Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- OWW crossovers
Dash of Conspiracy, Enemies on All Sides
A Sentinel/One West Waikiki crossover
Silver metal balls tapped against each other delicately in a hypnotic rhythm. In chaotic counterpoint, fingers beat impatiently on the desk as quiet music played over a telephone speaker. The music halted abruptly and a young female voice came over the line.
"Rainier Anthropology Department. Thank you for holding. How can I help you?"
Leather creaked as he shifted forward to lean nearer the speaker. "I would like to speak to one of your anthropology teaching fellows. I believe his last name is Sandburg; his first name starts with a 'B', I think."
A quiet pause, a smack of gum, then the girl replied. "Blair Sandburg. According to our schedule, he's not in his office right now. Do you want to leave a message?"
"No, no message. I'd like to surprise him. Do you know when he'll be in?"
"Ummm...probably later this afternoon. He's supposed to be holding office hours."
"Really. I'm actually in town, so maybe I'll stop by personally. Where's his office?"
"Hargrove Hall, Room 211. We're by the fountain."
"Oh, let me write that down. Hargrove Hall, Room 211. By the fountain. Thank you very much and have a nice day." He stretched out his hand and pressed the button to hang up the phone. Smoothing the bit of bond paper with the penciled address on it, the man leaned back in his chair and folded his hands together across one leg, light catching his gold ring.
"Thank you very much indeed."
Simon met Jim and the others as they exited the elevator onto the Major Crimes floor. Jim slid sideways through the opening doors, barely stopping as Simon fell into step next to him.
"Fill me in."
Megan, Holli, and Mack followed behind as they entered the bullpen and headed directly for Simon's office. Jim spoke as they walked.
"According to Mack, Ross Eagen was a hired gun whom he suspected had ties to the same case as Pratt. Mack calls it the 'Ennis case' named for one the top guys. Eagen and another man, Chester Potts, both left Hawaii just after Pratt disappeared. Mack had tracked them here in his spare time."
They filed into Simon's office, leaving the door ajar. Simon sat on the edge of his desk while Megan, Holli, and Mack sat down -- or rather the ladies sat, and Mack perched on one corner of the table. Jim remained standing, gesturing with his hands as he continued.
"I'm having Brown do a background check on Potts and hopefully he'll get us some leads on where to find him."
"Good, good." Simon nodded. "Where's--"
A perfunctory knock on the door preceded Blair's hurried entry into the office.
Blair waved a hand in the air, encompassing the room's occupants. "Hey, guys." He stepped over to Jim, lifting several papers. "Customer lists."
"Great." Jim took the pages and scanned through them, running a finger along the names, half his attention remained on Blair as he kept talking.
"That's just from two of the shops, plus a personal list from Jasmine. The computers were down at the third shop, so I asked them to email you their list just as soon as they could."
Jim nodded and kept reading. He paused on the second page and glanced at Blair who stood next to him, bouncing a little on his toes. "Your name is on this list, Chief."
"Hmm?" He peered over Jim's arm. "Oh yeah, of course it is. Jasmine made me this totally wild shirt last year."
Jim squinted at him. "Don't tell me -- it's that chartreuse and hot pink swirly thing you wore last year for Halloween." He winced in painful memory of the shocking combination of colors.
Blair grinned widely. "Yeah. Way cool for trick-or-treating."
"Yeah," Jim deadpanned. "No flashlight needed." He returned his attention to the lists, continuing to read the names. In the background he heard Simon teasing Blair about being too old to trick-or-treat and had to grin when Blair came back with a comment that sounded suspiciously like the beginning of his "old is a state of mind" lecture. A few moments later, he had to cough around a hastily suppressed chortle when he heard Megan's mock whisper to Holli and Mack.
"Don't mind them. They do this all the time. I think it's a father-son thing."
Jim quickly re-entered the conversation as Simon nailed Megan with a hard and completely unamused glare. Megan only grinned cheekily at the captain. Blair just chuckled and bounced on his toes again.
Jim handed the lists to Simon. "Aside from Sandburg, I don't recognize any names."
"No Eagen or Potts. Rats," Mack huffed.
"Who're they?" Blair queried.
"Ross Eagen was the body found this morning at an apartment building in Southtown. A hired gun from Mack's old case. Two shots to the chest," Jim explained.
Blair grimaced. "Nasty. And Potts?"
"Chester Potts. Mack thinks he and Eagen might be involved in our case. I'll fill you in later on the details." Jim paused, then turned to Holli. "Can I see those pictures again, Holli?"
"Sure." Holli removed them from her purse and handed them over.
Jim identified the men to Simon and Blair. "This is Eagen. And this...is Potts."
Blair blinked and squinted at the second picture, hand absently reaching for the glasses in his shirt pocket. "Wait a minute, Jim, that's the girl."
