Ok, I know it's short, but I figured that a traveller wouldn't want to spend inordinate amounts of time reading on her hols! This was a birthday fic for Lee last year, and builds on the birthday fic for Spacey (you want more chapters, have more birthdays!)
PS -Beware the sappy stuff!
White Falls - Family Reunions
"…So there they all are, looking like some kind of psychedelic freak out, and there's me and my partner trying to figure out if we call for the medics or a fire hose. We've both got our guns out because of the noise they were making, and before we can do more than blink the Commissioner himself pokes his head out of the pile and tells us to shut the door on our way out."
Jim willed himself not to lose control of his bladder as he laughed, puddled helplessly in his chair on the back porch. Blair and Beth looked over from where they were weeding the vegetable garden with curious glances, and then rolled their eyes and went back to work. Pete Jackson grinned at his son's brother and put his beer down, leaning over to pat Jim on the shoulder. When the Sentinel had calmed down and was wiping the laughter tears away, Blair's father delivered the punch line.
"Of course, the paperwork was a bitch."
He lost it, and slid out of his chair to the floor with a thump, beating his leg in helpless mirth as his stomach muscles protested the abuse. Blair materialised out of nowhere, checking him over anxiously, and then rubbing his shoulder in gentle amusement as Jim gasped and fought for control. The touch soothed him enough to be able to breathe, but not so much that the good humour was killed. A perfect balance, and no less than Jim had come to expect from his diligent Guide.
"Don't kill him dad, he's cooking tonight," ever the sympathetic Shaman Guide, protecting his Sentinel. Jim snorted, heaved himself up and wobbled for the nearest bathroom while Blair and his father headed for the vegetables.
Jim looked out over the garden, casting his senses to get a perfect picture of the people and environment around him. Blair's family shared a baseline scent, and their hearts carried a familiar murmur that spoke to him on the most primitive level imaginable. When he was in White Falls, Jim could 'let it all hang out' and be himself. The hard won and regulated control could be relaxed and his senses could 'play' as much as he did. In the year since Blair had found his family, Jim had never laughed more. The fact that Sandburg had inherited his generous nature from both parents helped a lot too. Pete Jackson called Jim 'son' and bossed him around as much as he did his blood kin. Jim lapped it up.
"Hey Jimbo! Quit gawking!" Beth's voice reached him easily and Jim stuck his tongue out at her, stepping down into the pleasant spring day and going to help as ordered. Once the weekend was over, in fact just after lunch on Sunday, he and Blair would be heading back to Cascade. This had just been a flying visit, taken on their weekend off as a spur of the moment thing. Blair was getting over a minor cold and Jim had planned the whirlwind trip as a surprise. The nice thing about family is that you could drop in unannounced.
"Hey Sandburg, how's Hairgirl?" Brown asked Monday morning and Blair left Jim's side to go boast about his sister. Jim grinned and Simon waved him over. Their captain was standing in the door of his office, watching Jim's partner with carefully concealed amusement.
"He's looking better," both men had good cause to hate hearing Blair cough and wheeze. The fountain was something that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. Simon had approved of Jim's plan wholeheartedly and had looked the other way when Jim took his partner home very early on Friday.
"He's much better," Jim nodded, "I swear, the minute he sees them it's better than a miracle cure."
"Good," Simon nodded, "Well, you're both on desk duty today, and tomorrow you're in court, so that should help ease him back into things."
"Thanks sir," Jim nodded and headed for his desk. He hated paperwork, but the sedentary task would allow Sandburg to finish fighting off the germs.
"Ok?" Blair asked as he slid into his own chair and booted up his computer, "Did you tell him I'm fine and you can both relax?"
Jim gaped at his partner. He thought they were being subtle. Blair rolled his eyes and shook his head.
"You do know that I always know what you're up to, don't you?" Blair used the 'all seeing, all knowing' tone that made Jim want to throttle him.
"Oh yeah?" Jim asked smugly, thinking about the surprise birthday party for the twins that he was fixing up.
"Yeah, and stay away from the strawberry frosting - Beth's allergic," Blair made his point, and hoped that Jim wouldn't realise that he'd intercepted a call about the birthday cake from the caterer when Jim had been down in the morgue with Dan Wolf. The expression on Jim's face was priceless, and he chuckled to himself, grabbing the nearest file and starting work.
They worked peaceably til lunch; when Blair volunteered to go for take out. There was a diner down the road that made burgers that weren't too bad for you and he'd decided to get Jim one, and a salad for himself. It was almost warm enough to take off his jacket, and Blair enjoyed the bright sunshine and playful breeze as he hurried through the lunchtime pedestrians.
