Special thanks to Liz, my totally awesome, beta-reader. Without her help, a lot of the plot hole in the rough draft would still be there. (Some of them are big enough to drive a truck through)
As to those that read this on Starfox's site, I apologize. That's a rough draft, and was put up by mistake. Any and all Flames should be sent to me.
So, sit back, grab a chair, and enjoy the story. This, and all following chapters, up until chapter four, could have been found on my site until Homestead closed down. The first four chapters will be a little different, as I've added some things. If you've read the original, let me know if you like the changes. If you want to read the original. Let me know and I'll send it to you.
Disclaimer: The characters in the story are not mine. I promise, no money was changed hands in the creating of this story. I also promise to return them with as little damage as possible. Little being the operative word. So, that about covers my tail.
ON WITH THE STORY!!!
by Wolf Guide
"Ellison, My office, Now!" bellowed Captain Simon Banks as soon as the tall detective walked into the empty bullpen. Just like Ellison. First one here in the morning, last one to leave.
Putting his coat on the chair behind his desk, Jim headed into his captain's office. Knocking on the door, he heard 'Enter' and went inside. Sitting behind his desk, Simon held a coffee cup.
"It's one of those new, freshly picked, sent right from the mountain to your door blends. They all taste the same to me."
Nodding, Jim took the cup, smelling its contents before taking a sip.
"What's up sir? I know you didn't just call me in here to offer me something to drink. As much as you love me, I don't think you wanted to spare me from the paste they try to pass of as coffee in the lounge. You make me drink it nearly every day. Why not today? No one died, did they? No escaped felons I should be worried about?" Jim asked, his face changing from a smile at the though of Simon's coffee to a frown at the though of someone with a grudge out to get him
Taking a deep breath, Simon held up a hand to stop the smaller man's rambling. God, he's going to hate this. I'm just glad I'm his superior officer and am safely behind this desk.
"No Jim, nothing like that. I'm assigning you a partner. He's new to the force and needs someone to help him get settled. It's only until he is comfortable here, then it'll be over. I promise." Reduced to begging my men to take on partners. I need more respect. What happened to the old days when 'I ordered, they jumped' Oh well... Sighing over his loss of respect, Simon got ready for Mt. Ellison to blow.
He watched as a myriad of emotions crossed the usually stoic face. Even though he had a reputation for being a hard ass, Jim was just really, really good at hiding his feelings. Being an ex-Army Ranger, Black Ops to boot, it was easier for the detective to mask his emotions rather than let the world know what he was feeling.
What really worried him was the whole problem with Jim's senses. They had been bothering him on and off for the last three months or so, ever since he had gotten back from a prolonged stakeout in the woods. He had never had this problem before. Rather than draw deeper into himself, a typical Ellison move, he opened up, letting Simon and Joel know what was wrong with him. Soon after, noticing the slight difference in the man, a few others in Major Crimes had dared to do the impossible: try to make friends with the beast known as Ellison. Few had succeeded. Those that did were Brian Rafe, his partner, Henri Brown, and Megan Conner. Even though he made friends with them, he still wouldn't even consider taking a partner. There were still too many unresolved issues concerning Jack Pendergrast, Jim's old partner.
Taking another sip, Simon waited for the large man to get under control before he said anything. In a moment, the Ellison he knew was back, but stone-faced and jaw clenched. He knew that Jim wouldn't argue. He would just be a real pain to work with for the next couple of days. To bad we don't have a couple of days.
"How long until he arrives?"
"That's him now," said Simon as Jim turned to look. There stood Blair Sandburg.
"You have got to be kidding me."
Sighing, Blair opened the door to Major Crimes. Looking around, he noticed that there was no one there. Great, everyone's gone. Now how am I going to find Captain Banks? Sighing again, Blair considered going out to lunch, then coming back, when he heard his name being called.
"Sandburg, Detective Blair Sandburg, this way."
Glancing around the room, he saw Captain Banks standing in the doorway of what was obviously his office. There's one way: read the sign on the door that says Captain Simon Banks. Shifting his bag onto his other shoulder, Blair made his way though the bullpen. As soon as he entered the office, he noticed another person leaning against the windowsill, trying to look imposing. And doing one hell of a job, he thought as he took the seat the captain pointed to. Dropping his bag to the floor, he sat back, waiting.
