, as some received joyous news about loved ones, while others were dealt a devastating blow.
Shaking himself from his steadily declining thoughts, Henry noticed a trio of familiar looking men headed his way. Quickly standing, he heartily greeted Jim, Simon and Blair, eager to have some sort of companionship, having long past tired of his own inner monologues.
“Hey Simon, Blair.” Henry nodded his hellos to the two men before turning his attention to Jim. “Hey Jim, how are you doing? I hadn’t heard anything other than the little I’ve found out about Rafe and I was getting worried about you.”
Jim smiled slightly at the worry he could hear so clearly in his friend’s voice. “I’m fine Henry, thanks. Just came in to double check everything, and I checked out fine.” Henry smiled at the “hrummph” this comment earned from his captain.
“Yeah right Jim. You’re fine alright, that is if fine translates into mild whiplash.” Simon gently chided his friend.
“Yeah well, at least I turned out not to have a concussion after all, one out of two ain’t bad.” Jim grumbled, rubbing absently at his aching shoulder.
Henry smiled at the exchange between his captain and fellow detective. “Well I’m glad to hear it was nothing too serious Jim.”
Jim nodded. “How’s Rafe, has anyone come out and told you anything yet?”
“Yeah a little, not much though. He’s got a pretty good concussion and a couple of cracked ribs, plus a sprained ankle. So I guess he’ll be laid up a while. They were supposed to come and let me know when they were going to move him to a regular room, but no one has come out to get me yet. I’ve just been out here waiting for the last hour or so.” Brown informed the senior detective. Realizing Sandburg had been unusually quiet during the conversation, Brown turned to look at the younger man. Frowning, Henry decided Blair didn’t look so hot, kind of out of it, and wondered if someone had just forgotten to mention to him that Sandburg had been involved in the car wreck also.
Turning toward his young friend, Henry reached out and gently grasped Blair’s shoulder. “Hey Hair-boy, you’re awfully quiet there, is everything alright? You weren’t hurt in the accident also, were you?”
Blair’s reaction to Henry’s soft inquires was not what anyone expected. Blair violently jerked away from a startled Henry, nearly falling over one of the waiting room chairs. Sensing his sentinel’s approach, Blair shook his head no and begin trembling violently, swaying unsteadily on his feet as he continued to back away from the concerned advances of the three men.
Henry reached out to steady the young man, but was deterred by a shake of Jim’s head. Jim could tell Blair was beginning to overload again and he needed to get the young man out of the hospital as soon as possible. Blair needed to be somewhere peaceful and quiet. A thought crossed the sentinel’s mind, and he realized Blair was probably having difficulty filtering out all over the overwhelming emotions flowing about in the hospital corridors.
Blair’s fractured voice quickly drew him away from his thoughts, the abundant pain in his guide’s voice instantly triggering his protective instincts.
“J—Jim?? Hurts again-c-can’t think. Head aches----too much---too…” Blair couldn’t seem to finish his thought as he curled in on himself, apparently under the onslaught of some serious pain.
Jim completely forgot about Henry and Simon, not caring what either man thought about his next words, as he approached his guide, desperate to help relieve the intense pain. He knew Blair was having one of his intense migraines, one of the worst Jim had ever witnessed before.
“Can you find that dial again for me buddy? I promise we’re getting ready to go home. How does that sound? If you just shut every…” Blair’s low moan cut off Jim’s next words.
“C-can’t, oh god Jim it hurts so bad. Ple---please make it s-stop.” Blair’s voice began to take on a hysterical quality, as he frantically rubbed at his temples, as if hoping the actions would some how take away the aching. Sinking down into a nearby chair, the young man began to rock back and forth, sweat forming a slight sheen on his brow and his breathing short and choppy. Softly under his breath, at a pitch only the sentinel could hear, Blair began to chant a mantra, apparently helpless to do anything else to assuage the pain. Slipping further and further away from reality, Blair turned in on himself and began to become one with the pain, giving himself over to it. The trembling became worse, borderline convulsions, as the man jerkily rocked back and forth in his chair; his eye clamped shut, sweat pouring down his face in rivets.
“Make it stop, make it stop. Make it stop. Make it stop.” Over and over the soft words came, filtering into the troubled sentinel, causing his soul to ache for the misery his guide was currently in. Pulling the younger man close to him, he swore he felt his heart brake as the trembling figure convulsed violently, then collapsed limply into his arms, panting softly. His guide was now unconscious.
Looking over his shoulder at the two silent figures behind him, Jim barked a command, slightly frustrated by their inactivity.
“Find Blair a doctor NOW!”
Henry was the first to snap out of his shock at what he had just witnessed and without so much as a backwards glance, quickly took off in search of a doctor for his fallen friend. Simon walked over to Jim and placed a gentle hand on the sentinel’s shoulder in an attempt to console his friend. The sentinel barely acknowledge his captain’s presence, so focussed was he on his fallen guide. Simon winced slightly as he noted his detective’s pallor, not liking the paleness that had seemed to have suddenly crept up onto the sentinel’s exhausted features. Taking in the man’s countenance, Simon could tell Jim was headed for a zone-out, his deep weariness causing him to have little control over his senses at the moment.
