"Come on, Jim, can't we take a break?" Blair complained. "I'm really getting tired."
"Just hold on for a few more minutes, Chief." His partner urged. Blair took a deep breath and concentrated harder, losing himself in the effort of keeping the dragonfly in a holding pattern.
"Let it go, Chief. It's time to come back." The voice urged. "Turn it off and relax." The young Shaman relaxed and leaned back against his Sentinel. "You okay, Chief?" Jim asked concerned.
"Yeah, big guy, I'm just really tired. This shaman stuff wears me out." Blair closed his eyes and was soon asleep. Jim knew from experience that he would sleep for about a half hour. It helped to recharge his Shaman abilities. As the younger man slept, Jim reflected back on the past few months.
Things had been changing since Jim had been kidnapped by the Centre. Blair's gifts had been forced into being when the Centre's empath Angelo, trying to help Jim, mentally linked with the Sentinel's Guide. That link was the only reason they were both still alive. Since Blair, with the help of Jarod and Angelo, had rescued Jim, the Sentinel and Guide had been working together to learn about and strengthen the younger man's abilities. After some coaxing from Jim, Blair embraced most of his abilities. He had the capability to heal minor wounds; they had thankfully not had any serious injuries testing his new gifts. He was comforted by the knowledge that all he had to do was reach out mentally and he could contact Jim no matter how far apart they were.
The ability he feared was the one that allowed him to control, for a brief time, another being's mind. They had found out about it by accident. While they were trying to serve a warrant on a suspect in a smuggling case, they were attacked by a large mutt. As it jumped at them, Blair closed his eyes and wished for it to stop. No one was more surprised when the dog stopped in his tracks, straining forward and whining, unable to move. The two men backed out of the yard, Jim gently tugging his partner back, until they cleared the fence and closed the gate. Jim had to shake Blair to get his attention. As he snapped out of it, the dog suddenly charged the fence. Blair looked up at Jim in confusion and collapsed. Jim carried the smaller man to the truck and buckled him in; he then drove straight to the loft. His senses told him that his partner was in a very deep sleep. It took an hour before Blair was able to wake.
Over the next couple of months, they worked together to develop the young shaman's gifts. Blair resisted working with the ability to control another mind until Jim pointed out that it could mean the difference between life and death.
"How are you feeling?" Jim asked as Blair began to stir.
Blair smiled at his partner. "I'm fine. I always forget how much it wipes me out."
"Tell you what, I'll give you a break and fix dinner tonight." Jim offered.
"And this is a good thing because?"
Jim laughed and tapped his young partner's head. "It means we order in."
"Sounds good to me, less to clean up." Blair suddenly stiffened; his eyes went blank for a second. Jim saw a slight trickle of blood from his partner's nose. He remembered what he had been told about the first time this happened.
"Angelo?" Jim asked quietly.
The young man nodded and said only one word. "Jarod." Blair collapsed against Jim who then picked him up and carried him to the truck.
By the time they were halfway home, Blair regained consciousness.
"How long was I out?" Blair asked.
"About twenty minutes." Jim answered. "Do you remember what happened?"
"Oh, yeah." He raised his hand to his head. "I just wish Angelo had a lighter touch. It always feels like I've been hit over the head with a 2x4 when he contacts me."
"I hate to break it to you, but you look like you've been hit by a 2x4." Jim teased. The younger man gave him a half-hearted glare. "Seriously, what did he tell you?"
"He sent me a series of images of a trapped and injured Jarod. He is trapped somewhere very dark." Blair explained. "When we get to the loft I may be able to find out more."
When they entered their building Jim opened his senses to search for intruders. Blair automatically reached out resting his hand on his partner's back to keep him grounded. He could feel the big man's muscles tense under his hand. He was not surprised when Jim drew his gun.
"What is it?" he whispered.
"Two people in the loft. They aren't moving around--best guess is that we have a welcoming committee. Can you tell who they are?"
"No, I'm tapped out. The only thing I can feel is that they seem familiar." Blair answered.
Jim made sure his guide was behind him as he opened the door.
Jim wasn't surprised to see Sidney and Broots standing in the loft. He didn't relax, however, keeping his gun pointed at the two men. Blair's eyes widened when he saw the intruders.
"Why are you here?" Jim demanded his protective instincts on high.
"Stay calm, big guy, I don't sense any threat." Blair whispered.
Jim lowered his weapon but kept it in hand. "Start explaining."
