A The Sentinel/The Professionals/The Chief crossover. Rated NC17 for adult situations, violence and homoeroticism. All rights to characters included belong to the assorted persons at these various shows and no copyright infringement is intended in this amateur work of fiction.
With thanks to KC and Carol for the information and Kevin for the inspiration (and all the Lads for the perspiration).
From The Sentinel; Detective James Ellison, an officer with the Major Crimes division of the Cascade (WA) Police Department, a genetic throwback with enhanced senses. Blair Sandburg, a doctoral student in anthropology who is Jim's Guide and who is writing his dissertation on Sentinels (nickname : Chief). They are partners, friends, and in this universe, lovers. Naomi Sandburg, Blair's mother. Captain Simon Banks, Det. Ellison's boss and friend, head of the Major Crimes division.
From The Professionals; W.A.P. Bodie, ex-CI5 member, now bodyguard in private security work. Ray Doyle, his partner, best friend, and (in this universe) lover while in CI5. Colin Murphy, once an A Squad member with Bodie and Doyle, now Controller of CI5.
From The Chief; Chief Constable Alan Cade, head of the Eastland Constabulary (rank : Chief). Elena Belinsky, his daughter, a student at Cambridge. Yvonne Belinsky, her mother, residing in Canada. The Honorable Pietro Donati (deceased), an Italian judge famous for his tough stance against organized crime who was assassinated while in Eastland speaking at a law enforcement conference.
All other characters are original to the author. Some fiddling with the time line was done to make it all fit together (hey, it's fiction ... adapt). Setting, present day Seattle, Washington, early summer.
Blair Sandburg shifted the loaded backpack to a more comfortable spot and tromped happily along behind his partner as the larger man forged a path through the crowded SeaTac International airport. He'd had to talk fast and offer many favors, but the two weeks he'd managed to wangle from his advisor and the other teaching fellows had been well worth it. He hadn't had the opportunity to see Seattle yet, and here he was, courtesy of the Cascade P.D., settling in for a week of observing the international creme de la creme of the law enforcement world followed by nights of discovering one of the most romantic cities in North America with the love of his life. And after that, another week camping in the Olympic National Park, testing his Sentinel's mettle in the wilds of the rain forest. He couldn't wait to get started.
Three paces ahead, concentrating on dialing down his senses so that the crowd didn't overwhelm him, the object of Blair's affections was caught by the accelerated heartbeat coming from behind him. Knowing Sandburg's normal reaction to new places and new people, coupled with his anticipation of the things to come in the next few days, it didn't overly concern him. When the younger man's breathing began to get a little ragged, he slowed and glanced down beside him. A slight flush had settled along the high cheekbones and the full lips were moist where Blair had been licking them. Jim glanced back to follow his Guide's fixed gaze and realized where those big blue eyes were fastened. He flushed himself and cleared his throat. The eyes widened even more, but they did at least turn from slightly south of Jim's belt level in the back to the detective's profile. Blair bit his lip to keep from laughing. Speaking in a whisper, knowing Sentinel hearing could pick it up when no one else could, he murmured, "Sorry, big guy, but you know what those jeans do to me. I can't wait to get you to the hotel, man." Laughter and lechery fought for ascendancy in the promise.
Ellison fought back his own grin and glared down at his partner, not scaring him in the least. "Save it, Chief. Work to do, first. I want to be prepared for that Pacific Rim panel--"
Blair raised his hands in mock self defense. "Okay, okay, okay, man, I should've known better than get in the way of the details! We've got to get to the hotel, registration, get our conference packets, find out what panels we're supposed to be at and when we're supposed to be where--" He shook his head and grinned, glancing up and sideways at his lover through long dark curls. "Work before pleasure, the Ellison Credo, I hear that." Ignoring the muffled chuckle coming from the man at his side, he scuttled closer to the big, warm body and muttered, "But when the work is done, your butt is mine, baby."
Customs went more easily than he had expected. Watching the executive assistant hand over the appropriate forms to make sure the Sig Sauer never left his side, William Andrew Philip Bodie scanned the crowds milling by the international reception area like a hawk scanning for field rats. His current boss was a man with many enemies, and a number of highly efficient criminal organizations both within his native Italy and in a handful of other countries would pay a high bounty for his head on a plate. Or even just a bullet between the eyes. Bodie was one of the professionals there to prevent that from happening. A very small corner in the back of his mind recognized the homesickness inherent in his position, his wish, never expressed, for his partner to guard his back, a small underlying desire to return home. But that wasn't in his cards, hadn't been for eight years, and wouldn't be until the scum who had caused him to go into hiding could, themselves, be forced into the daylight. Until then, he would stay in foreign lands, guarding foreign treasures, and he would wait.
His eye settled momentarily on his current charge. The Honorable Eduardo Cimbrone was a great man, or so the beleaguered Carabinieri claimed. Bodie hadn't been in Italy long enough himself to see the judge in action, having only taken on this job the previous month. But he did his homework, especially on a job that paid as well as this one did. And it was a damned good thing. There had been three assassination attempts and one attempted kidnapping in the past three weeks, and that was on his home turf. True, a convention of coppers was probably the last place an assassin might want to do his work, but with any crowd as large as this one it was too easy for the possibility of a slip-up. Bodie had seen too many people die too easily to let his guard down. Flexing his gunhand unconsciously and slipping past the small ring of officious people gathered around his charge, he deftly placed himself between the judge and the others.
"Time to go, sir," he suggested quietly, the words more an order than either man would admit. Cimbrone smiled sweetly at the young woman handing him back his papers and nodded just as quietly. Four minutes later they were safely in a limousine rumbling through the dark tunnels under the airport toward the Four Seasons Olympic Hotel. Forty seven minutes later they were comfortably ensconced in the best suite in the most elegant hotel in the city, and Bodie finally relaxed. As he unclipped the shoulder holster and rolled his tensed neck muscles, trying to ease the strain and wishfully remembering strong fingers rubbing out the stiffness, he sighed. It was going to be a very long week.
Paperwork. It felt like the four years ... no, nearly the last decade of his life could be summed up in that one nasty word. Chief Alan Cade signed yet another paper, then heard the chime of the bell with relief. It had been a very long flight, and a restful night before, and he was exhausted. He knew he would be facing a hostile audience when he got to Seattle, and while he felt strongly that his program was an important, if radical, idea of how to approach drug traffickers, there were times when he got extremely tired of trying to explain it to people who just didn't want to know. His dual concept of educating the users and targeting the suppliers was far from popular even in his own patch of East Anglia. It was heartening to be invited to present a speech on his program at an international conference on meeting the threat of drugs ... but a large part of that invitation, he thought cynically, could be laid at the door of the public relations people. It would look good on the reports to the various governments involved, but would he be able to sway any of the people who really mattered? The people, like himself, who made and carried out the agenda at the working level? Or would they shake their heads, as his own Police Authority Board did, as the people of influence in society did, at his wild ideas, and continue to fund only those projects that sounded tough and were completely ineffective, while more young people died and the hemorrhaging of the nations' lifeblood continued? Aware that even in his own thoughts he was beginning to sound like The Grand Pontificator, he stifled the urge to laugh at himself and gathered up his papers. He'd concentrate on the basics, now, get into Seattle, settle into the hotel, try to make up for the previous night's restfulness ... and think about tomorrow when he had to -- tomorrow. He had a week to try to make a difference. And if this attempt was as futile as the last several had been, he might just chuck the whole bloody business and retire to someplace remote in the Brecon Beacons to raise rabbits.
That thought brought another immediately to mind, and he tried to stifle it as thoroughly as he had his laughter, with lamentably less success. When he had stomped the loneliness and the need back into the darkest part of his mind once more, he took a deep breath. No laughter, no light. No love. Vaguely, he wondered when the last time had been that he had actually felt alive, but he feared the answer too much to consciously formulate the question. Carefully blanking his mind as well as his expression, he fastened his seat belt and prepared for landing. It was going to be a difficult week and he could do without the distractions that thinking of the past invariably brought.
The lines were just as bad as he'd expected them to be. Used to stakeouts and, further back, standing at attention for mind-numbingly long periods of time, Ellison let his mind drift back to the previous night. His lover had been his usual inventive self, with the added buzz of the unusual surroundings spurring him on to even greater heights of ingenuity. The pleasant ache in his hamstrings and the heaviness coiled low, spreading from the small of his back down the crease of his buttocks and centering around his well-exercised opening brought a reminiscent smile to his sculptured mouth. It wasn't often Sandburg let himself get that wild. Yeah, he wasn't the restrained type, but he didn't usually pound his partner through the floor like he had last night. God, that had been incredible.
Even with enhanced hearing, the low, accented voice had to repeat his name three times before he registered it.
"It is Jim Ellison, isn't it?"
Turning to meet the voice, a wide smile split his face, bracketing his eyes with deep laugh lines. "I'll be damned! Sergeant Bodie!" He thrust out his hand to take the offered handshake, eyes sweeping over the stocky, fit man before him. The years had been kind to his one-time special forces instructor. The ebony hair was silvered, but the pale, handsome face was still smooth, and the solid build was in excellent shape. His handshake was just as firm, and the gun calluses were still hard, so he was still in the business, in some manner. The only thing showing his age was the shadow in his deep blue eyes. They had always been somewhat cold, and business-like, but now there was an underlying hint of pain that he had never seen.
A white-toothed smile answered his greeting. "Not sergeant any more, lad. Just Bodie." The handclasp was brief, but warm. They'd not been close friends, fifteen years ago when they'd known one another, but they had respected one another's abilities, and something about the younger man had struck a protective chord in the older one.
"Don't tell me you're a cop, now," Jim responded. Bodie's disdain for the police force had been very evident even years before. It hadn't changed much, given the immediate wrinkle of his nose.
"No, doing a bit of minding. Private security." Jim nodded. That sounded more like what he'd expect. It paid well, and Bodie had always had a taste for the finer things in life. The older man gestured casually at the controlled chaos swirling around them. "Had to pick up some papers for my guv'nor."
A not-particularly-polite jostle reminded Jim that they were holding up the line, and he cast an apologetic smile at his acquaintance. "Any chance of taking a break and getting together later? I'm here with my partner and I think he'd like to meet you." Would he ever, the detective grinned to himself. Sandburg would get an adrenaline rush just from meeting a part of Ellison's closely held past, and maybe the garrulous anthropologist could get Bodie to open up a bit about his own. It would make for a fascinating dinner, he'd bet, and if anyone could get a clam to talk, Blair could.
"I'd like that," Bodie answered, and it sounded as if he meant it. "I've some time later this evening, after the last of the panels. How about 1930?"
Ellison nodded assent. "That'd be great." Another ungentle shove interrupted him, and he threw Bodie a helpless glance. "See you then!"
The Englishman grinned back at him, tossed him a casual salute, and disappeared into his own line. Jim found himself at the table, staring down at a myriad of folders and colored papers presided over by a harried looking clerk, and settled in to figure out what he needed so that he could get it, escape, and pay Blair back for the previous night.
His thoughts resulted in such a bright smile the clerk dropped her folders and, dazed, smiled back.
The first day had gone well, Alan thought to himself, but the proof would be in the second day's presentation. He was scheduled to be the keynote speaker on the alternative approach panel, and he was feeling somewhat nervous. He'd championed unpopular causes in the past -- often -- but never in such a high-visibility arena. He just hoped the changes in his appearance, along with his official biography, title and name, would be enough to get him through the experience unscathed. Staring moodily through the window to the skyline surrounding the hotel, his undisciplined thoughts were interrupted by the chirp of the telephone. Settling into the floral patterned armchair next to the small end table, he caught up the handset by the second ring.
"Chief Constable Alan Cade?" He murmured an affirmative, trying and failing to place the lightly accented voice. "My name is Eduardo Cimbrone."
