by Kim Jackson
Summary: Someone is out for revenge against Jim, and to make matters worse there is something wrong with Jim's senses. Rated R for language and violence.
Author’s Notes: This is not a death story…well, it is, kind of. Well, it’s complicated. You’ll see, but let me assure you that there is a happy ending because that’s the way I like it. I don’t do death stories, and this is probably as close as I’m going to get. Just read all the way through before you judge.
Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters don’t belong to me, unfortunately. I’m just borrowing them.
Jonathan Drucker sat in the visitor’s room of the Cascade PD where he waited to see the prisoner before he was transferred to a federal prison. He took a big chance in coming here. He knew he could be recognized, but he just had to know. He needed information, and this prisoner was just the person who was going to give it to him.
Drucker sat back, flipping a coin into the air and catching it, as a young, brown-haired man in handcuffs was escorted into the room by two uniformed officers. He was seated in the chair opposite Drucker, and the cops left the room to give them a little privacy, standing guard outside the room.
Brown eyes pinned Drucker with a questioning gaze. “Who are you?”
“Who I am isn’t important. I have a few questions to ask you about a certain detective. Perhaps you know him. Ellison?”
The prisoner shook his head. “I’m not telling you anything.”
“You don’t have a choice, Brackett. You don’t tell me what I want to know, you’re a dead man.”
Lee Brackett stared at the man before him. The cold, calculating blue eyes, the slick black hair, the slim build. He wasn’t an attractive man to say the least, and he seemed to have no conscience or morality. Brackett believed that this man was serious in his claim and that he could accomplish the task even with Brackett locked away in a federal prison.
Brackett sighed. He didn’t want to give up Ellison. Not that he was trying to protect Ellison the man. He didn’t have any morals himself. He could care less about the man. No, what he was trying to protect was Ellison the Sentinel. He wanted to use the Sentinel and his Guide again at some point in the future for his own devices. But then again, his life was more important than that.
Brackett sighed again and looked at the man across from him. “What do you want to know?”
Drucker smiled as he continued to flip the coin into the air. All he needed was a little persuasion. “I want to know how you were able to manipulate Ellison the way you did. Get him to do what you wanted him to do.”
Brackett laughed. “I held the city hostage. I think that was quite enough.”
“No. There’s more to it than that. I watched. I saw what he did to get you into that compound. No normal person could do that, which, something tells me, is exactly why you wanted him specifically. What’s so special about him?”
Brackett lowered his eyes, saddened at what he was about to divulge. Sorry, Ellison, but my life is more important than yours, he thought. “I’ll tell you, but you won’t believe it.”
“Ok, here’s how it is…”
Drucker left the police station confidently like he was supposed to be there. On his way to his car, he thought about what Brackett had told him. He shook his wryly. The guy was a certifiable nut. Heightened senses? Sentinels and Guides? Who did he think he was? That story was an insult to his intelligence. Still, it piqued his curiosity.
Drucker reached his car and got into the driver’s seat, still thinking. It did explain all the weird things Ellison was able to do since Drucker started watching him. Like with the Lash case. He still couldn’t figure out how Ellison was able to find his partner so quickly. The police had been working on that case for three months, and they hadn’t even come close to finding out who the guy was let alone where he was taking his victims, and Ellison had done it in a matter of hours.
Not to mention all those times when Ellison seemed to know Drucker was watching him. There were times when Ellison would just look straight at him as if he could see him, but that was impossible. There was no way he could see that far. Unless he was this Sentinel Brackett had been talking about. Maybe there was some truth to Brackett’s story. He’d have to do some research, and he’d definitely have to read Blair Sandburg’s Master thesis on Sentinels.
Drucker finally started the car and pulled away from the curb, heading toward his broken down hotel room. He had work to do.
After hours of doing research, he was able to find out more about Sentinels, and the more he found out the more he began to believe that Ellison really was a Sentinel. But that just dismayed him. That just meant that he wouldn’t be able to get close to Ellison without him knowing it. He’d be able to hear Drucker coming a mile away.
He started a search for something that would help him get rid of Ellison. He found something very interesting. An artifact of some sort that would allow him to take down Ellison once and for all if, that is, it actually worked. It was a little too mystical to be believed, but then again so were heightened senses. He would try it, and if it didn’t work, then he would try something else.
He checked to see where the artifact was located and found it to be on display in a museum in Chicago. Looks like he was going to Chicago.
A couple months later
Detective Jim Ellison sat at his desk in the Major Crime bullpen trying to finish his backlog of paperwork before lunch. It was a hopeless job though. He had a huge stack still to go through in his in-box. God, he hated paperwork. His partner was so much better at it than he was. He wish Blair could help him with it, but Blair was teaching a class at the University this afternoon and wouldn’t be there until around 2:00 p.m. Jim sighed, put the finished form in his out-box, and grabbed another one from the endless stack.
The captain’s office door opened and out stepped Captain Simon Banks. “Ellison, my office!” he bellowed.
Jim sighed. Thank god. Whatever Simon had in store for him, it was better than doing all this paperwork. He would leave the rest of it for Blair to do when he got there. He got up from his desk and entered the captain’s office.
“We’ve got a body down at Holden Park. Get down there and see what you can find out.”
“You got it.” Jim turned to leave but stopped when Simon called him back. “What?”
“Where’s your partner?”
“He’s teaching at the University. He won’t be here until two.”
Simon sighed. He didn’t want to send Jim to a crime scene without Blair. Normally, he wouldn’t hesitate, but lately the Sentinel was zoning out more and more and on the littlest things. He didn’t want that to happen without Blair there to pull him out. It seemed that only Sandburg was able to pull Jim out of one of his zone outs. How or why Simon didn’t know, but he didn’t question it.
Jim saw the uncertainty in Simon’s eyes and knew what his captain was thinking. “I’ll be careful, Simon. I won’t even concentrate hard.”
“See that you don’t. If I have to get called out to that crime scene because my best detective is stuck in a catatonic state, I’ll have to kill you.”
“We wouldn’t want that, now would we? I’ll be fine. See ya later.”
Simon sighed as he watched his door close. He hoped he wasn’t making a big mistake.
Jim parked the truck at the curb and entered Holden Park where all the activity was taking place. He walked up to the uniformed officer assigned to keep the civilians back and identified himself, showing him his badge. After inspecting the badge, the officer handed it back, and Jim proceeded to walk under the caution tape cordoning off the area.
Jim approached Medical Examiner Dan Wolfe where he was kneeling on the ground examining the body. “What have we got, Dan?” Jim asked while putting on latex gloves.
“It’s a female, late 20s with multiple stab wounds to the chest and neck,” Dan reported.
Jim looked up as Rafe and Brown approached. “What have you found out?” Jim asked the approaching duo.
“The body was found hanging from a tree,” Rafe reported. “A kid playing football with his friends discovered it when he saw a pool of blood at the base of the tree. When he looked up…well…you know.”
Jim nodded solemnly. He stood up and stared up at the tree. The rope that was used to tie the body to the tree was still wrapped around a high tree limp. “Any idea how long it was up there?”
Dan stood up. “I’d put the time of death at around midnight last night. But how long it was actually hanging from that tree, I don’t know.”
Jim continued to stare up the tree. He spotted something silver under the rope glinting in the sunlight. Jim zoomed in on it to try to get an idea what it was. He saw that it was some sort of coin, but before he could find out what kind of coin, he felt himself fading away. He knew he was zoning, but there was nothing he could do to stop it.
Blair Sandburg finished teaching his class later than usual, and he was now hurrying down the corridor to get to his office in time for his office hours. His cell phone rang as he was turning a corner. Grunting in exasperation, Blair shuffled the books he was carrying to one arm, reached around into his backpack, and pulled out the ringing phone.
“Hello?” he answered a little breathlessly.
“Sandburg, it’s Simon,” the captain’s gruff voice said.
“Hey Simon. Listen, I can’t talk right now. My office hours start in like two minutes, and I’m not even at my office yet. Why are you calling anyway?”
“Sandburg, I need you to come to Holden Park right away.”
Blair paused at the serious tone in the captain’s voice. His insides filled with dread. He swallowed thickly and asked, “Why? What’s wrong? Is it Jim? Is he hurt?”
“Sandburg. Blair, calm down! He’s not hurt. He’s zoned, and I can’t get him out of it. He needs you.”
Those last three words spurred Blair into action. He turned on his heel and headed in the opposite direction. “All right, Simon. Just keep trying to reach him. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
He hit the end button and then dialed another number as he exited Hargrove Hall. “Hey, Nikki. Listen, do me a favor. Go to my office and put a note on the door saying that my office hours are cancelled for today. I’m heading out. No, everything’s fine. I just have to go help a friend.”
Worry gnawed at him as he drove to Holden Park. What did Jim zone on this time? He seemed to be zoning a lot lately, and on little things that never would have even bothered him before. Blair knew he shouldn’t have left him by himself, but he really couldn’t get anyone to cover for him for this class.
Blair pulled up next a police cruiser and got out. He showed his police observer pass to the officer and then hurried across the park to where Simon was trying to coax an unresponsive Jim back to awareness. There was relief on the big man’s face when he noticed Blair’s approach.
“Sandburg, thank god. Maybe you can reach him,” Simon said.
Blair went straight to Jim’s side. He put his hand on the taller man’s shoulder and looked into the zoned Sentinel’s face. His eyes were open and staring. He placed both hands on either side of Jim’s face and was dismayed at the cool flesh.
“How long has he been like this?” Blair asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe 15-20 minutes.”
Blair sighed. That was longer than he’d ever been in a zone before. He tilted Jim’s head down so that he could look into his vacant blue eyes and started to speak in low, soothing tones.
“Jim, time to come back man. I’m here, and I need you to come back. You’re starting to scare Simon and the other cops. C’mon.”
After a few minutes, awareness began to creep back into ice blue eyes. Finally Jim blinked and took a deep breath. Disoriented, Jim nearly stumbled and fell, but Blair grabbed a hold of his shoulders to steady him.
“Whoa, take it easy there, big guy. Take it slow.”
Jim looked at Blair in confusion. “Chief? What happened?”
“You zoned. Big time.”
“Not again,” Jim groaned, rubbing his face with his hands. “I’m getting tired of this.”
“Yeah, I know. What did you zone on?”
Jim thought about it, trying to remember. “It was a coin.”
“It was some kind of coin. It was tied up in the tree.” Jim looked back up at the tree, trying to see the glint of silver that had captured his attention, but Blair pulled him away.
“No, no. Don’t look at it. We don’t need you zoning again. Simon?” Blair looked at the captain.
“Yeah, I’ll have forensics try and get it. You take him home. And try to figure out what’s going on.”
Blair nodded and started to lead Jim toward where he had parked the truck.
Jonathan Drucker stood at a distance and watched as the hippy kid’s car pulled up. He watched as the kid pulled Ellison out of the fugue state that had been termed zone out in Blair Sandburg’s Master Thesis. The kid had been able to do that every time the Sentinel had zoned. Maybe he really was Ellison’s Guide, as Brackett had said.
Drucker watched idly as Sandburg was helping Ellison to his truck. He had a feeling that these zone outs were a direct result of the artifact he now possessed. He had read that this artifact would cause minor problems with the Sentinel’s senses at a distance, which would then cause zone outs. Drucker had so far stayed far away so as not to be seen, and every time, Ellison had zoned. He wondered what would happen if he got closer.
With a malicious sneer, he moved closer to the scene, his newfound weapon clutched close to his chest.
Blair walked beside Jim, casting surreptitious glances the Sentinel’s way. He was really concerned about these zone outs. Jim has never zoned this much, not even when they were just starting out. There had to be some sort of outside source that was causing it, but what, he didn’t know. It could be anything. Something in the air, something Jim ate, or something he came into contact with recently.
But as Blair thought about it, it couldn’t be something Jim ate. He hadn’t eaten anything he hadn’t eaten before, and if that were the case, it would be happening more frequently. Right now, it only seemed to happen at crime scenes. Never anywhere else. Why was that? This puzzle was giving Blair a migraine.
Blair was brought out of his musings with a start when Jim stumbled beside him. He clapped his hands over his ears, clamped his eyes shut tight, and then fell to the ground like a ton of bricks. Blair raced to Jim’s side.
“Jim!” he cried in alarm.
Blair could see the intense pain etched on Jim’s face. His lips were moving, and Blair could barely hear what he was saying.
“Too loud…too bright…hurts. Make it stop!”
The agony in Jim’s voice threatened to cleave Blair’s heart in two. His Sentinel was having a severe spike, and the Guide in him came to the fore, reaching out to soothe the hurting Sentinel.
“Jim,” he said, gently placing his hand on Jim’s cheek. “Jim, I need you to find the dials and turn them down. I know they’re turned up to the max, but you need to work to get them down.”
Jim shook his head, his eyes still squeezed shut. “Can’t.”
“Yes, you can. You’ve done it a million times. Just listen to my voice, and block everything else out.”
“Sandburg, what happened?”
Blair looked up to see Simon kneeling next to him, concern clear on his gruff features.
“His senses are spiking, bad. I need to get him out of here. I need to get him back to the loft.”
“I’ll drive. You take care of Jim.”
“But what about the scene?”
“Brown and Rafe can handle it.”
Blair gave the captain a tremulous smile. “Thanks Simon.” He stood up, pulling Jim up with him and slinging an arm over his shoulder to steady him. Simon moved to help, but Blair stopped him. “No, don’t touch him. His sense of touch is off the map. You could hurt him.”
Simon paused. His shoulders slumped and he nodded slowly before turning to lead them to his car.
Everything is spinning.
The smell of blood…making him gag…
He just wanted it all to stop. It was too much. Then there was a soft, gentle touch, a touch that calmed his raging senses. A soothing voice was whispering in his ear, telling him to turn down the dials. He latched onto that voice and that touch like a lifeline.
The ride to the loft was spent in silence. Blair and Jim sat in the back seat. Jim was clinging desperately to his Guide, and Blair was rubbing soothing circles on his Sentinel’s back and murmuring reassuring words to calm him. When they reached the loft, Simon went in first, opening the door for the pair as Blair helped Jim inside. He immediately led Jim up to his room and got him settled in his bed.
While Simon waited downstairs, Blair spent twenty minutes to a half hour getting Jim to turn down the dials on his senses and relax. Jim eventually fell asleep leaning against Blair, the attack on his senses having thoroughly exhausted the older man. Blair carefully laid Jim down flat on the bed, and put his sleep mask over his eyes so the light streaming through the skylight wouldn’t disturb the exhausted Sentinel. He then went down to speak with Simon.
Simon turned as Blair came down the stairs. “How is he?”
“Fine. He’s sleeping. He probably won’t wake up until tomorrow morning.”
“Thank god,” Simon sighed in relief.
“Listen, Simon, thanks for all your help, and about what I said earlier, it’s nothing personal. It’s just that my touch doesn’t hurt him because I’m his Guide. When he’s in distress, he instinctively searches out for my touch, my scent, the sound of my heartbeat…”
Simon put up his hand to halt the flow of words. “I get it. It’s not a big deal. It’s a Sentinel thing.”
