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

And The Cat Came Back

by & Stargazer

Blair stared at the window. He tried the latch but it didn’t want to give. So close, yet so far away. He looked for another tool on his knife and tried that. It gave a little and he kept working at it. Finally, he managed to turn the latch. Maneuvering his right hand under one of the boards, he started to raise the window.

 And it screeched! He stopped and rested a moment, and listened for any noise from the other room. It was obvious that the window hadn't been opened in ages. Blair continued to open the window, slowly trying to make the least noise possible. He held his breath, hoping the window wouldn't make anymore noise.

 The window eased up and he managed to get it up as far as it would go. Then he tried to push out the boards on the outside. They weren't hammered in any better than the ones on the inside. Putting his hands on either end of the boards, he was able to ease them out of the frame of the window. Age and weather had worked to make them easier to remove than the inside ones. Finally there was enough room for him to squeeze through.

 "Okay, Jim, now would be a great time for the cavalry to arrive! Come on, Jim. I know you’re out there, somewhere!" thought Blair. He continued his silent pleas for his Blessed Protector to show up, soon.

 He climbed out the window, carefully, and dropped to the ground with a small thud. He crouched there, listening, making sure that the others hadn't woken. He kept to the shadows as he tried to move away from the cabin. Dawn was just breaking. It had taken him longer to get out than he realized. He moved off through the woods, trying to keep enough foliage and brush between him and the house so he wouldn't be seen. He made his way around the cabin, back towards the road, and into the woods on the other side, trying to make his way back to the camp. He ran as fast as he dared in the shadows made by the overhead trees.

 He stopped to listen, to make sure they weren't aware he'd managed to get away. As he caught his breath he heard a sound in the brush. It came from the direction the deer had come from. Not wasting anytime to find out if it was a bear or not, Blair sprinted off again. He just hoped it wasn't the robbers out looking for him, but he doubted it. He didn’t really care which direction he ran in, just as long as it was away from the bank robbers! He was sure he would have heard shouts from the men if they were looking for him. He ran about a half an hour before he became totally winded and had to stop and rest for a few minutes.

 "…at this point, we’ll leave the cars and carry on by foot," Jim advised, as he pointed out the location on a map provided by one of the deputy sheriffs. Cat stood quietly at Jim’s side as he outlined the raid on the cabin. The others were listening intently as they leaned against the hood of the car where the map was laid out.

 "The cabin is further up this dirt road, the cars will be out of sight, and should be out of their hearing range. They won’t know we’re coming. The cabin has only one door, but in the back is a partially boarded up window. Sandburg is in that room, where the boarded up window is. We should be able to get him out safely and surprise them if we can get inside, by going in through both the door and the window of that backroom. There’s enough cover from trees at the side and back of the cabin, we should be able to get around it without being seen. Only approaching it from the front will be a problem. With any luck, it’s still early enough, they may be sleeping and we can catch them unaware. They will more than likely be expecting us, because of Sandburg, believing the police are onto them."

 "Any idea how many we should be expecting?" asked Simon.

 "Four, possibly five."

 Simon clapped his hands once. "Okay, people, let's move out. Time's wasting and I want to use the low sun to our advantage. Ellison, you take point," he ordered.

 Jim and Cat got in their car and lead the way down the road. The sheriff's department and Major Crimes followed after. They drove for about 15 minutes until Jim stopped and pulled off to the side.

 He got out as did the other officers and they regrouped. Simon gave assignments to everyone. Rafe and one of the deputies were assigned to the back, while the rest were arranged to attack from the front. Henri was to be in the middle between the back and front to let the others know when the window was opened up to get in.

 Rafe reported back to Henri that the window was open, then ran back to help get the rest of the boards off the window. Henri relayed the message and went to the back of the house to make sure both men got in safely. After they were inside the room, he ran around the front and reported in. They crept up to the cabin, and Ellison quietly approached the porch, climbing up on it stealthily like his spirit guide. He bobbed forward to look in a window and saw the men inside sleeping on various pieces of furniture. He signaled how many were in the room and waved the others forward

 The others crept up onto the porch and stationed themselves in front of the open window and beside the doors. Ellison motioned that he was going in.

 Rafe and the sheriff's deputy found the ropes that had held their friend captive, but no Blair. Rafe smiled when he realized Blair must have gotten away. Why else would the window have been open, with boards on the ground?

He tried the door and found that it opened easily, but a little noisily. He motioned for the sheriff's deputy to follow him out into the room. Rafe saw Jim enter the room. Rafe quickly strode in front of Tony who was snoring. Rafe visually checked the robber over for a gun and gave a thumbs up sign that there was no gun.

The police and sheriff's men quietly arranged themselves around the room, each training a gun on a robber. Jim tapped Lester's shoulder and the man groggily moved his head and swatted at the offending arm poking him.

"Nice and easy, fella," ordered Jim as Lester jerked awake and saw a gun in his face. He mumbled a "Wha?" and put his hands up when Jim motioned with his gun. The officers, under Simon’s watchful eye were rousting the others at the same time.

All the bank robbers were rudely awakened. All were startled that they were under arrest.

"Hey! How'd you get in here?" asked Brad.

"Where's that little guy?" demanded Skeeter, looking around at the various officers.

"What little guy?" asked Simon.

"That Sandburg runt!" growled Scott.

"Shut up you moron," ordered Lester.

Rafe spoke up, "Jim, he's not in the room. Blair's gone."

Skeeter sat up straighter. "He's gone? How'd he get away? He was asleep the last time I checked on him! I knew I shoulda taken care of him when I had the chance!"

Jim turned and glared at Skeeter who went pale. Jim's jaw tensed when he heard Skeeter’s comment. He looked over at Simon and the captain shook his head. "Joel, read them their rights and let's get these scum bags outta here!"

Joel did as he was bid and the officers made the robbers stand and handcuffed them. They were then marched out of the house, one at a time and kept separated from each other.

Cat had only been left behind ten minutes earlier, but already she was starting to get restless. She got out of the car and started to pace. ‘Why had Jim insisted that she come along? Something wasn’t quite right. But what?’ She felt she wasn’t supposed to stay at the car. She was needed elsewhere.

Finally she slowed her step and stopped pacing. She started the process of centering herself, slowing her breathing and trying to clear her mind. She turned toward the forest, closing her eyes and waited. She felt a slight pull into the forest, and followed it.

Cat followed the feeling she found herself guided by through the woods and stopped as she heard someone running towards her.

Spying Blair, she called out "Hey Sandburg, did you take a wrong turn on the way to the corner store? Isn’t this a bit out of the way for a litre of milk and some eggs?"

Blair stopped dead. The confusion in his face was so evident, Cat nearly started to laugh. The confusion gave way to concern.

"Cat? Are you a figment of my imagination or real?" he asked as he reached out to touch her. "I don’t know what you’re doing here," he replied shaking his head in bewilderment, but glad to see a friendly face, never the less. "But we’ve got to get out of here. You don’t know what’s going on, it’s dangerous to stay here…" he said as he started to take her arm to guide her away from the danger.