His mind instantly supplied a face and a sketchy background to the name. Very highly placed Italian judge, uncompromising in his sentencing no matter the clout of the criminal in question, many enemies who would be more than happy to see him dead. "It's an honor, sir. What can I do for you?"
"It is rather what I might do for you, Chief Cade. We shared a good friend, Pietro Donati."
Memories flashed behind his eyes, of a good man dying by treachery in what should have been a safe place, of his own abortive attempt to protect him and the bullet through the left wrist he had suffered as a result. "He was a good man. I'm sorry." Gruff words, laden with pain both from losing a friend and failing in his duty.
"As am I. Please, do not blame yourself , Chief Cade. What was done was beyond anyone's control to stop, even the unfortunate guard used so badly. He himself was only trying to protect his family. It is a confusing and saddening place, this world we live in. But there are good people in it as well. Pietro spoke very fondly of you, with great respect. I was one of the executors of his will, and he left you a small bequest."
Cade was unable to stifle his sound of surprise. Cimbrone politely ignored it and continued.
"It is a personal journal, containing delicate and potentially volatile information, and he left instructions that I should give it to you in person, to not allow it to leave my possession until it was given to you. Would you be available to meet with me?"
Swallowing past the lump in his throat at the thought of his late friend and with his mind rapidly turning over the possible ramifications of the information in the book, Cade cleared his throat softly. "I'd be honored, sir. Where would you like to meet? And when would be convenient?"
A rustle of papers in the background caused Cade to cast a rueful glance at his own stack of paperwork. It could wait. He needed something to take his mind off the next day's efforts anyway. And meeting the honorable judge would be a good distraction. Not to mention the fact that he was intensely curious to discover what Donati had left to him.
"It is a fine night, and I am feeling cramped in this room. Perhaps the verandah of the hotel restaurant, after dinner this evening? At, oh, eight o'clock?" The hesitancy in the older man's voice was underlined with anticipation. He undoubtedly wanted to rid himself of the journal as soon as possible. Considering the myriad threats to him, it really wasn't much of a surprise that he should wish to rid himself of at least one.
"I look forward to it, sir." A sincere "until later" and he cradled the receiver thoughtfully and picked up the room service menu. If he was going to spend as much time as he would like to talking with Cimbrone, he'd better get the rest of his work done. Bearding the lions in the den was one thing ... bearding them unprepared was enough to make his palms sweat.
Part of him felt a little apprehensive about leaving the judge with the night shift, but the old man had assured him that he would be settled in his room for the rest of the evening, so Bodie ignored the little itch between his shoulder blades and left the suite to meet Ellison and his partner for dinner. He told himself he was over-reacting -- he'd been on-duty for nearly three weeks without a single day off, and the strain was beginning to show. A man could only stay alert for so long, getting by on nights of half-alert sleep, before his reflexes gave. And he wasn't getting any younger -- he'd admit that, if only to himself. He'd always been relentlessly honest with himself about his own abilities, even as he'd lied like a professional to others around him. Kept them on their toes. All except Doyle. Ray'd known better. After the first two weeks he hadn't been able to slip a single lie past his partner, and after a month he hadn't wanted to. After the first three months he was too busy trying to keep Doyle's back covered during the day and get into his bed at night, and after the fourth month he'd been too shagged out from both to worry about the fact that his golli could (and did) read him like a book. They'd had eleven years. More than some marriages. It had been eight since they'd had to split. And he'd fought his own heart every single day of the full eight years.
Before he could sink into the melancholy he felt lapping at his thoughts, he caught sight of Ellison, forging across the crowded restaurant. Just to his side and half a step at his heels trailed a young man who, for some reason Bodie couldn't identify, made his breath catch in his throat. As they drew closer and he stood to greet them, he broke down his reaction and tried to analyze it. True, the young man was a beauty, and he wasn't so bloody old he couldn't appreciate lustrous sable curls and huge blue eyes fringed with thick dark lashes, or broad shoulders topping a strong, gorgeous body. The relatively diminutive stature couldn't hide the strength inherent in the sturdy frame; strong thighs, narrow waist leading to a surprisingly broad chest and wide shoulders, all perfectly proportioned, topped by a stunningly beautiful face, all high cheekbones, large eyes and succulent mouth. But it wasn't the beauty of the man, or even the nearly visible energy surrounding him as he very nearly bounced across the room. Something ... indefinable was catching Bodie's interest, arousing him and interesting him in a way he couldn't remember being caught in a very, very long time.
By the time he realized how turned on he was, Ellison had come to a stop by his table and was staring at him intently, a frown in the crystal blue eyes. Bodie managed to stop himself from looking down at his groin to see if he was giving himself away, and cocked his head encouragingly, trying to look friendly, not as if he wanted to jump on the young stranger and fuck him senseless.
"Bodie, this is my partner," Ellison stressed the word oddly, and Bodie caught the meaning immediately. A fair warning -- this one was taken. "Blair Sandburg. Blair, this is Bodie, an old friend from the army." From the hard edge in the detective's voice, the friendship, such as it was, was close to being forfeited. Bodie blanked his face and banked the fire running through his system, more than a little astonished at his own reaction.
Sandburg reached out to shake Bodie's hand, shooting Jim a puzzled, concerned glance as he did. The younger man sensed the unexpected tension, and instinctively tried to ease it. "Mr. Bodie, it's nice to meet you. I'd like to say I've heard a lot about you, but you know Jim, he is so not into talking about the past. Mister motormouth he is not."
Bodie found himself grinning at Blair's cheerful exuberance. Feeling his pulse start to slow and the tightness in his groin fade to a manageable level, he was relieved to see Ellison relax fractionally and ease up on the glare. This was supposed to be a friendly dinner, and he'd have to watch his own unexpected desire to spread young Sandburg across the table and treat him like the buffet if he wanted it to stay friendly. Shaking his head slightly to rid himself of the lingering daze of lust, he put himself out to be charming.
No one could out-charm Bodie when he made a real effort.
After the initial rocky start, conversation flowed freely. Sandburg unobtrusively led the conversation, speaking about some of his unusual experiences with various field expeditions into South American jungles, and Bodie responded in kind, sharing some of his own experiences in Africa. Jim listened intently, enjoying the exchange of adventure stories, and offering a few of his own from his time in Peru. An hour into dinner, stuffed prawns and cheese rolls out of the way and the first delicious bottle of wine nearly emptied, the trio was tucking into their main course when a sudden disturbance out on the verandah made Ellison stand abruptly and focus through the French doors. Bodie broke off in the middle of tale about a Nganguela priest speaking to the ancestors of a village man and instinctively reached for his gun. Blair immediately diverted his attention to his Sentinel, asking calmly, in an unusually gentle but very direct voice, what it was that Jim saw. Before the big man could answer, someone threw open the doors and the sound of the action outside made it quite clear.
Gunshots. Men swearing, loudly, threatening in a mixture of English, Italian and German. High pitched squeals, not all of them feminine, from the surrounding bystanders. The distinctive wet muffled thud of bullets tearing into human flesh, and the corresponding rustling thump of bodies hitting cement. Bodie was around the table and at the doors in a heartbeat. He was one step behind Ellison and right on the heels of Sandburg. The detective drew his weapon with one hand and displayed his shield with the other, bellowing, "Police! Drop your weapons!" while simultaneously managing to shield his partner from possible return fire. Bodie slipped around the side of the duo and cursed, filthily and at length, at what he saw.
Three men were down, another half dozen wounded. He recognized Judge Cimbrone's minder among the dead. Two men in lightweight business suits were being thrust forcefully into the back of a wagon of some sort, one of the four wheel drive off-road vehicles so favored in the Pacific Northwest, a muted blue job with a swing-out door that easily accommodated the old man and the unidentified bystander being stuffed into it. Bodie managed to draw a bead on one of the bastards kidnapping the judge, unexpectedly aided by a sideways kick from the second man, but it wasn't enough. By the time he got another clear shot the door swung shut and the wagon veered off into the traffic, causing several other cars to swerve and collide with one another. For an instant, under the adrenaline pounding in his head, Bodie thought he saw something familiar in the long legs ruthlessly kicking at the abductors, but then the press of people surrounding him and the all-too-familiar routine of the police at the scene of the crime boxed him in.
Staring at the lax body of the guard who had been killed in the abduction, he listened to the chatter around him and took a deep breath. Now would be a good time to draw on those old CI5 powers ... if he still had them ... and if they were in Britain ... as it was, he looked up to see Ellison approaching with a subdued Blair at his side and took another deep breath. It was going to be a long night of questions, answers, more questions, wasted time ... and all the time the bastards who'd stolen his charge out from under his nose would be getting further and further away. This would be a political hot potato and, seeing the local representatives of the Federal Bureau of Investigation that were in town for the conference begin rounding up witnesses, it wouldn't be long before he would be completely out of the loop. God help the poor bastard who'd been snatched along with the judge. Eduardo Cimbrone was not long for this world, and whoever'd had the bad luck to be standing next to him was a walking dead man.
Or a kicking one, he thought on a note of black humor, before the FBI zeroed in on him and began to ask him questions. Pulling out the papers that allowed him to carry the gun he had discharged and identifying himself as an off duty bodyguard of the judge's, he began to answer questions. So much for a nice relaxing dinner with an old acquaintance. At least he had an alibi. Not that he needed one ... but it never hurt to be prepared.
Three hours later he was drained dry, out from under suspicion, and bone tired. But something was nagging at him, and he couldn't put his finger on it. Watching from the sidelines as the FBI agents asked the same questions from the same witnesses and got the same answers for the fifth time, Bodie turned slowly around and headed for the restaurant. As he entered the dining room he leaned against the doorframe and glanced around the room. Ellison and Sandburg, who had been questioned and given leave to go two hours earlier, were hunched over coffee at one of the side tables, whispering fiercely to one another. Bodie's right eyebrow slowly arched and he peered measuringly at the two men. He wasn't one to give up, and his professional pride was dented that the judge had been taken from practically under his nose. And there was something about the Kicker that was really pulling at his brain.
Ellison was a copper. Maybe he'd have some ideas. He shifted himself from his near-sprawl in the doorway and went over to join the others.
As usual, Jim was nonverbally beating himself over the head for not responding fast enough to a crisis, and equally the norm, Blair was talking a mile a minute to try to pull his partner out of the trough of the guilts he had dropped into. Even knowing that the only things that would help were time and objective distance didn't stop the ritual dance. After three years, neither of them expected it would. Anyway, it felt good to go through the motions, add some normalcy to the situation. Or at least as much normalcy as they usually had in any given situation, which wasn't a hell of a lot.
Finally managing to pinpoint the one weird moment that stood out over all the other weird moments in a violently weird evening, Ellison laid a gentle finger across the rapidly moving lips of his Guide. Blair stilled immediately, lapis eyes fixed unwaveringly on the man attached to the finger.
"His scent," the detective finally said, with no small measure of satisfaction.
Blair stared at him a moment longer, then caused him to lose his train of thought completely by opening his full lips and closing them around the finger, lightly bathing the captive with his tongue. Jim managed not to moan out loud, even tried his best to glare at his unrepentant lover, but it didn't do any good. Eventually, when it felt as if every nerve in his body had been alerted to the gentle suckling of his fingertip and every neuron in his brain was crosswired, Blair took pity on him.
Letting the finger slip from his mouth, he cocked his head slightly and stared at Jim. "Whose scent? What about a scent? You're not making a whole lot of sense here, big guy."
And whose fault was that? He stared at the younger man, trying to remember how to talk. When they got alone Sandburg was going to pay for that little stunt. Ruthlessly suppressing his body's natural reaction to the thought of just how he would make his lover pay, Ellison ground out, "The kidnapping victim. The one who was kicking, not the judge. He ... his scent was familiar."
