Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- In Time and Destiny Series

Summary: To save Blair in the present, Jim has to change Blair's past. Spoilers: based on events in Flight and Warriors.

First installment of the In Time and Destiny series. And a great many thanks to Marsha for the wonderful idea that inspired this whole series. Thank you, Marsha!!

Reflection of a Dream
by Becky
November 1997

At first, Jim wasn't sure what woke him. Sleepily, eyes slitted barely open, he turned up his hearing a notch, but there was only a peaceful quiet, underlaid by the normal sounds of night. Too tired from too many late nights on stakeout to listen harder, he closed his eyes and shifted under the blue and yellow sheets once before letting himself drift again.

<<Sentinel!>>

His eyes flew open and he sat up, swinging his legs out of the bed and reaching for his gun. He'd heard someone calling him. Only it wasn't by his name, at least not his given name, but by his identity, that of a Sentinel. He looked around, opening his sight to stare through the early morning shadows cast by the light streaming through the tall windows. No one. There was no one around.

Muttering under his breath, he placed his gun on the bedside table and rubbed his face with one hand. You need more sleep, Ellison. You're beginning to hear voices in the middle of the night now. Sandburg would have a field day with this. He sighed and flipped back the covers, settling back into the bed, sighing deeply.

<<Sentinel!>>

This time Jim found himself standing at full attention, all senses on alert. Something or someone was determined to keep him from sleeping. Deliberately, he opened everything and cast them out, listening, smelling, looking, feeling, tasting, everything. But there was nothing amiss, nothing wrong. Just his own heartbeat and breathing, the normal sounds of Cascade at night, the waves hitting the shore at a distance, a few nocturnal animals, neighbors in their building and buildings two blocks away sleeping, watching TV, reading. And Sandburg below, sleeping deeply, heavily, like always.

Growling, he turned back toward the bed. Enough of this. Where are those new white noise makers Sandburg got me? Maybe I can get some sleep with them in. He yanked open the bedside table drawer, feeling around for the small case. Just as his hand touched it, he heard it again. Really heard it this time.

<<Sentinel!>>

Whirling around, he demanded in a loud whisper, "Who's there? What do you want?"

Nothing.

After a moment, he sat down on the bed, reaching for the pillows, but still listening for that strange voice. This time he was ready for it.

<<Protect the Guide!>>

Jim stiffened and quickly shifted his attention back to the lower room. Blair was still asleep. His heartbeat was even and steady, his breathing deep and slow....

Too slow, he realized.

He took the stairs two at a time, racing some internal clock that he could feel ticking in his chest. He shoved open the glass doors to Blair's room, calling out, "Sandburg!"

No reply. Only another deep inhalation and exhalation. He squinted across the dark room to focus on Blair who was sprawled across the bed like always, a book and some papers on one side, blankets half on the floor. Jim ignored it all as he strode into the room in the darkness surrounding his young friend. Not knowing whether he was more alarmed at Blair's unresponsiveness or the heavy feeling of impending death in the room, Jim rushed to Blair's side. He dropped onto the edge of the bed and reached for his partner. Grabbing Blair's nearest shoulder, he shook it hard. "Blair! Blair! Wake up!"

Blair's head rolled limply on his pillow, ringlets of dark hair sliding across Jim's knuckles, but other than that, there was no reaction, no change in the breathing or heartbeat, nothing to say he would wake up.

No, no, no ....

Jim's heart thundered in his chest as he shook the young man again, harder this time, gripping both shoulders painfully tight. "Blair! Answer me!"

Deciding not to wait any longer, he slid his arms under Blair. "Okay, buddy, we're going to the hospital." He paused a moment, realizing he wore only his boxers, then looked around the room again, shivering at the dark feel of the atmosphere. He scooped Blair up carefully. "And I'm taking you to the couch where I can keep an eye on you while I change."

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

Thirty minutes later, after carrying his unconscious partner through the emergency room doors, Jim was seated in a chair in the waiting room of Cascade General Hospital. An ignored cup of coffee cooled to a thick liquid on the table next to him. His eyes fixed on a point on the ceiling, he was tuned in to a room down the hall where his partner was being examined by a multitude of doctors and specialists, trying to determine the cause of the coma into which Blair had fallen.

