The Cub and the Kit

Debra Noellert

Notes: The main characters are Chris, Ezra, JD and Vin from the Magnificent Seven. And Blair, Jim and Rafe from the Sentinel. This is the first story in the Cub & Kit Universe, which is open to all. It is a crossover universe where the members of the Seven move to Cascade. Genre is general fiction.

Leaving Denver
“Ezra,” Chris called to the young teen brushing dust off his sleeve, “Why don’t you and Vin climb into the cab. Josiah and I can load the last couple of boxes.”

The thirteen-year-old didn’t even bother to hide his relief. “Come Vin, our servitude is finally over.” He opened the truck’s door motioning for his friend to take the back seat.

“’Our servitude’ is only over until we get to Cascade. Then we gotta help unpack. And I ain’t climbing into that back seat, Ezra. I already called shotgun.” The blue-eyed eleven-year-old crossed his arms in stubborn determination.

“How about we flip for it?” Ezra held up a silver coin while giving his best gold-toothed grin.

Vin quickly started digging in his own pocket. “If we’re flipping, we’re using my coin and you’re gonna call it in the air.” A second later a gold dollar flashed against a blue sky.

“Tails!” shouted Ezra. The coin hit the dirt with a thud. A single glance down made Vin snicker.

Ezra didn’t bend down to confirm his loss. Instead he forced out another grin and offered, “The best two out of three?”

“Just get in the back, Ezra. You can ride up front tomorrow. Ain’t like it’s not going to take us a while to get there.” Vin picked up his worn backpack full of things to entertain him on the trip.

“You should have more respect for your elders,” muttered Ezra sullenly as he settled in the back.

“It takes more than two years difference to make someone your elder,” replied Vin. The slam of the truck door muffled the rest of their conversation.

Chris met Josiah’s eyes with a grin. Both men happy to hear the boys acting like boys. It seemed only a short time ago that a desperate twelve-year-old Ezra had offered surprisingly detailed information about the arms dealer Humboldt in exchange for protection, protection for him and his ‘brother’. The following months had been on odyssey of heartache, fear, unforeseeable changes and eventually joy, the strength of which Chris honestly hadn’t believed he could ever feel again.

Life had finally leveled out. Vin Tanner was now legally the son of Chris Larabee. And while Maude had refused to give up her rights to Ezra, Judge Travis had seen though her dramatic oaths of motherly love and devotion and awarded Chris full custody. That Maude was currently serving out a six-month term in the Colorado Women’s Penitentiary for fraud had certainly been in his favor.

Chris had been afraid that when Maude was paroled she would immediately try to regain custody. But Ezra had calmly assured him that her interest in her child only went as far as it did to impress others. The moment she was paroled she would vanish. Then they could claim abandonment and proceed with the adoption, if Chris still wanted to. The vulnerability in Ezra’s face as he had spoken those words had brought Chris to his knees. Kneeling before the child and staring directly into his green eyes Chris had sworn, “It doesn’t matter what the law says. I’ll always want you as my son. I’ll always love you as my son.” Seconds later the air was squeezed out of his lungs by two slender arms.

Perhaps a moment passed before the two were joined by Vin who had his own oath to declare, “We’re gonna be family forever.” His arms wound around Chris and Ezra.

“Forever,” vowed Chris. Even though he knew better than most just how easily life could shatter such promises. Still death hadn’t been able to stop him from loving Sarah and Adam. And nothing would stop him from loving these two boys. For a moment Chris imagined that he could feel Sarah and Adam’s presence, sharing his love for Ezra and Vin. Then Chris felt the ghost of fingers against his side and the intense embrace degenerated into a tickle war that left all three panting in happy exhaustion.

“It must be a good place,” declared Josiah. When Chris’s only response was a puzzled look Josiah clarified. “The place your mind wandered off to the last minute or so.”

“A real good place.” Chris agreed. The smile on his face slipped a bit. “I hope I’m not making a mistake by moving them so far.”

“Nonsense,” insisted Josiah. “Their happiness and safety doesn’t come from living in Denver. It comes from being with you, their father. And don’t start worrying about moving the team again either. Nathan and Rain have been out in Cascade for three weeks now. They’re already settled into their new house and according to Nathan; Rain loves her new job at Children’s Hospital. You know Buck can be happy anywhere there is a viable female population,” Chris agreed with a chuckle, “and JD was so busy lusting after the new computer systems we’d have that he hardly noticed the change of states. Finally, Cascade is only 48 miles from the Sisters of Saint Agnes Convent, which means I will be able to visit my sister almost anytime I want instead of just once or twice a year. All that’s left is for you to get the boys settled into their new home. Now are you sure you don’t want me to ride with you and spell you on the driving?”

