Time and Tides

Blair stretched as he came awake gradually. Man, what a night. Insurance forms, marriage proposals, nightmares (and just where had his subconscious dredged up purple alien frogs anyway?!), and confessions of deep dark secrets left li ttle time for restful sleep.

Jim smiled as he felt the warm body in his arms beginning to move. He'd lain half-awake for several minutes, simply enjoying the sheer relaxation of staying in bed with his lover. His motionless lover. He thought for a moment about waking up and expres sing his enjoyment more energetically, then decided that it could wait another half-hour. He snuggled himself in a bit closer, and drifted back to mostly sleep.

Blair went to move, only to find himself held in place by the arm that was wrapped around his waist. Picturing in his mind what they must look like -- the Sentinel holding onto him like a child holds onto a teddy bear -- cause involuntary laughter to bubble up.

'Have to add that to the job description,' he thought, wriggling around to face his lover. 'Grad student, police observer, guide and stuffed animal substitute.'

The increasing amount of motion was making it difficult to stay asleep -- not to mention difficult to remain closely snuggled. Frowning, Jim gripped tight, trying to hold the wriggling -- okay, deliciously wriggling - object still.

His lover's hold on him tightened even more and Blair grunted. 'There is one difference between me and a stuffed bear and that's I need to breathe.' Aloud he said, just a bit breathlessly, "Jim, is there some reason you're trying to cut off my a ir supply?"

"You keep moving," Jim muttered, half into his pillow and half into a warm, hairy portion of his mate's anatomy. He did loosen his grip, slightly.

"A 'Lie still' would've worked just as well." Belatedly Blair stopped wriggling and did just that.

"Didn't want to wake up enough to talk." Jim hoped Blair would realize that now, he had in fact been forced to do just that.

Maybe Blair would try to make it up to him. Send him back to sleep with an armful of Blair, or let him appreciate being awake. He hid his smile at the thought of being seduced.

Blair lay still for all of five minutes before he started wriggling again. "Sorry," he said as managed to roll over and end up half sprawled on top of the other man.

Jim finally opened his eyes, wondering which way Blair was going. He made no move to let go of his lover as he wriggled his way around.

'I've heard of attached at the hip but this is getting pretty ridiculous!' Blair thought, laughter bubbling up again as Jim continued to hold onto him tightly. "Jim?"

"Yeah?" Jim smiled at the vibrations he felt reverberating through his body as Blair laughed. His reaction was not entirely unexpected.

"You need to let me go. I really need to go to the can."

Jim let go immediately, remaining still so as not to impede Blair.

Blair was off the bed and down the stairs in a flash.

With a forlorn sigh ('since when did I start sighing forlornly?' This Blair-thing has taken over my entire life!' - he thought) Jim turned down his hearing a bit. Didn't need to hear Blair peeing. He glanced down at his body, the erection clearly expec ting great things. "Coffee? Toast?"

He heard the toilet flush and then Blair reappeared as quickly as he had dashed off, practically launching himself at Jim when he reached the bedroom. The younger man grinned at the "Oomph!" that escaped his lover's lips as Blair landed partially on to p of him.

Jim aborted the move to re-grab his lover, and asked, "Are you situated?"

"Just a sec." He wriggled around a bit more until he was lying more or less on top of the older man, legs entangled, chest to chest, groin to groin. "Yeah, I think I'm comfortable now."

"You're sure?" Blair gave him an enthusiastic nod, and Jim wrapped his arms around Blair's waist. His lover had, quite conveniently, lain down so that now there were two semi-hard erections pressed next to each other. "Did you want breakfast?"

"Eventually." Another wriggle, this one deliberately provocative. "After we work up an appetite?"

Jim shivered at the sensuous wriggle -- ignoring the voice in his head that yelled, 'it's about time!' "Sounds good to me, lover."

Blair let loose with one of his megawatt grins then leaned over and captured Jim's mouth in a deep passionate kiss.

For a brief moment Jim was hypernaturally aware of the fingers touching his arm, his chest; odd since the best part was happening at his mouth but for that first moment he felt Blair's hands, touching him.

Then he let himself go, losing himself in the pleasure of his lover's taste. He closed his eyes and let himself drift, using his sense of sound and taste to maintain enough awareness that he wouldn't lose himself completely.

'Man, I've said it before and I'll say it again, nobody kisses like a Sentinel!' Blair thought giddily as Jim kissed him back, tongue delving in and exploring ever millimeter of Blair's mouth, hands coming up and tangling in Blair's hair, ho lding his head in place for the continued assault. There were times when the grad student felt he could get off just from this, it was just so intense, so all consuming.

Drifting in an ocean of sensations, Jim didn't try to move, instead lying still as Blair –

The phone rang and Jim found himself sitting up, arms out, and a very disturbed lover lying sprawled at the end of the bed.

Blair moaned and buried his face in the blankets. "This is not happening!"

Jim gave the phone a glare as he reached over for it. "This had better be good!" he snapped at whomever had had the bad manners to interrupt them.

Peeking up from the blankets, Blair watched the expression on his lover's face change from frustrated lust to intense concern.

Jim listened silently to the rapid-fire report he was getting, followed by the instructions to "get down here now, I don't care what you two are doing!" He hung up the phone and looked over at Blair. "Sorry, lover, looks like we've got work to do."

"That was Simon?" Blair asked, sitting up and running a hand through his hair, trying to ignore the whimpering from his libido.

Giving his lover a sympathetic look, he nodded. "Yeah. Apparently someone blew up an empty building." Why was a dead building more important than making love to Blair? he asked himself. The building wouldn't be any more or less dead an hour from now.

Sighing at his conscience, which wouldn't allow him to even suggest it jokingly, he scooted towards the edge of the bed. He made the mistake of looking at Blair before he stood up. Reaching out, he pulled his lover towards him for a kiss. "Yeah, I know . It sucks."

"Well at least something does," Blair sighed and levered himself off the bed. "Do we have time for breakfast?"

"If we stop along the way," Jim admitted. "But only if we shower fast."

"Do you think you can keep your hands to yourself if we share?"

Jim smiled. "Do you want me to? Scratch that, that's your line." He shook his head and headed for the stairs.

Blair followed. "Well it won't be a fast shower if you don't. But if it's a choice between that and breakfast... I'm not that hungry anyway." He reached out and goosed his lover.

Jim had felt Blair's hand approaching -- a small concentration of heat, getting closer to his hindquarters. He glanced over his shoulder and otherwise didn't react. "You could always -- oh, hell." He stopped, turned, and gathered his lover close for a full-body hug and kiss.

To hell with being as on-time as humanly possible.

"Mmm...shower..." Blair managed to gasp out between kisses.

"Yeah," he agreed, pulling Blair along with him as he navigated -- in reverse -- the rest of the stairs. His body had apparently given this course of actions its full approval and he wondered if the landing would be a better place than the bathroom, so far away.

'How the hell did we manage to get down the stairs without breaking our necks?' Blair wondered as he realized they were making their way across the living room, arms still wrapped around each other, attached at the mouth.

