Blair climbed into the truck and leaned back, closing both eyes
with a tired sigh. Why Jim was fighting him on this, he didn't know. Well, he
did know, really. But he needed this. Anthony Giovanni had taken from him something
he could never get back, and had nearly ended his world with one well-placed bullet.
For the first time in Blair's life, he wanted a man dead. At least he thought
"Jim, I'm sorry I tried to talk you out of that trial." He
glanced at his partner while they drove home. "I know you better than that,
man. You'd never have given up."
"Sandburg, that wasn't you."
Jim glanced at him, then focused his attention back on the road. "You'd been
told to do whatever it took to keep me out of the courtroom. I knew you weren't
being yourself, that's what helped put the pieces together."
this is over, I want that week back, Jim." Blair looked out the windshield,
daring the city to deny him that right.
"We'll talk about it."
Blair was silenced by a raised hand. His partner was staring intently at their
building as he parked the truck outside.
"We've got company." Jim
lifted the microphone attached to his shirt closer to his mouth. "Captain,
Blair reached for the doorknob, but a hand on his arm
"You stay here!"
He turned, ready to argue, but
the look in Jim's eyes stopped anything Blair could have said. Instinct, and a
deep need for his partner to be right, kept Blair where he was, nodding slightly.
All he could do was watch as Jim, Simon, and Agents Morrison and Bent made their
way quickly toward the building, using the cover of early evening darkness to
hide them from any watchful eye in the loft above.
Only the eyes they were
after weren't upstairs.
"Don't make a sound."
The door was pulled
open with such suddenness, Blair had no time to react. A gun was pressed into
the side of his neck and he was pulled from the truck. He found himself facing
a familiar man, taller than him, with black hair and thick eyebrows, and a gun
aiming between his eyes. Giovanni glanced up at the loft across the street, then
took a fistful of Blair's shirt and pulled him forward, propelling him into a
Blair stumbled forward, then grabbed
the doorframe and turned, anger and a burst of memory demanding attention. "They
know you're here, there's no way out now."
Giovanni reached out and shoved
Blair through the door. "We'll see about that."
The door led into
an empty shop, vacant for the past two months since the little card shop moved
downtown. Blair stepped into the open room, trying to adjust his eyes to the darkness
and listen for signs of Jim. There must have been other men in the loft, decoys.
Jim would have figured that out right away, and was probably closing in now.
He turned, facing a man he now recognized. Flashes of things
Blair had seen in a dream-like state came back with dizzying clarity. Flashes
of lights; nausea; thick, black eyebrows hovering over dull, lifeless eyes that
held his gaze relentlessly. A voice that wasn't Eli Stoddard, insisting that it
was. A face that Blair had never seen before, insisting they were good friends.
Demanding Blair do as he was told. It was a lie. The entire week, everything he
did and said and remembered, all a lie. A fabrication of this man.
uncle was right. This new business of yours didn't work." Blair could see
slightly better now that his eyes had adjusted to the moonlight streaming in through
dirty blinds. Anthony Giovanni was an imposing figure, straight out of a Godfather
film. The gun he held was steady, aimed at Blair's head with no sign of uncertainty.
"Oh, I think it worked fine, for a virgin company." Giovanni shrugged,
smiling at Blair from three feet away. "I'll just have to pick my subjects
with more care next time. But, these things you learn."
Blair shook his
head, thoughts of Jim fading. He wanted this man, and if he could get that gun
away, it would be so easy. "It was you I told all those things to about my
partner, wasn't it?"
A smile broke across Giovanni's face, displaying
perfect, bright teeth. "Indeed. And a very interesting conversation it was.
A Sentinel, you called him."
Blair's blood ran cold for an instant, a
shiver coursing down his spine.
"I thought you were off your rocker for
a while, I have to admit." He shrugged again, smiling at Blair. "But
then I did some checking. You're not the simple grad student I took you for, studying
the life of Cascade's police force. Very interesting indeed. I might find a use
for Detective Ellison in the future. I was considering the potential of the pair
of you, but now..."
"You remember what I said about him?" Blair's
eyes darted to a point behind Giovanni, then back again. "How he can see
in the dark?"
For one instant, Giovanni's hand wavered. "Ah, but
you forget, he's upstairs trying to figure out which of my men might be me."
Blair shook his head slowly, nodding toward the window. "He knew you were
here all along. They just needed you to say enough before he could arrest you."
"That's very clever." Giovanni nodded, but inched toward the window
all the same, glancing out and up to see the loft windows. "Now I have one
for you, since we're playing games." He moved away from the blinds and waved
the gun in the air. "Do you recall everything from our week together? Shall
I help you remember?"
Pain, fear, injections that made him sickeningly
dizzy, and Giovanni's face constantly in view. "I don't think you'll have
time." With a calm Blair never knew he could have, he glanced into the darkness
behind his tormentor, then casually looked back at him in time to catch the slight
Lunging the short distance, Blair knocked the gun away while Giovanni's
attention, however briefly, was directed into the darkness, looking for a man
who wasn't there. Both men fell to the floor and the gun skittered across the
tile floor, slamming into the far wall. Blair was up first, but Giovanni was quicker,
catching Blair right over the eye with the back of his fist. As he fell back slightly,
Blair reached out and found Giovanni's coat, pulling him off balance as he was
moving toward the lost weapon. With a shout of anger, Blair swung hard, his fist
slamming into the larger man's jaw. Both men were knocked apart by the blow, and
Giovanni was first to his feet, running to the gun. Blair was right behind him,
but not quick enough. He stopped when he saw the gun once again pointed at his
chest, the finger pulling back on the trigger.
