Abuse of Power

by Wendy Myers and Brenda Knodle

"You owe me, man," said Blair as they entered the loft. "Just one test..." He hung up his jacket and turned to Jim, pleading.

Jim followed his partner through the door, rolling his eyes as he closed the door. Blair had been dogging him all the way home for an experiment of Jim's senses and he grinned at the young man's insistence. He hung his jacked beside Blair's and turned to face the young man, who was looking expectantly at him with his famous puppy gaze. Oh well. "OK," Jim gave in. Blair's face brightened immensely and started bouncing in his excitement.

But Jim wasn't going to do this empty-handed. "But there's only one condition."

Blair had pulled his notebook from his backpack and had started pacing. contemplating which sense to test. He stopped in mid-pace and looked back at Jim. *Uh-oh.* Blair thought. "Condition?" What now?

Jim was going to enjoy this. "I'll tell you later." Let him squirm. Jim walked calmly over to the refrigerator and took out the Chinese leftovers. When he turned around, Blair was still looking at him. "What test do you want to do this time?"

Blair perked up and continued his pacing, bouncing with excitement. "You remember when you piggybacked your hearing with your sight?"

Jim moved around the kitchen, to reheat last night's leftovers for tonight's meal. "Yeah," he replied, curious. What was Sandburg planning to do this time? "Why?"

"Well, I was thinking..." Blair ignored Jim's amused reaction. "What if you could do that with your other senses?" He was gesturing wildly with his hands. "I mean, the possibilities..." He trailed off as he thought of something and trotted to his room.


Jim smiled and shook his head as he finished reheating the leftovers. Blair's inexhaustible energy amazed him. They had just spent all day finishing paperwork on a case and Jim was tired. But Blair....especially when it came to these Sentinel senses.... "Come on, Chief," he called out as he turned off the heat. "Let's eat." Jim was putting the plates on the table when Blair came out of his room, mumbling excitedly to himself.

"I've got it figured out," said Blair, as he went to the kitchen to get the glasses and something to drink.

"Chief, will you come and eat?" Jim glared at Blair. His young partner was still standing in the kitchen with glasses and drinks in each hand, but hadn't made a move to the table. He had been pacing back and forth, mumbling plans to himself, getting more excited with each pace. At Jim's question, Blair stopped pacing and looked at him. "Hmmm? Oh." He put the glasses and drinks on the table. Jim grinned. He admired the young man's enthusiasm. Just watching Blair's energy bounce around exhausted Jim.

As they sat down at the table, he continued, "We know how to piggyback your sight with your hearing." Jim nodded. Blair went on, "But can you do it with something else...say, maybe your sense of smell or something?" Jim shrugged.


Dinner was spent in silence, which amused Jim. Blair was so caught up with his impending experiment that his thoughts kept him quiet. As soon as he was finished, Blair rushed to his room, leaving Jim to clean up. Jim just calmly got up, followed his friend to his room and gently, but firmly grabbed the scruff of his neck. "Not yet, Chief," he said as he lead Blair back into the dining room. "Got to clean up, remember?"

Blair gave a quick laugh. "Oh, yeah. Sorry." He moved to clean up the table, moving the dishes to the sink and started the water.

Hours later, as Jim got ready for bed, he listened to Blair downstairs typing away at his computer.

He unconsciously let Blair's typing soothe him and put him to sleep.


"Sandburg! Wake up!"

Blair woke up to someone vigorously shaking his shoulder. He rolled over, bringing a hand to his tired eyes and yawning. "Hmmm? I'm up." he mumbled. He blinked and focussed on Jim, who was shaking him. "What time is it?" Blair slowly got to his feet and padded toward the bathroom.

Jim headed back to the kitchen. "You've got twenty minutes, Chief!" he shouted down the hall. "You've gotta start going to bed earlier."

Twenty minutes later, Blair emerged from his bedroom, dressed. His hair hung damp around his shoulders. "Sorry, Jim," he apologized sheepishly. He headed towards the coffeepot in the kitchen. Jim caught his arm and shoved Blair's jacket into his hand as he led him to the door.

"No time for it, Chief. We're late."

"Aw man..." he moaned as Jim led him out of the loft.


As soon as they arrived at the bullpen, Blair made a beeline for the coffee room. Jim caught him mumbling "caffeine" and grinned as he headed to his desk. He had barely got his jacket on the coat rack when Simon emerged from his office. "Jim, can I see you for a minute?" Jim glanced back at his partner grabbing some coffee before going into the captain's office.

Blair filled his mug and turned to go back to Jim's desk. He didn't see someone walk into the break room and bumped into him on his way towards the door. "Oh man! I'm *soo* sorry,"

Blair apologized as coffee splashed on the officer's shirt. "I didn't see you there." Blair looked at the officer whose shirtfront was splattered with coffee. The man was much taller than Jim but shorter than Simon and looked like a linebacker. He started to reach around for some napkins to clean the mess when the larger man grabbed the front of his shirt and slammed the young man up against the wall, causing Blair to drop the mug.

Blair winced. The last person that did this to him was Jim, when they first met at the University. But Jim did it out of fear and frustration. This guy....

"You little punk!" growled the man before him now, his eyes glaring like dark coals.

"Hey! Take it easy," said Blair, trying to remain calm. "I said, 'I'm sorry'."

"You *bet* you're sorry," threatened the officer. "You'll be even sorrier when I'm done with you."

*Oh great.* Blair closed his eyes tight and waited for the impending blow. It didn't come. Instead, a voice other than this man's was heard. "Put him down," said the voice, low and calm. Blair opened his eyes. It was Joel. The bomb squad captain had placed a massive hand on thisofficer's neck and repeated in a more menacing tone. "Put him down." The fist holding Blair tothe wall opened and the young man was once again on his own two feet.

Taggert looked at Blair. "Are you alright?" he asked.

Blair just nodded, afraid that if he spoke, the fear would be evident in his voice. Taggert laid a gentle hand on Blair's shoulder and guided him out of the room. "Why don't you go on to Simon's office? They want you in there." Blair nodded and left.

As soon as the anthropologist left, the big man turned back to the officer who had harassed Blair. In a low and menacing voice, Joel said, "If I ever catch you like that or even hear that you've done something to him, I will personally put you in a room with a live bomb and no protection. Do I make myself clear?"

The man looked visibly disturbed by the threat and left. Taggert then went about cleaning the mess.


As soon as Blair made in back to Jim's desk, he was called into Simon's office. He entered the captain's office and closed the door. Simon continued talking as Blair closed the door. "Seattle sent their detective to assist us with this one."

Blair walked to Jim's side and hear the door open again.

"Here he is..." said Simon. "This is Detective Trent Markham."

Blair turned to greet the detective from Spokane and froze. It was the man from the coffee room. Blair recovered quickly and nodded towards the detective, then moved a little closer to Jim and sat down.

Jim glanced at his partner as Blair moved closer. He started to wonder what caused the sudden movement when Simon continued.

"OK, Detective Markham, this is Detective Jim Ellison." said Simon.

They shook hands. Simon continued the introductions, "This is Blair Sandburg. He's a consultant to the department."

Markham raised his hands in protest. "Whoa! Hold on here! I'm not working with a civilian," he protested and scrutinized Blair. "Especially not one who looks like a hippie wannabe."

Blair moved even closer to Jim until he was completely behind the detective, which triggered his protective instinct.

But before Jim could respond, Simon stood up and glared at the visiting detective. "Now just one minute!" he growled. "This is not Seattle Police Department. You are under *my* jurisdiction and we do things different here. Sandburg is part of this department, and whether or not he has a badge, you treat him with the same respect you treat any other officer. Do I make myself clear?"

Markham just glared and said nothing.

"Good. Now everyone sit down and lets' get this meeting over with." Everyone complied. Blair pulled out a chair and sat meekly beside Jim, looking like a beaten puppy. Simon continued, handing Jim and Blair each a folder with the information of the bombings. "Markham, you already know the deal. Ellison...Sandburg, Markham here is gonna help us out with a case of terrorist bombings that have been recently occurring along the Northwest. Seattle and several cities have had a string of these bombings. No notes, no one claiming the actions. Markham has been following these terrorists from some time and still haven't come up with anything solid. The Seattle Police Department believes their headed this way. We know it's a terrorist organization at work here. The mayor wants you guys personally to handle this. We don't need any nuts running around Cascade blowing things up!"

The captain then turned to the Seattle detective. "OK, Trent, why don't you go to your hotel and we'll meet back here in a couple of hours. I know you need the rest." said Simon. "Ellison has some other things to finish up and go over the files."

"Yes, sir." said Markham. As he started to leave, he passed by Blair, who had looked up to see him leave. *I'll see you later* he mouthed at the young man, then left.


Blair's eyes had still been glued to the man as he left the Major Crimes bullpen, when Simon's voice brought him back. Blair jumped, dropping the folder. Bending down to pick up the scattered papers, he looked up at Simon. "Uh, yes, sir?"

Simon sighed and sat down. In a softer voice, he said, "Are you alright with this, Blair?"

Blair was confused at the statement. *Did he mean the case?* "Uh, what? Yes, sir, I'm fine with it." he said, sitting back down next to Jim.

"OK. Then listen up. Everything I'm about to tell you stays in this room until it's over. Is that clear?"

Jim and Blair nod. Simon sighed and said, "Detective Trent Markham has been sent here because the Seattle Police believe him to be the bomber."

"WHAT??!" said both Jim and Blair, incredulously.

Simon explained. "Each town the man goes to suddenly is hit with the bombings until he leaves. So they put two and two together and..."

"So you want us to nail this guy," commented Jim.

Simon nodded. "They started an IA investigation, but he skipped town to here. I don't want Cascade blown off the map."

Jim nodded and they both stood to leave. Blair headed for the door first. Jim put a hand on Blair's shoulder and felt him wince a little but he didn't flinch. Jim noticed, but dismissed it quickly as they left the bullpen for the elevator and headed towards the truck.


"Want to tell me what that was all about back there?" Jim asked as they drove home. He had noticed Blair's reaction to Trent Markham and wanted to know what caused it.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Blair lied, and kept looking out the window. He didn't want to bother Jim with his petty anxieties about a possible one-time incident. Besides, Jim had to nail this guy on this case and he *certainly* didn't want to cause any trouble before Jim could stop Markham in a legal manner. He didn't want Jim to blow this because of what this guy did to him.

But Jim didn't buy it. "You know perfectly well what I mean. What was that between you and Markham? I saw you flinch when Simon introduced him. What's going on?"

"Nothing." came the quiet answer. Jim took a quick glance at his partner. He had learned quickly how to read Blair's body language and right now it was telling him not pursue the matter. Right now he would let it drop, but he would find out.

They went to Markham's hotel and staked it out. Jim opened his hearing to listen to what was going on inside Markham's hotel room, but heard nothing out of the ordinary. A couple of hours later, the Seattle detective left and headed back to the station.


When they got back to the station, they met with Trent in a room and went over a few things concerning the bombings. What were the targets, and were there any connections to the targets? After four hours of deliberating, Jim stretched and said, "All right, guys, let's call it a day and start fresh in the morning, bright and early."

Markham nodded. "Sounds fine. I'm kinda tired after the long drive this morning."

"How bout we all grab a bite to eat?" offered Jim. He wanted to keep an eye on this guy and what better way than to have dinner with him. He ignored Blair's incredulous look, but couldn't ignore the fact that his partner's heart rate increased a beat or two.

"Sure," said Markham.

"Good. I've gotta see Simon a minute and then I'll meet you by the elevator." said Jim as he and Blair started to leave.

Once they departed, Blair stopped and said, "Hey, man, I'm gonna go wash up and meet you at the elevator, ok?"

"OK, Chief." said Jim and he went on to Simon's office.

No one noticed Trent watching them from the room's window. As they went their separate ways, Trent slipped out and followed Blair to the restroom.



Blair, who was washing his hands, didn't see Trent come in and lock the door. When he looked in the mirror, however, his heart skipped a beat. Markham was standing right behind him.

"Hi, pretty boy. I told you I'd see you later." Markham taunted.

"Man! What is your problem?" asked Blair, still trying to figure it all out.

Markham poked Blair in the chest and gave him a disgusted look. "You, you little twerp. You spilled coffee on me."

Blair threw up his hands in surrender. "Hey, man, that was an accident." He backed up until he met the wall.

"Well," said Markham. "Now I've got a little accident' for you right here." With that, Trent drew back and punched the young man in the stomach as hard as he could. The punch doubled him over. But before he could catch his breath long enough to straighten, Markham grabbed the young man by his shoulders and brought his knee up quickly, catching Blair again in the stomach. Blair fell to the floor, gasping for air.

Trent knelt down next to him and grabbed a fistful of the young man's hair, forcing Blair to look into the detective's cold eyes as Trent whispered in his ear. "Later, little buddy. And, oh yeah, it would be wise if you didn't say a word about this to Ellison or who knows what will happen next time....maybe another accident concerning Cascade's best detective." With that, Trent released him and, unlocking the door, he left, leaving Blair on the floor clutching his stomach.

