Author's Notes: This story is a part of my The Sentinel/MacGyver series, after The Haunting of Christmas Past. Since the relationships between Blair, MacGyver, and Sam are drawn in the first five stories (The Maze, Control, Coatlicue, Ares Bugle, and Heirs to a Nightmare), you may wish to read them first. The others since (Hot Time in Chicago, In the Genes, Weardians and Witans, and Haunting of Christmas Past) have also been referenced, most especially W&W. In the TS/Mac world, this story takes place the spring after The Haunting of Christmas Past (around March 2000) I know, I'm a year behind.
This story is also crossed with Charmed. It is a TV series about three sisters who, after their grandmother's death, discover they are powerful witches. The sisters are played by Shannon Doherty (Prue), Holly Marie Combs (Piper, no relation), and Alyssa Milano (Phoebe). (Fans of my Roachia series may remember them as the girls who traveled Clarian Island with young Blair in Home Before Sunset). In the Charmed universe, this story takes place during the spring of the second season, after Leo becomes a White Lighter again and before Phoebe turned blonde and met Cole.
Yeah, this one took a LONG time to get done. I'm truly sorry, but the demands of BPP and my Mag 7 stories have kept the bunnies hopping in other directions, or hiding in their holes all together! Many apologies to the fans who kept writing to ask where it was.
As always, many thanks to many people. To Sealie for encouragement and keeping my grammar honest; Shallan for continuity help and the monthly brainstorming sessions; Comet for grammar and the Charmed inputs; Malu for being the best cheerleader and beta; Zadra, who hiked up and down all those hills with me during our four days in San Francisco; Toni Rae who is the other third of our monthly brainstorming sessions, and to Wolfpup who loyally posts my stories. And a BIG thank you to all the wonderful people who emailed me, asking where this story was. I love hearing from you all, and it's nice to know you like my stories. I hope this one was worth the wait.
Please send any comments to email@example.com
Enjoy the ride.
Disclaimer: Most of characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain. If you do sue, you will not get much and I will send over my Black Lab mix, who will stare at you pathetically for hours and probably con you out of all your food.
Please do not reproduce, copy, or otherwise use any part of this story without permission from the author.
Rated PG-13, mostly for language and a particular image Blair plants in Sam's mind ;)
San Francisco International Airport
Sean A. Malloy, better known as Sam, couldn't believe it. "But I was checked all the way through in New York," he pointed out to the airline representative behind the small desk.
The woman gave him a look that would have made Clint Eastwood proud. "According to the computer, you never checked into La Guardia."
"Then how did I get these?" Sam thrust the cardboard boarding passes in the woman's face. "And how could I even be standing here? I was in Mozambique yesterday morning. I certainly didn't fly here under my own power." The agitated young man waved his arms in frustration while trying to keep the weight off his sore leg.
"Be that as it may," she told him haughtily, "I have no record of you arriving at this airport, nor of you being on this flight. I recommend you talk with a customer service representative."
Resisting the urge to do something extremely impolite, Sam settled for a glare before pulling his carry-on bag onto his shoulder. While the world traveler had contended with many an airline foul-up, this had to be in the top five. The fact that he was exhausted, grubby, and his leg was throbbing didn't help. He had hoped to make it to his father's apartment in L.A. before crashing, but now he didn't even know when he could GET to L.A.
"Should have flown to Cascade instead," the young man fumed to himself as he limped to find the service desk. "Less people going in that direction to lose track of. Plus Blair would have found a way to pick me up. And Jim could have taken a look at my leg." The medical facilities in Mozambique had been overwhelmed with flood victims. Figuring the people there needed the aid and medical supplies more, Sam had allowed only minimum attention to the gash in his thigh. Considering he had waded through muddy water while rescuing a little girl, Sam wasn't surprised that the wound had become infected. He paused at a nearby drinking fountain, hoping the cool water would ease both his dry throat and the pounding headache. Then he continued down the concourse, oblivious to the empty film canister that had dropped out of his pocket.
In a small alcove nearby, a sinister-looking man watched the lanky photojournalist weave his way through the swarm of people. A smile crossed his narrow face as he ran a hand over his slicked-back dark hair. Soon, young witan. Soon you will be mine.
Ten minutes later
Piper and Phoebe Halliwell watched as the jet slowly withdrew from the gate and turned towards the runway. "Do you think Tommy will enjoy Alaska?" Phoebe asked as she waved at the plane, just in case their friend's young son could see her.
"I suspect Tommy will love it. Whether Lorraine will like it in the boonies is another story," Piper replied with a smile on her face. She had trouble picturing her friend anywhere wilder than Golden State Park. But then, Piper herself was more of a city girl, having spent her entire life in San Francisco.
"Well, at least we gave them a good send-off," Phoebe returned contentedly. The two young women walked through the gate area to the concourse together, relaxed and happy after seeing their friends off. When Phoebe curved toward the nearby drinking fountain, Piper easily shadowed her sister's moves. "Too bad Prue couldn't come."
"Yeah, but this assignment could really help her," Piper pointed out. "She needs the exposure if she's to get her photography career off the ground."
"I know," Phoebe replied after taking a drink. She was secretly proud of her eldest sister. There weren't many people brave enough to quit a good job at a prestigious auction house to do something as risky as photography. Wiping her mouth, the young witch noticed the plastic film container on the tile floor. Without much thought, she leaned over to pick it up before someone could step on it. Instantly, images flashed through her mind.
A reddish brown hawk flew down the concourse, one leg slightly injured but not impeding the tough bird's journey. Suddenly, a large net wrapped itself around the bird. Feathers and claws briefly struggled against the restraint as a large man with cruel eyes wrapped a hand around its neck threateningly. Once he had dragged his captive over to the side, he shot it with a dart. The hawk fell limp as the man finished draping a blanket over it...
"Phoebe," Piper whispered fiercely, laying a hand on her sister's stiff shoulder. She knew that sudden gasp all too well. Phoebe was having one of her psychic episodes, which usually meant she and her sisters would soon be fighting evil demons again. Piper hated all the wiccan detours her life took, yet as one of the 'Charmed' ones, she couldn't ignore her responsibilities. "What is it?"
Phoebe shook her head, her blinking brown eyes meeting those of her worried sister. "There's a hawk in trouble."
"A hawk?" Piper repeated. She had learned to expect Phoebe to say almost anything after a vision, but this was even weirder than usual. "Do we need to call in Animal Control?"
Phoebe shook her head, puzzled. "Someone is trying to capture a hawk here at the airport."
"If there's a hawk flying around inside the airport, perhaps someone SHOULD be trying to capture it," Piper pointed out reasonably.
"No!" Phoebe wasn't sure why, but her heart constricted with fear at the thought of the magnificent bird being caught and possibly hurt. At Piper's disbelieving stare, Phoebe explained, "I could feel the cruelty pouring off the man who captures the bird. We have to reach it first." Phoebe quickly launched herself into the crowd of people, searching for the hawk before Piper could raise any more objections.
Piper shook her head as she hurried to join her sister. "Now we're chasing after wildlife? Why can't I have just one normal day like everyone else?"
Sam left the office, running a hand through his brown hair. He couldn't believe the runaround he was getting. All he wanted was a flight to L.A. It shouldn't be THAT hard, considering he was in the same state. A chill ran through him as he stood undecided. Great, I've probably got a fever now. He took a deep breath to clear his thoughts. Maybe I should call Pete Thornton. Surely someone at Phoenix has the clout to get me a flight. Sam hated to have to pull strings, but at the moment he felt too tired to figure out something on his own. He had promised his dad's friend a report on the conditions in Mozambique. If Pete wanted the report soon, he would have to help Sam get to Los Angeles.
He wearily limped into the flow of people, intending to reach the phone bank at the end of the concourse. Suddenly, someone from behind grabbed his arm and clicked a handcuff onto his wrist. Sam immediately tried to jerk away, only to feel the bite of a knife point in his back. "Move forward, slowly," a deep, hoarse voice threatened.
Piper finally caught up with Phoebe as she stood at the end of the concourse, standing on tiptoe as she tried to search the waiting crowd for her vision. Shaking her head at her younger sister, Piper quietly pointed out, "Surely a bird would be flying above everyone's heads. Shouldn't you be looking up?" Piper jumped back as two boys dashed by her, the older one keeping a plane out of reach of the younger one.
"Yeah," Phoebe answered absently. Yet looking up didn't feel right to the young witch. She scanned all the people standing around the semi-circle area waiting. She wasn't exactly sure what she was looking for, but was searching for it none-the-less. Then her eyes landed on a lanky, brown haired man with another, much wider man tight behind him. Their eyes met. For an instance, the soft brown irises turned into something more wild, more avian than any human eyes should be. Then they were normal, though Phoebe could read his alarm. She had found her hawk. "Piper, do your thing!"
"What?" Piper asked, exasperated. She didn't like the idea of freezing this many people in such a busy place.
"NOW!" Phoebe ordered, catching a glint of metal behind the young man's back.
With a long-suffering sigh, Piper waved her hands. As usual when the young witch used her power, everyone around them froze. The boys had stopped their jump for the toy; a young mother was frozen in the act of lifting her baby out of her stroller; an elderly couple holding hands paused in their tracks. The man with the knife in the hawk's back became as still as a statue.
What wasn't normal was that Phoebe's 'hawk' continued to move.
"What the..." Sam spun around in surprise. One moment, some jerk had his hand in a cuff and a knife in his back. Now, he could freely walk away from the danger, but no one else was moving. It was as if someone had frozen time and forgot to include him.
"Oh, oh," Phoebe exclaimed when the young man started looking around.
"You said a hawk, Phoebe, not another good witch," Piper noted worriedly.
"I did see a hawk," the younger witch defended herself. "He's the hawk, and that guy had a knife on him."
Sam heard voices and walked over to the only other two people who appeared to be moving. Feeling like he had landed on an episode of the 'Twilight Zone', he asked, "Ah, excuse me, but do you know what's going on?"
"Oh great, a good witch who doesn't know he's a good witch," Piper muttered before Phoebe jabbed an elbow into her side.
Phoebe gave him one of her most brilliant smiles as she muttered back, "At least he's a good one." Then in her regular voice she answered, "Sorry, but it looked like you were in trouble."
"I was," Sam replied in a daze, glancing back at the man who had grabbed him.
"I can't keep this up much longer, Pheebs," Piper warned her.
"Yeah, we better hide before he finds you gone." Phoebe began searching around for a place to hide the hawk.
Still feeling like he was in some sort of weird dream, Sam pointed out the chairs tucked away behind a food cart. "How about there?"
"Works for me," Piper replied as she hustled them both over. Then with another wave of her hand, everyone continued on their way.
Sam blinked as he watched Piper. "Man, I must be running a fever."
Worried, Phoebe laid her palm on the young man's forehead. A very attractive man, she noted. "You do feel warm. Are you getting sick?"
Sam focused on her face. "Maybe. I cut my leg in Mozambique and it's really starting to hurt."
Phoebe touched his muscular thigh. Before he flinched way, she felt the heat pouring from the wound. "It must be infected. We should get you checked out."
Sam shook his head, as much to clear the cobwebs as to disagree with the young woman with the beautiful brown eyes. "I don't want to drag you and your friend into whatever trouble I'm in."
"Don't you know who that guy was?" Piper asked as she continued to watch for the man who had the knife.
"No." Sam ran his hands through his hair, forgetting about the cuff still attached to his wrist. "They lost my seat on the flight to Los Angeles. I was about to call up my Dad's office to see if they could get me a ride home, and that guy just came out of nowhere and grabbed me."
Phoebe gently took the wrist, then pulled out a pin from her collar. Bending the pin, she began to work on the lock. "So you have no idea who'd want to hurt you?"
Sam shook his head. "I don't think I've ticked off anyone in San Francisco. It might be because of Dad, but he hasn't mentioned any recent threats."
Noting the dark circles under the attractive eyes, Phoebe decided to change the subject. "You come here straight from Mosezamwhat'its?"
A slight smile crossed the tired face. "Mozambique. Yeah, I was assigned to do a preliminary report on the floods there." At Phoebe's questioning look, he explained, "I'm a photojournalist."
"Really? Cool." Phoebe managed to trigger the lock and pulled the cuff loose.
"Do I want to know where you learned how to do that?" Piper asked as she glanced at the handcuffs.
"Probably not." Phoebe offered her hand to the 'hawk'. "By the way, my name's Phoebe Halliwell, and that's my sister, Piper."
Sam shook her hand as he offered his own smile. "I'm thankful to meet you. I'm Sam Malloy."
"Well, Mr. Malloy," Piper interrupted, "I think your guy with the knife is gone." She turned, taking her first good look at the man they had saved. She, too, noticed the exhausted face and the too-bright eyes. "Let's get you to the doctor."
Sam could feel his energy draining away. He knew he should argue, but was just too tired to bother. "Okay."
Somewhere in San Francisco
In a dark room, the sinister man from the airport paced in front of the man who had grabbed Sam. "How could you lose him! I almost had him! Do you know how much I need him, Matty?"
Matty winced, in spite of the fact he was bigger than the other man. His round eyes looked sad and fearful for messing up. "I'm sorry, Burmont. I had him right in front of me, just like you planned. But all of a sudden, he was gone!"
Burmont rubbed his forehead. "How could he just be gone? Did you let go of his arm?"
"No," Matty shook his head vigorously. "I had him good, though I couldn't close the second cuff and hold the knife, too. But he shouldn't have been able to go anywhere. Yet he just disappeared into thin air!"
Burmont glared at him. "No one just 'disappears into thin air'."
"He could if he had help from a witch." Both men turned to see a sultry blonde woman slink into the room. She wrapped her arm around Burmont, gently brushing back a lock of his hair. "Do you have another headache, my love?"
"Yes," Burmont admitted, closing his eyes. "It was hard to stand in that crowd, with all the sounds and smells. I need a witan." He leaned into her touch. "Are you sure this is the one?"
"My spell revealed that he is one with tremendous potential, yet still young enough we can manipulate him. We simply need to obtain him."
"Honest, Mariah, I had him. I just don't know where he went!" pleaded Matty.
Burmont opened his eyes to look into the sapphire pools next to him. "You said something about a witch?"
Sliding away, Mariah walked over to a sheet of crystal. "There are some witches with the power to freeze time. She could have frozen all of you and the crowd, moved the witan, then started it again."
"She must be very strong to move a frozen man," Burmont frowned.
Mariah shrugged. "Perhaps she had help. A coven, or there are other witches with the power of telekinesis." She dipped her fingers into a bowl. "But there is another way to find the witan." She smoothed the potion onto the glazed surface as she softly chanted.
