From Part 3
“Now, listen,” Jim crouched down next to Blair before they stepped into the elevator to take the ride up to Major Crime, “I have to go speak to Simon so I want you to stay at my desk and not wander off, okay? I brought some crayons and paper so you can do some drawing while you’re waiting for me.”
“Good.” Jim looked him over critically. The clothes Mrs. Masters had been kind enough to lend them were a little big but they’d do for now. He ruffled Blair’s curls then took his hand and led him into the elevator.
“Hey, guys.” Jim sketched a wave at the rest of the MC team seated around the bullpen as he led Blair as nonchalantly as possible over to his own desk. He lifted the kid onto his chair and turned around to find himself up close and personal with Henri Brown.
“Hey, Jim,” Henri said, leaning around Jim to get a closer look at his companion, “who’s the little guy?”
“Oh. Um, this is Blair’s cousin’s kid.” Figuratively crossing his fingers and all of his toes against the multitude of lies he was about to tell his friends, Jim waved Rafe and Joel Taggart over. “Guys, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine. You remember Blair’s cousin, Robert. Well, this is Robert’s son, little Blair.” He shrugged. “Apparently Blair’s a family name. Sandburg had to go out of town and by then the little guy was already here so I said I’d keep an eye on him till Sandburg gets back home.”
“You did?” Rafe sounded skeptical but Joel nodded and patted Jim’s shoulder. “That’s real nice of you, Jim,” he said, walking over to bend down and shake Blair’s hand.
“Wow, he even looks like Blair,” Rafe said, giving the kid a closer look. “You sure he’s not- Ooph! What’d you hit me for?” he asked Henri, turning an aggrieved look on his partner.
“Because I knew what you were gonna ask, Detective Tactless, and you can’t say stuff like that in front of the kid,” Henri replied. He gave Blair a broad smile then whispered to Jim, “I have to say Rafe’s right though. You sure he’s- Ooph!”
Rafe grinned as he patted Henri’s midsection where’d he’d elbowed him.
“Enough of the Two Stooges routine, you two,” Jim said, holding up a hand and giving them a baleful glare. “I don’t want the kid thinking it’s okay to hit people.”
“Sorry,” Rafe and Brown said at the same time, sounding mostly contrite, Jim thought.
“Robert and Blair look a lot alike,” Jim went on, “so it’s only natural that Robert’s son might look a bit like Blair.” He turned as the door to Simon’s office opened. “Be with you in just a moment, sir. Listen, guys I’ve got this meeting with the Captain and the Feebs for about an hour. Can you keep an eye on Blair for me till I’m through?”
“Sure thing, Jim.” Joel tousled Blair’s hair. “We’d love to spend some time with the little guy, wouldn’t we?”
“Sure,” Rafe replied, “not like we haven’t had to keep Big Blair in line for you a time or two after all.”
“You sure about this, Joel?” Henri asked. “Remember Sandburg giving you the slip by feeding you that ostrich chili of his when Jim was missing that time?”
Joel seemed to shudder at the memory but he smiled at Jim. “Go on, Jim. The kid’ll be fine with us. Can he have a snack from the machine if he’s hungry?”
“Yeah, okay, just something reasonably healthy, okay?” Jim agreed, mentally balking at the thought of having to deal with a small Blair hyped on chocolate and sugar. He crouched in front of Blair and put the little backpack he’d bought him on the way in to work on his lap. “Okay, Chief, your books and crayons are in here. The guys will get you something to eat and drink and I want you to be real good and do what they say, all right?”
Jim stood up and turned to walk away, stopping short as a small hand grabbed his pants leg. He looked back to see tears welling up in Blair’s eyes.
“I want to go with you,” Blair said, the tears already turning to sobs.
“Remember I told you that you have to stay here with our friends,” Jim said, looking over his shoulder to see Simon glancing at his watch impatiently. “Blair, please, I’ll just be in there, okay? Come on, big guy, help me out here, huh?”
Blair sniffled and wiped his nose and eyes on his sleeve making Jim grimace and hand him a tissue from the box on his desk. “Okay,” Blair said at last.
“Attaboy,” Jim said, giving him a hug. “Thanks, guys,” he said, walking across to Simon’s office.
Blair looked up from the picture he was drawing and saw Jim talking to Simon and another man in the office across the way. The men Jim had left him with were busy at their own desks now, talking to strange people Blair didn’t know. He was bored. He also needed to go to the bathroom but he didn’t want anyone but Jim to take him. Maybe he could go by himself though. Jim would be proud of him for not bothering anyone, he decided. Mind made up, he quietly climbed down from the chair and walked across the bullpen and into the hall. The elevator was there, its doors standing open as if waiting for him and Blair went inside. The only button he could reach was the one that had a big G on it so he pushed it then left the elevator once it stopped on the designated floor. It was a garage he saw as he looked around. There were cars and trucks parked all over as well as some vehicles driving in and out. Something about the place seemed a little familiar and he shivered with fear as the image of something bright and fiery glimmered in the corner of his eye.