Bright interest sparked the eyes holding his, and Blair's curls practically quivered. "You recognized his scent? With that little bit of time you actually had and such little exposure, over the combined scents of, what, like forty or fifty people all wearing perfume or cologne or whatever, and you could pick this one guy out? Incredible, man, just incredible." For a split second what could have been jealousy flashed across the expressive face, then what Jim privately thought of as Blair's Darwin-face pulled the generous features into a serious mask and Blair started to shoot questions at him. Before the stream had a chance to build into a flood and wash them both away, Jim held up both hands in an 'I surrender' pose and broke in firmly.
"I recognized it." He was certain he had, but he couldn't for the life of him place it.
"So, you've smelled it before. This is great, Jim, we could really use this. Was it a particular kind of aftershave, maybe, or deodorant or-"
"His scent," Jim interrupted absently. "It was his natural scent, Chief. I don't know where I've smelled it before, but it was definitely familiar."
"That's even better, Jim. Listen, that means you can use his scent to track him. It won't fade over time, like the gunpowder did that time when you were tracking the gun, and it won't wash off him like it would with sweat or water or whatever. No matter how long these guys have him, you'll still be able to track him! Now we just have to figure out a way to get included in the investigation, so you can get in there and do your stuff. It's not like it's gonna wear off. As long as there's life, there's hope, right?"
"There won't be for very long," a cool English voice broke in. Both men looked up to see Bodie standing at Sandburg's shoulder, looking exhausted and frustrated.
"What do you mean?" Jim got in, before Blair could chime in with something to try to cover their previous conversation. Ellison's Sentinel abilities were a very well kept secret. "Did you recognize the men involved in the kidnapping?" It might at least give them a starting place.
"No, not specifically. But I know the sort of enemies Eduardo Cimbrone had. They don't want a ransom. They want him dead. If they ransom him he'll just go right back to the bench, and that's not the kind of message they want to send out. They want fear, not money. They want to intimidate, not extort." He visibly gathered himself before going on. "Those men will be dead very soon."
"Not if we find them first," Jim answered before he even realized he was going to say anything. Two pairs of sapphire eyes pinned him to his chair, and he shrugged helplessly. "We have to try."
"Bit out of your jurisdiction, my son," Bodie said slowly, staring at his one-time student. "And I don't have any, anywhere."
Jim stared back at him for a moment, then swiveled to search Blair's face. The calm certainty he saw there confirmed that this was the right course of action, and that he would have all the back-up he ever needed. "Anyone can make a citizen's arrest." Without another word being spoken, it was decided.
The hunt was on.
It had all exploded so quickly, Cade hadn't had a chance to defend himself, much less the elderly gentleman who had just moments before been reminiscing quietly about absent friends. He'd been a little surprised by the absence of obvious bodyguards, but his sharp eye had picked up a hulking shape looming protectively in the shadows and he'd relaxed slightly. They'd spoken for a little while, Cimbrone had handed him the small, cloth bound book, which he'd placed carefully in his inner jacket pocket, and they had lingered for a moment, enjoying the temperate breezes lightening the evening.
Then hell had erupted around them.
At the squeal of tires and sound of semiautomatic gunfire he'd instinctively pushed the judge down, hand scrabbling for a shoulder holster he no longer wore, fingers clawing for a gun he hadn't carried in years. The instincts, which had saved his life so many times, failed him this time, costing him precious seconds in which he could have raised more of an alarm. Or so he castigated himself, later. At the time, there was no chance to think, only react.
The bodyguard fell first, but not before taking down one of the attackers. Cade took down another with a lethal chop to the throat, kicking out desperately to keep the others from surrounding the judge. He failed. Someone barked out a sharp order in Italian, countered by another bark in what sounded like German, and he found himself pinned by two bruisers who must've been weaned on steroids. Dizzy from head blows and fists held back behind him, he was unable to counter the swift punches to his midsection that drove the breath from his body and turned his vision black. Disorientation hit as he was lifted bodily and shoved into what felt like a van, managing to land only one more vicious kick before something hard bashed into the side of his skull and he sunk unwillingly into darkness.
When the light came back, it brought throbbing pain with it. Bile surged in his throat and when he tried to open his eyes vertigo struck, leaving him whimpering softly, unable to stifle the sound completely. A small part of his brain, still functioning somewhat objectively, cataloged the symptoms of shock and concussion, then a booted foot connected with his bruised ribs and he gasped at the pain.
At least the room stopped spinning. Turning his head cautiously to look at his captors, he decided that that wasn't much of an improvement. Darkness was preferable. At least then he wouldn't see the bullet coming.
A tall, swarthy man in the ratty blue jeans and worn sweatshirt was pointing a Walther at his head. Cade took a shallow breath, the best he could manage in the curled up position he found himself in, and stared at his would-be executor's eyes. What he saw there chilled him completely. No warmth. Not even the warmth of hatred, or rage. Just ice. If there had ever been a soul in the man, it had withered and died years before. Cade swallowed dryly and tried to relax his muscles. He wouldn't give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing him beg.
As the man's forefinger began to curl around the trigger, someone spat a short order at him. He immediately eased off the trigger, looking down at his captive with no expression, before turning and heading away from him. Cade took a moment to close his eyes and thank Whoever was watching over him for the mercy of sparing his life, then gingerly turned until he could see what was happening behind him. His head throbbed alarmingly, but his vision was clearing.
What he saw made him feel sick all over again.
Cimbrone was strapped to a chair, blood flowing freely from numerous scrapes and cuts along his face, chest and arms. He had obviously been beaten, and quite thoroughly at that. Opposite from the chair sat a videocamera on a tripod, and a harsh light threw the evidences of mistreatment into sharp relief. Cimbrone was saying something, his words trembling and his voice breaking at times. Just out of the harsh spotlight a man, dressed similarly to the thug who had been standing over Cade when he awoke, watched Cimbrone closely. Eventually, the old man's voice stumbled to a stop. Someone rapped out a question, and his head fell forward for a moment before he straightened his neck. The effort to sit proudly showed in the white tension of his face, but the calm dignity there was unimpaired. As Cade watched the calm profile, nearly holding his breath from the tension in the air, the silence was broken by a single word.
"No." There was no quaver in the judge's voice now.
Cimbrone's lips had scarcely closed over the word before the man in the shadows extended his arm, placed the barrel of the handgun less than an inch from the side of the old man's skull, and pulled the trigger.
Cade closed his eyes involuntarily, but not quickly enough to avoid seeing the spray of blood, bone and brain matter that sprayed into the doorway. Forcing himself to open his eyes again, he saw the ruined head slump forward onto the gaunt chest. Then the spotlight blinked out, leaving afterimages on his corneas that made it hard to focus until they faded. By the time he could see clearly again, two of the men had cut through the ropes and allowed the corpse to fall ungracefully to the floor. Cade found himself staring helplessly, unable to fight or escape, trussed as he was. Two men, one the man who had been standing over him when he woke and the other hidden in the shadows behind him, came forward. The gunman pulled his pistol out and calmly aimed at Cade's head, and the Chief found himself unable to look away from the end of the barrel, which suddenly looked three inches across. The rough voice queried the man behind him, something in Italian Cade couldn't make out over the rushing of blood in his ears. He was surprised, then, by the unequivocal negative the other man returned. It was enough to tear his attention away from the gun pointed at his head. When the second man stepped from the shadows, he felt the world spin again.
"Hello, Mister Doyle."
Bad had just gone from worse to worst.
"My name is Alan Cade," he managed to push out past constricted throat muscles. "I'm the Chief Constable of Eastlan-"
Before he could finish the sentence, the terrorist struck like a snake. Kneeling swiftly beside him, he yanked the back of Cade's collar into one clenched fist, pulling Cade's torso up sharply. The threat of strangulation and the pain in his ribs from the awkward position cut off the rest of the Chief's words. As he gasped for breath, the other man slowly ran one hand up his throat, spanning it, gripping his jaw and tipping his face up to the light. He dropped his face toward his captive, staring into the defiant green eyes, before brushing a feather-light kiss over the slight rise of the implant in Cade's right cheek.
Cade looked up into the dark gray eyes above him and suddenly recognized who was holding him. The years had not been kind to the terrorist. Still, he kept silent, waiting to see what would happen next. A smile carved the spare features so close to his own, and his eyes widened of their own accord.
"Of course, I may be mistaken," the voice continued, a faint German accent adding a slight emphasis to the consonants. "You may be a doppelganger for a dead man. In which case, Chief Constable Cade, I have no use for you, and I will allow Antonio here to put a bullet in your head." Staring up into the black ice above him, Cade believed every word. "If, however, you happen to be one ex-CI5 agent by the name of Raymond Doyle, who disappeared eight years ago when the majority of my people were arrested in an effort to save his miserable, worthless life from just retribution from the rest of us, then I will have some further use for you." As he spoke, the other man had moved closer, until their faces were only centimeters apart. Emerald eyes met hazy gray for what felt like eons, but could only have been a few moments. Finally, Cade lowered his eyes and wet his lips. Opening them again, he felt the carefully constructed facade crumble, and the terrorist smiled again, triumphantly.
"Hello, Hofnan," Doyle growled up at him.
"Hello, Raymond," the other man crooned softly. "This is an unhoped for pleasure. It is going to be fun."
The party had to divide before the main entertainment began, at least as far as the German was concerned. The men he had been assisting, for a fee, had obtained their objective when they had executed Judge Cimbrone, with the videotape to prove it. They were anxious to leave the vicinity, and he was equally anxious to go somewhere more ... private for his own little discussion with Ray Doyle. He directed Antonio to place the still-restrained ex-agent, now-Chief, into a nondescript sedan stolen for his own purposes, and drove until he found a place that looked deserted enough for his purposes. The area between Seattle and Tacoma was a welter of tiny lakes and patches of woodland, with small communities in isolated pockets along the southeastern edge of the Sound. As they pulled off the main highway onto a twisting mass of side roads, Doyle was jolted out of the painful daze he had fallen into as his head bounced against the side window. He forced himself to try to stay alert. His chances for escape were slim to none, but his chance of survival if he stayed with Hofnan were nil. And he'd never been a quitter. So he'd have to try his damnedest to find a chance and take it.
From past experience, Jim Ellison knew better than to waste time getting the 'locals' to listen to him. Stopping just long enough to pick up extra ammunition for his gun and all the free cash he had, plus two extra books of traveler's checks, he, Blair and Bodie were in a rental car within twenty minutes. Blessing the desk clerk's eagerness to please and slipping easily through the confusion of bodies still milling about, they set out into the darkness to find the missing men.
"Do you have any idea where we're going," Bodie's slightly sardonic question floated over from the back seat, "or are we just heading nowhere in particular and hoping we get lucky?"
Blair risked a quick look backward, but before he could come up with an acceptable explanation, Jim surprised him by answering. "Just putting some of those tracking skills you taught me to good use, Sarge." A snort from behind them was the only answer. Ellison began to follow in the direction he had seen the wagon leave, then stopped at the corner and focused his eyes, picking up an irregular series of burnt rubber patches on the pavement that were only discernible to Sentinel vision. Softly, he murmured, "Stay with me, Chief," then pulled out to follow the phantom trail.
Sandburg responded immediately. Too low for Bodie to hear, he began to murmur encouragement and guidance, his deep, calm tones keeping the detective from zoning out on the faint burn marks, keeping him aware enough of the early morning traffic to be able to navigate it safely, and allowing him the freedom to concentrate the majority of his attention on tracking the kidnappers without losing himself in the hunt. The younger man was invaluable as a Guide, and had saved Ellison's life many times with his anchoring presence. The magic of Sentinel and Guide worked once more, and it was just a little over an hour before they pulled up in front of a small track house. By the time the burnt marks had faded, Jim had memorized the tread mark, and was able to follow it through the light film of road grease the rain had brought to the surface of the street. He silently thanked his partners in the hunt for getting on the trail so quickly, before the tracks had had a chance to fade.
Bodie had stayed remarkably silent throughout the drive. Peering from one profile to the other, he was caught by the intensity of concentration and the almost palpable link between the two men. He'd seen a link like that once before, had lived with one for years, in a partnership with a man who could practically read his mind, as he could read the other's. But there was something different going on here.
