OK. Here it is. The promised crossover between The Sentinel and Due South. I was very unkind to Jim in this one. Have to rate it an 'R' for violence. I wasn't too explicit. The death of the bad guy was based on a real incident. Sorry about that. It's amazing how all those old war stories I heard so long ago are now coming back to entertain people. :) The usual disclaimers apply. They aren't mine. I get no money. (If they were mine, I wouldn't allow them out of the house.) :) This is actually the first fanfic I ever started. I was stuck sitting in for branch one day. I had no access to the computer, as the usual secretary had the startup passworded. There I sat for nine hours. Answered the phone maybe a dozen times, as the branch chief was TDY. Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. I had my pencil and a pad of unlined paper. I got tired of sketching, and started writing. This is the result. For DS, this includes RayV. I have a sequel in mind involving RayK. Yes, it, too, is a crossover. :) Wolfpup is gonna scream. eg That'll teach her to threaten me with being tied down and forced to watch old 'LoveBoat' episodes. (Never threaten the quiet types, we're deadly VBeg) She should be grateful I even pulled it out to input. My handwriting is so bad that unless I use my calligraphy pen, even I can't read it sometimes. This is in pencil and I had to guess at some of the words. I am the reason they invented word processors. :) Enough babbling. Here it is:
[ Reader comments ] [ Add your comments ]
It caught him totally unprepared. He'd been looking at the gorgeous young woman one moment, and heard the movement behind him too late to turn and prevent the sharp blow to his head.
"SANDBURG! My office! NOW!"
Captain Banks sounded really POd. Blair thought. I just got here. What could I have done already? He looked around the bull pen and saw no sign of Jim Ellison. Odd. He stepped into the Captain's office and closed the door.
"Yes, sir?" he asked cautiously.
The captain looked at him, worriedly. "Where's Ellison?"
Blair's jaw dropped. "Uh...isn't he here?"
"If he was here, would I be asking you where he was?"
"He left at seven. I had a nine o'clock class, and told him I'd meet him here after lunch. His truck's downstairs..." Stop babbling. He told himself as he trailed off.
Simon Banks took a deep breath and opened his mouth to ask another question, when his phone rang.
As the voice on the other end spoke, he looked at Blair with a shocked expression. Blair spun and opened the door, calling for someone to start a trace on the captain's call.
No time. The call ended even before they had a chance to start a trace. Simon hung up the phone and dropped heavily into his chair.
Blair's soft voice penetrated his shock better than a shout would have. He looked at the young anthropologist who was watching him worriedly.
"What's happened to Jim?"
Simon took a deep breath, seeing the rest of his men gathered at his doorway to hear the news.
"Wilson, the guy we're holding for extradition to Chicago. His friends have Jim. They want to trade. They said they'll call back tomorrow with the details..." His voice trailed off. He didn't want his men, especially not Sandburg, to know that he had heard these slime bags hitting Jim in the background; that he had recognized Jim's voice as he cursed at them....
Blair apparently saw something in Simon's face that told him more than his words had. "How are we ever going to find him, Simon?" He whispered, nearly in tears.
"Aw, C'mon, Benny. I really need you on this one."
"Ray, I don't see how I can possibly accommodate you on this. I do have my own duties, you know."
"Yeah. Yeah.. I know. But with Willie the Weasel coming and.."
"Who?" Fraser interrupted.
"Sorry. President Clinton coming and all the preparations and security and everything else, there's just no one else available to go with me."
"Why does there need to be two of us to pick up a felon for extradition?"
"He's a real scumbag. He's got a pretty big organization behind him, and we're worried about him escaping. He did before...twice. Two good men ended up dead. So, this time, they want two guys to escort him. One to help watch the back of the other. I figured you'd be perfect for the job. No one would think that you were my back-up."
"That's assuming that they don't know about our relationship." Fraser replied.
"Yeah. But his people are out west with him, not here with us." Ray smiled his boyish, wheedling best. "C'mon, Benny. Forests, trees, mountains, green..."
"Where 'out west' are you talking about?"
"Ah." Clean air, well, cleaner than Chicago, anyway. Something new and different. "What about Dief?"
Ray's smile turned sharklike. "He can come, too." Wait for it. Waaiit for it...
"Well,...I suppose if you got your Leftenant to ask my Inspector..."
"Great! Here's your tickets. Here's your papers, including a gun permit..."
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Ray, you have to get permission for me, before..."
"Fraser! My office! Now!"
Fraser looked at a smirking Ray, eyes widening in surprise.
"I already had my boss call your boss. In fact, it was all his idea."
The pain was almost more than he could bear. He tried to turn down his senses, deep breathing.... no. That hurt more. Definitely ribs broken. It was so cold. He shivered, wondering how much was shock, how much was real. He tried to curl into an even tighter fetal position. No, the broken ribs wouldn't allow that, either, he thought, gasping in agony. He heard the door open and flinched, tightening up, jaw locked. Waiting for the next blow. The man came close, breathing heavily with excitement. Touching him lightly on the shoulder.
"Hey, baby. Wanna play?" The hand stroked lightly down his bare back to his hip, giggling as the captive's muscles tightened even more in anticipation of another blow to his naked body. His hands, tied in front of him at least, allowed him to defend himself a little, blocking the blows to his genitals; but for how much longer? he wondered. His right wrist was broken, both hands swollen numb. Would he lose his hands? he worried. Wouldn't matter if/when they killed him.
"Play what, asshole? Kick the can, again?" This one he hadn't seen before. He shivered. He knew he had hurt at least two of his captors...out of how many, six? Yeah. Six. This one made seven. The hand squeezed his butt.
"How about it, babe? Wanna play?"
He managed to contain his rage, the pain pushed into the background. How long had he been here? From his thirst, more than a day. He grunted as he turned to face his tormentor. "Go to hell."
The man smiled, his hand reaching for the captive's genitals. His touch surprisingly gentle. "Aw, you know you wanna play. Tell you what, I'll do you, first." The man's head bent down toward him.
"Screw you." Jim muttered, relieving himself in the man's face.
The man jumped back from him, spluttering in rage. His right foot drew back to kick his prisoner, who managed to turn to protect his privates; taking the blow on the already damaged left side of his ribcage.
The angry captor crossed the room and opened a closet. Reaching inside, he brought out a two foot long device, with two electrodes at the business end. He smiled as he touched the prisoner with the cattle prod and pressed the button.
Two days. The kidnappers didn't call back like they said they would. Two days. Where could he be? Two days. He's still alive. I know he's still alive. I'd know if he wasn't...wouldn't I? Oh, God. Please let him still be alive... Two days.
Simon looked up wearily from the files on his desk. He spotted Blair, finally asleep at Jim's desk. Poor kid. This was really hard on him. On all of them, actually. Why hadn't they called? They could do nothing. A trade was impossible - The cops from Chicago were already on their way, would be in this evening. The odds of Jim still being alive were infinitesimal. They all knew it. But...Ellison was a hard man to kill, and Blair was still absolutely certain his partner was still alive. God, I hope so, he prayed.
Blair suddenly awoke, screaming. Simon was immediately at his side, holding him by the shoulders.
"Sandburg! Sandburg! It's just a nightmare. Wake up!"
Blair stared unseeing around him. "Jim! Oh, God, they're hurting him. He's ...He's... I've got to find him. I've got to." He stared wildly around the room. He rose to his feet.
"No, Simon. I have to look. I'll call you when I find him." He turned to leave.
"How are you going to find him?"
Blair raised his haggard countenance to meet Simon's gaze. "I don't know. I just know I have to try."
Simon nodded. He didn't understand the connection between the two men, but he certainly respected it. "Keep in touch...You hear me?"
Blair smiled, weakly. "Yes, sir."
He was losing it. Even his hair hurt, short as it was. His body one massive bruise, except where the cattle prod had burned him. He was nearly zoned out from the pain. There were professionals who could learn a thing or two from these guys. He heard the door open again. The room stayed dark, this time. He was so glad it was him, here, instead of his partner. For a change. He recognized the smell of the pervert with the cattle prod.
"It's time to play, now." he whispered, with a giggle, to his prisoner. Then he touched Jim's broken ribs with his cattle prod, pressing the button.
Jim writhed in agony, but refused to give the bastard the satisfaction of crying out.
With no screams, he quickly tired of the game. He set the prod aside. "Now, will you play nice?" he asked, softly stroking the bruised, battered body curled before him.
"What do you want?" Jim asked wearily.
"Just a little game."
"What kind of game?" Jim didn't even look at him. He had a pretty good idea what the creep wanted.
"How's about a little blow job, for starters?"
Jim's eyes opened in surprise as he heard the man's zipper. "You've got to be kidding." he mumbled. He looked. Nope, the guy was serious.
"Come on, babe. It'll be fun. I'll even use a condom..." the voice was teasing.
Jim shook his head in disgust. "No way." The man picked up the cattle prod and placed the business end on Jim' testicles.
"Way, babe. Or I'll fry your balls and feed 'em to you in spaghetti. The choice is yours." he grinned, rubbing the cattle prod, suggestively.
The old military training came to the fore...whatever it takes to survive...do anything...
The fool was too much a sadist to have been satisfied with the prisoner's reluctant capitulation, but had to use the cattle prod as his prisoner was choking, causing his playmate's jaws to clamp down.
He nearly drowned in the blood, choking on...but his body's natural gag reflexes saved him. Heaving and retching uncontrollably, as his captor screamed and bled to death.
When the other jailers came to check on him, the first one in took one look and puked his guts out on the floor. They hurriedly shut the door on the sight of their dismembered colleague, lying in the pool of his own blood, and their apparently dead captive sprawled in blood and vomit.
It had been six long, quiet hours since Sandburg had left the station. Simon stayed at his desk awaiting word from Blair. He'd been joined by Joel Taggart, captain of the bomb squad. The silence was deafening.
"Damn. Damn! DAMN!" That was them. Jim was in that van. He just knew it. Lousy time for his car to break down on him. "Jim. Oh, Jim. I'm sorry. What do I do now?" He was stranded a good five or six miles from town, in a dead cell zone. The airport was the closest place to go to call for help...It was getting cold, and the overcast threatened rain. Blair didn't try to stop the tears.
The van pulled off the highway at the widening project. They would be black-topping the next day. "We can bury them here. They'll never be found." They grabbed shovels and started digging a grave big enough for two. Since the prisoner had been unconscious, they didn't think to check if he was alive. As the four men dug, their two injured compatriots looking on, they forgot to watch the van.
Jim had regained consciousness as the van had turned onto the highway. He remained quiet, careful not to give away anything. When the van passed the airport turn-off, he could hear Blair's voice, swearing dismayedly. A short time later, the van pulled off the road and parked.
'They must think I'm dead, too.' They had left the doors open. Cautiously, carefully, quietly, he eased his broken and battered body out the back of the van, keeping his ears trained on his captors. Silently, he slipped off into the underbrush. He figured he had maybe fifteen minutes to lose himself in the forest and find a place to go to ground.
"Where is he?" "I don't know." "I was digging." "So was I." "I thought he was dead." "Who checked to make sure." No one. "Wait, he's hurt bad. It's supposed to get down to the thirty's, tonight, he'll never last the night." They finished burying their cohort and left.
"Not one more Inuit story, Fraser."
"But, Ray, I haven't told you any Inuit stories."
"OK. Stop giving me the history of the region, then."
Diefenbaker suddenly growled.
"Ray. Stop the car."
"There's someone who needs help." Fraser pointed to the small man trying to flag them down from across the highway.
Diefenbaker growled even more menacingly and closed his jaws on the back of Ray's neck.
Ray slammed on the brakes. "What the HELL was that for?!" he shouted, as Fraser had his door open and was approaching the stranded motorist.