“No,” said Larabee. “I promised the boys a trip with just the three of us. A little sightseeing, a little camping. Even taking my time we should arrive in Cascade by the end of the week.”

“I guess that means I get to sample the pleasures of first class airfare.” Josiah’s grin was ripe with anticipation.

“Enjoy your flight,” encouraged Chris with a slap on the back. Josiah headed back to his Suburban and with a final wave drove off. Chris looked back towards the ranch one last time. This place held a lot of memories for him, both good and bad. But in the end memories could be made anywhere. And Chris had no doubt that his boys would make a lot of incredible new memories in Cascade. Securing the back of the truck, Chris circled around front. Climbing in he asked, “You boys ready to hit the road?”

“I’ve been ready for hours,” claimed Vin. Ezra silently nodded as his headphones played.

Chris started up the engine and shifted into gear. “Then let’s ride.”

Cascade Tensions

Word had spread through out the precinct: Avoid Major Crimes at all costs. Detective Ellison was in a down right sadistic mood and no one was being spared. It was a warning that most members of the police community took very seriously.

If Detective James Ellison noticed he was being avoided like the proverbial plague he gave no indication. He just continued to grumble into his paperwork, slamming drawers and tossing paper, while snarling at anyone who dared venture too close to his desk.

Detective Blair Sandburg was studiously ignoring his partner. He intended to finish his reports, sit through a meeting with the newest local Feds and head straight home. Not that he expected much peace and quiet there. Having his partner as his roommate meant that Blair was on the receiving end of the ‘Ellison attitude’ 24 hours a day. Jim had been only somewhat relaxed at home. Though instead of venting at Blair, he was hovering around him. The last 48 hours had been full of homemade meals that Jim had insisted on fixing. And last night Jim had practically tucked Blair into bed, declaring the importance of a good nights sleep. Yet twice during the night Blair had woken to the creaking of floors as Jim stalked the loft waiting for some unknown foe.

Blair’s one attempt to suggest that maybe Jim’s mood was sentinel related had been met with a short, “Not everything in my life has to do with my senses, Sandburg.”

The other members of Major Crimes had up until now found various reasons to be away from the bullpen. Only Captain Simon Banks’ decree that everyone be present for the liaison meeting with the new ATF team had dragged the various detectives back.

Jim knew he was alienating his coworkers and worrying his friends but he couldn’t seem to shake the feeling that things were about to get very bad. There was a continuous tingling in the back of his mind, a warning. He just didn’t know what the warning was against. Realizing that he had written a bunch of nonsense on his report Jim cursed and tore it up before grabbing another form.

Glancing around the bullpen a shimmering image drew his attention. At the floor at Rafe’s feet prowled a puma cub. The young wildcat had golden yellow fur broken by brown spots and a white belly. Its ears and paws looked too big for its pint-sized body. Its face was mostly brown with a white mouth and a trace of black markings around two startling blue eyes. The cub batted at an invisible barrier while letting out small growls of fear and frustration. On the other side of the glass two animals were struggling. A rather dirty, sick looking raccoon had pinned down and tried to bite a small, red fox kit. The kit was squirming wildly to avoid the rabid animals jaws. For a second it looked directly at Jim with pleading green eyes. With a clarity that seldom accompanied one of his visions, Jim knew what it meant.

“Jim?” Blair’s voice brought Jim to the realization that he was now standing at his desk, having knocked over his chair and drawn everyone’s attention.

The animals we gone but their meaning wasn’t. “Blair, I’ve been an idiot.”

“If you’re expecting me to disagree, it’s not going to happen man.” Snorted Blair. When his partner didn’t respond, he tried to recapture his attention. “Jim, are you okay?”

Jim surveyed the people in the bullpen. Most were friends as well as coworkers. Simon and Megan both knew the whole ‘Sentinel’ story. When Blair had finally moved up to Detective the two had decided to start using Jim’s abilities more openly around the Detectives they trusted. Joel, Henry and Rafe had all seemed to accept that Jim used a slightly different method of gathering evidence. Instead of the ‘How do you do that?’ they’d been expecting, they heard ‘Is there anything we can do to help?’ By Jim’s standard you couldn’t ask for a better show of friendship. If Jim’s vision meant what he thought it did, then he and Blair were going to need help. Jim stepped back to close and lock the door beside his desk. “Megan could you lock the other door?” She nodded and did so.

