I would like to thank Michelle and Cindy for all their
*hard* work - without them there would be a lot less commas and some hilarious
and unintentional gaffs. Who knew that, in
Angie - who put the match to the touch paper and catalysed this whole story.... one innocent little comment and see what results.
Last, but not least.... Everyone wave to Seah - who puts up with the most abstruse and weird questions fairly regularly, she also adds insight and betas.
1) PG-15 with a horror content. This is a follow on to ĎOur Unconquerable Soulí, but if I have done this correctly you shouldnít have to read the prequel.
2) Original characters
3) Whilst not a crossover, per se, Father Philip Callaghan and the Legacy concept play a role.
4) Smarm, h/c, (what a surprise)
5) Summary... far to complicated. <rolls eyes heavenward> Okay. the guys get involved with a kidnapper of children who is far more than what he seems. This has important repercussions on the Sentinel/Guide relationship.
6) specific spoilers for the episodes ĎCypherí and ĎWarriorsí
ĎThe Sentinelí and ĎPoltergeist: The Legacyí donít belong to me they belong to other people.
Death in the Family
Chapter One - Death in the Family: Walking with the Dead
James Ellison, detective of the Cascade Police department, and Sentinel - possessor of hyperactive senses - opened one eye, suddenly and abruptly awake. He had had a really, really bad day... a day that had spanned into the night. He had been using his enhanced senses throughout the day. A crime scene had initially provided no clues. After fine focusing his sight, he had managed to find a long, dark hair under the murder victimís clothes. The hair had born a distinct chemical odour that had led him to a hair stylist in the same building and ultimately the murderer. The leg work between finding the hair and finding the killer had been tedious, time consuming and straining as he had brought sight, smell, touch and hearing in his attempt to stop the murderer before he struck again. He had succeeded with his partnerís help.
What every functioning Sentinel needed, and had been driven home to him today, was that he really needed his partner. Archaic old text books called his partner a Guide, mainly Jim guessed, because he guided him on how to best utilise his senses. His partner, Blair Sandburg, also had any uncanny ability to focus the Sentinelís concentration on matters at hand, preventing him segueing in to a fugue type state. Jim Ellisonís thoughts wandered sleepily; calling Blair a shaman was another name. The second time he had met his soon-to-be-guide he had called him a witch doctor. He was fairly sure if he likened a witch doctor to a shaman Blair would lecture at him on the correct appellations of... His thoughts wandered again. Sleep calling him.
ĎIím going to kill him.'
They had had such a long day. He wanted to go to sleep. When they had finally escaped from the precinct, they had driven straight home. As tired as each other, they had weaved into the loft. Neither had had the energy to eat. They had merely separated, heading to their respective bedrooms.
Now it was two hours later and said Guide was talking on the telephone to someone keeping him awake. Jim reached under his pillow and pulled out his gun - tempted for one second to fire it at the ceiling - that would certainly shut up the kid. Then again the neighbours would be calling the police in a heartbeat. Reluctantly, Jim put the gun back, not really considering using it to scare his Guide talking ceaselessly below him.
He threw back his heavy quilt and climbed out of bed. One hand on the wall, he padded down the stairs. His sentinel eyesight easily picked out the shapes of furniture in the loft as he made his way unerringly to his Guideís bedroom. The glass doors were open. Jim began to creep; tickling was the order of the day. Then he saw their cell phones on the large wooden table. If the kid wasnít talking on the phone, to whom was he talking? He couldnít hear anyone else in the loft. Intrigued, and slightly worried, he poked his head around the doorway. The throw pillows, which usually lay on the kidís bed, were dumped on the floor with his discarded jeans and flannel shirt. His guide was flat on his back, the blankets draped over his chest. His arms were flung over his head, in a surrender position of total relaxation. He was soundly asleep. The kid couldnít fool a sentinel; he was indeed sound asleep; breathing regular and deep.
He moved his head to the side and his lips moved.
Blair Sandburg was talking in his sleep.
ĎI wonder if heíll wake up if I gag him?í
"No ~ Nah ~ not really. A sentinel is a protector..."
Jim leaned against the door jamb and crossed his arms. This could, possibly, prove to be illuminating.
"... interesting point. Territoriality. Umm, have to remember that."
Abruptly his Guide sat up, reached for a notebook set conveniently beside his bed and began to scribble furiously.
"Cross reference territoriality and the occurrence of sentinels. Null hypothesis: number of sentinels in a population constant. Test hypothesis: changes in number of sentinels in areas of conflict. Gotta test it. Something missing there," he said absently, still quite asleep. "I guess conflict in an area for territory will concentrate sentinels in a given area, not necessarily increase the number of sentinels in a population or populations. What do you think?"
Jim started, automatically looking behind him. There was no one there. As he turned, Blair was burrowing under the blankets. The notebook had been discarded onto the pile on the floor. Blair snuffled innocently into his pillow.
ĎDamn, he doesnít even stop working when heís asleep,í Jim reflected. He shook his head and slowly made his way back up the stairs to the bed that was calling him. Perhaps now that he knew that Blair was simply sleeptalking, heíd be able to sleep.
He pulled his allergy-free down quilt over his head, finding his own burrow under the sheets. The kid often talked in his sleep, muttering to himself, but it had never disturbed him before. Why had it woken him up tonight even though he was bone weary? Sleep claimed him before he could finish the thought.
A Year and a day later....
The cyclist dodged in between the trucks and cars. There was a squeal of brakes, a deft twitch of the handlebars, and the bike crossed the street avoiding a large truck. Distantly, Blair was aware that the driver was flashing a gesture; he ignored it.
Turning down a side street, the cyclist left the manic traffic behind him. The trees on either side of the street brought a sense of calm to the suburb. His hair flying out from under the cycling helmet, the rider enthusiastically cycled up the road leaving the noisy city behind him. The old houses in well appointed gardens seemed to greet him. At the end of the road was a rambling house. When he had met the occupant during an investigation, he had quickly discovered a kindred soul willing to share a host of stories and had since visited regularly.
Waiting on the drive, an old woman pruned her beloved roses. Although she appeared to be working, she was, in reality, waiting for her guest. Simonís Aunt was impeccably dressed, her elegant dress protected by a flowery apron. Despite the unseasonably warm autumnal weather her hair was ordered and coiffured whereas the cyclistís stuck this way and that.
The mountain bike coasted to a halt and, lightly, Blair dismounted.
"Hi, ZoŽ," he said brightly.
"Blair, how are you?" She was always the essence of politeness.
"Excellent." Blair tucked his bike behind the gatepost. He yanked off his sweaty helmet and balanced it on the seat. "You look well."
"I blossom in this heat," ZoŽ responded, putting an artificial Southern twang into her voice.
Blair grinned at her ebullience as he shook his head, working out the matted hair into a frenzy of curls. He was practically vibrating with energy.