As he watched, an errant memory rose to the surface. In the bush in Angola, watching a tribe of Ovimbundu prepare for a battle. Two men, one a warrior, one a priest. The priest spoke softly, too low for other tribesmen to hear, as the Protector and his Shaman decided which way to pursue their enemies. The way Blair spoke to Jim now, the strange intensity in Jim's manner, the nearly visible connection between them, were all eerily familiar. He'd heard tales of Protectors with some of the tribes who could do things no humans could do. He'd seen too much to dismiss it out of hand, choosing instead to use whatever advantages he could find, wherever he could find them. If his erstwhile student had somehow managed to harness some of this power, he was more than willing to sit back and let him.
Ellison cut the lights before turning into the side street, and cut the engine a moment later to glide silently to a stop in from of the house. There was a stillness about the building that spoke of abandonment, but all three men approached cautiously, sliding from the car and closing the doors gently. Bodie signaled once and Ellison nodded, keeping Sandburg to his side with one hand against his wrist. As the older man disappeared around the back, the Sentinel focused his hearing and his smell. There was no sound of movement within the house, no heartbeats, no sound of breathing. But something had happened here, very recently. The coppery tang of blood along with the putrid scent of burned flesh was strong in the air.
Motioning his partner behind him, Jim scanned the front area through the narrow window beside the door. Focusing his vision, he saw a body on the floor, covered with dark blood. There was no other indication of anyone inside, and he lowered his shoulder and jammed the door open. At the same time both men heard the sound of glass breaking, and the back door squeaked open shortly afterward. All three men came into the house with every sense on alert, until a thorough and rapid reconnaissance of the building showed them to be alone with the corpse.
Bodie's face was grim as he examined what had once been his employer. Blair stood back slightly from the crime scene, looking faintly ill, and kept his eyes glued to his partner. Ellison prowled around the perimeter of the room, stopping here to stare at a faint indentation in the carpet, there to reach out and hold his hand a few inches above the puddle of blood under the remains of Cimbrone's skull.
Blair took a steadying breath and inched around the body to stop at Jim's side. Swallowing heavily, he managed to ask, "What is it, big guy?"
"It hasn't been long," Ellison answered. "The blood's still warm."
"Well, the body isn't," Bodie cut in with disgust. "But something's missing."
"Yeah," Blair responded, staring at the corpse in sick fascination. "Half his head."
"Not that," Bodie gestured toward the empty front room. "The other man."
Ellison immediately scanned the room again, paying closer attention to the carpet. With a muffled exclamation, he turned and hurried into the foyer, stopping by the doorway. Kneeling next to some small splashes of dried brown fluid on the floor, he ran his fingertips delicately over the carpet fibers, turning up his sense of touch and mapping the contours of the crushed material. To Bodie and Sandburg, he appeared to be reading the carpet in Braille.
"Well, he's not dead. At least, he wasn't killed here," the detective finally said.
"Not enough blood," Bodie agreed. He gave Ellison, then Sandburg, a searching glance. The bigger man didn't notice, caught up in feeling the impressions on the carpet. Blair gave him such an incredibly innocent look from those big blue eyes that Bodie knew not only was he not going to tell him anything, the boy was going to adamantly deny there was anything to tell. Bodie gave a mental shrug and tried to gather his tired thoughts enough to figure out what to do next. They'd all been up nearly twenty four hours straight, and none of them had had much quality sleep in the days before that. Staring at Sandburg who was staring at Ellison who was staring at the carpet, he came to a decision.
The detective looked up from the pile under his fingers, forcing his attention toward Bodie. Blair had a somewhat harder time tearing his eyes from the bloody mess that had once been a man, but he managed, swallowing several times to keep his dinner on his stomach. Licking his lips, he asked, "Why? I mean, this is not real encouraging, man. These guys are so not into the sanctity of human life, obviously, so what makes you think they're not going to waste the other guy?" There was a distinct wobble in his voice, but his gaze was determinedly steady.
"They didn't yet, and none of us are in any shape to keep looking. We need a few hours sleep. And we need to figure out why this one man is so important." Bodie was showing his fatigue, the words starting to slur together slightly.
Blair looked over at his partner, who was practically zoning on the texture of the carpet, and had to agree with the need for a break. Tracking and concentrating so fiercely for such a long period of time without lessening the focus had been draining to his Sentinel. He nodded agreement. "You think you can pick up his scent, again, Jim, if we give it a rest for a couple hours?"
The soft question penetrated Ellison's haze of concentration, and he looked up to meet worried, slightly distraught sapphire eyes. That snapped him to the present, and he took a deep breath. "Yeah, maybe, I don't know." Awareness of how disconnected he was getting took him aback. "We may have to risk it, but first things first." Two pairs of dark blue eyes connected with his and he pointed to the body. "We have to call it in."
"Yeah, but Jim," protested Blair, "if we do then we'll be sitting here answering questions for the next three days instead of getting the bad guys, man!"
"He's right," Bodie chimed in. "Too many explanations, too much time lost."
"Hey, how about an anonymous tip? You know, like with the car jacking you told me about when the guy had the heart attack and you stayed there and called 911?" Sandburg looked happy to find a compromise between hunting the kidnappers and doing his civic duty. Hopefully his by-the-book partner could handle it. A pursed lip, raised brows and pleading eyes added to the persuasion. Blair didn't care, at this point, how they did it, but he wanted to get away from that corpse. It was really starting to freak him out. Bodie nodded, Jim reluctantly agreed.
A phone call to 911 from the car as they left to find a motel, and the judge was covered.
The car jolted across a gravel road and pulled to a stop in front of what looked to be a summer cabin of some sort. Details were difficult to make out in the early morning light, but the sense of isolation from civilization -- with its hope of rescue, fading rapidly -- made a shiver run down Doyle's spine. Antonio turned off the ignition and, looking for guidance from Hofnan, exited the car for a quick but thorough reconnaissance. Nodding the all clear to his boss, he raised his leg and planted a hard, focused blow at the side of the lock in the side door. The jamb broke cleanly. Doyle lost his view then as Hofnan opened the door and pulled him from the car. Concentrating on finding an opening, thankful that at least the throbbing headache had calmed during the night, he was dismayed when Antonio returned and hoisted him over one shoulder. With his arms tied behind his back and his ankles tied together, one of Antonio's arms bracing his knees and Hofnan's gun in the back of his neck, he didn't have a chance.
Doyle's luck was running evenly that night -- bad all the way through. The absent owner was a fitness enthusiast, and he had a chin-up bar on a free standing, heavy iron frame in the back room, with a matching sit-up toe bar across the bottom of the frame. Hofnan actually laughed aloud when he saw it. Complimenting Antonio on his excellent choice of a hideaway, he watched, gun ready, as his henchman dumped Doyle beside the frame. Before he could react and even try to roll out of the way, Antonio casually batted the back of his head against the wooden floor, hard, stunning him again.
He felt the bonds on his wrists loosen, but before he could shake off the effects of the most recent blow to his head he was propped against the frame and efficiently tied to the crossbar, arms spread above his head. Grasping at the rope, trying to get leverage, he was soundly cuffed again. Trying to shake off the effects, not sure whether to pass out or throw up, he felt the restraints on his ankles give way. His legs were roughly yanked apart and each ankle was tied securely to the bottom corners of the frame. When his vision finally cleared, the tears slowed their leaking from the corners of his eyes, and his stomach stopped trying to crawl out his throat, he tugged experimentally.
He wasn't going anywhere.
Managing to turn his head enough to see his captor, Doyle was chilled to the bone at the stark enjoyment on the man's face. Antonio turned to Hofnan and asked him, in broken German, for his payment. The older man nodded, then gestured toward the front of the house with his chin. As Antonio turned to go out to the car, Hofnan took a small caliber pistol from a belt holster and shot him, cleanly, through the back of the head. As the large body fell to the floor, Hofnan gave it a disinterested look, shoving it aside and walking further into the room, eyes intent on his hostage. Doyle forced himself to meet those cold gray eyes again, and then wished he hadn't. This wasn't about information, or hatred, or even solely about revenge. It was about power. He had none, and Hofnan ... well, Hofnan had a knife.
Albert Hofnan was very good with a blade. He didn't leave a mark on Doyle's skin as he cut away every stitch of clothing. The finely tailored suit jacket fell away, making a clunking noise as it impacted with the floor. Intent on his task, Hofnan didn't hear it, and Doyle drew a sigh of relief. Even if he didn't survive this, the evidence would, and from what he had been able to see in the brief time before the kidnapping, it was imperative that the journal get into the right hands. Of course, it would do a hell of a lot more good if he was alive to reap the benefits. At the moment, that was not a particularly hopeful prospect.
The first cut took his breath away. It curved along the edge of his rib, over the fresh bruises, and at first he didn't feel it through the other, deeper pain. Then the stinging began, and with every breath it got worse. He held himself as still as he could. It didn't help.
The second cut followed the line of his hip. The third, a trail of fire along his sternum. The fourth blazed over his shoulder to his back, as his tormentor moved slowly around him. The fifth scored across the midpoint of his spine. The sixth cut across the tops of his buttocks. The blade lingered there, the point slipping teasingly into the top of the cleft between his buttocks, scratching across the delicate skin, not quite breaking it.
He whimpered, unable to keep back the small sound of pain and protest that was tearing at his throat.
The blade stopped.
Slowly, obscenely, he felt fingertips trace through the blood running freely now over his shoulder, chest, back, across his ass down onto the top of his left thigh. They pressed at irregular intervals, the fire from the wounds igniting with each unexpected touch. Caught up in a skein of fear and anticipation, not knowing when the slicing would begin again, he was unprepared for the first blow.
It felt like some sort of leather strap. The first lancing pain of contact was across his shoulder blades, and he arched away from it, feeling the blood drip stickily from the cuts in that area. With greater rapidity, the blows began again, crisscrossing his back, buttocks and thighs with careful precision. When the strap lashed across the backs of his knees, the scream that had been clawing at his chest ripped free. It acted as a catalyst for the terrorist, who speeded up the blows until the sound of leather slapping against flesh was nearly constant, reversing his direction and overlaying a new set of welts in a cross hatch to the first pattern as he worked his way back up until he reached Doyle's shoulders. By now the screams had died to pained moans, as Doyle's voice gave way. Finally, when he was almost to blessed unconsciousness, the blows stopped. Unaware of the tears streaming down his face, the ex-agent managed to pull himself somewhat upright, taking some of the strain off his wrists. Then he froze.
The fingers were back, tracing the welts now, painting them with blood. Doyle shivered uncontrollably as Hofnan stepped very close to his back and began to whisper into his ear.
"You did more than destroy my operation, did you know that, Raymond? I was stupid, I admit, and I trusted you, and that mercenary partner of yours. That was my mistake. But you made a mistake as well, Raymond." The fingers dipped, digging into his hips, causing him to cry out in pain as they dug into fresh welts and open cuts. "You did not kill me when you killed the rest. You should have killed us all."
"I tried." He almost didn't recognize his own voice in the rasp that answered. Then he wondered when he'd lost his sanity, to be baiting the mad bastard like this. The fingers tightened further, and he moaned in response to the vises on his flesh.
"You failed." The hands pulled backwards, and he yelped at the searing pain of rough material against his abused back as Hofnan pulled their bodies tightly together. "You betrayed me." One hand slid around his hip and grasped his genitals, squeezing tightly. This time, Doyle couldn't even find the wind to protest. He froze in fear. "You humiliated me." The other hand, the one with the knife, curved around the opposite side of his waist. He felt his eyes go huge with panic. "You destroyed me."
