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Spirited Away

Summary: A follow-up to Between Two Worlds. Cops are disappearing and no one knows where to look.
Usual thanks to the gruesome twosome for betas and encouragement.

The man watched closely from the shadows, holding back to remain unseen. Just like he always did.

He saw the two exhausted detectives as they sat in the coffee shop, taking a break in-between visits. Just about the whole of Major Crime was on the case, as was every spare detective and beat officer on the force.

This one was close to home - too close to home. Two detectives from Homicide had been kidnapped, tortured and killed; their broken bodies unceremoniously dumped outside the Precinct in the small hours of four days previous. The entire force had been up in arms.

Now two from Vice were gone.

Megan and Joel sipped at the hot coffee as they went over the information gleaned that morning. Which seemed to amount to nothing. Nothing unusual had been noticed by either Detective Harold's wife or Detective Masters' boyfriend on the morning of the Vice cops' disappearance. They'd got up, got dressed, eaten, gone to work... Same old, same old.

They were going to see the respective partners of the dead Homicide detectives later on, hoping to jog a memory of maybe someone watching them or something. They knew that it was a hopeless cause though. The devastation felt by the families was total and they could barely remember their own names, let alone details.

Megan suddenly put down her drink and shivered.

"Megan? Are you all right?"

"Yeah," she said slowly. "Just got the feeling that I'm being watched, you know?"

Joel shrugged. He was a straight up kind of guy, not really holding faith with the psychic senses thing that some people did. However, as Blair had shown them, there were more things under Heaven than he could possibly begin to understand, so one thing he didn't do was dismiss anything like that anymore. If Megan was worried, he'd listen.

"Do you want to go?" he asked gently.

"Nah, it's likely the case is getting to me, that's all." She scolded herself for being silly and then carried on with her drink.

The man watched a little longer, then he went back to his den. Not yet, he told himself. Don't be greedy. You still have two toys to play with.

He entered his den, switching the light on and brightly illuminating the cold, damp and pitch-black room. He smiled an evil smile at the two detectives who were tied together and to the chairs on which they were sitting.

"Well then," he grinned as he closed in. "It's play time. Who's going to be on my team first? Eh? No preference?" he taunted. The wide, scared eyes of his victims amused him. They couldn't really answer, what with being gagged and all. He looked at Detective Harold and nodded. "Yes, you'll do for now."

"We have nothing, Chief," Jim complained as they sat back at their desks. They'd been pounding the streets for days, questioning every informant, streetwalker, lowlife and criminal that they knew. Nothing. Jim was also convinced that he hadn't been lied to either, so whoever this was, he wasn't leaving any trails and had no contacts.

"There has got to be some clue, Jim," Blair sighed. "How about you go over the bodies again?"

Jim shook his head. He'd already been over them. He didn't want to see the bruises and cuts and slashes ever again. He'd found some bits and pieces, but they were so generic, like mud, the sort that was found in many of the city's parks and gardens, that they couldn't even begin to pin it down. They could say that if the mud had been picked up by the victims at the scene of the crime, that they were possibly on the west side of the city. That was it. The east side and most of the north and south had similar ground, but there was just enough sand in the sample to make them think that it was westerly, the samples being too small for a more precise analysis of the location. Blood samples had all proved to be the victims' own. The only thing they had that linked them to the killer was a scraping from behind one of the nails of Detective Sorrenson, one of the Homicide detectives. He'd obviously scratched at the killer's skin, given the state of him. However, the DNA typing was taking too long to come through, and even if they got a profile, there was no guarantee that the profile would be on the national database of known criminals. So, as Jim said, they had nothing.

An increase in closed-circuit camera range was being added to the front of the building. Somehow, the killer had managed to stay on the fringes of the security system. No one wanted to admit that they were hoping that he'd dump the bodies of the latest victims there. It wasn't a thought that anyone had consciously, it was just something they knew was a possibility.

Captain Michaels of Vice came in, wondering how the investigation was going. He was scared and angry, desperate to find his people. Seeing Jim and Blair at their desks, he charged over to them, ready to shout at them for not being out on the street. Blair looked up, as did Jim, and Michaels stopped dead. Even through his anger, he was able to see the look of exhaustion on their faces, the sadness that they hadn't got any news for him.