Trent made his way to the elevator just as Jim got there. "Hey, Ellison. I forgot I've got an appointment with a buddy I promised I would contact if ever I was in town." He smiled casually. "You know how it is. Sorry, man. I'll catch you later, ok?" The elevator dinged and the doors opened and Markham got on.

Jim knew he was lying even though the man's heart rate never changed. "Sure, Trent. Maybe next time." he said as the doors started to close. Jim had already arranged with Simon for someone else to follow him for the night.

As he waited for Blair, Jim heard Simon come walking up. "Jim, you still here?" asked the captain, smiling.

"Yeah. Waiting for Blair to get his butt out here." said Jim jokingly. "I'm hungry."


Blair laid on the floor of the restroom, trying to get his breathing under control. After a few minutes, he succeeded in getting it under control enough to try to rise. He grabbed a hold of the sink with on hand and, with the other arm wrapped around his stomach, he started to slowly pull himself to his feet. The task was easier said than done. When he tried to pull himself up, his stomach protested, forcing him to sit back down. *Great. Jim's gonna kill me for being late. How am I gonna get off the floor?*

He was trying again when the door opened. His heart jumped in his throat. Surely Markham wouldn't be coming back for more...? But instead of the visiting detective, a couple of Cascade's own officers entered, preparing for the night shift. Blair let out a breath of relief at the officers who were now approaching him. One of the officers caught him as his hand slipped on the sink as the other officer popped back out the door and fled down the hall.


Jim and Simon were still joking by the elevator, when an officer quickly popped out of the restroom. "CAPTAIN!" the officer yelled. "Come quick! We've got a man down." The captain and Jim looked at each other and quickly rushed to the restroom.

Once they got there, they were greeted with Blair being assisted off the floor by another officer. "Sandburg!" exclaimed Jim as he quickly approached the anthropologist. "What happened? You all right?"

Blair was standing there, with the assistance of the officer who had helped him up, and holding an arm protectively over his stomach. "I'm fine, Jim." said Blair, tiredly. "Just winded, that's all."

"Sir, we found him on the floor." explained the officer who assisted the anthropologist.

"It's nothing, Jim. I'm fine, really." Blair said. He looked at Jim. "Can we go home now? I'm tired." Blair's eyes pleaded with the Sentinel.

Jim knew better than to press the issue. "Ok, Chief." He thanked the officers who had helped, who nodded and left.

Simon approached them after the officers left and said, "Sandburg, maybe you should let Jim take you to the hospital and have them check you out to make sure."

Blair shook his head. "No, no, I'm fine, really. I just slipped on a wet spot and hit the sink. I'm fine."

"Do you mind if I make sure?" asked Jim, indicating his fingers.

Blair knew better that to protest that and lifted his shirt. Jim ran his hand over Blair's side and stomach. He paused over the stomach area, feeling the bruise markings of that made by a fist there.

"Finished?" asked Blair.

Jim nodded and Blair lowered his shirt. "Nothing's broken."

Simon nodded. "Ok, Jim. Take him home and get some rest. Come morning, I want you guys to get to work on this case."

Blair started to walk out the door with Jim, when Simon called him back. "Jim, hold up a second."

Jim turned to Blair and said, "Go ahead. I'll be right there. Can you make it to the elevator?"

Blair nodded and walked slowly down the hall.

As Jim watched him head towards the elevator, Simon reached his side and asked, "Jim, what's wrong with Sandburg? I mean, besides the obvious things." That last remark was meant to be a joke, but Jim didn't acknowledge it.

"I don't know, sir." Jim replied. Turning to his captain, he continued, "He's been acting strange since this morning." The detective shook his head. "He was fine when we left home this morning..."

"You don't believe he hit the sink, do you?"

"No, I don't. The tenderness I felt there are consistent with a beating." Jim admitted. "Someone punched him."

"What??!!" said Simon, incredulously.

Jim waved him to lower his voice. "Shh. He'll hear you."

Simon looked at Jim. "Why wouldn't he say anything? Even to you?" The captain shook his head. "I don't understand."

"I don't know." replied Jim. "I think he may afraid to tell. If it's someone in the department..."

Simon interrupted him. "Do you *know* what you're saying?!" he said in a harsh whisper.

Jim nodded reluctantly.

"Well, you make sure. Make the kid talk and find out who did this. Then I'll deal with it. I will not tolerate harassment of my people in any way."

Jim smiled inwardly at Simon's inclusion of Blair as part of the department. But he knew better than to force Blair into confessing anything. "Come on, sir. If Blair was gonna tell, don't you think he would've told by now?" He paused. "We'll just have to wait for him to tell us." Looking once again at his partner down the hall, he added. "He's got to decide for himself. Neither you nor I can make him tell us."

"Yeah, but I still don't like it." the captain grumbled.

"Neither do I," said Jim quietly, clenching his jaw. "Neither do I." Then they walked together to the elevator, where Blair was still waiting for them.


The rest of the ride home and all the way up to the loft was quiet. When they entered the loft, Jim decided to lighten the atmosphere. "So, Chief. What tests do you have planned for me to do?" He knew that discussions about his Sentinel abilities always had the tendency to cheer up the anthropologist. Jim was rewarded with that smile he wanted to see, that excitement that he always saw in the young man when it came to Jim's Sentinel senses. He reached into the fridge and grabbed two beers, handing one to Blair.

"You mean it?!" Blair couldn't believe his ears. He had had to practically beg last night to drag Jim into the lab this weekend for some tests. Things were looking up. He accepted the offered beer and started to go back for his backpack, which sat near the door. When he bent down to pick it up, he winced in pain.

Jim heard him and asked, concerned. "You sure you're alright?"

Blair picked up the pack and headed for the living room. "Yeah, Jim, just smarts a little," he said smiling. "Are you sure you want to do this?"

"Of course I'm sure!" said Jim with a smile and playfully smacked Blair on the back of the head, barely touching him. But instead of the energetic smile that had usually returned to his face, Jim was rewarded with another reply.

"OW!" cried Blair, holding his head.

"I'm sorry, Chief. I didn't think I hit you that hard." Jim said with a worried look, knowing he hadn't hit Blair that hard. "Are you alright?" he asked with concern.

"Yeah," Blair replied. "Must've bumped it." He smiled, dropping his backpack beside the coffee table.

"Yeah, well, I hope these tests of yours aren't too weird, eh, Chief?" Jim grinned, sitting on the couch and flipped on the TV.

"No, no, nothing like that," Blair said as he sat down on the other couch. "I think I can get the lab next weekend. We can do it the, ok?" Jim nodded. Blair smiled and pulled his notes out of his backpack. "Oh man...." he trailed off in his excitement. Jim smiled at the excitement of his boisterous partner. It always amazed him how much energy was barely contained in this man he called his partner. Leaving Blair to his thoughts and notes, Jim sat back and watched the news.

Several hours later, Blair put down his notes and pen and rubbed his temples. Jim had gone to bed an hour ago. *Enough, Sandburg.* he thought to himself. His head was pounding. That reminded him of Markham. *Talk about anal.* He got up and stretched. He back felt bruised, no doubt from being slammed against the wall. Blair walked slowly to the bathroom and got ready for bed. He grabbed two aspirin for his headache and went to the kitchen for water.

*Maybe sleep will help.* he thought and went to bed.


Jim watched with slight amusement at his partner's motions as he moved around stiffly. "Gotta do something about stayin' up so late, Chief." he grinned. Blair glared at him and accepted the coffee. Jim just smiled.

"What are we doing today?" Blair asked.

"We have to meet Trent at 8:00am at the office. I want to get some background info and see what that brings."

Blair nodded.

Jim went to the fridge to get something out for breakfast when his cell phone rang. He picked it up. "Ellison." He listened for a few moments. "Alright sir. We're on our way!" He hung up the phone.

Blair was already up getting his jacket. "What's up?"

"Simon got a call saying there was a bomb in a downtown store. The building is empty. The owners are out of town, but they're checking it anyway to be safe." said Jim, taking his jacket from Blair and they left the loft quickly. Blair was right behind him and Jim noticed that the excitement had seem to inspire Blair's momentum some.

As they got in the truck, Blair said, "But I thought this guy never called before with the location of the bomb."

Jim shrugged. "Guess he's changed his plans." And the drove off.


When they pulled up a few minutes later, they saw Taggert already working. The area was sealed off and Taggert's team was busy trying to locate the bomb. He had sent in some of his men and he was waiting for them to report when Jim and Blair walked over to him.

"Hi guys." he said to them as they joined him.


"Hi, Taggert. Got anything yet?" asked Jim.

"No, nothing. This guy called the department and apparently had his voice disguised and said he hide the bomb somewhere in the building." He looked at his watch. "It's set to go off in 5 minutes now!" Taggert then said into his mike. "OK everyone out of there! Move it now! No, there's no time to defuse it! Move it!!!!"

The men started running from the building. The last one out tripped and fell. Jim and Blair each ran to him, grabbed him under the arms and lifted him to his feet and started to run for cover. They were halfway there when the building exploded, sending them flying to the ground.

Simon had arrived in time to see the building explode and the three men thrown to the ground. As soon as debris stopped falling around them, Simon quickly got out of the car and ran to them along with Taggert and others.

"ELLISON, SANDBURG, JACKSON! Are you guys all right?" yelled Taggert as they all reached them.

Jim got up first, along with Jackson. "Yeah, I'm alright...Jackson?" asked Jim, helping the bomb squad officer.

"Yes, sir, I'm alright.''

Taggert had reached Blair first. "Sandburg, are you all right?" he asked as Blair started to get up.

"Uh? What? Oh yeah, I'm alright." said Blair as Taggert helped him to his feet.

"Whoa there, man," said Taggert, steading Blair as he wobbled a little. "Steady, come on let's get you checked out. You've got a pretty nasty cut on your hand there."

Blair nodded and walked over and sat on one of the police cars hoods.


Taggert waved over one of the EMTs who were there in case something happened. One of the EMTs rushed over with a bag and started working on Blair's hand. "Oh, by the way, has everything been alright?" asked the bomb squad captain.

"Yeah, no problems. Thanks." said Blair.

Taggert grinned at Blair and then walked over to join Simon and Jim,.

"How's the kid?" asked Simon.

"He's fine, shaken and a cut on his hand, but he's alright. How about you guys? You all right?"

"Yeah, Joel, we're fine." said Jim.

"Good." he said, patting Jim's shoulder. Then he walked over with his men and went into the building to start there investigation.

Jim told Simon he'd meet back up with him at the station and they walked over to Blair, as the EMT was finishing with Blair's hand.

"OK buddy, all done. Just keep it dry for a couple of days and then have your doctor check it out, especially if it keeps hurting."

"Ok thanks."

As the EMT was closing up his bag and walked off, Jim walked over and said "Hey Chief. You sure you're all right?"

Blair got off the car. "Yeah, I'm fine. What happened anyway?"


"They said it was a triggering device of some kind. It seems that they triggered it when they went into the room were it was. The timer downed it to five minutes...just enough time for everyone to get out." said Jim as they walked toward the truck.

He watched Blair flex his hand as they got into the truck. "Come on, let's go. We have to meet Trent at the station in a few minutes."

When they got into the truck Jim's cell phone rang. Pulling it out and flipping it on, he said, "Ellison.......yeah, hi, Trent......Yeah, we're fine. Sandburg got a cut on his hand but we're fine.....yeah, triggering device....... No, no other injuries except Blair's hand.....no, it's not serious.....yeah, we're headed there to meet up with you....... Ok, see you there." He hung up the phone. He glanced at Blair again and called another number. "Swenson? It's Ellison. Where's Trent?" he listened for a minute then said "OK. Go on home, guys. Thanks." As he put the phone back in his pocket, Jim said "They think he's still at the hotel. He must of gave them the slip because he's at the station waiting on us."

"What else is wrong, Jim? I can see it on your face."

"I'm not sure just yet, Chief." Jim frowned. "But that whole conversation was off. It was like he was disappointed that no one got hurt except your hand. Like he wanted someone to get hurt bad. I don't know... this is weird." They then headed for the station.



Once up in the office, Blair sat at Jim's desk. While Jim talked with Trent in Simon's office, one of the officers from last night came up to him.

"Hi, Blair."

Blair looked up from the folder Jim wanted him to go over. "Oh hi Steve."

"How's your stomach?"

"Better. Thanks. And thanks for helping me last night, man."

"Hey, no problem, Blair. Just be careful next time, ok?"

"OK, I will. Thanks again." and then Steve left. Soon Jim, Simon and Trent came out of the office. As Jim reached his desk where Blair was sitting, Blair watched Trent head for the elevator. "Where's Markham going?" he asked.

Jim glanced up to see Markham entering the elevator. "He's gonna take care of a few leads he's found."

Blair looked at the detective. "And we're not gonna follow him??" He had thought that was the point of working with the man.

"No need." replied Jim. "Already have a couple of officers assigned to tail him." Then he walked over to the coatrack and handing Blair his jacket, he said, "Come on, Chief. We've got a few leads of our own to follow up on."


Jim and Blair spent most of the day following leads on where the explosives would have come from. The leads had come up with turned up with something...not much, but something.

"Where d'ya wanna go for dinner?" Jim asked as he and Blair headed towards the truck.