First a faint snap shot through the room, then energy crackled through the potion. A deep gray mist rose from the crystal, lit only by an occasional flash of purple. "Show me, oh great one, the mortals closest to Sean Angus Malloy's heart?" Within the mist, three images emerged. Lightly, Mariah touched one. The image enlarged and sharpened, revealing MacGyver as he leaned over a map on a table. "Who is this?" she asked.
"Angus MacGyver, father," a deep, slightly bored voice replied.
"His father, that would be perfect," the woman purred. Matty simply stared as Burmont rubbed his nose. "Where is he now?"
"At the American embassy in Taiwan," the disembodied voice intoned.
Mariah frowned. "That is too far away. We must strike quickly." She touched another image. It was Blair, typing on a keyboard as he stared at a computer screen. Mariah's face again lit up. "Who is this?"
"Blair Sandburg, half brother."
"Brother, good. Where is he?"
"Close enough." Mariah waved her hands, dispersing the mist and the spell.
Trying to be helpful, Matty asked, "What do we do now, go to Cascade and abduct the brother?"
"Hmm, no," Mariah replied. "We lure Blair Sandburg to San Francisco and see if he can lead us to Malloy. If that doesn't work, we can hold him and force the witan to come to us."
"What about that third image?" Burmont asked. Something about the man had made the hairs on the back of his neck rise.
Mariah shrugged. "Probably another family member. It's not important. Now we need to devise the proper bait for the brother."
Halliwell home, San Francisco, CA
Prue Halliwell felt tired as she trudged up the steps to the colorful Victorian house she owned with her sisters, but it was a good tired. The pictures she had taken at the Oceanside Retirement Home would accent the magazine piece perfectly. She never felt this kind of satisfaction when she worked at Bucklands. Carefully balancing her equipment and purse while she opened the door, Prue entered the narrow hall. She walked over to the stairs and unloaded her arms.
Prue looked up to see Phoebe on the stairs, holding a blanket. "What?"
"You'll wake up Sam," Phoebe whispered.
"Though actually, I think Sam's so dead to the world, we'd need a full-blown demon fight to wake him," Piper softly commented from behind Prue.
Prue glanced back and forth between her sisters. "Who's Sam?"
"A guy we helped at the airport," Phoebe reported innocently.
Prue's blue eyes narrowed. "What happened at the airport?"
Phoebe and Piper exchanged looks, then Phoebe swiftly explained, "Well, I had this premonition, so we started looking and found this guy with a knife to Sam's back. He was on his way to L.A. when the airline lost his reservation." Figuring she had hit the highlights, Phoebe tiptoed into the living room to tuck the blanket around their sleeping guest.
"Who was going to L.A.?" Prue began to follow Phoebe when her foot touched a camera case. "What's this?"
"Sam was going to L.A., and that's his," Piper replied as her sister picked it up. "He's a photojournalist. In fact, he's on his way back from Mose, Moz..."
"Mozambique," Phoebe supplied as she returned from the living room.
Prue stood still a moment. "His last name isn't Malloy, is it?"
Both younger sisters nodded. "Yeah, Sam Malloy. You know him?" Phoebe asked.
Eyes wide, Prue repeated, "Know him? Know of him. He's like the rising star of international photojournalism. His work is fantastic." Prue peered around the corner, spotting the young man stretched out on their sofa. Noticing the pillows under his right leg, she frowned. "What's wrong with his leg?"
"He said he cut it in the flooding in Mozambique," Phoebe explained. "It had become infected, so we took him to the hospital. They had to lance it." She shuddered, remembering the yucky gunk that had come out. "They gave him tons of antibiotics and stuff."
"Since he's doped to the gills, has to stay off his leg, and is more or less stuck in San Francisco anyway, we brought him home," Piper finished.
"Besides," Phoebe smiled smugly, "he's really sweet and awfully cute."
Prue rolled her eyes. "Any idea why someone would put a knife to his back?"
"Well, he said he didn't think he had ticked off anyone here, but he did mention something about his dad," Piper replied.
"Yeah, something about not hearing any recent threats against his dad," Phoebe added. "It was like it had happened in the past, but he didn't know of anything right now."
"His dad? I don't think I've heard anything about his father. I wonder what he does." Prue took another glance around the corner.
"Maybe he's an important man in the government or something," Phoebe pointed out helpfully.
Prue sighed. "Or with our luck, he's a member of organized crime."
Phoebe glared at her. "Somehow, I doubt a 'rising star in photojournalism' would be a member of a mob family."
"Well, things get even more interesting," Piper interjected, wanting to head off the impending fight. "In order to get Sam away from the guy with the knife, I had to freeze the concourse."
"What?" Prue turned back sharply. "Did someone see you?"
"Just Sam," Phoebe replied. At Prue's blank look, she explained, "Sam didn't freeze."
"He's a good witch?" Prue asked, startled.
"If he is, he doesn't know about it." Piper shook her head. "At the time, he was so tired and sick, he figured his fever was making him hallucinate. But I'm not sure how long that will last once he's feeling better."
"Is there any other reason why someone wouldn't freeze?" Prue asked.
Piper shrugged her shoulders. "Not that I know of. Leo freezes, so I'm assuming all White Lighters do. Sam's certainly not a ghost or a demon with special powers because we both saw him bleed. I don't know what to think."
"I could check the Book of Shadows, see if there are any other loop holes," Phoebe suggested.
"Do it," Prue ordered. "From what I've heard, Sam Malloy is very sharp. He's going to want answers when he wakes up, and I'd like to know what to say."
As Phoebe climbed back up the stairs and Piper turned back to the kitchen, Prue took another look at the fellow photographer on the couch. He had to be in his mid-twenties, not nearly as old as Prue had expected. Nor had she ever heard of anything to make her suspect he was wiccan. However, Phoebe was certainly right about one thing. He was awfully cute.
Police Headquarters, Cascade, WA
Detective Blair Sandburg focused hard on the computer screen. Two of his fellow detectives, Henri Brown and L.T. Rafe, were working on a case involving several robberies of local convenience stores. During the investigation, Rafe had found out that Porsches had been seen near three of the robberies. Yet it was just one of many leads that had come out of their interviews that needed to be investigated. To help them out, Captain Simon Banks had asked Blair to see what information he could find on the web pertaining to the classic vehicle.
The first ring of his cell phone barely penetrated the young detective's concentration. His eyes blinked at the second ring. On the third ring his partner, Detective Jim Ellison, growled, "Aren't you going to get that, Sandburg?"
"Oh yeah," Blair replied absentmindedly. He reached for the phone without taking his eyes off the screen. "Hello?"
"Is this a Mr. Blair Sandburg?" A scratchy female voice asked.
"Yeah," Blair returned, his mind still three quarters on the site selling Porsches.
"Your name is listed as an emergency number for a Mr. Sean Malloy?"
Any thoughts of cars fled Blair's mind as he connected the word 'emergency' with Sam's given name. Fighting to stay calm, Blair replied, "I'm his brother."
Jim's head rose from the file on his desk. Last he knew, Blair's only brother Sam was in Africa.
"Mr. Malloy was attacked in the San Francisco airport this morning," the voice droned on dispassionately. "He's in critical condition at San Francisco Memorial."
"What?" Blair gasped. "By who? What are his injuries?" Frowning, Jim focused his hearing to listen in on the conversation.
"He was stabbed multiple times. It would be best if a family member could be here to make decisions."
Blair's stomach dropped to the floor, fearful of what kind of decisions might need to be made. "I'll be in San Francisco as soon as I can get a flight." He was barely aware of hanging up the phone. The images of his easy-going, adventurous brother was super-imposing themselves over other stabbing victims the young detective had seen. Blair was immobilized with fear and shock.
Then a warm hand squeezed his shoulder. "I'll get us a flight to San Francisco, then I'll call Caroline. Hopefully, she can find out more information for us by the time we get there."
Blair raised his stunned eyes to meet his friend's. "We?"
Jim gave his shoulder another comforting squeeze. "Last time you ran off to help Sam, you both ended up getting shot at. I'm going to guard your back this time." The message that Jim would support him in any way he could through the ordeal was unspoken but understood.
"Thanks," Blair offered. Taking a deep breath, Blair tried to push the shock away. He knew he should do something, but everything seemed to be in a fog. He stared his keyboard, his mind a blank.
Jim glanced at him as he picked up the phone. "Is Mac still in Taiwan?"
"Yeah." For a moment, Blair tried to figure out the time difference. Then he ran his hands through his hair. He did not want to break this kind of news to his dad, no matter what time it was.
P3, San Francisco, CA
"...in the Book of Shadows, and I found only two references of people other than witches not freezing."
Piper sat at the bar of her empty club, phone in hand as she listened to Phoebe. "Two? Who were they?"
On her bed at home, Phoebe raised herself up on her elbows, removing her glasses and placing them on the family's special book opened before her. "During the late 1800's, our ancestor Matilda was traveling by covered wagon with her husband's family when they were attacked by a band of Indians. Scared, she immediately froze everyone. However, the shaman with the raiders didn't freeze. Realizing that Matilda was a 'woman of power', and once Matilda assured him they wouldn't hurt his tribe, he promised that his people would leave her alone. She unfroze her family, they left as fast as they could, and was never bothered again." Phoebe chuckled. "Plus Matilda's mother-in-law stopped picking on her."
"So Native American shamans don't freeze," Prue's voice softly remarked through the phone. She was on the extension in their kitchen.
"But Sam doesn't look Native American," Piper pointed out. "Nor with all his traveling would he have time to become a shaman."
"True," Phoebe conceded. "But can we be sure of that?"
"We'll just have to ask him a few leading questions when he wakes up and see what he says." Prue replied.
"What was the other reference?" Piper asked. She waved as a couple of her staff members walked in, heading for the club's kitchen.
"That's the really wild one." Phoebe put on her glasses before staring at the yellowing page. "It's from one of the really ancient parts of the book predating even Melinda Warren, in really OLD English. In fact, I'm not sure all of this is English."
"What does it say?" Piper asked.
"I'm not sure if I'm reading this right, but it mentions something called 'weardians' and 'witans'."
"What are they?" Piper lowered her voice to prevent anyone from overhearing. "Demons?"
"I don't think so," Phoebe said, puzzled. "It mentions 'good' ones so I'm assuming there are also 'bad' ones, and demons tend to be all bad." She glanced up as Prue entered her bedroom, curious to see what Phoebe was reading. "It seems that a weardian and a witan are bonded as brothers, vowing to warn and protect their people through special gifts of the weardian."
Prue tilted her head so she could also read the page. "Thee good witan is not touched by thee freezing gift. Thee witan may release his weardian if..." Prue squinted at the damaged page.
"If the witan does something to the weardian," Phoebe concluded.
"Does what?" Piper asked, exasperated.
"Can't tell," Prue answered. "It's illegible in that spot."
"Does it say what the weardian's special gifts are?"
"No," Phoebe and Prue answered together.
"Does it say how we can identify a witan?"
"They don't freeze," Phoebe reminded her helpfully.
Piper rolled her eyes, wishing her younger sister was there so she could whack her. "So how do we know if Sam's a witan?"
"Haven't a clue," Prue replied. "Guess we'll just have to protect Sam until we can figure out what's going on or until he's well enough to go home."
After saying goodbye to her sisters, Piper sighed as she glanced around P3, the nightclub her sisters had helped her buy. Once she was sure her people had everything running smoothly, she'd head home and see how things were going with Sam. Piper had a feeling that whoever or whatever was after him wasn't finished yet.
Somehow, she wasn't surprised when a stream of blue light shimmered before her. Piper patiently waited for Leo to appear, glancing around to make sure no one else was there to see him. Their guardian White Lighter was known for his sudden entrances and exits. Leo gave her a warm smile that made her toes tingle. Piper loved this tender-hearted man with a good soul. However, the fact he was immortal and kept popping in and out whenever he was called made their relationship difficult. "So is it business or pleasure?" she asked.
"It's always a pleasure to see you," Leo replied, his eyes never leaving hers. Then he sighed. "But it's also business."
Piper led him to a small table in the corner where they wouldn't be disturbed. "Is it about Sam Malloy?" Leo nodded as he took a seat across from her. "Well, we've narrowed it down that he's either a good witch, a shaman, or something called a witan. Which is he?"
Leo shook his head in amazement and chuckled. "He has the potential to become a witan."
"What exactly is a witan?"
"I honestly don't know," Leo replied, looking puzzled. "They said something about a weardian is connected to the physical world, and needs the witan to help him."
Piper's face also turned puzzled. "Physical world?"
Leo shrugged. "Witches deal with the spiritual world of magic and demons. In the physical world, the threats would be natural ones, like wild animals, natural disasters, and other people. Apparently, weardians and witans once protected their people from these dangers. However, they mostly disappeared as man became more civilized."
"So this is connected to Sam, how?"
"Apparently, the ancient pattern of witan and weardian has recently started to reestablish itself in the modern world. Sam is heavily connected to both the present and the future. Not only is there the possible future pairing of him and a good weardian, but any danger to him could also threaten the entire re-emergence of the pattern."
Piper raised her eyebrows. "Not just a little pressure there. But why are we involved, if this isn't in our domain, so to speak?"
Leo turned serious. "The evil after Sam has joined forces with a powerful warlock. While Sam and his people can take care of the everything else, they're ill-equipped to handle magic. You need to protect Sam and his future from the warlock."
"A warlock?" Piper sighed. "I guess a witch's job is never done."
San Francisco International Airport, CA
As Jim waited for Caroline to answer her phone, he studied his friend as he filled out the rental form. Blair had been quiet the whole flight, something highly unusual for his normally talkative friend. The sentinel could read the strain in faint lines creasing his partner's young face. It wasn't entirely worry about his brother, either. Last Christmas, MacGyver had nearly fallen to pieces when Sam was reported missing. Jim knew it would be hard on both men if the young photojournalist was as bad as the woman on the phone had insinuated.
It wouldn't be easy on Jim, either. He liked Blair's quiet brother, who was an easy-going mix of toughness and compassion. Sam and Mac felt more like family than Jim's own father. Yet both Blair and Mac needed Jim to be strong now, so he would do what he could. Nor did he know what dangers might be lurking for him or his guide's family. The tension of his sentinel senses going on alert filled his body.
The matter-of-fact voice of his ex-wife's was a thankfully familiar sound to Jim's ears. "It's me, Caroline."
"Hi Jim." The sentinel could hear papers rustle in the background. "You and Blair in Frisco?"
"Yep, just got in."
"I'm sorry I couldn't pick you up, but things have been hectic here."
There was genuine sincerity in her voice. Jim was glad there wasn't any of the anger or sarcasm that had filled her while she was still in Cascade. "We understand. Do you have any more information on Sam?"
