Between Two Worlds
Summary: Blair wonders where he belongs, a killer thinks he's a shaman, and MC see a side to the guys they weren't expecting.
Usual thanks to Joy and Alyjude for keeping me on the straight and narrow. Or something...
Blair looked up from his books and at the clock. It was very nearly midnight. Jim was upstairs and quietly snoring, having had a hard day at work, but Blair hadn't been able to sleep. The case had been harrowing; a man killing, using some hair-brained half-baked pseudo-religious excuse to give him the reason for it. The results hadn't been pretty, but what had shaken Blair the most was the man's insistence that he was a shaman and that he was killing to ultimately appease the gods and protect the city after a couple of minor earth tremors had hit Cascade - he was trying to prevent the 'big one'.
In all the time that had passed since Incacha had said that the way of the shaman had been given to him, Blair hadn't spent much time learning about it. All he'd done was concentrate on the dissertation, worked on Jim's skills and so on. What about his own?
He was a guide. What did that really mean? He was also a detective now and he wasn't always sure what that meant either. Within the department he'd been accepted, but within the force as a whole, he was still seen as an outsider. But even if he'd not had that fiasco with his diss, he'd not have been able to stay in academia. He hadn't belonged there either.
It had been like that all his life. Not belonging anywhere, but also belonging everywhere. Not in one world or another, he lived in-between communities.
As he had no official research to do, he'd tasked himself that evening with starting the long haul of learning about himself. At least his shamanic role.
He'd picked some books up from the 24 hour book-cum-coffee shop that had opened recently in the nearby mall and when Jim had settled down to watch the TV, he'd retreated back into his old bedroom and started to read. He'd smiled as soon as he'd sat on the futon, thinking back to the time they'd decided what to do with the room when he'd finally moved upstairs. Blair had suggested that Jim turned it into a home gym, so that he wouldn't have to work out amongst the noise and smells of the gyms he frequented. But Jim had insisted that Blair use it for studying.
I know you, Chief. Whether there's an end purpose or not, you'll always want to learn. You'll need somewhere to keep your books, somewhere to retreat to, to work. Let's leave it at that, shall we? When we move your clothes upstairs, you'll have a lot more space for books too.
That had earned Jim some major Brownie points with Blair, and that night he'd said 'thank you' in his own, inimitable way.
Hours of reading hadn't really helped though. He'd basically gone over all he already knew. There was nothing there that could tell him how to be a shaman. Some books and web sites he'd visited suggested that anyone could be one, that all you had to do was concentrate on something and you'd see your spirit guide. If that were the case, Blair thought, how come more people weren't doing that? His own past knowledge, backed up in some other, more academic books, had said that the shaman was always chosen by his tribe or the previous shaman as he was dying - just as Incacha had with him. Jim had passed on any information that he had gleaned during his stay with the Chopec, but apart from the basics, there wasn't that much there.
He was sure of something - though he wasn't sure how he knew this - that if a spirit guide was present, he'd know it. Anyone's; not just his or Jim's. He shook his head in wonder. How had he known that?
He gave up. Maybe one day things would become clearer. Maybe there'd be a book written out there that really would explain things. Maybe.
Maybe he'd just have to figure it out for himself.
He visited the bathroom and got himself ready, then he made his way upstairs, knowing that he wouldn't disturb Jim. When the man was out, he was out. Unless a stranger turned up, that was.
Blair sighed. Jim was dismissing him in this mind, knowing he was there and ignoring him. Not with any dark and dire reason, but just because they were together all the time. However, he wasn't the only one that dismissed Blair's presence, and that hurt him from time to time.
At his desk the next morning, Blair was going over the evidence and getting his report (and Jim's) ready for the prosecutor's use. He'd had to obfuscate a bit. Just how Jim had known where to look had to be described as good luck and detective's instinct. He'd used that line all too often, he thought.
A quiet growl caught his attention. Not just his. The entire office suddenly went quiet.
"Um, Chief? Can you see...?"
"Yeah. I'm not the only one, I think. Look."
Jim looked around the office and saw that everyone was staring at the large black cat that had suddenly appeared by the side of the detective's desk.
One of the other officers pulled out a gun and aimed it at the cat.
"Put your gun down," Blair ordered. "It isn't what it looks like."
"It looks like a panther," Megan said, her voice in awe as she saw the cat put its immense, velvet-like paw on Jim's thigh, looking for some attention from his human.
Jim tickled behind its ear and the cat purred. Blair grinned.
"Shut the doors," Blair said quietly, "then everyone just sit, okay?"
Those nearest the doors did as they were told, then a gasp ran through the room. Blair followed the gazes of his colleagues and looked behind him. A wolf. His wolf.
"Are you solid too?" he asked softly.
The wolf padded up to his side and licked the hand that Blair offered to him.
Simon came out of his office and looked at the scene in front of him.
"Sandburg, what have you done now?" he barked.
Blair's wolf growled at him, the panther hissed. Simon quickly put his hands up and backed off.
"I didn't do anything," Blair sighed. "They just turned up. Which is a strange thing. They don't usually."
"Don't usually what, Sandy?" Megan asked, moving a little closer now as the fear level dropped.
