Rolling over on the hotel mattress, Jim stared at the clock again. It was almost midnight, and he still hadn't dropped off to sleep. He debated going for a run to tire him out, but it was raining in San Francisco, and while the bed might not be comfortable, it was warm. Rolling back on to his back, he crossed his arms behind his head and stared at the ceiling.
What in the hell was Sandburg doing in Seacouver, he wondered. He had heard Blair say something about research, but for the life of him, he couldn't figure out why, at this late date, he needed more research. Unless... maybe Sandburg had finally gotten the hint about Diandra Pallas, and was looking into her past on his own. That thought made Jim sit bolt upright in bed, and he almost reached for the phone to call his guide. And what was he going to say if Sandburg answered? Right, Jim. Go to sleep. He's fine. You would know it if he weren't.
Lying back down, Jim closed his eyes again, and this time he slept, dreaming of a silver wolf cavorting with a black horse, while a jaguar screamed in pain.
When Blair had finally pulled himself back together, he splashed cold water on his face and tried to come up with something to say to her. Everything he thought of sounded lame. "How about the truth?" he asked himself. "Oh, yeah, that'll go over real good. Say, Dee, while I was in the john, I figured out I'm in love with you? Not that you could possibly see anything in a geek like me, and we'd only have maybe 50 years together, a pittance to you, I know, but I could show you a good time until you have to put me in the home." He shook his head. "You can be such a moron, Blair," he said to his reflection in the mirror. "She cares about you, man. She really cares... " his voice trailed off to a whisper, as that thought both excited and terrified him. He stood in front of the restroom door for a few moments, then taking a deep breath and steeling himself, he headed back into the bar.
His heart plummeted to his feet when he saw their table was empty. "I wasn't in there that long was I?" he muttered. A horrifying thought suddenly crossed his mind. She'd said this was a hangout for Immortals. What if one had come in and challenged her, and she was out in the alley right now, fighting for her life? He didn't realize he'd stopped breathing until a gentle hand on his shoulder and a quiet "Hey," in his ear caused him to inhale sharply.
Turning around, he found Dee standing behind him. "Didn't mean to scare you, Lobo. I was just checking with Joe to see if he'd heard from my watcher. No luck." She watched as a hundred different emotions flickered across his face.
"I..uh... I was worried for a minute there, when I didn't see you. I thought maybe... " He couldn't even say the words.
Seeing the fear on his face, she grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. "Nope, no Immortals came in while you were gone. And I wouldn't go without telling you. Chances are the next battle I'll be fighting will be with the Immortal we're trying to trace, if he's still around."
The jazz trio was taking the stage again after their break, and Dee seized upon a distraction for both of them. "Come on, Lobo. Let's dance."
Blair followed her through the tables to the small dance floor, and they joined the other couples there in moving to the beat of the music. Dee was, he soon discovered, a fantastic dancer. He had never done much swing dancing, but following her expert instruction, he was soon jumping and jiving with the best of them. By the time the piano trio began a slow song, though, he was ready for a rest. He started to lead Dee toward their table, but found he was grasping the hand of an immovable object. "Not so fast, Lobo," she said with a grin. "If you think I'm going to let you get out of slow dancing with me, you are sadly mistaken."
With those words, she pulled him into her arms, and Blair found himself nestled up against nearly six feet of warm, muscular, and very feminine Immortal. Not that he was complaining, mind you. Normally he hated dancing with tall women, but Dee was different, their curves and angles fitting smoothly together as if they were two halves of a whole. He slid his arms around her waist, and swayed along to the music with her, feeling her relax against him. It had been a long time since he had done this, just enjoyed the feeling of another body pressed close to his. No cares, no worries, just the two of them, in their own little world. He felt Dee bury her face in his hair, and inhale deeply. "You smell really good," she murmured, her eyes closed blissfully.
"You feel really good," he replied, and was rewarded with a smile that spread slowly across her face. They danced through that song, and the next, barely moving from their own little spot on the floor. A new song started, and Blair felt Dee begin to hum, then to sing for his ears only. Her husky voice sent little eddies of pleasure swirling through him. The song was "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered", and he quickly realized she was singing about her feelings for him. He squeezed her tighter, and rubbed his hand up and down her back. She responded by skipping the last verse and going back to the first one.
When the song ended, and the patrons of the bar applauded the band, Blair took a step back and gazed up into her face. Her eyes were shining in the dim light, her chocolate hair flecked with gold from the stage lights, a sexy half smile on her lips. Raising up on his toes, Blair pressed his lips gently to hers, tasting strawberries, barbecue sauce and her own unique flavor before he pulled away. Her arms around him didn't let him get far, and she pressed herself against him, bending to return the kiss. He felt himself getting lost in the gentle warmth of her mouth on his, and only came back to his senses when one of the other couples on the dance floor whacked him in the back with an elbow. Separating, they realized they were the only couple standing still during a wild swing number.
Dodging flailing arms and kicking feet, they made their way back to their booth and gathered up their things; Diandra shrugging into her duster, and Blair grabbing his backpack. He threw it over his shoulder, and then stepped into the waiting curve of her arm, feeling a sense of completeness as it tightened around his waist. His own hand resting at the small of her back, they headed for the door.
