Sentinel Fan Fiction Page || Fanfic -- Drama
Summary: Just your standard Blair-napping, right? Well, except for the Blair-napper out for a little payback... Set during early fourth season, pre-TSbyBS.
Notes: This tale was written three years ago this month as a gift for someone. Since then, very few people have seen it. I think at one point it was destined for zine publication, but I think that plan got scrapped. So...I finally decided to haul this sucker out of storage and post it for general consumption. Especially since I'm sorta fond of this story... ~grin~
Spoilers: Well, the title alone ought to give that away...
Beta'ed by Robyn (I think...it's been awhile).
The Bad Guy Next Door
written August 2000; posted August 2003
Opening his eyes, the first thing he noticed was that his head hurt.
The second that it was dark.
The third that the floor was awful damn cold.
Oh, man, where am I? What happened? Lifting a hand to touch his the back of his head, his fingers came away wet and a little slippery. "Sst!" He didn't need any of the non-existent light to know it was blood. Groaning, he rolled onto his side and slowly pushed himself up to a sitting position, leaving one hand flat on the cement floor for balance. His head pounded from the inside out, feeling like it planned to just bounce off any moment. Okay, time to take stock. I do know who I am, so that's out of the way. He touched his forehead again, then slid his hand back to shove lank, damp curls out of the way, wincing at his fingers passed over the sizeable knot on the back of his skull again. Ow!
Pain sparked and the more recent memory of receiving that knot flooded his mind. Man, that is the LAST time I go to the hardware store alone. Geez, talk about being lobbed from behind... Sandburg took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. Okay, just be cool. Just gotta figure out where I am and how to get out. That's all.
Unfortunately, he was pretty sure on why he was...wherever he was. He hadn't been paying too much attention to his surroundings until it was too late. Someone -- he vaguely remembered a large man coming up to him -- hit him across the back of the head, dazing him. Amidst sudden worried voices as he collapsed, that man had "assisted" him from the hardware store, claiming to be a friend who would help him. He tried to protest and struggle, but his body wasn't listening to his pleas.
And aside of the muffled boat horn from somewhere outside, neither was anyone else.
Before he knew it, he had been stuffed into the backseat of his Volvo. Another set of hands had grabbed him and an all-too-familiar voice had whispered in his ear.
'Remember me, Sandburg? 'Cause I sure remember you.'
Blair shuddered and pushed the memory away, wincing again as the movement jarred the sledgehammer in his head to pound harder. Now would be a REALLY good time for those sentinel spider senses to start tingling, Jim...
"Hey, Conner, you seen Sandburg around?"
Megan glanced up from her computer screen to see Jim standing in front of her desk. "I haven't seen Sandy at all today. I thought he was at the University today." She typed in a few more comments on her report before sending it to print.
Jim frowned and tapped his fingers against the thick file he held. "He was. But I just called to ask if he'd be free for a late lunch and the department secretary told me that the lecture he'd been planning to attend had been canceled. She said she saw Sandburg leaving over twenty minutes ago."
"Maybe he had some errands to run."
"Maybe." Jim chewed on his lower lip. "He's not at the loft. And I tried him on his cellphone and got a 'customer not answering' message. I saw him charge the phone last night, so it's not the battery."
Ignoring the report printing out next to her, Megan started to frown as well. "Does he always leave it on?"
Jim nodded. "When he's not with me, yeah. Just...just in case, you know." He fiddled with the case folder as he met her eyes for a moment to make sure she understood what he wasn't saying.
She smiled softly. "Ah. Yes. Just in case you needed some...special help." Absently reaching for the printed case report, she took the papers and tapped them straight. "Well, maybe..." She pursed her lips in thought. "Maybe he's in a dead cell zone or something. You could try him a bit later."
Sighing, Jim shook his head. "You're probably right. I'm overreacting. He's probably fine. Blair says Alex--" He snapped his mouth shut and took a step back from the desk, posture radiating unease.
Megan stood slowly and walked around her desk, report in hand, and stopped next to Jim. She touched his arm with two fingers and said quietly, "After what that Barnes woman did to Sandy, we're all a bit protective, Jim. It's okay." Patting his arm, she offered him another smile, then left him to deliver her finished report to Simon's "to review and sign basket" on Rhonda's desk.
A surprised half-smile on his face, Jim watched her go. He chuckled softly and turned to head back to his desk. He got halfway there when Simon blasted into the bullpen from the outer hallway. Everyone froze under the stern-faced glower from the captain as he jerked to a halt only a few feet into the large room.
Jim tensed, mentally preparing for whatever Simon was about to say.
"Okay, people, we have a situation. I just got word that a prison transport blew a tire and overturned on Collier Road an hour ago. Two guards were jumped and at least one set of keys were stolen. A dozen prisoners made a break for it through the hills. Five of them have been caught and they think they have the rest surrounded. However, they're not sure and need our assistance to close the net. Anyone who can move is ordered to suit up, pair up, and get out there. Captain Howser of the 6th is already on the scene, and we'll be coordinating with him."
Dropping the folder on his desk, Jim caught Megan's eye as she returned to her desk. She returned a quick nod at his unasked question, accepting that aside of Blair or Simon, she'd be the best choice to partner him in this situation where his sentinel skills would most likely come into play.
