Divided We Fall
By Guenwyvar

Disclaimer: The Sentinel, The Dead Zone, and all it's characters don't belong to me.

March 21, 1999

Blair sat in his bedroom staring at the floor. He couldn't believe the turn his life had suddenly taken. A couple of days ago, he had a job and friends and was well on his way to getting his doctorate. Now, he had nothing. Granted, he had chosen to commit career and academic suicide in order to give Jim back the life his dissertation had basically destroyed. But now, he felt lost. He didn't know what to do next. He was no longer employed at Rainier, nor was he a grad student there. His dissertation was gone, so he had no real reason to continue working as a police observer, which brought him to Simon's offer.

He sighed as he lay back on his bed, contemplating the offer of becoming an official member of Major Crimes, complete with badge and gun. It would be great to work with Jim full time and be by his side as a real partner and back him up whenever he needed it, and truth be told, he was kind of getting tired of the academic life. Recently, he had begun to realize that the world of academia was very different from the police world, and he wasn't sure he liked it. The whole Brad Ventriss fiasco showed him that, and he found himself wanting to be with Jim and the other guys from Major Crimes more and more.

But could he become a real detective? That was the real question. Sure, he was good at finding clues and solving mysteries and doing the paperwork, but the one thing he was most hung up on was carrying a gun all the time with the intent to use it. He had handled guns before since he started riding with Jim, even fired one once, but that was different. He never really had any intention of killing anyone or even hitting anyone. If he became a detective and started carrying around a gun, there was a greater risk that he would have to use it with the intent to kill if necessary. He didn't know if he could do that. He had swore when he started riding with Jim that he wouldn't carry around a gun, but what else was there for him? No one else would hire a fraud.

Blair got up and grabbed his duffle bag. He needed time to think, away from any influences. He needed to get away from Cascade for a little while until he got his head on straight. He started packing clothes and any essentials he might need.

"Blair?"

Blair paused momentarily in his packing and looked back at Jim standing in the doorway.

"Where are you going?"

"I need to get away for a while. I need time to think," Blair replied as he continued to pack.

"You're not taking Simon's offer, are you?" Jim asked.

Blair sighed and turned to face his friend. The other man held his cane in one hand and was leaning against the doorframe to take the pressure off his injured leg, and Blair was reminded of how close they all came to getting killed by Zeller. It had been a trying few days to say the least, and things still haven't quite settled down. All the more reason to get out of Cascade for a while.

"I didn't say that," Blair said. "I just need time to think things through and process everything."

"What's there to think about?" Jim asked.

"Look, Jim, I would love to be your full-time partner and to back you up 24/7. I really would. But it's not just that. To carry a gun all the time and to run the risk of having to use it, of having to hurt or kill someone. I don't know if I can do that. I need to get away. I need to think before I make any more life-altering decisions."

Blair saw the hurt in Jim's eyes before his expression hardened. "Fine. Then go," he said, turning away.

"Jim, come on," Blair said, pulling him back. "Don't be that way. You're my best friend. That will never change. You'll always be my best friend no matter what happens, no matter what I decide. And I'm sorry all this happened. I should have kept that dissertation more secured. And I shouldn't have left it where Naomi could get to it. No one was supposed to see that. That was for your eyes alone."

Jim looked at him with barely concealed surprise. "It was?"

"Of course. I had actually changed my subject to the closed societies one. I couldn't figure out how to do the sentinel one without exposing you."

Jim lowered his eyes. "I'm sorry too. I really treated you like crap these past few days."

"It's ok," Blair said with a shrug.

"No, it's not. I put all the blame on your shoulders even though it was Naomi who sent it to the publisher, and you had nothing to do with that."

"It was still partially my fault."

Silence fell between them as each thought about what to say next. Finally, Jim said, "Do you really have to go?"

Blair pursed his lips as he looked up into Jim's pale blue eyes. He didn't want to go, but he still felt that he should. "Yeah, I think I do."

Jim sighed and nodded. He couldn't ask Blair to stay. After everything the younger man had done to protect him, it wouldn't be fair to the kid to make him do anything he didn't want to do.

"But you'll be back, right?" Jim asked.

Blair thought about it. Would he be back? Even if he didn't take the job offer, would he still come back? There really was nothing for him here in Cascade anymore. But looking up at the taller man standing before him, he realized that that wasn't entirely true. He still had Jim, his sentinel, his partner, his friend, and he still had all the people at the department who still considered him friend. Maybe he would come back, even if it's just for a little while.

He looked at Jim and nodded. "Yeah, I'll be back. It might be a while though. I don't know when I'll be back."

Jim's body relaxed ever so slightly. "I can wait," he said.

Blair nodded and patted Jim on the shoulder before going back into his room to finish packing. Within minutes, he was heading toward the front door with his backpack and duffel bag. He turned back to Jim.

"You sure you're going to be ok?" Blair asked. After all the stress of the past few days, he really hated to leave Jim without the benefit of a guide right now. He knew how stress could affect Jim's senses sometimes.

"I'll be fine, Chief," Jim reassured.

Blair nodded. "Ok. Take care of yourself."

"Yeah, you too. So where are you going anyway?"

"I don't know. But I'll call you when I get there. Bye Jim."

He hefted his backpack a little higher on his shoulder and opened the door. Jim held door open and watched as Blair walked down the hall toward the elevator. It wasn't until after Blair was already in the elevator that Jim spoke.

"Good-bye Chief."


Cleaves Mills, Maine

May 15, 1999

Blair walked out of his apartment and made sure to lock the door securely. It wasn't the best accommodations the small town had to offer, but it was the best he could do with what little money he had. He hadn't really had much when he left Cascade.

He left the three story apartment building and started walking down the street. He had gotten a job at the local convenience store to pay the bills until either he found something better or he decided to go back to Cascade. It was a simple job and it was right down the street from his apartment so he could just walk to work. It saved on gas, and besides, the Volvo had been acting up the last few weeks, and he really didn't have the money to get it fixed if it broke down.

He had been living in Cleaves Mills for about a month and a half after having enjoyed two weeks of driving across country and seeing the sights. It had been a long time since he'd been on the road. He didn't know why he had decided to settle in Cleaves Mills. There had been plenty of choices much closer to home, but he had always liked the small town. He and Naomi had stayed there for a while when he was a kid, and he had always thought it was a peaceful town, which was exactly what he needed right now after all the craziness of the dissertation disaster.

As he walked down the street, he pulled out his cell phone and went through his contacts until he came to Jim's number. He had told Jim that he would call him once he got settled, and he had yet to do that. He didn't know why he was procrastinating. He really did want to talk to Jim and find out how he was doing, but he knew that Jim would ask him if he'd made a decision yet. And the truth was, he hadn't. He had gone over it many times over the past couple months, and he was still no closer to reaching a decision. But he supposed that was no reason to put off calling his best friend.

He was just about to push the dial button when he heard sirens coming closer. He stopped and looked up as a white grand prix took a turn too fast and crashed into a light pole. Police cruisers pulled up right behind it as the driver of the grand prix got out and started running across the park past Blair. Several police officers were right behind him.

Blair shook his head. So much for peaceful. Maybe he really was a trouble magnet. Of course he had to do something. It wasn't in his nature to just stand there and watch. Forgetting about the call he was going to make, he put his cell phone away and looked around for something he could use. He found a large rock about the size of a baseball on the ground nearby and hefted it in his hands. This should do nicely, he thought. He pulled his arm back and launched the rock at the retreating suspect, hitting him in the back of the head and causing him to pitch forward onto the grass. The police in pursuit were on him in seconds.

Blair smiled proudly as he watched the police slap the handcuffs on the guy and haul him to his feet. One of the officers, a tall dark-haired man whom Blair believed was the sheriff, handed the suspect off to one of his deputies and then turned toward Blair. Blair averted his gaze a little in embarrassment as the sheriff walked toward him.

"Hi there," the sheriff greeted. "I'm Sheriff Bannerman. And you are?"

"Uh, Blair Sandburg."

Bannerman looked back at the suspect being escorted to a waiting police cruiser and then back at Blair. "You throw that?"

Blair blushed. "Uh, yeah."

"Nice shot."

Blair smiled. "Thanks. I've had a little practice."

"Listen, thanks for your help. We really appreciate it."

"Oh, it was no problem," Blair said with a shrug.

"I haven't seen you around. You just passing through?"

"No, actually, I'm going to be staying here for a little while. I'm working at the convenience store just the down street, and I should probably get going. I'm already late," Blair rambled on, looking at his watch.

"Well, then I won't keep you anymore. And maybe we'll see each other again."

"Hopefully under better circumstances."

Bannerman smiled. "Right. Thanks again."

The two men shook hands before the sheriff departed, and Blair hurried the last few blocks to the convenience store. The man behind the counter, Steve Wilkes, greeted him with a smile.

"Hey Blair."

"Hey. Sorry I'm late. I got a little side-tracked on the way over here," Blair said as he joined Steve behind the counter and took off his coat.

"It's no problem, Blair. It's just a few minutes."

After setting his coat down, Blair took over the second register in order to help dwindle the line that had formed at the register that Steve had been manning. After the line of people was taken care of, Steve turned to Blair.

"So, what got you so distracted that you were late coming when you only live like three blocks away?" he asked.

"Why do you want to know?" Blair asked as he opened a new roll of quarters and dumped the coins into his register.

"Because I'm curious, man."

Blair looked at the man leaning against the counter. He was about twenty with a buzz cut and an earring in his left ear.

"I helped the police catch a suspect," Blair answered.

"No shit. Really? What did you do? Like tackle him or something?"

Blair laughed. "No. I, uh, I threw a rock at his head."

Steve stared at him for a few minutes. "Seriously? Dude, that is so cool."

"It was nothing really," Blair said modestly.

"Are you kidding? Of course it's something. We don't get much action around here, at least none that I've seen."

"Action?" Blair said. "You make it sound like a movie."

"Well, you know, this being a small town, it gets kind of boring sometimes. I'd actually kind of like to be a cop someday and get a daily dose of the action."

Blair shook his head at Steve's naiveté. "Steve, trust me. Being a cop is not all gun fights and car chases." Unless of course your name is Jim Ellison and you live in a city like Cascade, the most dangerous city in America, he thought. "There are boring aspects to the job as well."

"Oh yeah? Like what?"

"Like paperwork. Lots and lots of paperwork. And interviewing witnesses and suspects. And sometimes going around in circles chasing your tail because there aren't enough clues to get an arrest."

"You sound like you're speaking from experience."

Blair sighed. "I've worked with the police, yeah."

"So you were a cop?"

"No, I didn't say that. I was just attached to the police. I was never a cop." As Simon so graciously pointed out time and time again, he thought. Of course, if he did decide to become a cop, Simon couldn't say that anymore. Admittedly, Jim didn't always get in gun fights and car chases but more often than most Blair thought, and if he was going to be Jim's full time partner, he was going to have to participate in those gun battles as well. He shook his head. He so wasn't ready to think about this right now.

"Hey," Steve said, tapping Blair on the shoulder. "Check that out."

Blair looked up as a man with dark blonde hair carrying a cane walked in the store.

"You know who that is?" Steve asked.

Blair shook his head. He had seen him in the store a couple of times but had never actually talked to him.

"That's John Smith."

Blair looked at him, expecting more. When nothing else was said, Blair asked, "Should I know who that is?"

"He's a psychic, dude. He gets visions of the future or the past."

Blair raised his eyebrows. "You're joking."

"No way. I've read about him in the papers. He's the real deal. He's even helped the police out a few times. The sheriff is always calling him in on cases."

Blair looked at the man with the cane as he walked down the aisles looking at the selection. He believed that there are some people out there who had real psychic ability even though there are people out there who are big fakes and scam people out of their hard-earned cash, but not all psychics were like that. He remembered when they had a psychic working with him and Jim on a kidnapping case, Charlie Spring. He also remembered that at first he had only been out for the publicity, but he pulled through in the end. He wondered if this John Smith was the real deal, and if so, what kind of psychic was he?

He looked back at Steve. "How does it work?" he asked.

"Touch. He has to touch something or someone in order to get a vision. And it's just crazy how he got it."

Blair's brow furrowed. "What do you mean?" he asked. He always thought psychics were born with the gift.

"He was in a car accident and was in a coma for six years, and when he woke up, he started having visions."

Blair looked back at Smith thoughtfully. Maybe he had the ability all along. It just didn't become fully realized until that accident.

"Well, I'll leave you in charge of registers. I've got to go restock the freezers," Steve said as he walked away.

Blair nodded absently as he watched John Smith grab a bag of chips and then a bottle of pop from the cooler before walking to the register.

"How's it going?" Blair said as he rang up the purchases.

"Pretty good. You?"

Blair shrugged. "Ok, I guess." He really wanted to ask Smith a lot of questions about his abilities, but he didn't want to pry so he kept his mouth shut.

"You're new here, aren't you?" John asked as he pulled his money out of his pocket.

"How did you guess?" Blair said with a smile, pushing buttons on the cash register and announcing the total.

"I come in here a lot." He handed Blair a few bills. "I haven't seen you here before."

Blair laughed as he opened the drawer, put the money inside, and then counted out his change. "Good call. I just moved here a month and a half ago."

"Oh, well, welcome to Cleaves Mills."

"Thanks." Blair finished counting out the change and handed it to John.

John held his hand out to receive the coins, but the minute their hands made contact, John's eyes took on a faraway look as if he was somewhere else entirely. Blair froze wondering if he really was having a vision. It only lasted a few seconds before he blinked and looked at Blair.

"Something wrong?" Blair asked. He really wanted to ask if he just had a vision but held his tongue, reminding himself that he was a human being not a novelty act.

"Do me a favor. When you go home today, take a different route."

Blair's brow furrowed. "What?"

"Just trust me. Take a different route."

"Um, ok."

Satisfied, John grabbed his purchases and headed out the door. Blair watched him leave, wondering what he had just seen.


Later that evening at around 6:00pm, Blair was heading home. He paused at the corner looking down the street he usually took home, Whacker Avenue, and remembered what John Smith had said. He was tempted to just take that route home anyway just to see if something did happen but in the end decided not to. He had seen the look in John's eyes. Whatever was going to happen, it wasn't good. So Blair walked down to the next street. It would be kind of a roundabout way to get to his apartment, but at least he knew it would be safer.

When he got to his apartment, he dropped his keys on the small table by the door, which had become habit since he moved in with Jim, and plopped down on the couch. He was lucky the apartment had come furnished. Most apartments didn't, and he really couldn't afford buying new furniture for a place that he most likely wouldn't be staying in for too long. Sure the couch was lumpy and uncomfortable, and if he sat in the middle he'd have a spring digging into his butt, and the TV didn't have many channels and lousy reception, and the wood coffee table had nicks and scratches in it, but it was better than nothing.

