All feedback is welcome. I write for fun and will not be offended by any comments good or bad.
Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount and no copyright infringement is intended.
The night was cold and very wet as Blair Sandburg ran quickly to his aging Volvo, trying not to get completely soaked by the constant deluge of rain that had been falling continuously for the last two days, thanks to El Nino.
“Okay, Baby,” he coaxed as he turned the ignition key. “Be good and start for Blair.”
He tried again, thinking to himself ‘Please don’t do this to me. Not tonight.’ Still the engine refused to turn over.
“Damn!” he muttered, digging into his backpack for his cell phone.
‘Jim is just going to love this!’ he thought silently, remembering that his roommate had a date that very night. Opening the phone, the young man noticed that the low-battery icon was blinking.
“Oh great, that’s all I need.” he groaned, grabbing his pack as he exiting the car to head back in to the school.
Half way to the doors of Hargrove Hall he heard a noise behind him. Turning around, Blair looked to see what made the sound but saw nothing amiss.
Swiveling back toward the building, he increased his speed, trying to convince himself it was because he hated getting wet and not because of past experiences, that made him want to reach the comforting safety of his small office.
“Great Sandburg, get all paranoid why don’t you.” he muttered, unlocking the door to his office. Dropping his backpack on the floor Blair grabbed the phone on his desk and dialed the number of the loft he shared with his partner, best friend and Sentinel, Detective James Ellison.
‘Please let him be home.’ the young student pleaded mentally, hoping against hope that his partner had made it a short night, only to have his hopes dashed as he heard their answering machine pick up. Sighing, he waited for the beep to leave his message.
“Hi Jim, it’s me. Listen, my car decided to roll over and play dead. I’m in my office right now. Give me a call when you get home, I’ll be here grading papers. I’ll call again if I don’t hear from you by 1:00 am. It’s 9:30 pm now. Bye!”
Returning the receiver to its cradle, the grad student started pulling blue books out of his pack, laying them on his desk. Grabbing a bottle of water out of the small fridge near the coffeemaker, he sat down and started grading.
After grading the last blue book, Blair stood up and stretched, trying to work out the kinks in his back that were a result of sitting too long in one position. Returning to his chair he nearly jumped out of his skin when the phone rang. It had been so quiet that the sound had surprised him. Breathing deeply to calm his racing heart, he answered the phone, “Hello?”
*“Hey Chief, it’s me.”*
“Jim! Man, am I glad to hear your voice.” Sandburg stated, pushing his hair away from his face as he sat down on the corner of his desk. “Actually, I’d even be glad to hear Simon’s voice right now.”
*“What’s wrong?”* Ellison asked, hearing a slight nervous tone in his roommate’s voice.
“Nothing’s wrong. I just forgot how creepy this place is after everyone goes home. You know… all the little noises that you ignore or don’t hear during the day get magnified and kind of spooky at night. Especially when you’re alone.” chuckled the young man.
Hearing a note of apprehension in his Guide’s voice, Jim wondered if his friend was telling him everything. *“Listen Chief, I just called to tell you I’m on my way to pick you up. I’ll be there in about 20 minutes.”*
“I guess that means your date wasn’t a success, huh?” Blair asked, knowing that if it had been his friend would not be talking to him on the phone, nor driving to Rainer to pick him up.
*“No, it most definitely was not!”* Ellison answered dryly. *“That was the last time I ever go on a blind date to help out a fellow cop. She was absolutely not my type, Chief.”*
Suppressing a giggle, Sandburg was about to comment on the type of woman that was Jim’s type when he was distracted by a noise outside his office.
“Hold on a minute, Jim.” he said, standing up and looking toward the door. “I just heard something in the hallway.”
*“What did you hear, Chief?”*
“Dunno,” Blair answered, slowly moving to the side of his desk. “It sounded like something fell.” ‘or someone’ he thought to himself, wishing his partner was already with him at Rainer. “I guess it was just one of the janitors or the security guard making his rounds. I’ll check it out, it might not be anything.”
Laying down the receiver before his roommate could voice a protest, the grad student started to walk toward the door, but before he could take more than two steps the lights went out. “Whoa,” he whispered, knowing full well that his Sentinel would hear him no matter how softly he spoke. “Jim man, the lights just went out.”
Quickly he retreated back to the relative safety of his desk. As he reached for the phone his office door burst open with a resounding crash as it hit the wall. Standing in the doorway, silhouetted by the emergency lights that had come on just seconds earlier, were two rather large men. Blair quickly recovered from the shock of the intrusion and turned to make for the window at the back of his office. He knew if he could get to the window he had a good chance of getting away, since both intruders were too big to fit through the opening. Unfortunately, he was not fast enough.
“Jim!” screamed Sandburg, as two large, strong hands grabbed him from behind and held him in a vise like grip. A cloth was then placed over his mouth and nose as he struggled to break free, continuing to call out to his partner. His struggles were in vain as realization came to him. ‘Chloroform.’ he thought. That was the smell on the cloth. The last thing he heard, before darkness engulfed him, was Jim screaming his name across the phone line, and the evil laughter of his captors. Then … oblivion.
//Four months earlier//
“Thank you Doctor, I would never have been able to face my demons and become well if it hadn’t been for you. You have given me back my sanity and my life.” stated the young blonde woman, smiling as she shook the older grey-haired man’s hand.
“Nonsense, young lady.” replied the doctor, “It is because of your own strength and perseverance that has made you well. Just remember to take your medications every day and see your therapist every week and there should be no more setbacks. You will be able to live a full and productive life.”
“I shall, Doctor. Thank you once again.” the young woman answered, walking to the sleek, black limo that awaited her near the entrance. At last she was returning to the outside world after three years. Each day of those three years were spent meticulously planning her revenge on a certain Cascade police detective.
“Is everything set up at the location I requested?” she asked, seating herself comfortably in the plush confines of the limo. It would be a long drive to Cascade.
“Yes, Ms. Parks. Everything is as you asked. Tony is watching the cop and Al is keeping an eye on his little friend. The compound is secured and all the party favors have been made ready for your enjoyment.” answered the man seated across from her.
“Splendid!” she sang, an evil, sadistic smile spreading over her face. “I’ve been waiting for this for the last three years. Now that Ellison has a partner it makes it all worth the wait. I’ll enjoy destroying his life just as he destroyed mine. Although,” she giggled, “I think that I’ll enjoy it much, much more as my plan progresses.”
Glancing out the window at the passing scenery she laughed, wondering how Detective James Ellison, of the Cascade P.D. was going to feel as he watched his friend and partner die in front of him, and not being able to do a thing to prevent it.
“I think I’m going to enjoy watching Ellison suffer,” snickered Parks’ muscle man, as a wicked grin bloomed on his face, before turning dark and angry. “I still owe him for sending me to prison five years ago, and for killing Frankie!”
“Ah, yes. Frankie was your brother, was he not, Jake?” Parks asked. She opened a champagne bottle and poured them each a glass. Handing him his, she studied the man seated across from her.
“He was more than that, he was my best friend. I raised him after our parents died. He was the light of my life and Ellison is going to pay dearly for his death.” Jake growled angrily. Taking a large swallow from his glass, he turned his attention to the view outside the vehicle. Silently he thought, ‘Ellison will pay, and maybe I’ll have a little fun with his friend while I’m at it.’
There was no more conversation as both occupants became lost in their own thoughts of revenge. Quietly watching the ever changing scenery as they traveled to the city of Cascade.
“Blair!”screamed Ellison, as he floored the gas pedal, flipping on the siren and lights to warn other motorist that he was coming and to get out of his way. “Answer me, damn it!” he cursed, knowing that there would be no reply. Disconnecting the call he punched Simon’s speed dial number, hoping that his captain and friend had left it on.
*“Banks!”* he answered sleepily, after a few rings.
“Simon, it’s Jim. Blair’s in trouble at Rainer and I need back up fast!”
*“What?”* growled the now fully awake captain, sitting up in his bed. *“What do you mean Sandburg’s in trouble? Why is he at the university and not at home?”*
“His car wouldn’t start and he left me a message on the machine at home. I was out and didn’t get home until about 45 minutes ago. Simon, I know something’s happened to him … I was talking to him when it, whatever ‘it’ was, happened. It sounded like someone kicked in his office door. There was a struggle and he was yelling for me. It sounded like he was fighting off his attackers and then silence.”
Hearing a note of panic in his detective’s voice, Banks got up and dressed quickly.
*“Calm down Jim, maybe it was a couple of intoxicated students trying to find a party or something.”* he quipped, trying to hide the apprehension in his own voice. Hoping Ellison was wrong, the dark captain quickly grabbed his weapon, keys and jacket and left his apartment heading for the elevator at a run.
