Rating: NC-17

Pairings: J/B


Warnings: m/m, AU

Archive category: Alternate Universes, First Times

Disclaimers: All recognizable Sentinel characters are copyright of Pet Fly Productions and Paramount. No infringement intended on my part.... just doing some wishful thinking. :-)

Summary: When KCDE news reporter Blair Sandburg teams up with Detective Jim Ellison, he finds himself in the middle of a deadly situation.

Date completed: October 4, 2002


Behind the Badge

By Barbara Nice-Miller


“Without love…what is life?”

Def Leppard, ‘Long, Long Way to Go’


“…and thanks to the iron-clad testimony of Detective Jim Ellison, convictions were handed down today for the three men accused of robbing four local jewelry stores.  Sentencing hearings for Lee Brackett, David Lash and Brad Ventriss will be held later this month.

And so the city sleeps safe once again, thanks to the vigilance and determination of the Cascade Police Department. 

This is Blair Sandburg, reporting for KCDE news.  Back to you, Don.”

Don Haas nodded.  “Thank you, Blair.  We look forward to your next ‘Behind the Badge’ special report.  And in other news…”

Blair waited till the “All clear-you’re out” message came through his earpiece before sliding off his chair behind the news desk.  He unclipped his earpiece, laid it on the chair and strode quickly off the set.

Joel Taggart, KCDE station manager, met Blair in the hallway, smiling at his top reporter. He clapped his large hand on Blair’s shoulder.  “Wonderful job, as always, Blair.  Excellent segment.  Nice camera work during the arrest.”

Blair smiled back.  “Thanks, Joel.  I felt really good about this one, too. Have I thanked you for letting me create ‘Behind the Badge’?”

Joel laughed.  “Only after every segment you wrap up.”  Then he sobered.  “But I really wish you’d reconsider working solo.  Rafe has offered again to be your cameraman.”

Blair shook his head.  “You know why I work alone, Joel.” He held up his hand when Joel started to speak.  “But I’ll keep Rafe’s offer in mind, Ok?” He glanced at the clock on the wall.  “Oh man, I’ve gotta run. I want to catch Jim before he leaves the station.”

“Ok, Blair.  Keep up the good work.  ‘Behind the Badge’ is the 5 o’clock news top segment and I want to keep it that way.”

Blair smiled and lightly smacked Joel on the shoulder before jogging off down the hall towards his office.  Once there he closed the door, dropped down into his chair and picked up the phone with one hand, while loosening his tie with the other.  He hit speed dial button 1 and waited for an answer on the other end.


“Jim!  Hey man, did you see the spot tonight?  It came together beautifully, don’t you think? The takedown and arrest was the piece de resistance.  Really well orchestrated.  And I had no doubt that you’d nail ‘em in court today...”

“Whoa, Chief, slow down there.”

Blair laughed.  “Sorry, Jim.  Just pumped from a great end to the case.  Speaking of which, let’s go celebrate your latest victory.  Let me take you to dinner.”

“I can’t right now, Sandburg.  I’ve got a huge pile on my desk…”

“Aww, c’mon.  Even cops have to eat.  And besides, it’s kind of a special day, too.”

“Really?  Why’s that?”

“Well…it’s kind of our anniversary.  It’s been six months since we met during ‘Cascade’s Finest’. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten that.”

“Forgotten ‘Cascade’s Finest’?  Oh, no, Chief, I’ll never forget that. Wendy Hawthorne…”

“Oh c’mon, she wasn’t that bad,” Blair interrupted.

Jim just cleared his throat.

“Ok, so she was,” Blair admitted with a laugh.  “But you’ve got to admit it was a memorable experience and one worth having dinner to reminisce over…”

“Sandburg, if I say yes will you stop rambling?”


“So where do I meet you?”

“Amalfi’s at 6:30?”

“I’ll be there.”

Jim hung up the phone with the barest of smiles gracing his face.  Blair Sandburg - a man worthy of an investigative news segment on himself.  In the six months that Jim had known Blair, he barely knew anything about the man’s personal life.  But being an intensely private man himself, Jim had never pushed.  All he knew was that Blair was originally from Cascade and had attended Rainier University, majoring in journalism.  He left after graduation for a job at WBBM in Chicago before suddenly quitting and returning to Cascade a year ago. 

They had met when the Mayor and Chief of Police Warren decided that a news crew should tag along with Cascade’s Cop of the Year for a special feature on him.  Jim, of course, had wanted none of it, but his captain, Simon Banks, said the decision had already been made for him. 

So the crew shows up, headed by one Wendy Hawthorne and her cameraman, Connor. And in the background, another man, Blair Sandburg - new to KCDE and learning the ropes from Wendy to be another ‘Cascade’s Finest’ reporter, profiling some of the city’s upstanding citizens.  One look at the young, blue eyed man with the long, curly hair and Jim Ellison was lost.

The week-long shoot was a disaster, with Wendy and Connor getting all of them into one mess after another, trying to solve Jim’s case on their own.  The only good to come out of it was that Blair seemed to be as attracted to him as he was to Blair.  He exhibited all the signs, but each and every time Jim had asked him out he had turned him down.  Like he said, Blair was worthy of an investigative news segment himself.

Not long after the piece on Jim aired, Blair, intrigued and impressed with law enforcement, had gotten the station manager to give him his own segment, ‘Behind the Badge’.  He wanted to report on high profile cases by following along with a detective and filming the process of an investigation, from beginning to end. In this case the detective he had in mind was Cascade’s two time Cop of the Year award winner, James Ellison.  As a trade-off for full access, Blair and KCDE gave the police department some much needed positive P.R. 

Externally, Jim had to put up some kind of token protest, seeing as he was the department’s lone wolf, and hadn’t been able to work with anyone since he was a rookie detective partnered with Jack Pendergrast.

Internally, Jim was thrilled when Simon told him about the idea.  He liked Blair and wanted to spend more time with him, wanted a relationship with him.  Then there was the matter of his Sentinel abilities.  All five of his senses were heightened beyond normal humans, a result of a failed military operation that left him stranded in the jungles of Peru for 18 months, five years ago.

Only Simon knew of his abilities, having seen Jim do too many unexplainable things until he finally confronted Jim about it.  In a way, it was a relief to finally tell someone, but he swore Simon to secrecy.  What if the general public found out about him?  Spending his life as a media freak, poked and prodded by scientists, was not how he wanted to live his life.

He struggled everyday with his senses - they spiked out of control or sometimes faded away altogether, without warning.  Headaches were his constant companion, his body unable to cope with all of the added stimulus.  And on frequent occasions he seemed to go into some kind of a trance, or zone.  These episodes could last anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, the longest so far.

But the strangest thing happened when he met Blair.  His very presence seemed to be a balm to his hyper senses.  And his voice…it relaxed Jim in a way nothing else could. Blair had no idea he was helping Jim just by being there, a port in a sensory storm, so to speak. And until Jim figured out why Blair had this effect on him, he wanted to keep the young reporter close, for his own sanity, and hopefully….something more.






Jim arrived at the restaurant before Blair, so he’d gone ahead and gotten them a table. Now he sat watching as Blair approached, enjoying the view.  He’d released his hair from it’s customary “on air” ponytail, much to Jim’s delight, and he’d put his two silver hoop earrings in as well. He’d also changed from his suit and tie into a more comfortable outfit of snug, well worn jeans, a gray henley and gym shoes. His glasses were hanging from the vee in his shirt. All in all, quite the handsome package in Jim’s opinion.

Blair pulled out the chair across from Jim and sat down.  “Hey, Jim!  Thanks for getting us a table. It’s getting pretty busy in here.”

“No problem. Since you said you’re buying, I wanted to make sure we got a spot,” Jim replied with a smile.

Blair chuckled. “That’s right, anything you want. My treat.”

“Well, aren’t we being generous tonight. You get Joel to give you a raise or something?”

“Ha, I wish!  Nope, just feeling good. Aren’t you? You closed another case today.”

Jim shrugged. “Just tired, I guess. Testifying for most of the day can take it out of you.”

“Well, just sit back and enjoy the evening, Ok?” Blair leaned forward and grasped Jim’s hand. “We’re here to relax. Think you can do that?”

Jim’s whole hand began to tingle at the contact and he let out a slow breath. He glanced down at their hands and back up again. “Yeah, yeah, I think I can do that…”

“Excuse me - “

Blair withdrew his hand at the waiter’s approach, and Jim wanted to throttle the man for the interruption.

“Can I get you gentlemen something to drink?”



Dinner did turn out to be a relaxed affair with good drink, good food and good company. Conversation flowed easily between the two men, who now sat sipping coffee.

Jim set his cup down on the table and leaned back in his chair, arms crossed over his chest.

“I hate to break the mood we’ve got going here, Chief, but we need to talk about work,” Jim began. “I’m on another case.”

Blair sat forward, eager, forearms resting on the tabletop. “Already? Boy, Simon doesn’t waste any time, does he? What’s he got you on this time?”

“Bank robberies,” Jim replied.

“You mean the one that happened this afternoon at Cascade Savings and Loan?” the reporter interrupted.

Jim nodded. “It’s the fifth robbery in the past month. They started in Bremerton, then moved north to Everett. Then north again to here in Cascade. They’ve done two jobs in each city before moving on.” Jim paused. “They’ve shot the guards at each bank. Thank god none of them have died, but I’m sure that was pure luck. They don’t seem to be aiming to wound. They’re just in and out so fast, the guards have been able to get medical attention fairly quickly.”

“So if their pattern holds, they’ve got one more job to do here,” Blair interjected.

“Yes,” Jim agreed. “That’s why after my interviews tomorrow with the tellers and customers that were present, I’ll be stopping at the rest of the local banks in town to check out their security.”

Blair shook his head. “I can’t believe all the different types of crimes I’ve covered with you in the last six months.” He held up his hand and ticked them off one by one. “Jewel thieves, arson, poaching, drug dealing, gang wars, hate crimes…”

Jim raised his coffee mug in a mock toast. “And that’s why they call Cascade the most dangerous city in America.”



Dinner finished, the two men began walking to Blair’s car, parked near Jim’s loft, a few blocks away.

“So I take it that that chicken parmesan was better than what Brackett and his gang served you for dinner?” Blair joked as they walked, both enjoying the warm autumn night, down near the docks.

“You can say that again, Chief,” Jim replied, then sighed. “I hate undercover work. Always on edge, playing a role, hiding out in one crappy location after another.” He looked pointedly at Blair. “Missing your friends and hoping you’ll get out in one piece so you can see them again.”

Blair smiled. “I missed you, too, man.”


Blair nodded, then laughed. “Yeah, the Corvair was in the shop again. I needed a ride.” He lightly punched Jim in the shoulder, but before he could pull his hand back, Jim caught it and held on, stopping both men.

Blair’s smile vanished and he grew serious. “I was worried about you,” he softly admitted. “Your job is dangerous enough without voluntarily putting yourself in the midst of psychos like Lash and Ventriss.”

Jim shrugged, still holding onto Blair’s hand. “Goes with the territory of being a cop.”

“Yeah, well…I was still worried. I’m glad everything turned out Ok. I, uh, I did miss you. Really.”

Jim gave a small smile. “Thanks, Chief.”  He nodded his head down the block to the entrance to his loft. “Come up and have a beer with me?”

Jim could almost see the internal war Blair was waging with himself over Jim’s offer, and Sentinel senses detected an immediate, sharp spike in Blair’s heart rate. Jim held his breath, hoping this time Blair would say yes.  But his hopes were dashed once again as Blair gently slid his hand out from under Jim’s and backed up.

“Umm…thanks, man, but I…um...I’ve got some things I need to finish tonight.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets, his eyes never quite meeting Jim’s.  “So I’ll, uh, see you tomorrow morning, Ok?”

“Yeah, tomorrow morning,” Jim confirmed, disappointment lacing his voice.

Blair nodded his head once, then turned and quickly jogged off towards his car. Jim watched him go, confused as always at Blair’s mixed signals.

[The man lets me hold his hand for a good five minutes, admits that he missed me and was worried about me, then backs off once again instead of going forward]

Jim sighed and looked down before turning and heading for his dark, empty home.



//The panther and the wolf ran through the forest side by side, covering the terrain easily with long, loping strides.  They stopped to drink together at a stream, quenching their thirst with the cool water.  The panther turned its head, blue eyes gleaming, then mischievously tackled the wolf to the ground.  They rolled over and over on the forest floor, playfully nipping at each other.  Finally coming to a rest, the panther found itself half covering the wolf.  The big cat began cleaning its furry companion, lovingly washing away the dirt with its big, pink tongue.  The wolf allowed the attention for a brief time before wiggling out from under the panther. It stood and looked down at the cat with it’s own blue eyes before turning and running away.  The panther tried to stand and follow, but found it could not move.  The animal let out a frustrated howl as the wolf disappeared into the forest…//

Jim sat up straight in bed, awakening from his dream, expecting to find himself surrounded by a forest.  Blinking, he realized he was still at home, in his bed.  He let out a long breath and briefly closed his eyes.

