New Arrivals
Author-Kim Jackson
Titles

First Meeting
by Kim Jackson

Summary: Kidfic. Ten-year-old Jimmy Ellison meets a two-year-old Blair Sandburg on Halloween, and they immediately hit it off. Jimmy takes Blair trick-or-treating and something horrible happens that has the night ending with a trip to the hospital. Spoilers for Remembrance.

Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters don’t belong to me, unfortunately. I’m just borrowing them.

Ten-year-old Jimmy Ellison lay on his bed throwing his football up in the air and catching it. He was so bored. It was noon on a Saturday, Halloween no less, and he had nothing to do. He was taking his little brother, Stevie, out trick-or-treating later, but trick-or-treating didn’t start until about five or six. So he had about five hours to kill.

He wasn’t really looking forward to trick-or-treating anyway. He liked the candy and the decorations, but he didn’t really like dressing up. He thought he may be getting a little old to be trick-or-treating. But Stevie loved it, and there was really no one else to take him. Dad was busy, like always, and Sally had the night off tonight. So it was up to big brother Jimmy.

Tiring of playing catch with himself, Jimmy got up from the bed and went downstairs. He found his little brother in the living room watching TV.

“Hey Stevie. Want to go to the park and play catch?” Jimmy asked.

“I want to finish watching this,” Stevie replied, not taking his eyes off the TV screen.

Jimmy looked at the screen and shook his head. It was that dumb kids’ show that Stevie was so obsessed about. He couldn’t see what his little brother saw in that show. It was the stupidest thing Jimmy had ever seen.

“Are you sure, Stevie? 'Cause I’m not waiting.”

Stevie looked at him then. “Aw c’mon, Jimmy. You know this comes on every Saturday. I can’t miss it.”

“Alright, Squirt. But don’t complain to me about how I never take you to the park anymore. Tell Dad where I went, alright?”

After receiving an affirmative from Stevie, Jimmy walked out the door football in hand. He tossed the football up in the air and caught it as he walked down the street to the park. When he got there, he looked around. It was a rather large park with monkey bars, several sets of swings, a jungle gym shaped like a dome, and metal slides. There was even one very tall twisty slide that was fun to go down if you had the right coat on. Jimmy had figured that out a few months ago. He had this long nylon coat that went down over his butt. When he slid down that metal slide sitting on that coat he went down so fast he thought he was going to go flying off the bottom. He and his friends had fun doing that over and over.

“Hi.”

The small voice next to him brought Jimmy out of his thoughts, and he looked down at a small boy about two or three with curly brown hair and blue eyes. The boy looked up at him with wide innocent eyes filled with curiosity.

“Uh hi,” Jimmy replied, wondering where this kid’s parents were.

“Whatcha doin’?” the boy asked.

“Uh…I was going to play catch with this football.”

“Why?”

“Because I want to.”

“Why?”

“Because there’s nothing else to do.”

“Why?”

Jimmy sighed. This kid was starting to get on his nerves. He looked down into the wide blue eyes. “Do you really want to know or are you just playing the why game?”

“What’s the why game?” the boy asked innocently.

Jimmy rolled his eyes.

“Oh BJ, stop bothering the nice boy.”

Jimmy looked up at the voice and saw a man and a woman approaching. The boy, BJ, smiled and ran over to them. The woman scooped him into her arms and placed him on her hip. The woman pushed her long, golden blonde hair over her shoulder as she smiled at Jimmy.

“Sorry about that. He likes to ask questions. He does that with everyone.”

“Oh, it’s ok,” Jimmy replied, waving the apology away.

“Hi, I’m Laura and this is my husband, Vic. And this little guy here is BJ.”

“Hi!” BJ exclaimed, waving enthusiastically.

Jimmy smiled and waved back. There was something about this kid. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but he felt drawn to this boy like they had a connection even though they had only just met.

“Hi, I’m Jimmy. Cute kid. Is he yours?”

“Oh no,” Vic replied. “We’re just taking care of him until his mother gets back. Sometimes he can be a handful though.”

“I not a handful, Uncle Vic,” BJ proclaimed indignantly.

“Oh sure you are, but you know what?” Vic said, leaning forward.

“What?”

“We still love you.”

BJ gave him a big smile and gave his uncle a wet kiss on the cheek. “I love you too.” Then he looked at Laura. “Auntie Laura, can I go play with Jimmy?”

“Well, I don’t see why not. If he wants to, that is,” Laura said, looking at Jimmy.

Jimmy looked at the child in the woman’s arms who looked at him with pleading, hopeful eyes. Normally, he wasn’t one to play with kids younger than him except for his brother, but he just couldn’t resist that cute face and those expressive blue eyes.

“Uh sure,” Jimmy replied.

“Yay!” BJ squealed in delight and then wiggled in Laura’s arms until he was put down.

Vic leaned down toward Jimmy. “Do me a favor, ok? Keep a close eye on him. He likes to wander off.”

“Oh don’t worry. I have a little brother who did the same thing. We’ll be fine.”

Vic nodded and then squatted down in front of BJ. “Ok Champ, we’ll be back in an hour. You be good and have fun.”

“Ok Uncle Vic,” BJ said nodding. Then he grabbed Jimmy’s hand and started dragging him along excitedly. “C’mon Jimmy. I wanna go on the monkey bars.”

Jimmy allowed himself to be pulled along indulgently, belatedly waving good-bye to Laura and Vic. They played together for about a half hour. They went on the monkey bars first, and Jimmy amazed BJ with his ability to do the monkey bars all the way through. They went on the swings and the jungle gym and all over the park.

Jimmy couldn’t believe how much energy this kid had. He looked like he could run forever while Jimmy was starting to get tired from chasing him around. But Jimmy had to admit, he was having fun. BJ was so enthusiastic and excited and fun to play with for a two-year-old. Finally, Jimmy just had to sit down for a minute. He sat down on one of the benches around the park and sighed. He considered himself energetic and athletic, but compared to BJ he was an old man.

“Jimmy, Jimmy. I wanna go on the big slide,” BJ said excitedly, bouncing up and down on the balls of his small feet. He did that a lot Jimmy was beginning to notice.

“Ok, go on ahead,” Jimmy said.

“Aren’t you coming?”

“No, no. I gotta rest here for a minute. But you can go. I’ll be right here.”

“You watch me, right?” BJ asked.

Jimmy smiled. “Of course I’ll watch you. Now go on.”

BJ smiled brightly and raced off to the tall slide. He scampered up the steps so fast Jimmy was afraid he might trip and fall. When he got to the top, he waved at Jimmy, who waved back, and slid down the slide with a squeal. Then he went around and climbed up the steps to do it again. Jimmy shook his head, wondering how many times he was going to do that before he got tired of it.

“Hey Jimmy.”

