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

Summary: Simon gets involved in the Sentinel/Shaman connection, first with questions, then more than he ever thought he would be when Jim and Blair are separated during a confrontation. Spoilers: based on events in Flight and Warriors, plus one element from Sentinel Too.

Fifth installment of the In Time and Destiny series. If you haven't read the previous four (available at my page), then this probably won't make a whole lot of sense to you. And again, any books, talks of shamans, and the like are all from my own imagination and not meant to be factual. Just a small warning -- I did things a little bit differently in this piece as compared to the previous ones, so it may not have quite the same tone. I'm not sure. Let me know.

Surreal Images
by Becky
May 1998

Laying down the plain, unlabeled manila folder, Simon lit his cigar and leaned back in his desk chair, pondering what he'd just read for the fifth time since he'd received it several weeks back. What is it with Jim and trains? Seems like every time I turn around he's got problems that they're involved with somehow. Shifting, he stared out the windows at the bullpen, or more specifically, at Jim's desk where the detective and his partner sat finishing a report on their latest case. They were laughing about something, evidenced by the broad smile on Jim's face and the grin on Sandburg's. A moment later, Simon decided it was Jim teasing his partner about something as he watched Jim playfully cuff the back of Sandburg's head before turning back to the computer. It was a wonderful alternative to what he could be seeing out there instead -- an empty desk.

Three weeks earlier, Jim had nearly been 'plastered' (Sandburg's term) by a train when he'd zoned on something in the middle of the train tracks while on a stakeout for the as-yet-unsolved smuggling case. Simon shivered. Not something he would've wanted to be roused out of bed to hear about at two in the morning. Or at any time, for that matter. Only luck and an uneasy feeling had sent Blair down to Jim, saving his life by knocking him out of the way just bare moments before the train roared past.

Only luck. Only an uneasy feeling. He snorted, his eyes still fixed on the laughing partners in the bullpen. Or so they would have me believe.

Simon had his own suspicions about what was happening, especially after the incident with his shattered coffee pot. Added to that were the little tidbits of conversation that he'd heard from time to time from one of them -- hints of things that neither mentioned to him in full, things that only the two of them were privy to, things he still wasn't sure he wanted to know.

But he was their captain, their friend, and he had his own 'uneasy feeling', one that told him he needed to know what was going on with them. And that he needed to know soon -- before something happened and he hadn't a clue what to do about it. The whole thing with the train coming only hours after the 'confrontation' in his office had proved to him that something dangerous was up, only a part of which they had told him about.

Growling, he sat forward again, staring at the contents of the folder, the report that Sandburg had given to him the day after the 'train incident' as Simon had taken to calling it. The report - by Sandburg - was short and to the point, which was suspicious in of itself. But Simon knew his men well enough, knew Sandburg well enough, that he could read between the lines to see that the young man had been terrified and that something more than an 'uneasy feeling' had sent him down the hill after Jim. In the three weeks that had passed since then, Simon hadn't asked, hadn't wanted to intrude upon what was obviously a 'sentinel thing'.

Today, however, his curiosity was overriding his better instincts and he knew, he knew, that the next time he talked to them, he was going to ask. He rubbed his forehead with his free hand, closing his eyes a moment. Are you sure you want to get into this, Banks? Are you sure? Are you really sure? Really, really sure?

A knock on his door interrupted his musings and he looked up to see those very partners standing outside the closed door, Jim lifting a file in his hands, waiting for permission to enter. Already? Simon paused a moment to close the manila folder, took a fortifying breath, then waved them in.

"Gentlemen, what may I do for you?"

Blair perched himself on the table while Jim handed Simon the case file. "Report on the Gardner case, sir."

Simon nodded, taking the folder and flipping through it quickly. "Good, good." He set it aside, asking, "And the Stapleton case? How's it proceeding?"

Jim settled on the edge of the table next to Blair, shrugging. "It's going, just not very fast. No one seems to want to talk to us."

Blair added, "Yeah, seems like everyone was out of town that day, or at least not at home."

Simon snorted, leaning back in his chair again, gesturing with his cigar. "I find it hard to believe that an entire neighborhood would all be gone on the same day, Sandburg."

Blair lifted a hand. "Hey, I'm just telling you what they tell us. I don't believe them either."

Simon looked at Jim. "Can't you, you know, use those lie detector skills of yours and figure out who's lying?"

Jim replied, "Normally, yes, I could, Simon. But unfortunately, everyone out there is nervous and reacting badly to any questions. I could ask a 10-year-old kid how old he was and from the reaction I'd think he was really 100."

Simon made a face. "Great."

"You said it, sir."

Chewing on his cigar another moment, Simon considered his next moves carefully, then stood up and walked around the desk. "Sandburg, go turn on the radio, will you? It should be set on a jazz station, I think."

Blair lifted a curious eyebrow, but slid off the table to do as Simon asked. Jim eyed the captain speculatively. "What's up, Simon?"

"Does something have to be up, Jim?"

"You were the one who made a point of mentioning my 'lie detector' skills, Simon. You tell me."

Sighing and leaning back against his desk, Simon gave in. "All right, all right, you got me. I just wanted to talk to the two of you."

Blair paused in the act of resettling himself on the table. He looked first at Jim, then back at Simon. "What? Is something wrong?"

Simon waved a hand in the air. "No, nothing's wrong. I just wanted to talk. Is that a crime, Sandburg?"

Blair shook his head. "No, no, not a crime. Just . . . unexpected, that's all."

Jim asked quietly, "So, what is it that you want to talk about, sir?"

Letting the familiar tone of the soothing jazz music flow over and around him, giving him something to fall back on instead of absolute silence, Simon took a breath and began. "I just wanted to know how things are going between you two. The, uh, sentinel and shaman stuff, that is. I haven't heard anything about it since the near-miss by the train and, well," he paused, shrugging slightly. "I was curious, I guess. Concerned. Worried."

