The Iceman Cometh

by alyjude


The Sentinel Slash Virtual Season (SVS) is based on characters and concepts developed by, and belonging to, Pet Fly Productions. The episodes of SVS are intended for private, personal enjoyment only. No money is being made, or will be allowed to be made, by any of the SVS authors or by FiveSenses, Inc. from the writing and distribution of these episodes. Any original characters introduced in an SVS episode belongs to the episode author and to FiveSenses, Inc. and should not be used without their permission.

A Note from FiveSenses: Warmest thanks to Greenwoman for the much appreciated contribution in beta reading this story.

Notes on Safe Sex: Episodes of SVS may contain depictions of consensual m/m sex. These depictions may or may not be accompanied by specific mention of items necessary for safe and healthy intercourse. It is the intention of FiveSenses, Inc. and all SVS authors that, even when such items are not explicitly mentioned, their use is to be assumed as a matter of course. All of us at FiveSenses, Inc. are aware of the risks of unprotected sex in today's world and strongly advocate the practice of safe sex, including the use of condoms and other protective devices.

This story is a sequel to: SVS2-04: Witnesses



by alyjude

"Man, what the hell are they doing?"

"It's called construction, Chief."

"Uh-huh. So what they hell are they doing?" Blair asked again, ignoring Jim's jibe.

"Using my superior powers of deductive reasoning, combined with a keen eye, I deduce that they are—tearing up the sidewalk."

"You are one scary dude, dude. Now I know why I call you a sentinel." Then with a sideways glance at his partner, Blair added, "And a throw-back to pre-civilized times..."

Jim signaled, turned right, then left into the police garage. As he parked and unfastened his seatbelt, he said easily, "Tonight, Chief, I will demonstrate my pre-civilized nature, which should ensure your inability to walk in a normal, masculine fashion for days. And just this once—let me have the last word, all right?"

"Sure, Jim. Last word. All yours."

As they started walking toward the elevator, Jim frowned. "I was just robbed, wasn't I?"

"Of what, Jim?" Blair asked innocently.

"Of the last word."

"Oh. That. Yep."



Jim sighed. Like he'd ever get the last word with Sandburg around? Not hardly.



Jeff Killian powered off the jackhammer, lifted it, and stepped away, allowing a couple of the other workers to start piling the broken bits of the old sidewalk into one of the dump trucks. As they worked, Killian shoved his hard hat back on his head, lifted his goggles and wiped his face. Even in October in the Pacific Northwest, this kind of work was hot.

As he put his kerchief back into his pocket, he noticed something glittering in the mound of rubble not yet removed. He rested the jackhammer against the building and bent to retrieve the item. Holding it up to the light, he whistled low. A dusty, dirt-packed medallion hung from an equally dirty silver chain that was now threaded through his fingers. He needed a better look...

He walked to the water station, wet the medallion down, and rubbed it with the bottom of his shirt. As the surface dirt and grime disappeared, a picture began to form. Killian held it up again and peered closely. It seemed to be a picture of a snake wound around the body of a man. Interesting. And he was betting both the chain and the medallion were real silver.

He glanced at the building behind him—the Cascade Police Department—and thought of his pregnant wife, Midge. Her brother's birthday was Saturday, and money being tight... well, with a little more cleaning, this would be perfect, and right up Frank's alley.

Jeff Killian shoved the chain into his back pocket, checked his watch, and nodded to himself. Lunch break in another hour and Midge worked up on the sixth floor. He'd see what she said...

Noticing that the pile of rubble had been cleared, he went back to his jackhammer.

Fifteen minutes later, he wondered why he was so cold...



Midge gazed down at the medallion on her desk blotter. She didn't like it—not one bit. But, damn, Frank would.

"Okay, we'll get this cleaned up and give it to him."

"Great. You getting off at five? Should I wait for you?"

"No, no, Callie is giving me a ride home. You go, have your beer with the guys. I'll drop this off at Brillstein's Jewelers on my way home and get it cleaned."

"Good thinking. And while you're there, find out what it's worth. We might just keep it."

"Very funny."

Kissing his wife on the top of her head, Jeff left. Midge stared at the ugly piece of jewelry and then scooped it into her open desk drawer. It gave her the heebee jeebies.



"Hey, Midge, got that report for me yet?"

Midge looked up from her work to smile at Detective Jim Ellison. "Right here, big boy. And this was not easy. You owe me big time."

Jim stepped into the busy office and walked over to Midge's desk. Smiling, he took the report from her hand and said, "If you weren't married..."

"And eleven months pregnant?"

"And pregnant..."

"And you weren't—taken?"

"And I wasn't taken..."

"Yeah, yeah, you're just trying to get out of owing me."

Grinning, Jim took an envelope out of his pocket and waved it under her nose.

"Ask and ye shall receive, Mrs. Killian and soon to be mother."

Her brown eyes widened. "You're kidding? You didn't? You couldn't?"

"I could, and I did. Here you go." He dropped the envelope in front of her and watched happily as she picked it up and took out two tickets.

Midge Killian, an ex-student of Blair's (albeit one of his older ex-pupils), who now worked in Public Relations, had been been one of Blair's staunchest supporters when the dissertation shit hit the fan, defending him loudly and clearly to any who'd listen. Jim had managed to find the tickets for a special performance of the young Welsh singer Charlotte Church as his own special thank you for her friendship and loyalty to his partner.

"Just don't be having that baby too soon, young lady, or you'll miss the concert."

"I have great timing, Jim. Just ask Jeff." Her eyes twinkled as she almost petted the tickets. "I hope that information is everything you need?"

"I'm sure it is. I'm going to take it across the hall now and have Sandburg do his thing, and maybe by the end of the shift, we'll have ourselves an arrest. Take care, Midge."

"You too, and tell that partner of yours to drop by later, okay?"

"Will do."

Jim walked away, whistling, leaving Midge alone to stare dreamily at her tickets.



A voice in the inky blackness... a voice that was hated. Dark strength seemed to flow through him as he drew himself together, yet—not. He seemed to be floating, not connected...



Midge shivered and reached for her sweater. Then, as suddenly as the cold had invaded her space—it was—gone. Breathing a sigh of relief and determined to ask her mother if cold spells were a part of pregnancy, she went back to work.



Detective Rafe, with a disgruntled sigh, flopped into his seat. Man, he hated this time of year. October and Halloween. People just plain went crazy, and being a cop lost a great deal of juice. He pulled a blank report sheet toward him and began filling it in, wishing, not for the first time, that Sandburg was his partner. No one typed faster and no one created a report more accurately. Must be those twenty-three-plus years of school. Rafe chuckled at his own wit, then bent back to the task at hand.

Thirty minutes later, he finished and sat back satisfied. Then he noticed the—cold.

Standing, he gazed about the squad room and frowned. No one else seemed to be affected, and yet he was ready to get his damn jacket. As he remained standing and frowning, the paperwork in his in-basket seemed to jump out and swirl to the floor.

"What the hell?" Bending swiftly, he picked up the papers and put them back, then glanced up at the vents.

"You're not going to find McMillan's killer up there, partner."

Rafe whirled about and found himself facing Henri Brown.

"Very funny, H. Very funny. And—are you cold?"

"Man, it must be seventy-five degrees in here. No, I'm not..."

As Henri was speaking, he'd moved closer to Rafe's desk and suddenly shivered.

"What the hell?"

"That's what I said. It is cold in here, isn't it?"

"It's not cold in here, it's cold here."

And with those words, Henri Brown found himself gazing up at the vents.

"Gee, Detective Brown, I don't think you're going to find McMillan's killer up there, do you?"

Henri ignored his partner as he dragged one of the stiff-backed chairs in front of his desk over to the nearest vent. Pointing at it, he commanded, "Climb up and check the vent. Maybe the air is on."

"That's an idea." Rafe immediately started to move the chair when he spotted Sandburg. He glanced down at the chair, flimsy at best, then over at the smaller man.

"Hey, Sandburg, help us out here."

Blair looked down at the metal chair in Rafe's hands and then up at Rafe. "Yeah, I can see where you need my help. That chair must weigh, oh, what, three pounds? I think it might take all of us, Rafe."

"Har-har. Just get up here and check the vent, all right? We've got some cold air coming in."

Frowning, Blair walked over to Rafe's desk and immediately froze... almost literally.

"Shit—it's freezing over here."

"So climb up and check for us."

As Rafe spoke, Blair frowned, his memory banks working overtime. This chill went beyond anything he'd ever encountered, even in the Pacific Northwest, but it felt exactly like the cold Jim had described in the abandoned building before Molly had made herself known...

Damn, this cold was chilling him to the bone, while at the same time, he was breaking out in a cold sweat. And he couldn't move.

"Aw, come on, Hairboy, do us this favor. You know that chair ain't gonna hold studly Rafe, let alone hunky me."

When Blair didn't move, Rafe gazed over the younger man's head at his partner and shrugged his shoulders. Henri dropped a beefy hand on Blair's shoulder and gave him a small shake.

"Hairboy? You with us?"

"It's cold in here," Sandburg said, his voice low and without inflection.

"Well, ye-ah, isn't that what we've been telling ya? Now get up there and tell us what's going on with the vent."

Blair gazed down at the chair, then up at the slats and reason took over. Sure. Cold. Vent. Probably just a mistake. No biggie. He stepped up and raised his arm, placing his hand in front of the slats—and just like that, the chair disappeared from under his feet. He was tumbling back, his arms windmilling, and then he was going down and Henri's desk was rising up and Blair could see the sharp edge...


Henri moved rapidly, arms up, reaching, grabbing—and he caught Sandburg's falling body, pulled on the flannel shirt until the man slammed against Brown's chest and his feet were planted solidly on terra firma.

Rafe, who'd barely gotten out of the way of the flying chair, stared at the piece of furniture as if it were a living thing.

And God damn it—it was even colder now.

Lifting his eyes from the chair, Rafe stared at his partner, who was still holding Sandburg.

"What—what just happened?"

"You kicked that chair, Rafe!"

"I did no such thing! You saw it, it moved, it just—flew out from under him... I would never... you know that, Brown."

Henri swiped a hand over his face and nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I know, I know."

