New Arrivals

Imperfections VI: What Comes Around
Part Two
by Dasha

See notes and disclaimer in part one.

"Joel, I need to borrow your car."

Joel looked up from his computer and smiled. His eyes held honest affection, but he said, "Have you lost your mind, Ellison, or do you just think I have?"

"Damn it, Blair's in trouble."

Immediately, Joel was on his feet headed for the door. Jim decided help was as good as borrowing the car and hurried after him.

"Where is he?"

"The university. There's been a shooting--"

Joel had more questions. Jim had no answers.

Jim didn't have to search for his partner. When they turned in at the north gate, even Joel could see the flashing lights from the emergency vehicles. Jim didn't wait until the car was in park to leap out. He called behind him, "Find out what we know," and hurried to Sandburg.

Jim had a hand on Sandburg's shoulder before he realized Jim was there. His eyes were on the gurney where the EMTs were working. He turned to Jim in speechless horror. For a moment Jim froze helplessly. There was nothing he could do in the face of this pain. Then, suddenly, Blair was in his arms. Jim could feel his heartbeat, strong and even. He didn't smell blood or pain, but the acrid edge that marked the beginning of shock tickled his nose. "You're ok. You're ok. We'll take care of this." God, how many times had Blair said that to him? "You stay here. I want to see Jack. Okay? I'll be right back."

Jim did not have to get close enough to touch the still form on the stretcher. Sound and scent were enough to tell him what he needed to know. He turned and went back to Sandburg. "Chief, you have to go with him. There's nobody else. I'll send Joel after you to back you up. Okay? But you know about hospitals. You have to go with him."

Blair blinked, gathered himself. "What about you?" he asked.

"I have to go get Marcia," he said.

For a moment he appeared to be confused, then, suddenly, he was focused and certain. "No, you can't. I know she'd want to be there, but she shouldn't be hanging out at hospitals. Between the germs and the stress--Jim, she's still considered a fragile sentinel. Jack wouldn't want her there."

Jim took a deep breath. "She needs to be here. We may lose him."

"Jim--no. No, it's not bad. Jack's going to--" He stopped, seeing something in Jim's face. "What is it?"

"I don't know. But this is bad. Marcia needs to be there."

"Okay. Okay."

"Where did you park the truck?"

It took fifteen minutes to get to Jack's house. The traffic wasn't heavy and Jim ran the lights. In no time Jim was standing on the porch and Marcia was opening the door. She sighed at the sight of him. "What do you want?"

"Jack's been shot. They're taking him to Baptist. You need to come."

She paused to set the alarm, but not to get her jacket, even though the day was very cold. She didn't speak until Jim had gotten them on the road. Then she said, "How bad is it?"

There was no point in lying to another sentinel. Knowing what cues would give you away didn't mean you could hide them. "It's bad."

"Do you know enough to give me details?"

"I don't know how much damage the bullet did or if it's still in him. He smelled like stagnant water....his heart was going too fast to count and it wasn't regular."

She nodded. "I see." And then, "Do you know what happened?"

"He was with Blair." It occurred to Jim only then that he didn't know what they'd been doing. He hadn't been paying attention when Blair had told him he was running off to his advisor for a few minutes. "Blair is still with him."

"That's good," she said, and Jim understood. The idea of being alone in a hospital with no one to keep watch or speak for you was terrifying in a way Jim couldn't have understood even a year before. Hospitals were dangerous, painful places where no one listened to you. It wasn't just sentinels who were at risk. Anyone could be the victim of a mistake. Sometimes mistakes could be deadly.

Marcia didnt talk any more on the way to the hospital.

Jim could hear Simon from the stairs half-way up the parking lot. The eavesdropping was enlightening, because he hadn't given much thought to the situation aside from the fact that one of the best friends he and Blair had might be dying and, since he was a guide, there were things that had to be done. Jim realized that wasn't like him. On any other case, he'd have been scouring the campus for trace evidence of the killers, not fetching next of kin. But there wasn't time to give that too much thought because Simon was in rare form:

"Sandburg, have you even read your job description? Oh, wait. You didn't need to. You've got a damn *degree* in your job description. So maybe you can tell me what you were doing involving a civilian in one of our cases?"

"We talk to experts all the time."

"What do you mean, 'we?' You are a guide, not a cop."

"I thought he might know something. And you know what? If the people who shot Jack are the people who killed Sam Holland, than there was at least the potential that he might have found out something important if he hadn't already."

