Jim looked at him again before pulling out. Blair was smiling, but
there was a look of curiosity about his face. "Privacy like you knowing my
PIN numbers, my parent's birthdays, things like that?"
different, Jim. I need to know everything that makes you. It's all a
part of these Sentinel senses. All a part of the whole picture. I need to know
it all if I'm going to understand how it all works."
Jim nodded. "Right.
And that goes for you too." He glanced at Blair. "I need to know everything
there is about you, if I'm going understand this Guide thing." Blair looked
at him for a long time, not saying a word. When Jim glanced at him again, his
face was a mix of puzzlement and exhaustion. "Let's get you home before you
By the time they reached the loft, Blair was barely able
to stand with help. Jim could only support him by holding his shoulders, careful
not to touch his chest or ribcage in any way. He got the door unlocked with one
hand, pushed it open with a foot, and took Blair straight to his room.
hanging in there, Chief?" He helped Blair sit on the bed, then brought his
friend's chin up gently so he could meet Blair's eyes.
voice was a little slurred but he nodded. "These drugs, man. I'm getting
tired of being so tired."
"I know. It'll pass soon enough. You should
enjoy all this sleeping in while it lasts." Jim reached down and pulled off
Blair's left shoe. "Come on, get some rest." He tossed the shoe to the
other side of the room, barely missing the closet, then took off the other one.
Blair managed to get the zipper of the jacket down, and Jim eased it off his shoulders,
then supported him as he lay down. He was asleep the instant his head hit the
Jim brought Blair's legs onto the bed, then slid the sweat pants off
and pulled the blankets up. One more quick exam told him his partner would be
out for several hours. Jim picked up the shoes and put them inside the closet,
then stacked the sweats on top of the dresser. He left Blair's door open and went
to the living room, remembering then that the files were still in the truck. With
both ears tuned into Blair's room, Jim hurried down to the truck and retrieved
the box. Blair was still sound asleep, but he closed the front door quietly. After
making a sandwich, he sat on the couch with the files and started to go over the
first three kidnappings.
The MO of the first three was unfaltering. Same method
of taking their victims in public places. Each victim held within a few miles
of where they had been taken. Each victim beaten, and videotaped, with the ransom
demands dubbed over the original tape. Two ransoms paid, with directions that
were so convoluted, even Mills' own men had lost the trail. Each of the paid cases,
the money wasn't marked, as is normal procedure. The kidnappers had claimed knowledge
of such actions, and would kill the hostages if the money turned out to be marked
in any way. Each time, tracking devices had been put in place inside the briefcase
used to transport the money, and each time, the devices were dumped just before
reaching their destination. And this time, with the demand for 2.5 million dollars
or the death of Raymond Whatcom, the MO was the same right down to the timing
of each beating. Surely the FBI had enough on them for a complete conviction?
Jim's jaw clenched again at the memory of Raymond, telling them he was Blair
Sandburg, knowing full well what those men were about to do to Blair. They had
found Blair's ID back at the Twisted Pearl, right where Raymond said they would.
According to Eugene, Raymond's father, his son had a penchant for small, petty
crime. Not uncommon among rich children, it was seen as a dare. Something to do,
Raymond had said. He reached out and retrieved the copy of the tape containing
the first three kidnappings that Agent Mills had left with him. He shoved it into
the machine, then paused, listening for Blair's sleeping pattern of breathing.
He'd be out till tomorrow, most likely. Still, Jim turned the volume almost completely
off, and then let the tape play.
After three hours of watching, rewinding,
and watching again, Jim felt his eyelids get too heavy to continue. His head was
pounding from watching the same three beatings over and over, trying to find something,
anything, that would explain this nagging feeling at the back of his mind. He
failed. And still, a second tape remained on the table. A tape containing his
partner being beaten in Raymond Whatcom's place. He'd reached for it several times,
but each time stopped short of putting it into the machine. Back at the Station,
he and Agent Mills had viewed it, but Jim couldn't get past the vision of Blair
being hit over and over. He couldn't even make out the background, or the words
that had been dubbed over the video. All he saw, was his partner, in pain. In
Jim shut off the television and tossed the remote to the chair
beside the couch, rubbing tired eyes. He used the bathroom, then checked in on
Blair who was still sleeping soundly. Jim was about to settle in on the chair
in the far corner of Blair's room when he heard the quiet knock on the front door.