“People, I hope locking the doors isn’t some vain attempt to avoid our visiting ATF agents. Because we do have to meet them.” Declared Simon as he left his office to join the others.

Jim took a deep breath, trying to enjoy the last quiet seconds before the storm. When he finally spoke his voice was clear and unhesitant. “I think there’s another sentinel in Cascade.”

Simon was momentarily stunned into a jaw-dropped silence. Megan on the other hand was cursing profusely. Joel gave a surprised, “You can sense that?” While Rafe wanted to know, “Why is another sentinel a bad thing?”

“Do you think another Alex Barnes would be a good thing?” snapped Megan.

“Alex Barnes, she was a sentinel?” asked Henry. “But she tried to kill Blair.”

“Because Sandy wouldn’t help her once he found out she was a crook,” insisted Megan.

“Does that mean that Blair is in danger?” asked Henry.

Jim met Blair’s studying gaze. “No, Alex hooked up with Blair because she needed someone to teach her how to control her abilities. This new sentinel has a guide. In fact, I think it’s the guide that’s in danger.”

Suddenly the scientist in Blair stepped forward. “Okay, start from the beginning. Tell me what you saw and don’t leave anything out.”

Jim hesitated. It was one thing to admit to his coworkers that he had finally figured out what was bugging him. It was something else to calmly discuss visions and spirit animals.

Blair read his look and demanded. “You said someone was in danger. You can’t just ignore this.”

Knowing Blair was right, Jim plunged forward, trying to pretend that he couldn’t imagine Simon’s reaction to what he was about to say. “The puma cub was pacing the floor…”

“Puma?” whispered Megan.

“A mountain lion,” explained Joel. Both fell silent when Blair shot them a dirty look.

“I’m sorry,” interrupted Rafe, “but you’re describing spirit animals, right?” At Jim’s nod he asked, “So if you saw a cub, does that mean we’re talking about a child?”

“It makes sense,” agreed Blair. “You’re abilities are genetic. You were able to use them for at least part of your childhood.”

Jim tested their idea against the memory of his vision. “I think you’re right. Maybe someone just reaching their teens. Anyway the cub was prowling back forth, every so often batting at a glass wall that held it back.”

“So it was trapped?” Asked Rafe trying to create an image of what Jim had seen.

“No, more like it was on the outside trying to get in,” explained Jim. “On the other side a kit, that’s a baby fox, was trying to get out from under a raccoon. The raccoon was full-grown but it looked sickly. Maybe rabid or diseased.”

“So what you’re telling us,” summarized Simon. “Is that we’ve got two kids somewhere in Cascade. One of whom is going to be attacked by some sick, possibly deranged person. And we have no idea who they are or where to find them.”

“There must be something else,” insisted Blair. “Jim, did you see this in the blue jungle? Was there anything in their surroundings to indicate their location?”

“No. No jungle. They were right here in the bullpen,” replied Jim. He stepped forward to the spot he had seen them. “The raccoon and kit were here. And the cub was pacing right here next to Rafe.

Instantly all eyes in the room were on Rafe. “But I don’t know any kid that can do the things Ellison can do.”

“Gentlemen please, I can understand your wanting to help, and I’m not saying you can’t pursue possible investigative avenues. But, Jim, until you can come up with something a bit more concrete, we need to focus on protecting our city.” Simon’s words brought everyone back to reality. “Right now that means getting ready for our meeting with Larabee and his ATF boys. So get your stuff together and get moving to interview-3. I also think it might be a good idea to show a little hospitality, and maybe for once start our relations with the Feds on the right foot. Any volunteers to run to Sally’s for sandwiches?”

“Sure,” said Rafe, “I could use a stretch.”

The detectives scattered to their various missions, leaving Jim gazing at the space his vision had once occupied. A hand rested gently on his shoulder. “We’ll figure this out Jim, I promise,” swore Blair.

“I know, Chief,” said Jim. “I just hope it’s in time.

Trouble Magnets

“Here’s your mocha latte,” spoke the hurried cashier. Ezra accepted the drink with thanks before sampling the brew.

Several feet away Vin and JD stood waiting on their sandwich order. Vin noticed that Ezra didn’t immediately return to their group, but he tried not to get offended. Ezra had to be getting sick and tired of the way Vin was clinging to him. Heck, Vin was tired of it. Yet every time Ezra moved more than 20 feet from him, Vin was overwhelmed with the panicked certainty that something or someone was going to steal Ezra away.

