When Blair awoke again he found himself lying down in the back seat of a vehicle; his hands and feet tied. He was forced to remain motionless as he listened to the soft hum of the motor.
Craning his neck to look out the window, he was only permitted a brief look at the occasional passing blur of the landscape. Trying to get a glance at the front of the vehicle, he only managed to get a look at the back of his captor's head. Licking his dry lips, he said, "Hey, what's happening? Where are we going?"
"Good," Christina said as she glanced in the rearview mirror. Locking eyes with Blair, she explained, "I was beginning to think that you were going to be out of it for the rest of the day."
"Um Look, Christina Uh, it is okay if I call you Christina, isn't it?" Seeing Christina nod, Blair continued, "Why don't you end this right now before you get into even bigger trouble. We'll go straight to the cops and you can turn yourself in. You know that they'll go easier on you if you do that. If you wait, make them hunt you down, they'll just go harder on you. Come on, you don't want to do this."
"Oh but you're wrong, Blair," Christina protested. "I do want to do this. In fact, I've been looking forward to this for awhile now."
"Why?" Blair asked.
"Because you destroyed my sister," Christina yelled. "Because of you and because of what you allowed Ellison to do to her, my sister is warehoused in some run down, dilapidated psychiatric institution. She's locked up in that so-called hospital, being totally neglected and not receiving any proper treatment or care at all."
"I'm sorry about Alex," Blair stated. "Sorry that she's in a place like that. But what has that got to do with your kidnapping me? I'm not responsible for where Alex is. The reason she ended up there is because of her own self-destructive actions. If you want to blame someone, blame Alex. She put herself there and she didn't need any help from me to do it." When Christina didn't respond, Blair asked, "What are you going to do to me anyway?"
"It's not what I'm going to do," Christina replied. "It's what you're going to do."
"What?" Blair asked. "What are you talking about?"
"You're going to teach me," Christina informed Blair. "You're going to teach me everything that I need to know to help my sister."
"You want me to teach you know to be a guide?"
"A guide?" Christina asked. "Is that what you are?"
"Someone referred to me as one before," Blair answered. "It just seemed to fit, I guess."
"Then yes, I want you to teach me how to be a guide to Alex," Christina stated.
"Then what?" Blair asked. "After I've taught you everything that I know, what happens next?"
"Simple," Christina replied. "I rescue Alex and help her to get better."
"Yeah?" Blair inquired. "What then? You'll just live happily ever after? You're forgetting one very important fact."
"Your sister is a psychotic killer!" Blair yelled. "Do you honestly believe that she will just be so grateful to you for helping her that she'll suddenly have a change of heart? That she'll stop being a criminal? Have you even thought this through at all?"
"She's my sister," Christina repeated. "That's all that matters. She's my sister and I can't leave her in that place. I won't." Glancing back at Blair, she added, "It's not like you'll be around anyway, so there's no need for you to worry."
Slumping back down against the seat, Blair closed his eyes.
Pulling up in front of the loft, Simon turned to Jim and asked, "Do you need me to help you get upstairs?"
"No," Jim answered. "I'll be fine on my own."
"I'll help him," Gibson volunteered. "It's not like I've got anywhere else to be."
"I know you be thinking that you're going to wait with me," Jim said.
"Yeah I am," Gibson insisted. "Besides, I want you to fill me in on this Alex woman."
"He's my friend too, Ellison," Gibson interrupted, "and I deserve to know."
"Whatever," Jim growled as he opened the car door. "Well, what are we waiting for? Simon needs to get back to the station."
Climbing out of the backseat, Gibson stood by and watched as Jim got out of the car. Stepping forward, he grabbed Jim's arm. Irritated when his help was simply shrugged off, he said, "Look, Ellison, I don't particularly want to spend any time alone with you either but I'm doing it for Blair's sake. And that's something I thought that you, of all people, would understand."
Relenting, Jim didn't rebuff Gibson's next offer of help. Clenching his jaw, Jim demanded, "Call as soon as you find out anything, Simon."
"I will," Simon promised. "And you two try not to kill each other, all right?" Seeing similar tense nods from both men, Simon pulled away after Jim and Gibson stepped back from the car.
The two men stood there, one watching, the other listening, until the car turned a corner. "Let's go," Gibson said.
Instincts protesting any dependence on this man, a man that could still possibly be a very real and dangerous threat, Jim bristled as Gibson turned and began to lead him into the building. "So you're a Navy Seal, huh?"
"Used to be," Gibson replied. "You were an Army Ranger, huh?"
"How did you know that?" Jim asked.
"Same way you knew."
"What do you mean used to be?" Jim inquired.
"I got an honorable discharge after my last mission," Gibson informed.
"My last mission went bad."
"You mean the one where your team was killed?" Jim asked, memories of his own lost men filling his mind.
"Shit, Ellison," Gibson exclaimed. "They died and I didn't. What more do you want me to say?"
Coming to a halt, Jim pulled on Gibson's arm until the other man turned to face him. "I want to know if I can trust you?" Jim growled.
"How do I know that I can trust you?" Gibson countered. "Looks like we're in the same boat here, Sport."
"Dont call me that!" Jim yelled.
"You started it!"
"You " Sighing, Jim lowered his voice and continued, "We can't keep doing this. I've got enough to deal with right now without having to deal with you too."
"And you think that I don't?"
"Let's just get upstairs."
"Fine," Gibson agreed.
When the reached the loft, Gibson said, "Keys."
Reluctantly, not wanting to give Gibson any more control over the situation, Jim handed over his keys.
"Thanks, Sp "
Chuckling, Gibson turned to unlock the door; which caused him to miss the small smile the ghosted across Jim's mouth.
Trying to put aside his growing kinship towards his fellow sentinel, Jim pushed past Gibson and entered the loft.
Entering the loft behind Jim, Gibson shut the door and then said, "So tell me about this Alex."
Sighing, Jim agreed, "Let's go over to the couch and sit down, then we'll talk."
Trailing behind Jim, making sure that the other man didn't bump into anything, Gibson joined Jim over by the couch. After they were both seated, he turned to Jim. "Talk."
"Alex " Jim began. "She's She's like us."
"A sentinel? Well, what happened?" Gibson asked. "Did Blair help her?"
"He tried to," Jim answered, "until we found out that she was a criminal."
"A thief," Jim clarified.
"I bet that didn't go over too well with Blair, huh?"
"No," Jim answered, "it didn't. He refused to help her anymore and she She "
"She what, Ellison?" Gibson asked. "What did she do?"
"She killed him," Jim whispered. "She killed him."
Still under the effects of the chloroform, Blair had fallen into an uneasy sleep after his brief talk with his captor. Jarred awake when the vehicle came to a sudden stop, he blinked his eyes rapidly. Startled when the car door behind him opened, he tilted his neck back and saw Christina standing there.
"We're here," she announced. "Get out."
Looking down at his bound wrists and ankles, Blair sarcastically asked, "Well, how do you suppose that I do that?"
