Scully turned and left the office to tell Mulder the change in
plans, practically walking into Ellen as she left. Skinner's secretary
skillfully maneuvered around the agent, then informed her boss,
"Mr. Smith is on the phone for you, sir," and quickly
left the office.
Skinner took a deep breath to calm his rage, then picked up the
phone. He wanted to make this short and sweet--the things he had
to say to that foul black-lunged nightmare he wanted to say directly
to his face, not over the phone.
The cigarette-smoking man sounded far too cheerful for his own
good. "Ah, Mr. Skinner, what can I do for you today?"
It took every ounce of military discipline not to chew the man
out over the phone. He made his demands brief and to the point.
"I need to see you. The Reflecting Pool. One hour, or I tell
Mulder exactly what you did to Agent Scully, and you'll probably
be finding a bullet in your head sometime around midnight."
The man on the other end of the phone knew a threat when he heard
one, and what he had just heard was not a threat. It was a promise.
"Very well, then. One hour." *click*
Skinner hung up his end of the phone and sighed. He had promised
Jim Ellison that he would keep their secret, and help him, 'should
anything happen.' He had broken far too many promises to the soldier
in the past. It was time he finally kept one.
Scully charged into the office and sat down just as Mulder got
off the phone. Before she could say anything, Mulder informed
her, "I just got off the phone with Byers. Apparently, the
night of Jim's abduction, there were all the standard bright lights,
flying saucer reports, etc., that come with your standard abduction
story. But this time, he also found out that the majority of the
reports have the 'flying saucer' heading west over Cascade toward
the mountains. They also found reports of several military transport
trains 'with top secret cargo' heading in the same direction.
The Gunmen suggested that we fly out tonight and start the search.
They'll drive the truck to Washington and meet us there in a couple
Since Mulder was forced to take a breath, Scully was able to catch
him, informing him, "we're going to be on a flight leaving
later this afternoon. We can't write up a 302 on this one, so
Skinner's filling out paid leave-of-absence forms for the three
Mulder caught the last part of her statement. "The three
"Skinner's coming with us. He feels he owes Jim after the
whole Washington Towers incident."
"Sounds good to me." Mulder turned on the speakerphone
and dialed the number for the Cascade PD he had taken from Jim
Ellison's business card.
Blair heard Jim's phone ring for the first time since he had sent
the e-mail to Washington. He answered the phone, "Jim Ellison's
line, this is Blair."
In their basement office, both agents answered, "Hi Blair!"
Blair's mood brightened considerably, which got Simon's attention
immediately. "Hi guys! Did you get my e-mail?"
Solemnly, Mulder replied, "yeah, we did. How're you holding
"It ain't easy, that's for sure. So what do you guys think?"
Scully replied, anger coloring her voice, "we have a pretty
good idea of who took Jim, Blair."
[So this _is_ about covert ops,] thought Blair. He could barely
keep the anger out of his own voice as he asked, "Does this
have anything to do with our meeting with your boss?"
Scully replied, "I don't think so. Skinner's agreed to help
us with the search, even putting the three of us on paid leaves-of-absence
to do it. Also, as I left his office, I heard him telling his
secretary to put a man on the phone who I believe is the real
culprit behind Jim's abduction. My guess is he was planning to
shake this man down for information, though knowing the man in
question, I doubt Skinner will get anything useful from him."
Mulder gave Scully a questioning look with his eyes, and one look
from her told him exactly who it was that Skinner was talking
to. The agent banged his fist on the table in frustration as Scully
continued, "we'll be on a flight to Cascade later this afternoon.
I'll let you know the flight information as soon as we get it."
Blair asked, "have you talked to the Gunmen about what happened?"
Mulder was about to nod, then realized that he was on the phone.
"We have. They're driving the truck out to Cascade, and should
meet us there in a few days. Have you heard from Jim yet?"
Blair tried once more to reach out telepathically to his partner,
only to hear silence at the other end. "Nothing yet. He's
Scully replied, "trust me, Blair. Knowing the men who took
Jim, that may be in his best interests for now."
Blair wondered why Scully was being so cryptic, then decided he
would ask her about it later. "So you'll call me as soon
as you get the flight information?"
Both agents replied, "we promise."
Mulder then concluded the call, "see you soon, Blair. Hang
in there--we'll find him."
"Thanks, guys. See you soon." *click*
The second Blair was off the phone Simon was on his case. "Sandburg,
I need to see you in my office _now_."
The two men walked into Simon's office and the captain closed
the door. Before Blair could say a word, Simon demanded, "that
was _not_ a conversation between people who worked together once
and haven't seen each other in a year. Now exactly _what_ is going
Blair sighed and sat down. Evidently, he was going to have quite
a bit of explaining to do.
It had been an unusually cold spring in Washington, and Skinner
wished, not for the first time, that he had a little hair to keep
the top of his head warm. Those casual thoughts were banished
from his mind, however, as a short, gray-haired old man walked
up to him like he owned the world. For, in his mind, he believed
he truly did own the world.
The older man stomped his Morley cigarette on the ground and promptly
lit a new one as he greeted the Assistant Director. It was clear
from the tone in his voice that he was not happy to be meeting
with the younger man. "So, Mr. Skinner, what is so important
that you feel the need to drag me out here in the middle of the
day with thinly veiled threats?"
The ex-soldier kept his voice on an even keel. "I think you
know who we're here about. Where is he?"
The older man raised an eyebrow in surprise. "Oh, is that
all? Don't worry, Skinner. We'll return him after we're finished
with him. Of course, I can't vouch for the condition he'll be
in when we do return him…"
Skinner's anger was no longer confinable. It would be a cold day
in Hell before he would let anyone he knew go through the things
this man was implying they were going to do to James Ellison.