After stopping to say good night to Joe at the bar, they were walking toward the exit, when Blair felt Dee stiffen at his side, and glancing up, he saw the same expression of concentration on her face he'd seen that afternoon. "What is it?" he asked her, an icy knot twisting in his stomach.
Letting out a long breath, she relaxed. "A friend," she said, just as a tall, lanky, dark-haired man entered the bar, his intense brown eyes sweeping the room rapidly, until they fell on her.
"Diandra," he said in way of a formal greeting, his British accent apparent even in that one word.
"Adam," she replied, with a slight inclination of her head. "What brings you back to Seacouver?"
"Just passing though," he said, giving Joe a nod at the bar. "Tried MacLeod's place first, but no one was home."
"He's out of town," Dee informed him. "Blair and I are staying there tonight, if you had any ideas about using the spare apartment to crash in."
Adam shook his head. "I was planning on talking Joe out of his couch." His dark eyes quickly appraised Blair, who made a tremendous effort not to squirm under his scrutiny.
Seeing Adam's interest, Dee remembered her manners. "Adam Pierson, Blair Sandburg." Blair extended his free hand, which happened to be his left, and Adam shook it with his own. Blair immediately noted the Watcher tattoo, but filed his questions about a Watcher who was an Immortal away to be asked later, much later.
"Come on, Blair," Dee said, the arm she had around his waist gently tugging him toward the door. "We can talk to Adam tomorrow, if he's still around."
"Nice meeting you , Adam," Blair managed, before he found himself being dragged out into the parking lot.
Dee fumbled in her coat pocket for the keys to the Cherokee, and unlocked the passenger side door. Blair reached for the handle, but her hand over his stopped him before he could open it. He looked back at her, a question in his eyes.
"Are you sure you want to do this, Lobo?" she asked gently, giving him one last chance to run as far and as fast as he could away from her.
Blair didn't even hesitate. "Yes," he replied, his hand sliding behind her neck, pulling her close for a passionate kiss. When they came up for air, he found she'd backed him into the side of the Jeep, the side mirror poking him under the armpit. "I do have one request though, can we go someplace a little more comfortable?" he said gesturing to the mirror.
Laughing, Dee pressed her lips to his again quickly, then trotted around to the driver's side and climbed in. "Come on," she said, "the loft's only a few blocks from here."
Blair fastened his seatbelt as she started the engine, for one fleeting moment wondering what Jim would think if he could see him now. Then Dee's warm fingers entwining through his focused his thoughts on the night ahead of them.
Ellison awoke with a start, his heart pounding in his chest. He scanned the room quickly, finding nothing out of the ordinary. "Must have been a nightmare," he thought, sitting up, and running his hand through his sweat-dampened hair. For the life of him though, he couldn't remember much about it. A glance at the clock showed three am. He wondered if he pushed it, he could get the SFPD to process those prisoner transfer papers before 9 am. Then he could start back for Cascade. He couldn't put his finger on it, but something told him the sooner he got back there, the better.
Once again he thought about calling Blair, and this time gave in to the impulse. He tried the loft first, and got the machine. Trying the cell phone, his hopes were dashed when after a few rings, he got the message that the user was either out of the service area, or wasn't available. The prickling feeling on the back of his neck increased. Cursing Sandburg softly, he tried another number. The phone rang twice, and then a familiar voice said, "Hi, this is Dee, I can't come to the phone right now. You know how to use this thing, so do it if you want me to call you back." Ellison hung up without leaving a message.
Foregoing anymore sleep, he headed for the shower. Maybe he could get those papers processed by 6, and be back in Washington by early afternoon. If Sandburg was off somewhere with that Pallas woman, there was no telling what kind of trouble he could get into.
The trip to Duncan's loft took a little longer than expected. Halfway there, Diandra realized there would be no food in either apartment, since MacLeod was out of town, so they made a side trip to an all night market. They finally reached the dojo a little after one am. Climbing the stairs to the apartment's outside entrance in the dark, Blair juggled the groceries and his backpack, while Dee had both their overnight bags. Unlocking the door, she held it open for Blair to enter, then followed him inside, flipping on the lights. "Kitchen's to the right," she said, heading to the bedroom to stow their things. Blair put the perishables in the fridge, then took a look around the apartment. It was small but cozy, a living area was at the center of the room, and the far wall had two doorways, which he assumed were the bedrooms since Dee had disappeared through one of them. Next to the door they'd entered was a freight elevator, a reminder of the days when the building had been a warehouse.
He walked into the center of the room, and stood there a little awkwardly. "Okay, now what?" he asked himself. He'd forgotten how strange the first time with someone felt. In fact, right now he couldn't remember the last time he'd been with someone. He sat his backpack down next to one of the sofas, and wandered over to the stereo. Some music might be nice. He fiddled with the dials for a few minutes, but couldn't find a radio station to his liking. "Hey, Dee," he called to her, "you bring any CDs?"
"Um, yeah," her voice came floating back, "they're in a zip case in the bag I put on the table. I'll be out in a minute, I'm just putting sheets on the bed."
