Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters are the property of Pet Fly, UPN, Paramount, and The SciFi Channel.



Blue eyes opened slowly, first squinting in the lamplight, then focusing on the man leaning over him.

"Do you remember me, Detective? Do you? The jury took less than an hour to find me guilty. Less than an hour to take away two years of my life. All because of you. You."

Jim blinked in recognition. The residual pain from the sharp blow to his head was beginning to fade as he stared into the eyes of a madman.

"First your partner..." Thompson smiled. "...And then you." He took one last look at the bound man, then silently moved to wait at the stop of the stairs.

Jim pulled against the restraints that held him helpless on his bed. His ears tracked the sound of his partner's arrival. The soft squeal of the brakes as he pulled into the parking space. The click as he opened the driver's side door and then closed it again. His footsteps in the stairwell, then in the hallway. The jingle as he placed the key in the front door.

He twisted his head back and forth in an unsuccessful attempt to dislodge the gag that prevented him from calling out a warning. His worst nightmare was about to come true and there was nothing he could do about it. Don't come in, Chief. Don't come in.

"Hey, Jim! I'm sorry I'm late, man," Blair called out in the direction of the upstairs bedroom as he entered the loft. He dropped his keys into the basket and hung up his jacket before switching on the kitchen light. "I'll get dinner started right..." Blair's voice trailed off as he realized that the large figure that had descended the stairs and was now standing before him was not Jim. The gun in the man's hand glinted in the light, and Blair took a deep breath as he backed away and put his hands up.

"Whoa, take it easy. What's this all about? Where is...?" Blair cut off in mid-sentence.

The man smiled. "Where is Jim? Is that what you were about to ask?"

Blair was silent.

"You don't need to worry about Jim. He's here. Right upstairs, in fact." Coarse laughter suddenly filled the room. "But he can't help you. He can't help anyone."

Blair's eyes shifted toward Jim's bedroom, then back to the unknown man in front of him. "What did you do to Jim? Is he...?"

"He's alive, for now, and listening to every word. But I don't think that you should be worrying about him."

"Who are you? What do you want?" Blair tried to remain calm, but his heart was pounding almost out of his chest. What had this man done to Jim? What was he going to do to him?

Jim closed his eyes as he heard the voice, the sadistic laughter, coming from downstairs. Don't touch him, Thompson. You touch him and I'll kill you. He clenched his fists and fought against the restraints again, oblivious to the pain, oblivious to the blood. He had to get to his Guide before it was too late.

"You don't know me, yet. But I'm a friend of that cop partner of yours, a good friend."

The emphasis on good sent shivers down Blair's back. It was clear that this man was not a friend. He briefly contemplated going after the gun, trying to surprise the armed intruder, but the gun unwaveringly pointed at him warned him of the consequences of that act. Blair swallowed hard.

"My name is Richard Thompson. I've spent the last two years in jail... two years of dreaming about your partner, dreaming what I'd do to that cop when I got out." Thompson shook his head. "I was just going to kill him," he said matter-of-factly, "but now I want more."

More? What the hell do you mean, Thompson, more? What are you going to do?

"Turn around."

Blair hesitated, not wanting to put himself in a more vulnerable position.

"I told you to turn around."

Blair turned around slowly, keeping his hands in the air. He could feel Thompson moving closer, but was unprepared for the shove that sent him face first into the wall.

Thompson pushed the barrel of his gun into the side of Blair's head, then forced the dazed young man to the floor, face down.


"Put your hands behind your back." As Blair shakily complied, Thompson straddled the young man's legs. He tucked his gun into the waistband of his jeans and pulled two lengths of wire out of his pocket. He wrapped one around Blair's wrists, twisting it tight, then turned to wind the second wire around his ankles.

Come back up here, Thompson. Leave my partner alone. It's me that you want. Me!

"What are you going to do?" Blair gasped out.

Thompson got up from the floor and showed him a black box that he had retrieved from his pocket.

Blair's eyes were drawn to the small, rectangular box as the man slowly lifted the lid to reveal the hypodermic needle within. "No."

"My brother died while I was in prison," Thompson said conversationally, as he removed the syringe and examined it in the light. "Heroin overdose. Can you imagine what it would be like to die of a heroin overdose?"

"Thompson..." Blair began desperately.

"He died alone. Alone on the floor," Thompson interrupted. "I wasn't there to help him." There was a long pause. "No one will be here to help you."

Jim could hear his partner's frantic heartbeat, his shaky gasps for breath. He could picture his Guide, eyes wide with fear, waiting, hoping for his Sentinel to save him. No! Thompson, please, no!

Blair could feel the sweat beginning to bead on his forehead. "Thompson, don't do this," he pleaded. "Stop now, before it's too late."

Thompson had finished his close perusal of the syringe and was moving to his knees beside the terrified observer. "It's already too late."

"No!" Blair cried out. "No! Jim!" He frantically tried to move away from the deadly threat approaching him.

"Don't worry. It will be quick," Thompson said, as if in some macabre way trying to reassure the young man. "You'll be dead in seconds."

No! Jim's mind rebelled against the thought. To hear the fading sounds of his partner's life. To listen as his best friend and Guide succumbed to death. No! Dear God, no! Please, someone help him!

Blair felt Thompson's knee on the middle of his back, a searing, heavy weight that prevented him from moving. His gaze went to the top of the staircase as Thompson positioned the needle against his arm. "Turn the dial down, Jim. I don't want you to listen. Please, Jim. Don't listen," Blair whispered so softly that only Sentinel ears could have possibly heard him.

Jim's heart almost stopped as he heard the quiet plea. To turn down his hearing would be to leave Blair alone in his last seconds of life. No!