"Well, you're not going to believe this."
Jim felt a feeling of dread sweep over him. "What do you mean?"
"After checking under all variations of his name including MacGyver, I couldn't find Sam listed as staying at Memorial, or any other hospital in the Bay area. Nor is there any police report about a stabbing at the airport this morning."
Jim shot another glance at his partner at the rental desk. "Nothing? Is there any indication that Sam's here at all?"
"I did find a report of a Sean Malloy being treated and released at St. Mary's this morning."
Jim rubbed his forehead. "Any info as to what his injuries were?"
"No. But it's a place to start."
Jim yanked out a pad and pen from his jacket pocket. "Can you give me an address?"
Caroline quickly rattled it off. "Do you think you can find it?"
"As long as I read the map instead of Sandburg," Jim replied. "Thanks, Caroline."
"Just be careful, Jimmy. I don't like the sounds of this."
"Me, neither." Jim closed his phone as Blair approached with the keys.
Blair noted the grim look on his friend's face, causing his stomach to tighten another notch. He had to take a deep breath before he could utter, "What did Caroline say?"
"Sam's not listed as being in any hospital in San Francisco."
"WHAT!" Blair felt waves of confusing emotion hit him. He wanted to be relieved, but after hours of intense worry, he didn't dare take the luxury. "Does she know where Sam is?"
"No." A weird, unsettled feeling was crawling up Jim's back. "All she knows is that a Sean Malloy was treated and released."
Blair threw his arms up into the air. "Since when do they treat and release stabbing victims?"
"When something very fishy is going on."
Pausing a moment, Blair looked up into his friend's eyes. "Do you think Sam's in some kind of trouble?"
"Either he is or we are," Jim replied grimly.
"You think someone just used Sam's name to get us here?" Blair's face wrinkled in concentration. "But Sam didn't make it to L.A. today like he was suppose to, Pete Thornton checked. And why would anyone want us in San Francisco?"
"I don't know," Jim was examining the area around them, looking for the reason his instincts were on alert. "But I suggest we find out if this Sean Malloy is our Sam. If he isn't, then we're getting out of Dodge."
"And if it is him?"
Jim's expression turned even darker. "Then I suggest we find him and get all three of us out of Dodge."
Burmont and Matty watched as Blair drove a green Malibu out of the rental lot. Burmont frowned, uneasily noting the second man in the car. For some reason, his skin crawled when the big man turned slightly in their direction. Then Burmont shook it off. Surely his future witan's brother would lead him to the young man. Matty put the navy blue van in gear, and pulled into traffic three cars behind the Malibu.
Halliwell home, San Francisco, CA
"Run, Blair!" Sam fought to move faster in the waist-high snow. His brother was in front of him, practically swimming in the white powder. Then from behind, he heard a maniacal laugh. Glancing over his shoulder, Sam spotted Murdoc lifting a grenade launcher. The hitman aimed it at Blair before pulling the trigger. "NO!!!!!!!!"
Sam shot up to a sitting position, shaking and breathing hard. Then a gentle hand rubbed his shoulder.
"Easy, Sa..." Phoebe began. Then she gasped, her eyes growing wide.
"Phoe--be?" Sam gasped, suddenly concerned about the young woman who had helped him.
Phoebe blinked and shook her head. "I'm sorry. I do that sometimes."
"Do what?" Sam asked, both curious and wanting to take his mind off his nightmare.
The beauty kneeling next to the couch gave him a self-conscious smile. "I'm a psychic."
Sam lifted an eyebrow skeptically. "Psychic?"
"No, really," Phoebe assured him. "I see images when I touch things. Usually, it's images of what may happen in the future, but sometimes of the past." She handed Sam a glass of orange juice.
Sam took a sip, trying to decide how much of her story to believe. "Then what did you just see?"
Phoebe frowned. "You and another guy with short, curly hair. You were running through snow in between evergreens, like you were trying to get away from something. Looked like it might be in the mountains. And the other guy was coughing."
"Damn," Sam breathed. He rubbed his forehead with his other hand.
"I'm sorry, Sam," Phoebe gently apologized. "Is there someone chasing you?"
"Was." Sam raised his head and stared into Phoebe's eyes. "A couple of years ago, my brother and I were chased by an insane hitman up near our great-grandfather's cabin in the Rockies. He was trying to use us against our dad. Blair was sick at the time."
"Sounds awful," Phoebe sympathized. "I heard you mumble 'Blair' just now. He's your brother?" The response brought much relief to the young witch. She had wondered if Blair was a girlfriend, an idea that had strangely bothered her.
A slight smile crossed Sam's face as he thought about his energetic brother. "Yeah. I don't get to see him much, but we try to keep up with email." Then he frowned as Phoebe dumped several pills into his hand.
"Remember, the doctor said you had to take them," Phoebe scolded him. She gently placed the back of her hand against his forehead. "You're still pretty warm, so you're still fighting the infection." Oh, that sounded real intelligent, Phoebe.
Sam sighed, then began popping pills into his mouth while sipping the juice in between.
"Why would a hitman want to get at your dad?" Phoebe wasn't sure she wanted to ask the question, since Prue might be right. But if she was, they needed to know.
"A while back, my dad tried to help this woman and accidentally got in between a hitman and the government agent who was his target." Sam gave Phoebe a wan smile before taking the last pill. Grimacing from the aftertaste, he continued, "Dad managed to rescue himself and the agent, and the hitman has held a grudge ever since."
"Didn't the agent try to help him?" Phoebe asked.
"Oh yeah. In fact, Pete was so impressed with Dad, he talked him into joining the agency."
"Your father's a real, live, secret agent? Cool."
Sam had to chuckle. "Actually, Dad had already quit and was working for the Phoenix Foundation by the time I met him." Seeing Phoebe's puzzled expression, Sam explained, "Dad didn't know about me. Mom was waiting for the right time to tell him, and died before she got the chance."
"I'm sorry." Phoebe's own eyes turned dark. "My mom died when I was just a baby, and our father abandoned us, leaving Grams to raise us."
"I'm sorry, too," Sam returned. He laid a hand on top of Phoebe's.
Just then Prue entered the living area, carrying a tray, "Anyone feel like some soup?" Startled, Phoebe jumped up. Prue raised an eyebrow that her youngest sister ignored.
"Have I met you?" Sam asked, studying the second woman. His mind felt it was wrapped in wool, but he didn't think she looked like the other one he remembered.
"Not yet," Prue gave him a reassuring smile. "I'm Prue Halliwell, Phoebe's and Piper's sister." She carefully sat the tray in front of Sam so he could eat.
"I'm Sam." Though he hadn't thought he was hungry, the smell of chicken and spices were making his stomach growl. "I'm sorry to be so much trouble."
"You're no trouble," Phoebe piped up eagerly. Prue gave her another look. Phoebe returned a questioning one. "Really."
"Well, this certainly smells better than Campbell's." Sam tucked a spoon into the broth. He glanced up at the blue-eyed sister. "Thank you."
"Oh, I just stirred it," Prue dismissed his thanks. "Piper made it before she left for her club."
"Piper," Sam repeated after swallowing a spoonful of soup. There had been something he had wondered about Piper. "She was the other one who helped me out at the airport, right?"
"Right," Phoebe confirmed.
Sam stirred the soup, trying to shift through his memories for a logical explanation of what he remembered. Finally, he ventured, "Ah, how did you help me?"
Prue closed her eyes. She'd been expecting this since her sisters had told her what had happened. Just as she could have predicted it when her impetuous youngest sister blurted out, "Piper froze the concourse."
Sam raised his head to met Phoebe's eyes. "Piper what?"
"Pheebs," Prue growled under her breath. Sometimes her sister forgot to watch what she said.
"Piper froze the concourse." Phoebe gave him a brilliant smile. "When I told you that I was a psychic, I only told you half the story."
"Phoebe," Prue warned again. She could see Sam's face growing blank.
"We're witches," Phoebe continued. Prue shook her head in dismay.
"Witches?" Sam blinked. "Witches as in wicca, crystals and herbs, or witches as in fly around on broomsticks and cast spells?"
Before Phoebe could say anything more incriminating, Prue jumped in. "Wiccan, of course. Honest, we're perfectly safe and you should be eating your soup."
Sam was still staring at them like he expected to see horns pop out of their heads. "Then what did Piper do?"
Phoebe knelt beside him. "Piper froze time. That's her power. Just that normally, everyone except good witches freeze, yet you didn't."
"Now you're saying I'm a witch?" Sam stared at her, trying to keep his mouth from dropping open.
"Well..." Phoebe began.
"No, what we really think is that you need to eat something and then get some more rest." Prue glared at her sister a moment. Sam looked much too pale to Prue, and she was sure all the talk about witches wasn't helping the ill man.
Desperate to change the subject, Sam noticed it was dark outside. "What time is it?"
"Almost seven," Phoebe supplied, subdued. She had been hoping Sam would be more receptive, since he had seen Piper in action.
"Ah, man, Pete's got to be wondering what happened to me." Sam ran a hand over his face, trying to forget about witches and freezing time.
"Who's Pete?" Prue asked.
"A friend of my Dad's. I was suppose to give him a report on the conditions at Mozambique when I got to L.A. I should give him a call before he gets worried."
Phoebe sighed and stood up, picking up Sam's jacket which had fallen off the nearby chair. Suddenly, another vision burst into her mind.
A wolf and a black jungle cat strolled up to the hawk, sleeping in a nest of blankets. Suddenly a blonde woman and a bear were there. The women began shooting fire at the wolf and cat as the bear rumbled over to place a paw on the hawk...
Phoebe blinked her eyes to see Sam and Prue staring at her. "You're still in danger, Sam."
Before Sam could say a word, Prue jumped in. "What did you see?"
"A wolf and a black jungle cat, like a panther or something, were approaching the hawk. Then a warlock and a bear were there. The warlock was attacking the wolf and the cat while the bear went after the hawk."
Prue stared at her sister in disbelief. "What? You tuning in on The Animal Channel now?"
"What happened to the wolf and the jaguar?" Sam asked, his voice strained and demanding.
Surprised, both women turned to Sam. "You know what's she's talking about?" Prue asked.
"Sam's the hawk," Phoebe explained, begging Sam with her eyes to believe her. "You were a hawk in my vision at the airport."
"What happened to the wolf and the jaguar?" Sam demanded again, becoming even more forceful.
"I don't know." Phoebe shook her head. "I just know that they somehow lead the evil to the hawk. To you."
"Damn." Sam ran a shaky hand through his hair. There was no way Phoebe could have come up with those two particular animals and put them together like that on her own. That meant her gift was real. It also meant Blair and Jim were walking into the same trouble he was in. "Where's the phone?"
"Sam," Prue gently asked, "Do the wolf and the jaguar mean something to you?"
Eyes filled with worry rose up to meet Prue's. "The wolf... the wolf is my older brother, Blair. He says it's his spirit animal. He's only seen it once."
"When?" Phoebe asked hesitantly. She didn't like the look in Sam's eyes.
Sam swallowed hard. "Blair drowned a couple of years ago. He told me he remembers trotting in a forest as a wolf, until the black jaguar came and brought him back to the living."
"And the jaguar?" Prue prodded, her mind shying away from memories of her mother's drowning.
"His partner." Running his hand through his hair again, Sam missed the knowing looks Prue and Phoebe threw at each other. Then he unwittingly dispelled their erroneous assumption. "They're police detectives, though Jim's been like a big brother to Blair and me even before Blair joined the force. Jim was the one who found Blair floating in the fountain and revived him."
"Would they come to San Francisco if they thought you were in trouble?" Phoebe asked.
"In a heartbeat. They've done it before when I was in trouble."
Protecting siblings was something Prue understood all too well. She handed Sam her phone.
Somewhere in downtown San Francisco
Jim braced himself against the Malibu's passenger's door as the car dipped into the low spot between two steep hills. Never in his life had he ever seen such a hilly city. Level roads seemed to be non-existent in San Francisco. Plus, Jim could swear that Blair was hitting every pothole. Yet if they were to find the hospital, Jim knew he had to be navigator and let Blair drive. Again, the tension that had plagued him since the airport was crawling up and down his spine, begging for attention. Jim closed his eyes a moment, trying to place the feeling.
"Now, what street are we looking for?" Blair leaned forward, trying to read the street sign. While he and Naomi had spent several months in San Francisco when he was a small child, Blair didn't remember much except riding the cable car.
"Fulton," Jim replied absently.
Blair shot Jim a concerned glance before stopping suddenly. A huge truck had just pulled out in front of him. Blair threw up his hands in frustration. "Man, remind me never to speak badly about Cascade drivers again. I could have handed out 50 tickets by now if I was a SFPD traffic cop. It's like there's a whole different set of rules, and nobody's told me what they are."
Jim gave a slight shake of his head. "Just get us there, Chief. You need to make a right up here." As he took another peek at the side mirror, a grizzly bear snarled in his face. Jerking back, he took another look, only to find the grizzly had disappeared. "Ah, Blair, I think our problems are multiplying."
"Remember the promise I made after Barnes?"
"That you'd let me know if you ever felt another presence like Alex? Yeah."
"Well, I am."
"Another sentinel?" Blair took his eyes off the road long enough to shoot Jim a measuring look. "You think San Francisco has its own sentinel?"
"If it does, it's in deep trouble. This feels like Alex, Chief, not Marston."
Which meant Jim was feeling a sentinel with bad intentions instead of good ones. "Oh man." Blair ran a hand through his curly hair, trying to keep his already stressed nerves from panicking. "First Sam's hurts, now he's missing, and now there's an evil sentinel in San Francisco? Can this day get any worse?"
"Let's just take one thing at a time, Chief. Let's get to the hospital and see if they have an address for Sam."
Blair stopped in a line of cars waiting for the light to change. "Yeah, the sooner we find Sam, the sooner we can get out of this sentinel's territory." Just then, Blair's cell phone rang. Still studying the map, Jim reached down with one hand, grabbed the phone, then passed it to his partner. Blair quickly flipped it open. "Hello?"
"Sam!" Jim instantly lifted his head and focused in on his conversation.
"Man, I am so glad I got you."
"You're glad?" Blair's nerves just snapped. "I got a call this afternoon saying that you were at death's door in San Francisco and I had to get here immediately. What's going on?"
"Blair, where are you?" Jim could hear the strain in Sam's voice.
"In San Francisco trying to find you! So, where in the hell are you?"
"Oh man, Blair, you're in danger. Someone tried to grab me at the San Francisco airport this morning. Now I think they're trying to use you to find me."
