You've never seen this episode and you're dying to find out what happened? Well, here's your chance. I watched the episode and sat down to re-create it word-for-word.... You know, because I have absolutely no life whatsoever.*grin*  I've also added my own "missing scene" and that part is separated from the rest and clearlymarked.
 

Blind Man's Bluff

12th episode of Season II

INTRO (Theme Music and Sandburg's Voice): In the Jungles of Peru, the fight for survival heightened his senses. Now, Detective James Ellison is a sentinel in the fight for justice. Seeing before others see. Sensing what others can't. An ever-vigilant watchman in the war against crime.
 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Outside in a park on an overcast day.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair and Jim stood in front of the food stand in the park, apparently having picked up a hopeful canine. The golden dog stood in front of Jim, its eyes turned upward in a silent plea for food. The vendor handed Jim the tube steak. "Here you go."

Ellison took the steaming, wrapped item, then turned to his partner. "She loves Thai food. We like the same books. I mean, she even listens to R&B. I just wanna meet this woman. Okay?"

"I just don't think it's gonna be a good idea, Jim," Blair responded.

The vendor handed Blair his meal. "Thanks, man," Blair mumbled to the vendor, gratefully taking the steak. The dog wagged its tail eagerly. Blair chuckled, pulling out a laser pointer and pointing it at the dog "Check this out," Blair said, pointing at the dog.

They walked toward the empty bench, and Blair fiddled with the laser pointer. "Isn't it pretty cool?" He pointed the beam at his hot dog. "It's a laser pointer. It's great for my lectures."

They sat down on the bench, with Jim crouching on the back of the bench and Blair sitting properly on the seat. Jim gave an exasperated sigh. "Why don't we try and stick to the subject here okay?" The dog whined and Jim glanced at it. "Who's dog is this?" he asked absently, offering the stray animal a bite of his food. "I just want to keep it casual with her. You know go out for a cup of coffee... a drink... something like that."

Blair did not look convinced. "Jim, what if you two don't hit it off? She's a friend of mine. You're a friend of mine... You're feelings get hurt, then I'm caught in the middle."

"We already like each other," Jim pointed out, a small smile touching his lips.

Blair raised his eyebrows. "On the phone."

"Yeah, so," Jim replied, taking a huge bite of his tube steak.

Blair apparently decided to approach the subject from a different angle, and his hands began to gesture. "We're male animals, right, Jim? Attraction is partly intellectual, but the visual components are a major aspect to it. Without the physical thing we don't have the whole package."

Jim chewed his sandwich, his expression thoughtful. "What are you saying? Margaret's not attractive?"

Blair's head bobbed slightly as he tried to think up a tactful reply. "I'm saying that... she has an inner beauty."

Jim continued chewing his sandwich thoughtfully. Then he nodded and said, "I like her voice. I... I'd still like to meet her."

The ringing of a cell phone interrupted their conversation. Jim swallowed quickly and yanked out his phone, raising it to his ear. "Ellison."

Blair gazed at Jim curiously while he chewed his hot dog, his expression indicating that he knew their break was about to come to an end.

"We're down in Holden Park, Simon... Responding." He snapped the phone closed.

"What's going on?" Blair asked as Jim got to his feet.

"Cascade reservoir. There's a jumper on the dam," Jim explained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Dam, later that day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Jim and Blair arrived at the scene, the dam looked like a zoo... filled with people and the buzzing of voices. An ambulance waited at the sidelines.

Jim and Blair walked up to a deputy. "How ya doing?" Jim asked the man, then turned his gaze onto the small figure of a young woman standing on the edge of the damn above a violent artificial waterfall. "I'm detective Ellison."

The deputy followed Jim's gaze. "She's over there," he said, looking at the teenager. The young woman waved her arms as she stood on the railing, her red jacket standing out brilliantly against the green backdrop of pine trees. "She's talking about a castle in the sky and a golden bridge."

"Must be whacked out on something," Blair commented.

"Looks that way," the deputy replied. "Every time I get close, she leans a little farther over the edge. Fire department rescue unit's on it's way."

"Nah, that'll be too late," Jim said, then left the two men behind as he approached the girl.

Slowly, Jim Ellison walked up behind the young woman. She stood on the edge, peering out over the vast space in front of her, her eyes focused on some imaginary wonder above the water.

She heard Jim's approach, but kept her gaze straight ahead, waving her arms as though she were floating. "Isn't it beautiful?"

"Yeah... Yeah, it's beautiful," Jim yelled, his voice competing with the roar of the waterfall.

"At first I didn't believe it."

"Didn't believe what?" Jim asked.

"The castle here... the bridges of gold, and the people here... They shine."

"What's your name?" Jim asked.

Her expression faltered, and she lowered her head. Slowly, she sank down, sitting on the edge of the railing. "Lisa."

"Lisa, I can't see the castle from here," Jim said. "But maybe if you come down, you could tell me about it."

She smiled sweetly, looking out over the beautiful expanse of water and wilderness.

"Lisa..."

She turned to look at him, the smile soft on her lips. "Come with me," she said, then fell forward.

"Lisa!" Jim lunged forward, grabbing the shoulder of her jacket just in time. She hung there, suspended above the raging torrent. "All right, I've got you."

Behind Jim, Blair and the deputy rushed to offer assistance.

Lisa gazed up at him, her expression one that a mother might use when placating a small child. She shook her head and said, "But I want to go to the bridge." Then she unzipped the front of her jacket and raised her arms, slipping out of the leather and falling into the waterfall.

"No! No!" Jim yelled, watching helplessly as the water swallowed her up.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simon stood in front of the window, peering out at the rain. "Lisa Hughes. Sixteen years old. High School honors student." He turned and walked over to Sandburg. The young man sat propped on the edge of the table, just across from Jim.

"Played cello in the school orchestra," Simon continued, stopping to stand next to Blair as he peered at Jim. "Tox report came back positive, but no exact match with any known drug or combination of drugs."

"It could be Golden," Blair said.

Simon turned his head to look down at the young man. "Dare I ask how you know that?" He crossed his arms over his chest.

Blair glanced at Jim. "The university... Rumors about a new designer drug."

"Vice reports this stuff appeared in the area about three weeks ago, Sir," Jim said. "One of the side effects that people experience is this luminescent golden quality to their vision. Lisa Hughes was talking about this golden bridge."

"It's an hallucinogen?" Simon asked.

Jim sighed. "Yeah. Golden makes Angel Dust look like light beer. It affects each user differently." Jim handed Simon a blue folder, which the Captain began flipping through. "Three days ago an employee at Walkerville steel decided to take a plunge into a vat of molten iron," Jim continued. "He was stoned on the stuff."

Simon moaned, then looked up from the folder. "All right, what's the game plan here, Jim?"

"I'm gonna check with my source, Sir. The... uh... specialist in the field." He smiled slightly

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A diner, mid-day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Jim sat across from Blair in the busy diner. The anthropologist leaned over his cup and peered at Jim. "So how come I've never heard of this guy Sneaks?"

Jim shrugged, chewing on his donut. "Never came up before.

"So what is he? Like a professional snitch?"

Jim nodded. "One of the best," he mumbled, then swallowed his mouthful.

Blair's hands flew into motion in front of him as he leaned forward in a conspiratory gesture. "Very undercover... Very invisible. That's why they call him Sneaks, right?"

"Well not exactly. Sneaks is short for--"

He was interrupted by a small man in a wool hat and a red scarf. Sneaks smiled broadly and slapped Jim on the arm, then slid into the booth and sat down next to the Detective.

"Hey, excellent timing," Sneaks chuckled. Then Jim and Sneaks began talking over each other, their words indecipherable to the confused anthropologist.

Their banter ended and sneaks gazed apprehensively at Blair, his smile faltering only slightly. "Who's this?"

"This is my associate, Blair Sandburg," Jim explained.

Blair waived his hand in greeting.

Apparently satisfied, Sneaks looked down at Jim's shoes. "So... uh... what do you got on?"

"Hmnnn? Nope, sorry, just some hiking boots."

Sneaks scrunched his nose disapprovingly. "A couple of stompers." He slammed a fist down on the table. "No sale!"

Jim chuckled as Blair looked back and forth between the two men. Suddenly they peered at him over the table.

Sneaks' eyes took on a predatory glint. "What do you got on your feet?"

Blair looked from Jim to Sneaks. "Excuse me?"

With a smile, Sneaks ducked his head to look under the table. When he came back up, he released an impressed sigh. "Oooh... Nike... Severes." He smiled greedily.

Jim winced, the expression melting into an amused smile as he glanced at Blair and chuckled.

Blair looked suddenly uncomfortable, and he raised his eyebrows, glancing back and forth between the two men. "Oh yeah... okay," he muttered, offering a nervous smile.

Jim took another bite of his donut and turned his attention back to Sneaks. "We're here about Golden."

Sneaks' smile fell. "Oooh. Hey. The yellow powder. That's a hot ticket, and it's gonna get hotter." He looked at Blair, raising a finger. "Hey how's that molded-on mid sole? I guess it's, ah, pretty soft, huh?"

Sandburg offered another hesitant smile.

"Why's it gonna get hotter?" Jim asked, leaning closer to Sneaks.

