Sentinel Two
by VampyrAlex


Rating: NC-17
Pairings: Jim/Blair
Category: First Time, AU
Disclaimer: The author recognizes that the characters used on this story belong to Pet Fly and other various corporations. I'm just borrowing them and having them love the stuffings out of each other. No money was made from this, also no copyright infringement intended.
Notes: A friend challenged me to write a "pun" story, if that makes any sense at all. <g> This is the final result. I used original dialogue from some of the episodes, try to find out which ones. :-) Thanks to my beloved betas, DarkCherry, Helen, Monica and Sherri for the excellent work. Any additional mistakes are mine.
Summary: Blair meets another Sentinel. :-)



Jim looked out the window of his prison cell and sighed wearily. He needed to get out of jail, and the sooner the better. He had been confined to solitary for months now awaiting his trial and he was sick of it. Bryan, who he was accused of killing, had been a well known personality, loved by the nation, and after some death threats the police thought it best to isolate him from the rest of the world.

And then the problems started. Strange things began to happen to him. Maybe it was the shock of seeing Bryan dead, and being accused of his murder, or just being in prison, but the things happening to him simply *couldn't* be happening. There was no way he could smell what kind of detergent they were using in the laundry room two floors down from his cell, there was no way he could clearly see the guards patrolling the towers when they were so far away from the main building, no way he could clearly hear other inmates talking from cells at the end of the long corridor. But he did.

Refusing to give in to the notion he was going crazy, he asked his brother Steven to check if there were any records, books, articles, anything mentioning the same symptoms he had, which basically were heightened senses. And Steven had returned two weeks later, after an extensive search, with a book. A book that kept him sane the last months, that helped him control his senses, a book for which he was grateful. Especially because he knew the writer. "The Sentinel" by Blair Sandburg had been written by the very man who arrested him, the very man Jim could hear right know walking to his cell to take him to court. A man who would help him get out of the awful mess Jim was in, even if he didn't know it yet.



Detective Blair Sandburg's Explorer rolled through the streets of Cascade, while its driver watched the traffic going by mindlessly. He was on his way to prison to pick up a prisoner to take to court. It wasn't supposed to be his gig, but he had been the one to arrest Jim Ellison, and Simon felt since they already 'knew' each other, it would be best if Blair did the transportation personally.

Blair sighed sadly. The last five years, since Alex, his Sentinel, had died, had left him weary of life. When the nurse he'd been tutoring all those years back first told him there was a patient at the hospital complaining about problems with her senses, he'd been too afraid to actually believe his dream was about to come true. A living Sentinel. The real thing.

The next four years had been an adrenaline rush, starting with him meeting Alex at the hospital by pretending to be a doctor, 'Dr. McKay', to actually becoming a police observer with the Cascade PD so he'd be able to study the female Sentinel. After years of being best friends, of going through everything together, from having the wildest adventures like stopping a militia from taking over the station, to having to rescue Simon and his son after they disappeared in the Peruvian jungle while attending an anti-drug conference in Lima, everything had come close to an end when his mother sent his dissertation to a publisher without telling him first.

The only solution had been to become Alex's partner for real, becoming a cop, and Blair had done it all, the academy, the haircut, the getting used to carrying a gun. And for a while life had been the best again, and he found out he did love being a cop, that he felt like he was doing something right to help people, and after all, he was by his Sentinel's side as he was supposed to be.

And then, after five years of an amazing partnership, while she was alone in a supermarket doing some late shopping, Alex had been shot dead by a teenager high on crack. It all happened too fast, she died instantly, for which he was thankful. But now he was alone, and the loneliness was starting to take its toll.

When he arrived at the prison, Rafe was already there waiting for him. "'Morning, Sandburg. Ready to do a little babysitting?"

Blair smiled. "Not really, but what can we do, right? Come on, let's get Ellison and blow this joint," he said ruefully.

A guard took them to the prisoner's cell and as he watched Ellison, Blair had to stifle again the attraction he felt towards the older man. Jim Ellison was a breathtaking man, tall, with a fit, muscled body, and broad shoulders. His clear blue eyes made Blair shudder each time they locked gazes, and the short brown hair and strong face made a devastating combination.

"Detective Sandburg," the prisoner greeted.

"Hello, Jim. Ready to go to trial?"

The other man shrugged. "What's the point? Everyone already thinks I'm guilty."

Rafe smirked as he handcuffed him. "You mean you're not?"

Jim gave him a glacier stare. "Like I've been saying since all this started, I didn't kill Bryan. I'm innocent, damnit!"

"Sure you are! That's what everybody says. Come on, Ellison, admit it. You got jealous because your lover was a famous rock star and had all those women *and* men drooling all over him. Maybe he got too friendly with someone and you lost your temper and shot him. The five bullets in his body sure seemed like an act of anger!" Rafe remarked.

"I didn't kill Bryan," Jim insisted. "Sure, he was famous, and yeah, he made lots of money, and had a legion of fans on his tail, but that wasn't any reason to kill him!"

The two cops led him to Blair's truck, and the younger man started to drive them to court. "Jim, you can't really blame us for not believing you," he said. "I mean, when I walked into the house where you two lived, Bryan was dead by your side, and you were holding the gun that killed him."