Jimmy took his eyes off BJ at the sound of the familiar voice. A couple of his friends from his football team were walking toward him. He smiled.

“Hey guys.”

“What’s going on?”

“Nothing much.”

“Jimmy! Watch!” BJ shouted from the top of the slide.

Jimmy looked up at him and waved. “I’m watching, buddy,” he called back and watched as the little boy slid down the slide a second time.

“Who’s the kid?”

“Oh no one really. I’m just watching him until his aunt and uncle get back,” Jimmy replied.

“Oh so you’re stuck here, huh?”

Jimmy looked back at BJ who was going for another trip down the slide. He wouldn’t say he was stuck there. He was enjoying himself, and he liked hanging out with BJ although he thought the kid bounced a little too much. It wasn’t like he didn’t want to be there. He did because it made BJ happy. But he wasn’t going to tell his friends that.

He turned back to his friends. “Yeah, kind of,” he replied.

“That sucks. Well, we’re going to the field to play some football with the guys. Join us when you can. And hey, are you going trick-or-treating tonight?”

“Yeah, I’m taking my little brother out.”

“Me too. Maybe we’ll see you out there.”

“Yeah, see ya,” Jimmy said as his friends walked away.

As he watched his friends walk away, he heard a child crying. He immediately turned his head toward the slide, fearing that BJ may have fallen off the slide and hurt himself, but it was worse. BJ was sitting on the ground crying with Aaron Foster and a couple of his buddies looming over him. Jimmy’s protective hackles rose and he shot off the bench with lightning speed. He got in between Aaron and BJ and shoved Aaron away from the little boy.

“Back off, Aaron,” Jimmy said forcefully.

“What’s your problem, rich boy?”

“My problem is you’re picking on a two-year-old who can’t even defend himself. That’s my problem.”

“What’s it to you?” Aaron said nastily. “What’s the matter? Can’t make any friends your own age so you’re playing with little kids? That’s pretty pathetic.”

“No, what’s pathetic is you picking on kids smaller than you. What’s the matter? Do you have such a low opinion of yourself that you have to pick on smaller kids just make yourself feel better? Well, that’s not happening now.”

“Oh yeah. What are you going to do about it?” Aaron asked, giving Jimmy a shove.

“Touch me again and you’ll find out,” Jimmy snapped.

It was well known throughout school Jimmy’s attitude toward bullies. He hated kids who picked on other kids, and he tried to put a stop to it most times. He had become sort of the school protector and every bully knew it, including Aaron it seemed as he backed off a little bit.

“Fine. We’ll leave the little crybaby alone. See you at the game, rich boy,” Aaron said, pushing Jimmy with his shoulder as he walked by followed by his friends.

Once they were gone, Jimmy turned to BJ who was still sitting the ground. He had stopped crying the minute Jimmy showed up, but his breath stilled hitched and he had tear tracks down both cheeks. Jimmy knelt down in front of him.

“BJ, are you ok?” he asked worriedly, checking to make sure he didn’t have any injuries.

BJ nodded, sniffling. “He was mean. He pushed me.”

“I know. He’s like that with everyone.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Because he’s a jerk. Come here.” Jimmy pulled BJ into a hug. Little arms wrapped around his neck and held on tight, and Jimmy rubbed soothing circles on his back to calm him down. Out of the corner of his eye, Jimmy saw a toy store across the street. He pulled back and said, “Hey, how about we go check out that toy store over there.”

BJ looked back at the store and slowly a smile started to form. “Can we?” he asked hopefully.

Jimmy smiled. “Of course we can,” he said as stood up and lifted BJ to his feet. “Now hold on tight to my hand.”

BJ nodded, and Jimmy led him across the street, making sure to look both ways before crossing. They made their way to the storefront which was decorated with all sorts of Halloween decorations. Once inside, BJ’s eyes lit up at the sight of shelves upon shelves of toys.

BJ dragged Jimmy all around the store pointing at this toy and that toy excitedly, bouncing the whole time. He never asked for any of them though, Jimmy noticed. He would just point them out, pick them up, play with them a little bit, and then put them back on the shelf and go on to the next thing that caught his attention.

When they reached the stuffed animals, there was one stuffed animal that caught BJ’s attention. It was a stuffed silver wolf with blue eyes. BJ picked it up almost reverently and started petting it as if it were alive. Then he hugged it tightly to him possessively. It was the only toy that BJ seemed to really want, but he still didn’t ask.

Watching BJ hug this stuffed wolf so tightly, Jimmy didn’t have to the heart to take it from him. He knelt down to BJ’s level.

“You want that?” he asked.

BJ looked at him and then back at the toy. “Uh huh,” he said, nodding.

“Ok, how about I buy it for you?”

A humongous smile stretched across BJ’s face and he started bouncing up and down excitedly. “Really! Oh, thank you, Jimmy!” he yelled, giving Jimmy a big hug. “Are you gonna get one too?”

“Well…” Jimmy said, standing up and turning to the wall of stuffed animals. It seemed like every animal known to man was perched on this wall. Jimmy wasn’t really in to stuffed animals, but there was one that caught his eye. He picked up the stuffed toy and showed it to BJ. “What do you think?”

“I like it. It’s a kitty.”

“Actually it’s a panther,” Jimmy corrected.

“Oh. What’s a panther?” BJ asked curiously.

“It’s a…well, actually it’s a big black cat so I guess you were right,” Jimmy said with a laugh, and BJ giggled.

Jimmy’s hearing suddenly kicked in at that moment, and he could hear Vic and Laura’s voices across the street at the park. They were back and they were looking for them.

“Hey, let’s get going. Your aunt and uncle are back,” Jimmy said, leading BJ to the counter to pay for the two stuffed animals.

BJ gasped and looked around the store frantically. “Where are they?”

“They’re at the park looking for us,” Jimmy replied, handing the clerk the money.

“Oh. How do you know they’re there?” BJ inquired.

“Uh…I heard them.”

“Oh.” BJ paused for a minute and listened. “How come I can’t hear them?”

Jimmy sighed. He had often wondered how it was that he could see and hear things that other people couldn’t. It had been happening for years now. He hadn’t thought he was any different from anyone else at first until a couple of years ago when he saw one of his classmates knock over a display case through the window from all the way across the playground. When he told his teacher and principal what he saw, they thought he was lying, saying that he couldn’t possibly have seen that far. He had gotten in trouble with the school and with his dad, and ever since then he had pretty much kept what he saw and heard and smelled to himself. But with BJ, it had just sort of slipped out and now he didn’t know how to explain. Well, he was only two; maybe he could tell him the truth.

“Um…well…I have special senses. Sometimes I can just see and hear things that other people can’t.”

BJ’s eyes were round as saucers. “Really? What else can you hear?”