“Well, I have to get going. Tell Jim he has the day off tomorrow, and try to figure out what happened.”
“Oh don’t worry,” Blair said as he walked Simon to the door. “That’s exactly what I plan to do.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Jim awoke the next morning with a raging headache. He carefully removed the sleep mask and winced as bright sunlight pierced his sensitive eyes, exacerbating his headache. He quickly turned down the dial for his sight and looked around. He realized that he was in his bed in his room at the loft. He didn’t even remember how he got there. He heard his partner puttering around in the kitchen, and the smell of bacon and eggs reached his nostrils. Normally, that would have made his mouth water, but today it just made his stomach queasy.
He slowly got out of bed and headed downstairs. Blair was standing at the stove, scrambling eggs in a pan. He looked up as Jim entered.
“Hey, good morning,” he said cheerfully.
Jim winced and rubbed his temples. “Could you not yell, please?”
Blair frowned. “Sorry,” he said more quietly, even though he had spoken in a normal voice. He watched as the older man took a seat at the table, still massaging his temples. Lines of pain crinkled Jim’s brow, and he looked kind of pale. Blair turned off the stove and went to sit next to his partner. “Are you hungry?’
“Not particularly,” Jim replied, not looking up.
“Come on, Jim. You gotta eat something. You didn’t eat lunch or dinner yesterday.”
“I’m actually feeling really nauseous and I don’t really want to spend twenty minutes puking my guts out. Ok?” The words had come out harsher than he had intended, and he immediately regretted them. “I’m sorry.”
“Hey, it’s ok,” Blair shrugged. He started rubbing soothing circles on Jim’s back. “How’s the head?”
“Pounding. God, I feel like I’ve got the mother of all hangovers. I don’t understand why I feel this way. I’ve had spikes before, and I’ve never felt like this before.”
“Maybe it’s because it was such a severe spike. You’ve never had it that bad before.”
“Listen, why don’t you go lay down on the couch, and I’ll bring you some aspirin and water.”
“No, I’ve got to get to work,” Jim said, preparing to get up.
“Simon gave you the day off. So go lay down and I’ll be right there with your aspirin.”
Jim looked at Blair with eyes filled with pain. Finally, he nodded and went to lie down on the couch. Blair bit his bottom lip as he watched his friend get comfortable. He hated seeing his friend hurting, and the fact that he was having such severe aftereffects of the sensory spike worried him. He was also worried about what had caused such a severe spike in the first place. Whatever it was, he needed to figure it out soon.
He went to the bathroom, shook a couple of aspirin into his palm, and then grabbed a bottle of water from the refrigerator. Returning to Jim, he helped him sit up so he could take the pills. Blair then sat at the end of the couch, leaning against the arm, and pulled Jim toward him so that he was leaning against his chest. He then started to gently massage Jim’s temples.
Jim let out a contented sigh as he relaxed into the touch. He could feel the pain starting to ebb away at his Guide’s ministrations. He felt himself drifting off to sleep.
A few minutes later, Jim was asleep. Blair looked at his sleeping friend and wrapped his arms around him protectively. This latest spike really scared him. He had never seen such pain and anguish on Jim’s face before. He needed to figure out what had caused it, but he would have to do that later. With Jim sleeping against him, it looked like he wouldn’t be going anywhere for a while, which was fine with him. He picked up the remote and turned on the TV, keeping the sound low so as not to disturb the Sentinel.
Blair had convinced Simon to give Jim a few days off so they could figure out what was going with the Sentinel. Jim had protested wholeheartedly, but Blair had taken him aside and explained to him that if they didn’t find out what was going on, then it would keep happening and sooner or later someone was going to get hurt, possibly Blair himself. Jim had deflated at that, reluctantly conceded to the point.
Unfortunately, during those few days, Blair was unable to find out what was causing the zone outs and spikes, and Jim was getting antsy. He wanted to get back to work. Blair had tried to convince him to take a few more days off, but Jim argued that he felt fine. The aftereffects of the spike were almost gone, with only a residual headache, and he hadn’t zoned since the day he had the spike. Blair had reminded him that he only zoned at crime scenes, and since he hadn’t been at any crime scenes since then, it would make sense that he wouldn’t zone, but Jim was adamant at getting back to the station and taking a good look at that coin he had found at the murder scene.
Blair had eventually given up, knowing Jim’s stubborn streak could be a mile long when it suited him, but Blair had vowed that this time, he would not leave the detective’s side. So now three days after Jim had had his sensory spike, they were on their way to the station.
Blair was tapping his fingers on his knee nervously as he stared at the window of the truck. Jim was beginning to get a little annoyed.
“Chief, will you stop fidgeting?”
Blair’s fingers ceased their incessant tapping, and he looked at the man in the driver’s seat. “I can’t help it, Jim. You’re not ready to be going back to work.”
“Yeah, now you are. But what if something happens?”
“Then we’ll deal with it.”
“Jim, we still haven’t figured out what’s causing this. It could get worse.”
Jim looked carefully at his partner and saw the worry and frustration on his face. “Look, Chief, I know you’re worried, but I can’t just stop living my life every time my senses get screwed up.”
“I know,” Blair sighed.
“I don’t plan on going out in the field anyway, and I’m willing to bet that Simon’s not too keen on sending me out in the field either. I’m just going to do some paperwork and have a look at that coin I found.”
Blair stared at him incredulously. “You, willing to do paperwork? This I gotta see.”
Jim gave a mock glare as he pulled into the PD parking garage. Blair smiled back at him.
“So why are you so anxious to have a look at that coin anyway?” Blair asked as they boarded the elevator.
Jim punched the button for the seventh floor. “I don’t know. There’s just something familiar about it, that’s all.”
“Maybe you’ve seen it before, or something like it.”
“Maybe, I don’t know.”
They road the elevator the rest of the way in silence, watching the numbers above the door light up as they hit each floor. The elevator deposited them on the seventh floor, and they entered the Major Crime bullpen. Joel was the first one to notice their entrance and immediately came over to greet them.
“Hey Jim, how are you doing? I heard about that allergic reaction you had at the crime scene. Must have been pretty bad.”
“I’m fine, Joel. Thanks.” Jim looked at Blair as they made their way past Joel to Jim’s desk. “Allergic reaction?”
“Well, I had to tell them something. What did you want me to say? That your senses were going crazy? They’d never buy that.”
Jim nodded. The kid had a point. Brown exited the captain’s office and walked toward them.
“Hey Jim. Feeling better?” he asked.
“Yeah, thanks, H.”
“Good. Listen, forensics left that coin you found at the scene on your desk. Said you wanted to have a look at it.”
“Yeah, I do. Thanks,” Jim said, patting Brown on the shoulder. He went around his desk and sat down. He picked up the plastic evidence bag containing the coin and started to study it.
“Uh, I’ll go get us some coffee,” Blair said, realizing that this may take a while.
Jim only grunted in reply as his partner made his way toward the Break Room. Jim turned the coin over, inspecting both sides. It was some sort of foreign coin, judging from the markings. From where, he couldn’t tell. He knew he had seen something like it, but he just couldn’t pinpoint where.
He was peripherally aware of Blair returning with two cups of steaming coffee. Not taking his eyes off the coin, he received the cup and took a sip. After several minutes of continuous scrutiny, he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Hey, don’t zone on me, big guy,” Blair whispered.
Jim looked at Blair and gave him a strained smile. “Sorry. I’m just trying to figure out where I’ve seen this thing before. It’s driving me nuts.”
“Let me see it.” Blair took the coin from Jim and took a closer look at it. “Jim,” he said in awe, “this is a Mayan coin. It’s got to be five centuries old. Do you know how rare this thing is?”
“I’m guessing pretty rare.”
“Extremely. There are only like ten of these in the entire world.” Blair’s eyes were alight with excitement.
Jim snatched the coin from his partner’s eager hands. “Hold on there, Darwin. This is not some artifact you can study. This is evidence in a murder investigation.”
“Aw come on, Jim. I would never find something like that in a millions years. I just want to…” He paused at the glare he received from his partner. “Ok, ok. I won’t touch it,’ he conceded, putting up his hands in surrender.
Jim nodded, satisfied that Blair wasn’t going to take the coin to some lab to be studied. He held up the plastic bag containing the coin. Sunlight streaming in through the windows glimmered off the surface, and in that instant a memory returned to him.
“That’s it,” he muttered.
“What?” Blair asked, looking confused.
“I’ve seen a coin like this. Not exactly like it but similar.”
“It was outside the Cascade Bank.”
“You mean the one that got robbed?”
The Cascade Bank had been robbed a few weeks ago. The perp emptied the fault, got away with a cool million. Jim and Blair had worked on the case. Jim was able to use his senses to track the suspect, and he was eventually caught. That case was wrapped up and done with.
Jim nodded. “Yeah, it was outside the door. I remember, we were walking up to the door, and the sun glinted off the metal. I only glanced at it for a second. I didn’t think anything of it at the time.”
“You think there’s some kind of connection?” Blair asked.
“But we solved that case a week ago. The guy even confessed. How can this be connected with the murder?”
Jim sighed and dropped the coin back on his desk. “I don’t know.” He leaned his elbows on the desk and started massaging his temples.
Blair put a hand on his shoulder, his face etched with concern. “Hey, you ok?”
“I’m fine,” Jim lied.
“You have a headache, don’t you,” Blair said knowingly.
“It’s not that bad.”
“Yeah right. Look, maybe you came back too soon.”
“Sandburg, I’m fine,” he growled, standing up.
“Where are you going?” Blair stood up with him.
“I’m going back to that bank. I want to see if I can find that coin.”
Jim moved around his desk, but Blair halted him with a hand on his chest. “No way, Jim. You said you weren’t going to leave the station. You said you were going to stay here and do paperwork.”
“Sandburg…” Jim growled.
“No. You zoned there too, remember? We still don’t know what caused it. It could happen again, and you don’t need that. No,” Blair put up a hand to stop any further protests from his partner, “Look, I’ll go if it means that much to you.”
Jim looked skeptical. “And how are you going to find it?”
“I’ll look. My vision may not be as good as yours, but I’m not blind. Just tell me exactly where you saw it.”
Jim sighed, his shoulders slumped. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the keys to his truck. Handing them to Blair, he said, “All right. It was in the grass just to the right of the door.”
“All right. I’ll be back. You stay here and don’t go anywhere until I get back.”
Jim laughed as Blair made his way out the bullpen. He sat back down at his desk and rubbed his forehead. Truth be told, he was grateful Blair had suggested he go instead. His headache was getting worse, and he didn’t want to go out into the sun. The fluorescent lights in the bullpen were already exacerbating his headache.
A couple hours later, Blair returned to the station not only with one coin in hand but with several, each one in a separate Ziploc bag to preserve any fingerprints there might be. It took him only a few minutes to find the coin Jim had told him about at the Cascade Bank. It had also been a Mayan coin but from a different era than the first one.
As Blair had been heading back to the truck, an idea struck. After phoning Jim and letting him know that he was checking a few things out, he headed out to the most recent crime scenes that Jim had visited and had zoned at. And at each one, he found a similar coin to the first two, each one hidden near the crime scene. It took him a while to find a few as they were well hidden if you weren’t looking for them. Or if you were a Sentinel.
He could have kept on going as there were many more that Jim had zoned at, but Blair had really wanted to get back to the station. He was worried about Jim. His voice had sounded strained when he had called him despite Jim’s insistence that he was fine when asked about how he was feeling.
Entering the elevator in the parking garage, Blair hit the button for the seventh floor. Upon entering the Major Crime bullpen, he frowned when he noticed Jim wasn’t at his desk.
“Hey Rafe,” he called to the young detective seated at his desk, “Where’s Jim?”
“Oh, you know what, he’s in the captain’s office. His headache got pretty bad and the captain ordered him to lie down for a while.”
His frown deepening, Blair looked to Simon’s office. The blinds were closed, but Blair could tell there was no light coming from the office. Blair hurried to the door and didn’t even bother to knock as he entered. He immediately spotted Jim lying on the couch, curled into a tight ball, his eyes squeezed shut, and his hands pillowed under his head.
Blair was at his side in two quick strides, kneeling beside him. He placed a gentle hand on his head.
“Jim, buddy, are you awake?” Blair kept his voice low and soothing so as not to irritate Jim’s hearing.
Jim’s eyes opened the tiniest bit, and Blair made sure his body was between Jim and the light shining through the closed blinds. “Chief?” he said in a small whisper.
“Hey, how are you doing?”
“Oh, my head is killing me. I took some aspirin, but it doesn’t seem to be working.”
“Here, come here.” Blair helped Jim sit up slightly so that he could slide in underneath the Sentinel and then leaned him back against his chest. He started to rub Jim’s temples like he had last the other night. It seemed to be the only thing that could soothe the ache in the Sentinel’s head. “Did your head hurt when I left earlier?” he asked quietly.
Jim sighed in relief and contentment. Finally, he answered, “Yeah, but it wasn’t bad.”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t think it would get this bad. I thought I could handle it.”
Blair sighed and continued rubbing Jim’s temples. Getting angry wasn’t going to help the situation and it certainly wouldn’t help Jim. He’d yell later about stubborn-ass Sentinels when Jim was feeling better.
The door to the office opened slightly, and Simon made his way into the room, his eyes immediately going to where he’d left Jim an hour or so ago. His relief was evident when he saw Blair sitting with Jim.
“Hey,” Simon whispered. He quietly closed the door. “How’s he doing?”
“He’s relaxing.” Blair looked up at Simon while his fingers continued to massage. “Why didn’t you call me when it got bad?”
“I wanted to, but Jim insisted not to. You know him and his stubborn streak.”
“Yeah, I know.” Blair returned his attention to Jim, who was falling into a relaxed sleep.
“Where were you anyway?”
“I was checking something out, but we can discuss it later,” Blair said, looking pointedly at Simon.
Simon nodded. “Of course.” He let himself out as Blair continued to care for Jim.
It wasn’t until a couple of hours later that Jim started to stir. His eyes blinked open and he looked blurrily around the darkened room, realizing that he was in Simon’s office. He vaguely remembered Simon escorting him into his office and urging him to lie down. He shifted a bit and found he was lying on something warm and comfortable. Recognizing his partner’s heartbeat beneath his ear, he realized he was lying on Blair.
“Hey, how are you doing?” came Blair’s voice above his head.
He slowly sat up, embarrassed to be lying on top of Blair in his boss’s office. He rubbed his face with both hands, finding with satisfaction that the ache in his head had lessened. He knew Blair was responsible for that, and he looked at the young man a bit sheepishly.
Blair sat up from where he had been leaning against the arm of the couch and scooted forward. “You’re welcome, and we are going to talk about you telling me when you’re in pain.” Blair looked at him sternly.
Jim flinched slightly. Blair had been trying for some time now to get Jim to open up, but it wasn’t as easy as Blair made it out to be. Jim couldn’t just let his feelings out after so many years of suppressing his emotions and hiding them behind a stoic mask.
“But we’ll talk about that later,” Blair added.
Jim relaxed somewhat and cut straight to the point. “So did you find that coin?”
