Home > Graywulf > And The Cat Came Back Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

And The Cat Came Back

by & Stargazer

Spying her suitcase on the conveyor belt, she waited until the carousel brought it to her before Cat lifted it up and deposited the case with her other belongings.

 "Back again." She sighed.

She worked her way through the terminal to the car rental kiosk. A short time later, keys in hand, she made her way to parking lot to pick up her sea green Neon. This was a treat, a sense of freedom in which she could revel. Cat normally used local transportation at home, in Toronto, only renting a car when she needed to travel further afield.

Stowing the suitcase and carry on luggage in the trunk. She checked her city map quickly to make sure she remembered her way to the hotel. It had been about three months since she was in Cascade on her first West Coast business trip. It had been a little more eventful that she or anyone else had been expecting.

Sliding in behind the wheel of the car, she remembered she was to call one of her co-workers in the Cascade office. Joyce would be glad to hear she was in. Maybe they’d get together for some fun before they had to start work on Monday.

Cat pulled her cell phone out of her purse, and quickly dialed Joyce’s number at Imaginet.

"Joyce Whelan, speaking."

"Guess who just blew into town?" Cat said with a grin.

"Cat! We weren’t expecting you until Monday. What’s up?"

"I thought I’d come in a little early and relax before starting in on work Monday. Got any plans this weekend? I thought we could get together."

I’ve been expecting a call about some plans for the weekend. Can I call you back later to discuss it?"

"Sure, you’ve got my cell number right?" Cat inquired. "I’ll leave it on so you can get back to me."

"Sounds good to me, Cat. I’ll talk to you later," promised Joyce.

Cat plugged in the earpiece to the cellphone, draping the other end around her neck, then hooked the phone onto the waistband of her jeans. Then she pulled a tape from her purse, and popped it into the tape deck.

Starting the car, then pulling out of the parking lot, Cat headed into the business district of Cascade where the Sheraton Suites were located. It wasn’t a long drive, depending on traffic, at most only a twenty minutes from the airport to the hotel.

Singing along with music as she drove, Cat was startled when the cell phone rang.

"That was quick, Joyce." She said as she reached for the button to answer. ‘Good thing the light is red,’ she thought as she quickly adjusted the earphone and microphone so she could talk with one hand and turning down the music with the other.

"Hello." said Cat.

"Cat?" replied a familiar male voice.

"Jim? Is that you? What’s up?" Cat kidded, "Do you have the airport watched in case I sneak back into town without warning you?" She started forward, with the change of the traffic light.

"You’re here?" he said incredulously.

"Uh, yeah," Cat replied slowly, "I just got in and I’m on my way to the hotel right now. What’s up?"

"Is there a chance we can get together to talk, tonight if possible?"

"Sure. I should be checked in and settled in my room within the next, let’s say hour? Is that soon enough? I can meet you in the lobby."

"I’ll see you then."

Curiouser and curiouser. The tone in his voice had been serious. She was definitely getting concerned. ‘Well, Alice, what rabbit hole are you falling down this time?’ she wondered.

A short time later, she had arrived at the hotel, checked in and was on her way up to the room. Cat unpacked and then glanced at her watch. It had taken less time than she’d anticipated. Jim would be there in about forty minutes. Just enough time to quickly shower and freshen up before meeting him in the lobby.

Cat looked at her watch, noting that Jim should be joining her shortly. She had chosen a comfortable chair in the lobby with a good view of the entrance, so she could watch for his arrival.

She wondered whether Blair, his friend and partner would join them. The first time she’d met them, they were practically joined at the hip, she mused. An unlikelier pair she had yet to meet. Dark hair and blue eyes were about as close as these two men came to being similar.

Detective James Ellison of Cascade Police Department, had been the detective in charge of a murder investigation the last time she had visited Cascade. He was tall and good looking, even with the receding hairline. His face had strong features. He could be as cool as his icy blue eyes suggested, but he’d also been the one she found strength in when she’d needed it. She suspected with the way he carried himself, he had to have served in the military at some point in time. Consequently, she suspected he could be as deadly as the black jaguar spirit guide that accompanied him, but she had no intentions of putting that to the test.

Blair Sandburg was as opposite Jim Ellison as you could get. He was the younger and shorter of the two, full of energy and questions. The combination of long curly hair and infectious grin could be devastating when he turned on the charm, of that she was sure. He had civilian observer status with Cascade P. D. and had been partnered with Ellison by some quirk of fate. He was a graduate student, working on a dissertation about closed societies, or so he said.

Cat had sensed something else between these two, enough to know there was something more than just the roles of a police detective and a civilian observer. How far it went, she wasn’t sure. There was a definite friendship and respect for each other as well. But there was something more about their relationship, something that she couldn’t quiet put her finger on.

It had only been a couple of months since Cat’s visit to Cascade. As much as she may have wanted to, it was not exactly a trip she’d forget anytime soon. She’d found herself caught up in the murder investigation Jim was working on, and eventually became the last target of the murderer. She had come forward with information on the murder. How she obtained that information was more than just a little unusual. What she had discovered about Jim Ellison, was just as usual.

Jim entered the hotel, oblivious to the people around him. The doorman did a double take upon seeing Jim's face, then quickly sidled over to the bellman and whispered in the other man's ear. Jim took a quick look around the lobby. This was where she said she'd meet him. Jim did a double take as a pair of slate gray eyes met his, followed by a warm smile.

The bellman casually walked over to the front desk and spoke to the clerks there. More whispering ensued with some pointing in Jim's direction. He was still oblivious to the commotion he was creating as he approached her. Cat slowly stood as he got closer.

"Hi, Jim. Good to see you again!" as she rose from her seat. "Where’s Blair? Isn’t he joining us?"

He then realized that the reason he hadn't recognized her at first, was because he was expecting the same young woman he’d seen a few months ago. The serious look was replaced with a relaxed and friendly smile. Instead of wearing more formal business attire, she was dressed casually in jeans and a T-shirt, which made sense since she had just spent over six hours in transit.

As the recognition set in, he was able to relax his vigilance a little and became aware of many whispers around him when it should have been normal sounding voices. He surreptitiously keyed in on some of the whispers and heard, "Hey, that's the guy from the news, The Sentinel!"

"Blair is why I called." Jim hesitated, not quite sure how to proceed.

Jim chose to ignore the whispers and did a quick scan of the hotel lobby. Old habits die hard, he thought to himself. He saw people turn away from his gaze as he swept past them. She noticed the way Jim was looking around, but didn't say anything.

Her smile faded to a look of concern. The tone of his voice, the worry in his face, the way he scanned the lobby, even the set of his shoulders told her whatever it was he had come to talk about, was not good news.

"Blair’s missing. I need your help to find him."

Detective James Ellison had to be one of the best officers of the Cascade PD , if not the best, and a member of the Major Crimes unit to boot. And here he was asking her for help to locate Blair. This was incomprehensible.

"Oh, Jim… I’m sorry." She stammered. Cat racked her brain, trying to find some clue to help her distraught friend. "I don’t have any information. If I’d gotten anything, I would have called you the moment I knew."