Leaning back into the uncomfortable couch, he pulled out his cell phone. He hadn't gotten a chance to call Jim what with the police chase and then having to get to work. Now was as good a time as any. He couldn't put it off any longer. Besides, he felt he really needed to talk to Jim. He dialed the detective's number and waited for it to go through.

"Yeah?" Jim answered.

Blair's brow furrowed. Jim's voice sounded a little rough. "Hey Jim."

"Oh, hey Chief. How's it going?" Jim's voice lightened, and Blair could picture the smile on his friend's face.

"Good, good. You?"

"Uh, I'm ok. How come it took you so long to call?"

Yeah, Blair didn't believe that for a second, but he'd get to that in a minute. First, he decided to answer Jim's question. "Yeah, sorry about that. I was traveling across the country for like two weeks, and then I've been working on getting settled and getting a job."

"Oh. You're across the country?" Jim asked, sounding less than enthused.

"Yeah, Cleaves Mills, Maine."

"Why so far away?"

"Well, I always thought Cleaves Mills was kind of peaceful, which was exactly what I needed right now."

"Oh, ok."

Blair knew Jim wasn't happy about the incredible distance that was between them at the moment. Hell, Blair didn't like it either, but he needed this. They were both just going to have to deal.

"So how are your senses doing?"

"They're ok."

Blair rolled his eyes. "Yeah right. Jim, come on. I can hear the pain in your voice. Will you talk to me please?" He swore it was like pulling teeth.

Jim sighed. "They've been a little active lately."

"You mean spiking?"

"Yeah."

Blair took a deep breath. "Well, ok. Let's work on the dials then."

Blair spent the next few minutes guiding Jim through the process of turning down the dials on each of his senses one by one. When they were finished, Blair could tell Jim was more relaxed.

"Better?" Blair asked.

"Yeah. Thanks, Chief. So you're all settled now?"

"Oh yeah. I've got a great apartment and everything," Blair exaggerated, leaning back and putting his feet on the coffee table. Within a few minutes, the table collapsed under the weight, and Blair jumped forward staring at the remains of the crumby table.

"What was that?" Jim asked.

"Uh, nothing. That was next door," Blair answered, leaning back again. Piece of crap table, he thought.

They talked well into the night.


The next day, Blair headed to work. On the way there, he noticed one of the trees on Whacker Avenue had chunks of bark missing. It looked like something had slammed into it hard. He didn't remember any of the trees looking like that yesterday. He shrugged and went on his way.

Arriving at the store, he walked behind the counter and put his coat away. He was working with Steve again today. He wondered where the young man was at.

"Hey Blair. Did you hear about what happened last night?" Steve asked as he walked in from the back room.

"No, what?"

"Some drunk driver smashed in to a tree over on Whacker Avenue last night."

Blair raised his eyebrows. That must have been what had happened to that tree he saw. Could that have been why John Smith told him to take a different route last night?

"What time was that?" he asked.

"Um, just after six, I think. Hey, isn't that when you got off?" Steve asked as an afterthought.

"Yeah."

"Don't you usually take Whacker Avenue home?"

"Yeah, but I didn't last night. I went a different way."

"Good thing. You could have been on Whacker when that happened. Hell, you could have been killed. I heard the car was totaled. Man, there was nothing left. Lucky you decided to take the long way home, huh?" He clapped Blair on the back as he grabbed a mop and walked out from behind the counter to mop the floor.

"Yeah, lucky," Blair muttered. Could that have been what John had seen? Him getting hit by that drunk driver on the way home? It was too big of a coincidence. Maybe John Smith really was a psychic.


Cascade, Washington

May 16, 1999

Jim smacked the snooze button to shut off the alarm that sounded like an air raid siren in his head. He groaned and rubbed his temples before he even attempted to sit up. He had a constant headache for the past couple of weeks now. The phone call from Blair last night had helped dissipate it, but now it was back with a vengeance. The pain had gotten steadily worse since Blair left. It hadn't been so bad at first. When he'd get home from work, he'd just spend some time in Blair's room taking in the young man's scent, and the headache would just fade away. But now that Blair's scent had all but disappeared from the loft, he had no relief.

Jim finally climbed out of bed and headed downstairs to take a shower and get ready for work. After a quick breakfast, he grabbed his keys and the bottle of aspirin that had become ever present since his headaches started getting worse. He supposed he should have told Blair about the headaches when he called last night, but what could the young man do from all the way across the country? No, he would just have to deal with it until Blair decided to come back. He never realized how much he depended on Blair's presence to control his senses until the kid wasn't a permanent fixture in his life anymore. He hoped Blair returned soon.

Arriving at the station, Jim went straight to his desk. He sat down and popped a couple of aspirin in his mouth before powering up his computer.

"Whoa, Jim. You ok?" Henri Brown asked as he walked by. "You look like you haven't slept for a week."

Jim rubbed his forehead with his thumb and forefinger. "Gee thanks for pointing that out, H. I hadn't noticed when I looked in the mirror this morning," he said sarcastically.

"Hey man. No need to snap. I was just worried that's all," Henri said, holding up his hands in a placating manner before going over to his desk.

Jim sighed. He'd been snapping a lot lately. He didn't even know why. "I'm sorry, H. Thanks for the concern. I'm fine."

Simon's office door opened and the captain stepped out. "Ellison," he called, beckoning the detective to his office with a finger.

Jim stood up, unconsciously grabbing the aspirin bottle, and walked into Simon's office. "Yes sir?"

"Have a seat, Jim," Simon said as he took a seat behind his desk. He waited for the detective to sit before speaking again. "How are you?"

"I'm fine, sir," Jim answered almost automatically. Simon had been asking him that question for weeks now.

"Uh huh," Simon said disbelievingly, his eyes straying to the aspirin bottle still in Jim's hand. "Still have a headache I see."

Jim looked down at the bottle. He hadn't even realized he had it. "Uh yeah, but it's not that bad." That was a lie of course. His head felt like someone was jamming a red hot poker right between his eyes.

"Are you sure?" Simon asked calculatingly.

"Yeah, Simon. I'm sure. Was that all?"

Simon took a deep breath and decided to get down to business. "No, we've got a DB over on 67th street just past the train station. It's an apartment complex. Here's the address. I want you and Connor to go check it out."

"Oh come on, Simon. I don't need Connor with me."

"You need someone to watch your back now that the kid is gone especially since your senses have been acting up lately. Don't think I haven't noticed. Now Connor is the only one who knows about your sentinel abilities and knows what to look for."

"Yeah, but she's lousy at it," Jim muttered.

Simon glared at him. "You don't have much of a choice. Now get out of here."

"Yes sir," Jim said reluctantly and walked out of the office.

Simon had been partnering him with Connor since Blair left, but she just didn't have the temperament to be a guide. She didn't have the finesse Blair had or the patience, and she just wasn't able to reach him the way Blair could and guide him to the best of his abilities. She just ended up irritating him more and more.

"Let's go, Connor. We've got work to do," Jim said as he grabbed his coat and walked out of the bullpen.


Arriving at his destination, Jim got out of the truck and looked up at the apartment building. He winced at the sound of a jackhammer coming from down the street. There was some road construction going on just down the street, and Jim felt like that jackhammer was drilling into his skull. He rubbed his temple as he walked into the building.

"Are you ok, Jim?" Connor asked, following him inside.

"Fine," Jim answered shortly, turning down the dial on his hearing. Luckily, it worked. The dials had been a little iffy since Blair's departure.

They walked to Apt. 101 and showed their badges to the officer at the door. Jim made his way to the bedroom where the body was found with Connor hurrying to catch up. The body of a woman was sprawled on the bed. The sheets were stained red with blood from the bullet hole in the victim's forehead.

"What have we got?" Jim asked.

"A woman, mid forties, was found shot in the head with a small caliber weapon. The coroner put the time of death at around six this morning," one of the officers answered.

Jim nodded as he put on some rubber gloves and started canvassing the area with his senses. He was fine at first, but then that damn jack hammering intruded in on his attention, and his headache spiked. He grunted in frustration and pain as he rubbed his temples. Damn it. Why did there have to be construction going on down the street?

"Jim, are you alright," Connor asked, placing her hand on his shoulder.

"I'm fine," he grunted, trying desperately to turn down the dials but they weren't working this time, and Connor's hand on his shoulder was just making it worse. "Don't touch me."

Connor slowly retracted her hand, daunted by his volatile tone. "Well, how am I supposed to help you if I can't touch you?"

You could stop that jack hammering for one, Jim thought. Aloud, he said, "I don't know, but find some other way because you're not helping."

Connor remained silent, and Jim was grateful. He took a deep breath and tried to remember all the things Blair had taught him. Breathe and concentrate, he told himself. He tried once more to get something, and the next thing he knew, he felt a stinging pain in his upper arm.

"Ow, Connor! What the hell?" Jim snapped, rubbing his arm where she had pinched him hard.

"What? You were zoning. I had to bring you out of it."

"Couldn't you have found a better way?"

"I'm sorry, but you don't respond to me like you did Sandy."

"Yeah, well, maybe there's a reason for that," Jim mumbled under his breath.

"What did you say?"

"Nothing. I-I can't get anything. I need to get out of here," Jim said, walking out of the room.

He walked out of the apartment ignoring Connor's protests and headed outside to his truck. He knew he was probably going to hear shit from Simon for just leaving a crime scene like this, but he didn't care. He had to get away from the jackhammer. Climbing into the truck, he popped a couple more aspirin and drove off.

He drove around aimlessly thinking. He had never had a problem when he was alone at a crime scene before. Of course at that time, not a day went by where he didn't see or have some kind of contact with Blair. If he didn't see the kid during the day, then they'd see each other later at the loft. Now Blair was just gone, and he guessed his senses didn't like that.

Maybe he was going about this all wrong. If his senses didn't want to cooperate, maybe he should just go back to the old way of doing things before he became a sentinel. Maybe he should just stop using his senses altogether and go back to finding clues the way a normal detective should, at least until Blair came back because the way he was doing things now just wasn't working. And maybe if he stopped using them, this damn headache would go away because it was really starting to bug him.

He found himself back at the station a half hour later ready to face an irate Simon Banks because he had no doubt that Connor had already told the captain about what happened at the crime scene. He parked his truck in the parking lot and headed up to Major Crimes.

As he walking to his desk, his hearing suddenly kicked in, and he heard Connor's and Simon's voices coming from the captain's office. Even though he had decided not to use his senses anymore, he really wanted to hear what they were saying because he knew that it was about him.

"So he just left the crime scene in the middle of the investigation," Simon said.

"Yes sir," Megan answered.

"And he didn't tell you where he was going?"

"No sir. Captain, if I may say so, I think Jim needs to take off for a while. I mean his handle on his senses seems to be getting worse. He's spiking more, and he's zoning out more. And he seems to be getting more pissy. I mean he snapped at me after I brought him out of that zone out today."

"Well, I don't blame him for that. I've seen the way you bring him out of a zone."

"It's the only thing that works. Besides, it's not just me. He's snapping at everybody, and that headache of his seems to never go away. I mean he's popping aspirin like popcorn."

"I have noticed that."

"I think he's on his way to a major burn out if he doesn't get a break soon."

Jim had enough. He got up, walked to the captain's office, and knocked on the door.

"Come," Simon said gruffly.

Jim opened the door and walked in. "Am I interrupting anything?" Jim asked, glaring at Connor.

Megan looked abashed. "How much did you hear?" she asked.

"Enough. So you think I should be taken off the streets, huh Connor?"

Megan opened her mouth and then closed it again at a loss for words.

"She's just worried about you, Jim," Simon broke in. "We all are. You have to admit. Ever since Sandburg left, your senses have been a little off."

"Whoa, hold on," Jim said, holding up his hand. "With all due respect, Captain, but I don't need Sandburg with me all hours of the day in order to function. And I don't need someone babysitting me like I'm some snot-nosed little kid." He looked pointedly at Connor. "I'm a grown man, and I can do my job. I did my job before Sandburg came along, and I can still do my job now that he's gone. And if I have to suppress these senses in order to get you two off my back, then so be it."

"Jim, wait," Simon said, getting up and racing around his desk to meet Jim at the door. "Come on. Don't you think that's a little bit drastic?"

Jim shook his head. "No, Simon. If these damn senses won't cooperate, then there's really no point in me using them. It just messes me and everyone else up. I'm done."

Jim left the office leaving Simon and Megan looking at each other.

"Well, that went well," Megan said sarcastically.


Cleaves Mills, Maine

June 25, 1999

John Smith walked into the Cleaves Mills Convenience Store that was just a block away from his house. He had frequented this store a lot over the years just because it was so close to his house. He'd always stop in there whenever he needed a few small things and he didn't feel doing grocery shopping just yet.

As he walked in the door, he looked to see who was working today. He had gotten to know pretty much all of the employees there pretty well. He smiled at the long-haired man behind the counter, Blair Sandburg, and Blair smiled back. He had gotten to know Blair especially even though he had only started working there a few months ago. Blair was just so easy to talk to. He was easygoing and energetic, and he had one hell of a sense of humor.

There was something else about the man too that had John liking him more. John got the feeling that Blair kind of knew about John's psychic visions even though he had never told him, and they had never talked about it. But ever since John gave Blair that warning to take a different route home a month ago, Blair kind of looked at him a little differently. No doubt he had heard about that drunk driver that had crashed into the tree that night and probably figured out that if he had taken that route home like he did every day, he most likely would have been hit by that drunk driver. Plus all the stories he must have heard about John Smith the psychic probably helped. But Blair never mentioned anything about it. He never asked questions or asked him to tell him his future like he was some cheap fortune teller like so many others have done. He didn't seem scared either and just treated John like he was a normal person. It was kind of nice for a change.

John walked down the aisles, grabbing a few things here and there. Once he had everything he needed, he made his way to the counter.

"Hey John. How's it going?" Blair asked as he started ringing up all of John's items.

"Ok I guess."

"You guess? What does that mean?"

"Well, I've been having problems with my car. It's shaking and stuttering, and I can't figure out what's wrong with it. I really need to get it checked out."

Blair smiled in understanding. "Yeah, I hear that. My car has been acting up since I got here, but then the thing's always been temperamental."

"Oh yeah? Which one is yours?" John asked, looking out the window.

"Oh, it's not out there. Luckily, I live close enough I can walk to work because I swear I'm afraid it's going to blow up or something if I drive it too much. I think it's a little pissed at me for driving it across the country."

John laughed. "Maybe it's time to get a new car."

"Yeah, I thought about that especially since it's not the first time it's been acting up, but I just don't have the money right now," Blair said as he calculated John's total. "That'll be $15.95."

John handed Blair a twenty. The minute Blair's fingers came in contact with the bill, John felt that familiar sensation of being pulled into a vision.