“Yes, and a few other things, but let me get Simon first so I don’t have to explain myself twice.” Blair got up off the couch and went to the door. After calling the captain back into the office, he leaned back against the table across from Jim.
Simon entered his office, and his eyes immediately strayed to Jim, concern clearly visible on his face. “Feeling better, Jim?”
“Much, sir. Thank you.”
“So what’s the story, gentlemen?” Simon asked.
“Well, as far as the problems Jim’s been having with his senses, I have no idea what’s wrong. I haven’t been able to find the cause for all these zones or this recent spike,” Blair answered.
Simon sighed. “So what do we do? Take him off active duty?”
“Hey, wait a minute,” Jim spoke up, but Blair cut him off.
“No. I don’t think so. At least not yet. It hasn’t gotten bad yet. I mean it only seems to happen at crime scenes so far.”
“Hey,” Jim said a little louder. Again he was ignored.
“Yeah, but what if it starts happening at other times. What if it happens during a chase or a shootout?” Simon pointed out.
“Well, then we’ll deal with it.”
“GUYS!” Jim yelled, catching the attention of both men. “Will you stop talking about me like I’m not here? I’m fine!”
“For now, Jim, but this could be a serious problem if it starts getting worse,” Blair said.
“He’s right. You could get yourself or someone else killed,” Simon agreed.
Jim got up off the couch and started pacing. Blair could see that jaw muscle working overtime and decided to step in. “Ok, I think we should talk about this some other time. Right now, I’ve got something to show you guys.” He reached down and picked up his backpack where he had dropped it when he came in. He rummaged around inside it, pulling out six coins wrapped in plastic bags. Placing each one on the table for the other two to examine, he went out to Jim’s desk and grabbed the more recent coin. “Check this out,” he said, placing the coin with the others.
“What is all this?” Simon asked.
“Ok,” he picked up the coin he had retrieved from Jim’s desk. “This is the coin from the murder scene. Now Jim said he had seen something like this before, and that’s when he remembered that he had seen a similar coin at the Cascade Bank when we were there investigating that robbery.” He put down the first coin and held up a second. “This is the one I found at the bank that Jim told me about.”
Simon held the two coins and examined them closely, with Jim looking on. “They look almost the same.”
“Yeah, and they basically are. They’re both Mayan. They’re just from different eras. Now these other coins I found at different crime scenes that Jim and I visited recently. This one is from the bombing at the train station. This one from the jewelry story robbery and these last three are from the arson case,” Blair said, pointing to each coin in turn.
“Three? Wait a minute. There were five buildings that were burned during that case,” Simon said.
“Yeah, but I was only at three of the scenes,” Jim said.
“Exactly,” Blair added.
“Ok,” Simon said, clearly trying to grasp the whole situation, “It’s obvious that these coins are connected, but that doesn’t make any sense. How can all these cases be connected? They’ve been solved.”
“Well, right now the only connection between these crime scenes is that Jim zoned at each one of them.”
“Wait a minute. So now you’re saying that these coins are responsible for Jim zoning?” Simon asked.
“No,” Blair said quickly. “God no. If that were the case, Jim wouldn’t even be in the same room with them.”
“So maybe whoever planted these coins is the one responsible. Maybe whoever this is has nothing to do with these cases. He’s just watching,” Jim suggested.
“That would mean there’s someone out there who knows about your Sentinel abilities. How is that possible?” Simon asked.
“Brackett?” Blair suggested.
“No, he’s still in a federal prison,” Simon said, shaking his head.
“Besides, this isn’t his style. Brackett’s an opportunist. He usually has an agenda, a reason for the things he does.”
“Maybe he’s planning something, and he doesn’t want you to interfere,” Blair pointed out.
“Maybe. But these coins don’t fit,” Jim said, indicating the coins laid out on the table. “Whoever is planting these is trying to get my attention. He wants me to see something.”
“Like what?” Simon asked.
Jim sighed, rubbing his forehead. “I don’t know.”
Blair looked at Jim carefully. He could see the telltale signs of the headache that never really went away. Simon apparently saw it too as he cast a worried glance Blair’s way.
“Ok, that’s it for today. Sandburg, take your partner home,” Simon ordered.
“Simon, I’m fine.”
“Ah, no arguments. I don’t want to see your face until you can go a whole day without a debilitating headache. Now go.” With that said, the captain ushered the two men out of the office and shut the door.
Jonathon Drucker lowered his binoculars and smiled. He had ensconced himself in the perfect place in the building across the street from the Cascade Police Department. The office he was in was being renovated so the owner wouldn’t be back for some time, which gave him the freedom to do what he needed to do unobserved. And he had the perfect view of Simon Bank’s office window.
He placed the binoculars on the windowsill. So they finally found his little presents. It sure did take them a while. He was a little disappointed that Ellison hadn’t discovered them sooner what with his super senses and all, but then again he was so busy trying to keep control of his senses and keep from zoning out that he probably couldn’t concentrate enough to find a little thing such as that.
Well, now that he knew the artifact worked so far, it was time for the final test. He reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a cell phone, and started dialing.
“Yeah, Cramer, it’s Drucker. It’s time. Yeah, they’re just leaving the police department now,” Drucker spoke into the receiver as he looked to the street to see the blue and white truck leaving the PD garage. “You know what to do. No, you lead him to me and nothing else. I’ll do the rest. You’ll get your money later. Look, kid, you want money? I’ll get it to you. You just do what I told you to do.”
He snapped the phone closed and smiled. Now all he had to do was go to the place he had pre-arranged and wait.
Jim drove the truck toward the loft, all the while thinking about those coins and what they could mean. There was something familiar about those coins. He knew he had seen something like that before, and he wasn’t talking about another crime scene this time. No, it was earlier in his past, but he couldn’t think where.
He was brought out of his thoughts when a black Mustang careened out in front of them, driving wildly. Jim put on the brakes and swerved to avoid hitting the vehicle as it sped off down the street, nearly smashing into a parked car.
“Jesus! What’s with this psycho!” Blair yelled.
“I don’t know. Let’s find out,” Jim said, turning on lights and sirens.
“Oh, here we go,” Blair muttered as Jim raced after the Mustang.
The guy drove like a professional racecar driver as he swerved in and out of lanes and passed other cars on the road like they weren’t even there. Jim managed to keep up without hitting anything until they came to an old warehouse where the Mustang stopped, and the driver took off into the derelict building.
Jim got out of the car, pulling his gun, and stretched his hearing toward the building. He found there to be two heartbeats inside.
“There’s more than one.” He leaned back into the car. “I want you to get on the radio, call for backup, and stay here.”
Blair opened his mouth to argue, but Jim was already gone. He sighed in frustration as he picked up the radio to call for backup, hoping to god that Jim would be alright.
Jim entered the building carefully, his gun held in both hands. The place was virtually covered in dust, and there were boxes and crates scattered throughout the large area. He turned up his hearing, tracking the two heartbeats. One was standing still and the other, Jim assumed he was the driver of the Mustang, was moving away from Jim toward the second person.
Jim moved further into the warehouse, moving between stacks of crates. As he walked, he found his senses were starting to slip from his control. He paused, shook his head, and tried to get a handle on his senses, which he was rapidly losing control of.
No, come on. I can do this.
He stood behind a crate, shaking his head to clear it. When he achieved a modicum of control, he moved on. But he soon realized that he couldn’t do this, not alone. His senses started raging out his control. He suddenly felt like he boiling in his leather jacket. The smell of fish from the nearby harbor was making him gag, and sunlight was piercing his eyeballs like red hot pokers. Then there was a sudden scarping sound like metal against concrete that brought him to his knees, clapping his hands over his ears, his eyes squeezed shut.
Jim was vaguely aware of footsteps walking towards him. He opened his eyes, but his vision was starting to blur, and all he could make out of the person walking towards him was a circular, gold medallion or amulet around his neck and a lead pipe in his hand.
“Hello Captain Ellison. Having problems?” a man’s voice asked.
Jim knew that voice, but he couldn’t think through the pain in his head. His vision cleared enough to see the lead pipe being brought up, and he watched in horror as it was swung down to clang hard against a metal cabinet nearby. The resulting sound reverberated throughout the entire warehouse and sliced through Jim’s head like lightening. He couldn’t hold back the scream that escaped his throat as he fell to the ground.
Jim thought he might have lost consciousness at some point, but he wasn’t certain. His vision was cutting out completely now, and all he could make out were dark shapes. All he could hear was the ringing in his ears, and his head felt like it was about to cleave in two. He felt something being placed on his chest, and suddenly there an incredible pain in his chest and he couldn’t breathe.
He struggled desperately to bring air into his lungs, but they stubbornly refused to cooperate. Bright light enshrouded his vision, and he felt himself slipping away into an endless void. He couldn’t fight it. He didn’t have the strength.
Blair, I’m sorry.
That was his last thought as he was whisked away into death’s cool embrace.
Blair sat in the truck, nervously tapping his fingers on his knee. He was worried about Jim. He had a serious bad feeling about this. He didn’t know what it was, but he just felt he should be with Jim.
Why did I let him go alone? Why am I sitting here in the truck? It does Jim no good if I’m sitting out here waiting.
Making up his mind, Blair was about to open his door when he heard an agonized scream that made his blood run cold. Oh god. Jim!
He practically jumped from the truck, not bothering to close the door as he raced toward the warehouse. He didn’t even think about the possible risk. Caution flew out the window when it came to protecting his partner.
He entered the warehouse, his eyes scanning the area. All he could see were stacks of boxes and crates. There was no sign of Jim. He took a step forward and suddenly, there was a bright flash of light coming from deeper in the warehouse. Knowing instinctively that it had something to do with Jim, Blair darted in between crates and boxes. He finally caught sight of Jim’s crumpled form on the ground. He caught a glimpse of someone fleeing the scene, but he didn’t care. The only thing he cared about was his partner. He ran toward his partner at breakneck speed but halted when he saw Jim’s open, unblinking eyes staring lifelessly at the ceiling.
“No,” he whispered, dropping to his knees beside the inert form.
Shaky fingers quested for a pulse, and it just confirmed what he already knew. Jim was dead. Hot tears sprang to his eyes and spilled down his cheeks as he collapsed on top of Jim’s unmoving chest. The sobs came relentlessly, unceasingly as he gripped Jim’s body, mourning the loss of his friend.
He heard sirens outside, signaling the arrival of backup. He heard the door being kicked open and police flooding the warehouse, but he didn’t acknowledge it. He heard guns being cocked, and the police telling him to freeze and to stand up, but he couldn’t move so weighted down he was by grief. He didn’t want to move. The tears continue to flow.
Then Simon was there, telling the officers to put down their guns. Blair heard the captain approach and felt a gentle hand rubbing his back. Blair lifted his head to look at Simon. He could see the question in the captain’s eyes as they strayed to Jim’s body cradled in Blair’s arms.
Blair sniffed. “He’s dead, Simon,” he said brokenly, his voice raw from all the crying.
“Oh no, Jim,” he whispered, as tears welled up in his eyes. He stared at his friend’s deathly pale face for a few moments and then shook himself. He squeezed Blair’s shoulder and then stood up, blinking back the tears. He began ordering his men to start canvassing the area looking for anything they could use to find out what happened here. They had a job to do.
So the police scoured the warehouse. Forensics searched for clues and evidence, all working together like a well-oiled machine to find the culprit of this heinous crime. And all the while, Blair remained where he was, cradling Jim and rocking back and forth. The sobs had long stopped, but there were still tear streaks on his face and he refused to look at anyone. Simon stood on guard over the young grad student, offering silent support.
The hard part came when the coroner arrived. It was a chore trying to get Blair to relinquish his hold on Jim. He absolutely refused to budge, getting agitated and shaking his head furiously whenever someone tried to take Jim from him. It took some time, but finally, Simon was able to coax the young man into releasing his hold. The minute he lost contact with Jim, however, he immediately collapsed into Simon’s arms, gut-wrenching sobs racking his thin frame once again.
Simon held the smaller man in his arms, one hand in the mop of curls holding Blair’s head to his shoulder, and the other rubbing up and down his back tenderly. His chin rested atop Blair’s head, and it was then that he let the tears fall.
Jim’s eyes snapped open and he sat up abruptly, panting heavily. A little disoriented, he looked around, wondering what had happened. He remembered chasing a reckless driver into a warehouse. He remembered his senses going crazy on him. And the pain, oh, he especially remembered the pain, a pain in his chest so intense that it squeezed the air from his lungs. He also remembered someone wearing some sort of amulet and carrying a pipe, and that was all.
He slowly stood up, wondering why he wasn’t in any pain at all as he realized he was still in the warehouse. He looked around, wondering where the perp went and where his gun went. He froze when he heard crying behind him. It wasn’t just normal crying, these were grief-stricken sobs. He slowly turned around, and his eyes widened. There, puddled on the floor was Blair cradling a body in his arms. He couldn’t really see the man’s face Blair was cradling him so closely, but it was obvious that this man’s death had greatly upset his partner.
“Chief?” he said as he knelt down in front of the younger man.
Blair didn’t even look up, just continued crying and rocking.
“Blair, what…” He reached out to touch Blair’s shoulder and was stunned to see his hand go right through as if he wasn’t even there. He stared at his hand in shock. Blair shifted a little, and Jim finally saw the identity of the man in Blair’s arms. It was him!
He jumped to his feet, stumbled backwards, and fell back down on his butt. How could that be? How could he be there and here? It was impossible. Then he looked at his hand again and realized the truth. He knew what the source of Blair’s grief was now. He was dead.
His shoulders slumped. His life was over. His life was over, and yet he was still here, stuck as an earthbound spirit unable to manipulate anything. He never believed in ghosts, but now that he was one, it was kind of hard not to believe. What was he going to do for the rest of eternity? His eyes strayed to Blair, and he was struck by the anguish on the kid’s face. He looked lost and alone, and he knew what he was going to do. He was going to look after the kid. Even though he couldn’t touch him or talk to him, he would find a way to make sure he remained safe.
Jim slowly got up off the floor and moved to sit beside Blair. He really wanted to put a comforting hand on his shoulder but refrained as he knew it wouldn’t do any good to try. So he just sat there, his heart breaking at the sound of Blair’s crying.
He practically jumped up as the door was kicked in and police started to surround the student. He saw them point their weapons at Blair, and his heart lurched. Blair’s back was to them so they couldn’t see who he was. They wouldn’t recognize him so they would automatically assume he was a threat until they saw otherwise.
“Freeze!” one of the officers yelled. “Stand up slowly and put your hands on your head!”
Jim’s eyes darted back and forth, getting more afraid as Blair refused to comply with the demands. He knew that if Blair didn’t do what they tell him, they might force him, and he wasn’t sure how Blair would react to that kind of treatment. The kid was an emotional wreck, and he was clinging pretty tightly to Jim’s body, almost protectively, as if he held on long enough he wouldn’t have to say good-bye. Blair might get hurt if the police had to use force.
Jim began to get frustrated. He wished he could do something, but as a ghost, they couldn’t hear him or see him so there was little he could do.