Neither man answered at first, instead looking at each other. Simon could almost see the silent communication between them as they decided what to say and who should say it. Finally both turned back to face him. Jim crossed his arms loosely over his chest, letting Blair do the answering, who for once had his hands folded calmly in his lap.

Legs swinging slightly and a pleased smile on his face, Blair said softly, "Thanks, Simon. For being worried, that is. Jim and I, well, I think we forget sometimes that someone else knows that all this crazy stuff is going on. We get too wrapped up in it. It's nice to know that someone else worries about it other than us."

"Of course I'm worried, Sandburg. You're my friends. Why wouldn't I be worried?" Simon felt vaguely upset that Sandburg didn't think he would be concerned about what happened to them.

Blair lifted a pacifying hand. "I know, I know. Sorry. I didn't mean to sound like you don't worry about us, just that we forget sometimes. It's easy to do considering how busy we all get." He paused, waiting for Simon to nod, then went on. "As for what's going on, well, actually, truth be told, nothing since the whole bit with the train. But I don't think . . . whatever it is . . . has disappeared. I know it hasn't disappeared." He stared past Simon blankly, sight turned inward. "I think it's out there, watching, gaining strength, waiting for just the right moment to strike. It won't give up until either we defeat it totally or . . . or it gets what it wants." He stopped, hands clenching into fists, his eyes dropping to his lap.

Jim uncurled his arms and laid a hand on Blair's shoulder, squeezing warmly, whispering, "We will defeat it, Chief. Don't you doubt that for a moment. Got it?"

Blair looked over at him, smiling a little sheepishly. "Yeah, I got it." Shoving loose hair back behind his ear, he sat up, relaxing tense muscles.

Simon watched the two of them, noting again the ease between them, the unspoken language that they shared only with each other that Simon could see, but not truly understand. His teeth clamped more tightly around his cigar. And I'm not sure I'd want to understand anyway. It's their world, this sentinel stuff, not mine. Sometimes he felt a little jealous of the friendship that the two men had, but other times he felt relieved that he didn't have to deal with Jim's 'gift' which had originally brought Sandburg to the department.

In a brief moment of clarity, Simon realized something, something so important he didn't know how he'd missed it for so long. Those sentinel gifts of Jim's may've been what drew Sandburg here, but they're certainly not what's keeping him here. Jim is keeping him here. Or rather, their friendship is. Friendship and loyalty. And a stronger commitment than I've ever seen before, even between married couples.

"Sir?"

Simon jerked back to reality upon hearing Jim's query, seeing both men looking at him with mild amusement. "Sorry. Just thinking."

"Must have been some heavy thinking. Sandburg was about to test you for zoning."

Grinning, Blair smacked Jim's arm. "Jim! You weren't supposed to tell him."

Jim laughed as Simon grunted. "You try to pull any tests on me, Sandburg, and I'll give you Brown's paperwork to do as well as Jim's."

Blair shuddered dramatically. "Anything but that. That man may be a nice guy and a good cop, but he can't write neatly to save his life. I don't know how he can understand those scribbles."

Simon shook his head and turned back to Jim, shifting against his desk. "What were we talking about again? Oh, yeah, the, uh, sentinel stuff. So nothing's happened lately, but you don't think it's over either."

Jim replied, "Basically that's it in a nutshell. Blair's been studying that shaman book, usually muttering under his breath about it the rest of the day." Sandburg said something in response that was too low for Simon to hear, but Jim threw his partner a half-hearted, mostly playful, glare that told Simon he really didn't want to know. Deciding to ignore the non-verbal byplay, he directed his attention back to Jim.

"What about you? Don't you have anything you have to do? I mean, this can't all be Sandburg's responsibility."

Jim hesitated, glancing over at Blair, who met his eyes, narrowing them when Jim quickly looked away again. Simon almost swore he could feel the air in the office become charged. Oops. Didn't mean to stir up things that much. This is obviously some kind of sore point between them. And I have a feeling that I'm about to get more information than I've ever wanted to know.

Sandburg laid a hand on Jim's arm, tightening his fingers around it firmly. "Jim, what haven't you told me? You told me you wouldn't keep anything from me about this. Have you been having dreams or something? Visions maybe? Maybe even a visit or two?"

"Not . . . exactly. Just lots of vague feelings really." He looked toward the outside windows, running a hand over his short hair. "And sometimes I hear my spirit guide telling me to keep watch, to be careful."

"Jim! You're supposed to tell me these things!"

Ouch! Even Simon could hear the hurt in Sandburg's voice in that simple statement, and he sat back to watch Jim's reaction. He turned back to Blair instantly, eyes intent, voice soft. "I'm sorry. Most of the time I forget almost as soon as I wake up. And I don't usually remember until just before I go to sleep. It wasn't until Simon said something just now that I remembered really at all. Most of it is still pretty vague, hard to define."

Blair persisted. "Most of it, you said. Most of the time. What about the other times?"

Jim shifted on the table. "This morning, in the bathroom, after you left early for the University, I was getting ready to shave. I wiped the steam from the mirror, lifted my razor, and, in the mirror, I saw --" He stopped, looking at Simon.

Blair lifted a hand and touched Jim's face with a few fingers, moving it back to him. "No, tell me. Don't worry about Simon." He threw a quick glance at the captain. "We'll, uh, explain here in a moment, sir."

Simon talked around his cigar. "I certainly hope so since you two have completely lost me."

Blair grinned briefly and turned back to Jim, whispering, "What did you see, Jim?"