"Captain," Blair said, his voice quiet and low. "What can we do for you?"

He heard how softly Blair spoke and managed a small, sympathetic smile for him. "I was just wondering what was going on. Is there any news?"

Jim shook his head. "I'm sorry. We have questioned every single potential witness, snitch, whatever," he replied. "This guy is hiding out so damned well we can't get a handle on him. We are trying everything we know, and making up more stuff as we go along. We want them back too, you know."

Blair heard Jim's voice start to get defensive and he put his hand on his lover's arm. "Jim, we will find them. Somehow."

Michaels suddenly remembered something. "You were in Vice, weren't you? Before I started there."

Jim nodded. "Sam Harold is a good friend of mine, Captain. He took me under his wing when I was there. Kicked my ass a few times, too. Without his groundwork, I doubt Jack Pendergrast would have been as successful at turning me into a decent cop. So you see, Captain, I want him back."

Michaels nodded, put his hand on Jim's shoulder and said, "I get it. And if I get a bit noisy, well..."

Blair grinned. "We understand, Captain, all too well. Yell at me if it makes you feel any better."

Michaels looked confused so Blair continued. "Don't worry, I won't take offence. I don't pay much attention to Captain Banks when he yells at me, either."

For the first time in a few days, Michaels smiled. "You're okay, Sandburg," he said. "Thanks, kid."

Watching the retreating back of Captain Michaels, Blair said, "That's another one."

"Another what, Chief?"

"Another person around here that thinks I'm a kid. I'm thirty one, Jim."

Jim grinned but said nothing. He just put his hand on Blair's shoulder and squeezed it.

It had been as they feared. Both the bodies had been dumped, but this time in front of the mayor's office. Not only was this sicko a serial killer, he had a twisted sense of humour, posting a note on one of the bodies to say that this would give the mayor some much needed publicity. Jim had viewed the bodies at Simon's request, just as he had done with the others. This time, he found a few fibres, but there was nothing to tell him who the killer was. Nothing.

Blair had forced himself to attend Jim's inspection. He'd scolded himself, reminding himself that he was a cop too, that he had to get used to this. But that didn't really help. After five minutes of desperately trying to hold his lunch down, all the while quietly coaching Jim even though he didn't really need it, Jim had sent him outside. Blair felt like he had let Jim down again.

When Jim finally left the morgue, he'd taken one look at his lover and shaken his head.

"Don't feel bad about not wanting to see that, Blair," he whispered. "None of us want to see it."

"But the rest of you seem to manage much better than me," came the equally quiet reply.

"No, not really. The horror manifests itself in different ways. Some retreat and cry where they think no one will see. Some will go home and get blind drunk."

"You don't."

"I used to. Until you came along."

Blair was shocked by the admission.


"You ground me in more ways than you can imagine, Chief. You help me focus on what's real, what's alive. I know I gave you all that crap about checking your humanity at the door, and you gave it right back to me as you should. Yes, you have to bite down on your horror at a crime scene, I stand by that and always will. These days, you manage to do that without fail. But nobody says you shouldn't care, nobody says you can't hurt when you see this sort of abuse. And nobody says you have to go in there and look at it."

"Wow." Blair sat open-mouthed for a few minutes, wondering who was the guide and shaman. Jim was a much better healer than he thought.

"Come on, let's get our thinking caps on again. Maybe there's someone out there that's lost someone in a police shoot-out or something."

"Try hundreds of people, Jim. If that's the case, it doesn't have to have taken place in Cascade. I keep telling you that there's a damned good case for gun control..."

Jim managed the first small smile that day as he watched his partner's back as it disappeared down the hall, his partner's front lecturing him on the dangers of the public and police being armed, even rattling off statistics of study after study. He indulged him, knowing that this was Blair's way of venting and getting his mind back on track.

Hundreds of case files had been gone through by every available cop and clerk. They were pretty certain that the killer wasn't trying to get at one person in particular, he just had a grudge against the police in general. Hoping that the perp was a Cascade resident, they started on the local cases, most modern first, then going back in time. Nothing was coming up. Captain Michaels was a regular visitor, his anger at losing his people worn on his sleeve. Jim was grieving in his own way for his lost friend and comrade, Blair quietly supporting him, often with only a touch or a sudden appearance of a doughnut and coffee when least expected.

