At the Precinct
Sam stared bleakly at the elevator doors, his eyes drifting upwards only as each floor of the building crawled by like a lazy turtle. If Ziggy was right, within a few more minutes he would Leap, provided he succeeded in preventing the shooting.
He frowned. But if I do Leap after that…what’s going to happen to Jim and Blair?
“It’s your choice, Sam.” The physicist jumped at the sound of the voice, spinning around to face the hologram who had suddenly appeared in the elevator cab. Al continued, gesturing towards the elevator doors with his cigar. “But do you really want to let Banks and Connor get shot? That’s the only way you could guarantee that you’ll still be here.”
“How did you–?”
“Come on, Sam, I know that look.”
The Leaper smiled. “I’m that obvious, huh?”
“You wear your heart on your sleeve–you always have. But that’s OK. That’s what makes you so great at what you do.”
Sam sighed, running one hand through his short, honey-brown hair. “I don’t know, Al. I just…I just don’t feel right leaving something undone.”
“You won’t be,” Al promised him. “If God or fate or whatever decides to Leap you outta here after you stop the shooting, that means you are done. Remember, Ziggy said Blair did a pretty good job with the dissertation thing himself. He and Ellison are pretty close–I think they can survive this.”
They can survive this… Just then the doors dinged open, and Sam emerged into the Major Crimes bullpen, his decision made. “How much time do I have?” he asked.
With a knowing smile, the Admiral slapped the fluorescent Lego collection in his hands. “Ah…about six minutes and twenty-two seconds. How exactly are you planning to handle this?”
Sam smiled. “Trust me.”
Al’s eyes narrowed. “Why does that phrase make me more nervous?”
The Leaper ignored him. “Megan, are you busy?” he asked as he approached the Inspector.
Connor smiled brightly. “Depends on what the alternative is. What can I do for you, Sandy?”
“I missed lunch today, but I really need to talk to the Captain. Could you run down to the break room and get me a sandwich out of the machine?”
“Good thinking, Sam,” Al remarked in approval.
Megan nodded. “Sure.” He pulled a worn five-dollar bill from his pocket and extended it to her. She pushed his hand away. “Don’t worry about it. The last thing you need right now is to be thinking about money.”
Al whistled appreciatively as Connor disappeared towards the elevator. “Whaddya know, the nozzle was right. She is a babe.”
“Al…” Only Sam could draw out his friend’s name into quite that many exasperated syllables.
The Observer looked at him innocently. “What?”
“Oh, sir, no. There was never any intention of keeping this from you. I was merely…That’s right. A full report on your desk tomorrow morning. I’d just like to say that…Right.” Simon hung up the phone and looked bleakly over at his detective. “That was our boss. Thinks I kept the Sentinel thing a secret.”
Jim shrugged. “Well, Captain, in actuality, you did.”
The captain glared at him. “You’re not helping.”
There was an insistent rap on the door before Simon could voice his next troubled thought. “Come in,” he called brusquely.
“Captain, can I talk to you for a moment?” came from the man in the doorway.
“Not now, Sandburg.”
“I’m sorry, Sir, but it’s urgent.”
The captain sighed with a look at Jim. “Fine. But make it fast, I’ve got a report to write.”
Sam stepped into the office and closed the door behind him.
“Aw, hell, Sam. I don’t know what you did, but now Ziggy’s saying there’s a sixty-two percent chance Ellison gets shot too.”
The Leaper spun towards his friend, startled. “What?!”
Jim Ellison narrowed his eyes at the other man. What the hell? What is he doing and what is that static?
“Apparently the bullet was intended for him. It hit Banks and Connor instead because Ellison had bent over to look at something–”
Sam swore. And now, because of me, he’s standing right in its path.
“Sandburg, what did you need to tell me so urgently?” Simon’s impatient voice intruded on the physicist’s panicked thoughts.
“Fifteen seconds, Sam!”
“Get down!” Sam shouted, and threw himself at Jim.
The two men tumbled to the ground. Simon followed, startled by the vehemence of the command. Half a heartbeat later, the captain’s window exploded, then the glass between his office and the room outside. A bullet imbedded itself in the door frame of the bullpen.
