Part One: Rage
Later, he would marvel that it had taken him even as long as this to explode. The emotions churning within him were so strong and unfamiliar that they simply overwhelmed him. He had a newfound respect for their previous owner--not that he hadn't respected him before, and sympathized, but now that he had experienced true emotion for the first time, he was awed at the strength and humility that had hidden within that compact body.
In the meantime, though, there was only the rage.
If Captain Simon Banks and Detective Jim Ellison had been paying any kind of attention to civilian observer Blair Sandburg, they would have seen his light blue eyes darken to a stormy grey, his full lips pulling away from clenched teeth as he began to lose his tenuous hold on his sanity. Upon seeing this, they might have stopped what they were doing and asked him what was wrong, and upon getting their answer, perhaps they might have tried to soothe his ruffled feathers. But they weren't paying attention, that was the problem. They were cutting him off, discounting his opinions, talking over him. So when he let out a primal cry of rage and all the windows in Simon's office exploded outward, it came as a complete surprise.
It only took a matter of seconds. Simon and Jim leapt from their seats as screams of shock and fear echoed throughout the bullpen. Seasoned officers drew their guns and aimed them at the source of the disturbance, only to drop them as the weapons burned white-hot and exploded in their hands. People dropped down under their desks as computer screens imploded, pens and pencils snapped in half, and coffee mugs blew apart. And in the middle of it all was Blair, his teeth clenched and grinding, arms flung out from his body, shoulder-length curls blowing about in a wind with no source, eyes glowing blood-red.
When it was finally over, as papers floated calmly back to the floor and the only sounds in the room were harsh breathing and muffled sobs, Blair smiled.
"What the hell was that?" Simon's voice, shaky with residual fear, finally broke the hush as he surveyed the damage.
Blair whirled around and growled at him, and Simon shrunk back, barely registering it as Jim stepped in front of him, holding a hand out to his agitated friend.
"Hey, Chief," Jim said quietly, shakily. "What's going on, here?"
Blair slapped the hand away. "What's going on? What's going on?" His voice rose steadily in volume as he spoke, and it took on a deep, guttural tone that no one recognized as his own.
The door to Major Crimes slammed shut and locked itself, shutting out the people rushing from nearby offices to find out what had happened and offer any necessary aid. They pressed their faces against the windows and knocked frantically, calling out to the people trapped inside, but no sound broke through. Not even the Sentinel could hear them.
"Who do you think I am?" Blair spoke quietly now, but his voice still carried throughout the room. He stepped into the middle of the bullpen, turned away from Simon and Jim and looked at the rest of the people in the room. "What do you think I am? A flake? A child? A... an annoyance you can use and abuse and ignore as you see fit?"
"No--" Jim began as he inched closer, but it was Blair's turn to cut him off.
"A joke, maybe? Is that what you see?"
People were slowly coming out from under their desks, shaky and unsure. Joel Taggart got to his feet first, and he, too, held out a hand. "Blair, did...did you do this?"
Blair faced him and his gaze softened just slightly. "No. Not Blair." Then he turned back to the Sentinel and glowered at him, his formerly blue eyes still glowing blood red. "You didn't even notice, did you? He lived with you for three years and you didn't notice."
"Notice what?" Jim was nervous now, and very afraid. "You're not making any sense, Sandburg."
"I am not Blair Sandburg!"
Jim flinched away, the inhuman roar causing a spike in his hearing.
"Blair died in that fountain over three months ago, or didn't you notice a change? Am I really that good of an actor, Detective, or are you just that uncaring?"
"What are you talking about?" Joel Taggart had gone utterly grey, staring at the man he could only believe had gone completely insane.
The man looked kindly back at him, his expression in direct contrast to the venomous glares he continued to direct at Simon and Jim. "I suppose I should explain," he admitted, his mannerisms and language nothing like those of the Blair Sandburg they had all gotten to know and love over their three-year association. "I am a spirit, or, I suppose, a demon. I had been watching Blair Sandburg for years, ever since I became aware of the great power he possessed."
The demon began to pace slowly back and forth, seemingly unaffected by the whispers and heated denials that followed its announcement. "He was an empath, did you know that? With certain telepathic abilities. And only a few months ago, his power increased, when he was passed The Way of the Shaman by a Chopec warrior-healer. Of course, he was oblivious to it, as were all of you. That only made him more attractive to me. If I were a less savory and much more stupid individual, I might have killed him and attempted to absorb those powers, but I knew that he had to be alive for them to be utilized. I also had grown to admire him after my many years of observation, so I had no intention of seeing him harmed."
The demon, seeing that most of its audience was even more confused than they had been when it had begun its explanation, turned a nasty grin on Jim. "Would you like to tell them your secret, or should I? It's essential to my story, I'm afraid, and they won't understand until they've heard it."
Ellison's eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched even further. The demon's grin widened in response.
"Very well, I guess it's up to me. Detective Ellison is a Sentinel. In other words, he has five heightened senses--sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. The Chopec warrior who passed Blair the title of Shaman was a mentor of Detective Ellison's, dating back to his time in Peru."
Again, whispers filled the room as the huddled officers tried to absorb what they were being told.
