An hour later, Major Crimes
"ELLISON! SANDBURG! My office, NOW!"
Jim and Blair exchanged glances. "What now?" Blair asked, eyes wide.
"You got me," Jim shrugged. They stood up in unison, then bravely walked into their fuming captain's office.
Blair closed the door behind him. "Yes, sir?"
"Sit." Simon Banks waited until they were in front of him, then waved a folder. "What's this about fingerprints off of a video tape? Which case is this?"
Jim and Blair glanced at each other. "Actually, sir," Jim began as he sat up straight, unconsciously fallen into his 'military mode'. "That is a case I'm working on for my brother."
"Brother?" Simon questioned. "Steven?"
"He's being stalked, Simon," Blair jumped in, wanting to put their leader in a sympathetic mode. "He doesn't know who she is, and she's escalating."
"For Steven to even come to me means he's nervous," Jim added. "And after reading those letters, I don't blame him."
It worked. Simon frowned worriedly, remembering the soft-spoken young businessman. "Where are these letters? And what's a video tape have to do with it?"
Blair jumped up to get the letters as Jim explained, "It arrived at his office this morning. We're hoping to get some finger prints or some kind of a lead, so we can at least identify this woman."
Simon glanced at the report. "There are a couple of partials, but we'll need someone to compare them to, or we're just shooting in the dark."
"I know, sir," Jim replied. "But it might help later when we need hard evidence pinning her to the crime."
Blair returned, carrying both folders and a video. "Serena just returned the tape." He handed the folders over to Simon. "May I pop it in?"
Simon nodded as he began to read.
Blair turned on the TV and VCR, slipped the tape in, then punched play. An image of a building burst onto the screen. "Ah, Jim..."
"That's Steven's apartment building," Jim confirmed.
They watched as Steven pulled into his designated spot, parked his BMW, and climb out. "Jim, isn't that what Steven was wearing last night?"
"You're right, Chief." Jim continued to focus on the image as it followed his brother up the sidewalk and into his building. The screen briefly went black before showing a large piece of paper with the words, "Where did you go last night?" written in a shaky scrawl.
"God, Jim." Blair's eyes were wide with worry. "She really is trying to keep close tabs on him."
Simon cleared his throat. "Okay, you two. I won't assign you new cases this week. Just finish up your current ones, and concentrate on catching this pervert."
"Thanks, Simon," Jim replied gratefully as they stood up.
Tuesday afternoon, Burbank Complex
"It's not our problem some fancy businessman is having trouble with a girlfriend." The pale, flabby man who was head of security shrugged. "We have more important things to do."
"More important than the safety of the people in this building?" Jim growled menacingly.
"Jim," Blair hissed under his breath, knowing his sentinel could hear it.
The head man, apparently not realizing the danger he was in, waved Jim off. "We have to keep this whole building secure. Which is too big a job to be chasing after some poor, heartsick woman."
This time, Blair grabbed Jim's arm before he could lunge. "This isn't doing any good. Let's get out of here."
Jim gave the man his deadliest, feral glare. In a voice cold enough to freeze nitrogen, he stated, "I'll leave with this warning: If anything happens to my brother in this building, your ass is mine."
Blair shook his head as they left the security office. "Oh, that's a good way to win them over."
"I don't care if I win them over. I just want the airbag to protect Steven."
Blair sighed. "Maybe he's more competent than he sounds."
"I doubt it." Jim glanced around the bank of computers. "Now, which tower is this 'Community Lights Foundation' in?"
Blair quickly consulted his notebook. "Southeast. Are you ready to talk with them?" Having watched the sentinel grow tenser and angrier as the day worn on, Blair wasn't sure how much Jim would take without exploding.
"Yeah." Jim rubbed his face a moment. "This is the one I really want to talk to."
Blair nodded as he followed his partner into the elevator. "Yeah, considering how much info Steven would have given for the background check."
"Plus they're in the same building," Jim pointed out. "In spite of the airbag's whining, once you're past the front lobby, security isn't that tight. Anyone from any of the towers could take an elevator to the second floor, walk across to another elevator, and ride up into another tower without question."
"Especially if they are charity employees," Blair replied thoughtfully.