"No. I don’t need * you * to see or tell me what’s happened to him or where he is."

"Okay…?" Cat said cautiously, not quite following what Jim was having trouble saying.

"Damn, I’m not doing this very well." Jim sighed with frustration. "I don’t know deal with this. Ever since I suspected something had happened to Blair, I’ve been getting bits and pieces of images and this weird feeling that something is wrong. Not enough to make any sense at all."

"Omigod." Cat whispered as her eyes widened with dismay. "You’re seeing it, aren’t you? That’s why you called me." It was more of a statement than a question. "I think we’d better start at the beginning."

She gave him a sidelong glance, asking, "When was the last time you ate?"

"This morning, before Blair left."

"Come on then, I was going to suggest dinner anyway." Cat went over to him, taking his right hand in hers, giving it a gentle squeeze of support, and placing her other hand in the middle of his back to guide him out of the lobby to the restaurant.

"Darn flights have cut back food service to snack food. If it’s alright with you, we can start talking about this over dinner, and figure out where to go from there." She wanted no argument on the idea of dinner. Cat had a feeling they were both going to need it. Thankfully, Jim didn’t offer one.

Cat released Jim's hand as they joined the line for the dining room. They stood in line quietly, slowly inching their way forward to the maitre'd's stand. Cat could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. When she took a quick glance around, she noticed several people quickly averting their gaze. It appeared that they had become objects of curiosity.

"Would you know of any reason we'd be drawing an unusual amount of attention? I've just caught a number of people staring at us." Cat whispered. "I know it can't be the Kalan case, I never testified. What have you two been up to?"

Seeing Jim grimace, Cat suggested, "Later, okay?"

Jim nodded his head and replies, "Thanks. I'll tell you in private without so many ears around."

He looked around the lobby and people averted their eyes as he gave them his ice blue steely stare.

"Yeesh. I haven't seen this many stares since I went to court because of a burglary case in Toronto." muttered Cat.

"Burglary case?" asked Jim, vaguely remembering his conversation with Detective Mike Young of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Department before.

"Yeah, well, my first experience with the police, trying to give information like I did on the Kalan case. You think I’d learn after the first time...."

"I’ll bet they thought you were a kook." replied Jim.

"I was a crank first, suspect second. Things only got worst a few days later. I'll tell you more once we're seated."

As Jim and Cat reached the maitre'd's desk, Jim reached into his coat pocket, and pulled something out. He asked for a nice quiet, secluded table, and handed the man something to ensure their privacy. The maitre'd looked sharply at Jim for a second, recognition dawning in his eyes, when Jim spoke. The maitre'd covertly took the proffered money and set it under his desk. He nodded once to Jim. "Of course, sir. It will be about 15 minutes. May I suggest a cocktail in the lounge during your wait?"

Jim gave the man a small, tight smile. "Our pleasure. Catharine? This way...." said Jim as he took Cat's elbow and directed her towards the lounge. He made sure to find them a quiet little corner away from prying eyes.

"Catharine?" she hissed playfully, "I may have to maim...."

"Ah, ah, ah..." said Jim as he wagged his finger at her. "Watch those claws, young lady...watch those claws, or I may have to clip them for you!" admonished Jim with a grin.

With a defiant gleam in her eyes, she playfully threatened to bite his fingertip.

"By the way Jim, dinner and drinks are on me. I'm going to expense it."

"And how do you plan to get away with that? Won't the bean counters be counting the number of people on the ticket?" asked Jim, trying to figure out a way to pay for the dinner himself. He was of the old school that said the man paid for the dinner, not the woman.

"Ve haf our vays..." started Cat. "Besides, I feel like I owe you something after my last visit here. Thanking you for taking me seriously. If you’d have been half as reticent as the police in Toronto, I more than likely wouldn’t be here right now."

"You realize that this isn’t necessary."

Cat shrugged at his comment and continued, "Anyway, on a lighter note, I had planned on getting together with a friend from the Cascade office this weekend. For shopping on Sunday, and down to Seattle next weekend for a Mariner's game."

"If I remember correctly, you have a tendency to work some pretty strange hours, how do you expect to accomplish all of this?"

"This trip shouldn't be as bad as the last one. Especially since as of 5 p.m. next Friday afternoon, I'm on holidays for a week."

"What plans do you have for your vacation? Besides shopping and Mariners games?"

"I’m going to play it by ear. Maybe drive down to Seattle. If I really decide to go crazy, I may head up to Vancouver. Why? Are you offering to play tour guide? Or just trying to keep me out of trouble?"

Jim raised his eyebrow at the turn of events. This could bring some interesting possibilities into play. "Yes to both questions. You remind me of Sandburg.... never letting me answer a question, before asking another one!" Jim sobered as he mentioned his partner's name.

Cat put her hand over his, meeting his eyes. This role reversal from their first meeting felt weird.

"Cat...." started Jim, looking at her intensely, "I'm glad that I called you and that you're actually here, in Cascade. I..., can’t think of anyone else I could talk with, who would have some understanding of what’s happening. Thank you."

"Anytime," she offered quietly. She paused, appreciating just how difficult this must be for Jim. It was hard enough for her to find someone she could confide in. For someone like Jim, it must be even harder. "I can understand how hard it is to know who to talk with. Most of the people I've met fall into one of three categories: either they fear you, they want to use you, or they write you off as a nutcase when they find out. At least you know I'm not going to do any of those things."

"I do appreciate it. Especially with what has happened here since you were last in Cascade." Jim played with his water glass and averted his eyes, his jaw clenching in suppressed anger. Cat noted this was the seconded time it had come up and noted this in his demeanor.

"Why? What's happened? Is that what all the staring is about?" she asked hesitantly.

Jim gave a slow nod and looked up, watching her face for reactions All he saw in her face was concern.

They were interrupted as the maitre'd walked up to them. "Excuse me, Mr. Ellison, your table is ready. Please follow me." Jim helped Cat out of her seat, again taking her elbow to guide her. As they reached a well-secluded booth that faced away from the rest of the restaurant, the Maitre'd inquired if the table was satisfactory, and at Jim's nod, pulled out the table so they could slide into their places.

She whispered to Jim, "You didn't give your name at to the Maitre'd - do you come here often or is this more of the same?"

"More of the same thing, unfortunately," he said with a sigh.

They were quiet while they studied their menus. Then they both asked at the same time: "What looks good to you?" and laughed.

"Well, the last time I was here, their pasta in a cream sauce was good, and so was the grilled chicken. My friend Joyce recommends the hamburgers, if you're missing Wonder Burger..." her eyes dancing with laughter as she teased.

"Actually," started Jim with a smile, "The Chateaubriand for two looks good. I can be persuaded to eat other things than Wonder Burger, contrary to what some of my friends think!"

"Okay. That sounds good to me," agreed Cat as she closed her menu.

"Would you like some wine to accompany the meal?" asked Jim with another smile that reached his eyes.

"I'll pass. The last thing you need is me with a bad case of the giggles or falling asleep on you."

"Hmmm, giggles might be interesting, but you’re right, a clear head might be better for when we talk, later," added Jim.