Jimmy’s face scrunched in concentration. “Well, I can hear birds flying overhead, people talking next door, and there’s a phone ringing somewhere.” The phone was actually starting to give him a headache. He didn’t know where it was coming from, but it had been ringing since they entered the store. Either someone needs to answer it or the person calling should just hang up.

“Jimmy, are you ok?” BJ asked.

“Huh?” Jimmy looked down into the small face looking up at him. “Oh yeah. My head hurts that’s all.”

BJ took Jimmy’s hand and immediately the sounds in Jimmy’s head dissipated as did the pain. Jimmy’s brow furrowed. That was odd. Maybe there was something special about BJ too.

“Come. Let’s go back to the park,” BJ urged, pulling Jimmy toward the door.

Once back at the park, Jimmy found Laura and Vic pretty quickly. The two adults smiled when they saw the kids’ approach.

“There you guys are. Did you guys have fun?” Laura asked as she picked up BJ who had run into her arms.

“Uh huh,” BJ replied excitedly, nodding his head. He held up the stuffed wolf. “Look what Jimmy bought me!”

“Oh how cute! What are you going to name him?” Laura asked.

“Wolfie!” BJ exclaimed with a smile.

“Wow. That’s a pretty awesome name, Champ,” Vic said.

“Uncle Vic, can Jimmy come trick-or-treating with us?” BJ asked hopefully.

Vic grimaced and traded looks with his wife. He looked guiltily at BJ’s hopeful little face.

“Aw BJ. I’m sorry, pal, but we can’t take you trick-or-treating tonight.”

The smile disappeared from BJ’s face and his lips began to tremble. “Why not?” he asked.

“Because something came up at the last second, Sweetie, and we’re going to have to leave you with a sitter tonight,” Laura answered forlornly.

BJ’s eyes filled with tears. “But I wanna go trick-or-treating.”

“Oh I know you do, Sweetie. Maybe next year,” Laura said and pulled him into a hug.

Jimmy grimaced. He couldn’t stand seeing the kid cry. “I could take him.”

Laura and Vic looked at him, and BJ lifted his head from Laura’s shoulder to look at him with teary eyes.

“Are you sure? This is a big responsibility,” Vic said.

“I’m taking my little brother out anyway. I don’t mind. Besides, me and you will have some fun, right Chief?”

Jimmy blinked. Why did he just call BJ Chief? Bud always called Jimmy Chief, and it had always made Jimmy feel good inside, warm and loved. I guess I just want BJ to feel the same way, Jimmy thought.

BJ’s eyes light up at the prospect and he started bouncing in Laura’s arms. “Yeah! Can I? Can I?”

Vic and Laura smiled. How could they say no?

“Sure you can,” Laura replied. She looked at Jimmy. “We’ll drop him off at your house say around 4:00. What’s your address?”

Jimmy gave them his address, letting them know that he would meet them outside. He didn’t want them knocking on the door in case his father disapproved of his taking BJ along. Jimmy didn’t see a problem with it, but he never knew what his dad would get mad at or disapprove of. And what William Ellison didn’t know wouldn’t hurt him.

“Ok, see you later tonight. Say good-bye to Jimmy, BJ,” Laura said.

“Bye Jimmy!” BJ yelled, waving enthusiastically as Laura carried him away.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Later that day, Jimmy was sitting on the couch waiting for Stevie to get his costume on. He was already dressed in his costume. He was a military officer, dressed in army fatigues with a plastic rifle in one hand a pillowcase for the candy in the other. William Ellison entered the room, and Jimmy immediately stood up.

“Jimmy,” he said.

“Yes Dad?” Jimmy said.

“I want you back in this house by 9:00, no later. Is that clear?”

Jimmy nodded. “Yes Dad.”

With a nod, William turned and walked away, passing Sally as she was coming in from the kitchen. “Sally, I’ll be in my study,” he said as he walked by.

Sally approached Jimmy and placed a hand on his shoulder tenderly. “Jimmy, I want you to be careful out there. And watch out for your little brother.”

Jimmy smiled. “I will, Sally.”

“I’m ready!” Stevie yelled as he came running into the room dragging along his pillowcase. He was dressed as a pirate for Halloween with the stereotypical bandana on his head, patch over one eye, fake bird on his shoulder, and a plastic sword hanging from his waist.

“Alright, come on, Squirt,” Jimmy said, leading his little brother toward the front door.

“Don’t call me Squirt,” Stevie said indignantly and Jimmy just smiled.

“Have a good time, boys. And be careful,” Sally called as they ran out the door to join the other trick-or-treaters on the street.

When they got to the end of the front walk, Jimmy stopped. “Hold on a minute, Stevie.” He looked back at the house to make sure Sally had gone back inside.

“What is it, Jimmy?” Stevie asked.

Jimmy knelt down in front of his brother. “We’re going to have someone else with us trick-or-treating, ok?”

“Who?”

“His name is BJ. He’s only two-years-old. I met him at the park earlier today. His aunt and uncle couldn’t take him trick-or-treating tonight so I said he could come with us. Is that ok?”

“Ok. Where is he?”

Before Jimmy could answer, a black SUV pulled up next to them and Vic and Laura climbed out.

“Hi Jimmy,” Laura greeted as she opened the back door. She un-strapped an excited BJ from his car seat and then pulled him out of the car and placed on the sidewalk.

BJ was dressed as a wolf cub for Halloween. He wore a grey furry full-body suit complete with a hood with floppy ears attached and gloves that looked like paws. He carried a plastic pumpkin shaped bucket in one hand and Wolfie in the other. He was the most adorable thing Jimmy had ever seen.

“Hi Jimmy!” BJ exclaimed excitedly, giving the older boy a big hug.

“Hi BJ,” Jimmy said with a smile, returning the hug. Then he pointed to his brother. “BJ, this is my brother, Stevie.”

“Hi Stevie. I like your costume,” BJ said.

“Thanks. I like yours too,” Stevie returned with a smile.

“Ok, BJ,” Vic said as he knelt down to BJ’s eye level. “We’ll see you later tonight.” He looked at Jimmy. “We’ll pick him up here around 5:30 or 6:00, ok? Here’s my cell phone number just in case you need to call us before then.” He handed Jimmy a piece of paper with the number on it.

Jimmy nodded, and after they each gave BJ a kiss good-bye, Vic and Laura got back into their car and drove away.

“Alright you two. Let’s get going,” Jimmy said as he started walking down the sidewalk. BJ immediately latched onto Jimmy’s hand, and Stevie grabbed onto his other hand.

They walked from house to house all around the neighborhood, joining other trick-or-treaters along the way. Every house they came to, the adults would say how cute BJ was in his costume with his little bucket and Wolfie under one arm. Then they would give him an extra piece of candy just for being cute. And then BJ would always insist that they give extra candy to Jimmy and Stevie too, which they happily obliged.