"Detective Blair Sandburg. Graduated top in your class. Says here you just about tied the top score on both the marksmanship and obstacle course," said the large captain, looking at the man sitting near the window.
The man just stood there, but Blair thought he detected a slight rising of his eyebrows. Like he was trying to figure out how he, of all people, could try to tie with James Ellison. Blair had heard about him even before he had gone to the academy. Nearly died on a mission to Peru. Blair had been there at the time, but that was during his university days. He had been out of the country for several months, studying a tribe in the Amazon. He didn't hear about him until he got back to Rainier. Then he was dismissed...
At the academy, every recruit had heard of Ellison. There were at least ten plaques on the trophy wall alone that had his name on them. The fact that he had nearly tied his scores meant he could have had a post anywhere he wanted. He had chosen Major Crimes. True, it dealt with the more gruesome crimes, but it also let him see a greater variety of society. Guess you can take the student out of the school but you can't take the school out of the student. Even though he was no longer a student at Rainier, he still loved to learn. He was snapped out of his thought by the voice of Captain Banks.
"Blair, I'd like for you to meet your new partner until you get settled here. Detective Sandburg, meet Detective James Ellison. He'll show you around." Turning to the other man, he continued. "Jim, show him where his locker is and find him a desk. Try to find one near you if at all possible," said the Captain, hinting at the other detective. Nodding, Jim turned to leave.
Blair paled. No way! That's Ellison! This can't be happening. He looks like he wants to chew me up and spit me out, not be my partner. Not to mention the fact that he looks like just the thought of a partner makes him want to beat the crap out of something. That, and the fact that I nearly beat his records. Make it seem like I wanted to be partnered with him. I didn't even know he was here. I thought he was still in Vice. Oh well, time to go. Thank you Captain.
Seeing the color drain at the thought of being partnered with him, Jim's expression softened a little. He didn't want the kid terrified of him. He may not want a partner, but that didn't mean that he wanted to scare the poor kid. Besides, it was only temporary. Getting up, Jim put a hand on Blair's shoulder. What kind of name is that? The young man tensed only a moment before grabbing his bag and turned to follow Jim out the door. Casting one last look at Simon he mouthed I won't hurt him, promise. With that, he ushered the young man out of the room.
Steering Sandburg toward his desk, Jim watched as the kid looked around the room, trying to get a feel for the place. Waving his hand to get his attention, Jim turned to the empty desk next to his. The desk once belonged to Jim's first -- and only -- partner, Jack Pendergrast.
Years ago, he had gone to make a drop for a kidnapping case, and, up until they discovered the truth a few months ago, it was believed that Jack had run off with the money. As it turned out, he had been killed and his body dumped in a river. They figured out later that Jack had been killed. Major Crimes and IA finally were able to figure out that Jack had been framed by the kidnappers, and then killed. Finally, after close to four years, Jack's name was cleared.
The desk had been unused as an unspoken tribute to the man for the last four years. Now, it was going to have another partner sitting there. I just hope he doesn't end up like Jack, thought Jim as he started to clean off the papers that were covering its surface. Seeing what the older man was doing, Blair hurried over to help.
"So where is everybody? I know that you two can't be the only two here; there are too many used desks. Where do I put these?" he asked, holding up a stack of papers.
"On my desk. Everyone is either not in yet, or out. Probably chasing down leads, arresting bad guys, getting involved in gunfights. You know, usual cop stuff," Jim said, trying to make the so-far quiet man smile. He did. Smiling back, Jim opened the drawer on his desk and pulled out a set of keys.
"This goes to your desk. This one is to your locker. We'll go there next. Then to the rest of the building so you can find your way around. We have the rest of the day off, and the weekend, so we'll head out to lunch and then I'll help you settle into your apartment. We usually try to be in by eight. Some come in earlier, if they have active cases, and need all the time they can get. Ok, that takes care of everything here. Let's go."
Jim headed to the door, grabbing his coat on the way. It took him about three seconds to realize that his partner wasn't with him. Turning, Jim saw him still standing by his new desk.
"What's wrong Chief?"
Eyebrows shooting up for a moment at the nickname, Blair's face returned to the way it was a second ago.
"Well...um...you see...as it turns out...well I..."
"Out with it."
"I...I don't have an apartment. I mean I did, but I don't anymore. I found out when I arrived, it had burned down. By the time someone had tried to contact me, I had already left for the airport. So, much to my surprise, I have nowhere to stay. So as too the putting my stuff in my apartment, that's going to have to wait." Jim watched as a blush rapidly colored the young cop's face before it was hidden behind a veil of curly, shoulder length hair.