"May we be of some assistance?" he asked.
"Please, you've got to help me. My name's Blair Sandburg and my partner was kidnapped and they went past here at least a half hour ago, I gotta get to him before they kill him. Please..." running out of breath.
Fraser turned to look at Ray, who's dubious expression was not lost on the smaller man.
"If you won't help me, could you at least call the Cascade Police? Talk to Captain Simon Banks, tell him..."
"Banks? We're supposed to pick up a guy for extradition from a Captain Banks." Ray broke in.
Blair turned his pleading, puppydog look on Ray. "They took him two and a half days ago. We know they were torturing him, Simon heard Jim in the background when they called, demanding an exchange...They never called back." The tears started again, unnoticed. "Please..." Blair whispered.
"How do you know where they went?" Ray asked, gently.
"I...I just know. You know? Like a gut feeling? Jim and I are partners. We're real close...I...just...know." His voice trailed off in a whisper. "He's hurt...real bad...please?"
Fraser looked at Ray, who shrugged. Diefenbaker jumped out of the car and came over to comfort the young man.
"Rower-uff" licking Blair's hand and looking meaningfully at his human.
"If Dief thinks we can help...Ray?"
"OK, OK. Get in."
They all jumped in the rental car and headed back, away from the city.
He could hear them, yelling and cursing and accusing each other. He'd managed to put nearly a half mile between himself and his former captors. He still held out little hope for his survival. His hands were still bound, and he couldn't reach the knot with his teeth. Not to mention, broken bones, bruises, and no clothing. The only thing he could think of was to try and find a deadfall he could pack with leaves and detrius from the forest floor to provide at least a tiny bit of protection from the elements. A short time later, he found the perfect spot: protected from the wind and hard to spot by the bad guys, once he was in it. He tried to make his nest of dead grass and leaves as warm as possible. Soon he gave up his fight to stay conscious, falling into an exhausted, painful sleep. As he drifted off, he thought he heard the purring of a big cat.
"I know they had to pull off here, somewhere. but where?" Blair wished he could conjure up Jim's Spirit Guide. Abruptly, his rescuer's strange looking dog was it part wolf? made another weird noise, something between a whine and a howl.
"Diefenbaker, there are no such things as giant black cats." Fraser answered the animal.
Shocked, Blair looked at the animal, who grinned at him.......and WINKED! "Where? Where did you see it? Where was it?!"
Ray slowed the car to a stop. "Why is this my life?" he moaned, pounding his head on the steering wheel.
Dief pointed his nose north, and back toward where they had just passed.
"Are you sure?" Fraser asked his master.
"Humph!" Dief replied.
"I know. I know, turn around. We passed it." Matching actions to words.
"Stop here, Ray." Fraser spoke softly. He was looking at a road construction site.
"Uff." Dief confirmed.
"Mr. Sandburg, did the van you saw have a loose wheel?"
"Um...you mean was one wobbling?"
Blair thought hard. "Yeah...I think so...the right rear was kinda funny.."
"Ahh. Then I think this may be where they stopped."
Blair had been absentmindedly petting the animal, who put his nose in Blair's ear and made soft comforting, snuffling noises, then licked the man's cheek.
"Auuggh! Oh, that is so gross. You let him lick your face? Yuck!" Ray exclaimed. "How can you do that?"
Cautiously, the four exited the car.
"Dief. Can you find Jim for me? Or his panther? If you can show me his panther, I can follow him to Jim." Blair was looking deeply into the wolf's eyes, not even realizing what he was doing. Dief grinned and winked, again.
"Uh...excuse me, Mr. Sandburg,"
"Uh, Blair. Ahh, Diefenbaker is deaf. And, although I think he can read lips, it's doubtful that he'll do anything more than track you partner; when, and if, we find his tracks."
"How tall is your partner?" Ray called, "Uh, six-two, six-three, or thereabouts."
Fraser had followed his partner - "A size....twelve foot?" he asked.
"Uh, yeah, I think so. Why?"
"Well, if this is him, he's barefoot." Ray pointed the beam of his flashlight at the footprint he had found.
"Oh, dear." Fraser replied, looking around. "Blair, there's a grave over here. Rather hastily done, I might add." Blair came over to look at the fresh mound of dirt.
"That's not Jim."
"Are you sure?" Ray said kindly, joining them.
"Yeah. It's not big enough." And for the first time in days, Blair finally smiled, with hope renewed in his heart.
Fraser and Dief had gone back to the barefoot print. He carefully picked up a small sample of the dirt in the track.
"Benny? Don't you dare..." Ray began.
"No, Ray, I'm just going to smell it." He sniffed at his sample. "There's...blood...bile..." He stopped, looking at an awestruck Blair Sandburg.
"You're one, too." he whispered. "Are you? You ARE! I know you are. Oh, man. Ohmanohmanohman. There are two of you."
Ray looked at him as though he thought the kid had lost his mind.
"Do you have all five enhanced? Are you a full Sentinel? Where...When..How...Oh, man. OK.OK...First we find Jim. Then, have I got questions for YOU!"
Ray looked at Blair as though he thought the stress had driven him totally around the bend.
Fraser looked embarrassed.
Blair spun on Ray. "Are you his guide?"
"Huh? What? Who? Me?" Ray held up his hands, backing away.
Blair looked confused. "But..." Then he looked at Dief, and knew. "He didn't have a guide, so you came to help him." he whispered in awe. Dief just grinned...and... winked, again.
"What are you talking about?" Ray demanded.
"He smells things, and tastes thing. Sees and hears things normal people can't. Right?" Ray's shocked expression was all the answer Blair needed. "Do you have problems with zone outs?"
At the puzzled looks, "Where you're concentrating so hard on one sense, you...like...maybe forget to breathe?"
Ray chuckled. "Well, he doesn't do that. But he does concentrate so hard, sometimes, you gotta hit him to get his attention."
"Ray. I do not."
"Yeah, Fraser, you do. Think 'Guard Duty'."
"Rrrr-uff" Dief agreed, grinning.
Blair looked at his new companions. "So? Can you guys track him in the dark?"
Ray sighed, "Let me change my shoes. At least I'm not wearing a suit to get ruined..." he muttered to himself as he opened the trunk and changed into his tennies. Fraser took his rucksack from the trunk and looked at his duffel. He rearranged a few things and shouldered his pack.
"Dief?" The wolf sniffed the footprint and trotted off into the forest, tail waving gaily.
Even in the dark, Fraser found the trail easy to follow. It was obvious, at least to Dief and himself, that Jim was badly hurt. Dief stopped, hackles raised, snarl on his lips. Then, just as suddenly, he gave out a little yip of joy and dove under a fallen tree. Returning immediately, dancing with happiness. Fraser looked over the site, recognizing the signs of displacement.
"He's in there." he told the others. He looked at Blair. "He's alive."
Blair was trembling. Fear...cold..not sure which. "I'll get him. He'll know me." The others nodded, backing away.
Fraser scanned the area and took a deep breath. "Ray, help me set up camp." Ray just looked at him. "It's going to snow."
"Oh, shit." Ray replied, coming to help. "How bad do you think he is?"
Ben just looked at his friend. "Bad, I'm afraid." He pulled a small three-man dome tent from his pack. Ray had it set up in two minutes. Ben looked surprised.
"What? I've been practicing."
They spread Ben's bedroll inside the tent. They'd use their coats as covers. With four of them squeezed inside, it should maintain them all quite well.
"Jim? Jim...it's me...It's Blair, Jim." No answer. He crept closer..."Jim? Come on buddy. Please, Jim. Answer me. Jim?" Please. Oh Pleaseohpleaseohplease...
"Chief?" so thirsty, so hot.
"It's me, man. Can you come out of there? I don't think it's a good idea for me to drag you out. Jim?"
"My hands are still tied. I can't..." the voice trailed off.
Blair crawled into the deadfall. "Jim?" He couldn't see in the darkness, but sensed his friend's location. He reached out a hand carefully and touched...Hot bare skin. On, no. He's naked. What did they do to him? he could feel the heat now, the raging fever consuming his friend. "C'mon Jim. Help me here. Just roll over so I can get your hands untied. Then we'll get you out of here. C'mon man."
With a moan of intense effort, Jim managed to shift so Blair could cut his bonds. The swollen fists presented to him nearly had him in tears for his friend. He pulled out his pocket knife and carefully started cutting the ropes from the discoloured swollen hands.
"Right wrist's broken." Jim mumbled.
"I'm being as careful as I can." Blair murmured back. The ropes parted suddenly, almost causing Blair to cut his friend...almost. "Come on, Jim." Gently touching his shoulder. "I've brought help. The guys from Chicago. The ones here after Wilson? They found me broken down on the road." He lowered his voice so only Jim could hear. "One of them's like you, Jim. A Sentinel, like you. Isn't that great?"
Jim's relief at his rescue turned to ashes. Another Sentinel. 'like him.' That meant five senses. Blair, the wanderer would have a new case to study. Blair would follow this new Sentinel, finish his thesis...leave him. He stopped struggling and allowed the blackness to take him.
"Jim? Jim!' He turned to the others. "Help me. He's passed out. C'mon man, don't you dare quit now! Please, Jim." Pleading. "Please, Jim. You're my best friend. Ever...please." he begged.
The others came and helped drag the unconscious man out. Fraser noticed the fever.
"He's too hot. We need to cool him down." He listened, looking around. "There's a stream, just over there. Ray, you and Blair get him over there."
"What are you gonna do, Benny?"
Ben looked up. "Freeze us."
As Jim was carried as carefully as the two men could possibly manage the twenty or thirty feet to the indicated stream, Fraser went to his pack and pulled out his sweats and towels. Hurrying to join the others. Ben started stripping before he got to the water. As the injured man was gently set down by the stream, Blair noticed what Ben was doing.
"What are you doing?"
Ben looked up. "Ice bath...lower fever. I'll hold him up so he won't drown."
Ray rolled his eyes. "Benny, you'll both freeze."
Ben looked at Blair. "No, I won't." He smiled. "Remember? I'm part polar bear." With that, he jumped into the water. "Hand him down, gently." he directed, reaching for the unconscious man, who abruptly went into convulsions. Blair lost his grip on his friend, but Ray managed to hold on as Ben caught the flailing body and quickly pulled him into deeper water. As the icy stream worked its magic, first the convulsions stopped, then, Jim's temperature dropped. After twenty minutes, Ben pulled the now shivering Jim back toward the bank.
"Ray? Blair? Give me a hand here, please."
Rushing to comply, Ray and Blair held the still unconscious Jim by the upper arms, taking some of the weight as Ben carried the limp body out of the water. Ben continued to support Jim as Blair toweled him dry. Ray brought Ben's sweats and slipped the pants onto the unconscious man.
"I'm afraid the sweatshirt won't work, Ray. Perhaps one of the flannel shirts?" Shaking his head, Ray pulled out one of the thick heavy shirts from his friend's pack.
"Gonna be a tight fit. He's bigger than you are." struggling to get the shirt on Jim's unresponsive form.
"You brought camping gear to pick up a prisoner?" Blair finally asked, as Ben handed the inert Jim to Ray, who eased him to the ground. Ben quickly toweled himself off.
"Well, my father said 'always'...he said 'never'... Well, he said two things, actually. But I only remember one. 'When taking an afternoon walk in the forest, always be prepared to spend the week'."
Ray rolled his eyes. Blair's brows lowered, thinking.
"Why?" he asked.
Ben paused in his dressing. "Well, you see, where I come from, there's always a risk of the weather changing. Cold to warm, warm to cold. Out on the glaciers, it's very unstable. So, one must be prepared to camp at all times."
Blair just stared.
