Main Characters: JD, Adam and Chris
Crossover with The Sentinel
Universe: Cub & Kit
Disclaimer: The Magnificent Seven is owned by MGM and The Sentinel is owned by Pet Fly Productions. No money has been made from this so please don't sue me. Photo credits: Puma cub photographed by Albright Images. Fox kit photographed by The Wild. Again, no profit made and only respect intended.
Notes: This story references the murder of a child, and while not graphic may be difficult for some people to read. This is part of the Cub & Kit AU that is a crossover universe with the Sentinel. It follows The Cub and the Kit and Just the Facts.
"He told me. I should have listened," said JD, the color leeching from his face. He rose out of his seat and stumbled away from the table, turning his back to the others in the room.
"JD, don't." Chris also rose; trying to prevent the anguish he knew was coming.
"He trusted me to protect him. I should have gotten there faster!"
Chris couldn't tell if JD was talking to the room or himself. He wasn't even sure if JD knew he was speaking out loud. When he placed a hand on JD's arm, JD jerked and then rounded to push him away. Chris pushed right back, grabbing his arms and pinning him to the wall. "You were on the other side of town. They were gone in a matter of minutes. There was no way humanly possible for you to reach them in time." JD shook his head, his grief forcing him to deny any comfort. Chris slammed JD back against the wall in frustration. "Listen to me!" Finally, JD's dark eyes met his. Chris dropped his voice to a harsh murmur that only JD should hear.
Across the room worry and confusion reigned among the police detectives. But it was Blair who first inquired, "Can I ask what's going on?"
"Adam," was Buck's curt reply.
"Chris's first son?" Blair questioned cautiously. He hadn't forgotten that Buck had already declared that topic off limits.
Buck looked from Chris and JD to eleven-year-old Vin and thirteen-year-old Ezra. Both had moved closer and were now casting concerned looks in their father's direction. Face ever more grim, he nodded to himself in decision and started to speak. "Chris and I were scheduled to testify in a Federal arms smuggling case involving both officers and civilian contractors from several military bases. Our testimony had already been postponed several times, due to continuances from the defense. The FBI started to get nervous and insisted the two of us be put into protective custody until we'd finished testifying. Chris didn't like it, even tried to get Sarah and Adam to be allowed to join us but the Fibbies wouldn't go for it. Said our cover had never been broken and there was no reason to believe Sarah or Adam were in danger. Then the night before Chris started testifying," Buck's voice shook and his face contorted in pain, "that night . . ."
Josiah set a soothing hand on Buck's back, letting him know he'd take over the burden of this tale. "I was awakened around 3 am by a frantic call from JD saying Sarah and Adam were being attacked. I didn't ask questions, just rushed out to the ranch, calling local authorities along the way. It wasn't enough. By the time help arrived the ranch appeared abandoned, its front door broken in and furniture overturned in an apparent struggle. A small shed between the house and the barn was a smoldering ruin. The crime scene investigators confirmed that Sarah and Adam had been chained within the shed, preventing any escape." Josiah paused to take a deep breath. "You spoke of Sentinels having prophetic dreams; perhaps a week before . . . the fire, Adam began having nightmares. In some he saw a lynx and kestrel tied to a burning stake. In others he was the one surrounded by flames. It never occurred to us that they were more than a child's bad dreams. Then, that night when JD woke Nathan and me with calls of danger, it wasn't because JD was there or he'd gotten a phone call of his own. JD had also had a dream, this one of Sarah and Adam being attacked, captured and burned. But by the time he woke, it was already too late for anyone to save them."
"JD was Adam's Guide." Jim's words were a statement of fact, not a question.
"It sure seems to fit with what you've been saying." This time Nathan answered. "There was always a connection between the two, from the first time they met. Whenever Adam was sick or feeling poorly, having JD around was the fastest way to get him feeling better. JD used to say that when the time came for the rest of us to retire, he'd take over the team and run it with Adam at his side." Nathan's remembrance brought several sad smiles from his teammates, but JD just ran a hand through his hair before looking away; unprepared to speak of the lost boy he'd considered a little brother.
