Guide Squared - Part 5
Blair pulled out of Tony's embrace. "I have to see him, Tony. I - I ..."
Tony looked up the slope to the entrance of the Memorial. For a moment, he became totally focused on the events taking place near the doors. He closed his eyes to remove any visual interruptions and delved further into the activity that was taking place. He gradually removed all the other sounds except for the rescue worker's voice that had been the earlier contact.
'...face has been crushed. I don't know if his own family could recognize..' The sound of speech from the rescue site started to fade as the new sentinel heard a different voice that demanded his attention. There was something about the voice that spoke of safety, of family, of home, of ....
"Oh no you don't Tony! C'mon, listen to my voice. Feel me touching your arm, man! You will not zone out!" Blair intonated. "Please man, I can't lose - "
Tony opened his eyes, blinked as if clearing them then returned his gaze back to the worried guide. "I'm okay, I'm good."
Blair continued to slowly rub Tony's arm. "Yeah, you're just fine. One minute you look up at the Memorial building, the next minute you're auditioning to become another statue in DC."
Tony shook his head vehemently in denial. "I have no intention of - ." Calming down Tony continued. "Ok, maybe I stretched a little beyond -"
"- a little?"
"-a lot beyond my comfort level, and yours obviously, but I had to know what was going on at the top. To see if they finished," Tony placed his hand on the shorter man's shoulder, "if they finished uncovering Jim."
"Well, did they?"
"They did but-" Tony felt his hand fall away from the guide Blair starting running up the hillside. "Blair! Wait!" Tony knew Blair needed to see Jim, but from what he overheard, he wasn't sure Blair was ready to see Jim's crushed body. He reluctantly ran after Blair but was surprised how far ahead he was even after the short lead he was given.
Blair almost literally ran into McGee who then escorted him the rest of the way up the slope and past all the security points using McGee's NCIS ID.The body was on a gurney outside the large double doors to the Memorial. All the Search and Rescue workers had returned to the site to find the other body Blair assumed. McGee put his arm over Blair's shoulders. Blair pinned his vision to the body bag.
"I heard Blair. I am so sorry for your loss," McGee sincerely offered as he felt the body under his arm noticeably begin to shake. Blair turned to McGee and let his cheek rest against the NCIS agent's chest. Tim used his free hand to rub the anguished man's back. "I'm so sorry, Blair," he repeated quietly. McGee felt Blair nod against his chest.
Tony arrived to see McGee comfort Blair. He quietly asked McGee, "Did he," pointing at Blair, "look at ..." Tony could not finish the sentence. The remains in the body bag were crushed, perhaps beyond recognition based on the piece of conversation he overheard.
McGee silently mouthed 'no' to Tony to which his muscular frame visibly relaxed. Tony would hate to have the last vision the young man had of his partner to be that of his crushed body. Tony was about to insist on Blair returning to the command tent when the Search and Rescue supervisor, Vig Petrolli, stepped out of the damaged building.
"Are one of you the one who thought you knew the victim here," he asked understatedly. "We could use and ID before we send him to the morgue."
Blair turned abruptly from McGee, his face pale. "I, um, I know him -knew- him," Blair whispered. "Let me-"
"No!" Tony and McGee yelled simultaneously. Tony started to pull Blair towards himself. He felt compelled to protect this man, if only from himself.
Blair knocked away the approaching hand. "I will look, Tony. I have to look to convince myself that he is really, that the spirit is no longer there."
"Wait, please," Tony implored. "I 'heard' that he, well, he probably won't look-" Tony looked at McGee for support. Maybe McGee could make Blair understand that looking at the body right now would upset him more than he may be prepared to undertake.
"Tony's right, Blair. Jim was under a lot of rubble. He-" McGee stopped as Blair held up his palm towards him to stop him from continuing.
"I know what I'm doing," Blair assured quietly. "I will identify Jim's body so that we both will be able to move on." Blair approached the gurney while Vig unzipped the bag and flipped back the corner to reveal the head. Blair gasped audibly while rapidly moving backwards, practically knocking McGee backwards.
"We're here for you, Blair." McGee patted the distressed man's shoulder. "Tony, I'll take Blair back to..."
