Tell No One
The morning mist swirled around the buildings, caressing the windows and walls with gentle familiarity. Despite the dawn struggling on the horizon the occupants of the buildings had been awake for some time - chanting through the morning prayers and performing their morning chores.
If not for the sound of the monks at morning matins a casual observer would have thought they were looking at a miniature farming village, with several houses dotted together. A few dairy cows were nearby, waiting to be released back to their pastures after being milked, hens clucked in their enclosure, sheep grazed in the distance. There was a cat waiting by the kitchen door.
A man with a gun rose from concealment among the vegetable garden and waved. At the signal several more men with guns emerged, some from the greenhouse, some from the barn, some apparently from thin air as the mist swirled around them. In silence they converged on the chapel - a whitewashed building with narrow windows and a high roof. Once the chapel was surrounded there was a moment of stillness, as the monks chanted their joyful prayers to God. Then the stillness was shattered by a second wave and the chapel was stormed.
Jim looked over at the coffee table and scowled. The evidence of the massacre was still plainly visible -you didn't need Sentinel sight to see that. Blair emerged from the bathroom and stood by Jim's chair, looking over too. Jim pushed his empty breakfast plate to one side and propped his head on his chin.
"So, what do you think you should do?" Blair asked solemnly and Jim tipped his head back to look at his friend. Wet hair, pink glowing skin and a smile that just wouldn't quit. Jim growled and got up, heading for the chessboard and his King. Blair followed at a little distance. It wasn't too often that Jim lost as badly as he did at last nights game of chess, and the detective had insisted that he would think of a way to save the game - hence leaving it set up when they went to bed.
"I concede," Jim tipped his King over in the traditional gesture and Blair nodded, "But tonight I want a rematch."
"You got it," Blair agreed, packing the pieces away, "You really were distracted last night, Jim. Anything I should know about?"
"Things are just tense at the station. You know that case I was telling you about? It's just getting to everyone. I couldn't get it out of my head. You know Chief, I'm glad midterms are finished now. You always seem to make things easier when a bad case comes up like this. Simon was asking when you'd come in again," Jim accepted the chess board from Blair and put it up on the bookshelf nearest the couch - close enough for them to grab easily when the mood for chess struck them. This set was Jim's - a gift from his maternal grandfather. Blair's battered set now sat in the truck for stakeouts.
Blair headed into the kitchen to make his breakfast shake and Jim went back to his coffee. Blair's face was thoughtful as he puttered around in the kitchen and Jim watched him closely, knowing he'd said something that had made Blair think twice and wondering what it was.
"So I guess Simon wants the Shaman in me, not Blair," Blair said without turning as he poured the shake into a glass. Jim froze for a second and thought about it. A Shaman was traditionally responsible for the health and spiritual well being of the tribe - and the team at Major Crimes was the tribe Blair had most contact with. Blair-as-Shaman visited regularly, and as far as Jim knew no one had noticed.
"I suppose," Jim replied when Blair turned to look at him, "After all, they're hurting in there. Can you do it? It always takes so much out of you to redirect the mood like that, and you've been so busy lately."
"I'll be fine," Blair drained the last of his shake and started cleaning up, "You go on ahead - I want to change and grab some things on the way to the station. See you at work, ok?"
"Sure," Jim put the mug in the sink and grabbed his jacket, "Don't be too long … I… I could use a Shaman fix too."
Jim was out the door before the echo died - a little embarrassed at the admission that Blair hadn't been able to cure his depressed mood last night with dinner and chess.
"I'm right behind you, Jim," Blair's voice floated down the corridor after him and Jim felt a little tension release itself - his friend always knew what was needed, everything would be fine.
Simon repressed a sigh of disappointment when Jim showed up alone. The Captain of Major Crimes tried to remind himself that midterms were rough for the kid - taking and giving tests at the same time was enervating - and it stood to reason that Blair would need a day off to recover, maybe a couple of days. Jim settled into his desk and logged onto the mainframe, pulling some reports over and starting to enter them half-heartedly. Rafe and Brown sat at their desks and bickered with each other over a case - not the usual constructive bickering that let them try out new ideas, but a bitter angry bickering that only increased their frustration with the case and each other.
Simon shook his head and headed over to break it up, wondering idly when he became so dependent on the weird little hippie to help keep his team's morale up.