Blair shrugged. "How 'bout Thai?" he offered as they crossed to the parking garage.

Jim agreed. "OK. Thai." He was about to go further when he heard an engine roar. He turned and saw a vehicle heading straight for them. The Sentinel didn't hesitate as he pushed his partner out of the way, protecting him with his own body. As the car passed, Jim jumped up to try and get a glimpse of the driver or license plate. He got half a plate -- 7DE. He turned to see if Blair was alright. His heart skipped a beat when he saw that the young man hadn't moved from where Jim had pushed him. *Oh no. Please...* Jim thought as he rushed to his friend's side.

The Sentinel dropped to his knees beside his unconscious Guide. He gently brushed the hair from the young man's face. "Blair?"

No response.

Jim's heart rate increased as he proceeded to assess his partner's injuries with his Sentinel touch. No bones broken, a few bruises. Probably from being pushed to the ground. Finding no injuries on his partner's body, Jim started to check Blair's head when he heard a groan. Blair was coming around.

"Easy, Chief," he said gently. "Easy."

Blair groaned and struggled to rise. "What happened?" he asked. His head was pounding. There was a restraining hand trying to prevent his sitting up. "Jim?"

"It's all right, Chief," Jim soothed. "Are you okay?"

Blair nodded, then winced as his head protested the motion. "Yeah," he said. "Lemme up."

Jim gently helped Blair to a sitting position.

Blair raised a hand to his head and moaned.

"What is it?" Jim asked, concerned. "What's wrong?"

"My head..." moaned the young man. "I've got a massive headache."

Jim ran a hand over Blair's head and found an enormous lump on the back of it. Blair hissed and tried to wave off the hand. "Ow."

"Sorry," Jim apologized. "How's your vision?"

"OK, I guess," replied Blair. He looked at the detective. Actually, his vision was fuzzing, but he hoped it would clear soon.

Jim helped Blair to his feet. "Come on, Chief. "I'm taking you to the hospital to get you checked out, okay?" said the detective as he led his partner to the truck.

*Hospital?* Blair stopped. Hospital would mean checkup....that would mean they would find out about the bruises and would tell Jim.... "No," he said softly.

"What?" asked Jim, looking at the young man.

"No hospital," protested Blair. "I'm fine. I just wanna go home." He put on his best puppy dog look and gazed at Jim. "Please?"

Jim sighed. He always had problems resisting that look. "You sure?" he asked.

Blair nodded, then winced again when his head protested the movement. "Ow. Yeah," he said. "Nothing two aspirin won't cure." He grinned.

"OK," the detective said reluctantly.

Blair didn't protest when Jim assisted him into the truck. He had lied to Jim. He didn't feel fine at all. His head was pounding and he felt sore everywhere. He hoped that aspiring and some sleep would do the trick. His vision was also fuzzing badly. He hoped that, too, would go away soon.

Jim pulled out his cellphone and dialed the station. "Serena?" he said. "I need a run on a partial plate....7DE. Thanks." And he hung up. The rest of the ride home was spent in silence. Jim was worried about Blair. The medic part of him screamed that he take Blair to the hospital, but Sandburg was insistent about not going to the hospital. So he had conceded...no hospital.


When they entered the loft, Jim offered to fix some lunch from the leftovers. But Blair declined. "I just wanna lay down for a little while." And he headed to his room. Jim shrugged. "OK, Chief. Give me a yell if you need anything."


Blair had taken two aspirin and went to bed. But sleep was anything but restful. When he awoke, the sun was setting and the twilight started peeking through his window. His headache hadn't abated and he raised a hand to his head. Where was he? Blair looked around and saw a fuzzy view of what looked like a bedroom. His?

Blair slowly rose to his feet and stumbled out of the room. Someone was sitting in the living room. That someone had turned around and was now looking at him.


Blair squinted at the person, wishing his vision would clear. "Jim?" he asked, hoping that's who this was. His head was pounding. He fell to his knees. Everything was moving in slow motion and he had a hard time focusing on the figure that was rushing towards him. Maybe if he slept some more....

Jim had been watching TV when Blair finally came out of his room. But when he looked at him, the detective instantly knew there was something wrong. He got up and started heading towards the young man when Blair fell to his knees. Panic nearly took him as he rushed to his partner's side. "Sandburg?" he asked, concerned.

The anthropologist looked at him, dazed. He wasn't focussing on anything.

"Blair? Are you alright, Chief?"

The young man looked around, dazed. "Where am I?"

Jim's concern grew and he frowned. "You're at the loft, Blair. Remember?"

"My head hurts...." his partner groaned. Then he started to lean over, trying to go back to sleep.

Jim pulled him back to a sitting position. "Sorry, Chief." He recognized the signs of a concussion and knew that victims of concussions shouldn't sleep. But then he remembered that Blair had already slept a little and Jim felt guilt sweep over him. *Got to get him to the hospital.* he thought. Jim pulled Blair to his feet and started helping him towards the door.

The upward movement caused a wave of nausea to sweep of the young man and he groaned. "Oh man! I think I'm gonna be sick..."

Jim rushed Blair to the bathroom just in time. Blair gave up what he had for breakfast while Jim supported his body and held back his hair. *This is not good at all.* thought Jim. After cleaning him up, Jim half-carried, half-walked his partner out the door and to the truck.

"Stay awake for me, ok, Chief?" he said as he eased Blair into the truck.

Blair tried to focus on the detective. "Ok," he said. Then he giggled.

Jim gave him a look of concern. "What's funny, Chief?" he asked as he fastened in his partner.

Blair giggled again. "We should've timed that. That was fast. Did we fly?" Then he started to lose focus again and started to stare out the windshield.

Jim closed the passenger door, raced around to the driver's side, and hopped in. Gunning the engine, he pulled out into traffic, flipping on his lights for faster travel, and headed for the hospital, all the while trying to keep Blair conscious and somewhat aware of his surroundings.

"All right, Chief, enough of this. You're gonna go to the hospital this time and no arguments. That's a pretty nasty lump on your head. I want it check out...not to mention you lost consciousness there for a few minutes," said Jim. On the way to the hospital, his cell phone rang. Pulling it out and flipping it on, he answered it. "Ellison. Yeah, Simon...you got the results of that trace?" He listened for a bet and frowned. "Thanks, sir," he said and glanced over at his partner. Blair was trying to sleep again. The detective quickly put down the phone and reached over to jostle the young man's arm. "Come on, Sandburg." he urged. "Stay awake for me."

Blair blinked and looked dazedly at him. "OK," he said.

Satisfied that the anthropologist was still with him, Jim picked up the discarded phone. "Simon? Yeah....Sir, can I call you later?" he asked. "I'm taking Blair to the hospital...I'll tell you more later...Thanks." And he hung up. Glancing quickly at his partner, he asked, "Still with me, Chief?"

"Yeah," replied Blair softly. Jim could tell that he was aware....barely.

Jim drove up to the ER entrance and hopped out. "Nurse!" he called out. "I need some help here!" He turned to help Blair out of the truck.

"Where are we?" asked Blair as the nurse came up to them with a wheelchair.

"At the hospital," replied the detective. "Stay with me, ok?"

The doctor came and Jim told her about the concussion. "Has he lost consciousness at any time?" she asked.

Jim felt the guilt wash over him as he answered. "Yes....but not for too long...maybe a few minutes."

Looking at Blair, she asked. "What is your name?"

Blair blinked and looked at her. "Blair Sandburg." he answered.

"Do you know where you are, Mr. Sandburg?"

Blair thought for a moment. "Ummm....hospital?" offered Blair. "My head hurts."

"OK, we'll take care of that," said the doctor, with a smile. Then she motioned Jim to stay in the waiting room as they disappeared through the exam doors.

Jim reluctantly went to the front desk to fill out the paperwork and then sat in the waiting room and waited for his partner.


Jim had called Simon and filled him in on everything that had happened and why he had abruptly hung up on him earlier. Simon had told Jim to inform him on the results of the hospital visit and to check in later. Jim said he would and hung up.

He had been sitting there for what seemed like hours when the doctor finally returned. Jim stood up to greet her, but instead was greeted instead with a fuming doctor.

The doctor stormed to Jim and poked a finger into his chest. She was fuming. "How dare you!"

Jim looked at her, confused. "What? What's wrong? Is he all right?"

She poked him in the chest, continuing her tirade. "Just because you're bigger and stronger..."

Jim held up his hands in surrender. "Whoa, whoa! Back up here," he said. "Do you mind telling me what's wrong?"

She backed off a little and crossed her arms, indignant. "Do you mean to stand there and tell me you're innocent?"

"Innocent of what? Is Blair going to be alright?"

She looked at his eyes and saw nothing but concern. She relaxed. "I'm sorry, Detective Ellison," she apologized. "I'm sorry. I should never jump the gun like that." Then introduced herself. "I'm Dr. Robin Summers. I examined Blair and when I see abuse cases...It just makes me go on a rampage sometimes."

"Wait, wait," Jim said, trying to understand. "Abuse?" He couldn't fathom it. "All I did was knock him out of the path of an oncoming car. Tell me what's going on." Jim was getting worried.

"Come with me, please." she said. The doctor led him down the corridor to the exam room where Blair was still sitting. He looked at them, a look of confusion and embarrassment on his face. "No, don't," he pleaded quietly. "Don't let him see." Jim looked concerned and puzzled.

"Don't let me see what?" he asked, looking at the doctor, then at Blair.

"I'm sorry, Mr. Sandburg," she apologized. "But he must see them. I have to report this. And since your friend here is a police officer, I figure he's the closest thing right now." She led Jim to stand with her, behind the anthropologist. "You've telling me you didn't do this." She lifted the back flap of Sandburg's gown, revealing a mottle of bruises spanning different areas of his back. Some of the bruises were old with new ones barely over them.

Jim stood, shocked at the sight. "Oh my..." He noticed Blair hunched over at the intake of breath and circled to face him. "Why didn't you tell me?" he asked softly, placing a hand on his partner's shoulder.

Blair flinched at the touch and continued to look at the floor.

Jim looked at the doctor.

"You can put your shirt back on, Mr. Sandburg," she said quietly.

Blair nodded and got off the table.

While he did so, she pulled Jim to the side. "I was just doing the basic check up," she explained. "When I put the stethoscope to his back, he flinched like he was in pain. That's when I saw the bruising. Someone has been slamming him into something...a wall perhaps. It seems that way at least, and it would explain the consistency with the head injury. I also noticed the bruises on his midsection, as if someone punched him hard." She pulled out a notepad and scribbled something down and handed it to Jim. "Here is some liniment for his back and aspirin for the headache. He will be sore for a while." She paused. "I'm sorry I accused you, Detective Ellison. Please find the one who did this. And," she added, "take care of him."

"You have my promise," Jim replied.

When they returned to where they left Blair, he was dressed and ready to go. Before they left, she handed them her card. "If your headache doesn't go away after a day or two, or you start experiencing memory lapses or anything out of the ordinary, give me a call," She told Blair. He reiterated it with a look to Jim.

They both nodded. "Thanks, Doc," said Jim.

She smiled and nodded.


The ride home was quiet. The silence didn't change once they got home, either. When they got home, Blair went straight for his room and closed the door.

Jim sighed. He took a step towards Sandburg's room, then stopped himself. What was he going to say? He had to be careful about his tone. His friend had been abused. He was hurting mentally, as well as physically. If Jim approached him with the wrong tone of voice, nothing would be solved and both would be hurt more. And right now, he was feeling very angry at whoever had done this. Both of them needed a little time. *I'll talk to him in a little bit.* Jim decided.

Ten minutes and a knock later, Blair's door opened slowly and Jim cautiously looked in. Blair was curled up on the bed, hugging a pillow and looking out the window. When Blair didn't move,

Jim entered, softly crossing the room to the bed and sat down on the edge. He looked out to see what Blair was seeing out the window. It was raining, so not much could be seen.

"What do you want for dinner tonight?" Jim asked. He decided to breach the subject cautiously, starting with something else. "Your choice."

Blair just shrugged and continued to look out the window.

Jim watched his friend for a few moments before saying gently, "Want to talk?"

Silence. Blair continued to stare out the window.

Jim's temper was rising, both at the silence and the abuse, but kept it in check. "Y'know if you keep silent about this, he wins." Blair flinched at the words. The words came out a little harsher than he had intended. Jim laid a hand on his friend's knee. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "I didn't mean it like it sounded."


"Well, let me know if you need anything, OK?"

Again silence.

Jim got up and started to leave.


"Don't go."

Jim turned. "What?"

Blair continued to look out the window. "Don't go," he repeated quietly.

Jim sat back down and laid a hand on Blair's arm. "I'm not going anywhere," he said softly. "I'm right here if you need me."

After a few moments, Jim spoke again. "Blair, whenever you're ready to talk about this, you know I'll listen." He kept his voice calm and quiet so as not to upset his friend.

Blair dropped his gaze to the pillow he was clutching and picked at a particular piece of fuzz he had found. "I know, Jim, but right now I can't. So much depends on me being quiet for now, okay?" he said quietly.

*What was so important that Blair had felt that keeping silent about this would help?* Jim thought. He sighed. "Ok, Chief, but you're gonna have to tell me eventually."