Jim finished quietly, closing his eyes. "I saw myself. As a Sentinel. He said 'Beware the sea winds'. And then I blinked and he was gone, like he'd never been there." He opened his eyes and looked at Blair whose forehead was furrowed in concentration. "I meant to tell you when you got here this afternoon, but it just slipped my mind. It got so busy..." His voice trailed off in an apologetic tone of voice.

Nodding, Blair patted Jim's arm absently, obviously deep in thought. "That's okay. Don't worry about it. I'm sure you would've remembered soon enough." He muttered under his breath, "'Beware the sea winds'. What does it mean? Sea winds, sea winds, sea winds, beware. Hmm...I think..." He jumped off the table and headed for the door. "Be back in a minute. I'm gonna go grab that book." Before either man could say anything, Blair was gone.

Jim stood up and ran a hand over his face as he paced over to the windows, staring out at the for-once pleasantly warm, blue-sky day. Not a cloud in sight. Simon walked over to join him, leaning against the wall partition between the windows. After a moment, Jim spoke.

"You're probably more confused now than ever, aren't you, sir?"

Simon shrugged. "As I said before, Jim, I've come to expect the unexpected from the two of you. I would like to know what the two of you were rattling on about though. At least some of it. Sounds like some of it has been going on for quite awhile."

Jim let out a small chuckle. "You could say that." He paused, then continued. "Back in Peru, when Blair and I went down to get you and Daryl, my senses disappeared for a while. I had these intensely real visions of a black panther following us, watching us. When I finally told Blair about it, he told me that it was my spirit animal or that it could be at least. Whatever. Later I had another vision where I saw the panther and this altar. The panther became a man who told me I had to make a choice on whom I wanted to be -- a Sentinel or an ordinary man."

"Obviously I don't have to ask what you chose."

Smiling, Jim nodded. "Obviously. Blair has always stated that the panther is my spirit animal or guide. When Incacha died and my senses were still 'offline', Blair had to guide me to that animal spirit. That time I saw him as myself. Or at least almost like myself, dressed like a warrior for battle. Blair calls that part of me my sentinel self, how both of us see me in the, well, I guess in the spirit world." He laughed ruefully, continuing to stare out the window. "It's kind of hard for me to accept, much less for me to explain to someone else, even you, Simon."

Simon didn't say anything for a long time, just puffed on his cigar. Finally he took the cigar out of his mouth, ostensibly examining it before looking over at Jim. "This is all pretty wild, Jim. But I knew that when I asked. Coming from the kid, I might've thought he'd been getting too little sleep lately. You know he gets way too excitable sometimes." Jim agreed with a nod and a small smile. "Coming from you, however, I tend to believe it a little more. Don't get me wrong. It still sounds more far-fetched than most of the wild science fiction movies my son drags me off to see."

Jim laughed, his shoulders relaxing. "Trust me, sir, sometimes I feel like I'm living in one of those movies. I know exactly what you're talking about." He shifted to meet Simon's eyes. "Thanks, Simon, for asking and for believing me."

Simon nodded, clapping his free hand on Jim's shoulder. "You're welcome. I figured it was about time the two of you let someone else in on what was going on. Took me all of three seconds to realize I was the only option and three weeks to decide I really wanted to know."

"I always said you had impeccable timing, sir."

"Yeah, yeah." He shoved the cigar back into his mouth, chuckling a little.

The office door opened and Blair all but fell inside, followed closely by Brown and Rafe. Yanking the cigar from his mouth, Simon stepped away from the window, eyes narrowed at the sudden interruption. Something big is up. "What is it?"

Brown quickly rattled out, "Hot tip about the smugglers. From what two of my snitches just told me in separate reports, they've set up shop down in the warehouse district on 8th."

Discussions of sentinels, shamans, visions, panthers, choices, and all other things way too mystical for his practical mind were quickly shoved aside or forgotten. Simon shoved the cigar between his teeth and strode to the coat track to grab his long tan overcoat. "About damn time." Shrugging it on quickly, he stepped through the door into the bullpen, calling out loudly to his already assembling troops, "Let's roll, people. I don't want to lose these guys again. Move it."

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

"I don't like this, Jim. I do not want to be stuck out here while you're in there. What if something goes wrong? Your little vision this morning, what if it was trying to tell you something? What if you need me? What if . . . ?"

Jim interrupted gently, but firmly, as he pulled on the heavy bulletproof vest. "Chief, just calm down. This is routine, nothing I haven't done a hundred times before. Nothing's gonna happen. Now, help me with this, why don't you?"

Blair grumbled but acquiesced, securing one side of the vest while Jim did the other. Simon stood quietly a few feet away, ostensibly giving them some privacy but well within hearing range, a fact he knew Jim realized. The rest of his men were nearly done suiting up as well, plans were in motion and everything was ready to go for the raid on the large warehouse. Jim was the point man and Simon would direct the whole operation from the outside. Everyone would be connected by radio. Everyone had their place to be and their job to do.

Well, everyone except Sandburg. Jim had told him that he would be staying with Simon and not going inside. And that wasn't something the younger man had been too pleased to hear. No, not pleased at all. I think royally pissed would be a better description.

Jim spoke again, overriding the discontented mutterings of his partner. "Sandburg, look, this is a dangerous situation. There is absolutely no way you are coming with me. And you know it. You've never bugged me about this before. Why now?"

"I know, I know. It's just, oh, I don't know, something feels wrong somehow." Simon turned at the comment, paying more attention. Blair glanced around at the other cops, then back up at Jim, whispering, "I guess I'm just a little edgy."

Jim lifted a hand and squeezed Blair's shoulder, leaning down slightly to talk to him. "I'll be careful, okay, Chief?"

"Be extra careful."

Jim smiled, nodding. "From your mouth to my ear, Chief. Extra careful it is." He shifted his grip to tug at Blair's ponytail. "Now, come on, you can keep Simon company while the rest of us minions do his dirty work."