“Simon, there was terror in his voice. Whoever was there scared the hell out of him, and we both know drunken students wouldn’t scare him that much.” Jim stated as he pulled his truck into Hargrove Hall’s parking lot. “I’m here. I’m going to check things out, get here A.S.A.P.”
Before Banks could object the line went dead. Growling, the captain called dispatch. “This is Captain Banks, officer needs assistance at Rainer University’s Anthropology building, specifically Hargrove Hall, approach with caution. I’m on my way there now and Ellison is already on site.”
Hanging up and dropping his cell into his pocket he thought ‘That kid is a magnet for trouble.’
“Damn it Sandburg, when I get a hold of you I’m going to put you in protective custody until you’re old and grey!” he hissed, speeding off into the night, lights flashing and siren wailing, toward Rainer. Silently praying that Ellison’s partner, friend and guide, was okay.
Screeching his truck to a halt, Jim clamored out into the cold night air. It had stopped raining only a few minutes prior to his arrival. Quickly scanning the area to make sure that there was no danger of an ambush he headed for Hargrove hall, and his best friend’s office. Quietly he made his way down the hallway, his gun already drawn, extending his hearing in hope of finding the one heartbeat that he knew better than his own.
Noticing the office door was ajar he cautiously opened it the rest of the way, knowing before he had reached the office that he was already too late. Blair was gone. Someone had taken his Guide. Entering the room the Sentinel took stock of the damage. Books and papers were strewn everywhere. The phone from his partner’s desk laid on the floor, totally destroyed.
Blair’s backpack had been thrown into a corner with a note pinned to it. Careful not to disturb any evidence, Jim removed the note and placed it in an evidence bag before reading it. “’Let the games begin!’” was all that was written.
Running a hand thru his short cropped hair, Jim turned and slowly walked out into the hallway just as his captain and a few uniformed officers made their appearance.
“We’re too late, Simon.” the Sentinel muttered, handing the bagged note to his friend.
Hearing a catch in his detective’s voice Banks was about to speak when Jim’s cell phone rang. Looking into the taller man’s face the Sentinel answered it.
“Ellison’” he said tersely.
*“Good evening Detective, or perhaps I should be saying good morning since it is already past midnight.”* a female voice on the phone stated, with a note of amusement. *“I believe you have already found my little note, hmm?”*
“I found it.” Jim snapped, still looking at his captain, giving him a sign to start a trace. “Where’s my partner?”
*“In due time detective… in due time. Fear not, he is unharmed … for now. Right now all you need to focus on is the game. The rules are simple. To save Mr. Sandburg’s life you must win.”* she laughed, before adding, *“Oh, and detective it would be a waste of time trying to trace this call.”*
Looking back at Banks, Jim shook his head letting Simon know a trace was a wasted effort.
“What do you want?” Ellison asked sharply, waiting for the inevitable.
*“Retribution, for the death of my family three years ago. You, detective, are the reason I am without the only two people who truly loved me. As for your unspoken question of what my intentions are… wait and see detective… wait and see.”* she cruelly laughed as the line went dead.
Staring at the phone in his hand, the Sentinel could only wonder if he’d get his Guide out of this alive.
//Day 1 - 7:25 am – Parks’ Lair (somewhere outside of Cascade)//
‘Oh man, my head feels like it’s going to explode.’ thought Blair as he slowly regained consciousness. Keeping his eyes closed he tried to remember what had happened to give him this bad of a headache. His eyes shot open as memories flooded back, leaving him gasping for air as he fought to keep himself from having a panic attack. Recalling everything in vivid detail from the time he called Jim, to the time he blacked out. Looking around for his kidnappers, Sandburg found he was alone in a small, impersonal bedroom. Breathing deeply to calm himself down he took in the details of where he was. The only furniture in the room was a bed, a desk and chair, an empty bookshelf, a night stand and lamp. There was a window that had bars on the outside, and two doors. Slowly, so not to cause himself any more pain than he was in already, he climbed off the bed and walked to the door to his right. It was unlocked. Opening it he found a small bathroom that held a toilet, sink and shower. After using the facilities, he walked back out into the outer room and tested the other door. It was locked. ‘Okay, Sandburg,’ he thought, ‘what would Jim do?’
Walking over to the window the young grad student was thrilled that it could be opened. At least he’d get fresh air to clear his head. Looking out at the scenery he scanned for something familiar, attempting also to formulate a plan of escape, but before he could he was distracted by a noise on the other side of the door.
“Oh great, here comes the Brothers Grim!” he muttered, watching the door swing open. Entering the room were the two men that had abducted him from his office the night before.
“Well looky here Tony,” said the larger of the two. “Ellison’s little hippie friend is awake. I guess we don’t need to slap him around to wake him up after all.”
Turning to face the kidnappers Blair inched back until he was up against the wall.
The second man, of which the first one had called *Tony* chuckled, as he leaned against the doorjamb. “Oh look Al,” staring at their captive with amusement. “I think you scared the little hippie-boy. Come on kid, Ms. Parks wants to meet you before the fun begins.”
“What do you mean?” Sandburg asked nervously, as the two men approached him.
“You’ll see!” laughed Al, as he grabbed the young man’s arm and quickly handcuffed him. Blair made no attempt to flee, he knew that it would be absolutely futile and he might get hurt if he tried. His captors led him down the hallway and down two flights of stairs before stopping in front of a pair of double wide doors. Opening the door, Tony pushed the young captive into the room before he could object. The room was elegantly furnished. In front of a large picture window there was a small table and two wingback chairs, one of which was occupied by a young blonde woman who looked to be in her late teens to early twenties, dresses in a stylishly elegant, expensive pantsuit. Her hair was rolled into a neat French Twist, fastened with a pair of gold combs that sparkled with diamonds, and her eyes were of a blue so light that they were almost white.
“Ah, Mr. Sandburg, how nice of you to join me for a cup of tea before all of the festivities begin.” she stated, motioning for Blair to sit in the empty chair opposite of her as she poured a second cup of the richly colored liquid.
“Thanks, all the same, but I think I’ll pass.” Sandburg grunted, as he was shoved forcefully into the empty seat by Al, silently wishing that he was at the loft with Jim instead of where he was at that very moment time. Eyeing the cup of tea warily, he added, “If you don’t mind my asking… why did you bring me here? I don’t know you or your two pets, so why me?”
“You’re quite right in asking Mr. Sandburg. You are here because of your roommate Detective James Ellison. You, Mr. Sandburg, are the key ingredient to my revenge.” the smiling woman purred. “My name is Lily Parks, and you Mr. Sandburg, are my pawn in a rather elaborate game of cat and mouse. You see, it is my intention to destroy and then kill Detective Ellison.”
Blair gasped, attempting to stand, only to be forced back down onto the chair by Al, who was still standing behind him. “Why do you want to kill Jim? What did he ever do to you?” demanded Sandburg, glaring at the large man behind him, his heart in his throat, his mind racing as he tried to figure a way to keep his Sentinel safe.
“Because,” answered Parks dryly, staring into the young man’s eyes with ones so cold that he felt he might freeze to death if he stared too long. “He ruined my life Mr. Sandburg, because three years ago he caused the deaths of my parents. Because I demand retribution for their deaths and you, Mr. Sandburg, are the key.”
‘This chick’s a psycho!’ thought Blair, a shiver running down his spine. Clearing his throat, he asked one final question, even if he was already sure what the answer would be.
“Why do you need me? Why am I so important to your plan?”
“Because you are his friend, his partner, his roommate and his feelings for you are more like a brother or a… son, than as a friend. You are the embodiment of what I have lost. You are Ellison’s family. Watching you tortured and then killed will make him feel the pain that I felt when my parents died. He will become careless, which can be just as fatal. You, Mr. Sandburg, are the reason I shall succeed. You see, I have had you both watched for the last four months and have seen how close the two of you are. Almost as close as I was with my own father, before Ellison killed him, but never fear, your friend’s death will be somewhat painless, although, I can’t say the same for yours.”
Arising from her chair, Parks motioned for her men to approach. “Al, return Mr. Sandburg to his room. Tony, make sure all is ready when I return.” Looking back at the shocked man as she walked to the door, she smiled. “Goodbye, Mr. Sandburg, you *will* be seeing me again.”
Blair barely remembered the trip back to the room he had awoken in earlier. His mind was numb at what Parks had said, about her intentions to kill his friend… his best friend, Jim Ellison. He didn’t even notice when the handcuffs were removed and he was once again left alone in the room. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, he lifted his shaking hands to push his long unruly curls away from his face. Reaching for the pillow behind him, he finally let the fear and uncertainty, he’s kept bottled up deep inside, come to the surface. Clutching the pillow to his chest he curled up on the bed and began to rock back and forth, again wishing he was home with Jim, where it was safe. Turning his head so that he could look out the still opened window, the young observer did what he was trained to do… he observed. Listening and looking for any clues that might give him a hint to where he was being held. Feeling despair welling up inside him, he almost missed the most obvious clue of them all. At last, a ray of hope in a less than hopeful situation.