Leaning down further, Simon gently squeezed Jim’s shoulder, hoping to alleviate some of his friend’s concern.
“I’m sure he’s fine Jim, just a little shocky. Who could blame him with everything that has happened today? He’ll be fine Jim.” Simon spoke in a soft reassuring tone he had witnessed Sandburg use on many an occasion to calm his sentinel.
Surprisingly it seemed to work, for the tense, trembling muscles beneath his hand slowly relaxed, and Jim nodded his head slowly in agreement. Blair would be fine, Jim knew that, Blair had too! Didn’t he?
The unconscious man in his arms suddenly stirred, and moaned deep with in his throat, a soft muted distressed sound. Shifting around in the loose embrace Jim held him close in; Blair slowly opened his and gazed upon his sentinel. Both Simon and Jim were shocked at how reddened Blair’s usually brilliant whites were. Jim was relieved to note the intense dilation was gone however, and that his guide’s eyes were back to their normal deep denim blue.
“Hey chief, how ya doing? Decided to take a little nap huh?” Jim joked softly; able to tell his guide was suffering a migraine, small lines of pain circling the dazed eyes. Jim paused, at a loss to think of anything else to say. His own headache had returned due to the stress of the previous few minutes, and his shoulders were joining in with their own special brand of misery. He couldn’t seem to get a handle on his pain dial, and his frustration at the small failure increased the pain tenfold.
Blair didn’t answer his sentinel for a moment as he continued to stare at Jim with a distant expression, his eyes glassy and slightly unfocussed. He seemed to be searching for something, almost looking past Jim, or possibly deep within him. A few moments passed and Blair continued with his unnerving silence, having yet to respond to his friend’s query. Jim swallowed past a painful lump lodged deep within in his throat, as worry managed to rear it’s ugly head once again, an unnatural fear for his guide’s mental state began to nag at the sentinel. He was just about to question Blair again, when the young man finally spoke.
“You’re hurt.” Blair stated simply, pulling away from his sentinel’s grasp and leaning back against the chair wearily. Staring intently at his partner, Jim watched as Blair’s eyes yet again dilated, the deep blue hue fading away quickly as the ebony shade signaling Blair’s empathy once again took over.
Frowning deeply as if he were unhappy with the findings his intense examinations had wrought, Blair reached out and touched Jim lightly on the shoulder and closed his eyes. A moment later Jim sighed as a warm, and soothing feeling flowed over him almost akin to taking a relaxing dip into a hot sauna. Jim’s eyes slid closed on their own, as the decidedly pleasant sensation spread all over his body, momentarily making the sentinel forget about his various aches and pains. The pain dial hidden deep with in his mind seemed to move on its own, and the dial mentally shifted down to zero. The previously intense aching subsided then finally faded under the onslaught of warmth permeating his every fiber, no stone unturned, as all the muscles in his bodily relaxed, leaving the sentinel almost weak with relief. The warmth increased briefly in intensity before it slowly faded away, becoming a pleasant memory in the sentinel’s mind.
Jim became aware of a soft, weak plea resounding through his subconscious and he realized his guide was calling him back from the safe place he’d just traveled to.
“Jim buddy, snap out of it. C’mon man, I’m getting tired here and Simon is being absolutely no help at all.”
A loud but obviously worried “stow it Sandburg” brought a smile to the sentinel’s face as he opened his eyes and became one with reality again.
Gazing at his exhausted guide, he saw Blair’s blue eyes twinkle slightly before they slowly drifted shut.
“Man, tell them I don’t need a doctor. Just take me home----please.” Blair’s plea came out almost as a sigh, the weary man let all the tension leave his body as he sagged limply against the chair.
Jim stood silent and still in the overwhelming darkness of the midnight hour, gazing out the windows and staring out into the dark starry night. He was lost in a maze of thoughts, the twist and turns he encountered within his own mind stealing away the ability to turn in for some much needed rest.
He still didn’t quite understand how Blair had done that “thing” he’d done to first Tate and then to Jim himself. Jim had so many conflicting feelings on the matter he couldn’t form a concrete opinion on anything at this late hour. Part of him feared his guide’s abilities, having long since been used to being the “enhanced” one in their partnership. Blair had guided him well for so long; it was an unconscious action for Blair to lead, and for him to follow. But now in the wake, no, make that aftermath of his guide’s actions today; Jim’s earlier fears of not being able to successfully guide his friend in this facet had come back with a vengeance.
Not only fear plagued the sentinel, but so did anger. Anger at his partner for putting himself in danger once again, projecting himself on to others with no apparent regard for his own safety. The apparent lack of forethought the young man had applied to the situation had the sentinel seething. The young man had collapsed after attacking Tate only to turn around and “test” it out again on Jim. How could Blair be so foolish? What if either action had short circuited the young man for good, as it was his guide now lay in his small bed, sleeping in a slumber so deep, it could be described as the “sleep of the dead”.