"Jim, Simon and me found the little boy, who was kidnapped the other day, in the Cascade Woods this morning, safe and well."
Executing a dance and a spin, he caught ZoŽ by her hands and swung her around. The old lady joined in. Blair carefully spun once more and then stilled.
"You know, it makes it all worthwhile when this happens." His eyes gleamed.
"So why arenít you out celebrating with Simon and Jim instead of coming to see an old woman?" she chided gently.
Blair blinked, a tad confused. "I told you I was coming last week, when I met you after seeing Philip." He shrugged his backpack off his shoulders and began to rummage. "Look, I found that book that you mentioned." He held out ĎThe God of the Witchesí by M.A.Murray.
"Arenít you the sweetest."
Blair stubbed his foot against the ground pretending to be shy. "Gee, shucks."
She aimed a swat at his head, then reached up and ruffled his curls. "Coffee?"
"Hot chocolate?" Blair tried.
"With marshmallows and cream?"
"But of course."
Arm in arm, they wandered up the path.
"The reference you were after is on page six. It states, and I quote: that Theodore of Tarsus, with the aid of Hadrian, the Negro, organised the Church in England in the seventh century."
Flipping the pages of the book, ZoŽ found the reference that Blair had underlined with a post-it note.
"Well, Iíll be, just as I remember." She ran her fingers over the text.
"I skimmed the rest of the text. The dialogue isnít what you would call politically correct but itís an interesting treatise."
"Political correctness is a recent innovation, Blair," ZoŽ reminded gently. "Iíve been called worse names to be offended by a book which is over eighty years old and by a writer who didnít intend any insult, any rate."
"Yeah, but..." Blair hedged.
"But nothing. Iíll add this reference to my essay on the advent of the Christian Church. And discuss it, thoroughly."
"Oh, boy. Bet you will."
ZoŽ squeezed his arm. "So tell me all about finding this little boy."
Blair told her the edited version with extra Simon highlights.
One and half-hours later, Blair reluctantly took his leave of Simonís aunt, since he wanted to avoid the heavy traffic of rush hour. The sugar rush of double strength hot chocolate with extra cream and sugar would get him back to the precinct in half the time it normally took.
Retrieving his mountain bike from the bushes he heard a quiet cough. Startled, he spun on his heel. The priest from the rectory, next door, stood beside the gatepost.
"Philip. What are you trying to do? Give me a coronary?"
"Iím sorry." The young Catholic priest bowed his head apologetically.
"Itís okay." Blair flapped his hand, casually, in the manís direction before his doelike eyes became too sad.
The priest was as reserved as ever. After two years of friendship, Blair was slightly better at reading the manís body language than the average member of his congregation. He still hoped that one day Philip Callaghan would relax enough to laugh out loud, and at length, in his presence. The priest was still the temporary and reluctant preceptor at the Cascade Legacy House. The Sentinel and Guide had uncovered the secret of the philanthropic organisation known as the Luna Foundation that acted as a front for the secret society of the Legacy. In reality, the Legacy strove to protect the innocent from the forces of evil and the supernatural. Simonís Aunt ZoŽ, living next door, had seen something suspicious one evening in the Legacy House gardens. She had asked her nephew to investigate. He had responded by sending his detective/observer team to see what had happened. It had led to shocking events and a redefining of their belief systems - battling both daemons and horrors was suddenly very much part and parcel of their lives. Initially, Blair had thought that he would have no further interaction with the priest. That was until....
Curious, Blair ran his thumb over the parcel that Jim had brought into the apartment, drawing out the anticipation. He liked receiving packages, especially when they were a surprise. There was no senderís address. He had many friends and relatives over the world but this was posted locally. Why deliver if you lived locally? His friends would have visited the loft.
Curiosity gave way to action and he ripped the cardboard - no careful unwrapping, allowing for re-use - Naomi had brought him up to be excited about presents. One layer of cardboard gave way to another and then another. His burnt fingers were starting to hurt so he obtained a pair of scissors. Beneath the cardboard was a layer of bubblewrap, and beneath that, a layer of acid free paper. Blair was intrigued; a professional had wrapped this package. The final layer yielded to his scissors.
Three books were revealed: a small monograph; a large leather bound text and a flimsy collection of parchments bound by what looked like intestines. A shudder stopped him dead as he recognised the introductory text he had Ďborrowedí from the Legacy house. The other book was a copy of the Burton thesis on which he had based his Sentinel studies. Hands shaking, Blair rested his bandaged fingers on modern paper. Sticking out from between the pages was a small booklet of old parchment. Carefully, Blair pulled the pages free. Archaic, but understandable, English writing greeted him. He was robbed of breath as he realised that he held the chronicles of David the Mad - detailing the adventures of a sentinel and guide.
"Oh, shit." Blair cast a furtive glance at the bathroom, making sure that his Sentinel had not been disturbed by his outburst. Nothing moved.
Almost frantic, he rifled through the books. Interleaved between the acid free paper and the bubblewrap was a letter.
I hope this letter finds you well. I attempted to find you at the University, but I was informed that you had taken a few days sick leave and they would not give me your home address. The head librarian at the University mailed this package to you on my behalf. I realise that both you and Detective Ellison have been subjected to a horrific experience - if you feel you need to talk to someone, I can lend an ear.
No doubt you are wondering about the books? While searching for your identity on the internet, I came across the title of your Masterís thesis - the Sentinels are an intriguing concept. I noticed that you had looked up the reference whilst visiting the rectory. In addition I found the Burton monograph in the Dahlia flowerbeds, where it had landed after your escape. I requested the third book from the San Francisco branch. As you had displayed such interest in the texts, I thought you might wish to consult them for your research.
If you would be so kind to return the books at your leisure.
Blairís thoughts ran wild for a moment, fermenting every possible extrapolation of the words in the letter. He breathed rapidly, trying to calm his heart rate before Jim came barrelling out of the bathroom. Nothing in the letter said that the Legacy priest had figured out that Jim was a Sentinel. It was merely one scientist helping another. However, it did not bode well for the future.
"Chief, whatís the matter?" Jim stood in the bathroom doorway, a towel was wrapped around hips. Steam billowing behind him. The Sentinel did not, impressively, sound bored or resigned to his Guideís continuing fluctuating emotional state during the aftermath of their demonic experience.
"Callaghanís lent me the Sentinel books I found in the Legacy Library," Blair explained.
"I crashed the computer!"
"The search history must have been saved."
Blair had eventually, and reluctantly, returned the books to the Legacy house several weeks later. His feet had dragged down the drive and up the steep steps to the porch entrance. Warring with fear and memory, he had rang the doorbell and waited for retribution. He had expected a few sharp words from the priest - for all intents and purposes he had stolen the books from the Legacy library. Stolen was such a harsh word, borrowed without permission sounded much better. Father Callaghan didnít broach the subject. He was simply pleased to see the young student was hale and healthy after a shocking experience. A friendship had been born. After several meetings, Philip had carefully, and tentatively, introduced the subject of Sentinels. It hadnít taken very long for the talkative Guide to confirm that the priest had correctly identified the subject of his thesis.