"Please, Jim." Blair's voice echoed in his mind. "Please, Jim."

With tears streaming down his ashen face, Jim honored his best friend's last request and turned the dial down. All the way.

"Cascade Police! Freeze!" Simon was shocked by the tableau before him. The sound of his young observer shouting 'no!' as he arrived on the third floor had spurred him to action. He had opened the unlocked loft door, and peered in to see the deadly threat facing the young man now pinned to the floor.

"Remove the needle carefully and place it on the floor," Simon ordered, his hand rock steady on the gun that was pointed at Thompson. His finger tightened on the trigger as he saw the hesitation on Thompson's face, the apparent refusal to follow the command. "Do it now or I will shoot!"

Thompson's eyes swept across the young man under him, then, as they lifted to see the imposing police captain taking a step closer, he slowly began to pull the needle out of Blair's arm.

Blair shivered as he felt the needle slide through his skin. Knowing that Thompson could still depress the plunger to fill his veins with the deadly liquid, he held his breath until he could see the syringe drop to the floor in front of him.

"Move away from Sandburg and put your hands behind your head," Simon ordered. As Thompson sullenly obeyed, he secured the man's hands behind his back with handcuffs, and then disarmed the would-be-assassin and tucked the gun into his own waistband.

Assured that Thompson was no threat, he turned to Blair, first unwrapping the young man's bound wrists and ankles, then helping him to a seated position.

"Sandburg, are you alright?"

Blair nodded slowly, still shaken by his close brush with death.

"Where's Jim?"

"Oh my God... Jim! Simon, he's upstairs." Blair stumbled to his feet. "Jim?" he called loudly. "Jim? Hang on, I'm coming!"

The Sentinel lay unmoving, lost in a silence of his own making.

"Jim?" Blair called, racing up the stairs two at a time. "Jim?"

There was no response.

Blair felt the clutch of fear as he saw his partner's unfocused blue eyes. He reached out a hand to touch Jim's arm and then recoiled in horror as, with a deep guttural groan, Jim began to repeatedly slam his hands forward against the restraints. He winced at the sight of the blood that streamed down Jim's arms and stained the bedsheets.

"Jim! Jim!" Blair rushed to his partner's bedside. He frantically began to pull on the ropes that bound his friend to the bed. "Simon, help me!"

"Dear God," was all that Simon could say as he came within view of the distraught detective. He took hold of Jim's arms, trying to prevent the man from doing further damage. "Jim! Jim! Stop it!" Slowly the frantic movements stopped and his body went limp.

"Simon, can you untie him?" Blair asked as he gently turned Jim's head in order to remove the gag that filled his mouth.

Jim's eyes blinked, and he slowly focused on the police captain at his side.

"Hang on, Jim. I'll have you untied in a minute," Simon reassured him.

Jim continued to stare at Simon, then, as he closed his eyes tightly, a tear escaped and ran down his cheek. "Blair," he cried softly.

"What's wrong with him?" Simon asked, looking at Blair worriedly.

"He thinks I'm dead, Simon. He..." Blair's voice broke, and he reached over to turn Jim's face toward him. He cupped Jim's face between his hands until the blue eyes opened and finally met his own. "Jim? Turn up the dial, Jim. It's okay. I'm okay."

Jim shook his head slowly, disbelieving at first. Then, with a deep breath, he turned up the dial and focused his hearing on the familiar figure before him. "Blair?"

"I'm right here."

"Blair!" Ignoring his own injuries, Jim flung himself off the bed and caught his partner by the shoulders.

Blair closed his eyes as the frantic Sentinel's fingers traced a path down his cheek to his jaw, pausing to touch just above the carotid artery. He winced as Jim lightly fingered the dark bruise on his forehead, then again as Jim turned his wrists over for a close look at the wire-ripped skin.

"I'm okay," Blair reassured him. "A little bruised and battered, but okay."

Jim's gaze shifted to slide up Blair's arms, and then his eyes zeroed in on the small needle mark. "Simon, we've got to get Blair to the hospital, now!" His voice was trembling as he scooped the unsuspecting man into his arms and headed toward the stairs.

"Jim! Jim, I'm okay!" Blair repeated. "He didn't inject me with the heroin."

Jim froze midstep in his frantic rush for the stairs and looked down at the young observer. Hope warred with fear until he saw Blair's smile. He lowered his partner's feet to the floor, and then, holding Blair's chin, checked his eyes. Satisfied with what he saw there, he quickly scanned Blair's heartbeat and breathing. Everything was within normal limits. "But how...?"

"He started to, had the damn needle in my arm." Blair shuddered, remembering the feel of the cold metal invading his skin. "But then Simon came in, and..."

"Oh, God, Chief," Jim whispered, burying his face in Blair's hair as he pulled him close. "I almost lost you."

"But you didn't, Jim. You didn't. I'm okay. We're okay."

"I know," Jim choked out, "I know." He pulled his Guide tighter. "But sometimes knowing just isn't enough."

Blair leaned into the embrace, knowing that he needed the physical reassurance just as much as Jim did.

It was past midnight, but Simon had made no move to head home, choosing instead to watch over his physically and emotionally exhausted men. Thompson had been taken to jail. The paramedics had treated both Jim and Blair at the scene. And now the Sentinel and his Guide were asleep on the couch. Jim was slouched down into the cushions, feet on the coffee table. Blair was curled up next to him, head resting on Jim's leg.

Simon tried unsuccessfully to stifle his grin as he noticed the contact between the two men even in their sleep. Jim's hand was buried in the younger man's curls. Blair's hand tightly clutched the bottom edge of Jim's sweater. Was it a partner thing? A friendship thing? A Sentinel/Guide thing? Simon smiled. Whatever it was... it was a good thing.


March 2000

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