She was putting... sheets... on... the... bed. Blair shivered involuntarily. Oh, man, he had it bad. Finding the CD case, he opened it and found there was nothing he recognized. She must be really into customizing her music, he thought, finding titles like "Meditation," and "Workout #5." Well, "Meditation" sounded like it might be slow. He threw it in the player, and the strains of Santana's "Bella" filled the loft. He laughed out loud. What was it with Sentinels and Santana?
Dee entered the room at that moment, sneaking up behind Blair, and sliding her arms around his waist. Her lips nibbled at his neck, as she said, "Mmm that's nice. That would have been my choice, too."
He turned around in her arms, and kissed her lips gently, finding them a little lower than they had been before. Glancing down, he saw she was now barefoot, having taken off her boots in the bedroom. They danced together for a couple songs, sharing kisses, enjoying the feeling of their bodies pressed close together. Finally she led them over to the couch, turning out most of the lights as they went.
She snuggled up next to him, her hands finding the tie holding his hair back and releasing it. Tangling her fingers in it, she tilted his head back, her lips caressing his face and neck. He moaned deep in his throat, his own hands freeing her hair from the heavy braid she usually wore down her back. He stroked her hair and shoulders, feeling her soft kisses move lower as she began unbuttoning his shirt. She straightened up suddenly, her mouth capturing his, her tongue swirling in and out quickly, giving him just a taste of what was to come. She turned her attention back to his shirt buttons, as he groaned and said, "You're driving me crazy, Dee."
"That's the idea," she replied, grinning at him, her hand slipping inside his shirt, her fingers lightly stroking his heated skin. The sensation went straight to his groin, and he jumped.
"God, Dee... " he breathed, "that's so good."
"You like, hmm," she answered, her lips and tongue joining her fingers in torturing him.
"Yesss... " Blair hissed, his brain finally realizing he would soon be naked and she would still be fully clothed if he didn't do something about it. He grasped the soft cotton of her blouse, and pulled it free from her jeans. She paused in what she was doing, letting him unbutton her shirt, helping him tug it off her shoulders, dropping it to the floor. His own shirt soon followed. The only thing between them now was her bra. Raising up on her knees, Dee straddled him, yanking her black sports bra off over her head, moaning as his hands traced lightly up her ribs, his mouth planting soft kisses across her chest.
Snagging a handful of chestnut curls, she pulled his head up before he got carried away. Her mouth descended on his again, this time letting his tongue dance with hers as she lowered her body to his, moaning softly against his lips as skin met skin. His arms moved around her, pulling her closer, his fingers lightly outlining the muscles of her back and shoulders.
The intimate contact was only increasing their need for each other, and Dee could feel his desire burning against her own arousal. With a groan, she broke their kiss. "Think we can make it to the bedroom?" she asked, getting to her feet somewhat unsteadily. Blair's answer was unintelligible, but he followed her the few steps across the floor, falling with her in a tangle of arms and legs onto the bed.
They made love slowly, touching, tasting, savoring each other, as Madonna's voice sang from the other room, something about "nothing really matters, love is all we need", words they took to heart. At the height of passion, she called his name, and he pressed her back into the pillows, their hands locked together above her head, their bodies moving in an intricate rhythm. "Lobo, look at me," she whispered, and he did, peering into eyes of blue flame, seeing the depth of her love for him. Then he was she, and she was he, and they were one, soaring high above the earth, the brilliant moon and stars a backdrop for their rapture.
Blair awoke to the sensation of being warm, almost uncomfortably so. Opening one eye, he discovered why. His blanket was 150 pounds of unclothed, modern-day Amazon. Dee was sprawled across him, one arm over his chest, and a leg wrapped around his hips. Her chin rested on his shoulder, and he could feel her soft breath tickling his ear. He lay there quietly, not wanting to wake her, feeling her heart beating against his ribs. He concentrated on its relaxed, steady rhythm, slowly realizing its echo beat inside his own chest. That was a little weird, he thought, but kind of cool. Grinning, he curled his arm up and brushed her hair out of her face. She wiggled her nose, but showed no other sign of waking up. He glanced at the clock, noting it was almost nine am. He stretched, feeling almost decadent. He hadn't slept this late since he had started training with Dee. Of course, they probably hadn't gotten to sleep until almost four.
He felt a silly smile spreading across his face as he remembered their passion. Dee had shown him things he'd never dreamed of. Like how the inside of his left elbow was an erogenous zone. She'd kissed him there, and he'd almost hit the ceiling. He'd discovered a few places like that on her body too, the small of her back, the lobe of her ear. The memories were intense enough to arouse him all over again. Just as he was beginning to get a little uncomfortable, he felt lips gently nibbling along his jaw. Turning his head to the side, he found her incredible blue eyes gazing into his own. "Hey," he said.
She smiled. "Hey," she replied, then nothing intelligent was said for quite a long time.
When they finally got out of bed, it was almost 11:30. Blair let Dee have the shower, and he padded into the kitchen, having thrown on a pair of sweats first. Coffee was on the top of his list, then he began slicing cheese and breaking eggs into a bowl in preparation for making omelets. By the time Diandra made her appearance, clad in the short blue robe he so liked, all the ingredients needed were to be combined and poured into the skillet. He gave her a quick kiss as he passed her on the way to the shower.
