Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- OWW crossovers

Dash of Conspiracy, Enemies on All Sides
Part Seven
A Sentinel/One West Waikiki crossover
by Becky
March 2000

Mack waited until Potts entered his first floor apartment and was preparing to close the door before making his move. He strode down the hallway at a brisk pace and shoved his foot inside just as the door was closing. Then he pushed it back open with a loud bang and leaned against the jamb, arms crossed nonchalantly over his chest. Potts whirled to face the door again and promptly scowled.

"Wolfe! What do you want?"

"Chester! Brah! Is that any way to greet an old friend?" Mack pushed away from the jamb and ambled into the room, eyes quickly mapping it out as he approached Potts. "I just stopped by for a chat. You're a very hard man to find, you know."

Potts snorted. "The last time you wanted to chat, I seem to remember you ending up in the ER to have your jaw wired shut. But if you want to do it again..." He advanced, hands flexing. He stopped short when Rafe and Brown appeared in the doorway, each holding a gun at their sides, badges affixed openly to the belts.

Mack grinned. "No, I think I'll pass. Like I said, I just want to have a little chat. We can do this here or we can go to the station where there's this man named Ellison. Now I can be a nice guy, Chester. Ellison, on the other hand..." He trailed off and shuddered. "Well, let's just say he's not as pleasant to be around as I am. So what's it gonna be?"

Potts glared at him, then at Rafe and Brown. "You gonna arrest me?"

Brown answered calmly. "I don't know. You done anything that's worth arresting you for?"

The big man shifted his glare back to Mack, then leaned against a table, meaty arms folded over his torso. "What do you want, Wolfe?"

Mirroring his stance against the opposite wall, Mack ignored the presence of the two Cascade cops. "Well, first off, I'd like to know what you and Eagen are involved in that got him killed last night." When Potts didn't flinch at the mention of Eagen's demise, Mack raised an eyebrow. "You knew about Eagen, didn't you?"

"Eagen was a fool." He spat on the floor. "Fell in love with alcohol and didn't know when to stop. Made him sloppy. He missed his target. He paid the price. Those are the rules."

"What about Annalisa?" Rafe spoke up quietly. "Did she get sloppy too? Or was she just expendable?"

Mack glanced at them briefly. "The girl in the photo?"

Brown nodded. "Yep. Your friend Kimo just sent Ellison an email and it looks like that could be her name."

Rafe stepped further into the room, absently lifting his gun. "So what'd she do wrong, hmm?"

Potts straightened and shook his head. "No way, man, you are not pinning a murder rap on me. I ain't killed nobody, especially not Annalisa. Tell 'em, Wolfe. I don't kill. That was Eagen's thing, not mine."

Mack stayed Rafe's arm. "He's telling the truth about that one. He likes to hurt people, namely, nosey homicide detectives, but he's never killed anyone. Yet."

Brown joined them. "That still doesn't explain one very dead girl lying in the morgue." He leaned closer to Potts. "So start talking."

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

Jim had finally reached the middle of the second page of the list of names when his cellphone rang one more time. Sighing, he picked up the phone and flipped it open.

"Ellison."

"Patching through a call to your phone, Detective." There was a momentary lull, then a click. Jim cleared his throat and spoke again, half his attention on the name list.

"This is Detective Ellison."

"Jim? It's Amalia Zavala." Her voice sounded uncertain and a bit concerned.

Frowning, Jim straightened in his chair, the name list forgotten in his hand. "Amalia? What's wrong?"

"I'm not...I'm not sure. Blair bumped into me, literally, in the hallway a few minutes ago. He was with a Megan Conner, someone he said worked with you?"

"Yes, she does." He glanced at his watch, noting it was only just past three. The lecture was two hours long; what were they doing in the hallway?

Amalia continued with her story. "Anyway, after we got ourselves sorted out, Blair hugged me and whispered your name in my ear. Then they left. There were a couple other people with them, I think, but Blair never mentioned anyone else. He sounded...nervous. Scared, maybe."

Clenching his teeth down on the swear words he wanted to say, Jim stood and folded the list to stuff into his back pocket. He kept talking on the phone as he strode to Simon's office. "Amalia, where are you now?"

"I'm in my mother's office, using her phone. Room 317 of Hargrove. It's only temporary since her office is being painted, but..."

Jim entered Simon's office without knocking, apologizing with a brief gesture to the phone. Fortunately, Daryl had left several hours ago. "Okay. I want you to stay there. Lock the door. I'll be there just as soon as I can."

"Okay. Jim? Is Blair gonna be all right?"

The detective hesitated, then said, "I'll find him, Amalia, don't worry. You just sit tight and wait for me." They exchanged brief goodbyes, then Jim clapped the phone shut and explained in terse words even as Simon was standing and checking his gun.

