That afternoon they met Diana and Jennifer in the lobby, once again
waiting for the last four guests to arrive. They didn't have long to wait. At
precisely 3:00, all four arrived in two cabs, chatting with each other as they
approached the desk. Diana was sent up to the seventh floor to watch for one of
them, and Blair to the eighth to watch for the other three. He was grateful to
be away from her for as long as it would last. It was obvious to Blair from the
moment they met up again that Diana had treated herself before coming. There was
even a small amount of white still under her nose when she stood next to him by
the elevator, which she quickly sniffed away. On the way up, they were alone in
"When do we get to have some fun, hum?" Diana reached over
and put both arms around Blair's waist, reaching down to put her hands in his
pockets. "Just you and me?"
Blair raised his eyebrows and tried to
pull his head a little farther away from hers, "Maybe when this is all over?"
He was trying his best to keep playing along, but he knew if they didn't get this
case wrapped up soon, he was going to lose it.
She sighed dramatically and
pulled her hands out of his pockets as the elevator doors opened. "Promise?"
He nodded and she left the car. Blair pressed the door close button, then hit
the next floor. Once there, he found the rooms he was to watch and sat down in
the ever-present corner chairs. A few minutes later, his three arrived, each carrying
"What's the status?" Jim's voice came over the headpiece.
"They just came up." Blair watched as they entered their rooms. Ten
minutes later, room 811 opened up, followed by 809. "Two just came out. 811
and 809. They're heading to the elevators together." Blair watched as they
stopped at room 804 and knocked. The door opened and they spoke briefly with its
occupant, then proceeded to the elevator. "Room 804 doesn't want to come."
Several minutes later, room 804 opened and it's occupant came out. "Hang
on, he's decided to join them."
"These two went into the bar,"
Jim said. "We're coming up."
doing room 809. I'll be in 811."
"What about Diana? Is she coming
"No, she'll keep watching 732. They all went into the bar."
Blair waited until he heard the elevator doors open, then spotted Jim coming
out. "Jim, if the safe's new, don't try it. Let me in the room first."
"Just hang on, Chief. Let's have a look first."
I'm serious." He tried to keep his voice a whisper as two ladies walked passed,
glancing at him and smiling. When he was able to look down the corridor again,
Jim was already inside. Jennifer came off of the second elevator and walked straight
to room 809, getting in without a hitch.
"No problem, it's not new."
"Jim." He didn't know if that was the truth, or intended to make
him feel better.
"Trust me, Sandburg."
Blair was silent, listening
to Jim's breathing over the headset. "Talk to me, Jim."
the first two. Going for the second. This safe is pretty old. I think even Fingers
could do it."
"Jennifer's in the room. Does she use a motion sensor?"
"Yep. Two more numbers. This one could practically open itself."
"Don't get cocky, Jim." He heard laughter then and rolled his eyes.
"Got it. Is she out yet?"
Blair glanced down
the hall, "No." What was this, a competition? "Here she
comes." The door to room 809 opened at the same time as room 811. Blair watched
Jennifer walk to the elevators, stopping to speak to Jim, then Jim moved over
to room 804 and used the decoder to get inside. "Where's she going?"
"To 732. Diana just told her it was empty."
"Jim, how do
you feel? Any trouble?" Blair couldn't see his partner from where he sat
well enough to know if he was feeling any of last night's tension.
fine. This should be the last one, partner. Then we're home free."
shook his head and glanced down each corridor. He'd had enough two days ago. One
more, then they could...what? Go spend several hours in a strange house with two
very strange women while they waited for some strange man to come along? God,
how did undercover cops do this for a living? The unpredictability bordered
"Good news, it's just as old as the last one."
Just get it open and let's get out of here."
Blair realized he hadn't been paying attention. If Jim was halfway through,
and he hadn't been talking to him...it was just damn lucky that was an older safe.
The elevator bell chimed and Blair glanced down the hallway. "Someone's coming."
"Jim, it's Diana." Blair looked at her
quizzically as she approached. "What are you doing here?"
ready for that party now." Diana sat down in Blair's lap, putting both arms
around his neck.
"Jim, she's stoned." Blair tried to fight her off
from around his neck. Her face was blocking his view of the hallway, and her hands
were going down his back. "Where's Jennifer?"