"He's Canadian." Ray said, by way of explanation.
Blair just blinked. "Uh, how'd you end up a cop in Chicago?"
Ray and Ben exchanged a look. "Well, actually, I'm a constable with the RCMP, assigned to the Chicago Consulate as Deputy Liaison Officer."
Ray smiled. "Don't ask. It's a long story. Takes exactly two hours to tell. Let's just say he came as my backup, 'cause he's my friend."
Fraser smiled. "Let's get your partner inside, shall we?" He suggested. Blair crawled in the tent and they slid the still unconscious man in as carefully as they could. Ben lightly, gently ran his hands over Jim's body. "There are at least four broken ribs. No lung damage, fortunately. Let me see his wrist."
Blair carefully lifted the injured right arm, supporting the hand, as well.
"We'll need to get a splint on this." Ben decided, turning to crawl out of the tent, leaving Blair cradling his friend in his lap.
Ben and Ray set out to gather wood and splint material. As Ben reentered the tent, Ray dumped his load and went in search of more, just as the first large wet flakes of snow started falling. Ben pulled his rucksack over close as he set his splints by Blair, who watched him like a hawk. Diefenbaker ducked through the door with a mumble and dropped down beside them, resting his head on Jim's legs.
"I told you it was going to snow, Dief." Ben muttered.
"Mmmmmmrrrooo" Dief grumbled in reply.
"You've gotten too soft. You're an Arctic Wolf, for goodness sakes."
Blair couldn't help smiling. "If he's deaf, how come he knows what you're saying?"
"He reads lips." Ben muttered distractedly in response. Jim moaned as Ben set his wrist. "Hold this." he directed, handing Blair the set arm, with the sticks he was going to use for splints to help immobilize the injured member, placing Blair's hands so as to support and stabilize as he reached in his pack to remove a bright orange, three inch wide roll of Vetwrap(TM).
Blair just blinked. "What all do you have in there, anyway? A tent, clothes...What's Vetwrap(TM)?"
Well, they use it on people, too. But they call it something else. It's a type of pressure bandage, only it sticks to itself and you can't reuse it. But it's really very handy. I usually carry a roll. Of course, if all else fails, there's duct tape." Ben replied opening the package and and starting to wrap Jim's arm from elbow to fingers and back. "There. That should help." He said as he gently replaced the now bright orange wrapped arm in Jim's lap. "He'll need a hospital to take care of the ribs, I'm afraid." He looked at Blair, who, now that he had his friend back, seemed about to loose his own battle with fatigue. "I'm going out and get a fire started, then see what I can dig up for supper." he spoke softly. Blair drowsily nodded, adjusting his grip on his friend and partner. Ducking back outside of the tent, Ben paused a moment, looking around, listening, smelling the clean, cold air. He held an object he had removed from his pack in his right hand.
Ray brought up another load of fire wood, adding it to the considerable pile he'd already gathered. "Think that's enough to last the night?" he asked.
Ben nodded, distractedly. "I'm going to try to find something to eat. Can you start the fire?"
Ray smiled. He stooped over a small duffel bag on the ground that no one had noticed him carrying. "Yeah." he replied, pulling out a Sterno(TM) cooker, matches, sauce pan, MREs, bowls and cutlery. He smirked up at an astounded Ben. "Let's just say I've learned how to pack when traveling with you." Ben just shook his head in amused wonder. As Ray put together his cooker and started preparing some stew, Ben built a fire, taking some dry kindling from his pack.
Blair had dozed off with Jim cradled against him.
He was lost. Senses gone crazy; the cold smell of blue, the taste of the sky, the sight of pain...alone. All alone. Nothing working right...nothing to hold on to. Fear. Alone. No one to guide him. No one to help, to reach out and save him from...himself. The senses made no sense. They were scrambled, confusing. Helpless. Alone. He was gasping for air, unable to suck in enough oxygen. The pain. The dials were all broken, he couldn't turn them down. "Blair. Blair!" No. He remembered. Blair had found another Sentinel. He was alone. All alone.
"Jim. It's OK. I'm right here. Jim?" He held tight to the still semi-conscious man. "Shh. It's OK. I'm here.."
Jim's eyes opened, searching the younger man's face. Making sure. "I...I thought you'd left." Deserted me. Left me alone when I needed you, his eyes added.
"No. I'm right here. Where I belong."
"You said...another one...like me..." The searching look, the need for reassurance.
Blair hugged him, cautiously, mindful of his injuries. "Nah. You're not getting rid of me that easily. Besides, this guy has his wolf as his guide. At least, I think it's his guide. It's kind of weird. I don't think his partner is his guide...He's too confused about it all." He hugged again, reassuringly. Then spoke very softly, "You're the subject of my thesis. I may get Ben to answer a lot of questions, but he doesn't need a guide." he grinned. "You do. Besides, I need a Blessed Protector." Jim relaxed under his friend's reassurances. Then the memories came back. He tensed.
"We have to get out of here. They'll be back to look for me."
The flap of the tent was raised and Fraser crawled in, reached back and brought in two bowls of hot stew.
Blair gawked. "I'm not even going to ask how you managed this."
Ben smiled shyly at the now conscious Jim. "It would appear that Ray came prepared, as well. Are you feeling any better?" he asked politely, as he handed the bowls to Blair.
Jim smiled. "Yeah. Considering." he looked at the tent flap as Ray crawled in with two more bowls of stew for himself and Fraser.
"Hey. Back among us, huh?" he handed a bowl to Ben and tried to find a comfortable way to sit in the now horribly overcrowded tent. "I thought it only snowed in August in Canada." he groused, smiling.
Jim grinned, managing his spoon with his left hand, with difficulty, as it hurt to move. Seeing his discomfort, Blair took the spoon from his hand, trading it for his own bowl, so that Jim was holding both bowls while Blair wielded the spoons. They ate in companionable silence. When they had finished, Ray took their bowls and spoons outside and rinsed them in the near-by stream. Upon his return, he brought Fraser's canteen in with him and passed it to Blair, who helped Jim drink his fill.
"Thank you." Jim said upon finishing. The others shared the canteen, after which Ray set it back outside.
"It's really coming down out there." Ray informed the others.
Feeling his strength returning after the hot food, Jim struggled to sit up. Blair held him down by the shoulders, easily.
"No. My turn to tell you to stay down." Jim looked up at him in surprise. Blair grinned. Ben and Ray gave them matching puzzled looks. "Usually, our positions are reversed, and Jim has to hold me down." he said by way of explanation.
"Ah." Ben replied, not really understanding. Ray smirked. He was really starting to like this kid; he had brass.
"How did you find me?" Jim finally asked, giving Blair a puzzled glance.
"Oh. Well...uh." Blair blushed. "I had a dream, kinda. I was sitting at your desk. You'd been missing for two days. This morning." he suddenly remembered, surprised. "Anyway, I fell asleep and I had this dream, nightmare, really, where these guys were beating you up? Then I saw the panther, and he looked at me and he was standing by the road to the airport. Then I woke up; yelling, I guess. Simon was pretty shook up, and I guess I told him I was going to go find you...Then I was driving around and saw this van. The panther looked out the window. Right at me. I followed it, then my car broke down near the turn off to the airport. Then Ben and Ray, here, came by and...Oh! I'm sorry. I forgot. Jim. This is Ben Frazier and Ray...I don't know your last name." Blair finished lamely.
"Vecchio.: Ray smiled. The kid was observant, he had to admit. "Detective, First Grade. twenty-seventh District, Chicago." He looked Jim in the eyes. "We've already lost two good men trying to get that creep Wilson back to Chicago. They probably grabbed you to distract your guys from us trying to take him back." He glanced at Ben. "Benny here's actually a Mountie. We were hoping they wouldn't notice him, or at least not recognize him as a cop. So he could be my back-up on the trip back."
Jim looked askance at Ben. "Actually, it's pronounced 'Fraser'. Ben corrected, softly.
Jim nodded. "Jim Ellison. Detective, Major Crimes, Cascade PD." he introduced himself.
Ray looked at the pair. "You look like a cop." he said to Jim. "You look like you've spent too much time as a narc." to Blair.
Jim chuckled, grimacing in pain. Blair blushed. "Neo-hippie, witchdoctor, punk and now a narc? Sheesh." he grumbled.
"Blair's an anthropologist. He's working on his PHD." Jim explained.
Ray looked blank, his eyes narrowed. "I thought you said you were partners?" Suspicion creeping into his voice.
"Ray, Ray, Ray." Ben started, "I suspect theirs is a teaming very much like our own."
The four men compared one another in the light of this odd idea.
"Yeah, I guess we're both a pair of Mutt and Jeffs." Ray finally conceded. Ben gave him a confused look. "I'll explain it later, Benny." Ray added, shaking his head and sighing at his friend's naivete.
"You mentioned Simon?" Jim asked.
"Oh, shit!" Blair exclaimed. "I was in a dead cell zone and left the phone in my car. I'm sorry, Jim. How could I have been so dumb?"
Ray grinned, shifted and pulled his cell phone out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Blair. "You'll have to dial the area code, first."
"Oh, man, thanks." Blair punched buttons. "Simon! I've got him..." he listened, blushing, "Uh, Simon?" listened, looking guiltily at Ben and Ray. Jim and Ben, able to hear Simon looked at each other and smiled, "Uh, Simon?...Captain?...SIR?!...Uh, they're not missing...They're here. With me."
Even Ray could hear him. Everyone flinched.
"Sir?" Blair spoke tentatively. "Uh, Simon? We've found Jim. He's got a broken wrist and some broken ribs. And lots of bruises....Simon?" he looked helplessly at the others. Jim took the phone from his friend's unresisting fingers.
He grinned at his boss' tone of voice.
"Where ARE you? We found Sandburg's car and cell phone near the airport."
Jim looked up at Blair from his fairly comfortable position in his partner's lap. "Where are we?"
"Uh..." Blair looked blankly at the others.
"May I?" Ben asked, taking the pone from Jim's hand. "Captain Banks?"
"Who the hell are you?" Simon growled.
"Constable Benton Fraser, RCMP, sir." he announced. Ray rolled his eyes at Jim and Blair, grinning mischievously.
Ben flinched and jerked the phone away from his ear in pain. "Ah, yes, sir. I'm acting as, well I guess I've been loaned to the Chicago Police Department to assist with an extradition?"
The silence from Simon was nearly as deafening as his yelling.
"Anyway, sir. We are approximately eight miles East of the airport turn off, our rental car is parked at the side of the road at a construction site, which appears to be a road widening project?"
"I know the place." Simon answered.
"We're about one half mile north-northwest of that location. There's a stream..." Ben listened. Jim's eyes had drifted closed, his breathing slowing as he fell asleep. Blair looked not far behind him. Ben lowered his voice, so as to not disturb them. "We're well set for the night."
"Well, we've a tent, and........Yes, sir.....No, sir.......The snow will make it difficult to get out tonight, we're fine for now." Ben nodded, listening. "Actually, sir, they're both asleep right now... Unless they notice our rental car...Yes, sir...That would be an excellent idea. We can hike out in the morning...yes, sir. We'll call when we head out....Thank you, Sir." With a huge sigh, Ben turned off the phone. He and Ray sat looking at one another.
"Sounds like a tough boss." Ray commented.
Ben smiled. "I think he's just very worried about these two."
"Yeah. They seem like a couple of upright guys."
Moving carefully so as to not disturb the two sleepers, Ben and Ray settled down for the night in the crowded tent.
"No. No! Get away from me! No! Don't!"
Ben and Ray awoke to the screams of a man in night terrors. The injured policeman shifted, reaching for his partner.
"Blair. Blair! It's OK. You're safe. It's OK, Chief. Shh. You're OK. Everything's all right. Shhhhh."