The waiter came over and Jim ordered for them both. She watched him as he comfortably responded the waiter’s questions.

After the waiter was out of earshot, Jim turned to Cat, "Now what was that about a burglary case and court?"

"And I thought it was said cats were curious," quipped with a little smile. She sobered and continued, "Long story short, similar to what happened here, except I saw a story on the news about a burglary. I knew there'd be another, had the name of the jewelry store, and warned the police that a security guard would be killed if they didn't do something to stop it. I even had the name of the guard."

Cat paused and played with her napkin in her lap. "Three nights later, the jewelry store was hit, the guard killed. I went from crank to suspect. The one thing that cleared me was the fact the guard who was killed was a last minute replacement - not the regular guard and I’d known his name." Her expression was distant and sad. ‘Because the authorities hadn’t believed her, a good man had died in the process.’ She looked up at Jim. "The good news, I was working late, and had witnesses to the fact I was no where near the crime scene. They couldn’t find any evidence to connect me to the burglaries, besides the information that I had - before the incidents happened. Eventually, I was able to give them enough information, that, when added to what they already knew, the Metro Police were able to catch them."

Her face closed up, and she hesitated, trying to think of what to say so Jim would understand her emotions at the time. She sighed and began speaking again. "Now the trial was something altogether different. The defense attorney may have tried to destroy my credibility. I understood that that was his job. But in the end, I found another friend. You see, I scared him. I told him to check in his wallet for a reminder he'd written to himself, about a doctor's appointment cancelled six months previously. I told him to make the appointment, soon."

Cat gave a sad smile. "He called a couple of weeks later to thank me. He'd just been released from the hospital after emergency treatment."

"Now your turn. What have you two been up to since I was here last?"

Jim sighed heavily before answering, trying to figure out how best to answer Cat's loaded question. "All the, uh, attention I've been getting tonight is due to something that happened a couple of weeks ago. It brought a lot of attention to the two of us.... It got dragged out for a couple of days, so we're infamous in the city of Cascade, not that I was inconspicuous before that...."

"How bad was the fallout?" asked Cat.

Jim shook his head, "Bad, definitely bad, especially for Blair. He was ousted from the University over it."

"Oh, God. That's horrible," Cat gasped.

Jim raised his eyebrows and nodded in acknowledgment of Cat’s genuine concern over the incident. "Simon has offered Blair a job. A permanent, paid job with the department." He gestured with his glass of water. "The only catch is he has to go through the academy for weapons training before he can become official."

Jim raised his hand and indicated that that the waiter was approaching with their meal. They waited patiently until the waiter had served their dinners and left before continuing their conversation.

"Is this connected to why you believe Blair is missing?" she asked cautiously.

"I have no idea, Cat." Jim cut a piece of his steak and chewed thoughtfully. "He was going camping this weekend with some fellow students before going to the academy. He is scheduled to start his training at the academy on Monday. Now..." Jim made fists out of his hands, as he tried to explain his visions about Blair. "Hell, I don't even know if Blair is okay. I just have this horrible feeling something's wrong and vague images of Blair being held somewhere. It was supposed to be a back to nature weekend! I have no way of knowing if he made it to the destination or not! It's so... so..." he hissed, angry that he wasn't explaining himself very well.

"Frustrating?" filled in Cat as she commiserated with the worried detective. "What about the images?" she asked, trying to gently draw more information out. "What can you tell me about them? What kind of feelings are you getting from these visions? Where there any themes that seem to keep coming up? Anything you can remember will help."

Jim closed his eyes, trying to recall them. He took a deep breath, trying to relax as Blair had taught him. Cat smiled, watching him. He was doing exactly what he should be doing. Curious, she wondered who had taught him relaxation techniques.

"I know it sounds strange," Jim started, " but it's like watching a black and white movie out of focus. Everything is blurred. Bits and pieces, but nothing makes any sense. I get a sense that Blair’s in trouble.... locked in a room somewhere... he's scared...." Jim shook his head, jaw clenching in his frustration. "That's all, just the overwhelming feeling that something isn't right and that Blair's scared, in trouble."

Cat took his hand, making sure to have contact with his palm. No images, but she could feel a sense of anxiety. Whose? Jim's? Blair's? Or both?

"What are you doing?" Jim asked. "This is the second time you've done something like this."

Startled, Cat looked back at him blushing and feeling a little guilty.

"This time, and when we were in the lobby?"

"Yes, when your hand was on my back. I couldn't get over the warmth I was feeling from your hand, then and now. How can you generate so much heat...? You don't look feverish."

Cat was shocked that he could tell the difference in her touch when she was using energy.

"I'm sorry, Jim. Both times I was trying to help you. The first time, you seemed a little out of sorts. The place I put my hand on your back is one of several energy centers in the body. I was trying to balance your energies a bit for you. This time, I was trying to get a sense of what you were seeing or feeling from the visions. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't."

"That sounds like something I've seen before..." started Jim. "Incacha used to do something similar when I was in Peru with the Chopec Indians."

Jim raised his hand again, as the waiter approached to inquire about their dinner. After being assured everything was fine and nothing more was needed he left, disappointed that he’d been unable to carry any snippets of conversation back to his co-workers.

"Incacha?" asked Cat, puzzled. "Who's Incacha?"

"A shaman with the Chopec. I was on a mission in Peru when the helicopter I was in crashed.... everyone died except me."

"You were in Peru? How long were you there for? What kind of mission?"

"Yes, when I was in the military.... 1988 and I was there for over 18 months. The local tribe, the Chopec, took me in, healed me.... I was made a member of their tribe. I saw Incacha put his hands on some of the tribesmen if they were hurt and take away their pain, help them heal faster as well as using local medicinal plants for healing."

"That's done in some circles here as well. Spirit healing, laying on of hands, holistic medicines, naturopathy."

"Right," he replied, sighing. "Blair's always trying to get me to use some of his ancient tribal herbal medicines...." He shook his head and his facial muscles pulled tight in a grimace, as he remembered the two times Blair had offered him tribal medicine for his cold and the results of the medicine.

"Don't like being a guinea pig, eh?"

Jim shook his head ruefully. "No way." He sliced his hand in the air for emphasis. "Not for ancient Chinese Secrets or for modern medicine!"

"Now I can see why you avoid Blair’s tests when you can, too."

"How much did Blair tell you about the tests?" he asked, a little alarmed that Sandburg had been talking to a virtual stranger about his personal secrets.

Seeing the look of alarm in his eyes and the clenched jaw, she explained further, "He offered to run some tests on me. I asked if he ran tests on you. He admitted that he tried. I never asked what kind of tests. Remember, by then I'd already told you I knew you had your own talents. I was pretty sure he works with you to help you with them. Though I have to admit, I'm at a loss as to why he hasn't helped you with the visions. I take it they've been around for a while?"

"Yes, they have. But I've never spoken with Blair about them at any length. Actually, I try to avoid the subject as much as possible...." replied Jim, feeling awkward just discussing this with Cat.

Cat’s cell phone chose that moment to start playing "Fur Elise."