Jim wondered if he should opt for speed and sling Blair over his shoulder, or stick with the slower but more immediately gratifying attached-maneuvering they were presently engaged in. He realized that the former, while getting them to a state of nudit y faster, would involve ceasing the kiss he was enjoying. Carrying Blair would have to wait.

Blair willingly allowed Jim to guide him towards their goal, concentrating all of his attention on kissing his lover senseless. Which took a lot when the lover in question was a Sentinel. But Blair was definitely going to give it all that he could.

Something rammed against his foot. Jim stopped his advance, held onto Blair with both hands and tongue, and felt along the obstruction. He couldn't tell immediately... his bare foot felt the fabric and he suddenly realized it was a backpack. Stepping a round it, he pushed Blair past and continued on their way to the bathroom.

He wondered if either of them would need to breathe by then.

They were taking an awfully long time to make it to the bathroom, the part of Blair's brain that was still thinking informed him. His libido was seriously beginning to debate whether or not they needed a shower at all. The couch, after all, was much ne arer. The little part of his mind still thinking reminded him that if things went the way his libido wanted them to, they definitely would need a shower afterwards. Besides, it added, appealing to his libido in words it would understand, a wet nekkid Jim was really a lot of fun.

Jim was startled when Blair suddenly broke off the kiss and grabbed his arm. "Wha--?" was all he got out before he was pulled, rather quickly, through the remainder of the apartment to the bathroom.

Blair didn't stop until they were both in the shower. Bending over to turn on and adjust the temperature of the water, he deliberately wriggled enticingly, grinning when he heard the deep-throated groan coming from his mate.

He couldn't help it. The invitation was too clear, too enticing, and if it weren't an invitation he'd just have to make the best of it before the arresting officers came to drag him away. Jim reached out and cupped each bare buttock with his hands.

Stroking lightly, he let himself stare at the sight, concentrating only lightly -- hell, who was he kidding? He practically zoned on the feel.

Letting out a groan of his own, Blair arched back into the touch, encouraging its continuation with another wriggle.

The flexing of the muscles elicited another groan. He moved his fingers slowly, letting the soft skin guide him along the almost smooth lines of Blair's ass.

Blair began to grow impatient as the gentle caresses continued. Not that he wasn't enjoying them but it was frustrating to have those hands so close to where he wanted them and just continue to tease him.

"Jim," he said a little breathlessly, "I thought you said this had to be a quick shower."

"Mmmm?" Jim heard his mate's voice. The words weren't clear but the sound of it rolled inside his skull, caressing him from the inside as he continued to touch the skin under his hands. He suddenly needed more, more than just touch and dim, wordless so und. He leaned forward and bit Blair on the neck, sucking the skin gently.

"Oh man..." Blair moaned. "Well that wasn't exactly what I had in -- damn, that feels good -- mind, but it's definitely a step in the right direction."

"Hmm?" He tried again to coax some meaning from the sounds Blair was making. He moved down Blair's neck, and stepped closer, bringing one hand around to hold him from the front. Drifting lazily through the thick patch of hair, Jim searched for -- or st alked, rather -- Blair's left nipple.

Blair gasped as Jim's fingers closed on his left nipple and the small ring threaded through it. He arched his back, pushing his chest closer to Jim's tormenting fingers and pushing his butt back against Jim's rock hard erection.

The sudden increased pressure against his cock -- almost exactly the part of Blair's body he wanted pressed against that particular part of his own -- ripped a groan, low and guttural, from Jim's throat. He carefully twisted the ring in his fingers, us ing the other hand to push his and Blair's bodies harder against each other.

Blair had given up on words entirely, settling for communicating in whimpers and moans as he felt his lover's body move against his. He pushed back, reaching around to grab onto Jim's hip to pull him even closer.

With a tiny adjustment, Jim pushed himself between his lover's buttocks. Resting his head against Blair's, he began to thrust, ever so gently. The heat and steam from the shower was beginning to leech out of the shower stall and fill the room.

"Blair...." He needed something, couldn't think clearly enough to figure out what.

The younger man wasn't thinking much more clearly himself, what with Jim so close to where he wanted him. But he still had enough brainpower to gasp out one word.

"Lube..."

"Right..." Jim finally heard words in his lover's voice and tried to remember where the closest tube was. After trying to kick-start his brain and failing he chose an easier method. Hell, what was being a Sentinel all about if you couldn't use it to he lp overcome minor crises?

He tested the air for the scent of lube, and quickly discovered a tube in the cabinet under the sink. He tried to reach back for it but found himself too far away. He'd have to let go of Blair....

"Damn."

Noticing that there didn't seem to be any progress, Blair tried to figure out why. The small part of his brain still able to think -- which was getting smaller by the minute -- informed him that they had made the oversight of not keeping lube in the sh ower so that there was none ready at hand. His libido was not happy with this news, being totally against calling a halt to the proceedings even temporarily at this stage. It demanded that Blair's brain think of something. Grumbling, the brain did so, pro viding a solution before informing Blair's libido that it was taking a coffee break for the duration. "Use the bathoil," Blair gasped out.

Jim made a quick search for bathoil, searching for the scent of ever-so-faint cinnamon, and found the bottle close at hand. He reached out and grabbed it, still toying with the nipple ring with his other hand.

He fumbled two-fingered with the cap.

"Damn."

It was a twist-off.

That word again. Blair was not happy hearing it. Craning his neck, he looked around to see what the problem was this time.

"Hold this," Jim held the bottle out to his lover, hoping they could get on with this before... well, before parts of his anatomy died of old age for one.

It took a few seconds for Blair to process the words, when he did he reached out and fumblingly took the bottle from Jim.

As soon as Blair had his hand on the bottle Jim went for the cap. Quickly he spun it open, and let the cap fall to the floor. He nudged Blair's hand to get him to tip the bottle to pour the oil into his hand. "Come on, love, I need--" He stopped short of saying it. He always did, though he never really knew why.

It was something Blair would've followed up on, if his brain hadn't been on a coffee break. As it was, his libido didn't care whether or not Jim said it, just as long as he *did* it. To that end Blair poured the oil with no more urging, even as he cont inued to wriggle against his lover.

'Finally!' Jim wasted no more time coating his erection with the oil. He held his hand up for more, then with fingers heavy with oil he reached down and prepared his lover.

Blair let out a deep groan of relief as he felt Jim's fingers getting him ready. "Please, Jim," he begged, thrusting back against them. "I need you. Now."

Needing no more encouragement Jim slid easily inside. He stayed a moment, halfway sheathed in his lover's body, feeling the spike of heat flaring at both their groins.

A panting breath began to echo in his ears and he started thrusting, all the way in and drawing almost all the way out, moving in time to that breath.

Blair closed his eyes, his head lolling back against Jim's shoulders, losing himself in the sensations, the incredible pleasure that was washing over him with every thrust.

The cascade of hair down his shoulder gave Jim shivers; he thrust in again and some of the hair slipped, tracing thin lines along his skin. Suddenly he had to thrust harder, and he held onto his lover tightly, bracing his legs a little farther apart.

As Jim's tempo increased Blair had to brace himself against the wall in front of him to keep his balance. He thrust his hips back in rhythm, mutely encouraging his lover to go even harder.