"We need your help." Sidney answered calmly.
"Why should we help you?" Jim asked angrily.
"Because Jarod is in danger." Sidney explained. "And your skills are the only way we will be able to find him in time."
Jim could tell the older man was telling the truth, but he looked at his partner for confirmation. Sidney watched the silent exchange with interest. He had researched the subject of Sentinels and Guides in depth after their first meeting. It looked like they had achieved the mental connection he had found mentioned in one reference. Sidney hoped so; Jarod was going to need all the help they could provide.
"What happened?" Blair asked impatiently.
"We aren't sure." Sidney answered. He handed a drawing to Jim. When Jim saw the picture he hesitated, trying to decide whether or not to give it to his partner. Blair recognized the protective stance.
"Let me see it." Blair asked, "Jarod saved us now it's time to return the favor." The young Guide reached out his hand for the drawing. He tried to mentally prepare himself for a painful reaction. The minute his hands touched the paper he could feel the emotions Angelo had felt as he drew the picture. The fear and the pain radiated from it. Blair felt as if he were being pulled into the dark picture.
Blair opened his mind and looked deeper into the drawing and was mentally there. He was in a dark place, he tried to connect with Jarod but ran up against a mental wall. Blair mentally cast around trying to get a sense of the place when he felt another presence. It was that of a child. He reached out to speak to the young one. Sending comforting thoughts.
The child looked around in confusion. "Who are you?"
//My name is Blair. I'm just here to talk to you.//
"Where are you? I can't see you."
//I'm far away. But we are looking for you. What's your name?//
//Are you hurt, Tyler?//
"No." the boy said sniffling. "But the man is."
//Do you know who the man is?//
"No, he just found me when the rocks fell. I think one of the rocks hit his head. That's why he fell down."
//How did you get there, Tyler?// Blair could feel the fear building in the child. //It's okay, take it easy.// He tried to calm Tyler.
Tyler took a deep breath. "A bad man took me out of my house. He put me here, told me I could go home when he got the money. He was a monster man."
//Try to forget him Tyler. Just listen to me. Where are you from?// Blair asked trying to pinpoint his location.
Blair could feel himself weakening, he knew he only had a few minutes left before he would lose the connection. //Tyler, could you check the man next to you?//
"What do you want me to do?"
//Put your hand on the side of his neck... good. Can you feel anything?//
"Yeah, his heartbeat."
//Very good, can you tell if he is breathing?//
"Uh, huh, he's breathing. Hey, he's starting to move."
Jarod had been awake and had heard Tyler's side of the last exchange. He reached up and took the young boy's hand.
"Who are you talking to, Tyler?" Jarod asked remembering what had happened.
Jarod tried to look around. "Is he here?" He felt a moment of hope.
"No." Tyler shook his head. "He's here." The boy tapped his head.
It took a moment for Jarod to realize what Tyler meant. He suddenly remembered the young police observer, who he had helped rescue his partner from the Centre.
"Can you talk to Blair, Tyler?"
"Yes, but he said he has to go away in a minute." The boy answered.
"Tell him that we are in the caves outside Jonesboro."
//It's okay Tyler, I heard him. I have to go now; I will be back as soon as I can. Take care of each other.//
"He's gone." Tyler told Jarod. "He'll be back. He told me to take care of you." The little boy scooted closer to the injured man.
Jarod smiled. They now had a chance to survive.
Jim caught his young partner when he collapsed as soon as he touched the picture. He held Blair braced against his chest as he carefully lowered himself and his Guide to the couch. He monitored his partner's condition. He could feel that Blair was in contact with someone. It was like a conversation being held at a distance; he was unable to make out distinct words but knew someone was speaking. Jim alternated his attention between his partner and the two men who were watching. He heard Blair's vital signs begin to falter.
//It's okay Jim, just a few more minutes.//
//When I tell you its time, you'd better come back.// Jim informed his stubborn guide.
//You got it.//
Jim ignored the other occupants of the room focusing everything on his guide. He could feel the younger man growing weaker.
//They're in Tennessee, in a cave, Jarod is hurt, has a kid with him.// Blair sent. His heartbeat and respiration's continued to slow.
//NOW, Blair! Come back//
"Come on buddy, its time to wake up." Jim was shaking his partner trying to get a reaction. Blair fought his way back, opened his eyes and smiled at his Sentinel. He struggled to keep awake but lost the battle with exhaustion. Jim continued to hold his partner, encouraged by the strengthening of his vital signs.