Raising his voice, Simon continued to speak over the rush of noise as officers hurried to their feet and prepared to leave. "Janssen, you stay here. That leg won't take the terrain out there just yet. Set up in communications to coordinate from here. Move it, people!" The captain moved steadily through the mass of people streaming through the doors; he snagged Jim's arm before the detective could leave with Megan. "Jim, where's your partner? Where's Sandburg?"
Jim blinked and exchanged a quick look with Megan. "Blair? Uh, I'm not exactly sure at the moment. Why?"
"Damn." Growling, Simon yanked a wrinkled, folded square of paper from his pocket. "This is the list of prisoners as yet unaccounted for."
A cold feeling settled into Jim's stomach and he took the paper, staring at it numbly for a moment before nearly tearing it in his rush to open it. His eyes skipped over the list of names, not recognizing any dangerous types until he got near the end. He inhaled sharply and looked up at Simon.
"Artie Parkman? You've got to be kidding me, Simon. Parkman should be in a hole somewhere, not sitting in some transport on a pleasure trip."
Simon raised a placating hand. "Jim, I know, I know."
Jim fumed and thrust the list back at Simon. "That putz was about to put a bullet in Sandburg's brain for not telling him something he didn't know!"
Megan watched in silence, eyes widening as the two men's voices grew louder.
"Jim! Just cool it. I know that." Simon blew out his breath and ran a hand over his forehead. "Look, just get out there and do what you can. Hopefully Parkman is still wandering through the trees."
The captain held up a hand, interrupting Jim's plea before it began. "I need you on the job, Detective. Our best shot is to catch Parkman -- and the rest of them -- before they reach Cascade proper." He waited a beat, then finished, "Understood?"
Jim nodded, his jaw muscles tightening. His eyes flashed once in suppressed frustration, but subsided quickly. "Understood, sir. C'mon, Conner." He strode out the door, long legs taking him into the hallway in moments.
Megan paused a moment and looked at Simon. "Who's Artie Parkman?"
Simon sighed. "Long story. Let's just say Sandburg is not one of his favorite people. Ellison can fill you in."
"CONNER!! Are you coming or what?" Jim's voice echoed in a roar from the direction of the elevators.
Giving Simon an abortive half-nod, Megan hurried out the door before Jim left without her. The captain sighed, squeezed the bridge of his nose, then followed his detectives.
Easing himself slowly to his feet, one hand holding his head to make sure it stayed attached to his neck, Blair started to move around in the dark. One hand in front of him, he bumped into a rough wall, fingertips scraping along the surface. Hugging the wall, he moved carefully, finding corners and mapping out the space in his mind. Kinda on the small side...I can deal. The surface changed texture abruptly under his fingers, and he jerked to a stop. Hello... He realized with a start that he was touching cold metal.
The door! And with a door traditionally comes a doorknob...
Scrabbling with his hands, he traced the sides of the door, looking for a handle...a knob...anything that he could grab and pull. Oh please, oh please, oh please...yes! He grasped the knob and wiggled it hopefully.
His brief moment of elation died when the knob just sat there in his grasp, refusing to budge. A quick search of his pockets revealed nothing of use -- no keys, no pocketknife, no wallet, no watch, not even lint. Blair thudded his fist on the door several times, then rested his forehead against the metal.
"Well, isn't this a fine mess you've gotten yourself into, Ollie." He chuckled to himself, then lifted his head as he banged on the door again. "Hey! I'm awake in here! Anybody out there?!?" No answer. "Parkman! I know you're out there. You got me. What do you want?"
Harsh white light flooded the room, sending Blair reeling back from the door, eyes squeezed tight in pain. Stumbling, he fell, landing hard on one hip. He hissed between his teeth at the sharp twinge, but ignored it in favor of squinting at the door as it swung open. Struggling back to a sitting position, one hand landed on something vaguely sticky and he glanced down only long enough to identify it as a bright pink candy wrapper. Then he looked quickly back up as a figure, face shrouded by the shadows seeping inward from the hallway, stepped into the room.
"Nice of you to join us, Mr. Sandburg." The voice was coldly familiar
"Parkman," Blair said after a moment. He strained to identify anything about the hallway behind Parkman, but it was too dark and what he could see looked terribly nondescript. Pushing himself to his feet, Blair stood, forcing himself to stay steady, belying the still pounding headache and the anxiousness stirring inside him. "When did they let you out of your cage?"
"It was a sudden decision." Parkman took another step, letting the light hit him. "Call it an early parole, if you will."
Blair blinked as he recognized the orange coveralls assigned to prisoners. "Nice clothes -- the color suits you."
A gun in one hand, Parkman only smiled and folded his other hand over the gun. Another man -- a very large man dressed in black leathers whom Blair mentally labeled as a "thug" -- appeared behind Parkman, blocking most of the doorway. He also had a gun, albeit a slightly larger one.
Parkman walked further into the room, and Blair had to force himself to remain still as the man drew closer to him. He swallowed as his eyes darted from Parkman to the thug and back again. "So, uh, now what?"
A rather chilling smile was his only response as Parkman raised his gun.
Outside the building, a group of birds clustered on a telephone pole and adjoining wires took flight, startled by the multiple reports of gunshots from inside.
"...so Iris plea-bargained and Parkman went to jail."