"And I was also on the floor with a lump on the head from when the *real* killer hit me! I told all this before to Detective Brown when he questioned me."

"Yes, you did. Unfortunately, it was your fingerprints on the gun, which by the way was registered in your name. We couldn't find any signs that there was a third person at the house besides you and Bryan. As for your lump, there were signs of a struggle. Bryan might have hit you while he was trying to stop you from killing him. He was shot at close range."

Jim sighed wearily. "There's no point to this, is there? No matter what I say, you won't believe me."

Rafe turned to him. "Alright, fine! If not you, who killed Bryan then?"

"I don't know! Look, I arrived early that night and Bryan was acting really strange, kind of nervous. I asked him what was wrong, but he wouldn't tell me. That was when someone hit me on the head. I didn't hear the door open, so that person must've been inside the house already, maybe that's why Bryan was so nervous. Maybe I interrupted something important between them. After I got hit I thought I heard them talking, they seemed to know each other well, but then there was this pain in my head, and I blacked out. Next thing I know the house is full of cops, and you're reading me my rights!"

Blair parked in front of the Court building, and they got out. Rafe shook his head and told Jim, "Yeah, right! Tell it to the jury. Come on."



The morning had been a nightmare, the evidence against him burying him deeper by the hour. From the scene the police came across as they arrived at the house, to witnesses that saw the two of them fighting in a restaurant days before the murder, things were becoming desperate.

The session had been adjourned for lunch, and Jim was waiting in a private room for Sandra, his lawyer. As soon as she arrived, he got up. "You haven't done anything I've asked you to do, Sandra. We're going to lose the damn case!"

"Jim, calm down. During the afternoon session we'll take the time to review your testimony to the detail. We can't prove your accusations, it's best if we leave it alone."

"I can't leave it alone, I'm not guilty! There *was* someone else in the house with us that night! And that someone killed Bryan, not me!"

Sandra looked up at him sadly. "I believe you, Jim, I really do. But the police found no evidence of such a person. I'm sorry. The best thing we can do is try to prove you had no reason to kill Bryan, that you two loved each other and were very happy together."

Jim took a deep shuddering breath and stepped up to her. "I'm sorry. I have no right to snap at you, I know you're doing the best you can." his hands caressed her cheeks and one moved a little higher, managing to grab one of her hairpins without her noticing. "But I don't think it will be enough to save me."



The court session was about to begin. Jim was being escorted back by two uniformed cops when he decided it was time to make his move. He didn't enjoy what he was about to do, but there was no other solution.

"I need to go to the men's room," he stated flatly.

One of the cops muttered something under his breath, but dragged him to the men's room. Jim entered one of the stalls and proceeded to open the cuffs locked on his wrists with the hairpin he stole from his lawyer. Then in a sudden move he opened the stall door, grabbed both cops and knocked them unconscious with a few easy punches.

One of the cops was about his height and build, so he donned his uniform, grabbed his gun, and ran out of the room.

"Escaped prisoner! Two guards are down!" He shouted through the corridors.

In the confusion that set in, it was easy for him to just disappear unseen by anyone. He was just another cop looking for the escaped criminal.



Blair leaned back against the driver's seat of his truck and sighed wearily. When he'd returned to court to pick Ellison up to take him back to prison, Rafe told him the man had escaped. The building had been searched from top to bottom and no sign of the alleged criminal had been found.

"Simon is going to have both our heads for this," he muttered to himself.

He started the truck and was about to drive away, when someone appeared in the back seat and pointed a gun at him.

"Drive," came the command.

"Ellison --"

"Drive!" Jim ordered.

Blair obeyed and slowly the Explorer began to drive away from the Courthouse. Neither noticed Rafe watching them go and sounding the alert. Jim Ellison now had a police officer in his power. In his rush to report the kidnapping, however, Rafe didn't notice Ellison was wearing a police uniform. It had been hours since the escape, it never crossed his mind that Ellison would still be around, let alone with the same outfit that allowed him to escape in the first place.

"Keep your hands on the wheel, and keep driving," Jim demanded, as he took Blair's gun from the holster.

"Jim, do you really want to add the kidnapping of a police officer to your sentence?"

"I'll take the risk. I need your help. I'm telling the truth, I didn't kill Bryan."

"Why me? What makes you think that I can help you?"

"I trust you. You were the only person that took the time to treat me like a human being since all this started," Jim stated. "Someone set me up. You're the only one who can help me."

Blair was about to reply when the sudden sound of sirens stopped him. There were two squad cars behind them.

"Shit! Step on it!"

A high speed chase began throughout Cascade, until they were close to Point Grey Bridge. The Explorer was passing under the bridge when Blair turned the wheel in a sudden move, and the truck hit a pillar at full force, knocking the breath out of the two men.

Unfortunately for Blair, Jim had seen his movement a second before, securing the seat belt on his waist and avoiding serious injury.

"Nice try, Detective," he said with a smile.

The squad cars were all around them now, the cops taking cover behind their own vehicles, but pointing their guns at the truck nevertheless. Unfortunately they made a mistake. Seeing a man in a police uniform, and one in plain clothes, they assumed the criminal was the one in the civilian outfit. When Blair made a move to grab Jim's gun, one of the more eager cops shot him.

