A small piece of this story was originally posted under Laura Picken's Birthday challenge last March under the title, 'When Worlds Collide'. However, with all the season enders, things were left pretty mixed up this summer. Thus, I have had to come up with theories and, in some instances, end runs to set up this story. For The Sentinel, I am assuming with the rest of the fandom that Blair is 'just damp', that things will be resolved in a satisfactory manner in the second part of 'Sentinel, Too' (whenever we get to see it), and go on from there. With Early Edition, I am still in shock that Chuck left, so I will assume this story happens before he moves to LA. With Due South, well, that one is a stumper. I don't even want to touch much of that ending with a ten foot pole, especially Francesca's 'immaculate conceptions'. SO, I am also placing this story before that ender, where Stanley Ray Kolwalski is still posing as Ray Vecchio while the real Ray is off working undercover. Since I don't even remember the last episode of 'Father Dowling Mysteries', I'm assuming Frank and Steve are still serving the people of St. Michael's.
I wish to extend my thanks to several people: Laura P. whose comments while editing 'Coatlicue' that gave me the idea for this story; Zadra, for lending me her idea of Fraser and Blair meeting before (I'm still hoping to talk her into writing that story someday), for pulling me off the ceiling when I occasionally hit it, and for keeping my characterizations in line; Sharon for her continuing encouragement; Rona, for corrections and suggestions; Sealie, who made suggestions to the original 'When Worlds Collide' section; Wolfpup for her final comments and for posting this and my other stories; and to all the wonderful people who emailed me asking if this story was done yet. I greatly appreciate your interest in my humble work.
Disclaimer: Most of characters are not mine. I'm borrowing them out of deep reverence, affection and respect. I will accept only personal fulfillment, and no monetary gain. If you do sue, you will not get much and I will send over my Black Lab mix, who will stare at you pathetically with his big brown eyes for hours, and probably con you out of all your food.Rated PG, mostly for language
Please send any comments to email@example.com
Enjoy the ride.
Sean A. Malloy, better known as Sam, sat in the passenger seat of a Mustang rubbing his forehead. He had forgotten how much of a pain hangovers were. Of course, Terry's driving wasn't helping. Every weave Terry made through the Chicago traffic rolled through Sam's aching head and queasy stomach.
Terry Collins glanced over to his friend, his dark brown eyes concerned. "You doing okay?"
"Yeah," Sam drawled. "Just remind me not to drink that much again, okay?"
Terry chuckled. "We didn't drink that much. You're out of practice."
"Well," Sam replied with his eyes closed, "I'm also tired. First, I stayed up all night to finish my story so I could turn it in. Then that plane ride from Mexico was too rough to sleep through. Then we've been on the run since I landed. I'm not even sure what time I fell asleep last night." They had talked long into the night, reminiscing and catching up on the last two years.
"Oh, I think you dozed off a little after 3:30."
Sam opened one eye to squint at the dashboard clock. It was only 7:40 am. No wonder he was dragging. "Can you tell me again why we are meeting Father Dowling so early?"
"It was the only time we could meet to discuss the final details. We're lucky he has time for the rehearsal tomorrow morning. He has two other weddings, plus a funeral this weekend."
"Wasn't that a movie?" Sam yawned.
"No, that was 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'. Father Frank is one short."
"Are Dave and Sunny meeting us at the church?"
"Dave, Sunny ..." Terry paused. "And Sunny's mother."
"Oh man," Sam moaned, sinking lower in the seat. "No offense, but your future mother-in-law hates my guts."
Terry chuckled, remembering Mrs. Lawrence's face when he had told her who his best man would be. "She is still positive that you were running a 'den of sin' out of your apartment senior year."
"Right," Sam groaned sarcastically. "With work, school, and Mrs. Farrell nearby? The few times I had a girl at my place, she'd be over in 10 minutes to deliver cookies and meet 'the young lady'. Then after the girl had left I'd get some version of the 'safest sex is abstinence' lecture. I wouldn't have dared do anything there."
"Not according to Mrs. L," Terry smirked. "She's still positive you were taking Sunny to your apartment when you two were dating, doing 'who knows what'." Terry was trying hard not to laugh. Sam has always been one of the straightest guys he knew.
Sam carefully shook his head. "She always felt I was dirt, since I was an orphan without a father. Nothing I did could change her mind." He flashed a smile at his friend. "Good thing you have two rich, successful parents."
"Very lucky," Terry agreed. "By the way, the only time Mom has broken her 'Groom's mother wears beige and keeps her mouth shut' rule was to stick up for you."
"Great," Sam moaned, eyes closed again. "I don't want to make trouble for her. Your mom has always been nice to me."
"Mom can handle it." Terry flashed another glance at his friend as he turned off the main street. "Can you? You're looking green."
Sam shrugged. "I think the Alka Seltzer is kicking in. I'll be okay. I'll just be like your mom and keep my mouth shut."
"As long as you aren't wearing beige," Terry laughed. "Sunny would have a cow."
Sam carefully stepped out of the air-conditioned car, feeling the muggy Chicago air wrap itself around him like a blanket. For an instant, he wished he was back in Mexico. At least the Mexican heat was dry. He straightened his shoulders. I just have to get through the next three days. Once Sunny and Terry are married, I can fly to Cascade and spend some time with Blair at the cabin. The thought of laughing with his brother in the cool mountain air gave him the energy surge he needed.
He glanced at his camera case sitting behind the seat. No, I don't even want to think about trying to keep a camera steady this morning. I'll wait until the rehearsal.
Following Terry up the walk, Sam surveyed the stone church from behind his sunglasses. St. Michael's Church had not changed since the last time he had seen it. Its solid bulk was comforting in its stability. Sam had a feeling he would need that comfort. Inside, the old church felt cool and pleasant. By the alter, an older woman was directing two young women on where to place various floral bouquets. Must be for the first wedding.
As they entered Father Frank's office, Sam was immediately hit by Mrs. Lawrence's glare. Thankfully, Sunny bounced over to him, giving him a big hug. "How's the world traveler?" she asked, straight blond hair swinging around her shoulders.
"Tired," Sam replied with his quiet smile.
Sunny gave her fiancee a playful glare. "Didn't you let him get any sleep last night?"
"Of course I did!" Terry defended himself.
Terry squirmed under her playful glare. "Oh at least,... perhaps,... well, maybe... three hours."
"Terry!" Sunny scolded, "You two better promise me right now you will get a full eight the night before the wedding. I want you looking good for the pictures."
"And here I thought you were worried about our health," Terry teased.
Sunny struggled to keep her serious look, but lost. "That, too," she admitted with a smile.
"Why are YOU here?" Mrs. Lawrence broke in, still glaring at Sam.
"He's with me today, Mrs. Lawrence," Terry replied.
"Why don't I just wait outside?" Sam suggested, feeling the tension rise.
Sunny shook her head, "You don't need to..."
"It's okay," Sam shrugged, trying to ignore the growing headache. "Maybe I can take a nap while I wait."
"If you didn't lead such a wild life..."
Sam quickly ducked out of the office, not noticing Father Frank's approach or his concerned look. Walking down a short hall, he gratefully dropped down onto a smooth wooden bench. He reflected on just how long three days could be.
A few minutes later, a warm voice broke into his thoughts, "You look like someone who could use an iced tea."
Sam shot upright, his quiet smile spreading across his face. "Sister Steve!" he greeted the slim young nun. He stood up as she set the tray on the nearby table, giving her a hug.
"How's the world traveler?" Steve asked, noting the tired eyes.
"Kinda wishing I was back in Mexico," Sam sighed.
Steve poured him a glass of ice tea. "Because of the humidity, or is Mrs. Lawrence giving you a hard time?"
Sam took the glass and sat back down on the bench. "A little of both."
Steve shrugged. "She's a woman with strong opinions." Taking another glance at Sam, she decided to change the subject. "Oh, thanks for the postcard from Guadalajara. I have it taped to the wall in my room."
"You're welcome," Sam gave her a grateful smile.
"Are you heading back there after the wedding?"
"No, I plan to spend a few days in Cascade, WA."
Steve pondered that for a moment before her eyes lit up. "Oh yeah, that's where your new brother is. You going for a visit?"
"Yeah, I want to spend some time with him." Steve could see the worry flash through her friend's eyes. "We nearly lost him a few weeks ago. Made me realize how much I want to get to know him better."
"Lost him?" Steve frowned.
Sam stared at his hands. "I don't know all the details. Apparently some woman Blair was helping at the University was a high-tech burglar and decided he knew too much. She nearly drowned him."
"That's awful," Steve exclaimed. "Is he okay now?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah, though he's complaining that his roommate is practically hovering over him. Blair's like a kid brother to Jim, so this whole thing really scared him."
"Looks like it scared you, too," Steve observed.
Sam shrugged. "I guess I've realized just how much I don't want to lose him, either." Wishing desperately to change the subject again, Sam spotted two men with an urn. "You guys getting into pottery now?"
Steve glanced over her shoulder. "Oh, that's Mr. Flesch."
"Which one is Mr. Flesch?" Sam studied the two beefy men dressed in dark suits. They have to be really hot.
"They're Mr. Flesch's nephews. Mr. Flesch is in the urn." Steve replied respectfully, trying not to chuckle.
Sam dropped his face into his hands. "This is DEFINITELY not my day," he mumbled.
Before Steve could say anything, a voice called out, echoing through the church, "Hey Sam! Steve!"
Sam looked up and smiled as he caught sight of the tall blond. "Hi, Dave."
"How's it going? Where's Terry and Sunny?"
"They're in with Father Frank," Steve explained.
"Let me guess. The dragon lady is in there with them?"
"Yep," Sam smiled. "You just get in from Detroit?"
Dave nodded excitedly. "Ready for a fun weekend, wishing a farewell to our dear friend's departing bachelorhood."
The door to the study opened, allowing a bouncing Terry out the door. "Hi Dave! You guys ready to book?"
"Sure," Dave replied. "But can we have breakfast first?