Food bought and paid for, Blair hurried back to the PD. Jim hated cold burgers and whined like a two year old if they had to be reheated. Blair didn't want to spoil his lunch by having to stuff Jim into the microwave, so he put on a bit of speed to get back.
He was crossing the road in front of the PD when the wolf howled at him. A car's engine revved wildly and Blair threw himself forward, heeding the spirit animal's cry, abandoning lunch to the middle of the road. He felt the impact of the wolf, but it wasn't enough to get him clear. The car smashed into him and he went flying, slamming into a parked car and sliding gracelessly to the road. The street around him spun and swooped and his entire body was one giant pain. The wolf latched onto his wrist, tugging frantically, and he rolled obediently towards the curb, trying to get out of the street. Once more he was too slow and the car slammed into him, pinning his legs against the parked car he'd hit before.
Thankfully he was no longer awake to realise that.
"White Falls County, Sheriff Jackson speaking," the voice was clear and friendly and made Jim want to cry. He hadn't wanted to make this phone call, but he couldn't have lived with himself if he'd asked Simon to do it in his place.
"Beth, it's Jim."
Three little words and he could hear the woman on the other end of the line immediately leap to the right conclusion. He heard her sit down heavily and brace a hand on the desk.
"How bad is it?"
Beth was not one to beat about the bush. Jim blessed her for it silently and wished his hands would stop shaking. The jaguar's warning had been too late for him to protect his Guide, and there was a whole lot of guilt flying around his head.
"We're not sure. It was a hit and run. From the witnesses descriptions it was deliberate."
Jim gave her the details and heard her stand up once more.
"Dad and I will be right there, Jim."
"He was just going out for lunch. He wasn't…"
"Jim," firm commanding tone, with love in it, "We'll be right there. No one blames you. You just take care of Blair for us until we can get there, ok? Dad will want to know what's happening, and if you're ok. Focus on Blair. Send him some of those good vibes, I'm sure he needs it."
"Can do," Jim wiped a hand over his face, "Thank you."
The dial tone was his answer, but he didn't mind. The family was coming.
Simon put a hand under his arm and led him to the waiting area. Most of Major Crimes was in there already, as well as detectives and uniforms from other departments. Blair had made a niche for himself in the PD, and the muttering about the failed thesis was mostly silent now. Jim appreciated their support, but couldn't find the strength to tell them. His partner was the eloquent touchy feely one, he did silent support and menace. He was pretty sure it was in their contract…
Jim shook himself from his thoughts and looked up. Beth and Pete were in the doorway, looking for him. Had it been three hours already?
"What…" he muttered and glared at Simon.
"You zoned a little," Simon admitted. There was no hint of apology in his tone, "I figured it was easier on you than staying present."
Beth and Pete's heartbeat had brought him back, and now they wrapped their arms around him in a three way hug that felt really good. Simon waited until they could let go of each other and explained that Blair was in surgery now, as the doctors tried to repair the damage that had been done to him by the car.
"How did it happen?" Pete looked shaken and Simon scowled. Rafe and Brown had been keeping him informed, and the news wasn't good.
"Sandburg was crossing the road to get back to the station house. Witness's report that a car that had been double-parked further down the road gunned its engine and headed right for him. Sandburg tried to get out of the way, but was clipped pretty bad. The car slammed to a stop, sat for a moment, and then when the driver saw that Sandburg was trying to get out of the road, it backed up. He was pinned by the ankle to a parked car. The driver got away - in all the confusion no one tried to stop him. By the time we got there it was all over."
The report was straightforward and concise, as emotionless as possible. They didn't need to hear about the heartrending sound of pain the unconscious man had made when he was finally freed from the wreck, or the frantic efforts of the paramedics and staff here to keep him alive. From the look in Jim's eyes the Sentinel had picked up a lot more of his Guide's suffering, a memory that was even now battering away at him.
"Any leads?" Beth asked after a moment, unshed tears in her eyes, "Jim, what were you two working on?"
"We've got a murder and a car theft ring on the desk at the moment, and we're coming up to trial for a few cases," Jim's voice was dull. 'Shock,' Simon thought, watching as Blair's sister wrapped an arm around the taller man and frankly cuddled him close.
"Taggert and Rhonda are looking into that side of things," Simon told Jim, who nodded listlessly. Beth got him into a chair and Pete went for a blanket.
The ICU was dim, but Jim could see quite clearly. His Guide looked very small and vulnerable in that bed, dwarfed by the machines and dressings surrounding him. Blair was breathing on his own; the hiss of the oxygen feed a welcome sound. Jim hated seeing his partner on the ventilator and knew that Blair hated waking up to it. Not that he'd be waking up any time soon. The doctors weren't planning to let that happen for a week or so, in order to let him heal in peace and relative comfort.
Beth's arm slid around his waist and she leaned into him gently.