Soon the rhythm had overtaken him and Jim could only let his body take what it wanted. The breaths were loud in his head, panting and gasping and he couldn't tell which were his and which were Blair's; he groaned his lover's name once and heard his own voice. He felt the familiar build-up and let himself go, trusted his body to hold them both upright when the time came to collapse.

Reaching down Blair wrapped his hand around his own erection; one stroke was all it took to push him over the edge. Shuddering he climaxed, with a scream of his lover's name.

As Blair's muscles clenched with the force of his coming, Jim thrust as deep as he could go. The sensation was all he needed; the lights in his skull went dim as he came. His arms tightened their hold and he felt his legs wobble.

It was long moments before Blair was able to think again. They were still in the same position, him leaning against the wall, Jim holding onto him, his cock still buried in Blair's ass. Blair gave a contented sigh, closing his eyes and just relishing t he emotions rushing through him at that moment.

The tension eased from both their bodies simultaneously. Jim could feel it, flowing out of him like water running off... he opened his eyes and stared in dismay at the shower.

When he realized the water was still hot he sighed in relief, and gave Blair a small nip. "Let's get in."


The shower was, regrettably, short and to the point. Jim had to fight from caressing his lover with a soapy washcloth the way he really wanted to -- now that his immediate desire for Blair had been satiated, he could hear the voice in the back of h is brain reminding how long it had been since Simon had called.

His lover gave him an apologetic smile as they dried off. "I'd say I was sorry but I'm not," Blair told him, glancing at Jim. The grad student concentrated on wrestling his hair into some semblance of control. "I really needed that this morning."

Jim stopped in mid-dry and leaned over. He put one hand behind Blair's head, cupping it gently, and gave him a kiss. When he let his lover go, he remained leaning in, looking into Blair's eyes. Jim found himself smiling wider than he had in... abou t thirteen minutes.

Blair returned the smile, his face lighting up like a nova. He landed a quick kiss on Jim's lips then pulled away, heading for the door. "Come on. We don't want Simon to kill us for being late."

Jim suddenly deflated from the lover-induced high. "Oh hell. He's going to kill us."

Turning wide, guileless eyes on his Sentinel, Blair asked in the most puzzled of tones, "Why would he do that? I mean it's not our fault that the battery in your truck was dead and we had to jumpstart it from the Volvo is it? These things happen ."

For a moment Jim heard himself saying those very words to his Captain. Saying them earnestly, maybe even a smudge of grease artfully applied to his hands, not quite cleaned off. Then he shook his head and hung up his towel. "I can't do it. I can't lie that well to Simon."

"Don't worry about it, man." Blair's grin was truly evil. "I can."

Jim smiled. "Which is why I'll be waiting for you in the bullpen. Come on, we need to get dressed before I decide to wrestle you to the floor and fuck you." Jim turned and headed for the stairs, so he wouldn't see Blair's reaction. Hear, smell, and fee l, yes. Not see.

"That is so not fair Ellison," Blair muttered under his breath, knowing his Sentinel would hear it anyway, as he followed his mate upstairs to get dressed.

With a content smile, Jim pulled out his clothes. He carefully greeted Blair casually, as if nothing untoward had happened at all. Nothing besides the poor dead battery, of course.

The younger man tried to hold onto his slight annoyance but found he couldn't. Not this morning. He didn't think anything would ruin his good mood this morning. So he just grinned back and stuck his tongue out at Jim, as he starting putting on his own clothes.

Jim pulled the truck up to the scene of a very, very dead building. Amazingly, none of the nearby buildings looked more than slightly damaged as they surrounded what looked to be a giant pile of rubble.

"Somebody knew what he or she was doing," he said as he parked. He filed that piece of information away -- whoever did this, was good.

"Man, you can say that again," Blair agreed, eyes still on the rubble. "Nothing left but bricks and kindling."

Jim nodded, already starting to sweep the area. He noted the locations of all the personnel in the area, identified and dismissed all the usual, middle of the warehouse-district smells, and began looking at the rubble for any initial signs of odd bits. He heard Simon coming over, and switched his 'sensory sweep' to the background.

"What took you so long?" the police captain asked gruffly. It was obvious he was not in a good mood.

Blair spoke up as he had promised. "Sorry Simon," he said, looking apologetic. "The truck wouldn't start. We had to jump the battery from the Volvo."

Jim did his best to remain impassive as he listened to Blair. He knew, just knew, mind you, that everything he'd done and wanted to still be doing was showing clearly on his face. He turned back towards the building-remnants and started focusing again, to cover.

Simon glanced suspiciously at the two for a moment. "Find anything Jim?" Blair asked quickly, diverting the captain.

"Nothing odd, just what you'd expect from a blown-up building." He looked at Simon. "What happened? Besides the obvious?"

Simon turned his attention back to the building. "We got a call at 2am. Someone said that this building had been 'slated for a demonstration'. Two minutes later a bomb goes off. Nightwatchman was down the block." He indicated an old man, talking to one of the uniformed cops.

"Demonstration for what?" Jim asked.

"Of and I quote, 'What is to come.' As threats go, it wasn't very illuminating." Simon scowled and pulled out a cigar.

Blair started slightly at the wording. 'It can't be,' he told himself. 'Calm down. It's only a coincidence.'

Jim noticed the sudden change in his lover's heartrate, and all of his senses veered automatically away from the building and onto Blair. The other man was upset, but not badly. To Simon, he said, "Anything else? Have we found anything in the rubbl e yet?"

"Why do you think I called you?" Banks answered quietly and pointedly.

Jim nodded. "We'll check it out, Simon. I don't suppose we have anything on the caller?" He knew Simon would have told him had they had any other information, but he just wanted to be clear.

Still speaking softly, the captain answered, "Not really. The call came from a cell phone, male, but untraceable."

The uneasy feeling in the pit of Blair's stomach got a little bigger. 'You're overreacting,' he told himself sternly. 'It's on your mind because of last night. You're seeing connections where there aren't any. Just let it go, man.'

"Okay." Another piece of information filed away. Jim looked again at the building and wondered what he was supposed to get out of a huge pile of rubble.

Blair shook himself and focused on his Sentinel. "Try scent first, Jim," he said in a low voice, reaching out and resting a hand on the small of Jim's back, grounding the larger man.

Feeling the urge to do something while the two men studied the crime scene, Simon called out, "Brown get over here. I want to know everything about this building, twenty minutes ago."

Jim walked towards the building, Blair right beside him. Starting at the closest end, he began systematically searching the rubble. The scents were nothing unusual -- burnt wood, fiberglass, and the smell of wet cement all overlaid with the scent of th e dynamite, which had been used to demolish the building.

"Filter out the smells that should be here, Jim," Blair told him, in the low soothing tones he used to guide. "Look for something unusual. Something that shouldn't be there..."

"He used dynamite," Jim said absently. His own voice sounded like it was far away as he concentrated on his sense of smell. His Guide's voice was clear, though, and he began looking for unusual scents as directed.

"Mu shu."

"Mu shu?" Blair repeated.

"Mu shu." He looked at his partner, senses now equalizing. "I smell mu shu, coming from underneath all that. No blood, though, no sign that anyone is under there with it."