Sam tried not to turn green while Terry shook his head. "No, not yet. We have things to do, places to go. How about a breakfast bar?" He tossed the cellophane wrapped rectangle to Dave, who missed the catch. The bar hit the floor, sliding under the bench Sam was sitting on.
Shaking his head at Terry's bad throw and Dave's non-catch, Sam knelt down to retrieve Dave's breakfast. Ducking his head under the bench, Sam's eyes were immediately drawn to the blinking red lights flashing 32:42, then 32:41. He could just barely make out the box behind it. Within an instant, all of Sam's woes were forgotten. Damn, oops, sorry Lord. He pulled back. "Steve? I think you better evacuate the building. Terry, call the police."
"Huh?" Terry asked.
Sister Steve added. "What's wrong?"
"I just found a bomb."
In the rushed chaos to leave the church, a hand swiftly reached under the bench with the bomb. It pulled back, holding a pin of a golden eagle with sparkling green jewels for eyes.
"So, the Canadian one dollar is not a bill, but a coin?" the blond man asked, stopping his car as the light changed from yellow to red. The detective currently known as Ray Vecchio turned to his friend in the other seat, sipping on a straw as he waited for the answer.
"That is correct, Ray," confirmed the tall man dressed in a red Canadian Mounted Police uniform. "It is brass in color, slightly larger than your American quarter and slightly smaller than our two dollar coin."
"You guys have a two dollar coin, too?" Ray repeated. He pushed back the nose of his friend's wolf, who was trying to get a bite of his doughnut from the back seat. "We tried a two dollar bill a while back, but it just didn't catch on. For that matter, neither did the Suzy B."
"The Suzy B?" Benton Fraser asked, puzzled. Then he stared into the eyes of the deaf wolf who was still trying for the doughnut. "No, Diefenbaker. That is RAY'S breakfast."
"Thanks. Anyways, the Suzy B is the one dollar American coin with a picture of Susan B. Anthony on it. The problem was the coin was silver like the quarter and almost the same size. People kept mixing them up."
"That does sound rather short-sighted."
"Yeah," Ray started to reply when he was interrupted.
*Attention all personnel in the vicinity of the corners of Main and Beaumont. There has been a report of a bomb in St. Michael's church.*
"St. Michael's!" Ray exclaimed. "That was my grandma's church!"
"Isn't Beaumont street..." Fraser began.
"Only a few blocks from here," Ray stated as he slipped his emergency light onto the car roof. Fraser grabbed the armrest as his friend quickly turned right.
The street in front of St. Michael's was soon filled with police cars, vans, and fire trucks. Sam was most thankful when the bomb squad ran into the church. He took another glance at his watch. The squad had fifteen minutes.
"Do you think this is a bomb like Oklahoma City?" Sunny asked worriedly. They were standing under a tree near the church, just outside the yellow tape the police had just strung up.
"No, it wasn't very big and you need a lot of fertilizer and fuel oil for a bomb like Oklahoma. This one looked a lot more sophisticated," Sam answered absently, rubbing his eyes with his hands. His headache had grown, the muggy heat was getting worse, and he hated the idea of the church blowing up. Deep in his own misery, he missed the patrol officer walking up behind them.
"C-4, maybe?" Terry asked as he studied the firemen pulling hoses out the back of a tanker.
"I don't think so," Sam replied. "It was in a box, and I don't think they usually put C-4 in a box."
"How do you know what the bomb looked like?" the police officer demanded behind them.
They all turned. "I was the one who found it," Sam explained, noting the zealous look on the man's face and becoming uneasy.
"Then why do you know so much about bombs?" the officer sternly questioned.
Sam carefully shrugged. "I don't know that much, except what my Dad's told me."
"Why exactly would your father know about bombs?"
"He's a demolition's expert."
"Oh, really. How convenient that you found the bomb, then."
Sam frowned. "Wait a minute..."
"That's him, detective!" Mrs. Lawrence declared, pointing at Sam. The group turned to see the steaming mother leading a slim, wiry blond man to them. "He's trash, anyway, and wants Sunny back."
"MOTHER!" Sunny shouted. Terry glared as Dave watched, stunned.
Sam simply rubbed his forehead, quietly stating, "I do not want Sunny back." No one heard him, except a man in a red uniform.
"Open your eyes, Sunny. That orphan bastard just wants to ruin your wedding!"
"Mrs. Lawrence!" Terry protested, disliking her description of his friend.
"No, he doesn't!" Sunny refuted. "Sam's a nice guy, Mother."
"He knows about explosives," the patrolman added, staring suspiciously at the suspect.
"See!" Mrs. Lawrence roared. "He has the knowledge and a motive. And he had plenty of time to set the bomb while we were meeting with Father Frank!"
The blond detective winced, realizing that he would have a riot on his hands soon if he didn't do something. "Perhaps we'd better take you down to the station."
"Take him in?" Sunny shrieked.
"This is ridiculous!" Terry declared.
Sam rolled his eyes. "I didn't do anything except find a bomb."
"Ray," Fraser tried to whisper, only his friend couldn't hear him over the shouting. Then Ray spotted a familiar face and quickly ducked his head to avoid recognition.
A member of the bomb squad walked up to the crowd with Father Frank. He quickly reported to Ray, "Detective, the bomb has been defused. We are taking it back to be analyzed."
Ray acknowledged the report with a nod, casually keeping his face directed away from the priest by writing down the information on his pad. Just about all he'd need right now would be for Father Frank to recognize him and blurt out the wrong name.
"What is the problem?" Father Frank asked worriedly.
"This trash tried to blow up your church!" Mrs. Lawrence declared.
"We're taking him in for questioning," Ray explained, still keeping his face down.
"But Sam didn't do this," Father Frank replied, puzzled.
"Of course he did, Father! He's dirt."
"Mom should be back from Atlanta in a few hours," Terry quickly whispered to his friend. "We'll get this cleared up."
Sam sighed. He had a very bad feeling about all this.
Sister Steve ran up behind them, drawn by the shouting. "What's going on?"
"The police want to question Sam about the bomb," Terry growled.
"What?" Steve exclaimed.
"Here," Sam quickly handed Steve a card from his wallet as the detective approached. "On this side are Blair's home, university, and cell phone numbers. Call him for me."
Steve stared at the card, then watched as Sam was lead away. That detective looks familiar...
Back in the car, Fraser quietly stated, "He didn't do it, Ray." He then shot a glare at Dief, who was licking his chops after finishing Ray's forgotten doughnut.
Ray laid his head on the steering wheel, ignoring the wolf. "Fraser, he has motive, means, opportunity, and if I didn't get him away from there, that mother of the bride would've torn him to pieces."
Fraser lifted his eyebrows. "True, that woman did seem to be a threat, but I doubt she is correct in her assumption of his guilt. If one wants to stop a wedding, there are usually more direct ways than destroying the church two days before the blessed event."
"Perhaps he's not too bright," Ray pointed out as he shifted the car in drive and followed the patrol car with the suspect.
Fraser paused a moment, then shook his head. "There were many things I noticed about the young man, but lack of intelligence was not one of them."
Ray spared a glance from his driving. "What did you see?"
"Mr. Malloy is very comfortable and friendly with the engaged couple, as you would expect since he is the best man."
"Not always," Ray replied darkly. "You wouldn't believe some of the weddings I've been in."
"Perhaps, but if he was upset about the bride marrying someone else, he didn't show it. In addition, he seemed very relieved when the bomb expert said the bomb was defused. You would expect him to be a little disappointed if it was his bomb. In fact, why would he tell anyone about the bomb at all if he set it?"
"Maybe he was playing the hero," Ray suggested. "What better way to get a girl back than to show her you're brave and heroic?"
"Was that a good 'hmm' or a bad 'hmm'?"
Fraser briefly lifted his eyebrows, not realizing he had said anything. "Neither. However, I did not see the young man displaying his bravery in front of the young woman. He did not strike me as having a personality that would brag about himself. Though that might have been due to his headache."
"Headache? How could you tell he has a headache?"
"He was pale, his eyes were squinting, and he was rubbing his forehead. All are signs of a headache."
"What do you want me to do, Fraser? Give our suspect an aspirin?" Ray asked sarcastically.
Unperturbed, Fraser replied, "Well, you may get more answers that way."
The discussion halted as they pulled up to the station.
Ellison's loft, Cascade, WA
Jim Ellison relaxed against the counter holding his coffee cup. With ease, he stretched out his hearing. His roommate's regular morning scramble was in progress. Drawers were hastily pulled out and pushed back, hurried steps dashed across the floor, books and papers shoved out of the way, shoes pulled out from under the bed, all accompanied by soft swearing. The hands on the clock confirmed that Blair was even more behind than usual. Megan Connor would be there to pick them up before Blair had time for one of his algae shakes. Jim smiled. As grateful as he was that his friend was alive, well and back living in the loft, there was no way Jim was going to make him one of those disgusting green shakes. They smelled horrible, especially to Jim's sensitive sentinel nose.
Stretching further, Jim picked up the elevator's climb to their floor. "Hurry up, Sandburg! Connor's almost here!"
Blair's bedroom door flew open as the young anthropologist/police consultant/guide rushed into the living area, pulling his thick curly hair back into a ponytail. "I'm ready." Before Jim could point out that Blair's shoes were untied, the phone rang. Jim winced a little, his hearing still turned up. He quickly concentrated to dial it down.
Noting his roommate's reaction, Blair quickly grabbed the phone before it could ring again. "Hello?... I'm Blair Sandburg."
Jim walked over and opened the door for Megan. "Are you ready?" the slim redhead asked.
Behind him, Blair was asking, "Is Sam in trouble?" At the tone, Jim turned away from the Australian exchange officer to focus on his friend. "Where are they holding him?"
"Jim?" Megan whispered, "Who is that?"
Jim shrugged his shoulders as Blair hung up and immediately began searching around the phone. "Jim, do you know where my phone numbers are?"
"Under the phone," Jim replied as he walked over and pulled out the list in question. "What's going on?"
"Sam found a bomb this morning in a church in Chicago. For some reason they're holding him as a suspect."
"What?" Jim exclaimed in surprise. "Sam wouldn't bomb anything."
