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Raul's Victory
Fan Fiction

 

 

Vow Of Silence AU - Background

This AU takes the characters of The Sentinel and changes things again.  Sentinels and Guides are known in this universe.  Guides can't talk, but communicate with Guide Sign (sign language) and telepathically with their Sentinels.  * indicate Guide Sign * //indicates telepathic communication//.

Territorial Imperative
By Victory

Jim broke every speed limit trying to make it to Sentinel And Guide Mercy hospital in record time.  His connection was weak, but getting stronger as he got closer.  Trying to drive and think about how his life had changed so dramatically over the last four weeks was proving dangerous for the other drivers on the streets of Cascade.

 Four Weeks Earlier:

 Sentinel James Ellison entered the Major Crime bullpen in a foul mood.  A Storm Warning had gone out the moment the officer at the front door noticed the Jim without his guide.  While everyone knew Jim Ellison usually worked alone while his guide was at school, they also knew that his guide, Blair Sandburg was the only one who could keep his sentinel calm when he was angry. 

Sentinels and guides were partners for life and they need each other to survive.  Typically, sentinels and guides were paired early in their childhoods, however Jim Ellison was not your typical sentinel.  He had a father who felt it was a stigmatism to the Ellison name to be a "freak" which forced Jim to suppress his sentinel abilities.  It worked at least until, at age 16, when Jim ran off and joined the army, where he was diagnosed as a latent sentinel.  The army started the search for a guide for Jim with no luck.  When his unit ended up MIA on a mission over Peru, the army stopped their search.  The details of those 18 months were classified, but 22 year-old Jim Ellison came out of the Peruvian jungle bonded to a 9 year-old American guide.

 "Where is he?" Jim yelled to no one specifically.

 "Who Jim?"  Detective Henry Brown asked.

 "Who?" Where these people Detectives?  "Blair, thatís who.  Someone picked him up at school and his teacher said it was a officer with Major Crimes."

 "Maybe Captain Banks knows."  Rafe suggested.

 "Maybe."  Jim stormed to the Captainís office.  Poised to knock, Jimís hearing picked up the familiar heartbeat coming from within.  Loosing all rational thought when his guide was concerned, Jim stormed through the door to confront his captain.   What he saw made him stop dead in his tracks.  Lying down under a blanket, was Blair, sound asleep.

 "Just come right in Detective."   Captain Simon Banks said sarcastically.

 Jim turned toward his Captain and growled as he moved to Blairís side.

 Simon came around his desk.  "Heís fine Jim.  Just tired.  The officer picked him up before naptime.  Heís been asleep for about an hour now."

 "Why Simon?"  Jim asked as he pulled the blanket back to make a sensory sweep of his guideís condition.  In his sleep, Blair registered the absence of the blanketís warmth and reached to pull the blanket back up.  Jim smiled.  Blair hated being cold.  "Sh Little One.  Itís okay."  Jim let his hand brush Blairís cheek and his mind connect with Blairís.  He immediately leaned into both touches and settled back into a deep sleep.  Certain Blair was fine Jim tucked the blankets around Blair and stood to face his Captain.  "Why did an officer pull Blair out of school?  He needs to be in school."

 "I know Jim and Iím sorry about the way it was done, but you were unavailable and the damn Mayor needed Blair to verify his statement in your report of the Carson case."

 "How, by pointing and clicking?  He hasnít finished his Guide Sign studies yet."

 "He may not be able to talk, but he had his data pad.  It took longer, but Blair can type pretty fast."

 "Hurumph!  It couldnít have waited a few hours so I couldíve been here and he couldíve stay in school?  He misses too much as it is."

"I know Jim, but the Mayor insisted, besides, Blair does a great job here with you and still gets straight Aís in school.  Heís a quick study for someone so young who hasnít had any formal training.  The Mayor is just nervous because one of his witnesses is a 14 year-old guide, who is sometimes just as difficult as his father."

 Jim smiled proudly.  "Heís a chip off the old block."

 "Block-head maybe.  Blair may be your son and guide, but I suspect he got his brains from his mother."  Simon smiled as Jim grinned. Another crisis averted, Simon thought.  "Howís the Johnson case coming along?"  Simon asked as he moved back to his desk.

 Jim left Blairís side and took a seat in front of his Captainís desk.  "Good.  I received a tip from my man on the street and we should be able to get a million dollars of drugs off the streets by next week."

 "Great.  As soon as you wrap up the Johnson case, I thought you and Blair could join me and Daryl and take a week and go camping."

 "That sounds like a great idea.  Blair has a small break from school in two weeks and he really needs the down time.  He pushes himself so hard sometimes and then other times heís the typical 14 year-old getting into trouble."

 "Trouble huh?"  Simon smirked.

 "Trouble magnet, sir.  A couple of weeks ago he brought home this new computer game that messed with his empathy so badly that he went into empathic shock.  I had to rush him to the ER."

 "Where did he get the game?"

 "From Ďfriendsí he said.  I was so angry and worried at the same time.  He recovered quickly after we bonded but then I told him I wanted to approve of any new games from now on."

 "I bet that went over well."  Simon smiled at the picture that popped into his head.

 "Not at all.  He yelled and argued and only stopped being rude after a few well-placed swats.  Then I sent him to bed."

"Yelled?  But guides canít talk."

 "I hear him clear as a bell Simon."  Jim tapped the side of his head.  "He can project pretty loudly when heís upset."

 Simon laughed.  "Well, why donít you take the rest of the afternoon off and take your little trouble magnet with you.  He can finish his nap at home just as easily as here."

"Sure Simon."  Jim stood up and bundled his guide into his arms.  Blair snuggled close and sighed.  Jim smiled as Blair projected a question.  //Jim?//

 "Yes, Little One.  Go back to sleep."

 //íKay//

 "Simon, Iíll see you tomorrow."

 "Have a good evening Jim and tell Blair thank you for helping with the Mayor."

 "Will do.  Good night sir."   Jim left the Captainís office and shifted Blairís dead weight in order to snag the boyís backpack.  He was much calmer as he left the police station.

**********

 Jim approached the hospital and found a parking place near the emergency doors.  After quickly locking his service revolver in the truck, he all but ran to the emergency door.  Flashes of the last time he and Blair were here only weeks ago and the problems that followed, entered Jimís mind as he approached the admitting desk.

**********

 Jim was stirring the spaghetti sauce for dinner when he heard a crash come from Blairís room.

 "Chief?  Are you okay?"

 //Fine, Jim, no problem//

  "What are you doing?"  Jim wiped his hands off on a towel and walked toward Blairís bedroom.  Before he could enter, Blair came out and quickly shut the door.

 //Hey Jim.  Dinner ready yet?// Blair projected nervously.

 "Soon.  What donít you want me to see Chief?"  Jim tried to use his sight to see through the window into Blairís room but Blair was in the way.

 //Nothing Jim, honest//

 "Then let me see, if itís nothing."  Jim crossed his arms over his chest.

 //Really, itís nothing.  Boy dinner sure smells great//

 "Move."

 //What?//

 "I said, move.  As in away from the door."

 //ButÖ//

 "One."

 //Jim really itís nothing//

 "Two."

 //Daaaad// Blair moved away from the door.

 "Thank you."  Jim opened the door and stared at the mess in Blairís room.  Jim noticed all of the books and toys from his bookcase were on the floor.  Some of the more fragile things were broken and pushed under the bed.  The bookcase was upright, but he could tell it had fallen over.  There was only one way the bookcase could have fallen over and only one thing Blair could have been after.

 //I can explain// Blair quickly projected.

 Jim turned to his son and silently counted to ten and stretched out his hand, palm up.

 //What?//  Blair tried to bluff.

 "One."

 //What?//   Blair moved backwards slowly.

 "Two."

 //ButÖ// Blair didnít make it out of arms reach before Jim said, "Three."  Jim dragged Blair back into his room with a couple firm swats and set him firmly on the bed. 

 "Where is it Blair?"

Blair, rubbing his backside, saw the look Jim was giving him and knew he had lost.  He reached under his pillow and pulled out the computer game disk and handed it to Jim.

