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Until Proven; "Lost" Sentinel Episode 1.
Topic Started: May 16 2010, 03:35 PM (246 Views)
Ertia
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OOC: I started writing "Sentinel" fic years and years ago, but none of it has ever been published anywhere until now. Even though I'm rewriting much of this story as I go and as I update it for publication, it still must be considered part of my "early fanfic" work, and maybe not to the standards you may be used to from me.
This story is fairly dark and contains subject matter that may make some readers uncomfortable, so please read with that in mind. :)

This is the "Virtual Season" Episode 1.

Summary: Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg must come to terms with the possibility that a friend has commited an unimaginable crime.






UNTIL PROVEN
Part 1: Players



The warehouse was dark, all of the appearance of abandonment. The two week status of the stake-out had finally been redeemed by the arrival of the suspects.

From the back, Detective James Ellison waved to the slowly approaching SWAT team.

"I dunno, Jim, looks awful dark." Captain Simon Bank's voice murmured through the headset.

"I hear voices." Jim hissed back, low and soft. Turning down the earpiece, he focused on the voices inside, his enhanced hearing delineating the tones, counting the different voices.

"I can't hear a thing..." Beside Jim, Rafe whispered, his dark hair and tactical gear blending into the shadows so that only his pale blue eyes trailed over the scene, "How can..."

At Jim's wave, the younger detective fell silent, turning intently towards the darkened building that hulked in the desperate shadows of criminal intent. He'd worked with Jim long enough to know that when the man said he heard something, it wasn't a lie.

"There's three." Jim confirmed suddenly, "Move in." With a single raise of his hand, the SWAT team closed in. Shots were fired, then silence dropped it's shield over the block. In moments, two handcuffed suspects were led out, while the medical team dashed in to see if there was a chance of saving the third fool who had taken a shot at the crack crime team.

Later, back at the Cascade PD Major Crimes unit, it was a celebratory atmosphere. The deal had taken a good amount of drugs off the street and taken down two of the major players in the Cascade heroin ring they'd been tracking for months. Jim was disappointed they hadn't caught the ringleaders, but for all accounts it was a solid bust.

"Where's Sandburg?" Simon asked, holding his hand out for the carefully typed up reports, "Figured he'd have been here for the finale. After all, it was his research brought things together. Hadn't been for him, we would have been chasing our tails on this for months. Don't tell him I said that."

"He wanted to be here but he's working at the university. Start of term, a pile of new students." Jim answered as he closed the last folder. "I'm on my way home. Just got time to catch the start of the game."

"Care to wager a lunch?" Simon's white grin gleamed down through the smoke of his celebratory cigar to the stack of collected IOUs on his desk-top.

"Don't you still owe me pizza from the last game?" Jim chuckled, threw a wave at Simon and another at Rafe, and headed home. All he wanted was a hot shower, and a good long rest.

As he opened the door to the apartment, a soft giggling met his ears, and he peaked his hearing to hear Sandburg's voice softly murmuring, "No, really, just relax. It works..."

Great. All Jim wanted to do was kick back and watch the game and Blair, worlds worst room-mate, had company.

"You kids mind takin' this to your room?" He grumbled as he opened the door, "Game starts in ten." Glancing down, he found the pair lying side by side on the floor, pillows under their heads, blue denim-clad legs stretched in the air over their heads.

"Hey, Jim." Blair, completely unhindered at being discovered in a bizzare, albeit surprisingly nonsexual position, on the living room floor, greeted Jim with a grin. "This is Kelly. I invited her over to watch the game."

"Oh. Is that what you were doing?" Jim frowned at Blair then managed a tight-lipped smile at Kelly. Grinning upside down at Jim, he could see that she had blue eyes, wore jeans and plain blue t-shirt, and her blond hair was pulled back in a rough pony-tail that splayed across the rug in velvety strands.

"Not right that moment!" Kelly grinned, pulling up into a half-lotus, her heart-shaped face slightly pinked. She was cute. Not-oh-baby-hot- like so many of Blair's conquests, but cute, in a girl-next-door-with-pigtails kind of adorable. "Blair was showing me some yoga positions. I spend too much time at my desk. Good to finally meet you, Jim. Pizza's on the way."