"Ummm, no Blair. The cavalry has arrived…." she said with a cheshire grin, putting her hand on his shoulder in reassurance.

"What?" he said still trying to reconcile the fact that Cat was here, out in the woods with him.

"Jim, Simon, and a few others from the Major Crimes Unit, and the local County Sheriff’s office are at the cabin now, cleaning up and looking for you. I was, uh, left behind for safety’s sake, but sorta realized you’d already gotten away and were heading away from the cabin. I just decided to make sure you made it to the cars so when Jim and the others return, you’d be there to greet them, instead of them having to start a manhunt to find you."

Cat paused, watching the news sink in. "C’mon. Let’s head back to the cars. Oh, by the way, would you care for these?" Cat said as she pulled a small bottle of water and a granola bar from her purse. Blair grinned and accepted both.

"Are you sure you’re heading in the right direction? Isn’t the road this way?" suggested Blair, pointing in a direction away from the road.

"Oh, yeah, I’m sure. This is the way back to the cars. See this mark here?" Cat pointed out a fresh mark in the bark of a tree as she spoke, holding up a metal nail file which had seen better days. "I made sure to leave marks so I could find my way back."

Cat reached into the backseat of the car, and pulled out the first aid kit Jim had brought along. Blair had a few bruises, scrapes and cuts from his experiences over the past 24 hours. Nothing that required hospitalization, but the sooner some of them were looked at, the better the chance of fighting off infection.

"Man, I still can’t believe you’re here. The timing is way strange," commented Blair.

He was sitting on the passenger side of the car, with the door open, facing her. Cat set the kit on the roof of the car, and quickly picked out a couple of cotton balls and some antiseptic.

"What can I say? I’m here on business as of Monday, and I decided to come into town on Friday instead of Sunday so I could relax a bit. Little did I know that this would be how I’d start off my weekend," said Cat with a wry smile.

"How much do you know about what happened? I mean, when did you find out I needed help?" questioned Blair.

"It’s complicated, Blair, and I think that explanation will have to wait until later," Cat stalled. There was no way she was going to try to explain this without Jim being present. It was his call as to how this was going to be handled.

"Ow! Take it easy!" Blair cried out as Cat started to clean the scrape on Blair’s left cheek.

"Okay, you can do it yourself if you prefer." Cat offered him the cotton balls and antiseptic, and Blair started to clean his scrapes and cuts himself, using the rearview mirror. While the lighting wasn’t the best, it would have to do until they got back to Cascade. He hissed often as the antiseptic let him know about each cut and scrape.

Cat stood by the car, listening to voices coming from down the road. They were getting closer, so she knew that they’d have company in a few minutes.

"It sounds like Jim and the others are returning. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see you waiting here for them, if not surprised."

"Speaking of the others, do they know * who * you are?" asked Blair.

"Oh, yeah." Cat sighed. "We were introduced earlier, the whole tone of things changed very quickly after that. I think they were as uncomfortable as I was."

"I can imagine that.... the guys of Major Crimes are not all that open to alternative stuff. They'd have called it "voodoo" or some such name," commiserated Blair.

"I can well believe it. You're not exactly the run of the mill for the department. How did they take to you when you arrived on the scene?" Cat asked with a smirk.

"Not very well. They were always kidding me about all my herbal/natural remedies I learned from the different cultures I've studied!" Blair gave a short laugh, remembering some of the kidding/hassling he got over stuff.

Cat backed away from the car a bit, to allow Blair room to get up. She could see the others coming up the road. Jim had been right. There were five of them, not four.

Jim called out to Cat as he saw her standing there, casually leaning against the open door of the car. "Hey, Cat. We got the bad guys, but Sandburg’s managed to get away!"

Simon guffawed. "I'll help you search for him, Jim, if you promise I get to have a few minutes with him...."

Other voices from the Major Crimes detectives chimed in as they wanted to have a few words with Blair as well.

As they got closer, Jim winked at Cat, to let her know he knew Blair was already there. Then she understood why he had insisted on her being allowed to stay. He’d known that she’d have Blair waiting for them when they got back, and hadn’t told her. "Why you dirty little...." she started to mutter under her breath.

With that, Jim started to chuckle. "C’mon out Sandburg, I know you’re there."

Sandburg peeked his head around Cat's shoulder giving a casual wave as he said, "Um...Hi! Guys! Thanks for coming to the rescue." He muttered more quietly so only Jim and Cat could hear him. "Again."

"Sandburg! How the heck did you get here?" yelled Rafe as he brought up one of the criminals.

Brown did a double-take as he looked at Sandburg, then back at the way they had come from.

"Hairboy! What? How?" asked H. bewildered as he gestured at Blair and Cat. Both were standing now beside the car.

"Um, Hi guys. See ya got the guys responsible for the bank heist...." started Blair indicating the five culprits that the officers had between them. "Did you manage to get the loot they had stashed there, too?"

"Joel and deputies are bringing up the rear with the goods." said Rafe.

Simon handed off his perp to one of the county deputies and strode over to Sandburg. He pulled the Observer by the arm out from behind Cat. "Now I've seen everything, Sandburg. You disappear and leave Jim worried, you involve a civilian in this mess, and then you hide behind her for protection!"

"Aw, come on, Simon...." whined Blair as the captain clamped down on his arm harder. "Hey! Watch the arm! It hurts, Man! It hurts!"

"At least she knows how to stay put when she's told. Jim, maybe you should consider another partner," scolded Simon. Cat struggled to keep herself from laughing at Simon's comment, knowing full well she didn't stay put. But then, Jim and Blair also knew that....

The officers of Major Crimes surrounded Blair as Simon still held on to his arm. Cat looked to Jim, wondering if she should be worried about what was about to happen.

"Um, Simon, can we talk about this?....Uh, guys? Can we talk?" Rafe, Joel, and H took a giant step forward. "Jim? Hey! Jim! Help me out here, man!"

Jim shook his head at his partner's pleas. "Uh, uh."

"You put one heck of a scare into us, Blair," said Joel.

"Hairboy," started Brown, "we are so glad to see you're alright!" he continued after slapping Blair soundly on the back.

Rafe seconded his friends. "Yeah, Blair... I'm glad you're safe! Now I can go back to my date that I left back home..."

"Sandburg, one of these days you're going to do something crazy," said Simon, "like go away for a weekend and nothing happens. I'm just not sure my heart would take it."

Cat sighed in relief at that comment and added her own, "You guys make it sound like Blair is always in trouble!"

Five male heads nodded emphatically back at her and each man tried to tell her about an escapade that Blair had gotten involved in. "Fishing..."Peru.... Elevators.... Gunrunning...."

Blair shook his head and looked over at Cat. "It's not as bad as it sounds, Cat! Really, it isn't!"

"Who are you trying to convince, Cat or yourself?" joked Jim.

 "Watch it Jim, maybe he's making a play for your new girlfriend...." joked Brown.

 "Come on, Jim," beseeched Blair, as Brown slapped him on the back again and he winced. "Watch it, H.! That hurt! My back is bruised!"