"Someone abducted Sandburg and Conner from the University."

Simon edged around his desk and they headed out, striding through the bullpen. "We got a witness?"

"Sort of." They stopped at the elevator and Jim punched the down button. "A fellow student and a friend of Blair's bumped into them as they were leaving. Blair managed to tell her to call me. Just one thing -- she's blind."

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

"Jim is going to kill me," Megan sighed resignedly. "Well, he will if Shaw doesn't do it first."

Blair stopped fidgeting in his chair and trying to loosen the rope that held his arms behind his back and attached to the chair to glance over at Megan similarly tied and seated several feet away from him against the same wall. "Why? Because Shaw's the man behind all this and got us before we got him? Jim can't blame you for that."

Megan shook her head and said quietly, "No. Because it's me here instead of him. He never likes being on the outside without all the pieces. He gets a little...tense."

Snorting in amusement, Blair squirmed against the too tight ropes one last time, then gave up. "Tense. That's diplomatic of you, Megan. Tense doesn't even begin to cover it." He looked around the mostly empty lab where they'd been left tied to heavy metal chairs. "So what are we gonna do? We can't just sit here."

Megan pursed her lips in thought. "I don't know."

Across the large room, Shaw stood with two other men who appeared to be lab technicians. Cory the Thug stood at the doorway, glaring at Blair and Megan, arms crossed menacingly over his chest, gun held loosely in one hand. Most of the lab equipment was gone, leaving bare counters and a few cast-off items scattered here and there. Obviously Shaw felt the authorities were closing in and had decided it was time to move to a new location. After dealing with a few loose ends -- namely, Blair and Megan.

"What was the name you had in mind, if it wasn't Shaw?"

Blair shook off the gloomy thoughts and looked at Megan. "What? Oh, the name." He shifted once in the uncomfortable chair. "I guess there's no harm in announcing it now, is there? If I'm right, I'm right. If I'm wrong, who's gonna know?" He raised his voice just a little on the last phrase but failed to evoke any response from Shaw across the room. With a scowl and a mutter, Blair returned his attention to Megan.

"Yesterday, I told Jim there was something I was trying to remember. Since I didn't want to force it, I just let it simmer for awhile. It wasn't until during the lecture, when I'd figured out the crucial parts of Jim's dreams, that I finally realized what detail I'd been chasing. Remember the man on the beach? I only saw him for a split second, but subconsciously, I think I recognized him."

Megan's eyes widened. "The man with the metal detector?" She leaned closer. "Who was he?"

"I think--" He closed his eyes as he whispered, "I think it was Jake Morgan."

"What?!" Megan hissed. "Morgan?! Dan's number one assistant? Sandy, you must be mistaken."

"Remember the T-shirt? Morgan has one of them. I've seen him with it."

"You have one too, Sandy. Having a loud shirt isn't a crime."

Blair persisted. "He also wears an earring when he's off-duty; I've seen it as well. I remember commenting on it because it was so unique." He licked his lips. "It's a tiny coiled snake just getting ready to strike. I thought it was a pretty strange earring for someone to wear, even if it was only during off-duty hours."

Megan shook her head. "No. You must be wrong. If it was Morgan, why didn't you recognize him?"

"Because I don't see him that often. I've only talked to him two or three times in the past six months! The ME's office isn't somewhere that I'm in the habit of visiting. When I do go, Dan is usually there or I'm too busy trying not to be sick."

"That still doesn't add up. An earring and a T-shirt don't lead anywhere."

"One more thing. You know where I saw him when he was wearing both the shirt and the earring?" He paused for effect, then finished. "The Fifth Street BeachWear shop a month or so before the bust. I'd stopped by to pick up some surfboard wax for Jim since his regular shop was out of his brand. I only saw Morgan for a minute or so, but now that I think about it, he seemed really anxious for me to leave. At the time, I just put it down to nervousness at someone from the station seeing him 'out of uniform' as it were. But now..." He shook his head. "I don't know. Too many little things are beginning to say otherwise."

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

Jake Morgan used one shoulder to push open the door to Cassie's forensics lab, then peeked inside. Only Cassie and Holli were there. Holli was seated on a high stool in front of a table writing notes. A microscope and other investigative equipment decorated the area around her. Cassie sat in front of her computer idly pecking at keys, eyes intent on whatever was displayed on the screen. Neither seemed to notice his arrival. He glanced lazily behind him and found the hallway empty.

Hiding a satisfied smile from the surveillance cameras, he entered the lab, cleared his throat, and announced his presence. "Afternoon, ladies. I thought you might like some coffee service." In each hand, he held a tall cup of coffee from the shop down the street.

Holli glanced up and smiled. "Coffee would be great. Thank you." She laid down her pen and turned to accept the cup. Morgan then stepped over to Cassie and handed her the second cup.