Blair was being reasonable. Simon was ignoring it. "And what I can't believe is that your partner went along with this. This is a federal case--"

Jim winced as Simon went on and on. He wondered how much he should admit to. He hadn't really *noticed* that Blair had gone to Jack Kelso for information. He'd *heard* but it hadn't sunk in. There was no way he could come out and admit to that, though. If Simon thought he was a space cadet, it would not figure well when Simon made assignments. And besides, he couldn't leave Blair hanging out to dry, even though there was no question that Simon would be a lot harder on a detective than on the detective's guide.

They found Blair with Simon and Joel and two uniforms clustered in the waiting room outside of Emergency. The argument ended abruptly when Simon caught sight of them. Blair turned and waited for Marcia.

"How bad?"

"He was shot once in the neck. They have the bleeding stopped and there isn't any damage that can't be fixed, but they think he lost about five units of blood. They're replacing that as fast as they can....they did some x-rays to see if he was hurt in the fall. They're not back yet." Here, Blair wavered slightly, but he collected himself and continued. "He came around in the ambulance and he knew me, but he's sedated now. He...ah, he went into respiratory failure and they intubated him. Marcia, no!" he caught her arm as she turned toward the door that led to the treatment rooms. "He doesn't want you here. He told me--"

"And you faithfully reported the message," she said shortly. "Let go of my arm."

"Marcia, I'm so sorry. I got him into this. I never--"

Marcia glanced briefly at the ceiling and then turned back to glare at Blair. "You know, the smart thing to do when you don't know what the fuck you're talking about is to shut up." Jim found her voice even more harsh than usual. He wanted to step between them. He didn't let himself.

"I understand."

"No. You don't." She took a step closer to Blair. "Do you really think sentinel health is the only cause he's taken to heart? Doesn't it seem a little bit odd that he worked so fast he was able to frighten someone between breakfast and lunch? Now I don't think you really are stupid enough to think I would leave my guide alone when someone was trying to murder him, so let go of my arm and get back to work."

She stalked into the treatment area. The nurses seemed to think she was with the police, and didn't try to stop her. After a moment, Jim followed.

At some point he'd stopped thinking of emergency rooms as an unpleasant necessity and started thinking of them as places of unrelenting horror. Really, it would be a bad phobia to encourage. Maybe if he talked to Blair, there would be a way to change the way he felt....

Ruthlessly, he reminded himself that this was just another weakness that came with the senses. It wasn't important. Not really. Not really.

Jack had improved a great deal since Jim had seen him last. He stank of sedatives and antibiotics, but underneath it there was no smell of dying. His heart was fast and weak, but it wasn't failing now. Things were still *bad*, but it was the kind of bad that might be survived.

Marcia paused half in and half out of the wide doorway, her head bowed forward and hidden by a curtain of dark hair. Blair stepped up behind her. Jim hadn't realized he'd been followed, although in retrospect it was obvious that his guide wouldn't let them wander around a place like this alone.

"Marcia, he's going to be fine."

"Leave me alone. You don't know--"

"There are a lot of potential complications. We all know that. The doctors are being really careful. Jack is going to be fine. Please. Don't. Stay. Here."

"And you'll...what? leave a nice police officer here to protect him?"

"Yes," Jim said firmly. "He's a protected witness. We'll take care of him."

"And they're good, your local cops?" For Marcia, she was showing a lot of self control. No yelling, just contempt. "Good enough to take on a company assassin? Better than a sentinel? Better than a sentinel spook?" Her look said, 'you are large, but naive and stupid, and as sick as I've been, I could still take you.'

Sighing, Jim led Sandburg back out to the waiting room. "Now let me have it from the top. What happened?"

"I asked Jack if he'd heard anything about Sam Holland."

"Yes, I've gathered that. What did he find out?"

"He's been working for some kind of spy cover business. His boss was Norman Oliver. Right now, nobody seemed to know where Oliver was."

"And Jack thought he was in trouble?" Jim was surprised the question was audible and even.

"Um, no. I got the feeling he thought Oliver *was* trouble."

Jim tried to swallow. His mouth was too dry. "Tell me everything."


They went back to Rainier. There had been too much traffic through the area for Jim to find any traces of the sniper, so they headed up to Jack's office in Anthropology. The door was locked, but Blair had retrieved the keys from where they dropped when they'd fallen to cover. "I don't know what there will be to find. He's got to keep the really sensitive stuff locked up or put away somewhere."

"You said he had something on his computer to show you."

