Blair quickly picked up the phone and dialed in Jim's
pager number. He knew his friend was at the Precinct, he'd get the message and
call. Just calm down, everything's fine. Blair's heart was racing. He
was sure he hadn't imagined seeing that reflection in the cab window. But, he
couldn't really understand why Lash would target him. No, it had to be a mistake.
He was just on edge from the case, having the killer right there, with them, that
whole time. Then Chris getting upset with him. He was just being honest. No, he
was imagining this. Still.........He dialed in the number for Jim, adding 1014-911.
He would know. He would come and everything would be fine. Just fine.
on, ring." His heart was still racing. Had he imagined the noises outside?
Had he imagined seeing someone walking by? God, why didn't Jim call back? He was
in the kitchen, ready to grab the phone. Surely Jim was going to call any minute
now. Suddenly the front door burst open, sending splinters into the living room.
Oh Shit! For an instant, Blair was torn between rushing forward and attacking
his would-be attacker, and fleeing out the back. That second was all it took for
Lash to enter and find him, still standing undecided in the kitchen. Blair grabbed
a pot from the counter and tossed it at Lash, turning to get out of the confines
of the kitchen before seeing if it struck. He was running for the back door when
he was grabbed from behind and pulled by his jacket back into the living room.
He twisted around, breaking the grip that was trying to fling him over the couch,
and threw a punch, connecting with Lash's jaw. He had been ready for it, though,
and Blair's fist did little damage. Lash grabbed the front of his jacket and Blair
pulled away, sending them both over the couch, Blair slamming into the coffee
table before hitting the floor.
"You're only making this harder on yourself."
Lash said, smiling.
He stood and Blair crawled away, trying to stand. Lash
was laughing now, and lunged for Blair just as he was back on his feet. They both
slammed into the bookcase and Blair heard the television fall to the floor. He
spun around, pushing Lash into the fallen television. He stumbled and fell, letting
go of Blair's shirt long enough for him to pull away. He jumped over the fallen
books and ran for the door. He was almost there, almost free when the yellow cloth
flashed past his eyes and wrapped around his throat, cutting off his air as it
violently pulled him back. He reached up with both hands, trying to pull the material
away from his neck, away from the blood supply it was cutting off. He couldn't
breathe, and his head was spinning. Black spots exploded in front of his eyes
as he began to lose consciousness. He could hear Lash breathing right behind his
ear, and as he fell, he wondered where Jim would find his body.
Blair stirred, trying to climb out of the fog that was clouding his mind. He
was cold, and his head was pounding violently, but he didn't know why. Maybe he
had been out late last night? He couldn't remember, but he was uncomfortable.
And there was something in his mouth. Suddenly a vision of Lash filled his mind
and he snapped awake, feeling then the chains that bound his hands and ankles.
He pulled at them, and realized the chain was threaded through a ring in the floor.
Oh God, oh God......this isn't happening! He tried to raise his
head, to see where he was, but the pounding in his head grew worse with the movement,
and the spots returned, dancing across his eyes. He slipped again into the dark
Someone was slapping him, trying to wake him
up. Blair fought it at first, moaning slightly. He was so tired! Then
he slowly, reluctantly he opened his eyes. Lash! Oh God, he wasn't home, where
was he? Lash was there, standing almost on top of him, staring into
his eyes. It hadn't been a nightmare. It was true, and he was going to be the
next victim of this psychopath. He tried to cry out, to pull away, but the gage
was still in his mouth, and the chains still there. He was shaking, and he couldn't
"Hey, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay, it's okay." Lash was
holding his shirt, leaning over him as he tried to pull away.
around as he fought both the terror of his situation, and a strange lingering
fatigue that he couldn't seem to shake. He wasn't on the floor anymore, he was
in some kind of chair. It felt like a dentist chair. His wrists were still chained,
and the chain extended down to his ankles. There was light coming from somewhere,
he tried to see where he was, but Lash was right in front of him. Then he moved
back, and Blair could see candles as his vision swam again with a wave of dizziness.
