Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

No Way!

by Arianna

Beta by StarWatcher

For Hopeanne
Who contributed so much to Moonridge for a
single missing scene or epilogue,
I thought she deserved to get all three of her options in return.

Hope wanted to know how, in Night Train, Blair knew Jim wasn't dead…

With Special Appreciation to Becky, for her great transcripts!

********************

Holding Jim's weapon in both hands, straining to hear what was going on outside in the corridor, Blair swallowed hard and sent up a fervent prayer that nothing bad was going to happen. He heard the sound of scuffling – and jumped nervously at the sharp rap on the stateroom door.

"Who is it?" he demanded, feeling sick and trembling as he brought the weapon up. This was not good. This was so not good.

"Detective Ellison?" Isabel called.

But Blair shook his head, his gaze flicking to her and Wilson, and then back to the door. "If it was him, he would have said something." God, what had happened out there? Who the hell was at the door? Whoever it was knocked again, more sharply, sounding impatient. "JIM?" Blair yelled, hoping against hope that maybe they had just gotten the drop on his friend, but that Jim was still out there, would still take charge.

"Maybe he's hurt," Isabel suggested anxiously.

Blair's jaw tightened; he didn't want to think about that. Didn't even want to concede the possibility.

Shifting his stance, he locked his arms to hold the heavy pistol steady. "Oh, man," he breathed, scared and feeling sick. "I might have to shoot somebody." Jim had left him in charge, trusting him to do whatever had to be done. Nodding to himself, he squared his shoulders. "Okay," he murmured, not even aware he'd spoken aloud.

So intent was he on the door, on who might be out there and what might happen next, that he was completely blindsided when Wilson suddenly shouted, "Put that gun away!" and attacked him out of left field. Startled, off-balance, Blair felt the weapon being plucked from his hands before he hardly knew what was happening. He whirled toward Wilson, intending to grab it back, but was brought up short when he saw the business end of Jim's pistol pointing straight at him. He lifted his hands defensively. What the hell is going on here?!

"Derek? Derek, what are you doing?" Isabel cried, sounding shocked and very confused. But Blair didn't get much comfort out of knowing that he wasn't the only one who was more than slightly stunned by this unexpected turn of events.

Gesturing with the pistol, Wilson ordered, "Sit. Sit!"

Blair slowly put out an arm to guide Isabel back toward the seats behind them. Wasn't like they had much choice but to do as they were told.

"Are you nuts, man?!" Blair hissed, with a sharp glance at the door. Hell, he thought he was supposed to protect this guy – kinda hard when Wilson didn't seem to want the protection. Man, Jim was not going to be happy about this.

"You know how long we worked on that plea bargain?" Isabel demanded, evidently still too confused to think straight. So far as Blair could see, good old Derek didn't seem to care much about the original deal. Seemed he had other plans.

When Wilson opened the door to let in two dangerous-looking strangers, Blair rolled his eyes. Man, they'd sure gotten this script wrong. Here, they'd thought they were protecting the chicken from the foxes, only it turned out they were the chickens and the fox had been inside with them. Could things get any worse?

"What happened?" Wilson asked the strangers, while he kept the pistol firmly pointed at them.

The shorter, younger guy sneered with smug satisfaction. "We threw him out the window."

"Oh, my god," Isabel gasped.

Blair gaped at the guy and felt fury erupt. "You son of a bitch!" he cursed, livid with rage. God damn it! Jim was only trying to protect this worthless, ungrateful turkey – and they'd thrown him off the train! And then the implications of that hit him, and he felt cold to his marrow. Jim … what if Jim ….

NO! No way. No fucking way. Jim was fine. Shook up some, sure. Probably bruised pretty badly. But he was a warrior, military and police-trained. He was in top shape and knew how to fall, how to roll, how to absorb whatever came at him and keep going. Hell, in the few weeks since he'd met the man, Jim had jumped onto a speeding bus from an overpass – and, and had fallen through how many rotten floors in that creepy warehouse. That sure hadn't stopped him. Hadn't even slowed him down. He'd gotten right up and kept fighting. And had enough left to race back up five or six flights of stairs to carry Blair down and out of the warehouse.