"Yoga, huh?" Jim grouched disbelievingly. It had been a long long week and he didn't really feel like having his space invaded by college bums drinking his beer and eating... his... He stared into the fridge in amazement. The beer shelf was fully stocked.

Kelly's voice answered his surprised look back at the pair, a grin on the face that Jim's detective brain now classified as honest, "I didn't know if you liked dark or light, so I brought both porter and IPA."

"Right." Maybe this girl wasn't half bad after all? "Thanks. IPA is great. I'm gonna grab a quick shower before kick-off."

When he emerged from the steam, dressed in black sweatpants and a grey Cascade Police Benefit t-shirt, the pizza had just arrived. Fully realizing Blairs taste in junk-food never coincided with his own, Jim grumbled as he watched Blair tip the delivery guy, "I suppose that's vegetarian, whole wheat, cucumber and avocado or something?"

But even as he spoke, his nose told him there was meat in that box. Spicy, glorious fatty meat.

With a cheeky wink that lit up her eyes, Kelly opened the box and tilted it for his approval, "Blair TRIED! But I'm strictly a pepperoni, sausage, olives and extra cheese kinda gal."

"I made salad, though." Blair tried to pitch in, holding up a bowl of rough cut greens mixed with celery and tomato. "Don't neglect the value of fresh gree..."

The unmistakeable brass rumble echoed from the TV, interrupting Blair's health food recommendations.

"Game!" Kelly grabbed a slice of pizza from the box and launched herself over the back of the sofa to land with a bounce, "There's my man Riddley!"

"Harvin Riddley, the best quarterback in ..."

"FOREVER!" The bright eyed young woman interrupted Jim with a grin, "Got him to sign my jersey at the opening of the new sports bar downtown. Man, can he run!"

Eyes met over Blair's head, and Jim grinned back at her. Maybe this was gonna be okay after all. Blair, stuck between the two of them on the sofa, pulled out his lecture notes, and tried to ignore the ongoing discussion of masculine sports. Jim, increasingly surprised, suddenly discovered he was having fun. Kelly knew the game, knew the players, and she was bright and pretty to boot.

It was midway through the third quarter when the phone rang and Blair used the excuse to escape the pair who were madly cheering a twenty yard down. "Hellowwww... Yeah. She's here, Davida."

The narrow-eyed glance that Kelly shot over the back of the sofa was less than pleasant, "Tell her I'll be home as soon as the game's over, Blair."

"Yeah. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Look, Davida, you have something to say, you should probably tell Kel... Yeah. Okay. All right." Blair hung up and sighed. Dutifully, he recited, "Davida says come straight home after the game, and maybe next time you could call and tell her you'll be late."

"Who is this Davida?" Jim asked with a frown, "Your mother? You're a little old to have apron strings tied around you."

Kelly shrugged and slipped past Blair to put her empty beer bottle in the sink, "Thanks guys, I better split before she has a cow. Thanks for letting me watch the game here."

"No problem." Jim leaped in over Blair's platitudes, "They play the Bears next week. Wanna come by?"

"Yeah." Kelly beamed for an instant, her face lighting up, "Yeah, I'd like that. Catch you guys later!"

"What was that all about?" Jim asked as he listened to her footsteps fade down the hallway and into the elevator.

Blair just shrugged and returned to his notes. Jim, just glad to be home and done with the day, let it go.

Monday night football games became regular rituals at the Prospect Place apartment, but it didn't take long for a pattern to emerge. Sometime right after half-time, the phone would ring. By the end of third quarter, Kelly would usually be on her way out the door with apologetic farewells.

One night, shortly after Kelly left, the phone rang. Jim, finding himself closest, managed to turn down the tv and answer on the second ring, "Hello?"

"Blair?"