"No," he managed to whisper past fear-frozen lips. "No, I -- we didn't -- we had to run -- had to hide -- you won --" Anything, anything to get that bloody knife away from his balls. As the flat of the blade slid slowly under the weight of his scrotum, he sobbed, once, then froze again, afraid to move. Instinctively spreading his thighs as much as he was able, trying desperately to move away from the sharp edge of the blade, he found himself whimpering, "no, no, no, no, no" over and over again. The hand holding his penis suddenly dropped the heavy flesh, and Doyle screamed as his own weight obeyed gravity's command and pushed his sac against the knife. The hand that had been holding him buried itself in the thick hair at the crown of his head and pulled his head back viciously, so that panic-stricken green eyes stared helplessly up into the German's face.
He was laughing.
Doyle lost his breath as the hard face came down to meet his own, lips forcing his mouth open, a thick tongue forcing its way past his teeth. Suddenly he aware that he was unable to breathe for the tears running down his face, his nose clogged, his throat filled with his enemy's tongue. He felt liquid running down the inside of his thigh, and he began a gasping cry, small uncontrollable hiccoughs of fear and anger and helplessness. As he suffered the rape of his mouth, he felt the knife move. The hand between his thighs turned slightly and he felt the flat of the knife trace the bulge of his sac, before running lightly along his penis. It tapped, twice, against the head, then traced its way back upward until it parted his pubic hair. Unable to move, blind to what was being done to him, aware only of the fire in his back, the pain in his skull, the fear that he had been gelded and the desperate need to breathe, Doyle began to pass out. With one last bite at his upper lip, Hofnan broke contact. Dizzy, sick, and scared half to death, Doyle hung, not knowing whether he was going to faint or regain full consciousness, and not sure which to hope for.
"Where is Bodie?" The hissed question broke through the haze of pain and slipped under his defenses. Unable to think of a convincing lie, not knowing if Hofnan knew or only guessed that Bodie was still alive, Ray stared mutely at him. The terrorist yanked him further back, bowing his spine, taking him to the edge of sanity before releasing him with an oath.
The pressure at his back finally eased, and his head dropped forward in relief. Then he whispered, "please, no!" as the knife found its way unerringly to his back again. Feet still widespread, he was open to anything Hofnan chose to inflict. The back of the knife was a cold point of pressure up the inside of his thigh, along his perineum, nudging at the back of his sac. He fancied, for a moment, that he could literally feel his balls trying to curl up into his body. Then the knife reversed course, heading for his anus. He held his breath again, hoping against hope that this time he really would pass out.
No one was listening to his silent pleas.
"You will tell me, you know." Cold metal circled on flinching flesh, and he whimpered deep in his throat. "Easily -- or with difficulty. For yourself. Either way I shall enjoy it."
Doyle tried to say that Bodie was dead, but he couldn't get the words out. Then he tried to mumble that he didn't know, they wouldn't let them see each other, no contact allowed, eight years of hell with no Bodie, but thankfully the only sound that rent the air was an incoherent muttering.
The knife was suddenly withdrawn, and he heard the snick of metal against leather as it was sheathed. Then the warm metal handle was suddenly running along the wounds across his buttocks, and he screamed again as a rough hand clutched at his cleft, forcefully parting him. The long handle, slick with his blood, was thrust without warning into his anus, tearing him slightly, frightening him half out of his mind. To his horror, he felt it being drawn slowly in and out, an inch at a time, as Hofnan fucked him with the hilt of the knife. Dimly, he was aware that the terrorist was talking to him again, but as the knife was forced deeper and deeper into him, the last of his strength gave out and he thankfully lost consciousness, escaping the rest of the nightmare, for a little while at least.
Things at the Convention Center in Seattle had just started to settle down, and the program was back on schedule. The air was buzzing with gossip, rumors, theories and ideas when the word filtered down that CNN had received a videotape of the judge reading a prepared statement. Less than an hour later, an announcement was read.
Eduardo Cimbrone had been murdered. The body had been discovered, thanks to an anonymous tip from an untraceable cel phone, at an abandoned house just north of Tacoma.
A hiatus was held in scheduled programming, and the CNN broadcast was shown on monitors in the main meeting hall of the Center. After a warning of the disturbing contents of the tape, the newscaster fell silent and the voice of a translator could be heard. The videotape showed the judge, battered and bruised, reading from a plain white piece of paper. He stumbled over the words, and the translator stumbled in turn, but the gist of the statement was that Cimbrone was tried on behalf of those in Italy who would deem their own power to be greater than that of the people. Mutterings in the crowd made it clear what the members of law enforcement thought of these 'people' -- a poor euphemism for crime lords. Then with appalling suddenness, the judge dropped the paper, looked with utter scorn into the lens, and said, "No!" A moment later, the muzzle of a gun appeared from the shadows, the loud report of a shot was heard, and Cimbrone fell sideways from the frame. The newscast cut back to the anchor, who was pale under her makeup. She announced that a second man had also been kidnapped along with the judge, but that there was no word as yet on his identity or the reason for his abduction.
The mood of the gathering was subdued. After the initial broadcast, meetings were back on, and men and women were chatting quietly amongst themselves, speculating on the events of the previous night. In one large meeting room, a panel and an audience waited impatiently for the keynote speaker to arrive. Fifteen minutes passed, then twenty. When the speaker didn't answer his page, and the telephone in his room went unanswered, a gopher was dispatched to bring the man down personally. The young man reported back that there was no sign of Chief Constable Alan Cade in his room, and no one reported seeing him at all that morning. He had not been in the dining room for breakfast and no room service had been requested.
After a minor flurry of activity, someone finally thought to check the internal phone logs. Upon receiving the information that Chief Cade had gotten a call from Judge Cimbrone the previous evening and that the Chief hadn't been seen since dinner, a connection was finally made, and the second victim had a name and a face.
Sandburg and Bodie stayed in the car as Ellison went into the Motel 6 and asked for two rooms. The disinterested desk clerk spared a thought for how handsome the big bruiser was, handed over the keys, and went back to the latest Amanda Quick novel. Lost in the joy of well written Regency romance, she paid no further attention to the car full of tired men who fell into adjoining rooms and slammed the doors behind them.
Neither room had a working television set, since a recent windstorm had taken out the cable and no one had bothered to call the problem in. Bodie took just enough time to lay his clothes neatly across the back of the chair before falling naked into bed. He was asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. It had been a long, tiring three weeks and he needed to recharge. He wouldn't have seen the news broadcast even if the television had been working.
Next door, Jim lay across one of the double beds with Blair curled up beside him, long sable curls nestled into the juncture of Jim's thighs as he lay with his head in the bigger man's lap. Long fingers carded through the curls, giving Blair a scalp massage, trying to bleed some of the tension out of the Guide's body. It had been a tough night.
Sandburg tossed the remote onto the unused bed with disgust. Not even anything on the tube to watch, to replace the visions that kept playing across his mind with something mindless and bright and repetitive. "What I wouldn't give for the cartoon channel, man, just something loud and crazy. I'm feeling loony tunes anyway, so I might as well have company." The teasing in his voice didn't quite disguise the shakiness.
Knowing how Blair felt about guns, and how the gruesome murder must have affected him, Jim set about distracting his partner. The smaller man felt it immediately, in the purposeful way the fingers in his hair changed motion. From strong, mind-numbing strokes to lighter, teasing swirls, Jim's fingers telegraphed his intent. More than happy to be distracted, especially if that distraction came in the form of seduction, Blair squirmed slightly and rubbed the back of his head against the incipient erection he found there. Yes. Indeed. That was the way to put his mind on other things.
Closing his eyes, the better to enjoy the sensations, Blair felt the strong fingers slide from his hair down the side of his neck, framing his jaw. He sensed more than felt the approach as Jim lowered his face until their mouths met in an upside down kiss. Blair immediately relaxed his jaw, opening his lips for his lover to explore, enjoying the feeling of possession as Jim proceeded to stroke every surface of his mouth, lapping at his teeth, twining around his tongue, thrusting into his throat. When the need to breathe finally broke them apart, the urgency of arousal was strong on him. Forcing his heavy eyelids to open, he looked up into a sight he would never tire of seeing -- Jim Ellison, caught in the throes of arousal, a wild, wanting look in crystal blue eyes, a flush staining the high cheekbones, the sensitive mouth parted with need. Knowing that his lover could smell and hear and feel every evidence of his own arousal merely hiked Blair's own need even higher.
Reaching up with one arm to pull that face back down again, Blair whimpered a protest when Jim shook his head and put both hands under Blair's armpits, pulling the slighter man into a better position against the pillows. Silently, as was his wont, the Sentinel proceeded to uncover his love, one button at a time, covering every tidbit of skin with tiny licks and bites as it was bared. Clenching his fists in the cover, trying to cooperate, trying to reciprocate, Blair was steadily driven out of his mind with lust as Jim used every one of his senses to ascertain Blair's most vulnerable spots and exploit them. With one last coherent thought, before he gave up thinking as a lost cause, Blair decided that Jim was determined to drive out all the bad thoughts by simply burning up his brain. Then he stopped thinking and sank into sensation.
Nimble fingers pulled the rest of the intrusive clothing off and piled it along the bed. Jim and Blair worked perfectly together in this as in everything else, ignoring the occasional fumble, going around the occasional blockage, until they were nude and breathless, wrapped around one another. Jim turned them both until Blair was sprawled against the pillows, open to his touch, ready for anything and everything the Sentinel would do to him. Faced with a feast, Jim decided to go with the urgency. Take the edge off. Then start all over again. They did need rest, but first they needed to rid themselves of the horror they'd seen earlier. Burning it from their minds with lovemaking was as close to spiritual cleansing as either could imagine.
Running large hands along the velvet fur on Blair's chest, pausing only slightly to tease at the curve of a pectoral muscle, pluck at a nipple, dip into the navel, Jim headed directly for his partner's erection and swallowed it. Blair came up off the bed with a satisfying moan, words spilling out in no understandable order, a mixed plea to 'stop' or he'd come and 'it was so not fair to do that without any warning man' and 'oh god whatever you do please don't stop.' Jim let that voice wash over him like a benediction, carrying them both away as he settled in to a strong suckling rhythm. Blair didn't have a chance, the need and its fulfillment wracking him, tearing him from his moorings, tossing him up in the air and shattering him in his lover's arms. The climax caught him by surprise, but not Jim, who had felt it coming in the change in pulse and body temperature under his hands. When the initial explosion subsided, Blair tried to pull his partner up where he could reach him to kiss him, but he could only run his fingertips over the soft cropped hair and over the fine bones of Jim's face.
"Please, babe. I need to ... I gotta ..." I have to remember how to talk, Blair thought with an inward chuckle, as soon as I remember how to think. And breathe.
As always, Jim seemed to read his mind, following the mandate in those trailing fingers. His own breathing erratic, his need unfilled, he lowered his body over the smaller body of his lover and kissed him deeply, sharing the sweet taste with the source. As Blair spread his legs, relaxed, offering whatever Jim wanted to take, the Sentinel contented himself with settling between those muscular thighs. Running his palms along the outside of Blair's hips, he pushed in gently but firmly, creating a channel between his Guide's legs for him to plumb. As he pumped in and out, he felt the soft sticky weight of Blair's genitals cradled against his pelvis, the springy force of his inner thigh muscles contracting to create friction for his own thrusts, and his partner's strong arms wrapped as far around his own broad back as they could reach. Losing himself in the scent and feel of his lover, Blair murmuring encouragement and love in his ear, he sought his own oblivion and lost himself in his Guide. Reaching completion with a soft moan, he retained consciousness long enough to roll to the side and pull his Blair up against him, nuzzling his face into the soft curls, and falling into sleep.
Blair snuggled contentedly against his sleeping Sentinel, content to have the nightmares held at bay once more. Tomorrow would be soon enough to face the real world again.
The respite didn't last. Sharp slaps alternating between each side of his face roused him, and he gasped as full consciousness returned. Doyle had hoped that by now Hofnan was tired of playing, but it didn't look like the power games were quite over yet. Experimentally, keeping his eyes locked on the bastard in front of him, he lightly clenched his buttocks, biting the inside of his cheek at the pain. The lack of obstruction gave him some relief. At least that goddamned knife was gone.