"Apparently, Cascade cops are smarter than Chicago's," Blair replied as he searched through the numbers.
"Who are you calling?" Megan asked.
"I'm going to try to get a hold of our Dad," Blair absently explained as he picked up the phone again. A few moments later, he stated, "Mac, this is Blair. Please call me as soon as you get this message." He hung up and searched the list again.
Jim frowned. "Not at his apartment?"
Blair shook his head as he dialed another number. "Hello, I'm trying to reach MacGyver. He's not? May I speak with Pete Thornton, then?"
Megan picked up on Jim's concern. "What's wrong?"
Jim shrugged. "Mac usually calls Blair once a week to chat, but he missed last week."
Blair hung up the phone and swore quietly. "No one knows where Mac is and Pete's on a fishing trip with his son. Guess I'll try Dalton."
As his roommate searched for another number, Jim picked up his cell. A few minutes later, Blair shook his head in frustration. "Jack's out on a flight. I had to leave a message at Mac's emergency number."
Jim flipped his own phone closed. "You now have a flight to Chicago, if you can pack your bags in ten minutes."
Blair flew into his room. "You got him a flight?" Megan asked. "If his brother is innocent, he could be out before Sandy leaves Cascade."
"True," Jim admitted, "but with the MacGyver family, it's usually not that easy. If Sam sent an SOS, he's probably going to need some help."
Chicago PD, 27th precinct.
After several hours of gathering information, statements, and interrogating the suspect, Ray and Fraser stepped outside to confer.
"I still don't think he did it," Fraser picked up from where they had left the conversation in the car. "He has no clear motive, plus most of the witnesses said he found the bomb by chance. I doubt he would risk a promising photo-journalism career just to impress an old girlfriend."
Ray sighed and ran his hands through his blond hair. "Yeah, but it is amazing what a guy would do to impress a girl when he's desperate. Besides, he may have done it simply to cover it. Other reporters have created a story just so they could report it."
"He left his camera in the car, Ray. It seems unlikely he would commit a crime for the news value, then leave his camera behind."
"Yeah, yeah," Ray slowly nodded his head, admitting defeat. "I don't think we have the right guy, either. He doesn't strike me as the bomb type."
"Guys," Francesca Vecchio called, walking up to them. "You may want to check this out."
"What?" Ray asked.
"Your suspect's brother just showed up."
"Brother? The bride's mother has been raging about how Malloy is an orphan bastard. How'd he get a brother?"
"I don't know, but he is kinda cute and really raising a fuss."
"Okay, why don't we try and get his name, so you can run a background check."
Ray and Fraser followed Frannie to the front. A man in his late twenties was pacing furiously in front of the desk, his pony tail of curly brown hair swinging as he turned. He paused when he spotted Frannie. Large blue eyes inspected Ray. "Are you the detective working on the bombing case?"
"Yes," Frannie replied, "this is Detective Ray Vecchio."
"And you are...?" Ray added, noting the 'brother' didn't resemble their suspect in the least.
"Sandburg, Blair Sandburg."
"Cascade, WA." Turning to Frannie, who had been writing all this down, "When you do the background check, ask for Captain Simon Banks in the Major Crimes division of the Cascade PD. He will vouch for me."
Both Frannie and Ray blinked. A twinkle appeared in Fraser's eyes, but he managed to keep the smile off his face. "Are you his informant?" Ray asked, making a sweeping head to foot inspection of the blue jean and T-shirt clad young man.
"No, I work for him as a consultant," Blair stated quickly. "Now can we get back to my brother?"
"I can vouch for Mr. Sandburg," Fraser smoothly interrupted. "Or is it Dr. Sandburg now?"
Blair finally took a good look at the guy in red behind Det. Vecchio. "Constable Fraser?" he exclaimed in disbelief. "What are you doing here?"
"I came to Chicago on the trail of my father's killers, and for reasons too lengthy to explain at this juncture, I am now Liaison Officer with the Canadian consulate and aid the Chicago police."
"Wow," Blair replied, looking impressed for an instant before turning serious. "Can you tell me anything about Sam? Has he been charged?"
"Mr. Malloy? We were just discussing that." Fraser looked at Ray and raised an eyebrow.
"Okay," Ray threw up his hands in defeat. "I'll arrange his release. But he's still a suspect, meaning he better not leave town."
"Deal," Blair replied. "I'm sure Sam wants this cleared up as much as you do."
"Would you be interested in something to drink?" Fraser asked, wondering how the anthropologist had suddenly acquired a brother and why he was now working with the police.
"Sounds good," Blair replied, wiping back a damp strand of hair from his face. "I forgot how hot Chicago is this time of year."
Around the corner from the precinct, a small man with big, worried eyes stepped into a phone booth. Nervously, he slipped a quarter into the slot.
"Chicago PD," a voice answered.
"Hello, I want to report something suspicious."
"What is your name?"
"Ch- John. John ... Fish."
"What did you see, Mr. Fish?"
The man glanced at another man standing just outside the booth. The tall, dark-haired man made rolling circles with his hands, urging the other to hurry up.
"I -I saw someone on top of a roof across from your building. I think he had a gun."
"What type of gun?"
"How should I know? I didn't ask."
"You know, Mr. Fish, it is a crime to make a false report."
"I am not making this up!"
"All right, I will see if we can have someone check." The operator hung up.
As the man stepped out, his friend asked, "Well?"
"I don't think they bought it, Gare."
Swiftly, the tall man pulled a newspaper out of his hip pocket. The headlines read:
Wedding Bomber Suspect Killed in Front of Police Station
Grieving brother declares his innocence; Police suspect conspiracy
"Damn it, Chuck, it didn't change."
"Okay, so the police don't want to listen to either of us. We gave it our best shot. Back to the restaurant?"
"No, I'm just going to have to do this the hard way."
"Gary, are you NUTS!? The guy is probably guilty, anyways."
"According to the article, the guy's brother says he's innocent."
"What, like he wouldn't lie?"
Gary shot his friend a dirty look. "Besides, I know what it is like to be accused of wrecking an ex's wedding when you actually wish her well."
"It is one thing to sympathize with someone, but totally another to risk your life..." Chuck suddenly realized his friend had turned his back and was running towards the precinct. "GARY!!!!!"
Holding a glass of juice, Blair joined Fraser at Ray's desk. "This is great," Blair declared after taking a sip. "That was really nice of Ms. Vecchio to find me grape juice instead of a can of pop." He reached down and patted Diefenbaker on the head.
"It is amazing what acts of kindness Francesca is capable of when she wishes it," Fraser commented. He glanced at Blair, "Are you still working on your Sentinel research?"
Blair barely controlled a jump, then quickly responded, "No, that wasn't working out. Right now I am working on subcultures within a police department."
Fraser's eyes narrowed at the obvious lie and swift change in subject. "That is a shame. I really enjoyed your Master's work, especially since I was one of the test subjects."
"Yeah, you were my only one with three enhanced senses," Blair smiled reminiscently.
"Didn't you tell me during the tests that you were an only child?"
Blair chuckled. "Well, I'm my mother's only child. I didn't know anything about my father until this last winter."
"So you didn't know Malloy until last winter?"
"Actually, I met Sam last fall. We just didn't know Mac was my dad, too, until a few months later. Yet it seems longer than that. He and I just clicked."
"Will your father be coming?"
Blair frowned, concern swirling in his big blue eyes. "I don't know. I tried to call before I left, but couldn't reach him. Jim, the detective I'm working with, is still trying."
"That worries you?" Fraser asked, wondering why Blair would be concerned over the lack of contact with a father he had known for less than a year.
"Mac usually calls me on Sundays, but he missed this last week without explanation. And before when Sam was nearly abducted, Mac raced half-way around the world to reach him. This silence just isn't like him, especially with Sam in trouble."
"Do you think something has happened to him?"
"I don't know," Blair replied slowly. He sighed, then looked at Fraser. "Mac is one of the good guys, but he has done work in the past where it wasn't a good idea for the bad guys to know he's a good guy. Does that make sense?"
"Yes," Fraser said thoughtfully, his mind briefly replacing his current blond, blue-eyed partner with another whose dark eyes and hair matched Frannie's. "So you are leery of digging further, in case he may be on another such assignment."
"Right, although he has said he didn't do that kind of work anymore."
Before Fraser could ask anything more, Ray brought Sam out of holding. "Sam!" Blair exclaimed, standing to greet him with a hug.
Sam smiled in relief at the sight of his older brother, enjoying the rare security in his brief embrace. "Man, am I glad to see you, Indy."
"Indy?" Ray questioned.
"Short for Indiana Jones," Blair explained with a roll of his eyes.
"Oh," Ray caught on, "because you're an archaeologist."
Fraser gave him a baffled look. "Blair is an anthropologist, and what does that have to do with one of your states?"
"I'll explain later," Ray assured him.
Blair noted the weariness and pain in Sam's eyes. "Why don't I take you back to the hotel and let you get some sleep?"
He was rewarded with a grateful smile. "That sounds good."
Blair draped a protective arm around Sam's shoulders, guiding his taller brother to the door.
"Remember to stay in town!" Ray called after them.
As the two men walked around the corner, Ray thoughtfully turned to Benton. "So, how long have you known this Sandburg guy?"
"Well, Ray, approximately three years. I met Mr. Sandburg when he was with an anthropology group from his University studying survival techniques of Inuits. They ran afoul of a group of poachers, who abducted everyone with the exception of Mr. Sandburg. He had managed to elude capture but became lost trying to find help. When the group didn't report in, I was sent to check on them and found Mr. Sandburg. Together, we were able to stop the poachers and rescue his group."
Ray's eyes widened. "That guy helped you capture poachers? He doesn't look the type."
"Oh, Mr. Sandburg is quite an intelligent, quick-thinking young man. Appalling sense of direction, though."
Det. Dewey skidded around the corner. "There's shooting out front!"
Gary Hobson quickly studied the pictures of the soon-to-be victims in his newspaper, then searched the rooftops again, looking for the shooter. He still couldn't spot him from his position on the street.