Getting off on the ninth floor, the partners followed the signs to the Foundation's office. Stepping through the door, they were faced immediately with the receptionist's desk in the cramped office. In direct contrast to Steven's petite Goth secretary, the Foundation's secretary was a tanned body-builder. Dressed in a casual short sleeve, baby blue blouse and dark blue slacks, the blonde woman ruled her desk. Blair briefly wondered how fast she could break him in two, though the way she was checking Jim and him out, he didn't think 'hurting' them was what she had in mind. "May I help you?"
"I'm Detective Ellison and my partner, Detective Sandburg. May we speak with your boss?"
Her eyes widened. "Is Betty in trouble?"
"No, ma'am," Blair assured her politely, giving her one of his best smiles. "We just have a few questions for her." He quietly studied the office filled with boxes and filing cabinets. Next to him, Jim suddenly sneezed hard. Blair handed Jim a kleenex as he noted the dust clinging to the nearby boxes.
The woman turned. "Terry, could you take these men back to Ms. Lesley?"
It startled Blair for a moment when a short-haired figure in a dark blue sweatshirt and jeans stood up from among the boxes. "Yes, Ms. Lundy." Dark eyes studied them a moment before waving them to follow. Blair was glad for a guide, considering the winding path through the boxes to the back office.
Terry knocked on the door before opening it. "Ms. Lesley, there's some cops here to see you."
A petite, nervous woman glanced up. "For the policeman's ball? Heavens, that's not for at least another five months!"
"No, ma'am," Blair replied respectfully. "We'd like to talk with you about the bachelor's auction."
"Really?" Ms. Lesley turned around and gazed at them speculatively. "Did Commissioner Mathews finally agree to send me some bachelors?"
Blair's eyes grew wide as Jim smoothly interjected, "No, ma'am. My brother's one of the bachelors to be auctioned off--"
"And he convinced you to join up?" she interrupted eagerly.
Blair smothered a snicker as Jim's cool nearly broke. "No! Actually, we'd like to discuss your procedures for the auction."
The woman frowned. "Whatever for?"
"My brother, Steven Ellison with Griffin Enterprises, has been bothered by someone sending him strange letters. We're trying to track down how information about his life was given to the letter writer."
"Another one?" Then Ms. Lesley looked up. "Terry, that will be all. Continue working on that flyer for me."
Once the silent employee had reluctantly left, Blair carefully prodded, "Another one?"
Ms. Lesley waved a hand. "Apparently there are a lot of psychos in this town."
"Well, just in case we're talking about the same psycho, could you please give us the names of any one else who's had letters?"
"And scare off my bachelors?" She flipped several of her dark braids over her shoulder. "I should say not!"
Noting the flash of anger in his partner's face, Blair quickly replied, "If you still want Steven Ellison in this charity function, you need to cooperate with us." That seemed to cool the woman down a bit. "Steven said that you collected information to do a background check?"
"Of course," Ms. Lesley answered, still perturbed. "After that 'Marry a Millionaire' scandal, we've been extra careful about who we allow in the show.
"Who has access to the background check information?" Jim asked.
"Myself. My staff: Joanne Lundy, Suzie Craig, and Terry Hudson. And the nice police officer who does the checks for us. Commissioner Mathews set it up."
"May I have the name of the officer?" Blair requested. After a haughty glare, Blair explained, "Just so we can make sure no one at his end gave the information to anyone."
"All right. But if ANY ONE of my bachelors drops out at this late date due to you, I WILL call the Police Commissioner. I'm friends with the mayor and his wife, you know."
"Yes, ma'am," Jim replied through gritted teeth as Blair flipped over a clean sheet of paper.
Tuesday evening, Steven's office
"Have you found those files yet?"
Lily pulled her head out of a filing cabinet. "I finally found the hard copy, but I can't find the electronic one."
Steven closed his eyes a moment, forcing his weary mind to work. "Okay, that was the week Mrs. Brennon was here, and I seem to remember her accidentally deleting a whole directory."
"A WHOLE directory?" Lily repeated, eyes wide. "Couldn't she recover it?"
Steven shook his head. "That woman destroyed everything she touched."
"Well, I can look through the backups."
"Never mind. Give me the hard copy, and I'll type in the section I need at home tonight."
Lily walked over to her desk and picked up a diskette. "Here's all the updated info on the Parkstreet Station renovations and the Turner project. I can make up pie charts and bar graphs once I know what you need."