Jim finished the clipped version of the story as he and Megan arrived at the command center set up at the scene of the accident. He parked the truck on the shoulder behind several other police vehicles and turned off the engine. Sitting back in the driver's seat, Jim sighed and watched the organized confusion outside.
Next to him, Megan unclipped her seatbelt and shifted sideways to look at Jim. "Sandy really put Iris in the trunk of his car?"
A half-smile flickered onto Jim's features. "Yeah. He told us later that he'd actually found her in the trunk of her car. Her ex-boyfriend Chance had stuffed her in there." He shook his head. "You would think that might've been a clue that maybe Sandburg should've stayed away from her."
Megan chuckled softly and pulled the lever on the door, opening it and sliding from the vehicle. Jim followed suit after a moment and the two of them wove in and among vehicles, gawkers, media, and police officials to reach the command post. A quick briefing with Captain Howser brought them up to speed on which prisoners were still at-large.
"...We've apprehended all but three of the prisoners: Stiller, Kopesivec, and Parkman. And we know they're moving faster since we found their restraints in the woods along with the stolen set of keys." Howser missed Jim's jaw muscles tightening, although Megan noticed and touched his shoulder briefly.
Forcing himself to pay attention, Jim watched as Howser indicated the map held flat on the patrol car hood. "The search area has been enlarged. We have two groups working inward from Cascade here...and here. The rest are moving outward in standard search patterns."
Jim traced a line through the forest on the map. "Any idea where those three might've headed?"
Howser answered with quick nod. "Stiller's a survivalist. We're pretty sure he's headed further into the mountains. I've got a team tracking him. Kopesivec and Parkman are Cascade natives, though Kopesivec knows his way around the woods better. They're both extremely clever and have so far eluded us." Howser paused and met Jim's eyes carefully. "Your captain tells me that Parkman could be after your partner."
Jim nodded sharply. "It's a possibility. I haven't been able to get in touch with Sandburg this afternoon to warn--" He stopped abruptly as an oddly familiar voice caught his ear, peaking the interest of his sentinel hearing.
"Oh, c'mon, man, I wasn't doing anything. Ow!"
Twisting around, Jim followed the voice with his eyes -- and landed squarely on someone else from the year-old Iris case.
Megan turned as Jim stepped away from the patrol car. "Jim? What is it?"
Without giving her an answer, Jim strode away, heading towards the prisoner transport bus where a prison guard was shoving a orange jumpsuit-clad man to the door of the bus. As he neared the bus, Jim raised his voice. "Can you hold it a moment? I want to talk to him."
The guard paused and looked up in surprise as Jim jogged to a stop next to him. "You would be...?"
Jim pulled out his badge. "Detective Ellison, Major Crimes." After tucking the badge away again, Jim dropped a hand on the prisoner's shoulder and smiled in a not-so-nice way. "This...gentleman and I need to have a little chat, don't we, Chance?"
The guard nodded and walked away, leaving Jim alone with Chance.
Chance stared at him, mouth hanging open, eyes wide, recognition clear on his features. "I don't know anything, man, I swear."
Jim gripped Chance's shoulder more tightly. "Oh, I don't know about that. Your good friend Parkman was on this bus and is still out there somewhere. Surely you must have some idea of where he might've gone."
"No, man, I swear, I don't know nothing! Parkman don't talk to me, man. He doesn't even look at me." Chance's eyes shifted away from Jim to a spot behind him. A sudden vacant smile lit his face. "Oh, hey there..."
Glancing over his shoulder, Jim found Megan standing just behind and to the side of him. He chuckled and turned back to Chance. "Conner, this is Chance. You know, Iris' little boy-toy."
Chance futilely tried to pull away from Jim. "Hey, man, I'm nobody's boy-toy, especially not Iris's. She double-crossed me, man, left me there to take the blame." He lifted his chained wrists as evidence. "She wanted to take off with that other guy, the one whose car...we...stole..." His voice trailed off and he swallowed as he remembered just who that guy was. "Oh."
Jim just glared at him, then said to Megan without turning his head, "Conner, can you see if there's a body bag in one of the patrol cars? I think I might need it."
"You sure, Jim? I mean, Captain Banks said we've overbudgeted on those this month." She folded her arms. "Didn't you see the department memo about cutting costs?"
Jim pushed Chance into the side of the bus. "I'm sure he won't mind just this one."
"Yes, I would, Ellison. You know how I feel about the budget." Simon's voice broke into the conversation as he joined them. "Oh, look, it's our good friend Chance."
Chance swallowed rapidly and looked from one man to the other as Simon stepped to his other side, effectively trapping Chance between the two larger cops. Simon stuck a cigar in his mouth and grinned at the frightened man. Behind Jim, Megan lifted a hand to cover her mouth, hiding the amused smile that wanted to appear.
"Chance here was just telling me what he knows about Parkman, weren't you, Chance?" Jim said calmly.
"I told you, man, I don't know anything." Chance squinted his eyes closed and gestured briefly. "Parkman doesn't talk to me. Just that Kopes guy."
Megan frowned and interjected, "Kopesivec?"
"Yeah, him." Chance nodded rapidly, trying to ignore the two large cops in favor of Megan. "They've been real chummy. Talking about old haunts and where to get good help." He smiled fatuously at Megan again. "You're prettier than Iris was, you know."
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't even think about it, bucko."
Simon and Jim ignored the byplay and frowned at each other. Simon commented, "Kopesivec. That name sounded familiar to me when I saw it on Howser's list. Why is that?"