In a hushed voice, with eyes locked on Henri's desk, Rafe said, "You saw... if you hadn't caught him..."

"Hey, H? You can let go now..."

The muffled voice captured both men's attention. Henri let go of Sandburg, who stepped back. He looked from one man to the other and said matter-of-factly, "The cold is gone. Did you notice?"

"Well, you're a cool one," Rafe said, almost in awe.

"Very funny, Rafe. Cool one. Ha-Ha. And was this some kind of practical joke? Because if it was, we're talking major backfiring, you know? Huge miscalculation. A really," Blair spread his arms out wide, "big mistake. Gigantic mistake."

"Ooh, you gonna sic Ellison onto us, Sandburg?" Rafe snickered, the danger of a moment ago almost forgotten.

"No, I'm gonna do worse—I'm gonna sic me on you."

"I'm shaking here."

"Rafe, cut it out," Henri commanded in a voice seldom used. "It was no joke, Blair."

His quiet words brought both Rafe and Blair back to the moment and Blair shook his head. "No, no joke."

"So what happened, Hairboy? You're the resident expert in weirdness. What's the logical explanation?" Brown asked, his voice shaking only slightly.

"What? I'm suddenly John Edward?" At the expectant looks, Sandburg said with a smirk, "I see a beautiful woman, Brown, and she's trying desperately to reach you... you stood her up..." He winked at Rafe and added, "That's the logical explanation. She's out to get you."

At that moment, a flurry of activity by Jim's desk caused all three men to turn—and the view caused their jaws to drop.

All the papers in Jim's out-basket were flying up and floating down—to the floor.

"Tell me you guys saw that. Just tell me you saw it," Rafe pleaded in a hushed tone.

In spite of the weirdness, Henri couldn't help himself. Looking his innocent best, he said, "Saw what?"

While Rafe threw dagger looks at his partner, Blair moved slowly to Jim's desk—and when less than three feet away—shivered.

"Damn, the cold is over here now."

Henri held up both hands and backed away, saying, "Okay, this is officially weird now, and I'm separating myself from both of you. This is just too uncool."

Blair, remaining the three feet back, nevertheless reached out as if testing the air. "The cold is fading..."

"So am I, man. Rafe, you with me?"

"You don't have to ask me twice, partner."

Blair waved a hand and said, "It's okay, guys, I'm sure there's a logical explanation for all of this. And besides, whatever it was, it's gone now. Buck up and be men."

"Hey, I'm all man, just ask any of the women I've dated, including your failures, Hairboy," Brown shot back, grinning.

The mood, which moments before had been dark, now lightened as what passed for normalcy around Major Crime returned. The three men were standing in the middle of the room when Jim walked in, closely followed by Simon, who stopped to stare at the papers on the floor, then up at his obviously under-worked men.

"Gentlemen? What am I missing? We solve cases now by standing in the middle of the squad room with our paperwork strewn all over the floor? Or is this a new way to decide the guilty party? And why do I just know that somehow, some way, this is your fault, Sandburg?"

"No, sir, absolutely not my fault. I was an innocent bystander," Blair declared, holding his hands up in protest.

Simon stared disbelievingly.

"Really, sir, swear to God. I was just checking the vents when the chair flew out from under me almost knocking down Rafe, and Henri caught me before my head caught the edge of his desk, and then the cold spot moved to Jim's desk and all his paperwork kinda went flying but I swear, me, Rafe and Henri were standing over there when it happened, and now the cold is gone, and... And that's it... sir," he added lamely, having finally ran out of breath.

Simon closed his eyes and counted to ten—except he only made it to five before saying between clenched lips, "Ellison—now would be a good time to take your partner to lunch..."

"Already gone, sir."

Jim grabbed Blair's arm and started dragging him out as Rafe and Brown made themselves scarce by heading out in the opposite direction...

With a sigh of the forever put upon, Simon Banks moved to his office. Once inside, he shut the door and closed the blinds.



"Jim, this was not my fault. And what burr got under Simon's saddle?"

"The judge threw out Halston's confession. Went for the defense charge of coercion. Simon is fit to be tied."

"Uh-oh. What happens now?"

"Megan and Joel hit the streets and start over."

"I don't suppose it was Judge Goss?"

"How'd you guess?"

"Just lucky. Bane of our existence."

"You're telling me. And you're also gonna tell me what the hell was going on in the squad room, aren't you, Chief?"

"Uh... well, sure. But I could have sworn that I already—did."

Jim gave Blair a small shove into the open elevator. As it closed he said without looking down, "Well, you're gonna do it again—at lunch. Slowly, clearly, and enunciating every word."

"Oh. Okay. I can do that. But you won't like it."

"Sandburg, this I already know."

"Wouldn't you rather indulge in a working lunch?" Blair asked, one eyebrow wagging at Jim.

"Is that look supposed to sweep me off my feet?"

"Well, ye-ah."

"Did you buy bologna yesterday?"

"Yep. And the long, flat pickles you like so much."

"Lunch at the loft it is—with work preceding it."



The hated voices disappeared... and he was unable to follow. He was trapped... and without the hatred the voices stirred in him, his strength faded... But he had learned... he could, with concentration, focus his energy to move things. The papers had been easy—the chair considerably more difficult. But with practice...



Jim negotiated their way through the noon-day traffic and after stopping at a light, said, "Do I want to know what really happened back there now or after lunch?"

"That depends."


"How much you want a working lunch."

"I really want a working lunch, Chief."

"Then we'd better discuss it after."

"Damn. I knew you were going to say that."



Jim didn't allow Blair to get very far once they were inside their home. Almost as soon as both crossed the threshold, Jim kicked the door shut and shoved Sandburg up against it, growling as he did so.

"Ooh, I love it when you growl. I'm in for it now, right?"

"Oh, yeah, Chief. You want a working lunch, you're gonna get a working lunch."

Smiling even as his hands were pulling Jim's shirt out from his waistband, Blair said, "I love a working lunch, but technically speaking, you wanmph..."

The rest of his words were quickly eaten as Jim planted his mouth over Blair's. Keeping the younger man plastered against the door, he smiled into the kiss as Sandburg's left leg started to hike up his right.

"Geesh, these horny—jaguars..."

Those were the only words Blair managed to get out, and those thanks to Jim's grin. The smile faded as Jim deepened the kiss, and from there all hell broke loose. Clothes were hastily discarded before hands could rip or tear, and mouths found soft spots for suckling, nipping and biting gently. The moans of pleasure surrounded both men, mixing together until not even a sentinel could distinguish one set of moans from the other...

Finally impatient with the door as a brace for frantic love-making, Jim encouraged Blair to hike himself up by using his own arms to lift the younger man. Speech was impossible as both men were still joined at the lips. Jim managed, once Blair was anchored to him, to stumble to the kitchen table and plant Blair's delectable ass down. The owner of said delectable ass immediately dropped back, bringing Jim with him, refusing to allow their tongues to disengage.

Jim did some rather amazing fumbling as he tried to align himself, and was ready to move in when Blair gasped out against his lips, "lube, lube..."

"damn," Jim ground out. Straightening, he hissed out, "I'm taping a tube of the damn stuff to the underside of this fucking thing..."

Then he really looked at the man still draped over the table. The breath left his body, and for a moment he couldn't move.

"Lube, Jim? Bathroom?" Blair was stating the obvious but Jim couldn't take his eyes from the man. Blair's shirt hung open and other than that and his socks, he was naked, his erection still announcing its desire to play. His face was flushed, and sweat had created a halo of damp curls that, when combined with the darkening shadow of a beard and the square jaw, created a picture of an angelic... Pan. Jim was certain he was salivating.

A chuckle from the erotic Pan energized Jim and he literally ran to the bathroom, grabbed a tube and sprinted back. By the time he skidded to a stop next to the table, Blair was out and out laughing.

"Hey, major mood breaker here, Sandburg," Jim whined.

"If running to bathroom for lube didn't break the mood, I hardly think my laughing can do it. Now get over here with that stuff, you horny feline."

Jim quirked an eyebrow. "Horny feline?"

"Here, kitty, kitty, I've got a bone just for you..."

"O-kay, mood re-established."

Blair grabbed Jim's hand and hauled him back down, whispering as he did so, "thank god..."



They lay on the couch, Blair on the inside, legs and arms entwined to the degree that anyone viewing them might have difficulty distinguishing one set from another.

"You know, Jim, never in a million years would I have guessed that you'd... I mean, that we'd..."

"Spit it out, Chief."

"You and lunch breaks. Us, here, on our lunch hour. You and me, doing the deed and going back to work as if nothing had happened, Jim Ellison knowing his partner in the biblical way, on his lunch hour..."

"Okay, I get it, Chief. And what, you don't see me as a spontaneous, fly by the seat of his pants type of guy?"

Blair lifted his head from Jim's shoulder to peer up at his partner. "You're kidding, right?"

"Hey, I'm as spontaneous as the next guy, Sandburg."

"Sure, if the next guy is a compulsive neurotic."

"Wait, now I'm a compulsive neurotic?"

"That's not necessarily a bad thing, you know. And you're my little bag of neuroses, so don't worry."

"I am not neurotic, Sandburg. I'm just—I just like things the way I like them."

"Uh-huh. Is that why we now have a tube of lube taped to the underside of our kitchen table?"

"I was a Boy Scout. Always be prepared. So sue me."

"I'd rather fuck you."

"What time is it?"

"We have time."

"Well, thank God for me. There just happens to be lube under the table..."



"All right, the sandwiches are made, we're seated, the iced tea is poured—it's time to talk, Chief."

"You're gonna wish that I had nothing to tell, Jim..."


"We have a ghost. I think."

Jim put his sandwich down, the one he'd been about to take a bite out of, and glared at his partner... his still undressed, messy, glorious partner... who thought they had a ghost.

"We don't."

Blair gave Jim an uneasy shrug. "I think we do."


Blair blinked—and blinked again. Then he took a large swallow of iced tea. "Uh, why do I think we do, or why do we?" he said as he put his glass back down.

"Why do we?"

"Um, because all the ghosts of the world now know we're an easy touch? Because Molly had a big mouth? Because..."

"Sandburg, zip it up."

