"Jesus is the only card I have left to play, but with that Card, I'll win the game." - Travis Allen 1981-99, Class of 2000, Auburn Adventist Academy

Warning: Post TSbyBS, Blair is not a cop, references to the first Novations episode but it doesn't have anything to do with later episodes.

Apologies: for any similaries to 'Sounds of Silence' which is one of my favorite fanfics.

Note: This was originaly posted on SA for the MTHC in an unbeta'd form named Sensory, but even if you read that one, unless you really hated it, I'd suggest you read this one, because it is *so* much better now :P

//telephone conversation// thought emphasis writing

Special thanks you: Techgirl for her challenge, without it, this would still be one of my unfinished shower fanasies :P
All the people who helped me with band names and anti-rock 'n roll speeches.
My two lovely beta's, Lady Shelly and TAE. This fic wouldn't be what it is without them, especially Lady Shelly.
Susan for her help with medical and police procidures (of which I know nothing :P)
The person who gave me the title, but I can't remember her name :(
The Seattle Police department, who kindly answered my question about which department would handle a stalking case.

feedback welcome everywhere and anywhere

Senseless


Jim leaned back and relaxed, closing his eyes. He could feel each little wrinkle in the rough tree trunk behind him,+1 and each blade of grass beneath his hands.+1 Ah, vacation. It feels so good to take one, even if it's only one day off spent in the park. It's not that I don't like being a detective with Major Crimes, but sometimes I just need some down time. I don't think I could have admitted that before Blair came into my life. I was much too driven, never really relaxing.

Jim smiled as he allowed himself to feel the younger man's body heat along his right side, even though Blair was several inches away. Blair Sandburg, PHD, Official consultant to the Cascade Police department in Cascade WA. I never dreamed that's where we'd end up when I first met him. I'm glad he's finally getting paid for backing me up, he deserves it. Jim pictured the young man in his mind, bouncing on his toes, blue eyes twinkling, long, curly hair flying, as he expound on some subject or another. He makes me tired just watching him. All the more reason to enjoy my down time. Jim relaxed some more and felt a slight breeze caress his face, one that wouldn't have been noticed by anyone else.+1 Sometimes it's great to have these senses, though I'm loath to admit it to Sandburg.

Abandoning touch, Jim allowed his hearing to follow the breeze he had just noted, listening to it swish through the short grass,+1 then sweep across the pond, causing small waves that slapped the concrete piling on the far side+1. A heavier gust of wind rustled the leaves above his head, causing one to break free with a soft snap.+1 He followed its fluttering course till it landed with a soft plop+1 on Blair's hair, causing a cloud of herbal scented molecules to puff up and wash over his face.+1 Jim smiled at the scent, and then his nose was distracted by the smell of cotton candy and hot dogs. mmmmmm. He opened his mouth and sucked in a lungful, tasting the molecules of sugar and animal fat+1 that the cooking process had flung into the air. He broke the silence.

"Hey, Chief, let's get a hot dog."

He opened his eyes and allowed his sight to follow his nose. Nobody was waiting for a hot dog at the moment. He turned to look at the younger man, who hadn't answered. He was about to ask again when Blair opened his eyes.

"Sure, man. I could go for that."

Jim stood smoothly, then offered Blair a hand up. The two men strolled across the grassy area, avoiding dog walkers, joggers, children playing, frisbee throwers, and other people out enjoying the rare Cascade sunshine. Jim enjoyed the light breeze that teased around them, but Blair kept having to brush his long, chestnut hair out of his face. Jim smiled fondly at the sight. I have to admit I'd have missed that hair if he'd gone to the police academy and cut it. Between my straight-laced dad and the military, I've never had the desire to have long hair myself, not sure how it'd look with a widow's peak anyway. Jim ran a hand through his own short brown hair self-consciously, then forgot all about hair as they approached the hot dog stand.

After ordering and receiving their hot dogs, Jim looked longingly at the cotton candy stand. Blair laughed.

"Fine, fine. I can enjoy a treat once in a while too."

A huge grin split Jim's face and he headed for the stand, biting into his hot dog and letting the combined tastes of beef, sauerkraut, mustard, and onions explode across his tongue.+1 Definitely handy to have these senses.

Since Jim was obviously having a religious experience with his hot dog, Blair went ahead and bought the cotton candy and steered the thoroughly engrossed Sentinel back to the tree they had been seated under before.

Jim sat down without a word, popping the last bite of the hot dog in his mouth. He looked around with confusion.

"Weren't we going to buy cotton candy?" He sounded amazingly like a small kid who hadn't gotten a promised treat.

Blair laughed, and produced the bag.

"Right here. I think you were zoned on the hot dog," Blair said with a smile.

Jim snorted indignantly.

"I was not."

"Was too."

"Was not."

"Was too."

Jim abandoned the argument in favor of eating the spun sugar, pulling off a long strip and slowly melting it on his tongue.

He was even more focused on the sugar confection than he had been on the hot dog.

Blair leaned back on the tree, eating some of the fluffy pink stuff himself, happy that Jim seemed to be enjoying the senses that so often caused him frustration, and even pain.

After the cotton candy was gone, and Jim had studiously licked each finger, the two men again relaxed in the warm sunshine. Jim was happily listening to the rustle of leaves, the call of birds, and the laughter of children, when a new sound intruded on his private symphony. The loud beat of a rap song washed over him, coming from a car stopped at a nearby light. Jim frowned at the intrusion, but then he looked thoughtful. That beat seems familiar. He allowed his hearing to include a certain thumping from beside him. I'll be damned. The beat's a heart beat.-1 The intrusion no longer unwanted, Jim let the matching beats wash over him until the car moved out of range. Jim was just relaxing again when a sound triggered one of his mental alarms, bringing his hearing back up to catch the soft crying of a child. Frowning in concentration, Jim focused on the sound.

<< ~~Waaah!~~

"Hush, shhh. See, I got your boat back." >>

Jim relaxed, satisfied that the situation was under control.

Jim was concentrating so hard on the child that he failed to notice the woman who had stopped next to the tree, or the tiny whistle she brought to her lips. He still had his hearing on high when she blew a long, piercing blow on the dog whistle.

Jim thought his head had exploded.+1 The waves of pain flowing through him quickly overwhelmed him, and he slipped into unconsciousness without even time for a whimper. The young woman snapped a leash on the dog she had called and walked out of the park, never knowing the injury she had inadvertently caused.

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair, of course, didn't even hear the whistle, and he was unaware that there was a problem until Jim slumped against him.

"Jim?"

He turned toward the older man, and gasped when he realized he was unconscious.

"Jim! Oh, god!"

He quickly lay Jim down flat and checked his pulse. It was strong and steady, as was his breathing. Slightly less panicky, Blair began patting Jim's cheeks in an effort to wake him.

"Jim, man, anytime you want to wake up is fine with me."

He was about to pull out the cell phone and call 911 when Jim's eyes fluttered open. They immediately slammed shut again.

"Hurts. Blair?"

Blair set aside his own panic to deal with Jim. "I know it hurts. It's going to be OK."

"Blair?"

Jim waved his hand in the air, and Blair grabbed onto it. He used his other hand to touch Jim's cheek.

"I'm right here." Blair was starting to get worried again, but then Jim finally opened his eyes.

"That's better. Now, how are you feeling? Can you tell me what happened?"

Jim reached his free hand up to feel Blair's lips, a slight frown on his face.

"Jim, you're really starting to scare me here. What's wrong?"

Jim's breathing sped up and his eyes grew wide. His grip on Blair's hand increased, practically crushing it. His next words almost caused Blair's heart to stop.

"Chief, I can't hear."

Blair's mouth fell open.

"Oh, god."

Jim attempted to sit up, snapping Blair out of his shock.

"No, you need to stay down. We need to get you to the hospital. Let me call for an ambulance." Blair began to frantically dig through his backpack looking for the phone.

His efforts were stilled by Jim's hand.

"Slow down, Chief. If I know you, you're looking for the phone. Well, let me tell you right now, the hospital wouldn't be able to do anything. You didn't hear anything, did you?"

Blair mutely shook his head.

Jim nodded, as if he had known the answer. "I had my hearing wide open, and you didn't hear anything, so this was obviously Sentinel related."

The color drained from Blair's face as he realized that he would be in charge of fixing this problem. He began shaking his head in denial.

Hearing? He lost his hearing but I didn't hear anything. Ok. Calm down, breathe man. You can do this. This is not Golden, this is not some unknown drug doing who knows what to Jim's system. All right, bit of a panic. You have no clue what did this. Dealing with Golden was easier. Breathe. I am relaxed. Jim's gonna think I can't handle this, but what if I can't?

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair had tugged his hands free and now they waved excitedly through the air as he worked through his internal battle. Jim reached out and captured them again, trying to gain the younger man's attention, but he just kept debating with himself, the words running around in his head tumbling out. He didn't notice his own switch to verbal, or the fact that his hands had been stilled.

"Ok, think this through, now is not the time to panic, we can fix this. Right? OK." He started to organize the facts, ticking them off on his fingers. "He lost his hearing, but I didn't hear anything. He was enjoying his senses, everything turned up when, bang, it's gone. What could cause that? Is it permanent or temporary? What if I can't fix it? Don't go there man, think positive."

Jim released one of Blair's hands in order to catch his chin, forcing Blair to meet his gaze. He could feel the tickle of Blair's afternoon shadow, and the slight tremor that ran through the smaller frame. Jim released Blair's other hand and brought his hand up to cover Blair's mouth, effectively silencing him. Jim could feel little puffs of air on his palm as Blair panted, just short of hyperventilating. Blair stared at him, eyes wide. Jim found himself slipping into those vulnerable blue pools. He could see all the shades of blue that encompassed what looked like a solid color at first glance.+1 Blair blinking saved him from a zone and he smiled up at the pale face.

"I. Trust. You."

He felt Blair smile under his hand, and he slowly lowered both of his hands, returning them to grasping Blair's hands.

"You'll fix this..." At Blair's intended rebuff of that statement, Jim shushed him. "Or, you'll help me cope with it. Whatever happens, we'll work it out."

Jim felt the rush of air as Blair deflated. Shoulders drooping, hands stilling, Blair slumped down. Pulling from Jim's grasp, he dropped his head into his hands, then ran his fingers through his hair and raised his head to look Jim in the eye. He smiled wanly and mouthed exaggeratedly, "You OK?"

Jim smiled back. "Except for the rock band in my head, I'm doing fine."