Remembering the grizzly bear, Jim glanced into the side mirror again. Four vehicles back, he spotted a familiar navy van. Jim swiftly searched his memory for why it looked familiar.
Meanwhile, Blair was still trying to get information out of his brother. "Who's trying to find you?"
"I don't know."
The pain and fatigue in the voice drew Jim's attention. "Ask Sam if he's okay."
Blair shot his partner a worried look. "Sam, Jim wants to know if you're okay."
"Jim's with you, too? Ah, man."
"Sam, you're scaring me here. Are you all right?"
Jim faced forward in time to see the car ahead of them move. "Chief, hand me the phone and make the next left." Following orders, Blair reluctantly gave him the phone and made the required turn.
"Okay, Sam," Jim took over, "Are you safe now?" Sentinel ears could pick out female voices asking Sam questions at the other end.
"Yeah," Sam replied. "Someone rescued me at the airport and I'm staying with them now. Do you want the address?"
"No!" Jim glanced back to spot the van three cars behind them. "We're being followed. I don't want to take the chance of revealing your location yet."
"What?" Blair exclaimed.
"Navy van back there's been with us since the airport." Jim returned his attention to Sam. "Where did they hurt you?"
"They didn't hurt me," Sam replied wearily. "I gashed my leg in Mozambique and it got infected."
Jim closed his eyes a moment. No wonder the kid sounded so worn out. It also meant Sam wasn't going anywhere fast. So much for the quick exit out of Dodge. "Did you get it checked out at St. Mary's?" Jim could hear Sam ask the question to someone else, and a soft female voice confirmed the hospital's name. Not waiting for Sam to pass it on, Jim quickly jumped back in. "Okay Sam, we're going to try to lose our tail. Is there someplace where we could meet your friends?" To Blair, he added, "Next right. Maybe we can lose them near the bridge."
Jim could hear Sam pass on the question, then another female voice requesting the phone. "Hello, Sam says you want to meet?"
"Yes. Do you know of a place?"
"Do you think you could find the SFPD's 7th precinct?"
Jim glanced at the address he had for Caroline. She was currently working at that precinct. "Yes."
"I have a friend there named Daryl Morris. He's with Homicide. We can have someone meet you at his desk. Do you think you can lose whoever's following you?"
"We'll take care of the tail. Just take care of Sam for us."
As Jim closed the phone, Blair turned another corner. "Is he still back there?"
Jim concentrated on sight, spotting a flash of the grizzly before sighting the van. "Yes."
"What's wrong with Sam?"
Jim heard an unusual hard edge in his partner's voice. "Has an infected gash from Mozambique."
Blair spotted a narrow opening in the traffic. Hitting the gas, he dodged in and around the red Chevy Metro. He barely made it, since the Malibu didn't have much power going up the steep hill. "You going to give him the lecture on keeping his shots up-to-date?"
Jim grabbed onto the arm rest as Blair made a sudden, sharp left, leading downhill again. "Nah, figured I'd let you do that one." Jim paused as Blair hit another dip in the street like a rollercoaster. "I'll give him the one on getting proper and timely medical attention."
"Deal." Blair hit the gas, zooming into a wooded area. "What's this?"
"I think the sign said Golden Gate Park."
"We're near the bridge?"
"Not really. I think the bridge is on the other side of The Presidio."
Blair was about to ask where the Presidio was, then had an idea. Unable to see the blue van at the moment, Blair slipped the car onto a dirt road. Pulling in just far enough that their rental was hidden by leafy branches in the approaching dusk, the young detective hit the brake. Together, they waited as the blue van whizzed by them and disappeared around the corner. Swiftly, Blair backed up the car and drove in the other direction. After several tense minutes of driving, he asked, "Can you see it any more?"
Jim turned around to face the front. "No. Something else, too."
Blair sent his partner a puzzled glance. "What?"
"The feeling for the other sentinel isn't nearly as strong."
"You think he was in the van?"
Jim's face hardened as he remembered the bear. "I'd bet on it."
"Damn, do you think he has anything to do with Sam?"
"At this point, Chief, I just don't know."
"Yeah, we're not sure what's going on, but at least Sam's not in a hospital." Jim held open the door so that Blair could walk and talk at the same time. "I'd appreciate that, Pete. Tell Mac that Jim and I'll take care of Sam... Yeah, we will... Thanks, Pete." Blair flipped the phone shut. "Pete's calling Mac."
"Good." Jim scanned the busy station. He spotted Caroline an instant before she saw him.
Waving, the tall brunette walked over. "Hi, Jim." She gave him a hug.
Jim easily returned the embrace. For an instance, the regrets of his failed marriage to this beautiful, strong woman rose up inside him. Then he squashed them. He knew deep in his heart that their relationship would have never worked. Yet he was glad they had managed to stay friends.
"Hi Sandburg," Caroline greeted his partner as she stepped back. "Any luck finding your brother?"
"We're close," Blair replied. "Sam contacted us. It seems that there was an abduction attempt on him this morning, but some women helped him to escape."
"So we're here to meet someone who will take us to Sam," Jim finished.
Caroline frowned. "Why didn't Sam just tell you where he is?"
"We were being followed from the airport." Caroline had never seen Blair's face look so grim. He had matured a lot from the bouncy graduate student she remembered. "We didn't want to accidentally lead them to Sam."
"Do you know a Detective Daryl Morris?" Jim asked.
"It's 'Inspector' here." Caroline corrected. "His desk is this way." She led them through the chaos of the station. "Daryl's a good cop, but he's had a tough year."
"What do you mean?" Blair asked, hoping to get his mind off his worries.
"Last spring his partner, Andy Trudeu, was accused of covering up murders due to some unsolved cases. I personally thought the charges were ridiculous; those cases were so strange, I don't think even you could have solved them, Jim. But it seems that it was really the work of some guy in IA. Apparently, Trudeu was closing in on the IA guy when the jerk threatened Trudeu's girlfriend and her sisters. Trudeu died protecting his girlfriend, and the IA guy disappeared. I've heard that the entire incident was very hard on both Morris and the girlfriend. Plus with everything so unresolved, there are still a lot of suspicions about the whole thing. With Trudeu gone, Morris gets some of the fallout."
Jim shook his head. He knew how tough it was to lose a partner under suspicious circumstances.
"The psychic rumors don't help, either."
"Psychic rumors?" Blair prodded.
Caroline chuckled. "One of the sisters of Trudeu's girlfriend claims to be a psychic. Apparently, she has offered to help Daryl with his cases. Several of the other detectives have been ridiculing him about it. Yet there have been a couple of times that Daryl has gotten an early jump on a case or solved one in an amazing amount of time. I figure as long as the evidence supports the case and criminals are taken off the streets, more power to him."
Jim raised an eyebrow. San Francisco had apparently softened his ex's attitude. But before he could comment, he noticed they were approaching a desk with the nameplate 'Inspector D. Morris'. The husky black man at the desk looked to be in his early thirties, head bowed over an open folder. Jim also noted the empty desk across from him. He definitely knew what that felt like.
"Hi Morris," Caroline greeted him.
Morris looked up and smiled. "Hi Plummer. Ready to concede on the Kings/Jags game?"
"Nuh uh," Caroline denied forcefully. "The Jags are going to stomp the Kings."
"Glad to see you're loyalties haven't changed," Blair commented with a smile.
At Morris' questioning look, Caroline waved a hand at Jim and Blair. "Daryl, I'd like you to meet Detectives Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg. They're from Cascade, WA."
"Where you're from," Daryl put together. He stood up and held out his hand. "Inspector Daryl Morris."
As Daryl and Blair were shaking hands, Caroline tapped Jim on the shoulder. "I need to get going. Are you going to be all right?"
"We're fine. Thanks." They looked into each other's eyes a moment, remembering. Then Caroline walked away and Jim turned back to the Inspector.
"What can I do for you?" Daryl asked after offering them chairs.
"Well," Blair began, slightly embarrassed. "My brother's in trouble, and we were told we'd meet someone here who could take us to him."
Daryl looked at them, puzzled. "Here? Who?"
"Me." The three men looked up to see a very pretty woman in her mid-twenties. Blair immediately checked out the warm brown eyes, long dark hair, and petite figure. "I'm Piper Halliwell."
Blair instantly stood and offered a hand. "Blair Sandburg."
"Sam's brother." Piper nodded. When she has spotted the two good-looking men talking with Morris, she had wondered if one was Sam's brother. He looked to be about Prue's age with deep blue eyes and long, curly hair. The other one she guessed was in his late thirties, very tall and muscular with piercing blue eyes and crew-cut brown hair.
Jim had also stood up and offered his hand. "Jim Ellison."
"Piper, what's this about?" Daryl asked.
Piper gave him one of her smirks. "You know Phoebe. She sees a good-looking guy in trouble, and she jumps in to help."
"Sees," Daryl repeated, lifting an eyebrow. When Piper nodded, he knew Phoebe had had another vision. Gathering up his courage, he asked, "What happened?"
"Someone had a knife to Sam's back at the airport. We, ah, distracted him so we could get Sam away from him."
Distracted? Oh boy. "Didn't you report it?"
Piper shook her head. "Sam was exhausted and hurting from an leg injury he got in Africa. Since we didn't know what all was going on, we simply took him to the hospital to get his leg checked."
Morris inwardly sighed. That told him it was one of THOSE things, and he decided a long time ago that the less he knew about the witch stuff, the happier he was. "If you need my help, just call."
"Thanks, Daryl." She turned to the other two men. "I'll drive you to my place."
Halliwell home, San Francisco, CA
If Sam could have paced, he would have ruined the Halliwells' living room floor. Fortunately for the carpet, Sam's leg prevented him from getting off the couch. He fought the drowsiness from the drugs instead and quietly fumed sitting in place.
Cautiously, Phoebe approached him. "Would you like some more juice?"
"No," Sam growled. Then he ran a hand through his hair, forcing it to stand even more on end than it was. "I'm sorry. I'm just really worried. Blair's all the family I have beside our Dad."
"I understand," Phoebe replied softly. She perched on the arm of the couch and tentatively brushed Sam's hair back. He looked so vulnerable. "Prue and Piper are all I have, and there's been times when I've really worried about them, too." She and Sam stared at each other a moment as they discovered another thing they had in common. Then they heard the front door open.
"Piper?" Phoebe called out as she stood.
"Right here," returned her sister.
Then a wiry man with blue eyes burst into the room, his curly brown hair flying. "Sam?" Phoebe recognized him from Sam's nightmare. The eager manner was reminiscent of the young wolf from her vision.
Before Phoebe could blink, the newcomer was giving Sam an enveloping hug. Prue, who had come in from the kitchen, was rather impressed. She didn't know too many guys who willing gave other guys hugs, unless they'd just won the Super Bowl.
As Piper and a huge, muscular man entered the living room, the wiry guy pulled back. "Damn it, Olsen, do you have any idea how much you scared me?"
"Olsen?" Prue repeated.
"Short for Jimmy Olsen," the other man replied with a slight smirk. Phoebe nodded, catching the reference to Superman's photographer sidekick.
Sam gave his brother a weak smile. "Sorry, Indy. If I knew what I'd done to get into trouble, I wouldn't have done it."
"Indy?" Piper asked.
"Short for Indiana Jones," the taller man answered again. "Trust me, it fits." He held out his hand to the other two young women. "Jim Ellison."
"I talked with you on the phone," Prue replied as she took the hand. "I'm Prue Halliwell, Piper's sister. And this is our sister, Phoebe."
Phoebe gave him a smile, recognizing the unconscious grace the powerful man had in spite of his size. There was no doubt that he was the black jaguar from her vision.
In the meantime, Blair continued to scold his brother. "You have any idea what it's like to hear that you're practically at death's door and I might have to be the one to pull the plug?"
"Yeah," Sam muttered, remembering his dash from Mexico after Blair's drowning.
Blair was too deep into his rampage to hear the mumble. "I swear I should be sprouting more gray hairs than Mac by now. I sure hope Pete's got a hold of him."
"You called Dad?" Sam's eyes filled with horror.
"Of course I called Dad! You think he wouldn't want to know you'd been stabbed multiple times? Besides, I wasn't making those kind of decisions by myself!" Finally calming down enough to take a really good look at his brother, Blair suddenly frowned. Then he laid the back of his hand to Sam's forehead. "You're hot."
Sam swiped at the hand, still worried about upsetting his father. "I'm okay."
Hearing Blair's comment, Jim walked over to lay his hand on the younger man's forehead. Sam sent Phoebe a 'See what I have to put up with?' glance. "Did they give you antibiotics at the hospital."
"Are you taking them?"
Sam rolled his eyes. "Yes." He tilted his head to view his brother. "Is this the MHFH mode?"
Blair glared at him, still worried. "He's just warming up."
Jim pulled back the blanket. "Have you been walking on this leg?"
As Sam dealt with his worried 'big brothers', Piper motioned her sisters into the kitchen.
Somewhere in San Francisco
"How could you just lose them?" Mariah practically screeched. Matty winced while Burmont glared at her. "It should have been a snap to follow them with your enhanced vision."
Burmont rolled his eyes. "We were following them fine until things went screwy. I need a witan."
Mariah paused a moment. "What do you mean, 'went screwy'?"
"I kept seeing a black cat," Burmont explained. "It would suddenly appear, get in my face, and distract me. Also, they somehow figured out we were following and managed to lose us. It's kind of hard to watch with that cat snarling at me."
"A black cat," Mariah repeated. "It must be some kind of a protection spell."
"Can't you just find them with your mist stuff?" Matty asked, hesitant yet hopeful.
Mariah shook her head. "They must all be within the protection of the witches by now."
"So how do we find my witan?" Burmont demanded.
Mariah ran a hand through his hair. "We still have options, my pet. Just be patient a little longer."
Halliwell home, San Francisco, CA
"...So when Phoebe said 'wolf and black jungle cat', I knew she had to be a real psychic. I mean, I hadn't even mentioned you, Jim, and certainly didn't say anything about spirit animals."
Blair paused thoughtfully. "Phoebe, the curvy one in the red top, right?"
His partner shook his head in exasperation. Leave it to Sandburg to notice who had the curves. "My ex said something about a psychic helping the Inspector we met at the police station. She must have meant Phoebe."
"Yeah," Sam agreed hazily, a slight smile on his face as he thought of the beautiful young woman.
Jim noted that Sam was having trouble focusing on the conversation. Exhaustion, the drugs, and the infection he was fighting were obviously catching up. While Jim didn't want to bother Sam much longer, he did have one more question. "How did those two tiny girls rescue you from a guy with a knife?"
Sam suddenly became very interested in the blanket under his hands. "I'm not really sure."
"What do you mean?" Blair asked, puzzled.