Jim himself had no explanation. They'd been on stakeouts for the past several nights. Nothing major. No car chases. No ambushes. No exchange of gunfire. Nothing. Blair had spent the majority of his time either grading papers, writing his own paper, or telling Jim tall tales of foreign cultures. Last night they'd come home early, had a late night dinner, watched the news together and then each went to their own room to sleep. At least Jim did. Blair must've stayed up a little bit to read some of the book he was using for a lecture he was writing for the following week. And then fallen asleep doing so.

A hand on his shoulder, shaking him, jarred him back to the present and away from listening to the bewildered and worried doctors down the hall. Simon's concerned face shimmered into view.

"Hi, Simon."

Simon settled into the chair next to him. "Any word, Jim?"

"Not since I called you, no. You didn't have to come down here."

Simon shook his head in slight reproval. "Sandburg's my friend, too, Jim. And you know it as well as he does. And even if he isn't here to tell me, I know he wouldn't want you out here by yourself."

Jim forced a brief, small smile. "Thanks, Simon."

"So can you tell me what happened?"

Jim rubbed his face and shifted in the chair. "I don't know what happened. That's the whole problem. He was fine when we said good night. I was exhausted and crashed pretty quickly. I think he stayed up a little bit to read, then fell asleep himself. I don't even know why I woke up in the first place." He frowned to himself, a fast retreating memory of an urgent voice calling to him lingering on the edges of his mind. He shook his head. "Anyway, whatever woke me, I'm glad it did. Blair's in a coma and the doctors can't find any reason why. No illness, no bump on the head, nothing obvious in the blood work, nothing. And they can't get him to stabilize either. He's just ... slipping away, a little at a time, for no reason."

Jim's voice fell silent and he stared at the far wall, his jaw clenching and releasing. Simon was quiet beside him, only laying a hand on Jim's arm in unspoken support and comfort. Even from the side, he could see impending loss already settling deep in Jim's blue eyes. Jim spoke again, his voice soft, slightly cracking.

"What am I gonna do if I lose him, Simon?"

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

Jim watched the slow rise and fall of Blair's chest, hearing the oxygen moving in and out of Blair's lungs, each time willing the man to breathe again, willing the slow heartbeat to keep going. And each time they did, but it seemed to Jim that they got immeasurably slower with each inhalation, each beat.

He'd been sitting in here for the last two hours, just watching, listening, sometimes talking to the unconscious man before him, hoping that Blair could somehow hear him, maybe make him fight a little harder to live. The last time he'd done this was after his partner had been dosed with Golden. But then he'd known why, understood what was happening. It hadn't made it any easier to know that there was a reason that his partner was in so much danger, but at least then he knew more. But now..... Now all he could do was sit and watch and wait. The doctors were stymied. More specialists were being called across the country, hoping that somewhere someone would know what was happening, could explain, could find a way to help the young man.

Rubbing his thumb across Blair's arm where his hand rested in constant contact, as much for him as for Blair, Jim sighed, resting his forehead against the side of the bed. He was so tired. Forcing his eyes open, he took a deep breath, trying to stay awake. He couldn't risk falling asleep, not now, not when Blair could.... He shoved that thought aside, not ready to deal with it. Without meaning to, he let his eyelids drift closed again.

And fell asleep.

And dreamed.

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

<<Sentinel!>>

Jolting to his feet even before he really heard the voice, Jim glanced around in shock and surprise. He was in the Peruvian forest, sunlight coming down in shafts through the tall trees above him. He looked down at himself. Still in the jeans and black t-shirt he'd thrown on earlier before rushing to the hospital with Blair....

Blair!

Frantic now, at being separated from his partner and friend, he eyed the forest for a target for his rage. Why was he here? Why now?

<<Sentinel!>>

Shifting his eyes around him as he looked for the speaker, he called out, anger seeping into his voice, "What do you want? Why have you shown me this? I need to be with my partner. I don't have time for more questions. Not now."

The shaman finally stepped out from behind a tree, almost from the tree itself. He spoke again. "You cannot help your Guide in that manner, Sentinel."

Jim all but yelled back, his voice cracking with pain and anger, "Don't you think I know that? Don't you think I know he's ... dying?" He paused a moment, trying to find his center again. A thought occurred to him and he stepped forward, both hands in fists. "Are you the one responsible? Are you doing this?"

The shaman shook his head, unfazed by Jim's anger. "No, Sentinel, it is the past."