But when they turned the computer on, it failed to boot. Blair fussed for three or four minutes; no operating system, no nothing. He borrowed a start-up disk from the secretary. It was almost immediately obvious that everything was toast.

Jim tried to calm himself, slowly turning circles in the office, wishing he was one of those sentinels who had patterns jump out at him from ordinary background information.

He wasn't.

Blair, meanwhile, gave up on the computer, and dug around in the desk until he came up with a stack of floppy disks.

"You think he made a back-up?" Jim asked.

"Of whatever he learned this morning? Probably not. This is his research."

"Well that's no use!" Jim cursed and turned another circle in the room that told him nothing.

"Jim, it's his *research*. Somebody's destroying his stuff. He's...he's going to want this."

They didn't speak on the way back to the car. Blair smelled like hunger and the remains of burnt adrenalin. He smelled sad. And sorry.

"He...he smelled a lot better. He's going to be fine."

Blair rubbed his eyes. "Right. Yeah. Ok, so what have we got?"

The driver of a van three cars back was staring at the SUV. Jim made a sudden left onto Classen Avenue. A moment later the van turned, too. "We've got...lunch," Jim said.

Blair looked surprised, but he never argued with Jim eating. "Wonderburger again?"

"IHOP," Jim corrected. It was close, it had fewer windows, and this time of day, the shades would be down.

Blair shrugged. He wasn't really paying attention. He didn't say anything when Jim didn't wait for a hostess but firmly led him to a table next to the kitchen. "So what do you think--"

"You need to wait five minutes, and then go back out the front door and walk to the truck. Don't look like you're in a hurry."

"Jim? What?"

"Trust me on this. Five minutes."


Blair wouldn't have thought he'd had any more adrenalin, but suddenly he was alert and poised.

Five minutes? he thought.

The waitress brought water. Blair explained his partner was in the bathroom and nervously crunched some ice. It was sort of funny, he thought. He never would have guessed this morning what kind of day it would turn out to be.

Two minutes. Blair rubbed his sweaty hands across his jeans. What was Jim doing? And why was he doing it somewhere Blair was not?

At four minutes and forty-five seconds, Blair was up and headed for the door. He had barely made it half a dozen steps across the parking lot when he heard a thump and yelp, and turned to see Jim struggling with a smaller man who clearly didn't have a chance. Blair looked around, but except for his partner tossing his opponent onto the asphalt and pinning him, there was nothing unusual to see.

"Hey, Chief, you wanna call this in?"

"Uh, sure. What is it I'm calling?"

"I'll think of something. That is, assuming he lasts long enough to get processed."

The man on the ground was slight and blond. He was a little older than Jim. He looked up at them with bored contempt. "This won't accomplish anything. You don't have anything to hold me on."

Jim squatted beside him, smiling just a little. "Yeah, well. I'm not sure I'm going to bother processing you." He reached out and touched the man's shoulder, very gently. "You killed a guide. A man who was worth twenty of you. Maybe I'll just rough you up and 'let' you escape. If your boss thinks you gave him up, he'll take care of you for me. I can't say I'd mind that very much."

"You--you can't do that." He rallied. "Who do you think you're dealing with?"

"Who do I think I'm dealing with?" Jim laughed. It had a scary sound. "I'm a sentinel, and you just killed a guide. I'm not sure you *have* any information that is worth saving your miserable life at this point."

Now, finally there was flash of fear. The man looked at Blair, who quickly turned away. Jim really did seem convincingly homicidal. It was completely real. And completely ridiculous. He hid his face and bit his cheek to keep from laughing.

Except it *wasn't* funny. Blair had never seen Jim threaten a suspect. Not like this. And the threat would only last until the man found out Jack wasn't dead, which meant it was a risky ploy.

"Look, it, it wasn't me."

"Who was it, then?"

Blair held his breath, not sure that Jim had won, but hoping. Whatever the captive might have said, though, was drowned out by a squeal of tires and a loud bang. Blair jumped, and came crashing down as he was tackled from behind, Jim's voice cursing inches from his left ear. The banging continued, and Blair realized he was being shot at again. The irony of it made him laugh. Although, maybe it wasn't ironic. Maybe he was just hysterical.

Jim was lying across him. And squeezing. Blair couldn't lift his head or breathe. All he could see was the asphalt half an inch from his eyes.

