Disclaimer: We own nothing but the story. Everything else, including the correct English spelling and grammar (THANKS to our beta-reader Shedoc at this point), belongs to other people. We are NOT making money with this. It is just for our enjoyment.
Lime-chan: We're back!
Meanthis: Yes, we are. After three weeks of vacation together with this nutcase. I'm lucky to have survived.
Lime-chan: Wait a minute! You tried to kill Me several times.
Meanthis: You are irritating. And what is your problem, you're still here.
Lime-chan: That's just because I keep coming back. *smiles widely* What would you do without me anyway?
Meanthis: Living happily ever after in terrible boredom?
Lime-chan: And she says I'm nuts. *shakes her head sadly*
Meanthis: Anyway, about this part: the muse kinda hit me during the vacation and battled down my writers block. I hope you enjoy the outcome. Lime-chan wouldn't let me keep the wonderful cliffhanger I had planned, but that's okay. I made a new one!
Lime-chan: *bangs her head on the desk* It's futile…
Meanthis: Hey! That's my desk! We had this little argument before about my dictionary!
Lime-chan: Well, it tasted good.
Meanthis: Whatever. By the way: feedback is a VERY good motivation to write more. We really want to know what you think.
Lime-chan: Do we?
Meanthis: Yes, we do. Shut up… uhmmm about Sentinel at Hogwarts…
Lime-chan: *cough, cough*
Meanthis: Blame her! She's the one with writer's block this time and it's her turn to write on it!
Lime-chan: I wouldn't say it's writers block. It's just some other plotbunnies haunting me. Anime-related plotbunnies. May I borrow your desk again?
Meanthis: NO! I think we end this talk now. Have fun reading!
Lime-chan: and be aware for the next parts and outtakes… *grins evilly* Ja nee!
Werewolf in Cascade
by Meanthis and Lime-chan
"Chief, wake up!"
Blair blinked awake and looked at Jim's face hovering over him.
It was in the middle of the night, he wasn't supposed to be able to form intelligent sentences. Blair hadn't slept well to begin with. For one it was the night of the full moon. Blair had never been able to sleep very well on these nights, his blood called to him to be outside under the silvery light of the moon, running, hunting. If it hadn't been the middle of the week he would have been out clubbing or doing something else to burn away the superfluous energy radiating through his system.
He had tried to sleep but it hadn't worked. Half the night he tried to find a possibility to steer the detectives of Major Crimes on the right path. Most of all to find a way to avoid being too conspicuous while doing it. It always ended with the same conclusion: Blair would have to tell Jim what was going on. All of it. Micah would not be happy about a decision like this.
Because of these two factors Blair took even longer than usual to wake up enough to get his brain started.
"Come on, Blair, wake up. Simon called."
There: an intelligible word. Of course it was only one syllable but better than nothing.
"There was another murder. Simon said we should come over immediately."
Yawning heavily Blair sat up in his bed and grumbled what sounded suspiciously like the question, why murderers couldn't keep civil working times. Jim chose not to comment.
It was still dark outside, only a very faint shimmer of false dawn could be seen in the east. Blair tried to get a bit more desperately needed sleep in the car, but it was a futile attempt with Jim driving.
The sun hadn't climbed up yet when Jim and Blair reached the address Simon had given his Detective. The closer they got to their destination the more nervous Blair got. He had had a bad feeling about this since Jim had woken him, but it intensified when he recognized the neighbourhood.
Leaving Jim's truck behind among the various police cars the two friends went to find their captain.
The hearse was already there and the men waited for the police to finish their work first. Uniformed police officers were busy keeping curious passer-bys from entering the building as well as trying the same with some noisy reporters who had already shown up. One obnoxious cameraman was trying time and time again to get past the yellow tape to get some good pictures. Crossing said tape Blair and Jim were assaulted by a multitude of questions but they both ignored them.
Walking up to the old apartment building they could see an officer sitting on the steps, his face a curious shade of green. From the distinct odour around Jim concluded that the man had lost his breakfast (or dinner?) not long ago. And it seemed that he wasn't the only one with problems keeping his stomach under control. Everyone coming out of the house was either white or green in the face (or any possible combination of those two colours.). This did not bode well at all.
"Hey guys, did Simon wake you two, too?" asked Henri Brown who had just walked up to them. He didn't look too well either. Blair answered his question with an only slightly faked yawn and a nod. The show only rated a tired grin from H before his face became serious again. Jim cast a quick, searching look around before asking:
"Where did you leave your partner?"
"He is currently loosing whatever he ate. I'm on my way to get a glass of water for him. I don't envy you two that you have to go up there. It looks like the nightmare of a splatter-film-director. I nearly lost my breakfast, too. Whoever did this is seriously sick!"
With this statement Brown left to return to his quest to get a glass of water for his partner. Jim and Blair shared a long look. If a long-seasoned cop like Brian Rafe lost control over his stomach like this neither of them was sure if they wanted to know what the scene looked like.
"Perhaps you should sit this one out, Blair." Jim said concerned. It would be enough if one of them had nightmares for the next few weeks. But Blair only looked ahead with determination.
"No. You're going to need me if H was right. I can deal!"
"You're sure?" Jim asked once again. He wouldn't have needed to. Blair had decided that his Sentinel would need him and now nothing would stop him. He would do whatever he had to do.
Simon waited for them just inside the apartment building, giving in to his nervous habit of chewing on an unlit cigar. As soon as Jim and Blair were in (a normal humans) hearing range he announced in his usual gruff tone of voice:
"Looks suspiciously like the one a month ago, that's why I called you two in. The victim was killed in his own apartment. Messy thing."