He shut the door to Blair's room this time, and went to the front door. He
could tell it was Simon before he even reached the door. The lingering smell of
a newly extinguished cigar permeated the air.
"Hey, Captain, come in."
Jim held the door while Simon entered, shrugging out of his coat as he stepped
into the living room. "Is something up?"
said as Jim took his coat. "Just had an interesting conversation with Raymond's
father." He crossed the room and sat, glancing at Blair's room. "Is
"Asleep," Jim replied. "What did you find out?"
He joined his Captain on the couch.
Simon sighed deeply, shaking his head.
"He's not too fond of his son right now, I can tell you that. Seems not only
has he been in some trouble before, but right now there's that small matter of
his possibly having gotten a young society girl pregnant."
"Not only that, but it's not the first time this subject has
come up, according to his father." Simon glanced around the room. "Hey,
how about a beer, huh? I'm officially off duty now, and so are you."
smiled. "Sure." He went to the kitchen and retrieved two beers, popping
the caps off and tossing them into the trash before returning to the couch. "Here
"Thanks. Been one hell of a day." Simon took a long
pull on the beer, then sat farther back on the couch. "Back in Montana, last
year, Raymond was accused of raping a girl. Date rape from what Mr. Whatcom says."
"Did it go to court?"
"No. Settled for an undisclosed amount.
From what I gathered, it was a pretty large sum. That was the summer before Raymond
transferred out here to Rainier University."
"There's still something
about this case that doesn't add up, Simon."
"The two men." Jim set his beer on the coffee table and leaned forward.
"Edwards and Patterson, they're none too bright. Mills said that the kidnappers
knew about money being marked, and knew ways of detecting it."
was probably just common sense. Maybe the only sense these two can be accused
"I can't help but think those convoluted directions for
the money to be delivered were done that way on purpose. Not because the men giving
them didn't know what they were doing, but because they did." Simon looked
puzzled, so Jim continued. "Blair was unconscious in the mens room when I
came in, and so was Raymond. It would take at least two men, surprising them both,
to get them down that quickly. And I was hit from behind. This was a crowded club,
and still no one sees or hears anything? Then there's the small matter of getting
three of us out of the club." Jim shook his head. "And why, when it
was Raymond they wanted, did they bother taking me and Blair?"
must have thought Blair was Raymond at that point. When they checked ID's."
"Right. But then why take two more?"
Simon nodded slowly. "Unless
they thought one or both of you could identify them."
Jim shook his head.
There were a lot of unanswered questions. "So, they were prepared to kill
a cop as well as one other innocent man."
"Must have figured 2.5
million for three lives was a bargain."
"There still has to be a
third man, here, Simon. That door swung inward. And I was taken out the instant
I opened it. There's no way someone hiding inside could have done that."
Jim's headache had returned with a vengeance. "This case isn't closed, Captain."
"It's still the FBI's case, Jim. And frankly, I'm too tired to think about
it anymore tonight." Simon stood and retrieved his coat. "I'll talk
to Mills tomorrow, see what they've come up with. I'll keep you informed."
There was no easy way around this one, and Jim knew it. He shut the door behind
his Captain, then turned and looked back at Blair's room. His partner was still
It was only 6:30, too early to go to bed himself. He thought
about making dinner, but he wasn't hungry. There was a hockey game on, but Jim
felt no compulsion to turn on the television. He was left with his thoughts, and
those kept dragging him back to the same topic. A topic he still had trouble figuring
out what to do with. He couldn't keep putting Blair into these situations, getting
him kidnapped, beaten, even shot once. What the hell was he thinking? Letting
some anthropologist come along on dangerous police assignments just because of
these senses of his? Was he ever going to learn to control them, use them? What
good were they if he couldn't control them?
"You can control them.
That's what I'm here for."