Blair's eyes widened and he hit his head with his hand. "Man, the case! What are we going to do about work? There is no way you're going to fool Simon this time."

Jim scrubbed a hand down his face. "Later, Sandburg. Whatever you're worrying about at the moment can be dealt with later. Right now, I just want to go home and take a nap."

Blair straightened up. "Of course!" He jumped to a standing position, a bundle of energy once more. He reached down and helped pull Jim to a standing position, almost supporting his weight as Jim sagged against him.

Jim closed his eyes against the suddenly spinning world and let his head fall onto Blair's shoulder. He felt the silken curls and the thrum of Blair's pulse+1 beneath his cheek. He took a deep breath, smelling the cotton candy and hot dog like before, then letting the molecules into his mouth to taste them. He used his three cooperating senses to drown out the silence from his ears and the dizzying view his eyes presented. He was vaguely aware of moving, but trusted Blair to take care of him while he stayed in the safety of these sensations.

He was pulled back from his escape by a cessation of movement. He raised his head and tested his eyesight by opening his eyes slowly. The merry-go-round seemed to have left and he looked around. He was standing next to his truck. With a sigh, he dug out the keys and passed them silently to Blair. Blair grimaced in sympathy and helped the still unsteady Jim into the passenger side.

Jim lay his head back and closed his eyes again. Unthinking, he tried to listen to Blair run around to the other door, and was slightly shocked by the sudden awareness of the silence. Suddenly frightened, Jim popped his eyes open and located Blair climbing into the driver's seat. Blair gave him an encouraging smile and started the engine. Without the distraction of sound, Jim was made aware of how much the truck vibrated when running. As Blair pulled out into traffic, Jim noticed the odd vibrating sensation caused each time a car passed.+1

Jim was feeling slightly better by the time they reached the loft, and he managed to get out of the truck on this own before Blair could get around to assist him. Overly cautious because of his missing hearing, he looked both ways carefully before heading across the street, Blair hovering anxiously to one side.

"Relax, Sandburg. I'm not gonna break or fall apart. I just have a little headache."

Blair blushed, but continued to hover as they took the elevator up. When they reached the loft, Blair immediately headed for his room, while Jim headed for the bathroom for some aspirin. When he came back out, he found Blair waiting for him. Blair handed him a piece of paper.

We have some things to discuss, but you'll probably want to lay down for a while first.

Jim nodded. "I'll just go upstairs and take a nap." He grinned wickedly. "Go ahead and turn up the music while you can, it won't bother me."

Blair grinned back, happy for the return to normalcy of their joking. Jim squeezed his shoulder and headed up the stairs, lying down on the bed gratefully. He again tried to send out his hearing and was again met by the solid wall. With a sigh, Jim let himself relax into sleep.

* * * * * * * * * *

After Jim went up the stairs, Blair collapsed onto the couch.

I am not up to dealing with this. He looks at me with such trust, as if I have all the answers. I don't have a clue what to do here. I don't know what we're going to do about work either. Jim is not going to be happy about taking time off, and I don't know how we could begin to fool anybody with this. It was bad enough with the Golden, but at least he could hear what people were saying. Without hearing, how is he going to interact with people? Writing notes is kind of a give away.

With a sigh, Blair set about writing his thoughts down in order to share them with Jim.

Some time later, Jim tapping him on the shoulder startled him. He glanced up in surprise, then looked at the clock. "Oh, man. I've been sitting here for two hours." Jim just smiled and shrugged. Blair grinned sheepishly. "Oops." He handed his notes to Jim and sat patiently while the older man read through his concerns.

* * * * * * * * * *

As he took the piece of paper, Jim could fell the slight tremble of emotion that still coursed through the younger man. I have to be strong, not let this get to me. One of us panicking is enough. Not that Blair ever lets his panic interfere with getting things fixed. Jim smiled at that thought, then glanced at the paper with its neat list, pursuing it silently. He wanted his thoughts in order before talking it out with Blair.

Not sure, but I think we can probably find out with that memory trick you always make me do, and I pretend to hate doing.

Temporary. It has to be. No other options here.

Tell Simon.

Yes, definitely, but not any of the other guys, and least not yet.

That is the big question, but I'm afraid that one is entirely in your capable hands, 'cause I have no clue.

When he was finished, he looked up at Blair. "It might not be that bad. When I was in covert Ops, I learned to lip read." He grinned. "Useful for spy stuff. That will help me fool the guys. I don't want to tell them about this just yet. I'm hoping to get this licked before they notice. The lip reading should help, though I never thought I'd use that particular skill again, especially after my hearing came online and I could just listen to distant conversations."

Blair laughed, then grabbed the paper and pencil. Well, that will certainly be useful, but I still don't think we could fool everybody, and we're certainly going to have to tell Simon.

Jim leaned back with a sigh. Simon. He is not going to be happy. Yesterday, I knew things were bad as soon as Simon was polite, but babysitting wanna be rock stars didn't even cross my mind. It's too bad I can't take the case though. Being deaf would make dealing with a band so much easier. Jim almost laughed at that comment, but refrained as he thought back to the day before and the summons to Simon's office.

* * * * * * * * * *

"Jim, Blair, could I see you in my office, please?"

Jim shuddered It's always bad when Simon's polite.

He headed reluctantly toward his superior's office, Blair trailing along behind.

Simon smiled as the two men were seated. "Coffee, gentlemen?"

Jim smiled back weakly. Oh, yeah. Real bad.

After giving the two men coffee, Simon settled back in his chair. "This is a rather unusual case, and you don't have to take it. It's not really a Major Crimes case, but you were asked for specifically, and it would be good public relations."

Jim opened his mouth to turn down the assignment, but Simon held up a hand. "Hear me out before you refuse." Jim sighed and acquiesced.

Simon leaned back in his chair and began. "I don't know how much you know about the band, Tym-Panyk Attakk." He ignored Blair's grin and Jim's grimace. "They recently got 'discovered' and just cut their first record. In five days they are scheduled to give their first real concert. For the last week they've been receiving threatening letters. They finally came to the police when one of the members discovered she was being followed. Normally, the Crimes Against Persons Section would handle this case, but the Mayor is willing to indulge the band's whims. The city stands to make a fair amount of money from this concert and they don't want to lose the revenue."

Jim snorted to himself. Oh, yeah. That's our Mayor. Such concern for his citizens.

Simon didn't notice Jim's look as he continued speaking. "This made the Chief of Police a bit more receptive when Tym-Panyk Attakk requested a specific officer to take the case."

Jim almost groaned when he realized where this was leading. He dropped his head into his hands and moaned. "Why me?"

Simon grinned at his discomfort. "Actually, it's Sandburg's fault. One of their guitarists is a friend of his, and apparently, he's regaled them with tales of your expertise."

Jim let the groan out and turned to Blair accusingly. "In the future, Junior, I'd appreciate it if you would refrain from praising me in public. I don't need any 'special' work."

Blair just grinned and bounced a bit.

Jim turned back to Simon. "Fine, I'll take the case, but this is not going to interfere with my day off tomorrow.

Simon held up a hand. "No, problem. Crimes Against Persons has been working the case, and one more day won't hurt. They'll turn the case over to you the day after tomorrow."

* * * * * * * * * *

Yep, Simon is going to be pissed.

Jim was pulled from his thoughts by a touch on his arm. Blair looked at him questioningly.

Jim shrugged, then turned serious. "Ok, this may shock you, but I think I'm just going to tell Simon what's up and take the desk duty. After what happened with the Golden, there's no way I'm gonna try and muddle through a case. I think Simon's going to be ok with that, considering his reaction with the Golden, he's not going to have any problem pulling me on this one." He grinned suddenly. "It's not going to make the Mayor happy, and he'll take it out on Simon, but that's why Simon gets the big bucks.

Blair nodded. I'm glad you finally got some 'sense' into you.

Blair grinned wickedly at his pun, but Jim just groaned. "That was really bad." He became serious again. "You had any thoughts on how to fix this?"

Blair shrugged. I think this is similar to the Golden problem, an overload of your senses. First I have to find out what caused it, then it's probably just a wait and see problem, but I'll do some research.

Jim nodded. "Ok. Why don't we try that memory trick we've used before."

Blair stared at him in shock. You! Actually suggesting we use memory recall. Quick, what's the date? I need to record this historic moment.

Jim snorted. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's get going."

Blair frowned as he thought. Usually, I guide you through this verbally. Are you sure you can put yourself under?

Jim nodded seriously. "We've done this enough times that I think I can just imagine what you'd say, and follow your instructions."

Blair nodded reluctantly, the put a hand on Jim's knee to ground him. Jim closed his eyes and imagined Blair's voice in his head. ~~"Ok. Breathe deeply, let it out slowly..."~~

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim felt the warm sun on his face, felt the rough bark behind him. He again heard the child crying, and dismissed it as irrelevant to his current problem. He instead concentrated on the other sounds he had heard, but not processed the first time.

A dog barking excitedly.

A sharp voice raised in anger. "Fluffy! Get out of those flowerbeds! No digging! Fluffy!"

A large intake of breath.

A shrill whistle that flooded his head with agony.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim grabbed his head and gasped with pain. He felt a warm hand rubbing his arm, trying to divert his attention. A memory of a voice washed over him. ~~"It's just a memory, it can't hurt you."~~

Jim gradually got his breathing under control and the throbbing in his head faded to a dull ache. He cautiously opened his eyes and found Blair's anxious face hovering in front of him. He smiled weakly. "I think it was a dog whistle." He quickly relayed what he had learned.

Blair nodded. Sounds like it. Ok, I'll have to do some research on this.

Jim relaxed against the couch and smiled. "Ok, I think that's enough for now. So, what did we have planned for today?"

Blair laughed, glad for the tension release. Let's see, after 'hanging out in the park' we were supposed to 'coordinate cooking dinner' and then 'watch the Jag's game.'

Jim rubbed his hands together. "Still sounds like a good plan to me, let's get started with dinner."

Blair grinned. Well, I have this idea...

Jim swatted at Blair's head. "What the heck. I feel like living dangerously. What's the plan?"

Blair bounced slightly, writing furiously, then handed Jim the slip of paper. I thought we'd make tamale pie. Instead of individual tamales, you lay a cornbread crust, then pile the filling on top and bake it.

Jim smiled. "Sounds great. I'll make some Spanish rice to go with it."

