This story was written in response to a challenge on Suzie's page. Actually, this was the one I was suppose to write but Conquering Fear happened instead! Thank you, Suzie, for being so patient.
"This case is driving me nuts." Jim growled as he tossed the file he had been studying down on his desk, barely missing his startled partner. The detective was growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of leads in the case.
A Military transport had been hijacked a week before. Major Crimes had been called in when the Air Force's investigations division traced the stolen shipment of arms to Cascade. At that point all leads dried up.
"Come on man, I know it's frustrating but it can't be that bad." Blair said trying to calm his upset partner.
"All right, Chief, what is your suggestion?"
"I think it's time to eat. I'm starving." Jim showed a definite lack of interest. Blair decided to pull out the big guns. "I'll even spring for lunch at Wonder Burger." The big detective looked up with surprise.
"Wonder Burger, your treat?" Not quite believing his partners offer.
"Yeah, but you'd better get a move on before I change my mind." Blair said.
"I think I'll give Sneaks a call, and have him meet us at Wonder Burger. Maybe we can get some information from him."
Blair looked down at his feet. "Do we have time to stop at home so I can change?"
Jim knew the younger man was wearing one of his favorite pairs of shoes. "Sorry, Chief, but for the information we need we're going to give up something good."
"What's this 'we' stuff? I've never seen him take a pair of your shoes."
Jim smiled as they walked out the door. "What can I say, I don't have your good taste in footwear."
"You do know that I expect you to replace them, and they aren't cheap."
"I don't know, Chief, you spring for lunch and I have to pay for new shoes, doesn't seem quite fair." Jim said teasing.
"Two words, Jim. Wonder Burger."
"Man, I can't believe you can eat so much greasy food and not collapse with clogged arteries." Blair couldn't resist harassing Jim about his eating habits while they were waiting for Sneaks.
"You can't eat healthy all the time. Every once in a while you have to break down and eat something that tastes good." Jim said with a shrug. He spotted Sneaks in the doorway and waved him over.
The first thing Sneaks did was to take a look at Blair's feet. Raising an eyebrow he looked at Jim. "Must be something pretty important if you're willing to bring out the good stuff." The informant was almost drooling over the chance to get the younger man's shoes. "So what do you need?"
"What's the word on the street about the hijacked military transport?" Jim asked. He heard Sneaks' heartrate go through the roof. The informant kept looking at Blair's shoes as if trying to decide how badly he wanted them.
"Okay, all I know is that a shipment of some very interesting weapons and explosives are about to hit the streets. Rumor has it that some of the stuff has military I.D. numbers."
"Have you heard where the sale is going to take place?"
Sneaks nodded. "This Thursday, in the warehouse near Mission and 12th street." Blair was already taking off his shoes, not waiting for the prompting from his partner. As he handed them to Sneaks, the informant warned them. "Be very careful. I heard talk that they have someone on the inside." He quickly left with his prize.
"Did he say what I thought he said?" Blair asked.
"It's just like we thought, someone on the military side has been in on the heist from the beginning, and if it's one of the Military cops, it's no wonder the leads dried up."
"Great! What do we do now?" The younger man asked.
"First thing we need to do is to update Simon. Then he will probably call in the DEA agent who is working their side of the case." They both knew that once the DEA had the information they would be cut out of the case.
Blair pulled a pair of tennis shoes from his backpack. He caught Jim's amused look. "Hey, I've learned...always carry extras. I never know when I might be called on for donations to the cause."
Everything went as Jim predicted. They informed Simon as soon as they returned to the station.
"Come on Simon, can't we keep this in house? Let me develop the info I have. We can do this, Captain." Jim said emphatically.
You know better than that, Jim. We don't have the manpower we would need to take down the warehouse." Simon tried to talk sense into his best detective.
"This really sucks. You know they will cut us out of everything."
The big captain sighed, "Another country heard from. Listen, you two; this is out of my hands."
Jim backed off unwillingly. "I know, but I don't have to like it."
With in thirty minutes of Simon's call, DEA agent Richards and his entourage of three junior agents swept into Major Crimes. They were directed to the captain's office. They entered without knocking, interrupting Jim's final plea.
