Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- OWW crossovers

Dose of Confusion, Murder on the Side
Part Three
A Sentinel/One West Waikiki crossover
by Becky
January 1998

Blair leaned against the wall of the living room, watching Mack and Jim sift through Dr. Kirk's belongings. At the beach, Mack had invited Jim and Blair to accompany him to look at Kirk's house. So after a quick trip back to the hotel for a change of clothes, they'd met up with Mack at the house. When they'd first arrived, the door had been ajar. Upon entering, it was obvious that someone had already been there. The place was a wreck, tables overturned, drawers pulled out and their contents dumped on the floor, couch cushions slashed and tossed aside. Whoever had been there had been looking for something.

His attention was drawn back to the two men when Mack gestured toward the other end of the house. "I'm gonna go check in back."

Jim nodded and continued looking through the front room. After Mack left, he looked toward Blair. "Chief, you doing okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine."

Jim stood still in the room, a frown forming on his face. Blair pushed away from the wall and walked over to him. "What is it? You getting something?"

"I don't know. Maybe. There's something here, some kind of smell that seems familiar to me. I can't quite put my finger on it though. It's subtle, elusive. I can't --" He shook his head. "Probably just imagining things."

Blair laid a hand on Jim's shoulder. "Focus on it, push the other scents away, bring it to the foreground."

Closing his eyes, Jim let himself concentrate, grounded by the feel of his Guide's hand on his shoulder and the sound of his voice in his ears. He shoved aside the familiar scents that he already knew, then identified and discarded others. Slowly the one scent that wanted to trigger something in his memory rose to the top. He shook his head again. "I recognize it, but I still don't know why."

Blair paused a moment, then went on. "Tag it. Remember it for now. We'll work on it later. Okay?"

Jim took a breath and opened his eyes. "Yeah, okay. I got it."

Blair removed his hand. "Good." He looked the nearly-destroyed room. "I wonder if there's even anything of use left in here It's such a disaster."

Jim nodded absently. "Yeah, I know. I . . ." He frowned, catching the sound of paper fluttering as the air conditioning suddenly came on. "What's that?"

"What's what?"

"Sounds like paper or something like that being ruffled by wind."

Blair looked around, then up, pointing at the air vent above the kitchen door. "Up there, maybe?"

Jim pulled over a chair and used it to reach the vent. Mack reentered the room as Jim was yanking off the grill. He strode over to Blair's side. "What's up?" Jim handed the grill down to Blair, then reached into the vent. When his arm came back out, he was holding a manila folder. He stepped off the chair and handed the folder to Mack.

"I think we just found the prize, gentlemen."

***********************************

Outside the morgue's examining room, Blair waited in a chair, sipping from a water bottle. Holli was finishing up her autopsy of Dr. Kirk and Jim and Mack had gone in to hear what she had to say. Blair had no desire to be in there. Jim had simply nodded in understanding acceptance and told him to stay put. That had been a half hour ago. He was beginning to wonder if he should find something to do or someone to talk to. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw Dr. Kirk's dead face. With nothing else to concentrate on, it was hard to keep it away.

The doors opened in front of him and he looked up as Holli, Jim, and Mack walked out. Jim's eyes went immediately to Blair and raised a questioning eyebrow. Blair smiled in reassurance and stood up, walking toward them.

Holli was saying, "So tell me about this file you found."

Mack replied, "It was in an air vent at Dr. Kirk's house. Someone got there before we did and trashed the place. But they missed the folder. You won't believe whose picture was inside."

"Whose?"

"Anthony Buchanan."

Holli stopped, her eyes going wide. "Buchanan? The guy you've been investigating for the past month?"

"Yeah, him. Smart, crafty guy. Lots of money, powerful, well-known in the executive arena. He knows I'm investigating him. I've talked to him about it more than once, but it doesn't seem to bother him in the slightest. Just shrugs and smiles and wishes me luck." He paused, then shook his head. "Looks like Dr. Kirk was doing a little investigating on his own. And doing a good job of it as well. He had more information than I did. But I would guess that he dug a little too hard for Buchanan's liking."