Steven gave her a weary smile as he took the disk and the folder from her. "Thanks. I should have that pulled together tonight."
Steven and Lily looked up to spot Blair and Jim entering the office. "You about ready to go home?" Jim asked.
Steven's brow wrinkled in puzzlement. "Why?"
"Because it's nearly seven, and I thought I'd ride home with my brother," Jim quietly told him.
"This have something to do with the video tape?" Steven asked, his gut tightening. He had been too busy during the day to call Jim about it.
"Yeah, we'll discuss it once we get to your place." Jim could see the strain increase across Steven's shoulders.
To break the tension, Blair glanced at the stacks of folders on Lily's desk. "What's up?"
Steven ran a hand through his hair. "The heads of the company are flying in from Europe on Thursday, and everyone has to present status reports on the various projects."
"Ouch," Blair winced. "That doesn't give you much notice."
"Can't be helped," Steven replied with a shrug.
"Are you about ready?" Jim asked. Steven had deep circles under his eyes. His older brother's concern rose another notch.
"What about your truck?" Steven asked.
"We came over in my car." Blair gave his partner a smirk. "Since Jim does strange things in the passenger seat because he isn't allowed to drive my car, it'd probably be better if he rides with you."
Lily glanced at Blair. "Why can't he drive your car?"
Giving her one of his charming smiles, Blair suggested, "Why don't I walk you to your car, and I'll tell you about it on the way."
Returning the smile, Lily grabbed a couple of folders and her purse. Yanking her cape off the coat rack, she replied, "Sounds like a deal."
Steven lifted an eyebrow at Jim. "You aren't allow to drive Blair's car?"
Jim gave his imitation of a stone wall. "Sandburg holds grudges."
"Grudges for what?" Steven walked back into his office, picking his briefcase up from the floor.
"I was driving his last car when it blew up."
Pausing after tossing a couple of diskettes into his briefcase, Steven stared at his brother. "You blew the engine? Driving it in a chase, I'd bet."
Jim stared at the ceiling. "Actually, the perp had a rocket launcher."
Steven snorted, struggling to contain his laughter at the image Jim just provided. "You mean, the car LITERALLY blew up?" Jim's shrug was enough to send Steven laughing. "No wonder Blair won't let you drive his new car." Steven led his brother through the office to the elevators.
"Wasn't MY fault," Jim retorted. "It could have just as easily have been Blair driving."
"So you do strange things in the passenger's seat to get back at him?"
Jim finally smiled. "Actually, he was refering to the test drive..."
The wild story Jim weaved about the Cobra's test drive had Steven chuckling the rest of the way to the underground garage. Then suddenly he stopped and stared, all the good humor flowing out of his body. His nicely detailed car was now a mess. Someone had written, 'Why is your brother after me?" in soap across the hood of his BMW. The rest of the car was covered in X's and O's, while the two tires Steven could see were flat. For a moment, he felt like he might become physically ill.
Then a warm hand squeezed his shoulder. Faintly, Steven heard Jim talk softly over his cell phone as his comforting hand continued to rub the tense muscles. Then the same soft voice spoke directly to him. "We'll get her."
"Yeah," Steven replied slowly, his eyes never leaving the car. "But will I still have a life by then?"
Wednesday afternoon, Major Crimes
Leaning on his elbows, Jim rubbed his face wearily. A soft voice asked, "You doing okay, Jim?"
Jim managed a slight twist on his lips to reassure his partner. "Just tired. Any luck with the background check on Jamison?"
"While the nicest thing anyone has called her is 'witch', her record is clean so far. Still waiting on some information, though." Blair lifted an eyebrow. "How about you?"
"Turns out it was one of your old academy friends, Johnson, who did the background checks on the bachelors. He's a lot more helpful than Ms. Lesley. We found three more reports of 'volunteers' who received weird letters after signing up. I've contacted them all. Two of them only received a couple letters a few months ago, and one received three letters about six to eight weeks ago. However, none have received one in the last four weeks."
"It fits," Blair nodded. "Erotomanics will often inexplicably switch love objects. The guy who killed Rebecca Schaeffer actually stalked singers Debbie Gibson and Tiffany for a while. However, it sounds like this one has focused on Steven, so she's leaving the others alone."
