I'm up to thirty pages on the one I was working on for this, but I've become dissatisfied with it, so I'm going to try again. Sigh. This usually isn't so difficult. Ah, well, let's see where this one takes us, shall we? If I ever finish the first one, this will most likely be the ending for it.

You Could Have Said Something


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The enemy had them pinned down with heavy-arms fire. They were well and truly trapped, with nowhere to go, no means of escape. Jim had pushed Blair down and was covering him, protecting him with his own body, expecting that at any moment they would be flanked and killed. Ray Kowalski stood quickly and fired off a few rounds, while Fraser knelt beside him. Bill Maxwell crouched beside them, occasionally trying to get a look at what the enemy was doing. It felt like they'd taken on an entire battalion of well-trained army troops. They'd had no idea that half a dozen drug smugglers would have been so well armed... or that the supposed six men would turn out to be more like twenty. They'd called for backup, but it hadn't arrived, yet, and the bad guys had started moving so they had to do something to at least slow them down until help could arrive. Jim had announced their presence by identifying himself, at which point all Hell had broken loose. They had all dived for the only spot of cover, a small, concrete cistern that was barely large enough for the four men to huddle behind.

The sixth member of the group was trying to convince Jim to allow him to break away and attack the enemy. Jim frowned and shook his head. He had a pounding headache from the sound of high-powered weapons firing almost non-stop. He knew what Ralph was saying, but he didn't believe him. For now, at least, they'd wait for backup.

"We're just going to scope out the place where my informant says they're bringing the drugs through, guys. You don't have to come," Jim offered their visiting friends an out. He planned on staking out the warehouse for a few hours, hoping to get some confirmation that there really were drugs being smuggled in from Canada.

"We'd love to go with you, Jim," Ralph Hinkley insisted with a smile. "Bill loves stakeouts, don't you Bill?"

Bill grimaced, then grinned. "Oh, yeah. My number one thing to do," He agreed, then muttered softly under his breath, "on my 'hate to do' list." Jim chuckled and Fraser smiled, understanding exactly what he meant.

Ray grinned and agreed. "Sounds good to me,"

"Likewise," Fraser concurred.

"It's going to be pretty boring, though. I don't expect any action. My snitch said that there is something supposed to come in this weekend, but you know how that goes."

"How good is your snitch?" Ray asked.

Jim shrugged, "About seventy-five percent. Once in a while he gives me some bad intel. Just often enough that I never take him for gospel."

Bill nodded in understanding. Informants often had their own agendas that had little or nothing to do with what information they were selling. Personally, he didn't much care for them; too often they were either trying to distract you from their own crimes and misdemeanors, or simply wanted to cause trouble for someone else. Unfortunately, that didn't mean that they didn't get away with it.

Ray grunted in agreement. Snitches were what they were, some were good, others, not so.

"We'll go with you," Bill announced, much to everyone's surprise.

"Yeah," Ray agreed.

"You really don't have to, you know," Blair insisted.

"Just being buddies," Ray countered.

"Hey, we're friends, this is what friends do. You can always depend on me, and on Ralph. Although, Ralph is more likely to be of more use than me, what with the suit and all."

"Bill, stop that." Ralph frowned. "Don't forget, you're the brains in this partnership."

Bill laughed, "Yeah, but you're the brawn, with a pretty good mix of brains, yourself." Bill patted his partner on the shoulder. "So, we'll take my rental car. It's much less noticeable than your truck."

"That means that Bill will drive," Ralph said, sotto voce.

Blair almost giggled. "How is he for wrecking vehicles?"

"Oh, two or three a year when he was with the bureau," Ralph deadpanned. Jim laughed, while Blair paled.

"Oh, dear," Fraser murmured, while his partner laughed.

"You're kidding?" Please say you're kidding... Blair cringed slightly.

"Well, when he was driving. That's not counting the number of bad guys he's forced to crash," Ralph added.

"Oh, and how about the ones you've stopped?" Bill countered.

"That's different."

"How so?"

"Only the bad guys' cars got damaged." He tried to keep a straight face, but Ralph was still too happy over the return of his partner/friend. It had been several months since Jim and Blair had found Bill in a cave where he'd been left to die, and he was still thrilled with the way things were going, although he had noticed some changes in the older man. Of course, after sixteen-plus years of torture and imprisonment he should have been more surprised with how well Bill had coped with all the changes in the world, not to mention how little his personality had changed. Bill showed no anger or fear over his ordeal, he was simply happy to be free once more and to know that Ralph had been all right. His dogged determination to stop bad guys hadn't dimmed one single lumen, which was why they had returned to Washington State and offered to help the Cascade PD attempt to slow down or stop the sudden influx of meth coming in from Canada.