Chuck ran up to him. "This is ridiculous, Gare. We know that pretty soon someone's going to fill this area with bullets. It seems like a dumb spot to be in."
At that moment, Gary saw two young men step out the main doors. "Well, you better find a place to hide, because this is it."
Catching a flash from the roof across the street, Chuck shouted, "There he is!" as Gary raced across the steps, tackling the two young men. They landed in a pile behind a cement planter as bullets showered the cement.
Hearing someone shout, Sam had just started to turn when someone slammed him into Blair, forcing them all to the ground. It wasn't until the shock of the impact eased that Sam realized he had heard gunshots.
"Are you all right?" their dark haired rescuer asked.
"Yeah," Sam said slowly, then winced when a bullet struck the planter next to them. He shifted on the hot sidewalk to look at his brother. "Blair?"
"Yeah," Blair gasped. "I just cut my shoulder on some glass." Another bullet whizzed over their heads. Blair looked over Sam to the other man. "Thank you."
The man smiled. He wasn't thanked very often. "You're welcome. How bad is your shoulder?"
Gripping his shoulder tightly, Blair gave him a weak smile. "Definitely better than getting shot, trust me." They all winced again as another bullet struck the planter.
Sam glanced back over to Blair. "You've been shot before? How'd that happen?"
"I hang out with Jim. How'd you think it happened?"
Suddenly, the shooting stopped as police men and women poured out of the door and surged in from both sides. For a few moments, the people in blue dashed around them. Ray, with Fraser right behind him, rushed up to where the young men lay. "Are you two all right?"
"Blair cut himself when we were shoved behind the planter," Sam told him.
"It's not that bad," Blair denied as Fraser knelt beside him to look at the wound.
"How'd you get shoved behind the planter?" Ray asked.
"Well, this guy..." Sam turned around. "Blair, did you see where that guy who rescued us went?"
Blair hissed as Fraser gently probed the cut. "No, he was right here a minute ago."
"We'll worry about him later," Ray decided. "Now, who would be shooting at you two?"
"Well, anyone who'd want to take a shot at me should be dead or still in jail," Blair replied. "Besides, they'd be more likely to look for me in Cascade than Chicago."
Ray turned to his suspect. "What about you?"
"I don't know," Sam replied thoughtfully. "Most of the people I've ticked off live in Bosnia, or Central America, or are in jail."
"Sounds like you two tick off a lot of people," Ray commented, studying them.
Blair tried to shrug, but Fraser kept a tight hold of his arm. "Well, Sam's a photo-journalist, I'm a police observer who rooms with a cop, and our father is an ex-DXS agent. Take your pick. But may I point out that no one was shooting at us until Sam found this bomb."
"The kid makes a good point." Lt. Welsh had walked up to hear Blair's little speech. "Mr. Malloy here may know or have seen something our bomber doesn't want him to tell. Until we know more of what is going on, I suggest we place Mr. Malloy and his brother under protective custody."
"After we have a physician attend to Mr. Sandburg's arm," Fraser added.
"Great," Blair muttered. "In Chicago less than three hours, and I already need a trip to the emergency room and then to a safe house. Jim and the guys are never going to let me live this down." Fraser didn't say a word as he helped the anthropologist up, but there was an amused twinkle deep in his eyes.
A couple blocks away from the chaos, Chuck finally caught up to Gary swiftly walking away. "Gary, you are DEFINITELY nuts! You could have been killed!"
"Well, at least Sean Malloy wasn't killed," Gary retorted. He unfolded the newspaper for his friend to see:
Shooter Targets Wedding Bomber Suspect at Police Station
Suspect under protective custody; Police suspect conspiracy
"This way, if he's innocent, he has a chance to prove it."
Chuck sighed. "Okay, but try not to do that again. My heart can only take so much. Now, can we go back to the restaurant and solve our waitress problem?"
"No, next I have to save an elderly man from falling into the river," Gary stated as he quickened his pace.
Chuck threw up his hands and glanced skyward. "This is worse than trying to make an appointment with Superman!" he complained as he chased after his friend.
Safehouse, a few hours later
Diefenbaker trotted through the kitchen, his toenails clicking across the tile floor. The thudding of Fraser's boots followed in the wolf's wake. As they entered the livingroom, Blair looked up from the coffee table where he worked. Softly he asked, "Are we secure?"
Fraser nodded and sat in the chair across from the anthropologist, the wolf picking a spot in front of the fan. "Ray has gone back to the precinct to further investigate the bombing. How is your brother?"
Blair shrugged as he closed the laptop. "He's taking a nap. He didn't get much sleep the last two nights and woke up with a headache. Plus all this is bothering him more than he'll admit."
"It is hard for an innocent man to be accused of a crime," Fraser agreed. He glanced at the laptop. "What are you working on?"
"Just going over some notes," Blair replied.
Noting the slight edge in Blair's voice, Fraser casually asked, "For your police subculture research, or your Sentinel research?"
Blair paused a moment, then sighed. "I said I wasn't working on the Sentinel stuff any more."
"My mistake." Fraser leaned back to study the young man. It wasn't hard to realize his friend was lying. He continued, "Though I remember how enthusiastic you were on the topic. You were certain that a full-fledge Sentinel with all five senses heightened was out there. It seemed that finding him or her was your version of finding the Holy Grail."
Blair was examining the coffee table more intently than the wood surface warranted. "Sometimes goals change."
"True," Fraser admitted. "In my experience, however, a person searching for a Holy Grail will not stop until he finds it." Blair flinched slightly. Fraser continued, "Though sometimes, finding the Holy Grail places the Grail itself in danger."
Blue eyes wide with fear locked onto blue eyes. "It would be wrong to destroy what you have searched for by revealing it to others."
"Agreed," Fraser responded. "A wise man would protect it by keeping its existence a secret."
Blair slowly released his breath as he realized what Fraser meant. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. If I had been your Grail, I, too, would have preferred to remain anonymous. It is the least I can do."
Blair relaxed, then changed the subject.
In the nearby darkened bedroom, Sam laid staring at the ceiling. He had been awakened by Fraser's entrance, thus overhearing the disturbing conversation. Blair's research ISN'T on police subcultures? What is this Holy Grail called a Sentinel about? Why does it need to be kept a secret? Why hasn't Blair said anything about something so important to him?
Taking a deep breath, Sam pulled his thoughts together. Okay, by the sound of it, this Sentinel thing is a person, a person with heightened senses. What does that mean? Heightened senses would mean that a person could sense things other people can't. Does that mean ESP? No, the mountie said all five senses. That means we're probably talking about the regular senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. So, such a person could, say, smell something other people couldn't. Could that person smell smoke sooner than others? That would be handy in case of a fire. Could that person smell something better than others, like a perfume tester? Perhaps track a smell like a bloodhound can? That would be useful as well. Yet, how easy would it be for a sensitive person to be overwhelmed, like those who become ill from strong perfume or chemical odors? Would that danger multiply by five if all their senses were heightened? Is that what Blair and Fraser meant by putting this person in danger?
No, Blair is worried about revelation. So much so, he's changing his research. Who would he protect to that degree?
Then all of a sudden, it hit him. There was one person Blair would most definitely protect to that degree. Thinking back, the pieces began to fall into place. He remembered Jim lightly feeling his broken arm. Not even the doctor had been that gentle. It had been Jim who had somehow known before Blair that Dad was Blair's father. It had also been Jim who had found them in the vast Colorado wilderness in the middle of a snowstorm. Who had somehow managed to stay awake in a cabin filled with ether. Who had found a bomb in that ghost town without entering the building it was in. Oh God, Ellison is Blair's Sentinel. Now what do I do?
Chicago PD, 27th precinct.
Ray sat at his desk, going over all the reports. Now that his possible suspect was no longer a suspect but a potential victim, he had to rethink the whole case. He was going to have to talk this over with Fraser again. He was amazed at how much bouncing ideas off someone like the Canadian helped to clear his own thinking.
"Hey, bro, I got the info on the Sandburg guy," Frannie declared.
She sat on a corner of his desk. Well, the desk he was keeping warm for her real brother. Ray leaned back to look at her. "Wha' cha got?"
"His story checks out. He teaches at the University there, working on his doctorate in anthropology. A couple years ago, he started working with the PD."
"How is he working for them? Anthropology doesn't usually top the list for police department recruitment."
"Well, I was told different stories. You know, one person said something about him being an observer. Another said he's gathering data for his degree. A third told me he works as a consultant for the Major Crimes division, or something like that. What they all agree on is that he rides exclusively with a Detective James Ellison." Frannie smiled, remembering the vivid description the secretary had given her of the hunky Ellison. "Apparently, Det. Ellison is an ex-Army Ranger who was one of the best but coldest cops in Cascade before Sandburg joined him. Now, they say he's almost friendly and considered THE best detective in the city, perhaps even the state. Since they figure Sandburg has something to do with it, nobody questions why he's still riding with Ellison."
"Hmm," Ray murmured, not realizing he was sounding like Fraser. "I wonder what he's like in person?"
"It sounds like you're going to find out," Frannie stated.
Frannie leaned closer as she told the juiciest bits she had dug up. "I was told Ellison just about hit the roof when he found out that Sandburg and Malloy were shot at today. Apparently, a perp nearly drowned Sandburg a few weeks ago. The EMT's even pronounced him dead at one point, but I guess they managed to revive him. Isn't it amazing what modern medicine can do nowadays?"
Ray blinked at her impatiently. "Ah, what is your POINT?"
Frannie rolled her eyes, but continued, "Anyway, Ellison didn't take it well and has been rather protective of Sandburg ever since."
"Can understand that," Ray commented, wondering how he'd feel if Fraser was killed. How much would it hurt to lose the mountie who had become a true friend? For that matter, how in the hell would he explain it to the real Ray Vecchio?
"Anyway," Frannie continued, "Ellison skipped the first plane headed for Chicago and should be here soon."
"Skipped?" Ray raised his eyebrows at her. "Do you mean 'hopped'?"
"Skipped, hopped, same diff," Frannie waved off her misuse of slang.