And then there was silence. And then Jim was dragging him to his feet. "*Move* Sandburg. Let's go." Stumbling, Blair looked back. The suspect Jim had caught was still on the ground behind them. Dead, he must be, there was blood everywhere--

Jim was shoving him at the truck, and Blair dove in. The engine was running before he managed to shut the door. "Where are we going--Hey! Put on your seatbelt!" but they were already moving. "Jim, what--"

They pulled out onto Classen and promptly made an illegal left turn. "Be quiet," Jim said. "I can still hear them."

Jim wasn't driving particularly fast, but he was only paying the least attention to things like traffic and direction. Really, this should have been covered by a text book somewhere: "Car chases while zoning," maybe, or "Traffic retraining." Another illegal turn, this one also ignoring a stop sign. Blair wanted to close his eyes, but somebody really needed to pay attention.

"He's...meandering. He's trying to lose pursuit."

"Is there somebody following him besides you?"

"I don't think so. He's being cautious."

Nice that somebody was. They were going the wrong way up Maxwell. Fortunately, at this time of day, it was pretty empty.

They crossed under the highway and passed a cluster of industrial buildings. Blair wasn't entirely sure where they were. Suddenly, Jim slammed on the breaks and shut off the engine. "Damn," he said after a moment.


"I lost him. I was following a tick in the engine. He's parked somewhere." He waved vaguely to the right. "Out there somewhere. Close, but I don't know exactly--"

He was interrupted by the cell phone. The noise made Jim jump and gasp. Fumbling, Blair answered it. "Sand--"

"Where the hell are you?" That was Simon. Blair winced.

"Funny you should mention that, Simon. I'm not actually--"

"Do you realize Im standing at the IHOP on Berg and Classen looking at a dead body?"


Jim seized possession of the phone.

"We followed the shooter, Sir."

"I see. Shall I assume you have him in custody?" Simon's voice was loud enough that Jim had to hold the phone several inches from his head.

"Well, no not exactly. He's close, but--"

"Can you find him?" and then, "Jim do you need me to seal off an area--"

"No! No, sir, I can find him. Let's not tip him off. I'm hoping he's lead me to his partners."

"Are there partners?"

"Well, we already know this isn't a solo operation. The body you've got is one of theirs. His back-up must have been afraid he'd talk."


"You said the FBI is involved in this. Can you try talking to them again? I mean," and his voice was mild, despite the look he gave Blair, which was bitter and snide, "They're going to want to collect this body, too right? It's only courtesy to give them a heads up, have a little chat."

"Yeah. Right--" Simon's volume dropped, and whatever else was said was lost to Blair. Then, Jim closed the phone and opened the door.

"Where are we going?" Blair asked, undoing his seat belt.

Jim glanced at him. "Find us a murderer. Or several."

One of the hardest things a sentinel could do was urban tracking. To their advantage, Jim wouldn't be trying to follow spore. He'd be depending on hearing. Working against them was the fact that neither of them knew the area.

Jim took a few firm steps up the sidewalk before pausing and throwing an uncertain glance back at Blair.

Blair put a hand on his arm. "Just do it," he said. "Dont think."

And just like that, Jim was pretty much *gone*. He moved forward in bursts, sometimes slowing, sometimes pausing, sometimes changing direction without warning. Usually Blair had to steer around things like lamp posts and dog poop. There wasn't a lot of traffic, which made crossing streets less harrowing, but the real anxiety was that the people they were hunting for might somehow look out a window or come out of a building and see them before Jim had found them.

And, of course, any success hinged on the bad guys *talking* and saying something that gave them away. And sticking around for a few minutes.

Oh, and if somebody's car alarm went off, they were pretty much sunk.

It was cold. Sunny, but windy and much, much colder than it should have been for spring. Colder than it had been for almost a month. Aside from the tips of his fingers, though, Blair was doing fine. It had to be adrenalin, but at this point, Blair was OK with that. As far as he could tell--and he thought he was following things pretty well--the people they were after were spies or assassins who had turned traitor. Somebody in the CIA, or maybe the FBI. Because, hey, legitimate government agents didn't just shoot citizens, right? If you got in their way, they showed up in suits and talked to you politely and dumped you in a room without windows until it was all over, right? So whatever they had run afoul of--whatever message Sam Holland had left on the answering machine--it wasn't a legitimate operation.

So things were pretty serious, and having lots of adrenalin on board was probably a good idea. Even beside its usefulness in ignoring the cold.

They'd been at it for about half an hour when Jim stopped where he was. He slouched slightly, and zoned so hard he wasn't bothering to keep his mouth closed. When it was clear this wasn't going pass in a moment, Blair nudged him sideways, into the lee of the nearest building, so they were out of the wind and had some cover at least.