"What just happened?" Broots asked confused.
"I believe that Mr. Sandburg has located Jarod." Sidney replied. Jim looked up at Sidney, silently reminding the older man that any word about Blair's abilities and both Sidney and Broots would find that their lives wouldn't be worth living. Sidney nodded his head recognizing that Ellison would do everything in his power to protect his young friend.
Jim spoke quietly. "Jarod is in a cave somewhere in Tennessee. Jarod is trapped and injured. There is also a child with him."
Sidney looked worried. "How long before he wakes up?"
"About a half hour or so." Jim absently monitored his partner's improving condition.
Broots had hit new levels of nervousness. He had never seen two people as close as Ellison and Sandburg. He wondered what it would be like to be that close to someone; watching them together made him feel uncomfortable. The balding man looked around the loft. His nervous eyes finally spotted Blair's laptop computer sticking out of a backpack. He walked over to it intending to hook it up and search the net for information on any cave-ins in Tennessee.
"Yes." He said under his breath as he picked it up.
"Put it down." Ellison ordered glaring at the other man.
"Okay Detective." Broots said his voice quavering. He felt like a bug under a microscope as he slowly put the computer down. "I was just going to check the news sites to see if I could find anything on what happened in Tennessee."
"We will wait for him to wake up or you can find another computer. You are not using that one." Jim knew that some of his partner's research was on the computer. While Broots seemed like a halfway decent guy, Jim didn't trust anyone who worked for the Centre.
Blair began to stir. He opened his eyes and looked around. "Man, that is like so not fun."
"You okay, Chief?" Jim asked.
"Yeah Big Guy, but we need to get moving before it's too late." Blair pushed himself up trying to control the dizziness the movement caused. Jim steadied him as he stood. Blair looked at Sidney and Broots.
"I hope you guys have enough money for plane tickets." Sidney nodded and headed to the phone.
"But we have a plane." Broots told him.
"I don't think so." Blair answered. Broots looked confused. "Come on, think about it. Who owns your plane? And who pays the pilot?"
"Oh." The light finally dawned.
Jim deliberately listened in on Sidney's conversation, quietly relaying it to his Guide. "Looks like we have a flight in an hour. You up for this, Chief?" He was still concerned about the toll the contact had on his partner.
"We have to do this. You know as well as I do that we will both be needed to find Jarod and the boy." Blair smiled. "We can do this."
The flight to Jonesboro was uneventful. Jim and Blair were seated half the pane away from Sidney and Broots.
"What do you think...can we trust them?" Jim asked.
"I think we can up until we rescue Jarod, but after that all bets are off." The younger man replied. "Especially if Miss Parker manages to track us down." Both men agreed that was one woman they didn't want to meet up with again.
"I need to contact Jarod again."
"Shouldn't you wait until we're on the ground?" Jim asked.
Blair shook his head. "This way I can get the information we need without them watching. I don't really want them knowing where we are going." He explained.
"You've got a point, plus you'll have recovered by the time we land. Okay I'll keep watch, but when I tell you enough, you break contact. You hear me, Chief?"
"Yeah man, I hear you." Blair settled back into his seat and started taking the slow deep breaths needed to Centre himself. The strength of his sentinel made this mental journey possible.
Blair first tried to contact Jarod, but was still unable to breach his mental barriers. It felt like he had run headfirst into a brick wall. Blair sighed. So much for doing this the easy way.
//Tyler, can you hear me?// Blair felt the child's excitement when he realized his invisible friend had returned.
"I hear you. You sound louder."
//I'm getting closer to where you are. Is everything okay?//
"Yep, but Mr. Jarod keeps falling asleep. I get scared when he sleeps."
//I want you to try and wake Jarod up. Will you do that for me?//
"Okay." Tyler moved closer to Jarod and started to shake him and call out his name. "Come on, Mr. Jared. It's time to wake up. Blair needs to talk to you."
Jarod opened his eyes and tried to sit up. "Did you say Blair is back? Ask him what's going on?"
//Tyler, remember I can hear everything Jarod says. You don't need to repeat it.//
"Blair says he can hear you when you are talking to me."
//Ask him if he knows exactly where you are?// Tyler relayed the question.
"We are forty miles west of Jonesboro, in the foothills. There is a series of caves. We are in the third cave from the right."
//Tyler, tell Jarod that we are almost to Jonesboro.// Blair could hear the child crying.
