Production No. CVT505

written by:
Kelly Meding

edited by:
Eagle Eye, Bonnie

MEET THE CAST

Downtown Cascade, midday

His lungs fought in vain to fill themselves, the pounding in his chest a constant reminder of his fear. Although the only footsteps he heard against the pavement were his own, the teenager was positive he was being followed. A bead of sweat trickled down his slick forehead, leaving a pale track over dirty skin, and dripped into one eye. Angrily, he wiped it away with skinned hands, bits of dirt and blood clinging to his face.

They'll kill me! He'll let them kill me!

The alley came to an abrupt end, opening onto a semi-busy street. He leaned against a brick wall, indecision fueling his hesitation. Imaginary footsteps from behind forced the boy to exit the alley, but fatigue prevented him from running further.

Need to hide. Need to rest. Need

He spotted the perfect place. A hastily folded tent tarpaulin was peeking out of the back of an old Ford pick-up. He glanced around--no one seemed to notice the panting teenager with the bloody hands and torn jeans. Working to catch his breath, he limped over to the truck and climbed inside, pulling the tarp down over him.


The door of Shiani's Tandoori Restaurant swung open, letting two men exit onto the busy sidewalk.

"The place has pretty decent food," the taller man commented as the pair walked down the block. "Of course, after I helped Megan shoot up the place, I didn't think the manager would ever let us back in."

"Yeah," his curly-haired partner said. "The waitresses weren't too bad, either, huh Jim? Guess this thing was a waste on me."

As he spoke, Blair Sandburg pulled an iron medallion from his breast pocket and weighed it in his hand. The object was the size of a silver dollar, twice the thickness and a deep bronze color. The symbols and writing had long ago worn off its smooth surface.

"Sandburg, what in hell is that?" Jim Ellison asked, snatching up the circular object. He was immediately amazed at the weight of the small thing.

"It's an ancient love coin. Legend is it's supposed to make you irresistible to women. An old friend from Rainier gave it to me last week. Thought my love life could use a little work."

Jim smirked. "You did or he did?"

"I think we both did. Not that it's been doing me much good, but you! Man, I thought I'd have to eventually pry you and that waitress apart."

"I don't know what you're talking about, Chief," Jim said blankly.

Blair snorted. "Come on, Jim. You couldn't take your eyes off her. And she was flirting with you so hard a blind man could see it. And you, with your senses, I'd hope..." His cerulean eyes lit up. "That's it!"

Jim realized his partner had stopped walking and turned to face him. "What's it?"

"Your senses," Blair hissed, trotting up to his stationary friend. "It was the pheromones again. She may have been unconsciously aware of it, but you, you were on full sensory alert. It's just like with Laura, only not so intense. Was there a scent this time? Did you--?"

"Hey, Darwin, slow down. What are you talking about?"

"Jim, I wrote that whole chapter on pheramonal effects in my dissertation."

Jim's blank stare turned to one of slight embarrassment. He abruptly continued walking towards his truck.

"Jim?" Sandburg called. "What, don't you remember that part?" When Jim didn't stop, Blair hurried to catch up, realization dawning on him. "Have you read my diss yet?" Blair asked bluntly.

Jim paused by the bed of his truck and shook his head, avoiding his partner's gaze.

"What? What's this?" Blair asked, imitating Jim's head-shake. "Is that a no?"

"Yes, Blair, that's a no. I haven't gotten around to reading it, yet."

Sandburg blanched. "It's been sitting in your room for months, Jim."

"I know and I will read it. I just..." Jim trailed off, his eyes transfixed on the tailgate of the truck.

"What is it?" Blair asked, alerted by his friend's sudden concentration. He knew that look far too well.

"There's a bloody fingerprint on my truck. It's fresh." Jim cocked his head in his standard listening stance. A heartbeat filled his sensitive ears, emanating from the bed of the truck. He caught Blair's eye and pointed to the tarp.

The pair separated, Jim moving to the left side of the Ford, Blair to the right. Jim un- holstered his pistol and aimed it at the tarpaulin. Carefully grasping the end, Blair gave the tarp a firm yank. The blue fabric fell back, uncovering a teenager, clothes torn and dirty, blonde hair matted and disheveled, his brown eyes wide with fright. He shrank away from the men, shielding himself with bloody hands, trying to disappear within the folds of the tent.

"Please don't kill me!" the boy screamed.

Jim lowered his gun and raised a hand in peace. "I'm not going to kill you. What are you doing in my truck?"

The boy visibly relaxed, his eyes darting around as if seeking an escape. "I was hiding."

"No kidding."