Blair moaned and fell back, Jim watching as if in slow motion. He growled deep in his throat and started shooting at the cops, without actually aiming. He didn't want them hurt, just to go for cover and give him time to go behind the wheel. Once that was accomplished, he drove through the barricade, slamming against two squad cars, but managing to escape with his captive.



Simon walked into the bullpen with a grim expression. He watched the frenzy of activity for a while, every detective there giving his best to find any clue to allow them to rescue one of their own.

"Anybody found Sandburg yet?" His loud voice echoed through the bullpen, answered by silence only and a few head shakes. "Anybody found his truck yet?"

More silence.

Simon sighed heavily and ran a hand over his face.

"Anybody got a cigar?"



When Blair woke up he was laying on a big bed in a strange room. There was a bandage on his left arm, where the bullet had caught him, and his right wrist was cuffed to some kind of railing by his head.

"Hey," said a soft voice beside him, and he turned his head to see Jim sitting on the bed next to him. "How are you feeling?"

"Numb. My arm?"

"Flesh wound. It's okay."

"Where are we?"

"In a loft belonging to a friend. I've been getting ideas about buying it, and since there's no one living here at the moment, I decided to bring you here."

"Why not just let me go?"

Jim shook his head. "Not until I'm sure you're going to help me."

"Jim, you can't do this!"

"I already did," Jim remarked, getting up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take a shower. I want to get rid of that awful prison smell."

He left, and Blair was alone with his thoughts. Could Jim possibly be innocent as he claimed to be? All the evidence pointed to him, but evidence could be planted or tampered with. And something about Jim struck deep in him. There was almost a compulsion to help the older man, and that frightened him. It'd been a while since he was willing to give control of his life to someone else.

But maybe he should try to help Jim. If there was a chance he was innocent, Blair couldn't live with the fact he might've caused him to be in jail unjustly. He had to do something about it.

Jim returned twenty minutes later, naked except for a towel wrapped around his waist. Blair swallowed noisily as his eyes fell on the sculptured chest, drops of water sliding through the hard muscles, making the soft skin glisten.

Their eyes locked and Jim neared the bed, looking down on the young man. Ever since he'd seen Blair he'd been attracted to the younger man, to the huge sapphire eyes, the short curly auburn hair, the angelic face, the lithe body... So very perfect.

Jim laid down on the bed, his body covering Blair's slowly, giving him time to protest, to refuse what was about to happen, but the young man remained silent, wide eyes looking up at the older man. Soft, wet lips melted together, and Blair opened his mouth to let Jim probe gently with his tongue, tasting him, both moaning with pleasure.

Jim could hear Blair's heart beat faster and smell the young man's arousal. He breathed deeply and was overwhelmed by the young man's wonderful scent, a scent that was unique to Blair and seemed to be all around him. All Jim wanted to do was get lost in that scent, in the sense of security he associated it with. He could just feel himself letting go...

When Jim stopped kissing him and became dead weight on top of him, Blair knew there was something wrong. He caressed the older man's cheek with his free hand, ignoring the pain in his arm, and was startled to see the blank look on Jim's face.

"Jim? Jim, come on, what's wrong?"

He watched the other man closely and his heart began to beat faster. Jim looked almost as if he zoned-out. Alex always got that same vacant stare when it happened to her. Could Jim possibly be a Sentinel too? And if he was, what sense had caused the zone-out? Time to do a little test.

Blair began to speak soothingly, his hand caressing the nearly naked body covering his. There was no reaction at first, but then he heard Jim take a deep breath and blink, and then suddenly he was 'there' again.

"W-what happened?" Jim queried, a confused expression on his face.

"I think you zoned on me," Blair replied with a gentle smile. "Jim, we have to talk."

Jim nodded. "I know what you're going to ask, and the answer is yes. I think I'm a Sentinel."


"Well, this is all pretty new to me, you know? One day, I'm your average John Doe, the next I go to jail and begin to hear and see things no one else can, smells get too intense, food too spicy... Scared the shit out of me. But then I read your book."

"My book?"

"Yeah. This stuff began happening after a few weeks in solitary. I thought the isolation or the shock of Bryan's death were getting to me or something. But then I noticed that the things I heard, or saw, or smelled, were real. It wasn't just my imagination playing tricks on me, it *was* real. So I asked my brother to search for anything related with heightened senses, and he found your book. I read it and used all the examples there to help me control my senses, the dials, the piggybacking two at a time to stop from zoning... It felt so fantastic to be able to do that! And I owe it all to you," Jim said, looking at the young man with a gentle smile.

Blair shook his head. "God, another Sentinel! Who would've thought?"

"Blair, please help me," Jim whispered. "I really *am* innocent."

The young man took a shuddering breath and nodded. "God help me, but I believe you. I need to know everything about Bryan, his friends, what you remember from that night."

