SVS-011: Where The Jungle Ends
by VampyrAlex (Written as Jade)


Disclaimer: This story is an episode of The Sentinel Slash Virtual Season (SVS), produced by FiveSenses, Inc. SVS is based on characters and concepts developed by, and belonging to, Pet Fly Productions. This story is intended for private, personal enjoyment only. No money is being made, or will be allowed to be made, by the author of this story or by FiveSenses, Inc. from the writing and distribution of this story. Any original characters introduced in an SVS episode belongs to the episode author and to FiveSenses, Inc. and should not be used without their permission.

Author's notes: Warmest thanks from FiveSenses, Inc. to DarkCherry and Draconea for their much appreciated contributions in beta reading this story. A huge thank you to PJ for all the medical info; this story is so much better because of you. Also, thanks to Bine, Elaine and Lena for putting up with my mood swings as I was writing this.

This is part of the Jungle Warfare trilogy. To fully understand this story you will need to read:

SVS#09 - Welcome To The Jungle by Barbara Nice-Miller

SVS#010 - Into The Jungle by Alyjude

He knew there was something wrong the moment he found himself slipping over the edge, falling into a complete zone-out. And he knew because there was no soothing voice to bring him back, no hand resting gently on his shoulder, no steady heartbeat to help him focus.

Dialing down his hearing took some effort, but he managed to pull himself back in time, before the cacophony of sounds coming from the ER overruled all his other senses. He didn't bother to look around; he knew his partner wouldn't be there. And yet... He was unable to stop himself from reaching out with his senses, from trying to find some trace of his Guide. Nothing. Blair wasn't even in the hospital anymore.

Jim forced his feet to move, to carry him towards a truth he couldn't escape. It was like being on death row. You don't really want to take those final steps, but there is no other way out. He walked through the white corridors, the hospital's staff and patients going by unseen, feeling the numbness growing. He'd expected anger, hatred; not this frightening coldness.

Stepping outside, he glanced around, hoping to find something, anything, that could lead him to his Guide, but knowing there would be nothing.

"James Ellison?" a strange voice called out from nearby.


A shabby looking teenager approached him hesitantly and handed him a small sheet of paper.

"A woman asked me to give you this."

Knowing who it was from, Jim nodded his thanks as he accepted the piece of paper. Only two words were scribbled on it, but they made him want to rip something apart.

"I WON."


"Now what?" Blair asked when he realized Alex wasn't going to be the first to speak.

"You stay with me," she replied, all her attention focused on driving through Cascade's busy streets. The Dramamine might help soothe her senses, but it made concentration difficult.

"You can't believe it will be that simple?"

Alex shrugged helplessly. "I need you," she whispered.

The softly spoken words made Blair turn in his seat, allowing him his first real look at Barnes. Her hair was longer, cascading down her back, and she'd lost precious weight. But what drew his attention was her face. A deep frown marred the once beautiful features and her lips were compressed into a thin line. Her skin looked clammy and unhealthily pale. She was in pain.

"You can force me to go with you, Alex. But you can't force me to help you. That's not how it works."

"It will have to be this time, Blair. I was wrong that day. I shouldn't have tried to kill you. I let my emotions confuse me. But not anymore; now I understand. You know I noticed you almost immediately that first night at the precinct? I knew there was something different about you, didn't even think twice about going to see you at Rainier. You're the key, Blair. A Sentinel needs a Guide and you're a Guide. You will help me."

"Or?" Blair couldn't keep the challenge from his voice.

"Let's just say that the next time I go after your friends... I won't miss."

There was nothing he could say to that, so he leaned back and remained silent as he gazed out the window of the moving van. Something she'd said came to his mind.

"You're not really a Sentinel," he stated in a surprisingly detached tone.

"What?" she started, her eyes leaving the road for the first time.

"Jim's a Sentinel. You're just someone with enhanced senses. You'll never be a Sentinel, you'll never be like him. Sentinels are meant to protect; you shatter everything you touch."

She gripped the wheel so hard her knuckles turned white.

"That may be," she replied, her voice quivering with suppressed anger. "But all that really matters is that I do have those enhanced senses. And I want them under control! And Blair, you will teach me how to get them under control just like you did with Ellison. Or I won't rest until everything and everyone you hold dear is gone from the face of the earth!"

Blair didn't bother telling her he didn't think it was possible for him to help her. That now that he had bonded with Jim in every possible way, he wouldn't be able to guide any other Sentinels. Even if he wanted to. Which he didn't. And he wondered how long it would be before she realized that and decided to kill him again... For good.


Simon Banks stood beside his son's hospital bed, trying his best to ignore the IV and all the machines hooked up to the most important person in his life.

He rubbed his face wearily. Almost twenty-four hours had gone by since Daryl nearly died. Twenty-four hours of hell. Because no matter how many times the doctors reassured him that the contusions and other injuries his son had sustained weren't serious, the fact was that Daryl had been unconscious since arriving at the hospital. And no matter how stable his vitals were, Simon just wouldn't be able to rest until Daryl opened his eyes and looked at him.

He brushed his son's bruised cheek gently. It wasn't the first time Daryl had gotten caught up in something bad because of Simon's job. But this time... This time it was too close for comfort. Too damn close.

Thankfully, Joel had taken over Major Crime for him, assigning every available cop to the hunt for Alex Barnes. Many more had volunteered after finding out that Sandburg was with her, not caring if they had to pull double shifts in order to keep the search going.

Simon's heart went out to Blair, the friend who was once again giving his life for those he held dear. How long could life keep throwing blow after blow until Blair finally surrendered? Simon didn't know; didn't want to know. But he hoped it wasn't any time soon and not at the hands of that mad woman.

He wondered what Jim would do if something were to happen to Sandburg. The man had been out on the streets since his partner -- his lover -- had gone missing, searching relentlessly for any clues, any leads that would help them find Alex and Blair. Simon knew Jim wouldn't rest until he found Sandburg.

What really had him worried was what would happen when Jim and Barnes met again. Because he had no doubt they would. And he wasn't sure he wanted to be anywhere in the vicinity when it was time for the showdown.


Simon started at the weak whisper, his gaze focusing on his son. He stared down into eyes clouded with pain.

"Daryl," he whispered gently, taking hold of his son's hand. "How are you feeling, Son?"

"Tired. Thirsty," Daryl replied, swallowing gingerly.

Simon nodded in understanding, unable to say anything else, relief making him giddy.

"I'll get you some ice," he finally said roughly, emotions still too close to the surface.

He left the room, quickly returning with a cup filled with ice chips and a spoon. He scooped a few up and placed them in his son's mouth.

"Where's Mom?" Daryl whispered, after the ache in his throat had eased somewhat.

"She had gone away on an unexpected business trip when I tried to reach her. She'll be here soon."

"What happened?" Daryl asked, his expression one of confusion.

"Let me get a doctor to check you out and then we'll talk, okay?"


Feeling as if the weight of the world was suddenly off his shoulders, Simon went in search of a doctor. Later on, when he was sure Daryl was out of danger and under police protection, he'd think about joining the hunt for Alex Barnes. He wanted to make sure she paid for everything she'd done. Preferably with her life.


It was mid-morning when Jim arrived at the station. He'd been up all night following leads, hoping that once they found Alex's Shasta Travelmaster they would find the woman... And his lover.

He stalked across the bullpen, nodding at the other cops, grateful for the obvious concern they showed, but unable to say anything in reply. Not yet. Not until Blair was safe and sound and by his side where he belonged.

He saw Joel in Simon's office and entered when Taggert waved him in.

"Anything, Jim?"

"No. All the leads I had turned out to be dead ends. You?"

"I'm waiting for a call from Rafe. There's a possibility we found the RV in one of the parks, but I want to make sure it's the right one first. I sent him and Henri ahead to check it out."

"Um, Joel..." Jim began, wondering how he could mention the fact that Alex would be able to hear them coming without telling him what she was, what they both were.