When Chris and Ezra had each individually asked Vin what was wrong, he hadn’t been able to explain beyond, “I’ve got a bad feeling.” Buck and JD had both tried to distract Vin from his worries. While Josiah and Nathan opted to try to talk the problem out, each believing the true source of Vin’s anxiety had to be the move to Cascade. Vin didn’t think Cascade was the problem. He actually liked the idea of living near both the ocean and the mountains. And he figured if he could survive Denver blizzards then Cascade rain should be easy. If he could just figure out what the threat to Ezra was, then hopefully he could work out a solution. Maybe he should ask JD to verify that Maude Standish was still in jail.

JD shifted closer to Vin to let several other customers by. At that moment, Vin inhaled a strong whiff of gun oil and power. He glanced at JD knowingly. “You cleaned your gun this morning.”

“Last night, actually,” corrected JD. Buck was always harping on gun safety and properly maintaining ones weapons.

Vin frowned, “But I smell a lot of gun oil.”

JD shifted his focus from the cooks preparing their meals to scan the crowd. It didn’t occur to him to dismiss Vin. The boy was young, but he was also uncommonly honest and mature for his age. If he smelled gun oil then there was gun oil. It made sense after all. This deli-restaurant was right across the street from the city’s major police headquarters. There were probably couple officers in here right now. Several feet to JD’s right he noticed a telltale bulge under a man’s jacket. Only the man with the bulge didn’t look like a cop. Not even an undercover or vice cop. He was twitchy, his eyes darting to and fro in a paranoid fashion. And his hand was shifting back and forth under the jacket as if the man were caressing his gun.

“Ezra.” JD called to the teen, motioning for him to join them. Ezra appeared ready to make a comment about leaving before he had his food, but he must have recognized the urgency on JD’s face because he closed his mouth and began to work his way through the lunchtime crowd.

JD own hand moved under his jacket to unsnap a strap on his shoulder harness, making it easier to draw his firearm.

Continuing to watch the nervous stranger JD noticed that he kept looking at the same person. This man, a little to JD’s left, was no taller than JD, but he looked anorexically thin beneath his loose jacket. He was close enough that JD could see that his pupils were dilated, a sure indication that he was high on something. Their altered mental state was probably what caused them to think that robbing a deli, across the street from police headquarters, in broad daylight, during the lunchtime rush was a good idea.

“Vin, I want you to take Ezra and get the hell out of here,” whispered JD. He couldn’t see any uniformed officers to assist him if things went bad. The two men had moved so that they could cover much of the room. The first thief, who JD now thought of as Twitch, glanced towards the door. Shit! There was a third stringy haired man guarding the entrance. Ezra was still trying to make his way past a group of people. And JD was sure they were running out of time.

Adrenalin was already pulsing through his system in preparation for the coming threat. When the three men pulled out their weapons JD registered their actions in slow motion. “Ezra, drop!” shouted JD as he pushed Vin to the ground and covered him partially with his own body. A part of JD’s mind wanted him greet these felons with his own guns blazing, but their numbers and positioning made it suicide. At best he could take out one or two before he himself was filled with lead. And there was also the strong chance that his actions could trigger a massacre.

The three men were shouting for everyone to get down and shut up, while they waved their guns around menacingly. Twitch was already collecting money from one of the cashiers. Criminal number two was pacing back and forth while shouting for quiet. So JD assigned him the nickname Pacer. Criminal number three lounged calmly near the door smirking at the frightened crowd. He struck JD as a man on a power trip and JD nicknamed him Smug.

JD searched for Ezra, finding him a few feet away crouching behind the condiments counter. Certain that both of his charges were at least momentarily okay, JD used his prone position to retrieve his back up .22 from an ankle holster. Between the .22 and his .40 caliber he would have a gun in each hand and more than dozen rounds of ammunition. JD hoped to God the situation didn’t disintegrate into a firefight, but as his Mama had always said, ‘Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst’.

A commotion by the door drew JD’s attention. Smug was now ordering the people around him to give up their valuables. Twitch continued to shout at the cashiers for money while Pacer paced, aiming his pistol at anyone unlucky enough to draw his attention. Hurry up! Thought JD. He knew the longer the armed robbers remained in the deli, the greater the chance of bloodshed. Finally, Twitch took his backpack 1/3 full of cash and headed for the door.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” said Twitch as he joined Smug. Pacer just kept pacing on the far side of the room, apparently unaware that his accomplices were preparing to leave.

“Relax, we’ve got time to snag a few more things,” assured Smug. JD silently cursed the man’s greed. Glancing back at Pacer, JD wished he would join his friends by the door. He’d be better able to cover them if all three thieves were close to each other.