"Oh son," Pete's whisper was unsteady and Jim watched his Guide's father pick up a lax hand and stroke it gently.
"He'll be all right," Jim needed to hear the words as much as the Jacksons and Beth's arm tightened around his waist, "Blair's strong."
"And he's got all of us on his side," Beth added staunchly, "If wishing counts he'll be back to himself in no time."
"Positive vibes," Pete nodded, sending his daughter and adopted son a small smile, "Every little bit helps. Now, I want you two out of here. Go make sure this can't happen again. He'll want to know who did it when he wakes. I'll sit with him for now. You can come visit later."
"Yes dad," Beth leant over, brushed a kiss onto the unmarked skin of Blair's forehead and headed for the door. Jim nodded reluctantly, not wanting to leave, but knowing that Pete would take very good care of his son.
"It's all right, son, I'll call you if things change," Pete promised and Jim felt his eyes fill with unexpected tears. The Jackson's wholehearted acceptance of him was a gift that he'd never get used to. He was given a strong hug and pat to the back, and then he joined Beth in the corridor.
"I don't have the truck," Jim realised, and Beth smiled, fishing out her keys. For the first time Jim realised she wasn't in uniform and gave himself a mental shake. He'd never catch Blair's would-be killer if he didn't pay better attention.
Beth led the way to the family car and settled behind the wheel. She waited until Jim was buckled in before turning to face him.
"Look, before we go anywhere, I want to tell you something. Blair… has been coaching me in the techniques he uses to help you…"
"What?" Jim glared, anger flooding him irrationally, "You think you can just take over? People are NOT interchangeable you know…"
His rant was stopped by Beth's hand over his mouth and he growled in surprise.
"For starters, I never thought we were. Not even identical twins are truly identical. Blair noticed that you respond well to our voices and touch and thought that if there were ever a situation where he wasn't around and you needed some help we'd do in a pinch. It's something to do with familial scent. He figured that he might as well show us the basics for an emergency situation, and I'd say this qualifies, don't you?" she spoke quietly, but the truth of her words hit home, "Besides, Jim, it's just for a little while. Once we sort this out, you can take leave time to be with us all while Blair recovers. Blair is your Guide and nothing can take that away from you."
They were just the words he needed to hear, and Jim nodded, relaxing tense muscles to show that he'd understood and accepted her words. He should have expected something like this. There was no way that Blair would leave anything to chance when it came to his Sentinel's well being and comfort. He kissed the palm of the hand still over his mouth and she rolled her eyes, taking it away and making a show of wiping it on her jeans.
Jim chuckled a little as Beth started the car and pulled out of the lot, waiting for directions that would take them to the station.
Five hours later they were back at the hospital, frustrated by the lack of clues. Jim thought that there was something familiar about the place that Blair had been hit, a scent that teased the edges of his memory. Beth hadn't been able to help him isolate it, and Jim hadn't been able to describe it to her. The scent of his Guide was all over the scene, as well as the blood, and neither one of them were able to detach themselves from the knowledge that it was their brother that had almost died here.
The station was full of tense faced cops, who spoke grimly into phones to their snitches. Jim spent some time with Taggert, going over the cases that he and his partner had been working on over the last few months.
"Bloody hell, what are you, the Mafia police?" Taggert shuddered when he saw some of the names that Jim and Blair had been investigating. Jim sighed. They tended to get the 'Family' jobs because a lot of the better information needed long range listening, and Jim didn't need a court order to get permission to do that. Blair had once made the joke that they worked backwards a lot, and Jim couldn't help but agreeing. Thank God for the sanctity of the 'anonymous informant'.
They also got their more than fair share of odd ball crimes. The ones that had no apparent motive or perp usually crossed their desk. Sentinel scans and Shaman intuition got them started and then it was simply a matter of connecting the dots. Simon worked them hard, and made no apologies for it. Jim agreed that there was no point in under utilising the Sentinel and Shaman, and Jim and Blair both preferred to be busy. It made their downtime together or with the Jacksons all the more intense.
Beth sat with Rhonda, chasing down files and cross-referencing cases to ensure that everything relevant was being reviewed. With the word out to the snitches, all they could do was wait for a better lead. The crime scene was a dead-end, and the car had vanished.
"It was probably stolen anyway," Jim mused as they walked along the ICU corridor, "Pick one up just before you go to do it and the chances are that the owners hadn't even discovered that it was missing, so he could hang around a cop station with impunity."
"Mmmm, and when you're done, you can put it in a chop shop or wreckers yard and no one would be the wiser," Beth nodded but Jim wasn't paying attention any more. He could hear Blair's heartbeat, and the sound was drawing him along like a mother holding a child's hand. He barely noticed the door Beth opened for him as he went to his Guide, leaning over the bed and stroking pale skin, scenting delicately at the still figure and even dabbing his tongue to Blair's temple.
