1. The Audience by TAbayev
  2. Faith by Shawnee
  3. Gift for Julie by Mackie
  4. Undercover Blair by Toni
  5. They're More Dangerous Than You'd Think by Khinsaia
  6. Left Behind: A Cresting the Wave Missing Scene by Jo Ann

From: TAbayev@aol.com

Julie,

I hope you get well real soon. I'm praying for you to get better. I hope this story would cheer you up a bit.

I apologize for any mistakes. They're all mine. Feel free to critique the life out of it on or off the list as soon as you feel up to it.

================

The Audience

"Hi, you've reached the office of Blair Sandburg. Please, leave a message, and I will get back to you as soon as I can, " screeched out the metallic tone of the answering machine.

Simon rubbed his face tiredly and sighed. *God only knows where Sandburg is right now, * he thought irritably. *Just what I need at this moment is for the kid to pull one of his disappearing acts and miss the interview with the commissioner. Damn! * Putting the receiver back in the cradle with more force than necessary, Simon sighed again and looked out into the bullpen.

The department office seemed busier than usual. With the crime spree that taken over Cascade this December, detectives simply had no time to waste. Each team of Major Crimes handled at least three open cases. As a result, detectives practically lived in the bullpen leaving it only to catch some much needed sleep.

However, at this moment Simon Banks was interested in one detective in particular. The captain desperately tried to see if his best officer actually listened to his firm suggestion and went home. The detective in question, Jim Ellison, had spent the last three days trying to solve a murder of a ten-year-old boy whose body was found in Cascade Forest.

Being a Sentinel, a man with six heightened senses (sound, smell, taste, touch, vision, and responsibility), Ellison was hell bent on finding the killer no matter what the cost. While Simon admired and generally encouraged this kind of dedication, he doubted the Sentinel is going to be of much good to anybody if he runs himself into an early grave. Thus, when he saw Ellison take a dive in the bullpen, Banks decided that enough was enough. Heightened senses or not, Ellison was escorted home and told not to show his face in the bullpen until tomorrow.

Of course, this left the captain with several problems on his hands. Firstly, with Ellison out of commission, there were nobody to take the murder case and bring it to successful conclusion (or at least as successful as a murder investigation can be). Policemen were human beings with needs of sleep and nourishment. The department was too understaffed and overtaxed at the moment to push the case on anybody else. Unfortunately, the mayor and the press had hard time grasping this fact putting the pressure on commissioner and Banks to squash the crime spree yesterday.

If that wasn't enough, Sandburg, the Major Crimes' resident anthropologist and future Ph.D., suddenly decided to change his dissertation topic from the discussion of the Sentinels to the discussion of closed societies. In fact, he decided to schedule the defense of the new dissertation for this January leaving himself practically no time to get the police commissioner's agreement to release the experimental data the anthropologist collected in the department.

"But Simon, you have to help me..." grumbled the Captain under his breath, mimicking the grad student's impassioned speech of few weeks before. Like a fool, Banks fell for Sandburg's shameless begging for help and allowed himself to be roped into the dissertation conspiracy. As a fellow conspirator, he was responsible for tap-dancing with the commissioner, being Sandburg's personal secretary, and, of course, keeping the secret from an extremely nosy and overprotective Sentinel. *Piece of cake, * sarcastically thought Banks. *I'd be getting an ulcer as a Christmas gift from Sandburg. Where is that ingrate anyway? *

As if on cue, the door to his office flew open and the anthropologist shuffled inside. "About time you got here, " boomed Banks. "I thought I was going to defend the dissertation myself."

"Simon, I am so sorry. It's just that I was driving..."

"Spare me. We are almost late."

The captain was in such a hurry to get the unpleasant interview over with, he failed to hear the trembling in the observer's voice or to see the slight tremors that went through Sandburg's body. He just strode into the elevator and punched the button for the ninth floor, the commissioner's lair. Blair had nothing left to do, but trail after him and hope to survive the interview with his dignity intact.

Truth be told, the young man would much rather jump off the plane again than go to the audience with Cascade P.D.'s resident Sun-King, the Police Commissioner Henry Wallace, especially in his present state. His head ached, his vision swam, his stomach churned, and he was close to fainting and embarrassing the hell out of himself and Simon. *I am calm, I am collected, * murmured Blair over and over in effort to settle down.

The anthropologist's silence unsettled his friend. The captain expected the observer to regale him with the lecture on the methods of torture used by all the higher echelons of power, which included the prolonged wait in the front of the secretary's desk while being glared at by the said secretary as if you are a prisoner on death row. Unfortunately, Sandburg chose this time to prove that he can keep his mouth shut for more than five seconds. Feeling suddenly disturbed by this behavior, Simon threw his companion a worried look and was surprised to see how pale and unsteady the kid seemed.

*Damn, the kid hasn't left Ellison's side for more than an hour in the last week. No wonder he looks wiped. I should probably drive him home, make sure he doesn't wrap his car around a tree. Ellison would have my hide, * thought Simon fiercely trying to squash the traitorous wave of affection and sympathy that Sandburg's tired posture elicited. He patted the kid's shoulder lightly and whispered, "Everything is going to be fine, Blair. Don't worry."