Jim had managed to convince his reckless guide to be examined by a doctor before they had left the hospital. The doctor hadn’t found much to be seriously wrong with his partner other than extreme exhaustion, a migraine, and a slightly elevated blood pressure reading. The doctor had also re-examined Jim; worried that the sentinel’s handling of his guide might have aggravated his whiplash. The doctor had been surprised to find no further damage, and had been even more surprised to find Jim was in hardly any pain. Shaking his head over the oddity of the two men, the doctor had sent them home with a couple of prescriptions, a painkiller for Jim and a sedative for Blair to help the younger man get his much needed rest. The two ailing men had been driven home by a highly confused and slightly distressed Simon Banks; who managed to spend most of the drive stealing slightly panicked glances at his best team as if expecting one of them to grow a second head or something equally disturbing. Simon had dropped the men off in front of their loft apartment, not leaving until he had the assurances of his best detective that he’d get the whole scoop on the empathy thing the next day. That was not a conversation Jim was particularly looking forward too.
Jim sighed wearily as he leaned into the cool glass of the windowpane, allowing the chilling sensation to seep into his mind, hoping the coolness would somehow quell his racing thoughts. An hour of standing in front of the windows brooding had not helped Jim to find peace, if anything it had merely exasperated the problem. He knew the crux of his concerns was that he needed his guide safe. A sentinel was supposed to protect his guide, keeping him safe at all costs, hadn’t Blair once referred to Jim as his “blessed protector?” Jim wasn’t used to having anyone go all out for his safety the way his guide regularly did. He felt slightly uncomfortable with that thought, though oddly warmed by the fierce protective nature Blair exhibited towards him. Regardless of the niceties of the other man’s actions, Jim wanted his guide safe and to do that Jim feared he might have to push the young man away.
He never wanted to see Blair look the way he had earlier at the hospital just before he collapsed again; that horrible haunted look he found within his guide’s darkened eyes. The only way he knew for sure that wouldn’t happen is if he put an end to this partnership now.
With a heavy heart and troubled mind, the sentinel turned away from the darkened skies and slowly climbed the stairs to his bedroom. He needed sleep; maybe things would look clearer in the morning.
The morning sun filtered into the quiet room, bathing it’s reverent worshipper in a wondrous glow, soothing away all traces of pain and unease as it began its daily trek across the bright blue sky. The lucky recipient of it’s attentions shifted slightly in his bed, in a vain attempt to hold onto sun’s golden rays, sighing almost pitifully when the sun finally passed his window, it’s wondrous glow already a distant memory. Shifting yet again, the man glanced at the clock on the table next to his bed noting the time to be a little past the ninth hour of the day. Sighing deeply, he winced slightly as the action reminded him of his injuries and thus the reason for his being the place he was in at the moment.
Slowly his eyes drifted shut as he attempted to relax into the stiff mattress, valiantly awaiting his release from this accursed place. Time begin to loose meaning as his mind drifted, lazily allowing random thoughts to pass through his consciousness, forming no connection for him to make any real sense of, merely providing idle entertainment as he patiently waited to be rescued.
He must have drifted off, for the next thing he became aware of was a large hand gently shaking his shoulder and a playful voice softly teasing him back to a state of full wakefulness.
“Rafe. Hey buddy rise and shine. Chauffeur Brown at your service.” Opening his eyes completely, Rafe gazed at his smiling friend and found himself responding almost instantly to his partner’s cheerfulness.
“Good, cause I gotta tell you man, I am sooo way past ready to get out of here.” Rafe gladly accepted his friend’s help, as he struggled to first sit up, then rise from the bed he had called ‘home’ for the last 72 hours. Grimicing slightly at the protest his ribs valiantly offered, Rafe closed his eyes and waited for the aching to pass. The gentle hand on his shoulder squeezed slightly in an attempt to offer support and the comfort he found himself uncharacteristically longing for.
“I know buddy. I know. The pain will go away soon enough, besides...” Brown’s eyes twinkled, soothing his friend with his gentle reassurances as he reached for Rafe’s overnight bag and helped his limping partner settle into the waiting wheelchair that was standard issue upon release from the hospital. “The ladies love taking care of injured guys, get all mushy loving them back to health. I’m sure you managed to snag a few numbers during your little stay here. Between you and Blair, I don’t know who is better at working the ‘sick puppy dog’ look.”
Rafe smiled at his friend’s teasing; Brown always seemed to instinctively know just what was needed to lift his spirits. Settling back into the wheelchair, Rafe assumed a haughty air and gestured grandly to the door.
“Home geeves. And if you’re good, I MIGHT teach you some of my many trade secrets I have on how to woo the women.”
Brown snickered in response, secretly relieved to hear his friend joking again, instead of lying still and listless in the hospital bed. “Careful man, I might have to leave you here and let one of your ‘chicks’ come and give ya a ride home.”
Rafe snorted in mock disgust as Brown wheeled him out of the room and down the hallway towards blessed freedom. “Looks like you need your first lesson already. Never call them ‘chicks’ man, never. No wonder you haven’t had a date since the last millenium.”
Brown’s laughter echoed down the empty hallway, bouncing off the stark white walls, momentarily adding a little of his own sunshine to the drab, white interiors of Cascade General.
