Disclaimer: Pet Fly and Paramount own 'em but should
they ever decide to get rid of them - I'll gladly adopt....
Summary: Blair suspects
he's being stalked.
"You know, this isnt
so bad," Blair said around a mouthful of hot pizza. "Theres a
certain charm being at Pizza Hut so late."
referring to the deadly looks the employees are giving us, or the lack of heat?"
Jim replied sarcastically, taking a bite of his own slice.
thought cold didnt bother you," Sandburg retorted, wiping his mouth.
doesnt, but your whining about it does."
whine, I state," Sandburg replied indignantly.
there was a comfortable silence as they finished consuming their order, much to
the relief of the staff. On their way to pay, however, Blair broke the quiet.
know, that makes me think of a couple tests we could try, w-" Jim groaned.
Sandburg, weve just returned from a long, hard day and I dont want
to even *think* about work, and that includes tests, all right?"
man," Blair held up his hands in surrender. "I wont bring it up
till tomorrow." By now they were in the parking lot heading for the truck.
Blair felt that all-too familiar feeling pricking between his shoulder blades.
He looked over his shoulder, but saw nothing. He spun around in a circle, and
"Taking ballet, Chief?" Jim teased.
har. Do you feel anything?"
"Like what?" They
reached the truck and Jim pulled out his keys.
"I have this
feeling that Im being watched. I got it when Lash followed me home."
That made Jim pause in his action of unlocking the door and have his own look
around. Only his was more complete and in-depth. After a moment he turned back
to his partner.
"Sorry Chief, I dont see anything
unusual." Blair shrugged, the feeling not departing.
my imagination. Lets go."
woke up grumpy. He had slept lightly and with his senses turned up, keeping an
extra eye out in case Sandburgs feeling from earlier was right. Not
*that* much earlier, he grumbled to himself, rolling out of bed. By the
time they had gotten back to the loft, cleaned up and settled down, it was past
midnight. Plus, Jim kept being wakened by small things that usually wouldnt
bother him when his dials were normal. Grumpy, oh yes. He stumbled down the steps,
shooting a deadly look at Sandburg, who was cooking eggs and hashbrowns and looking
traitorously awake. The next thing he was really aware of was cold water in his
face. Shivering, he turned up the heat as his mind reluctantly woke up.
he stepped from the bathroom feeling more civil. He even graced Sandburg with
a "Morning" on his way up to dress. Breakfast was done and on the table
when he returned, fully clothed.
"Whats on your agenda
for the day?" Sandburg asked, scooping up some hashbrowns.
have to finish up the paperwork on the Commerk case. You coming in?" Jim
salted his eggs.
"This afternoon. I have stuff to do at
the University all morning. Dont feel the need to wait on the paperwork."
He grinned cheekily.
"Have I recently told you what a riot
you are, Sandburg?"
"Not in so many words." Jim
shook his head and inhaled the rest of his food.
got to run, Im pushing it as it is. If you do the dishes this morning, Ill
do them tonight."
"Sure," Blair watched Jim rinse
off his dishes and set them in the sink. "See you in a few hours."
Jim grabbed his coat and was out the door. Blair finished eating at a more luxurious
pace and started doing the dishes. Singing under his breath, he did a little jig
from the sink to the table and started wiping it off. The prickling feeling returned
unexpectedly and caught Blair by surprise. Looking around, he took note that the
door and the windows were all securely shut and locked.
to worry about," he told himself. A shadow passed over the skylight and Sandburg
felt suddenly sick with deja vu. He forced himself to look up and saw a few birds
fly by. He laughed nervously. "Get a hold of yourself." He hastily finished
cleaning up the kitchen and gathered up his bag and coat. Venturing into the hall,
Sandburg shut the door behind him and looked around. No one in sight. He made
it to his car and then to the University without any incidents. However, he continued
to be jumpy, much to the amusement of his students. By the time he arrived at
the station, he had had his fill of being the butt of jokes by more than one class
"Hey Jim," he collapsed gratefully into the
chair next to Ellison before continuing without preamble. "You know that
feeling I had last night? Ive had it all morning, like someone was there,
watching me. I kept looking around but didnt see anyone. I was extra careful,
man." Jims jaw tightened in concern.
sure you were, Chief, but I want you close to me, alright?" Blair nodded.
" he hesitated. "Do you think its all in my mind?