“Put down your weapons!” a gruff voice yelled.
Jim sighed in relief as he watched Simon push his way through the crowd of police officers, Brown and Rafe behind him. “Thank god,” he whispered.
“Put them down now!” he yelled again when the officers hesitated. After all guns were safely lowered, Simon started to approach Blair. “Sandburg? Blair, are you…” His voice trailed off as he caught his first glimpse of Jim’s lifeless body in Blair’s arms. His breath caught in his throat as he looked at Blair, his hand unconsciously rubbing the kid’s back.
Blair lifted his tear-stained face, sniffing. “He’s dead, Simon.”
“Oh no, Jim,” Simon whispered, his hand hovering over Jim’s body.
Jim stared at his captain, a bit surprised to see the moisture in the older man’s eyes. He had never seen his captain cry before, and he never thought he would least of all over him. It was then that he realized just how important their friendship was to the captain, and Jim was pleased to discover that it was important to him too.
Jim stood back and watched as officers canvassed the area. He had been impressed at Simon’s strength to pull himself together in order to take charge of the situation, but then again that was the captain he knew. He still had tears in his eyes though no matter how hard he tried to hide them.
Jim was relieved when Simon stood over Blair, taking up the Blessed Protector role easily as the kid grieved. It was gratifying to know that the kid wasn’t alone. Looking around, he noticed the other members of Major Crimes casting concerned, sympathetic glances Blair’s way. Yeah, he definitely wasn’t alone. Glancing at Blair, Jim wasn’t sure that the kid knew that. He was still crouched on the ground, holding Jim’s body in his arms, his eyes closed. He had stopped crying, now only the occasional hitch in his breathing disturbing his stillness. He looked lost and alone. It was going to be hard convincing him that he wasn’t alone.
The door opened then and the coroner came in to take the body away. Jim knew that they would have a hell of a time getting Blair to let go. He moved closer to Blair as Simon approached and put his hands on the young man’s shoulders.
“Blair, it’s time to let go, son,” Simon said gently.
Blair shook his head.
“Blair, you have to let go.”
Blair shook his head again, this time more violently. Tears were streaming down his cheeks again.
Jim knelt down in front of Blair and leaned in close. “Chief, listen to me. You have to let go. I know you don’t want to, but you have to. I’m not going to leave you. I promise. I’ll be right by your side all the time for as long as you need me. C’mon, buddy, let go.”
Blair stopped crying suddenly. He lifted his head and looked right into Jim’s eyes, and Jim could have sworn he saw him. Then his eyes slid to Simon. Jim wasn’t sure if Blair was listening to Simon or him, but slowly Blair’s grip began to loosen.
“That’s it, Blair. Ease him down,” Simon whispered.
Once Blair had lowered Jim completely to the ground, Simon gently pulled the kid to his feet and guided him away, letting the coroner move forward with the body bag. Once they were a few feet away, Blair broke down and started crying again in Simon’s arms. Jim listened to Blair’s heartbroken sobs and wished he could do something to comfort his young friend, but it looked like it was up to Simon to do that. The captain didn’t disappoint. He held the young man until he calmed down some and then led him out of the warehouse. Jim followed.
By the time they got to the loft, Blair was all cried out and completely exhausted. Simon helped Blair to his room and into bed. Blair was so emotionally and physically exhausted that he fell asleep once his head the pillow. Simon pulled off Blair’s shoes and pulled the covers over him.
As Simon turned to leave, he paused and picked up a framed picture that had been sitting on Blair’s desk. He smiled. It was of Jim and Blair at a police baseball game. Jim had been laughing at something Blair had said and had an arm around the younger man’s shoulders. Blair had a mega-watt smile on his face as looked up at his larger friend. Simon had taken the picture without them knowing it. He had wanted to capture the two of them at their most relaxed, most casual. Blair had loved the picture, and Simon had given it to him.
He looked at Blair’s smiling face in the picture and wondered sadly if he would ever see the kid smile like that again. He shifted his gaze to Jim. He felt tears threaten once again as he realized that he would never see his friend again.
“Oh, Jim, why did you have to leave us?” Simon whispered. “I’m not sure the kid’s going to get through this.”
Unbeknownst to Simon, Jim stood in the doorway of Blair’s room watching. “I never left, Simon.” He looked at Blair’s sleeping form. “And I’ll do everything I can to make sure he gets through this.”
Of course, Jim knew that Simon wouldn’t hear him, but he felt he had to say something.
Simon replaced the picture on the desk and left the room. He paused outside the door and shivered. A sudden chill had come over him, but was quickly gone. He rubbed his arms and made his way over to the larger couch. He made himself comfortable, grabbing the afghan off the back and draping it over himself. He didn’t want to leave Blair alone.
Jim still stood in Blair’s door, processing the fact that his captain had just walked right through him. It was a weird sensation to have a person walk through him like he wasn’t even there, which technically, he wasn’t. It took him a moment to realize that Simon was staying the night to watch over Blair. He felt relieved that Blair wasn’t going to be alone.
Having nothing better to do, since as a ghost, he didn’t sleep, he went out to the balcony. He had to endure walking through the balcony doors. It was just as unnerving as having Simon walk through him. He was going to have to get used to that. He stared out over the city, remembering at the last minute not to lean against the railing. The last thing he needed was to fall through the railing down to the street, not that he would get hurt or anything, but he didn’t want the experience.
Blair jerked awake. His dreams had been filled with images of Jim writhing in agony, his scream of pain echoing in his ears. Oh god, what had happened? Then he remembered, and it took all his will power to prevent the sob from escaping his throat. He looked around and realized he was in his room. How had he gotten here? Then he remembered Simon holding him and guiding him into the loft. He sighed heavily as he got out of bed.
He paused just outside his door as he noticed the lump on the couch. His heart swelled with hope that it might be Jim. That what had happened had all been one horrible nightmare, and Jim was fine. His hopes were dashed, however, when he saw that it was Simon on the couch. He sighed, wondering what the older man was still doing there.
Not wanting to wake the captain, Blair looked back at his bed. He realized he wasn’t going to get back to sleep, at least not in his own bed. His gaze moved upward to Jim’s bedroom up above. Making his decision, he went back into his room, grabbed the Cascade PD sweatshirt Jim had given him one cold winter’s night in December, and padded across the room and up the stairs.
He paused at the top and surveyed the room. The room was immaculately neat and clean with everything in its place, just the type of thing an anal-retentive cop loved. Clutching the sweatshirt in one hand, he went around the room just touching things. His fingers caressed over everything on the dresser, nightstand, and in the closet.
Tears sprang to his eyes once again as he began to realize that Jim really was gone. He would never hear him laugh or tell a joke. He would never see him smile or clench his jaw like he did so much. He would never feel the cuffs to the back of the head Jim liked to do when they were fooling around. He would never feel the strong arms embrace him when he was upset. He would never feel the security he always felt in the presence of his Sentinel. He was alone. All alone. Of course, he knew that Simon and the other detectives in Major Crimes would try to be there for him, but none of them were Jim. None of them could replace what he had lost.
Blair put on the sweatshirt and crawled into Jim’s bed. Clutching one of the pillows to his chest, he lay down, pulled the blankets to his chin, and cried into the pillow. He felt so weighted down by pain and loss, grief and guilt. Guilt was the strongest. He blamed himself for Jim’s death. He should have been there. He should have been by Jim’s side, not waiting in the truck. He had never listened to Jim’s order of stay in the truck. Why did he have to listen to it at that time, when Jim needed him the most? He was supposed to be Jim’s partner, his backup, and he had failed. And Jim had paid the ultimate price.
Blair cried harder. “I’m sorry, Jim,” he sobbed. “I’m so sorry.”
Jim, having heard his Guide walking up the stairs, had followed from the balcony and now stood at the top of the stairs. Tears were streaming down his own face at the pain his young friend was in. He wished he could comfort him and reassure him that what had happened wasn’t his fault. But all he could do was watch.
There was an investigation into the death of Detective James Joseph Ellison. After the autopsy, the coroner had ruled out suicide, natural causes, and accidental death, which left only one avenue, murder. Unfortunately, they were having a hard time proving that as well. According the coroner, there were no marks on the body, not even a scratch. There were no internal injuries either. The coroner concluded that Jim had been a healthy adult male and could find no reason that he should be dead. It was hard to prove a murder took place if there was no cause of death.
Nevertheless, Jim’s death was treated as a murder, mostly at Blair’s insistence. He kept saying that Jim had been murdered and that he had seen someone fleeing the scene. That had been enough to convince the detectives of Major Crimes. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of every detective in Major Crimes, the investigation went nowhere. No clues were ever found, no evidence was ever collected, and no suspects were ever arrested.
After a month of no solid leads, the investigation was closed, officially. Unofficially, every man and woman in Major Crimes would continue the investigation on their own time. It was never spoken out loud, but it was silently agreed upon by every detective. They would not rest until whoever was responsible for Jim’s death was caught. Even if it took years.
A few days after the investigation was closed, Jim’s body was released for proper burial. Normally, the body isn’t kept for so long, but the coroner had wanted to keep it for a while longer to see if he could figure out a cause of death or at least find out something new. Blair had been fine with that. He hadn’t been to anxious to attend Jim’s funeral anyway, and even though he didn’t like the idea of someone digging around in Jim’s body, he knew it was pertinent to the case.
Simon graciously took care of all arrangements and expenses for the funeral to Blair’s tremendous relief. He wasn’t in any shape to deal with any of that. The one responsibility he did take on was telling Jim’s father and brother about Jim’s death. That had been hardest. Blair knew how hard the three Ellisons had worked to repair their relationships, and now that was never going to happen.
The day of Jim’s funeral finally arrived, and Blair stood in the loft bathroom dressed in the only suit he owned trying to tie his tie. He never could get that damn thing right. Jim had always helped him. Growling in frustration, he finally threw the tie to the floor after the tenth failed attempt. He leaned his hands on the sink and looked into the mirror at a stranger’s reflection. He hadn’t slept well, or at all really, since Jim’s demise. His face was pale, and there were dark circles under his eyes. He looked terrible.
He sighed as he turned away from the mirror, trying to deal with all the emotions swirling around inside. He’d been dreading this day ever since it happened. He still wasn’t sure he wanted to go to the funeral. Laying Jim to rest meant that he really was gone, and he wasn’t sure he was ready to accept that just yet. He wasn’t sure he was ready to say good-bye to the best friend he had ever known. He felt so alone.
“Sandburg?” Simon said as entered the bathroom. “Are you ready?” He looked down and saw the tie lying on the floor at his feet. He bent to pick it up and pulled Blair toward him. “Come here.” He put the tie around the young man’s neck and proceeded to tie it for him.
Blair kept his eyes downcast. “I don’t know if I can do this, Simon,” he whispered so softly Simon almost didn’t hear.
Simon finished tying Blair’s tie. He put a finger under the kid’s chin and brought his face upward to look at him. “Hey, listen to me. You are going to get through this. You’re strong. I know that, and everyone else knows that too. And Jim knew that. You can do this.”
“I just don’t know if I can go, knowing that what happened to Jim was my fault.”
“Hey, now you listen to me for a second,” Simon said, gripping Blair’s shoulders tightly. “What happened was not your fault. Do you understand me? There was nothing you could have done.”
“I could have been there!” Blair shouted, breaking Simon’s hold. “I could have stopped it. I could have helped him, or at least I could have been with him so he wouldn’t have had to die alone!” Blair’s voice broke on the last word, and he started to cry all over again.
Simon gathered the young man into his arms, one hand to the back of the curly head and the other rubbing his back. They stayed like that for a long time. Once Blair stopped crying and calmed down some, Simon spoke.
“Blair, this isn’t your fault. And I know Jim wouldn’t want you to beat yourself up over this. He would want you to move on and live your life. He would want you to finish your dissertation, get your PhD, and become Dr. Blair Sandburg.”
Sniffling, Blair pulled out of Simon’s embrace and wiped his eyes with his hand. “I know. It’s just so hard.”
“I know it is, but it’ll get better. Trust me.” He patted Blair on the shoulder. “Now, we should get going. Jim would never forgive us if we’re late for his funeral,” he said lightheartedly, hoping to see a smile on the kid’s face.
Blair didn’t disappoint. He let out a small chuckle. “Yeah, you know how punctual he is,” he said jokingly.
Simon smiled, glad to see Blair’s sense of humor wasn’t gone. He put his arm Blair’s shoulders and started guiding him out of the bathroom. “C’mon. Let’s get going.”
Jim watched Simon lead Blair out of the loft. He had no idea Simon could be so gentle. He was seeing a whole new side to his captain, and he was grateful for it. Blair needed support and comfort if he was going to get through this ordeal, and if Jim couldn’t provide that, then he was grateful that there was someone who could.
Jim thought it was a bit strange to be attending his own funeral, but what else was he going to do? His life was over. He had nothing else to do but keep an eye Blair. He was surprised at the turn out when he got there. Apparently, he had touched a lot of people. Every detective in Major Crimes was there, plus a few detectives from Vice and Robbery and a few uniformed cops as well. There were a few of his old army buddies whom he hadn’t seen in years. Carolyn was there as well. She had flown up from San Francisco when she had heard the news. There were even a few people there he vaguely recognized as people he had rescued at some time or another during the course of his work. He was surprised they even remembered him enough to come to his funeral. His father and brother sat in the front row.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the whole crowd. None were openly crying,, but there was no surprise. After all, this was a crowd made up of mostly cops and army men, but Jim could see the moisture in all their eyes. And he could tell that some of them had been crying before they arrived. What really surprised him were his father and brother. Stevie looked about ready to start balling right then and there but was trying valiantly to hold it in. His father was trying to stay stoic, but Jim saw a lone tear trickle down his face. Jim hadn’t known his father cared that much. He wished he did before.
Jim’s gaze moved to Blair. The kid had stopped crying now and was trying to put up a brave front. Simon stood next to him, a hand on the kid’s shoulder in silent comfort. Jim hated seeing Blair so miserable and not being able to do anything about it. He wished not for the first time that he could somehow let him know that he was there.
After the priest finished speaking and everyone had paid their last respects, the crowd started to disperse to their cars. Jim turned to follow Simon and Blair to Simon’s car but stopped when he noticed his father standing alone next to the casket. He moved closer.
William Ellison placed a hand on top of his son’s casket. “Oh Jimmy. I know we didn’t have the best relationship, and I’m sorry for that. That was my doing. I just didn’t want you to be shunned or cast out because you were different. You probably didn’t believe me when I told you this, but I really was trying to protect you.”
He paused to take a shaky breath, wiping tears before they had a chance to fall. “I’m sorry for everything I did and for everything I said. I wasn’t…the best…father. I know that now. I’m so sorry that we didn’t get a chance to repair our relationship. It would have been nice to have both my sons over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner one day. I just hope that you know that I loved you very much and that I would do anything for you. My dear son. My darling boy.” He tried to say more, but he couldn’t get the words past the lump in his throat. He let the tears fall freely this time.
“Aw dad,” Jim whispered, tears flowing down his cheeks to match his father’s. He had no idea his father cared that much.