Jim grinned. "A fan of ‘Peanuts’?" he commented, recognizing it as the piece Shroeder played on his toy piano.

Cat returned the grin, rolling her eyes, nodding as she answered the phone.

Hey Cat, want to do sushi tonight?" invited Joyce.

Joyce, I’m sorry. Something’s come up, and I’m going to be busy for the better part of the weekend."

That was quick work. At least tell me I’m being stood up for a tall handsome guy you’re going to spend the weekend with and I’ll forgive you…" Joyce cajoled.

Cat blushed. "Yeah, kinda, sorta." She mumbled into the phone, realizing much to her consternation, that Jim was able to hear the whole conversation, not just her side of it.

"Ohhhhhh. You’re with him right now." Joyce replied, evidently enjoying the fact she was putting Cat on the spot. "Just remember girl, details. I want details Monday morning. I’ll bring the coffee."

"I’ll give you a call Sunday, so we can hopefully, make plans for the remainder of my visit."

"Okay. I'll talk to you later. Night, Cat."

Both continued eating and, after a brief silence, Cat met Jim’s gaze.

"I guess what I need to know is - beyond this time - do you want to learn to work with the visions? Learn to deal with them with less frustration?" Cat asked. She watched his face as she spoke, not liking the feeling of putting him on the spot with this kind of a question. But his answer would help her figure out the best way to try to help him.

Jim pushed his food around on his plate, thinking about her questions. He wasn't sure about any of this himself. He tended to be more of a concrete, black and white world, person. He liked to be able to use his five senses on whatever came at him. He didn't want to divulge too much to Cat about his senses, although she had already mentioned that she knew about his hearing. How, he didn't know.

Cat could read Jim’s hesitation and decided to try a different approach. "I know it's easier to deal with what you know. But don't most cops also work on gut instinct? That gut instinct is basically the same thing that's happening to you now, just on a different level."

Jim's jaw tightened as he thought about what Cat had just said. He ran her words over in his mind trying to see how gut instinct and precognition, because that’s what she was doing, implied that was what his "visions" were.... he shook his head in denial. He opened his mouth to speak but Cat beat him to the punch.

"How many times have you found yourself changing direction - for no apparent reason? Just because you knew you had to? It's the same thing. Its the unreasoned "knowing" that makes the difference." Cat paused long enough to take a quick breath before continuing, knowing if she stopped now, she'd never finish.

"But..." started Jim. He stopped, took a deep breath, hearing Blair's voice in his mind, 'Come on, man, you gotta trust other people sometime!'

"You know Blair is in trouble," she continued. "You're not going to help him by trying to block what's happening. You're going to have to trust yourself and trust me to help you. If you don't, there's no reason for this conversation."

Jim nodded his head once, making the decision to trust Cat fully. He reasoned with himself that he had trusted her to help solve the Kalan case. So, he listened to the voice of Blair and decided to open up to Cat.

"Okay," Jim paused and nodded. "This isn’t easy for me." Jim said as he met her unwavering gaze, "bear with me, okay? I do want to help Blair. I'm just used to being the lone wolf in this type of situation."

Cat nodded in agreement, releasing the breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding.

"What do I need to do to "connect" with these visions Cat? You're the expert here...." Jim pleaded.

"I'm no expert. I can take you through the steps I use, but there are no guarantees that it will work. There are a couple of exercises I use that might help. At first, it won't be easy - and will require a lot of patience."

"Oh, god. Not you, too? Blair is *always* coming up with other kinds of tests," said Jim with a mock groan, trying to show that he was trying to accept this new information.

Grinning and shaking her head, "No, it’s not the same thing. I’m trying to help you achieve a goal, not measure a response to prove a theory."

"One exercise I call the puzzle. The other the scroll. With these exercises, I'm at the point where I can single out an image or feeling and let it "run in the background" while I do something else until the whole thing falls together. Eventually, if it works for you, you should be able to do the same thing. It’s not terribly dramatic, both work the same way, just approaching the problem from different perspectives. The puzzle is where you choose the clearest of the images, and put it in the "center" of your thoughts. Then try to slide the other images around it until they start falling into place. Eventually you'll end up with the whole picture."

"With the scroll, you have to picture yourself standing in front of a giant scroll. It's curled up on both sides, and you're standing in the middle. You try to "push" back the ends to reveal the picture. The center is the same image you'd use in the puzzle."

"Okay," agreed Jim, trying to understand the different imaging techniques she was explaining to him. He frowned, trying to rationalize them in his black and white mind.

She gave him a slight smile, acknowledging the step he was taking. "If it's any help, you could almost think of it the way the police use composites to find a suspect. You still have to piece the information together to get the end result."

"Put that way, it sounds a little easier, but not by much," he retorted with a slight smile of his own.

"You'll do alright."

"If you say so, Cat."

"I know so," Cat replied quietly. She couldn't believe he would do anything in half measure. He wanted to help his friend, so there was no room for failure.

"The sooner we get started, the sooner I, correction, *we* can help Blair, right?"

"Right," she agreed with a smile.

"So, when do we begin?" asked Jim, after he finished his steak.

Looking at her plate, she realized that he’d already finished and she was definitely lagging behind. The food was good, but the conversation had been more interesting. She replied sheepishly, "Give me a few minutes to catch up with you."

When Cat finished her meal, Jim signaled their waiter for the bill. When the waiter brought the check to the table, he started to put it down before Jim, but Cat intervened.

"I told you before - I'm looking after this...."

"Cat!" he warned.

Cat signed the bill and left a tip. "Shall we?"

Jim slipped out of the booth, then helped Cat to her feet. He took her arm and led her out of the restaurant, pointedly ignoring the stares and whispers they generated as they passed through.

"For this type of work, the more relaxed you are, the better results we'll get. We can go to your place if you'd be more comfortable there. Otherwise, I'm on the 8th floor, if you want to go up to my suite."

"Well, since we're here, and the sooner we get going..." started Jim. "Besides, I got a ride over here."

"Blair got the keys to the truck or is it in the shop?" she questioned with a smirk.

Jim laughed. "Not *my* truck!"

"Boys and their toys," Cat laughed along with him.

"You got that right in one!"

They headed off to the bank of elevators, and waited for a car to arrive.

They stood patiently waiting for all the passengers in the crowded elevator to spill out into the lobby. Flashes of recognition on a few faces were evident followed by questioning glances. It was almost becoming funny. Almost being the key word. Finding themselves alone in the elevator, Cat turned to Jim, her eyes dancing with laughter, "I’m not sure whether I’ve just helped your reputation or hurt it further."

Back at the campground they had a fire going and John Sax had just started to put on hamburgers to fry. He asked Lisa where Blair was.

She looked at her watch and realized that she hadn't seen him for almost two hours. "I don't know. You don't think... I thought he had brought his last load in ahead of me and went back out to meditate."

John spoke louder so everyone could hear him. "Hey! Guys! Sandburg's not here. Anybody seen him in the last couple of hours?"

The rest of the campers walked up to the campfire and started discussing when they had last seen the wayward former TA. They concluded they had last seen him go off with Lisa but he hadn't come back.

