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Flight: A Missing Scene
“Ready, Chief?” James Ellison unconsciously stood at attention by the front door. His mind was already on the logistics of the mission – find and rescue Simon and Daryl Banks.
“I can’t find my passport!” Blair’s voice came from his room. “I know I just had it a minute ago.”
“It’s right here.” Jim could not help the smile. He glanced down at the offending document, flipping through it curiously. The battered, worn passport was almost soft from use and abuse. The covers were creased, bent, and stained; the pages they protected were literally covered with stamps, notes, and official markings. Then he noticed the information inside the front cover. “Sandburg, you can’t use this passport!”
A head appeared in the doorway, curly hair flying in all directions, blue eyes bewildered. “Why not?”
“It’s expired.” Jim went over to Blair’s door, his eyes scanning the neatly ordered chaos inside. He had to admit, the younger man kept his stuff neat – but the organization made absolutely no sense to the sentinel.
“Huh. Oh. Okay.” Blair darted back into his room only to reappear with a cigar box. He handed it to Jim and went back to backing his bag. “It’s one of these.”
Jim blinked, looking at the box in astonishment. These? The kid had multiple passports? It was with sincere trepidation that the sentinel opened the cigar box. He seriously doubted Sandburg would hand him anything illegal, like false passports, so this had to be his form of a safety deposit box. Several passports were held together with a rubber band. The moment he touched them, the rubber band broke. He let his fingers search for the newest passport while he read the first one.
“Find it?” Blair was rapidly filing away a sheaf of papers into a portable file box. “I have to do now is drop this off at the university before we leave.”
“Naomi took you to Nepal when you were only a month old?”
“Yeah. She had me blessed in one of the ancient temples.” Blair snapped a tiny lock on the file box and stood. “We must have traveled to just about every major holy site in the world.”
Jim’s fingers easily picked out the newest of Blair’s passports. A quick glance inside confirmed that this one was valid. Paper clipped inside it was a narrow blue medical card listing all Blair’s vaccinations, preventative shots, booster shots, and naturally occurring immunities. The list was frighteningly complete. Closing the dark blue cover on the two lonely pages of stamps and markings, Jim reached out and tucked it into Blair’s shirt pocket. “Don’t lose it.”
“No way, man.” Blair tapped the passport, suddenly serious. “I still have every one of these babies. No matter where I’ve been or with whom I’ve been traveling, my passports have never, ever been lost or left behind. Even when I was traveling with university groups as a freshman, no one else handled my paperwork but me.”
Jim looked up from the passport in his free hand. His sensitive fingertips caressed the soft, worn paper, tracing the indentations from 1987. During the summer Blair had gone to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Australia, returning only a few days before the start of the fall semester. “You don’t mind?”
“What? That you’re curious?” The bright blue eyes grinned at him. The younger man exuded a sense of calm again. “If you want to know, ask.”
“Why do you trust me with them if you don’t trust anyone else?”
“You’re a sentinel, man. If I can’t trust you, who can I trust?” The smile on Blair’s face almost burned in its intensity.
“You’ve really been to all the places you talk about.” Jim almost grinned at the stamp for Blair’s entry into Irian Jaya. He’d always thought Blair had made up that story.
“I don’t lie to many people and never to you. I might stretch a point here or there, but the details are all true.” Blair was serious again. He shouldered his backpack. “I’ve never, ever lied to you. The details might be a little different, but that’s it.”
Jim nodded. He wondered about the things he had overheard Blair say when confronting criminals like Kincaid. The bundle of passports he had overlooked answered his question. These were not American passports. They were Israeli.
“Dual citizenship?” Jim did not look up this time.
“Yeah.” Blair reached for the cigar box. He picked up the Israeli passports and fingered them. He pulled the last one from the stack and opened it. It was several years old. “Technically, I can go back anytime. All I have to do is show this and I’m welcome to return. Once a Jew, always a Jew is the motto. I like where I am.”
“You decided to keep your American citizenship when you turned twenty-one.” Jim finished the statement.
“Mom was not thrilled about it. She had to ‘process’ it for a while.” Blair shrugged. “I’m ready.”
Jim handed him the box, half expecting it to disappear into the backpack. Instead it was thrust back at him.
“We’ve got to stop by your safety deposit box, right? Can we put them in there while we’re in Peru?”
Jim felt as if he had just hit a brick wall. Sandburg had been adamant that no one else ever handled those passports. They were an easy way out, something like a ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card. Israel would let him return anytime he wanted. Proving who he was without the passports would take time and might cause problems. It could be done, but they represented the easiest method of leaving. For Blair to ask him to put them in his safety deposit box meant something. It was a show of trust, of faith.
“You sure you want me to hang onto them?” Jim had to give the younger man another chance to bow out.
“I trust you, Jim. Just don’t lose them.”
“I won’t.” Jim turned, heading for the door. He was going to have some thinking to do about this whole thing. In some ways, Blair was an open book. In others, he was more confusing than a manual written in ancient Greek. For now, though, they had something else to worry about – their friends. “Let’s go find Simon.”
“I bet we find Daryl first.”
“What makes you say that?”
“All you have to do is focus on his walkman.” Blair quipped. “You’re always complaining Daryl plays his music too loud.”