Blair glanced down at his state of undress and grinned.

Throwing him a disgusted look, Jim said, "What I should have said was, Sandburg, shut up. Now why do we have a ghost?"

"I'm not the expert here, you know. Not exactly. I mean, we've been having our share of ghostly experiences lately, but I'm definitely not the expert—but we do have a ghost."

"Cold spots?"


"And the whole moving stuff thing? That's what the papers were all about?"


"Talk to me about the chair."

Blair took a bite of his bologna sandwich, chewed, nodded to Jim to do the same, and as Jim did, Blair swallowed and said, "Well, I got up on the chair, to check where the cold was coming from, and suddenly, it was jerked out from under me."

"And Henri caught you?"


"Do you have another word in your vocabulary for yep?"



"I am not a dumbfuck. I'm a very smart fuck. And a very good fuck. I give good fuck too."

"You seem rather calm about this whole thing, Chief."

Smiling, Blair said, "Amazingly enough, so do you."

"Yeah, well, experience and all. But the chair thing worries me. Are we looking at another shaman like..."

"No. Definitely a ghost."

Jim took a much needed sip of tea, then after swallowing, asked, "But not like Molly?"

"No, not like Molly."

"You know, I didn't sense anything, when I walked in. Shouldn't I have? If it's a ghost?"

Blair chomped down on his pickle and gave the question some thought, then shrugged again. "Hell if I know."

"I just love you know-it-alls. And why do you put the pickle on the sandwich, then take it off, eat the sandwich, then the pickle? Why don't you just leave the pickle off the sandwich?"

Blair glanced down at his plate, then up to Jim. "Well, duh. I like the flavor of the sandwich on the pickle, but I don't like the pickle on the sandwich. All these years and you don't know this about me?"

"What I know, is that you put the fucking pickle on the sandwich, then you take it off. Now I know why the fuck you do it."

"Feel better now, do you?"

Jim grinned sheepishly and nodded. "Yeah, I do."

"You are so transparent."

"Well, if Henri hadn't caught you..."

"But he did."

"But if he hadn't..."

"But he did."

Jim pushed his chair away, lifted both empty plates, carried them into the kitchen, and rinsed them off. As Blair watched, a tolerant gleam in his eye, Jim said, "So sue me."

"Heck no. Why, if Henri hadn't caught me," Blair teased.


"A naked schmuck at the moment, but soon to rectify that situation. And speaking of rect... ifying..."

Jim spun around, caught Blair's amused expression, and flipped him the bird.

"I was just going to ask if you knew where my jeans might be?"

Jim made a show of sniffing rabidly, then with a smirk, pointed at the stairs.

Blair flipped him the bird. Then retrieved his jeans—from the third step.



"So you ready?"

"Yep. You?"


"Okay, but take it slow. Don't go into the squad room with senses on full alert, do it gradually, you know?"

"I know."

Jim pushed the elevator button. A few seconds later, there was a ping, the up light lit, and the doors slid open. They stepped in, and with a deep sigh, Jim punched six. As the elevator started up, Jim, his eyes on the elevator board, said, "Whatever happened to plain old everyday criminals? Someone like Kincaid? Or our old friend Brackett?"

"Ah, the good old days."

The elevator opened and stepping out, Jim shot out a hand, grabbed Blair's shirt and said, "I loved the good old days, Chief. Bring 'em back, okay?"

"Would that be with or without us having sex?"



They pushed through the doors together, immediately grateful that with the exception of Connor and Peters, the squad room was unoccupied. Blair moved to his desk, grateful not to be feeling any unusual chill. Jim moved a bit slower, but eventually, he too sat down.

"Well, that was interesting."

"You felt something, Jim?"

"No, it was just interesting."


Jim was considering sticking out his tongue at his partner, but Connor made that impossible by sauntering over and leaning against Blair's desk.

"So, I understand from Henri that you, he and Rafe had an interesting morning."

Jim answered for Blair by saying, "Henri has an overactive mouth and a big imagination."

"Clever, very clever, Ellison, but I was addressing your partner."

"Nothing of significance occurred, Megan," Blair broke in, hoping to cut the usual Ellison-Connor bickering in half.

"Nothing of significance, Sandy? Come on, Henri said you could have taken a nasty spill and he kept talking about flying paper and..."

"We have poltergeists, Connor," Jim surprised Blair by saying rather sarcastically.

"Very funny, Jim. We have poltergeists the way you had ESP. Now come on, you can tell me."

Picking up a folder of work, Jim waved it at the woman, and with his most charming smile said, "Shoo, Connor. Go—work—be productive."

Sapphire blues were trained on Sandburg, who just shrugged helplessly. Giving a disgusted shrug of her own, Connor finally went back to her own desk.

"One of these days, Jim."

"Yeah, yeah, she's gonna shoot me."

"Oh, I think she'll be way more creative and productive than simply shooting you, Jim. And by the way, I need you to describe something for me."

"Yeah? What?"

"The cold you experienced with Molly."

Jim let out a deep breath and closed his eyes. He knew there was a good reason for the question and if Blair said there was a ghost, well, hell, there was a ghost. But still...

"Okay, it was—cold, but not—cold. I mean, obviously I'm more susceptible to temperature changes and that abandoned building was certainly chilly, but as you said, it was warmer than outside. But what I experienced was this immediate change. I was chilled to the bone, wanted to rub my hands and blow on them, I guess," he finished lamely.

"So, the cold didn't—bother you? You weren't upset by it? Just puzzled?"

"Upset? No, I wasn't upset. And what the heck are you getting at, Chief?"

Blair spun his chair around and lowered his voice, suddenly keenly aware of Connor, who was watching them. "Look, when you first became aware of a difference, what were your first thoughts? Very first thoughts?"

"Um, that it sure was cold?"

"Jim, help me out here."

Ellison schooled his expression, trying to hide the grin, then said honestly, "That it was suddenly colder and it was strange."

"That's all? Just—strange?"

"Yep, that's it."

"So no, like, fear—or anything?"

"Fear?" Jim thought back, then shook his head. "No, definitely no fear. And as I understand it, the cold, so well explained by you, is the movement of the... what did you call it? Protoplasm?"

"Ectoplasm, Jim, ectoplasm. Some ghost hunters believe that ghosts leave this residue, namely..."


"Yeah. This residue is believed, by some, to be the reason for cold spots. And believe me when I tell you that the cold I experienced—well, I felt chilled to the bone all right—and it wasn't a nice feeling."

"The cold made you feel something? Is that what you're saying?"

"Oh, yeah. Big time. You know how some people will say that they feel something bad passing through them? Like someone walking over their grave?"


"That's how the cold earlier made me feel."

"Well, fuck."



The voices. They were back. The hatred and rage coalesced, allowing him to gain strength and come together again...



"Gentlemen, a few minutes of your time, please?"

Jim glanced up at Simon, who was standing in his door, and nodded. "Yes, sir, on our way."

Sharing puzzled glances, Ellison and Sandburg stood and headed to Simon's office.

"Have a seat. We've got a problem."

As the two men took their usual seats, Simon perched on the edge of his desk and crossed his arms. "Actually, I should have said, you have a problem. Homicide just arrested Sam Conover for the murder of Willis Bartlett."

Jim shot up, exclaiming, "Homicide? It's not their case, Simon!"

"Thank you for pointing that out, Detective. Now tell me something I don't know."

"Sir, Conover didn't do it."

"Sandburg, he confessed."

Jim sunk back down like a limp washrag.

"If he did, then he's protecting someone, Simon. I'd stake Jim's reputation on it."

Simon quirked one eyebrow as he asked, "Jim's reputation?"

Smiling, Blair said, "Well, I don't exactly have one, you know?"

Rolling his eyes, Simon glanced at Jim and said, "You've got twenty-four, Jim. Bring me the real killer."



"Just grab your jacket, Chief. We're gonna head down to holding and talk with Conover."

"Jim, he isn't going to..."

Blair stopped because—Jim had stopped. Cold.

"Jim? Man? What's up here? You're scaring me..."

Jim turned slowly and faced his partner, his expression one of disbelief.

"Don't you feel it, Chief?"

Blair took two steps back. He didn't want to feel it again.

"Jim, Conover now, cold spots later."

Shaking his head, Jim nodded, reached for their coats, tossed Blair's over to him and said, "Right, Conover. Let's go."



The voices faded and so did his strength...



"You felt it, didn't you?"

They were in the elevator, which had just stopped at four to allow two traffic officers off, and now, alone, Blair's curiousity got the better of him.

Jim scratched the back of his neck and shook his head. "I can't say that I felt a cold, exactly. More like, now don't laugh, but I was walking and suddenly, I was walking through something—or—someone, familiar. The sense of familiarity was more powerful to me than any cold associated with the... whatever."


Jim looked down at his partner, one eyebrow arched. "Uh, Chief? Wow?"

"What, you wanted something more?"

"You know, you are really difficult, sometimes."

Jim was saved by the ding.



Jim stood against the wall, staring down at his feet while Blair sat at the small table, staring at his hands. They were waiting for Conover to be brought to the room usually reserved for suspects and their lawyers. While they waited, both men reviewed the case in their minds.

Willis Bartlett, forty-six years of age, ex-Cascade police officer and owner of a security firm, had been found bludgeoned to death in a communal business suite at the Conover Building by a guard making his rounds. According to the guard, Bartlett shouldn't have been there. It was after hours and he hadn't been logged in, nor had he been in the appointment book for that day. The suite was used by top management to conduct interviews and short business meetings. The only physical evidence: the heavy, brass sculpture of the Giger creation, the alien creature from the movie of the same name.

The sculpture belonged to Sam Conover, President and CEO of Conover Industries, and his prints were the only ones found on the item. That had made him the number one suspect, with or without an apparent motive.

"Who could he be protecting, Chief?" Jim finally asked.

"Anyone. His family is very close-knit. Did you find anything in that PR file that Midge scrounged up?"

"Not what you were hoping I'd find. Bartlett Security never worked for any of the Conover PR events."

"Actually, Jim, I was hoping that you wouldn't find a connection. No connection helps destroy any blackmail motive. We already know that Bartlett never came into contact with Conover in any other way, legal wise, that is."