Jim sat on the bed with his back against the railing, side by side with Blair. "Well, Bryan was a rock star, as you know. Extremely famous and well paid. He was always traveling around the country and even abroad occasionally. Unless he was on tour or recording, which took longer, he usually took two, three days, to make a photo shoot, a commercial, or a show, and then would return home. We never discussed his career very much, he didn't like to bring the job home, as he said it. He also didn't have that many friends, just a couple of his musicians, and maybe Tom Faraci, his manager."

"How long were you and Bryan together?"

"Two years. I met him at a concert. But lately things weren't all that great, we were always fighting. I was tired of it, you know? I was planning of breaking up when he was killed."

"Okay. When we were taking you to court you said you thought you heard Bryan and his killer talking before you passed out."

"Yeah, so?"

"I think there's a way we could find out who it was and what exactly they were talking about."


"Well, you were unaware of your heightened senses before going to jail, but they were there already. I believe that you can reprocess your old memories and separate out everything else and just concentrate on the one sense that you want activated."

"Such as my hearing?" Jim understood.

"Exactly! So if you can concentrate and focus back to that night with Bryan, what sounded muffled at the time may come back clear as a bell. You've got to remember that that information is there. You heard them talking. It's just scrambled up with the other experiences that you were having that night."

"Well, it's worth a shot."

Jim leaned back against the railing and closed his eyes.

"All right, start to breathe slowly. Concentrate. Nothing else exists except for that night with Bryan."

Jim's mind began to go back in time to that night. He remembered trying to convince his lover to tell him what was wrong, he remembered the blow to his head, falling down. And then the voices, and this time clear, as if he was hearing them in the present.

"Why the hell did you hit him?" Bryan's voice sounded frightened.

"I don't want him to know I was here," said another voice. "I thought you told me it was still another hour or so before he got back?"

"It was. He's early," Bryan replied, calmer now.

"Good thing we heard him opening the door. This Ellison guy can ruin everything, Bryan. You have to get rid of him."

"I won't get rid of him, Tom! I love him. And that reminds me what we were discussing before he interrupted us. I'm sick of doing this, no more hits. I want to have a real life, be *just* a rock star, and make a life for myself with Jim."

"You know they won't allow for this. You don't just stop working for them, you belong to them for life."

"Not me, I'm out. I'm sick of killing, sick of all the death. I won't do it again."

And that was all Jim heard. The pain in his skull took over at that moment, and he blacked out. He came back to the present, Blair watching him with wide, worried ocean blue eyes.

"Well? Did it work?"

"Oh, yeah! It was Tom Faraci, Bryan's manager. He was already there when I got home. From what I understood of what they were saying, Bryan was a hitman and Tom was in on it. But they were working for someone else, a group of some kind maybe. He said 'they' wouldn't allow Bryan to quit."

"Shit! Look, Jim, you have got to let me go. I need to check Bryan's frequent trips to possible hit killings and then go after Faraci. Obviously, I can't just go to him and say I know he killed Bryan because you heard them talking. I need evidence to put him away. And for that I need to be on the move, can't be locked up in here."

Jim looked deeply into the blue orbs watching him. "Okay. I'll let you go. But first... we have some unfinished business," he said, coming closer to the young man.

"We do?" Blair nearly squeaked.

"We do," Jim echoed huskily, his hand caressing the young man's cheek lovingly, then moving to brush a few curls from Blair's forehead.

Threading his fingers through the curly mass of silky hair, Jim held the young man in place and melded his lips onto Blair's with the gentlest of pressures. His tongue licked Blair's full lower lip, parting the delicious mouth under his. Jim's tongue pushed forward into Blair's mouth slowly, both their tongues meeting and battling sensuously, both losing themselves in the heat they were creating.

Realizing Jim was naked, except for the towel around his waist, but that he, Blair, was completely dressed, the young man started to unbutton his shirt, which was proving difficult with just one hand. He was still cuffed to the railing.

When they finally pulled apart, lungs drawing in ragged breaths, Blair begged, "Free me..."

The older man grinned, licking his lips slowly. "Oh, no! I want you at my mercy. I'll do whatever I want to you. And all you have to do is lay down and enjoy it."

Jim took over the task of undressing the young man, his fingers wrestling with the small buttons on the shirt, while his moist, firm lips closed over Blair's again passionately, demanding from the young man that he give himself completely to the kiss.

Once the shirt was open, Jim spread the two sides apart, letting his agile fingers explore the bare chest, brushing across ribs, traveling over the taut stomach, enjoying touching the silky skin and the soft curly hairs. He heard Blair gasp and suck in a breath when he rubbed across the young man's nipples until they were hard nubs. He took one in his mouth, teeth grazing over it gently as his tongue swirled around it, only releasing it to take the other one into his mouth as well.

Jim's mouth trailed a line of feather light kisses across a cheek, down the length of the arched neck where it joined the shoulder and back again, nipping with teeth and soothing with his warm, moist, tongue. Blair pulled him closer desperately with his free hand, leaning into him as Jim's hands roamed all over his heated, sweaty body, their bare chests sliding together, their groins pressed against each other.

The Sentinel finished undressing the young man, taking off his shoes and socks, and his jeans and underwear, looking at the vulnerable beautiful body on the bed.

"Perfect," he whispered.