Without further comments Simon led the two up the stairs into the first floor. Before they were even up the first flight of stairs Jim stopped abruptly and then took a few steps back, a look of total and utter disgust on his face. Simon and Blair could already detect the smell of blood, but for Jim it had to be way more intense.
Before Simon could even react or Jim fall into his zone, Blair was beside his Sentinel murmuring in a soft voice, giving commands to help him gain back the control over his errant sense. It took some minutes before Jim was ready to face the world again then he said:
"Heaven Simon! What happened up there? I've been to slaughter-houses that didn't stink like this."
"Like I told you Detective, it's a messy thing. Do you think you have enough control to have a look around?"
Jim nodded shortly and they continued there way up the stairs. Simon meanwhile continued to inform them about the case:
"As far as we know the victim is Victor Kelling. At least this is the tenant of the apartment. There isn't exactly much left to do an identification on…"
Simon and Jim went straight into the apartment through the open door, but Blair remained frozen at the entrance, staring. This had to be a nightmare! Until a minute ago Blair had managed to ignore all the facts but now everything came crashing down on him.
"Chief? Blair, are you all right?"
Shaking off his daze Blair locked his eyes with the concerned one of his best friend and partner.
"No." was Blair's simple answer. He still hadn't moved from his spot at the apartment door, still staring into the hall. Some part of him wanted to let his wolf-part loose to confirm or deny what he already knew for sure.
"Is there something you want to tell us, Sandburg? Perhaps it would be better if you stayed outside." Simon said with a strange mix between impatience and concern. Blair nodded then shook his head and swallowed hard.
"I know… knew the victim. We were friends. Real good ones… we met just two days ago at the U…"
All annoyance fled Simon's features to leave only compassion. Jim looked even more worried than minutes ago.
"Maybe it would be better if you don't see it then, Sandburg. It really isn't pretty."
Blair shook his head, his expression set into cold determination. The moment Jim woke him and said that there had been another murder Blair had known that another one of his pack had been killed. But it had been abstract knowledge. Even down on the street the truth hadn't hit him like this.
To actually stand at the apartment turned crime scene of a dear friend was much worse that just knowing that your friend had been killed.
"I can manage, Simon."
I'll have to he added silently.
A nod from the captain and a concerned look from Jim was Blair's answer to the statement. But neither of them said anything against Blair entering the apartment anymore.
Simon had been right. It was everything but pretty. Blood and… other things, overturned and broken furniture and shattered breakables littered the whole room. Distantly Blair was aware of Simon's voice explaining:
"…The door was broken off of its hinges by sheer force. Whoever forced his way inside was very strong. We really don't know much at the moment, but the MO is close enough to the murder a month ago to draw parallels…"
"A new serial-killer, Sir?" Jim asked. Blair still couldn't take his eyes from the bloodstained cloth, which was hiding the remains of his friend. For a short moment his normally blue eyes flashed amber-gold. For a werewolf's senses everything around looked different. He could clearly detect traces of the others, the foreign Weres that had been here. It had been more than one assailant; of this Blair was sure. The different smells around were too clear.
"I would love to tell you no on this one, Detective, I really would. This is only the second murder so let's hope that this isn't another lunatic loose in Cascade!"
Sorry, Simon. This is going to be a serial-killer if we don't stop them soon. They sure as hell won't Blair thought. He had felt it since they had entered the apartment: Another challenge to his pack. These youngsters wouldn't stop until they got a reaction out of the local pack. If they would like the reaction they would receive was another matter entirely.
Jim had noticed his friend's silence. At first he had thought it was because he had trouble dealing with the picture the apartment made but Blair didn't look scared or ill anymore, he looked furious.
"Why? Why Vic? He was so gentle; he wouldn't even hurt a fly or the rabbit we were hunting. Why would these bastards go after him?!"
Even as he talked Blair knew the answer. Vic had been a half-breed just like himself and he had been easy to reach. Vic hadn't been in close contact with the pack anymore, trying to fend for himself for a while. He had wanted to open his own bookstore and become rich.
Now he was dead.
Damn cowardly bastards!
Thankfully neither Simon nor Jim noticed that Blair was talking about more than one culprit. It would have raised a few questions Blair wasn't willing to answer just yet.
"Calm down, Chief. We're going to catch whoever did this to your friend. You'll see."
Blair suppressed a bitter laugh. Barely. He didn't think that the guys who did this would ever see a judge about it. They challenged the pack; they would be dealt with by the pack. The police could have the remains.
"Go Jim, do your thing. The sooner you finish the sooner we can get out of here." Simon said to bring his Detective back to the matter at hand. Jim nodded shortly before beginning a systematic look around, aided by his senses. Blair followed close behind, for one making sure that his Sentinel wouldn't zone or suffer sensory spikes, but also to have his own special look around. If he let his wolf-side loose his own senses were for the most part much better than a normal humans ones. Most of all hearing and smell, the last one was even better than Jim's. This was one situation Blair wasn't glad about this fact. He could understand very well why his Sentinel hadn't wanted to come up here. On the other hand, his sight as a wolf was nothing close to Jim's abilities in this area. It wasn't enough that he was a bit shortsighted in full human-form, as a wolf the term got a whole new meaning. All the colours were different; partly as a wolf Blair could 'see' colours humans didn't even know.
One of his friends in the pack, an artist, had tried to paint a picture the way a Were saw the world. The painting had got a rather high price at an auction as surreal artwork. It was a weird experience and one of the reasons why werewolves didn't rely on sight as their main sense.
