Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- OWW crossovers
Dash of Conspiracy, Enemies on All Sides
A Sentinel/One West Waikiki crossover
Mack jogged up the last few steps to the third floor stairwell door of the Waterfront Hilton's east wing. High on energy, he'd decided to skip the crowded elevators in the lobby and take the stairs, putting that excess energy to use. Upon entering the hallway, he headed towards his room while pulling his wallet from his back pocket. Pausing at Holli's door, he knocked a few times before looking for the card key to his room.
"Hey, Doc, you in there?"
Holli's muffled voice answered, "Mack?"
"Yeah, it's me." He found the card key and stuck it between his teeth as he jammed the wallet back into his pocket. As he took the card from his mouth, the door opened.
Holding a towel up to her wet hair, Holli stood wrapped a white fluffy hotel robe. She leaned against the door. "I was beginning to think you'd gotten lost. Or at least sidetracked."
Mack chuckled and stuffed the card key into his front shirt pocket. "Nah. Just moseying around town."
"Moseying?" She laughed and turned to head back inside the room. "Come on in. I picked up a few messages for you at the front desk."
Nodding, Mack followed her, letting the door close behind him as he entered. He spotted her jacket where she'd discarded it at the end of the bed. Raising an eyebrow, he queried, "Long day, Doc?" He'd never known Holli to not hang up her good clothes as soon as she walked in the door.
Holli got the two messages from the table and walked over to him. "Long day? Yes. Very long." She handed him the two squares of paper. "Here you go. Something from Eddie -- please don't tell me he's your bookie -- and something from Lupita." Draping the towel over one shoulder and crossing her arms, Holli looked at him. "Just who is Lupita, Mack?"
Mack waggled his eyebrows. "You jealous, Doc?" He folded both notes and added them to his front shirt pocket.
Releasing a somewhat unladylike snort, Holli rolled her eyes. "Hardly." She turned and walked back to the sink counter. Watching Mack's reflection in the mirror, she combed through her damp hair. "So what have you been up to all day? Other than making new romantic conquests, that is."
He chuckled and leaned against the dresser. "I told Ellison I might be able to help on this connection with Harry, so I've been asking around about a few guys I know from the old case. They left Hawaii a little while after Harry vanished. There'd always been the possibility that they were involved as well."
"Hmm. Did you find either of them?"
Mack shook his head. "No. But I've got a lead on one of them -- Ross Eagen, a hired gun type." He pulled Holli's conference folder over and opened it, absently leafing through the contents. "A guy I talked to at a surf shop thinks he might have bumped into Eagen at this burger joint down the street from the shop. Thought I might go back tomorrow and hang around for a bit, see if he shows up."
Holli set the comb down and pulled the towel from her shoulder to pat the last remnants of excess water from her hair. "What about the other guy? Nothing on him?"
"Potts? No. Nothing on him. Not yet at least. I've got a few other ideas I haven't tapped yet. But if I can find one of them, I can find the other." He closed the folder and shoved it away. Glancing up, he saw Holli fold the towel she'd been using and disappear into the bathroom, presumably to hang it up. He shifted his attention to look around the room and spotted Holli's suitcase neatly closed and standing in the open closet. Laughing softly, he raised his voice a little. "You put your clothes in the dresser, Doc?"
"Of course." Her voice echoed slightly. "Didn't you?"
"Not for a four-day stay, I didn't." Feeling a bit mischievous, Mack moved away from the dresser and pulled open the top drawer. Light blue silk caught his eye and he gathered a handful, drawing out a short spaghetti-strapped silk nightie. He held it up to himself as Holli came back into the main room. "I think it's a bit chilly for this up here, don't you?"
Holli, still in her white robe, marched over and snatched the nightie from him. "Give me that!" She stuffed it into the open drawer and slammed it shut again.
"Does this mean you're not in the mood?" Mack didn't fight the wide grin that pulled at his lips.
Laughing in spite of herself, Holli shoved the detective towards the door. "Out!" She yanked open the heavy door and gave him a none-too-gentle nudge through it.
Chuckling, Mack allowed himself to be pushed into the hallway. He waved a hand at a passing older couple. "Lovers' quarrel. Nothing to be worried about."
He grinned as the older couple hurried a little faster down the hall. Turning back to face Holli, he replied, "Yes, dear?"