Before the anthropologist could respond, the secretary pierced them with another hostile glare and forced out, "The commissioner will see you now."

*Somehow she makes it sound as an insult, * the thought lurked in Blair's brain.

Shuffling into the office, Sandburg has been greeted by an imposing man with a clouded face. The face suddenly wavered and faded into the darkness. *There goes my career, * distractedly thought the young man as the darkness enveloped him and he plunged toward the floor.

Next thing he was aware of was the pleasant floating sensation. "Mmmh, nice," he sighed quietly, trying to burrow into the pillow. The pillow was hard for some reason, and Blair got the strange feeling that he needs to remember something important. "Blair, can you hear me? Wake up, " Simon's voice floated down to him. *Simon, ... SIMON! * Suddenly the events of last minutes came back to the anthropologist, and he tried to sit up.

"No, lie down for a bit, kid. God, you scared ten years off my life. Between you and your partner, I don't know who's going give me a heart attack first," rambled Simon nervously.

"Captain Banks, I think you're better take Mr. Sandburg home. I do not think he's in any shape to discuss anything right now," the commissioner ordered, sounding extremely annoyed.

"Of course, Sir. I apologize for these circumstances. Blair, can you walk?"

"I'm fine, Simon," shakily replied Blair. He scrambled of the floor keeping his eyes down. One thing he didn't need right now is to see condemnation in the eyes of the two policemen. Standing up, he swayed dizzily and was almost surprised when he felt Simon holding him up almost effortlessly. He expected Simon just to leave him on his own after all the embarrassment he caused. Slowly, they made their way out of the office and into the elevator.

Blair almost expected Simon to push him away now. Instead, the tall man gently steadied him and walked them to his car.

"Simon, I'm fine. I can get home just fine. Don't bother," he started again, still keeping his gaze on the floor.

"Blair, it's no bother. Just get into the car," Simon sighed tiredly. He helped the anthropologist into the car, secured the seatbelt, and then walked to the other side. "Blair," he began trailing off when he saw the miserable expression on the face of his friend. Poor kid was evidently castigating himself for being human. Deciding to get him home first, then take care of his psyche, Simon wheeled the car out of the garage.

The fifteen-minute ride was made in complete silence. In fact, Simon was never happier about getting anywhere as he was about reaching the loft. He simply could not stand the tesion that settled in the car during the ride. Before he could get out and help the kid, Sandburg was already murmuring apologies and shuffling towards the building.

"Blair, wait," Simon called after the dejected man. "Look at me. Sandburg, I said look at me," he growled not really irritated, but hard-pressed to get through to the guy.

"Simon, I'm sorry," the observer launched his apology again.

"Don't. Listen, kid, I do not care what the commissioner thinks. If he hasn't been a human being instead of the asshole that he is, he would keep his temper in control. You're spreading yourself too thin here, and I don't want to see you suffer. You are my friend, and I care for you as much as I care for any other man in my division," Simon squeezed Blair's shoulder gently and smiled when he saw the younger man perking up. "Don't let it go to your head, Sandburg," he growled trying to prevent any response that the kid might have. Then, in a more gentle voice, he added, "You and Ellison take tomorrow off. The case will wait. Wouldn't want anybody calling me a slaver, now would I?"

"Simon, you don't know how much I appreciate your help," Blair's eyes sparkled with unshed tears. "We are lucky to have you as a friend." He paused, then his eyes took on a wicked glint, "Wait till Jim hears what you said--"

"Sandburg, you say anything," Simon loomed over him, "and I mean anything, and you'll be doing all the department's paperwork for a months."

"Yeah, yeah, I love you too, man." With that, the grad student turned and entered the building. He paused at the door, looked up at Banks, and mouthed, "Thanks."

"You're welcome, kid, you're welcome." Simon shook his head and returned to the car. Maybe, he'll get through this day without ulcer after all. Both men went on their way not even bothering to wipe off the goofy grins off their faces.



From: Shawnee Hollingsworth <jasrien@blountsville.net>

Hang in there, Julie, we're all pulling for you. While this can't compete with any of the other great writers on this list, hopefully, it'll bring you a smile.

Faith
by Shawnee

It was supposed to have been a simple Q&A with a possible witness to a carjacking. Instead, Det. Jim Ellison and his partner, grad student/observer Blair Sandburg, now found themselves prisoners of a man holding a sawed-off shotgun, high as a kite on who knew what. He'd taken Jim's gun and ordered them into a back room of the sparsely furnished, run-down house, forcing Jim to tie Blair to a chair. He kept mumbling to himself about someone coming after him and how he wouldn't let them take him alive.

As the man, Victor Leland, was about to handcuff Jim to another chair, Jim suddenly attacked. He knew if he allowed himself to be cuffed, he and Blair would die in this old house. But Leland was stronger than he looked. As they struggled for control of the shotgun, Leland managed to throw Jim into a wall, stunning him for several seconds - just long enough for Leland to regain control of the gun and turn it toward Jim.