“No, please don’t take my ring,” begged a twenty something brunette. Smug didn’t give the woman a chance to realize the foolishness of arguing with an armed man. He simply pulled the trigger.

The gunshot blast erased all alternatives to a gunfight. JD rose fluidly to one knee, bringing both weapons to bare. Firing simultaneously JD hit Smug with three rounds of his .40 caliber right in the chest. Twitch received the same treatment from the .22. Twitch still managed to fire off a couple of ineffective rounds despite his wounds. So JD shot him again until the man went down. His training told him that he should verify that the gunmen were disabled. But a louder voice was shouting that Pacer could be pointing a gun at his back. Following his instincts JD rolled and spun. His movements jolted a stunned Pacer out of his shock and into action. Pacer dove behind the condiments counter in a vain attempt to hide from JD.

“I’m a federal agent and I am ordering you to come out with your hands raised!” shouted JD in his most commanding voice. “Drop your gun and come out! Don’t make me come after you!” Even as JD spoke he was angling to circle the counter and get a clear view. He hadn’t forgotten that Ezra had been hiding behind that same counter.

“Back off!” came a shout from behind the counter. “You back off, or I’m going to kill this kid.” A few seconds later Pacer appeared with Ezra as his human shield. The gun held to the boys head demanded compliance. “Now, you’re going to put your gun down, and let us walk out of here,” insisted Pacer with false bravado.

“That’s not going to happen,” countered JD. TV might show cops surrendering their weapons in hostage situations, but the cold hard truth was that 4 out of 5 cops who surrendered their guns in real life ended up shot. Many were shot with their own weapons and too few were able to survive the encounter. JD was smart enough to know that he couldn’t help Ezra if he was dead. “Right now you're just making things harder for yourself. You need to let the boy go before someone else gets hurt.”

“Before someone else gets hurt? You killed my friends and now you’re trying to kill me!” The panicked gunman dragged Ezra towards the door.

JD shadowed their movements the whole way. He could feel Vin standing beside him, but focused all of his attention and both of his guns on Pacer. He noticed that twice now Pacer had let the gun drop a bit before bringing it back up to Ezra’s temple. JD decided that if the gun dropped enough that Ezra was out of range he would try to take Pacer out with a ‘kill shot’. Forcing his voice to a calm reasonable level, JD said, “I didn’t want this fight. I was completely ready to let you and your friends take the money and run. Your friends wrecked that when they started shooting hostages.”

“This is all Joe’s fault,” declared Pacer suddenly. He looked down at his fallen companions and became upset again. “Hey, I ain’t leaving here with nothing. I want that backpack full of money.”

“I’d be happy to trade the money for the boy,” said JD. Looking through the glass door behind Pacer, JD could see that the gunfire had drawn attention. What looked like a police detective and several uniform cops were clearing the sidewalk and street. They probably didn’t want to charge the building because of the risk to civilians. But if JD could maneuver Pacer into going outside he would be overwhelmed and forced to surrender. Getting outside was Ezra’s best chance for survival.

“No way, “ said Pacer. “I’ll let go of the kid when I get to my car. Now give me the money!” Pacer’s hold tightened, making Ezra wince.

Knowing his primary goal was to get Pacer out of the deli and onto the street where law enforcement could better control the scene, JD decided to placate the man. “Vin, I want you to pick up the backpack and hand it over.” Vin did as he was told all the while being careful to stay out of JD’s line of fire. It was amazing how much a child could learn about tactics from a couple of games of ‘water fight’. Especially when the water fight was being played with two former Seals, a retired Ranger and a former Marine medic.

When Vin held the bag out to Pacer the man realized that he couldn’t take the money without letting go of either his gun or his hostage. “Take the bag,” he ordered Ezra. Ezra did so, meeting Vin’s eyes for a long silent second. JD wasn’t sure what passed between the boys, but whatever it was seemed to reassure Ezra a bit. Pacer also relaxed. He had a gun, a hostage, and the money. He was sure all of his troubles would be over as soon as he got out the door. “Don’t follow us,” said Pacer. Pacer walked backwards towards the exit, pulling Ezra with him. JD held his position and hoped that the police outside were ready. Pacer backed his way out the door and was just starting to turn when a hand sprung out forcing Pacer’s gun up and away from Ezra. JD leapt forward to help.