Holli glared at him, then shook her head. "Never mind. I'm not gonna say anything. It'd probably only encourage you--"
"--You're probably right--"
"--Good night, Mack." Holli enunciated the words firmly. "See you tomorrow morning." She pointed a finger at him. "Set your alarm. Don't make me pound on the door again."
Mack nodded, still grinning. "Tomorrow. Alarm. No door pounding. Got it."
"Good night, Mack," she repeated as she moved back into the room and let the door close.
He waited until her door latched and quietly said, "Night, Doc. Sleep tight." Then he stepped over to his own room and entered. Once inside, Mack pulled the two messages from his pocket and stared at them. Pursing his lips, he edged around his suitcase at the end of the bed and sat down near the pillows. He pulled the phone over and dialed Eddie -- who was not his bookie -- first. Lupita -- not a romantic conquest exactly, but a very friendly fellow patron of one of the surf shops he'd visited -- could wait until the next morning.
"The Brew Moon." Loud sounds of the restaurant bar echoed across the transoceanic line.
Mack raised his voice just a little to be heard. "Is Eddie around?" He hoped he was since he didn't feel like trying to track down the man from across the ocean.
"Who?" The voice on the other end raised in volume.
Mack tried again. "Eddie Potts. This is Mack Wolfe. He called."
"Oh, yeah. Just a sec."
Eddie had the misfortune of being Chester's distant cousin. Mack was hoping that Eddie had some idea where Chester, ex-bouncer and current thug-for-rent, might be working or at least where his hang-outs might be. He'd traced Eagen to the Cascade area a few months ago when he'd been working on a different case. He knew that Eagen liked to hang near the beach and the surf shops. Chester, however, was proving harder to find.
"Eddie, my man. Thanks for calling me back. How've you been?"
"Pretty good, pretty good. So what can I do for you? You're calling from Washington; this can't be social."
"You got that right. Do you have any idea where Chester is these days?"
"That idiot? Man, he called me two weeks ago, bragged that he was making it big. I told him to get out before the cops got him. He just laughed." Eddie paused. "Come to think of it, he was calling from Washington too, same area code. What's going on?"
"Something big, Eddie, and nothing good. I need to find Chester and have a chat with him. What can you tell me?"
"Chester likes 'em young. Try the beaches. And the music stores. The man's got a CD habit. If it's hot, he's gotta have it."
"You're welcome, man. And, Mack, when you get him, do us all a favor. Find something to book him on, then throw away the key. That man is nothing but a no-good slimeball."
Mack chuckled. "You'll get no argument here, Eddie. See ya when I get back. Keep a seat warm for me."
"You got it."
He hung up, then pulled the phone book onto the bed and started hunting down all the music stores -- especially those near the beaches.
"...and Welles caught me just before I left -- the fingerprints matched." Jim rinsed another plate and held it out to Blair who stood next to him in front of the kitchen sink. "Not that it'll do us much good now."
"Huh? What fingerprints?" Blair took the proffered plate and wiped it dry with a dishtowel. "Did I miss something?"
Jim paused and glanced at Blair a moment. "Oh, yeah, that's right. I never told you." He took a breath and refocused on the last few dishes. "Yesterday afternoon -- was it only yesterday? Man... Anyway, I got a tip about some possible connections to the case on Cascade Beach, so Conner and I went out there to have a look around. We brought the picture of the homeless girl and used it as an excuse to ask questions -- saying we wanted to find out who she was. Harry Pratt was the last one we talked to before stopping for the day." He frowned and scrubbed at a plate a little harder before rinsing it.
"Conner and I both think he recognized the girl. Anyway, while Conner talked, I saw some fingerprints on a suntan bottle that looked like the girl's. I bought the bottle and had Welles check them against our files. And they matched." Jim handed over another plate before dipping his hands back into the soapy water. "We were planning to use the match as leverage to get Pratt to talk, but..." He shrugged.
Blair's eyes widened. "You saw -- and recognized -- fingerprints on a bottle? Wow! Pretty cool." He rubbed the towel over the plate. "What'd Conner say?"
"Conner was ... impressed." He shrugged, then laughed. "Simon, however, didn't seem to be so thrilled. He wasn't looking forward to explaining just how I saw the prints."
"I would think not," Blair chuckled. "What about Rafe and Brown? They get anything on the car?"
Jim grunted. "Stolen, like I thought. Belonged to a guy halfway across town. They pulled some prints and I'm hoping we get at least one that belongs to our crazy driver and not the owner." He held out the last plate, then pulled the plug from the drain before wiping the sink edges with a sponge.