Jim chewed at his lower lip. "I'm not sure, sir. But you're right. It is familiar."
"He's that candy dude, dudes." Chance giggled at his own words. "You know, but with a K."
Jim shifted his eyes to stare at Chance a moment, then his mouth dropped open in recognition. "He's right. Kopesivec. I remember now. Narcotics busted him a couple months back. He was selling drugs packaged to look like wrapped hard candy. He was using a legal business as a cover, uh..."
Simon snapped his fingers. "Kops Kandy. I remember." He yanked the cigar out of his mouth and strode away, yelling across the street. "Brown! Rafe! Don't go anywhere. We may need you. And somebody get me Captain Woester in Narcotics."
"Guard," Jim called. "We're finished here." He patted Chance on the cheek. "Nice talking to you, Chance." He and Megan headed off, passing the guard on the way.
Chance stared after them. "Hey, wait a minute. Don't I get something in return? C'mon, man..."
The first several shots streaked past him in a blur of sound, imbedding themselves in the wall behind him. The next couple whistled by his torso as he raised his hands to cover his face. The last one tore through the outer edge of his upper arm, throwing him to the ground with a pained grunt.
Blair rolled onto his right side, curling into a ball and covering his head waiting for more gunshots, but none came. Only the sound of Parkman's amused laughter echoed in the small room. Slowly Blair sat up and clutched his upper left arm, glad to feel that the bullet had left only a deep groove rather than a hole. He glared at Parkman and the grinning thug. "That was not funny, man."
Parkman's laughter faded away, but his half-smile remained. "Oh, I thought it was." He tossed the gun to the thug behind him and got another, a revolver, in return. He spun the bullet chamber a few times before locking it into position. "Know what else is fun?" Moving to stand right in front of Blair, Parkman looked down at him, then rested the end of the gun barrel against Blair's forehead. "Deciding how long I should make you wait before I kill you."
Gritting his teeth, Blair forced himself not to look away from Parkman or to pull away from the unwelcome gun. "Just what is your problem, man? It wasn't my fault Iris and Chance decided to take the drugs for themselves. I had nothing to do with that. Damnit, it was all just a stupid coincidence!" He closed his fingers more tightly around his arm, feeling blood, although thankfully only a trickle, soaking his sleeve. "I didn't know anything then; I still don't know anything now. What do you want?!"
"What do I want?" Parkman paused, but kept the gun where it was. "That's quite simple. A little revenge before I continue on my way out of the country. I hear the Caribbean is quite nice this time of year."
Blair laughed shortly. "Ha. Didn't they teach you in little bad guys' school that coming back for revenge always gets you caught? Jim will find--"
Parkman pulled the trigger on the gun. The click of the empty chamber reverberated in Blair's ears and he let out a half-pant, half-gasp. Grinning again, Parkman lowered the gun and stepped back. "That's what I'm counting on, Sandburg. I owe Ellison as well."
"You leave Jim alone!" Pushing himself to his feet in one movement, Blair reached for Parkman.
The gun struck Blair across the face, knocking him back to the floor again. Parkman moved forward and casually stepped down on Blair's right hand, putting just enough pressure on it to cause Blair to gasp.
"Don't push your luck, Blair-boy." Parkman increased the weight on Blair's hand and smiled as he felt the bones grind beneath his shoe. "I might run out of patience. And you don't want that, believe me."
Blair squeezed his eyes shut, trying to block out the pain in his hand. To his shame, a whimper slipped from between his lips as Parkman rolled forward, adding more pressure. He felt something crack and wondered vaguely if it was anything permanent. When Parkman stepped away, the relief of being able to roll to his side and curl his injured hand to his chest quickly vanished under the onslaught of hurt emanating from it.
Something clattered to the ground next to his face and he opened his eyes to see his cellphone just inches from his nose. Looking up at Parkman, he opened his mouth to say something, but Parkman beat him to it.
"Call him. Invite to our little party." Nonchalantly, he pulled a tiny candy from his pocket, unwrapped it, and popped it in his mouth. The wrapper drifted to the floor. Part of Blair's consciousness noticed the bright pick color as it hit the floor. He jerked his attention back to Parkman as the man chuckled. "The more, the merrier, they say." Another quick grin, then Parkman and the thug left, slamming and locking the door behind them.
Blair stared at the phone and blinked a few times. Do I call Jim? Warn him? Stop him? Still in orange coveralls or not, Parkman wasn't a man to mess with and who knew how many men he had with him. Knowing Jim, he'd barge in without back-up and get killed in the process. He gnawed at his lower lip. If I call him, he'll come after Parkman. But if I don't, he'll still come after Parkman -- just later. Unwillingly, he stretched his good hand towards his link with Jim.
And then the lights snapped off, plunging him back into darkness.
Fumbling and muttering a few choice words, Blair managed to grab the cellphone. He shoved himself backwards until his back hit a wall. His injured shoulder protested and he had to pause to let it -- and his useless hand -- calm down before he flipped open the phone and pressed the "on" button. The display lit up and he gaped at the words flashing back at him.
"Oh, that's just...just...peachy!"
"Damnit, Simon, you've got to be kidding me!" Tucking the phone between his shoulder and ear, Jim rounded the corner of the mountain road, skidding slightly but ignoring it as he continued speeding back to Cascade, police light flashing brightly. "Six different factories? Spread all over the city?"