"She's in the
room. They really don't need us." She leaned back and looked at Blair. "Let's
go wait for Hank and split her share."
Just then Jim came out of the room
and hurried over to the two of them. "Come on." He lifted Diana off
of Blair so he could stand, then the three of them entered the elevator and Jim
pressed the seventh floor button. "Where's Jennifer?"
room. She doesn't need me anymore." Diana swayed slightly and leaned into
Before the doors even opened at the seventh floor, Blair saw Jim raise
a hand and hit the door close button, preventing them from opening. "Trouble."
He hit the lobby floor and turned to Blair. "Security caught her."
are we gonna do?" Blair was trying to push Diana off but she was leaning
on him and snaking a hand into his pocket.
"Harry's coming in today. He'll
know what to do," she said, looking up at Jim.
"We'll go to the house."
Blair let Jim lead the way to the truck as he and Diana followed. In the lobby
they had seen several security guards rushing about and uniformed officers driving
up to the hotel. Jim drove them back to the house, and Blair spotted another car
parked at the side of the building.
"Must be Harry," he said, glancing
at Jim. Diana was sitting between them and she nodded,
"Yep. That's Harry.
Come on inside, I'll introduce you." They parked next to the rental car and
Diana led the way to the front door. "He's gonna be pissed."
They met Harry the minute they walked into the
house. He was short, and reeked of cigars even though there were none in the house
or on his person. Blair guessed him for mid-fifties, and some type of business
man judging by his clothes. But what business?
"So where's the loot?"
Harry glanced from Jim to Blair, then back to Diana. "You didn't bring out
the loot? You get Jennifer caught and you don't even bring out the take? "
"She said we'd collect it tomorrow morning," Diana replied, crossing
the room to sit on the couch. "Besides, I think she was starting to skim,
"What? Jennifer wouldn't skim from me, little missy. If anyone
was skimming from me, it'd be you. Stupid bitch." He looked at Jim, sizing
him up. "So, I guess you're the safe man?"
Blair would have been
offended by the assumption that classed him with Diana instead of Jennifer, if
it had been any other circumstance. As it was, he was more than happy to once
again be able to defer to Jim.
"That's right. Looks like you just lost
"Yeah, well maybe I just gained another." He paced the
room for a moment, then turned back to them. "You're gonna go back there
and get the loot tonight. During the confusion, they'll be searching all the rooms
once the others get wind of a robbery. You slip in there and clean out what you
managed to get." He looked at Jim again. "I'm betting with that look,
they'll figure you for some dumb cop anyway." He nodded to himself, "Yeah,
you'll pass. They're none too smart around these parts, anyway."
about Jennifer's cut?" Jim asked.
"It's yours," Harry replied.
"If you come back with it. Try and skim from me, and you'll regret it."
Jim nodded and reached out for Blair's arm, "Come on, Chief."
uh," They both turned around and found themselves staring at a 357. "The
little one stays with me."
Blair looked at Jim, then back to Harry. Not
"They'll never buy him as a cop. Besides, he can keep Diana
off my back till you come with the goods." Harry motioned for Blair to move
to the living room.
Blair didn't move at first, then the gun was cocked. "Go
ahead, I won't be long." Jim said, nodding for him to do what he said. Jim
then turned to Harry, "Anything happens to him, I'll kill you."
a deal," Harry replied.
Blair watched as Jim glanced at him, then left
the house and drove back down the driveway. Harry pushed him into a chair and
Diana left once again for the bathroom. Harry had reached into a jacket pocket
and pulled out a set of handcuffs.
"Use these when I'm feeling frisky,"
he said, tossing the cuffs to Blair. "But for now, I guess they'll come in
handy for what they were intended for. Put them on, behind your back."
did as he was told, securing his own right wrist. Before he put his arms behind
him, Diana reappeared and Harry told her to finish cuffing his wrists. She happily
obliged, tightening each one after wrapping them between the slats of the hardback
chair he was in.
"You know, Harry, I've been thinking. We never had any
trouble before these two." Diana was still standing behind Blair and she
began to stroke his hair, running long fingers through the curls. "Cute as
he is, I think it's all their fault."
Harry was pacing the living room,
having put the gun back into his jacket. "It's all your fault, Diana. Just
like always." He paused and looked at her. "You and that habit that
keeps eating away at your profit margin." He shook his head, "When are
you going to learn? Just say no."
