Jim walked into Major Crimes with a bounce in his step. He had managed to get to the shower before his roommate. It had been great to have a hot shower. //Too bad the kid overslept.// Jim chuckled at the thought. One thing for sure, the cold water had woke him up if the yelp he heard was any indication. He knew how much his young partner hated the cold, in any shape or form.
Blair had been grumpy, sending glares of reproach at his smug partner. His mood improved as he warmed up. Jim had made sure he had a cup of hot tea waiting when he got to the table. The detective knew his Guide was only going to the University for a half day. Jim looked forward to having help with the stack of paperwork on his desk. Even though it was Blair's night to cook, he planned to treat him to the new vegetarian restaurant in town. He wanted to show the young man that he did appreciate how he helped him out. He didn't want Blair to think he was taking him for granted.
The day seemed to be going fairly well. Everyone was catching up on the mountains of paperwork the past month had generated. It had seemed as every criminal in the western world decided to visit Cascade. Jim started listening for his Guide, expecting him to bounce into the bullpen any moment.
At 12:01 every computer in Major Crimes went blank. The detectives looked at the screens and then each other, just as they were about to call down to complain, words began to scroll across the screen.
'HAVE YOU SEEN THESE PEOPLE?'
The words were followed by five pictures and the words.
Silence reigned, Jim stood and raced to the Captain's office, bursting in without knocking.
"Simon, you need to get out here and see this!'
"What is it?" Simon asked, already heading for the door. It had to be important for Ellison to just burst in and call him by his first name. Jim all but pulled him out of his office and gestured at the computer screen.
"What the hell....Oh my god." Where the only words the big man was able to say when he saw his son Daryl's picture on the monitor. It took a moment for him to register the remaining faces on the screen. He looked up at his detectives. They all looked stunned, as one they all headed to the phones praying what they were thinking was wrong. One by one they gathered around Ellison's desk. Simon could see the worry and anger on the faces of his men. The youngest member of each detective's family had been kidnapped.
They had Simon's son Daryl, Joel's daughter Tiffany, Rafe's sister Jenny, Brown's three year old little girl Arianna, and Jim's young partner Blair Sandburg.
Simon pulled himself together and assigned each of the detectives' one of the other's family member. He didn't want Headquarters to shut them out because the detectives were all personally involved in the case. It wasn't a case of their not trusting other officers; it was just that they trusted each other more. Simon notified the powers that be, knowing the FBI would be called in because of the children. The Captain wanted to make sure he dotted every I and crossed every T so they wouldn't have any excuse to pull them off of the case.
Earlier that day
Blair wasn't happy. He had just gone through the office hours from hell. //They must all take stupid pills.// Blair thought as the last of his student meetings ended and the still clueless freshman meandered his way out of the office. Blair gave a deep sigh and looked at the clock. He was actually looking forward to going to his 'other job'. Even doing paperwork was better than trying to get through to people with the intelligence of rocks. He gathered his books and papers needing to be graded and headed out the door.
The young man tried to juggle books, his keys, and open the recalcitrant lock. //Maybe I should take Jim's suggestion and trade this pain in the butt in.// He was so focused on the car he didn't see the van pulling up beside him until it was too late. When the side door opened, Blair turned to chew out the reckless driver for pulling in so close. The words stuck in his throat when he was greeted by a very large gun aimed at his face.
"Oh man, not again. This is like *so* not cool." he muttered to himself. Blair looked past the gun to the face of its owner. The young man turned pale when he recognized the gunman as Charles Lisky.
Lisky had been the mastermind behind a series of high profile kidnappings in the Northwest. There hadn't been a discernible pattern to the abductions that ranged from Portland to Vancouver; sometimes the victims were released and others were killed but no one had been able to provide a description. Law enforcement officials had been stumped. It wasn't until he hit Cascade that all the loose ends were tied together.