Blair awoke with a start. Fear still in control, sitting up and looking wildly around him, he realized where he was.
"Oh, man. I'm sorry, guys."
Ben and Ray exchanged concerned glances.
"Not a problem." Ray reassured him.
"Are you all right?" Ben added.
"Yeah. Just a dream." Blair shivered, not meeting anyone's eyes.
Jim looked up at him, unable to move well, his injuries causing all his muscles to stiffen. "Blair, it's OK." he said softly. "What was it this time?"
Blair sighed, meeting his partner's concerned gaze. "Lash." he whispered. "Funny. I usually only dream of that when I'm hurt." he grinned, shakily.
Jim reached up and touched his friend's shoulder. "It's OK, Chief. I guess I'll be having a few of 'em myself when this is all over." It hurt so much to breathe that he could only speak in short, gasping spurts.
"Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable, Detective Ellison?" Ben asked.
"It's Jim. Maybe if I could lie on my right side? I can't seem to move too well here."
Three pair of hands reached and gently adjusted his position. Blair tried to find a spot to help support his friend.
"Wait, Chief." Jim wriggled a bit, getting as comfortable as he could. He stretched his right arm out, then patted the spot beside him. "Here, lie with your waist on my arm, then I can use your arm for a pillow."
Blair complied. Then Jim reached across him with his left arm and pressed his head against Blair's chest. Ben folded his jacket for Blair to use as a pillow.
"OK?" Ray asked quietly. Looking at the two men. Blair cradled Jim's head against his chest, realizing his partner wanted the position so as to be able to hear his heartbeat, after all, he'd mentioned it enough.
"Yeah. We're fine. Thanks." Jim was already falling back asleep.
Ben looked at Blair. "If you don't mind my asking, who is Lash?"
Blair shivered, causing Jim to tighten his grip and mumble reassurances. Blair looked at Ben, meeting his eyes, barely able to see him in the dark. "He was a serial killer. He drowned people. I was his last victim...Jim rescued me. I was chained up, couldn't move." His voice trailed off, fighting his demons. "I guess when I stress out over stuff I can't fix...or...control? I have nightmares about it." His left arm cradled Jim's head against his chest, his right hand absently rubbing his shoulder. He glanced at Ray. "It was real close, he'd already drugged me, I was helpless..." he sighed, looking down.
"PTSD." Ray murmured softly.
"Ah." Ben replied, understanding.
Ray couldn't contain his curiosity any longer. "What was that Sentinel stuff you were talking about before?"
Jim shifted slightly, opening his eyes, listening.
Blair looked at Ben. "You grew up with enhanced senses, didn't you?" he asked.
Ben frowned in confusion. "I'm not sure I know what you mean."
Blair smiled. He knew this guy was in control of his senses. Somehow he didn't realize?... "Close your eyes." he said, in full Guide mode. Ben complied. Ray looking on in interest. "Take deep breaths." Ben did so, so did Jim, as much as he was able. Blair briefly tightened his hold on him. "Now, listen...What do you hear?" Ben's brow furrowed in concentration.
"Ahhh....." He frowned, his eyes popped open in surprise. "Heartbeats. I can hear your hearts beating." startled, confused.
Jim smiled contentedly. me, too.
"OK." Blair smiled. "Can you recognize who's is who's?"
Ben closed his eyes again. Listening. His again opened. "Yes, I can." he said, awestruck. He looked at Jim, nestled against Blair's chest. He then shifted his gaze to Blair's eyes. "That's why he wanted to be in that position. To hear your heartbeat." He whispered.
Jim shifted slightly. "I can pick out his heartbeat in a crowded, noisy room. Like this, it's close, and it drowns out most other sounds." He spoke softly. "Let's me relax, feel safe." His voice softened, trailing off. Blair again tightened his grip for a moment.
Ben's surprise caused Blair to grin. "How far can you see? You know, like a license plate. How far away can you make it out?"
Ray stiffened, "I know he can read one from at least two blocks away."
Ben nodded. "About that." he agreed.
Blair restrained his enthusiasm, so as to not jostle his partner. "That is so cool, man. We've been working on Jim's, and he can recognize a person up to a mile away, and can see a handgun up to six blocks away."
"Wait a minute." Ray interjected. "How can anybody do that?"
Blair went into his professorial mode. "They're Sentinels...Kind of throwbacks to pre-civilized peoples, where they were needed to help protect the tribe; find game; predict natural disasters and the like."
"Ah." Ben replied. "I believe the Inuit have a similar group, the translation is, roughly, 'Watcher', or 'Watchman'. There are a number of stories..."
"Oh, no, Benny. No Inuit stories. I'm just not up to it tonight." Ray interrupted.
"Oh. Sorry." Ben replied, downcast.
"No. No." Blair responded. "I know almost nothing of the native peoples of the North. All my studies have focused on equatorial regions. I'd love to hear all about them, compare traditions and such." He noticed Ray's grimace of displeasure and changed tack. "Maybe just the two of us can get together to discuss it sometime while you're here?"
Ben smiled. "Certainly. As time permits, of course."
"Of course." Blair matched Ben's grin. "OK. We've established that you have enhanced senses of sight, hearing," he paused, "taste, and smell." He turned to Ray. "You did say he smells and tastes stuff, didn't you?"
"Oh, yeah. It's disgusting." Ray replied.
"OK. OK. How about touch?"
Ben frowned. "I've no idea. What would you consider enhanced?" Ben asked in confusion.
Blair frowned, how to explain. "Uh, well." Then, "Can you turn your pain receptors down? You know, when you're hurt. Can you make the pain not so bad? Not go away, just not so bad?"
Ray stared at his friend. "Oh, man."
"No. I don't think so."
"Yeah, Benny, you do. Remember when you got shot that one time? How you got up and took on the bad guys? At the Consulate?"
Ben looked blank for a moment. "Oh. Well. That was a matter of necessity, Ray."
"Right!" Blair enthused. With practice, you can control your reactions to, say..........cold." The three men exchanged looks. "Like when you cooled Jim off in the stream." Ben blushed. "You had to have had enhanced senses most of your life, in order to think of them as normal. Well they are normal, for you. Were you left alone a lot as a kid?"
"No kids your age, few toys...like that?" Blair asked softly, empathically, already knowing the answers.
"Yes." barely a whisper "Is that why I'm so different from everyone else?" The voice was barely audible, almost plaintive. Ray reached out to grip his friend's shoulder. Comforting. Accepting "Probably." Blair responded. "Do you have an almost overwhelming need to help people?"
Ray chuckled. "Oh, yeah. He does. I thought it was because he's Canadian, an entire country full of boy scouts."
Ben hung his head, ashamed. "Yes."
Blair looked at Ray, met his eyes in the dark and glared at him give him a hug, you dork, he thought. Ray looked at him blankly for a moment, then looked at his friend, and recognized the dejected slump of Ben's shoulders and head. He shifted position in the cramped space and put his arms around his friend.
"'S OK, Benny." Ben shivered at the unfamiliar, but welcome embrace, leaned into it. Eyes closed. Soaking up the warmth of his friend.
"That's what a Sentinel is. Usually, they have a guide...I'm Jim's guide, but he has a Spirit Guide, too. A panther."
Ben and Ray looked at Dief. The wolf opened one eye, meeting their gazes, then closed his eye with a contented sigh.
"I don't think I want to know any more of this." Ray said quietly, releasing his friend.
Blair noticed Ben's bereft expression. "It's OK, Ray. It's not like he's got a disease, or anything. It's made Jim the best detective on the force, and prevented a number of deaths and injuries."
"Except for you, Chief." Jim mumbled.
"Yeah, well, you've at least kept me alive, so far. It's not your fault I'm a trouble magnet." Blair yawned. "'Scuse me. I guess the past couple of days are catching up with me."
"Yes. Well, perhaps we should all try to get some more sleep." Ben suggested, lying down. Ray followed suit. In the small tent, there was no way to keep from touching one another. Both Ben and Ray were a bit uncomfortable at the close proximity of the others. Only Jim and Blair seemed truly comfortable, lying in one another's arms.
Ray was very uncomfortable. He was thinking that these two men had to be lovers. The very idea made his skin crawl. There was no way he was going to be able to sleep. So he just lay there quietly, staring up into the darkness.
Ben lay staring at the ceiling. He could feel Ray's discomfort. He had really liked the hug. There had been so little physical contact in his life, that most touches made him flinch; but somehow, when Ray would grasp his shoulder, it sent a flow of warmth through his entire body. And the hug...totally unexpected...gratefully accepted. He knew they would never talk about it. It just wasn't done. He wondered about Blair and Jim's relationship. They seemed very close. For a fleeting instant, he wondered if they were lovers? Not enough evidence for that one, he decided.
Blair found himself unable to sleep. He was exhausted. That annoying state where you're so tired that you can't get to sleep. He could hear Jim's steady, shallow breathing, as he held him close. Thinking of how he'd almost lost him. What good is a guide without a Sentinel? How did Ben function without a guide? He seemed so...alone, somehow. Cut off. He'd seen Ben's reaction to his partner's hug. From the looks on both men's faces, it had never happened before. Perhaps Ray could be adapted to be Ben's guide? Not if they couldn't touch. Physical contact had proven a necessity in helping Jim. Maybe, though, since Ben had grown up without a guide and with his abilities, he didn't need a guide. No. Everyone needed some human interaction. He'd have to study Ben more. Maybe...
"Chief?" Jim murmured, barely audible.
Jim sighed, reaching his splinted right hand up to gently stroke Blair's back with his fingers. "Blair, I need you."
Blair's eyes opened. "What's wrong?" he whispered.
Jim hesitated, "I...I need you to hold me tight." The need in Jim's voice startled Blair fully awake. He tried to see Jim's face in the darkness, but couldn't. Jim was...trembling, but not from cold.
"Jim? What's wrong?" Blair asked as he held tighter to the larger man, still careful of his injuries.
"Reaction, I guess, Chief. I...please. Just hold me. I..." The trembling increased.
"Shhhh. It's OK. You're safe now. I've got you. Shhhhh." Blair held Jim's head tightly against his chest and ran his other hand up and down his body, trying to soothe his agitated friend. "It's OK, man. I've got you. Shh." Both Ben and Ray lay stiffly, listening. Afraid of what they might hear. Embarrassed by the intimate exchange between the two men. Blair continued to murmur soft, soothing words as he rubbed his Sentinel's back and arm.
"Ya know, Chief," He mumbled, as his trembling began to subside, "I don't know if I could survive without you, now." Blair froze for a moment, then resumed his comforting gestures.
"Uh, just what do you mean by that, Jim?" he asked, cautiously.
Jim chuckled softly, grimacing with the pain. "Not like that, Chief. You aren't my type."
"I know. You prefer redheads." He teased back, softly.
"Yeah, that too. It's just...I don't know. I'm closer to you than I am to anyone else. Hell, if it were a choice between you and...Steven, I have to admit I'd have to choose you. You're my anchor, Chief. You keep me centered, focused...I don't know. I'm probably not saying this right...but, I need you, Blair. I...just wanted you to know..." His voice trailed off lamely. Blair held him silently for several minutes, still stroking his friend's arm. "Chief?" Uncertain. Had he pushed a wedge between them? "Wow."
"What?" Slight desperation building within him.
"Wow. You'd choose me over your own brother? Wow. That's so...Wow."
"Are you OK with this, Chief?"
"Oh. Yeah. Sure. I...I guess I've never had anybody care that much about me before. I mean...Wow."
"So, you're OK with this, how I feel...?"
"You've never talked about feelings before, Jim. Why now?"
Jim sighed. "I guess it was the idea you had found another Sentinel. Your research. I was afraid..."