Stevie couldn’t believe how much power the two-year-old had over all the adults in the neighborhood, but Jimmy wasn’t the least bit surprised. He remembered when Stevie was that age, and everyone kept saying how cute he was. Jimmy had been a little jealous at first, but that didn’t last long because he loved his little brother, and he hoped they would be best friends as well as brothers forever.

About an hour later, the three boys stopped at a street corner. Jimmy and Stevie looked into their pillow cases at all the candy they had gotten.

“Wow. We really got a lot of candy this year,” Stevie said, his head practically all the way in the bag.

“Yeah,” Jimmy agreed, and they started talking about all the different kinds of candy they had.

Unbeknownst to the older boys, BJ was also digging through his bucket of candy and found a candy bar that was different from all the rest. It was a chocolate bar wrapped in clear plastic with a twist tie at both ends. He looked up at Jimmy and Stevie who had their backs to him. It couldn’t hurt to eat just one piece of candy now, right? Nodding to himself, he ripped off the wrapper and stuck the candy bar in his mouth.

Jimmy looked at his watch. “We should probably be heading back now.”

“Why?” Stevie asked.

“Because we have to get back to our house so Vic and Laura can pick up BJ. We can go out again afterwards.”

Suddenly, a loud wail pierced the night air. Startled, both boys turned around to see BJ sitting on the ground crying his eyes out, and blood was pouring out of his mouth.

“Oh my god, BJ!” Jimmy cried as he knelt down next the crying toddler. The metallic smell of blood was almost overwhelming.

“What happened?” Stevie asked with a gasp.

While trying to calm the sobbing child, Jimmy looked around frantically trying to figure out what had caused it. He saw a blood covered candy bar lying on the ground. He picked it up and saw a glint of metal at the end where it had been bitten off. A razor blade, Jimmy realized in horror. Someone put a razor blade in the chocolate bar!

Stevie knelt next to Jimmy, his eyes going wide at the candy bar in Jimmy’s hand. “Who would do something like this?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do we do?” Stevie asked and Jimmy could tell he was frightened.

Jimmy looked around for someone to help, but there was no one around. We must be in a part of the neighborhood where not many trick-or-treaters go, he thought. He looked at BJ. He was still wailing loudly, and blood still poured from his mouth, down his chin, and onto the front of his costume. They couldn’t just sit there. They needed to get BJ some help.

Looking around again, Jimmy scooped BJ into his arms, not caring that he was getting blood on his clothes, and carried him to the nearest house. Both he and Stevie started pounding on the front door frantically. The door was opened by a blonde woman in her twenties. The smile that had touched her lips when she opened the door quickly disappeared when she saw the three boys.

“Please, help. He’s bleeding,” Jimmy pleaded, and he couldn’t stop his eyes from watering because BJ was still crying in his ear, and he hated that the little guy was in so much pain.

“Oh my god. Come in,” the woman said, ushering the boys into the house and closing the door behind them. “Adam! Get in here! Quick!”

A tall, dark-haired man entered looking concerned at the alarm he heard in his wife’s voice. “What is it? What’s going on?” He paused when he saw the boys, the youngest bleeding from the mouth. “Oh god. What happened?” he asked as he ushered them into the kitchen and sat down.

“He ate a candy bar that had a razor blade in it,” Jimmy replied.

“Sonofabitch,” Adam muttered under his breath. “Here, give him to me.” He gently took BJ from Jimmy’s arms and sat him down on the tabletop. “It’s ok, little guy. Just let me have a look.”

BJ’s eyes were tightly closed, squeezing out more and more tears. Jimmy kept his hand on BJ’s arm to try and give him some comfort as Adam looked into BJ’s mouth.

“Well?” Adam’s wife asked.

Adam sighed. “He’s got cuts all on the inside of his mouth, but I can’t tell how bad they are with all the blood. We’re going to have to take him to the hospital.”

“Should I call an ambulance?”

“No, it’ll be faster if we just drive him. Megan, grab the car keys,” Adam said to his wife.

Adam picked up BJ and hurried to the front door with Jimmy and Stevie running along behind. Megan met them outside with the keys, and they hurried toward the blue Escort in the driveway. Jimmy paused halfway there and detoured to the sidewalk. He quickly grabbed BJ’s bucket of candy and his stuffed wolf where he had dropped them. The toddler may not want the candy for some time, but he would certainly want Wolfie with him.

Jimmy paused and looked at the rows of houses they had gone to. He tried to remember where that candy bar had come from, but they had been to so many houses and seen so many people he couldn’t distinguish them.

Jimmy heard BJ’s cries increase and looked back. The child was squirming in Adam’s arms, his little arm outstretched toward Jimmy. Jimmy quickly ran toward them and grabbed BJ’s outstretched hand.

“It’s ok, BJ. I’m not going to leave you,” Jimmy said. He looked at Adam. “I’ll hold him.”

Adam nodded, and Jimmy quickly got into the backseat next to his brother. Adam carefully handed him BJ, and after making sure the toddler was comfortably nestled in the ten-year-old’s lap, Adam closed the door and got into the driver’s seat. BJ calmed down some once he was in Jimmy’s lap, but he was still crying from the pain.

It didn’t take long for them to get to the hospital. Once there, Adam took BJ from Jimmy and carried him into the emergency room closely followed by his wife and the two boys.

“Hey, I need some help here!” Adam called out the minute they walked in the door.

A doctor and two nurses met them immediately.

“I’m Dr. Simms. What happened?”

“He ate a candy bar with a razor blade in it,” Adam replied.

The doctor sighed and shook his head. “Not another one,” he muttered under his breath. Louder, he said, “Alright. I’ll take him. What’s his name?”

“Uh, I don’t know,” Adam replied as he let the doctor take the sobbing child. “These boys showed up with him at our door,” he said, indicating Jimmy and Stevie.

“BJ,” Jimmy replied. “His name’s BJ.”

“Ok, Carol,” he called out to one of the nurses. “Would you take him to Curtain Area 2? I’ll be there shortly.”

“Sure doctor,” the nurse said as she carried BJ away.

The doctor turned to Jimmy. “And what’s your name?”

“Jimmy, and this is my brother Stevie.”

Dr. Simms nodded. “Is BJ your brother too?”

Jimmy shook his head. “No, we were just taking him trick-or-treating with us.”

“Ok, do you know how to get in touch with his parents?”

“His mom’s out of town,” Jimmy replied. “He was staying with his aunt and uncle, Vic and Laura.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out the piece of paper with Vic’s phone number on it. “Here’s Vic’s phone number.”

Simms took the paper and handed it to a nearby nurse. “Judy, would you get the boy’s aunt and uncle on the phone? Tell them to get to the hospital. And also, call the police while you’re at it. Tell them we’ve got another instance of razor blades in chocolate.”