*Vision*

John found himself standing next to the counter at the convenience store. He looked around trying to get his bearings and take everything in for later use. It was nighttime, around 11:00pm judging from the clock on the wall, and there was no one in the store except for Blair who was standing behind the counter reading a magazine and sipping pop through a straw from a Styrofoam cup.

Blair's cell phone rang. He pulled it out and looked at the caller ID before answering.

"Hey Simon. What's up?" There was a pause as he listened. "Well, I'm sorry. I've been at work all day. I couldn't answer my phone. What's going on?" A long pause. "What? You've gotta be kidding me." He turned around so his back was to the door.

While Blair was talking on the phone, a man walked into the store. He wore blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head. John watched this man walk to the back of the store all the while casting frequent glances toward Blair who hadn't even noticed his entrance. The man looked all around the store before finally walking to the counter. He pulled out a gun and pointed it at the back of Blair's head.

"Hang up the phone," the man ordered.

Blair stiffened and slowly turned around, flipping the phone closed and holding up his hands.

"Alright. Take it easy," Blair said calmly.

"Give me all the money in the register. Hurry up!"

"Alright, alright."

Blair put down his phone and opened the register, emptying the contents. The robber looked at the small pile of bills Blair handed him and his face contorted in anger.

"That's it? Where's the rest of it?" the robber yelled angrily.

"That's all that's in the drawer," Blair replied.

"What about a safe? You have to have safe around here."

"I can't open the safe. I don't have the combination."

"You're lying! Open it!"

"I can't."

Suddenly, the robber jumped the counter and clocked Blair on the side of the head with the butt of his gun, knocking him to the ground. He then aimed the gun at Blair's head and pulled the trigger.

*End of Vision*

John blinked and looked at Blair who was giving him a quizzical look, the twenty dollar bill still being held between them. John retracted his hand and sighed. Sometimes he hated the things he saw.

"Is something wrong?" Blair asked.

"Blair, are you working tonight?"

"Yeah," Blair answered slowly. "It's my first night shift."

"Alright, listen. Tonight around eleven, someone is going to come in and try to rob the store," John said gravely.

Blair's eyebrows rose into his hairline. "What? Are you kidding?"

"No, I'm not. He's going to be wearing blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head. He's going to walk to the back of the store, wander around a little bit, and then he's going to walk to the counter and pull out a gun. And when you don't give him what he wants, he's going to shoot you."

Blair's eyes widened and he swallowed hard.

"Blair, I know this is a lot to take in, but I saw it happen."

Blair licked his lips. "You mean you had a vision," he stated.

"Yes. Just please pay attention to who comes in tonight. And don't answer your cell phone."

Blair's brow furrowed in confusion.

"In my vision, you got a call just before the guy came in so you didn't notice him at first until he already had the gun to your head," John explained.

Blair thought about it a moment and then nodded. "Alright. I'll be careful tonight." He put the twenty in the register and handed John his change.

"I'd feel better if you weren't here at all," John said, accepting the change and putting it in his pocket.

"Well, someone has to be here, and it's too late for me to call off. It's going to be ok. I can handle it."

John nodded. He wished he had the confidence Blair seemed to have. But he wasn't going to let Blair handle this alone. After saying good-bye, he grabbed his purchases and walked out. The minute he got outside, he pulled out his cell phone and called Walt.

"Sheriff Bannerman," Walt answered.

"Walt, we've got a problem. The Cleaves Mills Convenience Store is going to be robbed tonight at around 11:00pm."

"Let me guess. You had a vision, right?"

"Yeah, and a friend of mine is going to be killed if we don't stop it."

"Alright. I'll meet you there."


Later that night, Blair stood behind the counter staring at the clock and tapping his fingers on the counter. It was almost 11:00. If John was right, then the store was going to be robbed soon. If John was right, then he was going to die soon. Blair shook his head. No, he couldn't think like that. That wasn't how it was going to go down, he told himself, glancing down at the metal baseball bat he had managed to acquire earlier in the day and was now leaning against the counter within easy reach. He had made sure of that.

Blair sighed and tried not to stare at the clock anymore. This was his first night shift, and his first time being in the store alone. The store would get robbed while he was alone in the store. That was just his kind of luck.

He pulled a magazine from one of the racks and started leafing through it, trying to take his mind off the impending danger looming ahead, but he couldn't concentrate. His cell phone ringing nearly made him jump out of his skin. He pulled the phone from his pocket, remembering John's warning not to answer his phone, but looking at the caller ID and recognizing Simon's number, he had this overwhelming urge to answer. He technically wasn't supposed to answer his phone while he was at work, but he was alone and there were no cameras inside the store so no one would know. Besides, he had a feeling this call was about Jim so he flipped it open.

"Hey Simon. What's up?" He hoped his voice sounded calm.

"Sandburg, why haven't you been answering your phone? I've been trying to call you all day."

"Well, I'm sorry. I've been at work all day. I couldn't answer my phone. What's going on?"

"It's Jim. He's been having some problems lately, and I just couldn't put off calling you anymore. He's been zoning out a lot, and his senses have been spiking. And now he's pretty much unbearable to be around. His attitude is worse than before you showed up. He's snapping at everyone. He's yelling at detectives, uniformed officers, witnesses, and suspects alike. And today he actually hit a suspect during questioning."

"What? You've gotta be kidding me. I just talked to him this morning. He never mentioned any of this. He actually hit a suspect?"

"Yeah. Almost knocked the guy out. I wouldn't be surprised if he sued the department. He was pretty pissed."

As Simon was talking, Blair heard someone walk into the store. He looked up and froze. A man dressed in blue jeans and a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up over his head walked into the store and headed toward the back of the store. Oh my god. That's him just how John described him.

"Uh, Simon, I'm going to have to call you back," Blair said distractedly, keeping his eyes on the man as he wandered around the store looking around nervously.

"What? Sandburg…" Blair closed the phone before Simon could finish. He knew he was probably going to hear from Simon later about hanging up on him, but he'd deal with that later, if he lived long enough that is.

Blair slowly slipped his phone back into his pocket and then reached down for the bat never taking his eyes off the man. Blair's heart was pounding the entire time, but he tried to keep his face neutral so that the robber wouldn't know that Blair was on to him. Blair gripped the bat tighter in one hand as he watched the man approach the counter and pull out a gun.

"Give me all the money in the register. Hurry up!" the man demanded, leveling the gun right at Blair's chest.

"Alright. Alright. Take it easy," Blair said calmly. He punched some buttons to open the register with one hand while keeping the other hand on the bat and hoping the guy didn't notice what he was doing. Blair handed the robber what was in the drawer, which wasn't much, and braced himself for what was to come.

"That's it? Where's the rest of it?" the robber yelled angrily.

"That's all that's in the drawer," Blair replied.

"What about a safe? You have to have safe around here."

"I can't open the safe. I don't have the combination."

"You're lying! Open it!"

"I can't."

The guy looked ready to jump the counter when the door suddenly opened and Sheriff Bannerman and a couple of deputies burst in guns raised. Blair could see John Smith hanging out in the door behind the police. He couldn't have been more relieved in his entire life.

"Freeze! Drop the gun!" Sheriff Bannerman ordered.

The robber spun around to the face the police and that's when Blair took his chance. He brought the bat out from behind the counter and smashed it down on the guy's arm. The man screamed and dropped his gun, clutching his arm. Before the man could make a move toward Blair, the cops were on him, wrestling him to the ground. Blair came out from behind the counter, the bat still raised, and watched as the police forced the man onto his stomach and slapped some cuffs on him.

Bannerman pulled the man to his feet and handed him off to one of the deputies. "Alright. Get this piece of shit out of here," he ordered.

Blair didn't lower the bat until the robber was out of sight. Only then did he feel relaxed enough to put it down.

"Blair, are you alright?" John asked worriedly.

Blair took a deep breath. "Yeah. I'm good. You called the police?"

"Well, I couldn't let you face the guy by yourself."

Blair smiled. "Thanks, John. But how did you get the police to believe you?"

"Oh, it wasn't hard. I've been helping the police out for years. In fact, Walt's a good friend of mine," John said, indicating the sheriff.

"That was a nice move you did there," Walt said as he joined them. "But where did you get the bat?"

"Oh, I bought it on my break. I figured if John's vision was going to come true, I might as well be prepared," Blair said with a shrug.

"Well, it was pretty impressive. Now that's twice you've helped out with an arrest. Maybe you should think about becoming a cop."

"Yeah, maybe," Blair said with a strained smile. If he only knew, he thought. That was the problem. He had been thinking about it. He just hadn't come up with an answer yet.

"I'll need you to come to the station tomorrow morning and give a statement, but in the meantime, go home and relax," Walt said, looking down at Blair's hands.

Blair followed the sheriff's gaze and saw that his hands were shaking. He hadn't even noticed. His adrenalin level was dropping fast, and he was just feeling the weight of what just transpired. He balled one hand into a fist and gripped it with his other hand to stop the shaking.

"Right," Blair said. "But what about the store?"

"I think you can afford to close down for one night. And if your boss has a problem, tell him to talk to me."

Blair smiled. "Ok."

"I'll give you a ride home," John offered.

"Thanks."

In the car on the way to Blair's apartment, Blair stared out the window thinking about what happened and what could have happened. John cast surreptitious glances at the other man as he drove.

"You going to be ok?" John asked.

Blair looked at him and gave him a reassuring smile. "Yeah. It's not the first time I've had a gun pointed at me, but then again, that's not exactly something you get used to. At least I hope not."

"People point guns at you often?" John asked.

"Well, that tends to happen when you work with the police."

"You're a cop?"

Blair looked at him, one eyebrow raised in question. "I thought you were psychic."

"I don't see everything. Do you want me to?" John asked, holding out one hand.

Blair looked at John's outstretched hand and shook his head. There were certain things he didn't want John to know about.

"I was sort of a consultant to the department. I was observing the police for my dissertation," Blair answered.

John nodded and returned his eyes to the road. A minute later, he sat forward. "Is that smoke?"

Blair looked out the windshield and sat forward as well. There was a cloud of smoke billowing into the sky in the distance right where his apartment building was located.

"Oh no," Blair whispered.

As they got closer, Blair's suspicions were confirmed as they saw that the entire building was on fire. Several people were standing around looking up at the raging inferno while they waited for the fire department to arrive.

"No, no, no, no," Blair said as he got out of the car and ran toward the building. He stopped and ran his hands through his hair. "God damn it! This would happen to me."

John caught up to him and put a hand on his shoulder. "I'm sorry, Blair."

"I must have the worst luck in the world. Maybe Jim's right. Maybe I am a walking trouble magnet," Blair continued to rant.

"Did you loose anything important?" John asked.

Blair sighed and turned away from the building. "No," he said more calmly. "The furniture wasn't mine, and anything valuable I have is in my backpack in my car. But of course now I have no place to stay. The place was a dump but at least it was a roof over my head."

"You can stay with me for a while," John suggested.

Blair looked at him, gratitude shining in his eyes. But then he shook his head. "No, I don't want to impose."

"Don't be ridiculous. I have a big house, plenty of room, and I wouldn't mind the company."

"Are you sure?" Blair asked uncertainly.

"Absolutely."

Blair smiled. "Thanks John."

"You're welcome. Now what do you say we head on over to my house? You can follow me in your car."

Blair nodded, and John gave him one last pat on the back before walking back to his car. Blair walked over to where the Volvo was parked and opened the door. He paused just before getting in and turned to look at John who was just getting into his car. As much trouble as he seemed to find, there always seem to be someone willing to help him just as much. Maybe he wasn't as unlucky as he thought. Feeling a little better, Blair got into his car and started it up.

Twenty minutes later, they were pulling into the driveway of a large two-story gray stone house. The driveway was a U-shape with an overhang that extended from the front door over the bend of the driveway. John parked under the overhang and Blair parked right behind him. Blair grabbed his backpack, which was the only luggage he had now since his duffel had been in the apartment when it burned down. He was going to have to buy some new clothes. Luckily, he had a couple of changes of clothing in his backpack along with his laptop and a few other things. That would hold him over until he could buy some more clothes.

Blair got out of the car and followed John into the house. He looked around at the beautiful décor.

"Wow. This is nice," Blair complimented.

"Thanks."

"So you live alone in this big house?"

"Yeah, I grew up here. I inherited it from my parents after they passed away."

"Oh," Blair said uncomfortably. "Sorry."

"No, it's ok," John said, waving away the apology. "So what do you want to do now?"

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm starving. I haven't eaten since lunch."

"I could eat. Just put your backpack anywhere and follow me to the kitchen," John said, leading the way.

Blair threw his backpack on the couch as he followed John through the living room into the kitchen. The kitchen, like the rest of house, was nice and big. The kitchen at the loft definitely paled in comparison. Blair looked around and noticed a monitor mounted on the wall.

"What's with the monitor? You watch TV while you're cooking?"

"Sometimes. But it's also my security monitor," John said as he picked up a remote and pressed the power button. The monitor turned on to show four different camera angles.

"You have security cameras?" Blair asked in surprise. He didn't think people actually had those in their houses unless they were incredibly rich.

"You can never be too careful," John replied.

"I guess not. Maybe Jim and I should invest in some of those."

"Jim?" John said with a questioning eyebrow.

"He's my best friend. We live, work, and play together. Wait, that didn't sound right."

John laughed. "Yeah, I know what you meant. He's your roommate, your friend, and your…"

"Partner," Blair filled in. "With the police. He's a detective with the Cascade, Washington Police. I help him out with some of his cases from time to time."

John nodded. This young man was definitely getting more interesting all the time. "So, Blair, what would you like to eat?"

Blair shrugged. "I don't know. What do you have?"

"Well, I think I have the ingredients to make a nice stir fry if you're up for it."

Blair smiled with ecstasy, almost salivating right there. Of course he was up for it. He hadn't had a decent meal since he moved out here, at least not a decent home-cooked meal. He hadn't really had the resources or the money.

"Oh, that sounds really good," Blair said. "Mind if help?"

"Sure."

Blair practically bounced behind the small island in the middle of the kitchen where the stove was located. John laughed at Blair's excitement. He had never seen Blair act like that before. It was kind of amusing. Still laughing to himself, he got out all the ingredients they would need, and they both set to work.

As they were preparing the meal, they brushed up against each other. It was just the slightest touch, and Blair didn't pay it much attention. He continued working along side John as they prepared the stir fry.

"So you and Jim, you're pretty close," John said casually.

Blair smiled wistfully. "Yeah, almost like brothers."

"But you haven't seen him since you left," John said.

"No, I haven't. I needed to get away from the chaos that is Cascade and think some things through."

John handed Blair some peppers to cut up. "Something happened," John said a minute later.

Blair put down the knife he had been using to cut the vegetables and looked at John. "Have you been getting visions from me this whole time?"

John nodded sheepishly. "I'm sorry. It's not something I can control. It just sort of happens."

Blair waved his hand in the air. "Nah, it's ok. What did you see?"

