Guide Squared - Part Four
Blair stepped around the debris carefully as he approached the building. He heard voices behind him, yelling, shouting, perhaps at him. He wasn't certain. He had only one thing to do, find Jim Ellison, hold him and never let him go. Finally he felt a hand on his shoulder, impeding his movement. Blair turned sharply around ready to insist to be released. He closed his mouth as he looked into the sad eyes of the new sentinel.
"Blair," Tony pleaded softly. "What do I do? How can I find them? There must be something I can do to - to-"
Blair stretched his arm to rest his hand on Tony's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I was only thinking of Jim and, well, I'm sorry." He gathered himself together; he knew the sentinel in front of him needed guidance. "Okay, yeah, there is something you and I can do, as a team. We'll need to really push your senses to find Jim and LJ. I'll tell you what to do and work on keeping you grounded while you --"
"McGee, over here," DiNozzo shouted. "That's McGee. He's on Gibbs' team along with Ziva and me. She's out of town though, so you won't have to meet her."
Blair nodded in understanding. Just as he and Jim had Simon and the members of Major Crimes to back them up, Tony and LJ had their support. They had their team to help them through both the good and bad times. This, he mused, was definitely a bad time. If - no, Jim had survived! He couldn't dwell on the negative. In fact, no time to -
"Sandburg? You ready to move up? The engineers have looked over the site and they say it will hold - at least for a little while. What do I do?"
"Sorry, right. Thanks Tony." Blair turned to the other NCIS agent. "Mr. McGee-"
"Right, Tim, I need you to keep the people away from Tony and myself. We're going to be - well, we just need people to stay away." Not knowing if McGee knew about Tony's enhanced senses, he did not believe he should be the one to disclose the information.
McGee merely nodded and walked towards the line of rescue personnel and curious observers. Blair marveled at the instant acceptance he received from the young man. The tribe was protecting its' guide and sentinel, just as the guide and sentinel would protect the tribe. He couldn't wait to tell Jim-
"Jim," Blair whispered. "We're coming. Please -"
Tony tapped him on the shoulder. "Blair, the sooner we get going, the sooner you can talk to him, face to face. I have a lot I need to tell Gibbs. Just hope I have a job when...when I tell him-"
"Don't worry," Blair assured as the duo walked carefully around the broken glass up the long steps to the memorial, "he knows."
Tony stopped, a foot on each step. "He - he knows?"
Blair gently placed his hand on the sentinel's back to keep him moving. "For a guy with the super senses, you sure miss some of the easy stuff. I saw it in his eyes when we were separating, before the-" Blair swallowed noticeably, "-the explosion. When we find them, you two need to discuss your changing relationship."
"Ya think?" Tony smirked.
They finally reached the top step and entered the building. "Here's a good place to stop now Tony. I need you to listen. First, I need you to control the level of your hearing. Try to imagine an old fashioned radio with the volume dials," Blair encouraged. "Do you see dials?"
Tony closed his eyes, searching his mind for dials. "No, damn it. Nothing!"
Blair stared at Tony. If he couldn't control the sound, he couldn't filter the extraneous sounds out, he couldn't turn up the sound on the one sound they need to hear - heartbeats.
"No, wait. I don't see dials, but I see slide bars, like a computer's volume control. Oh, this is cool!" Tony was caught up in the moment until he realized the importance of his discovery. "Okay, yeah, I have sliders, now what?"
"Oh man, this is great. Well, let me tell you the goal. I need you to listen for their heartbeats or breathing. Either one would be, well, you know. What are the gradations on the slide bar to determine the levels of the volume?"
"Um," Tony squeezed his eyes in concentration. "Ah, looks like, yeah, numbers. If I move it to..." Tony suddenly put his hands over his ears and fell to his knees.
Blair saw the pain and gently spoke to Tony while he rubbed his back and encourage him to move the slider in the opposite direction. As look of pain slowly receded from Tony's face, Blair also noticed the muscles under his hand also relaxed.