A waitress walked passed their table and Jim gestured for the check, then turned his attention back to Sneaks.

"I-It's scarce," he stuttered nervously. "And i-it's pricey, too. I tell you, they get their act together, they build that pipeline... the trickle is gonna be a flood."

"Who's they?" Jim asked.

Sneaks glanced at Blair. "You're... uh... eight, or an eight and a half?"

"Eight and a half," Blair said, looking increasingly uncomfortable.

Jim smiled tolerantly. "Okay... All right Sneaks, look, if I don't get a little, you know, solid information here, nobody's gonna walk away with anything."

Sneaks ignored Jim, his gaze focused on Blair. "How's that, uh, defense-mesh tongue working for ya?"

Blair nodded, chuckling nervously. "Tongue is great." He looked at Jim, but the Detective only smiled and bobbed his eyebrows.

Sneaks finally turned to the Detective. "Word is... You go for the Gold... Go to Slicks."

"The amateur drag strip," Jim told Blair.

Sneaks nodded. "PLUS, whoever's cookin' that stuff is looking to make a MAJOR connection overseas."

"You got a name?" Jim asked.

"Cyrus," Sneaks said, looking mighty proud of himself. "Who else?" He slapped his hand down on the table, and Blair leaned back, putting some distance between himself and the snitch. "So! Do I earn my pay or what?" Sneaks shouted.

"Yeah, all right, all right," Jim said, reaching into his back pocket to withdraw his wallet. "This is a family establishment here, okay?"

He opened the wallet, and Sneaks' hand lashed out to grab the money from the billfold, chuckling nervously. Jim laughed, holding the wallet open wider. "Go ahead, help yourself," he said as Sneaks snatched another bill.