"Well," Sam sighed, trying to force his foggy brain to explain something he was still having trouble understanding. "All of a sudden, everyone in the concourse froze in place, except Phoebe, Piper and me."
"Froze?" Jim repeated, sure he didn't hear what he thought he heard.
"What do you mean, froze?" Blair questioned. "You mean, like get cold?"
"No," Sam shook his head carefully, forcing himself to stay awake. "Like everyone paused in their tracks. Phoebe says Piper can freeze time." The young man immediately had to fend off two hands trying to gauge his temperature again. "Honest, that's what Phoebe said. It sounded like it had something to do with them being witches."
"Witches?" Jim repeated, wondering if Sam had suffered any head injuries in Mozambique.
"Sam." Blair rolled his eyes. "While wiccans may make potions, cast love spells, and even dance naked under the full moon, they can't stop time."
"They do?" Sam asked, eyes wide as he suddenly wondered if Phoebe did any dancing.
"They don't," Blair corrected, thinking about freezing time.
"Shhhh." Jim raised a hand, head tilting.
Blair and Sam exchanged puzzled looks, wondering what Jim was listening to.
In the kitchen
"...the pattern of weardian and witan is re-appearing in the modern world, and somehow Sam is closely tied to it," Piper finished reporting, leaning against the counter.
"So Sam's this witan thingie, whatever it is?" Phoebe asked.
"He's got the potential to bond with a weardian in the future," Piper clarified.
"As long as we make sure he still has a future." Prue frowned as she thought about the three men in the living room. "The Book of Shadows says that a weardian and a witan are bonded as brothers, right? And Sam told Pheebs and I that Jim was 'like a big brother' to him and Blair BEFORE Blair became a cop." Meeting the blank stares from her sisters, Prue continued, "So what if the witan abilities are passed through the genes like witches? We're witches because Mom and Grams were witches, as were their mothers before them. What if Sam's brother not only has the potential, but is a witan right now?"
"Making the yummy muscle man a weardian?" Phoebe nodded thoughtfully in agreement. "Maybe that's why I keep seeing them as animals in my visions. Maybe this spirit animal thingie is tied into the weardian and witan thingie, which is why I see Sam as a hawk, Blair as a wolf, and Jim as a jaguar. Maybe they're shape-shifters or something."
"It would also explain why danger to Sam would endanger the re-emergence," Piper concluded. "Obviously, Sam's important enough to both Blair and Jim that they'd fly to San Francisco at a moment's notice. I'm sure they would try to protect him from whatever evil is threatening him."
"But what powers does weardians and witan have? And what 'evil' is out there threatening Sam?" Prue asked the room.
"Maybe we should put our heads together and figure it out."
Guiltily, all three women turned to spot Jim Ellison casually leaning against the door jam. "You normally listen in on private conversations?" Prue asked, masking her start with annoyance.
"Only when I need to," Jim replied easily, masking his own concerns that these young women suspected that he and Blair were weardian and witan. He straightened up and led the way back into the living room.
Phoebe studied Sam a moment, becoming more worried. "Are you okay?"
Sam wearily nodded, not sure he had the energy to respond.
Blair glanced at his partner. Something had made Jim decide to bring the sisters in to talk. The younger man wasn't sure he wanted to know what it was.
"Okay, why don't you start by explaining why you told Sam you were witches," Jim began.
"Witches?" Piper turned to Phoebe accusingly. "You didn't."
Phoebe shrugged. "Well, after the airport it was pretty obvious we weren't just normal girls out for a walk."
"Sam claims you froze time," Jim continued. "How did you manage..."
Piper swiftly waved a hand. As Jim froze in mid-sentence, she glared at her younger sister. "Just great. A COP no less. Now what are we going to do?"
"Jim?" The three sisters turned to see Blair waving a hand in front of his partner's still face.
"Oh, oh," Prue whispered.
"I told you," Sam piped up from the couch.
"Guess that proves your theory, Prue," Phoebe commented. "Sam's brother doesn't freeze, either."
Blair turned around, his temper rising. This was too much like a zoneout for the guide's peace of mind. "Whatever you did, undo it. NOW."
"I'm not hurting him," Piper assured him. She waved her hand.
"...to convince him of that?" Jim blinked, realizing that Blair had suddenly popped up in front of him. "How did you...?"
"Piper froze time again," Sam replied, sleepily smirking since he had been right.
Jim's mouth dropped open as he stared at Blair. When Blair nodded, still wide-eyed himself, Jim shook his head. "No way. It's not possible."
"It's Piper's power," Phoebe explained. "As witches, we each get a power."
Jim was still in denial. "No one can freeze time."
"Five minutes ago, I would have agreed with you," Blair admitted. "But you froze, Jim. So did the clock on the mantle. I checked."
"Wait a minute." Everyone turned to look at Sam, who was sleepily forcing his mind to work. He woozily pointed at Phoebe. "Okay, Phoebe's a psychic. Piper can freeze time." Sam pointed at Piper, then blinked at the third sister. "If you're a witch, Prue, what's your power?"
Prue suddenly found herself the center of attention. Deciding that simply telling the men wouldn't be convincing enough, she quietly stated, "You're losing your blanket, Sam." Staring at the blanket that had slipped to the floor, she stretched out her fingers as she moved her hand upward.
The blanket spread itself out as it rose into the air. Gently, it draped itself over the young man on the couch. All three male jaws hit the floor simultaneously. "I did see that, didn't I?" asked the feverish Sam. Stunned, Jim and Blair could only nod.
"Prue's power is telekinesis," Phoebe explained smugly.
"So..." Jim turned to stare at Piper.
"Yes, I can freeze time," Piper confirmed with a roll of her eyes.
"Then how come Jim's the only one to freeze before?" Blair asked. "Does it only work on certain people?"
The sisters exchanged glances. "It normally works on everyone except good witches and a few others," Piper explained. "The reason we think Sam didn't freeze is because he's got the potential to be a witan, whatever that is." Prue watched as Blair's face turned white on the word 'witan'.
"Witan?" Sam questioned, almost afraid of the answer.
Blair and Jim exchanged looks. At Jim's nod, Blair took a deep breath. "'Witan' is a Gaelic term for 'Guide'."
Sam blinked, then looked stricken. He turned apologetically to his brother and Jim. "Oops."
"So you do know what these witans and weardians are?" Prue prodded.
"Weardian?" Sam looked up at Jim, brown eyes huge. "Sentinel?" he guessed. Jim nodded. Sam's face dropped into his hands. "Oh, man." Blair squeezed his brother's shoulder reassuringly.
"Guide? Sentinel?" Piper questioned.
"Jim is a Sentinel, which is Richard Burton's modern day term for what the ancient Celts called a weardian," Blair explained.
"Richard Burton?" Phoebe repeated, puzzled as the image of Richard Burton with Elizabeth Taylor popped into her head.
"The explorer, not the actor," Blair clarified. He glanced at his partner as he continued, "A sentinel has all five senses heightened. Jim can see farther, hear farther, smell and taste better..."
"You mean, you could hear us in the kitchen from here?" Prue asked, looking up at the tall man.
Jim nodded. Blair replied smugly, "Easily."
"I can also tell that Piper spilled salsa on her blouse," Jim added.
Prue and Phoebe looked puzzled while Piper stared at him in shock. "But I rinsed it off good at the club. I didn't think anyone could see it under the sweater."
"I didn't see it. I can smell it from here," Jim explained.
"I can't smell it." Prue leaned over her sister, sniffing. Blair simply beamed with pride.
"Then what does a witan, I mean, a guide do?" Phoebe asked, wondering what gifts Blair and Sam had.
"Blair's my anchor to reality," Jim softly answered. "He keeps me from losing myself in one of my senses. He also helps guide me in using them, then watches my back while I follow his suggestions."
"So, you use these senses to catch crooks, right?" Phoebe smiled as she caught on. "Wow, that must be like having your own forensics lab with you while you work."
"But wouldn't it be hard on you?" Prue asked. "I mean, the noise and smells of a city can get really annoying for me at times. Wouldn't they hurt you?"
"They can," Jim admitted. "But Blair's come up with techniques to help me control them." The older man quietly walked over to the couch to study Sam, who had finally drifted off to sleep.
"How high?" Blair asked, worried.
"About 102," Jim replied softly, gauging the heat he could feel pouring off the sleeping young man. "He needs his rest." Jim turned back to the others. "Why don't we table this discussion until the morning?" Blair and the Halliwells quickly agreed.
Early next morning, somewhere in San Francisco
Burmont rubbed his eyes. Sleep had been sporadic at best as a strange tension tightened his body. He wasn't sure what the problem was, but was certain a witan would be able to solve it. Once he had the young man under his control, he could go on to become a powerful force in the city.
Crossing the threshold into Mariah's study, he sneezed. Purple haze filled the room as she waved her hands. Obviously, his love had been working hard with her magic. "Any luck finding my witan?"
"No," Mariah replied, though a smug smile stretched across her face. "But we have a new avenue to pursue." She turned to her lover. "Get Matty. We're going back to the airport."
"The airport?" Burmont repeated in confusion. "Now what?"
Phoebe tried to hold back a yawn as she stepped off the staircase. She really needed some coffee this morning if she was going to wake up and be of any use. Only the thought of seeing Sam again pushed her out of bed at all. Eyes half closed, it was more habit than anything else that led her through the house. In the dinning room, she banged her shin against an end table, hopped a couple of steps, then maneuvered around to reach the kitchen. It wasn't until she had measured the coffee grounds into the maker that she realized there shouldn't be an end table in the dinning room. Setting the appliance to percolate, she retraced her steps. Sure enough, there was the living room end table in the dinning room. Also stacked neatly by the wall was everything else from the living room, ranging from the upholstered chair to the floor lamp to Gram's hand crocheted dollies. Phoebe stared, her sleepy mind trying to make sense of it.
In the living room, Blair was discovering that sleeping on the Halliwell loveseat wasn't his brightest idea. Muscles cramped from trying to fit on the short couch all night protested as he attempted to sit up. Blair rubbed his eyes, then blinked as he spotted Jim standing, staring out the large window at the fog outside. Something about the stance sent warning shivers down Blair's back.
Then Blair glanced around. Everything had been moved out of the small alcove, with only the loveseat Blair was on and the couch where Sam slept still in place. Blinking, Blair noted that a glass of water sat on the carpet next to Sam.
"Ah, do you know why..." Phoebe began as she stepped into the living area from the dinning room.
Jim turned, practically snarling. Phoebe jumped back, eyes wide. Blair leaped off the loveseat, nearly falling on his stiffened legs. Limping, he waved Phoebe to stay still as he cautiously approached his partner. "Jim? Talk to me, man."
"He's out there." Jim was back staring out the window. Phoebe exchanged puzzled looks with Sam, who had just awakened.
"Who's out there?" Blair asked, though he already had a good idea. The situation was way too familiar. Sam and Phoebe again exchanged glances behind the partners' backs. Thinking hard, Phoebe disappeared to the kitchen.
"He is," Jim replied cryptically, surveying the area.
That was enlightening. Blair took a deep breath. How was he going to get his regular Jim out of his current 'primal sentinel' mode? The older man was scaring him. Who knew how much he was scaring their pretty hostess, who had only been nice to them and Sam. Acting calmer than he felt, Blair gently laid a hand on Jim's back. Jim didn't respond. At least he wasn't pushing his guide away like he had done the last time a sentinel invaded. "Jim, do you remember where we are?"
"Yes, this is the city where he apparently lives. Remember the name of the city?" Jim didn't even twitch a muscle. Blair briefly wondered what a sentinel could see in the thick fog outside.
From the entryway, Phoebe waved her hand, pointing to a mug of steaming coffee she held. Blair slipped over to her. "Do you think this might help?" Phoebe asked, not quite sure what was going on.
"Worth a shot," Blair replied. He caught Sam's worried eyes on his way back to Jim. He tried to reassure his younger brother with a smile, but Blair suspected it fell far short. A confused Piper had appeared in the hall entrance. Phoebe waved at her to stay out of the living room.
Reaching his partner, Blair tried another tact. "This isn't just his territory, Jim. It's Phoebe's, too. She and her sisters make it a good place in spite of him. See, Phoebe made this for you." Blair carefully wrapped Jim's hands around the warm ceramic. "I need you to come back so we can come up with a plan."
At first, Jim was too focused on searching for danger approaching their resting place to notice. But the warmth and tantalizing smell of the brew under his nose finally penetrated his instincts. In the next inhalation, Jim could also pick up the faint scents of his guide and the female whose scent had surrounded his guide's brother. He paused, uncertain, then took an experimental sip. It was good, black coffee with no foreign taste. Taking another drink, Jim slowly became aware of Blair rubbing his arm and the three elevated heartbeats behind them. Turning towards Blair, Jim immediately checked on Sam, still on the couch. Then he noted Phoebe and Piper, who had joined her sister in the dinning room, standing just outside the entryway. Puzzled, he met Blair's worried gaze. "What happened?"
Blair released the breath he held, grateful to hear a normal Jim instead of primal Jim. "Do you still feel that other sentinel close by?"
Piper mouthed, "What other sentinel?" to her sister and Sam. Both shrugged their confusion.
Jim paused a moment. "Not like when he was following in the van. But he's in the city, maybe only a couple of miles away. Why?"
Blair made another sweeping survey of the nearly bare room. "Oh, let's just say I'm glad you didn't move ME out this time."
Eyebrows pulled together as Jim tried to sort out his memory. "I needed space to fight, to keep you and Sam safe."
"Jim, we're not even sure what he's after."
"He's after Sam."
"Who's after me?" Sam asked, confused.
Blair was still totally focused on his sentinel. "Why would he want Sam?"
"Why did Alex Barnes want you?"
Blair's face paled. Alex had wanted him to help her with her senses. Which Blair had until he realized she was robbing and killing, her mere presence sending Jim into a tailspin. When Blair had refused to continue helping her, the consequences had nearly been tragic.
"Wait a minute," Sam demanded forcefully, finally grabbing Jim and Blair's attention. "You guys are talking about that psycho bitch who drowned Blair, right?"
"Drowned Blair?" Piper squeaked, eyes wide. Phoebe, finally getting an idea of what was going on, poked an elbow into her sister's side.
Blair glared at his brother. "Does Dad know you use that word?"
"Like you don't?" Sam parried. "I only use it for her, and don't sidestep the question."
"Yeah, that was the bitch," Jim confirmed. He thought the word fit Alex just fine.
"And now you're telling me she was a sentinel like you?" Sam felt his stomach clench. Why would a sentinel want to kill his brother?
"No, not like me," Jim denied. "She didn't want to protect anyone. She only wanted to use her abilities to feed her greed and desires, taking any shortcuts she could."