Detective Ellison had noticed a scent out of place in the Cascade victim's room. With his Guide's help he was able to track it down. The kidnapper had left a trace of an expensive special blend lotion on the window sill. The Sentinel and Guide researched businesses selling specialized lotions. Using his senses Jim was able to break down the ingredients. The second business they contacted recognized the blend, and gave them the addresses of the client who had ordered it. Seeing how often the person had changed his address, Jim followed a hunch and contacted the departments closest to the addresses. He wanted to know if they had any unsolved kidnappings. The final total was twenty seven.
Blair had been at the University the day the lotion company notified them with a new address for the kidnapper. The task force, including the two FBI agents Willis and Morrison, surrounded the house. With Simon standing watch, Jim focused his hearing on the house listening for the occupants. He heard the heartbeats of three people, Two steady and slow, the other beating as fast as hummingbird's wings. Jim quietly told Simon that the child was in a back room, and the kidnappers in the front.
Using the information, Simon directed the assault on the house. Jim was directed to get the boy out as quickly as possible. They burst into the house taking Lisky's partner by surprise. Jim caught Lisky when he tried to get to the boy to use him as a shield in order to escape. They had arrived in time; the boy was safe and returned to his relieved parents.
Each of the detectives had their chance to testify at the trial. They all expected threats, but Lisky just sat through the proceedings glaring at each detective as they testified. Hatred was broadcast at each one, but he never spoke. The detectives hadn't cared. They were all just happy to get the scum off the streets.
//He must have been waiting and planning this since he was arrested.// Blair thought as he was forced into the van. His eyes widened when he saw the others huddled together. The only person not handcuffed was the little one, Arianna, who was curled up against Tiffany Taggert. The kids all looked to be in their own worlds. Blair had a feeling they were all in shock. Arianna looked up when the door slammed shut.
"Uncle Bear!" she cried as she launched herself at him, burrowing under his cuffed hands to be in the circle of his arms. He was thankful his hands were cuffed in front or else the little girl would have knocked him on his butt. He held her close while she cried.
"Sh-h, baby, it's going to be okay." He tried to calm her. She pulled back and stared at him.
"I scared, want go home."
"I know, baby. You know your daddy and uncle Jim and everyone will find us. You will get to go home soon, I promise." He reassured her, rocking her as her sobs quieted and she fell asleep in her 'Bear's' arms. The teenagers gathered closer to their friend and began to speak in whispers, trying not to attract the attention of Lisky or his cohorts.
"How did they get all of you?" Blair asked.
Tiffany answered for all of them since she had been the first to be abducted. "I was taken right outside my house when I left to go to school. They got Jenny and Daryl when they were on their way." Daryl hung his head ashamed he had been captured so easily.
Blair looked at the young man. "Daryl, there wasn't anything you could have done." He could tell his words weren't having any effect. "Come on, man. They got me, too. You didn't see me trying to take them on, so give it a rest." Blair turned to Tiffany when he saw his words had the desired affect on the proud young man. "How did they get Arianna?" He knew the child was watched almost every minute of the day.
"They waited until the sitter put her down for her morning nap." Tiffany shook her head. "They took her out of her bed just ten minutes before they grabbed you."
"Have they said anything?" Blair asked.
Daryl spoke up, "I heard them say 'this would be the best game ever'. The tall one," Daryl gestured to Lisky, "said it would be fun to watch the detectives from major crimes chasing their tails." Blair knew the words hadn't been as clean, but he got the gist of it.
The kids all gathered even closer to Blair for the comfort. He tried to calm their fears while doing battle with his own. He felt it the minute His Sentinel became aware his Guide was in danger — a low growl was sounding in the back of his mind.
Simon could see the muscles in Ellison's jaw clench tighter and tighter as he watched the words scroll under the five pictures. The new message was on a continuos repeat.
CATCH US IF YOU CAN!!!!!