Joel smiled gently. "It's okay, Jim. I told them to keep their distance. I don't know exactly what happened between the two of you when she first showed up in Cascade, but I would never do anything that might endanger Blair."

Jim knew that no matter how far away Rafe and Henri thought it was safe to be, Alex would still be able to hear them. But he took comfort in knowing that for the time being, Blair would be safe. She needed him alive, as her Guide. She wouldn't risk harming him and losing the only person who could help control her senses.

"Besides," Joel told him, "I love Blair like a son. I wouldn't even be here today if not for him. I owe him big time for helping me with that bomb, Jim. I won't call off the search until we have him back with us."

Jim nodded, a warm feeling spreading over the sense of loss that had filled him since his lover had gone with Alex. He knew how the Major Crime cops felt about Blair, but it felt good to hear the words. And it helped him keep going.

The phone rang and Joel lunged for it before it could ring a second time.


"Captain, it's Rafe. We have a positive ID on the RV. We talked to some people who saw the woman who drove the trailer here and the description fits Barnes to a 'T'. And they mentioned a longhaired young man. We didn't get too close, so we have no way of knowing if they're there right now. But it's definitely the right one."

"Okay, we're on our way. Don't do anything until we get there, you understand?"

"Right, Captain. But if she leaves or something..."

"Then follow her. Discreetly, Rafe. Otherwise, stay put. Now, what's the park's address?"

Rafe gave him the directions and Joel hung up, turning to Jim, who was already on the way out.

"Let's go. Time to kick some butt!"


As soon as he got out of his truck, Jim knew there was no one inside the Travelmaster. He hadn't really been expecting it to be that easy, but there was a small part of him that had been hoping to hear that precious heartbeat. The heartbeat he was aching to hear and feel again. The one he desperately needed with him.

Because his control was beginning to slip, it was getting harder to use his senses without zoning; the dials weren't working that well anymore. He needed his Guide to keep him centered and he needed his lover to keep him whole.

Trying to control his desperation, Jim watched as Joel, Rafe and Henri began to cautiously approach the RV and joined them. Alex and his partner might not be there, but maybe there was something inside that could help them in their search.

He reached the others just as Henri opened the door to the trailer. It took him a second to realize what the ticking sound meant, but when he did, it chilled the blood in his veins.

"Get away! It's going to blow!"

Used to years of danger and last minute warnings, the other three cops didn't hesitate. They whirled around, running as far away from the RV as they could before the whole world blew up into flames and took them along.


Blair took a deep breath, trying to control the urge to strangle Alex with his bare hands. A week with the woman and he was ready to commit murder.

Somehow, she'd managed to find them a place to stay. It was a secluded mansion outside of Cascade, well away from traffic and the usual buzz of a big city which could drive a Sentinel crazy. Especially an unstable one.

Alex had told him that the owners of the mansion would be away on business for a month, so the two of them would be on their own. How she'd found out such a thing he didn't know -- and he didn't care.

All he cared about was the fact that she was slowly driving him crazy. She wanted to be with him all the time. She said his heartbeat soothed her, so she wouldn't allow him out of her sight. She was always breathing down his neck, following him wherever he went, watching him, even sleeping in the same bed.

There was nothing sexual going on between them; as far as he could tell she wasn't interested. And even if she were, he would've said no. But just touching him seemed to help her control her senses. She would instinctively dial them down whenever he was near.

But all that time, he'd been pretending to help her, biding his time until Jim found them. Never mentioning the dials, or how to piggyback two senses to keep her from zoning when she focused too hard on a single sense.

And he'd kept to himself the knowledge that she wasn't getting any better, that in fact it was the other way around. That her control over her senses was worse and that she was deeply unstable, not just on a sensory level, but on an emotional level as well. And growing more so each passing day. But then... He'd warned her about playing games with a dead man, hadn't he? He had time on his side. She didn't.

Blair's only real worry was Jim. He couldn't sleep at night, wondering how his lover was doing, how he was handling his senses while he was out on the streets. He had no doubt that his Sentinel was out there looking for him, tracking them down.

He had thought about escaping during one of Alex's zone-outs, but there was no way of calling for help. The first thing Alex had done after arriving at the mansion was destroy all the phones -- even her own cellular. And her zone-outs seemed to be further apart than the ones she'd mentioned having before Blair 'joined' her. Even without his help, she'd only zoned twice, and only for a couple of minutes.

Driving out was also out of the question. Alex had gotten rid of the van after they had arrived at the mansion. They had found a car in the mansion garage, but she kept the keys in a combination safe. And obviously she hadn't given him the combination.

Every time he thought up a scenario to overwhelm Barnes and escape, his mind immediately raised some obstacle against making it real. Besides, Alex was smart and resourceful -- not to mention, slippery. He had decided that his best option was to wait until he saw an opening in her defenses. As long as they were 'stranded' in the mansion, away from everything and everyone, escape would be impossible.

He turned his attention back to Alex. She was currently trashing the living room, destroying everything in sight. Because she had failed a simple sensory test. Another one. Touch this time.

Blair had blindfolded her and handed her several pieces of fabric to see if she could tell them apart, if she could name them. That didn't work. Then he'd tried giving her several objects to identify by touch. Some were simple enough, but others were beyond her.

So the insanity bubbling so close to the surface finally erupted, leaving Blair with an extremely mad and enraged woman. Who was nearly impossible to control.

"Alex, it's just a test," he told her wearily for the hundredth time in a week.

"Just a test? Just a test?!" she spat, face flushed with anger. "I failed it, just like I've failed every single one before!"

"You can't expect this to work in just a few days, Alex. It took Jim months to get his senses under control. And he still has problems. You can't rush this, damnit!"

"No... No, that's not it," she whispered. "There's something wrong. It's not working. Nothing you've told me to do is working. Why? Why the hell not?!" she shouted into his face, hands gripping his shirt front.

"You have to calm down, Alex. I..."

"I don't want to calm down! And don't try that bullshit about listening to your voice again! I'm sick of this! I want control!"

"Well, you won't get it by acting crazy, will you?" he snapped back. "Just stop and think for a minute!"

She stood still for so long he thought she'd zoned, until he heard her muttering over and over again. "Think for a minute, think for a minute..."

Alex turned to him, a strange gleam in her eyes.

"Think for a minute..." she said again, then suddenly smiled. "You were right."

"About what?" Blair stared suspiciously at her.

What was going through that weird mind of hers? Could she have finally figured out that he wasn't really helping her at all, just stringing her along? Not a nice thought. Unpredictable as her moods were at the moment, there was no way of telling how she'd react.

"About thinking. I should've thought about this before, I mean, it's so obvious!"

"What is?" Blair asked, a feeling of dread washing over him. Whatever she was up to, it couldn't be good.

"Sentinels are territorial beings, right? They wouldn't share their tribes, villages or whatever they were protecting with others of their kind. Only one Sentinel and Guide were allowed. I remember reading about it after you told me about Sentinels."


"So, why would the Temple of the Sentinels have those two pools? I thought it was for two Sentinels, but it doesn't make sense. It would be against their primal instincts to submit to another, against everything a Sentinel stands for. Unless... Unless the pools weren't meant for two Sentinels at all, but for a Sentinel and a Guide. To truly bond them together, to make them stronger. That's it, isn't it?" she sounded almost demented, her eyes shining and feverish.

Blair shook his head, amazed at the level of insanity she could reach.

"You're crazy, Alex," he stated in a flat voice. Nothing he said caused any impact on the woman anyway.

"I don't think so. And I'm going to prove it to you."

"How?" then suddenly it dawned on him. "Oh, no... You're not thinking..."

"We're going back to Sierra Verde, Blair. Just as soon as I get us a couple of fake passports and change my appearance a little. You and I... We're going to be a true Sentinel-Guide team, Blair. This time I know it will work."