 "Maybe we should get you to a hospital to get you checked out?" Brown offered as a way of an apology.

 "No way," Blair brushed off the suggestion. "I'm fine. No hospitals...."

 "I think we had better go tell the rest of my camping group that I'm okay," suggested Blair. Rafe, Joel, Henri, and Simon headed back to their respective vehicles, leaving Blair, Jim and Cat behind. The county sheriffs had already departed a few minutes earlier with their arrested suspects.

 As Simon climbed into his car, he called back to the trio, "I want your report on my desk first thing Monday morning, Blair! And make sure you stop and give your statement to the sheriff's office!"

 "I'll make sure of it, Cap!" returned Jim as he waved once to the cars as the doors slammed shut.

Cat slid into the backseat of the Neon, leaving the front for Jim and Blair.

Blair let out a sigh of relief as he relaxed in the passenger side seat. Cat watched the two men as Jim drove the vehicle out of the area, back to the access road. He asked Blair which campground he had been at originally.

Blair was relieved when he found out the campsite wasn't that far away. At least he hadn't gone too far off course.

"I can stay in camp tonight, I don't mind," amended Blair, "if you could bring me back here after my statement to the County Sheriff's Department?"

"Blair, we can do that if you want, but I think we need to talk sometime this weekend," responded Jim.

"Aw, man. What's there to talk about? I walked away from the campgrounds, got lost, and got kidnapped by those guys...."

Jim leaned close to Blair, "I zoned not once, but twice."

Blair quickly looked at his friend and partner. He shot back, "What? How? Where? How long?" He quickly looked from Jim to Cat and swallowed audibly. "Um, does Cat know about, you know..." asked Blair as he casually pointing to his ear.

"I told you, we need to talk. We can go to the sheriff's so you can give your statement. Then we can find somewhere to talk. We can do it out here, or back at the loft. It doesn't matter to me." The detective pushed his friend toward the car. Jim slammed the door on Sandburg, who could hardly contain his questions until they were under way. Jim ambled over to the driver’s side of the car, got in, started the engine, backed the car up and started for the campground. "I asked Cat for help to find you and zoned last night. Cat brought me out of it."

Blair nodded his head slowly. "Okay.... and the other time was when...?" he punctuated his question with hand motions as the car hit a bump in the rough road, making Blair grab onto the dash board.

"That is what we have to talk about. Yesterday morning, after you left," Jim admitted. "Joel and Simon brought me out of that one."

Blair repeated what Jim had said, trying to figure out the implications of the admission. "What time did you go into that zone, and more importantly, what were you doing when you zoned?"

"I don't remember the time, but I zoned listening to your heartbeat."

Blair frowned, confused. "Why were you listening to my heartbeat, Jim?"

Jim shot a quick glance at his Guide, not sure he really wanted to admit the real reason.

"Blair, maybe this should wait. It really is a lot more involved," suggested Cat.

Blair sighed heavily, knowing somehow that this was way more involved than it should be and that Jim probably would not answer until they were back at the loft.

The group that Blair had camped with looked up warily as the strange car approached their campsite. When Blair emerged from the car, all six people who had been sitting around the campfire visibly relaxed. Jim climbed out of the driver's side, then helped Cat out. Blair's friends gathered around him all talking at once. His friends were glad to see him alive and in one piece.

"Guys! Guys!" said Blair loudly and held up his hands, trying to get the others' attention. "I'm fine. I'm fine. I'm just tired. Thanks...." His friends stopped talking and Blair introduced Jim and Cat. Jim recognized a couple of the campers as his college friends.

Blair quickly explained what happened, then gathered up his stuff. Jim put it in the trunk of the car, slammed the lid, and motioned to Blair to hurry it up. Blair waved back to Jim, acknowledging the request, and begged off for the rest of the weekend.

He climbed wearily into the passenger seat again and sighed. "Thanks, Jim, for getting me out of there. Those guys and gals love to talk and I could have been there for hours answering their questions...."

Cat chuckled in the back seat at Blair's obvious relief about the second "rescue". Jim shot Blair a quick look and asked, "And you wanted to spend a whole weekend camping with them? You are a glutton for punishment, Chief."

"Yeah, well," started Blair, sitting up straighter in his seat, "they're a great bunch to hang out with, but I'm not up to any detailed explanations. I just want to give my statement about this whole mess and be done with it! I am *never* going camping again, mark my word...." At Jim's chuckle, Blair amended, "unless my Blessed Protector is with me of course!"

"Blessed Protector???" said Cat.

Blair mumbled a soft, "Oops!"

"Well, go a head a tell her, Chief, how I got that title!" commanded Jim with a chuckle.

"Right, right, sure thing..." started the Observer. Blair was nervous that he had given too much away. "Jim saved my life once and there's an ancient Chinese proverb that says...."

"Wait, let me guess, if you save someone's life you're responsible for it right?" said Cat. "I've heard that before - but I don't remember who it was attributed to."

Blair's mouth dropped open as Cat finished his sentence. "How did you know that's what I was going to say?" Jim laughed softly to himself and checked in the rear view mirror, making eye contact with Cat. She just smiled back at him.

"What can I say, I just remembered it." as she smiled back...

Blair looked at her, opened his mouth to say something, thought better of it, then waved one hand in the air, "Nah, you wouldn't would you?"

"Wouldn't what?" she asked

"Um, be able to read minds? You made it sound like you knew *exactly* what I was going to say...." explained the curious Observer.

"Not that I know of," replied Cat.

Jim laughed as Blair made a face that said, yeah, right, then asked, "But, then, how did you find me in the woods back there, Cat?"

"It goes back to what I said earlier, I just *knew*. I had to follow something that was leading me into the woods," she said as she glared in Jim's direction. 'I'm not going to forget you didn't tell me that's why I was along....' she thought.

"Like what did you know, Cat? I'm really curious how you knew you had to follow something?" pushed Blair.

Cat scrunched her nose up and shot Jim a look in the mirror as well as goosing him under the seat to get his attention. He shot her a quick look back in the mirror and gave a slight shrug in return.

"Blair, you really know how to ask the hard questions don't you? I have no way of explaining it. I just know."

"Well, I *am* still a scientist, first and foremost, and am always curious about the metaphysical world... kinda got into that through my mom."

Jim snorted at his partner's comment and Blair stuck his tongue out at the older man.

"Then ask your mom...." suggested Cat, starting to feel a little exasperated.

"Hold on there, Chief. Let's leave Naomi out of this for now, shall we? We don't need to drag your mom into the middle of this...it will only complicate things."

Blair opened his mouth to ask another question, but Jim beat him to the punch, since the detective was watching his partner out of the corner of his eye. "Sandburg, lets drop it for now. We'll talk about it later, okay? We're all tired and I take it Cat doesn't want to talk about it right now."

She mouthed a silent "Thank you" to Jim and sighed.

Blair threw his hands up, "Okay! It's not like *you* were awake all night, being held a captive, in pain, cold, wet, tired, hungry...."

"No Blair, he was awake most of the night trying to figure out how to help you," said Cat quietly.