"Thanks, Morgan." Cassie took a sip. "Perfect as always."

Morgan shrugged. "One of my many talents." He settled on one edge of Cassie's desk and looked back and forth between the two women. "Any luck on the drug yet?"

Holli nodded and swallowed hastily. "Actually, yes. I asked my assistant in Hawaii to email me an old lab report for confirmation, but I think we've got a possible variant of the same drug that Mack had been tracking a couple years ago in Waikiki. I think we're dealing with the same folks." She took another long swallow, then set the cup aside and turned back to her work station. "I examined samples of the drug from some of the bodies as well, and came up with a few interesting conclusions."

Morgan's eyebrows shot up. "You did?" He took a breath and forced the slight panic welling up in his chest to go back down. Taking a quick look at the clock on the wall, he knew he only needed thirty seconds or so. He revised that estimate when Cassie set down her already half-empty cup. Maybe less.

Holli nodded in response to his question. "Yes, I did. It seems that--"

His pager went off according to a pre-arranged timer and he pulled it from his belt to read the display. "Oh, rats. Another customer. I have to go." He pushed away from the desk and strolled to the door. "Let me set this guy up and I'll be back to hear your findings, Dr. Holliday."

Lifting her coffee to take another swallow, Holli gestured with the other hand. "I'll only be here for another hour or so, but if we miss each other, just call me at my hotel. Detective Ellison has my number."

Morgan tapped two fingers to his head, then exited. Shoving the pager into his pocket, his fingers touched on another small device inside. Just as he passed through the doorway, he pushed the sole button, sending out a signal that would disrupt the cameras both in the lab and several lengths down the hallway, leaving them with only fuzzy static for 60 seconds. Enough to be cause concern, but not enough to create a panic. Which left him an ample window with which to do what he needed.

He waited just outside the door, away from the window, listening and counting. Fifteen seconds later, he heard a quiet thump and re-entered the room to find Cassie slumped onto her computer desk, her empty coffee cup dangling from one hand. Holli was just beginning to list sideways off the stool. Morgan strode across the room quickly and grabbed her, lowering her to the floor. The odorless, tasteless, and traceless drug would only knock them out -- he didn't want either of them dead.

Leaving the women to their drug-induced slumber, Morgan quickly and methodically went through Holli's data and the samples. Grimacing at how much information she'd been able to gather, and what she'd nearly figured out from the dead girl's drug sample, Morgan decided to just take everything. Being careful not to leave any prints, he swept the samples and Holli's notes into a large evidence bag. He also checked Cassie's quietly humming computer, but she was working on the O'Connell disappearance and not the drug case. Patting her head, he whispered, "Sorry, Cass, wrong place, wrong time." With five seconds to spare, he left the room, closing the door behind him.

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

Jim muttered the room numbers of the offices as he and Simon strode rapidly down the hallway. They stopped before Room 317, and Jim knocked on the closed door. "Amalia? It's Jim Ellison. Are you there?"

A quiet female voice answered. "Jim?"

He nodded once to Simon's questioning look, then reassured Amalia of his identity. "Yeah, it's me. You can unlock the door now."

A few moments later, they heard the simple lock on the knob release, then the door slowly swung inward. Amalia stood before them, one hand gripping the knob, the other clenched tightly around her folded walking cane.

Jim cautiously laid a hand on her shoulder as he stepped inside the office. "It's okay, Amalia. It's okay."

She nodded and took a deep breath, forcing her hand to release the knob. "I got scared after you hung up. I started thinking about what might happen to Blair, and wondering I'd do if whoever took him came back."

The detective enfolded Amalia in his arms, hugging her warmly. "Shh, shh, it's okay. Nothing's gonna happen to Blair or to you. I said I'll find him. And I keep my promises."

Simon edged into the room, pushing the door partially closed behind him. Amalia stiffened and turned her head towards the sound. "Who else is here?"

Hastily, Jim introduced Simon. "Oh, I'm sorry. Simon, this is Amalia Zavala. Amalia, this is Captain Simon Banks. He's a good friend."

Amalia tilted her head up at Jim, then back down. "Of Blair's too?"

Simon answered that one, reaching out a hand to lay it on hers where she held her cane. "Of Blair's too."

She smiled at him, then released Jim to cover Simon's hand briefly. "You have kind hands, Captain Banks. You must be a good man."

Jim smiled at Simon's embarrassed shifting and patted Amalia on the shoulder. "That he is." He directed her to a chair where she sat down. "Now, can you tell us what happened?"

Amalia took a breath, then quickly told Jim and Simon of the incident in the hallway. "...then he hugged me, said your name, and went off with Megan and the other people."

From his position in a second chair, Simon asked, "Is there anything you can tell us about the other people? Sounds? Smells? I know that seems like a strange question..."