"Captain Banks?" Simon identified himself. "I am agent-in-charge Richards. I require all of the materials you have thus far pertaining to this case." He demanded. The Major Crimes detectives looked at each other in disbelief. "Which one is Ellison?"
Jim stepped forward. "I'm Ellison."
"You will turn over everything you learned from your informant about the arms sale, and this includes the name of the this so-called informant."
It seemed as if the everyone held their breath, waiting for the big detective's reaction. They watched the muscles in his jaw flex. Detective Brown quietly started taking bets. (The odds were even as to whether the agent would back down or whether the detective would knock him out.)
"Excuse me, would you please repeat what you just said?" Jim couldn't believe what he had just heard.
The arrogant Agent stepped closer. "Detective, you must be slow." He poked Jim in the chest. "I said, (poke) turn over the informant." He moved to push Jim again. The Detective grabbed the Agent's wrist and began to apply pressure. (It was later agreed that if it hadn't been for Sandburg, Ellison would have killed the obnoxious agent.)
"Jim." Blair whispered from behind his angry partner. "You can't kill him here... to many witnesses... Let's wait until we can catch him alone... I promise I'll help hide the body... It'll give me a chance to use those tribal body disposal techniques."
The whispered words and the hand against his back stopped him from breaking the officious agent's wrist. Jim leaned toward the shorter agent.
"I will not turn over the name of any informant...especially to you." He released the agent's arm and walked out of the captain's office with his partner close behind. Richards started to follow the pair, sputtering with anger. He was stopped when the even larger Captain stepped in front of him.
"You have all of the information you need from us. I would not advise any further harassment of Detective Ellison. Good day, gentlemen." Simon struggled to be polite as he ushered the agent's out to the elevator.
When the doors closed on their visitors, Blair turned back to his partner. "Was that guy for real or what?"
"Unfortunately every agency has a few of his type." Simon said, overhearing the younger man's comment.
"Can he cause any trouble?" Blair asked concerned for his friends.
"No, I don't think he will bother. He will be occupied with the warehouse raid and what he hopes will be a truck load of publicity." Jim reassured his partner.
"He's going to screw it up, isn't he?" was the next question.
"I hope not, but with the way this guy acts, I don't think he will listen, not even to the experts on his own team."
"All we can do is wait and see." Simon added.
News of the disastrous raid blasted over the police radios and the 911 switchboard was flooded with calls:
"Reports of a fire fight at Mission and 12th, proceed with caution."
"911, state the nature of your emergency."
"Please send the cops, it sounds like a warzone down here."
"Agents down. Request assistance from all available agencies."
"What is your location sir."
"Mission and 12th."
"The police are on their way, Please stay away from the area..."
"Ambulances requested at Mission and 12th"
"Scene is secure, EMT's are cleared to the scene"
"Notify the Coroner and Forensics."
The reports the next day revealed that the stolen shipment was accounted for except for fifty pounds of plastic explosives. The Casualty list included four DEA agents and two civilian bystanders.
During the next two weeks, all leads to the missing explosives and their suspects dried up.
"Hey Jim, did you hear what happened to Richards?" Brown asked one afternoon.
"Should I care?" Jim asked preferring not to remember the incompetent agent.
"It looks like he's going to be demoted, pending a hearing on the raid."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy." Jim stated.
Brown looked around. "Where's Hairboy?"
"He's proctoring tests today."
"Sometimes I forget he has another job. He always seems to be around." Brown laughed. "I just wish I had half of the Kid's energy."
"Yeah, that pink bunny has nothing on him, he just keeps..." Jim was interrupted when Simon burst out of his office shouting orders.
"Attention people. We have a situation at the Harbor Bridge. Someone called in anonymous tip that the bridge has been wired with explosives." He raised his hand to forestall any questions. "That is all I have on the situation. We don't know how many bombs or where they have been planted so we need every pair of eyes to help locate them." Simon looked over to Joel Taggert. Simon took a deep breath and walked over to the newest transfer to Major Crimes. "I know you transferred out of the bomb Squad to get away from this, but we really need your expertise."
Joel looked up. "I guess we'd better get moving. Don't worry. Everything will be fine." The big detective reassured his Captain.