"What about the rest of the family?" Jim asked.

"You tell me."

"So the next step—tying Bartlett to another Conover."

"His sister Tricia's heavily involved in cancer research. She gave several charity events. High profile too. Then there's his uncle, political big wig, fund raising soirees, Republican party, rah, rah, rah. But then, Midge's file would have included those, right?"

Before Jim could answer, the door opened and Sam Conover was ushered in by an officer. At a look from Jim, the officer nodded and backed out.

"Mr. Conover, please, have a seat."

The young industrialist looked from Jim to Blair, then back to Jim. He didn't move.

"Detective Ellison, it's over. I confessed."

"Yes, but you didn't do it."

Taking his cuffed hands and rubbing his chin, Conover almost grinned. "Last time I checked, confession meant that one did something that needed confessing. I did it. I killed him."


It was a simple question, put quietly and gently to Conover by Blair, who simply gazed up at him, his face completely open.

Frowning, Conover said, "The why isn't important. You've got your man."

"Who are you protecting, Conover?" Jim's voice held no gentleness.

"I'd like to go back to my cell."

Sam Conover didn't have a clue what that simple statement told Jim, who, after studying the man for a moment, finally pushed away from the wall, took the two steps to the door, opened it and indicated to the officer standing outside that he could take Conover.

As Jim watched Conover being led out, he said, with warning in his voice, "This isn't over, Conover."

When the door shut, Blair asked, "Well?"

"He's protecting someone, all right."

"So what now?"

Jim zipped up his jacket and said, "We go back to the Conover Building. Check out the suite again. Talk to the staff... Basically, we start over."


"It's not that bad, Chief. We've only had the case for two days. Bartlett isn't even in his grave yet."

"Yeah, but you're not going to be thanked for continuing to work on it. Bartlett might not be a cop anymore, but he was, once."

"Yeah, he was a cop, so what? He was never a good cop, Sandburg. When he retired and started up his own security firm, the rumors flew like flies on a dead body. It took big bucks to start that firm and no cop retiring after only twenty years would have big bucks."

"Jim, he was still a cop. Closed societies, remember? Once a cop, always a cop."

Jim's only comment was a grumbled umph, and then they were once again entering the elevator, this time to go down one to the parking garage.



The same receptionist that had welcomed them forty-eight hours ago welcomed them again. Apparently she was unaware that her boss had confessed to murder.

"Detective Ellison, did you need to go back up to the suite?"

"Yes, thank you, Miss?"

"Castenada. Tracy."

"Of course. And would you be able to connect me with whoever might supply my partner and me with some information about future charity events sponsored by Conover Industries?"

"Well, actually, I can help you with that. I work with both Mr. Conover and his sister Tricia, and with their uncle, Paul Cooper."

Jim leaned intimately against the counter, giving her a dazzling smile, and asked, "Who usually arranges the security details?"

Tracy frowned, charmingly, and bit her lower lip, then said, "Well, if it's an event held here, the Grauman's Security people handle everything, but we have many off-site affairs and when we do, we contract out. I have a file here, hang on..."

She twisted in her seat and opened the drawer of a file cabinet, rifled through several hanging files, and finally pulled one out. She turned back and laid the folder down, opened it, and started flipping through the pages.

"Um, let's see... we have an American Cancer Society gala coming up next month and it looks as though two firms were contacted regarding security." She paused, flipped another page and said, "Now this is odd... especially since we've never used this one before..."

She seemed to freeze, then with a worried look, glanced up at Jim. "You see, one of them is... is, Bartlett Security... the other is Wendt Security, the one we've used the most frequently..."

"So what's so odd, Tracy?" Blair asked encouragingly.

"Well, you see, we normally just send out bid letters, you know? But it's a formality. We always go with Wendt, but this time, this time it looks as though... well, Tricia evidently set up an interview appointment—with both."

Jim reached for the file, saying, "May I, Tracy?"

With only a slight bit of hesitation, she handed over the file. Jim perused it for a few seconds, then with eyes still down and reading, he asked, "Is Miss Conover around today?"

"Yes, she's upstairs, in her office. She's been here since eight this morning."

Closing the file, Jim smiled again, saying, "Thank you. We'll just go on up."

"Of course, I'll let her assistant know you're on your way."

Jim slid the file over, then stepped in behind Blair, who was already heading toward the elevator. As the doors closed, shutting them off from Tracy, Blair muttered, "You were flirting. For crying out loud, you were flirting."

"I was not. I was being charming, Chief. I can do charming, you know."

"You are so full of it."

"Yep. So full of charm, you can barely keep your hands off of me."

"Oh, pu-leeze."



"I believe Miss Conover is expecting us? Detective Ellison and Blair Sandburg?"

"Yes, of course. Please have a seat, she'll be with you shortly."

Neither man sat down. Five minutes later, the phone buzzed and when the assistant hung up, she said, "Miss Conover will see you now."

She stood and opened the door behind her and Jim, with Blair bringing up the rear, walked into Tricia Conover's office.

"Detective Ellison, I hope you're here to give us all good news? That you've caught the person who killed Mr. Bartlett?"

Jim had been planning how to handle this since reading the file downstairs and nothing had happened to change his mind. He looked steadfastly at the woman standing across from him and said, "Your brother confessed, Miss Conover."

For a moment, it was as if he'd said nothing. There wasn't even a flicker from the woman. Then—she dropped to the chair behind her.

"That's not possible."

"I'm afraid it is. He's sitting in a holding cell right now and he's refused to see his lawyer. His arraignment is scheduled for tomorrow."

"I... I... this is not... he wouldn't. He wouldn't."

"He did. But maybe you could help us with something?"

She wasn't looking at him. For that matter, she wasn't looking at anything. Her eyes had glazed over as her hand moved to her mouth.

"Miss Conover, did you hear me? We could use your help with something."

"Wha... what?"

"You never mentioned yesterday, when we first interviewed you, that you'd scheduled an interview with Willis Bartlett."

"I did?"

"Yes, Miss Conover, you did."

"Oh, of course. Mr. Wendt insisted. It was very unusual, actually. But the benefit is the largest of its kind, for the American Cancer Society, you know, and we're expect..."

"Mr. Wendt insisted on this interview?"

"Yes. He called me at about four on Thursday, asked for the interview, so I set it up for Friday at two. But he said it would be easier for the two of them if it could be later, after five. I set it up for six-thirty."

"Miss Conover, let me get this straight. The night Bartlett was murdered, he was supposed to be here? And you somehow failed to mention this to the police?"

"Detective Ellison, the appointment was cancelled. What was there to tell?"

"We've seen the appointment log," Jim said quietly. "And neither man was listed. How do you explain that? Or that Bartlett was never signed in?"

"I can only explain the appointment book. They were never in it because he cancelled before I had it put in."

"Then how did he get inside the building?" Blair asked gently, his demeanor one of encouragement.

"He couldn't have. Not without an appointment or someone vouching for him or not without Wendt."

Jim cocked his head. Wendt seemed to be coming up quite a bit.

"Miss Conover, why do you say that?"

"Charlie Wendt has a cardkey to the entrance in the garage." At the puzzled look on both men's faces, she explained, "Wendt Security is Grauman's. They merged five years ago and Grauman's handles the private industrial end of security while Wendt handles residences, planned communities and special events."

Jim and Blair exchanged significant looks, then Jim turned back to Tricia Conover as some of the pieces started to come together.

"Miss Conover, why were you even considering Bartlett Security?"

"Well, a few weeks ago, I received a portfolio from them. I was impressed, they were branching out and hungry. My job is to save money with charity events, Detective, and while Wendt usually handled us, they were getting expensive."

"I see. Well, thank you for your help."

"But, but, what about my brother? He didn't... he wouldn't..."

"I know, Miss Conover. We'll be in touch." With that, Jim nodded at Blair and they let themselves out.

Once back down in the lobby, Blair asked, "You've got something, don't you?"

"Yeah. Don't you?"

"Oh, yeah. We're going to see Wendt, aren't we?"

"You got it, Toto, but first, we're going to let you do a bit of digging back at the station. We need financial info on Wendt Security."

"Feed me a bone, and I'm yours."

"Damn straight."



Without the voices, he was nothing. He floated aimlessly, without direction—but knew that his territory had boundaries. And then... the voices returned.



"You start gathering that information and I'll go bring Simon up to date, Chief."

"You got it, but at the first sign of cold, I'm yelling for the Mounties."

Jim stopped, turned, raised an eyebrow. "Mounties, Chief? What's wrong, no faith in me?"

"Nah, it's not that. But somehow, I suspect that Fraser could—think the ghost into oblivion. You know?"

"I'll keep that in mind, Sandburg. If you can't talk the thing to death. Oh, wait, it's already dead..."



Blair moved the cursor to the print icon and clicked. He had enough to make the interview with Wendt very interesting. He got up and walked over to the printer, but with a frown, noted that nothing had printed. The light was green, nothing was in the queue, nothing appeared to be stuck...

He started back to the computer, but the sound of paper moving through the printer turned him around. Thank God, it was coming out.

And come out, it did. As Blair neared the machine, paper began to spew forth, increasing in speed until the stuff was almost dangerous.

And—it was—cold.

Very cold.

As paper swirled around him, Blair froze.



Joel Taggert walked down the hall, whistling and nodding to other officers as he passed. He was in a good mood, had just had a great lunch and he was back before the squad room would fill, which meant a bit of peace and quiet. Life was good.

Until he entered the bullpen.

He couldn't, later, remember what hit him first; the cold or the papers flying in a strange circle around the one lone occupant of the office, but whichever it was—it stopped him in his tracks. For maybe eight seconds. Then awareness crawled back into his brain and a single thought took over...

Those papers are gonna kill Sandburg.

Joel dove for the young man. He hit Blair hard and drove him to the ground and as their bodies slammed into linoleum, there was yelling and thumping and frantic footsteps and—the papers slowly floated down to land softly, with a delicate swoosh on the floor.



"So what exactly are you telling me, Jim?"

"I think we have a new suspect, unrelated to the Conovers, but I'll know more after Sandburg wields his computer magic."

"So what exactly aren't you telling me, Jim?"