“Hey, kid, what are you doing down here all alone?”
Blair whirled around and looked up into the kind face of a man with long dark hair pulled back into a braid. The man kneeled down in front of him and put a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“Well, well, young Blair,” the man said. “I’m Dan. I’m a friend though I suppose you might not remember me?”
Blair shook his head.
“Well, you’re a long way from your Sentinel, young Guide. Come with me and I’ll take you back to him.” Dan held out his hand and stood up and Blair took it willingly. He didn’t like this place. He really needed to go to the bathroom now and he wanted Jim to take him. Dan said he would take him to Jim and that was all Blair needed to hear. Dan led him back to the elevator. "Great," he said. "Elevator's gone. Guess we'll take the stairs. You need me to carry you?
Blair shook his head firmly and followed Dan into the stairwell.
“Gypsies,” Dan muttered as they started to climb the stairs.
Jim stood up and stretched. They’d almost hammered out the details now. There was a lull in the discussion as Simon and Special Agent Norris talked quietly about the finer points of setting up the task force. Jim wandered over to the window and lifted the blind a little so he could check on Blair. And froze. The chair at his desk was empty. Tamping down his surge of panic, Jim pulled the blind all the way up and scanned the bullpen. Nothing. No sign of Blair. Heart now in his throat, Jim turned and interrupted Simon. “Sir, sorry, I just need to go check on something.”
Simon stood up, worry evident in his dark eyes. “You okay, Jim?”
Jim nodded as he walked towards the door, anxious to get out of the office. “Yes, fine, sir. I should be back in a few minutes.”
Understanding dawned in Simon’s eyes. “Go,” he said.
Jim did. Stepping out into the bullpen he took a careful look around, his sight arrowing in to check beneath desks and in the shadowed corners of the room. He turned in a slow circle, making sure he hadn’t missed anything then called out, “Hey, guys, where’s the kid?”
“At your desk,” Henri replied absently, not looking up from the report he was painstakingly typing into his computer.
“Yeah, he was right there-“ Rafe stood up and turned away from the person he was interviewing, pointing a finger over at Jim’s vacant desk. “Crap!” he said, hurrying over and getting down on his knees to peer beneath the desk. “I swear I only took my eyes off him for a moment.”
Jim swore softly then took off out the door, panic lending wings to his feet. He stopped in the hallway, not sure where he should start to look. “Use your senses,” said Blair’s adult voice in his head and Jim acted on its advice almost without thinking. Centering himself, willing his panic to subside, he took in a deep cleansing breath then exhaled slowly and sent his hearing ranging out, searching for his Guide’s voice.
“Are you Jim’s friend?”
“Yes, and yours too.”
Jim grinned as he recognized the second voice. He focused on where it was coming from then took off for the stairs at run. He’d gone as far as the lobby with no sign of them and his panic was starting to rise again when he saw Blair walking up from the steps, his hand held by Dan Wolf. Jim heaved a heartfelt sigh of relief then sat down on the step and waited for them to reach him.
“Jim!” Blair called as he caught sight of him. He let go of Dan’s hand and bounded up the steps into Jim’s arms. “You got lost,” he said accusingly as Jim hugged him then sat him on his knee.
Jim arched an eyebrow up at Dan and grinned. “*I* did? Seems like I was exactly where I was supposed to be, Chief. I told *you* to stay at my desk.”
“But I had to go,” Blair replied, apparently the logic of that making perfect sense. “I can go by myself, you know.”
“I’m sure you can but you got lost getting there, didn’t you?” Jim stood up, putting Blair down. He held out his hand to Dan. “Thanks,” he said. “Blair’s cousin’s kid. Got stuck babysitting.”
Dan nodded. “Right,” he said. “Um, you might want to get him to the bathroom soon,” he added. “I don’t think he actually got there.” He smiled down at Blair then crouched down in front of him and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Stay close to your Sentinel, young Guide. That’s your place for now.” Then he stood up and winked at Jim. “See ya, Jim. Got to get back to work.”
Jim shook his head as he watched Dan hurry back down the stairs. Somehow he wasn’t too surprised that Dan knew about his Sentinel abilities or who Blair really was.
“I still have to go, Jim,” Blair piped up and Jim laughed then scooped him up and sat him on his shoulders. “One bathroom run coming up,” he said as he turned and galloped back up the stairs, Blair giggling as they went.