Jim spun around, and saw no one. Blair's
door was still closed, and a quick focus into the room was answered by the quiet
pattern of a sleeper. Jim's heart skipped a beat and he glanced around the loft
again. What the hell? He'd heard Blair's voice plain as day. Jim shook
his head, then picked up his half finished beer and took another drink. It had
been a long week, he was tired, that's all. Tired of seeing Blair in that hospital
bed. Maybe it was time he ended the entire partnership, let Blair stay there if
he needed a place to live, but no more police work.
Even as the thoughts formed
themselves, Jim knew the answer. He could no more make Blair stay away from the
Station than he could fly. No, this was stupid. It wouldn't work. Blair could
go back to being an anthropologist, maybe even publish that paper, then go on
to get his doctorate, and no longer need Jim. Then he could go back to being a
cop, working alone, trying to handle these senses and the job. He'd have to eventually,
"That's why you need me to watch your back."
head spun around, sure that time he'd find Blair standing right behind him. Again
he was alone in the living room, Blair still asleep in his own room. Jim set his
beer down, then ran a hand over his short hair. There was a thought tugging at
the back of his mind, but he wasn't sure he wanted to grasp it. Probably Raymond.
The thought of Raymond, cowering in the corner like that, letting everyone assume
Blair was him. Jim wanted to beat the crap out of the younger man, let him see
and feel what Blair had felt. Let him experience the gut-wrenching terror that
Jim had felt, knowing what was about to happen, and being helpless to stop it.
"It's about control, Jim."
That was it! Jim stood and
walked to Blair's room, opening the door slowly even though he was certain he'd
find Blair standing there, talking to him. His partner greeted him with a gentle
snore. Jim stood for a long while, staring down at Blair's sleeping form. The
bruise around his eye was nearly gone, and he was sleeping through the day without
the pain waking him. As he stood there, Jim felt oddly detached. It was as if
the world had been locked outside, Raymond included, and he was being compelled
to look inside. But inside where, and for what, he didn't understand.
Satisfied his partner was asleep, he shut the door and returned to the living
room. His stomach growled and he only then realized it was 8:30. Two hours! Two
hours had passed, and he'd done nothing but sit there thinking. How could that
much time have gone by? His stomach growled again and he took it to the kitchen.
Keeping his mind on fixing dinner would help pass the time, and there would be
no more hearing voices, surely. It would have to be something slightly complicated,
he knew, to keep his thoughts from straying. Stir fry. Not terribly complicated,
but it would occupy his thoughts and his hands.
An hour later Jim sat down
at the table, wondering if Blair should be waking up. He seemed to be sleeping
soundly, and bed rest was exactly what he needed. But right now, Jim felt he needed
to talk. He picked up the phone as he began to twirl the chopsticks with his other
hand, but his finger stopped over the keypad, not sure what number to dial. He
could call Simon, but he had already stated his position on the matter. Pushing
the issue wouldn't get him anywhere. He could call Beverly Sanchez, she was always
a good listener. Jim started to punch in her number, then stopped. He had no idea
what he wanted her to listen to. Frustrated, he set the phone down and concentrated
on eating. When he finished, he cleaned the kitchen to within an inch of its life,
then checked in on Blair again. As he watched, Blair sighed and turned his head,
settling back into a deep sleep.
Jim backed out of the room and left the door
open again, returning to the couch. He clicked on the television, adjusted the
volume, then began to flip through the channels. His mind wasn't on anything in
particular, and after two runs through the entire cable list, he settled on a
documentary about the history of flight. Jim tossed the remote to the other side
of the couch, got comfortable against the cushions, and watched the program with
It was hot, hotter than it should be, and Jim
was beginning to sweat. He reached up to remove his sweater, only to find he wasn't
wearing one. Groggily, Jim opened his eyes and wiped the sweat from his forehead.
How did it get so hot in the evening? A sound behind him forced both eyes open
wide as Jim became instantly alert. He wasn't sitting on the couch anymore. He
wasn't even in the loft anymore. Surrounding him on all sides, was a jungle of
cement and wires. It was some kind of warehouse, with wires hanging from gaping
holes in the ceiling, many of them shooting off blue sparks into the darkness
that enveloped him.