"If I tell you, then I'm no longer not telling you, sir."

"Speak now, or work the next three Saturdays."

Jim grinned and setting his cup of coffee on Simon's desk, said, "Yes, well, guess I'd better tell you then. I think Sam is protecting his sister."

Simon sat back in his chair and steepled his fingers. His expression was harmless, which meant he was ready to bite.

"You have a new suspect, not a Conover, yet Sam Conover is protecting his sister? Care to explain?"

At the question, Jim frowned, his mood suddenly less than jovial.

"I think..."

Jim paused, suddenly uncertain how much to tell Simon without more than his senses to back him up. Simon saved him any further uncertainty.

"This is based on what your senses have told you, right, Jim?"

"Yeah, in a way. Along with good old-fashioned gut instinct. I think Tricia found Bartlett—dead."

"And Sam Conover thinks..."

Jim held up a hand as he shook his head. He glanced to his left and through the slats of Simon's window, spotting his partner standing by the printer. "Sir, let me finish this up today, confirm some details, then Sandburg and I..."

But he got no further as outside, in the bullpen, two things happened almost simultaneously; paper began to shoot out of the printer at breakneck speed and Joel Taggert entered, froze, then tackled Sandburg.

Jim was up and with Simon close on his heels, had the door thrown open and was rushing to the two fallen men, Simon's bellow in his ears...




Jim was on his knees, Joel was pushing himself up and Simon was standing over them muttering, "How the hell did it get so cold in here?"

Blair rolled over the moment he felt the weight of his friend shift, but he didn't sit up. Instead, he lay on his back, eyes closed, and tried to figure out what had happened...

Cold. Papers flying...

"Chief, you okay? And what the fuck happened to your face?"

Blair opened his eyes and found himself staring up into Jim's worried eyes.


"Yeah, Chief, face. Here, let me..."

"Jim, bring him into my office, let's take this out of the bullpen, the others are starting to return."

"Right, Simon."

As Jim answered Simon, he slipped an arm around Blair, and with assistance from Joel, who was still looking a bit shell-shocked, they got the younger man to his feet and inside their captain's office.

Jim kicked the door shut—effectively shutting out the cold.



There—but not. And he couldn't seem to move past that door...

So he'd wait.



Joel was ridiculously glad that the cold didn't follow them inside Simon's office. Which was silly, because how could cold follow? Breathing hard, he sat down at the conference table and closed his eyes. This wasn't—normal.

"Jeesh, Jim, his face..."

"I know, sir, I know. Can you get some water and..."

"On my way."

Joel's eyes opened fast and he turned his head to see Blair next to him and Jim kneeling in front of the younger man's chair, his hand holding Blair's face and turning it right, then left.

"The paper," Joel said, his voice odd. When Jim glanced over at him, Joel added, "The paper. Those are paper cuts. Didn't you see the stuff? Shooting out, so damn fast, then... then... it kind of—circled around him..."

The hall entrance to Simon's office opened and Simon rushed in, Rhonda behind him, carrying first aid supplies. The young woman set everything down on the table and Jim reached, but Simon was faster.

"I'll get these open," he said, his fingers tearing and ripping. Then he handed the soft, antiseptic-drenched gauze to Jim, who began to dab at the several small cuts that graced Blair's cheeks and forehead.

And Blair said his first words.

"Mom always used Bactine. This is better. Doesn't stink."



Coffee had been poured, and Rhonda, once assured that Blair and Joel were fine, left, her intentions being to immediately call the Canon guy.

Now the four men sat around the table but three pairs of eyes were trained on Blair, who was sipping coffee like it was going out of style. "Chief? Can you tell us what happened?"

Blair glanced up from his mug and waggled his eyebrows at Jim, who quickly glanced away and said a lame, "Oh."

"Uh, Jim?" Simon inquired, puzzled.

"Sir, maybe you don't want to know what happened. And in case you need more assistance, let me say one word: Molly."

Simon glanced from Jim, to Blair, and back to Jim. "Tell me you didn't just not say, what I think you didn't say?"

"He did, sir," Blair answered.

Simon frowned and asked, "He did not say what I thought he didn't say, or he did say what I thought he didn't say?"

Blair rolled his eyes, Jim stared up at the ceiling and Joel, well, Joel turned to look aghast at Sandburg and said, "Is Jim saying we have a ghost?"

Simon's mug crashed onto the table as he almost yelled, "Jim didn't say that, Taggert!"

"We have a ghost, Simon," Jim said, unnecessarily.

"I was afraid that's what you weren't saying." Simon sighed heavily.

Shaking his head, Joel said dispiritedly, "And this is not a nice ghost."

"I'll second that," Blair said, fingering one of the small cuts on his cheek.

Simon's gaze traveled from Joel, to Blair, to Jim, and remaining on Jim, he asked, "So what do we do? You two took care of Molly's problem, helped her, so what happens here? Or maybe I just call the Commissioner? Tell him we have a ghost and he needs to fix it?"

"Sir, right now, we have a murder to solve and Sandburg and I have a man to see. But as soon as we're done, I promise, the two of us will take care of the ghost."

Jim looked over at his partner for confirmation and when Blair nodded, they stood. Jim started to exit through the door into the squad room, but Blair gave a little ahem and the man immediately turned and both left through Simon's hall door.

Simon and Joel watched Jim and Blair talking outside, in the hall, and continued to drink their coffee, neither man making any move to get up and return to business.



"Tell me we don't have to go back into the squad room, Chief?"

"We don't. I found what we needed to make the interview with Wendt interesting, but it's all up here." Blair tapped his temple and grinned.

"So fill me in. Right now, I want normal."

"Oh, right. Murder, greed, yep, normal."

"Sandburg, talk."

So Blair did, all the way down to the truck.



"You're saying that Wendt Security is going bust?"

"Oh, yeah. Big time. And it's taking its partner, Grauman's, with it. I suspect some major hanky-panky with the books. That's one of the reasons for the sudden increase in pricing that Miss Conover mentioned. I looked at the rate schedules as published last year, then compared them to this year, and in the last several months, they've raised their prices by over twenty percent, and they're still climbing."

"So along comes Bartlett, branching out..."

"I think it's more than that, Jim. I think Bartlett was smelling blood. He's a cop, he has contacts, right?"

At Jim's nod, Blair went on. "So it wouldn't take much to become suspicious. Bartlett then sends out these portfolios and yes, Jim," Blair said, anticipating his partner's next question, "I did check up on which customers received these portfolios and yep, they were all Wendt regulars."

Jim whistled as he pulled the truck into a parking spot on Marguarite Parkway, just in front of the building that housed both Grauman's and Wendt Security.

"I think we have more than enough here, Chief. Good work."

"Unless Tricia Conover did kill Bartlett..."

"Chief, sometimes..."

Smiling, Blair jumped out and waited for his now slightly disgruntled partner. As Jim came up to him, he put a finger under Blair's chin and tilted his head up.

"You know, maybe a paper bag, Chief? Don't want to scare anyone..."

"You schmuck. And it's almost Halloween. I fit right in..."



"We're here to see Charles Wendt. And no, we don't have an appointment." As Jim spoke, he took out his badge and flashed it in front of the woman's eyes. Which popped wide.

"Um, oh, I see. Of course. Just one moment."

The woman picked up the phone and punched in one number.

"Ma'am? Yes, I have two gentlemen out here, from the—Cascade Police Department? Oh, yes, immediately."

She put down the phone, stood and moved around from behind her desk. "Please, if you'd follow me?"

The woman led them down a long hall, passed several open offices where men and women worked at computers, then stopped at a door that simply said WENDT on it. She knocked and entered.

"Mrs. Wendt, these are the two men from the police."

Another woman, in her mid-thirties, attractive and clearly in charge, stood and nodding, said, "Thank you, Ruth."

Ruth made a quick exit and Jim stepped forward.

"Mrs. Wendt? I'm Detective Jim Ellison and this is my partner, Blair Sandburg. We'd like to have a few minutes of Mr. Wendt's time."

"My husband is on the phone right now, but he'll be finished shortly. But I'm curious. Why would the Cascade Police Department need to see Charlie?"

"I'm afraid..."

"Patty, I'll handle this."

The voice came from behind Blair, but Jim was already turning to face the man.

"Mr. Wendt?"

"Yes, I'm Charles Wendt. And you're?"

"Detective Jim Ellison, Cascade Police, Major Crime Division, and my partner, Blair Sandburg."

Blair couldn't fail to notice the way Jim stressed Major Crime. Nor could he fail to note how it worked on the man standing before them. Charles Wendt paled.

"Yes, well, please, come in. We can talk easier in my office." Then he looked over Blair's head to his wife and said, "Patty, hold my calls, please."

Before the woman could say anything, Wendt had ushered Jim and Blair inside and shut the door. Firmly.

"Now," he said, facing the two men, "what can I do for you?"

"We're investigating the death of Willis Bartlett. I believe you and he were in the same business. Rivals even?"

"Rivals? Not really. Bartlett Security is a young company, not well established yet. No, I wouldn't say we were rivals at all."

Charles Wendt was one cool customer, Blair had to concede. But how much was his body giving away to Jim?

If anyone ever asked, Blair could honestly say that this was his favorite part of working with Jim Ellison. The interview. The questions. And knowing that Jim was cataloguing every single response...

"Our information indicates differently, Mr. Wendt."

Cataloguing responses to simple, baited questions like that one. Oh, yeah, working with a sentinel was pretty nifty.

"Information, Detective Ellison?"

"Both Wendt Security and Bartlett Security were vying for the same job. The gala sponsored by Conover Industries for the American Cancer Society. A real coup for Bartlett, if he landed it. Major breakthrough into your customer base."

Wendt moved to the large corner window and stood with his back to the two men, hands clasped behind him.

"I would be a fool to say that the idea that Wendt Security wouldn't be doing a Conover charity event wasn't... strange, but we would hardly be in trouble. Just more competitive in the future. Losing one bid can shake a company up, for the good, but it's hardly worth killing over, Detective. And I assume that's why you're here?"