Blair glanced around the busy airport terminal, somewhat surprised at his lack of emotion. They were reaching the point of no return. He was at a crossroad, staring at two different paths. He could either remain by Alex's side and take whatever destiny threw their way -- at least until he found a safe way to get away from Alex -- or, he could make his escape now. She wasn't even armed at the moment. It would be easy.

But what would happen if he chose to escape? She would simply follow him and go back to hurting his friends. Even under police protection, they'd be at risk and Alex was crazy enough to wait for as long as it took to catch them off guard. Besides, he knew Jim would eventually find them. And if Alex was arrested -- or killed -- she wouldn't be able to hurt anyone anymore.

He looked at the woman beside him as they moved toward the ticket counter. When Alex had said she was going to change her appearance he hadn't realized just how radical that change would be. She was currently a redhead, with short, boyish hair clinging to her face and highlighting the now wide brown eyes.

They reached the check-in line just as Blair spotted a familiar face: Frank Henderson, one of the new detectives from Major Crime. The cop was with a young woman and seemed to be saying good-bye to her.

Face carefully bland, Blair's mind was working furiously on a plan. He needed Jim to know where he was going, to at least know he and Alex had traveled somewhere. He knew Henderson had been on vacation for the last two weeks and was due back that day. It was also probable that Henderson didn't know what was happening, but if he saw Blair and spoke with the others, with Jim...

Blair kept looking at Henderson until the cop finally turned around and saw him. He recognized Blair and smiled, but the young man turned away. After a few seconds, he looked back at Henderson and saw the confused expression, the frown. The cop instincts coming to the fore.

Blair didn't dare make any signs in case Alex noticed, but he locked gazes with the cop for a long moment. This time when he looked away, it was to glance at Alex. He kept switching his gaze between Henderson and Alex until it was time for them to check-in. He gave the cop a last glance, then handed his passport and his ticket to the airline attendant.

Under the names Amanda Pearl and Robert Dawson, their fake passports passed inspection without a second glance. As soon as they reached Mexico City they would change identities again, but for now they were in the clear. Blair grabbed the bag packed with the few clothes they'd brought and followed Alex to the gate as she wove in and out of the airport crowd. Time to board the plane.


Jim sat dejectedly at his desk looking around the bullpen. It looked like a normal morning at the PD; a couple of cops sitting behind desks typing reports, others talking or laughing together, a perp being dragged off to an interrogation room yelling obscenities for everyone to hear. But there was nothing normal about that day. Or about the nine days before without his partner by his side.

Jim spent half the time feeling his helplessness grow, and the other half feeling ready to break something, snapping at everyone around him. Or zoning. His zone-outs were getting more frequent and more prolonged. If not for Megan and Simon...

They were no closer to finding Alex and Blair's whereabouts than when they'd first begun the search. The Travelmaster had been their last contact with anything related to Barnes. Jim still didn't know if she'd actually missed every single time she went after one of their friends, or she'd been toying with them. But the bomb in the RV hadn't claimed any victims. Joel was a bit worse for wear, but other than that, they were fine.

But no closer to finding Blair.

Frank Henderson walked into the bullpen and came straight to Jim's desk.

"Hey, Ellison! What's the deal with your partner?"

A heavy silence fell over the room at his words, heads turning around to listen to the conversation. Jim blinked up at the other detective.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, I just saw him at the..."

"You saw Blair? You saw Blair?!" Jim interrupted as he rose from his seat, his larger frame looming over Henderson. "Where? Where, damnit!"

"I saw him at the airport when I went to see my sister off back to Toronto. He was acting really weird!"

"How was he? How did he look?" Jim asked anxiously.

"Tired," Henderson replied after thinking for a moment. "Lost some weight too and looked a bit pale. Other than that he looked fine."

"You said he was acting weird," Henri prompted, crowding the man along with Rafe, Joel, Megan and just about every cop in the bullpen.

"Yeah. He kept looking at me, then would look away, then back again. Or he would look at the redhead with him."

"Redhead?" Megan frowned. "Couldn't be Naomi, so..."

"No, not Naomi. Alex!" Jim growled. "She knows we're searching for her, so she decided on a new look."

"Did Blair look any different? Altered his appearance in any way?" Rafe asked Henderson.


"Good. Then someone might remember him. Let's go to the airport, we need to find out where they were going."

It was a small crowd that left the precinct and headed to the airport. For the first time in over a week they had a lead. They were back in the game. The dice were rolling again.


An hour later they knew where 'Amanda Pearl' and 'Robert Dawson' were heading: Mexico City.

"I suppose you're going after them?" Joel asked Jim, a knowing smile lighting up his face.


"I'm going too," Megan stated, with Rafe and Henri nodding their agreement.

"So are we," Henri added anyway.

"You don't have to do this, guys."

"Hey!" Megan exclaimed, indignation clear in her tone. "It was my car she blew up!"

"Yeah, and she tried to run me over!" Rafe chimed in.

"And let's not forget my squashed jelly donuts," Henri growled. "I could kill her for that alone!"

Seeing the determined expressions behind the banter, Jim nodded to his friends.

"Okay, you're going too. And... Thanks."

"Sandburg's one of us, Jim." Rafe told him, a serious expression replacing the earlier playfulness. "We want him back too."

"Give me a minute," Joel said, dialing a number on his cell phone and speaking animatedly for a few minutes before hanging up and rejoining the conversation.

"I just spoke with Simon. As of now, the four of you are on vacation for a week. What you choose to do in that time is your choice and your choice alone," he sighed tiredly. "Believe me, both Simon and I would love to join you. But someone has to mind the store and Simon isn't ready to leave Daryl's side just yet."

"How's the kid?" Henri asked.

"Doing okay. He's young and heals fast. He didn't mind going to the safe house, but I think having both his parents under the same roof is proving to be too much even for him. Now, go pack and get ready for the flight. I'll take care of the tickets and anything else you might need. Just make sure you come back in one piece and bring Blair back with you."

Jim's ice blue eyes locked with Taggert's, his expression fierce.

"You can be certain of that."

And Joel was.


**Blair wondered what the hell he was doing in his office that early in the morning. The sun wasn't even up yet. And yet there he was, sitting at his desk, trying to figure a way out of the mess he'd gotten himself into. And how he could possibly make it up to Jim for his betrayal with Alex.

His breath suddenly caught in his chest as he watched Alex Barnes walk into his office, a gun in her hand.


She aimed her gun at him and Blair held up his hands in surrender, a sick feeling in his stomach. There would be no way out this time. Jim wouldn't be charging in to the rescue as he had many times before. Not this time.

"If it hadn't been for you, I never would have understood what I really was -- I owe you that," Alex told him. "You want to know how I really got the Sentinel senses? Solitary confinement in prison. I thought I was going crazy. It wasn't until I met you that I realized what I'd become."

"And look how you used this gift." Blair was unable to stop the reply, a feeling of disappointment washing over him. "What a waste."

"This is the one thing I really didn't want to do," Alex said, sadness creeping over her features for a moment. "But I can't leave you alive."

She walked closer to Blair, cocking the gun and he closed his eyes, not wanting to face his own death. He waited for the shot to sound, for the bullet to hit his body, for the terrible pain to strike. But nothing happened.

Taking a chance, Blair opened his eyes and watched as a myriad of emotions moved over Alex's features. Frustration. Pain. Anger. He wondered if she was even aware of what she was feeling.

"I can't..." Alex choked out. "But I have to..."


"Get up!"

"Alex..." Blair tried again.

"I said, get up!" she shouted, gun once again aimed at his head.

Blair had no choice but to obey. He rose from his desk and moved around it until he was near the door.

"Open it. Move!"

They exited from his office, walking in silence, their footsteps echoing eerily through the deserted corridors.

"Keep moving," she ordered when Blair hesitated.

"Where are we going?"

"I... I need to get out of here. To think... I..." she growled, frustration clear in her voice. "Just move, damn you!"

They left Hargrove Hall, down the stairs until they were near the fountain. It was still early enough in the morning that there was no one around to see them.

