ALTERNATE ENDING TO "THE INSIDE MAN"

BY: Lyn

FEEDBACK TO: townsend297@ozemail.com.au

DISCLAIMER: The characters of The Sentinel are the property of Di Meo, Bilson, Petfly and Paramount. This fanfic was written for my own and others’ enjoyment. No money has been paid and no copyright infringement is intended.

AUTHOR’S NOTES: I didn’t really like this episode, though Jim bare-chested was a definite plus. I never really saw the need for Blair in this episode. I mean, having him in there just to check out Jim’s senses, seemed like an afterthought. It would have been better to have him off on a dig somewhere or resting up in hospital after his latest run-in. Also, I couldn’t imagine Blair just sitting quietly through this last scene as guns are held on them, they’re threatened with death, a young boy gets hold of a gun and threatens Jim with it while his father yells at him to shoot. Where's Blair? Sitting back on the couch, just letting it all pass him by. So, here for your enjoyment (or not, maybe you liked the ep just the way it was) is my Alternate ending to "The Inside Man."

Jim growled deep in his throat as Vincent Lazar backhanded his wife across the face, sending her heavily to the ground. He stepped forward to intercept another blow aimed at the sobbing woman but his arms were grabbed by two of Lazar’s thugs and he was held back. Lazar turned on him quickly and sunk his fist into Jim’s stomach, then smashed it into his jaw, grinning when the detective grunted and buckled at the knees.

"Get him out of here," Lazar ordered his men.

Jim dimly felt himself hauled up by his arms and dragged from the room. Through the ringing in his ears, he heard Lazar’s threat to his wife. "First, we're going to deal with him and then you."

Michelle began to cry again and Jim struggled in the firm grip of the two men who held him fast. Another blow to his head stunned him into submission and he allowed himself to be led up the stairs to the room above the garage.

~o0o~

Blair looked up as he heard a commotion outside the door. He stood, as the door was flung open and a dazed looking Jim Ellison was pushed inside. Blair stepped forward quickly and steadied the detective as he wavered on his feet. A large bruise was darkening along Jim’s jaw and he clutched at his stomach with one hand.

" Hey, man. You all right?" Blair asked, keeping a hand on Jim’s shoulder, as he looked him over worriedly.

Jim nodded and worked his jaw experimentally. "Yeah, I'll live."

Blair looked over at the door as Domenic and Erika entered the room. He backed away slightly and held up both hands as his eyes took in the weapon in Domenic’s hands.

"I wouldn't count on it," Domenic said as he motioned the two men back. "Sit down." He pointed the gun at Jim. "What's your real name?"

" Jim. Jim Ellison."

Dominic waved the gun in Blair’s direction, and Blair couldn’t help flinching. "Is he a cop, too?"

Jim shook his head. "No. He's just a friend of mine helping me out."

Blair smiled weakly at the words despite his fear. He pressed himself a little closer to Jim’s side and allowed the sentinel’s warmth to soak into his chilled skin. He swallowed convulsively when Domenic spoke again.

" Well, that's unfortunate for him."

"You think you can get away with killing a cop?" Jim asked.

Dominic shrugged. "Experience tells me I can kill anybody I want to."

Erika added her opinion. "They can't prove anything if you're never found."

"Just like Jimmy Finetti."

Erika nodded and walked to stand on the other side of the couch. "That's right. Just like Jimmy Finetti."

Jim looked at her in surprise. "So it was you. What gave him away?"

"He fell in love...told me things he shouldn't have."

The door opened again and Vincent and Edward entered. Edward looked pale and frightened. He held back a little, tucked protectively against his father’s side. Blair wondered what had happened to Michelle and his heart skipped a beat when he thought of the very real possibility that Lazar had already killed her, perhaps in front of Edward.

" Edward doesn't need to be here for this," Domenic said.

Vincent shook his head and pushed his son further into the room. "This is what we're about, Dad. It's time he learned."

"He's still just a boy." Domenic argued.

"No. He's my son."

Blair tensed as he watched Domenic hand his gun to his Vincent. Domenic was crazy enough to do anything to protect himself and his family but Vincent was certifiable. Blair was sure the gangster enjoyed his work.

"Hey, tell me something, Erika. What did you pay those Asian guys to try and kill your father?"

Blair closed his eyes and shivered. He was sure the temperature in the room had dropped ten degrees with Jim’s words.