"Don't usually appear to us, or, for that matter, become 'real', for want of a better word. These are spirit animals."
A disbelieving snigger came from the back of the room. One of the newer detectives, Myron Branford, who really didn't like Blair and made a point of saying so, scoffed at that. The wolf stood up and walked over to him, bared its teeth and looked as if he'd attack.
"Come here," Blair called the wolf. "That is not nice. Now, apologise," he ordered the detective.
"Apologise? To a DOG?"
"He's a wolf," Blair answered, putting his hand out to stop the panther joining him - and Jim for that matter. "And I'd apologise if I were you. He may not normally appear in solid form, but he's very real at the moment. He's also very protective of me, so I'd be nice."
Branford apologised and the wolf, a distinct smirk on its face, made its way back to his human. He licked Blair's hand, then he sat next to the panther and licked his face, getting one in reply. Blair and Jim both shuddered as they felt that.
"You felt that, didn't you?" Megan asked in astonishment.
"Um, yeah. This is getting weirder by the moment."
"So, I take it that they're here for a reason," Simon asked, having found his voice again. "What do they want?"
"How should I know?" Blair shrugged. He looked at Jim and Jim shrugged too.
"You must know," Simon insisted. "They're your animals!"
Frustration at being 'blamed' for this and at not knowing what was going on pushed Blair over the edge.
"Why are you blaming me?" he yelled back. "I'm a fucking shaman not Doctor fucking Dolittle."
"Way to go to keep a secret, Chief," Jim said with a smirk. Blair replayed what he'd just said in his mind and groaned.
"Fuck," he muttered under his breath.
Before anyone could say anything else, a loud scream in the corridor outside had the doors open and everyone rushing to see what was there. A clerk was pinned against the wall and looking at the floor. Blair strolled outside and his heart sank. It would have to be a snake, wouldn't it?
"Does anyone recognise this rattler?" he called out.
Detective Ben Silverwolf from Narcotics was in the same corridor. His face was a picture of amazement.
"Spirit guide?" Blair asked gently.
"Pick it up, it's scaring people. It's real, Ben. It won't harm you though."
"How do you know?"
The young man walked over to the snake, which stopped rattling its tail as he approached.
"Trust me on this one, it won't hurt you. I have a feeling that you cannot let it be hurt though."
"Just in case it affects me?"
"Yeah," Blair replied, rubbing his forehead with his finger tips. He was starting to get tense. Jim knew this and he put his hand on Blair's shoulder.
"You'll figure it out, Chief," he said quietly.
Blair was amazed to find that his tension suddenly went. It was as if Jim had grounded him, in the way that he did for his sentinel. This would be an interesting experiment, he thought, then quickly shelved that as he had another idea.
"Captain, could you find out if any other animals have suddenly appeared, please? All departments. I need to know how far this has spread."
Dumbly, Simon nodded, glad to see that someone had an idea about what was going on.
"Jim, would you ask the people in the break room to leave, please? I think we're going to need somewhere for us to gather so we don't interrupt the rest of the station."
"Good thinking, Chief. I'll get on to it."
Jim called to his panther and nearly bounced down the corridor, a feeling of excitement inside him that he couldn't explain. It was intriguing, he thought. Then he realised that he was sounding like Sandburg, so that had to mean that something seriously weird was up.
A few minutes later, Simon called out that an eagle had turned up in Vice and a rat in the morgue. No one was sure if the rat was a real animal or not though. That sort of thing happened.
Blair sent Ben with his snake after Jim, then, with Megan in tow (who was now really fascinated by this) he set off for Vice.
"Blair, you're taking this very calmly," she said as they walked.
"I'm okay," he shrugged. "It's part of my life. My life is based on taking care of Superman. Why should solid spirit animals make a jot of difference?"
Megan grinned. "How long before you freak?"
"Let me figure this out, send them back to where they came from, smile at Simon and pretend this is normal, go home, then I'm going to freak."
She laughed and put her hand out to the wolf which was walking in-between them. It made happy dog noises as she stroked it.
"Oh, Megs, I didn't know you cared," Blair sniggered as he reacted to her touch.
Her hand shot back as if she'd been burned.
"Oh, God, I'm sorry Sandy, it was just I've always loved wolves and I wanted to touch him and..."
"Megan, it's okay. I understand," Blair laughed.
"He's gorgeous," she added with a grin.
"Well, I wasn't going to say anything, but he is mine."
Megan was saved from having to reply by their arrival at Vice.
By the time they'd arrived back at the break room, Blair and Megan had acquired Detective May Ling from Vice with her eagle, lab tech Alex Markovitch from the morgue with his rat, and after detouring to the canteen, cook Ellen Rosenblat with her Siamese cat. The word had been put out and any strange appearances of animals were to be dealt with by the 'owner' of said animal quickly heading to the others.
Blair opened the door and was amused to see Jim sitting on the table, swinging his legs, a big grin on his face.
"I'm glad to see you're enjoying this, Jim," he said with a wry smile.
"Just enjoying watching you in action, Chief."
Megan entered with the others, too fascinated now to stay out of it.
