"Friends are the family we choose" -- Anonymous
Tuesday, November 17
"Blair, if you donít remove that hand in three seconds, Iím gonna remove it from your arm." The unexpected increase to his Guideís heartbeat had Jim instantly tuned into the conversation downstairs.
"Sorry," Blair apologized, sounding rather unrepentant.
Jay also noticed the tone. She snorted. "Uh huh. Can I point out that Tate and I are still technically in a relationship? You know, the guy whoís green, with wings, claws, the ability to turn brick into powder?"
The former anthropologist chuckled. "Subtle. Very subtle."
Jim laughed to himself and finished buttoning his shirt. Better get down there before they kill each other. "Spaghettiís almost done," he called, tromping down the stairs.
Jay and Blair looked up from their position on the couch, surrounded by anthropology books, notebooks, and a blizzard of paper. "How can you tell?" Jay asked.
The Sentinel just grinned and tapped his nose before moving to deal with the food. That gave Blair the chance to lean over and mock whisper, "Actually, Mr. Anal Retentive has memorized exactly how long it takes to cook spaghetti, give or take three strands and half a minute."
Jimís grin flared into a full grown smile when Jay abruptly turned and walloped Blair over the head with one of the couch pillows. The former anthropologist yelped and bolted up from the couch. "Hey! What was that?!"
The girl smirked and rolled her eyes. "Some detective you are. Hello! I thought you were the psych minor, too. You should recognize negative reinforcement for inappropriate-" She broke off with a gasp, heart rate skyrocketing as she closed her eyes and began shaking her head back and forth in denial, accompanied by a stream of trembling, whispered obscenities.
Both detectives moved towards her. "Whatís wrong?" Jim demanded.
"N-nothing." She visibly gathered herself together, sitting up and attempted a shivering ghost of a smile. "Iím fine."
"Bullshit," Sandburg stated.
Jay looked at them for several long moments, face unreadable. Finally she sighed and leaned back, curling into the sofaís corner like an offended cat. "Iím still getting flashes." Spotting their questioning looks, she stared down, idly picking at the seam in her jeans leg. "Memories. Iím still gettiní them. One minute Iím just talking about the usual, the next Iím spouting off something I donít, canít know. Like the psych thing. I could care less, never even took a class, donít know jack shit, but Liz -" She broke off to swallow, pain glazing her eyes with old tears. "My... roommate. She - she was so damn obsessed with it. I swear to god she was reading the text book as soon as she got back from the bookstore. And I know it, I remember what it was like to read it, and understand it, to love absorbing every bit of information.... But itís not me. The nightmares are the worst. Itís then all of them come out, voices screaming in my head, Ďyouíre not me, you canít be meí but I am, I have their memories and in them I am them. Hundreds, maybe not a thousand, but too freaking many voices!" Her hands trembled upwards, curling into fists near her ears. "I thought this damn vampyre thing was over. I thought it was dead. But I keep hearing them, remembering the dead every. Single. Fucking. Night!"
Sentinel and Guide moved as one, each placing a reassuring hand on her shoulders. She glanced up, eyes meeting for a fraction of a second before dipping away again, still shining with the threat of tears. "I-Iím sorry. I donít know what the hell is with me and my mood swings."
Deciding to go with the better part of valor and get Jayís mind off the topic at hand, the Sentinel mentally shelved the discussion for later and headed back to the kitchen area. "Come on, foodís ready."
The pair kept up a light banter as they set the table and started to dig in, tossing friendly insults as the meal progressed. Both men noticed Jayís faint sniffles during their exchange, fear keeping the threat of tears even when they managed to coax smiles out of her. It was Blair who made the final move. "Hey, no sniffling allowed, ok? House Rule number 437. Right between my leftovers go in the red Tupperware, never the blue, and no macarena on pain of death." That managed to get a tiny smile, obviously not what Blair was looking for. "Come on, things arenít all that bad. I mean, hell, Thanksgiving is right around the corner."
Jay managed another tiny, though now bitter grin. "Thought this was supposed to cheer me up. Iím not going home for vacation."
She shrugged. "Need to cut corners somewhere. Between my hospital stay and Mom and Tate flying out to visit, things are really tight around the house. So if I spend turkey break here, and catch a ride down to San Fran for Christmas with the cousins, we should be back on track."
"So where are you staying?"
That earned Blair a confused look. "The dorms. I know itís not the Ritz or anything, but the food can at least pretend to be edible."
"Oh. I thought they still closed them for the long breaks."
Jay groaned and slumped forward, her head thunking onto the table next to the plate of spaghetti.
"What?" Jim said. No response except more moaning. "Jay?"
"Go away, I need to knock some sense into what passes for my brain."
"So you didnít know about the dorm thing?"
Jay paused long enough to look up and glare at Blair. "If I hadnít, I wouldnít be trying to maim myself, now would I?" She sighed and sat up, only to slump back and stare dejectedly at her food. "It came up, but in the vamp mess.... Damn. So much for cutting costs. Know any cheap motels?"
Jim glanced over at his partner, only to find that Sandburg was already looking his way. A moment of silent communication later, he turned back to Jay. "That depends."
"How well can you put up with sleeping on our couch for a week?"
Sentinel and Guide broke into laughter as Jay just stared at them, for once shocked speechless.
"Watch out, man," Blair snickered, "I mean, didnít you say I was only staying here a week?"
Monday, November 23
Simon Banks had been a cop for years. Heíd been captain for the last nine. The majority of that time heíd headed Major Crimes, the crew of detectives that took on whatever other departments couldnít handle. The men he led could boast of top arrest rates, solid conviction rates, stunning PR, several cops of the year, and one team of Sentinel and Guide.
And as usual, it was that pair giving him more than enough reason to go gray before the New Year rolled around. Their latest attempt was currently in the bullpen, seated behind Jimís desk. Idly swinging legs caused the chair to twist back and forth as the dark haired teenager glanced around the room, taking in everything with solemn, curious brown eyes. Those eyes were the only reason he hadnít taken his panic attack out of his office yet. If they were blue, heíd have ignored all departmental policies and gotten several glasses of alcohol into his system.