Steven came up behind his father and put his arm around the older man. He placed his other hand on the casket next to William’s. “Hey bro. I just wanted you to know that you were always my idol. I always looked up to you all my life, even after you left. I know I didn’t show it some of the time, but it’s true. And I’m sorry about the Cobra. I’m sorry I didn’t tell Dad the truth and let you take the rap for it. I was just so angry, but I never stopped loving you. After all, you were my big brother, the best one I ever had. Rest in peace, big brother.”
Jim stood there, watching his father and brother walking toward the car. His face was wet from tears. He wished he could talk to them one last time and tell them how he felt. With a heavy heart, he turned and hurried after Blair and Simon.
Blair entered the loft and threw his keys in the basket by the door. It had taken a lot of convincing to get Simon to leave him alone and go home. The captain hadn’t left Blair’s side since it happened. He was grateful for Simon’s support, but the older man couldn’t stay by his side every second for the rest of his life. It was time he got used to being alone.
He paused and just looked around the loft. It had been his first real home. As a kid, he and his mom were always moving around. They never really had a set place to live, sometimes no place at all. They usually stayed with friends or relatives and only for a short time. Jim had given him the stability he hadn’t even known he’d been missing when he let him into his home, and it had become their home. But was it still home? Blair didn’t think so. With Jim gone, it just felt like a place to live and sleep. Nevertheless, he would keep it. He wouldn’t be able to bring himself to sell it.
Sighing, he started to peel off the suit jacket and loosen his tie as he walked toward his room. After changing into a pair of sweats and flannel shirt, he came back out to the living room and dropped down onto the couch. He was so tired. He stared down at the couch cushions. The comfort they provided called to him and he lay down. He closed his eyes, seeking salvation from the constant pain.
Jim watched his former roommate fall asleep. He hated seeing Blair like this, and the fact that he couldn’t do anything to help was just pissing him off more. He hated feeling helpless. His anger and frustration building he started pacing back and forth next to the kitchen table. Finally, he swung his arm across the tabletop. A half-empty coffee cup that had been left there that morning suddenly ended up shattered on the floor, spilling coffee everywhere. Jim stared at his hands, wondering how he had done that.
Blair awoke to find himself in a blue-tinted jungle. He knew immediately he was dreaming. He had never actually had one of these dreams before, but he had gotten Jim to describe his dreams to him after that whole business with Alex Barnes. They both had agreed that something like that could never happen again, so from then on, they had no secrets when it came to the whole Sentinel thing.
Blair looked around, wondering what he was doing here. A voice from behind startled him.
“Welcome, Young One.”
Blair spun around to see the Chopec Shaman Incacha standing there. “Incacha!”
“Why do you cry?”
Blair lowered his eyes. “My Sentinel is dead,” he answered forlornly.
“Death cannot separate Sentinel and Guide. They are joined in a bond stronger than any other. They are brothers. They are soulmates. One is never without the other. Enquiri is still around, watching over you.”
“If we share a bond, how come I can’t feel him or see him?”
“Enquiri was in disharmony when he died. He was off-balance, which in turn caused you and the bond you share to become off-balance as well.”
“Jim was having problems with his senses. I tried to help him. You have to believe that,” Blair said, pleadingly.
A small smile formed on the shaman’s lips. “I do, Young Shaman. But what caused this was beyond your capabilities. Have you heard of the Amulet of the Guardian?”
Blair thought about it. He thought it sounded vaguely familiar, but he shook his head anyway.
“It is a very powerful Mayan amulet created thousands of years ago. It was designed to kill Sentinels.”
Blair gasped in stunned horror.
“Yes. Enquiri was not meant to die. It was not his destiny, but because of this amulet, that was changed,” Incacha explained.
Blair’s head was spinning. He couldn’t believe that all this was caused by some piece of metal on a chain. He looked up at the old shaman. “And all of the problems Jim had been having? The spikes and the zone outs?”
“Also caused by the amulet. It is said that when near the amulet will cause the Sentinel’s senses to go completely out of control whether the Guide is there or not. When touched to the skin, it literally sucks the life out of the Sentinel.”
“Oh god,” Blair moaned. Swallowing convulsively, Blair ran what Incacha said through his mind. “Is there a way to fix this? I mean if it wasn’t Jim’s time, then can something be done to undo this?”
“I believe so. You must find the amulet and destroy it. Only then will things be as they once were.”
“But how do I find it? I don’t even know who is behind this.”
“Ask your Sentinel.”
Blair’s eyes widened. “He’s here?” he asked in a choked whisper.
“Yes.” Incacha nodded.
“But how can I ask him if I can’t see or hear him?”
“You must bring the bond back into balance. Only then will you be able to communicate with Enquiri.”
“Close your eyes,” Incacha instructed. “Take deep breaths and center yourself. Fill your mind with thoughts only of your Sentinel. Visualize the bond that you share.”
Blair did as Incacha directed. Taking a deep breath, he visualized Jim in his mind and the friendship they shared. A sudden loud crash filled his head and…
…he sat bolt upright on the couch in the loft. Taking deep breaths to calm his suddenly racing heart, he swung his legs off the couch and looked around, hoping to see Jim. When he didn’t see his friend, he sighed and rubbed his face with both hands. Maybe he didn’t do it right. Or maybe that whole thing was just a dream. Running a hand through his hair, he finally pushed himself off the couch, and as he was heading toward the kitchen, he saw what had made that crash. A coffee cup lay broken on the floor along a large puddle of coffee. Looking to the now empty table, he realized that was the cup of coffee he had left on the table that morning.
“Now how the hell did that happen?”
“That’s what I’d like to know.”
Blair jumped and spun around to see Jim leaning against the couch. “Jim!” he cried in surprise.
Jim stood up straight at Blair’s exclamation. “You can see me? You can hear me?”
Speechless, Blair just nodded.
“Oh thank god. I’ve been trying to get your attention ever since…well, you know.”
Blair nodded again.
“Well, will you say something? You look like a bobble head nodding your head like that.” Jim smiled at his little joke.
Blair shook his head, seeming to come back to his senses. With a look of indignation, he said, “That’s very funny, Jim. I see your sense of humor hasn’t changed. It’s still as bad as ever,” Blair ribbed.
“Watch it,” Jim growled good-naturedly.
Blair laughed. He quickly sobered as he looked at the friend he thought he’d never see again. “I just can’t believe you’re here. You’ve been here all the time?”
Jim looked serious. “I never left you, Chief. And I never will.”
Swallowing hard, Blair replied, “I’ll remember that.”
They stared into each other’s eyes for long moments. Then, Blair blinked and shook his head, diverting his attention to the broken coffee cup on the floor. “So what happened here?”
“You know I have no idea,” Jim said, moving forward. “I haven’t been able to touch anything since…well since I died.”
“So how did the cup end up on the floor?”
“I don’t know,” Jim said with a shrug. “I was getting angry because I couldn’t help you. I swung my arm, and suddenly, the cup was on the floor.” He brought his hand down on the table and watched as it passed right through. “Can’t seem to do it again though.”
“Hmm,” Blair said thoughtfully. “Well, you don’t have a physical body anymore, so it would make sense that you can’t touch anything. You’re just a spirit so to speak.”
“So once again, how did the cup end up on the floor?”
“Well, maybe you can move objects another way. Hold on.” Blair went into the kitchen and came back with another coffee mug. He placed it on the table and looked at Jim. “Ok, Jim, I want you to pick up this cup.”
Jim reached forward and tried to grasp the rim of the cup, but his fingers went right through it. He looked at Blair. “And how would you like me to do that?”
“What were you feeling when you knocked the cup off the table?” Blair asked.
“Angry. Frustrated. Pissed off.”
“Ok, I want you to use those emotions. I want you to push them to the forefront. Concentrate, and use them to pick up the cup.”
Looking skeptical, Jim reached forward and tried to grasp the cup. After a few failed attempts, he began to get angry until finally he exploded and just swung his arm at it. The cup fell onto its side. Jim stared at the cup and then down at his hand. His gaze slid to Blair who gave him an encouraging nod. He reached forward again, and with everything he had, he was finally able to wrap his fingers around the mug. Lifting it into the air, he smiled in triumph.
“All right! You did it!” Blair exclaimed excitedly, bouncing a little.
Jim looked at him and smiled. It was good to see the bounce back in the kid’s step. “Yeah, I guess I did. That’s a relief. At least now I can manipulate my surroundings. Thanks, Chief.”
“You’re welcome. Now you can help me clean up the mess you made,” Blair said with a mischievous smile.
Jim glared at him. “You did that on purpose,” he grumbled.
“Who me? Never,” Blair said, acting all innocent.
Jim wasn’t buying it for a second. Still, he knelt down and started picking up pieces of broken ceramic while Blair went to get a paper towel to mop up the spilled coffee.
“You know what I don’t get,” Jim said as he gathered pieces of the broken mug into his hand. “How come you can see and hear me now when you couldn’t before?”
Blair knelt next to Jim and started laying paper towels down to soak up the coffee. “Oh well, I can answer that. Before I was rudely awakened,” he said, looking pointedly at Jim who shrugged with a sheepish look on his face. “I had this dream. I was in the jungle and Incacha was there.”
“Incacha? What did he say?”
“He said that the bond that we share was out of balance, which is why I couldn’t see you. All I had to do was put it back in balance. I guess it worked.” He smiled as he wiped up the floor. “He also told me how you…died.”
“Good because I don’t know,” Jim mumbled.
Blair looked at his partner. “You don’t remember?”
“I don’t really remember much. I remember going into that warehouse and my senses going crazy on me. Then there was this tremendous pain in my head, and…after that it gets kind of fuzzy. I do remember there was someone there, but I don’t think I got a good look at his face. He was carrying a metal pipe and was wearing this weird necklace.”
“The amulet,” Blair interrupted.
“Hold on.” Blair gathered up the coffee soaked paper towels and threw them into the trash while Jim did the same with the pieces of the mug. Blair then went into his room and returned a few minutes later with his laptop. Setting it up on the kitchen table, he turned it on and accessed the Internet. As he typed in a few key words, he explained, “Incacha told me that the cause of all your spikes and zone outs and what caused your death was this amulet that was created thousands of years ago. I knew it sounded familiar. Back when I was still doing research on Sentinels, I found a reference to this, but I never really paid any attention to it because…well…it was a way to kill Sentinels, and I didn’t want to know anything about that. I didn’t want to kill one. I just wanted to find one. Anyway, here it is.”
He brought up a website depicting a gold amulet circular in shape with symbols and markings etched into both front and back. It was attached to a silver chain. Jim leaned forward to get a better look at it.
“Look familiar?” Blair asked.
“That’s it. This is the necklace he was wearing,” Jim said, pointing at the screen.
“I thought so. It’s called the Amulet of the Guardian. According to this,” he scrolled through the website page, “it was created to bring peace to ailing Sentinels.”
“What does that mean?”
“Well, Jim, not all Sentinels find their Guides. There are some who never do, and those are the ones who suffer the most. They suffer severe spikes, constant zone outs. They’re in pain all the time. Eventually, it gets so bad that they become a danger to themselves and those around them. Apparently, these Mayan Shaman wanted to find a way to give these Sentinels peace. Essentially, put them out of their misery.”
“In other words, kill them,” Jim said.
Jim shook his head.
“Well, c’mon, Jim. They couldn’t just let them live their lives like that. That would be cruel. They had to do something.”
Jim nodded in understanding. He knew how those Sentinels felt. He knew what it was like to have senses that were completely out of control. Thank god Blair came along when he did. Blair saved him. He saved his life and his sanity. Jim had no doubt that if not for Blair he would have ended up in a mental institution or eating his gun. He probably would have gone with the latter.
“So what went wrong?” Jim asked.
“Well, to accomplish their goal, these Shaman created an amulet specifically designed to kill Sentinels in a quick and painless way.”
“Obviously that didn’t go as planned because my death was far from quick and painless,” Jim grumbled. He looked up when he heard a gasp from his partner. Seeing the stricken look on Blair’s face, Jim quickly leaned forward to placate him. “Aw, Chief, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound harsh. I’m just frustrated is all.”
When Blair kept his head down and didn’t answer, Jim put his hand on his shoulder, surprised and elated that he was able to touch him. “Chief, what is it?”
“It’s my fault,” Blair mumbled.
Jim sighed. He’d forgotten how guilty the kid was feeling over this whole thing. “Chief, this is not your fault. Do you understand me?”
“But I should’ve been there. I’m your partner. I should’ve been watching your back,” Blair said in anguish.
“Blair. Blair, look at me,” Jim said, grabbing both shoulders, surprised that he could, and turning the young man toward him. He waited until Blair’s sad eyes looked up at him. “This…is…not…your…fault. I told you to stay in the truck.”
“Since when do I ever listen?” Blair retorted.
Jim sighed. The kid had a point. “Look, even if you had been there, there was nothing you could have done.”
“Maybe I could have seen the guy and warned you.”
“I couldn’t even seen him. How could you have?”
Blair paused. “Well, I could have helped you regain control of your senses.”
Jim smiled slightly. “You didn’t read very far ahead, did you?”
“Huh?” Blair asked, puzzled.
“Look.” Jim pointed at the laptop screen and began to read. “‘The amulet affected even those Sentinels with Guides. The Guides were powerless to prevent the effects.’ So you see. There was nothing you could have done. You would have just ended up dead too and then where would we be?”
Blair leaned forward to read through the words for himself. He began to understand now. Maybe there was a reason he had stayed in the truck. Maybe there was some force preventing from entering that warehouse after his Sentinel so that both of them wouldn’t die so that they could fix what happened. He leaned back and looked at Jim.
Blair gave him a half smile and nodded.
“Good. Now read on. What went wrong with this amulet?”
Blair’s smile widened as he leaned forward again. “Um, let me see. Something went wrong in the ritual that created this amulet. It doesn’t go into details, but it says here that the resulting amulet killed Sentinels alright, but also did so much more. Whenever it was near, it would cause Sentinel senses to go completely out of control. When touched to the skin of a Sentinel, it would literally suck the life out of them.”
Blair paused to look at Jim who nodded his head to keep reading. “The Mayans knew that they couldn’t keep it around so they decided to destroy it, but it was stolen from their camps late one night. It wasn’t seen again for hundreds of years until it suddenly showed up in an antique store where it was bought by an American archeologist who took it home to his girlfriend. From then on, it was bounced around from one owner to another. It started to get the reputation of being haunted or cursed because it was rumored to cause great pain.”
Jim’s brow furrowed. “How would they know that?”
“Well, there were a lot of instances situated with that amulet,” Blair explained, scrolling through the website again. “Uh, there was one guy who owned it and hung it in his house but quickly got rid of it when his wife kept complaining that it was causing her pain. A fisherman owned and kept it on his boat until his first mate went crazy and attacked a crewmember. The fisherman believed it the work of the amulet and chucked it overboard. More recently a police detective in Chicago owned and started wearing it.” Blair paused, biting his lower lip.
“So what happened to him?” Jim asked.