"So, what's happening and how are we going to send these animals back to their world?" she asked.
"I'm not sure," Blair replied. "It's weird. I mean, I doubt that anyone here has mentioned that they have spirit animals, have you?"
He was answered by heads shaking 'no'.
"Okay, something must be going on to bring them here. I wish they could speak."
"Blair, you're a shaman, surely you can communicate with them?" Jim asked.
"I don't know how!" came the frustrated reply. "Incacha didn't exactly give me an instruction manual, did he?"
He looked at the others there, but Ben, May, Ellen and Alex also shrugged. They didn't know what to do either.
"Do you think it's got anything to do with that guy you arrested yesterday?" Megan asked.
Jim groaned. He was kicking himself for not thinking of that. Then he groaned again. That was a Sandburg reaction. He wanted this over and done with.
"Should we go visit him?" Jim prompted and Blair said, "Why not?" Looking at the others, he put his hands out and said, "You guys better stay here. If anyone else comes in, make sure they stay calm, okay?"
He stood up and walked out of the room, his entourage of Jim, Megan and the two animals hot on his heels. He quickly moved down to the holding cells, a feeling in his gut that something strange was happening increasing as he got closer to them.
He didn't stop when he entered the cell area, just left Jim and Megan to explain. He didn't even ask where the man was being held. All of a sudden, he knew.
Ignoring the shouts of 'you can't go in there!' he parked himself outside the door of the cell in which Uriel Mayfield resided.
Jim and Megan sorted out the sergeant in charge of the cells and arrived at his side in moments. They looked inside the cell and saw Mayfield on the floor, his legs crossed, in a meditative state.
"He's calling them over," Blair said, his voice suddenly monotone. "It's not what he's trying to do, but he doesn't know how to stop it."
"What is he trying to do?" Megan asked, but Blair didn't answer her. When Jim repeated the question, Blair turned slightly and answered.
"He's trying to physically cross over to the spirit world."
Blair sat on the floor, crossed his legs, shut his eyes. The next thing they knew, Blair was chanting, his voice low and sounding otherworldly. Physically, he was there, but mentally, he was elsewhere. After a few minutes of them staring at him, Jim noticed that Blair had tensed again. He put his hand on Blair's shoulder and spoke quietly. "I'm here, Blair. Whenever you need me." Blair's body relaxed again and he returned to his quiet chant.
"What's happening, Jim and why did he sound so odd?" Megan demanded.
"I'm not sure," Jim replied, "but I don't think he heard you."
"Is he really a shaman?"
"Apparently so," came the distracted reply. "Incacha passed on the way when he was dying. He was one. A good one. I guess he recognised something special in Blair."
"What do you mean?"
"The shamans are chosen, Megan. They're elected by the people of the tribe. It can be passed down though, and the way can be handed on. Those that get chosen are always good people, in touch with nature and the healing power of the plants. They love easily, listen well, learn what they need to know, have gentle natures, can accept the presence of the spirits and so on. Sound like anyone you know?"
"Oh yeah, you really described him there. Why can he hear you?"
"Possibly because he's my guide? Shamans don't usually have assistants or back-ups, like sentinels do. But then, from what I can recall, guides aren't always shamans either. He's attuned to me, he knows a lot about me, can read my moods better than I can, knows when something's up with me before I do oftentimes. His dual role, and our connection, could be making me his back-up in this context."
"Are you okay about this?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, he's always followed you, hasn't he? If you're having to follow him..."
Jim laughed out loud. "Megan, you've missed the point. He may walk behind me but he's my guide. I've always followed him."
Jim crouched down and then sat on the floor next to Blair and watched him intently, studying him for any sign of distress and readying himself to help out in any way he could. His panther lay on the floor next to him, resting its head on Jim's thigh, Blair's wolf copying the position with his own human.
"I wish I had a spirit animal," Megan sighed as she sat next to the wolf and absently stroked it.
"Perhaps you have and you only have to contact it," Jim suggested.
"Ask Sandburg. He may not know off the top of his head, but I'm guessing he'd find a way to tell you."
"I might just do that," she sighed. "I wonder what it would be?"
"Personality has nothing to do with it," Jim said. "I'm not exactly catlike."
"You are," she laughed. "You prowl, you pounce, hell, Jim, you even purr when you're happy. And look at Blair. Wolves are loyal, devoted to their one mate for life." She looked at Jim and grinned. "Can you ever see Blair leaving you?" she whispered.
Jim fought down a blush, then shook his head. "I won't leave him either," he whispered back.
"No, I know that," she replied. "We all do."
"Come on, Jim, it's been written on your faces for a few months. You stopped fighting, Blair started eating properly, he was smiling - you were smiling again. We all know. It's cool, we're happy for you."
"What about Branford?"
"I doubt he knows," she reassured him. "When I said 'all', I meant Simon, H, Rafe, Joel, Rhonda and so on. Those of us that know you and care about you. We don't discuss it, but there are shared grins and so on. I'm serious, Jim, we're happy for you."
Jim smiled at her and put his hand on her shoulder in thanks. The wolf looked up and nuzzled against her and the panther purred. Megan was shocked, but pleased.
