Visitations from the Past
Blair pushed the play button on the answering machine as he rushed around trying to get his books packed for a teaching day at the university. As much as he loved teaching, there were days when he resented the time taken away from what had become the main purpose in his life...the care and guidance of his Sentinel. As the message played, he stopped dead in his tracks.
"Blair, this is Jordan. Your mom gave me your phone number when I ran into her. I'll be in Cascade for a couple of days and would like to see you. If its okay, please call me at 555-2179."
Jim was standing near his roommate and noticed that, while Blair was smiling at the message. His heart was racing with the particular stutter-step Jim had always associated with fear, or anxiety in the younger man.
"What's up, Chief? Who is this Jordan person?" Asked Jim.
"Man, she is one of the nicest people I ever knew. Naomi and I lived with her and her dad." At the last word, Blair's heart started racing again. Jim knew something was wrong, but the past few years had taught him not to push. It wouldn't do any good if the younger man wasn't ready to talk. He knew he would learn in due time.
"How long did you live with them?"
"I think it was about a year. I'm not really sure," Blair said with a frown. He shook his head. "It was great, though. Out in the middle of nowhere, no big cities, no pollution, no crime." Jim again heard the change in heart rhythm. "I was about six years old, I think. Jordan was about 12. I think she looked after me. I know we spent a lot of time together while my mom was busy."
Jim felt a flash of anger towards Naomi. He never could understand her benign neglect of her son. He knew she loved Blair, but sometimes it was hard to tell. "Man, the things we got to do, climbing trees, exploring any where we wanted to go." Blair smiled. "It was one of the best times I had when I was little."
"So, are you going to call her and invite her to dinner?"
Blair shook himself out of the memories and picked up the phone. He looked over at Jim, "Yeah, I will. I'll let you know her answer when I see you this afternoon. Do you want me to try and set it up for tomorrow night?"
"OK, Chief. Unless we get a new case, that should be fine." Jim smiled as he walked out the door, shaking his head. It was going to be fun finding out more about his young friend's childhood from the point of view of a friend rather than a parent.
* * * * *
Blair went through the loft like a tornado. He cleaned an already clean loft spotless. He was determined to make everything perfect for his friends visit. Jim finally put a halt to it when he watched the younger may dust the same shelf for the third time. He sent him to his room to get ready. Jim chuckled as he listened to Blair trying to choose what to wear. When it became obvious to Jim that Blair had worried himself to a stand still, he entered the room.
"Why are you so nervous?" Jim asked patiently.
"It's been such a long time. I just want to make a good impression."
"Let me get this straight. You saw her last when you were six years old, right?" Jim asked. When Blair nodded, Jim continued, "You were still in the grubby little kid stage, right?" Blair nodded again, starting to understand where his friend was heading. Jim laughed, "Then basically any thing you wear will be an improvement." Blair made a face at Jim and started to relax. His partner always knew the right thing to say to get him to calm down. The younger man grabbed a shirt from the pile, and finished getting ready. He took one last look around the living room, and started finishing touches for the special meal he had made, and pronounced everything ready.
Jim was trying not to laugh at the excited seriousness of his partner. In the back of his mind a bit of worry remained. He had not forgotten the shadow of fear he had seen on Blair's face, and hoped this visit would not cause problems for his friend.
//Well, the wait is over,// thought the Sentinel, hearing footsteps on the stairs. Jim alerted Blair. The younger man jumped up and ran to the door. He threw it open and stood looking up with a dumbfounded look on his face. Standing in front of him was a stunning woman with long blond hair draping over her right shoulder and covering the right side of her face. It wasn't her looks that silenced Blair; he had always known she would be beautiful. He had just never pictured her over six feet tall.
"Bear, are you going to let me in?" Jordan asked with a smile.
Jim moved the still stunned Blair out of the way. "Come in. I think Blair is having trouble connecting his mental image to reality." Jim explained before cuffing his partner on the back of the head to jolt him out of his mini-zone. Jordan was highly amused with the reaction she had received from Blair.
Blair looked at Jim and then at Jordan and back again, shaking his head he muttered under his breath, "Great! I feel like a shrub between two redwoods." Jim turned away trying not to laugh at the mental image his guide had just provided. Blair realized how rude he was being. "I'm sorry, Jordan. Come in and have a seat. I hope you like Pasta. It'll be ready in just a few minutes. Would you like something to drink? Do you like wine or do you prefer something non-alcoholic?" He smacked his forehead when he realized he hadn't introduced his two friends to each other. "Jordan, this is Jim, my partner. Jim, this is Jordan."
"Whoa, Chief. Take a breath." Blair looked at Jim with a puzzled expression. Jim turned to Jordan. "Was he like this when he was little?" Jim asked.
She smiled at Blair, "Yes, he was. Most of the time he talked a mile a minute. It would take a lot to shut him up." Jim noticed a brief look of pain cross her face; if he had blinked, he would have missed it. "But it only worked for a little while and then he was off and running again." Blair blushed, realizing he had been running off at the mouth.