But the explosion came from
beside him, not in front. Giovanni's shirt moved with the wind of the bullet that
slammed into his chest and burst through the other side. Blair watched as the
man, or what was left of him, slid quietly to the floor. The eyes that were haunting
his mind now stared lifeless from below, a silent, unsatisfying ending to the
torture Blair was just beginning to remember.
"Let me look at that, Chief."
Jim was beside him, a hand on his chin, trying to look at the cut over his right
"Ow!" The pain of Giovanni's blow over Blair's already wounded
forehead brought him out of his shocked silence.
"Hang on." Jim looked
him over, then stared into his eyes. "Are you all right?"
Blair nodded, then looked at the body again. "I told him you were here."
"I know, I heard you." Jim rested a hand on Blair's head for a moment,
knelt down over Giovanni. "From upstairs."
The reality of what he'd done came crashing down, but his reaction was postponed
by the sudden entrance of Simon and both FBI agents, guns drawn. Blair stared
at the Captain for a moment, then swallowed hard and looked at Jim.
Are you two all right?" Simon lowered his gun when he saw the blood covered
body on the floor.
Jim stood, nodding. "We're fine, Captain."
were supposed to take him alive, Detective." Morrison's stern look was easy
to see in the dim light as he glared from Jim to Blair and back again.
was a justified shooting." Jim holstered his gun and stepped over the body
back to Blair's side. "He was going to kill my partner."
it a rest, Larry." Agent Bent put his gun away and looked at the body. "It's
Jim put a hand on Blair's shoulder and they stepped away from the
blood-stained corner. It was over. Well, not really. There was still the forensics
team that had to come out, and reports to be made while everything was taped off,
bagged up and tagged. Then there were the two decoys Jim and Simon had arrested
in the loft. They had to be brought in. Statements had to be taken, evidence had
to be cataloged and guns turned in for the formality of reporting in triplicate.
By the time it really was over, the sun was crawling over the city, wiping
clean what had happened the night before. Wearily, Blair made his way into the
loft, following Jim, who seemed only slightly more awake than he was. Neither
man had the energy to talk about anything until they had eaten what amounted to
breakfast and were contemplating bed from the couch, both of them resting tired
heads against the back cushion.
"I'm sorry about all of this, Chief. The
case didn't even involve you"
"Jim, I'm your partner. Anything that
affects you involves me." Blair's statement was directed at the ceiling,
but then he turned and met Jim's eyes. "When I saw him, I started to remember
Jim closed his eyes for a moment, sighing, then looked at
Blair. "What do you remember?"
Blair was again looking at the ceiling,
trying hard to remember the details while praying he couldn't. He opened his mouth
twice to explain to Jim the feelings, the dizziness and fear, the abject terror
he had reached before it all got confusing. But each time he tried, the lump forming
in his throat stopped him. "It was him, not Dr. Stoddard." Still looking
at the ceiling fan, Blair felt Jim's hand rest on his leg, imparting a much needed
reassurance. He took that comfort and faced his friend again. "I told him
about you. Everything. He said at first he didn't believe me, but then he checked
Jim patted Blair's thigh. "It's okay, Chief."
Jim, he knew. He understood what you can do." Blair sat up, trying to make
Jim understand the importance of what had nearly happened. "He said he was
going to find a way to use you in the future." Didn't he understand how
bad this could have been?
Jim sighed, then sat up. "Sandburg, he
didn't. It's over, remember? Giovanni's dead, Burgini's in the hands of the FBI
and probably won't last a month testifying against his rivals. You're okay, I'm
okay. It's over, Chief."
Blair shook his head and looked out the windows
at the sun now blazing through a light blue winter sky. Jim never seemed to linger
on things that could have shattered his entire world. Once they were over, it
was done. It was a habit that mystified Blair, not so much the reasoning behind
it, but the ease with which he made it happen. Some days, he wondered if he'd
ever achieve half his friend's outlook.
"You were right about one thing."
Blair looked at his hands for a moment, pondering last night's conversation. "Remembering
that week didn't help."
Jim watched him for a minute. "Do you want
to talk about it?"
"No." Adamantly, Blair shook his head. He
looked at Jim, meeting blue eyes that held more understanding than he'd ever seen
before. Running a hand through his hair, he shrugged. "Not right now, anyway."
"Fair enough." Jim sat up, then yawned. "I'm gonna get some
sleep. I suggest you do too."
"Listen, Chief, when
you're ready to talk about this, if you need me for anything, I'm here."
He looked up again and tried to smile. "Thanks, Jim."
mean it. I'm always here, partner."
Blair stood with Jim and reached out,
placing a hand on his friend's arm. "I know, Jim. Thanks."
some sleep." With a returning touch and a nod toward Blair's room, Jim moved
around the living room to close the shades, blocking out the sun that was insisting
the time for sleep had passed.
Blair yawned his way to his room, shedding clothes
as he went. As he fell onto the soft mattress, Jim's words stayed with him. I'm
always here. He'd been there, in the dark shop, while Giovanni was taunting
Blair. He was sure of it! How else could Blair have been brave enough to take
that man on, giving his friend the break he'd need to take him down? But Jim said
he'd heard Blair from above, in the loft. And yet...Blair was certain he'd felt
Jim with him.
He sighed, pulling a blanket over his tired body, and closed
his eyes. Whatever mystery last night held, it would have to wait. There were
other things in line to be worked out. His lost week that was coming back had
to be dealt with. Then there was his entire mental image of having told Eli all
about Jim. He still wanted to do that, somehow. And the little problem of him
having made an ass of himself in the Station yet again.
Wondering how he could
have been so certain of Jim's presence at a time when he supposedly wasn't there
would just have to wait. A little while.