"Um, I would like to ask what you meant by that," started Blair, looking at Cat hopefully.

"Later?" she pleaded hoping he'd understand.

"Okay, okay. I get the picture. Turn around and shut up, Sandburg... I'm turning around," and suited action to his words, "I'm shutting up, at least until we get to the Sheriff's office."

Jim grinned in triumph and relief to have gotten Sandburg to drop the subject, but not forgotten.

He shot Blair a quick glance, then caught Cat's eye in the mirror. He smiled at her and said, "Sandburg never shuts up unless he's asleep or sick, Cat, so this should be good! Care to take bets as to how long he remains quiet?"

She smiled in return and shrugged, looked at her watch and replied, "Five minutes, tops...."

"You think he could really hold out *that* long?" Jim kidded "Three," countered Jim. Blair started to open his mouth to say something, shut it, folded his arms across his chest, and "hmmpf'd" at them, hoping that the sound wouldn't count.

As they pulled into the Sheriff's, Blair still hadn't said a word. He was too tired to be very talkative, he was struggling just trying to stay awake.

Jim nudged Blair to alert him that they had reached their destination. "C'mon Chief, time to go inside so we can get this over with."

"Hm? Oh, yeah!" said Sandburg, finally becoming aware of his surroundings. He fumbled with his seatbelt, then slowly climbed out of the car and grimaced from the stiffness he was suffering.

Blair hobbled around the car as Jim watched him. Blair looked up to see a small smile on Jim's face. "What? Can't a man hobble a little?" He took a few more steps as the stiffness worked its way out. "Man, if I feel this stiff, what's it like to feel old?" Jim clapped his partner on the shoulder and Blair pulled back, mumbling an "Ow!"

"Sorry, Junior, but with the way you keep getting into trouble, I'm surprised you're not used to it!"

Blair gave Jim a dirty look and mumbled back, "Too bad I can't dial down the pain, like someone I know can!"

Cat made a mental note as she silently followed them into the Sheriff's office, once they got seated she would do a little more energy work....

Jim led the trio into the Sheriff's office and was directed to his office. They passed the booking area and saw that the 5 criminals were being processed. He heard the perps grumble amongst themselves as Jim and Blair were recognized. He made out one particular comment that made him clench his jaw.

"Too bad we didn't off that hippie freak when we had the chance. His cop friend wouldn't have found us then.... Still trying to figure that one out.... Do you really think he's a super cop?"

Jim glared at the bank robbers and they stopped talking and stared back at the Sentinel. Jim caught up with Blair and Cat as they took seats in the Sheriff's office.

Blair gave his statement to the officer, answered questions to shed some further light on the case, and was asked to wait to sign the statement papers. The Sheriff treated the trio to coffee and snacks as they waited in the break room.

Cat passed on the coffee, opting for water instead. She sat quietly, closing her eyes and concentrated. "This should have them feeling a little better shortly," she thought.

"Tired, Cat?" Jim asked.

Cat, shook her head, and smiled. When she was finished she opened her eyes, and said, "Remember last night? When I was trying to use energy? I just did a little more energy work. Hopefully enough to make us all feel a bit better for the drive back to Cascade."

"I want to learn more about this, but I guess this isn't the time or place, huh, Cat?" Blair asked tentatively.

"No, not really. You mentioned that your mom knows about this kind of thing. Why haven't you explored it with her?"

"My mom's never in town very long to sit down and have a really good talk with her, and frankly, the subject has never come up before," explained Blair. "I know she got into it after she dated an energy healer about 10 years ago. But I never met the guy...."

"I'm only here for another two weeks, so I doubt I can tell you much in that time. Especially since I'm working this week and have plans to head to Seattle next week for a couple of days," explained Cat. "We'll have to see about getting you set up with someone around here who can answer your questions".

"Well, I'd like to learn whatever you have to offer," replied Blair, thinking that whatever he could learn would be helpful since he was still trying to get a handle on the shaman’s responsibilities.

"Have you ever done a web search for energy healing?" asked Cat. "You can learn quite a bit about it, different philosophies, and maybe find some practitioners in the Cascade area."

A few minutes later, a sheriff's deputy brought the statement for Blair to read over and sign. He quickly scanned the document and signed his name with a flourish, then got up to leave. The sheriff thanked them for coming in and showed them the way out.

At the outskirts of Cascade, Jim asked if anyone was hungry. Blair made a snide comment about no Wonder Burgers that garnered him a sharp look from Jim and a small chuckle from the back seat at Blair's comment.

Blair suggested pizza for lunch. Jim wanted to know if they wanted Pizza Hut pizza.

Cat spoke up. "Do you think they'd make a cheese-less pizza? If so, I'm for it."

Jim looked in the mirror at Cat. "A cheese-less pizza? How can you possibly eat pizza without cheese? Gotta have cheese!"

"No, you don't. It's actually quite nice without. I've even made a few converts... A summer of working for a catering firm, doing cheese trays day in and day out sorta made me lose any thoughts of liking it."

They continued their debate as they arrived at the pizza place with Jim insisting that he wanted cheese on his pizza.

Cat looked at the restaurant, and just shook her head with a grin. No matter where you went some things were constant. The red roof and the sign, they were just like back home. Maybe Canada really was the 51st state.

The hostess recognized Jim and Blair as they entered the restaurant. Cat noticed that they were more at ease here, so the recognition didn’t stem from the publicity. Obviously they were at least semi-regulars here. The hostess quickly escorted them to a booth in the darkest part of the restaurant.

They finally compromised with a cheese-less pizza that Blair and Cat would eat and a medium pizza with all the trimmings, extra sausage and pepperoni, for Jim, just in case he didn't like the cheese-less pizza.

"So Cat, what's life like back in Toronto, or do you even spend much time there?" asked Jim with a smile, subtly digging for information on her.

"Busy, normally. I don't live in hotels all the time. I actually have a three bedroom apartment with a good size kitchen and balcony."

"Hey, Jim! The woman has a THREE bedroom apartment...how come you only have a bedroom and a loft!" Blair gestured to Jim with his pizza and Jim just shrugged.

"To keep wayward Anthro…, er, Police Observers from taking over the *whole* place!" Jim answered and smiled to soften the remark.

"I have an office and a spare bedroom which doubles as a library. I do work from home sometimes. I didn't want the office in either the living room or my bedroom. I do need to get away from the computer occasionally."

"What do you do," asked Blair, "live with your computer? You work with it at work AND at home? When do you have fun?"

"I don’t work all the time. It just seems like it sometimes. I do actually have a social life at home. Now my turn to ask a question or two. How did you two meet, end up become partners in the department and end up sharing a place to stay?" Cat asked, curiosity finally getting the better of her.

Blair looked at Jim and nodded to the older man to give the answer. Jim nodded back to Blair.

"No, *YOU* answer it, man," chuckled Blair.

"Uh, uh. Not touching that one with a ten foot pole!" the detective returned, putting his hands up defensively, trying to ward off Blair.

Cat looked on in bewilderment, wondering what was up.

"Well, *someone* had better tell me, or I'll think the worst of you both!"