Oh great Ellison, nice going, very smooth. Great way to make the kid feel at home after nearly scaring him in Simon's office. Seeing the slump in the kid's shoulders, Jim glanced toward Simon's office. Inside, the big captain was glaring at him. Really taking care of the kid.
"Tell you what, I have a spare room in my loft. You can stay there. It used to be a kind of at-home office for Carolyn while we still married, but after the divorce, it turned into a giant closet. If you help me clean it out, it's yours. All I ask is that you don't leave stuff scattered all over the place, don't hog all the hot water, try not eat all the food..."
Blair couldn't believe his luck. When he arrived this morning, he had no place to stay and was just a little bit nervous as to whether or not he would be accepted or not. During his time at Rainier, he had done extensive research on closed societies and cops were as closed as you could get. But here he was, a cop himself, partnered with the biggest person he had ever seen. He had seen bigger people but somehow, this man just seemed like he was so much larger. He wasn't fat; muscular seemed a better term. His hair was cut close to his head. Smiling, Blair listened as the man in front of him started to list rule after rule. He could see the smile in the other man's eyes, so he knew that he wasn't too serious. Leaning back against his desk, he nodded his head as rule after rule was given to him.
He was still leaning there when two men walked into Major Crimes. At first he didn't even know they were there, until Ellison's eyes flicked from him to someone behind him. Raising his eyebrows, he pushed himself off the desk and turned to see who it was.
Standing by the doorway, jaws slightly open, staring at the pair, were two men. They seemed in shock that Jim would be talking like that to someone who was outside the department. From what Blair had heard, Jim was notorious for being a real pain to be around. Even in New England, people talked about Ellison. He had heard several stories from fellow officers about how Ellison could just look at a man and freeze him in his tracks. Or how he could scare a confession out of someone. Why he agreed to be partnered with me, I'll never know. From what Blair had seen though, you just had to get on Jim's good side.
Turning his attention back to the two men, he smiled. They were still standing there. He coughed, jarring them out of their statue like state. The smaller man reacted first.
"Hey, Jim who's this?" Rafe asked, trying to figure out who the new person was.
"This is my new partner, Detective Blair Sandburg." Jim said, the smile in his eyes moving to his face. "The tall one in the back with his mouth hanging open is Detective Henri Brown. The one with the bug eyes is his partner, Detective Brian Rafe."
There was a snap as Henri closed his mouth and a gulp as Rafe tried to get his eyes back into his head. Laughing into his hand, Blair smiled at the duo. They must make a really great pair.
"Hi, Blair. What did you do to get partnered with Ellison? Crash a patrol car. That's something Jim's really good at. What's the total up to now? Six-seven cars involved in one type of crash or another? I heard the department wouldn't let you on their insurance anymore. Is it true, huh, huh, huh?" said Rafe, trying to get back at Ellison for his comment a moment ago.
Blair turned to his new partner. A slight blush was creeping up on the older man's face. A chuckle began to rise up in his throat. Moments later, it was trying to creep out his mouth. Clamping a hand over his face, he tried to keep it contained, and failed. Laughter spread through out the bullpen, as three of the four men couldn't hold it in. After a moment, the fourth man joined in, a hand on his younger partner's shoulder, glad that he was making such quick friends with the rest of the gang.
Finally getting themselves under control, the two sets of partners went their separate ways, one to their desks, the other to get comfortable with each other. That proved easier than either had thought. Even though they were completely different they got along well.
When they reached the loft, Blair let out a whistle. Glancing at the building, he turned to the larger man next to him.
"Which one's yours?"
"Ours, and it's the top two floors. Let's get going; we had a lot of stuff to move. Then we need to find you a bed, unless you have one?"
"Futon, actually, but it's really comfortable. A dresser too. Will they both fit?" he asked, not wanting to get rid of either.
"Might get a little tight, but they should fit, if we put them in the right way. You can sleep on the couch tonight; we can get the rest tomorrow. Where do you want to go for lunch? There's this great place right up the street, Wonder Burger..."
"Are you nuts? Do you have any idea the amount of fat in their food? Is that what you've been living on? It's amazing you look as fit as you do. There any good health food places around here? Or at least a place that's main ingredient isn't grease?"