Beth and Pete watched the Sentinel lose himself in his Guide, growling softly in discontent at the state of his heart's brother. Jim's eyes were a little glazed and Beth was sure that the man had even forgotten they were in the room as he made minute adjustments to Blair's body, seeking the most comfortable position for him. Pete held his daughter's hand, and she squeezed it tightly. As awful as the situation was, it was a comfort to see the care and attention being lavished on Blair, and the minute improvement in the monitors told them that the man in the bed knew his Sentinel was there.
"We'd better not let him zone," Pete said quietly, and Beth sighed.
"Do you want to try getting in between them?" she smiled down at her dad, who smiled back. Neither of them was silly enough to try that right now.
"Why don't you take a break," Beth suggested, "I'll watch them for now. Bring me back a sandwich or something, ok?"
"Yes mother," Pete grumbled, but got to his feet. Beth kissed his cheek on the way past and took his chair, leaning forward to put her hand next to her twin's on the bed, not touching, just being near. The Sentinel rumbled approval and patted the hand kindly before returning attention to his Guide.
The staff kicked them all out at ten o'clock, and Jim took the family back to the loft to rest. Pete got Blair's room and Beth insisted on taking the couch. The phone rang at eight, waking them all from much needed sleep, and Simon informed Jim that the car had been found. It had been driven off the docks into the sea, and someone had rammed their yacht into it when they approached the dock this morning. One hurried scramble later and Jim and Beth were headed for the scene while Pete went back to the hospital and Blair. Just as the truck pulled to a stop Pete called with the report that Blair had slept well and was doing a little better today. They were smiling as they walked past the crime scene barriers.
They weren't smiling an hour later. The car's windows had all been opened, and the vehicle had been in the dirty salt water that surrounded the dock long enough for all traces to be destroyed. The car hadn't even been reported stolen, and a quick check at the registered owners' address revealed why. They were off on holidays overseas, and the garage side door had been expertly picked. Jim oversaw the forensics efforts there, though there wasn't much hope that they'd find anything either. Whoever the thief had been, he'd been thorough and quick. There weren't even footprints to find. The neighbours hadn't seen anything, presenting them with yet another dead end.
Just as they were about to leave the scene and head for the hospital, Simon approached Jim cautiously. From the captain's scent and heart beat, Jim realised that his boss was about to say something that he knew Jim didn't want to hear.
"Jim, you're due in court in an hour. You'd better go change and get over there," the Captain's voice was calm and sure, and Jim spent a moment fighting his first reaction to the statement that told him he wasn't allowed to go see his Guide.
It wasn't Simon's fault, and they'd worked too hard to just let the case be ruined now. Blair would be pissed, and Jim wouldn't be too happy about it either.
"I'll go to the hospital," Beth promised, and Jim nodded curtly. Simon looked relieved that they weren't going to have to fight about it, and nodded his thanks to Jim. The gesture reminded the Sentinel that he wasn't the only one worried about the Shaman Guide - their friends were just as upset, and hadn't had the option of visiting yet, mainly because his family maxed Blair's visiting allotment out.
"I'll drop you off on the way there," he sighed heavily and Beth held his hand all the way back to the truck.
Court dragged all day, and Jim's testimony was the last one heard before the session ended. Beth called at regular intervals to see what was happening and reassure him about Blair's condition. The DA made sure to ask where his partner was while Jim was on the stand, no doubt trying to get the hit and run classified as the fault of the defendant. All Jim was concerned about was getting back to his partner.
As he finally walked up the corridor of the ICU towards Blair's room, he thought he spotted a familiar form up ahead. Sure enough, the slender woman turned into Blair's room and Jim hastened his pace a little, not wanting to leave anything to chance.
The door opened on a very tense scene. Beth and Pete were standing, facing the red head in her gauzy wrap that had stopped just inside the door, and the tension in the air was incredible.
"Hello Naomi," Jim said weakly from behind her, "How did you get here?"
"I came to visit my son," Naomi's tone was cold and cutting, "I haven't seen him for nearly a year. When I called his cell phone Simon answered it and told me what had happened. I wasn't expecting him to have… visitors."
"If you think I'd abandon my only son when he needs me the most, think again," there was an edge to Pete's tone that Jim had only rarely heard. It took a lot for the ex-detective to become furiously angry, another trait that Blair had inherited from his father.
Naomi ignored her former husband and swept around the bed to lean over and kiss Blair's forehead. Jim remained frozen in the doorway, unsure what he should do next.
"Hello sweetie," Naomi cooed, smoothing Blair's hair, "Mommy's here."