"Alex, you don't have to do this. It's not too late to back down, there's still time." She laughed at that, a hollow sound, and Blair turned around to face her. "You don't really want to do this. Jim can help you cut a deal with the PD."

"You're wrong, Blair. It is too late," Alex whispered, a hand caressing his cheek gently. She leaned closer, her lips brushing over his softly. Then the blank expression was back in place. "Turn around."


"Turn around!"

Left with no choice, knowing there was really no point in trying to fight, Blair turned back to the fountain. His heart was beating so fast it felt as if it was about to leap out from his chest. Blair couldn't help thinking about Jim, about what Jim would feel when his body was found, what would happen to him without someone to help him with his senses. But Jim had Simon to help him with the Sentinel stuff. He wouldn't be alone.

Blair felt Alex moving closer, felt her breath in his ear as she whispered, "I'm sorry..." The air shifted around him, a sharp pain centered in his skull, then the whole world went black.**

Blair opened his eyes and found that he was not floating face down in the fountain at Rainier, but was still airborne. On the way to Mexico City. And from there to Sierra Verde via charter.

He closed his eyes again, the remnants from his dream -- his memory -- still playing in his mind. Just what he needed, to start dreaming about that day again.

The nightmare had been a constant in his life since waking in the hospital, knowing that he'd actually died. But time and police work had brought other nightmares to share his dreams, equally filled with pain and death, and this one had begun to fade away.

He looked beside him. Alex had her eyes closed, head leaning back against the seat, but by the white-knuckle grip on the armrest Blair knew she wasn't sleeping either.

He gazed at the cloudy sky outside the small window. He had had a lot of time to think during the last few days about everything that had happened since Alex came into their lives. Enough time to put a few ideas together into a larger picture that he wasn't sure he liked.

When Alex had first shown up in Cascade Jim had wondered about the odds of two Sentinels in the same place, at the same time, both falling in with Blair. That day Blair had dismissed it as fate, synchronicity. But as time had gone by, he'd kept feeling that she was toying with Jim, challenging him. It was like Alex had been challenging Jim to a duel. And what drove two people into a duel? Hatred? A score to settle? Something they both wanted but wouldn't share? Like... A Guide?

Blair had thrown all his thoughts and theories aside when he'd witnessed the way Jim seemed to react around Alex, the way they seemed to be drawn together. The mating instinct had obviously been there. To perpetuate their kind, make an even stronger Sentinel.

But thinking back, maybe Blair hadn't been that far off the mark. Maybe the initial friction between the two Sentinels hadn't been about mating instincts or territorial imperatives. Maybe it had been about him, about the Guide. And neither of them had realized it, caught up as they were in all the emotional stuff. He remembered Alex's reluctance to kill him. A Sentinel was supposed to protect the Guide; that was why it had been so hard.

But in the end, none of it really mattered. Because he didn't want Alex as a Sentinel, he wanted Jim. And he wouldn't give up his silent fight until they were back together.


"You guys have a nice vacation," Joel quipped as he dropped off his fellow officers at the Cascade Airport.

"Geez, Joel, thanks!" Henri grinned. "You're too kind!"

The first flight available for Mexico City left right after lunch, so they'd had enough time to pack, take care of a few loose ends and still grab a bite to eat. Now they were ready to take off.

"I know," Taggert grinned back. "By the way, I called the authorities in Mexico City and Sierra Verde asking for their full cooperation. I think I forgot to mention the part about you guys being on vacation, though," he chuckled. "Anyway, with any luck, by the time you get there they'll have something for you."

"Let's hope so. We could definitely use the extra help," Rafe remarked as they stepped through the automatic doors.

"Well, this is as far as I go," Taggert said. "You're on your own now, people. I have to get back to the station."

"Joel, thank you. For everything," Jim told him, grateful for all his friend had done to help rescue Blair.

Joel nodded, a gentle smile on his face. "Good luck, Jim. Bring him back."

"I will."

With a last wave to the Captain, the four cops headed for the ticket counter, handing over their luggage to be checked. Once they had their boarding passes, they went straight for airport security, showing their badges and bypassing the metal detector. All the while, there was a heavy silence among them, as if they were getting ready for the battle to come, all knowing it wouldn't be easy, but none prepared to back down.

It didn't take long for their flight to be announced. Jim took his seat on the plane and closed his eyes wearily. He missed Blair desperately. The friend, the partner, the lover. He missed the warm smile, the weird sense of humor, the lovemaking... Even the rabbit food, Jim thought with a weak smile.

Jim shook his head. He should've known what was really happening to him and Alex that first time. When he'd been in the Temple of Light, in that pool, and Incacha's spirit had asked what he feared. All he had been able to see was Blair. And all the times he had been close to losing him. That was what he feared. Losing Blair.

But why had he been experiencing that fear? At that moment? With Alex around? He should've realized that behind the attraction, behind whatever mating drive he'd been feeling, another war was being fought.

Jim had been wrong before, when he'd told Blair that Alex was fighting a different war now. It wasn't a different war after all. It was the same one -- a battle over the Guide. Only now there were no distractions. No mating call, so to speak.

Jim was so caught up in his thoughts, he didn't notice the plane had started its slow motion onto the runway until the sudden roar of the engines made him wince. He cringed at the noise and felt a gentle touch on his arm.

He turned his head, his eyes locking with Megan's. She was sitting beside him, a concerned expression on her face.

"You okay?"

Jim nodded. He knew she was worried about him, about how the noise from the engines was affecting his senses.


"No, uh, problems?"

"Everything's fine, Megan."



They shared a smile.

"Just checking," she whispered.


"Yeah, well. Sandy would kick my ass all the way back home if something happened to you. So I better keep an eye on you."

"That's the only reason?"

Megan grinned. "Of course!"

"Right," Jim chuckled.


Jim settled back in his seat as the plane took off. The desperation wasn't gone, not by a long shot, but it felt good to have the others around. He would have probably gone mad by then, if not for their friends.

Now he had to concentrate all his energy on going after Alex. And getting his partner back. And this time he wasn't alone.


Sierra Verde was just as he remembered it, full of life, noisy... And hot. Not even the rainy season made the heat and humidity more bearable. Casually wiping the perspiration away from his face, Blair looked at Alex. The damn woman was ready to have another tantrum.

They had arrived in Sierra Verde the day before, too late to do much of anything, so Alex had gotten them a room at the Santa Cruz Hotel. As soon as the sun was up though, they rented a jeep from the hotel and went out driving through the small town.

Alex wanted a gun; the idea of being unarmed didn't suit her one bit, so they prowled the streets until they found a small time arms dealer who could help her. Then they drove to the airstrip just outside of Sierra Verde in search of transportation that would take them into the jungle.

Unfortunately, the only helicopter available was under repair, so they had to wait until after lunch before they could proceed to the Temple. Alex was not a happy camper.

"You know, this isn't going to work," Blair told her as they were having lunch at a local restaurant not far from the airstrip.

"Why not?"

"What are we going to do? Fly around until we find the Temple? We don't know its location!"

Alex nodded, as if she had been expecting that particular question.

"You're right. I don't know the exact location. But I remember where the helicopter crashed the last time we were here. Once we're there, I know I'll feel the pull to the Temple, just like the first time. I know I'll find it."

Blair sighed. There was no point arguing with a mad woman. He just hoped that Henderson had mentioned seeing him in the airport and that rescue was on the way. He wanted to be home. Didn't matter where. Blair just wanted to see his lover again, to be with him again. Because if home was where the heart was, then his home was with Jim.

They finished eating and Alex decided to go for a drive until it was time for her long awaited-journey. Neither noticed the man watching them from afar. Or how he walked over to a nearby payphone as they drove off.



"It's Montoya, Senor Arguillo."

"Yes. What is it?"

"You'll never guess who I just saw in town."

"I have better things to do than play guessing games, Montoya. Get on with it!"

"I saw one of the cops responsible for your brother's arrest."

There was a long silence on the other end of the line.

"Are you sure?" the man asked softly.