Falling off a train – huh, piece of cake for a guy like Jim, right? No big deal. They did it in movies and on TV all the time, like that movie, Silver Streak; and McCormick had been thrown off the train he and Hardcastle had been on at least three times. Okay, so that was make-believe – but the stunt men had done it, right? If stunt men could fall off any number of trains and get up and walk away, Jim sure in hell could do the same. Man, these guys thought Jim was out of the game. But he'd probably just rolled when he hit the ground, come back up on his feet and was running to jump back on before they knocked on the door the first time. Yeah, yeah. Jim was fine. Better than fine. He'd probably show up any minute and deal with these jerks.

Blair swallowed hard against the churning in his gut. Anytime, man. Feel free to show up anytime now, okay?

Jim was fine, just fine. He'd know if … if …. With a tight shake of his head, Blair banished the thought. Jim was okay. He just had to be okay.

Wilson's harsh voice broke into his whirling thoughts. "Give me your hand. Give me your hand!" he ordered impatiently. Staring daggers at him, Blair held out one hand and scrunched sideways as Wilson snapped on the cuff that was looped behind the metal strut under their seats, its mate attached to Isabel's wrist. While normally Blair wouldn't mind being so 'attached' to a beautiful woman, this entire situation was pissing him right off.

But his gaze transferred to Isabel, and he again rolled his eyes when she practically lectured, "Derek, we got you a really good deal. You are already home free. What are you doing?" Man, she was pretty, and she couldn't be as dumb as she sounded, but she clearly didn't get it. Old Derek here evidently didn't think the deal was so hot.

"Home free?" Wilson scoffed, confirming Blair's view of Wilson's take on the deal. "You really think I was going to spend the rest of my life cooped up in some small town pulling a government pension? Please. I skimmed enough from Murdock to last me two lifetimes. Anyway, even if they do manage to, uh, get a conviction, guys that rich don't stay in jail for long. Witness protection? That means records. He'd find me, And he'd kill me. I guarantee it."

Shaking his head, still trying to fulfill Jim's faith in him, hoping to maybe salvage something here, Blair interjected urgently, "You don't understand. It's happening now. Murdock really does know you're on the train."

Wilson laughed disparagingly. "Remember, Mr. Sandburg, I'm better at games than you are."

"Come on," Blair argued. "How else could I know that those guys were outside the door?"

Shrugging, Wilson retorted, "Maybe Ellison saw them when he was out there before and figured something was up."

But the short, smug guy shook his head and said emphatically, "That's impossible."

Apparently unwilling to let go of his reassuring theory – reassuring for himself, anyway, Wilson challenged, "You all have records. He's a detective. Why not?"

"Because we were careful," the guy snarled, evidently not appreciating the slur on his professionalism.

Blair thought they were all idiots and was fast getting sick of the whole stupid situation. "Face it, Derek. There is somebody on this train who is going to kill you. If Murdock can find you in the witness protection program, he can also find you here, right?"

"Okay, so what?" Wilson allowed, though the idea that Blair might be right seemed to make him understandably nervous. His voice rose in agitation. "I should just fold? No, no, I've got too much invested for that." Waving his rescuers back into the hall, he commanded imperiously, "Let's go."

Not willing to give up, Isabel urged, "Look, if you give this up right now, I'm sure we can cut you a really good deal. For all of you!"

Blair gaped at her. Was she for real? These guys had pushed Jim off the fucking train, were holding them at gunpoint, and had them handcuffed, for God's sake, and she was still trying to make a deal? Man, she just never quit. In a twisted sort of way, given the circumstances, he kinda admired her single-mindedness. Besides, if Derek here thought they might still be of some use, maybe he wouldn't simply shoot them to ensure there were no witnesses left behind.