"I can't...he fell asleep again."
//Okay, Tyler.// Blair tried to project calm to the little boy. //Just stay close to Jarod. It will help to keep you both warm. When he wakes up again, tell him we will be there as soon as we can. Will you do that for me?//
"I will." The little boy promised as he cuddled close to the unconscious Jarod.
//I have to go back now, but remember we are going to find you. I promise.//
Reassured, the child started to drift off to sleep. "Bye, Blair."
Blair struggled to stay until Tyler was asleep. He could hear Jim telling him to pull back. //Dammit, Blair, get back here right now!//
//Just a couple of minutes, the kid is almost asleep.// Blair begged.
Jim focused his strength at his partner, helping him to maintain contact. //Come on, buddy. He's asleep now. It's time to come back.// He helped his Guide return following their mental link.
Blair opened his eyes. "Wow, I didn't know you could do that."
"Neither did I. We have an hour before we land. Get some rest. I'll wake you when we get there."
Blair rested his head on Jim's shoulder and fell fast asleep. Jim focused his hearing on Sidney and Broots.
"Sidney, are you sure the Centre won't be able to find out what we're doing?" Broots asked worried about running into a sweeper team.
"I don't think so. The reservations weren't made in our names and we paid cash for the tickets. I can't think of any way they could connect us to this flight." Sidney reassured the nervous man.
"Sorry, Sidney. I just get worried. You know how they are." Sidney patted Broots on the shoulder. "I'm afraid that one day I'll get home and they will have taken Debbie."
"Trust me, I won't let them harm your little girl."
Jim could hear Broots relax somewhat, his respiration and heartbeat had slowed to the upper ranges of normal.
"Do you really think they know where Jarod is?" Broots asked
Sidney thought for a moment. "I think they have a good idea, but they aren't about to tell us until we are close."
Broots nodded. "Yeah, they trust us about as far as Sandburg can throw us." Jim grinned at the visual the man's words provided.
"I don't want to know what the two of them would do if they were betrayed." Sidney added.
"I remember what happened to the Centre computers. Ellison would just kill us; Sandburg would destroy everything."
Jim continued to listen until he heard the change in the engines signaling that they were coming in for a landing. He shook Blair awake after they had touched down. The younger man rubbed his eyes and looked around.
"We've landed?" he asked. When Jim nodded, he said, "Thanks for letting me sleep through. I always hate that part."
Jim watched, amused. It was as if the Blair's batteries had been recharged. Simon was right; he was like the 'energizer bunny'. They quickly exited the plane and rented a car. They didn't want to attract attention to where they were going so they had to refrain from asking directions.
"I guess we'll have to follow the map I have up here." Blair tapped the side of his head.
"You sure we won't wind up in another state?" Jim teased.
Blair laughed. "Come on, I'm not that bad." Jim just raised an eyebrow and mouthed 'Simon's reunion'. "Okay, okay...I get the point." He smiled as he directed Jim toward the foothills.
Sidney and Broots remained quiet sitting in the back seat, not wanting to antagonize the Sentinel and Guide. Blair tried to ignore their passengers but his gregarious personality took over. When he turned to the back Jim looked at his watch. It had only taken eleven minutes before Blair started questioning them.
"Sydney, how long have you known Jarod?" Blair asked.
"Since he was brought to the Centre as a child. I have been working with him since then."
"How could you condone what the Centre was doing?" Blair asked. He didn't understand how the seemingly kind man he was looking at could have kept a child prisoner.
"When I was first introduced to Jarod, I was told that he was an orphan with special abilities. It was my job to train him to use his talents."
"Didn't you question what they were using his simulations for? Or even the morality of isolating children the way the Centre does?" Blair was becoming distressed remembering that if it weren't for a very brave lady, his partner would have been one of those lost children. Jim reached over and put his hand on the young man's shoulder.
"How could you not know what was going on with the children?" Blair asked.
"Everything was compartmentalized. I had nothing to do with any of the projects but my own. I was doing my job."
Blair closed his eyes and with Jim's support he reached out and mentally touched Sidney's surface thoughts. Images appeared rapidly in the younger man's mind...memories that had been stirred by his questions. Blair opened his eyes and looked pointedly at Sydney's arm then he looked into his eyes.
"Seig Heil, Sidney." Blair whispered before turning away.