"Funny, Harry. Coming from you
that's real funny." She stopped stroking Blair's hair and crossed the room
to stand in front of Harry. "Seeing as how it was you that drove me to it."
"Damn you, woman!"
Blair could tell he was furious. God, just
my luck, stuck in a room with two psychos. Harry suddenly marched over to
where Blair was sitting and looked at him.
"I can't hit a woman. Never
could. So you'll have to do."
Before Blair could react, a huge fist slammed
into his jaw, snapping his head back. He tasted blood immediately and had to fight
the black spots that danced across his eyes.
"God, Harry, that was crude."
Diana pushed Harry away from Blair and looked down at him.
Blair moved his
jaw a little, trying to decide if it was broken. He looked past Diana to Harry.
"You know, I've hit a woman. It's really very liberating."
smiled and nodded. "I'll try it sometime, kid." He looked at Diana then
and pointed a finger at her. "One more word out of you, and I'll take his
She marched past Harry and into the kitchen. Blair watched as
the now not-so-silent partner walked to the windows and looked outside. Where
were Bryce's men? Jim would be back soon, and it would all end peacefully,
right? Diana returned, carrying a washcloth, and sat down on Blair's lap, straddling
"Let me see that." She reached out for his jaw and he pulled
away, "Come on, you're bleeding."
bleeding." Blair tried to pull away but there wasn't anywhere for him to
go with her in his lap. She took his jaw in her hand and held him still, dabbing
his split lip with the wet cloth. "Don't worry about Harry, he's never killed
anyone before, and he's not going to start now." She kept dabbing the cut
until it stopped bleeding, then she tossed the cloth to the table. "Besides,
if we've lost Jennifer, we'll need another partner."
another safe cracker," Blair said, trying to get some distance between her
face and his. She was stroking his hair again and gazing at his mouth.
sat straighter and began to run her hands across his shoulders, rubbing up and
down his arms. "Oh, I dunno. Your partner's pretty good."
what do we need you for?" He wanted her off his lap, but she wasn't taking
the hint. Instead, her hands moved from his shoulders to his chest, unbuttoning
the three buttons of his shirt. One hand slipped down inside and began to caress
his chest. Blair didn't want to do anything to encourage or antagonize her. He
glanced over at Harry, but the man was busy concentrating on the driveway. Diana
bent her head and kissed his chest, pushing the top of his shirt open. Blair had
to turn his head to the side to keep her hair from his face. She was
licking him now, trying to twirl his chest-hair around her tongue. How
far was this going to go? Come on, Jim, don't let me down here. She sat
up again and touched his bruised chin gently,
"You'll need me to show
you the ropes. I've been to all the good hotels, I know the best way in and out
of each and every one." She leaned forward then and kissed him on the lips,
trying to force her tongue between his tightly clenched teeth.
to pull back, but her other hand was holding the back of his head. His mouth was
sore, and all he could taste was blood, but there was nothing he could do. She
gave up trying to get her tongue inside and began to suck on his lower lip. He
tried to tell her to stop, but her mouth was covering too much of his. Finally,
she sat back, wiping some of his blood from the corner of her mouth. Her hand
was still down his shirt and she smiled,
"I like a man with a hairy chest,"
she purred. "Not too much, not too little."
"God, Diana, take
a cold shower," Harry called from the windows.
"Leave me alone!"
she shouted back. "He promised me some fun, and I'm ready."
said when the job was over," Blair said, trying to shift a little in the
chair so he wouldn't lose all the feeling in his legs as she sat on him. "It's
not over, yet."
"Soon." She removed her hand from his shirt
and grabbed the hair on either side of his head, leaning in for another kiss,
harder this time. She ran her fingernails through his hair, close to the scalp,
moving from front to back, then down his neck.
There was nowhere he could go,
even when her hands left his neck and started to pull the shirt out of his pants,
he was pinned down. Hands started up his back from underneath the shirt, and fingernails
began to dig in. He turned his head, trying to get her off, but she turned with
him. Come on Harry, now would be a good time to try hitting a woman.