Simon took a closer look as Jim nodded. "We know." He glanced at Mack. "I'm hoping Mack's contacts in Hawaii might get us closer to finding out who she is, if not giving us a positive ID."
Mack nodded thoughtfully. "I can get Kimo to find out when and where exactly those pictures were taken. Might give us a place to start at least. I also chatted with someone last night who gave me a few ideas on where to look for Potts. Apparently he's a big music buff. And likes the beaches."
"Uh, there's a Virgin Megastore," Blair said quickly, "and a few smaller alternative music shops near the north end of Cascade Beach."
"You might also want to check the teenage hang-outs." Brown entered, a file in hand. "Excuse me, Captain. Jim wanted this information about our man Potts."
Simon nodded. "What have you got?" He took the file Brown handed him and opened it, flipping through the few pages of information. Jim stood next to him, scanning it himself.
Brown continued. "Seems that Potts likes young girls." To the side, Mack nodded knowingly. "He's been hauled in quite a few times due to complaints by parents. The girls say nothing happened, though, and he gets off. According to reports, he buys them jewelry, CD's, expensive stuff, even sponsoring some wild parties."
"What a nice guy." Jim shook his head, jaw muscle tightening.
Simon slapped the file shut and handed it to Jim before looking at Brown. "You and Rafe start looking for this creep. Detective Wolfe...care to join them?"
Mack slid off the table, a hungry grin lighting up his face. "I was hoping you'd ask."
Chuckling, Simon returned his attention to Brown, explaining the invitation. "Wolfe knows Potts from a previous investigation and can ID him."
As Brown and Mack left the room to start looking for Potts, Holli cleared her throat. "Detective...Jim, earlier you mentioned a favor you wanted to ask me."
Ignoring the raised eyebrow from Blair, Jim turned to look at Holli. "Yes. The other day you said you were here to talk about some kind of DNA drug."
He continued. "I was wondering if maybe you could lend us your expertise and take a look at the drug we've been investigating -- we're having some...difficulty pinning down its components. " Glancing at Simon, he added, "If that's all right with you, Captain."
Simon pursed his lips, then slowly nodded. "Yes, okay. Welles is probably still checking out Eagen's apartment with her team, so you could borrow her lab."
Holli stood. "Well then, lead on, Jim. You've got me interested."
Jim gestured towards the door. "And while you're doing that, I'll have Sandburg and Conner start looking through our stacks of case files again. Maybe we've missed something..."
Megan folded her arms across her chest as she rose to her feet. "And just what will you be doing during this time, Jimbo?"
The detective blinked once, then said patiently, "Well, someone has to supervise the two of you, Conner."
Blair and Megan exchanged a look, then Blair sighed and shook his head. "I think he's trying to regain lost ground after losing to you yesterday at the beach. A blow to his self-esteem, his manliness, you know."
Simon chuckled low in his throat and concentrated on pulling his cigar case from his pocket and extracting a new cigar. Holli laughed quietly while Megan nodded in agreement to Blair's quite serious statement. Jim just rolled his eyes and shoved Blair towards the door. "Out, Chief. Time to get to work."
"All right, all right, I'm going," Blair grumbled. "No need to get all primeval on me..."
As the four of them made their way out of the office, the captain spoke up one last time. "Jim..."
Being the last one out, Jim paused and looked back at Simon. "Yes, sir?"
A half-smile on his face, Simon pointed at Jim with his unlit cigar. "Just make sure you tell Cassie when she gets back that it's okay for Dr. Holliday to be in the lab. You know she gets a little, uh, possessive sometimes."
Jim tapped two fingers to his forehead in a salute and chuckled as he pulled the door closed upon leaving the office. "That she does."
The morning hours passed in a blur of reports, phone calls, and the ubiquitous paperwork as Jim, Blair, and Megan worked on wrapping up the other cases they'd been assigned in the past few weeks -- most of which had been put on hold. The drug case had quickly taken precedence over everything else and they decided to take advantage of the brief time they had nothing to do but wait and play catch-up.
Holli made slow progress on analyzing the drug, choosing to start from scratch in order to compare her testing results with Cassie's. Brown, Rafe, and Mack had little luck finding Potts by the time they called to check in mid-morning, but they had a possible lead, so they stayed in the area in the hopes he'd show up.
Simon sequestered himself in his office for a couple of hours -- with Daryl -- to discuss college and his son's various career goals. Which included a surprisingly quiet debate about choosing law enforcement, the pros and cons, and just what Daryl would have to do become a cop "just like his dad."
Noon came and went before anyone realized it. With a muttered grumble towards the inanities of crooks and paperwork, Jim reluctantly agreed that his earlier idea of a late lunch wouldn't happen. So at 12:30, when the file folders began to look appealing enough to eat, Blair took a break and went down the street to get everyone sandwiches from the local deli and real coffee from the coffee shop next door.