All of the detectives had returned. The tension in the bullpen was almost visible. It had been three hours since Blair, the last victim, had been taken. They grew frustrated without any leads as to who could have taken their youngest. A board was set up with all of the information they had so far, which looked pitifully slim. Each picture had the location from which each person had been kidnapped, and the limited information from the so-called witnesses had been able to provide. They had DMV searching the database for all dark blue panel vans registered in the state. The van had been spotted at three of the five kidnapping sites. It wasn't much, but it was the only lead they had.
Agent Willis and Morrison were assigned by the local FBI office to assist with the investigation. Willis had dealt with Major Crimes numerous times in the past and had a deep respect for the detectives, especially Jim Ellison. The man had the best solve rate in Cascade. The second agent, Morrison, was relatively new. He had been on the outside edge of the Lisky investigation, and had not paid much attention to the local cops who had been on the task force.
Simon motioned for Agent Willis to join him in his office. Morrison stood in front of the board looking at the small amount of information they had accumulated. "If I were in charge, this case would probably be solved," the agent said under his breath not knowing that the detective seated behind him could hear every word. Jim walked up to stand beside the obnoxious agent.
"What's the connection between the victims?" Morrison asked.
With that question Jim knew the agent hadn't been briefed by Willis. Knowing Willis as well as he did, Jim guessed the older agent was testing the newbie.
"They are all the youngest family members of major crimes detectives." Jim could see the agent connecting the victims' names and faces with the detectives he had met on his way into Major Crimes. He stopped at Sandburg's picture. The name sounded familiar but he couldn't connect him to anyone he had met. Morrison turned to Ellison and tapped Blair's picture.
"Who does the hippie belong to?" A hush fell over the room. Morrison looked around in confusion at the sudden silence. He looked at Ellison for an answer, and looked into the coldest blue eyes he had ever seen. A chill ran down his spine. He had a feeling he had royally screwed up.
"The hippie belongs to me." Jim stated coldly. "He is my partner and my family." He knew what conclusion the agent would probably arrive at but he didn't care. He was already having problems maintaining his senses due to the stress of his Guide being in danger. The last thing he was going to put up with was a pain in the ass FBI agent getting in his way.
Agent Willis and Simon Banks had witnessed the exchange and were making a bet as to whether or not Morrison would be conscious after Ellison got through with him. Morrison was rescued by the arrival of a package for the detectives in Major Crimes. No one was surprised to see a videotape.
They all moved to the conference room to view it. Jim heard the gasps when each of the men saw their loved one on the tape. They were all together in a small room. Arianna was asleep in Tiffany's arms. Daryl was holding Jenny. All of the kids were as close to Blair as they could get. Jim focused on his guide. He could see his guides mouth barely moving. He dialed up his hearing, filtering out all sounds except his partner's voice.
"Jim, we were kidnapped by Lisky and two others." Blair said only loud enough for his Sentinel to hear. Simon saw the big detectives jaw clench and his face pale. He could tell by the slight tilt of Jim's head that he was listening using his senses. Simon rested his hand on Jim's shoulder gently rubbing to give him a secondary focus, trying to do what he had seen Sandburg do so many times to keep the big man from zoning.
"The license number is G4B 297. I didn't get a look at the address, but we are somewhere in the Walking Hills subdivision. You know, the one you said looked like matchboxes on steroids." Jim remembered the area; they had a case there a couple of months ago. "We are all okay, just a bit scared. No one has been hurt." Jim could here 'yet' in his young partner's voice. "When we pulled into the drive I heard bells. I think it might have been a school." Jim could hear Blair's heartrate increase. "Lisky is coming over here."
Jim watched and saw the back of a man's legs as he stood in front of the kids. A big hand reached out and grabbed Blair by the hair lifting him to his feet. They could all see the pain in the young man's face. They still hadn't seen the face of the kidnapper. For the moment Jim was the only one who knew the awful truth.