Jim took pity on his embarrassed partner. "Come on, Chief. Help me finish dinner."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Asked Jordan.
"No," Jim replied. "It's ready to go on the table."
During dinner they traded stories. Jordan told about her travels with her company and Blair countered with his tales of harrowing expeditions. Jim sat back and enjoyed the enthusiasm and exaggerations of the pair now trying to top each other's stories of dangerous exploits while traveling.
"I can't believe you work with the police department, even as an observer." Jim and Blair looked at each other and back to Jordan. "No offense, but the way Naomi is I wouldn't have thought you would want to be within ten feet of the police."
"I'm studying the police for my dissertation, as an example of a closed society charged with the protection of the public. I was teamed with Jim because he didn't have a partner." He smiled at his partner. "I'm surprised he didn't kick me out of the truck that first week."
"Wellll," Jim drawled. "I can't say the thought never crossed my mind." He looked at the pair. "In all seriousness, we work well together. Sometimes a different perspective can be what solves a case." He smiled, "Enough of this. I want to hear stories about what Blair was like as a kid."
Jordan started sharing funny Blair-as-a-child stories that even had the younger man laughing until Jim asked her to clarify something he remembered her saying when she came in.
"Jordan, what's the story behind 'Bear'." Jim asked.
Blair covered his face with his hands. He sat in his chair just shaking his head, muttering, "Just let me die of embarrassment right now."
"You have to remember Blair was very young and with a child's single mindedness he decided he wanted a pet. When Naomi told him no, he pouted for about five minutes and then started plotting how to get one on his own. He knew there were animals in the woods and decided to get one for his own. He tried everything, food, milk, you name it. If he thought it would work, he brought it out. He was so determined, he would sit for hours at a time without moving waiting for something to get close."
Jim gave a snort of disbelief. "Blair sit still for hours? You have to be kidding."
"No, he was just so determined that I think he would have waited until hell froze over before he would give up on having something of his very own."
There was a touch of sadness in Blair's laughter that only his Sentinel could hear.
"He had been trying for days, and it looked hopeless. His mom and I tried to make him give up. That only made him even more stubborn. I stopped going out with him hoping he would get bored and quit." Jordan shook her head. "One afternoon he didn't come home for lunch so I went to look for him. I found him rolling around on the ground with a bear cub." Jim looked in disbelief at his roommate. Blair just shrugged and smiled.
"This was the strange part. I started moving to get him away from the cub because I knew where ever the baby was, mom wasn't going to be far behind. From out of nowhere the mother bear showed up. She put herself between Blair and myself. She must have felt he was hers. She didn't try to attack; she just stayed in between."
"I don't remember this part," Blair said puzzled.
"You were sitting on the ground talking to the cub. You didn't even seem to notice she was there at first. Then you stood up and almost gave me a heart attack when you walked up to the big bear and told her very matter-of-factly that you had to go home. At first she would not move to let you pass. She seemed reluctant to let you go. You rested your head on her neck and petted her good-bye. You said it was time to go and took my hand. You had to lead me home because I was so shaken."
"How did Naomi take the news about the bear?" Jim was curious. He had a feeling he knew the answer.
"She thought I was pretending. She just said 'that's nice, baby' and asked if I had any other pretend animals. I can understand why she didn't believe us. It is a pretty outlandish story."
Jim could hear the hint of disappointment and hurt in the young man's voice. He had been right. Jim placed his hand on his friend's shoulder. "I believe you." That simple statement was rewarded with a smile. "Chief, why don't you go and get the pictures you wanted to show Jordan while we clean up."
Blair smiled and jumped up from the table, all but racing to his room to collect the photos. Jim shook his head //kids// he thought. Jim wondered about the missing element from Blair and Jordan's stories. There was no mention of her father. He did not intend to bring the subject up. He remembered Blair's reaction the other day to the mention of the man.
During the showing of the pictures, Jordan absently pushed her hair behind her ear. Jim noticed the scar on her face that extended from her temple down along her hair line disappearing under the collar of her sweater. She realized what she had done and quickly glanced at Jim to see if he had noticed but he had already look away. She moved her hair back into place.
It was past midnight when the travel and excitement of the visit caught up with her. Jim had headed for his bed earlier leaving the two friends talking about the times they shared. One minute she was looking at pictures and the next she dozed off. Blair quietly stood. He went to his room, cleaned off his bed, and changed the sheets. When he returned, he gently shook Jordan's shoulder.
"What is it?" Jordan asked sleepily.
"You fell asleep." Blair explained.
Jordan looked at her watch, "Oh man, I didn't realize how late it was. I'd better get going." She looked around for her shoes.
"Why don't you stay here?" Blair offered. "You can take my room. I'll take the couch." It looked as she was going to argue with him. "Look, you're too tired to drive and I just put clean sheets on the bed." He looked at he with lost puppy eyes. She had no choice but to agree.
* * * * *
"Don't hurt her. Please, please don't hurt her."
Jim was jolted awake by the whispered sounds of his Guides nightmare. He raced down the stairs.
"Please, let us go. Let go, let go." The crying voice grew louder. Jim knelt beside his young friend, who was curled up in a ball on the floor.
