Search and Rescue
Washington State--Cascade Range
reach Jim, to offer comfort, share his pain. Unfortunately, he was getting no response.
It wasn't like before--being lost in the darkness. There was a force now, an extreme
pressure keeping him back. Jim was awake and trying to keep Blair
'Come on, big guy,' the Guide pleaded silently. 'I know what you're trying to do.
Stop trying to protect me. Let me help you!' His head only pounded more fiercely as
he was met with stronger resistance. 'Damn you, Jim.'
Blair resisted the urge to rub his temple. With each failed contact with Jim, the pain in
his head had grown and even now it felt as if tiny slivers of glass had embedded
themselves into his eyes. But he knew without a doubt that if Simon were to see his
weakness, the police captain would call a halt to their trek and force Blair to rest.
Banks had been concerned about him from the first, having witnessed the link between
Sentinel and Guide before. Ever since passing out earlier this evening, Simon had
been hovering over him.
The anthropologist sighed. It wasn't that he didn't appreciate what Simon was trying
to do. But Blair already had a Blessed Protector. They just had
to find him and soon.
The team was in a race against time now. After revealing what he had learned about Jim's
situation through the link, the others had instinctively dropped back into single file, following
Mulder's spirit guide. This time, there was more of hurry in their step. They had sensed Blair's
urgency even as he sensed Jim's pain.
He checked his watch. It had almost been thirty minutes since Jim had cut him off.
They didn't have much time before the Sentinel was again pulled away for more
torture. Blair didn't even want to contemplate what they were going to do to his
friend. The possibility that they--he--would be too late urged
And right into Simon's back.
The jolt only served to shake Blair's pounding head and he involuntarily moaned. Stumbling
backwards, he was aware of Banks reaching out to steady him.
"Sandburg?" Simon held onto him tightly. "What
is it? Is it Jim?"
The police observer began to shake his head only to be reminded of the anvil smashing
into his skull over and over again. "I wish," Blair muttered instead. "He won't let me in.
Of all the stubborn..." With a sigh of frustration, Blair ripped the night goggles from
his head. The headgear was too constricting and made his pain
Having taken off his own goggles, Simon was looking at him in concern. "Maybe we oughta stop
and rest for awhile."
Eyes widening, Blair pulled away. "No, we can't do that. We gotta find Jim. I
have to get to him before it's too late. I have to keep going..." The younger man
swayed dizzily as Simon again reached for him.
Blair stumbled out of reach, trying to evade the bigger man. He couldn't give into his own
meaningless pain, not when his Sentinel needed him.
"Blair," Scully called softly to the tormented young man even as her own partner
moved up behind him.
Blair ignored her, reaching inward, pushing at the invisible force field with all his
might. 'Please, Jim, let me in. Please. I *know* I can help you. I have this idea.
Please...' With a half sob, he felt himself collapse.
Strong arms closed around him, pressing close in comfort. And, for a moment, Blair
allowed himself to believe that it had all been a nightmare and everything was truly all
right with the world. With a whispered, "Jim," Blair
closed his eyes and relaxed.
Mulder looked up at the group which surrounded him and the young guide. His eyes focused on
Scully. They exchanged a knowing look, years of friendship and love passing between them. Still
locked into the personal energy of his guide and getting strength from her very presence, Mulder
spoke softly, "We have to find Jim. Now." Looking down at the pale Blair, he continued, "I
don't think Cascade's Sentinel is the only one in danger."
Simon swore as the Lone Gunmen exchanged glances of their own. Moving away, the
three men well-versed in paranoia began talking amongst themselves.
Secret Compound in the Cascade Range
Jim Ellison closed his eyes in exhaustion. Between the torturous experiments and the
worry over Blair, his body craved sleep. He knew he needed it because the time
would come soon to act. The detective had been freed from his restraints and now lay
curled up in the corner of his cell, feigning a greater debility than he actually felt. If he
could lull his captors into believing he was incapable of rebellion, it may just be
enough to get the drop on them and he could be reunited with his
Thinking of Blair made Jim sigh. He understood his partner was only trying to help
him and in a moment of weakness, he'd allowed Blair to actually touch his mind and
share his pain. Slipping into oblivion had been a blessing. It was only now, awake and
in control, which allowed him to remember the last time he had let Blair take his pain
even as his guide sent him strength. Jim's jaw clenched as he thought about his friend
trapped in his own mind, unwilling to give the Sentinel back his pain. No. He
wouldn't let Blair go through that again. Jim would rather feel the pain a thousand
times over than to lose his guide. So he resolved to keep Blair away as long as
Jim's musings were interrupted as the door of his cell was pushed open cautiously.