"Ellison, they are all safe for now." the voice announced. "We are going to play a game. It is called catch us if you can. We will keep this game between ourselves. If we see any mention of the game in the media, I'm going to start playing with your little pet." Lisky pulled out a knife and slowly drew it down Blair's face. A fine line beading with blood followed in the wake of the knife blade. They could hear the children crying. Jim saw the pain and determination on his partner's face as he stood absolutely still, not allowing himself to make a sound. Jim almost zoned on the sight of blood, only Simon's grip on his shoulder prevented it.
"We will contact you in four hours to give you more rules of the game." He turned and pushed Blair to the floor. The screen went blank.
Simon looked at Jim and asked. "Why does that voice sound familiar?"
A bleak look settled over Jim's face. "It's Lisky." Jim stated, he could see renewed fear for their loved ones on the faces of the other detectives. Simon looked at Jim questioningly. Jim gave him a slight nod and left the conference room. He called up the license number on the computer and within moments had an address.
Jim returned to the conference room and pulled his captain to the side. "Simon, I have an address from the license number Blair gave me." He shook his head at the flare of hope in his friends eyes. "They aren't there. Blair told me they are being held in the Walking Hills subdivision. The license address is here in the city."
Simon gained the attention of the other detectives. "We just got a tip that the van was spotted in the Walking Hills area. We also have the plate number. Rafe, Brown and Taggart: I want you to check out the address the van is registered to and see what info you can find. Ellison, you're with me. We'll drive through Walking Hills and see if we can spot the van." He turned to the two FBI agents. "Agent Willis, do you have anything you would like to add?"
"No, Captain Banks. It sounds like you have everything under control. We'll go and check the FBI database for the location of any of Lisky's known associates, and try to find out how the bastard got out of prison. Good-bye, gentlemen." He motioned for Morrison to follow him out.
"Why aren't we going out with them to check out the area?" Morrison asked in a tone that was part anger and part whining.
"We would only get in the way." Willis stated calmly.
"You've got to be kidding. They shouldn't even be investigating this case. Hell, they are all involved. I've never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life." Willis just listened to the agent rant. "If the press found out, they would have a field day."
With that last comment Morrison found himself against the wall with his partner's hand at his throat.
"If anything gets to the press, I will have your ass and what's left will find itself in Leavenworth. Nod if you hear me." Willis ordered. Morrison was barely able to nod due to the pressure on his throat. "These are the best men for the job. We will help if we are specifically requested to, otherwise we will stay out of their way." He glared at the agent. "You already have a major strike against you. If you screw up again, I will let Ellison have you. Do I make myself clear?" he asked in a voice that was deadly quiet, releasing Morrison only as an afterthought.
"Yes sir," Morrison replied, already planning to put in a request for transfer. Preferably far away from Jim Ellison and the Cascade PD.
Jim had listened to the exchange with great satisfaction. Willis had been an advocate for Major Crimes in general and Jim Ellison in particular since they had rescued the agent from an undercover assignment that had gone horribly wrong. Ellison was the reason he only had one minor scar rather than a marker at the local cemetery.
It was one of the hardest things he had ever done, not flinching or making a sound while Lisky cut his face. He didn't want to scare the kids even more scared than they already were. If he were the only one being held, Blair knew that he would probably be running off at the mouth without thinking. But this time he had to stay calm. He had the kids to worry about.
Blair was relieved when Lisky knocked him to the floor and had the video camera turned off. As soon as the kidnappers left the room, the kids clustered around Blair. Tiffany pulled a pack of tissues out of the bookbag they had thrown into the room, and used then to clean the cut on Blair's face.
"Tiffy will make all better." Arianna stated solemnly, looking up at Blair from her seat in his lap.
"You're right, Ari. It's all better now." Blair reassured her hugging the little girl close. He looked around at the other kids. "Did they search you when they grabbed you?" They all nodded yes.
"Yeah, they got anything they thought we could use as a weapon." Daryl sighed, "I had such plans for the compass. They didn't even leave us anything to eat."
Jenny piped up, "They didn't get everything." she said quietly.
"What do you mean, Jenny?" Blair asked.