At that moment, Blair, who'd been wrestling with the ropes tying him to the chair, leaped at Leland, knocking the gun from his hands and knocking the man down. Leland grabbed Blair by the jacket and slammed him into a wall. Blair slid down with a groan, barely managing to remain conscious.

When Leland turned, Jim was pointing his backup gun at him and ordering him to surrender. Leland looked at him, looked at the shotgun, looked at Jim.

"Don't do it, Leland. Don't make me shoot you--damn it, Leland!" Jim fired as Leland leaped at the gun, his bullet hitting Leland in the shoulder and knocking him backwards.

Jim eased forward, kneeling down beside Leland and pulling out his handcuffs. As he grabbed Leland's bad arm to move behind him, Leland twisted and knocked Jim to the floor, knocking his gun away. Leland managed to straddle Jim, hands wrapping tightly around his throat.

Jim tried to loosen Leland's hold, but failed. Punching him in the kidneys also failed. Just as Jim felt he was about to pass out, Leland was gone. Jim sucked in a deep breath, looking up to see Blair straddling Leland's chest, hitting him in the face, over and over, a wild look in his eyes.

"Blair! Enough!" Jim finally managed to call out.

Blair stopped, fist raised. He looked at Leland, who was out for the count with a bloody nose and split lips, then at Jim. Blair scrambled to his side. "Jim? You OK?"

Jim nodded. "Yeah, I'm OK. How about you?"

"I'm good."

"OK. Call it in, get us somebody out here to take him in. Better put in a request for an ambulance, too, Rambo."

Blair shot him a dirty look and pulled out his cell phone, mercifully still intact. He called for backup while Jim cuffed Leland.

Simon and Joel arrived at the same time the ambulance did. They watched as Jim and Blair followed paramedics out of the house, Leland strapped to a gurney.

"What happened?" Joel asked.

"That guy was high on something," Blair said. "He attacked us when we tried to question him about the carjacking."

"He kept raving about someone being after him. Probably acid or PCP and he's having a bad trip," said Jim.

Simon started to say something, then stopped. He frowned at Blair. "Sandburg, you OK?" Blair stood still, not answering him. "Sandburg?" Simon reached out to touch Blair's arm. As he did, Blair's eyes rolled back and he collapsed. "Blair!" Simon yelled as he caught him, easing him to the ground.

"Medic! We need some help over here!" Joel yelled as Simon cradled Blair gently against him, not wanting to lay him on the cold pavement.

Jim, who'd stepped off to have a word with the officer who would accompany Leland to the hospital, turned at Simon's cry and ran back to his partner's side. "Chief?" Jim took Blair's hand as one of the medics ran over.

A second ambulance was called, as they dared not put Blair in the same one as Leland, who could possibly be very violent when he awoke. Blair had not regained consciousness by the time it arrived, nor by the time he arrived at the hospital.

Jim stood at the waiting room window, looking out at the city. A CT scan had revealed that the blow to Blair's head, when he slammed into the wall, had caused bleeding into the brain. He was in surgery now, to relieve the building pressure; his doctor was optimistic that Blair would be all right once the pressure was relieved.

"He saved my life, Simon," Jim said quietly. "You should've seen him. Leland's at least as big as me. He was hopped up on acid, throwing both of us around like rag dolls. He had me down, strangling me. I thought I was a dead man. And then he was just gone, and I could breath again, and I look up, and Blair's sitting on this guy, pounding him for all he's worth. I don't think he would've stopped if I hadn't called him off."

"He was protecting you, wasn't he?"

Jim gave a little nod. "Yeah, he was." A smile played at the corners of his lips. "I guess...that makes him...*my* Blessed Protector, huh?"

Simon put a hand on Jim's shoulder. "Yeah, Jim, I guess so. He's going to be all right. I have faith in him."

Jim nodded. His reply was cut off as Blair's doctor, Daniel Marcus, entered the waiting room. "Det. Ellison?"

"Dr. Marcus, how is he?" Jim asked, his expression anxious.

Dr. Marcus smiled. "He'll be fine. He's in recovery right now, and was already showing signs of regaining consciousness. We'll be moving him to ICU in the next twenty minutes or so. You can see him once he's settled, and I've already left permission for you to stay with him, on the condition that you at least *try* to get some sleep on the cot to be provided."

Jim smiled. "Yes, I promise. Thank you, Dr. Marcus."

"You're welcome. Gentlemen."

Jim looked around, and saw his relief echoed in the faces of his and Blair's friends, gathered there waiting for word.

"You see, Jim?" said Simon quietly. "You just gotta have faith."

"Yeah. Thanks, Simon." Simon patted his shoulder and chewed the cigar he couldn't smoke.

A half hour later, Jim was shown to Blair's room. They had only had to shave a small bit of hair at the back of Blair's head, easily hidden by the rest of his hair. Blair would be happy to still have his long hair, Jim thought with amusment. Blair was very vain about his long hair, despite the teasing he sometimes took because of it. Jim sat down in the hard plastic chair beside the bed and settled in to wait.