 "How?"  Jim made motions with his hands toward the messy room.

 //I tried to climb the bookcase and it fell over// Blair hung his head.  He knew he had disobeyed Jim, but he couldnít resist the temptation.  Something drew him to the disk.

 "Clean this mess up.  Weíll talk after dinner."  Jim didnít wait to see if his order was being followed because he could feel Blair projecting how sorry he was.

Blair started to clean up and Jim went back to finishing dinner.  Jim could hear Blair cleaning and sniffling.  Twenty minutes later, Jim called Blair to the table. 

"Dinnerís ready Chief.  Letís eat."  Blair came out and washed up.  He put his hand on Jimís shoulder and projected, //Iím really sorry Jim//

 "I know Blair.  Letís eat."

 After dinner, Blair did the dishes and Jim relaxed with the paper in the living room.  Jim was absorbed in the paper when Blair entered the room.  Thinking he had zoned, Blair shook Jimís shoulder and projected, //Jim?  Are you zoned man?//

 Jim jumped when he felt Blairís hand and mind brush his.  "I wasnít zoned Chief.  Just reading and thinking."

 //Oh// Blair fidgeted from foot to foot, unsure what to project.

 "Come sit down son."  Jim patted the cushion next to him so Blair sat down, but couldnít look at Jim.  "All I want to know is why you chose to disobey me?"

 //I donít know.  I guess I was bored and tired of all the other games//

 "Even knowing the game could make you sick?"  Blair shrugged his shoulders.  "How did you know it was a top of the bookcase?"

 //I saw you put it up there when my back was turned//

 "If your back was turned, how did you see me?"

 //My mirror//

 Jim looked at the innocent looking computer game.  Why so much trouble over a computer game?

 //Iím really sorry.   I wasnít thinking//

 "I guess we both werenít.  I should have just thrown the game disk away.  From now on you need to ask permission to use the computer."

 //ButÖ//

 "Go get the paddle Chief."

 //ButÖ//

 "You know the rules young man, now go and bring it here."

 Blair headed upstairs and retrieved the dreaded paddle from Jimís dresser.  He slowly came down the stairs and stood in front of Jim.  Jim stretched out his hand and Blair gave him the paddle.  Jim quickly administered a sound spanking to Blair.  The only sounds heard in the loft where the cracks of the paddle and Blairís sobs.  Jim however, could hear Blair projecting his pleads for him to stop, how sorry he was, and that he would never disobey Jim again. 

 Jim ended the spanking and gathered Blair to his chest to calm him down.  "Shh, Little One.  Youíre okay.  Iím done and I forgive you."

 //Iím so sorry Jim// Blair cried.

 "I know.  Iím throwing this disk away this time Chief.  I should have done it last week, but I guess I got distracted."

 //Why?//

 "You know why Blair.  You started playing this game and your emotions went through the roof.  You ended up in shock in the emergency room."

 //ButÖ// Jim ended any further comments with an additional swat to Blairís already sore backside.

 "No arguments young man.  If we have to have this discussion again I will be discussing it with your bare backside.  Are we clear?"

 //Yes sir//  Blair nodded and wiped the moisture from his eyes.

 "Good.  I want you to go wash up and get ready for bed.  Then we can work on your homework."

//Iím getting really good at signing Jim//

 "Thatís great Chief.  Then youíll be able to communicate without me or your data pad."

 //Iíll always need you Jim.  Youíre my dad//

 "And Iíll always need you son.  Youíre my guide.  The other half of my soul."

 //I love you// Blair got up and went to do what he was asked.  Jim tossed the computer game into the trashcan and decided to take the whole bag out to the dumpster just to be safe.  Blair watched Jim take out the trash and started to plot a way to save the disk, the previous lesson all but forgotten.

 **********

 "Sir?  Can I help you?"  Jim was jolted back to reality by the desk nurse.

 "Huh?  Oh yeah.  Iím here about my guide."

 "His name sir?"

 "Blair Sandburg-Ellison."

 The nurse used her computer to search for Blair while Jim paced at the slowness.  "Yes, here he is.  There must have been a mix-up at admitting because it says here you were called an hour ago."

 "Yes, I was.  Why was that so odd?  Heís been missing for four weeks."

 "Four weeks?  Oh dear, how are you doing sentinel?"  The nurse asked with sympathy.

 "Good, but Iíd be better if you could tell me where Blair was."

 "Heís not here in the ER anymore.  They transferred him to the guide Psych ward two weeks ago."

 "TWO WEEKS?" Thundered Jim.  "You mean to tell me, my guide, who I need to keep my sanity, has been here for two weeks?"

 "Thatís what the database shows.  You should have known by the link he was here."

 "I would if the link hadnít been severed."  Jim growled.

 "That could explain a lot.  Let me contact the doctor right now and if you could wait a couple minutes I will make sure she knows itís an emergency."

 "Please hurry.  Blairís not just my guide, heís also my son."

 "I will be back before you even miss me."  The nurse hurried off and true to her word was back with Blairís doctor five minutes later.

 "Sentinel Ellison?"  The doctor was young, but held herself with as much authority as a seasoned doctor.  Jim however, didnít even notice how young she was.

 "Yes, Dr. ?"

 "Hough, Anita Hough."

 "Dr. Hough.  Howís Blair?"

 "Nurse Jackson told me what you said about your connection and it fits with what we found two weeks ago when Blair was brought in."

 "How come no one called me before now Doctor?"  Jim asked coldly.

 "Letís go up to the Psych floor and we can talk in my office."

 "Iíd really like to see Blair."

 "You will, but I need some information first."

 "Fine, letís get this over with."  Jim and the doctor headed up on the elevator.  Once in her office, Jim reluctantly sat down.

 "Mr. Ellison, Blair was brought in here two weeks ago in empathic shock.  The EMTís who transported him reported that Blairís sentinel died and that was the reason for the shock.  We verified the information with the PD and they said, Blair was found in the home of Sentinel Alex Barnes. Sentinel Barnes was found dead on the scene apparently from a severe zone-out"

 "Barnes is the sentinel that kidnapped Blair."

 "Apparently, the guide, the officers assumed belonged to Sentinel Barnes, was actually Blair. His guide ID ring was still in his ear and it also verified he was Sentinel Barnes guide."

 "What?  Blair didnít have an ID tag in his ear."

 "Really?   Thatís unusual."

 "His mother was a hippie.  She recognized Blair had guide potential, so she took him out of the country.  We meet in Peru and after we bonded, he returned with me, but I never had his ear pierced."

 "But you did have him tagged?"  Dr. Hough inquired.

 "Certainly, itís the law."  Jim paused.  "How come the officers didnít recognize Blair?  Most people at the PD know what Blair looks like."

 "I agree they normally would, but Blair doesnít look like the Missing persons bulletin we received either."

 "Then how did you know to call me if you didnít know where he was tagged?"

 "Well Detective, I noticed the nipple ring this morning and took a closer look, simply out of curiosity, and found out that it was really an ID tag.  How did you ever think of such a thing?"

 "I was in covert ops Doc.  Itís beneficial to keep the fact that Blairís a guide secret while working in law enforcement.  Itís just a standard ID tag, but I think Iím going to reconsider adding a tracking device."

 The doctor smiled and continued.  "Well, we scanned it and that little ring gave us conflicting information.  Blair hasnít been able to tell us his name, just a lot of incoherent signing, that Iím afraid pointed to Blair as Sentinel Barnes killer.  With the information from the tag, it would make sense if Blair intentionally zoned Barnes if she was the cause of his abduction."

 "Back up for a minute Doc.  Youíre saying that Blair could have intentionally killed a sentinel?"

 "It could have been subconsciously.  He knew Barnes wasnít his sentinel, but heís still showing signs of a guide whose sentinel is dead, but youíre obviously not dead."

 "No, but our connection was severed some how.  Thatís how I knew Blair was missing as quickly as I did.  I thought he was dead."

