Blair had just finished warming up dinner when Jim came downstairs
in clean clothes. It was getting dark outside and the rain that had been threatening
all day finally began. "Listen, Jim, all I was saying earlier is that I just
didn't think about what kind of person I'd find as a Sentinel." He set dinner
on the table and went back to the kitchen for milk as Jim sat down. "I mean,
you're a cop, and that makes perfect sense. With your abilities, your job benefits."
He poured the milk, then returned the bottle to the refrigerator. "I just
never thought about what I might have done if I finally found a Sentinel, and
he, or she, turned out to be a real asshole." He sat down and looked at Jim.
He almost added something, but changed his mind, and he could see the recognition
on Jim's face. He always knew when Blair was thinking of something and thought
better of saying it.
"You mean, what if I turned out to be an international
thief, instead of a cop?"
Blair nodded, picking up his fork. "Yeah,
something like that."
Jim ate a mouthful, then looked up at Blair. "What
would you have done?"
"What would you have done,
if I turned out to be a criminal?"
"But you didn't." Blair put
a forkful of linguini in his mouth.
Jim waved his fork in the air at his partner,
"That's not the point. What would you have done, if I turned out to be not
Blair laughed around his mouthful, "Perfect? Jim, don't
"Answer the question." Jim put his fork down
and drank some milk, waiting.
Blair finished swallowing, trying to figure out
just what to say. He honestly didn't know. "I'm not sure." There,
that was the truth, believe it or not. "I'd like to say I wouldn't have
hung around much. I mean, if I could have gotten him into the lab more than you,
maybe studied him for a few months or something, I would have all my answers."
Maybe. It was a good question, and one Blair had asked himself more than
once after having met Jim. What would he have done? He had never been as concerned
with what his Sentinel would be, as he had been with just finding one. It stood
to reason that a Sentinel would be employed in some type of protection work, but
then again, there was no real basis for that assumption. Sentinel abilities were
genetic. Was the profession one chose also genetic in some way? Blair realized
he was sitting there, fork in hand, staring off into space with Jim eyeing him.
"Nothing." Jim returned to his plate, then looked
back up. "Do you think Jennifer has a Sentinel sense of touch?"
rolled his eyes, knowing what Jim was thinking. "I suppose you could find
Jim grinned, then shook his head. "I don't think so, Chief.
We're keeping it professional, remember? Besides, they're the bad guys."
Blair nodded and returned to his dinner. He knew Jim would never compromise
himself for the job, especially with a woman like Jennifer. There had been only
one other time, since his meeting Jim, that he had abandoned all judgment during
a case for a woman. But, that had turned out to be due to his extrasensory response
to pheromones. That was scientific, purely instinctual, and would hopefully never
happen again. This, was just a case. And Diana, as attractive as she was, was
definitely not Blair's type. Sure, she was nice to look at, and dressed for distraction,
but Blair couldn't see himself picking her out of a crowd for a nice conversation.
But what about Jim's question? What would he really have done, if the Sentinel
he finally found had been employed in anything other than a legitimate job? He
had always envisioned himself as a Guide, once he admitted to himself and accepted
the fact that he was NOT a Sentinel himself. And being Jim's Guide was turning
out to be an educational, and life-changing position to be in. But what would
have happened if Jim had refused him? Or if he couldn't stand to be around Jim?
Blair used to have a mental picture of the tribal Sentinel and Guide as two proud,
traditional, devoted men, spending months together alone in the jungles, watching
for trouble and protecting the tribe. But, surely there wasn't danger around every
corner, anymore than there is today. What did they talk about while sitting in
the forest, getting rained on, with nothing else to do for days on end? Were they
always a perfect match? They would have to be, wouldn't they? In order to spend
what would be their entire lives together, often the only two people around for
miles? Human nature didn't change much throughout the centuries. Did the old-time
Sentinel get tired of seeing the same face all day long? Was he always the older,
wiser member of the group? What about some of the Guides? Did they ever get fed
up, and throw in the towel for the sake of their sanity? Or would they think of
the tribe ahead of anything? How did Blair compare to the Guides of so long ago?
There was a whole new aspect for his dissertation that he hadn't really considered.
"What's the plan for tomorrow?" Blair asked, realizing he had been
thinking quietly all through dinner. He picked up both their plates and started
for the kitchen.
"There are four more guests for the auction checking
in tomorrow. I assume we'll try and hit all four." Jim stood and stretched,
then crossed over to the couch and sat down. "The other six are all coming
in the day after. If we hit them all, we might be able to meet this boss of theirs
by the end of the week."
"Four in one day, then six the next? Jim,
can you do that many?" Blair finished scraping the plates and started to
fill the sink with hot water. "You sounded pretty stressed during the job
"We'll split them up, I assume. Jennifer and Diana take two,
we take two."
"Yeah, but then three? And this one was controlled.
We knew when Bryce's man was leaving and that he wouldn't come back until we were
done." The sink was filled so he turned off the water and put the dishes
in to soak. "This will be the real thing."