An hour later found Jim still nibbling on the remnants of his potato chips as they put the finishing touches on the last report. He signed off with a flourish and leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms out above him. Emitting a pleased sigh, he grinned at his two companions.
Blair laughed and stacked the case files neatly on the corner of Jim's desk. "Feeling rather smug, are we, Jim?"
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am." His grin enlarged.
Megan shook her head and shoved back from her desk to stand up. She walked over to Jim's desk and crossed her arms. "You look like you've just won a battle, Jimbo."
"I have. Against the neverending stack of paperwork." He shuddered. "I'd rather be hunting down bad guys."
Still chuckling, Blair twisted in his seat and picked up his open backpack which rested against the coatrack. He carefully stuffed a few folders inside, then zipped it up. "Well, Megan, what say we leave the Mighty Hunter to his preening and get to the University?" He ducked the expected head-swat and quickly stood up, dancing away from Jim's longer reach.
"You'll get yours later, Shorty." Jim pointed a finger at Blair but Blair just pointed back at him. The detective turned his attention to Megan who had returned to her desk to get her things. "You're going with him to the lecture, Conner?"
Smiling, she said, "It sounded interesting. Dreams and their meanings. You said Dr. Malloy would be speaking about different cultures today, right Sandy?"
Blair nodded and shouldered his backpack. His eyes lit up with enthusiasm. "Yeah. 'Cultures and Dreams.' How they interpret dreams. Heck, how they dream period. Rituals and, uh, various ways to enhance dreams..."
"Drugs, you mean," Jim stated flatly.
"Well, yeah, but it's their culture. It's the way their ancestors did it. And it's not like we're trying this stuff out -- nor am I planning to -- it's just discussion." Blair fingered his backpack strap for a moment, reading the uncertainty in Jim's eyes. Drugs of any kind, no matter what their use, was a touchy subject at best for Jim. Especially now in light of the recent deaths and Golden making its reappearance. Megan looked back and forth between them, obviously curious at the battle of wills, but knowing well enough to stay out of it.
Finally the detective relaxed and waved a hand at them. "Go on. You don't wanna be late."
"Be late for what, Mr. Sandburg?"
Back still to the door, Blair stiffened for a second, his brief scowl matching the one on his partner's face. Then he pasted on a polite smile and turned to greet the new arrivals. "Agent Malinson. Agent Shaw."
"Skipping out on work, I see." Malinson stood slightly in front of her older partner, thereby missing him wince at her caustic words.
Behind him, Blair heard Jim inhale sharply and rise to his feet. Blair waved the fingers of the hand at his side, indicating that Jim should let it be. "Unfortunately, yes, I have to leave. I'm a student, as you well know, and I have a class at 2. Knowing how my luck goes, Jim will get the case wrapped up by time I get back and I'll miss all the fun."
The woman bristled. "Fun? Fun!?" She stepped towards Blair and suddenly found Megan in her way. Backpedaling away just a hair, she glared at the inspector. "Conner."
Megan leaned in close to Malinson's face, lowering her voice. "Piss off, Malinson."
"Detective Ellison..." File in hand, Morgan strode into the bullpen from another doorway and nearly screeched to a halt upon seeing the two women squaring off. "I can, uh, come back later." He looked from the two women to Shaw to Blair to Jim and back to the women.
Megan turned away from Malinson, dismissing her. "No, it's okay. Is that the report on Eagen?"
"Uh, yeah." He met Jim at his desk and handed over the file.
Megan glanced at her watch, then at Blair. "How much time do we have, Sandy?"
Blair craned his head around to look at the wall clock. "We've got a few minutes yet."
Rejoining Jim at his desk, Megan glanced through the autopsy report with him. Blair leaned against Brown's desk, listening and watching as Morgan began to explain what he'd found. Shaw walked over as well, standing a few feet away from Jim's desk; Malinson glared at Blair a moment longer, then joined her partner.
Morgan hadn't gotten more than four words out when Cassie strode in and plopped another folder onto Jim's desk. "Jim. Forensics report on Eagen's apartment. Guy was a slob, but he had rich tastes. Traces of our mystery drug turned up in several places." She crossed her arms and waited until Jim gave the autopsy report to Megan. Ignoring the others in the bullpen, Cassie watched as Jim picked up the forensics file to look it over. "I'd say he was one of the middlemen."
"Hmm...maybe." Jim flipped through the pages, then glanced over at Morgan. "Did you find any of the drug in his system?"
The assistant ME shook his head. "Not so far. Heavy drinker. And he used cigarettes, but no drugs." He paused, then chuckled wryly. "The guy killed him probably did him a favor. Looked like he was on the verge of getting cirrhosis."
Jim handed the report to Megan to look over, then chewed on his lower lip a moment as he stared across the desk at Blair. "Favor. Right. The killer also conveniently silenced one of our few leads."