"And the murderers?" Both the Sentinel and the cop within Jim were demanding justice.
"We collared the get-away driver who chickened out when he realized the hit included a kid." Buck made no attempt to hide the disgust in his voice. "Probably a good choice on his part since the other two mercenaries were murdered by the man running the hit, Cletus Fowler. We cornered Fowler in a little town near the Mexican border but we weren't able to arrest him." Buck's frustrated anger darkened his features. "The bastard walked into a burning building, rather than tell us who hired him. The case has been cold ever since."
You didn't have to be a detective to see how hard it had been for the ATF agents to reveal this particularly painful part of their past. It was obvious that they all felt the loss of Agent Larabee's family. Remembering how criminals gunning for him had almost killed his own son, Simon offered what little aid he could. "A while back some of the other Captains and I started swapping our departments' cold case files. We found that sometimes time and a fresh perspective could help move an old case forward. If you'd be willing to let us look at what you have . . ." Simon let his words trail off, not wanting to pressure Chris.
Chris scrutinized Simon for several seconds before saying, "Only Major Crimes."
"Of course," Simon easily agreed. "We'll be ready whenever you can get the files to us."
JD drained the last of the milk from his glass. It calmed the turning of his stomach, but did little to ease the turmoil of his mind. The clock on the microwave read 2:43 am. If he didn't get at least a little rest soon he'd be a liability at work.
"Is there some particular reason you're banging around the kitchen at this time of night?" asked Buck from the stairs that led to his room.
"Just thirsty," JD lied. He considered retreating to his bedroom, knowing that Buck wouldn't follow, but the truth was he was just as unwilling to face that dark room, as he was to face Buck.
Buck continued down the stairs to join JD in the kitchen. Grabbing the milk jug off of the counter, Buck poured a glass for himself and then refilled JD's. He studied his smaller roommate for a moment. "You're having that nightmare again aren't you?"
JD desperately grabbed at the counter to steady him, as visions of fire and horribly familiar screams assaulted him. "God, Buck, could we please not do this now!"
Buck forced himself not to reach out, knowing that in JD's current state of mind he'd only push Buck away. Still, that wasn't going to stop him from trying to reach JD. "If I thought for a second that leaving you be would help then I would, but we both know that method has only failed in the past." Once his words seemed to have sunk in Buck continued, "Was it the same dream as usual?"
JD reached for his refilled glass of milk and gulped it down the way Chris so often did with whiskey. Sniffing, he swiped at his eyes before turning to face Buck. "It was . . . it was pretty much the same as always. I guess I should have expected this," admitted JD. "What with Major Crimes looking into the cold case, and Simon asking me all of those questions about the night Sarah and Adam died, it was bound to stir up some unpleasant memories. I'll be fine Buck, really." His words didn't sound very convincing to either of them.
Buck hadn't become a federal agent without learning how to pick up on details. "You said 'pretty much the same'. What was different?" he gently interrogated.
JD turned back to the counter, setting his glass down before taking a white knuckled grip the counter's edge. "When I was driving to the ranch, trying to get to Adam and Sarah before they . . ." JD's voice broke and he took a few seconds to regain his composure. "As I was driving Adam suddenly appeared in the passenger seat beside me. He kept telling me to give up, as if I didn't already know how badly I'd failed him." The recriminations mixed with JD's already potent grief.
Buck's grim face flashed with helpless anger. "Now I know your mind is messing with you. You can't honestly think for a second that Adam would blame you for what happened!" demanded Buck.
"Of course he wouldn't," protested JD. "That's not what I said. Adam didn't say he blamed me, he was . . . he was asking me to let them die." JD dropped his head shaking it hopelessly. "I know it's just a dream, but in the dream they're still alive; I still have time to save them. How could Adam appear only to ask me that? How could he ask me to not even try to save them?" JD's voice was hoarse with pain and confusion.