"Lucky them," Jim replied.
"How's Steven holding up?" Blair asked.
"At the moment, it's a toss up on what's scaring him more: the stalker or the presentation for the company big wigs tomorrow."
"Just what he needs," Blair replied with a shake of his head. "He's got to learn a way to relieve stress, or he's going to have a heart attack before you do."
"Hey, Ellison!" Henri Brown approached with his bright smile. "Got your mail." He dropped the envelopes onto Jim's desk.
"Thanks, H." Jim began sorting through the stack. "Steven was working out in the gym regularly, but hurt his shoulder last week."
"Yeah, I noticed he was trying to loosen it up during dinner the other day. Has he tried--"
"What the..." Jim interrupted, pulling a letter out of the pile.
"Isn't that the same color stationary--" Blair began.
"That Steven's stalker is using." Jim pulled out a drawer, his right hand searching before Blair helpfully yanked out a pair of gloves for him. Taking the gloves, Jim suddenly stopped. He leaned over the envelope, sniffing.
"What is it?" Blair asked softly, glancing around to make sure no one was watching them.
"A faint musk fragrance. It was on the other letters Steven's received. Smells familiar, but I can't place it." Shoving the mystery to the side for the moment, Jim swiftly slipped the glove onto his hand, then gingerly felt for anything suspicious. Sensing only a folded piece of paper inside, he opened the envelope and pulled out the letter. With Blair leaning over his shoulder, Jim unfolded it and read:
"Great," Blair muttered darkly. "There's the first threat, and it's against you."
"Too bad she picked the wrong person to threaten," Jim growled, anger glowing in his eyes. "She'll get to Steven over my dead body."
Blair ran a hand through his hair nervously. "Yeah, well, that's what I'm afraid of."
Wednesday evening, Steven's office
Steven leaned back from the computer, rubbing his eyes with one hand while holding his cell phone to his ear with the other. "Yeah, Jim, I know it's nearly nine... Maybe another half hour... No, she had that concert tonight... Well, she did volunteer, but I had already told her she could go. Not her fault this got dumped on me... Maybe, but she's really worked hard for me this week... Yeah, I kinda wish I'd gone to more concerts when I was her age, too... I could take a taxi home, you know... Okay, I'll be ready to leave then... See you, bro." Steven folded up the phone and sighed. Moving the mouse, he set the next color slide to print. He stood up and stretched, wincing at the pull of his sore shoulder. It seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Probably stress. Trying to hold back a yawn, Steven walked out of the office and down the hall to the group's only color printer.
Once he was gone, a shadow fell along the wall of Lily's area. Hands in black gloves popped open the lid of the coffee pot, pouring a liquid in with the freshly made drink. After swirling the contents around, the hands replaced the pot and the shadow disappeared.
Steven returned, sorting through the slides in his hand. Setting them down on the open folder on Lily's desk, he noticed that the coffee was finally done. His mind still three quarters on how to set up his last slide, he picked up his mug and walked over to the maker. After pouring a cup and taking a drink, Steven jerked back as he wrinkled his nose. "Yuck," he muttered as he picked up the sugar dispenser. "I thought I did it right." He poured in a generous amount and stirred it. Taking another experimental sip, he grimaced in disgust. "Guess I did something wrong." He walked back into his office, mind already back on his presentation.
Twenty minutes later
"...think he'd go for some Chinese?" Blair's voice drifted down the hallway as the elevator door opened.
"I hope so, Chief. I'm starved." Suddenly, Jim paused in the hallway, head tilted.
"Don't... Don't touch me."
"Steven!" Jim was instantly flying down the hall, Blair quickly recovering to follow him. Before they had reached Griffin Enterprises main desk, both spotted someone in the shadows dashing out of the hall leading from Steven's office. The same fragrance from the letter tickled the sentinel's nose. "Freeze! Cascade PD!" The person simply disappeared around the corner.
"I've got it!" Blair shouted, waving Jim towards his brother while he chased the shadow. Dashing down two dim halls, Blair barely kept the shadow in view, only catching a glimpse here and there. At one point, the shadow shoved a rolling table with folders in front of him. He barely managed to dodge the cart on wheels without falling on his face. When he finally thought he was gaining, the chase was cut short when a tall body suddenly stepped into his path. Blair and the other man collided, sending plastic viewgraphs flying in all directions.