Simon had kept some of his attention on the low conversation the detective was having with his partner. Seeing that things were well in hand at the crime scene, he stepped closer to the two men to listen.

"Did the nightwatchman order dinner, maybe?" Blair asked, ignoring the sinking feeling that was increasing with every new bit of evidence.

"No Sandburg, the nightwatchman's office is elsewhere." The police captain pointed to a warehouse three doors away.

"Oh." The word was remarkably subdued for the grad student, especially considering the growing panic he was feeling.

Jim didn't consciously direct his senses, but suddenly they were all focused on Blair. His heart was racing, he'd begun to sweat, his pupils were dilated and his breath had began to grow shallow and fast. Signs he would have missed had he not been a Se ntinel, but he had a feeling that a minute more and even Simon would notice. Jim put his hand on Blair's shoulder.

"Blair?" He waited until bright, panicked-blue eyes had focused on him.

His lover's hand on his shoulder and concerned voice cut through Blair's incipient distress. He took a deep breath trying to calm himself. "I'm all right," he softly reassured his partner. Then, biting the bullet, he turned to Simon and asked, "Could the food have been a cover for delivery of the bomb?"

"It could have been. We need to investigate this." Simon rubbed his hand over his face. "I don't need this right now. Get on it you two."

"Yessir." Jim nudged Blair away from Simon, as if to head closer to the dead building for a closer examination. When they were a few feet away he faced his lover. He didn't have to say anything, the expression on Blair's face told him everything. < /P>

"I'm okay Jim," Blair said, though he looked anything but. "I just... it's like what I told you last night. A lot like it."

"What?" Jim took a hold of his lover's arm, stepping closer -- reminding himself not to wrap his lover in a hug at a crime scene -- and tried to figure out what Blair could possibly be talking about.

"Blair, what does this... you mean your parents did things like this?" No wonder Blair looked like he was going to pass out. "You wanna go? I can dig through this rubble later, with Simon...."

"No. I can handle this. I can." The grad student's voice was determined. "Besides I might be able to help. After all I have... experience... with this sort of thing."

Looking at the two men who were walking away, Simon hoped they would solve this soon. As usual Brown was off on some fool's errand, but it was the only way he could think of to... The police captain reined in his thoughts immediately. Going in that dir ection was not only unwise but also unprofitable. He looked around for some other hapless person to harangue, "Tomlinson. Yes, you. Get over here."


Jim considered Blair's words -- comparing the words with the dazed expression. He wanted to tell his mate there was no reason to put him through it -- one dead building wasn't worth putting Blair through *anything* which made him this upset.

Blair anticipated his partner's protest before it was voiced. "Don't even think of telling me to sit this one out, Jim. It may just be one abandoned building this time but there's nothing that says that's what they'll stick to. And I doubt they're going to stop now."

"All right, Blair," Jim held up a hand to ward off any further protest. He still wanted to take Blair home and keep him safe -- preferably safe in bed, wrapped in his arms -- but he conceded that Blair was probably right.

"So what's our next move, man? Has the nightwatchman been questioned? Did he see anything? Anybody? Were there any other potential witnesses?"

Simon looked around the busy crime scene. Tomlinson had scurried away and Simon rejoined the detective and his partner.

Later, when they weren't at the scene of the crime surrounded by other cops, he would push. He resolved -- as usual -- to keep a close eye, ear, and everything else on Blair and at the first sign that things were getting to be to much for Blair, he was going to wrap him up and take him home, no matter how hard his lover yelled. For now, Jim let Blair resume an appearance of calm, cool, and collected and re-addressed the question to Simon.

"What did you find out Jim?"

"Nothing else, Simon. Just the Chinese food in the rubble. We need to find out what restaurants are in the area that might have delivered here. Maybe we'll get lucky and the delivery kid was in on it."

Blair nodded emphatically, though he still was looking a bit pale and shell-shocked. "It's hard to imagine that he didn't know what he was carrying. A bomb that can do this--" he gestured at the rubble, "-- would weigh a lot more than mu shu."

The words registered slowly; when they did Jim stared at his lover.

"Are you okay Sandburg?"

"I'm fine Simon," Blair replied. He noticed the strange stares he was getting.

"What? A bomb would weigh a lot more than Chinese food, wouldn't it?"

"I think the kid is getting better at this stuff, Jim." Simon scrubbed his eyes and looked around at the crime scene. Activity was beginning to die down as people completed their tasks and left the area.

He needed to make one more call.

Flipping his cell phone open, he punched a speed dial code. "If you've checked the place over Jim, you should leave also." A voice at the other end of the line answered. "Brown, I thought I told you I wanted those background specs." The police captain cut across the conversation. "No, I'm coming in. I want to see what you've got." Absentmindedly, Simon waved the two men off and turned toward his car.

Jim didn't need to be ordered twice. Grabbing Blair's arm, he headed towards the truck.

On the ride to the station Blair vacillated between introspective quiet and frenetic hyperactivity, wherein he would babble about the delivery kid, bombs, threats and possible agendas of the bombers.

Jim listened closely to all of Blair's ramblings. He knew that somewhere inside those words was more truth than his lover intended to reveal. It was usually that way, when his mate started babbling and bullshitting. The picture Jim started to put together was not one he liked.

"I wouldn't be surprised if the delivery kid was just a patsy, you know tricked into thinking he's doing something good. That he doesn't really understand what he's doing..." The grad student suddenly broke off, falling into another of those introspective silences.

As Jim pulled the truck into the garage, he glanced over at Blair. The silences had grown more frequent in the last fifteen minutes, and he was hoping it meant that sooner, rather than later, he'd find out what Blair knew that he was trying not to say.

"I'm projecting aren't I?" The words were sudden and quietly said. Blair refused to meet his partner's eyes as he said them.

"I don't know, love," Jim reached out and wrapped his arm across his lover's shoulders as they headed towards the underground entrance. He kept his voice low, and despite his words knew that Blair was right. But Blair hadn't told him enough, yet, to be able to say what he felt.

He wanted to tell him again that they could go home, let Blair stay out of this one. Instead he headed towards Major Crimes, ready to delve into finding the people who were responsible and he knew -- with a rather sick feeling of premonition -- that Blair would be extremely necessary on this one.

"I am," Blair asserted as they stepped into the elevator. "It's just..." He stopped and sighed, running his hands through his hair in frustration. "I can't help but identifying with the kid. I *was* that kid once. Hell, listen to me. We don't even know for sure that there is a kid."

Grateful the elevator was empty, Jim turned and faced his mate, hands on Blair's shoulders. He tried to project as much calm and support as he could. "Someone delivered the bomb with the takeout..." His thoughts veered suddenly. After a moment he asked, "Why bother with the takeout? Why not just plant the bomb?"

"Dress rehearsal," Blair replied automatically. His eyes widened. "Jesus, Jim, that was just a dry run! They're going to hit something bigger -- and probably populated -- somewhere the takeout thing would be needed to get the bomb in!"

"We know that, Blair!" Jim tightened his grip on his lover, then let go with only one hand when the elevator doors opened. He steered Blair along towards the Major Crimes bullpen as he continued. "The caller said this was just a taste of things to come. We can assume he intends to threaten more than just empty warehouses if he wants his demands met." He noted the incipient signs of another panic attack and wished -- again -- they could leave. He'd always had to fight the urge to protect his partner on a case, but it usually only got this bad when Blair was imminently about to die.