Blair met his eyes, then said, "Maybe he knew something. Or someone."
"Possibly. Didn't Mack say something about him being a hired gun? If so, maybe he screwed up and missed."
"Missed?" Blair frowned. "Missed who?"
"Us." Jim turned to Morgan. "Have you run his prints yet?"
"I was just about to."
"Good. See if you can match them to the partials forensics pulled from the car that tried to run me and Sandburg down yesterday. I've got a...hunch."
Cassie spoke up suddenly, a small smile on her face. "One of those Ellison hunches, Jim?"
Jim nodded. "Yup. One of those. How's Dr. Holliday doing with the drug, by the way?"
"Ah, yes, Dr. Holliday." Cassie frowned, then shook it off. "Things are still going slow. But she was mumbling to herself about connectors and co-enzymes when I left, so maybe she's getting somewhere."
Morgan raised an eyebrow. "You've got Dr. Holliday looking at the drug?" He glanced at the feds, then back at Jim.
Megan nudged Jim with one of the reports and pointed at something. "Jim..."
Jim answered Morgan absently as he took the report. "Yeah, she's got a strong background in pharmacology, so I thought..." He trailed off as he concentrated on the papers, then began a low-voiced conversation with Megan over the item she had pointed out. Morgan and Cassie soon joined the discussion as a few details were examined. Malinson boldly shifted a few feet closer to eavesdrop.
Shaw stepped over to Blair's side and asked, "Who's Dr. Holliday?"
Blair straightened and replied, "Dr. Holliday is a friend who's visiting from Hawaii. She's also the Chief ME at the Honolulu PD and sort of an expert on drugs, so Jim asked her to look at the white powder."
"And that's okay with your own ME's office?" Shaw gestured towards Morgan and Cassie. "No, uh, territorial disputes?"
Chuckling at the fed's unexpected insight, Blair grinned and leaned towards Shaw to whisper conspiratorially, "Not with Morgan, anyway."
Shaw smiled and left his eyes on Morgan and Cassie another moment. Morgan's eyes slid to meet his and the assistant ME frowned briefly before returning his attention to Jim. Turning serious again, Shaw lowered his voice and shifted to face Blair more fully. "I want to apologize for Malinson, Mr. Sandburg. She can be a little...tactless at times."
Blair waved it away. "It's okay. She doesn't bother me." He paused, then amended his statement. "Well, she does bother me, but I don't let it get to me. Jim thinks she's still upset about that artifacts case I solved a while back."
"That could be." Shaw chuckled. "Personally -- and this may sound a bit chauvinistic, but I don't mean it that way -- personally, I think she needs to develop a social life. Her work is all she does and all she cares about. It's unbalanced."
"I thought all feds were married to the job," Blair countered with a grin.
Shaw pointed at the wedding band on his left hand. "Not all of us. I've been married for almost twenty years to a very lovely woman. Unfortunately, she's an executive in a computer company and travels a great deal, but we spend as much time together as we can."
Blair nodded. "Oh yeah, I remember now. Jim mentioned to me yesterday that you left early to pick up your wife at the airport. And speaking of leaving early..." He shifted to look at the wall clock, then made a face as he raised his voice a little. "Megan, if you're coming, we gotta go now."
In a flurry of quick words and parting greetings, Blair and Megan disappeared from the bullpen, rushing out to catch the elevator down to the garage. Jim went back to his discussion with Morgan and Cassie, Malinson still looking on. Shaw looked in the direction of the elevators, hearing the echo of Blair's excited voice drift towards him as the doors closed. With a smile, he turned and joined the others at Jim's desk.
An hour into the two-hour lecture, Megan had to admit that the lecture wasn't what she'd expected -- it was better. Dr. Malloy was intelligent and charming as well as pretty darn good-looking. She'd figured that the esteemed Dr. David Malloy would be someone in his sixties. Instead, he was in his mid-forties. And single if the interested glance he'd thrown her way earlier was any indication.
Next to her, Blair divided his attention between the lecture and writing rapid notes in his notebook. Every now and then he'd pause and frown for a few moments, staring at the words in puzzlement. Each time Megan started to ask what was wrong but then he'd shake his head and go on like nothing had happened.
Her attention returned to the present as the lights dimmed and Dr. Malloy turned on an overhead projector. She leaned slightly in Blair's direction to get a better look from their corner seats at the front of the room. They'd arrived late and opted to sit in the first seats available rather than cross in front of everyone else.
As the overheads and Dr. Malloy's words on dreams, symbolism, and rituals flew past, Megan heard the sharp snap of pencil lead breaking. Glancing to the side, she saw Blair absently brushing away the broken lead from the surface of his notebook. He gazed somewhere into the middle distance, eyes unfocused, lips parted and moving silently. Raising a hand and touching his shoulder, she asked in a whisper, "Sandy?"