"You should watch what you're doing!" the man yelled. "Now I'm going to have to do these slides again! I could have you fired for this!"
"Good luck," Blair muttered as he jumped to his feet. He raced down to the end of the hall. Though he could clearly see in three directions, there was no movement. Heart in his mouth, Blair chose one and carefully crept down it, checking the doors and entryways, wondering what was going on with Jim and Steven.
Fear adding speed to his steps, Jim raced to his brother's office. "Steven?" he called out as he paused by Lily's desk. Moans and rustlings drew him into Steven's main office. "Steven? Answer me." He paused a moment in the doorway, shocked to see Steven sitting on the floor in a corner, pulling at his blue shirt. The sentinel immediately noted the dazed look and dilated pupils. Ah Steven, what has she done to you? "Stevie?"
Blinking slowly, his younger brother attempted to work loose the buttons on his shirt. "It scratches, Jimmy," the shaky voice announced.
Jim eased himself down to his brother's level, kneeling on the floor a foot from him. "What scratches?"
"The shirt. And, and the room's cold, and so dry it's pricking my skin, and it's spinning around, around, around..."
Jim's stomach clenched. Steven's voice was higher than normal, almost like he was drunk or high. Knowing his brother hated drugs and had been concentrating on his presentation, Jim was certain he hadn't had anything stronger than coffee. At least, nothing he'd know about. Could he have been slipped something? His experience in covert ops and PD told him yes, especially considering the shadow creeping out of the office. "Steven, do you remember someone being here?"
"Don't touch me," Steven yelped as he flinched, jerking away from his brother. He began to tremble, staring out into space. "Hurts to touch. And, and my shoulder, like it's on fire, it hurts so deep. And everything's spinnninngggg. My head, my eyes, my tummy..."
Spotting the subtle change on Steven's face, Jim just barely grabbed the trash can in time. As Steven emptied his stomach into the container, Jim swiftly reviewed his options. One stood out in the forefront he had to get Steven to a hospital as quick as possible, in case he got too much of whatever it was that he was slipped. Absently, he yanked off his own leather jacket and draped it over his brother's trembling shoulders as Steven finally sat up.
The jacket immediately caught Steven's attention. "Soft." His fingers lightly ran over the material. "Ripples turning and curving... Warm and fuzzy. Jimmy, I'm going to be sick again." As the slim body was again wracked with dry heaves, Jim wrinkled his nose as he reviewed the can's new contents. Wasn't much more than coffee in there. Figures, since Steven had been too stressed to eat much the previous night. Jim briefly wondered if the younger man had eaten anything the whole day. Certainly wouldn't help matters, especially if this was something he had ingested.
Blair slid through the doorway. "Sorry, Jim. I ran into somebody, literally, and lost her." He noticed the pair on the floor. "Jim?"
"Never mind." Jim waved him off, still concentrating on Steven. "Call an ambulance, tell 'em to meet us downstairs. We've a victim given an unknown substance. Then help me with Steven."
Steven flinched back from their hands, throwing his arms at them. "Don't touch me! Hurts!" Perplexed, Blair's brow puckered. He suddenly realized he had pieces of a puzzle in his hands, he just didn't know what to do with them. Deciding to figure it out later, he flipped open his cell phone.
"Steven, look at me." Jim finally caught his brother's eye. "Concentrate on me. We need to get you out of here. We won't hurt you."
"Jim?" Steven stared straight into Jim's eyes, tremors still shaking his body. Seeing the muscles contract and relax, Jim wasn't sure if Steven was chilled or about to seizure. "Warm?"
"I'm right here, and I'll get you warm. I need to get you downstairs, okay? Can you ease your arm over my shoulder?"
Talking carefully, calming Steven with his voice, Jim managed to help his brother onto shaky feet. Mindful of his precious burden, Jim followed Blair down the hall to the elevator.
Two hours later
Simon and Blair found Jim pacing one of the hospital's small waiting rooms. The grim look on his face did nothing to alleviate Blair's fears. "Jim?"
Jim glanced up. "Find anything?"
"Not yet," Blair replied worriedly.