After all, Jim wouldíve told him if he had a kid. Right? Mentally dissecting his friend and detective, Simon grimaced. Ellison wasnít the type to fuck with the minds of his friends, or lie about any children he might have had. Embellishments about the ladies were one thing, but a kid was something altogether different. Although it had taken a murder case for him to even find out Jim had a brother.... Damn.
The girl couldnít be in her twenties yet, despite the age in those disturbing eyes. That would make Jim somewhere around an impulsive twenty, probably during his military stint, when the girl was born. One night stands could produce surprises. Her hair was a familiar shade of dark brown with a widowís peak under those bangs, sharing that with the receding hairline in Jimís grown out crew cut. Her face had a disturbing resemblance to Jimís; though it wasnít as long or planes so sharply defined, Simon could easily see a softened version of the detective there. There were even traces of the Ellison trademark smirk lurking around.
But her eyes were brown, not the ice blue he associated with the Ellisons heíd met. Thank God for small favors. But the question of the kidís identity was getting to him. Well, thereís one way to find out. Simon casually strolled out of his office and over to the desk, taking in the way the girl met his eyes and nodded with a polite, albeit nervous, smile.
"Any idea where Sandburg and Ellison are?" he asked, desperate to start on familiar ground. If she called Jim "Dad," then he could freak.
She smirked, almost sending him around the bend with the sheer weirdness. "Theyíre in the break room getting a caffeine fix. The coffee maker did its best to blow this morning, so theyíre trying to come as close to human as they ever will."
"Youíre taking this well," he commented almost absently, working away at the information sheíd given him.
She grinned and shrugged. "My entire family is that way. Iím the only one who avoids it in the morning. I know from experience that not even fireworks from an exploding Mr. Coffee will wake them up. No biggie, really."
Nothing reassuring one way or another in there. Damn, why couldnít the kid just tell him anything? He glanced discreetly at her visitorís pass. He couldnít make out the name without being obvious, but it was too short to be Ellison. Not like that said anything. Dammit, give me something concrete!
The silence stretched on, and the girl went back to politely scanning the room. It quickly became too much for the captain. "So just who are you?"
"Oh, jeeze!" She grinned sheepishly and held out a hand. "Sorry, complete brain lapse. Iím Jay Stiles."
He shook her hand. "Captain Simon Banks. Now what are you doing here?"
"Well, see, Iím an anthropology student at Rainier-"
Oh my god. Simon tried to shake off the sense of dťjŗ vu and fear induced adrenaline rush. Please donít say youíre doctorate writing. Not Sentinels, not thin blue line, nothing!
"And.... Well, Iím pretty much failing my major. Blairís been tutoring me, and over break we have to leave campus. Financial problems at home, so Iím not getting back to Connecticut for the week we have off. The guys are letting me rent their couch, and they decided payment for that and lessons could be one of three things. Cooking, and since I can burn tuna salad to nonexistence, thatís out; cleaning, which I avoid like the plague; so here I am!"
Duties as Captain drowned out confusion. His eyes narrowed, glare landing on Jay as he prepared to let his wrath out on the nearest victim. "You mean to tell me Ellison thought he could just drag in another student and have another ride along? Partners I understand, hell, Sandburg I understand at least part of the time, but two ride alongs are just ridiculous."
Jay lifted an eyebrow in an incredulous Mr. Spock expression. "Excuse me? ĎRide along?í Who the hell said anything about riding with them? Do you have any idea how Jim drives?" She leaned back in the chair and crossed her arms. "Iím staying right here and filling out forms, thank you. Iím highly qualified for that. Surviving Jimís driving skills in anything other than to and from the loft is way outta my league."
Laughter dispelled his anger. Simon was well aware of Jimís flat out horrible record with his vehicles Ė and an even worse one for the cars he managed to commandeer.
The detectives in question chose that moment to saunter in. Jim gave him a questioning look. "Two ride alongs?"
Jay sighed and rolled her eyes. "I am so not riding along with you. Especially when youíre driving."
Simon was shocked into silence when Jim glanced over at the girl, smirked, and replied, "The way you claw up upholstery? Wouldnít dream of giving you a chance to be in the truck and-" He shivered dramatically - "alone."
Jay snickered and retorted by sticking out her tongue at the detective. When that developed into a raspberry, Blair moved between the two. "Children, behave or no dessert," he mock threatened. That seemed to declare him the next target.
"Aww Dad!" Jim pretended to whine, playfully bopping his partner in the arm. Sandburgís grin widened and he whacked the older detective right back.
Joel Taggart, former captain of the bomb squad and now another member of Major Crimes, strolled in just in time for Jay to join in the retaliation. "Címon, Pops," she begged, leaning forward to actually flutter her lashes at Sandburg. "Weíll behave, really! Right, Jim?"
Ellison swatted her upside the head. "Right!" he grinned.
Joel came over, giving the detectives and girl a rather shell-shocked, curious look. "Pops?" he repeated. "Blair, you been holding something back from us?"
There was a moment of silence as Jim, Blair, and Jay shared a look. Then they burst into helpless laughter, nearly falling over in their hilarity.
"Blair? My dad?" Jay whooped finally. "Oh dear god no!"
He paused in his laughter long enough to give her a puppy dog look. "What, you donít think Iíd be a good father?"
"Not if you had me when you were ten."
Ellison finally managed to control his amusement. "Sorry, Joel, but no way. Jay here is just visiting."
"And helping with paperwork," she reminded him primly.
He rolled his eyes. "And helping with paperwork, though I donít know why she sounds so happy about that."
Joel gave the teenager a shaky smile. "Well I for one am glad for help. And anyone with better handwriting than Jimís is welcome."
She smirked right back at him. "Thanks! Speaking of which, any idea who I need to bug about that?"
"Thatíd be Rhonda. Come on, Iíll introduce you."