"Don't be. I'm in this for the long haul, man. You're more than a research project, now. You did know that, didn't you?" Suddenly worried he'd been misunderstood.
Jim sighed again. "I think so. I just need to hear it once in a while.."
"So...you're not in love with me?" the teasing tone was back.
Jim chuckled again. Once more grimacing in pain. "In love? No. But, I do love you. As a brother, a partner, my best friend...Is that OK?"
"Yeah...Me, too, you know? I mean, not like I have any idea what it's like to have a brother or father, or even a best friend, at least not until I met you, that is...but, yeah...Is that OK with you?"
"Sure is, Chief." Jim murmured contentedly, drifting back to sleep.
Ben, lying perfectly still, was unable to stop the tears. He struggled to control his breathing, not wanting the others to know he had heard. He knew by Ray's heartbeat, that he, too, was awake and had heard the other's conversation. Ben had never envied anyone like he did these two their relationship. What would it be like, to have someone you could trust enough to allow that close; care that much for; share fears and joys with. He had never observed such a relationship, not even married couples, who were this solicitous of one another. His chest ached with the recognition of how truly alone he was.
OK. Not lovers. Almost, but not quite. Closer, maybe. At least emotionally. Kinda like Huey and Louis had been, only...more so. More complementary to each other. Huey and Louis were two of a kind, Jim and Blair were about as opposite as you could get. Kinda like him and Benny...Oh, God. he thought, as the realization hit him. They were like Jim and Blair. Not as close, of course. Benny was such an emotional stiff...Oh. My. Ray glanced over at Ben. He held his breath, listening for Ben's breathing. There it was. Ben was crying.
"Benny?" Ray whispered, turning on his side toward his friend. "You OK?" He heard Ben trying to control himself. "Benny?" he reached out to touch Ben's arm. "Benny?" Ben turned his face away. Ray sat up, reaching out to Ben. "Talk to me, Benny. Please."
"I'm fine, Ray." Was Ben's whispered reply.
"Benny, you ever had anybody just,...I don't know...give you a hug before? 'Cause you needed one?"
Ben lay silent for a minute. "Just you, Ray. Earlier."
Ray closed his eyes at the longing in his friend's whispered words. Damn. Benny was a terrific person. Always helping others. Caring. And no one had ever cared for Ben. How could he be what he was, without having had anyone to care for him? About him? "Benny? We're friends, right? I mean, like...best friends, aren't we?"
"Benny, would you like me to hold you? Just 'til you fall asleep?"
"Are you sure, Ray?"
"Yeah. I'm sure, Benny." Ben turned toward his friend, uncertain, uncomfortable. Ray pulled him into an embrace. "It's OK, Benny. I'll take care of you." he murmured in his friend's ear.
Blair smiled contentedly to himself. That worked well. Hugging Jim one last time as he drifted into sleep. Jim just smiled. Good work, Chief.
The unseasonable snow fell throughout the hours of darkness. By dawn, the entire area was blanketed in more than three feet of snow. Ray poked his head out the door, and pulled it right back in, covered with the stuff. Ben and Dief, the only others awake, both grinned at him.
"We're buried, Fraser!" he whispered in shock.
"Of course, Ray." Ben carefully moved to the tent flap, pulled it in and thrust himself through and up to the surface. Everything was still and white. He widened the hole he'd made in the snow and Ray crawled out beside him.
"Oh, wow. It's beautiful." The sky was a crystal clear blue. Ben took a deep breath of the cold, clean air. Eyes closed, a blissful smile on his face.
"Yes, it is, Ray." Hearing movement inside, Ben ducked back into the tent. Blair was still asleep, Jim held close beside him. Jim's eyes were open, checking the area with his other senses.
"How are you this morning, Detective Ellison?" Ben asked.
Jim carefully stretched, wincing in pain. "Pretty good, considering, Constable. And it's Jim."
Ben smiled. "In that case, it's Ben, or Fraser."
Blair stirred, waking up. He looked up at Ben, puzzled for a moment. As he remembered, he smiled and stretched, careful of Jim's battered body. "How's it look out there?" he asked, yawning.
"White." Ray informed them, ducking back inside, covered with snow, shivering.
Jim, mindful of his injuries, was trying to get up. Blair pulled him back down.
"Blair, I need to take a walk, Chief." Ben smothered a smile at them.
"Oh." Blair blushed.
Ben bent down and pulled a heavy pair of socks and his tennis shoes from his now nearly empty pack. "I'm not sure these will fit, but they should be close to your size. Twelves?""
Jim smiled, gratefully. "Yeah. Thanks."
Ben pulled the thick, warm, socks onto Jim's bare feet and then the tennis shoes. "There's about three feet of snow out there. Soft and wet. I expect it to melt within a couple of days. But we need to get you to a hospital as soon as possible. Your wrist needs a cast, and your ribs need to be taped.
Jim nodded in agreement. With help from the others, he managed to get out of the tent. Ray had made a path to the trees, already. He managed to make it under his own power to the trees. Ray dug through the snow to find his cooking supplies. When he found them, he set about making them all some breakfast.
"Sorry. I didn't bring a coffee pot." He said. "I'll remember for next time."
"Food is more important than coffee, Ray." Fraser said, "What are you making?"
"Instant oatmeal. It's hot. Good for you..." He grinned up at the others. "It's easy." He finished, with a shrug.
Jim managed to get back under his own power. But he was panting, unable to breathe deeply enough to meet his exertions. He needed assistance getting back into the tent, where he again lay down, too weak to do anything else. "Not good." he gasped, perspiration beading his face.
Blair sat down with him, pulling him into his lap. "We'll think of something, Jim. Don't worry." He lifted his worried countenance to the others. Looking to them for ideas.
When they had eaten, Jim no longer in distress, they discussed methods of transport. Jim was obviously not going to be able to walk out. The snow was too deep, and the only reason he had made it in this far was adrenaline.
"Call your captain." Ray suggested, handing his cell phone to Blair. "I'll bet he's got a solution."
He did. A nice simple solution. Ben and Dief hiked out to the road. The Captain and his people met him at the rental car, with snow mobiles.
"Yeah." He looked curiously at the stranger and his dog. "You Fraser, or Vecchio?"
"Constable Fraser, sir." He offered his hand. The captain took it.
"How's Jim holding up?"
"He's weak, sir. He's alert, but has very little strength, left." He moved to assist the unloading of the snowmobiles, Captain Banks beside him.
"How's Sandburg taking it?"
"Quite well, considering, sir. They both are in quite good spirits. Joking, teasing. I assume that that is normal, sir?"
"Yeah. It is." Pleased.
The captain and two of his men, along with Fraser started up their snowmobiles and headed back through the woods following Fraser's tracks, leaving one man to watch the vehicles.
The trip that had taken Fraser the better part of an hour took mere minutes with the snowmobiles. When they arrived at the campsite, Blair was outside the tent to meet them.
"Hey, Simon, Ryf, Brown. Good to see you guys." If he smiled any wider, the top of his head would have fallen off.
"How's Jim doing?" Simon asked, looking around at the camp. Impressed, in spite of himself. Knowing that the camping equipment came with the guys from Chicago.
"He's asleep, again." At Simon's concerned glare, Blair continued. "He needs to get to a hospital. He's got broken ribs, a broken wrist, and I'm afraid he might have some internal injuries. He's real weak, but he is coherent. Just tires easily." Simon nodded.
Ray came out of the tent. "He's awake. Heard you coming. If you guys'll help get him loaded up, I'll pack up camp. Benny, you want to give me a hand here? Oh, yeah. I'm Ray Vecchio, Chicago PD." He offered his hand to the Captain.
"Simon Banks. Nice to meet you. I just wish it were under better circumstances." Ray nodded in agreement. Ryf and Brown, following Blair's instructions, were helping Jim out of the tent and over to the snowmobiles. Ray and Fraser quickly gathered up their gear and repacked it and the tent. In a very short time, they were ready to leave.
They put Jim on the snowmobile behind Ben, Blair rode behind Simon, and Ray rode behind Ryf. They took their time getting back to the road, not wanting to jar the injured Jim any more than absolutely necessary. By the time they got back to the road, an ambulance had arrived to take Jim to the hospital. Blair insisted that he be allowed to ride in with his friend. When the ambulance had left, Ben and Ray helped to reload the snowmobiles on the trailer. Then Fraser remembered, "Oh. I nearly forgot. There is a grave...over there." He indicated the spot. "We found the grave when we found Jim's tracks. We can only guess that the occupant was one of the kidnappers."
Simon signaled Brown. "Get a team out here and dig it up. Let me know what you find out."
"Yes, sir. Do you want me to stay and wait for the team, or should I go back?" Simon considered the transportation alternatives. Before he could decide, Ben offered a suggestion.
"If you would like, we could leave our car here for Detective Brown, while you give us a ride into town." Ray gave Ben one of his patented long-suffering looks, then thought about it, "Yeah. That would work. Drop us off at our hotel, I could really use a hot shower and some more sleep. If you know what I mean." He smiled.
Decision made, those heading back into the city piled into the departmental vehicle and left Detective Brown to wait for the arrival of the forensics team.
The man who had been left with the support vehicles was driving. Simon glanced over at the two visitors. "Thanks for taking care of my guys."
"No problem." Ray replied. "We just happened to be in the right place at the right time." He glanced at his partner. "One good thing. You got your man back. Alive. He can testify against them, once you catch them. Providing he can give you a good enough description."
Simon laughed at that. "I'm sure that won't be a problem. Jim can give the best descriptions of suspects I've ever heard."
Ben and Ray exchanged looks. "Right down to the smell." Ray said softly. Ben blushed at the comment. Simon stiffened.
"Nothing." Ben spoke up, glaring at his friend, warningly. Not knowing if the captain was aware of Jim's abilities and not wanting to give away any secrets.
Simon decided he had heard wrong. He hoped he had heard wrong. "Would you mind stopping by the station before going to your hotel? I'd rather not drag this trailer around any longer than we have to."
The big man who was driving chuckled. "I don't know what you're complaining about. I'm the one driving." He caught the eyes of Ben and Ray in the rear view mirror and smiled "Joel Taggart. Bomb Squad. Thanks for taking care of Jim and Blair. They're good men." Simon and Ryf nodded in agreement.
Ray was puzzled. He'd never seen a friendlier, closer group of cops in his life. Not at all like his own district, where dislike, jealousy and competition was the norm. This seemed like a mutual admiration society. He envied them.
Ben was impressed. There appeared to be no competition or discord amongst these men. Considering that Blair was really only an observer, he was remarkably well liked and accepted. Curious.
Ray decided to go ahead and ask. "You guys all seem to get along real well. Isn't that a little unusual?"
Joel chuckled. "Not for us. If you're too much of a pain in our group, you tend to ask for a transfer. Out of town. Most of us are friends, as well as coworkers." He smiled over at Simon. "Of course, when it comes to Jim and Blair, they're kinda special anyway. On top of that, you know how cops get when one of their own gets taken down."
Ben and Ray nodded in agreement. "Yeah. Nothing tends to piss us off more than that." Ray replied. Fraser blushed, remembering the reason for his exile, head down, eyes downcast. Joel noticed. Wondered.
"What's Wilson been saying?" Ray asked, not noticing his friend's discomfort.
"He's been quiet, kind of smug. Like he has everything under control." Simon informed them. "I think he's in for a big surprise."
Ray chuckled, "I'll be glad when we finally have him under lock and key back in Chicago." He looked pointedly at Simon, "You do know that yours is the first guy they've nabbed that came back alive, don't you?"
