The Sentinel/Magnificent 7 ATF Crossover
April 16, 2006
I just recently got hooked into another fandom. I didn't mean to, I mean I've been studiously careful NOT to. Sure I've read a few SG1 stories, A-Team, etc. etc. But I've pretty much avoided dipping in and becoming immersed like I did with The Sentinel. Still, I suppose it was inevitable.
It all started with Cindy Comb's TS/MacGyver crossovers. She has several stories where she introduces the characters from The Magnificent Seven as they have been adapted to modern day as ATF agents by Mog. That enticed me to read the other TS/M7 crossovers that I was able to find.
Then the first season of M7 came out and I wanted to see the original Old West incarnation of the characters. So as soon as it came out I ordered it through NetFlix. I must admit that while I enjoyed the first season and could definitely see where many of the characters personality quirks originated, that I actually prefer the ATF version.
I tried to resist, but finally succumbed and went out searching for the ATF stories that I knew had to be available. I wanted to see what kind of trouble the M7 gang got into on their own. Sigh. There is a whole season and a half of Virtual ATF episodes. They are quite well done. From there it was hardly a whole step to my down fall…
So, you can't possibly be surprised by this crossover.
I didn't foresee writing a stand alone M7 story but of course my muse seems to have other ideas (She's showing undue interest in Ezra angst G), and I do currently have one in progress. But in the meantime, I find I like giving Jim, Blair, Simon and the others new faces to interact with, so on with the show.
None of the guys from M7 belong to me and none of the gang from TS either. pout
Warnings? I don't think so. Some four letter words.
Hope you enjoy it.
He ran. They were after him. He didn't know where he was, but he knew his only chance was to stay out of their reach until he could get to help. If only he could find… There was someone… Jim. That was who he needed to find. Jim. But where was he? Oh well. As long as he stayed out of their hands, sooner or later Jim would find him.
Jim Ellison slammed the phone back into its receiver. Damn it! He rubbed his face with both hands then ran them through his hair. Blair had been missing for over a week. There had been a ransom note of sorts the day he disappeared, but nothing since then.
The note had been a warning, for Jim to stay away from the Jameson trial. The trial had started three days ago, and as it turned out, Jim was the last person scheduled to testify. That could mean another week at the rate the trial was going.
And there was no sign of Blair. The kidnappers had done a heck of a job covering their tracks. None of Jim's usual contacts had heard anything and Jameson's people were all accounted for. With the judge's permission, all of Jameson's people and properties were under constant surveillance. Wire taps had been approved as well since they had every reason to believe Jameson was behind Blair's disappearance.
Unfortunately, Jameson appeared to have taken perfect precautions in setting things up. Jim was beginning to doubt that he'd ever see his friend alive again.
Josiah Sanchez chuckled as he closed the door to Vin's apartment and headed down to the street. Vin Tanner's sense of humor was a bit twisted. The big ATF man stopped in the doorway of the building and looked around before stepping out onto the sidewalk.
Purgatorio was not the best neighborhood and at night it could be down right deadly. Josiah could understand a bit of why Vin chose to live here. Tanner was the champion of the locals, especially the children. He left his apartment unlocked to provide a safe haven for them if needed. Josiah understood Vin's need to protect the innocent.
Fortunately the local criminal element had learned long ago not to mess with the sharpshooter, so they rarely gave Vin trouble. It was the out-of-towners that kept showing up who didn't respect the sanctity of Vin's home.
Josiah yawned and stretched as he strode down the sidewalk to his Suburban. It was getting late and he had to be in to work early the next morning. The case they were working on seemed to be stalled causing no little frustration. Ezra had been undercover for almost three weeks without a single new lead. They'd all left the office this evening determined to start fresh in the morning.
He turned the corner praying that all of his tires were still in place and ran smack into another man. Josiah caught the man by the shoulders to keep him from falling backward.
"Let go!" the man gasped. "Gotta keep moving," he mumbled struggling to get out of Josiah's grasp.
"Take it easy," the ATF profiler soothed as he searched the street behind the smaller man. "I don't see anyone, son. Who's after you?"
The man's long, dark curls shook as he moved his head. "Don't know. Gotta find Jim," he answered softly, sounding confused.
"Here, now," Josiah chided. "Are you injured?" he asked putting one hand under the man's chin to lift his face into view.
Blue eyes with wide irises met Josiah's concerned gaze. Fear changed to recognition and then confusion. "J'siah?" the man slurred, surprise lacing his voice. "What're you doing here?" he asked calmly then collapsed bonelessly into Josiah's arms.
"Blair?" Josiah exclaimed as he caught his friend around the chest and kept him from hitting the ground. "Good Lord, son. What have you gotten yourself into?" He rearranged his grip on the young man until he was able to hoist him onto his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Then Josiah turned and made his way back to Vin's place.
"What do you mean, he got away?" the man yelled into the phone. "He had enough shit in him to keep a race horse down."
The voice at the other end of the line made some whiny excuse.
"God damn it! Do you know what he'll do to us if Ellison testifies? There won't be enough pieces left to identify the bodies!"
More words, this time trying to shift the blame elsewhere then, a tentative question.
"Hell no!" He paused. "As long as Ellison thinks we have him, we should be okay. But you'd better get your men out looking for him, and you'd better find him fast. Once those drugs wear off he's gonna high-tail it to the cops."
"Right," came the sarcastic reply. "I'm sure you are, but I don't think Mr. Jameson is gonna give a rat's ass if you don't find that man."
Nathan Jackson counted the sluggish heartbeats again and sighed as he got the same number. Slow, but not life-threatening. He looked up at his partner. "How long have you known him, Josiah?"
Sanchez's lips twitched into a slight grin. "Since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. His mom and me," Josiah shrugged. "We were together before I left for 'Nam," he finished quietly, not taking his eyes off the young man on Vin's bed.
"He your son?" Vin asked casually.
"What?" Josiah asked startled. "Naw. Naomi told me things just hadn't worked out between her and his father. 'Course I do consider him family. Spent quite a bit of time together over the years." He met Nathan's eyes. "Is he going to be all right?"
Nathan nodded. "I think so. He's got fresh track marks on both arms," he said deciding to rephrase his earlier question. "How well do you know Blair, Josiah?"
Josiah frowned and glared at his partner. "I know what yer thinkin' Nathan, but there is no way Blair did this to himself. The boy never even wanted to try smokin' cigarettes, let alone put any of that other crap in his body."
"Easy, 'siah," Vin murmured. "If'n that's the case, then someone done this to him. They may still be lookin' for the kid."
Nathan nodded his agreement. "Do you know who we should contact for him?"
Josiah wrinkled his forehead in thought. "Last I heard he was going to school up in Washington. Rainier University I think."
Vin straightened from leaning on the wall and strode toward his phone. "We should let Chris know what's goin' on. It's too late to reach anyone in Washington tonight. We can call first thing in the morning."
The next morning
"Ellison," Jim said sharply into his phone, most of his attention on the file he had pulled up on the computer. There had to be a clue in Jameson's file somewhere.
"Jim Ellison?" a gravelly voice asked.
"Yes," he replied shortly. "Can I help you?"
"Do you know a Blair Sandburg?"
"Do you know where he is?" Jim blurted. "Is he all right? Can I speak to him?"
"Whoa," the voice chuckled. "Slow down, brother. Blair's okay, but he's not 'xactly up to talkin' at the moment."
"What do you mean?" Jim just barely refrained from shouting. "If you've hurt him…"
"Hold on, son. Just calm down now. Nobody's gonna hurt Blair if I have anything to say about it. Let me explain."