Looking up, he tensed and wondered if the hour was up.
As if reading his mind, the man at the door took a puff of his cigarette and spoke,
"You've got about half an hour, Mr. Ellison, before you're prepped. Until then, I've
decided to let you have a little company."
Eyes narrowing, Jim saw the cigarette smoking man reach behind him. The person he
ushered into the room was Samantha. She rushed over to him as the door was closed
Kneeling beside Jim, Samantha threw her arms around his neck and hugged him.
"Oh, god! I thought they'd killed you. They wouldn't tell me where you were." She
Reaching up, the Sentinel patted her back. "It's okay, Samantha. I'm fine," he
soothed. Pulling her away to look into her eyes, he continued. "Did they do anything
to you? Are you hurt anywhere?"
Blinking back tears, she shook her head. "No, I'm not hurt. They haven't touched
"That's good." Jim still kept his voice low.
"W-What about you?" Samantha searched his face for any
sign of pain.
Jim managed a weak smile. He had worked hard at finding the dials and turning the
volume of the pain down. His control was tenuous at best. "I'm okay," he assured her
The young woman nodded and hugged him again.
Before she could pull away, Jim whispered in her ear. "Samantha, I have a plan and
I'm going to need your help..."
Washington State--Cascade Range
"No," came a weak voice from the man Mulder held. "I'm okay. There's no danger to me."
Blair opened his eyes and looked at the Sentinel, the one who didn't belong to him. "Jim's the
one in danger. We need to hurry up and find him." Pulling away and sitting, he thought of how
much he was beginning to sound like a broken record. It didn't matter. He had since passed the
urgency stage of this mission and had reached almost full blown panic. Panic which was fueled by
the knowledge that while the link worked, Jim wasn't letting him
And that hurt.
Kneeling beside him, Scully took his wrist in her hand. Checking the slightly rapid pulse, she
spoke. "We're going to find him, Blair, but you have to keep yourself together. For his sake if
not your own."
Blair nodded. "I know."
"No, you don't." The commanding tone had everyone looking at the speaker. Mulder narrowed
his gaze at the young anthropologist and continued. "You may be the authority on Sentinels,
Blair, but there are some things you don't seem to understand."
Puzzled, Blair looked from Mulder to Scully who gave a small shrug. She didn't understand what
her partner was getting at either. "I'm not exactly sure what you mean," he said, moving
wobbly to his feet.
Banks grasped the young man's elbow to help steady him. "I'm okay, Simon," Blair said softly.
"I'm sorry I was being such an idiot earlier. I know how much you want to help Jim. I didn't
mean for it to sound like...well...like you don't care about him."
The captain of the best detective team on the west coast answered gruffly, "I care about you, too,
Sandburg." That earned him a small smile. "Of course,
if you tell anyone, I'll deny it."
Mulder turned away, frustration illustrated by his stance.
"What's on your mind, Mulder?" Skinner came up to him. Banks had pulled Blair aside and was
insisting he have a drink of water while Scully made sure he took a couple of aspirin. The Lone
Gunmen were still in deep conference amongst themselves. Only Skinner seemed to know his
best FBI agent was on edge. A glance from Scully had him revise his opinion. 'Okay, two of us
know he's upset.' He waited patiently for his answer.
Running a hand through his dark hair, Mulder replied without looking at his boss. "This whole
Sentinel/Guide thing. It's really kind of instinctual. Scully and I have been together so long that
this new facet of our relationship just seems to be a natural extension of ourselves. We really
don't have too much trouble adjusting. She seems to know when I need her and I..." His voice
Skinner nodded, knowing what Mulder meant, having witnessed the two in action. "I
understand." He paused. "So what's bothering you."