Blair hadn’t realized he’s fallen asleep until he was awakened by the sound of the door being opened.
“Wake up hippie-boy, the boss is back and she’s ready for the game to begin.” chuckled Al, as he entered the room. Before Sandburg could make a scathing remark he found himself being handcuffed.
“Are these things really necessary?” he asked, motioning toward his wrists. “I mean you and your friend Tony are much bigger than I am. I doubt that I could get away with the two of you hanging around, even if I knew where I was.”
“Sorry kid, bosses orders.” replied Tony, entering the room and giving the cuffed young man a look that made the apology null and void.
Leading Sandburg down the hallway, four flights of stairs, and another hallway, Al snickered. “Now comes the fun part, huh Tony?”
Both men laughed loudly as they led Blair to a set of double doors, clearly in the basement of the building, decorated with skull and crossbones painted crudely on them.
‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ thought the observer, eyeing the doors warily. Swallowing hard, Blair braced himself to face what awaited him on the other side of them.
Tony opened the doors as Al shoved the young captive through them. The room was empty except for a video camera on a tripod, and a pair of ominous looking shackles hanging down from a steel bar attached to the ceiling.
“What are those for?” Sandburg asked, as he was led over to the shackles.
“You’ll see.” laughed Al, removing the handcuffs and replacing them with the shackles. “Tony, go tell the boss that all is ready for her… party!”
“Yeah, her… party!” snorted Tony, leaving the room with a smirk on his face.
‘Oh man, oh man, oh man.’ the guide thought silently, again wishing he was safe at home with his Sentinel. ‘Jim man, where are you? I really need you man. These guys are like *so* totally un-cool. I have a really bad feeling about this.’
After a few minutes Tony returned with Lily Parks.
“Ah, Mr. Sandburg how nice of you to join our little party.” she snickered, walking over to the camera. “But then it wouldn’t be a party without you now, would it? After all *you* are the main attraction.”
“What are you going to do to me?” asked Blair, his voice tight as fear gripped his furiously racing heart.
“I’m not going to do anything, Mr. Sandburg. That is what my men are for, I am just here to observe and catch it all on video for your friends to see. You’re going to be a star, Mr. Sandburg, so *Smile*!”
With that last word Parks started to record as her two men slowly circled around the frightened captive. Both men were smiling as if they were about to do something they would very much enjoy. Looking back at the camera, Blair closed his eyes, his mouth moving as if in quiet prayer.
“Praying isn’t going to help you any hippie!” laughed Al.
Opening his eyes the young guide said ever so softly, “I’m sorry Jim.” before closing his eyes to await the inevitable.
‘Well detective, let’s see how good you really are when your partner’s life is on the line.’ thought Parks, as she stood silently within a group of students that had assembled behind the police barricade near Sandburg’s office. She was unafraid of being noticed, since she had taken great care to look just like any other student that was curious of what had happened that there were so many cops around campus. ‘My, my, detective, you do look tired.’ she thought, grinning a she watched Ellison speaking to the forensics team, as they searched for clues to Blair’s abduction. ‘I wonder if you slept at all last night. I was so hoping that this game could go on for quite a while, but I don’t know if your Mr. Sandburg can hack it.’ Sighing, she removed a package from the backpack she carried and stepped away from the group of students. Strolling over to the lone officer that was in charge of keeping the curious at bay, she prepared her little speech.
“Excuse me officer, I just found this on the floor, behind the potted plant at the end of the hallway, and thought it might be important.” Parks said, giving her best innocent look as she handed the package to the uniformed man.
Noticing the name on the parcel, the officer called out to Ellison.
“What is it, Murphy?” asked Jim, as he walked over, hoping that maybe the older officer had found a witness to his partner’s abduction.
“Some kid just handed me this. Said she’d found it on the floor,” answered Murphy, “thought it might be important. I noticed your name on it.”
“Where’s the kid now?” asked Ellison, reaching for the package and noticing Simon walking over to join them.
“I don’t know, as soon as she gave it to me she took off. She’s about 5’ 9”, long blonde hair in a ponytail, light blue eyes, wearing blue jeans, a pink t-shirt and white canvas tennis shoes. She was carrying a black leather backpack.” Murphy replied, excusing himself after noticing a few kids trying to sneak across the barricade.
“What is it, Jim?” asked Banks, seeing that his best detective was on the verge of, what Sandburg called, a zone-out.
As Ellison looked up from staring at the package, Simon’s blood turned to ice. Fear, anguish and something he couldn’t quite define was in the detective’s eyes and written all over his face. Grabbing the detective’s arm, he ushered him into a nearby empty office, closing the door behind them. With a deep feeling of dread, he repeated the question.
“Blood, Simon,” the Jim answered, closing his eyes and taking a long shaky breath, “Blair’s blood.”
Cautiously opening the package, after putting on a pair of gloves, Ellison pulled out the items inside, carefully laying them on the desk. The first item was a video with a note taped to it that just said *Watch Me*.
The second item was more upsetting. It was the flannel over-shirt Blair had been wearing the night of his abduction. The shirt was torn and bloody.
“Oh God!” he whispered, clutching the shirt to his chest as he sank into the nearest chair. The coppery scent of his Guide’s blood filled the Sentinel with grief and loss as he looked up to his captain as tears filled his eyes.
“This doesn’t prove anything, Ellison. Don’t start planning a funeral or writing his eulogy, yet.” stated the tall dark captain, laying a hand on his friend’s shoulder as a form of comfort. “I refuse to believe that Sandburg is dead. He may be injured and afraid, but until physical evidence is found that states otherwise, he is still alive and missing, you hear that?”
“Yeah Simon,” answered Jim, quietly, standing up. “I got it.”
“Good! Let’s get back to the station and find out what is on this video. It might help us find Sandburg. You know as well as I do that he wouldn’t provoke a beating no matter how scared he was. Although,” Banks mused, trying to lighten the mood a little, “He does tend to babble quite a bit when he gets nervous.”
“I know Simon,” said Jim, a small smile flitted across his face for a few seconds before becoming serious again, “I just wished I knew who the hell has him and why? Why Blair?”
“It has to be someone who has a grudge against you. Someone who found out the way to hurt you was through him. He’s your Achilles Heel, Jim.” admitted Simon, as he and Ellison exited the office. Grabbing an evidence bag from one of the forensic techs’ cases, he handed it to his friend. They then headed toward the parking lot. “I want forensics to check out Sandburg’s shirt, the video and the box for any other evidence and prints. After that we’ll watch the video, who knows, maybe the kidnappers were sloppy. Keep the faith man, Blair’s smart. Maybe he sent us some kind of hidden message that he knew only you could pick up.”
Climbing in to his car, the dark captain speared his detective with a menacing glare. “And if you tell Sandburg that I said he was smart I’ll deny everything and make you a crossing guard for one of the elementary schools the entire week following Halloween. Think sugar-rush times a couple of hundred.” he added, laughing as he drove away toward the station.
Sitting in the truck Jim stared at the empty passenger seat, a place usually filled by his energetic partner and best friend. “Hang in there, Chief,” he whispered, “I’ll find you even if I have to go to hell itself to bring you home.”
Starting the engine he pulled out of the parking lot and followed his captain back to headquarters. It was already the afternoon and his partner had been missing for over 12 hours.
Jim sat silently at the conference table in his superior’s office, staring out the window.
Simon was plugging in the video equipment while covertly watching his detective. Earlier, while they waited for forensics to finish with the video, Rafe and Brown had spoken to Ellison, trying to lift his spirit and asking what they could do to help. Jim had them going through his files from three years ago to find out who it was he was accused of killing.
“Don’t worry Ellison, we’ll get Hair-boy back.” stated Henri, encouraging a small smile from the dejected Sentinel. *Hair-boy* had become Brown’s own personal nickname for Sandburg. He knew it amused both Jim and his partner when he used it.
“Brown’s right, Ellison,” added Rafe. “We won’t give up until he’s back home safe and sound with you where he belongs. Besides,” he quipped, “I still have to win back what I lost to him at last week’s poker game.”
Jim forced out a tight smile as the two other detectives left Simon’s office as Serena entered carrying the video they were waiting for. “Here’s the video, Captain Banks. There were no prints on it. We’re still processing Blair’s shirt and the box,” she informed the remaining men, “I’ve got my team pulling out the stops, if there’s anything to find, we’ll find it.” Before turning to leave, she added, “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll get back to work.”
“Thanks, Serena.” Banks replied, as the Chief of Forensics exited the office. Closing the door, he turned and took a deep breath. “You ready for this, Jim?” he asked, stealing himself for what they might see when he started the video.
“No,” answered Ellison, “but do I have a choice? Let’s just get this over with and find my partner.”