Unfortunately, Hofnan was only mildly distracted. Sometime while Doyle was out of it, the terrorist had found Donati's journal. He had been using it to slap Doyle back into alertness. Now he flicked through the pages, stopping to read every once in awhile. His face darkened as he read.
"The old son of a bitch. Where did he get this information?" He looked up from the book and glared at Doyle. The utter lack of sanity in his expression compounded Ray's feeling of hopelessness. No one knew where he was. No one would be looking. He was a dead man. At least he wouldn't go without planting some thorns of his own in Hofnan's mind.
"It's evidence," he croaked out, his voice broken from screaming and dry from the remnants of his fear. "On you, and the few of your gang that managed to escape. He'd been collecting it for me."
A spark of interest moved over the harsh planes of the other man's face, and he moved closer, waggling the book in front of Doyle's nose. "Why? Why would he do such a thing, risk himself like that, for you?"
Ray cleared his throat painfully. "Donati was an old friend of my father's. He knew me from when I was a lad, and he hated that I had to go into the witness protection program for something like you." His head snapped back as Hofnan clouted him across the cheek with the spine of the book. Shaking his head to try to clear it, he ground out, "It's not the only copy. He gave one copy to Cimbrone, and put another in a safe place. If Cimbrone wasn't able to get this one to me, or I couldn't act on the information, the second copy goes straight to CI5. 'Cause Donati knew the only way either of us would fail is if we were dead. And if that was the case, then Murphy would take the case and whatever way it went, you'd be dead." His voice broke completely, and he hacked, unable to stop the muscles of his throat from spasming. The whole story was a fabrication, of course, but Hofnan had no way of knowing that. And with the only copy of the evidence now in his enemy's hands, Doyle found a slow burning anger starting in his gut.
This was not how it was supposed to end. Hofnan had no need to keep him alive anymore, other than as a plaything, to hurt, to make him pay for breaking up the gang. And time was running out, even on that diversion. Hofnan would have to leave soon, which meant that Doyle would have to die. Leaving Hofnan free to roam, free to find Elena, when Doyle could no longer protect her. Free to keep looking, now that he knew Doyle had survived, until he found Bodie, and free to kill him, with no Doyle to give warning.
Hofnan stared at the journal, weighing what he'd heard. Doyle watched him, through a growing red haze, trying to fight back the animal urge to kill that was slowly destroying his ability to reason. He had to keep a cool head. He had to escape. Had to warn Bodie. Had to protect his daughter. So many things he had to do, and he could do none of them if he was dead. Emerald eyes locked on the madman holding his life in his hands, Doyle found himself doing something he hadn't done in years, playing his last card, preying on the only weakness he could remember Hofnan ever showing.
His body slowly relaxed, until he was almost slouched in the restraints. His head fell back slightly, baring the expanse of his throat. His chest arched, throwing his hips and groin into sharp relief. Every inch of him screamed silent submission, the beta wolf baring his throat to the alpha wolf. Hofnan couldn't miss the invitation. Dark gray eyes lifted suddenly, alerted by the subtle movements in his captive, and locked to the man posing for him in the soft light through the window. The terrorist's entire body went rigid.
"Are you asking for something, Raymond?" he managed to ask disbelievingly.
Using his eyes to best effect, parting his full mouth as invitingly as he could under the circumstances, Doyle responded roughly, "Will it get me anything?" Invitation was painted in every line of his body. Watching closely, he saw capitulation and anticipation in the cold face of his enemy. Tossing the journal carelessly onto the pile of clothing he'd cut away from Doyle earlier, Hofnan moved closer, framing the rounded face with his hands, running his fingers through the short hair at Doyle's temples. Ray stayed completely still, telegraphing acceptance with his expression and his stance, waiting for an opening.
Closing his mind completely to what he was doing, acting on instinct, he allowed Hofnan to tilt his head to the side and kiss him, relaxing his mouth to allow the bastard full access. At the same time, he pulled against the restraints on his ankle, running his right knee as far as he could up and down the outside of Hofnan's thigh, doing his best impression of a bitch in heat. It worked.
Hofnan drew back just far enough to see Doyle's face, seemingly satisfied with what he found there. "You were always such a whore, Raymond!"
Refusing to answer, Doyle simply dropped his head further back, and rubbed a little harder. Unfortunately he couldn't will an erection to go along with the rest of the pantomime, but judging from the prominent ridge of flesh Hofnan was pressing into his belly, the kidnapper had enough for both of them. Hofnan laughed, a nasty sound, and lowered his left hand long enough to slice through the rope binding Doyle's right ankle. Sliding his hand back up the abused skin on the back of the thigh, he pressed deliberately, enjoying the flinch of pain on Doyle's face. When he got to the softly rounded buttocks, he traced the welts there, clawing at the broken skin as he lowered his face into the bend of Doyle's shoulder and bit at the side of his neck.
Doyle gasped at the renewed pain, and reflexively curled his right leg around Hofnan's hips, pulling him closer. Hofnan jerked in pleased response and ground his erection into Doyle's groin, bruising the soft genitals there. Doyle ignored the pain and concentrated on shifting his weight. The timing had to be perfect, and he would only get one chance. Swallowing hard and forcing the words out, he rasped, "Let me touch you." He nearly vomited, but he got the words out. The only immediate response was an increase on the force of Hofnan's humping into his groin, and a deeper bite along his neck. Then the terrorist stopped, pulled back, and looked at him searchingly. A cruel smile curved his mouth as he slid the point of his knife along the underside of Doyle's arm, tracing his bicep, along the tender skin at the inside of his elbow and along his forearm, leaving a thin trail of blood in its wake. When it arrived at the wrist, it flicked sideways, and Doyle's left arm was free. It fell, deadened from bearing Doyle's body weight for hours, and Hofnan began to massage it roughly, smearing the blood along the skin as if it was lotion.
As the feeling returned, the pain intensified, until it felt like his whole arm was on fire. Doyle closed his eyes against it, then jolted and yelped with pain when sharp teeth bit him on the outside of the wrist. He instinctively tried to escape the bite, writhing away from the pain, but Hofnan held him fast. As his yelp died away into gasping pants, he felt his captor nip the full length of his arm, along his shoulder, up the side of his throat, over his jaw, until his lips were caught again. Allowing the tongue to force its way into his mouth, Doyle nearly vomited again at the taste of his own blood, gathered on the trip up his arm. He felt himself spinning away into blackness as Hofnan reached down between their bodies, and forced himself desperately to remain conscious. Bodie's face, and Elena's, floated in front of his closed eyelids, and he willed himself back to alertness. It wouldn't be long, now.
The sound of a zipper rasping down was accompanied by a sweaty hand clutching at his penis. He felt the slimy heat of Hofnan's erection forced against his own flaccid length, and made himself curl his face down into Hofnan's shoulder, biting gently. The added caress broke the terrorist's control, and he began to thrust hard against Doyle's body, jerking him in his bonds, causing the iron frame to sway. With a bitten-off oath, he climaxed, wrapping himself as far around Doyle as he could reach. It was exactly what Ray had been waiting for.
Lifting his right heel and bringing his leg forcefully around the German's knees, he simultaneously wrapped his left arm around Hofnan's neck and clutched his chin with his left hand. Pulling opposite directions with his arm and leg, he took advantage of the momentary relaxation of orgasm and snapped Hofnan's neck in an instant. As the terrorist's body seized, then slowly slid down his own, he screamed at the agony of a hundred and eighty pounds of dying man pulling against every cut and welt on his skin. The pain, on top of what he had already suffered, nearly made him lose consciousness again, but his panic and need to escape held it off. Ripping at his bonds with fingernails and teeth like a wild animal, he finally succeeded in getting first his right wrist, then his left leg free. Panting from the effort, exhausted from the beatings and lightheaded from the concussion and the stress, he slid to the floor in an ungainly heap and tried to collect himself. The strain of the previous day and his accumulated injuries, as well as the relief of killing Hofnan after eight years of hiding from him, caught up with him and he slumped over, unconscious.
It wasn't his usual nightmare. Bodie tossed on the rumpled bed, trying to escape, half afraid to wake up. This dream started like the others, Ray being shipped off to France, he leaving for New York, no time for as much as a good-bye in private, their eyes having to say what their words could not. A foreign land, again, a foreign name, again, a new life, but for once, soul deep pain at leaving the old one behind. They'd resisted being separated, fought the bureaucrats who had insisted, until three CI5 agents had lost their lives in attempts on them. Attempts that they knew were linked to the Hofnan gang, but couldn't prove that linkage, and couldn't catch the bastards behind the bombs. Then the news from Canada -- someone was stalking Yvonne Belinsky and her teenage daughter Elena. At the pain in Doyle's eyes, Bodie felt his resolve crumble. Too many losses, too many threatened, for them to insist on staying together. Cowley had put his foot down.
In his nightmares, he relived that loss, over and over. Scant contact through triple blinds routed through a dozen different networks and relayed through faceless agents at switchboards in nameless places. When Cowley's heart finally gave out and Murphy, his hand-picked successor, had taken the reins, the contacts continued, but it wasn't enough. Bodie's dreams grew darker, the fears he wouldn't consciously admit taking over his nighttime hours, breaking his rest with visions of shadow figures killing his Ray while he was thousands of miles away, unable to cover his back. But always before they had been shadows.
This one felt real. A face to go with the fear, an urgency that pulled him from his sleep and brought him to wakefulness covered in sweat, heart racing with adrenaline, fingers clawing under the pillow for his gun. Ray was in trouble, now, and he had to go to him.
He didn't understand the imperative, but he had learned long ago to trust his life to his instincts. Now, once again and for the first time in years, he trusted his partner's life to them as well.
Without another thought, he dressed, armed himself, and went to pound on the door to Ellison's room. Within a few minutes, a sleepy looking Sandburg peered out, looking rather like a hedgehog disturbed from hibernation. Bodie nodded at him and pushed in, one glance taking in the single mussed bed and the detective poised in the doorway to the washroom.
"We've run out of time," he stated abruptly. Not giving either man time to ask questions, he continued, "Don't ask me how I know, I just do. We've got to go. Can you track him?"
Jim looked at Blair, and some subverbal communication took place, then Jim nodded and reached for his pants. Within five minutes the key was dropped off at the office window and the rental car was on the road.
Easing onto the side road where the house sat that they'd found the judge's body in earlier, Ellison stared at the surrounding area. He'd seen tracks leading out the side door on their first visit, and had traced them until they disappeared at the tarmac, but had lost them at the main road. As he watched and concentrated, Blair began to ask him questions, about what he saw, how it had changed, if he could pick something out. Rolling down the window, he leaned forward slightly and listened. Nothing. A breeze tickled at his nose, and carried with it a myriad of scents, and he remembered what he'd told Sandburg about the scent of the kidnapped man. He mentioned it to his Guide, and the tenor of the questions changed. With assistance, and holding that voice as his anchor, he separated the scents carried on the breeze from the house. He finally identified three that were wound together ... the kidnapped man's scent, the tang of blood, and fine grained leather, like that used for gloves, or weapon sheaths.
Following the scents, attention split between the faint trail and the sound of Sandburg's voice, ignoring the tense, silent presence of Bodie in the back seat, balanced on a thin thread between concentration and zone-out, the Sentinel went on the hunt. There were a few false starts, and three times he had to stop to regain his bearings, but eventually, he met with success. He had a raging headache and was dizzy from focusing so hard for so long, but he found his man.
The smell of blood was strong even to non-Sentinel enhanced noses, long before they got the door open. Blair made an involuntary retching noise at the sight of another man with half his skull blown off, and the sound was echoed by a growl from inside. The three men entered the foyer and froze, Ellison at point, at the tableau that met their eyes.