"JD, sit with me for a minute," Buck instructed. He took JD's elbow and led his roommate to the sofa. Then he sat on the end table directly across from JD. "I never told you how my mother died, did I?" asked Buck. JD just shook his head surprised by the change of subject. "You know what she did to earn a living," Buck said. JD nodded, remembering when Buck had revealed that his mother had been a prostitute. "She died because she was beaten to death by one of her former Pimps; the Pimp that just happened to be my biological father." JD's eyes went wide with shock. "He always was a nasty bastard, getting his kicks off of hurting women. Mama had gone to a lot of trouble to keep me away from him and make sure he didn't get the chance to teach me his brand of evil. Before she died she made me promise I'd never turn out like him. The police were able to tie him to her death pretty easily and he went down for murder one. I suppose that should have made me feel better, but the truth is, all that psycho-babble about closure don't mean squat if a person ain't ready to let go of what's happened. I was so angry that she was gone, so guilty that I was still alive, that I turned all that rage inward, rivaling Chris on some of his worst days after Sarah and Adam." Buck grinned lopsidedly at JD's utter speechlessness. "It was months later, I don't even remember where I was driving to, but suddenly the song 'Brown Eyed Girl' came on the radio. Mama loved that song. Every time it came on she'd just drop whatever she was doing and start to dance around the room. Her joy was so damned infectious that soon everyone else would be doing the same. When I heard that song, it was like something crumbled inside of me. I pulled off to the side of the road and just sobbed like a baby. After a while I noticed I'd parked the car right next to a patch of wild lilies: Mama's favorite flower. I believe . . . No; I know that this life is only one step in our existence. Who a person is doesn't end when they die. Nor do they stop caring about the ones they've left behind. I think, when they can, they try to help us. That day Mama was trying to tell me that I needed to stop focusing on how much I hated the way she died and try to remember what I loved about how she lived."
In the silence that followed JD finally murmured, "That's pretty incredible Buck, but I don't see how it relates to me."
Buck set a hand on JD's shoulder to both support and prevent escape. "JD, what did Adam say to you in the dream?"
"I don't remember exactly what he said," denied JD.
"That's crap!" Buck called him on his failed deception. "Tell me what Adam said to you."JD was racing down the street, obliterating the back road's speed limit. Glancing at the clock JD felt a surge of hope. He could make it this time, he just new he could.
"You can't keep doing this," declared a boy in the front passenger seat.
"It's going to be okay," insisted JD. "I can save you this time. It won't be like it was before."
The boy with his mother's brown hair and his father's green eyes shook his head sadly. "Stop torturing yourself, JD," he pleaded.
"Shut up, Adam!" JD spoke uncharacteristically harshly to the child. "I'm going to make everything right this time. I'm going to protect you."
"It's already too late. Just let it go."
"I can't do it Buck. I can't just let go and forget what happened to Adam. What I could have prevented." The guilt swelled up again. If only he'd listened when Adam's own nightmares had first started. If only he'd woken sooner, alerted the authorities quicker, driven the car faster.
"You don't know that you could have prevented anything even if you had been there. Against three armed men it's just as likely that you'd have ended up dead right along with Sarah and Adam," countered Buck. "Do you think Adam likes to see all the guilt you're carrying even after two years?" JD shook his head as silent tears streamed down his face. "Sounds to me like Adam wants you to stop blaming yourself for something you couldn't stop."
"But I don't know how else to hold on to what I have left of him." JD was lost so deep in his grief that he couldn't see another way to remember Adam.
Buck grasped JD around the neck pulling his head to Buck's shoulder. "Hell kid, think about his wicked curve ball, his uncanny aim with a water pistol, even his horrible treasure trove of puns. Anything but how he died." Buck could feel JD's tears seeping into his light robe. "I know we all vowed on their graves to catch the ones responsible, but Adam and Sarah, they wouldn't want us to stop living just to avenge their deaths. Please, JD, just try to let go of some of your guilt. Adam loves you too much to want to see you in this kind of pain." Buck didn't get a response from JD, but as the younger man cried himself into an exhausted sleep Buck tried to take it as a good sign. Settling his roommate on the couch under a blanket, Buck rose and spoke into the darkness, "I hope we got through to him this time, Adam."