[Not again,] he thought, absentmindedly rubbing his shoulder. [Incacha, I wish you were here]

Glancing at the bedside clock and seeing the glowing red numbers reading 3:03am, Jim laid down and tried to go back to sleep, attempting to forget the dream once again.



The next morning at 9am sharp, Blair appeared at Jim’s desk in the Major Crimes bullpen, television camera in hand.

“Hey, Jim,” Blair greeted the detective with a smile, none of last night’s hesitation or nervousness present.

Jim glanced up from his paperwork. “Sandburg,” he acknowledged with a nod. “All set?”

“Yep. Who’s up first?”

“Gene McClelland, age 61.  He’s the bank manager. We’ve got him in Interview One.”

“Ok, let’s roll!” Blair replied enthusiastically, then practically bounced away, already hot on the scent of a new assignment.

Jim could do nothing but shake his head and watch him go.



Jim knocked on the door of Interview One then stepped inside, Blair right behind him.

“Mr. McClelland?” Jim addressed the gray haired man seated behind the table. “I’m Detective Ellison and this is Blair Sandburg with KCDE news.”

The bank manager’s eyes widened behind his wire rimmed glasses when he saw Blair and he quickly nodded his head.

“Oh,  yes, yes. I’ve seen you on TV,” the small man in the brown suit and bowtie stated. “Your special reports are always most insightful, young man.”

“Thank you, Mr. McClelland,” Blair replied with a smile and a handshake. “It’s nice to know that I’ve got a fan.”  Blair placed a piece of paper and a pen on the table. “Mr. McClelland, I’m working with Detective Ellison on these bank robberies for my next ‘Behind the Badge’ segment. With your permission, I’d like to film this interview for possible inclusion in my report.”

The bank manager put his hand on his chest. “Me? On television? My, my, my missus just won’t believe it.” He held his hand out. “I’d be glad to sign your form, Mr. Sandburg.”

“Thank you, Mr. McClelland,” Blair replied, sliding the document over to the older man. “I appreciate your cooperation.”

The document signed, the three men settled in for the interview.  Blair set up his large camera on a tripod at the far end of the room, while Jim prepared the tape recorder in the middle of the table.

“Ok, let’s get started,” Jim stated, then pressed the record button on the machine. “The date is Wednesday, September 4th.  Present in the room are Detective James Ellison, Mr. Gene McClelland and Mr. Blair Sandburg.”  Jim paused for a moment then began again. “Mr. McClelland,  I know you gave a preliminary report to the uniformed officers yesterday, but I need to hear your account of the events for myself. Please take your time and be as specific as you can.”

McClelland nodded and took a deep breath. “It was around 1:30 yesterday afternoon. Things were pretty quiet at the bank. The lunch crowd was gone, there were only four customers in the building. I had just come out from the safety deposit box vault and was heading to my office when it happened.” He stopped and swallowed. “Three men burst in through the front doors, all of them with guns. Everyone froze in shock except for Henry—“

“That would be Henry Schafer, your security guard?” Jim wanted to clarify.

McClelland nodded. “Yes, that’s him. Poor Henry…”

“Go on, please continue,” Jim gently urged.

McClelland took another deep breath. “Henry ran straight for them, but before he’d taken more than a few steps…they shot him. They just…shot him…” he trailed off, obviously disturbed.

“Mr. McClelland, do you know that Henry is going to fully recover from his wound?” Jim asked.

“I do, and thank god for that. Brave young man like that, trying to protect all of us, doesn’t deserve to lose his life at the hands of some madman.”

“Can you tell me what happened next?”

“There were screams from just about everyone after that. I tried to get to Henry, but one of the other men started shooting rapidly. He shattered nearly all of the teller windows. Everyone dropped to the floor.” He reached up and loosened his tie. “Then the first man, the one who shot Henry, came right up to me. He grabbed my arm and pulled me up.”

“Did he say anything to you?”

McClelland nodded. “He said, ‘The coin vault, now.’ Then he started shoving me towards the back.”

“The coin vault?” Jim prompted.

“Yes, most every bank has two vaults,” McClelland explained. “One has a time lock on it. That vault usually contains approximately 50 million dollars, depending on the size of the bank. And not even I as the manager can override the code.  The other vault is what we call our coin vault, though it does contain bills as well. There’s usually around 3 million in cash and coins in there at any given time. This vault is accessible all day long for normal, everyday bank business. Myself and the head teller know the code to open it.”

“And this is the vault they wanted access to?”

“They did.  The man pushed me to the vault door and held his gun to my head. After what I saw him do to Henry, I had no doubt that he’d kill me if I didn’t comply.”

“What did he have you do?”

“After I had punched in the code to the vault and opened the door, he pushed me inside. He threw me the large duffel bag he was carrying and told me to fill it, which I did. When it was full he motioned for me to throw it back to him. When he had it, he shut the vault door and locked me inside. And that’s where I remained until the police showed up and let me out.”

“Can you describe the three men?”

McClelland sighed. “Not really, I’m afraid.  Everything happened so fast...”

“I understand,” Jim replied, “but please do your best.”

“Well, they were all fairly tall, around six feet, I’d guess.  The man who pushed me in the vault was the biggest.  Heaviest, I mean.  Probably 250 pounds.  The other two…just average build.  I couldn’t see any of their faces. They were all wearing black ski masks. They were dressed all in black, actually.  Shirts, pants, long trench coats, gloves…”

“What about their voices?  Anything distinguishing about them?”

“Hmm…only the one man spoke, and then only two short sentences to me. I just don’t remember anything remarkable about the way he talked, I’m sorry.”

“That’s Ok, you’ve done a great job,” Jim reassured the bank manager.  “I’ll be at the bank around 3:30 this afternoon to look over the crime scene.  Could you meet me there in case I have any further questions?”

“Of course, detective. Anything I can do to help catch these men. Oh, I dropped off the surveillance video to your captain on my way in.”

“Thank you, we’ll be going over that tape very closely.”  Jim reached over and stopped the tape recorder, then stood, holding out his hand to Mr. McClelland.  The bank manager rose, too, shaking Jim’s hand.  “Can you find your way out?” Jim inquired.

“Yes, no problem.  I’ll see you this afternoon, Detective Ellison.”

Blair stepped out from behind his camera, the red light going off, as Mr. McClelland left the room.  “Sounds like it’s the same crew.”

Jim agreed, nodding.  “Yeah, same M.O.  Burst in, shoot the guard, terrify the customers with random shooting, then head straight for the smaller vault.  In and out in about six minutes.  They’re good,” Jim conceded.

“But not as good as you, Mr. Cop of the Year,” Blair smiled. “They don’t stand a chance now that you’re on the case.”

Jim chuckled. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chief.” He looked down at his clipboard, then tilted his head towards Blair’s camera.  “We’ve got seven more interviews ahead of us. Three tellers and four customers. Got enough film in that thing?”

Blair draped his arm across his camera, smirking.  “Loaded and ready to go. Bring ‘em on.”



Blair sat down heavily in the interview chair hours later with an exhausted sigh.  “That was the last of them, right?”

“Yep,” Jim replied, equally exhausted.  He flipped back through his notes. The interviews with the tellers - Annie, Marilyn and Debra - and the customers - Daniel, Kathleen, Cade and Holly - had been long, but worth the effort. All had recounted the events exactly as Gene McClelland had described, then continued on after the bank manager had been locked in the vault.

Annie had hit the silent alarm moments after the robbers entered the bank, her quick actions had the police already on their way. After the first man returned with a full duffel bag and no bank manager, he signaled his companions and they began shooting in the air, making sure everyone remained on the floor as they made their escape.  The moment the men were out the door, everyone burst into action.

Marilyn called 911 to summon an ambulance for Henry, while Annie ran into the back to find out what had happened to Gene McClelland. Daniel and Cade had run out the doors after the robbers and succeeded in getting a description of the car and a partial license plate number. Debra, Kathleen and Holly did what they could to make Henry comfortable and tried to stop the bleeding from his abdominal wound until the paramedics arrived.

Jim closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose. He could feel a headache coming on. The gentle pressure of a pair of hands on his shoulders prompted him to blow out a long breath, the tension trying to leave his body, and he slowly opened his eyes.  Blair was looking down at him, a small smile on the young man’s face.

“Relax, man. Take a break,” Blair encouraged. “Tell you what - why don’t you find Simon and get the surveillance tape, and I’ll run out and grab us some lunch and bring it back. We can watch the tape while we eat.”

Jim lifted his eyebrows in a silent question and Blair laughed.  “Yeah, I’ll get Wonderburger.”  Then he shook his head.  “Why you don’t just shoot the lard straight into your veins and get it over with, I’ll never know.”

“This way is much more fun, Chief.  And besides, I hate needles,” Jim answered with a wink.



Jim wiped his mouth with his napkin, then tossed it onto the table with a satisfied sigh. “That really hit the spot, Chief, thanks.”

Blair gathered up the remnants of their lunch and dropped everything into the wastebasket. “No problem.  Like I said, even cops gotta eat.” He jerked his thumb at the now dark television screen. “Well, what do you think?”

“I wish I could say that after watching the tape I now know who these guys are, but I can’t. Dressed in black from head to toe, only speaking twice - not much to go on. Only the height and weight of the first perp makes him remarkable at all.  But that’s hardly a good enough description to start looking through mug books.”

“To the bank then, Batman?”

“To the bank, Boy Wonder.”



Gene McClelland was already at the bank, waiting outside when they arrived and he quickly unlocked the doors for them.

“Thank you again for meeting us here, sir,” Jim greeted him.

“My pleasure, detective.”

Jim stood at the front doors and surveyed the scene in front of him.  Broken glass from the shattered teller windows covered the left side of the lobby.  The portable stands and ropes used to line up customers had been knocked over.  To his right was a fairly large bloodstain on the tile floor where Henry Schafer had fallen. Surrounding it were various types of empty packaging from IV fluid, needles and gauze the paramedics had used.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw Blair swing his large camera up onto his shoulder and turn his small spotlight on.  The young man was ready to get to work. Jim had to admit that having a reporter along did have one advantage - Blair recorded everything, making it much easier for Jim to go back and review any aspect of the case.

Jim turned to the bank manager. “Mr. McClelland, can you show us to the coin vault?”

“Oh, of course,” he responded.

“Just please be careful of where you walk. Try and stay in a straight line. This is still a crime scene.”

McClelland nodded. “I understand. This way, please.”

Jim followed the bank manager, with Blair close behind him, panning his camera from left to right, missing nothing.  The three men walked carefully through the lobby to the back of the bank, passing the large time-locked main vault until they came to the smaller coin vault.

McClelland gestured with his hand.  “This is it, detective.”

Jim nodded almost distractedly, his heightened senses already kicking in, searching for something, anything, to help identify at least one of the robbers.  He stood just in the doorway of the vault, where the man would have stood to throw the duffel bag in to McClelland.  And yes…there was something there.  Jim concentrated harder, pushing his senses to identify…an odor…that didn’t make sense here….what was that smell…?

“-im?  Jim!  You Ok, man?”

Jim jerked, shaking his head, coming back to himself.  Blair’s hand was on his arm, squeezing it, trying to get his attention.  Jim closed his eyes briefly.  [Not again…]

He opened his eyes and looked away from Blair’s questioning gaze, having seen that same look more than he’d like in the past six months.  Damn, he had to be more careful when using his senses around the reporter.  Three or four times now he’d pushed himself too hard and had one of those zones around Blair.  Hopefully he’d only been “gone” for a minute or two.

“Do you allow smoking back here, Mr. McClelland?” Jim suddenly asked out of the blue, catching both Blair and the bank manager off guard with his odd question.

“Heavens, no,” McClelland replied. “There’s no smoking at all in the entire building.  Why do you ask?”

“I can detect a cigarette odor right here,” Jim answered automatically, wincing internally as both Blair and McClelland sniffed the air, nearly positive they wouldn’t be able to smell it.  And sure enough…

“I don’t smell anything, detective…”

“I have a very good sense of smell,” Jim explained, not quite lying.  “Do any of your employees who were working yesterday smoke, or more specifically, are trying to quit smoking?”

McClelland thought for a minute.  “No…none of them smoke at all.”

“What are you getting at, Jim?” Blair asked, intrigued.

“One of the clerks down in Records, Lisa, is trying to quit smoking and she’s using those herbal cigarettes.  They’ve got a very distinct odor to them.  And I can smell that same odor right here.  If none of the bank employees are using them, that means the perp is.”

Blair nodded, impressed.  “So now we’ve got size and smell to help identify the guy.” He smiled and clapped Jim on the arm.  “Great job, man.” 

But instead of acknowledging the complement, Jim just looked uncomfortable and turned away, leaving Blair and McClelland to look at him quizzically.



The men spent the better part of an hour at the bank.  Jim went over the building with a fine tooth comb while Blair filmed him doing it.  But the P.D. forensic team had been thorough and Jim was unable to find even a fiber the criminals might have left behind.  And for a Sentinel, that was saying something as to how good the crime scene folks were.