"You and I would assume Jim working in the kitchen."

Blair nodded. "Yeah, we cook meals together sometimes."

"I also saw you getting fired," John added hesitantly.

Blair closed his eyes. He knew John would see something like that. At least he hadn't seen the press conference itself so maybe he wouldn't have to tell John about the whole diss disaster. Blair took a deep breath.

"Like you said. Something happened, and I lost everything. I lost my job. I lost my scholarship. I lost my doctorate. Everything."

"I'm sorry," John said sympathetically. "That's why you're here?"

"I'm here because Simon, Jim's boss, offered me a position as a police detective, as Jim's partner, and I don't know if I'm going to take it. I don't know if I can be a cop."

"Well, from what I saw, I think you'd make a great cop."

Blair smiled. "Thanks John."


Cascade, Washington

June 25, 1999

Simon poured himself a fresh cup of coffee and walked over to look out the window at the bullpen. Sometimes he liked to look out into the bullpen just to see what his detectives were doing and make sure things were running smoothly.

Joel was at his desk finishing up some paperwork. He was probably the only one in Major Crimes who kept up with it. Megan was eating lunch at her desk and doing something on her computer. Simon had to remember to tell her not to do that anymore. Last time she had spilled soda all over her keyboard and IT had to bring her a new one. Rafe and Brown were just returning from their lunch. They stopped at Jim's desk and started talking, Brown sitting absently on the edge of Jim's desk. Good thing Jim's not there, Simon thought. Jim had left an hour ago to follow up on a lead. The senior detective had become a little touchy when people touched his desk or anything on or around his desk.

Which brought Simon to his main concern, Jim Ellison. Ellison's attitude as of late was not something to be desired. He was irritable and moody, snapping at everyone and anyone for the littlest things, and he had become very territorial. As far as Simon knew, Jim wasn't using his senses as he hadn't heard of him zoning out or spiking, but Jim's attitude had just gotten worse. He was now acting as he did when Simon first took over Major Crimes, maybe even worse. His cold eyes and snappish attitude had everyone giving him a wide berth. There were some, like Brown and Rafe, who still tried to talk to Jim and be his friend, but Simon could tell even they were starting to give up.

Simon took another sip of his coffee when he saw Jim enter the bullpen over the rim of his cup. Sensing an impending explosion, Simon opened the door so he could better monitor the situation about to unfold.

Jim paused in the doorway, and tension in the air immediately intensified. Jim noticed Brown and Rafe hanging around his desk and narrowed his eyes before heading in their direction. Rafe noticed Jim's arrival first and nodded to Brown. Brown jumped off Jim's desk and gave his fellow detective a smile.

"Hey Jim! What's happening?" Brown said enthusiastically.

Jim winced and glared at Henri. "Ok, I'm right here. You don't need to shout. And don't you two have your own space to occupy?" he said harshly as he sat down in his chair.

"Whoa man. No need to bite our heads off," Brown said.

"Yeah, we were just wondering if you got that file from records we were looking for," Rafe said.

Jim sighed and dug out the requested file, throwing it to Brown without any kind of warning. "There. Now will you two kindly go back to your own desks. Some of us have work to do. And Brown, could you please keep your crap off my desk?" he snapped, handing Brown his cup of coffee that he had placed on Jim's desk when he sat down.

"I only put it down for a second," Brown argued.

"Well, are your hands broken? Next time, hold it or put it someplace else."

Brown and Rafe looked at each other before hurriedly walking away.

Simon shook his head. This was starting to get out of hand. "Ellison! My office!" he called out.

With another deep sigh, Jim got up and walked into Simon's office. Simon closed the door behind him and stood in front of his best detective. He took in the cold eyes and the tight set of his jaw, and he wished to God he could get the old Jim back. Simon often wondered which was the real Jim Ellison, the cold hard man standing in front of him or the man he had come to know as friend.

"You wanted to see me, sir?" Jim asked.

"Yes, I did. You want to explain to me just what happened out there?"

"I don't know what you're talking about," Jim replied, deadpan.

"You know damn well what I mean. You snapped at Brown and Rafe when all they wanted was a file from you. Now that's been happening a lot lately."

"They were hanging around my desk, sir," Jim argued.

"So what? That's nothing new. They've done that before, and you never minded." Simon sighed. "Look, Jim, I know you miss the kid. Hell, we all do, but this has got to stop. You're attitude has gotten worse lately, and now you're so territorial that you practically growl at anyone who even comes near your desk. What do you want people to do when they want something from you? Call you up on the phone from across the bullpen?"

Jim lowered his eyes and Simon saw a crack in the wall Jim had built around himself. "No, sir," he answered.

"Are you still having problems with your senses?" Simon asked.

"I haven't been using my senses."

"That doesn't answer my question."

Jim rubbed his forehead. "They won't go away, Simon. I've tried to repress them, and I can't. I've been able to keep them down for the most part, but sometimes they don't stay there."

Simon sighed. "Look, Jim, I know this is hard, but you need to check your attitude at the door or I'll be forced to pull you off the streets."

The wall came back up and Jim just looked angry. "What? But I haven't done anything. My work hasn't suffered. I've solved every case you've given me."

"Yes, but you're making everyone in the bullpen crazy. Some of them are afraid to come near you, and that includes witnesses. Now we can't have that."

Before Jim could respond to that, there was a knock on the door.

"Come," Simon said.

Brown opened the door and poked his head in. "Sorry to interrupt, Captain, but Jim, your suspect was just brought in. You said you wanted to interrogate him right away."

"Thanks, Brown," Jim said. He looked back at Simon. "Are we done?"

"For now."

Without another word, Jim turned and walked out of the office. Simon watched him go, wondering what he was going to do with him if things didn't get better. After a minute or two, Simon decided to observe Jim in interrogation. With the way he's been acting lately, he might blow up at the suspect, and Simon wanted to be there for damage control.

In the observation room, Simon watched as Jim questioned a man named Harvey Cromwell. He was suspected of murdering his fiancé, and with his overconfident mannerisms and flippant attitude, both Jim and Simon knew that he did it, but they didn't have enough evidence to convict him just yet.

Everything was going well at first. Jim was keeping calm as he threw questions at the man, but every question Jim threw at him, he would give vague answers and half-truths, making sure to give nothing away. Now even Simon was getting a little ticked at this guy. And then Harvey went and brought up Blair and the whole dissertation disaster.

"Jim Ellison," Cromwell said. "I've heard of you. You were all over the media a few months back. Let me ask you something. Is all that stuff in that paper true? Are you really a freak? Or is your little hippie friend just a fraud like he admitted to being in that press conference?"

It was a sneaky, underhanded thing to say meant to piss Jim off. A lot of suspects said things like that to get the detectives riled up on the off chance that they would get pissed enough to attack so that they could sue for police brutality. Most of the time it didn't work. Unfortunately, this time it did, and the next thing Simon knew, Jim was punching the guy's lights out. Simon stood frozen for a moment, not really registering what Jim had just done. He quickly shook off his shock and was in the interrogation room in seconds.

"Ellison! Outside! NOW!" Simon yelled.

Jim stood in place for a moment as if he himself couldn't believe what he had done. Cromwell pulled himself to his feet, wiping away the blood that was pouring from his nose.

"Oh, you've done it now," Cromwell sneered. "I'm going to sue your ass for this!"

Jim didn't say anything as he turned on his heel and walked out. Simon led the detective to his office and just barely refrained from slamming the door.

"What the hell was that in there? I can't believe you hit a suspect. What were you thinking?" Simon bellowed.

Jim stood staring at the blood on his knuckles, his hand shaking slightly. He grabbed a tissue from Simon's desk and quickly wiped the blood off.

"I don't know what happened," Jim replied in a quiet tone. "I just lost control. I'm sorry."

"You're damn right you lost control, and sorry doesn't exactly fix this, does it? We may be looking at a lawsuit now because of your actions." Simon paused. "This is the last straw. You've gone too far this time. I can't cover for you anymore."

"Do what you have to do, Captain," Jim said meekly.

Simon shook his head as he tried to figure out what he should do. He probably should suspend Jim, but he just couldn't at this point. He knew the man had been through a lot these past few months, and he knew that if he suspended Jim, he would most likely end up sitting alone in the loft with nothing but his thoughts to keep him company, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. Simon took a deep breath and decided that he would give the detective one more chance. But he still had to take disciplinary actions.

He looked at Jim who looked back at him expectantly. "You will report to Captain Mulligan tomorrow morning. Now get out of here."

"Captain Mulligan? You're demoting me to beat cop?" Jim said incredulously.

"Temporarily, yes. Would you rather I suspend you?"

"Ah, come on, Simon."

"Look, Jim, you've really left me with no choice. I don't want to suspend you because I know how rough you've had it, but you hit a suspect and I can't just let you get away with that. Besides, maybe time spent on the streets will relieve that pent up aggression you've got going here."

Jim turned to look out the window. After a moment, he said, "Fine. For how long?"

"I haven't decided. I'll let you know. In the meantime, go home and get some rest."

"Yes, sir," Jim said as he walked out.

Simon watched Jim walk away. He sighed and picked up the phone. It was time to call Blair and let him know what's been going on with his partner. Maybe it'll convince the kid to come back because, and he would never admit this out loud, he really did miss the kid. He dialed Blair's cell phone number. His call went to voice mail, and he left a message. He would call again later if Blair didn't call back.


Jim walked into the loft and tossed his keys on the table by the door. His head was whirling with thoughts of what he had done, and his emotions were swirling around in his gut. Breathing fast and heavy, he grabbed a coffee cup from the table and whipped it against the wall, watching as it shattered into tiny pieces. He sighed and shook his head. He needed to a get a grip. Trashing the loft wasn't going to make things better. He needed to regain control. Losing control is what got him into this mess in the first place.

He still couldn't believe what he had done. He hadn't meant to hit the guy. He had never hit a suspect in all his years as a police officer no matter how pissed off he got. He hadn't even consciously done it. One minute he was asking the guy questions, and then he mentioned Blair and the whole dissertation mess, and Jim just saw red. The next thing he knew, the guy was on the ground bleeding from his nose. Simon had every right to be pissed, and he had every right to suspend him. He was kind of surprised that he didn't.

He just didn't know what was going on with him lately. He would just get so annoyed and angered at even the most minor things, and harsh words would just pour from his mouth without any conscious thought. He knew he was alienating his friends and fellow detectives, and he wished he could take it all back.

It wasn't even a senses thing. He had stopped using his senses about a month ago, although they were still there in the back of his mind. He tried to keep them turned down to normal, but sometimes they would spike at an inopportune time before he could get them down again. And he couldn't repress them for the life of him. Maybe that was why he was so irritable. The last time he had repressed them after he accidentally shot that security guard it had been so easy. He hadn't even done it on purpose. It just happened on its own.

Jim sighed as he grabbed a broom and a dust pan and started to sweep up the ceramic shards. Simon was right to demote him. He had hit a suspect. He had become the one thing he'd swore he'd never be, an abusive cop. Yes, it was only one suspect, but if he didn't get control himself right now, then it would be more.

After cleaning up the broken mug, he made himself a sandwich and sat down to watch some TV. He mindlessly surfed through the channels until late before he finally shut off the TV and went to bed.


June 26, 1999

The next morning had Jim waking up with a slight headache. It was nothing that was too bad. He didn't think he would even need to take any aspirin. After a shower and quick breakfast, he headed into the station. This was going to be a long few weeks. He always hated being a beat cop and was glad when he was finally promoted to Vice and then Major Crimes.

At the station, Jim went straight to Captain Mulligan's office.

"Ah, Ellison," Mulligan said. "I've been expecting you. Simon told me I'd be having the pleasure of your company for a few weeks."

"Yes, sir."

"Well, we'll have to get you a uniform and a partner."

Jim grimaced. "Sir, I don't need a partner."

"Oh, I think you do. It's been quite a while since you've been in uniform, and I've been told that you hit a suspect in interrogation. I can only imagine what you'll do to suspects on the streets. I don't want you out there by yourself."

Jim's jaw tightened as his anger started to rise once again. This guy was talking to him like he had been an abusive cop in all his years as a police officer, like he hit suspects all the time. It was one time, and he didn't appreciate the insinuation that he would do it again. Then he reined in his temper. With his emotions being they way they are, how could he be sure it wouldn't happen again? He hadn't even thought it would happen in the first place. He had to prove to them that it wouldn't happen again, that he could control his wild emotions. So Jim kept his mouth shut and nodded.

"Good. Take this to Lisa down the hall. She'll get you fitted with a uniform. When you're finished return here, and I'll introduce you to your new partner." Mulligan handed Jim a piece of paper then went back to working on whatever he'd been working on before Jim had arrived.

Jim walked out of the captain's office and headed down the hall.

"Hey, Ellison."

Jim turned at the new voice and saw a uniformed officer running to catch up. He recognized him as Mike Moriarty. Jim had worked with him a few times. He was a good man and would probably make detective some day.

"Hey Mike," Jim greeted as he continued walking, Mike right along side him.

"What are you doing down here?"

"Looks like I'll be working with you guys for a few weeks," Jim answered.

Mike raised his eyebrows. "You mean you're a uniform now?"

"For now. It's just temporary."

"Oh man. What did you do to deserve that?"

Jim's hand clenched into a fist, but he held back the retort that had come to mind. "I hit a suspect in interrogation," he answered calmly.

Mike stared at him in disbelief for a few minutes. "Wow. I can't believe you did that."

"Yeah, neither can I," Jim replied with a sigh.

"Well, don't worry. It's not so bad down here, and you'll be back in Major Crimes before you know it," Mike said encouragingly.

Jim looked at him, and a ghost of a smile graced his lips. "Thanks Mike."

"Hey Jim," Mike said after a moment of silence. "I don't want you to bite my head off or anything, but I just gotta know. That whole thing about you being a…sentinel, is that true? Because I gotta tell ya, I just don't see Blair committing fraud."

Jim stopped walking, lowering his head. He didn't want to admit to being a sentinel even though he knew Mike was a good guy, but he didn't want to say that Blair was a fraud either. Then he had an idea. He turned to Mike.

"Let me tell you something. Blair is no fraud. What he wrote was just a book that he had been writing in his free time. It was fiction, plain and simple. Now the only reason this whole thing got started is because some dumbass publisher sent his work to the media without Blair's permission and after he had implicitly said no to any offer of publication. And yes, Blair's mother is the one who sent it to the publisher in the first place, believing that it was Blair's dissertation and that it was all true, but I don't blame her. She was only trying to help her son. I blame that dumbass publisher and Rainier University for going along with it even though Blair hadn't officially submitted The Sentinel as his dissertation.