Reaching in, Christina grabbed Blair's shoulders and pulled him from the car. Heedless to his protests, she smiled as he fell onto the ground. "C'mon," she demanded. Staring down at him, she coldly asked, "You can crawl, can't you?" Continuing to stand there, she watched as Blair struggled to get to his knees. Frustrated by his slow progress, she reached down and grabbed his hair. Using her hold on him as leverage, she pulled him up to his knees. "Hurry up!" Keeping a firm grip on Blair, Christina started walking.
Struggling to stay upright, Blair only managed a brief glimpse of their surroundings. He just had time to take in the dense trees and the dirt road he was crawling along before they reached their destination. Loosing his balance as he tried to climb the stairs Christina was dragging him up, Blair fell to his side. "Just wait," he yelled as Christina reached for him again. "Please, just wait a minute."
"What now?" Christina impatiently asked.
"Could you please just untie me?" Blair requested. "At least my feet. I mean, where am I going to go? I don't even know where we are."
Squatting down, Christina pulled out a knife. Pushing Blair over onto his back, she waved it in his face. "You'd better not think of running," she warned. "I know these woods a lot better than you do and I promise you, I will hunt you down." Lightly tracing the knife down Blair's cheek, barely breaking the skin but not drawing blood, she added, "And I've got no problem with messing up this pretty face of yours."
Shuddering slightly, Blair felt the pressure against his face increase slightly; he then winced as the blade scratched his cheek, causing a slow trickle of blood to run down his face. Exhaling deeply as the knife was moved away, Blair lay still as Christina reached down and sawed through the rope binding his ankles.
Standing up, Christina ordered, "On your feet."
Turning to his side once more, Blair placed his still bound hands against the stair underneath him and pushed himself upright. Once he was standing, Christina tightly grasped his elbow and once again began dragging him up the remainder of the stairs. When the reached the porch, she pushed him in front of her, shoving him over to the door.
Walking up behind Blair, she ordered, "Open it."
Pushing the door open, Blair took a few hesitant steps into the room. Turning to glance back at Christina, Blair froze when he saw a familiar figure lying on the bed in the corner of the room. Shocked, he stumbled back a few steps, only to crash into Christina.
Steadying Blair, Christina laughed and said, "Oh, did I forget to mention that?" Shoving Blair towards the bed, she addressed the room's other occupant. "Hello, Sis. We're back."
Falling against the bed, Blair looked up. Speechless, he continued to lie there as Alex reached out a hand to stroke his cheek.
"Blair," she whispered. Then, feeling wetness, she glanced down and saw the blood coating her fingers. Glaring up at Christina, she yelled, "I told you not to hurt him!"
"What's the difference," Christina asked with a shrug. "Shit, Alex, you killed him. Now you're getting all upset over some little scratch?"
"I made a mistake before," Alex said. "One that I won't make again. And it's one that you won't make again either. If you hurt him any more, I'll "
"You'll what?" Christina interrupted. "Kill me? Go ahead and try it, Alex. We both know you don't stand a chance against me. You never have. I'll do whatever I want to him. Don't worry, I won't kill him. But that doesn't mean that I can't have some fun." Walking over to stand beside Blair, Christina placed her hand on Blair's head. "And we're going to have lots of fun together, aren't we, Pet?"
Glancing between the two women, Blair thought, 'I am in so much trouble here.'
When Jim finished telling him about Alex, Gibson was silent for several seconds before erupting. "You son of a bitch! You call yourself Blair's friend and you you were going to fu " Standing up he paced in front of the couch. Coming to stand in front of Jim, he glared down at the silent man. "Don't you have anything to say?"
"No," Jim quietly replied. "You're right to be pissed off. But I promise you, no matter how much you might hate me right now, I hate myself more. Sandburg says it was just some kind of mating instinct thing. He acted like it didn't bother him too much, but I know that it did. I can't explain it to you, Gibson. I don't understand it. I didn't then and I still don't now." Leaning his head back against the couch, Jim sighed. "Shit, Gibson, if it had been you there, you probably would have acted the same way. Don't tell me that you haven't experienced some weird shit since your senses came on-line."
Sitting down beside Jim once again, Gibson admitted, "Yeah, I have. I mean, I don't normally dream of a white tiger, panther and wolf."
"Yeah, they can be kind of disturbing, can't they?"
"But shit, Ellison, couldn't you have I don't know Fought it somehow?" Gibson asked. "Are you trying to tell me that in some cases, I'm gonna be ruled by my instincts. No control over what I do?"
"I got control," Jim protested. "I stopped her from shooting Blair. I was in control."
"Sounds like you not too sure of yourself, Sport."
"Well whether I was in control or not, Alex was caught."
"Her senses really fried out?" Gibson asked. "She ended up totally out of it?"
"Catatonic," Jim confirmed.
"Makes you wonder, doesn't it?"
"If that's where we would've ended up if we hadn't meet Blair," Gibson replied. "I know that the only reason I'm still functioning is because of what I learned from him before. The meditation and relaxation techniques, the control measures he taught me for my other senses. If I hadn't had that training to fall back on, if I hadn't known and realized what was going on with me, I probably would've ended up in a padded cell right next to that bitch."
"Yeah," Jim agreed. "Maybe." Shaking himself out of his reverie, he turned and asked, "So how did you meet Sandburg?"
"You really want to know?"
"Its either listen to you talk or sit here and go out of my mind with worry and frustration," Jim stated.
"Like you won't be sitting here worrying about him while I talk," Gibson replied.
"Like you won't be too?" Jim asked.
"Good point," Gibson observed. "I met Blair a few years back. My kid brother was going to Rainier and I was in town visiting him. I had taken some leave because my senses had started causing me trouble. Anyway, I'm sitting there with my brother catching up and I mentioned the stuff about my senses. He starts going on and on about this friend of his that I have to meet. I agreed, mainly just to get the kid to shut up, and went to meet with this friend the next day." Chuckling, Gibson said, "I've got to tell you, Ellison, when I first met Blair, I wasn't all that nice to him." Seeing Jim smile, Gibson asked, "What?"
"I called him a neo-hippie witchdoctor punk," Jim explained. "And that was before I threatened to search his office for drugs."
"He seems to have that affect on guys like us, huh?" Gibson said. "So just as I'm getting ready to storm out of his room, somebody starts blaring this radio. Felt like somebody jammed ice picks into my ears."
Nodding in understanding, Jim said, "Let me guess, the next thing you know this guy is right there beside you making everything better."
"Yep," Gibson replied. "After he brought the pain down to a dull ache, I was a little bit more inclined to listen to him."
"I know exactly where you're coming from."
Looking at Jim, Gibson said, "Yeah, I suppose you do." Clearing his throat, he continued, "I had quite a bit of leave time accumulated so I decided to take it and use the time to work with Blair. He helped me get control. More importantly, he taught me how to keep it."
"He's good at that," Jim stated.
"Yeah, he is," Gibson agreed.
"So what senses were heightened?"