Her hands were up and down his back, both caressing and scratching. Then they
moved to his stomach, pushing up under the shirt to reach his chest, then back
down. He was glad then that the nipple ring was gone, he didn't need her playing
with that, too. Blair struggled, trying to get her to stop before the hands went
anywhere else, but he couldn't move. He tried to bite her lip, but she liked that
and laughed from deep inside her throat. One hand reached down and began to work
his belt, trying to unhook it as the other hand continued to stroke his chest.
Blair was certain he heard a voice, but Diana had
released his abused mouth and was sucking on his ear, playing with his earrings
in her mouth. Suddenly she was off of him and screaming. Blair looked up to see
Harry pulling her off as Jim crossed the room towards them.
"I said enough!"
Harry swung his fist and hit Diana square on the jaw, sending her to the floor.
He shook his fist and turned to Blair. "You were right, kid. That did feel
"Get him loose," Jim demanded,
looking at Blair. "I brought it all." He was holding a briefcase but
didn't set it down until Harry fished out the keys to the handcuffs and handed
them to him. He set the case down then and stepped behind Blair. "You okay,
Chief?" At first he'd thought Diana was just getting fresh, but then when
Harry pulled her off, he could see blood running down Blair's chin.
am now," Blair replied, rubbing his wrists now that they were free of the
cuffs. "Another minute with her and I wouldn't be so sure."
his shoulder for a moment, then took a closer look at his bleeding lip. "Jennifer's
been arrested." He glanced at Diana sitting on the floor, glaring up at Harry.
"We want our cut now." Jim stepped over to Harry as he was examining
the stolen goods.
"Yeah, yeah, it a minute," Harry replied.
This whole town is going to be crawling with cops in a minute." Jim moved
closer and closed the lid to the case.
Harry shot him a dirty look, then nodded.
"Okay. The deal is, I buy this from you at an assumed value." He walked
over to the kitchen, then returned with his own briefcase. "There's an itemized
list here of what was to be auctioned. As soon as I can compare what you've brought
to the list, we'll have a figure."
Jim nodded and watched as Harry compared
each gold coin and gemstone with the list in his notebook. Diana had roused herself
and was pouting in the corner, nursing a swelling lip. He sent Blair to the kitchen
to put ice on his face after he was satisfied that the split lip was his only
real injury. Getting back into the hotel to retrieve the stolen goods had been
a snap, of course. Detective Bryce was there to help, and explain how a hotel
security guard had walked in on Jennifer while she was unloading the safe. When
Diana left her post, room 732's occupant returned unexpectedly. They collected
the loot, then followed Jim back to the house at a discreet distance to await
his signal. Walking in to see Blair cuffed to a chair and bleeding from the mouth,
with Diana crawling inside his shirt, stirred every protective instinct Jim had.
He was going to enjoy this arrest. Jim had a partner once before, but Jack was
the older, wiser one then. Now, being with Blair both on the job and off, Jim
felt a responsibility like none he had ever known. His partner's constant questioning
of police procedure both impressed and pleased him as Blair showed a constant
curiosity and understanding of Jim's work. And having him there to bounce his
own theory's off of helped him to think out loud. His protectiveness had gone
beyond that of one partner to another. Jim didn't completely understand it, but
he had learned to accept it. Twenty minutes later, Harry set his notebook down
and stood up, nodding.
"Okay, minus what Jennifer didn't bring out, and
including her cut into yours, I'd say you two have just made yourselves 4 million.
Not bad for two day's work." Harry reached into his case and removed several
wads of cash.
"You carry this much around often?" Jim asked, accepting
"Only when I'm on a business trip." Harry replied. "So,
can I assume we'll do business again?"
Jim set the cash down, then in
one fluid motion, pulled his badge from his back pocket with one hand, and the
gun from Harry's jacket with the other. "I think our business is concluded."
he said, showing the badge as he cocked the gun and pointed it at Harry.
you!" Diana suddenly screamed and jumped to her feet, charging across the
Jim took two quick steps backwards, trying to cover Diana with the gun
and keep from losing sight of Harry. Just as she was about to lunge over the couch
at Jim, Blair intercepted, tackling her and sending them both to the floor. The
front door burst open then and the room was instantly filled with officers with
"Stupid bitch." Harry spat at Diana as Detective Bryce
cuffed him. "I'm just glad I hit you when I had the chance."
officers pulled her from the floor and drug her, kicking and screaming, out to
the front yard and read her rights as they handcuffed her. Jim gave Blair a hand
off the floor and patted him on the back,
"Good tackle, Chief."
laughed a little and shook his head, "Thanks, Jim."
you two." Detective Bryce had sent Harry out with three other officers and
walked over to shake their hands. "Couldn't have done it without you."