Then the bomb dropped.

"Has anyone heard from Connor and Taggart?" Simon called from his office door. "They were due to check in thirty minutes ago."

Since the first abduction, all police personnel had been required to check in at specified intervals to let their departments know that they were safe and well.

"No, nothing," Blair answered for him and Jim. The same cry came up from the other desks. Simon cursed loudly and picked up the nearest phone, dialling first Connor's cellphone, then Taggart's. There was no answer from the first, but when Simon was about to put the phone down from ringing Joel's number, a voice answered.


"Who is this?"

Simon realised that it wasn't Joel straight away. He hit the speaker on the phone and signalled for silence and for a trace to start. Jim listened in intently.

"This is Captain Banks. Who are you?"

"Ah, Captain. You may call me 'The Harvester'," the man replied, almost giggling as he did. Jim didn't like the tone of his voice, a note of hysteria sat in it.

"What do you mean?"

As the conversation went on, Blair whispered, "Filter out the voice, Jim. Concentrate on the background noise. See if you can locate them."

He was acknowledged with a nod.

As the Harvester went on, recounting what he had done and what he was going to do, Jim listened intently to the background. He waved in a 'pen and paper' way to Blair and found that there was already a pad in front of him and a pen in Blair's hand. He wrote random words as he thought of them. Seabirds. Water. Fog horn? Echo.

By the time the killer had broken the connection, just before the hastily organised trace would have found him, they finally had a lead.

"Not a fog horn," Blair said. "The ferry's horn. You know, when they're going out? Look at the time."

It was five past one. The ferry left every two hours, starting at seven in the morning, and always 'called' a goodbye when it slipped its mooring.

"What's with the echo?" Rafe asked, as he hovered over Jim's shoulder and looking at the pad.

"One of the warehouses, it's got to be," Blair said excitedly. "Simon, we've..."

"What in hell's name are you waiting for?" Simon barked. "Silent approach and hide your cars. Get down there and check out each warehouse as quickly and as unobtrusively as you can. Don't scare him off or we'll never catch him."

Megan and Joel were officially scared shitless. They'd seen the first bodies and knew what was in store for them. Neither could believe how easily they'd been taken. One moment they had been wandering the streets, the next they'd woken up in the back of a van, bound together and gagged. Neither knew how he'd managed it.

For the moment, they were all right. He hadn't decided to 'play' with them yet, but had left them in a large, dark room. They'd tried to undo their bindings but it was no use. At least he'd removed their gags for the time being.

"Don't worry," Joel said, trying to keep his voice calm. "You know they're all looking for us."

Megan wanted to point out that the entire police force had been looking for the other victims, but she wisely said nothing.

Silence fell again, neither knowing just what to say. Then Joel had an idea.

"Megan? Didn't you tell me that you could contact Blair somehow?" He was sceptical about the idea, but at that moment, they had nothing to lose.

"My spirit animal," she whispered, as if talking out loud about it would scare it off. "Yes, you're right. But I need to meditate to contact it."

"Can you try now?"

"Joel, I'm tied up and scared. Normally I'm sitting cross-legged, surrounded by candles and at peace."

Joel sighed. "Please, Megan. Try."

She let out a deep sigh of her own then said, "Okay. But you'll have to keep quiet."

Joel didn't answer, he just let her try. They were tied back to back so he couldn't even watch her face to see if she was making progress. Not that he'd know what it looked like. Not that he could see in the pitch-black of their prison. The detective was frustrated, angered by his inability to get out, arrest the killer and most of all, save his friend. All he could do was wait and pray, so he did. Silently, he sent prayers in his mind, desperately hoping that they would be heard.

Megan was frustrated too. She knew her mental state wasn't conducive to her task, but she needed to do this, if only to stop the killer from striking again. She wanted to protect Joel, too. The gentle man had become one of her favourites over the time she had been there, teasing her kindly, but always treating her with respect. A tear of anger and frustration formed in her eye as she thought of the laughs she'd had with him and the chivalrous manner with which he conducted himself. So unlike some of the others, she thought.

More determined than ever to protect him, she forced herself to ignore her fears and shut her eyes again.