God, why was he falling asleep at a time like this?
you to meet my friends." Lash backed away, swinging his arms wide. "I
only have four of them now, but, friends are like, SO easy to make dude."
Blair watched him backing up, then saw what was behind him, and he realized
what they were. He fought the heaviness of his eyelids, struggling to stay awake,
stay alert. He couldn't move, his arms and legs felt like lead weights, and the
heavy chains added to that feeling. Lash was walking towards one of the shrines
that were hanging from the ceiling. "There's, ah..Adam Walker. He was really
easy. He didn't struggle at all." He pushed against the wheel chair hanging
there. "But, I guess it's cause he was really stoned." He moved
over to another group of items and Blair had to fight to keep his eyes open, fight
the wave of dizziness that was making his head spin. "And then there's Billy
Bright." He picked up a set of drumsticks and began to finger them. "Bright,
he was not. But I overlooked that cause man....." He began to pound the sticks
against the chair. "Cause he had talent." Lash was coming towards him
then, banging the sticks against the arms of the chair, working his way towards
Blair tried to pull back, to pull away. He winced, partly from
the sharp stabbing headache that was increasing in pitch with each strike of the
drumsticks on the chair, partly because he couldn't remember if Lash had.....done
anything, to his other victims. He tried to pull away from the drumsticks that
were now touching his face. What was he going to do? There had been no
mention of abuse prior to the drowning, was there? He tried to get them off, but
he couldn't move. He still felt like he was going to drift into unconsciousness
again. Suddenly Lash shoved a stick into either side of Blair's face, pressing
into the gag with enough force to stop Blair's struggles. "Oh....then there
was sweet Susan." He stopped pressing the drumsticks into Blair's face and
stepped back, walking towards a mannikin Blair could see hanging from the ceiling
beside the others. "She had REALLY good taste in cars, but.....that hair,
those clothes. I mean, what was the girl thinking?"
Blair tried to force
his eyes to stay open, why was he so tired? Lash had moved over towards another
chair and was shaking his head. "You know, I think my finest hour was getting
up into your partner's face." He was sitting down now, facing Blair. Then
he suddenly stood, and Blair struggled to stay focused. Each time Lash approached,
he feared what was going to happen. "And now it's time, for hairy Blairy..."
Lash approached him, leaning into the arms of the chair. "And that beautiful
China doll." He spun the chair around and Blair fought another episode of
dizziness. God, Lash was going to kill him, then become him! Just like
the other three. Where was he? How was Jim going to find him? Just that afternoon,
Jim and Simon had no idea where Lash was drowning his victims. They only knew
that each one had been drowned somewhere else, then placed in their own bathtubs.
God, Jim doesn't know where I am! No one knows where I am.
watched Lash, and another wave of fear washed through him. This was not the same
man he and Jim had been working with at the Station. And yet it was. Which meant,
David Lash really was a true psychopath. How could you predict the behavior of
a madman? God, he was going to die, and there was nothing he could do. Jim was
going to find his body......where? Back at the loft? Would Lash risk taking him
back there, back to a cop's place? Or would he just dump him somewhere? How long
was he going to take? How long did Lash keep his victims before drowning them?
They knew he took over the personality of his victims, but for how long? Did he
kill them when he began, or when he was finished? How long did he
have? The tired, drugged feeling hadn't passed.
"Yeah, this is gonna
really be fun." Lash was putting his hair up behind his head with a rubber
band. "You have a wicked sense of humor." Blair watched through heavy
eyes as Lash put on a dark wig.....the same wig he had seen in the cab's window.
"You know, kinda hip...with a touch, of the nerd. All in all man, quiet a
piece of work." He turned and faced Blair.
Blair shook his head slowly,
trying to deny what was happening. How could this be happening? How could
it be happening to him? And why?