Before leaving, Simon pulled Jim off to the side. "Jim, I have a feeling we're going to need your abilities on this one. Do you think you will have any problems without Sandburg backing you up?" Simon asked concerned.
"There shouldn't be any problem, Captain. If I do zone, he's only a few miles away. I don't want to call him away from the University unless it's an emergency. His classes are testing today." Jim explained.
"Okay, Jim, it's your call. Just be careful." Simon told him as they left Major Crimes.
Blair sat in his office enjoying a few minutes of peace and quiet before the next round of testing. He took a quick glance at the previous class' answer sheets. He wondered why some of them were even bothering to take the test considering the lack of understanding evidenced by that morning's work.
Blair was distracted by a flicker of movement on his right. He turned to look but couldn't see anything. He turned back to the papers on his desk. The young Guide heard a deep growl and out of the corner of his eye, saw the panther.
"Oh, man." He grabbed his pack and cell phone and rushed out the door. He had reached his car when his phone rang.
"Sandburg!" Simon's voice blasted in the young man's ear. "I need for you to meet me at the Harbor Bridge."
"What happened to Jim?" Blair demanded as he climbed into his car and started speeding to the bridge.
"I think he's zoned. I can't get any response from him."
"Did you try shaking him out of it?" Blair asked trying to get an idea of how deeply his Sentinel was zoned.
"I think you are the only one who can get him out of this one. I'll explain everything when you get here."
Blair could hear the worry in the big Captain's voice. His foot pressed harder on the gas pedal as he sped to the bridge. Within a few minutes he reached the cordoned off bridge. Rafe was waiting for Blair and escorted the younger man directly to Simon.
"Where is he?" Blair demanded looking up at the Captain. Simon turned the smaller man and pointed. "Oh, shit!" Blair saw one of his worst nightmares come to life. Jim had zoned sitting at the edge of one of the bridge supports. "Simon, what is he holding?" He had a feeling he knew; he just wanted confirmation.
"Yeah," Simon sighed. "It's one of the bombs. Jim spotted it and climbed out onto the support. I don't have a clue as to why he zoned. He was doing fine."
"Why was Jim out there to begin with? I mean it's not like you guys are the Bomb Squad." Blair asked as he tried to figure out a way to help his partner.
"There were only five bombs left. We were rotating a few at a time in case it was a trap. Joel was talking them through the disarming procedure; all of the bombs were the same. We couldn't go out and shake him because the trigger is a mercury switch and we don't know how far he got disarming it." Simon explained.
Blair looked down over the side of the bridge. He could feel his stomach clench with fear. Simon was regretting having to call the kid in. The younger man had turned deathly pale and had started to shake. Simon had forgotten how bad the kid's fear of heights really was.
Blair looked at the Captain with a wry grin. "Well, now I know why shaking wasn't an option."
"You don't have to do this. We can find another way." Simon was worried that Blair would get out there and freeze right alongside his partner.
Blair looked at the Captain. "There is no other way." The young observer patted Simon's arm. "Don't worry. Everything will work out."
Blair turned away from the Captain and climbed out past the cables that were strung along the sides of the bridge intended to keep all but the most dedicated jumper off the edge. He carefully climbed down to the bridge support. His sole focus was his partner's back. Remembering Simon's warning about the motion sensitive bomb, Blair started talking before starting to crawl toward his partner. If everything worked right, Jim would come out of the zone gradually.
"Jim, I need you to listen to me." Blair said calmly. "Focus on my voice." He crawled closer. "I have to tell you that I am like so not thrilled to be up here. This is not like climbing a tree to retrieve a suit coat. You never did explain why I had to climb that tree." Blair shook his head slightly. "Have you made it your mission in life to get me past this fear thing? Well, I can tell you it's not working. You know I have a thing about heights and you insist on zoning in high places." Blair stopped for a second and glared at Jim's back. "If I ever find out you've been reading those Psych books about removing fears by 'flooding', I will flood you with tests. Hmm, maybe that wouldn't be a bad idea." Blair reached his partner and placed his hand gently on the big man's back.
"Okay, Jim, I want you to follow my voice back. Focus on my hand touching your back and my voice." Blair kept his voice pitched low. The last thing he wanted to do was startle the other man. "I don't know what you zoned on but it's time to come out of it. I'm really getting nervous sitting out here." Blair closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against Jim's back, continuing to speak while battling his fear.