"I know. That's what
we're here for, Chief. We'll go see Bryce in the morning, let him know what's
Blair nodded and did the dishes, thinking about the fact that
they were going to commit a real crime tomorrow. When he finished, he joined Jim
in the living room. "I don't know, Jim. This could get tricky. I'm worried
about you zoning out in one of those rooms."
Jim shook his head, "You
kept me from going today. That should work again, no problem."
Blair shook his head, leaning forward in his chair. "No, it was easier today.
First of all, there was no one in the hall except Diana, and we wanted her to
know what we were doing. Second of all, we knew Bryce's man wasn't coming back.
This time it's not a controlled experiment. I mean, what if someone comes back?
What if I'm not alone in the hall and can't just start talking to no one? And
if you do zone out, how am I supposed to get into the room if it locks behind
you?" He shook his head again. "No, I don't like this."
too late to back out now, Chief. Besides, you'll keep me from losing it like you
always do, and I'll get us through the job like I always do, okay?"
was quiet for a moment. Jim's faith could scare him sometimes. Finally he nodded,
"How's your neck?"
Jim turned his head around a few times, "Fine.
It was a little stiff, but the shower took care of it. Now, tomorrow might be
another story, so keep those fingers limber."
Blair laughed shortly, "Yeah,
if I don't want to run out of hot water again."
Jim ignored that remark.
"I'd like to get a look at the equipment Jennifer uses to get into the safes.
That setup at the house, they had enough hardware attached to the computer to
keep any trace confused for hours. And they've got someone on the inside at the
hotel; wether or not they know what is being done while they look the other way,
I don't know. But they have to get the stuff to their silent partner somehow.
He either comes for it, or they take it to him. Sounds to me like they'll be finished
with this town after this week."
"Don't you think that after tomorrow's
take, the hotel will be crawling with security? Two guests get robbed of several
million dollars, and the cops would be swarming."
"Bryce will take
care of that."
Blair nodded. He could think of a million more reasons
why something would go wrong, but Jim would have an answer for each one. At least
no one was going to get hurt this time.
The next day, they drove
to Detective Bryce's office and filled him in. After that, and a call to Captain
Banks, they were on their way back to the hotel to meet their new partners. Jim
had the motion sensor in his jacket pocket along with the key decoder, and they
each had their headsets. Jennifer and Diana were waiting for them at the same
table as the other day, so Jim slid in beside her, while Blair sat next to Diana
again, this time trying to keep some distance between them. Immediately a hand
was on his knee and he tried not to pull away. He was attracted to her on a purely
physical level, but nothing more.
"Right on time." Jennifer smiled
at them both, then nodded out to the lobby. "Our first guest has just arrived.
He checked in about three minutes ago, in room 713." She glanced at Blair
and Diana. "I normally send Diana up to scout out the floor, while I wait
down here for the all clear." She looked at Jim, "I like to see the
mark actually leave the hotel and get into a cab before going up. That way I know
I have some time."
Jim nodded, glancing at Blair for a second. "Why
don't we send the kids upstairs, while we wait for the other guests to arrive?"
Blair tried to shoot Jim a nasty glance, but he was being ignored. He didn't
want to leave Jim, and he most definitely didn't want to be alone with Diana for
long. But before he could protest, Diana had snaked an arm around his and was
pushing him out of the bench.
"We'll head up to the seventh floor and
get comfortable," she said.
Blair was still trying to glare at Jim, but
when his partner looked at him he just smiled and nodded towards the lobby with
his head. "Let us know when he leaves the room."
"Do we know
he's alone?" Blair asked, glaring at Jennifer now.
she replied. "We'll take this one, if he leaves soon. After we get another
check-in, Diana can cover the new one." She turned to Jim. "Three of
them are going to be on the same floor. Maybe we'll get a chance to work together."
Jim was replying to her, but Blair didn't get to hear it as Diana was pulling
him toward the elevators. Once inside, Blair thanked every god he had ever heard
about that they were not alone in the car. At the seventh floor, they proceeded
together down the corridor until they came to room 713. The room was farther down
the hallway, towards the corner that mirrored the vantage point Blair had yesterday
while he watched out for Jim. They paused at the door, then proceeded on around
the corner and down the other hallway a few doors, until the lady behind them
rounded the corner and entered her room. Once clear, they went back to the corner
and each took a seat in the padded chairs set up with a small table between them.
Diana removed a headset from her purse, and Blair took his from his pants pocket,
putting it on his right ear. Hers was somewhat smaller, and she raised a hand
to her head when a guest passed by so as to hide the instrument.
you," she said when they were alone in the corridor. "I had long hair
once, and it was a perfect cover for this contraption."
cut it?" Blair asked, trying to picture her in long hair.
at a boyfriend and just started whacking. I guess I was feeling aggressive or
something." She shrugged. "Should have cut his while he slept I suppose."
Blair nodded, then turned to see who was coming off the elevator. After the
couple passed them, he turned back to Diana. "How long have you two been
"Oh, I dunno. Maybe three or four years. Who counts?"
She glanced down the right-side hallway as they heard a door. "What about
you and Don Juan?"
Blair was taken aback for a second by her reference,
but he quickly recovered. "Not long, really. Not quite a year." He watched
the man who had exited his room pass them and walk to the elevators. As the gentleman
passed, he gave Diana a long look. "Don't they start to wonder, seeing the
two of you at these hotels for so long?"