Dee was just pouring the first omelet into the pan, when she felt her Immortal sense tingle, followed by a knock at the door. Turning the heat down on the stove, she went to answer it. Methos slouched in the doorway, a sly grin on his face. "Ah, the lovebirds are awake," he said, sniffing the air appreciatively. "Is that eggs I smell?"
Stepping back, Diandra let the older man enter, leaving him to close the door behind him as she returned to the kitchen. Methos took a seat at the breakfast bar, and leaned his chin on his hands, his sharp eyes watching her intently.
"What do you want, Methos?" she finally asked in an irritated voice.
"I'd like a beer," he said, "but since I know you don't have any, I'll settle for that omelet."
Sighing, she slid the eggs from the skillet onto a plate and set it down in front of him. As an afterthought, she put a mug and the coffeepot in front of him too. "Okay, now you're fed. What do you want?"
"These are really good," he said around a mouthful. He washed it down with a swallow of coffee, then said, "I'm just curious about your friend. He's not one of us, and yet I sense he's not quite mortal either."
"You can wonder all you want; I don't have any answers for you." She started another omelet.
The dark haired man quirked an eyebrow at her turned back. "My, my, my, aren't we being a little bit bitchy this morning? Your young man not live up to your expectations? You know, Mac's going to be awfully disappointed when he finds out about lover boy."
Dee whirled on him, her spatula raised. "What in the hell are you talking about?"
"Why Dee, haven't you figured it out by now? Mac's too much of a gentleman to say anything, but that Scot has it bad for you."
He was being just a little too smug for her taste, and she looked at him, hard. "I think you're being a prick this morning just to piss me off, Methos," she said, her tone dangerous.
"You know, that 'other' sight of yours takes all the fun out of teasing you. But I had you going there, didn't I? You worried that if push came to shove your little mortal would be no match for one of us?" Methos paused, waiting for Dee to leap over the breakfast bar at him. Instead, she calmly turned her omelet, a secretive smile on her face. The ancient Immortal suddenly found himself flat on his back on the floor, his stool having been yanked out from under him.
An angry anthropologist stood over him, hands clenched into fists. "This 'little mortal' can take care of himself. Dee's right, you are an ungrateful prick, Adam or Methos, or whatever the hell your name is. She lets you in here, feeds you breakfast, and tolerates your line of bullshit. If I were her, I would have killed you long ago."
"I did, actually," Dee piped up. "Twice. Things just kept getting in the way of me taking his head."
Blair walked around the prone Immortal and into the kitchen. Diandra handed him a plate of eggs. "So, Adam, I think you owe me for interrupting our morning," she said.
Getting to his feet, Methos righted his stool. "What do you want, Dee?"
"I want a workout. You, me, in the gym, fifteen minutes."
"Gods, Dee, you wipe the floor with me every time we spar... "
"And I'm going to do it again today," she said, heading toward the bedroom to change her clothes.
Shaking his head, Methos said, "I should have stayed at Joe's."
Blair put his plate in the sink. "You got that right, man." He followed Dee into the other room.
Ellison exited the elevator and headed for the loft. Thank god that was over with. After dropping the transfer paperwork off at the station, he'd headed straight home. He'd been fighting a headache the whole drive back from San Francisco, and now all he wanted to do was check in with his guide and catch some Z's. Blair had to be home, his Volvo was parked in its usual place out back, but Jim had noticed that Diandra's Cherokee was gone. Just as well, she was the last person he wanted to deal with today.
Unlocking the door to the loft, he stepped over the threshold, belatedly aware of the three men inside. Dropping his overnight bag, he reached behind him for his weapon, but a blow to the back sent him to his knees. He came up charging though, knocking one of his attackers over the couch. Again he tried to draw his gun, and this time succeeded, only to have it knocked out of his hand by a solid kick. He threw a punch blindly, and felt it connect, the man falling to the floor in a daze. That left two of them, both circling him warily. Trying to draw a deep breath, Jim felt a stab of pain in his back, and knew that first blow had cracked ribs. Ignoring the ache, he went for the man closest to him.
A punch to the stomach doubled the thug over, and Jim whirled to face the attack he knew was coming from behind. What he didn't expect was three feet of gleaming metal slashing into his side. Both hands clutching at the bleeding wound, Ellison pitched forward and passed out.
The sound of ringing steel echoed through the dojo. Dee and Methos had been at it for over half an hour. Blair watched from a bench to the side, simply in awe of his lover. He had known she was good with a sword, had watched her do solo drills numerous times, but to actually see her in action... she was pure poetry. Her katana whirled and sliced through the air, catching the Excaliber Methos had produced from somewhere every time. Blair could even tell she was only working at about 3/4 her normal speed, not wanting to get past the other Immortal's guard and actually hurt him.
She could see Methos was tiring; he didn't spend nearly enough time training, as both she and MacLeod had told him many times. The older Immortal preferred avoiding a challenge by whatever means possible, be that leaving the country, or getting someone else, most often MacLeod, to fight for him. Taking pity on him, she ended it quickly, stepping in close as she caught his sword on hers, bringing them both up locked together. Methos stepped back, and tripping over the leg she had extended behind him, fell to the floor. Dee stepped on his wrist, and touched the end of her sword to his chest. "I think you're dead, Adam," she told him. Releasing him, she gave him a hand up from the floor.