In the truck cab next to him, Megan kept one hand braced in the window frame and the other on the dashboard, mentally reminding herself to thank Sandy for the advice. Between gritted teeth, she hissed, "Jimbo, getting us killed in an auto wreck isn't going to help us or Sandy. Either slow down or let me drive."
Jim threw a glare at her, but lifted his foot slightly -- lowering the speed back to a more reasonable 80 mph. He returned his attention to Simon who had remained at the prisoner transport site to talk to Captain Woester by phone. Woester had relayed all pertinent information to Simon who was now telling Jim even as he himself sped into town some 10 minutes behind Jim.
"I'm sorry, Jim. That's what Woester told me. Six different factories. All possibilities. And no way we've got the manpower to cover them all at once. That's why it took Narcotics so long to get Kopesivec pinned -- he moved around a lot."
Growling beneath his breath, Jim took a breath and blew it out forcefully. "Simon, I don't like this. I tried to get in touch with Blair, but I still can't find him. No one's seen him. If Parkman got all the way into Cascade and found him--"
"Jim, the odds of Parkman running into Blair as soon as he stepped foot into Cascade...well, they're pretty low."
"But still possible. Especially if he had contacts. Which he could've."
On the other end of the line, Simon sighed. "All right, look, do what you can. Take the two factories on the west end. Brown and Rafe are only minutes behind you. They can act as back-up. I'll split up the other four with Woester's men. Call me if you find anything."
"Will do." Jim disconnected and dropped the phone next to him. Their speed rose again as soon as Jim had both hands on the wheel.
Megan shifted slightly and asked, "So what's the plan?"
Jim spared her a quick glance. "We're taking the two on the west end. Simon and Woester's men will cover the rest. Hopefully we'll--"
His cellphone rang again, cutting him off. Snatching it up again, he flipped it open. "Ellison."
"Hey, Jim, it's me."
"Sandburg!!" Jim's voice echoed in the cab and Megan's eyes widened in surprise.
"Where the hell have you been? I have been trying to reach you for hours."
"JIM! Shut up and listen. The battery's about to die on this thing."
Blair overrode Jim's voice, raising his own slightly. "Parkman nabbed me and has me locked in some non-windowed, very dark room. Some kind of warehouse or factory or something. I think this used to be a storage area. Anyway, he wants revenge. Against me. And you. He WANTED me to call you." He paused, then added, "I almost didn't, but I knew you'd be looking for me. What's Parkman doing out anyway? No, wait, tell me later. Right now, I'd just really, really like to get out of here before that man finds a new game he wants to play."
Jim sat up straighter, his hand tightening on the steering wheel alarmingly. A car horn blared as he swerved around a slower vehicle, gathering more speed. "Game? What game? Chief, are you okay? Has he hurt you?"
"Nothing...nothing I can't handle. Just minor stuff."
Megan whispered, "Parkman has Sandy?" At Jim's quick nod, she pulled out her own cellphone to call Simon.
"Damn. Almost out of time." Blair sped up, pushing his words out as fast he could. "Look, there was a candy wrapper on the floor. Bright pink. Parkman had one too."
"Oh! I heard a boat ho--"
"Blair!" Jim growled and slapped the phone shut, nearly throwing it to the seat in his frustration.
Megan jumped. "Jim?"
"Damn battery on his phone ran out."
Nodding, Megan's eyes stayed on Jim as she quickly spoke into the phone. "Captain, this is Conner. Jim just got a call from Sandy ... Parkman has him."
Jim said, "Tell him we might be right about the candy factory idea -- Sandburg found a candy wrapper on the floor. Bright pink just like Kops Kandy." He paused, then frowned. "He also mentioned hearing a boat ... something. He got cut off before he could finish. Started with an 'h'."
Megan relayed Jim's words, then listened for a few moments before adding, "Yes, sir." She brought the phone to her shoulder. "He has another call on the radio." She stared out the window in thought. "You said he heard something to do with a boat... A boat horn, maybe?"
"Possible." Jim nodded. "That would put him near the docks somewhere."
"That's a lot of ground to cover, Jim."
Jim sighed and navigated around a large camper as they entered the outer edge of Cascade proper. "I know. But it's better than nothing."
Simon's loud voice came over the cellphone and Megan jerked it back to her ear. "Yes, Captain." Her eyes widened and she straightened in the seat at his rapid words. "Yes, sir ... Yes, sir ... Got it." She glanced at Jim and nodded. "Yes, sir, I'll tell him." She hung up and opened her mouth to speak.
"What?" Jim divided his attention between her and the road.
"They got Kopesivec. He was trying to leave town and got pulled over by highway patrol for a broken taillight." She paused. "He was in Sandy's car."
Jim's eyes widened but he didn't say anything.
Megan hurried on. "Kopesivec didn't have a license on him, not that it would have mattered much if he did. The orange jumpsuit was a dead giveaway. Anyway, the officer arrested him and alerted headquarters. One of Woester's teams heard the call go out on the radio and picked Kopesivec up."
"Has he said anything about Parkman?" Jim shot a quick look at Megan as they approached an intersection.