Ray sighed. At least he could usually figure out which slang term Frannie had mangled. Poor Fraser didn't know the original phrase half the time. He glanced back up at the Civilian aid. "Could you get a picture of this Detective Ellison? He'll certainly want to see his partner and I want to make sure I take the right guy out to the safe house."
"No prob, bro," Frannie replied as she turned back to her desk.
A few minutes later, Sister Steve entered the precinct. Coming straight from her Junior High boys softball game, she was dressed in jeans and the team's T-shirt. Only her head wear indicated that she was a nun. "Excuse me, could you tell me where I might find a Det. Ray Vecchio?"
Frannie was about to make a wise remark until she took a good look at the visitor. "Well certainly, Sister. Ray is over in the corner by the door."
"Thank you," Steve responded politely. She walked over, then paused a couple feet from the desk. Is that?...Yeah, that looks like him... But I thought it was Ray Vecchio I was looking for, not Kolwalski. She quickly covered the remaining steps. "Ray?" she asked hesitantly, noting that the name plate did indeed say Vecchio.
Ray glanced up, his blue eyes widening in surprise. "Steve?" He stood up and walked around the desk, giving the girl from the old neighborhood a big hug.
"Vecchio?" Steve whispered in his ear, still puzzled.
"A life depends on me being Vecchio," Ray whispered back.
"Gotcha," Steve returned before stepping back. If Ray needed to be someone else, Steve trusted him enough to play along. She'd have to remember to warn Frank.
"So," Ray said out loud, "What brings you to my neck of the woods?"
"I understand you are working the bombing case at St. Michael's," Steve replied. "Frank and I pulled together as much information as we could that might help you."
"Great!" Ray responded enthusiacally. "I could use some help right now." He pulled out a chair for Steve.
"First off, is Sam okay?" Steve asked. "We'd heard something about a shooting?"
Ray quickly explained what had happened, concluding, "We have him and his brother staying at a safe house."
"Good," Steve sighed. "Sam's a great guy. This whole thing that he might be the bomber was ridiculous."
Ray smiled sheepishly. "Actually, I was figuring that out right before the shooting. Only now, I not only got no suspect, I've got someone who's a target."
Steve shook her head, then laid a thick manilla folder on Ray's desk. "Hopefully, these should help."
Ray glanced at them questioningly. "What are these?"
Steve began ticking the items off her fingers. "A list of everyone who was in the church this morning and whatever background we know of. A list of the events being held at St. Michaels this weekend. A list of everyone who might have a grudge against Father Frank and I, a..."
"What?" Ray interrupted. "Why would anyone want to hurt you or Father Frank?" Even a priest and a nun have people out to get them? What's the world coming to? Steve looked sheepish, but was saved from answering when two men walked up.
Ray glanced up to Welsh, noting the large man with a military bearing next to him. "Lieutenant?" he asked, slowly standing up.
"Det. Ray Vecchio, this is Det. James Ellison with the Cascade PD. He's friends with our former suspect's brother." Welsh couldn't believe he'd just said all that and hoped it made sense. This case was getting more and more complicated all the time.
Ray held out his hand, making another survey of the man who was also sizing him up. Did he want to know what the best of Cascade thought of him? Probably not. "Sandburg's roommate the cop, right? He mentioned you."
Jim nodded in acknowledgement. "Your lieutenant said he and Sam are all right?" He tried not to sound as anxious as he felt.
Remembering what Frannie had said, Ray gave him a reassuring smile. "They're both fine. We have them tucked away in a safehouse until we have an idea of what's going on." He noticed the other man relax slightly. Frannie was right. The detective had been worried.
Jim chuckled. "You managed to get both of them to stay still in one place? That is an accomplishment."
Ray's smile widened, then he saw Welsh's questioning look at Steve. "Oh, this is Sister Stephanie from St. Michael's. She's brought me some info on who all was at the church this morning." Steve quickly shook hands with the Lieutenant and Ellison.
"Would you mind some help?" Jim asked. While he realized that this wasn't his turf, Jim desperately wanted to do something to insure the safety of Blair and Sam.
"Would love some," Ray replied, holding up the thick folder Steve had just brought.
"Why don't you take it into my office," Welsh suggested. "There's more room there."
Safehouse, two hours later
Jim quickly surveyed the area as he and Vecchio walked up to the apartment building. He swiftly noted the unmarked car with two men on the street, the barred lower windows, and other security measures. While the former covert operative could see potential weaknesses, he believed that they would be enough against this sniper, whom Jim suspected was an amateur. It would be when Sam and Blair left the building that he would have to be on alert.
Focusing his hearing, he filtered out sounds until he found the calm voices of the younger men talking with a third, unfamiliar voice. Jim relaxed slightly. Recently, he had been forced to realize just how much his young friend and guide meant to him. He was also growing quite fond of Blair's new-found brother. He didn't like the idea of anyone taking potshots at either of them.
He took another glance at the Chicago detective. While simple in manner and speech, Jim sensed the younger man had the street smarts and the compassion to make a good cop. A little low on the self-esteem, perhaps. But earlier when he'd gone for a Coke, Jim had overheard something between the nun and the detective about a divorce. That could do it. Jim knew how much a divorce could hurt one's self-worth.
Ray glanced at the quiet man beside him, wondering what he was thinking. Cascade's best hadn't said much since they had picked up the food. The visitor had been great in sorting through all the paperwork Sister Steve had brought, but it wasn't hard to see where his cold reputation came from. And here I thought Fraser could be a stiff. Must be the military training.
After a nod at one of the men guarding the hall, Ray led Ellison to one of the doors half-way down. Knocking, he quietly announced, "It's Ray."
The door open slightly, then moved back further to admit Ray and his companion. Jim was surprised to see a man in a RCMP uniform on the other side. But before he could comment, he heard the voice he'd been worried about.
"Hey Jim!" Blair called out as he peeked around the wall. "What are you doing here?"
The first real smile Ray had seen on the detective's face slowly appeared. "Because I'm suppose to stay between you and the bullets, remember?" He walked over to his friend and guide, gently lifting the arm with the bandage.
Blair chuckled. "That's just a small cut from some glass, and I thought the bullet-protecting was just in Cascade."
"You and Sam attract trouble no matter where you are," Jim pointed out as he gently cuffed his friend on the head. He caught the whiff of a very strong dog odor just before a white and cream canine trotted around the corner. "Is that a wolf?"
"Half wolf," Blair corrected. "This is Diefenbaker." Dief took a sniff at the bags Jim was carrying then headed towards Ray, hot on the trail of the eggrolls.
Jim glanced into the living room and stepped towards the other young man. "How are you doing, Sam?"
Sam shrugged, uneasily meeting Jim's eyes. The concern he saw there reminded him that this was his friend, in fact his brother's best friend, who had saved his life more than once. "I'm okay."
Jim gently gripped Sam's shoulder. "We'll get this sorted out," he assured him, his fingers rubbing the tight muscles he felt there. Then he turned to set the sacks he carried in the other arm on the coffee table.
He felt the tension in me. Sam then forcefully shoved his suspicions out of his mind. This is Jim Ellison, as I have always known him. He isn't going to bite me or grow three heads. I know all I need to know. "What did you guys bring?"
"Chinese," Ray answered as he unloaded his arms. "Along with the case files and a couple vids."
"Vids?" Blair repeated as he glanced into the Blockbuster sack. Then he chuckled. "We're introducing Fraser to Indiana Jones, I take it?"
"Yep," Ray replied as Sam chuckled.
Jim noted the slight puzzlement on the mountie's face and quickly figured out what was up. "You must be....?" he asked, holding out his hand to the fourth man.
"Oh, sorry," Ray quickly picked up. "Fraser, this is Det. Jim Ellison with the Cascade PD. Ellison, this is my partner, Constable Benton Fraser."
Jim still looked a bit puzzled. "Why is there a Canadian mountie partnered with a Chicago detective?" Was there something international going on here that he didn't know about?
Fraser opened his mouth, but Ray jumped in before he could start his life history spiel again. "Ellison, I'll make you a deal. You don't ask me why I've got a mountie for a partner, and I won't ask why you've got an archaeologist for yours."
"Blair is an anthropologist, Ray," Fraser reminded him again.
Ray waved the comment away, "Same diff." He stared at Ellison, holding out his right hand. "Deal?"
"Deal." Jim had no desire to try to explain why Blair was his partner, especially to a detective who was smarter than he appeared. They quickly shook hands.
However, the exchange made an impression on Sam. He had always taken the situation of Blair working with Jim for granted. It never occurred to him before just how odd it really was. Some investigative reporter I am. He filed it away with everything else he wanted to ponder over later.
"Okay, who wants eggrolls?" Ray called out as he opened the sack Dief was staring at.
An hour later, the five men had finished the meal and were going over all the information on the case. Ray had hoped it might unlock the reason why the bomber had turned sniper to kill Malloy, but so far no luck.
"All right," Jim finally announced, picking up a pad of paper he'd been scribbling on. "Let's see if I have all this straight." He pointed to a group of pictures. "First, these are the members of the wedding party that you're involved with, right Sam?"
"Right," Sam replied glumly.
Blair looked up from feeding Dief a piece of eggroll, sending a worried glance in his brother's direction. "What's wrong?" Then realization dawned. "You were suppose to be out with Terry and Dave tonight, right?"
"Yeah. Some best man I've turned out to be."
"You prevented the destruction of the church where they are to be wed. I'd say you have performed well beyond the normal duties of a best man," Fraser pointed out, trying to cheer him up.
Blair gave his brother's shoulder a squeeze as Jim reached over and ruffled Sam's hair.
"Well, other than the fact that Mrs. Lawrence has a major grudge against you, I think we can rule them all out," Ray commented, hoping to get Sam's mind off the wedding and back to the matter at hand.
Sam immediately went along. "Yeah, she hates my guts but she wouldn't hurt the wedding."
"We can probably eliminate the wedding that's taking place this evening," Jim suggested. "I trust that if anything had happened by now, we'd know?" He glanced at Ray, who nodded. "What about the Randolf/Evers wedding tomorrow?"
Blair shrugged as he reread the reports. "Looks to be your average wedding as well. According to the Sister's notes, the only danger is if the bride's father decides to strangle her step-father."
