Author's disclaimer: No profit made and no infringement intended etc.
Author's notes: Resolution of some things from Family Gathering. Sorry but Brackett or Thornton aren't either of them, although we do hear about them. Thanks to Alyjude for the quick read. Any mistakes are mine since I made changes afterwards. Feedback greatly appreciated but not required.
Author's Notes: Sequel to Family Gathering. Case first mentioned in Mister Sandburg discussed. Rated R for bad language. Story listing for series at the end.
The Road to Hell
Jessica L. Blackstone
CASCADE POLICE STATION: MAJOR CRIME
"Oh come on! You piece of..." growled Ellison as he fiercely tapped the escape key for the twentieth time in the last two minutes. The small box centered in the middle of the computer screen didn't change. It read, "printing in progress."
"Problems, Jim?" Rafe asked, as he was walking by Ellison's desk.
"Damn thing froze! I was just printing out the final report on the Lane case" complained Jim as he frustratedly ran his left hand through his short hair.
"Just reboot it" Rafe calmly advised looking at the screen over Jim's shoulder.
"I don't want to" Jim said evasively.
"Why not? I mean you saved it before you printed it, right Jim? Jim?"
"I can't remember if I did or not" said Jim ruefully. He didn't really want to have to type out the report again. Resigned, Jim re-booted the computer while silently cursing himself.
"Shouldn't you have doing your own paperwork down by now? I mean Hairboy 'was' gone for several months" drawled Brown who had been silently laughing at Jim's computer antics for the last several minutes.
A loud snort from Megan drew the men's attention to the attractive woman inspector. "Lousy bludger stuck me with the paperwork" the Australian cop said with a shake of her head.
"But Connor, I though it was right up your alley.." Jim began in a teasing tone.
"Why? Because I'm a woman?" snarled Megan as she stood up and stalked over to Jim's desk.
"No, because you have such a way with words" finished Jim with a small grin as he remembered the number of colorful Australian phrases that had spilled from the attractive auburn's mouth during their brief partnership.
A universal finger gesture was Megan's response as she walked out of Major Crime.
"Yes!" Jim softly exclaimed as his focus returned to the monitor screen before him. Case file 63503-Lane had been saved before he tried to print it.
"Where is Blair?" Rafe asked as he leaned against a nearby desk.
"Downtown, giving a detailed statement to IA about the Danbury case" Jim said distractedly as he printed out the report again.
"He's the one who figured out that Charles Danbury was hacking into the city's computers" Brown proclaimed.
"Huh?" questioned Rafe who had been busy with several other cases at the time and had missed out on hearing the details.
"Sandburg suspected that the kid was a hacker on the side when we checked out his place. I turned the case over to IA as a probable computer crime and they broke the case. The way their computer expert tells it, Danbury had hacked into the city's computer database. The kid noticed that money was being siphoned to an outside account. Instead of reporting it, he contacted John Collins, the assistant supervisor over at payroll, and tried to blackmail him. Collins didn't go for it and killed him" Jim elaborated as he watched the report printing out without any problems.
Brown joined in, "Collins had been stealing money for about three years and no one ever caught it. The man was smooth."
"Smooth enough to land himself in a cell" Jim said as he walked over and picked up the Lane report.
"Why's Blair the one downtown?" Rafe curiously asked.
"They want to know exactly what it was that led Sandburg to believe that Danbury was a hacker. IA's computer guys want to have the case sewn up tight. They want to be able to point to it as example of why we need a separate department handling computer and internet crime instead of wasting their expertise in IA. Without the fluke of Sandburg's help, chances are we would never have figured out the motive for the murder and Collins would have walked away clean" explained Jim as he knocked on Simon's door.
"I wonder how many cold case files might have been solved if someone had called in the geeks?" Rafe mused.
"Exactly, my brother. Exa--act--ly." H responded.
BLAIR'S GREEN VOLVO
Agitated fingers drummed against the steering wheel, as blue eyes stared intently at the impressive two story white house on the opposite side of the street.
'There's no other way. I can't leave it the way it is,' Blair silently argued with himself. He had begged off from lunch with Perkins from Internal Affairs even though he had liked the jovial man. A half-eaten deli sandwich served as lunch as he drove out to the wealthier side of Cascade.
It was the only time he would be able to talk to William Ellison without his lover's knowledge. He hated the necessary deception but the whole point was to prevent Jim from ever finding out about the conversation he had two weeks ago with his father.
Blair sighed heavily as he finally left the car after procrastinating for ten minutes. He straightened his coat and tie, thankful that he was looking his most respectful when the opportunity for this little 'chat' came up unexpectedly. Doubly thankful that his unruly hair was still conservatively tied back in a ponytail.
The metal clang of the black knocker jarred nerves which had been silently worrying over this inevitable confrontation. His body tensed despite his controlled breathing while he waited for the door to open. As luck would have it, today was the day Sally went to the grocery store, so there would be no possibility of anyone overhearing their conversation.