Oh God. "Sandburg!" Where was he? It
was night, and sparks flying from the wires lit up the room with an eery, flashing
blue. Jim reached out with his senses, and found nothing. Nothing! He
couldn't pick up any more sounds than the ones directly near him. Jim's heart
began to beat faster, and the sweat was building on his upper lip. "Sandburg!"
Okay, calm down. Switch to sight. That's it, use your eyes. Jim changed
focus, peering through the heavy cables and cement pillars. Nothing!
He heard a low growl and spun around, seeing nothing. Oh God, not again.
He was alone, and his senses were out of control. How could this be? He had taken
that step, made the commitment. Why had his senses left him again? And where was
Blair? Jim's heartrate was rapid, his breathing quick. He had to calm down! Just
calm down and concentrate. The spitting sound of wild electricity was getting
louder, but not due to his Sentinel senses. He couldn't even focus on one of them.
"Blair!" That's it, he had to go looking for his partner, and he'd
have to do it the old-fashioned way. Jim glanced around, trying to judge where
he was, where Blair might be. There was nothing but darkness in every direction.
Cement pillars, huge dangling cables, loose wires spitting blue fire. Dammit,
Sandburg, where the hell are you? Jim picked a direction and started
to push through the cables. Blair couldn't be far. He'd have to circle around,
make his search in a grid pattern, figure out what kind of building this was,
and rely on his old army training if his senses weren't going to help. He'd find
Jim sat up with a start, instantly awake.
He spun around, seeing Blair standing next to the couch, one arm
wrapped around his side.
"What are you doing out here?"
dream? He was on the couch, the sun streaming in from the windows. The television
was still on, displaying the morning news. "I must have fallen asleep out
here." God, he wassweating. The faint sounds of a toilet ending
its flush filled Jim's ears, and he realized his sense of hearing was back to
its ultra-sensitive level. "What are you doing up?"
his face, then let his left hand run through his hair, keeping his right arm close
to his injured side. "I had to go to the bathroom. Besides, I've been asleep
Jim cleared his throat, trying to recover the rest of
his composure after that dream. He felt as though he hadn't been to sleep yet.
"The doctor gave you something. Sleep is what you needed." He got off
the couch slowly and stretched tired muscles, then found the remote control and
one of his socks stuffed behind the cushions. Flipping off the television he pulled
off the other sock. "How are you feeling now?"
Blair nodded, looking
tired still. "Better. I'm just tired of lying down, you know?"
Chief, until you can stand up without looking so pale, I think you'd better get
used to it." He took Blair by the shoulder and turned him around gently.
"I'm fine, Jim. Just let me sit down." Blair resisted the hand urging
him back to his room. "As long as I'm moving slowly, I'm okay."
paused, looking at Blair. The blueness of his partner's eyes caught his, and for
one instant, he saw the pupils change shape, then quickly return to their normal
"Jim, what's wrong?"
Jim shook himself slightly, then
shook his head to cover the action. "Nothing. You hungry?" He pulled
out a chair and helped Blair ease himself down.
"Yeah, a little."
"Good. Let me grab a quick shower and I'll fix breakfast." Jim waited
there until Blair nodded, then he walked upstairs to his room for some clean clothes.
His heart was still beating quickly, and he scanned the room for any sign of the
panther. Something was tickling the back of his mind, and he fully expected to
see the jungle cat there, waiting for him. The room was empty. He went back downstairs
with clean shorts and hurried into the bathroom.
"Jim, what's happening
with the case?" Blair called from the dining room.
"Not much. Agent
Mills has taken over, so it's out of our hands." Jim kept the bathroom door
half open so he could reply, then turned on the water and began to brush his teeth.
"That doesn't sound like you, Jim."
Jim came out of the bathroom,
towel in hand. "Why do you say that?"
"There's something not
right about this one, Jim. It's just not like you to stop before it's over."
If it wasn't for his partner's slightly stooped posture, and the lingering
bruise on his face, Jim would have sworn Blair was his usual chipper self. "That's
something for the FBI to work out, Chief. As far as you and I are concerned, it
is over. " Jim returned to the bathroom and turned on the shower.