Home > Graywulf > Bad Penny Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Bad Penny

by & Stargazer

"Ellison, I'd like to see you in my office." said Simon.

"Yes, sir," replied Jim. He knew what was coming. Now he just needed to dance his way out of this. After what had happened that morning, he knew damn well that Simon was going to suggest that Jim spend the weekend at his place.

Jim entered, closing the door behind him and stood at parade rest, back ramrod straight with his hands clasped behind his back.

"Jim," Simon started, watching his friend closely and waved him to take a seat. Jim declined with a shake of his head.

"Simon," Jim interrupted. "I know what you're going to say. I'm fine. I'll be fine this weekend, and I don't need to be babysat." Jim didn't know who to be more annoyed at, himself for not being able to understand why he felt the way he did about this situation, or Simon for not trusting his judgment.

"Jim, just consider me a concerned friend, not your Captain. I've never seen you zone like that before. Mind you, Sandburg was always there to get you out of it. With him away for the weekend, I feel I have a right to be concerned. I don't think you should be alone this weekend."

"As a matter of fact, I just found out I have a friend who's just arrived from out of town. We're getting together tonight, and possibly we'll be making other plans for the weekend as well. I was just about to ask Joel if I could catch a lift."

Simon looked at Jim, trying to decide if his friend's evasiveness was just because he was trying to squirm his way out of this. Simon shook his head and sighed.

"Simon, I'll tell you what. If things fall through, you'll be the first person I call, okay?" Jim offered. "Maybe we can watch a ballgame tomorrow or Sunday."

Simon nodded and with that Jim left his office. The captain watched Jim amble out into the bullpen and watched the detective's progress as he made his way to Joel Taggart's desk.

"Hey Joel, when are you leaving tonight?" Jim asked. Taggart stopped pecking at the computer keyboard and looked up at Ellison with a smile.

"Shortly. Would you care to join us for dinner tonight? I know Mable would love to have you over for dinner. You know her, she always makes more than enough for two people!"

"Sorry Joel, no can do," replied Ellison with a shake of his head. "I've just found out I've got an out of town friend coming in and we're getting together tonight. Any chance I can get a lift?"

"You know I've been appointed the DD, so sure. Where to?"

"The Sheraton Suites in about a half hour, if that's not rushing you."

"That should be fine. Give me 10 minutes to finish what I'm doing here," replied Joel, pointing to the computer screen, "and we can leave."

Joel was as good as his word. Ten minutes later they left the bullpen behind them.

Joel was quiet on the trip to the hotel. But, he kept stealing glances at Jim, trying to gauge the younger man who seemed to be on edge.

"So is this an old friend? Someone from school or the military?"

Jim's jaw twitched before he answered. "Neither."

A stony silence settled between them. "What did I say?" thought Joel, wondering why Jim was acting like he used to before Sandburg came along. "Geez, if Sandburg goes away in the future, I think I'll make sure I take some vacation time and avoid scenes like this!"

Joel took a deep breath and decided to try to diffuse the tensions that were coming from Ellison. He figured the best way was to pull over and "force" the issue. Ellison gave Joel a sharp look at the sudden change in their forward movement.

"Joel? Why are you stopping?"

"Jim - if I didn't know better, you're either playing secret agent going on a mission for the weekend, in which case we're in big trouble, or it's a lady."

"All the above and none of the above, Joel, so quit trolling for information," responded Jim curtly.

"Jim, come on man, you're not usually like this. If there's a problem between you and Blair, let me help.

You know you can trust me, Jim."

"There isn't a problem between Blair and I. I'm fine. Can we just drop this subject?"

Joel turned in the seat to look Jim squarely in the eye. "Come on, Jim. I know you don't think so, but after this morning and being in a zone for so long.... I'm in complete agreement with Simon on this one. *Someone* has got to watch your back for you this weekend. With no Blair around to watch it for you...."

"It won't happen again. Not this weekend. There's no reason to believe it will. It only happens every once and a while."

Joel shrugged his shoulders, giving up on this line of discussion.

"Okay, Jim. Have it your way, then. * But, * if you need either one of us, you know how to get a hold of us, right?" Jim just gave Joel a suffering look in return. "Okay, okay. I know. Quit the babysitting. I just had to offer and make it clear, Jim. Isn't that what friends are for?"

"Joel, don't get me wrong." Ellison gestured with his hands, reminiscent of Sandburg. "I appreciate that both you and Simon are concerned and want to help. I just don't need it. I'm okay."

Joel shrugged, turned back, signaled his intent to re-enter traffic and pulled out. "Jim, whatever it is, all of Major Crimes is here for you *and* Blair, got it?"


As Joel pulled up to the entryway of the hotel, he stopped Jim from getting out by putting his hand on the younger man's left arm. "Jim..." Ellison stopped from getting out and looked over at Taggart. "Jim...I just hope you have a nice time with your mysterious lady friend. I hope I get to meet her. Just don't take your worry out on her, okay? Push it to the back of your mind and just concentrate on the moment at hand...otherwise, you may find yourself taking a cab home tonight!"

Jim raised his eyebrows in acknowledgement and sent Joel a little self-deprecating smile. "Gotcha Joel, and thanks again for the concern."

Joel craned his neck trying to watch Jim until he got out of eyesight before pulling away from the entrance. Joel muttered to himself, "Well, little lady, whoever you are, good luck. I hope you can tame the bear that Ellison is today!" He chuckled at the image this brought to mind as he pulled out into the evening rush hour traffic. "And heaven forbid if he zones on his lady tonight! Maybe he should wear an emergency medical bracelet saying: If unresponsive call Blair Sandburg or Simon Banks!"

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 then to Seattle Friday evening for a Mariner's game - a team celebration for a successful product launch."

"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 a week today, 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 to Seattle and sightsee. 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?"

"Possibly yes to both questions," he replied with a grin. "You remind me of Sandburg.... You never let 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. Anyone 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 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. He's supposed to start the weapons training on Monday."

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. That and 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 in Peru when the helicopter I was in crashed.... everyone died except me."

"You were in Peru? How long were you there for?"

"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 and commented, "A fan of ‘Peanuts’?" as he recognized 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. You do realize that Steve's going to be heartbroken." 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."

"Tell me you haven't told Steve I'm in town already…. " Cat pleaded, this wasn't something she had expected.

"Oh, he already knows you're in town and wasn't saying anything. He spoke to Mike a few of hours ago." Joyce explained, feeling slightly miffed that she was being left out of the loop.

"I've got to go now Joyce," replied Cat, feeling slightly uncomfortable at the turn the conversation had taken. "I’ll touch base with you on Sunday, we can make plans for the remainder of my visit."

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

Cat concluded the call, tuning off the cell phone and putting it in her purse. She returned to her attention to her meal. They continued eating in an awkward silence until Cat met Jim’s gaze.

"I'm sorry for interrupting your weekend plans. Maybe I should try to work this out…" Jim started.

"No. Please don't feel that way. I can appreciate just how much this must be bothering you. Enough you'd turn to me for help. I want to help you. I like Blair, and if I can help you, I'm helping him too." Cat paused before going on.

"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?" 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, finally 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 I call 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 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."

"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 how do I get him out of this?" she demanded of her guides. Her demand was met with stony 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.

She sat for a moment and offered silent thanks for their help. 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.’


"Six." 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!


"Nine." ‘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."

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