The two goons left the room, but Wilson lingered. "You really think the D.A.'s going to go for that? After Detective Ellison's little accident?" He shook his head. "No. I closed that door when I stole from Murdock."

"You're making a big mistake, man," Blair told him, but he was resigned to the fact that they were wasting their time. Besides, this guy was responsible for Jim being dumped off the train, so Blair wasn't particularly inclined to do him any favours. Murdock, or someone he'd hired, was out there. Blair was certain of that. And Wilson would soon know what a really huge mistake his thugs had made when they'd pushed the only guy who might have saved his life off the damned train.

"Maybe so," Wilson agreed with a thin smile, clearly choosing to believe what he wanted. "Anyway, nothing personal. Enjoy the ride," he added as he went out the door, shutting it behind him.

Isabel sagged back against the seat. "Boy, he sure had me fooled."

"Yeah, join the club," Blair agreed bitterly. "Man, this sucks! I am definitely not having a good time."

"Neither rain nor sleet..." Isabel chanted with determined cheerfulness.

"Hey, first of all, that's the Post Office motto," Blair retorted. "And, second, I'm just along for the ride." Yanking at the cuff, he was totally disgusted with the whole stupid situation, not least of which was that the supposedly secret escort operation was, apparently, only secret to other law enforcers. Every crook in the neighborhood certainly seemed to know what was going down. Jim was going to be so pissed when he found out Blair had let Wilson get hold of his gun. Not to mention the fact that Wilson was no longer in custody. With the way his luck was going, Blair figured he'd end up losing his observer pass over this sorry mess. Shaking his head, he muttered, "And as a matter of fact, I may be reevaluating my whole situation very soon."

"Why?" Isabel demanded, her expression clouding. "Do you think Ellison ..."

"No!" Blair cut in before she could say anything he might regret. Jim was fine. Was probably somewhere on the train. Would rescue them any time now and take the bad guys into custody, and everything would be fine. Just fine. "People can fall off a train without ..." he insisted, but stalled at completing the thought before he choked on it. "Anyway," he went on, knowing it sounded lame but meaning every word, "this is not your ordinary guy."

Man, I'm as bad as Wilson when it comes to believing what I want to believe, he chided himself with a chill of foreboding, hoping Jim hadn't been hurt in the fall, and if he had been hurt, that it wasn't anything too serious. Just something minor, like a broken arm or sprained wrist. But then he shook his head and banished even those thoughts.

Jim's okay; that's it, that's all.

To believe anything else was just, quite simply and completely, unacceptable. No way was he going to give up on his best friend, assume the worst, write him off. Just wasn't going to do it. Period. Jim had pulled off some amazing stunts in the past, had survived terrible things that had killed those around him, so there was no reason to think he hadn't survived this as well. None. Nada.

Jim was fine.

He'd damned well better be fine, or Blair was going to track him down and kick his sorry ass across the known Universe, if it took all of eternity to do it.

Quashing the disloyal thought, determined to believe that Jim would show up any minute, Blair decided it would be too humiliating for Jim to find him cuffed and helpless and completely out of the game. There had to be a way to get free. Looking around, open to any suggestions that presented themselves, his gaze lit upon his backpack on the rack above their heads. Kicking himself for not keeping his Swiss Army knife in his pocket, he stretched up toward the bag.

Jim was fine. No need to worry about that. His job was to get free and make sure Isabel was safe. Jim would expect no less of him. And he'd be damned if he was going to let Jim down any more than he already had. It was going to be hard enough to explain how he'd managed to lose his partner's service weapon.

Man, this trip really, really sucked.

He could not wait until Jim turned up and sorted everything out. God, he hoped he got to see his partner wipe that smug smile off that goon's face. He'd be sorry he pushed Jim off the train. Really sorry.

Finis

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