"So we've got fingerprints of a dead homeless girl on a bottle of suntan lotion in a shop owned by Harry Pratt who you and Conner talked to and who was dead shortly after you and Conner talked to him. And we've got a stolen car that tried to run us -- or at least me -- down after we talked to the designer of the shirt worn by Mr. Metal Detector." Blair put the last plate away and closed the cupboard.
"Add in that we're not totally positive Pratt killed himself, that Golden is involved, that we now have two unwanted feds on our case, and toss in a certain detective's disturbing dreams, and we have quite a mixture." Blair draped the towel over the dishdrain and leaned against the counter. "Oh. And we can't forget Mack and Holli showing up and Mack knowing Pratt. Is it just me or is this all beginning to sound a bit more crazy than our normal cases?"
Jim chuckled as he dried his hands on the towel he'd had over his shoulder. "Weren't you the one who told me we don't do normal?" His towel went next to Blair's on the dishdrain.
Blair grinned. "Don't know. But it sure sounds like something I'd say."
The detective shoved away from the counter and wandered into the living room. Blair watched him walk over to stand in front of the balcony windows beyond which the city lights glittered. Jim always seemed to be drawn to those windows during times of uncertainty or emotional distress, or any time things weren't in the acceptable range of normality -- which for them was quite often. Something about looking out over his city helped him, calmed him -- let him prepare himself to talk.
Moving around the counter, Blair padded into the living room and sat cross-legged on one of the couches. He waited for Jim to center himself. Talking about dreams -- any dreams -- after the one he'd had about killing the wolf was very difficult for the sentinel. Especially when the dreams weren't the everyday stock variety and foretold dangerous and ominous things.
"I'm always running." Jim's voice startled him and Blair quickly gave all his attention to his sentinel. "It's usually dark or dusk. Flashes of color and lots of sounds. It's the jungle -- sometimes I can see it, sometimes not, but I know what it feels like. The air, the scents, the sounds..."
"Why are you running, Jim?" Blair kept his voice low and even.
Still staring through the windows, Jim continued his narrative. "I don't...I don't know. Not at first. But then I hear something -- a cry. Someone's hurt, in danger. I can hear the wolf and the panther both. The wolf..." He paused and swallowed. "It's the wolf that's crying. He's alone, frightened. I try to find him, but I can't. It's so dark!" His fists clenched at his sides. "Then just as I see him, it gets darker still and he vanishes, still calling for me. And then...then I wake up."
Blair blinked a few times. "That's...that's one hell of a dream, Jim."
"Tell me about it. It's been the same thing for weeks." Jim turned away from the windows and walked over to sink down on the second couch. He rested his head against the back and rubbed the heels of his hands into his eyes.
Resisting the urge to dash into his room to grab a notebook to record the dream, and knowing Jim needed a friend more than a dream analyst, Blair remained where he was, folded his twitching fingers together, and asked, "And this morning, it was the same thing?" He leaned forward just a bit.
Jim stilled instantly. Slowly, he lowered his hands so that he could stare at the ceiling. "No. This morning...was different."
The sentinel shifted uneasily in his seat. His lips thinned into a compressed line and his jaw muscles tightened. "I--" He shook his head and bounded up to his feet to head towards the stairs. "This isn't going to help."
Scrambling to uncurl himself, Blair hurried after Jim and grabbed his arm before he got further than the first step. "Jim, come on. Running from your dreams isn't going to help. You know that. We've been down this road before."
Jim snapped. "Yes, I know that. Don't you think I remember?" He twisted his arm away from Blair's grasp and stomped into the kitchen to bang around in the cupboards, looking for who-knew-what. "But this isn't easy." He stopped and leaned over the counter, head hanging low.
Blair followed him and cautiously laid a hand on Jim's back. "I know it's not easy. And I know you're, uh, unnerved..."
Lifting his head and snorting wryly, Jim looked at Blair. "Just say it, Sandburg. I'm scared. See? If I can say it, then so can you."
Smiling a little, Blair patted Jim's shoulder once before gripping it. "Then if you can say it, can you talk about it?"
Jim took a deep breath, then straightened. "Yeah. But let's sit down."
They reseated themselves, this time on the same couch at opposite ends. Jim picked up a stoneware coaster from the coffee table and ran his fingers over it, giving his hands something to do.