"What's your name?" Blair asked in stereo with Jim's, "From whom?"

"Name's David," the boy said, climbing out of the truck. "Look, I'm really sorry--"

"Who're you hiding from, David?" Jim asked again.

David backed away from the two men. "Look, it's nice that you're concerned and all--"

Jim pulled out his badge and motioned for Blair to do the same. "My name is Detective Ellison. This is my partner, Detective Sandburg. If you're in some kind of trouble, we can help."

David paused, torn between fleeing and talking. He glanced down the street. Jim heard David's heart rate spike and followed his gaze, but saw nothing out of the ordinary: afternoon shoppers, a tubesteak stand, stray dogs fighting over a scrap. Finally, David looked each detective in the eye before speaking.

"I'm being followed."

Jim raised an eyebrow. "Uh huh. Who's following you?"

"I...uh, I'm not--I mean..." David faltered.

"Are you on anything, David?"

"Jim!" Blair stepped in front of his partner, frowning up at him.

"I'm not on drugs," David shot back, upset at the implication.

Blair slowly advanced on David, trying to appear friendly. "No one's implying-"

"He is!" David pointed at Jim, who remained silent.

"Well, I'm not," Blair said. "Trust me. I want to help, so why don't you tell me who's after you?"

Again, David glanced up and down the street like an animal that knows it's being watched. "Not here," he insisted.

"We could take him to the station," Jim offered. "Get a formal statement."

"Just can't stay away from work, can you?" Blair teased.

"A cop shop?" David asked, eyes widening in terror.

Blair blinked, then grinned. "Can you think of a safer place if you're being followed?"

After a moment's hesitation, David nodded. "Okay."


Cascade Police Department, same afternoon

The Major Crime bullpen was buzzing with activity--and phone chimes. Telephones were ringing off the hook and it was all the officers and detectives could do to answer them. Henri Brown alternated between Ellison's desk and his own, trying to direct as many calls as possible. He snatched up Ellison's phone as it rang, dropping into the absent detective's chair with a sigh.

"Major Crime...No, ma'am...No we are not Chase Realtors, this is the Cascade Police Department. Hello?"

Brown shook his head as he hung up the receiver. At least half the calls ended with the caller hanging up on him when they realized who they had reached. The other half waited patiently as the situation was explained and they were transferred to the correct number.

Two more phone lines sprang to life.

"Major Crime...Hey, Jim...Phone troubles. I'll fill you in later." Henri listened intently as Jim Ellison gave him a message for Captain Banks. "All right, later."

He switched over to line two. "Major Crime...Hold on a minute."

Henri scanned the bullpen, locating his victim by Rhonda's desk, sorting through a stack of case files. "Rafe! Phone call!"

Handing the receiver off to Rafe, Brown lunged for his own now-ringing phone. In his haste, he tripped over Ellison's wastebasket and landed flat on his stomach.

"Very graceful," a soft, accented voice said. Megan Connor grinned down at him and snatched up the squawking phone. "Detective Brown's desk." She frowned. "Who? This is the Cascade Police-hello? Hello? Bugger hung up," she reported to Brown, who was climbing to his feet.

"Been getting a lot of that lately," Henri quipped, dusting himself off.

"What's going on around here?" Connor indicated the bustling room with a wide sweep of her arm.

"Last night, some disgruntled telephone worker thought it would be amusing to break into the main office of Cascade Bell and rewire the entire mid-town area. Every call made to a number listed from Chestnut to Third and Henning to Archer is coming in here."

"That's at least twelve square blocks!"

"Yup. We've got our people transferring all sorts of calls manually. Unfortunately, CB says it'll be at least two more hours before this mess is straightened out."

"Peachy."

"Look, Connor, can you watch these phones for me? I need to give the captain a message."

"No worries," Connor replied with a grin.

As Henri ambled towards Simon's office, Rafe slammed the phone receiver back into place, swearing under his breath. His handsome face was pale, his mouth twisted down in fury. Henri couldn't remember ever seeing his friend look so upset.

"Rafe, something wrong?"

Brown's concern was greeted by a furious glare and a view of Rafe's posterior as the detective stalked out of the bullpen. Brown shrugged, knocked once on Simon's door and stuck his head in, catching the tail end of a telephone conversation.

"No, this is not Rocky's Gym. If you'll hold on, I'll have you transferred." Simon punched a button on his phone and replaced the receiver with a loud ~clank~. He eyed Henri suspiciously. "Give me good news."

"Phone company said two more hours," Henri said cheerfully.

Simon groaned. "I hope they give the clown that did this the electric chair." When Brown didn't leave, he asked, "Something else?"