"No, this is Jim. Blair's right..." Jim's voice dropped off as the woman on the other end of the line continued, "No, sorry. Kelly left about twenty minutes ago." He glanced over at Blair as the conversation, if it could be called that, continued, "Ellison. Jim Ellison. ... Who is this again? Yeah, all right. If I hear from her I'll call you."

He hung up with a bewildered shake of his head. "That was Davida, looking for Kelly."

"Yeah. She's getting downright freaky." Blair shrugged, "Those two seemed so perfect together at first, but lately, I gotta wonder, man."

"Together? They're a ..."

"A couple, man." Blair grinned as realization dawned on Jim's face, "Been together about a year now. I've known Kelly a long time and I never saw her so happy. They seemed really good together, you know. Davida's just going through some stuff lately."

"Yeah, women." Jim sighed, his attention already turned back to the tube. So Kelly was a girls kinda girl? That explained a lot. "Guess I won't be asking Kelly out to the movies on Friday, then."

"You're just not her type." Blair just chuckled, "Sorry, man. Bruce Willis, though...She and Davida both love Bruce Willis. If it's 'Die Hard' maybe we should all go?"

"Yeah. Maybe." Jim took a long pull on his beer, but found himself glancing over at Blair, "So what else don't I know about Kelly?"

"She and Davida have a band. An act really. Kind of an Indigo Girls thing, but better. They play the local clubs and coffeeshops." Blair glanced over at his room-mate, "Next time they have a gig, we'll go."

Edited by Ertia, May 17 2010, 10:14 PM.
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Until Proven
Part 2: Dead Davida



The strident ringing of the phone ripped Jim from a dead sleep and he yelled for Blair to answer, but with little hope. Crawling from the warmth of his bed, the trickle of rain loud on the windows, he managed to grab the phone. Five A.M., the red gleam of the alarm clock alerted him, and Jim scrubbed fingers into his eye-sockets as Simon's deep voice edged straight through his earplugs.

"Ellison. Need you and Sandburg down here to 23rd Street."

"Yeah, on my way." Jim answered, barely registering the rest of the details as he pulled on clothes and clipped his gun into his belt. Blair, wakened by his yell, was already pulling his unruly long curls into a pony-tail and yanking on his hiking boots.

A cold drizzly dawn covered Cascade, greeting them with bitter damp as Jim steered the truck through the drive-through coffee stand and handed Blair over his Sumatran blend and a danish. "Simon said it looks like a hate crime, so we catch it instead of homocide. CSI is already on on scene, but he's holding 'em back until we get there."

Flipping on the red and blues, Jim pushed down the street towards the gathering crowd of cops, cars and bystanders. When they'd gone as far as they could, he gave up and braked. Blair hopped out of the truck, eyes searching the entire scene. "Whoa. This is Sevens, the club where Kelly's band plays. I've only been by here at night. Looks different in the daytime."

They made their way through the tape to the front of the club where Simon was talking to the forensics team and greeted them with a frown, "This one's ugly, Jim. If it's what it looks like, we're gonna have every hard core lesbian in the city marching on City Hall."

Gesturing, he pointed over the curb-barrier.

The scent of blood and death drew Jim's gaze to body of a young women. She was spread -eagled before the doors. Short cropped dark hair framed a bruised mis-shapen face, and her naked body, muscular and athletic, was covered with a variety of other marks. Her hands had been pulled over her head, rope still tied around the wrists. Blood streaked her thighs and stomach, and with it was painted the word "whore" across her abdomen, dragged from the two bulletholes that erupted from her upper chest.

"Oh man." Blair's voice was a low groan.

"Just keep breathin', Chief." Jim squatted down, his eyes tracing the body, seeking what was invisible to the naked eye.

"No. It's not that." The voice of the anthropologist was a stunned mutter.

"You know her?" Simon asked from behind.

"Yeah. So do you Jim." Blair had turned away, his gaze on the dim grey clouded sky, "Over the phone anyway." His sigh was a long whisper, "That's Davida Kasenberg, Kelly's girlfriend."