“Ok, Sandburg, that’s it,” Jim finally decided.  “Forensics has this place taken care of. We’ll check in with them later.”

“Sounds good,” Blair replied, turning off his camera.  “What’s next?”

“I need to start making my rounds to my half of the other local banks, talk to the managers, the security guards, check out their security, especially their cameras.  Give them a warning that they could be next.”

“How long do they go between bank jobs?” Blair asked.

“Only three days, if they stick to their previous pattern, so we’ve got a lot of ground to cover today and tomorrow.”

“Then I guess we’d better get a move on, eh?” The young reporter swung his camera down off his shoulder and started for the door, the detective right behind him.



“Well, so far so good,” Blair stated as he climbed into the passenger seat of Jim’s truck, a Ford F150, complete with lightbar on the roof.  They’d just finished their second stop, at Orion Savings, and were on their way to their last stop of the day, Rainier Federal Bank.

But instead of agreeing, Jim merely shrugged one shoulder, climbing in the truck and shutting the door.

“What?” Blair prompted.  “All of the employees were well aware of what happened at Cascade Savings and Loan.  The managers had already had meetings with them, telling them not to antagonize the robbers in any way, just give them what they want.  Emphasizing their lives over money. And you went over their security measures.  All of their cameras are working properly, as are the silent alarms. So what’s bothering you?”

“It was the guards.  They were a little too on edge for my taste.”

“Well what do you expect?  They know they could be the next one shot.”

“I just don’t want them keyed up and trigger happy and some innocent person dies because they reached in their pocket for a pen and were shot for it.”

Blair paused, thinking.  “I guess the only thing you can do is trust their instincts.”

Jim shook his head. “No, what I can do is catch these guys before it comes to that.”



Rainier Federal Bank

6:30 pm


Jim pulled the F150 into a parking space in front of their last stop for the evening.  He turned to Blair, who was busy organizing all of the waivers he’d had signed today.  His head was bent down slightly, some of his hair falling forward and obscuring his face from Jim’s view.  The older man had to clench his hands on the steering wheel so as to not reach over and push the long, curly strands behind the young reporter’s ear.

Jim cleared his throat. “Hey, Chief, you want to get some dinner when we’re through here?” Loathe for his day with Blair to end, he hoped Blair would say yes, extending it for another hour or so.

Blair looked up from his paperwork. “Sure, sounds good.” He shook a finger at Jim. “But I’m not going to that German place again. I can’t eat there. You know that. They got animal heads all over the wall.” He gave a dramatic shudder. “I can’t eat with an audience, man.”

Jim laughed and raised his hands in mock surrender. “Ok, Ok.  How ‘bout Charlie’s instead?”

“Deal,” Blair replied, then opened the truck’s door and hopped out. But right before he closed the door he said to Jim, “And you’re buying.”

“Hey!” Jim quickly opened his door and got out, snagging his jacket from the backseat. “Wait a minute…”  But Blair was already moving through the door to the bank, smirking back at Jim.



Although the bank was closing in about an hour, there was still a fair number of customers in the lobby.  Jim and Blair made their way through them to the bank manager’s office, with Blair getting some strange stares, carrying his television camera up on his shoulder like he was.

Jim knocked on the door and it was opened by a tall, good looking, blond woman dressed in a smart navy blue business suit.

“Ms. French?” Jim asked.

The blond woman nodded.  “And you must be Detective Ellison.”  She stepped back from the door.  “Please, come in.”

Jim and Blair entered the office and found another young woman, brunette this time, sitting in a chair on the other side of Ms. French’s desk.

Jim turned to introduce Blair to the women.  “This is—“

“Blair Sandburg!” The brunette woman stood up quickly from her chair, holding out her hand to Blair, a wide smile on her face. “I watch your ‘Behind the Badge’ specials all the time. I can’t believe I’m meeting you in person.”

Blair smiled and shook her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, too—“

“Sheryl,” the brunette supplied, still smiling adoringly at Blair. Jim fought the urge to roll his eyes. This happened everywhere they went. Blair was the hottest thing - literally - to hit television news in a long, long time. And every female, and some males, in Cascade knew who he was on sight.

“Sheryl is my head teller,” Ms. French explained.  “If I’m out of the bank for any reason, I leave Sheryl in charge, so I thought it appropriate that she join us for our meeting.”

Jim nodded. “I agree.”  He indicated that they should all take a seat. “All right, let’s get down to business then. I’m sure you’re both aware of the robbery that took place yesterday at Cascade Savings and Loan…”



Forty-five minutes later, Jim and Blair concluded their meeting with Ms. French and Sheryl. Jim had also spoken with Chris, the security guard, and checked the bank’s silent alarm system and surveillance cameras.

It had been a long day, and Jim was looking forward to spending some one on one time with Blair at dinner. Making their way past a sudden rush of last minute customers in the lobby, Jim turned to speak to Blair, but stopped himself as a familiar scent caught his attention. Sentinel senses instantly on alert, he came to an abrupt halt, causing Blair to bump into him.

“Jim? What is it?” Blair asked, as Jim turned his head quickly from side to side, scanning the bank lobby.

Jim fought to distinguish the same herbal cigarette odor he’d smelled at Cascade Savings and Loan today from the multitude of shampoos, deodorants and perfumes surrounding him, but was unable to pinpoint where it was coming from.

“Too many damn smells,” he muttered, frustrated once again at his minimal control over his abilities. He needed to get out of the building and deal with each person one at a time.

“What did you say?” Blair spoke up.

“Nothing,” Jim replied quickly. “We need to get outside, now,” Jim commanded quietly, putting his hand on Blair’s back, urging him towards the door.

Sensing Jim’s urgency, Blair complied, asking quietly once again, “What’s going on?”

But Jim didn’t answer, concentrating on getting them both outside without drawing any undue attention. Once out the doors, Jim positioned them up against the side of the building, the detective closest to the entrance, Blair on his left side.

“I want you to stand here and don’t move, don’t make a sound,” Jim directed Blair, his tone of voice brooking no argument.

“What—“ Blair started, but trailed off when Jim unzipped his jacket, reached inside and unsnapped the strap on his shoulder holster.

Blair’s eyes widened, realization dawning. “You think one of them is in there, don’t you?” he demanded excitedly.

“Didn’t I just tell you to be quiet?” Jim shot back.

Just then a patron left the bank and Jim flattened them against the wall, his arm across Blair’s chest. He inhaled deeply as the man exited the building, closing his eyes, concentrating.  After a few moments he shook his head, disappointed.

[Nothing. And really, what are the chances that whoever the smell belongs to is part of the robbery team?] Jim asked himself. [Anyone could be using those cigarettes.]  But his cop instincts overrode his doubts and he remained against the building.

With only 15 minutes left until closing, the final customers began filing out fairly close apart. Although Jim had removed his arm from Blair’s chest, his hand still remained on the young man’s arm, kind of lingering there. One thing Jim had learned about his senses was that, if he remembered, he tried to…distract himself somewhat, so that he didn’t fall into one of those zones by concentrating too hard on one sense. Touch seemed to work the best. It grounded him somehow, if he could rub something between his fingers. And with Blair working so closely with him these last six months, more often than not, it was the reporter himself that Jim used to ground himself. And even though he knew Blair was bursting to ask what he was doing each time Jim touched his shoulder, or held onto his shirt, to his credit, the reporter remained silent, realizing the detective was in the midst of an important part of an investigation. And when the case was over, Blair was always much too hyper and preoccupied putting together his next ‘Behind the Badge’ segment to remember to ask Jim about his strange behavior.  So far, at least.

And sometimes, when Jim touched Blair, his senses became so sharp, so focused…it was almost like he was back in Peru, training with—

Another male customer left the bank, bringing Jim back from his thoughts. He closed his eyes and sniffed…his eyes flew open and he stiffened, his hand tightening on Blair’s arm.  Jim stepped away from the side of the building, calling out to the man.

“Excuse me, sir?”

The man turned, somewhat startled. Jim sized him up in an instant. Late 30’s, hard, chiseled features, short spiky blond hair, piercing green eyes. And he was the right height and build from the description of the first robber. 

“Yeah? What d’you want?” the man practically growled, eyes shifting back and forth between Jim and Blair.

Jim reached his right hand towards his back jeans pocket, intending to remove his badge, but his movement caused his jacket to gape open. The man’s eyes lit upon Jim’s gun hanging from his shoulder holster and before anyone could blink, he was tearing off down the sidewalk.

“Stay here!” Jim yelled to Blair and raced off after the fleeing man.

But Blair was already in motion. “Yeah, right,” he muttered as he chased both men, slinging his camera up on his shoulder and turning it on in one fluid motion.

Slowed down by the bulky camera, Jim and the man built up a good lead on Blair. Turning the corner at the end of the block, the young reporter was just in time to see the man dart inside an old apartment building, Jim still in hot pursuit. Putting on a burst of speed, Blair started to close the distance, running through the doorway of the 3-story building not too far behind Jim.  As he pounded up the stairs, he could hear Jim yelling at the man to stop, and being completely ignored.

He reached the landing on the top floor and saw Jim slam through the door that opened up onto the roof.  The door closed itself right before Blair could reach it, and the reporter hit it full force with his shoulder, running at top speed as he was down the hallway.  The heavy metal door flew open and Blair nearly dropped his camera as he stumbled through the doorway and out on the roof. He slid on the loose gravel for a moment, off balance, before getting his feet back under him. He quickly looked around for Jim and the man they were chasing.

What he saw took his breath away and nearly made his heart stop beating.

The blond man was running like a madman across the roof, heading straight for the edge, not slowing down. Reaching the ledge, he planted one foot…and jumped.  He sailed through the air, arms pin wheeling, desperately trying to clear the distance between this building and the one next door.  And unbelievably, he made it. The man hit the second roof hard, legs buckling under him, landing on his knees, skidding across the gravel. But he was up on his feet in an instant, running across the roof, never looking back.

Then, nearly unable to comprehend what he was seeing, Blair could only watch as Jim tried to duplicate the same, insane maneuver. Only something went terribly wrong.

Running at top speed, Jim also planted one foot on the edge of the roof and started to push off. But the old brick and plaster suddenly gave way and crumbled. Unable to stop, his momentum propelling him forward, Jim was helpless to do anything as his foot encountered nothing but air, and he just…disappeared.  One second Jim was in sight and the next he was gone…falling straight down off the building.

“NO!” Blair’s horrified scream echoed across the rooftops.  His camera slipped from nerveless fingers, smashing onto the roof. For a split second he couldn’t move, then he was flying across the roof, heart pounding in his chest, a gut wrenching sense of déjà vu gripping him. Reaching the edge, he threw himself down on his knees with a white knuckled hold on the brick. Taking a ragged breath, he forced himself to look over the side, trying to mentally prepare himself for the sight of Jim’s crumpled body lying on the street. 

What he did see was Jim’s body, but it wasn’t lying on the street. It was lying on the metal fire escape landing one story down. And thankfully it was moving, albeit slowly. Releasing the breath he forgot he was holding, Blair scrambled to his feet.

“Jim! Jim!” he yelled as he ran to the corner of the building and began climbing down the fire escape ladder. “Jim, don’t move! I’m almost there!”

But stubborn, obstinate man that he was, Jim was already on his knees by the time Blair reached him.

“Oh my god, Jim, are you all right?” Blair asked worriedly as he made it to Jim’s side. “Can you stand? Where are you hurt?”

Jim groaned and put a hand to his forehead, coming away with a small amount of blood from a cut there.  “I’m Ok, Sandburg,” he insisted, but took Blair’s offer of a helping hand up anyway. “I just got the wind knocked out of me.” Once on his feet, though, he took one step with his left foot and hissed in pain.

“Yeah? That doesn’t sound like Ok to me,” Blair replied. He looked up to the top of the roof. “Can you make it up the ladder? We can take the elevator down, then.”

Jim nodded. “I can do it. My ankle’s not broken. I think I just twisted it when I landed. It’ll be all right.”

“Ok, you go first. Take your time.”

It was a fairly slow process climbing back up, but Jim made it without incident. Once on the roof, Jim started scanning the area, looking across to the other building.

“Did you see where he went?”

Blair, in the process of walking toward his busted camera, stopped dead in his tracks. He slowly turned around to face Jim.

“What did you say?”

“I said, did you see where he went, Sandburg? After he jumped across?” Jim asked impatiently. “I’ve got to find this guy.”

“Did I see…? Are you nuts?!” Blair yelled at Jim, stalking rapidly back to the detective. “No, I did not see where he went! I was a little preoccupied, thinking I’d just seen you fall to your death!” Blair’s voice grew progressively louder as his anger increased. Then his eyes suddenly glistened with moisture. “You son of a bitch!” he screamed at Jim, his fist lashing out and connecting solidly with the bigger man’s chest. Startled, Jim staggered back a step with the punch. “What the hell were you thinking? How could you be so stupid, trying a stunt like that?? You nearly got yourself killed! And I…and I…” Spinning around, Blair fled across the roof and down the stairs.

Shocked and dumbfounded at Blair’s uncharacteristic anger, all Jim could do was watch him go.