Several minutes later, Simon and Blair watched over the edge of Simon's car as Jim led the teams to the large, empty-looking warehouse. His voice came clear and calm over the headsets, directing the teams quickly and efficiently. Blair lowered the binoculars, slouching a little to lean against the body of the car. "Why do the bad guys always choose warehouses to set up shop, hm, Simon?"

Not taking his eyes from the operation, Simon replied, "They're cheap. Cheap and big. You lived in one, you should know."

Blair nodded. "Yeah, well, I guess. Still, it wasn't like my first choice of residences, trust me."

Simon watched as Jim stopped next to the building and waited for a few last seconds before the attack. Positions and confirmations were relayed through the headsets in preparation for Simon's command to go forward. "You mean, you wouldn't move back into one if you got the chance?"

"Are you kidding? Move out of the loft? Abandon Jim? Absolutely no way that is ever gonna happen, Simon." He paused. "Not unless Jim wanted me out. And even then I'd fight him every step of the way. But I don't think that could happen, man. At least . . . I don't think it could." Sudden insecurity filled his voice.

That was not what I meant for him to start thinking. Especially not now! Simon took his eyes off the warehouse for half a second to lay a hand on Blair's shoulder. "I don't think it will, Blair. So just stop that train of thought right now. I don't need Ellison pissed at me for putting that kind of idea in your head."

Blair grinned up at Simon. "Yeah, yeah, all right. Consider it stopped."

Grunting in acknowledgment, Simon focused back on the teams surrounding the warehouse. Lifting the binoculars and radio, he saw Jim give the all-clear signal. Simon spoke shortly into the radio. "All teams move in now."

Jim's arm moved down in concert with Simon's voice. The teams moved. Doors flew open. Gunfire filled the air, disturbing the unnatural quiet of a few seconds before. Cigar clenched tightly between his teeth, Simon watched with an intensely serious avidness that only police captains and those in charge of dangerous missions could understand. His attention was focused solely on the operation in front of him, listening to the voices over the radio link, hearing reports of officers who had been hit by return fire, reports of sections cleared, suspects pinned down. The backup teams were called in and soon only Simon and his reluctant companion were left on the outside. As the gunfire slowly tapered off to only occasional shots, the rest of the world could have vanished at the moment in time and he would not have noticed.

But then the young man at his side stumbled backwards, away from the car, falling to the ground, loose gravel shifting beneath his body as he landed hard on his backside. Simon glanced back, a little annoyed at having his concentration broken, but also wanting to be sure that Sandburg was okay. What he saw drove all thoughts of the police raid from his mind -- at least for the few seconds he needed to blurt out his astonishment and shock.

"Sandburg! What --?!?" The kid's face was a pasty white. His eyes were large and round and fixed on something only he could see. As Simon reached for him, Sandburg started to shake his head, low sounds of distress emitting from his lips. No words, just murmurs and mutters. Grabbing one of Sandburg's arms, Simon levered him to his feet and leaned him against the car, trying to divide his attention between the shocky young man and the police action. Not understanding what had happened, Simon kept one hand on Sandburg's arm, feeling the tense muscles trembling violently beneath his hand.

"Sandburg! Blair! What's wrong?" No answer, at least not to him. The younger man simply shook his head again, eyes staring and unfocused. Simon shook him. C'mon, kid, don't do this. Not now. Now is definitely not the right time for something weird to happen.

"Kid, snap out of it!"

Loud bursts of renewed gunfire jerked Simon's attention back to the warehouse. Now what? Setting his worries about Sandburg aside for the moment, he grabbed his radio and demanded, "Report!"

Brown's voice came clear over the radio link, telling Simon that they had discovered a rather well-armed pocket of the smugglers near the back of the warehouse. Ellison and several others were trapped, but gaining ground with every second. Less than a minute later, the gunfire ceased and Jim's voice sounded out over the radio, reporting that they had contained the smugglers. Simon breathed out in relief. He debated briefly telling Jim about Blair, but decided not to, not wanting to risk disrupting his concentration at this critical juncture of the operation. He'd wait until Jim got out of the building and all the suspects were properly handcuffed. He may bite my head off later, but I'll deal with that when it happens.

"S-Simon?"

The voice was weak, hesitant, and a little slurred, but it was definitely a voice Simon was glad to hear. He turned again to look at Blair, his hand still gripping Blair's arm. "Are you okay, Sandburg? What happened?"

Trying to shove himself away from the side of the car, Blair muttered just loud enough for Simon to hear, "It's here, Simon. It's after Jim. We have to warn him. He won't be expecting it."

Simon stiffened in alarm, shooting a wide-eyed look at the warehouse, then back at Blair. "WHAT!?! You mean, 'it', the, uh, thing that's been after the two of you? That 'it'?"

Blair nodded, succeeding in standing, wavering slightly, but managing to stay on his feet. "Yes, that 'it'."

"Did you have some kind of . . . vision or something? Is that how you know?"

Swallowing hard, Blair replied as he stared at the warehouse, "Yeah, a vision, sorta. It, it told me . . ." His voice trailed off, and he shuddered.

Simon's eyes bugged out. "It told you? You mean, that thing," he looked around them, "that thing was here, is here? And it talked to you?"

Blair nodded absently to the incredulous questions, and Simon swore under his breath.

"What did it tell you, Blair?"

"I can't, I can't explain it, Simon. I only know that Jim's in danger. We have to help him. He needs . . . he needs to get out of there. Now." He took a step, probably intending to go around the car and down the slope to the warehouse, but only stumbled again, falling hard against the car.

Lunging forward, Simon grabbed Sandburg, holding him upright. "Will you please stay put?"

"I can't stay put, Simon." Blair shook his head emphatically, but didn't try to move away. "Jim needs me. That thing is gonna get him. He's not strong enough to fight it by himself."