Blair didn't respond. He just lifted his head and returned his gaze to the window.

Together they sat, in silence, watching the rain from the window.


The next day, Jim and Blair arrived to continue the case. Jim was pleased to see Blair a little more his usual self after last night. Jim had stayed with the young man until he had gone to sleep.

The detective racked his brain, trying to find out who had done this to his partner. He knew there were still some in the department who disapproved of Blair as his partner. But he didn't think it was someone of this department because he would've picked up something like this earlier. The only other answer was....

Simon poked his head out of his office and called them in, interrupting Jim's thoughts.

"Yeah, Simon?" he asked as they entered. He noticed that the blinds were drawn.

Simon took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose, then sighed. "Sandburg, come over here," he said. Blair looked at Jim and Jim shrugged his shoulders.

"What's going on?" asked Jim, curious.

"I wanna see if what he said was true," the captain replied. Looking at Blair, he said, "Turn around."

Blair hesitated, but complied, shrugging at Jim, who, when he saw Simon go for the back of the young man's shirt, realized what was happening. Blair realized it too as soon as Simon started to bring up his shirt, and started to resist.

Jim moved forward and laid a hand on Blair's arm. "Let him see," he said softly.

Blair looked at Jim and shook his head. "No, please," he pleaded, looking at the two taller men.

Simon looked at Jim and explained. "Dr. Summers called. She wanted to make sure that the report had been filed and apologized that she accused you, Jim."

Blair slumped his shoulders and lowered his gaze to the floor, defeated.

Simon took a deep intake of breath and dropped the shirt. Blair resituated his shirt and sat down on the couch, looking like a defeated child.

Simon sat at his desk and took a deep breath and said . "Blair, can you wait out side, please? I need to discuss this with Jim."

Blair looked at Simon, then Jim, puzzled, then nodded. He got up slowly and winced a little.

Jim reached for him, to assist his partner, but Blair held up a hand to wave him off and left the room. Jim watched him as Blair headed towards the detective's desk and sat down. Inside the office, Simon took of his glasses and pinched the bridge of his noise. "Alright, Jim what the hell is going on?"

"I don't know, sir. I didn't even now about the bruises until last night at the hospital." said Jim.

"What did the doctor say when she called you? I was gonna tell you first thing this morning but I guess she beat me to it."

"Nothing much. Just that she had checked Sandburg out at the emergency room last night and was notifying me of an abuse case...that she had discussed it with you after blaming you for it, and to make sure the kid was putting the ointment on his back." Simon's voice had an edge of frustration to it. "You care to elaborate on this?"

"Well, sir, from what she told me, he has been slammed against a wall and proved my theory of being punched in the stomach." Jim started pacing the office. "What I want to know is who is doing it."


Blair sat at Jim's desk, watching Simon's door and waiting for one of them to emerge. While he watched, Taggert came into the bull pen.

"Hi Blair!" he said as he approached the desk.

Blair looked up to see the bomb squad captain. "Oh hi, Joel. What's up?"

"Nothing much. What's going on in there?" he asked, nodding toward Simon's door.


"Beats me." he lied.

"Well, how about I find out?" said Taggert and, before Blair could protest, went to the door and walked in.

Blair just sank lower into the seat, a sense of dread coming upon him.


Simon and Jim looked up as Taggert entered the room. "Hi guys. What's going on? And why is Sandburg looking like someone kicked him?"

Simon silently indicated the large man to shut the door. "Hi Joel." he said and indicated the chair in front of him. "Have a seat. Maybe you can help us."

Taggert shrugged. "I'll try. what's up?"

"Sandburg." said Jim.

Joel shot him a look. "What about the kid?" he asked with concern.

Jim explained as best he could. "Well, it appears someone's been using him as a punching bag. His back's all bruised. He's been punched in the stomach and I ended up taking him to the hospital last night after someone tried to run us down. But he won't tell us who did it."

"What?! Is he ok?"

"Sorta, he's covered with bruises and has a mild concussion. And the doctor said he should be all right."


All of a sudden, Joel jumped to his feet. "That son of a Bitch!" said Taggert slamming his fist on Simon's desk, making Simon jump and Jim stand up.

"What's wrong, Joel? Do you know something we don't?" asked Jim.

The bomb squad captain eyed them carefully. "What did he tell you?" asked Taggert.

"That it could hurt the case." said Jim, getting anxious. He wanted answers, and he wanted to get his hands on the bastard who had done this.

Taggert sighed. "Well, since he won't tell you, I will." His anger flared at the memory of that morning in the coffee room. "I told that son of a bitch if I caught him harassing Sandburg again that I"d...."

"JOEL!" interrupted Simon. Neither man had seen Taggert so inflamed so before.

Joel had fire in his eyes, then calmed down. "Sorry." he apologized. "I'm talking about that new guy, Trent Markham. The first day he was here, Blair accidentally spilled coffee on him and Markham slammed him against the wall. I happened to walk in and stopped him before he hit Blair. I bet that bastard is still harassing the kid."

Simon could already see the fury in Jim's face as Taggert spoke. Raising his hands, he said, "Easy Jim, I'll deal with him." said Simon, picking up the phone.


Blair still sat at the desk, wishing Jim would come out. About that time, Trent came in. Blair sat a little straighter and looked anxiously around the bullpen. There wasn't anyone there but maybe one or two officers who were coming and going. Blair was the only one there.

Trent walked right up to the desk and sat down on the corner. "Hello Pretty Boy," he sneered. Where's everyone? I really like your earring." Trent snatched the folder out of Blair's hand. "Uh excuse me, but that's *police* business. And oh yeah, I'm real sorry i missed you last night." He smirked.

Blair's heart started racing. *Oh man.*


Jim picked up Blair's heartbeat and focused his hearing on it. It was racing. He heard Trent's voice and the conversation didn't sound good. He stood quickly and looked out the blinds towards the direction of his desk. "Simon, Trent's out there with Sandburg."

Simon got up and went to the door and opened it. "Markham get your butt in here now!" he yelled and went back to his desk. Jim watched with clenched jaw as Trent left Blair and went into the office. Taggert shut the door behind him.

"Yes, sir?" said Trent, real arrogant.

"As of right now you're on suspension from here and Seattle. I haven't been able to get hold of anyone up there as of this time. But my report is being sent to your captain up there recommending for suspension from the department." said Simon.

"WHAT? WHY?" Markham's arrogant smile vanished, to Simon's satisfaction, and was replaced with a look of astonished puzzlement.

Jim took a menacing step forward. *How dare he come off that smug?* But Simon restrained the Sentinel, himself fuming. "If I ever hear of you harassing another one of my officers or anyone else involved with this department, I'll have your head! Now hand over your gun and shield and get your butt out of my office and out of my police station!"

Trent pulled out his gun and shield and placed them on the desk. "Don't I get a chance to defend myself?" demanded Trent.

Taggert stepped forward. "Like the one you gave Sandburg?" he growled.

"Are you gonna stand there and tell me that you're not harassing anyone on staff here??" asked Simon.

"This is not right!" protested Markham.

"OH but it is!" snapped Jim, his ice cold stare holding steady with Trent's. He took pleasure when Markham flinched under the Sentinel's scrutinizing glare.

"Jim! I'll handle this." said Simon. Looking back at Markham, he said, "Get out of my face right now and don't let me hear of this happening again. Am I understood?"

Trent didn't answer Simon, but turned and went out the door, slamming it shut behind him.

With a nod from the captain, Jim followed, fearing that he knew where Trent's next destination was going to be.


Blair was returning from getting a cup of coffee when Trent came storming out of Simon's office. Then he saw the Seattle detective heading in his direction, with hate in his eyes. *Oh man.* he thought and quickly put the coffee mug down and started retreating. "I didn't tell," he stammered. "Honest."

Trent marched over to Blair, grabbed him by the collar and slammed him into the wall, knocking the air out of him. "You little punk! You told! I told you what would happen if you told them, didn't I?"

"No man, i never said a word!"

About that time Jim showed up. "MARKHAM! THAT'S ENOUGH!" yelled Jim and started toward Trent.

Trent spun around to face the detective, while still maintaining his hold of the young anthropologist. Wrapping an arm around Blair's neck, he threatened. "Make one move and I'll snap his neck."

Jim backed off slightly. "Come on, Markham. Calm down. We can talk about this." he said. "Just let him go."

Trent moved towards the elevator, dragging Blair with him. "Yeah, well, I think there's been entirely way too much talking already." The elevator doors opened and Markham stepped in with Blair. As the doors started to close, Markham said, "You want him? Here, you can have him." And with that, Trent flung Blair toward Jim.

Blair gave a cry and a grunt sound as he collided with Jim, who caught him. Blair then sank to his knees, gasping for air, taking the detective with him.

When Simon and Taggert arrived, they found Blair coughing on the floor with Jim kneeling beside him calmly coaxing the young man to take slow deep breaths.

"Sandburg, are you all right?" asked Simon.

Blair laid his hand on Jim's shoulder and nodded. Tears were streaming down his face from the coughing. "Yeah," he said hoarsely. "I think so...help me up." Jim helped him to his feet and sat him in a nearby chair, keeping a steady hand on his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, kid." said Simon. "I had no idea he'd do anything here in the department." Looking at Jim, he added, "I sent some officers after him to see if they could catch him."

Blair just nodded and, placing his elbows on his knees, he rested his head in his hands, trying to calm down his still racing heart.

Joel left and returned with a cup of water. He handed it to Jim, who squatted down next to his partner. "Here, Chief," he said soothingly. "Drink this."

Blair accepted it gratefully and took a sip. He winced as the liquid went down his bruised windpipe, then said, "It's...alright...I'm fine...thanks." He coughed again and took another sip.

The officers that Simon sent after Markham returned. One of them shook his head. Markham got away. Simon gave a silent curse.

Blair was now sitting up leaning back in the chair. "What happened anyway?" he asked, running a shaky hand through his hair. "He went nuts."

Jim sighed. "Joel told us what's been happening." he said softly. "Blair, you should of told me."

Blair looked at the cup in his hands. "I'm sorry, but if I had told it would of hurt the case." Looking directly at Jim, he said, "Jim, he made threats against you and I know you want him stopped." His eyes made him look like a child who didn't want to lose his big brother.

The detective patted his shoulder. "Don't worry about it, Chief. We'll get him." said Jim.

Simon looked at the young man with concern. "Are you sure you're alright, Sandburg? I could have Jim take you and have you looked at."

Blair looked up at the captain. "No, no, sir. Thanks but I'm fine." he weakly assured them.

Simon sighed. "OK. Jim, I'll put a couple of men outside Markham's place and see if he returns tonight. Take the kid home and make sure he gets some rest." When Blair started to protest, he added, "That's an order, Sandburg!"

Blair then nodded and Jim helped him to his feet. "Come on, Chief. Let's get you home." As they entered the elevator, Jim said to Simon, "See you later, sir...and thanks."


When Jim took Blair home, Blair sat curled up on the couch, taking a pillow and hugging it to himself. "Didn't help much with this case except mess everything up, didn't I?" he said sadly, staring at a particular piece of the pillow and began picking at it.

Jim sat on the coffee table opposite him and said firmly, "That's enough, Chief. We'll get Markham. Don't worry about it but next time..." Jim raised Blair's chin so the young man was looking at him. "Next time this happens, you tell me, ok?"

Blair gave the older man a small smile. "OK, Jim. I promise"

Jim released his chin and patted his knee. "Good. Now get some rest and I'll be back later." He brought the phone over and placed it on the coffee table. "If you need anything, call. I'm gonna be at the office checking out a few things."

"Ok Jim," said Blair. Laying down on the couch, he added hopefully, "Y'know, Jim, if I get to feeling better soon, I'm gonna go to the university. I've got a few things to do there."

"Ok, but be careful and don't over do it."

"Yes, Dad." Blair smiled cheekily as Jim threw him a half-stern glare, then left. Soon after, Blair closed his eyes and slept.


Jim headed back to the station. When he got there he went to Simons office.

"Come!" barked the man when Jim knocked on the door.

"UH sir?" Jim said tentatively as he entered the captain's office.


Simon looked up. "Hey Jim, what are you doing here? How's the kid?"

"He's fine, sir. He's resting right now and then he's going to the university for a while."

"Well," said Simon. "I figured I'd try again to get through to Seattle, since I couldn't get there earlier. I got the hold of the police chief up there and informed them of Markham's events and they said they would back me up one hundred percent but it seems our Detective Markham was suspended several days ago pending an IA investigation."

"WHAT?!" said Jim with surprise.

"Apparently he wasn't sent here. All his paperwork is bogus." said Simon.

"IA?" asked Jim, sitting down. "On what charge?"

"It appears he was the lead detective in the case for months before he was pulled off."


Just then, the phone rang. Simon answered it, then he handed the receiver to Jim, irritated. "It's for you. It's Sandburg." he said. "Listen, Ellison this is *not* a switchboard!"

Jim grinned at Simon and took the receiver. "Yeah, Chief? Oh ok...be careful... you sure you're ok? OK...bye." He handed the phone back to Simon.