She chuckled and shook her head. "It's not as strange as you might think, Captain. A few weeks after Blair and I first met, he asked me the same thing. Then he explained his interest in heightened senses."

Jim and Simon exchanged quick looks, then Jim shifted on the edge of the desk. "And did he find anything to suggest that you did have heightened senses?"

"No, he didn't. I mean, I have very good hearing, but that's more because I've trained myself to hear well." She shrugged and turned her head more towards Jim. "Actually, he also told me that he had a friend who was temporarily blinded a couple years ago, and he wanted to be prepared in case it ever happened again. So I let him pick my brain in exchange for a few home-cooked meals and help with a class or two."

Another quick look was exchanged between the two cops before Simon cleared his throat and brought them back on topic. "So about the people with Blair and Megan..."

Amalia nodded. "Yes, them. Well, I think they were men. Their shoes and the way they walked just sounded like men. And one of them was wearing a very masculine cologne. Not much of it, but enough to tell. There were probably only two of them unless someone else was floating. The hallway was empty except for us."

"Excuse me, but what is going on here?" A woman's voice rang into the room, startling Simon to his feet and Jim from his perch on the edge of the desk.

Amalia turned quickly, one hand stretching towards the door. "Mom! It's okay. They're friends."

Dr. Zavala scowled at Jim and Simon as she entered and went to her daughter's side, resting her hand on her shoulder. "A student told me he saw two men going into my office, and that you in here as well." She returned her gaze to the Jim, then relaxed a little. "Oh. I recognize you now. You're Blair's friend, Detective..."

"Ellison. Jim Ellison." Jim inclined his head. "Yes, ma'am. I think Blair introduced us once." He gestured to Simon. "This is my captain, Simon Banks. We were just talking to your daughter about Blair."

"About Blair? What about Blair?" Her eyes widened, then narrowed. "What's wrong?"

Amalia answered before either man could. "Someone kidnapped him and his friend Megan. I was there when it happened. Blair told me to call Jim...well, he sort of did. He said Jim's name in my ear. He sounded a little scared."

"Kidnapped!" Dr. Zavala exclaimed. "What do you mean?"

Jim hurried to explain. "We've been investigating a rather volatile case lately, and we think two men abducted Blair and Inspector Megan Conner from the building. They just happened to bump into Amalia as they were leaving."

"Blair and his friend both fell into me," Amalia broke in. "Books went everywhere since I think they were carrying them too." She gestured towards her stack of books and notebooks on the desk next to Jim. "You know Blair isn't that klutzy, Mom."

Jim's attention was drawn to the stack of books. He frowned as he saw the familiar-looking red spiral notebook on top. Picking it up, he flipped through the first few pages filled with Blair's distinctive handwriting. After scanning one page, he realized it was the notebook his partner was using for the dream lecture series, notes as well as for his notes on Jim's dreams.

Simon spoke up quietly. "What is it, Jim?"

"This notebook, sir, it's Sandburg's." He flipped to the second section, then back again. "He's been using it to take notes during the lecture series and for his, uh, personal research. Somehow it got mixed up with Amalia's stuff." He pursed his lips and looked up at Dr. Zavala. "Dr. Zavala, Blair told me you're coordinating the dream lecture series. Did you see him at this afternoon's lecture?"

"Yes. He was there for the first half, but he left early."

"Do you know why?" Simon asked.

Dr. Zavala shook her head slowly. "Not really. He seemed rather agitated, or maybe I should say, excited, about something. Dr. Malloy was talking about dream images and suddenly Blair started talking about knowing what some dreams meant. He stood and only then realized he was causing a disturbance." She paused to chuckle. "Poor man. You'd think he'd never done that before -- Blair getting excited in a class is something most of us are quite accustomed to. Anyway, Dr. Malloy was less than pleased. Blair apologized, explained that actually Dr. Malloy had helped him figure out a few things, then quickly left. His friend, this Megan Conner I'm assuming, followed him."

Jim skimmed through more pages. He stopped suddenly and brought the notebook closer, squinting at the words, mumbling them under his breath as he read. Then he lowered the book and stared at Simon. "Sandburg figured out who it is, Simon."

Simon frowned. "Who who is?"

"I'm not sure yet, but look." He held out the book and pointed to a line of text that ended abruptly into a smudge of pencil lead.

That has to be it. It can't be anything else. Jim's dreams are warning us. It has to be inside. And I think I know who--

Simon stared at the notebook, then looked at Jim. He opened his mouth to say something, but seemed to abruptly remember the presence of the ladies and snapped it shut again. "All right. Let's take a look at Sandburg's office, then get back to the station. We need to get rolling on this fast." He turned to Dr. Zavala and Amalia. "Ladies, nice to meet you both." Then he stalked out of the office, already opening his cellphone.