Carefully, always keeping an eye on Jim, Blair opened himself for his wolf-side. It was a difficult operation to use only the senses to the fullest extent possible and at the same time not to change. Under normal circumstances Blair would have never risked it and trusted Jim's abilities, but not now. This was personal. Perhaps he could find something Jim wouldn't find, since the Sentinel didn't know what he was looking for. The killers couldn't be so clever to outwit them forever, they simply had to make a mistake at some point, and Blair was determined to be there when it happened.
The living room, where the corpse had been found, was a mess. Everything looked like after a hard fight: nothing, furniture, books or the window-curtains. were where they were supposed to be anymore. Looking around while at the same time coaching Jim to find clues, Blair started to see the murder again before his inner eye.
The heavy couch was overturned, the cheap TV-set shattered /Vic is sitting on the couch watching TV when he hears the front door shatter. Before he has the chance to stand up and see what is going on the assailants are storming into the room, attacking and pushing Vic backwards so that he stumbles over his TV, which falls to the floor and breaks with a small explosion./
The cupboard at the right wall was lying on the floor, its glass doors shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. /Shifting into the half form in a matter of seconds Vic tries to defend himself against his attackers but he isn't fast enough. He is thrown backwards into the cupboard. Glass shatters/
Blair closed his eyes holding back tears of helpless rage. He still could remember the day Vic had found this pseudo-antique piece of Taiwanese junk at a small garage sale to which he had dragged Blair with great enthusiasm (and much less from Blair). Vic had fallen in love with the cupboard on the spot even if it looked like a penguin in the desert in his apartment. But Vic hadn't cared at all.
Some of the little glass shards were glistering with red blood. Blair could detect the bitter tang of fear and pain in the air and wondered if Jim was able to smell it too.
A bloody trail dragged itself over to the back of the living room. The table and mismatching chairs that had once stood here were broken and overturned. /In an attempt to flee from the others Vic tears away and tries to reach the front door. The others intercept him and another struggle follows. With animalistic rage Vic breaks a chair over the back of one of his attackers. The Were goes down, but not for long/
Blair really hated his shamanic abilities sometimes. Like now. A 'normal' Were would have been able to tell how the fight had moved through the apartment, too, but Blair could really see what had happened, an observer of an act long over, helpless to do anything.
Trying desperately to keep his concentration Blair was more determined then ever to find out what had happened.
The bookcase on the left wall still standing, but only barely. Most of the books lay on the floor. /Getting more desperate by the minute Vic tries another route. Managing to break away from the attackers once more he stumbles forward. Without orientation he crashes in the bookcase, then runs along it, throwing down the books in an attempt to slow his pursuers down/
Totally blurred and bloody handprints decorated the wall behind the overturned TV. At some places the wallpaper was torn down. /As fast as he could Vic stumbles along the wall, climbing over his broken TV, only one destination in mind. His last chance to get out of here./
The curtains at the only window in the room were torn down and lying in a heap on the ground. At the wooden window-frame Blair could detect claw marks. The glass was broken, the edges bloody. A long trail of blood led from here to the body, which lay more or less in the middle of the room. The carpet was torn in places. It looked like somebody had tried to hold onto it and had been dragged away. /The window, the only other way out. Not caring to open it, Vic breaks the glass and tries to climb through, injuring himself further, when somebody grabs him from behind, trying to drag him away. Desperate Vic tries to grab something to hold onto. The curtains break down and the wood of the window frame doesn't give any hold either. Against all his resistance Vic is dragged away from the window. He doesn't give up fighting, but he stands no chance. He is helplessly overpowered./
Blair was breathing hard; a helpless anger had him nearly trembling. Vic's end hadn't been easy at all nor fast. It was all so unfair.
Blair didn't realize it, but his eyes were practically glowing in their eerie amber colour. A voiceless growl sounded deep in his throat.
A big but gentle hand on his shoulder startled Blair out of his thoughts. Simon stood behind him, looking at him worriedly.
"Everything all right, Sandburg?"
Blair just stared wide-eyed at the police-captain for a long moment before announcing in a strained voice:
"I have to get out of here!"
Blair couldn't believe it. He had come too damn close to letting his wolfish nature free. That would have been a major disaster. But he was so damn mad at the moment it was hard to control his second nature.
Without waiting for any comment from Simon or Jim, Blair turned around and left his friend's apartment as fast as he could. As soon as he was out of the door he started running down the stairs, past a few startled police officers. All that was on his mind was that he needed to get away from the scene for a few minutes before he completely lost it.
Simon and Jim, still standing where Blair had left them shared a long look. With a motion of his head Simon send Jim after the young observer. Not that Jim had needed the order; he had already been halfway out of the door before realizing that he still had a job to do. When Jim had disappeared to search for his guide Simon started thinking. He could understand that Blair had needed a break. It wasn't easy to find out that a good friend of yours had been murdered and in such a gruesome way.
Thinking and chewing on his unlit cigar (the nicotine-gum some joker had left on his desk last week were still in his car) Simon wandered through the apartment, listening to the forensic-people telling him that no, they still hadn't found anything, and started to compare this murder to the one a month ago. Aside from the state the body was found in, there seemed to be absolutely no parallels between those two. The first had been a native-American, thirty-six, a successful doctor at the hospital and only a few months away of becoming a husband, too. This one was a young graduate student, not even thirty years old. More Simon didn't know yet but he seriously hoped that there was more to know. They had first thought that perhaps the murder had something to do with racism, an explanation as good as anything else since they had absolutely no clue about what was going on. But now they would have to find another theory apparently. Perhaps Sandburg could tell some things about his friend when he had calmed down…
Simon's train of thought came to an abrupt halt. A little fact he hadn't noticed before was standing up in his mind. Hadn't Blair been befriended with the first victim, too? Or at least with his fiancé. Now, this man was a good friend of Blair, or so he said. Two of Sandburg's friends killed in the time of one month? Could it be…? Simon shook his head violently. He wouldn't continue this train of thought; it was simply laughable but nothing else. Surely it was just a coincidence.