"Everything except touch," Gibson answered. "Blair warned me that it could possibly become heightened also. He had just started teaching me ways to deal with that if it ever did happen when "
"When what?" Jim asked.
"When Alan took him," Gibson explained. Sighing, he said, "I shouldn't go into it. If Blair wanted you to know, he'd have told you."
"We were going to talk about it tonight," Jim said.
"It's okay, Gibson," Jim interrupted. "I'm not gonna ask you to talk about it. Blair and I will talk when we get him back."
"Yeah," Gibson agreed, "when we get him back."
"Just one thing though," Jim said. "Blair told me that it was bad. Worse than what Alan did to him this time."
"What exactly did the psycho do this time around?"
"Besides blind me, you mean?" Jim asked.
"Sorry, Ellison," Gibson apologized. "Sometimes my mouth kind of gets ahead of my brain."
"Yeah, I think that comes along with the heightened senses," Jim stated.
"So I take it that I'm not alone in this little short coming?"
"Definitely not," Jim replied with a smile.
"That's nice to know," Gibson said with a smile of his own. Sobering, he asked, "Now what about Alan?"
"God, I don't know where to start," Jim said.
"At the beginning is usually a good place," Gibson suggested.
"All right," Jim replied. "You know the other people Blair worked with? The other ones with three or four enhanced senses?"
"Yeah," Gibson answered. "I know about them. I've even met some of them."
"Well before coming here, " Jim said, "Alan killed all of them."
"I said that you're not to hurt him again, Chris!" Alex yelled.
Leaning over Blair, Christina pressed her knife against Alex's throat. Laughing when Alex flinched back, she warned, "I got your pathetic ass out of that hellhole you were in, Alex; don't think for a second that I won't put you back there. You're not in charge here, I am." Pulling back, Christina grabbed Blair's arm and jerked him to his feet. Shaking him, she yelled, "You said that this guy could help you. So the two of you had better get your asses in gear. We've got a job to do and the only way we can pull it off is if you get your senses back. I promised my employer that I could do this job. It's my ass on the line if we fail. And I won't be the only one to suffer the consequences if we do, Sis."
Shoving Blair away from her, Christina said, "I'll leave him alone for now. Besides, I had my fun on the way here. You ought to have seen the way he was falling for my sob story. 'Oh, Alex, is my dear, beloved sister and I just have to help her. I have to rescue her from that horrible place.'" Laughing, she continued, "That look on his face, a mixture of pity and compassion with just a dash of contempt. Too bad I didn't have a camera."
Jerking his arm out of Christina's grasp, Blair yelled, "Whoa, just wait a minute here. Time out, okay?" Looking at Christina, he said, "You mean to tell me that you're " Turning to Alex, he stammered, "She You're both "
"What can I say," Christina interrupted. "I guess it's just in the genes or something. Isn't that right, Sis?"
"Whatever you say, Chris," Alex replied.
"And dont you forget it," Christina warned. "Either of you. I'm going outside and secure the car. Wouldn't want my little Pet trying to escape or anything. I'll only be gone a few minutes so don't even think of trying anything."
Staring after Christina as she left the cabin, Blair flinched at the sound of the door slamming shut. Slowly, he turned to face Alex again. "Alex."
"You can't keep me here, you know," Blair said. "Jim will find me. You know that he will."
"From what Christina tells me, Ellison isn't able to find much of anything right now," Alex retorted. Patting the bed, Alex said, "Blair why don't you come over here and sit down?"
Raising his still bound hands in front of his chest, Blair said, "I think that I'll just stay right here."
"Please, Blair," Alex pleaded. "I won't hurt you."
"You won't hurt me?" Blair repeated. "Are you nuts? Do you really expect me to believe that? You killed me!"
"And I'm sorry," Alex replied. "So come on over here. It's okay."
"You had better not make me angry, Blair," Alex warned. "Right now, I'm the only thing keeping Chris from hurting you. If you think that I'm bad, you haven't seen anything till you've seen Chris play with one of her pets."
"And I suppose you're gonna protect me from her, huh?" Blair sarcastically asked.
"That's right," Alex exclaimed. "She went to Cascade to kill you, you know. When she'd come to visit me at the hospital, all she talked about was making you pay. I pleaded with her to leave you alone. I told her all about my senses, you, Ellison, everything. Told her how I could use my senses for business; that if she could just get me out of the hospital and help me get my senses back, there was no limit to what we could do. I was having trouble convincing her until she went to Cascade and got a look at you. She came back to the hospital and couldn't stop talking about what she wanted to do to you."
Shuddering, Blair asked, "What exactly did she say she was going to do to me?"
Leaning forward, voice low, Alex said, "Trust me, Blair, you don't want to know." Smiling, she continued, "It's not often that someone catches Chris' attention the way that you have. But when someone does Well, let's just say that my sister isn't satisfied until she experiences some truly intimate and intense contact with whatever, or whomever, catches her interest. And that is one encounter with my sister that you do not what to have, Blair."
Backing up until his back hit the wall, Blair slowly slid down to the floor. Head tilted to the side; he peered up at Alex from behind the curtain of hair obscuring his face. "And you're going to protect me from that, huh?"
"As long as you give me what I want," Alex replied. "You help me get my senses back and I'll make sure my sister doesn't harm you."
"If I refuse?"
"Then I'll stand back and watch as she wrings every secret, every thought, every feeling out of you," Alex stated. "That's what see does, you see, on those rare occasions that she finds someone like you. She's got this thing about breaking people. About taking a strong, defiant person and taking them apart piece by piece, not stopping until she's taken everything from them that she possible can. Then, after she's learned everything that she can, after she's destroyed the person's mind and spirit, she finally takes pity on them and kills the empty shell left behind."
Getting up from the bed, Alex walked over and knelt down next to Blair. "You don't know how often she's called me while she's been watching you. Calling me, wanting to get her hands on you and keep you for herself. I kept managing to put her off though. Telling her that we needed you alive, convincing her that I needed your help." Reaching out a hand to stroke Blair's hair, she continued, "So you'd better be nice to me, Blair, and give me what I want. Otherwise " Trailing off, not need to finish the unspoken threat, Alex asked, "So what's it gonna be, Blair?"
Instead of answering, Blair asked, "What exactly has been happening with your senses?"
"Everything since the temple is kind of hazy," Alex answered. "I don't remember much of anything that's happened since then; just a feeling of floating actually, of drifting in and out of consciousness."
"And your senses?"
"Completely gone," Alex finally confessed. "Since the temple, they've been completely back to normal. Nothing heightened at all."
"You do realize that it may not be possible for you to get your senses back," Blair stated. "I told you about this, Alex; about the whole spiritual aspect. You were given a choice and you went against everything being a sentinel represents. There's no coming back from that, and there's no second chance. Any hope of your ever being a sentinel was destroyed in that temple." Standing up, Blair glared down at Alex, "And even if there was some remote possibility of you regaining your senses, I would never and will never help you!"