Blair swallowed, but didn't turn to look at her as he said in a low tone, "That's it. That's gotta be it. Oh, man..."
Megan frowned and glanced around them before gripping Blair's shoulder more tightly. "What's it?"
Slowly, he turned his head to meet her eyes. His own eyes remained partially glazed, evidence that something had stunned him. "Jim's dreams. I know what they mean." Blue eyes cleared quickly as Blair reached down to grab his backpack where it lay half-stuffed under his seat. "I have to check out a few things. And I know... I gotta tell Jim...oh, man..."
"Sandy..." Megan hissed, trying to get his attention before the racket he was making became too disturbing. Dr. Zavala, seated in the same row several seats down, looked curiously in their direction. Dr. Malloy did as well a few moments later as Blair stuffed his notebook and pencil inside his backpack and continued to mumble under his breath about dreams and warnings.
Slinging the backpack onto his shoulder, Blair stood and promptly froze, abruptly realizing he'd become the center of attention. "Uh..." He looked over at Dr. Zavala who shifted forward in preparation to stand. Dr. Malloy looked just a bit perturbed at having his lecture interrupted. Blair edged towards the door as he spoke. "I'm sorry. I...have to go. Nothing wrong with the lecture. It's great. Wonderful. In fact, thank you. You helped me figure a few things out. It's just..." He trailed off and glanced at Megan, then back at Dr. Malloy. "I'm sorry." With those quick words, he shoved open the door and slipped out.
Megan hesitated a moment, then sighed and shook her head. She threw an apologetic glance towards the more perturbed-looking Dr. Malloy, gave up on her nebulous thoughts of perhaps seeing if he was staying in the area, and hurried out of the lecture hall as well. The door closed behind her as she paused in the nearly empty hallway. To her left she saw Blair striding down the long corridor in the direction of his office. Muttering a few words about eccentric police observers and how fast they moved, she followed him, quickening her pace to catch up.
Jim leaned against the counter in the break room and stared into the surface of the hot coffee as he stirred in sugar. The room was empty except for him, and the door to the room was shut, cutting the outer noise to a dull roar which the clinking of the spoon drowned out easily. Judging the coffee to be sufficiently stirred, he laid the spoon in the sink behind him and took a few tentative sips before indulging in a full swallow. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed the aroma -- break room brand that it was -- and let the caffeine work its magic. A smile flitted across his features. He'd joked to Blair once that he could feel caffeine working. Blair had scoffed at first, then, ever-curious man that he was, wanted to run tests.
Someone tapped at the door and he opened his eyes as Simon entered, edging past the doorjamb. "Is this a private coffee ceremony or can anybody join?"
Chuckling, Jim gestured with his mug to the coffee maker. "Normally I don't allow outsiders, but for you, Simon...why not."
Low laughter sounded through the room as Simon shut the door and strode to the counter, picking up a clean mug from the countertop. He poured himself a cup of coffee, then added cream from the small container Jim absently handed him. After getting the mixture he wanted, Simon set the cream container aside and settled in to lean against the counter next to Jim. "So, any news?"
"Not much. Malinson and Shaw left a half an hour ago after pilfering through our files again." He paused, then chuckled. "You missed Conner wanting to hand Malinson her head on a platter."
"Malinson still going after Sandburg?"
"Yeah. And Conner took offense." He laughed and shook his head, then sighed. "Holli's still working on the drug. It's pretty complicated, she says. But she also thinks she can ID its probable origins for us. Something about protein pairings or something. It was all Greek to me. What I did understand was her comments about this drug not being made in some warehouse. This is a very carefully created drug, nothing experimental about it."
Simon rubbed a hand across his forehead. "Which probably means the sleazeballs running this operation have access to money. Damn. Anything else?"
"Nope. Morgan left right after the feds did. He said Dan called and wanted a personal update on what was going on in his office."
The captain laughed. "Poor Dan. Stuck at his house. Wonder how much longer we'll be able to keep him there."
"Knowing Dan, probably not long at all." He lifted his mug and took a few more swallows. Simon did the same and silence descended between them. Jim concentrated on his coffee and Simon concentrated on looking like he wasn't watching Jim.
Finally, one side of Jim's mouth tipped upward into the beginnings of a grin. "Go ahead, Simon. Ask whatever you want."
Simon rolled his eyes and cleared his throat. "It's not so much a question, as a concern. You look tired, Jim."
Jim sipped more coffee. "I am tired, Simon. This case...well, it's been one of those I can't leave at the door. It even follows me into my sleep. I have these dreams..." He trailed off and stared into his coffee.
"Dreams?" Simon frowned. "Is that why Sandburg's taking this lecture series?"
"Part of the reason, yeah. He wants to figure out what my dreams mean, maybe get them to stop." He paused. "And he thought it sounded fun. Like a new toy." Chuckling, he glanced over at Simon. "Just don't tell him that."