Jim shook Dr. Zavala's hand and touched Amalia's shoulder warmly. "Thanks for the help, Amalia. We'll find Blair."

She smiled up at him. "I know you will. When we were walking around campus one day, and you were supposed to meet up with him, Blair said not to worry because you could find him no matter where he was. Not two minutes later, you showed up. I don't know if it's friendship, because you're a detective, or something else, but whatever it is, I know you'll do your best."

He squeezed her shoulder, smiled once more at Dr. Zavala, then hurried out. With Blair's notebook in hand, he joined Simon as the captain strode down the hallway.

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

Megan and Blair looked at the door, then at each other, then back to the door again when they heard rapid footsteps echoing in the outside hallway. Both doubted it could be Jim, but they knew something was about to happen.

Cory stepped aside as Jake Morgan, carrying a small duffel bag, entered the laboratory. Morgan froze in his tracks when he saw them, eyes widening. Blair heard Megan inhale sharply, then release the breath in a rush. He glanced at her and she muttered for only his ears, "He's not worth it."

Blair's attention was drawn back to Morgan who was rushing across the lab to the other side where Shaw consulted with the two techs. Morgan dumped the duffel on the nearest counter and roughly grabbed Shaw's arm, gesturing widely with the other hand. "What are they doing here?!" he hissed, anger in every loud word

Shaw pulled away from Morgan's grip, then glanced in Blair's direction. A rather unpleasant smile appeared when he caught the younger man watching them. His eyes remained coolly on Blair's as he answered Morgan. "Your Mr. Sandburg had figured most everything out. He knew you were involved." Shaw deliberately kept the conversation volume at an easily audible level.

"What?!" Morgan shifted to look at Blair, then back at Shaw. "There's no way he could know. We barely even see each other."

The fed narrowed his eyes just a bit. "You told me he saw you at the beach that day. You also told me that you would take care of things. Instead, you hired someone else to do your job for you. And he failed."

Blair sat up straighter. "It was you." He made a face. "Not that I'm glad about that. How could you do this? There were kids"

Morgan just looked at him dispassionately, then returned his gaze to Shaw. "I didn't expect you to bring them here. What are you planning to do?"

Shaw smiled again and patted his coat pocket. "In due time. Did you get everything?" He pulled the duffel bag over and began to unzip it.

"Yes. Everything. All the samples, Holliday's notes, everything. She and Welles never knew what hit them."

Blair jerked forward in his chair while Megan's eyes blazed darkly. Cory took a step closer and leveled his gun at them.

Shaw shook a finger. "Ah-ah-ah. Come, Morgan. We have a few more things to wrap up before I send Cory to take care of Mr. Potts, who, I understand, has been chatting with a few of Cascade's finest and one very persistent HPD homicide cop named Mack Wolfe."

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

Jim and Simon's visit to the University was cut short as soon as they heard of the incident in Cassie's lab. They stayed just long enough for Jim to pick up the vaguest hint of an unfamiliar cologne in Blair's office, then hurried back to the PD building where they met up with Mack, Rafe, and Brown just returning from their talk with Chester Potts. All five men piled into the elevator while exchanging information.

Blair and Megan's mysterious disappearance didn't go over well at all. Blair's conclusion that there was someone working on the inside was even less welcome, especially since it appeared that this knowledge got the two of them kidnapped. And the news that Holli and Cassie had been knocked unconscious in the middle of the PD while their drug samples, reports, and notes were stolen, scraped raw on them all. The chat with Potts yielded some information, but not enough to balance out the rest.

Setting his concern for Holli and worry over Megan and Blair aside, Mack pulled a tiny, weathered, bent photo from his pocket. "Good ol' Chester did give us this, however." He handed the picture to Jim. "That's something Annalisa always carried -- a photo of her and her parents when she was very little."

Jim held the picture up to the light. The mother's and daughter's faces were easy to see, but the father's face had a crease down the middle from the bend and looked partially scraped off, leaving a mostly white scratchy spot. He turned it over but the back was blank. Handing it to Simon, he asked, "Did he say what her last name was?"

Rafe shook his head regretfully. "No, he said he didn't know. We asked about the rumor that she was his boss's daughter and he agreed to that, but he didn't know his boss's full name."

Simon frowned. "Well, what name does he know?"

Brown answered that one. "The same name Mack said he heard from Pratt -- Ennis."

Mack nodded. "And Potts has never seen Ennis; he's only dealt with a go-between. I don't think anyone's ever seen this guy."

The doors opened onto the sixth floor, spilling them out as Jim moved his hands in frustration. "It's like we're missing just a few vital links that would hook the whole thing together." He shook his head in annoyance.

Simon gave the photo to Rafe. "Take this to Sam. See if she can determine anything more before we start circulating it for an ID of the parents. Brown, where's Potts now?"