Blair was tapping his foot impatiently as they drove quickly towards the warehouses. There were so many of them there, that it could take an age to find their friends. He loved Megan like a sister and needed to get to her. As for Joel, the older man had been so kind to him, such a good friend, that he couldn't bring himself to think of a world without him.

They arrived in the right area, parked the truck and got out. The other detectives were arriving. In fact, every available unmarked car and plain clothes officer had turned up, parking away from each other and out of sight, hoping to hide from the killer. If they didn't find them soon, a full-scale search with uniformed officers would be instituted, but for now, they wanted to capture the killer, not scare him off.

"See if you can hear them," Blair spoke quietly to Jim. "Filter out the other noises, just listen for theirs. Try to piggyback their scents."

Jim was already doing this, but Blair's voice kept him grounded, helping him to concentrate. It was something that he couldn't explain. He knew how to use his senses carefully. Knew how to prevent himself from zoning. If Blair wasn't with him, he could do the same job. But somehow, having him there made it easier, less of an effort. He tried his hardest and kept thinking that he was coming up with something, but then it would go.

"Are you getting anything, big guy?"

"Not sure," came the vague reply. "It's like they're there, then they aren't. I'm not getting a fix on them."

"So they're close?"

"Close-ish," he answered. "But I'm afraid that it's wishful thinking."

"You mean like a sense memory? You're imposing what you know about them on your mind so you think you're finding them?"

"Could be," Jim shrugged.

"Makes a bit of sense," Blair conceded. He knew that whilst Megan and Jim rubbed each other up the wrong way, they did think the world of each other, and Jim cared deeply for Joel.

"Okay, so now what?"

"I wish I knew. I guess we do what everyone else is doing."

"Which is?"

"Go look."

It had been hours. Every warehouse had been gone through and they were coming up blank. Simon was getting ready to call the search off, but Jim insisted that they were there. Every so often he'd get a feeling that he knew they were in the right area. Simon had tried ringing the cellphones again on a number of occasions, but they had been switched off or were out of range of a transmitter.

The killer was acting true to form. He had abandoned his victims after leaving them in their prison. A day or so without food and water and in the dark tended to make them a bit more fun to play with. It had been twelve hours since he had spoken to Banks. Another twelve hours and he'd go back and have some fun. Unfortunately for the police, they had no way of knowing his MO during the time of captivity for the victims, so they were still assuming that he was there.

"What if he's close to us, but not in a warehouse?" H asked as he strolled up to the gathering detectives.

"What do you mean?"

"How about other buildings? Underground storage or something?"

"We need a utilities map," Simon barked. "Brown, go get one now."

Quick as a flash, he got into his car and drove off. Any idea, no matter what it was, was being followed up. Knowing that the officers present were tired and hungry, Simon called a break and sent some of them off to get food. They sat where they could, all sadly staring around them as if for inspiration. None had had any time off since the first detectives had gone missing over a week before, and few had had more than a couple of hours' sleep in a day. They were exhausted, cranky, wanting their homes, their families, a hot meal... but not one would give up the search. Shift changes had been more or less forgotten, they just stayed on duty. When the takeout arrived, they all ate mechanically, not even tasting the fast food before it was swallowed. Blair didn't even complain about having a burger to eat.

Jim stared out into space for a while, just gathering his thoughts, when suddenly, he had the feeling that something was up. He turned to speak to Blair but discovered that he wasn't anywhere nearby. Swallowing down on the panic that hit him, he focussed on his heartbeat and located him behind a warehouse. He strolled over to it and saw his partner staring out to sea, completely oblivious to his surroundings.

"Blair? Don't know if you heard this but H thinks they may be underground," he said by way of conversation. He got nothing back. Getting closer, he saw that Blair's eyes were open, but unseeing. "Lights are on but nobody's home," he muttered under his breath. He picked up his radio and called, "Simon, you'd better get over here. We're behind the redbrick, the number 47 is on its side."

"Have you found them?" Simon asked quietly, not wanting to raise the hopes of the surrounding detectives for a moment.

"No, but something's up with Blair."

Simon mentally shrugged and made his way to Jim's location.

"What's up with him?" he asked, pointing at the still unmoved Blair.

"I'm not sure. I'm hoping that he's on a spirit journey, or whatever it's called."