Simon laughed. "He won't hear it from me." He took another swallow, then reached out a hand and gripped Jim's shoulder. "You're okay?"
Jim nodded sharply. "I'm okay. Thanks, Simon."
He returned the nod, downed the rest of his coffee, set his mug in the sink to be cleaned, then headed towards the door. "Back to work."
Jim followed suit with his coffee and joined Simon at the door. "You had to say it."
The captain chuckled low and pulled open the door. "Someone had to."
Megan caught up with Blair just as he unlocked the door to his office. "Sandy, what's going on? What dreams are you talking about?"
Blair entered and tossed his backpack on his chair before opening a large book on his desk. "Jim's been having these really intense dreams and... Close the door, would you?" Restraining the urge to roll her eyes, Megan did as he asked and closed the door. She joined Blair at the desk as he rapidly paged through the book, obviously searching for something.
"So Jim's having dreams. And...?"
"And the last time he had a dream as intense as these, Alex showed up and I died." He spared a quick glance at Megan. "Not something I care to repeat."
She shuddered in memory. "No argument here. So does this mean we have to worry about another psycho sentinel showing up?"
Blair shook his head as he continued to scan the book. "No, I don't think so..." He paused, then stepped over to open his backpack and pull out his notebook. "Jim's dreams center around running, looking for someone in danger -- that someone is me. I think his dreams are a warning."
"A warning of what?"
"That's what we've been trying to figure out. And I think..." He flipped through his notebook and ran a finger down the pages, muttering random words from the notes he'd taken as he did. "I think I've figured part of them out." Straightening, he gestured with his hands as he explained in hurried tones. "I thought at first that his dreams were just a reflection of the stress of the drug case, but then they started to get more intense. In the last two -- including the one he had this morning -- well, to put it shortly, he found me in his dreams -- dead."
Megan winced. "Not a good omen."
Blair waved it away. "That's only part of it. In this morning's, he found me mostly buried in blossoms. Yellow blossoms."
"Golden." The word dropped between them.
"Exactly. I didn't make the connection until just now. But that wasn't all. He found me in what was supposed to be a safe place. A protected place. Somewhere that was not supposed to have any enemies around."
Megan pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. "So you're saying...what? I think you lost me."
Blair took a deep breath, then said, "I think we need to be looking inside instead of outside. I think whoever's creating and dealing these drugs is someone inside the PD or at least local law enforcement."
She gasped. "What!? That's an awful big conclusion to make, Sandy."
He paced away, one hand moving jerkily in the air. "I know, I know. But think about it! Every time we think we've found a lead, something happens before we can follow up on it. They've been one step ahead of us for weeks. It's almost...it's almost like someone's been keeping tabs on us." Turning back to her, he gestured again, then let his hands drop to his sides. "Like they know every step we've taken, every piece of evidence we've got, every person we've talked to or are considering talking to. How else would they have known that Jim and I were at Jasmine's house yesterday?"
"And how the drug busts were so mysteriously small...as if they knew we were coming..." She grimaced. "Damn. You may be right." Rubbing her forehead, she leaned against the desk and sighed. "So what do you want to do?"
"Tell Jim. He's not gonna be happy...especially since I have a name in mind." Returning to his desk, he sifted through stacks of papers and books to dig out the buried desk phone, absently reaching up to brush loose hair behind his ear.
Her eyes widened. "You do?"
Phone receiver in hand, he straightened. "Yup. I finally remembered something." He quickly tapped in the number for Jim's cellphone. "I saw--"
The office door swung open, startling them both into looking up. A gun with a silencer on it preceded the entry of two men. The first one -- someone Megan vaguely recognized as a local thug -- cocked the gun and pointed it at her forehead while the second one -- standing behind the thug -- spoke in a cultured tone.
"Please hang up the phone, Mr. Sandburg. It would be such a shame to tell Cory to shoot Inspector Conner. She is, after all, only visiting our country."
Blair dropped the receiver into the base just as he heard Jim pick up.
"Hello?" The sound of air followed by a click and dial tone answered Jim's query. Grumbling under his breath, he snapped the cellphone shut and stuffed it back into his coat pocket hanging on the back of his chair. He refocused his attention on the computer screen and the search results that had finally arrived on the names of the Weelan T-shirt lists. So far, most were simply residents of the area, teenagers or those old enough to have been teenagers during the Woodstock era. Nothing even remotely dangerous. A few had misdemeanor violations, but nothing along the lines of drug use or dealing.
Growling, Jim hit the page down button and kept scanning the reports, hoping to find some connections. Several fruitless minutes later, his email beeped, notifying him of new mail. Relieved to be given a break, he switched over to his email program. Amidst a few interdepartmental memos was a reply from Mack's friend, Kimo, in Hawaii. Reading Kimo's message brought both a sense of closure and sadness to him. Kimo'd found a possible ID for the dead homeless girl.