Blair looked around nervously, and Sneaks turned his attention back to the young man, lowering his voice. "Hey, no, uh... bonus?" He glanced under the table at Blair's shoes, then looked back up at Jim and jabbed his chin in Sandburg's direction.

~~~~~~~~~

Sneaks walked out of the diner, grinning like a fool as he slung his old sneakers over his shoulders. He paused for a moment and shifted his feet, reveling in his new acquisition, then walked off. Jim and Blair walked out a second later, and Sandburg glanced at the snitch as the man walked happily down the sidewalk.

Blair clenched his jaw. "Sneaks." He turned to look at up at Jim. "Short for sneakers... Why didn't you tell me?!" He slapped Jim on the arm and stormed off toward the truck, walking on the balls of his feet.

Jim followed behind. "You'll be reimbursed from the snitch fun."

Blair spared his partner only a glance. "Well, I hope they cover socks too because these are my favorite Argyles!"

Jim chuckled in response.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Back at the loft
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the loft, Jim sat at the table cleaning his gun while Blair, perched on the back of the couch, tied the laces on his shoes.

"So Cyrus is a myth?" Blair asked, looking up at Jim's back.

"Two years ago the DEA and Interpole created an international drug distributor with an appetite for BIG money deals," Jim explained. "Cyrus is an Athens mail drop, a Swiss Bank account, and a dozen-man support group. The scam has already netted dozens of busts."

"And they don't mind if you use him?" Blair asked, tying his second shoe.

"Well they did until I brought the DEA in on the deal. The fact that they're trying to contact Cyrus is an indication that the Golden is still localized."

Jim rose from his seat, tucked his gun in its holster behind his back, and walked over to the door, grabbing his black leather jacket from the coat rack. "With any luck," he said, his free hand grabbing Sandburg's jacket, "we can stop it here."

He handed the jacket to Blair. "Great," the young man said, then followed Jim out the door.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Drag Strip, night
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Two cars, one blue and the other purple, sat side-by-side, their engines revving. The light changed to green and the two cars sped off, with the blue slightly in the lead.

"The blue one!" Blair exclaimed, turning his body to follow the cars.

Jim shook his head. "Nope. Purple one."

In the distance a disembodied voice announced the winner, and Blair released a frustrated exclamation. Jim simply smiled in satisfaction.

"Looks can be deceiving, huh?" The Sentinel said, his fingers brushing Blair's arm. Then he turned his head and extended his hearing.

"Double or nothing on the next race, okay?"

The Sentinel let the sound guide his vision, and his eyes focused in on a group of men standing next to a car.

"You're on."

Blair looked at Jim curiously. Jim scanned the drag strip.

"You're lying," a female voice said from a different location.

"Yeah my Chevy could have blown his doors off," A male voice boasted from somewhere else.

"How much do they want?"

Jim's vision honed into another group of men standing next to a green sports car with yellow flames painted around front bumper.

"A quarter of a Ki."

"Half the Golden now... The rest in, uh, two days. The money upfront."

"Anything?" Blair asked.

"Come on," Jim said, taking off toward the men.

Jim and Blair arrived at the canopy that housed the green car, but a latino man stopped Jim. "You want something?"

"I thought maybe we could take a look," Jim said, gesturing to the car.

The man shook his head. "I never seen you around here before."

"Yeah, that's right, first time," Blair piped up from behind Jim.

The man looked at Sandburg suspiciously, then turned his gaze back up to Ellison. "Another night."

"Nah, that wouldn't be good for us," Jim said. "Our business won't wait."

"We don't HAVE any business."

"Oh no?" Jim asked.

A blond man lifted his head from beneath the hood of a car

"Ten minutes of your time, hah?" Jim addressed the man near the car. "You can call off the Pit Bull." {ahem}

"I don't know him," the latino man told his boss.

Jim smiled and swung his arms out to his side.

"Then tell him to leave," the boss told his henchman.

Jim looked at Blair, his face reflecting his frustration, but he made no move to leave.

The man near the car gestured to another henchman. "Call security."

"Eh, that's a big mistake," Jim said.

The man walked up to Jim, a tolerant smile on his face. "Why's that?"

"Cause you're lookin' for Cyrus.

Immediately the man's smile faded. "You're Cyrus?"

Jim sighed. "Nah. It doesn't work that way. See, I'm Cyrus' point man for the area. You need negotiating, you go through me."

Another man with a goatee walked up. "Yeah, why should we trust you?"

"You put out the word. You need connections. I'm here," Jim replied.

Several seconds passed, but no one spoke. Finally, Jim clapped his hands and turned to walk away. "Okay, three blind mice. You're loss. Very good."

"Wait!" The blond man called, following after them.

Jim and Blair stopped and turned around.

"Let's just say I might happen to know what you're talking about. What could Cyrus do for us?" the man asked.

"Distribution," Jim answered. "Turn a mom and pop organization like you got here into General Motors... if you got the product."

The blond man cast a glance at the man with the goatee. Jim reached into his pocket and withdrew a card, handing it to the leader. "Gimme a call before Cyrus changes his mind," he said, turning and walking away.

Mr. Goatee tossed a small bag on the ground behind them.

"Hey wait!" the blonde man called. "You dropped something."

Jim and Blair turned and looked down at the ground. Jim spotted that bag and snatched it up from the ground, peering at the contents.

"We got the product," Mr. Goatee said.

Jim tapped the bag once, looked at Mr. Goatee, then walked off with Sandburg. After putting some distance between himself and the drug dealers, he looked at the Golden again, and punched the bag with his finger.

"Watch it Jim, you're getting that stuff all over your hands," Blair warned.

Jim stopped and placed a hand on Blair's chest. "Hey, you see that guy?"

"Who?"

Jim pointed to a grey-haired man in a trench coat who, upon noticing the eyes on him, took off hastily toward a dark sedan.

"You see that guy over there? He's been watching us. That guy right there? Middle-aged, medium build, medium everything."

Jim rubbed his fingers together then rubbed his nose, sniffling.

"Where?"

"He's right--" He raised his hand out in front of him, walking uncertainly toward the retreating car.

The sound of an engine from behind caused him to turn around, and the headlights caught him in the face. He groaned, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes.

"Whoa."

"You okay?" Blair asked.

Jim moved closer to Blair, practically holding onto the younger man as he looked around. "Man, that's weird," he muttered, blinking his eyes.

"Jim, what's wrong?" Sandburg asked, his voice deep with concern.

The Sentinel looked around, almost blindly, wincing as bright lights from the skytower set his vision ablaze with golden light.

He closed his eyes and stumbled back. "Aww man!" Then he collapsed to his knees.

"Jim!" Blair grabbed him, easing his fall.

Jim clenched his eyes tight, turning away from the lights.

"Jim, what's wrong?" Blair asked, his voice taking on a panicked edge. "Jim, are you okay? Jim, is it the drug?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Doctor's Office, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The doctor shined the light in each one of Jim's eyes. "What do you see, Detective?"

"Not much," Ellison replied. "A lot of golden light... shapeless forms... and a lot of nothing."

The bald doctor with the protruding mustache shook his head in frustration. "I can find no obvious neurological or traumatic injury to your eyes."

"Then why am I blind?" Jim asked.

"In the conventional sense, you're not. You see light, not darkness."

Blair stood just behind Jim's left shoulder, following the conversation closely.

"Well, isn't that what happens with everybody? Who sees in the dark? It's the same thing."

"Your pupils react normally to visible light. The problem may be neuropsychotic in nature."

"What, like, hysterical blindness?" Blair asked.

"Of a kind I'm unfamiliar with," the doctor confirmed.

"Th-Then it's possible I'm gonna get my vision back, right?" Jim asked, his brow creased.

"Yes, it's possible," the doctor replied. "But without extensive tests and time, I really don't know. We need to get you admitted to the hospital, and I'd like to call in some consulting physicians."

Blair nodded, bobbing his head as though he expected the answer but wasn't very happy with the outcome.

Jim shook his head. "I... It's... um... It's not gonna work for me, Doc. I just don't have time. I appreciate... I appreciate your time."

Blair pressed his lips into a tight line and walked to the other side of the chair as Jim moved to get up.

"Blair..." The Sentinel called, shifting his head toward the sound of Blair's breathing as his eyes gazed blankly ahead.

The young man grabbed Jim's arm and helped him out of the chair. "It's all right, buddy, come on." Then he guided Jim out of the Doctor's office.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim and Blair walked into Simon's office with Jim sporting a pair of dark sunglasses and carrying a mug in his hand. Blair gently guided him into the room, then closed the door. Simon glanced at the pair, then did a double take just as Jim bumped into a table.

Simon raised his head, bestowing an odd look upon the pair. "Too bright in here for ya?"

Jim sat down on the edge of table. "Oh sorry, Sir," he said, removing his glasses.

"So any progress?" The Captain asked.

"We met with three men at Slicks who are involved in the sale of Golden. Uh, one of them appears to be the hired muscle. The other two we're not sure yet."

"Did the thing with Cyrus work?" Banks asked.

"Like a charm, yeah" Jim replied, smiling as he mocked a glance toward Blair.

"Did you get a sample?"

"I...  I did, Sir, but I, uh, lost it."

"Lost it?" Banks' voice rose.

"I-In a crowd," Blair stammered.

"Well did you follow them? Find out who they were?"

"Uh, no that wasn't possible, Sir, not without compromising my cover. I gave them my cell phone number, so I'm sure they're gonna call me. I wanna hold off on making any arrests until we're positive that we're dealing with the principle players here."

Blair kept his attention focused on Jim, glancing only occasionally at Simon.

Simon poured himself a cup of coffee and sighed, "Yeah, well, that makes sense," he muttered, holding the coffee pot out to Jim.

Seconds passed, and Blair finally glanced back at Simon, seeing the extended coffee pot and noticing Simon's bewildered expression when Jim failed to respond.

"Uh, coffee?" Blair covered quickly, bouncing on his toes and smiling nervously. "No thanks I'm fine here, Simon, thanks."

Jim shifted his head, obviously picking up the smell. "Yeah, no, thank you, Simon," he said, shaking his head. "You know me and that flavored stuff. What is that? Hazelnut? Thank you."

Simon narrowed his gaze. "You feeling okay, Jim?"

"Fine, Sir," Jim replied quickly, then looked at Sandburg. "Hey, maybe we should get on it."

Blair nodded quickly. "Yeah."

Jim rose to his feet just as Simon pointed to the table. "Hand me that file there, Sandburg," the Captain ordered.

"Okay," Blair said, moving forward to grab the file from the table.