Beth snorted and shook her head, evidently unimpressed by Naomi's little display of motherly love and care. Jim had to control a similar reaction. Naomi Sandburg was only Blair's mother when it suited her, a trait that Jim found infuriating. He took a moment to note with satisfaction that, unlike when Jim or the Jacksons touched him, there was no change to the readings on the monitors that surrounded Blair.
"Hello mother," Beth said quietly, and Naomi glared at her. Blair's twin was outwardly calm, though Jim could hear her heart pounding in a combination of excitement and fear.
"Beth," the acknowledgement was cold, and Jim finally found the strength to step forward and put a hand on Pete's arm. The man had clenched his hands into fists, and was fairly vibrating in rage. Beth flinched as if slapped and Pete shook Jim's hand off to reach for his daughter, pulling her into an unashamed hug.
"I'd like to visit with my son," Naomi glared at them all, and Beth broke away from her father to rush from the room. She might not have grown up with Naomi as her twin had, but the little girl in her still loved her Mom, and that made the rejection all the more painful. Pete took off after his daughter and Jim went with him. As much as he wanted to spend time with Blair right now, being in the same room as Naomi was low on his list of priorities. He was only grateful that his Guide hadn't been awake to see the ugly little scene that had just played out over his bed.
"She's not worth this," Jim rocked the weeping Beth in his arms, watching a stray tear slowly work its way down her father's cheek as well, "Come on, Bethy, she's not worth it!"
"She's my Mom!" Beth sobbed out, "She hates me!"
"Darling girl," Pete added himself to the hug, "She doesn't know you. How can she hate a stranger?"
"She didn't take me!" that wail came from the deep insecurity of a childhood fear, and Jim wished Naomi had never come. As much as Blair would have loved to see his mother again, the Shaman would not have thought the price Beth was paying worth it.
"Oh Beth," there was no answer to that, and Jim simply renewed his grip on her. They stood in silence for a long time, until both the Jacksons could stand to let go and straighten up. Beth disappeared into a bathroom and Pete ran a hand over his face, exhaustion etched on the features that Blair so subtly echoed.
"Pete, I'm so sorry," the words were inadequate, but the sentiment honestly, deeply felt.
"I know, son," Pete sighed, "All her life Beth has been a little insecure about why she was the one that Naomi left behind. She knows in her head that there's nothing wrong with her - hell she was too young to be responsible for whatever Naomi blamed her for when she left - but the heart is another matter."
"I wish Blair was here," the Sentinel blurted without thought and Pete chuckled.
"Don't we all," he agreed, the weak sound of humour a welcome one. Beth rejoined them, a little red around the eyes, but otherwise composed. She hugged her father and Jim, and then straightened her shoulders.
"Let's get back," she suggested anxiously, "Naomi isn't going to drive me away from my sib."
"Right," Jim agreed, relieved to see some spirit from her. As with Blair, a subdued Beth was a worrying thing, though his Guide was the more boisterous of the twins. Pete had reassured Jim that even when they were babies it was Blair that had made the most noise and gotten into the most trouble. That was a pattern that had stayed with him through childhood and into adulthood.
Jim had had to chase Beth down three flights to the lobby, so it wasn't until the elevator got to the third floor that he realised that the alarms around Blair's bed were going off. He charged from the lift and down the hall without a word of explanation, and felt more than heard the Jacksons following him.
The room was full of medical people, doing things to his Guide that Jim didn't want to think about too clearly. Blair was shaking and jerking on the bed, his IV ripped out, and the sheets in disarray. Naomi was nowhere in sight, and the family was pushed out of the room by a stern faced nurse the moment she spotted them.
"What the hell happened?" Pete growled, and Beth shook her head helplessly. Jim looked around, trying to spot Naomi Sandburg, the last person who'd seen Blair. There was no sight of her, and the Sentinel frowned. Naomi was a ditz, but if Blair went into seizures while she was there, she would have stuck around, not just upped and left.
"Where's Mom?" Beth proved a moment later that they were on the same wavelength. Jim shrugged and caught a whiff of sage from the emergency stairwell down the hall. He headed for the doors quickly, wondering why Naomi would choose to be waiting there.
As he opened the door the woman in question gasped in surprise and then bolted, heading for the lobby at a frantic pace.
"Naomi wait!" Jim called, but the redhead didn't stop and Jim was torn between staying for his Guide or going after her. Beth had no such quandary, brushing past him and following her mother down the stairs at a dead run. Jim followed her, his instincts beginning to sound off.
They'd left Blair alone with his mother for about twenty minutes while Beth and Pete came to terms with her total rejection of their familial past. A lot could happen in twenty minutes, and the fact that the snitches hadn't been able to dig up any information on the streets had Jim thinking things that he just didn't want to think.