I mean, I didnt see anyone suspicious all day, and you couldnt pick
up anything last night
"If it is, Sandburg,
better safe than sorry."
days followed. Jim started working on a new case; a chain of upper class house
robberies. Blair spent as little time alone at the University as possible, making
sure he always had one or two other people with him. Nothing happened, no bad
guys stepped forward and both Jim and Blair were getting irritable from walking
"Maybe my subconscious picked up on something
that made me think of Lash," Sandburg suggested finally over dinner, "and
really nothings there." Jim sighed and leaned back in his chair.
dont know, Chief. I dont want to ignore this, but I dont want
to continue on like we are, either."
Ill be at the station with you the whole time, so that will take care of
one day." Blair smiled wearily. Jim stood up and began clearing off the table.
man, let me do that. Go read a book or something." Jim gave him a look before
"Thanks, Chief," he said, moving off. Blair
took over the task, seeing Jim heading up to his room from the corner of his eye.
He was feeling lousy about this whole thing, and wanted to give Jim a break from
him. After he had finished, he slid on his glasses and picked up some tests to
grade. Halfway through, he frowned and glanced up, uneasy. What had happened to
Jim? Setting down his pen and the stack of papers, he bounded up the stairs.
Ji-" he stopped short when he saw what actually had become of Jim. He was
sprawled out diagonally on the bed, feet dangling off the side, and was now fast
asleep. His face was relaxed and his mouth half-open. An affectionate smile lit
up Blairs face. Walking silently over, he hesitated. Would it wake Jim up
if he moved him slightly? He reached out and lightly touched Jims ankle.
He slept on. Gently maneuvering his legs, he got Jim positioned so he was completely
on the bed. Apparently Jim knew who his Guide was even in sleep, for he didnt
stir once. Next, Blair pulled the comforter around Jims shoulders and tucked
him in. Blair let his hand linger on his shoulder for a moment more before going
back downstairs to finish his papers.
woke up with a bad taste in his mouth. Squinting, he glanced at the clock and
swallowed a few times. Five in the morning. He frowned and scooted to the edge
of the bed where he discovered he was still wearing his clothes from last night.
Must have fallen asleep, he thought groggily, shuffling to the stairs.
After he showered and dressed, he felt much better. Down right chipper, actually.
Must be all that sleep I got, he thought. This time it was Blair stumbling
out of his room while Jim made waffles.
he grinned as Sandburg gave him a dazed, baffled look as though he didnt
where he was.
"Hey," Blair dropped into his seat. "Waffles?"
strawberries," Jim replied, setting a plate down in front of him. Blair perked
"Man, this is great! Defiantly worth waking
up for!" Jim grinned at Blairs enthusiasm and carried his own plate
to his seat.
"Youre in a good mood," Sandburg
observed after a while of conversation. Jim nodded.
isnt it?" he joked. Blair laughed and bounced up.
need to take my shower. Do you want me to do the dishes before or after?"
Jim stood up and waved him off.
"Go shower, Chief, Ill
do the dishes." Blair gave him a wide-eyed, pleased look.
man!" he said as he disappeared into the bathroom. Jim chuckled and started
rinsing off the syrup-coated plates. Soon they were in Jims truck, chatting
about the recent action flick they had both seen.
really wanted to see the new movie with Val Kilmer in it, but never got a chance
because my life *sucks*."
"It sucks?" Jim asked.
Blair was adamant. "Hey, Jim, turn this up, I love this song," He interrupted
himself, reaching over and cranking up "Old Time Rock and Roll" by Bob
"Youre too young for old time rock and roll,"
"Jim, I was listening to Bob Seger before you
knew how to *spell* Bob Seger."
"First off, thats
Well, there is no secondly." Blair smirked at
"Very convincing argument, Jim," he teased. Jim
pulled into the police garage.
"Just remember that,"
he replied, turning off the engine.
Blair asked, opening his door. Jim didnt reply, but switched the subject.
want to camping. It will give us a chance to get away from job stress and this
feeling thing. Hows this weekend sound?" Blair blinked at the abrupt
switch of gears. Looking closely at Jim, he saw that he was serious.
sounds good, actually. I have only one class, and I have a friend who owes me
a favor." By this time they had exited the elevator and were heading for
Jims desk. Jim leaned back in his chair and laced his hands behind his head.
"Do you have any place in mind?" Before Jim could respond, Simon opened
his door and bellowed:
"Ellison, Sandburg, my office!"
The two exchanged looks of mock horror.
Captain?" Jim asked, making himself comfortable on the conference table.