"I saw your picture in the afternoon edition of the ĎCascade Timesí." Philip held up the front page before his eyes, breaking his reverie. In colour, a photograph of Blair carrying a small dark haired child graced the front cover. "I wanted to make sure that you were all right."
"Wow." Blair took the page. The child, running away from his kidnapper, had hidden in a sewer on the edge of the Cascade forest. Jim, utilising his sentinel abilities with his observerís help, had found the child. As the least threatening member of the party, Blair had had the dubious honour of crawling into, and retrieving, a very scared little boy from the pipe.
"Jim did it, Philip. He was great. He scented out the kidís candy. There wasnít a mark on him. Yeah, he was scared but the creep who took him hadnít had the time to do anything, you know."
"Thank God. Have you caught the kidnapper?"
Blair shook his head sadly. "Nah, the guy... or lady... is as slippery as an eel. The ransom note was really weird - the guy wants the mother."
The catholic priest shook from his head to heels. "Thatís disconcerting. And unusual?"
Fumbling with his cycling helmet, the grad student considered his words before speaking. "The F.B.I. are on the case, of course, it is a kidnapping and thatís a federal offence. The profiler with the agents told us that this guy asks for the mother - if the family goes through with what they think is an exchange - neither is seen again. The first family he attacked did not call the authorities, neither did the second - the moms and kids have never been found. That was the last time they heard anything until this kidnapping. The profiler says that heís probably left the state."
"Howís Jim handling that?" Philip asked wisely.
"Oh, boy." The grad student let out a whistle. "Going postal. As my mom would say, heís going to have to Ďlet it goí. Marcus doesnít remember anything about his kidnapper - there are no clues. I canít hang around, Philip. The departmentís heading down to the bar to celebrate finding the kid after the shift. But I was going to come Ďround and ask you if you want to go and see ĎKuduní at the Campus cinema next weekend?"
In his customary manner, Philip paused considering the invitation. He nodded gravely. "Yes, Blair."
"Cool." He jammed his cycling helmet on top of his curls. "Iíll get the tickets when theyíre available and email you. Okay?"
A smile graced Philipís solemn face. "Looking forward to it."
"Excellent." Grinning happily, and exuberant with the success of the morningís investigation, Blair cycled off, one hand on the handle bars and the other waving to both Father Callaghan and ZoŽ Banks at her living room window.
After dumping his mountain bike in the back of Jimís truck, Blair took advantage of the showers before the current shift finished. The detectives of both Major Crime and the other departments had, and Blair given it much consideration, a juvenile sense of humour when they were using the bathroom facilities. Intellectually, Blair knew it was their collective way of Ďburning off steamí. Since he was the butt of most of the jokes and towel flicking he preferred to pick his moments when he showered. One on one he could handle, perhaps even two on one but when there were ten intent on Ďamusingí themselves it reminded Blair too much of high school. Discretion was the better part of valour. He picked his fights carefully. He shaved quickly and surely and then dug out some clean clothes he had stowed at the bottom of Jimís locker.
Ten minutes before the end of the shift he was situated in front Jimís computer surfing the web. His partner and friend, James Ellison, was occupied in one of the interview rooms interrogating a potential suspect in the morningís kidnapping. If they had caught the kidnapper, who they had assumed had left the state, the day would continue to get better.
"Sandburg," a familiar bass voice interrupted his thoughts.
Blair lifted his head. "Yeah, Simon?"
The seriously tall captain of Major Crime loomed over him.
"Jim should be finished interviewing a suspect. Can you take this file down to him in room four?"
Blair left Simon shaking his head at his energetic departure. Since Simon was always bemoaning his excess energy, Blair didnít let it bother him.
He waited outside interview room four. Walking in on an interrogation in progress was never a sensible occupation. Occasionally he sat in on the stranger of Jimís cases, but in general he stayed outside.
The door slammed open and a pissed detective stormed out, slamming the door behind him. An annoyed Jim Ellison was a vision to behold. The muscle in his square jaw was pulsating. Blair jumped forward, raised both hands and planted them on Jimís chest. The papers, which Simon had given him, floated to the floor.
"Hey, hey, calm down."
"Damn nutballs," Jim huffed. "Wasting my time."
"What happened?" Blair asked. He could tell that the ex-ranger was indulging himself in a fit of temper.
"One of the newbies brought in a witness to the kidís kidnapping. A witness who *seemed* to know more than was good for him. The man has a perfect alibi; he was with his psychiatrist while the kid was being kidnapped. He just made some lucky guesses." Jimís anger seemed to deflate as quickly as it rose. He bent and picked up the file. Flicking through the reports, he noted, "Seems that our Ďsuspectí has made a habit of knowing more than he should and seeing aliens. Normally he sticks to the smaller precinct on the west-side."
Blair quickly scanned the reports as Jim looked at them. Stowe Craig was well known to the detectives of the west-side for either accepting responsibility for crimes he didnít commit or having Ďimportantí information.
"Poor guy," Blair said sympathetically.
"Whatever. Now we know him. We can ignore him."
The door opened and a stocky uniformed police officer conducted a short, frenetic looking brown haired man out of the interview room. His eyes flashed warily at the tall detective and he almost ducked behind the officer.
ĎMr Empathic strikes again,í Blair thought waspishly.
"Thank you for your help, Mr Craig. In future don't bother," Jim snapped.
Blair clamped his teeth on his bottom lip rather then yell at his partner.
ĎThat wouldnít be professional,í he told himself. ĎThat wouldnít be professional.í
Blair smiled tactfully at the nervous man, who immediately latched onto him. He dodged past Jim, giving him a wide berth, and moved into Blairís personal space.
"You have to believe me," he implored. "Itíll try it again. You have to stop him. I don't always know. You can try; you can know." He made the mistake of grabbing Blairís arm painfully hard.
Blair winced and Jim reacted. The man was wrenched away and literally thrown at the police officer.
"You okay, Chief?" He didnít wait for any acknowledgement before turning on the terrified little man. "Take him to his psychiatrist - sheís waiting outside for him."
Without further ado, the young policewoman escorted the psychiatric patient from Jimís presence.
Jim actually growled under his breath. "What a waste of time."
"The kidnapperís probably left the state. The F.B.I. said that that was his m.o.."
Jim trudged down the corridor. "Is that supposed to make me happy, Chief? No, donít answer that question. I just thought that we had something, instead of listening to some nutballís fantasies."
He breathed out hard, once. Impressively, he regained control.
"Did he hurt you, Chief?"