The nurse nodded and walked away.

“Is BJ going to be ok?” Stevie asked.

Dr. Simms smiled down at the younger boy. “We’ll take good care of him. Don’t you worry.” He looked at Jimmy. “Now why don’t you give me your home phone number, and we’ll call your parents.”

Jimmy sighed. He was afraid they were going to do that. Dad was going to be pissed. He reluctantly told the doctor his phone number.

“Good. Now I need you boys to stay out here in the waiting room with these nice people while I go take care of your little friend.” The doctor led the boys to the waiting room chairs along with Adam and Megan.

“Can’t we see him?” Jimmy asked plaintively.

“I’m sorry. But you’ll just be in the way and we’ll need room to work. I’ll let you know how he’s doing.” And with one last smile, the doctor was gone.

Jimmy slumped down in one of the hard plastic chairs and stared down at the stuffed wolf he had unconsciously carried in with him. Stevie climbed onto a chair next to him and Adam and Megan sat down on his other side.

“Hey, I’m sure he’s going to be fine,” Megan said encouragingly.

Jimmy wasn’t listening though. He was too wrapped up in his own feelings of anger and guilt. Anger at the sick sadistic freak who would do something so horrible as put razor blades in chocolate and hand them out to kids, and guilt at having let it happen. He should have paid more attention. He should have kept a closer eye on BJ. If he had, then none of this would have ever happened, and BJ would be home safely tucked away in bed. Jimmy sunk lower in his chair with his head hung low.

He didn’t know how long he sat there like that before a police officer approached him. Jimmy sat up straighter.

“Hi, are you Jimmy?” the officer asked. Jimmy nodded. “I’m Officer Tom Burke. I’m just going to ask you a few questions about what happened tonight, if that’s alright.”

“Ok,” Jimmy replied. He hoped he could be of some help in catching whoever had done this.

“Now, can you tell me exactly what happened?”

“Well, we were out trick-or-treating, and my brother and I stopped at a street corner to look through all the candy that we got. I guess BJ must have snuck a candy bar when we weren’t looking because all of a sudden he started screaming and crying and there was…blood…” Jimmy faltered as he remembered all the blood, the smell of it, the sight of it pouring out of his little friend’s mouth like a river.

Officer Burke placed a hand gently on Jimmy’s shoulder. “It’s ok. You don’t have to go any further. Now are you sure that there was a razor blade in the chocolate he ate?”

Jimmy nodded emphatically. “I saw it.”

“Do you still have it?”

Jimmy blinked. He remembered picking it up off the ground and carrying it along with BJ into the house, but he couldn’t remember what happened to it after that. “No. I must have lost it somewhere. I’m sorry.”

”That’s ok. As long as you’re sure.”

“Wait,” Jimmy said. He pulled his pillow case full of candy closer to him. He couldn’t believe he had managed to hang onto it this whole time. He rooted around inside and pulled out a candy bar similar to the one BJ had eaten. He handed it to the officer. “It looked like this.”

Officer Burke took it and examined it. It definitely looked homemade. He carefully peeled off one end of the plastic wrapper. He gently broke the candy bar in half to reveal a razor blade inside. He wrapped it back up with a sigh.

“Thank you,” he said. “This’ll be very helpful. Do you know which house it came from?”

Jimmy closed his eyes as he thought about it. He could vaguely remember seeing the candy bars being dropped into their bags, but for the life of him he couldn’t picture the person’s face nor the house. He did remember some kind of odor he smelled at the time, but he didn’t know what it was. Some kind of chemical odor he thought, but he wasn’t going to tell the policeman that. How could an odor help them catch this guy anyway? “No, I don’t remember,” he answered, lowering his head.

“Hey, it’s ok. You’ve helped us out a lot.”

“You will catch this guy, right?” Jimmy asked hopefully.

“We’ll do our best,” the officer answered before walking away.

Jimmy wasn’t convinced. He saw the officer met up with his partner at the hospital entrance, and his hearing kicked in.

“Well?” the partner asked.

“It’s definitely from the same place. It’s the same damn candy bar.”

“Did he remember where it came from?”

“No.”

“Damn. None of the kids knew.”

“I know. I don’t think we’re going to catch this guy.”

Jimmy brought his hearing back down to normal. Now he felt even worse. He had so wanted to help the police catch this guy, but admittedly, he hadn’t given them much to go on. Maybe he should have told the officer about that weird smell. Maybe it would have helped in some small way in identifying this guy. Jimmy sighed. They probably wouldn’t have believed him, but at least he would have known that he had given them everything that he knew. If something like this ever happened again, he vowed to tell the police everything, even if he knew it by using his extraordinary senses.

“Jimmy!”

The voice brought Jimmy out of his morbid thoughts, and he lifted his head up to see Vic and Laura approaching him, their faces filled with worry. They both knelt down in front of Jimmy and Stevie.

“Are you two ok?” Laura asked.

“Yeah, we’re ok,” Jimmy replied.

“But BJ…” Stevie began, afraid to finish the sentence.

“Yeah, we know,” Vic said with a pat on the little boy’s shoulder.

Adam stood up and cleared his throat to get their attention. Jimmy had almost forgotten they were there. “Hi, I’m Adam, and this is my wife, Megan. We’re the ones that brought them here.”

Vic and Laura both stood up and shook the couple’s hands.

“Thank you so much for taking care of them,” Laura said.

“How is BJ?” Vic asked.

“We don’t know,” Megan replied sympathetically. “The doctor hasn’t come out yet.”

As if on cue, Dr. Simms entered the waiting room. “Excuse me. Are you BJ’s aunt and uncle,” he asked the new couple.

“Yes, I’m Vic Strauss and this is my wife, Laura.”

“How do you do? I’m Dr. Simms. I treated BJ when he came in.”

“How is he?” Laura asked.

Dr. Simms glanced at the two boys sitting a couple of feet away and started to escort the worried couple out into the hall. “Uh let’s talk out here.”

Stevie looked at his big brother. “Do you think BJ’s going to be ok?”

Jimmy put an arm around his little brother. “Yeah, Squirt. He’ll be ok.” And for once, Stevie didn’t tell him not to call him Squirt. He just laid his head on Jimmy’s shoulder.

Jimmy, meanwhile, concentrated his hearing on the doctor’s voice.

“Your nephew is going to be fine. He did have quite a few cuts on the inside of his mouth, but most of them were superficial and should heal on their own. The laceration in his tongue, however, was pretty deep and did require stitches. His tongue is pretty heavily bandaged so he’s not going to be able to talk for several days.”

“Oh my god. Poor Blair,” Laura said, putting hand over her mouth.

“Blair? I thought his name was BJ.”