Blair asked, "Who's Buchanan?"

Jim spoke up. "A suspected drug lord that Mack thinks is tied to several homicides in the past year or so. Not a nice guy from what Mack's told me."

The doors opened behind Holli and another woman stepped out, this one a young Hawaiian. Blair's eyes lit up and he straightened slightly. Jim bit his lip to keep from laughing. He'd known as soon as he'd met Nui Shaw, Dr. Holliday's assistant, that Blair would immediately take a liking to her. Nui handed Holli a file, meeting Blair's bright eyes briefly. Blair smiled at her, but didn't say anything. Holli caught the exchange of glances and smiled herself.

"Blair, this is Nui Shaw, my assistant. Nui, this is Blair Sandburg, Detective Ellison's partner."

The two shook hands, lingering for a second longer than necessary, then backed apart again. Blair said, "Nice to meet you, Nui."

She inclined her head. "Likewise. Excuse me if this sounds wrong, but you don't look like a cop."

He grinned. "Well, actually, I'm not. I'm more like an observer."

Nui smiled, nodding. "Well, I'd love to stick around, but I've got some other things that I have to do. Maybe I'll see you tonight at the luau."

"Luau? Where?"

Holli answered that. "Some of the members of the HPD are holding one on the beach this evening. South end of the main beach. You are, of course, invited, if you'd like to come."

Blair nodded. "Oh, yeah, I'd like to come. Jim?"

Jim smiled, "We'll see. Depends what the conference planners have scheduled."

"Yeah, okay."

Nui took her leave and walked the other direction. Mack and Holli continued on the way to her Holli's office. Jim paused a moment, gently grabbing at Blair's hair, tugging. "You coming, Romeo?"

"What? Oh, yeah, I'm coming." Dragging his eyes away from Nui's retreating form, Blair fell into step next to Jim as they followed Mack and Holli. "So you think Buchanan killed Dr. Kirk?"

Jim shrugged. "Mack thinks so. And if what he tells me about this Buchanan is true, then it's entirely possible. Not my job to find out, though. It's Mack's."

Blair shook his head, smiling. "I can't believe you're gonna let a little thing like jurisdiction stop you from finding out on your own."

"Did I say it was?"

***********************************

Later, in early afternoon, Jim sat on the balcony of his and Blair's hotel room. He looked down again at the large glossy picture of Buchanan in his lap. Drumming his fingers on the picture, he frowned. Something was still nudging him for attention, but he couldn't figure out what.

Blair's voice interrupted his thoughts. "Hey, Jim, what are you doing out here?" He came up next to Jim and dropped into the other chair, still scrubbing at his damp hair with a towel. They'd only just got back to the hotel again about a half hour ago. Blair had immediately headed for the shower, wanting to wash the salt water out of his hair.

Jim shifted slightly in the chair. "Just thinking."

"About?"

"About Mack's case. There's something about it, something I can't pin down that bugs me."

Blair dropped the towel in his lap and leaned forward. "Try to describe it."

Jim gestured to the picture. "This, for one. I've never seen this man before, yet I'm getting a sense of familiarity from the picture, like I've met him. And that smell from Dr. Kirk's house."

Blair picked up the picture. "Maybe you've met someone that looks sorta like him, or has similar features. And the smell, well, I don't know. You've probably smelled something like it before sometime. Maybe now's a good time to figure out when and where."

Jim nodded. "I guess now's a good a time as any. What do you want me to do?"

Blair set aside the picture and focused on Jim. "Relax. Breathe. Let the tensions go." When Jim closed his eyes and did so, nodding after several long moments, Blair continued. "Okay, now bring back the memory of the smell, block everything else out except that smell and the sound of my voice. Concentrate on that smell. Let it tell you what it reminds you of." Jim nodded again in silent response. Blair waited and watched, occasionally saying something to make sure Jim hadn't gone too deep.

There was a knock on the door. Blair looked from Jim to the inside of the room, hesitating, not wanting to leave Jim alone while he was so deeply under. The knock came again, louder this time. Simon's voice came with it. "Jim? Sandburg? You two okay in there?"