“He was found dead next to the body of his partner. It was the consensus that the partner killed him and then killed himself, but…”
“But there wasn’t a mark the partner, and there was no determined cause of death.”
“A Sentinel and Guide,” Jim whispered.
They sat a moment in silence. Jim felt ill, even though he didn’t think that was possible since he didn’t have a body. Just the thought that he could have killed his own Guide if he had been exposed to that amulet for a longer period of time sent chills up his spine. He took a deep breath and tried to compose himself.
“Ok, this is all very interesting, but how does it help us find our killer?”
“It doesn’t,” Blair replied. “It just gives a little insight into what we’re dealing with here. We need to find that amulet. Incacha told me that if we can destroy that amulet then everything will go back to the way things were.”
“So what? We destroy this amulet and suddenly I’ll be alive again?” Jim said skeptically. “How the hell are we going to explain that?”
“I don’t know, and right now I don’t care. One step at a time. First we’ll concentrate on getting your life back and then we’ll worry about how the hell we’re going to explain it.”
Jim sighed and leaned back. “Ok, but in order to find that amulet we still have to find our killer,” he pointed out.
Blair seemed to deflate in the chair. “I know, and we don’t even know who he is. Are you sure you don’t remember anything else about him?” he asked, looking at Jim.
“No. Not really. I don’t think I saw his face. All I really remember is a guy walking toward me with a lead pipe and the amulet around his neck.”
“Damn it,” Blair muttered. He sat back in his seat, contemplating the situation. “Did he say anything to you?”
Jim closed his eyes. He vaguely remembered hearing a voice speaking to him, but he couldn’t remember what it said. There was too much pain and confusion. Sighing, he opened his eyes and shook his head. “I think he said something, but I can’t remember what it was.”
“Ok,” Blair sighed. He leaned one elbow on the arm of the chair and cradled his head in his hand while he tapped the table with the fingers of his other hand. “What do we know?”
“Well, it’s obvious that he knew about my Sentinel abilities,” Jim pointed out.
“Yeah, but who else knows besides you, me, and Simon?” Blair asked.
Jim sighed. “I don’t know.”
There was a long moment of silence, each lost in their thoughts. Blair sat forward, looking thoughtful.
“What about Brackett?” Blair asked.
“Chief, we already talked about that. He would rather use me again than kill me. It’s not in his best interests.”
“Yeah, but what if he talked? What if he told someone about you, someone who maybe already had a grudge against you?”
Jim thought about it. “I suppose it could be possible.”
“Yeah, and right now it’s the only lead we’ve got.”
“True. You’re going to have to get in and talk to him. Simon can probably set that up.”
“Yeah, but how am I going to convince him to do that?” Blair asked.
“Tell him it’s for me.”
Blair looked at his friend. “Uh, no offense, but I think he’s going to need more convincing than that.”
“Then tell him it’s a Sentinel thing. Then he won’t even ask.”
Blair nodded. That might work. Simon knew about Jim being a Sentinel, but he only knew the bare essentials, and that was the way he liked it. Simon Banks was firmly grounded in the realm of reality, and he didn’t want to deal with the whole mystical side of the Sentinel thing. He remained blissfully unaware of all that, and Blair wasn’t going to try to convince him of its existence if he didn’t want to know. It was hard enough trying to get Jim to accept it.
Blair let out a heavy sigh. “Guess this means I’ll be going back to the station,” he said sullenly.
Jim looked at his friend. “Does that bother you?”
“No,” he said slowly. “It’s just that I haven’t been back there since…you died. And I haven’t really talked to the others in Major Crime except for Simon. I think he’s been relaying to them what’s been going on with me. I just didn’t feel like company.”
“I’m sure they understand,” Jim said, placing a comforting hand on Blair’s shoulder.
Blair looked at the hand and then into Jim’s eyes. “Hey, you can touch me.”
Jim smiled. “You’re just now noticing? I did just grab your shoulders earlier.”
“Oh yeah.” He grinned. “Must be that bond we share working again.”
“Must be because I’m not even concentrating.” They stared at each other for a long moment before Jim finally broke the spell. “So, are you ready to go then?” he asked, getting to his feet.
“Yeah, I guess I am,” Blair replied. He shut down his laptop. Then after putting on some shoes and grabbing his jacket and keys, he headed out the door.
Simon Banks finished pouring himself a cup of his special blend coffee and sat down at his desk. He pulled out one of his cigars and, holding it under his nose, took in the strong aroma of the tobacco. Sighing, he carried his coffee and cigar over to the window overlooking the bullpen. His eyes immediately went to Jim’s empty desk.
He thought it strange to see that desk empty. It always seemed to be occupied by one partner or the other. Jim would be sitting there whenever Blair was at the university, and sometimes Blair took up residence there when Jim was in a meeting or a conference. But usually, both shared the small space. It was a tight fit for the both of them, but they never once complained. In fact, they seemed to work well while in close proximity of each other.
Jim’s things still occupied that desk, still cluttered the top and filled the drawers. Simon knew that he should probably clear it and eventually assign someone else to it, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it just yet. That desk had belonged to his best detective for almost six years now, and he couldn’t see anyone else sitting there.
Simon turned away from the window with a heavy sigh. He missed Jim, and he even sort of missed having the kid around as well. He knew the minute he found out Jim was dead that he had lost both of them. Once Jim died, Simon knew that Blair had no more reason to continue coming to the station. The precinct had suffered two big losses that day, and Simon wished that there was something he could do to fix it.
There was a commotion outside his office. Annoyed, he set his cup on the table and opened his office door to see what was going on. He paused in his doorway as he saw every detective in the bullpen flocking around a timidly-smiling Blair Sandburg. Each detective was smiling, patting him on the back, and asking how he was doing. Blair seemed to be embarrassed by all the attention.
Simon was stunned. He hadn’t expected to see Blair at the station again. Finally, he decided to spare their resident anthropologist the embarrassment and called the kid into his office. Simon sat at his desk and watched as Blair waved to the detectives and entered his office, closing the door behind him.
“Thanks Simon,” Blair sighed. “I didn’t expect the reception.”
“And why not? They’re your friends too. They were worried about you, and they’re glad to see you back here.” At Blair’s hesitant smile, Simon added, “And so am I.” That caused Blair’s smile to widen. “But I have to admit, I am a little surprised to see you here.”
“Yeah, I know,” Blair muttered. “Listen, I have a favor to ask.”
“Uh oh. Am I going to like this?”
“Well, uh, I don’t know. You see I think that maybe Brackett may have had a hand in Jim’s death.”
“I thought that we already established that he wouldn’t do that. He’d be more likely to use Jim again rather than kill him.”
“Yeah, but maybe he talked, maybe unwillingly, to someone who maybe had a grudge against Jim, and he used that knowledge to…kill him.”
“I don’t know. That seems like a stretch.”
“Look, all I’m asking is that you get me in to see him, find out what he knows.”
“Oh no,” Simon said. He turned away, shaking his head. “No. No way.”
“C’mon, Simon,” Blair begged. “What have we got to lose? We have no other leads. Simon, it’s Jim.”
Simon sighed, his shoulders slumped. He looked into those pleading puppy dog eyes, and his resolve melted. “Alright. I’ll set up a meeting with him, but I’ll do all the talking, understand?”
“As long as I get to be there. In the room, not in some observation room next door,” Blair said with determination.
Simon looked at him for several seconds before he nodded. “Deal.”
It didn’t take long to set up a meeting with Lee Brackett. It took some persuading on Simon’s part, but once he mentioned that it was in connection with the death of a police officer, they were granted access to the prisoner.
Simon, having been briefed by Blair on how he believed Jim died, paused just outside the door to the interrogation room in the federal prison where Brackett was already waiting. He turned to Blair.
“Alright. Here it goes. Are you ready?”
Blair nodded, and Simon proceeded into the room with Blair a close step behind. Brackett was sitting at the table in the middle of the room. He looked up as the two entered.
“Ah, Captain Banks. Mr. Sandburg. To what do I owe this pleasure?” he asked casually.
“Cut the crap, Brackett,” Simon said.
“You seem to be in a bad mood today. May I ask where is Detective Ellison?”
“He’s dead,” Simon snarled.
Brackett lowered his eyes. “I’m sorry to hear that,” he said.
“Bullshit,” Simon spat.
Brackett looked up at the tall captain. He seemed to be truly saddened by the news, but at the same time he seemed to have expected it. There was a knowing look in his eyes as if he knew what this meeting was about.
“Someone came to see you, didn’t they? Asked you all sorts of questions about Jim, about his abilities.”
Brackett leaned back in his chair. “Look, some guy came around shortly after I was arrested, started asking me questions about Jim. Asked me how I was able to control him so easily.”
“What did you say?” Simon asked.
“Nothing, at first. I didn’t want to tell him. I could tell his plans for Ellison weren’t pretty.”
“So what made you change your mind?”
“The guy threatened to have me killed, even in a federal prison. And I could tell he could pull it off too. I’m sorry, but I value my life a whole lot more than I value his.”
“So you sold him out to save your sorry ass,” Simon snarled, his anger showing.
Brackett, nonchalant at the captain’s obvious anger, leaned back, practically draping himself over the chair. “Basically, yeah,” he replied casually.
“You son of a bitch!”
Simon turned at the angry shout and was surprised to find out that it had come from Blair. The normally kind-hearted anthropologist had a look of such anger and hate, a look Simon had seen on Jim’s face a time or two. Suddenly, Blair jumped forward, grabbed Brackett by the shirt, and pulled roughly out of the chair.
“Listen up, you sorry excuse for a human being, you’re going to tell us where to find this guy, or I swear to god, I will haunt you for the rest of your days,” Blair growled. He didn’t raise his voice, but the words held brutal honesty that Brackett was struck speechless. “Tell me, and maybe I won’t rearrange your face.”
“SANDBURG!” Simon, who had been stunned into immobility for a few moments, finally found his voice. “Outside! Now!”
The sound of Simon’s voice seemed to have brought Blair back to his senses. The rage that had dominated his features before disappeared to be replaced by a look of shock. He blinked a few times and then slowly released Brackett’s shirt. Then, with a stricken look, he ran from the room. Out in the hall, he leaned against the wall, trying to get his bearings.
“Oh my god. What the hell was that?” he asked breathlessly.
“Oh god, Blair, I’m sorry,” Jim said.
Blair looked at his partner. “That was you?”
Jim looked sheepish. “Uh, yeah, I think so. The guy gets on my nerves. I got a little pissed…”
“A little pissed?” Blair interrupted. “That was way more than a little pissed.”
“Ok, I wanted to rip the guy apart,” Jim admitted. “Anyway, I don’t know what happened. I guess my anger was channeled through you. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for it to happen.”
Blair sighed, running a hand through his curls. “It’s ok. Must be another aspect of our bond. Just don’t ever do that again. That was not a nice feeling. Do you always carry around that much anger?”
Jim lowered his eyes, finding a sudden interest in his shoes. “Sometimes. Mostly when you’re in trouble.”
Blair’s face softened. He patted Jim on the shoulder. “It’s ok. We just have to be careful what we do, what we say, and especially what we feel,” he said, giving Jim a pointed look. “I don’t need that happening again.”
‘Sandburg!” Simon’s booming voice filled the corridor.
“Oh crap,” Blair whispered, closing his eyes. With a deep breath, he turned resignedly to face the irate captain.
“What was that in there?” Simon asked, his eyes blazing.
“I’m sorry, Simon. I just got mad, that’s all.”
“Got mad? You looked like you were ready to pummel that guy. Since when do you resort to that kind of violence?”
“Look, the guy had a hand in Jim’s death, and it pissed me off that he was so nonchalant about it!” Blair yelled. Admittedly, he had been angry himself at the casual way Brackett told of selling Jim down the river, but he had tried to keep himself in control. Then Jim’s anger just took over.
Simon’s face softened. He placed a hand on Blair’s shoulder. “Look, kid, I’m angry too, but we have to keep our emotions in check if we’re going to find this guy. We can’t blow up at every person that we believe is involved.”
Blair’s head hung low. “I know. You’re right. I’m sorry.”
“Listen, why don’t you go wait for me in the car.”
Blair’s head snapped up. “No, I want to go back in there.”
“No way, Sandburg,” Simon said, shaking his head.
“C’mon Simon. I promise, it won’t happen again. Please. I need to know. Please,” Blair begged.
Simon looked into those pleading blue eyes, and immediately his resolve shattered. “Alright, but you don’t touch him. You hear me? You don’t even go near him. You will be on the other side of the room.”
Blair nodded, anxious to get back in there.
Brackett looked up as the two reentered the room. His eyes immediately went to Blair who stayed by the door and refused to get any closer.
“All right, Brackett. I want to know who this guy is and where we can find him,” Simon said.
Brackett didn’t even look at the captain. His eyes stayed glued on Blair.
“Brackett!” Brackett’s eyes immediately sprang to the captain’s angry visage. “Tell me!”
“I’ll tell you what you want to know. But answer me something,” Brackett said, his gaze going back to Blair.
“What,” Simon snapped, getting impatient.
“Is Jim here?” he asked Blair specifically.
Blair’s eyes widened, and his heart started hammering in his chest.
“What are you talking about?” Simon asked, oblivious to the look on Blair’s face.
“Is Jim here?” Brackett asked again, not taking his eyes off Blair.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Blair replied, nervously shifting from foot to foot.
“Oh come on. I saw the look in your eyes, that cold, hard look. I’ve only seen that look once before. On Jim’s face. He gave me that look a few times during the time we ‘worked’ together. I know you. I know you don’t like violence. You would rather talk than fight, but those weren’t your actions, were they?”
Blair wiped sweaty palms on his jeans. Even Simon was looking at him now. What could he say? If he lied, Brackett might not tell them what they wanted to know, but what might Simon think if he told the truth. Then, he felt Jim at his side.
“Tell them,” he said.
Blair gave him a look that asked, ‘are you sure?’
“Tell them,” he repeated. “We need to know.”
Taking a deep breath, he said, “Yes, he’s here.”
Brackett smiled, as if proud of himself. “Show me.”
Blair threw up his hands, getting tired of Brackett’s games. Shaking his head, he said, “Fine. Jim.”
Jim moved forward and picked up a coffee cup that had been sitting on the table. He held the cup in the palm of his hand for several seconds. To the other two, the cup seemed to be suspended in mid-air.
Simon stared at it in awe. “Oh my god,” he whispered.
Suddenly, the cup flew through the air, straight towards Brackett’s head. It missed his head by inches and smashed into the wall behind him. Brackett jumped to the side, nearly falling of his chair to avoid getting pelted in the head. He looked back at the shattered cup on the floor and then looked back Blair’s smiling face.
“Jim’s says, next time, he won’t miss.”
Brackett swallowed thickly. Simon recovered from his shock and turned back to the prisoner.
“Now, are you going to tell us what we want to know?” he asked.
“Ok, I never got the guy’s name. He didn’t say, and I didn’t feel inclined to ask. He just said that he had a score to settle with Jim. He kept asking me how I was able to manipulate Ellison so easily, get him to do whatever I wanted.”
“So you told him,” Simon said.