Nearly against his will Simon went over Blair's words when he had revealed that he knew this victim, too. Simon's eyes widened.
"Why would these bastards go after him".
These bastards, as in more than one. Blair had talked about more than one murderer in his outburst. And Simon didn't think that it was a mistake. What was going on? Did Blair know something about the case? If yes, why wasn't he saying anything?
Simon looked at the torn up rest of his, still unlit, cigar and decided to throw it away. Concerning Blair, Simon was not ready to suspect the young observer of any wrongdoing just yet. But he would keep an eye on the younger man, hoping he wouldn't find anything.
Jim sped down the stairs of the building, looking for his guide. Blair had a headstart but nothing that would stop Jim. On the other hand, Blair was the only person that could hide from Jim if he wanted to. He had proved it, too, a few months ago during a camping trip. How Blair had managed to talk Jim into this particular test, the Sentinel didn't know anymore. Jim had thought this hide-and-seek game, for it was nothing else, would be over pretty fast. In the end Jim had admitted defeat after searching for his guide for three hours in the woods and had returned to the camp just to find Blair making dinner. Perhaps he should have been more careful with his jokes about Blair's navigation abilities. To this day Jim had absolutely no idea how his guide had managed to evade his searching senses and of course Blair wasn't telling a thing.
But this time he was lucky. When he send his senses out carefully he immediately found Blair's heartbeat and voice. Following the two well-known sounds it didn't take Jim too long to find Blair. He was at a deserted street corner, walking back and forth like a caged animal and talking into his cell phone. Curious and with only a small (microscopic, really) bad conscience Jim remained at a distance and started listening. He could only understand Blair's side of the conversation since he didn't dare to dial his hearing up further. Out here in the open the danger of a spike was far too big and without Blair to pull him out of the following zone… Better not risk it.
Attentively Jim started to listen to Blair.
"… Linda, I don't care if it is an important meeting… - Okay, okay, Miss Devon, would you please patch me through to my uncle now? - I already told you, I-do-not-care! I have to talk to Micah! - On the contrary, I think Mr. Petrov would be very annoyed if you didn't tell him that I'm on the phone - No, it won't be enough if he calls back sometime - And I won't call back either, I want to talk to him NOW! - No - No - Yes - Thank you…"
Blair sounded very annoyed and ready to kill somebody, Jim noted. It sounded as if he was fighting with some kind of secretary.
"… Hello, uncle Micah! You know, I think you need a new secretary." -A short, humourless laugh- "No, she just told me I couldn't talk to you, because you were in a meeting. - Hmm - You are right, it is something important. There has been another murder. - Yes, another one of us. This time a half - Victor Kelling - I know that he wasn't under our protection anymore but that doesn't change the fact that he belonged to us - Yes, the same as last time, more than one this time and it happened in his own apartment. - I'm damn f*** sure that this is a challenge, Micah! - Sorry, it's just so… so frustrating. Vic was my friend. We talked about his plans for a bookstore just two days ago - hmm - hmm - Do you think Runner can help with it? - Oh, okay - I don't know how much longer I can keep him in the dark, Uncle. I think he already suspects something - Yes, I'll come over tonight. - Bye"
Blair took the phone away from his ear and closed it. Jim decided to wait another moment before going over so his guide wouldn't suspect that he had been overheard. Besides he had much to think about. The whole talk had sounded rather suspicious. Why had Blair told somebody else about the case, at all? One of the first things they had taught the young observer was not to talk about the cases he was working on together with Jim. To nobody. The press-disaster with Lash had shown the reasons very clearly after all. Who was this Micah Petrov to Blair that the young man would tell him such things? Blair called him Uncle, but Jim hadn't found anything indicating a family connection when he had done his check on Mr. Petrov.
He was under our protection. What did Blair mean by this. Under whose protection had Victor Kelling been and why had he lost this protection?
He belonged to us. What did he belong to? And why was Blair part of this for that matter?
A challenge. What kind of challenge and against whom or what? Jim shuddered. The way Blair had talked sounded too much like some conversations between Family members he had overheard in his time with vice. But Blair wasn't part of the Mafia, no way. It just couldn't be. Jim would not believe that his friend belonged to this kind of organisation. But on the other hand…
Jim didn't know what to think anymore. Putting his speculations about Blair in the darkest corner of his mind, Jim went over to his friend.********************
Two hours later Jim and Blair reached the police-department. The general mood around the precinct was bad, the inability to solve the case, to even find the smallest of clues weighed hard on everyone's mind. The possibility of another serial killer in their town didn't go down well with the men and women of Major Crimes.
Jim, in one of his famous bad moods, was grumbling under his breath while he went over to the breakroom to get coffee. Blair had sent him away in order to have some peace and quiet while he wrote both their reports. Simon was in enough of a bad mood without having to deal with what Jim called an elaborate report.
Suddenly a flow of curses came from the breakroom and Blair started to ask himself if it had been a mistake to send his Sentinel on a simple food-run. What had happened now?
Slightly annoyed Blair abandoned the computer and went over to the breakroom. One should think that a seasoned cop and survivor of eighteen months of jungle should be able to get two cups of reasonably drinkable coffee without causing a disaster. Blair was really not in the mood to deal with anything more demanding than doing paperwork at the moment. He was still running high on adrenalin after going over the murder-scene again. He still needed an acceptable explanation for Jim why he would go out tonight and trying to lie to his Sentinel (without being caught) wasn't something that would improve his general mood.