"And you're not strong enough to do anything right now, much less try to walk down there, as if I would even let you. Jim would kill me if I let you go into that kind of situation."

Upset, Blair tried to push away from Simon's strong hands. "You don't understand. Simon, let me go."

"No, Blair, I will not let you go." He shifted one hand to grab the handheld radio. "We can talk to Jim, tell him, I don't know, tell him something to make him realize he needs to be careful. All right? But I cannot just call him out of this. You should know that."

Blair stared at the radio, then at the warehouse, before raising his eyes up to meet Simon's. He stopped struggling. "I know. But . . ." Sighing out, he nodded. "Yeah, okay, call him."

Simon lifted the radio to his mouth, waited for a break in the running reports, then spoke, looking toward the warehouse, as if he could see Jim listening. "Ellison, this is Banks. Report."

Jim's voice came back clear and strong. "Just about done here, sir. Everything's clear."

"Good, good. Maybe once this case is put to bed, I'll give you those days off you've been asking for."

"Sir?" Now Jim sounded a touch confused. Before he could say anything else, Simon went on, hoping that Jim would understand the code.

"Yeah, Blair's been telling me about the great sea winds this time of year. Seems like they add to your enjoyment or something."

There was a long, long pause on the other end, broken by other officers relaying requests for medics and such. Simon and Blair both held their breath, staring alternately at the radio, the warehouse, and each other. Come on, Ellison, think! You know what this means. Finally, Jim replied slowly, carefully.

"Yeah, those seas winds. I, uh, forgot about them. Sandburg still okay with them?"

Simon watched as Blair wilted against the car, his relief that Jim understood very tangible. He laid his other hand on Blair's shoulder, squeezing it. "Yeah, he's okay with them. I think he just wants you to hurry up and finish in there, so the two of you can leave."

"Roger that. I'll see what I can do about that. I -- what was that?"

Blair jerked up, shifting forward to look at the radio, then at the warehouse. Jim continued talking, but no longer to Simon. He rattled off rapid-fire instructions and orders to other officers, ignoring Simon's desire for clarification. Blair whispered, "Simon, what's going on?"

Simon turned to look at the warehouse, shaking his head. "I don't know, Sandburg." He looked down sharply at Blair when the younger man inhaled suddenly. "What? What is it? Another vision?"

"What? No. Simon, where's the shore in relation to here? What direction?"

"Direction? West, of course. Why?"

"Do you know where Jim is in the building? What direction?" He looked up and Simon could see barely restrained panic lighting their blue depths.

A flash of horrified comprehension hit Simon and he swore under his breath. "Sea winds -- the ocean. He's in the west part of the building. What --?" Jim's strident voice from the radio interrupted him, yelling for everyone to clear out of the west side, that the wall at the back of the warehouse was collapsing.

Neither needed Jim's sentinel hearing to hear the distant crashes. Jim's voice continued to shout, herding people away. Then he stopped for a moment, and both men heard him gasp over the open link. Jim's voice lowered to a barely-heard whisper.

"Oh my --" His voice stopped and only the sound of a heavy, roaring wind could be heard. Then the radio on Jim's side of the link cut out with a short, sharp pop, severing their connection.

Blair grabbed the radio from Simon's hand and began to yell into it. "Jim! Jim! Can you hear me? Jim!" When Jim didn't answer immediately, Blair dropped the radio on the hood of the car and started around the car, intent only on covering the distance between himself and his friend as fast as possible. Simon moved faster and grabbed him from behind, wrapping long arms around Blair's waist, pinning his flailing arms down and holding onto the struggling bundle of student as best he could.

"Simon! No! Let me go! Let me go!"

The big captain gritted his teeth and shifted his weight backward carefully, pulling Sandburg's feet off the ground, making the young man try to get away all the more. He could still hear the building settle from the collapse and wasn't about to let Sandburg go running into that kind of danger that would only worsen if the suspects decided to use it as an opportunity to get away. When gunfire erupted from inside the building, Simon knew he'd been right. He hauled Sandburg forcibly around the body of his car, putting it between them and the warehouse, using it as a shield. In his desperate struggle to get loose, Blair threw his head back, probably not intentionally trying to hurt the captain, but Simon had a previous and very painful experience with such a move and evaded it easily.

Once safely behind the car, Simon started talking. "Blair, Blair, come on, now. Settle down. Just wait a few moments. Let the other officers get things settled again. It won't take too long. I don't want you getting hurt. Jim wouldn't want you getting hurt."

"Jim isn't here, Simon. He's in there. Probably hurt. He doesn't know what to do."

"And I suppose you do."

"Yes! I do!"

Momentarily stunned by the emphatic answer, Simon nonetheless kept a tight grip on the student. Finally he turned Blair around, holding him against the car. "Stay!"

"But --"

"No buts. Stay here! We have to wait until the shooting stops. I'm in no mood to dodge bullets today."

Sandburg fidgeted a moment, then burst out, "We don't have time to wait." He wilted against the car, eyelids shuttering closed. "I can't, I can't stay here much longer."

Simon frowned. "What are you talking about? Stay where? Of course, you're staying here."

Blair shook his head, frustration and desperation in his voice as he tried to explain. "No, Simon, you don't understand. When I say 'here', I mean 'here', as in the physical world. I keep seeing flashes of things, of trees, jungle stuff."

"Stuff from this spirit world Jim was talking about earlier."

"Yeah. It's calling me. I need to be with Jim. I have to be with him. I don't have a choice. We don't have a choice. Please, Simon." He opened his eyes and stared up at the captain, blue eyes dark and pleading.

Simon stared back at him, then at the warehouse. The gunfire between the police and the suspects still echoed from the building. We cannot go down there, but the kid says he needs to be with Jim. A thought occurred to him and he turned back to Sandburg. "You need to be physically with him to do this?"