She smiled as she played with her necklace. "They didn't find this." She unhooked the thin silver cylinder from the chain around her neck. "My brother gave this to me last week after he taught me how to use it." She twisted the top of the cylinder and pulled out a lockpick. Blair smiled. They now had an edge, a small one to be sure, but an edge nonetheless.
"Why did Rafe teach you how to pick locks?" Blair asked.
"You remember the case where he had to pretend to be a burglar?"
Blair nodded. He remembered that undercover had broken up a burglary ring that had been based in Cascade for the past year.
"When he was practicing, I asked him to teach me. At first he didn't want to until I pointed out how many times I managed to get myself locked out of the house. When he gave it to me, he made me promise to wear it always and only use it in an emergency. Oh, and to never teach anyone else."
"Do you think you can open these?" Blair held out his cuffed hands. The girl smiled and picked the lock of her cuffs and all of the others. They knew they had to move quickly; Lisky and his pals could come in any minute.
"Ari, I want you to sit with Tiffany and try to rest, okay?" Blair asked the little girl. She looked at him with solemn eyes and nodded. He handed her over to Tiffany, who sat with her back to the wall gently rocking the little one. "Daryl, look around and see if there is anything we can break to make a club or two. Come on, Jenny, let's see what kind of locks this dump has." He was halted by Arianna's grasp on his sleeve.
"What's the matter, Ari?"
"We going home now? I hungry, Uncle Bear." He could see that she was rapidly losing patience with the whole situation.
"I know, baby. We'll be able to eat once we get out of here and you get home safe. Okay?"
"We going soon?"
"Yeah, baby, real soon."
Blair quickly realized the door they came in was the only way out; the windows had all been nailed shut. Blair listened at the door and heard Lisky leave the house. Daryl peeked out the window and saw Lisky and the one the kids called the snake get into the van and drive away.
Daryl found a stack of slats that had been used to support a box spring. He picked them up and started handing them out.
"Okay, Jenny. This is it. Are you ready?"
She grinned and started picking the lock. They prayed the door wasn't latched on the other side. With in a minute the door was unlocked. Blair slowly opened the door making sure all of the kids were behind him. He remembered the layout of the house; the living room and front door were on the left of the hallway and the kitchen on the right. They could hear the TV blaring in the other room. Blair motioned the children toward the kitchen. They managed to get out of the house without alerting their guard.
As they rounded the corner of the house, Blair spotted the returning van. He froze for a split second and then yelled, "Run!" He tightened his grip on the child in his arms and ran. As he turned the corner to the next street he heard the crack of a gun and felt a sharp pain in his calf. Feeling himself start to fall he twisted in mid air to keep Arianna from being injured. Daryl ran back and the wounded man handed the little girl to him. He had felt the bone break as he fell and knew he couldn't escape.
"Take everyone and hide." Blair ordered.
"No! We're not leaving you here." Daryl was shaking his head.
"Dammit, kid, get the hell out of here. Jim will be here in a few minutes. You need to tell him what happened. Now go!" Blair had been hearing a low pitched growl in his head for the past hour. It had roared when he was shot and was much louder. He knew his Sentinel was only minutes away. Daryl turned and ran, following orders for once. Blair had been so focused on sending Daryl away, he didn't notice Tiffany had doubled back until he felt the pressure on his leg as she tried to stop the bleeding.
"What the hell are you still doing here?" Blair glared at her. "You should have gone with the others."
"Nah, couldn't do it and let all those first aid courses go to waste."
"Tiffany, get moving. They're almost here."
She saw them round the corner before he did. "It's too late. They're already here." Blair looked up at the guns pointed at him and the girl.
"Get up, you little punk, before I put another bullet in you," yelled the kidnapper the kids had dubbed the snake. The other kidnapper didn't say a word; he just held his gun on them with one hand and tried to staunch the flow of his own blood with the other. He hoped a broken nose was the worst Lisky would do to him for losing three of the five hostages.
"Where are the others?"