The detective answered quickly. "I had a couple of uniforms bring him in. He should be here anytime."

"Good." Simon nodded, then added. "Meanwhile, get down to security. Check out the tapes of the hallway and Welles' lab. I want to know who was in there and what happened." Simon waited a fraction of a second and when neither detective moved he added a forceful, "Go!"

Brown and Rafe hurried off to their tasks as Simon, Jim, and Mack headed in the opposite direction to Cassie's lab. Inside, they found Serena and another lab technician tending to the still woozy women.

Mack immediately gravitated to Holli where she sat on a low chair against the wall. He gently took over from the technician and crouched beside Holli, one hand on her knee. "You okay, Doc?"

Eyes closed, she rubbed a hand over her forehead. "Yeah. I think so. A little dizzy, but okay."

Leaving his hand where it was, Mack glanced up to see Simon talking to Serena while Jim solicitously checked on Cassie.

"Did you see anything, Serena?" Simon asked, waving a hand around.

The woman shook her head. "No. I went downstairs to pick up a package." She gestured towards a flat, padded envelope on the opposite counter. "Everything was fine when I left. I got hung up signing for the package since the guy wanted Dan's signature and I couldn't find Morgan to sign for him. When I got back up here fifteen minutes later, Cassie and Dr. Holliday were both unconscious and everything Dr. Holliday had been working on was gone."

Still seated at her desk, Cassie opened her eyes and squinted at Serena. "You couldn't find Morgan? But he was here. He brought us coffee." She gestured to the take-out coffee cup on the counter.

Jim picked up the empty cup and tentatively sniffed it, ignoring the odd looks sent his way. "Just coffee, I think." Setting the cup aside, he laid a hand on Cassie's shoulder. "What do you remember?"

She rubbed her forehead, echoing Holli's earlier movement. "Uh, we were both working. Morgan came in with coffee. We talked a little, then he left. Next thing I knew Serena was trying to wake me up."

Holli joined them at the desk, followed closely by Mack who kept a supportive hand on her back. Simon turned to her. "Were you able to find anything out, Dr. Holliday?"

"Yes, I was. And fortunately, the important stuff is still up here, even if it is a bit fuzzy-feeling at the moment." She carefully tapped a finger on her temple. "I hadn't documented this in writing yet, but I'd been examining the drug residue from the homeless girl's effects. I know you've been working on the assumption that the drug was still being tested. However, whoever mixed the drug for this girl meant for it to kill. Her death was no accidental OD -- it was deliberate murder."

Cassie's desk phone rang in the shocked silence that followed and both women winced, turning away from the jangling noise. Simon hurriedly snatched up the receiver.

"Banks."

After a moment's pause, Dan Wolfe's voice replied, "Captain Banks? I wasn't expecting you to answer."

"Hey, Dan. Yeah, we've had a little problem in the lab and I happened to be here. What can I do for you?"

Jim chuckled softly in spite of the serious situation. "Dan not getting good enough updates from Morgan?"

Before Simon could say anything to Dan, the ME shot back across the line: "You tell Jim I heard that. I haven't gotten an update today, so maybe I should ask him to fill me in."

Simon frowned and looked at Jim who frowned back, having heard Dan's words. Jim stepped over to the counter and picked up another phone, joining in their conversation. "Dan? It's Jim. Morgan told me earlier today that you called for an update and that he went to your house to give it to you personally."

"I haven't see him. And I certainly haven't talked to him today."

Niggling suspicions began to grow and Jim didn't like them one bit. He and Simon stared at each other, reading the same suspicions in each other's faces.

Dan spoke up again. "Anyway, did a package happen to arrive? I sent in a fingerprint I found on the homeless girl just before I busted my leg and found myself on forced leave. I've been waiting to see if it matched anything in the feds' database."

"A print? Where did you find a print?" Jim's hands froze as he instinctively picked up the padded package next to the phone. The return address was for a federal government agency.

"On the empty drug packet."

"On the what?!" Everyone jumped at Simon's near yell.

Dan repeated himself slowly, adding more explanation. "The empty drug packet that was in the girl's coat pocket. I found it when I went through her coat before sending it up to Welles. I, uh, took a few liberties and printed it, then sent the print to the feds." He paused, then added with a restrained sigh. "The packet was listed in my report."

Tucking the receiver between his ear and his shoulder, Jim ripped open the envelope. "Dan, it wasn't listed. I've read the report dozens of times. And Welles doesn't have the packet." He yanked out the papers inside and scanned them quickly. "Ah, hell. Dan, are you sure no one touched anything before you found that print?"

"Positive."

A low growl rumbling in his throat, Jim handed the papers to an impatiently waiting Simon. Then he shifted to pull the list of names from the third T-shirt store from his back pocket. Ignoring the bit-off swear words from the captain, he quickly turned to the second page and finished reading the list in a rush.