"It started off the same. I'm running in the jungle. Only this time it's full day. Warm. Pleasant. But then clouds start to appear. I hear something -- that cry again -- and I follow it. The trees try to hold me back, tearing at my clothes and my hands as I push through. But I keep going, trying to find whatever's hurt. The cry stops suddenly just before I get free of the trees. Then there's this huge lake in front of me. I can't stop running and I fall..."
Jim stopped to gasp in a breath, panting a little, almost reliving the dream as he stared at the coaster. "I fall and fall and I think I'm gonna hit the water. Instead, I land on a hard surface. I open my eyes and see that glass is covering the lake. It's fogged over and I wipe my hand through the fog, wanting to see what's underneath. Something appears -- something dead -- a face -- it..." He broke off and clamped his lips together, fingers tightening around the coaster.
Blair finished the sentence that Jim couldn't after recovering from a moment's shock. "It was me, wasn't it? That's why you yelled and fell out of bed. And why you didn't want me to get in the water this morning." He swallowed and repeated in a whisper. "It was me."
Jim nodded stiffly and, with extreme care, set the coaster back on the table.
Shivering, Blair stared past Jim's profile. "Can't say I blame you for your reaction. I have to admit to being surprised you even let me out of the loft after that."
"Don't think I wasn't tempted," Jim murmured under his breath.
"I heard that." Blair scooted closer to Jim and lightly thwapped him on the upper arm. "You even try to get between me and my beach sun and you're asking for it." He grinned.
Jim chuckled and lifted one hand to pat Blair's cheek. "I still think you went to, uh, observe the beach habits of the female of the species."
Blair's grin widened. "I never said I didn't have secondary reasons."
The detective rolled his eyes, then relaxed into the couch, slouching just a bit. "So, O Great Anthropologist, what do my dreams mean?"
Growing serious again, Blair frowned and gnawed at his lower lip. "Danger obviously. Possibly danger to me, which in turn means danger for you. You heard the panther, but never saw him. Maybe something in your subconscious is trying to warn you, sorta like it did with Lila."
"But warn me of what?"
Blair shrugged. "I don't know. Sometimes we see or hear things and don't realize it, although our subconscious does. Like with Alex--"
Jim winced and closed his eyes, the memories associated with the female sentinel still painful and somewhat raw. A gentle touch on his shoulder made him open his eyes again to see Blair watching him with concern.
"Jim? It's in the past, okay?"
He shifted upright and stared at his younger partner. "How can you talk about her so...so...casually? The things she did...the things I did..."
"No." Blair gripped Jim's shoulder harder and repeated. "It's in the past. And how? I realized something a few weeks after we got back from Sierra Verde. She only holds power over us if we let her. And I choose not to let her."
"Okay." Jim smiled and raised his hand to rest on Blair's. "So now what?"
"Now you let me get my notebook and you tell me every single detail you can remember about your dreams. This time we're gonna figure it out before danger comes a-knocking."
The door to the lab opened silently, and a figure wearing a long overcoat entered, remaining by the shadowed doorway to watch the white-aproned workers inside at scattered tables and counters, all industriously laboring. Bright lights lit the area above each workplace, revealing the expensive equipment the workers used to make precise measurements as they mixed white powders. Classical piano music drifted from one corner, rising just above the clinking glass and ping of metal instruments. Beyond the workers, the city lights glistened against the night sky.
Releasing the door, the half-shadowed figure padded softly across the tiled floor heading to the nearest counter where the director of the lab was also working, glasses settled precariously on the end of his nose. He looked up at the approach, then straightened.
"Sir. I'd been expecting you a bit earlier."
Stopping just outside the circle of light cast by the overhead lamp, the man inclined his head. "The plane was late arriving." Diffused light glinted off his eyes as he continued. "I need you to create a special mixture for me, Cox."
Cox pushed his glasses up and nodded. "Very well. How much? And what percentages?"
A hand reached into one pocket of the dark overcoat and withdrew a stoppered clear glass vial. "Enough to fill this. Powder form. A 70 percent mixture of Golden with the newest house specialty. It's for...a special customer."
Taking the vial, he frowned. "We haven't tried that high of a percentage yet. I can't guarantee the results."
The hand waved once in the air, the light sparking a brief flash on the gold ring. "No matter. It will do for my purposes."
"Yes, sir." Cox stepped away from the table and walked to another counter. Several minutes later he returned and handed the now filled vial over.
The man took it and held it up to the light, watching the yellow-gold powder glisten seductively. "It is sealed?"
"Yes. No danger of spillage."