"That's not what I'm saying Jim!" Blair shot back annoyance creeping into his tone. "I mean, yeah they're going to hit somewhere else, that's obvious. I'm talking about the way they're going to hit wherever it is."

"What do you mean?" Jim found himself encouraging just what he didn't want Blair to be thinking about.

"When I said this was a dress rehearsal, that's exactly what I meant." Blair's voice was taking on an added urgency and his words were practically tumbling over each other he was speaking so fast. "A rehearsal for a bigger hit, where everything is done the way it's planned for the real thing. A chance to check for snags and for everyone to work the butterflies out."

"Right, Blair, I got that part." Jim pulled his lover over to his desk, and tried to sit him down in the chair. "What do you mean about the 'way' they'll make the next hit? Will there be something more than we've already seen?"

"Yeah, man. People are going to get hurt next time. Otherwise, why use a Trojan horse trick?"

"Good point." Jim tried again to nudge the other man into his chair, hoping that by sitting still he'd regain some semblance of calm.

Blair avoided the nudge and instead began to pace back and forth in front of Jim's desk. "Damn. I know I'm missing something."

With a frustrated sigh, Jim watched Blair begin to wind up even farther. He thought briefly of duct tape, then shook his head. "We need to find whoever delivered the takeout. Blair," he tried to get his partner's attention, and couldn't tell if he'd succeeded. "Tomlinson will let us know about the possible restaurants in the area."

Blair nodded absently. "They may have ordered the food, picked it up and then put a bomb in it and delivered it to the site themselves. It's a cover not a job choice."

Jim didn't want to say it, but he had too. "Blair." He took a step closer, lowering his voice. "I think maybe you'd better tell me everything you know about this sort of thing. We can tell Simon and Tomlinson an edited version, but...."

That got Blair to stop moving. Standing still he let out a sigh as he pushed the hair back from his face. "You're right. But... not here okay? Can we go somewhere a little more private?"

"Sure." Jim hadn't expected to talk about it here; he'd already been listening for Simon, to see if they'd be able to sneak out before the captain arrived.

"Okay." Blair looked at his partner. "Now?"

"Yeah, come on." Jim laid a hand on Blair's back and pulled his lover towards him. The best place, he knew, was home -- Blair would be most comfortable, and there would be no chance of anyone walking in on the conversation.

Unfortunately, the last time they'd gone home in the middle of the day, Simon and practically everyone else had been smirking the next day and someone had anonymously shipped them a box of condoms. 300 condoms.

It was clear Blair was remembering the same thing. "Maybe the park?" he suggested. "Or my office? If we go to the loft and the others find out we're going to need the truck to carry home the gag gifts. We can grab some breakfast on the way."

Jim just nodded. "Whichever you prefer, Blair." Not that they couldn't use a few more of the good condoms, but the box had been filled mostly with the cheap ones that broke. He gave the building the once over and didn't find any sign of Simon. "Let's go." His hand was still on Blair's back.

"Let's go get breakfast and we can decide." Blair was already heading towards the elevator.

"Sandburg, Ellison, just the two I wanted to see."

Jim stopped. He hadn't heard Simon... oh hell. Jim turned, still keeping his hand on Blair to let him know that their conversation was still the priority. "Yes, sir?"

"Were you two going out without giving me a progress update?"

"No, sir. I didn't realize you were back." Jim stopped, hoping Blair would pick up and bluff their way out of here.

"We were just going to go scout out some of the Chinese restaurants, see if Jim can match the smells," Blair piped up, then continued on to the elevators. "See you later Simon."

The police captain watched the elevator open and close on the pair. Something was going on there. He would wait until he could tackle Ellison when Sandburg was absent.

Jim waited until the elevator doors closed, and they had nearly finished their decent before he turned to Blair. It wasn't like anyone could hear them, but it always felt more private to him when he couldn't hear others talking. "Where did you want to get breakfast?"

Blair shrugged. "Wherever." He seemed to be pulling himself inside himself, preparing for the talk to come.

Watching as his lover pull all his walls up, he carefully reached out, touched him briefly on the shoulder, and then let his hand fall. He'd give Blair the space he needed, wouldn't push. The doors opened and they headed for the truck, Jim decided on TooJay's Deli for breakfast. It wouldn't be crowded this time of the morning, and Blair always enjoyed the food.

It would give them both a chance to prepare themselves for whatever needed to happen next.

After they had gotten the food, they drove to the park. Blair took a deep breath when Jim turned off the engine and turned to him, concern shining in his eyes. "Where do you want me to start?" the grad student asked simply.

"I don't know, Blair." Jim shrugged. "I don't know how much you know about this." It was hard to say, hard to even think seriously that his lover knew *anything* about this sort of thing. He couldn't think of any way to make it easier. "I suppose... tell me everything you can. Anything that might be important to the case, to--" he stopped before saying 'to us'.

Blair nodded, then was silent for a moment gathering his thoughts. "It's weird how things work out isn't it?" he asked conversationally. "If I hadn't had that nightmare last night I wouldn't have told you about all of this. Part of me wonders if this explosion would've happened to today if I hadn't. Is that crazy or what? But it just seems almost like cause and effect. I bring up my past and then it starts invading my life again."

"Blair," Jim leaned forward, reaching for Blair's hand. He could see the cycle of self-blame starting. "Maybe... it's the other way around?" He tried, dredging up something that he would have imagined Naomi, not himself, saying. "Maybe because this was going to happen, that's why you dreamed it?" He knew Blair wouldn't think that sounded as silly as he, himself, did.

That didn't make him feel less foolish.

A tiny smile flickered across Blair's lips briefly. "Maybe. Whatever the reason, I'm grateful I did tell you last night. Because I can't imagine what your reaction would've been if I had had to tell you in the middle of this. And don't tell me you wouldn't have been angry and hurt because you would've been."

"Probably. But I would have gotten over it."

"Eventually. It's what would have been said and done until then that I don't want to think about."

"Blair, I wouldn't have yelled--" He stopped when Blair gave him a direct 'oh right' look, and grimaced. He would have yelled. "All right, I would have yelled. But it doesn't mean what it sounds like. Don't you know that?"

Blair nodded, reaching for Jim's hand. "I know. But that doesn't make it hurt any less at the moment you're yelling. It doesn't make *what* you yell hurt any less. You may not have noticed, man, but I'm not the most secure person in the world."

Jim didn't say anything. Moving forward he pulled Blair close, holding him as tightly as he could in the awkward confines of the cab. "God, Blair, I'm sorry." He didn't know what else to say.

Smiling, Blair leaned back enough to look into his Sentinel's face. "You're the only person I know who has a more developed guilt reflex than my own," he teased fondly. "You've nothing to apologize for Jim. If you recall, you didn't yell or say nasty things when I told you. I'm just trying to explain why I've been scared to tell you about all this, and why I'm still scared now. Even though I probably have no reason to be."

Jim sighed; he wasn't sure if he'd been let off the hook or not. If Blair was afraid to talk to him because he had a habit of yelling -- of *hurting* his lover with what he said -- he'd damn well better not let *himself* off the hook.