Near the bottom of the list was a name that matched the one in the feds' report.

Jake P. Morgan, M.D.

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

Shaw held Morgan back as they and the two lab technicians exited the freight elevator on the garage level of the building. After the technicians had joined the other hired help near the small group of vehicles waiting to be loaded, Shaw turned to Morgan. "Help them finish loading and make sure everyone knows the route we'll be taking. We need to make the deliveries that are ready on the way."

Morgan nodded in understanding. "Can I ask what prompted this sudden decision to move now?"

"I don't like to take chances. In my judgment, based on the information Ellison has, plus Sandburg's intuition and Wolfe's sudden involvement, it's too risky to continue using Cascade as a base of operations. Time to move on."

His cellphone rang and Shaw quickly pulled it from his coat pocket. "Yes. I see. No, he'll be dealt with later. Meet us at the rendezvous point." He closed the phone and pocketed it. "Potts has been taken into custody and is at the PD, probably spilling everything he knows to Ellison."

Morgan's eyes widened. "What does he know?"

"Not enough to do any damage."

"But he knows me! I just talked to him! He can ID me!" Morgan began to panic.

Shaw just looked at him, contempt coloring his features at Morgan's alarmed reaction. "Then perhaps it's time you took an extended vacation." He stepped back into the elevator and pushed the 'up' button. As the doors closed, he said, "I need to deal with our guests and the lab. Be ready to leave upon my return."

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

Jim again found himself in Simon's office, staring out the window that overlooked the streets below. This time, however, he didn't have the comfort of knowing that his partner was just a room away, ready to join him at a moment's notice. Behind him, the office door opened and he heard Simon's familiar step before the door closed again. Jim turned to face the captain, knowing exactly what he would ask.

Instead of sitting at his desk, Simon sat on the corner of the long table. "You okay, Jim?"

Taking a breath, Jim nodded. "Yeah. Yeah, I'm okay. I just feel a little useless. No leads, no calls, no nothing. I've read through his notes on the dreams," he waved at the notebook lying forlorn on the table, "but I don't understand a lot of it. And I don't have a clue where to start looking for him. I know he expects--"

Simon broke in gently. "Blair expects you to do what you can. Nothing more."

Jim rubbed his forehead. "I know."

Both men were silent a moment, then Simon cleared his throat. "So what have we got?"

Forcing his mind back onto the case which had developed several new branches, Jim began summarizing the newest additions. "We got temporary confirmation from Potts that Morgan is the go-between. Brown pulled some pictures and created a line-up of ten photos. Potts picked out Morgan immediately. Also, he said Morgan met with him today and told him about Eagen. From the timing, it sounds like that was the meeting Mack witnessed when he'd followed Potts and spotted him talking to someone in a light-colored compact. I checked -- Morgan drives a light blue Camry."

Simon muttered, "Damn."

"My thoughts exactly. Dan is even less thrilled. He's already here, going through the case files, comparing the reports we have to what he remembers."

"Thank goodness for Dan's excellent memory," Simon breathed out in relief.

"Amen to that." Jim leaned back against the wall next to the window and crossed his arms. "Mack took Holli back to their hotel -- he's planning to come back just as soon as she's settled -- and Rafe dropped Cassie off at her apartment. Both seem to be okay, though a little sluggish and with a bit of a headache. Serena is checking out the coffee left in Holli's cup just in case."

"What about the security tapes?"

Jim shook his head. "Blank. Something interrupted the signal for the lab's camera signal and the one just outside the door for 60 seconds. The alarm went out when the signals came back on-line and Security could see the lab again. On the tapes, Morgan is seen leaving the lab just before it fuzzes out, so no one considered that he could be responsible."

"And by then, he was halfway out of the building." Simon made a face.

Another nod as Jim continued. "If it hadn't been for Dan and that fingerprint report that evidently Morgan hadn't known about, he might've gotten away with it."

"He still might if we don't find him. Fast."

There was a knock on the door and Simon slid off the table as he called, "Enter."

Sam opened the door and stepped inside, holding out the photo. "I used every trick I know and even sent a scanned version to Wolfe's friend in Hawaii. There's nothing either of us can do to reconstruct that image." She sighed. "I'm sorry."

Simon nodded in understanding as he took the picture. "That's okay. Thanks for trying."

She added, "I did notice that there's a bit of residual ink on the back, but I can't tell you what it used to say. Much too faded." Turning, she left the office, pulling the door closed behind her.

Jim shoved away from the wall. "Simon, let me see that." Carefully turning over the picture, he squinted, holding it to the light. Simon watched in silence, a tiny line of curiosity and concern creasing his forehead. After some intense staring, Jim ran a finger gently over the back of the photo, slowly increasing the pressure. His jaw tightened and the line on Simon's forehead deepened. Jim finally spoke up, shaking his head a few times as if to clear it. "I feel an 'H' and an 'A'. There's more, but I can't make it out. Too far gone." He handed the photo back to Simon.