"Si, Senor. I was with your brother at the time. I remember the gringo cop well. Nice looking, long hair, big blue eyes..."

Arguillo snorted.

"Spare me the disgusting details, Montoya. Are you alone?"

"Si, Senor. But I can take him."

"Any of the others with him?"

"No, Senor."

"Too bad. Carlos died in that prison because of those American cops. I would've liked to get my hands on all of them. But I guess one is better than nothing. Get him, then. I'll send a couple of men to catch up with you on the way, he might try something. These gringos always think they're better than us."

"Si, Senor. Um, there is a woman with him. Doesn't look familiar. But she's always with him."

"Bring her along. I'm sure the men will find some... use for her," Arguillo finished with a laugh, and Montoya joined him.

"I'll be there soon, Senor... With our prey."

"Just make sure that you are."


Jim groaned as he stepped under the warm shower water, the heat loosening some of the tension in his body.

Another sleepless night. As soon as they'd arrived in Mexico City, the four cops had stopped at the American Embassy and then at the local police station to check for any news of Alex Barnes or Blair Sandburg. When they were finally through with all the exhausting bureaucratic and diplomatic bullshit, all they had known for sure was that Barnes and Sandburg were probably in Sierra Verde by then, under new identities. This time as Laura Simpson and David Williams.

Too tired to keep traveling, they had made reservations for a charter to take them to Sierra Verde in the morning. Then they'd rented rooms in the first decent hotel they'd found and collapsed.

His thoughts away from what he was doing, Jim began to lather his body with mindless, mechanical gestures. He knew his friends were surprised that he hadn't fallen apart yet, and by how much in control he seemed to be. God knew how much that was costing him. His senses were dialed down to about as low as they could go; it had to be that way if he wanted to survive a possible zone-out. As for his emotions... If Jim let them run free, he'd be a mess. He would never get his partner back that way. And he needed Blair back.

A familiar scent he associated with his lover teased his nostrils and Jim realized the soap he was using was one Blair favored. Unwillingly, his body began to react to the scent and to the sensory memories that came with it. Jim closed his eyes and his arousal grew as visions of lush lips, damp curls and ocean blue eyes made darker with passion flew into his mind.

Unable to stop himself, he stroked his hardening cock, urging his erection into the fist substituting for the tight ass he wanted so desperately to bury himself in.

"Blair..." he moaned, heart aching for the real thing, for the reality that was his lover.

Thrusting faster and faster, he pumped harder into his hand, still lost in a fantasy that couldn't come close to what he wanted, needed, so badly.

Finally he whimpered, his seed coating his hand as he leaned back against the tiles to prevent himself from falling. When he was able to move again, Jim rinsed away the evidence of his actions. And the stinging in his eyes wasn't tears. Not tears at all.


The airstrip was deserted when Blair and Alex got there, but that in itself wasn't odd. The only person around when they'd been there in the morning had been the helicopter repairman. But Blair's instincts were screaming at him to get away, that something was wrong. And since he'd been partnered with Jim, Blair had learned to trust his instincts.

"Uh, Alex, I think there's something wrong. We should leave."

"Don't even try it, Blair. You just want me to give up my search for the Temple!" She looked around. "Where the hell is he?! We've wasted enough time as it is!"

"Maybe we can ask that guy," Blair suggested, as he noticed a man leaving the main building. He was wearing a jumpsuit with the chopper company's logo on it.

They left the jeep and were approaching the man when Blair suddenly stopped, his heartbeat skyrocketing.

"Alex, the man's face..."

She frowned at Blair's hesitant expression, then turned her attention to the man moving towards them. And swore as she recognized one of Carlos Arguillo's men. Alex reached for her gun, but the man was too close and saw it.

He aimed his gun at them and nodded slightly as a way of greeting.

"I wouldn't do that, Senorita," he warned, as he noticed Alex was still going for her gun. "I have no problems with killing a woman. And what a shame it would be, when one is as lovely as yourself. Now, allow me to take your gun from you, Senorita." It wasn't a request.

Knowing that it was better to quit, at least for the moment, Alex subsided with a sigh. When the man extended his hand, she quietly handed her gun over.

"What do you want?"

"From you nothing, Senorita. But from your cop friend there..."

"Cop?" Blair echoed, startled. "I'm not a cop!"

The man laughed.

"Of course not, Senor. And my name is not Rodrigo Montoya. But as I was saying, what I want is revenge. Carlos Arguillo was a good man, I liked working for him. He was killed in prison a few months ago. And you're one of the men responsible for putting him there. Now, let's go!"

"Where?" Blair asked, wondering why Montoya didn't just shoot him where he stood.

"Juan Arguillo, Carlos' brother is, uh, very anxious to have a few words with you. Move!"

Montoya prodded them to their jeep, then turned to Blair.

"You drive. That way you won't have the opportunity to try anything stupid."

Alex and Blair exchanged a glance. There was nothing they could do at the moment; they might as well obey. Maybe they would get a chance to escape before they fell into Arguillo's hands. And Montoya had obviously failed to recognize Alex, which could work to their advantage.

Blair sat behind the wheel with Alex beside him and Montoya in the backseat, and they drove off.


Alex knew her rage was close to choking her, but was unable to stop the feeling from spreading over her. Of all the rotten luck... Talk about the past coming back to bite you in the ass.

Carlos Arguillo. She wouldn't shed a tear for the bastard's death. In fact, good riddance to bad rubbish. But his brother and his men might be a problem. A big problem. She would have to get rid of the Montoya trash if she wanted to continue her search for the Temple. And nothing, and no one, was going to stop her from reaching her goal. She'd been through too much, done too much, gone too far for that now.

The best thing would be to act soon. The sooner the better. They were plunging deeper and deeper into the jungle and further away from Sierra Verde. And that didn't suit her plans. To make things worse, the weather seemed to be changing as well. The sun had long ago vanished behind heavy clouds and it would begin raining soon. They had to get to the airstrip fast or it would be impossible for the chopper to take off.

The road they were traveling on wasn't paved; in fact, from its neglected state she'd bet it didn't get much use at all. It was too rocky, with too many holes and large bumps, which made driving hard. Alex had to hand it to Blair; he was one hell of a driver.

She smiled as she noticed how relaxed Montoya had become over their drive. He obviously didn't think much of her, thought that the only danger would come from Blair. And since Blair was driving, he had ceased paying attention to her, only glancing at her occasionally. He kept his full attention on Blair; that was going to be his mistake.

Taking advantage of a bump in the rocky path, and watching as Montoya's grip on his gun relaxed, Alex pounced. She jumped into the backseat, landing on the man and stopping him from shooting by using her body weight.

"Alex! What the hell...?!"

Alex ignored Blair's startled shout and continued her fight for possession of Montoya's gun. She suddenly felt it go off, surprised and relieved when the bullet missed her. A second later she realized the bullet had indeed hit a mark -- Blair. The Guide's right arm was bleeding profusely as he kept trying to control the jeep from its now run-away path.

Alex noticed that they were not on the main road anymore, but on a narrow dirt track. Blair had probably lost control of the wheel when he'd been shot. She wanted to help, but she was still fighting Montoya, throwing punches and kicks, anything to win her desperate fight.

"Oh, my God!"

She heard Blair's exclamation and looked up from the struggle.

The jeep was going straight over a cliff and Blair was still unable to control the vehicle. 'Must protect the Guide', came the lightening fast thought and, without even realizing what she was doing, Alex obeyed. She punched Montoya once more, then pushed Blair with all her strength, throwing him out of the jeep.


Events were moving too swiftly for Blair's exhausted mind to process properly. One moment he'd been driving towards an uncertain but undoubtedly painful destiny; the next Alex was fighting Montoya in the backseat, he was getting shot and then thrown clear of the jeep by Alex.

He barely had enough time to register the sound of ripping trees and torn metal as he watched the jeep and its two remaining occupants go over the cliff. The last thing Blair saw was the jeep sinking into the river below before giving in to the blessed darkness awaiting him.