"Call Simon," he whispered finally. "Find out if the name "Chavez" means anything to him."

Simon answered with "Where the hell have you been!"

"I turned the cell phone off. Jim had his hearing turned up and--"

"You are not going to believe this. I'm standing in the Federal Building. It turns out the FBI agent who came to claim the body this morning was an imposter."

"Oh," Blair said. He didn't know what to say in a situation like this. "Oh."

"The FBI's not going to be much help, though. They've got a mess of their own right now--"

"Simon, Jim thinks he's found something. Do you know the name 'Chavez?'"

"What!" Simon bellowed.

"Chave--Hey, Jim. Damn, there he goes again." Jim was moving. Blair shut and killed the phone, scampering after him.

When Blair caught up, Jim had has back pressed to a brick building. He had his gun out, and while it was clear he was concentrating, he wasn't zoned any more. An icy fury had settled over him, shutting out Blair as tightly as any sensory disassociation.

"Jim?" He hissed. There was no answer. "*Jim*!"

The stillness deepened. Jim was as motionless as marble, and for a moment, Blair panicked. There had never been any sign that Jim was one of those sentinels who zoned so hard and so deeply that they forgot to breathe. If they were dealing with that--

"Here. He's here."

What? Who? And then Blair realized. Oliver.

Jim started to pull away. Blair hauled him back. "Back-up," he said. Hurriedly, holding Jim in place by leaning against his leg, Blair dug the phone back out.

Jim waited until he had finished giving Simon the address, then gently pushed past him and slipped around the building until he came to a door.

It was locked, of course. "Give me your pocket knife," Jim ordered.

Blair handed it over. "We should wait," he whispered. "Warrant. Back-up."

Slowly, Jim dragged his eyes to Blair's face. "They're arguing. They're going to cut and run. If Oliver doesn't--"

Three things happened at once. The lock gave under Jim's hand, and the bold slid back with a thud. A gun shot fired from somewhere in the building. And Jim gasped, dropping both gun and knife and pawing at his head with both hands.

Shit. Shit. But it was too late *now*, after Jim's wide open hearing had been assaulted by the weapon's report. Too little, too late, Blair caught his partner's shoulders and tried to still Jim's frantic efforts to escape the pain in his head. "Breathe through it," he whispered. "Let it go." It was several seconds before Jim calmed down enough for Blair to be able to lay hold of a pressure point that would help. "Easy. You're ok."

Jim trapped his hands and pushed him away. "Damn it," he whispered. But he retrieved the gun and handed Blair back his knife. "I can't hear anything!"

A jolt of panic swept through Blair. While this sort of problem wasn't uncommon and always temporary, this was a bad place for it.

But Jim ground out his answer, "I can't hear them."

"What happened?"

"Somebody wanted to pull out. Said the police were getting too close. Oliver shot him."

Blair blinked at that.

Jim opened the door. "We have to move now."

Like hell. They needed to get Jim's hearing back on line. They needed to wait for back-up.

But even if forcing an argument wasn't stupid and dangerous, there was no point. This was a police decision, and Blair couldn't challenge it. The only option he had was pulling Jim off duty for medical reasons, and even if he tried it, Jim would just ignore him.

Cold and efficient, his gun pointed at the ceiling, Jim entered a narrow hallway. Blair followed him. The only sign that Jim's hearing was still affected was his unusual caution as they crept forward and his pauses at each door to peer carefully inside. The building seemed to be abandoned, though. The rooms that lined the hall were dark and empty.

When Jim came to a set of stairs, he started up at once. Blair followed just behind, grinding his teeth and wishing Simon would hurry with the damn back-up already. On the second floor, Jim paused, and for the first time glanced back at Blair uncertainly. He opened his mouth and then looked around again. "I can't hear them," he breathed.

Blair tapped his nose. "Smell them," he mouthed. Jim nodded and closed his eyes. When he moved again, he still had his eyes closed. He seemed barely there. Blair stayed close, one hand out to catch Jim if he headed toward a wall. He didn't. He led the way through a door to the left--the outer room of some kind of abandoned office suite--and motioned him to be still.

Blair could hear voices now. Not arguing, but urgent. Giving instructions.

When Jim moved it was without warning. He was through the door before Blair could blink. Ducking and scampering, he followed--

Jim had neatly seized a tall, middle-aged blond man. He was holding his gun just behind the man's ear and had angled things so that the captive was between Jim and the two other people. It must have been a very neat move. Blair wondered if he had set it up by smell.

"Put your weapons down," Jim said.