Three hours later, a change in Blair's vitals alerted Jim to the fact that Blair was waking up. He moved to sit down on the edge of the bed and took Blair's hand. "Chief? Blair? Can you hear me?" he asked softly. His voice had a slight rasp to it, from being strangled. His doctor said it would go away in a couple of days.

"Hmm."

"Blair? C'mon, Chief, open those eyes for me."

Blair's eyes fluttered and slowly opened. Blair blinked, his vision clearing. "Jim?"

"Hey, Chief. Welcome back." Jim smiled at him.

Blair looked around. He frowned. "Hospit'l? Why?"

"It's not important right now, Blair. You just rest and get better."

Blair reached out to touch Jim's throat, which had an ugly set of bruises ringing it. Blair looked him in the eye. "You OK?"

"I am now." Jim brushed his hand over the bandage surrounding Blair's head. "Thank you, Blair."

"Wha' for?" Blair asked sleepily.

"For saving my life."

Blair gave a lop-sided smile. "S'what...brothers do."

A broad smile lit Jim's face as he nodded. "Yeah. They do. Go to sleep now, little brother. I'm here, and you're safe."

Blair's eyes were already closing, his breathing and heartrate slowing down as sleep once more claimed him. But his hold on Jim's hand didn't loosen. When a nurse came to check Blair's vitals a few minutes later, she found Jim sound asleep, head pillowed on one arm on the side of Blair's bed, the other still grasping Blair's in a firm hold. She just smiled and let them both sleep.



From: Linda Maclaren <fourpaws@qnet.com>

Gift for Julie - by Mackie

The crushing weight against his chest made him long for oblivion again, but tendrils of consciousness forced him back toward awareness. Deep breaths were impossible, so he was forced to gasp with short, rapid pants in an effort to force air into his pain-wracked body. He could smell smoke and something sharper, more pungent, tainting the air.

Sounds were garbled and distant to his ringing ears: voices shouting incoherently, bleeding into one another with their efforts to be heard, the crackle of flames, and the thud of large objects falling or being moved, a loud hiss that could have been pressurized gas...no, the sound came from fire extinguishers.

He tried to form words in the dryness of his mouth, but only the merest whisper escaped, lost in the cacophony of noises. "Jim?"

There was no answer to his nearly silent plea, so he struggled to remove the weight pinning him down. It wasn't as heavy as he'd first feared -- a toppled desk chair. He was able to shift it, although the effort took almost all of his meager remaining energy.

He looked around before attempting to rise. He was wedged between the wall and Jim's desk. At least he thought it was Jim's desk -- most the contents were strewn on the floor around him, so there was no immediate way to recognize the desk itself. But it was approximately in the right position with relation to the wall and side door of the bullpen, although it was skewed from its normal alignment.

Reaching up, he gripped the edge of the desk and pulled himself up. A moan escaped his lips as new aches assailed him, but sitting up gave him a greater sense of control.

The bullpen was a mess. The front double doors and nearby windows had shattered inward. Much of the ceiling was collapsed, great gaping holes revealing the crawlspace above. Some panels hanging down still swung slowly in the aftermath of the blast. Cables and wires dangled from above, but if there had been sparks or threat of fire, it wasn't apparent anymore. A uniformed police officer Blair didn't recognize held an aggressive stance in the middle of the room, a fire extinguisher held like a weapon in his hands as he searched for any errant spark that had missed his first perusal.

In fact, the room was filling quickly with people he didn't recognize, people who had come from all over the building to help.

Blair did his best to assess his own injuries. He'd taken a solid thump on his head, which caused a dull headache that thudded in time to his heart. But his vision was clear, so he figured he'd missed any serious injury. Numerous cuts stung his cheeks, tiny rivulets of blood trickling down to his chin. He continued his inventory. He flexed his fingers. They all in good working order, although his left wrist felt extremely tender; maybe he'd strained it when he'd fallen. Arms, feet, and legs all seemed to be functioning correctly. His chest hurt where the chair had struck him, but he was breathing without difficulty. His ribs hurt a lot, and he reckoned he'd bruised or cracked a few.

Inventory completed, he figured it was time to try to stand up. Easing his legs beneath him, he pushed himself to his knees.

Whoa! Some dizziness there. He clung to the desk until the whirling bullpen settled down again. The wave of dizziness brought a cold sweat and a churning nausea, and he waited with dreadful anticipation for it to pass. He breathed deeply despite the resulting aches, and his stomach finally settled again.

"You should stay there," an unfamiliar voice advised. "The paramedics are on their way."

He never saw the speaker clearly, but nodded as the figure swept past him deeper into the bullpen. Ignoring the advice, he managed to stand. The room spun wildly again, and he clung grimly to the desk in an effort to sustain his hard-won success. The dizziness lasted longer this time, and he felt chilled and weak when it finally passed.

He had no time for this. He looked around, seeking the familiar figure he most wanted to see. There was no sign of him amid the chaos. Straightening with determination, he began a slow, shuffling circuit of the room.