Past the dead man, into the main room, a naked, blood streaked man with short dark hair and feral green eyes crouched next to a second corpse. The head on the second body was at an odd angle to the shoulders, indicating a broken neck, its hands were curled into claws and streaked with blood, and its trousers were open. Flaccid genitals covered with semen and blood lay against the dark material. The surviving man held a knife expertly in one reddened hand, directed at the newcomers. His body was covered with welts and cuts, with the occasional bite mark on his neck and chest. Burn marks around his wrists and ankles plainly showed where he had been tied to something, and the mixture of sweat, still-dripping blood from the slices, and semen splashed across his abdomen made explanations unnecessary. But it was the eyes, and the mouth, twisted into a snarl of hatred, that caught Bodie's attention.
Shaking off Ellison's instinctive, restraining hand, he eased forward past the first corpse, eyes intent on the man with the knife. As he neared, he slowed, bending his knees until he stopped, kneeling, in front of the man. As his hand reached with excruciating slowness to take the knife, he asked, gently, "Ray? Ray-mate? You in there, love?"
The wildness began to fade, and some of the tension in the figure went with it. With a visible effort, he focused on the dark man kneeling so close to him. Doyle blinked, then blinked again, and the snarl softened into a hesitant smile. "Bo-die?" The two syllables stretched out and died away, as the knife fell to the floor with a clatter. Ray closed his eyes and fell forward, trusting his partner to catch him.
In the doorway, transfixed by the action, Blair was barely aware of Ellison pulling out his cel phone and dialing 911 yet again.
The scene at the hospital was chaos. Sandburg and Ellison were perfectly content to stay out of the way, leaving it to Bodie to bully everyone in sight until Doyle, or Cade, as the doctors insisted on calling him, was given the level of attention he deemed the man deserved. Not that he had to bully very much. As soon as the ambulance had pulled up at the emergency room entrance, Ellison's rental car hot on its heels, a swarm of activity had surrounded the stretcher. As the Sentinel and his Guide watched from a safe distance, Jim gathered Blair up against him, chest to back, and wrapped his arms around him. The scent from Blair's hair tickled Jim's nose, and he tensed. Blair felt it immediately.
"What't the matter, big guy? Something bugging you?"
"Yeah, Chief," he answered, distracted. When he didn't immediately follow up the affirmative with an explanation, Blair got antsy.
"Well, don't leave me hanging, man, you know I'm no good at this mind reading gig." He snuggled further into the larger man's embrace, straining to look up over his shoulder into the intent face behind him.
Crystal eyes met his and warmed, gradually pulling back from what had distracted the detective, and he smiled, happy to have solved at least one mystery. "I figured out why that man's scent was so familiar. It's very close to yours." At Blair's completely blank look, Jim's grin broadened. "Yeah. He smells enough like you to be your brother. Or your father," he finished, considering the age differences and the possibility of Naomi wandering through England in the early seventies. Leaving his Guide to chew the suggestion over, he uncurled himself from around the younger man and went to check on Bodie.
Left behind, leaning against the wall, Blair turned over this newest bit of information, trying to make it tie in. If the Sentinel said they were related, then he'd be willing to bet money on it. Watching the goings-on around the nurses' station with a calculating eye, he spied an older woman with an air of authority and pulled out his wallet. Taking out his Cascade PD identification badge and clipping it to his shirt, he made his way over to the desk.
Five minutes of famed Sandburg charm, two discreet flashes of official ID (held far enough away so that she couldn't see the fine print) and a heavy layer of double talk later, a genetic screening was added to the battery of tests already scheduled for one Alan Cade, AKA Ray Doyle. Following a sweet young technician into a small side room, he rolled up his sleeve and winced as the needle was inserted into his arm. Maybe there'd be an unexpected side bonus to this little adventure.
Bodie refused to leave his ex-partner's side, so the doctors worked around him. He could do an uncanny impression of a brick wall when he needed to, and he felt the need, so no one was in too great a hurry to try to shift him. X rays, stitches, and an iv later, he found himself sitting beside the bed, staring into the battered face of his best friend. Pulling a cel phone from his jacket pocket, he dialed a set of numbers from memory and waited for the series of clicks that assured him he was on a secured line.
A pleasant female voice answered on the first ring, and he growled, "3.7 reporting in, priority one. Contingency echo bravo oscar. Hotel spotted, contact terminal. Give me alpha."
The woman repeated his code words exactly, and another series of whirrs and clicks sounded. A tenor voice with a few remnants of sleepiness, fast disappearing, came on the line.
"Must be nasty for you to call for an emergency beam out, Spock," the voice teased lightly. Bodie easily read the concern underlying the tone.
"Damned nasty, Murph. We're blown so far out of the closet we may as well be naked in the middle of main street dancin' under a spotlight."
"Details, 3.7," the controller shot back.
In concise, tense sentences Bodie recapped the last two day's activities. Finishing with an update on Doyle's condition, he waited for further instructions.
"I'll arrange transport back to England as soon as he's able to travel. You're both reactivated as of now. You'll come directly back to London, and we'll put you in CI5 protective custody. I'll arrange for protection for his daughter as well."
"Elena's in England?" Bodie hadn't known that. This made the threat even more immediate, if the remnants of Hofnan's gang were still in Europe, and close at hand.
"Yeah," Murphy responded, "at Cambridge. We'll watch over her--"
The rest of the words were lost as a battered hand reached out and tugged the receiver from Bodie's hand. Looking down at the determined, if slightly fuzzy expression on his partner's face, Bodie didn't fight too hard to keep it.
"Murph?" An interrogative squawk sounded from the receiver. "Yeah, it's Doyle. Lissen, there's somthin' you don't know yet. Shu' up for a sec' and lissen." The medicine was kicking in and Doyle's voice was starting to slur. He forged on, trying to get it out before he went under. "Donati left me a notebook with information in it 'bout Hofnan's gang. 'S with the body at the house. Gotta make sure you get it -- got info in there 'bout where to find the res' of the bast'rds." His eyelids closed of their own volition, and Bodie rescued the telephone.
"I'll make sure we get the book, Murph. We'll bring it with us." After receiving an affirmative from his new boss, he folded the phone and slipped it back into his pocket. Looking up, he spied Ellison standing in the doorway.
The big man moved silently into the room. "What's up, Sarge?"
"Could you see about getting a book that Doyle was carrying with him from the evidence lock-up? It's got information in it we'll need to track the rest of the mongrels down."
The detective nodded. "I'll see what I can do. It should be returned to him along with the rest of his stuff, but I'll go along and id it just to make sure."
"Thanks, mate, I appreciate it." Ellison smiled gently and turned to go. "And, Jim?" He turned back to look at Bodie, waiting patiently. "Thank you. For finding him. And everything."
The two men stared at one another for a long moment, dark and lighter blue holding, reading many things that would never be said in words. Finally, Ellison shook his head. "No thanks needed, buddy." Gesturing to the figure on the bed, he added, "Look after him," then turned and left.
"Oh, I intend to," Bodie whispered. Giving in at last to the need to rest, holding Ray's hand tightly in his own, Bodie laid his head down on the sheet next to their joined hands and fell asleep.
By the next morning, Doyle had had quite enough of the hospital. He wanted out, and he didn't care who knew it. Bodie knew better than try to stop him, and the doctors gave up after losing enough shouting matches. Two men in their late twenties with unusual credentials to go with their British accents showed up and, after giving particular passwords, were allowed to escort Bodie and Doyle to the airport. Bodie was able to call Jim once, but the conversation was necessarily brief. It wasn't until the partners were on the airplane heading home that Bodie was able to fill Doyle in on the men who had helped save his life.
Shifting slightly in the padded seat, still in quite a lot of pain from the stitches and the bruises, Doyle watched his Bodie and tried to figure out what the next move was. "I'd've liked to've met them."
"You'd've liked 'em, I think," Bodie returned, not paying attention to his words. He was too busy staring back at Doyle.
"I feel like a right idiot," the other man finally muttered, grinning at the fact that they were sitting there staring at one another like a couple of loonies. "Thought of all the things I wanted to say to you if I ever got the chance, and now there's not a thing in my head except thinking you're going to disappear and I'm going to wake up in bed in Eastland wondering how the hell I came up with this one."
Bodie grinned back, raising one brow and shaking his head slightly. "If it's an hallucination, mate, count me in on it." Abruptly, he lost the grin. "Are you sure you're all right, Ray?"
Doyle licked his lips and took a deep breath. "Yeah. Maybe. I'm not sure, Bodie. There's so many things changed so fast -- hell, Elena doesn't even know what's happened -- and with everything that's happened I'm not even sure where I stand with you."
"Right next to me, sunshine," Bodie immediately answered. "We can sort out the details later. But I have to know ..." He took a deep breath of his own, trying to figure out the best way to ask this. "I read the doc's reports on you. They mentioned -- there were some indications -- they said that you'd --"
"He didn't rape me, Bodie," Doyle cut in softly. Bodie stopped, tongue tied, staring at him, waiting for the rest, unable to ask. "He beat me a bit, cut me up some, and ..." His face closed, and he glanced around the cabin. "When we get home, mate. I'll tell you, I promise. Not here. Then." When I can hold you, Bodie thought but didn't say. Instead, he nodded, and brushed his fingers reassuringly over the fist that Doyle had clenched on the armrest between them. "Later."
The rest of the flight passed in silence, full of promise, and easy with long practice.
The mailroom personnel, along with most of the support staff at the Cascade PD, were aware of the civilian observer in Major Crimes. All three of the women working in the mailroom had, at one time or another, wondered what the pocket Adonis who hung around the cops upstairs would be like in bed, until one of them had seen the way that the gorgeous young man had looked at his detective partner. Then the wondering turned wistful, but the admiration remained. So when a manila envelope from a community hospital in Tacoma came through addressed to Detective Blair Sandburg, it was automatically delivered with the rest of Jim Ellison's mail.
Blair saw the envelope as soon as he came into the bullpen. Thankfully skipping ahead when Simon pulled Jim aside to ask him some questions about a recent case, he snatched up the yellow envelope and quickly tucked it in with his papers, settling down at the side of Jim's desk and setting up his laptop. By the time his partner came up beside him, he was engrossed in paperwork. Jim gave him an inquisitive glance, which he answered with a smile, staring up at him over the top rims of his glasses. With a little shrug, Ellison settled down to his own paperwork, and Blair stared at the screen for a few more moments. Finally his curiosity got the better of him, and he drew the envelope out.
Licking his lips to wash away the sudden dryness, he slit the flap open and pulled out the reports. One fast skim and one thorough read-through later, he was surprised to find his hands were shaking. Lowering the sheets, he looked up to see Jim staring at him, concern flaring in his eyes. Without thinking, he rushed to reassure his partner.
"I'm okay, man, just got knocked a little off balance here for a minute, you know?" A raised brow and a slight tilt to the other man's head indicated that no, he didn't know, and he'd appreciate an explanation. Blair swallowed heavily and continued. "I got to thinking, about the scent, and the similarity between Doyle's natural scent and mine. It was just too much of a coincidence that two unrelated people should be so, well, so alike in such a weird way. So while they had Doyle under the needle, I sort of added a test or two." He paused for breath, and to gather his thoughts.
"Impersonating doctors seems to be a talent of yours, Chief," Jim interposed dryly.
"No, no way, man, I didn't draw the blood -- Yeesh!" He spared a brief glare at his teasing friend before continuing. "No, I convinced one of the doctors there that we needed a genetic screening, and that we would use my own blood as a control sample. Fed her some stuff about looking for genetic markers from the crime scene and a double blind." Jim stared at him in disbelief. "Hey, big guy, don't look at me like that -- it worked! Anyway, I had them send the results here and, well, here are the results." He stared blindly at the papers for a long moment, until a gentle nudge from a nearby elbow returned him to the present. "Yeah. Wow. I need to talk to Naomi."
Ellison leaned toward his partner, reaching out to lay a hand on his shoulder. Blair leaned into the grip slightly. "You okay, Chief?"