 "Well, we can clear up this mess later, what Iím more concerned with is Blair.  He isnít eating.  I feel heís trying to follow you in death, unaware that youíre not dead.   I would like to see if you can successfully bond with him again.  If you canít, Iím afraid weíll loose him."

 "Letís go try then.  I can feel a fledgling bond already."

 "I should warn you, you may not recognize him when you first see him."

 Jim just nodded.  He could feel his guide near for the first time in weeks and it was having a very heady effect on him.  Walking toward the locked Psych ward, Jim thought back to when the connection was lost.

 **********

 Blair was supposed to be sleeping, but he lay in the dark, listening to Jim lock up the loft, waiting for the opportunity to slip out to retrieve the computer disk when Jim went to bed.  Waiting for a couple hours after the loft got quiet, Blair quietly turned on a white noise generator to mask his escape down the fire escape to the back alley to look for the disk.  He wasnít thinking clearly because all he was concerned with was finding the disk. 

 As he approached the dumpster, Blair felt strong emotions behind him.  He turned quickly and saw a tall blonde woman and two very big men.

 "Hello Blair."  The woman sneered as she aimed a trank-gun at Blair and fired.  The two goons caught the boy before he hit the pavement.  "Tisk tisk.  Another young empath hooked on my computer game.  Itís a most effective drug."

 "What now Alex?"

 "Put him in the van and letís get back to the warehouse.  I can sever his bond there."  Three adults and one young guide disappeared into the Cascade darkness.  An hour later, Alex injected Blair with an experimental chemical that would block Blairís empathy and sever his bond with Jim.  The moment the bond was broken, Jim Ellison shot out of bed, screaming Blairís name.

 **********

 When Jim approached the cell Blair was in, he became restless.  The doctor recognized the early stages of a sentinel wanting to bond.  She hoped Blair would except that Jim was real and not his imagination.

 Dr. Hough opened the cell door and the both watched Blair curl up tighter into the corner.  At first Jim didnít recognize Blair.  He was too thin, covered in bruises and his long curly hair had been trimmed short.  The fear in his eyes was what really broke Jimís heart though. 

 "Mr. Ellison?"

 "What?"  Jim never turned away from Blair.

 "Does Blair know Guide Sign?"

 "Not all of it.  He spent the first 9 years of his life traveling in other countries and the last five of that in Peru with a local tribe after his mother was killed.  My Ranger unit crashed and the tribe took me in and it was there I met Blair and we bonded.  Since he was so young, when we returned to the states, I legally adopted him.  He never had formal training before these last four years.  Heís doing well, but he relays on his data pad too much."

 "That would explain why he doesnít communicate.  Itís made things a lot harder this last couple of weeks."

 "Iím sorry.  I should have made him work harder in school and not so much at the station, but Iíve just been too busy to keep after him."

 "Donít worry about it, detective.  Letís get you reunited with your guide." 

 Jim approached Blair slowly.  The desire to bond was getting hard to control, but he didnít want to spook Blair.  "Hey Chief?"  Blair just shook his head "no" and emitted a high-pitched keening noise.

 "Doc?"  Jim turned to the doctor with concern.

 "Heís voicing his distress.  Thatís the only indication weíve had that he was upset.  That and the tears."

 "Oh Chief."  Jim knelt down in front of Blair.  "Come on Blair.  Itís Jim.  Dad.  Come on Little One, please look at me."

 Blair looked up and blinked back the tears.  He tilted his head, as if in thought, and tentatively reached his hand out to Jim.  Jim took Blairís hand and immediately the bond between them flared back to life.  A voice gone for the last four-weeks, was felt as Blair projected his confusion.

 //Dad?//

 "Yes Little One.  Itís me."  Jim gathered Blair into his arms as Blair tried to burrow under Jimís skin.  Both crying.

 //Am I dead?//  Blair projected.

 "No Blair, youíre not dead and neither am I."  Jim smiled.

 //I thought you were dead.  I couldnít feel you// Blair sobbed.

 "I thought I lost you too.  Youíre safe now though."  Jim rocked Blair until he cried himself to sleep.

 "Detective Ellison?"  Dr. Hough whispered.

 "Yeah doc?"

 "Iím going to go get a regular sentinel/guide room set-up so we can give you two some space to wash up and rest."

 "Okay doc.  And doc?"

 "Yes?"

 "Thank you for giving me my soul back.  Itís been a rough four weeks."

 "Youíre very welcome sentinel."

 An hour later, Blair was still asleep but in a warm bed in a sentinel/guide room.  Jim was more relaxed than he had been in the last four weeks.  He could still remember the emptiness he felt when Blair was ripped away from him.  The dread of finding Blairís room empty with a white noise generator on. 

 **********

 He tracked Blair down the back stairs and over toward the dumpster.  He could tell that Blair was searching for something.  Probably that damn computer disk.  He could smell the scent of three others but they werenít familiar.  The three must have moved Blair to a vehicle because Jim lost the scent ten feet from the dumpster.  Jim almost zoned three times on different scents and sights before he realized he needed help if he was going to find Blair.  The connection was gone, but somewhere in his heart he wasnít convinced that Blair was dead.

 Jim called Simon who arrived at the loft to find Jim in a light zone.  "Jim?"  He shook the detectiveís shoulder.  "Jim?  Come on Jim.  Snap out of it."

 Jim came back to reality with a start.  "Simon?  What happened?"

 "You zoned Jim?  Tell me what happened."  Simon sat beside his detective.

 Jim put his head into his hands.  "I donít know Simon.  Blairís missing."

 "What happened?"

 "Remember I told you about that computer game Blair brought home?"

 "Yes."  Simon took out a notepad as the forensic team started to gathered evidence.

"Well, I simply put it on top of his bookcase when we returned from the ER that night, and I forgot all about it.  Blair saw where I put it and last night he tried to climb the bookcase to get it down."

 "Did he get it?"

 "Yeah, along with everything else on the bookcase when it fell over."

 "Was he hurt?"

 "No.  Well, not from the bookcase at least.  I did roast his backside for disobeying me.  Then he did his homework and went to bed.  I checked on him before I went to bed around 11:30 and he was asleep.  Around 2am I woke up when I lost him.  He was gone."

 "Lost him?"

 "The connection Simon.  It was severed."

 "But that only happens when a sentinel or guideÖ"

 "Dies."  Jim finished.  "I know.  I canít feel my guide anymore but for some reason I know heís still alive.  Someone kidnapped him and somehow broke our connection."  Jim started to cry softly.

 "Okay Jim.  If what youíre feeling is correct, then we donít have time to waste.  We need to find the scamp.  Were you able to track him at all?"

 "Yeah.  Would you believe he snuck out to find that damn computer game that I threw away last night?"

 "Why would he go out at night, in a dark alley no less, for a disk you just spanked him for having?"

 "Thatís what has me puzzled Captain.  Blair hates going out after dark unless Iím with him.  This was totally out of character for him."

 "Did he find the game?"

 "No, but when I was finally thinking clearly, I found it in the bag I threw away.  Itís there on the table.  Maybe thereís some connection."

 "Iíll have Rafe and Brown track it down."

 "I want this case sir.  I need to find Blair."

 "Jim..."

 "I know what youíre going to say sir, but I need to be doing something."

 "Okay, but you get one warning.  I will chain you to a desk if you get too strung out.  Are we clear?"

 "Yes sir."

 "Good.  Letís go find that trouble magnet."

 **********

Jim startled back to reality when Blair stirred in his sleep.  He moved to sit on the edge of the bed and stroked Blairís cheek.  "Sh Little One.  Go Back to sleep."  Blair settled down with the soft voice and gentle touch.  Between the stress of loosing Blair, looking for Blair and then finding him after such a traumatic experience, Jim was bone weary, so he decided to lie down next to Blair and rest.  Sentinel/guide rooms had beds that were wide enough for two grown adults to bond in comfort, so when Jim lay down, Blair snuggled close.  Jim opened his mind and Blair instinctively entered the bond.  Jim fell asleep thinking about how hard it had been to keep control while Blair was gone, and how Blair calmed him without even trying.

 **********

 "ELLISON!  My office!  NOW!"  Captain Simon Banks was at his wits end.