The broken man rocked back and forth mindlessly, obviously agitated, as he murmured random sentences which would have made absolutely no sense had anyone been bothered to listen. The room the man resided in was padded for his protection; a feature that was obviously needed as the man began to bang his head into the wall in a disturbingly disjointed fashion. His once quiet murmuring rose into a feverish pitch, his mindless screams filling up the small room, making the atmosphere oppressive in nature. When the man began to claw at his own body, as if in attempt to rip something horrible from his soul, a hidden door flew open and two large men entered the padded white room.
The distressed man hardly took note as the one of the men grabbed his arm, holding him in place, while the other produced a rather fear inspiring needle. The glistening drop of fluid dangling on the end of the hypodermic needle promised oblivion to the tortured man, and he eagerly welcomed the piercing sensation at the drugs began their joyous trek through his agitated system.
When the man finally went limp in his arms, the orderly glanced up at his co-worker, a look of disgust written across his face.
“Hey Phil, can you believe this guy was a cop?” Without much consideration for his patient, he allowed the limp figure to fall back to the floor with a soft thud, as he stood up quickly, brushing his hands roughly across his trousers, as if trying to rid himself of the man’s taint.
Phil shook his head sadly as he glanced down one last time at the slumbering figure on the white floor. “I know Frank, I know. I can’t believe it either. Heard he just snapped and went off. Something about attacking a cop and his civilian partner. He ain’t been right since they brought him in a few days ago. Heard he wasn’t even coherent enough to stand trial, so they just dumped him here.”
Shaking his head wearily, Frank gestured to the door. “Let’s get out of here. This crazy gives me the creeps. Be glad when the second shift gets over so they can handle this guy.”
Phil nodded his understanding. “I know what you mean. C’mon, let’s go grab something to eat. I’m starved.”
The slumbering man on the floor was oblivious to his surroundings, lost in his own world of fragmented nightmares and tormented dreams. He never heard the words spoken by the two orderlies, and never noticed their looks of contempt as they exited the room.
To them, Tate was just another loony lost in a bin full of them, at Cascade’s Mental Hospital, his new home for the rest of his natural life.
Blair lay restlessly in his bed, debating whether or not he really wanted to get up this morning. The last few days in the loft had been so filled with tension; he had actually been tempted to drown the apartment in sage, partly in an attempt to rid the place of the negative vibes, and partly to annoy his annoying sentinel. Jim had been silent and brooding for the last couple of days and Blair had had about enough of it.
Trying to get the man to open up about what exactly was bothering him was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Ever since his shut down after the business with Tate, something Blair didn’t like to think much about, the young man had had trouble with handling his empathy. It would spike so suddenly or fade out so quickly on Blair, that eventually he’d opted to keep the dial set on zero, hoping the situation would resolve itself sooner or later. Without the reliable use of his empathy, Blair couldn’t hone in on what was frustrating his sentinel, and that failure left him sullen and depressed. A sullen guide and a frustrated sentinel do not a happy pair make, hence the tension between to two men as of late.
Shifting around restlessly once again, Blair closed his eyes and decided to test his empathy out again since he had nothing better to do at the moment, maybe it was working right now. He was desperate to repair whatever rift had come between him and Jim in the last few days and was willing to do whatever was needed to rectify the situation. Taking a deep calming breath, Blair sought out his dial, and slowly turned it up to full throttle. Once the dial was set in place, he began to seek out his sentinel’s presence within the loft, attempting to hone in on his sentinel’s emotional state. A sharp pain lanced through his mind as his empathy once again spiked, registering a little too sharply his sentinel’s angry emotions. Before the pain faded, Blair barely caught hold of the fear running through his sentinel’s being, groaning slightly when his empathy shut down abruptly, cutting off his connection to his friend.
He was just beginning to rub at his aching head, when the doors to his room flew open, and the furious presence of his sentinel made itself known.
“You just did it again didn’t you.” Jim’s words carried across harshly to the man on the bed. The sentinel crossed his arms tightly against his chest, pinning Blair with a glare usually reserved for Cascade’s criminal element.
Sighing softly, Blair sat up and graced his friend with an intense glare of his own.
“Oh come off of it, you know I did. What are you so afraid of?” Blair groused, not wanting to argue again with his friend.
Blair watched as his words caused the sentinel to jerk slightly, obviously striking gold, as he prepared himself for his friend’s fury. He didn’t have long to wait.
“Oh let’s see Blair, what could I possibly be worried about. I know, how about another trip to your favorite hangout, Cascade General, while I wait to see how scrambled your mind will be after this latest attempt at mental trickery!” Jim’s tone was practically seething, and Blair had to struggle not to be baited into the argument he knew Jim was fishing for.
“Look man, I didn’t ask what you are worried about, I specifically asked what you are so afraid of. Now we can do the typical Ellison dance around the issue routine and argue until we’re both blue in the face. Or we can play ‘grownup’ and discuss what’s bothering you like two mature adults.” Blair stated simply as he swung his feet off the bed and onto the floor. He patiently waited the sentinel’s decision, watching with faint amusement as his friend turned several shades of red before finally choosing a lovely violet shade, which complimented the fire inside his ice blue eyes.