"Thanks. Iíll catch you guys later, ok?" Jay stood and waved to them before following Joel.
Simon chuckled in amazement and shook his head. "Howíd you end up with her tagging along?"
Jim and Blair shared a look, instantly setting off the Captainís mental alarms. That look usually preceded Weird Shit that only this pair could summon up. "This isnít a Sentinel thing, is it?" he asked worriedly.
Another Look. "Not... exactly, sir," Jim finally ventured.
"What do you mean, Ďnot exactlyí? How not exactly are we talking?"
"You really donít wanna know because it is way too weird, Simon," Blair said.
Simon paused and mulled over that one for a moment before morbid curiosity pushed him on. "Try the simple version."
"Um, the Calnor murder...."
He blinked. The rather mysterious murder of a Rainier student several weeks prior had been one of the few black marks of unsolved crimes on the Ellison/Sandburg record. The victim had been killed by unknown means, but the detectives had determined the killer was the now missing anthropology TA that had replaced Sandburg. Said TA had disappeared the night of the murder... a murder and an assault. "She was the other victim, right?"
Jim simply nodded. "Right," his partner filled in. "And believe me, man, after that it just gets surreal."
Considering he was talking to a Sentinel Ė a man who could increase his senses far beyond normal ranges Ė and his Guide Ė an admitted Shaman who kept Jim from entering zones, the dangerous waking coma where he concentrated on one sense too much Ė that was not a good sign.
"Enough said," he decided. "Does she know about the Sentinel thing?"
Again with the look. At this rate, they were going to use up the weekís ration before the day was over. "I trust her as much as I trust Blair," Jim finally said.
Well. That was a vote of extreme confidence. "Alright then. About that ride along thing.... Darylís home for the holidays, and heís still pretty determined to join the force. Since you have so much experience with a ride along...." He trailed off suggestively.
Blair started with his typical enthusiastic Sandburg Bounce. "Daryl? Oh man, thisíll be so cool!"
Jim grinned. "Sure, Simon, weíll be happy to take him along."
"Good, good. Just remember I do know where you live should anything happen." When the laughter died down, he directed them to Personnel, where his son was already filling out the appropriate paperwork.
The partners were gone before Simon realized heíd never had a chance to ask about Jayís parentage. Oh, damn.
It was gonna be a long day.
Simon glared around his office, checking it for any last details he might have forgotten. Satisfied with his work, the Captain left his sanctum for the bullpen. Shift change meant that it was actually quiet for once; most of the dayshift had already gone and the night crew had yet to arrive. The only residents were Rafe and the kid Sandburg and Ellison had dragged in. Morbid curiosity had Simon detouring to pass by the girl. "Whatíre you still doing here? I thought youíd be home by now."
She looked up from the computer to grin at him. "The guys are playing chauffeur. I think theyíre still busy down in Records or someplace. Leaving soon as theyíre done. Oh, and I think I was supposed to tell you Daryl was waiting for you in the garage?" Spotting that Rafe was putting on his coat, she held up a hand. "Hang on a sec, will ya?" She grabbed the nearest file and whistled shrilly at the detective. When she had his attention, she held up the paper. "Yo Rafe! The Saunders case- whatís the address?"
The detective paused for a moment, thinking it over. "Thatíd be 57 Elm Street."
Jay nodded. "Alright, thatís all I needed. Itíll be in your email tomorrow."
Rafe pretended to grovel in her direction. "Thank you, o great one."
She smirked back and made a face. "Same price tomorrow if youíre after more, smart ass. Groveling wonít help. And good luck on that date tonight, kay?"
"Thanks." He looked far too pleased with himself.
"Because man, you will really need all the luck you can get," Jay continued in a deadpan. Rafe made a face and a rude gesture.
"Yeah, yeah. See you later, Jay. ĎNight, Captain."
Simon waved, then looked at the girl in bemusement. She ignored him for a moment, hunting down letters on the keyboard to type in for what looked like a police report. She finally looked up. "Whaaat?"
He laughed and shook his head. "You certainly seem to have a fan."
That got an amused shrug. "Yeah, well, I did his reports for him. That means he has to like me. Besides, he and Brown took me to lunch when Blair and Jim couldnít make it back." She smirked. "Their suck up technique needs work. Anyway, lunch for paperwork and promises of any juicy secrets on the guys I might happen to find out while staying with them."
"Really. Secrets Iím sure youíll be happy to share with their boss, right?"
"Oh hell no." She grinned. "You want dirt on them, you get it yourself. Iím not here to do all of your work."
Typical teenager. Simon tried to hide his amusement. "Yeah, whatever. Have a good night."
He was almost down the seven flights of stairs to the garage before once again he remembered he hadnít asked about Jayís father. Double damn. Just one of those days.
Tuesday, November 24
Simon just could not figure out if the presence of Jay was a good thing or not. Sheíd spent the day in the bullpen again, disappearing only for quick raid on the break room for an extended snack break/breakfast with Rafe, Brown, Taggart, and even Megan Conner, the Australian inspector on loan to the department. While she seemed to be getting along well with the Major Crimes detectives and the office staff, she also seemed to have a remarkable talent for pissing off uniforms and several of the officers present. Heíd seen few things as amusing as the small teenager squared off in a restrained insult match against a beat cop that had made a snide remark about Ellison and Sandburg. Simon figured Jay had come away the loser, but her obvious guts in defending the pair had clearly marked her as one of Major Crimeís own... particularly with her apparent taste for filling out any type of paperwork to cross Sandburgís desk, which she had quickly claimed as her own for the week.
The frosted glass door to his office suddenly opened, revealing an almost panicked Detective Brown. "Captain, we got a problem. Jim really zoned, and Blairís out on the lunch run."
The captain swore and bolted into the bullpen, grateful that the few detectives that were aware of Ellisonís condition had somehow managed to kick the few lunch break workaholics out. Ellison stood beside his desk, statue still with a vacant look in his eyes. Simon paused, long enough to curse again. In the wake of the Captainís invective, there was a yelp from the bullpenís front entrance, followed by a thump and a brown-haired streak bolting to Jimís side.