He found Megan first. Her desk had been one of the closest to the doors and had taken the brunt of the explosion. She was sitting against the wall, the floor around her littered with shards of glass and other debris. Someone was with her, helping her hold a towel against a deep gash in her scalp.

She was conscious and looked up at him with bleary awareness. "Sandy, are you all right?"

His first attempt to speak caused him to cough, but he swallowed a few times and found his voice. "I think so. How about you?"

She gestured vaguely in the direction of the hall. "Not bad, considering."

Blair hardly spared a glance for the destruction in the hall outside, where several officers were taping off the crime scene and its grisly remains. It was funny, but the explosion was etched permanently in his memory. He recalled the nervous deliveryman exiting the elevator. He could see the box clutched so desperately in the man's hands the moment before it exploded. "Do they know who he was?"

Henri eased a hip against the ruins of Megan's desk. "I doubt there's enough of him left to identify." Although his words were calm, his wide-eyed expression and the ashen pallor of his face testified to his shock.

Blair didn't care about the bomber. He was grateful the bomb had gone off prematurely -- even if the bomber had planned to kill himself in the blast, it was more likely he'd intended to detonate it inside the bullpen rather than in the hallway, where the damage would be less severe -- but he had more urgent matters on his mind. "Have you seen Jim?"

Henri flexed his shoulders as if working out stiffness. "No, I don't think he's here. If you're all right here, Connor, I need to get back to my partner." He looked at Blair. "You should sit down until the paramedics check you out."

He managed a slight smile. "So I've heard."

Satisfied at least two of his colleagues were all right, he stood up to continue his tour of the demolished room. Ricardo, one of the uniformed officers who regularly worked with the detectives, was unconscious, and paramedics were already checking him out. Two other officers hovered anxiously nearby awaiting word on their friend.

Rafe was sitting on the floor against a toppled desk, and he was clearly in a lot of pain. Judging from the way he rocked slightly from side to side and cradled his arm, he probably had a broken bone. Henri and Rhonda were tending to him, and Blair decided not to interrupt them.

People were scrambling around, clearing debris from other victims still buried in the rubble. Blair searched their faces, looking for the one he most needed to see. Everyone, even the uninjured, looked dazed by the sudden violence that had shattered the day's normal routine. He watched it all with a sense of detachment, his thoughts fixated on finding his partner to make certain he'd survived the blast.

"Sandburg?"

It took a moment to recognize the sound of his name, and he turned sluggishly toward the speaker.

Simon, equally dazed, looked at him in concern. "Sandburg, you need to sit down." He held a cell phone to his ear, listened for a moment, and then snapped an impatient answer to some question.

"How are you, Simon?" Blair asked, noting the myriad tiny cuts crisscrossing the captain's face.

"I'm OK. The blinds in my office blocked a lot of the flying glass. Sandburg, sit down."

"Can't." He shook his head, then instantly regretted the motion. "Gotta find Jim."

Simon looked perplexed. "Blair, he's not here."

Blair looked around the demolished room. For the first time, he noticed the two shrouds covering figures on the floor. The sight sickened him. He turned desperate eyes back to Simon. "Is Jim all right?"

"Sandburg, Jim is fine as far as I know. He had to give a deposition this morning. He's at the DA's office, but I'm sure he'll be back as soon as he hears what happened."

The words finally made sense. Jim was all right. He hadn't been here when the bomb had gone off. He was all right.

Some of the tension faded from Blair's ragged thoughts, and he nodded. "Thanks. I think I'll sit down now."

"Good idea." Simon moved off to continue monitoring the care of the people in his command.

Blair picked his way through the rubble and returned to Jim's desk. Everything had been swept from its surface in the blast, so he had no difficulty finding a place to sit. Hitching a hip over one edge of the desk, he closed his eyes and hung his head, blocking out the sights and noises around him, seeking to calm the turmoil of his thoughts and ease the growing pains flaring through his weary body.

Miraculously, Jim was suddenly beside him. "Blair, are you all right?"

Blair raised his head and smiled. "Jim. You're okay."

Jim looked surprised at the comment. "Of course I'm all right. I wasn't even here," he answered with infuriating practicality. "Let me check you over."

He felt hands brush over his head and neck, then prod cautiously for punctures and fractures. "I think you're okay. Some ribs may be cracked."

"Think so," Blair agreed, starting to feel woozy. "Can we go home now?"

"Soon."

"Okay." He started to sag and felt strong arms wrap around him in support. His cheek rested against the soft fabric of Jim's shirt, and he could hear the reassuring cadence of the heart beating strongly beneath his ear.

"Easy, partner. You're white as a sheet. Just sit still until the paramedics have a chance to look at you."

A cool palm stroked away the thin sheen of sweat beading on his forehead, further sweeping away the tension.

"I think I'll go to sleep now," he mumbled, satisfied with the knowledge that Jim was all right, grateful to have his partner beside him.

It was all right to let go.

The End

Get better soon, Julie.



From: redtoni@earthlink.net

This is for you, Jules, and I hope it makes you smile. I even cleaned up my usual PG-17 language ;-)

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
Undercover Blair
by Toni
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"This was a stupid idea."