"Just the cigar's getting to me," Jim explained, pointing to the offending item on the Captain's desk. Simon picked up the unlit cigar and examined it curiously

Jim turned and walked to the door just as Sandburg turned around with the file, and the two men collided. Simon looked up sharply as papers cascaded to the floor.

"Sorry," Jim muttered.

Blair bent down to retrieve the papers. "I got, Jim. I got it," he said hastily, crouched to the ground as he gathered up the sheets.

Trying to make a quick exit, Jim opened the door, slamming the edge into Sandburg's skull.

"Ow!" Blair exclaimed.

Jim stopped and turned toward the sound. "Oh God! I'm sorry."

Blair straightened, rubbing his head. "Ow..." he muttered through clenched teeth.

Jim reached out, feeling for Blair. His hand contacted the mass of curls and he rubbed Blair's head apologetically as Sandburg kept one hand pressed painfully against the new bump.

Simon glared at the two, his face dark. Finally, he leaned forward on his desk and said, "All right. ONE of you tell me what the hell is going on."  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office, closed door... a few minutes later
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Jim, I want you in the hospital," Banks said, pacing in front of the detective perched on the edge of his desk. "The whole case will just get reassigned."

"Sir, I had to work pretty hard to get them to accept me as Cyrus' contact. Now, we bait and switch now, game is over, man."

"We'll take our chances. If they make us, we'll bust them," Banks retorted.

"Charge them with what?" Jim asked. "Simon, just let me handle this, okay?"

"It's too dangerous," The Captain barked.

"Hang on. Simon, we did fool you," Blair interrupted.

Banks looked sharply at the young man.

"For a little while," Blair amended quickly. "And with Jim's sensory powers and a little practice and some help from me, I, uh, I think we can do it."

"Do what? Pretend that Jim can see?!" Simon yelled.

"My sight will return eventually, Sir," Jim added, his voice calm.

Banks turned a concerned gaze to the Sentinel. "Jim... What if it doesn't?"

No one had an answer for that, and Simon looked to Blair, raising a hand in exasperation as he gestured toward the stubborn Sentinel.

"Look, there is one thing I can see over and over again," Jim said, his voice strained. "It's the face of that girl going down the edge of that dam." He rose to his feet, his body tense. "Now they've done this to my eyes, I don't want to stop this case right now, Sir! I'm sorry."

Banks slapped a hand on Ellison's chest. "Jim. It is over," he said, enunciating each word slowly. One fumble and I lose you. It is NOT worth it!"

"Look, Simon--" Jim began to protest.

"You are off active duty until you get better," Banks ordered. "Is that clear?"

"Sir--"

Simon gave him another firm pat on the chest to halt any further protests.

"Hey, how 'bout, uh, we have a trial run out in the bullpen?" Blair offered.

"Yeah," Jim agreed, nodding.

"He can't get hurt out there," Sandburg continued.

"That's a great idea," Jim mumbled softly.

Blair rose to his feet, heading toward the door. Banks laughed in disbelief, but caved in. "No sunglasses," he told Jim. Then he looked pointedly at Blair. "And no help from you."

"All right," Jim agreed.

"Go ahead," Simon muttered.

Jim walked toward the door, immediately slamming into the frame. He paused only momentarily while Simon and Blair exchanged glances, then he shifted his position and ducked into the bullpen.

Jim's first challenge came in the form of Henri Brown. The detective walked passed Jim, stirring his drink. Ellison creased his brow, extending his smell and hearing in an attempt to compensate for his lost sight.

"Hey, Brown, you keep hitting that cocoa, you're gonna stretch the waistband of those fine corduroy slacks you're wearing," Jim said.

Brown threw Jim an indignant look. "It's the sugarless kind. Okay?"

Jim smiled, tilting his head. "It's your figure," he said, walking off to venture further into the bullpen.

Blair threw Simon a triumphant look, but the Captain only sighed and shook his head.

Jim approached the refreshment lady as she wheeled in a cart filled with coffee and pastries. "Oh, boy doesn't this smell good," he said. "I'd like the poppyseed, please. You can put it on the desk right behind you." He retrieved his wallet and withdrew a bill as the woman placed his order on the desk. When she turned back to him, he stretched his arm out, holding the dollar bill toward her. "Keep the change."

The woman's eyes widened as she accepted the bill. "Gee, thanks."

Blair chuckled, glancing at Simon. "That was a twenty."

Jim glanced back at his partner. "Can't I be generous?" he asked, then turned and walked passed the woman, catching the edge of the cart as he headed to his desk. "Excuse me," he mumbled.

Simon glanced at Blair. "He's gonna go broke."

"Yeah," Blair sighed, an amused smile on his face. His smile faded suddenly as he looked passed Jim at the woman entering the bullpen. "Margaret?" He rushed forward, a flash of panic touching his face.

He met her halfway, covering his reaction quickly.

"Hey!" She said, smiling brilliantly.

"How you doing?" He drew her into a hug and she kissed his cheek.

When she pulled back, she glanced around nervously. "So... I... I have an appointment in the neighborhood and I--" She sighed, shaking her head and smiling bashfully. "That's a lie. I, um... I came here to meet Jim."

The Detective in question stepped up, and she raised her head in pleasant surprise. "And I guess that's you," she said, turning toward him and extending her hand.

Jim's hands remained at his side as he shifted his head in Blair's direction. Margaret left her hand hanging out there for a few seconds, then, when no response was forthcoming, she pulled it back nervously.

"Uh, Jim have you washed your hands since you came back from the morgue?" Blair asked, bouncing on his toes.

 "Of course I have," the Detective replied quickly, putting on his most charming smile as he extended his hand.

Margaret released a short, nervous chuckle and she shifted her arm, fumbling only briefly to grasp Jim's slightly misplaced hand.

"Nice to see you," Jim added.

"You know it's funny, you're... you're so like your picture."

"You know when I imagined your voice, well I pictured you to... look just like you do," Jim said.

Margaret ducked her head shyly, bringing one hand up to worry at her collar. "Well, good... I'm glad I did this," she said, offering a nervous smile.

Jim nodded. "I am too."

"So you wanna give me a call and we'll make some plans?" she asked hopefully.

"Yeah, I'd like that," Jim said quickly. "I'd like that. Let's do it soon."

"Okay." Her smile widened as she shifted her gaze to Blair. "And thanks for trying to keep us apart," she said, turning just as Blair offered another smile and a nervous bounce. "It worked beautifully," she chuckled, walking out of the bullpen

Simon walked up to the two men and Margaret waved "bye" as she ducked into the hall.

"Bye, bye," Blair said. "Well, so far, so good," he commented, turning to Jim and Simon.

"Yeah, right," Simon muttered, then turned to Jim. "All right. I want you to set up the next meet. We'll just take this one step at a time."

"Okay," Jim replied, looking blankly away.

He held out the sunglasses. "Wear the glasses," he grumbled.

"Okay." Jim took the glasses and situated them on his face.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Loft, late afternoon
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim sat on the couch opposite his partner in the armchair. A soft chirping filled the air.

"There you hear that?" Blair asked.

Jim sighed, rubbing his forehead. "It's giving me a headache."

"No, no. The echoes... not the sounds," Blair insisted. "That's how bats navigate. Sound waves bounce off solid objects. You can approximate the size, the shape, the distance of an object by the echo."

"If you're a flying rodent," Jim replied, exasperated.

Blair punched the stop button on the portable recorder. "The blind do it, too, by tapping their canes," he said, his voice tinged with frustration.

Jim raised his hand. "No... No canes. It's a give-away."

Blair sighed. "I agree, but even if you can't see it, smell it, or taste it, you can still know it's there." Blair rose to his feet, walking to stand in front of Jim.

Jim looked up in his partner's general direction. "I thought we were gonna work on some simple verbal cues here?"

Blair nodded. "Oh we're gonna do that, too," Blair said, his voice taking on a note of excitement,  "but first... listen to the way the sound reverberates in a room... The ambiance... And concentrate on a given sound environment, you can make a mental map of your surroundings."

Jim nodded, his expression a mixture of impatience and grudging acceptance. "All right. I-I'll... I'll deal with that, but at the risk of being a pessimist here, what happens if my vision doesn't come back?"

Blair looked away briefly as he gathered his thoughts. When he returned his gaze to his partner, he said, "Jim, you had a power surge... and you're lines weren't built to take that much current. They're in shock, but they WILL recover, especially if you help the process," he said confidently.

"How can I help the process?" Jim asked.

"By trying to see. Remake the connection by an act of will."

The phone rang. Blair glanced at the cell phone, then looked uncertainly at Jim. On the third ring, Sandburg grabbed the phone and handed it to his partner. Jim extended the antenna and flipped open the phone, raising it to his ear.

"Yeah," he answered, then listened to the caller for a few seconds. "Well that's an awful lot of good faith... All right... fine." He snapped the phone closed and rose from the couch, walking toward the balcony. "They want a hundred thousand dollars in good faith--" he bumped into the coffee table and Blair's arm shot out to steady him. With a frustrated sigh, Jim shrugged off the touch and moved around the table to stand in front of the window. "We get a sample kilo of the Golden. They'll call and tell us when and where. If the deal goes smooth, we negotiate from there."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Meeting place, outside, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair pulled the blue SUV up to the side of the road. He sighed and ran a hand over his mouth. "I don't like this, Jim." He fidgeted behind the wheel, then looked at his partner. "Can you see anything?"

"Nah... Right now it's just... a whole lotta nothing."

Blair covered his mouth again, then shook his head. "This isn't gonna work!"

Jim ignored the comment. "All right, Chief... in this black bag here, get me out that little black case."

Blair complied, grabbing the bag and shuffling through it.

"There's a pair of binoculars and a radio transmitter for you," Jim informed the young man. There's also a pair of gloves for me, get them out, too."

Blair retrieved the items and handed the case to Jim.

"You're gonna be able to communicate with me via this two-way earpiece," Jim said, fitting himself with earpiece. "You're gonna be able to hear most of what I hear, and I want you to watch where I go with the binoculars, and I want you to see where I'm going... tell me who's coming... That sorta thing," he said, putting on his sunglasses.

Blair fiddled with his radio, then looked anxiously at Jim. "You know, it's not too late just to call for some back-up."

"Yes, it is. Let's do a radio check."

Blair raised the radio to his mouth. "Check."

Jim flinched, releasing a pained grunt. "Just... turn it down a little, please, would ya?"