"Forensics is going over Steven's office right now," Simon assured him. "At Sandburg's request, the contents of the coffee pot and Steven's mug are on their way to be analyzed immediately."
Jim gave Blair a weak smile. "Thanks, Chief."
"I also sent Connor to track down Ms. Lancin," Simon added. "We thought that maybe she might be able to shed some light on what's going on."
"Any word on Steven?" Blair asked anxiously.
"They're waiting on the toxicology reports." Jim struggled a moment to hold on to his control. "It's been rough. The tremors kept getting worse. He'd suddenly fight against the medics and hospital personnel, especially when they tried to put in the IV. I was about the only one who could calm him down. His body temperature keeps dropping. I think one of the nurses said it was 96.2 at one point." Then Jim stared at the ceiling, fighting his emotions. "He stopped breathing once. They got him going again right away, but his breathing's still pretty depressed."
Simon squeezed Jim's shoulder, realizing the incident had been too close to what had happened with Blair during his Golden OD. It must have scared his friend to the depths of his soul. "But he's still fighting, Jim. That's a good sign."
"But why?" Pale blue eyes turned to Blair in agony. "I thought you said these erotomanics don't normally hurt their 'love objects'."
Blair met his partner's eyes, trying to convey his worry. "They don't usually. However, what if this person wanted to kidnap Steven, and tried to drug him?"
"And they got the amount wrong or something?" Simon suggested.
"Or he had an unforeseen reaction to the drug." Blair again stared up at his partner. "He is your brother, after all. Maybe he reacts weirdly to medication just like you do."
"But we know why I react weird," Jim pointed out, referring to his heightened senses. "That can't be it."
"Are you sure about that?"
Both taller men turned to stare at the young detective. Before either could form a question, Lily burst into the room, Megan on her heels. "Is he okay? What happened?"
Simon stared at the young woman in full gothic regalia. The white streaks in her dark hair had been joined by red and purple ones, the latter matching the deep purple, lacy, sleeveless blouse that hugged tight to her slim curves. A short, black leather skirt, flowing black cape, and three- inch black platform shoes completed the outfit. A silver Celtic pendant matched her dangling earrings, while harsh hospital light glinted off her purple stone nose ring and the silver bondage chain encircling her waist.
Blair, for once, barely noticed her legs. He lightly touched her thin shoulders as he bent a little to look her in the eye. "He's in with the doctors right now. We're waiting for them to come out and tell us something."
Tears began to trickle from her eyes. "I knew I should have stayed and helped him with that presentation. But he told me to go to the concert."
Jim had quietly inhaled the young woman's scent. Sweat from multiple bodies mixed with cigarette and pyrotechnic smoke, along with faint scents of pot, alcohol, and leather. In short, just the way his roommate always smelled when he got back from a concert. Yet underneath it all, the sentinel found the light rose fragrance Lily wore in Steven's office and the fruity scent of her shampoo. Neither matched the musk from the letter. Which meant he could officially remove her from the suspect list. "He wanted you to go. If you were there, you could have been affected, too."
Lily shook her head as she wiped her face, smearing black mascara across her cheek. "Maybe I could have prevented it, though. That weirdo isn't after me. I should have been there."
"Did you see or hear anything suspicious before you left, Ms. Lancin?" Simon asked, trying not to stare at her hair.
"No, or I wouldn't have gone."
A doctor stepped into the waiting room. "Detective Ellison?"
Jim immediately turned to the lanky man in green scrubs. "My brother?"
"Is in a very deep sleep at the moment. And we now know the reason why." The doctor looked at Jim intently. "Is your brother into bodybuilding?"
Jim raised an eyebrow at the unexpected question. "No. He works out, but mostly just to relieve stress."
"Was he at a party?"
"Was he about to go to bed? Perhaps needed to take something to get to sleep?"
"No, he was in his office preparing an important presentation." Jim glared at the doctor. "What's going on?"
"We believe your brother ingested gamma-hydroxybutyrate, or more likely, one of the home brewed versions of gamma-butyrolactone. They can also be found in diet supplements like RenewTrient."
"GHB and GBL," Blair condensed thoughtfully. "Liquid X."
"Easy Lay," Lily chirped in, recognizing the names Blair listed.
"Huh?" Simon stared at the two younger people, bewildered.