Brown shifted uncomfortably. "Ellison and Sandburg are coming in."

"What? What in hell for? Today's their first day off in weeks and I ordered them to stay away from here."

"Jim said they found a kid hiding in the bed of his truck. He was all freaked out, said someone was after him, but wouldn't talk about it on the street."

"Of course not," Simon muttered. "Okay, thanks, Brown."

The detective nodded and plunged back into the chaos that was the bullpen.


"Why didn't you tell us this before?" Jim asked, his temper rising.

David cowered under the tall detective's glare. The chair he was sitting in became extremely uncomfortable and he fidgeted, tapping his fingertips on the edge of Ellison's desk. Sandburg was perched on the corner of the desk, smiling reassuringly at David.

"I was afraid," the teen admitted.

"Is that supposed to be an acceptable answer?" Jim countered.

"No, but it's the only one I got."

Jim zeroed in on the boy's heartbeat. ~tha-dump~ ~tha-dump~ ~tha-dump~

"Did you see anyone's face?" Blair asked.

"No. It was too far away."

~tha-tha-dump~ ~tha-tha-dump~ ~tha-tha-dump~

Jim leaned forward and placed his elbows on the desk, steepling his fingers. "But close enough to see someone shoot someone else."

"Yup."

"Close enough for them to see you."

"I'm not sure if they did or not."

"Really?" Jim said in mock confusion. "Because back on the street, you seemed very sure you were being followed."

"I was scared. I didn't know if they were behind me or not, I just wanted out of there." When there was no response, David got angry. "Look, I saw a guy murdered. Are you gonna believe me or what?"

Jim glanced at Blair and nodded, then turned his attention back to David. "We'll check out the address you gave us. I want you to stay here until we get back."

David nodded.

Jim and Blair stood and filed towards Simon's office, neither man looking forward to the inevitable ramblings on the fact that today was their day off. The captain opened the door before his detectives could knock and ushered them inside. Simon stood at attention in front of his desk, waiting for the pair to settle into the two chairs facing him.

"I thought I told you to take the day off?" Simon demanded, glaring at both men.

"Well, sir," Blair explained. "We didn't exactly plan on finding a murder witness hiding in the truck."

"Murder witness?"

"David Dawson," Jim piped in. "Age seventeen. Says he was walking down the alley between Sphinx and Maple and saw two men shoot another man. He ran, was afraid he was being chased and hid in the truck. Sandburg and I are going to check out that alley now."

"What about the kid? Have you called his parents?"

"Won't give up his phone number. I need to call Social Services and have him checked out, see if he lives in the city or is a runaway."

"All right," Simon said. "We'll have someone get on that once the phone lines are clearer and I'll have someone watch him until his parents are called. You two get to that alley."


Jim's Truck, Downtown

The pattern repeated itself for the umpteenth time in the short drive: Blair staring intently at Jim. Jim looking at Blair. Blair glancing away. The pattern was running close to ten minutes and was annoying as hell for the Sentinel. Determined to find out what was bugging him, Jim asked, "What's wrong?"

Blair shifted in the passenger seat, throwing Jim an agitated glance. "Short memory span today, Jim?"

"Huh?"

"You never answered my question before."

Jim angled the wheel sharply, avoiding a fender-bender with a white Cadillac that had come to a sudden stop. "Jackass," he muttered.

"Excuse me?"

"Not you, Chief. And what question? You must ask a thousand a day."

Blair released a long-suffering sigh. "Why haven't you read my diss?" The older man's jaw clenched, a likely sign that he wasn't going to respond.

"Jim?"

"What was that address again, Chief?" Jim asked, his eyes never wavering from the road.

Blair reported their destination, knowing full well Jim hadn't forgotten it. "You're changing the subject, Jim."

"There it is," Ellison announced, parallel parking near an alley three blocks from where they had found David.

Knowing the discussion was over, but far from forgotten, Blair climbed out of the truck and followed his partner into the alley. They walked past rows of metal trash cans, rotting cardboard boxes, overflowing dumpsters and other unpleasant, unnamable things.

"I'm not seeing a body," Blair said.

"Me either," Jim responded. He stood still, opening his sense of smell. He filtered through rotting vegetables, automotive grease, rat waste and various nasty things. The coppery odor of blood filled his sensitive nostrils--not a lot, but enough to catch his attention. He followed the scent to the side of a rusty dumpster. Kneeling down, Jim could see small splatters of blood on the dark pavement.

"What did you find?" Blair asked, squatting next to Jim.

"Blood. It's pretty fresh, too." Jim scanned the pavement circling his position. Scuff marks and what looked like shoe rubber was scattered nearby. "Some signs of a struggle, too."