Blair touched Jim's arm. "I'm gonna go let Simon in. Be back in a moment." Jim nodded again, still thinking. Hurrying inside and across the room, Blair pulled open the door. Simon stepped inside, looking around the room.

"Where's Jim?"

"On the balcony. He's trying to remember something, Simon." He turned and headed back out, worried that Jim might have zoned while he was away. But he was still breathing and nodded again in response to Blair's query.

Watching Blair settle into the other chair, Simon leaned against the door jamb, asking in a soft voice, "What's he trying to remember?"

"There was some kind of smell at Dr. Kirk's house that he thought was familiar. He didn't know what it was, but he knew he'd come across it before."

Simon nodded and gestured toward the picture on the floor. "What's that?"

Blair picked it up and handed it to Simon. "It's a picture of the suspect in Mack's case. Anthony Buchanan. Some kind of drug lord. Mack thinks he's related to several homicides, including Dr. Kirk's."

Simon eyed Blair. "You doing okay, Sandburg? Having a body nearly end up on top of you isn't exactly a normal thing for you."

Blair grinned shakily, "No, it's not. But I'm okay. Really. Jim's making sure of that."

"Good."

With a sudden gasp, Jim's eyes flew open, startling Blair and Simon. Blair's hand was immediately on Jim's arm. "Jim! You okay?"

Jim nodded. "Yeah, yeah, I'm fine. I remembered. It was from a case when I was still in Vice. A long time ago. That was why I couldn't remember right off. It's the smell of a special imported cigarette tobacco, rare, hard-to-find, very expensive." He paused, eyes widening. "Where's that picture of Buchanan?"

Simon handed it to him. "Here."

Jim stared at the picture for a long time, then swore. "It's him. He's supposed to be dead. Damn."

Simon straightened. "What? Who is it? Do you know him?"

Jim nodded, jaw tightening. "Yeah, I do. Not by his current face, though. But there are certain similarities. It has to be him. Philip Dunbar. One of my last cases in Vice before I was moved to Major Crimes. It was a sting operation that should have caught him, but didn't. During our last meet in this abandoned building, there was an explosion. A bomb that he himself set. I think he figured out I was a cop and decided to get rid of me and anyone else with me. Two cops died in that explosion and others were injured. Everyone thought he died in the blast as well, but no body was ever found. When he never showed up again, the case was closed and filed away."

Simon asked in a deceptively soft voice, "Are you sure that's him? Are you positive?"

"Oh, yeah. It's him all right. Must have had some reconstructive surgery done. But it couldn't fix everything. Add in that imported tobacco and it's got to be him."

Simon nodded. "All right. I'll call Dave and let him know what's going on." He turned and went back inside. A few moments later, they could hear him talking to Dave at the HPD station.

Blair took the picture from Jim's lap, staring at it, then looking up at Jim who was still staring out at the distant ocean. "So this guy, he, uh, he knows you personally."

"Uh-huh. I'm the one who had the contact with him. It was my case from the beginning. I thought we had it all nailed down to the last detail. I was so sure that we would get him. He'd always evaded the cops and never left any evidence. We couldn't tie him to anything. But when I worked on it, I was so damn sure, so cocky, so arrogant. I thought I had him. I was wrong and two fellow cops paid the price."

Blair dropped the picture and leaned toward Jim, laying a hand on his arm again, squeezing it. "Jim, it's the past. You can't change that now. Just think about the present and how we can get him here and now."

Jim nodded and looked over at Blair, a sideways smile on his face. "How do you know all the right things to say?"

Blair grinned back. "Part of my job description as a guide."

Jim reached over and playfully smacked at Blair's cheek. "Yeah, right. More like that psych minor."

Blair laughed. "Whatever works." He paused a moment, then looked at the picture at his feet. "I wonder if he knows you're here." He leaned down to pick up the picture from the ground, barely feeling the whiz of air over the back of his head.