"GHB is a naturally occurring nutrient that can be synthesized like a drug," Blair explained. "It has numerous uses, like aiding childbirth, promoting muscle development, and as a sleep aid. It is also sold at raves and can be used as a date rape drug."
"One of the many reasons why my drink never leaves my hand while I'm out partying," Lily added. She frowned thoughtfully. "Guess we now know WHY the weirdo did it."
"Weirdo?" the doctor asked, both impressed at the information Blair knew and still trying to get a handle on the situation.
"My brother is being stalked," Jim swiftly explained. "Now, is Steven out of danger yet? Or do you have some antidote?"
"There's no antidote." The doctor shrugged. "We can only provide support care until it works itself out of his system. Admittedly, many of his reactions would suggest he took a much higher dosage than we could find in his blood, but the worst should be over barring complications. His breathing will continue to be monitored, but he should sleep for the next two to eight hours." He glanced at the group standing around Jim. "You may as well go home. Nothing any of you can do tonight."
"I'm staying, doc." Jim pinned the man with a glare.
The doctor nodded. "I'll send a nurse down for you once they have him settled. Then let them know if you need anything."
"Do you want some uniforms, Jim?" Simon asked.
"Not yet." Jim stared thoughtfully down the hall as he watched the doctor walk away. "I honestly doubt she'll try anything tonight. We're just going to have to come up with a better plan to get this bitch."
"Then call me in the morning." Simon ushered Megan and Lily out the doors.
Jim turned to Blair, who was admiring Lily's legs. "You should go home and get some sleep, too."
"No way, man." Blair declared firmly, returning his attention to his partner. "If you're staying, I'm staying. Besides, I'm too excited to sleep."
"Excited?" Jim queried, trying to figure out where that came from.
"Didn't you catch it? Man, I've wondered about it, but Steven's never shown any signs before. Of course, touch isn't the most obvious one, so--"
"Back up, Darwin." Jim raised a hand. "Catch what?"
Blair rolled his eyes at his partner's denseness. "Come on, Jim. Think about it. Steven's been having trouble with a shoulder hurting that drugs can't help. Remind you of anybody? Like, say, your shoulder before you got kidnapped by that Colonel?"
Jim's eyes widened briefly, finally catching what his partner was thinking. "Doesn't prove anything."
"But why do you think I know so much about GHB? After that incident, I started doing some digging into possible drugs that might have adverse effects on you. GHB was one of them."
"What's special about that one?" Jim asked, still trying to follow his partner in the Sandburg Zone.
"Remember the street name Lily mentioned, Easy Lay? That's because GHB supposedly enhances sexual activity. Besides lowering inhibitions, it's been reported that it enhances tactility." Blair wiggled his fingers in the air. "The sense of touch."
"Where are you going with this, Sandburg?" Jim asked, too worried to be patient.
Blair took a deep breath. "You are a sentinel with all five senses heightened. You and Steven have the same set of parents. I once calculated that since you're a sentinel, Steven has a 25% chance of being a sentinel, too."
"But he's not," Jim pointed out.
"True," Blair conceded. "There's another 25% chance that he doesn't have the sentinel gene at all. However, he also has a 50% chance of being a carrier. Which means not only can Steven pass on the sentinel gene to his kids, but that he'd most likely have one or two heightened senses himself."
"Like the test subjects in your Master's thesis?" Jim frowned as he tried to follow. "So now you think Steven might have a heightened sense of touch like mine?"
"Close, anyway. It wouldn't be as strong as yours, since I suspect you need the full sentinel package to reach your level. But it would be much better than a normal person's."
"But I never noticed Steven having it when we were kids," Jim replied, not sure he liked the idea that Steven was similarly inflicted with the gift. "And certainly he'd mention it."
Blair rolled his eyes. "Jim, you are the worse person in the world to know what's normal. Hell, you still can't figure out when you're seeing something none of the rest of us can. Plus touch is subtle. Steven could have enhanced touch, but since he's always had it, he has no way of knowing it's different from anybody else."
"We also had the same father," Jim muttered darkly.
"Sure, Ellison men need to be strong. Can't be touchy feely, would make you look weak," Blair played along. "Steven could have either repressed it like you, or naturally developed a strong control on it. But lately he's been exhausted, stressed, and then fed a drug that enhances the very sense he's struggling with."