What they needed to do now, however, was solve this case before anyone got hurt, or killed. Before he let go of Blair, though, he gave him a squeeze. "You can tell me anything you need to, Blair. I can't guarantee I won't yell, or react badly... but after I've blown my top I'll always be right here."

His reward was a brief flash of Blair's megawatt grin. "Thanks, man." Then the grad student sobered. "Guess we better talk about what we're here to talk about huh?"

"Yeah." Jim let go and scooted backwards. "You wanna walk around?"

Blair nodded. "Yeah. I always think better when I'm moving."

Jim got out of the truck, locked his door, and walked around to stand beside Blair. He scanned the area, and then picked a direction that was less occupied than other areas.

He didn't say anything, just waited for Blair to begin.

"So what do you want to know?" Blair asked, as he walked alongside his partner, hands stuffed in his pockets. "Give me a place to start."

Keeping an eye and ear on their surroundings, Jim considered. "Tell me about the kid... the one who delivered the bomb."

"You mean if he's like I was?" Blair fell silent for a moment gathering his thoughts. "He knows what he's doing. That it's a bomb he's delivering. He doesn't understand the consequences though."

"Why would he do it, then?" Jim asked the question carefully. He was afraid of what he was going to hear, but he knew he needed to hear it -- and Blair needed to say it.

"Because he believes in the cause, has been told all his life that it's worth fighting for, that the way things are now is unendurable and the only way to change it is with violence. It's all he's seen, all he's known. He wants to make them proud of him."

The Sentinel heard the bitterness, and the pain in his lover's voice. Jim stopped and took his lover in a hug. "I'm sorry, Blair. If you don't--"

"I'm all right," Blair protested then in a softer voice said, "Thanks though." He hugged back for a moment before releasing the larger man. "We need this info. Let's keep going."

"If you're sure..." Jim sighed. He knew as well as Blair did they had to do this. He just hated being the one to force Blair into saying it. 'At least you weren't the one who did this to him, Ellison. And once you know, you can do everything in your power to make sure it never hurts Blair again.'

"I'm sure." The grad student tossed his head, flicking a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. "So what else?"

"What else is there? Blair... how much will my knowing about your parents help me solve this case? Does anything seem... familiar?"

Blair chewed his lip, lost in old memories. "Yeah. The whole scenario. Not that they...we... they... pulled anything exactly like this but..." his voice trailed off as his forehead wrinkled in thought.

Jim rested a hand on Blair's shoulder. "Why don't you describe one for me? What... did they usually do?" It felt like razors ripping through his stomach, asking Blair these horrible things. Asking him to relive it. He remembered the nightmare just that morning and hoped they wouldn't be inflicting more.

"They had a real thing about authority, I mean majorly hostile you know? Politicians, army, police. Man, they hated cops!" A smile flashed briefly across Blair's face. "You think you had problems with Naomi..."

Jim returned the smile. "I never had problems with Naomi. Not once she-- uh, never mind."

"Not once she what?" Blair asked curiously.

"Umm.." Jim squirmed - not easy to do while walking, but still. Glancing at Blair he realized his mistake was in saying anything. Now if he *didn't* explain, Blair would be all over him until he spilled. "She just... we talked. About you."

"What about me?"

"Just, you know -- usual stuff." Jim heard himself trying to avoid saying it, even though he knew it was pointless. Finally he sighed, looked out across the wide field they were passing, and said, "She asked me how I felt about you. What I intended to do." He glanced at Blair and found solemn blue eyes staring back at him. 'God, I love him.' He smiled. "I told her I loved you."

Blue eyes lit up and Blair's megawatt grin made an appearance. "Really?"

"Of course." Jim smiled involuntarily, in reaction to Blair's pleasure. "I had to, she threatened to camp out in our living room for a month to protect you from me."

"That's my mom," Blair said with a chuckle. "She's always looking out for me."

Jim was relieved to see Blair happy -- the darkness in his eyes had vanished. He hated to do it, but he had to ask again. "Blair..."

"Yeah?" Blair asked still chuckling a bit.

"Your parents.... I'm sorry. What sort of things did they do?"

The exuberance seemed to drain out of Blair all at once. His gaze dropped and he sighed before answering. "Not as much as they wanted. They were involved with running drugs, and there were attacks on cops on the beat and stuff like that. Mostly small stuff. There were a couple of bombings, not every one went off. But they talked a better game than they actually played."

Jim felt a shiver of cold run through him. Attacks on cops... he'd seen that thing before, too often. Even though he'd arrived as a detective, he'd still been there. Seen it. He wrapped an arm around his lover and reminded himself that, parents aside, Blair was not the kind of man to be involved. Not any longer.

"The bombs... were they like this one? Any idea what might happen next?"

But Blair gave no sign of hearing Jim; he seemed to be in the middle of a mental epiphany. "That's it!" he yelled.

Grimacing against the sudden shout, Jim dialed his hearing back down from where it had been, listening around them to make sure they stayed more or less alone. "What's it, Chief?"

"I said my parents talked a good game... well this is one of the scenarios they talked about doing... That's why this sounds so familiar!" Blair was practically bouncing in place.

Jim wasn't sure if he should be glad Blair was back to his usual, excitable self or worried still about what they were dredging up. Giving his head a slight shake, he asked, "What scenario was it?" He wondered suddenly -- if the scenario *was* familiar, then who was behind this morning's bombing?

"Just what has happened... a kid -- they were going to use me, that's why I remember it -- delivers a bomb disguised as take-out. They talked about doing a warehouse or another abandoned building to alert the media to their presence. Then they'd go on to their true targets..." Again Blair's voice trailed off.

Softly, Jim asked, "Blair, where are your parents?"

"I don't know. I don't want to know." He sighed and looked at Jim ruefully. "But it isn't about what I want is it?"

If he'd thought anything he'd said before now was hard, it was nothing compared to this. "Blair, love. Is it possible your parents are behind this?"

Blair was silent for so long that Jim was starting to think he wasn't going to answer. Then, softly, "Yeah, it's possible."

There was nothing to say to that. Instead of trying, Jim stopped walking and put both arms around his love.

"Devon and Maggie Camden," Blair whispered.

"I'll run them through the computer." His voice nearly broke on the whisper. He could feel Blair trembling, ever so slightly, in his arms. It felt like tremors to the Sentinel -- or maybe it was just because he was in love -- he would have classified them as a 9 on the Richter scale of emotional earthquakes.

Blair nodded, burying his face in Jim's neck, arms coming up and around the older man's torso, holding onto him like a lifeline.

For long moments they stood there, neither willing to move. Jim let his guard back up, searching the area unconsciously for anything that seemed like a threat, or even mere intrusion, as he held his lover safely in his arms.

The park was quiet, far away he could heard children playing, parents and babysitters talking and laughing, warning their charges not to play too rough. They all sounded so happy.

Statistically speaking, less than half of them could be. He thought of Blair, a small child, being raised by people who hated so much they had to destroy. He lowered his head and buried his face in his mate's hair.