"Ummmmm...." stalled Blair.

"Need to know, huh?" Cat questioned.

"Yes," stated Jim.

"No," volleyed Blair with a smirk, daring Jim to be the one to enlighten Cat.

Cat started to chuckle with that exchange. "Forget I asked. It's not worth it."

"Come on, man, you can tell her. Cat's trustworthy." The younger man quickly turned to Cat with a smile, "You *are* trustworthy, aren't you?"

"Sandburg...." warned Ellison, holding his glass of water up to his partner and threatening to dump it on him.

"Jim!" cried Blair, quickly sitting back as far as he could and making ready to jump out of the booth if Jim followed through on his threat.

Cat rolled her eyes at their antics then kidded. "I haven't revealed any company secrets lately...."

Jim sighed and relented, knowing Sandburg wouldn't leave it alone. Not for a minute. "Alright, Sandburg. I'd better tell her before you embellish the story, and we're here until after midnight!"

Sandburg put on a hurt face , raised his eyebrows as far as they would go, and pointed to himself. "Me? Embellish a story? I'm hurt, Jim, really, really hurt by that!"

"That could be an interesting embellishment - 12 hours worth. Might be worth the hearing," said Cat checking her watch.

"Ah, here comes the pizza now, folks. Saved by the pizza!" declared Jim, dramatically rubbing his hands together as he watched the waiter bring the pizzas.

"You'll use any excuse to get out of telling me something, won't you?" Cat said to Jim.

‘Me?" asked Jim. He copied Blair’s hurt expression, which made both Cat and Blair laugh. They dished up the pizza and both men tasted the cheese-less one.

"Okay, how about some more information about you?" asked Jim. "Ever been married?"

"Excuse me? Care to warn a person before you make a left turn like that again in a conversation? Since you're the one who had to run a background check on me the last time I was in Cascade, I think you already know that answer. Maybe you should be answering that question for me," Cat shot back.

Blair laughed. "Sounds like a touchy subject, there, Jim! Be careful, or the claws are gonna come out!"

Jim raised an eyebrow in Cat's direction, daring her to answer him.

"Two can play the avoid answering the questions game," she answered with a defiant gleam in her eyes.

"Quick, Jim! She's quick! Razor sharp tongue, too!" smirked Blair at his roommate.

Jim shook his head at Blair. "Very funny, Chief, very funny...." Jim sighed. "Okay, I was married, once, to a wonderful lady, but it just didn't work out. In fact she was the forensics chief at work."

"Me? I've never been married. Not even close to it!" declared Blair with a rueful smile. "Now, your turn!" he said as he pointed to Cat.

"Never been married, came close but escaped in the nick of time."

"Okay..." started Blair, attempting to be the facilitator. "Now, see, that wasn't so hard, was it? Why do I get the feeling that I'm a lawyer here, and you're talking divorce already?"

"Keep talking like that, and I'll run in the opposite direction," replied Cat.

"The lady doth protest too much?" asked Jim quietly, as he bit into his piece of pizza and concentrated on Cat’s response. Her heart rate had risen, as well as the color in her face.

"Considering my last relationship, I don't think so," she said quietly as she stared at her hands, trying to figure out someway to change the topic.

"Want to talk about it?" offered Jim seriously.

"What's to say? He found out about the Kalan case, my part in it and walked. I haven't heard from him since," Cat offered, trying to sound more blasť than she felt.

"Oh, geez, Cat," replied Blair quickly, feeling bad for her. "I'm really sorry to hear that."

"It wasn't exactly the high point in my life," she commented. "But to be honest, it wasn't the lowest either. Just the most recent."

They finished their pizza on safer topics - mostly about Blair's teaching and some of his expeditions with school before he had met Jim. The two men had silently agreed to avoid that subject until later, without unwelcomed ears around. They could never be too sure who was in the restaurant with them and they didn't want anyone overhearing anything that could bring more publicity down on them.

Jim was glad to see that Cat had relaxed again and noted that her heart rate and color had gone back to normal. He wondered about her reaction to his personal questions.

Blair had Cat and Jim laughing at some of his funnier exploits on a couple of trips as they made their way out to the car and headed back to Cascade.

A short time later, Jim pulled up next to his truck at the loft. He turned the engine off, got out of the car and helped Cat out. Blair stopped behind the trunk, waiting for Jim to open it up so he could get his gear out. Cat stood observing the neighborhood while waiting for the others. Jim had to call her name a second time and touch her arm to get her attention. She startled and focused on Jim.

"Sorry, I must be more tired than I realized." she offered.

"Come on, then, Cat. Let's go in and you can take a rest, if you'd like," offered Jim as he pointed the way to the entrance to the building.

Jim stacked another piece of gear on top of Blair's stuff and his roommate grumbled. "I thought you were going to help here, Jim?"

"Sandburg, when you left yesterday morning, you handled everything yourself. How come you can't do it now?" asked Jim, a little exasperated. "If you ask me, it looks like you have more stuff coming back than you went with."

"Is there something I can help carry?"

"No, no," came the muffled reply as Blair tried to stop some of his gear from tumbling off the top by holding it with his chin. He was unsuccessful and tried to grab it, losing everything he had in his arms. He mumbled an expletive and Jim told him to watch his language.

Cat chuckled, and stooped to help pick up the fallen objects. "Now tell me again you don't need help."

Blair sighed and chuckled. "Okay, you win, Cat. Sorry about swearing."

"Blair, trust me, I've heard much worse." Then thinking to herself ,"I’ve even said it..."

"Okay, you two... can we go inside now?" asked Jim, holding the door open.

Jim led them into the loft and Blair started to drop his gear by the door. He immediately stopped when he saw the stern look from Jim.

As she followed them into the loft, Cat asked, "Where would you like these things put?"

Jim pointed to towards Blair's room. "In Sandburg's room. Just dump them on his bed, cause I know he will anyway."

Cat looked inquiringly at Blair, who shrugged his shoulders and led the way.

She looked around with interest as she entered Blair's room. "Hmm, eclectic, like the rest of the apartment."

"Well, mostly it's anthropology stuff I've collected during my study travels," explained Blair with a grin. He forgot what a mess his room was when he had left the day before.

'I know you've got to be just as tired as Jim and I are, did you want this put somewhere other than on the bed? Like in the corner or something," Cat offered.

"Um, yeah," Blair replied, as he was bending over to drop his stuff on the bed, stood straight, then moved the few steps it took him to reach the corner where he proceeded to dump his stuff with a satisfied grunt.

Cat followed suit, and turned to leave the room.

Blair raised his voice a little, for effect, and said, "Thanks a lot for your help, Cat. I really appreciate it." Jim walked in on the last sentence and scowled at Blair as the older man shoved a few items into Blair's hands and turned around and left.

"Don't thank me, thank Jim. Though, I'm sure you'll understand better, why I say that, later..."

"Um, thanks, Jim, I think?" Blair grinned at Cat and winked as he hurried after his roommate.

