Guide Squared Part 3
"I've always wanted to come back to the DC area," Sandburg remarked to his partner as they climbed the steps of the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Arlington. "Mom and I came here once years ago, but her whole 'anti-establishment' viewpoint made the visit short. She just -"
"I can imagine there was not enough sage in the world that could clear up all the bad auras she was seeing," Ellison smirked. "I'm amazed Naomi would even come into the capital area at all! Her free spirit simply doesn't fit with all the rigorous politicking that goes on around here." Jim reached and held his partner's hand as they stopped on the landing midway up the long staircase.
Blair looked down at the joined hands. They could not be open in their relationship at home, but here, a few thousand miles away, where no one knew them, Blair loved his partner's desire to be close. Here they could express their feelings openly without condemnation or incrimination. Blair squeezed Jim's hand in approval and gazed into the deep blue eyes that seemed to sparkle as the sun reflected off them.
"I'm sorry we can't do this at home, Blair, but..."
"-but here we're safe from prying eyes, right?" Blair's smile radiated up towards his partner as he reached up and placed his hands around his partner's neck. Jim wrapped his arms around Blair's waist. No words were exchanged, none were needed. The kiss between the two men was warm and loving. Blair allowed his fingers to gently comb up the short soft hair of his lover.
"Ah, excuse me - JJ?"
Jim slowly released the kiss licking his lover's lips before finally turning his head to the newly discovered sentinel.
"Don't mean to interrupt, well, I do, but, I don't mean to be-"
Blair looked up into Tony's eyes. "It's fine Tony. It's just that back home no one knows that Jim and I are more than partners at the office. So, we were just enjoying the freedom that anonymity provides."
"I, ah, understand. The whole 'don't ask-don't tell' thing. Hell, even if you do want to tell, you shouldn't be ostracized or condemned because of it. When did it stop being a free country anyway?" Tony turned to watch Gibbs approach the group. He had parked the car and was only now catching up with the others.
Blair noticed the way Gibbs advanced. He tapped Jim on the shoulder to have him also observe the connection between the two men. Jim smiled as he saw Gibbs totally focus on the young NCIS agent. These two already seemed to be 'in sync' with each other, Ellison discerned. Now it would only be a matter of training the guide to help him fine-tune the senses that Tony already naturally controlled.
Gibbs proprietarily rested his hand on Tony's shoulder. "So Blair, you're the expert here. What do we do?"
"Well, LJ, you picked this place. Why did you think it would be beneficial for us to come here?" Blair and Jim released their hands but not before Gibbs noticed they had been joined earlier. Ellison put his arm around his guide's back and drew him closer.
Surprised, but not bothered by the interplay between the two men from Washington, Gibbs replied defensively, "I thought between the views that we could have from this vantage point to test for vision, the surrounding gardens for..."
"-No, don't get me wrong. I'm not unhappy with your choice at all! This is great. You're right about the vision acuity tests. I'm sure Jim and Tony will be able to distinguish the names of some of the boats out there on the Potomac. Maybe even see if Tony can use his hearing to listen to someone at the Metro station over there and then ride his vision to pick that person out of the crowd. Walking around the gardens we can test for smell as well as touch. We, ah, already tested his hearing."
Tony glared at the shorter man at that comment. "When did you-" He paused as he recalled hearing the two men talk about him back NCIS headquarters. He thought he had caught them unsuspectingly but "-you were testing me back at the office. Very clever." Tony turned slightly to face Gibbs. "Well, Boss, you ready to start guiding this 'probie' sentinel?" he simpered.
"I'd like to test his vision right now," Blair barged in. "Tony, I want you to focus about a half mile away. I don't want to push you too fast. LJ, I need you to keep touching Tony somewhere. I see you already have a hand on his shoulder. That's fine. Jim and I find a hand placed in the small of the back or a little higher works very well too."
LJ looked curiously at the experienced guide. "I'm not complaining, but why do I need to be touching Tony while he is using his senses? He's used them lots of times before and I haven't touched him?"
"Well, LJ, it's to keep him grounded and not zone out on one sense. You know, like how you found Jim that day you met. Until now, I'd say Tony has used his senses freely and comfortably, but he hasn't extended them very far beyond his immediate environment. Is that true, Tony?" Blair hoped he had theorized correctly.
Tony continued to feel Gibbs hand resting squarely on his shoulder. It felt so good, so right he... He realized the other men were looking at him, again. "What? I was just thinking! I was not zoned!"
"Sorry Tony, not used to seeing you think," Gibbs retorted with a smile and a slight squeeze around the back of Tony's neck. "You didn't answer the man's question, DiNozzo. Have you been using your senses in a tighter environment than what we are testing today?"
"Yeah, oh, yeah. I got headaches when I stretched out too far, so I stopped trying." He glanced at Sandburg. The man was practically bouncing with excitement.