"Long gone. You'll never find them." Blair taunted. The man smacked him across the face with his fist. Blair could feel his mouth fill with blood. He gingerly pushed on his teeth with his tongue and was relieved none were loosened.
"Next time warn me you are going to piss them off." Tiffany whispered angrily as she tried to keep him on his feet.
Lisky pulled up in the van. "Get in, you idiots."
"But what about the other ones?"
"Forget about them. We don't have time to hunt them down. Now get in."
"Where are we going, boss?" Snake asked as he shoved the two into the van.
"The mountain cabin. They won't be able to track us there." Lisky stated confidently. The van's engine roared and they tore off down the street.
The children stepped out from the corner of a half finished house. "Did you hear that?"
"Yeah, they're heading for a cabin. We need to get to a phone now!"
They took off jogging down the empty street. Daryl heard an approaching vehicle and motioned for the others to hide. He started to yell when he realized it was Jim's truck.
Jim had dialed up his hearing while searching for his partner and the children. Simon was barely able to keep him from zoning as he searched for the familiar heartbeat. Jim had felt drawn to this part of the subdivision, but he now felt that he was being pulled in another direction. He heard Daryl when he started to yell. The truck screeched to a halt when they got close to the kids. Simon was out the door almost before it stopped.
The relieved father ran to his son and pulled him and the child in his arms into a hug. Jenny was quickly pulled in. Jim looked around for his partner and Tiffany Taggart. He opened his senses even farther and almost zoned on the smell of blood, his Guide's blood. He could see the blood in the grass two blocks away.
Daryl pulled back from his dad and looked at Jim. "They still have Blair and Tiffany."
"What happened to Blair?" Jim asked muscles clenching in his jaw. Simon could hear his detective's teeth grinding.
The tears the teenager had been holding in were suddenly freed. "They shot him in the leg. I wanted to stay but he made me leave. I didn't want to leave him. I didn't know Tiffany went back." The words tumbled out in a rush. Jim could see the guilt in the young man's face.
He turned the boy to face him. "Daryl, you did exactly what you were supposed to do. You kept Arianna and Jenny safe. You did everything right." Jim knew the young man would only believe him after Blair and Tiffany were rescued. "Did they say where they were going?" Jim asked.
"They said something about a mountain cabin."
"Do you know who the other Kidnappers are?" Simon asked. Daryl shook his head.
"I heard their names." Jenny said quietly. The two men turned to the shaken girl. "The Scuzzy one's name is Jake Grimm, and the snake guy is Paul Saunders."
"Wow, how did you know that?" Daryl asked even more impressed with the girl.
While I was listening at the door I heard the scuzzy one talking to himself, saying 'Jake Grimm doesn't like being told what to do, Jake Grimm was smarter than they thought' stuff like that. Saunders was easy; there was an envelope in the van with his name on it."
Simon called in the information and told Rafe, Brown and Taggart to join them. The other detectives were only a few minutes away. They had finished at the registration's address and had headed to Walking Hills to help with the search. When they pulled up, Rafe and Brown bolted from the car when they spotted the girls. Jenny lost it when her big brother gathered her into his arms. The minute she felt safe, the emotions she had held back crashed through. Arianna just reached for her daddy. Henri held his little girl as close as he could.
Joel walked slowly over to the group. He had not missed the fact that his daughter and the young observer were nowhere to be seen. He was almost afraid to ask. Jim saw the question on the big man's worried face.
"Tiffany and Blair were caught when they tried to escape." Jim tried to gently tell his friend. "Tiffany wasn't hurt."
Joel caught what was unspoken — Blair was injured. The big man closed his eyes. The nightmare wasn't over yet. The reunited families piled into the car. Joel opted to ride with Jim.
Jim walked over to the car and leaned in the window to talk to Simon. "I'm going to start heading for the mountains. As soon as you have anything on the cabin location give me a call. This way I will be that much closer."
"Jim, you can't go up there alone."
"Don't worry, he won't be." Joel advised the worried Captain.