“Listen here Sandburg I don’t have to justify my concerns to you or anyone else. Learn to leave well enough alone.” Jim abruptly turned to leave the room, pausing momentarily at the doorway to throw on last comment over his shoulder for good measure. “And keep your parlor tricks to yourself. I don’t want to be ‘scanned’ or ‘read’ or however you choose to phrase it. Just stick with what you do best, which is guiding me, before anyone else gets hurt.” With that parting statement, Jim left the room.
Blair closed his eyes and took several deep breaths in a nearly vain attempt to keep from exploding. His friend’s parting words had hurt him, hurt him badly. He knew Jim was trying to push him away again, this happened every time the sentinel felt threatened by things he didn’t understand, or situations he felt uncomfortable in. But darnnit, did the man have to be so good at it. Sooner or later he was going to have to make the sentinel understand exactly how this partnership was supposed to work, and now was as good a time as any. Resolving to see this argument through to the end, Blair rose from his bed, and stormed out of his bedroom, hot on Ellison’s trial.
Grabbing the still pacing sentinel roughly by the arm, Blair forced his friend to turn around and face him. Knowing he now had the other man’s full attention, Blair laid down the law.
“I’m going to let your last comment slide for now Ellison, because I know you’re lashing out of fear as usual, even though I’m growing beyond sick of that tactic. But let me make one thing perfectly clear to you once and for all---I am your guide and as your guide I will always do anything and everything in my power to protect you and keep you safe. No amount of ridicule and petty comments will keep me from my job. Whether you like it or not, Cascade is also MY territory to protect and I take that job very seriously so never, ever insult my ‘abilities’ again. I respect everything you do for our tribe; YOU respect what I do. And if you have a problem with any of this---TOUGH!! Deal with it.”
With that parting command, Blair let go of his stunned sentinel and stormed back into his room. Slamming the door shut for emphasis, he collapsed onto the bed still seething. He KNEW he should’ve just stayed asleep.
Suddenly feeling trapped and overwhelmed by an intense need to get out of the loft, Blair hastily threw on some clothes and quickly dressed. Running an unsteady hand through his unruly mass of curls, Blair called it good and exited his room.
Storming past his sentinel, who hadn’t moved an inch from his earlier position, Blair grabbed his keys from the basket and stalked to the front door.
He heard the sentinel softly call his name and he paused at the door long enough to answer.
“Not now Jim, I think I’m going to pull one of your numbers, and go off for some ‘alone’ time. I need to think, and I KNOW you do. One of these days you are going to have to let go of your fear of abandonment, before you push everyone who cares about you away. Now, I love you like a brother, but right now I can’t stand to be in the same room with you. Later.”
The only sound heard in the loft was the resounding boom of the door slamming shut.
Jim stood in shocked silence in the aftermath of the Sandburg eruption. He honestly wasn’t sure why he had said the hurtful things to Blair, other than another one of his misguided attempts to protect his guide by pushing him away. Sighing deeply and feel the tension from the last few days take on a new form as a migraine headache, Jim wandered aimlessly over to the couch and flopped down, suddenly devoid of any strength. Propping his feet on the table, Jim flagrantly discounted houserule #178, and leaned his aching head back onto the couch. Closing his eyes, Jim reflected yet again over his actions and the apparent futility of his need to push Blair away. He knew deep within his heart that he needed the younger man by his side, as his partner and guide, but his mind had a hard time dealing with the notion.
Perhaps that had to do with his father’s harsh dealings with his sons from such an early age. His father had never truly shown his sons love or respect. He’d never seemed to take pride in anything his children worked hard at, belittling their efforts, making them feel small and useless. Jim swallowed past a painful lump his childhood reflections seemed to have brought on. More than likely that’s why he dealt with Blair in such a cold way sometimes. His father had always done it, and briefly Jim wondered if dear old dad had learned it from HIS father, and his grandfather from HIS father. Sadly Jim wondered when the chain had started and if it would ever be broken. Surely there were Ellisons somewhere out there in the world that knew how to show love and affection with out viewing it as a sign of weakness. Surely some of them knew how to accept love and friendship with out always searching for hidden motives, second-guessing the people closest to them----waiting to be abandoned like he had been by his mother.
Bringing a hand to rub at the growing ache, Jim knew he needed to apologize to his young friend. Referring to Blair’s abilities as ‘parlor tricks’ had been cold and careless. A small smile crossed his face as he thought back to how Blair had just stood up to him, demanding the respect he deserved, making clear to the sentinel in no uncertain terms that he was sticking around, that he considered Cascade HIS territory also. That was honestly something Jim had never stopped to think about. The fact that Blair might actually FEEL the same protective instincts towards his territory, correction –make that THEIR territory, cast a warm feeling deep within his soul, and made his guilt at having lashed out at his friend that much worse.
The pain seemed to increase, and dropping his hands to his side, Jim attempted to breathe deeply and calm himself in order to ease the pain if he couldn’t rid himself of it. That’s what you get for hurting him, his pain in now yours! Jim chastised himself. The breathing did nothing for the pain, and Jim begin to feel his senses slide out of control, the pain overwhelming him, battering his already fractured thoughts into oblivion.
Time began to lose meaning for the detective as he felt himself doze off, lost in a restless slumber punctuated by moments of blinding pain, as the migraine tightened it’s hold on the weary man.