Blair complied as Jim, dressed exclusively in black, slipped out of the vehicle. "Guide me on this, will ya," he said, then closed the door and headed down the road, carrying a black briefcase in his hands.

"Okay, Jim... I-I'm with you," Blair's voice echoed in his ear.

Jim tripped on a bush and released a muttered exclamation.

"Watch out for the bush... Sorry," Blair said.

Jim moved around the obstacle and continued walking down the road, veering a bit to his left.

"Sandburg, which way?"

"A little to the right."

Jim veered further to his left.

"The other right!"

Jim altered his course appropriately and continued walking down the road. He tripped in a pothole, barely catching his balance, then turned around to face the truck, his arms out to his side in an accusing gesture. Finally, he turned back around and resumed his trek.

In the truck, Blair held the binoculars to his eyes, scoping out the area. He spotted a grey van parked beneath an overpass several yards ahead of Jim.

Jim continued walking, tripping only once over a patch of grass.

"The van's right there. I don't see anybody," Blair announced.

"Check the plates," Jim suggested.

Blair's binoculars dropped to the plates. "They're out of state."

"I hear somebody."

Two men stepped out into view

"Okay, Jim. There's two of them. They came out from behind the pillars. One's on your right. The BIGGER one's on the left. He's got a GUN in his belt, and I'll keep watching," Blair reported, his voice strained with anxiety. "It's the guys from Slicks, not the muscles... the other ones."

Jim looked in the general direction of the two men, but he couldn't make out their figures. Golden light continued to fill his vision, blocking out the world around him.

Mr. Goatee approached the Detective. "What's in the case?"

"What you asked for," Jim replied. "Where's the product?"

"Front seat," the blond guy replied.

"Okay, Jim," Blair said, "the van is a little to your right..."

Jim handed the briefcase to the lead guy and then walked to his right, following Blair's directions.

"...and the window's open," Blair continued. "You keep going ahead... okay you're right there, now reach in."

Jim reached his hand through the open window and grabbed the cylindrical case on the front seat. The blond man handed the briefcase to Mr. Goatee, who snapped it open and inspected the money. Jim screwed the cap off of the cylinder, reaching in to pull out a bag of golden powder.

"Yep. Yeah. Yeah. That's... The drugs are there. Uh-huh," Blair reported.

The lead guy pulled out a wad of money and shuffled the edge, smiling in satisfaction, then he handed it back to Mr. Goatee. The smaller man looked up at Jim and said, "Okay, what's step two?"

"Cyrus wants a hundred kilos a month. Start distribution," Jim said, replacing the cap on the cylinder.

Mr. Goatee's head snapped in alarm to the larger man. The leader slapped a hand on his associate's chest to halt the man's protests. "No problem," he said, then looked at Jim and added. "It's twenty-five thousand dollars a ki."

"With that kind of quantity I'd say fifteen."

"Say twenty," the leader responded.

"Deal."

The leader waved at someone behind Ellison.

"Uh, Jim... Jim the muscle just got here."

The latino man walked up behind Jim, a black device carried at his side. "Hold it," he said, then moved in front of Jim and ran a buzzing electronic sensor over the Detective. The device hummed steadily, then emitted a squealing alarm when it detected the transmitter in Jim's ear.

"Wired!" the henchman yelled.

The leader pulled a gun out of his waistband and aimed it at Jim just as the henchmen made a move on the Detective. Jim blocked the man's arm and pushed him toward the ground, withdrawing his gun.

"Drop it!" the leader yelled.

Back at the vehicle, Blair stepped out of the driver's side, his jaw slack with concern.

Jim stiffened, but kept hold of the weapon.

"I said drop it!" the man yelled again.

Jim turned his head toward the angry voice.

"Drop it," he repeated.

"You drop it," Jim replied, "or I'll shoot him."

"And I'll shoot you."

 "You think Cyrus is gonna let you live? You can't hide from him."

"You tried to rip us off," the henchmen said, looking up at Jim from his tenuous position on the ground.

Back at the truck, Blair grabbed his laser pointer and steadied it on top of the binoculars, then he gazed through the lenses to focus the beam on the lead guy.

"Jim, tell the man with the gun to look on his chest."

"Look on your chest," Jim told the man.

The man tilted his head down, spotting the bobbing beam on the front of his shirt.

"What is it?" Mr. Goatee asked.

The lead man took a step back, his gun faltering. "Laser sight.

"Are you fu--" the henchmen yelled, panicked. "You waste him!"

The lead man raised his gun again, his jaw clenched.

Jim shifted to face the leader. "My man'll take you out before you can even blink. Cyrus can hire the best."

The man seemed to consider those words.

"Come on, put it down," Blair urged.

Slowly, the gun lowered.

"All right, it's down."

Jim released his hold on the henchman. "Get up," he ordered, then rose to his full height. The henchman scrambled to his feet, taking a step away from Jim. "Yeah, I'm wired," Ellison admitted. "You think I'd come in here one-on-three without any back-up? Now why don't we just try and stick to business, okay?" he suggested, turning away casually. "I'll await your call."

The henchman made a move for his own discarded gun laying on the ground.

"Oh wait! Lookoutman!" Blair warned, speaking so quickly his words blurred together.

Jim stopped, but did not turn around.

"Chaz!" the leader warned.

Chaz froze, a red spot visible on his chest. Slowly, he looked up, remaining frozen in his position.

"I got him," Blair said. "You're okay."

Ellison resumed walking.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The loft
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim sat at the kitchen table, straining to look past the golden haze as he held the salt and pepper shakers in front of his face. He moved the items through the air, his face expressionless. With a sigh, Blair walked up behind him.

"Maybe you're trying too hard," Blair said, clearing the plates from the table.

"Maybe I'm not trying hard enough," Jim replied.

Wordlessly, Blair walked into the kitchen, setting the plates in the sink.

A knock sounded at the door. Blair paused and looked at Jim. The Sentinel lowered the shakers, turning his head toward the door.

"Are you expecting somebody?" Blair asked, walking toward the door.

"No, I'm not."

"Who is it?" Blair asked, looking through the peephole.

Margaret stood in the hallway, her face distorted by the lens. "It's Margaret!" she answered.

Blair spun around, panicked. "Yeah... uh...." he paused, trying to come up with a reason to stall. "Hang on just one second. I gotta... um... put a shirt on."

He stomped on the floor as though scurrying for the item. Jim rose from his seat, walking to the center of the room. He paused, raising one hand in thought.

"Get... Get me a damp washcloth," the Detective said.

Blair scurried into the kitchen while Jim headed over to the couch. Out in the hallway, Margaret released an exasperated sigh. Blair handed the cloth to Jim and walked over to open the door, putting on his best smile.

Margaret stood in the hallway carrying a bottle of wine. "Hi," she said, her voice a bit uncertain. "So, you know... Jim didn't call... so I just... I thought I'd... You know..." She peered past Blair into the loft, spotting Jim on the couch, and her face took on a note of concern. "Oh... Is... Is he okay?"

Blair nodded, smiling. "Oh yeah, he's fine... Migraines. Stress from the job... You know... cold towel on the head's the only thing that seems to work... Maybe you should come back some oth--"

"No," she said, walking past Blair. "No. No."

Blair pursed his lips and turned as she walked into the living room. "Come on in," he muttered, closing the door.

Margaret approached Jim, removing her coat as she tilted her head sympathetically. The Sentinel sat on the couch, his head tilted against the back with a wet towel over his eyes. At her approach, he raised his head and removed the towel.

"Hi," she said, smiling nervously.

"Hi. How are you?" Jim asked, putting on his own smile.

"I'm okay," she said, putting the wine bottle and her coat on the coffee table as she sat down next to him. "M-My father used to get migraines."

"Ah."

"I can... I can take care of you," she said.

"That would be the nicest thing I've heard in quite awhile," Jim said as Margaret rubbed his back.

She turned to Blair and asked. "Do you have any liniment?"

"Uh... No, we're out," Blair stumbled.

"Oh, I... I bought some just the other day," Jim said, rising from the couch. "Lemme go get it."

"No-No. I'll get it," Margaret protested.

"Oh. No. No. No. You... You... Don't be silly. You stay put," he said, smiling politely. "Um... Can I get you something to drink?"

 "Well I brought... I brought wine."

"Oh yes, of course. Excellent choice," Jim covered quickly, raising his hand to Blair's shoulder. "I'll get some glasses."

Blair placed his hand on Jim's back and guided him into the kitchen. Margaret turned to look at the two men as they shuffled into the kitchen.

"Get some glasses," Jim whispered.

"Uh, they're right here," Blair said, grabbing a pair from the strainer.

Jim pulled his wallet out of his pants. "Why don't, um... why don't I treat you to a movie?" he whispered, handing a bill to his partner. He tilted his head. "Huh? Can you get outta here for a little while?" he asked, replacing his wallet.

Blair raised his eyebrows. "What and leave you here alone with her?" he asked, taking the bill and doing a double take. "A buck?!"

Jim sighed and withdrew his wallet again. Blair placed his hand over the billfold and said, "Uh... No. Never mind. What if she finds out?"

"I'll... I'll keep things simple," Jim replied.

"Simple for you, maybe."

"B-Blair," Jim stuttered. "If... If I'm gonna be blind, I might as well start getting used to it, and I might as well start with Margaret."

"Trust me, Jim," Blair said, keeping his voice low. "She's not your type. I mean, you don't even know what she looks like." He waived to Margaret and smiled.

"I don't care. I mean, how many times do I have to tell you? I just wanna spend some time with her... alone. Okay?" He placed his hands on Blair's shoulders for emphasis.

After a brief pause, Sandburg sighed. "Okay. All right. Gimme your hand," he said, placing the glasses in Jim's hands. "The Godfather movies are playing down at the Realto."

He moved passed Jim, and the Sentinel placed a hand on his partner's back, urging him toward the door.

"Why don't you see if you can stay for parts two and three?" Jim suggested quietly.

"Three?" Blair said, scrunching his nose. "The one without Robert Duvall? Are you kidding me?" He turned to the woman on the couch. "Um... Margaret?"

She looked at him expectantly.

"I forgot... I'm gonna go meet some friends at the movies. I'll see ya later, okay?" he told her as he opened the door. Jim's frame blocked it,and the door hit the Sentinel's shoulder hard. Blair winced and squeezed through the opening to duck into the hall. Then he closed the door quickly behind him.

Margaret raised her eyebrows, but remained silent.

Jim's lips turned upward in a slight smile as he turned to face her. "Great guy."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Diner with donuts, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Mmmnnn. I detect glazed buttermilk," Jim purred.

Blair raised his eyebrows and looked to the counter. "Yep," he confirmed, getting out of his chair to retrieve one of the donuts.