"What?" Jim was confused. The shaman always spoke in riddles, leaving it up to Jim to figure out the meaning. "The past? What are you talking about?"

"You must help your Guide defeat the ghosts of his past before he can go forward to truly become your true shaman. You have one chance and one chance only, Sentinel. Use it wisely." The shaman morphed into the panther before Jim could speak, then started into a run, heading in the opposite direction.

"No, wait! I don't understand. Tell me what I need to do!" He threw himself after the panther, running hard, barely noticing the tree limbs and bushes scraping him as he flashed past them. The panther ran up a high slope, then disappeared over the ridge. Jim pushed himself to follow, rising to the top of the hill and preparing to descend....

....only to find himself falling....falling....into darkness.....

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

Jim jerked upright, breathing hard, glancing around him as he willed his heart to slow down. He was in a park it looked like, half-lying underneath a few trees. He could hear children playing in the distance, adults talking together or to the children, cars passing by on the streets, birds singing high above him. He scooted forward, folding his legs underneath him, taking a slow, deep breath.

Last I remember, I was following the panther, like Sandburg told me to before, then I .... fell? He frowned, looking around again. Then how did I get here? And where exactly is here? And why am I not more bothered by this?

A paper blew up against his legs. He looked down -- it was part of the front page of a newspaper. Idly picking it up, noticing immediately that the ink was so fresh it stuck to his fingertips. His eyes landed on the date and the name of the paper.

August 3, 1981 edition of the Fort Worth Times.

His fingers tightened convulsively, crinkling the paper as he blurted out, "What?!?" He rubbed his forehead, sighing, muttering, "I must be dreaming. There is no way that ..."

"Hey, kid!"

Wincing, he started, glancing around. That voice had sounded loud, especially to his Sentinel-sensitive ears. He didn't see anyone at first, but then the voice, that of a male teenager, came again.

"Yeah, you, little hippie-boy. Where's your mommy? Didn't know she let you play outside by yourself?"

Frowning, he rose to his feet, absently folding the paper and shoving into a pocket as cop instinct took over. Wherever he was and whatever was going on with him would have to wait; it sounded like someone was in trouble and he was never one to stand by and let trouble happen. Another boy, but with a quieter voice, slightly tremulous, younger sounding, answered the first voice.

"Look, I'm not bothering anyone. Just wanted to read my book under a tree or something. That's all."

As he honed in on the voices, Jim paused for a moment. That voice ... there's something .... He shook his head and pressed forward, following the now rapid heartbeat of the younger boy. It led around the corner of a row of thick, tall bushes.

A different voice replied, another male teenager, malevolent and sneering, "What you reading, little boy? Gimme that."

"Hey, that's mine! Give it back!"

A third voice, laughing. "Oooh, aren't we scared? Stupid little kid."

Jim rounded the corner quickly, taking in the scene in an instant. A young kid, fairly small, with a headful of brown curls stood with his back to Jim, one hand reaching up for a book held over his head by an older boy. Two other teenagers cheered the other on as he shoved the kid with the other hand, making him land hard on the ground. One of the other teenagers stepped forward, raising a fist, apparently preparing to hit the kid.

Jim said loudly, "Hey!"

The boy nearest the kid looked up. "Huh?" His eyes focused on Jim and snorted. "This ain't your business. Keep out of it." He dismissed Jim and grinned back down at the boy. "As for you ...."

Jim strode across the lawn and grabbed the teenager's arm. "And I say it is my business." The teenager struggled briefly, then swung his other arm around, his fist clenched. Jim caught that arm as well, shoving him back even as he stepped around the boy still half-reclined on the ground.

He pushed the teenager back into his two friends, then followed the movement, snatching the book out of the first teenager's hand before he could react. Putting on his best glower, he said, "Now, I suggest you go find something else to do." The teenagers glared back at him, not in the least bit intimidated. Jim narrowed his eyes and lowered his voice. "Beat it, punks, before I have you hauled in on charges of harassment."

One of the teenagers paled and asked, "You're a cop?"

"Yeah, I'm a cop. You still want to mess with me?"

The teenagers hesitated another moment, then all three took off. Jim grunted with satisfaction and turned back around. The boy was still on the ground, one arm holding his weight up, face down and covered by longish hair.

Jim squatted down to his level. "Hey, kid, you okay? Did they hurt you or anything?"

The head shook and a quiet voice responded, "No, sir."