Jim got rid of his towel, laying down on top of Blair again, between his legs, his hands caressing the young man's back, going down to squeeze his buttocks gently. He moved down, his lips nibbling Blair's thighs while his hands cupped the hard length. He watched Blair's eyes close, his head tilting back, and moaning sensuously as his fingers stroked the young man's cock. He breathed into it, drawing another heart felt moan from Blair, and then tongued the erection, tasting the precum already licking from the tip. In a swift move he took all of the shaft in his mouth, his teeth grazing lightly and chuckling as he heard Blair's little pleasured mewl.

And then suddenly, he released the engorged cock. Jim covered the body laying pliant on the bed with his own, their eyes locking, Jim's asking a question.

Blair nodded his assent. "Do it," he whispered.

Jim nodded as well and took out a tube of KY from the nightstand. He poured some onto his fingers and began to move one of them against the tight ring of muscle, rubbing gently until he slid it inside the opening to the young man's body. He took his time, stretching Blair, arousing him, making him shout in ecstasy as he found the young man's pleasure point, stroking it repeatedly.

Finally Jim coated his own member thoroughly, and looked down at the young man, their hot gazes communicating what they were both feeling. His powerful arms surrounded Blair, his hips shifting as his cock pressed into his lover, working his way into the heated channel, enjoying the pleasured moan that escaped Blair's lips.

He began moving, slowly at first, Blair's hips rocking in time with his, meeting him thrust for thrust. Jim's hands curled around his lover's hips, holding him tightly, as he pushed deeply into the sensuous heat. Jim felt his control slipping, moving faster and faster inside the young man, both moaning and groaning with each thrust, Blair gripping the railing over his head with both hands, as if for dear life.

Jim's hands joined his on the railing as he continued to drive into the young man, his hot tongue tracing an ear, nibbling on the earlobe, then sucking it gently. "Come for me, baby," he whispered, softly.

The warm voice in his ear proved to be too much and Blair surrendered to it. His back arched from the bed, his orgasm tearing through his body, his shout echoing through the room as his seed bathed both their stomachs. His completion triggered Jim's and he came deeply inside his lover, Blair's name on his lips as he rode out his orgasm.

Jim collapsed on top of the younger man, taking care not to crush him with his weight. They stayed in each other's arms for a long time, just enjoying the glorious after-sex sensation. Just before his sated, exhausted body surrendered to sleep, Blair heard Jim whispering, "God... I think I love you."

He wanted to say he was feeling the same, that he would fight with everything he had in him to prove the other man's innocence, that they would be together soon somehow, but sleep took over, and he didn't say a word. He hoped his smile would be enough for the other man to understand that all his feelings were returned.



When Blair woke up the next morning Jim was gone and the keys to the cuffs were next to him on the bed. There was a small note on the nightstand, simply saying, "I'll be in touch. Your truck's in the parking garage on 8th street. J."

The young man freed himself from the cuffs and called a cab to take him to his truck. After seeing the dents on his Explorer weren't too bad, he drove himself to the hospital to have his arm checked. After having a doctor confirm it was nothing serious, and having the bandage changed, he went to the warehouse he called home. After taking a long, healing shower, and finishing getting dressed, Blair made his way to the station.

Simon nearly swallowed his cigar as he saw him. "Sandburg! Where the hell have you been? Where's Ellison? And how did you escape?"

"He let me go," Blair answered simply.

"What do you mean, he let you go? He kidnapped you so he could let you go?!"

"No, he kidnapped me to convince me he was innocent. And I believe him."

The Captain remained silent for a long time, then started softly, "You know, there are studies about how hostages start to identify with their kidnappers, but this is ridiculous! You're out of your mind, Sandburg!"

"What if I can prove Ellison's not guilty?"

Simon raised an eyebrow. His detective seemed too sure of himself. He was on the force too long not to know when someone had some kind of ace up his sleeve. "How?"

"Let me go talk with Rafe and H first, I need to check a few things. If I'm right I'll let you know what's going on, if not, you can have my badge.

"You're that sure he's innocent?"


"Okay, go on then," Simon relented. "But you better know what you're doing!"

Blair left his superior's office and went to find Rafe and H. Rafe was charged with following Tom Faraci. After he left, Blair and H spent the next hour tracking down Bryan's trip destinations and whether anyone had been killed around that time. And they hit the jackpot. For every trip Bryan made there was a hit as well, usually a drug dealer, a convict or criminal of some kind, all with police records.

"So, Tom Faraci and Bryan Thorton were working for someone that was icing criminals," Simon commented, after he was let in on what was going on. "So, why did Faraci kill the rock star?"

"According to Ellison, Bryan wanted out. My guess is that the 'they' they were working for might have noticed he was getting restless and ordered Faraci to talk some sense into him or..."

"Or kill him. Okay, bring Faraci in. Maybe if he sees we know about the hits and that he killed Bryan he might tell us who they were working for."




Blair walked into the interrogation room and took a sharp look at Tom Faraci. Rafe hadn't had any problems bringing him to the station, but obviously the man was scared to death. He was sweating profusely and squirming uncomfortably in his seat, and the young man hadn't even began the interrogation yet.

"Mr. Faraci, I'm Detective Sandburg."

"W-why am I here?" The man stammered in a quivering voice.