Offices of KCDE News

Later that evening


Jim stalked through the halls of the network, his overall disheveled appearance and the hard set of his jaw inviting no one to speak to him. He reached Blair’s office and opened the door, even though he knew no one was inside, having detected no heartbeat. He flipped on the light and glanced around, looking for any sign that the reporter had been here or might still be in the building. But the room felt cold, no discernable body heat remained. Blair hadn’t been in his office tonight.

Frustrated, and becoming more concerned by the minute, Jim exited Blair’s office and headed down to the set and the control room. Halfway there, he ran into Joel, coming out of the break room.

“Evening, Jim,” the station manager greeted him with a smile, then got a good look at him. The smile faded as he took in the dusty, dirty man in front of him with the blood smear on his forehead and Blair’s broken camera dangling from one hand.  “Jim, what—“

“Have you seen Blair tonight?” Jim abruptly cut him off mid-sentence.

“Blair?” Joel was confused. “Well no, he’s supposed to be with you…” He trailed off for a moment. “Jim, what’s going on? What happened to you and why isn’t Blair with you?” the station manager demanded, worry lacing his voice.

Jim sighed wearily and ran a hand over his face. “I’m...not sure what happened, exactly,” he confessed.

Joel gestured inside the break room. “Here, come in and sit down. Let me get you a coffee and you can tell me what’s going on.”



“…and the next thing I know, he’s yelling at me, absolutely furious.  He punches me in the chest and runs off. I’ve never seen him like that, Joel. I don’t know what got into him.” Jim finished up his story.  “I’ve been looking for him for the last few hours. Tried his cell phone and got no answer.  There’s no one at his apartment, either.  So I thought maybe he’d be here.”

Joel was silent for a moment, digesting what Jim had told him. “Jim, did you say you fell off the building?”

“Yeah, that’s right, why?”

Joel sighed, stood up from the table and turned his back to Jim. “Jim, you don’t know much about Blair’s past, do you?”

“Not really,” Jim admitted. “He’s always been pretty closed mouth about it. And I’ve never pushed.  Why? What are you getting at?”

Joel turned back around to face Jim. “It’s not my place to say. But…you need to ask Blair about Toby.”


Joel nodded. “It will explain his behavior tonight.  Why he was so upset.”

“Ok, I’ll ask him,” Jim replied, curious.  He stood and started for the door. “If you see or hear from him before I do, will you please have him call me?”

“Absolutely.  And Jim?”  The detective paused in the doorway. “I know you care about Blair. Very much.” 


The station manager raised his hand. “Jim, it’s all right. Blair’s a special person. And he deserves someone special like you.  He’s letting his past hold him back, though. Don’t let him, Ok? He needs to move on. He’s been torturing himself long enough.”

Intrigued now more than ever as to what was hiding in Blair’s closet, Jim nodded. “Thanks, Joel,” he responded quietly, then walked out the door.

“Anytime, Jim.  Anytime.”



Jim’s loft



A quiet knocking roused Jim from where he’d been sleeping on the couch and he sat up, the cordless phone tumbling from his lap. He picked the phone up off the floor and placed it on the coffee table, then walked over to the door, rubbing his face with one hand. Reaching the door, he opened it a few inches and peered out into the dim hallway. He saw two familiar blue eyes peering back at him.

“Hi, Jim,” came the quiet greeting. “Can I come in?”

Jim opened the door wide. “Sure, Chief. Come in.”

Blair entered and looked around, taking in the darkened loft, illuminated only by moonlight. “Aw, man, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to wake you.”

Jim shook his head. “That’s Ok, don’t worry about it.” He walked back to the couch and sat down, turning on a single light at it’s lowest setting. “I’ve been looking for you. Where’ve you been?”

Blair sat down next to Jim, but did not look at him. “Yeah, I know. I got your messages. I just…needed to clear my head.” He turned towards Jim. “And I needed to come here and apologize for my behavior on the roof.”


“No, Jim. I had no right to talk to you like that. Much less hit you. I was just…”

“Just what?” Jim encouraged.

Blair blew out a breath and looked down. “I was scared,” he admitted softly. “Seeing you go over the edge like that…I let my emotions get the better of me. Completely unprofessional in my line of work. I’m sorry, it won’t happen again.”

“Hey,” Jim put his hand on Blair’s shoulder and gently turned the young man towards him. “Want to know something? I was scared, too,” he confessed. “I don’t even know what I was thinking, trying to make that jump. Adrenaline got the better of me, I guess. And when the brick gave way and I started to fall…” he swallowed. “You have nothing to apologize for. What I did was idiotic,” he finished, then slid his hand down off of Blair’s shoulder before it came to rest on the reporter’s own hand. Jim lifted it and placed it on his chest. “I’m sorry I scared you,” he quietly apologized. “But I’m all right, still in one piece.” He tapped Blair’s hand against his chest.

Blair gave a small smile. “Must have something to do with that hard head of yours.” He reached up with his free hand to tap Jim on the forehead, but instead gently ran his thumb across the bandage he found there. His hand moved lower, his palm now resting on Jim’s cheek, and he let out a shaky breath. 

Both men froze as the moment turned suddenly intimate. They were only inches apart, barely breathing, unable to look away from one another, wrapped in the silence and near darkness of the loft. Two hearts pounded rapidly inside two chests.

For Jim, this moment was a long time in the making. Six long months he’d waited for an opportunity like this. For Blair’s shields to finally start to crumble. If he’d known all it would’ve taken was for him to nearly die, he might have tried it sooner.

Jim slowly let his eyes drift closed, and leaned in ever closer to Blair, his intentions obvious. He felt the younger man respond, also leaning in, his breath soft on Jim’s face, until their lips were mere millimeters apart.

Just when Jim was about to close the last hair’s breadth of space and kiss Blair for the first time, the younger man was suddenly pushing against his chest, freeing his hand from Jim’s.

Stunned, Jim opened his eyes as Blair practically jumped up from the couch, shaking his head.

“I can’t do this, I can’t do this…I’m sorry,” he spoke rapidly, backing up until he hit the balcony doors with his shoulder.  The stricken look on Blair’s face nearly broke Jim’s heart.

The young man turned away, staring out unseeingly at the city’s skyline. He put his hand on the glass and rested his forehead against the cool pane, closing his eyes.


At the rare use of his first name, Blair’s head came up and he turned to face Jim.

“Who’s Toby?”

Blue eyes widened. “How did you--?” He shook his head. “Joel, right?”

Jim nodded. “He said it was important I ask you about him. That it might explain why you acted like you did on the roof today.”

Blair blew out a long breath and leaned his head back against the balcony doors. He swallowed deeply before beginning.  “Toby was my cameraman in Chicago. He was cute, funny, intelligent - we started dating a few months after we met.  It got serious, fast. We moved in together.” He paused, a sad smile on his face. “I loved him. He was the first man I ever really loved.” He cleared his throat then continued. “Anyway…we were the hottest team at the network. I was determined to be the best investigative reporter in the Midwest. And I took chances. Stupid chances. Anything to get the story, get the exclusive footage,” he trailed off, his voice bitter.  “And it cost Toby his life…”

“What happened?” Jim asked softly.

Blair put his hands in his pockets. “Toby knew how competitive I was. Ratings are the end all, be all, to a network. And no matter what I asked he did it, without question, to make sure we got everything on film. Anything to boost the ratings…” he sighed.  “I was investigating an abortion clinic in Chicago. There had been reports of women dying after the procedure.  People were all fired up.  Things were starting to get really violent there. There had been some attacks on doctors, picketing. Not long after Toby and I got there, one of the doctors showed up and tried to get through the crowd. Next thing we knew, they had the guy down on the ground, beating him. Then out of nowhere, a Molotov cocktail flies from the crowd and smashes through the front window of the clinic, followed by two more.”

Blair began to pace in front of the balcony doors.  “People were yelling and screaming.  The staff was trying to get out of the building, some of the protesters were getting trampled as they tried to run away.  Then the police showed up with the fire department not far behind.  It was just mass chaos, and Toby and I were right in the middle of it.” Blair stopped pacing. “There was construction going on in the parking lot of the strip mall where the clinic was.  Scaffolding was constructed around a large sign that was being repaired. I told Toby…I told Toby to climb up the scaffolding and get an overhead shot of the crowd.”

Blair turned anguished eyes on Jim. “He never hesitated. Just climbed up like a monkey, holding that damn camera.”  Blair’s eyes glistened with unshed tears.  “He got all the way to the top, and was trying to get the camera up on his shoulder when his other hand slipped off the pole he was holding on to.”  A single tear broke free and ran slowly down Blair’s face.  “I watched him fall.  I’ll never forget the look on his face…and there was nothing I could do. He broke his neck. Died instantly,” his voice broke on the last two words.  He reached up and wiped away his tear.  “I left Chicago soon after that and came back here to Cascade.”

“God, Blair, I’m so sorry.” Jim’s voice was laced with sadness and pain for the young man. “And when you saw me fall…”

“And that’s why I can’t get into a relationship with you,” Blair walked up to Jim. “Toby was just a cameraman. It wasn’t supposed to be a life threatening job, and he died doing it anyway.  But you…you’re a cop. Your whole life revolves around danger, Jim. The situations I’ve seen you in over the past six months…not to mention what happened today. It scared the hell out of me. My heart can’t take another loss like Toby. And I have a feeling that losing you would be even worse,” he quietly foretold. “I won’t let myself fall in love with you, I’m sorry,” he finished in a hoarse whisper.

“Don’t say that, Blair,” Jim pleaded, terrified that his dreams of a future with this man were slipping away. He reached out and took Blair’s hand. “Because I’m—“

“*No*” Blair backed up out of Jim’s reach, heading towards the front door, shaking his head. “Don’t say it Jim, please. Don’t make this harder than it is. I can’t give you want you want, I’m sorry. All I’ve got to give you is my friendship. And I hope that will be enough for you, because I do want you in my life. I just can’t give you my heart.”

Then he opened the door…and was gone.



Blair drummed his fingers nervously against his leg and tried to will away the butterflies in his stomach. He had made a mess of things with Jim last night and had no idea if any part of their friendship could be salvaged. So, trying his best to avoid the situation, he’d buried himself in paperwork and editing at the network all day instead of spending it with Jim, as he normally would have. It was nearly 5 o’clock now, though, and he just couldn’t take it any longer. One way or another, he was going to have to speak with Jim. Even if he no longer wanted Blair as a friend, they still needed to maintain a professional, working relationship. Strained as it may be, they both had a job to do. Blowing out a shaky breath, Blair forced himself to get out of his car in the P.D. garage and head upstairs to Major Crimes.

The elevator doors opened up on the seventh floor and Blair walked out into a heightened level of activity in the bullpen. With only one day left before another robbery would possibly take place, the detectives were scrambling to find the man Jim had chased yesterday.

Jim was on the phone when Blair walked up to his desk and the detective barely flicked his eyes in the reporter’s direction before looking away.  No smile or hand lifted in greeting. Blair tried not to panic, but things were not looking good already.

Jim finished his conversation and stood, brushing past Blair without a word to him.

“Henri,” Jim called across the room.

Detective Henri Brown looked up from his paperwork. “Yeah, Jim?”

“Forensics just called. That file I asked you to get for me is still sitting down there.”

“Oh, man, Jim, I’m sorry,” Henri apologized. “I got caught up in this mountain of paperwork and I completely forgot.”

“I don’t want to hear it, Brown,” Jim shot back. “Just go get it, now.”

“Geez, man, chill,” Henri replied tersely. “I’ll go get it right now.”

Jim turned and walked back to his desk where Blair was still standing. Continuing to ignore the reporter, Jim sat down again and started flipping through a file folder.

Tired of being given the cold shoulder, Blair tried to start a conversation. “Jim—“

Jim’s head snapped up. “What do you want, Sandburg?” he growled. “Can’t you see I’m a little busy here?”

Swallowing at Jim’s harsh tone, Blair pressed on. “I understand if you’re upset with me, Jim. I said some things last night—“

Jim slammed the file folder down on his desk and stood up so abruptly that his chair slammed into the wall behind it. Blair could sense every eye in the bullpen was  suddenly on them.

“You know what, Sandburg?” Jim practically shouted at him. “Not everything in this world revolves around you. You’re a small part of my life, got it? And one I don’t have time for.”

Hurt and stunned at Jim’s sudden and very public attack, Blair was speechless as Jim stormed out of the bullpen and disappeared down the hallway.


The young man started slightly at his name being spoken from right behind him. He turned his head to see Captain Simon Banks standing there.

Simon looked down the hall where Jim had gone, then back to Blair. “Come in my office. I need to talk to you,” he said quietly.

Blair simply nodded and followed Simon into his office, eyes downcast, and closed the door behind him.




Jim’s loft



Blair knocked on the door of #307, then brushed the rain from his shirt as he waited for Jim to answer. There was a hell of a storm brewing and he’d almost made it into the building before the first, fat drops came down. 