He tried to get up, but Lash was there too
quickly, wrapping another heavy chain around his arms, pinning him to the chair.
He was kneeling in front of the chair now, tightening the metal band around Blair's
right ankle. He couldn't take this anymore. He was going to go insane himself
sitting there. He tried to shout, to make Lash explain what he was doing, but
he couldn't make himself understood around the gag.
"What? I can't hear
you. I don't understand" Lash looked up, then stood and reached out. "I
need to hear your voice more, anyway."
He pulled the gag down and Blair
shouted. "Screw you, you head case!! Help!! Help me!!" But Lash was
shouting with him, mirroring his words. "Damn!" he gave up, he was
going to die! He tried to look up, tried not to lose control, but it was
hard. Lash was leaning into him again.
"You just relax. We're gonna go
see the ducks. Then you're gonna have a nice ho....your gonna have a nice... hot
Blair knew what he meant. He knew Lash's past from what his father
had told them back at the Precinct, when Jim was questioning him. He felt so helpless!
He was chained to the chair, completely unable to move. Now there was nothing
he could do. No way he could run. And Jim wasn't there.
you ready to die, huh ?" Lash leaned in again and put both hands on Blair's
face. "I'm ready."
Blair tried to pull away, tried to get the hands
off of him. The back of the chair he was chained to stopped him and Lash moved
his hands down, caressing his face. He turned, trying to get those hands off of
him, but he wouldn't move. He jerked away again, desperate to get that touch away.
Finally Lash let go and walked over to the table. There were candles there, too,
and a bottle with pills in it. Lash reached over and picked up a wig, putting
it on as he checked himself in the dirty mirror beside the window. Blair's heart
was racing so badly, he felt sure Jim could hear it, even back at the loft. How
far away was that? Where was he?
"Status report man, how'm I doin?"
Lash was standing at a table, crushing tablets into powder.
Blair replied. He was going to die, there was nothing more this madman could do.
There was no way he was going to give Lash the satisfaction of knowing how scared
he really was. "You think you can be me? When's my birthday? What was the
name of my first girlfriend?" Lash waved a hand, dismissing Blair's words.
"How old was I when I broke my arm falling out of Mrs Danbush's tree?"
He wouldn't turn around. "Come on you freak, answer me!" Lash was mixing
the now powdered pills with water, pouring them back and forth from one bottle
into a medicine spoon. "You really think you can be me? You can't be me.
Only I think what I think, feel what I feel." He was trying to hurt Lash
in the only way he could, even if it only gave him a moment's satisfaction, at
least he could hurt his killer.
"I can be you!" Lash shouted, turning
towards Blair. "I CAN be you.....me....I...can be me."
his head, and mouth the word NO.
Lash turned away and returned to the table,
waving an arm towards Blair. "Shut up, man!"
"You think you
know who I am? I know more about you. Poor little Homer." Blair taunted.
"No." Lash shook his head.
"Your pet duck..... Why'd you
kill him? Why'd you kill your brother?!
"You are ruining this."
you rub filth all over yourself?"
It was working,
he was hurting him. If he could buy some time, maybe.......just maybe, someone
would find him. If not, then nothing had changed. He was going to die. "Why'd
you make mommie punish you?! You know, if you had just been a good little boy,
if you had been a good little Davy, momma wouldn't have had to have scrubbed you
in all those hot baths! "
Suddenly he was on top of Blair, pushing his
head back. Blair fought the hand that came over his face, to pinch his nose shut.
Oh God, here it comes! He's going to kill me! Suddenly he couldn't
breathe, and he opened his mouth. Water was poured inside as Lash forced the medicine
spoon into his mouth. Blair coughed and gaged, accidentally swallowing a mouthful.