 "What Captain?"  Jim was annoyed.  Simon sounded upset and he was only asking Rafe about leads to find Blair.

 "Donít Ďwhatí me.  What did you think youíre doing badgering another detective?  Rafe is doing the best job he can and he doesnít need you to make it harder."

 Jim sighed and slumped into a chair.  "Iím sorry Simon.  Itís getting harder to calm down and keep my senses in check.  With Blair gone, I donít have complete control."

 "I understand the last two weeks have been rough, but if you donít pull it together Iím going to have to suspend you."

 "Iíll try harder sir."  Jim closed his eyes for a minute and tried to relax.

 "See that you do.  You need more rest than youíre getting also.  When was the last time you slept?"

 "I donít know Simon.  I try and just wake up in cold sweats.  Iím having nightmares about panthers and wolves and leopards.  Itís just too weird."  There was silence for a couple of minutes then Jim spoke, "What was found out about the computer disk?"

 "The disk is black market.  Rumor has it, someone just gives them away.  The empaths are the target though.  Most people with no empathic abilities find the game boring and end up throwing it away or giving it away.  The empaths that view the game canít stop using it.  The only strange thing is Blairís reaction too it.  In other empaths it has the same effect as a drug.  It gives the empath a high and then they need another Ďhití when the effects wear off.  Blairís reaction was in the minority.  He reacted badly too it.  The doctors said that if the empath that has a sever reaction isnít treated for the shock immediately, they would slip into a coma and die."

 "Damn."

"Exactly.  You were right to assume that Blair was in distress when you took him to the ER.  The doctors also said that theyíve only had a handful of cases where the empath had a dangerous reaction to the game."

 "Whatís the motive then?  If the games are designed to be addictive and they are simply given away, whereís the profit?"

 "I thought that too and had Brown check all of the missing persons reports in the last 6 months.  He found an increase in missing guides since this game hit the street."

 "And you think the two are connected?"  Jim said with some hope.

 "Yes I do.  Of all the missing persons reports, 75% were guides.  Half of those turned up dead, cause unknown.  Of course the sentinels followed."

 "And the other half?"  Jim knew how hard it was to continue living, feeling your guide was dead.  Something else told him Blair was still alive.

 "Small percentages were found.  Some returned to find their sentinel had killed themselves, so they followed.  Some never re-bonded and both guide and sentinel went mad.  Others bonded alright, but were so traumatized they couldnít project about it."

 "God Simon."  Jim scrubbed his face with his hands.

 "Brown found one young man who recovered, re-bonded and remembered what happened, but refused to talk about it.  I thought maybe you and I could go talk to him.  Maybe he would help us if he knew another guide was missing."

 "That would be great sir.  When can we go?"  Jim shot out of his chair.

 "Let me make some calls.  Right now you need to go out and apologize to Rafe for biting his head off.  Dismissed."

 Jim smiled and headed out to talk to Rafe.

 *************

 //Jim// Jim awoke to Blairís gentle projection.

 "What Little One?"

 //Iím thirsty//

 "Okay.  Let me call the nurse."  Jim reached over Blair for the call button and depressed it.  A moment later, a nurse entered and smiled.

 "Well, look whoís awake.  What can I get for you?"

 "Blair would like a drink please."

 "I think I can manage that.  Iíll be right back.  Iíll also tell Dr. Hough that youíre awake."

 "Thank you."

 After the nurse left, Jim tightened his hold on Blair.  //Jim//

 "Yeah Chief?"

 //Where are we//

 "Weíre in the hospital Blair.  Do you remember anything?"

 //Just flashes, but they scare me Jim// Tears pooled in Blairís eyes.

 "Itís going to be okay Blair.  Iíll be here every step of the way to help you son.  I promise."

 //Love you//

 "I love you too Chief."  Jim kissed Blair on the forehead just as the nurse returned with a drink of ginger ale for Blair.  Blair took the drink in shaky hands and with Jimís help he was able to quench his thirst.  He let Jim put the drink on the bed stand when he was finished.  "What do you say Blair?"

 //Thank you//

 "In Guide Sign Chief."

 *Thank you nurse*

 "Youíre welcome young man."  Just then the Doctor came in.

 "Well, Iím glad to see you looking better Blair.  Youíve had me worried."

 Blair looked at Jim with confusion.  "Dr. Hough.  Blair said he didnít remember much of the last four weeks.  Just flashes."

 //FOUR WEEKS//

 "Yes Chief.  Someone kidnapped you four weeks ago."

 "Blair?"  When Blair turned toward the doctor, she continued, "You were missing for two weeks and have been here for two weeks.  You just re-bonded with Jim yesterday and have been in bond/sleep since then.  Do you understand?"

 //Yes//

 "Blair, I want you to respond to the doctor directly."  Jim corrected gently.

 *Yes Doctor* Blair signed with a sigh.

 "Do you remember anything about your stay here?"

 *No Maíam*

 "Well, your memory should come back, but you were in shock most of the two weeks you were here.  Iíve ordered food for both of you.  I expect both plates cleaned off.  I spoke to Captain Banks this morning and he told me you havenít been eating well either Detective, so consider yourself under house arrest as long as it takes Blair to get better."

 "Well Chief, you better get well quickly, or we may need to plan our escape."  Jim waggled his eyebrows at the boy.  Blair giggled.

 *Doc.  You should knowed that papa donít stay hurt long.*

 "That was horrible Chief.  I think after you get well, Iím confiscating your data pad.  Maybe it will force you to learn the Guide Sign faster."

 //What?  Was it that bad?  What did I get wrong//

 "You should have signed *you should know that my papa doesnít stay in hospitals well*.  And Iím not sure if you meant to say papa or *dad*."

 //Oh// Blair was struggling to keep his eyes open. 

 Jim gently tapped Blairís chin to get his attention.  "I want you to repeat the sentence correctly Blair."

 //Now?//

 "Yes, now."

 *Doc, you should know that my dad doesnít stay in hospitals well*  //Better//

 "Much."  The doctor smiled as their food arrived and both sentinel and guide ate under her watchful eye.

 ***********

 "Jim, you really need to eat something."

 "Iím not hungry Simon.  I can eat plenty once I find Blair and heís safe and home."

 "Fine, be stubborn, but we are not going anywhere until you eat."  Simon crossed his arms across his chest to prove his point.

 "We have an appointment with Sentinel Jackson and Guide Barre in thirty minutes."

 "Then I suggest you eat, or I will call and reschedule." 

 Jim could tell Simon wouldnít be persuaded.  "Fine, but just remember I will get even."  Jim reluctantly ate the food placed in front of him.  He didnít taste any of it.

 Thirty minutes later, Simon and Jim were in the living room of Sentinel Jackson and Guide Barreís apartment.

 "Gentlemen, would you like something to drink?"  Sentinel Jackson asked.

 "No, thank you.  We would just like to ask Guide Barre a few questions."  Captain Banks said.

 "About his abduction?"

 "Yes sir."

 "Iíll be honest with you gentlemen he hasnít projected anything about it to anyone."

 "Could we ask him at least?" Jim asked.

 "Sure."  Sentinel Jackson left the room and came back with his guide.  The young man was probably in his early twenties with short blonde hair.  He was on the thin side and was clinging to his sentinelís arm.  They sat together in front of Jim and Simon.  "Kyle?  These men are police officers who would like to ask you about when you were kidnapped."

 Jim noticed Kyle immediately tense.  "Guide Barre, Iím Sentinel Ellison.  I know this must be hard for you, but if you could give us any information it would be a tremendous help.  My guide was kidnapped two weeks ago and I think it was the same people who abducted you."

 *How old is your guide?* Kyle signed.

 "Fourteen."

 *So young.*

 "Yes he is.  Heís also my son, so even a little information could help."