"Nah." Blair rubbed his bicep. "Are we still going to Tarantinoís?"
Tarantinoís was rocking. A haze of smoke hovered in the centre of the action, where Captain Banks sat regally directing some obscure party game. The jukebox was thumping out an old and familiar tune. Blair made a little shimmy and then danced his way across to the bar.
"Jim, my man." Henri waved him over.
A general shifting of chairs ensued until a space was made for the detective. Smiling, Jim joined them.
"Whatís the game?"
Rafe pointed at the television in the corner of the bar. An episode of ĎStar Trek: the Next Generationí was playing.
"Rules are simple," Henri interjected. "If Picard tugs on his tunic you have a drink. If Deanna Ďsenses strong emotioní. If Riker..."
"I get the picture." Jim said quellingly. He rocked back on his chair following Blairís progress to the bar. The kid had been intercepted four young-things en route, three of whom were probably seniors at Rainier University. They had been directed elsewhere... with a smile. The fourth was older, she stood at about six foot and probably weighed about one hundred pounds. Naturally curly, white blond hair tumbled down one side of her face. Blair was enthralled. The kid was always fond of rock climbing.
Cassie entered the bar. Jim sat back to enjoy the show. He found Cassie irritating, mainly because she tried so hard. In Sandburg it could be endearing. Cassie wore a banner on her chest proclaiming Ďlook at me Iím so goodí. She didnít approach challenges with enthusiasm, she approached them to blow them out of the water for all to see and admire. With Sandburgís attention firmly taken by a Nordic goddess, Jim was intrigued to see how her Ďletís be friendsí shenanigans would survive.
Picard pulled down his tunic and everyone took a drink. Cassie, her hips swinging, honed in on Blair.
"Heh heh," Simon leaned over. "This could be fun."
As one the entire cast of the Major Crime department turned to watch the new entertainment.
Cassie suddenly blushed as red as her curls. Her hand flashed out, slapping Blair soundly across the cheek and then she turned on her heel and stalked out of the bar. Lifting his hand to his flaming cheek, Blair asked the world at large, "what did I do?"
The gang of Major Crime rolled on the floor laughing.
The blonde woman leaned over Blair, kissing him soundly - with tongue, bending him backwards, to hoots of applause from the crowd.
She released him with a caress. "Give me a call, sweetie."
Blair watched her walk out with a befuddled smile on his face. The applause took on a mocking measured quality. Irrepressibly, Blair made an elegant bow.
Jim shook his head slowly from side to side. That kid. Blair grinned and then continued onto the bar. He returned with a pitcher of beer and a bottle of Jimís favourite mineral water. Everyone inched up in the booth and Blair wriggled in.
"Does anyone mind explaining? What did I do?" Blair asked, snagging himself a tall glass.
"That, my boy, was jealousy. Plain and simple green eyed monster time." Simon peered down at him over his glasses.
"Cassie?" A toothy grin flickered over his face. "But she said that she just wanted to be friends."
"The more *they* protest the more theyíre saying chase me," Henri said with what was possibly the voice of experience.
"This comes under the heading of Ďwho understands womení doesnít it?"
Henri flung his arm around his shoulders and pulled him in tight. "Perhaps you should change your Ph.D."
"Nah, man." Blair shrugged him off. "I wanna finish someday. I start delving into the female psyche and Iíll never come up for air and finish."
"So you gonna chase Cassie?" Rafe leered.
All eyes turned to the blushing observer. He appeared to weigh the question. "I dunno. Trine kissed *really* well. She gave me her phone number..."
"When?" Henri said around a mouthful of nuts.
"You werenít looking very close, detective," Jim admonished. He leaned over the table reaching to delve into the neck of Blairís red shirt. With the flair of a magician he pulled out a slip of paper. "Voila!"
"Hey, hey," Blair grabbed for and missed the paper. "Thatís mine."
"Iíll keep it in protective custody, buddy."
Striving for maturity, Blair resisted the temptation to climb over the table and wrestle back his phone number as Jim secreted it in his wallet.
"Roll a silver dollar down the street and itíll roll-oo-ll because itís rou-ou-ond." Blair regaled the members of Tarantinoís to a surprisingly melodic tenor version of the old song. Simon and Henri joined in the chorus. As designated driver, Jim sat back and enjoyed the show.
"Thereís a worm at the bottom of my garden and his name is Wiggly Woo." Blair warbled another song.
Rafe laughed so hard he snorted beer out of his nose.
"Thereís a worm at the bottom of my garden and all that he can do, is wiggle all night and wiggle all day, the folks around here all do say: Thereís a worm at the bottom of my garden and his name is Wiggly Woo."
It proved an instant success and everyone joined in.
"Bye bye, Simon." Blair waved enthusiastically at the Captain of Major Crime as he let himself into his two-storey home. Simon saluted and firmly closed the door. "Thatís the last one, Jim. We gonna go home now?"
Jim was fairly sure that he had contravened a couple of traffic laws when the majority of the Major Crime department had piled into the back of his truck. Houstonís significant other and Davidís wife had driven to the bar and picked up their partners. A couple of other members of the department had scrounged lifts off them.
"I like going out, Jim. But why do people have to smoke?" he asked seriously. He sniffed at his jacket. "Donít they realise how yucky it smells."
Jim let him ramble in peace.
Once inside the apartment, Blair headed straight to the sink and proceeded to chug down several glasses of water.
"How drunk are you?" Jim asked as he hung up their coats.
"I wouldnít drive. But Iím just happy. Look." He closed his eyes and brought his finger up to his nose. "Iím gonna have a shower and wash this smoke right out of my hair." Once again he broke into song and danced his way to the bathroom.
Shaking his head, Jim checked the doors and windows and then made his way up to his bed.
Sighing deeply, Jim lifted his head up from his pillow. Why was it that sometimes the kidís sleeptalking woke him? His sentinel abilities aside, he usually could tune out the majority of his partnerís daily noises after living together for over two years. Then out of the blue the kid would sneeze or grunt and he would immediately focus on the sounds.
"No, we didnít catch him. Jim tried." Blairís voice came clearly. Too clearly.
Jim flipped onto his stomach and peered over his pillows into the living area.
A figure, bathed in moonlight, paced back and forth between the couch and the television. His hands flashed out, underscoring tension.
"No, Jim tried. The stench from the storm overflow was overpowering. Oh, come on, there has to be limitations. Heís a human being not a god. Despite his tendency towards megalomania."
Blair changed track and headed over to the balcony windows. He stopped and rested his palms against the glass.
"Evil? No, I didnít sense any evil. I crawled into the pipe and I saw a frightened little child. The boy, Marcus? Jet black curly hair, brown eyes, dark skin, round cherubic face. ... Like what?... Noooo, he didnít have red glowing eyes or speak in tongues. What are you on?"