He waited another moment before knocking again. Jim’s truck was parked outside so he must be in there. Then from inside he heard the faint clinking of bottles. Another moment later and the door opened partway, a stone faced Jim looking out.

“Jim—“ Blair started.

“I’m in no mood for company, Sandburg. Go home,” Jim brusquely told the young man and started to close the door.

Blair stuck his foot out, preventing it from shutting. “Jim…Simon told me.”

Jim simply stared at him, jaw clenched tight.

“You don’t really want to be alone tonight, do you?” Blair asked softly. “Please…let me in.”

Jim locked eyes with Blair for several heartbeats before sliding his hand off the door and walking away from it. Blair let himself into the dimly lit loft. As it was the other night, one lamp burned low in the corner of the living room. Jim was looking out the balcony doors, arms crossed over his chest, his back to Blair, watching as the storm grew in intensity.

“I want…I want to apologize for the way I talked to you this afternoon,” Jim spoke, his words slightly slurred, still not looking at Blair.

“That’s Ok,” Blair replied. “I know you were feeling…out of sorts today.” He paused. “I debated whether or not I should come over. I didn’t want to intrude…”

“No,” Jim turned just as a flash of lightening struck, and Blair could see the dark circles under his eyes. “I’m glad you came. You were right. I don’t really want to be by myself tonight.”

Blair nodded and sat down on the couch, the items on the coffee table catching his eye. Seven or eight empty beer bottles surrounded a single, framed photograph, with another four or five full bottles off to the side.  Jim was doing a good job of getting himself quietly drunk.  Blair picked up the photograph.  It was Jim, in full camouflage gear, surrounded by seven other men, all dressed alike.

“Are these…?”

“Yeah,” Jim answered with a sigh. “My men.” He gestured toward the empty beer bottles. “One for each of them. To remember them by. And the rest are for me. To help me forget for another year.”

Blair’s heart ached to hear the sadness in Jim’s voice. “I remember when you were rescued,” the reporter recalled. “My network ran a piece on you. It was pretty cut and dried, though. Just the facts, you know? The military isn’t exactly the most forthcoming on it’s activities.”

“Especially not with missions like mine,” Jim agreed.

“If you want to talk about it…I’m here to listen,” Blair offered sincerely. “I checked my reporter’s credentials at the door.”

Jim walked slowly over to the coffee table where he picked up one of the full bottles of beer and twisted off the top. He took a long drink before beginning.

“It was supposed to be a two week mission into Peru. We were to make contact with the local tribe, the Chopec, and secure the Chopec Pass from the rebels in the area, with the Chopec’s help.” He took another long drink. “Colonel Oliver’s intel of the area should have been solid. I still don’t know how his information turned out to be so wrong. We had just made it over the drop point in the Huey a few hours after dusk when the chopper came under heavy fire from the ground. It took everyone by surprise. Our pilot, Lt. Wynne, did his best, but he couldn’t get us out fast enough. I didn’t even see what type of ordinance hit us. Suddenly we were tipped sideways, and the ground was rushing up at us.”

Jim turned and looked out at the raindrops pounding against the balcony doors. “Three of my men, Johnson, Silva and Garinger, were thrown from the chopper on impact and crushed. Two others, Manz and Foreman, suffered massive internal injuries from flying metal when the blades hit the ground and tore themselves apart. None of them survived more than an hour or so after the crash.”  Jim cleared his throat and turned back around. “I thought Sarris was going to make it. I thought I could stop the bleeding from his leg wound and get help in time. But he had a cracked rib, and it had punctured his lung. He held on till dawn, when he died in my arms.”

“God, Jim, I’m so sorry,” Blair whispered. “I can’t even imagine…”

Jim drained the last of his beer and returned to the table for another, his steps becoming unsteady.

“How badly were you hurt?” Blair asked.

Jim twisted the cap off his fresh bottle. “Bruised ribs, puncture wound in my shoulder, mild concussion and my ankle was pretty messed up.”

“What happened after the crash?”

Jim sighed. “Truth is, I don’t remember a lot about my time in the jungle. Things sort of blend together, get mixed up in my head.”

Blair nodded. “Well, that’s understandable. What you went through, Jim…traumatic experiences like that tend to get repressed.”

Jim gave Blair a lopsided, fairly drunken grin. “Thanks for the analysis, Dr. Freud.” He took another long swallow of beer, then sat down on the couch next to Blair, a far off look on his face. “I do remember…” he trailed off, lost in his thoughts.

“Remember what?” Blair encouraged, wanting to hear everything that had happened to the ex-soldier. It was hard to believe he’d opened up this much, but Blair realized the alcohol had a lot to do with Jim letting his shields down for this brief period of time. No matter. Whatever Jim told him tonight would remain in this room. Blair would never betray his trust in his moment of vulnerability.

“I remember the Chopec,” Jim continued, resting his head against the back of the couch. “They found me later the following day after the crash. What with the concussion and blood loss from my shoulder wound, I was pretty out of it. I found out later the wound had gotten infected and I ran a high fever for a few days. They helped me bury my men when I was back on my feet again.” Jim lifted his head and took another drink. “The tribe just…took me in, like I was one of them or something. Like I belonged.”

“Were you with them the whole 18 months you were stranded?”

“Yeah, I was. They just integrated me right into their culture. Especially…” Jim looked down, fiddled with his beer bottle. “Especially Incacha.”


Jim smiled sadly at Blair. “He was the tribe’s shaman. He took me under his wing. And he gave me this.” Jim suddenly leaned forward and attempted to place his beer bottle on the coffee table. But his coordination was off and it hit the edge and would’ve fallen to the floor if not for Blair’s quick catch. Jim didn’t even notice. He was too busy untucking his t-shirt from his pants and pulling it over his head with one hand.

Before Blair could question him as to what he was doing, Jim was sitting sideways on the couch, his back to Blair.

“What do you think?”

Blair’s jaw dropped open. There, between Jim’s shoulder blades, was a detailed tattoo of a black panther, with the word ‘Enqueri’ under it in small letters. “I think…it’s incredible. You said Incacha gave you this?”

Jim turned around. “He did it himself. I’m sure it hurt like hell, but I don’t remember it.”

“Why a panther?”

Jim leaned over, the right side of his face resting against the back of the couch. His eyes drifted closed for a moment. “He said it was my animal spirit. Sometimes it comes to me in my dreams. And now the wolf, too.”

Blair looked sharply at Jim. “A wolf?”

Jim nodded. “The panther wants to stay by its side, but the wolf always runs away.”

“Is the wolf Incacha’s animal spirit?” Blair asked.

Jim smiled and turned so he was looking up at the ceiling, his movements slow and lethargic. “No, Incacha’s is the condor.”

“Jim?” Blair had one last question. “That word on your back, Enqueri - what does it mean?”

Jim tilted his head towards Blair. “It’s my Chopec name.”

“Why did they call you that?”

Jim’s voice was barely above a whisper when he answered, eyes closing, the lure of sleep rushing up to greet him. “Because I’m a Sentinel…”

Blair’s brow furrowed at Jim’s answer, the term he used sounding familiar, a memory trying to break to the surface, but it wouldn’t come.  Blair shook his head and looked out at the storm, the lightening flashes becoming closer together.


Thinking Jim had fallen asleep, Blair was a bit startled to hear him speak. He looked over and saw the older man holding out his hand to him.  Blair took it and Jim squeezed it lightly. “I love you, Blair.  But I know you can’t love me back. So…be my friend?”

Blair swallowed around the sudden lump in his throat. “Always, Jim,” he promised. “Go to sleep now, Ok?”

“Yeah,” Jim agreed, then started to just slump sideways, eyes already closed. Blair caught him by the shoulders and eased the bigger man down till his head was resting in Blair’s lap, hands still entwined. Jim’s breathing evened out as he finally drifted off into an alcohol induced sleep. But Blair remained, watching the storm and watching over this tormented warrior as he honored his fallen comrades on this somber anniversary - his heart bursting with a love for this man he would not let himself acknowledge.



//The panther and the wolf ran once again through the forest side by side, covering the terrain easily with long, loping strides.  Stopping alongside a small pond, the two animals played - chasing and tumbling each other to the ground - until both were too tired to move.  As the panther drifted off towards sleep, the wolf lovingly licked the top of his head and his face. Only after the big cat had finally closed it’s eyes, did the wolf stand and walk off into the jungle.//



Jim awoke alone the next morning to a sweet aroma drifting through the loft.  He cracked open his dry eyes and immediately shut them with a groan as they were assaulted by the morning sunlight.  Trying again, this time he was able to keep them open and his fuzzy brain started to take in his surroundings.

He was lying on the couch, without his shirt and shoes, covered with a soft blanket, his head on a pillow.  Looking across at the coffee table, he saw a box of fresh pastries from the bakery downstairs sitting next to an empty coffee mug. Jim sniffed again - the coffee was brewing in the kitchen.  Next to the coffee mug was a bottle of aspirin. He also noticed all of the empty beer bottles were gone.  Jim smiled.  [Thanks, Blair.]

Jim slowly eased himself up into a sitting position, doing his best to ignore his pounding head.  Another anniversary behind him, drowned once again in alcohol. When was he going to realize that drinking himself into oblivion each year wasn’t going to help?  All it did was make him feel like hell the next morning. What did help was having Blair here. He remembered opening up for the first time about what had happened to him in Peru, able to trust Blair instinctively like no one else in his life. And it felt good to share his memories, and his pain, with someone he knew cared.

Since he wasn’t wearing his shirt, he could only guess he’d showed Blair his panther tattoo. The events of the evening started to get a little murky for him right around then, though. He hoped he hadn’t said anything inappropriate. His relationship with Blair was on rocky ground as it was.

With a sigh, Jim levered himself up off the couch, closing his eyes briefly as the world tilted. His equilibrium regained after a moment, he grabbed the coffee mug and the aspirin and headed for the kitchen on somewhat shaky legs. Once there, he found a note propped up against the coffee maker.

Jim -

I need to be at the network this morning. I’ll meet you at the P.D. for lunch. Wonderburger - my treat.


P.S. - Don’t you dare eat all those danish at once!

Jim smiled to himself as he poured a cup of coffee and chugged two aspirin on his way to the bathroom, ready to start his day.



Refreshed after his shower and having gotten some food in his stomach, Jim arrived at Major Crimes clear headed and ready to get back into the robbery investigation. Today was the day. If the perps stuck to their M.O., they’d hit another bank before the sun set.

The detective had no more than sat down at his desk when Captain Banks appeared in front of him, a frown on his face.

“What is it, Simon?”

“Chief Warren denied your request.”

“Damn it!” Jim swore, hitting his fist on his desk. “Why?” he demanded.

“Waste of manpower,” Simon replied.

“Waste of…?  Simon, they’re going to hit Rainier Federal,” Jim insisted.

“Jim, I trust your instincts. But I couldn’t convince Warren of that. He just doesn’t believe they’ll hit the bank where one of them nearly got caught.”

“It’s reverse psychology, Simon!  They’ll expect us to think that.  Do you think it was just dumb luck that that guy ran into that apartment building?  No! He knew he could make that jump across the roofs. He’d scouted it out already as an escape route!” Jim blew out a frustrated breath. “They wouldn’t have had time to scout out another bank, make alternate plans, in just one day, Simon.”

“And I explained everything to Warren, Jim, but he’s just not buying it.  And with the political rally in town for the next three days, all the departments are stretched thin. He wants coverage at the other banks instead.   You and Henri are to set up surveillance on Orion Savings in an hour.”

Jim shook his head, then pointed a finger at Simon. “Mark my words, Simon. This is going to turn out bad.”



Blair drove out of the Rainier University Library parking lot, his head spinning. Instead of spending the day at KCDE like he’d told Jim he was going to do, he was doing research at the library.  Although he’d majored in Journalism while attending Rainier, his minor had been in Anthropology.  Late last night, after leaving Jim’s loft, the memory he’d been struggling with had finally surfaced.  It was in one of his Anthro classes that he’d heard the term “sentinel”.  And now, hours later, he was trying to wrap his mind around the implications that word meant in relation to Jim. So many things were starting to make sense now. If he was right about Jim, they had a lot to talk about.

Like any good reporter, Blair had a police scanner mounted in his car. It suddenly squawked to life, drawing Blair from his thoughts.

“Silent alarm reported at Rainier Federal Bank. Any units in the area of Capilano and Davie, please respond.”

A jolt of adrenaline shot through Blair and he hit the brakes, making a quick right turn. This was it, and he was only a block away.  He hoped that Jim had been able to convince the higher ups to put a surveillance team outside the bank.

He swung the Corvair into a spot about a half block away from the bank and jumped out, running to the back of the car.  He quickly opened up the trunk and pulled out his camera. This was one story that was going to be exclusive to KCDE.

Heart pounding, he made his way as quickly as he could down the block, camera rolling. But the closer he got, he realized that there was no police activity at all near the bank. Jim hadn’t been able to get a surveillance team.

Taking a deep breath, Blair quickly made a decision.  He was the only one in the area, and he had a camera.  It was up to him to catch these men in the act, positively identifying them, and end their string of robberies and violence once and for all.