“I didn’t want to. I am truly sorry that Jim is dead. I didn’t want that to happen.”
“No, of course not,” Simon said sarcastically. “You wanted him alive so you could use him again, right?”
Brackett sat back. “I won’t deny that.”
Simon sighed. They were getting no place fast. “Can you at least give us a description?”
“Well, he was young, maybe in late twenties, early thirties. He had thick, dark hair and green eyes. And he had a small scar on his chin. That’s really all I remember.”
Blair looked at Jim. “Ring any bells?” he asked quietly.
Jim shook his head. Blair looked at Simon and shook his head. Simon sighed and returned his attention to Brackett.
“You’re not giving us much to go on.”
“That’s all I’ve got,” Brackett said, his voice rising. He didn’t scare easily, but he really didn’t like the idea of being haunted by Ellison for the rest of his life. He really believed that Jim would do it too. Then, he remembered something else about the stranger. “Wait, he had a coin.”
“What?” Simon asked.
“He had a coin. He kept flipping it up in the air and catching it. He was doing it throughout the entire conversation.”
“What kind of coin?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t get a good look at it, but it looked old and foreign.”
“Oh my god,” Jim whispered. Now it was all starting to click. Now he remembered a man he once knew a long time ago. A young man, always eager to get into the action. The short, dark hair, the green eyes, the scar on his chin, and the coin he always had, it all fit. “Son of a bitch.”
“What?” Blair asked, puzzled.
Jim didn’t answer. Instead, he hurried out of the room.
“Wait! Simon,” Blair called as he followed his partner out of the room.
“I don’t believe this. I don’t believe this,” Jim repeated as he headed down the corridor.
“Jim, wait!” Blair yelled, running after him.
‘Sandburg,” Simon called.
Blair stopped to face the captain. He was practically dancing on his toes, eager to catch up with Jim and find out what he discovered. “What?”
“Jim’s really here?”
Despite his anxiousness, Blair smiled softly. He placed a gentle hand on Simon’s shoulder. “Yeah, he is.”
“For how long?”
“Since he died, but I only just found out about it a few hours ago.”
“You can see him? You can hear him?”
Blair nodded. “Yeah. Listen, I gotta go. Think Jim may be on to something. I have to go catch up to him.” He hurried down the hallway again.
“Blair,” Simon called again.
Blair looked back at him.
“Tell him…I mean…tell him I…” Simon’s voice trailed off.
Blair smiled in understanding. “Simon, I think he already knows.”
Blair ran back down the corridor. He found Jim outside by Simon’s car, pacing back and forth and muttering to himself.
“It can’t be him. I can’t believe he would do this,” Jim mumbled.
Blair caught up to him and grabbed his shoulder. “Jim, what is it? Do you know who it is?”
Jim stopped pacing. “Yeah, I do. His name is Jonathan Drucker.”
“Who is he?”
“We were in the army together. He used to be on my team. He was very excitable, and he loved action. And he also always had a coin with him, in his hand or within reach, and every night before a big mission, he would flip that coin into the air and catch over and over again. Used to drive me crazy. I asked one time why he did it, and he told me that it was for good luck. He also told me that he had this collection of rare and unusual coins back home that he’d been collecting since he was a kid.”
“That explains those coins we found,” Blair said.
Jim nodded. “Anyway, like I said, he loved action, maybe a little too much. He’d do anything to get some action, even endanger his teammates.” Jim paused and swallowed. “There was this one mission. It was a recon mission. I can’t really go into much detail, classified. What I can tell you is that we were supposed get inside this compound in the middle of Bosnian jungles. There were guards everywhere, and I thought it best to wait until nightfall so it would be easier to get inside without being detected. But Drucker didn’t agree with that. He went charging in there against my orders without any regard for his safety or anyone else’s. Four of my men were dead and another was paralyzed from the waist down by the time it was all over. The rest of us barely made it out with our lives. Afterwards, I testified against him, had him court marshaled and sent home with a dishonorable discharge.”
“Wow,” Blair said quietly. “No wonder he hates you, but you did the right thing.”
“I know. I just didn’t think he was angry enough to want to kill me and after all these years.”
“Blair.” Simon walked up to stand next to the young man, looking at him questioningly. “Did Jim figure out who it is?”
“Yeah, he thinks it’s someone named Jonathan Drucker. They were in the army together. Jim had him court marshaled after a mission went bad.”
“Ok,” Simon said, heading around to the driver’s side of the car. “Let’s get back to the station and put an APB out on Jonathan Drucker.”
When they arrived at the police station, Simon immediately had Rafe put out an APB on Jonathan Drucker and also find out any information on the guy along with a picture. As Rafe handed Simon the information he wanted twenty minutes later, Brown came into Simon’s office.
“Yeah, what is it, Brown?”
“You’ll never guess who just walked into the station today,” Brown said with a smile.
Simon sighed and rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. He really didn’t have the time or patience to deal with Brown’s guessing games. “Who?”
“A kid by the name of Jack Cramer who drives a 1995 black Mustang with the license plate Dude 4.”
“That’s the car I was chasing,” Jim said.
“Simon, that’s the car Jim was chasing,” Blair repeated. “The one who led us to that warehouse.”
Simon nodded grimly. He had gotten that much from the description of the car and the license plate number. “Where is he?” he asked Brown.
“In the interrogation room.”
“Good. I want to have a talk with him,” Simon said, purposefully heading out of his office with Blair close on his heels.
“Thought you might,” Brown said.
The men entered the interrogation room to see a kid in his late teens or early twenties with dark blonde hair. As they entered, the kid looked up with frightened blue eyes. Jim hung back by the door while Blair and Simon moved forward to address the kid. It was times like these that he hated being a ghost.
“Mr. Cramer, I’m Captain Simon Banks and this is Blair Sandburg. I understand you have some information for us.”
“I heard about what happened to that cop,” the kid spoke in a tremulous voice, “and I swear to you, I had nothing to do with it.”
“But you were the one who led him to that warehouse where he was killed,” Simon stated.
Jack lowered his eyes ashamedly. “Yes, but I swear, I didn’t know what was going to happen. This guy walked up to me on the street and asked me if I wanted to make a little money. I said yeah sure, who doesn’t. So he had me drive out in front of this guy and lead him to this warehouse. I didn’t know what he had planned. I didn’t know he was going to kill him. I thought it was a joke.” Jack was on the verge tears. He wiped the moisture from his eyes and continued. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. I just…I was just trying…” He stopped as tears threatened again.
“Go on,” Simon said gently.
Jack sniffed. “I was just trying to make a little money. For my mom. She’s real sick. She needs an operation, but we can’t afford it. I was just trying to help her out. No one was supposed to get hurt.”
“Why didn’t you come forward before?” Simon asked.
“I-I was afraid, afraid that you might arrest me for that cop’s murder,” Jack replied timidly.
“So why now?”
Jack didn’t answer. He stared down at the table, biting his thumbnail nervously. There was such turmoil on his face, like he was trying to decide what to do. Blair took pity on him. After casting a glance back at Jim, who looked sympathetic toward the kid as well, he sat down at the table and placed a hand on Jack’s.
“Jack,” Blair said, his voice gentle, “it’s obvious that you know something. You have to tell us. You have to tell us so that we can catch this guy before he hurts someone else.”
Jack still looked unsure so Blair looked to Simon for help.
“Jack,” Simon spoke up. “You’re not going to be arrested for murder.”
Jack looked up at the tall captain, disbelief in his eyes. “I-I’m not?”
“No. The most we could get you on is reckless driving. But you have to tell us what you know. You have to help us.”
Jack lowered his eyes and bit his lower lip. Then he took a deep breath and raised his eyes once again. “I didn’t hear about what happened to the cop until later after the guy had already paid me. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid to go to the police, that they would have me arrested, but I didn’t want him to get away with it. But I didn’t know what I could do. I didn’t see him again until a couple of days ago.”
“The guy who paid you?” Simon clarified.
Jack nodded. Simon pulled out the picture Rafe had given him of Jonathan Drucker and placed it on the table facing the kid. “Is this him?”
Jack nodded emphatically.
“Where was he?”
“He was sitting in a car outside of an apartment building looking up at a window.”
“Do you know what street that was?” Simon asked.
“Um, I think it was…Prospect, Prospect Avenue.”
Blair’s face paled, and he looked at Simon with a look of horrified realization. Simon glanced at Blair before returning his attention to the kid, his face grim.
“Do you know what address that was?”
“I-I don’t know. I re-really didn’t get a good look. It was dark.” There was a lot of tension in the air, and it was making the kid nervous.
“Was it 852?” Blair asked, dreading the answer.
“Yeah, now that you mention it, I think it was.”
“The son of a bitch was watching me,” Blair said, appalled.
“He’s enjoying this,” Simon said.
“God damn it!” Jim exploded as he started pacing the room. He couldn’t believe the bastard was still hanging around watching his friends suffer. Did the guy have no morals?
Blair gave Jim a calming look, and Jim nodded, indicating that he got the message. Blair obviously didn’t want to experience Jim’s rage again, so Jim worked on calming himself down. Blair went to stand next to his partner in order to help calm him down without being to obvious. Since Blair was occupied with Jim, Simon went on with the questioning.
“Ok, Jack, so you saw him sitting in his car. What did you do?” Simon asked.
“Well, I watched him until he pulled away, and then I decided to follow him. I followed him to the Cascade National Forest where he turned off onto a dirt road. That’s as far as I went because I was afraid he’d see me, but I know where it is. I can show you.” Jack started to stand up, eager to help.
“Hold on. That won’t be necessary. Just tell us where it is and we’ll go check it out.” Simon quickly jotted down the location as Jack told it to him and then looked up. “Thanks for the information, Jack. This really is a big help.”
Once outside the interrogation room, Blair took the paper with the location written on it from Simon and looked at it, excitement filling him. He knew where that was. It wasn’t too far from where he, Simon, and Jim had gone fishing just before they had gotten sucked into a poaching case. He looked up at Simon.
“Let’s go,” Simon said.
Walking back into the bullpen of Major Crimes, Simon called out, “Brown, Rafe, you’re with me. We may have a lead on Jim’s killer.” Immediately, the bullpen erupted into loud cries of surprise and protest. “Settle down!” Simon yelled over the din. The bullpen quieted down. “Look, I know you all want to come, but the fact of the matter is you can’t. I need people here to keep this department running. Brown and Rafe will come with me, and we’ll keep you posted on what happens.”
Blair flashed everyone a gratifying smile as he followed the men out. Jim paused for a brief moment and looked at all the reluctant, hopeful detectives and felt warmth spread throughout him. It was good to know that he had a lot of friends.
Blair sat in the passenger seat of Simon’s car and Jim sat behind him. It didn’t take long to find the dirt road Jack had been talking about, and now, with Rafe and Brown and a bunch of police cruisers following behind, they were heading to who-knew-where to find the man responsible for Jim’s death.
Blair kept fidgeting in his seat. He was so full of anticipation it was making him jittery. In a few minutes, it would all be over. In a few minutes, Jonathon Drucker with be in custody, and they’ll finally have the amulet, and once it’s destroyed, everything will be back to normal. He hoped.
Drucker was packing his stuff away. The tiny cabin in the middle of the woods that he had commandeered from a couple who wouldn’t be needing it anymore had been the perfect place for him to hideout. Watching Ellison’s friends and co-workers suffer had been fun, especially his little hippie partner, who seemed largely affected, but now it was time to move on. He had other things he had to do.
As he was packing his one meager suitcase, he heard a car pull up out front. His brow furrowed, he hurried to the front of the cabin as he heard more car s pull up. He looked out the window, and his heart nearly jumped out of his chest as he watched police cars gathering outside. Cursing softly, he ran to the back door of the cabin, leaving his stuff behind. He was really wishing he had thought to keep his gun, but after the case was closed, he really didn’t think he’d need it anymore. Besides, he’d needed the money if he was going to leave the country. How the hell had they found him?
Bursting through the back door, he looked around for something to use as a weapon. He spotted an axe stuck in a tree stump that was used to chop wood. He smiled maliciously.
Simon pulled up in front of the small cabin. After taking out his gun, he turned to Blair. “You stay here,” he ordered the anthropologist before getting out the car.
For once, Blair was inclined to agree, but sitting in that car was making him antsy. He couldn’t sit still, and finally he decided that he would just get out of the car just to stretch his legs after the long drive. He wouldn’t go anywhere. He would just stand next to the car. What harm was there in that?
“Blair, where are you going/” Jim asked from the back seat.
“Nowhere. I just need to stretch my legs. Besides, I can’t sit still.”
Jim got out of the car as well and stood next to his partner. He kept glancing all around, wary of possible danger. He hated not having his senses. He felt like he had blinders on. He wanted to scan the area for trouble but knew he couldn’t, and it was frustrating him. When this was all over, if he got his life back, he would never complain about his senses again.
As Jim’s eyes swept the area, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye. Looking to the side, he saw Drucker hefting a pretty big axe, and he was moving toward Blair, who didn’t seem to notice the danger.
“Blair, get down!”
Blair turned and duck just as the axe swinging toward his head. The axe, which would have hit him in the neck, smashed the car window instead. Blair scrambled backward as Drucker advanced on him again. He swung the axe sideways, and Blair jumped back. The axe put a pretty good-sized hole in the side of Simon’s car just above the front wheel. With his heart hammering wildly, Blair scrambled toward the cabin.
Blair wanted to yell for help, but his voice wouldn’t work so he continued to run. He was so focused on getting away from the madman with the axe that he didn’t see the small tree root sticking out from the ground. He tripped on it and fell forwards on the stairs to the cabin, hitting his head on a corner of a step. He lay there stunned as Drucker approached him. He lifted the axe and prepared to swing it down on Blair’s head.
As the axe made its downward swing, it suddenly stopped. Drucker stared at the axe in puzzlement as he tried to push it down, but it wouldn’t go any further. Blair looked up with dazed eyes to see Jim holding the axe with both hands. There was a look such rage on his face.
Jim brought the butt of the axe back into Drucker’s face with bruising force. Blood splattered from a broken nose. Drucker stumbled backwards, letting go of the axe, which remained floating in mid-air as Jim held on to it. Drucker covered his bloody nose with his hand. His eyes widened as he watched the axe swing back and forth. With a look of terror, he turned and ran into the trees. Jim dropped the axe and immediately turned to Blair, who was still sitting on the steps poking at the fresh gash just above his right eye, just as Simon and the other officers came running out of the cabin, guns drawn.
“Sandburg, are you alright?”
“Are you ok, Chief?”
Simon’s and Jim’s voices echoed in unison in Blair’s pounding head as they both unwittingly asked the same question at almost the exact same time. In answer to them both, he replied, “Yeah, I’m fine. Go get him.”
Jim was already off as Brown and Rafe helped the grad student to his feet. He swayed a bit before he got his balance. Simon gripped his arm and looked him in the eye.
“Blair, are you sure you’re ok?” the captain asked.
“Yes, Simon,” Blair answered a bit exasperated. “Just go get the guy.”
“Ok. Which way did he go?”
“He went running off into the trees that way,” Blair replied dazedly, pointing towards the cluster of trees.