In the space between worlds a green-eyed boy hoped so too.
Simon entered Interview-3 to find four of his detectives already hard at work on their new cold case. Jim, Blair, Rafe and Henry had spread the case file out over the conference table. A free flow of voices tossed ideas back and forth while reviewing the case. Rafe had taken position next to a white board, listing priorities to be investigated first. That all of these people were here off the clock, donating their free time to work a case that didn't even belong to their department reminded Simon again of how proud he was to be leading the best detectives Cascade had to offer. Joel had called a few minutes ago to let Simon know that he and Connor were still processing a suspect and would be a little late.
Simon was just about to close the door when someone called his name. He immediately recognized the ATF profiler, Josiah Sanchez. "Agent Sanchez, I wasn't expecting to see you today."
"Chris mentioned that he'd turned over the case file for Sarah and Adam's murders. There are personal notes that I never included in the official file that I thought you might find useful." Josiah walked forward offering a folder.
Simon accepted it and then stepped back to invite Josiah into the room. "We were actually just starting to look over the case if you want to join us?"
"I have some time before I'm expected at the shelter." Josiah stepped into the room. Nodding a greeting to the detectives he took a seat a bit away from the others. He'd be happy to help if they had any questions, but first he wanted to see what kind of investigators they were.
Simon started things by asking Jim to summarize the case. Jim gave a concise and detached description of the discovery of Sarah and Adam's bodies. Detailed the arrest of John Blackfox, which led to the trail of Cletus Fowler, the man who had led the Larabee executions. There the case file essentially ended, because Fowler had committed suicide rather than reveal the name of the man that had hired him. Locating Fowler's financials quickly became the top priority with the hope that a money trail would lead to Fowler's employer. Henry also pointed out the need to look into Larabee's former cases, since the nature of the attack made it look like revenge might be a motive. Even Sarah's past had to be examined.
Josiah noted the differing styles of the detectives. Jim and Simon were both fairly methodical about their approach to the case, while Blair easily jumped from one idea to the next. Henry examined the personalities of the criminals Larabee had been testifying against trying to determine the likely hood of them being behind such a risky attack. Rafe focused on the small details of the case quickly making some rather obscure connections that had taken Team Seven weeks to ferret out.
"Why wasn't the Pendleton Savings and Loan in New Mexico examined more closely? It says here that you had witnesses who claimed Fowler did business there under an assumed name," Rafe queried Josiah.
"You'll notice that that bit of information came from my personal file," Josiah pointed out. "By that time the case was already a year old and we weren't officially working it anymore. Honestly, we probably never should have worked it in the first place due to our personal involvement, but you may have noticed; it's hard to say no to Chris. Though, between Chris and JD, we spent as much time trying to pick up the pieces as we did investigating the case. Most often Nathan and I investigated while Buck tried to keep the two of them from self-destructing. By the time JD stumbled across that witness, our supervisor's patience had run out. He told Chris he would have to drop the investigation or leave the ATF."
"Chris backed down?" Jim had a hard time believing the man he'd met would cave to such an ultimatum.
"Actually, Chris, Buck and JD all submitted resignations. They decided they could open up an investigative agency and still find time to work the case on their own. They agreed to stay for six months, so they would be able to wrap up several of the cases we were working and pass off those that couldn't be closed," explained Josiah. "Then while trying to wrap up one of those cases we stumbled across two boys in need. When Chris decided to pursue custody of the boys he knew that a judge would look much better on a man with a steady, secure job than someone with a struggling, young business who was apparently still obsessing about his dead wife and child. Ezra and Vin managed in a few short days to do what a year of grieving and even the federal government couldn't do: They gave Chris something other than revenge to live for."