"Aw, man, what the hell happened?" As expected, said streak was talking even before getting to Ellison, a typical Sandburgian spiel that was needed to pull the Sentinel back to reality. "Come on Jim, whatíd you zone on here? Come on back, partner, itís safe here, Iím here, the tribeís all good."
It was only when the speaker reached Jim, had continued talking with a hand resting on Jimís forearm that Simon registered it wasnít Blair. Simon pulled a literal double take, unwilling to believe what his senses were telling him. His eyes proclaimed that it was Jay standing beside Ellison, coaxing him back to reality with an expertise heís only seen in Sandburg. Far more disturbing was her voice, lowered to mimic Blairís far too accurately, even down to cadence and speech.
"Come on, your Guideís really starting to freak out here, man, so how about coming back, huh? Save me from humiliating you in front of the bullpen, ya know? Any time now, Jim."
Ellison took in a sudden deep breath, stumbling a little. Jay quickly moved to support him, and he gave a shaky smile. "Thanks, Chief." As the nickname slipped free, both froze. A moment later, Jay slipped free, bolting from the room and shoving past a surprised Blair Sandburg.
"Whatís goiní on?" Sandburg demanded, moving to his partnerís side.
"Thatís what Iíd like to know," Captain Banks growled.
Simon blinked as Ellison shoved away from his desk and towards the door. "Where do you think youíre going, Detective?" Normal Ellison stubbornness he could handle, but outright insubordination? Jim knew better.
"Long story, sir" Jim snapped right back, still leaving. "Iíll explain later."
Ok, so maybe he didnít know better. "Someone go after him!"
"Uh, you got it," Blair called, hurrying after his partner. Simon just sighed. "I didnít mean- oh hell." Yeah, it was one of those days.
Jim stalked through the hallway, hearing cranked up to methodically filter out sounds until he honed in on two familiar heartbeats: the reassuring cadence behind him that signaled Blair had followed, and the bird-quick hammering of his newest loftmate somewhere ahead and to the right.
He trailed after the rapid heartbeat, barely noticing where he was as he slipped into the Ladies Room. There was a faint groan from Blair, but the Sentinel knew there was only one person inside.
The bitter tang of vomit tried to rape Jimís nose when he entered, but he slammed down the mental dial to almost zero before he got more than a whiff of the vile smell. Blair, not nearly so fortunate, gagged and immediately moved to flush the toilet spewing the odor. Jim instead concentrated on Jay, who sat on the floor underneath the hand dryer, back against the wall and knees drawn up to her chest. She wasnít rocking, but the glazed appearance to her eyes signaled shock.
"Jay?" the Sentinel called softly.
Her eyes barely flickered up. "Get away," she whispered. "Please."
Instead the Sentinel sat down beside her, cautious of staying a careful distance apart. "Whatís wrong?"
This finally got her looking at him. It was a glare, but far better than the vacant rocking. "You zoned." That managed to make Blairís heart rate spike. "I pulled you out of it, and you thought I was Blair." She shivered. " I thought I was Blair. Donít you get it? Iím still channeling memories. I sucked out some of his to get you out of that. I thought you pulled me out before I got vampired. Or whatever the hell it is. I... oh god. Whatís happening?"
Now it was Blairís move. The Guide place a hand on her shoulder, ignoring Jayís instant reaction of twitching away. "Nothingís happening. This is just aftereffects." At her questioning look, he smiled. "We all exchanged memories, right?"
"Well, I remember some of Demonaís, some of Jimís, some of yours. You got the most, and from a lot more than just the four of us. Youíre getting flashbacks. Ever hear of post traumatic stress?"
She nodded cautiously. "Yeah. Thatís whatís happening?"
"Well Iím not psychologist, but it seems pretty damn valid."
"If you do say so yourself, right Chief?"
Blair grinned at Jim before making a face. "Right. Youíre trying to adjust to new abilities after a pretty damn traumatic event, and itís screwing with your mind. So of course youíre gonna get mood swings and flashes of memory. We pulled you out hours before you wouldíve changed. Youíre about as human as youíve ever been."
Jay looked down at her knees, faint smile appearing as she shook her head. "How come it makes so damn much sense when you rant about it?"
Jim grinned and patted her on the arm. "Thatís why heís the Guide and Shaman of the Great City. Just accept it, itís a lot easier that way."
She grinned back, then stood with a sigh. "Well guys, Iím sorry, but the sometimes gargoyle of the great city is over her pity party and ready for some alone time to try to get her life back together. I think Iím gonna take a walk. Iíll be back after dark, so no panicking about the missing loonie, Ďkay?" She walked out, not waiting for a response.
The partners sighed and shared a look. "This getting a little out of hand, or is it just me?" Blair asked.
Jim was almost saved from answering by the arrival of Megan Conner. The Aussie Inspector blinked and started down at them for a moment. "Do I want to know what you two are doing in the ladiesí? Or is this just the usual time to discuss deep emotional problems?"
The pair refused to look at her as they hurried out.
The problem with gliding, Jay mused idly as she stared down at her shoes, is once you get above rooftops you donít really have to think about what yer doiní. And if yer below roof level, every tom, dick, and loonie will come after you. Thinking was so not on her priority list. Ok, so sitting on a park bench and staring out over the harbor wasnít much more on the no brainer list, but it allowed her to people watch when she didnít want to keep on with the vague prioritizing she was trying to work out. Life seemed to have lost what little sense it had ever had. And to think my weird-shit-meter only went to 10 before gargoyles. Iíd say Tate was a definite 25, Servariusís experiments about, oh, 70 or so. Sentinels and immortal gargoyles... damn thing isnít even worth it anymore. She sighed and leaned back to glare up at the few stars that had appeared already. Really ought to be getting back to the loft. She frowned and glanced around the empty park. Course, it would help if I knew where the loft is. Better yet, where I am. Dammit, I would leave my garg friendly clothes at home today. Iím going through way too many pants this way. Damn, that sounds just wrong.