Going into the breakroom Blair noticed that everyone's eyes were glued to the small TV while Megan proved that she knew way too many Australian slang curse words. After realizing what was shown on the local news-channel Blair really wanted to join her.
<"… all points to another serial-killer having set up base in Cascade. Until now the police refuses any comment concerning this matter. How long will they try to keep the people in the dark about the latest danger to them…?">
The news speaker talked another four minutes about how incompetent the police force in Cascade was with little references towards how long it had taken them to catch David Lash. The mood in the bullpen dropped another hundred degrees towards absolute zero. Blair could understand Jim's choice of words before. As if this whole mess wasn't complicated enough without the press making everything even harder for the police.
"How did they find out this time?" somebody finally asked. Silence all around. Blair could feel some looks on him but refused to even think about commenting. Apart from the fact that he would never think about giving these annoying reporters any information, how the hell would he pull something like this off without Jim noticing? It was hard enough hiding his correspondence with Micah from his curious Sentinel.
But when Jim sent a partly questioning, partly accusing look to his guide, Blair sent a glare at him. Not any glare, but the one that got rioting students silent in minutes and annoying Sentinels to back down from a topic in seconds. It worked every time like a charm.
The discussion about who had leaked information this time started but Blair just grabbed a cup of coffee out of his Sentinel's hand (while still glaring) and went back to write the reports. The sooner he finished them, the sooner he would get out of here.
Simon hadn't noticed anything from the newest riot in the break-room, but Rhonda had been nice enough to inform him that a) the press somehow had found out about their case and was now talking up a panic. He should prepare for a call from the commissioner. And b) both Ellison and Sandburg were in a bad mood, a deadly combination if one wasn't careful. Wonderful. Wasn't his life hard enough? Apparently not.
Shifting through the paperwork of the last month, once again thankful that Sandburg was doing Ellison's reports, Simon hadn't been prepared for what happened next. The telephone shrilled and startled the captain out of his thoughts. After barking a highly unfriendly "What" in the receiver, which earned him a short telling-off from Rhonda, he was informed that a FBI-Agent wanted to talk to him, since Detective Ellison wasn't in at the moment. Simon really considered killing something this very moment.
"Patch him through, Rhonda."
Frustrated Simon reached for his coffee cup. The coffee was cold by now, but he didn't care, not really. Anything to calm him down enough to deal with the FBI.
"Captain Banks? This is Agent Byers speaking." An unpleasant voice announced from the other side of the line. Simon took a deep breath to remain calm.
"How can I help you, Mr. Byers?"
"One of your men requested information over our database this afternoon. It concerns a few murder cases in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle that were never solved. From what I understand similar murders happened in Cascade?"
Simon closed his eyes, not knowing if he should be thankful that something akin to a lead had appeared or be annoyed at Jim for letting him deal with the FBI.
"You have to be a bit more precise. What kind of murders are you talking about?"
"The victims look like an animal-attack, no apparent connection between them, sometimes there are animal-hairs found at the scene. Sounds familiar?"
The agent was growing more disagreeable with every word he said.
"Yes, that would be our current problem case."
"Good. My partner and I have been working on this case since their activities in Los Angeles. We would like to come up to Cascade as soon as possible to help."
Oh yes, I'm definitely getting a headache Simon thought, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Of course. We would be thankful for any kind of help."
Simon really tried to keep his distaste about the FBI getting in on the case out of his voice, but he wasn't sure if he succeeded.
Ellison is just going to love this.
"Then my partner and I are going to arrive sometime tomorrow. Until then Captain."
The line disconnected. Simon leaned back in his chair trying to figure out how to break this news to Jim Ellison. The detective wouldn't be happy. But perhaps they would be lucky and the Agent would turn out to be a reasonable and helpful man.
And hell is going to freeze over
It was early evening when Blair steered his car through the wrought iron gate before Micah's mansion. After killing the engine Blair slumped into the seat and rested his forehead on the steering wheel for a second. A stressful day for sure. Jim hadn't been exactly happy when Blair had informed him that he had something else to do today.
After taking a minute to gather his thoughts, Blair finally left his car behind and went over to the house. Walking with more self-confidence than he felt, he ignored the bodyguards and then the secretary who was frantically trying to stop him from entering the office of his uncle. Not that she was very successful in her attempt. After his conversation with her this morning he wasn't about to let her stop him.
After a short, sharp knock Blair entered. Micah and Runner, who had obviously been busy going over some files, looked up and a relieved smile showed up on Micah's face. He had already waited for his nephew.
"I'm terrible sorry, Mr. Petrov, I couldn't stop him." Linda had entered the room just after Blair and was apologizing now. She looked terribly sorry, which brought her an irritated glare from Blair. What the hell was this woman's problem?
"It's okay Miss Devon, we'll talk later. Please leave us alone now."
Micah's tone of voice indicated that it would be a long talk indeed. Miss Devon closed the door with a slightly confused look on her face. As soon as she was out of sight Blair let out a sigh and turned to his uncle:
"What exactly is this woman's problem?"
"She is new in Cascade. Until recently she worked for the pack in Dallas and now moved up here. Don't hold it against her; she doesn't know our hierarchy yet. I hope she'll learn it soon."
"You're not the only one, Thunder. You're not the only one…" Blair sighed, "Back to business."
Blair went over to the desk and sat down in one of the comfortable chairs. In the following two hours several carafes of coffee and tea were consumed while the last murder was discussed at length. Runner had found additional information that Seattle or San Francisco hadn't been the first big cities that had been the target of the group. There were reports of similar occurrences in New York and in Los Angeles even if they weren't sure about the authenticity of the reports from New York. The city was one of the few that had no controlling power present and so the underground culture ran a bit wild. No one was able to say for sure that the murders there had really something to do with those happening here at the moment. Most of all because there weren't clear reports. The competing packs had made sure that the police stayed away from these cases and weren't overly informative themselves.