Starting the video, neither man were prepared for what they were about to see. The image on the screen was that of a leather wing backed chair standing next to a small table that held a tea service set and a tea cup and saucer. All were arranged in front of a floor to ceiling window with a breath taking view of the mountains. A few moments later a young woman in her early 20’s, with long, wavy blonde hair and blue eyes so cold they were almost devoid of color, walked into view. She sat down in the chair and slowly poured herself a cup of, what appeared to be, tea. After spooning in some sugar, pouring in a bit of cream and stirring for a moment she picked up the cup and took a small sip. Every move she made was intentionally slow to increase the watchers level of tension. It was a show of power, one that was very well played.
“Good morning, Detective Ellison,” she said, setting the cup back in to its saucer. “Or perhaps I should say Good afternoon? My name is Lily Parks. You don’t know me, but I most definitely know you. A few years ago you killed my parents and caused me a great deal of heartache and pain. Now is the time for you to pay retribution. I’ve been watching you and Mr. Sandburg for the last four months, Detective, and I came to the conclusion that the one true way to make you feel my pain is to hurt and then kill your precious little friend. At first I thought the two of you were lovers, but then I saw you both going out on dates with the opposite sex. It finally occurred to me that the relationship that you share with Mr. Sandburg is that of brothers, or… of father and son.” Picking up the teacup, she sipped slowly before adding, “It is because of that closeness I chose him instead of your biological brother. Well, enough about that, I think it’s time I show you what I have done to your friend, don’t you? Goodbye Detective Ellison… for now.”
The next scene on the video was Blair, his wrists locked in shackles that hung down from above his head, terror written on his face as he looked toward the camera, closing his eyes his lips began to move, but no sound fell from them that anyone who was not a Sentinel could hear. Turning up his hearing, Jim blocked out all other sounds until there was only his Guide’s voice.
“Jim, we’re up in the mountains outside of Cascade, at a private lodge or compound. I heard the Dam nearby. You know the one I’m talking about, the one Lisa Hughes jumped off. Get me out of here, man. This chick is seriously demented. I don’t know… oh God!”
Hearing the fear in his Guide’s final words, the Sentinel refocused on the screen and what was happening.
“Praying isn’t going to help you any hippie!” laughed one of the men circling his friend.
Returning his gaze to the camera Blair whispered softly, “I’m sorry, Jim.”
Ellison’s heart began to ache and anger slowly welled up inside him like magma in a volcano as he watched as his Guide was beaten, the young man trying not to cry out in pain. Finally, after what felt like hours, even though it was only 20 minutes, the assault ended. Blair’s wrists were released and fell to the floor in an unconscious heap.
Walking in to full view of the camera, Lily Parks looked down on the abused captive, smiling. “Well, well Detective, it seems I misjudged your friend’s stamina. He lasted longer than I anticipated he would. I may have to keep him alive a while longer.” she laughed, signaling her two goons to remove Sandburg from the room. “Well, ‘tomorrow is another day!’ as Scarlett O’Hara said. Goodbye, Detective Ellison, I hoped you enjoyed the show. I certainly did!”
The video ended with that cold, heartless remark.
Taking a deep, cleansing breath Jim finally looked over at his captain. Simon’s eyes were closed and he, like the detective, was taking deep breaths to calm himself.
“I think I know where he is, Simon.” Ellison said, quietly, not trusting the stability of his voice.
“Where, Jim?” the dark captain asked, trying to regain his composure. The beating Sandburg endured was the most savage he’s seen in a long time.
“Remember the Dam where Lisa Hughes jumped? I think they’re nearby.”Jim answered, relaying to his friend what his guide had whispered, rubbing his eyes with his fingertips.
“That’s a lot of area to cover, Ellison.” groaned Banks, removing his glasses and rubbing his forehead to relieve the stress induced headache, brought on by viewing the video. “It would take weeks to check all the private properties up there. Not to mention that all we have is a name that may be an alias, to go on.”
“I know Simon, but…”
A knock on the door kept Ellison from finishing what he was saying.
“Come!” bellowed the tired captain, as he reached for the coffee pot to pour himself and Jim some coffee.
Rafe and Brown entered the office with big smiles on their faces. “Captain, Jim we think we have a lead on who has Sandburg.” announced Rafe.
“Lily Parks.” Jim replied softly, staring out the window.
The two detective’s faces fell, their jaws hanging open in a look of shock and confusion.
Smiling, Simon explained how they knew the culprit’s name. “Parks told us on the video.”
“Oh, well did she also tell you who her parents were?” inquired Brown, recovering quickly from his shock.
“No, she didn’t. What did you find out?” asked Ellison, hoping that they would soon be on their way to bring his Guide home, and send his kidnappers, and attackers to jail. ‘Except the bastards who hurt Blair, they’re mine!’ he thought to himself, the anger inside him still building. If they didn’t find his roommate soon, the magma inside Mount Ellison might just cause an eruption of epic proportion.
“Yeah, Lyle Weston and Mary Parks. Weston was a drug smuggler and gun runner that Jim took down in a fire fight three years ago when a sting operation went sour. Mary Parks was Weston’s long time girlfriend, whom was totally devoted to him.” Henri stated, looking through the notes he held in his hand. “Mary Parks committed suicide the same day Weston was killed. Her note said that she couldn’t live without him, so she took her own life. She OD’d on some drugs Weston had hidden at her home. The file states that they had a daughter who, at the time of their deaths, was 17 years old. Mary was independently wealthy, due to the inheritance she received when her parents died in a car accident when she was 19, and her daughter inherited everything that was not connected to her father’s illegal activities when they died. The girl’s net worth is around 17 million dollars.”
“Here’s where it gets interesting. It was believed that Weston was training Lily to take over some of his operations so that he could spend more time with her mother. It was soon after both parents died that she went ballistic and tried to kill herself. She was committed to a private psychiatric facility out of state, and spent the last three years there under constant care, receiving therapy daily, until she was released about four months ago.” finished Rafe, commenting from his own notes.
Simon smiled; both Rafe and Brown had gone the extra mile to assist him and Jim in getting the young anthropology student back.
Running a hand over his short, cropped hair, Jim, sighing deeply, stood up and gave both men a look of thanks. Turning to look out the window Ellison took a few moments to sort his thoughts, before speaking. “All we need now is to find the place where they’re holding my partner. Rafe, did Parks inherit any property with buildings on it from either of her parents, such as a house, cabin or warehouse?”
“I don’t know, but we can check. Anything specific?” queried Rafe.
“Try up in the mountains outside of Cascade. Somewhere near the Dam, within hearing distance.” answered Jim.
“You got it Jim.” said Brown warmly. Noticing the tiredness in both Ellison and their captain’s faces, he added, “Why don’t you and Simon head home for some rest, you’ve both been at it since last night and I know for a fact that you haven’t had any sleep since the night before last. It won’t do Hair-boy any good if the two of you are too tired to rescue him. We’ll call you if we find anything.”
“Sounds good to me.” muttered Banks, grabbing his jacket. Pushing Ellison out into the bullpen, he handed Rafe the video they had just watched. “Try to ID the two thugs on the video. They beat the hell out of Sandburg. I want them caught and arrested for aggravated assault, kidnapping and attempted murder.”
“You got it, Captain!” Rafe acknowledged, handing Jim his jacket that he had just retrieved from the detective’s chair.
Leading the quiet, tired Sentinel on to the elevator the large dark captain thought hard on his next course of action, not speaking until the doors closed. “Listen, Jim, why don’t you stay at my place tonight? Darryl’s at his mom’s and I know the loft will be too quiet without the kid and all the noise he usually makes.”
“Thanks Simon, I think I’ll take you up on that offer.” He smiled gratefully, adding softly, “I’ve sort of been avoiding the loft since Blair was taken, and I’d really rather not be alone tonight. How about we order pizza for dinner?”
“Sounds like a plan. I have a couple of pints of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food leftover from Darryl’s visit last weekend. I won’t tell Sandburg if you don’t.” quipped Banks, knowing the ribbing that his detective usually got from his roommate whenever he brought a pint of Ben and Jerry’s home, as he walked over to his car. “Leave the truck here. I’ll drive you to the loft to pick up a few things then we’ll head to my place.”
“Sure Simon, whatever you say.” replied the detective, locking up his truck before heading over to his superior’s car, his heart heavy. ‘Hang in there, Chief. I will find you!’
//Day 2 - 6:12 am – Parks’ Lair//
Blair regained consciousness just as the sun was coming up. He remembered being beaten, but had no memory of how he had returned to the room he had originally woken up in after his abduction. He was unsure of the amount of damage to his body. Slowly, he tried to sit up, only to fall back down again as pain shot across his sides and abdomen. His head was hurting also.
