The Iceman Cometh
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
A Note from FiveSenses: Warmest
thanks to Greenwoman for the much appreciated contribution in beta reading this
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:
THE ICEMAN COMETH
"Man, what the hell are they
"It's called construction,
"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
As they started walking toward
the elevator, Jim frowned. "I was just robbed, wasn't I?"
"Of what, Jim?" Blair
"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
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."
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
"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
"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?"
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
"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
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
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
"So climb up and check for
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
Damn, this cold was chilling him
to the bone, while at the same time, he was breaking out in a cold sweat. And he
"Aw, come on, Hairboy, do us
this favor. You know that chair ain't gonna hold studly Rafe, let alone hunky
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
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
And God damn it—it was even
Lifting his eyes from the chair,
Rafe stared at his partner, who was still holding Sandburg.
"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
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
"Hey, H? You can let go
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
"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
"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
"Damn, the cold is over here
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
"So am I, man. Rafe, you
"You don't have to ask me
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
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,
"No, sir, absolutely not my
fault. I was an innocent bystander," Blair declared, holding his hands up
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
"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
"Uh-oh. What happens
"Megan and Joel hit the
streets and start over."
"I don't suppose it was
"How'd you guess?"
"Just lucky. Bane of our
"You're telling me. And
you're also gonna tell me what the hell was going on in the squad room, aren't
"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
"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?"
"Did you buy bologna
"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?"
"How much you want a working
"I really want a working
"Then we'd better discuss it
"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.
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
"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
"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.
"Here, kitty, kitty, I've
got a bone just for you..."
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
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
"Wait, now I'm a compulsive
"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
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.
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?
"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
"And the whole moving stuff
thing? That's what the papers were all about?"
"Talk to me about the
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
"No. Definitely a
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
"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
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
Jim grinned sheepishly and
nodded. "Yeah, I do."
"You are so
"Well, if Henri hadn't
"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?"
"Okay, but take it slow.
Don't go into the squad room with senses on full alert, do it gradually, you
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
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
"You felt something,
"No, it was just
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,
"Yeah, yeah, she's gonna
"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."
"The cold you experienced
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
"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
"Jim, help me out
Ellison schooled his expression,
trying to hide the grin, then said honestly, "That it was suddenly colder
and it was strange."
"Yep, that's it."
"So no, like, fear—or
"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
"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."
The voices. They were back. The
hatred and rage coalesced, allowing him to gain strength and come together
"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
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
Jim sunk back down like a limp
"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
"Just grab your jacket,
Chief. We're gonna head down to holding and talk with Conover."
"Jim, he isn't going
Blair stopped because—Jim had
"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,
Blair took two steps back. He
didn't want to feel it again.
"Jim, Conover now, cold
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
"You felt it, didn't
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
"You know, you are really
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
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
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,
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
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
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
It was a simple question, put
quietly and gently to Conover by Blair, who simply gazed up at him, his face
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
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,
"He's protecting someone,
"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
"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
"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?"
"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
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
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
"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
"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
"Yep. So full of charm, you
can barely keep your hands off of me."
"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
"Detective Ellison, I hope
you're here to give us all good news? That you've caught the person who killed
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."
"You never mentioned
yesterday, when we first interviewed you, that you'd scheduled an interview with
"Yes, Miss Conover, you
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"I'll keep that in mind,
Sandburg. If you can't talk the thing to death. Oh, wait, it's already
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.
As paper swirled around him,
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
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
"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
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
"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.
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
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
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...
"WHAT THE FUCK?!"
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,
"Jim, bring him into my
office, let's take this out of the bullpen, the others are starting to
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
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
"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
"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,
"Uh, Jim?" Simon
"Sir, maybe you don't want
to know what happened. And in case you need more assistance, let me say one
Simon glanced from Jim, to Blair,
and back to Jim. "Tell me you didn't just not say, what I think you didn't
"He did, sir," Blair
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
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
"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
"Oh, right. Murder, greed,
So Blair did, all the way down to
"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,
"I think it's more than
that, Jim. I think Bartlett was smelling blood. He's a cop, he has contacts,
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
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,
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
"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?"
"Patty, I'll handle
The voice came from behind Blair,
but Jim was already turning to face the man.
"Yes, I'm Charles Wendt. And
"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
"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
"Our information indicates
differently, Mr. Wendt."
Cataloguing responses to simple,
baited questions like that one. Oh, yeah, working with a sentinel was pretty
"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
"Not his secretary? A
"No, I have a direct number
to the man."
"That's too bad, Mr.
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.
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
"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
"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
"Mr. Wendt, we're cops. We
have sources. Why would you think that what he'd found, we wouldn't also
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
"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
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,
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
"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.
"I should be mad..."
"You found him, didn't you,
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
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?"
Sam closed his eyes and took his
sister into his arms.
"They did obstruct justice,
"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
"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
"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
"Anybody ever call you a
"Not to my face."
"Yep. Can we go home and try
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
Slapping Jim on the back of the
head, Blair said, "Come on, let's go. How 'bout we stop for dinner at Mama
"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
In her hurry, Midge forgot the
The darkness was forever, his
travels, following the same path, forever.
Quiet—few bodies—no voices to
give him strength.
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. Jim Ellison."
Blair threw down his napkin,
rested his fork on the edge of his plate and said cheekily, "Done. You
"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
"You think loud,
"I could think
"Move—and you're dead
"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
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."
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
"Yeah, I don't think it's
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
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
"Sandburg, don't get on my
bad side today."
"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
"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... *
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,
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
"What did you feel,
Jim?" Blair asked, once they were back at their desks, Megan perched on
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,
"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."
"There was. Yeah, this
strange, but familiar scent."
"Can you pin it down,
"Well, it could have just
been you, Sandburg."
"Hey, I showered this
"You used my gel again,
asked politely. "Do you think we could concentrate on the poltergeist that
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
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,
"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,
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
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..."
"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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
"TRY AGAIN, JIM!"
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
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.
"JIM, THE CHAIN AROUND MY
WRIST! GET IT OFF OF ME, NOW!"
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
"I've got you, just keep
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
Blair's words again and with eyes
still closed, Simon did as he was told. The medallion dropped and the cable
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,
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
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
Jim turned to look at his partner
and asked, "So you're saying—it's over?"
"Oh, yeah. Way over."
"No more cold spots,
"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."
Turning to his partner, Blair
asked innocently, "Gee, Jim, what did I say?"