Jim took a deep breath and exhaled. He looked up into Simon's worried eyes and nodded once to acknowledge his boss's presence. "I'm sorry, he's been missing for over a week now."
A softly spoken 'shit' came through the line. Jim blinked at the empathy in the man's voice.
"I'm sorry, son, I didn't know. My name is Josiah Sanchez. I'm with the ATF, Denver division. I'm also an old friend of Blair's. I got your name through the University. He had you listed as an emergency contact."
"Denver?" Jim repeated. He frowned up at Simon who mouthed 'phone trace?' Jim shook his head and scribbled ATF on a piece of paper. Simon frowned and nodded toward the phone indicating for Jim to find out what the hell was going on.
"Yes," Sanchez replied. "We sort of ran into each other last night. Physically he seems to be unharmed, but there are signs that he's been drugged."
"Shit," Jim cursed softly.
"He appeared somewhat confused last night before he passed out," Sanchez continued. "Our team medic took a look at him and thinks he just needs to sleep it off. May I ask what our young friend is involved in now?"
Jim sighed. "Hold on a minute." He covered the receiver with his hand. "Simon, can you get me a flight to Denver?"
Simon's eyebrows rose. "Sandburg's in Denver? How the hell did he get there?"
Ellison shrugged. "I need to go," he almost pleaded.
Banks nodded. "I'll arrange it and let the judge know. Meanwhile," he said leaning in a bit, "let's keep his location under wraps."
Jim nodded and went back to his phone call. "Agent Sanchez…"
Ezra Standish, currently known as Edmond Styles drew his face into a frustrated frown so as to blend with the other men in the Ranch-style home. There was quite a bit of confusion about how their prisoner had escaped and not just a little blame flying around the room.
Of course, Edmond had no idea how the drugged man could have gotten loose. Ezra on the other hand might, but undoubtedly he would remain silent on the issue.
"Now listen up," the man called Jones ordered angrily. "We've got one chance to set this right. Find Sandburg. Find him and bring him back as quickly as possible. If you don't, our employer will be extremely unhappy and," he swallowed hard, "well, let's just say he doesn't suffer fools kindly." Jones' eyes swept over the other men. "Go on. Move!"
Everyone headed for an exit except Styles. Jones met the man's steady green gaze. "What is it, Styles?"
"I was just contemplating," the Southerner drawled. "How likely is it that we will suffer the consequences of our employer's wrath, even if we do succeed in finding our flighty prisoner?"
Jones sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Let's just say that you may have a viable concern, Eddie. Jameson isn't the most stable man I've ever contracted to work for." He shook his head briefly then gave a nod toward the front of the house. "Go on. We need every eye out for him. He disappeared in Purgatorio last night. I hope for our sakes he made it through the night in that hell hole."
Styles nodded and left without another word. He allowed himself a small, satisfied grin before schooling his features once more. He'd finally gotten a break and discovered the name of the newest threat to his city. Jameson. As Standish climbed into the sporty BMW that was his undercover vehicle, his mind flashed back to the young man he'd helped escape. Hopefully Sandburg had found a safe haven.
Josiah hung up the phone with Ellison.
"Was that Sandburg's friend?" Nathan asked. He stood and moved over to where the larger man was sitting.
"Yes. He's a detective with the Cascade Major Crime unit. Blair was kidnapped about a week ago to keep Ellison from testifying. Seems my young friend has been a ride along with Ellison for the last few years," Josiah relayed with a frown.
Vin and Nate both raised their eyebrows in surprise.
"A civilian ride along?" Vin repeated. "For years? That don't make no sense, Josiah."
"I am just repeating what I was told, Brother," the profiler answered, just as confused as the rest of them. "What I cannot figure out, is why Blair's emergency contact is a cop."
"Is there something wrong with that?" Nathan asked feeling as if they were playing twenty questions. "After all, you're a cop."
Josiah chuckled and shook his head as his eyes rested once again on Blair. "I wasn't a cop when I saw them last. And I haven't exactly told him who my current employers are. If you knew Naomi…" he shook his head again. "She's so anti-establishment, it's not even funny." Sanchez frowned. "Wonder what she thinks of Ellison?" he mumbled mostly under his breath.
"Well," Vin drawled, "if Sandburg's been riding along with the Cascade PD for a while, Ellison is probably a close friend."
"I suppose," Josiah sighed. "I just don't understand why he's observing a police unit. He was working on his doctorate in Anthropology." He shrugged. "I find it hard to believe he changed the focus of his studies."
"Well, we'll just have to wait until he wakes up to ask," Nathan said. "In the mean while, what's the plan? Is Ellison coming?"
Josiah nodded. "He's catching the earliest flight out of Cascade. Should be here sometime mid-afternoon." He caught Nathan's eye. "You two go on in to the office." He ripped the top piece of paper from the notepad by the phone. "If you don't mind," Josiah said handing the paper to Vin, "I told Ellison I'd have someone pick him up at the airport. Here's his flight information. As soon as Blair comes to, I'll bring him to the office."
Jim glanced at his boss and fought back a grin. He shouldn't be surprised that Simon Banks had insisted on going to Denver with him, not after all that the three of them had been through together. Still, it made Jim realize how lucky he was to have such good friends. He never stopped to think that the reverse was also true.
Simon pulled several folders out of his briefcase and handed one to Ellison. "Here. Stop staring and start reading."
"What's this?" Jim asked, the grin finally winning its way to his lips.
"I had Rhonda pull information on the ATF team who has Sandburg," Simon advised. "I wanted to make sure we're not heading into Jameson's trap."
Jim nodded and opened the folder. Team Seven of the Denver ATF had a long list of commendations, awards and reprimands. He read through the files that were not unlike his own.
The team leader, Chris Larabee was an ex-Navy man who had gone into law enforcement. Larabee had put together a team of unique individuals who got the job done. Half of the men had served in the armed forces before joining the police department and then the ATF. Of the others, they'd all started out as cops and one had joined the FBI before landing in Larabee's squad. They had degrees in various sciences and as versified a background as the crew at Major Crimes.
After browsing through the files, Jim felt a little better. He doubted that these men could be bought by a low-life like Jameson. He focused on Sanchez's file, wondering about the man who claimed to be Blair's friend. A man Jim had never heard of before.
Sanchez was the oldest of the seven. He'd served in Vietnam, had degrees in Anthropology and Psychology and was the team's profiler. Jim wondered if he was one of the many 'uncles' Blair had had growing up. He studied Sanchez's photo. Could he trust the man with his friend's life? Jim sighed. He would just have to wait and see.
Blair moaned and rolled onto his side. He felt like the tail end of a weekend bash. Though come to think of it, he hadn't indulged in more than a few beers since he met Jim. He certainly felt like he had a hangover. Blair pried his eyes open, only one made it successfully.
A deep chuckle made Blair start and try to sit up.
"Easy, son. You sit up too fast and you're liable to end up on the floor."
Blair rubbed his eyes and forced them open. A very blurry, but familiar face hovered near. "Josiah?"
"Yes indeed, Blair. Welcome back," Josiah said with a smile. "Would you like something to drink? Nathan said you need to rehydrate. It'll help with the headache."
"Water would be good," Blair said letting his head fall back into the pillow. "Where am I?"
"A friend's apartment," Josiah answered. "What do you remember?" he asked as he helped Blair sit up and handed him the glass of water.
Blair closed his eyes and took a sip before answering. "I'm not sure. Someone was chasing me." He straightened suddenly. "Jim! I've got to call Jim."
"Jim Ellison?" Josiah asked.
"Yeah," Blair replied looking around for a phone.