"I . . ." Blair blinked. "I always thought so. But maybe . . . maybe not. I guess at the train, we weren't, not exactly at least. So maybe . . ."

Simon quickly moved back as Sandburg sunk down to the ground to lean against the tire of Simon's car, falling easily into a lotus position. Blair looked up at him, opening his mouth to say something, but the captain lifted his hand, interrupting before he could even begin.

"Do what you have to do, kid. I'll keep watch for you." He added gently after a moment, "Go to Jim. He needs you."

Blair smiled briefly up at him in gratitude, then closed his eyes and breathed deeply and rhythmically. As Simon watched, Sandburg relaxed and seemed to fade away from the real world, entering another plane that so few had access to. Simon whispered, "Good luck, kid."

Standing vigil over the apparently meditating young man, Simon returned his attention to the warehouse and the still scattered gunfire. Snatching up the handheld radio from the hood of his car, he said, "Someone give me a status report. What's happening?"

A few seconds later, Rafe's accented voice came over the link. "Back wall collapsed, Captain. Everyone got clear except Ellison, and we've nearly regained control over the current situation."

"Good. Any word on Ellison?"

"No, sir, not yet. There hasn't been time to --"

The radio fuzzed out as a flash of lightning lit up the sky. Simon jumped slightly in reaction and looked around, only then realizing that the formerly bright mid-afternoon had grayed out into a hazy, overcast day. No rain had appeared, but Simon knew it would only be a matter of time before it started to drizzle on them. He growled in frustration. "Great. Just great." After giving the radio a good shake, he fiddled with the knobs, trying to get a moment or two of clear reception through the fuzz. "Rafe. Can you hear me? Can anyone hear me?"

In between static and fluctuating volume, Simon could barely make out the reply. "Captain . . . . yes . . . . connection . . . . What . . . ."

Thunder clapped loudly above him, nearly on top of him, sounding angry and defiant, echoing out across the landscape. Car alarms went off down the street. Windows on the other warehouses nearby cracked and splintered, raining glass down onto the street. Simon nearly dropped the radio as he flinched and raised both hands to cover his ears. He glared up at the sky, squinting in reaction from the noise. "This is not the time to have a storm, you know. You couldn't have waited maybe 10 minutes? Just that long?"

Looking down at Blair, he was surprised to see the young man still in a meditative state -- even if his posture and breathing indicated he was anything but calm. His eyes moved rapidly beneath his eyelids; his hands clenched and unclenched on his legs. Lightning crackled and thunder roared again and Sandburg, eyes firmly closed, flinched -- moments before each one.

Simon's eyes widened. He reacted before, as if he knew, or as if the storm is a result of something else. He rubbed his face with his free hand. This is not what I signed on for when I pulled Jim into Major Crimes -- or agreed to letting Sandburg in as a consultant.

A whimper of pain spilled from Blair's tightly compressed lips. Instinctually, Simon leaned down and laid a hand gently on the top of Blair's head -- the only part of the student he could reach without bending too far over for his comfort. The contact sizzled through his hand and up his arm, sending a jangle of electricity-like feelings dancing along his nerve endings.

Jerking his hand away, Simon stared at it, then at Blair. What in the world was that? And do I really want to know?

More lightning and thunder crashed around and above him, arguing with each other for dominance of the still cloudless, gray sky. Sounds like a war zone up there. He paused and straightened abruptly, eyes wide, looking first at the warehouse, then down at Sandburg. It is a war zone. Their war zone. Blair flinched back from the storm, huddling against the tire, lips parting with a low sound of denial. Simon hesitated, then lowered his hand again, resting it atop Blair's head. The shock surged up his arm another time, but he was prepared for it and didn't pull back. And for some strange reason he didn't want to contemplate, the contact seemed to calm Sandburg a little.

Leaving his hand where it was, he glanced up at the warehouse when the gunfire finally ceased. The radio came back on and between the residual static, Rafe's steady voice reported to him that all suspects had been secured and that he, Brown, and a few others were headed back to find Ellison.

Simon winced as more lightning flashed and thunder rolled in the aftermath of Rafe's word. The storm was getting worse, more ferocious, and more deadly sounding to Simon's ears. Time's running short, I have a feeling. These two had better finish whatever it is they're doing. He shifted and glanced around him in the stormy grayness, muttering softly, "Hurry up, guys."

Mindlessly chewing on his cigar, Simon watched both the warehouse and Blair, finding most of his attention wanted to stay with the young man. His words from just an hour earlier came back to him. 'Of course I'm worried, Sandburg. You're my friends. Why wouldn't I be worried?' He shook his head. "And now I'm more worried. Maybe I'll just stop asking for explanations on what's going on. I think I found out more than I ever wanted to know."

Lightning flashed again, followed quickly by thunder, and Simon blinked. Was that . . . No, no, that . . . that couldn't be what I thought it was. Could it? He shook his head. Now I'm seeing things. Teach me to listen to the two of them and their mumbo-jumbo sentinel stuff. I -- More lightning, longer this time, flared around him, illuminating the grayness of the day.

Simon's mouth fell open and his cigar dropped to the gravel, ignored and forgotten as he stared at the soundless phantom images superimposed on the police vehicles, warehouses, and gravel-packed road. He saw the jungle landscape of Peru, wind whipping violently through the trees, sending debris flying -- that it overlaid the nearly windless real physical world made it all the more surreal. He saw Jim and Blair -- not as he normally knew them, but as he supposed Jim had tried to describe to him -- as a Sentinel and shaman.

He also saw who he supposed was the enemy -- another figure, his face shrouded in darkness, but recognizable as a man, also dressed to match the time and place of their battle. However, this man wore what Simon realized was a combination of both Jim the warrior and Blair the shaman. Which, if I guess right, would make him doubly dangerous.