"Yes, that's why I'm here. And losing this gala would have been bad. Very bad. Surely you realize we have access to financial information, Mr. Wendt. We know how much trouble this company is in. And we know that you arranged a meeting between yourself, Willis Bartlett and Tricia Conover. We know that you cancelled that meeting. And what we're now wondering, is whether you cancelled with Bartlett."

"Of course I did. I spoke to him myself."

"Not his secretary? A receptionist?"

"No, I have a direct number to the man."

"That's too bad, Mr. Wendt."

Wendt turned to gaze at Jim, a frown marring his otherwise calm countenance. "Why is that too bad?"

"Simply that if you'd spoken with a receptionist, there'd be some corroboration of your story."

The man's face smoothed over and he smiled. "Nonsense. What could have been cancelled with a receptionist, could later have been reinstated with Bartlett."

"True. But either way—there are phone records, Mr. Wendt."

"I'm sure. And what you'll find is his number, dialed at approximately four-thirty and lasting for about one minute. Or less."

For the first time, Blair spoke up. "Yes, I'd imagine we would, Mr. Wendt. You'd need to phone him in order to tell him to meet you in the garage, on the back side, by the private entrance, for which you have a card..."

He let his voice trail off, let the words sink in and was pretty sure that the small tic at the man's left eye was not the only sign of discomfiture. He could only imagine what Jim could sense that wasn't visible to anyone else.

"I didn't..."

But Blair went on as if he hadn't heard the man...

"You'd need to tell him that so there'd be no reason to go in through the lobby entrance, to sign in. You'd already cancelled the appointment..."

"But, he'd have cancelled it, in his books!"

"Why?" Blair asked innocently. "I suspect the records will show only one phone call. The one you needed to make in order to get Bartlett there.

"When he arrived, you took him up in the private elevator, guided him into the suite, picked up the statue, and killed him. Then you left as quietly and unobtrusively as you and Bartlett had arrived."

"Video cameras..."

"There aren't any, Mr. Wendt, not at the back entrance. The family entrance," Jim told him.

Charles Wendt turned back around to stare out the window, but this time, his hands fell to his sides as his shoulders slumped.

"It was the perfect crime. You're right. He was trying to steal my business. And he'd found out—things. He was an ex-cop, he had sources. But with him out of the way—my firm was protected."

"Mr. Wendt, we're cops. We have sources. Why would you think that what he'd found, we wouldn't also find?"

Wendt turned and held out his hands, palms up and said, "Because it was the perfect crime, see? Because I did it. I could have hired someone, nearly did hire a hit man, but then, well, then there'd be that one other person who knew, you know?"

"Charles Wendt, you're under arrest for the murder of Willis Bartlett. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can't afford one, one will be..."



"Miss Conover, thank you for coming back. I understand you tried to visit your brother earlier?"

"Yes. But... he wouldn't see me." Tricia Conover lifted anguished eyes to Jim and repeated, "He wouldn't see me, Detective."

"I know. Please, take a seat." Jim pulled out a chair in the small room and almost painfully, Tricia Conover sat down, then placed her hands on the table and folded them together.

"We're bringing your brother up, Miss Conover. I'm hoping we can clear up a few things. Would you like some coffee while we wait?"

"I... yes, please. Strong, black, if possible?"

Blair nodded and said, "One black, coming right up. And strong is the only way we make it around here," he finished, with a gentle smile. A few moments later, he returned and handed one coffee to Tricia Conover and one to Jim.

"Thought you could use this too."

"Thanks, Chief."

As both Jim and Tricia took sips, the door opened and Sam Conover was once again escorted in, hands cuffed. Addressing the officer, Jim said, "You can take those off, Washington."

Hesitating only slightly, the man did as told and then exited quietly.

"Why am I here? And why have you dragged my sister down here?"

"Mr. Conover, we didn't drag your sister anywhere. She tried to see you earlier. We're just—making that possible now. And we're hoping to get the truth out of you two."

Eyes flashing in anger, Sam Conover nearly exploded. "THERE'S NOTHING TO GET FROM US. I CONFESSED, GOD DAMN IT!"

"Yes, you did. To a murder you didn't commit," Blair said gently, then he added, "To a murder that neither of you committed."

Tricia Conover stared at her older brother, eyes wide with understanding. "That's why you confessed? Because you thought I did it?"

She was up and moving to her brother's side, reaching out, taking his hand and with a sigh, she brought the shaking hand to her cheek. "Aw, God, Sam. I told you that I didn't..."

"I know, sis, I know. But..."

"I should be mad..."

"You found him, didn't you, Miss Conover?"

Without taking her eyes from her brother, Tricia Conover nodded. "Yes, Detective Ellison, I found him. I'd left some important paperwork behind and the door to the suite was open, and it shouldn't have been. I stepped inside and there he was, and the statue, Sam's statue, was on the floor, and I knelt down and felt for a pulse—and that's when Sam walked in."

Sam Conover took over then by saying, "I was checking on a fax that was supposed to come to my home, but when it didn't, I came back here, thinking that Paul had forgotten and simply sent it to my office. As I walked by, the door was open and Tricia was on her knees and she gazed up at me when I stepped in and said, 'He's dead. He's dead.' That's when I decided—so I got her up, sat her down in my office, went back, wiped everything down, put my fingerprints on the statue and got her out of there."

Jim shook his head and looked over at his partner, who shrugged. Jim turned back to the Conovers and said, "Mr. Conover, you're free to go."


"You and your sister can go home. Well, once you get through the paperwork. We have the killer."

Looking as confused as he should, Sam Conover sputtered out, "But...but... who, who did it?"

"Charles Wendt."

Sam closed his eyes and took his sister into his arms.



"They did obstruct justice, Jim."

"No kidding."

"You think they'll be charged for it?"

"Not our call, Chief."

"I guess not." Blair sighed. "So, now all we have to do—is solve the mystery of the ghost that haunts Major Crime."

"Aw God—did you have to remind me?"

"Yes, I did. It's a dirty job, but like your laundry, someone's gotta do it."

"Sandburg, I think you have our laundry mixed up."

"Always do, Jim. Always do. What, you expect me to separate out the Sandburg stuff from the Ellison stuff, like separating the whites from the colors? I don't think so."

"Considering that you still can't separate the whites from the colors and I still find myself getting pink boxers—I'd say..."

"Jim, you're stalling. Get out of the elevator."


Jim hit the door open button and did as his partner told him—which he'd been doing now for quite some time—and stood in the hall staring at the doors to Major Crime.

"We could go home, tackle this tomorrow. See," Jim pointed, "Simon's gone home. His door is closed."

"Anybody ever call you a chicken?"

"Not to my face."


"Yep. Can we go home and try this tomorrow?"

Blair fingered one of the cuts on his chin. Considering that he'd been getting the short end of this ghost thing—well, maybe Jim was on the right track. Maybe they should go home—come back tomorrow with a fresh perspective... and body armor...

"You know what I think? I think we should go home and try this tomorrow, Jim."

Jim stuck a finger in his ear, made a motion as if to clean it out, then said, "Is there an echo in here?"

Slapping Jim on the back of the head, Blair said, "Come on, let's go. How 'bout we stop for dinner at Mama Leoni's?"

"Now you're talking."



Midge Killian put the plastic cover over her keyboard, turned out the small light over her desk, made sure everything else was off, put on her coat and grabbed her purse. If she hurried, she could get to the store, get home, have a bath and all before The Watchman came on...

In her hurry, Midge forgot the necklace.



The darkness was forever, his travels, following the same path, forever.

Quiet—few bodies—no voices to give him strength.

Endless cold.

Endless hate.



Blair twisted the fork around a bunch of noodles, and raising the implement, stuck the whole thing in his mouth. He chewed, sighed and swallowed. Jim watched—grinning.

"Watching you eat spaghetti is the thrill of a lifetime, Sandburg."

Blair swirled another mass of noodles, stuck that mess in his mouth, allowing one strand to dangle, which he promptly sucked up in a move that would do a porn movie proud. It was also working wonders on Jim's libido.

"You done yet, Chief?" Jim asked, slightly worse for lack of blood to his brain and air in his lungs.

"Dessert. Tiramisu."

"Dessert. Jim Ellison."

Blair threw down his napkin, rested his fork on the edge of his plate and said cheekily, "Done. You pay."




"You're not sleeping."


"You are, in fact, thinking. And it's keeping me awake."

Blair lay on his back, hands behind his head. Jim lay half on Blair, half on his side of the bed.

"My thinking keeps you awake?"

"You think loud, Chief."

"I could think downstairs."

"Move—and you're dead meat."

"Then you're just gonna have to live with my loud thinking. Besides, I more than make up for loud thinking by great and sexy spaghetti eating."

"True. But for tonight, try and think more quietly. For me."

"Jim, Jim, Jim. I do everything for you."

Jim grinned and as he ran his hand lovingly up and down Blair's thigh, he said, "Ditto."



"Any ideas, Chief?"


Blair buttered another piece of toast, added some honey, dipped the corner into his coffee and then munched down. Opposite, Jim piled some scrambled eggs on his toast and did his own munching.

Reaching for their coffees at the same time, gulping and swallowing in unison, Jim said, as he put his mug down, "All that loud thinking, and this morning—nothing?"

"That's about it, Jim."

"Well, swell."

They finished breakfast and together, carried the dishes in and while Blair washed, Jim tidied up and wiped down the table.

"You heading to the U today for more research?"

"Nope. You have me all day. One ghost—going down."

"Sounds good. How's the research going, by the way?"

"Actually, mostly done. With the diss being halfway finished, I'm just doing some double checking. This puppy is really coming together, Jim."

"I get to read?"

"Of course, and don't worry—you'll get first dibs."

Jim held out Blair's jacket and as the younger man took it, Jim said, "You know, I'm getting excited about it. I can't wait, Chief."

"Love you too."



"Does it seem weird to you that we're about to try to bring down a ghost on—Halloween?"

"Blair, weird is our life."

"Yeah, I don't think it's weird either."

They stepped into the station and headed upstairs. As they entered Major Crime, they were glad to see that everything looked normal—if strange Halloween decorations could be called normal.

As the two men were about sit down, Simon stepped out and waved them into his office. Before the door was even shut, he started in...

"Complaints all morning, Jim. All morning."