Broots had watched the conversation in confusion. He didn't catch what Blair said but he saw the effect his words had on Sidney. The older man had turned pale and collapsed against the seat. He turned away from Broots' questioning gaze.
"You okay, Chief?" Jim asked quietly.
Blair nodded. "I'll be fine. I just saw more than I wanted to, and it kind of leaves a nasty taste in my mind." He looked over at Jim. "Can I..."
"You don't need to ask. Come here." Blair moved over and leaned against Jim's shoulder. He felt his mind being enveloped by his Sentinel's and was able to draw on Jim's strength. He was able to push away the images he had gained from Sidney.
The route was familiar, although Blair was starting to have trouble adjusting what he was seeing to what Tyler had seen. They were a few miles from the foothills when the memories from Tyler ran out.
"Pull over, Jim. I need to contact Jarod." Jim slowed the car and pulled over to the side.
Blair reached out to Tyler. //Tyler can you hear me?//
"I can hear you. Are you almost here?" the little boy asked.
//Yes, we are almost there but we need Jarod's help. Is he awake?//
"Uh huh," Tyler turned to Jarod. "Blair's back."
//Tyler, I need you to tell Jarod that I need to talk to him, he needs to let me in his mind.//
Tyler relayed the request to Jarod.
"Okay, Blair give it your best shot." Jarod said trying to relax. Blair concentrated and felt the moment Jarod lowered his shields.
//Can you hear me?//
"Yes, loud and clear."
//We're almost there, but we have reached a turnoff and need more directions.// Jarod sent his exact location to the waiting man. //Thanks, we'll be there soon.// Blair ended the connection. He looked up at Jim.
"Did you get that?"
"I got it, now rest. I'll wake you when we get there."
Jim drove as close to the caves as possible. "Come on, Chief, let's go find Jarod." They pile out of the car and headed for the cave where Jarod and the boy were trapped. The four men were forced to halt by the rock barrier in the mouth of the cave.
"Oh, man." Blair said staring at the rock wall. "How thick do you think this rock wall is?" Blair asked his partner.
Jim tried to listen for Jarod and the boy. He could barely make out their voices. "I think it's only about a foot thick, I can hear them talking." Jim explained as he began to pull rocks away from the side of the rock fall. The four men worked together to clear a space large enough to climb through.
Jim turned to his companions. "Blair and Broots, you're with me. Sidney, I want you to stay out here and pass in whatever we need. You will need to keep a lookout. If any one shows up, just shout and move the car. Without waiting for a response, Jim climbed through the opening. Blair quickly followed with Broots close on his heels. Once inside they turned on their flashlights.
"I don't see them." Broots complained.
Blair motioned for the nervous man to be quiet. Jim focused his hearing and headed down the left most tunnel. Ten yards down the tunnel they found Jarod pinned. Tyler was no where in sight. Jim could hear the little boy's rapid heartbeat. He pulled Blair off to the side.
"Tyler is over there in the corner, too scared to come out." Jim whispered. "Broots and I will take care of Jarod. You need to get the kid."
Blair walked over to the area the small boy was hiding in and sat down. "Tyler, it's me, Blair. I need for you to come out now." He patiently waited for a response. He was rewarded by a rustle of sound in front of him.
"You're not Blair. Blair is in my head." A little voice shouted.
Blair focused out and sent, //Come out, Tyler. It is me.//
The boy slowly climbed out from behind the rocks and ran straight into Blair's arms.
As Blair was talking to Tyler, Jim was quickly removing the rocks pinning Jarod. He quickly checked the injured man. His senses detected several broken ribs and a gash to the back of Jarod's head.
"Broots, go tell Sidney that we need the large first aid kit and water bottles." Jim ordered.
Broots turned and started to head down the tunnel. Halfway to the entrance he heard a clattering sound and ran into Sidney, who was rushing in.
Broots yelped when he saw the older man. "Sidney?"
"We have company." Sidney informed him. Broots led Sidney to the others.
"Did you bring the first aid kit?" Jim asked without looking up. Sidney quickly handed it over.
"I think the men who kidnapped Tyler have returned." Sydney explained as he helped Jim bandage Jarod's wounds.
"We need to move back." Jim directed the others to the rear of the cave. Blair convinced Tyler to go to Broots so that he could help his partner.
"Blair, I want you to stay here." Jim tried to convince the younger man.
"I don't think so, Jim. Whether you like it or not, I'm going." He pushed the larger man towards the entrance.