Tony glanced up shyly to the guide's face. "Guess I know now which way increases the volume, huh?"
"Yeah, guess so. You ready to continue. I wouldn't press except-"
"Press, it's what we need to do. Okay, what next?"
"First I need you to put the volume at a middle level on your slider. Next, just listen and take in all the sounds. Don't worry about separating them out yet. That'll come."
Tony stood up next to Blair but did not move away from the guide. He knew he was going to push his senses beyond anything he had ever tried to do before and instinctively felt that the only way to do that was with the guide's support. Blair continued to give directions to Tony until all he heard was the guide's words washing over him.
"Tony, now I need you to let your hearing go below the floor to the basement. That's where the employee said he last saw," Blair drew a deep breath, "last saw them with the curator. He said the curator was trying to find the right key to open the door and LJ was picking the lock when the curator found the key. That's when the employee left and -"
This time it was Tony that supported Blair. "We'll find them, Blair. We will. Right?"
Blair agreed with a small nod. He cleared his throat, swallowed and continued. "Right, we will. Ok, concentrate. Listen for the sound of a heartbeat, or air being exchanged in the lungs." Blair slowly moved his hand up and down Tony's arm. A few minutes went by when Blair noticed how still the NCIS agent had become. "Tony? C'mon man, don't zone on me. Tony?"
"Blair?" The sentinel's face said more than any words could express. Tears welled in the corners of Tony's eyes. "Blair - I - can't hear anything. Some shifting sand, the building creaking, but -"
"No, Tony, try again," Blair pleaded. "He's got to be there, he's got to be," he whispered.
"I've tried, Blair. Don't you think I tried? That's Jethro down there too, ya'know! I..." Tony retorted, his hand over his heart. "I feel like a part of me -"
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry..." Blair hugged the distressed sentinel. He glanced around Tony and noticed McGee's approach. Wiping his own tears away as Tony did the same, they both watched McGee until he stopped a foot in front of them.
"Um, guys, the rescue workers really need to start before the structure becomes unstable. They want to put supports around the lobby area before they start looking for -" McGee paused and glimpsed briefly at Tony before he continued. "Is it true, Tony? Is Gibbs really -" Tim could not bring himself to finish the sentence.
"Yeah, Tim," Tony confirmed, "he's down there. I can't hear him or Jim Ellison, a friend his that went down there with him. I tried, Probie, I did but-"
"Tony, I believe you, I do," McGee interrupted. "Let's allow the rescue squads in now, Tony. They'll find Gibbs and his friend-"
"Jim. His name is Jim," Blair interjected. "He's my partner. He's my-"
"Right," Tim agreed, "so let's get out the way and let Search and Rescue do their job and find Gibbs and Jim." Tim managed to steer the distraught man outside as the rescue teams swarmed the building. He saw the command post set up at the bottom of the steps and encouraged his teammate and his friend down there. Already ambulances had pulled up to help with any injured found in the search.
Tony walked back and forth in front of the tent as he waited for news when finally the radio crackled to life. They had found someone. All they could reach at this time was a hand and wrist. There was no pulse.
Tony's mouth was dry as he asked, "Can you find any ID on the victim?"
"No," crackled back through the radio. "It's the right hand. Did either man wear anything on that wrist?"
Tony looked at Blair as he shook his head. Tony clicked on the radio and replied, "Gibbs had a bracelet there. Something from his father. The other man did not have anything on his right wrist."
Both men held their breath as they awaited the response from the person on the other end of the radio. "Gentlemen," the voice said quietly, the static even quieting in seeming respect for the message to come, "it appears there was never anything on this man's wrist. I'm sorry."
"NO!" Blair screamed. "No, it can't be Jim. I don't feel him missing. I don't..."
Tony opened his arms and the short guide sought out refuge from the only person that truly understood how he felt. Blair allowed the tears to fall, hugging the sentinel as they fell. Tony rubbed Blair's back. "At least you know now Blair."