"It starts right at the tip and works all its way back," Jim said, illustrating the sensation by placing his fingers on either side of his nose and moving them along the imaginary trail.

Blair grabbed a donut from the counter and looked at the checker. "Can we put this on the bill, please?." He carried the plate with the donut back to the table.

"It's an explosion. Just an explosion," Jim muttered, still moving his hands.

A grey-haired man at another table held a newspaper and watched as Blair sank down next to Jim. "All right. All right. All right. Here's your donut. You got your donut," he said quickly, grabbing the Sentinel's hand and guiding it toward the pastry.

"Of course," Jim said, tearing a piece of the donut off and popping it into his mouth.

"Now," Blair said, leaning closer to the placated Detective. "Let's get back to Margaret here. The other night, you just talked, she got tired and she went home?"

Jim nodded, chewing contentedly on his pastry. "Right. Right," he mumbled through the mouthful. "And she still doesn't know that I'm blind."

"And you didn't hit on her at all?"

"No, I didn't hit on her," Jim replied sarcastically. "All I did was whistle."

Blair shook his head in bewilderment. "Whistle?"

"Yeah," he said, nodding and pursing his lips to release a short whistle. "Whistle."

The cell phone rang.

"Like a bat," Jim added, reaching into his pocket.

Blair rolled his eyes. "Like a bat."

"Go ahead," Jim said, pushing his plate over to Blair and pulling out the cell phone. "Have it. You gotta try some of that."

Blair took a piece of the donut, sniffed it, made a face, and dropped it back on the plate.

Ellison flipped open his cell phone. "Yeah."

"If you've got the money, we're ready to meet."

"Okay," Jim replied.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
At an amusement park near the water, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Fine. We're holding our position, Jim. When the deal goes down, we're there with you," Simon said, speaking into his headset. Blair stood next to him on the small bridge, leaning against the railing as he peered through the binoculars.

In the center of the lot, Jim stood alone in front of his blue truck. "Something's coming."

Blair scanned the area with the binoculars and spotted a white van approaching.

"All right, this is it people. Let's look sharp," Simon commanded. He looked up at Blair and barked, "Will you get down?"

Immediately, Blair ducked lower, keeping the binoculars focused. Simon shook his head and turned his gaze back to Jim.

The white van approached the Detective, and Ellison reached into his truck to retrieve a black briefcase. Chaz and his boss stepped out of the van.

"You first," Chaz ordered.

Jim snapped open the case. "One-point-nine mil."

"One hundred kilos," the leader confirmed.

"Are the goods there, Jim?" Simon's voice asked.

"Open the cases," Jim ordered.

Chaz waved his gun toward the open van door. "It's in there man. Why don't you check it?"

"I don't wanna touch the stuff. I just wanna look at it."

Chaz made no move to comply.

"Go ahead, Chaz, open the cases," the leader ordered.

Chaz sauntered up to Jim, stopping a couple of inches in front of the detective. He raised the gun and cocked it, aiming the barrel at Jim's chest. The detective made no move.

"Nah, man, something ain't right," Chaz said, taking a few steps back and lowering his gun.

On the bridge, Blair peered anxiously through the binoculars. "Hey, Captain, what are they doing? What's going on?!"

"It's a set-up gone bad," the Captain replied.

A shot rang out, and everyone ducked. Then a second shot sounded, bouncing off of the van, and Jim dove for the cover, stumbling toward his vehicle.

"Get in the van!" the leader ordered as more bullets hit the vehicle.

"All units! Go! Go! Go!" Simon yelled, bolting into a run.

Chaz and his boss hopped in the van. "Move it! Move it! Come on! Get us out of here! Go! Go! Go!" The van sped off with a screech of tires.

Jim reached his vehicle, feeling along the side with his hands. He reached the open window and tossed the briefcase in the front seat, then ducked to the ground, his gun ready. "Sandburg... I... I've got sniper fire," he said, looking around blindly. "They're behind me and to my right."

Simon opened his car door. "We're on our way, damnit! You just hold your position." He slid behind the wheel and took off.

Jim cocked his head, extending his hearing. A gun cocked, and he localized the sound easily. Like a bloodhound on a trail, he took off, stumbling along the pavement initially. He straightened and continued forward, then tripped on another pothole. Finally, he stopped and lifted his head.

"Sandburg, help me out here. You see the shooter?"

Blair scanned the lot with the binoculars, his lips pulled back anxiously. ""Uh... Yeah, Jim! Jim, I got him! He's about twenty yards to your... your left!"

Jim took off in a run, quickly stumbling on another obstacle. He rolled to his feet and resumed his course. He heard a gun drop, then footsteps. Sliding into a beam, he raised his gun, trying to blink past the golden haze filling his vision.

"Freeze!" he yelled.

The man ran in front of Jim, but the Sentinel reached out toward the footsteps and tackled him. A brief struggle ensued, and Jim yanked the guy to his feet. "Who the hell are you?"

The gray-haired man clenched his jaw and struggled weakly. "Arthur Hughes! You killed my daughter with your dope! You killed Lisa!"

Jim lowered his gun, his face registering his surprise. Flashing police units pulled up, and the man found several firearms aimed at him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Interrogation room, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim sat across the table from Author Hughes and ran his hands over his face. Simon leaned over the table, pointing to a sheet of paper.

"These are very serious charges, Mr. Hughes. You almost shot a detective on an undercover assignment."

"I didn't know," the man said softly. "I swear I didn't know."

Jim leaned forward. "I mean do you realize that we would have had the men responsible for the death of your daughter apprehended if you hadn't interrupted, Sir? Are you aware of that?!"

The man nodded, his eyes focused on the table. "I realize that."

Simon leaned against the wall. "Any information you can give Detective Ellison and myself would only help your case."

Hughes looked up at Jim. "You're Ellison?"

"That's right," Jim whispered, looking away and raising one hand to rub his forehead.

"Then you're the one who tried to save Lisa at the dam?"

Jim swallowed, continuing to avoid the man's gaze. "Yeah."

"You spoke to her last."

Jim nodded.

"Thank you," Hughes said, a slight quiver in his voice.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office, evening.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim stood by the window, rubbing the back of his neck. "Well after his daughter's death, Hughes talked to several of her friends," he told Simon and Blair. "Apparently, uh, some of them have tried this Golden. He asked them where they got the stuff from, and that led him to Slick's. He saw me there with the dealers, put me together with them, figured I was a corrupt cop and made me a target."

"If I lost my son like that..." Simon shook his head. "I don't know what I'd do... I'll ask the D.A. to go easy on him."

"So they give you anything you can use?" Blair asked, propped on the edge of the table.

"Well the kid who scored the drugs for Lisa apparently bought them from that guy Chaz," Banks said.

"Yeah, the kid couldn't tell us what kind of car he drove, or a license plate or anything, but he did notice this parking sticker on the bumper... It was faded, but it had a double helix on it, he said."

Blair looked thoughtfully at the floor. "Double helix," he mumbled, then looked up, his eyes bright with realization. "DNA molecule?"

"Right. And above this double helix was this word. It was, uh, maybe a company name, or something. It began with the letter 'B'."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bio-Helix lab, overcast day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"We nearly turned over one hundred Ki's of the last Golden we had to Cascade PD," the boss growled, holding a rap sheet with Ellison's picture.

Mr. Goatee stood in front of a set of flasks wearing a white lab coat. He glanced at the picture. "You didn't see it coming?" he asked angrily. "This thing has gotten out of control. I am a PhD, a biochemist, for God's sake. I am NOT a drug lord!"

"If I left it to you we'd still be slaving away making someone else rich."

"Oh yeah, we're a great big success story," Mr. Goatee rebutted.

"We caught some bad breaks. To get back on top we need capital, and for that we need Golden!" He turned to Chaz, who stood in the background above a lab bench. "Chaz!"

The henchman turned and walked toward the boss.

"How long to move all one hundred Ki's on the streets?"

"The usual price?" Chaz asked.

"Half off."

"Less than a week, man," Chaz said. "We got hungry mouths to feed."

"Do it."

Mr. Goatee turned to the two men. "We can't stay here! They're onto us!"

"LOOK!" the boss yelled, jabbing his finger at the scientist. "I handle the business, you handle production! Get the equipment packed up!"

"What about the cops?" the scientist asked.

The boss held up a bag filled with Golden powder. "It's time they sampled the merchandise for themselves."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Major Crimes bullpen, Jim's desk
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair stood next to Jim, glancing down at the Detective in the chair before turning his attention back to the folder. "They got the analysis on that Golden sample and it turns out that most of the chemicals are controlled substances. You need a special permit to buy them, store them, or use them in any way... and the rest are just, uh... just rare."

"Well good. Good," Jim said. "It makes them easier to trace. Better go ask Simon to have a squad run down local shipments. I need to get a list of permit holders." He rose from his desk, reaching out blindly for the folder. Blair placed the item in his hand, and he muttered a "thanks" before heading off to the Captain's office.

Blair watched Jim find his way to the Captain's office. The Sentinel knocked and, upon Simon's word, entered the office, shutting the door behind him. Sandburg glanced at the clock on the wall, noting the time at quarter to twelve. Then he turned his attention back to the folder.

A young man carrying a box of pizzas walked into the bullpen. "Major Crime?"

Blair looked up from the folder. "Yeah, you're there."

The boy raised the pizzas. "Where do you want 'em?"

"Uh..." Blair waved at Jim's desk. "Over here. How much?"

"All paid for," the kid informed him.

"All right. All right. Great," Blair muttered as the kid set the stack of boxes on the desk. He grabbed the note from the top box and opened it. "'To the hard-working officers of Major Crime, continued success. Chief of Police, Warren.'" Blair laughed, slapping the paper. "See that? That's good." He set the paper down and made a move for the top box. "All right."

The kid stood expectantly in front of the desk.

"Oh  yeah, right," Blair muttered, reaching into his jean pocket and withdrawing a bill.

The kid took the bill, looked at it skeptically, then looked around and snickered. "You guys got it rough?"

"Ha. Ha." Blair mimicked as the kid retreated. Then he opened the top box and grabbed a piece of the pepperoni pizza. "Oooh. Nice."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Twelve O' Clock, the bullpen