Blair stepped through the doors, dropped the ever-present backpack next to Jim's desk, and a pastry from the box he carried onto the desk beside the keyboard. He breezed over towards Rafe and Brown, scattering pastry as he went and winking at Simon as he snagged a spare chair and sat between the two men.
"Hey, guys, what's up?" Blair smiled and the mood lightened a little.
Jim watched as Simon retreated back into his office with the pineapple Danish that Blair had handed him. Rafe was already leaning back, the tense posture melting away as Brown's voice lightened from a growl to a faint grumble. Blair let them snipe and complain their way through the case and spouted off enough anthro speak to crack the mood. Halfway through recounting a witness interview Brown's face lit up and he started bickering with Rafe again - the good bickering that led to them grabbing their coats and hurrying from the bull pen. By that time Blair was already chatting to Rhonda over a shared pastry - she was on a diet and he was watching his cholesterol intake again. He disappeared into Simon's office for a brief moment and was roared out, grinning from ear to ear cheekily and getting grins in reply. By the time he sat at Jim's desk the sounds of the bullpen had changed for the better.
"Hey Jim, sorry I'm late," Blair said easily and snagged the file Jim was working on, "What are we doing today?"
"The DiMarco case comes up in court in two days. I've got to get this paperwork finished before I go to court," Jim replied and Blair dropped the file back on the desk, snagged the next three and scooted over to the spare computer. He winked at Jim, logged on with Jim's ID and started typing. People stopped by the desk to talk to him - Blair had a smile and a joke for everyone. He typed without pause, cracking comments to Jim about bad handwriting, poor spelling and grammatical rules - Jim would razz back as he plugged away at his own terminal.
Rafe and Brown came back with an arrest and plans to take everyone to dinner at Denny's Bar and Grill that night. Jim took Blair out to lunch happily - his own depression totally cured by the banter Blair had initiated all morning.
The afternoon flew by and Simon came out at five to hunt everyone into the elevator good-naturedly - collaring Brown and Rafe before they could pretend to forget their wallets and not show up. The bar was busy, but it didn't matter - by now they were operating on a mild high as Blair kept the jokes and teasing up. They parted ways at ten and Jim drove back to the loft happily. He beat Blair home and turned down the covers in his Shaman's room, boiling water for a soothing tea blend and turning the heat up a little so his Shaman would be warm. Blair staggered in exhausted, accepted the tea in a daze and sipped it sitting on the edge of his bed while Jim undid his shoes and pulled them off. Jim took the shoes and coat out of the room while Blair changed and came back for the now empty mug. Blair was already asleep.
Jim straightened the lax body, covered it with blankets and left the door slightly ajar.
"You did good, Shaman," Jim said quietly, and went to see about some dinner. Chess could wait for another night.
Simon frowned at the report in front of him and looked up at his visitor.
"And you say that they kidnapped one of them and just … disappeared?" he asked and the tall thin man nodded, hitching a shoulder in reply. His uniform was crisp and clean, yet showing signs of wear. He didn't seem at all intimidated by the scowl he was receiving or the unfamiliar surroundings.
"That's right Captain. We called the Feds in and they've had a look around and left us a Johnny-on-the-spot to report back if we get a ransom demand. But the head honcho over there asked me to contact your departmental observer right away - and to be honest I could use some real help with this one. My people just aren't up to anti-terrorism and neither am I," his voice was clear and firm and his moustache quivered while he spoke. Simon nodded and looked out into the bullpen just as Jim and Blair came in.
"Here he is. You're in luck - they wouldn't normally be available, but Ellison's been in court the last two days," Simon got up and walked to his door, beckoning his detective and observer in with his customary bellow. Jim entered first, as usual and Simon watched him pause for a brief instant to assess the visitor as a possible threat to his Guide. The Sentinel always came out to play when something unexpected intruded on daily life and Simon had become deft at spotting the subtle change in behavior. Then Jim nodded politely and moved aside, letting Blair have his own space. As usual they were dressed in polar opposites - Jim in slacks shirt and sport coat, Blair in jeans and layers of flannel.
"Sheriff Baker this is Detective Jim Ellison, and Major Crimes' Observer Blair Sandburg," Simon introduced them and Jim stepped forward to shake the Sheriff's hand while Blair blinked at his official title before grinning and shaking hands too.
"Pleased to meet you," Blair said easily, "Where are you from, Sheriff?"
"Wilstown," Baker replied, "Just a couple of hours away on the interstate. You know it?"