"Anytime." Jim replied.
"Listen, if you want to head back
to my office and give my sergeant the details, he can type up the report."
Jim nodded, then turned to Blair. "Come on, Chief. Let's get out of here."
He led the way through the patrol cars that now lined the driveway and out to
the truck. Blair climbed in and Jim glanced at his face for a moment. His jaw
had a large, purple bruise on the right side, but the lip hadn't swollen, and
the cut wasn't too bad. "Thought I'd have to turn the hose on Diana there
for a minute."
"Just how long were you standing there watching?"
Blair asked, touching his jaw gingerly.
Jim laughed and started the truck,
"You kids today."
Three hours later, after having dictated
their report to Bryce's sergeant, then filled Simon in over the phone, they were
finally home again. On the drive home, Jim had tried once again to discuss Blair
carrying a gun, unsuccessfully. He knew his partner never would feel comfortable
with the idea, and he wasn't exactly sure he did either. But it was a good subject
to throw into his face after that evening's little tension.
about a self-defense class? You can take one at the station." Jim tossed
his keys to the table and took off his coat, hanging it up.
Blair laughed a
little and shook his head. "No way man. Learning how to beat up some guy
ten times my size doesn't sound like a good idea." He hung up his coat and
walked into the living room.
Jim was standing between the kitchen and living
room as he passed by. His back had never felt so good, and that day's excitement
hadn't tensed him up again. The case was over, and sooner than he anticipated,
with nothing more than a couple of bruises. As Blair walked past, Jim reached
out and wrapped his arm around his partner's neck.
you what." Jim held Blair in a headlock, with one arm around his neck, and
the other holding his head. "If you can get out of this, I'll drop the whole
self-defense business." he tightened the grip just slightly, knowing he wasn't
hurting his friend in any way. "If you can't get out by the count of ten,
you go take a class with Sergeant Dunn."
Blair began to struggle and Jim
started counting. "Jim, this isn't funny."
"Three, four, I think
Blair was trying to twist out of his grasp with no success. "Jim."
"Five, six, seven..."
"Okay, okay, you win." Blair stopped
struggling and raised his hands. "I'll go to class. You win." Jim released
his hold and Blair stood up, moving a couple of feet away. "There, I did
it. We can drop the subject."
Jim looked at him for a moment, puzzled.
"What do you mean, Chief? You're taking the class."
Blair shook his
head and smiled, moving a few steps farther back and raising his hands to make
a point. "No, you said if I got out of the headlock before you counted to
ten, I won. Well, I got out of it." He was still grinning.
Jim smiled and began to move slowly towards him. "I get it." He nodded
and Blair started to back up, walking through the kitchen. "Used your head,
Blair nodded but kept moving backwards, away from Jim. "Yep."
Jim stopped and slapped both hands together, gazing at the ceiling in a moment
of contemplation. "I'm thinking we should try this again. Best two out of
three?" he made a lunge towards Blair who turned immediately and ran for
his room, slamming the door shut behind him. Jim stopped and laughed, shaking
his head. "Ah, yeah." He moved back to the living room and sat down
on the couch, picking up the remote control. A quick focus down the hall told
him Blair was turning on his laptop, still laughing a little. Jim flipped on the
television and leaned back in the couch to watch the last quarter of the game.
He was glad Jennifer had turned out to be an ordinary thief, with no Sentinel
sense of touch. There were times Jim took his senses for granted, and other times
when he didn't even believe he had them. The idea of ever finding another Sentinel
both intrigued and frightened him. To have someone else who knew what he was experiencing
could be helpful, but he really had that already in Blair. Sure, maybe he was
making half of what he said up as they went along, but then, Jim wasn't exactly
a born expert on the experience either. What would have happened if he had never
met his Guide? Or if Blair had turned out to be someone totally incompatible?
Would there be someone else? Was there a Guide for every Sentinel, with some to
spare in case of clashing personalities?
Jim shook his head and tried to concentrate
on the game. The last thing he wanted was more Guides presenting themselves. One
was enough for any Sentinel to handle.