The group from Cascade boarded the charter in Mexico City to a nearly blinding sun and landed in Sierra Verde to a dark, threatening sky. They were greeted with the sight of an airstrip full of cops. They were everywhere, creating the usual buzz around a crime scene. Only this time the background noise was in Spanish.

"What's going on?" Megan asked, as they glanced at all the activity going on.

"Let's ask." Henri suggested.

They approached one of the closer cops, who turned curiously to face them.

"What happened?"

The man gave them a blank look that clearly stated he didn't speak any English.

"Where's your Captain?" Rafe tried again. "Uh, su jefe?"

The man's face lit up with sudden understanding.

"Ah, si! Capitan Delgado. Esta alli," he pointed to a tall, sturdy man standing near the airstrip's main building.


"Captain Delgado?" Jim queried, once they reached the man.

"Yes?" Delgado looked carefully at the strangers, obviously gathering his first impressions of the unknown gringos. "What can I do for you, gentlemen? And Senorita?" he bowed to Megan.

"My name's Detective James Ellison and I..."

"Ah, yes!" Delgado interjected. "I've been expecting you. Your Captain, uh, Target called and let me know you were coming."


"Yes. Anyway, I have some news. And I'm afraid it's not very good."


"The two people you're looking for, Alexis Barnes and Blair Sandburg, or as we know them now, Laura Simpson and David Williams, were in this very place not an hour ago."

"Here? At the airstrip?" Henri echoed with a frown.

"Si. As far as my men can tell, the two spent the night at the Santa Cruz Hotel. This morning, they tried to rent a helicopter, but the one available was getting repaired and wouldn't be ready until after lunch."

"They left in the helicopter?" Jim guessed, knowing the only reason Alex would return to Sierra Verde would be to find the Temple of Light again.

"No. You see, the helicopter company has two workers only. When Henrique, one of those workers, came in for his shift about a half an hour ago, he found his partner dead. Someone shot him."

"You think Barnes did it?" Rafe asked.

"For a while I did, yes. But then my men began to ask around, looking for any possible witnesses to the crime. There weren't any, but the owner of a cafe close by saw Barnes and your young friend driving off into the jungle in a jeep. And she recognized the man they were with as Rodrigo Montoya."

"And?" Jim asked impatiently, knowing there was more to come.

"And that Rodrigo Montoya works for the Arguillo family."

Megan frowned. "Arguillo? Isn't that the guy..."

Jim nodded, beginning to get a clear picture of what Delgado was attempting to tell them.

"Yes. Carlos Arguillo. This doesn't look good."

Delgado tilted his head to the side as he regarded the cops with a knowing look.

"Then I think you should know it's bound to get worse. Carlos Arguillo died in prison three months ago in a fight with another inmate. His older brother is running the business now. I called your Captain Target..."


"And he told me your Senor Sandburg was here last time," Delgado finished, ignoring Rafe's attempt to correct the Captain's last name. "If Montoya saw him and thought he was a policeman... And one responsible for putting Carlos Arguillo in jail in the first place..."

"Shit!" Jim swore, fearing for his lover's life. "You know where Arguillo lives?"

Delgado nodded and scribbled an address on his notebook, handing the sheet to Jim.

"Use my jeep; it's an unmarked vehicle. Your luggage will be taken to the Santa Cruz Hotel and I'll make room reservations. As soon as I can, I'll free some of my men and send them along as your back-up."

Henri shook the man's hand heartily.

"Thank you, you've been really helpful."

Delgad bowed slightly in reply.

"Good luck, Senores. You'll need it."

They jumped into the jeep, ready to go in pursuit of their lost friend. Jim was starting the jeep when his heart tightened in his chest and a chill swept over him, making him shudder violently. The howl of a wolf reached his ears and he turned in time to see his partner's spirit guide disappear into the jungle.

"Jim? Are you okay?" Megan touched his arm, concerned over his suddenly ashen expression.

"There's something wrong," Jim whispered. "Something happened to Blair."

The other three shared a worried glance. Somehow, they all knew that those anguished-filled words were true.


Waking up was a slow and painful process. Sensation flooded back to him first. He realized it was raining -- no, pouring -- and that he was out in the open. Then other things began to register; he was lying on soggy ground, his right arm hurt like hell, and his head was throbbing painfully.

Blair raised a shaky hand and touched his forehead. He felt something sticky covering a small lump near his left temple, probably blood. No doubt the cause of his massive headache.

A noise to his right made him turn his head. That was a mistake. A sudden wave of nausea and dizziness assailed him, causing him to moan helplessly. Trying to control his upset stomach, Blair took a deep breath and felt a sharp, stabbing pain take over his body.

Blair forced his brain cells to work and analyze his most pressing problems. He had a bullet wound, which was still bleeding. A head injury, which might or might not take a turn for the worse depending on how bad it was. And a few cracked or broken ribs. Plus, he was sore, exhausted, weak, dizzy, wet and sick to his stomach.

"Geez... You don't do things halfway, do you Sandburg?" he muttered disgustedly to himself.

He heard the noise again. With a small sigh of resignation, Blair opened his eyes to see what it was. He blinked a few times to try and clear his blurry vision, but it took a few seconds before he actually stopped seeing two wolves.

His spirit guide was sitting close by, unmoving. He was also totally oblivious of the rain falling down around them.

"Hey, there... What are you doing here?"

The wolf tilted his head as Blair spoke, but otherwise remained still.

"Guess I should do something about my condition, huh?"

Gulping in an effort to squash his rising panic, Blair gritted his teeth and dragged himself through the mud until he reached the nearest tree around him. Then, with careful slowness he sat up, leaning heavily on the trunk. He kept his eyes closed for a moment, waiting for the world to stop spinning.

When the nausea and the dizziness had died down somewhat, he undid his shirt and spent several painful minutes removing it and ripping the sleeves off. He used one to clean his face, wiping away blood, sweat and rain. With the other he made a crude tourniquet for his arm. It wouldn't hold for long, but for the moment it would serve its purpose. He thought about donning the rest of the shirt, but decided against it. Besides being torn and soaked, trying to put the shirt back on would only cause him further pain.

The wolf was so close to him now that Blair could almost touch the shiny, damp fur. He didn't though.

"What now, boy? I don't know how bad my injuries are. I should stay put..." Blair whispered. "But no one knows where I am. I need to get out of here. At least get back on the main road, maybe get some help... Does that meet with your approval?"

He tried to tell himself he wasn't being foolish for babbling away to his spirit guide. It kept him from thinking too much about his situation. About how he was all alone in this damn jungle, badly hurt; how the panic was close to the surface.

As if understanding what Blair was asking, the wolf rose. He gave Blair a glance, then began to walk towards the path that led to the main road.

"Well, I guess that answers my question..." Blair quipped weakly, as he watched the wolf stop and look back at him again. "Okay, okay... I'm coming...." he panted painfully, his whole body feeling like a king-sized pincushion. "God, I hurt!"

Getting to his feet was an exercise in agony and Blair was forced to grab the tree trunk in a tight grip to keep from falling flat on his face. Breathing shallowly to prevent jarring his ribs, he bit his lip to stop from crying out as everything hit him at once. Dizziness. Nausea. Hot, blinding pain.

After what seemed like forever, the sickness subsided and the pain receded enough for him to straighten up. A few shallow breaths and he was ready to go.

"Right..." he whispered. "Lead the way, Wolfy..."


Blair pushed the damp mess that was his hair out of his face and shuddered as a gust of wind hit his nearly unprotected body. Without his shirt, his only shield against Nature's elements was a t-shirt. And both the t-shirt and his jeans were beyond wet now, making it even harder for him to keep walking.

"Like I need any more hassle..." Blair grunted as he kept following the wolf.

They had been moving for what Blair figured must be an hour. His watch had stopped when Alex had thrown him from the jeep. Not that he would've been able to see much on the damn thing. His vision was still blurry and he kept seeing double every now and again. Not to mention his glasses were crushed to pieces somewhere on the jungle floor.