Rafe stopped for a moment and enjoyed the warm sunshine. In his pocket was a list of what everyone in Major Crimes wanted as well as half a dozen extra sandwiches for the visiting ATF team. Rafe couldn’t help but think about the things Jim had revealed just minutes ago. He had figured that Jim was too private of a person to ever openly discuss his uncommon gifts. That Jim had relaxed enough to just do what he could do and not hide what he was showed a lot of trust. Especially for a man that had once been betrayed by his commanding officer and left to die in the jungle. That Jim had visions and could see spirit animals was also a revelation. The man was so straight, that it was hard to believe. Then Rafe remember another case where Jim admitted that he thought he had seen a ghost. Rafe, as well as, Henry and Joel had all teased Jim quite a bit. Rafe decided that he should apologize later.

A burst of firecracker like pops pulled Rafe out of his musings. Identifying the source Rafe bolted across the street. As he neared the deli he crouched low below the windows. Hearing a break in the gunfire Rafe peered over the windowsill. He saw a young man aiming two guns at someone behind a counter. “I’m a federal agent and I am ordering you to come out with your hands raised!” Rafe didn’t hear any response. “Drop your gun and come out! Don’t make me come after you!” A few seconds later Rafe saw a thin man of medium height rise from behind the counter. A teenage boy was pinned to his chest with a gun to his head.

“What’s the status?” asked a uniformed cop who had crept up next to Rafe.

“We’ve got a hostage situation. One Perp holding a gun to a boy’s head. There’s a Fed in there trying to back him down. But if he can’t, we need containment. Cover all exits to this building, clear the street and get us some backup.” The Officer nodded and took off. Rafe pulled out his cellular phone and dialed Blair’s number.


Blair was finishing up some last minute notes when someone stopped next to his desk. “Excuse me. Could you tell me where Captain Banks is?” asked a tall blonde man. There was a definite air of command to him, which made Blair wonder if he was part of the new ATF team, maybe even its leader. The typical suit that most Feds wore was noticeable absent. Instead the blonde wore fitted black pants, a dark green dress shirt and a black vest. No suit jacket. No tie.

Before Blair could answer Simon stepped forward. “Is there something I can help you with?”

“I’m Chris Larabee. I’ll be taking over ATF operations for Cascade and the surrounding area.” Chris offered his hand. “I know this is short notice but I’ve got a favor to ask before our meeting gets started.” When Simon raised an eyebrow in silent inquiry Chris continued. “I was planning on leaving my two boys with a sitter since I figured I’d be pulling an all-nighter this evening. But when the woman the domestic agency recommended showed up, she reeked of marijuana.”

“You’re joking.” Simon was amazed that someone would be stupid enough to show up to any law enforcement officer’s home smelling like an illegal substance.

“Needless to say I’m not willing to trust anyone else the domestic agency recommends,” continued Chris. “The boys are 11 and 13, which puts them at an age where they really don’t need a babysitter that much. But the move to Cascade has been hard on them, especially Vin. And I’m not willing to leave them alone in a strange city just yet.”

“Not a problem,” assured Simon. “I used to bring my own son here on occasion. In fact, I know I’ve got at least one of his old computer games in my desk drawer. Where are your boys now?”

“I sent them with one of my agents on a food run to the deli across the street. I figured a good meal might help contribute to everyone’s ability to co-operate,” Chris explained.

Simon chuckled. “Great minds must think alike. I sent one of my detectives down to Sally’s with the exact same thought in mind. How about I introduce you to some of my people while we’re waiting on our food?”

As Simon and Chris moved across the bullpen towards Joel, Blair’s cell phone rang. Recognizing Rafe’s number Blair answered, “I wanted the turkey on rye, Brian.”

“Blair, I think I’ve found the child guide that’s in danger,” said Rafe.

Blair picked up a desk paperweight and slammed it down hard twice, gathering the attention of everyone in the bullpen. “I’m listening Rafe, go on.” Jim moved closer to hear Rafe and relay what was said to the others.

“I’m just outside Sally’s Deli, where there have been shots fired, looking at more than 20 hostages and three bodies, maybe dead. One body looks like a victim, another looks like a Perp. Can’t see enough of the third to tell which it is. There’s a man who identified himself as a Federal Agent, in a face off with another Perp. I don’t recognize the Fed. He could be ATF. The Perp is holding the Fed off with a gun to the head of a teen-age boy. The Perp is also acting wired and erratic. I’m pretty sure he’s high on something. He’d likely kill the kid if we rushed him.

After Jim relayed the last bit, Agent Larabee moved forward. “Does the boy have short red-brown hair and a red jacket?” Chris asked.

Blair’s eyes snapped from his partner to Larabee, as he passed the question to Rafe. When Blair nodded yes a second later the agent’s only noticeable reaction was to clinch his jaw.