That is, if they haven't started already. He grabbed the older
man by the lapels and growled, "I have had _enough_ of your
games, old man. _When_ we find Jim Ellison, you had better pray
that we find him in one piece, because I will not be responsible
for anything that might happen to you if we don't."
The older man practically laughed at the threat. "And what
makes you think that you _will_ find him, Mr. Skinner? After all,
isn't Agent Mulder still looking for his sister?"
[Okay, that's it,] thought Skinner. The Assistant Director did
something that he had been waiting to do for fifteen years; something
that the older man never thought the younger man would never have
the courage to do.
He decked him.
Skinner landed two solid shots: a right jab to the stomach, followed
by a left-handed uppercut to the man's jaw that was powerful enough
to send the older man for a swim in the Reflecting Pool. Before
the older man could get a chance to say or do anything in response,
Skinner turned on his heels and walked back toward the Hoover
The Assistant Director knew he hadn't heard the last of his evil
black-lunged superior. [Well,] he thought briefly, [former superior.]
But for now, he could take great comfort in the fact that he was
feeling the best he's felt about himself in years.
That was the only thing that registered in Jim Ellison's mind
as he slowly came back to consciousness. The light was so bright
it hurt his eyes, so he closed his eyes and turned down the sensitivity
of his vision the way Blair had taught him--
Where was Blair?
He sat up quickly, only to experience a headache like none he
had ever experienced before. He screamed in response to the excruciating
He felt a pair of cold, unfamiliar hands grab his shoulders while
a unfamiliar female voice tried to speak to him in a soothing,
reassuring, tone. He flinched at the touch while the voice continued
to soothe, "whoa, whoa, take it easy big guy! The drugs haven't
worn off yet. Trust me, you don't want to make any sudden moves.
Now take a deep breath, lie down and try to relax."
Even though the voice rang loudly in his ears, the tone was soothing
enough that he was able to latch on to it, the same way he latched
onto Blair's voice when he was in 'guide mode'. Jim drew in a
deep breath, and let it out as instructed. Lying down dulled the
pain enough that he was able to rein in control of his senses,
and that's when he felt it.
It felt like it has been stretched thin, but it was definitely
alive. He could feel the energy surging across it, and he latched
onto that energy like a lifeline, repairing and strengthening
the line until he could feel the connection as strong as he had
felt it before. He sent a message through the link, trying to
reach his guide. 'Blair?'
Cascade Police Department
Major Crimes Division
March 23, 1997
Blair had just finished explaining to Captain Banks how having
two Sentinels around had helped them solve the Marcus Christopher
murder case, and was about to get into meeting the Lone Gunmen
at the Washington Towers when something that felt to him like
a blast of energy knocked him off his chair. As he heard his Sentinel's
voice echoing in his head, only one thought came to mind, and
he told Simon as he got up off the floor, "Simon, it's Jim.
He's awake." He then focused all his attention on his missing
Sentinel. 'Jim? Are you all right?'
Jim thought about his previously aching head and replied, 'I think
so. They pumped me full of some sort of weird sedative, I think.
When I first woke up from it, my senses had gone haywire, and
I had a monster headache. Lying down helped it, though.'
'Can you give us any clue as to where you are?'
Jim extended his hearing as far as he could, but he could hear
no other human beings save for himself and the woman sharing his
room. Unfortunately, though, he could also hear several pockets
of white noise scattered about within range of his hearing. [Whoever
these people are,] he thought to himself, [they seem to have at
least some idea about my abilities. Either that, or they have
a lot of secrets they're very protective about.]
From the echo the lights in the hall created, though, he could
pick up one small clue. 'I'm sorry, chief. I can't hear anything.
They have dozens of white-noise generators going, and I'm simply
too tired to filter them out. From the echos in the hall, though,
I'd say we were in some sort of underground bunker.'
Blair sighed. [An underground bunker? We might as well be looking
for a Dr. Pepper in the middle of the Sahara.] Simon asked Blair,
"has he seen anyone? Does he know who's holding him?"
Blair wasn't sure he needed to ask that question, but he did anyway.
'Have you seen anyone since you woke up, Jim?'
'There's a young woman who's in the same room I'm in. She's the
only one I've seen since I woke up.'
Blair could tell the fatigue in the Sentinel's voice. He told
Jim, 'just get some rest, Jim. Mulder and Scully are on their
way here. They're bringing Skinner with them, and Byers, Langley
and Frohike are driving cross-country with the truck. We'll get
you out of there, Jim. I promise.'
'I know, chief. I know.' As his mind drifted to the half-consciousness
of sleep, the voice of his spirit guide echoed in the back of
his mind. "Rest well, Sentinel. I will protect you and the
young ones until you are reunited. Always remember, Sentinel,
your village still needs you..."
Blair took the silence on the other end to mean that Jim had fallen
asleep, so he pulled his awareness back fully to Simon's office
and looked over to the concerned captain. "All he could tell
me is that he thinks he's in an underground bunker, and that there's
a young woman sharing his room. Whatever drug they pumped him
full of was playing around with his mind and his senses too much
to be able to tell me anything else."
Simon sighed. This case was getting worse by the minute. "Does
he have any idea _who_ might be holding him?"
"No, but Agent Mulder and Agent Scully are pretty sure--that's
the reason they're flying out here."
Simon raised an eyebrow in angry curiosity, "does this have
anything to do with covert ops?"
Simon rested his head in his hands. The last time he had to deal
with Covert ops he was dealt a plate of lies from the FBI that
almost got his best detective killed. Even though Blair seemed
to know these agents pretty well, he still hoped that this time,
he wasn't going to have to bring home that same detective in a
pine box because of the FBI.