They had arrived at the location that Jim's snitch had indicated and scoped out the premises. Jim and Fraser, using their enhanced senses, had realized that there were several people inside, and that they were talking about the shipment they'd just received... had they waited until the time Jim's snitch had said to come, the drugs and the smugglers would have been long gone. Blair had immediately called for backup, but things happened too quickly and in their determination to slow the smugglers in their escape, they'd gotten themselves pinned down, with no means of escape for themselves. All they could do was hope that their backup would arrive soon.

"Jim, it's okay, let me go. I can get through and distract them," Ralph insisted.

"And how do I explain how you get shot and not injured?" Jim replied.

"You don't. The way we always worked it before was that Bill would laugh at the bad guys when they would claim that I'd done something 'impossible'. Heck, sometimes we'd tell the exact truth, that I'm like Superman, but that only got laughed at. Trust me, it's too unbelievable for anyone."

"He's right, Jim. I'd say 'sure, he's Superman,' and everyone would laugh and the bad guys would shut up, realizing that we thought they were working for an insanity plea. There was one guy who insisted, and he ended up in a psych ward," Bill confirmed his partner's claim.

"What if they shoot you in the head?" Blair asked, worriedly.

"I keep my arms up to protect my head. Besides, I can turn invisible, with the cape." Jim and Blair turned blank stares on each other, then met the identical expressions on Ray and Fraser's faces, then back to Ralph, disbelief on all four faces. Sighing, Ralph disappeared. "Satisfied?"

"Uh," Blair began in surprise. Fraser and Ray just gaped.

"Uh," Jim echoed his partner, reaching out to touch the now invisible man. "I guess..." he shook his head, not believing his senses. He could feel Ralph, smell his aftershave, hear his heartbeat, but he couldn't see him. "All right. I can't argue with this one. Go for it." His sensitive hearing let him keep track of their invisible secret weapon, as Jim filtered out the surrounding noise.

It was soon obvious where Ralph was, when smugglers suddenly lost their weapons, which went flying across the open area towards the five pinned down men. As the smugglers not yet under attack turned to see what was wrong, Jim, Blair, Ray, Ben, and Bill made their moves, rushing the distracted bad guys. By the time they realized what was happening, the five had engaged several men in hand-to-hand combat; unless they were willing to kill their comrades, the unengaged smugglers couldn't shoot.

Fortunately, they didn't have to find out whether or not the bad guys were willing to kill their partners as backup finally arrived, swiftly diving in and capturing the twenty-five men and women who had been dividing up their drug shipment.

By the time the agents from the DEA had arrived, the arrestees had been Mirandized and transported to the city jail. Ralph, who hadn't removed his street clothes that covered the suit, reappeared during the confusion of subduing the smugglers. Bill looked at him and immediately pulled off his suit jacket and handed it to Ralph, who frowned in momentary confusion, then looked down and noticed the bullet holes in his own jacket. He quickly stripped off the damaged garment and slipped his partner's on instead, to cover the holes in his shirt. Bill draped the damaged jacket over one arm. Jim and Blair used their bodies to block the change, but not quickly enough for their captain not to see.

Simon stared, his jaw going slack. He could see the bullet holes in the man's shirt, but there wasn't any blood, although red fabric showed through. He stopped beside his men, trying not to be too obvious in his staring. "You all right?" Simon turned his gaze from the obviously uninjured Ralph to his own officers.

"Yeah, we're fine, sir. Seems my snitch was a couple of days off with his timing."

"Oh? When did he say the shipment was coming in?"

"Two days from now," Jim answered blandly. Seeing his superior's frown of confusion, he continued. "We just thought we'd scope the place out, but it turned out that the shipment was today. We called for backup, but before it arrived, they came out and saw us. They started shooting, we dove for cover."

Simon looked around; spotting the only cover in the area, he asked, "Do I want to know how you managed to get to them?"

"Uh, probably not, Simon," Blair replied, while Ben and Ray nodded in agreement.

"Tell me anyway."

"Uh, well, you see, sir," Jim started, but Ralph interrupted him.

"I sort of drew their fire and while they were distracted, Bill, Jim, Blair, Ben, and Ray attacked from the opposite end."

"Uh-huh," Simon replied, disbelievingly. He reached over and pulled the jacket Ralph now wore away to see the holes in his shirt. "So, how'd your clothes get ventilated? More importantly, how did you avoid getting hurt?"