"No, I'm not going anywhere!" Blair shouted, moving away from McGee. "Th-that man," Blair gasped, "is n-not Jim!"
Tony peered over to the gurney and definitely agreed with Blair. The man on the gurney had to have been in his late 60's, certainly not Jim Ellison. This meant....
"I told you! I told you I'd feel it if Jim, well if Jim died." Blair's energy level suddenly spiked. "I'm sorry for the relatives of this man," Blair remarked to Vig, "but he is NOT Jim Ellison. Jim and LJ are still down there! Your people, they are still looking, right? Still digging," Blair prodded.
"The more they dig, the more the stairwell fills. We can't get down there without risking the crew." Vig noticed the panicked expression on the young man's face. "Oh, we will get down there, when we can shore up the walls, but that takes time. The way our engineers have figured it, based on the fill in the stairwell, and size of the basement, that if they weren't crushed by the initial avalanche of debris, then the lack of air would..."
"No, I don't believe it," Blair interrupted. "I would know. Jim is not dead. I'm not giving up, even if I have to do the digging by myself!"
Vig grabbed Blair's arm as he attempted to enter the building. "I can't let you do that. It's not safe." Then softly he continued, "I know how you feel. Really. But I just can't let you enter that building."
Tony stared at the SAR supervisor as an idea developed. "Okay, so we can't dig from here. Fine." Blair turned his head sharply at Tony, disgust written on his face. "Hold on Blair." Tilting his head back to Vig, he continued. "Isn't it true that all these Masonic Temples and therefore their Memorial have secret rooms and tunnels? Isn't it possible that they are in one of these passageways and all we have to do is find where the passageways egress -"
"-and then we go in that way and find them!" Blair concluded.
"Probie-" Tony started.
"I'm on it already. I'll check the city plans, the Memorial building plans. If there are tunnels, I'll find them Tony," McGee replied, finally allowing a blossom of hope to grow. Perhaps they will find Gibbs alive which would be the best outcome. However, now that the team is an active participant in the search, the process can only improve.
The muffled ring of a cell phone had McGee and Tony look at Blair. Only then did he realize it was his phone ringing. Blair grabbed the device from his pocket with one hand while he brushed away the hair from his ear. He opened the cell phone, noticed the caller ID and smiled.
"Hi Simon," Blair remarked before giving the caller a chance to say anything. His grin turned flat as he listened and occasionally interrupted the police captain from Cascade. "Yeah, we are. --- Jim is -- No, Simon, really. I've got some friends," he continued as he looked at Tony and McGee, "here. One of their people -- Right -- Okay, Simon, I will. I'll let you know if anything changes...and Simon," he paused, "thanks. -- Good-bye."
Blair closed the phone and returned it to his pocket. "That was Simon Banks, Jim's boss in Cascade. He heard on the news about the explosion and figured, somehow, that Jim and I would somehow be mixed up in it. He wanted to come out and help, but..."
"...but you told him you had support and..." Tony blurted.
"Yes, we would handle it but would keep him in the loop. So...," Blair looked at McGee, "are you still getting the plans?"
"Plans? Plans! Right! The phone call, I, um, right, no excuse. Tony," McGee continued as he turned to DiNozzo, "I'm going to the command center to request those plans and research the rest. I'll be back..."
"Back in 30 minutes or less, Probie. There are two lives at risk here. It's been over 2 hours since the explosion." Tony rested his hand on McGee's shoulder. "I've seen you do more in less time. Now, move it!"
McGee smiled briefly in thanks for the unaccustomed support from the senior agent then left for the command center at the base of the Memorial.
"You know," Blair mentioned as he paced watching the SAR teamwork inside the Memorial, "Jim and I had a case that put us in tunnels created by the Masons, well, actually I believed the Illuminati at the time but--"
"Short version, Blair, please. McGee will be back soon," Tony butted in. "In fact, lets head down to the command center. McGee will have the info soon and we can head out and find the other end of the tunnel. Then..."
The two men stopped midway down the slope, turned and faced each other. Blair spoke what they both wanted to believe. "...then we'll find them, hold them and never let go."
Tony nodded. There could not be any other acceptable outcome.