His strength was fading fast. The nausea seemed to have settled down, even when he risked a few sips from a miraculously found stream. But the light-headedness was still there. And his legs were trembling so hard he had to keep to the side of the road so he could lean on the occasional tree, so he wouldn't fall down. Because he knew that if he did, he wouldn't get up again.

As he walked, Blair thought about his life and all the important people who took part in it. Anything to stop himself from thinking about how far he still had to go, how long he still had to walk. His lover. Where was Jim now? Was he close? And were Simon or any of the others with him? And oh, God, Daryl... Blair didn't know anything about his young friend's condition. Alex had refused to let him call the hospital.

Naomi also came to mind. She'd sounded happy the last time they'd spoken on the phone. Just two days before Alex Barnes had stormed back into his life. Naomi had been staying with her mother, Blair's grandmother, Anna. Both women had chatted excitedly about Wolf Point, about how Shane McKenzie and Tom Boyden were officially living together as a couple. Oh yes, and how Tom had taken over his brother's real estate business.

Blair remembered the joy he himself had felt as he heard the two most important women in his life getting so close again. And how well Anna was recovering from her husband's death. All of that seemed like a lifetime ago. Those memories belonged in a warm, safe place in his heart. All he could feel now was cold... And pain. The almost frantic thoughts kept flying through his exhausted mind as he stumbled along the way.

The only good thing was that he was now on the main road, having left the dirt path behind a long time before.

The distant sound of a car engine brought Blair back from his pain-induced stupor. When he realized it might mean salvation, he felt like sobbing in relief. The noise came not from Sierra Verde, but from the opposite direction, which was even better. Whoever it was, they were heading towards the small town.

"Thank God!" he whispered.

Blair turned towards the sound of the approaching vehicle and took a couple of steps in that direction. A sudden growl from his spirit guide stopped him cold. He gazed at the wolf, surprised to see the previously calm animal in a threatening stance. Teeth showing and growling deep in its throat.

"What's wrong, boy?"

The wolf kept growling, his whole body tensing as if preparing to attack. He seemed to be waiting for what now sounded like a jeep to reach them. And Blair understood what his spirit guide was trying to tell him. With a sinking feeling in his stomach, he sighed wearily.

"Help is not on the way, is it? It's danger."

The animal stopped growling and started walking again -- this time away from the road. Back into the jungle.

"Shit!" Blair followed him and hid behind some dense trees to watch. A moment later the jeep drove by. He didn't have time to see if any of the men's faces were familiar, but there were no mistaking the guns they were carrying.

Once the jeep and its two men disappeared, spirit guide and human returned to the road. And to their slow march back to civilization.


They'd been driving for quite a while when they spotted the broken-down jeep on the other side of the road. The hood was up and a man was leaning over the motor, probably trying to figure out what was wrong with it.

"Do we stop to help them out?" Henri asked Jim.

Jim didn't really want to waste any more precious time, but he knew his conscience would drive him crazy if he left the man stranded out in the middle of the jungle.

"Yeah, okay," he grumbled.

Jim stopped the jeep by the side of the road and joined his fellow officers as they approached the man.

"Need any help?" Rafe asked.

The man swung around to face them, a suspicious gleam in his eyes as he regarded the four cops.

"No need, gracias. We were to meet a friend along the road. He should be here soon, he'll give us a ride home."

It was only when the man said 'we' that Jim realized there was another man in the jeep, previously hidden by the hood. Cursing his need to keep his senses dialed down, Jim turned and found himself staring at a barrel of a gun. Held by one of Carlos Arguillo's former thugs. The cop remembered the man's face well. And apparently so did Megan.

"You!" she spat. "Where's Sandy? What have you done with him?"

Obviously not understanding who 'Sandy' was, the man blinked in surprise.

"I know not who you speak of, Senorita. But I know Senor Arguillo will be very happy to see you both!" he smirked, as he nodded with his head towards both Jim and Megan.

Jim felt his anger boiling. They were wasting time that could be spent rescuing his lover. He had no patience left for the two wanna-be tough guys. With a sudden move he knocked the gun out of the man's hands and threw himself at the Mexican, knocking him on the ground.

The man fought back, hitting Jim on the side of the head with enough strength to make him dizzy. Growling deep in his throat, Jim made good use of his left hook, punching the man twice in the face, then bouncing his head on the ground until he was unconscious.

Taking a couple of deep breaths to steady himself, then shaking his head to clear the dizziness, Jim finally stood up. And found Megan sitting comfortably on top of the second man -- who was lying helplessly on the ground -- while Rafe and Henri chuckled at the scene.

"She kicked the shit out of him," Rafe explained to Jim.

"Well," she sniffed in mock annoyance. "He called me a bitch. Nobody calls me a bitch. Now," she snarled as she grabbed a handful of the man's hair. "Where's Sandy?!"

"I don't know!" the man yelled.

"Blair Sandburg. Where is he? He was seen with Rodrigo Montoya. Where. Is. He?" Henri questioned, hoping he sounded pissed-off enough to convince the man.

"You mean the cop, right? Montoya said he'd seen him in town this morning and was going to capture him. Senor Arguillo sent us to meet with Montoya somewhere along this road. We were thinking Montoya had trouble getting him or was late because we haven't seen him yet. And he had more than enough time to do the job."

"Think he's telling the truth?" Rafe wondered.

Jim nodded silently. He'd risked dialing up his senses as the man was talking, and everything he said rang true.

"So, now what?" Megan asked.

"I'm guessing something happened to them on the way to Arguillo's place. We better keep going. If we don't find them, then we'll double back," Jim decided.

"And these two?" Henri glared at the two Mexicans.

"We tie them and leave them here with a note for Delgado's men. They should be here any minute."

"Right!" Rafe agreed, already looking for some rope to tie the two men with.

Five minutes later they were on their way again. In a few more hours it would be dark. If they wanted to find Blair they would have to hurry.


Blair looked up at the sky. The rain had finally stopped falling, but now it was beginning to get dark. A couple more hours and it would be impossible for him to see where he was going. And the idea of spending the night in the jungle, with no shelter, and as weak as he was feeling...

His attention was drawn to his spirit guide, who suddenly began to run away from him.

"Hey! Where are you going? I can't go that fast! Wait!"

But the wolf kept going until it was just a blur and then finally gone. Now Blair was truly alone.

"And it sucks..." he muttered.


Jim barely had enough time to hit the breaks when the wolf appeared in the middle of the road.

"Shit!" he panted. Not that he would've killed the animal; after all, the wolf was not real. But it was hard to overcome the reflexes of a lifetime.

"Why did you stop?" Rafe asked, a frown creasing his forehead, and Jim realized the others couldn't see the wolf.

"Uh, sorry. Thought I saw something," he mumbled as an excuse.

Realizing why his lover's spirit guide was there, Jim eagerly followed the wolf. At first there was nothing, but then suddenly... His heart hammering in his chest, Jim dialed up his vision. And then there he was, the most beautiful thing Jim had ever seen in his life. Dirt, blood and all.

"It's him!" he yelled.

"Where?" Megan squinted at the horizon, but was unable to see anything.

Jim didn't bother to answer. He stepped on the gas pedal, suddenly aware that the wolf had vanished. It didn't matter, though; its work was done. They'd found Blair.


Blair could hardly believe it when he saw the jeep coming his way. And the person driving it.

Too tired to do much, he just leaned against a tree for support, feeling a huge smile spread over his face. Joyful in spite of his pain. And feeling freezing cold. And looking like he'd been swimming in the sea -- with his clothes on.

He saw the four cops leave the jeep and approach him. Blair's eyes locked with his lover's, watching him getting closer, everything seemingly happening in slow motion.

"Blair," Jim breathed softly, hands cupping his lover's face and tilting it up tenderly.