"Didn't you wonder about his claims of extraordinary feats such as seeing Tommy Juno, clear as day, from over 200 yards away--and in the dead of night?" The spirit's cruel sneer looked completely out of place on Blair's normally gentle visage. "And hadn't you ever wondered why Sandburg spent so much time with him, and how your star detective managed to solve such a large percentage of his cases? It's easy, really. Blair Sandburg was his Shaman and Guide. He helped Detective Ellison to control his senses, and use them to the best of his ability."
It then directed its narrative to Jim, its voice taking on a cutting tone. "But you never appreciated that, did you, oh, Great Sentinel? You took him for granted. You undermined both him and his work in anthropology time and time again, despite the fact that it was his studies that brought the two of you together, and gave him the knowledge he needed to help you." It stepped up to him, invading his personal space. "And he died for that."
"What are you saying?" Taggart asked, desperately wanting to understand. "If he's dead, then how are you... What did you..."
"I saw his body dying, so I took it over." The demon shrugged, pushing a stray curl behind its ear. "Once I did so, I tried to live his life as he would have lived it. I wanted to learn, and I did. I have never lived as a human being before. The depth of emotions astounded me. I was distracted from my study of human nature for a short time, by the strength of them."
It had stepped away from Jim, leaving the detective pale and shaking with anger. Now it paced leisurely back and forth, arms folded behind its back. "Being a demon, I didn't have much in the way of emotion. Love, hate, anger, fear...it was all the same to me. But not to Blair. Even now, in my anger, I can feel the love he had for all of you. He was dedicated to you." It turned back to Jim. "Especially you. He loved you more than life itself, despite everything. You should be glad it was me you spoke to in the hospital, instead of him. I wouldn't have wanted him to hear what you had to say about the vision that had meant so much to him, even as he died." Its eyes flashed red with anger once more. "Do you remember what you said?" Its lips curled into a snarl as it repeated Jim's words, and everyone in the room gasped as the words came forth from those lips--in Jim's own voice. "I don't think I'm ready to take that trip with you, Chief."
The demon shot forward and shoved Jim to the floor, standing over him and screaming its dissatisfaction. "He would have taken any damned trip you asked him to, and you couldn't even give him that, could you!"
"Stop..." His anger gone, Jim had gone utterly white, his eyes wide and wet with sudden understanding and grief, his voice shaky and weak. "Stop, I didn't mean--"
"You never meant anything," it scoffed, unforgiving. "You said all kinds of things in fear, and in anger, and you would always come back and say you didn't mean it. There were always excuses and never any changes."
"I didn't... I wasn't--" Jim was at a loss for words. He gulped, his thoughts and emotions plainly visible on his face. He didn't even attempt to get up off the floor. "I thought he knew," he finally finished, his voice whisper-soft.
"What do you want?" Simon interrupted, needing to at least attempt to take charge of the situation.
"Want?" The demon shrugged again. "I don't want anything, I'm just pissed off. I started off wanting power, but Blair changed me. You've all seen my strength, I could easily destroy this entire city if I wanted. Probably the entire state, or more. But he wouldn't want me to, and so I won't. Before, I would have had a plan. I would never have acted without thinking, but emotions make you do that, don't they? They cloud your judgment."
"Can you bring Blair back?" Detective Brian Rafe's voice was shaky, but clear. He faced the demon defiantly, trying to hide his trembling hands behind his back. "Can you give us a chance to...apologize?"
The demon regarded him intently for a long time, finally giving a secret smile when Rafe's gaze did not waver. "How interesting that those of you who have no need for apologies are the ones most willing to give them." It looked around the room again, its eyes lingering on Taggart, Brown, Rafe and Connor. "You forget that I have inherited his empathic abilities. I know what each of you is feeling right now. I can feel your guilt, your sympathy and your confusion as well as if it were my own."
Its anger seemed to have faded somewhat as it turned back to Jim, who still slumped motionless on the floor. "I know how badly you feel," it allowed. "You did care for him, even if you were loathe to admit it."
Simon folded his arms across his chest. "If he was...an empath...he should have known that we appreciated him. How could he have thought..."
"I told you, he didn't know just how powerful he was. He didn't understand his abilities." The glow in the demon's eyes slowly faded, and the red of its irises turned back to blue. "I'll make you a deal."
It looked down at Jim and spoke only to him. "I will leave here. I will release the imprisonment spell I have placed on the doors and the windows and I will let you be. Blair is, to quote a movie he once saw, only mostly dead. Since I have kept his body alive, his soul is still tethered to it and to this world. If you can convince him to return to his life, I will willingly give this body back to its original owner. But if you fail..."
"We'll never see either of you again," Jim finished numbly.
"Exactly." The demon gave a slight wave of its hand and the people outside the room froze as still as marble as the door unlocked itself and swung open. The not-Blair strode out calmly among them, never looking back. Behind it, the windows to Simon's office reconstructed themselves. Computers and coffee mugs were repaired, wind-blown papers re-stacked, ruined guns regained their functionality, and the burned hands of those who had tried to use them...healed. The statue-like crowd vanished back to their own desks with no memory of the incident, the clock hands turned back, and everything was normal again.
But Blair was gone.