Disclaimer: The Sentinel and it characters belong to Pet Fly, Paramount Productions, and UPN :-( I only took them out to play. No money was made.
First posted to the SentinelAngst List in January 2000. Edited and revised July2000.
Notes: Dues! Feedback welcome. Oh, yeah... no idea what comes next. I'm kind of stuck. Yes I know what's in the envelope;-) You guys get to know later. Ronnee
Many thanks to my betas ... Toni Rae and Hazel. How they manage with me overworking them, I really don't know.
Blair stared at his computer, a deep frown on his face. The message was one he had not expected to see. With a soft sigh, he logged off the Internet and shut down his lap top.
"Chief?" Jim's worried voice came through the open French doors. "What's wrong."
"Nothing." Blair's voice sounded distant. He glanced over to see his friend watching him, concern etched in every mannerism. "Really, Jim, it's nothing."
After a long moment, Jim nodded. "When you want to talk about, I'll listen."
He watched as the tall man left, back straight as if ready to shoulder the world. Sometimes, Blair mused, having a sentinel around was comforting. At others, like now when he wanted to curl up and not even begin to handle something, it was a real pain. Jim couldn't help it, though. Just as his senses were hardwired by his genetics, so was his protective streak. What nature and God had given him -- the protectiveness and the extraordinary senses -- all of Jim's training and inclination had honed to a fine edge. It meant that Blair, as Jim's guide, partner, friend, and roommate, was almost always under constant scrutiny.
Blair fought off another sigh as he contemplated his dilemma. He hadn't heard from his mother since the day she left Cascade in May. Sure, they didn't know each other's every move, but they always stayed in contact. The first rule Naomi had taught him was a simple one. Never disappear from Mom. She reciprocated by never disappearing from his life. He might not see her for months on end... The longest he had gone without seeing her was eight months, three days, and two hours, but he always heard from her during the periods when she was gone. It might be an E-mail from London, a post card from Nepal, a message from a friend of a friend who knew a professor Blair knew. It didn't matter, she always contacted him regularly. Very regularly. Until now.
He shook his head and grabbed a stack of papers from his desk. He had grading to finish. Later, after he was done, he could worry about his mother.
Once Blair was gone, Joel got up and headed for Ellison's desk. The other man looked up, the
welcoming smile disappearing once he saw the expression on the older man's face.
"What's wrong, Joel?"
"Nothing's wrong with me, Jim. I'm worried about Blair." Joel's voice was soft in deference to the sentinel's hearing.
"So am I." Ellison admitted. "I've asked but he isn't ready to talk about it."
"Will he be at the game tonight?" Rafe spoke up from his desk. A quick glance around the bullpen showed Joel that all of the detectives were quietly paying attention to the conversation. In a way, it reassured him that the others were as worried about their newest detective as he was. But on the other hand, the fact they were all worried by Blair's uncharacteristic quietness made it even more ominous. If something was wrong, he wanted it fixed and fast. Otherwise he was afraid the gentle young man who helped everyone else was going to be scarred permanently.
"Not tonight." Jim answered. "He finishes with his seminar at 3 and then he'll be spending the evening at Mr. Katzenmeister's."
"Is there another problem?" Joel bristled. Everyone in the station had heard about the tenant in 305. The quiet old man had lived at 852 Prospect longer than Jim. He was the first to protect Blair, calling 911 when Lash broke in and again when Jim's old covert ops buddies arrived. He was one of the ones who visited Jim and Blair when they ended up in the hospital. When Katzenmeister was attacked by a of gang neo-Nazi's, Jim had personally chosen the old man's guards during his hospital stay. Somehow, when the brass complained, Jim's quiet explanation had left them only too eager to shuffle schedules to accommodate Jim's request. Then, sentinel and guide had literally hunted the gang down. Even now, Joel could remember the sheer terror in the gang leader's face as he confessed to beating the old man. Word had gone out on the street almost immediately. According to the Gang Unit, Ellison and Sandburg were being called the "Dynamic Duo" and all the gangs knew better than to mess with the Duo's turf.