Blair planted himself next to Jim. Simon glared at them.
got a call from the Kulhwicks. They live in Forest Avenue." Forest
Avenue was the suburban neighborhood that was being hit by robberies that Jim
was investigating. "Apparently the maid feels like shes being watched
and told her employer. He called us. I want you two to stake it out tonight."
He snapped open a file and peered at them suspiciously over it, as though waiting
for a protest. Jim tore a piece of paper off a small legal pad and balled it up.
fine, Simon," he said, throwing his pellet at Sandburg and smacking him on
the side of the head. Blair glared at him, then raised his hand.
Banks, I dont like sitting next to second graders," he said indignantly.
Simon looked at them, slightly baffled.
"Get out of here,"
he finally said, making hand motions towards the door. After they had gone he
allowed a grin to work his way onto his face and shook his head.
I swear, if you pull on my hair one more time, Ill pop you one, I really
will." Blair scowled at Jim, but couldnt hide his twinkling eyes.
your hair?" Jim frowned, perplexed. "I didnt pull your hair, Chief."
you didnt," Blair grumbled good-naturedly, sinking lower into his seat
and huddling deeper into his coat. Jim grinned at him until Blair looked at him,
when he turned away. Sandburgs gaze returned to the house, and Jims
to him, smiling. Blair snapped his head around, but Jim was solemnly staring out
"Jim, stop it," he said, laughing.
"Man, what has gotten into you today?" Jim was about to respond when
his face lost all traces of playfulness and his head snapped around.
around back," he was silent, listening. "Its them. Call for backup
and wait here." Opening his door, he slipped out into the dark, every inch
the grave, stoic cop he normally was. Blair juggled the phone that had been tossed
at him. After completing his call, he bounced impatiently on the edge of the seat,
trying to slice through the blackness with his eyes.
his gun in both hands, edging around the side of the house. It was large and white,
with expensive-looking landscaping and an underground pool in the back. Large
trees surrounding the house provided shade and security from prying eyes. He listened
carefully and was able to pick up two heartbeats, one beating fast, the other
steady. There was no conversation between them, they worked like a machine, in
total accordance with each other. He was at the edge of the house, now. He tensed,
then spun around the corner.
"FREEZE! Cascade PD, put your
hands in the air!" he bellowed, instantly spotting the two thieves in the
dark. They were both women, one with shoulder-length blonde hair and an athletic
body, the others hair was under a black ski cap. She looked about 210 pounds
and was holding a glass cutter which she raised up with both hands. Jim wasnt
sure if she planned to through it at him or charge at him. They were about fifteen
"Put the cutter down, maam, and get your
hands in the air, now!" Red and blue suddenly danced off the white sides
of the house and sirens screamed through the air. Jim saw Blondie lunging toward
a sack on the ground, probably for another weapon.
it right there!" Jim yelled, turning his gun toward her. The sound of slamming
doors and guns being cocked snapped filled the night. The two exchanged desperate
looks, as through searching for one last plan. Blondie gave in first, her partner
"That was relatively easy," Jim said
to Rafe as the two were led away. "Wheres Sandburg?"
not with you?" surprise flickered across the young mans face. "I
didnt see him in the truck, and assumed he was backing you up." Jim
felt like a gallon of ice water had been poured over him, and prickles ran down
his skin. Without a word, he turned and ran toward the Ford. The only thing left
in Blairs spot were his gloves and scarf, which he would never go voluntarily
"Calm down, Jim," Simon
barked at the pacing man, wishing he could follow that order himself. The captain
felt slightly sick. "Well find him soon."
not soon enough, Simon," Jim was frantic in the only way he knew how to be.
He shut himself down. Now he was allowing a bit of what he felt inside to peer
out. "Weve been vigilant for three days- *three days*- and in one careless
second, hes gone." He spun around on his heel and strode the length
of the office once more. Simon sighed, wilting slightly forward on his desk.
go home and get some rest. Or survey the loft and see if you can find anything
"Simon, I *cant* leave, not when Blairs
out there somewhere at the will of some maniac." Jim stopped and faced Simon,
spreading his hands face-up. "He told me the last time he had a feeling like
this, it was with that whole Lash thing." Simon straightened at that.
like what?" he demanded suspiciously. "Why didnt I hear about
this?" Jim sighed and resumed his walking.
I was stupid and reckless and I thought I
we could handle this on our own.
Besides, there was nothing to go on, just this feeling Sandburg had of being watched.
I kept a close eye out, but never saw anything suspicious." Simon sighed
heavily and lit his cigar.
"Well find him, Jim,"
he promised quietly.