Scanning the area as he approached, Blair noticed that the vertical blinds on the windows closest to the front doors were partially open. Perfect. The zoom on his camera was good, but he needed to get closer. However, the landscaping in front of the bank wasn’t helping.  Rocks and bushes of different sizes were all obstacles for his line of sight.  Knowing time was of the essence, Blair hurriedly creeped up between a large rock and a fairly tall bush and aimed the camera lens at the space not covered by the blinds.  And nearly dropped it three seconds later as a masked face suddenly appeared at the window, looking straight at him.

Startled, Blair jerked his face away from the eyepiece and attempted to scramble to his feet. He could see the man shouting to his companions inside, pointing out at Blair. Trying to move too quickly, Blair’s feet slipped out from under him on the loose stones and he fell, landing on his side.  Before he could turn himself over, he was being hauled roughly to his feet by a hand at his collar.  In the distance, the wail of a police siren could be heard approaching, catching both men’s attention.

“Shit!” the masked man swore, then started screaming in Blair’s ear, “Let’s go, let’s go!” and pointed a large handgun at Blair’s face.

“Ok, Ok!” Blair complied as he was practically dragged inside the bank, still clutching his camera.

Inside the building, chaos was unfolding, and Blair tried to take everything in at once as he was roughly pushed across the lobby.

Chris, the security guard, was closest to the door, lying on the floor with a gunshot wound to his shoulder. A small pool of blood was forming beneath him and he lay still, eyes closed, moaning softly.  The bank customers and employees, about 15 of them, had been herded into a corner at the far end. They were silent, with looks of panic and fear on their faces.  The teller windows had been shot out and Blair’s shoes crunched across the broken glass as he walked.

The man pushing Blair turned his head briefly to shout at one of his accomplices, still standing at the window.

“Why are those blinds still open, damn it? Didn’t I tell you to close them?”

“I got it, I got it,” the man replied, then hurriedly finished doing the job that Blair had interrupted.

The man turned his head the other way and yelled to his other companion, “Did you get it out of her yet?”

Blair looked in the same direction and his stomach dropped.  Near the door to the rear of the bank, where the vaults were, stood the third robber, looking down at two women, pointing an automatic weapon at them.  Sheryl, the head teller that Blair had met the previous day, was kneeling over the still form of Ms. French, her eyes wide with fright, tear tracks down her face.

The third man shook his head. “Nah, she won’t talk.”

“Damn it, do I have to do everything myself?!” the first man yelled back, ripping off his mask, clearly angry. “Hang on, let me deal with this guy first. I’ll get the code from her.”

“Listen, man,” Blair tried to reason with the robber, who he immediately recognized as the blond man he and Jim had chased. “You heard the siren, the police will have this place surrounded already. Give up before someone else gets hurt.”

“Shut up!” the man demanded, and viciously backhanded Blair with his gun hand.

The reporter saw stars as pain exploded across his face and he could taste the metallic tang of blood in his mouth. As he staggered, the robber shoved Blair with both hands. Blair hit a desk and went down, his camera clattering to the floor next to him.

“You move and I’ll put a bullet in your brain,” the man vowed, then walked away.

Stunned, Blair blinked rapidly, trying to clear his head. As the world came back into focus, he saw the blond man approach Sheryl and the unconscious Ms. French. He reached down and grabbed a handful of Sheryl’s hair, pulling hard.  The terrified woman cried out as the man shook her head sharply.

“Tell. Me. The. Code. NOW!” he demanded.

“I don’t know, I swear I don’t know!” Sheryl sobbed.

“Bullshit! I know that both you and the manager have the code! Stop trying to be a hero, lady. Just give me the code and we’ll be outta here.”

“I don’t know!” Sheryl repeated, fresh tears running down her face. “She changed it this morning as usual. I’d just come on shift before you came in and she didn’t have time to tell me. I swear!”

“Hey, Vince,” the other man said to the first, removing his mask as he spoke, revealing close cropped black hair. “I really don’t think—“

The first man released Sheryl’s hair and turned on the other. “That’s right, you don’t think, Dean! It’s because of you that we’re in this mess!”

“What the hell did you want me to do? That one,” he pointed to Ms. French, “was going for the silent alarm!”

“You didn’t have to hit her so damn hard! And she hit the alarm anyway!” He turned back to Sheryl, pointed his gun at her head and cocked the trigger.  “Now. Let’s try this again.”

“Vince!” the man at the window shouted. “It’s the cops!  They’re all over the place!”



Jim’s truck careened around the corner, tires squealing on the pavement. The detective turned to his companion as they sped down the street towards the police barricade.

“I knew it, H. I just knew it.”

“I know, man,” Henri replied. “How many times do you have to be right before Chief Warren will trust your instincts?”

“Now that I wish I knew.”

Jim screeched to a halt at the barricade and he and Henri were out of the truck nearly before it stopped.  They crouched down and made their way between numerous police cruisers to where Simon was.  The captain turned to his men and handed them both bullet proof vests, which they quickly donned.

“Do I even need to say I told you so, sir?” Jim asked Simon, annoyed.

Simon just shook his head and turned to Henri.  “Brown, take up position at the far end.”

“Yes, sir,” Henri answered, then moved away.

Simon waited until the detective was out of hearing range. “Ok, Jim, tell me what we’ve got.”

Jim nodded, took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, getting ready to focus his senses on the bank.  He scanned the front of the building intently before shaking his head.

“I can’t see in, Simon.  They’ve got the blinds shut tight.”

“Can you hear anything?”

Jim closed his eyes and cocked his head slightly, concentrating….and heard a very familiar voice…

//Hey, man, don’t hurt her! She told you she didn’t know!//

Jim jerked and opened his eyes. “Damn it!” he swore.

“What?  What did you hear?”

“It’s Sandburg!”

“What?! How the devil did he get in there?”

“I have no idea, Simon.”



Things were rapidly getting out of control in the bank.   Vince was getting more and more agitated as things continued to go wrong, and Blair feared that he would shoot Sheryl at any moment.

“Hey, man, don’t hurt her! She told you she didn’t know!” he shouted.

Vince whipped around and turned the gun on Blair, but before the criminal could say anything, Simon’s voice on a megaphone outside interrupted him.

“Inside the bank!  This is the Cascade Police! The building is surrounded - you have nowhere to go!  Throw down your weapons and come out with your hands up!”

The man at the window started to part the blinds to look out and Vince saw him. “Alex! Get the hell away from the window!”

Blair was relieved to hear Simon’s voice, and knew instinctively that Jim would also be outside. He attempted one more time to persuade the criminals to give up.

“Do what the police say, or this is going to turn out worse,” Blair told Vince, who appeared to be the ringleader of the trio.

“What the hell do you know?” Vince demanded.

“Come on, man, don’t you watch TV? The S.W.A.T. team is going to burst in here and shoot all of you dead. Is that what you want?”

Vince addressed Blair’s comments with a laugh. “Yeah, I watch TV. And I’ve got over a dozen hostages in here. S.W.A.T. wouldn’t dare risk that many lives.”

Blair was forced to admit to himself that Vince may be right. Even though he’d spent the last six months working with the police, he didn’t know what they’d do in every situation. Thinking quickly, he replied, “And what about all of us? Like you said, there’s over a dozen of us here. And none of us are tied up. What makes you think we won’t decide to rush you? You can’t shoot all of us before someone gets one of your guns. And I guarantee you that if the police hear a single shot, they will storm the building. Think about it.”

The bank employees and patrons in the corner started to shift a bit, and Dean and Alex immediately turned their attention to the group, eyeing them nervously.

“Vince,” Alex spoke up, removing his own mask, “He might have a point there—“

“Shut up, Alex!” Vince yelled back.

Blair swallowed, preparing himself for what he was about to say next. “Why take the chance?” he asked Vince. “It’s much safer and easier for you to control one person than a dozen. Let them go,” he said. “Let them go…and keep me.”



“No!” Jim slammed his fist against the side of the police car.

“What? What is it?” Simon demanded.

“It’s Sandburg. What the hell does he think he’s doing?!”

“Jim, what did you hear?”

Jim shook his head.  “He just told them to let the employees and customers go…and keep just him as their hostage instead.”

“Damn,” Simon breathed. “The kid’s got guts, I’ll give him that.”

“Yeah? Well what good will it do him if he gets himself killed?”



“You?” Vince laughed. “What makes you so special?”

Blair pointed at his camera next to him on the floor. The KCDE name and logo was emblazoned on the side.

“I’m a high profile news reporter here in Cascade. I’m worth a dozen people to you.”

Vince stared thoughtfully at Blair for a long moment.  Then he called his two accomplices over to him and the three men moved a short distance away, conferring quietly. 

Blair seized the opportunity and lowered his head slightly, so that the three men couldn’t see his mouth. He then began speaking rapidly, but very softly, barely moving his lips.

“Jim, Jim, it’s me. I know you can hear me. Listen, here’s the situation. There’s three of them, two with automatic weapons and one with a huge handgun. One of them is the blond man you chased. They haven’t gotten any money. Ms. French is unconscious. She changed the code to the vault this morning and they knocked her out before she could open it. Chris, the security guard, has been shot. He’s bleeding out. There’s about 15 hostages, all in the far right corner of the lobby. I think I’ve got them convinced to let everyone but me go.  If that happens, send in the S.W.A.T. team or whatever when they’re clear. Don’t worry about me, Ok? Just…get these guys.”



//Jim, Jim, it’s me. I know you can hear me.//

Jim was so shocked at hearing those words from Blair that it threw his concentration, and he nearly missed everything else that Blair was telling him.  [How did he know…?]

“What’s going on in there, Jim?” Simon inquired.

“Um, Blair thinks he’s got them convinced to let the hostages go,” Jim replied, distracted by the revelation that Blair knew what he was and what he could do. “After they’re clear, he wants us to send in S.W.A.T. - and not worry about what happens to him.” Jim fixed his captain with a hard stare. “Simon, I will not let any type of forced entry put his life in danger.”

“Wait a minute, back up. Did you say Blair is talking to you? He knows about you?”

“Apparently so, Simon. But I’ll deal with that later, right now—“ Jim stopped himself. “Hang on, they’re talking again.”



Vince, Dean and Alex finished talking, then parted. Dean walked over to the employees and customers and took up a stance in front of them, his automatic weapon trained on the group. Alex went over to Sheryl and Ms. French and pulled the head teller up by her arm. He took her over to the other hostages, pushed her down on the floor, then stood near Dean. Vince walked directly up to Blair.

“I hate to be the bearer of bad news, Mr. High Profile,” the ringleader began, and Blair’s stomach sank. “but my associates and I would rather take our chances and have 15 bargaining chips instead of one.”

Blair looked away, frustrated, and saw Chris still lying near the door. If he couldn’t get all of them released, maybe he could get just one.

“At least let the paramedics come in and take the guard. He’s still alive but he won’t be soon. Look,” Blair pointed out, “you haven’t killed anyone yet. But if he dies…there’s a huge difference between robbery and murder.”

Vince tipped his head up slightly and made eye contact with Alex and Dean. Then he reached down, took a fistful of Blair’s shirt and hauled the reporter to his feet. Then he placed his gun against Blair’s temple and wrapped his arm around Blair’s throat, applying enough pressure to make breathing slightly uncomfortable.

“Remember what I told you about putting a bullet in your brain?” Blair barely nodded his head. “Good. Now walk toward the front doors. Slowly.”

Blair complied, with Vince pressed up against his back. They stopped when they reached the front doors of the bank.

“Open it,” Vince commanded. “Just wide enough for your head to fit through.”

Blair reached for the handle.



Jim looked sharply at Simon. “Tell everyone to hold their fire. They’re bringing Blair to the door.”

Simon quickly got on his radio and relayed the message to the rest of the officers. As soon as he was finished, Jim told him the bad news. “They’re not letting the hostages go.”

“Damn it,” Simon swore. “This is going to get messy.”

The door began to open and both men turned their attention to the front of the bank. Blair appeared in the doorway, and Sentinel sight was immediately trained on him. Jim could see the gun to Blair’s temple and the arm around his throat.  The right side of the young man’s face was slightly swollen and starting to bruise. There was also a spot of dried blood in the corner of his mouth. He looked calm, but Jim could hear his racing heartbeat clear as a bell. The man holding him was crouched down behind him, just an eye and a bit of blond hair visible, giving the S.W.A.T. sharpshooter nothing to aim at.

“Listen up!” came a muffled voice from the man behind Blair. “This is what we want! Get the owner of the bank here and give us the override code to the coin vault. Then have a car at the back entrance, with a full tank of gas. We have 15 hostages in here.  You have one hour to give us what we want, or we start killing people every five minutes.” He pushed the gun harder against Blair’s temple, making the young man grimace. “And we’ll start with Mr. High Profile here!”

Simon picked up the megaphone. “This is Captain Simon Banks. There needs to be some give and take here. Let half of the hostages go now and we’ll work on your demands.”

“You’ll get one now,” Vince replied. “But you’d better send the paramedics for him. He’s not doing too well.”  Then Blair was pulled backwards and the door slammed shut.