"He should be landing at the airport in about an hour."
Blair looked at his old friend. "What? How?"
Josiah smiled and touched the glass of water indicating that Blair should drink some more. "Once I knew you were going to be all right we called Rainier's main office and found your emergency contact number." He frowned. "What are you doing riding with a detective?"
Blair suddenly became much more interested in his water as he tried to think of a way to distract Josiah. The older man knew about Blair's obsession with Sentinels and wouldn't believe the line about closed societies.
He finished the glass and held it up. "Could I have some more please?"
Josiah pressed his lips together recognizing the delaying tactic, but nodded and went into the kitchen. "I suppose you have a logical explanation for it all, but that can wait. It's more important to know how you escaped from the men who kidnapped you."
Blair stood and met Josiah in the kitchen. A frown creased his brow. "Kidnapped?"
"That's what Ellison said." He offered the now full glass back to Blair.
"I remember walking to my car. I was heading home. I didn't want to be late 'cause it was my night to cook and Jim gets pretty cranky when he's hungry," Blair said more to himself than to Josiah.
The profiler smiled at Blair's words. Just from his tone it was clear that Jim was a good friend.
"Someone hit me!" Blair said, his surprised eyes meeting Josiah's. "After that everything's pretty foggy. I think someone helped me get away. I can't remember a face, but I'd know his voice if I heard it again."
"That's great, Blair," Josiah encouraged. "I told Ellison I'd bring you to the office once you woke up, but I think there's time for you to shower and change and maybe eat if you're hungry."
Blair nodded. "Yeah, I could eat. But I think I'd like that shower first."
Josiah grinned. "Right through there. Vin said you could borrow some of his clothes. Might be a bit long on you."
"That's all right, 'siah. Clean is all I want right now."
"I'll fix you something to eat while you clean up, then we'll head in."
Blair stopped and looked back at Josiah. "Hey, Josiah?"
"Where am I?"
"A friend's apartment in Denver," Josiah replied.
"Why are we meeting Jim at your office and not the police station?"
Josiah just grinned.
Simon refrained from ordering Agent Wilmington to shut up as he followed the man to their car. Jim just grinned at Simon. Wilmington and Brown would have gotten along just fine. The ATF man had been talking up a storm since he met them at the gate.
"Anyway, Josiah will bring your friend to the office as soon as he's awake," Buck finished saying as he unlocked the car door.
Jim frowned. "Why can't we just go to Blair?"
Buck looked up over the hood to see a pair of very cold, blue eyes glaring at him. Almost as bad as Larabee's glare. He suppressed a shudder. "I'm just chaufferin' you two. You'll hafta ask Chris about the particulars. But I think he's afraid that Jameson's people might recognize you if you go paradin' all over Purgatorio looking for your friend."
"Purgatory?" Banks asked as they all climbed into the vehicle.
"Purgatorio. It's a nickname for one of Denver's 'nicer' neighborhoods," Wilmington said with a grin, his tone clearly indicating that it was not a nice neighborhood. "Our sharpshooter has an apartment there. That's where Josiah ran into your friend. Vin's been in touch with a few contacts in his neighborhood and it seems someone's mighty anxious to find your Mr. Sandburg."
Ezra sighed as he drove slowly through Purgatorio. He'd hoped to drop a note by Vin's to let the team know what he'd discovered. Unfortunately one of Jones' goons had attached himself to Ezra like a leech.
The man, George Demmot, evidently hoped to prove himself to the new crime boss. His beady little eyes scoured the street as if he truly expected Sandburg to be standing out in plain view.
Ezra sighed again. Demmot's boorish manner was reflected in his poor taste of clothing and a tendency to ramble on about things that Standish could care less about. The Southerner prayed for this job to end quickly. Yesterday would not have been soon enough.
"Stop!" Demmot ordered. "That's him. Who's he with?" he asked as he scooted down in the seat to avoid being seen.
Ezra adjusted his rear view mirror. SHIT! It was Sandburg and Josiah. How the hell?
Demmot pulled out his cell phone and dialed.
"What are you doing?" Ezra demanded a bit too quickly.
"Calling for backup," Demmot hissed. "We need to follow them and grab Sandburg."
Standish pulled back his hand that had automatically lashed out to end the call. He couldn't afford to break his cover just yet. There was still a possibility that their backup would not arrive in time.
Demmot spoke into the phone. "It's Demmot. I found him."
Ezra snorted softly, but the other man ignored him.
"No. There's someone with Sandburg, but Styles is here. We can handle it. What do you want us to do with Sandburg's friend?" Demmot grinned at the reply. "Right. We'll be back soon."
Ezra pulled his emotions tightly under control. "What are our orders?" he asked casually.
"Kill the big guy and bring Sandburg back without too much damage," Demmot sneered.
The undercover agent nodded. "You get Sandburg. I'll take care of his friend."
Demmot frowned, but didn't argue as he opened the door to the car.
Ezra and Demmot hurried across the street as Josiah and Blair reached the Suburban. Ezra drew his weapon and pushed it into Josiah's back as he moved in close to the bigger man. "Not so fast, Cowboy," Ezra drawled, hoping Josiah would play along.
The Southerner lifted his gun as if to slam it into the back of Josiah's head, but at the last moment pulled his punch and the gun only tapped the profiler gently. Josiah grunted and fell to his knees.
"Josiah!" Blair shouted as he struggled with his captor earning himself a punch to the jaw.
Ezra held his arm down as if to aim at the downed man, but twisted his wrist so the muzzle of his weapon pointed harmlessly into the street before he fired.
"NO!" Blair screamed.
"Shut him up," Ezra commanded coldly.
Demmot grinned and cold-cocked his prisoner. He caught Blair before he hit the ground and looked up at Styles. "Help me get him to the car. He's heavy."
Ezra lifted one eyebrow. "I thought you found him. You get him to the car," he mocked. He leaned down briefly to Josiah and whispered, "Jameson. 1532 Harcort Lane," then straightened and strolled back to the BMW.
Josiah waited until he was sure Ezra had driven off then rose slowly to his knees. He stood and pulled out his cell phone as he climbed into his Suburban.
"It's Josiah. Let me speak to Chris."
ATF Team 7's office
Agent Wilmington introduced Jim and Simon to the rest of Team 7 and they all went into the conference room to discuss the situation.
"Why do you think your man ended up in Denver?" Larabee asked.
Simon shrugged. "We really don't know. Jameson doesn't have any business in Colorado that we know of," he clarified.
"We've been hearing rumors of a new power trying to move into the area," Larabee said. "So far we don't have a name to associate with the rumors though. Whoever it is is keeping a tight lid on things."
"Jameson's pretty smart," Jim added. "If Blair hadn't escaped, we still wouldn't know where they took him."
Larabee checked his watch. "Josiah's place isn't far. They should arrive soon."
The phone rang and JD picked it up. "Okay, Josiah," he frowned then handed the phone to Chris.
"Larabee," Chris answered.
Jim focused on the voice on the other end of the phone line.
"Chris, I have some bad news and some good news," Josiah said cryptically.
"Go on," Chris replied neutrally.
"I ran into Ezra. It seems we are on the Jameson case as well," Josiah said.
"I assume that's the good news," Chris sighed.
"Part of it," Josiah agreed. "They grabbed Blair…"
Jim's eyes widened. He lunged across the table and grabbed the phone from Larabee. "What the hell happened? You were supposed to protect him!"
"Ellison?" Josiah asked with surprise.
"Was he hurt? Where did they take him?" Jim continued angrily as he paced the few steps back and forth that the phone cord would allow.
"Are we on speaker phone?" Josiah asked calmly.