Simon bristled - was the guy trying to test his people's honesty here? Blair didn't notice Simon, but Jim shot him a sharp glance and paid a little more attention to the man in front of them.
"I've driven through it a few times on my way to St. Sebastians," Blair nodded, "Do you know any of the brothers there?"
"Yes he does," Simon interrupted and handed Jim the Sheriff's file. Jim began flipping through it as Baker answered Simon's challenge.
"It seems that the brothers are in a bit of trouble, Mr. Sandburg. Two days ago they were surrounded by unidentified armed men during their morning prayers and attacked. No one was killed but one of them was abducted. The Abbot asked me to contact you about it," Baker stated calmly, "What precisely is your connection to the Monastery?"
"My father lives there," Blair sounded horrified, "My God - was Father Jeremy hurt?"
"Wait a minute - Jeremy's your father?" Jim blurted in shock and Simon closed his mouth with a snap. Blair tracked his eyes to Jim's face and shook his head absently. His face was pale with the beginning of shock.
"No, Marcus," he corrected, "C'mon Jim, you must have noticed the last time we were there - we do have a slight resemblance."
Jim sat as if his legs had given way and Blair patted his Sentinel's shoulder absently. Simon frowned and came to sit down as well. Blair's hand on Jim's shoulder was trembling noticeably.
"This is the Marcus that…" he made a vague gesture and Jim nodded. Brother Marcus had once been a mobster - had even ordered several deaths. Jim and Blair had gone to St. Sebastians for a retreat - Blair had wanted to recharge Jim's batteries and thought the Monastery would do the trick. The plan had worked until an assassin started killing the monks in an effort to preserve his cover and get to Marcus. They'd been caught in the middle. Simon and the team had teased Jim unmercifully for weeks afterwards and Blair had been very quiet on the subject. He'd never taken Jim back to the Monastery, though he'd gone himself. Jim hadn't been willing to push them into talking about Blair's visits. The Monastery had been a nice place for a brief time - Jim was waiting for the right moment to bring up a return visit.
"Father Jeremy was concussed," Baker looked at the three of them as if they'd gone mad and chose to focus on the obviously shocked observer, "Brother Marcus was abducted - you say he's your father?"
"He wasn't always a monk," Blair said quickly, "And my mom … well never mind. Uh, Jim … I have to get down there - I have to try and help find him. You won't mind, will you? I'll be careful and call to tell you what's going on…"
"The hell you will," Jim growled, "I'm going too - you'll need help tracking down whoever did this. Simon, can you give me a few days?"
"I can do better than that. Sheriff Baker came up to request support in this case and you two are it. Go find out what happened and let me know," Simon replied quickly, looking in concern at Blair as he tried not to hyperventilate. Jim accepted gratefully and looked over at Baker.
"We'll grab our gear and meet you at the Monastery - it should take us about four hours. Can we do that?" Jim asked and the Sheriff nodded. He seemed to sense that the Cascade cops needed a moment alone with their observer because he took his leave very quickly and headed on out. The minute the door closed behind him Simon jumped up and guided Blair to a seat while Jim poured a coffee and moved to Blair's side. He put an arm around the trembling shoulders and held the cup to the other's lips.
"Don't try to talk, Chief, just sip this for me. That's the way," Jim coached as Blair sipped his eyes unfocussed, "Just take it easy here. You're working yourself into a panic attack - you need to find your center and focus for me ok? You're no good to us with your head in a bag, so just calm down. Sip some more for me buddy … good, that's good … slow breaths Chief, that's it … there you go …sip it again … that's it."
After ten minutes Blair was back. Though still tense, the danger of the panic attacker was past, and Simon rubbed his shoulder gently, trying to soothe him. He never wanted to witness a full-blown panic attack - just the few symptoms he'd seen here were scary enough. Simon began to understand why Jim was so protective of his partner.
"You doing better, Sandburg?" Simon asked gruffly and received a shaky smile in reply.
"Yeah," Blair breathed, "Talk about being an idiot. Sorry Jim, that was a stupid thing to do."
"I understand Chief. You were worried," Jim squeezed the shoulders his arm was wrapped around, "Can you tell me…"
Blair stood up and put the coffee mug on the desk before walking to stand with his back to Simon's door. He smiled again - still a shaky imitation of the usual billion-watt grin, but better than nothing.