Softly a voice called to him; soothingly it drew him near, as the red haze of pain slowly dissipated. A familiar flow of warmth covered him like a soft blanket, stealing away his pain, replacing it with serenity and peace. A soft sensation ghosted along his shoulder, gently massaging away a pain he didn’t even know had taken up residence deep within the aching muscles. His very being seemed to overflow with the soothing warmth, sucking all it could in, draining as much of the precious energy as it could.
A soft gasp echoed quietly in the sentinel’s subconciouness, and vaguely he began to be aware of his surroundings, realizing he was no longer alone, and that his haunting pain had vanished. Opening his eyes, he spotted his guide seated next to him on the couch, a slender hand resting gently on his shoulder. Blair’s eyes were closed his breathing so slow and soft, Jim had to strain to hear it. Realizing what his guide had just done for him, even after the harsh words he’d thrown at Blair, made Jim’s heart ache with the knowledge of his guide’s devotion.
Gently he removed his guide’s hand and began rubbing it softly as he called his friend back from the place Blair journeyed when he became lost in a zone. Blair’s breathing slowly picked up it’s sluggish pace, and Jim could feel his partner’s pulse quicken under his sensitive touch. A moment later Blair dreamily opened his eyes and fuzzily gazed at his friend.
A slow smile crossed Blair’s face as he asked in a slightly disconnected sounding tone. “Better now?”
Jim nodded and smiled at his barely coherent friend, many times after Blair would lose himself within his empathy, the younger man would be dazed and out of it. Sometimes he would be in pain from zoning, other times merely exhausted. Apparently exhaustion was the case this time, for Blair's darkened eyes slid closed as his body decided to make a beeline for the couch.
“Not this time chief.” Jim gently chided as he helped his unsteady friend make the short trip to the small bedroom, once inside he helped the sleepy young man lie down on the bed. Blair’s eyes remained closed the entire trip, his body limp with fatigue, faint circles nestled under his eyes.
Leaning forward so that his resting partner could here his words before crossing over into the twilight of sleep, Jim placed a hand on Blair’s shoulder, an unconscious imitation of his guide’s earlier gesture.
“Thank you. For---for releasing my pain, for being my partner and guide. I DO respect you Blair, more than you’ll ever know. And for the record, they are not ‘parlor tricks’, they are a wonderful gift and I am blessed that my guide has them.”
Realizing that his friend had drifted off to Never-never land, Jim got up to quietly leave. Suddenly a warm rush of gratitude and friendship flowed over him, accompanied by a softly uttered. “Anytime man, anytime.”
Jim turned to reply, but his guide had already surrendered himself to Morpheous and was fast asleep.
The darkness surrounded him. Oddly it had substance—it was thick and smothering and he was finding it harder to breathe. Struggling against the blackness as it threatened to consume him, body and soul, a voice called out and he prayed it was a savior from this darkened hell he now resided in.
The voice cried out in pain, the wailing sound grating upon his nerves, scratching across his raw emotions causing him unbearable pain.
“Why?!” He screamed into the inky blackness---“why torment me??”
Silence----the darkness moved, swirled around him, trapping him in an unnatural embrace.
“WHY!?!” He screamed louder this time, hysteria tingeing his voice. Would he never be free of this torment?
“Why?” The voice asked, echoing around him, sounding as many, yet as one.
The darkness parted before him, and a tall figure slowly advanced toward him, holding him captive by his intense glare, his scarred features forever emblazoned across his tortured mind.
“Why, you ask?” The disembodied voice seemed to float around him, not directly coming from the looming figure that now stood directly in front of him.
“WHY?? Because you MADE me—I’m this way now because of you—and my torment shall forever be yours!!”
The suffocating darkness gave way to light, and Blair screamed as Tate raised the knife high above his head and swiftly plunged the instrument of death down in one strong stroke.
Blair jerked violently in his seat across from Jim in Major Crimes, barely managing to stifle the scream the urgently begged to be released from his tight throat. What the heck was that?? A night terror in the middle of the day?? Or maybe just an over active guilt complex plugging away at his reluctant subconscious. After all he HAD destroyed Tate, caused him to become lost in his own mind. Shouldn’t he suffer guilt for that offense, shouldn’t he be haunted by the look in the man’s eyes as he had pleaded for his sanity in that filthy, dank alley? NO…he’d deserved what he’d gotten; he shouldn’t have threatened Jim. Blair had warned him, he had WARNED him, wasn’t that fair enough? Wasn’t it?
Blair thought he could hear Jim speaking to him, but he couldn’t make out the words; all he knew was that he needed to get out of there, away from the prying eyes. The lookie-loos that couldn’t wait to see the civilian finally lose it in front of everyone. Away from his growing guilt at having recklessly used his gift, for having abandoned his life’s mantra of ‘no violence’. Offering up a lame excuse about a forgotten appointment at Rainier, Blair bolted from the room, leaving a totally stunned sentinel in his wake as he fled to the sanctuary of his car. A moment later the engine gunned and Blair sped out into the street, and became lost in the traffic.