How did he survive this long on junk food? Blair thought as Jim thought for a moment.
"There's a Chinese place just up the road, Debbie Wong's. The food there's good and if we hurry, we can make the buffet." What a ham, Blair thought, nearly laughing out loud at the childlike sparkle in the older man's eyes at the thought of Chinese food.
"Alright, alright, let's go. I'm starving. I haven't eaten since like five in the morning, New England time." With that, the green F-150 Ford pulled out of its parking place and headed off to the restaurant.
When they got home, sometime around seven thirty, both men were tired. They had finished their meal around 12:30 and Jim had taken Blair on a tour of the city, showing him most of the local sights. Totally unnecessary; he did spend a few years at Rainier, but he had let the other man think that it was his first time there. Besides, it was fun to see the city again.
"I am bushed. I feel like I could sleep for a million years," said Blair as he and Jim entered the loft. Pulling his jacket off and putting it on the coat rack, he headed to the living room. Right behind him was Jim, two beers in his hands.
"Thanks. When are we going to clean out the spare room?"
"Tomorrow, if you're up to it. How long you been awake? You look like death warmed over."
"You look nice too, jerk," he shot back, ducking the hand that reached out to swat his head. "I've been up since around four in the morning, New England time. So, like midnight Cascade time. I've been on the go all day."
"Why didn't you tell me? I wouldn't have dragged you around the city if I knew you had so little sleep."
"I wanted to see all my old haunts." Somewhere between the open market and Rainier, Jim had figured out that Blair had been to Cascade before. The two had continued, pointing out their favorite shops, restaurants, and bars.
"Ok, ok, you win. But now, sleep. I'll get some spare blankets for you and make up the couch. Bathroom's through that door."
Half an hour later found Blair stretched out on the couch, fast asleep, and Jim on the balcony, looking out over the city. He did it every night. Resting his elbows on the railing, he cast his senses out over the city. It had become like a ritual for him. Get up, go to work, come home, look out over the city, go to sleep. He never pushed too far though; he had a strange habit of blacking out if he pushed them too far.
Sighing, Jim went back inside. Glancing over at the couch he watched as Blair slept on, totally oblivious to the world. Shaking his head, he continued up to his room. Crawling into bed, Jim pulled the covers up to his head and drifted off into dreamland.
He was running. Fast. Through The Jungle. Not just any jungle, but The Jungle. He could tell. He recognized sights and smells that brought back memories from long ago. Racing along side him was a panther. He had dealt with the large jungle cats before, but he felt that this one would not harm him. It seemed more content to run with him, rather than eat him. Looking ahead, he noticed that they were coming up on a clearing.
Coming to a halt, he peered through the leaves. There, in the center of the clearing, was a huge temple. It was at least five stories high, and as wide as a football field. In the clearing were both people and animals. They were in groups all around the clearing, ranging from groups of two, to large semi-circles, gathered around either one or two people. Those in the circles with two people talking were seated in pairs. Those with only one teacher -- he had decided that the speakers were teachers -- more often that not, weren't in partners. They were dressed in a wide variety of clothing, ranging from jeans and a tee shirt to Chopec loin-clothes. There were also large groups of people seated all around the clearing. There were pairs, sitting side-by-side, listening as another talked. Animals were at all of their feet.
The largest of the groups was near him. It had only one person talking, but it seemed like there were more partners there than loners. The teacher obviously had the attention of every one of his students. His hands waved through the air, keeping pace with his talking, no small feat. This guy can talk a mile a minute. His students seem to be taking in what he was saying and trying it. Whatever he was saying, it seemed to work. There were lots of smiles in his group.
Suddenly, one of the people in the group he was watching glanced over in his direction. Grabbing his teacher by the arm, he pointed to where he was hiding. Smiling, the teacher turned and called out.
"Don't be afraid, we mean you no harm. You are one of us and welcome here. We know it can be confusing when your senses first come on-line, but let us help you. There are those who are instructed to help you deal with them, myself included. Come. Let us help you."
He froze. How could that man know where he was hiding? He knew there was no way for him to be able to see him; his Army camos and face paint should have hid him from view. But he did, none the less. Rising, he watched as the panther walked out of the bushes and headed toward the teacher. Sitting by his feet was a wolf, gray in color, and looking like he didn't have a care in the world, stretched out on his side. It glanced up as the panther came closer. As soon as the large cat came close enough, he stretched out his nose and began to sniff. The large cat just stood there, nose-to-nose with what would normally be a mortal enemy. Breaking contact, the black cat sat down next to the wolf, glancing back toward the trees, as if to tell him it was ok to come out.