"Unfortunately, he's not saying much of anything." She shook her head. "Just clammed up and demanded his lawyer. However the arresting officer saw which on-ramp he used and the location is nearest to the original Kops Kandy Factory building owned by Kopesivec's grandfather."
Jaw muscles tightening, Jim nodded sharply and asked in a clipped tone, "Where is it?"
Instead of answering Jim's question, Megan said, "Simon wants us to be careful since we'll be first on the scene. He knows you won't wait for backup, but he stressed that getting killed won't help anyone."
Narrowing his eyes as they stopped at the long red light at 14th Street, Jim glared at Megan across the cab. "Where?"
She told him.
Cradling his pretty much useless right hand in his lap, Blair shifted in on the hard floor in the corner of the small room. After discarding the dead phone, he'd moved away from the door as much as possible. He also wanted the additional support sitting in the corner would give him. His hand throbbed in time with his heart and the open cut on his arm stung, even if it had stopped bleeding for the most part.
Blair brought his knees up and dropped his forehead on them, closing his eyes and sighing heavily. His hand hurt. His head hurt. His arm hurt. The cellphone was dead. The door was locked. He had no way to pick the lock and even if he could, it was too dark to see anything. There were no windows. The ceiling was too high to reach the overhead lighting and the walls too slick to climb regardless.
Oh, and don't forget -- you're stuck with a psycho drug distributor with an axe to grind and not a whole lot to lose.
All he could do was wait. Not something he liked. Or was very good at. Getting out of impossible situations was something he was good at. But this situation didn't look too promising for that. After last time, Parkman was taking no chances. Blair sighed and lifted his head, resting his chin on his knees to stare into the darkness.
"C'mon, Jim. I know you're out there. For once, drive faster!"
Knowing the need for the silent approach, Jim let the truck roll to a stop in front of the Kops Kandy Factory. The gate at the entranceway gaped open, the chains that had held them shut dangling conspicuously. Jim stared a moment, his eyes unfocusing as he listened. Megan watched, her own eyes narrowed, calling to mind what she could of Blair's "sentinel briefings" that he'd given to both she and Simon on occasion. She looked away briefly as a boat horn blared in the distance just beyond the factory. Her attention swung back to Jim as he shook his head and blinked, coming back to himself and turning off the engine.
"Anything?" Megan questioned softly.
"Too far away. Too much extraneous noise for me to make out much." Jim yanked the keys from the ignition and pushed open his door, sliding from the vehicle. As he stood in the opening created by the door, he pulled his gun from its holster and checked it. "I do hear something in there and this is our best bet."
Megan nodded and grabbed the radio mic. "This is Unit Echo Seven. We are entering Kops Kandy Factory at 11th and Pinole. Request backup for possible kidnapping suspect. Unknown number of suspects in building. Unknown weapons. Over." She clicked off the radio without listening to the response and slid from the truck, pulling her gun as she did.
Jim waited just long enough for her to join him at the gate, then he slipped inside. "Let's go."
Blair had just closed his eyes again when the lights exploded into blinding existence. Having his eyes closed helped some, but he still squinted as the door flew open with a bang and heavy footsteps approached him. He pushed to his feet, using the wall as support as Parkman stepped inside. Injured hand held close to his chest, Blair watched as Parkman paused next to the dead cellphone before proceeding forward to stand just a few feet away from him. The orange coveralls were gone, replaced by jeans and a pullover shirt. A gun was tucked prominently in the waistband of his pants.
Pasting a relaxed-looking smile on his face, Blair commented, "I still think orange looked better on you."
Arms crossed over his chest, Parkman returned the smile, but in a definitely less pleasant fashion. "So...where's the great Ellison? I assume you called. Too busy? Not enough time to trace the call? Or maybe he just wasn't answering?" He chuckled and shrugged. "Well, no matter. I can deal with him later." He moved closer and grabbed Blair by his hurt upper arm, digging his fingers into the sore area, pulling him away from the wall.
Clamping down on a pained cry, Blair instinctively tried to shove Parkman away but only managed to bang his hand futilely against Parkman's chest. "Ahh!"
Parkman laughed again and glanced down at Blair's hand. "Oh, yes, your hand." He grinned, eyes glinting as he leaned his head down to hiss in Blair's face. "Just consider that payback for smashing that board on my hand." He gave the smaller man a rough shove.
Blair hit the wall hard with one shoulder and the back of his head. He bit his lip as the movement reawakened the nearly gone pain in his head. His vision grayed, but he stayed on his feet, leaning heavily into the wall. "Yeah, well, just remember you started this by picking me up in the first place. You could've just left me on the road where Iris and Chance dumped me."
"Don't worry -- that's exactly what I plan on doing." Parkman pulled out the gun and backed up several feet, leveling the gun at Blair's head. He prepared to shoot. Blair winced as the hammer's click echoed in the empty room.
Parkman jerked the gun away from Blair and swiveled halfway around before striding to the door, ignoring Blair as he met his hired help at the open doorway. Left alone, Blair let out a sigh of relief and nearly wilted to the floor.
Not yet. That's Jim. Has to be Jim. Please be Jim...
Muttering swear words, mostly at himself for his clumsiness, Jim untangled the wire from his ankle. He'd been so focused on Blair and Parkman's voices, once he located them, that he hadn't seen the trip wire until it had actually tripped him -- and set off the homemade and very effective alarm. Empty pop cans littered the floor around him and he swore again as one rolled under his foot and he nearly fell.