“Well, we call him that. It’s his first and middle initial. His full name is Blair Jacob Sandburg.”

“Blair,” Jimmy whispered softly. So that was the kid’s real name. He kind of liked it.

He was about to return his hearing to normal when a small whimper caught his attention. It was coming from down the hall, and he knew instinctively that it came from BJ. Jimmy bit his lower lip. He was tired of sitting here waiting. He needed to see that BJ was ok. So he glanced at Adam and Megan to make sure they weren’t looking and then slowly got up from his chair and started tip-toeing out of the waiting room.

“Jimmy,” Stevie called, following him.

Jimmy paused and turned toward his brother. “Shh,” he said, putting a finger to his lips.

“Where are you going?” Stevie asked in a quieter voice.

“I’m going to see BJ.”

“Can I come?”

With a sigh, he said, “Ok, but you have to be quiet.”

Stevie nodded, and Jimmy beckoned him forward. He halted his little brother’s progress with a hand gesture and peered around the corner to where Dr. Simms, Vic, and Laura were still talking. After making sure they weren’t paying attention, the boys slipped down the hall in the opposite direction. Following BJ’s whimpers, Jimmy led Stevie to a room just down the hall, and they both quickly slipped inside.

Jimmy slowly approached the bed upon which BJ lay. He was glad to see that all the blood had been cleaned and BJ was now in a nice clean hospital gown. All that blood had been making Jimmy nauseous. BJ seemed to be resting comfortably in the large bed except for the crease in the little boy’s forehead indicating that he was still in pain somewhat.

Jimmy reached out and grabbed BJ’s hand. BJ’s eyes blinked open, and he smiled despite the red-rimmed watery eyes. Jimmy smiled back.

“Hey BJ. How are you doing?” Jimmy asked.

BJ reached his little arms toward Jimmy, and Jimmy obligingly gave the little boy a hug, which seemed to calm him down some. Stevie stepped forward and reached his hand out but pulled it back again, afraid to touch anything.

“Hi BJ,” Stevie said. “Don’t worry. We’re here with you. You don’t have to be scared.”

BJ’s smiled widened.

“Hey,” Jimmy said. “I brought something for you.” He brought up the stuffed wolf so BJ could see it. BJ squealed and held his arms out toward the toy, his fingers flexing in a ‘gimme’ gesture. Jimmy happily handed the toy over to him, and BJ squeezed it to his chest so hard Jimmy thought the stuffing was going to come flying out it.

Jimmy turned away slightly looking for a chair he could sit in. BJ must have thought he was leaving because he grabbed onto Jimmy’s arm tightly and pulled him forward slightly. Deciding to forget about the chair, Jimmy sat down on the side of the bed instead.

“It’s ok, BJ. I’m not leaving.”

“Me either,” Stevie chimed in.

The door to BJ’s room opened and Dr. Simms, Vic, and Laura walked in.

“Here you boys are,” the doctor said. “I see you found your friend.”

Vic and Laura hurried to the other side of BJ’s bed.

“BJ, sweetie, are you ok?” Laura asked. BJ nodded. “Oh you poor baby.”

“Oh, and boys,” Dr. Simms called. “Your father’s here.”

Jimmy grimaced and looked down at BJ. “BJ, I have to leave the room for a second.”

BJ shook his head vigorously looking frightened. His grip on Jimmy’s arm tightened just a fraction. Jimmy patted his hand reassuringly.

“It’s ok. I won’t be far.” He leaned forward and whispered in BJ’s ear. “Besides, I can hear you no matter where I am. Remember?”

BJ nodded.

“If you want me, you just make a sound, and I’ll be here.”

With one last pat on BJ’s arm, Jimmy got up from the bed, and he and Stevie left the room. The doctor led them down the hall to the waiting room where their father stood. Jimmy tried to assess the situation, but their father’s face was unreadable. They approached the older man.

“Hi Dad,” Jimmy said.

“Hi Daddy,” Stevie echoed timidly.

William Ellison knelt down in front of his boys and did something that surprised both of them. He hugged them. Jimmy didn’t quite know how to handle the gesture. William didn’t hug his sons often. He pulled away after a minute or two and looked both boys in the eye.

“Are you two ok?” he asked.

Jimmy and Stevie looked at each other. “Yeah, we’re fine,” Jimmy replied.

“Good. Now tell me who this boy is you were with.”

“BJ,” Jimmy supplied. “I met him at the park earlier today. We played together some, and he kind of grew attached to me. His aunt and uncle said that they couldn’t take him trick-or-treating tonight so I offered to take him.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

Jimmy lowered his gaze. “I-I didn’t know what you’d say, and I’d already promised him.”

William sighed and stood up. “Alright. Let’s get home.”

Jimmy looked up in surprise that quickly changed to defiance as he shook his head. “No, I want to stay with BJ.”

“Jimmy, it’s getting late.”

“I promised him I wouldn’t be gone long. He’s more relaxed when I’m there. Can’t I stay just until he falls asleep?”

William pursed his lips as he looked down at his oldest. Jimmy stared back at him tensely waiting for an answer, hoping it’s the one he wanted. Finally, William nodded.

“Alright. Just until he falls asleep. Go on.”

Jimmy smiled. “Yes! Thanks Dad!” he yelled. He was already running back toward BJ’s room, Stevie hot on his heels. He slowed down once he reached the room and entered more slowly not wanting to startle the little boy.

BJ looked at them as they entered. A wide smile appeared on his face despite his tired eyes. The toddler was exhausted, which was understandable considering the night he’d had and it was getting pretty late. Jimmy and Stevie approached the bed. Stevie climbed up on the end of the bed while Jimmy came to stand next to BJ.

“Hey Chief. I told you I’d be back,” Jimmy said.

BJ grabbed Jimmy’s hand tightly practically cutting off the circulation. Jimmy patted the hand gently.

“It’s ok,” Jimmy said. “I’ll stay here until you fall asleep.”

BJ nodded and closed his eyes.

“He’s quite taken with you,” Laura whispered.

“I know. I like him too.”

“You did very well taking care of him. We thank you for that,” Vic said.

Jimmy gave them a small smile, but it didn’t reach his eyes. He didn’t really believe that. He still felt guilty about not keeping a closer eye on him. He hoped he could make it up to the little guy some day.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The next afternoon, Jimmy and Stevie were by the front door waiting for their father to put on his coat so they could leave. As promised, the two boys stayed at the hospital until BJ had fallen asleep, and then William had taken them home, promising them that he would take them back to the hospital to visit the next day. And, true to his word, that’s exactly what they were doing today, and Jimmy couldn’t wait to get back to BJ.

“Dad, are you ready yet?” Jimmy asked.

“Hold on one second,” William called. A minute later, he was walking out of his study and Sally handed him his coat. “Thanks Sally. We’ll be home later.”