Jim had had enough. This passed the boundaries of Blairís normal sleeptalking sessions and sleepwalking was a first. He clambered out of bed and padded down the stairs to Blairís side.
"Hey, kid." He gently took his arm. "Back to bed."
Docilely, Blair allowed him to guide him back to his bedroom. The covers were pushed back, half on the floor, half on the bed. Without any direction he stumbled towards his bed and fell into the sheets. Jim hovered a moment listening to his breathing slowing as he slipped into deeper sleep. Blairís face was turned to the wall. Placing his hand against the woodwork, Jim leaned over to better watch the studentís eyes. The lids were closed and the eyes were still; no rapid eye movement heralding dreams with sleeptalking and walking. Reassured that he was deeply asleep, Jim pulled the covers up, tucking him in securely. He then paused; at a quandary. While he was fairly sure that if Sandburg went walkabout again he would hear him, he didnít want to take any chances. Sandburg would probably go ballistic He found his handcuffs and manacled the kidís wrist to the headboard. Quietly, he closed the bedroom door.
Yup, Sandburg would go ballistic.
Sleepily, Blair turned over. Dull pin and needles laced up his arm. He tried to shift, but his arm felt dead. A metallic click confused him enough to open his eyes. He saw a band of metal around his wrist. A handcuff.
"JIM! JIM!" He jerked upright pulling at the handcuff. The metal bruised his wrist as he flailed.
ĎOh, God. NO. Someoneís been in here! IS Jim all right?í His mind spun. He hadnít drank that much, only enough to make him merry; he must have been drugged. Metal, manacles, cold terror, all linked to Lash, a waking nightmare.
The glass door slammed open and the detective appeared, gun in hand.
"Jim, thank god. Someoneís tied me up. Check the loft!" His voice rose stridently.
"No, no, no." Anguish crossed Jimís face.
Mindlessly, Blair yanked at the cuff, cutting his skin. Suddenly Jim straddled him, catching him in a hold that contained his struggles.
"Relax, relax," Jim crooned, as he fumbled with the lock. It opened with a silent snick, releasing Blair. Jim held him tightly, he seemed to have more arms than an octopus. A subtle shift and the hold became an embrace.
"No one has been here," Jim whispered into his ear, soothingly. "Iím sorry. You were sleepwalking last night. I am sorry. I didnít think it through properly; I thought you might sleepwalk and hurt yourself, I forgot about Lash."
A hollow, fear filled void in his stomach flipped, Jim had tied him up. He felt nauseous. He had completely and totally lost control. Jim was rocking him like a child.
"Fuck, you tied me up, man." He hated the tears in his voice. A flame of anger was filling the void.
"... Steven sleepwalked," Jim was explaining. "He fell down the stairs when he was seven. He broke his leg. I didnít hear him. I only just remembered. When I found you last night by the window. I just needed to make sure that you didnít hurt yourself."
The flame died with a little puff of smoke.
Jim started again, a different thread of words, the same story.
"Itís okay," Blair croaked. "I just flashed, you know. Waking up; tied up." His voice fractured.
"Iím sorry, Chief."
"Itís all right." Blair pushed away from Jimís chest. His arm twinged angrily, bruises were already forming a lurid bracelet around his wrist.
"Shit," Jim hissed. "We have to get some ice on that before it swells up."
In an instant he was gone, the curtains on the glass door wafting in the force of his passage. Blair pushed up against the wall, resting his head on the woodwork. His heart was beating like a trip hammer. Jim reappeared holding two bags of frozen peas and a tea towel. He laid one bag on Blairís lap upon a tea towel.
"Rest your wrist on the bag."
Blair did as directed and Jim laid the other bag on top.
"Iím sorry, Blair."
"Stop saying that," Blair snapped. "I know, youíre sorry. "
Jim disappeared again, returning with the loftís first aid kit from under the bathroom sink. Gingerly he sat next to Blair on the bed.
"Can I check your wrist?" he asked quietly.
Carefully, Jim assessed the bruises, manipulating the hand. Cajoling Blair into moving his fingers and then cleaning the cuts that marred the bruising skin.
Blair sat silently as he dressed the wrist.
"I don't think itís broken or sprained. Keep it on the frozen vegetables, itíll keep the swelling down."
Jim raised his eyes and looked at Blair directly.
"Donít apologise again," Blair said. "I was sleepwalking, yeah? Stephen used to?"
Jim nodded. "After he broke his leg, Dad put him back in the nursery. There were bars on the windows of the nursery and the door locked."
"Youíre kidding," Blair said horrified. "Your nursery had bars? Hang on, you had a nursery?"
A faint tinge of a blush touched Jimís cheekbones. "Yeah, well..." he hedged. "Hmm, you want breakfast?"
Muttering under his breath he stood up and escaped into the living area. Cradling his throbbing wrist in the frozen vegetables, Blair chased after him. Jim was directing his energy into making a cordon bleu breakfast, a rare occurrence and best enjoyed; so Blair let him off the hook.
"I was sleepwalking? I don't think Iíve ever done that before."
"You talk in your sleep," Jim said introspectively, "all the time."
Blairís eyes widened, horrified. "I talk in my sleep?"
An evil smile crossed Jimís face. "At length, not loudly, but thatís okay."
"Shit," Blair swore. The ramifications appalled him. God knew what his over-active brain churned out in the dead of night. "What do I say?"
"This aní that. Some topics come up more that others. Sam, Jessica.... Cassie."
"No," Blair denied, then he saw the glint in Jimís eye. "Youíre teasing me, arenít you?"
Jim concentrated on frying the dipped eggy bread, keeping out of his direct line of sight. "I donít really listen," he admitted eventually. "Once I make sure youíre all right, I turn over and go back to sleep. Usually youíre just rehashing your day or talking about sentinel stuff."
"And last night? When I was sleepwalking?"
"You were discussing the kidnapping case. I came down and steered you back to bed when you wandered over to the big windows. "
Blair lost himself in thought, considering the implications of uncensored chatting when he was asleep. The beeping of Jimís cell phone interrupted his contemplation.
"Ellison. Hey, Simon. Damn. Weíll be down in half an hour."
Jim shut the cell phone and placed it very carefully on the counter. No doubt resisting the temptation to shoot the messenger.
"Thereís been another kidnapping."
Distraught mothers were never high on Jimís list of favourite things. He squashed the uncharitable thought. The father was going for stoic, and he was succeeding, except for his hand that alternatively clenched and released his wifeís shoulder.
The F.B.I. were running ramshod over the whole scene. Jim couldnít be charitable as they, sentinel and guide, were more than capable of conducting the investigation. Rule, regulations and minutiae insisted that they take a back seat in the investigation.
The child had disappeared from the play ground during recess. No monetary ransom note had been left. A note had been stapled to the main door of the nursery school. The simple request for the mother had told them that Marcusí kidnapper had not left the state. The hunt was on.