Jim reached out a hand slowly, not wanting to scare him and placed it on the boy's thin shoulder, drawing him up to a seated position. Then he shifted his hand to the face, tilting it up by the chin. "Are you sure you're okay, ki....?"

Two big blue eyes stared back at him from beneath the mop of curls. Blue eyes that he knew as well as his own ... or better. Blair! Oh my .... Blair! Jim forced himself to remember how to breathe. It really was 1981. But how? Never mind. I don't think I want to know. Blair would be what, 12? 13, maybe?

The kid shifted under his grasp, withdrawing his chin from Jim's hand. He drew his feet under him and stood. Jim followed after a moment, looking down at the little kid. So small for a 12-year-old. Small and thin. He cleared his throat. "Here's your book, B- uh, what's your name, kid?"

Pausing in the act of checking the cover of the book for damage, the kid raised his face and met Jim's eyes with a suspicious look. "I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."

Making the first move, Jim held out his hand. "My name is Jim. I won't hurt you. Just wanted to know your name. Just your first name if that's all you want to tell me."

After a long silence, the boy answered, shaking the proffered hand once before retreating to grasp the edges of the book again. "Blair. My name's Blair." He waited a moment, as if expecting some kind of comment on his name.

Jim nodded. "Nice to meet you, Blair. You sure you're okay now?"

Blair nodded, his curls bouncing with the movement. "Yes, I'm sure. Thank you."

A voice called out in the distance, "Blair? Honey?"

Jim recognized Naomi's voice even as Blair rolled his eyes, the first sign of animation that he'd shown. Jim could almost hear Blair's thoughts about overprotective and hovering mothers. Blair spoke quickly, "I gotta go. That's my mom. Probably wondering where I am. Thanks again." He hustled off past Jim, who watched until Blair met up with a younger version of Naomi. He heard Blair pass off her concern, saying he was fine, just delayed by a few kids. No harm done -- some guy had scared them off.

Jim smiled to himself. "Just doing my part as your Blessed Protector, Chief, no matter what age you are."

Then the realization of where -- and when -- he was hit him again, making him frown in consternation. Just what am I doing here? How is my being in the past helping Blair in the present? future? Am I just supposed to scare off a few punk kids? His head was beginning to hurt. Maybe I'm still asleep, resting against the edge of that damned hospital bed.

<<Sentinel!>>

The air shimmered around him, casting his surroundings in a deep blue, the noises of children, adults, animals, the wind, everything muting to a dull roar. Now what?

<<The time of action is now, Sentinel. The ghosts of your Guide's past are here. If they win, your Guide will never fulfill his true destiny and will soon be unable to guide you as your abilities become stronger. Without your Guide, you may lose your way as a Sentinel. Without the Sentinel, evil will become strong in your tribe and prevail in your future. You must protect the Guide from those that would use others to destroy you both.>>

Jim swayed on his feet as the colors and sounds shifted back to normal with a suddenness he was unprepared for. He raised one hand to his forehead, squinting as he worked at turning down the dials which were spinning out of control. The shadows had shifted in length and location. He glanced above him for a moment. It's later. Maybe by a few hours. Definitely odd. But then if I'm dreaming, it doesn't matter, right?

Something seemed to whisper at him that he wasn't dreaming, but he ignored it, concentrating instead on locating that one particular heartbeat that he knew so well. He found it across the park and followed it with his sight, finding the boy resting up against a tree, isolated from the rest of the parkgoers. There was a book in his lap that he was reading intently, oblivious to his surroundings. Naomi was nowhere in sight.

He hesitated. He looks safe to me. What can happen out here in the daylight? And what exactly am I protecting him from? I hate this. But he started across the park anyway. If the spirit guide says Blair is in danger, then he must be. I can't afford not to do what he says. If this is the way to save Blair, I'll do it. As he walked and watched Blair, he expanded his vision and hearing to include more area behind the young boy.

At first there was nothing, then he caught sight of shadows and heard movement in the grass behind the tree Blair leaned against. Then he heard some whispers. He sped up, focusing in on a voice, a voice that he recognized as belonging to one of the teenagers who had attacked Blair earlier. He was planning to hurt Blair.

Swearing under his breath, he pushed himself into a run, ignoring the startled shouts and looks from other parkgoers as they scattered from his path, grabbing their children to their sides. Blair read on, not hearing any of it.