"Come on, Chief. Wake up. It's just a nightmare." Jim gently shook him trying to get through to the frightened young man. Blair turned to the sound of his Blessed Protector's voice, he knew the voice meant safety. He launched himself into Jim's arms, knocking the big man back onto the couch. Jim gathered the his young friend into his arms and started rocking him. Blair's voice quieted but it took longer for the sobs to end. Jim could hear Blair's heartbeat slow. He knew the moment Blair fell back into a deep sleep. Placing a pillow on his lap, Jim shifted Blair into a position more comfortable for sleep. Jim knew he would be sitting up the rest of the night.
He heard a muffled cry from the doorway of Blair's room. Jim looked over and saw Jordan standing in the darkness, tears flowing down her face.
"I thought he had forgotten. I hoped he would never remember that day," she whispered trying not to awaken the sleeping man.
"Tell me." Jim quietly demanded. She shook her head. "I can't help him unless I know who his demons are." He watched her reach up and touch the side of her face. "Does it have anything to do with your scar?"
Jordan walked over to the couch and sat on the floor in front of Jim. She began to explain. "At first, when Blair and Naomi came to live with us everything was fine. My father and Naomi were so wrapped up in each other they didn't notice anything else. Blair had me to be with, so he wasn't any trouble. We had so much fun. He was the greatest kid, always asking questions. All you have to do is picture him the way I first saw him. This adorable waif-like child with a mop of curly hair and a smile that could light up a dark room. If he looked at you with those blue eyes, you would be willing to move heaven and earth for him. Well, most of you would." She stopped and looked down at her hands.
Jim felt trembling start under his hand. He started stroking Blair's shoulder, knowing he was awake and listening. "Help me find out what happened." Blair whispered so only his Sentinel could hear. Jim's grasp tightened as he agreed.
Jordan took a deep breath and continued. "Everything was fine for the first few months. I guess Naomi was starting to feel restless. She started to pay more attention to Blair and me. I think my father was beginning to feel threatened. He would yell at Blair whenever Naomi wasn't around. I think until then, Blair had never been yelled at. He tried to be good, but it was hard for anyone to follow my father's rules. Invariably something would happen and the yelling would begin again."
Blair began to shake and his heartrate increase. Jim tightened his hold on the younger man. He knew the story was about to get much worse.
"After a while yelling wasn't enough, and if we were in range we would get smacked. I had learned how to get out of the way and tried to keep Blair out of his sight." The two men could hear the guilt and sorrow in her voice. "But sometimes I wasn't careful enough."
Jim heard a whisper from his Guide, "It wasn't her fault." Jim squeezed his friend's shoulder acknowledging his words.
Jordan continued. "Every once in a while he would land a blow that would leave a bruise. At first he explained the bruises when Naomi noticed as the result of our playing to rough and being clumsy. You know the usual excuses." She looked up from her hands. She saw Blair was awake and listening.
"It wasn't your fault." Blair told her softly, reaching out to hold her hand.
"I should have done something. I should have made sure Naomi knew what was going on."
"You were both only kids, It was not your fault. You need to stop blaming yourself." Jim told her. In his thoughts he did blame Naomi for not paying close enough attention to her son. "Finish the story. Blair needs to know what happened."
Her voice was shaky but she continued. "My father got it into his head that Blair was the reason Naomi was getting ready to leave him. The bruises were happening so often now that Naomi was no longer buying his explanations. He blamed Blair for the bruises. Saying that it was his fault for being bad, he had to be punished. He actually expected Naomi to understand." Jordan shook her head in disbelief. "One night it all came to a head. He found Naomi's stash of money. Money she had been squirreling away." Jim felt Blair tense; he rubbed the back of the young man's neck to keep him calm. Jordan took a deep breath. This was the hardest part of the story and she hoped Blair could handle it. "He totally lost it, I heard him smashing things down stairs. Then it went quiet. I hoped he had passed out but then I heard him coming up the stairs talking to himself, saying he was going to get rid of the brat once and for all. I watched him go to Blair's room. I went to the door and saw him take a pillow from the bed. When he put it over Blair's face, I ran to his and Naomi's room and got the gun from his nightstand. I ran back and yelled at him to stop while I pointed the gun at him. He let go of the pillow and started for me. My hands were shaking so bad I could hardly hold the gun. He asked me what I thought I was doing. I told him to leave us alone. He knocked the gun out of my hands, enraged I had stood up to him and stopped him. He grabbed me by the throat slamming me against the wall. He told me I was as bad as my mother and needed to be punished. He pulled the knife from his belt and started to cut my face." She stopped her eyes tightly closed trying to keep the images at bay.
Blair reached out and stroked her face. "It's OK. You are safe. He can't touch you here." She shook with remembered fear. Blair's voice calmed her enough to be able to continue. She looked at Blair and went on with the story.