Mulder hesitated. "Jim and Blair. They've known about the Sentinel thing longer than we have.
Hell, they've even had different experiences with the link. I don't know what to expect anymore.
Should I be worried about this link? It's always been helpful to us in the past, but I don't want to
do anything that would put Scully in danger." He sighed again. "I'm also beginning to think that
while the link has similar characteristics, the particular Sentinel/Guide pair ultimately shapes it
until it is unique to them."
"I don't know what to tell you, Mulder." Skinner spoke softly. "It seems as if you have been
thinking about it a lot and of course, I don't blame you. But maybe you should shelve it until this
Mulder finally turned to look at him. "I wish I could, sir. But there is more to this than that.
And the problem is, I don't know if I can handle it."
Skinner frowned. "What do you mean? What else is going on?"
The FBI Agent nodded back toward Blair. "Until Jim comes back, I have to watch out for Blair.
It's my duty as a Sentinel. Not only do I have to protect him from what's out there, but I have to
protect him from himself. The thing is, he's stubborn."
Skinner smiled. "Not unlike a pair of FBI agents I have working
Mulder shook his head. "It's more than that, sir. How can I explain this..." He hesitated. "There
is a symbiotic relationship between Sentinel and Guide. I've observed it between Jim and Blair as
well as between Scully and I. We're sort of bonded. Jim might be able to get Blair to listen, but
I'm going to have a hard time of it."
"That's not how Banks explained it to me," Skinner replied. "Seems Ellison has trouble getting
Sandburg to do what's best."
"Yeah," Mulder said absently, lost in his thoughts. "Unfortunately, if I don't get Blair to listen to
me, he's going to end up getting hurt. Which means..."
Skinner frowned as the light dawned. "Which means Jim is most likely to get hurt as well," he
"Guess you had better go talk to him," Skinner suggested.
"Guess so." Mulder turned to the group. He looked back at his boss. "Thanks, sir." With
purposeful strides he was by Blair's side in an instant. Grasping the younger man's arm, he
moved him away from the others. "We need to talk."
Blair only nodded, having heard a similar tone from Jim. The one which said, "No arguments,
you're going to listen."
Banks made a move to intercept the pair. He didn't like the proprietary way Mulder had his hand
on Sandburg's arm.
"No, Captain," Scully's soft voice stopped him. "This is between a Sentinel and a Guide. Let
Banks stared at her a moment then nodded. Still, it wouldn't hurt
to keep an eye on them.
Mulder pulled Blair into a small clearing a few feet away from the impromptu camp they had
made. "Sit down," he said, indicating a rock.
The Guide hesitated. "We really don't have time for this, man," he said tiredly. "Jim's waiting
"You have time," Mulder said quietly. "We have a few things we have to cover before we move
Sighing, Blair clambered onto the rock and drew his knees up. Clasping his arms loosely around
them, he waited expectantly. "Does this have to do with the somewhat cryptic message you gave
me a while ago about not understanding?"
Mulder nodded. "Have you and Jim ever discussed his Spirit
"Sure," Blair replied. "Why?"
Looking intently at the younger man, Mulder replied, "Because while you were sleeping off the
effects of the link earlier, I tried contacting my Spirit Guide."
Blair's eyes widened. "I thought you had to be asleep or be in a meditative state for that," he
"I do have a degree in psychology and am well versed in meditation techniques. With Scully's
help, I slipped into a light trance. I wanted to make sure we were going in the right direction and
I was hoping the eagle would lead me to an answer."
"And you got one?" Blair asked hopefully.
"Yes, but not exactly the one I was expecting." Mulder paused, noting the pinched frown
wrinkling Blair's forehead, indicating his headache was still
there. He looked tired.
"What do you mean?" Blair's voice had taken on the clinical tone he often slipped into when he
was on a trail of discovery.
"Well, first of all, it wasn't my spirit guide I saw, but
"What?" Blair looked confused. "I don't understand."
"Blair," Mulder hunkered down beside the younger man. "The message he had for me was about
Curiosity and confusion warred for dominance. Blair settled for a question. "I don't get it. What
message? Why did he come to you?"
"He came to me because your Sentinel is not here to watch
over you," Mulder returned quietly.