Jim yelled, "Blair!" The boy didn't look up, just moved forward to rest the book on the ground, turned a page, and kept reading. The voices behind him laughed and moved closer.

With a shout, Jim swooped down on Blair and yanked him away from the tree just as a baseball bat swung down to smack hard on the book lying abandoned on the ground. Blair yelped, his heart rate skyrocketing. Not taking the time to reassure the boy, Jim shoved him behind him. "Get behind me!" He then grabbed the arm attached the bat, pulling the teenager out into the open.

He growled as his hand tightened. "I should have you arrested for deadly intent."

The teenager only grinned slightly back, eyes narrowing into slits, "Go ahead, try it. I dare you." It was then that Jim noticed the slightly shimmering dark shadows in those eyes. His own eyes widened as he finally understood what his spirit guide was trying to tell him. Whatever was out there that wanted Blair to not gain his shaman abilities eventually was using this opportunity to, what, steal them? damage them? impair them? He didn't know and he didn't care. His only concern was Blair's safety, both now and in his present.

The teenager's voice changed tone, lowering to a gravelly pitch. "You can't protect him here, Sentinel. You don't belong here."

Jim stood his ground, vaguely hearing Blair's startled exclamation. "I protect him wherever I am and wherever he is. You cannot harm him. I won't let you." He paused, reaching for inspiration. It came to him in a flash of blue light. "And neither will the panther."

The smug look on the teenager's face faltered and Jim went on, straightening slightly. "This was your only chance to change the past. I know that." He released the teenager's arm and drew Blair around slightly, holding him to his side with an arm around his shoulders, hissing out, "And I know now that you cannot hurt him in my present without hurting him in his past." The teenager growled and Jim could see the blackness beginning to leave those eyes. Jim started to smile and he dropped his voice to a whisper. "You've lost."

The teenager stared at him for a moment longer, then his eyes rolled up into his head and he collapsed. Jim moved forward just in time to catch him gently, lowering him to the ground, checking his pulse as he did. He sighed in relief. Whatever that had been, it hadn't hurt the teenager, only borrowed his form. He forced away a hysterical laugh. Too much listening to Blair going on about science fiction, Ellison. And not enough sleep. That what's this is.

He stood up and turned back to Blair, touching his arm. "Are you okay?"

Those blue eyes were wide, still staring at the teenager. He swallowed and nodded after a moment, eyes slowly looking up at Jim. "What .... why .... what happened? I mean, he and his friends pick on me, push me around a little, but never anything like .... that. I don't ...." He stopped, shaking his head, looking down at the prone teenager, not hearing the voices of other parkgoers nearing them.

Taking a quick look around and spotting Naomi in the distance rapidly approaching them, Jim squatted before Blair, instinctively raising a hand to brush aside a few curls. He smiled gently at him. "I don't understand either, Blair. But it's okay now. I don't think you'll have to worry about him doing that ever again. Okay?"

Blair just stared at him for a long time. For a moment, Jim saw a hint of Blair the man in those innocent blue eyes, but then he blinked and it was gone. The boy returned his smile, eyes twinkling in that same way the Jim knew so well. "Thanks, uh, Jim, right?"

"Yeah, Jim."

Blair's eyes went back to the teenager, then to the tree, following the line of trunk to the ground, where they landed on the hardcover. "My book!" He dropped to his knees and shoved the bat aside, carefully picking up the book, smoothing a few wrinkled pages, a little furrow on his forehead.

Out of curiosity, Jim focused in on the title -- Sherlock Holmes. He smiled, shaking his head. Well, now I know why he picks up on so many details.

"Blair! Are you all right? What happened?" Jim stepped aside to watch Naomi haul Blair off the ground and smother him in her embrace.

Blair's voice was muffled. "Mom! Mom, lemme go. I'm all right. Really."

Behind them, Jim saw the teenager pushing himself up, holding his head in both hands and groaning. Must have a really nasty headache. Probably doesn't even know what happened. And that's probably for the best. Another adult, assumably a parent or friend, went around them and squatted next to the teenager, asking quiet questions. Jim dismissed the teenager from his mind, realizing he was in good hands.

Naomi released him, smoothing back his bangs from his forehead. "Are you sure, honey?"

"Yes, mom, I'm sure. He stopped him before, well, before anything really even happened."