Jim was in the kitchen where Blair and Cat joined him. He was putting the leftover pizza in the fridge and grabbed three beers. He offered one to Blair who took the bottle with a smile and a sigh. Jim offered one to Cat. She declined the offer of beer. "Wine?" asked Jim. She shook her head no.

"I think I could go for just a mug of hot water. Sounds weird I know..."

Jim nodded his head and filled the teakettle with water. He put it on the stove to boil. Blair turned around and reached into the cabinet and named off the kinds of herbal teas he had.

"Chamomile, black raspberry, valerian, ginger...."

"Thanks Blair, but no. Not really in the mood for herbal teas."

Blair shrugged. "Suit yourself, but why just hot water?"

"It just feels good going down. I find it relaxing," said Cat.

"Cool, I can deal with that." Jim just rolled his eyes at his roommate and smiled at Cat. He motioned for her to have a seat in the living room.

Cat curled up in a corner of the couch and tried to hide a huge yawn.

Blair followed her while Jim waited for the water to heat. He brought her mug as soon as it was ready and joined them. Jim handed her the hot mug and cautioned her about the temperature.

"Thanks," she responded and gratefully took it, then cradled the hot mug in her hands as Jim sat next to her on the couch. Blair had taken the love seat opposite them. "No problem. I've got friends that kid me that I have asbestos hands," she replied with a grin.

Blair raised his eyebrows at her comment and looked at Jim with a question in his eyes. Jim shook his head imperceptibly in response.

"It comes from the time I worked at the caterer's, you have no idea how many times I had to handle hot plates or had hot coffee spill over my hands. After a while, I could take it without much trouble."

"Ouch!" commented Blair in sympathy.

Jim grinned evilly back at Blair and quipped, "Some of us don't have such tender hands as you, Junior!"

"Just 'cause I can't stand the cold, Jim..."

Cat closed her eyes, and sighed.

When she didn't move after a few minutes, Jim took her half-full mug and set it down on the table.

"Maybe you should get some rest. We were up early this morning," he said softly as he helped her to stand up.

"I'm fine here. Just let me have the corner of the couch and..."

"No, you can have my bed. It's more comfortable. I can manage on the couch," he said as he gently put his arm around her shoulder to steer her to the stairway and to keep her upright.

Blair watched his roommate help Cat and was curious as to the deference he was showing towards her. He stifled a yawn while watching the two ascend the stairs. "I think I could go for a nap myself. I'll see you two later," Blair called out.

Cat sat down on the side of the bed, slipped her shoes off. She lay down on the bed and didn't even realize when her head hit the pillow since she was already fast asleep.

Blair stood up to go to his room and saw Jim covering Cat with the comforter. He was intrigued by the look of tenderness on Jim's face.

'Something's up,' Blair thought to himself. He was still staring at Jim when Jim looked up and noticed his roommate watching him. Blair ducked down the hall to his room, as he heard Jim come down the stairs to the living room.

Jim lay on the couch, curled on his side, one arm under his head, watching the sky outside. He listened to the even breathing of the woman upstairs and enjoyed knowing that she was in his apartment, so near.

He keyed in on her heartbeat, feeling strange to be listening for hers and not for Blair's familiar heartbeat. It had a different beat to it from Blair's he noticed, distinctive in it's own right.

He caught himself as he started to zone, and jerked back to the present. He made a mental effort not to zone on the sound, and put it into a compartment of his mind to listen to on a subconscious level, similar to how he listened to Blair's when he slept. He drifted off to sleep with twin heartbeats pounding a cadence in his subconscious. He slept deeply which he didn't normally do during the day.

Later that day, Jim was just stirring when he became aware of the sound of two heartbeats in the loft. At first he was a little confused, trying to identify the second heartbeat. He breathed deeply, trying to place the other heartbeat, and was rewarded with the slight scent of Cat's perfume, which jogged his memory that she was upstairs, sleeping in his bed. He stretched and wished he was up there with her. He frowned at the unbidden thought and pushed it aside. He didn't know where that had come from.

He sat up, and quietly picked up the newspaper to read. He was just getting to the last page of the sports section when Blair stumbled out of his room.

Blair called Jim's name and was immediately "shushed". Blair frowned, then his face brightened as his mind made the connection of Jim pointing up to his room. "Oh, yeah! Right!" whispered the sleepy Observer. "I take it Cat's still asleep?"

The younger man grabbed the sports section from Jim's hands and went to sit on the love seat to read. They read companionably for about a half an hour before Blair put the sports section down and quietly asked Jim if he wanted coffee. Jim nodded his agreement and continued to read the newspaper. Blair mumbled something and Jim glared back at the younger man. Blair pushed himself off the couch with a sigh and headed for the kitchen. He quietly got the coffee maker going, took out two cups, then went back out to the living room to grab another section of the paper. He took the paper back to the kitchen table and sat. When the coffee was done he poured two cups and called Jim to the table.

Blair and Jim sat at the table and talked quietly over their coffee. Both felt better for their rest. Jim looked up, and grinned. "I think Cat's about to join us."

Jim got up and took another mug out of the cupboard and readied for the coffee he knew she'd want.

A couple of minutes later, Cat joined Blair at the table, as Jim offered her a cup of coffee which she accepted.

"So, how long have you two been awake?" Cat asked as she cradled the mug and inhaled the aroma deeply.

"A while," said Blair, "We've been talking about what happened yesterday, though Jim hasn't said much about what happened last night."

Cat looked at Jim over the mug with raised eyebrows. "Why? There wasn't much that went on."

"There were just some things I figured we should wait until you were awake to discuss," said Jim.

"Oh. Like what, the exercises?" Cat started.

"What exercises?" asked Blair.

Cat briefly explained the exercises she had talked to Jim about last night. Explaining that they had tried the puzzle variation.

"They sound simple enough. And you say that now, when a situation like this comes up, you can 'run it in the background'?"

Cat nodded, "It's like working around the house with the radio or television on as a background noise. You're aware it's there, but you don’t have to pay attention to it, until the dream or vision comes into focus. As I've already told Jim, I'd offer to help you both learn how to do it. With enough practice, you can do it too."

"But I don't have visions," countered Blair.

"You don't have to have visions to use these exercises. Try to remember your dreams in the morning. If you can't, try one of the exercises. If it helps, keep a journal of your progress."

Jim spoke up then, "But it didn't work right away for me."

"No, that's because you were fighting it. That's why I insisted you stay over last night after we tried using the puzzle a second time. Your conscious mind was fighting it. But in sleep, you'd remember. And you did."

"How did you know that would happen?" asked Blair.

"Something I learned in my teens. I was at odds with this ‘little gift’," she said sarcastically, making a face at the memory. "I'd had a couple of nasty lessons about respecting it and using it wisely. That coupled with the attitude of others around me, with the exception of my family.... Well, I tried to fight it myself. It wouldn't stop, and kept coming to me through my dreams."

Blair gave Jim a knowing look that said, "I told you so."

Jim ignored the look and said, "When everything fell into place for me, Cat helped me figure out what I hadn't already." Jim laughed. "Chief, she reminded me an awful lot of you with all the questions.