By enlarging a beach club sign in the background of the photo, Kimo had tracked down its physical location, and asked a few people in the area about the girl. They'd only been able to give him her first name -- Annalisa -- and that they'd seen her with Chester Potts quite often. Apparently she'd vanished around the same time Potts had, too, since no one had seen her in the past several years. Some assumed she was the daughter of Potts' employer, the one who paid for his membership at the beach club. Unfortunately, the club was rather exclusive and "snooty," and refused to divulge any information without a warrant.
Jim sent a quick note back to Kimo thanking him for the help and made a note to contact Mack's captain about getting that warrant if need be.
Pushing away the sadness left by the needless loss of a young life, Jim called up another email and found it to be an apology for the long delay from the storeowners of the third shop where the Weelan T-shirts were sold. Attached was the last list of customers. He sent the list to be printed, then settled down to read the names. Hopefully this list held the key to solving one more piece of the increasingly complex puzzle.
At the same time across town, Mack jogged across a two-lane street towards a music store. He hopped onto the sidewalk, whistling as he did so. Stuffing both hands into his pants pockets, he casually strolled by the windows and glanced inside. At a music rack, his back to the windows, stood a somewhat pudgy-appearing, blond man. He held a Britney Spears CD, apparently reading the back of it very intently. From outward appearances, one would think Chester Potts was simply a father looking for the perfect gift for his daughter. Moments later, this assumption was strengthened as he struck up a shy conversation with two giggly girls, gesturing with the CD and apparently asking for advice.
Mack walked away from the windows and leaned against the corner of the building where he would have a good view of the door. Glancing across the street, he gave a subtle thumbs-up to Rafe and Brown who waited in Brown's car. Not wanting to cause a scene by arresting Potts in public and hoping to get 'invited' to his place to get a look around, he settled in patiently, nodding politely at those who passed by. A tall, leggy brunette sauntered past and smiled at him as she headed in the opposite direction. His eyes -- and body -- followed her a few feet before he shook his head and turned back to the entrance. Just in time, too, since Potts had just exited and was walking hurriedly down the sidewalk, a cellphone held up to his ear.
Pushing away from the wall, Mack slowly followed Potts, trusting that Rafe and Brown would keep up with him. Potts continued to talk on the cellphone as he walked quickly down the sidewalk, crossing the street, leaving Mack to catch up. Potts' voice rose and he gestured sharply with the other hand, making a few passers-by lean away from him. Judging from the tone of voice and the few words that floated back to him, Mack decided that his friend Chester was rather disturbed and maybe just a bit angry about something.
Potts clapped the phone shut as a light-colored compact car pulled up to the curb. He glanced around and Mack ducked behind the corner of a building to keep out of sight, knowing that Potts would recognize him instantly. A few moments later, he peered around cautiously around to see Potts leaning through the passenger side window of the compact car, talking to its driver. Mack looked for Rafe and Brown, and finally spotted their car at the crosswalk partially hidden behind a semi-truck that waited for an old lady to slowly cross the street on the arm of an even older man.
Shaking his head, Mack looked back at Potts. He leaned a little further out, trying to get the license plate for the car, but it was conveniently hidden by a mail drop-box placed on the sidewalk. Even more frustrating a lightpole and the glare of the mid-afternoon sun hitting the windshield completely concealed the driver's face.
A loud honk startled him and he looked back to see the semi revving its engine impatiently at the older couple still crossing the street. He could almost swear they slowed down just to aggravate the truck. Then a squeal of tires and brakes grabbed his attention and he swung around just in time to watch the compact doing a quick U-turn in the middle of the street and taking off in the opposite direction. Potts was back to striding down the sidewalk at his original hurried pace.
Muttering, Mack once again took up the pursuit, grinning as the semi roared past and he caught sight of Brown and Rafe following him.
After releasing the phone receiver, Blair calmly raised his hands. Megan did so as well, unhappily letting the thug remove her gun from her side holster and glaring when he handed back her purse after a quick but thorough search. Not moving her eyes from the two unwelcome visitors, she said softly, "Was this the name you had in mind, Sandy?"
"No, it wasn't. But," he sighed, "unfortunately it fits what I know so far." He took a cautious step forward to stand next to Megan. "Welcome to Rainier, Agent Shaw. If you were that anxious for a campus tour, you could've just asked, you know. I would've been more than happy to show you around."
Nathan Shaw moved further into the room, a polite, though not terribly nice, smile on his face. He also held a gun, albeit a smaller one than the mute thug. "Yes, I've sure you would been. Especially the fountain, hmm?"