The sudden explosion of gunfire had Jay off the bench and in a fighting crouch serpant-quick. She glared around the now empty park, then mentally shrugged before racing off to find out what the hell was going on. Dammit. Another set of clothes is gonna bite the dust. I know it.
It was almost frighteningly easy to blend into the shadows, leaving the path to dart through the trees, drawn on by the occasional spurt of gunfire. She slowed as the shots grew closer, accompanied by frenzied footsteps. As the steps approached her, Jay melted behind a tree, waiting until whoever-it-was was almost past her. Then she swung around, neatly clothes-lining the person. The sudden yelp and multi-lingual curses stopped her seconds before pouncing on him. Oooh, no. Not even my luck is this bad. "Blair?"
The curses stopped. "Jay?" came the equally incredulous response.
"....well, shit. What the hellís going on?"
More gunfire, this time obviously aimed at them, delayed answers. Jay grabbed Blairís arm and hauled him upright, then both started sprinting.
"Whereís your gun?" Jay finally demanded.
"Home! I was going to pick up some stuff! I didnít think Iíd need it for a damn grocery run!"
"Theyíre between us and it."
She growled and glared around. Trees, water fountain, dock with boathouse, some benches. Come on, something to get height thatís not a fucking tree! Oh, hell. "Make for the boathouse."
"Trust me!" They put on another burst of speed towards the dock, and Jay slowed enough to concentrate on the change. Her sneakers splintered midstep, and she groaned farewell to another change of clothes. This was getting ridiculous.
When fully a gargoyle, she increased speed again, charging up on Blair and scooping him up. She ignored his whoops and yells of protest and clawed her way up the side of the boathouse, flinging herself off into the air even as three humans with guns made it out of the trees.
"OHHH MYYY GOOOOOD!!!!!"
"Jesus!" she yelped and tried to pull away from the roar right in her ear. "Dammit, shut up and stop squirming! I donít wanna drop you!"
That seemed to be the magic phrase. Blair froze, staring wild eyed at the water below them. When she was finally satisfied with her flight path and that no psychos were coming after them, Jay harrumphed and glared at the still frozen cop. "Chill. I wonít drop you, really, itís just that screaming in my ear is not a good thing."
"Sure, whatever." Blairís eyes were still glued to the panorama below.
"No, look, I swear, I wonít drop you. Try enjoying the view. Or at least tell me where the loft is relative to us."
That got a laugh out of him. "Youíre asking me?"
"Great. This is gonna be a wonderful flight back. And by the way, you owe me a new pair of sneakers."
"So whenís Sandburg due back?" Simon asked, casually studying the loft. Were there some more masks than last time? Hard to tell. Jim wouldnít put up with clutter, but Sandburg simply collected Ďstuff.í The plain brick walls went well with the assortment of exotic masks, a few plants, and shelves filled with a shockingly eclectic gathering of books. It was amazing how the men had combined their varying tastes together to make such a cozy, welcoming sanctum.
Jim looked up from the vegetables he and Daryl were slicing up for dinner. "Depends on how many stops he made." A smirk appeared, and once again Simon marveled at how much Ellison had changed thanks to that insane antho- former anthropologist. "Knowing Blair, that could be up to another half hour."
"Just for a few spices?" Daryl asked. His father snorted and grinned. "Oh. Right."
Simon paced over to casually test the pot of... stuff was the best description his mind could come up with, skillfully dodging Jimís irate attempt to rap his knuckles with the hilt of a carving knife, and then ignoring Ellisonís growled hint to watch TV or something similarly distracting. He couldnít sit still that long. There was a mystery here, and Simon Banks was determined to find out what it was. Sure, whatever Jay Stilesí problems were, they werenít that much of a mystery, but Jim was being maddeningly vague with details. Normally that was Blairís job.
He wandered over to the fridge, pulling out a beer. He turned, and noticed something was wrong. Jim had stopped cutting vegetables to glare out the closed sliding doors that led to the loftís balcony. The Sentinelís head was tilted to the side as he frowned slightly, brow furrowed in confusion.
"Whatís wrong?" Simon demanded.
"Iím... not sure." With that cryptic statement, Jim put the knife down and started towards the balcony. Simon followed, so he got a wonderful view when the monster landed and put Blair Sandburg down.
Blairís curse instantly had Jayís attention. She followed his gaze into the apartment and froze at the sight of Caption Banks and his son. "Major shit," she echoed.
Captain Banks apparently took that as a cue and pulled out his gun, aiming it at Jay. She groaned, but Jim moved in front of the Captain, apparently talking him into standing down.
Neither Jay nor Blair relaxed. They were too busy evaluating the possible reactions Jim would have.
"Iíll, um, just be going now," Jay said. Inside, the Sentinel glared at her and slowly shook his head. "But... I really donít wanna be in the way or anything and-"
Jim pointed inside as a clear order.
"Shit. Weíre so dead," Blair groaned.
Jim gave them a feral grin and slowly nodded.
Blair slowly opened the doors and walked in, the monster following. In the light, it was even more shocking, what with the blue skin, batwings, and bladed tail. While its every feature was entirely predatory, sharp angles and spikes to take down prey, its demeanor was entirely different. The creature lurked behind Sandburg as if the detective would protect it, while every limb and even to a mild degree the pointed ears drooped like imitating the worldís biggest kicked puppy. Simon wasnít sure where to look; at the monster or his apparently insane detectives. The creature made up his mind the next moment.
"Jim, I swear we can explain," the monster said.
Simonís jaw dropped. It talks?!?
Daryl's murmur of "Coool," grabbed the thing's attention, then it turned to the older Banks upon noticing his look, and it straightened, the embarrassed hunch disappearing behind what looked like might actually be offended dignity. "Yes, I talk. In fact Iím fully sentient, and really donít like being called monster, creature, or it. You, she, or Jay works a hell of a lot better and doesnít piss me off." Piece said, she slumped down onto the couch, crossed arms and pout making her look more like an insulted teenager than.... whatever it Ė she! Ė was.