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim and Simon walked out of the office, heading toward the Detective's desk.

Jim raised a hand, his head cocked slightly. "What's on my desk?"

"Pizza," Simon replied. "Why?"

"No, I know that," Jim said, waving his hand, "b-but something else. It's, uh--"

"Ooh, lemme see," Banks said, making a move for the lid.

"No! No! No! Don't touch it!" Jim barked. "Uh... It's got that Golden stuff on it. I can sense it."

Banks inhaled sharply and yanked up the phone, punching in a number. "This is Captain Banks, Major Crimes!

Jim bumped into his open desk drawer. He stumbled forward, reaching his hands out to feel the obstacle. He slammed the drawer closed and moved in front of his desk.

"I need a HazMat disposal team up here stat!" The Captain yelled, then hung up and withdrew a pen from his pocket. Carefully, he lifted the lid of the pizza box with the pen. "Jim, there's a piece missing. Someone ate this."

Jim straightened. "Oh God. Where's Sandburg?"

Banks looked up sharply as Jim yanked open his desk drawer. He shoved his hands inside frantically, shuffling through the contents.

"What?! What is it?!" Simon asked.

Jim's face went blank with dread. "My backup .38 is missing. I keep my service revolver right here."

Sudden footsteps pounded from the hallway, and Brown rushed in. "Captain, we have a serious problem in the garage!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The police garage
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

Simon rushed into the garage. Jim followed, his hand pressed on the Captain's shoulder for guidance. A full-vested officer stood near the entrance, and Simon slammed to a halt in front him.

"What the hell is going on here?" Banks growled.

The officer jabbed his chin in the direction of the disturbance. "He keeps yelling about demons."

Banks followed the officer's gaze to the figure on the car. Sandburg stood on the hood of the cruiser, the gun held in front of him with both hands.

"He dusted or what?" the officer asked.

"He's been dosed with Golden," Simon explained.

"Take cover!" a voice yelled just before Sandburg turned, wild-eyed, and fired a shot at the police cruiser in front of them. Simon and Jim ducked, glass shattering around them.

"Get down! Get down!" someone ordered.

Jim crouched behind the car next to Banks. "Simon what the hell's going on?"

"He's got your gun. He's on a car about twenty yards away. One O' Clock."

Sandburg looked in the direction of the voices. "You get away from me! You keep back!" he yelled, his voice deep. He fired another shot, and the bullet pierced the hose line to the gas pump. The volatile liquid squirted out of the hose, adding to the danger already present.

The swat officer looked over the hood of the car where Jim and Simon crouched. "He fires again, this whole garage could go."

"Let me talk to him," Jim said.

Simon turned to the Detective. "Are you crazy?! He won't even recognize you, Jim!"

"I gotta try," Jim insisted, rising to his feet and stumbling toward Blair.

"Hold your fire!" Simon yelled, raising his hand in the air. "Everyone, hold your fire!"

Jim straightened, regaining his balance. He looked in his partner's direction, straining his vision to make out the shifting form, but the Golden light continued to block the images. "Blair? It's Jim," Ellison reassured the young man, then he clapped four times. "What's going on, buddy?"

Blair focused wide eyes on his partner and laughed, waving the gun casually. "There's no need for applause man. I got it all covered." Then his smile faded and he looked away, his face contorting into an expression of desperation.

Jim smiled. "What's going on?" he asked lightly.

"You don't see them?" Blair looked around, his breathing heavy. "They're coming through... through the walls and the floor, man."

"Who are?"

"The Golden fire people," Blair replied, the gun still clutched in his hands. He gazed at Jim, searching the man's face and seeing only confusion. Fear overtook the young man's features, and tears touched his eyes. When he spoke, his voice was filled shaky desperation. "You don't see 'em man?" he cried, looking away briefly. "They're made out of f-fire and they're burnt." He lowered his head, clenching his eyes to fight the tears. He took a deep, shaky breath, then looked back up at Jim. "You think they're ashes, but they're alive, man." He closed his eyes again, giving into a soft sob. Then he raised his head and, when his eyes opened, they carried a touch of determination. "And we gotta send them back!" He swung the gun around and fired off another wild shot.

The bullet shattered the front headlight on a sedan, sending half a dozen cops ducking for better cover.

Jim flinched, raising his hands over his head. "Easy, buddy! Easy, buddy!" A shadow of fear flickered over his face, darkening his eyes. "Whoa! Blair, listen to me!

Blair raised the gun over his head, then turned to Jim, his teeth clenched and his eyes wild.

Jim kept his hands out in front of him. "You're gun isn't gonna work with the fire people."

Blair nodded once, then shook his head.

"They're not gonna be afraid of your fire. It's only gonna make them stronger," Jim pleaded.

Blair shook his head angrily.

"You gotta use the bat echo trick," Jim urged.

Blair's eyes narrowed, and he scowled in frustration. "What trick?"

"You know, the one you taught me. Uh... You close your eyes, and you clap your hands." Jim illustrated, clapping his hands four times.

Blair shook his head angrily, waving the gun. "No man, that is NOT gonna work here!" he sobbed.

Jim forced a smile on his face. "Blair, come on. Try it. Trust me. You can save the world, here. Come on."

Blair lowered his head. "I don't think that's gonna work here, Jim," he said, his voice low. He pursed his lips, holding the gun out in front of him with one shaky hand.

"Come on, give me the gun. Blair..." Jim pleaded, his voice suddenly soft. He held his hands in front of him, inches from the gun.

"I just don't think that's gonna work here." Blair cocked the gun, his arm going rigid as he aimed the barrel in Jim's direction. He looked at Jim, his eyes crazed and his face twisted in fear.

The Sentinel placed a gentle hand on Blair's wrist. "Trust me," he whispered, his other hand closing over the barrel. "That's right." He slid the gun carefully out of the young man's grip. "Clap your hands. You gotta clap your hands."

Blair's arms fell to his side, then slowly lifted. He gave a hesitant clap. Then another.

Simon bolted from his position as Blair continued to clap.

"You did it!" Jim commended. "You did it! You did it!" He reached up with Simon, helping Sandburg off the roof. "You did it."

"I'm sorry," Blair whimpered softly.

"That's okay," Jim whispered.

Sandburg's head tilted back and he collapsed in Jim's arms.

"We need a medic over here NOW!" Simon bellowed.

Jim cradled his partner against his chest, resting his cheek on top of the young man's head. "Hang in there. It's all right." 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The hospital
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simon walked up to the closed door, peering through the glass at the unconscious anthropologist and his worried partner. He paused before entering, his expression grim as he took in the scene. Then he opened the door and stepped inside.

Blair laid in the hospital bed, a breathing tube jutting from his mouth. Jim sat next to the bed, his chin resting on his hand. He stared blankly ahead, his despondent eyes hanging low.

"Jim?"

Ellison raised his head as Simon walked up to Sandburg's bed. "How's he doing?"

The Detective sighed. "He's fading in and out, Sir. Doctor says it's gonna take some time for the drug to work its way through his system."

Simon inhaled a deep breath. "I got the reports back on those chemicals contained in Golden. They're pretty rare. There's no record of any significant shipments of those chemicals to any company here in Cascade."

Jim rubbed his forehead. "Well, what about controlled substances?"

"The same."

"They're legal transactions, Simon. What about theft?"

"I checked into that, too. There's nothing," Banks said.

Banks took another deep breath and moved around the bed. "How you doing, man? You don't look so good."

Jim sighed. "Oh, I'm all right, man. I was hoping... hoping he'd come to, you know? This Golden crap. This is insidious stuff, man. I mean, there must have been ten to twenty times the amount that would kill a person on that pizza."

Simon's face hardened. "They were sending a message: Don't screw with us or we'll hit you right where it hurts."

"I got a feeling these creeps haven't left town. They've got a hundred kilos of unfinished business," Jim said, clenching his fist in front of his face.

"I just wanna know how the HELL they found out who you were so fast," Simon grumbled.

"Well obviously, Sir, they've got some kind of access, right? Now we're talking controlled substances here. Come on, what about... What about government contracts?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simon sat perched on the edge of the table in front of a stack of papers. "All the companies that use these chemicals are mostly involved in biological research," Simon said.

"Those are public records, Sir," Jim said, looking up at the Captain from his seat, "but there's another category -- companies working under government contract... many of them are not on public record, and some are classified."

"How are we gonna check up on those without getting caught up in all the bureaucracy?"

Jim sighed, rubbing his forehead. "Uh... " He shook his head, then covered his mouth with one hand. He seemed to ponder the question for a few seconds, then lowered his hand and asked, "Is there a company logo?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Simon's office, some time later
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Simon stood in front of his window, the phone pressed to his ear. "And you're sure that's Bio-Helix?... Great... Thanks." He hung up the phone and looked at Jim. "About two years ago, Bio-Helix, Incorporated, was heavily involved in the biological weapons research. Then they lost all their government contracts... Some kind of phony billing scandal. The company went belly-up. The two owners were--" he flipped through some pages, "Paul Jacobs and Andrew Kaminski, and they're a match for the drawings we've got."

"I bet the government never got around to revoking their security clearances," Jim said, "which is how they got access to the police files."

The phone rang, and Simon snatched up the receiver. "Banks... Great... I want a five mile perimeter around the structure. No one in or out." He slammed the phone down and looked up at Jim. "The assault team will be in position by the time we arrive. Let's roll."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Bio-Helix compound, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The three men exited the van.

"Chaz, I'll meet you in a half an hour at Interstate Five," Jacobs, the leader, said, then followed the scientist around the van  to load the cargo into the second vehicle.

Chaz hopped in the van and sped off. He'd just exited the gates when sirens filled the air. Moments later, police cruisers skidded to a halt in front of the van, and Chaz fired several panicked shots out his window. The police cruisers continued forward, herding the van back through the gates as shots rang out wildly.

Jacobs and Kaminski heard the commotion, and saw the van speeding backward through the gate. Jacobs clenched his jaw and withdrew his gun just as the van spun around and tilted, rolling onto its side. The cruisers skidded to a halt, and half a dozen police officers exited their vehicles, taking shield behind the open car doors as they aimed their weapons.