"You mean meeting up with that wolf of his?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"How will that help?"

"Connor's got a spirit animal now. Blair said he'd know it when he saw it. Maybe he's gone looking for it?"

"Seeing as we've got no other way to locate them, he may as well try," Simon sighed. He sat on a block of concrete, lit up his ever-present cigar and waited.

Blair was doing just what Jim thought. Inside the blue-tinted world of the spirits, he searched out something that he could connect to Megan. He wasn't really sure of what he was doing, hadn't even been prepared to enter the spirit world, he'd just been staring out to sea when he'd found himself there. Knowing that things like this happened for a reason normally, he wondered if Megan was trying to contact him somehow.

He stopped moving and turned a 360, just looking around him and listening to his surroundings. And there he saw it. A spider monkey. Blair chuckled to himself when he saw it, thinking that it was so 'her'.

"Hey," he called out. "You going to show me where she is?"

The tiny creature sat in front of him for a moment, then chittered to him.

"You'll need to be a bit more specific than that," Blair laughed. "I don't speak monkey."

The monkey moved away from him, looking over its shoulder to make sure that Blair was following him. Needless to say, he was.

In the real world, Blair turned and started walking back to one of the warehouses that had been searched by another team. He wasn't responding to Jim or Simon, just moving. Jim kept watch on his path, making sure he didn't trip and fall.

"Where's he going?" Simon asked.

"I think he's going to find them," came the reply.


Jim just looked at Simon and shrugged. Simon harrumphed and chewed on another, this time unlit, cigar. Jim fought down a snigger as a stray thought of buying Simon a baby's dummy to suck on instead, floated across his mind. At Simon's dangerous glare, he smothered the smile that had escaped.

Blair continued to walk inside the empty warehouse, nearly stumbling on bits of detritus but always being caught by his sentinel in time. He looked like he was following something, but even Jim couldn't see it. This spirit animal wasn't showing itself to him.

Suddenly, Blair stopped and pointed at a case that stood near the back of the warehouse. Simon could barely see Blair's actions in the dark, let alone the direction in which he was pointing. Jim had asked him to not put his flashlight's beam in the direction that they were going as it would distract him. Truth be told, Jim was afraid that he'd zone on the only bright thing he could look at and he couldn't afford to do that. Jim looked at the case and then moved it, looked underneath and saw that there was a hatch in the floor. He knelt down and pulled at it, surprised when it came up easily.

"Simon, put your light down here!" he ordered.

Ignoring the fact that he was being given orders, Simon did as he was told.

They saw a cellar of sorts, cold and damp and very dark. They also saw that the walls and ceiling had been padded out with a soundproofing system, which explained why Jim hadn't been able to locate them by sound.

"Connor? Taggart?" Jim called out.

He got a muffled sound in reply.

Without thinking, Jim virtually threw himself down the ladder and into the room, running directly towards his colleagues. A quick scan of the room with his hearing had told him that there were only two heartbeats in there.

Back up in the warehouse, Blair had come out of his trance.

"Uh, Captain? What am I doing in here?" he asked bewilderedly.

"You just found our people, Sandburg," Simon replied, as much in awe as in gratitude.

Just as his partner had done, Blair flung himself down the steps and ran, his flashlight on, straight to his friends, Simon closely behind him. The big man was calling for some assistance as he descended the steps.

Jim had Megan and Joel untied quickly and whilst he checked out Taggart, Blair swept Megan into his arms and hugged her tightly.

"You showed me the way," he told her. "You did it, Megan."

"Thank God," she whispered, her voice shaking as she spoke.

It was up to Simon to get to the crux of the matter as the friends celebrated being together.

"Connor, Taggart, are you hurt?" he asked. When he got the reply that they were just cold, wet and hungry - not to mention scared, in need of a pee and relieved at being found - he smiled broadly. "Right then, so he just left you here?"

"He said he'd come back," Joel informed him. "I think he was just trying to scare us first. Succeeded, I can tell you," he admitted.

"Not surprising," Blair comforted, helping Megan to stand as Jim helped Joel. "That ordeal would have been enough to scare Superman."

"We'll need to wait for the killer," Jim stated in his blunt manner, totally missing the fact that Megan and Joel shuddered violently at his last word.