"I read all the reports. With Jim back, we have a good chance to take down his organization. You get him on your murder, we get his gang on kidnapping, mayhem, assault with intent. I'm sure we can come up with a few more charges, once Jim's back up to speed." Taggart and Ryf nodded in grim agreement.
Joel pulled into the station yard, turning and backing the trailer into its spot. Ryf jumped out to disconnect the trailer, waved Joel off, then lowered the tongue back to its normal position. He waved to them and walked toward the yard office to fill out the paperwork. Joel then drove to the station, parking in the garage.
"Do you want to go see Wilson?" Simon asked as they disembarked from the SUV.
"Nah. I don't want him to try anything else. His guys think your guy is dead in the woods somewhere. I'd like to keep it that way." His smile was just a little feral. "I want to see the look on his face when Jim tells him goodbye." He paused, "We are gonna stick around until you catch the gang and tie up all the loose ends, aren't we?" Suddenly unsure. He'd feel a lot safer if all the bad guys were accounted for before they took Wilson back.
Simon was grateful for the offer. "You don't mind? Usually guys doing extradition want to get back ASAP. Get it over with and back to their normal lives, I guess."
"I just need to clear it with my Lieutenant. I'm sure there won't be a problem. I'd just as soon know his guys are not going to be able to try anything else, if you know what I mean."
"I'm sure we can work it out. Would you like to come up and fill out the reports on last night?" Hint, hint.
Ray grimaced. Ben grinned. "I guess we should." Ray agreed, looking askance at his partner.
"If you have a computer or typewriter, I'm sure we can get our statements to you in an hour or so." Ben added, knowing full well that he meant that he could get it done for both of them.
The ride up in the elevator to the seventh floor was quiet. Ray was impressed. "Wow. Windows." He remarked in awe.
Simon and Joel looked around, then looked at Ray, questioningly.
"Our squad room doesn't have any windows, except for the lieutenant's office. And that one opens onto a brick wall. You guys have scenery." Impressed, in spite of himself. The entire bullpen looked so much...lighter, airier, than the dark hole he worked in.
Simon set them up at Jim's desk, Ben took one look at the computer, sat down, turned it on and started with finding the reports menu. Simon was impressed with his typing speed. Even faster than Sandburg. Simon made coffee and offered it to the two visitors, who accepted it gratefully. Ben was even better than his word, he finished the reports, printed them, signed his own and had Ray sign his, then brought them to Simon for approval. There was nearly twenty minutes left of the estimated hour he had said he would require to fill out the forms.
"If you ever need a new job, let me know. I'll hire you just to teach my guys how to write a report." He smiled at the mountie, "You write even better than Sandburg. More concise and not as flowery." He stood, dropping the reports on his desk. "You guys ready to go to your hotel?"
It was mid-afternoon when Ben and Ray emerged from their rooms. The hot showers and naps had done wonders for them. They had a late lunch at a local restaurant, then, having picked up the keys to their rental car from the desk clerk, along with a thank you note from Detective Brown for the use thereof, they got directions to the hospital and drove over to see how Jim was doing.
They were surprised at how well known Jim and Blair were at the hospital. "Oh, yes. Detective Ellison is in Room 346. Mr. Sandburg is with him." The lovely nurse was giving the strangers an appreciative ocular examination. Nice. Very nice. Maybe later....
They quietly opened the door. Blair sat beside the bed, hands holding Jim's right hand, now in a cast, in both of his, his head on his arms. Sound asleep. Jim, however, was awake. His bruised face breaking into a grin on seeing his visitors.
"Hi, guys." He spoke softly, so as to not disturb his sleeping Guide.
"How are you doing?" Ben asked.
"OK. They'll let me out tomorrow, probably. Once they're sure my kidneys are no worse than bruised. Otherwise, I'd be able to go home this evening. I need to thank you for helping us. Most people wouldn't have stopped. I'd be dead now, if you hadn't..."
"That's all right. We were glad to help." Ray broke in, a little embarrassed by the gratitude. "I gotta tell you, though. If Dief hadn't grabbed me, I probably wouldn't have stopped. I guess you Sentinels and Guides stick together. No matter what species you are."
Jim smiled. "I wouldn't know." He looked at Ben. "You're the only other full Sentinel I've ever heard of. I've met a few of Blair's other subjects, some with one or two enhanced senses. He still occasionally talks about how long he had been looking for one when he found me. Sometimes, I think he never really expected to find one, let alone two." He smiled fondly down at his friend. "Sometimes, I wish he hadn't found me." He looked up, "Not for me. If not for him, I'd be in a padded cell somewhere, or dead. But every time we're here, him in the bed, me in the chair, I wonder if it's worth it for him. Still can't figure out why he sticks around. But I'm grateful that he does."
Blair sat up, eyes blinking sleepily. "I've told you. It's about friendship." He released Jim's hand, moving his arms over his head to stretch and yawn. "How do you manage to sit in these chairs for so long, days at a time? I've only been here a few hours and I want a new back, man." He smiled, though. Happy to still have a friend to sit with. He turned to the others. "Hi, guys. Been here long?"
"Nah. Just got here. You OK?" Obviously, the kid hadn't gone home yet. He looked exhausted, but content.
"I'm fine." Turning his brilliant smile on his partner. "Jim's going to be fine. All we have to do now, is find the bad guys and put them in jail and everything will be great." He smiled confidently at them all.
The door opened behind the visitors, the opening filled with the other members of Major Crimes. All come to pay their respects. Ray still couldn't get over it. Nothing like this happened at home. Not in his experience, anyway. Any time he'd been hurt the only visitors had been his family, and Fraser, of course. Once in a while, the lieutenant. But never ever any of the guys he worked with. Again, he had that flash of envy. What would it be like to have friends who were also your coworkers? Hard to imagine. Of course, the captain had to turn it into business. But even that didn't stop the friendly banter.
"So. I need a description of the men who grabbed you, Jim. We found the dead one in the grave Ben and Ray found." He looked pointedly at Blair, "We'll talk about that later." When the kid isn't around. His eyes added. Jim nodded.
"Sure. There are six men still at large. One has a bad knee, another has a broken arm." He grinned. "The one with the bad knee will have a boot shaped bruise just on the outside of his knee, the right one. He may have had to see a doctor for it. The one with the broken arm definitely had to see a doctor. It was a compound fracture of the left forearm." His chin came up, jaws tense. Daring anyone to doubt his ability to take out two of six attackers.
"OK. We can check the hospitals for them. How about physical descriptions? I'll see about getting an artist over to draw them up, but in the meantime, if you could give us a rough idea of who we're looking for?"
Jim thought. Going back through his memory for information. "I have a couple of names, Karl, and...Bill. Karl is blonde...." He launched into a verbal description of his kidnappers.
Unobserved in a corner, Ben was leaning against the wall with a sketch pad and pencil. Busily sketching, trying to match the verbal with the visual.
"That's all." Jim finished. Weary. In pain.
Ben stepped over to the bed, threading his way between the much larger men from Cascade.
"Excuse me. Did I get at all close on your descriptions?" Showing his sketches to the astonished Jim, who looked through the drawings.
"Real close. He chose one, "The nose is a little wider through the bridge, like it's been broken before." Ben made the correction. They went through all the drawings, making corrections, adding minor details that had been left out of the verbal description. Finally: "That's them. This one, and...this one, are the injured ones. Knee," handing the corresponding picture to Simon, "and arm." Handing that drawing over as well. "The other four are probably sporting a few bruises, but nothing major." He'd put up a gallant fight, even bound, and wasn't ashamed of his showing. Simon nodded, turned and handed the drawings to his men.
"Make copies. I want these guys. Tonight, if possible." The rest of his men promptly left, examining the drawings, commenting on how good they were. Simon looked at Ben, "Thank you. You've saved us a lot of time. I wouldn't have been able to get an artist here before tomorrow afternoon, at the earliest. If you ever need a job..."
"Thank you kindly. I'm quite...well, content, with my work at the moment. However, if I ever do decide to change countries on a permanent basis, I'll let you know." Smiling. Happy to be appreciated, for a change. Glad he could help.
Simon turned to Blair, who was still sitting and holding Jim's hand. Whether to comfort the injured man or himself wasn't clear.
"Blair?" The grad student looked up, his weariness apparent in the dark circles under his eyes.
"No, thanks. I'm fine right here." Stubborn.
"I need to talk to Jim. Alone. Now." In charge. No arguments, kid. Don't make me force you.
Blair could read the unspoken words in the body language and the tilt of Simon's head, chin jutting just a little. No way to win this one.
"How about I go for a walk and come back in a few minutes?" Stubbornness exuding from every filament of his being.
"Go home, Chief. Take a shower. Get some sleep. Come back tomorrow." Jim told him. Smiling fondly at his friend. "Maybe Ben and Ray could run you home?" Knowing neither of them had a vehicle available at the moment. He knew what Simon wanted to talk about, and he didn't want Blair there to have to hear what he had to say.
"Sure. We can take you home." Ray volunteered, reading correctly the unspoken conversation. Understanding that they were going to discuss the dead guy.
"Perhaps, we could even take you to dinner?" Fraser added. They may have had a late lunch, but it was nearly time for dinner, and he was hungry again.
"Yeah. Sounds like a plan. Whaddya say, Blair? I'll even put up with Fraser's Inuit stories..." Slyly.
Blair perked up at that. "And answer questions?" Standing. Starting to get excited.
The pair from Chicago exchanged knowing smiles. "Yes. I'll answer your questions. To the best of my ability." He added, unsure whether he would be able to satisfy with his answers.
"OK. I'll be back tomorrow morning. Is that OK with you, Jim?"
"Yes. I'm fine." Forestalling any change of heart. "Just go, OK? I'll be just fine." He made a shooing motion with his unencumbered left hand. Wincing at the pull on the muscles covering his broken ribs. Blair nearly stopped, saw the glare Simon was giving him, changed his mind and turned to follow his new test subjects from the room, casting a final glance back with a wave of goodbye.
"I thought he'd never leave." Simon chuckled. Sitting in the chair just vacated by the peripatetic young man. "Now. Tell me what happened. The unexpurgated version, if you please. I have a dead man to explain." He paused, "A most unusual cause of death." He looked seriously at his friend and subordinate. Hoping for an explanation that would be easy to cover the circumstances. Jim complied. Told him everything, from his capture, to the events that had led up to his escape.
"And that's the whole story, sir. From the time I went to ground until I woke up in the tent, I have no idea what happened. You'll have to talk to Blair and the others for that. I'm sure they remember last night and this morning better than I do, as well. I've got to admit, I was pretty much out of it." Although he clearly remembered his heart-to-heart with Blair. He smiled, softly, remembering.
Simon nodded. "Good. He died while committing a felony. Works for me." He looked at Jim, "Are you OK with this? What happened? Do you want to talk about it, with anyone?" Like the department shrink? "I'm fine, Simon. It's funny. If he hadn't used that cattle prod that last time, he'd still be alive, and I'd probably be dead." He raised sad blue eyes to meet the warm, concerned brown eyes of his friend and superior. "Just don't tell Sandburg. This is something he doesn't need to handle." Still trying to protect his young friend.
"I understand. No. This isn't anything that he needs to know about. Of course, if you start having nightmares, you might end up having to tell him. At least some of it. As far as the rest goes, he won't have to testify, or anything. If we're lucky, they'll plead guilty and save us all some time and effort."
"Yeah. Sure." Jim grimaced. "We're never that lucky."
Simon sighed. "I know. But we keep on hoping." He stood, locking concerned eyes on his friend and best detective. "You take care. If you need anything, you call me. You hear?"
"Yes, sir." with a warm smile.