"Now the only reason Blair gave that press conference and admitted that he was a fraud is because we were working a case involving a very dangerous hitman who had already shot up the bullpen, critically injuring my captain and a fellow detective, and I couldn't do my job with a camera flashing in my face every five minutes. He sacrificed his life and his career for me and the rest of Major Crimes, and I couldn't be prouder of him. And mark my words, that publisher Sid Graham and Rainier will be seeing a lawsuit from me when Blair gets back."

Mike stared at Jim and nodded. "Good."

"Good?"

"Yeah, if those assholes caused you and Blair so much trouble, then you should sue them. I hope Blair gets his job back and his reputation."

"Me too."

"Well, I gotta get back to work. Good luck," Mike said before going his separate way.

Jim reached his destination and paused at the door, thinking about what he had just said. Really he had just said those things so that he wouldn't have to admit to being a sentinel and still deny that Blair was a fraud, but the more he thought about it the more he liked the idea. Why couldn't they sue the publisher and Rainier? They had good reason. Those two establishments caused that whole media frenzy not to mention all the pain and suffering he and Blair had experienced since. Yeah, he would do it. He'd have to call a lawyer though and a good one. Maybe he'd call his father or brother and have them call up some top-notch lawyers.

Jim nodded to himself as he walked through the door. He felt better. He was only mad at himself for not thinking of it sooner.

After getting fitted for a uniform, he walked back to Mulligan's office. With higher spirits, Jim walked in with his head held high and a deep-set determination to be on his best behavior so he could get back to Major Crimes. When he walked in, there was another man standing in front of the captain's desk also dressed in a uniform, and he didn't look happy as he looked at Jim.

"Ellison," Mulligan said, "meet your new partner. This is Jerry Wright."

"Hey. How are you doing?" Jim greeted, holding out his hand.

Wright looked at his outstretched hand, making no move to shake it. "Ok, I guess," he answered.

Jim retracted his hand. Well, someone didn't like him.

"You two will be partners until I hear from Simon saying otherwise. Now get out of here," Mulligan said.

Wright walked out without a second glance at Ellison and Jim followed him out. They walked wordlessly out to Wright's police cruiser. Once they were in the car, Wright finally acknowledged Jim.

"Alright, Ellison. Let's get one thing straight. Up in Major Crimes, you may have been top dog, but here you're just a lowly peasant. I've been on the streets for seven years, and you know what that makes me? Senior officer, so you do what I say when I say it. And if you don't, I'll report back to my captain how troublesome you're being, and once he tells your captain, you'll be out of here so fast your head will be spinning. Do you get me?"

Jim raised his eyebrows at the hostility this man was dishing out. "Did I piss you off in the past?"

"No, I just don't like you. Cop of the Year, best detective in Major Crimes, could do no wrong. Well, looks like the tables have turned. Oh, I'm going to enjoy this." With a smirk, he started the car and backed out of the space.

Jim looked out his window, his jaw tightening. Oh yeah. This was going to be fun. He already wanted to pummel this putz into a coma, but he knew he couldn't. He had to keep calm if he was going to get back to Major Crimes. He had a feeling though that Wright wasn't going to make it easy for him.

The rest of the day was spent answering one call or another. There were a couple of domestic disputes, a few speeders, and five cases of drug possession. One guy was actually pulled over for a broken taillight, and they ended up finding five pounds of weed in the guy's trunk. And there were two instances where someone drove their car through a storefront. And through it all, Jim tried not to make waves. He let Wright take the lead the way he wanted and only stepped in when necessary even though it made him feel degraded. But he supposed that was part of the punishment.

Later that evening, they were on their way back to the station and home when a gray Ford Tempo pulled out in front of them, and they noticed that the plates were expired.

"Well, looks like we won't be going back to the station just yet," Wright said as he flipped on the lights and sirens.

The Tempo pulled over to the side of the almost deserted street, and Wright pulled the cruiser right behind it.

"This won't take long," Wright said as he got out of the car.

Jim watched as he got out. Wright had made it very clear that Jim was to stay in the car unless told otherwise or Wright needed immediate back up. It really irked Jim to have to take orders from this guy. He didn't feel like a cop. He felt like a civilian ride-along. He wondered briefly if this is how Blair felt every time Jim told him to stay in the truck. He was beginning to understand why Blair never listened.

Jim turned his attention to the Tempo as Wright approached it on the driver's side and noticed that there seemed to be a lot of movement inside. It was as if they were scrambling to hide something they didn't want the cops to see. Jim's instincts shot up as did his senses, and he heard the ominous click of a gun from inside the car just as Wright reached the driver's side. Jim quickly got out of the cruiser.

"Wright, look out!" Jim yelled.

Unfortunately, it was too late. Two gunshots sounded and Wright staggered backward before falling to the pavement unmoving. At the same time, the passenger door opened and a man in his early thirties got out. Jim quickly ducked down behind the opened car door as the man pointed a gun directly at Jim and fired two shots. The first bullet hit the front fender, but the second passed through the door and hit Jim in the upper right chest area.

Jim felt the sharp pain in his chest, and it only took a split second for him to realize that not only had the bullet passed through the door but it had also passed right through his bulletproof vest and pierced his chest. Then his legs turned to jello and he collapsed to the ground. Jim somehow remained conscious even though his eyes were closed. He could hear voices talking nearby. They were a little fuzzy but he could still understand what they were saying.

"Oh man. I can't believe you guys just shot two cops."

"Hey, what did you want us to do? If we hadn't, they would have found us out."

"Man, that guy was right. Nothing stops these bullets."

"So what do we do now?"

"We drag the bodies into the woods over there and then dump the car someplace else. By the time they're found, we'll be long gone."

Jim felt hands grab his arms and start dragging him across grass. He couldn't stop the groan that escaped his lips as the movement aggravated the gunshot wound.

"Hey Lenny, this one's still alive."

"So what? Dump him anyway. He won't survive long with a wound like that."

Jim's body was dropped unceremoniously to the ground a few minutes later, and Jim let out a cry of pain. He heard footsteps walking away, car doors slamming, and two cars driving away. Jim breathed heavily through his nose as he worked to turn down the pain. Once it was at a manageable level, he finally opened his eyes.

He was staring at treetops. His chest was in agony and he could feel a wetness spreading on the front of his shirt. He slowly turned his head to the side and found himself looking into the dead eyes of Jerry Wright, two bullet holes in his forehead. He closed his eyes in despair. Jerry had been a dick, but he didn't deserve to die.

Jim fought to stay conscious, but he could feel the darkness closing over him like a blanket. He didn't have the strength to fight it anymore.


Cleaves Mills, Maine

June 26, 1999

Blair awoke the next morning well rested for a change. He stretched languorously and just laid there in the comfortable bed for a little while. It had been a while since he'd slept in a nice comfy bed. The bed at his apartment had been extremely uncomfortable and anytime he moved he had spring stabbing him in the back. He had turned the mattress over, hoping that would have been better. It had been but not by much.

After a few minutes, he finally looked at the clock. It was half past noon. Huh. It had been a while since he'd slept that late. Pulling himself out of bed, he headed into the bathroom to take a shower and get dressed. Then he headed downstairs. He found John sitting on the couch watching TV.

"Hey Blair," John greeted. "Have a good night's sleep?"

"Yeah, actually, for the first time since I got here."

John smiled. "Good. How about some lunch then? Since you missed breakfast."

Blair scratched the back of his head. "Oh yeah. Sorry about that. I don't usually sleep this late."

"A lot happened last night. It's understandable," John said as he turned off the TV and stood up. "So, lunch?"

"Yeah, I could eat. Oh, wait a minute. Wasn't I supposed to go give my statement this morning?" Blair said, embarrassed that he'd missed it.

"Yeah, but don't worry. Walt called this morning, and I told him you were still asleep so he said to come in when you get the chance. I'll drive you over there after we eat."

Blair smiled. "Cool. Thanks."

After lunch, John drove Blair over to the police station and led him to Walt's office.

"Hey John," Walt greeted as he let them into his office. "And Mr. Sandburg, how are you doing? I heard about what happened to your apartment."

"Oh, I'm fine," Blair said with a wave of his hand. "I didn't lose much, and John graciously offered that I stay with him. And please, call me Blair. Only my students call me Mr. Sandburg."

"Alright then. Have a seat," Walt said with a smile, pointing to a chair in front of his desk. "Now let me explain what you need to do."

"Actually, I know the drill already."

"Oh, have you given statements before?" Walt asked, sitting down behind his desk.

"I've worked with the police for like four years. I basically know all police procedures."

"Alright then. Let's get started."

After Blair was done giving his statement a half hour later, Walt escorted Blair and John out of his office.

"Well, thank you for your help, Blair," Walt said. "You've been a tremendous help. And John, you're coming to JJ's soccer game, right?"

"Oh, that's this afternoon, isn't it? I almost forgot," John said, looking at Blair.

"Who's JJ?" Blair asked.

"My son," Walt replied.

"Oh, well that's ok. You can go an ahead, John. I'll find something to do," Blair said.

"No, don't be silly. I'm not going to leave you with nothing to do. Why don't you come with?"

"I don't know," Blair said uncertainly. "Are you sure?"

"Yeah. I'm sure JJ and Sarah won't mind. Besides, I'd love for you to meet them. We're even going to go out to dinner afterward if you're interested."

Blair smiled. "Ok."

"Ok, I guess we'll see you there," Walt said. "And John, tell Sarah I'm going to be a little late but I will be there."

Later that afternoon, John drove Blair over to the soccer field. Blair felt kind of awkward coming to watch a kids' soccer game when he didn't know any of the participants. But John really wanted him to come and it was better than sitting around doing nothing. Who knows? Maybe it would be fun. He always liked kids.

John led the way to the edge of the field where a beautiful woman with short brown hair was standing.

"Hey Sarah," John greeted her.

Sarah turned and smiled. "Hi Johnny. Glad you could make it."

"Are you kidding? I wouldn't miss this for the world. Oh, and I talked to Walt earlier. He said he was going to be a little late."

"Oh, why am I not surprised?" Sarah said good-naturedly.

"Sarah, I want you to meet a friend of mine. This is Blair Sandburg," John said, indicating Blair.

"Hi Blair. Nice to meet you," Sarah said, shaking the young man's hand.

"You too."

"Blair's staying with me for a while until he can find a new place. I hope you don't mind me inviting him along."

"Oh, no it's fine. I don't mind at all."

"Johnny!" A boy about ten or eleven years old came running toward them excitedly.

"Hey, JJ!" John said, bending down to give the boy a hug. "You going to kick some butt today?

"I don't know," JJ said with a frown. "We're facing the Tigers. They destroyed us last time we faced them."

"Hey, c'mon. Where's that confidence I saw yesterday when you were practicing in the yard? You're going to do great."

Blair smiled as he watched the two together. They were obviously real close, almost like father and son. In fact, Blair thought they looked a little bit alike, but that was crazy. They weren't related.

John stood up and turned to Blair. "JJ, I want you to meet my friend, Blair. Blair, this is JJ."

"Hi," JJ said. Blair could tell he still wasn't too confident about the upcoming game.

"Hi there. Hey, you know what?" Blair said as he knelt down and beckoned JJ forward. "I have something for you." He reached into his pocket and pulled out a bracelet made of string with different colored feathers and different kinds of beads and charms on it. "Give me your wrist. This is a very special bracelet," Blair explained as he tied it around JJ's wrist. "I got it from a tribe down in South America. Warriors would put these on just before they go on a hunt, and it supposed to give you courage and strength and bring you good luck."

"Wow. Cool. Does it really work?" JJ asked.

"If you believe, then it does. Do you believe?"

JJ nodded. "Thanks Blair!"

"You're welcome, buddy. Now go get them."

Smiling, JJ ran out onto the field as the game was about to start.

"Hey, thanks, man. I think he really needed that," John said.

"It was nothing."

"Is that really from South America?" Sarah asked.

"Yeah, of course. I stayed with that tribe for at least a couple of months."

Both John and Sarah were mildly impressed as they turned their attention to the game. The three of them watched the game from the sidelines, cheering JJ on, and then Walt showed up halfway through to cheer JJ on as well. JJ's team was doing really well throughout the game and towards the end they were tied with just a few minutes left. JJ managed to get possession of the ball and was weaving his way toward the goal. John, Walt, and Sarah were cheering madly as they watch JJ run down the field, and even Blair was cheering JJ on even though he had just met the kid. JJ reached the goal and performed a spectacular kick. The goalie dove for the ball but just missed, and the ball hit the net just as time ran out.

"Go JJ! Woo!" Sarah yelled.

"That's my boy! Alright!" Walt cheered.

"Way to go, JJ!" John clapped.

JJ started jumping up and down excitedly as his teammates surrounded him and congratulated him. JJ then ran toward them and jumped into Walt's arms.

"Dad! Did you see me score the winning goal?" JJ asked excitedly.

"I sure did, pal. You were awesome out there."

JJ looked at Blair. "Blair! Your bracelet worked!"

"Nah, that was all you, man."

"Here, you can have it back," JJ said, starting to take it off.

"Keep it. It's yours."

"Really? Thanks!"

"Alright. What do you say we get something to eat?" Walt suggested. "Your choice, Champ. What do you want?"

"Well, Mike said his parents were taking him to Pizza Palace after the game. Can we go there?" JJ asked hopefully.

"Sure. Anything you want."

Blair grimaced when he heard the word pizza. He hadn't eaten pizza for years, not since he ate the pizza laced with Golden. Just the thought of pizza since then made him feel nauseous, but he wasn't going to object. He could tell that JJ really wanted to go there, and he didn't want to spoil it for him. He was sure Pizza Palace would have something other than pizza. Most pizza places did. He would just get something else.

"Hey Blair. You coming?" John asked.

"Huh?" Blair said, coming back to his surroundings. He just noticed that everyone was already walking away, and John was waiting for him to join them. "Oh yeah. I'm coming." He hurried to catch up.

"You ok?" John asked in concern. He had noticed Blair's grimace before, and he thought the young man looked a little sickly.

"Yeah, I'm fine," Blair answered with a small smile.

Once at the restaurant, they were seated at a large table and given menus.

"Well, what does everyone want on their pizza?" Walt asked, looking at the menu.

"I want sausage and pepperoni," JJ said.

"That sounds good," Sarah agreed.

"I'd love some onions on mine," John said.

JJ looked at him with a disgusted face. "Eww. Gross."

Walt laughed at the look on his son's face. "Well, we can have it on half. What about you, Blair?"

Blair looked up from his menu. "Um, actually I'm not much on pizza."

"Oh, really. You should have said something. We could have gone somewhere else," Sarah said.

Blair shook his head. "No, it's ok. It was JJ's choice. I'll just have something else."

"How can you not like pizza?" JJ asked curiously.

"Well, I had a bad experience with it once, and I haven't eaten it since," Blair answered.

"How can you have a bad experience eating pizza?"

Blair looked at the boy and then his eyes went around the table, trying to figure out how to answer that question without revealing what really happened.