"Thank god," he said. "Are you done punishing me?"
"Yeah... not yet," Dee answered, going to the wall and taking down two quarterstaffs. "Come here, Lobo."
Rising from his seat, Blair walked out to her. She gave him one of the staffs, and tossed the other to Methos. "Let's see how you do against Blair, old man. He's getting too good for me; he knows all my moves."
Handing his sword to Dee, Methos sighed and set himself. "I'm really, really sorry I insulted you, Dee. Can I go home now?"
Laughing, Dee shook her head. "Just go 15 minutes with him, and I'll let you go."
The two men circled each other, looking for a weakness. Blair felt his stomach slowly begin to knot, as he realized he was facing a 5000 year old fighter, who even though he might appear rusty with a sword, probably had forgotten more about fighting than Dee had been able to teach Blair in the short time she'd been working with him.
Methos took the first swing, wanting to get the fight over with so he could nurse his bruised ego with a few beers at Joe's. Blair brought his staff up smoothly, blocking the blow, the force of it stinging his hands. It was a good pain though, and it helped him focus. He parried a few more blows, watching Methos closely, analyzing his style, and changing his own to match it. At the end of what Blair thought was 15 minutes, he stopped a roundhouse swing from the older man by stepping inside it and catching it on his vertical staff, the end firmly planted on the floor. Before Methos could disentangle his pole, Blair brought one of his other skills into play, landing a solid kick to the Immortal's stomach, knocking the wind out of him. Methos dropped his staff and doubled over, wheezing.
When he could breathe again, he gave Dee a pitiful look. "Please, please tell me you're done beating up on me now."
"Okay," Dee started to say, when she heard a gasp from Blair. Turning around, she found him on his knees, both hands clutching his side. "Lobo!" she cried, moving to him immediately. By the time she reached him though, Blair was getting to his feet, shaking the strange sensation off. "What happened?" she asked worriedly.
Blair shook his head. "I don't know. For a couple seconds there, I felt this excruciating pain, then it went away as fast as it came. Must have been a muscle cramp or something." Not satisfied with his answer, Dee probed his side with her fingers, but even her heightened touch found nothing.
Methos was gathering up his sword and preparing to leave, when the phone in the dojo's office rang. Dee ran to answer it. "DeSalvo's Dojo."
"Dee, I thought I might find you in the gym. This is Joe. I think we've found the man you're looking for. How soon can you get to the bar?"
She thought for a moment. "Give us 45 minutes to get cleaned up, and we'll be there." Hanging up the phone, she walked back into the gym. "Joe has something for us, Lobo. Let's go get changed. You can let yourself out, Adam?" Methos nodded, and Dee and Blair got on the elevator and headed upstairs.
True to her word, Blair and Dee entered Joe's bar 45 minutes later, having sprinted through two showers, dishwashing and sheet changing. The bearded man was waiting for them, and ushered them into his office. "Finally heard from your watcher last night, Dee, after you left. She was sitting out in the parking lot most of the night, waiting for you to leave," he said with a chuckle. "I told her she could take today off, if she would go home and run through the profiles we'd looked at yesterday." Joe started up the Watcher database, and while it loaded, he continued his explanation. "Judy's a pretty smart lady, young, but a good head on her shoulders. After she didn't recognize anyone in the files we'd pulled up, she looked in the inactive file, and hit pay dirt." An old photo of a man with long hair and scraggly beard came up on the screen.
"This," Joe said, "is the last known photo of Phillipe Seis, taken in 1969. He disappeared from our records after that, and was assumed dead. He fits what you told me yesterday, Dee. He's 275, and spent most of his young immortal life as a pirate. Quite the Caribbean terror according to his chronicle. Does he look at all familiar to either of you?"
Diandra studied the picture for a moment, then shook her head. "No, not to me. How about you, Lobo?"
Pulling out his glasses, Blair slipped them on, and moved closer to the screen. "There's something about the eyes... Joe, you have some imaging software in here right? Like we use at the police station to do composites?"
Nodding slowly, Joe said, "Yes, yes we do. We use it to update Immortals files when they change their appearance, and we don't have a current photo." He tapped a few keys, and then the program was running.
"May I?" Blair asked, and Joe rolled his chair out of the way, letting the anthropologist at the computer. With a few quick clicks of the mouse, Blair imported the photo into the new program, and told the computer to remove the beard, and trim and darken the hair. Another click of the mouse, and the computer applied his changes to the photo. As the new photo loaded on the screen, Blair gasped.
Dee leaned toward him, her hand going to his shoulder. "What is it?"
"God, no," Blair said in a hushed whisper, "that's Evan Kendall."
"Who?" Joe and Dee chorused in unison.