"Uh, well, you see..." Ralph looked around for help.

"If we told you, we'd have to kill you," Bill said, smiling.

Simon glared at them, each in turn. Every one of them returned his glare with their best innocent expression.

"Well, however you did it, it was a good job, men. Now, I suggest you get out of here before anyone else notices that you're wearing each other's jackets. Agent Maxwell's gray does not go well with Mr. Hinkley's tan, and vice versa."

"Yes, sir!" Jim snapped, then grinned. "Well be down at the station working on the paperwork as soon as we drop them off at their motel, Simon."

"Make sure you get their signed statements, gentlemen." Captain Banks, with one final look at Ralph's shirt, shook his head and walked away, muttering under his breath, "Whatever that suit thing is made of, I wish we had some flak vests made from it."

They kept the warehouse staked out for the next week, just to make sure there were no other shipments coming in. With all the paperwork filled out, signed, and filed, Bill and Ralph prepared to return to Los Angeles. Ben and Ray had already returned to Chicago to use the information they had gleaned from questioning the smugglers in their own takedown attempt of the smuggling ring.

"It's been interesting, gentlemen," Simon Banks said as he shook Bill and Ralph's hands. "You know, for a FED, you're not bad, Maxwell."

Bill grinned. "Yeah, well, thanks to your guys, I found my smile again." He looked at Jim and Blair, "Friends?"

"Forever," Blair agreed, shaking his hand.

"Always," Jim agreed, shaking Ralph's, then Bill's hands.

"If you ever need us, you know that we'll be there if you call us," Ralph said softly.

"Likewise," Jim agreed.

As the two men walked away, Jim heard Bill's soft murmur, "Until forever ends, I will be your friend."

Simon watched the two men as they left. Turning to his friends, he had to ask. "Sandburg? Is Bill Maxwell like Jim and Fraser?"

"Huh? What do you mean?"

"You heard me. Is he a sentinel, like Jim?"

"Don't be silly, Simon. Of course not."

"Uh, Chief?"


"He's at least got exceptional hearing. About as good as mine."


"He can see exceptionally well, too," Simon agreed, nodding.


"And his sense of touch is good, as well."

"What?" Blair turned from one man to the other, like he was watching a tennis match.

"Yeah, and did you see him flinch at dinner the other night? I swear his sense of taste was giving him trouble," Simon added.


"Yeah, and he was able to keep track of Ralph, even when he was invisible," Jim continued.

"WHAT?!" Blair was shocked. "Why didn't you say anything before?"

"I thought you knew," Jim shrugged.

"What?" Blair turned to stare at the elevator doors that were closing on the departing pair, he caught Bill's wink just before the man burst into laughter. "Oh, man..." Blair moaned, as Jim and Simon began to chuckle.

"Well, that proves it," Simon chortled. "Your days as an 'observer' are definitely over. Good thing you're a cop."

"I can't believe this. You both knew and didn't think to tell me? That's so not cool. To quote Ray, 'that's just not buddies', guys." His friends just laughed at him, while Blair began plotting his revenge. Maybe he could get Ralph and Bill to come for another visit? Maybe along with Ben and Ray? They could always go camping... He decided to make some calls in a few weeks, see if he could get them all together again to runs some tests. This particular get-together hadn't had time for much sensory work, he'd been too caught up in his fascination with Ralph's suit. But next time... and there would be a next time...

He thought of a misquote of Ray Kowalski's, 'Hmmmph! Shake, sentinel, shake!'

"I Will Be Your Friend"

When every moment gets too hard

The end of the road can feel so far

No matter how much time we'll part

I'm always near you

I'll be the shelter in your rain

Help you find your smile again

I'll make you laugh if you have a broken heart

Wherever you are

Cuz I'm never gonna walk away

If the walls come down some day

All along when you feel the pain

I'll be there when you call my name

You can always depend on me

I believe until forever ends

I will be your friend

So many people come and go

Nothing can change the you I know

You'll never be just a face in the crowd

And time will show

Through the seasons and the years

I will always hold you dear

Never you fear

Cuz I'm never gonna walk away

If the walls come down some day

All along when you feel the pain

I'll be there when you call my name

You can always depend on me

I believe until forever ends

I will be your friend

I'll be around when every candle burns down low

And I want you to know...

Cuz I'm never gonna walk away

If the walls come down some day

All along when you feel the pain

I'll be there when you call my name

You can always depend on me

I believe until forever ends

I will be your friend

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