"What about the list of enemies that the Father and Sister gave to you?" Fraser asked.
Ray shook his head, amazed at the length of that list. "Huey and Dewey are still checking them out, but so far no luck."
Blair looked at Jim and mouthed, "Huey and Dewey?" Suppressing a smile, Jim nodded. When he had been introduced to them at the station, Jim had almost asked if there were any Louies in the department as well, but decided he didn't want to make enemies of Ray's co-workers.
"Next we have the funeral of Mr. Rodger Flesch," Ray continued.
"They were bringing in his urn while I was waiting for Terry," Sam pointed out. "Sister Steve said the two men were his nephews."
"Nicky 'The Signpost' Flesch and Joey 'Bazooka' Balooka," Fraser read clinically from the report in his hands. "Rather colorful names. Why is there a star on this report?"
"Welsh says they have ties to the mob," Ray explained. "Apparently, Mr. Flesch was believed to be running numbers and died in an apartment fire. No one knows for sure which nephew will inherit the business."
"So the Leftenant believes this to be mob related," Fraser quickly concluded.
"Mob related?" Blair repeated worriedly. He didn't like the sound of that.
Ray shrugged it off as he read another report. "The Lieutenant ALWAYS thinks it's mob related. Even when it's not."
Jim picked up another sheet. "What's this about a florist?" In the background, Jim heard a noise. Tilting his head a moment, he relaxed when he realized it was a cat on the balcony. He sent a reassuring look into his guide's questioning eyes. Blair then relaxed, too. The exchange was noted by Fraser, who had just barely heard the cat over the fans.
"There was an older lady with a couple assistants placing flowers around for one of the weddings," Sam remembered out loud.
"Apparently, it was Ms. Lydia Delmonte from Majestic Flowers, with Summer Johnson and Kaitlin Mathews," Jim read. "Must be good. The same firm is listed for the Randolf/Evers wedding as well."
"Does any of this ring any bells for you, Sam?" Ray asked hopefully.
Sam shook his head. "I really wasn't paying that much attention," he explained apologically. "My head was hurting and I was talking with Sister Steve."
"You may have seen something you don't remember," Fraser suggested. "There is a way to help you remember, if you are willing."
"Oh, no, not the hypnosis again," Ray groaned.
"But we learned important information last time that helped solve a murder," Fraser pointed out.
"Yeah, but you ended up hypnotizing everyone in the room," Ray reminded him.
Fraser shrugged, "I just won't use the Administration Manual again. It is apparently too powerful for this use."
"Too boring, you mean. And I'd still like to know what post-hypnotic suggestion you gave me."
Fraser just looked blandly innocent, but Jim suspected the man was still secretly pleased with himself for whatever he had done.
"Hypnosis?" Sam repeated worriedly. He didn't like the sounds of that at all.
Fraser turned to him reassuringly. "A harmless procedure."
Sam shook his head. "I don't think I want to do that." He already felt rather vulnerable. The thought of hypnosis and losing even more control scared him.
"Do you trust me?" Blair asked him.
Sam switched his attention to Blair in surprise. "Trust you?"
Blair shrugged. "I've put Jim in a light hypnotic state to help him remember events he's repressed. I can help you do the same, but you have to trust me enough to relax."
"It does work," Jim assured him. "But if you don't feel comfortable about it, that's okay, too." Jim tried not to hold his breath. He didn't want to pressure Sam, but they needed a break in order to keep the young man safe.
Sam studied his brother for a moment. With anyone else, he would have refused. However, this was Blair asking. Sam had trusted him long before they had known about the common blood they shared. "Okay, what do we have to do?"
A half hour later, Sam was sitting relaxed on the upholstered chair, eyes closed, with Blair sitting on the coffee table across from him. Jim, Ray, and Fraser sat on the couch behind Blair, Fraser next to the light he had dimmed to help Sam relax.
Using his soft, deep guide voice, Blair softly called,"Sam?"
"Yeah," Sam replied, his voice sounding light and floating.
"Think back to the church this morning. Are you there?"
"Yeah," Sam replied, a faint frown crossing his face.
"What's wrong?" Blair asked, trying to keep the concern out of his voice.
"Mrs. Lawrence. She doesn't like me, and she's upsetting Sunny and Terry."
Blair frowned, remembering what Sam had told him about the situation. He kept that concern out of his voice, though. "She can't reach you now. What happened next?"
Step by step, Blair led his brother in describing the events leading up to finding the bomb. Ray was amazed at the detail Sam was able to remember. The only hesitation was on Blair's part when Sam reported his conversation with Steve about Blair. Then Jim reached over to lay a hand on his partner's shoulder and Blair continued.
"...the breakfast bar flew right past Dave's hands," Sam was retelling. "It hit the floor then slid past my foot."
"Then what happened?" Blair asked calmly, trying not to communicate his tension to Sam. This was when Sam had found the bomb.
"I stood up then knelt down to pick up the bar," Sam said. "It aggravated my headache."
"What did you see?"
"I saw the red wrapping of the bar. As I reached for it, I saw something sparkle. I glanced further back, and saw a red digital display reading 32:42."
Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder. Blair nodded his head once to indicate he understood. "Sam, I want you to ignore the digital display for a moment. What else do you see?"
"The breakfast bar."
"Remove the bar from your mind as well. What else do you see?"
Sam's eyes squeezed tighter as his mind searched his memory. "There, there was something else."
"Take your time and try to describe it."
"A gold and green sparkle ... it's laying on the wood floor... I think the green is a gemstone set in something...gold, I think. It kinda looks like a bird with its wings outstretched... maybe an eagle or a hawk."
Jim squeezed Blair's shoulder again as Ray and Fraser exchanged looks. Blair then led Sam to describe the evacuation and who he saw leaving the building. A few moments later, he brought Sam out.
Sam blinked and shook his head. "Did anything I say help?"
Blair leaned forward, resting his elbows on his thighs. "Do you remember telling us about the pin?"
Sam thought for a moment, then nodded his head. "Vaguely. It is rather fuzzy, probably because the bomb drew my attention away from it."
"Do you think you would recognize it if you saw it again?" Fraser asked.
Sam shrugged his shoulders. "Maybe."
"At least it's something," Ray replied as he dialed the phone. "Hey Huey, I've got a lead for you to follow..."
Sam looked at Jim and Fraser. "Do you guys honestly think that the pin's important?"
"If it's a unique piece of jewery, it is possible we may be able to identify the bomber by it," Fraser explained.
Jim stood up. "Anyone ready for the video?"
Fraser picked up the bag and followed Jim to the VCR. As Sam and Blair both rose from their seats, Blair gently laid a hand on Sam's shoulder. "Sorry for worrying you," he apologized.
Sam gave him a faint smile. "Hey, we both live closer to the edge than most. It could've just as easily been me who got on someone's wrong side. I mean, we may have 50 years or we may have only a few months. That's why I wanted to spend next week at the cabin with you. I just want to get to know my brother better before the time's up, that's all."
Sam's unusually long speech impacted Blair's heart hard. Feeling hot tears trying to well up in his eyes, he forced out, "Thank you." Then he pulled Sam into a tight embrace.
Next morning, apartment above McGinty's
As he had for nearly two years, Gary Hobson woke up at 6:30 am to the squall of a cat and a paper thumping against his door. He climbed out of bed and shuffled forward in his boxers, still groggy from a restless night due to the heat. Upon opening the door, a lean orange tiger stripe dashed past him, intent on reaching his water bowl. Apparently, even century-old cats were affected by the heat.
"Good morning to you, too," Gary grumped as he squatted down to pick up the paper. Closing the door, he tossed the remarkable paper onto the coffee table as he wandered to the bathroom. It had long become old hat that his morning paper, unlike anyone else's, contained tomorrow's news instead of today's, except for certain rare instances. If it was one of those instances, Gary figured he'd rather be awake before reading it.
A few minutes later, he walked back to the couch carrying a bottle of ice tea. He took a long swig and leaned back before picking up the paper. He never knew what his day might hold, so he wanted to relax while he could. Taking a deep breath, he quickly read the headline. Startled, he sat up and swiftly read the accompanying articles. Then he grabbed the phone.
"Hello?" answered the groggy voice of his friend.
"Chuck, have you ever been to St. Michael's Church?"
"Gare, I'm Jewish, remember? Why would I go to a Catholic church unless it was for a wedding or a catering..." Chuck's mind finally woke up in mid-complaint. "Wait a minute. Wasn't that the church that guy was suppose to bomb?"
"Right," Gary swiftly replied. "Meet me here as soon as you can." Gary hung up the phone before his friend could protest. Then he ran his hands through his hair as he again stared at the headline. Sometimes he wondered if whomever sent him the paper expected him to actually be superman.
James Ellison stood behind a curtain, watching the street below. Sipping his coffee, he reflected how different this city felt compared to Cascade. Admittedly, Chicago was much bigger, faced fresh water instead of ocean, and was much warmer than Cascade. However, Jim suspected his disorientation had more to do with Chicago not being HIS city. While he was here for his guide and guide's brother, it was still strange territory to the sentinel. He just hoped he could protect Blair and Sam. He couldn't bear the thought of losing Blair again, nor of facing MacGyver to explain why one or both sons were dead.
Fraser joined him at the window. Jim still wasn't sure what to make of the man. The mountie was apparently a good officer and a friend of Blair's. Though considering some of Blair's friends, that might not be all that great a recommendation. "Any news?" Jim asked.
"None so far," Fraser reported. "I believe Det. Huey plans to reinterview many of the suspects this morning, in light of what Mr. Malloy remembered. Do you think he will still want to attend the rehearsal?"
"Yes," Jim sighed. "Sam is feeling bad enough for missing so much yesterday. He'll want to go to the rehearsal. I just hope whoever is involved doesn't take any more potshots at him."
Fraser paused a moment. "Blair was worried about their father yesterday. Do you think there may be a connection to the shooting?"