"The blood was running into my eyes, I heard you screaming, 'Don't hurt her, let her go.' My father just laughed, and pulled back the knife to stab me. The next thing I heard was a gunshot. I wiped the blood out of my eyes and looked at my father. He had a stunned look on his face, then he fell to the floor in front of me. I looked past his body and saw you with a blank look on your face and the gun in your hand." She looked up at Jim. "I was so scared. I was in so much pain and Blair's expression was so empty."
Jim looked down at his friend. Blair was looking up at the ceiling with a lost expression on his face. "You OK, Chief?" Jim asked as he brushed the tear soaked hair from his young partner's face.
Blair took a deep breath and looked at the worried older man. "I'm OK, big guy." Jim raised an eyebrow. Blair gave him a slight smile. "I will be. I have my Blessed Protector to make sure of it."
"You've got that right," Jim agreed. He now understood his friend's aversion to guns.
Blair turned to Jordan and asked, "What happened next?"
Jordan was shaken by the pain in the younger man's face...pain reflected in his partner's eyes. We started walking down the road. We were in shock and the only thing I could think of was to get out of that house and find Naomi. She would know what to do, how to make it all better. We had walked part of the way to town when Naomi saw us on the side of the road on her way home from work." Jordan looked at Jim. "Can you imagine the fear and panic she must have felt seeing the two of us covered with blood walking down the side of the road?"
Jim didn't have to imagine; he knew how he felt every time his partner was hurt, sometimes in the line of duty, usually because he was with Jim. Blair watched the expressions cross his Sentinel's face. "Don't go there. I'm where I want to be. Where I need to be." He whispered. Jim nodded.
"Naomi bundled us into the car and raced to the hospital. I think she called the police from there." Jordan said. "The rest of the time was a blur. I was doped up for the pain and nightmares. When I came out of it, my grandparents were there. A few days later they took me away. I kept in contact with Naomi for a while. She always sends me a postcard from the places she visits. That's how I found out when Blair started talking again."
Blair started at that statement. "What do you mean, started talking again?" Blair sat up staying close to his partner.
"You don't even remember that?" She asked. Blair shook his head slightly. "You didn't speak again for almost six months."
Blair looked at Jim and tried to smile. "Wow, man, can you believe that? Six whole months and not a word."
"No, Chief. It boggles the mind." Jim said with a smile. He could tell that his young friend was getting a handle on his fear.
"The reason you didn't have to testify at the trial was because you couldn't speak and your age."
"What trial?" Blair demanded.
"My father's trial for attempted murder."
"Wait a minute. From what you said, I thought I had killed him."
"Oh, no, I'm sorry. I didn't make it clear. You just wounded him." She took Blair's hand in hers. "You didn't kill him."
Blair sagged with relief. "Thank God I didn't kill him. Talk about bad Karma." Jordan looked confused. Jim just patted his friend on the back. He understood what he meant.
Jim listened to Jordan's heartbeat increase. He knew she had more to say, but if it was what he thought, he didn't know if Blair would be able to handle it.
"Why don't we try to get some shut-eye. Morning will be here soon enough." Jim looked at Jordan, hoping she would understand. Jordan nodded and headed back to bed. When the door closed, Jim looked down at his friend.
"How are you doing, Chief?"
"OK, I guess. It's not everyday you find out you've lost almost a year of memories, and almost killed someone."
"There anything I can do?"
"Nah," Blair said. "Just you being here makes it easier to handle." He grabbed the remote and turned on the TV, keeping the volume low. He turned to Jim. "I'm just going to watch for a while, you don't need to stay up, too." He sat back on the couch, and against house rules, put his feet on the coffee table.
"Well, I'm not really sleepy, and that looks like a really good old movie."
They settled back and watched the movie together. Jim monitored his Guide. He could hear and see him relax. As Blair drifted off to sleep, he shifted until he was leaning against Jim, unconsciously knowing he would be safe. Jim put the pillow back in his lap and gently moved the young man to a more comfortable position. He covered him with the quilt from the back of the couch. Jim rested his head on the back of the couch. He tried to get some sleep. Blair stirred restlessly. Jim calmed him with a hand gently stroking the sleeping man's forehead.
Blair smelled fresh coffee and stretched, opening his eyes when he hit Jim with an outstretched hand. He looked up at his partner, and shook his head.
'You never went to bed did you?" He asked as he sat up.
"No, but I did sleep, so don't worry about it." Jim stretched and stood intent on getting a cup of coffee.
"Thanks, man," Blair said just loudly enough for Jim to hear. Jim smiled and walked to the kitchen.
"What do you guys want for breakfast?" Jordan asked.
Blair wrapped the quilt around himself. "Wow, breakfast, and I don't have to cook it. I think I'm in heaven." Blair said bouncing in place.
Jim laughed, "Don't get used to it, Chief."
Jordan was heartened by the evidence of the strong friendship between the two men. She knew it would be important in the days to come.
"Hit the showers, Chief. Five minutes and you'd better be out, or no breakfast." The Sentinel took an appreciative sniff, "And it smells really good."
"All right, all right, I'm hurrying." Blair ran to the bathroom. He didn't want to miss a meal he didn't have to fix.
Jim stood watching Jordan while he sipped his coffee.
"He's getting out, isn't he?" Jim asked quietly.