He grabbed hold of Blair’s hand as soon as he came out of the bathroom stall and kept it firmly in his as they made their way back to the bullpen. Simon greeted them at the door, reaching down to ruffle Blair’s hair as he handed over his backpack to him. “Still a trouble magnet, kid, aren’t you?” he murmured just loud enough for Sentinel ears to hear. He shook his head as Blair beamed a megawatt Sandburg smile up at him then turned to Jim. “Lucky for you Norris is a family man. He said we can go with what we’d already discussed so far. The Agency will be in touch about how we go about interfacing our computers next week. Look, Jim, how about you take a few days off? Get this stuff sorted with Sandburg as well as you can…” The look on his face made it pretty clear that Simon had no more idea how Jim was going to do that than Jim did himself.
Jim nodded. He really couldn’t just expect the guys to watch Blair while he worked after all and he had no idea how the kid would cope if he left him with a babysitter. Jim sighed. “Come on, Chief, there’s someone we need to see before we head home. Sorry, Simon, I’ll call you tomorrow, or before if anything changes.”
Simon sketched a wave and turned away and walked back to his office.
“Where we going?” Blair asked as he skipped along next to Jim, trying to keep up with his long strides.
“To see Dan, the man who brought you to me just before,” Jim replied, heading straight into the elevator as it arrived and letting Blair press the button for the basement where the morgue was. Once they got there, he had Blair sit on a bench seat in the hallway holding his backpack, then he stuck his head inside the doorway to the morgue and called Dan out to meet them.
“Hey, Jim, hey, Blair,” the tall Native American said as he stepped into the hallway and closed the door behind him. He held up a hand as Jim started to speak. “I have a gift,” he explained, “I see things others may not. My grandma called it a discerning spirit. I’ve known about your Sentinel abilities almost as long as you have and I knew the moment I saw him,” he pointed at Blair, “who he really was. I can also tell you it’s a Gypsy spell. The one thing I can’t tell you is how to reverse it. I don’t even know if it can be.”
“The Gypsy who did this to him sent me a note saying “the adult is safe within”,” Jim said, paraphrasing the contents of the note Blair had given him when he’d first turned up at the loft as a downsized version of his former self. “I took that to mean it could be reversed. The note said the Gypsies were teaching me to be patient.” He grimaced. “I have to admit I wasn’t on my best behavior when I met up with them but if you know anything about Sentinels, Dan, you know I need my Guide. I don’t think this Blair can do that. I need him back the way he was.”
“A Guide will always be a Guide,” Dan said solemnly. He smiled. “Something else my discerning spirit tells me. I think Blair will be able to guide you no matter what age he is. That being said, it sounds like this wasn’t meant to be permanent. Maybe you could go find the Gyspy who did this, convince her that you’ve learned your lesson and ask her to reverse the spell. I’m pretty sure she’s the only one who can.”
“Good thinking.” Jim shook Dan’s hand, feeling more hopeful than he had in a while. He was a detective after all. How hard could it be for him to track down people who stood out as much as the Gypsies did? “Thanks, Dan.” He scooped Blair up into his arms and carried him back to the elevator. He let him push the button again, this time for the garage then they headed for the truck and for home.
By the time they got back to the loft, Blair was asleep, his head resting against the side window, a thin line of drool snaking down over his chin. Jim grimaced as he wiped the drool off with a tissue then lifted Blair out of the truck and into his arms. He crossed his fingers that the elevator was working for a change and heaved out a relieved sigh when it was. Upstairs, he put Blair into his bed, pulled off his shoes and covered him with his quilt then he snuck out into the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge in anticipation of a couple of hours downtime in front of the TV before Blair woke up and needed lunch. He didn't usually drink this early but it had been one hell of a day and he figured he deserved one beer. He picked up a pen and paper from the telephone table on his way past. He wanted to start making notes on how to track down the Gypsies so he could get working on it the next day. He’d just sat down on the couch when the phone rang and, worried it would wake Blair, he raced across and grabbed it on the second ring.
“Hi, Jim, it’s me, Naomi. Can I talk to Blair, please?”
Jim swallowed down his momentary panic. “He’s sleeping at the moment, Naomi. You know Blair. Up too late marking papers. I keep telling him he needs to try to get to bed earlier.”
“Oh I know what you mean. I’m glad he’s resting at least. I’ll just pop up anyway and then I can surprise him when he gets up.” She trilled out a giggle and Jim felt his heart plummet to the soles of his feet as the meaning of her words sunk in.
“Up?” he asked, hearing the tenor of his voice rise at least an octave. “Where are you?”
“I’m downstairs, silly. Blair didn’t tell you I was coming for a visit? I guess he’s been too busy to even think about it. Okay, see you in a minute, Jim.”
Jim found himself looking at the disconnected phone in his hand for at least ten seconds before his brain kicked into gear and he really started to panic. “Shit,” he muttered, upending the beer bottle and draining the contents then going to the kitchen to toss the empty into the recycling bin beneath the sink. He grabbed Blair’s little backpack and hid it behind the couch then went and waited casually by the open front door as if this hadn’t just turned into absolutely the worst day of his entire life.