Jim heard Megan whispering at him from across the darkened area of the factory and he looked up, locating her concerned face in the gloom. "Jim!" He waved a hand at her, signaling he was okay as he finally got loose of the wire.
Before moving forward, he tried to find Blair's voice again, but didn't at first. Then he heard a whisper.
"Oh, man, Jim, I hope that's you. If it is, please be careful. Parkman's got a muscle man with him. Just the one, I think, but he's got a gun. And don't dally, man. Parkman's armed as well and not shy about using it."
Jim glanced up to where Megan was waiting for a signal. He waved a hand in the air and motioned for her to continue. She nodded and kept going, paralleling Jim as they crept through the factory. Cautiously, Jim kept his hearing turned up, half-listening to Blair's whispered monologue and half-listening to the sounds around him, pinpointing for Parkman and the other man were.
Then a sudden change in the tone of Blair's voice nearly stopped him in his tracks.
Halfway to the abandoned cellphone, Blair jerked to a stop as Parkman twisted around to face him again. His eyes narrowed and he stalked towards him, grabbing Blair by the front of his shirt. "Just where do you think you're going?" He slammed him against the wall and held him there with one hand.
"Um...nowhere?" Blair said hesitantly, trying to placate him and ignore the renewed pounding in his head.
Parkman shoved the gun up under Blair's chin and snarled at him. "Guess what? Someone's inside the building -- probably your friend Ellison. He got here faster than I thought he would."
Blair shot back, "Well, what did you expect, man? You told me to call him. You're heading back to prison -- this time to stay."
A smile that sent shivers down Blair's back appeared on Parkman's face. "Maybe. Maybe not. But I'm not going anywhere without dealing with you first." He dug the gun harder into Blair's neck.
Shifting his weight slightly, Blair slammed one foot down on Parkman's while simultaneously knocking the gun away from his head. The gun went off and the bullet whizzed by Blair's ear, imbedding itself in the wall just behind him. Before Parkman could recover, Blair slammed his shoulder into Parkman's chest, winding him and knocking him over. Parkman fell to the ground with an oof of surprise, although the gun stayed in his hand.
Not bothering to do anything further, Blair shoved away from Parkman and ducked through the open doorway. He heard Parkman swear and clamor to his feet, but he didn't listen, intent on disappearing into the factory to hide or finding a way out or finding Jim. At this point, any of them would do.
One last well-placed high kick from Megan took out the hired muscle. He fell with an audible thud on the concrete floor, out cold. Megan bent down and quickly handcuffed him afer checking him for weapons. Jim straightened and shook out his hand before retrieving his gun where it had fallen during the fight. He sent out his hearing again, searching for any sign of Blair. A gunshot rang through the factory and Megan's head shot up.
"I heard that." She joined Jim, gun at her side. "Which way?"
He turned up the hearing dial just a bit more, then winced as his hearing spiked and everything came at him at once. Cars from the road outside. Radios. People's voices. Animals. The walls creaking. Dust settling.
"Jim!" Megan stepped closer to him, looking into the area surrounding them warily.
Shaking his head, Jim ground his teeth. "Too much. It's like being inside an echo in here. I need Sandburg."
Megan touched his arm with her free hand. "Then find him! What would Sandy say....um, concentrate on him. Look for what reminds you of him."
Sparing her a quick surprised glance, Jim followed her suggestion and took a deep breath, then let it out slowly. Blocking out the extraneous noises and scents, he closed his eyes -- and hunted. Hunted for anything that said "Blair" to him. A whisper slipped from between his lips as he turned his head from side to side slowly. "C'mon, buddy, talk to me. Tell me where to look."
Another gunshot. A muffled cry of pain. A double-thump of a heartbeat. A harsh pant of breath.
Jim's eyes popped open. He pointed to Megan's left. "That way. Sandburg's headed straight for us." He hurried past her, honing in on Blair's rapid heartbeat and breathing. "Parkman's not far behind. C'mon." Megan followed, her gun at the ready.
Panting, Blair stumbled to a stop behind a stack of barrels. He fell to one knee, awkwardly balancing himself with his good hand against the nearest barrel before sitting down the rest of the way. Ten seconds after he'd left the room Parkman had him in, he realized he'd turned the wrong way. The room had been at the back of the building and he'd gone towards the front, leading Parkman a merry chase in and out of the junk and debris scattered throughout the dark factory.
Unfortunately, Blair had no idea where he was in the building or where he was going. He'd thought he'd heard Megan's voice for a second, but it had vanished as soon as he moved. The funny acoustics in the building didn't help him in the slightest. All he could do was keep moving and hope he ran into Jim. To make matters worse, Parkman's last shot had sent a pile of sawdust into his face, making his eyes fuzzy, watery, and more or less not dependable.
Just how big is this place anyway? Shouldn't I be somewhere...anywhere...by now? Blind or not?
"Oh, Sandburg," Parkman's whispered voice came out of the darkness. "Come out, come out, wherever you are."
Blair hunched further into his refuge of shadows as Parkman appeared and swung his flashlight. He watched the beam touch the floor just inches from the toe of his shoe and resisted the urge to pull his foot back, knowing the noise would attract unwanted attention.
C'mon, Jim, anytime now would be good. He closed his eyes, wincing with each throb of his growing headache.