The two moved in synch toward the kitchen.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim opened his eyes slowly, and tested his hearing. He sighed as he once again hit a wall of silence. Is this thing ever going to fix itself? I don't know how long I can live like this. He took a deep breath and smiled as he smelled breakfast. French toast. Sandburg's being nice to me. Deciding that laying about didn't accomplish anything, Jim rolled out of bed and headed for the shower.

When he was showered and dressed, Jim sat down to breakfast. In addition to the French toast, Blair had made him fresh orange juice and bacon. He must be buttering me up for some reason.

Breakfast was eaten in silence, and when they were done, Jim looked at Blair expectantly. "Well?"

Blair blushed. "Well, what?"

Jim looked stern, keeping his smile hidden. "Well, what do you want? Fresh orange juice and bacon, you must want something."

Blair shrugged, trying to appear calm.

At this point, Jim would normally have tuned into his heartbeat to see how nervous he was, but now he noticed a bit of sweat, and he could see Blair's pulse jumping on his temple.+1 Yep, definitely nervous.

Blair finally cleared his throat. "I, uh, made you a doctor's appointment for this morning."

Jim frowned. "I told you, it wouldn't do any good."

Blair held up his hand to forestall any more arguments. "I know, I know, but I just want to make sure there's no physical problem here. I don't want to be going into this blind."

Blair flinched as he realized what he had said; obviously thinking of the last time something like this happened.

Jim softened. "Ok, ok. I see your point. I'll go talk to the doctor, but if he doesn't find anything physical, I'm not sticking around for tests."

Blair deflated, relieved to win without too much trouble. "No problem, man. If he can't find anything, I won't press you for any more."

Jim nodded and they headed out the door. As they entered the elevator, Jim touched Blair's arm. "It will work out. It worked out last time, and I have faith in you."

Blair gave him a small smile.

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair spoke earnestly, dividing his attention between the road and Jim, turning slightly so Jim could see his lips. "Ok, so you were right, the doctor didn't find anything wrong."

Jim shrugged. "I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but it wasn't a contest to see who was right and who was wrong."

Blair nodded. "I know, I was just kinda hoping he would be able to help."

Jim reached over and touched Blair's shoulder. "I know, but I still have faith in you."

Blair gave a tight smile and didn't reply for a moment. "Remember to watch me for volume cues. You usually talk too loudly or too softly." He gave a sudden, half-hearted grin. "Let's go face the dragon man."

Jim laughed, and headed for the station for the 'telling of Simon'.

* * * * * * * * * *

As they exited the elevator, Jim felt the displaced air of someone approaching him from behind, then the rush of air as said person spoke. He turned and smiled. "Rafe, what was that? I wasn't paying attention."

Rafe laughed. "Woman on your mind? I just said good morning."

Jim laughed with him. "Sorry, no woman, and good morning to you, too."

Rafe headed for the break room and Jim and Blair headed for the Bullpen.

Jim found himself in the unusual position of trailing after Blair as they entered the Bullpen. He was very reluctant to face Simon, and felt remarkably like a small child that was about to be told that he couldn't go out and play. He had been surprised the night before at how easy it was to recapture the skill of reading lips, once the temptation of listening to the voice was gone. He had done some practicing with Blair, at first slowly, then working up to talking at normal speed. Blair had also helped him with facial cues when his volume was off, which was most of the time. After the Jag's game, they had watched more television, and Jim had practiced some more, becoming quite good at lip reading. However, all the practice in the world wouldn't let him hear someone behind him, nor the all-important sounds, such as gunfire, that would keep him safe on the job.

Blair touching his arm interrupted Jim's thoughts. "Simon wants us in his office."

Jim sighed, as he was reminded yet again how he couldn't function properly. He wouldn't have known about his superior's summons without Blair there to tell him. He followed Blair into Simon's office and shut the door, being careful to keep an eye on Simon in case he said anything. Simon didn't seem to notice the undue attention, and just plunged into his report. "Arania Cohen and Troy Spencer should be up shortly to brief you on the case, then you have a meeting with Tym-Panyk Attakk."

Jim opened his mouth to mention his slight problem, but Simon waved him off and continued speaking. "No, you agreed that if you got yesterday off, you would handle this one. The Chief is also happy. When he's happy, then I'm happy."

Jim had to smile at that, and then he turned to glare at Blair, just knowing that the younger man was going to make a smart remark.

Simon continued to talk. "Coffee, Jim?"

Jim was still looking at Blair, and missed Simon's question. Simon felt a cold shiver of Deja vu. "Jim?"

Jim turned back to Simon. "You gonna share that coffee, Simon?"

Simon frowned. "Jim, is there something I need to know?"

Jim froze as he realized he had missed a vital piece of the conversation when he had turned to Blair. He scrubbed a hand down his face, wondering how to share the latest disaster with his superior. He felt a warm hand squeeze his shoulder as Blair offered silent (in a very real way for Jim) support. Taking a deep breath, Jim plunged in. "Uh, Simon, you see, we uh, have a...slight problem. Gee, Ellison, that sounded intelligent.

Simon made an impatient sound. "Spit it out, man."

Jim took another deep breath and went for broke. "I'm deaf."

I didn't expect that. Simon's mouth dropped open. He closed and opened it several times before he managed to get a response out. "Say again?"

In spite of the situation, Blair managed a small smile at Simon's reaction. "Close your mouth, Simon. You're letting the flies in."

Simon snapped his mouth shut and pulled himself together. "There aren't any flies in my office, Sandburg!" His bark made Blair jump. Feeling slightly more in control, Simon turned back to Jim, who was snickering to himself. "You seem awfully aware for a deaf man."

Jim shrugged. "I learned to lip read in the Army. Blair helped me brush up on the technique last night."

Simon blinked. "Excuse me. I may not know a lot about reading lips, but it's not a skill you can just 'brush up' on."

Jim shrugged. "I know. I was always good at reading lips. When I learned to do it, my instructors were amazed at how well I picked it up. Personally, I didn't think too much about it, it just happened. Then, last night, it all just came back, like watching a video. We've run into this before, something about my senses allows me better recall then most people, so the skill was just there to use again.

Simon nodded, though he looked like he didn't completely understand. "So did you figure out why lip reading is so easy for you?"

Jim shrugged again. "Blair thinks it has to do with the way my brain processes sensory information. In order to handle the amount of input I receive, my brain processes things better, that and my vision lets me see the lips moving better, sometimes I can even see the person's tongue, and that information all goes into helping me figure out what people are saying. It's not 100%, but I can fill in the blanks."

Simon frowned. "So are you saying that you have a super brain to go with your super senses?

Jim blushed and then rubbed a hand across his face wearily, but didn't answer.

Simon looked critically at his men and noticed that they both looked exhausted. Now that he was more aware, he realized that Blair wasn't so much bouncing as fidgeting. He scrubbed a hand across his own face. It's going to be a long day. He leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms over his chest "This should be an interesting story."

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair gave a sigh of relief as they exited Simon's office. Well, the hard parts done, now all I have to do is produce the miracle that fixes Jim's hearing. It had taken an hour to tell Simon the whole story, and another hour to convince him that there was nothing medically to be done. He had finally let them go, reluctantly letting Jim go to his desk to work on paperwork.

Blair studied the man in front of him. He walked stiffly, as if waiting for something to jump out at him, and he still had a bit of trouble with his balance, listing to one side or the other occasionally. His balance was greatly improved from the day before, as he had regained his equilibrium, but he still had a way to go before he was totally comfortable.

Blair smacked a fist into the palm of his other hand in sudden anger. I don't want him to get comfortable! I want to fix it! He was struck with a sudden idea. Lisa! Why didn't I think of her before? She knows about all sorts of groups that help people cope with hearing loss. Of course, after the Gibeson case last year she sorta had to. Blair shuddered in memory. I'm just glad nobody was killed in that explosion. Now, there's got to be info about temporary deafness, and she'll be the perfect person to talk...

Blair's trail of thought ended abruptly as he ran into Jim's desk, where the owner of said desk had just seated himself. He glanced around in surprise, wondering how he had managed to get this far without thinking about it and not run into anything else. With a mental shrug, his attention returned to the man in front of him.

Jim was sitting at his desk, slightly slouched, as he gazed at the pile of paperwork with an expression of comical dismay. Blair smiled at the sight, but his smile turned to a frown as he noticed the fine pain lines around Jim's eyes. He reached out and touched him on the shoulder to get his attention. "You sure you're OK Jim?"

Jim smiled back at him weakly. "Just a little headache that's been with me all day. I'll be fine, really."

Blair nodded reluctantly, not really believing him, but the chance of finding answers was calling him to Records and Lisa. With a last doubtful glance, he headed for the elevator as Jim opened the first folder with such a look of dread that Blair just had to laugh.

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair bounced off the elevator; pleased with the info he'd gotten from Lisa. He wasn't sure how all of it fit, but he was sure that somewhere in the mountain of info Lisa had dumped on him was the answer; he just had to clear his head and organize the facts to find it. Yeah, process, I'm good at processing. His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of wheezing and coughing. With a sinking feeling he raced toward the Bullpen doors, skidding to a stop at the sight of his partner doubled over in distress. The source of distress became obvious as he approached his partner and the young woman that was hovering over him. Even I can smell the perfume that woman is swimming in. Her proximity to Jim isn't helping matters. I've got to get Jim out of here, and away from her. I'll smooth feathers with Simon later if she's important.

Blair hustled the girl, away from his partner and out the door, then turned back to the oblivious detective. What do I do now? Normally I can calm Jim down from a spike just by talking, but without sound, how do I reach him? Jim's got his eyes shut, no help there. He spiked on smell, so that one's out. Blair suddenly smirked, in spite of the situation. I don't think kissing him is an option. Unfortunately, that only leaves me one sense to work with. I hope it's enough; then I can get him out of here. The other detectives will take care of Arthur and the stalking case, and Simon already gave me permission to pull Jim out of here if he started having problems.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim sat staring at the computer screen, watching the words blur and run together. He finally gave up, gently laying his head down on his desk and closing his eyes. He'd still had a pounding headache that morning, and it had just gotten worse as the day progressed.

Blair had been gone for an hour, and in that time Brown had tried to show off his new watch, Rafe had asked for info on a home invasion case, Rhonda had wanted some papers signed, Joel had wanted to tell him the latest exploits of his granddaughter, and someone from forensics had come up to berate him about his handwriting and demand he interpret the 'scrawl'. He kept missing parts of conversations, before he was aware he was being spoken to. Between trying to guess what he'd missed, trying to keep track of what was currently being said, and trying to figure out from people's expressions how bad his volume was, the pounding in his head had grown exponentially.