They all then turned back to Blair and watched him.
Simon was wondering what in hell's name was going on. No reports had come up to him about this spirit animal thing and he was getting worried. He made his way to the break room and put his head inside. He saw a small menagerie, the humans all sitting around drinking coffee and the animals generally lazing about too. Animals that should have been fighting were doing nothing, or were mimicking their human's behaviour. As Alex flirted with Ellen, his rat snuggled up with her cat. The group had apparently grown by three policemen, a bear, a lizard and a falcon. They all looked at Simon as if expecting another animal and human to join them but he just shook his head in amazement. Ben told him where the others had headed and he thanked him. Then he looked around one last time and thought that this would be something to tell the grandchildren if Daryl ever supplied him with them.
"Carry on," he said and shut the door, then he headed off to the holding cells. He wasn't comforted by the sight of two of his best detectives, curled up on the floor with a couple of wild animals and his other best detective sitting cross-legged and obviously somewhere else in his mind.
With a loud sigh, he strolled over to them, sat on the floor and joined the vigil. Jim explained what Blair was doing, shivered when Simon stroked the cat (with Megan giggling when she saw it) and then they waited.
Blair hadn't been idle. He'd entered the spirit world and was searching out Mayfield. He had no wolf to help him though, so he was on his own. Or was he? After a while of being on his own, he yelled out, "Incacha! Are you there? I could really do with your help, man. Something big and bad is happening and I really don't know what to do."
He continued to search out the area until he finally saw the Chopec shaman standing in front of him.
"What am I going to do?"
"There is a false shaman here. He is attempting to escape his mortal bonds. You must stop him."
"The answer is within you."
"You know, I really hate it when people go all cryptic on me. It's kind of like trying to ask a Zen master what the time is. You get replies like, 'when the sun is high it is the spirit calling for freedom' or something stupid like that. By the time you've figured out what he's said, you've missed the bus."
"Look inside your heart, shaman. You will know when the time comes."
With that, Incacha disappeared.
"Yeah, thanks," Blair called out, "anytime I can be of assistance, don't hesitate to ask Jim, will you?"
Muttering to himself about wanting to throttle the next person that didn't give him a straight answer, he stomped further into the trees.
A strange sight greeted him when he turned a corner to a clearing. Mayfield was in front of him, but not looking very solid. It was as if he was flicking in and out of the spirit world. He was staring at what looked like a door or portal in front of the man and Blair gasped in horror as he saw more and more animals heading towards it. All of a sudden he knew what was going on. He needed to get a message to Jim.
Jim jumped a mile, somehow knowing that Blair needed him. Simon and Megan both wanted to know what was going on, but for about a minute, Jim retreated into what looked like a zone. Then his blue eyes opened wide.
"Get all of the spirit animals and their people down here at once," he ordered. "Blair's figured it out."
"How do you know?" Simon asked incredulously.
"I don't know how I know. I just know that I know and you have to do it and soon."
Megan got up and ran back to the sergeant's desk, sending a message up to the people in the break room to get down as soon as possible. The sergeant had long given up complaining about lawyers and due process and stuff, and resigned himself to having one of those days instead.
Within five minutes, the cell area was filled with people and their spirit animals. Mercifully, there had been no more found. They all sat on the floor and watched Blair in anticipation. Over the next half hour or so, they were to get a good few surprises.
"No matter what seems to happen," Jim said quietly, "let it happen. I'll yell if we want you to do something."
He didn't wait for confirmation from the others, he just continued staring at Blair and lost himself.
"MAYFIELD!" Blair yelled at the flickering image of the murderer. "You have to stop what you are doing."
The man looked at him and smiled a sickly grin.
"Why should I do that, cop?"
"Because you are opening the door to the physical world and the spirit animals are becoming trapped over there."
"Aw, what a shame," came the sneered reply. "And tell me, why should I care about that?"
Blair had to fight down his frustration and anger so that he could speak without losing it. "Because you are not going to escape justice by entering the spirit world."
"But I am. Without the animals, who is here to stop me?"
"Me." The word was spoken quietly, but was nonetheless sincere. Mayfield bought a clue.
"Who are you?"
"A real shaman. Not one that has learned his trade over the Internet either. I will stop you."
"That would be telling."
Blair stepped closer to him and nearer to the portal. There were a few other animals present, Blair recognised, but they were no longer heading to the opening.
"Go back," he told them. "You do not belong in the real world."
The various animals slinked off into the distance. Blair now thought that he could do with some help. He moved to the portal and stood in front of it, blocking Mayfield from it. He just said one word.
In the cell block, Blair's wolf cocked his head, stood up, licked Jim's face, then nuzzled Megan, then he walked away a short distance.
"Jim? What's going on?" Megan asked, worry evident in her voice.
"I don't know, but do nothing."
Everyone held their breath and then gasped when the wolf launched himself at Blair. They gasped again when it just disappeared into him.
"Did I just see...?" Simon asked, stunned.
Jim grinned. "You saw nothing, Simon."
The panther got up and started pacing back and forth, mirroring Jim's own frustration at not being with his guide. Somehow, he knew that Blair wanted him to stay in the real world for now, to protect him physically should the need arise. He looked at his panther and nodded.