"Agreed," said Simon. "But first, let's get you two out of here."

Gratefully, the two cops left on the arms of some of the other police that had come to them.

To keep up the limited presence of people in the area, an ambulance hadn't been called and wouldn't have been unless necessary. It would have been too obvious to the killer if he'd been around. A car was driven to a neighbouring warehouse and in the now dim light of the evening sky, Joel and Megan were spirited into the warehouse and then into the car, being driven away whilst covered over with a blanket to hide their identity.

"We'll wait here," Blair offered.

Jim was about to argue, but he didn't, knowing that he'd feel lousy if he wasn't there for the 'kill'. Simon agreed and left the cellar, getting ready to organise a stake-out up on the surface. Blair shuddered when the hatch dropped. Before Simon left, they'd discovered the light switch, but the decision had been made to remove the bulb so that when the killer came back, he'd be quite literally in the dark, unless he had a torch, of course.

"I'm glad we had something to eat, Chief," Jim said as the darkness descended. "It could be a long night."

"Long and cold," Blair sniffed. "You'd have thought that Simon would have dropped a blanket down here, wouldn't you?"

At his words, the hatch opened and a thud was heard. "Thought you'd like this," came the familiar chuckle. "It's all I could scare up so quickly." Then the hatch shut again and the case on top was replaced.

Given that they had no idea when the killer would return, they had to act as if he'd be there in a short while and so any more activity up on the surface had to be ended. Blair let Jim head to the package, unwilling to stumble in the darkness. They agreed that he wouldn't switch the flashlight on unless necessary, just in case there was a crack of light shining through into the warehouse. That would have tipped the killer off.

"We have a blanket, two water bottles, a packet of potato chips and a Granola bar, Chief."

"That'll do nicely," Blair answered. "Let's sit on the chairs together, maybe we should move them to the wall near the steps?"

"Just to the side of it, so he won't see us when he opens the hatch," Jim answered.

Carefully, they moved the chairs and placed them against that wall, next to each other. Blair bagged the bar and Jim the chips, and they placed a water bottle on each side of them. Then they sat and covered themselves with the blanket.

They were there for hours. Blair started shivering, so Jim wrapped him in his arms, enjoying the heat from his lover as much as Blair appreciated his. They whispered together, talking to keep each other awake. Jim suggested that Blair take a nap but that was met with refusal. He wanted to be as aware as Jim would be when the killer came. They talked of everything and nothing, compared Jags results against teams past and present, made up a dream team from past and present players. They described the perfect holiday for themselves and came up with the ideal scenario for them both; somewhere peaceful (for Jim), with a beach (for Blair), plenty of dry, warm (but not too hot) sunshine, good food, good beer - and a comfortable, large bed with crisp, but soft, white cotton sheets (for them both). The bed would be a four poster, with a muslin drape to keep unwanted bugs away and a headboard with bars in it to use for a bit of night-time (or daytime) tying up fun. Again - for them both.

"Morning has broken, Blair," Jim whispered at one point, hearing the dawn chorus of seabirds. At one point in the night he'd ripped away some of the padding in the ceiling as quietly as he could so that he could hear the outside world. Just a strip had been necessary, but now he didn't feel as isolated.

"Wonderful," Blair yawned, "just don't sing it, okay?"

Jim chuckled as he promised he wouldn't. Then he froze.

"Company, Chief," he said.

Blair hid in the far corner, as per Jim's instructions. Jim hid underneath the steps. Both men had their guns drawn and primed.

The hatch opened and they heard steps coming down. A noise like a switch being flicked and a curse being uttered was followed by the sound of a flashlight being switched on. Blair nearly gasped out loud when he made out the fact that it was facing towards Jim. The man was coming down the stairs backwards.

It took the killer a moment, but he realised that he hadn't got the company that he was expecting. He saw Jim and aimed the light right in his eyes, blinding the sentinel as he'd had his sight turned up almost to the max.

"What have we here?" came the chilling voice. "You've taken my toys, haven't you? Well then, that just means you'll have to take their place. Are you alone?"

Blair stood stock still. He didn't dare give his position away.

"Come out of there," came the order. "Drop your gun. You can see that I have one already pointed at you."