Blair's brows knitted together in consternation. "But that doesn't make any sense. Jim's still
looking out for me and we'll be finding him soon. Why is his Spirit Guide all of a sudden
Mulder stared intently at the anthropologist. "Blair, the Spirit Guide was preparing me just in
case..." He hesitated, watching Blair. "In case, you
became my responsibility."
Blair looked confused before the meaning of Mulder's words became clear. He jumped to his
feet, feeling his brain slamming into his skull. Ignoring the pain, he pointed an accusing finger at
the FBI agent. "You mean if Jim dies, right? Well, you can just forget that. He's not gonna die,
not if I have anything to say about it. I'm going to find him." He turned to stalk off, but was held
in place by Mulder's strong grip on his arm.
"Wait, Blair, I'm not finished." Mulder's tone held a hint of steel. "We *are* going to find him.
The panther was just showing me the way in case something went
Blair turned and, with a fury which surprised Mulder, spat out, "I'm Jim's guide. There is no
other choice. You've already have a guide."
Eyes narrowing, Mulder closed the distance between himself and the anthropologist. "I know
and I don't want to change that. But what you don't seem to understand is that an unbonded
guide alone can be dangerous."
"What?" Blair's crossed his arms, disbelief radiating
from every pore.
Sighing, Mulder continued. "If something were to happen to Jim, you would be unbonded. The
world is too dangerous for you to be on your own. If your existence were to become known,
people would be after you."
Blair snorted. "Man, I think you're just getting a little mixed up. My importance is practically
non-existent. It's Jim, the Sentinel, who is important."
Mulder shook his head. "That's where you're wrong, Blair. You've spent so much time studying
Sentinels, you haven't concentrated on the guides." He looked earnestly at Blair. "What it boils
down to is this: without the guide, there is no Sentinel."
"It's the other way around," Blair said softly. "Without the *Sentinel*, there is no *Guide*.
Without Jim, I'm outa here." The intensity of Blair's gaze left no doubt as to his meaning. "So, I
won't be--what did you call it?--an unbonded guide."
Mulder had suspected as much. Put in the same position, he had no doubt he and Scully would
follow the same lead. Unfortunately, it wasn't his only concern at the moment. "Okay, Blair,
you've made your point."
"Good," Blair murmured, rubbing his forehead. The throbbing in his head had increased and he
really wanted to lie down and sleep, but he couldn't. Jim needed him. "Are we through, then?
We have to go. They're gonna come for Jim soon."
Mulder sighed. "There's one more thing."
"Man," the younger man ground out angrily. "What kind of conversation did you have with the
ancient warrior, anyway? Jim's never mentioned he's talked this
much to *him*."
The FBI agent chose to ignore the sarcasm. "Listen, what he had to say is of more immediate
concern than the first."
Rolling his eyes, Blair eased himself back down on the rock. "Well, go on then. Tell me." He
didn't like the fact he was being so short-tempered with Mulder, but he was worried about Jim
and his whole body was beginning to ache. The anthropologist hoped
Mulder would forgive him.
"Blair," Mulder said quietly. "You have to quit
pushing at the link. It's too dangerous."
"Dangerous?" Blair's tone was cautious. They didn't know much about the link. If Mulder had
somehow found out something useful, he needed to know. "What
do you mean?"
"Look, I know you realize how the relationship between Sentinel
and Guide works."
"Yeah, Jim uses his senses and I help him."
Mulder shook his head. "No, I don't mean that. I mean the symbiotic relationship between them.
Like they're two halves of a whole, one incomplete without the
The anthropologist simply waited for Mulder to continue. He understood what the older man
meant. Neither he nor Jim had put it into words, but it was something
they both knew.
Seeing the calming acceptance of his statement, Mulder took that as a good sign and plowed
ahead. "Well, think about it like this, your lives are interwoven like a tapestry. Everytime you
push at the link, you are unraveling the fabric. If the rip becomes too big, it will be beyond
"W-What does that mean?" Blair asked, not sure if he
was going to like the answer.
"It means your life is at stake." Mulder confirmed his
"But what about Jim?" the Guide asked. "He won't let me in. Does that mean it's dangerous
for him, too?"