He tried to spit the rest out, but he couldn't breathe. He coughed again and more
slid down his throat. Lash let go of his nose then and forced his jaw closed,
rubbing his throat with the other hand. Blair fought the urge to swallow what
was left in his mouth. He didn't know if it was poison, or a sedative, but he
knew he didn't want to swallow any more. God, it was over wasn't it? No more chance
Blair pulled away from Lash then,
hearing the voice behind him. Jim, it was Jim! Finally. Lash let go of
his head and he turned, trying to see Jim. He could hear him walking down the
steps, coming closer. Thank God! Jim was getting closer, and Lash was
just standing here. But, there was a look on his face........Blair heard the step
break, heard Jim fall to the ground. He saw Lash move forward as Jim's gun flew
from his hands. They were behind him now, and Blair couldn't turn around. He heard
them struggle, surely Jim was winning? He strained to see them, to see what was
happening. They were on their feet now, and Jim was moving forward. They rushed
past Blair, then fell through a pane of glass in the wall, falling away, and then
down, out of his sight through the rotting timbers. Blair tried to get up, tried
to move, but he was chained down. God, how far did they fall? He heard wood breaking,
and a muffled shout somewhere below him. Blair's heart was pounding now, in a
strange, sort of heavy way. He began to feel dizzy sitting there. Oh God,
the drug. I can't.......can't..lose consciousness.....not now. He fought
the sensation, trying to concentrate on the noises coming from below him. He could
hear movement, hear Lash. Where was Jim? There was more noise, timbers breaking......God,
what was happening down there?
Suddenly Blair heard a gunshot.
Then another, and another. Five shots. But, Jim's gun is up here.....who
had.....Oh God, who was that? One of them was dead....which one? Blair
struggled again against the chains, and the pressing heaviness on his chest and
eyelids. His heart was racing, he couldn't take a deep breath. The chain around
his arms was pinching as he fought against it. He stopped for just a moment and
heard footsteps. Someone was coming back up. But who? Jim's gun was still
up here, on the floor beside him. Did Lash have a gun? He tried to swallow
against the tightness in his throat, tried to calm his racing heart. It must be
Jim. I had to be Jim. But was it? Blair had to fight to keep from shutting
his eyes. If it was Jim, then everything was okay. He'd get him out of these chains
and take him home. But.......if it was Lash....? Then Jim was dead, and any chance
Blair had of being rescued died with him. The footsteps drew closer, coming from
behind him. Blair wanted to call out, to call for Jim, but he was too afraid it
just might be Lash coming to finish the job. Not Jim. He was breathing heavily,
trying to fight off the drug that was coursing through his body.
were behind him now and he tried to turn, to see who it was. An hand came down
on his shoulder and he tensed, suddenly too terrified to look.
"Oh God, Jim.........Lash, is he....." Blair looked
around, praying no one else was coming down the steps.
Jim came around to face
him, hand still on his shoulder, a concerned look in his eyes. "It's okay,
Chief. It's okay. He's dead. It's all over now." Jim reached out and examined
the chains binding Blair to the seat. "Are you okay?" Jim looked up,
into Blair's eyes.
Blair nodded groggily. "Yeah....I'm...okay. Just feel
.... a little strange." There was a weight on his chest, and his voice was
responding slowly. Jim reached up and touched his face, moving him so he could
look more closely into his eyes. Blair closed them for just a moment, then felt
the hand.........the hand was on his face again! He pulled away, opening his eyes.
"Easy....easy Chief. It's me." Jim was there, standing next to him.
"It's okay. How much did he give you? Carol says it's short acting, it should
wear off soon."
"Wha....what?" Blair asked. He remembered Lash
pouring the water down his throat. It was getting harder to focus on Jim.
ethanol. Lash used it to subdue his victims, right before drowning them. It's
okay, it'll wear off. Just relax. I need to find some bolt cutters." Jim
took his hands away and looked around the room.