“All right. Rafe, stay with him. The rest of you spread out. I want this guy found. We’ll search all night if we have to.”
Blair slowly sank onto the top step, rubbing his temples with Rafe standing anxiously nearby. Blair was confident that if Simon and the other officers didn’t find Drucker, Jim would.
Jim sprinted through the trees searching for his prey. He spotted Drucker running wildly just up ahead. Jim veered off to the left and put on a burst of speed in order to get ahead of the man. It was easy since he didn’t have to avoid hitting trees or shrubbery. Once Jim was sure he was far enough ahead, he stood and waited for Drucker to running straight toward him. He smiled as he saw him running. He stuck his arm as Drucker came running past and clothes-lined him hard, knocking the wind out of him as he hit the ground.
As Drucker lay there stunned, trying to get his breath back, Jim straddled his chest and started throwing punches at his face and torso. Drucker tried to block the blows, but it wasn’t working. He couldn’t understand what was happening. He could feel someone hitting him, but he couldn’t see anyone. He began to panic and started flailing his arms and legs wildly, trying to dislodge the weight from his chest that he could feel but couldn’t see.
And that’s how Simon found him, lying on the ground flailing madly, clearly in a state of panic. Simon raised his eyebrows as he stared at the pathetic man on the ground. He noticed blood on the man’s face and the way his head seemed to snap to the side as if he were being punched. Simon assumed that it was Jim.
“Jim,” Simon said. Drucker continued to be assaulted. “Jim!” Simon said in a louder voice.
Jim looked up, surprised to see Simon standing there. He hadn’t even heard him come along.
Simon saw Drucker’s head stop moving and assumed he had Jim’s attention now. “Stop,” he said firmly.
Jim looked back down at Drucker, who was only semi-conscious now. He really wanted to beat the guy to a bloody pulp, but that wouldn’t solve the situation. Drucker wasn’t wearing the amulet, and Jim guessed that he probably hid it somewhere if he didn’t get rid of it already. Drucker needed to be coherent to tell them what he did with it. With a loud sigh, he pulled the guy to his feet by his shirt and threw him to Simon.
Simon caught the man and proceeded to put him in handcuffs, trying to ignore the fact that he was just handed to him by a ghost that he couldn’t see. After reading him his rights, Simon started shoving him roughly back in the direction of the cabin.
Blair was still seated on the steps of the cabin holding a handkerchief given to him by Rafe firmly on the gash on his forehead when Simon and Jim came walking out the woods with a handcuffed Drucker between them. Blair jumped to his feet and immediately regretted it as dizziness overwhelmed him. He swayed and Jim was suddenly there to steady him. He wondered vaguely how his partner had gotten to him so fast. He smiled up at his Blessed Protector.
“You ok?” Jim asked, his face a mask of concern.
“Yeah. Where’s the amulet?”
“He doesn’t have it.”
Blair turned and hurried to where Simon was escorting the prisoner to a police cruiser. He stepped in front of them and looked into the face of Jim’s killer for the first and hopefully last time.
“Where is it?” he asked.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Drucker replied unconvincingly.
“Don’t give me that. Where is the amulet?”
“Sandburg, what…” Simon began but was interrupted by Blair.
“Look, Simon, I don’t have time to explain. We just need to find that amulet. Please.”
Simon looked into the pleading eyes of the police observer and sighed. He decided to forego the question for now. He was sure he’d get the full explanation later. He turned to Drucker and grabbed him by the shirt.
“Where is it?”
“I’m not telling you shit.”
“Fine. Then I’ll have Ellison have a crack at you,” Simon said seriously.
Drucker laughed. “Ellison is dead.”
“That doesn’t mean he isn’t here. I believe you already had a run-in with him and you have the bruises to prove it.”
Drucker eyes widened. His face drained of color as a look of horror passed over his face. He opened and closed his mouth several times, but he couldn't get the words out.
When he didn’t answer right away, Simon stepped aside. “Jim.”
“Wait! Wait! It’s in the cabin in the bedroom. I taped it to the underside of the night table.”
“I’m on it,” Blair said. He wasted no time in running back to the cabin with Jim on his heels. He looked hurriedly into each room until he found the bedroom. He ran to the night table beside the bed, reached under, and felt around a bit. His hand came back holding a round, gold amulet on a gold chain. He pulled the tape off and held it up to look at it.
“So that’s it, huh?” Jim asked.
“Hard to believe a little piece of metal could cause so much trouble.”
Blair nodded absently, still staring at the amulet. He didn’t like the feeling this thing gave him. He didn’t like it one bit.
“So now what?” Jim asked.
“Now we destroy it.”
Blair moved with a purpose from the room and back out the front door. He placed the amulet on the hard ground and then picked up the axe where Jim had dropped it earlier.
“Think this’ll work?” Jim asked.
“It has to.”
“Sandburg, what are you doing?” Simon asked.
He brought the axe up above his head and swung it down on the amulet, severing the piece of metal in half. Bright light seemed to emanate from the broken necklace. The air seemed to be charged with electricity, making the hairs on his arms stand on end. He had this weird sensation of falling and then nothing more.
Blair sat upright with an audible gasp. His heart thumping against his ribcage, he looked at his surroundings and realized he was sitting in Jim’s truck. How did I get in the truck? He wondered. And where were Simon and Jim and the rest of the officers. For that matter, where was he. Looking out the window, he found that he wasn’t at the cabin in the woods, and it wasn’t day. It was night, and he was sitting outside some warehouse.
Confused, he got out of the truck and looked around. His heart slammed into his chest when he spotted the black Mustang parked right outside the warehouse, the license plate clearly reading Dude 4. It was the car that kid, Jack Cramer had been driving, that one that had led Jim to the warehouse where he…
His mouth dropped open as he stared at the warehouse. He looked at his watch. It was 7:00 p.m. Jim was killed at 7:15 p.m. He looked at the warehouse again. Could it be? Was he actually back to the night just before Jim was killed? Incacha had said that destroying the amulet would reverse everything, but this wasn’t quite what he had in mind. But wait. If he was really back to that night, then wouldn’t Drucker still have the amulet?
His fear for Jim escalating, Blair ran toward the warehouse. There was no way Jim was going to be killed a second time.
The white light that had completely engulfed Jim’s vision the minute Blair smashed the amulet slowly cleared. He blinked a few times. Confused, he looked around his new surroundings. He found himself standing against a pile of crates in some sort of warehouse, his gun in his hands. After a few seconds, his vision adjusted to the sudden darkness. He quickly recognized this warehouse as the same one where he had met his death.
He realized with elation that was he no longer a spirit. He was very much alive. He could feel his heart hammering in his chest; hear it pounding away in his eardrums. He smiled as he took a huge gulp of blessed oxygen. It felt good to be alive. His elation quickly faded as he realized that if he was here then so was Drucker. He dialed up his hearing and located a rapid heartbeat just ahead of him. That had to be Drucker, and Jim guessed that he didn’t have the amulet considering his senses were working just fine.
He silently moved through the warehouse. After pinpointing Drucker’s position behind some crates, Jim circled and came up behind the man without him even realizing it. Jim aimed his gun at Drucker’s head.
“Freeze, Drucker! Put the pipe down.”
“What the…” Drucker sputtered, dropping the pipe. “How the hell did you know I was here?”
“I’ve got good ears.”
“But that’s impossible! You couldn’t…I…what…” Drucker stuttered to a halt as he frantically searched for the amulet around his neck, realizing with trepidation that it wasn’t there. He could have sworn that it had been there a second ago.
“If you’re looking for the amulet, you’re wasting your time. It’s gone,” Jim said.
Jim ignored the question as he pulled out his handcuffs. He was about to grab Drucker’s arms to pull them behind his back, but Drucker reacted faster than he anticipated. Drucker spun around, grabbing Jim’s arm and twisted it around behind his back. He grabbed the back of Jim’s collar and slammed his head against a wall twice before throwing him to the ground. Jim lay there stunned for a few seconds before he tried to push himself up to his hands knees. A well placed kick to his ribs sent him rolling. He used the momentum to get back to his hands and knees, and then he pulled himself to his feet and tackled Drucker, sending them both to the ground.
They grappled with each other, rolling around on the ground, each trying to get the upper hand. Drucker pulled a knife from his belt and managed to stab Jim in the left shoulder. Jim grunted in pain, and then managed to catch the next downward thrust of the knife with one hand. They struggled, Drucker trying to push the knife into Jim’s chest, and Jim trying to keep the blade away from his body. His body was quickly weakening however as his shoulder continued to ooze blood. The blade came closer to his chest.
The door slamming open and the frantic call of “Jim!” from his Guide were like music to Jim’s ears. Blair’s cry distracted Drucker long enough for Jim to knock the knife from his hand and punch him in the face a few times. Drucker rolled off of Jim, and Jim was immediately on top of the man. A few more punches to the face stopped Drucker’s struggling, and Jim turned him onto his back and cuffed him.
Blair ran through the warehouse. He stopped his frenzied run to get to his partner after seeing that Jim already had the situation under control. He sighed in relief as he watched Jim cuff the man.
Jim looked up at the young man and smiled. “Nice timing, Chief.”
Blair relaxed somewhat. Then he noticed the blood and frowned. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’ll live.” Jim pulled Drucker to his feet. He cocked his head to the side as he heard sirens approaching. “Back-up’s coming. C’mon. Let’s go meet them outside.”
After the uniforms took Drucker into custody, Simon approached the duo. “You guys just can’t keep yourselves out of trouble, can you?” the captain asked.
“You know us, Captain. We’re always on the lookout for trouble,” Jim said jokingly.
“Uh huh.” Simon scrutinized his best detective. “You all right.”
Jim glanced down at his still bleeding shoulder. “Yeah, it’s not that bad.”
“Nevertheless, I want you to get that taken care of and that’s an order. You guys can give your statements later.”
Blair led Jim toward the awaiting ambulance. Then, he paused and turned back to Simon. “Hey Simon,” he called.
Simon turned. “Yeah?”
“Thanks. For everything.”
Simon’s brow furrowed. He looked confused as to why Blair was thanking him, but he just went with it. He had long ago stopped questioning the things that Blair said and did. He just gave the kid an awkward smile and said, “You’re welcome.”
Jim and Blair continued toward the ambulance. Once they were out of earshot, Jim said, “I don’t think he remembers, Chief.”
“I don’t think anyone does. I just felt I had to thank him even if he didn’t know what I was talking about. He was there for me. He helped through the rough times after your…well you know.” Blair lowered his eyes. “I kind of wish he did remember.”
Jim put his arm around Blair’s shoulders and gave him a reassuring squeeze. Blair looked up at him and noticed the lines of pain around the older man’s eyes.
“Does it hurt real bad?” Blair asked.
“Not especially. Besides, it feels good.”
Blair looked at him like he was crazy. “Huh?”
Jim smiled. “After weeks of feeling nothing, it’s nice to feel a little pain. Reminds me I’m still alive.”
Jim sat out on the balcony of the loft looking at his city, his left arm in a sling. He was enjoying all the sights, sounds, and smells that he had been deprived of during his out of body experience. He took a deep breath of the cool air. It felt good to be alive.
Blair came out with two beers. Handing one to Jim, he sat down in the chair next to the Sentinel.
“No problem.” Blair leaned back in the chair. “I wonder why we’re the only ones that remember what happened.”
“Beats me. This is your area. You explain it to me.”
“I have no idea. There isn’t exactly a manual for this sort of thing. And I only study things like this. I don’t experience it firsthand.”
Jim returned his gaze to the city. He didn’t really care why only they remembered. He couldn’t explain half the things that happened, why should he be able to explain this? All he cared about was that it was over, and they’d never have to see that amulet again.
“So what was it like being a…well, a ghost?” Blair inquired.
Jim took a swig of his beer and rested it on the arm of the chair. “It was very frustrating. Not being able to talk to people or interact. Not being able to touch anything or manipulate my surroundings. Having to stand there and watch you suffer and not being able to do anything about it. It was pure hell.”
Blair placed a reassuring hand on Jim’s shoulder. “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t your fault. Besides, it got better once you could see me. I didn’t feel so disconnected.”
“You know it feels good knowing for sure that we share this bond with each other, that no matter what we’ll always be together even if one of us dies,” Blair said wistfully.
“Yeah, it does even though it means that one of us will be a spirit for as long as the other one lives.”
“Yeah, but it won’t be as bad. As long as our bond stays intact we’ll be able to see each other.”
“Or we could just not die.”
Jim snorted. “Hey, now there’s an idea.” There was silence for a few minutes. Jim glanced at his partner. There had been something bothering him and now was as good a time as any to get it out in the open. He wasn’t a very open person, but this was one thing that he just had to talk about. “Chief, if something were to ever happen to me.” Jim noticed the tiny shudder that went through Blair but ignored it in order to go on. “I want you to promise that you won’t fall apart like you did. I want you to go on and live your life. I don’t want you retreating inside yourself, and from what I saw, you weren’t too far from doing just that.”
Blair picked at the label on his beer bottle. His hair hung down, obscuring his face. “Jim, I don’t know that I can do that. When you died, I felt lost and alone and…empty. I felt like I had this big hole inside me, like a part of me died along with you, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all.”
Jim shifted around to face the young man. Placing his beer on the floor, he put both hands on Blair’s shoulders and turned him toward him. “Listen, Blair, we know now that with this bond, we’ll always be together. I will always be with you no matter what. Do you understand?”
Blair nodded. He pushed his hair back and gave Jim a small smile. “Yeah, I do. I promise.”
Satisfied, Jim leaned back and picked up his beer again.
“You have to promise me the same thing,” Blair said.
“C’mon, Jim. I know you. And I don’t want you reverting back to the old Jim Ellison and undoing all the work we’ve done. I know what you were like before you met me. The guys told me, and I don’t want you going back to that.”
Jim smiled. “I promise.”
They sat in silence once more, drinking their beers. Jim noticed Blair shiver a little from the cold and belatedly realized it was a bit chilly out. “Do you want to go back inside?”
“No, I’m fine,” Blair replied, rubbing his arms a little.
Jim went back inside, grabbed the afghan from the back of the couch, and came back out. Sitting back in his chair, he spread the afghan over his legs. He then lifted up a corner and beckoned Blair toward him. Blair put his beer bottle on the ground next to Jim’s and got up hesitantly.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“Will you just get in here?”
Blair smiled and practically jumped into the chair under the afghan. He snuggled close to his Sentinel, unashamed of the close proximity. It felt good to feel the warmth of the Sentinel’s body. He never realized how much they touched each other during the day. It was nothing sexual, he knew. It was just a way for them to reconnect, which is what they badly needed.
Blair wrapped his arm around Jim’s waist and laid his head on the Sentinel’s chest. He sighed as he listened to the steady beat of Jim’s heart, which he thought had been silenced forever. It was a good sound. He relaxed even more.
Jim wrapped his arms around his Guide. He smiled as he felt the muscles relax and heard the sigh of contentment. He started brushing the chestnut curls from Blair’s face as he leaned back.
Blair, half asleep, whispered, “Hey Jim.”