To make matters worse, as his control eroded, his sense of smell had started slipping, adding perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants, and a myriad of other overpowering smells to the problem. Although he didn't normally like to leave work early, today he wanted nothing more than to go home and crawl into bed.

His thoughts were interrupted by the displacement of air that Jim recognized as the approach of a body.+1 Not wanting to open his eyes, Jim took a deep breath to see if he could identify whoever wanted his attention. An overpowering, cheap, sickly sweet perfume washed over him, and he started wheezing and coughing. His eyes were streaming and the pain in his head had flared to stabbing intensity. He was in hell.

Gentle hands massaging his shoulders rescued him. He imagined Blair's voice telling him to breathe. Slowly, he brought himself under control, being careful not to breathe deeply again. He tested opening his eyes, but quickly shut them with a soft moan as the bright light stabbed them. He kept his eyes shut as the hands guided him up. There was a pause that Jim assumed was Blair telling the perfume factory they needed to check on something, or some other similar excuse. He was then guided forward. After a moment, they stopped again, and Jim guessed they were at the elevator. His guess was confirmed as the opening doors displaced a rush of air, and Jim was led forward again. The silence in the elevator was stifling, and Jim wished desperately to hear something, anything.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim leaned back and allowed the safety and peace in the truck to relax him. He could feel the vibrations of the engine and the thrum of the tires on the road. Very soothing. No wonder car rides put babies to sleep. Jim allowed himself to drift, almost falling asleep himself. With hearing gone and his eyes shut, he found it very easy to drift off. He only had three senses left to anchor him, and taste could hardly be counted. His headache was beginning to dissipate and soon he was feeling much better. He was drawn out of his private little world by a hand on his shoulder. He glanced over at Blair and smiled, surprised to find that his vision had settled down to normal. They headed to the loft in silence. Jim found the silence disturbing, especially since he was used to Blair's endless chatter, and he found he missed it.

Jim looked toward his bed when they entered the loft, but decided that now that he was actually home, he didn't feel like taking a nap after all. Instead, he headed for the couch, and sat down with a sigh. He picked up the remote, staring at it as he let it play through his hands. He traced the outline of the buttons, determining which ones were used the most by the amount of body oil deposited on them,+1 then set it down with another sigh. Watching TV without sound was no fun, as he could only 'hear' half the conversations with lip reading, and none of the background sounds. He idly wondered if the TV had closed caption, but decided he didn't want to watch TV anyway.

A hand descending on his shoulder startled him, and he looked up to see Blair peering anxiously at him. He smiled. "I'm fine, just wondering what to do with myself."

Blair settled himself on the other couch. "You're sure you're feeling all right? No leftover headache?"

Jim shook his head. "No, actually, I feel better now than I have since it happened." Not wanting to discuss his health or the incident at the park anymore, he changed the subject. "Who was that woman anyway?"

Blair laughed. "I have no clue, man, but she needs some serious help with applying perfume. She even made me gag. I hope she wasn't anybody too important though. I kinda sent her packing."

Jim shrugged. "Don't worry about it. Simon will smooth any ruffled feathers."

Jim took a deep, cleansing breath, reveling in the absence of scents. Blair was very careful to keep the loft a refuge of sentinel-safe sensations, and here in his own little kingdom, there were no harsh scents to burn his nose. He breathed deeper and smiled. "Hey, Chief, how does barbeque sound? Somebody down the street is grilling trout, and it smells delicious."

Blair grinned and bounced up. "Great idea. I'll just run down to the market and pick up some trout. How do Shish kabobs sound? I can get some veggies and grill them at the same time as the trout."

Jim nodded. "Sounds delicious. I think we have the fixings for coleslaw too. I'll mix it up while you're at the market." He got to his feet as Blair bounced happily out the door.

Jim hummed happily as he moved about the kitchen. He found cooking very relaxing and was happy to be able to do it now. As he shredded the cabbage for the salad, he recalled one of the 'dinners' he had attended as a child. His father had been invited for a formal dinner at the house of a business associate, and of course he had brought his sons to show off. He and Steven had been required to eat everything on their plates, and Jim had thought he was going to throw up before he could get down all of the coleslaw he had been served. The stuff had been almost half crushed pineapple, and Jim had despised it. It had taken a long time for Sally to coax him to try coleslaw after that, but once she finally did, he found he rather liked the stuff, so long as pineapple wasn't added.

The cabbage shredded, Jim went about mixing the sauce from scratch, just like he used to help Sally do. His father probably would have been horrified to find out his 'manly' son liked to help out in the kitchen, but Sally had never told on him, and allowed him to help with the cooking whenever his father wasn't around.

When the salad was done, Jim stepped out on the balcony to get the barbeque ready for Blair's return. After checking the fuel level, he gazed out at the bay, watching the sailboats that dotted the blue water. It was another beautiful day, and Jim wondered absently how long the good weather would last. He sniffed carefully, but could detect no hint of rain in the air. The weather should hold for a few days.+1

On impulse, Jim opened his mouth and sucked in a lungful of air. He smiled. What'd'ya know, I can taste the ocean.+1 Grinning broadly, he watched Blair's Volvo come down the street. Jim started the propane burner to warm it up. A few minutes later, he felt a rush of displaced air as the door to the loft was opened, and he turned to help his partner bring in the supplies.

Grinning happily, Jim started pulling things out of the bag. "What do you want to do, prep the fish, or chop the veggies?"

Blair looked thoughtful, as if pondering a deep question. "I guess I'll take the veggies. You being a steak and potatoes guy, you would probably mess them up."

Jim laughed, and swatted the younger man on the head before getting together the supplies needed for basting the fish. "That's ok, I don't trust you to cook meat correctly anyway. Now, if it were grubs..." Jim escaped retribution by taking his basting sauce and the trout out to the balcony to begin grilling, leaving Blair with his vegetables.

Shortly, Blair joined him with several long shish kabobs, which he placed on the grill next to the sizzling trout. Jim inhaled the mouth-watering aromas, both smelling and tasting the food. We should do this more often.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim leaned back with a groan, plucking the last plump carrot from his skewer and slowly chewed, letting the almost sweet taste fill his mouth. "Mmm. That was superb. We do that too often, I'll get fat."

Blair laughed, then leaned back and patted his stomach. "Oh, man. I know what you mean. That was first rate stuff."

Jim was silent, enjoying the feeling of being full of good food.

Jim glanced over at Blair in time to see him close his eyes with a sigh. The younger man looked like he was going to fall asleep.

Jim inhaled deeply, letting the smells of their cooking wash over him, causing his saliva to start flowing, even as his stomach protested the thought of more food. Since he didn't fancy a late afternoon nap, Jim decided Blair wasn't going to get one either. "Hey, Chief, tell me more about Tym-Panyk Attakk."

Blair's eyes opened slowly and he blinked sleepily. "Not much to tell."

Jim grinned. "Sure, Chief. With you, it's never a long story."

Blair glared.

Jim ignored him and settled back to 'listen.'

After a moment with no response, Blair dropped the glare and continued. "It was my second year of college, and I was starting to get in the groove of things. There was this kid in one of my classes named Arthur. He used to annoy the teacher by bringing his guitar to class. He'd sit there and pluck it during the lecture. He wasn't a bad student, and he really did try, but he just didn't get it. The teacher pulled him aside and suggested he see a tutor. She gave him my name. He was so not into having a snot-nosed kid tell him what to do."

Jim frowned at the implied slur, but Blair just shrugged. "He was desperate enough to look me up, and after some initial distrust, we became really good friends."

Blair smiled and settled back into his memories. "I helped him through a lot of classes, and he introduced me to his band. He and Aaron are the guitarists, Patty plays a mean set of drums, Hyacinth's on the electric keyboard, and Tamara, oh Tamara, can that girl sing. Too bad she's already taken by Aaron," Blair sighed. Jim smirked, causing Blair to blush. "Oh, and I almost forgot Cindy, Arthur's kid sister. She was only six when I met them, and not really an official part of band, more a mascot. She was always showing up at their practices, harmonica in hand," Blair laughed. "Only time I've seen grunge played on a harmonica."

Jim looked puzzled. "What's with the name? Tym-Panyk Attakk doesn't sound like a grunge band."

Blair laughed again. "The group's really into reworking classical pieces into grunge, and we thought the name was a 'wicked' play on words."

Jim mock shuddered. "That sounds like fascinating music."

Blair shrugged. "Hey, man, you know what they say, 'to each their own.'"

Jim smiled and the conversation lagged.

Blair's eyes slid to half-mast and his head kept jerking as he tried to stay awake. Deciding that maybe an afternoon nap wouldn't be such a bad idea after all, Jim broke the silence. "Hey, Chief, I think I'm gonna take a nap after all. Why don't you turn in, too?"

Blair's head snapped up, eyes blinking rapidly as he mumbled something.

Jim laughed. "I can't read your lips when you mumble, but I'm guessing it was either 'I'm awake', or 'I'm not tired'."

Blair glared for a few moments, the effect rather comical with his already sleepy features, then gave it up with a shrug. He rose clumsily from the couch and wandered into his room. Jim felt the floor tremble when Blair collapsed into bed and he laughed again.+1 He rose from his own position on the couch and went to check on his wayward Guide.

He stood in the doorway for a moment and watched the younger man sleep. Blair had sprawled across the bed, limbs askew, hair in a wild tangle across the pillow and his face. Jim could see the slow rise and fall of Blair's chest as he breathed, stirring the hair that cascaded across his face. He hadn't even bothered to get undressed.

Jim smiled, then moved into the room. He pulled off Blair's shoes, then pulled the covers over the sleeping man and brushed the hair from his face. His smile grew wider when he felt Blair sigh and turn his head toward his hand. Jim paused for a moment, feeling the pulse that represented the heartbeat he couldn't hear,+1 then he slipped out and headed for his own room.

He glanced at the clock as he undressed and was surprised to see it was already 5 o'clock. He set his internal alarm to wake him in two hours, then slipped into bed and sleep.

* * * * * * * * * *

When Jim awoke two and a half hours later, he had a little talk with his body about sleeping in, and then absently tried to hear if Blair was up. At the continued wall of silence, he slammed his hand onto his pillow in frustration. He shoved himself out of bed with a growl and headed down to cook dinner.