"You're here because of Bryan Thorton's death."

"I already gave my testimony to Detective Brown."

"I know. But we have a new lead on the case. You see, you were seen that night leaving the crime scene, *after* the shots were heard," Blair lied. "What do you have to say about that?"

"You're out of your minds! Why would I kill him? Bryan was a gold mine, he made me millions."

"Maybe. But we both know that the rock star gig was just a cover for Bryan's real profession, right?"

Blair watched the man go pale and smirked. "Yes, Mr. Faraci, we know about the hits. Maybe... you would like to change your testimony now?"

"I have nothing to say," the man stated stubbornly.

"Mr. Faraci, don't play games with me. We checked Bryan's trips carefully. Each time he went anywhere someone would end up dead. You were his manager, were always with him, you were also his accomplice. You know we have you by the balls," Blair said with a smile. "We can cut you a very nice deal...if you tell us who you are working for."

"I-I can't... They'll kill me..."

Blair planted both hands on the table and looked down on the man with an icy expression. "I was going to do this the nice way, but you leave me no choice. You better talk to us, or one out of two things will happen. First one is we let you go and then spread the word you killed Bryan. I'm sure his die-hard fans would love to hear that. Second one is we let you go and have someone following you twenty-four hours a day, and not so discreetly. I'm sure it will never cross the mind of whoever you're working for that we're protecting you because you talked."

"You can't do that! Either way I'm dead!"

"That's right," Blair confirmed sweetly. "But if you talk, we'll put you in solitary confinement for your protection. The same one James Ellison has been in for a crime he didn't commit! Turnabout is fair play, Mr. Faraci."

The young man forced himself to calm down and took a deep breath. "I'll leave you alone to think it over. I really hope you make the right decision. For your own sake."

He left the room and leaned against the door with his eyes closed. If Faraci didn't confess they had nothing to go on. There was no witness, Jim's word that he heard the two men talking wouldn't be enough to make a case, and even if they could prove Bryan was a hitman that didn't mean Faraci had necessarily been in on it.

And time was running out. Simon had refused to cancel the APB on Ellison until he was sure the man was innocent. Jim was out there alone, being hunted by Blair's fellow officers. One wrong move, a more excited finger on a trigger, and everything could be over. And Blair wasn't sure he could survive losing someone he cared about again, this time it would destroy him as well.



And then everything fell into place. Faraci called Blair back, and the detective went into the interrogation room with his heart in his throat, although his expression remained blank.

"Well, Mr. Faraci? Ready to talk?"

"Can you really protect me? We're not talking about your average criminal organization here, these people mean business and they are vicious."

"We'll do what it takes to keep you safe. You'll be taken to a secret location until this is over, only my Captain and I will know where you are, and the detectives guarding you are the best we have. Now, did you kill Bryan Thorton?"

"Yes. The leader of the organization we were working for was getting suspicious about him. He was too restless and refused to do a few jobs. I was told to talk some sense into him or kill him. I tried to talk but he wouldn't listen. Bryan was head over feet with that Ellison guy, said he wanted to make a life with him," Faraci said, with a disgusted face. "So I killed him. He knew what was about to happened and tried to stop me, but he was no match for me and after a little struggle I shot him."

"Why five shots?"

"Well, I figured I might as well blame his lover for the crime, make it look like a crime of passion or something. Five shots made it look like he had been killed in a fit of rage."

"Okay. Who are you working for?"

"They call themselves 'God's Shepherds'. It's a nationwide organization made of powerful businessmen, influential society members, lawyers, doctors, you name it. The President lives here in Cascade, then there's what could be called a Vice-President in each State who is responsible for the organization in that State. Each State is independent, but answers to the President."

"And what do they do?"

"They rule the country," Faraci replied with a smirk. "They're involved in their own State's politics, in their local economy, donate funds to causes they feel are worth their while... And more important, get rid of society's outcasts, the parasites we don't want but usually have to put up with. Bryan was one of the hitmen. After a target was chosen, usually a criminal that slipped through the system, it had to be approved by the State's organization and finally by the President. The hitman would then go after the target and kill him."


Simon, who had been watching through the one-way window, walked in at that time. "We need names, Faraci."

The man nodded. "I can only give you the names of the President and the Vice-Presidents. From the actual members I don't know."

"That will be enough to get us starting," Simon stated.

He handed the man a pen and paper, and he and Blair watched him write down the names. After he was finished, the two cops left the room.

"What are you planning to do with those names?" Blair asked.

"Give them to the cops of each State, let them deal with their own trash," Simon looked at the President's name for the first time and swore under his breath.

"What?" Blair queried, startled. It wasn't everyday his Captain lost his cool.

"Read the President's name and you'll know for yourself."

Simon gave the paper to Blair.

"Jack Bartley! That son of a bitch!" The young man exclaimed.

Blair remembered the man well. About six years before, Bartley had been a longshoreman union boss with a price on his head and Klaus 'The Iceman' Zeller on his back. Blair's dissertation was out at the time, and he and Alex were barely on speaking terms, and getting hit from all sides. But somehow they managed to save Bartley's sorry ass. After Simon and Megan were nearly killed, Zeller practically destroyed the station, and finally fell from the roof after trying to go over it with a rope.