"Sounds like a warlock to me," Phoebe whispered to Piper. Piper nodded.
"But why would a sentinel want me?" Sam asked, still reeling at the revelation that not all sentinels were good guys like Jim.
Blair and Jim exchanged glances. Then Jim sat on the loveseat to face Sam. "When my senses flared up in Cascade four years ago, I thought I was going crazy. I had no control, hearing voices when I shouldn't, having food I love choking me, and even losing a perp due to the glare off her helmet. Suddenly I couldn't do my job, yet none of my friends believed there was a problem. I went to a doctor, but he couldn't find anything wrong with me. Blair was the only one who understood what was going on and could help. If it hadn't been for him, I would have ended up in an asylum."
"Is that why you called me a neo-hippie, witch doctor punk that first time in my office?" Blair asked with a smirk.
Sam blinked at his brother in surprise as Jim chuckled. "You called me a caveman first, Darwin."
"I called you a throwback to primitive man," Blair corrected.
"Sounds like 'caveman' to me," Sam smirked. Then he returned his attention to Jim. "So Blair's knowledge helps you control it?"
"That and his presence," Jim explained. "Simply by being there, I'm more in control. He anchors me when there's more sensory input than I can handle."
"So you think this other sentinel just wants to find a guide?" Blair asked. "Maybe we should try to set up a meeting?"
"NO!" Jim jumped up and began to pace. "This is another Alex, Blair. He didn't ask Sam for help, he tried to abduct him at knife-point. He didn't ask you where Sam was, he scared you half to death by implying that Sam was dying. He's dangerous. Who knows what else he's into?"
"But what good would it do to simply take me?" Sam asked, confused. "I'm certainly not going to help someone hurt people or break the law."
"He may think he only needs your presence," Blair speculated, worried by the thought.
"Or maybe that's where the warlock comes in." Phoebe and Piper had quietly approached as the men had talked. Phoebe studied Sam worriedly. "There are spells that could force you to do his will, Sam. You might not be able to break them."
"Warlock?" Blair repeated. "You mean a male witch?"
"No, but that's a long explanation," Piper replied. "Why don't we have breakfast first? And," she turned to Jim. "Can we put everything back before Prue..."
"What in the HELL happened to the living room?" Everyone looked up to see a flabbergasted and glaring Prue at the hall entryway.
"Too late," Phoebe muttered as she made a fast getaway to the kitchen.
San Francisco International Airport
"This is ridiculous, MacGyver!" Nikki Carpenter's short legs struggled to keep up with her much taller friend. "We don't even know where in San Francisco they are."
"So you keep telling me." MacGyver stopped in the middle of an intersection, swiftly reading the signs for directions to the ground transportation.
"And I'm going to continue to tell you," Nikki insisted, pushing back her dark brown hair as she shifted her bag on her shoulder. "Blair said that Sam wasn't dying and that they were on top of the situation. You don't have to be here."
Mac sighed and turned to face his boss and friend. "Yeah, I do. Sam's my son, Nikki. Until I see with my own eyes that he's safe, I'm not going to be able to concentrate on anything else. Plus I'll feel better knowing Blair's okay, too. He was pretty shaken up when he called me."
Nikki's dark brown eyes sternly met Mac's light brown ones. "They are adults."
"Yeah," Mac conceded, for a moment. "Adults who inherited my tendency to find trouble. And you know what kind of situations I get into."
"Ellison's with them."
"Jim has his hands full with just Blair. Add in Sam, and even Ellison's over his head." Mac turned to the right and returned to his long, fast strides.
Nikki released a deep breath full of frustration, then ran to catch up. "You can't be there for them all the time."
Pain briefly crossed Mac's eyes. "I wasn't there when they were kids, so the least I can do is be here for them now."
"That wasn't what I meant, and you know it," Nikki insisted as she rolled her eyes. "Besides, how are we going to find them?"
Before Mac could reply, huge hands grabbed his arms and yanked him into an alcove.
"Mac!" Nikki shouted, just before she was shoved from the side. She fell into an opened utility closet, the door slamming into place behind her. Instantly, muffled pounding could be heard from within.
Mac struggled against the arms holding him until he found himself staring into the deep blue eyes of a blonde woman. "What..." She blew a powder into his face, and the world around him twisted out of shape.
Mariah brushed the potion off her hands as the older man's struggles ceased. "He should do what we want now."
"So, witches like yourselves only use their powers to help innocents, while warlocks use theirs for personal gain?" Blair summarized, wishing he had a notebook so he could take notes.
"Right," Piper confirmed as she filled a crepe with berries.
"So basically, witches are considered 'good' while warlocks are considered 'bad'?" Sam questioned.
Phoebe gave him a slightly provocative smile. "Well, I can't say we're ALWAYS good, but that's the general idea."
Prue rolled her eyes at her sister's flirting. She couldn't believe the way Phoebe was all but throwing herself at the sick photojournalist sitting at their dining table. Admittedly, the glow in Sam's eyes probably meant he was enjoying Phoebe's attention. Though it could also be due to the fever he was still running.
She also had to admit that Blair was quite charming as he helped Piper make breakfast. A trait shared by all three men who had invaded the all-female household. While earlier she had been furious to see everything taken out of the living room, Jim and Blair had immediately set to work putting everything back under her watchful eye. Phoebe had managed to fill her in while offering a peace treaty of coffee. The eldest witch's curiosity soon replaced her anger.
Plus, the large detective did have a way of softening her up. From the short haircut and military bearing, she had assumed the man would be one of those cold, hardened, obnoxious, ex- soldier types. However, Jim Ellison had surprised her. Not only had he taken the utmost care in replacing their furniture, she was amazed at the concern he showed for Sam. While he was gently setting the lamp on the end table with Gram's dolly stretched on top, Sam had picked up the glass of water from the floor. "What's this?" the photojournalist had asked.
"Drink it," Jim had ordered, gently cuffing him on the head. "You were running a high temp last night, and you need to re-hydrate." Prue had been stunned that a macho, masculine man who had been so far gone as to move furniture had still thought to take care of his friend. Few men of her acquaintance would have even thought about the water. Perhaps that was what made him a good weardian. In any case, it was obvious why Sam considered him an older brother. He reminded her a little of Andy.
Now she watched the big man pour juice for everyone as she helped Piper and Blair bring breakfast to the table. Once everyone was seated, attention turned to eating and their problem.
"So, what are we going to do about the evil weardian and the warlock?" Phoebe asked as she dished out some fruit for Sam.
"Previously, you mentioned spells that would force Sam to go against his will," Jim remembered thoughtfully, still slightly dazed that he would be taking any of this seriously. Yet he had seen Prue move that blanket and hated to think of what an evil person could do with that kind of power. He needed more information fast if he was to protect his young friend. "What other effects would they have, and what can we do to protect him?"
Piper shrugged. "It depends on the spells and how strong her powers are. Once we know what they are, we can usually figure out how to counteract them."
"Usually?" Sam repeated, not sure he liked the sounds of that.
"But there's no way of knowing what she'd do ahead of time?" Blair questioned, picking up on the other problem.
Eyes concerned, Phoebe reluctantly shook her head. "If we knew the warlock, we might be able to guess, but we don't. We can also do some research in our family records and see what she might use. But that will only work if it is something one of our ancestors had seen before."
"So if this woman is more powerful than you and does something unexpected, we could still lose Sam?" Jim's anger began to rise. He hated feeling helpless.
Sam's eyes narrowed. There was no way he'd allow himself to be used like that, spell or no spell.
"No, we won't let that happen," Prue replied, her blue eyes glinting with determination. "And we have the Power of Three. She can't be stronger than the three of us together. We just have to figure out how to use our strengths to outwit her."
Blair blinked. "Power of Three?"
"We are the fulfillment of an ancient family prophecy about three sisters called The Charmed Ones," Phoebe explained. "Three is a complete and powerful number in Wiccan tradition. Our powers multiply when we are together."
"We just have to do our research and be ready to think on our feet," Prue assured them.
Sam chuckled uneasily. "Thinking on our feet is the MacGyver family tradition."
"MacGyver?" Piper repeated questioningly.
"That's mine and Sam's dad," Blair replied. "We both use our mother's last names."
"Dad's afraid one of his old enemies might come after us otherwise," Sam added.
Prue felt a stab of envy. Their father never seemed to care about her or her sisters, in spite of the dangers they faced.
"I think our best offense for the moment is a good defense," Jim suggested thoughtfully. "They can't do anything if they don't have Sam."
Phoebe waved her hand. "This house is protected by our magic. It would be harder for them to take Sam as long as he's here."
"But not impossible, especially since we've never confronted a sentinel before," Piper pointed out. She smiled at Jim. "At least, not an evil one."
Jim nodded in acknowledgement. "Then we'll have to stay on alert."
"Phoebe, Piper, what are your schedules for today?" Prue asked. "The more time we can spend together here the better."
As Piper began to think her schedule out loud, Jim's cell phone rang. He turned away from the conversation as he pulled it out and answered, "Ellison. Hi Caroline..."
Sam glanced at Blair. "Who's Caroline?"
"Jim's ex. She's with the SFPD forensics lab now. She was helping us track you down yesterday."
"WHAT?" All five heads swiveled to Jim's direction. "What about Nikki? Is she okay?"
"Nikki?" Sam repeated. "Isn't Nikki with..."
"Yep," Blair replied worriedly as he watched Jim pace. Not for the first time, he wished he had his partner's hearing.
The three Halliwells exchanged glances. This didn't sound good.
"No sign of Mac? Are you sure?"
"Damn," Blair swore softly as he realized what was going on. "I told Pete to tell Mac I had things under control."
"Oh God..." Sam moaned, his thoughts following Blair's. "You don't think he came to San Francisco, do you?"
Jim continued to pace in the background. "Let me speak with Nikki..."
Blair's face grew bleak. "I originally told him what the hospital told me -- that you were stabbed multiple times. Damn, what else would he do?"
"...Nikki, did you see who took Mac?"
"Oh man," Sam moaned again, dropping his head to the table.
"Mac as in MacGyver? Your father?" Phoebe whispered, laying a gentle hand on his back. Head still on the table, Sam nodded worriedly. Prue and Piper shared concerned frowns. "Who's Nikki?"
"Dad's boss and friend," Blair replied, his voice husky with emotion as he continued to stare at Jim's pacing.
Jim reluctantly met his partner's worried eyes. "Yeah, we've got an idea why... No, not who exactly... Long story... Sort of."
"Man, it's all because of me," Sam whispered.
"No, it's because of THEM." Jim slapped his phone shut, his gaze and heart going out to the young man. "And we WILL find Mac. Even if I have to sniff every damn hilly corner of this city."
"Maybe we can speed up the process," Prue suggested. "Phoebe, get the map and the crystal."
"Jim, what if..." Blair paused, not sure he wanted to bring it up.
"They've figure out Mac's a latent guide, too?" Jim finished for him, the same thought running through his head.
"Ah, hell," Sam exclaimed. "I forgot about that."
"Your Dad's a witan, too?" Piper asked, wondering why she was so surprised. "Does he have a weardian?"
Blair and Sam shook their heads. "Mac didn't even know he WAS a guide until Jim told him," Blair explained. "I suspect that either his fated sentinel never developed his senses, or died in Viet Nam during the war. A lot of men didn't make it back, and the timing would have been right."
"So could he be forced to be one now?" Prue asked.
"Don't know." Blair shrugged worriedly. "Hell, I'm not certain if it would work very well to force ANY guide/sentinel pairing. According to some recent information I received, there is some sort of fate or chemistry or something that brings a guide and a sentinel together. Ill-intentioned sentinels have to match up with like-minded guides in order to be effective."
"A house divided unto itself can not stand," Prue softly quoted.
Blair nodded, still worried. Botolf had told him of an evil pairing who had wrought terror and destruction on his planet. It had taken the good witans and weardians of their world several years to stop them. Blair shuddered to think of Jim and himself going up against an evil pair by themselves. However, Sam's spirit was too compassionate and generous to be twisted evil and Mac's even more so. Blair hung onto that slim hope.
Phoebe dashed into the room. "Here's the map and the crystal. Let's start hunting."
Somewhere in San Francisco
MacGyver sat in a chair, eyes blank and staring. Behind him, Burmont stood leaning against the wall, watching the older man with a puzzled expression.
Mariah slinked into MacGyver's line of sight. Running the back of her hand along his jaw line, she purred, "Tell me more about your son, Sean." The only response from her prey was a twitch of Mac's jaw. Pushing back a flash of impatience, she continued, "You need to obey me. I am your master, the only significant thing in your world." Her fingertips traced intricate patterns in the air in front of his face, sparks of florescent light briefly lighting their path. "My world is your world; my desire, your desire. So please tell me about your son." MacGyver continued his silence.
Sharply, Mariah turned away and stalked to the other side of the room, trying to take out some of her frustration. Burmont followed her while keeping an eye on MacGyver. Matty looked up from the car magazine he was reading. "It isn't working?" he asked in perfect innocence.
"No!" Mariah snarled, enjoying the sight of the huge man flinching. "And it should. He ought to be eating out of my hand by now."
"Could it be because he's kinda like a witan?" Burmont asked thoughtfully.
Mariah spun around to face her lover. "WHAT? What are you talking about?"
The sentinel shrugged as he continued to stare across the room. "Just a feeling. Like the power is there, but I can't make a connection."
"Hmm..." Mariah turned to examine their bait more closely. "I suppose it's possible. I do get a feeling of strength from him, and he must have quite a strong will to resist my spell."
"Do you think you'll have the same problem with his son?" Burmont asked worriedly. He hadn't thought of that possibility before and it scared him to the core. It was a struggle to keep his senses from spinning out of control. If he didn't have an anchor soon, he feared he'd be lost in the turmoil.
"No," Mariah waved her hand arrogantly. "The son is young and inexperienced. He hasn't had the time to build the strength his father has."
"So what do we do now?" Matty asked wide eyed.
Mariah shrugged. "The father's cooperation doesn't affect our plans. His son will come to us regardless."
The bed felt wonderful. In spite of Sam's desire to stay awake, he was drifting off to sleep almost as soon as his head sank into the fluffy pillow. His energy spurt had been drained when Jim had cleaned his leg wound after breakfast. Climbing the steep staircase to the guest room had used up the rest of his strength, in spite of leaning on Jim and Phoebe's shoulders the whole trip.