“One of your sons,” Simon guessed.

“Ezra,” confirmed Chris. “Vin’s been tense the last couple of days. Said he had a feeling that Ezra was in some sort of danger.” With that, Chris turned for the door. He needed to get as close to his boys as possible.

Jim and Simon shared a look as both concluded that Larabee’s sons were almost certainly the sentinel and guide they’d been discussing moments before.

“Joel, I want you and Conner to stay here. Pass on the situation when Larabee’s team arrives. Brown you’re with us,” ordered Simon.

Jim led the detectives out of the bullpen. Noticing an impatient Larabee waiting for the elevator, he shouted, “The stairs!” The five men moved down the stairwell. They had just reached the last flight when they heard Blair assure Rafe, “I’m still listening.” Several seconds later Jim broke from their quick jog to a flat-out run. Blair announced, “The hostage taker is going for the exit!”

Jim slammed the stairwell doors open. Simon roared, “Clear a path!” As people moved out of the way Chris shifted into a sprint, praying he wouldn’t, once again, arrive too late to save a son.


Rafe had been glad to know the others were on the way. But when he saw the Perp dragging the boy to the door, he knew time had run out. He spared a second to tell Blair and then tucked away his cell phone. A quick hand signal warned the growing number of police on the street that the situation was changing. Rafe was amazed to realize that the Perp never looked out the window he was approaching, to see if the earlier gunfire had drawn attention. Whether the cause of the lapse was due to drugs or stupidity, Rafe intended to use the error to his advantage. As the door swung open, the normally busy street was so unnaturally quiet that the whoosh of the door was all that Rafe could hear. Waiting for just the right second Rafe sprung forward. He wound his fingers around the gun hand of the Perp and pulled it sharply up before it could be fired. Rafe’s other arm wrapped around the thin neck. He yanked the Perp’s head back ordering, “Release the boy and drop your weapon!”

“No, no!” shouted the Perp. “It’s my money!” He held his prisoner tight.

Rafe felt the young teen struggling to free himself. He also heard the thunder of feet as other officers rushed to his aid. With a sudden jerk the boy was gone. Then a new body entered the fray, knocking all three to the ground. The Perp’s curse of, “Fucking Fed” told Rafe who the new combatant was.

“I’m gonna kill you!” declared the Perp. He fought Rafe’s grip, bringing the weapon to bare on the Fed. Realizing he couldn’t stop the Perp from firing, Rafe adjusted his grip. He grunted when the gun’s firing pin slammed into the muscle and flesh between his thumb and index finger. Feeling other officers join the struggle, Rafe shouted, “Get the gun!” The firing pin hammered into his hand two more times before it was yanked away. Tearing more than a bit of skin in the process. The suspect continued to struggle, but with several officers assisting he was easily turned onto his stomach and restrained.

Rafe moved back, letting others take over the situation. He wrapped a handkerchief around his bloody and throbbing hand. Then he searched for the boy hostage. He found the boy in the tight embrace of the young Federal Agent and another boy. The second boy had wavy light brown hair, alert blue eyes and a worn leather jacket that had clearly seen better days.

The Fed was speaking with Sergeant McGuire over the heads of the boys. “I shot two other thieves after they shot a woman. I didn’t get a chance to check their condition.” Rafe’s glance at the deli showed a good number of cops already inside with a good concentration around where he had seen the bodies.

“I hope everyone is alright,” said Rafe as he stepped forward to offer his hand and a reassuring smile. “I’m Detective Brian Rafe.”

JD recognized the man that had attacked Pacer and allowed him to free Ezra. He took the man’s hand eagerly. “JD Dunne, ATF. Thank you for your help.” The words were simple but heartfelt.

“I’m just glad I arrived when I did,” said Rafe.

“So am I. This is Vin Tanner Larabee and Ezra Standish,” said JD giving the boys a squeeze. Ezra let out a small moan. JD and Vin both pulled back to give Ezra a closer look. “Hell! I dislocated your shoulder again when I pulled you away from that idiot,” JD guessed.

“No! I… You… He had a gun. He could have killed you. But you didn’t let him take me.” Ezra’s voice was shaky with disbelief.

JD turned to look Ezra directly in the eyes, “You’re family now Ezra. I will never let anything or anyone take you from us. Not if I can stop it.” JD leaned forward to rest his forehead against Ezra’s. “That’s a promise.” Ezra accepted the words in silence. His tremors seemed to ease a bit. Rafe felt embarrassingly like a voyeur as he watched the intensely emotional exchange.