The van exploded. Jacobs and Kaminski took off running. Jacobs fired a few random shots as he headed into the building. Simon's sedan skidded to a halt, siren blaring,  as Jacobs ducked inside the building. Kaminski tripped, but, by the time he made it back on his feet, Jacobs had slammed the door shut. The scientist pounded on the door, trapped outside as more cruisers arrived. Kaminski found himself looking down the barrel of a gun, and he quickly raised his hands and placed them on the back of his head.

In the sedan, Jim made a move to exit the vehicle, but Simon stopped him. "Look, Jim, I have an army of cops, here, I need you to sit this one out, all right?"

Jim turned his head slightly toward the Captain. "Whatever you say, Sir."

Apparently satisfied, Simon leapt out of his seat to join the action. Jim sat in the car, straining his eyes to see. Forms took shape amidst the Golden haze, and he strained further. "Come on!" he yelled, slamming a hand on the dashboard. The shapes shifted, but the Golden light still blinded him.

Frustrated, he jerked backward, then decided to change tactics, extending his hearing. Inside the compound, he heard an engine start.

Outside, Simon's voice blared, "Two guys on the door now! Go in!" The team moved into action.

Jim listened the engine rev, and he slid behind the wheel of Simon's car. Simon took cover outside behind another Sedan and held three fingers in the air. "Three... Two... One!" The door blew. "Okay! Okay! Let's go!" Simon yelled, taking off after the assault team.

Inside, the engine revved louder, and a second later a green sports car with decorative yellow flames burst through a pair of closed aluminum doors. Jim gunned the Sedan's engine, taking off in pursuit. Simon spun around, running back outside after the sedan, his face painted with disbelief.

"ELLISON!"

Jim floored the sedan, following the swift sports car. The detective squinted, his vision threatening to pierce the blinding golden haze. The car careened over a dirt mound, going airborne and crashing into a tin shed that Jim hadn't seen. The shed crumbled easily as the Sedan blasted through, resuming its chase.

Jim's sight began to clear, and he could just make out the road in front of him. He raced the car beneath a small overpass, and  exited the other side just as the sports car careened in front of him. The sedan's front bumper collided with the green car, pushing it over the side of another dirt mound. The sports car came to a halt, and Jacobs leapt out. Jim stopped the car and slid out, taking a moment to make sense of the shifting golden images around him. He spotted Jacobs' hazy figure stumbling toward a building a few feet ahead, and he took off in pursuit, his gun ready.

Inside, Jacobs sank to the floor and began reloading the chamber of his gun. Jim slipped into the building quietly and ducked into a small hallway. He spotted the discarded shells on the ground amidst a swirl of golden shadows. Moving quickly, he rounded the corner, approaching his prey from behind. Jacobs heard a noise and spun around, his gun poised. Ellison slipped up behind him, placing the barrel against the man's head.

"You remember Blind Man's Bluff?" Jim asked, his voice low. "You're it."

Jacobs dropped the gun and Jim led the man outside.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Missing Scene, begin: The hospital, day
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim and Simon arrived at the hospital, heading toward Blair's room.

"Jim, man, I can't believe you, sometimes. Are you trying to send me to an early grave?"

Jim glanced at his Captain, then blinked. "He was getting away," he stated flatly. "I wasn't going to let that bastard get away."

Simon sighed. "He wouldn't have gotten away, Jim. We had the place surrounded. You just wanted to be the one to grab him." He shook his head. "So you decided to take off on a high speed chase in MY car... blind! Blind people DON'T drive, Jim," Simon growled.

"I could see bits and pieces," Jim defended.

The two men followed the elevator up to Sandburg's floor.

"How 'bout now?" Simon asked hopefully.

Jim sighed. "It's better, but there's still this golden haze."

The elevator doors opened, depositing them onto the floor. Jim walked up to the nurses station, gaining the attention of the petite red-head behind the desk. "Excuse me, Ma'am."

The woman looked up. "Yes, Sir?"

"We're here to see Blair Sandburg? Is his doctor around?"

She nodded, pointing down the hall. "Go on ahead. I'll let him know you're in there."

Jim nodded. "Thanks."

Simon followed Jim into the room. Blair laid asleep on the bed, the breathing tube gone. Jim smiled, releasing a relieved sigh. "He's breathing on his own," he whispered, sinking into the chair he'd occupied hours before.

"Thank God," Simon sighed.

Blair's brow furrowed, and he shifted his head on the pillow, releasing a small whimper. Jim rose from his chair, leaning over his partner and placing a hand on the young man's forehead.

"Easy, buddy. Easy. It's all right," Jim soothed softly.

Blair clenched his eyes, lifting his head off the pillow. "No. No. No. No," he mumbled, shaking his head.

"Shhh. It's okay, Blair. It's Jim. I'm right here. You're going to be okay."

Blair's head fell back against the pillow, and he groaned. His eyelids lifted, and he flinched in surprise when he saw the figure above him, his body going tense.

"Easy, Chief. It's just me, Jim."

The crease in Blair's brow grew more pronounced. "J-Jim?"

The detective nodded, forcing a smile. "Yeah, buddy. How're you doing?"

Blair swallowed, then closed his eyes and sank against the mattress. "Wha' happ'ned?"

Jim took a deep breath. "You were dosed with Golden."

Sandburg's eyebrows knitted together in concentration, and, after a few seconds, he groaned. The beeping of the heartmonitor skyrocketed, and he turned his head away "Oh man," he rasped, his voice hoarse. He swallowed again, hard. "Did... Did I hurt anybody?"

Jim stroked the top of Blair's head gently. "No, Blair, you didn't. Everything's okay."

Sandburg's bottom lip began to quiver. "Am I fired?"

Simon released a sharp chuckle, and Jim's head snapped up, his eyes throwing an angry reprimand at the Captain.

Simon walked up to Blair's bedside and said, "No, Sandburg, you're not fired. You didn't do anything wrong."

The beeping of the heartmonitor increased another notch. Slowly, Sandburg opened his eyes to gaze at Simon. He opened his mouth to say speak, but was interrupted when the door opened.

All three men looked toward the new arrival.

"Hello, Mr. Ellison," Doctor Stratton, said, then shifted his gaze to Blair as he walked up to the bed. "How are you feeling, Mr. Sandburg?"

Blair swallowed. "Lousy."

The Doctor nodded. "Not a surprise there. How's your vision?"

"Kinda g-golden," he stammered. "Hazy."

"How is he, Doc?" Ellison asked.

Stratton looked up at the Detective. "He's doing fine, Detective. The drug's almost out of his system, and, as far as we've been able to determine, there's been no neurological damage."

Jim closed his eyes briefly and nodded.

"How much do you remember, Mr. Sandburg?" the doctor asked.

Blair closed his eyes again. "Enough," he whispered. "But not everything."

"What's the last thing you remember?" the Doctor prodded.

"I'm not sure," Sandburg replied softly. "Um... standing on the hood of a car, I think. I shot at something... there was fire all around." He opened his eyes and looked up at Jim. "I remember your voice, Jim... Thanks," he whispered, his eyes growing wet with tears.

Jim offered a soft smile and placed his hand on Blair's elbow. "Don't mention it, buddy."

Blair's eyes flittered briefly to Simon, then he lowered his gaze. "I'm s-sorry," he whispered, on the verge of tears.

Simon glanced briefly up at Jim, then cleared his throat. "There's nothing to be sorry for, Sandburg. The pizza was laced with Golden. You had no way of knowing. It could have been any one of us... Hell, it could have been all of us. You were the victim. No one's blaming you, kid. Understand?"

Blair nodded, but his gaze remained fixed to the blanket. The beeping of the heartmonitor slowed, and, after a few seconds, Sandburg's eyelids drifted shut.

Jim patted Blair's arm softly. "That's it, Chief. You get some rest." He looked back up at the doctor. "So he'll make a complete recovery?"

The doctor sighed. "I can't be absolutely sure. He seems to be doing well, considering, but the components in Golden are, as you know, quite rare." He looked at Captain Banks. "You said the persons responsible for creating Golden were doing research in Biological weapons, so that should tell you just how toxic these substances are." He shook his head. "The drug is so new that we haven't been able to tell what kind of long-term damage may result. It's possible he could have flashbacks years down the road. On the other hand, he may never have a flashback. We just can't say right now."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Missing Scene, end. The Loft
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim laid on the couch. Blair stood behind the sofa, wearing his brown leather jacket, and peered down at his partner

"How are your eyes doing?" Blair asked.

Jim rubbed a hand over his head, "Almost clear. Just have this, you know, residual kinda fringe..."

"Glow," they both said simultaneously as Blair raised his hands to illustrate, nodding once.

"It's kinda nice, actually," Jim explained.

A knock sounded and Blair glanced at the door. "That'd be Margaret," he said, moving toward the door.

Jim flew off the couch, stepping in front of his partner. "What is she doing here?" he whispered.

"Well, you know what, I just realized it's crazy for me to try to keep you guys apart. So, uh, I'm giving you both my blessing," he said, making a hasty cross symbol over Jim as he maneuvered past the larger man.

"Wait. Wait. Wait," Jim stammered, turning to stop Sandburg.

"What's the matter?" Blair asked. "Are you afraid that her inner beauty just isn't going to be enough for you, Jim."

"No.. C-Come on, man. I... I lied to her. I-I mean I deceived her."

Blair placed a hand on Jim's shoulder. "So make it up to her," he said firmly.

"W-Well, tell me... honestly," Jim began, rubbing the back of his neck nervously. "How unattractive is she?"

Blair took a step back, and sighed.

Jim placed a hand on the Sandburg's chest. "No. Forget it. Forget it. I-I don't care."

Blair turned toward the door.

"No, should I?" Jim added quickly.

Blair looked up at the man tolerantly. "No. You shouldn't," he said, shaking his head. "You ready?"

"No, it's.. wh- but... b-whoa..." Jim stammered.

"You ready?" Blair asked again, raising his eyebrows in amusement as he grabbed the knob and yanked the door open.

Margaret stood in the hallway, her light brown hair cascading softly around her shoulders, her face surrounded by an angelic golden light.

"Hi," she said, smiling.

"Hi," Jim replied, dumbstruck.

Blair patted Jim on the shoulder and squeezed past Margaret on his way out.

Jim smiled, taking a step closer to the woman. "How you doing?"

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The End!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Let me know if you enjoyed it!

One little thing I noticed: Jim tells Margaret that, when he "imagined" her voice, he pictured her just the way she looks... Hey, that's what the man said. I know it makes NO sense whatsoever... especially since he's spoken with her at length on the phone. :-)