Simon bared his teeth in a silent grimace. "Jim, if you say that one more time, I swear I'll order Connor to shoot you."

The Australian inspector's eyes sparkled with glee. "Say it again, Jim," she urged softly, gesturing slightly with the gun in her hands.

Brown snorted his amusement, and Rafe hid a smile.

The joking was a way to reduce the tension they were all under. Yet, none of the detectives exchanged so much as a glance. All five had their eyes glued to the same thing--a man standing some thirty feet away, deeper in the alley. All five wore headsets tuned the same frequency--the wire worn by that man.

That man was Blair. He and two other men stood by a door leading to one of the buildings next to the alley. The three were talking. Actually, Blair was talking and the other two were listening.

Jim didn't need the earpiece to hear the conversation, yet he used it, keeping his hearing dialed back to normal level. He didn't want to risk a zone-out or being deafened by some unexpected noise. The earpiece conveyed to him the sound of Blair's voice; his knowledge of his friend conveyed to him the certainty that Blair was terrified, but hiding it completely.

Jim's jaw ached from clenching his teeth. God damn it anyway! he fumed. Who's stupid idea was this--putting Blair within reach of these sadistic bastards? His undercover bit on the Zeller case had been bad enough, but at least the kid had been wearing a vest. But not this time. Hard to hide a Kevlar vest under the tie-dyed T-shirt and cut-off denim shorts Blair had to wear as part of his disguise.

To complete his "ensemble," as he'd called it, Blair wore a pair of old leather sandals and his glasses, and his long, curly brown hair hung loose and rather unkempt around his face. "I am the very model of a modern hippy punk," he'd joked. The joking had stopped when they went to put the wire on him. Blair'd been horrified to learn where they planned to hide it--"You want to tape it to *what*?!"

Still, he'd refused to back out, in spite of Jim's protests to Blair, to Simon, and to anyone else within earshot. Blair reminded Jim that he, Blair Sandburg, was the only member of the Major Crimes team that Saunders and Gold hadn't ID'd as a cop, and furthermore, he was the only one of them who could pass as Wayne Stancil, neo-hippy flower child.

And what the hell was I supposed to say to that? Jim asked himself. Was I supposed to tell him he's *not* a member of the team? He is. Of course he is. But he's not a cop. And I can't protect him when he's way the hell over there talking to these two psychos about blowing up half of the university.

Jim's inner monologue was interrupted as the surprising sound of Blair chuckling came to him through the earpiece. "Dude, really?" Blair was saying. "Oh, please, that's just so bogus. Don't make me laugh." Jim smiled grimly; Jesus, his partner had guts. And he sounded exactly like Stancil, who'd they'd arrested the day before.

One of the criminals--the blond named Gold--spoke. "What's so funny, you hippy jerk? It's a good plan."

Saunders--shorter and dark-haired--held up a hand, silencing his volatile associate. "Mr. Stancil, what's wrong with the plan?" he asked calmly.

"There's nothing wrong with it!" Gold interrupted. Swiftly, he crossed to Blair. Muscular, well over six feet tall, Gold made quick work of lifting Blair off his feet and shoving him hard against the building at his back. "Does my plan sound better now, runt?"

Megan started in surprise and her eyes flickered to Jim. Had she just heard him growl? From the expression on his face, she decided that she had. He looked like he was ready to leap out and shoot both criminals. She put a calming hand on his shoulder, but he gave no sign of noticing.

Though his feet dangled a good eight inches above the ground and Gold had thunked his head hard against the building, Blair kept his cool. He maintained a firm grip on his stuck-in-the-Sixties flower child persona. In a highly aggrieved tone, he complained, "Hey, Conan, what's with the display? You are, like, so invading my space."

Simon bit back a smile. Jim continued to give Gold a glare that should've fried him on the spot.

"All I'm saying," Blair went on, grunting a bit as Gold tightened his hold, "is there's a better, you know, more karmic, way to do this. And I've got it all figured out."

"You do?" Saunders said, disbelief obvious in his dark, cold eyes.

Blair swallowed. "Uh, can you give Godzilla here, like, a Scooby Snack or something? You know, call off the dogs of war and all that? He's really messing with my inner peace."

Simon chuckled almost soundlessly. Brown murmured, "You tell 'em, Hairboy."

Saunders gestured at Gold to release Blair. The angry man complied, rather abruptly, and Blair landed hard on his feet. "So, Mr. Stancil?" Saunders asked. "You have a better plan?"

Rolling his shoulders and giving Gold a nasty glare, Blair said, "Oh, yeah, man. I am, like, Stan the man with the better plan." His eyes widened. "Wow, I gotta remember that line. Probably a poem or a meditation in there somewhere."

Saunders rolled his eyes, Simon chuckled again, and Jim muttered, "Don't bury yourself in the part, Chief."

Unfortunately, Blair wore only a transmitter, not a receiver, and so missed that excellent advice. However, the lack of an earpiece saved his eardrums from the shrieking scream of feedback that suddenly blasted through the receivers worn by the Major Crimes team.

The feedback was so loud and piercing that both Saunders and Gold turned toward the mouth of the alley and the Dumpster sitting near it.