Vincent glared at the detective "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Oh, you didn't know this was an inside job? How else would they know what room at what time your father and son were playing video games together?" Jim looked at the old man. "Come on, Dominic, you must have known this wasn't your guys. Is that what you thought? It was your guys? What are you guys thinking around here?" Jim looked at Domenic’s daughter. "Poor Erika. It must be tough being the smartest one yet relegated to doing dishes and meals just because you're a woman."

Erika stepped forward then. "What is this, a joke?" she asked, but her voice shook.

Jim smiled grimly. "It's not a joke. We got pictures of you with them and you look great in profile."

Dominic’s eyes widened in horror as he looked at his daughter. "You did this?"

Erika backed away, shaking her head vehemently. "No. He's lying."

Jim shook his head. "No, I'm not."

Domenic’s voice sounded desperate, as he faced his daughter. "Why did you meet with them, then? Whoever paid them, I can trace the money. I can find out where it came from." He watched her face turn pale. "Damn it," he shouted. "Answer me!"

Erika looked at him pleadingly. "You couldn't even tell me about Vincent? I took care of you. I kept your secrets." She looked at Vincent then. "He's dying...and I was afraid he'd give up everything we had worked for."

Dominic shook his in seeming disbelief. "But... to kill me?"

"Not you," Erica whispered.

The old man’s eyes widened in shock. "Edward?"

Erika squared her jaw. "As long as Edward was alive, you'd keep nursing this dream that one day he would take over. It was for the family."

Vincent suddenly sprang into action. He walked quickly to his sister’s side and shoved the gun up into her solar plexus. Showing no emotion other than anger, he pulled the trigger. Erica gave a sharp, indrawn breath and then collapsed soundlessly to the ground. Blair felt his heart begin to pound painfully in his chest and suddenly there seemed to be no air left in the room. One hand found its way to the back of Jim’s shirt and he clutched at it tightly, willing himself to stay calm.

"No!" Domenic rushed to his dead daughter’s side and gathered her lifeless body into his arms.

Seeing his chance, Jim surged up from the sofa and threw himself at Vincent, knocking the gun from his hands. It skittered across the floor to land at Edward’s feet. Both men stood stock-still as Edward picked up the weapon and raised it with both hands, its barrel pointed straight at Jim Ellison’s chest.

Vincent was screaming frantically now. "Get it! Get the gun! Shoot him!" He pointed at Jim. "Shoot him!" he ordered his trembling son.

Dominic looked up from his grief-stricken rocking of his dead daughter. "No, Vincent. No. Stop now. It's enough. Stop, please!"

Vincent ignored his father. "Shoot him," he said again.

Vincent lowered his voice now and Blair slowly stood up from the sofa as all attention was focused on the boy. Though his heart beat frantically with fear, he began to step closer as he watched Vincent try to convince his son to murder a man. "Edward, listen to me. Do it now. Pull the trigger. Shoot him!"

Jim held his hands out from his sides, apparently unaware of Blair’s movements behind him. "You don't want to do this, Edward," he reasoned. "You don't want to hurt anybody."

Dominic rested his head on Erica’s still chest and wept. Edward’s eyes flickered rapidly from his father to Jim, the gun beginning to shake in his grip. Vincent shouted at the boy again. "Listen to me. Do it now. Pull the trigger. Shoot him!"

Jim straightened and began to walk slowly toward the frightened boy, one hand held out. "Come on, son," he said gently. "Give me the gun."

Vincent would not be beaten though. "Edward!" he ordered once more, his voice now low and deadly. "Shoot him!"

Edward brought the gun up again at Vincent’s order, his finger spasming on the trigger in a nervous reaction and Blair pushed himself forward in the hope of knocking the barrel away from its intended target. The gun’s explosion was deafening in his ears and he felt red-hot fire burn along his arm. Blair fell to his knees and watched as the weapon dropped from Edward’s suddenly listless fingers. Vincent shoved past them, sending Blair and Edward to the ground in a tangle of arms and legs and ran out the door. Blair struggled to his knees and picked up the gun in his good hand, his other arm throbbing in pain as a warm wetness spread down his sleeve.