"Just be very careful." Simon warned giving Jim a meaningful look.
"We will be." The two men headed out. Jim followed in the direction he was being pulled, knowing his Guide was leading him in.
Blair regained consciousness slowly. Between the pain in his head from hitting the floor of the van when he fell or the pain in his leg, he didn't know which was worse. He opened his eyes and looked up at Tiffany. She was checking the makeshift bandage on his leg to make sure the bleeding stopped. He smiled at her, wincing when he tried to lift his head.
"Well, I see we're on the road again. Are you all right?" He asked trying to ignore the creep in the front holding a gun on them.
"Yeah, I'm okay. I was just worried when you passed out."
"Don't worry. I always bounce back. Besides they will find us soon." He knew his Sentinel wasn't far behind; the growl had become a continuous sound in his mind. He knew his blessed Protector wouldn't let him down. He just had to meet him halfway.
Blair was grateful when the van finally came to a halt. He had felt every bump in the road. The side door opened and Lisky ordered them out. Tiffany helped Blair hobble into the cabin. They were pushed into a room without windows. The only light was provided by the gaps in the log walls.
"Don't get too comfortable, you two. I'm not finished playing with you yet." Lisky laughed as he closed the door to their new prison. They heard him direct thing one to guard the approach to the cabin, and thing two to guard the door. Blair and Tiffany tried to barricade the door even though they knew it would only hold for a few minutes. Blair knew from experience that those few minutes could mean the difference between life and death.
When Lisky tried the door they braced them selves against the makeshift barricade.
"Oh, playing games are we. This is going to be fun." He turned and shouted. "Jake get in here." They could hear him run in.
"What do you need, boss?"
Lisky waved at the door. "Get it open."
Jake started slamming his shoulder against the door. The two on the other side scrambled for a foot hold. Blair almost passed out again when his leg was jarred. The Guide knew that Jim was getting closer the growl was getting so loud he could almost feel the vibration. //This is cool, I wonder if this will work all of the time or only for emergencies// Blair thought to himself trying to keep his mind off of his leg. He was already devising tests for this new ability.
"Hang in there, Tiffany. Help will be here soon, I promise."
Suddenly there was a hard push and the door opened. Lisky entered followed by Jake. Lisky looked them up and down. "Not good enough, kids. Now you have to pay the forfeit. Jake, bring me the girl."
"No!" Blair shouted, moving Tiffany behind him. Jake picked him up and threw him against the wall. Blair crumpled to the floor momentarily dazed. Tiffany froze until Jake grabbed her. At that moment, all of her self-defense classes clicked into place. She screamed at the top of her lungs and brought her knee up full force into the big man's groin. Jake toppled like a tree that had just been chopped down.
Lisky grabbed her from behind before she remembered he was in the room. He held her in such a way that she couldn't use her feet or elbows. She tried to slam him with her head but he dodged the blow. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Blair begin to move.
//Just keep him distracted for another minute.// Blair thought as he picked up the leg from the chair he had broken when he fell. He snuck up behind Lisky and slammed him in the back of the head as hard as he could knocking him to the ground.
Simon had notified the two men about the exact location of the cabin. Joel was amazed when he realized that they were almost on top of it when Simon called. He just looked at Ellison and filed it in his mind under the strange things he had seen the detective do in the past few years. He had made up his mind long ago not to worry about it. Jim stopped far enough away so they wouldn't tip off the kidnappers. They moved through the trees as fast as they could. At the edge of the clearing, Jim stopped and checked out the cabin. He could hear his Guide's heartbeat. He could also hear four others. He knew both Blair and Tiffany were still alive.
He heard Lisky order Jake to break down the door. They started to close in on the cabin. Jim had just taken out Saunders when they heard a scream from the cabin. The two detectives burst into the cabin with their guns drawn, just in time to see Blair take another swing at the downed Lisky's head, knocking him out. Tiffany looked up from the man she had just tied up and saw her father.
"Daddy!" She ran into Joel's arms.
"You okay baby?"