"Sir? It's only nine o'clock."

"Sandburg, don't get on my bad side today."

"Sorry, sir."

"Officers complaining about cold spots, Homicide accusing us of a huge Halloween joke, Burglary accusing Homicide, Arson accusing Vice and Vice accusing everyone."

"Sir, are you saying that the cold is being felt all over the station?"

"Not at all. The sixth floor still has the distinction of being the only haunted floor. But it's a popular floor, gentlemen." Simon then turned to Blair and said in a tone that brooked no argument, "Fix it, Sandburg."



As the door shut behind them, Blair looked up at his partner and asked, "Fix it, Sandburg? How did this become fix it, Sandburg?"

Jim was about to come back with a snappy reply when Blair snapped his fingers and turned back to Simon's office. He knocked, then pushed in without waiting for an answer.

"Sir?" He peeked around the door and at Simon's frown, he walked back in. "Has anyone—logged the cold spots?"

"Logged the cold spots?" Simon asked incredulously.

"Yeah, you know. Write down all the spots that people have reported as being cold? Like by Jim's desk, Rafe's desk, the printer..."

Simon held up one hand, saying, "I get it. Well, lucky you, Connor has been doing something along those lines. See her, solve this, end this."

"Yes sir. And thank you sir, for the kind words yesterday."

Simon looked back up, surprised to see Sandburg still in his office. "Yesterday?"

"Why, yes sir. You know, all those gushing sentiments about what a good job Jim and I did in solving the Bartlett murder. Those kind words."

Brown eyes narrowed dangerously and Blair scurried out. As he shut the door, Jim said, "Man, you do have a death wish, Chief."



*Floating aimlessly, same path, back and forth, forth and back... *

The voices.





Midge opened her drawer, looking for her letter opener, and there it was—her brother's gift. Of course, the jewelry store. She quickly scooped the thing up and dropped it into her coat pocket. That was far enough away.

As she turned back to her desk, she felt a sharp pain in her back. Obviously not a kick. Could you feel a baby kick in your back? Maybe she'd better call her mom...



Blair moved about the office—slowly, his objective unclear to anyone looking—and everyone was looking. Covertly, but they were looking. Finally, he moved back to Jim's desk.

"No cold spots."

"Try the other spots on Connor's list—the halls."

"Gee, thanks, Jim."

Smiling wickedly, Jim said, "You're welcome."

Blair headed out. And found nothing. Until he went down the main corridor, toward the large set of doors that proclaimed Major Crime. Then he froze—because it was—cold.

Back in the squad room, Jim cocked his head and seconds later he was moving fast, Connor right behind him. Jim tore down the eastern hall and skidded to a stop behind his partner, who was standing by the doors, unmoving.



Jim reached out and laid a hand on one cold shoulder. "Blair?"

The cold moved. Through Blair. He shivered, turned, and watched Jim's face change as the cold moved through him. Then it was gone.


Blair took Jim's arm and pulled him back to the bull pen. Connor, who'd felt only the edge of the cold, followed quietly.

"What did you feel, Jim?" Blair asked, once they were back at their desks, Megan perched on Blair's.

Jim rubbed his face, then glanced up at his partner, who was hovering over him like a mother hen. Unsuccessfully trying to stem the sarcasm, he asked, "What did you feel?"


"Yeah, that about covers it, Sandburg."

"Aw, come on, Jim. You know you felt more. Just tell me."

"Cold-er. And... that... sense of familiar again. And—there was this—scent, I think."

"You think?"

"There was. Yeah, this strange, but familiar scent."

"Can you pin it down, Jim?"

"Well, it could have just been you, Sandburg."

"Hey, I showered this morning!"

"You used my gel again, didn't you?"


"Gentlemen?" Connor asked politely. "Do you think we could concentrate on the poltergeist that doesn't exist?"

Looking only marginally cowed, Jim tried to sort through all the odors around him, trying to find, to isolate, that one—scent. But no luck.

"It's gone, can't even call it back up."

At that moment, the glass in Simon's door—shattered. Everyone could now see Simon, jaw open, cigar falling... then he was up and standing, gazing down at his broken window.

"What the hell?"

Jim started to stand, but as he did, he heard Joel's voice, except—Joel wasn't anywhere around. Then items began to pop up all over the squad room. Papers, calendars, rolodexes, and they jumped up as if... as if...

More glass shattered, in succession, behind them, to the side, the windows that separated the bullpen from the halls that surrounded it...

The staccato sounds, the flying glass, detectives bounding over or under their desks, trying to avoid the glass, Jim's body hurtling toward Blair, taking them both to the ground, Connor down, thanks to Simon and ... as quickly as it started, it ended.

In the hall, officers, clerks and suspects stood staring as the men and women of Major Crime stood back up, brushed themselves off and looked about them—stunned.

A scream ripped through the halls and Corrine Butler, one of the clerks in Public Relations, yelled, "MIDGE IS HAVING THE BABY!"



A crowd had gathered around the small office and Jim had to shoulder his way through to get to Midge's side. Her fellow clerks already had her on the ground, a jacket bunched up and under her head. For a moment at least, ghosts, cold spots and weird happenings were forgotten.

He knelt down beside her and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. "Midge, you okay?"

As she turned her head towards his voice and opened her eyes, Blair dropped down on the other side and brushed hair from her forehead.

"Hey, guys, looks like I won't make that performance after all."

Smiling gently, the detective placed his other hand on her stomach, then grinned even more broadly. "Oh, I don't know," he said softly, "You have this baby in the next hour or so, and you'll still be able to make it."

Midge scrunched up her face, panted a bit, then gasped out, "I think I'm having it here and now, Jim!"

"No, no you're not. Don't worry, Junior Killian will not be born on the floor of the Cascade Police Department. You have time."

"The paramedics are on their way up, Jim," Simon added. Then to Midge, "Although, this wouldn't be the first baby to be delivered here. Of course, then you'd have to name the tyke, PD Killian."

She scrunched up her face again, but this time, not in pain. "Oooh, bad one, Captain Banks."

Voices telling others to move aside heralded the arrival of the paramedics and a gurney. Two men in blue dropped down next to the pregnant woman as Jim and Blair moved out of the way. Several minutes later, with a stabilized Midge safely loaded onto the gurney, they headed out. Before they reached the door, Midge's hand struck out as she pleaded, "Jim? Please?"

Taking her hand, Jim smiled and moved with the gurney out into the hall. Watching his partner leave, Blair glanced down and spotted Midge's jacket still on the floor. He bent over, picked it up, and drapping it over his arm, headed out into the hall.

In the crush of bodies in the hall, Blair found himself separated from Jim, but before he could catch up, something—strange happened...



He'd waited, hovering just outside the voices, but allowing the sound to feed his hate, to give him more strength than ever before. As the power swelled, he could hear his own voice yelling, "I WANT BARTLEY!" and he moved and found the ability to destroy...



Bullets flying. He could see the bullets flying and men diving for cover and Joel's voice yelling for Jim, asking if he was all right, puzzled, concerned—and he, Blair, squatting down, head moving as his eyes searched, seeing Joel rise, catching a glimpse of Zoeller, then tackling Joel...


And it was cold—ice cold—and Blair reached out with his mind, tried to reach out, but felt only hard, unforgiving, unrelenting cold. Insane cold, unreasoning cold.



Jim stepped back from the ambulance, gave the door a pat and watched as it moved slowly away. Several officers had searched for Jeff Killian, only to find that his city work here at the construction site was completed, but they'd managed to get word to the man so at least Midge knew her husband was on his way.

Turning from the street and stepping back up onto the sidewalk, Jim smiled at Simon. "Well, we almost had an official Cascade PD baby, Simon."

"Yeah, too close for comfort." Then the answering smile faded as memory of the events that preceeded Midge's emergency surfaced. "Shit, Ellison, what the hell happened up there?"

"I don't know, sir, but it seemed—well, I had this sense of deja vu, like it had happened before... and Simon, I could have sworn that I heard Joel's voice..."

"Joel? But he's in court this morning. You couldn't have heard..."

But Simon didn't finish. Couldn't finish. The look on Jim's face, combined with the man's next words, stopped him.

"Oh, God. Of course." Then Jim's head whipped around and with panic tinging his voice, he asked, "Where's Blair? Where's Sandburg?"

Puzzled, Simon turned, saying, "He's right here..."

Except—he wasn't.


"The scent, what happened upstairs, it's Zoeller. He's our ghost."

With those words, Jim was running back inside, Simon close on his heels. He didn't have a clue what Jim was talking about, but after four years, he trusted him.



The cold was moving and Blair followed. He was completely unaware that he was still holding Midge's jacket. After a few moments, he was running, not walking—and Blair understood that he was following Zoeller's moves on that fateful day.

Down the hall, running from something and that something had to be Jim because Zoeller was escaping and then Blair was pushing through the door marked stairs and he wondered, would he be able to stop this, if he wanted to? Who was in charge? Himself or Zoeller? But then he was climbing up to the roof, charging through the door and a curtain lifted between the present and the past and he could see Zoeller run out into the middle of the roof, heard Jim crash through the door behind him, gunshots thundered in his mind and he heard Jim gasp in pain and knew he was hearing Jim as he'd been shot but he couldn't go to the man, because, of course, Jim wasn't really here...

Something burning... his hand, his arm and Blair looked down at the jacket and he frowned. How? What? But damn, the cold was even worse now, and Blair thought his blood would actually congeal, but he was in control, not the Iceman, so he touched the coat, slipped his hand into the pocket, felt the chain, wrapped his fingers around it and pulled it out...

The medallion glittered in the sunlight, flickered in his eyes, almost blinding him and he squinted and something... a vision... came back to him and he could hear his own voice saying, All right, what are we going to do? Pull him up or knock him off? and then he saw Zoeller fire, hit the cable and start to fall...

And something shiny around his neck, breaking free long before the body hit the patrol car and that glittering object...

Blair stared at the item in his hand, and it was cold, not burning—except, cold could burn, couldn't it? And he could hear laughter now, surrounding him, and maybe he wasn't in so much control after all, and maybe he should—leave...

Something clattered behind him and he turned and saw a circle of black cable and it hadn't been there only moments before...