 *They gave me a drug that blocked my connection with Nate.*  Kyle took his sentinelís hand and their minds connected to add support.  Secure in his sentinelís arms, Kyle continued.  *Then this crazed sentinel claimed I was to bond with her.  She must have been insane because when the bond wouldnít work she beat me.  I thought Nate was dead and only wanted to follow him.*    Nate Jackson tightened his arms around his guide and projected assurances and love.  *After a couple weeks, she gave up.  She told her goon squad to dispose of me.  When I got the chance though, I ran off and got away from them.  I found myself wandering through the warehouse district.  A patrolman noticed me before the goons could finish me off, so the officers brought me to the hospital.*

 "Do you know what this woman wanted?"  Jim asked.

 *I got the impression she was looking for a guide, but no one she had abducted was compatible.*

 "Were there others there at the same time?"  Jim continued.

 *Probably.  After she told her goons to get rid of me, I heard her talk about another who was hooked on the game.  Then I remembered how obsessed I was with this new computer game I found.*

 "That game has been nothing but trouble."  Jackson sneered.  "Even after Kyle got home he still wanted that game and fought me daily about it.  I destroyed it."

 "Good."  Jim sneered back.  "Itís that same game that almost killed my guide when he went into empathic shock.  Weíve been unable to track the owner of the computer game though.  Do you remember where you got it?"

 *That was the strange part.  After Nate destroyed mine and impressed his displeasure to me*   //Your bottom to be exact// Jackson interjected.  *I went back to the little shop I got it from and they said they were out of them.  Then another empath entered and he came out with a copy.*  //You did what?//  Nate projected.  Kyle soothed, //Later okay?//

//Count on it little boy// 

 "They already knew you werenít compatible."  Simon mused.

 "My thoughts exactly.  Could you tell us the name of the store?"  Jim asked.

 *Sure.  It was a novelty shop called The Spotted Leopard.  It was down on Murray right before the Guide college.* 

 "Youíve been a tremendous help, Thank you."  Everyone stood.

 *Detective?  I hope you find your guide.  That woman was insane.  I could feel the madness in her.  Good luck.*

 "Thank you."  Jim shook hands with both of the sentinel/guide pair and then left.

 Once outside, Jim spoke to Simon.  "Next stop, The Spotted Leopard."

 "Letís go detective.  We have a boy to find."

 *********

 //Jim, I wanna go home// Jim swore he could hear a whine in his head and sighed.

 "I already explained this to you Chief.  The doctor wants to make sure youíre okay."  Jim helped his guide back into bed.  After two weeks of being kidnapped and another two weeks of refusing to let people near him, Blair had needed a bath, badly.  Jim had helped Blair into the shower in the hospital room and scrubbed his guide clean.  He also used the opportunity to catalog ever bruise, scratch, and bump that Blair had.  Sentinel sense assured Jim that his guide was healing, physically. 

 //Iím fine//

 "You are not fine."

 //Am too//  Blair crossed his arms and stuck his bottom lip out in a pout.

 "We are not having this argument.  I promise as soon as Dr. Hough gives her okay, Iíll take you home, so suck in that bottom lip before birds land on it."  Jim pulled the blankets up over Blairís legs.

 //When?//

 "When what?"

 //Can we go home.  Iím bored// Blair whined.

 "Well, I have the perfect thing to keep you busy."  Jim took out a textbook and notebook and handed them to Blair.  Blair immediately recognized his schoolbooks and groaned as he pulled the blanket over his head.  Jim smiled when he heard Blair projecting, //no, no, no, please, no//

 "Youíre too far behind Blair.  Youíd be further behind if the school hadnít had a break last week."

 //Do you have to remind me I missed my break// Blair remained under the blanket.

 "Chief?  When youíre feeling better, weíll still go camping like we planned."

 Blair stuck his head out.  //Really//

 "Really.  Now why donít I help you get caught up?"

 //Okay// Jim helped Blair work on his school work and guide sign until Blair became tired and Jim insisted he lay down and take a nap.

*********

 The Spotted Leopard was a small quaint shop that sold a little of everything an empath would need or want.  Jim and Simon entered the store and noticed the clerk behind the counter.  He didnít look like someone who would be a clerk in a small shop, but more like a man working as a bouncer in a rough nightclub.  Jim noticed his nametag said, Jenkins.

 "Can I help you gentlemen?"

 Simon and Jim showed their badges.  "Iím Detective Ellison and this is Captain Simon Banks."  Jim immediately noticed the manís heartbeat spike.

 "What can I do for you?"  Jenkins nervously said.

 Jim handed him a picture of Blair.  "Have you seen this boy around here Mr. Jenkins?"

 Sweat beaded on Jenkins forehead.  "Nope.  We donít usually get 14 year old empaths in here."

 "Who said he14?  Or an empath?"

 "Just looked like it, thatís all."  Jenkins heart rate was so elevated Jim suspected the man knew more than he was saying.  Simon noticed how Jimís head was tilted as he used his senses to establish the truth.

 "Mr. Jenkins?"  Simon interjected.  "Did we mention Detective Ellison is a sentinel?"  Jenkins was so unnerved that Jim thought he was going to blow a blood vessel.  "This boy is also his guide.  He was given a computer game that was sold here.  Now the guide is missing and I believe you know more than youíre saying."

 "We sell that game, but I canít control what the empaths do with it."

 "Iíd like you to come down to the station for some more questions."  Simon ordered.

 "I canít leave the store."

 "Lock-up Mr. Jenkins.  This will take awhile.  Those computer games are a menace and we need to find out where they came from."  Jim added.

 Jenkins quickly locked up.  As they were walking to the car, all three men took cover as shots were fired. 

**********

 //JIM//

 Jim ran down the hospital corridor and slid into Blairís room.  Blair was tangled in his blankets, thrashing as if trying to escape something.  He was crying and emitting a nerve piercing noise.  It was the loud terrified projections though, that broke Jimís heart.

 "Blair?  Hey Little One.  Wake up."  Jim gently shook Blairís shoulders as he sat down on the edge of the bed.  Blair woke with a start.  When he saw Jim he threw his arms around Jimís neck and sobbed.  "Sh, Little One.  Itís going to be okay."  Jim rubbed Blairís back until the sobs slowed.  "Did you have a nightmare Chief?"   Blair nodded.  "You want to tell me about it?"

 //No//

 "It may help to talk about it Blair."  Jim continued his gentle back rub and kissed Blairís head.

 //Okay// Blair gathered himself and slowly told Jim about his nightmare.  //I remember some of what happened to me.  I was in this place and there was a woman who said you were dead and that she was my sentinel now.  I signed to her *no* she wasnít.  I yelled to you but you werenít there anymore.  No one could hear me.  I couldnít connect// Blair started to cry again.

 "Sh itís okay now.  The connectionís strong now.  Weíre good." Jim gently rocked with Blair in his arms.

 //I know Jim.  At first, I thought you were dead, but I had a dream while I was kidnapped, about a panther, leopard, and a wolf pup.  The leopard was carrying the pup in its teeth and the pup was whimpering and trying to swipe at the leopard.  The panther was off in the distance looking for the wolf.  The leopard was mean to the wolf though.  It pushed it around and made it cry, but the panther found the wolf and then the leopard was gone and the panther gently took the pup into itís teeth and carried it home and cleaned it and fed it and kept it warm.  When the pup woke up, the panther was gone.  Thatís when I woke up.//

 "I had a similar dream while you were gone Blair, but in mine, the panther killed the leopard."

 //Really? Thatís likeÖwow man// Jim smiled as Blair practically bounced.  He knew Blair was going to be okay, with time.

 "We can analyze it later.  I just talked to Dr. Hough and she said, if you take it easy, sheíll let me take you home tomorrow."

 //Tomorrow? Weíre going home?//   Blair beamed.

 "Yes, Little One.  Weíre going home."

 //Cool//

 **********

 "Damn it Simon!"

 "Relax Jim."  Simon tried to calm Jim down.

 "RELAX?  How can you say that?  Our one solid lead since Blair disappeared, and heís shot.  Tell me how Iím supposed to relax with Jenkins in a coma?"

 "Because I got Judge Winger to sign a warrant to search The Spotted Leopard and itís computer records and Brown is tracking down the owner."  Jim just growled.  "Donít make me ground your ass to a desk, Detective.  Itís been a long couple of weeks for all of us."   Simon paused.  "I want you to go home and get some rest."