The ransom note had been bagged and taken to the state of the art F.B.I. forensics department in Seattle. Only the teacher who had found the message, profiler and the agent in charge had seen the note, a shroud of secrecy seemed to hang over its contents. Jim was intrigued; what was so unusual and disturbing about the note that necessitated it being spirited away? To say that Cassie was frothing at the mouth was something of an understatement.
Meanwhile, Jim held Charlton ĎCharlieí Hawkeís favourite, well-loved toy dog against his chest. Inhaling and exhaling he took in the scent; preparing himself. Suddenly, he set the toy aside. Making a single, abrupt nod he left the principleís office with Blair at his heels. All the other players were occupied so they slipped out unnoticed. Blair bounced forwards so he could scurry along at the detectiveís side.
"Have you imprinted on his base scent?" he demanded.
"Young children donít have a base scent like adults. Itís more ephemeral; harder to track. Babies arenít territorial."
He collared a young detective and obtained directions to the pre-schoolersí play-ground; the last place Charlie had been spotted.
Jim stopped in the middle of the corridor and flared his nostrils.
"Do you have it?" Blair whispered, his voice weaving his magic.
"Yes," Jim hissed. His head came up resembling a hunting pointer dog. "I sense the motherís overlaying the fatherís scent and beneath it - the childís."
"Follow." Blair hummed under his breath, a cadence of relaxation.
Jim twisted this way and that tracking the path of a four year old boy. Selecting the old movements from the new. The labyrinthine corridors were plastered with mosaics and childrenís paintings. They cut through to the assembly hall and emerged from the school on the play-ground. Gaily coloured climbing frames and swings mocked the gravity of their search. A handful of uniformed officers and a couple of F.B.I. agents searched the grass. Jim bypassed them, tracking a trail half scent-half colour. He had explained the visual manifestations of tracking to his Guide on several occasions. Blair could only imagine the interplay of colour and scent that called to a Sentinel on the hunt. Scent drifted, moved with the play of the wind, but somehow it could cling to the soil, to the earth, to the ground. Blair could describe degradation of aromatic compounds and reduction of intensity of volatile substances over time, but Jim saw the changes, he could pick and choose the scent to follow. What he didnít do, though, was see the flow of scent with his eyes; he saw them in his mindís eye.
A brighter scent drew him around the back of the nursery school. A prefabricated building was tucked in a corner behind the stately old building. They gingerly climbed up a low rickety wooden staircase and picked their way to a door with peeling paintwork. Tacked to the door was a crude note that stated that they were outside the caretakerís office.
"Wouldnít they have looked here?" Blair ventured. He raised his hands. "Yeah, I know *youíre* looking now."
A low growl from the sentinelís throat surprised both men. He had miscalculated, the scent trail did not lead to the office. Lithely, he jumped off the stairs. Jim crouched and looked under the building, his hand resting on the wooden platform. The prefabricated building was raised off the tarmac ground on an intricate maze of scaffolding and wooden planks.
The glow of scent trickled under the building. Another scent twisted around the childís, strangling it. Jim blinked and allowed his pupils to eclipse his irises; dilating them to their maximum extent. Night became day as he picked out details beneath the building. In the centre of the support network was a drain covered by a metal grate.
"Chief, can you make out the drain?"
The observer shuffled down next to him and shielded his eyes, straining to see any details.
"Yeah, you think the kidís down there? Is there something about this psycho and drains? Marcus was in a drain. Does the creep not like the sunlight, or something?"
"You think you can get under there?" Jim asked quietly.
Blairís eyes darted this way and that, nervously. "Aw, nah, why me?" He canted his head to the side estimating the distance between the tarmac and the bottom of the building. "Maybe, if I take my coat off and wriggle. Probably," he hazarded.
He began to shuck off his coat, gently easing the cuff over his bandaged hand.
"No, Chief - not yet."
"Why then?" Blairís brow furrowed.
"The kid was under there with someone with a strong scent; an adult. No oneís seen this guy, but we know now that heís the same size as you or smaller. I would get stuck."
Jim flared his nostrils. "Guessing. The other scentís musky, deep, so itís probably male."
"Are we going to get forensics down here or can I go and have a look down the drain?"
Jim rocked back on his heels.
"I canít hear anything."
The non sequitor perplexed the grad student for a heartbeat then he understood the ramifications. If Charlie was down the drain he wasnít making any noises - none at all.
Hugging Simonís police issue raincoat around his shorter frame, Blair tried, vainly to cut out the cold draft whistling around the courtyard. The obscenely well equipped F.B.I. agents had sent in a video camera on a radio controlled gurney to the drain - their attempt at a Mars Lander. It had been somewhat more successful, it had only stalled once before it had reached and peered down the small hole. The images sent back through the light-fibre cables had shown something. They thought that it might, possibly, be a padded coat. The F.B.I. had now brought in jacks so that they could lift up the building and examine the site properly.
Blair kept telling himself, futilely, that they couldnít have moved faster. Jim had to imprint on the scent first - that took time. As soon as they had the scent they had followed the spoor. It would have taken him a good fifteen minutes to crawl under the scaffolding... time that would not have helped a small boy. Blair prayed that Charlie was not stuffed in the drain.
The kidnapperís penchant for drains and sewers was disconcerting. Yet, now they had a common thread: a knowledge of drainage systems and a short person. The F.B.I. profiler was sequestered in his van, across the courtyard from the buildings, cross-referencing sewage workers, waterworks engineers et cetera with known psychopaths. Simon had Brown and Rafe visiting the local library checking out the records of the old industrial sewage systems and drains.
Cassie was in the thick of things, helping a F.B.I. forensics officer to direct operations. Jim was talking quietly to the nursery caretaker trying to find out where the drain might exit. Unfortunately the man was a sufferer of Downís Syndrome and, despite Jimís careful wording, he was failing to grasp the importance of the detectiveís questions. Blair watched as the detective and caretaker headed into the main building.
Sick of standing around like a useless bookend thinking the worst, Blair wandered over to the video link. As the prefab building was ratcheted upwards daylight reached the hole allowing the watchers to finally see into the drain. Blair held his breath, along with five others. The small jacket was empty, discarded, left.
"It is the kidís," one of the agentís said as he consulted a file.
"We now know that this bastard likes drains," another said.
"Charlieís not there," Blair breathed out softly. "Thatís sort of good, isnít it? Thereís a chance."
"Thereís always a chance, son." A grizzled veteran patted his shoulder. Blair looked up and smiled at the older man.
"Hey, kid, whatís your story?" he asked. His eyes were wise, evidently taking in the ill fitting police jacket.
"Blair Sandburg. Iím an observer with the Cascade P.D.. I work with Detective Ellison." He pointed to his friend who was emerging from the main building, minus the caretaker.
"Have you got a couple of hours?" Blair smiled guilelessly.