Sandburg smiled at that and gave Cat a brief salute. "See, I I'm not the only one to have so many questions…. The lady knows something... listen to her... since you won't listen to me!"

"The good news, at least in some respects is, he received confirmation twice of what was going on. The first confirmation was a call from your friends alerting him to your disappearance. The second..." Cat started to giggle "I wish you could have seen the look on his face."

"What?" Blair’s curiosity had been peaked.

"Cat!" warned Jim.

This only made Cat laugh harder. "It was priceless, the perplexed look. That particular type of confirmation is like a tingle," she explained. "We were talking and I noticed a little shiver followed by *that* look. And I knew that he'd hit paydirt. It was just a matter of figuring out what part of the sentence he'd just spoken was the confirmation. In a minute or so, we knew that the reason you were being held was because they recognized you for your recent publicity."

"Soo," started Blair motioning with his hands for Jim to contribute. "You are finally keying into you're visions, eh, man? About time!"

"Jim, why don't you describe what you saw, how you found the way to the cabin?"

"I can't wait to hear the Great Ellison finally telling me about his visions, *willingly*."

Jim gave Cat a dirty look. "I'm not so sure willing is the word I'd use. The word duress comes to mind."

"C'mon Jim. Fess up. Tell Blair about what you actually saw in the vision...." Cat cajoled. Then to Blair, "Don't mind me, the other nickname my family has for me is 'shit disturber'..."

"Excuse me?" asked Blair of Cat, with a chuckle. He couldn't believe this was coming from Cat. She just started to laugh again. Her laugh was infectious and made the two friends laugh. They laughed, pointing at each other, then at Cat. They slowly wound down from their laughter, holding their sides from the ache caused by the overuse of their abdominal muscles.

"Oh, God, I needed that," gasped Blair with a huge smile.

"Glad I could be of service," replied Cat with a grin, wiping tears from her eyes.

"Where were we?" asked Blair. "Oh, yeah! Hey, Jim, you were going to tell me what you actually saw in the vision...?"

Jim let out a long-suffering sigh as he nodded his head. "All right. I'll tell you about it."

Blair rubbed his hands briskly and jumped up from the couch. "Hold on a minute, Jim, I need more coffee. Cat? Jim? And a notebook!" He bounded to the kitchen and grabbed the pot, bringing it back to give the other two more coffee. He returned the pot, grabbed a notebook out of his room, then sat back on the couch and brought his legs up to sit cross-legged, pen poised meaningfully, ready for Jim's tale.

Jim went on to explain about the vision, from Blair being lost in the woods to seeing himself walk down the dirt road to the main road in the area. Cat smiled as she listened. The detail and clarity of the vision surprised Blair. The guide made copious notes for studying later.

When Jim was done, Blair turned to Cat, "Is this what it's like for you? Can you do this, too?"

"Similar, but not exactly the same."

Blair looked from Jim to Cat amazed that Jim finally opened up to recognizing his visions for what they were and for calling on Cat for her help. At least Blair was alive to hear the tale, and not in some morgue wearing a toe tag.

"Cat, I can't thank you enough for helping Jim with this. I don't even want to think about the alternative, if you two hadn't found me." He shivered at the prospect he had imagined.

"Let's not think about that prospect," said Cat

"Right," agreed Blair. "So, Jim, you said you zoned on Cat last night. When was that?"

Jim looked at Cat, exchanged worried glances, not sure if he wanted to answer Blair's question, but knew that if he didn't, Blair would badger him until he did.

"Blair, it was during the first try on the puzzle exercise," Cat started. "I'd seen something similar before and used the same method to help Jim out of it. It was a little alarming at first, but I managed."

"Not many people have been exposed to Jim in a zone out, or managed to get him out of it. You were lucky, Cat. How long did you work at getting him out of the zone?" inquired Blair, intrigued

"I don't know, maybe about 15, possibly 20 minutes...." she guessed as she allowed adequate time for her little discussion with her guides and then the time used to compose the suggestions she made.

"Sheesh. You were zoned but good, Jim," replied Blair, shaking his head.

'I think the problem was, I had him focusing on the image that was clearest, and from what Jim has explained about zoning, he took me a little too literally...."

"And? What was that image that caused him to zone? Usually he zones on something else..."

Blair got up to pace the room, stopping to beseech his friend to reveal his secret.

"Cat, exactly how much do you know, about my talents, as you put it?" asked Jim.

Cat thought for a moment. "Well, so far, I know your hearing is above normal. You're having visions. And I suspect your eyesight is better than normal too, especially night vision...."

Jim nodded his head slowly, "Yes...."

Cat looked at Jim, considering the unspoken message. "There's more I take it?" she asked. He nodded. "I suppose this has to do with being a, what was it my guides called it? A sentinel?"

Blair looked shocked that her guides had given that particular name. He was even more surprised that there was no reaction from Jim at this information.

"Guides? You have guides? What kind of guides?" Blair said rapidly as he came to sit on the couch next to here.

"Girl Guides," she tossed out facetiously, rolling her eyes.

Blair did a double take, then chuckled. "You had me going there for a minute, Cat. Girl Guides! That's a good one! So, Cat, are you going to answer me?" asked Blair as he leaned towards her a little.

"She's got a mountain lion..." offered Jim.

Cat's eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open. "When did you see her?"

"A mountain lion?" his partner asked incredulously. "You saw her?"

"I think it's appropriate someone who's nickname is Cat has a cat spirit guide," chuckled Jim.

"Just be thankful she didn't bring the black bear, too," quipped Cat.

"Yeah, but that doesn't explain how or when you saw Cat's spirit guide!" countered Blair, as he tried to draw out Jim. This was getting interesting with Jim admitting to his visions, and now being able to see other’s spirit guides.

"Actually, they're part of an animal council, not my spirit guides per se."

"Um..." started Blair, watching Cat intently, "you have a council of animals? Just how many animals are we talking here?" He gestured with his hands as he spoke, trying to convey more meaning into his question.

"Each animal represents an aspect of yourself or something you need to learn. There are as many as you may need. They just wait on the sidelines to be called into action."

"Okay...and just what aspects are you talking about here? The earth, wind, and fire aspects, or the parent and child aspects...."

Jim just sat back in his chair, sipping at his coffee, watching Blair and Cat.

"None of those. They can range from the sublime to the ridiculous. An ant has the strength to carry 10 times it's weight, if you had an ant as a "spirit" animal, it could symbolize strength or determination. A black bear represents intuition in native mythology, but could also represent power of sorts. A fox is known for it’s cunning."

"So, are you trying to say that you have an ant, a black bear, fox, and the cougar as part of your animal council? Why do I get the feeling there are more on your council?"

"Not necessarily, those are examples. Do you really want to crowd the room? There are about seven or eight of them total. But most of them only show up when necessary."

"Does your animal council show up as you name them?" asked Blair, looking around the room, trying to see if the animal council was visible to him. He looked over at Jim who was looking over toward the balcony doors.

Jim saw his jaguar was laying next to the cougar.