Who stood to gain the most from Blair's death? The criminal element of their city wasn't actively pursuing his Guide at the moment, which made Jim wonder if there was something else going on here entirely, something that had been started over a year ago with a picture on a milk carton.
Naomi may have acted the hippy dippy trippy girl, but she sure had passed on her speed to her son. Unfortunately for her she'd also passed it on to her daughter, and Jim used his abilities to track Beth as she followed her mother down the stairs, across the hospital's busy reception area and into the parking lot.
Naomi headed out of there at a dead run and into the open-air markets that took place in the park once a month. This made Jim's job harder because of all the various scents and incense that were associated with the markets. If it had been Blair he wouldn't have thought twice, but with Beth they were enough to force him to rely on his hearing only, with sight kicking in whenever there was a straight line between them. The chance of a zone was greater, but he didn't want to risk losing sight of mother and daughter.
Naomi burst out of the markets when she failed to lose her daughter the sheriff, and headed for the shopping mall nearby instead. Jim hated the place because the architecture distorted sounds, and he put on a burst of speed to catch up to Beth.
"I can't hear too well in here," he warned her, breathing heavily, "And Naomi knows about me."
"Ok, lets just keep our eyes peeled," Beth panted, and they moved quickly, scanning the crowds of shoppers for signs of disturbance that would be caused by a pretty woman running full tilt along the corridors. A distant shout caught Beth's attention and she grabbed Jim, towing him along in her wake.
"Why the hell is she running?" Beth snapped as they hurried along. Evidently she wasn't thinking too hard about the situation they'd just left. Even now, Jim was fighting his instincts to just turn around and head back to the hospital. He had a feeling that if they didn't corner Naomi soon, they'd never see her again.
"I'm not sure," the answer was honest enough, though Beth shot him a look that said she'd want the full answer later. There was no slipping half-truths past either Blair or the Jackson's, a skill that made them formidable cops.
A familiar scent caught his nose and he planted his feet, brining Beth to a sudden stop. A quick scan showed Naomi standing behind a pillar, and he ran towards her, subtlety out the window, wanting this over and done with. Naomi ran, fear on her pretty face, and Jim put on a burst of speed, determined to end this once and for all.
He closed the gap but before he could grab the woman, Beth went flying past him and tackled her mother to the floor, squirming to get the redhead face down and subdued while Jim tracked the shoulder bag that Naomi had dropped.
"Jim! Don't touch it and give me your cuffs!" Beth yelled, and he turned back, handing the cuffs over reluctantly, and then moving to stand over the bag before a less than honest citizen decided to pick it up. He took charge of Naomi, and Beth took charge of the bag, producing a clean handkerchief from her pocket to pick it up by a strap.
"Let me go, you pig!" Naomi twisted in his grasp and Jim tightened his hold with a growl, the Miranda flowing from his mouth without thought.
"It's police brutality!" Naomi shouted at the people watching, "I haven't done anything wrong!"
Despite her pleas, the onlookers made no move against them, and by the time the cops that the malls management had called arrived, Naomi was sulking on the floor, having thrown herself down in an attempt at passive resistance.
They had to carry her out to the car.
"You'd better be right about this, Jim, because I'm telling you that woman has some surprising connections," Simon frowned at his detective, "We let her have her phone call while you were checking on the kid, and since then we've had the DA, and three very high priced lawyers contact us."
"What did forensics find in her bag?" Jim asked tensely. Blair's convulsions had been stopped, but his condition was borderline, and being away from his Guide at this point in time was like a physical pain to Jim. Beth had gone back to the hospital to sit with her dad, and Jim knew that she'd call if there were any change for the better… or worse.
"I don't know what tipped you off, but they found a syringe with her finger prints on it. They're testing it now. And I've got a crime scene unit at the garage the car was boosted from, dusting for fingerprints. Maybe she had something to do with the car," it looked like Simon felt sick saying the words, and Jim nodded.
"As to what tipped me off," Jim sighed, "There was no reason for her to leave him if he was in convulsions. Normally she'd be in there screaming at the doctors and deriding Western medicine. Instead she was hanging around in a stairwell, and ran when she saw us."
"Pretty flimsy," Simon scowled, "But we've worked with less."
"The problem is, if her lawyers are as good as you say, we won't be able to hold her for long, especially if the DA is being pressured," Jim scowled at the floor. He wouldn't be allowed to interview Naomi, mainly because he was so close to her victim. He also knew that she was just going to clam up and that would push his control - already thready at best - over the edge. They'd be cleaning her off the walls, and he'd do his Guide no good in prison.
"Jim!" Brown called, a worried frown on his face, "Babe, we got a match of the fingerprints at the Crestmans garage."