"Let's just say the last time I ate pizza, I got really sick, and since then it's kind of lost its appeal for me."

John looked at Blair as the young man went back to perusing the menu. That explained the slightly green complexion of Blair's skin. He wondered what really happened. He could find out if he really wanted to, but he made it a point not to pry into people's lives on purpose. Often times he would get vision without even meaning to. There was nothing he could do about that, but he didn't try to get visions just because he was curious about something. If Blair didn't want him to know, then he wasn't going to try to find out.

Dinner was an enjoyable affair. They talked about sports and shared interesting experiences and funny stories. And Blair and the others asked each other questions to get to know each other a little better. They spent hours talking even after they were finished eating and JJ had went with his friend Mike to the game room.

Walt was right in the middle of a funny story about one of his first arrests when JJ came running up to him.

"Dad, can I have some more quarters?"

"More quarters? What happened to the handful I gave you?"

"I spent them all," JJ replied with a shrug. "C'mon, Dad. Please."

"Alright, alright. Here," Walt said, handing JJ a couple of bills. "Take that to the cashier and get some change, but this is the last you're going to get from me."

"Thanks Dad!" JJ said, running off.

Walt shook his head, smiling. "Kids."

"Hey Walt. Let me ask you something," Blair said. "How do you feel about always having to carry a gun?"

Everyone around the table quieted down at the serious tone in Blair's voice.

"Well, I honestly don't mind because I know that it's part of the job, and I know that what I'm doing is right. I'm protecting people and taking scum off the street and making sure they don't hurt anyone else ever again."

"But how do you wake up and go out there knowing that you might have to shoot someone?"

Walt's brow furrowed. "Why do you want to know?" he asked curiously.

Blair looked down at the table. "I'm contemplating becoming a cop. I know I can do everything the job entails except carry a gun. I never liked guns, and I'm not sure that I can do that."

"I honestly try not to think about that. Thinking about it all the time will just make you crazy. But I think the question you need to ask yourself is what will happen if you don't use the gun? Who will get hurt? Who will die? You see most of the time when you use your gun, it's only because you absolutely have to, to protect yourself or someone else. You need to decide if you can do that. I'll tell you one thing. For me, it's been worth it."

Blair nodded. Walt's words had him thinking. He'd been so worried about what would happen if he did pull the trigger, he didn't stop to think about what would happen if he didn't. He definitely had some more thinking to do.

John listened to the conversation between Walt and Blair. He had known that Blair had had a lot of things on his mind. He could tell just by looking at the other man. Blair looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders, and now John knew why. It must be hard for Blair to lose his job and now trying to figure out what he wants to do now. He put his hand on Blair's shoulder in comfort and felt himself being pulled into another vision.

*Vision*

Blair sat in a folding chair in row of people. His eyes were red and puffy, tears streaming down his face. An open casket was situated at the front of the room surrounded by flowers. Someone was at the podium next to the casket speaking senseless words. When the person was done speaking, Blair stood up and slowly approached the casket. He looked down at the still form lying inside.

"Oh god, Jim," Blair said, his eyes leaking fresh tears. "I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have left you. I shouldn't have went across the country to think things through. If I hadn't, maybe I could have been there. Maybe I could have saved you. I don't know what I'm going to do without you."

A tall black man approached Blair and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "Blair."

Blair turned and looked up at the man. "Simon," he said with a sob.

Simon pulled Blair close to his chest as the young man started to cry.

*End of Vision*

John came back to his senses with a slight gasp. Oh no, he thought as he looked at Blair with sorrowful eyes.

Blair noticed the look and immediately got a bad feeling. "What? What is it?"

John didn't answer at first, and Blair's heart starting beating faster. "John, what did you see?"

"I saw you…at a wake."

Blair's brow furrowed in worry. He was almost afraid to ask. "Wh-who?"

"Jim," John answered regretfully.

Blair looked stricken. Oh god, Jim. "Are…are you saying Jim's going to die?"

"I'm sorry."

"When?" Blair asked. Maybe he could stop it. John's visions weren't always definite.

"I don't know," John replied. At the tearful look Blair gave him though, he felt he just had to give him more to work with so he tried to think about what happened in his vision. "Um, in the vision you were apologizing for leaving him, for coming all the way out here."

Blair averted his gaze, his thoughts racing. If he was apologizing for coming here, then it had to have happened while he was still here. He started patting his pockets looking for his cell phone, hoping against hope that it wasn't too late. He really started to panic when he couldn't find it.

"Shit. Where's my cell phone?"

"Here, use mine," John said, pulling out his cell and handing it to Blair.

"Thanks."

Blair left the table, cell phone in hand, to find a place to make his call. He ended up having to go outside because the restaurant was just too noisy. He quickly dialed Jim's cell phone number and waited impatiently for him to pick up. He received Jim's voice mail instead, and after leaving a short message, he called the loft. Once again receiving no answer, he hung up with a snap and then dialed Simon's number. He answered after three rings.

"Banks."

"Simon, it's Blair."

"Sandburg, where the hell have you been? I've been trying to call you since last night. Don't you ever check your messages?"

Blair winced and moved the phone away from his ear slightly. "I'm sorry, Simon. I must have lost my phone."

"Well, why the hell did you hang up on me in the first place?"

"Look, I'm sorry about that. I had something important to take care of."

"More important than your partner?"

"No, of course not," Blair said without hesitation. "Simon, where's Jim? I can't get a hold of him. He's not answering his cell phone or at the loft."

"He's out on patrol. I imagine they wouldn't let him take his cell phone," Simon answered.

"What?"

"This is what I wanted to talk to you about last night. Your partner is totally out of control. First it was his senses and now his emotions are all over the place. He's moody and snappish, and I already told you that he hit a guy in interrogation."

Blair swallowed hard. "Yeah, I remember. So what did you do about it?"

Simon sighed. "I demoted him to patrol."

Blair's eyes widened. "You made him a beat cop?"

"I had no choice. It was either that or suspend him. It's only temporary."

The bad feeling in the pit of Blair's stomach suddenly grew to immense proportions. "Simon, you have to get a hold of Jim. You have to contact him somehow fast," he said with urgency.

"Look, Sandburg, I know you two need to talk, but can't it wait until he's off duty?" Simon asked.

"No. No, it can't. Simon, he's in danger. Don't ask me how I know. I just do. Please."

There was a moment of silence over the line before Simon spoke again. "Alright. I'll try to get a hold of Jim and have him call you. Can he reach you at this number?"

"Yeah."

"Alright. I'll get back to you," Simon said before he hung up.

Blair flipped the phone closed and stared at it a moment. He hoped he wasn't too late. He hoped Jim was ok. Suddenly feeling sick to his stomach, Blair turned and headed back inside.

"Well?" John asked as Blair approached the table.

"I couldn't get a hold of Jim so I called his boss. He's going to try to contact Jim and have him call me." Blair sat down shakily.

"Are you ok?" Walt asked.

"Not really. I need to get out of here," Blair said, standing back up.

"Wait a minute. I'll go with you," John said.

"You don't have to."

John stood up. "Blair, you don't have your car here. Where are you going to go?"

Blair lowered his eyes. He hadn't thought that far ahead. He had just wanted to get away. He nodded. He didn't really want to be alone right now anyway.

"We'll see you later," John said to Sarah and Walt.

"I hope your friend is ok," Sarah said to Blair, her voice sympathetic.

Blair gave her a strained smile in thanks.

Blair found himself sitting on John's couch twenty minutes later rubbing his hands together nervously. He couldn't stop thinking about Jim and their friendship. He couldn't bare it if he lost Jim especially if it was because of a problem with his senses that could have been avoided if Blair had been there. Jim was the best friend he'd ever had. He just couldn't lose him.

"Blair?"

Blair looked up as John sat down next to him.

"How are you doing?"

Blair laughed humorlessly. "Not good. Are your visions ever wrong?"

"Not usually," John answered truthfully. "But they can be changed."

Blair took a deep breath. "Let's hope so."

The sudden chirping of the cell phone sitting on the cushion next to Blair made him jump. He quickly grabbed the cell phone, but he hesitated in answering, fearful of what he might be told. Taking a moment to compile himself, Blair flipped open the device.

"Hello?"

"Blair. It's Simon."

"Simon, did you get a hold of Jim?"

Simon sighed. "No, I couldn't reach him. No one's heard from him or his partner since 4:00 today when they radioed in saying they were heading back to the station."

Blair looked at the clock, his heart nearly freezing in his chest. It was 9:00pm which meant no one had heard from Jim in five hours. Then he remembered there was a three hour time difference between Maine and Washington which meant it was only 6:00pm there. It had only been two hours since anyone had heard from Jim, but still two hours without any kind of radio contact was a little troublesome to Blair especially since they were on their way back to the station.

"Simon, something's very wrong."

"Blair, there's no evidence that anything has happened. There could be any number of reasons they're not answering. Their radio could be on the fritz or they could be too busy to answer."

"Busy doing what?"

"I don't know, but if they ran into trouble, I'm sure they would have called for backup already."

"Unless something happened to them and they didn't get a chance to call for backup. It happens. You know that. Simon, I think Jim is in serious trouble. If we don't do something right now, Jim's going to die."

"How could you possibly know that?"

"I just do, ok!" Blair snapped. Then he closed his eyes and tried to get a grip on himself. "Look, don't ask me how I know. All I'm saying is that Jim is going to die if we don't find him soon so you need to get some people out looking for him as soon as possible."

"Alright, alright," Simon said indulgently. "I've given up trying to question the things you say. I'll put a couple of people on this."

"Good. I'll be there as soon as I can."

"I knew you were going to say that. Alright. I'll see you in a few hours."

Blair flipped the phone closed and looked at John.

"I'll book us on the next flight out," John said.

"You don't have to come," Blair said.

"I want to. I can help you find him."

Blair smiled. "Thanks, John."


Cascade, Washington

Five Hours Later

Hours later, John and Blair were driving a rental car toward the central precinct of the Cascade Police Department. The flight from Maine to Cascade seemed to take five years rather than five hours. Blair's worry for his partner ratcheted up with each passing minute, and by the time they arrived at Cascade National Airport, Blair couldn't wait to get off the plane.

It was almost thirty minutes before they reached the police department and Major Crime. The bullpen was empty when they walked in, and Blair wondered briefly where everyone was. Then he spotted Simon entering the door at the far end of the bullpen, and Blair's mind was right back on the whereabouts of Jim.

"Simon," Blair called, hurrying to the captain's side.

Simon stopped, just noticing Blair's presence. "Oh, Sandburg. When did you get in?"

"About thirty minutes ago. Any word on Jim?"

Simon averted his gaze, and Blair could tell whatever news he had it wasn't good.

"What? What is it, Simon?"

Simon looked at him again, his eyes filled with worry. "I just got word. The cruiser Jim and his partner took out this morning was found abandoned on the side of the road, and there are bullet holes in it."

Blair's breath caught in this throat. All sorts of horror scenarios started playing through his mind. What if Jim had been shot? What if he was lying somewhere bleeding to death? Or worse, what if he was already dead? Blair suddenly felt dizzy and felt hands guiding him to a nearby chair and pushing his head down between his legs.

"Just breathe, kid," Simon's voice drifted through the haze in Blair's brain. "We'll find him. Last I heard, there was no blood found. There's no evidence that either Jim or Officer Wright were injured in any way."

Feeling a little more together, Blair sat up straight. Both Simon and John were kneeling in front of him. He looked at Simon, holding back tears. "No offense, Captain, but that doesn't exactly make me feel any better."

Simon nodded, patting Blair's shoulder.

"Are you alright, Blair?" John asked.

"Yeah, I'm ok, I guess."

Reassured, John looked at Simon. "Do you think I get a look at that cruiser?"

"Who are you?" Simon asked.

"Oh, I'm sorry," Blair said. In all the craziness, he'd forgotten to introduce the two of them. "Simon, this is a friend of mind from Maine, John Smith. He's a psychic."

"Oh, you've got to be kidding me," Simon said, standing up.

"He's the real deal, Simon," Blair said. "He's saved my life twice with his visions." Blair noticed Simon's eye-roll at the word visions. "Is that so hard to believe? Besides, we've worked with a psychic before."

"Yeah, and I seem to remember him dragging you two out into the middle of nowhere on a wild goose chase with about five news crews behind you just so he could get the credit for finding the girl."

"For the record, he did help us find that girl. And John's not interested in publicity."

"I actually try to avoid it when I can," John added in. "Look, Captain, if you're not comfortable having me in on this, that's fine. I'll just be moral support for Blair. But I just want to help you find your man."

"Please, Simon. We need all the help we can get. John's the one who told me Jim was in trouble in the first place," Blair pleaded.

Simon rubbed his forehead with a sigh. "Alright, alright. If you trust him, fine. Last I heard, forensics was still going over the cruiser so it should still be where they found it. I'll drive."

Simon pulled up behind the abandoned police cruiser a half hour later. Police officers and forensics people were milling about the scene as they exited the vehicle. Blair's heart was hammering as they approached the cruiser. He was afraid yet hopeful at the same time. This car could provide them with the clues they needed to find out what happened to Jim and in turn find out where he was. But what kind of shape would he be in when they finally did find him?

"Sergeant, is forensics finished?" Simon asked as he approached the officer in charge and showed him his badge.

"Yes, sir. They just finished."

"Did they find anything?"

"Well, there are bullet holes the front fender on the passenger side and in the passenger side door. It looks like whoever did this was using armor piercing rounds. Also, it looks like whatever happened to Wright and Ellison didn't happen here."

"So the car was dumped here," Simon stated.

"Yes, Captain. That's correct."

Simon nodded, rubbing his chin. His detective had definitely gotten himself into some kind of trouble. He turned to the sergeant once again. "Mind if we have a look?"

"Sure, Captain. Go ahead," the sergeant replied.

Simon thanked the officer and motioned for Blair and John to follow him over to the cruiser. The passenger door was wide open and Simon could see that the bullet that had struck the door had gone clear through. He shuddered to think what that meant. He turned to Blair and John.

"Ok, so how does this work exactly?" Simon asked John.

"I have to be able to touch something. May I?" John asked, indicating the car.

"Yeah, go ahead. Forensics is done. You can touch anything you want."

John nodded and walked slowly toward the car with Blair close behind him. John ran his hands over the side of the car first but got nothing. Then he reached out with a slightly shaking hand to touch the open passenger door. The vision filled his mind like a very vivid dream. When it was over, he looked at Blair.

"Did you get anything?" Blair asked.

"I saw Jim," John replied carefully. He knew Blair wasn't going to like what he was about to tell him. "He got out of the car. Someone was shooting at him. He took cover behind the door here. He didn't have time to move to a more secure position before…"

John's voice trailed off, but Blair didn't need him to finish. The bullet hole in the door spoke for him. Jim had been shot. Blair swallowed the huge lump in his throat in order to ask the question he most dreaded the answer to. "Is Jim alive?"