"What?" Jim sputtered. "No. What does that have to do with anything?"
"Well," Josiah replied, "I guess that explains why Blair's been riding along with a cop for the last few years. Give the phone back to Chris, Sentinel. We're wasting time."
Jim stopped pacing and stared at the phone for a second his mouth open in surprise. He flicked a glance around the room then handed the phone back to Larabee. "Sorry," he mumbled as he moved back to his seat.
"Josiah?" Chris said into the phone. "What…"
"Chris, Ezra gave me a location. 1532 Hartcort Lane. I'm on my way there now. I suspect that's where they're taking Blair," Josiah informed his boss.
"Okay," Larabee replied. "We'll meet you one block north. Call me on my cell in a few so we can get the rest of the story."
"Right," Josiah said then disconnected the call.
Ezra waited for Demmot to drag Sandburg out of the car then reached into his glove box. He pulled out his special 9mm and an envelope. He put the 9mm in his shoulder holster and tucked his regular weapon into the waist of his pants at the small of his back. His jacket hid the weapon nicely. Ezra opened the envelope and tipped it allowing a small black object to fall into his hand. He slipped the item into his jacket pocket and got out of the car.
"I certainly hope Mr. Dunne has his ears on," he muttered softly as he made his way up the sidewalk to 1532 Harcort Lane.
Inside the house Ezra found Jones and Demmot tying a very angry Sandburg to a chair.
"How did you get loose?" Jones demanded. "Who helped you?"
"I wouldn't tell you even if I knew!" Blair spat back. His dark blue eyes landed on Ezra as the agent came through the door. "You didn't have to shoot Josiah!" he shouted lunging up out of the chair, anguish clear in his voice.
"I assure you," Ezra drawled as Demmot shoved Blair back down, "your friend is in a much safer place."
Blair froze and his eyes widened as he recognized the voice of the man who had helped him escape before. He quickly covered his confusion by continuing to struggle with the men holding him down.
"Sit still," Demmot ordered, "or I'll knock you out again."
They finally got Sandburg sufficiently bound and gagged then Jones turned to Styles. "What happened?"
Ezra cocked his head. "Demmot saw Sandburg getting into a car with another man as we drove through Purgatorio. I dispatched his friend while Demmot took care of Sandburg." He shrugged as if thoroughly bored with the whole thing.
Jones nodded. "Good job, you two. Jameson will be pleased." He looked back at Sandburg. "I just hope we can be done with this soon."
"I whole-heartedly agree with that sentiment," Ezra sighed.
The rest of Team 7, along with Jim and Simon, all piled into the ATF surveillance van and sped off toward Harcort Lane. Chris' phone rang not a minute later.
"Josiah?" Chris answered.
"Yes. Evidently the crime lord Ezra has been trying to get a bead on these last three weeks is Jameson. Our brother must have been the one to free Blair the other night. Ezra and another man ambushed us this morning. Ezra pretended to knock me out and shoot me while the other man captured Blair. Before he left, Ez gave me Jameson's name and the address we are heading to now," Josiah reported.
"Ez look okay?" Chris asked.
"I didn't really see him, Chris," Josiah admitted. "He came at me from behind and then I was down playing dead."
"I think he got knocked out, but they still need him alive," Josiah answered as if trying to reassure himself.
"Okay. JD's checking out Ezra's bug to see if he was able to take it in with him," Chris advised. "We're on Chestnut, wait for us at the corner of Chestnut and Fenton. We'll see you in a few."
Chris ended the call and turned to JD who was working steadily at the computer console in the van.
JD nodded without looking at his boss. "I'm getting a faint signal, but we're still too far away to hear anything. That transmitter is only for close range work. Ez wanted one on hand for the times he couldn't go in wired but might be able to sneak the bug in later."
"Keep your ears open, JD and let us know the minute you're receiving," Chris advised.
JD just nodded and continued to work hoping to improve the reception.
"Just what is the distance on that bug?" Simon asked.
"Less than a mile," Larabee admitted. "It's very sensitive, but doesn't get much range."
"How far are we from the house?" Jim asked shooting a look at Simon.
Buck checked the cross street as he drove. "A little over five miles," he supplied.
Simon met Jim's gaze, but the Sentinel only gave a slight shrug. If they were in Cascade he might be able to locate Blair with his hearing, if the kid was talking, but in a strange town it was unlikely Jim could do much better than the bug the undercover agent wore.
The van was silent as they neared the location and Jim took the opportunity to carefully open his hearing up a bit. Simon saw his head tilt in what Sandburg called Jim's 'listening pose,' and kept his attention focused on Jim to stave off a zone out.
They reached the crossroad and Buck pulled the van into the parking lot of a small shopping center. He parked next to an old, beat up Suburban just as the transmitter stuttered to life.
"How much longer will we need to keep Mr. Sandburg under wraps?" a familiar Southern drawl asked.
"Until the trial is over," another voice replied.
"Then? Then we get paid and go home."
A brief silence reigned before Ezra spoke again. "And our guest? He's seen all of our faces."
"Yeah. Shame about that," the other man replied casually.
Jim stood abruptly and exited the van. Simon was right on his heels. They walked a bit before Simon caught up to him.
"Jim," Simon cautioned placing a hand on the other man's shoulder and pulling him to a stop.
"I know," Jim sighed. "It's just hard to hear that creep say he's going to kill Blair regardless of whether I follow Jameson's rules or not."
Simon took a deep breath and nodded. He glanced back at the truck then turned to Jim and whispered, "Can you pick him up now?"
Ellison took a deep breath of his own and closed his eyes. He used Simon's touch to keep him grounded as he sent his hearing out to find the voice of his friend, or at least one of the voices he'd heard talking about Blair's demise.
After a few minutes, Jim grinned and looked at Simon. "Got him. I didn't hear his voice, but I found him."
Simon frowned. "If you didn't hear his voice, what did you hear?"
Jim's eyes widened briefly as he realized he'd let something slip. Something he hadn't actually wanted to admit. But now, staring into his captain's demanding eyes and seeing the concern that Simon had for Blair, Jim didn't feel up to the verbal tap dance it would take to redirect Simon's curiosity.
"I homed in on the voices we heard from the transmitter and filtered out what I could identify as 'not Blair,' then listened for his heartbeat," Jim admitted softly.
"You can identify Blair by his heartbeat?" Simon asked disbelievingly.
"Well," Jim explained, "it's not just that, but in combination with some other sounds that I associate with Blair, yeah, I know it's him."
Simon's eyes narrowed. "A bit more information, Ellison," he demanded. "Although, I probably don't want to know," he added with a sarcastic grin.
Jim gave him a half-hearted grin in return. He paused for a second then continued, "It's not something I've taken the time to examine." Jim sighed and tried to break down the sounds he knew belonged to Blair. "There's the sound of his hair brushing his shirt…
And you know that amulet he wears all the time? Well, it jingles a bit."
"Excuse me?" Simon interrupted. "It's a piece of metal on a leather strap. What's there to jingle?"
Jim rolled his eyes. "The clasp gets caught in his hair and when he moves it… 'jingles.'"
Simon sighed, but nodded. "Okay, okay. Anything else?"
Jim frowned. "Probably, but nothing I can pinpoint." He shrugged. "I just know, Simon," he said, frustrated.
"All right," Simon placated, patting Jim on the shoulder. "Let's go see what our ATF friends have planned."
Meanwhile, in the surveillance van
Josiah cast a quick glance at the Cascade officers as they stalked off, then he climbed into the back of the van. "Something wrong?" he asked taking a seat beside Chris.