"So basically the case hasn't been worked on for about a year?" verified Henry.
"I know that JD pulls the file out every so often to re-examine it and run searches, but beyond that, little has changed in the past year. Our witness dropped off the radar so we could never justify a subpoena for the Saving & Loan to a judge," admitted Josiah.
"Maybe we could talk to JD about the case," suggested Blair.
"I did that yesterday," admitted Simon. "He also gave me some of his personal notes on the case. Talked me through the events of that night." The discussion and JD's description of that night had been more disturbing than Simon liked to admit.Simon had welcomed JD into his office, accepting and paging through the Larabee murder files that the young agent had brought with him. Noting that JD had been the one to alert authorities to the crimes at the Larabee ranch he asked, "Could you tell me what you remember about the night of Adam's and Sarah's deaths?"
"It started with a dream," began JD. "A nightmare really. At first I could only hear these strange sounds, like a screeching bird and a hissing, yowling wildcat. Then there were figures coming at me, hulking shadows with no faces. Pain radiated through my right arm, my head and lower back. I could hear Adam screaming, Sarah begging, pleading with them to stop. Gruel humor echoed back from the shadows. Being dragged outside across the gravel driveway and the damp ground. Thrown down onto cold cement, trapped in a box. Then came the heat and the smoke, lungs being starved of oxygen as the fire grew. The last thing Adam ever felt was his mother wrap her arms around him, trying to protect him from the flames." JD swallowed some of his grief to continue. "I woke up screaming, trying to tell myself it was just a dream. I called the ranch but the line was disconnected. So I hopped in my car and broke every speed limit known to man trying to get there, calling Nathan and Josiah to send help. There were already some police on the scene when I turned into the drive. Officers and deputies were searching the house and calling in an Amber Alert. But I saw the smoldering ruins of the old shed and I knew I was too late." JD had looked Simon straight in the eye and offered, "You wouldn't be the first person to think I'd imagined things about that night."
Part of Simon wanted to take the escape that JD offered him, but the pain in JD's eyes forced him to admit the truth, "Just because I don't want to hear about it doesn't mean it didn't happen." JD had left soon after, but Simon hadn't forgotten how fragile the young man seemed as he walked away.
As Simon finished reciting the conversation, the conference-room door opened admitting Joel and Megan. With their arrival Josiah excused himself saying he was due to help out at the Open Hand Shelter. The detectives continued to discuss the case, eventually making lists and dividing tasks that needed to be done. A big part of reviewing a cold case involved backtracking over previously covered ground. It was a tedious but necessary part of the job. Simon just hoped that they could find a break in the case. Chris deserved to know the truth behind his family's deaths and a boy and his mother deserved a bit of justice.
Chris took another sip of his water as he checked on Vin and Ezra. Vin was working on the last of his history homework, while Ezra typed away on Sarah's old laptop working on his new story. Chris didn't know what Ezra was writing, he was just happy that Ezra had finally found something beyond cards and betting to be passionate about. Chris was pretty sure that Vin knew what Ezra's story was about. On more than one occasion he'd seen Ezra consult Vin over some of the text. Chris didn't take offence at being left out of the loop. Ezra had said that he didn't want Chris to read his story until it was finished and Chris was willing to wait. Though Chris had learned that Ezra had joined in some Internet novel writing challenge that required his son to write 50,000 words by the end of the month. Hell, Chris didn't even speak that many words in a month if he could help it, but if anyone could come up with the words to meet that challenge it would be Ezra.
A flash of light through the window reminded Chris that they had company coming. It looked like the Major Crimes contingent was arriving first. A peek through the blinds revealed Blair, Jim and Rafe getting out of the truck. That meant that they only had to wait for JD to begin the first official Sentinel training seminar. Vin, having heard the car pull in, was packing up his schoolwork. Ezra was typing faster than ever muttering, "Just a hundred and fifty more words."