"How-?" the Captain managed.
The... thing looked up at him with a sardonic grin. "No, I donít read minds." The grin disappeared, replaced by a shiver and haunted look chasing across her face. The fleeting fear was quickly covered, and she managed a slightly smaller smirk. "Iím just used to that as the general first reaction. God knows thatís how I took my first meeting with a gargoyle. Aside from the whole gun thing, youíve done a lot better than most people."
Jim interrupted before he could get an answer. The Sentinel moved to glare at the thing, giving her his best suspect intimidation look. "What happened?"
She looked up at him, unimpressed. "I told you, I went for a walk, and it did last after dark."
"Donít try that on me. You and Sandburg came flying in here-"
"Gliding. Canít fly."
"Donít interrupt! Whatever it is, you got him to leave the Volvo and get over the heights fear to glide home? That is not normal."
She snickered. "So says the Sentinel of the Great City."
Jim shook a finger in her face. "Do not try to change the subject, Jay!"
"Hey man, back off, ok?" Blair called, moving almost in between them. "She was just helping me out, ok?"
"Out of what?"
Even through his annoyance at being ignored, Simon was impressed. Sandburg had a way of standing up to Ellison like no one else. Well, up until heíd seen the blue thing there face him.
"Some guys tried to mug me, ok?"
Volcano Ellison stopped, simmered, and nearly blew. "What?" It was so obviously the calm before the eruption that Simon almost didnít resist the urge to duck behind the stove. This would not be pretty.
"Jim." The gentle reprimand came from the unexpected source of the blue girl. She leaned forward, glaring solemnly up at the Sentinel towering over her. "Heís safe, weíre safe. Running seemed like a better option at the time, but it wasnít the only one, ok? We couldíve taken them. This just gave more options. Weíre safe. Now stuff the interrogation for later and tell me why we have guests. Not to mention why youíre having me terrorize Captain Banks and Daryl."
Ellison remained stone faced for awhile, the muscles along his jaw quivering as teeth ground together. The thing and Blair put a hand each on his arm. For a long moment, it looked as if the Sentinel would remain pissed, but finally he relaxed. "Simon deserves an explanation."
"Finally," he pretended to grouch, getting tense smiles from everyone.
The blue creature nodded, horns dipping dangerously close to Ellisonís face. "Well, itís a long story," she started, pulling her legs up onto the couch cushions. Or at least, trying to. Seconds before the three giant toes settled onto the fabric, Jim reached over and whacked her legs off the couch. She gave him a hurt puppy dog look. "What?"
"Not on the couch," Ellison growled.
"No. No gargoyle feet on the couch, Jay. Youíve already punctured one cushion, youíre not going to get another."
"Oh fine." Her feet plunked on the floor and she glared at Jim over crossed arms. "Just donít be surprised if you get stuck with an overgrown rain spout on the balcony tomorrow while you do your own damn paperwork."
Oh no. Oh dear God no! Simon abruptly had to sit down. His only other coherent thought died down to, please, donít let Jim be her father!
Jay sighed and carefully cloaked her wings. The captain was pretty quick, sheíd give him that. Would probably explain why he was Captain.
Blair and Jim retreated to the kitchen area when he had sunk down into the chair, wild eyed and pale. She didnít even try to hold back her sardonic grin. "Congrats. You havenít run screaming in fear yet. Thatís a good sign."
Daryl looked from her to his father, then back again. "Whatís going on?"
Jay gave him a fangy, exaggerated grin and held out her hand. "Jay Stiles. I donít think weíve been properly introduced yet. Iím the chick whoís been doing paperwork... well, by now itís basically most of Major Crimes."
He stared at her in confusion. "But... sheís... well...."
"Human?" Jay offered. "Well, I am. Sorta." She frowned. "Ok, so I donít really know how Iíd be classified. Long story short: I was born human and stayed that way until about two and a half years ago, when an insane geneticist got his hands on me, played God with my genes so I turn into a gargoyle at will. Gargoyles are a race of beings native to earth that are genetically impelled to protect." She took a deep breath. "Jim and Blair helped me a bit ago when my mind was heading towards becoming soggy French toast, and due to circumstances Iím not gonna go into because itís too weird for my mind to handle Ė which is really saying something! Ė every now and then I start acting schizo." The frown deepened for a moment as a memory bubbled to the surface. "Strike that. Multiple personalities." She shrugged. "Iíd say Ďreally weirdí, but then how could you tell?"
Snickers from the kitchen managed to distract both Banks from their gape mouthed staring.
"Is she serious?" Simon finally managed.
Sandburg grinned ruefully and shrugged. "You can accept Sentinels and not gargoyles?"
Sandburg happily ignored that. "Actually, Iíve got a few theories that the two are related."
The former anthropologist smirked at the quartet of shocked faces. "Well, think about it. The inborn need to protect, enhanced senses to help the tribe-"
"Weíve been over that before," Jay said, overcoming shock to jump into the discussion. "I may have better hearing and smell, but a lot less touch and taste. And aside from the better night vision, my eyes havenít changed. So that theory is screwed."
Blair visibly geared up for a lecture, and Simon leaned over. "This is gonna be a long night," he muttered to her.
Jay couldnít help but to laugh. She wouldnít have it any other way.
Wednesday, November 25
There were times Megan really, really hated America. It wasnít bad enough the horrible way the Yanks drove, or the bloody awful beer, but the criminals really pissed her off. Exhibit A, for example: some drugged man in his early twenties, with a gun, and greasy and smelly beyond belief. Heíd managed to catch her off guard while investigating the squatters of this abandoned apartment building, so now she was restrained with her own handcuffs and gagged with something she did not want to consider, held far too close to the just plain nasty man while he raved at the negotiating team outside. And to top it off, half of Cascade PD had to be camped outside, including Major Crimes, which was just too damn embarrassing. At least she didnít have to put up with Jimbo or Sandy. Though just watch, theyíd come charging to the rescue Ė again. As if she wasnít suffering enough.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a low, maniacal giggle that echoed through the empty room. Meganís captor spun around, dragging her with him to use her as a shield. "Whoís there?!"