Jim shook his head. "One of these days I'm going to remember how stubborn you are." Jim said under his breath. Obviously not quiet enough, because he suddenly received the image of a pot and kettle. He turned and glared at his smiling partner.
"Hang on. I'm going to douse the light." Blair held onto Jim's belt as they moved to the entrance. They positioned themselves where the tunnels branched. With his hearing Jim heard the kidnappers climb into the cave.
"I don't know why we have to get the kid." A voice complained.
"They need proof the kid is still alive before they will pay the ransom."
"Well, I hope he is. Look at this place! It looks like the roof caved in. If the kid is dead, I'm going to take the ransom out of your hide for suggesting this as a hiding place. We could have left the kid in the cabin, but no, you had to get all paranoid." The second voice said.
Blair and Jim listened as the kidnappers drew closer.
"Halt! Police." Jim ordered.
The kidnappers spun around, one of them pulling a gun. Jim focused on the gunman. Blair kept an eye on the one with the flashlight. He tried to tackle him before it could be trained on his partner. Blair jumped on the kidnapper's back, wrapping his arm around his throat. He slammed Blair into the side of the tunnel knocking the smaller man loose. Blair crumpled to the ground dazed. Jim had forced the other man to drop the gun. Blair watched blurrily as the other one spotted the gun and moved quickly to pick it up. He turned to aim at Jim.
"Jim!" Blair yelled. "Oh no you don't." Blair shook off the dazed feeling and stretched out with his mind. He held the other man still for the vital seconds it took for his partner to take him down. After the two men were tied up. Jim led Blair back to the others, watching for the inevitable crash.
"Help me over to Jarod. I need to wake him up."
"Can't it wait until you rest?" Jim asked knowing how drained the younger man became when he used his gifts.
"No, I need to do this now so we can get out of here, and Jarod needs to be conscious to do that." Blair explained.
//So do you.// Jim thought as he led Blair back to the group. "Are you sure you want to do this where Sidney and Broots can see?"
"We don't have a choice. I think they know their lives wouldn't be worth much if anything ever happened to either of us because of them." Blair smiled at his worried 'Blessed Protector'. "Don't worry." Blair patted him on the arm before moving beside Jarod.
Blair placed one hand on Jarod's forehead and the other on his chest. He closed his eyes, sending out healing energy.
"What's he doing?" Broots whispered to Sidney.
"Sh-h." Sidney was fascinated. He had read about touch healers. The Centre had searched for healers...never succeeding. He felt that he was being stared at. He looked away from the young man and found the source of his discomfort. The threat was clearly visible in the big man's eyes. Sidney stepped back as Ellison knelt beside his partner.
Jim focused on Blair's vital signs. When his pulse began to race, Jim reached out to pull his guide out of it. His hands grasped the younger man's shoulders, and he felt Blair's pulse slow to a normal rate. Jim could feel the energy flowing into Blair at the points where his hands rested. Without breaking Blair's connection to Jarod, Jim moved closer to his partner and concentrated on reinforcing the young shaman.
Jim felt Blair start to pull back and was ready to catch him when he collapsed.
Sidney rushed to Jarod's side as he opened his eyes. "Jarod, are you all right?" Sidney asked concern in his voice.
Jarod looked around confused. When he recognized Sidney and Broots, he started to panic. He pushed himself up and looked around for the ever-present Miss Parker.
"She isn't here, Jarod." Sidney said calmly.
Jarod looked past Sidney's shoulder to Broots, noting the other man wasn't exhibiting his usual "Parker syndrome'. Jarod started to relax. Tyler saw that Jarod was finally awake, hurried over and cuddled close to the one person besides Blair he was sure he could trust.
"Jarod, you're okay now?" Tyler asked. "Blair fixed you up." The child patted him on the face. The pretender looked around and saw the Sentinel holding his unconscious Guide.
"Jim, what's happening? What's wrong with Blair?"
"He's just exhausted. He'll be okay in a little while. What he does takes a lot out of him."
Sidney had watched the entire sequence of events, and as a trained observer noted that Sandburg wouldn't have been able to use his gifts without Ellison's support. The two men were symbiotic, each needing the other's strengths to use their respective gifts. Sydney had a feeling that with practice the younger man would be able to control the extreme energy drain but only with his partner's help.
When Blair began to stir, Jim lifted him to his feet, leaving Sidney and Broots to deal with Jarod and Tyler.