Dr. Rogers strolled down the long, white corridor deep in thought. He was seeing a new patient today, a man by the name of Peter Tate. The case file on the man was certainly interesting, if a bit confusing. Tate had evidently been a decorated cop, having provided Cascade with upstanding service for more than 20 years. His record with the police department was clean for the most part. A few minor incidents marked his career here and there, but nothing to cause any undue concern.
Then three weeks ago, this well thought of and highly respected detective apparently pursued some one-sided vendetta with another cop and his civilian partner. Tate had apparently harassed a couple of other officers at the precinct, but nothing conclusive had ever really been filed against the man.
What confused Dr. Rogers was the fact that Tate had some type of altercation with the civilian, Sandberk or something like that, and then experienced a huge emotional breakdown. What could have transpired between the two men that could be traumatic enough to inspire such terror in Tate, causing the man to mentally shut down so completely?
Dr. Rogers shook his head in slight confusion as he came to a complete stop in front of his new patient’s door. Readying himself for his appointment, the doctor opened the room and shut the door softly behind him. Crossing over to the nearly catatonic figure tethered to the bed, Rogers took in the patient’s appearance. Tate’s health was rapidly declining, mainly due to the fact the man was not eating. Tate’s brief moments of lucidity were so far apart, one almost forgot he had them at all. Even when the patient was lucid, he’d simply stare off into space, refusing to speak, and barely nodding in response to any question posed to him. Tate wasn’t stable enough to handle feeding himself with eating utensils, and wouldn’t even acknowledge the act of being force-fed by an orderly. Finally the staff had decided to just put the man on an intravenous feeding system until they could pull him out of his fugue.
Tate lay in the sterile surrounding completely unaware of what was going on around him. Somewhere deep inside of the good doctor the feelings of pity began to stir. How could something so bad happen to such a good officer? Someone who had regularly gone out of their way to uphold the high standards of the law and risked their lives protecting the innocent from the scum that roamed the earth.
Well, things were about to change and change for the better. Dr. Rogers smiled to himself as he placed his clipboard on the small table near the bed. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a small hypodermic needle filled with a deep amber fluid, while he glanced at the window on the door, taking care to make sure no one was watching his actions. Satisfied he wasn’t being spied on, Rogers quickly grabbed hold of one of Tate’s arms, plunging the needle deep into the skin. The amber liquid drained slowly out of the hypo, entering into the unsuspecting patient lying listlessly on the bed.
Once the drug was fully injected into Tate’s body, the doctor hastily pocketed the needle then turned to his clipboard, making a few quick notations.
Setting the board back down on the table, Rogers glanced at his watch and waited. Approximately five minutes later Tate’s body arched violently in the bed, a strangled groan coming from his mouth. Rogers bounced excitedly on his feet. This was going better than he had expected; Tate hadn’t uttered anything since he’d been brought in, and most certainly hadn’t responded to any stimuli. The drug was working wonders already.
Tate’s body finally collapsed out of its painful arch and the man relaxed into the bed, panting and staring at the excited doctor standing before him.
A moment later, Dr. Rogers’s previous excitement went through the roof as the once catatonic man spoke for the first time in three long weeks.
“Wh—where the heck am I??”
Dr. Rogers’s elation knew no earthly bounds as he watched his patient come back to the land of the living. His drug had worked; it had actually worked. So much for the committee’s decision to veto his further experimentation with the drug, he didn’t need their help or approval any longer. He had found the perfect lab rat.
He now had Tate.
And he was a cop to top it all off; what better subject to test his secret little miracle drug on?
Jim did his best not to look like he was staring at Blair as they drove to the precinct. The younger man had come home the night before refusing to talk about the earlier incident at the precinct, saying he only wanted to rest and was going to turn in early for the night. No amount of prodding or pleading on Jim’s part could sway his partner to talk, so the sentinel had finally left well enough alone.
Blair spoke, humor evident in his easygoing tone of voice. “Uh…Jim, you know, I think I’ve mentioned this to you before, but despite your heightened senses, you DO actually need to LOOK at the road while you’re driving in order for them to work.”
Jim snorted and shook his head. “Well, I tell you what, if your hair weren’t doing that weird thing again today, I wouldn’t have to keep looking over at you. I can’t help but look. It’s way puffier than last time.”
Blair scowled as he flipped the visor down, and looked into the small, lighted mirror. “Man lay off the hair. I know it’s frizzy. It’s rained for the last three days straight. What do you expect? At least I actually HAVE hair to be concerned about, unlike SOME people I could mention.”
It was now Jim’s turn to scowl. “Funny Chief. Well I’d rather be a little ‘light’ in the hair department than walk around with that rat’s nest you call hair.”
“RAT’S NEST? Ooh, ho hoo. That’s rich coming from a guy who has four, count ‘em, FOUR good hairs left on top of his head to do the comb over trick,” Blair sputtered, the teasing look on his face belying any real animosity in his tone.
“Four---FOUR good hairs?? Oh, funny man today are we Chief?” Jim pulled into the already packed precinct garage and swung the truck in one of the few tight spaces left available.
Blair interrupted before Jim could get into full rant mode. “That’s right funny AND cute. With long luscious hair to boot. That’s why the ladies love me so.” Blair laughed as he ducked out of the passenger door, avoiding the patented Ellison slap to the back of the head.