She dropped the spoon into the batter and gaped at the tall detective. She slowly nodded her head.
"He is supposed to get out sometime this week." She closed her eyes and leaned against the counter. "Naomi told me he didn't remember anything that happened that day, I didn't believe her. I needed to tell him in person, I didn't know he would react like he did."
"What did you expect, did you think he would just shrug it off?"
Jordan shook her head. Blair walked out of the bathroom drying his hair. He draped the towel around his neck, and walked into the kitchen. He felt the tension in the room.
"What's going on, guys?" He placed his hand on Jim's arm, puzzled by the tension in his friend. Jim looked at his young friend and attempted to smile.
"We'll talk about it after breakfast."
"Why not now?"
"Trust me, Chief. After breakfast will be soon enough."
"Just one question. How high is this conversation going to be on the Sandburg panic scale? Remember, I will have a full stomach."
"Don't worry. Breakfast shouldn't make a reappearance." Jim directed his partner to a chair.
"Shouldn't reappear. That is, like, so comforting," Blair muttered under his breath.
Jordan walked to the table carrying a platter covered with blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon and toast. Blair kept the flow of conversation going during the meal. Jordan was amazed by the amount of food the two men were putting away.
After the breakfast mess was cleaned up to Jim's satisfaction, they all sat back down at the table. Jordan knew it was time to tell Blair the rest of the story. She looked down at her folded hands and began to speak in a slow monotone voice.
"Bruce Michaelson is going to be released from San Quentin this week." Her hands started to shake.
Blair put his hand on her arm. "It's OK, just get it out."
She took a deep breath and looked at Blair. "He knows where you are." She broke eye contact. She felt it was her fault.
Jim saw the fear flicker across Blair's face, controlled so quickly only Jim could have seen it. "Well, it's not like I won't have police protection." Blair joked. Jim nodded at his partner. //You got that straight.// Jim thought, "What about you?" Blair asked, "Does he know where you are?"
"Not any more, I sold everything and accepted a transfer last week. He won't be able to find me. I'm leaving for Europe tomorrow. But I had to find you and warn you before I left."
Blair grasped her trembling hands. "It's OK." Blair said in a calm voice. Jim recognized the tone as the one his Guide used on him.
"How do you know he is still going to come after Blair?" Asked Jim.
"Checked with the warden a month ago. I just wanted to find out the day he was getting out. The warden told me they had been trying to get in touch with both of us, to warn us. He had been making threats. He told me they had tossed his cell and found threatening letters with my address and your address at that old warehouse."
"Why didn't they get in touch with you then?" Jim asked.
"I was out of town, and Blair's mail was returned, no forwarding address."
"At least we will be able to get ready for him, in case he does come after me. Right, Jim?" Blair looked to his partner for reassurance.
"Yeah, we need to bring Simon in on this one." Jim looked steadily at his partner. "Will you agree to stay in a safe house, until we know what is going on?" Jim knew it was a useless request but he felt he had to try.
Blair snorted, "Yeah. right. The only way I would agree is if you plan to be there, too." He started to pace.
"If I had to," Jim stated. He would do anything within his power to keep his young partner safe.
Blair stood beside Jim and placed his hand on the older man's shoulder. "We are not going to pack up our lives because of a possible threat. We just have to be careful." Jim nodded not completely happy with the situation. Blair looked at Jordan and realized what he had said. He was afraid he may have made her feel like a coward for leaving.
"I'm sorry, Jordan. I didn't mean...."
"It's OK, Blair, Believe me, even if things hadn't happened the way they did, I would still be leaving. I never stay in any one place for very long."
"Sounds like someone I used to know." Jim looked at Blair and smiled.
Blair remembered when he was like Jordan, always picking up and moving at a moment's notice. //Not any more, not now that he had a real home.//
Jordan checked the time. "Well, I have four hours before I have to catch my flight. How about showing me where you work after I get my stuff gathered. Okay, Bear?."
Blair looked at his partner. "Go ahead, Chief, I need to check out a few things with Simon. Why don't you meet me at the station in two and a half hours?"
"That sounds great." Blair grabbed his backpack and Jordan's bag and they were off. Jim could hear his partner's enthusiastic chatter all the way to the street. He was always amazed by the resiliency of the young man.
Jim walked into Major Crimes. He smiled at the questioning glances that all seemed to ask, 'where's Sandburg?' Jim knocked on the door to his Captain's office.
"Come in," Simon bellowed. He looked up as Ellison entered. He automatically looked for his best detective's long-haired shadow. From the look on Jim's face he knew there was a problem. "What has Sandburg done now?"
Jim looked at him and shook his head. "How did you know this is about Blair?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because you look like the world is resting on your shoulders and your shadow is nowhere to be seen. Does two plus two mean anything to you?" Simon asked sarcastically.
Jim laughed. "You're right, sir." Jim proceeded to explain about the possible danger Blair was going to be in if this guy followed through.
"What do we need to do?" Simon asked.
"I'm going to call San Quentin, and double check when this guy is to be released."