The Crestmans were the owners of the car that had run Sandburg over at the start of all this - only yesterday. Jim couldn't believe how quickly things had gone from near perfect to crap.
"Well come on, man, who matched them?" Simon snapped impatiently. Brown's scent was disturbingly muddy, and Jim had a feeling that he already knew who owned those prints.
"Naomi Sandburg," Brown took a hasty step back from the rage that appeared in Simon's eyes and Jim folded his arms tightly across his chest, reminding himself not to kill the messenger. It wasn't Brown's fault, and the fact that they had the evidence to warrant holding Naomi for a bit longer was a small solace.
"We got the prints from her priors records - she was arrested in Cascade twenty years ago at a protest march," Brown continued, eying Jim very warily.
"Of course she was," he muttered grimly, "Is there any chance that she knows the Crestmans? Any possibility that she can come up with a plausible reason for her prints to be there?"
"Rafe is talking to them now - he managed to track them down," Brown put the report on the desk so that Ellison or Banks could pick it up and sidled back over to where his partner was still talking on the phone. Rafe hung up after a moment and shook his head. Although Ellison was on the other side of the bullpen he knew he didn't have to raise his voice to deliver this piece of bad news.
"The Crestmans have never heard of her," he adjusted his tie, "We've got her cornered."
There was no victory in his tone.
Simon wasn't about to let their case go down the toilet because Jim couldn't control the Sentinel, which was why his detective was in the chair furthest from the door and Simon was sitting next to him. He'd made Jim lock his gun away, and had done the same himself, acknowledging that he wasn't exactly thinking clearly himself.
Brown and Rafe had gone into the interrogation with solemn faces and deliberately calm demeanours. They'd offered Naomi a bathroom break and refreshments, though they'd refused to remove her restraints. The fact that her lawyers hadn't insisted over this point said to Simon that they knew there were more important battles to win. The issue of restraints was a minor thing in the end.
"You've got no right to hold me against my will," Naomi folded her hands on the interrogation table, "I haven't done anything wrong."
Simon suspected that this particular statement was vital to her future insanity plea. It was also the best way for Rafe and Brown to crack her, and his second best team picked up on it flawlessly.
They started by telling her the latest prognosis from the hospital, detailing that Blair was now on full life support, and that with the support of his father, sister and power-of-attorney, would stay that way for the foreseeable future. What might have seemed like a non sequitor to her lawyers was like a red rag to a bull to the red head, and she immediately began ranting about how it was better to let Blair go and 'free his spirit' from the 'cruel lies and bonds of this existence.'
Rafe invited her to expand on that statement, and in a thirty minute diatribe, where she actually told her lawyers to shut up, and waved aside their warnings, Naomi explained in precise detail the chain of logic that led her to believe that it was better to kill her second born rather than let him live with the family she'd stolen him from so many years ago.
Simon held Jim's wrist in a tight grip as they listened to the Shaman's mother explain that she had stolen her son away when he was three to protect his 'uniqueness from the stodgy influence of his twin and father'. It seemed that Beth had favoured her dad when it came to being soothed or played with, and Naomi saw her daughter as a threat to her marriage. The fact that it was Naomi who had been the adulterer didn't seem to register with the woman. She described in great detail how she'd raised Blair to be a free spirit, bound to no one, slave to nothing, and that she had hoped that in time he would become the 'leader' of his generation, 'a prophet to guide the chosen people to a truly spiritual life'.
The Cascade PD, and Rainier had corrupted him, of course, which was why she'd sabotaged the dissertation. Blair had failed to follow her out of Cascade, and when he'd ultimately betrayed her by rediscovering the twin and father that she'd 'rescued' him from, Naomi knew it was time to act.
Careful investigation on her part showed that there were currently no exploitable flaws that would break him free of the 'fascist materialistic' clutches of the PD and family that he valued so highly - or at least no way to do so without getting him into a lot of trouble that could ultimately result in him being locked up, because framing him for a crime had too many risks to it - so she had decided that it might be better if he 'went on to his next life, where he could fulfil his true destiny'.
She'd slept with her fair share of the lawless in her time, and knew how to 'boost a car', and had done her best to kill her son by running him down in the street. When that hadn't worked - because Blair was 'so strong and misguidedly attached to this life' - she'd decided to administer a fatal dose of morphine from the hospital's own pharmacy.
In the observation room it was hard to tell who was restraining who. Simon wanted his hands around her throat so badly he could almost taste it, and Jim was torn between helping the man or holding him back. Rafe and Brown took the statement stoically, and then left at the lawyer's request, giving them time with their client.
Simon wasn't looking forward to explaining to Blair and the Jacksons what the hell was going on, and from the look on Jim's face the Sentinel wasn't either.