"No. The link is still there. Jim's got it tuned down so much only he can
feel it. He's controlling it because he doesn't want to see you
"That is so wrong, man." Blair's voice trembled with hurt and anger. Holding his head in his
hands, he whispered, "He needs me and he won't let me help. I don't know what to do anymore.
I *have* to keep pushing."
The man from Washington knelt in front of him. "Blair, you can't keep pushing. Doing that will
only hurt you in the long run. You're right, Jim needs you, but you have to wait for him to make
the decision to turn up the link. Whether you like it or not, he's still the Sentinel and he
determines what's best for his Guide. Now, you have to promise me you'll take it easy. I can
already see the headache getting worse. If you continue, you'll be no help to Jim when he *really*
Blair looked up, his eyes clouded with fatigue. "I'll try. I just don't know if I can make that
promise. I have a job--a responsibility--too. I have to protect
"I understand," Mulder said softly, patting Blair's shoulder. "I have my own Guide who is just as
stubborn about watching over her Sentinel as you are about yours."
Blair smiled. "Must be genetic, huh?"
"Must be," Mulder agreed. "Come on, lets get going.
Jim's waiting for us."
The younger man stood and followed Mulder back to the rest of
The Lone Gunmen approached them almost immediately. "Mulder," Frohike stepped forward.
"We've managed to pinpoint the location of the compound." He held up a device which
essentially looked like a remote control to a home video game. "We were able to track the radio
Mulder nodded, not bothering to ask where they had gotten the equipment. "How far
away are we?"
Byers replied, "We're about a mile outside. A brisk hike should get us there in under twenty
"Under twenty minutes?" Skinner asked skeptically. "That's
"We don't have much choice," Blair answered quietly.
"The hour is almost up."
The Sentinel cocked his head in a gesture which was familiar to both Blair and Scully. After a
few moments, he said, "Actually, it's only about three quarters of a mile away. I can hear the
"Let's go then," Simon spoke up. "We're wasting
Blair opened his mouth to agree when the link buzzed to life without warning. He forgot about
his surroundings, forgot about his friends. 'Jim?' He tried the link. The suddenly loud forest
noises had him clutching at his ears and it sent him reeling to the ground. Wincing, he screwed his
eyes shut. The night accompanied by its sights and sounds seemed to amplify. Immediately, he
knew what had happened. "Jim," the guide spoke aloud this time. "Take it easy. Focus and pull
back. You're senses are driving me crazy."
The lessening of the sensory stimuli occurred by degrees and eventually Blair was able to open his
eyes. Uncovering his ears, the young man continued to coach Jim
until they could both function.
'Sorry, Chief,' Jim's voice flowed into his mind. 'I...thought
I had the pain under control.'
'Don't worry about it,' Blair sent back. 'I'm just glad you're
talking to me again.'
'I didn't have much choice,' came the Sentinel's dry reply.
'What do you mean?' Blair's natural curiosity got the better of him even as his breath started
coming in shallow pants.
'Breathe, Blair!' Jim commanded sharply. 'Take it easy and I'll
Blair nodded even though his friend couldn't see. Taking deep,
even breaths, he tried to relax.
'Much better,' Jim said approvingly. 'Is Mulder there with you?'
Blinking, Blair looked around until Mulder came into focus. The FBI Agent was looking at him
with concern as were the others. He wanted to reassure them he was okay, but it took too much
energy to lie.
"Yeah," Blair's whisper startled them. "He's right
'I see him,' Jim replied. 'I expect he's already told you of his visit with my Spirit Guide. You
have to promise me, Chief, that whatever happens tonight, you'll
do as Mulder asks.'
'Jim,' Blair protested. 'Nothing's gonna hap--'
'Blair!' The Sentinel's tone was sharp, heavy with fatigue. 'Promise. I need to know you'll
be safe should anything go wrong.'