Simon agreed, "We'll decide if we need a safe house when we have all of the facts."
Simon watched from his office as Jim called the prison. Within a moment everything changed. He saw the big detective pale and slam down the phone. Jim rushed into Simon's office, dialing the number to Blair's cell phone. As it rang, he turned to Simon.
"Michaelson was released two days ago." Jim told his worried boss. He looked at the phone that was still ringing. "Damn it, no answer. I'm going to check his office."
"I'll put out an APB. What are they driving?" Simon asked.
"They have Jordan's rental, a..." Jim thought for a moment. "A blue '97 Mustang. License number AVB 439." With that last bit of information he was out the door.
Jim beat all previous records getting to the University. As he drove on campus, he began searching for any sign of his friend. He pulled to stop in the fire lane and jumped out of the truck, racing for Blair's office. He frantically listened for his Guide's heartbeat as he ran. He heard Jordan groan as he reached the office, and he could smell blood. His heart plummeted when he realized it was Blair's. He forced the door open and saw Jordan lying on the floor in front of Blair's desk. Jim called an ambulance. After checking her injuries, to make sure there was nothing life-threatening, he called Simon.
"Blair's gone. I'm sure Michaelson has him."
"The APB has gone out. We will find him." Simon tried to reassure his friend.
"We'd better," exclaimed Jim. Jordan stirred. "I'll get back with you as soon as I find out anything." Jim hung up the phone and turned his attention to Jordan. "Can you hear me, Jordan?" He fought the impulse to shake her. He knew she was his best bet for a clue to find Blair.
Jordan raised her hand to her head. "What happened?" She looked up at Jim. "Oh, no." She saw the fury in the icy blue eyes staring down at her. "He has Blair, doesn't he?"
"Yes." It looked like she was going to break down and cry. "We don't have time for you to fall apart." She looked at him in shock. "I need you to tell me everything that happened here."
Jordan took a deep breath. "We toured the campus. Blair wanted to show me everything. This was our last stop. We were laughing at the looks we were getting from the students. When we got to the office, we didn't notice he was already in the room. He hit me and knocked me into the wall, then grabbed Blair by the neck." She started to shake and cry softly.
Jim knew his Guide was hurt. He could smell the blood. Michaelson's chances for survival were getting smaller by the minute.
"Did he say anything?"
Jordan tried to calm down. "He said he was going to take Blair where no one would hear him scream. He said he would be back for me as soon as he got what he wanted from Blair. He told me not to run because he would always find me."
The muscles in Jim's jaw clenched as he listened. He searched the room for clues to help him find his partner. He took a breath, and tried to focus his senses on the room.
Simon entered the room just ahead of the paramedics. He immediately saw that Jim had zoned. While the medics worked on Jordan, Simon tried to bring Jim back.
"Come on, Jim, snap out of it." Simon whispered, "I need your help. Blair needs you now!"
Jim registered his Captain's voice. //Great, I zoned.// He watched the activity in the room, "How long was I out?"
"As far as I can tell, only a few minutes. Did you find anything?" Simon asked.
"I think so." Jim bent down to check a small patch of dried mud he spotted on the floor. He brought a small sample up to his nose. "Something in this dirt smells familiar. I was trying to place the scent when I zoned."
"What can I do to help?" Simon asked.
"Just keep talking to me. If it looks like I'm zoning, shake me." Jim explained.
Simon had to shake Jim twice during his examination of the dirt sample and the room.
Jim suddenly stood and headed out the door. He turned back to Simon, "You coming?" Simon nodded and hurried to keep up.
"What did you find?"
"Do you remember the old quarry? The one about twenty miles outside the city, with the sulfur deposits?" Jim asked, "That's what I smelled in the office. I'm sure that's where he has taken Blair." Jim felt a sense of urgency and increased speed towards the quarry.
* * *
Blair woke up, and began to take inventory of himself and his surroundings. //Great, it's dark, jolting, and smells like exhaust. I just love riding in the trunk. // He shook his head, trying to ignore the pounding in his head. //I can't believe he got the drop on me in my own office.// Blair berated himself. //Shit, my own office. That is *so* not cool. I hope Jim finds me soon.// Blair felt the car turn on to a road even more rutted than the one before. "Ow! Damn, that hurts!" he exclaimed, as his body bounced up and hit the underside of the trunk lid. Blair was certain the jerk in the driver's seat was hitting every major pot hole and rut in the road on purpose. He could feel the bruises forming. All to soon the car slowed to a stop. Blair heard the car door slam and footsteps as Michaelson walked to the rear of the car.
BAM, BAM, BAM.
Blair's head rang with the sound as Michaelson beat on the trunk.
"You still in there, hippie. You didn't go and die on me, did you? I've got questions for you to answer before I kill you." He shouted.
//That's comforting,// thought Blair. Blair tried to cover his eyes, as the strong sunlight flooded the opening trunk. Michaelson grabbed the smaller man's bound wrists and hauled him out of the car. When his eyes stopped tearing from the sudden exposure to the light, he was able to focus and get his first good look at the man who had kidnapped him.