"Yeah, I guess. I just didn't think this would ever happen, man. This is so outside the realm of possibilities that it never even occurred to me that it might actually be the truth."
"What, Blair?" The gentle question centered his scattering thoughts, and he looked up to meet his partner's eyes.
"He's my dad, Jim. I finally found my dad." The two men stared at one another in some disbelief for several moments. "Heck of a way to find out, huh?"
Jim slid his grip from Blair's shoulder to the back of his neck, and pulled him in for a hug, ignoring the stares from the people around them. "What are you going to do now, Chief?"
The answer was muffled in Jim's chest, but still quite definite. "Call my mom."
The two weeks since Doyle and Bodie had returned to England were packed with activity. Colin Murphy traveled down to Eastland himself along with the pair to explain the circumstances of 'Cade's' resignation to the Police Authority Board, and so that Doyle could explain what had happened to Elena. She eventually accepted the necessity of a CI5 bodyguard until the mess was cleaned up, and introduced the young woman as Kim Chen, her new girlfriend. Murphy was able to clap a lid on the majority of the story, and 'Cade's' early retirement was greeted by many in the local power structure with a sigh of great relief. Only two staff members heard the whole story, the deputy Chief who was to take 'Cade's' place and Inspector Rose Penfold. They did not echo the general air of relief, and were sincerely sorry to lose their Chief.
They then returned to London, and based on the information in the journal, as well as current intelligence from CI5's concurrent anti-terrorist efforts, began the mop-up of what remained of Hofnan's gang. Given the unusual experiences both had had since they last were active on the Squad, Murphy put them to good use, broadening the spectrum of courses at the CI5 training grounds and sharpening the pair's skills at the same time. Bodie fell into his old habits as a trainer easily, but Doyle was the real surprise. His years of policework added to a natural talent at both seeing and explaining all sides of a situation made him an invaluable asset to the training division. With all the changes in their lives, it was three weeks after the conversation on the plane before Doyle was finally able to make good on his promise to tell Bodie the whole story.
There had been a few questions raised when they first got rooms together, but Murphy merely approved the housing request and went on to the business at hand -- catching criminals. His squad followed his lead, and no further questions were asked in the open. Any questions raised in private were quickly laid to rest as the pair proved their worth at the training center. CI5, thanks to Cowley's practice of hiring the best and protecting them fiercely, had been the first government security agency to make gender orientation a non-issue, so Bodie and Doyle's living arrangements were not uncommon. Privacy, on the other hand, was scarce.
Deciding to ignore the surveillance for once, and just get on with it, Doyle led Bodie into the bedroom and crawled under the duvet with him. Allowing himself to be cuddled, basking in the warmth and security of his partner's embrace, he relived the hours that Hofnan had held him. The words came in fits and starts, but eventually Bodie knew everything. It was silent and tense in the room when Doyle finally ground to a stop.
Unsure of his mate's reaction, damning himself now for ever telling him everything, Doyle was caught by surprise when Bodie reached down and began to kiss his throat, right where Hofnan had bitten him. Holding completely still, barely daring to breathe, he waited to see what Bodie would do next. He didn't have long to wait.
Throwing off the duvet, flicking on the bedside lamp in order to see what he was doing, Bodie began at Doyle's knees and proceeded to trace every one of the fading marks with his lips, laying gentle kisses along the path Hofnan had abused with strap and knife. He lingered over the healing welts on wrists and pelvis, kissing sweetly along the scar lining Doyle's ribcage, over his shoulder, along the inside of his left arm. Still silent, concentrating in the dim light, he turned Doyle over onto his stomach and journeyed down the remnants of marks crisscrossing his back. By the time he reached the swell of Ray's buttocks, the other man was breathing heavily and moving rhythmically, trying to ease a growing erection. Splaying one hand on the small of his back, Bodie stopped the movement, easing the tensed thighs apart, and moving to kneel between the spread legs. Placing soft kisses on the marks around each ankle, he leaned up and nudged Doyle's relaxing thighs further apart.
He traced the thin scar on the underside of Doyle's scrotum with one fingertip, causing an involuntary moan of pure arousal with the caress. Lying down fully between the legs, Bodie carefully licked from the base of Doyle's sac backward, replacing the memory of Hofnan's blade with the heat of his own tongue. Doyle began to quiver, his skin drawing up in goosebumps at the light touch. Ignoring for the moment the erection digging into the mattress, Bodie laved the entire area between Ray's thighs thoroughly, taking his time. He licked again, more firmly this time, grazing gently at the sac with his teeth and the tip of his tongue, then nibbling along the perineum until he arrived at the lower curve of Doyle's buttocks. Easing back slightly, he raised his hands and gently parted Ray's buttocks, easing his tongue up the length of the cleft now exposed.
At the first rough slick of tongue over his anus, Doyle yelped and buried his face in the pillow. It had been so very long since he had had anyone do this to him, and he'd forgotten just how incredibly sensitive he was to that particular caress. As Bodie continued the delicious torture, he forgot Hofnan, forgot the knife, forgot the invasion of his body by the hilt held by the madman. All that was left was Bodie, all he had room for in what was left of his mind was the wave after wave of wanting that was leaving him trembling. He found himself pleading, now, incoherent begging words, asking Bodie to 'stop it, damn it, don't you dare, please, fuck me, please love me, please' ... as the words died off into moans, unable to move his tongue to form the words any longer, he felt the welcome weight of his partner slide up the length of his back, easing the pain as he went. Careful as Bodie was to keep his full weight off Doyle, there was still enough skin touching skin to provide the reassurance Ray needed. With the first touch of Bodie's erection at his entrance, Doyle screamed "Yes!"
It was all the reassurance the other man needed. Warm silk wrapped around iron eased into him, filling him, stretching him past the point of pain and into mind-numbing pleasure. The last remnants of memory faded, as the knife was displaced in his mind by the hot weight of Bodie filling him, easing from him, and filling him again. He felt as if the thrusts were reaching all the way through his body and battering at his heart, as if he was filled to the throat, as if he would never be empty, never be alone in his skin again. It felt as though it went on forever, or maybe he just wished it had, when the thrusts increased. A strong, square hand eased around his hip to grasp his erection, and the combined sensation ripped him apart. Stifling a scream in the pillow below his face, he thrust into that hand as hard as he could, feeling his penis clench and the echoing spasm in his channel, wrenching an answering orgasm from Bodie. Sharp teeth bit into his shoulder, and the hand holding him clamped down hard, wringing the last of his seed from him. As the heavy body collapsed onto him, pressing against the burning skin of his back and pushing him into the soft mattress, he had time to unclench one fist from the bed sheet and close it over the fingers still encircling his penis, before falling into sleep, completely content. Home, and safe.
Bodie managed to shift himself off his smaller mate, determined not to hurt him in any way, and realized that Doyle had grabbed his hand before dropping off. Leaving their sticky fingers entwined, he snagged the duvet with his free hand and dragged it over the two of them. Curling his body protectively around his partner, he took a deep breath and relaxed as well. As blackness claimed him, his last thought was that whatever happened now, they would face it together, as they should have been all along.
Blair Sandburg shifted on the couch cushions, holding Jim's hand in one of his and keeping the telephone handset to his ear with the other. After explaining who he was looking for to three different youngsters at the Hawaiian mountain retreat headquarters, he waited patiently while they ran down his mother and brought her to the phone. Idly weaving his hand through the long fingers, his head pillowed against Jim's chest as they sat leaning against one another on the couch, he wondered what she would have to say about his most recent discovery. He didn't have long to wait.
"Hi, sweetie!" She never varied. Thank god. Always so full of energy.
"Hi, Mom. How's the retreat going?"
"It's amazing, Blair. The air is so clear, and the trees ... it's just incredible. I feel so close to my center here, without any strain at all. I can really hear the voices, you know?" Not waiting for an answer, she changed the subject abruptly. "What's wrong, sweetie? Are you okay? Is Jim okay? You wouldn't go to the trouble of finding me in the middle of Kalaupapa if it wasn't something important. What is it, honey?"
Giving up on ever keeping anything from his mother, Blair twined his fingers strongly with Jim's and forced a note of light interest into his voice. "Have you ever been to England, Naomi?"
Dead silence greeted the question. Hearing his answer in the soft breathing coming over the line, he coaxed gently, "Tell me about it?"
"How did you know?" No accusation in the question, just honest curiosity.
"We -- Jim and I -- saved him from some kidnappers. He's fine, and he's back in England with his lover chasing down more bad guys. So tell me, Mom ... how'd you get hooked up with a cop?" The affectionate teasing in his question worked, and she responded immediately.
"It was an accident! No, really, honey, it was. I was visiting some friends in London, and there was a protest going on, it was, let me see, 1970. Uhm-hm. Or was it 1969? I think it was '69."
"I was born in 1970, Mom," Blair reminded her dryly.
"Oh, it was definitely '69 then. Anyway, the pigs were out in full force, and there were some rocks thrown, not that I threw any. You know how I feel about violence, sweetie. Anyhow, one of them started beating up poor Lynda and I had to do something, so I was trying to pull him off, and one of the other pigs started hitting me, and next thing I knew this lovely young thing with all these brown curls and the biggest green eyes stops the pig from beating on me.
"Of course, it took me a minute to realize he was a pig himself, but he had the prettiest eyes. He pulled me away from the big riot that was really starting right about then, and said his name was Ray, and what was my name? And one thing sort of led to another, and that was the rest of the summer. I didn't hear from him again, well, it wasn't his fault, I never told him my last name, or that I was pregnant or anything. And you know when I first saw you with your hair long like that, so 60's, for a minute there you really reminded me of him. And you have his mouth. But you've got my eyes. Your chin's a bit like his too.
"You say he's okay? Is he still a pi-- cop? Someone Jim works with or something? In a way I'm sorry I never told you about him, but it wouldn't have done much good. I never learned his last name either."
Blair waited for the torrent of words to stop before trying to say anything. "He's in CI5, Naomi. Sort of super-pigs." The chest under his head rumbled with Jim's laughter, but he ignored it and concentrated on his flighty parent. "Jim and I helped his partner get him away from some terrorists. Everybody's okay --" he hurried on to forestall any questions, skipping over the corpses he'd seen in the course of the rescue. "I was just wondering if, well, I should, like, say anything to him about the fact that he's a dad. My dad."
Both ends of the line were silent after that question. Finally, Naomi offered, "You say he has a lover? You think she'd be jealous if I got in touch with him? It has been so many years, and I wouldn't be making any claims or anything. Just an introduction. Not that I'm too sure I want you in any closer contact with even more pigs. No matter how pretty their eyes are."
He chuckled at that. "No, I don't think his lover would be jealous of you, Mom. He's pretty secure." A startled "oh!" interrupted him, but she didn't add anything, so he went on. "Jim and I still have a couple weeks vacation left. We were thinking of seeing what London looks like in the summer."
"You do that, sweetie," she answered. "I'll make a call. We'll see what happens. Love you!"
Listening to the dial tone, he slowly replaced the handset and leaned back against his partner. "This could be interesting, big guy. Naomi's gonna call Doyle." The chest under him shifted again.
"Think I should call Bodie and warn him?"
A wicked smile split Blair's face, and he pulled away to share the look with Jim. After a moment, an answering grin curved the older man's mouth. "Nah," they said in unison. "Let her be a surprise," Blair added, ducking his head to bury his smile in the warm skin at the base of his lover's throat.
Routed through international switchboards and the CI5 operator, the ringing of the telephone in a small flat in London disturbed the early morning sleep of two figures securely intertwined in a single lump on the bed. Past was about to collide with future. Bodie was going to enjoy Naomi, and Elena had an awful lot in common with her brother. Jim would understand. Doyle would just have to live with the knowledge of having children who'd grown up all over the new world without any input from him. Two worlds had intersected and were about to weave together in ways none of the participants could ever have expected.
-- THE END --