“Ezra!” The shout came from across the street from a tall blonde dressed in black.

“Let him through, he’s ATF!” shouted Simon when a few foolhardy officers tried to block his access to the crime scene.

Vin suddenly stiffened and stepped in front of Ezra. “You can’t take Ezra,” he whispered.

It took Rafe a second to realize that Vin wasn’t responding to the blonde, but Jim Ellison who had been half a step behind. He must have heard the boy’s whisper because Jim skidded to a stop and raised his hands in a gesture of surrender.

JD was relieved to see his boss and reunite the boys with their father. “Be careful,” warned JD. “I was a bit too rough when I freed Ezra. I may have separated his shoulder.”

Chris was appropriately cautious when he took his son into his arms. “We’ll find Nathan and have him take a look.” Chris looked at his youngest agent and said, “Thank you, JD. Thank you for protecting my boys.”

JD both blushed and preened at his hero’s words. “I can’t take all the credit. Detective Rafe, here, gave me the opening I needed.”

Chris examined the dressy, if somewhat disheveled, detective. “If you ever need a favor...,” Chris offered.

“Thank you, sir. But I’m afraid I may be needing that favor sooner than you expect.” Rafe stepped around Larabee to Vin who was still watching Jim nervously. “He's not here to hurt you or take Ezra away. Jim’s a friend.” Rafe tried to reassure the boy.

“You know him?” asked Vin.

“Yes, Detective Ellison works with me in Major Crimes. He’s one of the best cops this city has got. I trust him with my life,” said Rafe. “The short curly haired guy next to him is Blair Sandburg, his partner.” As he spoke Rafe’s own partner as well as his captain came up beside him.

“What’s wrong Vin?” asked Chris. He had noticed Vin’s protective stance, but had taken it to be a delayed reaction to the hostage situation.

Vin looked from Rafe, the man who had just help save Ezra, to Ellison, the man who was making the buzzing in his head louder than ever. “Nothing, I guess. He can come closer if he wants.” The last words were said grudgingly.

Jim and Blair walked over slowly. As police continued to flow in and out of the deli no one seemed to notice the tension in the group. Jim decided he needed to be the one to take the first step. “I bet you’ve had a tingling in your head that’s been driving you crazy the last couple of days. I know it’s been bugging me.” Vin remained silent, though his stance seemed a bit more considering. “The last time I had this feeling I crossed paths with a lady who was very intent on breaking the law and hurting a lot of people. So I guess I’ll just ask you outright. Are you planning on stealing any toxic nerve gas?”

Vin found the question so absurd his only response was to snort.

“No? What about breaking into a high tech laboratory?”

“And get grounded for the rest of my life?” countered the 11-year-old Vin.

“Beyond grounded,” assured Chris.

“Work with terrorists?” Jim continued.

“Hell no,” said Vin.

“Hurt my partner?” asked Jim.

“She did all of those things?” asked Vin. At Jim’s nod Vin said. “I’ve got no desire to hook up with that sort of trouble. There’s already too much hurting in the world.”

“In that case, I’d like to welcome you and your family to Cascade.” Jim offered his hand, waiting patiently while Vin considered it. When their hands touch both Sentinels felt the tingling and buzzing in their heads cease.

The moment was broken when Chris stepped between the two. “I’d like you to explain what your connection to Vin is now.” Larabee’s voice was quiet, but everyone felt the ice in his tone.

Jim found himself pleased with Larabee’s protective actions. Both boys were going to need strong protectors until they were old enough to take care of themselves. Especially if Ezra was as much of a trouble magnet as Blair was. “We should talk somewhere private. We also need to get Rafe’s hand and Ezra’s shoulder looked at. Why don’t we call Joel and Conner? Let them know the crisis has been handled and ask them to shut off the security devices in Interview 3. The topic of our meeting has drastically changed.”

Everyone seemed to agree and the members of Major Crimes, ATF Team 7 and two boys headed for the precinct.

“It’s gone isn’t it?” asked Blair. “I bet that bad feeling of yours disappeared the instant you shook hands. Jim, do you realize the implications?”

“Save your theories for the meeting,” Jim attempted to direct Blair’s attention. He had no doubt his partner would be in seventh heaven with a brand new audience to explain his knowledge and ideas to. Watching the boys walk ahead of him, Vin’s hand steady on Ezra’s back, Jim felt a sudden compulsion. “Welcome to my tribe, young sentinel and guide.” The quick smiling glance Vin sent over his shoulder showed the boy had heard.

The End