//Damn, he looks just as big as he did when I was little.// Thought Blair, as he looked up at the man in front of him. The years had not been kind to Michaelson. He had been cut across the face, damaging the muscles. //He looks like Raymond Massey in 'Arsenic and Old Lace'.//
Michaelson grabbed Blair by the throat and shook him. "Where is Naomi?" demanded Michaelson.
"What?" The question took Blair by surprise.
He lifted Blair by the neck. "Where is she?" He yelled into Blair's face. Blair shook his head. "You'll tell me you little punk or I'll throw you in the quarry and let you drown."
//Why me, I always get the psychos who like to use water as a murder weapon.// "I don't know where she is. She doesn't check in with me."
Michaelson backhanded Blair across the face, knocking the younger man to his knees. "Don't give me that load of crap. I know Naomi. She wouldn't go anywhere and not let her precious brat know how to get in touch."
Blair laughed. He knew it was a stupid thing to do, but he couldn't help himself. "You're kidding, right? We are talking about my mom? Man, I haven't heard from her for a year. She only gets in touch when she feels like it."
Michaelson pulled a knife from his belt. //Oh, shit. Here we go again. I'm sorry, Jim.// Blair thought as the knife moved closer. He felt it cut into his shoulder. Michaelson suddenly cut the duct tape binding Blair's wrists. Before the younger man could take advantage of the changed situation, Michaelson picked him up and threw him over the edge into the quarry.
//Why me?// Thought Blair as he plummeted down into the sulfurous water. He felt like he would sink forever. He fought his way to the surface. //I hate treading water.//
Michaelson yelled down to Blair, "Tell me where Naomi is and I will throw you a rope."
"Man, you lie so bad. I'm never going to tell you anything." Blair shouted defiantly.
"Never is a long time, boy. We'll see how you feel in a couple of hours." He gestured with the rifle he had retrieved from the car. "If you get close to the side, I will shoot you, so keep paddling."
"I can't believe this is happening." Blair kept up a running commentary, "I hate this. I really, really hate this. I'm never going to get this nasty smell out of my hair. Jim is going to make me sleep on the balcony for the rest of my life." Blair was starting to feel weak. The wound in his shoulder was oozing blood. "At least the water isn't too cold. I would really hate it if it were too cold." As he grew tired he was tempted to try and swim for the other side of the quarry, but he remembered the psycho above with the rifle. He continued to talk to himself, trying to stay awake. "Maybe if I could hold my breath long enough...no, that won't work. The sick SOB would probably just start shooting. Come on, Jim...anytime now...my arms are getting tired. You know I float like a rock."
* * *
Jim stopped a mile from the quarry. He didn't want to spook Michaelson into killing Blair. He and Simon made their way to the area where Jim felt his Guide was being held. He reached out with his hearing, trusting Simon to keep him from zoning out. The Sentinel was rewarded with the sound of his Guide's voice.
"Dammit, Jim, would you please hurry! I'm about to permanently lose my sense of smell. This is not good. I'm starting to feel like a prune from the neck down. A prune that smells like rotten eggs...great imagery, Sandburg."
If Jim hadn't been so worried, he might have laughed at Blair's running monologue. He could hear the strain in his Guides voice as he continued to talk.
"Michaelson has at least one gun, a rifle, and he's got a knife. I know you will be here soon, so be careful."
It amazed the big detective, that even in a crisis, his Guide was still concerned with his Sentinel's safety. He turned to Simon, "Michaelson has a gun. From what I can hear, he is keeping Blair in the water until he tells him where Naomi is." Jim could hear Michaelson as he yelled down at Blair.
"You had enough, hippie? Tell me where she is!"
Blair just shook his head. He was too tired to even yell at the creep on the edge of the quarry.
"I guess I need to give you a little incentive."
Jim heard the round being chambered, and took off running.
"Jim?" Simon tried to catch up with him to find out what was going on. He knew when he heard the rifle shot. Jim burst out of the trees behind Michaelson and attacked like an enraged grizzly protecting its young. Michaelson tried to club the angry detective with the rifle. It was snatched out of his hands by the out of control Sentinel, who then threw the rifle across the clearing and proceeded to pulverize the man who had hurt his Guide.
"Jim, a little help here, please," The words came from below. Jim threw the unconscious man towards Simon and ran to the edge. He quickly dialed down his sense of smell. He could see his partner still treading water, but surrounding area was slowly turning red.
"Simon, find a rope." Jim said, then dove into the water, quickly swimming to his partner's side.
Blair looked at his friend, "I knew you would get here in time."
"Sorry it took so long, Chief." He apologized as he checked the wound in Blair's shoulder and the bullet
wound in his right arm. "You're lucky, Chief. It looks like the bullet went straight through." Jim pulled off his shirt and tied it around Blair's upper arm and shoulder, trying to control the bleeding. He knew Blair was going into shock. He pulled his Guide close and holding him up, swam to the side of the quarry. Blair tried to help.
"Just take it easy, Chief. I'll hold you up. You can rest now."
"OK, Jim, I'm so tired." Blair leaned his head against Jim's arm and closed his eyes.