The bullet smacked into the far edge of the glass doors, shattering them. Shards of glass fell from the frame, crashing onto the balcony floor loudly.

Jim grabbed Blair and hustled them both through the open doorway and into the hotel room. Simon was crouched between the beds, the phone receiver still in one hand. Jim didn't stop them moving until they were at the opposite side of the room. He could hear Dave yelling over the extension in Simon's hand.

Simon demanded, "Are you two okay?"

After receiving a breathless nod from Blair, Jim replied for both of them. "Yeah. We're fine." Simon turned his attention back to Dave and told him in terse words what had just happened.

Blair sank onto the bed, hands lying loosely in his lap. He lifted one and ran it through his hair. "Oh, man. That was way too close."

Jim remained standing in front of him, on alert. He looked down at Blair. "Well, I think that answers that question. He definitely knows we're here, Chief."

"Yeah."

***********************************

Jim stepped aside as the forensics person went back inside the hotel room with the bullet after digging it out of the frame of the doors. He kept scanning the other hotels around them, looking for Dunbar, determined to find him. Blair had kept him from chastising himself too much that he never heard the gun being fired, but he still felt unnerved by it all. Only by chance had Blair leaned over to pick up the picture. If he hadn't....

Shaking his head, he focused back on his self-appointed task. A hand touched his back. It was Blair. He would know his partner's touch anywhere and at anytime. Blair's voice was quiet. "You see anything?"

"No. If he was out there, he's gone now." He turned and gave Blair a gentle push back inside. "But I still want you away from the windows, Chief."

"No argument here. I wasn't planning to go any further. You make a nice shield, you know."

Jim chuckled in spite of himself. "Now the truth comes out."

Blair just grinned cheekily, waggling his eyebrows.

Mack walked into the room, looking around, then strode over to them. "We've got people at the nearest hotels asking questions, but if Buchanan is who you say he is, then I have my doubts he'll be found."

Jim nodded. "I know. I wasn't expecting him to be just waiting around to be caught. I have an idea, if you're willing to listen."

Mack leaned against a dresser. "I'm listening." As Jim began to explain, Mack began to grin.

***********************************

Simon and Dave looked at each other, then at Blair. Simon clamped down on the unlit cigar in his mouth, then snorted and crossed his arms as he leaned against the hallway wall. "You have got to be joking, Sandburg. What makes you think this will work?"

"It wasn't my idea, Simon. It was Jim's. But I do think it will work."

Dave frowned. "But it's more than just the physical resemblance. It's the whole package. How are they gonna pull that off?"

"Jim's a good role player. Simon, you've seen him loosen up on his vacation days. He'll be fine. And Mack, well, I don't know him well enough to say, but I think he can do it as well."

Simon shook his head and gestured toward the closed hotel door. "Do you think they're ready in there?"

Blair knocked on the door behind him. "Jim? You two ready?"

The door was pulled open and Blair stepped back a moment before entering the room and holding the door open. Simon and Dave exchanged a look, then followed Blair inside. Both captains stopped and looked at the sight before them. 'Mack' was half-sitting on the room's small table, dressed in a Hawaiian shirt, suspenders, tan pants, and white tennis shoes, a piece of licorice in his mouth and a half-grin dancing around the edges of his lips. 'Jim' was standing a few feet away, dressed in dark slacks, untucked blue button-down shirt and those brown shoes of his, his arms were crossed and a small smile played on his face.

Blair bounced on his toes. "Well? What do you think?"

Simon looked from one to the other and back again before saying, "And you two think this will work?"

'Mack' answered. "It'd better. I don't think we'll get another chance."

Blair spoke up. "Did one of you call Holli yet?"

'Jim' nodded. "She's on her way. She should be here any moment. If we can fool her, we can fool Dunbar. She knows Mack the best."

A few seconds later, there was a quiet knock on the door. Blair went to answer it. He let Holli in, gesturing for her to go on ahead of him. "Mack wanted to talk to you."

Holli paused when she saw the two captains there as well. "Having a conference or something?"

Dave answered. "We're trying to figure out how to catch Buchanan or Dunbar or whatever his name is."