"Not going anywhere at the moment, son. By the way, my nameís Oscar Mutawbi."
They shook hands. The F.B.I. agentís hand swamped the anthropologistís. Their eyes met, dark brown weighing lapis lazuli blue. Blair decided that he liked this walking F.B.I. suit. Threads of grey touched Oscarís sideburns and Blair wondered if someday Simon Banks would resemble this relaxed older man. Simon sometimes needed to take a chill pill.
"Are you in charge?" Blair asked.
"You werenít kidding when you said you observed."
"I never kid," Blair deadpanned.
A whoop of excitement interrupted their nascent conversation. The building had been lifted high enough to allow the F.B.I. agents and forensic experts to examine the site. One Sentinel surged forwards with the crowd.
"Ďscuse me." Blair left Oscar standing as he joined his Sentinel
He didnít really need to be close. In fact sometimes he wondered why the detective continued to accept his presence, both as an observer and Ďso-called-guideí. It wasnít if he zoned regularly. The occasional weird happening confused his senses, but in general he had them under control. Feeling a tad superfluous, the observer stopped to the left and a step being the Sentinel
"Chief?" Ellison grabbed his attention with his low voice. "What do you make of that?"
Blair followed the direction of Jimís pointed finger, looking in the narrow drain. The darkness swamped any unenhanced vision.
"Jim, man," Blair hissed. "Turn it down, you canít see anything, okay?"
The Sentinel nodded, reluctantly, seeing the wisdom of his words. Settling to wait, on tenterhooks, for the forensic scientists to step to the side was physically painful.
Finally - Jim sighed deeply, a sigh with Blair echoed - the forensic specialists deemed that the site had been covered. As the F.B.I. scientists conferred with their fellow agents, Jim saw the opportunity to investigate.
As Jim crouched, to better peer into the drain, Blair knelt next to him covering his actions. The detective snapped on his latex gloves and then stretched out on his stomach. He squirmed, rucking up his t-shirt and jacket showing bare skin, but no matter how much he manoeuvred he could not get his shoulders into the narrow pipe.
An impatient tap on his shoulder reverberated through his head.
"Why donít you let me?"
Jim rocked up and onto his heels in a smooth motion. The kidís size was deceptive; five foot eight was kind of short for a man of indeterminate European descent (maybe), but it was all compact, lithesome muscle. But, when push came to shove, appropriately enough, his shoulders were narrower than the Sentinelís shoulders.
"Go on, then."
Blair deftly pickpocketted a surgical glove from Jimís jacket and carefully drew it over his undamaged hand. He then lay down, remaining stationary for a mere second and he then twisted onto his side and glared impatiently.
"Well, are you gonna direct me to what youíre looking at?"
Jim rolled his eyes extravagantly then crouched down next to the observer. Under his directions, Blair wriggled headfirst into the pipe.
"Feel your way down the far side... another brick... carefully... donít cut your fingers; god knows what bugs breed down there..."
Blairís face mirrored his disgusted expression.
"Little bit further, thereís something hairy secreted in a crevice."
"Hairy?" Blair echoed, appalled. He yanked back his hand. Before he could move further, Jim dropped a heavy hand on the small of his back pinning him to the ground.
"Get it," the detectiveís tone brooked no argument.
Whining under his breath, Blair gently pinched the hairs between his thumb and forefinger. Slowly, he teased a thumb sized object out of the hole. He rolled onto his side and sat upright, holding something in his hand. All the sentinel could see was a wrinkled thing with two arms, two legs and a hairy round head.
"Oh, God," the grad student squalled. "Thatís gross."
Blairís eyes widened, horrified, as he held out a tiny figure.
"Thatís nice," Jim drawled.
"Oh, man," he yelped and dropped the doll-like thing. "It wiggled. I swear it wiggled."
Jimís hand darted out, catching the figure in mid-air. Shuffling on his bottom, Blair backed away.
"Calm down, " Jim ordered. Stock-still, he held the figure at armís length.
"Some kid must have lost it," Blairís tone was plainly disbelieving.
"I donít think so, Chief." Jimís lip curled up in distaste, as a distinctively creepy feeling crawled up his spine.
Reluctantly he augmented his sight, magnifying the tiny figure to enormous proportions. The effigy was beyond detailed: each individual black hair was unique; the apple wrinkled face held a slit of a mouth with perfect, even teeth and the stitches on the long skirt and matching jacket were executed with machine precision.
"Oh, God, itís a person," Blair whispered, somehow pre-empting the Sentinel. He leaned closely, his body language warring with himself; escape verses scientific curiosity. "Itís like a shrunken head but the whole body."
"What did you find?" Cassieís imperious voice washed over them.
Blair jumped backwards. The Cascade departmentís forensic chief peered down at the twosome sitting on the tarmac, like a school teacher, tapping her immaculately polished shoe against the ground. The detective and observer froze, trying to hide the effigy would make it all the more suspicious, but hiding the figure was not necessary.
"A kidís doll?" She dismissed it with the flip of her hand, spinning on her heel to return to the F.B.I. agents.
"That was close," Blair hissed.
"What are we going to do with it?"
"Evidence?" Blair hedged.
They both turned to look at the staid, everyday agents using their tried and true techniques to find the kidnapper of a young child.
"Itís a person, Chief. How was this done?"
The anthropologist nibbled nervously on his thumbnail. "With a head, they make a slit up the back and pull the skull out and pack the empty head with a desiccant and stitch it up."
Jim rolled the figure over in his fingers. "No stitches."
Blair shuddered down to his toes.
"We canít let the mundanes see this, Jim. Itís bad. This is really bad. Weíve got to let Philip get a look at it."
They had known as soon as they had picked up the figure that they had moved beyond the boundaries of a normal investigation and had delved into the world of the supernatural. The sentinelís talents rested in the preternatural, out of the normal course of nature. The next step was the supernatural.
Sentinel and Guide stared at each other across the figure. Both remembered the events of the daemon from the otherside that they had fought tooth and nail. Pure, unadulterated luck and the determination of a compassionate, evolved soul had saved them from a monster that coveted their own souls.
They had met and made friends with one Philip Callaghan, a Catholic Priest, as they had attempted to investigate disappearances of the first victims of the daemon. Philip had a reluctant interest in mysticism and, similar to the Sentinel and Guide, despite his best attempts found himself pulled into matters supernatural.
"Okay, weíve got to get out of here. If this is something weird, the F.B.I. wonít be able to handle it."
"Unless they have a real life Mulder and Scully," Blair said irrepressibly.
Jim didnít even bother responding to his observerís levity. He fumbled in his pocket for a plastic bag for the figure.
"No, you canít put it in plastic," Blair said wisely. "You have to wrap it in silk. We have to insulate it."
"What?" Jim paused, about to drop the shrunken-thing into the bag.