Jim frowned. "I don't think so. If all this was due to Mac, it would've made more sense to wait. The perp had no way of knowing Blair would reach Chicago so quickly. Plus, in a couple days Blair and Sam would've been isolated at the cabin instead of surrounded by police. This feels more like someone knew Sam was at the police station because of the bomb and waited for him to leave."
"I concur," Fraser agreed. "This appears to be more an act of desperation than the result of detailed planning."
Jim sighed. "The next question is, will this person be desperate enough to strike again?"
"So," Chuck stated, trying to stifle a yawn. "We're suppose to handle both a bomber AND mobsters?"
"I've been thinking about that," Gary replied.
"Oh, oh," Chuck commented, earning a glare.
"Really," Gary continued. "According to this article, everything was almost under control when the shooting started. If we can keep the mobsters from entering the church until the situation has cooled down, eveything should turn out all right."
"All right for who?" Chuck asked sarcastically. "Exactly how are we suppose to keep mobsters carrying guns from doing exactly what they want to do without getting shot?"
"We better think of something, or several people die," Gary pointed out.
"Gary? Chuck?" a pretty black woman cheerfully called out as she and her guide dog entered the bar. "I didn't expect you guys up so early."
"Why not? We work for Superman, remember?" Chuck grumbled as he laid his head on the bar.
"Oh, paper business," Marissa stated, nodding her head. "I hope you don't need me this morning. The staff and I are putting together finger sandwiches and cream puffs for the Randolf-Evers wedding this afternoon. The food has to be at St. Michael's by 10:30."
Chuck lifted his head to stare at Gary's wide eyes, thoughts zipping across the space. "Did you say St. Michael's?" Gary asked.
"Yes, it's that Catholic church over by the park."
Still reading his friend's expression, Chuck asked, "Ah, Marissa, are you going to have any extras?"
"Sure," Marissa replied with a shrug. "You hungry?"
Gary ignored the question. "You'll need some delivery help, won't you?"
"I hadn't planned..." Marissa paused, a worried look crossing her face. "Wait a minute. Why do you want to help?"
"Just let us know which trays are the extras," Gary informed her.
"Hold it! Just what are you planning to do with my cream puffs, Gary?"
Joan Connell walked up to her son and Dave near the front of the sanctuary. "Hi Dave, hi honey," she greeted, kissing Terry's cheek.
"Hi Mom," Terry greeted. "Where's Dad?"
"He's parking the car," Joan replied, studying the glum faces. "Any word on Sam?"
Terry sighed. "The police lieutenant told me he'd be here. I just can't believe all this has happened."
"I know, honey," Joan reassured him, giving her tall son a hug. "Everything will work out. If there is anything I can do..."
"Thanks, Mom," Terry replied, giving her a ghost of a grin. He knew his mother, a well-known attorney, had stormed straight from the airport to the police station yesterday to help Sam out of trouble. Only by that time, Sam was already in protective custody.
Joan glanced around, spotting Sunny talking with her bridesmaids along the side. Mrs. Darlene Lawrence was standing next to her daughter, a sour look on her face. Joan tried not to glare at the woman. While she adored Sunny, she'd rather have as little contact with Darlene as possible. It was the sudden thunderous look on the woman's face that drew Joan's attention to the door.
Sam walked in, flanked by a bouncy young man with a curly ponytail and a large, tall man with a military bearing. Two more men followed them in. Joan immediately recognized the blond as the Det. Vecchio in charge of the case. While the first three walked towards them, the last two split up and started walking around the church.
"Here's Sam," Dave announced with a sigh of relief.
"That's got to be Blair and Jim with him," Terry added. "I hadn't realized Jim had flown out, too."
"Who are Jim and Blair?" Joan asked.
Terry quickly explained, finishing just before Sam and his entourage joined them. Terry gave his best man a big smile. "I was beginning to worry."
"Hey, a little thing like a sniper isn't going to keep me away," Sam declared, returning his own quiet smile. "Blair, Jim, these are my friends, Terry Connell, Terry's mother Mrs. Joan Connell, and Dave Pajack. Everyone, this is my brother Blair Sandburg and our friend Jim Ellison."
"Hi," Blair greeted everyone, giving them an infectious grin. "Sorry for busting in like this."
"Sam's family is always welcome," Joan declared, ignoring the scathing glare from Darlene. She personally felt safer with Det. Ellison here. There was just something about him that made her feel protected. When the man sent an icy and dangerous glare back at the bride's mother, Joan knew she was going to love him. She was also impressed as to how quickly the ice turned to warmth as he patted Sam and his brother on their shoulders, then stepped back to survey the room.
Up front, Father Frank and Sister Steve had also noticed Sam's entry and the glare. "Who is that?" Frank asked Steve in a whisper.
"That's Det. Jim Ellison from Cascade. He's friends with Sam's brother, who I think is the short guy with the ponytail."
"Doesn't look very friendly," Frank commented, studying the detective.
Steve chuckled. "Sam said he's real protective of Blair. From what I gathered last night, he's also pretty protective of Sam as well."
"Then Thank Heavens he's on our side," Frank declared. Then he paused. "Is that a police dog?" he asked.
Steve's eyes widened as she, too, spotted Dief. "Actually, I think that might be a wolf."
"No." Frank and Steve looked at each other and shrugged. Life at St. Michael's was rarely routine. No reason a bomb, a dog, and a glaring detective should make a difference.
Cautious of zoning, Jim extended his senses around the room. He quickly noted the bridal party. The rude mother was now pointedly ignoring Sam, while the girls were discussing how cute Blair was. Saving the comments in his memory for later when he could tease his friend, Jim noted Sister Steve standing next to a priest, catching the part of their conversation discussing Dief. A voice suddenly roared through his earpiece. Jim was forced to pull back his hearing as Vecchio declared the balcony clean.
As he listened to Fraser's report on the confessionals, Jim focused on sight and smell. He noted two young women setting up the wedding candles at the front of the church. Seeing their nerves burst forth into giggles, he assumed they were part of that afternoon's wedding party. Thankfully, the candles weren't scented or he'd be sneezing his head off.
Then he spotted the women arranging the flowers. Remembering that they had also been there the day before, Jim focused his sight on each one. The first girl was concentrating on tying a spray of flowers to one of the pews. The other young woman was finishing hers while trying to catch glimpses of the young men, Sam in particular, near the front. Apparently, Sam's sex appeal was just as great as Blair's. Taking a quick glance at the brothers, Jim couldn't help but notice that while Blair was aware of the attention, Sam was not. Jim chuckled to himself. Sam's too focused on the bomb and the wedding to be thinking about girls. It probably hasn't even dawned on Sam that the girl might be interested. Oh well, maybe he'll find a girl that won't get all of us in trouble.
Finally, he turned his attention to the older woman near the hallway. She was artfully tweeking the bowl of flowers, then turned to see what her assistants were doing. That was when Jim noted a sparkle on the collar of her cream blouse. Focusing harder, the sparkle resolved into a gold eagle with green-jewel eyes.
"Damn," he whispered just as Blair touched his arm.
"What?" Blair asked.
In answer, Jim quickly tapped his headphone. "Guys, I've found our suspect."
"We have another problem," Fraser reported over the headset. "I've just found another bomb under Mr. Flesch's urn."
Gary had just handed the last of the required trays to Marissa's assistant when he spotted five men walking respectfully towards the church. He nudged Chuck with his foot. "Showtime," he whispered.
Chuck took a deep breath, then picked up the tray of cream puffs. Marching towards the men, he declared loudly, "They taste fine, Gary!"
Gary trotted behind him. "No, I still think they're missing something," he called out after his friend, making sure the men could hear him.
"They're fine!" Chuck stopped just short of plowing into one of the huge men. Looking up and still only seeing the man's chin, Chuck just barely prevented himself from turning tail and running in fright. With a deep breath, he continued with the charade. "Excuse me, do any of you like cream puffs?"
"I love cream puffs," one particularly beefy guy declared, looking over the tray.
"Then maybe you could settle something for us," Gary requested, sending his friend a glare. "Could you taste one and give us your opinion?"
Faced with a large tray of mouth-watering pastry, the man's face broke out in a smile. "I would love to." While he picked a cream puff off the tray, the other four men watched him longingly. He took a big bite. "Hmmm, I don't think there's anything wrong with this!" he stated, licking a bit of cream off his lip.
"You think anything is okay as long as it's sweet," another man told him. He turned to Chuck, his politeness incongruent with his rough exterior. "May I?"
"Be my guest," Chuck replied, trying to keep from smiling.
After a whispered suggestion from Blair, Terry and Dave drew the wedding party over to the side of the sanctuary while Sam casually walked over to Father Frank and Sister Steve. Joan walked over to the young women at the alter, quietly engaging them in conversation and leading them to another hallway.
Blair stepped back into his accustomed position behind Jim, eyeing the young women between Jim and their boss worriedly. They were way too close to the florist. He didn't see any way he could reach them without tipping off the suspect. Jim's jaw clenched when he realized where Blair had planted himself. He had told Blair to step back with the wedding party.
"What's going on?" Steve whispered as Sam stopped in front of them.
"Fraser found another bomb and Jim thinks the florist might be the bomber," Sam explained, glancing around for a good excuse to get the Father and Sister out of the open area.
"Lydia?" Father Frank repeated thoughtfully. "I thought something was troubling her, but I didn't think she was dangerous."
"Have you seen the new praise books, Sam?" Steve asked in a normal tone, then dropped to a hushed voice as she ushered them to the side. "Wasn't Lydia in the army?"
Frank nodded his head as they walked towards the pews.
"How do you want to play this?" Jim asked Ray casually, turning towards Blair to make it look like the two were having a quiet conversation.
"Do either of you have bomb disposal training?" Ray questioned as he swiftly climbed down from the balcony.
"I know some," Jim replied. Blair closed his eyes, again wishing Mac, the true expert, was there.
"Okay, how about I keep an eye on our suspect, while you take a look at the bomb."
"Agree. How do I get to the bomb?"
Ray quietly gave him directions. Jim and Blair then cautiously walked towards the side room with the urn as Ray walked up the aisle.