Jim cringed, his eyes still on the body. Slowly, he took in the minute traces invisible to all but the most accute eye. The thick lines tracing the bloody words written on the pale skin, the battered face, the open brown eyes that seemed to stare into the grey sky as though begging to be washed clean of the stains of the crime against her. The rope was new, or nearly new, four strand white poly. Her wrists were purple and swollen against the damp gleam of the rope- she'd been alive for some time after being bound, and she'd fought hard.

Finally, Jim ended his study, and looked immediately to Simon, "Simon, if you want us off the case, I understand. But I'd like to keep working it."

"Who's this Kelly?" Simon asked, brows raised, but he was already physically conceding. Jim could see it in the miniscule tension of his throat, the sudden relaxing of his shoulders.

"A friend of ours." Blair was deliberately turned away from the mutilated body, his gaze lost somewhere in the flashing blue and reds that surrounded them, "Kelly Ryan. She's... A friend."

"Sandburg? You think you can stay objective on this?" Simon asked, deliberately doubtful. There was no way in hell, but he had to ask.

"I ... I dunno, Captain." Blair answered softly, "I mean, Davida's my friend. And Kelly. I ... Oh, god, Simon? Do you think they killed her because of her relationship with Kelly? That this was..."

"What else would you call it, Blair?" Simon barked, but there was sympathy in his dark eyes, "Killed like that? Displayed right in front of the club like that? This is a hate crime."

"You think they killed her for her sexual preferences?" Jim asked, crystal blue eyes narrowed to a cold glare. "Is that even feasible? Cascade's always been more open than a lot of other cities."

"Well, there's always someone who's willing to go to extremes." Blair answered, the anthropologist coming to the fore, shunting back the grief and distress for the moment, "Hate crimes based on sexuality are prevalent in every city in the US. Ingrained moral judgements can cause people to act out..."

"I think we should start with the obvious factors," Simon interrupted. "Who were her acquaintances, did she have any enemies. What about her girlfriend?"

"Kelly! She doesn't even know yet, does she? We have to call her!" Blair was scrambling for his cel-phone.

Jim dropped a hand on Blair's shoulder, "Whoa, chief. I'm not sure we're the best ones to handle this."

"Handle what? Jim? She's our friend! We can't just sit here... What if they got her, too? What if Kelly's dead? Or dying right now! We have to do something!"

Jim took Blair's phone, finding Kelly and Davida's home number in the directory and dialing it. The moment Kelly's voice, groggy and soft, answered, he hung up again. "She's at home."

"Go. Talk to her." Simon was getting just a mite tired of running interference. "But you know the drill. Anything looks fishy, bring her in."

"Kelly didn't do this.." Jim stopped and looked to Blair, realizing they'd spit out the mantra together, word for word.

"You two need a break from each other." Simon grunted, turning back to the M.E. as they prepared to remove the body, "You're starting to sound alike."

Blair was silent as they climbed into the truck, "She's gonna take this hard, Jim. Really hard. She practically worshiped Davida."

"I dunno, Chief." Jim answered, "Davida seemed kind of controlling to me, jealous maybe. Maybe something..."

"I don't like where you're going with this." Blair interrupted, voice dark. Jim could smell the cheese danish that sat uneaten on the dashboard, both of their appetites lost to the emotions of the morning.

"We have to look at everything." He muttered in apologetic explanation before waving at the pastries, "Get rid of those. I can't stand the smell."
Edited by Ertia, May 17 2010, 10:14 PM.
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Until Proven
Part 3: Bottomless



The off-campus apartment shared by Kelly and Davida was on the second floor of a small concrete block apartment building. Before Blair could even knock on the door it was flung open and a tearful Kelly Ryan was framed by the pale blue painted wood, still in lavender and pink plaid flannel pajamas.

Bloodshot blue eyes widened, her hopeful smile of greeting fading into instant sorrow and confusion, "Blair? Jim? I thought...I thought you were Davida. She didn't come home last night."

Jim and Blair exchanged a quick look and Jim lightly touched the pajama'd young womans shoulder, steering her gently back inside, "Kelly, I'm sorry. Maybe you better have a seat."