"Easy, Joel. He's fine. Hanukkah starts at dusk. Since his granddaughter had her baby early and isn't going to make it to Cascade, Blair is going to help him light the candles." Jim grinned at them. "You'll never guess what she named the kid."
"What's that, Jim?" Joel had to ask. It wasn't too often Jim looked both stunned and surprised. Hell, the younger man was blushing.
"Blair James. According to Mr. K"-- Jim grinned sheepishly again -- "his granddaughter wanted to meet us to thank us for last spring. Since she couldn't do that, she named the baby after us."
The men around room grinned, delighted at the honor bestowed on their comrades. They understood his embarassment as well as his pride. Even Simon grinned. For several minutes, the bullpen rang with congratulations and jokes at Jim's expense. The quiet conversation that had led to announcement was forgotten by most of the men in the room.
He did not believe in esoteric nonsense. He did not believe in psychic mumbo jumbo. He did not want to believe that he 'knew' it was time to give the damn envelope to Sandburg. He did not want to believe that he was actually following Naomi Sandburg's instructions. The woman was a flake! And this was going to hurt his friend. He 'knew' it was but he could not leave the envelope in the bank box any longer.
The bank manager jumped when he heard the low, bass growl coming from the police captain. He had no idea what made the man so angry about getting an envelope out of his safe deposit box, but he knew better than to ask. Instead, he watched as the big man stalked out of the bank and sighed his relief.
"Not only is it annoying that you open the door before I knock," the grumble reverberated through the loft as Simon hung his coat on an empty coat hook. The words were in direct contrast to the wry grin on his face as he entered the kitchen. "It's doubly annoying when you leave it open so I can get in while you finish cooking."
"Sorry, Simon." Jim's grin was unrepentant and he knew it. After placing he roast on the counter, he turned to meet the captain's amused eyes. "Beer?"
"Yes." Simon accepted the bottle with a sigh. "Does Sandburg know I'm going to be here?"
"No. I couldn't think of a good way to tell him about that thing." Jim gestured at the envelope sitting on the coffee table where Simon had placed it. He turned back to the roast, placing it on a cutting board. "We should have given it to him a long time ago."
"It's my responsibility, Jim." Simon took a long pull on the beer before continuing, "I should have given it to Blair as soon as Naomi gave it to me. I didn't. I'm not sure why I locked it away -- I just did."
"Simon, I could have reminded you." Jim's words trailed away as Blair came into the loft.
"I'm back, Jim. Give me a minute to wash up and I'll help you with dinner. Oh, hey, Simon." Blair's eyes grew wide as he noticed the other man. "Do we have a new case?"
"No, Sandburg. JIm invited me to dinner." Simon's gruff reply made the younger man relax.
"Oh, cool." A genuine smile grew on Blair's face. "I didn't know. Um..."
"Go wash up, Chief." At Jim's quiet admonition, Blair nodded. "Simon, could you finish setting the table?"
Simon didn't say a word as he grabbed the silverware and began placing it on the table. Even here, in the safety of the loft, Blair moved without his normal, fluid grace. Instead, he seemed exhausted, completely worn out.
"It's for you." Jim's words caught his guide by surprise.
The slowness with which he took the phone was marked by Jim's worried eyes. Lately, between the calls to old friends trying to locate Naomi, Internet searches for her missing website and her new e-mail address, the two senior seminars he was teaching, and his official hours at the the Cascade PD, Blair seemed like he was wading through thickened air. He knew his guide couldn't keep this up. Worried, the sentinel tuned into the conversation.
"Dr. Blair Sandburg."
"Oh, sweetie, I didn't know you'd gotten your degree."
The unfamiliar voice made Blair smile. He walked over to the couch and sat down on it. "Hi, Aunt Lety. You got my message. Have you heard from Naomi?"