"I said rest, Sandburg, not sleep. No sleeping until we get topside. You got that? Just hang on." Jim ordered.
"Yeah, yeah, no sleep." Blair yawned and reached up anchoring his arm around Jim's neck. "Not going anywhere."
"Talk to me, Chief. Don't drift off on me."
"Can't drift, I've got an anchor." He looked up at Jim. "How did you find me?"
"Michaelson must have had some mud on his shoes. Some of it was in your office. It smelled like sulfur. I remembered the quarry, and Simon and I headed here." Jim stopped focused on the area above them. "Simon, you about ready up there?"
"Hang on, Jim, we'll have you out of there in just a minute." Simon yelled down.
Jim recognized the many voices he could hear milling about the edge. It sounded as the majority of Major Crimes were there. He looked down at Blair to share the information as Blair slipped into unconsciousness. The younger man's grip on his partner's neck did not relax. Jim still tightened his arm around his Guide.
"Now would be a good time, Simon."
A rope was thrown over the edge to the two in the water.
"OK, Jim, send Sandburg up, then we'll get you." Simon yelled.
"No can do. The kid is out. He wouldn't be able to protect himself on the way up. You're going to have to haul us both up at the same time." Jim proceeded to tie the rope around himself and his partner.
"You ready, Jim?"
"Yeah, haul away." Jim leaned back holding Blair against his chest, and started to walk up the side of the quarry as they pulled from the top. Half way up Blair started to stir. "Take it easy, Chief. Don't move. We're almost out of here." He felt Blair's arm tighten around his neck. He continued to talk to his Guide as calmly as possible the rest of the way up.
Rafe and Brown were at the edge ready to pull then over, when Simon and Joel got them to the top. They grabbed hold of both men and pulled them to safety.
"Can I open my eyes now?" came a whisper from Blair.
Jim looked down at his partner. "Yeah, buddy, you can open your eyes. We're safe." Blair opened his eyes and looked around at the relieved faces surrounding him and smiled. "You need to let go of my neck so we check you out."
"No, can't do it. I'll fall in," Blair mumbled.
"I won't let you fall," Jim promised. "Just let me catch my breath and we'll get out of here." Jim looked up at the group of worried men.
"Is he going to be okay?" Joel asked.
Jim brushed the hair off of his young friend's face. "He'll be fine once we get him to a hospital." He reached up to Simon with his free hand. "Help me up." They hauled him to his feet. He was still holding his semi-conscious Guide.
"I'll take him," offered Simon.
Jim just shook his head. "No, I've got him. You need to drive." He tossed the truck keys to Simon.
"Brown, Rafe, you can follow us to the hospital with that piece of garbage." Simon ordered, gesturing at Michaelson.
Jim heard Rafe mutter, "To bad we can't save the taxpayers and just dump the trash in the quarry. Nah, that would be littering." The big detective smiled as he maneuvered Blair and himself into the truck.
Half way to the hospital, Jim could feel the tremors begin as his partner began to wake up. He tightened his grip on the younger man.
"Calm down, you're safe, no one is going to hurt you." Jim said quietly. The younger man relaxed, calmed by the sound of his sentinel's voice.
Blair opened his eyes. "Where are we?" He pulled back to look. when he moved his arm he felt a shaft of pain. He wished he could dial down the pain the way Jim did. "I got shot, didn't I?"
"Yep, we're on our way to the hospital to get it taken care of."
"Oh, man, not again."
"Look on the bright side. You're current on your tetanus shots."
"Some bright side." Blair asked, "How did we get out of the quarry?"
Jim laughed. "Back up arrived. The guys pulled us out."
"What about Michaelson?"
"He's with Rafe and Brown. They are taking him to the hospital," Simon explained.
"What happened to him?"
Simon chuckled, "He got between you and Jim. The minute I heard the gun shot I knew Michaelson would be lucky if Jim didn't kill him then and there."
"Since he is still alive, I guess he got lucky." Blair said, "Maybe they will keep him this time."
//Amen to that,// thought Jim. He knew they were in for another round of nightmares, but they would get through them just like always. As long as they were together they could get through anything.
* * *
"Man, it is good to be home." Blair stated as he walked into the loft. "I've missed sleeping in my own bed."
"You were only there over night, Chief." Jim said grinning.
"But it seemed like forever," Blair groused. he maneuvered carefully around to the couch taking care not to bump his arm. "I wish Jordan had been able to stay a little longer."
"I'm sure she will keep in touch." Jim reassured his roommate as he put his partner's bag into his room.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Come take a look."
Blair wearily pulled himself off of the couch. He stopped in disbelief in the doorway to his room. Sitting on his bed was a huge stuffed bear, with a note pinned to it. The note read,
'For my Little Bear, 'til I see you again.
I hope every time you see this bear you will
remember me. I will see you again soon.
Jim gently cuffed Blair on the head, "Come on, 'Little Bear,' let's fix something to eat."
Blair bounced after him, "Jim, you aren't going to mention this at the station are you?"
Jim just looked at him and smiled. "Mention what, Bear?"