Simon barked a short laugh as he stretched over to place the photo on his desk. "Jim, I don't think I will ever get used to what you can do with those senses of yours."

The sentinel only smiled and shrugged. "I don't think I will ever get used to what they do. And I know Sandburg won't -- but then he likes living in a constant state of surprise."

Before they had time to turn their thoughts back to Blair and Megan's absence, the door to the office flew open and Kate Malinson stalked in, followed closely by a protesting Rhonda.

"Agent Malinson...please. Captain, my apologies. She refused to wait." Rhonda glared at the woman who was ignoring her.

Simon walked over to Rhonda and gently steered her back to her desk. "It's all right, Rhonda. I'll take care of it." He re-entered the room and shut the door with a louder-than-normal bang before turning to face Malinson. "And just what do you want, Agent Malinson? Two of my people have disappeared and I have neither the time nor the energy to deal with you right now."

She shot him a patronizing look, then shifted her gaze to Jim. "I understand that you've found one of the men possibly involved in the distribution of the drugs."

Jim gazed back at her rather coolly. "That's right."

"I want to talk to him."

Jim shook his head. "Not gonna happen. This is Major Crimes' case, and last I heard the feds still don't have any jurisdiction." He turned away to look through the windows again, ignoring her splutter of outrage.

Sunlight flashed off the glass and Simon's voice as he spoke to Malinson faded into nothing. One blink, and a roar of water preceded a series of images that paraded before him.

.... a wolf runs into a clearing where friendly totems guard the entrance .... trails of vines creep inward, snaring the wolf, dragging it from the place of safety .... a plaintive cry .... a rain of yellow blossoms .... a flare from a golden circle .... the mournful call of the panther as it searches but does not see the wolf that lays trapped and buried at the edge of the clearing ....

"Jim!" The loud voice jerked him back to the present with a rush, and he gasped, staring at Simon who was gripping him hard by one shoulder. Jim blinked a few times, struggling to find his bearings, the vision unsettling by both its suddenness and content. Simon shook him a little, then glanced nervously over Jim's shoulder to where Malinson watched them, eyes narrowed in speculation. "Are you okay? You looked..."

Nodding, a quick reply stumbled from Jim's lips. "I'm fine, Simon. Just worried about Sandburg and Conner. I was thinking about the case and this Ennis character, and--" He broke off and frowned, considering the images in his brief vision and the notes in Blair's notebook. Pulling away from Simon, he strode to the table, brushing by Malinson without even looking at her. The spiral notebook was still open to the last page and he flipped back several pages, murmuring under his voice as he scanned Blair's handwriting.

Being caught in a safe place, where nothing like that should happen. Yellow blossoms representing a golden-colored drug that both had previously experienced. And now the panther looking -- but not seeing -- what was right in front of him. Representations. Meanings. Shorthand. But all blurred into something slightly different.

"It's been in front of us the whole time." Jim whispered to himself as he stared at the notes about his dreams and the conclusions Blair had drawn.

Simon said his name again, this time as a question. "Jim? What is it?" He stepped over to Jim's side, looking at the notebook. "Did you think of something?"

Straightening, Jim focused on Simon's face. "It's not a name, sir."

"What isn't a name?"

"Ennis. It's not a name. It's a set of initials. N. S."

Simon mouthed the letters once in confusion, testing them; then he did it a second time, straightening slightly, his eyes widening. "And the two letters on the photo..."

Jim nodded, jaw muscles clenching. "H and A."

A dark fire lit Simon's eyes. "That...he's been playing with us!" His hands clenched at his sides. "It was enough that this happened once before, but to have it happen again...and to Sandburg..."

Jim heard the self-recrimination in Simon's voice and shook his head once. "Simon, don't. This isn't your--"

"Just what are the two of you muttering about?" Malinson's impatient voice broke rudely into their quiet conversation.

Jim whirled to face Malinson. "Where's your partner?"

Malinson shrugged diffidently. "He took the afternoon off. Said he had some important personal business come up that he needed to take care of."

Simon frowned at that and looked at Jim who asked, "Where was Shaw posted before he came here?"

She made a face. "Why do you want to know?"

"Just answer the damn question, Malinson!" Jim stepped toward her.

Straightening, her eyes flashed as she answered in clipped phrases. "He and his wife lived in Hawaii up until about five years ago. Their daughter disappeared and was never found. After that, they moved back to the States, to Washington. Too many memories in Hawaii, he said."

Simon glanced at the photo on his desk. "Do you know his daughter's name?"

"His wife's name is Fiona. Their daughter's name was Annalisa."

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

Concluded in Part Eight...