Jim turned to Simon, ripping off his kevlar vest as he spoke. “I’m going in.”



There was a knock at the front doors about 10 minutes later. Alex peered out through the blinds and nodded to Vince.  “It’s the paramedics.”

“All right, let them in. You and Dean pat them both down.”

“Got it,” Alex replied, then opened the door.

Two male paramedics entered, pushing a stretcher between them, each carrying a large medical box with supplies. Both were dressed in the Cascade Fire Department EMT uniforms with matching Cascade F.D. hats. One man was clean shaven with red hair, the other had a small moustache with short blond hair. Both wore sunglasses.

Alex and Dean ushered them quickly inside and Blair watched as the criminals searched both men for weapons. He noticed one of the paramedics, the blond, staring straight at him as he was being patted down. Staring back, Blair noticed the man tip his head down slightly and saw two very familiar blue eyes peeking over the top of the sunglasses.

Blair barely moved his lips. “Jim?”

The fake paramedic gave a nearly imperceptible nod of his head.

“They’re clean,” Dean announced to Vince, who was standing guard over the rest of the hostages.

“Then let ‘em get to work and get outta here,” Vince called back.

Dean gave Jim a shove. “You heard the man, get to work.”

Jim and the other paramedic knelt down next to Chris. “How bad is it, Shawn?” Jim asked the red headed man.

Shawn removed his sunglasses. “Not good,” he replied grimly as he ripped open Chris’s shirt to expose the wound. “Help me roll him over a bit.” Shawn looked at Chris’s back. “It’s a through and through,” he told Jim has they lay Chris back down. “At least there’s nothing lodged in there. Hand me a pressure bandage.”

Jim nodded and flipped open his medical box as Shawn did the same with his, bringing out an IV bag. Jim applied the bandage as Shawn got the IV started. That done, Jim began placing the EKG leads on the security guard’s chest as Shawn took the wounded man’s blood pressure. He frowned at the reading.

“We’ve got to get him out of here, now,” Shawn told Jim.

The two of them quickly placed Chris on the stretcher and wheeled him to the front door. As Shawn started to exit the building, Jim told him, “Go on, get him to the truck. I’ll grab our gear.”

Shawn nodded and pushed the stretcher out of the bank. Alex closed the doors behind him as Jim walked back to the equipment and knelt down. As he began gathering up the supplies, Sentinel hearing picked up Blair speaking to him.

“I know you’ve got something planned, Jim. Just…give me a sign or something. I’ll be ready.”

Jim hesitated. As much as he didn’t want to endanger Blair’s life, he may need his help. And he didn’t want the reporter taken unawares when the fireworks started.  Jim turned his head just slightly and gave Blair a tiny nod. He then used his movements in cleaning up the supplies to covertly check out the positions of the three robbers. Vince was still standing near the group of employees and customers. Dean was near the rear of the bank, keeping an eye on Blair, and Alex was up front, between Jim and the front doors. Jim had hoped the three would be closer together, but he was out of time. He couldn’t stall with the equipment any longer.  Sliding his hand down against the side of the box, away from Alex’s view, Jim showed Blair the thumbs-up sign, hoping the young reporter realized the signal meant things were going to start happening.

Then he reached inside the medical box with his other hand and moved aside the bandages and gauze at the bottom until he came in contact with the small walkie-talkie hidden there. He pressed the ‘talk’ button three times in rapid succession - his signal to Simon standing by.

Sentinel hearing picked up on the flash-bang grenades being loaded into the rifles outside, then the “whump-whump” of them being fired at the bank. Praying the resulting explosions and smoke wouldn’t overwhelm his senses, Jim tore off his sunglasses, yelled “Blair!” then closed his eyes and covered his ears. An instant before they shut, he saw Blair mimic his pose.

Before the three robbers could react to Jim and Blair’s sudden movements, the front windows of the bank exploded inward, sending glass flying in all directions. The moment the flash-bang grenades hit the floor they ignited. There was an incredibly loud BANG! followed by a blinding flash of light, finished off with a cloud of white smoke.

Pandemonium began to erupt inside the bank. The terrified hostages began to cry out in fear and panic, jumping to their feet and trying to get deeper inside the bank, away from the action up front.

One of the grenades landed nearly on top of Alex, who was standing closest to the windows. The small concussion was enough to lift him off his feet and he flailed his arms, trying to regain his balance. But the piercing light blinded him and he fell sideways into the teller counter, striking his temple on the very edge. He slumped bonelessly to the floor, out cold.

Jim was on his feet the moment after the smoke began. He turned first toward where Alex had been, Sentinel sight piercing the smoke cloud. His muscles were tensed, ready for a fight, but the criminal was no longer standing there. Jim scanned the area in a heartbeat, and found, to his delight, the man already unconscious.

Spinning around, Jim was prepared to deal with Dean next, but found that Blair had the situation under control. He watched in awe as the young man grabbed his camera from beside him and leaped up from the floor as Dean charged toward him, aiming his rifle directly at Blair. Fearlessly, the reporter used both his hands to swing his camera as hard and as fast as he could at Dean’s face. The heavy camera impacted solidly on the left side of the man’s head and he dropped in his tracks, like a rag doll.

Jim had no time to even make eye contact with Blair after his heroic act, as Sentinel ears heard the ominous ‘click’ of a handgun being cocked from off to his right. He ducked a mere second before the bullet passed through the space where his head had just been.

The smoke was starting to dissipate and Jim could see Vince rushing toward him, getting ready to fire again. Making himself a moving target, the detective kept low and barreled straight at the criminal. He tackled Vince around the midsection at full force and the two men hit the floor hard. They rolled over and over, each trying to gain the advantage, Jim losing his hat and wig in the process.

Jim had a firm grip on Vince’s gun hand, but was unable to get him to release the weapon. Finding himself straddling the robber, Jim began pounding the hand that held the gun over and over onto the floor. But Vince was a big man and was not giving up easily. He thrashed underneath Jim, trying buck him off.

Out of the corner of his eye, Jim saw Blair start to run toward him just as his grip shifted slightly and smashed Vince’s gun hand down once again.


Blair cried out in shock and pain and fell to the floor.

“NO!”  Rage overtook Jim and he viciously head butted Vince. Stunned, the blond man’s grip finally relaxed and Jim tore the gun from his hand in one motion and backhanded him with it with the next, insuring that the criminal was not getting up anytime soon.

Jim scrambled to his feet, heart pounding with fear, and had just slid to his knees beside Blair when the S.W.A.T. team burst through the doors. Jim completely ignored the officers as they saw to the scared hostages and senseless criminals. His undivided attention was on the curly haired man lying on the floor next to him, bleeding.

Blair was lying on his back, eyes squeezed shut, his face a grimace of pain. His right hand was clamped around his upper left arm, trying to stop the bleeding.

Jim put one hand on the side of the reporter’s face and the other on his right wrist.

“Blair, Blair…move your hand, let me see how bad it is. C’mon, Chief, work with me here.” He turned his head. “Get a medic over here!”

Blair groaned and opened his blue eyes. “Oh man, is my arm still attached?” he asked as he released his grip.

Jim focused on the wound, now visible through the hole in Blair’s shirt, with his enhanced vision. There was quite a bit of blood, but thankfully no puncture where a bullet had entered. Blair had suffered a very deep graze, and it would require a few stitches.

Relieved that the young man’s injury was not life threatening, Jim smiled at Blair’s question. “Boy, some cop you’d make, Sandburg,” he teased. “It’s only a scratch.”

“A scratch?!” Blair covered the wound with his hand again and sat up with the assistance of Jim’s hand on his shoulder.  “Feels like there’s a hole there the size of Texas.”

Jim shook his head. “A couple of stitches and you’ll be good as new.” He paused. “I saw what you did with your camera. You took a big chance, Blair. He could’ve shot you before you hit him.”

Blair shrugged. “I knew you were going to need help with those psychos. I didn’t even think, really. Just jumped up and did it.”

Jim squeezed Blair’s shoulder. “Well, that was a pretty brave thing to do.”

Blair smiled, his whole face lighting up at Jim’s compliment. “Thanks, man.”


The pleasant moment between the two men was interrupted by the arrival of Simon and Carter, the paramedic who Jim had impersonated.

Jim stood and shook the EMT’s hand as he approached.  “Thanks again for the use of your uniform, Carter.”

“Anytime, Jim,” the man responded with a smile. “Glad everything turned out Ok.”

Jim gestured to Blair, still sitting on the floor. “Patch him up for me, will you? I need my partner in one piece.”

“You got it,” Carter replied, then kneeled down next to Blair.

Jim turned to follow Simon, but not before he saw the way Blair’s eyes widened and the smile that broke out on his face at Jim’s use of the word “partner”.



Jim’s loft




The paperwork was done, the reports were filed and the three bank robbers were in holding cells down at the P.D.  It was time to finally decompress from the stressful events of the day. Jim and Blair were sitting side by side on the couch, each with a beer, enjoying the peace and quiet.

“I was glad to hear that both Chris and Ms. French are going to be all right,” Blair commented as he scratched at his upper left arm, where the bandage was covering his stitches.

“Yeah,” Jim agreed, clinking his beer bottle against Blair’s. “Chris came through his surgery with flying colors. And Ms. French will have one hell of a bruise on the side of her face from that rifle butt and a whopper of a headache for a few days. But it could’ve been a lot worse than a concussion. Dean hit her hard. She’s lucky she didn’t have a skull fracture.”

Blair took a drink of his beer and switched topics.  “You know, that was pretty quick thinking, wearing that wig and moustache,” Blair commended Jim. “Vince would’ve recognized you in an instant. But where in the world did you get that stuff so fast?” he asked, as he scratched again at his arm.

“Luckily Halloween is only a month away,” Jim answered. “There’s a costume shop across the street from the bank.” 

“I kinda liked the moustache on you,” Blair admitted with a smile.

“Yeah?” Jim chuckled. “You should’ve seen me back in my Vice days then. Moustache, goatee, earring…my partner, Jack, called me Slick for a reason.”

“Slick, eh?” Blair grinned. “I think I would’ve liked to have known you back then.”

Jim watched as Blair once more scratched at his arm, harder this time.  “Chief, is your arm Ok?”

Blair dropped his hand. “Yeah, it just itches like crazy.”  He scratched again and Jim reached up and grabbed his hand.

“One of the stitches might have come out. Or you might be starting an infection. Have you looked?”

“Nah, it’ll be fine.”

Jim started to lift up the sleeve on Blair’s short sleeved t-shirt. “Here, let me check.”

Blair pulled away. “Jim, it’s fine,” he insisted.

“Sandburg, do you want it to get worse? Now just let me look, Ok?” Jim said as he set down his beer.

Blair stared at Jim for a long moment, and Jim wondered at Blair’s strange reaction to a simple request. He didn’t ask him to take off his clothes, just the bandage.  Blair finally sighed and turned his head completely away from Jim, saying, “Ok,” as he did.

Again bewildered at Blair’s behavior, Jim rolled up Blair’s shirt sleeve to the top of his shoulder and carefully peeled away the large, white bandage. But when it was removed, the stitches were the last thing on Jim’s mind. For there, staring up at him from Blair’s bare skin, was a tattoo of a wolf.

//The panther and wolf ran through the forest side by side…//

“What…?” Jim breathed, trying to comprehend what he was seeing, and the implications of it.

Blair jumped up from the couch, setting his beer down quickly on the coffee table on his way to the balcony doors. “I know,” he said, not looking at Jim. “When you told me about your dreams…” He turned around. “I got it about six years ago. Just out of the blue. I had no idea why I did it. Now…” he trailed off, looking down at the floor.

Jim stood and quickly walked over to Blair. He put his hands on the top of the younger man’s shoulders, squeezing gently. “Six years ago? That’s when I came back from Peru. And started dreaming of panthers and wolves. And you just happen to have a wolf tattoo and I have a panther. Do you think that’s a coincidence?” he asked as Blair tipped his head up to look at him. “No, it’s not,” Jim continued. “God, Blair…how many signs do you need to see that we belong together? That this is right?”

Blair tried to pull away. “Jim, don’t. I *can’t*…”

Jim held on to his shoulders. “No, you’re not running away this time,” he told Blair. “And yes, you can. I know you’re scared. I know my life is dangerous, but I can’t change that. It’s what I do, it’s who I am.” He slid his hands down to just above Blair’s elbows. “But what about you? And your career? What were you thinking, sneaking up on the bank like that? For god’s sake, Blair, you got yourself shot. You could’ve been killed.” He blew out a long breath. “All I’m trying to say is that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

He paused and looked deep into Blair’s eyes. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose someone I loved as much as you loved Toby,” he said softly and saw Blair’s eyes grow damp at the mention of the cameraman. “But have you ever stopped to think that either of us could be killed simply crossing the street? You can’t let your fear hold you back from happiness. Life’s about risks and taking chances. Otherwise it’s not worth living. So take a chance, Blair,” he whispered, stepping ever closer, bringing their bodies in contact with each other, dipping his head down slightly. “Take a chance on us…” he breathed, then closed the final gap between them, and touched his lips to Blair’s for the very first time.