Hitting print, Blair said, "Three years ago I was responsible for sending him to prison. He was a big wig in Cascade, a big donor to the university. As a member of the anthro staff, I attended a fund-raiser at his mansion. While looking for the bathroom, I accidentally opened the door to his art collection. Just my luck that the last time he was in there, he hadn't closed it all the way, and the lock didn't catch." Blair shook his head, "Just dumb luck. There were hundreds of paintings on the walls, hung floor to ceiling, climate-controlled, the whole bit. Which would have been fine, except even I, who took a single class in art history ten years ago, recognized that most of the paintings hadn't been seen since World War II and earlier." He paused to take a breath, and Dee's fingers squeezed his shoulder.
"What happened?" Joe asked.
"I got out of there as fast as I could, and once I found the restroom, I called Simon. He didn't believe me at first, but once he contacted the Feds, they were there with a warrant before the party was even over. They arrested Kendall in front of all his society friends. He was furious. He was even more furious when I testified at his trial. They sentenced him to twenty-five years in prison at a federal penitentiary. There's no way he could be out now, unless he escaped." Reaching up, he ran his fingers through his hair. "He threatened to kill me, Dee," he whispered, the blood slowly draining from his face.
"Oh, Lobo," she said, pulling him into a comforting embrace.
"That's why he was on campus yesterday," he said, his words muffled by her shoulder. "He was looking for me... looking for me... OH GOD, JIM!" Pulling away from her, Blair glanced wildly around the room for a phone. Joe pointed it out to him on the desk. Snatching it up, Blair dialed the number for Jim's cell phone, then just as quickly hung up as he got the user unavailable message. Panicking now, he tried the loft, and was relieved to get a busy signal "Thank you, thank you!" he said fervently, rolling his eyes heavenward. Taking a deep breath, he called the station and asked for Simon.
"Banks," came the short reply.
"Simon, this is Blair, do you know where Jim is?"
Puzzled, Captain Banks said slowly, "Yes, he was here about an hour ago, dropping off his paper work, then headed home. Why, isn't he there?"
"I don't know, Simon, I'm not there, I'm in Seacouver. It's a long story, but I have to have you check on something for me. Is Evan Kendall still in jail?"
"As far as I know, why?"
Blair swallowed with difficulty. "I just found out he was seen on Rainier campus yesterday. Just check for me, Simon, please. Call me on my cell phone when you get an answer." He glanced at Dee, and she nodded. "We're on our way back to Cascade right now."
While Blair had been on the phone, Dee had taken over the computer, printing out all the records on Phillipe Seis, AKA Evan Kendall. Grabbing them off the printer, she snatched up her trenchcoat and gave Joe a peck on the cheek. "I'll call you later, let you know how this turns out."
Rising to his feet, Blair hung up the phone, and followed Dee out the door. Hearing the exit to the bar close behind them, Joe picked up the phone, and dialed a number. "Judy, I know I told you you could have today off, but something's come up. Diandra is on her way back to Cascade now. You can probably pick her up at her apartment in about an hour. Thanks, Judy." He set the receiver back in the cradle and rubbed his hand over his eyes. He hoped whatever deity Diandra believed in was looking out for her, looking out for her and Blair both.
The searing pain in his side woke Jim. Finding the pain dial, he turned it down to a dull roar, and tried to sit up. The scrape of metal on concrete filled his ears, and he was aware of a heavy weight around his neck. Deciding a sitting position wasn't such a good idea, he remained prone, letting his eyes adjust to the dim light. He was in a small, windowless room, the only light coming from under the door. It was completely empty, except for him, and a thick chain that stretched from a ring in the wall to a metal collar around his neck. Both ends of the chain were fastened in place by strong padlocks. As he surveyed the room, he could see that it was oddly shaped, almost a pie slice, the wall at his back being the curve of the slice, and the door opposite him the point.
He examined his injury next, noting that his captors had at least bandaged it, though the gauze they'd taped over it was stiff with blood, and he could feel the precious liquid still oozing from the wound, though at a much slower rate than before. It didn't take someone with his training, though, to realize that if he didn't get medical attention soon, he would most likely bleed to death.
Turning up his hearing, he noticed a faint roaring sound, like when he put a seashell to his ear. Focusing on it more closely, he realized it was the sound of the surf striking some kind of breakwater, but where along the miles of Cascade coastline he was, he couldn't tell. He turned his attention to the sounds inside the building, and located three voices, most likely the men who had kidnapped him. He listened to their conversation for a few minutes, and realized he had not been the real target of their attack. One of them, the leader by the sound of it, was bent on revenge against Sandburg. Jim had just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and they had taken him to use as bait.
"Be safe, Chief, please be safe," Jim whispered to whatever gods were listening. "When you find out I'm missing don't do anything stupid, let Simon know, let him handle it." Exhausted, Jim closed his eyes, and fell into a feverish sleep.
Dee steered the Jeep rapidly toward Cascade, the speedometer hovering 15 miles over the sped limit, while Blair continued to try to get Jim on the phone. The line at the loft was still busy, and he was almost sure something had happened to Jim. As he clicked the disconnect button, the phone chirped, and he answered it with an anxious "Jim?"
"Sorry, Sandburg, it's Simon."
"Simon, Jim's in trouble, I know it. I've been getting a busy signal at the apartment for the last half hour."
