...and another new part...this time written during the lull time at work today...
Disclaimers: TS belongs to Paramount/Pet Fly. NCIS belongs to Paramount/Belisarius.
Laud and Tarnish - TS/NCIS crossover
Clanging echoes dug deep, keeping a hostage grip on Jim as he struggled to find a way out of the reverberating maze of metal noise. Shooting the inside man didn't necessarily mean the thieves would shoot the bank customers and employees, but it didn't mean they wouldn't either. *Which means enough of Blair's astral projecting!* But he couldn't find a pathway past the cathedral bells in his head. *The Bells of St. Ellison!*
Another sensation intruded on his gridlocked perceptions. Touch. Hard. Tight. Too tight. The overload shifted on its precipice and then shattered as everything *(bank floor...Blair's hand gripping his...hushed voices...smell of terror...gun clicks...a woman's voice...pounding heartbeats)* roared into focus. Gasping in a deep breath, he squeezed Blair's hand to let him know he was there...sorta. He tilted *(wilted)* to one side, his shoulder pressing into his guide's back.
Even as the hoarse whisper grated against his ears, he could feel some of the tension lifting from his partner's frame. But not enough tension. *Something's wrong. More wrong.*
"My son." That same woman's voice. Pleading.
Eyes closed, Jim ignored the resulting thud thud of the overload headache and fumbled for the internal sensory dials. Calling on the last of his dwindling reserves *(too much case, too little sleep, no time at all)*, he managed to crank and twist everything down to just one notch above the average person's range. *A slight edge.*
The bank phone rang again. He heard the skinny guy pick up and snarl into the receiver "Not interested" before it was slammed back down.
Next to him, Blair abruptly stopped breathing, bracing himself for... *what?*
And then time sped up.
Later, he would depend on Blair to supply the missing puzzle pieces and color in the faded parts, though the important scenes gleamed clear in his memory.
A baby wailed. The skinny thief gave the command to shut him up. He heard the snick of a knife. The woman the mother screamed along with several other patrons.
Cop reflexes and sentinel nature kicked into high gear and Jim was on his feet though not entirely steady, gun out and ready in his hands, and across the floor, leaving his more rational self behind. Standing over the wailing little boy, the sentinel pointed his weapon not at the thief with the knife (aka Bully #2) but at the skinny guy in charge who stared silently at him.
He kept the other three thieves in his periphery, depending on his "cop sense of danger" to alert him of trouble but depending even more on his partner seated behind him to keep his eyes open. *He's got to know that I'm not quite all ... here.*
Of the four thieves, only Bully #1 reacted with agitation. "Are you a cop?" His gun shifted directions jerkily between Jim and a group of bank employees.
Firming his grip on the gun and on his physical connection to floor beneath him, Jim didn't bother to answer the question. "He's just a baby. Let him go. There are people behind me who could take him. No one ... needs to die." He kept to himself the fact that someone *else* already had by the sound of that gunshot.
The baby continued to wail. Jim felt tiny hands grip one pant leg and pull, either for attention or to get traction. He bit down on his surprise when that slight change off set his balance and sent his headache flaring. His vision spun up and he suddenly could see the faces of the gathered feds and police outside the building, including several with jackets marked 'NCIS.' His sight fell on someone giving directives and Jim's hearing threatened to follow by instinct to find out what was happening. *no, no, no...*
A loud, piercing wail from the baby re grounded him in the bank with a disorienting whoosh of color.
Shifting his weight to hide the ensuing dizziness of the abrupt transitions, Jim made the dangerous choice to push the headache away and down as far as he could. He hoped that numbing or blocking the pain would make his stressed senses easier to control. *Though Sandburg may shoot me himself for this.*
His hearing snapped back into play and the skinny guy's voice bit at him. "...should kill you." Jim watched the cold eyes slide behind him. "You and your ... partner both. And maybe the Goth with the noisy phone too."
Bully #1 started to shift his feet. Bully #2 played with the knife with one hand while keeping a steady aim on Jim with his gun in the other. The thug just watched with calculating eyes.
Jim took a breath as his senses wobbled precariously, tossing up shadowed double images before his eyes. Sound and smell slid wildly between nothing at all and everything at once. Gritting his teeth, he slammed a mental door, having no choice but to shut his senses down or at least as much as he was able. The effort left him feeling strangely numb but also with a small burst of clarity once the extraneous input to his senses could be ignored. He knew it wouldn’t last more for more than a handful of minutes.
It also felt wrong.
*I’ll deal with it later. I hope.*
Keeping his voice low and calm, trying to settle the nerves of the hostages and at least Bully #1, Jim suggested, "If you don't trust them, then let the mother come get her baby." He tilted his head toward the young woman, who was anxiously twisting her hands together, barely noticing the thug's gun still pointed at her.
Beyond them, Jim spotted the two security guards The rookie was still mostly frozen, though Jim noted his eyes going to his handgun several feet away. *Don't do it, kid. You couldn't load it fast enough.* He could see Brennan watching him, waiting for Jim to do...something. Hopefully she could also keep the youngster from getting himself killed before he'd had the chance to wear out his first uniform.
"Why?" Skinny sneered at the woman. "She obviously can't control her own child. There's a girl behind you... No, not you, the young one." He pointed. "That one. You get the baby and I won't kill it."
Jim didn't dare move as several voices exchanged frantic whispers behind him. At his feet, the whimpering baby rested more of his weight against his foot and lower leg. Bully #1 paced over to the skinny guy and muttered in low, angry tones, gesturing sharply. *He's unraveling.*
Finally, he heard the slow, quiet steps of a young child *(the younger girl of the father and his daughters)* move up behind him, then felt small hands tug at the crying, hiccuping baby. A low whisper from Blair and from another man, her father, accompanied the young girl, giving her encouragement. The slight weight vanished and those same quiet steps went back the way they came. He waited until he judged the sounds resettled again and the baby's wail had begun to taper off.
"Okay. Now, let's talk about getting everyone out of here. Just "
The phone jangled again, setting off highly strung nerves as Bully #1 whirled and shot at the phone, screaming obscenities between the bullets.
And then everything exploded.
go to part twelve