Rolling away from Ellison, Dr. Sam Beckett stared for a moment at the ceiling of the office, before letting his eyes drift closed in relief.
Jim grabbed his arm. “Sandburg, how the hell did you know about that shooter when I didn’t?”
Sam’s temper flared, although he was never sure afterwards if it was really him or some of Blair’s neurons. The physicist tore himself out of the detective’s grasp and sat up. “I don’t know, Jim,” he snapped. “Maybe you got your wish. Maybe you’re back to being just a ‘normal’ cop.”
A moment later, the elevator doors parted and Megan stepped into the bullpen. “Oh my God!” she exclaimed at the melee that greeted her. “What happened?”
The room was packed with officers from what looked like every division in the Cascade Police Department. Uniforms and plainclothesmen filtered in and out of Simon’s office, which was the apparent recipient of an unexpected new ventilation system.
Joel Taggart smiled shakily at her. “You missed all the excitement, Connor. Zeller took a shot at Jim and Simon. If it weren’t for Sandburg, he might have succeeded.”
The Inspector let her gaze wander to where a small group was using a tape measure to track the bullet’s trajectory. A shiver ran through her as she noticed the path went straight over her desk.
“What did he do?” she asked.
“He tackled Jim and yelled for Simon to get down.” Taggart shook his head in amazement. “Damned if I know how he knew. If it weren’t for the fact that Jim’s the one who usually does that, I woulda sworn the kid’s paper was on the wrong guy.”
Frowning, Megan shook her head. “No…look at the trajectory. If I’d been at my desk, or anywhere near it–”
The older man did so. “You might have been hit too.”
She nodded. “Sandy sent me down to the break room a minute ago to get him a sandwich out of the vending machine.”
“But there isn’t a sandwich machine in the break room–”
“Yeah. I noticed that when I got down there.”
Joel’s eyes widened as the significance of her words suddenly registered. “Whoah.”
“Simon, I swear Sandburg knew this was going to happen hours ago. I heard him talking to someone in the men’s room earlier, and he distinctly said ‘Do you think that’s why they were shot?'”
“‘Were’ doesn’t sound like a premonition to me,” was the captain’s skeptical response. “And who was he talking to anyway, that he would discuss something like that with?”
“Well, I would have sworn he was talking to himself if it weren’t for that weird static–”
“Static?” Simon looked suddenly alarmed. “Like those white noise generators Brackett used on you?”
Jim shook his head. “No, this I noticed. It was like…I don’t know how to put this, Simon, but it’s like it wasn’t really a sound.”
Banks shrugged with a sigh. “I still don’t see how this is proof that Sandburg’s suddenly psychic.”
“How about the fact that Sandy sent me on an errand literally minutes before that shot was fired?” Megan Connor contributed to the conversation as she reached the two men. The Inspector folded her arms across her chest and cast a thoughtful glance in Blair’s direction.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Simon was beginning to sound exasperated, not to mention confused.
“I checked the trajectory, Captain. If that bullet was titanium like the one Zeller used before, there’s a damn good chance it would have gone through me too, if I’d been at my desk.”
“There, you see?” the detective pounced.
The captain groaned. “Great. What is this, some new aspect of this Sentinel business? Blair got his own spirit guide, now he gets his own special powers?”
Jim’s eyes turned arctic. “I wouldn’t know, Simon. I’m through with ‘this Sentinel business,’ remember?”
“Oh, Jim,” Megan whispered with a trace of reproach.
Aw, hell. Simon closed his eyes and took a deep breath. In all the excitement, I forgot about that damned dissertation. “Frankly, I don’t care how Sandburg did whatever it turns out he did. He saved your life, Jim. And mine. I think that says a hell of a lot more than any paper. Especially since what it says is something you already know.”
Connor nodded. “I’ll second that.”
The detective turned hesitantly to look at “Blair,” who was still standing across the room. His blue eyes thawed a bit and the tight line of his jaw relaxed just a little. A twinge of regret twisted in his stomach. He saved your life…just like he did the day you met. And countless times since then.
Megan gave him a light pat on the arm and turned away. She crossed the bullpen to where Sam was sitting and struck up a conversation. After a moment, Simon followed, leaving Jim alone with his thoughts.