"I'll go with Lisa to see if we can find him," offered Devon.

"Okay," replied John S. "I'll save you two some lunch."

"Thanks, man, you're all heart!" teased Devon.

The two teaching assistants headed out in the direction Lisa and Blair had taken earlier. They searched for a half hour and finally went back.

Andrea saw the two other campers returning. She knew by their expressions that they didn't have any luck. "Any signs of him at all?"

Lisa shook her head. "We saw some of his footprints but we lost them. We either need to all go out or tell the authorities who know these woods better than we do. We can't afford for anyone else to get lost."

Andrea scrunched up her face in worry. "But what if he's hurt? We don't want to leave him out there!"

Devon put a comforting hand on her arm. "I'll go notify the authorities and call his partner, Jim. Maybe he can help set up a search party."

"Shall we split up - half of us stay here in case Blair comes back? While the other go to the Sheriff's office to make the report?"

Andrea's face brightened at the suggestion.

Mark spoke up. "I have a better idea. Why don't you go by yourself Devon, then one of us will stay here and the others can go in pairs for looking for Sandburg."

"Sounds like a plan to me," replied Devon. "I'll be back in about an hour then."

They watched silently, as Devon left.

"I'll stay behind," offered Kurt. Lisa and Gord are the first team, Andrea and Saxy are the second team, Lisa and John C. you’re the third team. Good luck guys." They started off in the direction Blair had taken and split up where they had lost his tracks. The pairs took different directions and combed the area.

They had agreed to search for an hour so they could meet back at the campground and hear what Devon had to say.

Devon sped to the ranger station, hoping that there weren't any radar traps set. He pulled up to the ranger station and explained what had happened. Then he made the call to Cascade PD and asked for Detective James Ellison.

He waited impatiently as he waited to be connected. He was disappointed that he got Ellison's voice mail. He debated whether he should follow the voice mail instructions and leave a message with the operator.

He left a message then called Jim's home number, again only getting an answering machine. He left a message there, too. Devon left the ranger station and headed back to the campground after checking with the ranger one more time. The ranger said he would relay the information to all his men and they would be on the lookout for Blair. The ranger would contact Devon back at the campground if they found Blair.

Devon felt disheartened as he arrived back just as the others came straggling in, hot, tired, thirsty, and very disappointed. It seemed like nothing was working in their friend's favor.

Andrea again voiced her concern and Lisa tried to reassure her. "Andrea, he's been camping before and knows the basic survival skills. He should be okay if he's not back before dark. Let's just hope it doesn't get too cold tonight since Blair didn't have a jacket on when he left."

Andrea shivered in sympathy as a cold wind swept through the campground.

Cat had Jim help her move a couple of the chairs to the middle of the room, facing one another. She figured that this would be the best arrangement for the session.

"Jim, take a seat and try to relax a bit. I noticed you doing some breathing exercises earlier, it might be best if you do a few more. I’m was thinking of putting on some music. Do you have a preference? I’ve got instrumental, sea sounds, a combination of both, or some other relaxation and meditation tapes. Or would you prefer no music?"

"Have you got candles with you as well?" Jim asked, thinking about Blair and his meditations. "No earth music in your collection from the sounds of it?" He asked the last question with a rueful smile.

"Nope, left them at home. I can only bring so much with me, and I wasn’t exactly expecting to try and help someone deal with their own visions…" she replied with a chuckle.

"What kind of instrumental music do you have?" he inquired.

"Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. It’s one of my favorite relaxation pieces. I normally listen to it while I’m working late at night on the computer and I’m a little stressed out."

"Sounds interesting. We can try that I guess."

Cat pulled out the portable CD player from her briefcase and small speakers from the desk drawer, hooking everything up quickly, and inserted the CD. Soft strains of music filled the room as she lowered the volume a bit so it wouldn’t be obtrusive to the work ahead of them.

"Have you decided which exercise you’re going to try, the Puzzle or the Scroll?"

"I’ll try the Puzzle. You’ve said they’re similar enough either should work."

"Okay," She paused, "now how about those deep cleansing breaths?"

She watched as he closed his eyes and started the breathing exercise. Something still wasn’t quite right. She could tell by the way he was sitting, it wasn’t having the desired effect.

She moved behind him. "Jim, drop your head forward a bit," Cat suggested.

When he complied with the request, Jim felt her hands slip inside his shirt, a hand gently coming to rest on either shoulder. She started to massage his shoulders, running her thumbs in a semi-circle from the top of his shoulder blades up either side of his neck and back. Slowly, rhythmically. He could feel the tension slipping away. She definitely wasn’t Blair, but she knew exactly what to do and when.

A satisfied smile slowly spread across Cat’s lips. "Don’t you dare fall asleep on me now," she murmured. She didn’t have to see his face to know he was grinning.

"Okay," Cat said as she sat in the chair across from Jim. "Close your eyes again, and focus on the one image that you can see clearest. Now slowly, introduce the other images, no matter how vague, and slide them around the central image. See if you can find any pieces that look like they fit together. If you do, try to bring that new piece into better focus. If it doesn’t fit, try another. You can turn them around to see if any sides fit together, you’re not restricted to just the way it presents itself to you."

Cat closed her own eyes and listened to the music and his breathing pattern. Relaxed. She allowed herself the time to check with her own guides for any hints, when suddenly, she felt that something very wrong had happened. Her eyes opened and she found herself looking at Jim. The breathing wasn't right, and there was a blankness to his face. ‘Shit! He wasn’t supposed to go into this kind of state." She thought to herself. She had purposely tried not to induce a trance state, and yet he appeared to be in one. "Jim? Can you hear me?" There was no movement, no recognition.

"What the hell happened?" she muttered looking upward, directing the question to her own guides.

'It is because he is a Sentinel,’ was the response.

"Oh great. A Sentinel? Now, what the hell is that supposed to mean?"

‘Ask him.’

"Yeah, right. Like he’s in any condition to answer that kind of a question. You’re a real big help."

Cat could feel her own frustration level rising. She hated it when her guides decided to be difficult. She rose from her seat and started to pace, trying to figure out how to deal with this situation.

"Okay, now whow do I get him out of this?" she demanded of her guides. Her demand was met with stoney silence. "Damn it! You know what he is and won't tell me. You know how to help him and won't even let me buy a clue...." she started to rant.

The feeling of frustration and helplessness rose even higher until Cat stopped dead in her tracks with the realization she was the problem. She couldn't help Jim unless she calmed herself down.

Returning to the chair that she had vacated a short time ago, Cat started the breathing exercises. 'Breathe in to the count of five. Hold for the count of five. Release to the count of five. Hold for the count of five," she repeated until she could feel the frustration and helplessness falling away.

"Please," she pleaded, "help me to help him. Will he come out of this by himself?"

"No," was her guides answer. was her guides answer.

"What do I need to do to help him?"

"What is similar?"

"You mean, this is like something else I know of? Something I can handle?"

No answer.

"Okay, is this similar to the state of a sleepwalker?" she asked tentatively.