Sighing, Jim did as ordered and started to make his way from under the ladder.

//Jim, I'm okay, I'm going to do something in a minute. When you get the signal, drop to the floor.//

Blair whispered the words so quietly, he didn't hear them himself.

"All right, all right, I get the message," Jim said, ostensibly to the killer, but really to his partner. Blair smiled and let loose an internal sigh of relief.

As quietly as he could, Blair crept along the side of the cellar and towards the killer. All the time, the killer's back was turned towards Blair.

Jim was out in the middle of the cellar in moments, his hands up in the air.

"What division are you from?" the killer prompted.

"Major Crime. I came to get my friends," Jim replied, his voice cold and angry.

"Good, good, that will go some way to making restitution for taking my toys from me."

The man reached around for his bag which was slung over his shoulder. Blair could barely see what was going on, but he heard what sounded like a knife being drawn out of a sheath. As near silently as he could manage it, he crept up to the killer, quietly grateful that the man hadn't heard him. The blade suddenly glistened in the beam of the flashlight and Blair gasped - it was huge!

The noise was enough to alert the killer that there was someone else there. He spun around, his knife slicing through the air and aiming for Blair's head. Jim heard Blair's gasp and, taking it as his cue, he dropped to the floor, deliberately crashing into the man's legs as he did and knocking him off balance. Blair stumbled backwards, desperately trying to get away from the sharp edge of the blade.

Chaos reigned for a few moments as the killer waved his arm around, slashing and thrashing out, trying to keep the two cops from taking his blade from him. Blair was still on his feet whilst Jim and the killer rolled around the floor. Cursing himself for not being able to see in the dark, Blair tried to join in the melee all the while avoiding the deadly steel.

His chance came when the edge of the torch's beam showed that Jim was holding the man down, but the killer's right hand, the one in which he held the machete, was exposed. Without thinking, Blair dived onto the arm as it started to raise, the killer obviously intent on hacking at Jim to get him off of him.

Blair held on hard, not letting the man so much as twitch. Jim drew back, then let loose with a disabling right hook which knocked the man out cold.

Panting hard, they rolled off him, Jim getting his cuffs out and roughly turning the man onto his stomach, he secured his hands behind his back.

"You okay, Jim?" Blair asked, his voice hitching as he did.

"Yeah, bit bruised but I'll live," came the wry reply. "You? I smell blood." The realisation came late to Jim, caught up as he had been on the fight.

"I got a bit of a cut," Blair admitted. "Let's get this prick out of here, shall we?"

Jim ran to the steps and opened the hatch, calling out on his radio as he did. The warehouse was soon flooded with cops, angry with the killer and grateful that he'd been finally caught.

When the other cops came down the stairs, Jim was able to turn his full attention to his partner.

"Blair? Buddy?" His voice took on a panicked note when he realised that Blair's breathing was suddenly a bit ragged.

"Here, Jim," came the quiet reply. "I think the adrenaline just wore off."

That was followed by a thump as Blair collapsed. Dialling up his sight, Jim was horrified to see a large stripe of blood pooling through Blair's sweater. He dived next to his partner and pulled up the clothes, seeing a large gash across his stomach.

"GET A MEDIC NOW!" he screamed, pulling off his own shirt and tying it tightly around the cut.

"What happened?" Simon demanded as he pushed his way through to Blair's side.

"He must have been cut when he dived on the guy's arm," Jim said, his voice shaking as he spoke.

"He'll be okay, Ellison," Simon growled. "I can make that an order, if you like."

The room was now full of flashlights and Simon saw the pained look on Jim's face as he stared at his captain. "Since when does he listen to them?"

"He listens more often than you do," Simon grumped.

An ambulance arrived and before Jim knew what was going on, Blair was carted away. Numbly, he stood and followed.

"Oh man, I hate hospitals," came the moan from the bed.

"Better here than the morgue," Jim stated calmly, though really he was shaking with both fear and relief.

"Yeah, I hate dead bodies," Blair replied. "Don't really want to end up surrounded by them. So, it wasn't a dream and we got him?"

"We got him. Am I going to have to give you the lecture that diving on a blade is a 'bad thing'?" Jim said sternly, though his eyes looked at Blair with love.