"We picked up transmission from Ezra's bug," Nathan answered. "They were discussing what would happen to Sandburg after Jameson's trial." His tone told Josiah what that conversation had entailed.
"So what's the plan, Chris?" Josiah asked. "Do we have enough between what Ezra's found out and that little snippet to pin Blair's kidnapping on Jameson?"
Larabee shrugged. "They haven't used his name yet. If we can wait it out a little while, I'm sure Ez will work the conversation around to Jameson and then cue us in."
"Ellison's not gonna like that," Vin supplied.
"Maybe not," Chris said, "but he'll understand. As long as Sandburg is safe. Vin, I want you to find a good spot to put that rifle of yours to use. The rest of us will spread out around the house and wait for Ezra's signal."
Buck pulled a locker from beneath the bench seat and started to hand out their bullet proof vests. JD opened a small panel near the computer and issued the com units.
"What about Ellison and Banks?" Nathan asked as he secured his com unit.
"Them too," Chris replied with a nod toward the jackets. "I doubt we could keep them out of the action. Get into position and report in, then keep it quiet unless you see something relevant. No chatter, boys."
They all nodded in agreement and exited the van. Chris paused before closing the doors and JD gave him a little salute.
"You'll know as soon as Ez gives the signal, Chris," JD assured his leader.
Larabee nodded and shut the door. He turned to see Ellison and Banks making their way back toward the van. He motioned toward the vests Buck and Nathan held. "We've got a couple extra vests and coms for you."
Banks nodded and took the vest from Buck. "Thanks," he said as he slipped the vest on.
Jim accepted the vest Nathan handed him but kept his eyes on Larabee as he put it on. "What's the plan?"
Larabee's hazel eyes met Ellison's steel blue. "We wait for Ezra to bring us in." He saw the defiance in the detective's eyes. The blue smoldered angrily then cooled a bit to acceptance. Chris nodded. "We'll go in at the first sign of trouble," he promised.
Ellison nodded and slipped his com unit over his ear.
Chris laid out the plan. "Vin's gonna cover the east side garage from a nearby rooftop. Josiah and Nate will take the front door. You and Banks take the back. Buck and I will be on the west side. When JD gives the word we move in. Keep radio chatter to need-to-know, okay?" he asked as he waited to see if the Cascade officers had any objections or suggestions.
"Fine," Banks replied. "Come on, Jim," he said. They took off down the street then cut through one of the nearby yards.
"Let's move, ladies," Larabee commanded. He met Vin's eyes then watched the sharpshooter for a second as he jogged off, then Chris motioned for Buck to follow him to their side of the house.
"May the Lord protect us all," Josiah prayed softly as he and Nathan broke off from the group as well.
Inside the house
Ezra was beginning to wonder if he would be able to get Jones to mention Jameson again. He was also just a bit concerned about the location of his team mates. Had they managed to get into place? Were they actually receiving transmission from the bug he carried?
He made his way to the room where Sandburg was being kept. Now that the pizza he'd ordered had arrived, perhaps he could convince the guard to take a break while he watched the prisoner. Ezra hadn't seen any signs of high tech surveillance inside the house, so hopefully the young man could provide him with some answers without fear of being overheard.
The agent knocked on the door and smiled when it opened. "The boys ordered pizza. I'll watch him while you get some," Eddie offered. The guard grinned his thanks and let Ezra in. Ez held up a cautioning hand to Sandburg as he pushed the door almost all the way closed then watched to make sure the guard had gone. He closed the door and moved over to Sandburg and gently removed his gag.
"Who are you?" Blair asked in a hushed voice as soon as the gag came off.
"A friend," Ez started.
"Is Josiah okay? You didn't really shoot him?"
Ezra shook his head. "Hopefully, at this moment he is with our colleagues attempting to extricate us from our current predicament."
Blair blinked then grinned at the Southerner's words. The grin faded to a frown. "Just what do you and Josiah do?"
It was Ezra's turn to blink in surprise. "We are ATF agents," he replied. "Now what happened while you were free of this abode?"
Sandburg sighed. "I don't remember much at first. I ran and kept running until I literally ran into Josiah. When I woke up he told me that he'd contacted my partner and that Jim was on his way here."
"Partner?" Standish asked. "I had not realized you were a police officer."
"Oh, ah, well I'm not," Blair stammered. "I'm sort of a consultant to the department."
Ezra nodded thoughtfully then made a decision. "Mr. Sandburg, I believe our friends are outside just waiting for me to give the signal to move in, but first I must get Mr. Jones to admit to his connection with your Mr. Jameson on tape."
"How can we do that?" Blair asked.
The agent grinned. "With a little smoke and mirrors, my dear man. Want to play?"
Blair grinned back.
"Chris," JD warned, "Ez has a plan." The computer expert filled the others in.
Both Larabee and Banks sighed. Chris because he knew Ez, and Simon because he had easily recognized the quality of people Larabee surrounded himself with and Banks had no doubt that Standish's plan would be… interesting.
When the guard came back, Eddie Styles looked rather upset. "Get Jones in here now!" Styles ordered, his intense green eyes causing the guard to flee the room.
Ezra shared a quick grin with Blair then gathered a handful of the younger man's hair into his fist as gently as he could.
Jones pushed the door open and strode into the room, his eyes blazing at the summons he'd received. "What's going on here, Eddie?"
"Tell him!" Styles demanded giving Blair's head a slight shake.
"Go to hell!" Blair replied. Styles growled and shook his fist again.
"Styles!" Jones said. "Tell me."
"Mr. Sandburg and I were just having a little talk to pass the time," Eddie said. "Imagine my surprise when I found out he'd managed to get in touch with his pal Ellison."
"WHAT?" Jones yelled. He closed in on Blair and Ezra. "Damn. Does Ellison know where he is?"
"As far as I know," Eddie answered, "only where he was this morning. I do not believe that Mr. Sandburg was coherent enough to recognize this address when he escaped."
Jones tilted his head in a motion for Eddie to join him. Ezra scowled one last time at Sandburg, released his hold on the other man's hair and went over to Jones.
"We're moving," Jones said once Eddie was close. "Until Ellison testifies," Ezra held his breath as Jones continued, "we're still obligated to keep Sandburg."
Ez exhaled softly in disappointment. Until Jones mentioned Jameson by name, the charade had to continue. "Very well," he replied. "I assume you have another locale in mind."
Jones nodded. "I made arrangements, just in case." He sent a disgusted look at Sandburg. "I'm not sure why Jameson's so insistent that Sandburg stays alive until the verdict is in," he shook his head. "The orders are the same either way. It'd be much easier to just kill him now."
Ezra nodded in agreement. Repressing his urge to cheer, he instead calmly gave the cue for the others to make their move. "To paraphrase, 'Ours not to reason why…'"
Jones snorted and shook his head. "I don't think that's funny or appropriate, Eddie."
Ezra grinned thinking it was entirely appropriate and followed the mercenary out of the room.
Outside the house
"We got it," JD advised from the van. "They're planning on moving to another location. Ez gave the go to move in."
"Are they leaving now?" Chris asked.
"Sounds like it," JD replied.
"All right," Chris said. "According to the information Ezra shared with Sandburg there are six of them. Banks and Ellison, wait for our signal and go in the back. The rest of us will cover the front when they come out."
"Roger," Simon replied.
Chris, Buck, Josiah and Nathan started to make their way closer to the front door as Jim and Simon approached the back.
Jim turned off his com and touched Simon's arm to get his attention. "There are two heartbeats toward the back of the house. One is Sandburg. The others are all heading for the front of the house."
They crouched down by the back door and Jim checked out the lock.