"Mom was working as a librarian - sort of like an apprenticeship I guess. She met Brother Marcus at a function held at the library - you know one of those feel good things that they hold for the upper class. They got along real well and I was the result of that. When she found out she went to tell him and overheard some things that made her suspicious. She packed up town and left. I guess he gave up looking after a while - I was born in sixty nine and all his trouble started in the early seventies," Blair said it quickly and calmly, "Jim I always said I didn't know my father and I don't - he's more like a sperm donor, you know? But he saw me one day at Rainer and we got to talking. We figured it out for ourselves and I confronted Naomi on it - he never told me about his former life, just that he was trying to atone for the past mistakes. I respected that. Jim, when you started talking about mobsters that time - I guess I should have said something then, but I wasn't sure and how the hell do you accuse your father of something like that anyway?"
"Breathe dammit," Jim held up his hands, "It's ok, Chief - I'm not mad at you so just take it easy."
Blair sighed a deep breath out and Jim kept on talking.
"You're right - I'd never expect you to accuse your own father of doing something that bad, even if you weren't that close. He doesn't know how lucky he is to have you," Jim said gently, "And if you remember we thought it was Jeremy for a while. So calm down again. Let's go get our stuff and get to St. Sebastians."
"Gods, do you think it was a mob related thing? Like last time?" Blair blurted and Jim sighed, going over and pulling Blair into a hug. He rocked them a little and said nothing, waiting until Blair calmed down again. Jim outlined the plan again and this time Blair managed a nod.
"Be careful guys and keep me informed," Simon spoke up and Jim nodded as he released Blair.
"You got it Captain," Jim agreed and steered Blair out.
Blair slept on the way to the loft and woke only enough to pack a few clothes in his duffel before collapsing back into sleep for the drive to Wilstown. The panic attack on top of the stress of school and his stint as Shaman to Major Crimes had drained the last of his energy reserves and Jim was glad to watch over his sleep. The drive on the interstate wasn't taxing and it left Jim plenty of time to ponder his newest clue to the puzzle that was Blair Sandburg.
Jim came to no conclusions on that drive - other than to grimly promise himself that they'd find Brother Marcus no matter what condition he was in, and to catch the men responsible.
Blair woke up as Jim switched off the engine in front of the Abbey and he looked around fuzzily for a moment before taking a deep breath and scrubbing one hand over his face. He looked over at Jim and smiled contritely.
"You should have woken me Jim - I would have helped you with the driving," he apologized and Jim patted his arm before opening the door.
"It's ok Chief - the drive was easy and I'm not too tired," Jim got out and looked across the hood as the door opened and Father Jeremy stepped out. His head sported a square white bandage and his cheek on the right of his face was purple. He smiled lopsidedly when he saw them and walked over slowly.
"Father Jeremy!" Blair exclaimed and hauled his bag out of the truck, shutting the door and hurrying over with a hand out. Jeremy took the hand and pulled Blair in for a gentle hug before stepping back to shake Jim's hand.
"How are you Father?" Jim asked in concern and Jeremy sighed.
"I'll mend soon," he dismissed his injuries, "A lot faster than the windows for our chapel - those men stormed in through them and destroyed Brother Marcus pride and joy."
"Not the Madonna," Blair sighed in sympathy, "It took him years to make that."
"Yes, the Madonna is gone," Jeremy was leading them inside and down the passages to the cell they'd stayed in before, "We were lucky no one was kneeling before her - they'd have been cut to ribbons by the glass. Here you are - Jim, I've given you the same cell as before."
"Thanks, Father," Jim glanced at the unchanged room and smiled at the Abbot, "If you don't mind, Blair and I should look around a little - reacquaint ourselves and look at the chapel."
"Of course, Brother Jim. It is why I asked for you to come … About your gun - all I ask is that you keep it concealed and safe. Obviously I cannot object to your protection this time," Jeremy smiled a little sadly, "We had come to think of ourselves as safe from the violence of the outside world. This … violation … has proven us to be sadly wrong."
"I'm sorry, Father," Jim said impulsively and Jeremy smiled a little more genuinely at him.
"You cannot apologize for another's actions, Brother Jim. But I thank you for it," Jeremy turned and walked away slowly. Blair came to stand close by Jim, needing to connect with his Sentinel for a moment. Jim put a hand on Blair's shoulder and sighed.
"C'mon Chief, I want a look at the chapel and the woods near here - before the Sheriff arrives."