"What the hell was that?" Gold demanded at the same time that five detectives tore off their headphones with barely muffled exclamations of intense agony. Involuntarily, they had risen from their crouched positions and the criminals spotted them. Gold screamed, "It's a set-up! Run!"

All hell broke loose.

Gold ran, drawing his gun as he went.

The five Major Crimes detectives pulled themselves together and stood, weapons trained down the alley. Jim yelled, "Sandburg, drop!" and Simon shouted, "Cascade Police! Everybody freeze! Now!"

Blair, eyes starting from their sockets, hit the ground instantly.

Saunders, seeing Gold draw a gun, knowing his associate's aim was never good even at the best of times, and having no gun of his own, threw himself down out of the line of fire. He began to curse fluently, angrily, continuously.

Gold got off several wild shots as he made his dash for freedom, and the Major Crimes detectives scrambled for cover as the bullets ricocheted off various surfaces. Rising again, the detectives raced down the alley.

Simon barked orders. "Brown, Rafe, catch that son-of-a-bitch! Connor cuff this one. Ellison--"

"Sandburg!"

Jim's anguished yell brought all eyes to him. Holstering his weapon, he dropped down by his partner. Blair lay on his stomach, bloody strands of hair covering his face.

All of them had frozen for an instant. Simon recovered first and yelled, "Brown, Rafe, go! Go! Connor, get the cuffs on that man! Move, people!"

Henri and Rafe, with worried looks at Blair, took off after the fleeing shooter. Megan set about cuffing Saunders, who offered no resistance but merely lay on his face, continuing to curse softly.

Simon knelt down by Jim. "Ellison, what--?"

But Jim's attention was all for his partner. Carefully, he turned the grad student onto his back. Blair's glasses were spattered with blood and hair was plastered to his face by the crimson liquid. He didn't move.

"Blair?" Jim said softly. "Sandburg, are you all right?" He carefully pushed the bloody hair from Blair's face and lifted the glasses off. Blair's eyes were closed.

"Was he hit?" Simon demanded. "Ellison, was he hit?"

Jim was checking, wiping the blood from the pale face. "I can't find....wait, here it is," he said. A loud sigh escaped his lips. "Looks like a bullet creased his forehead. Not too deep, thank God, just a hell of a lot of blood."

As Jim's sensitive fingers probed the wound, Blair inhaled sharply, his eyes flying open. "Jim!" he exclaimed, arms flying up as though to ward off more bullets.

Jim caught the waving arms. "Hey, take it easy, buddy. Don't move. You're okay."

"What--what happened? Oh, no! Oh, man, did I blow it? Jim, did I--"

"No!" Simon's gruff voice penetrated the grad student's frantic questions. "No, Sandburg, you did fine. The damn equipment malfunctioned. We all got a blast of feedback somehow and it tipped Saunders and Gold. We've got Saunders here and Brown and Rafe went after Gold. But *you* did fine."

Blue eyes flew to Jim's face, seeking confirmation. Jim smiled and nodded firmly and the blue eyes closed briefly in relief. They flew open again as Blair exclaimed, "My head! Did I get shot? Jim--"

Again, Jim held his partner steady. "You're fine, Blair. You got creased by a bullet. Not too deep. Head wounds just bleed like hell. You're okay." He grinned down at his partner and held up his own bloody hands for inspection. "Just messy, as usual."

Blair managed a weak smile. "Can you get me up, man? I think there's, like,a boulder digging in my spine."

"Not many boulders in the city limits, Sandy." Megan had cuffed Saunders and was crouched next to him.

"You're not the one lying on it, Megs."

"Chief, you're staying put till we get the paramedics here to check you out."

"No way, man! No ambulance. You can take me by the ER to get my head bandaged."

"Hey, Captain!" Rafe's voice rang out from the mouth of the alley. "How's Blair?"

Jim, Simon, and Megan looked that way and saw that Brown and Rafe with Gold cuffed between them.

"He's fine!" Simon called. "Good job getting the shooter. Put him in a car."

Rafe grinned and waved, and he and Brown escorted their prisoner away.

Blair was scrabbling for a handhold on the smooth material of Jim's Kevlar vest. "Up, Jim," he insisted. "Get me up. Please."

"Okay, okay," Jim told him. "Here we go."

Jim got him to his feet and Blair smiled triumphantly. "See?" he said. "Told you I was....whoa, Jim, why're there two of you? Man, as if one wasn't enough--"

His eyes rolled up in his head and his knees gave way.

Jim caught him easily.

"Oh yeah," the captain said, shaking his head. "He's obviously fine."

Holding the smaller man against him, Jim glanced at Simon. The sentinel's expression was fierce.

"Fine, sir? He's great!"

*~End~*



From: Khinsaia Dragonsight <khinsaia@hotmail.com>

They're More Dangerous Than You'd Think
By Khinsaia

"Jeez, Sandburg, you look awful."

"Thanks Joel. That makes me put much better." Blair knew his voice was shaking. "Where's Jim?"

"He should be back in a minute. Just ran down to evidence...."