‘Okay, let’s try a different way.’ he thought, gasping for air and waiting for the pain to subside. Rolling over to his side he used his arms instead of his stomach muscles to lift himself up into a sitting position. Head spinning, he closed his eyes until the room stopped moving. The whole maneuver only took a few minutes, but left him completely exhausted. ‘Well, now I know how it feels to be run over by a stampede of pissed-off cows.’
Taking stock of his injuries, Blair found a cut above his left eye, which had long since stopped bleeding, he also had a split lower lip as well as multiple bruises and contusions on his chest, sides, abdomen and face, also bruises on his back, if the pain he was feeling was any indication. He figured he had a few bruised or cracked ribs as well as a bruised, not punctured, lung, since it hurt every time he took a deep breath, but he was not coughing up any blood.
‘Okay, Sandburg, let’s see if we can find a way out of here before the gruesome twosome return for another round of the *beat the hell out of Sandburg* game.’ he thought, standing up to slowly walk toward the window. Gazing out the young man heard one of his captors walking outside the door to his prison cell. *Prison cell*? When had he begun to think of this room as a prison cell? Although it did make sense, it was a form of imprisonment. When the captor entered the room, Sandburg did not turn around.
“Ready for breakfast, Hippie-boy?” sneered a familiar voice.
Blair stiffened. It was Al. That voice he could not forget, especially after the beating he received from him and Tony the day before. It was apparent that both men had enjoyed beating him immensely. They were obviously sadists.
“You’d better eat up. You’ll need all your energy for part two of Parks’ game.” laughed Al, leaving the room and locking the door behind him.
Blair slowly turned from the window, wrapping his arms around his stomach, and walked over to the desk where the tray of food had been left. Lifting the cover, Sandburg found eggs, bacon, toast, coffee and orange juice. The utensils, like the plate and cups, were plastic. Nothing he could use as a weapon in an attempt to escape. Sighing, the captive sat down and forced himself to eat. As he took the first bite he winced in pain from the split lip and bruised jaw. It was hard to eat, but he finished the meal in silence knowing his Sentinel was doing all he could to find him. He knew he had to maintain his energy to survive whatever Parks had in store for him, and give Jim the time he needed.
Hearing someone unlocking the door, Sandburg retreated to the window, staring out at the scenery and ignoring the man entering the room, thinking it was probably Al again, there to retrieve the tray.
“So you’re Ellison’s little friend, huh?” a deep, growling, unfamiliar voice asked.
Looking over his shoulder, Blair saw a man he hadn’t met before, and the looks he was giving the captive made him frightened of what this man was capable of. The young guide couldn’t help but feel scared, and answered in typical Sandburg fashion.
“Well unless you have any other Anthropology student/police observers stashed around here I guess it’s a no brainer now isn’t it?” ‘Oh great Blair, get the guy pissed at you why don’t you. Motor mouth Sandburg strikes again.’ he thought.
Before he had time to react, the large stranger grabbed him by the throat and slammed him up against the wall. Fighting black spots in his line of vision, Blair forced himself to remain conscious as the man stared at him with a look of fury that suddenly turned into a dark sadistic grin.
“When Parks is done with her little game, you’re all mine kid.” the man chuckled, holding the young man’s throat with one hand while poking a finger in his chest with the other. “Ellison killed my baby brother a couple of years ago and now it’s my turn. You may not be his brother by blood, but you’re the closest thing he has to family that we can get. Of course my type of fun and games is a little more deadly than Parks. You’re going to be my guinea pig, kid. I get to try out all my new drug mixtures on you. Just think of it as a south-of-the-border interrogation. Maybe it’ll hurt and maybe it won’t.”
Sandburg’s heart was beating a triple-hammer rhythm as he tried to calm himself.
“Leave him alone, Dawson!” barked Tony, as he entered the room. “Parks said you could have him *after* she was through with him, not before. I know you want to scare him, but you’ll just have to wait your turn.”
Blair closed his eyes and tried to control his breathing as he felt the mother of all panic attacks coming. ‘I will not have a panic attack, I will not have a panic attack, I will not have a panic attack.’ he thought, repeating the little mantra over and over.
Feeling Dawson release his throat and move away, the grad student sank to the floor, pulling his knees up to his chest. Keeping his eyes closed he began to rock back and forth, oblivious to the pain it caused, listening as the two men left the room, locking the door behind them. Alone at last, Blair allowed the tears he’d held in come to the surface, rolling down his cheeks.
“Please Jim, please, please, please find me before Dawson gets a hold of me. I’ll never survive it.” he whispered, sobbing.
He sat there for what he assumed was hours, ignoring the pain not only from his injuries, but also from the way he had been sitting, and waited to summoned again. His tears had long since stopped and he was exhausted. Finally they came for him. His escorts were, to his relief, Tony and Al. Dawson, he hoped, was gone for good, but the young man knew he’s not seen the last of him.
“Okay, Hippie-boy, Parks wants to see you again. You know the drill.” said Al, pulling out the handcuffs.
Blair slowly stood up, extending his arms out so that his wrists could be cuffed, and followed the two men out into the hallway once again. He was taken back to the room where he was beaten and transferred from the handcuffs to the shackles. Unlike like the time before, he was not beaten into unconsciousness, but instead Dawson came up behind him, laughing cruelly. Again like the time before, everything was recorded for posterity.
//7:30 am – Major Crimes//
Walking in to the bullpen, Banks and Ellison looked almost as bad as when they left the night before. It was obvious to the detectives that were already there that the two men hadn’t gotten very much sleep. As both men entered Simon’s office they noticed a folder on the conference table with a note attached. It read *Captain, here are the addresses of all the property that Lily Parks inherited and owns. Henri and I will see you and Ellison around 8 in the morning. Rafe*
Smiling, the dark captain looked up at his friend. “Looks like I owe Rafe and Brown lunch. Now all we have to do is find out which one of these locations Sandburg is at.”
“We can disregard any that are inside the city limits Simon, and focus on those in the mountains near the dam.” replied Jim, preparing the coffee maker. It was going to be a long morning and both men needed whatever help they could get, even if it was in the form of a large pot of the hot, dark liquid. The file was thicker than one of his Guide’s notebooks he was always writing in.
Two hours after Rafe and Brown made it in to work, Jim and Simon had narrowed the list to two possible locations. One was a hunting lodge and the other was a small medical facility that had closed because it was too far outside the city to be of any use. Mary had purchased it as a gift for Weston. Banks was reaching for the phone, to call for the warrants they would need to search the sites, when there was a knock at the office door.
“Come!” he bellowed, waiting to see who it was.
Entering the office was Bomb Squad Captain Joel Taggert, carrying bags of food from Wonderburger. He knew that with Sandburg missing, Ellison would forget to eat, wanting nothing more than to focus on finding his partner. Setting the bags on the table he greeted his fellow cops.
Looking up from the file he was studying, Jim smiled. “Joel, what are you doing here? I thought you were at an explosives conference in Texas.”
Noticing the tiredness in Banks and Ellison, Taggert returned the smile. “I was, but Rafe called me yesterday morning and told me about Blair’s abduction. As soon as I hung up I called the airport and caught the first flight back here as soon as I could.” he answered, his smile fading. “You know how I feel about the kid. He’s family, and I want to help bring him home where he belongs. I owe him one.”
“Welcome to the team, Joel!” greeted Jim, a look of understanding in his eyes. He remembered what his partner had done when he helped the larger man overcome his fear of bombs, after being caught in an explosion. Looking around he realized that his co-workers, his friends, were here not because Blair was his partner, but because they were their friends.
“Okay everyone, dig in. We’ll all need our strength to take down those creeps who took our Observer, right?” Taggert commanded, pulling out food and condiments from one of the bags.
Grinning at the group, Ellison thought ‘Sandburg has more big brothers/Blessed protectors than he, or even I realized. Handing the file he had been studying to Taggert, Jim stood up to get the newest teammate a cup of coffee, refilling everyone else’s in the progress.
The group had finished inhaling their meals before Simon ended his call.
Just as Banks hung up the phone there was a knock on the now closed office door.
“Enter!” Simon bellowed, wondering when his office had become Grand Central Station.
The person entering the office was Karen Winslow, head of the mailroom, with a padded envelope. “Captain Banks, this just arrived for Detective Ellison. It’s tagged ‘Priority-Mail-Open-Immediately’, so I decided to bring it up myself, sir!”
“Thank you, Mrs. Winslow.” Banks said, taking the package from the older woman.
“God be with you, in finding Mr. Sandburg, Gentlemen. That young man is such a kind soul. My prayers are with you all and him in this time of need.” Karen stated, closing the door as she left.
“Might as well get on with it.” Simon sighed, opening the envelope, removing a CD case. Looking around at his men, the tall captain grimaced. Focusing on Ellison, Banks’ heart ached at the look on his best detective’s face. He knew before he pushed the play button that this recording might be the one to seen the Sentinel over the edge. This could be a recording of his Guide’s final moments of life.