"Catatonia?" Cat asked, praying silently, this wasn't the answer. She knew neither of them would like it if she had to get medical help to deal with this situation.


"Is it like a trance?"

No answer.

"So, it's trance-like? Does that mean it is a suggestible state?"

Again, no answer.

Cat took a deep breath, and opened her eyes, looking at Jim, she tried to remember how to get someone out of a trance. She’d try to use those methods to bring him out of this state. If it was like a trance – she could also try one other thing before bringing him out of it.

"Jim. I need you to listen to my voice. I need you to remember everything that has happened since we came to my suite. You will find the images that you are trying to recall clearer. You will be able to work with them without going into this kind of a trance state again. You will be able to put the puzzle together and find Blair. Now, I’m going to count to ten. When I reach ten you will be fully aware and out of this state."


‘Two." ‘She watched. No change.’


"Four." ‘Still no change.’

"Five." ‘Damn, got to remember to breathe! She chided herself when she realized she was holding her breath.’


"Seven." ‘A flicker of something across his face. It was working!’

"Eight." ‘Closer!’



Jim slowly opened his eyes. He ran both hands over his face to help clear the effects of his zone out. He should have known better. Maybe he should have warned Cat. He brought his gaze to rest on her. She wasn’t happy about this.

"What the hell happened?" Cat demanded.

Jim realized then, he remembered what had been said while he was zoned. That had never happened before. What had she said? ‘A sentinel. What the hell is that supposed to mean?’ then she’d said, ‘Like he’s in any condition to answer that kind of a question. You’re a real big help.’ Who had she been talking to - her guides?

"Blair calls it a zone. If I focus too hard or long on something, I zone." He waited for her to ask the expected next question, wondering if she sensed his evasiveness.

"And you couldn’t have warned me? You’re lucky I had half an idea how to get you out of it. If there’s ever a next time, say something!" Her anger and frustration over the experience was understandable. What wasn’t, was the fact Cat could have asked about his being a sentinel, and had apparently chosen not to.

"Uh, Cat?" Jim hesitated before going on. "I have to ask, why do I remember what happened? That’s never happened before."

‘Blair never twigged to the fact your zoning is like a trance state? Ay, yi, yi . Not good.’ she thought, shaking her head.

"You seemed to be in a trance-like state. In a trance, the subject is in a highly suggestible state. That’s why I made the suggestions I did. I had hoped that you’d remember the exercise, and working with it, as well as the images. I wanted to try to make it easier for you. If I suggested that it would be, maybe, just maybe, the suggestion would take. Hopefully, the pieces of the puzzle will fall together easier for you, and become clearer. I figured it was worth a try. Especially if I could prevent you from going into another similar state the next time you tried it."

Jim paled when he heard this. This could be even more dangerous than just zoning.

"Jim. This is just between you and me," Cat said trying to reassure him after seeing his reaction. "It will go no further. I won’t even say anything to Blair about this. It’s your call. Besides, suggestions are just that -- suggestions. No one can make you do anything against your will. You will always have the final say."

The silence in the room was deafening, as he struggled to take in what had just happened.

"Look," Cat began, trying to find someway to help distract him from what had happened. "It’s still fairly early. Why don’t we go for a bit of a walk? I was going to go out to get a few things to stock the fridge with from a store not far from here. Why don’t you join me? Then we can figure out where to go from here."

"That sounds like a good idea. Before we go, would you mind if I used your phone? I should have checked my messages before now."


She busied herself in the next room, to give him some measure of privacy. When she heard the receiver return to the cradle, Cat peeked out.


"There was a message from Blair’s friends. He went missing late this afternoon. They’ve reported his disappearance to the local authorities and then called to leave a message for me. They figure he’s gotten lost in the woods."

Leaning against the doorframe, Cat sighed and closed her eyes. She felt guilty at the uneasy mixture of happiness and sadness at the news. ‘Damn. I knew this was going to happen, but this is not the type of confirmation of his visions he needs,’ she thought.


Cat opened her eyes and looked at him. Seeing the tension return, she felt like all the good she had tried to do for him had just slipped away.

"Is something wrong?" Jim asked anxiously. He was almost afraid Cat had picked up something he hadn’t been able to from the vision.

"Yes and no. It could be considered a good sign that you’ve received such a definite confirmation that you’ve been right. You now have confirmation that this is more than just a bad dream or a figment of your imagination. I just wish it could have been something a little more pleasant instead of this kind of news."

Suddenly, the room had become too confining for him and he needed to get out of there. "Let’s go for that walk, then. I think I could use some fresh air."

Cat grabbed a couple of six packs of bottled water and put them in the shopping cart to join the box of granola bars and the cans of cola and root beer.

From behind her she heard, "You forgot these," as Jim carefully placed two packs of Pepperidge Farms Chesapeake cookies in the cart.

He was rewarded with a chuckle, as Cat said, "You remembered." His smile echoed hers, and she felt this had been just what they had both needed.

"All four of the food groups, right?" he joked. "I’ve tried to get away with that, but I keep getting reminded I’m a cop, not a computer programmer."

"Our loss, Cascade’s gain," Cat replied impishly, trying to keep the mood light, knowing full well that it would have been Blair doing the reminding.

"By the way, thanks," said Jim softly.

"For what?" ask Cat, not quite following.

"For trying to help," Jim paused and then continued almost under his breath, " and for not asking." Making sure no one overheard that part of their conversation. They had been lucky this time, with few, if any, prying eyes or ears around.

Cat smiled, as she realized what he was thanking her for. "If my guides aren’t going to tell me something, I feel I have no right to ask. They must have been in the military at some time. Sometimes, information is only available on a need to know basis..."

Blair slowly opened his eyes, trying to figure out where he was. It was dark and silent. He looked around and finally remembered he was in the cabin. A little moonlight filtered into the room through the boards on the window. Blair worked the knot that secured the rope on his wrists.

He again used his teeth to get the ropes off his hands. Then he finally managed to get the ropes off his feet. Thankfully, Tony hadn't tied the ropes as tight as Scott had, so he still had feeling in his hands and feet.

Blair immediately went to the door and tried it. Locked. He knew the window was out because it would make too much noise if he tried to break out the boards. He reached down into his boot and pulled out his Swiss Army Knife. He was glad that he had purchased a pair of hiking boots that had zipper pouches on them.

He opened up the knife and found the tool he was looking for. He carefully and quietly worked at picking the lock. As he heard the bolt slide back, a big grin suffused his face.

"Yes!" he whispered, clenched one fist and pulled it quickly to his body in a victory gesture. He carefully and slowly turned the handle and opened the door just as carefully.

He waited a few seconds, just in case someone was awake and had seen the door open. Safe. He stepped outside the door and quietly closed it behind himself.

Blair peeked out into the room and realized that there was no way he could make it to the door without disturbing the bandits. He'd have to step over too many pairs of legs and hope that no one would wake up as he progressed through. He decided to risk making noise with the windows. He tiptoed back into the room, shut the door and turned to the window.