Then the room faded out.

"Chief? Chief? C'mon Chief , wake up."

Gentle hands touched Blair's face. "Jim? Jim, what am I doing on the floor, man?" He tried to sit up but Jim kept pushing him back down.

"How are you feeling, Chief? " Ellison looked down at his battered partner.

"Jim, I feel like I ran a marathon, lost, and was then beaten up by the disappointed spectators."

Jim stifled a snicker. " Well, at least your sense of humor seem okay. What happened? You look like you've been beaten up."

"Nothing so mundane, Jim, Nothing so mundane. I got run down by a rollerblader on campus."

"What!! Sandburg, correct me if I'm wrong, but did you say you got run down by a 'Rollerblader'? "

"So! Jim, man, stop laughing. This is soo not funny." Sandburg tried again to sit up and this time Jim let him. " Oh man, this sucks. I think my hair hurts."

"C'mon Chief, let's get you to the hospital." Ellison helped the anthropologist to stand, steadying him when he staggered. "Now tell me again how you managed to get a concussion from someone on skates."

"Blades are not skates, Jim. I don't need to go to the hospital."

"Chief, you collapsed in front of Joel and Simon. You ARE going to the hospital." He tightened his gripped on his injured guide.

"Alright, alright. No need to get violent, Jim. Jeez."

"Now will you kindly tell me what happened." The sentinel assisted Blair into the truck.

"Yeah, well I was walking from my class to the parking lot and this biker came barreling toward me. So I moved. Then being run over by a Blader. I swear that woman didn't even pause. She just got up, yelled watch it and man, she was out of there. Must have been trying to set a record or something." Blair shook his head and moaned, instantly regretting the action.

"Chief, you didn't drive like this, did you?" Jim's voice had the tone of a worried parent deciding whether or not to kill their child.

"No way man. I'm hurt, I'm not stupid, Jim." Sandburg shot Ellison a look that practically screamed Injured Innocence. "What are you smiling at?"

"Only you, Sandburg, only you could manage to get run over by a woman on rollerblades." The snicker was back in Jim's voice.

"Hey man, those things are more dangerous than they look."

The End

Having personally nearly been run over by bikers and nearly running over people in the Get to Class rush, Bikes and Blades really are more dangerous than they look. (If you don't know what you're doing, or you're not paying attention especially.)

Feel Better Soon, Julie



From: Jo Ann <poyznelf@enter.net>

For Julie.

Now that I have gotten thru that wedding I can devote myself to my fiction again. And reading all the good stuff on this list. Man do I have a lot of LoCs to write. Not beta'd and since it is set in my AU it is that weird first person present tense thing again.

Jo Ann

LEFT BEHIND: A CRESTING THE WAVE MISSING SCENE
By: Jo Ann Thompson

"Does it hurt to remember, does it help to forget.
Do you know what you started, when you lit the fuse of regret.

There's not a reason why, you've come undone.
There's nothing left to justify, this can't go on.
There's nothing left inside as I walk this broken land.
"Paper Sun" by Def Leppard from the Euphoria CD

You know it's kind of peaceful. If your into dark, lonely roads in the middle of dark, scary forests.

As I continue my stumbling walk through this sylvan area, I try using my chant to help center myself.

But it only works until I sprawl face down in the dusty logging road.

I am beginning to think that maybe I should try another mantra. Listing all the tests I am gonna run on my errant Sentinel, when and if I ever see him again.

I think I should have put that if in capital letters.

I mean I know where I am.

Approximately.

I even have an idea of how far I might have to go until I reach the main highway. But--

Will anybody willingly pickup a restrained, wandering, long-haired freak?

I don't think so!

Oh yeah I guess I forgot to mention one tiny detail at the beginning of my monologue. Okay maybe a few things.

One--I am in handcuffs. And yes they are behind my back.

Two--I have a really sore throat from the goons who tried to use me as a human shield from the cops during a botched bank heist as they got away. The lack of water isn't helping.

Three--the robbers were apprehended after a brief shootout with the Cascade PD here in the forest.

Four--Everyone just left me behind. And yes Jim was a part of the arresting unit.

But me I had to go and fall asleep while sitting against a tree. And when I woke up a couple of hours ago--it was nighttime.

Oh yeah and one more thing. Did I mention the fact that I think I dislocated my shoulder in the accident when the robbers' car went out of control and ran off the road into a tree.

And my head hurts too. I think I have a concussion.

So I am going to continue to wander down this road till I come to the main highway. Maybe a cop will drive by and pick me up for something just so I can get fixed up.

But that is still a few miles away, so I must keep on.

I must find my Sentinel.

Does he still want me. I still can't talk. I can't help with supporting the partnership with any financial means cause I don't work. And I still have no memory beyond the dark times. I break into a slow jog.

I hear something. I see golden yellow eyes staring at me Two pairs.

I see the Jaguar and the Wolf...

Do you still hear them screamin'
And does the fear make you run
Is the anger inside of you a gift from father to son.
"Paper Sun" by Def Leppard from the Euphoria CD

END



PAGE 4