She frowned. "Dunbar? Who's that? I thought his name was Buchanan."

Jim and Mack, alternatively, began to fill her in on what had happened in the past hour or so and then the background information for Dunbar. Then 'Mack' settled himself more firmly on the table as he asked, gesturing with his half-eaten licorice stick. "So, Doc, anything new about Dr. Kirk?"

Holli shook her head. "No, as you said the house was fairly trashed. We spent some time over there, but didn't find much. I do think he was killed there, however. I found some faint bloodstains in the carpet and on the outside deck. Last night's rain washed most of the blood away, but there was enough left to identify. I think forensics is still over there, giving the place a thorough sweep." She looked from Mack to Jim. "So what's your plan? I can tell you have one."

'Mack' grinned. "That we do. I've set up a meeting with our friend Buchanan. I want to have a little chat with him and throw out a name or two, see what he does in reaction."

Holli nodded, then looked back at Jim. Something was up between the two detectives. That much she could tell. But she wasn't sure what. She turned back to Mack and her eyes were drawn to one foot which was swinging in the air. A bit of white sock showed from beneath the pant leg. White socks?

She frowned. "Okay, guys, what's going on here? Something's not quite right."

Then 'Jim' broke out in what she labeled a long time ago as Mack's 'trust me, I'm innocent' smile. She turned her attention to him. "Mack, what are you doing in Jim's clothes? And why is Jim dressed like you?"

Mack laughed and sighed. "So much for the fun. Sorry, Doc, had to see if you could be fooled. I think it worked long enough that it'll work on Buchanan."

Jim nodded. "I agree with you. My apologies as well, Dr. Holliday."

Holli looked at Dave. "You agreed to this plan of theirs?"

Dave made a face. "They didn't ask."

"Somehow that doesn't surprise me."

***********************************

Glancing around the upper beach parking lot again, Jim frowned. Buchanan hadn't shown up yet. True, it was still a few minutes early, but something already felt wrong. He knew part of it was due to the fact that Blair wasn't with him. He had sent his partner off with Mack to show Buchanan that it wasn't 'Jim' who was meeting him. Mack had promised to keep an eye on Blair for him. Hopefully they would keep out of trouble. Blair hadn't liked being told he couldn't stick with Jim as back-up, but they had to be sure that Buchanan believed it was Mack meeting him and not Jim. So Mack and Blair were at one of the beachside malls, probably flirting with every woman they came across.

Jim sat down on a bench, trying to look relaxed. He pulled one of the licorice sticks from the pocket of his shirt and stuck it in his mouth after turning down his sense of taste a little. Too sweet for his liking, but they were part of Mack. If Buchanan was watching him, then he had to be Mack to fool him.

He glanced at his watch, then focused in on the car parked in the distance where Simon and Dave were watching and waiting. He heard Simon mutter to Dave, "No sign of anyone showing up yet. Where's Buchanan?"

Dave replied, "I don't know. Mack said he always shows up for these meetings. Mack thinks Buchanan is amused by the whole investigation. He knows we don't have any hard evidence." Dave's phone rang and he answered it. "Captain Herzog ..... Yes, Dr. Holliday, what is it?"

Jim pulled back a little, biting down on a growl of frustration. A large piece of newspaper blew against his foot and he leaned over to pick it up. As he did so, a flash of memory struck him. Blair leaning over, reaching to pick up the picture. He snapped back up, eyes gone wide. The bullet had struck over Blair's head. On Blair's side of the balcony. It had been nowhere near Jim. It had been Blair the shooter was aiming for. Not Jim.

Simon's strident voice got his attention. "What!?! What do you mean she thinks he was after Blair?"

As Dave replied, Jim stood and jogged rapidly to Mack's dark green convertible. "Someone from across the hotel just told one of the forensics people that he saw someone with a camera and a very large zoom lens watching the hotel yesterday evening. About the time that the meeting ended. And someone from the lobby also said that they saw Dr. Kirk and Blair talking briefly. Dr. Holliday thinks that Buchanan might believe that Dr. Kirk told something to Blair, that he knows something damaging."