"Do it," he said. "I need to know he's okay. Wolf could do with the back-up."
The panther nuzzled and licked Jim's face, purring a little when he tickled it behind its ear, then copied wolf's actions and pounced on Blair, disappearing as it did.
"Detective Ellison?" Ben Silverwolf called. "Should we send our animals back the same way? They may be able to help them."
Jim thought for a moment and realised that all of the animals were attached to people connected to law enforcement. Perhaps it couldn't hurt. He nodded and watched as each animal took its turn, launching itself in its own way at Blair and then disappearing.
None of the people left though, as if their continued presence would give Blair some moral support. Instead, they all sat in a circle around him and his friends.
Blair shuddered every time an animal returned to the spirit world. Mayfield watched in awe as first the wolf, then every other animal appeared, then sat on the ground next to the shaman. When they were all there, Blair finally allowed himself a smile.
"You will not escape the consequences of your actions, Mayfield," he said quietly. "You will return to the real world and stand trial. Then you will be sentenced according to the decision of the judge and jury. You do not belong here."
"How are you going to stop me?" Mayfield was truly scared now, only his last remaining shred of bravado allowed him to speak.
"I don't have to." Blair looked at the animals and nodded. They all stood up and padded, flew and scuttled off, then encircled Mayfield, leaving only the gap to the shimmering portal. They moved closer. "They are telling you to leave."
"But I am a shaman! I command them to stay back!"
Blair shook his head in amused disbelief. "You are not a shaman. If you were, you would know you never command a spirit. You let it guide you. You communicate with it. You trust it. And trust me, Mayfield, none of these spirits are happy with you right now. Leave here or you will die - both in this world and the other."
"How can they hurt me? I am not really here, am I?" He waved about his fading hand which was still drifting in and out of vision as was the rest of him.
"Panther?" Blair called. "Would you be so kind as to demonstrate?"
Jim stood up as if in a trance. He marched up to the sergeant's desk, took the key for the cell, went back and opened up the door.
"Jim? Ellison! What the heck do you think you're doing?" Simon demanded. However, Jim didn't reply. It was doubtful that he'd heard him either. What he did do was go over to Mayfield and physically haul him to stand up. The prisoner was still 'elsewhere' in his mind though.
Simon went in after his detective, but Megan called out, "Captain, please. Remember that Jim said to let things happen?"
"If that means killing a prisoner, Conner..."
"No, this is at Sandy's behest, Captain. He wouldn't kill."
Simon had to agree that that was unlikely, so he just watched.
Jim decked the prisoner and stood to one side.
The panther had stalked Mayfield, baring his teeth and snarling as he did. Then he jumped up and surprised Mayfield by not biting. Instead, he swiped Mayfield across the face with his paw - claws out.
"FUCK!" Mayfield screamed as the cat sat back down to one side, licking his paw as he did. "That hurts!"
"Well, duh," Blair sighed. "Now, step through. Or else I'll let them all take a swipe."
Ben's snake rattled its tail menacingly. Ellen's cat stared at Mayfield and showed its own claws. Mayfield stepped towards the portal.
"Do it," Blair instructed him. "Step through or..."
Detective May Ling's eagle circled Mayfield's head, screeching out as it showed him its talons.
Detective May Ling made a weird noise, her eyes opened wide, her hands with their beautifully manicured long nails lifted in front of her as she started to circle the prisoner.
"What the fuck?" Simon asked. He looked at all of the people there, and apart from himself and Megan, they were all in the cell and appearing to be in a trance. Jim was licking his hand.
"Simon, I don't know but I think that they're responding to what's happening."
"Nothing's happening!" Simon insisted.
"Not here, there," she said, waving her hand about her as if she could point in the direction of the spirit world.
"You mean they're aping their animals?"
Megan sniggered and Simon stopped and thought about what he'd said. "Ack! You know what I mean, Connor."
"At a guess, Sir, I'd say so."
"You're sure that they won't kill him?"
"Sure? No. But like I said, this is Sandy in control. When did you ever see him willingly take a life?"
Simon had to agree that he'd never seen that. Blair had been a cop for a while now and whilst he'd always backed up his colleagues and protected the civilians in the city, he'd never once killed, and he'd never used his gun unless he'd absolutely had to. If anyone could solve this peacefully, it would be Blair.
He stood against the wall and watched closely. Mayfield's face was taking on a look of horror, even though he still wasn't really with them.
"Go, Mayfield, this is your last chance."
The noise of the animals was getting to the murderer and he finally acknowledged that he was going to lose this one.
"You may win now, cop, but I will be back!"
"Oh grow up, Mayfield. You'll never be welcomed in the spirit world. You don't even have a spirit animal. If you ever cross over here again, these spirits will kill you."
With a snarl and a murderous look at the shaman, Mayfield stepped through the portal.
In the cell, Mayfield opened his eyes and was astounded. He was surrounded by people making similar noises to the animals he'd heard in the spirit world. He screamed out loud.