The chapel had been swept up and tidied, but the gaping windows spoke eloquently of the invasion and abduction of Brother Marcus. Jim swept the place from top to bottom, but being open to the elements had wiped all useful traces from the interior and the Sheriff and monks had been diligent in removing any traces from the exterior.
"So, there's no fragments of yaks wool to lead us the right way?" Blair disguised his disappointment with the weak joke and Jim rewarded him with a faint chuckle.
"Sorry, Chief - they forgot to drop their itenary too," he went along with it and Blair slapped his elbow lightly in reply. Sheriff Baker pulled up in his official car and got out, hurrying over to the two men from Cascade.
"You made good time gentlemen," he said in greeting and looked over at the chapel, "You went in?"
"Yeah - thought we should at least see the scene of the crime," Blair sighed and looked around the peaceful compound again. Jim frowned over at the woods he wanted to search, but turned instead to listen to the Sheriff as he reconstructed the scene as the monks had described it.
"Where's your FBI agent?" Jim asked when the Sheriff finished and got a derisive snort.
"In his hotel room watching cable and ordering room service. He's not really convinced we'll hear from the kidnappers and to be honest Brother Marcus…" the Sheriff trailed off in deference to Blair - suddenly remembering that the observer was the missing man's son.
"He's probably dead," Blair said steadily, "They have no reason to keep him alive."
"And every reason to want him dead," the Sheriff nodded, "I don't understand why he wasn't relocated - after all the man was a protected witness."
"This was his calling, not his disguise," Blair said simply, "He didn't want to leave his family."
Jim bit back a comment about family, knowing his Guide was in no condition for a verbal sparring match right now - at least not about Marcus' devotion to his vows. A monk Jim had never met came and asked the Sheriff inside to speak to Father Jeremy and Jim snagged Blair's jacket unobtrusively. When the Sheriff was out of earshot Jim looked down at his friend.
"C'mon Sandburg - I want to take a look at the grounds and the woods," he said and Blair nodded. Jim let go of his jacket and Blair tucked himself into his usual position, behind Jim's right shoulder, a step back and to the side. Blair took this place whenever they were working in the field - it let him see around Jim, but also put him in a position his Sentinel could defend if they needed it. He was also in easy touching distance - necessary to ground Jim when the Sentinel was deploying his senses fully.
They were silent until they got to the woods and then Jim asked the question he'd been dreading for the last few hours.
"Chief, do you know of any reason for Brother Marcus to be taken like this?"
Blair was silent for a moment before sighing and shaking his head.
"Not really," he confessed, "If I had to guess it would be about the money. I think Brother Marcus had some money tucked away - you know ill-gotten gains. I know that the last time they were trying to kill him, but I guess that was because they thought they had found all his money. Last time I was here he mentioned something about a trust he had set up for … he called them his 'misfortunates'. I kind of inferred he'd set up some king of compensation for the survivors of his victims."
"Did he say how big a trust?" Jim asked curiously as they walked through the woods. Blair frowned, chewing his lip and sweeping the area with his eyes as he thought.
"Not really … I just didn't press the issue, Jim. It wasn't a comfortable subject for either of us. Sorry," he sighed and Jim stopped, turning to make eye contact.
"Don't apologize for that Blair," Jim said firmly, "Hell, I barely speak to my dad - at least you were trying. And there was no way you could predict this would happen. I just had to ask. I'm guessing the money must be a lot for them to go to this trouble, but it doesn't matter in the scheme of things. Let's just find him, ok?"
"Gotcha," Blair grinned, wondering if Jim knew how good Blair felt to have someone care that much about him, "So where were we?"
Jim smiled at the brilliant glow in his friend's eyes and turned back the way they had been going.
"I've got a faint trail here - a lot of people passed by recently in a hurry with a burden, but it's not a regular traffic area," Jim replied, "I want to see where it goes."
"Lead on McDuff," Blair gestured and fell in behind Jim again as they started walking.
The trails led deeper into the woods and finally up into the foothills. Jim had to admire their fitness - Brother Marcus was not a small or light man, and they'd obviously carried him most of the way. Jim forced the pace and heard Blair keep up behind him. The Sentinel had totally lost track of time and space by the time they found the cabin.
Jim dropped down into shelter behind a clump of bushes and Blair dropped down too, breathing hard and trying to be quieter.
"What?" Blair gasped out when coherent speech was possible and Jim frowned down at him.
"They're in the cabin down there - I count eight strong heartbeats and one that's too fast," Jim replied softly, and watched Blair peer in the right general direction, "Chief? What's wrong with your eyes?"