"All right, I know who you are, Zoeller. And I'm thinking I know what you want too. Revenge. And you're feeding off your hate, aren't you? Well, I got news for you—you failed then and you're going to fail now. It's over, you destroyed yourself last year. It's over."

More laughter and damn, that was a chilly and chilling sound. Jim was right, Brackett and Kincaid were looking good right about now. Hell, so was David Lash.

Blair didn't see the cable behind him start to move...



Jim rushed out of the elevator and froze. He frowned, looked left, then right...

Simon managed to stop his own forward movement in time to avoid hitting his friend. "Jim? What is it?"

"I don't—know. Something..."

There was nothing to see for Jim. He knew that. And smell wouldn't really work, not by itself, so Jim closed his eyes. He was frantic with worry, but he knew he had to be calm, had to do this the right way...

Cold and heat warring with each other. Zoeller's cold and Blair's body heat. All Jim had to do—was follow it.

Down the hall to the door that led to the stairs and that was all that Jim needed. He knew where they were.

"The roof, Simon. The roof."




The cable wound itself around Blair's leg and began to move—toward the roof edge. Blair went down heavily, unbalanced by the tugging of the black wire. He flipped over and struggled to move the other way, back towards the door, towards safety, and it was a tug-o-war, and somehow, the chain slipped over Blair's hand and down his wrist...

Aw, man, he thought, I'm a fucking shaman, right? And Zoeller is a crazy assassin. I should be able to beat him with my hands tied behind my back!

But he wasn't. Beating Zoeller. His body was being inexorably drawn toward the roof edge, and there were no incantations he could use, and his spirit animal seemed to be conspicious by its absence, and where the hell was Jim, anyway?

A crashing sound off to his right and Jim was there, with Simon, and they were grabbing at the cable, but Blair thought it was too late as his body thudded into the cement border and started up and really, no way could Zoeller be stronger than one shaman, one sentinel and one really pissed off captain.

Come to think of it, Blair was pretty pissed too. And sore.

He put out his hands, to brace himself and give him leverage to push away from the wall, and he saw the chain and how it had wound itself around his wrist, tighter and tighter, and he didn't like that one bit, and he could hear Jim and Simon and wondered what on earth this must look like to them...



Jim burst through the door much as he had a year before, and the sight that greeted him nearly froze his blood.

Blair, with a cable line wrapped around his body, was being, somehow, pulled to the edge of the roof, and he was fighting it, fingers grappling at anything, face angry and red and disgusted... Jim moved as he'd never moved before—or maybe—as he'd moved once before, and he could hear Simon beside him, heard his expletive, and they both grabbed at the cable, at the end by the winch and it was the same cable that Zoeller had used to launch himself over the edge and off the roof to what he'd believed would be freedom.

Two men, one a strapping six foot five, the other six-one, both strong, used to lifting weights, and they weren't making a bit of difference. They weren't stopping the cable.

When Blair's body hit the cement and started up and over, Jim yelled, "HOLD ON TO HIM, SIMON!" Then he dove for his partner, latched onto him, to the jacket that seemed to be around Blair's arm, and it slipped off and Jim found himself with an armful of nothing.


Jim did. He pounced, grabbed, and this time, he had Blair. He wrapped both arms around the man's waist and braced his feet against the cement and pulled back with all his strength and...



Blair felt Jim and Simon's strength and realized they were trying to stop him from going over, then he heard Jim yell, felt him grab hold, but it was Midge's jacket and it slipped from his arm, and there was another yell, this time from Simon, and Jim tried again and this time, Blair felt those wonderful, strong arms wrap around him.

But Jim was losing. As impossible as that sounded, even to Blair, it was true. Jim was losing. Blair was going over...

Simon made a giant leap forward and grabbed his detective before he could go over with Blair. There was a lurching feeling and he closed his eyes against the inevitable because he couldn't watch Blair Sandburg die again, especially since there could be no miracle this time...

Simon didn't know what he expected, but it wasn't Blair's voice saying, All right, what are we going to do? Pull him up or knock him off?

He opened his eyes and realized that while he still had Jim—Jim still had Blair, at least by one arm.


Blair was flailing about in the air, the only thing between him and the street below being Jim's hands around his wrist. And now, Simon could see what Blair was talking about and he knew he had to give Jim more room, so he let his arms slide down to the man's waist, but Jim was yelling back at him, "NO, SIMON, NO! I'VE GOT BLAIR, BUT YOU'VE GOT TO TAKE THAT THING OFF OF HIM!"

Simon was worried. If he let go of Jim, could the man hold onto Blair? Simon peered over Jim's shoulder and straight into Blair's eyes.

Yes, he could.

Simon let go, took his place next to the Sentinel and reached out, fingers itching to touch the chain, finally succeeding—and he struggled and he felt the cold and he froze.

"No, Simon, don't feel it. Let it go..."

Blair's voice. No fear, no panic. Trusting him, guiding him—and Simon closed his eyes and listened...

"You can do it, you can unwrap it. You're stronger, he couldn't defeat you last time, even with a teflon bullet, and he can't defeat you now..."

Blair's voice went on as his body stilled and Jim grunted, both his hands gripping tightly and Simon's fingers worked at the chain just below Jim's hands. The cold was all around them, but Blair's voice seemed to be keeping it from actually touching them.

And just when Jim thought he'd fail his partner, another set of arms wrapped around him and he heard Connor's voice...

"I've got you, just keep holding him..."

At that moment, Simon, in a surge of cold anger—in the rising memory of a bullet striking him in the back and of later hearing that Megan Connor had been hit by that same bullet—simply pulled the chain apart.

"Let it drop, Simon. Just let go..."

Blair's words again and with eyes still closed, Simon did as he was told. The medallion dropped and the cable fell...

And with it, a scream tore through the cold October air...




"Uh, Jim? Could you, like, pull me up now? Please?"

At the words, Simon opened his eyes in time to see Jim pulling and he quickly reached over, took a hold, and together, with Connor still giving Jim the help he needed, they got Blair safely up and on their side.

Blair slumped against the cement and breathed deeply. Jim fell in beside him, as did Simon and Megan. Slowly, all four allowed their bodies to slide down until they were sitting on the cold, hard concrete.

Finally, Simon couldn't keep quiet. He had to ask. "So. What, exactly, did we just do?"

Blair hauled himself up, just enough to peer over the edge, then slid back down and said, "Apparently, we've consigned Zoeller to a new cement grave. They were pouring the new sidewalk when you let go of that chain, Simon."

Simon glanced over the younger man's head at Jim and arched an eyebrow. "Jim?"

But Jim was still trying to catch his breath and was in the process of wiping the sweat from his face. He just shrugged and said, "Let's ask him—downstairs, okay?"

"There's nothing to it really, Jim. It's so easy," Blair offered as he immediately went into his lecture mode.

Simon, Jim and Megan were too tired to move yet—they were a captive audience.

"I suspect that when the city work crew tore up the sidewalk, they unearthed that medallion, which belonged to Klaus Zoeller. See, he lost it when he shot the cable and ended up killing himself. While he landed on Officer Boatwright's patrol car, his necklace ended up embedded in the sidewalk."

Blair took a deep breath, but the pause wasn't enough to save the other three.

"Then, deductive reasoning says that Jeff Killian found it when he tore up the sidewalk, and he gave it to Midge, who obviously had it in her office. Which is on the sixth floor, as you all know. The floor that Zoeller invaded to get to Bartley. Now as I see it, once that chain was up on our floor, Zoeller's spirit, if you will, was freed. Now I'm just guessing here, but it's an educated guess and the facts fit.

"I think Jim's voice and my voice? Well, it really triggered the guy, you know? And he got stronger. Then, today, he let it all out. He kind of recreated the day he shot up the department. And when Midge went into labor and I took her coat, which had the medallion in it, well, Zoeller really had some power then. And you know the rest. When you dropped the chain, Simon—well, Zoeller went with it."

Damn, Simon thought, that was really interesting. I should listen to the guy more often. Or maybe—go for a root canal...

Jim turned to look at his partner and asked, "So you're saying—it's over?"

"Oh, yeah. Way over."

"No more cold spots, Sandy?"

"Nope. Well, other than the normal ones, like when Simon yells at us, or when the heater goes out in the dead of winter."

"No more paper flying all over the place?" Jim asked.

"Only when Rafe loses something and throws his files all over everywhere."

  "No more people going over the roof?" Megan asked, a grin on her face.

  "Only when Sandburg tells us one of his stories," Simon offered.

  "I am so unappreciated."

  Jim threw his arm over Blair's shoulders and said quietly, "Not by me, Sandburg, not by me."

  "What happens if that thing is unearthed again, Sandburg?"

  Blair glanced over at Simon and frowning, said, "Gee, Simon, how the hell should I know? But I can promise you this; the next time they tear up the sidewalk? I'm going to Fiji."

  Laughing, Megan stood and held out a hand to her boss, who took it and hiked himself up. Jim and Blair soon followed, and as all four brushed themselves off, Megan said, "Did I happen to tell you guys, Happy Halloween?"

  With narrowed eyes, Simon said, "No, you didn't. And don't. And did I happen to mention that all three of you, along with Rafe, Brown and Taggert, are working the Halloween fair tonight? At St. Marks?"

  A chorus of Aw, Simon met his pronouncement and smiling, he headed toward the door. Blair, never one to let well enough alone, yelled out, "Happy Halloween, Simon!"

  Before disappearing on the other side of the door, Simon's voice bellowed out, "And did I mention that you, Sandburg, are working the dunking booth? You're the dunkee, and no matter what it costs me -- I'm gonna be the dunker."

Turning to his partner, Blair asked innocently, "Gee, Jim, what did I say?"

  Grabbing Blair's arm, Jim said, "Come on, Chief. We've got to get you a wet suit before tonight and then find out whether Midge had a boy or a girl."

  "She had a girl, Jim. About ten minutes ago."

  Jim Ellison and Megan Connor stopped in their tracks and turned to face Blair Sandburg.

  "Uh, Chief?"

  "Uh, Sandy?"

  Shrugging happily, Blair pushed his way between them and headed to the door -- whistling.

  The theme from the Twilight Zone.