 "Canít rest."  Jim mumbled.

 "What?"

 "I said, I canít rest without Blair!"  Jim practically yelled.

"I want you to try Jim.  Go home.  I donít want to see you back here until tomorrow."

 Jim grumbled all the way home.

 **********

 Jim was tired.  He had reluctantly left Blair to head home to prepare for Blairís return.  The loft was a disaster.  Jim had neglected everything in search of his guide but now that Blair was safe and recovering, Jim had noticed the mess and had started cleaning with vigor.  Before he knew it, four hours had past and he was late getting back to the hospital.

 As Jim entered the hospital, he knew Blair was in distress.  He ran up the stairs two at a time.  When he entered Blairís room, what he saw, made him see red.  Nurses were strapping Blair down to the bed, and Blair was sobbing as he struggled to get away.

 "GET AWAY FROM HIM!"  Jim roared.

 Blairís eyes flew open when he heard Jim.  He struggled harder and projected his terror.  //DAD!  Help me please//

 All the nurses scattered in the face of an angry sentinel trying to get to his guide.  Jim started to remove the restraints at the same time he tried to calm Blair through the bond.  One suicidal nurse tried to stop him, but though twice when Jim growled at her.  "Iím getting the doctor."  The nurse stormed out.

 Jim paid her no mind, but freed Blair and gathered his distraught son into his arms.  Blair all but crawled into Jimís lap and sobbed.  The doctor entered and was frozen by the stare of a very angry sentinel.

 "Detective Ellison."

 "What the hell were you doing?"  Jim ground out.

 "The nurses told me Blair woke from his nap and became violent.  I think he had a flashback and when he didnít recognize anyone, he tried to escape.  I ordered the restraints to keep him safe, but they seemed to upset him more."

 "But you kept using them?"

 "He would have hurt himself Mr. Ellison.  I only just reviewed Blairís medical history to see what allergies he had.  I didnít want Blair to have a relapse because of a drug interaction."  Jim calmed down a little at the doctorís explanation, but mostly because Blair had relaxed and fallen into an exhausted sleep.  "I am sorry Mr. Ellison, but my hands were tied."

 "No doctor; Blairís were.  I donít know what was done to him during his kidnapping, but Blair has never liked being tied down or locked in small spaces.  Itís noted in his records and you should have known what to use and what not to use before hand."

 "Youíre correct, Mr. Ellison.  I should have known and Iím very sorry."  Jim used his senses to determine whether the doctor was genuine.  Noting no signs of a lie, Jim nodded.  "Thank you.  Would you permit me to examine Blair to make sure he didnít hurt himself?"  Jim nodded again and tried to untangle himself from Blair.  As he moved though, Blair began to get distressed again.  Jim calmed him and decided to get comfortable on the bed and gathered Blair closer.

 "Sorry doc, but if you want to examine him, youíll have to do it from here."

 "Thatís fine."  Doctor Hough made a quick exam and found that Blair hadnít hurt himself.  She tucked the blankets up over Blair and Jim.

 "Heís okay, Mr. Ellison, just a little shaken up.  Are you having any problems through the bond?"

 Jim, who had connected with Blair as soon as he had released the restraints, closed his eyes briefly and basked in the warm glow the bond emitted.  "No doc.  No problems."

 "Good.  Do you need anything before I leave?  Blair should sleep but if he gets upset againÖ"

 "Iíll handle it."  Jim finished.

 "Yes, but if you canít, the nurse has the correct sedative if need be."

 Jim nodded, closed his eyes, and held Blair tighter as he soaked in the connection with his guide, summarily dismissing the doctor.  Sentinel and guide settled into a deep healing sleep.

 ***********

 In local news: A sentinel was found dead last evening in her home, apparently from a sever zone out.  Speculation of why the guide was unable to assist his sentinel was not mentioned but Sentinel and Guide Mercy listed the condition of the guide as critical.  Official comments were unavailable.  Weíll have more information as it becomes available.

 Jim slammed the radio off.  He could be that sentinel if Blair wasnít found soon.  It was getting harder to concentrate and wouldnít be long before Captain Banks forced him to ride a desk.  If Blair was gone, Jim would eat a bullet. A sentinel canít live without a guide.  Jim didnít get to finish his thoughts as he saw a blur of fur right before a car forced him into a telephone pole.  His last conscious thought was that a leopard must have escaped from the zoo.

 ************

 When Jim entered Blairís room, Blair was sitting on the edge of the bed, fully dressed, swinging his legs.  He looked up and bounced off the bed when he saw Jim.

 //Man I am so ready to get out of here//

 "We just have to wait for the Doctor to come and sign the papers freeing you Blair."

 //Good, Iím looking forward to sleeping in my own bed//

 "Well, you can for naps, but youíre sleeping upstairs with me for awhile."  Jim gathered Blairís things and set them by the door.

 //Why//

 "Because I want you close and until the pull of that computer game is gone, Iím not trusting you to stay in the loft at night."

 //Iím not going to sneak out again.  I promise// Blair pleaded.

 "Thatís good Chief, but you donít really have the control to keep that promise when you have an addiction.  So until you do, you will be bunking with me."

 //No fair//

 "Itís quite fair considering you disobeyed me in the first place by trying to get that game again.  Iíve decided not to spank you because you didnít have a lot of control over your actions, but I will not hesitate to correct you if the same error is made.  Am I clear?"

 //Yes sir.  I still say it isnít fair//

 "Just humor the old man okay?  Iíll feel better having you close and I think you will too.  Besides, the bond/sleep will help chase your nightmares away." 

 The doctor chose that moment to enter with paperwork and instructions.  "Detective, I had a prescription filled for a mild sedative to help Blair sleep if needed.  Hereís his prescription to help with the withdrawal symptoms.  If he looks like heís going into empathic shock, bring him back to the ER.  I donít expect any problems, but he may be plagued with more nightmares.  Just keep him close and let me know if you need anything.  Are there any questions?"

 "No Doc, everything looks good.  I really appreciate everything you did for Blair.  If it wasnít for your curiosity, I Ö" Jim swallowed against the emotion.  He felt Blair at his shoulder, projecting understanding.  Jim gathered Blair into a hug and breathed deep.

 "I understand completely detective Ellison.  Take your guide home.  He should be fit to go back to school at the beginning of next week.  Take it easy until then."

 //School// 

 Jim and Doctor Hough laughed at Blairís stricken expression.  Jim ushered Blair out the door and headed home.

 **********

 Alex Barnes was quite insane.  Blair didnít care if he died, but he knew Barnes needed to be stopped.  He gathered all of the empathic strength he could and prepared to stop this mad women.  He had heard about a tribal guide who had been abducted once in Peru. The sentinel was dead, killed in the raid, and the guide used all of his strength to overload the sentinel who had abducted him.  The sentinel had died of a sever zone out and the guide eventually died of shock.  Blair knew what to do, and it didnít matter if he died because he didnít want to live without Jim anyway.  Blair focused and would be ready when Barnes returned for him.

 **********

 Jim answered the door before Simon had a chance to knock.

 "I really hate it when you do that."  Simon growled.

 "I know."  Jim smiled an evil grin as he headed toward the kitchen.  "Would you like some coffee Simon?"

 "Sure."  Simon looked around the loft.  "Whereís the trouble magnet?"

 "Taking a nap."  Jim and Simon moved to the living room and sat down. 

 Simon looked at his watch and frowned.  "Itís too early to be the regular naptime."

 "He was tired.  Besides, the moment we walked through the door he started arguing about how mean I was to tell him where he was sleeping at night and what games he can play with.  I knew he was going to have a problem letting it go, so after warning him twice, I spanked him and sent him to bed."

 "He certainly knows how to find trouble."  Simon sipped the bitter brew.

 "Sometimes it comes looking for him Simon.  He didnít go looking to get addicted to some stupid game.  I just wish Barnes wasnít dead so I could shoot her."

 "Very mature Jim."  Simon smiled.  He felt the same way but was very glad Blair was safe and that Barnes was dead.