"This is great! I don't mean your headaches, but that you could use them up close at least and all this time without a guide. But to extend them, you really do need a guide. Ok, ok, let's begin."
Tony picked out street signs and license plates as he slowly extended his field of vision until he was reading the names of some of the ships in the harbor. The further his field of sight expanded, the lower Gibbs hand went down his back until it finally nestled into the small of the new sentinel's back.
Blair watched the two individuals slowly meld to a working unit. They were naturals at working together and would only improve. "Hey, guys, this is great, but it's starting to get late. Let's try hearing. Tony, concentrate on the voices from the Metro stop down there. Pick one out and tell us what they are saying. Jim-"
"I know Chief, listen for that voice after Tony tells us what they are saying, right?"
"Yeah, right, but I also want you to let your sight find the speaker by riding sound back to the source. Then I'll have Tony do it too. This is great, man. Two sentinels to test!" Blair beamed with anticipation.
"Tony, this is the bad part. Once your guide determines he is going to run tests, you have no life for that day. It's 'smell this' or 'taste and tell me' and my all time favorite 'zone out the light and listen to the music'. Sometimes you feel like a trained seal!" Jim slapped his partner on the back and looked directly into his lover's eyes, "-and I wouldn't have it any other way."
Blair blushed at the compliment. Jim would sometimes say the nicest things at the most surprising times, which was just fine with him. It kept their relationship alive and fresh that way.
"If you guys can stop staring at each other, I found the person to listen to," Tony interjected. "It's a male voice, by the sound of it. I'd venture he's in his late twenties - early thirties."
Gibbs, without removing his hand from his sentinel's back, moved closer to the younger man until the back of the one and the chest of the other man were almost touching. He then whispered into Tony's ear, "How do you know from listening the age of the speaker."
Tony's faced flushed as the warm air washed over the side of his face as his boss whispered in his ear. "I, ah, that is, well, it's the timbre of the voice. The vocal cords, the vibrations per second, all that, I guess. Well, I don't know why, maybe..."
Ellison found a few male voices in that range. "I found a few speakers fitting that description Tony, what is your subject talking about."
"Oh, yeah, he's---" Tony tilted his head in concentration.
Blair saw Tony tilt his head in the same manner as Jim. 'Must be a sentinel thing,' Blair mused.
"-talking about some garden party at his house tomorrow. No wait, a party in the garden at the White House. Whoa, think I'll leave that conversa-"
"Tony, quiet," Ellison stopped his rambling immediately. "I hear a man, like you had said earlier, mid-thirties, only he said he left something here, at the memorial. Wait, -"
Tony started to listen for the same speaker. Gibbs started to slowly draw circles Tony's back.
"I've got him, JJ - he's..."
Blair spoke softly to Tony. "Let your sight ride your hearing so you can see the speaker."
Tony nodded in understanding until, "Oh my god, Gibbs."
"Tony, you and Blair go to the Metro station and see if you can stop the guy," Jim ordered. "He's alone. He was talking on his cell phone. Blair, let Tony take the lead, he has the gun and the credentials. Gibbs, you and I are going into the basement. Seems someone planted a bomb down there. It's going to go off at 4:25," Jim looked at his watch, "which is about ten minutes from now."
Blair grabbed Jim's shoulders to spin him around to look at him. "Jim, don't send me off with Tony! You need-"
"-a guide," Ellison finished. "LJ is a guide. He's also a Fed and he can get us where we need to be in the building. Meanwhile, you can guide Tony. Tony knows what the guy looks like and which direction he is planning to take the train."
"Tony, call it in to Homeland Security and Fornell. He'll just love this," Gibbs directed as the four men started to move away from their original partners to form new pairs. "Be careful, Tony." Gibbs suddenly felt the need to- no, no time now. Later, when this was over. When he could do it right. When he could tell Tony how he felt about him.
"Yeah, Boss, you too. I ...yeah, you too."
"Blair, stay close to Tony and stay safe, love."
"Love you too. See ya soon." With that Tony and Blair were bounding down the stairs to run over to the Metro.
Tony was on the phone calling the necessary agencies as they ran. Blair was panting as they approached the station. Tony had run up the steps to the station while Blair was still approaching. Blair heard the sirens approaching. Tony was coming down the steps with the suspect cuffed.
Homeland Security arrived first. Tony handed over the suspect and quickly summarized the situation for the authorities as well as informed them about what his boss and Blair's police partner were doing at the memorial. Minutes later he and Blair were on their way back up to the memorial when the ground rumbled. They saw the three hundred and thirty-three foot memorial stand firm, but heard glass shatter as many of the antique stained glass windows blew out.
"JIM!" Blair screamed, his mind frozen in fear.
"Jethro, no, god no, Jethro," Tony pleaded as he fell to his knees.
Then there was silence.