Before he started, he looked in on Blair and found the younger man still sleeping, cocooned in the covers so that only his hair showed. Shaking his head in amusement, Jim headed for the kitchen. He paused in front of the stove as he pondered what to have.

After the late, and large, lunch, he really didn't feel all that hungry and so wanted something light. Deciding that soup would be good, he started gathering the supplies. Just as he was about to put everything together to heat, he felt a rush of air as Blair opened the French doors. He glanced up. "Hey, Chief. I was just making some soup for dinner."

Blair smiled brightly. "Great, man. There's some leftover Spanish rice in the fridge, why don't we throw that in?"

Jim nodded. "That sounds good."

The two didn't talk any more and after dinner they both settled down in companionable, if unwanted, silence to read. Despite the afternoon naps, they both headed off to bed early, falling asleep quickly.

* * * * * * * * * *

The next morning Jim rose first, making eggs and coffee for breakfast. He smiled as Blair wandered out of his room rubbing the sleep from his eyes and shoving his tangled hair out of his face. "Hey man."

Jim smiled. "Can you drop me off at the station before you go to class?"

Blair nodded. "Sure. I'm sorry I have to teach class today, you gonna be ok on your own?"

Jim nodded. "I can work on my paperwork, update Simon, maybe do some office work on some cases."

Blair glanced at him sharply. "You sure you're good to go in?"

Jim nodded. "No more headache. I feel fine, really."

Blair still looked unsure. "Well, all right, but you gotta promise to stay away from women with too much perfume."

Jim laughed. "No problems there, Chief."

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair dropped Jim off in front of the main door, and Jim headed for the elevator. He was surprised at how tense he was without Blair by his side. He found himself jumping at every little air current and vibration he felt. He berated himself for his unsettledness, and tried to act normal as he entered the Bullpen.

He managed to get to his desk without giving anything away. He was getting really good at determining who was approaching and what they intended just by the air currents they created,+1 and what they smelled like. It was actually kind of cool, not that he wanted it to stay that way.

He stared dolefully at his inbox, but since he really couldn't do anything else he started working on his paperwork.

An undeterminable time later he felt someone approach. Glad for the distraction, he glanced up. He blinked, and his first thought was, Sandburg's not here. Fortunately, he managed to keep the comment to himself as he gazed at the young man before him. His mind automatically cataloged the loose, bleached jeans, Metallica T-shirt, baggy, faded flannel shirt and; he blinked again as he came to the hair. Well, at least Sandburg never did that. The bleached blond hair had been streaked with blue, but despite the rather interesting color, Jim noted that it was clean and well cared for. The whole assessment took place between the moment Jim raised his head and the moment the kid opened his mouth. "Hey, man."

Jim wasn't sure how to respond. He even talks like Sandburg.

After the bright cheerful greeting, the kid dropped into the chair that Blair usually occupied, making himself right at home. Jim opened his mouth, still unsure what he was going to say, but the young man didn't wait for a response. "You must be Jim. I'm Arthur Wicks."

Jim thought frantically. Arthur, Arthur, that name sounds familiar. Where have I heard it?

The kid didn't seem to notice Jim's confusion; he just kept rolling. "I'm so glad you're on the case. Blair talks about you all the time, and I know Blair's a great judge of character. If he says you're good, that's good enough for me."

Jim finally caught up with the younger man's spiel. Oh, that Arthur.

Arthur just kept going. "I figure being famous is worth something and that includes getting the best help for my friends."

The kid finally paused for breath and Jim got his mind in gear enough to respond. "But, I'm not..."

His objection was overridden with enthusiasm. "So, I just thought I'd drop by and give you an update. Tamara's terribly shook up about being followed, and now Patty thinks she's being followed too. So far nothing's happened, but the tension is just killing us. It's not doing much for the quality of our music either."

Jim finally managed to get a complete sentence out. "But, I'm not on the case."

The crestfallen expression that appeared reminded Jim of a little kid told he wasn't going to get a promised treat. "Oh, well, oh."

What has Sandburg been telling these kids? Jim tried to smile reassuringly. "I'm sure the detective assigned to the case will do a good job."

Arthur nodded, and tried to smile. "Uh, do you know who that would be?"

Jim shook his head. "Sorry, I don't know who the case was assigned to. Why don't you talk to Captain Banks about it? His office is over there." Jim pointed across the Bullpen.

Arthur nodded again and rose. "Well, thanks anyway. Nice to finally meet you."

He quickly turned and left before Jim could respond. I am going to have to have a talk with Sandburg about singing my praises. That poor kid acted like none of the other detectives were good for anything but backing me up.

He watched Arthur bounce across the Bullpen and knock sharply on Simon's door. He grinned at the look of annoyance that flashed over his captain's face, and quickly ducked his head down, returning to his half-hearted attempts at doing the paperwork.

* * * * * * * * * *

Simon glanced out his window with annoyance at the man who had inflicted him with this. He noticed Jim duck his head back down, and was slightly satisfied. Pasting a smile on his face he turned back to the bubbling, enthusiastic young man before him. "I'm sure your insights would be quite useful on the case, but it would be better if you told them to the detectives in charge."

The kid blinked rapidly. "Oh. Yeah. That's what Jim said." Simon opened his mouth to reply to that, but the kid just kept talking. "Why isn't Jim in charge of the case? I specifically asked for him."

This time the young man waited for an answer. Simon thought frantically, then decided that a partial truth was best. "He's on medical light duty at the moment."

The kid nodded, head bobbing rapidly. "Oh, yes, of course. I understand, but couldn't he, well, help... with the case? Maybe as, kinda, a consultant, or something? It would make Patty and Tamara feel so much better and..."

Simon chose that moment to interrupt. "I'll discuss the possibility with everyone involved. Now, why don't you discuss your theories with Detectives Rafe and Brown, who are in charge of your case."

Arthur nodded again and bounced out of his chair. "Yeah, man. Good idea."

He was out the door before Simon could offer a description of the two men, or tell him where to find them. So, Arthur wants Jim on the case. Well, I guess I'll ask Jim if he's up to it before I make my final decision. If he's up to it, I'll check with Rafe and Brown to make sure they understand I don't think they can't handle the case. Decision made, Simon strolled back out into the Bullpen, headed for where Jim still sat at his desk.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim's humor at Simon's expense was short-lived as he viewed the paperwork piled on his desk. I hate paperwork. On the other hand, I'm glad I'm not Simon at the moment. Jim grinned at the thought of Simon dealing with Arthur, who was more hyper than Blair had ever been.

As much as he hated paperwork, Jim was still startled out of his concentration by Simon's approach, having finally gotten into the dreaded task. He glanced up with a grin. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Henry and Rafe's pained looks as they tried to converse with Arthur, who apparently wasn't letting them get a word in edgewise. His grin growing wider at the sight, he turned his full attention back to Simon. "So, how was your first visit with the energizer bunny?"

Simon mock grimaced, then smiled. "And I thought Sandburg was bad."

Jim's smile widened. "Well, I'm sure you didn't come out here just to complain. What's on your mind?"

Simon nodded. "Yes, can I see you in my office for a moment? I just remembered something I have to discuss with you."

Jim raised his eyebrows, but obediently followed Simon into his office.

Once they were both seated, Simon continued. "I had a lovely talk with our friend Arthur." Jim grinned at Simon's distaste. "He was rather insistent about you being on the case, and suggested that, if nothing else, you consult with Rafe and Brown about it."

Jim nodded. "It would be better than doing paperwork, and I know it would make Blair feel better, and if Arthur's any indication, it would probably make the band feel better too."

Simon nodded. "Then it's settled. You'll help out on the case, but only in an advisory capacity." Simon put on a stern face. "No running out into the field after clues."

Jim pasted an innocent expression on his face. "Who, me?"

Simon just growled. "Because of your 'problem' yesterday's meeting with the detectives on the Wicks' case was delayed. We rescheduled for half an hour from now, and you can join in."

Jim nodded and left Simon to his own paperwork.

* * * * * * * * * *

Arthur glanced up from his discussion to see Jim leaving the captain's office. He grinned. Must have asked Jim to work on the case. That will make everybody feel better. He turned back to the two detectives, still explaining his theories. In his enthusiasm, he failed to notice their longsuffering looks.

* * * * * * * * * *

With a shrug, Simon turned back to the report he was reviewing, only to be interrupted once again, this time by his phone. "Banks!" He put all his annoyance into his barked greeting, hoping to scare off anyone without something important to say. No such luck.

//"Hey, Simon."//

He groaned silently as he recognized the cheerful voice. "What do you want, Sandburg?"

//"Um, I just wanted to apologize about yesterday. I hope I didn't upset anybody by sending that girl off.//

Simon could hear the anxious embarrassment in the younger man's voice, and he laughed. "Actually, you did a good thing, Sandburg."

//"Huh?"// The puzzlement was clear in Blair's voice.

Simon continued to smile as he replied. "She was a reporter for some hot teen magazine, wanted the inside scoop on the stalker case, since Tym-Panyk Attakk is popular with the readers of her magazine. I have no clue how she got into the Bullpen, but I'm grateful you kicked her out."

Blair laughed in relief. //"Well, it's good to know I actually did something right for a change. That wasn't the only reason I called though...// Blair hesitated, then spoke in a quieter tone. //I'm sorry to have to ask you this, sir, but I can't call Jim, and no one else knows and..."//

Sighing at the reminder of why Jim was on 'light medical duty', Simon replied, "Get to the point, Sandburg."

//"Oh, sorry. I just need you to ask Jim when he wants me to pick him up. We forgot to discuss it. And,"// Blair hesitated, //"How's he doing, really?"//

Touched by Blair's concern, Simon looked out at Jim, sitting at his desk. Jim looks tired and still a little stressed out, but if I tell Blair that, he'll probably drop everything to come over here. I'll just have to remedy Jim's condition. "He looks fine, and I'll be right back with the time to pick him up." He set the phone down and headed out to check on his detective.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim was surprised when Simon showed up at his desk since he had just been in the Captain's office. "Something else you wanted, sir? Nothing's wrong is it?"

Simon waved his hand to dispel any fears and tried to look stern, but his eyes still twinkled. "I am but the lowly messenger, oh Great Detective. Your chauffeur wishes to know what time the master would like to be picked up."

When Simon stopped talking, Jim let loose and bent over with laughter. When he finally got himself under control, he looked at Simon. "Thanks, sir. I needed that. Tell Blair anytime between 5 and 6 is fine."