The giggles lowered into slow laughter that raised the hairs on Meganís neck. The voice sounded inhuman, reverberating in a way far beyond the capabilities of any human throat.
The gunman spun again, and finally stopped aiming around him and instead at the inspectorís temple. Well shit. "Come on out or the chick gets it!"
The laughter peaked. "Odd," an animalistic voice rumbled to their left, "most of the time you humans just want me to go away."
"Iím serious!" he yelled, voice almost cracking in his obvious panic.
"Oh, so am I." The voice was now to the right, behind them. Megan snarled as the druggie spun again. Much more and sheíd just throw up on him and damn the consequences. "And please, go right ahead and kill her." What!? "Why do you think Iíve come for you now, meat?"
"What the fuckís that síposed to mean?"
Again with that spine chilling giggle. "Donít you see? Sheís still mostly of the light. I canít touch her. You, though.... mmm." It was practically a purr. Megan thought she caught the blur of movement, then her captor jumped and yelped in pain. "Iíve marked you now. You are mine, meat. Marked and claimed for eternity." With that, two glowing red eyes sprang into being.
Megan tried to screech Ė not scream, she never screamed Ė while her captor yelped and immediately fired his gun at the eyes. They blinked out, only to reappear to the left. "You really think you can so easily extinguish the dark in your soul?" The voice sounded amused. It was not reassuring. "You should be... delicious."
"What the fuck are you?!?"
"Your kind has many names for mine. Monster, demon.... Whatever. It is not important. All you need to know is that you are mine."
"Hell no!" Megan could easily see how nervous he was getting. Too much more and heíd probably shoot everything in sight.
Another evil chuckle. "Small chance of that. It would take one far into the light to protect you. He is near, but Iíve made my claim. Iíll take a soul from here tonight."
Time froze, then the gunman moved his gun back towards the Aussie. "What about her?"
"She is much further in the light than you." Megan choked back a panicked laugh. Considering the amount of floods the cops outside were using, that was certainly true. But in a metaphorical sense... ok, so itíd be hard to be worse. God? Now is a good time to start that forgiveness thing. "I canít mark one so into the light.... Delicious as she would be."
The gunman shifted. "Come on, canít we like, make a deal or somethiní?"
The pause froze time in glass. "There is a way," the voice declared slowly. "Give her to me. Then run, and perhaps if you make it to the Light One, he could protect you. Perhaps...."
He nodded frantically. "Okay, okay, so how do we do this?"
The eyes rose a bit. "I relinquish any claim upon you, breaking any present hold in exchange for the woman, whole and unharmed." The dignified speech was broken by an evil chuckle. "It ruins the taste. One I have the woman, youíve 10 minutes to gain protection. Then you are free game."
The man unexpectedly pushed Megan towards the eyes, darting for the stairs. She screamed as talons closed over her arms with shocking gentleness. No bruises! she thought rather hysterically. "You ok?" a girlís voice asked quietly with just a tinge of panic clouding her words. "Oh, gag, right." One set of claws left her arm to remove the gag with far more care that Megan thought possible or likely.
"What the hell are you?" the Inspector yelled as soon as possible, taking advantage of the whateverís distraction and twisting free. When she got her balance, she immediately spun, kicking out. The thing yelped and fell away from her. The door slammed open, sending light into the room. And of course, Ellison and Sandburg were the ones to arrive.
The light also nicely illuminated the creature with the glowing red eyes. The blue, humanoid thing with bat wings and tail looked shockingly demonic, which stunned Megan even more that Ellison spared her a quick glance, then hurried to itís side. Blair helped her instead, but both seemed more concerned with the creature.
"Jay?" Ellison called, kneeling down.
"Oooooh, god," it moaned. "I cannot believe I just did that."
"What the bloody hell is going on?? Díyou have any idea what that thing was promising?"
It shivered. The monster actually shivered and curled up into a ball. " Ďm sorry," it Ė she? Ė whimpered. "Dint mean it, best I could bullshit."
"Shh, itís okay, itís alright," Jim Ellison actually crooned, pulling the demon close like it was a little kid, "it worked."
"But Ė but Ė ooooh, god!" It burst into hysterical tears, talons digging into Ellisonís sweater in a way that had to ruin the weave.
"Shh," he continued in that bizarrely soft, caring tone, "weíre all safe, kid. Change and weíll get you outta here."
"Just do it, ok?"
She hesitated for one moment, then snuggled close and... changed.
Oooh... my... god! Megan thought in pure shock.
Megan alternated her looks between her mug of coffee and Jay, who was curled up in the arm chair, wrapped in an afghan and sipping her own cup of cocoa. She looked bizarrely human, and totally in shock. The clinical, emotionless tone in which sheís told her story was equally disturbing. When Jay finally disappeared to the bathroom, Megan jumped on the opportunity.
"Ok, I guess I get the bad vibes about the monster thing, but what I donít understand is the whole...." She hesitated, uncertain of how to exactly put it.
"Mental breakdown?" Jim suggested.
"Yes." She nodded, relieved to have someone else come right out and say it.
Blair leaned forward, occasionally removing a hand from his mug to gesture an emphasis to his speech. "Consider it an identity crisis. Gargoyle, human, something better in between.... Sheís trying to find her place, and in that she also has to deal with getting a shitload of other peopleís memories. She canít cope without the mood swings, which also are probably coming from emotional responses founded in those memories too."
"So basically Iím just really fucked up mentally, right?" Jayís sarcastic question jerked them around to stare at the girl standing in the bathroom doorway. She smirked and sat down, only the faint quivering in her hands as she reached for the mug signaling she wasnít back to what Megan had thought was her "usual" state. "I coulda told you that."