"No, I'd have to do more than that. It's more like I call on them and tell them what I need them to do. It’s not something to do lightly. So I'm not about to ask them to come for a visit. Sometimes though, they just show up to let me know they’re there waiting for me to call on them."

Cat followed Blair’s gaze, and saw Jim looking towards the balcony. There she saw the two cats lying next to one another enjoying the afternoon sun.

"Uh, how long has *she* been there?"

"Pretty much since you arrived. She’s behaved herself," replied Jim with grin. Blair strained to see the big cat, but couldn’t, while Cat just shook her head in disbelief.

"Blair," said Cat, turning back to him, "your spirit animal is a wolf, isn’t it?"

The surprised look on his face told her he hadn’t been expecting this turn of events. "I think you should do some research on the name Shawnodese. I think you’ll find it very appropriate for your part in all of this. It comes from native legends to do with the South West portion of the medicine wheel. Look up the name with relation to wolves, and don’t get sidetracked by the trickster or coyote myths. Look especially for the term pathfinder."

Blair looked at Cat, a little perplexed with the mention of Southwestern Native American mythology. She kept surprising him with her knowledge. He was beginning to wonder if she was an anthropologist in disguise. He had heard of Shawnodese, but hadn’t ever really done much research on it. He told her as much and tried to draw her out on the subject.

"Blair, I've lived my entire life with this little gift and basically, I've had to do a lot of research about it to get the understanding I have. This kind of thing is a personal journey and no one can give you a definitive answer. I can tell you how I do it, but that doesn't by any stretch of the imagination mean it will work for either of you, but it is a starting point. That's one of the reasons you have to do the research yourself. I can't give you all the answers. How can I, when I don't even have them all? I know what I know, but even then, it doesn't always work on cue."

He shook his head and gave her lopsided grin, having been caught, just like one of his students.

Jim and Cat laughed at Blair's expression and he grinned in response. "Okay, okay. I get the message, Teach!"

He turned toward his Sentinel. "And you be quiet, Big Guy! I don't need your input on this one, either! I guess I'd better do some research tonight, then, huh? It might help me finish my little meditative jaunt that got interrupted so rudely yesterday."

"Speaking of research," started Cat. "You never did finish your answer about your abilities Jim."

Ellison looked at Cat and gave her a little smile. He had let Blair take them off topic on purpose, "I didn’t?" he asked, teasing.

She shook her head and wagged her finger at him. "No, you didn’t. You started to tell me when we got back here. Then this one," she hooked her thumb in Blair’s direction, "went off on a tangent about guides."

The younger man ducked his head and looked at her through his hair hanging down, a sheepish grin on his face.

"I know enough, that unless I ‘remind’ you, you’ll conveniently forget. Now, what did my guides mean by saying you're a sentinel?" She looked directly at Jim, her gaze never wavering from his as he stared back at her.

He heaved a sigh, licked his lips, took a sip of coffee, set his cup down, and sighed again. He realized that he wasn’t going to be able to put her off track again since she was beginning to drum her fingers on the table. He finally gave up stalling and plunged right in.

"You know I have heightened eyesight and hearing. Well, I have all five senses heightened."

"How heightened?" she asked, interested.

Blair jumped in and explained. "Jim’s like a walking crime lab. He can smell individual ingredients in a recipe and taste them too. Sense of touch is way out there. He can feel things you and I can’t even imagine to feel."

She raised her left eyebrow at Jim who just shrugged. "Is this something that just happened or have you always had heightened senses?"

"I’ve always had them," he admitted. It was clear to Cat that Jim was still having a hard time with accepting his difference. "Blair says it’s a genetic trait. Sentinels were his doctoral thesis and he found me when my senses became active about 4 years ago. I was sure something was wrong with me because I’d just suddenly lost control of them. He helped me regain control of my senses, and even fine tune my control. That’s why he’s an… was an official police observer. It was the only way that Captain Banks could figure out how to get him partnered with me."

"Okay. I had guessed that Blair helps you with this. But how?" she asked. For once Blair remained silent and let Jim do the explaining.

"Blair had the knowledge of Sentinels. Hell, I didn’t even know there were such things until he told me," continued Jim, scrubbing his face in remembered frustration when his senses had first come back on line. "Blair is usually the only who can get me out of a zone out, when I focus too much on one sense. He wanted to study my senses, and me, for his dissertation, and in the process became more than a tag-along. He became my best friend and partner at the PD. His cover story for the PD was a dissertation on the Thin Blue Line of Closed Police Societies."

Blair jumped up and started pacing as he took the story over. "Nine years ago, Jim was stranded in Peru when his military helicopter crashed. He was the only survivor of his team. The Chopec Indians, a local Peruvian Tribe, befriended Jim and he lived with them for eighteen months. The head shaman, Incacha, took Jim under his wing since he, I mean, Incacha, recognized Jim for what he was. A sentinel. Sentinels always have someone to watch their back, in case they zone out. Their watcher is called a guide. Incacha was Jim’s guide when he was in Peru then I became his guide when I met him four years ago."

Cat drank her coffee as she listened to Blair, fascinated by the whole thing. "So, you knew about sentinels and guides from your research? And from having studied ancient cultures, you understood the role of a guide?

"More of a guide in training. And when Incacha died, he passed the way of the shaman on to me." Cat saw a pained expression flit over Jim’s face at the mention of Incacha being dead.

"Jim also has a heightened sixth sense which has come into play several times. It’s just been difficult to get him to accept his other gift along with the heightened senses." Blair shot an accusatory look at Jim who raised an eyebrow back at his friend.

"Um, Cat?" asked Jim. She looked at him expectantly. "Only a few people know about my abilities. Simon, Captain Banks is aware, of course, and my father. I guess I repressed my senses when I was younger because my father always said I’d be considered a freak if people knew what I could do."

With a grin, "That’s okay. I don’t know nuthin, no how, no way," she reassured them both. Jim and Blair sighed in relief.

Jim checked the time on the clock and realized that it was after 5 o'clock. No wonder his stomach was beginning to growl. He looked over toward the patio and saw his jaguar lift its head and growl in response to the Sentinel's stomach noise. "Well, gang, I don't know about you, but I'm getting a little hungry here. How about some dinner?"

Cat looked at Jim with a slight smile. "I am, a little," she replied. "Blair?" she asked of the Observer.

He was already up off the couch and grabbing out his laptop and strarting it up. "Huh?" he asked.

"I said, are you hungry?" repeated Cat.

"Uh, no, not really. You two going out for supper?"

Cat looked at Jim for confirmation and he shrugged his shoulders.

"Maybe we should vacate the premises to let him do some research in peace?" suggested Cat.

Jim got up and clapped his partner on the shoulder as he headed toward the door. "Have fun with your research, Sandburg. Don't stay up too late. I don't know what time I'll be back."

Blair looked up at Jim quickly. He nodded his head and said quietly, "Uh, right. Gotcha, Jim." He raised his voice and hand to Cat. "Have a good dinner, you two. Night Cat! And thanks for your help this morning and this afternoon."

"No problem. Night Blair," Cat replied with a grin as they strolled out the door together.

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