"Your wish is my command, oh master," Simon said with a silly grin and started to walk back to his office, but was stopped by Jim's voice. "Sir, shouldn't Blair be at this meeting?"

Simon turned, "You're right, he should, sometimes I forget he's not an observer anymore."

Jim responded with a grin, "And he can't use school as an excuse. He had class this morning, but that should be over. I think he was just grading papers the rest of the day, and wanted to do it in his office in case any students wanted to see him. You'll have to double check with him though."

Simon sighed dramatically. "Once again, I must be at the beck and call of the Great Detective. Your wish is my command."

Jim stared laughing again as Simon beat a hasty retreat, leaving the rest of the Bullpen staring at the hysterical Sentinel.

* * * * * * * * * *

Simon stepped back into his office, pleased to have lightened Jim's mood. The younger man had been looking a little ragged around the edges, and Simon was a firm believer, contrary to popular opinion, in the healing power of laughter. He also wanted good news to relay to his official police consultant. Convincing the brass to give Blair that title still made him feel proud. He smiled as he picked up the phone receiver. "Blair? Jim's doing fine, and he said anytime between 5 and 6 would work for him. However, if you can get free, we're having a meeting with the Crimes Against Persons detectives to go over the case. It would be good if you could be there, as an official consultant."

He could hear the grin in Blair's voice. //"Sir, yes, sir! I would gladly miss the useless, and probably boring, departmental meeting I have scheduled for this afternoon. I can get the minutes from somebody later, and I'll never know I missed it. Oh, and thanks for checking on Jim, I'm glad he's doing ok."//

Simon nodded decisively. "No problem, and I'll see you in a bit.

Blair hung up without replying. Simon shrugged, and hung up the phone. The younger man had sounded a bit distracted. Probably had someone waiting for his attention, and now he has to get everything wrapped up so he can leave. Abandoning speculation, Simon went back to his paperwork, trying to get something done before the meeting.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim settled back in the conference room chair, waiting for the rest of the group to arrive. Simon had informed him that Blair hadn't had any problems getting free for the rest of the afternoon, and in fact, he had thanked Simon profusely for being able to use his official position at the PD to get him out of a useless, and probably boring, departmental meeting. That position certainly made things easier than in the observer days.

Jim's head came up as a rush of air signaled the door opening. He nodded to Rafe and H., his nostrils flaring as he categorized their scent. Ever since he'd lost his hearing, he'd been using scent as a second sense to categorized people.+1 It helped him keep track of his environment. Simon joined the group, and then Blair breezed in with the Crimes Against Persons detectives on his heels.

Jim studied the two detectives while he waited for the meeting to start. The female clearly had some Asian heritage, with sleek black hair cut short and small almond eyes, but her impressive six-foot frame spoke of other bloodlines. The man who followed her, on the other hand, was shorter than Sandburg, around 5'6" with blond hair that brushed his collar. He appeared rather shy and nervous, fidgeting and looking to the woman for a lead. Both detectives appeared to be in their late 30's.

Simon calling the meeting to order stopped Jim's appraisal. "Detectives Cohen and Spencer are here to tell you what they've managed to gather so far." Simon pointed at each one as he mentioned them.

Cohen took the lead, tucking her short black hair behind her ears as she stood. Spencer stood too, handing out copies of a sketch artist's picture as Cohen talked. "We've only had the case for a week so this is mostly background stuff. We've done thorough backgrounds on all the band members and didn't come up with anything suspicious." Cohen glanced at her notes, long fingernails tapping the paper. "Tamara gave us a fairly good description of the man following her, as you can see by the sketch." She paused as they all looked at the piece of paper.

Jim studied the man before him. He had that bleached blond hair that was popular with the younger set. He also had small eyes almost hidden under bushy black eyebrows which gave a clue to his real hair color. His nose was quite large and prominent, and his mouth was small, with thin lips.

Spencer then handed out sheets of paper stapled together. Cohen continued with her explanation. "These are copies of the threatening letters the group had gotten. They all say similar things about how Tym-Panyk Attakk is playing 'immoral' music and 'desecrating' the classical music they are 'supposedly' inspired by. The letters themselves contained no clues, all were written by using cutouts from magazines pasted on cheap computer paper, and delivered in standard envelopes. They were all mailed from the Central post office downtown." She paused a moment to let them look over the collection of notes.

Jim could actually feel Blair bristle beside him-1 as he read the threats. He placed a hand on the younger man's knee and felt him relax.

* * * * * * * * * *

After the conference, Blair followed Jim to his desk, ignoring his own that had come with his official hiring, and the two poured over the stacks of background info that had been gathered on the group. Blair laughed when he found a section on himself, as a close acquaintance. "My, they certainly were thorough." His face grew serious. "I know they're in good hands with you guys."

Jim laughed nervously, a bit embarrassed. "We're not an insurance company."

This caused Blair to burst out laughing, dispelling some of the tension. He suddenly lowered his voice and leaned closer, although the second action was unneeded whether Jim could hear or not. "I talked with Arthur today. We crossed paths when he was leaving the station, and I was coming in. He is determined not to let this get to him, so we're having a jam session tonight. They want to loosen up before the concert. Wanna come?"

Jim looked into those wide innocent eyes. "I'll think about it." He quickly changed the subject. "You want to get out of here early and go out to dinner tonight?"

Blair took the conversation sidestepping in stride. There's always later, tough guy. Not letting his thoughts show, he smiled broadly. "Sounds great, you paying?"

Jim grinned back, happy with successfully re-directing the conversation, even though he knew the subject wasn't closed. "Only if I pick the restaurant, but I'm feeling generous, no Wonder Burger."

Blair laughed and punched him in the arm before turning back to pursuing the piles of information looking for that one elusive clue.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim gazed at his destination for the evening. Batcheller Hall was on the far side of the campus, behind the other buildings in the music complex. The older, gymnasium like auditorium was mainly used by local student talent, - including one uproariously funny student talent show that Blair had dragged him to - now that the newer Sadie auditorium had been built.

Jim glanced around cautiously as if he expected to find Simon keeping an eye on him. The captain would have his ass if he knew he was out 'investigating' but during dinner, which they had partaken of at an Indian restaurant they both enjoyed, Blair had convinced him to attend the rehearsal. He recalled the younger man's words fondly.

~~"Hey, man, you can enjoy yourself and relax, and it'll probably be the only time in your life that you can enjoy this music, since you won't be able to hear it."~~

Jim had laughed at him, but agreed to come to the jam session. Now that he was here, he wanted to get a feel for everyone before he joined the group. Blair left his side and strode quickly across the space to where the band members had set up and were apparently tuning their instruments. Jim took a moment to look the group over. Blair had approached Arthur, who was bent over his electric guitar, hair loose and in his face. He looked up as Blair approached, and grinned. The two started talking, and Jim moved his attention away.

He matched people with names by what instrument they were playing. Tamara was standing with a mic in her hand, though she wasn't singing. She kept swishing her long brown hair back and forth, swaying to an invisible beat, or maybe not, since Jim couldn't hear anyway. She was wearing a tie-dye T-shirt and bell-bottom jeans. Jim grinned. Ah, the fun of reacquiring fashions.

He moved his attention onward. Patty was tapping lightly on the drum set, gazing off into space as she waited for the group to start. She was wearing a loose flowing dress that hid her feet from sight. Her strawberry blond hair had been pulled into a severe bun at odds with her loose clothing.

Hyacinth was...striking. Her hair was black as coal and spiked up with gel, standing up at least six inches from her head. Jim zoomed his sight in and grinned. Yep, dyed. He let his eyes wander down her body. Interesting... She was wearing fairly normal blue jeans, except they were strategically ripped and covered with permanent marker and pen drawings. He couldn't see what kind of a T-shirt she was wearing because she was wearing a gray hooded sweatshirt with a zipper down the front. The hood, waist, and top and bottom of the arms had safety pins marching all around them. She was also wearing three choker chains, one of which was a studded dog collar.

The last person was Aaron, the second guitarist. He looked rather normal, compared to the rest of the group. His light brown hair was cut in a simple short hair cut, and he wore relaxed fit blue jeans and a plain burgundy T-shirt. Jim took one last look around, noting the exits out of habit, and then moved across the floor toward the group.

Aaron was the only one who seemed to notice him, setting down his guitar to approach. "You must be Jim."

Jim nodded and accepted the outstretched hand. Aaron's handshake was firm, and he smiled broadly, his eyes twinkling. "Blair's told us a lot about you."

Jim grimaced, then laughed. "So I've heard, and you shouldn't believe everything you hear."

Aaron joined him in laughter. "Don't worry, I've learned over the years that Blair tends to exaggerate the talents of his friends, although I'm sure you're an excellent detective, even if you're not Superman."

Jim grinned, laughing internally about all the times he and Blair had joked about superheroes when it came to his senses.

Aaron kept talking. "So, 'old man', what kinda music do you 'dig'?

Jim laughed good-naturedly at the digging. "I'm of the opinion that the last band that recorded something worth listening to was Santana, although I'm sure you guys are good at what you do."

Aaron shrugged. "We play for our own enjoyment and stress relief. It's only icing on the cake that somebody else actually wants to listen to us."

Jim nodded, pleased with the maturity and wisdom implied in the attitude. "I actually don't know too much about grunge, other than what Blair's told me off and on. He'd never mentioned you before this case though.

Aaron shrugged. "He was probably embarrassed about the name thing. Blair did tell you how we got our band name, didn't he?"

Jim sensed a bigger story than Blair had alluded too. "Not really, he just said you picked it as a play on words about the type of music you played."

Aaron laughed again. "He would." He settled his stance in preparation of a long story, and Jim grinned at the potential blackmail he was sure he was about to get.

Aaron grinned back and began his story. "We started the band the year before we met Blair. Most of us went to the same high school, and so our senior year we started the band. Our band teacher laughed the first time he heard us, said we certainly weren't the Beatles, maybe the Grasshoppers. We didn't have another name in mind, so that became our name.

"When Arthur brought Blair to meet us, we were still using it. Blair thought we should come up with a better name, so we spent weeks throwing out potential band names whenever we got together. Blair kept throwing out these musical terms, because of our tendency to use classical music for inspiration. We all laughed at him, but he was persistent.

"One Saturday we got together for a jam session. Blair's word of the day was Tympanic, something to do with drums. He kept trying to work it into a band name, but nothing worked. Because it was such a gorgeous day, we decided to go for a hike in the afternoon. Everything was going great till we got to this narrow part of the trail and Blair made the mistake of looking over the edge.