"Can you open it?" Simon asked.
Jim nodded and got to work.
The mercenaries moved in and out of the house loading supplies into their vehicles. On the roof across the street, Vin watched his team get closer to the action and kept an eye on all the bad guys. He only seen three of them outside, the other three must have been busy in the house.
A flutter of cloth at one of the windows caught the sharpshooter's eye. He aimed his rifle at the movement and saw a fourth man looking out across the yard. Suddenly the man's eyes widened and he frowned before dropping the curtain.
"Guys," Vin advised quietly, "we may have been made."
"I'm on it," JD replied, fiddling with controls that were already in perfect sync to make sure he picked up everything going on inside.
Jim heard the warning as he finished unlocking the back door. He focused his hearing inside the house advising Simon as he listened. "There's one man still guarding Blair. Their undercover is talking to someone named Jones and another man who saw someone 'sneaking around' out front," Jim grimaced.
Simon met Jim's gaze and nodded toward the door. "Can we go now?" he asked Sentinel soft.
Ellison nodded and eased the back door open. They moved into a small entryway, it opened up into the kitchen on the left and straight ahead through another door they could see down the hallway that went straight to the front door. Just before they made it to the hall, Jim pulled Simon to the side and put a finger to his lips.
Voices and footsteps came toward them then faded away.
Jim peeked out the door and saw two men enter a room at the end of the hall. The same room Blair was in.
Ezra followed Jones to the bedroom where Sandburg was being kept. Jones had sent the rest of the men away then mumbled something about taking care of their prisoner. The agent feared that his backup was not going to show. He'd have to take measures to ensure that he and Sandburg survived this debacle.
They had no sooner entered the room than the sound of gun fire spattered outside the house.
Jones cursed and drew his gun.
Ezra stepped forward pulling his own weapon. "Allow me," he drawled.
Jones shrugged. "Go for it."
Ezra turned to face Sandburg. He shrugged one shoulder and raised an eyebrow at the other man. "Sorry, kid," he drawled as he pulled the trigger.
Blair's eyes widened in surprise as the man that he'd thought was a friend aimed a gun at him. The gunshot sounded unreal then Blair felt something hit him in the chest. He glanced down lifting his hands at the same time. He shot me. Sandburg took a step back in disbelief as the red stain spread slowly across the front of his shirt. He met Ezra's intense green eyes for a split second then his own eyes rolled up and Blair crumpled to the floor.
Everything seemed to happen at once. Jim and Simon followed the two men down the hall. Just as the door closed behind the kidnappers, the sound of gun shots could be heard coming from outside.
Jim listened in on the conversation in the room, hoping for a distraction that would allow him and Simon to act.
"Allow me," the ATF agent drawled.
"Go for it."
A slight rustle of clothing then the Southerner's voice again. "Sorry, kid."
Jim heard the slide of a gun being pulled and grabbed for the door handle.
"Jim?" Simon demanded as he readied his weapon and prepared for battle.
The Sentinel couldn't answer. His sole focus was on the sound of the gun going off and the odd squelch of something hitting flesh. His mind supplied the scent of his Guide's blood from memories of the all too frequent times he'd smelled Blair's blood. He roared his denial and charged through the door.
To say he was surprised would put it mildly. Ezra was stunned. He'd watched with relief as Sandburg realized the hoax and fell to the floor. The door opened behind Standish, but he barely had time to turn before he felt someone slam into him and propel him across the room. The wall brought their movement to a sudden and brutal stop that left Ezra gasping for breath.
When the stars stopped obscuring his vision, Ezra was able to take stock of the situation. A rather large black man held a gun on Jones and Demmot. Another very large white man had Ezra pinned to the wall. Okay, so he probably wasn't any bigger than Buck, but he certainly seemed gargantuan at the moment.
"Sir…" Ezra started to say, only to gag as the man pushed his forearm harder into Ezra's throat and then actually growled. The hard blue eyes seemed capable of piercing straight through to Ezra's soul and he was never so glad to hear his boss' voice.
"Put my man down, Ellison!" Larabee ordered as he stormed into the room followed closely by Wilmington.
"Jim!" the big black man shouted. "Let him go, Sandburg's fine."
Some semblance of sanity returned to the blue eyes only inches from Standish's face. "Blair?" the man whispered.
"I'm okay, Jim," Sandburg said coming into Ezra's view at last. "It was a blood pellet. I'm fine, let Agent Standish go."
Ellison let go of Ezra's jacket and the Southerner landed on his feet, though his legs had other ideas and he felt himself sag to the floor. He vaguely noted Buck's hand on his shoulder as Ez rubbed at his throat.
He watched as Ellison hurried to his partner and proceeded to do an inventory that would have put Nathan to shame. Buck's chuckle caught his attention. "What is it that you find so humorous?" Ezra demanded.
"I was just thinking that Ellison could teach Nate a thing or two about being a mother hen."
Ezra looked back that the two men from Cascade and offered a weak chuckle in reply. "Quite so," he agreed.
Jim stuck close to his partner. They went to the hospital for a check up and surprisingly enough the ER doctor did not argue when Jim insisted on staying with Blair.
Out in the waiting room Simon's eyebrows rose in disbelief. They still had trouble with the staff at Cascade General whenever one of the Dynamic Duo was injured. He turned questioning eyes on Larabee and the other members of Team 7.
They just chuckled.
At Simon's bewildered look, Nathan took pity and explained. "They're so used to one or all of us insisting on being with a wounded team mate that I suppose they expect it from all law enforcement types now."
Simon snorted and turned back to wait for word on Blair. Wonder if I can get these doctors to talk to our doctors?
"Really, Jim," Blair said as the intern checked him out. "Hey! That's cold," Blair complained.
"Sorry," the intern said removing the stethoscope and warming it briefly in his hand.
Sandburg continued to talk. "You owe Ezra an apology. He was only trying to protect me. We didn't know if you guys were really out there or not. Of course, I wish I'd known he had that stunt gun on him," he waved his hands and almost hit the intern, "sorry. But, I suppose my reaction was more real since I wasn't expecting it." He met Jim's eyes with a bright grin. "He's really a great undercover agent, don'cha think? I even doubted him. I mean, first…"
Jim put his hand over Blair's mouth. "Breathe, Sandburg." He shook his head and sighed, a small smile playing on his lips. "I'll apologize to Standish for going all caveman on him and even thank him for trying to help you and keep you safe."
Blair blinked then grinned. "Gee, Jim. Maybe I should get kidnapped more often. I love seeing your soft, fuzzy side."
Jim tapped his friend on the side of the head. "Watch it, Marshmallow Man," he threatened playfully before addressing the intern. "Everything okay?"
The young doctor smiled and nodded. "A few bruises and I'll want to see what the blood work shows, but as far as your physical exam goes," he told Blair, "you seem fine. Any pain or other symptoms?"
"No," Blair replied. "Can I go now?"
Jim and the intern chuckled.
"Yes," the doctor said. "Just leave a number where we can reach you with the blood test results and be sure to come back if you have any problems."
"Okay," Blair assured as he started to pull on his stained shirt.
"Hey, Darwin," Jim interrupted grabbing Blair's shirt and offering a clean one. "Try this instead." He turned back to the doctor. "I'll keep an eye on him. Thank you."
The intern nodded and left the exam room.
"Thanks, Jim," Blair said as he pulled the sweater on over his head. "Where'd you get it?" he asked running his hands over the soft fabric.
"Standish thought you might need a change of clothes," Jim said. "I told him any old t-shirt would do. He got the strangest look in his eye and his team mates just broke down laughing," Jim finished, still not sure what the joke had been.