"Good." With the other hand, he took a dark blue silk handkerchief from an inside pocket and wrapped it protectively around the vial before tucking it away. "Everything is on schedule, I presume."
"Yes, sir. The first full shipment will be ready by the end of the week."
"Excellent. Most excellent."
"C'mon, Doc, I wanna get there before he leaves for the day." Mack glanced at his watch again as he stood in the open doorway of Holli's hotel room.
Inside, Holli quickly put in her second earring, then turned towards him. "The sun isn't even up yet, Mack. What makes you think he's going anywhere? And just how do you know where this guy Eagen is anyway? You didn't know last night." She grabbed a light sweater and her purse, then pulled the sweater on as she passed Mack in the doorway.
Mack let the door close and gestured for them to walk to the elevators down the hall. "Ah, well, that's where Lupita came in."
"Lupita." She gave him a sideways glance. "She an old girlfriend?"
"Of who? Him or me?"
Holli rolled her eyes. "Either? Both? I don't know."
Chuckling, Mack decided to have a little pity on her. "Lupita was someone I, uh, ran into yesterday at one of the surf shops. She's, uh, well, I guess you could say she's an upper class surfer type. Anyway, I told her about my quest to find my dear old friends, Ross and Chester, and she did some asking around. Turns out she knows someone who knows someone who knows someone who--"
She held up a hand. "I get the picture." They stopped in front of the bank of elevators where Holli pressed the 'down' button.
"Anyway, one of those folks in the know had an address for Eagen. It's about 6 months old, but I'm hoping it's still good." He grinned and bounced a little on his toes. "You know, you don't have to come with me."
One of the elevators dinged its arrival and they entered. As the doors shut, Holli laughed. "Let you find this guy by yourself? Are you kidding? Though I still don't understand why you don't just tell Jim and let him take care of this."
"Because I want to be sure Eagen is involved first." Mack paused, then shrugged. "Besides, I'm sure Ellison's busy enough with his own leads."
The man slept deeply, each breath even and low. Passively aware of his surroundings, even in sleep, he twitched briefly when the one sleeping in the room below muttered in his sleep and shifted restlessly. Muscles tensed for a moment, lines appeared on his forehead, but he relaxed as the sleeper below settled again into silence. Deep sleep returned, bringing with it dream-images.
.... running .... running .... "I'm always running." .... flashes of black fur at his side .... jungle all around .... "why are you running?" .... tree limbs snag at him, scratching his arms as he passes .... dead leaves and grass crunch underfoot .... "the wolf...alone...frightened".... trees part ahead of him, spilling his companion and him into a clearing .... soft yellow sunlight streams down from overhead .... home .... safe .... a deep breath .... a contented purr .... a lazy hand reaching down to scratch behind two velvet ears ....
Soft light heralding the coming of the sun inched into the loft, creeping into hidden pockets of darkness, battling the shadows for supremacy.
.... the clearing is empty .... a frown .... a distant low rumble .... the runner stands before the firepit .... stretching a hand over it, judging the fading warmth .... wondering where the others are .... his companion nudges his legs, a whine rumbling in its throat .... "danger" .... light slowly fades .... tension .... fear .... "see and hear...don't realize" .... darkness settles .... growling .... sudden blinding flash of light ....
The man twisted his hands into the top coverlet, muscles bunched, each breath panted into the air as false dawn strove to light the room.
.... blinking .... light again .... too bright .... and alone .... slowly images appear .... tiny flowers blossom on the trees of the clearing .... those blossoms rain down onto the earth .... rocks, bushes, the firepit, all are buried .... he sees a spot of brilliant red weave on the other side of the clearing, nearer to the temple hidden among the tall trees .... "danger to you...to me" .... bow unslung and loaded .... unheard strides pace quickly across .... fallen yellow flowers have buried something .... he reaches out a hand ....
The man's indrawn breath, held for long moments, preceded the withdrawal of the creeping false dawn light to make way for the real sun.
.... a roaring wind sweeps by him, scattering the flowers .... pollen floats in the air .... slowly, the hidden thing is revealed .... a hand .... a red blanket .... a familiar curl of hair .... face hidden by a strip of yellow cloth .... hesitant fingers snatch the cloth away .... he gasps and falls to his knees, bow dropping forgotten on the ground .... the face .... the same face .... tiny yellow blossoms cling to the loose hair, wreathing his face and closed eyes ...."like Alex" .... a shaky hand hovers over the still features, then touches .... cold .... gone .... empty ....