The truck ride was, as always, shorter on the way back. Jim kept a careful tab on his mate, but Blair seemed to be fairly calm. Actually, that worried him -- if Blair were quiet that meant he was thinking.

Thinking was indeed what Blair was doing, casting his mind back, trying to recall all the details of that half heard conversation so many years before. It was difficult; the memories were hazy and he had deliberately tried to forget that entire period of his life. But it was important that he remember now so he put aside his personal feelings and concentrated on recovering the memories.

'Dad had been talking with some of his friends,' Blair recalled. 'Mom had set me out of the room but I heard my name so I hid outside the door and listened. They were discussing ways of getting a bomb planted undetected, how I would never be suspected if they had me deliver it.' His forehead wrinkled as he struggled to remember. 'They said that first they'd do a dry run through, target an abandoned building just to make sure everything was running smoothly, and to send out a warning. Warning, more like a taunt if you ask me. Then, if all went well it would be time to hit their first real target. And that was...'

Suddenly Blair stiffened, sitting straight up in his seat. "Oh god, Jim, oh god! I know where they're going to hit next! Step on it, we have to get back! They're going to hit the police station!"

"What?!" Jim automatically stepped on the accelerator, even as he was trying to make sense of Blair's words. "What are you talking about?" His hand hovered by the visor, ready to flip the siren on. He waited, though, for Blair to justify his claim.

"I remember the conversation I told you about -- the one where I overheard my parents and some talking about this particular senario," Blair explained, words falling over each other. "After the run through at the warehouse, the next target was to be the police station! Come on Jim step on it!" Reaching over, he flipped the siren on himself.

"All right, all right," Jim soothed. Using both hands to navigate traffic, he added, "Call Simon. Tell him we think they're targeting the station."

Blair nodded and fished out his cell phone, hitting the speed dial.

"Banks"

"Simon, this is Blair. We think they're going to try and hit the police station next. You better have people watching for any delivery people, specially kids."

"What? Sandburg, how d'you know this? Did you and Jim find a clue?"

"That's kinda complicated Simon. Just trust me on this okay? Please, man. It's important."

"Trust.... Blair put Jim on the line. I want to know what's going on here."

Blair held the phone out to Jim. "He wants to talk to you."

"Tell him I'm driving!" Jim swerved around a Volvo which didn't seem to care that an emergency vehicle was barreling down upon it.

The grad student rolled his eyes at his partner then brought the phone back to his ear. "He's... uh.. kinda busy right now Simon."

Rubbing his eyes tiredly, the tall man paced the length of his office. "Sandburg, is Ellison sitting next to you?"

"We're in the truck Simon. Driving. Where else would he be sitting?"

"Give him the phone Sandburg, I don't care how busy he is. I am not about to set my cops on schoolchildren without knowing why."

Muttering under his breath Blair held the phone out to his partner again. "He's insisting Jim. For some reason, my word isn't good enough for him." He couldn't quite keep the sarcasm out of his voice.

"Jim, what's the kid talking about?"

One hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the phone, Jim divided his attention. Blair, traffic, phone. "Just what he says, sir." He sped past a truck pulling out of a driveway.

"Jim, he didn't say much of anything. I am supposed to trust him and look out for delivery people." The police captain listened to his words and muttered. "They are targeting the station. Damn. Ellison get over here as soon as possible." He slammed the phone down and went to the door, "Rhonda get me on the intercom."

With a sigh of relief Jim hung up the cell and dropped it on the seat beside him. Only two blocks to go. He began scanning the area for delivery kids carrying bags that seemed heavier than they ought.

Beside him Blair was practically vibrating in his seat, leg bouncing, hands fidgeting as he struggled to restrain the excess of nervous energy he suddenly had.

"Keep an eye out for anything that looks like--"

"There!" Blair interrupted, pointing at a figure coming down the sidewalk. "That's gotta be him!"

With a screech of tires, Jim pulled to the curb just behind the kid. It was a young boy, maybe twelve years old. He was carrying a large bag with "Murray's" logo splashed all over it. The bag was obviously weighed down, the kid was having trouble carrying it with one hand under the load and one hand gripping the top. As he leapt out of the truck Jim focused, and found a racing heartbeat and the stench of perspiration -- definite signs of nervousness.

He leapt up to the sidewalk and hurried up behind the kid, Blair matching his apce at his side.

The kid looked from one to the other of them, eyes wide and scared. He fidgeted nervously with his armload, almost dropping the bag. Blair reached out and grabbed it before it could topple over.

"Wha-What do you want?" the kid asked nervously, trying to sound challenging but only sounding frightened.

"Come with us, please," Jim didn't quite take him by the arm, but stepped up close enough to grab him if he ran. He hoped they could get the kid someplace safe before identifying themselves, in case the others involved were keeping an eye on their delivery boy.

Backing up the kid shook his head. "I d-don't have t-to," he stammered.

Blair reached out a hand in a calming motion. "Look, nobody's going to hurt you," he said in the soothing tones he used while guiding Jim. "We just want to talk with you. And we can't let you deliver that bomb."

The kid's eyes got, if possible even wider and his heartrate shot way up, beating so loudly that Blair could almost hear it. "I-I d-don't have any b-bomb," he denied, shaking his head violently.

"Uh-huh." Jim could hear, smell, and practically taste the bomb now, amidst all the lo mien and soy sauce. He herded the kid towards the side entrance of the police station, where he could see a vested, helmeted, and most importantly radioed member of the bomb squad waiting. Apparently someone had seen he and Blair intercept the kid and put two and two together because the cop gave him a nod.

When the kid realized where he was being led he very obviously panicked. Flinging the bag at Jim and Blair he turned and with an agile twist ran past them and headed back towards the main sidewalk.

Blair, with a shouted, "No!" dove after the bomb, managing to catch it before it could hit the ground.

Jim was running after the kid as soon as he moved, hearing Blair make the catch safely. msotly safely, it sounded as if his lover had bruised at least his elbows from the crack he heard from the pavement.

He put on a quick burst of speed, dodging through the crowds of people. The kid was slippery but had not managed to get a lead on Jim.

Ellison grabbed the kid's shirt and pulled him backwards.

The kid was not giving up easily though. He twisted and struggled in Jim's grip, striking out frantically with fists and feet, doing everything in his power to get free.

Luckily, Jim was half a foot taller than the kid, and quite a bit stronger. He kept his hold on the kid, and pulled him closer -- stretching the kid to his toes, keeping him too off balance to get any leverage to do damage with his flailing fists.

The shoes, on the other hand, were connecting rather soldily with his shins; Jim growled at the kid and hauled him towards a wall.

He heard two cops pounding asphalt behind him, providing backup.

Blair joined his partner after carefully handing the bag with the bomb over to the bomb squad guy. They both watched as the boy was cuffed and led away.

"Man, that was too close," Blair sighed.

"Yeah..." Jim looked over at Blair. "Good thing you remembered that when you did. Five more minutes and we might have missed him."

"Yeah..." Blair shuddered as he thought about what could've happened. "Part of me almost wished I had been wrong though."

A sharp glance told Jim that Blair wasn't any more agitated than he had right to be. He gave the man a quick squeeze on the arm. "Come on, Chief. Let's get in there and find out what's going on."