The light vanished and Simon shook his head, trying to reorient himself. I can't believe I saw that. Was it real? Another bolt and again the images appeared before him. I guess it is real. In the strobe light effect of the lightning that struck faster and more often, Simon watched the silent battle.

<<The enemy struck down Blair, throwing him hard into a tree. Then he went after Jim who stood half-dazed several yards away, a crossbow dangling forgotten from one hand, the other hand reaching out toward Blair.>>

Simon muttered, "Come on, one of you do something, just don't stand there. Snap out of it, Ellison!"

<<Blair pulled himself up, using the tree for balance, one hand gripping his head. Jim shook himself at the same time, raising the crossbow at the enemy. His aim wavered for a few moments before steadying, then he slowly moved forward, forcing the enemy back so he could get near Blair. The younger man walked carefully over to join Jim, eyeing the third man warily. The enemy sneered haughtily at them, his mouth moving to say something in the silent void.>>

Simon scowled. I really wish I could hear something. This is all too eerie.

<<Jim just glared, eyes cold and hard. Blair, defiant as always, shot something back.>>

Reading lips would also come in handy.

The crackle of the radio still in his other hand and the sound of sirens and screeching brakes broke Simon's concentration, and he stumbled back from Sandburg, thrown out of the shadowy drama. Taking a few deep breaths, he looked around, seeing the ambulance pulling to a halt in front of the warehouse below him. The radio squawked at him again and this time he recognized Brown's voice.

"Captain, this is Brown, do you read?"

"Yes, this is Banks. What have you got?"

"We found Ellison."

Simon closed his eyes briefly to send up a word of thanks, then asked, "Is he okay?"

"He's unconscious, Captain, but he's breathing and doesn't appear to be hurt. He was trapped and his radio smashed. We're not sure why he's out, but he might've gotten hit by something when the wall fell in."

Lighting tore across the sky and Simon yelled over the following thunder into the radio. "Get him to the medics and get the suspects packed up. I want to get out of here before this storm gets any nastier."

"Roger that, sir."

Meanwhile, I have some men I need to check up on. Clicking off the radio and setting it aside, Simon reached down a hand again to lay it on Sandburg's head, wondering if he really wanted to see those images again and at the same time hoping that he would. I have to know what will happen, what is happening, especially if they don't win. The intense jolt of contact nearly made him pull back, but he gritted his teeth and refused to back away. The images reformed in the grayness in front of him, dancing in, around, over, and through trees, buildings and vehicles.

<<The enemy raised his hands and a glow appeared. Jim and Blair faltered in their movement forward to confront him. Their expressions were identical in confusion and worried fear as they stepped back. Then Blair stopped, shaking his head as if trying to clear it. Jim stopped with him, standing just behind him. The young shaman raised one hand, palm facing out, toward the enemy. Behind him, Jim lifted a hand and rested it on Blair's shoulder, both supporting and protecting the young man. Blair's mouth moved in a few short words, and energy began to pulse from his hand.>>

Simon's mouth dropped open again in shock. What is he doing? More importantly, how is he doing it? I know he said he was a shaman, but this, this, I didn't know he meant he could do that kind of stuff. He could feel his view of reality shifting and his perception of the young man greatly altering. And maybe it should.

<<Gusts of wind and light swirled around all three men, buffeting them. But all three held firm. Lines of strain appeared on Blair's face and his hand shook. Jim's hand tightened on Blair's shoulder and he moved closer, more fully supporting the young shaman's body, sheltering him from some of the greater winds. Blair's lips firmed in a line and he thrust his hand out harder, with more energy, sending the winds higher, making the light brighter. And the enemy shrunk back, hands turning inward, protecting himself from the light. Blair's mouth moved, then Jim's.>>

Sound suddenly broke through the barrier.

<<The roar of a wild animal joined in, followed briefly by the howl of a distant wolf.>>

Simon's eyes widened with astonishment . That had to Jim's spirit guide. But that wolf, I don't know. What's a wolf got to do with Peru? Somehow I don't think they were expecting to hear it any more that I was.

<<Both men looked momentarily surprised by the wolf howl, which sounded so out of place against the Peruvian jungle backdrop. But they didn't let that startlement distract them from sending away their enemy. The light intensified further and further, until . . . everything whited out in a flash of brightness.>>

Again, Simon was tossed roughly out of the vision, gasping for breath, but this time he managed to keep in contact with Sandburg. The tingling electrical sensation finally stopped and he slowly lifted his hand, wiggling his fingers, glad that it had finally disappeared. Below him, Blair inhaled sharply, eyes flying open as the last bit of thunder cut off in mid-clap. The grayness vanished from the day, and the sun lit up the afternoon skies. Blair jerkily pushed himself to his feet.

"Jim."

Simon grasped his arm, this time to help him up. Together they ran down the hill to the warehouse, Sandburg slowly regaining his balance, though to Simon, the kid still seemed a little out of it. And why shouldn't he be?!? He just did stuff I thought only happened in books and children's cartoons! Simon talked softly as they neared the warehouse. "Rafe and Brown found Jim. He's okay. He was just unconscious. Did you . . . ?" He paused, then went on. "Did you win?" I just have to know for sure.

Before Sandburg could answer, both heard the annoyed, although a bit slurred, voice of Jim Ellison from just beyond the entrance of the warehouse. "No, I do not need to go the hospital. Let me up. I'm fine." Blair tossed Simon his trademark grin, then bounded quickly beyond him, obviously wanting to see his partner.

Simon followed, lengthening his strides to mostly keep up, laughing a little in relief. "I guess that would be a yes."