Saying their good-byes to Sally, the boys ran out the car. It only took them a few minutes to get to the hospital, and once inside, Jimmy and Stevie immediately ran to BJ’s room. Jimmy smiled as he pushed the door open. His smile vanished, however, when he saw that the room was empty and the bed was made.

“Where is he?” Stevie asked with a frown.

“I don’t know,” William replied. “Oh excuse me,” he called to a passing nurse. “Do you know what happened to the little boy that was in this room?”

“Oh, yes. He was discharged early this morning. Sorry.”

“Thank you,” William said with a sigh. He looked at his boys. “Sorry guys. Looks like we’re too late.”

Jimmy walked into the room and placed his hand reverently on the bed where he had last seen the little boy. It couldn’t end like this. He had to see him again. Maybe he could talk to Vic and Laura and arrange a visit.

“Come on. Let’s go home,” William said.

With his head hanging low, Jimmy followed his father and brother out of the room.

“Dad? Can we call Vic and Laura when we get home?” Jimmy asked.

William patted his oldest on the shoulder. “Of course we can.”

When they got home, however, Vic and Laura’s SUV was parked out front. Jimmy’s hopes rose when he got out of the car, but he could only see the two adults standing by their vehicle and no sign of BJ. His hopes were crushed when he saw them approach with grim faces.

“You went to the hospital, didn’t you?” Vic asked.

“Yeah. What happened? Where’s BJ?” Jimmy asked.

“His mother came back early this morning,” Laura answered. “When she found out BJ was in the hospital, she insisted on getting him out of there.”

”So she discharged him,” William stated.

“Yeah, and then she took off for parts unknown. We don’t know where she went. She never tells us.”

“So he’s gone?” Jimmy asked brokenly.

They both looked at him sympathetically. “Yeah, Jimmy. I’m sorry,” Vic said.

Blinking back his tears, Jimmy ran into the house and up to his room. He couldn’t believe it. BJ was gone, and he would probably never see the kid again. He didn’t even get to say good-bye.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Present

“So, Jim, are you sure you don’t want to go to the department Halloween party?” Blair asked as he came out of his room.

Jim was in the kitchen making a sandwich. He sighed as he grabbed a plate from the cabinet. This was the fifth time his partner had asked him that question.

“Yes, I’m sure,” he answered with a little irritation in his voice.

“Oh come on. It’ll be fun. You could dress up. I’m sure they’ll have a lot of food there,” Blair said, wiggling his eyebrows up and down.

“I’m just not into Halloween and dressing up.”

“Are you kidding? Dressing up in the best part. You can be whoever you want. And you act differently than you normally would and do things you normally wouldn’t do.”

“Look I just don’t feel like dressing up in some silly costume. Halloween is more for kids anyway,” Jim said as he walked to the kitchen table with his sandwich. “You can go if you want.”

Blair sighed. “Whatever, man. I’m going for a walk.”

“Ah, Sandburg, come on,” Jim said, but Blair was already out the door.

Jim sighed. He hated when the kid sounded like that. It always made him feel like he just kicked a puppy or something. Apparently, Blair was really into the holiday, and he just wanted to spend it with his best friend. But Jim just didn’t celebrate Halloween, hadn’t for a long time. He didn’t really know why. He’d make it up to the kid later, he decided as he ate his sandwich.

Once he was finished with his sandwich, he carried the dirty plate to the sink. He’d wash it later. He headed back toward the living area when he heard someone coming up in the elevator. He detoured to the door and opened just as his brother was about to knock.

“How do you do that?” Steven asked.

“Ah, that’s for me to know and you to find out,” Jim answered with a laugh. “Come on in.”

Steven walked in and Jim shut the door behind him. “Where’s Blair?” Steven asked.

“Oh, he went for a walk. I think he’s mad that I won’t go to some Halloween party with him. But you know me and Halloween.”

“Yeah, I know,” Steven said with a nod. “So I just came from Dad’s.”

“Oh yeah. You went to help clear out some of that junk today. Hey, sorry I couldn’t make it. Work, you know.”

Steven waved away the apology. “Hey, it’s ok. No big deal. But I brought you something that I thought you might want to keep.” He reached into his coat and pulled out a stuffed black panther.

Jim smiled whimsically as he took the toy from his brother’s hands. Wow, he hadn’t seen that in years. He didn’t know Dad had kept it.

“I think that was the only stuffed animal you ever owned. You never did tell me where you got it,” Steven said.

“I don’t really remember now,” Jim said as he stared at it. He remembered it being on a shelf in his room like some sort of trophy, and he remembered that it had been special to him. But he didn’t really remember why. He looked at Steven again. “Thanks Steven.”

“Hey, no problem. Hey, listen, I have to go, but we’ll get together next week for lunch or something, ok?”

“Yeah, ok. I’ll see ya later,” Jim said as he escorted his brother to the door.

After Steven was gone, Jim walked to the nearest couch and sat down. He stared down the stuffed animal in his hands. The more he stared at it, the more he remembered. Holding it up in front of him, he remembered picking it out of a whole wall of stuffed animals at a toy store. And he remembered he hadn’t been alone. He’d had a kid with him, a little boy about two years old. He remembered now. He had met the kid at the park and had played with him all day. He had taken him to the toy store and bought him a stuffed wolf, and he had insisted that he buy one for himself too.

Jim smiled as the memories came back to him. He had really liked that kid, BJ his name was. And he knew that BJ had really liked him too. He couldn’t believe he had forgotten the bouncy little boy with the wide smile. His smile faded, however, as he remembered something else. He had taken BJ and Steven trick-or-treating that night, and something had happened, something bad, but he couldn’t remember what exactly. He just remembered a lot of crying, a lot of blood, and sitting in a hospital waiting room. Oh god, what had happened?

Jim looked at the stuffed panther again, trying to will the memories to come but they wouldn’t. It was like there was a mental block in his brain that wouldn’t allow those memories through. He tried to push through that mental block, but the memories still wouldn’t come so he pushed harder.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair walked back up to the loft after walking around the block a few times. He couldn’t understand Jim’s aversion to Halloween. Blair loved the holiday. He didn’t go all out with the decorations and stuff like some people, but he just loved dressing in different costumes and going to parties with some friends. Plus, this was the first Halloween since he had met Jim and Simon and everyone else in Major Crimes, and he had been looking forward to having some fun with his new friends. He guessed that wasn’t going to happen though.

Blair unlocked the loft door and walked in. Jim was seated on the couch staring at something in his hand that Blair couldn’t quite see. He opened his mouth to greet the older man when he realized that Jim hadn’t looked up at his entrance, hadn’t even moved in fact. Tossing his keys in the basket by the door, Blair hurried around the couch and sat down on the coffee table in front of his friend. He knew immediately that Jim was zoned.