But the reports they got from LA were a bit more alarming. The pack there was relatively small and not so tight as the one here in Cascade. 'Only' two murders had happened there and then the killers had apparently moved on to cities with larger packs. But it was in LA the police had first started to investigate parallel to the pack (and a kind of annoying Private Detective). Since the occurrences in Seattle the FBI was investigating.
"Oh man, Jim is just going to love this," was Blair's only comment to this. He still hadn't figured out how to help Jim and the other detectives in Major Crimes with the extra information he got through his contacts with the pack without compromising the secret. The whole time he had hoped that his friends would find the leads on their own, but until now there simply weren't any leads to find. Blair didn't want to know how Runners people had come up with some of their information.
How to let Jim know the identities of some of the killers without making his Sentinel even more suspicious? Blair wanted to help his friend, not only because he wanted to catch the killers before another of his friends had to die but also because he just wanted to make it easier for Jim. Having a bad conscience while living with a Sentinel was a horror of its own proportions. Blair knew only to well that Jim had good reason to be suspicious.
As if reading his thoughts Micah asked Blair how his attempts to steer the police on the right path were working out.
"I think I'm going to have to tell Jim." Blair said with a sigh. Micah looked at him sharply.
"Do you really think that would be necessary, Dreamer?"
"What else can I do? I told you already that Jim isn't going to accept any information without knowing were it comes from. And how can I tell him this without telling him the rest. By the way, I should have told Jim ages ago."
"Please try to find another way for now. Don't tell him until it's absolutely unavoidable."
This wasn't ordered by his uncle Micah, this was the pack's alpha speaking. Resigning himself to more time trying to hide the truth from the human lie detector Blair said:
Blair's day had been vastly stressful already and it was only one pm. It was just one of these days where you just didn't see the reason to get up in the morning. It had started with one over eager University-official who had chosen just today to inquire about Blair's habit of being absent from campus all the time (apart from his lectures of course), then some jocks in one of his anthro-lectures had tried to intimidate him into giving them better marks than they deserved (a copied essay out of the standard-textbook wasn't an essay, sorry), his office-hours had turned into an impromptu war conference with the pack-members who were at the university and finally Blair's beloved "classic" car had once again refused to start when he needed it to. To top it all, when Blair finally reached Prospect to meet up with Jim he was grumpily informed that they were going to be late to meet the FBI-Agents who had arrived this morning to contribute to the case. Ergo: Jim's mood was sunk so deep down that even Hades would have trouble finding it and Blair decided at this point that his day just couldn't get any worse.
An opinion he changed as soon as they stepped out of the elevator on the floor of Major Crimes. The short significant look from Rhonda (secretaries rule!) signalled nothing good. Blair resigned himself to an afternoon of keeping Jim from committing murder.
Stepping through the door to the bullpen after Jim Blair looked around and immediately noticed the two strange men in Simon's office. This had to be the federal agents; they looked stereotypical enough with their suits. One of the agents, who had appeared to talk with Simon, turned around and looked directly at Blair who suddenly felt such a strong sense of danger and fear that he stopped dead in his tracks. Something wasn't right here, all his instincts were screaming at him to turn around and run. Never in his whole life had Blair felt something like this, such an overwhelming sense of danger that he could hardly suppress the urge to flee.
"Chief? Are you alright?"
Jim was looking at his friend and partner with increasing worry. The young man's heartbeat had gone through the roof suddenly and Blair was looking so pale that Jim feared he would faint any minute. The blue eyes were unfocused and wide with fear, his breath coming in short gasps and he was shivering ever so slightly. Everything looked as if Blair was about to have a major panic attack. Not good! When he gently touched his Guide's shoulder Blair jumped and stared at his Sentinel with such fear in his look that Jim felt his stomach clench.
"Blair? What's the matter?"
Blair stared at Jim for a long moment before he registered who was standing in front of him. Taking a deep breath he managed to calm down a bit but the feeling of danger never went away. Realizing that Jim still waited for an explanation Blair tried a smile (and failed) and said with a voice that sounded way more steady than he felt:
"I'm okay, Jim. Something startled me, probably just my imagination."
Blair hoped desperately that Jim wouldn't call this really bad lie. But before the Sentinel had a chance to ask again what was going on, Blair was saved by Simon who looked out of his office and called:
"Are you going to stand there all day Ellison? Get moving!"
Jim mumbled something that wasn't printable and sent Blair a short look that promised that the conversation would be continued later on, and then followed the call of his captain. Blair trailed closely behind, still trying to shake the growing feeling of danger.
Stepping into the office and closing the door Blair noticed with a small smile that Jim had positioned himself between the two Agents and Blair. Apparently the Sentinel was in full blessed-protector-mode once again after his Guide's near panic-attack. Under normal circumstances behaviour like this annoyed Blair a bit (sometimes a lot) but just now he was actually thankful for it. Jim's unconscious protective behaviour eased the gnawing fear that somehow seemed related to the FBI-Agents a bit.
Simon's booming voice interrupted Blair's train of thought when the police-captain started with the introductions:
"Gentlemen, these are the Agents Byers and Hazel. Agents, this is Detective Ellison, the lead detective in this case and Blair Sandburg, a consultant to our department."
Blair sent a short thankful smile towards Simon than tried to pear around Jim to get a better look at the two Agents.
Agent Byers was about Jim's height with wide shoulders and military short hair. He had a no-nonsense expression on his face and the glare, that was a strange mix of dislike and contempt, he sent towards Blair send an icy shiver down his spine. A reaction that didn't go unnoticed by Jim.