Simon swore as Dave started calling in his people to find Mack and Blair. Jim didn't wait to hear anything further. He started up Mack's car and tore out of the parking lot.

***********************************

Anthony Buchanan, formerly known as Philip Dunbar, waited with studied casualness on a bench behind a newspaper. Underneath the light sweater in his lap rested a gun. Both his side of the street and on the other side were peppered with small shops and eateries. He knew that the young man, one Blair Sandburg, was in the area. He only had to wait until he was in sight. Once he got rid of Sandburg, then he could disappear again. Hawaii was getting old anyway. Time for a new home. A new place. New customers. With a smile, he inhaled on his cigarette and turned the page of the newspaper and kept reading, one eye on the lookout for his prey.

***********************************

Jim brought the convertible to a screeching halt into the parking lot of the mall, ignoring the fact that he was parked in the red zone. He leaped from the car, then stopped, looking around. Where should he look? Where would Blair be? There were a lot of people, a lot of sounds, a lot of smells. He growled and smacked his hand against the hood of Mack's car. Another car pulled in next to his. Without looking, he knew it was Dave and Simon. Simon was at his side as soon as he exited the car. Dave remained inside, calling to his men, wondering where they were.

"You know, don't you?"

"That Blair was the target and still is? Yeah, I do. I realized that the bullet was meant for him, not me. Hearing the whole discussion about Blair and Dr. Kirk only confirmed it. Damnit, where is he? I can't find him in this mess. Too many people. Too much noise. Too much of everything."

Simon looked back at Dave, then at Jim. He lowered his voice. "Blair once told me how you found Zeller in the airport, that you tracked him by the smell of the nicotine gum. Can you do the same thing here with the smell of that tobacco?"

Jim frowned. "This is out in the open. The smell wouldn't be as concentrated. I don't know that I could find it."

"Do you see any other way to do this quickly?"

Jim blew out a breath. "No, I don't. Come on, we'll have to start walking. You're gonna have to come with me so I don't zone." Simon nodded and told Dave that he and Jim were headed out to see what they could find, maybe find Mack and Blair. Dave waved them on.

***********************************

Buchanan folded down his newspaper when he caught sight of the young man walking along side the taller Ellison. Both were grinning, laughing together. Buchanan frowned, something was different about Ellison. As they drew closer, Buchanan's eyes narrowed. Ellison had a piece of licorice in his mouth and he kept gesturing with it. He realized quickly that it wasn't Ellison, but rather Lt. Wolfe. When he'd first met Wolfe, he found it highly amusing that he'd met a near double of Ellison so far from Washington. Obviously they'd met and had tried to trick him by switching places with each other. It would have been Ellison he'd met up with instead of Wolfe it he'd gone to the meeting instead of this.

"Not polite at all, detectives."

He dropped the cigarette to the ground and stepped on it, extinguishing it. Reaching under the sweater and closing his hand around the gun, he stood and sauntered away, toward the edges of the mall shops where trees lined the division between one section of the strip mall and the next. He leaned against one of the trees and looked around casually. No one noticed him. He lifted the gun and aimed with it carefully.

"Just a bit closer, my friends, and then you can say good night and I can bid my farewells to this little paradise."

***********************************

Stopping abruptly in the throng of people, Jim lifted a hand. "Wait, I can smell it now. It's faint, but it's there."

Simon asked, "Where? What direction?"

After another second, Jim pointed ahead of them. "Down that way." Doing some mental adjusting, he piggybacked his sight, focusing in, and found the bench and the smashed cigarette butt. "He's not there now though." Familiar laughter caught his attention and he switched his eyes over to the opposite side of the street.

He sighed out heavily in relief. "Blair and Mack are up there. Let's hurry." They both started jogging, weaving in and out of people. Jim left his hearing extended and focused in on Blair, wanting to know he was okay, needing to know he was okay.

A different sound caught his attention -- the slow cocking of a gun. He burst out from a crowd of people and stopped, following that sound to a gun, then pulling back. It was Buchanan. And he was aiming toward Blair.