"Everything I read says that ... implies that objects of this nature have vibrations. Silk will insulate the effigy from other vibrations so they remain intact so someone who is psychically sensitive will be able to read them." Blair raised his hands and shrugged expressively. "Thatís what they say! It wonít harm it, but it might help Philip figure out who made it."
"Do you have a silk handkerchief on you?" Jim said practically.
Blair spluttered, and unaccountably blushed.
The Sentinelís face cracked into a smile. "Hey, itís silk - must work."
"Get out of here!" Blair rummaged in the pockets of Simonís jacket. He didnít find any handkerchiefs but pulled out a Swiss army knife, a lighter, a sewing kit and a single cough sweet. Snapping a glare at the grinning Sentinel, Blair launched himself to his feet and then ran across to the Captain of Major Crime who was talking to Oscar Mutawbi. Jim watched as he spoke with Simon for a moment, the captainís brow furrowed and then with a plainly irritated expression he handed across the handkerchief tucked in his lapel pocket. A bounce and Blair ran back to the Sentinelís side.
Carefully, Jim wrapped the figure in the handkerchief and then offered it to his Guide.
Blair immediately backed off, hands splayed defensively. "No way, man. Youíre the Watchman. Youíre better equipped to handle this sorta stuff."
Unwillingly, the detective dropped the tiny body in his pocket.
"Ellison," Simon called to them across the courtyard.
Cool, calm and collected, Jim strode to his Captainís side. Simon viewed him with a weighing expression. Blair kept a step behind him, effectively keeping out of the Captainís sight.
"What did you find in the drain?" he questioned, his dark eyes level.
The F.B.I. divisional supervisor in charge of the investigation, beside him, also waited for the answer.
"Found a kiddieís doll," Jim pulled out the figure and allowed the folds of the silk to reveal a flash of hair and jacket. "Figured some kid would have missed it. There must be a Ďlost and foundí box in the school." He reached behind him and hauled the grad student into view. "Dunno why Sandburg here wanted to wrap it in a handkerchief."
"Thatís some little childís beloved toy, you know. You gotta look after it. Didnít you wrap your..." Blairís voice deliberately trailed off, the obfuscation master knowing when to let a fairy tale write itself.
Simon wasnít buying the fabrication but he was willing to go along with whatever new thread his premier detective and said detectiveís eccentric sidekick had found. He had evidently guessed that it had something to do with his detectiveís sentinel abilities.
"Go on then, and Iíll see you back at the precinct," Simon dismissed them, with a subtle order.
Jim tucked the figure back into the folds of silk.
"Yeah, come on Jim." Blair tugged at his sleeve. "Can you drop me off at the University?" He wiggled his fingers at the F.B.I. agent. "Nice meeting you, Oscar."
Jim allowed the student to tow him away.
"Fascinating," Philip Callaghan breathed.
The high tech laboratory hidden within a seemingly innocent rectory was state of the art. The small figure sat in the hypercold interior of a relatively small scanning electron microscope. They could now see greater detail than any sentinel.
"I thought that you had to treat samples with gold plating and stuff?" Blair said hesitatingly. He tapped his note pad with his pen, jotting down notes as thoughts occurred to him.
"No," Philip said easily. "Iíve seen aphid frozen - viewed - and then when they thaw theyíre all right."
Blair shook his head. During combined anthropological and archaeological digs he had collected remains and artefacts for study, the techniques prior to microscopical analysis had been complicated and tedious not a simple freezing.
"Itís in black and white, though. Canít we have colour?" Jim demanded.
Blair spluttered and stuck out his tongue. "Have you any idea how much this costs, Jim? It is not cheap."
"I *thought* we were here for the mystical stuff not science," Jim said snottily.
Father Callaghan coughed lightly, breaking into their banter. "Youíre assuming that the two are mutually exclusive..."
"That means: no relation," Blair said helpfully.
The priest continued, ignoring the interruption. "I wanted to do this."
The image panned over the body, hovering over the fingertips and then zooming in on the index finger. All the whorls and lines were shown in perfect clarity. A single press of a button and a copy of the video image was printed.
The priest took a number of photographs and then, using forceps, removed the effigy from the imaging chamber. He did not touch the body at any time; distaste rolled off him in waves.
"What about the vibes?" Jim said, plainly forcing the words out.
Blair grinned like a loon.
"Itís not really my cup of tea," Philip said, as he laid the body on a desk.
"If I thought that this was a scientific problem I would have given it to Cassie."
"Detective," Philip said precisely. "I can measure certain forms of electromagnetic radiation - which are standard test for psychic activity - I donít understand the science but I can watch a dial. I donít believe you have these devices down at Cascadeís precinct."
He suited actions to words, bringing over to the desk a device that both the detective and observer recognised as a Geiger counter. A slow series of clicks told them that they were in no danger of radiation poisoning. The priest exchanged the meter for another more esoteric device. The box bore of a mismatch of wires and dials that whirled rapidly.
"What does that mean, Philip?" Blair asked eagerly, his pen was poised over his paper.
"It indicated pyschokinetic activity."
"Which is?" Jim asked, trying very hard to be patient.
"Pyschokinetic as in the manipulation of any matter by a method other than explainable physical force whereas telekinetic refers to the manipulation of metallic or metal based matter," Blair lectured snootily.
Jim scowled. "Iíll check the dictionary when I get home, Egon."
Father Callaghan rolled his eyes heavenwards. "Children, children. Behave."
A chastisement, the priest had actually chastised them, no matter how gentle it was so perfectly unusual that Blairís thoughts stuttered in shock.
"Hang on, Hang on." He held his hands out in the classic Ďtime outí gesture. "Bear with me a second, Jim. Philip can you insulate that *thing* and put it somewhere out of view."
"Itís not a *thing*, it was a person," Philip said with a sharp edge to his mouth.
"Okay," Blair said tightly. "Please." His full lips were pursed together. The pen in his fingers twirled like a cheerleaderís baton. Quickly, he grabbed Simonís silk handkerchief and caught the figure up in its folds. The priest made a grab for the figure. Deftly slipping out of the priestís grasp, Blair checked the room, honing in on an empty liquid nitrogen container. With an unconscious flourish he dropped the effigy in the canister and sealed the lid.
Slowly he faced the confused Sentinel and priest. Harsh breathing sounded through the suddenly quiet laboratory.
"I think we should go into the kitchen and have a nice cup of camomile tea and think about the last few minutes."
Blink, blink. Two sets of eyes watched him carefully.
"Iím asking you," he took a deep breath, "as an observer of human nature: to step out of this room and put as much space between us and the thing and review how weíve been acting since we came in this room."
Philip raised a finger, about to interrupt.
"Please," Blair interrupted, his blue eyes widened imploringly.
Executing a controlled parade manoeuvre, Jim left the laboratory without any argument.