The other Agent was the absolute opposite to his partner. Smaller and lankier he had an open and friendly expression on his face, intelligent green eyes looking at Blair with a smile in them. Blair couldn't help but return the smile.
How could two men who seemed so different work together? The strong differences actually reminded Blair a bit of his own partnership with Jim but one look between the two Agents showed that their partnership was nothing like the one Sentinel and Guide shared.
The glare on Agent Byers' face never wavered the whole time and Jim started to return it with a glare of his own while Blair did his best to become partly invisible behind his friend. If this had been a cartoon little flashes would have passed between Jim and Agent Byers. Simon looked from one person in the room to the other noting their reactions to each other. Agent Hazel seemed a reasonable enough help for this case, but Simon really didn't like how Agent Byers (who was growing more obnoxious by the second) looked at Blair. Much less he liked Sandburg's reaction though. The young anthropologist looked as if he was actually afraid of the Agent. Blair Sandburg wasn't easily intimidated and when it happened he normally did not show it. Blair's reaction seemed to have triggered one from Jim, who looked at Agent Byers as if he was already thinking about where to hide the body. Just wonderful. Under normal circumstances Blair would have started to run interference by now, distracting his Sentinel way from a capital offence, but these weren't normal circumstances apparently. This was much worse.
"Gentlemen!" Simon tried to draw the attention of the present people to himself. Agent Hazel and Blair (who seemed to actually try to hide behind Jim) looked at him but Jim and Agent Byers ignored him in favour of their staring contest. Simon chose to ignore it and just be happy with having fifty percent of the attention.
"I thought it would be best for solving this case if we brought all facts, clues and opinions together first. The others are probably waiting for us already in the break room… Get moving Detective!"
Jim sent a last poisoned glare to Agent Byers then turned to leave Simon's office, Blair very close to his heels. The captain gestured to the two FBI Agents to follow the detective and then left his office himself. Why did he have the feeling that this was going to be a very long day?
The little group was awaited by Rafe and Megan in the break-room, Brown was nowhere to be seen. Everyone took a seat, Blair as far away from Agent Byers as he could, a fact that wasn't missed by anybody else in the room. As if the general atmosphere wasn't bad enough already, Agent Byers just had to comment on Blair's presence:
"Are you sure captain, that your consultant will really be helpful in this case?"
Byers' tone of voice when he said consultant left absolutely no doubt what he really thought about Blair's status here. Something that did not get him any sympathy points from the people present. Agent Hazel meanwhile looked down on the table and shook his head. A hue of red had appeared on his cheeks.
Simon, as the boss felt it his responsibility to say something before Jim (or Megan) decided to remove Agent Byers in a very permanent way.
"Until now Mr. Sandburg has always been very helpful with solving hard cases by contributing a new viewpoint and unorthodox information."
A very nasty smile showed on Agent Byers face and he mumbled purposefully loud:
"The question is just where would he get information for this case…"
The glares he received from everyone around should have been enough to kill Agent Byers on the spot. Thankfully (or sadly?) the Agent remained among the living.
After about a minute of uncomfortable silence Brown and Taggert showed up with coffee, a package of donuts and a few forgotten case files. It took both only one look to grasp the general situation: 1. The Agents were already here. 2. Everyone in this room had already developed a dislike for at least one of them and 3. Simon had a major headache coming. All in all not a good situation.
After the two had taken seats the brainstorming session started. In the course of it it became clear that the FBI-Agents had absolutely no idea what they were dealing with. They had no motive, no suspects; they were even missing a few files. They weren't even much help putting the clues together that had been found. Agent Byers only made nasty comments towards Blair, which most certainly didn't endear him to anyone here. Agent Hazel tried to contribute his viewpoint once or twice but never managed to finish his sentence before Agent Byers interrupted him. It took only ten minutes before no one listened to the two Agents anymore. Instead the members of Major Crimes did what they were good at: working together.
"Okay." Said Taggert at one point, recapitulating what they had said so far "We know that the murders happen once a month, always on full moon. We know that it is probably more than one killer and that the main actors are most probably male. We also know that on all scenes wolf hairs were found… Does anybody know what to do with this?"
Everyone in the room was silent for a moment before Brown said half joking:
"Perhaps our murderer is a werewolf?"
Everyone looked at Brown as if he had completely lost his mind. Blair, who hadn't said one word during the whole time, knew that his heart rate must have spiked this moment at least judging by Jim's look. Agent Byers on the other hand smiled at Blair with an unbeatable nastiness.
"H, I think you read too many horror-novels recently." Megan finally commented but Brown liked his idea apparently.
"Come on, think about it Megan, everything would fit. I'm not saying that our killer is an actual werewolf, I'm not that far gone, but couldn't it be that there is some strange cult whose members think they are werewolves? What do you think hairboy? Cults and all this strange stuff are more your alley."
Blair, who had studied the table intently, looked up abruptly and directly at H. Before he could formulate a good answer Agent Byers said acidly:
"Yes, I would like to know, too, what Mr. Sandburg has to say about this."
Blair stared at the Agent with a steadily sinking feeling in his stomach. The man couldn't know, could he?
"Well, I think H's idea isn't so bad. After all, everything fits together. The main problem is to find a connection between the victims, the reason why they are chosen."
Blair was proud how steady his voice had sounded. He felt anything but. He only wanted to be out of here.
From this point the brainstorming session didn't get any further. No one had any bright ideas how the victims were connected with each other. Even Blair didn't have any clue why Richard Northstar and Victor Kelling had been the first victims and not others. Why not him?