 "You staying for lunch Simon?"

 "No, I have to get back.  Brown and Rafe found the warehouse that Blair and the other empaths were kept in and theyíre gathering more evidence to make sure Alex Barnes was the one behind the whole thing."

 "Let me know if you need sentinel help."

 "Will do.  You just take care of our trouble magnet."

 "I will and thanks Simon."

 Simon left and Jim prepared lunch for when Blair woke from his nap.

 **********

 "What do you mean heís still alive?"

 "We tried Alex, but heís hard to kill.  At least Jenkins is dead.  He canít talk."

 "Tom, I need Ellison dead.  For some reason the drug didnít sever the bond between Blair and Ellison.  Blairís the one.  He may be young but heís a strong enough empath to give me control.  I want you to go back to that hospital and finish off Ellison."

 "Yes maíam."

 "And donít come back until thatís done.  And take Jimmy with you."

 The goons left and Alex headed to Blairís cell.  It was time to force her hand.  If Blair wouldnít bond willingly, she would risk forcing it.  As she entered the cell, Blair moved away from her.

 "Well young man, itís time to make it official."  Alex took an ID ring and forced it into the hole she assumed was for the guide ID ring.  "Now youíre marked as mine."   Alex used her senses to map Blairís body as she memorized everything about him.

 Blair on the other hand was preparing for the final battle.  His sentinel may be dead, but he would follow.  He would not stay and bond to this madwoman.  She had already beaten him for his disobedience and if he werenít successful in zoning her she would beat him to death just for the attempt.  Either way, Blair would be dead.

 Alex settled next to Blair and pushed against his mental barriers.  Blair fought a little and then quickly drew her in and sent his strength into a zone.  Alexís scream wasnít heard since her goons had gone to kill Ellison.  Blair mentally smiled, as he slipped into shock.

 **********

 Blair bolted awake.  He was sweating and shaking so badly that he didnít notice Jim enter his room until he was picked up and settled in Jimís lap. 

 "Sh, Little One.  Did you have another dream?"

 Blair nodded.  //Dad?  I remember what happened before I was taken to the hospital//

 "Really?  Thatís good.  Do you want to tell me about it?"

 //The other sentinel wanted me to bond with her.  She said she would force me if I didnít agree to become her guide.  I remembered Incacha had told me a story about a guide who killed an enemy sentinel//

 "I remember that story, Blair, but the guide died afterwards."

 //I know.  I thought you were dead and I didnít want this woman to kidnap anyone else so I decided to try what Incacha told me.  I figured even if I failed, the sentinel would kill me for trying//

 "You took too big a risk Blair."  Jim growled.

 //I thought you were dead// Blair hid his tears in the folds of Jimís shirt.  Jim was immediately sorry for being so harsh.

 "Iím sorry Blair.  Iím just real glad youíre safe now.  Do you want to finish?"

 Blair nodded.  //I used all my strength and when she tried to force a bond, I pulled her in and then sent mental images of things that would overload her senses and send her into a zone.  It worked too.  She screamed and was lost//

 "What happened to you though Chief?"

 //I was pulled in too.  It was like being sucked into a swirl of water going down a drain, but as I was letting the current take me down, I saw the panther again.  For some reason I decided to fight the current and I started to swim up.  When I surfaced, I opened my eyes and saw the sentinel was dead.  I forced myself up and found a phone and called 911.  Then I passed out and woke up at the hospital//

 "Doctor Hough said she found a guide ID ring in your ear.   She also said it had fallen out and since they arenít supposed to be able to be removed unless the guide is dead, she was really puzzled.  The ID ring had you down as guide to an Alex Barnes."

 //Was that her name// 

 "Yes.  The ambulance EMT said they found you in an apartment in a warehouse."  Jim wiped the tears from Blairís face and smiled.  "Letís get some lunch and then you can relax in front of the TV."

 //Okay// Blair followed Jim into the kitchen and sat down to lunch.  Afterwards, when he took his dishes to the sink, Blair noticed a hospital form on the counter for Jim.

 //Dad// Blair asked.

 "Yeah Chief?"

 //Whatís this from// Blair held up the form and showed it to Jim.

 "While you were missing, someone tried to run me off the road."

 //WHAT//

 "Iím fine Blair but Simon figured someone may have wanted me out of the picture, since we were shot at a few days before that too."

 **********

 Tom and Jimmy, dressed as orderlies, silently entered the ICU room that held Detective Ellison.  The lights were muted for the night and the monitors registered that the man in the bed was still alive.  Not for long they thought.  Tom produced a syringe filled with a cleaner they found in the janitorís closet.  He injected the cleaner into the IV port and turned to leave.

 Captain Simon Banks entered at the same moment with gun drawn.  "Freeze!  Cascade PD.  Youíre under arrest for the attempted murder of a police officer and the suspected kidnapping of a child and guide."

 "Youíre too late.  By now Sentinel Ellison is dead and his guide is bonded to another."  Jimmy sneered.

 "Wrong again boys."  Both men spun around to see Detective Ellison standing behind them with his gun drawn also.  "Three strikes and youíre out."

 "ButÖ" Tom stammered. 

 "Sorry boys, but the IV wasnít attached."  Jim and Simon cuffed the two goons and read them their rights.

 "Now.  I want you two gentlemen to tell me where my guide is.  NOW!"  Jim was every bit the Ďthrowback to pre-civilized maní at this very moment.  Both Tom and Jimmy decided to talk.  As the police drove away from the hospital with their suspects, an ambulance was delivering a young guide lost in empathic shock.

 **********

 The phone only rang once before Jim picked it up and quickly went into the kitchen in order not to disturb his sleeping guide.

 "Ellison."

 "Jim, itís Simon."

 "Yeah Simon, whatís up?"

 "Howís Blair?"

 "Heís doing okay.  He woke from his nap remembering zoning Barnes.  He was pretty shaken up.  Then we had lunch and I explained to him what happened at the hospital and now heís sleeping on the couch."

 "Good. Iím glad heís doing better.  I told Peterson that if he wanted to get Blairís statement for the final report to close the case of Barnes death, to call you on Monday."

 "That will be perfect.  Blair goes back to school on Monday and we can wrap up lose ends then."

 "I also called to tell you that Rafe and Brown tracked the owner of the warehouse and The Spotted Leopard to a company called "Nano-Technologies".  The owners of the company are Alex and Alan Barnes.  They were brother and sister Jim.  Twins to be exact."

 "Where is this Alan Barnes now?"

 "We donít know.  Weíre trying to track him down, but I wanted to give you the heads up just in case this guy decides to take his revenge out on you or Blair.  Keep the kid close and Iím sending a unit to watch the loft."

 "Thanks for the heads up Simon.  Weíll stay put, just keep me informed."

 "Will do Jim.  Take care of our trouble magnet."

 "Always."  Jim hung up the phone and sighed.  Will this ordeal ever be over?

 **********

 "Dr. Hough?"

 "Yes Nurse?"

 "The guide in room 123 isnít responding to anything."

 "Heís in empathic shock nurse.  He may never respond with his sentinel dead."  Dr. Hough entered room 123 and observed the guide for a couple of minutes.  It really was a shame this young guide was too far gone to save.  After two weeks of force feeding and finally sedating the guide to get him washed up, the doctors and nurses were at a loss as what to do next.  The young guide had obviously been abused by his sentinel and now with the sentinel dead the guide would follow. 

 Every morning, Dr. Hough expected to come in and hear the guide had died, but every morning she came in to the same catatonic guide who arrived two weeks prior.  This morning she had ordered the young man sedated so the nurses could bath him.  As she was making her rounds she stopped in on the young guide and noticed he had a small gold ring through his left nipple. 

 "Nurse?  Why wasnít this nipple ring removed when he came in?"

 "We tried Doctor.  It was just too hard to remove."

 Dr. Hough examined the ring and after several minutes, paled.  "Oh my God!"  The nurses watched as the doctor ran from the room and quickly returned with a Guide ID Scanner.  She ran the instrument over the nipple ring and it beeped.  No one spoke as the doctor scanned through the new information.  She smiled and patted the young guideís foot.