"Let's get out of here. I think it's past time to get Tyler to his Family." Jim smiled at the little boy holding Jarod's hand. Other than the bruise on Jarod's face, there wasn't any sign that he had been injured.
As they walked through the tunnel the adults screened the little boy from the sight of his kidnappers.
"We'll send someone back for them." Jim whispered when he saw his partner's questioning glance. Blair nodded in agreement. The group was extremely grateful the sun was still shining as they climbed out of the cave. All five were filthy.
"Man, it feels so good to be out in the warm sun." Blair sighed. "That cave was like too..." He abruptly stopped talking. Jim turned in time to see the vacant look and the telltale trickle of blood.
"Angelo, please back off...you're hurting him." Jim whispered feeling helpless. Jarod noticed what was happening and distracted the other men and the boy.
"They are coming. Hurry. Hide. They know." Blair/Angelo warned. Blair collapsed when Angelo released him. Jim wiped the blood from his face and quickly loaded him into the car.
"We have company coming." He glared at the two men. "I only have one question. How did they find us?"
The two men were genuinely puzzled. "There is no way they could have tracked us down." Broots answered. "Hell, we didn't even know where we were going." Jim didn't think they were lying so he scanned them with his senses. He felt a faint hum from on of Broots' feet.
"Broots, take off your left shoe."
"Just take it off, NOW!" Jim ordered.
With a puzzled look Broots complied with the order. He handed the shoe to Jim and watched in disbelief as the big man using his partner's knife cut the shoe apart. Between the layers of the shoe sole he found a state of the art transmitter. Broots recognized it as a prototype from the Centre. His face paled and he started to shake.
"I swear on my daughter's life that I didn't know anything about this."
Jim stared at him for a minute and then let him off the hook. "It's okay Broots, calm down. I know you didn't have anything to do with this." Jim looked at Sidney. "We need to get out of here now. We can't take the two of you with us." He reached into the pack Blair had left in the car. He pulled out the extra tiewraps he used when he ran out of handcuffs. Jim tied Sidney and Broots' hands behind their backs.
Jarod bent down to talk to them. "Thank you both, I know you put your lives at risk for me. I won't forget." He placed his hand on Sidney's shoulder. "I will be in touch." Jarod stood and walked to the car.
"The others will be here in about an hour. They will be fine." Jim reassured Jarod.
As the car drove away Broots turned to Sidney. "Do you think we will see them again?"
"I wouldn't be surprised." Sidney answered, settling himself into a more comfortable position. "I wouldn't be surprised.
A half-hour down the road, just as Blair was waking up, Jim heard the sound of an approaching vehicle. Focusing his sight he spotted the car carrying Centre personnel and Miss Parker.
"Jarod get down, Parker is just ahead." Jim warned. Jarod ducked down. Jim could hear Miss Parker's litany of complaints as the cars passed each other.
"Why the hell is Sidney out here in the boonies? I can't believe he and that twit Broots could have found Jarod. It's not possible..."
Jim laughed, "You can get up now."
Jarod looked out the rear window. "I almost feel sorry for those two, almost." Jarod turned and settled back into the seat for the trip back to Jonesboro.
"Tyler Prescott the Third was returned to his family last night under unusual circumstances. As suddenly as he was taken, Tyler was returned." The camera panned back to show the now reunited family. Reporters gathered around asking questions.
"Tyler, who brought you home?" Shouted one of the reporters. The little boy ducked his head, pressing his face against his mother's shoulder. His father raised a hand motioning for quiet. When the reporters settled down, he answered for his son.
"Tyler doesn't remember much of what happened. Remember he is only five years old. All he is sure of is that two bad men took him away and some good people brought him home. Any further details will be released by the police department when they finish their investigation. Thank you."
The family quickly returned to the house. Tyler smiled as he looked over his mother's shoulder into the camera.
"How's the kid?" Jim asked.
Blair smiled. "He's fine, happy to be home." He looked over at Jarod who had watched the interview on the hotel TV. "He said to tell you good bye."
"I'm glad this one had a happy ending." Jared smiled.
"Where are you going from here?" Jim asked.
"Anywhere away from the Centre." Jarod said with a sad smile.
On the flight home Blair worried. "Do you think he will be okay."
"I'm sure he'll be fine and if not, you know we will find out." Jim answered.
Blair smiled and leaned his head against Jim's shoulder and fell asleep. "Rest while you can, Chief." Jim looked down at his exhausted partner. "I have a lot of new tests for you."
"I heard that."