"I have a guard on your door, just in case they figure out you're still alive." He turned to go. "Go to sleep, now. I can see even without your enhanced vision just how tired you are. I'll be back in the morning with Blair." He shook his head. "I can't believe I just volunteered to bring the kid in for you." He cast a rueful glance back at his smirking friend. "Forget it. I'm pretty tired, myself." He turned in the doorway, one last time. "None of us have gotten much sleep over the last three days. We're all glad you're back, safe." He nodded his confirmation, and left.
"Good night Simon." He called to the closing door. Relaxed back into the pillows and closed his eyes to sleep.
"OK. We've established that you have all five senses enhanced, How do you keep from zoning out?"
"I honestly don't know. For me, my senses have always been this way. I always thought it was due to growing up pretty much in the wilderness. Even though Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik are quite large towns, I was home schooled, and we were frequently the only family within miles. When I learned to hunt with the Inuit, I...." Suddenly, his brow furrowed with a memory. "Oh. Dear." He looked at Blair. "They knew. They knew, and they never told me." Lost, confused. Remembering his hunting lessons. How he had been prodded into listening for game, smelling the tracks, tasting... "They knew. Innussiq knew. He never said anything. They never told me that there was anything unusual about my senses. Yet, they knew." His countenance doleful, "Why wouldn't they tell me?"
"I don't know. It may be that they hadn't seen a Sentinel before. Maybe they were afraid. I just don't know." He reached out a hand to touch Ben's arm, comforting. Ben flinched away from the touch.
"What are you afraid of, Ben? I'm not going to hurt you." Reaching out again to touch the older man.
He allowed the touch. It was...strange. He wasn't sure what it was. Actually, there was nothing in the touch itself to cause him any problems, just that it was so unfamiliar. He dragged his eyes up to meet Blair's, Crystal clear grey-blue eyes meeting teal eyes. Ben had never seen eyes quite the colour of Blair's, and the expression, compassion, concern. For him. Why? "I'm not afraid. I just..."
Ray was watching the two men from Jim's chair. Ben and Blair sat side by side on the couch. Benny was obviously in distress. Blair was so much a touchy-feely kind of person, that it even made him nervous. What it must be doing to the emotionally stiff Fraser...shit.
"He just doesn't touch people as much as you do." Fraser cast him a look of gratitude.
"OK. Without anyone to help, how do you keep from zoning out?"
Ben thought hard. "Perhaps...It's because I never focus on only one sense? Due to the nature of my upbringing, I learned at an early age to always keep an eye out on what was going on around me, even if I was concentrating on something else. It was a matter of survival in the wilderness." Hoping this explanation was sufficient.
"Cool. You mean if you were, say, sniffing something, you'd be looking around at the same time, maybe trying to find what you smelled, right?"
"Great. Now, tell me about the Watchers." Pen and notebook poised, ready to write down every word.
Over the next two hours, Ben regaled them with the tales he knew of the watchers. Blair scribbling notes as fast as he could. Even Ray found the stories interesting. Finally: "Oh, wow. It's almost midnight. I'm sorry, guys. I can't believe I kept you here so long. You've gotta be wanting to get back to your hotel and get some sleep." He looked hopefully at Ben, "Would you be willing to answer some more questions, tomorrow? It would really help with my thesis. Please?"
Ben was embarrassed by all the attention. "Ah." He looked at the smirking Ray. "I suppose so. I'm not really sure what help I might be, but, all right."
"Cool. How about you guys come over here for dinner tomorrow night? That way, Jim'll be home, and I can have you both together to answer my questions, compare notes, as it were." Starting to bounce in his excitement. Two Sentinels. Ohboyohboyohboy.
Ben and Ray exchanged looks. Ray shrugged. "Sure, why not?" He might just learn a thing or two, as well.
Ben was a little uncertain. "Ah...I'd hate to leave Dief that long. You know how moody he gets when he thinks he's being ignored."
"Bring him." Blair insisted.
That decided, Ben and Ray bid goodnight to Blair and returned to their hotel.
Blair suddenly remembered something. He called the station. The desk sergeant answered the phone. "Uh, Hi. This is Blair Sandburg." Fortunately, the sergeant knew him, and didn't dislike him. "I need to know where my car is." The sergeant looked it up. His car was right downstairs in the parking garage. "Cool. Look. I forgot. There's a note in the car, by my cell phone?.......Oh. Yeah, sure. Of course it's locked. Never mind. It'll wait until tomorrow. Thanks anyway." He hung up. The license number of the van would just have to wait a few more hours.
It was midmorning when Blair finally woke up. Upon seeing the time, he jumped up and called Simon in his office.
"Hi, Simon. I remembered something last night. If I could get a ride to the station, I have the license plate number for the van that Jim was in."
"I'll be right there." Simon said.
"Oh, OK. I'll be ready in about fifteen, OK?"
"Fine. See you in twenty."
Between the sketches that had gone out the night before, and the license plate Blair had written down, every cop in the vicinity was on the lookout for the bad guys. It would only be a matter of time before they were spotted. Of course, the bad guys had no way of knowing that.
Blair went straight to the hospital to pick up Jim, after he had given Simon the plate number. Jim was undergoing some tests when he arrived, so Blair just waited in Jim's room, for his return.
When Jim got back, Blair helped him back into bed, seeing that the burly male nurse wasn't being gentle enough with his Sentinel. When he was as comfortable as he was going to get in the hospital bed, Jim spoke: "Thanks, Chief. I was about ready to punch that guy."
Blair noticed the subtle signs of pain from his friend, the extra shallow breathing that indicated extreme discomfort.
"Yeah. Just looking forward to home and my own bed." He gave Blair a tired smile. "How about you?"
"I'm OK. I remembered that I had written down the license number of the van. I gave it to Simon, this morning." He smiled. "I just hope they find those guys soon." A little worried about his and his friend's safety.
"Me, too, Chief. Me, too." He allowed his eyes to close and his mind drift off into sleep.
Blair sat with his friend. Waiting patiently until they could go home.
It was nearly four p.m. before Jim was released. He didn't even make one single comment on Blair's driving, on the way home. Once inside their sanctuary, Jim headed for the couch and the remote control.
"Jim, shouldn't you go to bed?" Blair asked in fond exasperation.
"No. I should ensconce myself on this couch, with the remote control, and, if you're kind, a soft drink, and channel surf until dinner."
Blair laughed. "OK, OK. I get the picture. Jim's sick. Jim needs to be pampered. Blair will comply." Still chuckling, he fetched the requested soft drink from the refrigerator. As he handed it to his friend, "Oh, by the way, we're having company over for dinner." Jim looked up, curious. "Ben and Ray. I thought we could compare notes. You know, thesis stuff?" Please don't be mad, please....
"No problem, Chief. What are you going to make?"
"I thought I'd keep it simple. Lasagna OK with you?"
"Oh, yeah. Any time, Chief. You know I like your lasagna." Taking a sip of his soda.
"OK. I'm going to go to the store for a few things, then I'll be back and start cooking. You going to be OK here?" Checking his wallet for money and picking up his keys.
"Sure, Chief. I'll be fine. After all, there's a black and white downstairs, keeping an eye on us."
"There is?" Surprised.
"Yeah. Simon insisted on it. Just in case they figure out that I'm not dead."
"Oh." Deep breath. I can handle this. I can. "In that case, I'll be back as soon as possible. I'll make extra for the uniforms. Least we can do is feed them." He headed out for the store.
By the time he returned, Jim was sound asleep on the couch, remote dangling from relaxed fingers.
Blair was as quiet as he could be as he began dinner preparations. It wasn't until he actually was placing the two pans of lasagna in the oven that Jim awoke.
"Smells good, Chief." He stretched carefully, mindful of his bruised and battered body and broken ribs. "What time are they supposed to be here?"
"Not until about seven. It's only six, now, so there's plenty of time. You need anything?"
"Yeah. A shower. Can you help me with the ribs?"
"Uh huh. I've got one of those cast protectors for your arm, too. Make it easier to keep it dry. No more tape to rip off your arm hair." He grinned.
When Jim came out of the shower, Blair finally got a good look at the damage he had suffered. He had no idea what could have caused the burns, and was almost afraid to ask. His face, as usual, showed everything he was feeling.
"I'm all right, Blair. Except for the broken bones, it's all superficial. Don't worry about it." Blair nodded. Both knowing that he would worry anyway.
Blair re-taped Jim's ribs, having had enough experience to quickly and efficiently do the job. Then he removed the cast bag.
Jim went upstairs to dress. Returning shortly dressed in sweats and a loose fitting zippered sweat shirt.
He was just about to settle back on the couch, when he heard their guests arrive. Surprised that they had taken the stairs. He went over to the door and opened it just as Ray was about to knock.
"Shit. Don't scare a guy like that, will ya?" Ray gasped, jumping back in shock. Ben just stood there with a slight smile.
"Sorry. Come on in. Make yourselves at home. Can I get you a beer or something?" Jim offered, "Beer's good." Ray replied. Fraser concurred.
"Hi, guys. Dinner will be ready in about fifteen minutes." Blair came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on a towel.
The meal was a success. The conversation casual, comparing notes on modus operandi between the two police forces. Telling war stories, the funny ones, the embarrassing ones. Afterward, they settled in the living room, and Blair brought out his pen and notebooks.
"OK. Let's get started..." For the next several hours, Blair asked questions, scribbled down answers, compared Jim's experiences with Ben's. Made suggestions to Ben to enhance his abilities. Brought Ray in as surrogate guide for his friend. Explaining how Jim used his senses in his work. How Jim was a walking, talking, living, breathing, thinking crime lab. And how Ben could use his abilities to assist Ray, or anywhere else he might be, explaining scenarios, getting Jim to explain what he did, how he did it, and how it felt. Jim and Ben got along wonderfully. For the first time ever, each man had someone to talk to who knew exactly how he felt. There was a great deal of laughter and merriment, as well, over some of their experiences.
Jim stifled a yawn. His pain dial was wearing thin. If he didn't get some down time soon, he might have a problem. Blair, in tune, as always with the needs of his Sentinel, looked at the clock.
"Oh, man. I did it again. It's almost two a.m. I'm sorry, guys. We're all supposed to be in the office at eight. Simon's gonna be really pissed."
"Don't worry about it, Chief. If Simon knew what kept us up so late, he'd have wanted to be here." Jim replied.
"Your captain knows?" Ben asked, surprised.
"Sure. He'd kinda have to, you know? Otherwise, it would be too hard to explain how Jim does some of the things he does. With Simon knowing, Jim just has to say 'trust me on this' and Simon backs him up. It's really great. He doesn't understand how or why it works. Only that it does. I don't think we could function without him. He keeps us both on track, and he's been really great about it all. Especially getting me my observer credentials. I sometimes think he's even started to accept me as one of the guys."
"Don't push your luck, Chief. You're still just a civilian."
"Yeah. But he yells at me just like he does you guys." Blair grinned, teasingly. Then he sobered. "He was great when you were missing, man. He let me hang around, even though nothing was happening." There was the gleam of a tear in Blair's eyes, "He was terrific."
"Tell him that, some time, Chief. I'm sure he'd like to hear it." Then he reached out to gently cuff the younger man on the jaw. "Just don't decide to do it when he's mad at you." They laughed.
They didn't arrive at the station until nearly ten the next morning. Jim had called and left a message before they had gone to bed, telling him that he would explain in private.
At least they look rested, Simon thought to himself. Jim still looked like nine miles of bad road; moved like it, too. But his eyes and facial expressions were peaceful. He was obviously getting back to normal. Whatever that could be. Sandburg was talking a mile a minute, as usual, hands windmilling to punctuate his words. He shook his head in awe. Wonder if there's some way to bottle whatever it is that keeps him going? Would it be legal? He chuckled to himself at the thought. The two from Chicago arrived, coming up behind his best team. The four of them laughing and joking. Surprising, Ellison wasn't usually this friendly with strangers. Curious. He stepped into his office doorway, waiting patiently to be noticed. "Any time, gentlemen." He whispered. Odd, both Jim and the mountie glanced his way simultaneously, with exactly the same expression on their faces. He gave no indication that he noticed anything strange. Jim smiled at him. Then started herding the others in his direction.