Simon just shook his head and grinned. "Checking in with Big Brother?" he teased.

Jim returned the grin. "I told him that I would be in the office today. He's gonna go to the university for a couple of hours and he was just checking."

Simon nodded. "Whatever." Getting back to task, he said, "Anyway they suspended him, for abuse charges, but they still have nothing on the bombing. I've got everyone out there looking for him."

Just then Taggert opened the door and said "The bomber just called we've got one!"

"Let's roll!" said Simon, grabbing his coat and followed Jim and Taggert out the door.


Taggert rode with Jim. "I don't get it why he's calling." said Jim. "He never called the places."

Joel replied. "He called me and said things have changed now. Since I was the snitch, I guess he wants to blow me up in the building."

"Great! Now it's personal. At least we know now it's Markham." said Jim as they raced through town to get to the scene.

What none of them knew was that Markham had set the bomb and then sat outside the loft waiting for Blair. He had been following the anthropologist everywhere he went after he left the loft.

Jim, Taggert and Simon arrived at the scene and found that it had been secured. Taggert's men were already there. They had already been searching the building when they called for the bomb squad captain to join them. They found the bomb. He joined them to discover it was a fake, with a note. "Squealing pigs will die sooner or later. Remember the warning." Jim and Simon then joined Taggert at the scene where the bomb was to see what had been going on.

Jim's phone rang and he remember that it had been hours since Blair had last checked in.

"Ellison...Yeah, Chief...Yeah that's great...No, I'll explain later...that's ok, stay at the loft. Take a couple of your aspirin and I'll be there shortly for dinner ok?.. Bye.." and Jim hung up.

Simon and Taggert were looking at him when he put the phone in his pocket. "Everything all right with the kid?" asked Simon.

"Yeah, just checking in. He's back from the university. His headache's back. I told him to take his medication and I'd be home soon."

Simon nodded. "Ok, we'll finish up here, Jim. Why don't you head home . You've gotta little ways of a drive to go."

"Ok, sir. Thanks and let me know if you come up with anything."


Blair looked at the clock. 4:45. That gave him time to grade some essays before Jim came home. *Better set the timer so I can stop in time to make dinner.* He picked up the backpackfrom the couch and winched a little from his headache and the pain in his back. Then he proceeded to settle in his room to grade papers,.


Markham had been watching Blair since he came back. He had followed him to the university and back and now sat outside, waiting. He looked at his watch. 5:00. Ellison should be coming home soon. *Better move now before Ellison gets back.* Markham got out of his car and casually crossed the street.


Jim had got back in the truck when the phone rang. "Ellison? Yeah, hi, Brown, what's up? Ok I'll head to the station before going home...ok, see ya in a few." and he hung up. When he got to Major Crimes department, Jim found Brown sitting at his desk. "What did you find out?" asked Jim walking up to Brown. 

Brown opened up a file. "Well our friend really isn't a cop or used to be from the history I've dug up on the man. He never attended a police academy anywhere. What I did find out is that he served in Desert Storm as a bomb expert. After the Gulf War he's been in a mental hospital for the past several years. He had escaped about the time the bombings started."

Jim flipped through the file. "Oh great we've got a maniac who escaped from a mental hospital running around pretending to be a cop, and no one knew this."

"Nope. And the doctor I talked to said he's to be considered dangerous."

"Uh I think we already know that part" said Jim.

"He's also said that it seams that Markham has a hard time with civilians. You'd better find him, Jim, before he hurts someone bad." said Brown.

Jim nodded.


Blair's alarm went off 15 minutes later. He went to the phone and called Jim.

"Ellison "

"Jim, it's Blair"

"Oh hi, Chief. I was just leaving for the night. Whatcha need?"

"I thought I'd call and see if I should go ahead and start whipping up something for dinner."

"Why don't I just grab carry out. I want you to rest. Understand me Chief?"

"Yeah Jim. Loud and clear." Blair grinned. "See you when you get here, man."

"All right Chief."


Jim hung up the phone and turned to Brown. "I'll check in later. Thanks for the information." With that, he headed for the elevator.

Brown waved. "OK Jim. See ya later." and Jim left.


Once Blair hung up the phone with Jim he turned to go sit on the couch when there was a knock on the door. He sighed. He started toward it when there was another knock. "Coming! I'm coming!" he said loudly and made his way to the door. When the young man opened it and found Markham standing there.

Blair's heart skipped a beat, but he quickly recovered. "What do you want?" he managed to say. Blair felt uncomfortable with this man, especially after the incident in the bullpen.

"I want to apologize for all the trouble I've caused." said the Seattle detective. Looking hopeful, he asked, "May I come in and talk?"

Blair was stunned. After a moment's hesitation, he opened the door wider. "Sure," he said, tentatively. "Come in, Jim will be here in a few minutes."

"That's ok I won't be here long."


Blair started to turn and ask what he meant by that and that was the last thing he remembered before pain flashed in his head and darkness claimed him.


When Jim got up to the door of the loft he immediately sensed something was wrong. The door was slightly open. Jim grabbed his gun and cocking it, he slowly opened the door and carefully went in. "Blair?" he called, moving around the area slowly. No response. He slowly walked toward the middle of the apartment. Jim focused on his hearing. Nothing. Blair and no one else was in the apartment. Jim did another quick sweep of the apartment. He was thankful and sad, however, that he found no bodies.

That's when he smelled it. Blood. As he was coming down the steps, his eyes focused on Blair's glasses lying under the table. Putting his gun away, he quickly went down and picked up his partner's glasses . He could see blood on the earpiece. The frames were bent. Jim's body went numb. What had happened here and where was Blair?"

Jim was startled from his thoughts by the ringing of the phone. Still holding Blair's glasses, he answered the cellphone. "Ellison?"

"Hi, buddy boy. This is Trent Markham," said the voice on the other end of the phone. "'Bout time you got home. I was beginning to think your partner had lied when he said you'd be home soon."

Jim's anger flared and he tightened his grip on the phone, unconsciously tightening his grip on Blair's twisted glasses as well. "You bastard..." Jim hissed.

"Calm down, Ellison." Markham interrupted. "Look out your window."

Jim crossed the room to the balcony window and looked out, scanning the street for any sign of either Markham or Blair. "Look up to the building across the street," instructed Markham. "I'm on the roof."

Jim complied and saw Markham standing there looking smugly at him. Rage boiled with in him as he watched Markham reaching down and haul a groggy Sandburg to his feet. The Sentinel unconsciously focused on his friend and saw the nasty gash on his face. He also saw that the young man was blindfolded. *Good thing cause Blair would freak* thought Jim, despite the seriousness of the situation.

The Sentinel was shaking with rage. "Let me talk to my partner." Jim said, barely able to hide the rage in his voice.

Markham’s calmness irritated Jim even more. "Actually, what I want from you I won't discuss over the phone. So why don't you come over here and we'll discuss it." With that, Markham hung up the phone. Jim was forced to watch helplessly as Markham dragged the blindfolded anthropologist with him toward the stairwell.


Blair woke to a splitting headache. "What happened?" But before he had time to realize what was going on, he felt hands on his shirt and someone hauling him to his feet. "Jim?" he asked. *What was with the blindfold?* Then he remembered what had happened. Markham. The hands shifted their positions, turned him around and pulled him in an unknown direction. About then he heard Markham's conversation with Jim. Then he was being dragged again in an unknown direction.

After a few minutes, Markham stopped as he heard someone coming up the steps. "I have a gun pointed at his head. I see your head pop up those steps and I'll kill him." and emphasized it with cocking the gun.

"JIM?" yelled Blair.

"Chief, are you all right?"


"Yeah...OUCH!" Markham grabbed Blair by his hair and pulled his head back and pushed the gun into Blair's cheek

Jim heard Trent mutter, "Shut up!" and said, "Markham, what do you want?"

"Ok, Ellison, just so we keep this balanced, so to speak, there's a sniper on the roof of the building next to you. One false move or if I don't leave here safely, his orders are to make sure your friend gets a bullet in the head.

Jim focused and saw the sniper. "Alright, Markham, what do you want?"

"For starters, you drop this case!"


"That's my business, Ellison. I also want you to turn over all information you have so far on this case."

"It became by business when you kidnapped my partner."

"I still have no clue why you would want this skinny punk as your partner, he's only a civilian."

Jim heard a gasp from his partner as he saw Markham yank on his hair.

Trent continued. "Now I want you to move out of the way and let us pass. I'll give you til noon tomorrow to make up your mind and I'll give you the location of your "partner" then, and only then."

"Whoa, you're *not* taken him anywhere!" Jim protested, taking a step towards them.

"Back off, Ellison or he dies right here and now!" He yanked Blair's hair again and the young man cried out in pain.


"All right! I'm leaving!" Jim backed out of the building and checked to see if the sniper was still there. The sniper was now pointing the gun at Jim. Jim stood back as Markham made his way down with Blair. However, Blair, being blindfolded, was having a hard time going down the steps and Markham was getting impatient with him. "Come on, move it."

"Hey, man," snapped Blair. "If you would take off this stupid blindfold, I would be able to see where I'm going." Markham just gave him a nudge as Blair started to take another step down the step, causing the observer to lose his balance and fall.

Jim, who had been listening, heard Blair cry out and started running toward the building when gun shots rang out and hit the ground in front of his feet. Jim stopped in his tracks.

Markham quickly ran to the bottom of the steps to where Blair, who was sitting, had fallen. He grabbed Blair by the shirt front and hauled him to his feet. "Let's go!"

Blair knew Jim would be focused on him, so he whispered low enough for the Sentinel to hear. "I'm all right, Jim."

"Move it!" yelled Markham, shoving Blair toward the door. He almost fell again. He'd twisted his ankle, but with Markham's help, Sandburg stayed on his feet. Blair limped with gritted pain toward the door. Once they got to the main door, Markham got behind Blair, again grabbing a handful of his hair as they came outside.

Jim could tell Blair's ankle was injured by his heavy limping. Jim's ice blue eyes narrowed as a van pulled up beside Markham and Blair and the sniper got out, holding a automatic pistol at him as Markham shoved Blair hard into the back of the van. Jim heard him cry in pain. Getting in, then turning to face the detective, Trent said, "Later Ellison. Remember 12:00 noon tomorrow! And you had best make the right decision!"

Keeping his gun trained on Jim, the sniper then jumped back into the van and it sped away. Jim caught the license plate number as the van turned the corner and hit a car out of frustration. Then his cell phone rang. "WHAT?" he growled into the receiver.

"Whoa!" It was Simon. "Did I catch you at a bad time?"

Jim sighed and ran a hand over his face. "Oh hi Simon. Sorry."

"What's going on, Jim?"

"I just had a run in with Trent Markham."

"What?! What did he want? Did you detain him for questioning?"

"He wants me to drop the case and turn over all information I have to him and anything new that comes along."

"Is he still there, Jim?"

"Uh no, sir." he said softly.

The captain's voice boomed over the line. "Why not? You had him right there! And why would he want the information on the case for? He's no longer on it."

"I don't know why he wants the information, sir. And you don't know half of the problem yet."

"Like what? What could get worse than this?" asked Simon, exasperated.

"He has Sandburg."


"He gave me until noon tomorrow to make my decision or Blair dies."

"Oh that's just great. How did he get the kid?"

"Apparently after I talked to Blair." said Jim. "He's hurt Simon, he's got a nasty gash on his forehead and that bastard shoved him down the steps. He's right ankle is twisted pretty good."

"That son of a B----!" said Simon snarling into the phone. "What are you gonna do Jim?"

Jim leaned against the building Markham and Blair had vacated. "Tell you the truth, sir, I have no idea." He rubbed his temple and sighed. Suddenly he felt very tired.

Simon sighed. "OK, Jim. Keep me informed."

"I will sir." Jim hung up the phone, then went back to the loft.


Blair kept fidgeting on the floor of the van, trying to get comfortable. His head was still pounding and he was slowly losing feeling in his fingers. Markham had tied his hands behind him and when the van made a sudden turn, Blair felt himself sliding and slamming into the van wall.

Trent noticed that he kept moving. "Be still or you'll get worse then a lump on your head."

"Well, then let me sit up." Blair complained. "This is very uncomfortable. And why the blindfold? Where are you taking me?"

Trent grabbed Blair's hair again, eliciting a grunt from the anthropologist. "If I was you, I'd keep my mouth shut."

"You won't get away with this, y'know."

Markham slammed Blair's head into the floor of the van. Blair winced and saw stars. "I already have." The van then screeched to a stop. "As for where you are going, we're here. Just a place to keep you over night. Until your friend does as I tell him," said Markham. Then he opened the van door and pulled out the injured young man, leading Blair into a huge warehouse.

"This is were you stay until I call Ellison." Markham shoved Blair into a corner. Blair lost his balance, stumbled and fell hard against the floor. Resituating himself until he was sitting, he thought. *Anytime now, Jim.* He listened as footsteps got fainter before he tried to move, working his way forward. Blair had only got a few feet when there was a rough hand on his collar, dragging him back to the corner.

"I said stay put!" growled Markham. Throwing him back into the corner, Markham squatted down before the blindfolded young man.