She jerked from under Jim's hand, spinning back inside, "I don't want a seat! I just want..." Some kind of realization dawned on her face as she caught the sympathetic, almost pitying look on Blair's face, "Omigod! She left me, didn't she? She's left me and didn't even..."

"No. No, Kel. Come on." Blair guided her back towards an overstuffed armchair covered with a colorful granny square afghan. "She wouldn't do that..."

"Kelly, I'm sorry..." Jim tried again, deliberately opening his jacket so that she could see the badge clipped on his belt, "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I'm here in an official capacity."

New confusion crossed the pale heart-shaped face, expression shifting as she hunted her mind for new explanations, "She's been arrested? I called missing persons three times last night! Wouldn't they have told me if she was..."

"Yeah. No. Davida hasn't been arrested." Jim squated down in front of the chair, reaching out to cover one of her hands in his, feeling it's chill smooth surface like ice in his fingers, "There's no easy way to say this, Kelly, but Davida is dead. She was killed last night."

"No." Kelly shook her head, blue eyes wide, her bangs covering her face as she shoved back into the chair, "No! You're lying! You're LYING! She's just... she's late. She'll call!"

With more force than Jim would have expected from such a slight creature, Kelly pushed him away and dove past him, grabbed the phone, punching buttons, "I'm calling her cel again. She's always got her cell..."

Blair came around the counter and gently pulled the phone from her hand, "Davida's phone weill be down at the station for forensics. I'm sorry, Kelly...I'm so sorry. I saw her body myself. I was the one who ID'd her. We came straight over."

Empty blue eyes met Blair's for a moment, then Kelly simply collapsed against him, a scream of rage and grief rising in her throat.

It took half an hour to quiet her grief, and she finally shrugged them away to go take a shower and get dressed. Jim took advantage of the time to look around the apartment. Numerous photographs covered the surface of the refrigerator, many of Davida, holding a racquet, wearing a sports uniform, hanging with a group of women in similar dress.

There were a few of Kelly with an older man that Jim assumed, from the shock of blond hair, to be her father, in one both were wearing red flannel and holding rifles over a dead buck.

None were obviously of Davida with her family. There were only two of Kelly and Davida together; one onstage at some club with Kelly at the microphone and Davida with a guitar, and the other with both of them sticking their tongues out at the photographer.

"I took that one." Blair said softly, reaching out as though to touch Davida's arm. "It was a staff picnic on campus. Davida played racquetball. She's gone to the nationals the past two years. Really competitive."

"Huh." Jim scanned the bookshelf, filled with everything from titles like "Women Who Run With The Wolves" and "Inner Goddess" to the latest Dan Brown and Danielle Steele novels. He thumbed one of the romance titles off the shelf, strangely surprised to find such normal literature.

"Davida hates those." Kelly whispered from behind him and Jim straightened, sliding the book back on the shelf. "She says I'm giving into the populist idea of degradation of women. I ...just think they're kind of fun, you know."

"Kelly, when was the last time you saw Davida?" Jim asked, his eyes not meeting hers, but instead traipsing over the shelving once more.

"Yesterday. We had a gig at the club, and after...I came home. Davida wanted to stay." Kelly hugged her arms around herself, but Blair offered her a cup of tea and wrapped her afghan over her shoulders. "Our set ended at nine, and I was tired..."

"And you came straight home?"

"Yeah. No. I stopped at the drug store and picked up some stuff- bubble bath, toothpaste."

"Was anyone with Davida when you left the club?" Jim asked as casually as possible.

"Andrea and Rian..Rian's on the racquetball team with D." A quiet sip of tea and Kelly's voice turned pleading, "How did she die?"

"We'll need Andrea and Rian's contact information. We don't really know enough yet. We'll know more after the ME's report." Jim diverted quickly before Blair could give any details of the crime, "Did Davida have any enemies you know of?"

"Enemies?" Disbelief rode in the depths of the young woman's gaze as she stared at him as though seeing him for the first time, "You mean the kind who would kill her? No! I mean ... The racquetball court can get brutal, but that's just the sound of competition! You know how it is."