Blair had suggested he and Jim get together with Ezra and Vin to help the boys learn to deal with Vin's Sentinel abilities. Chris agreed under the condition that he and JD were present for any training. Ezra had earlier requested JD's help and he thought it would be good for JD, especially when he'd noticed the glum mood JD hadn't quite been able to hide. Buck had pulled him aside to let him know that JD's nightmares had returned, something that Chris had been expecting. Learning all that was behind the instant bond JD had shared with his son Adam was bound to stir up mixed emotions. Chris never had been one for talking problems out, that was Sarah's forte, he much preferred taking action. He was hoping that training with the boys would be enough to help JD work though the residual doubts and guilt that still lingered from Adam and Sarah's deaths. When he'd included JD, Blair had asked if they could bring Rafe as well. Something Chris had easily agreed to since Rafe had played a significant part in saving Ezra's life just a week before.
Chris opened his door to the three detectives. They moved through the entrance quickly, trying to minimize the amount of cold drizzle that came in. Chris didn't close the door completely because he noticed JD pulling in. "Looks like everyone has made it."
Jim shivered when he took off his jacket, hanging it on a peg. "Better not keep that door open too long. The temperature in here is dropping quickly," he advised.
"I've got the fireplace going," Chris pointed out. "It won't take too long to warm up again." The leader stepped back to let JD in before shutting the door soundly. "Ezra, we've got company," Chris reminded unnecessarily.
"Just two more minutes," assured the teen, his fingers flying across the keyboard.
Catching Blair's curious gaze, Chris explained, "My son's a budding novelist."
"Awesome," Blair grinned. "What genre?"
"Actually, I don't know," admitted Chris. "Ezra wants me to read it when it's finished 'without preconceptions'.
Blair nodded. To him Ezra's wish made perfect sense. "So I've got a few topics listed to discuss, but I wanted to know if there seemed to be any one area of Vin's Sentinel abilities that you thought we needed to work on?"
"Chief!" hissed Jim in dismay.
Blair looked back at had his partner's suddenly harsh tone. Jim was hunched over the fireplace, rubbing his hands vigorously, but even so his lips had taken on an almost bluish tint. "Jim are you alright? You look more than just a little chilled."
"I think I got a little bit of the rainwater down my collar, which explains why I'm shivering, but doesn't explain why you're discussing 'sensitive' issues in front of Vin and Ezra's friend."
"Friend?" Blair squeaked. He immediately scanned the room but couldn't see children beyond Vin and Ezra.
Jim sighed in exasperation. "The boy with the brown hair and green eyes, reading the computer screen over Ezra's shoulder."
"Um, Jim, there's no one there man," murmured Rafe nervously. Learning that he apparently had the potential to be a Guide like Blair had been a shock, but Rafe thought he was coping with it well so far. When Simon had called him into his office to warn Rafe about all of the strange, weird and downright bizarre things that happened to Sentinels and Guides, Rafe had written most of it off as over exaggeration. Now that his first lesson about being a Guide was apparently being hijacked by a boy who wasn't there, he began to wonder.
"I forgot that Jim could see you too," Vin said to the unidentified boy. As soon as Vin said those words Jim realized that the third boy in the room was a spirit, and he wasn't the only one to realize it.
"Please don't tell me that the house I just moved my family into is haunted," growled Chris.
"It's not haunted," insisted Vin. "It's just . . . it's . . ."
"It's Adam," JD spoke for the first time.
"Adam?" Chris's voice cracked as his eyes flew from Jim to JD to Vin.
"The boy with brown hair and green eyes," repeated JD. "Remember how Vin told us that he'd been sent to you by someone else? But we could never get him to tell us who that was. Just like we could never get him to explain how he found your ranch." JD's eyes drifted into the empty space behind Ezra. "Adam saw another Sentinel and Guide in need and he sent them to you because he knew you would protect them."
Chris was stunned with disbelief. They couldn't really be saying that his dead son was here in the room with them. It simply wasn't possible. Which meant this had to be someone's idea of a sick joke. Instantly Chris turned ready to vent all of his rage on Jim, his most acceptable target.