Blair held his head high and looked in the taller man's general direction, trying to show he wasn't afraid of the man.

"Now you stay here!" said Markham menacingly. "And don't move. You'll live longer." He emphasized his point by poking his shoulder, then left.

Blair slumped over on the floor, lying on his side and said softly to himself. "I'm ready to go home now Jim." Blair then closed his covered eyes and soon he was asleep.


Jim ran all day and night since Markham had taken Blair. He'd traced the van's plates and it had led to a man by Kevin Smith. Jim got a warrant and a few men and searched the snipers apartment. They found explosive charges and some plastic, but found no sign of where Blair might be held.

He then returned to the department, determined to dig up more on this Kevin Smith. When he returned to his desk, the detective got all the information Markham wanted, typed listlessly at this computer and made a few phone calls. Then Simon poked his head out the door and called for him.

Jim grabbed the information Markham wanted and went into Simon's office. The detective sat down in the nearest chair and rubbed his eyes. "Yeah, Simon, what is it?" He then looked at the clock.


"For starters, you look awful," stated Simon.

"Yeah, that's about the way I feel, too."

Simon noticed the anxiety on the detective's face and his checking of the time. "I know you're pressed for time, so let's keep this short. What do you have on this new guy?"

"Nothing much, sir. His name is Kevin Smith, and that's all we know for now. His name's still getting run through the files."

Simon nodded and handed Jim a cup of coffee, which he took gratefully. Then there was a knock on the door. "Yeah?" said Simon.

The door opened and Brown walked in. "Sorry sir, here is the information you wanted, Jim," said Brown, handing the folder to Jim. Then he turned and left the room. Jim flipped quickly through the pages.

"Any connections?"

"Yeah, seems our friends have spent time in the VA hospital for quite some time. Smith's been in and out of mental hospitals since Desert Storm. He's a demolitions expert. Says he was hit by shrapnel and spent months in a hospital and hasn't been right since."


"Oh great. That's all we need, two nuts making bombs in Cascade."

Jim's cell phone rang and he looked at the clock. 12:00.

Simon looked at Jim and he knew the detective would give up the information Markham wanted. He nodded and Jim answered the phone. In the meantime, Simon picked up his phone and whispered for a trace to be put on Jim's cell phone.


Markham's voice made Jim tighten his hold on the receiver. "Glad to hear your voice, Detective." "I hope you've reached a decision."

"I've got it all right here," Jim snapped. "Where's Sandburg?"

"I knew you would make the right decision, Ellison." sneered Markham. "You're a good cop."

"Where is Sandburg?" Jim heard his voice rising, but he didn't care. All he wanted was Sandburg safe.

"All in good time, Detective." said Markham smoothly. "All in good time." Then his tone got serious "I want you to drop off what you have at the post office. Put it in an envelope and mark it P.O. Drawer 584'. Got it?"

Jim wrote it down. "Got it. I want to talk to Sandburg."

"Nope. Not yet," said Markham. "When you complete your task, you'll get another call on where to find your partner." Then hung up, leaving Jim still tightly gripping the receiver.

Jim quickly hung up the phone, put it away, grabbed the information and started out the door and left the captain's office. As the detective grabbed his jacket, Simon yelled "Keep me informed Ellison."

"I will, sir" he replied and ran out the door.

Jim made it to the post office in record time. He purchased an envelope large enough to accommodate the information and asked them to put it into the requested drawer. Then he waited outside at the nearby pay phone.

Thirty minutes had passed when the phone finally rang. Ellison snatched the receiver with such force that he scared a mother who was standing nearby. "Yeah," he said.

"You follow instructions very well," said Markham. "That's good. Now listen to these instructions because I'm only going to say them once. This is where to find your partner..." Then he proceeded to give the directions.


Jim probably broke all sorts of traffic laws on his way to the building, but he didn't care. His friend was there, injured and possibly alone. He brought the truck to a screeching halt outside of the building. He grabbed his cell phone as he got out and pressed the speed dial for Simon's number.


"Simon, it's Ellison. I'm at the warehouse. Markham sent me here to find Blair and I'm going in. better send backup."

"All right, Jim, you want to wait for backup?"

"Can't. Don't have time." Jim gave Simon the address and hung up.

Jim got out of the truck and focused his hearing on the building. He could hear only one heartbeat inside. Jim carefully entered the building, his gun drawn. He moved through the warehouse slowly and carefully until he reached the back of it. There, lying on the floor on his side, blindfolded, was Blair. Jim put away his gun and went over to him. He knelt down beside him and said softly. "Chief?"

When there was no response, he put a hand on Blair's shoulder. Blair stirred a little and said softly, "Jim?"

"Yeah Chief. It's me." He took off the blindfold and untied his young friend's hands. He sat Blair up and he leaned against the wall of the place. Blair then proceeded to cough several times

Jim looked concerned. "Are you alright?"

"Yeah, but I'm cold." said Blair.

Jim then saw the young man was shivering. He took off his jacket and put it on Blair. Jim then checked the gash on Blair's forehead which has stopped bleeding some time ago. "Come on Chief. I need to take you to the hospital."

"I'm fine, Jim. Please just take me home. Please, if you take me to the hospital they'll either keep me after doing tons of test or keep me from getting home to bed."

"OK, Chief, but I still wish you'd let me have you checked out. So when I get you home I'm gonna call Dr. Summer."

Blair coughed again for a couple of minutes. Jim didn't like that sound of the cough and he could hear the wheezing in his lungs. Blair then nodded. Jim helped Blair to his feet. Once he was standing, Jim asked, "You alright?"

"Yeah." Then Blair started to sink back to the floor.

Jim shook his head. "You're not alright." He put one of Blair's arms around his shoulder and put one of his arms around Blair's waist and helped him to the truck.

Jim noticed Blair wasn't putting hardly any weight on his ankle. Jim helped Blair into the truck. About then Simon and several other police cars pulled up. Getting out of the car, Simon yelled "Jim?"

"I've got him, Simon." he said as Simon joined him.

"How's the kid?"

"Rough Simon, Markham's gonna pay for this." Jim vowed. Then looking at his partner huddled in the passenger seat, he said, "I've got to go. There's no sign of him in the building."

"Ok Jim. You taking him to the hospital?"

"No, he's refusing and I don't want to upset him more. I'm gonna call Dr. Summer when I get him to the loft see if she can come over to have a look at him."

"Ok Jim. Let me know. I'll have the lab guys go over this place and see if they come up with anything."

Blair began coughing again. Jim ran around to the driver's side of the truck and got in. "I've got to go, Simon." He started the engine and put the truck in gear. "See you later."

Simon nodded and headed back to the other men, barking orders. Jim left, heading for the loft.


Some time later, Jim pulled up in front of the loft. He looked over at his partner. Blair looked very small in the detective's jacket. As Jim watched him sleep, he noticed his face was flushed with fever and he was still coughing hard. Jim wanted nothing much more then to let him sleep, but hey had several fights of stairs before they reached the loft.

"Chief?" he asked.

No response. Jim reached over and put a hand to Blair's forehead. The fever was still there but he had no choice . He shook the young man's shoulder. "Come on, Blair, wake up?" he said gently.

Blair slowly opened his eyes and blinked, turning his head to look at the detective. "Jim?" he said, exhaustion evident in his voice.

Jim smiled. "Yeah, Chief," he said. "We're home. I need you awake so we can climb the stairs, ok?"

Blair blinked sleepily. "OK." Blair weakly returned the smile.

Jim patted his shoulder, then got out of the truck, rushing around to assist his friend. He got there just in time. Blair got out of the truck, but his ankle gave out. He grabbed the door to keep himself from falling.

Jim wrapped his arm around Blair's waist to keep him from falling and helped him stand. "Easy, there, Chief, I got ya." said Jim.

"Thanks Jim." said the ill man. "I don't think my ankle's gonna make it."

Concern crossed the detective's features. "Ok. Just lean on me. Can you do that?"

Blair nodded weakly. "Yeah." and he coughed some more.

"Ok." Jim let Blair set the pace with his limping and started into the building.


About a half hour later, they finally reached the loft. As soon as they crossed the threshold, however, Blair collapsed into the detective, his breathing slightly labored. Jim didn't miss a step and scooped his friend into his arms and carried him to his bedroom.

As Jim gently laid Blair on the bed, the young man stirred. "HummH?" mumbled Blair. "Oh, hi Jim." Then he closed his eyes.

Jim smiled at his young friend. "Come on, let's get you out of these clothes." The Sentinel was in full Brother mode now, talking care of his partner. Blair just mumbled his compliance, but didn't open his eyes or assist . He just sat there like a limp doll, vaguely aware of the detective's ministrations. Jim took off the dirty and damp flannel shirt Blair had slept in at the warehouse, leaving him in his T-shirt, which was already becoming soaked with sweat from the fever. After removing the sweat-drenched shirt. Jim gently eased the young man back until he was resting on his pillow and proceeded to continue preparing him for bed.


He took of his friend's shoes, taking extra care with Blair's injured ankle. Once the shoes and socks were off, Jim took the opportunity to inspect the extent of the injury the ankle had received from the fall. Kneeling so he could get a better look, Jim ran his fingers over the ankle, using his Sentinel touch to examine it. Then ankle was swollen, but Jim was satisfied that the ankle wasn't broken.

Blair moaned but didn't awaken.

Satisfied that the ankle wasn't broken, Jim finished taking off Blair's wet clothes and tucked his friend in, elevating the injured ankle on a couple of pillows. Jim took one more check on Blair's condition before leaving the room. Blair's face was beaded with sweat as his body fought the fever. *Markham was definitely going to pay for this.* the detective thought angrily.

Blair stirred at the touch. "Jim?" he said quietly . His eyes remained closed.

Jim carefully sat on the edge of his bed "Yeah Chief" he replied, gently brushing away a few errant curls that had fallen in his face.

"Thanks" he said weakly. He cracked open weary eyes and looked up at the detective.

"What for?''

Blair sighed wearily. "For everything, man. For being my friend, and just being, well ... you." He smiled weakly then drifted off again.

Jim smiled at his sleeping friend. Friend. Blair had called him friend. He knew that he considered Blair his friend, and vice versa, but just that statement from this young man, even with the fever of flu, made Jim feel warm with pride.

Jim quietly left Blair's room, leaving the door cracked open and went for the phone. Blair only had the flu, that he was certain of, but the ankle needed to be looked at by the doctor. Pulling out the card Dr. Summers had given him, Jim punched in the numbers into the phone.

"Dr. Summer," came the voice on the other end of the phone.

"Dr. Summer, this is Jim Ellison," said the detective

"Yes Detective Ellison," said the doctor. "How is Mr. Sandburg? Is his headache causing him problems again?"

"No, but something else happened. Could you possibly come over here? I wouldn't bother you like this, but he won't let me take him to the hospital."

"I usually don't make house calls, Detective, but I'll see what I can do.. say about 20 to 30 minutes?"

"That'll be great, Doc, thank you." said Jim, gave her the address, thanked her again and hung up. As he turned to go back to Blair's room and then the phone rang again. He picked it up.


"Jim, it's Simon."

"Hi, Simon."

"How's the kid?" asked the captain, concerned.

"Not too good. Dr. Summers is coming over."

"Why what's wrong?"

"He's got the flu, and his ankle looks bad." said the detective, glancing in the direction of Blair's room. Hoping for a lead on the case, he asked, "Any luck on your end?"

"Not much," Simon said, "but I'm gonna place a unit or two at your place just to be on the safe side in case Markham decides to reappear."

"But..." Jim started to protest.

Simon interrupted. "No buts. I'll let you know if anything new shows up. But for now, take care of the kid."

Jim didn't like it, but he acquiesced. "Yes sir." He didn't like just sitting on the sidelines of the action, but if it meant keeping Blair safe, he'd do it.

"Good, I'll call you as soon as we get anything." With that, Simon hung up.

Jim then searched the kitchen for a bowel and an ice pack. As much as he personally wanted to nail Markham hide to the wall, the Sentinel's main concern was of his partner, his friend. Finding what he needed, plus a couple of towels, he filled the bowl with water and the ice pack with ice and went back into Blair's room.

Blair didn't awaken.

Jim placed the water bowl and towels on the night stand by the bed and pulled up a chair beside the bed. Jim took the ice pack he had brought and uncovered Blair's injured ankle and gently settled the ice pack onto it, hoping it would bring down some of the swelling. He then returned to the chair and sat down and placed a towel in the water. Jim took the towel and started wiping the young man's face, removing the fevered sweat from it. Then he returned the towel to the water and then wiped Blair's face again.

Laying the folded damp towel on Blair's forehead, Jim left the room and went to the bathroom. He knew Blair kept the enchinacea somewhere and Blair usually took it for things like this. Having found it and getting a glass of water, Jim returned to his friend's room and sat the glass down on the night stand, then gently shook the young man's shoulder. "Blair?" he asked.

Blair moaned and tried to turn away from him.

Jim tried again. "Come on, Chief. I brought the echinacea for you." he said gently. "I need you to wake up so you can take it."

Blair groaned and turned back toward him, opening his eyes slowly and looking at the detective.