Blair hopped off the exam table and together they walked out into the hall. A large hand grabbed Blair by the arm and he found himself engulfed in a hug.
"J'siah!" Blair squeaked. "can't breathe!"
The vise grip eased on his ribs a bit, but Josiah held on for just a few seconds longer as Blair returned the hug. The ATF profiler backed away, but kept his hands on the younger man's shoulders.
"Are you all right, son?" he asked, his voice husky with concern.
Blair blinked back the moisture in his eyes and swallowed hard before pasting a reassuring smile on his face. "Sure, J'siah. I'm okay. Really."
Sanchez nodded and touched Blair's cheek briefly before letting go. "Good," he said then cleared his throat. "Good, because Naomi would never let me hear the end of it if you got hurt under my watch."
Jim frowned. This was the first time he'd really had time to meet Sanchez. And Blair's reaction to the man was odd. He offered his hand to Blair's old friend. "Jim Ellison," he said by way of introduction. "Sorry, I didn't introduce myself earlier."
Josiah smiled and shook the detective's hand. "That's all right. I was a bit worried about Blair myself."
Jim smiled to cover up his reaction to Sanchez's touch. Very odd. But at that moment Larabee interrupted.
"Banks, I'd like to get things wrapped up here. Do you think your people are up to giving statements?" Chris asked eyeing Ellison. He didn't like the way the detective was watching Josiah.
Simon took a quick head count and nodded. "Sure. But after that I think we could all do with a hot meal, a hot shower and a bed."
Tired chuckles of agreement filled the area.
"Well," Vin drawled, "what say we head back to the office, get the paperwork out of the way and then go to Inez's for dinner? I'm sure we can figure out a place for you to bunk for the night."
"They can stay with us," JD offered ignoring Buck's elbow to the ribs.
"Really," Ezra said. "I don't see any reason to subject our brothers in blue to the CDC. There's a perfectly good hotel just a few blocks from The Saloon."
The relief on Jim and Simon's faces was priceless and not missed by the others.
"What's wrong with our place?" Buck protested.
Ezra rolled his eyes.
"Ez didn't nickname it the Center for Disease Control for no reason," Nathan quipped.
"That's not fair!" JD countered. "That was one weekend and we hadn't been home all week except to sleep."
"That still doesn't excuse the pizza in the fridge," Vin teased, "I know that was from the game two weeks before hand." He shivered with mock horror. "I thought it was goin' ta crawl right outta the box."
Simon snorted and shared a glance with Jim. The Sentinel just smiled as they all walked toward the exit. He watched as Blair and Josiah pulled ahead of the others. Jim stretched his hearing a bit and caught the sound of his partner's voice.
"So, the ATF, Josiah?" Blair teased.
The big profiler dropped his arm around Blair's shoulders and chuckled then in a low voice said, "I see you found a Sentinel."
Only Josiah's arm around his shoulders kept Blair from stopping dead in his tracks. He craned his head back to send a frantic look at Jim.
The Sentinel shrugged then gave his poor Guide a reassuring smile. Josiah had figured it out by himself and evidently had kept it quiet. Blair smiled somewhat sheepishly in reply then turned back to Josiah and started to talk, softly but quite animatedly. Jim shook his head and grinned.
"What's that all about?" Simon asked having caught the by-play.
"Sanchez knows," Jim replied softly.
Simon did stop but quickly caught up to Jim. "About… you know?" he asked.
Jim grinned at Simon's theatrics. "Yeah."
"What are you going to do about it?"
"What can I do?" Jim asked concentrating on the pair ahead. Something about Josiah kept catching his attention. If only he could pin it down.
They went to the ATF offices and started the paperwork but soon realized everyone was too tired to get much done. The group called it a day and after a big dinner and a few drinks at The Saloon, Josiah drove the Cascade group to the hotel. He left with a promise to pick them up in the morning after breakfast.
Jim settled into his bed and cast his senses out one last time. Simon was in the room next to them already snoring away. Blair was tossing and turning. He flipped his pillow then punched it and flipped it again before finally settling down with a sigh and a soft 'nite, Jim.' Jim smiled and closed his eyes.
A few minutes later they popped open and Jim sat up. He stared at his friend sleeping deeply across the room. Does Blair know? Does Josiah? And how the hell am I supposed to find out?
The next morning
ATF headquarters, Denver
Jim spent the morning covertly watching the interactions between Blair and Josiah Sanchez. He'd come to the conclusion that Josiah didn't have a clue, but Blair knew everything. Just before they were planning to break for lunch, Jim cornered Blair in the small break room down the hall.
"Hey, Jim," Blair said cheerfully. His most recent kidnapping seemingly forgotten.
Jim regarded his partner for a long moment. "Something you want to share, Sandburg?"
Blair blinked. "About what?"
"You and Josiah."
"Uh," Blair stammered. "What do you mean, Jim?"
"You told me you didn't know who your father was, but you do. You've known all along that he's your father. Why didn't you say anything?" Jim asked in disbelief.
Blair took a deep breath as he nodded slowly. "I don't think I ever said I didn't know who my father was, that there were a lot of candidates, yeah." Blair shrugged sadly. "It's not that I didn't want him to know, to actually be able to claim the relationship… But, well, it was complicated."
Jim huffed. "Yeah, I bet."
"Come on, Jim. You know Naomi. By the time she knew she was pregnant Josiah was overseas. They kept in contact as much as possible by mail, but she decided to wait until he was home to let him know about me. She didn't want to pressure him into anything he didn't want. Marriage or fatherhood," Blair explained.
"She was going to meet with him when his tour of duty was up and tell him then, but he disappeared when he got Stateside. Josiah had some post traumatic stress and when Naomi finally tracked him down," Blair shrugged, "Well, she said it was better for us to be friends than to force him to be responsible for a family. Josiah needed to take care of himself first for a while."
Jim frowned but nodded. He could see Naomi making that decision without discussing with Josiah how he felt.
"Anyway, one year led to another. We'd cross paths with Josiah every few years. He was making his way through the same communes, doing a bit of soul searching himself. I kept waiting for Naomi to tell me it was time to tell him, but she never did." He lifted one shoulder in dismissal, but Jim could see the old pain in his eyes. "When I was younger I figured she was just using his time overseas as an excuse to hide the fact that he really didn't want to be my father. Of course later I realized that he just didn't know and I was kind of embarrassed to bring it up."
"So," Jim drawled, "You gonna tell him now?"
Out in the hallway, Ezra waited for the answer. He hadn't intended to eavesdrop, but the content of their discussion had floored the Southerner.
"I don't know, Jim," Blair said hesitantly. "It's been so long."
Standish's eyes flashed as he strode into the break room. "You must tell Josiah, Mr. Sandburg."
"What?" Blair exclaimed, surprised by the undercover man's abrupt entrance.
"I overheard your discussion with Detective Ellison," he sighed. "You must tell Josiah that you are his son."
Blair shook his head uncertainly. "I don't know, Ezra. I don't want to hurt him. Maybe it's better…"
"Better for him not to know he sired you?" Ezra demanded. "How can you say that? He deserves to know."
Jim watched the two carefully. He still didn't trust the Southerner completely, but agreed with him. Blair needed to get to know his father and for that, his father needed to know the truth.
"What if he doesn't…" Blair stammered lowering his gaze to the floor.
Ezra sighed. "Believe me, Blair. Josiah may be upset by the deception, but he will truly rejoice when he discovers you are his son."
Blair met Standish's sincere gaze for a long moment then nodded. "Could you? Do you think you could ask him to come…" Blair stammered, at a loss for words.