“Go ahead, Simon.” Jim commanded softly, steeling himself, for whatever they were about to witness.
The five men sat in silence as the video began.
Just like before, there was a long introduction, only this time Parks introduced Dawson and spoke of his deadly *talents*.
After that there was Blair. His hands once again shackled above his head and there was a look of absolute terror on his expressive face. This time though, Jim saw something more, something that told the Sentinel that his Guide was afraid of more than just being beaten. Something darker and more frightening was about to happen. Remembering the message from the last tape, Jim focused his hearing on his partner’s heartbeat, which had accelerated way above normal, and his voice. He was ready this time when his best friend’s lips began to move.
*”Jim, get me out of here, man! This Dawson guy is a psycho. He wants to use me as a guinea pig to test some kind of drugs, and that’s before he kills me. Parks is going to let him have me when she’s done. Please Jim, I don’t know if I can take much more. I’ll hold on as long as I can but… Oh God…” his voice cracked, whimpering.*
Hearing the fear in the last two words, Ellison looked into his Guide’s face and saw tears rolling down his cheeks. The Sentinel’s stomach grew tight and his heart began to ache even more as the man, he assumed was Dawson, walked in to view. As soon as he saw him, Jim felt his lunch rise up in his throat, and he swallowed hard to keep from throwing up all over the floor. He recognized the man, but the name he was known by wasn’t his given name. No, the name the detective knew him by was one that caused fear and terror to anyone who got in his way. He was *Muerte Demonio*, the*Death Demon*, and Ellison knew what he was capable of doing to his partner/best friend/ Guide/ Shaman/ brother. Swallowing hard, he watched helplessly as Dawson plunged the needle of the syringe he carried into Blair’s neck. It was only seconds before the drug took effect. At first his young Guide looked dizzy, as the shackles were removed from his wrists. He then doubled over in agony, falling to the floor, screaming out in pain. Whatever had been in the syringe was tearing him up inside. Every time he cried out, the Sentinel felt as if someone was plunging a knife deep into his own heart. Unaware of the tears that rolled freely down his face, he watched as his beloved Shaman writhed in agony on the floor, unable to give him comfort, feeling impotent. What felt like hours of pain and torture, were only 35 to 40 minutes. Finally, Blair fell in to unconsciousness. As he was dragged away, Parks walked in to view.
“Well, Detective Ellison,” she asked, smiling. “How did you like our little show, hmm? The next one you receive will be quite different. Jake will be exacting his own personal revenge. I believe he will be using your friend as a drug testing guinea pig. Who knows, maybe he’ll enjoy it. Goodbye Detective, and have a pleasant evening.” Turning to walk away she stopped, looking back at the camera. “Oh, I almost forgot, Detective. You needn’t worry. We’ll inform you where to retrieve his body when we’re through.” she laughed, the video ending.
Closing his eyes, Jim covered his face with his hands and tried to regain control of his shattered composure. Taking a deep, shaking breath, he removed his hands and opened his eyes. Looking around the room at his co-workers Ellison knew he wasn’t alone in his pain. Each man’s eyes were red and damp. They all had a look of, very tightly controlled, murderous rage written all over their faces.
Somewhat shakily, Joel was the first to speak. “Bitch!” he hissed, venomously. “Simon, we’ve got to find them before they do anything else to Blair. He’s already weak and he may not survive much more of what they have in store.”
“He’s right, Captain. Sandburg’s one of us.” added Rafe, barely controlling his rage.
“I’m with these guys. Hair-boy won’t survive what Dawson wants to do to him. I don’t think anyone could.” growled Henri, slamming his hand down on to the table.
“It’s worse than we feared, Simon. Dawson is none other than *Muerte Demonio*, the Death Demon.” sighed Jim.
With that bit of info, everyone in the room paled, eyes growing wide. They had all heard of him and knew he was a sadistic, soul-less psychopath who relished in inflicting pain on others. He was to them what Josef Mengele was to the Jews of WWII. Many of his victims were found with their faces screwed up in grotesque masks of pain, their last moments of life forever etched for everyone to see.
Looking at Ellison, Banks was about to speak when his phone rang.
“Banks!” he snapped, answering the phone. He was quiet for a few moments before speaking again. “Great, get them over here now and get the S.W.A.T. team together. We’re leaving in 30 minutes.”
Smiling, he hung up the phone and addressed his men and fellow Captain. “That was the DA’s office. We have the search warrants and they’re on their way over. Now, I want everyone geared up and ready in 25 minutes. Let’s move like we have a purpose, people!”
Motioning for Jim to remain behind, Simon closed the door after everyone else left.
“What did he say, Jim?” Banks asked quietly, fearing the answer.
“Blair said that Dawson had already threatened to…” unable to finish, Ellison looked down at his hands. Hands that had held his partner close to him when he was poisoned with Golden. Hands that had, many times before, eased his young friend’s distress, after he’d had nightmares or gotten too close to a dead body, by a simple squeeze on the shoulder, a quick hug, or holding him until he stopped shaking and crying. Hands that now itched to end the lives of Parks and the men who had dared to harm his Guide. Hands that wanted nothing more than to hold his best friend close and never let him go, lest he be harmed again.
“We’ll get him back, Jim,” Banks whispered, knowing that his friend could hear him. “And when we do, those who took him will have hell to pay for what they did to one of our own.”
Standing up, the worried detective walked toward the door. “Thanks, Simon.” he replied, softly, leaving the office and heading for the elevator.
“Don’t mention it, Sentinel!” the tall Captain answered, softly as the elevator doors shut. Nothing more was said as the two men rode the elevator down to the garage where almost the entire Major Crimes department, as well as the S.W.A.T. team, were suiting up to go into battle. A battle, that none of them had any intention of losing.
//12:15 PM – Parks’ Lair//
Blair didn’t know how long he had been unconscious, but he did know that the pain in his abdomen had let up only slightly. He had been, once again, returned to his cell after Parks was finished with him. Before he could attempt to raise himself off the bed, more painful spasms ripped through his stomach and he fell, yet again, into the soft darkness of unconsciousness, unaware that his Blessed Protector and their friends were on the way to rescue him from this hell on earth in which he was trapped.
After searching the hunting lodge and finding nothing, the Major Crimes and S.W.A.T. teams headed for the second location. It was a small psychiatric facility that was further up in the mountains.
“Okay, people,” announced Banks through his headset, “Let’s go slow and cover all the exits. I don’t want these bastards getting away, and remember they’re holding one of our own in there, so I don’t want any unnecessary gunfire. I don’t want anything to happen to Sandburg!”
With that the teams exited their vehicles and headed into the woods which surrounded the facility. Covering his mouthpiece, Simon whispered to his best detective, “Alright Jim, what do you see and hear?”
Ellison had been scanning the area, looking and listening for any surveillance cameras, motion detection devices, traps or guards, but found none.
“Nothing, Sir, we’re all clear. From what I can hear, Parks and two of her thugs are in the north wing of the building. Blair is in the east wing and it sounds like he’s either sleeping or unconscious. I can’t hear Parks third man, but that doesn’t mean he’s not here.”
Slowly the teams made their way up to the building, checking each door, finding them all unlocked.
“I guess they didn’t expect us to find them.” Henri’s voice quipped, over the headsets.
“Well then, let’s give them a surprise party they won’t soon forget, shall we?” added Taggert.
With Jim’s enhanced senses, they were able to locate and surround the room Parks and company were in. Just as they prepared to enter the room, weapons drawn, Ellison picked up on the conversation the three were having.
*“…yeah, it’s sure nice of you to give that hippy-boy to Dawson as a present, Boss. He sure was devastated when Ellison killed his baby brother.” a voice said.
“No kidding, I didn’t know how long I would have been able to keep him from killing the kid. He sure was pleased when you told him he could have the kid now and not have to wait any longer.” added a second voice.
Before Parks could reply, Jim burst in to the room and stormed over to the young woman. Grabbing her by the hair he stared in to her frightened eyes with ones so cold they resembled steel. “Where’s Sandburg, you sick, twisted Bitch?” he demanded.
Quickly regaining her composure, Parks smiled answering. “You’re too late, Detective. I’ve found a new way to destroy your life. I gave him to Dawson!”
At that, Jim’s face paled then turned red with hardly controlled rage.
“Damn you!” he growled, throwing her across the room to Rafe and Brown, who were standing off to the side. Running out the door, he yelled over his shoulder, “Simon, I’m going after Blair. Dawson is heading right for him and he’s in no shape to fight him off.
“We’re right behind you Jim, go find your partner!” answered Banks, he and Taggert racing after the desperate detective, trying to keep up.
‘Please God,’ the dark Captain prayed silently, ‘let him get there in time.’
“Come on Joel, we may have to prevent Ellison from committing murder.” he shouted, following his friend’s retreating back, hoping they would find Sandburg alone, but fearing that they wouldn’t.