"Spinning it out of control." Jim again looked worriedly down the hall. "In the ambulance, when he was fighting the IV, he said it felt like a stick up his arm." Jim met Blair's eyes. "That's how it feels to me when my senses are out of control. And in the office, he was fascinated by my jacket. One of the reason I bought it was because of how good it felt."
"It's also a good bet he's going to have problems with other drugs." Blair shook his head. "Good thing neither of you got into the drug scene. It's quite likely you wouldn't have survived. In fact, maybe you both have a natural aversion to them, in order to protect your senses."
Before Jim could ask another question, an older woman in a nurse's uniform walked up. "Detective Ellison? I can take you to your brother now."
"Go ahead, Jim," Blair urged him. "I'll check with Rafe and see if they found anything at the office."
Gratefully clapping Blair on the shoulder, Jim followed the nurse to his brother.
Early Thursday morning, hospital
The bewildered voice aroused Jim from his doze. Rubbing his eyes, Jim looked to find Steven blinking sleepily at him. He leaned over to raise the head of the bed for him. "Hey Stevie, how you feeling?"
"Tired. Sick. Like I'm getting over the flu or something." Steven glanced around, blinking as a shiver ran through him. "This is probably a dumb question, but where am I?"
Jim leaned over, pulling up the blanket to cover his brother's shoulders. Steven still looked too pale for the sentinel's peace of mind. "You're at the hospital."
Pale blue eyes pinned Jim's calmly, though his muscles tightened. "Why am I at the hospital?"
Jim sighed. "Do you remember anything?" Steven shook his head slightly, eyes still maintaining contact with his brother's. "Because someone slipped you a drug and you had a very bad reaction to it."
"I did?" Steven managed to free a hand and rub his face a moment. "I, I remember sending Ms. Lancin off to her concert. I was finishing up the presentations, making slides as I went in case something went wrong with the laptop..." Steven sighed. "Everything gets kinda fuzzy after that."
"Sandburg said you might have trouble remembering," Jim commented.
"Wait." Steven blinked for a moment. "The coffee I made a few hours after Lancin left. It tasted funny."
Jim nodded. "That was it."
Steven glanced down, staring at the blanket. "She did this, didn't she?"
Jim didn't need to ask who 'she' was. "We think so."
Jim clenched his jaw a moment. "We suspect she wanted to abduct you, and slipped you a drug that would have made you easier to handle. Only it hit you harder than she probably anticipated."
"Damn." Anger struggled with fear a moment. "Meaning if I hadn't reacted the way I did, she'd have me right now?"
"No," Jim assured him. "Blair and I were right there. We would have stopped her."
Steven's hand tightened around a section of blanket and squeezed. "What time is it?"
"A.M. Thursday morning."
"What?" Steven shot to a sitting position on the bed, only to curl over as his stomach protested.
"Easy." Jim rubbed the tense shoulder.
"Easy nothing," Steven gasped. "I've got to get to work, now."
"You're not going anywhere until the doctor releases you."
"You don't understand." Steven glanced around the room. "Where's my clothes?"
"You're the one not understanding," Jim retorted. "You were pretty sick last night, Steven. You even stopped breathing once." Steven turned his attention to Jim, eyes growing wide. "After scaring the hell out of me, you WILL listen to your doctors and follow their directions to the letter. Hell, if it's that important, I'll send Blair to do your presentation. He had all that experience as a TA."
Still feeling lightheaded and nauseated, Steven reluctantly laid back down. "Only if you can get him into a tie and lose the earrings." He hissed as he shifted the arm with the IV.
Jim chuckled, glad to see his brother being reasonable. "As long you don't ask him to cut his hair again. Took him forever to grow it out after the academy. I got tired of people asking if he was my partner or little orphan Andy."
Steven chuckled too, realizing his eyes were getting heavier. Suddenly, a thought hit him. "You..." the younger man paused to swallow, hating to admit his weakness but needing to ask. "You sticking around?"
"I'm guarding your back until you're on your feet again," Jim assured him, gently rubbing his shoulder. "And I have a few ideas on how we can catch this stalker once you're hitting on all cylinders again."
"Good," Steven yawned as his eyes closed. Jim's comforting hand eased him into sleep.