“Jim?” Blair said softly, placing a gentle hand on the sentinel’s shoulder.

Jim came out of it immediately and looked at Blair in confusion.

“Easy there, big guy. What happened? You were zoned there for a second.”

Jim sighed and rubbed his face with both hands. “Nothing,” he replied. “Just trying to remember something.”

Blair looked at the stuffed animal in Jim’s lap. He picked it up and turned it around in his hands. “Where did this come from?”

“Steven brought it over from Dad’s. It was mine.”

Blair looked at his partner with a raised eyebrow. “Really. I never thought of you as the stuffed animal type even as a kid.”

“I wasn’t. That was the only one I owned.”

“Huh,” Blair said thoughtfully.

Jim looked at him. “What?”

“Nothing. I just think it’s funny that the only stuffed animal you ever owned happens to be a black panther.” Jim looked at him blankly and Blair rolled his eyes. “Your spirit guide,” he clarified.

“Coincidence,” Jim said.

“Maybe. Of course, I had a stuffed wolf when I was a kid,” Blair said with a shrug. “So what were you trying to remember?”

“Something from my past. Something that happened when I was kid, something bad.”

“Ok, well, maybe I can help you. When did this happen?”

“When I was ten before I found Bud’s body.”

“Ok,” Blair said, leaving it open for the older man to continue.

Jim got up and went to look out the window. Blair remained seated on the couch waiting. There were a few minutes of silence before Jim spoke.

“It was Halloween. I met this kid at the park near my house. He was two years old, and I don’t know, I just took an immediate liking to the kid. We played together for a while, and I don’t think I had had that much fun in a long time. I took him to the toy store across the street. I bought him a stuffed animal, and he suggested I buy one for myself.”

“So that’s where this came from,” Blair said, holding up the toy.

Jim nodded as he turned around.

“So what happened?”

“I took him and Steven out trick-or-treating that night, and something happened. But I don’t know what.” There was irritation in Jim’s voice. “All I remember is a lot of screaming, a lot of blood, and sitting in a hospital waiting room.”

Blair raised his eyebrows. Well, no wonder Jim didn’t like Halloween if something happened on Halloween that was so terrible that he repressed the memory.

“Ok, maybe you’re trying too hard,” Blair suggested. “Take a seat.”

Jim sat back down on the couch. Blair scooted over and sat sideways on the arm with his feet on the cushion in front of him.

“Ok, you know the drill. Close your eyes. Do your breathing. Just relax. Let the memories come naturally. Don’t force them. That’s it.”

Blair watched as Jim’s face relaxed and his breathing slowed. He kept a hand on Jim’s arm as the older man took a walk down memory lane. He waited with bated breath to see if Jim was successful in retrieving the lost memories.

After a few minutes, Jim’s brow furrowed and then his eyes snapped open and a look of horror passed over his face. Blair squeezed his arm as he felt the sentinel tense.

“Oh god,” Jim whispered.

“Jim, what is it?”

“He ate a candy bar that had a razor blade in it.”

“Who? The boy?” Blair asked, and Jim nodded. “Oh my god. What happened?”

“Steven and I were looking through our bags of candy when suddenly he started screaming and crying. We turned around and there was blood pouring out of his mouth. I picked him up and carried him to the nearest house, and the people there took us to the hospital. He cried the whole way there.”

“Man, poor kid.”

“I remember when I saw him in the hospital room,” Jim continued. “He still had tears in his eyes, but he smiled when he saw me. I stayed with him until he fell asleep.” Jim paused, a look of sadness in his eyes. “When we went back the next morning, though, he was gone. His mother had come and taken him earlier in the morning and taken off. I never saw him again. I don’t even know what happened to him. I can’t believe I forgot him.”

“Well, you know you and your track record with repressing trauma, and that sounded pretty traumatic to me,” Blair said. “And with that being so close to finding Bud’s body, it’s no wonder you forgot.”

Jim nodded. It did make sense, but he still felt guilty for forgetting. “You know I really had fun playing with him even though he was eight years younger than I was. He was such an excitable kid you know and bouncy as hell. You should have seen how excited he got when I brought his stuffed…wolf…” Jim trailed off as he realized something. He looked at Blair. “Blair, did you say you had a stuffed wolf when you were a kid.”

Blair nodded minutely. “Yeah. I took it wherever I went.”

“That was the toy I bought BJ.”

“BJ?” Blair said, now catching on to Jim’s line of thinking.

“That was the kid’s name.” Jim paused as he remembered Laura saying BJ’s full name. “Blair Jacob.”

Blair’s eyes widened. “That’s my middle name. Holy shit! Jim, my mom had a couple friends who used to live here in Cascade. I used to call them aunt and uncle and they would call me BJ.”

“Vic and Laura,” Jim supplied, and Blair nodded his mouth hanging open. “It was you,” Jim said in awe. “That kid was you. Oh my god.” He pulled Blair into a big bear hug, shocked beyond belief that the kid who had disappeared from his life so suddenly all those years ago was standing here in front of him.

Blair looked up at him. “I remember now. I was staying with Vic and Laura while my mom went on some retreat I think. I met this boy, I mean you, at the park, and I don’t know. I just wanted to talk to you and play with you.”

“Like you were drawn to me,” Jim said.

“Yeah. Oh man, Jim. This is wild,” Blair said excitedly, bouncing on his toes. “I mean what are the odds that two people would meet as kids and then again nearly thirty years later? Maybe it was fate. Maybe you established me as your guide and I established you as my sentinel even back then.”

“My senses did feel more in control when you were with me,” Jim said.

“Really? Cool!”

Jim watched in amusement as Blair continued to bounce, and he could see now the little kid he used to be. “Well, I see one thing hasn’t changed.”

“What’s that?”

“You’re still bouncy as hell.”

Blair laughed. “That’s very funny.”

“I’m glad you turned out ok, Chief,” Jim said fondly.

Blair smiled. “Yeah, me too. Well, I guess that makes today our anniversary.”

Jim nodded. He hadn’t thought about that. “Yeah, I guess it does.” He looked at his friend. “You still want to go to that party?”

“Yeah.”

“Let’s go.” He got up from the couch.

“Alright,” Blair agreed readily, standing up too. “But I thought you didn’t like Halloween.”

“Well, now I have reason to celebrate,” Jim replied, draping an arm around Blair’s shoulders.

Blair’s smiled widened. “Cool!”

“But I’m not dressing up.”

“Aw c’mon, Jim. I bet we can find a great costume for you,” Blair said as he grabbed his jacket.

Jim kept shaking his head as he grabbed his own jacket and keys. Well, he guessed Halloween wasn’t so bad after all, and if Blair wanted to do something to celebrate the holiday, then he wasn’t going to argue anymore.

The End