The paramedics rolled a very grumpy, very annoyed Jim out on the gurney just as Sandburg reached the entrance. The young man skidded to a stop a few feet away and just stared wide-eyed at Jim, not saying anything. Simon frowned, quickening his pace to reach Blair's side. Jim, eyes watching Blair's every movement, struggled to get out of the straps that held him to the gurney.

"I am not going to the hospital, guys, so just forget it. Simon, tell them I'm fine, will you?" His eyes locked with Simon's for a moment, the look somewhere between a plea and a demand.

Simon hesitated, torn between his worry about Jim's admittedly hard head, if he really did get knocked out, and the realization that Sandburg was quickly falling into a state of, of, of what, post-vision, post-shamanistic shock, and that he needed Jim. He opened his mouth to say something, but then Blair moved from his side and joined Jim, reaching down to undo the straps himself in angry, desperate jerks.

The head paramedic stepped forward, intending to pull Blair away, but Simon shook his head. "No, no, it's all right. If Ellison says he's okay, then he's okay." The paramedic grumbled but acquiesced, signaling another to help Blair with the straps. Jim threw off the offending ties, then sat up, bracing himself on the gurney as he slid off. Simon stepped forward to support him if need be, but he saw that Sandburg had it all taken care of as the younger man slid an arm around Jim's waist and pulled one of Jim's arms over his shoulders.

Jim looked over at Simon as the captain gestured back to the cars. "If you're not willing to go to the hospital, then why don't the two of you get out of here? Go home. Rest a bit. I'll stop by later and get your report." Nodding his thanks, Jim shifted Blair in the direction of the gentle slope leading to the cars and started walking.

Simon eyed the two of them as they walked slowly away from the warehouse and the ambulance. Somehow I think that support goes both ways. At the bottom of the hill, out of hearing distance, they stopped, Blair looking up at Jim. He laid a hand on Jim's chest, a hand that from even that far away Simon could tell was trembling. He said something and Jim shook his head, pulling Blair into a quick hug, wrapping both arms around the smaller man. Jim met Simon's eyes across the distance and Simon nodded, an approving smile on his face. He whispered, knowing Jim could hear it, "Take him home, Jim, he's had a hard day and so have you." Jim nodded back at him, then moved back to herd Blair up the hill.

Turning back to the warehouse, Simon grinned. Yep, it definitely goes both ways. Good thing, too. He patted his pockets, searching for another cigar as he strode inside the building. He called out, "Brown, Rafe, report!"

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

Simon raised his hand to knock on the loft door only to have it open before he could. Jim appeared, holding a finger to his lips. Stepping inside, Simon looked around, then saw Blair stretched out on one of the couches, an afghan over his very asleep form. Jim closed the door with a quiet snick, then said softly, "He pretty much crashed when we got here an hour ago. I didn't have the heart to wake him and tell him to go to bed."

"That tired, is he?"

Jim nodded, waving Simon over to the kitchen. "Yeah, exhausted. These little, um, confrontations do that to him, well, both of us, actually, but more him than me."

Leaning against the counter and watching Jim stir something in a small pot, Simon wondered how to tell Jim what he saw, or if he even should. They were willing to tell me, to confide in me, to believe that I wouldn't toss what they told me totally out the window as crazy. I should probably return the favor. It's their little world I saw, anyway. What could it hurt?

"I didn't know the counter top was that intriguing, sir." Simon looked up and caught the teasing grin on Jim's features. Simon rolled his eyes, and Jim laughed softly before asking, "What is it, Simon? Something's on your mind. I can tell."

Simon glanced over at the still sleeping Blair, then looked back at Jim. "I'm not quite sure how to tell you this, Jim, so I'll just say it. I saw what happened between the two of you and the other shadowed figure."

Jim blinked at him, mouth open. "You what?"

"I saw it, well, parts of it. Look, when Sandburg was meditating or whatever, he seemed upset, so I sorta put my hand on his head. I thought maybe knowing I was still there, keeping an eye on things would give him some measure of calmness. And then, during the lightning flashes, I started to see these phantom images. You, Blair, and the other guy. There was no noise, just pictures and movement. At the end, I saw you and the kid winning, at least until it got too bright and I had to look away."

Jim blinked again. Then he gathered himself, closing his mouth, lost for words. He stirred the pot contents slowly, contemplating for several long minutes. Finally he swallowed and spoke. "Sandburg's gonna be bouncing off the walls in his excitement when I tell him about this. And he'll probably be mad he slept through your visit. I'm sure he'll want to hear it from you first hand."

Simon chuckled, feeling somewhat relieved that Jim accepted what he told him without too much comment. They seemed to have mutually decided without even discussing it to put it aside for the moment. Which is fine by me.

A groggy voice told him a moment later that the topic hadn't been dismissed yet. "Hear what? What will I be mad about?"

Jim threw a grin at Simon who dropped his head in his hands and sighed. "Simon's got a story to tell you, Chief." He dried his hands and walked around the kitchen island to join Blair on the couch, as he struggled out from under the afghan and sat up, rubbing at his face with one hand.

"A story? Huh?"

Simon turned to see Jim sit down beside the young man, laughing gently at the half-asleep, half-glazed-over look on Blair's face. "Maybe we should wait until you're more awake, Sandburg. You don't seem real with it right now."

Blair forced his eyes open wide. "I'm awake, I'm awake, see?"

Simon joined in with Jim's laughter, then shoved away from the counter to sit on the opposite couch. "Sure you are, Sandburg." Blair started to protest, but Simon lifted a hand. "But I'll tell you anyway. If anything you'll be awake by time I'm finished. Or so Jim tells me."

Grinning, Jim said, "Oh, trust me, Simon, he will be."

Blair leaned forward, shoving the afghan aside impatiently, blue eyes bright with expectation. "Well?"

Simon had a feeling that it was going to be a very, very long night.

- The End -

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