For a split second, Blair went absolutely still. Then, with a cross between a sob and a laugh, he wrapped his arms around Jim’s waist and returned the kiss wholeheartedly.

Heart pounding in his chest, Jim reached up and sunk his hands deep into Blair’s long curls, his heightened tactile sense reveling in the silky feeling of each strand wrapping around his fingers.

Jim licked along Blair’s lower lip and the young man’s mouth opened in invitation. Jim gladly accepted and slipped his tongue inside, searching for Blair’s. The first touch was electric, eliciting soft moans from both men. Jim fought to control his senses, afraid this much stimulus would send him into a zone if he wasn’t careful. And there was no way he was missing one moment of this. It had been too long in the making.

As their tongues dueled slowly with one another, Blair’s hands slipped inside Jim’s shirt and ran up his back. Jim pressed himself closer to the reporter, backing them up a step until Blair’s back came in contact with the balcony doors. Jim’s hands released their hold on Blair’s hair and moved lower to grasp his waist instead.  Blair’s hands copied his movements, coming to rest on Jim’s hips. Blair’s grip tightened and he pulled Jim to him, bringing their groins in contact.

Jim broke the kiss with a moan as Blair rubbed his lower body against his in a slow, rocking motion, the young man’s arousal quite apparent.  Jim’s cock, already hard, swelled even further, becoming uncomfortable, trapped in his jeans and boxers.

Blair tipped his head back to rest against the door, eyes closed, and Jim took advantage of the exposed neck. He started right behind Blair’s ear, tasting the salty sweetness of his skin, placing hot, wet kisses along the smooth column down to Blair’s collarbone.

“Yesss…” Blair breathed, and Jim shifted position slightly. He placed one of his thighs between Blair’s legs and encouraged the young man to hump against him.

Blair did so, rubbing his hard cock against Jim’s leg, speeding up slightly and moving his hands to cup Jim’s ass.

The friction was wonderful, raising Jim’s excitement, and he sought out Blair’s mouth again. This time the kiss was mutually more demanding and Jim could easily hear Blair’s wildly racing heart. Jim felt one of Blair’s hands start to move, and nearly jumped when it slipped between their bodies and pressed firmly against his jean covered cock. He pushed into the touch, seeking more, before raising his head and breaking the kiss once again.

“Blair…Blair, look at me,” he said, his breathing elevated from the recent activity.

Blair did so, and blue eyes looked into blue. Jim reached up and framed Blair’s face with his hands.  “Maybe…maybe we’re taking things a little too fast,” he told the reporter.

Blair smiled and shook his head. “I’ve wanted this for a long time. Wanted you for a long time. But I just wouldn’t admit it to myself.” He kissed Jim gently. “I’m ready to take that chance now. Thanks for waiting,” he whispered. “I love you.”

Jim swallowed deeply past the sudden lump in his throat. Six months of waiting and now he was speechless in response. So instead he leaned down and kissed Blair with all the love and emotion he was feeling, letting his actions speak for him.

And Blair responded in kind, deepening the kiss, the spark between them growing more intense with each passing second. Their actions grew more urgent, their passion rising, bodies pushing and rubbing against each other.

Jim’s cock throbbed, wanting more, wanting Blair’s touch. He groaned at the thought of Blair’s hand wrapped around his cock, milking him to completion. Or his mouth…oh god…his mouth, sucking him…

Before he came in his pants, he took Blair’s hand and placed it back on his groin. He covered it with his own and squeezed hard, telegraphing his need, his want, his desire.

Blair squeezed back in return and Jim groaned in response, pushing into the touch, then removing his own hand. Blair pulled away from the kiss and whispered seductively in Jim’s ear.

“What do you want? What do you want, Jim?”

Jim opened his eyes, his voice rough with desire. “I want…”

Blair squeezed and rubbed him again.

“Oh god…please, Blair…”

Never breaking eye contact with Jim, Blair bypassed the button on Jim’s jeans and slid the zipper down with one hand. Then he reached inside with that same hand and cupped Jim’s balls through his boxers.

“Yesss…” Jim hissed and closed his eyes.

Blair slipped his hand in further, through the opening of Jim’s fly, and wrapped his hand around Jim’s cock for the first time.

Jim let loose with a strangled sound and braced both hands on either side of Blair’s head. He spread his legs wide.

“More, please…” he panted.

Blair obliged, easing his cock out through the opening of his boxers and jeans, exposing him. Blair stroked him once, firmly, and Jim’s hips bucked forward.

Blair grinned. “Liked that, eh?” He stroked him again.

Jim opened his eyes. “Do that a few more times and I’ll show you how much I like it,” he vowed.

“Promises, promises,” Blair smiled. Then in the blink of an eye, he was down on his knees and had the head of Jim’s cock in his mouth.

“God!” Jim cried out, and his hips thrust forward, his rock hard cock sliding past Blair’s lips. He pulled back and did it again, realizing that Blair wanted him to fuck his mouth. As Jim reached down to place a hand on the back of Blair’s head, Blair took a firm hold on his cock and began stroking him in time to his thrusting.

“Oh yeah, just like that,” he encouraged the young man.

Jim knew he wouldn’t last long and he was right.  Blair was swirling his tongue around the head of his cock, licking at the slit, sucking, as Jim slid in and out of his mouth. Jim felt his balls begin to tighten, drawing up close to his groin, signaling the beginning of his orgasm. The pressure built in the base of his spine and his movements became erratic as he strove for completion.

“Yes, yes, yes,” he panted, dropping his head and squeezing his eyes shut. “Almost…oh, god…”

And then it was upon him. The sweet rush of climax. He emptied his seed into Blair’s mouth, and felt him swallow everything he had. When he had nothing left to give, he slumped forward, the top of his head resting on the balcony door, his legs like jelly. Blair looked up at him and smiled as he tried to get his breathing under control.

“Told ya,” Jim joked.

Blair laughed in response and licked his lips.

Jim watched the pink tongue dart out and immediately knew where he wanted his tongue to be. Bending down, he took Blair’s hand and led them to the couch, his cock still dangling out the fly of his jeans. He sat Blair down, then kneeled on the floor between the younger man’s widely spread legs.

Leaning over, he captured Blair’s mouth in a kiss, tasting himself on Blair’s tongue. As the kiss built in intensity, Jim slid his hands up Blair’s thighs until his thumbs were pressing against Blair’s balls, hidden behind jeans and boxers.

Blair pushed his hips upward into the touch and Jim felt him groan as they continued to kiss. Taking that as an invitation, Jim’s hands moved higher, to Blair’s waistband, where they deftly undid the single button and slid down the zipper.

Pulling back from the kiss, Jim didn’t need to be a Sentinel to see Blair’s swollen lips, flushed face and lust filled blue eyes. And he knew his own faced echoed back the same desire.

His hands left Blair’s waistband and rose up to slowly unbutton Blair’s shirt. One by one, the buttons slipped free, revealing more and more of the young man’s chest. Jim spread the shirt open and his eyebrows rose at what he saw. There, nestled amongst the soft chest hair, dangling from the left nipple, was a silver hoop. Now this was something he’d have to ask Blair about. Later.

The nipple ring glinted in the light, and Jim could not resist leaning in and flicking his tongue against it. Blair’s whole body jerked at the sensation and his hands came up to hold Jim’s head there.

“Oh man, that feels so good…” Blair practically purred, arching his back towards Jim and closing his eyes.

Encouraged by the response, Jim continued to lavish first one nipple then the other, until they were both hard, sensitive nubs. Blair’s excitement grew, his breath coming in short pants, the longer Jim played with his nipples. While sucking on the right one, Jim’s hand moved upwards and gave a gentle tug to the nipple ring.

Blair practically flew apart at the stimulation. He let out a deep moan as his hips bucked upwards, pressing his cloth covered cock into Jim’s chest and his back arched again.

“Jim, Jim…stop,” he pleaded, raising up Jim’s head. “Don’t make me come in my pants.”

Jim quirked his eyebrows. “We wouldn’t want that, now would we?”

He placed his hands back at Blair’s waist and urged the reporter’s hips up. Blair lifted up slightly and Jim pulled down his jeans and boxers in one move. He removed Blair’s shoes without bothering to untie them, and then jeans and boxers were landing in a pile next to the couch.

Jim leaned back on his knees and just stared at the sight before him. There sat Blair - blue eyes sparkling, curls cascading around his shoulders, breathing deeply, shirt open, naked from the waist down, legs spread wide and his thick, hard cock standing up proudly from a nest of dark curls.  A veritable smorgasbord of love and desire.

“Like what you see?” Blair smiled.

“Let me show you how much,” Jim answered with his own smile.

Leaning back towards Blair, Jim started at mid-thigh, kissing his way to Blair’s groin. Blair tipped his head back against the couch with a sigh, letting his eyes slide closed.

Blair’s musky scent drew Jim in like a magnet, and soon he was placing a soft kiss on each of Blair’s full, heavy balls.  The reporter blew out a long breath at the action, then his hands were back on either side of Jim’s head, urging him upward. Jim eagerly complied, starting at the base of Blair’s cock, giving one long lick up to the head, where pearls of liquid were forming.

Blair’s most intimate taste exploded across Jim’s tongue and he had to have more. He opened his mouth and took in as much of Blair as he could. Blair cried out and pushed his hips upward, his grip tightening on Jim’s head. Returning the favor, Jim let Blair fuck his mouth as he alternately played with Blair’s balls and stroked his cock.

It soon became apparent that Blair wasn’t going to last long, either. His movements became uncoordinated, breathing irregular and his balls began to tighten.

“More, Jim…please,” Blair panted, on the verge of orgasm.

Realizing he needed just a bit more stimulation to push him to climax, Jim reached up and once again tugged gently on the nipple ring.

And that was all it took. With a yell of Jim’s name, Blair stiffened and came. Jim’s mouth was flooded with Blair’s essence and his own cock twitched in response, offering up a few drops of fluid. Jim sucked Blair’s cock until it began to soften and Blair urged his head up.

The reporter pulled the detective to him, kissing him tenderly for long moments, before stopping and resting their foreheads together.

“Will you stay the night?” Jim asked softly.

Blair chuckled. “Like you even have to ask?” he answered, and kissed Jim again.



Ten minutes later, the men had cleaned themselves up and were upstairs in Jim’s bed, naked, with Blair in front of Jim between his legs, his back to Jim’s chest.  His head rested on Jim’s shoulder and the older man was idly playing with Blair’s curls. Blair was holding Jim’s other hand between both of his.

Blair turned his head slightly to look at the older man.  “Jim?”

“Hmmm?” Jim murmured.

“Jim…Jim, what are you? I mean, how can you see and hear what you do?”

Jim’s hand stopped stroking Blair’s hair and he sighed. Time to come clean. He shifted them both so that they were lying on their sides, facing each other.

“You’ve obviously figured some of this out,” Jim began.

Blair nodded. “You first, though.”

“Just…promise me you won’t think I’m a freak.”

Blair shook his head. “Never, Jim. I promise.”

Jim took a breath.  “I’ve always been…different. Ever since I was a kid. I could see things a mile away, smell what I’d be having for dinner blocks away from my house or hear kids whispering on the other side of the school.

Because of something that happened between me and my dad when I was about 12 years old, which I’m not going to get into now, I somehow made my abilities…disappear. Repressed them or something.  And it wasn’t until I crashed in Peru that they reappeared.

I spent a lot of time on my own in the jungle, scouting and whatnot. And one day, I realized I could hear the flock of birds minutes before I saw them.

Incacha, the shaman of the tribe, immediately knew what I was. He named me Enqueri. It means watchman or guardian, or sentinel in the Chopec language.  He took it upon himself to train me, to give me some sort of control over my abilities.”

Jim’s face grew sad and he looked away for a moment. “He was a wonderful teacher. But two months after I crashed, he was killed during a skirmish with the rebels. A stray bullet…and he was gone.”

Blair reached over and squeezed Jim’s hand. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

Jim nodded. “I was on my own for the next 16 months, trying to apply the techniques that Incacha had time to teach me. But it was hard. I struggled every day. I needed guidance. Sometimes my senses spike out of control, or disappear completely.  And you’ve seen me…zone out, when I get too focused on one of them.

When I was around Incacha, he was like a port in a sensory storm.  He had the ability to calm me and help me focus.”

Jim squeezed Blair’s hand. “Blair…when I’m around you, it’s like being with Incacha.  Your voice, your presence - you calm me, help me focus. And I have no idea why. But I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that we met. I think our tattoos prove that. I think I’ve been waiting for you. Only I didn’t know it.”

Blair gave Jim a wide smile. “Did I ever tell you I minored in Anthropology at Rainier? There’s this monograph I came across yesterday written by Sir Richard Burton. The explorer, not the actor,” he clairified. “It talks about Sentinels having a partner, a Guide so to speak, to help them out, watch their back, that sort of thing…”



Thanks for reading!  Feedback is always appreciated.  :-)

Barbara Nice-Miller