To his credit, Blair didn't even twitch, though Megan did. Shaw continued, gesturing with one hand. "Oh, I know all about the 'fountain', Inspector, as well as a few other gems in your police observer's past." He shook his head and waved those 'gems' away. "However, none of that matters now because we are leaving. Both of you -- grab a few books. I want your hands occupied."
Blair handed Megan two small textbooks from the stack on a nearby shelf, then he picked up a stack of three spiral notebooks on his desk -- the top one of which was his dream notebook. The guns disappeared and the four of them moved to the doorway. Most classes were still in session and therefore the hallways were pretty much empty. As they cleared the doorway and the thug paused to pull the door shut, Blair heard a distinctive tapping coming towards them down the hall.
A covert glance at Megan showed that she'd heard the sound as well, but didn't know what it meant. Realizing that if they didn't somehow get word to Jim about Shaw, he and Megan would probably be the next victims found dumped in an alleyway. Blair made up a quick and rather foolhardy plan and hoped he didn't get himself and Amalia killed in the process.
Jim's cellphone rang from the depths of his coat pocket as he neared the halfway point on the first of the two-page list of names. He dropped the papers on the desk and turned to grab the cellphone. Flipping it open, he rubbed his free hand over tired eyes and answered shortly, "Ellison."
"Jim, it's Rafe."
"Rafe, tell me you're having some luck on finding Potts."
"That we are."
Jim straightened and dropped his hand on the desk. "You are? Where are you?" He shoved the name list aside and grabbed a pencil and paper as Rafe rattled off the address. "What's going on?"
"Potts just entered an apartment building and Mack followed him inside. H and I wanted to touch base with you first before we headed in as well."
"Good, good." He pulled up Kimo's email. "When you get up there with Mack, ask our friend Mr. Potts about Annalisa. That's the girl in the photo with him -- the homeless girl we found OD'd on the drug. It'd be nice to know her last name."
"You got it," Rafe replied grimly. There was a moment's pause as he relayed the information to Brown before he returned his attention to Jim. "Anything else we need to know?"
"No. That's it for now. Find out what you can from Potts and get back to the station."
"You got it." Rafe clicked off and Jim set his phone aside on the desk before returning to the list of names. He wondered vaguely why everyone else seemed to be actually doing something while he was stuck inside the station reading email and fielding phone calls. With a sigh and a shake of his head, he concentrated on the list again.
Blair tensed for a moment when Amalia, books in one arm, cane in the other hand, came into view. Shaw stiffened at the young woman's appearance, but then smiled just a bit smugly when he realized she was blind. Looking away, Blair hid a tiny grin of satisfaction and relief that Shaw had tucked Amalia into the non-threatening category. As they neared each other in the hallway, Blair saw Amalia's head tilt just a bit, reminiscent of Jim's maneuver as she judged how many were in the group approaching her, and how close they were.
Just as they drew even, Blair stumbled deliberately into Megan, knocking her off-balance and sending her careening into Amalia. All three of them went down in a tumble of limbs; textbooks and notebooks flew everywhere. Blair immediately began to apologize as he untangled himself from Megan and Amalia.
"Oh, Amalia, Megan, I'm so sorry. I'm such a klutz. Let me help you up."
Amalia laughed and shook her head, accepting the help of both Blair and Megan to rise back to her feet. "You reading and walking again, Blair?"
Blair forced an unhurried chuckle as he felt the impatient gaze of Shaw resting on his back. "You know me, never enough time in the day."
Megan retrieved Amalia's cane and pressed it into her hand. "Here you go."
Amalia inclined her head. "Thank you...Megan, I believe Blair said?"
Crouched on the floor to gather their books, Blair paused and smacked himself on the forehead. "I'm sorry. Amalia, this is Megan Conner. Megan, this is Amalia Zavala."
"You have a lovely accent, Megan. Australian?" Amalia asked.
Throwing a quick glance behind her at Shaw, Megan answered quickly. "Yes. And thank you."
Hearing a quiet throat clearing from Shaw, Blair stood up and distributed the books, speaking rapidly. "Megan works with Jim and me at the station." Carefully laying her books in her arm, he added his dream notebook to the top of the pile, playing on the assumption that neither Shaw nor the thug would notice. "I hate to crash and run, but Megan and I have an appointment."
"Catching bad guys again?" Amalia smiled impishly at them.
Megan replied, "Uh, yes, that would be it. It was nice to meet you, Amalia."
Blair leaned in and gave Amalia a quick one-armed hug, taking only a moment to breathe a nearly unheard word in her ear, then pull away. "Talk to you later, Amalia."
They rejoined Shaw and the thug and disappeared down the hallway, heading towards the building doors. Behind them, Blair heard the cane begin its tapping again, hesitant at first, but slowly regaining normal momentum as she continued on her way. As they exited the building into the mid-afternoon sunlight, Blair could only hope and pray that his message for help was clear.
Continued in Part Seven...