"Uh, no. Not unless I get to give you the lecture on wrestling with a guy with a machete," Blair answered.

"Okay," Jim shrugged, not really wanting to get into that anyway. Instead, he leaned in close and kissed Blair on the lips.

There was a knock on the door and Simon came in, a grimace on his face when he realised that the men weren't discussing the price of melons.

"Sandburg, you okay?"

"Sure, Cap," Blair replied with a smile. "Give me a day and I'll be ready to tackle the paperwork." He tried to sit up but was pushed down firmly by his partner.

"What's the news, Simon?" Jim asked, looking back down at Blair with a glare that warned him to keep still.

"We've ID'd the killer," Simon said carefully. "Lucas Kellet."

Jim's head jerked up at that.

"What?" Blair asked. "You know that guy?"

"Oh yeah," Jim replied. "Know of him anyway. Was a cop until his sadistic streak was found out. He used to literally torture his suspects to confess. He'd do it before they got to the station, they'd be badly beaten but he always had an excuse for it, like he'd been in a fight to capture them. They were so terrified of him that they'd confess to anything. Fortunately, his reign of terror only lasted a few months before he was caught on CCTV. We had to reopen all of his cases and found that a number of innocents had been jailed as a result."

"I remember something in the news," he said. "Wasn't he jailed?"

"Yeah," Simon snorted. "Got released a couple of weeks ago. Seems he was pissed with the cops that investigated him and wanted revenge. Figured that taking a couple from each division would be 'recompense'." He shook his head in disbelief, even though he knew the facts of the case. Knowing and understanding were two different animals.

"He won't be getting out again," Jim said with satisfaction. "He's a cop killer, so the DA will go for a death penalty. Might get it, too, if they think he's sane enough."

After an initial disbelieving snort regarding the sanity of the man, an awkard silence fell in the room. Much as Blair understood the law, and he wanted the killer to be punished, he hated the death penalty with a vengeance. The others weren't as adamant in their views, but it was a case of agreeing to disagree on the subject. Blair also knew to keep his mouth shut on this. If he started to spout out about the immorality of state sponsored killings, he could make a lot of enemies at the station. This in turn could hurt Jim. He also knew that his own opinion wouldn't hold any weight with the court, so he resigned himself to an awkward silence.

A few days later, Blair was at home and lying on the sofa. The injury hadn't been as bad as had been thought at first, but he was very sore and would have a scar. Jim had taken him home as soon as he was allowed and had taken good care of him since, though he'd returned to work that day. But he hadn't wanted to leave until he'd done something special. So he'd laid Blair out on his back that morning and gently kissed his way around Blair's body, finishing by taking him in his mouth and melting Blair's brain. He'd been left with a dorky grin on his face as Jim blew him a kiss when disappearing out the door.

He'd had a stream of visitors since he'd come home, Megan and Joel being the first, desperate to check up on him. He was reassured to see that they had recovered - at least physically. He knew from personal experience with Lash that they'd have nightmares for a long time to come. Digging into his own knowledge, he quietly counselled the two cops, telling them that it was okay to take their time to recover from their ordeals, that it wouldn't be a sign of weakness. They'd left feeling a lot better than when they'd arrived.

The key turned in the door and Blair reached for the remote and turned off the TV that he wasn't really watching. Jim came in, another man behind him.

"Captain Michaels, good to see you," Blair called out as he saw the head of the Vice department enter the loft.

"Sandburg. How are you doing?"

"Much better, thanks," Blair replied with a curious smile.

"Good, good." Michaels fumbled about with his car keys as if unsure of his presence there. "I just wanted to come and see for myself that you were okay. And, er, to thank you."

"Thank me, Sir?"

"Yeah. You and Ellison. I know you did your best to find the others, but I'm glad that you got that bastard before he hurt your guys."

Blair shrugged. "I'd give anything to have found them," he said quietly. "If we hadn't had that phone call, we'd never have found the location."

Knowing the story behind the discovery, Michaels nodded. "Tell me one thing though," he said, his voice questioning. "You lot had been searching out the area for hours. Just how did you find the cellar in the end?"

With a small grin and a coy shrug, Blair just said, "You'd never believe me if I told you."

"Try me."

Smiling more broadly now, Blair said, "The spirits moved me."