Rising to her feet Alex slowly advanced on Blair, stalking towards him as he backed away from her. Lunging forward, she grabbed his shoulders and pulled him close to her. "You will help me, Blair," she hissed. "Do you really think that I warned Chris off to protect you? I warned her off to keep her away from what belongs to me. When I told her about you, I knew what her reaction to you would be. I was relying on that reaction to get me out of that place they put me in and to get you here with me." Releasing Blair, she shrugged and said, "I really don't want to see you hurt, but I will do whatever it takes to make you help me. If that means letting Chris play with you for a little bit, then that's fine. The choice is yours."
"I told you," Blair screamed into Alex's face, "there's nothing I can do! Your senses are gone and they're not coming back! No matter what you do to me, that's not going to change!"
"Well, we're just have to see about that won't we?" Alex replied. "Isn't that right, Sis?"
Standing in the doorway, having returned and been silently watching Alex and Blair, Christina sarcastically asked, "Does this mean you're going to let me play with him now?"
Walking over to stand beside Christina, Alex slung her arm around her sister's shoulders. "Sorry, Chris. I was out of line before." Drawing her sister into a hug, Alex stared at Blair over Christina's shoulders, "You're right, you are in charge here. If it weren't for you, I'd still be locked up."
"That's right," Christina replied. "I am in charge here."
"Of course you are, Sis," Alex agreed. "Now, go on and play. You've earned it."
"Really," Christina replied in a hopeful tone. "I can play with him?"
"Yes," Alex replied. "But just don't hurt him too bad, yet. For now, we still need him."
Pulling back to look at Alex, Christina asked, "Later?"
Still staring at Blair, Alex purred, "Later, you can do whatever you want to him."
Whispering, Christina asked, "Will you watch?"
"Oh yes," Alex replied with a low chuckle. "I will definitely watch."
"Good," Christina said. Leaning close to Alex, she gave her sister another squeeze before turning to face Blair. "Are you ready for me, Pet?" Christina asked Blair as she slowly approached him. "Because I'm definitely ready for you. I've been waiting a long time for this and I intend to enjoy every single second of it."
Warily eyeing Christina and Alex, Blair waiting until Christina was just a few feet away from him. Rushing forward, he collided with Christina and knocked her back into Alex. Racing past the fallen women, he ran out the door. Disappearing into the wilderness, he heard muffled screams and shouts coming from inside the cabin. Hurrying his pace, he pushed past the tree limbs blocking his way and blindly ran away from the screams; knowing that what awaited him in the cabin was far worse than whatever may be hiding in the woods that now surrounded him.
"So they're all dead?" Gibson asked when Jim finished telling him about Alan.
"I can't even begin to imagine what Blair's been going through."
"He really hasn't talked about it," Jim said. "I've tried to get him to talk to me but somehow he always manages to turn it around to my " Trailing off, Jim raised a hand and gestured towards his eyes.
"Your blindness?" Gibson asked. Seeing Jim's nod, he inquired, "Do they know if it's permanent?"
"The doctors aren't too hopeful," Jim replied. "Personally, I think it is. Sandburg, though, Sandburg is convinced I'll get my sight back." Sighing, Jim said, "Hell, I don't know. Right now, I don't know much of anything except that I need to get Blair back. What is taking Simon so long anyway? He should have called by now, let us know something."
"I'm sure " Interrupted by a knock at the door, Gibson said, "I'll go get that." Standing up, he walked over to the door and reached out a hand to open it. Hesitating, he said, "What if "
"Don't worry," Jim said. "It's Simon. I can smell his cigars."
Inhaling deeply through his nose, Gibson said, "Hey, you're right."
"So you wanna let him in, Gibson."
"Oh, right." Opening the door, Gibson stepped back and allowed Simon to enter the loft.
Walking into the loft, Simon glanced between Jim and Gibson. "Well, at least the two of you haven't killed each other yet."
"Simon, what have you found out?" Jim asked as he started to rise from the couch.
"Just stay there, Jim," Simon ordered. "I'll come over to you."
Sitting back down, Jim asked, "You did find out something, didn't you?"
"Yeah, I did," Simon replied.
Alarmed by Simon's tone, Jim asked, "Why do I get the feeling that I'm not going to like what you're about to tell me?"
Sitting down next to Jim, Simon said, "Because you won't. I know that I didn't when Connor and Joel told me."
"What is it, Simon?"
"First, you're right. Alex does have a sibling; a sister named Christina Barnes. From what I've found out, she's even worse than Alex," Simon stated. "And second. Jim Oh hell, Jim "
"What, Simon?" Jim asked. "Tell me."
"Alex is no longer in custody," Simon said. "Apparently about a month ago, she escaped from the psychiatric hospital."
"But she was catatonic!" Jim yelled.
"Not any more," Simon replied. "It seems she started showing signs of consciousness soon after she was brought to the hospital. She's been awake for two months and somehow her sister managed to get in to see her and get her out."
"Why didn't someone notify us?" Jim asked. "How could they not tell us about this?"
"Seems they're blaming it on some sort of procedural screw-up," Simon answered. "Personally, I think they were just trying to cover their asses; trying to avoid any lawsuits."
" I can not believe this!" Jim yelled. Slumping back against the couch, he said, "You said that this Christina was worse than Alex."
"Yeah," Simon confirmed. "From what I found out so far, at least."
"Tell me about her," Jim demanded.
"Jim, I "
"She's been linked to several killings, but nobody's ever been able to find any concrete evidence against her," Simon explained.
"What kind of killings, Simon?"
"Bad ones, Jim, all right," Simon replied.
"She gets off on torturing her victims," Simon exclaimed. "They're It's just bad, Jim. Some of the worse stuff that I've ever seen."
"And she's got Blair," Jim stated. "I can't believe I let her take him. I should have done something. I should have stopped her!" Rubbing a hand over his face, he asked, "Did you find anything for us to go on? Any leads as to where she might have taken him?"
"No," Simon answered. "Not yet, Connor and Joel are still checking. They'll find something, Jim."
"But will they find it before it's too late?" Gibson asked as he stepped up behind the couch.
"I don't know," Simon confessed. "I just don't know. At this point, we don't even know why this Christina grabbed Sandburg."
"I think I do," Jim said.
"Alex lost her senses at the temple and odds are they didn't return when she woke up," Jim stated. "She knows how much of an advantage they can be, so she probably wants them back."
"So they took Blair because " Gibson began.
"For reason you came to Cascade, Gibson," Jim interrupted. "Alex needs someone to help her with her senses. But there's just one problem."
"What's that, Ellison?" Gibson asked.
"Alex isn't a sentinel anymore," Jim explained. "I don't think there's any way Sandburg can help her get her senses back. And when they find that out "
"There's no telling what they'll do to Blair," Gibson finished. When he finished talking, Gibson cocked his head to the side. "Ellison, do you "
"Yeah," Jim said, "I hear it to. There's someone coming down the hallway."
Walking over to the door, Gibson opened it to reveal Megan standing with her fist raised, preparing to knock on the door. "Who are you?"