"First time I've ever seen a panic attack. We were all pretty scared when he started hyperventilating. Cindy saved the day when she piped up 'He's having a tympanic attack'. That made everyone laugh, even Blair.

"He calmed down and we decided that in the future we'd go hiking where the view wasn't so close. When we got back down, Patty mentioned that Tympanic attack would be a great band name. A little twisting to the words, and Tym-Panyk Attakk was born."

As the story ended, Jim glanced around and saw that everyone was watching them, listening to the story. Blair was a lovely shade of red, and the rest of the group was laughing at him. He also noticed that another girl had joined the group. She was younger than the rest of them, around 20. She wore a form fitting white T-shirt with a pastel yellow blouse over it, open at the front. Her skirt came mid thigh, the tight black material reflected the stage lights into his eyes. He winced, and shifted focus to her black platform shoes, and almost shuddered. How can they move in those things? This must be Cindy. The harmonica she held tightly in her hand confirmed his guess.

Blair broke into the laughter, getting his embarrassment under control. "Hey! I thought we were here to play?" Still laughing, the group drifted together, falling into a pattern that was obviously familiar.

Jim pulled up one of the folding chairs and settled down to observe. He was surprised when Arthur pulled out an acoustic guitar and handed it to Blair. Blair didn't seem surprised though, so Jim figured he must jam with the group often. It was only logical, after all.

When they first started playing, Jim couldn't really tell, except for seeing the movements, but then as the song built, he could feel the vibrations from the sub-woofers coursing through him. It actually felt kinda nice, though he was loath to admit it to Blair.

Two hours later he was bored stiff, and the vibrations no longer interested him. He approached Blair when the group took a break to drink some water. "Chief, I'm gonna take a walk."

Blair looked concerned. "You don't have a headache or anything, do you? We can go home."

Jim hastened to assure him. "No, no. I'm just a bit bored." He smiled sheepishly as he admitted it.

Blair grinned back at him. "Ok, just don't get lost. We should be done in an hour."

Jim nodded and headed for the door as the group gathered back together.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim gave a contented sigh as he headed back to the building the group was practicing in. The half-hour walk had been very relaxing, and without his hearing, the almost deserted campus had seemed miles from the city. He had found that there were many places where buildings had blocked his view of the rest of the city, and the landscaping had made it seem like a park. He now felt up to braving the last half hour of practice. As he reached to grab the door handle, a shudder ran through him. He stopped. Something feels wrong. He tried to figure out which of his senses had alerted him. He took a deep breath, making a face at the dirty, oily smell. That smell hadn't been there when he'd categorized the building and its occupants earlier.+1 He drew his gun, and opened the door cautiously.

The place was empty of human beings, the instruments they had been playing littering the floor. Moving cautiously, he checked out the whole room, and the rooms that opened off of it. He didn't find anything, or anybody, just the lingering smell that still made him shudder. He approached the scattered instruments. As soon as he looked at them, he knew something was wrong. The instruments had been haphazardly scattered, as if they had been set down in a hurry, almost dropped. No serious musician would treat his instrument that way. His attention focused on the drum set, where the group's name had been carefully painted on the main drum. Over the name, someone had plunged a knife, which was holding a piece of paper. Jim stepped forward cautiously, careful not to disturb anything. He studied the note. It was composed of cutout letters, like ransom notes in stories. The message was simple:

Damn! I hate lunatics.

Jim pulled out his phone, and then stared at it in frustration. He finally shrugged, and dialed Simon's office number. Crossing his fingers that his captain was still there, he waited for a moment, trying to remember how long it took to connect a call.

* * * * * * * * * *

Simon sighed. He'd been a bit suspicious when Jim and Blair had snuck out early, but he'd been busy with paperwork, and hadn't paid too much attention to them. He sighed again and glanced at his watch. How did it get this late? I need to go home. He gazed out his office window into the Bullpen. What are Rafe and Brown doing here this late? I'll have to ask them on my way out. That decided, he stood up and grabbed his coat, then groaned as the phone rang. He reached for the phone, and then shuddered as a feeling of deja vu washed over him. Now why did I think of the time when Jim was kidnapped by Colonel Oliver? With a feeling of foreboding he picked up the phone. "Banks!"

Silence.

"Hello?"

Silence.

"This better not be a prank! If I find out who's on this line and you don't have any business..."

His rant was interrupted by a voice.

//"Simon? I hope you're there, because I have no way of hearing you, but the whole band's gone. That nut took the whole lot of them, including Blair, when I was out taking a walk. God, I wish I'd never left them alone."//

Simon opened his mouth to ask what the hell was going on, but snapped it shut as he realized that Jim wouldn't hear him.

//"I'm at the Batcheller building at Rainier. If you're getting this message, send Forensics over. If no one shows up, I'll take that as a sign I'm talking to a ringing phone and try and find somebody on campus. Goodbye."//

Jim hung up, and Simon immediately called down to get a forensic team headed for Rainer University. He stepped out of his office, now pleased that Rafe and Brown were still working. "Rafe. Brown. Let's roll. There's been a break in the stalking case. A break of the bad kind."

Rafe and Brown both grabbed their coats and they all headed for the elevator. Rafe looked at him with a grim expression. "What happened?"

Simon grimaced. "The whole band's been kidnapped, and Sandburg with them. Jim's at the scene now."

Rafe and Brown exchanged glances. They had noticed that something hadn't been right with Jim the last two days, but nobody was saying anything, and it wasn't any of their business. Now they wondered if they were about to find out what the problem had been.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim snapped the phone shut, and then began pacing back and forth, still careful not to disturb anything. He hadn't seen any fingerprints on the note, and it was impossible for him to tell whose fingerprints were on all the instruments, although he suspected that they all belonged to their owners.

He stared at the note, then his nostrils flared as he picked up a faint scent. He moved closer, breathing deeply, trying to isolate the smell and identify it. It seemed familiar. Where have I smelled that before? Suddenly it hit him. Last week Rhonda had gone home early complaining of an earache. Jim had advised her to go to the doctor because he'd smelled the infection in her ear. It was earwax laced with the smell of infection that he smelled now.+1

He zoomed in on the note. Now that he knew what he was looking for, he could see the faintest yellow mark in the corner.+1 Gross! Jim grinned at the thought of telling Blair about finding the earwax. The grin quickly fled as it hit him that he'd have to find and rescue Blair before he could share that tidbit of information.

Jim jumped and pulled his gun back out when he felt the door open behind him, interrupting his thoughts. He swung around, gun held steady in front of him, to find Simon pointing his gun back at him. Recognizing each other, they lowered their weapons. Simon turned around and waved the forensic team in, then approached Jim, Rafe and Brown right behind.

Jim ignored the other two detectives, his focus on his captain. "Sir, thank God you got my call. I was afraid I was talking to air." He missed the curious look that passed between Rafe and Brown. "I got bored sitting here not listening to them practice, so I went for a walk around campus. When I got back, they were all gone, and there was a note on the drum set. I figure it's that lunatic who's composite we've been passing around. I noticed..."

He seemed to notice Rafe and Brown for the first time. "Oh, hi guys." Thank God I don't have to hide my sense of smell anymore, this could really help find Blair. "Anyway, I noticed this familiar smell. Then I remembered when Rhonda had that ear infection last week, and I figured out what the smell was. It was earwax, and I could smell the infection. None of the band members had infections; I would have smelled it. I've been using scent to replace my hearing." He stopped suddenly, as he realized what he had said.

Rafe and Brown were looking at him in astonishment. Brown recovered first. "We knew something was wrong, but we never would have guessed you couldn't hear. How did you cover it so well?"

Jim shrugged, blushing slightly. "Lip reading, and a lot of luck and help from Blair, but we don't have time for that now. We need to check out the drugstores in the area. It's a small chance, but at the moment, it's the only lead we've got."

Simon called in and got some manpower canvassing the nearby stores, armed with the drawing of the stalker.

* * * * * * * * * *

Rafe and Brown stepped into the tiny drugstore. The store was only a block from campus, and their clientele was largely composed of students. The place even had an old-fashioned soda fountain as well as stocking all the basic toiletries and over the counter medicines.

The place was small enough to only have one clerk. The grandmotherly older woman behind the till looked up as the two detectives approached.

The woman smiled charmingly and patted her gray hair that was neatly twisted in a bun. "What can I do for you young gentlemen? I'm afraid the ice cream parlor is closed at this hour."

Brown flipped open his badge. "Detective Brown, and this is my partner, Detective Rafe."

The older woman held out her hand to shake. "Betty Frumple."

Controlling their reactions to her name, first Rafe, then Brown, shook her hand. Henry continued. "We're here investigating a kidnapping. Have you seen this man before?"

He pulled out the sketch artist drawing and passed it to the woman. She rubbed her hands down her flowered, old-fashioned dress before taking the paper and studying it intently. "Yes, I believe I have. There was a young man who looked like this here just a bit ago. Very nervous, kept looking around like he expected the boogieman to jump out and grab him. He bought an herbal pain reliever and asked if it would help with an earache. I told him it should, but that he really ought to see a doctor. Ear infections are nothing to mess with, quite serious really. That rude young man just about took my head off at the suggestion. He was in such a rush to get out of here. Nobody takes time to enjoy themselves these days. It's just rush, rush, rush..."

The lady might have kept going indefinitely if Rafe hadn't interrupted her. "Ma'am, did you happen to get his name?"

Betty nodded enthusiastically. "Why yes. He wrote a check to pay for the medicine."

She rummaged in the bottom of the cash register before holding up the check triumphantly. "Yes, here it is. It even has an address on it."

Brown smiled. "Thank you ma'am. We'll have to take that as evidence, but we'll make sure you get paid for the medicine.

The lady smiled broadly. "Of course." She handed over the check, then reached over and patted Henry on the cheek. "You just bring that money when you get it, handsome."

Henry blushed, then beat a hasty retreat with the evidence, trying to ignore his laughing partner.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim glanced at the door after another useless sweep of the area, willing it to open. Simon had forbidden him to join the canvassing teams, and he had used the waiting time to sweep the auditorium repeatedly. The only thing he found was the unsettling oily smell, which he still couldn't identify. The faint trace of infected earwax had disappeared after the note had been contained in an evidence bag. The small butterfly knife that had held it to the taunt drum skin had also been bagged, though Jin had found no clues on it. If the earwax lead didn't pan out, finding out where such knives were sold would be another avenue to explore.