The various humans started to come back to reality and stopped pacing, then they looked at each other in wonder at where they were. Questions such as 'How did I get here?' filled the air, all of them directed at Jim, who was still elsewhere.
Megan stepped out into the corridor and saw Blair, still sitting on the floor, his face smiling and peaceful. She knelt next to him and put her hand on his arm.
"Sandy? I don't know if you can hear me, but it's all over. Come back to us."
Then she waited.
Blair reached out and touched each animal, his wolf and the panther waiting till the end.
"Thanks for your help, guys. If you ever need me, you know how to get in touch." The animals melted into the background. He reached down and hugged his wolf and his mate. "Thanks," he whispered. "I couldn't have done this without you."
Wolf licked his face, panther too, then they walked off into the trees together.
"You still do not acknowledge the power within you, shaman?"
Blair turned and saw Incacha.
"What do you mean, Incacha?"
"It was not the spirits that fought off the intruder, it was you."
"But, but, but... they were here, they showed him that he had to go..."
"And if they had not been?"
"I don't know," Blair answered quietly.
Incacha smiled. "You do. You will always know."
Jim was still in a world of his own, from the outsider's perspective. But his mind was somewhere very specific.
"Blair? Hey buddy."
Blair blinked a couple of times in surprise and when he refocused, Incacha was gone.
"Jim, good to see you, man. Incacha was here a minute ago..." he said, his voice trailing as he waved his hand in the general direction of the other shaman's last known position.
"I know. I saw him. He's right, you know. You did good, pal." He beamed at his lover who stepped closer and closer, till he found himself in Jim's arms.
His deep-blue eyes twinkled and he waggled his eyebrows.
"Hey handsome," he said, his voice low and sexy, "do you come here often?"
Jim looked at him hard, stunned for the moment, then he cracked, laughing out loud and hugging him hard.
"Do you know why I love you so much?" he finally whispered, his lips close to Blair's ear.
"Um, my incredibly long legs?"
Fighting down a snigger, Jim shook his head. "No, too much competition with me there. Not a good thing."
"Oh. My Charles Atlas physique?"
"My Terminator attitude to crime fighting?"
"I give up."
"You always, without fail, make me laugh. Nobody's ever made me laugh as much as you have, Chief. And for that, I thank you."
He dropped a kiss on Blair's nose, then left him, knowing somehow that Blair wanted a moment to himself.
Blair stood in silence, did a 360 turn and looked around him. He said, "Thank you, Incacha," and then woke up.
In the cell block, Blair opened his eyes and saw Megan to one side of him and Jim to the other. His partner had come to, a minute or so before Blair, and rushed out to his lover's side as soon as he'd realised where he was.
"It's over," Blair said with a grin.
"Explanations?" Simon called out.
"Simon, trust me, you don't want one."
Blair stood up and walked to the cell which had been vacated by everyone except its original occupant.
"Mayfield. Do not try that again. The consequences for you will be more permanent if you do."
Mayfield was white with shock and he could only nod. With a grin, Blair turned on his heel and walked out, leaving Simon to try to explain to the desk sergeant what had gone on. Given that Simon was not much the wiser about what had gone on than the sergeant, they came to the conclusion that it was something that people had eaten. The sergeant vowed to give up the doughnuts.
Back in the bullpen, Blair calmly sat at his desk and then started to run his hand over his face. "I need a shower," he said. "I'm covered in cat and dog slobber."
Jim laughed and agreed that he could do with one too.
"It's lunchtime, let's go home and have one, shall we?"
With a twinkle in his eyes, Blair agreed.
"How am I going to explain everything to Simon?" Blair asked as they entered the loft. The journey home had been more or less in silence as each man had tried to process what had happened.
"You don't have to," Jim said. "He knows it wasn't your fault."
"No, it wasn't my fault. But he'll find a way to blame me."
"He won't," Jim started.
"He will. Haven't you noticed? No matter what happens, it's always my fault."
Jim put his hand out and pulled Blair into a hug. "Nuh huh, no way. It's always my fault. I'm the senior partner here, I get the blame."
"Senior, eh?" Blair said, then he looked up and ran his hand over Jim's head. "Well, if the hair fits..."
"So, it's like that, is it, Sandburg?" Jim growled.
Blair tried to affect an innocent look and failed. Jim let go of him and Blair stepped back. Jim stepped closer. Blair stepped back, edging towards the stairs. Jim prowled. Closer and closer to the stairs they got, Jim becoming more and more catlike as he got nearer to his lover.
"Um, Jim? Come on, man, you know I love you, hair or no hair," Blair giggled.
"Sandburg? You're calling me old."
"No, no, not old. More liked middle-aged... but young middle-aged."
"Is that the case?" Jim's eyebrows raised and Blair knew he was in trouble.
Jim pounced and grabbed him. Blair pretended to put up a fight, but in all honesty, he wanted to be caught. It had been a while since Jim had done this and it was always such good fun.
Blair called out, "Ah, put me down man!" as Jim slung him over his shoulder and proceeded to run upstairs with him. Blair let out a 'whooof' when he was dropped onto the bed.
"Ooh, you beast," he teased.
"What can I say? You bring out the animal in me," Jim countered.