Blair huffed out a soft laugh and turned to Jim, his whole face amused, sweaty and a little grimy.
"It's dark, Jim. The moon's up already. You've been towing me along for the past two hours - ever since the sun went down. Your eyes have compensated automatically while you were in full hunting mode," Blair replied with a grin and shook his head, "I'd have stopped you, but your senses were working perfectly and I wanted to find Brother Marcus tonight. Close your mouth."
Jim closed his mouth and focused on the world at large for a moment. His Guide was right - by normal standards it was quite dark and more than a little chilly. What seemed to be a single hurricane lamp and the light from the wood fire that was heating the main area lighted the cabin. Blair put his hands on Jim's arm and leaned over.
"I want you to tell me where everyone is in there," he commanded, "Open up your hearing for me, and piggyback your smell to distinguish their scents."
Jim sent his senses out obediently and mapped out the cabin - even using the echoes from the voices to place furniture and walls. The first time he'd heard about the Bat Echo Trick he'd thought Blair was having him on, but as time went by the suggestion had played in Jims subconscious, leading to his conscious use of sound echoes to map a place he couldn't see into. Blair had been unobtrusive in his support, gradually demanding more of the burgeoning skill to develop it. This stood them in good stead now.
"Five men. They're sitting at a table near the fire playing poker. They've been giving Marcus drugs to make him talk, but he hasn't cracked yet. He's up in the loft - it's unheated and it will lower his resistance tomorrow. The cabin has two rooms - the main one where they are and sleeping quarters. No modern conveniences. There's no one on watch."
"Can we get to Marcus without them knowing? Use you sight too now," Blair changed his grip, putting one hand on the back of Jim's neck. Jim let the contact of Blair's flesh anchor him even further and scanned what he could see of the cabin.
"There's a way - you'll have to be careful," Jim nodded, and stood up quietly, "C'mon."
Blair wondered why - when he was the one who was afraid of heights - he always ended up in trees. Switchman - tree. Peru - a lot of trees. Did Jim end up in a tree? No, of course not. Blair told his gibbering brain to shut up and concentrate or they'd fall out of the tree and was relieved when it listened to him.
Jim was nearby, directing Blair with hand signals to the loose shingles he'd seen in the loft roof. The plan was to move them and climb in, collect Marcus and climb out. Blair was glad his bar mitzvah present had been a pocketknife and not a copy of the Torah. If Marcus were tied up his copy of the Torah wouldn't be much use … Concentrate dammit!
The shingles moved easily and noiselessly - though Jim was making little shh movements down there. Blair made a face - he knew the Sentinel could see him clearly - and carefully lowered himself into the loft. Luck was with them - Marcus lay nearby, shivering hard and wrists bound behind his back.
Blair cut the rope and then moved carefully to rouse the drugged man. Marcus seemed confused - naturally - but more than willing to accept the need for silence and slow movement. Jim appeared at the hole in the roof - right on time - and together they pulled Marcus out and helped him down the tree. Blair put the shingles back in place and pocketed the frayed rope gleefully - let them figure that out!
Jim was already heading away from the cabin. They'd both agreed to get away first, then head for civilization - following a predictable route would just get them caught. With a bit of luck the Sheriff would be able to get reinforcements to the cabin in time. There was no way to predict when Marcus absence would be discovered by the men in the cabin, but both Jim and Blair were determined to get as much of a head start as they could.
Marcus made an unwieldy companion, but Jim was reluctant to carry the monk - walking would keep him warm and work the drugs out of his system quicker. Blair supported his side stoically; murmuring reassurance and encouragement as they half stumbled half ran along the ridge. Marcus clutched his jacket in a fierce grip and appeared to be praying. The two voices made it difficult for Jim to extend his hearing, and he had to silence them once or twice as he listened back to the cabin. After two hours Jim noticed some rocky ground ahead and hitched his nearly unconscious burden a little closer.
"Chief," Jim gasped after an hour, "We're gonna have to stop - Marcus is at the end of his rope and we could both do with a rest."
"Yeah," was all Blair could manage to gasp. Jim marveled at the resilience of the smaller man.
"Head for the rocks - no tracks to leave and possibly some shelter," Jim urged and Blair huffed at him.