"He's come a long way since then," Simon remarked. "He's on his way to becoming a Senator."

"I can't believe Alex actually saved his life, man! Should have let Zeller kill him."

"I'm not too fond of him myself. It will be a pleasure to see him behind bars. Come on, let's get the man and put him where he belongs."



It was easy enough to enter Jack Bartley's house. He wasn't in, so the cops began to search for anything to connect him with the case. Faraci's testimony would probably be enough, but a little more evidence wouldn't hurt in the least.

Blair checked the man's home office, going through all the drawers, and finally turning his attention to the computer on the secretary. All files had passwords, but he found a disk with the initials 'GS' and hoping it would be 'God's Shepherds', he pocketed it to check it later.

He was about to call the computer expert to take a look at the files when he heard loud voices outside. Blair opened the door and saw two cops trying to secure Jim and keep him away from the office.

"It's okay," Blair said, and the cops released the other man. "What's wrong, Jim?"

Jim grabbed the young man's arm and dragged him urgently away from the others. "There's a bomb here, I can hear it ticking," the Sentinel hissed.

"Shit!" Blair grabbed his radio. "Everybody out of the house! Now! There's a bomb! Move it!"

All the other cops ran from the house with Jim and Blair following swiftly. They were barely out the main door when the bomb exploded, and they were thrown to the floor, Jim's body covering Blair's protectively.

When all the dust and debris had settled down the two men got up, watching what was left of the house burn to the ground.

"Are you okay?" Jim asked.

"Fine. You?"

"Yeah," Jim nodded.

"Not that I'm complaining, but what are you doing here?"

"Following you. Good thing, too."

"I'll say!" Blair huffed, then frowned. "The son of a bitch somehow knew we were coming!"

"Seems like it. The bomb was activated a few minutes after you walked in."

Simon joined them. "Are you okay?"

"Fine, Captain."

"You have a lot of nerve to show your face in a place full of cops, Ellison. Good thing I cancelled the APB on you before."

"You did?"

"As soon as Faraci confessed. And I'm willing to look the other way to the fact that you kidnapped one of my men at gunpoint. You're a free man, enjoy it."

He walked away, and the two men grinned widely to each other.

"You did it. The nightmare is finally over. Thanks, Blair."

"You're welcome. I have to go to the station to check the disk I found in Bartley's office. Wanna come with me?"


Blair drove them back to the station and set out to find out what was on that disk. It was also protected with a password, but the computer expert cracked it in a little over an half an hour, and they were presented with the entire list of all the 'God's Shepherds' members.

"Oh, man! I can't believe we got this lucky!" Blair said happily. "Now all we have to do is hunt them down!"

"Yeah, well, don't get so excited!" Rafe grumbled as he entered the bullpen with H behind him.

"Why? What's wrong?"

"H and I went to check Bartley's work office, but obviously the bastard wasn't there. Now imagine our surprise when we saw Paul Jenkins leaving the building!"

"Paul Jenkins? As in *Detective* Paul Jenkins?"

"Yes. Apparently he was the one that told Bartley we were after him. Jenkins was looking for Bartley because he hadn't been paid for his 'services' yet," H spat angrily. "We don't know all the details, but as soon as Jenkins realized we had Faraci in custody, he called Bartley. The bastard told Jenkins to meet him at his office so he could reward him, but instead disappeared. He had more than enough time to plant the bomb at his house, watch us storm in, and when his plan to blow us all to Kingdom Come failed, to evaporate into thin air. And of course, with the kind of money Bartley has, he's probably miles away by now!"


"What I don't understand is why he planted the bomb at his house in the first place," Rafe muttered. "I mean, he knew we were after him. If I was in his shoes, I'd be more than anxious to leave Cascade. Why waste precious time? Just to kill us? It doesn't make sense!"

"Well, he's a sneaky bastard, maybe he just wanted to get even. Plus, it's possible that his computer had valuable information on his organization. To erase it completely so that we couldn't trace it would take even more time, which he didn't have. To blow the evidence, and us, would be much easier and satisfying."

Simon stood in the middle of the bullpen and looked around. "What are you waiting for, people? We may have lost the shark, but we still have the bigger fish to catch. Go to it!"

"On our way."

Blair rose from his desk and after printing a list of all the 'God Shepherds' members in Cascade and making copies to give around, grabbed his gun and coat and got ready to leave.

"Can I go with you?" Jim asked.

Sad sapphire eyes gazed up at him. "I'm sorry, Jim. It might get dangerous, you better stay here and wait for us to get back. I'll let you in on everything."


Not caring if anyone was watching them or not, Blair brushed his lips lightly against Jim's and smiled. "I love you."

Jim smiled brightly back. "I love you too."

He watched the young man walk away and made his decision. No way was he going to leave him alone to face all those men. He'd continue to follow him and protect him from harm if need be. Nodding to himself he left the bullpen, not noticing the knowing smile that crossed Simon Banks' lips as he saw him go.



Five days later

Blair walked into the warehouse he called home and sighed happily. Life was looking pretty good right now. Most of the 'God's Shepherds'' members were in jail, including the Vice-Presidents from most States, and those not caught yet were being hunted down by the police.