For comfort, Jim was in sweats, after all, he was on injury leave. Even with the anti-inflamatories, he was extremely stiff and sore. There had been some pretty severe muscle damage, but nothing permanent, fortunately. What he really needed was to be at home, in bed. But everyone knew that that would not happen. Not while he could still force himself upright and there were bad guys to catch, anyway.
Simon gave Jim a questioning glance, darted his eyes at Ben and back to Jim. Jim just grinned, pleased that Simon had noticed. He eased himself down in a chair.
"What's the word, Simon?"
"Wilson's been trying to make phone calls. He's being held incommunicado, however. He is not a happy camper." He trimmed a cigar and lit up. "Now, how do you want to handle this?"
The five men all exchanged looks, trying to decide what to do. Suddenly, both Ben and Jim stiffened in their chairs. An angry flush on Jim's face.
"What is it, Jim?" Simon asked, concerned.
"You ever wonder how Wilson was getting information passed back and forth between him and his people?" Eyes blue lasers, looking at his captain.
"What do you mean?" Simon asked
Ben answered. "An officer," he looked at Jim for confirmation, "Jacobs?" Jim nodded. "Is using a telephone, calling..."
"SHIT!" Simon was out the door. The others trailed out behind him.
He was just in time. He managed to hang up the phone before they answered at the other end. "Want to tell me where they are, Jacobs?" Brown, Ryf, and Captain Taggart, who had just entered, surrounded the uniformed officer.
"What are you talking about?" Jacobs broke out into a cold sweat. How could they know? He'd been talking to himself, sure. Repeating his instructions to himself. There was no way they could know..."
"Tell them that I'm set to go out by plane tomorrow at six p.m." Ben quoted him. Jacobs paled. Ben smiled. "The number you dialed, was," he closed his eyes, remembering the tones. He picked up the phone, pushed several buttons. Looked at the number pad, closed his eyes again, pretended to push the buttons, then did, watching his fingers. "555-0894. That is the number you dialed, was it not?"
There was no escape. He was surrounded by men a great deal larger than himself. "You...you couldn't possibly have heard the number I was dialing. It's not humanly possible."
Ben quirked up an eyebrow. "I'm afraid not. I have excellent hearing." He smiled. "In fact, I have been known to be able to hear furry nightcrawlers at twenty paces." Glancing at Ray, who groaned.
"I'd forgotten about that. You're right. I can testify to it. I was there." He smirked at the others. "He's got ears like a bat."
Simon cast a concerned look at Jim and Blair, who were both grinning like the Cheshire Cat. "I'll take your word for it. Somebody get a backward trace on that number. I want to be ready to go in thirty minutes." He turned back to Jacobs. "You." Holding in the anger, "You are going to sit quietly."
Joel pulled out his handcuffs and applied them to the uniformed man, relieving him of his weapon in the process. Ryf searched him, finding an ankle gun and two knives, one in his sock, the other secreted in his belt buckle. They pushed him down in a chair. Joel looked long and hard at the man.
"I'll stay here and watch him, Simon. There are a few things I'd like to say to Mr. Jacobs." He looked at the group, his stony glare giving them a hint of the kind of things he had to say. Simon nodded.
"Thanks, Joel. We'll keep you informed." He turned to his crew. "Jim, Blair, sorry, guys, you're going to have to wait here, this time." At Jim's start of protest, "No arguments, Jim. You are in no condition to go on this one." He placed a consoling hand on the agitated man's shoulder. "You know it as well as I do. You stay here and help Joel. Keep him in line, OK?" Jim sighed in capitulation.
"All right, sir. I guess even if I were a hundred percent, I'd still have to sit this one out, since I'm going to have to ID these guys later." He lifted his gaze to his taller superior, and with just a touch of wry humour in his blue eyes, "Why don't you let Ben and Ray, here go along with you on this? I'm sure they can at least provide some good back up. Ben is quite remarkable, really." Blair giggled.
Simon looked from Jim to Blair and back again. What was he trying to tell him? 'ears like a bat' His eyes widened in shocked comprehension. Ben. Was. A. Sentinel. Like. Jim. He looked at the smirking Blair, who nodded affirmation, bouncing in shear exuberance.
"I'm sure they'd be a big help, Simon." Blair added. Bouncing a little faster. Simon looked askance at Ben.
"I would be happy to assist in any I can, Captain, sir." Ray looked at his friend.
"You got a gun, Benny?"
"Ah, no. I'm not licensed to carry a firearm in this country, Ray. You know that."
"Part of the stuff I gave you before we left home included a concealed weapons permit, Benny." He looked at the captain, "You got a gun he can use? I wouldn't want to go up against these guys without one, you know what I mean?" Simon nodded.
Jim walked over to his desk, pulling open the drawer. "Do you prefer a pistol or a revolver, Ben?" Pulling his revolver from the desk, and his pistol from the waistband of his pants. Laying both guns on the top of his desk for Ben to choose.
Ben looked at both weapons, the four inch .38 S&W, or the .357 Colt Python? Which one? He hefted both weapons, deciding on the heavier Python. Looking up at Jim, "Thank you. I'll take good care of it." He attached the clip holster to his belt, then holstered the weapon.
"OK. You're both deputized, gentlemen." Simon informed them. Just then Ryf came back in with the information on the location of the phone Jacobs had been trying to call.
"I can't believe he came in here to call those guys." Blair muttered.
Simon looked at him, "If you want to hide something, the best place is often in plain sight. Of course, there usually isn't a mountie with ears like a bat around here." He smiled at Ben, who blushed. He looked around the bullpen. "Gentlemen? If you're ready? Let's get this show on the road." He turned back to those staying behind, "I'll keep you posted." Then they left.
Joel kept asking Jacobs "Why?" The usual answer. Money. "It won't do you any good now, will it?" Disgusted.
Nearly two hours passed before they heard anything. When the phone rang, Blair was the first one on it.
"Major Crimes." He listened. His face showing the horror he felt. He looked at Jim and Joel "Simon's been shot." He whispered.
They had all gotten into position without alerting the occupants of the house. Simon had kept the visitors with him. Ben had used his hearing, he was admittedly not as acute as Jim, to locate the men in the house. He could only find five of the men, but they were all together in one room. It turned out they were playing cards, waiting for the phone to ring with more instructions. They had stormed the house. Simon had remained outside, watching one of the escape routes. He never saw the gunman in the attic. Ben and Ray had remained with him. They had been talking, quietly. Ben heard a click and was turning to check it out. He saw a flash of colour, up high. The attic. He yelled "NO!" and sprang to try to push Simon out of the way. He was only partially successful. Instead of the bullet piercing his heart, it had missed by a few precious inches, going through his shoulder, instead. Ray had opened fire on the shooter, but Ben had drawn Jim's gun as he pushed Simon down, went into a forward roll over Simon, coming up to his feet, gun aimed at the man in the window. He never hesitated. He fired three shots. Any one of which would have killed the man. As the man fell from the attic window, Ben turned to apply first aid to Simon. Pulling out a pristine, starched and ironed handkerchief from his pocket, he applied pressure to the wound, trying to stop the bleeding.
"Oh, hell." Simon moaned, grimacing in pain. "How's it look?"
"The bullet appears to be lodged in your shoulder, sir. I'm attempting to restrict the bleeding." Ray appeared beside him, "Ray, please secure an ambulance, if you will?"
"Sure, Benny. Good shot, by the way." He patted his friend on the shoulder before turning and yelling for assistance.
The rest of the gang put up a valiant fight. They were, however, outgunned and outmanned. There were no survivors.
By the time Simon woke up in the hospital, It was the following morning. His shoulder felt horrible. He had a headache that wouldn't quit, and the room was filled to capacity. Everybody staring at him.
"What?" he grumbled. Glaring at all the worried faces. "I'm fine. Aren't I?" Suddenly worried.
"You're going to be fine, Simon." Jim informed him. "We just wanted to make sure. OK? I mean, how many times do we wake up with you watching over us? Let us return the favour, will you?" Jim's hand warm on his arm, comforting. "Besides. Daryl couldn't get in without us. They didn't dare stop him with this crowd guarding him." He pulled the captain's son out from behind him.
"Dad?" Terror in the face and eyes.
He reached up for his child with his good arm. "I'm going to be fine, son." Pulling him down for a hug, reassuring. He looked past his son to his men. "So. How'd it turn out?"
Ryf grinned. "We won." Then he frowned. "They," he swallowed, hard. "They wouldn't give up. They're all dead."
Simon nodded. "Not too surprising, considering. Anyone else hurt?"
It was late the following day. Simon, Jim, and Blair were bidding goodbye to Ben and Ray, who, with their prisoner, were about to leave for Chicago.
"I must say, it was a pleasure having you here, gentlemen." Simon told them. "If you ever decide you need a change, I'm sure I could find you both jobs, here." Shaking the two men's hands.
"Us, too, Captain. I'll be glad to get this over with, though." Ray replied. "If I ever decide to leave Chicago, This'll be the first place I think of."
Ben smiled. "It was nice meeting all of you. I'm glad to have been able to help out." He shook hands all around, as well. "Thank you, Blair. You have given me a wonderful insight that I shall not soon forget."
"I'm glad if I was of help. If you have problems, just give me a call. But not in the middle of a gunfight, OK?" He pushed the proffered handshake aside and moved in to give the mountie a hug. "Lighten up." he whispered, smiling up at the startled mountie as he released him. "Be well. Be happy." He added, louder, as he stepped back.
Jim, surprisingly, also pulled Ben into a hug. "It's been great, having someone to talk to about these senses who can actually understand. Take it easy." Stepping back, a little embarrassed by his actions.
Wilson, Chained to Ray, was fidgeting. For the first time in many years, he was totally alone. His entire gang was dead, and his bought cop was singing like a canary. Except for the fact that he was going to Chicago to face murder charges, they would have kept him there to face all the charges they would have charged his men with. He was feeling very afraid. There was no one left to come rescue him.
The announcement of their flight sounded. Goodbyes having been said, Ben and Ray escorted their prisoner to the plane. They were boarding first, so as to not worry the other passengers.
"Well, gentlemen." Simon said as they watched the plane pull away from the terminal. "Can't say it was fun, exactly. But it was definitely interesting."
"Ain't that the truth?" Blair responded. "They're good guys. Friends." He added.
"Now, Sandburg." Simon began, putting his good arm around the younger man's shoulders. "What's all this about another Sentinel?" Steering the anthropologist toward the exit, who cast a terrified glance behind him, looking for help. Leaving a chuckling Jim to trail after them.
Those so-called three man dome tents make wonderful tents for two or three...small children. I use mine for just me and my dog. Putting four adults in one means they're gonna get real intimate with each other. As in you have to go outside to roll over or change your mind. We also have a huge three room cabin tent. Two of us can set it up in less than fifteen minutes, ten minutes to strike it. We get lots of practice every year during wagon train. The little dome tent lives in the trunk, 'just in case'. Even though it doesn't snow where we live.
A BIG Thank you kindly to all who have read my stories and emailed me. Your words of encouragement are what sustains me in writing. I have two more pieces in the works at this time. One is a sequel to this one. Takes place in Chicago. With RayK. eg I'm hoping it doesn't take as long to write as this one has. It shouldn't. This one was started back in August, and now it's almost February. Well, back to proofreading.
Search for another story