Watching from the door, Jim's gut twisted. The younger man was much too pale and feverish for the sentinel's peace of mind. Sam needed time to rest and recover from his leg infection. He certainly didn't need to be a target or to be worrying about his father. Every instinct Jim had wanted to whisk the kid away to someplace safe while he went out on a search and destroy mission aimed at the evil sentinel. The very thought of an Alex-like person getting their hands on Sam chilled him. He certainly didn't want to fish Sam out of a fountain, especially since he doubted they'd be that lucky twice. However, reason pointed out that Jim would need more than his fighting skill to face a sentinel with a warlock backing him.
With a sigh, Jim closed the door and turned to the young woman who had helped him aid Sam up the narrow stairs. Phoebe's eyes were worried, too, as she patted his arm. "We'll take care of him."
Strangely comforted by the small, lively woman, Jim forced a smile out to reassure her. "I appreciate it."
"Once we're prepared, we'll go get Mr. MacGyver back, too."
Jim shrugged. He couldn't believe the girls and their crystals could find MacGyver so easily. But then, he would have never thought a young woman could move things with her mind, either. He glanced back at the door.
Phoebe peered up at the huge man. "Sam's important to you."
Jim's jaw clenched as he nodded. "Like a kid brother."
The youngest witch gave him a sad smile. "I understand." She turned to walk up the next flight, only to stop when she realized Jim was about to follow. "I'm sorry." Phoebe waved her hands, trying to find a way to explain. "I'm going to help Prue look through, well, our family book, and, well..."
"You don't want strangers to see it?" Jim suggested.
Phoebe gave him a brilliant smile. "Exactly. I know that's not very polite..."
"I understand," Jim replied sincerely. He realized that if the tables were reversed, he wouldn't want Phoebe and her sisters reading Blair's sentinel notebooks, either. As Phoebe climbed the stairs up, he walked towards the flight down to the ground floor, planning to help Blair with his computer search.
Then he paused as a feeling of cold passed through him. It eerily reminded him of the ghost of Molly, whom he had helped to obtain justice by solving her murder. Without thought, his vision tightened as the rest of his senses went on alert. The transparent image of an older, dark haired woman came into view. "Ah, who are you?"
The woman gave him a warm, self-confident smile. "I'm Penny Halliwell."
Jim blinked, uncertain what was going on. "Ah, do you need me to do anything for you?"
The woman's smile turned mischievous. Suddenly, Jim was reminded of young Phoebe. "No, I'm just keeping watch on my darlings."
"Their mother?" Jim guessed.
The woman laughed joyously. "You've made my day, young man. No, I'm the girls' grandmother."
Jim gave her a polite nod. "I can see where they get their beauty."
"Now you're really flattering me." Her face then turned serious. "Trust my darlings, James Ellison. It will take both your gifts and theirs to keep that young man safe. And he's too much of a dear to be so poorly used."
Before Jim could comment, the woman faded from sight. Shaking his head, Jim muttered, "I have GOT to get out of this city." Cascade might be dangerous, but at least he didn't have to worry about magic. He trotted down the stairs to the living room.
Blair lifted his eyes from his laptop. "How's Sam?"
"Still has one, but not as bad as last night."
"God, I wish he didn't have to go through this. Sam deserves better." Blair leaned back to stare up at his partner. "How the hell did I get so lucky to find you first, Jim? What if I had found Alex or this guy first, or they had found me? Four years ago, I wouldn't have had a clue how to handle them. One of them probably would have killed me before I got the clue. Hell, Alex killed me anyway."
Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder comfortingly. "We were supposed to find each other, Chief. Remember, your dad thinks my abilities waited to come on-line until you were ready to help me."
Blair stared out the window. "Do you think there are more good sentinels out there? It seems like we only run into bad ones."
"Maybe the good ones are waiting for their guides to be ready." Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder again before sitting in a chair across from him. "We just need to keep Sam safe until the time is right."
"Mac never found his sentinel," Blair reminded him softly.
"We don't know that," Jim pointed out. "Mac didn't know anything about sentinels until recently, so he may have met his sentinel at some point and not realized it. Sam now knows what to look for, so he should have better luck."
Blair sighed. "Maybe. I know Dad would feel better if Sam had someone guarding his back like I do. I just want Dad and Sam to be safe now."
"I know, Chief. Me, too." Jim leaned forward and tapped the lid of the laptop. "Find anything?"
"I've got the floor plan for the warehouse the Halliwells think they're using. It's owned by a dummy corporation, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's our guy."
"Doesn't mean it's not, either." Jim's brow wrinkled a moment as he glanced upward.
"What?" Blair whispered.
"You hear something?"
"More like... feel something. Kinda a tingling disturbance to the air." Jim gave his head a quick shake. "It's gone now." He stood up and walked around the coffee table so he could study the floor plan on the screen.
Attic, Halliwell home
"And here's the protection spell I think ought to work." Prue turned the pages to one filled with fancy black and red script.
Phoebe tilted her head to read through the spell. "We should have all these ingredients, and with a couple of word changes, it ought to suit Sam fine."
Then both women lifted their heads as a shimmering blue light appeared in front of the bookstand. Leo smiled at them and opened his mouth.
"Shh." Phoebe whispered fiercely as she walked closer to him. "Jim might hear you."
Leo's face looked confused. "What?"
"We have a weardian downstairs, and he might be able to hear you," Prue clarified softly.
"Yeah," Phoebe gently added. "We don't know what his range is. Plus he's having enough trouble with the 'witch' part. I don't want to go near the White Lighter explanation."
"Hear? Range?" Leo asked, trying to keep his voice low.
"Weardians have all five senses enhanced," Prue swiftly explained. "Now, do you have any information for us?"
Leo shrugged. "Just that it has become more critical. Someone else has been abducted."
Phoebe gave him a smirk. "You're falling behind, Leo. We already know that Sam and Blair's dad has been abducted."
"Who's Blair?" Leo asked, feeling more behind all the time.
"Jim's witan and Sam's brother." Prue could barely keep from laughing at Leo's lost expression.
Leo sighed. "Is Piper here?"
"In the kitchen." Phoebe laid a hand on his arm. "Sam's pretty sick. Can you heal him?"
Leo reluctantly shook his head. "He wasn't harmed by a demon, Phoebe. You know I can only heal people who've been hurt by demons."
"I know," Phoebe admitted. "But a girl can hope, can't she?"
"You probably should leave, Leo," Prue softly suggested. "Jim and Blair are pretty sharp."
Leo rolled his eyes and shimmered out.
"Here's some more coffee," Piper called out as she walked into the living room.
Blair eagerly lifted up his cup for a refill as Jim continued to study the screen. Then the sentinel tilted his head.
"Jim," Blair asked softly, realizing his friend was hearing something this time. Piper glanced back and forth between the two men, her muscles tightening in preparation to dash upstairs to her sisters and Sam if necessary.
"Nikki's here with Inspector Morris," Jim explained.
Piper sat the coffee pot down before the doorbell rang. She walked to the door, Jim and Blair following behind her. "Hi Daryl," she greeted, swinging the door back so he and the petite, dark- haired woman could step inside.
"Piper, this is Ms. Nikki Carpenter," Daryl introduced. "Ms. Carpenter, Ms. Piper Halliwell."
After the women shook hands, Blair stepped up to give Nikki a hug. "Are you okay?" Piper and Daryl walked to the living room to give them privacy.
Nikki gave him a weak smile as she stepped back. "I'm fine. Just mad at myself for not tying MacGyver to a chair in Taiwan. I knew this was a bad idea."
"Yeah, but Mac's nearly impossibly to stop when it's Blair or Sam in danger," Jim pointed out as he quietly examined her. Other than a small bump on her forehead, the older woman looked fine.
"How is Sam?" Nikki asked, worriedly noting that he wasn't there with them.
"He's upstairs sleeping." Blair waved a hand at the dark wood staircase next to them. "He injured his leg in Mozambique."
Nikki glanced up the stairs, concern shining in her eyes. Then she stared determinedly at the two men. "What's really going on here?"
Jim could easily see how this small woman was next in line to lead Phoenix's Operations Division. However, how much he could tell before she locked him up in an asylum?
As usual, Blair jumped in. "You know that I help Jim with his, ah, gifts, right?"
Nikki nodded, staring at them contemplatively. "MacGyver says that without you, Jim can't fully uses his 'gifts'."
Both Jim and Blair nodded. Jim continued, "Apparently, there is someone else in San Francisco with the same gifts."
"He's trying to abduct Sam," Blair added. "After Sam escaped him at the airport, he tried to use me to find Sam by saying Sam was critically injured."
"We suspect he wants Sam to help him like Blair helps me," Jim explained.
"Great," Nikki muttered, her mind swiftly taking in all the implications. "And since this man is using abduction and intimidation to reach his goals, he's not someone we want to be in full control of his abilities. Who knows what he'd use them for, or what he'd want Sam to do for him?"
Jim nodded. "Exactly. But because of what he is..."
"We don't want the police involved." Nikki sighed in frustration. "That certainly explains the note."
"Note?" Jim asked.
"I found a note in my pocket after I left the airport."
She handed the folded paper to Blair, who swiftly read it. "Damn, they want to trade Sam for Mac late this afternoon."
"That's not going to happen." Jim glared at the stairs a moment. "But we might be able to use it for our plans."
Nikki reached out to squeeze Blair's arm reassuringly. "Does this other, ah, 'gifted' person know about you, Jim?"
Jim frowned. "He ought to be getting the same signals as I am."
"But would he know how to interpret them?" Blair replied thoughtfully. "We didn't the first time."
"The first time?" Nikki repeated, raising an eyebrow.
"Long story," Jim dismissed. "If he doesn't, we might catch him by surprise."
"So, what you would like me to do?" Nikki asked.
"Keep the police out of our way," Jim replied. "They would only complicate matters right now."
Nikki smiled for the first time since landing in San Francisco. "I'll take care of it. You just call me as soon as you find MacGyver."
Outside the Halliwell house
Matty hid behind a Subaru Outback as he dialed Burmont's cell phone. "I followed the pretty lady just like you asked, Burmont," he excitedly reported.
"Any sign of my witan?" Burmont's voice growled.
"No." Matty looked back to see Piper, Jim and Blair wave good-bye to Nikki and Morris. "But those two guys we followed from the airport are here."
Matty watched Nikki get the car as Burmont's and Mariah's muffled voices emitted from the phone. Then Burmont came back on. "Give us the address and keep watching."
Afternoon, Halliwell living room
"No, you're not!"
Blair glanced back and forth between his partner and his brother. While both Mac and Jim had mentioned Sam's stubborn mode, it was the first time he had witnessed it. Blair was actually enjoying the show. It was rather refreshing to watch Jim fight this particular argument with someone else.
"They want ME, Jim," Sam pointed out as he leaned forward from the couch pillows. "They expect a trade. If I'm not there, they may simply leave with Dad."
Jim continued to glare. "I'll follow them if that happens."
"But will they even let you get close enough to spot them without me?" Sam argued.
Seeing no change in Sam's determined expression, Jim requested, "Sandburg, help me out here."
"What, no 'You're not a cop, Malloy?'" Blair asked innocently. When Jim turned his glare on him, Blair hid his smile. "He's right, Sam."
"I'm going, Indy."
"You can barely put weight on that leg," Blair pointed out. "If something goes wrong, you won't be able to run. Nor do we know what shape Dad's in. It might take both Jim and I to help him if we need to get away fast, and it would slow us down if we have to worry about you, too."
A slight shift of uncertainty crossed Sam's face. Then the stubbornness was back. "That's if you even get that far. They want ME. They might not even know who you are."
"Then they'll find out," Jim vowed.
"And we have a plan." Blair waved a hand at Prue standing in the doorway. "Prue and Phoebe are coming with us."
Prue nodded, trying to reassure the fellow photographer. "Jim will fight the weardian, I will handle the warlock," she patted her pocket, "while Blair and Phoebe will get your dad to safety. It WILL work."
"But you won't have your Power of Three without Piper," Sam pointed out. "Why don't we both go, so there's no need for Piper to stay behind with me."
"Sam, we can handle this. And if anything goes wrong, I'll protect your father. I can move heavier things than a blanket. If need be, I can move your father to safety."
Jim raised an eyebrow, trying to picture the petite Prue lifting six foot plus MacGyver with only a hand motion. Blair jumped in, "See, it's settled. If you go, Sam, that's just one more thing that can go wrong."
Sam leaned back and closed his eyes. He had to admit his head was still throbbing from the fever. "Okay," he reluctantly agreed. "But I still don't like it."
"So noted," Blair replied with a relieved smile. He gently patted his brother on the arm. "I know it's tough, Olsen. But with that leg, you'll just have to miss the action this time."
Phoebe popped her head into the room. "You ready for the protection spell, Sam?"
Sam glared balefully at his brother. "Sure, since I'm not going anywhere else."
"Then let's get started." Prue gave him a sympathetic smile. "Then we can go rescue your father."
Warehouse, two hours later
"This is the place," Phoebe commented from the back seat of the rental car.
Jim lifted a hand for quiet and closed his eyes. Blair softly laid a hand on his sentinel's arm to ground him. Watching, Blair felt his stomach tighten when a frown broke the concentration on Jim's face.
"Damn," Jim whispered softly.
"What?" Blair asked, eyes growing worried.
"You can hear heartbeats?" Phoebe asked, astonished.
"No heartbeats," Prue broke in, ignoring her sister. "As in, there's no one in there?"
"No one alive." Pulling out his gun, Jim popped the door open and climbed out of the car. With Blair and the Halliwells behind him, he rushed to the door of the warehouse. Senses alert, he cautiously opened the door and followed police procedure for entering a building, Blair only a step behind him. The place was empty.
Blair felt his heart beat again. For a minute, he had feared his Dad had been killed. He followed Jim to a chair in the corner.
Kneeling, Jim picked up the ropes lying behind the chair. "These were holding Mac," he stated.
"How do you know?" Phoebe asked quietly behind them.
"Everyone has a unique scent. Jim can recognize people with his nose," Blair explained, watching as Jim began to search the rest of the warehouse.
Like a dog. Phoebe wisely kept that thought to herself.
Following Jim into another room, Prue walked over to the sheet of crystal. She examined the small pots and jars littering the table in front of it. "This has to be the warlock's."
Phoebe stared at the crystal sheet, perplexed. "I wonder what she does with this." Touching it lightly, the young witch suddenly gasped.
"Are you all right?" Jim asked, spinning around.
"She's having a vision," Prue explained, gently wrapping a hand around her sister's arm.
Phoebe looked up, eyes round with horror. "They went to the house with a fox."
"Mac," Blair replied bleakly, remembering Botolf had associated his father with a fox.
"Piper?" Prue asked.
"She and the hawk, Sam, were fighting them. Leo's there, too. That's all I saw."
"Then let's go!" This time, Blair beat Jim to the car.