Jim was already on his feet and halfway out the door. He turned briefly to shout an order to Blair, "Stay with ‘em," before taking off after Vincent Lazar. Blair nodded and leaned back against the edge of the sofa. He lifted the gun once more with his good hand and rested it on his knees, keeping it aimed squarely at the still sobbing Domenic. The anthropologist looked over to where Edward had curled himself into a ball on the floor, his shoulders shaking.

"Edward?" Blair called softly. "Come on, buddy. Look at me. Please?"

After a long moment, Edward lifted his tear-stained face. "I shot you. I’m sorry. I don’t want to go to prison."

Blair held out his arm and waved Edward over, trying to ignore the blood that dripped to the floor. "It’s all right. It was an accident. You’re not going to prison. Come on over here." Blair saw Domenic raise his head at his words and his fears were realized when the old man spoke.

"Edward? Come here to your grandfather. That’s a good boy."

Edward’s head swiveled toward his grandfather and then he slowly shook his head. As Blair sighed with relief, the boy scooted quickly over and snuggled up against Blair’s side. "I’m sorry," he whispered.

Blair nodded tiredly. "That’s okay. It’s going to be all right."

~o0o~

Blair looked up from his perch on a gurney in the back of one of the ambulances and watched as Jim walked over to Michelle. The young woman smiled up at the detective. "You all right?" she asked.

" Yeah. You?"

"Yeah."

Blair smiled and looked away as their lips met. It seemed right somehow to allow them a little privacy. "Ouch!" He grimaced and attempted to pull his arm away from the paramedic in front of him.

"Sorry, Mr. Sandburg., but I do have to clean the wound before I bandage it. If it’s too painful, we can transport you to the hospital and let them do it."

Blair looked down into the biggest pair of brown eyes he’d ever seen. "No, no, it’s fine," he answered, blushing. He held out his arm once more, gritting his teeth as a gauze swab trailed fire along the deep gash left by the bullet. "After all, it’s just a flesh wound."

The paramedic’s hand trailed gently along the edge of the deep gouge. "Still, I’m sure it’s very painful."

Blair shrugged. "Yeah, well, you know. In the line of duty and all that."

The girl nodded and began to pack away her things. Blair looked up again as the ambulance dipped and Jim stepped inside. The detective lowered himself down to sit on the bench next to the gurney. "You okay?" he asked, nodding toward the now bandaged arm.

Blair nodded. "Yeah. Yeah. I’m fine. Just a scratch. Right…" He lowered his head to squint at the paramedic’s name badge. .."Kelly?"

Kelly looked up from her packing of the first aid box and smiled at the men. "Well, it’s quite a bit deeper than a scratch, Mr. Sandburg and it’s going to be pretty painful for a while, but it should heal just fine in about a week."

"Blair." When the girl looked questioningly at him, the anthropologist patted his chest. "Please, call me Blair."

"Blair," Kelly obliged with a smile.

"We okay to go?" The other paramedic stood at the rear doors.

Kelly nodded. "All done here. Mr….Blair. Keep the wound dry. You can probably remove the bandage in about three days. If you notice any severe pain, redness or discharge, please see your doctor."

Blair nodded as he stood up. "Actually, I was wondering if you might be free…"

"Have you met my husband?" Kelly interrupted, indicating the other paramedic. "That’s Ken. Ken, this is Blair and Detective Ellison."

The paramedic nodded at Jim and ignored Blair entirely. "Yeah, we’ve met. How you doing, detective? Let’s go, Kelly."

Blair sighed in disappointment as Jim helped him to the ground and led him toward the patrol cars. "Just my luck," he muttered darkly.

"Yeah, I know the feeling, Chief," Jim commiserated. "Look, about earlier. When I took off after Lazar, I didn’t realize you’d been shot. If I had, I…"

"Would have gone after Lazar," Blair finished for him. "Jim, it’s okay. It was a stupid move on my part, anyway. But I had everything under control."

Jim reached out and cuffed the back of his head lightly. "Yeah, you did. You did good keeping Edward calm."

Blair grinned widely at the praise. "Thanks." He tilted his chin in Michelle’s direction. "So, you lucked out too, huh?"

Jim shrugged. "Maybe, maybe not. She’s leaving town, but we might get in touch later."

"That’s good," Blair answered as he climbed into the car. "So, you want to get a pizza, have a couple of beers, catch a game?"

Jim appeared to think it over. "Sure, why not," he answered finally. "I haven’t had any better offers."

FIN

-September 7th, 2001

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