Footsteps neared him and his eyes flew open, his frame tensing as the beam of light swept by him again, nearly touching his shoe.
"You should know you can't hide from me. You left a nice trail..." Parkman stepped behind the barrels and pointed the gun and flashlight at Blair.
Already half-blinded, Blair cringed and lifted his hand to ward away the bright light. He didn't need to see Parkman's face to know his expression was smug and that his eyes were cold.
"A nice trail of sawdust footprints." He cocked the gun. "I'll be sure to tell Ellison hello for you."
Another gun cocked and a blessedly familiar voice added, "Why don't you do it yourself, Parkman?"
Parkman startled but didn't shift the gun as Jim stepped out of the darkness and into the small pool of light given off by the flashlight. Standing several feet to the right of Parkman, Jim trained his gun on the former drug seller. He glanced quickly at Blair and saw him squinting and blinking several times at him.
"Jim? Is that you?"
"Yup." Jim's worry went up a notch. His partner did not look well at all. He kept his eyes on Parkman as he asked, "You okay, Chief?"
"I've been better, but okay for the most part." Blair slumped partially toward the stack of barrels. "Can we go home now?"
Parkman glanced at Jim then firmed his grip on the gun and took a step closer to Blair. "Not today you won't."
Jim edged his gun up. "Parkman! Put it down. Now."
"Make me." He laughed. "There is no way you can shoot me before I shoot him."
"But I can," a softly accented voice added.
Jim grinned as Megan appeared on Parkman's other side and rested the barrel of her gun behind his ear. "I don't believe we've met." Her other hand slid down and yanked his gun hand upward, discharging the bullet harmlessly into the air. "Inspector Megan Conner at your service." A foot to the back of one knee shoved him onto his knees hard even as Jim stepped forward and plucked the gun from his hand. "It's been a pleasure, I'm sure."
Keeping his gun on Parkman, Jim remained silent as Megan restrained the escaped prisoner. After Megan jerked the newly cuffed Parkman upwards, Jim stepped forward into his personal space and spoke in a low, dangerous voice.
"That's twice you're kidnapped my partner. Don't try it a third time." He leaned closer and hissed, "Or I just might leave my badge at home."
Megan hesitated a moment, then inclined her head toward Blair, still sitting on the floor next to the barrels. "Uh, Jim...Sandy?"
Jim nodded and stepped back from Parkman, turning as Megan hauled him away. A sudden din of noise heralded the arrival of their backup -- late but with Simon leading the way. Holstering his gun, Jim crouched next to Blair and took in his appearance. His partner's eyes had slid halfway closed and his lips parted with each breath. Jim grimaced at the injuries he could see, including the blood seeping from a minor wound on one arm and the carefully-held hand in his lap. The crease on Blair's forehead told him there was a headache and possible concussion thrown into the mix as well.
"Not supposed to threaten the bad guys, Jim," Blair mumbled. "Bad, uh, form or something."
Smiling, Jim placed a gentle hand on Blair's face and said quietly, "So I've been told. How're we doing here, Chief? Think you can stand?"
"Yeah. Just give me a hand." He shifted forward, grasping Jim's arm with his good hand.
Jim wrapped one arm around Blair's shoulder and braced the other under his elbow as they stood up. Blair seemed steady on his feet, but Jim noticed that one hand remained clutching his sleeve. And that Blair's eyes still hadn't opened all the way.
Frowning, Jim tilted Blair's head up to get a better look. Redness and tear tracks decorated the area around both eyes. "Blair? What's wrong with your eyes?"
"Sawdust. A whole pile of it. Not the most pleasant thing in the world."
Jim grimaced and wrapped his arm around Blair's shoulders again. "C'mon. I hear an ambulance pulling up outside. Let's get you checked out and go home."
"What about my car?" Blair leaned into Jim as they walked away from the barrels.
"Uh...I'm not sure where it is at the moment. One of the other escapees tried to take off with it." He hurried to finish, "But we caught him. I'll ask Simon about the Volvo."
Blair sighed. "Man...warn me next time there's a jail break. I wanna be prepared."
Jim steered Blair around a pile of boxes and into the walkway that led to the front door. He caught sight of Simon waiting just outside the door and waved his free hand at him. "Prepared?"
"Yeah," Blair grinned. "The Volvo's too small. Next time I'll borrow a car with a bigger trunk. Parkman and Doug the Thug wouldn't fit in mine."
Jim chortled but didn't get a chance to say anything in return before they exited the building. Blair made a small noise beside him and Jim looked down to see him squeezing his eyes shut more tightly in reaction to the bright sunlight.
"Man, that smarts."
"You okay, Sandburg?" Simon touched Blair's arm as they stopped outside the door.
Blair shifting slightly and squinted up at Simon. "Hey, Simon. Yeah, I'm okay." His eyes moved past Simon as he saw light glisten off the silver paint of the captain's vehicle. "Hey, Simon, how big is your trunk...?"
Endnotes: (1) Yes, this probably does need an epilogue which I may or may not write. ~grin~ (2) The beginning of this story actually came from a mIRC session that myself and a few others did months before. And since I wrote the first part, I co-opted it to use in this. The rest of the fic is original. (3) And, yes, there are some odd plot turns, most notably that Parkman gave Blair his cellphone to call Jim. Call it a 'stupid bad guy move.' They do it on TV all the time...