"So David was telling the truth."

"Looks like it."

Blair pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open. "I'll call for a Forensics team."

"Good luck getting through," Jim said under his breath.

"Hello?" Blair said into the phone. "This is Blair Sandburg. I need Forensics...Yes, I'll hold." To Jim, he said, "The secretary in Robbery sounds really cute."

Jim rolled his eyes and continued examining the alley.

A gruff voice pulled Blair's attention back to the phone. "Hello...Simon? It's Blair. We need a Forensics team at that address David gave...he what? Damn...All right, thanks."

Blair turned to Jim and frowned. "David's gone."


Back in the truck

"Why would he run?"

Jim sighed at his partner's question, one he'd been asking himself for the last several minutes. "I don't know, Chief, but I have the distinct impression that the kid knows more than he's saying."

"I don't doubt that," Blair muttered, gazing intently out the window. WHAM! Jim slammed on the brakes and Blair lurched forward, one hand grabbing the dashboard, the other grasping the bracing arm Jim threw across his chest. "Jim, what--?" Blair cut himself off when he saw what had his partner's attention.

A familiar face was peering at them through the windshield, still braced as if expecting to be flattened by the truck. Jim's gaze held David's for several moments, until the teen broke the spell and fled. He dodged an oncoming car and sprinted down a side street.

"Hold on," Jim warned, hitting the gas and cutting through traffic to follow the boy.

The street he turned onto was little more than a glorified alley, narrow and littered with garbage cans. Buildings and warehouses loomed upward against the afternoon sky, throwing shadows here and there. Glancing over his shoulder, David saw the truck following him and darted to the left, disappearing from view. The Ford squealed to a stop where David had vanished and the detectives climbed out. To their left, a ground-floor window had been forced open. Jim listened, locating a pounding heartbeat within the building, moving steadily away.

"He's inside," Jim said, peering into the warehouse. He pulled his large frame through the window headfirst, rolled once and landed upright. Blair entered in a similar fashion, his shorter body allowing for a less graceful landing. He picked himself up and peered around the cavernous building.

The sharp scent of new carpet greeted both men. Stacked to the three-story ceiling were shelves of carpet rolls of all colors and patterns, widths and thicknesses. Walkways branched to the left and right, cutting through the rows of floor covering. Jim focused in on the renegade heartbeat again.

"This way."

Jim trotted to the left, his partner's familiar footsteps hot on his heels. They made a right, then another left, losing themselves in the maze of carpeting. A few emergency lights set the gloomy atmosphere, but Jim could see clearly. Up ahead, David stepped into his line of sight. Forgetting the boy probably couldn't see him, he called, "David!"

David jumped and took off running. Jim followed, his agitation with the boy growing with each step.

"David!" Blair yelled. "We're not going to hurt you!"

The partners chased David through a scarred wooden door and into another, smaller room. The ceiling was a story shorter, the shelves piled with plastic barrels and jugs of a yellowish liquid.

Jim sniffed. "Carpet glue."

"Where'd he go?" Blair asked, squinting into the dark room.

Jim peered around, opening up his senses. He picked up on a scraping sound, something akin to plastic on plastic. That was followed by a scuffling noise. Jim looked up in time to see two of the plastic jugs slide off a top shelf just above his head.

"Duck!" Jim shouted, shoving Blair out of the way.

He fell on top of the smaller man, the jugs slamming onto the concrete just inches from their feet. The containers broke on impact. Glue splattered in all directions, covering both men with a sticky, yellow coating. David shimmied down to the ground and took off again, disappearing into the darkness. Jim struggled to sit up, fighting against the adhesive holding him down. It didn't work. Sentinel and Guide were stuck together--literally.

Blair tried to move his left arm and found it attached to Jim's shirtfront. "Can you move?" he asked.

Jim shifted, trying to take some of his weight off his partner. "Barely."

"Think you can reach my phone?"

"Jacket pocket?"

When Blair nodded, Jim inched his hand along his friend's chest, then abdomen, fighting against the glue to reach the cell phone. Blair giggled when Jim's fingers trailed across his ribs.

"Cut it out, man," Blair said. "That tickles!"

"Will you grow up?" Jim responded with an exasperated sigh, resuming his mission to liberate the phone. His fingers searched the fabric of Blair's coat, finally grasping the needed technology.

"Got it!" Jim announced. He began the task of bringing the phone close enough to his face to speak into it.

"Hey, Jim?"

"Yeah?"

Blair glanced down at their immodest position and turned his head to look his Sentinel in the eye. "This is really embarrassing."


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