"Who are you?" She countered.
"Jon Gibson," Gibson introduced himself as he held out his hand. "And you?"
Taking Gibson's hand, Megan warily watched as he raised it to his lips and pressed a gently kiss to the back of her hand. "Megan Connor."
"If you two are finished," Jim said, "I'd like to find out if Connor's got any information that she'd like to share with the rest of us."
Reluctantly looking away from Gibson, Megan said, "I do. We've found out a possible location where Sandy might be."
"Sandy?" Gibson asked.
"Sandburg," Jim explained. Addressing Megan again, he sarcastically replied, "Well, if you don't mind, maybe you'd like to share that information with us. That is if you're through flirting, of course."
"Jim!" Simon yelled.
Walking past Gibson to stand in front of Simon and Jim, Megan said, "That's all right, Captain. I know that Ellison's just upset because of Sandy."
"Just tell us what you got, Connor," Jim demanded.
"After doing some more digging, Joel and I discovered a cabin owned by Alex's Grandfather," Megan explained. "It's not that far from Cascade; just outside of Tacoma actually. Joel's at the station speaking with the police commissioner in Tacoma arranging for some of their officers to meet us there."
"Then what are we waiting for?" Jim asked. "Let's go."
"Jim, you know that you can't go," Simon argued. "You either, Gibson," Simon added when he saw Gibson open his mouth to speak. "Jim, you're on leave and Gibson, you're not even a cop. There is no way that I can allow you two to go. Connor and I will go to this cabin. If we find anything, we'll let you know."
"Simon," Jim protested, while Gibson said, "Banks."
"I don't want to hear it," Simon stated. "Connor, let's go." Standing up, Simon followed Megan over to the door. Pausing in the doorway, he turned and ordered, "I mean it, you two. Stay put!"
After Simon and Megan left, Gibson asked, "So how long should we wait until we follow them?"
Tilting his head to the side, Jim listened for several seconds. "They're in the elevator now, but it's stopping on the second floor to let someone it," Jim informed Gibson. "If we go out the back way, we should be able to get to your car before they get outside."
Walking over to Jim, Gibson leaned down and grabbed Jim's arm. "Then what are we waiting for?"
Standing up, Jim said, "Let's go get Sandburg back."
"And make sure those two never think about grabbing him again," Gibson growled.
"Exactly," Jim growled back, both men wearing identical feral grins.
Drained both emotionally and physically, Blair stumbled and fell to the ground. Wincing as his hands were skinned and scrapped, Blair lay there panting and gasping for breath. Attempting to bring his ragged breathing under control, he strained his hearing to listen for any sounds of pursuit. Hearing voices in the distance, he struggled to his feet and began running again and managed only a few more steps before collapsing once more. When Alex and Christina emerged from some nearby trees, he closed his eyes in defeat as they approached him.
"Blair, Blair," Christina chided. "Why did you run? I told you it wouldn't do any good, didn't I? You've been a bad boy and now you've got to be punished. Doesn't he, Alex?"
"Yes he does, Sis," Alex agreed. "C'mon, Blair, get up!"
Opening his eyes, Blair glared up at the two women. "Why don't you just kill me now and get it over with?"
"We still have a use for you," Alex replied.
"And besides," Christina added, "where would be the fun in that? Now get up!"
"NO!" Blair yelled. "I'm not going back there with you. This is over. Do you hear me? It's finished. NO MORE!"
"Fine," Christina replied. "If you don't want to come, then fine. I can always go play with Ellison. I think I'd like that. How about you, Alex?"
"Oh I can think of lots of things that I'd like to do to Ellison," Alex said. "Is that what you want, Blair? Do you want us to go pay Ellison a little visit?"
Unsteadily climbing to his feet, Blair warned, "If either of you go anywhere near Jim, I'll "
"You'll what, Pet?" Christina asked. "You just be a good boy and Ellison won't get hurt."
Bowing his head, Blair murmured, "All right."
"Then let's go," Alex demanded.
Standing still, Blair didn't protest when Alex and Christina approached. Aside from a small shudder, he didn't respond as they each grabbed an arm and started leading him back to the cabin.
After they entered the cabin, Alex and Christina both released Blair. Pulling her knife, Christina used it to cut the ropes binding Blair's wrists. "Strip," she ordered.
"What?" Blair asked.
"You heard me, Pet," Christina said. "Strip!"
Seeing the determined look on Christina's face, Blair decided to appeal to Alex. "Alex, c'mon. You said that you needed my help here. You don't want to let her do this."
"Yes, I did say that," Alex replied. "But so far you haven't been very forthcoming with it. Maybe after some time with Christina, you'll decide to be a little bit more generous with that help."
"Don't keep me waiting, Pet," Christina warned. "I can get a little bit mean when I get impatient."
Wrists numb, Blair slowly began to fumble with the buttons on his shirt.
"Hurry up," Christina demanded.
"I can't," Blair exclaimed. "My hands are numb."
Stepping forward, Christina brushed aside Blair's hands and reached for the buttons herself. "Allow me, then."
Dropping his hands to his sides, Blair closed his eyes as Christina slowly began to take off his shirt.
"There," Christina said as she finished unbuttoning the shirt and pushed it off of Blair's shoulders. Tugging it the rest of the way off, she tossed it onto the floor. Eyeing the shirt two remaining shirts, she said, "Well, that's one down and two to go." With a laugh, she started on the next layer.
When Christina finished removing Blair's shirts, she dropped to her knees and began unfastening his jeans. Feeling Christina's hands on his zipper, Blair took an involuntary step back. "No!" He yelled. "Stop it, Alan!"
Sitting back on her heels, Christina took a quick glance back at Alex who simply shrugged her shoulders. Voice low, almost a caress, Christina asked, "Who's Alan, Pet?"
Seeming to come out of his daze, Blair looked down at Christina. "What?"
Paling, Blair repeated, "Alan?"
"Yes," Christina replied. "Who is he?"
Taking a deep breath, getting a hold of himself once again, Blair said, "You should know, you killed him."
"So he's the one that had you and Ellison," Christina said. "Tell me, Pet, what did he do to you?"
"Nothing," Blair answered.
"Somehow I don't think that's entirely truthful," Christina remarked. "This is going to be even better than I thought. Come back here, Pet."
When Blair didn't move, Christina grabbed a hold of his jeans and yanked. Stumbling forward, Blair was about to fall when Christina placed her hands on his hips and steadied him. Then, she reached for his zipper again.
Trailing behind Simon and Megan, Gibson asked, "Are you sure they won't spot us?"
"Not if you know what you're doing," Jim retorted.
"I know what I'm doing," Gibson insisted.
"Well then we shouldn't have any problems, should we?"
"So how do you think Banks is gonna react when we show up there?"
"Do you really want me to answer that?"
"No, I guess not," Gibson replied. "So, what's the deal with Connor?"
"What about her?"