"I've got some men on the way over there now. You were right about Kendall. He was supposedly killed in a prison fight three days ago, but then his body disappeared from the morgue. They're thinking the whole thing was a ruse for him to escape. I'll call you back as soon as I know anything more. Hang on just a minute." Simon put Blair on hold for what seemed like an eternity, then came back on the line. "Jim's not at the loft, but it looks like there was a struggle, and his truck's parked out back. I'm leaving for there right now, Blair."
Blair glanced at Dee. "Tell him 15 minutes, Lobo," she said, edging the gas pedal closer to the floor, the Cherokee leaping ahead.
Relaying the info to Captain Banks, Blair laid the cell phone in his lap, his fingers tightening around it. "I should have been there, I should have been there," he whispered.
"You can't blame yourself, Lobo," Dee told him, her voice gentle. "If you had been there, Jim might be fine, but you would most likely be dead. I don't think Jim would find that an acceptable alternative and neither do I." Blair glanced up at her, finding her eyes a strange contradiction of love and rage. "If anything's happened to him, we will find him. And Kendall is mine." The intensity on her face at those words was frightening, and Blair was suddenly very glad this fierce warrior was on his side.
Diandra made a little better time once she was inside the city limits than she thought she would, and she was pulling to a stop in front of the loft ten minutes later. Blair was out of the car and running up the stairs before Dee had the engine turned off. She followed him inside a few minutes later, bringing their bags, and dropping them off in her apartment before crossing the hall.
He stood in the open doorway of the loft, watching the forensic team at work. Simon was just inside the door, talking on the phone, gesturing with an unlit cigar. Dee came up behind Blair sliding her arm around his waist and squeezing reassuringly. "Have they... " she started, and then she caught a whiff of blood. "Auggh," she said, putting her hand over her mouth and turning away. Cursing under her breath, she tried to turn down her sense of smell.
She felt Blair's hand on her arm, as he came out of his shell-shocked state long enough to help her. "Turn the scent dial down, Dee," he said gently, his other hand rubbing her back. She almost had it under control when Captain Banks noticed them.
"Sandburg!" he bellowed. "What's that civilian doing in here? Get her out of here, now!"
"Simon," Blair began, then stopped as he realized his voice had cracked.
Dee looked up at the tall black man. "We'll be over in my apartment," she said, taking charge of the situation. "Please let us know when you're finished in here." She led Blair across the hall and inside 308, leaving the door open.
Dee took a seat on the sofa, where she could keep an eye on the activity across the hall. Blair paced anxiously, berating himself for being unable to stop what had happened to his partner. Coming to a halt in front of her, he finally voiced his darkest fear. "There's an awful lot of blood in there, Dee. Do you think he's... ." He couldn't say the words.
Grasping his wrist, she pulled him down next to her on the couch. "No, no, I don't, Lobo. Believe me, you would know it if he were dead. In here," she said, placing her hand on his chest. "It would hurt like nothing you've ever felt in your life. You don't feel that way do you?" He shook his head. "Then the connection is still there. If your police friends don't come up with anything, we can use that connection to find him."
"What if we're too late?" Blair said. "What if we don't find him in time? We don't even know how long he's been gone, how long he's been hurt."
Sliding an arm around his shoulders, Dee pulled him into a comforting embrace. He resisted at first, then collapsed against her. "We do know how long he's been injured, Blair. I'm betting he was hurt at the same time you felt that pain in the gym. That was a little over three hours ago. The trail is still fresh, and I'm sure your friends will find something to go on."
Blair shook his head, wanting to believe in the kind of spiritual connection she was talking about, but at the same time afraid to put his trust in something he couldn't test or measure. He felt her fingers stroking his hair, and he buried his face in her neck, letting her strength support him. He could hear her whispering softly to him. He couldn't catch all the words, but it sounded like she was telling him to take half her strength, and she would take half his pain. Her offer sounded so tempting... he was so scared for Jim, so afraid of losing him. He couldn't imagine his life with out the detective in it. "Please, Dee," he whispered, "please help me."
Her hand moved from around his back to grasp his. Bringing their clasped hands up between them, she concentrated, and spoke a few words in a language he couldn't understand. Even through his closed eyelids, he could see the point where their hands met glow with a soft blue light. The moment was over so quickly, Blair thought he must have imagined it, yet somehow his heart no longer felt quite as heavy as it had. He glanced up at Dee, and she smiled and kissed his forehead gently. "'Tis done," she said. "We are bound."
For a brief moment, Blair felt panic. "Jim, what about Jim?" he asked anxiously, suddenly afraid he had entered into something that would drive the sentinel out of his life.
"Jim is right here," she reassured him, once again putting her hand over his heart. "And right here," she said as she put his hand on her chest. "Three is a powerful number, Lobo. I am now bound to you, and through you to Jim." A small frown flickered on her lips. "Though Jim might take exception to that idea."
Blair had a hundred more questions, but at that moment Simon stuck his head in the door. "We're all through in there, Sandburg. Rafe and Brown got the description of a van one of your neighbors saw parked outside most of the night. One of the men in it fits the description of Kendall. We're trying to trace the van now."