Suddenly, Lydia noted the movement around her. Realizing her gig was up, she yanked out a gun and fired twice towards the ceiling. Shrieks from the girls echoed in the santuary as everyone ducked. "Hold it right there!" she demanded.
Jim, Blair, and Ray paused. Fraser's voice softly asked over the headphones, "Is there a problem?"
Barely moving his lips, Ray replied, "Oh, I'd say so."
Chuck and Gary soon had not just the five mobsters taste-testing the cream puffs, but also had an usher from the Randolf-Evers wedding and a Mr. Connell trying them, too.
"Maybe a hint more vanilla," one of the men suggested.
"I don't know," the usher stated thoughtfully, "Much more would overpower it."
"Let me try another strawberry one," another of the mobsters requested. "I think I might have it figured out."
"Personally, I think they taste wonderful," Mr. Connell sighed. This was much better than a wedding rehearsal with his son's future mother-in-law glaring at everyone. "Where did you guys say you were from?"
"Did you hear something?" The first mobster turned back towards the church.
"Sounded like someone dropped a couple glasses," Gary dismissed, hoping nobody realized he was sweating due to nerves and not the heat.
Marrisa walked up with her assistant. "Hey, anyone want to try these sandwiches, too?"
Back against the wall with Father Frank and Steve, Sam quickly sized up the situation. Noting the banners on the wall and the ropes supporting them, Sam covertly pulled out his swiss army knife.
Nearer to the center of the church, Jim carefully placed himself so that he was standing between his partner and the gun. "Do you think this is the right place for a gun?"
"It is when the church is harboring murderers!" the woman proclaimed, moving her weapon back and forth to keep most of the crowd covered. Jim quickly realized this woman had weapons training, raising the potential danger another notch in his mind. At that moment, Jim sincerely wished he'd been able to bring his gun to Chicago.
"Murderers?" Blair asked, slipping past Jim. "You know, there is a police detective here. If you'd point out the murderers, he could take them into custody." Jim's jaw clenched tighter. Why did Blair insist on making himself a target? He searched the area for any possible advantage.
"I've already talked to the police!" the woman yelled at Blair. Her nose wrinkled as she parrotted snidely, "It was an accidental fire, ma'am. These things just happen." Her eyes darkened with anger as her voice grew cold. "All you cops are on the take. It wasn't an accident. Those damn nephews of his killed him! They wanted his business and they didn't want him to marry me!"
"Do you mean Mr. Flesch?" Ray asked, drawing her attention away from the anthropologist.
"Yes, damn it, I mean Rodger! My dear, sweet Rodger."
Blair's eyes widened as he exchanged a look with Jim. A 'sweet' numbers runner?
"So since no one is doing anything about it, I will! While those slimy nephews are crying their crocodile tears, I'll blow them up! Boom!" Half the people in the santuary jumped at the shouted 'boom', including Blair. "Then neither will profit off their dear uncle's death!"
While attempting to hear how Fraser was doing with the bomb, Jim finally noted a soft sawing sound. Glancing towards the front, he met Sam's eyes. Sam then glanced pointedly above the woman. Jim shifted his attention back to the bomber. He didn't want to give Sam's plan away.
"But what about the innocent people here?" Blair pointed out, regaining his calming guide voice. "What about your assistants? The people in the wedding? Surely you don't have anything against the Father and Sister Steve?"
"God will take care of them," Delmonte stated firmly. "But vengeance is MINE!" She turned the weapon towards Blair. "You were with that damn man who found my first bomb. His brother, right? I had everything so perfectly set up until HE ruined it. So I guess I can get back at him by starting with you." She began to depress the trigger.
"NOW!" Jim shouted as he tackled Blair. The bullet whizzed over their heads as the huge banner proclaiming 'God is Love' dropped from the ceiling. The heavy material forced the woman to the ground. Ray was there instantly, handcuffing the woman as she fought against the enveloping cloth.
Sam ran over to his brother and Jim. "You guys okay?" he asked worriedly, offering Jim a hand up.
"I'm fine," Blair replied as he stood up and brushed off his jeans. He gave his brother a quick hug.
"I'll be better once you stop making yourself a target," Jim growled at his partner. "Between you two, it'll be a race to see who gets gray first, your Dad or me."
Both brothers returned sheepish but unrepentive smiles. However, Jim's hearing picked up Mrs. Lawrence's aggravating whine, "That orphan bastard is going to get us all killed." His jaw clenched. His nerves were already stretched thin without that woman harping on Sam.
"Who undid the banner?" Ray asked as he secured the bomber to a nearby rail.
"Sam did," Sister Steve stated with a cheeky grin as she and Frank walked towards them. "Though now we're going to have to replace the rope."
"That is very little compared to what damage a bomb could do," Father Frank pointed out.
Jim, Blair and Ray all looked at each other. "BOMB!"
"No need for alarm," Fraser calmly stated as he walked out of the alcove. "I called in the bomb squad. They are working on it now. In addition, the timer still had more than an hour on it." He frowned slightly, glancing towards the wedding party against the far wall.
In the background, Jim could still hear that woman complaining about Sam. He was about ready to storm over there when he heard a sudden scream. Everyone turned to look, but it was Jim's special vision that provided the grand view of Mrs. Lawrence on the floor, feet in the air. Eyes widened as several people in the sanctuary tried not to laugh. Diefenbaker trotted up to Fraser and Ray. Jim could swear the wolf had a huge grin on his face.
"Diefenbaker," Fraser scolded softly. "Just because you do not like the woman does not mean you should trip her." However, Jim thought he could detect a satisfied twinkle in the man's eyes. Guess Blair has better taste in friends than I thought.
Father Frank and Sister Steve avoided looking at each other, knowing they would start laughing if they did. It was just another atypical day at St. Michael's.
That evening, McGinty's
Gary joined his friends at their table towards the back, running a hand through his damp hair.
"Hi Gary," Marissa smiled up at him. "Did you get all the gunk washed off?"
"I think so. But that is the last time I'm pulling a doll out of a duck pond."
"But if you hadn't, the little girl would have gone after it and drowned," Marissa pointed out.
"Yeah, I know. At least this time I didn't get stuck on a scaffold in an abandoned theater like I did with the monkey."
"It's tough being a hero," Marissa teased him.
"At least it was profitable this morning," Chuck declared. "We got three catering jobs from our diversion at St Michael's."
"We did?" Gary questioned in amazement.
"You betcha. One of the mobsters wants us to do his wife's 30th birthday party and another recommended us to his mother for some charity function. The usher recommended us to his sister, whose planning her wedding." Chuck rubbed his hands together in glee. "We're going to have to try the free samples routine again."
"Plus, we have reservations tonight for eleven from Mr. Thomas Connell," Marissa added. "He wants to give a little pre-wedding party for his son, his friends, and the detectives that helped with the whole bombing deal."
"They're coming here?" Gary looked around worriedly. "When?"
"Because the police never found out it was me who rescued Malloy and Sandburg. If they find out I was at the church, too, they'll get suspicious."
"Relax, Gare. If they ask questions, we'll send them to Crumb. He'll vouch for you," Marissa suggested, referring to their retired cop/bartender.
"Besides, it's too late now." Chuck waved towards the front doors.
"I'm just glad the Cubbies gave you guys a good show," Ray stated as they walked through the doors.
"It was a great show," Blair replied enthusiastically. "I loved watching Sosa hit that homer."
"Thanks again for taking us, Vecchio," Jim added.
"Yeah, thanks. Jim and I were at loose ends while the guys were getting their tuxes and stuff."
"You certainly got the better end of the deal," Sam commented.
"What? You didn't like running around Chicago, or has New York City and Europe spoiled you?" Terry teased.
"Too hot," Sam replied.
"I'll second that." Dave wiped his forehead. "This 103 stuff is ridiculous."
"It must be hot, since Fraser has ditched the uniform," Ray added, sending a calculating glance at his partner while keeping the smile off his face.
Fraser, dressed in light blue shirt and jeans, was holding the door open for Joan Connell and her mother-in-law Laura Connell. "I'm off duty, Ray. I don't need to wear my uniform."
Ray's smart remark was cut off when the hostess appeared to take them to the table. Once they were all seated, Laura commented, "I haven't been here since it was a dance club back during the war. They have really fixed up the place." She turned to her son. "How did you learn of it?"
"I met the new owner and his manager this morning. They were catering a wedding at St. Michael's and were handing out free samples."
"Yes," Joan commented, giving her husband a smile. "While we were all being threatened by a bomber, Tom was eating."
"What happened?" Terry's sister Chris asked, wide-eyed. She had just gotten into town that afternoon. Everyone at the table quickly caught her up-to-date.
"What happens to Ms. Delmonte now?" Dave asked.
"Oh, she's in lockup, pending a psychological exam," Ray explained.
"Detective Huey is looking into her allegations about the fire," Fraser added, "but so far nothing suspicious has come to light."
"Well, at least I don't have to worry about someone shooting my best man anymore," Terry commented with a grin.
"Aw, I didn't know you cared," Sam replied, returning the grin.
"I don't," Terry replied with a serious look. "You know how upset Sunny would be if the wedding was ruined by not having a best man?" The two old friends looked at each other and started laughing. Soon everyone joined in.
"Will you be able to stay for the wedding?" Joan asked Blair and Jim.
"Sorry, ma'am..." Jim started.
Jim tilted his head politely in her direction. "Joan. Thank you for the invitation, but we need to get back to Cascade."
"Yeah," Blair added, "Jim needs to get back to work, and I have a stack of paperwork I need to finish before Sam and I leave for the cabin Monday."
"Is your father joining you?" Fraser asked.
Sam and Blair exchanged worried looks. "We don't know," Sam replied.
"Neither of us has been able to reach him the last couple weeks," Blair added.
Sensing the strain, Chris quickly asked, "What is Mrs. Farrell's cabin like?"
As the conversation shifted, Jim quietly studied the two younger men. Both were now safe and sound. Yet what was up with MacGyver? It was totally unlike Mac not to show up in Chicago to help Sam. Simon had still not been able to reach him. Has the man who admitted that getting into trouble was 'in the genes' found trouble again himself?
And will MacGyver need help getting out of it?
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