"She seems nice," Gibson said. "I like her." Hearing Jim scoff, he added, "Really, I do. You know, she kinda reminds me of Blair. I mean, not physically or anything. Plus their demeanors are completely different. But I don't know She makes me feel relaxed, calm. Like Blair does. Does that make sense?"
"I guess," Jim replied. "I don't know. Sandburg would know."
"Yeah, he probably would," Gibson agreed. "So what are we going to do when we get there?"
"Get Sandburg back."
"And what about this Alex and Christina?"
"Unfortunately, even though I'm on leave, I'm still a cop," Jim replied. "They'll be arrested."
"Yeah, well you may be a cop but I'm not," Gibson said. "And I'm thinking about a little revenge."
"If you do something," Jim responded, "then I'd have to arrest you."
"Yeah but like you said, you're on leave?"
"That I did."
"So," Gibson said, "do you really think they'll be there."
His slight smile disappearing, Jim replied, "God, I hope so. If not Well, I don't even want to think about it. They have to be there. He has to be there."
Neither man said anything else as they continued to follow Simon's car.
Pulling up in front of the Tacoma PD, Simon climbed out of his car. "Shit," he exclaimed as he caught sight of two familiar figures pulling into the parking lot.
"Sir?" Connor asked as she got of the car. "Is something wrong?"
"Yeah," he replied, "but it's not like I wasn't expecting it."
Turing to see what Simon was staring at; Megan smiled as she caught sight of Gibson and Jim. "No, Sir, it's not that unexpected, is it?"
Scowling, Simon walked over to Gibson's car and watched as he got out and went around to help Jim. When they approached him, he said, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't I tell the two of you to stay in Cascade?"
"I don't remember hearing anything like that," Jim said. "Do you remember hearing anything like that, Gibson?"
"No, Ellison," Gibson replied, "I don't remember hearing anything like that."
"You three get back in my car," Simon ordered. "I'll go in and talk to the police chief. With any luck, he won't ask too many questions."
"All right, Simon," Jim agreed. "But hurry."
"I will, Jim," Simon promised. "You're not the only one who wants to get him back."
Nodding, Jim said, "We'll be waiting."
When Simon started walking over to the police station, Megan, Jim and Gibson got into his car. After they were seated, Gibson looked at Jim. Noting the tilt to his head, Gibson asked, "What? Do you hear anything?"
"Nothing," Jim answered. "There for a minute, I thought I heard something. It was faint, but I don't know. I lost it. I can't focus, can't concentrate."
"Yes you can, mate," Megan said. "Just take a few deep breaths."
"You sound like Sandburg," Jim stated.
"He's been working with me," Megan confessed. "Coaching me on how to help you when he isn't able to be around."
Clenching his jaw, Jim reluctantly followed Megan's voice. Closing his eyes he took several deep breaths. Listening to Megan's soft words, Jim concentrated. After a few seconds, Megan's voice suddenly transformed into the familiar, soothing voice of his guide. Listening to Megan's words, but in his mind hearing Blair's voice, Jim relaxed and allowed his hearing to expand. Gasping, he jerked forward. "I heard it!"
"Jim?" Megan called out. "Are you all right?"
"What's wrong with him?" Gibson asked.
"I think he went a little bit too deep," Megan distractedly answered. "Jim! Can you hear me?"
"I'm fine, Connor," Jim reassured.
"What the hell happened, Ellison?" Gibson asked.
"There for an instant, I heard Sandburg's voice and his heartbeat," Jim explained. "I only heard him for a few seconds, but I did hear him!"
"Well could you tell anything?" Gibson asked. "Is he all right? Have they hurt him? How far away is he? Tell us something!"
"It went away too fast," Jim irritably replied. "I couldn't make anything out too clearly but I know it's him. I do know that we're close."
All three were startled by Simon's return to the car. Getting into the car, he said, "Well " Trailing off as he noticed the excited expressions on Megan, Gibson, and Jim's faces, he asked, "What's going on?"
"Jim heard Sandy," Megan exclaimed.
"I was able to extend my hearing," Jim explained. "For an instant, I picked up on Sandburg. He's nearby."
"Well everyone just keep it together," Simon ordered. "I spoke with Captain Smith. He and several of his men are going to go up to the cabin with us. It's about an hour's drive from here. If all goes according to plan, we'll have Sandburg back soon."
"What's the plan?" Jim asked. "We can't just go storming in there. That's liable to get Sandburg killed."
"Smith is bringing snipers and SWAT with him," Simon explained. "These guys know what they're doing. If I didn't believe that, I would've arranged for our guys to be here. You know I wouldn't do anything to jeopardize Sandburg's safety." Turning to face Jim, he asked, "You do know that, don't you, Jim? The guards on Sandburg were pulled sooner than I was told. I was expecting them to be there through the end of the week. The commissioner went behind my back and called them off. I wouldn't leave you or Sandburg unprotected like that."
"I know, Simon," Jim replied. "I just "
"It's okay, Jim," Simon interrupted. "Let's just get him back. And then, I'm going to have a long talk with that commissioner of ours." Seeing Smith and several other officers exit the police station, Simon said, "There they are. It's time."
"Good," Jim and Gibson both replied.
Chilled by the feral expression on the two sentinels' faces, Simon shuddered and then started the car.
Undressed down to his boxers, Blair stood shivering in the chilly cabin; very much aware of the two sets of eyes currently traveling over his nearly naked body, his shaking increased.
"Not bad," Christina commented. "Not bad at all."
Feeling very exposed; Blair shifted from foot to foot and crossed his arms over his chest.
"What's wrong, Pet?" Christina asked. "You've got the full attention of two very, if I do say so myself, beautiful women. Most men would love to be where you are now."
"That's assuming that the two women aren't psychotic, insane killers," Blair retorted. "Somehow I think that if anyone were in my place right now, they'd be feeling exactly what I'm feeling."
"And what's that, Pet?"
"Total loathing and contempt," Blair answered. "Not to mention complete and utter repulsion."
Walking over to Blair, Christina backhanded him across the face. "That's not a nice thing to say, Pet."
Wiping the blood from his face, Blair said, "But it is the truth."
Drawing her hand back again, Christina screamed, "Why you "
"Enough!" Alex yelled, halting Christina in mid-swing. "He's got to be able to talk when you're finished, Sis," she stated.
"Fine," Christina replied as she lowered her hand. Glancing down, she ordered, "Drop your arms." When Blair hesitated, she yelled, "DO IT!"
Dropping his arms, Blair fought the urge to flinch when Christina brought her hand up and placed it on his chest. Backing up as Christina advanced, Blair continued to walk backwards across the room until the back of his knees bumped against something. Grunting softly as Christina suddenly pushed him over, Blair braced himself for the anticipated impact that was sure to follow. He was surprised when he bounced slightly as he landed on the bed. Before he could move, Christina climbed up onto the bed and straddled his chest.
Placing her hands to either side of Blair's head, she leaned down and hovered over Blair. "What should we start with, huh? Any preferences?" Chuckling, she added, "Or suggestions?"