The gray feeling that mentally surrounded the Sentinel began to lift. He gradually came out of the zone. He could hear his Guide's voice and feel the reassuring hand on his back. Jim looked down at the box in his hands. He was very careful not to move.
"Hey, Chief, you okay back there?" he asked his very stressed Guide.
"Oh, yeah, I'm doing just great. This is definitely the way I like spending my afternoons." Blair took a deep breath and began to relax knowing that Jim was with him once more. "Are you about done with that thing?"
Jim looked down at the bomb. He remembered why he zoned and didn't even want to think about the tests the younger man would devise to keep it from happening again. With Blair to anchor him, he quickly finished disarming the bomb.
"Okay, it's safe." Jim informed his partner. He could feel the hand that had rested on his back while he was working had a death grip on his shirt. "You can relax now. We can head back to the others." He felt Blair shake his head against his back.
"Can't do it, I'd have to turn around." Blair muttered. Now that the crisis was over, the fears that he had held back in order to help his partner crashed over him.
"Blair, I want you to listen to me. Are you listening?" Jim felt the younger man nod. "You need to trust me and do what I tell you to do, understand?"
"You need to scoot back about a foot so I can turn around." Jim explained.
"I can do that." Blair sat up, keeping his eyes on Jim as he shifted backwards. Jim turned and was now facing his young partner. It never failed to impress upon the Sentinel how serious Blair was about being his Guide. He had been more afraid of failing to help Jim than of his fear of heights. It was only when Jim was safe the younger man's fears returned.
"Look at me, Chief" Blair looked up and Jim could see the fear warring with the trust for his 'blessed protector'. I want you to take a deep breath." Blair quickly followed his instructions. "Keep looking at me and start moving back toward the bridge." To keep Blair distracted Jim decided to tell him about the zoneout.
"I was listening to Joel and had started to disarm the bomb when I felt the Mercury in the switch shift and started to focus on it. I could feel that I was starting to zone so I focused on the smell. Big mistake. It seemed like I could recognize the scent. It was like C-4 but it seemed off. So I started to zone again. It was like being caught in a loop. I knew I was zoning on both scent and touch and I couldn't stop it."
Blair's eyes widened. Jim could almost see the wheels turning in the younger man's mind. He could hear Blair begin muttering about tests.
"Once we get out of here you can worry about tests. For right now, I want you to do exactly what I tell you. I don't want to zone again so I need you to watch out for it." Blair nodded in agreement. Following Jim's instructions his young partner inched his way backwards until his back pressed against the bridge itself.
"Okay Chief, I want you to carefully stand up." Once Blair was standing Jim handed him the disarmed bomb. "Turn around slowly and hand it up to Joel." The older man stood behind his partner holding him steady. "You ready to get on solid ground?"
"Man, I am way past ready." Blair answered.
"Then hang on." Jim warned his partner as he boosted him up and over the edge. He followed climbing up over the side with Simon's help. Jim walked over to where his partner was sitting. "You okay, Chief?" He said as he knelt down beside Blair.
"Yeah, I'm okay." Blair looked up. "Sorry I was such a wuss out there."
Jim shook his head. "I didn't see a wuss. I saw someone who, in spite of his fear, came out to help. Nope, definitely doesn't fit my definition of a wuss." He smiled down at his partner. "Come on we've got work to do. We have to track down where the people who escaped from the raid on the warehouse. I hope we can get some information from the bomb casings, because there is a lot more where this came from." He helped the younger man to his feet.
"You mean you can tell who made a bomb by how it's put together?" Blair asked leaning over Joel Taggert's shoulder fascinated by the impromptu lesson. Apparently Blair had recovered from earlier events, although Joel noticed that he hadn't gone out of Jim's contact range since the bridge.
"Well, I know that this guy learned his craft in the army." Joel pointed out the way the wires were twisted. "Something about this configuration looks so familiar... I just can't place it." The former Bomb Squad captain was growing frustrated by his inability to remember.
"Don't worry, Joel, it'll come to you, just don't push it." Blair reassured the big man. He quietly asked Joel questions about the different parts of the bomb. Guiding him to the elusive memories. Jim just sat back and listened as his young guide worked his magic.