Ellison mentally turned up the dial on his hearing in search for his Guide’s heartbeat. A beat he knew better than his own, a beat so ingrained in to his heart and soul that he knew he could not live without it. It had been after the fountain… after Alex, that he’d come to realize that Blair was his soul-mate, the other half of his soul, the yin to his yang. If his Guide ceased to exist, so would the Sentinel. They were symbiotic. Needing each other to live, grow and just be.
Finally he heard his partner’s heartbeat, and it was racing wildly. His Guide was not alone.
Dawson stood over the young grad student, watching him sleep. Smiling, he realized that it had been too long since he had tested drugs in a young body like Blair’s. It didn’t bother him that the kid was bruised, battered and in pain. He would take as much pleasure from hurting the young anthropologist, as he could, before killing him.
“Wake up, kid. Jake’s here!” he chuckled, removing many pieces of drug paraphernalia from the bag he’d set on the desk.
Moaning, Blair opened his blurry, bloodshot eyes. He felt cold, but wasn’t sure why until he looked down at his body. He was surprised that the only piece of clothing he had on was his boxers. Hearing a noise near the door, he looked up, finding Dawson standing by the desk, preparing a syringe. His heart skipped a beat or two as cold realization hit him. There was to be no more video recordings of his torture. Instead, he now was a guinea pig for a psychopath. Trying to get up, Sandburg became dizzy and almost blacked out from the pain in his sides and abdomen. Before he could escape he felt his tormentor’s big hands grab him around the waist and throw him back down on the bed, leaving him gasping for air, dark spots dancing across his vision. As the spots dissipated, he looked up and saw Dawson pick up the syringe, sticking it into his arm, depressing the plunger.
“This,” his abuser said, smiling evilly, “should help you enjoy the experience, although it may kill you since the drugs I gave you earlier haven’t had time to get out of your blood stream. Oh well, can’t win them all.” he laughed, maniacally.
“Please don’t.” the young victim whimpered, feeling the drugs influence begin. At first he felt light-headed, and his body heavily weighted to the bed, then suddenly all his pain vanished. Glancing toward Dawson, Sandburg watched as he pulled a knife from his bag and walked back to the bed.
Closing his eyes, Blair whispered softly, “Please help me, Jim.” Feeling the bed shift he opened his eyes to find Jake straddling over him with the knife.
“Ever wonder what it would be like to be operated on, not feeling the pain, trapped in your own body, but awake and watching every move the knife made?” the crazy man asked, smiling as he pulled the blade across the young man’s chest. Before he could make another cut the door to the room burst open, wood splintering as it slammed into the wall. Standing in the doorway, barely controlling his rage, stood Ellison, his gun aimed directly at Dawson’s head.
“Get away from him you sick bastard, before I blow your damned head off!” Jim growled menacingly, noticing the cut across his young Guide’s chest, smelling and seeing his life blood seeping into the bed sheets.
Hearing his Sentinel’s voice, Blair shifted his gaze, looking toward him, tears of fear blurring his vision.
“Detective Ellison, what a pleasant surprise.” chuckled Jake, sarcastically. “I was just about to experiment here on your little friend. How about we fight for him, hmm?”
“You’re on, Dawson,” Ellison agreed. “Only I have no intention of losing. The beatings I could have handled, but you tried your sick experiments on my partner… my best friend. For that, I intend to kill you. The fight will just make it self-defense.” added the detective bitterly, returning his gun to its holster.
At that same very moment, Sandburg’s assailant lunged at Jim, using the same knife he had just used on the younger man, intending to kill the detective. Anticipating the move, Ellison kicked the knife from his opponent’s hand, slamming his foe against the wall while throwing strong punches in to his abdomen. Dawson retaliated, punching Jim in the jaw then kicking him in the stomach. Slightly winded, Jim kneed his enemy in the groin, doubling him over in pain, gaining the chance he needed. Wrapping an arm around adversary’s throat he slowly began choking him to death. Focusing on the gasping man, the Sentinel zoned and did not hear his captain’s arrival.
“Ellison, let the man go!” bellowed Simon, trying to separate the two men. He really did not want to have to shoot his best detective, and friend.
Taggert ran straight to Sandburg. The injured young man attempted to sit up, but kept falling back down, his muscles not wanting to co-operate.
“Simon,” gasped Blair, “He’s zoned. Let me do it.” Using what little energy he had left, the young man spoke softly in his best Guide voice, the only voice that would work on his zoned out Sentinel. “Jim, listen to me, man. Let Dawson go.”
Nothing. Ellison was still zoned.
“Don’t do this to me, man.” pleaded the young Guide, voice wavering from both the drugs and fear. “I need you, Jim. I can’t go where you’ve gone. I can’t handle being alone, and that’s just what I’ll be if you kill him, alone. You’ll be in prison and I’ll be alone.”
Simon looked over at Sandburg and saw tears rolling down his face.
“Help me, Sentinel.” the Shaman whispered, sobbing as his voice gave out.
It was the sound of his Guide and Shaman’s final plea, the scent of his tears, and the smell of his fear that finally broke through the Sentinel’s zone. Releasing Dawson, Jim turned and ran over to his partner’s side. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he drew his best friend in to his warm embrace, holding him carefully and burying his face in to his Shaman’s long, chestnut curls.
Taggert and Banks dragged the unconscious suspect out of the room, yelling for medics, both for Dawson as well as Sandburg.
Lifting his head and looking in to his injured friend’s eyes, Ellison proceeded to scan the young man with the same enhanced senses which that same young man had helped train.
“Everything is okay, Blair. He’s gone, now. He can’t hurt you anymore. I won’t let him.” cooed the Sentinel to his chilled Guide, calmly stroking the grad students back as he reached for his roommate’s discarded shirt. “He’s going away for a long, long time. The only way he’ll ever get out is in a pine box.”
“Ellison, how’s the kid?” asked Banks, returning to the room with medics in tow, after dealing with the unconscious Dawson, Taggert close behind him.
“How’re you doing, Chief?” Jim asked, using Blair’s own shirt as a temporary bandage for the cut on his chest. Not wanting to release his injured friend, the Sentinel inside him was warring with his common sense. The Sentinel part of him wanted nothing more than to pick up his Guide and whisk him away from all the pain and horror that had been forced on his bruised and battered body and psyche. The other half of him, the Detective/Ex-Ranger/Best Friend/ Roommate, wanted the medics to hurry up and treat his soul-mate.
Softly, Ellison ran sensitive fingers down his friend’s back, sides and chest checking to see if the younger man had any hidden injuries, such as cracked, broken or bruised ribs or internal bleeding.
“Feeling weird, Jim.” answered Blair, his words beginning to slur. “Can’t move… head’sss sp… spinning. Whas ‘appenun, ‘im?”
“I don’t know, Chief, but we’ll find out just as soon as we get you to the hospital.”
Jim noticed that his young friend was fighting a losing battle to remain awake.
“I’mmmm ssssccared, ‘im. Don’t leave me, pleassssse.” whispered Blair, softly.
“Never, Partner. No matter what, I’ll always be there for you. I’m your Blessed Protector, remember?” the detective answered, pushing a few unruly curls away from his roommate’s face.
All the time the big Detective had been holding his young partner, the medics had been doing their job around him. They knew the injured man was connected to Major Crimes and was, unconventionally, Detective Ellison’s partner. They also knew that after what the young man had gone through, it was in his best interest, and theirs, to not separate him from his bigger, and much, more lethal, detective.
The sound of multiple running feet drew the tall dark Captain’s attention from what was happening on the bed.
Bursting in to the room, Rafe and Brown looked positively ill.
“Bad news, Jim. Parks, the psycho bitch from Hell, said that the drugs Dawson used on Sandburg were experimental and neither knows the full extent of the side-effects, especially since the drugs they gave him earlier hasn’t had time to leave his system. We called in the Medi-Vac chopper to air-lift Hair-boy to Cascade General. There’s a medical team standing by to try to find out what he was given and to counter-act it, if they can.” informed Brown, panting from his mad dash from the other side of the building.
“They may be able to neutralize the drugs before too much damage is done, to Sandburg.” added Rafe, sadly. Knowing the odds weren’t very good. The Grim Reaper was breathing down their necks and none of them could foresee what was to come.
“I can’t lose him, Simon.” whispered Ellison, staring at his best friend, constantly monitoring his condition.
“Jim, if it’s your senses you’re worried about, I’m sure…”
“No, Simon!” Jim ground out cutting off his captain’s false reassurance. “It’s not a … it’s not about that.” Sometimes it was hard to not blurt out things pertaining to the Sentinel/Guide thing. He needed Banks to understand what Sandburg was to him, but there were too many people around who were not privy to the secret. “Blair is more to me than just my …, you know what I mean. Blair’s my roommate, my best friend, he’s … he’s the other half of my soul. If he dies you might as well get us conjoining gravesites.”