Blair felt around the casing, trying to find the board he'd started to pull out earlier. It gave way with little protest. He tried his knife and found a tool that would help pry the nails out and gave him extra leverage, and hopefully, keep the noise of the nails down, too. Blair tried a couple more boards. Some gave way as easily as the first did. Others would require a crowbar at least to move them. He cleared enough away from inside that he'd be able to get through. The boards on the outside were not as thoroughly placed across the window. But now the tough part. How to open the window without breaking it?

"Blair…. No!"

Cat was fully awake at the sound of Jim’s anguished cry. She’d dozed fitfully, only too aware of the man who slept in the next room. She’d heard him toss and turn, and now he seemed trapped within a nightmare. Cat quickly got up, and opening the sliding door between the bedroom and sitting room, where Jim had been sleeping just as fitfully on the sofa bed.

They’d worked late, trying to help him work with the vision again, with little success. Both of them were tired and frustrated by the end of the session.

Cat had offered him the sofa bed, because she was too tired to drive him home, and figured he wasn’t in much better shape.

‘Yes, I could have taken a cab home.’ Jim thought. A breakthrough would come soon, she had argued when he had suggested taking a cab home. But Cat had preferred to have him close, wanting to be there when the breakthrough occurred to help him through it.

"Jim. Wake up. You’re having a nightmare," she said as she perched on the edge of the couch.

Jim opened his eyes at the sound of her voice. Trying to figure out where he was, remembering finally that he was in Cat’s suite.

"No. It wasn’t a nightmare," Jim said quietly. "I remember. I remember the whole thing now."

"Close your eyes again," Cat directed. "Visualize the whole thing, and describe it."

Jim looked at Cat, perched on the side of the sofa bed in the dark. "Uh, Cat? Can you do me a favor before we go any further?"

"Sure, what do you need?"

"Could you put on a robe or a little more clothing?"

Cat blushed, mortified at the thought she was only wearing a T-shirt which left nothing to the imagination. She quickly got up, dashing back into the other room closing the door behind her again.

Jim closed his eyes. ‘This is * not * the type of distraction I need right now. For all the times I’ve kidded Blair about table legs, I owe him big time for this one.’ Still, the images that he saw in his mind’s eye at that particular moment were not unappealing. Jim tried to dismiss it as wishful thinking.

In the other room, Cat was trying to settle down. She turned on a lamp, and then glared at herself in the mirror, taking in the t-shirt she admonished herself, ‘Shit! Shit! Shit! Okay, so you weren’t expecting a ‘sleepover’ during this trip. You shoulda packed a proper nightgown and robe. You’ll know better next time.’

Unbidden, a series of images played themselves out for her, making her blush even deeper shade of pink…. ‘Get your mind out of the gutter, kiddo. You’ve got work to do. You’ll have time for daydreams once this is over and Blair is back where he belongs.’

A few minutes later, she re-entered the room, this time in jeans and the T-shirt. Jim had taken the time to put on his own clothes Cat noted, thankfully. He had turned on the lights in the room, and was in the process of closing up the sofa bed.

"So," she hesitated, "what do you remember?" Still feeling slightly embarrassed, she sat in the chair at the desk, finding herself staring at his back, watching his movements.

"Everything," he replied as he finished setting the cushions in place. Jim turned and sat down on the couch. "I think I have an idea of where he may be."

"This *is* good news. Tell me more, like how Blair happened into this predicament. Do you recognize any of the places or people in the vision? Strike that, of course you do, if you’ve got an idea where he is."

Jim grinned, thinking, ‘She really was like Blair with all the questions.’

"It starts off with Blair going into the woods. For someone as ‘directionally challenged’ as he is, why he chose to go off into the woods by himself, I’ll never know."

Cat could feel the grin tugging at the corners of her mouth. "Directionally challenged, eh?"

"He was trying to find his way back to the site where the others were, and he found himself at a forked path, which he didn’t remember. He chose the one on his right, and headed off, expecting to find his friends. Blair got deeper and deeper into the woods. Finally, he found a dirt road leading to a cabin, where he hoped to get help. Instead, he found trouble. I’m not sure he knows who is holding him, but they know him. I’m not sure if it’s because we’ve run into some of them in the line of duty, or, if it’s because of the publicity we received a couple of weeks ago."

As he spoke, with a slight of a shiver a funny look passed over his face, though it wasn’t cold in the room.

"Jim? Did you feel a sort of tingle just then?" she asked quietly.

Raising an eyebrow at her question, he answered, "How did you know?"

"What part of the sentence gave you the tingle, the line of duty or the publicity?"

"What?" he asked having a hard time trying to follow her reasoning.

"Trust me on this," she said patiently, "Which part of that last sentence did you get the tingle on?"

"The publicity. Damn, it just happened again!" his bewilderment showing on his face.

"Congratulations, you’ve just had another form of confirmation," Cat said cautiously. "It appears Blair is being held because they know of his connection to you and the Major Crimes unit. Consequently, he has to be some sort of threat to them. Now the question is why? Do you have any idea how many of them are there? Do you recognize any of the faces of the people holding him?"

"At least four. Though, I have a funny feeling there are possibly be more than that. One of them, possibly two, seemed familiar. I’m just trying to place them," Jim replied, racking his memory for the reason they seemed familiar. He rose and started to pace like a caged cat.

"Would it be worth it to go to the station to view mug shots to try to pick this person out? Or is it from something else you recognize him from, like the news?"

"That’s it!" He stopped where he was, turned to look at Cat and continued, "He was on one of those Crime Stopper pieces one of the local stations played during the news recently. He was part of a bank robbery caught on video. Another unit in the P.D is handling the robbery. His face wasn’t visible, but the movements, the body language were familiar."

"Okay. Now we’ve got the why and part of the who. How about working on the where? Start thinking about the place, any landmarks you can see, to help us find them. Picture the cabin, the things around it, see if you can follow the road out to where it meets a larger, main road."

Jim closed his eyes, to visualize the cabin and its surroundings. He could see the cabin, the trees around it, and the dirt road. He pictured himself in the middle of the road, and started walking away from the cabin, noting the different landmarks, finally tracing it to a junction with a main road he knew he’d be able to recognize later.

Cat watched him carefully, for signs of a zone. He seemed to be doing it a lot easier than he had earlier. It looked like the suggestions she’d made had apparently worked.

"I think I can find them. But we’re going to need help. I’ll call Simon, Captain Banks, and we’ll need the help of the local authorities, since it will be outside of our jurisdiction."

Cat smiled. He had finally found a firm footing with this. She could see his confidence had returned. He knew what to do. Who needed to be called. And best of all, she could almost swear he knew everything would be all right.

"How are you going to explain to Captain Banks how you found out where Blair is?" Cat asked. "I mean, how are you going to tell him you got the information? Does he even know you have special talents, like visions?" she continued.

Jim thought for a moment, and started to smile. "Well, I could always tell him I got some help from you…." The things he’d learned from Blair…

"Not a lie, not the whole truth. But would he buy it?"

"After what happened with the Kalan case, add to that the fact you showed up in Cascade on the day Blair goes missing? He may not like it, but I think he may be able to keep an open mind on the subject."