At one point everyone decided that they should leave and go back to work. Blair wanted to get out of the room and away from the Agent so fast that he ended up forgetting his pencil-case.
"One day you'll end up forgetting your head," Jim teased good-naturally and Blair sent him a joking glare. The Sentinel went on to get some coffee while Blair turned around to run back to the break-room.
Entering, he saw the case still lying on the table. He grabbed it and wanted to leave the room again, when he was grabbed by the shoulder and thrown against the wall violently. Scared Blair stared up into the face of Agent Byers.
"What the hell are you doing, Agent?" Blair demanded with false bravado. In truth he was shit-scared. He tried to get away from the painfully hard grip Byers had on his arms, but without success. The Agent smiled his nasty smile and said in a threatening whisper:
"I just wanted to have a little talk alone with you."
"What do you want?"
Blair noted that his voice was shaking by now. Why the hell was he so afraid of this man? Normally such behaviour would only make him mad, not afraid. The Agent smiled with undeniable satisfaction when he noted Blair's growing fear.
"I just wanted to make some things clear. There won't be any more kills."
"Wha… what are you talking about?"
"I know what your kind is about. I won't let you beasts continue."
Suddenly everything fell into place and Blair's eyes became impossible wide with panic. A Hunter! The guy was a freaking Hunter! Now Blair really started to fight to get loose, twisting and turning in the Agent's brutal grip. It only made the Agent mad enough to throw the young man against the wall again hard enough to cause bruises. It didn't stop Blair from struggling. The Agent didn't care, he moved forward and whispered into Blair's ear:
"I want you to tell your friends that their murdering days are over. I won't let them continue…"
Struggling futilely against the Agent Blair could feel himself begin to change. It was only a natural reaction to his panic and perhaps he had a chance to get away with the additional strength of his wolfform.
Glowing amber eyes stared directly into brown ones. The Agent didn't let go. Everything looked as if it would come to a fight when the door of the room opened and Rafe looked in.
"Is there a problem Agent Byers?"
Rafe's voice was cold as ice. The Agent looked at him for a moment before taking his hands of Blair's arms and taking a step back.
"No problem. Just a little talk with your consultant."
With these words Byers walked past Rafe and left. Blair sank down the wall, weak with relief. Rafe looked after the Agent for a moment before coming over to Blair.
"Everything okay with you?" he asked concerned. Blair didn't look at him but stared into space, sitting absolutely still. In fact he gave a very good imitation of one of Jim's zones. His eyes were still glowing amber.
"Blair? Come on, you're scaring me here. Spacing out is Jim's job."
While internally debating with himself if he should run and get Jim Rafe gently shook Blair's shoulder. Finally the younger man seemed to snap out of it and turned towards Rafe:
"He is a Hunter, Brian."
There wasn't anything else to say to this. A Hunter was about the only thing a werewolf feared. No one knew how this group had original started or why, but everyone knew that they were dangerous. A Hunter could sense a werewolf, just like the Were was instinctly aware of the Hunter's presence and a Hunter was stronger than a normal human. In fact they were strong enough to match a werewolf sometimes. This alone wouldn't pose a problem but the few remaining Hunters had only one goal: the extinction of all werewolves. There had been occasions when Hunters had managed to wipe out whole packs. Generally, these people were known to be brutal, unreasonable and under the influence of too many bad horror-movies. And now one had appeared in Cascade.
"What am I going to do?" mumbled Blair hopelessly, staring at his hands. "As if the pack hadn't enough problems already with these killers running around. Now a Hunter has to show up."
"First of all you are going to calm down. I don't think we could explain your new eye colour if anybody would happen to walk in."
Startled Blair looked up and at Rafe's face. With a sheepish smile he started concentrating and quickly brought his wolf-side back under control. The amber in his eyes vanished to be replaced by their normal blue.
"Did this bastard hurt you?" Rafe asked concerned while helping Blair to his feet. The younger man shook his head:
"Just a few bruises, nothing too bad. They will be healed in a few hours."
"We really should tell Simon about this." Rafe muttered, his eyes flashing with rage "Perhaps he could do something."
"And tell him what? As long as Byers doesn't get actually violent Simon can't do anything. I'm just an observer here, not one of his men…"
"Byers did get violent if he left bruises. And you know that Simon would love to kick this Agent out of here if he knew what happened."
Blair sighed and leant against the wall, closing his eyes.
"We have no proof. The bruises will have vanished tomorrow and you didn't actually see anything, did you? It would be my word against his."
Rafe gave up trying to convince Blair. The young werewolf was right. At the moment there wasn't anything they could do against Agent Byers beside watch out. Rafe really wasn't happy with the idea that a Hunter was running around in Cascade. Obsessive people like these always meant trouble. Hunters only went after werewolves, blissfully ignoring that there were other beings in the supernatural realm. Like himself for an instance.
Rafe looked at Blair who had his eyes still closed and was breathing deeply in order to calm his frazzled nerves. He would give H and the rest of the gang an additional head-up to look out for Blair and if possible to keep him away from the FBI men.
"I think we better go back before Jim starts to look for you. By the way, what are you going to tell him?"
"Nothing." Blair answered Rafe's question while straightening up. Rafe looked at him puzzled:
"Nothing? Do you think that's wise?"
"No other choice. I'm either going to tell him everything or nothing and since Thunder has expressed his dislike about me telling Jim anything about the pack…"
Blair shrugged dismissively and Rafe shook his head.
Can this get any more complicated? the detective thought while walking back to the bull-pen with Blair.
He shouldn't have tempted fate like this.
What's up with Rafe? What is Agent Byers really after? Who'll be the next victim? And will Jim ever find out what is going on?
The answers to all these questions in the next part (Perhaps).
Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail the authors.
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