"Dead or alive?" Jim whispered,
so low that Simon didnt hear him.
said, how much longer?" Jim stopped in front of him. "I have *nothing*
to go on, Simon. No notes, no calls, no suspects, no motives, nothing. I searched
the truck, but didnt see any prints, or smell anything. Whoever took him
must have stood outside in the wind. Who would *want* to take him? He hasnt
been on any cases lately, no one with a vendetta has been released from prison,
no one from school has been threatening him. Life was oddly peaceful." His
mouth twisted in a poor imitation of a smile.
Simon said quietly, rubbing his forehead with one hand, the other propped up on
his desk, holding his cigar. "Go home. Its three a.m. Get some rest,
search through Blairs stuff, see if you can find *anything*. Come in tomorrow
rested and ready to find this guy. Thats an order." Jim stared at him
stonily before turning and storming out his door, shutting it harder than necessary
in his wake. Simon sighed and inhaled deep from his cigar.
frowned at the pounding. It wasnt like Jim to be so inconsiderate.
he called, but it came out muffled, and found that his tongue didnt move
well. It was like a dried-out, moldy sock had been shoved in his mouth. His brow
furrowed, and he rotated his jaw, only to discover that he was gagged. He also
realized that the banging was inside his head. His eyes flew open in panic. They
roved around the room. It was dim, but had pink carpet and green and pink floral
wall-paper. The only furniture in the room was the cot on which he was bound.
His ankles were tied with rope, as were his thighs. His wrists were painfully
secured behind his back, and the rope twined around his chest and upper arms.
There was someone sitting at his feet. He looked down and his heart leapt to his
"Hey, Mr. Sandburg," Brad Ventriss said with
a sneer and a smile. "Miss me? Ive thought about you a lot." Blair
could do nothing but simply stare at him, heart pounding. "Aw, cant
talk? Here." He reached down and pulled the gag out of Blairs mouth.
Was the first word croaked out of his mouth, before he winced and swallowed several
"Money," Brad replied simply, leaning back on
the heels of his hands. He didnt have to say anymore.
about Suzanne? And your parents?" It still came out rough, even though hed
tried to wet his throat. His heart was racing.
them?" Brad said flippantly. He abruptly sat up and pushed himself to the
edge of the cot. "Enough about me. Lets talk about you, and whats
going to happen to you." He leaned over Blair, glaring at him. "To be
honest, I dont have many plans right now. All I know for certain is that
youre going to die, and its going to be long and painful." They
stared at each other a moment before Brad re-secured the gag and stuck a needle
into Blairs arm. He was unconscious before Ventriss reached the door.
woke up. He was surprised that he did; he hadnt expected to get to sleep.
Sitting up, he pushed himself to the side and stayed still for a moment, feet
on the floor. He felt
dull. Shaking his head, he got up and showered. It
was all mechanical. He dressed and poured himself some cereal. Adding milk, he
sat down at his spot and stuck the spoon in it. He stirred it around, then lifted
up a spoonful. It made it over the top of the bowl before he dropped it back in.
He absently repeated this action over and over. Was it only twenty-four ago he
and Blair were eating waffles and joking? Jim stood up and emptied the contents
of his bowl in the sink. He wasnt really hungry, anyway. Besides, he had
work to do.
"You Decorated My Life" blared out of the
stereo the second he started up the car. He switched the station. A mellow classical
piece twined its way around the interior of the truck. Jim flipped his turn signal.
The coffee tasted too cold and too bitter. He poured
it down the sink in the break room.
"Jim," he looked
up, bleary-eyed, from his full desk to a grave-faced Simon. "In here, pronto."
He got up and moved toward Simons office. Ignoring, as he had been all day,
the sympathetic, worried looks everyone shot his way.
up, Simon?" he asked, then paused. "Have you found Blair?" Simon
shook his head. Well, Jim thought, elated and crushed at the same
time. At least they havent found a body.
but we do have a suspect." Jims eyes hardened.
Simon crossed his arms over his chest, his own face cold.
we both know too well. Brad Ventriss." Jim blinked, jaw moving.
That kid that was pestering Blair? I thought he was happily stowed away in jail."
out. We believe he bribed a guard, Jacob Demele. Demele was found dead in his
apartment this morning, seventy-five thousand dollars suddenly transferred to
his bank account and a ticket to Cancun on his dresser. Recently after discovering
him we received word that Ventriss was gone." Jim straightened from his position
against the door frame.
"I want a look around his apartment."
Simon nodded and grabbed his coat.
"Im coming with
*** to be continued