"I'm sorry, Dad," said Vin before Chris could say a word. "I didn't mean to lie to you, but Adam said it would only hurt you if you learned about him too soon." Vin was standing next to Ezra's chair, shifting nervously from one foot to the other.
All of Chris's anger drained away. From the first Chris had always been able to tell if either of the boys were lying, much to Ezra's dismay. Right now Vin was telling the truth, as he understood it. Chris struggled to comprehend that his lost son was just a few feet away, yet he couldn't see him, couldn't hear his voice, or take him in his arms the way he longed to.
JD slipped forward. "Nobody here is mad at you Vin. Not for keeping Adam's secret." JD stopped on the other side of Ezra.
Ezra had long since stopped typing. He remained seated, uncertain how to deal with the tension in the room. More than a year ago Ezra himself had wondered if perhaps Vin was making things up the first time he'd talked about Adam. Vin had described the spirit as a boy that wanted to help them and knew of a place and some people with whom they would be safe. Ezra's doubts had relented a bit after a warning from Adam had saved him and Vin from capture by Humboldt's mercenaries. It wasn't until Ezra's infected gunshot wound, that he actually saw Adam (along with a plethora of spirit animals) in the midst of his fevered dreams. It had felt like he'd spent a lot of time in Adam's company, yet he could remember little of what Adam said to him beyond that he could trust Chris and JD as well as the rest of their chosen family.
JD had been paying close attention to the area that Vin had talked to. Every hair on the back of his neck was standing on end, and there was a charge in the room unlike anything he'd ever felt before. Following a gut feeling JD reached out to the empty space behind Ezra's chair. First he felt the cold spot. Then he saw Adam, small fingers reaching back towards his. When their fingers should have met they passed, just a bit, through each other, but JD didn't care because he could feel Adam. All of Adam's courage and humor and even that nasty temper he'd inherited from his father was all there pulsing beneath his hand, and JD could barely breath for the wonder of it. He had Adam back.
"I can't stay like this for long," warned Adam as if reading his thoughts.
"Adam?" Chris had crossed the room in silence, eyes locked on the apparition that was his first-born son. Adam looked so much like the child he remembered, yet this child was more real and solid then any of his fading memories, despite his transparent form. Chris considered reaching out but didn't think he could cope with meeting an empty vapor. So instead he anchored to Vin and Ezra, grasping the shoulders of both boys.
Adam seemed to understand, meeting his father's gaze with the same look of love and trust that Chris had seen a million times before. Then he turned his eyes back to JD. "You haven't been listening in the dream, so maybe you'll listen now. You are not in any way responsible for what happened to us, and what's more you couldn't have prevented it. It was time for me to leave. I simply wasn't meant to stay long in this world." There was so much more Adam wanted to communicate, but words were hopelessly inadequate. "Please, JD. Please stop clinging to all of this grief and anger. You need to let go and move on."
Just like in the nightmare JD felt a rush of anger. With his palm meeting Adam's ethereal one, JD felt whole for the first time in years. How could Adam ask him to give that up? Yet even he knew that they couldn't stay in this moment forever. "I have listened to you. Now you need to listen to me. I can't let go of anything until we've caught the person that hired Fowler and ordered your deaths. I know it won't bring you back, but it might prevent it from happening to someone else, like Ezra and Vin." JD was speaking the greatest fear of every member of the team; that the person who had signed Sarah and Adam's death order would again take revenge on Chris through his family.
Adam stared at JD for a long moment, an ageless child gauging his ally's resolve. "I can't tell you where the journey ends, but I can show you where the trail starts." Adam raised his other hand to touch JD's temple. At the moment of contact JD's eyes glazed over providing a show that only he could see. Then his body swayed and Chris barely managed to catch him as he fell.
"JD? Come on JD, tell me you're all right," encouraged Chris, setting the young agent as gently as possible on the carpet.