The whispered, half-sobbed word seemed loud in the ears of the abruptly waking man. Jim stared at the ceiling for long moments, then said it again. "No." Plea or command or prayer. At that moment, they were all the same.
Blair, in jeans and a short-sleeve red button-down shirt, leaned against the counter and sipped his second refill of coffee. Glancing behind him at the microwave clock, he shook his head, wondering for the hundredth time since he woke up where his partner was. And for the hundredth time he answered his own question by looking over to the door where Jim's running shoes were not neatly placed next to his work shoes.
Which meant another dream.
Taking another swallow of coffee, Blair stepped over to the table and sat down. He pulled over his backpack and dug out his notebook, then sat back to read over the notes he'd made the night before on Jim's dreams.
Jungle. Running. Darkness. All were elements Jim'd had in previous 'sentinel' dreams, as Blair had privately termed them. But there was this crying wolf thing. And he had to admit it bothered him. He knew the wolf represented himself in Jim's dreams -- it was that very thing that had Jim so...unnerved. Blair had to smile a little as he remembered Jim dismissing that word for the one Blair had tried to avoid. Scared. Sighing, he set down the coffee mug and rubbed a hand over his forehead.
Behind him the loft door clicked and swung open. He turned to see Jim in sweats and a T-shirt slipping inside, a somewhat sheepish expression on his face. "Uh, morning."
"Morning." Blair stayed where he was.
Jim closed the door and held up a white pastry bag. "I brought breakfast." Running shoes went next to the door, then Jim padded across the floor to place the bag on the table. He eyed Blair's mug. "Is there any coffee left?"
Blair chuckled at the plaintive tone. "Of course. You think I'd let you out the door without at least one cup of coffee, man? Simon would probably have me shot -- after you raided his stash, that is."
Relaxing a little at Blair's calm attitude, Jim headed into the kitchen to prepare himself a mug. "You have another lecture this afternoon, right?"
Nodding, Blair twisted in his seat to watch Jim. "Yeah. They moved it to a few hours earlier, though, to accommodate Dr. Malloy's schedule. It's at 2 instead of 4."
"That's doable. We can do a late lunch, then I'll drop you off." Jim leaned against the counter to sip his coffee. "That okay?"
"Yeah, that's fine." Blair asked after a bit, "Did you have a good run?"
Jim's eyes met his over the mug. "Uh, yeah, it was okay."
"You should've woken me up. I would've gone with you."
"You looked tired." He took a swallow. "I didn't want to wake you."
The younger man raised an eyebrow. "I looked tired? You checking up on me, Jim?"
Jim froze a moment, then nodded slowly. "Yeah. I guess I was. Just wanted to make sure--" He broke off and found a sudden intense interest in his coffee.
"You had another dream, didn't you." A statement -- not a question.
Another reluctant nod. "Yeah. This morning. It wasn't...it wasn't pleasant."
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Hesitant silence settled between them as Jim concentrated on his coffee and Blair waited for an answer. Finally, Jim set the mug on the counter, leaving both hands wrapped around it. He stared at the dark liquid as he talked in quick, short sentences.
"It started out the same. Running again. In the jungle. But this time the panther was with me. We ended up in a clearing. At first it was nice. Peaceful." Hands tightening around the mug, he took a breath. "Then it started to get dark. There was this noise, like thunder. Then a flash of light. When I could see again, flowers had bloomed, were blooming, on the trees. I saw something...at the far edge, buried in yellow blossoms. I went to it. It..." He stuttered to a stop, then carefully released the mug before he broke it. "The wind kicked up, blew all the flowers away. It was a body...a dead...body. It was...you." Jim closed his eyes and turned his head away. "That's why I checked on you. I had to know you weren't dead. Doesn't make sense, I know, but..."
Blair appeared at his side, having silently moved from the table. He touched Jim's shoulder and gripped it warmly. "It's okay. I don't mind. It was a dream, a really nasty one. I'd be more surprised if you weren't a bit rattled by it." He rubbed his fingers over the tense muscles. "You gonna be okay?"
Jim took a deep breath and straightened, eyes opening to meet Blair's. "Yeah. I'll be okay." He smiled at his partner and reached up to pat his hand. "Thanks."
"Anytime." He glanced back at the microwave clock. "And speaking of time, we probably need to get a move on. We still need to pick up the customer lists for the Weelan shirts. If we're too long, Simon's gonna call to make sure we haven't skipped town to avoid the feds."