The other two--a man and a woman--each produced a handgun which they slowly stooped and set on the floor.

The man Jim was holding said, "Well, well. Captain Ellison. Long time no see. I see you've showed up just in time to interfere with a federal investigation. That isn't going to look good on your record."

"Shut up. Maybe you didn't get the memo, but I'm a sentinel. I heard everything."

The slippery calm wavered for a moment, and then the captive continued. "I see you're exhibiting your usual competence. How many people are you going to get killed this time?"

Jim shuddered, and the woman *moved.* She didn't bother with her gun, but made a slick, almost invisible leap for Jim's arm.

She underestimated him. Before she could cover half the distance, Jim shot her. Oliver took the distraction to try to pull free. Jim kicked his feet out from under him and caught him in a headlock. Before Blair could blink it was all over.

Blair shut his teeth over a belated scream. The woman was on the floor bleeding. Colonel Oliver dangled from Jim's left arm. The remaining man watched everything else with narrowed eyes.

Blair picked up one of the guns from the floor. He checked the safety, trying not to think about how easy this part was. "Lie down," he said. "On your belly. With your hands on your head." The man appeared to consider. "Now," Blair said. He considered taking Jim's cuffs and securing the prisoner, but decided not to push his luck. A part of his mind was giggling slightly at using "securing the prisoner" in a sentence. Blair thought he might be slightly hysterical.

He glanced at Jim. Jim's face was expressionless, but his captive, while no longer putting up a credible struggle, was turning purple. "Jim? Let him go."

No response. Shit. Shit.

"Jim? Come back right now. Assaulting a prisoner while zoned is a sure way to get fir--" Shit. Shit. Jim wasn't zoned. He was completely present. It was a military expressionless, not a blanked out expressionless.

It occurred to Blair that they really, *really* should have had a conversation about Norman Oliver. For a moment, he panicked. What could he possibly *say* at this point that would be relevant. Oliver had gotten Jim's men killed. He had had Sam Holland tortured and murdered. He'd had Jack shot.

And Jim, apparently, had lost his mind. "Jim?" No, that wasn't going to work. "Cuff the prisoner and read him his rights. God damn it, detective--"

And then, finally, Jim moved. He released the sagging body and stepped back, letting Oliver drop to the floor. Silently, Blair let out the breath he'd been holding. They were ok. They were fine.

Jim cuffed Oliver and recited Miranda. Then he cuffed the other one. His hands were steady, even though his voice shook a little.


"I hear sirens, finally." Jim took the gun from him and went to check the woman. She was unconscious, but alive. "Chief, I need you to put pressure on this." Blair obeyed, kneeling on the dusty floor and digging out a pad of tissues to use keep the woman's blood from all pouring out.

That made twice in one day, he thought. It was becoming a habit.

Blair could hear sirens himself. Jim took back his cell phone from Blair's pocket and called down to Simon, announcing the building was secure.

Blair looked down at the unconscious woman, the blood all over everything and thought, I should be more upset. Weirdly, though, as the afternoon wore on, he got less upset rather than more. Detectives and cops and ambulance crew zipped in and out with an astonishing speed and certainty. The FBI showed up, and Simon chewed them out, which made Blair want to cheer. The suits actually looked embarrassed.

In fact, the FBI were soon joined by several other federal alphabets. Those who weren't tossing the building were wandering in tense circles or berating subordinates by cell phone. Blair had known, he supposed, just how big this case was. And how dangerous. It made him kind of dizzy, though, to look back and realize just how much Jim had accomplished in a single day.

And Jim wasn't finished. "Simon," he said, as the two healthy prisoners were being led away, "I keep doing the count in my head. There has to be at least one more."

Simon turned away from the fed he was talking to, a degree of rudeness he could apparently get away with today. "Just one?"

Jim thought. "I'm sure of one. Simon, we--"

"We got him forty-five minutes ago. He tried to finish the job on Jack Kelso. Marcia took care of him."

Blair jumped, "What--What happened?"

Simon shrugged. "I didn't see it. Joel was filling in, waiting for the uniforms to take over. Apparently, ex-spook sentinels are really impressive." He turned back to his conversation.

"Let's go," Jim muttered, and without waiting, headed for the door.

"Wait--What? Can we do that?" Blair asked as he hurried after him.

"Not our jurisdiction, Chief. This has nothing to do with us."

"Yeah--but I think that agent Cameron wanted to talk to you."

Jim was already at the stairs. "Trust me. They know where we live."


Concluded in part three...