"Jim - blind as a bat here," Blair reminded him with a caustic edge to his voice. The Guide was too tired to marvel at his Sentinels ability to see in almost pitch darkness without conscious effort. Jim huffed an apologetic breath and led the way. Well into the rocky outcropping Jim found a fairly deep overhang and got all three men under it - with Marcus supported in the middle to give him the benefit of their body warmth.
"Get some sleep, Chief. I'll keep an ear open too," Jim urged and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. He was dozing in seconds.
Dawn saw them better. Marcus was coherent, though still weak and Blair was able to see where they were going. Jim got them moving fairly quickly - promising coffee and eggs when they got to safety. Blair grinned and told Jim he'd run if Jim would promise to have bacon and toast available as well.
They supported Marcus between them again and walked as quickly as possible. By now the men in the cabin were bound to have missed their prisoner. To distract Marcus from the painful necessity of moving Blair asked why the monk had been kidnapped.
"Money," Marcus sighed, "I had some stashed in a fund. In the case of my death it would be given to the survivors of my victims. I guess the cartel wants it back."
"You were right Chief," Jim nodded and Blair sighed. He was uncomfortable with the two sides to Brother Marcus. It was hard to associate a mobster with the gentle monk.
"Blair - I cannot thank you enough," Marcus began but was shushed. Blair concentrated on where they were going, looking only straight ahead as he spoke.
"Its ok - Father Jeremy asked for us to come and we were glad to do it - right Jim?"
"Son…" Marcus said sadly and Blair tensed a little, "You are my son Blair. I know you said you weren't looking for a father and I'm proud to be your friend…"
"Stop it, ok? This is what friends do. Remember how I told you I went to Peru with Jim and Simon and Daryl? Well we didn't all go together. That sight seeing stuff I told you about was afterwards, when Daryl and Simon were safe. They'd been taken too, and I jumped out of a plane to follow Jim when he went looking for them. That's what I'd do for a friend, Brother Marcus - that's what I'm doing now," Blair said it sharply, and Jim took advantage of the little silence that followed to cast his senses out. Forest sounds greeted him, then a crackle of a radio.
"Stop a moment," Jim said sharply and Blair peered around Marcus to monitor his Sentinel, raising a quieting hand when the monk started to ask what was wrong. Jim listened intently, zooming in on the sound and then focusing on the words coming over the radio. He grinned in relief and met Blairs worried eyes.
"Ranger station a mile that way," Jim gestured, "Lets go."
"Thank God," Marcus breathed and Jim added a silent amen to that.
The Ranger was more than happy to let them use his radio. Jim organized for the Ranger to take them into town.
They dropped Marcus at the hospital under guard and took the Sheriff, all his deputies and the suddenly enthusiastic FBI agent as well as his stubborn Guide back into the woods to locate and capture Marcus attackers.
It was almost anticlimactic; Jim mused as he walked down the hall of the Monastery towards the courtyard that led to the chapel.
The hired kidnappers had been easy to find - only one of them was a woodsman. They'd been taken with almost no gunplay at all and no injuries to either group.
Marcus was back in the Monastery, working a few hours a day on repairing his windows.
Blair spent that time with him, mostly in silence.
Simon had agreed to leave time for Jim, and the last week had been spent working in the greenhouse with Father Jeremy. The Sentinel's thumbs were surprisingly green and there were no pesticides or toxins for Jim to worry about in the hydroponics.
Dawn greeted Jim as he stepped out into the cold crisp morning and he smiled at the sound of the morning prayers being chanted. The sound caressed his ears, soothing and joyful at the same time. Today was his last day of leave, and Jim knew he'd come back - Father Jeremy had made it clear he was welcome at any time.
Blair was waiting by the chapel as he did every morning. The lapsed catholic and multi-religious man didn't join the monks' morning prayers - they were welcome too, but neither felt the calling and so they celebrated each morning as the Shaman decreed.
They walked towards the chapel's garden and faced each other. Jim mirrored the shaman's stance and took a deep cleansing breath. Gently at first and then with more energy they began to move fluidly through the tai chi form that Blair was slowly teaching Jim. The monks' prayers caressed them as they almost floated through the form.
Jim let himself be lost in the moment, knowing that his friends in Major Crimes would never truly understand how it was that Jim 'hard case' Ellison came to be practicing tai chi at dawn in the garden chapel of a Christian Monastery with a Jewish Shaman and feel good about it. It was just something that he could tell no one.
Author's note: this isn't my idea - thank you to the person who suggested it to me. I hope you enjoyed it. Feedback welcome.J
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