Jim continued to stare at the door. Come on, open. Bring me a clue. As if in answer to his mental call, the door popped open and Rafe and Henry rushed in. They headed for Simon and Brown started to report, the words coming out slightly breathlessly.

"We got a break, sir." Rafe waved an evidence bag around, and Jim focused in on the check it contained. "It has an address and everything. Betty, er, the clerk, was pretty sure about the ID on the stalker."

Simon smiled dangerously. "Good, take a team to the address and sit on it. I've got to go drag Judge Simmons out of bed for a warrant."

Simon left in a swirl of overcoat, chomping on his cigar and Jim followed Rafe and Brown, determined not to be left behind. He slipped into Brown's car without asking and the other detectives just nodded in response as they peeled out of the parking lot, sirens blaring and lights flashing.

As they approached the address from the check, they first went silent, then lost the lights so as to sneak up on the suspect. Several patrol cars along with Joel and Megan who, 'just happened to be in the area', joined them in surrounding the house.

* * * * * * * * * *

Jim crouched behind Brown's car, pretending to use a pair of binoculars as he focused his sight through a crack in the curtains. He strained to make out anything suspicious.

He was finally rewarded when a man answering the perp's description stepped into view carrying a tray. He set the tray down on a table and stepped out of view again.

Jim swiftly counted the plates of food laid out on the tray. Well, that's not the best evidence in the world, but it is the right number.

He nudged Brown in the ribs. "Do you see that?" The other detectives were also crouched behind the car, using binoculars to peer into the same window.

At Jim's hissed words he turned toward the senior detective to allow him to see his lips. Before he could say anything, his cell phone rang. He quickly snatched it up. "Hello?" A triumphant grin spread across his face. "Yes, sir!" He snapped the phone shut and turned to Jim, knowing that Rafe could hear him. "Simon's on his way with the warrant."

Jim grinned, then returned his attention to the house. The perp had returned and was fussing with the food, adding and taking away things as if he couldn't decide what to feed his captives.

Feeling uneasy about what the unstable young man might be trying to feed Blair and Tym-Panyk Attakk, Jim loosed his sense of smell, carefully directing it along his line of sight. His stomach heaved and he almost gagged as he ran into the same nauseating oily smell that he'd picked up in the auditorium. He quickly filtered it out after he determined that it was some hair oil the perp had used far too generously.

Once past the revolting smell, he quickly checked the food. He could detect no harmful substances, though Blair wasn't going to be pleased with the Spam burgers, and decided that they could continue to wait for the warrant, rather than bursting in now and covering their asses later.

The perp finally seemed satisfied and picked up the tray. He moved out of Jim's line of sight and Jim clenched his fists in frustration at not being able to follow the man with his hearing. The man returned shortly, settling at the table with a book. A small eternity later, Simon arrived with the warrant.

* * * * * * * * * *

Simon stalked over to his three detectives who were crouched behind Brown's car. Totally ignoring Jim, Simon snapped out, "What have you got?!"

Brown turned to his captain. "Sir, our suspect was seen preparing seven dinners which were delivered to an unknown destination. He is currently sitting at the kitchen table reading a book. No other sign of activity."

Simon nodded. "Good. I've got the warrant. We go in by the book." He suddenly snapped his attention to Jim. "And you, Ellison, are not to go in with the first wave. You hear me?"

Jim straightened slightly and glared at Simon, not bothering to point out the fact that he couldn't hear. "Sir, yes, sir!" His reply was much louder than he'd intended and the other three men winced. Jim looked slightly ashamed as he realized what had happened, but Simon ignored him.

Simon nodded to Brown and Rafe. "Let's go."

Henry nodded back and spoke into his headset. "Let's move in, people. By the book, potential hostage situation." He moved smoothly to the front door, followed by Rafe and Simon. Other personnel covered the back door and the windows. Brown nodded to Rafe and Banks, then whispered into the headset. "Now."

They burst through the door with smooth precision. "Police! Freeze!"

The perp gave a startled squeak and jumped from his seat. His book tumbled to the floor and Simon almost laughed out loud as an embarrassing wet stain spread across the poor man's pants. He offered no resistance as Rafe cuffed him and read him his rights.

Joel and his team came in the other door and declared the house clean. Simon eyed the remaining door leaving the kitchen, presumably to a basement holding the kidnap victims. Before he could make a move to the door, Jim stepped into the room.

Simon sighed. I knew it was too much to ask for him to stay out of this. Fairly certain that the perp had been working alone, Simon allowed his injured detective to stay. After all, he's worried about Sandburg.

Nodding silently to his men, Simon approached the door, gun held ready. Brown clicked the lock and flung the door open, gun up. None of them were prepared for what they found. The voice drifted up the stairwell, droning on and on.

As the detectives realized what they were hearing, they all began to laugh; except for poor Jim, who looked from one person to another in complete bewilderment. Simon finally took pity on him and managed to get himself under control enough to explain. "Jim, the guy has some kind of electronic speech going. It says; 'Cleanse your hearts from this evil abomination, this devil beat which perverts your souls. Come out of darkness and into light. It is not too late to exorcize yourselves of this'..." Simon trailed of as laughter consumed him again, but Jim was too busy laughing himself to notice.

The group then trooped down the stairs to find all seven kidnap victims seated around the room, arms and legs taped together, listening to the tape with great longsuffering. Blair summed up the groups sentiments as he dropped his head and moaned, "I am never going to live this down."

* * * * * * * * * *

Blair plopped down on the couch with a sigh. "Man, that was the screwiest kidnapping I've ever been involved with."

Jim went over to the fridge and pulled out two bottles of water. He handed one to Blair before plopping down on the other couch. "You can say that again. I'm just glad we avoided the trip to the hospital this time."

Blair grimaced. "Yeah. If I'd gone, they would have tried to put me in the psychiatric ward after the stuff that guy made us listen to. It was insidious."

Jim laughed. "Hey, it was only for a couple of hours. I think I did a darn good job finding you unharmed, lecture on the evils of rock and roll aside."

Blair grew serious. "Thanks, man. That was one kick-ass piece of detective work with the earwax. I can't believe you smelled that. That is like, so gross."

Jim laughed. "As long as it solves the case, I'll take gross, and the earwax bit wasn't much. It was mostly luck that he decided to go to a local store to get the medicine and that he was stupid enough to use a check with an address."

Blair nodded. "May I always be kidnapped by the stupid ones."

Jim sighed. "I'd prefer that you weren't kidnapped at all."

Blair waved his hands enthusiastically. "Oh, definitely. I'm all for not ever being kidnapped again, but right now we have another problem."

Jim sighed again and touched his ears. "Still nothing."

Blair nodded seriously. "I did some research about NIHL, or Noise-Induced Hearing Loss. The problem is normally caused by exposure to sounds with too high a decibel, either suddenly, like an explosion, which is what happened to Lisa, or slowly, like working in a noisy factory," Blair grinned suddenly, "or listening to too loud of music. Now, obviously, the problem you had is not decibels related, but rather a matter of too high a pitch. What happened is that your eardrum was overwhelmed and became stiff, which accounts for the hearing loss. The interesting thing is, this problem normally takes 2-3 days to clear up physically. It's actually pretty amazing that you didn't still have any physical signs of the trauma. I'm gonna have to run some tests on your physical recovery time..."

Jim interrupted swiftly. "Just hold on there, Darwin. I've told you before, you wanna test pain, you do it on yourself."

Blair grinned at him, then visibly pulled himself back on track. "Ok, so we know it's not a physical problem, so it must be a mental problem.

Jim snorted. "Hey, no cracks about my mental abilities."

Blair grinned again and bounced slightly. "Ok, I think the problem is that when you experienced the physical trauma, your brain shut down the connection between your ears and the part of your brain that processes sounds. We just have to convince your unconscious that it's OK to open the connection again."

Jim smiled at Blair's enthusiasm. "Just how do you propose to do that?"

Blair was still grinning. "Your favorite activity. We have to put you in a trance again."

Blair popped up, moving enthusiastically. "I had this revelation when I was trying not to listen to that awful lecture. I was thinking about music and sound, and I remembered this book I read as a kid. 'The Three Investigators: Terror Castle'. In it, this guy is trying to make this house appear haunted, so he plays sub-sonic sounds. These sounds produce fear in people, even though we can't hear them. So I was thinking about sub-sonic, and ultra-sonic sound, and I thought, if ultra-sonic was what caused your deafness, then maybe sub-sonic could fix it."

Blair held up a tape recorder. He was still going full steam despite the rapid-fire speech he had just given. "While you were doing the paperwork that couldn't wait till tomorrow, I called Professor Jescke. He's a linguistics professor studying whale song to try and interpret a language. He has tons of tapes of whale song, including some that are subsonic. I called him up and he sent over a student to the station with one of his tapes. This tape goes from subsonic up into the auditable range. Most people don't 'hear' subsonic sounds, you feel them, so you'll be able to feel the sounds, totally bypassing your ears. I'm hoping that as the sounds move up into the audible range, it will bring your hearing with them, allowing your subconscious to reconnect to your ears."

Jim smiled at him. "Sounds like a plan, Chief. Let's get to work. The trance worked pretty well last time."

Blair bounced excitedly as Jim settled himself, then he also settled, grounding Jim with a hand to his knee as the older man closed his eyes. He watched carefully as Jim slowly relaxed. When the sentinel was totally relaxed and breathing steadily, Blair turned on the tape. He watched anxiously for any sign that it was working. "Please, please, please..." He kept muttering the word under his breath as Jim just sat there. Soon the whale song became audible to him, and still Jim just sat there. Just when he thought he was going to die of suspense, Jim muttered at him. "If you don't shut up Sandburg, I'm going to kick you out of the house for the night."

With a whoop of joy, Blair leaped from his uneasy seat. He began to dance around the loft wildly. "Yes! Yes! I can't believe it worked!"

Jim smiled tolerably at Blair's enthusiasm. "And didn't you think it would?" He kept his voice mild as he watched the excited young man.

Blair froze, and then burst out laughing. "Well, I wasn't real sure." He shrugged and blushed.

Jim smiled, settling back comfortably, letting all five senses direct themselves at this remarkable young man. "I was sure. I was always sure."

Blair blushed in embarrassment, and then got a wicked grin. "You know, we're having another jam session tomorrow night, wanna come now that you can hear it?"

Jim shuddered, then glowered. "Don't push it, Sandburg."

Blair just laughed and Jim soon joined him; the sound surrounding them, simple and normal.

* *