Jim suggested they stop by his place. It gave him a chance to change clothes and gather a few things he felt they needed, like a first aid kit.

Jim had called Simon to let him know Blair was missing, and that he had received some information leading him to believe Blair wasn’t just lost in the woods as his friends believed, but was being held somewhere near the area he had been camping with his friends. Jim had also advised Simon that he was going up to scout ahead, to ensure that the information was right.

As expected, Simon insisted that he not go in alone. He’d have people standing by ready to roll, once Blair was located, and they knew what they would be facing.

The sun hadn’t even risen yet as they approached Cat’s rental car. They had decided to take the Neon, since it wouldn’t be as noticeable as his truck. If these thugs were aware of the press conference, and the events leading up to it, they might even know his vehicle. The rental was low key enough, that even if they were stopped, who would think twice at a couple watching the sunrise in the mountains.

"Heads up!" Cat called out as she tossed the car keys to Jim. He gave her a questioning glance as he caught them. She replied quietly, "You can find him, I can’t. You already have some idea where to go. You know the area. Follow that feeling, those images, whatever will lead you to Blair."

"Like you did on the campus? When you found Kalan?" Jim asked as he opened the car door for her.

She waited to respond until he got in the car. "Pretty much. For me it was like a knot in my stomach that just got larger as I got closer, add to that what felt like someone screaming in the back of my mind as I got closer – it’s hard not to miss. Your own reactions and feelings may be completely different. But if you start out in the right direction – you should start to feel something, and it will only get stronger as you get closer."

"You make it sound so easy," he replied as he started the car and pulled out of the parking space. He drove to the main street that would head them in the right direction.

"It is really, once you get used to it. All you have to do is leave yourself open to it and listen. I’ve always believed that everyone can do this. It’s a matter of giving yourself permission to believe in it and accept it."

They started on their way, carrying on a quiet banter between them. Occasionally Cat would ask what he was feeling, was it getting stronger or weaker? After a couple of false starts, they found themselves on the right road, and Jim noticed an indefinable feeling gaining strength. It wasn’t a feeling he could easily describe and its level was rising the closer he got to their destination. He could understand why Cat described it as a knot. The difference in the feeling when he was on the right or wrong road amazed him. It was subtle, but it could be felt. Without Cat helping him, he may never have realized what it was.

After about 45 minutes Jim pulled over to the side of the road, at what appeared to be a scenic lookout spot. It was wide enough to accommodate several cars without being a danger to traffic on the mountain road.

"The smaller road leading to the cabin is just up the way. I’m going to call to Simon now, so he and the others can meet us here. He’ll also alert the local authorities, so we don’t have any jurisdictional problems. We’ll wait here until they arrive," Jim explained.

Cat nodded her understanding. She wondered what reaction the others would have to her presence when they arrived. The other members of the Major Crimes unit wouldn’t know her on sight, but she was willing to bet that her reputation preceded her and that they would know of her and the Kalan case.

"I think I’m going to stretch my legs a bit, if you don’t mind," Jim asked.

"That sounds like a good idea. I think I’ll join you. A breath of fresh mountain air might be nice, too."

They didn’t have long to wait. Twenty-five minutes later, they were leaning against the car talking when they were joined by three County Sheriff’s vehicles and Captains Banks and Taggart.

Each of them did a double take when they saw Cat. She remained where she had been when they arrived, as Jim went over to talk to the gentleman who appeared to be Captain Banks and the Deputy Sheriff who was leading the local group. She could tell there was a heated discussion going on, with pointed looks being sent in her direction. Finally, Jim brought the Captain over.

"Captain Banks, I’d like to introduce you to Catharine Alexander. Cat, this is Captain Banks."

"It’s a pleasure to meet you Captain," Cat said as she extended her hand. "I’m only sorry it wasn’t under better circumstances. When I spoke to Jim last night, I offered my assistance in finding Blair."

Simon took her proffered hand, the surprise evident in his eyes. "Ms Alexander."

"That’s not entirely correct, Sir. I asked for her help in locating Blair."

Cat gave him a questioning look. Was he really going to tell Captain Banks that *he* was the one who had been having the visions?

"Does this have something to do with the state we found you in yesterday morning?" Simon asked.

Jim nodded and continued. "When I woke up yesterday morning, I had a feeling something was wrong, or about to go wrong. Something to do with Blair. I couldn’t figure out what it was. I zoned listening to Blair’s heartbeat as he left."

Simon shot a look at Cat wondering how much she knew.

"She knows, Simon. I zoned again last night, while she was trying to help me pull the images together. Cat was able to get me out of the zone and helped me pull everything together. It took a while, but it worked. I know where Blair is."

"But you haven’t had any visions for what, almost six months? You had no problem then. Why now?"

"It isn’t always that easy, Captain Banks." Cat explained. "Think of it like a dream. How often do you remember them? How often do you even try? Sometimes it’s only fragments or fleeting feelings that are remembered, then we have to work at remembering the rest, like trying to fit a puzzle together. It isn’t as straightforward as watching a television show or a movie where everything is laid out neatly for you."

Simon looked from Cat to Jim, not quite sure what to make of this development. Cat could read the frustration in his face. Not much different from the frustration that had registered on Jim’s face the night before while he tried to accept similar information.

"If I had any sense at all, I’d send her back to Cascade now," said Simon, "But you’ve said she has to come with us, I don’t like it, but I’ll allow it on one condition, she stays put once we get to the spot you’ve indicated, Jim. I just hope she listens better than Sandburg."

"You’ll get no argument from me on that, Captain," said Cat. "I’d prefer to be as far away from the action as possible." She wondered though, what had made Jim insist that she stay with them, instead of being sent back to the hotel to wait it out.

"Now that everyone is here, let’s go over the details," Simon told Jim as Detectives Rafe and Brown arrived.

Cat was more than a little surprised when Jim put a hand in the middle of her back to guide her over to meet the others.

"Hey Ellison! When did you start bringing dates to this kind of party?" called out Brown.

"Jealous, H?" kidded Jim.

‘This is not helping…’ thought Cat, feeling more anxious the closer she got to the others.

"Henri, Rafe, Joel, this is Catharine Alexander," introduced Jim. "I think you remember the Kalan case. She’s the one who gave us the information that nailed him. She’s also the one who’s helped me locate Sandburg."

Cat watched their faces register dismay as a feeling of unease seemed to settle over the group. The only ones not effected by the news were the deputies from the Sheriff’s office and they only seemed curious about the turn of events.

"I can see why you were reluctant to tell me who you were meeting last night," said Joel in a low voice to Jim. "She’s okay by me if she can help get Sandburg back in one piece."

It was at that moment Cat realized that Captain Banks was privy to information the others weren’t. "He knows that Jim is different, and accepted it. He’s allowed Blair to be Jim’s partner, when he would normally have been partnered off with another detective. He also trusted Jim’s judgment enough that he willingly goes against his own better judgment," Cat thought wistfully, "It’s good to know that there were some people in this world who could at least try to understand or try to accept it even if they didn’t understand. I just wish there were more of them in my life."

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Home > Graywulf > And The Cat Came Back Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4