Blair didn't want him to leave,
but he was too tired now to speak. All he could do was sit there and pray Jim
didn't leave him in that room. What if......what if Lash wasn't dead? He shook
his head, God, stay awake Sandburg! Jim moved out of sight and Blair
forced his eyes open wide, trying to take deeper breaths to clear the fog. He
had taken two deep breaths when Jim returned with something in his hands.
hang on, almost done." Jim was breaking the chain around his arms, the one
that was holding him to the chair. Blair tried to sit up when it fell off, but
he was too dizzy. "Just take it easy. We'll have you out of here in a minute."
He broke the shackles around each ankle, then Blair's wrists, letting them fall
to the floor.
Blair had to force his eyes open again as he felt the chains
fall. Another wave of dizziness swept over him as he tried to stand. Jim had him
by the jacket and was pulling him up. Blair lost consciousness completely as Jim
swung him over one shoulder.
He came to again just
as he was being set down on the cold ground. Jim shoved something under his head
and pressed him down. "Okay Chief, take it easy. Just lay still" he
reached behind him and picked up a comm unit. "Simon, I've found him."
"Ellison, where in the hell have you been!? Where are you?!" Blair
could hear Simon's voice blaring over the small unit.
"I'm at ............
Lash is dead."
"What about Sandburg?!" Blair was slightly flattered
that Simon would sound concerned about his health. But then again, he sounded
more irritated at the whole mess, than relived.
"He's here. He's all right
Simon. We need an ambulance."
"No, Jim I'm fine." Blair tried
to get up but Jim put a hand on his chest.
"Just to get you checked out,
Chief. It's routine." He finished with Simon, then put the unit in his pocket.
"Just lie still, and keep breathing."
Blair laid his head back against
the coat Jim had put behind him and closed his eyes for a second. His heart was
still pounding, but it was from the drug, not the terror he had felt for what
seemed like hours. The relief was almost overwhelming. He had been so sure he
was going to die, going to be the next victim of that madman, to be here now,
with Jim watching over him was almost hard to believe. He was afraid to fall asleep,
afraid this rescue would be a dream and he'd wake up back in the chair. Somewhere
in the distance he heard sirens, coming closer. He opened his eyes again and Jim
was still there, still holding him down.
"I blew it, didn't I?" he
asked. Somehow it had to be his fault, that Lash had picked him, had gotten to
him. Jim wouldn't have been taken, he would have gotten control in the loft and
Jim was shaking his head. "No, Sandburg, you didn't blow
it. You did everything right. It's okay." He saw the flashing lights behind
Jim now as the ambulance pulled up. "We'll just take you to get checked out,
then we'll be home. It's okay."
Blair closed his eyes again and heard
other voices. He wanted to open them again, but he couldn't. His eyelids were
too heavy, and he felt like lead. Vaguely he felt someone lifting him, placing
him on something warmer and more comfortable. Then he faded completely.
"He took a concentrated dose, that's why he kept losing
consciousness. But he should be fine now. No lasting effects." The doctor
was explaining to Jim that Blair could go home. He had just been buttoning his
shirt when Jim came in. "Just take it easy for a few days, Mr. Sandburg.
You've had a very traumatic experience, emotionally as well as physically."
"Thanks Doc." he smiled, looking at Jim. "Can we get out of
"Thank you doctor." Jim shook the doctor's hand then
looked over at Blair. "Okay Chief, let's go. We'll head into the station
in the morning, close this case out."
It was nearly 3 a.m., and the emergency
room was quiet. Blair was still a little woozy and Jim led him to the truck with
one hand on his arm. On the drive back to the loft, Blair tried several times
to clear Lash's face from his mind. He couldn't. "Jim, man.....I don't know
how you found me there, but......"
"Simple detective work, Sandburg."
Jim replied with a grin. "Simple detective work."
Blair laughed a
little. "Yeah, right." he paused. "No, really Jim.....how did you
figure it out?"
"Back at Susan Fraiser's place, I found some duck
down in her tub. Remember what Lash's father said, about how his son had killed
his pet duck?"