She shook her head, "No.
We only work one hotel for no more than a week, and the staff just figure us for
working girls. You know, the professional type. The one's that high-paying guests
might call in while they're in town. Hotels like these don't make waves for high
priced guests. Actually, I'm surprised they haven't gotten into the business of
supply and demand themselves. Think of the money the hotel could bring in on the
side if they provided their own."
Blair just raised his eyebrows for a
second and nodded. Her comment reminded him of Amber, and that in turn reminded
him of Zeller. Which all served to remind him of why going undercover with Jim
could be not such a desirable thing to do sometimes. Calm down, there's no
target painted on your butt this time. Just then the door to room 713 opened.
Blair and Diana watched as a gentleman in his fifties stepped out, tested the
door before putting his key-card back into his pocket, and walked to the elevators.
Diana reached into her purse and pulled out a small beeper-sized box and punched
a button. Within seconds, Jim was on the headset.
"Sandburg, which elevator
is he in?"
"The far right. He's wearing a black wool jacket."
Blair answered, hearing Diana tell Jennifer the same thing. "Looks like he's
dressed for the weather."
There was a pause, "Here he is. He's hailing
a cab." Then to Jennifer, "Who gets this one?"
two more check-ins, both for the seventh floor." Jim paused again and Blair
turned to Diana as she spoke to Jennifer.
"Okay, come on up. I can handle
it. Those rooms are just around the other side. We could hit them all this afternoon
if they leave."
"Sandburg, Jennifer is coming up to take room 713.
The other two check-ins are heading up in the left elevator, rooms 719 and 724.
Keep an eye on them."
"Right." This was getting complicated.
Jennifer stepped off of the elevator before the other guests arrived, moving straight
to room 713. She used the same device Jim had to open the door, then stepped inside
just as the second elevator opened. Blair and Diana switched seats, so she had
a more straight on view of the room her partner was in while Blair kept an eye
on the new arrivals as they approached their rooms. Each of the two men that passed
him was carrying a brief case with a small silver handcuff and chain, securing
them to their property. Ten minutes later, just as Jennifer was coming out of
room 713, Jim announced the arrival of guest number four.
Blair said, speaking quietly into the microphone. He watched as Jennifer calmly
shut the door behind her, glanced at them for a moment, then walked to the elevators
and pressed a button. As she waited for the car, Blair saw the man from room 724
come out and walk down the corridor towards her. "Jim, room 724 is coming
down. The same car as Jennifer."
"Got it." Jim replied. "You
ready to go to work, Chief?"
"Hang on...here comes room 719, too."
Blair watched the second man come out of the room, spray his breath with an atomizer
from his jacket pocket, then walk towards them, smiling at Diana as he passed.
He had just missed the elevator Jennifer and room 724's guest were in, so he pressed
the button and waited, still smiling at Diana.
"He's getting into a cab.
I'm coming up." Jim's voice was clear enough to Blair, but he knew Diana
couldn't hear it. As soon as the elevator opened up, and guest 719 got in, he
"Jennifer will take room 719, as soon as Mr. Friendly takes
off." She turned to Blair, "This is turning out to be a good day. Maybe
we'll get this wrapped up in time for some dinner?"
Blair tried to smile.
"Maybe." God, he didn't want to spend too much time alone with her.
It hadn't taken Jennifer long to get into the safe, but Blair hadn't seen what
method she used. He had decided the idea of her having a Sentinel sense of touch
was just too far-fetched. She had to have equipment like that which had been given
to Jim by Fingers McCoy. Even if she did turn out, against all odds, to have one
sense...she couldn't possibly have all five. Blair really didn't expect to find
another Sentinel anywhere near Cascade during his lifetime. After all, one was
enough for any Guide to handle.
Jim came off the elevator and walked towards
Diana and Blair as they sat in the corner, watching. He didn't pause, but continued
down the other side to room 724, swiped the key-card through the lock, and went
inside. "Jennifer is coming up in the next car, so Diana will be occupied."
"Good." Blair replied over the headpiece.
Jim smiled to himself
and found the room safe behind the dresser mirror. "Okay, Chief, here goes."
He took hold of the tumbler and let his tactile sense become prominent in his
mind, feeling the metal underneath his fingers take on a larger-than-life feel.
"Jennifer's in her room." Blair's voice was inside his head and Jim
mentally took hold of it to keep from falling into a sensory trance as he moved
the tumbler into its first position. He remembered to breathe, and turned the
dial in the opposite direction. The tumbler had magnified itself in Jim's mind,
and through his sensitive fingers he could envision the inner workings of the
lock, even to the point of feeling the wear and tear this safe had been through
in the years since it was first installed. His mind began to pull him into the
safe as the focus intensified itself. He began to feel smaller and smaller, and
a voice in the back of his mind was trying to call to him, trying to pull him
back out of the safe. Jim could feel his heart begin to race with the effort it
took to hear the voice, then the tumbler hit a combination, and the teeth falling
into place sent a jarring through his arm and up to his tensed neck.