Beth looked sick, and Pete was shaking, unable to meet anyone's eyes. Jim let the silence drag out to give them time to assimilate what had been said. It wasn't every day that your mother turned out to be a psychopath, and there were no words to cover the situation.
Blair was recovering, though the doctors were monitoring him even more closely than ever. The good news was that they didn't feel any additional damage had been done to their patient, and that he would recover in time and with plenty of rehab. Pete had already called the team that had worked with him after the loss of his leg, and Blair would be transferred to that clinic the moment the doctors in Cascade felt he was ready. Pete was planning to stay with his son throughout the process and Jim was going to take as much leave time as he could towards the end, so that when Blair was released from the clinic they could have some time together with the Jackson's as a holiday.
He'd already seen the wolf, and had been very relieved when the spirit guide recognised and greeted him happily. The Shaman was unhurt, then, which meant that the brain damage that had initially been predicted with the seizures was not a factor. It was just like Blair to let him know that wherever he currently was, he was also intact.
"So what will happen to her now?" Beth sighed heavily, and Jim frowned, unhappy with the situation, but not wanting to make things worse by adding his tempestuous feelings to the mix.
"She's being remanded for psych evaluation, and then she'll probably end up in a mental institution," Jim sighed. Pete growled in frustration.
"That's not good enough! I want her locked up for good!"
"Dad, it's not like she can just check out whenever she likes," Beth pointed out, though she didn't look too impressed either, "She will be locked up."
What no one said, but everyone knew, was that Naomi was enough of a con artist to trick her way out of the institution. That made her a threat that none of them wanted to deal with again. Jim had a powerful urge to get in touch with some of his old special OPS buddies, and was keeping himself under tight control as a result. Blair didn't need to deal with the knowledge that his Sentinel had taken out a contract on his mother's life, and Jim was under no misapprehensions that he could keep that a secret from his Guide.
"It's the best we can do for now," Jim sighed and the Jacksons gave in unhappily. He wished Blair was awake to help deal with all this.
Blair leaned the cane that the doctors still insisted he needed against the rock and turned carefully, settling himself onto the ground and resting his back against the sun-warmed stone.
The past six months had been one long struggle from beginning to end, but he thought that things were finally settling down.
His Dad had grown a lot closer to him during rehab, and Blair blessed the older man's strength and support daily. Though Blair was no quitter, there had been times when rehab had been rough, and Pete had carried him over those rough patches, as well as hanging around in the smooth.
Jim and Beth had grown closer too, though Blair wasn't officially aware of that. He'd let them 'come out' in their own time, and in the meantime ensured that they had plenty of quality time together. He'd dreamt the other night that he and Pete shared the sky blue house together, while Beth and Jim lived in the loft. He'd been wearing the Sheriff's badge, and the idea was intriguing, though he wasn't sure how he'd manage to Guide his Sentinel long distance. He'd cross that bridge when he came to it, though he had a feeling that the dream wasn't so much gospel truth as possibilities.
The lotus position was a little out of his current league, but Blair didn't need it to meditate. With the enforced inactivity of the last six months he'd learned a lot more about his Shaman abilities, and there was one thing he had yet to deal with.
The seashore of his childhood - his earliest memory with his mother - formed around him, and Blair walked along the sand slowly, the breeze tossing his long curls about. There was another set of footprints in the sand, slowly being washed away by the tide, and Blair surveyed them with satisfaction. It was a woman's foot, and in the distance he could see a slender redhead, slowly but surely washing further from the sand into the restless ocean. He could hear a gull crying in the distance and a playful bark behind him had him turning, smiling at the out of place wolf that was frisking along and flirting with the waves.
Soon they would be the only occupants of the beach, and Blair felt that they could migrate to the jungle permanently, secure in the knowledge that their attacker was no more.
Blair opened his eyes and put up a hand with a smile, inviting Jim to sit beside him. Jim was looking worried and Blair took a few minutes to pet his Sentinel, indulging them both in the contact that had been so rare these last few months.
"What's up Jim?" Blair asked lazily, and Jim sighed, frowning down at the path he'd followed Blair along.
"We got a call from Naomi's hospital," he said reluctantly, "Apparently she's… they say that she was meditating and now she won't wake up."
"Hmm," Blair frowned, "I guess she found a way to escape after all. Naomi is free in her mind, when the walls and rules bind her in place."
"I guess," Jim nodded, "It's just that… well she refused to allow any intervention in the case of…"
"Her living will forbids life support or intravenous feeding," Blair said it for him, "I know, she made it very clear to me when I was little that she wouldn't 'linger' like that."
"Are you ok?" Jim wrapped him in a hug and Blair nodded into the strong shoulder, hugging in return. He had his family to support him, and when the time came he would be able to detach from his mother… with love.
Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail Shedoc.
Back to Shedoc's page.