Cupping his mouth with his hands, Jim yelled, "Sandburg! Get down!"

***********************************

At Jim's yell, Blair stopped laughing and turned. "Jim? What --?" He didn't get any more out as Mack yanked him off-balance and pulled him to the ground in a rush. He hit the cement with a thud, landing hard on one shoulder. A moment later he heard the glass pane he'd been standing in front of break and splinter into a thousand pieces. Screams pierced the air.

He heard Mack mutter several swear words from behind him where he was protecting him. Then Simon was next to him, helping first Mack to his feet, then Blair.

"Are you all right, Sandburg?"

Rubbing absently at his shoulder, Blair nodded, glancing at the now-shattered glass pane. "Yeah, I'm fine. Where's Jim?"

"He went after Buchanan."

Mack stopped wiping the glass fragments from his pants. "What? Buchanan was here? Why?"

With a quick look at Blair, Simon replied, "We think he saw Blair talking to Dr. Kirk and decided that Blair knew something. And Jim realized that in the shooting earlier, Blair was the target, not himself."

***********************************

Borrowed gun in hand, Jim ran down the alleyway between the shops, chasing Buchanan. He couldn't see him at the moment, but he could still smell that special tobacco and was tracking him by that. Coming back out into the open, he paused a moment, scanning around him. He found Buchanan's figure running down the beach. He started running after him, struggling a bit in the sand until he found the correct rhythm and pace to not trip himself up too much.

Ignoring the sand that was being dumped into the sides of the tennis shoes, Jim pushed himself harder. He was getting closer to Buchanan who didn't have the right kind of shoes to run in -- he was wearing suede loafers, not your typical beach shoes.

With one last burst of speed, Jim threw himself forward and tackled Buchanan, bringing him down into the sand. Bystanders stepped back, unsure what was going on. Buchanan was not a small man, nor someone easily overpowered. He fought, forcing Jim to lose his gun moments after Jim pried his gun away from him. They exchanged blows, rolling around in the sand. Buchanan pulled away, throwing sand up in Jim's face and eyes. Jim had seen it coming and was able to avoid most of it, but at the risk of releasing his grip on Buchanan.

Buchanan stumbled away and grabbed a torch on a stand near a place renting surfboards and boogie boards. He waved it around in front of him as he backed up, startling the people watching. The gun was too far away from him to reach at that point. Jim stood, advancing slowly toward Buchanan.

"You're not getting away this time, Buchanan, or whatever your name is now. I'm not letting you get away."

Buchanan grinned. "You think so, Ellison."

"Yeah, I think so. You made a mistake. Tried to tie up the wrong loose end."

"What? You mean that little partner of yours?"

"Yeah, him. My partner. Nobody messes with my partner. Nobody."

Jim went forward again and Buchanan swung the torch out at him. Jim moved away again, but just far enough to be out of range. He grinned at Buchanan. "You're not going anywhere, Buchanan." At that moment, they both heard the sirens of arriving police cars. Jim grinned wider. "See? Give it up."

"Never. I'll --"

A surfboard suddenly appeared behind Buchanan and swung down onto his head, thunking down solidly. Buchanan's eyes rolled up in his head and he fell face first into the sand, the torch dousing itself as it fell flame down. Jim blinked and looked up from Buchanan's prone figure to the man holding the surfboard. It was a short, skinny Hawaiian, with a scraggly beard and mustache, a cigarette hanging out of one side of his mouth, dressed only a long pair of swim trunks and a ratty tank top. Jim blinked again, finally remembering to pull his mouth shut.

Jim stepped forward, kneeling next to Buchanan's form while pulling a pair of handcuffs from his back pocket. "Thank you, um ..."

The man answered as he went around Buchanan to snatch up the now-unlit torch. "Bob. My name's Bob. He took my torch. I wanted it back." And he turned and walked away. Jim watched him leave, then started to laugh.