Blair nodded, shuddering. How was he ever going to
"Well, the water Carol pulled from the lungs of the other
three victims was contaminated with duck waste. We just had to find a duck pond,
and hope we got lucky."
"God, Jim......there must be hundreds of
duck ponds in the county." Blair was a little shocked. He thought they had
somehow figured out exactly where he was, and came running. Had it really been
pure luck? God, the thought made him shiver.
"No, not quite. We were able
to narrow it down a bit. But, basically, it came down to taking a chance."
Jim parked the truck and they got out. "Call it instinct. A cop's instinct."
Blair followed Jim up to the loft, shaking his head. "I'd rather call
it a Sentinel's instinct."
Jim laughed. "Whatever. It worked, didn't
it?" he pushed open the shattered door and Blair walked inside, glancing
around with a wince.
"Jim.......I'm, sorry about the mess." He saw
the television, the books scattered across the floor, the general destruction
his fight had made.
Jim patted his shoulder, pushing him towards his room.
"Don't worry about it, Chief. All in the line of duty. Now, get some sleep.
We have to go in first thing tomorrow and type up this report."
Blair asked. Jim just smiled, pushing him down the hall.
"In a daring eleventh hour rescue, Detective Ellison saved the life of
a Police Observer by gunning the killer down, moments before he would strike again.
And so, Cascade will sleep easy tonight, because of you, Detective."
laughed along with the other's in the room as the morning news announced his partner's
heroism. He was sitting on the edge of Jim's desk, still feeling a little shaky
about the whole thing.
"Well, I'd say you're guaranteed good press for
the rest of your career." Simon teased.
"Just put in a good word
for me. This is my best side." Carol smiled, pointing to her right cheek
as she passed the desk.
Jim just smiled, looking somewhat embarrassed. Blair
waited until everyone had gone back to their own work, then turned to Jim. "Hey
Jim, last night, when you said I did everything right, did you mean that?"
Blair vaguely remembered Jim telling him that, but he had been so scared, and
confused after Jim's arrival due to the drug, he couldn't remember what he had
Jim nodded, reaching for their coats. "Yeah. You kept your head,
even though you thought you were gonna to die." he tossed Blair his coat
and put his own on.
"You know, the Chinese believe that if you save a
man's life, you become his Blessed Protector, and it's your duty to do that for
the rest of your life." He pulled on his jacket as they walked towards the
"Really?" Jim smiled, laughing a little. They were in the hallway
now. "Well, here's today's rescue."
Blair looked up, pulling his
hair out from under his coat.
"Call to Christine. Beg. Crawl. Whatever
you gotta do."
Blair rolled his eyes, "Yeah, I'm pretty good at that,
Jim was smiling, sage-like. "Don't ever lie to her. Remember...trust.
Blair nodded as they walked toward the elevator, listening
to Jim. He half wondered why a man who's own marriage failed was lecturing him
about commitment, but then, who was he to judge? Jim certainly knew more about
committing than he did, at least where work and friends were concerned. "Speaking
of commitment. I've been thinking about getting a Cascade PD insignia tattooed
right on my chest."
Jim pushed the elevator button and Blair leaned against
the wall. "Above the nipple ring?"
Blair looked at him, startled.
"How'd know about that?"
"Let me tell you something." Jim
was slapping one fist into the other as they waited for the elevator doors to
open. "You get a tatoo, and your Blessed Protector's gonna kick your ass
down seven flights to the lobby." he threw a mock punch and Blair ducked,
"Whoa, hey easy tough guy, come on." The elevator doors
opened and he followed Jim inside. "You really think I'd put something on
my body that I couldn't take off?" He patted Jim lightly on the back, noting
the way his friend was rolling his eyes. "Although, an earring would be nice.
Something tasteful. Maybe a small silver badge?" Jim looked up at the lights,
shaking his head. Blair was laughing as the doors closed.