"Thanks, Simon," he said, suddenly feeling like he had some control over the situation. Rising, he held out his hand to her. "Come on, Dee, I want us to go over the loft the way I would with Jim. Maybe we can find something they missed." She followed him across the hall, putting her champion senses in the guide's capable hands.
Simon came back upstairs after giving instructions to his men, wanting to reassure Sandburg that they were doing everything they could to find Ellison. What he saw when he entered the loft gave him a shock. The Pallas woman was crouched on the floor near the slowly drying pool of blood. Blair knelt next to her, one hand on her back, speaking to her in a voice Simon knew from experience was pitched for Sentinel ears only. His first thought was, "My god, Jim was right to mistrust her; she is another Alex Barnes." He almost said so out loud, but Blair and Dee had gotten to their feet, and he was leading her to another area of the apartment. He could see Blair asking her a question, and her shaking her head.
"Okay, Dee," Blair said, "I guess that's enough. If there's nothing here, there's nothing here. We'll have to hope Simon comes through with that van."
"I'm sorry, Lobo," she said. "I've never gone over a crime scene before. I don't know what I'm looking for, hell, I could have found something, and not know it."
"It's okay," he reassured her. "I know you, if there was anything here, we would have found it. Thanks for trying." He brushed the back of his fingers along her cheek, in what Simon thought to be an peculiarly intimate gesture for two people who were neighbors, or even sentinel and guide. It looked more like a lover's caress.
Dee became aware of his presence. Her back stiffened, and she let go of Blair's hand. She inclined her head an inch in Banks' direction, and Blair turned toward Simon.
He was clearly flustered by his captain's appearance. "Uh, sir, we were... uh... "
Captain Banks decided to cut through the bullshit. Explanations could wait until after they found Ellison. "Did you find anything we missed?"
"No, sir," Blair replied.
Simon glared at both of them, noticing that Sandburg fidgeted under his gaze, but Diandra met his eyes calmly, her expression neutral. "Well, let me know if you come up with anything, and I'll do the same." Turning, the tall man left the apartment, heading back to the station to supervise the search.
"Oh that's just great," Blair said in disgust, as soon as Simon was out of earshot. "Depending on how long he was standing there, he probably has a pretty good idea you're a Sentinel."
Shrugging, Dee said, "It doesn't matter now. Finding Ellison is the important thing. Come on." Leading him back across the hallway to her apartment, she closed the door behind them, then led him into the center of the studio, pulling a workout mat down on the floor. Taking a seat on the mat, she motioned for Blair to do the same.
Once she had them both sitting face to face in a cross-legged meditation position, she allowed him to ask his questions. "What are we doing? How is this going to help us find Jim?"
"We're going to use that connection we've talked about... ."
"I can't, I don't know how... " Blair protested. "Hell, half the time I have no idea what I'm doing as a Guide; I just make it up as I go along. Jim deserves better... "
Dee grasped his fluttering hands and rubbed her thumbs gently over the backs of them. "Blair, you have to trust in yourself. I know you can do this. You've walked the spirit world before, what makes this so different?"
Shaking his head furiously, he said, "No, no I haven't. That's always been Jim's thing; he's been the one with the visions and the jaguar... I don't have that power... Incacha made me Jim's Shaman, but he didn't have time to teach me what to do... " He was beginning to hyperventilate.
Reaching up, Dee clasped the back of his neck, forcing him to focus on her words. "If you don't have faith in yourself, do you have faith in me?"
Blair nodded slowly. "I don't know... I... you were a priestess, right, that's what you said... "
"Yes, I was a priestess. I've walked the spirit path more than once. But I'm not Jim's soulmate, you are. I can take us there, but you're the only one who can find him."
"And what if I can't? What if Jim dies because we can't find him in time?" Blair's voice had taken on a panic-stricken edge.
Dee captured his face in her hands. "Lobo, Blair, do you trust me?"
His tear-filled eyes met her electric blue ones. Searching for any sign of doubt in them, he found only a quiet confidence, and a strength he wished he possessed. "Yes," he finally whispered, "I trust you."
She nodded then, satisfied with his answer. "Then we will find him." Taking his hands in hers once again, she said, "Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Let out all the tension, all the fear with each breath. Relax, and find your center."
After a few minutes, Blair felt the familiar calm settle over him. "I'm ready," he said.
"Good, just close your eyes and let your spirit go. There's nothing to be afraid of, I will be your anchor." So saying, Diandra began to chant in what Blair had come to recognize as ancient Greek.
Closing his eyes, he felt everything fade away, except for the warmth of Dee's hands still clasping his own, and then even that security vanished. Frightened, he opened his eyes. The sights, sounds and smells of hundreds of plants and animals assaulted his senses. Turning around slowly, he saw trees surrounding him on all sides, extending so high over head they blocked out the sun, relegating his vision to shades of black and white. No path or trail marred the unbroken foliage.
"Now what?" he said aloud, and jumped in surprise when it came out as a growl. For the first time, he took a good look at himself. In place of the clothes he'd been wearing, there was now fur. Lots and lots of silver fur. He raised one hand, and a paw lifted from the dirt floor of the forest. Terrified now, he opened his mouth and screamed. A blood-curdling howl echoed back at him through the jungle.
Immortal Series Page