Trying to hide his laughter, Blair stripped as quickly as he could, his bright-blue eyes filled with excitement and laughter. Jim also stripped, a bit more carefully and slowly, but he too was naked in no time. Muscles rippling, he stood at the end of the bed, then he knelt and crawled up the mattress till he reached Blair's face.
"You took your time, Jim."
"Traffic was a bitch."
Then Jim dipped his head and they kissed, frantically at first, gentling to barely there touches after a while.
"Love you, Chief," came the whisper against Blair's lips.
"Fuck," came the heartfelt reply.
"Oh yeah." With a grin, Blair twisted and reached for the stuff on the bedside table.
"How do you want this, Blair?"
Blair threw the lube and condom in the general direction of Jim, then flopped onto his stomach before drawing up his knees. He looked over his shoulder and said, "Doggy style, natch."
"Ellison, Sandburg, my office," came the expected order as they re-entered Major Crime. They'd made it - just about on time, but they'd made it. Sharing the shower had helped.
"I take it you have an explanation?" Simon asked as Jim shut the door behind them.
"Not one you'll accept," Blair answered honestly.
"I've got captains calling, the Commissioner wants to know if there is something that Mayfield will be able to use to get off being sentenced and..."
Blair put his hand up. "Simon, he tried to escape justice by entering the spirit world. That's a fact. Now, I know you don't believe in anything like that, but if you want, I can put together some sort of report about it. Somehow, though, I think that just saying to the others that it's over and done with is going to be the way to go. If Mayfield has any sense whatsoever, he won't try it again. I doubt he'd even remember much either. If he starts on about spirit worlds, he's going to end up in a mental health facility."
"I'd say that that is likely anyway, given his reasons for the killings," Jim sighed.
Blair just shrugged. "As long as he's locked up and not hurting people, I don't see that it matters where he's being held, do you?"
"So what do we do?" Simon asked.
"Nothing. Just keep an eye on him. If he looks like he's starting to meditate, it may be a good idea to disturb him. But if he does go back there, he won't be coming back here."
"Why not?" Simon asked.
The answer he got from Blair chilled him to the bone.
"Because he will die there. The spirits don't want him. He knows this now, so I'm hoping he'll stay in this world."
Simon swallowed hard, then he asked, "This shaman thing? What is that all about?"
"I wish I understood it better," Blair sighed. "Incacha keeps telling me that I know what it's all about, but I don't."
Jim grinned. "You do. It's inside you, but I have a feeling you'll only learn what you need to know as and when the time comes."
"That's not very reassuring," Blair replied.
"No, but then we've been playing this sentinel thing by ear since the get go. You've always known what to do for me. Perhaps you'll always know what to do with this?"
That didn't really help Blair, but he just smiled and nodded in acknowledgement instead.
The rest of the day was pretty quiet. People looked at Blair strangely, but there was a sort of awe too. They were glad that he'd sorted out the problem peacefully, but were a little afraid of him as a result. Branford went out of his way to avoid him, which was cool with Blair.
They entered the loft, takeout in hand, and went straight to the table in the kitchen to eat.
"They're scared of me, Jim," Blair said quietly as he tucked into his Creole-Mexican fusion dish of pork, rice and peas with a chili con pollo on the side.
"I know. They're scared of me too."
"Come on, Chief. Ever since you've become a cop, a lot of the older hands have realised not only that you were lying through your teeth to protect me that day, but that I am a sentinel. They won't say anything, things that are beyond normal explanation are usually safer to not speak about. The more experienced cops also know that having me around is useful. But they're still scared because it's the unknown. They've always been in awe of you."
"Huh?" Blair repeated.
"You know me, Blair. You're the only person I have ever willingly partnered with. You're the only one that has any control over me. When I was on my own, I was difficult. Even without the use of my senses I was apart from the others. My captains found me hard to control. Simon got closest, but then he's always been special at adapting to his people's strengths and playing them that way. He was stunned when I said you should be my partner. He accepted it because he knew that there was no way I'd ask if I didn't trust you. Even if you'd have come to us from the ranks, and not as an academic, people would still have been in awe of you for that sort of power."
"The power you hold over me."
Blair carried on eating, but he was so shocked by this that he didn't even notice the chilli he was chewing.
"You do. Did you know that we changed roles today?"
"I was sort of aware of it, yes," he said. "You relaxed me."
Jim nodded, then added, "When you were drifting off into your mind, I was there, almost anchoring you to this world. Just as you ground me. You're the only one I hear when I zone, did you know that? Yours is the only voice. But today, mine was the only one you seemed to hear."
"I did hear you. In the back of my mind, I could hear you talking, it was like listening to you talking on the phone. I didn't hear any responses."
"You were being spoken to by Megan, but you didn't respond at all."
"Wow. This is incredible, Jim, we need to test how far this goes."
"Somehow I knew you'd say something like that," Jim laughed.
"Aw, man, I'm sorry. I can't help it. I keep forgetting I'm not an anthropologist anymore."
Jim reached out and put his hand on Blair's arm.
"You are one, you know. You still study man. You're still interested. Just because you're not writing papers on it, doesn't mean you're not one."