Joel smacked his head. "I've got it." He grabbed the phone and asked the first person he reached in the Bomb Squad office to pull the best picture they could find of the Bay Area Bomber. "There was a guy about four years ago who pulled off a series of bombings in the Bay Area. We found a suspect but he skipped before we could gather enough evidence to arrest him." Joel explained. Within minutes the picture was in Joel's hand. He handed it over to Jim.
Jim looked at it closely. "This guy looks very familiar. What do you think, Chief?"
"Oh man, I don't believe it, This is one of the visiting professors. What's his name? Come on, Sandburg, think." Blair paced back and forth trying to remember. "I've got it." He tapped the picture. "This is Jackson Elliot, supposedly a professor of Ancient History."
"Good work, Chief. Let's go pick him up." As they left Forensics, Joel called for the arrest warrant.
Elliott didn't know what hit him. One minute he was in his borrowed office preparing a lecture, the next he was being handcuffed by a very angry looking detective.
"Why am I being arrested. I demand to know why I am standing here handcuffed."
"Mr. Elliott, you are under arrest for the attempted bombing of the Harbor Bridge." Jim informed him. And handed him over to Brown and Rafe letting them read Elliott his rights. They were all looking forward to the interrogation.
Jim took the warrant they were issued for Elliott's house. He and Blair with the forensics team searched the house. Elliot had cleaned up after his activities it wasn't good enough. With Blair to keep him grounded Jim was able to locate traces of explosive and wire clippings. They gathered the evidence and returned to the station. Blair stayed in the viewing area while Jim went in to confront Elliott.
Jim heard the man's heart start to pound when he tossed down one of the bags of clippings. The detective pulled up a chair opposite their suspect.
"Well Elliott, you are up that proverbial creek. We can tie you to the bombs on the Harbor Bridge and the Bay Area bombings four years ago. The only chance you have to stay off death row is the identity of your supplier." Jim sat back in his chair. "Give him up and you will still go to jail but it will only be for life. Keep quiet and we will hold charges pending the outcome of your trial in California." Elliott refused to look up. "The choice is yours. Remember, in California you will be facing the families of your victims. Yeah, I can see that translating to a Death sentence." Jim stood. "You have ten minutes to reach a decision." Jim said as he walked out the door.
As he walked into the viewing area, he could hear Elliott muttering under his breath.
"Damn you, Richards. I'd hang you out to dry if I didn't think you could get me out of this. I could give up Col. Martin. He never met Richards, but then I'd be saying I did it." Elliott continued to mutter but Jim had the information he needed.
"What did he say?" Blair asked impatiently. Simon was acting equally impatient.
"He just gave up a Col. Martin and our favorite DEA agent."
They knew Richards was an incompetent cop but they hadn't guessed that he was a dirty one as well. Jim waited the promised ten minutes and returned to the interrogation room.
"So, Elliott, what's your answer." Jim waited a moment. "Too bad. Your time is up and the offer is off the table. I'll make sure you have a cell near Richards."
"Wait." Elliott yelled panicked. You said I would only get life if I gave you my supplier."
"Like I said...it's too late. We already know about Col. Martin."
The fear was now apparent in Elliott's eyes; Jim didn't even need to use his senses to see it. Elliott had been so confident he would get off he had waived a lawyer when one was offered, and now he was so panic stricken he didn't even think of it. His mouth started running like a faucet. He was trying to convince the Detective not to turn him over to California authorities. Elliott provided dates and times of meetings, amounts of payoffs and bank account numbers. Everything they needed to make the charges against the other two sticks. And it was all captured on tape.
Jim smiled as he left the room. He was looking forward to Richards' arrest.
"Man, it's amazing how things turn out." Blair said reaching into the refrigerator for a couple of beers. "Who would have thought Richards would put up a fight?" He settled down on the couch next to his partner. "It's too bad he won't stand trial with Elliott and Martins for the deaths of the DEA agents."
"Yeah, but it saves the taxpayers money." Jim said.
Blair handed a beer to Jim. Taking a drink, he turned to his partner.
"Now about those tests you promised me..."
Text: Copyright © 1998, Trish Wilcox