When the last, comfortably stuffed cop was seen to the door, Blair collapsed into the armchair with a relieved sigh. Jay and Jim looked back from their sprawls on the couch.
"Wow," Jay finally said. "You cops can party."
Jim suddenly dissolved into laughter. "Held your own pretty damn well, kid. I donít think Rafe is gonna be the same after your little stunt with the walnuts."
"Well...." She smirked and pretended a coy glance to the side. "He did say he only had two."
Neither detective could hold back laughter at the thought of Rafeís expression at Jayís practical jokes. The reminiscing and digesting were disrupted when Jay finally leaned back and let loose a jaw cracking yawn.
"Turkey finally getting to you?" Blair asked with a grin.
The girl grinned sheepishly back. "Sorry. Just been spending too much... *yawn* Ďscuse me. Too much time as a gargoyle lately." When she got blank stares, she blushed. "Uh, ok, too many nights as a gargoyle, not enough daytime as a gargoyle."
"The way you sleep in?" Jim asked. "Youíre harder to wake than Blair is."
"Yeah, but thatís not enough. See.... oh hell. How did Nina explain it again?" Jay chewed on her lip for a moment. "Ok, see, gargoyles compared to humans. Those extra limbs mean extra muscles, and extra muscles need extra food for a normal level of energy. And the whole transformation thing calls for a hellacious amount too. So I burn extreme calories just by changing." She looked down at herself and grinned ruefully. "Believe me, thereís no way I got and keep this figure through exercise. I flat out donít. Itís hard enough not turning into a stick figure."
Blair leaned forward, inner anthropologist at the fore, fascinated with this look at a new species, and facts that surely influenced their culture. "So how do gargoyles do it?"
"The turning to stone thing. Itís... not exactly stone. Think the camouflaged solar cells from hell."
"Solar energy?" Jim repeated. "Thatís impossible."
The sometimes gargoyle shrugged. "Itís also impossible for eels to conduct electricity, and humans to see license plates three blocks away without mechanical aid. I donít know how it works, just that it does. So anyway, given the options of eating out the refrigerator including the purple fuzzed bugs in the back, or spending the day stoned, I think Iím gonna take the day off and act as a drain spout tomorrow."
Jim nodded absently. "The balcony should be fine. Just one question. What purple fuzzed bugs, and what color Tupperware container was it in?"
Friday, November 27
Jay stretched yawned, savoring the feel of her stone shroud falling to bits around her. After one more twist and contented grunt, she turned to the glass doors, and froze. Then she just slumped with a frustrated sigh. "Dammit, what is it with cops trying to shoot me lately? Iím one of the good guys!"
Rafe and Brown didnít lower their guns, but the shocked expressions on their faces said it all.
"Oh, hell with it," Jay snapped, the euphoria of waking up giving way to annoyance at having to go through the whole damn story again. She crossed her arms, shifted to human form, and tried to ignore the breeze wafting through the tailhole while glaring at the detectives. "Ok, start with the screaming. But shoot me and Iíll ream you a new one."
Now the guns dropped with shock. "Jay?" Rafe whispered, his face ghost white.
"No. Santa Claus."
"Jeeesus. Girl, what happened to you?" Brown asked when that silenced his partner.
"Well letís see. PMS, I get unusually bitchy when I wake up to find guns pointed at me, I havenít got a clue why Jim and Blair arenít playing crowd control, for which they will suffer later on, oh, and Iím still getting flashbacks from dead people. What on earth is there to be grumpy about?"
"Uh...." Rafe cleared his throat before speaking, his accent coming to the fore for once. "I think he meant the whole... blue thing with wings, and.... You know."
"Gargoyle. The word is gargoyle. Insane geneticist, donít ask, and whatíre you doing here? No offense, really."
"Weíre looking for the guys."
Oooh, shit. Jay sighed. "Does that mean what I think it means?"
Brown shifted from foot to foot, still not holstering his gun. "It means they went to interview a suspect before lunch, and havenít been in contact since."
".....dammit. Sentinel stew, with a side dish of pureed Guide, I swear."
"What?!" she snapped, glaring at both detectives.
Again Rafe cleared his throat. "Uh.... Your eyes. Are they supposed to be doing that?"
"Oh." She blinked. "Sorry. Itís the gargoyle thing."
The trio was saved from uncomfortable silence by the opening door. Jay instantly shifted, while the humans raised their guns again.
A very muddy, banged up Jim and Blair stared back in surprise. "Whatís going on?" the Sentinel demanded.
The was a delicate pause, then a low, rumbling growl from Jay. "Youíre both about to become dead men."
The partners exchanged a look. "Ohkaaaay," Blair drawled. "Rafe, you wanna try to explain?"
He shrugged, put away his gun, and nodded toward Jay. "Actually, Iím with her. You havenít been seen since lunch, the Captainís been having a fit since two, and weíve combed all of Cascade before finding out our new secretary was out Ďcause her cold actually turned her into a gargoyle."
Blair and Jim exchanged a look. "We can explain, really."
Brown chuckled evilly. "You better have a good story for the Captain. But, uh, can we get some info before the official report?"
"Why?" Jim asked with a suspicious glare.
"Some early results for the Ellison/Sandburg pool. We got good odds on you two busting up some of the local mafia."
When Sentinel and Guide shared a look, Jay sighed and wandered inside to collapse onto the couch. "Iím not sure which I wanna ask. Please tell me you didnít, or please tell me this isnít a usual event?"
Brown chuckled and placed a friendly arm around her shoulders. "Girl, you ainít seen nothing yet. Welcome to Cascade."
Many thanks to Datafage for proofreading when I really needed it, M.C. for all the creative help, and Karan for her suggestions that helped make it just a little bit better (I hope! ;)
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Gargs, Servaruis, and any related material belongs to Disney, used without permission or profit, no infringement intended, so please don't sue. Jay, Tate, and the Connecticut clan are my own (don't steal!), and everything else is property of Pet Fly Productions and therefore Paramount, also used without permission, no profit is being made, yadda yadda.