On a more personal basis, things between him and Jim were going great. The older man had finally bought the 852 Prospect loft and moved in, and the two of them had spent the last nights together strengthening a relationship that was beginning to mean the world to the both of them. In fact, Jim was on his way to pick him up for dinner.

The young man turned on the TV, leaving it on some old black and white gangster movie and taking his coat, holster and badge off, got ready to take a nice, hot shower.

It wasn't exactly a noise but a feeling that let him know he wasn't alone. He turned and found Jack Bartley pointing a gun at him.

"Good evening, Detective."

"What are you doing here, Bartley? How did you get in?"

The man laughed. "I picked the lock. You really should have better security, especially being a cop! And I'm here to kill you."

"Why? Won't do you any good. There's an APB out on you and half the police force is looking for you."

Bartley shrugged. "It will appease my sense of revenge. This is all your fault. The cops were all convinced Ellison was guilty until you began to make waves and dig into our business. If it wasn't for you, everything would be the way it should." He shook his head. "You know, I don't understand. We're very much alike you and I, basically do the same thing, keep the criminals off the streets. Why couldn't you leave it alone?"

"We are nothing alike, Bartley! I arrest people, you have them killed. You are no better than the criminals you order dead."

"It's a shame you feel that way. Now, let's get this over with. Turn the volume up on the TV, please."

Blair didn't move. He knew the idea was for the noise from the movie to muffle the shots, and he wasn't planning on making Bartley's life any easier.

"Detective, I can make your death very fast or agonizingly slow. Which is it going to be?"

Figuring he had no choice, Blair obeyed, at the same time moving away from the armed man.

Unknown to the two men, a similar tragedy was taking place in the next warehouse. A group of men were working in a drug lab when a black car pulled up outside. Two men drew out guns and started shooting, killing everyone and completely destroying the lab. One of the men poured gasoline all over the warehouse, while the other grabbed the drugs. The first man lit the gasoline barrels, then they both took off in their car leaving a flaming inferno behind.

Neither Blair nor Bartley heard anything, the loud gunshots coming from the gangster movie making sure of that. Bartley turned his gun on the detective when all of a sudden a deafening explosion tore out the wall behind him, knocking him unconscious and throwing Blair to the floor with the impact.

The young man got up, swaying slightly, and checked the man's pulse, and noticing he was alive, carried him all the way out of the destroyed warehouse. He was out the door and on the street when he heard a car pull in, and Jim raced to him.

"Are you alright? I heard the explosion!"

"Fine." Blair threw his cell phone to the older man. "Here. Call for backup. Just dial one and ask for Captain Banks. And have them send an ambulance, this bastard is out cold."

He turned and his jaw fell open as he saw Jim's car for the first time. "A Corvair? You actually have a Corvair?"

"Well, yeah. So?" Jim queried, looking defensive.

Blair raised his hands in the air in a soothing gesture. "Hey, man! It's okay by me. I just figured you for a monster truck kind of guy!" He chuckled and Jim joined him. "But a Corvair is nice. A classic, huh? Who'd have thought?"



An hour later the warehouse area was buzzing with cops, firemen, paramedics and reporters.

"Well?" Simon asked Joel.

"It looks like when the gasoline went up, the chemical precursor exploded too. That's what tore out the wall," the bomb expert replied. "Hell of a mess."

Everyone turned to watch Blair loading up the Explorer with his stuff.

"So, *Detective* Sandburg, you mean to tell me in all the time you lived here you never once suspected you lived next door to an ice lab?" Simon asked, trying to keep the amusement out of his voice.

"Oh, man, I swear, that place was deserted! I mean last week I did start to hear some strange noises in the middle of the night, but I could have sworn it was just like the plumbing... like, you know, the rodents or something...I didn't know," he finally admitted, shrugging.

"Just keep your eyes open next time," the Captain grumbled and walked away with the other cops, leaving Blair and Jim alone.

"Is this all your stuff?" Jim queried.

"Yeah, it's most of it. I'll have to try to come back tomorrow and put the rest into storage. This is just the worst. Where am I going to stay?"

"I don't know. A hotel, hostel, something," Jim replied, trying to keep from smirking.

"I can't do that, not enough money," Blair looked thoughtful for a moment, then turned his big blue eyes on his lover. "Unless --"

"No, no, no... *No*! Just forget it," Jim was having a hard time keeping from laughing.

"Come on, Jim! Jim, please, please... My back is up against the wall here, man! I got nowhere else to go! One week, and I promise, I promise, I'll be out of your hair. Come on! One week, man!"

Jim made a show of thinking that over. "All right, look. How about instead of a week... you stay forever?"

"Come on, Jim, I --" Blair started, then his lover's words registered. "What?"

Jim started to laugh at his stunned face, and the young man knew he'd been had.

"You bastard," he said, with no real heat behind the words. "I hate you."

Jim's arms wrapped around his waist and pulled him closer. "I love you too," he whispered in Blair's ear, making him shiver. "What about it? Forever?"

Blair looked into the clear blue eyes of his lover and saw his future. He smiled and nodded. "Forever."



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