"I don't know," John replied regretfully, rubbing his face. He got into the front seat and started running his fingers over everything. He didn't get another vision until he touched the knob on the radio. "It was a routine traffic stop just after they reported to dispatch that they were returning to the station. Wright said that it wouldn't take long. Jim stayed in the car."

"Wait, Jim stayed in the car? Why would he do that?" Blair asked, turning to Simon.

Simon shrugged. "I don't know."

"What happened next?" Blair asked John.

"Jim somehow knew something was wrong. That's when he got out of the car and tried to warn Wright."

And ended up getting shot, Blair added silently. Jim must have sensed something, but why wasn't he be out there backing Wright up in the first place?

"Anything else?" Simon asked.

John reached over and touched the keys that were still in the ignition.

*Vision*

John watched a tall, muscular man with sleek black hair pull the car keys out of Officer Wright's pocket. The man was obviously dead with two bullet wounds to the head.

John looked around to get an idea of where they were. He was standing on the side of what seemed to be a deserted road with rows of trees on either side. There were no street signs or mile markers to tell him where exactly they were. So he turned his attention to the three men standing around a grey Ford Tempo.

"Oh man. I can't believe you guys just shot two cops," a blonde man said. He was in his mid-twenties and looked to be in shock.

"Hey, what did you want us to do? If we hadn't, they would have found us out," the muscular man said.

"Man, that guy was right. Nothing stops these bullets," the third man said in awe, looking down at the gun in his hand. He had curly brown hair and was the shortest of the three.

He was staring at another body lying next to the police cruiser. John could see it was Jim with a bullet wound to the chest.

"So what do we do now?" the blonde asked.

"We drag the bodies into the woods over there and the dump the car someplace else," the muscular man said. "By the time they're found, we'll be long gone."

The brown-haired man picked Jim up by the shoulders while the blonde grabbed Jim's legs. Jim let out a groan, and the blonde almost lost his grip at the sound.

"Hey Lenny, this one's still alive."

"So what? Dump him anyway. He won't survive long with a wound like that," the muscular man, Lenny, called as he was dragging Wright's body toward the tree line.

The other two followed with their burden and emerged a few minutes later. Lenny got into the police cruiser while his two companions got into the Tempo, and both cars drove away.

*End of Vision*

"John? What did you see?" Blair asked when he saw consciousness return to John's eyes.

John rubbed his hand over his mouth as he contemplated how he was going to answer Blair's question. "Officer Wright is dead," he said carefully.

"What? Are you sure?" Simon asked.

"No doubt about it. He was shot between the eyes at point blank range."

Simon sighed and rubbed his forehead. "Damn it," he whispered.

"What about Jim?" Blair asked. He was sorry that the officer was dead, but his main focus right now was his partner.

"He was shot in the upper chest. He was still alive when they dumped him and Wright's body in the woods near the road."

"Where? Where did this happen?" Simon asked impatiently.

John blew out a breath. "I don't know. It was a long stretch of road. There were no signs or landmarks or any indication as to where they were. I'm sorry."

"God damn it," Simon swore, turning away from the car. He was starting to regret bringing this so called psychic along. He wasn't giving them much to go on, and he didn't even know if what he was saying was really what had happened.

"I'll tell you what I did see though," John said, getting out of the car, sensing that the captain was getting frustrated. "I saw the three men that did this. At least two of them had guns, and they were driving a grey Ford Tempo."

Simon turned around, giving John a calculating look. "Did you get a license plate number?"

"Yes," John replied without hesitation.

"Can you describe the men?"

"Completely."

Simon looked to Blair who nodded, his eyes pleading with him to believe in John's visions. Looking back at John, he said, "Alright. Let's get back to the station."

On the way to the station, Simon made arrangements for a sketch artist to meet them up in Major Crimes. When they arrived, Simon led John and the sketch artist into one of the conference rooms, leaving Blair alone. Blair didn't feel like going with them. He didn't feel like being around people. He didn't even feel like moving from where he stood. He couldn't take his mind off Jim. He just felt so helpless and weak with worry. What if they couldn't find Jim in time? Or what if they found him only to watch him die anyway? Or what if they never found him at all?

Blair shook his head and practically collapsed to the floor. He sat against the wall just outside the conference room. He pulled his legs up tight against his chest, leaned his elbows on his knees, and put his head down so he didn't have to look at anyone. He didn't want to think about it anymore. He didn't want to think period. He just wanted to retreat to the safety of his own mind where he didn't have to think about anything.

Blair didn't know how long he'd been sitting there when he felt a hand grasp his shoulder.

"Sandburg? Hey, Blair."

Blair lifted his head up and looked into the concerned face of Henri Brown. "Oh, hey H."

"Are you okay, man? What are you doing on the floor? Did you find Jim? Is he…"

"No," Blair answered quickly, shaking his head. He knew what Henri was asking, and he didn't want to hear it. "No, we haven't found Jim yet. We haven't even come close. I'm just waiting for Simon. He's getting a description of the guys that did this."

"Well, that's good. Then maybe we'll be able to catch them, and hopefully, they'll tell us where Jim is."

"Yeah, hopefully," Blair said dismally.

At that moment, the door to the conference room opened.

"Brown," Simon said as he walked out into the hall.

"Yes sir?" Henri said, standing up straight.

"I want you to put out an APB on these three guys," the captain said as he handed the detective three pieces of paper. "They're driving a grey Ford Temp license plate number KJ54162."

"Right. I'm on it, Cap," Brown said, hurrying down the hallway, papers in hand.

"Now all we have to do is wait," Simon said.

John nodded and looked down at Blair, who hadn't gotten up yet. His heart immediately went out to the kid. He looked so lost and helpless. "Hey, Blair. How about we go get some coffee?" he suggested, wanting to make him feel a little better. He reached out to give him a hand up.

Blair breathed a sigh, reached up, and grasped John's hand. The minute they came in contact, John was pulled into another vision.

*Vision*

John suddenly found himself standing alone in a dense forest. He looked around but saw nothing but trees and plant life around. How does this help me? He thought as he started walking. There had to be a reason for this vision. He stopped when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

A second later, a silver wolf ran out of the trees towards him. It stopped in front of him and stared at him with its head tilted to the side slightly. Then it turned around, took several steps, and then turned its head back toward John as if it wanted him to follow it.

With a shrug, John followed the wolf through the forest. This was definitely weird. He had never had a vision like this unless he counted the time when he was accidentally exposed to some drug that messed with his visions.

He followed the wolf until he caught sight of a dark mass lying on the ground in the distance. As he got closer, he could see that it was a fairly large black panther lying on its side breathing shallowly. There was a darkened spot on its chest where blood had stained its fur.

The wolf ambled toward the panther, licked its ear, and then laid down next to the injured animal. Then the panther morphed into Jim Ellison right before John's eyes.

Whoa. This vision is getting weirder by the minute, John thought as he approached the injured man whose eyes were open and staring straight up.

"Chief," Jim breathed and closed his eyes in pain.

The wolf reacted to the word, lifting its head and laying it down on Jim's chest with a whine. Then it jumped up and ran through the trees once again. John ran after it, hoping to find some hint as to exactly where Jim was. He followed it until he came to a long stretch of road.

This is where the shooting took place, John thought. But where is this? He heard a whine to his left and took off after the wolf as it ran down the road. He finally came to a street sign. Looking up at the sign, he sighed in relief. He finally had a street name.

*End of Vision*

John blinked, and he and Blair shared a look.

"Whoa. That was amazing," Blair said as John finished helping him to his feet.

"You saw that?" John asked. "But how? I've been having visions for years, but I've never shared one before."

"I don't know, but we'll figure it out later," Blair said quickly. They finally had an idea of where Jim was, and Blair didn't want to waste time talking. And he didn't want to explain that vision. He knew what it meant. It was just like that vision he'd shared with Jim after his drowning. That vision had saved his life, and this vision may well save Jim's life. Maybe there was a higher force at work here watching over them, trying to keep them together.

"What the hell are you two talking about?" Simon asked.

"I'll explain later, Simon. Right now we have to get to Jim. He's alive. He's just off of Route 60," Blair replied.

"Try to be more specific, Sandburg. Route 60 is a long stretch of road."

Blair shrugged. "I don't know. Somewhere where it runs through the woods."

"That's still not enough, Sandburg. I need more," Simon said, frustrated.

"Well, I don't know what to tell you, Simon," Blair snapped back, equally frustrated.

"Guys, hold up," John said, getting in between the two. "Let's just drive down Route 60 towards the woods, and hopefully I'll get something more on the way."

The two looked at John and then back at each other. They each relaxed a bit as they thought about John's suggestion.

"Alright. Let's go," Simon said and walked toward the elevator.

Thirty minutes later they were driving down Route 60. They had just left the city behind and were driving through trees.

"Okay, we just entered the woods. Anything?" Simon asked John.

"No," John replied.

He and Blair had been grasping hands ever once and a while on the way to see if he could get any more vision but so far nothing, and Blair was starting to get discouraged. He stared unblinkingly out the window at the passing scenery until it became a blur of greens and browns mixed together. He felt John's hand grip his right shoulder, and he blinked, clearing his vision, and suddenly saw a wolf standing amongst the trees.

Blair sat up straight and yelled, "Stop!" at the same time as John.

Simon quickly pulled the car over to the side of the road. "What?"

"I just saw the wolf back there," Blair said.

"So did I," John said.

Simon stared at the both of them and then shook his head. "I'm not even going to ask. Just lead the way."

All three got out of the car and headed back the way they had come, carefully scanning the trees. Finally Blair and John stopped.

"Is this it?" Blair asked. He wasn't quite sure. All the trees looked the same.

John knelt down slowly, keeping a firm grip on his cane. His legs still weren't up to par since being in a coma for six years. He placed his hand on the grass and after a moment, stood up.

"Yes, this is it. They should be straight that way," John answered, pointing into the trees.

That was all the confirmation Blair needed. He immediately ran into the trees. He ran as fast as he could, distantly aware of Simon and John doing their best to keep up with him. Within a few minutes, a body came into view. Blair thought at first that it was Jim until he saw the face, the dead gaze, and the bullet holes between the eyes. Blair stared down at the corpse, breathing heavily. This must be Officer Wright, the man that had been with Jim when all this happened. Blair felt bad that the officer was dead, but he had more important things to worry about. Like where the hell was Jim? He looked around and saw another body lying a few feet away.

"JIM!" Blair cried, running to the fallen man's side. "Oh god." He knelt down next to Jim, alarmed at all the blood that covered Jim's chest and the ground beneath him and at how pale his friend was. He placed two shaking fingers to the side of Jim's neck, searching for a pulse. He sighed in relief when he found one, although a weak and thready one.

"Blair?" Simon asked, unable to ask the question but needing to know the answer.

Blair looked back and replied, "He's alive but barely. We need to get him help now."

Simon nodded, pulling out his cell phone to call for an ambulance.

Blair blocked out everything else, only concentrating on the best friend he's ever had who was now fighting for his life. He quickly pulled off his thin jacket, balled it up, and placed it firmly over the bullet wound in Jim's chest to stop the bleeding. Jim groaned at the pressure, and Blair placed one of his hands on Jim's cheek to hopefully calm him down. He was surprised Jim was still alive but at the same time very grateful.

"Here."

Blair looked up, just noticing that John was kneeling on the other side of Jim and was handing him his jacket.

"Put this under his head. I'll keep pressure on the wound," John said.

Blair nodded his thanks as he accepted the jacket, relinquishing pressure to John while he carefully placed the garment under Jim's head. He then took Jim's hand in one of his and cupped Jim's face with the other as the detective's eyes started to flutter.

"Jim, can you hear me, buddy?" Blair asked.

Jim's eyes opened to half mast and sluggishly focused on Blair's face. "Chief," he whispered breathily. "You're here."

"Of course I'm here, big guy. Where else would I be?"

"I…didn't…think…you'd…be back."

Blair pursed his lips. Of course Jim would think that way. What else would he think? Blair had been gone for months now and had given no indication that he would be coming back in their few conversations together.

Rubbing Jim's cheek with his thumb gently in a comforting motion, Blair said, "I would always come back to you no matter what."

Jim smiled weakly, his eyes closing of their own volition.

"You rest, Jim. Help's on the way," Blair said soothingly. We'll talk about this later, he added silently as he heard sirens coming their way. At least he hoped they would get a chance to talk about it later.

John watched as Blair talked soothingly to his injured friend. Their relationship was strong, that much was plain to see to anyone with eyes. It wasn't unlike the relationship John shared with his best friend Bruce, but he suspected it was more than that. He suspected the relationship Blair and Jim shared was stronger than just friendship, but he couldn't put his finger on exactly what it was.

John looked down at the injured man under his hands and then at the way Blair kept whispering soft words to him even though he was now unconscious, and John hoped that Jim survived this ordeal. Because he had a feeling that if he didn't, then Blair wouldn't either.

When paramedics and police finally arrived, John let the paramedics take over caring for Jim. He stepped back and watched the scene unfold. Blair never left Jim's side as the paramedics cleaned Jim's wound, lifted him on a stretcher, and started hurrying him back toward the waiting ambulance.

"Blair," Simon called as the young man was climbing into the ambulance after the paramedics. "We'll meet you there. You hang in there, all right?"

Blair looked at Simon and John and nodded. He was glad he wasn't going to have to go through this alone.


Simon and John walked into the hospital almost a half hour later. The smell of antiseptic permeated the air as they looked around the waiting room. The place was filled with many other people suffering from one ailment or another and all waiting to see a doctor. They spotted Blair sitting in one of the hard plastic chairs with his head in his hands. He looked so lost and miserable like a little lost puppy.

"Blair," Simon called.

Blair looked up. "Oh, hey guys," he said as his two friends sat down on either side of him.

"How's Jim?" Simon asked.

"They just took him up to surgery. The doctor said that he lost a massive amount of blood, and they were having trouble stabilizing his blood pressure. They're not even sure his body can withstand the surgery, but they just couldn't put it off any longer."

Simon sighed. He rubbed his hand over his face as he sat down next to the younger man. "Jim's tough, Blair. I'm sure he'll make it through this." Simon tried to sound reassuring, but Blair could tell he was just as worried about Jim as Blair was.

Blair leaned back in his chair and looked at John sitting on the other side of him. "Don't suppose you could tell me that he's going to be all right?"

John sighed. He wished he could tell Blair that everything was going to be okay. He wished he could tell him that Jim was going to come through this ordeal with flying colors, but the truth was he didn't know. He had hoped he would get a vision when he first touched the detective, but there had been nothing.

"I'm sorry, Blair," John said sympathetically. "Sometimes there are things I just can't see."

Blair nodded and lowered his gaze to the floor. He wished John could tell him something. He hated this waiting, this not knowing. But he understood. Just because someone is psychic doesn't mean that person can see everything that could or would happen.