Blair felt his eyes closing as Jim's lips brushed over his in a feather-like touch. In that moment nothing else existed except the two of them and the jungle surrounding them; time stood still for a heartbeat... Then it was over.

Three startled gasps broke the spell and the lovers turned as one to face their friends. Jim hadn't meant to 'come out' that way, but after so long away from Blair, he'd needed the contact -- no matter how brief.

Megan was grinning from ear to ear, while both Henri and Rafe stood gaping at them. Jim felt an absurd urge to yell 'Timber' and watch them fall down.

"What, no comments from the peanut gallery?" he asked, a huge smile lighting up his whole face. He had his lover back by his side; he was allowed the goofy expression.

"Well, I for one think you look cute together," Megan smirked, obviously happy for them. "I guess congratulations are in order." She kissed them both on the cheek. "If you ever need anything, a friend, a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to... Count me in, okay?"

"Thanks, Megan," Jim nodded in appreciation. The two of them had come a long way since they'd first met.

Blair turned to the other two cops.

"Uh, Henri? Rafe?" he queried.

"I..." Henri frowned. "I won't say it never crossed my mind that you two were, uh, you know... But, to actually see... I mean..."

Blair sighed wearily. "It's okay, H. I guess it takes time to get used to the idea. Rafe?"

Rafe cleared his throat, opened his mouth, closed it again.

"I wasn't expecting it," he said simply, after a long moment.

When it became clear he wasn't going to elaborate on that, Megan thought it best to change the subject.

"Um, where's Alex? And Montoya?"

"Both dead," Blair replied, feeling the pain and exhaustion coming back with a vengeance. "I'll tell you about it later. Uh, Jim?"

Jim turned to his lover and realized for the first time just how close to collapsing he was. Darkened blue eyes regarded him wearily, dull with pain and tiredness. He was pale and sweating, and Jim could feel the shudders wracking his body even without touching him.

"Right. Time for another trip to the ER, Chief. Only this time you get to play tourist -- it's your first time in Sierra Verde."

"Haha! You're so not funny, man. Don't ever quit your day job, you'd starve as a comedian."

"Is that the best you can do, Darwin?"

"Hey! I lost two million brain cells today when I hit my head and lost consciousness! That's a known medical fact! I'm allowed to be a bit slow."

"You're telling me that each time you hit your head and pass out..." Jim began.

"Hey, I didn't pass out! I lost consciousness. It's a whole different thing!" Blair interrupted, sounding offended.

"Whatever. The fact is that if each time you hit your head and *pass out*, you lose two million brain cells... Shit! You shouldn't have any left!" Jim chortled, unable to keep the happiness he was feeling from erupting.

"Like I said, Ellison, don't quit your day job. And you shouldn't talk, man! You have no excuse."



"Shut up."


They bundled up into the jeep and headed back to Sierra Verde. Blair tried to stay awake during the drive back, knowing it was dangerous for him to fall asleep before reaching the hospital. He lost the fight as they were driving through the small town. When Jim burst through the ER frantically shouting for a doctor, Blair was unconscious.


Jim sighed softly as he watched his lover's naked body nestle against his larger one as Blair slept. He kissed the top of his lover's head, while his fingers played absently with a stray curl of silken hair. They were finally home after spending a week in Sierra Verde.

Blair had been forced to stay in the hospital overnight for observation, while Jim tried unsuccessfully not to hover or act like the mother-hen from hell. His lover had a concussion, three cracked ribs, and the blood loss from the bullet wound had the doctors worried for a while. Jim figured all that allowed him to behave a little on the manic side.

Eventually Blair had been set free and allowed to join Jim in their hotel room -- under strict orders to rest.

The rest of the week had been spent doing paperwork. Jim had been unpleasantly surprised to find out that the Mexican Police had at least triple the amount of paperwork than the Cascade PD forced them to do. And they had had no way out of it. They might have been on 'vacation', but they were still cops, and they had been responsible for apprehending two of Arguillo's men.

As for Arguillo himself, he was now behind bars. Given the choice of doing time or spilling the goods on their new boss, the two men obviously had chosen the latter. Especially after an Oscar-caliber performance of good cop-bad cop done by Jim and Megan.

The only thing that had bugged Jim was the fact that neither Alex nor Montoya's bodies had been found. Delgado had told them it wasn't that unusual. It was the rainy season after all, and the current on that particular river was very strong.

And then there had been Henri and Rafe to consider. The two men had been acting aloof around them, to say the least. Jim could see that Henri was trying to understand the change in their relationship, but Rafe...

His thoughts drifted back to the present as Blair moved slightly, nuzzling Jim's hand before opening his eyes and gazing directly into Jim's.

"Hey... What you doing awake?" Blair whispered.

Jim shrugged. "Couldn't sleep."

Blair nodded, his hand reaching out to caress his lover's cheek gently.

"I want to make love to you," he told Jim, sadness clear in the expressive blue eyes. "It's been so long..."

"I know, Chief," Jim sighed, kissing him softly. "But it's too soon, your body is still healing."

"Well, some of my body parts are just fine," Blair said in a mock pout.

"I can see that," Jim chuckled as he watched his lover's hardening cock, his own throbbing in anticipation. "Ummm... Let's see what I can do to make it go back to sleep," he quipped, as one of his fingers trailed over the tip of Blair's shaft.

Jim closed his hand around his lover's now aching erection, pumping once and smirking as he watched Blair trying not to thrust up. He began stroking the cock in his hand, slowly, taking his time, enjoying the way it throbbed at his touch.

Blair closed his eyes, his head pressed back into the pillow as his hands clutched at the sheets.

"Oh, yeah," he moaned. "That's so good..."

Jim began increasing the rhythm of his strokes, feeling Blair's cock lengthening and hardening, small drops of moisture appearing at the tip. Lips twisting into a devilish grin, Jim suddenly shifted and engulfed the head of his lover's shaft in his mouth, sucking tenderly, running his tongue around it and feeling it swell even further.

Wanting to prolong the pleasure and the torment, Jim released Blair's shaft and turned his attention to the balls, taking them into his mouth, licking and nibbling on them until Blair was writhing helplessly and begging to come.

His mouth never leaving the tender globes, Jim reached for his lover's cock with his hand. He resumed his stroking, pumping faster and harder this time, bringing Blair closer to the brink.

Weeks of forced abstinence made for little resistance and with a sudden shout of his lover's name, Blair came -- his seed flowing over Jim's hand and onto his own stomach. When he was finally able to open his eyes and notice the world around him again, Blair turned to his lover.

"What about you?"

"Turn on your side," Jim told him gently.

Once Blair was lying on his side, Jim spooned up behind him. He moved in until they were practically glued together, Jim's cock slipping between Blair's thighs. Jim nuzzled his lover's curls as he began to thrust in between his legs, his breath caressing the young man's neck as he began to moan more and more loudly.

Finally Jim grunted, his cock spasming as he orgasmed, his seed coating Blair's thighs and genitals.

"Shit, I needed that." Jim whispered, ignoring Blair's sleepy snort.

Jim used a corner of the sheet to clean them both, then snuggled back against his lover, this time face to face.

"I love you, Blair," he said, kissing his lover's lush lips tenderly one last time for the night.

"I love you too, Jim. And when these damn ribs finally heal, I'm going to show you just how much."


"Yeah," Blair replied, licking a moist trail around the shell of a pale pink ear, then whispering into it. "I'm going to fuck you through the mattress, man."

A lecherous grin lit Jim's whole face. "Looking forward to it, Chief, looking forward to it," he promised, a contented sigh escaping his lips.

The lovers nestled back together and finally fell asleep. And they dreamed about the jungle, watched as the jaguar ran towards the wolf. And just as before both animals leapt up and across and there was a blinding light. And this time, when it dimmed, only one animal remained.

An animal that was neither jaguar nor wolf. It was both. One. The same.

THE END - Jungle Warfare 

Final note: This story contained original artwork. If you want to see the artwork done for story or if you want to read any of the other stories in the SVS, click on the link below.

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