The young man made a startled movement. 'I promise,' he sent reluctantly. 'Just tell me what's
There was a pause and Blair began to panic. 'Calm down, Chief. I'm right here. Just having
trouble controlling the dials.' Pain screamed through the link and Blair fell sideways, clutching his
The guide was unaware of Scully beside him as he soothingly called through the link. 'Deep
breaths, Jim. I know you're having trouble with the dials. Listen to me. I know something
which may work. Picture a syringe.' Blair took a deep breath, trying to battle Jim's uncontrollable
pain and still focus enough to help his friend. 'You got it, Jim? A syringe with the measurements
on the side. Now, pull the plunger up. Suck up all your pain into that little tube.' Blair felt the
pain ease off and he was able to shift into a sitting position. Good, it was working. 'Okay,
Buddy, this is the tricky part--the part you aren't going to like. Push the plunger a little at a time
and send me your pain. In return, you'll get my strength.'
'No!' Jim's voice was barely under control. 'I won't let you do it. I almost lost you the last time.
Never again. Do you understand me?'
Blair sighed. 'I know, man. I *do* understand. But you need your strength if you're ever gonna
get out of this. Trust me, I can handle it. I'll be okay.' They'd never tried this before; he hoped it
'No,' Jim said again and it sounded final.
Desperately, Blair thought of a way his Sentinel would relinquish control. Taking another deep
breath, he spoke calmly through the link. 'Jim, we *are* going to do this. I--I'll keep pushing
until you give in. You know what the Spirit Guide told Mulder.
I swear I'll do it.'
'Sandburg, you wouldn't dare.' The Guide could hear cold fury shaking in every syllable of Jim's
'I would,' was Blair's quiet response. 'Let me do what I have
to do, Jim.'
'Chief, I can't let anything happen to you,' Jim said desperately.
'Nothing's going to happen, man,' Blair assured. 'Everything's under control. You just have to
trust me on this. Please...'
The hesitation coming through the link almost made Blair believe Jim wouldn't agree. But the
reluctant, 'Okay,' relieved him. 'Great, Jim. Let's try it. Just remember, a little at a time. I need
to get used to it.'
'The minute it gets to be too much, Sandburg, you tell me. Don't go turning hero on me. You
let me know right away.'
'Fine, Jim. I will. Now are you ready?'
'As ready as I'll ever be, Chief.' Jim's disaproval could be felt throughout the link. While he
might trust Blair, the Sentinel didn't trust the link. There were too many unknown factors. With
a deep sigh, he imagined the syringe.
The Guide felt the pain infuse his body, nearly toppling him into unconsciousness. Fighting
desperately, he managed to keep awake. Slowly, carefully, he accepted Jim's pain unto himself.
Concentrating, he let it fade into the background. What was left
was a dull throbbing in his head.
'It's working, Jim.' Blair sent through their link. 'I'm going to send my strength now. Use it.'
Summoning up all his willpower, he pictured his own syringe and let his energy flow out of his
body, channeling it to Jim.
Blair could feel the link expanding, becoming more colorful as its power increased. A rainbow
spectrum shot forth as Jim accepted Blair's power and absorbed it. He felt the heartfelt sigh
vibrate across the link. 'Thanks, Chief.' Whatever anger Jim was feeling toward his guide for
manipulating him didn't compare to the relief he suddenly felt.
'No problem. That's why I'm here.' The guide paused in thought. 'Jim, get some rest. Store
up enough energy. That man's going to come for you soon and you're going to need all the help
you can get. Don't worry about me. Mulder's already told me what
I need to do.'
'All right,' Jim sounded tired. 'Just remember to listen to him. Until you're with me, he'll
protect you. One more thing. Be very careful. This cigarette smoking man wants to get his
hands on you, too. I don't even want to think about what he has
in mind for us.'
'Okay, Jim.' Blair's reply was soft. 'Just hold on. We're coming.'
'I'll be waiting,' Jim paused. 'And, Blair...tell Mulder his sister
is with me.'
Taking a deep breath, Blair allowed the link to shift out of focus. He could still feel it, but now he
could communicate with Mulder and the others. Jim's pain was a part of him, too, and he would
have to keep it tightly controlled.
"Blair?" Mulder's voice was quiet as he saw the younger man's eyes focus on him. "You with
The anthropologist nodded. "Yeah, Jim's back." He hesitated, laying a hand on Mulder's arm as
he looked up at the Sentinel leaning over him. "Mulder, there's something you should know.