Shocked at what he’d just heard, Banks stared, dumbstruck, at Ellison. Before he could come up with a reply, the Sentinel stiffened. His eyes closing as sadness crossed his usually unexpressive face. That sign alone was enough to tell him that something had drastically gone wrong with Sandburg. Glancing at the medics, he asked. “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”
“His condition has just gone from bad to worse, Captain Banks. He’s slipped in to a coma. We need to get him to Cascade General A.S.A.P. if we’re going to have any chance to save him.” answered the older of the two medics.
Looking back at Jim, Simon noticed that his detective’s head was cocked to one side, eyes still closed. Before he could inquire what his friend was hearing, Ellison’s eyes shot open and he quickly scooped his partner up off the bed.
“Chopper’s here, Simon.” the Sentinel announced, pausing only a moment to allow the younger medic to wrap a blanket gently around his beloved Guide, and ignoring the older medic’s protests. Tenderly he carried his best friend out of the room, down the hall and out the nearest exit to the awaiting Medi-Vac team. As the chopper team strapped the grad student in, Jim climbed onboard, signaling for the pilot to take off. Sitting back, he watched as two new medics began to work on his roommate.
“Hold on, Chief!” he whispered, gazing at the un-naturally still form of his friend. “I need you!”
//Later that evening//
Storming angrily in to Sandburg’s ICU room, Banks stopped dead in his tracks, his anger fading in the presence of such obvious pain. Ellison was sitting in a chair beside Blair’s bed, holding on to his hand with a look of heart wrenching loss written all over his face. Walking quietly to the bed, his anger forgotten entirely, the tall captain finally spoke.
“How’s he doing, Jim?”
Sighing, the exhausted detective looked up at his superior’s face, shaking his head. His voice tired and strained.
“It’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen before, Simon. All we can do is wait and hope he comes out of the coma.”
Placing a hand on his friend’s shoulder, he gave it a small squeeze, letting him know he’s there if he needed him.
“Don’t worry, Jim.” whispered Banks, softly. “Sandburg may be small but he’s a hell of a fighter. He’ll come through this and be back typing up your reports in no time.” he added, hoping to alleviate some of his friend’s anxiety.
“I hope so, Simon,” Ellison quietly replied, shifting his gaze from Blair, to Simon and then back to Blair. “I really hope so.”
//Two weeks later//
Blair had finally come out of the coma, but it had been an arduous process. At first Ellison had thought it was his imagination when his partner began to stir. After all, the doctors had told him not to expect anything miraculous regarding his best friend’s awakening. But he had been quietly praying for a miracle since Sandburg had been rescued, and that had been over 12 days ago. Each time the young man had awakened, becoming more aware each instance, Jim had to assure him that he was alright and that his Sentinel would not leave his Guide. It had been a blessing that his partner’s memories of the abduction and subsequent torture had not yet surfaced. In time they would make themselves known, but Jim hoped it would not be until he had his roommate home, safe and recovering in his own territory. But alas, it was not to be. The memories were about to return … with a vengeance.
Blair, slowly opening his eyes, tried to focus on the large figure that was looming over him.
Whimpering, he tried to move away from the blurry, shadowy figure, his heart racing from what he perceived to be Dawson.
“Easy Chief, it’s me.” Ellison said, quietly, grabbing his partner’s shoulders, making sure he didn’t fall off the bed.
“J … Jim?” stuttered the young man, a question in his tone.
“Yeah, Chief, it’s me” the detective answered, brushing a few curls away from his friend’s forehead. “You’re safe now, buddy.” ‘Parks and her men are in jail and can’t hurt you anymore.’ he thought silently.
“How’d I get here? The last thing I remember … oh God!” Blair started shivering, covering his face with his hands. He tried to hide the flow of unstoppable tears from his best friend.
Realizing that the grad student’s memories were returning, Jim cursed softly and sat down on the edge of the bed.
Pulling his young, shell-shocked Guide into his arms, the Sentinel tried to calm him down. Pushing Sandburg’s face against his chest with one hand he rubbed the younger man’s back with the other in slow circular motions.
“It’s okay, Blair,” he whispered, laying his cheek against his shaking partner’s head. “Dawson is in Jail and can’t get anywhere near you. I won’t let him. He’ll never …” Jim’s voice cracked with emotion as he tried in vain to hold back his own tears. Taking a deep breath, he continued, “He’ll never get near you again, Blair. I swear to you on my own life.”
Lifting his friend’s chin up with one hand, Ellison looked down into the young man’s deep blue eyes, seeing in them fear, pain and … trust?
“I wanna go home, Jim.” Blair whispered so softly that only his Sentinel could hear it.
“I know you do, Chief.” answered the detective, “And I’ll take you home just as soon as the doctor gives you a clean bill of health. They have to be sure that whatever you were given is fully out of your system and won’t do any further damage.”
“How soon do you think that will be?” his friend asked, laying his head against his Blessed Protector’s chest, and closing his eyes. The shivering, which had subsided, returned.
Feeling his Shaman’s emotional stability slipping, the Sentinel tightened his arms around his young charge, increasing the contact with him to give him some of his own strength. Just as he was about to reply to Blair’s question, Jim heard footsteps approaching. The odor of Simon’s favorite cigars, and a scent of a flowery perfume let him identify the persons who were about to enter the room.
“I’ll ask the doctor, Chief. Okay, Doc. When can I take my partner home?” asked Ellison, still holding his best friend, waiting for the answer.
“Well, since he’s awake and relatively lucid now, I’d like to run some tests.” she answered. “Only to be sure you don’t have any residual drug in your system, any serious complications, or a relapse, Mr. Sandburg.” the doctor added, checking the patient’s heart monitor. “If all the tests come back okay, you’ll be released to Detective Ellison’s care in a few days. Is that alright with you?”
Glancing down at his roommate Jim saw a faint nod and felt the younger man’s body relax. Laying him back onto his pillows, he answered for his partner, “He’s so okay with that, Doc. I’ll make sure to keep an eye on him when we get home.”
Dr. Eliza Vanlandingham was a somewhat older woman, with silver hair and eyes to match. Eyes that locked with the detective’s own cool blue ones. An eyebrow rose, inquisitively. Jim stared back, giving a look that dared her to ask the question that she had not voiced.
Eliza shifted her gaze to the quiet man lying in the bed, one hand holding tightly on to his friend’s hand, as he pulled up the sheets with the other as if he were cold. Refocusing on Ellison she finally asked the question she had been mulling over in her mind.
“You live together, but are not related?”
“Blair is my partner, best friend and roommate,” growled Jim, staring at her with eyes that became colder still, even … icy. “And no, we aren’t related … not by blood, anyway. We’re as close as, if not closer than, brothers ever could be.” Eyes becoming warm and soft, the Sentinel looked down at his Guide, adding, “I guess you could say that Sandburg *is* my family, and I will protect him as such.”
Looking up to his friend, Blair rewarded the big man with a blindingly bright smile that outshone the sun, even though he was still tired and weak.
“That goes double for me, man.” squeezing the detective’s hand, he whispered, unable to speak louder for fear he’d start to cry. His emotions were fluctuating from low to high levels due to the side-effects of the drug he’d been recovering from.
Eyes locked, they just stared at each other. No matter what, they both knew where they stood with each other … together, side by side, friend by friend, brother by brother, Sentinel by Guide, to the end.
“Okay doc, let’s get those tests run so Ellison can take his partner home.” Banks insisted. Up to now he’s just been observing. “The sooner Sandburg gets home, the sooner things get back to normal … well, whatever normal is in their world.” he chuckled.
No matter how much he denied it out loud, Simon considered the young grad student a friend, and friends stuck together.
“Thanks, Simon.” said Blair, smiling at the big captain, before turning his attention back to his Sentinel, who had chosen to sit on the side of the bed so he was closer to his Guide.
‘That smile,’ Banks thought, ‘Make’s it all worthwhile.’
Exiting the hospital room, the tall captain smiled as he headed down the hallway toward the ICU waiting room. Taggert and the other detectives from Major Crimes were keeping an ongoing vigil, sometimes getting Ellison food and/or drinks, bringing in changes of clothes from home, relaying information to others at the station or university, or just sitting with Sandburg when Jim needed to tend to personal necessities. Whether he knew it or not, the young observer had found a place, not only in Major Crimes, but within each member’s heart. If there was still anyone who didn’t like him, that was their loss, and they had better keep it to themselves or face the wrath of the entire Major Crimes department, not to mention Detective Jim *Don’t Mess With My Partner* Ellison.
Captain Simon Banks would make sure that Police Observer Blair Sandburg would remain a part of his unit. He was, after all, not only Ellison’s partner/Guide/best friend, but he was also, from what Jim had told him in confidence, the other half of his soul. His soul-mate.