 "Make sure you ladies take good care of Mr. Blair Sandburg-Ellison."  Their Guide Doe finally had a name.  "Iím going to go call his sentinel and see if we can clear up some confusion and bring young Blair out of shock."

 Dr. Hough went to her office and called the contact number from the ID ring.  It rang twice.

 "Ellison."

 **********

 Blair couldnít sleep.  He made a big fuss about sleeping upstairs with his father, but it actually comforted him to know he was safe.  He still couldnít sleep though.  Thoughts of how close they both came to being dead because of an insane sentinel kept running through his head and he couldnít relax.  Jim had fallen asleep almost immediately, but he hadnít had two naps like Blair had.

 Blair decided he needed to get a drink and go to the bathroom.  As he moved away from Jim, a solid arm reached out and stopped him.

 "Where you going Chief?"

 //I have to go to the bathroom Jim//

 "Okay.  But donít dawdle.  I wonít be a happy sentinel if I have to come fetch you.  Understand?"

 //Yes sir// Jim let go of Blairís arm and followed his guide with his senses.  Blair went into the bathroom and got a drink and relieved himself.

 Jim was in a light doze when he heard something out of place.  He was half way down the stairs when he heard Blairís projected scream.

 **********

 Jim had his head down on his desk.  They had interviewed the two men who tried to kill him and got a name, Alex Barnes.  She had been kidnapping guides in order to find someone who could help her with her senses.  She was insane, they had told the police, and they feared she would be gone with Jimís guide.

 The goons gave the police the address to the warehouse, but when SWAT and Major Crimes stormed the place, it was empty.  There were signs of Blair in the apartment in the warehouse and several unmarked graves, but no Blair.  It took forensics two weeks to determine that the bodies in the graves where missing guides, but Blair wasnít one of them.  Once again, Blair slipped through their hands, and Jim was slipping further and further away also.

 Simon approached Jimís desk, intent on getting the sentinel to go home and get some food and sleep, when the phone on Jimís desk rang.  Jim picked it up after the second ring.  "Ellison."

 Simon watched Jimís downcast face light up with hope.

 "Where?  When?  Iíll be there within the hour.  Thank you very much doctor."  Jim hung up and grabbed his coat.  He never saw Simon until his arm was touched. 

 "Jim?  Whatís going on?"

 "Blair!  That was Guide And Sentinel Mercy.  They have Blair there.  Alive."  Jim was grinning like a fool. "MY GUIDE IS ALIVE SIMON!"

 "Iím glad Jim.  Go to him and try not to kill anyone driving over there."

 "Thanks Simon.  Iíll call you as soon as I get all the details."  Jim was gone before Simon could respond.  Thank God Blair was safe.

 **********

 When Simon arrived at the loft, there were police cars blocking off most of the building.  Simon entered the loft and found forensics going over the crime scene.  Off to one corner in the living room was Jim sitting in the rocking chair, rocking his sleeping guide.  Simon stepped around the dead body of Alan Barnes and stood in front of Jim.

 "How are you two doing?"  Simon asked gently.

 Jim looked up and smiled sadly.  "Okay considering Barnes tried to kill us."

 Simon sat down.  "What happened Jim?"

 "Blair woke up and went downstairs to use the bathroom.  While he was in the bathroom, I heard someone sneaking up the fire escape.  I made my way down the stairs but Barnes made it to the bathroom before I did.  When Blair came out, he was face to face with Barnes, who had a knife.  Blair screamed and ducked away from the knife.  As Barnes went to bring the knife back around I snapped his wrist and the knife fell.  We struggled to get the knife and when it was all over Barnes was dead.  He had rolled over onto his own knife.  I called 911 and then tried to calm Blair down.  He was hysterical.  I couldnít get him to bond and he was projecting a chant of Ďoh my Godí as he rocked back and forth."  Jim held Blair tighter and wiped at the tears flowing from his own eyes.  A little embarrassed, Jim mumbled, "Sorry."

 "Nothing to be sorry about Jim.  Iím just glad youíre both okay.  Concentrate on taking care of Blair and weíll worry about reports later, okay?"

"Sure Simon."  Jim closed his eyes and basked in the connection he had with Blair.  It took Jim a while to connect with Blair after the initial shock, but now Blair was is a deep bond/sleep.  They would both heal now that both Barnesí were dead.  Things could go back to normal.  Whatever normal is for us.  Jim laughed.

 One Month Later:

 It had taken a couple of weeks to tie up all of the lose ends, including having Blair cleared of charges of intentionally zoning a sentinel.  It took Blair some time to recover from the night Alan Barnes paid a visit to the loft and he was occasionally having nightmares about what happened.  Most of his memories had returned but thankfully not some of the more traumatic ones.  Blairís hair was growing out; he was back to school and was getting back into the full swing of things.

 It was Friday, and Blair was glad the week was over.  He was also hoping Jim would let him move back down into his own room this weekend, since he had been on his best behavior since that damn computer game came into his life. The first full week home after the whole ordeal was Jimís judgment day for Blair.  He had asked Blair about the white noise generator and found out where he got it.  Afterwards, Jim spanked Blair and told him he never wanted to see Blair with another white noise generator, ever.

 Blair had spent some covert time making flyers on the computer, to let the other empaths know how dangerous the game was and that the sentinels should destroy the copies.  He thought he was pulling one over on Jim, but Jim knew and was secretly very proud of Blairís need to help others.  Because of this, Jim had a surprise planned for the next week.

 Blair entered the loft and dropped his backpack in the middle of the floor.  As he took three more steps his jacket joined the backpack.  As he made it to the bathroom door, Jim called,  "BLAIR!"

 Blair turned and almost fell over.  //What//

 "Pick up your backpack and jacket and put them away, now."

 //ButÖ// Jim took a step toward Blair, but Blair moved to get his things before Jim took a second step.  //Sorry dad//

 "No problem.  When youíre done in the bathroom, come out here.  I have something to discuss with you."

 //Am I in trouble//

 "Should you be?"

 //No//

 "Then donít worry about it."

 //Okay// Blair quickly took care of everything and returned to the living room.   //Okay, whatís up//

 "First off, I want you to know, I know about the flyers you made on the computer."

 Blair paled.  He knew he was supposed to ask permission to use the computer, but he never got the chance.  Before he could explain, Jim held up his hand to stop him. 

"Let me finish.  Iím also very proud of you for doing it.  You should have asked me though, and for that, consider yourself grounded for the weekend."

 //ButÖ//

 "I would have let you make the flyers.  Theyíve helped a lot.  The police have taken in dozens of the computer games."

 //Iím sorry about the computer//

 "Youíre forgiven.  Like I said, Iím proud of you and because of that, on Monday, you, me, Simon and Daryl will be going camping for the week.  Iíve already cleared it with the school."

 //All week?// Blair asked with excitement.

 "Yes Blair.  All week.  Weíll leave Monday morning, early."

 //Cool!  Iíve got to call Jasper and tell him// Blair almost made it off the couch.

 "Youíre grounded remember?  That means no TV, no phone and no outside."

 //But just this once, please//

 "No."  Jim got up and went to make dinner. 

 Blair sat on the couch and pouted.  Damn, stubborn sentinel fathers.

 "Chief, I suggest you watch your language, before I send you to get the soap."

 //I didnítÖ//

 "You thought it, and sometimes you forget, I can hear your thoughts, so clean it up.  Now, what do you want for supper?"

 //Pizza?// Blair asked hopefully.

 "Iím cooking Blair."

 //Is that part of my punishment? To have to eat your cooking?// Blair said with a twinkle in his eye.

 "Why you little scamp."  Jim took off after his cheeky guide but Blair was faster and made it to his room before Jim could catch him.  Jim laughed at the energy his guide had and thanked God again that they both survived.  The sentinel doctors had said that Blairís ability to sacrifice himself for his sentinel had been the guide version of a territorial imperative.  The same went for Jim.  Maybe the sentinel and guide werenít that different after all.  They both protected their own.

 The End


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