Barely breathing, Blair froze in place as Christina brought her face down to his and slowly licked the blood trickling down his chin. "You're sick!" he yelled.
"Yeah, and?" Christina replied with a laugh. Hands moving to fist in Blair's hair, she held his head captive and brutally kissed him.
Bucking upward in an attempt to dislodge Christina, Blair began to wildly thrash around on the bed. Bringing his hands up to Christina's shoulders, he violently shoved her off onto the floor.
Rushing forward, Alex knelt down beside her sister. "Christina!" Gently turning Christina over, Alex carefully examined the bruises already forming on her face. "Christina? Answer me." Softly, she called out, "Chris?"
Stirring, Christina slowly opened her eyes. Confused, she stared up at Alex. "Alex?" she whispered.
Glaring up at Blair, Alex said, "You shouldn't have done that, Blair." Standing up, she stepped past Christina. "Nobody hurts Christina. Nobody!" Lunging forward, she fell on Blair and wrapped her hands around his throat. Squeezing, she leaned down and hissed, "Nobody."
Spots dancing before his eyes, Blair futilely clawed at Alex's hands. Unable to dislodge them, he reached up to strike at her face. As his nails scratched her cheek, he began gasping, drawing in huge, painful breaths, when she released him.
Hand flying to her cheek, Alex remained lying on Blair and glared down at him. Leaning back slightly when Christina came to stand behind her, Alex pressed against her sister. Looking down as a knife suddenly appeared in front of her, Alex glanced back at Christina. Sharing a smile with her sister, she wrapped her hand around Christina's. Fingers entwined, they brought the knife down against Blair's flesh; both laughing when the resulting screams echoed throughout the cabin.
Leaning forward, Jim impatiently asked, "How much longer, Simon?"
"We're close, Jim," Simon answered.
"We've got to hur " Jim trailed off as he heard the roar of his spirit guide.
Beside Jim, Gibson jerked. "Was that "
"Yeah, it was," Jim confirmed.
"What's going on?" Simon asked.
"I think time is running out," Gibson stated.
"Just hurry, Simon," Jim said. "Hurry."
Several minutes later, Simon brought the car to a stop and announced, "I think we're here." Turning to Jim and Gibson, he ordered, "You two stay here. I mean it this time." Turing to Megan, he said, "Let's go."
Hearing the car doors open and then shut, Jim asked, "What do you see?"
"We must not be too close to the cabin because I can't see it," Gibson stated. "Banks and Connor are over there talking to that Smith guy. Looks like the sniper and SWAT guys are deploying. Some are moving off in different directions."
"I'm going to try and extend my hearing again," Jim said. "See if I can pick up on Sandburg."
"Go ahead," Gibson replied. "I'll watch your back."
Knowing it was unnecessary, but feeling the need to do it anyway, Jim closed his eyes as he dialed up his hearing. Immediately, he locked onto Blair; becoming instantly alarmed by the small moans of pain his partner was emitting. Eyes snapping open, he exclaimed, "We have to get to him!"
"Ellison?" Gibson yelled, reaching out a restraining hand as Jim tried to open the car door. "Talk to me! What did you hear?"
"They've hurt him," Jim yelled, struggling to break free from Gibson and get to Blair. "He's in pain!"
Leaning over, Gibson grabbed Jim's shoulders and slammed him back against the seat. "Just stop for a minute, Ellison. Just stop and think!" Relaxing his grip when Jim stopped struggling, he continued, "I could probably sneak past Banks and the others, but you can't. Tell me where he is and I'll go." Leaning close to Jim, he growled. "I'll go and get him back. And, I'll make them pay."
"They're about a half mile north of here," Jim informed Gibson. "Lock onto Sandburg's voice. It'll lead you straight to them."
"What if I zone?"
"Once you hear the pain in his voice, the anger will keep you from zoning," Jim replied. "Trust me, I know. Now focus and tune into Sandburg!"
Taking a deep breath, Gibson extended his hearing, searching for Blair. "I've got him," he yelled. Then, face hardening, he growled, "You're right. He's in pain."
"Just follow the sound," Jim repeated. "Follow it right to Sandburg."
Opening the car door, Gibson stated, "I will."
Pausing with one foot outside the car, Gibson asked, "What, Ellison?"
"Just make sure that you bring him back here," Jim warned.
"I will," Gibson promised. "After all this is where he belongs, isn't it? I know that now, Jim. He belongs here with you."
Nodding, Jim replied, "And I belong with him."
Without responding, Gibson exited the car and crept past Simon and the Tacoma officers. Tracking the sound of Blair's continued moans; Gibson began growling softly. Anger quickening his steps, he raced towards Blair's location.
Inside the cabin, unaware of the approaching men, Alex and Christina stood next to the bed and stared down at Blair. Hearing Blair moan, Christina remarked, "Well, he can still talk."
Laughing, Alex replied, "Yes, you did show amazing restraint. I'm proud of you, Sis. That is some very good work."
"Hey, you didn't do so bad yourself, ya know." Smiling at Alex, Christina suddenly stated, "I'm starving. What have we got to eat around here, anyway?"
"Well why don't you go find out for yourself," Alex suggested. "I'm going to go to the bathroom and clean up some." Glancing down at her clothes, she asked, "Do you think this blood will come out of my blouse?"
"I don't know," Christina answered. "Usually I don't wear any clothes when I play with someone, so I've never had to worry about it before."
"Smart move," Alex observed. "What about Blair here? Think we should tie him up or something?"
"Nah," Christina replied. "He's not going anywhere now."
"Whatever you say," Alex stated as she walked into the bathroom.
Tracing a finger down Blair's bloodied chest, Christina said, "Be right back, Pet." Then she turned and walked over to the small kitchen area.
Standing outside the cabin door, Gibson bristled when he heard the exchange between Alex and Christina. Continuing to listen, he waited until both Alex and Christina's attention was diverted before reaching for the slightly ajar door. Slowly pushing it open the rest of the way, Gibson crept up behind Christina. Reaching out, he grabbed a hold of her and, before she could even make a sound, he snapped her neck. With a feeling of extreme satisfaction, he dropped the body to the floor.
Turing around, intent on getting Alex, he started towards the bathroom but was unable to continue when he got near the bed. Looking down at Blair, his heart ached at the sight that greeted him. Reaching down, he gently brushed matted curls off of Blair's sweaty forehead.
"Blair," he whispered. "Can you hear me, Ace? It's me, Jon. I'm here. Everything's okay now."
Jerking back when he heard a voice say, "Isn't that just so sweet," Gibson turned to glare at the woman leaning against the wall, observing the interaction between Blair and himself.
"Alex, I presume."
"You seem to have me at a disadvantage," Alex stated. "You know me, but I don't know you."
"I'm a friend of Blair's and that's all you need to know," Gibson replied. "Well now that I think about it, there is probably one more thing you should know about me."
"Really?" Alex responded. "And what would that be?"
"I'm the guy that's going to kill you," Gibson informed her. "I'm also the guy that just got done snapping your sister's neck."