***********************************

That evening

Jim adjusted the suspender strap again for about the fortieth time. Mack rolled his eyes. "If you keep messing with that thing, they'll be able to tell in an instant who's who. Just relax, let loose. This was partially your idea you know." Jim glared at Mack, then laughed.

"Yeah, yeah, I am ... relaxed." He paused, then shook his head. "I can't believe I just said that." Mack raised an eyebrow, but Jim just waved it off. "Never mind. Long story."

Mack let it go, then asked, "Are you ready then?"

"As I'll ever be."

Together they entered the luau area, emerging from the evening shadows into the torch-lit brightness. Blair, Holli, Simon, and Dave were all there, probably all seated and wondering what happened to the two detectives. As Jim's eyes adjusted, the first thing he saw was Holli approaching them with a lei in her hand. Blair was following her, a lei already around his neck, matching the one in Holli's hands. She stopped in front of them and looked from one to the other. Blair stepped in beside her, an amused grin on his features.

She said, "I think they're trying to fool us, Blair."

"I think you're right. But I bet I can tell them apart." Jim and Mack exchanged identical smiles and with coordinated and practiced movements, they each pulled a stick of red licorice out of their shirt pockets and popped them in their mouths. Blair laughed. "I think that was the challenge to do so." He backed up and looked them up and down several times, circling around them. Both men shifted slightly, changing their stance as Blair circled back to the front.

Blair's eyes lit up as they moved and he grinned. "Almost, but not quite, gentleman." He pointed to the man on the right. "That's Jim, Holli. Trust me."

Holli looked at Blair, then back at the men. "Okay, Blair, if you say so."

"I do say so. That's Jim. I'd bet my thesis notes on it."

Jim's eyes widened before he could stop them as Holli reached up and dropped the lei over his head. Mack sighed, rolling his eyes dramatically. "All that work and for nothing."

Blair only laughed and Jim glanced curiously at Blair. "How'd you know, Chief?"

He took Holli's arm before they turned to go back to the luau. He grinned up at Jim. "Oh, no, you don't, that's my little secret, Jim." He turned and strolled away, Jim's voice hanging in the air.

"Sandburg...."

A bit later, Jim lounged against some cushions at the edge of the luau. He sipped at his pina colada again, smiling and chuckling as he watched Blair doing the hula with a cluster of Hawaiian girls, among them Nui, Dr. Holliday's assistant. Blair had gladly pulled on the requisite grass skirt over his shorts and was now obviously thoroughly enjoying himself.

Simon chuckled from his seat next to Jim. "Kid's really having a blast, isn't he?"

Jim nodded. "Oh, yeah. Time of his life. I think it has something to do with the fact that he's the only guy up there with a bunch of women."

Simon laughed. "Probably."

The two men were quiet for another few moments, then Jim shook his head. "I still can't figure out how the kid told us apart."

"You really don't know?"

Jim threw a glance at Simon. "No, I don't. Do you?"

"Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do. Want me to tell you?"

Jim nodded and Simon pointed down to Jim's feet. He followed Simon's finger with his eyes, but didn't see anything out of the ordinary. Tan pants that tapered down to white tennis shoes, a little bit of white sock showing in places. He shook his head. "I don't get it."

Simon rolled his eyes and gestured toward Mack who was now up and doing the hula as well. "Jim, take a long look at Mack. What color socks is he wearing?"

Jim watched Mack for a few moments, then replied, "He's not wearing socks, Simon."

"Exactly." Jim only frowned, confusion evident in his features. Simon laughed and waved a hand at hand at him. "Never mind, Jim, it's not that important. Just relax and enjoy yourself. Tomorrow we have to get back to Cascade and back to work." He got up and strolled off to the food bar, leaving Jim sipping at his drink, a somewhat curious and befuddled look on his face.

- The End -


Author's note: There is a real Bob on Waikiki Beach that rents out surfboard and boogie boards. My dad and sister rented boogie boards from him when we were there on vacation. And he looked pretty much how I describe him. But I'm fairly sure he doesn't have any torches in his area or go around bopping people over the head with surfboards. Just some literary license. No offense meant. :-)