Jim smiled and handed the pill to him and Blair popped it into his mouth and, with support of Jim, drank the water. Blair took a couple of little sips and coughed several times.

"Easy." Jim said, helping Blair lay back down on the pillows.

"Thanks Jim," said Blair and coughed a few more times. Then he repeated softly, "Thanks Jim."

Jim patted his shoulder. "No problem, Chief. You rest now. Dr. Summers is coming over to check on your ankle and your cough. She should be here soon."

Blair nodded weakly, then said, "What about Markham?"

Jim's jaw clenched "Don't worry about him. He won't hurt you any more."

Blair blinked and started incredulously at him. "You got him?"

Jim sighed. "No, not yet, but we will, that I promise you."

Blair nodded and closed his eyes, drifting back to sleep, He stayed with Blair until he heard the knock on the door and went to answer it. It was Dr. Summers. "Thanks for coming, Doc," said Jim.

"It's all right, I was just getting off any way. What happened?"

"Well he's been threw a lot."

"Did you find out who had been abusing him?"

"Yes. An out-of-town cop. Anyway, Blair fell down some steps, twisting his ankle badly. He's got a gash on his forehead and spent the night on a cold damp floor. He's also got a nasty cough."

"What has he been doing?? Where is he?"

"His room, this way." Jim took her to Blair's room.

She went in as Blair was coughing again.

Jim went to his side and helped him sit up some. After a couple of seconds, Blair stopped and said "Thanks." He then saw Dr. Summers. "Hi Doctor Summers, long time." He then laid back down and smiled weakly.

Doctor Summers returned the smile and sat in the chair Jim indicated next to the bed. Opening her medical bag and pulling out her stethoscope, she said, "Hello, Mr. Sandburg. How are you doing?"

"I've been better," came the exhausted reply. "And please, it's Blair."

"Ok Blair, let's check those lungs first." Placing the cold metal to his chest, she listened to his lungs. She didn't like the sound of them. She then checked and cleaned the gash on his forehead. Since the accident happened too long ago for stitches she placed a butterfly bandage on it. She then checked his ankle and wrapped it.

Blair had since drifted back to sleep.

She and Jim left the room. "Well, doctor?" asked Jim, going into the kitchen and getting them some coffee. They sat at the dining room table.

"Well, the flu is for sure, but I'm not ruling out pneumonia. Keep an eye on him and if the cough gets worse, call me." She then wrote on a tablet. This is some antibiotics for the fever. I'm also giving him a prescription for an inhaler to help clean up his lungs." Looking directly at the detective, she said, "Tell me, do they have this person who has been hurting him?"

Jim clenched his jaw. "No, not yet, but soon. Everyone in Cascade is on the lookout for him." "I really appreciate you're coming over Doc."

"It's all right, Detective Ellison. I was glad to see him again anyway."

"Jim, please."

"All right, Jim," she said, smiling. Then she looked at her watch. "Well, it's getting late and you really should get those filled." She headed for the door. "And please," she paused and turned to him. "If any problems occur, please call me."

Jim walked her to the door and opened it for her. "Thank you." he said.

"I will call you in the morning to see how he is doing." she said.

Jim smiled and nodded. "Fine, and thanks again."

She left and Jim shut the door. Then he went to check on Blair. His partner was sleeping. He then called and found out who was watching the loft, then dialed the car phone.

"Brown." came the voice on the other end of the phone.

"It's Ellison."

"Hey, Jim! I saw the doc leave a couple minutes ago. How's the kid?"

"Pretty sick, I called Simon and okayed it through him. Listen, I need one of your guys to come up and stay with Blair, for a while. I need to get some prescriptions filled."

"Sure Jim. No problem. There's another car around back and Allen and me here. I'll come up and sit with him."

"Thanks, Brown." and Jim hung up the phone. As soon as he hung up, it rang again. "Ellison"

"Jim, it's Simon. We've got Smith."

"What??" asked Jim, shocked.

"A black and white picked him up about 15 minutes ago."

"Great, sir! Brown is coming up to sit with Blair. I'll be in in a little while. I want to drop off this prescription and then I'll be over."

"All right, Jim. See you in a few." About then there was a knock on the door. Jim listened for a moment and then opened it. It was Brown. Welcoming in his fellow detective, Jim said, "Thanks, I'm gonna be gone longer then I thought. They got Kevin Smith and I need to go to the station. I'll drop off the prescription and then have them send it over, ok?"

"Sure, no problem, Jim."

"Ok, Blair's in his room sleeping. Keep an eye on him and if any problems call me or this number. It's his doctor. He's running a slight fever, so...."

Brown gave a small chuckle and smiled. "Jim, relax. He'll be fine. Now go on so I can have that medicine."

"All right see you soon." Jim grabbed his jacket and keys and took off. He dropped off the prescriptions and charged the delivery to the department. He arrived at the station just as the sun was coming up. It had been a while since he had slept, but he had no time for that now and he wanted Markham soon. He met Simon in his office with Taggert. "Hi Joel," he said as he walked in and sat down.

"Jim? How's Sandburg?" asked Taggert.

"Resting. Doctor Summer said he'd be fine. She said just to give him the meds and keep an eye on his cough for pneumonia."

"Ok, Smith's in interrogation." Simon said. "I figured it would be best if we didn't talk to him but someone else."

Jim hesitated, then nodded his agreement. "Alright, sir. Anything else?"

"No. He hasn't said a word since they brought him in."

"So, what now?" asked Jim.


"Well," said Taggert, looking through the file from booking. "We did find quite a bit of explosives in the van. But some sticks of TNT were missing and a detonator. Looks like Markham's gonna blow another building."

"And we have no idea where?" Jim asked, getting frustrated at the whole mess.

Taggert just shook his head.

"Dammit, he's toying with us." said Simon, aggravated.

"I think all of this has been a stall for the real target."

"I don't get it. Why?" said Simon.

"Don't you see? He's after someone for some reason." said Jim.

"But who?" asked Taggert.

"I don't know. The only one he seems to be striking out against publicly is Blair. But why?" asked Jim. They all sat in silence for a few moments. Then Jim suddenly stood and quickly left the room and went to his desk, desperately searching for a folder before returning to the office.

Ignoring the quizzical looks Simon and Taggert were giving him, Jim sat at the table and flipped through the file and then hit a paper. "There it is!" he exclaimed. "How could we have missed it??" Jim said incredulously. Then, looking up at the flabbergasted captain, he asked, "Can I use your computer?"

Simon shook himself from his thoughts. "Uh, yeah. You want to fill us in on this?"


"You remember that Prometheus case a few months back?" At their nod, he continued. "Well, it seems we have another firebug on our hands." Reading the information the computer brought forth, Jim said, "Markham's a demolitions expert. He was hired by someone to torch those buildings." Clacking a few more keys, Jim stared at the computer. "Trevor Santarious..."

Simon looked over Jim's shoulder at the computer screen. "Who?"

"It seems this Mr. Santarious owned the buildings that were blown. No one died in those bombings except for one..." He clicked a few more keys. "...Jenny Markham...."

Simon read the information. "Markham's daughter??" he said incredulously. "What all this got to do with Sandburg?"

Jim hit the print key. "I don't know, but this is the one who holds the answers." With that, he scooped up the printed page and headed for the office door.

Taggert followed. "Wait up, Jim," said the large captain. "I'm coming with you."

Before they got to the elevator, however, Simon popped back out of the office and rushed towards them. "Ellison!" he yelled. "Get home now! Brown failed to check in and so has Allen."

Following them into the elevator, he added, "I've sent two units and an ambulance to meet us there, but not to enter until we can determine the situation."


Jim went into the building, taking 2-3 steps at a time until he reached the loft. Once at the door, he saw it was opened slightly and entered cautiously, his gun drawn. He looked around the room and saw Brown lying on the floor near the kitchen. The detective quickly went to him, holding his gun up in case anyone came out of another room. He saw blood pooling under the fallen officer's head and checked for a pulse, relieved when he found one.

He then focused his hearing on the apartment and found no other heartbeat. He checked Blair's room and found it empty. He punched the wall in frustration.


In one swift move Jim turned and leveled his gun an the approacher.

"Whoa, easy!" said Simon, holding up his hands. "Relax."

"Sorry Simon," said Jim, putting down his gun. "Blair's gone."

About then Brown moaned and Jim and Simon went to him. He sat up holding his head.

"Brown?" said Simon. "Are you alright?"

"Jim, I'm sorry man!" Brown apologized, then looked around. "Where's Sandburg?"

Jim looked at Simon and then said, "He's gone."

Brown looked down. "Dammit, I blew it. Sorry, Jim."

"Don't worry about it. We'll find the kid.." Simon assured him. "Can you remember what happened?"

About then the EMTS's arrived. As they tended to the fallen officer, Brown recounted what happened. 


Brown sat on the couch, every so often going in and checking on Blair. He had just sat back on the couch when there was a knock on the door. Drawing his gun, Brown asked, "Yeah?"

"Uh sir, I have a prescription for a Blair Sandburg from the drugstore down the street. A Detective Jim Ellison payed for it."

Brown put away his gun and thought that was weird that Allen never called him to tell him someone had come into the building. *Must've known who he was.* Brown opened the door and said, "Come on in."

"I just need your signature sir," said the deliveryman. "The bill has been paid for."

Brown turned towards the living room. "Hang on, lemme find a pen..." He trailed off as blinding pain exploded in his head and darkness enveloped him.


"Sorry, sir." Brown apologized and winced as the EMTS applied the bandage to his head wound.

Simon patted Brown's shoulder. "Relax Brown and take it easy we'll find Blair." Simon, Jim and Taggert moved away from Brown and let the EMTS finish taking care of him.

Jim clenched his jaw. "I want to talk to Smith."

"Sorry, Jim," said Simon. "You know I can't let you do that. You're too personally involved with the case."

"Dammit, Captain! We're talking about Blair's life here. Smith is the only lead we have to finding Blair."

"I know, Jim. But I can't just let you walk in and interrogate him." said Simon.

Jim then pulled out his gun and badge. "If I can't talk to him as a cop, then how about as a civilian?" said Jim, offering Simon his gun and shield.

"Put those away!" said the captain, pushing the offered gun and shield back at the detective. He sighed, frustrated. "Alright go talk to him and I don't want to know what happens. I'm afraid of what will happen."

"Thanks, Captain." said Jim and took off out to the loft.


Blair awoke once again to find himself lying on the cold damp floor of the warehouse. Blair moaned and tried to bring his hand to his aching head but found his hands and feet were tied.

"Well, well, our little traitor has awoken!" a sneering voice echoed.

"Markham! Man what is your problem?" demanded Blair and then coughed several times.

"Oh are we not feeling well?"

"Uh no thanks to you."

Markham knelt down and grabbed Blair's hair, yanking his head back to face him. "Listen, you punk! I would watch your step if I were you. You don't want to die to early, do you?" With that, he slammed the anthropologist's head back down into the floor.

Blair winced and saw stars but made an effort to stay conscious. "Man what do you want? Why are you doing all this for?"

"As if you don't know, you traitor!"

"Man what are you talking about?" demanded Blair. "If I'm gonna die, I want to know why."

"Don't play games with me. I saw the two of you talking the day I met you. You talked to him at the university."

"Talked to who?" asked Blair, puzzled. He didn't remember talking to anyone at the station before he met Markham. And he talked to hundreds of people at the university. "I teach classes there!"

"Don't lie! You know who I'm talking about!" yelled Markham.

"Dammit, I don't know what you're talking about . Why don't you humor me and tell me it all!" He tested his bonds, but they were too tight.

Markham looked at Blair and said, "The day before I meet you at the station, I saw you talking outside with Trevor Santarious! I did some checking and I believe you know his as Professor Santiguez?"

"The Professor? What does he have to do with all this?" Blair said with a surprise look on his face.


Jim arrived at the station and headed straight for the interrogation room. Simon had called ahead and arranged for Smith to be in an interrogation room waiting for him. Jim walked into the room and found Smith sitting smugly at the table and smirking when the detective walked into the room.

"Oh, my. Look who it is. Sorry I missed you the other day." Smith said condescendingly.

Jim's temper then took control. He swiftly moved across the room and grabbed Smith by the front of his shirt, lifting him out of his chair and slamming him into the wall. "Where is Markham and Sandburg?"

"Hey man, back off!" The man's heart rate increased slightly with his fear, much to the Sentinel's satisfaction.


"Dammit, where is my partner?" yelled Jim, slamming him into the wall again.


"I can't tell you. Markham will kill me!"

Jim flung him across the room to the floor and jabbed a finger at him. "He's not the one you should be worried about." said Jim and started towards him again.

The man cringed at the sight of the detective. "Alright! Alright already! Just back off!"

"Where is Sandburg and Markham!?" he demanded.

"He said he was taking him back to the warehouse!"

Jim took off out the door, yelling to an officer standing nearby as he passed, "Book him! Attempted murder!" and left the building.

He got in the truck and grabbed his phone, dialing Simon's number. "Simon? I've got it. He's at the warehouse where we found Blair the other night. Markham's got enough explosives to blow a city!"

"All right Jim. We'll meet you there. Taggert is here with me. Wait for back up!"