Piper opened the door, then pulled Leo into an embrace. After sharing a passionate kiss, she asked teasingly, "The front door?"
"Your sisters told me about the Weardian," Leo whispered in her ear. "Is he here?"
Piper shook her head as she withdrew, clasping his hand. "No, they all went to rescue Sam's father and left me with guard duty." She drew him into the living room where Sam was waiting impatiently on couch. "Leo, I'd like you to meet Sam Malloy. Sam, this is my boyfriend, Leo."
"Hi," Sam replied, shaking his hand.
Leo frowned slightly, feeling the extra heat as he studied the pale face. "You're still running a fever."
Sam blinked. Before he could open his mouth, Piper injected, "Leo knows what's going on, Sam."
"And I was a medic in the War," Leo added, giving Sam a smile. Before Sam could ask which war, Leo continued, "Have you been drinking a lot of water?"
Giving the tall blond a grimace, Sam nodded as he pointed to the nearly full pitcher on the end table. "Jim's been practically pouring it down me. He was an Army medic, too."
Leo chuckled. "Yeah, it's a tough habit to break." He turned to Piper. "Have you tried--"
~CRASH~ All three jumped as they heard the front door slam open. Swiftly, Mariah in a flowing blue dress entered the living room, Burmont and Matty right behind her. "So this is where you've been hiding, little witan."
As Sam slowly rose from the couch, Piper growled, "What are you doing in my house, Warlock?" Leo stood between them, muscles preparing to move in either direction.
"Ah, the little witch." Mariah smiled evilly at her. "I told you she wouldn't be a problem. Especially since their protective spirit isn't here."
"What?" Sam asked bewilderedly.
"I don't see the black cat," Burmont explained arrogantly. With a pang, Sam realized he had to be referring to Jim's spirit guide. "Which means there is no reason you can't be my witan."
"I'd say there are plenty of reasons." Sam glared at the man, fighting to control his anger so he could think. If he stalled long enough, Piper could use her gift. Or Jim and Blair would be back, and between them all, they could handle one out-of-control sentinel. "With you abducting my father being at the top of the list."
"Oh, Mr. MacGyver is right here," Mariah purred. "Show him, Matty."
"Dad!" Sam's eyes grew huge when the large man yanked his father forward. From the dazed expression, it was obvious that the normally sharp MacGyver was not going to be helping this time. Dangerously, Sam snarled, "What did you do to him?"
"Oh, just a little powder to keep him in line," Mariah explained. "Now, it's your turn," Suddenly, she turned towards Piper as the young witch tried to raise her hand. "Stop! One move from you, and the father gets it." Piper stiffened as she watched Matty hold a blade to MacGyver's throat.
Then Mariah turned back to Sam. "Be ours, witan." She blew a handful of red powder into Sam's face. Sam blinked once and was still. "Now step over here with us."
Piper bit her lip as Sam followed her instructions, fearful for the sweet man. Leo's muscles tightened, his eyes switching between the limping Sam and his father, waiting for a chance.
Sam slowly stepped up next to his father. Watching the arm of the big man start to droop, Sam instantly spun. Catching Matty in the jaw with an elbow, he grabbed his father with the other arm. "Piper!" Sam shoved Mac to the ground, his injured leg giving way and dumping Sam on top of him.
As Mariah threw a fireball, Piper froze the room. Taking a shaky breath, she wondered what she was going to do without Prue to move the flying fire hazard directed at her and Leo. As she wiggled her fingers to release her boyfriend, she called out, "Sam?"
"Down here." Sam was breathing hard, trying to control the pain stabbing in his leg.
Piper heaved a sigh of relief. "For a moment there, I didn't think the protection spell worked."
"I figured if I played along, I could reach Dad," Sam explained. Finally opening his eyes, he gently touched Mac's face below him. "Dad?"
Leo shook his head a moment, noted the fireball, then took a step towards Sam. "Leo!" Piper hissed, tipping her head towards the fire. "I don't know how long this will last, and the last thing we need to do is recreate the Chicago Fire in San Francisco."
"I think that one was started by a cow." Sam sat up and glanced at their problem. "What about the pitcher of water?"
"Good idea," Leo commended him, picking up the pitcher and capturing the fireball in it.
"How's your dad?" Piper asked worriedly as she approached, glaring at the warlock as she passed her.
"Breathing and moving a little, but he's not responding to me."
Leo walked over. "Moving?"
"Mr. MacGyver is a witan, too," Piper explained as she knelt by the two men on the floor.
"Then let's try to get both of you out of here." Leo bent down to ease MacGyver to his feet, while Piper helped Sam to lean on her. They had only taken a couple of steps towards the back door when Piper's spell wore off.
"STOP!" Mariah shouted.
"You are MINE, Witan!" Burmont bellowed.
"I don't think so."
Burmont blinked when the huge cat suddenly snarled in his face. Spinning, he found himself face to face with Jim. "Who are YOU?"
"I'm a weardian who protects his people, including his witan's kin," Jim growled back. "Back away from Sam."
"A weardian!" Burmont's mouth dropped open for a moment, while both Mariah and Matty looked shocked behind him. Then Burmont glared. "What are you doing here?"
"We're here to protect Sam," Jim replied, staring his deadliest glare at the other sentinel.
"You already own a witan!" Burmont waved at Blair standing behind him. "Why do you need two?"
Jim's glare turned glacial. "You don't own a witan; they become your partner because THEY want to. You certainly don't deserve one if you abuse them like this." Furious, Burmont launched himself at the older man.
Mariah began to raise her hand when Prue, who had slipped by the dueling sentinels unnoticed, threw the yellow liquid from a small bottle onto the blonde. "Now!" she ordered her sisters as she revealed a large, clear crystal. Together they chanted,
Mariah screamed as she dissolved, the resulting yellow mist drawn into the crystal.
Matty, eyes scared, tried to dash out the back door. Leo, who had placed MacGyver in a chair, grabbed the large man, who immediately started to blubber.
Seeing his lover disappear, Burmont pushed away from Jim and ran towards the front door. Blair tried to tackle him, but Burmont shoved him into the coat stand. With Jim on his heels, the evil sentinel escaped out the door.
Torn, Blair glanced over to where Sam leaned heavily on the wall next to their father. "GO!" Sam ordered. "I'll take care of Dad!" With a deep breath, Blair raced after his sentinel.
Through the sloping streets of the quiet neighborhood, Jim ran after the evil sentinel. While the other man was younger, the detective was in much better shape. The difficulty was the hills. Jim was having trouble keeping the other in sight. At the intersection of a busy road, Jim paused, hands on knees, as he breathed heavily and tried to listen for the other man.
Blair slid in next to him, also breathing heavily. "Jim, where'd he go?"
Jim shook his head as he took another hard breath. "No idea. Can't hear him, either."
"How about ~gasp~ scent?" Catching his partner's glare, Blair conceded, "Okay, can't breathe enough to smell. Hmmm..."
"Let's move!" Jim was suddenly trotting again, curving down an embankment.
When Blair caught up, he gasped, "How?"
"The jag," Jim replied shortly, conserving his breath for running.
Blair would have bounced if they weren't already moving. "Spirit animal?"
Jim managed a shrug as they jogged around a pond. "Better... than... magic."
Blair smiled widely in spite of the situation. Apparently, it took the Halliwell witches to make the spirit world look normal.
Running up another hill, the pair discovered themselves back at Golden Gate Park. Blair followed his sentinel down around another curved embankment, then nearly plowed into his back. "What?"
Jim shook his head. "The jaguar ~breathe~ has disappeared."
"Why?" Blair demanded, breathing heavy himself. "Do you think he's right here?"
Jim shook his head. "I don't know why. But I don't think we're going to find him in this mix of overgrowth and city."
"Damn." Blair closed his eyes a moment. "Do you think he'll try for Sam again?"
"No." For some reason, Jim felt positive about that. "His warlock is gone. He's going to have enough trouble with his senses and he knows we're protecting Sam. We won't be bothered by him right now."
"In the future?"
Jim simply shrugged.
Under a bush in the remotest part of the park, Burmont was curled up in a fetal position. Lashes of scents and sounds whipped across his grief-stricken mind. Insanity was only moments away.
Then a hand touched his hair. "Trust me, weardian. I know what to do."
The sensory onslaught eased back from the edge of madness. Burmont cracked his eyes open to discover an older man leaning over him. "Who are you?"
An evil smile stretched across the brown face. "I am who you are searching for."
After a harsh flash of green light, the three sisters dropped their hands. Sam tried to see around the girls to his father lying on the couch. It wasn't easy, since he was forbidden to move his injured leg, propped up on a footstool. "Is he okay?"
Phoebe gave him a reassuring smile. "We broke the spell."
"He'll probably sleep for a while," Prue explained as she brushed the powder off her hands, "but he'll be fine once he wakes up." The oldest witch examined the older man critically. She could see where Sam got his good looks.
"And you're saying the warlock is actually IN that crystal." Sam leaned over to peer at the crystal resting in a towel on the end table. A sickly yellow color swirled within.
"Yep." Piper's face lit with pride at their accomplishment. "She'll stay in there until we or one of our descendants let her out."
"Which won't happen for a very long time," Phoebe assured Sam as she joined him on the loveseat.
"So what do you do with her now?" Sam asked.
Prue frowned as she stared at it. "I'm not sure."
"It's too ugly for jewelry," Phoebe commented with a smirk.
Prue wrinkled her nose. "Nor do I want that woman around MY neck." She wrapped the rest of the towel around it. "I'll have to consult the Book of Shadows and see how our ancestors dealt with this problem."
"And I'd better see what other poultices Leo's mixing up in my kitchen," Piper added. The two older sisters left the room in opposite directions.
Phoebe slipped her arm around Sam's as she studied his worried face. "I'm sure they're fine, you know. Your brother and Jim only have to handle one inexperienced weardian now."
"I know," Sam sighed. "I just hate waiting."
"Then I guess we'd better do something to make the time go quicker." Phoebe leaned over to brush her lips against Sam's.
A soft smile slipped across Sam's face. "Sounds good to me." He gently pulled her into his arms. Soon they were lost in another kiss.
Unseen by the couple, Jim and Blair had entered the living room. Amused, Jim cleared his throat while Blair joked, "Oops, guess we should walk louder."
Sam blushed and Phoebe giggled as they pulled apart. "Did you catch him?" Phoebe asked, while part of her wished they had been longer.
Blair shook his head. "We lost him in Golden Gate Park. Your friend Morris is arranging search parties."
Phoebe nodded. "Yeah, a couple of his friends were here earlier to pick up the other guy."
Jim glanced down into Sam's face. "But we think you're in the clear now." Sam sighed in relief.
"How's Dad?" Blair asked anxiously as he walked over, laying a hand on his father's forehead.
"He'll be fine," Phoebe explained. "We broke the spell a few minutes ago. After a short nap, he'll wake up refreshed, but probably won't remember what happened."
"What's this?" Jim touched a warm, damp cloth wrapped around Sam's injured thigh, then sniffed his tingling fingers. "Honey, wheat and cayenne pepper?"
"It's an old recipe of my grandmother's," Leo explained as he entered the room. "It's suppose to help draw out infection." He smiled as he offered Jim his hand. "I'm Piper's boyfriend, Leo Wyatt."
Blair nodded as Jim shook the man's hand. "I've heard cayenne pepper's good for infection." He offered his hand to Leo. "I'm Blair Sandburg, Sam's brother." He then turned back to Sam. "How does it feel?"
Sam gave him a relaxed smile. "The warmth actually feels good."
Suspecting that Sam needed to talk with his brother and Jim, Phoebe followed Leo back to the kitchen to give the trio some privacy.
Blair quietly studied his father's peaceful features. "So, when do we tell him about the Halliwells' magic?"
Sam lifted an eyebrow. "Are you nuts? Tell Mr. Science that magic helped saved him? That'll go over about as well as handing a beer to a Muslim."
"But what about witches?" Blair demanded.
"What witches?" Jim asked, face blank.
"Yeah," Sam continued, face just as blank. "It isn't politically correct to call wicca practioners witches."
"Wiccans who make potions and cast love spells," Jim reminded his partner.
"And dance naked under the full moon," Sam added solemnly, trying not to smirk.
Blair threw up his hands. "Okay. But let's hope Prue doesn't move any more blankets."
"So we're in the clear now?" Piper asked.
Phoebe shrugged. "Jim seems to think so."
Prue smiled. "Good. It's nice to have one end well."
"So, let's see if I've got this straight now." Leo raised a finger in the air. "Sam's brother Blair is a witan?" The sisters nodded. A second finger joined the first. "And Jim's his weardian?" They nodded again. "And both Sam and his father are potential witans?"
"Exactly," Piper agreed, beaming at him.
Prue glanced in the direction of the living room. "I wonder..."
Phoebe bumped her elbow when her sister's voice faded away. "What?"
"Well, if Mr. MacGyver never found his weardian, will Sam find his?"
Piper frowned. "You'd think after all this, Sam will surely find his weardian." She looked up at her boyfriend.
Leo lifted his hands and shrugged. "I don't know. The potential is there. But everyone has free will; if either Sam or his potential weardian take a false path or make a fatal mistake before they meet, it won't happen."
"Just like what Blair thinks happened to their father," Prue agreed thoughtfully.
Saddened at the thought that Sam would not be able to fulfill his destiny, Phoebe's head lifted at the sound of the doorbell. "I'll get that."
It was Nikki Carpenter on the other side. "I heard you found MacGyver?" she asked.
Phoebe smiled. "Yep. He's in the livingroom. Come on in."
Entering the small room, they discovered MacGyver was awake and hugging Sam. "So there you are."
Mac gave his friend a sleepy smile. "Hi, Nikki."
"Don't 'hi' me," Nikki scolded. "If you had listened, none of this would have happened!"
Much to Jim's and his sons' amusement, Mac practically blushed with embarrassment. "Yeah, well, you were right."
"Ah, HAH!" Nikki crowed triumphantly. "So, you'll listen to me in the future, right?"
Chuckling, Phoebe walked back into the entry. Seeing Sam's camera case dangerously close to being in foot traffic, she picked it up and gasped.
A reddish brown hawk flew over the shoulder of a young tiger. Then the two animals morphed into Sam with his hand on the shoulder of another. The impression was of a young man about the same height and age as Sam, only stockier with black hair. When he glanced back to speak to Sam, a brief glimpse of dark eyes set in a pale face could be seen. Then he faced forward again and the pair continued...
Phoebe smiled. Now she knew that Sam would find his weardian.
Author's note, 3/18/01: Hope it was worth the wait! I hope to start either the next installment of this series, the next TS/Mag 7 story, or the next Roachia story soon.
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