Taking a deep breath, Blair nodded and followed his partner inside.

They headed inside, Jim listening ahead of them to the kid's continued protests. He was demanding a lawyer, saying he'd done nothing they could charge him for.

They went up to Major Crimes to find Simon.

The police captain was smiling with forced cheer as he explained to someone on the phone that it was all taken care off.

Waving at the two men at the door, he mouthed 'Good job.'

Quickly he finished with his call.

"What've you got Jim?"

"We caught the kid with the bomb, right outside the building." He paused for a second to relish the expression on his Captain's face.

"Where is he now? Have you had a chance to question him, find his accomplices?"

He's downstairs, sir. We thought you might like to come hear the questioning."

Thinking for a minute, Simon chewed on his cigar then he responded, "What's wrong with you Sandburg? I would think you'd be happy about catcher the bomber?"

"I am, I guess," Blair answered with a half shrug. "But I don't like seeing a kid used like that."

"You are, you guess?" Simon felt his insides clutch. "There is no guessing here Blair. That kid would have done severe damage with his bomb and walked away."

The police captain stuffed one hand into his pocket. "Let's go Jim and get some information out of that kid."

"Yes, sir." Jim answered Simon but he was looking at Blair. For all his cool, the captain's words had to have had an affect. 'Thinking about being sent to carry a bomb, himself?' With a hand on Blair's shoulder, he guided his lover to follow Banks out.


Blair watched through the one-way window as Jim and Simon interrogated the kid. So far the two detectives were having no success. The kid just sat there sullenly, not saying a word.

Jim leaned forward across the table, giving the boy his best 'I am Jim, do what I say' stare. "You know you're not going anywhere until you talk."

The boy didn't look up, didn't flinch. Jim shook his head. Apparently whoever had put him up to this had him more scared. He glanced back at Blair, silently asking if he would try.

'I *so* do not want to do this,' Blair thought even as he walked forward and sat down across from the kid. "They're just using you, you know," he told him quietly.

Jim stood behind his lover, resting one hand on Blair's shoulder. There wasn't much he could do to make this easier, except be there.

The boy just continued staring at the floor.

"Why do you think you're the one who they picked to deliver the bombs?" Blair continued, mentally drawing strength from his lover's touch. As long as Jim was there he could do this. "It's because no one would suspect you, wasn't it?"

The kid acted as though he wasn't hearing a single word. But from his stance, Jim and Blair could both see his walls beginning to fall, a fraction.

"They told you the plan was foolproof. That all you needed to do was deliver the package and walk back out. That there was no way you'd get caught." Blair leaned forward and tried to catch the kid's eye. "You wonder how we were onto you so quickly?"

The kid shrugged. Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder -- success! The boy was listening, now. All they had to do was draw him out.

"It was because we were looking for you. We *knew* where you were going to be." That much was the truth. Blair didn't share the reason they knew, letting the kid draw his own conclusions. 'Now if only he'll draw the right ones,' he thought, 'that he was betrayed, and start talking...'

The kid looked up, sneering over his obvious worry. "You're lying, pig. They wouldn't have told you anything."

Blair spread his hands. "How did we know where you were going to be then?"

Another shrug. The kid went back to staring at the floor.

Jim remained silent, because although he wanted to leap across the table, grab the kid by the shirt and shake him until he talked, he had to admit Blair's method was getting better results.

"Look, we want to help you -- we realize you're not the one responsible for the attacks." Blair was at his most earnest.

"Help me?" The boy looked at Blair. "Help me *how*? You pigs --" He stopped himself again, shaking his head. "What makes you think I want anything you have to give?" He sneered, but the words sounded like those he'd heard, over and over, from other's mouths.

Blair sighed. 'God, that could so easily have been me!' The thought made him even more determined to get through to the kid, as Naomi had gotten through to him. "You look like a smart kid, one who can think for himself. The question is, are you going to?"

"I don't need anything from you." The boy crossed him arms, and turned away to glare at the wall.

Jim spoke up, calmly and evenly. "You *do* know what's going to happen to you, don't you? We've caught you, with a bomb. There won't be any social services or family counselors for this one. You'll be sentenced."

"You're the only one who can help you right now," Blair told him, seeing the fear that the kid was trying desperately to hide. "If you don't..." He reached out and laid a hand on the kid's arm. "Don't throw your life away before you have a chance to live it."

"Easy words from a pig like you." His voice had softened, only slightly but it had softened. His fear was apparently beginning to overcome his defense.

Blair shook his head. "I'm not a pi- police officer," he said. "In fact I have a lot more in common with you than you could imagine."

The kid gave the obligatory 'yeah right' laugh, and shook his head again. "You're going to tell me you were arrested when you were a kid, right? Got caught shop lifting, or you stole a car so you know all about the 'horrors' of jail. Or maybe your folks yelled and hit you, so you can sympathise with what you think my home must be like for me to do such a thing?"

"No, I'm not." Blair gave him a sad smile. "What's your name anyway?"

"Mark."

Jim felt the sudden tension in Blair's body. His lover's heartrate skyrocketed, then after a moment it began slowly to fall again. He saw Blair give himself a tiny shake.

"Mark what?" Blair asked, his voice only trembling slightly, even though all he wanted to do was run out of the room.

"Mark Camden." The boy glanced over briefly, as if wondering what he had to lose or gain by telling them.

'Oh god.' Blair could feel himself go pale, feel the walls start closing in on him. With an apologetic look at Jim, he stood. "I have to--" Not finishing the thought, Blair was out of the door and down the hall to the men's room in the blink of an eye.

Jim gave the uniformed officer a look that told the man to stay here, keep an eye on the kid, and he followed Blair. It didn't take long to find his lover leaning against the wall of the bathroom, about to completely lose control.

He walked up and took Blair in his arms. "I've got you," he whispered, feeling Blair trembling violently. He could barely believe it, himself -- the same name, the same plans -- it was way past time to take Blair home and keep him safe from all of this.

He only wished he really could.

Blair held onto his lover as tight as he could as he tried to battle back the ghosts from his past. "That kid is me," he whispered shakily.

"No he's not," Jim countered. "He's what you would have been, if Naomi hadn't found you. You are *not* that kid."

Shaking his head violently, Blair protested, "You don't understand. He's me. *I'm* Mark Camden."

"What?" Jim looked down at Blair. He was obviously missing something... "You mean that's your old name?"

Mutely he nodded.

"My real name," he whispered, staring at the floor, unwilling to look up and see the emotions that must be passing over his partner's face.

Jim pulled his lover back into his arms, pressing him up against his chest. "Blair..." He couldn't decide which was more important -- that Blair's parents were behind this, that he had to get Blair away from all of this, or that Blair was scared, again, of telling him the truth. He put one hand on Blair's head, giving a barely interested glance at the officer who walked passed them towards the urinals.

"Come on." He kept a hold on Blair, but pulled him gently out to the hall.

Blair followed docilely, it being easier to go along than to make any decisions himself at the moment. His mind and soul were still reeling from this latest revelation.

Jim lead him back upstairs. Much as he wanted to leave this all behind until Blair had a chance to get a handle on things, they had to talk to Simon.


Previous Story: P.A.F.