"He's probably just overloaded by the experience," offered Blair when JD remained unconscious. Blair refused to believe that Adam would have done anything to hurt JD, and he didn't think Chris believed that either.
Adam's form crouched down next to Chris and JD. The boy's sad eyes met his father's, and Chris knew instinctively what his son was asking. "Of course, I'll look out for JD." Adam's eyes shot towards Vin and Ezra. "And your little brothers," added Chris.
Chris's words were met with Adam's most brilliant smile, expressing all of the faith and admiration he held for his father. "Love you, Dad." The apparition faded from view.
"Love you too, Adam," Chris responded to the vacant spot where Adam had been. Chris closed his eyes, trying to steel himself against the pain of losing Adam a second time.
"Dad?" Vin's hesitant voice announced his fear that he'd somehow helped to hurt his father.
"I'm okay," Chris assured in a fairly steady voice, though the tears slipping down his face belied his words. Tossing aside his pain in favor of action Chris said, "Let's move JD somewhere a little more comfortable."
Jim helped Chris carry the unconscious agent into the master bedroom, removing his shoulder holster and boots before leaving the ATF men alone. Blair came in a moment later with an extra blanket and a sports drink. "I thought he might like this when he woke up," Blair suggest of the bottle.
"You think he's going to be alright though?" asked Chris. JD seemed to be in a deep sleep, but what had just happened was far beyond Chris's realm of experience.
"Yeah, I think he'll be fine," said Blair. "I've seen others who needed a bit of recovery time after an intense spiritual experience." There was nothing quite like spending years traveling the world studying primitive tribes to give you all sorts of esoteric knowledge.
Chris nodded. "I should go check on the boys." Yet he was clearly hesitant to leave JD alone.
"Well, they seemed to be doing okay when I left," offered Blair. "Jim was talking to them about some of the times he's had encounters with those that have passed on. Vin seemed to be relieved that it wasn't just him." JD shifted and sighed as he started to claw his way out of unconsciousness. "I'll let the others know JD seems to be doing better," declared Blair. "Just give a shout if you need anything."
Chris barely noticed Blair's departure, focusing instead on JD's slowly opening eyes. Confusion and then sorrow were the first things to pass across JD's face. "It was just a dream," he murmured in despair.
"No, JD, it wasn't a dream. I'm pretty sure everyone in the family room saw Adam." When JD's only response was stunned silence, Chris continued, "In fact the whole incident got me thinking. I can remember a couple times over the past year when I had the feeling that Sarah and Adam were still around, still a part of our family. Now I'm wondering if it was maybe more than just wishful thinking."
JD cleared his throat. "Adam showed me things at the end," started JD. "Things that didn't match up with what Fowler told us. Fowler said he'd been looking to kill you and had settled for Sarah and Adam as a consolation prize. But from what he said to Sarah and his hired guns, Sarah and Adam were the target all along. And Chris, it wasn't a man that hired Fowler, it was a woman."
Chris stored away JD's information. Too much had happened for him to question its truth. "What about you? How do you feel?" Chris wondered.
"Good," replied JD moving to sit up. "Better than I've felt in quite a while actually. There was this moment after Adam showed me what Fowler had said. It's hard to explain, but for a moment I was touching the place where Adam is now. There wasn't any pain or anger, just this overwhelming love and acceptance, this understanding that everything was unfolding the way it was supposed to." JD shook his head. "I'm probably not making any sense." It was strange to feel something so intensely, but not understand why you were feeling it.
Chris didn't think that he could ever come to the place where he could accept that Sarah and Adam were supposed to die, but if JD had managed to get some measure of peace out of the experience he wouldn't contradict it. "The way I figure it, this is one of those things that doesn't have to make sense." Assessing JD's recovery, he asked, "So you think you're ready to go back and join the others? After this, the rest of Blair's Sentinel/Guide training ought to be downright boring."
JD chuckled. "Right now, boring sounds pretty darned good."