Eyes peering around Gibson, Alex let out a snarl when she saw Christina's body lying on the floor. "You son of a bitch! I'll kill you!" Screaming, she rushed towards Gibson, only to be brought up short by the sound of a gunshot. Staring down in disbelief, she saw the bloody hole in her chest. Looking up, she stared at her killed. "You!" She hissed before falling to the floor.
Standing in the doorway, Megan stared at the Alex's body for several seconds before lowering her gun. "I've been wanting to do that for a long time," she stated. Holstering her gun, she turned to look at Gibson. Seeing Blair, she exclaimed, "Sandy!" When Megan rushed forward to the bed, several officers, including Simon and Smith, walked into the cabin.
"Connor," Simon yelled, "What the hell " Trailing off as he spotted Blair, Simon whispered. "My God."
Beside him, Smith yelled, "We need a medic in here! Now!"
Several hours later, Jim was sitting by Blair's bedside. Tightening his grip on Blair's hand, he said, "We've been doing this too much lately, Chief. I don't know about you, but I think it might be time for us to make a few changes."
Leaning back slightly when he heard movement out in the hallway, Jim turned to face the door as it opened.
"Hey, Jim," Simon greeted as he walked into the room. "Any change yet?"
"None," Jim answered. "He's still unconscious."
Pulling over a chair, Simon sat down beside Jim. "What does the doctor say?"
"She thinks it's nothing to worry about," Jim replied. "With all of the pain meds, not to mention the shock, she says it's to be expected."
"What about his injuries?"
"Some of the cuts were pretty deep," Jim explained, "and he lost a lot of blood. But overall, the doc says that he was pretty lucky. If you call having your chest carved up lucky, that is."
"Since he's likely to be out for awhile, why don't you let me take you home," Simon suggested. "You could rest and get cleaned up some."
"I'm not leaving," Jim stated, his tone leaving no room for argument.
"I didn't really think that you would," Simon replied. "Do you mind some company?"
"No," Jim answered. After several second of quiet, he asked, "So what's going on with Gibson and Connor?"
"The Tacoma DA isn't going to pursue any charges," Simon informed Jim. "The killings were both ruled justifiable. They were both pretty shaken though so I told them to go get some rest. They're going to come by here later to check on Sandburg." Looking at Jim, Simon asked, "What's up with those two anyway? Watching them, they kind of reminded me of Oh, shit."
"That's right, Simon," Jim confirmed. "I think Gibson found himself a guide. If Connor agrees to it, that is."
"Well from what I saw," Simon said, "I don't think he'd have to try very hard to convince her." Clearing his throat, he added, "There's something else I need to talk to you about."
"Boone," Simon answered. "He's dead."
"Shit," Jim cursed.
"Yeah," Simon replied, "I know what you mean."
"What about the Feds?" Jim asked. "The case?"
"Seems they're going to let it go," Simon stated. "All of the bad guys are dead, so there is nobody left to prosecute anyway. Besides, I don't think they wanted the media to get a hold of the story. Can you imagine the press? I mean, a criminal managing to not only join the FBI but gets assigned to a case in which he is the one who's actually committing the killings? They'd have a field day with it."
"So the Feds want to just cover the whole thing up," Jim sarcastically remarked.
"I hate to agree with them, Jim," Simon said, "but all things considered, don't you think that would be the best thing for everyone involved?"
Sighing, Jim agreed, "I guess so." Stretching, Jim asked, "What else did you want to talk to me about, Simon?"
"How did you " Simon began. "On second thought, never mind. I don't want to know." Hesitantly, he said, "It's just I mean, your I don't know what to "
"Spit it out, Simon."
"Your sight," Simon finally said. "It's not back and "
"You were wanting to know if I think it's going to come back," Jim finished. "Right?"
"Yeah," Simon replied.
"I don't know what to tell you, Simon," Jim said. "I'm still blind and I don't know when, or if, that will change. Right now, I just need to focus on Sandburg. I've got to be there for him. Help him get through everything that's happened. All of this, everything with his friends' being killed and that Alan guy, everything with Alex and her sister, it's going to take time for him to process it all. Before we can make any decisions about the future, we have to deal with all of that first."
"You don't sound like you plan on coming back to the PD," Simon stated, "even if your sight does return."
"I don't know yet, Simon," Jim answered. "Right now, all we can do is take it one day at a time. Sandburg and I both have a lot of healing to do, physically as well as emotionally and spiritually. We've given everything of ourselves to protect and defend this city, our tribe, but now it's time for us to focus on ourselves. Now that Gibson's here, we've got someone we can entrust the tribe's safety with."
"You make it sound like you're I don't know passing on the torch or something," Simon stated.
"For a little while, at least," Jim replied.
"So your trust this Gibson guy?"
"Yeah, I do," Jim insisted.
"I don't know what to say, Jim."
"Just promise to watch out for Gibson and Connor like you have for Sandburg and me," Jim replied. "Help them keep our territory safe until we return."
"I will," Simon vowed. "I will."
"I know you will," Jim stated as he scooted forward and laid his head down on Blair's bed. "I know you will, Simon."
Resting a hand on Jim's back, Simon said, "Rest now, my friend. I'll be here to stand guard over both of you."
Nodding his head, Jim closed his eyes.
Opening his eyes, Jim found himself in a familiar forest setting. Scanning the area, he finally spotted the wolf and panther as they walked out from the bushes. Side by side, the two animals approached the human. Coming to a halt, they both sat; appearing to be waiting for something, they both stared on in amusement as Jim began to pace.
"Well, are you just going to sit there?" Jim asked the animals. "C'mon, guys, how about letting me in on what's going on, huh?"
When the wolf merely lowered himself all the way to the ground and the panther proceeded to lick the wolf's ear, Jim yelled, "Fine, be that way. It's not like I expected anything else. These damn visions "
Before Jim could finish, his attention was drawn to some rustling in the bushes. As he continued to stare, the white tiger slowly approached the clearing. Stopping, it turned and let out a soft roar before continuing over to the wolf and panther.
Watching the wolf and panther greet the tiger, Jim didn't notice the other new arrival that had been following the giant cat. Hearing a yip, he turned and saw a red fox come bounding over to join the other animals. Somehow instinctively knowing that he was seeing Megan Connor's spirit guide, Jim continued to watch as the animals all greeted one another.
Almost as soon as it began, the greeting was finished; the tiger and fox backing away as the panther and wolf got to their feet once again. Moving aside, the panther allowed the tiger to pass by him, seeming to cede his territory to the other feline. After the tiger and fox had disappeared, the panther and wolf began to walk off in a different direction. Stopping, they turned to look at Jim again. With a final roar, the panther turned and ran off with the wolf following closely behind him.
Awaking with a jerk, Jim sat up. Smiling as he heard Simon talking with Megan and Gibson out in the hallway, he reached out a hand and gently laid it on Blair's arm. "I don't know where we'll go from here, Chief," Jim whispered. "But wherever it may be, we'll go there together."