"Sorry sir. No time." Putting the truck into gear, the Sentinel sped off into traffic, cutting off the captain's protests.


Blair was shocked that Markham had said that one of his professors was really someone else.

"Do you remember a girl by the name of Jenny Markham?" Markham asked, accusingly.

"Yeah," Blair answered. His head was pounding. "She attended school here for a semester then she left. I heard she was killed?"

"She wasn't killed. she was murdered!"

"WHAT?" asked Blair and fell into a coughing fit. When the fit subsided, he said, "I knew that the papers all said she was killed in an accidental fire.''

"Lies! I went to serve in the Gulf when war broke out. She took a job for a man named Trevor Santarious, a.k.a. your Professor Santiguez, to help pay for tuition. He was going bankrupt and decided that the only way to keep from losing his business was to burn a few of his places and keep the insurance to help the others from going under. She stayed late one night to finish up on some work and he torched the place. They found her body when they were clearing out the debris. She never had a chance. She *died* because of that scum! And me...." the last statement added softly, barely audible.

Blair caught that last statement. "But what's that got to do with me? She died because of the man who set the fire." said Blair and coughed. He was tired and having trouble focussing. But he knew if he was going to get out of this he had to stay awake. "She didn't because of you."

"She died because I went to war." Markham explained. "I came home early when the war ended and found that my little girl had died at the hands of that scum. If I hadn't gone she would of never taken the job." He spat. "She would be alive now." Then his tone took a maniacal retrospect. "But I got my revenge. I took my expertise in demolitions and took care of the scum that Santarious had hired to torch that building that night. I had planned on getting Santarious too, but he had disappeared. So I decided to torch the rest of the buildings Santarious owned and destroy his life like he destroyed mine when he killed my Jenny." He smiled insanely at the thought.

Blair shivered with the fever that set in and the insanity in this man's voice. *Oh, man. Another headcase.*

"But Jenny was proud of you. How can she rest in peace knowing what you're doing here?"

Markham moved out of the young man's line of vision. "Oh, this is the last step. I'm gonna blow his last business and wipe out any trace of his existence. Especially since he's no longer among the living." He giggled, which sent a chill down Blair's spine.

Blair looked at him. "What do you mean?" coughed Blair.

"Well, if I know your police friends, they should have found his body by now.

Blair closed his eyes in dread of what was going to happen. *Anytime now, Jim.*


Jim drove as fast as possible to get to the warehouse. When he pulled up outside the phone rang,. "Ellison?"

"Jim, it's Simon."

"Yeah Simon?"

"I thought you should know they just found Santarious' body in his house. He was shot to death. Another thing, Santarious was under an alias here...as Professor Santiguez at the University. Markham may have linked Blair with him as a partner.

"All right, Simon. I've gotta go. I'm at the warehouse."

"All right, Jim. Our ETA is ten minutes tops."

"All right, sir." Jim hung up the phone and got out of the truck. He focused his hearing on the voices inside.

~~~~"You killed him! Why? You just sentenced yourself. Jenny wouldn't have wanted this."

"Shut up! What would you know about what Jenny would have wanted!"

"I know I didn't know her that long, but she was a great girl and no girl would want her father on a guilt revenge kick!"

"You're right. You didn't know Jenny and you sure as hell don't know what she would be thinking!" Markham snarled and jabbed a finger at the bound young man.

"I got to know her when she was here at the university and she had a great heart. As for Trevor Santarious...Professor Santiguez or whoever he was, he abused the power he had and took her life. But must you dishonor her memory of those who knew her with the revenge and murder her father brought forth?" *That's right, Sandburg. Rile up the insane man.*

"Shut up!"

"What you're really doing is turn the truth around, aren't you!"

"Shut up!" yelled Markham.

*Yeah, Sandburg, shut up.* But Blair's brain had been running on overdrive. If he was about to die, he wanted to know it all. "You said Trevor was responsible for Jenny's death, but every time we talk about her death, there was something in your eyes...guilt? You knew it was wrong when you were setting those fires, didn't you?!"

Markham took a menacing step towards his prisoner. "SHUT UP!" he screamed. "Just shut up!" And started kicking Blair in the stomach.

Blair cried with pain with each kick Markham delivered until his tormentor fell to his knees next to the gasping and coughing Blair. "I never knew she w-w-was in the building until the police came the next day. They said they had found her body in the debris of the building." he cried.

"I'm...sorry," coughed Blair. "But...it...has...to...end!" Each word spoken between gasps and coughs.

Markham's face grew cold again and he got to his feet. "Oh, it's ending here. I'm gonna join my daughter once again!" Markham got up off the floor and headed toward the bomb.


Jim had worked his way into the warehouse when he saw Markham kicking Blair and sink to his knees. The detective quietly worked his way over toward Markham, who had moved toward the bomb.

"Markham! POLICE! FREEZE!"

Markham spun around, looked at Jim and pulled out a gun and took a shot at him. Jim dodged the bullets and returned fire. Jim moved around Markham until he could get a jump on him. Once he had Markham where he could take him out he jumped him from behind bringing both

men to the ground.

Jim and Markham exchanged blows for several minutes. Markham was strong but no match for the Sentinel. Soon Jim had laid him out. Jim then stood over the man and wiped the trickle of blood from his mouth. Taking a deep breath, Jim then walked over toward Blair.

Just as he was about to step on the platform Blair was lying on, Blair yelled. "JIM! STOP!"

"What?" asked Jim, stopping in his tracks.

"The floor is rigged with a bomb. If I move or the weight changes, it activates a timer like a triggering device."

"All right, Chief. Just be still!" said the detective calmly.

"Good idea, Jim," said Blair. "Now get me out of here!" Blair fell into a coughing fit causing his abused stomach muscles to hurt more from the kicking he'd received.

Jim looked around for some way to get Blair off the device and to safety before it blew. He turned to Markham, who had been lying on the floor, found the man was no longer there.

Markham was standing at the top of the steps and flipped a switch on a black box he had in his hand. Jim turned back to Blair, knowing that Markham had just activated the timer for the bomb. It was now or never if he and Blair was to live. He quickly stepped on the platform, grabbed his bound partner and flung him over his shoulder. Blair just groaned with pain and coughed. Jim ran for the door.

Simon and Taggert and the rest were just arriving and getting out of their cars.

"Take cover, it's gonna blow!" Jim yelled, still running. Everyone took cover just as the building exploded behind him, sending him and Blair flying through the air to the ground with a cry from both of them.

Once the debris stopped flying and the dust and smoke cleared some, Simon and the others stood up cautiously. "Ellison! Sandburg!" yelled Simon.

Jim lay on the ground, stunned. His body ached all over and he rolled over on his back and groaned.

Simon knelt down next to him. "Are you all right?''

"Yeah, I think so. Where is Blair?"

"He's over here, Jim." came Taggert's voice. Taggert had gone to Blair as Simon had gone to Jim. Taggert quickly untied the motionless form. As Jim spoke, Blair moaned and coughed, spitting up some blood.

"Easy, kid. You're safe." Taggert soothed as Blair tried to move. "MEDIC!"

Jim tried to get up to go to Blair, but Simon held him down. "Easy, Jim. Your body took a nasty jolt. The kid is with Joel and the medics. Where is Markham?"

Jim tried to move to sit up, but his body protested so he relaxed and said softly. "He went upstairs at the same time he activated the timer, don't know where he went. Simon, he killed Trevor Santarious." *The blow must've taken more outta me than I thought.* Jim thought as he closed his eyes and swallowed. "Blamed him for his daughter's death."

"And all those buildings...," said Simon, trying to get it straight. "Santarious owned them, right?"

Jim nodded wearily and then Simon stepped aside as the medics came over and began checking out the detective.

They took both of them to the hospital. Jim was checked and released the next morning. He suffered only minor bruises and a nasty bump on the head, but no concussion. He would be sore for a couple of days but nothing major.

Blair, on the other hand, had suffered several cracked ribs and had developed pneumonia. After bandaging his ribs, Blair spent several days under the oxygen tent, with Jim beside his bed the entire time. A week later, he was released to bed rest at home, with strict instructions from Dr. Summers that he was to rest and basically become a lump in the bed. Jim promised to make sure Blair followed the doctor's instructions, much to the young man's chagrin.

Two days later at the loft Blair had finally convinced Jim he was well enough to move to the couch. Jim had agreed, but insisted on helping him move out to the couch and made sure everything Blair needed was in reach and left to run a few errands. "Sleep," commanded the detective, his face firm but concern in his eyes. Blair smiled as his friend left.

For the first time in days since the kidnapping, Blair was alone. Ever since he return from the hospital, Jim had hovered over him like a mothering hen. At first, Blair let him dote, considering Blair was too tired to do anything else except lay around. The next day, however, Blair got antsy and wanted out of bed and do the university work that had been put off while he recuperated, but Jim was adamant. "The doctor said you were to be a slug for a week, no work." he had said.

And now that Jim had gone on his errand, leaving Blair on the couch to rest, the young man felt alone. His cough had subsided and he was able to walk without much assistance, although Jim insisted that he stay off his sprained ankle. His cracked ribs stiill gave him some problems an discomfort, but as long as he didn't breathe too deeply, he was ok.

He laid on the couch with a blanket over his sweatpants. He had carefully put on his sweat jacket to keep his torso warm and cover his taped midsection. Now he enjoyed the peace and quiet. Jim had been smothering him since he was released from the hospital.

He lay there for a while, thinking about all that had happened over the last few days when there was a knock at the door. The energy he had mustered in getting dressed enough to move to the living room had been spent in the move, so he yelled. "Yeah?"

"It's Taggert."

"It's open, Joel!"

The large man opened the door and walked in and said "Hey buddy, How's it going?" He walked over and sat on the couch opposite the recuperating anthropologist.

"Good Joel. What brings you here?"

"I was passing by and thought I'd stop and see how you were doing. We all miss you at the station. Simon's been a real grump without you to harass." Joel said with a smile.

Blair returned the smile.

Joel's smile disappeared and added a serious tone when he spoke next. "Seriously though, Blair, I wanted to also tell you if you *ever* have any problems with anyone harassing you whether it has to do with a case or not, you need to trust us. Jim, Simon and I, will *always* be around if you need our help. Heck, half the department will be there." With that last statement, he smiled once more and laid a hand on Blair's shoulder.

Blair looked down at his blanket for a moment before facing the larger man again. "Thanks, Joel. I appreciate it. Believe me, Jim's been lecturing me about trusting you all more." Blair patted the hand on his shoulder. "Thanks, it means a lot to me, Joel." He said, looking directly in the eyes of the bomb squad captain.

"Just remember it next time, will ya?" With that, Taggert got up and turned to leave.

"I will." Blair promised. "By the way, Jim wouldn't tell me anything about how the case closing went. Said I shouldn't worry about it." He looked up at the large man. "Did you find Markham's body?"

Joel took a deep breath, turned back around and said, "We've been through every inch of the debris and *then some* and there was no evidence he was in the building."

Blair's face blanched even paler. "You mean he could've survived it??" he asked incredulously.

Joel just shrugged. "He could've been blown to pieces and we'd never find a trace of him." Then he changed his tone and tried to cheer the young man up. "Jim's right, though, there's nothing for you to worry about."

Blair just looked at the blanket covering his legs and nodded. "I just can't understand the way he did what he did." he said sadly.

"I know it's hard to accept right now, Blair, but in time you will figure it all out." Joel assured him, then started towards the door. "Well, I need to be going now, tell JIM," he said, a littler louder, "that I stopped by, will ya?"

Blair looked puzzled at the volume in the man's voice. "Sure, Joel, and thanks for everything, man."

Joel walked to the door and then turned and said "Get well soon kid we all MISS YOU!" With that, Joel opened the door and the word "Surprise" was yelled. Then people started filing into the loft, with Jim leading them in.

"Hi, Chief!" Jim said, smiling broadly.

"What the... ?" laughed Blair as the people came filtering in.

Simon and Brown wheeled in a cake. "Get well soon, HairBoy," said Brown.

"Hi, Brown! How's the head?" Blair asked.

Brown ran a hand carefully over his head. "It's better, nothing nine stitches didn't fix." he grinned.

"Sorry about what happened." he added softly.

Blair waved a hand. "Hey, don't worry about it. I'm just glad we're all still here."

Brown smiled, nodded and walked off to talk to others. Jim, Simon, Taggert and Dr. Summers then came over.

"Thanks guys." smiled Blair, then looked at the doctor with surprise. "Dr. Summers! You're here also?"

"I'm here to make sure you take it easy." she said with a smile and sat down on the edge of the couch. "Besides, you promised me a date, remember?"

Blair smiled and Jim and Simon walked away, rolling their eyes.


Several hours had passed and slowly people said their goodbyes and started to leave. As Jim saw the last of the people out, the phone rang. Blair reached on the table and answered.


There was only silence on the other end. But just before Blair hung up, he thought heard a laugh on the other end. Then the dial tone.

Jim walked over to Blair, who hung up the phone with a pale, worried look on his face. "Who was that?"

Blair shook himself and looked at the detective. "Uh, wrong number." said Blair then reached for the remote and switched on the television, enjoying the rest of the night with his Sentinel and friend.

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