Stepping out of the bushes, he smiled as the man nodded his head, beckoning him closer. He couldn't make out the man's face, which was strange because he had no problem seeing his companions. Walking closer still he grew slightly frustrated. Why couldn't he see that man's face, when everyone else was crystal clear? He was just about with in talking distance and still he couldn't make out the man. It was if as a shadow had fallen over his face, blocking it from view. Closer still he walked. He was just about face to face the man. But he still couldn't make out his features. Reaching out his hand, he tried to see if the man was even really there.
Just as his hand was going to touch the man's face, Jim shot awake, his heart racing like he had ran miles, breath coming in huge gulps. Reaching up to wipe he sweat from his face, he glanced around the loft. He wasn't in the jungle, he was home. Suddenly, a noise caught his attention. ‘Thump-Dub, Thump-Dub, Thump-Dub'
"What the hell..." he said, reaching over to the end table to turn on the light. Looking around, he tried to figure where the noise was coming from. Grabbing his gun, he started down the stairs; having discovered the noise wasn't up where he had been. Reaching the bottom, he headed toward the bathroom. Opening the door, he looked inside. Nothing. Heading toward the kitchen, he stopped. It was coming from the living room. Slowly walking toward the couch, Jim held his breath. Waiting for the right moment, he lunged, knocking the figure off the couch and onto the floor, trapping it underneath his much larger body. Wrapping the blankets around the squirming shape, he paused when he heard the voice from inside the lump.
"Wha...What the hell...? What's going on? Jim? What in God's name are you doing?"
That's when it hit him. Blair. His new partner was sleeping at his house. Rolling the smaller man, Jim took a deep breath. And another. He watched as his partner tried to untangle himself. Reaching over, Jim lent him a hand.
Forcing his head out from under the mass of blankets covering him, Blair glanced around the room for a moment, trying to figure what had just happened. He had been having a dream about a temple in the jungle. There were people there, but none that he had ever meet before. He was a teacher of some kind there, of that he was sure, but he wasn't sure what he taught. Whatever it was, he remembered that his group had the most people in it. There had been some king of animal, a wolf, sitting by his side.
Oh. My. God. I just meet my spirit animal. Wow.
Then, all of a sudden, one of his students pointed out something in the bushes. Out popped a panther. It walked over to his spirit guide and sat down with him. A moment later, after some coaxing, his partner came out. The man was dressed in Army camos and face paint. It seemed to move around on his face, blocking it from view. The other man slowly came closer. Right before he would have reached him, he was laying on the floor, Jim sitting on top of him, trying to tie him up in his blankets.
"Care to tell me why you woke me up at," he paused, glancing at the clock, "Four thirty in the morning? And why you were trying to tie me up?"
Jim had the grace to look embarrassed. What do I tell him? I woke up because I heard a noise and it was coming from you. Yeah, that'll go over real well. Blair's voice cut through his thoughts.
"I'm waiting. And don't bother lying, I want the truth."
Here it goes. "I heard a noise. I came down to see what it was. I guess I forgot you were sleeping on the couch, and, when I figured out where the noise was coming from, I reacted. Sorry."
"It's ok. Was I snoring or something?" Blair asked, pushing a stray hair out of his face. He was still wrapped in the blanket, but he wanted to know whether or not he was the reason they were both up this late at night. And, if he did snore, he wanted to know.
"No. It was more of a Thump-Dub, Thump-Dub, Thump-Dub noise. You don't snore, trust me, you would have been sleeping in the truck if you snored."
"A Thump-Dub noise? Coming from me?" Seeing the other man nod, he sat back. "A Thump-Dub noise." Then it hit him. Reaching over, Blair grabbed Jim's hand.
"What are you doing?" Jim asked, trying to pull his hand back. Blair just tightened his grip and shook his head.
"Bear with me for a moment. Can you still hear the noise?" Jim nodded. Taking a deep breath, he continued.
"Ok, is it in time with this?" he asked, placing Jim's hand on his throat, right over his pulse.
Jim stopped. There it was, the noise. Locking eyed with his partner, he nodded.
"That's it! That's the noise!"
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