"No, baby." The older woman's voice sounded down. "A lot of people are looking for her. She never arrived at the retreat in Surinam. She was supposed to teach a class on meditation and yoga. Neither Naomi or I ever gave out your number so I'm not surprised you weren't told."
"When was that?" Blair grabbed a sheet of paper from the coffee table, knocking a big envelope to the floor. Pulling a pen from his pocket, he paused, looking at the writing on the envelope in dismay. A thought visibly pushed its way into his mind -- one that caused him to pale and his heart to begin racing. "Lety? Has anyone seen or heard from Mom since May?"
"No, Blair. The last time I heard from her, she was about to leave Cascade for Surinam. She was supposed to meet me there. She never even caught her flight. I thought she would show up later. When I got home, I decided not to stir up trouble."
Blair placed the envelope on the table, fingers tracing the black letters of his name. "Who else is missing? What aren't you telling me?"
"Your uncle Ramses died the same day she disappeared. Cammie and Julian... they showed up at the retreat, told me they were going walkabout and vanished." The older woman's sadness was audible over the phone lines. "I'm not disappearing, love. No one would want me. It's easier for them to leave me alone and just watch."
"Are you in any trouble? I have friends who can help." Blair offered. The sofa sagged as Jim joined him, silently offering his support. "They can..."
"No, baby, I'm not in any trouble. I've been a normal, happily married yuppie for longer than you were in college. Everyone knows me. I'm safe." Lety's words were quiet, but there was no regret in them. "What about you? Are you safe?"
"Lety... I'm a consultant and a detective for the local police department." Blair grinned at the older woman's indrawn breath. He met Jim's eyes as he announced. "I'm very safe here."
"If you need anything, anything at all, call me. Take my cell number and my work numbers..." Blair fought another grin as he rattled off the phone numbers. Jim wondered curiously if the woman would dare call the PD voice mail number. "Anything unusual and you call me. If I'm not there, leave a message at the Major Crimes department. They'll know how to reach me."
"Take care of yourself with all of those policemen," Lety warned him. "I love you, sweetie."
"I love you, too, Lety." He hung up and set the phone on the table. He closed his eyes, letting his thoughts go over the too-brief conversation. Uncle Ramses was gone. So were his cousins, Cammie and Julian. Only Aunt Leticia, the only Sandburg without the wanderlust, could be found. The fact that she was happily married to a retired British officer might have something to do with it. They must be close to their 40th anniversary. Even with Uncle Chris being that old, he doubted anyone wanted to mess with an ex-SAS colonel.
He sat up, grabbing the phone and dialing. There was another line of the family... The operator came on the line, advising him that the number had been disconnected. Blair couldn't stop the words that slipped out, "They're all gone, Jim."
"Who, Chief?" Jim's eyes were watching him, worrying.
"The rest of my family. They're missing." He grabbed the envelope and began to open it. "When did it get here?"
"Missing? Gone? How could your entire family be gone?"
Simon's voice startled him. He had forgotten the captain was there. He looked at Jim. Seeing the thoughtful, calculating look on the sentinel's face he knew the other man had listened to the conversation. With a sigh Blair decided he might as well tell them. "Mom and the others move to stay safe. I don't know why. When I was little, Mom said it was to keep the pigs from catching us... that they hated us because we were free. Then she told me that they would never dare touch me. And they didn't. Even after I came to Rainier, whoever Mom was afraid of left me alone. I thought she was paranoid." He stared down at the envelope, his eyes sad and fierce at the same time. His face was frighteningly calm when he looked up and demanded forcefully. "When did this get here?"
"Naomi gave it to me before she left Cascade."
"She what?" Blair stared at the big man, seeing a reflection of Jim's worry in Simon's eyes. "Why didn't you give it to me then?"
"You were at the academy." Simon's words were distracted as he thought over the events. "She told me to give the envelope to you when the timing was right. Then I forgot about it."