"I'm fine, all of the self defense stuff really works." She gestured at the man moaning in pain on the floor.
Jim walked over to his partner and eased the piece of wood out of his hands as he prepared to strike another blow.
"You did good, Chief." Jim quietly told his Guide. "Everyone is safe. You can relax now."
Blair looked puzzled and focused on his Sentinel's face. "Hi, Jim. I knew you would get here. I heard you coming." He started to waver as the adrenaline drained away and the realities of his wounds made themselves known. He put his hand on Jim's arm and whispered, "I heard the panther." His eyes suddenly closed and he collapsed into his partner's arms. Jim checked him over and found the break. He was amazed that Blair had been able to stand for as long as he did on the wounded leg. Jim rebandaged and splinted the leg while Joel took care of the crooks.
They left the kidnappers wrapped up like presents for their backup to bring in. They decided to meet the ambulance halfway. Jim held his partner in the back of the truck trying to keep his wounded leg as still as possible. When they met the ambulance they transferred Blair. Jim informed them that he was riding along. And with a patented Ellison glare got his way. Leaving Joel and Tiffany to follow in the truck.
The hospital staff were warned that the injured party was Blair Sandburg. The doctors and nurses alike rolled their eyes and could be heard muttering "Here we go again."
One of the nurses started the betting pool. There were two lines for betting. The first was how soon after regaining consciousness, he would ask when he could leave. The second was how long it would take the attending physician to cave in and let him go home. Sandburg had a better release track record than Ellison. Blair would use sad puppy eyes and pleading. But if that didn't work, he would resort to an unending litany of complaints. He'd only gone the complaint route once. The nurses never wanted it to happen again. They didn't know that his partner had threatened to smother him with a pillow if he ever did it again.
Jim stood at the window of Blair's hospital room. He came through the surgery with flying colors they had been able to remove the bullet and put a pin in the leg to stabilize the bone as it healed. The doctors had reassured the detective that he had minimal muscle damage.
Jim walked over and sat in the chair next to the bed. "Everything is going to be just fine." He explained the results of the surgery to the unconscious man. "When you wake up, they are going to let the kids visit. They are driving their families nuts wanting to get in here. Arianna keeps asking for her Uncle Bear." Jim heard the change in his partner's heartbeat and breathing. He watched as Blair opened his eyes, and smiled when those blue eyes cleared and focused.
"You have a good sleep, Chief?" Jim asked as he smoothed the hair away from the younger man's face.
"The kids?" Blair managed to say past his dry throat.
"They're all safe." Jim explained as he fed Blair ice chips to soothe his throat.
"What about Lisky?"
"He is in max isolation. I hope he never sees the light of day."
"How did he get out in the first place? And why weren't we notified?"
"It was a routine prison transfer. Someone screwed up the paperwork. He was released by mistake. And by the time they got around to warning us, we already knew he was out."
A nurse walked through the door and stopped in her tracks. "Detective Ellison, you were supposed to call the Doctor when Mr. Sandburg regained consciousness. She hurried out the door to call the Doctor. The next hour was spent with tests for everything under the sun. Blair looked helplessly at his partner, Jim just shrugged.
Word was quickly passed and the crew from Major Crimes gathered outside the room waiting for permission to come in. They all wanted to thank the young man who had kept their kids safe.
Henri Brown was the last to enter the room, holding his hands behind his back. After the others had a chance to talk to Blair, he stepped up to the bed.
"Arianna told me that she really wasn't really scared. She knew her Uncle Bear would keep her safe." Henri stopped and took a deep breath. "She picked this out just for you." He brought the gift from behind his back. It was a small brown teddy bear with long curly fur and glasses. A bandage had been added to its leg.
Jim looked closely at the bear now clasped in his partner's arms.
"Yep," he nodded at Henri. "I definitely see the resemblance." Everyone started laughing.
When they calmed down, Blair asked, "When can I go home?"
The nurse outside the door said. "Bingo, right on time."