Blair could hear Jim grumbling something under his breath about punk anthropologists who thought they were too cute for their own good. His smile increased slightly then faded as Blair realized he’d been successful in his mission. Jim had forgotten all about his freaking out yesterday. Which was something Blair never wanted to discuss; that particular guilt trip was going to remain private. No one was ever going to know how bad he felt about Tate, for misusing his gift and for resorting to violence. No….his nightmare and day terrors were a small price to pay for what had happened. They were to be his private hell.
After all, Tate was locked away and lost inside of his tortured, evil mind. He could do nothing else to harm Jim.
They were safe. Well, safe from that particular threat anyway.
Henry walked around his bedroom grinning madly as he checked out his latest project. His new king size bed had been a steal at a rummage sale, only fifty dollars. The extremely cheap price made it possible for him to purchase a replacement headboard for the one Tate had destroyed. Brown’s jaw clenched slightly at the memory of coming home and finding his house destroyed. He abruptly pushed the negative thoughts from his mind. He didn’t want to think about that now, today was a day of celebrating!
Moving quickly out of his bedroom, lest his thoughts stray that direction once more, Henry moved into the living room. The smile appeared once more on his face as he gazed at all of his hard work. Thanks to the new paint and wall paper, new carpeting, and a few pieces of furniture that he had reupholstered, his living room was back to it’s former glory. Henry ran a large, heavy hand slowly over the back of the couch, enjoying the feel of the rough brocade under his fingers. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply, letting the fresh paint smell fill him, letting it remind him that his home was once again safe. His smile grew wider as Henry left his beloved living room and headed into the dining room, where a feast fit for a king lay sprawled across a huge dining table. The table was another one of his bargain finds. Henry had met an old woman at one of his mother’s church functions who mentioned she had a table she needed to get rid of. Apparently, she wanted to move from her spacious home into something smaller, more manageable in her advancing age. Henry had gone by to look at the dining set and had fallen in love with it immediately. The table sat ten people quite comfortably, and was made from the most beautiful cherry wood Brown had ever seen. He had eagerly hauled the treasure home, and now it would serve as the centerpiece for this special day.
Giving one last tug at a crooked place mat, Henry headed into the kitchen to check on the cake. Opening the large refrigerator, the beaming man eyed the masterpiece without touching it. It was a giant cake, enough to feed 50 people the cute lady at the bakery had told him. Speaking of which, Henry needed to remember where he had put her number. He couldn’t seem to get her ebony brown eyes out of his mind. He’d have to call her soon, or if he couldn’t find her number, go back by the bakery.
Henry returned his attention to the cake. It was made in his partner’s favorite flavors, white icing over a marble chocolate fudge cake. The words, ‘Welcome Back Rafe’ were scripted gracefully across the top, while the phrase, ‘crime fighting just isn’t the same without you’ were printed neatly along the bottom. As a joke, the bakery had managed to perfectly recreate Rafe’s silhouette at the bottom right hand corner, a GQ figure holding a gun, ready for action. Smiling even more, Henry chuckled as he closed the refrigerator door gently. The gang would definitely get a kick out of the cake.
A knock on the door broke though his pleasant thoughts and Henry went to answer it with an extra bounce in his step. He loved parties, always had since he was a little child. Opening the door, he was nearly run over by a mass of well wishers and party attendees. Stepping to the side, he let the small crowd in, happily answering questions as to where to put the gifts and laughing heartily at Joel’s inquiry as to when the food would be served.
Thirty minutes later, the house was silent as the small gathering of the Major Crimes team and their family members waited for the guest of honor to arrive. The only guest in the room with enhanced hearing easily picked up on Blair and Rafe’s arrival before anyone else. Five minutes later, the front door was opened, and a thoroughly startled, but pleasantly surprised Brian Rafe was led into the midst of his friends and family. The look on the young man’s face said it all as he looked into the face of his beaming partner, happiness and gratitude radiating from Rafe’s person.
Brown merely nodded, as no words needed to be said between the two best friends. Rafe was healed and whole once again, everything else would be fine.
Unnoticed by anyone else in the cozy room, sentinel and guide glanced at each other and nodded. No words were needed between these two men for both understood. Their tribe was once again safe. The injured lamb was now safely ensconced within the fold. Peace reigned for the moment within their territory.
Everything was now fine.
The tall blond man seated at the table smiled congenially as the good doctor walked in.
“Well, Mr. Tate. How are you feeling this morning?” The doctor asked while taking in his patient’s appearance. The man was looking much better, his color was back to normal and he was regaining some of his lost weight. The physical therapy was helping Tate to regain his strength, to help replace the precious muscle the fine specimen had lost.
Tate smiled pleasantly at the man across from him. “I’m just fine, thank you for asking. How are you this morning, Dr. Rogers?”
“Just fine, Peter just fine.” The doctor smiled as he reached into his pocket and pulled out another hypo filled with the amber liquid. Time to get going.
“Shall we get started, Peter?”
Tate smiled even more brightly, and nodded his head eagerly. “Oh yes, let’s. Let’s get started. I can’t wait!”
Dr. Rogers smiled down fondly at his best patient. “Good, Peter let’s get to work on giving you your life back, shall we?”