That earned Jim a big smile.
Dinner over, they cleared up and sat together on the sofa, Jim's arm wrapped protectively around his lover's shoulders, hugging him close. They were watching the TV, not really paying a great deal of attention to it. Jim noticed that Blair's shoulders were tense.
"What's up, Chief?"
"Where do I belong, Jim?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't belong in any world, do I?"
"I'm not getting you, Blair. We're not about to enter a Sandburg zone again, are we?"
Blair laughed a bit, then said, "Nah. It's just that I'm not an academic anymore, I never really fitted in when I was one. I'm a cop, but I'm not seen as one by a lot of people. I'm a shaman so I have feet in both the real world and the spirit world. I'm your guide, your sidekick, but without you there would be no reason for me to exist. No matter what I do, I never fit in."
"You fit in everywhere, pal. And most of all, you fit in with me. You belong in my world. If you weren't there, I wouldn't have a world to fit in to. Don't you see? No guide, no sentinel. I couldn't control my senses without you, and before you I didn't fit into any world either. But you came along and created a new world, one in which I could be me, accept who and what I was. So, you see, you do have a world. Our world."
Blair twisted in Jim's arms and laid a huge kiss on his lover's lips.
"Damn, Jim, you sounded just like me."
"Ya know? That's the scariest thing I've heard in weeks."
They started laughing and soon the laughs were interspersed with kisses. Blair found himself on his back, being licked and nibbled over his neck. He let out a low, happy growl.
"Good doggy," Jim teased, patting his head.
"You want to be reminded where else you fit?"
Jim stood up and put out his hand, pulling his partner up off the sofa and turned for the stairs, but then he stopped.
"Someone's coming," he said.
"Not one of us then," Blair laughed.
"Later," Jim promised. He headed to the door and opened it just as Megan was about to knock. She fell forward and snarled at him.
"Damn it, Jim, you could at least wait till I knocked!"
"Where would be the fun in that?" he answered, his face a picture of innocence.
"Hey, Megan, what's up?" Blair called. "Want a beer?"
"Um, yeah, great." She took the bottle he offered and then sat at the table with the men. Knowing that they'd want her to get straight to the point, she did. "Look, what happened today was weird, but it was cool too. I found it easy to accept."
"You've always been interested in the ways of the Aboriginal peoples, haven't you?" Blair prodded.
"Yeah. One of my mates when I was growing up was from one of the local tribes. She was great fun, a damned good pal, you know? She'd tell me stuff about her people and I was always interested. She made the stories sound so intriguing."
Blair nodded in understanding.
"I guess I always have accepted that there's stuff that goes on we don't understand. I told you back in the beginning that I'm open to psychics and stuff."
"You did. Actually, your attitude made it easier for us to include you in the secret," Blair said. "It's why I didn't deny it when you guessed. I knew that you'd keep your mouth shut and you'd be good about it. So, what is it that you want?"
She smiled back. "You know me too well. To be frank, I wanted to be more involved today. It would seem that the Precinct has quite a number of people that have got in touch with their spirit animals and I wanted one. Jealous, I guess. It's childish, eh?"
"No, not at all," Blair reassured. "I'm not sure how you get in touch with one, because we had ours kind of thrust on us."
"Oh. Perhaps I should ask one of the others then, it was just that you being a shaman and all..."
"Hang on, just because I said I'm not sure, doesn't mean I won't try to help. I'm not guaranteeing anything, that's all."
"Fair enough. So, what do you suggest?"
Blair thought for a moment, then he said, "Meditating might help. Hang on."
He scooted off and got out some mildly scented candles and set them out in the living room. Jim, who had been quietly observing this, got up and strolled to the curtains and drew them. Then he sat on the sofa, preferring to stay out of this for the moment.
"Come here and sit," Blair instructed.
Megan kicked off her shoes and joined him on the floor, cross-legged and facing him.
"I want you to concentrate on your breathing, Megan," he said softly. "Take a deep breath, hold it and... let it out slowly."
As Blair's words drifted to her, Megan found that she felt like she was floating inside herself. More instructions came, and she followed the disembodied voice. The world looked a bit blue to her, but she saw herself standing back in the land she'd grown up in. She looked around her.
"Watch out for a creature," came Blair's voice, even though she knew he wasn't there with her. "The first one you see is it."
She was expecting to see an Australian animal, given her mental location, but she was surprised to find something quite different.
"No, Megan. That is your spirit animal. Only yours. I would never have known of the others if Mayfield hadn't interfered. The only reason I know Jim's is because of our connection. If your spirit animal ever comes to me to warn me of something or to ask for help, I will know it's for you. But in the meantime, just keep it to yourself."
Megan knelt down and reached out and petted her animal. It chittered happily before climbing back up a tree.
Megan opened her eyes in astonishment. "Oh God, Sandy, that was incredible. Amazing. Thank you."
"You're welcome, Megs," he replied with a grin. "If you need to contact it ever, just do what we did."
"Got you, yeah. I can do that."
"How are you feeling?" Jim asked.
"Wonderful. At peace."
Jim smiled warmly at her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Welcome to our world, Megan."