"Of course," Standish replied. He left the room as quickly as he'd entered.
"Do you want me to stay?" Jim asked softly.
Blair stared at the floor as he shook his head, his long hair hiding his face. He looked up and gave Jim a quick smile. "No. Thanks, but it'll be fine."
"Okay. But just say the word and I'm here, buddy," Jim offered. He stepped out into the hall and went to find Simon.
Josiah strode out into the hall and almost ran into Ellison. The detective opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something then shook his head and proceeded through the door to Team 7's offices. Josiah pushed the meeting to the back of his mind and went to see Blair. Ezra's cryptic message had the profiler worried.
What could possibly be going on to cause the suave undercover agent to be so concerned? Josiah hoped that Ellison and Ezra had not gotten into an argument. From what Blair had told him, the Sentinel could be quite protective of his Guide.
Josiah entered the break room and closed the door. "Blair?"
The younger man looked up and Josiah saw apprehension, fear and hope flash across the expressive face.
"What's wrong, son?" he asked.
Blair smiled briefly then sighed. "Nothing's wrong, exactly. Just… Well, there's something I need to tell you. Should have told you a long time ago, but I…" Blair stumbled to a halt unable to meet Josiah's eyes.
Josiah sat at the table across from Blair and placed his folded hands on the surface. "Blair, you're like a son to me. I hope you know you can tell me anything."
"Not just 'like' a son, Josiah," Blair replied softly daring to bring hopeful blue eyes up to meet Josiah's. "I'm sorry, Josiah. Naomi or I should have told you a long time ago, let you decide what you wanted to do." He ducked his head, unable to bear the possibility that Josiah wouldn't want to be his father.
"I don't understand, Blair," Josiah said breathlessly. "Naomi told me… I… You're my son?" Blair nodded, still not looking up. "Why? Lord, Blair, why?"
"At first, she didn't want to pressure you into a family you might not want," Blair replied quietly as he studied the monochromatic table top. "She found out she was pregnant right after you shipped off to 'Nam and didn't think you needed to be worried about anything but staying alive."
Josiah stared at his son, listening and trying oh so hard not to judge. My son.
"When you came home, Naomi said you were different, troubled by what you'd seen, and again," Blair shrugged, "she didn't think it was fair to force you into being a father. She thought you needed time to find yourself again."
"But all those times we saw each other…" Josiah whispered, his heart breaking at the thought of the time he'd missed.
"I know," Blair choked out, "I kept asking her if it was time to tell you. As I got older… I… I couldn't blame Naomi," he beseeched, finally looking up again. "She loves me, she was trying to protect me, and you. But I began to wonder why. For a long time I thought that maybe you did know about me and just didn't want a son," Blair admitted painfully.
"Never," Josiah growled. "Never think that, Blair. If I had known… Good Lord. If I had only known," he trailed off then captured Blair's hand in his forcing him to meet his gaze. "Do you want to be my son?"
"Of course," Blair blurted. "Always. I hated not being able to tell you and let everyone know who my dad was."
Josiah smiled broadly. "Well, why don't we go rectify that right now?" he said standing and pulling Blair up out of his chair at the same time. He wrapped his arm around his befuddled son's shoulders and guided him back down the hall.
"What do you mean, Josiah?" Blair asked.
"I want to introduce my friends to my son, if that's all right with you?" Josiah said hopefully.
Blair grinned. "Sounds good to me… Dad."
They entered the team's office and walked to the center of the room. Everyone stopped what they were doing when Josiah cleared his throat loudly.
"Gentlemen," the profiler said proudly, "I'd like you to meet my son, Blair Sandburg."
The response was quite boisterous. Over the hubbub, Jim met Blair's eyes and saw the peace and happiness there. He smiled and Blair's megawatt grin flashed back at him.
"Looks like the kid is happy about the announcement," Simon said with a grin of his own.
"Yeah," Jim replied. "I'm glad. He deserves to be happy."
The ATF crew hovered around the father and son offering congratulations and demanding explanations. As the questions were answered and everyone realized that no scams were involved, the group relaxed and welcomed Blair into the family.
Ezra rested a hip on Vin's desk and smiled contentedly. Although feeling a tad bit jealous of Sandburg for having found his paternal relative, he was happy for Josiah, the man he secretly placed in the empty place his own father had left.
A loud guffaw interrupted the Southerners musings. "Josiah, you old dog. I didn't know you had it in you," Buck teased.
Ezra stepped forward to rejoin the group and intervene on Josiah's behalf. "I must admit," he drawled casually, "that I would have wagered a significant amount of my annual earnings that we would have chanced upon meeting one or more of Mr. Wilmington's offspring before one of yours Mr. Sanchez."
The others laughed as Buck flushed a bright red at the accusation. "Now, Ez…"
"I don't know, Chief," Jim drawled in conscious imitation of Ezra. "Seems to me you might have more in common with Buck here, are you sure he's not your father?"
Blair stared at Jim in shock.
"Table leg, Chief."
Blair burst out laughing. "Naw, Jim. Buck's not old enough and I'm pretty sure Naomi would have named me something else if my dad's name was 'Buck.'"
This elicited more laughter from the crowd.
"Well," Buck admitted with a grin, "Blair's not exactly a name I would have chosen…"
Josiah patted Wilmington on the back as he chuckled then explained. "My father's name was Joseph Blair Sanchez. Naomi was always trying to get us to reconcile. I guess she thought the distance between me and my father was more easily crossed than the distance between her and hers."
"I wondered where she came up with 'Blair,'" Blair said with a smile. "She never would say, just got this incredible smile on her face."
"Well," Larabee interrupted, "I hate to throw a wet blanket on this reunion, but we do have some work to do and these folks need to get back to Cascade eventually."
Boos and hisses were met with the Larabee glare and everyone settled back into their desks.
Jim, Simon and Blair went into the conference room to finish reading their printed statements.
Blair and Josiah stood off to one side while Jim and Simon checked their bags.
"If you…" Josiah started.
"Maybe you could…" Blair said at the same time.
They both chuckled and motioned for the other to speak first.
"We shouldn't wait so long between visits, son," Josiah said.
"Maybe we can plan a vacation together soon," Blair suggested.
"That would be great." Josiah glanced over his shoulder at Nathan who had driven them all to the airport then looked back to Blair. "If you ever need anything…"
Blair nodded. "You too. I have my own resources you know," he said playfully with a glance at Jim.
Jim turned and met Josiah's eyes. A promise passed between them, then the Sentinel looked away to give the father and son a little more privacy.
"I'm very proud to be your father, Blair," Josiah said taking his son into his arms.
Blair returned the hug. "And I'm proud to be your son." They parted and Blair looked into his father's eyes. "Don't be too angry with Naomi. She really did do what she thought was best for both of us."
Josiah nodded. "I know. At least my head knows. In my heart… well, I still need some time to process all of this."
Blair grinned. "Take care, Jo… Dad. You've got my e-mail and phone number. If I don't hear from you I'll be back."
"Sounds like I should just refrain from contacting you then," Josiah teased.
Blair laughed then turned as he heard Jim call his name. "Looks like I've got to go," he said solemnly. "I love you, Dad."
Josiah hugged Blair one more time. "I love you too, son." They pulled away reluctantly. "I'll talk to you in a few days."
Blair nodded and moved off at a jog to catch up to Jim and Simon. He turned when he reached them and waved walking backwards until Ellison had to pull him out of someone's path.
Josiah smiled at the antics of the two men bantering back and forth and Banks' loud grumbling plea for them to act their ages.
Things were never dull in Denver. Or in Cascade by the sound of it.
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