"Oh, she probably fed you tea and fresh baked herb bread, too." Blair could just see it. He had learned a long time ago that Naomi would do whatever she deemed necessary to protect her son.
"Are you saying your mother slipped me something?" The captain was not amused.
"No, sir." He didn't want to go there. It was too late to worry about
it anyway. Blair's eyes focused on the single sheet of paper and a pair
of battered, ancient manila files that he pulled out of the padded envelope.
He set the files down, noting distantly that several knotted strings kept
their bulging contents from falling out. The paper was covered with his
If you're reading this, it must be time. Captain Banks would only give this to you if I've been gone too long and you're asking questions. I knew this time would come, I just didn't know it would come so soon. I'm sorry I couldn't give this to you myself. The time just never came that I could be there, discuss it and answer all the questions you would have. I have so much trouble dealing with the subject on my own that I know I could never handle trying to explain it to you. The file has everything in it. I miss you already. No matter what else happens, know that my spirit is right next to you, cheering you on and protecting you the best that it can.
Blair looked at the first file. The faded ink read: Patient Naomi Sandburg 01/20/69. The second, handwritten by Naomi, read: My Son. He closed his eyes. Did he really want the answer to his questions. Did it matter any more? From the sound of it, his mother was gone. Should he let it go? Risk never knowing who his father was? Maybe it was something he should never ask. Naomi's letter made the time surrounding his birth sound bad. Could he let it go? Let his mother's memory stay as it always had been?
His decision made, Blair opened his eyes. Jim and Simon were watching him, waiting. He handed the files to Jim and stood. "I'm going for a walk. I don't want these here when I get back. If you want to keep them, you can. Otherwise, burn them."
Blair could feel the confusion of the two men as he headed for the door. They didn't understand, but he had learned over the past few years that there were some things it was best not to know. The feeling he got from the two bulging files was one of dread and danger. He had learned, the hard way, not to dismiss that feeling. Pulling on his coat, he went out.
"Simon, I think it's time to put out a missing persons report on Naomi." The words were soft.
"What about Sandburg?" Simon was worried about Jim's seeming lack of concern.
"He said he would be back. Blair never lies to me. Not about something like that." The steely certainty in the words made Simon flinch. Jim continued, "I'll give him his space. When he gets back, we'll talk. Probably all night."
"I think I'll lock this thing back in my safe deposit box." Simon reached for the envelope.
"No. I'll take care of it, sir." Jim's hand rested lightly on the envelope but there was nothing light about his tone. "Blair gave it to me. It's my turn to guard the thing."
The young man never saw the shadow that followed him, staying just a little behind and to the side. The shadow began to draw closer when another shadow stepped forward, menacing the first one.
"Alexei. What are you doing here?"
"Making sure you leave them alone." Krycek didn't look over to see if Sandburg had continued his walk. He knew the younger man was still going at his fast pace. Soon, he would be too far ahead for Bracket to bother. "We have our orders."
"I want to know what Captain Banks took them." Brackett spoke calmly. In the past months, he had learned not to antagonize his partner. It was always a painful experience.
"Whatever it was is unimportant. What is important is waiting for Naomi Sandburg to show up. She's late." The thin young man's words were soft. His eyes were not. They threatened Brackett. "If she shows up, we need to know immediately."
"If?" Brackett's attention had caught the hesitation. "I thought it was definite that she would show up in Cascade."
"There is a very good possibility that she's dead." Krycek smiled grimly. "Her actions last May were those of a desperate woman. Why else would she try to publish her son's dissertation? She knew she was in danger. She wanted to make sure Blair Sandburg was either established enough for us to leave him alone or he had no reason to stay in Cascade and be a target."
"What haven't you told me?" Brackett's fury was nearly burning him up. He had been left out of the loop and he didn't like it.
Krycek smiled again and turned away. Before Brackett could respond to the silent dismissal, the other man was gone.
The Envelope Series part 2.
To The Envelope Series part 1: Conversations in Cascade
To The Envelope Series part 3: The Envelope