The waiting was horrible. The minutes felt like hours, and the hours felt like days. And everything around Blair seemed to grate on his last nerve. People all around him were moaning and groaning. There was a man sitting in the corner who had been puking non-stop into a bucket for the past twenty minutes. A young mother sat across from Blair with a wailing child in her arms, and somewhere else in the hospital someone screamed in pain.

Blair rubbed his temples. He was starting to get a headache. It felt like all the sounds around him had heightened on him. Was this what it was like for Jim when his hearing was spiking? He wondered. If the doctor didn't come out soon, he would have to get out of there or he would go crazy.

Finally the doctor came out, and Blair was on his feet in seconds. Simon and John were right behind him.

"How is he?" Blair asked anxiously.

Dr. Jack Spencer looked at the young man before him who looked extremely worried, jittery even, and the doctor tried to look reassuring.

"Well it was touch and go there for a while, but considering how bad it could have been, I believe he was extremely lucky. The bullet missed any of his major organs. His biggest problem was the blood loss. We gave him several blood transfusions, and we were able to get his blood pressure stabilized. We managed to repair the damage, and barring any unforeseen complications, he should make a full recovery."

Blair sighed in relief and collapsed into a nearby chair. Jim was going to be okay. Thank God. He had managed to change John's vision of death, and he vowed that he would never leave Jim to deal with his senses alone again, not for a long period of time at least. He didn't know what he was thinking when he left. He left Jim with no help, no backup, and no support. He should have known that Jim would have problems. He supposed he expected Simon or Megan to help him out, but he couldn't blame them that things had gone so wrong. They weren't Jim's guide. Blair was, and he now realized that being a guide wasn't something he could do when he had the time. It wasn't something he could just quit. It was a lifelong commitment, a lifelong bond. And he knew now what he had to do in regards to his future.


Jim's eyes fluttered open to bright fluorescent lights in a white ceiling. He winced and closed his eyes with a groan. He felt weak and tired, and there was an ache deep in his chest that was hard to ignore. He knew he was in a hospital by the smell of antiseptic, but he didn't know why. Then he remembered getting shot and lying on the cold, hard ground for an unknown amount of time with no one but the trees around to hear his cries for help. And cry for help he did. He had yelled for hours it seemed until his voice was nothing but a harsh whisper.

He had tried to fight at first, to stay awake for as long as possible even though his body had started to feel cold, blood had soaked the front and back of his shirt, and he had felt his strength leaving him with each passing minute. He knew if he gave into the darkness that had threatened to consume him he would not wake up, but eventually he had begun to feel hopeless. He had known that Simon and probably the entire Major Crimes division if not the entire department would be searching for him. He just hadn't thought they would find him in time, and even if they did, what then?

Blair was gone, and he may never come back. Jim hadn't realized how attuned his senses had become to his guide. He had known while he was lying there bleeding out that he couldn't live with the constant zone outs, spikes, and blackouts he had been suffering these past months since his guide had left, and it was then that he had started to give up the fight. It was also at that time that he had heard a familiar voice, a voice that was a soothing balm to his senses and to his soul. It had been Blair, Jim realized. Blair had been there comforting him, or had he? Had he really been there, or had it just been a dream?

Jim opened his eyes again, squinting against the bright light. He looked around the sterile white room and finally found what he was looking for. Blair was slumped in a chair next to his bed, apparently asleep with his head resting on his chest and his arms crossed across his chest. Jim smiled. The kid looked so innocent when he was asleep. He tried calling out Blair's name, but his throat hurt so much he could barely manage a whisper. He picked up a paper cup from the tray table and tossed it at Blair's head. The cup hit the very top of Blair's head, and he startled awake, almost falling out of his chair.

Blair looked around, confused as to what had awoken him and then he saw Jim awake. "Jim! You're awake! And…did you just throw something at me?"

Jim smiled sheepishly. "Sorry," he rasped. "Didn't have any other way to wake you up." He rubbed his throat with a grimace. His throat felt like it was on fire.

Blair smiled indulgently and shook his head. He grabbed a plastic pitcher from the bedside table and filled a cup with cool water. The doctor had warned him that Jim's throat would be raw when he woke up from yelling so much. He probably wouldn't be able to manage more than a rasp for the next few days while his throat healed from the constant abuse. He handed Jim the water who accepted it gratefully.

Jim almost gulped down the entire cup at once. The cool water brought instant relief to his burning throat. "Thanks," he said as put the cup down on the tray table. His voice was still raspy, but at least it felt better.

"You're welcome. So how are you feeling?" Blair asked as he scooted closer to the bed.

"Like a truck ran over my chest. How long have I been here?"

"About three days. You've been in and out of consciousness since they brought you in. This is the first time you've been awake for more than five minutes. The doctors say that you're going to be fine though."

"That's good to know," Jim said. He looked at Blair. "You know I wasn't sure you'd be here when I opened my eyes."

"I don't have anywhere else to be," Blair said with a smile.

"I wasn't sure you'd been real. I thought maybe you were a dream or a hallucination or something."

"I'm real, man," Blair said, putting his hand over Jim's to show that he was really there. "And I'm not going anywhere."

Jim smiled and relaxed back into the bed. He felt better knowing that Blair was really there and he wasn't going anywhere. His smile turned into a frown as he looked at Blair solemnly. "Blair, what happened to Wright?" he asked, dreading the answer but needing to know.

Blair sighed and averted his gaze, and Jim knew the answer before Blair said anything. "He's dead, Jim. He was shot in the head," Blair answered.

Jim closed his eyes and then looked at the pristine white ceiling, the weight of his guilt almost crushing him. It was his fault. He should have done something more to save Officer Wright. He should have reacted faster. He should have heard the cock of the gun sooner. He should have been out of the car backing Wright up, not sitting in the car like some invalid.

"Stop right there," Blair said, and Jim looked at him quizzically. "I know what you're thinking and don't. It's not your fault."

Jim gave Blair a half smile. "You read minds now?"

Blair grinned. "No, I just know you. There was nothing you could have done."

"I could've gotten out of the car with him instead of sitting there like some damn civilian. I almost didn't hear the cock of the gun."

"But you did, and you tried to warn him."

"Yeah, but if I had been out of the car, I would have been able to get to him in time to push him out of the way."

"Jim, let me ask you something. If you had been out of the car, where would you have been standing?"

Jim thought about it. Considering that there had been three people in the car, he most likely would have been standing on the passenger side of the car to keep an eye on the two passengers while Wright dealt with the driver.

"I would have been on the other side of the car," Jim replied, getting where Blair was going with this.

"Exactly. You couldn't have rounded the car fast enough to push him out of the way."

Jim looked at Blair and smiled. The kid always knew just what to say to make him feel better.

"Besides," Blair went on. "If it's anyone's fault, it's mine."

Jim's brow furrowed in confusion. "What are you talking about? You weren't even there."

"That's just it. I wasn't there for you. I left you without any backup whatsoever, and as a result you were having problems with your senses. If I had been there, you would have heard the cock of the gun sooner."

"Blair, if you had been there, I wouldn't have been partnered with Wright in the first place, and he would have died anyway. The difference is I was there to identify the bastards that did it."

Blair nodded. "I guess you're right, Jim. But still, I'm sorry I left you high and dry, man, without a guide at all. I just wasn't thinking."

Jim waved away the apology. "I understand why you left though. So," Jim said with a sidelong glance at Blair, "now that you're back what do you plan to do now?"

Blair noticed the glance and saw the uncertainty in the ice blue eyes. "Well, I've been doing a lot of thinking about this, and I…"

"Wait," Jim interrupted, holding his hand up. "Before you say anything more, I want to say something. I was thinking that maybe we should file a lawsuit against Rainier and Sid Graham."

"What? Sue them?"

"Yes," Jim replied vehemently. "Sid Graham sent your dissertation to the media without your permission. Rainier fired you even though you hadn't officially submitted your dissertation. You hadn't even said that that was really your dissertation. And as a result, you lost your job, you lost your scholarship, everything you've worked for for the past, what, thirteen years. Not to mention what happened between us."

Blair nodded as he listened to Jim's words. "That could work, but how are we going to pull this off?"

"We tell them the truth," Jim said with a shrug. "You're dissertation subject is on closed societies, and the whole sentinel thing was just something that you wrote in your spare time."

"You mean like a book?" Blair asked and Jim nodded. "But then how do we explain the press conference?"

"Tell them that you said that you were a fraud in order to get the media off my back. Tell them that I was working a high profile, very dangerous case, and the reporters were interfering with my work. If you had said it was a book, that might of created more publicity."

Blair raised his eyebrows. "You've been doing a lot of thinking about this."

Jim lowered his eyes. "Yeah, well, I felt bad that you gave up your life for me. It's time I did something about it. You know if this works, you might be able to get your job back and your doctorate."

"Yeah, but you know even if it does, I don't think I could go back to Rainier. Like I said once before, I can't go back to the merry-go-round after being on the rollercoaster."

Jim sat up a little straighter, wincing at the slight twinge of pain in his chest. "So what are you saying? You're still going to be a police officer?"

Blair smiled at the hopeful tone in Jim's voice. Taking a deep breath, he replied, "Yeah, I think so. I mean I really enjoy being your partner and I enjoy helping people. I'm still a little nervous about carrying a gun, but I can work through that."

Jim smiled. He was speechless. Blair was willing to give up everything he's worked for, everything he's known for him. Jim couldn't ask for a better friend than that. He felt like the luckiest man in the world.

Before either of them could say anymore, the door opened and Simon walked in. "Jim, good to see you awake. How are you doing?"

"I'm fine, Simon," Jim replied.

"Right. I don't believe you for a second, but I'm not going to press. I do have good news for you though. The three men responsible for this are now in custody."

"You're kidding. Where were they?" Blair asked.

"They were caught trying to leave the city. I think they were trying to head to the Canadian border. Thank god we already had the APB out on them."

"Wait, how could you have had an APB out on them? I haven't even given my statement yet," Jim said in confusion.

Before Simon could answer, there was a knock at the door, catching the attention of all three men as the door opened and John poked his head in.

"Hey. I'm not interrupting, am I?" John asked.

Simon looked at Jim with a smile. "I'll let these two explain it to you. In the meantime, I'm heading back to the station. As of right now, these guys are spilling their guts on where they got those armor piercing rounds. Hopefully, we'll get those off the streets as well. You take it easy, Jim. Get some rest. Oh, by the way, when you're feeling better, you can return to Major Crimes, Detective."

"Thanks, Simon," Jim said as the big captain left the room with a small nod to John in acknowledgement on the way out.

"John, come on in," Blair said. "Jim, this is John Smith. He's a friend I met in Cleaves Mills."

"It's nice to see you feeling better, Detective," John said as he approached the bed.

"Thank you. Now do you one of you want to give me an explanation?" Jim asked, looking from one to the other.

"Well…" Blair hesitated, looking everywhere but at Jim.

"Sandburg."

Blair finally looked Jim in the eye and sighed. "John's a psychic. He helped us find you."

"You gotta be kidding me. Not another psychic," Jim said, laying his head down on the pillow and staring at the ceiling. Ever since that kidnapping case they had worked with the supposedly noted psychic, Charlie Spring, Jim had detested psychics. Spring had been a big pain in the ass and led them on a wild goose chase just to get some publicity.

"Jim, he's nothing like Charlie Spring," Blair said, knowing what he was thinking about. "And John's the real deal. He saved my life twice with his visions."

"Visions, huh?" Jim said, looking at Blair skeptically.

"Yes, I have visions," John said, deciding to take some of the pressure off of Blair. "And I know it's hard to believe, Detective Ellison, but it's true. Believe me, I didn't ask for this. My life was going great before this whole psychic thing started. Then one day I was in a major car accident and ended up in coma for six years. And when I woke up, I was suddenly having these visions of things that happened and things that will happen. Everything and everyone around me had changed, and my life was turned upside down. I tried to run from it. I tried to pretend that it wasn't happening. I even avoided touching people for awhile, but then I realized that I couldn't hide from the visions. They are a part of me now, and I can't do anything to change that. So I decided to use them to help people. Like you."

Jim regarded the psychic with newfound respect. He knew just how John felt. He didn't ask for these heightened senses. He never wanted them, and at first he had just wanted them to go away. And his life had certainly changed since the senses showed up. He had to watch what he ate, what kind of medication to take, and what kind of products he used. He also had to watch out for spikes and zone outs. Not to mention the biggest change of all in his life was the introduction of the long-haired neo hippie witchdoctor punk who very quickly became his best friend and the best partner he had ever had.

"So you saw what happened?" Jim asked.

"There were three of them," John answered, knowing that this hard-headed detective was going to need more proof. "They were driving a gray Ford Tempo, and you guys pulled them over because of expired tags. Wright told you to stay in the car while he talked to the driver. He was shot…"

Jim held up his hand to stop the flow of words. "All right. I believe you. Just…don't."

"Sorry," John said guiltily.

"It's okay. I wanted the proof."

"Yeah, but I didn't have to be blunt about it."

"Thank you for all your help," Jim said after a moment of silence.

"Yeah, man. We never would have found Jim in time without you," Blair said.

"Oh, don't mention it. I was happy to do it," John said with a wave of his hand. "Well, I should be going. I have a plane to catch. If I don't get back soon, people are going to start wondering what happened to me." He turned to go.

"John," Blair called as he walked around Jim's bed to catch the psychic before he left the room. "Thanks for coming. You've been a big help."

"It was no problem. And hey, you guys should come out to visit me sometime. I've got plenty of room."

"Hey yeah, Jim," Blair said with a smile as he turned to face the man in the bed. "Cleaves Mills is like the perfect place to relax."

"Yeah right. And why is it I don't believe you?" Jim said skeptically.

"Why not?"

"Wasn't it you who told me he saved your life twice with his visions. I'm assuming this happened in Cleaves Mills."

"Oh yeah. That," Blair said, scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "Well, there was that drunk driver, but there was no guarantee that it would have hit me. And there was that robbery."

"And don't forget about that fire," John added.

"What fire?" Jim asked.

"Oh, you had to bring that up," Blair huffed, glaring at John.

"What fire?" Jim asked again.

"Oh, it was just a small fire at the apartment I was living in, but those things could happen to anyone."

"Yeah, but they seem to happen to you a lot, Chief. No matter where you are," Jim said with a smile.

"Hey, I'm not the only one who attracts trouble here. Who's the one in the hospital bed? Huh? I think it's you."

Jim laughed and looked at John. "We'll let you know."

"All right. I'll see you guys later then," John said as he left the room.

Blair returned to his seat beside Jim's bed, and there was silence between them for a while.

"Hey Chief?" Jim said after a moment. "It's good to have you back."

Blair smiled. "It's good to be back. And this time, I'm not going anywhere."

The End