Chuckling, Jim picked up the coffee mug to take a few huge swallows. "Tempting idea, Chief. Very tempting." He set the mug down and headed towards the bathroom. "Let me grab a quick shower, change my clothes, and we can be on our way."
The bathroom door opened abruptly again as Blair meandered back to the table. Jim pointed a stern finger at him. "Don't you even think about eating my prune Danish, Sandburg. Or my buttermilk donut."
Blair held up both hands. "Do I look like the type to risk the wrath of a hungry Ellison? Not."
Jim rolled his eyes and ducked back inside the bathroom. A few moments later, the shower came on. Blair sat down and opened the bag to peer inside. "Prunes? Buttermilk?" He shuddered melodramatically. "As if." Carefully, he took out the contents and found a wonderfully huge and hot and fresh banana nut muffin. Licking his lips, he started to pull it apart. "Now this is more like it. Yeah."
Mack knocked at the apartment door again with still no answer. Next to him, Holli said, "Maybe he's already left."
"Maybe." He glanced around the hallway, but didn't see anybody giving them any notice. He reached down and cautiously tried the doorknob. It was unlocked. "Our lucky day..."
Holli grabbed his arm as he prepared to push the door inward. "Mack! We can't just waltz into his apartment!"
"And we're not going to." He gave the door a shove, letting it swing open. "We're just gonna look in from the outside. No crime." Craning his head, he peered inside, leaning his body past the threshold. "And it's not like we broke in. The door was-- Um, Doc? You have your cellphone on you?"
"Yes. Why?" She frowned and stepped closer to the door, one hand already pulling her purse around so she could open it.
"I think I've changed my mind about calling Ellison." He backed away and gestured into the apartment.
Holli looked inside and gasped as she saw Eagen's body -- with the very obvious two bullet wounds in his chest -- on the floor. Grimacing, she got out her phone and dialed 911. "Yes, this is Dr. Dawn Holliday, a visiting ME from Honolulu PD. I need to report a homicide. Also, I need to contact Detective James Ellison. I think this may pertain to his case. Yes, that's right. Detective Ellison of Major Crimes."
Flashbulbs flared as a forensics officer took several pictures of Eagen's body before Jake Morgan knelt down to get a closer look. Mack and Holli stood against the far wall, watching and whispering quietly to each other and generally keeping out of the way. After a mild bit of confusion over Mack's identity, the two uniformed officers who were first on the scene had ignored them. As they talked, a familiar voice suddenly echoed in the hallway outside the door where others in the apartment building had gathered to gawk.
"Excuse me. Excuse me. Coming through."
A few moments later, Jim entered the apartment, flashing his badge for the officer at the door. "Detective Ellison. Major Crimes."
Nodding, the officer stepped aside and let him in. "Dr. Morgan is here already, Detective. And the two that found the body -- Dr. Holliday and Lt. Wolfe -- are inside as well."
"Thanks." Jim stuffed his badge back into his pocket and pulled out a pair of gloves as he approached the body. Sparing a brief glance over at Holli and Mack, he continued further into the room to crouch next to Eagen's body, snapping the gloves into place.
Morgan glanced up as he approached. "Hey, Jim. We're getting an early start here." He craned his head to look behind the detective. "No Sandburg this morning?"
Jim shook his head. "Nope. He's picking up something for me and is gonna meet me back at the station with it." He cautiously tugged the thin T-shirt away from the bulletholes. "So, any preliminaries for me, Jake?"
"Hmm...small caliber. Maybe." Morgan shrugged. "Hard to say. According to what I've heard the rubberneckers outside say, no one heard or saw anything."
Jim snorted wryly. "Not a big surprise for this neighborhood, but it could mean the killer had a silencer."
"It's possible." Morgan nodded, then stood up; Jim followed a moment later. "As for how long...at least overnight. Twelve hours, give or take."
The detective nodded, then looked around the small dingy apartment. "The door wasn't forced. No sign of struggle except for where it looks like he fell against the table." He gestured towards the off-center table and scattered beer cans. "So he might've known the killer, perhaps even let him in." Chewing on his lower lip, Jim turned away from the body and walked across the floor. "Any ID for this guy?"
"Eagen," Mack spoke up abruptly. "Ross Eagen."
Jim froze, then swiveled towards the voice. "You knew him?" Frowning, he joined Mack and Holli. "Just what were you two doing here, anyway?"
Mack cleared his throat and glanced at Holli before explaining. "You remember those, uh, old friends I was gonna look up?"