"You two have been having problems lately?" Jim asked softly, turning to catch her full reaction.

"Yeah. But that was my fault." Kelly looked down at the floor, hands clenched around the tea-cup in her hands, "She's been under a lot of stress with school and all, and I've been ..."

"Out with the guys?" Jim insinuated, but Kelly just stared at him.

"Are you suggesting I was cheating on her?"

"No." Blair jumped in quickly, "No, not at all."

"I ... can't talk to you right now. I ... God, Jim! I can't believe you'd suggest..." Sobs hitched up in Kelly's throat and she backed away from them, leaving only the sweet scent of Earl Grey hanging in the air between them.

"Whoa, Calm down." Jim murmured placatingly. He was betraying her, and he knew it. Dammit, there was a better way than this, wasn't there? He held out both hands, pleading, "Kel, we have to ask these things, okay? It's just, she called the house a couple times looking for you..."

"I loved her. Sure, things got rocky. They get rocky for everyone!" Kelly rattled, dropping her teacup into the sink with carelessness that clatttered in Jim's ears like a denial, "I love Davida. She's... she's the best part of me. Please, find who took her away from me?"

There was such helplessness in the quiet plea, the whimpered words of a child from whom her favorite toys have been taken. And Jim's heart melted. Quickly, he pulled Kelly into a hug, then drew back to rest a comforting hand on her shoulder, his ice blue eyes holding her reddened gaze, "We'll find them. I promise you, we'll find them."

The ring of his cel-phone had him stepping back. "Yeah?"

Simon's voice filled the reciever, "The girlfriend, Kelly Elaine Ryan? She's got a .45 Colt registered in her name. Guess what caliber those wounds are? Bring her in, Jim."

"Sir, I really don't think she's the one." Jim hissed as quietly as possible.

"Thinking's got nothing to do with it. Ask her where her gun is. And bring her in." Simon snapped, then his voice softened, "Look, the mayor and the commissioner are concerned about this one. There's already a mob gathering in front of the club, and this is gonna hit the five o'clock news like a freight train. Pressure's on to prove this was an isolated incident."

Jim sighed, and hung up, glancing significantly to Blair. "Kelly, we're going to have to ask you to come downtown with us. Can you put your shoes on please?"

"Downtown? For questioning?" Kelly stared at him, the only recently regained trust gone again from her eyes, "You think I could hurt her?"

"I don't." The detective just shook his head, "This is just routine, Kelly. We'll get to the bottom of it."

She squirmed into her tennis shoes, not bothering to tie them, and she refused to meet their eyes, head turned stubbornly away, "Do I need a lawyer?"

"Do you want one?" Jim asked softly. She wasn't under arrest yet, and the evidence thus far was circumstantial.

"That wasn't what I asked." She growled, still hunched by the door.

"Not yet," He tried to push as much encouragement as he could into his voice, "This is all just routine."

Silent, she nodded, but looked up again when Jim softly cleared his throat.

"Where's your gun, Kelly? Is it here in the apartment?"

"Which one?" Kelly shook her head her head, glancing back to the apartment as Blair escorted her out the door. "I've got a few. My hunting rifles are at my dad's cabin out in Shelniak. My pistols are both in my locker at Cascade Gun Club."

She halted again, knees buckling, and Blair scooped his arms around her, holding her up as she gasped, "Davida was shot? With my guns? Please tell me that's not true! Jim! Tell me it's not true!"

"We don't know yet." Jim answered as he seated her in the truck, in the center with Blair on the other side. He clipped out his cel-phone, "Yeah, Rafe? Can you do me a favor? Go by the Cascade Gun Club- pick up the contents of locker number ..." With raised eyebrow he waited for her to recite the number, "Two five three, and get them over to ballistics. Thanks, I owe you one."

"Don't worry, hon. We're gonna get to the bottom of this. I promise." He tried to reassure as he hung up, but Kelly stared at him with empty eyes, borne of grief and sorrow, and dark northern forests where wolves run wild.

"Davida... " She whispered, "is gone. There's no bottom anymore."
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