"He? He who?" Her gaze shifted to meet Jim's. He watched her trying to decide who he was, reading in her eyes and the way she hugged Blair closer to her again that she thought he was a cop. Well, Blair did tell me once that I was labeled 'cop'. Guess I shouldn't be surprised.

Blair quickly made introductions. "Oh, sorry, Mom. This is Jim. He's the guy who scared off the other boys earlier. Jim, this is my mom."

Jim smiled politely, extending a hand. "Ma'am. Sorry I startled your son. But I saw the older kid behind him and got worried about might happen."

Naomi shook his hand delicately, "Oh, well, I see. Thank you .... Jim. That was very ... nice of you." Her gaze shifted back to Blair. "We'd better go now, honey."

"Mom ...."

"No, I think we've had enough excitement today, don't you?"

Jim had to suppress a chuckle at Blair's muted grumbling, only really audible to a Sentinel's ears. Naomi waited until Blair had his book in one hand, then took his other hand in hers. She threw another quick smile at Jim. "Thank you again."

Blair looked up at him as well, flashing those blue eyes and wide shy smile. "Yeah, thanks."

Jim nodded. "You're welcome." Then they both turned and walked away, leaving Jim to watch from the distance. Hearing a low growl, he turned toward the cove of trees next to him. He couldn't see anything at first and stepped closer ......

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

..... and found himself back in the Peruvian forest again, the panther in front of him. He blinked, regaining his equilibrium, then said, "Well, is that what you wanted? Was that the action you were looking for?"

The panther's tail twitched in the air and then he purred loudly. But there was no verbal answer. Not from the panther anyway.

From far off, he thought he heard a voice calling his name, his given name .....

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

"Jim. Jim, c'mon, man, wake up. Jim!"

He came awake abruptly, pulling away from the side of the bed. "Wha...? Blair! You're awake!"

Blair's eyes twinkled. His voice was soft, a little tired sounding. "Yeah, I am. What happened to .... oomph!" The younger man suddenly felt himself enveloped by strong arms and his face pressed against a t-shirt-clad chest. He moved the arm not attached to an IV around to Jim's back, patting lightly, moving his face to the side so he could breathe a little.

After several long moments, Jim released him, carefully lowering him back to the bed, fussing with the blankets. Blair rolled his eyes. "Jim! Snap out of it, will you? You're scaring me. You're acting like I was dying or something." Jim froze in the act of smoothing an imaginary crease in the blankets. Blair caught it and blinked. "Wait, is that why I'm in the hospital? Was I ....?"

Jim nodded, raising his eyes to meet Blair's. "Yeah, you were. I woke up early this morning and for some reason, I felt the need to check up on you. I thought I heard something, I guess. When I realized you were sleeping too deeply and I couldn't wake you, I brought you here. You were in a coma, Sandburg. No cause, no reason. And you just got worse in the past several hours. I thought .... well, I thought I was gonna lose you, Chief."

Blair laid a hand on Jim's, curling his fingers around the palm. "Uh-huh, no way, Jim, you ain't losing me. I'm your Guide, remember?"

"Yeah, I remember." And my shaman, Chief, when I need you to be and you're ready.

"Good, then unless you tell me to go, I'm not going anywhere." He squeezed Jim's hand once, then released it with a yawn, settling back down into the bed. "However, unless you have any objections, I think I'd like to go back to sleep."

Jim laughed. "No, no objections. You get some rest, Chief."

Blair forced his eyes to stay open. "Go home, Jim. You look terrible."

"Thanks for the beauty tip, Sandburg. I'll go home when you're asleep and after I've talked to the doctor."

Blair yawned again. "That won't take long. Feel like I've been fighting the bad guys or something ...."

Jim watched for several long minutes, assuring himself that Blair's sleep this time was natural and normal. Finally, he stood up, stretching muscles sore from being seated for too long. Something crinkled in his jeans pocket. Something that sounded vaguely paperish. He froze. It was a dream. It couldn't have been real. It can't be ....

Slowly, he reached into the pocket and pulled out a small folded piece of newspaper. With shaking hands, he smoothed it out and read the date and newspaper title.

August 3, 1981 edition of the Fort Worth Times.

The ink was still fresh, adding to the stains on his fingers.

He glanced back at Blair, innocently asleep, curls falling across his forehead. Jim reached down and moved them aside, lingering briefly, then withdrew his hand, his eyes going back to the paper again.

I think we have a lot to talk about when we get home, Chief.

- The End -

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