"Yeah," Jim answered hesitantly.
"Eagen was one of them. I, uh, guess either he must've made some enemies in Cascade or...he was involved in something a bit over his head."
"Great." Jim sighed and rubbed his forehead. He opened his mouth to say something else when Megan entered the apartment, pushing her way through the slowly disappearing crowd in the hallway.
"Jim." She walked over to him, inclining her head at Mack and Holli in brief greeting. "What's going on? You said something over the phone about this maybe being connected to our case."
Jim turned and gestured towards the body. "Conner, meet Ross Eagen. Mack and Holli came for a morning visit and found him like this."
Megan stepped cautiously across the floor and glanced over the body, asking a few quiet questions of Morgan before both of them rejoined Jim and the others. Megan asked, "So what's the scoop on Eagen then?" Glancing around the room, she frowned. "And where's Sandy? I thought he didn't have classes until this afternoon."
Jim made a face as Morgan chuckled. "What is this? I show up somewhere alone and everyone immediately asks about Sandburg." He rolled his eyes at Megan's smothered laugh and answered her question. "No, he doesn't have any classes right now. I sent him to pick up the client lists from the Weelan shops. He's gonna meet us back at the station." Jim glanced back at Eagen's body. "One less body for him to see. Not that he argued a whole lot."
Still amused, Morgan spoke up. "Is it okay if I bag him, Ellison?"
Jim waved a hand. "Yeah, yeah, go ahead. Let me know what you find out and put a rush on it. I have a feeling the trail is gonna get cold fast."
"You got it." The assistant coroner stepped away and began directing his staff.
Returning his attention to Mack and Holli, Jim crossed his arms. "So...what is the scoop on our friend Eagen?"
Mack straightened a little. "I always believed that Eagen and another man were involved in the Ennis case, just like Harry. I just could never prove it."
"The Ennis case?" Jim questioned.
"Uh, yeah. That's the unofficial name I use. We overheard Pratt using the name once for one of the head bosses, the one we never saw. Anyway, after Pratt vanished, the other two disappeared as well, though I was able to track them both to the Northwest and eventually to Cascade."
Megan raised an eyebrow. "I thought it was a dead case soon after Pratt left."
"Well..." Mack waffled a moment, then shrugged, a half-embarrassed smile on his face. "The case bugged me. So I picked at it every now and then. When Holli's conference came up, I couldn't resist."
Holli covered her eyes with one hand and shook her head, emitting a small noise that sounded something like an aggrieved groan mixed with a muffled laugh.
Jim sighed and looked over at Megan. "Sounds vaguely familiar, Conner. I seem to recall you doing the same thing with Bruenell."
Megan just smiled insincerely at him for a moment, then returned her attention to Mack. "So what happened?"
Mack rocked on his heels. "Yesterday. I did a little asking around at the places I figured they'd hang out, showed a few pictures, and found Eagen's address." He looked past Jim as the black bag was zipped up, covering Eagen's body. "Guess I was a day too late."
Jim asked, "Do you have the pictures with you? And who's the other guy? Maybe we can still find him."
Holli quickly opened her purse. "I've got them." She clicked open an inner pocket and withdrew the photos, handing them over to Jim. "The top one's Eagen -- obviously in better days."
"And the second one is Chester Potts," Mack added.
Jim flipped to the second picture and tilted it to show Megan. Both of them sucked in a breath. Megan snatched the second picture and looked at it more closely. "Jim! That's--"
"I know." He fixed a stare on Mack. "Who's the girl with Potts?"
Mack blinked. "The girl? I'm not sure. Why? Is she important?"
Megan sighed and returned the pictures to Holli. "That girl is the OD'd homeless girl we've been trying to ID."
Jim pulled out his cellphone and started dialing. "Our connection just got a whole lot stronger." He waited a moment as the phone on the other end rang and then was picked up. "Brown, it's Ellison. I need you to find anything and everything you can on a Chester Potts. We think he might be an associate of our new DB, one Ross Eagen ... Has Sandburg shown up yet?" Glancing at his watch, he shook his head. "No, that's okay. He'll probably get there the same time we do. Thanks." After snapping the phone shut, Jim looked pointedly at Holli.
Holli raised an eyebrow and met his gaze evenly. "What?"
"Are you busy this morning?"
Her other eyebrow went up and her lips curled into a small smile. "No. My next meeting isn't until late afternoon. Why?"
"I was wondering if you could do me a small favor."
Continued in Part Six...