Silence fell as the door creaked open and suspicious blue eyes met guarded ones.
"Mr. Ellison, may I speak with you for a moment?" Blair politely asked, praying that he wasn't about to make a major mistake.
William Ellison silently stared at the man before him for several seconds before stepping back and gesturing for the solemn faced man to enter his home. He led the way to the sitting room, "What can I do for you, Mr. Sandburg?"
A slight grimace crossed Blair's face at the polite address behind Mr. Ellison's back. Ever since he had met Brackett again, the title grated across his nerves.
"It's more like what can I do FOR YOU, Mr. Ellison," began Blair as he sat on the edge of the couch at Mr. Ellison's hand gesture. "I understand your confusion about my continued friendship with your son. Since I know Jim all too well (including in the biblical sense he added silently) he probably summed it up with, 'Sandburg helps me with my senses.' What I'm offering you is the opportunity to ask whatever you want about me, Jim's senses and how specifically I help him."
"I will answer you honestly. Jim is a very private man, and some things are off limits but whatever I can answer, I will" Blair earnestly said, hoping with all his heart that he could prove to Mr. Ellison that he wasn't out to hurt Jim in any way. That he had no ulterior motive behind his continued presence in his son's life.
William Ellison stared suspiciously at the wide eyed young man during his fervent little speech, smiling briefly at the exact repetition of his son's reply when he had asked him about the young hippie. Whatever the man was, he definitely knew his son very well. Maybe too well.
Jealousy had laden Steven's voice as he had described the young long-haired man who years ago had accompanied Jim to the policemen's benefit. Sandburg however had overcome his younger son's initial dislike by relentlessly fostering the reconciliation between his sons until Steven also sang the praises of the unknown man. Even he could feel the pull to like the young man who was sitting quietly before him.
'Definitely a charmer,' thought William to himself as he stood and walked over to face the mantel over the fireplace, 'but then all good con men are.'
"Mr. Sandburg..." began William Ellison as he turned around to face Sandburg.
"Call me Blair, please."
With an acknowledging nod, William continued. "Blair, tell me about Jim's senses. When that ruckus occurred about your dissertation they called him a Sentinel. What exactly is a Sentinel?"
Blair exhaled the breath he had unconsciously been holding. Mr. Ellison was apparently willing to listen and not reject him outright. Now where was he to begin? He never felt more like he was walking along the edge of a precipice.
"Sentinels were the guardians of the tribe. They were men and women chosen because of a genetic advantage--heightened senses--to protect the tribe from both their human and natural enemies. I first read about them in a monograph, The Sentinels of Paraguay by Sir Richard Burton and was instantly fascinated."
"Today, most people have only one or two hyperactive senses like smell or taste and they are usually employed by perfume or food companies. In Jim's case, all five of his senses are heightened. Jim with his sense of honor, and desire to protect those around him makes him the perfect sentinel. His choice to become a cop in his hometown after leaving the army, makes perfect sense with this knowledge, although Jim hates it when I say things like that." (A slight grimace crossed the young man's face as he remembered Jim's angry reaction to his sentinel instinct theory in regards to Alex Barnes).
"There is a potential down side to the heightened senses. They're called zone-outs. It's when a sentinel get so focused on one of his senses that he loses himself in it. The sentinel usually has a partner along to pull him out of the zone while watching his back. That's what I try to do for Jim, although now he doesn't really need it. Jim very rarely goes into a zone-out. He has gained conscious control of his senses to an unbelievable degree. The only thing that interferes with his senses now is allergic reactions. As you might already know...Jim reacts differently to certain household products or drugs." He had no intention of revealing that Jim's senses were affected by intense emotional disturbances. His lover would kill him.
Blair took a deep breath, realizing for the first time that he had automatically gone into lecture mode and that Mr. Ellison had sat down. "I hurt Jim badly when the secret of his senses was accidentally made public" said Blair, pain underlying his voice. "I can't ever undo it, although I tried to do everything in my power to minimize the damage. I..." Blair walked over and looked out the window, his shoulders visibly tense.
"Jim has a very dangerous job. During the three years I accompanied him as an observer we got into some very hairy situations. He's saved my life several times." Blair turned and walked back to sit down, meeting the eyes which were so reminiscent of the ones he woke up to each morning.
"If Jim no longer wanted me around I would leave, no questions asked. I continue to act as his partner at Cascade PD because I am the one best qualified if something unexpected comes up with Jim's senses. Plus we have one of the best arrest records in the city," Blair proudly added before falling silent, hoping he hadn't said too much yet enough to assuage William Ellison's protective instincts.
William found himself sympathizing with the pain he heard in the young's man voice, knowing all too well how it felt to be the object of his son's anger. 'It was a barren and cold place that he knew he had only himself to blame for' he bitterly acknowledged to himself, realizing that part of his dislike of Sandburg, of Blair was that he had a place in Jim's life.
He stiffly nodded his head, his hands sliding down his thighs before he stood up to stiffly walk a few steps before stopping and turning. "Why are you still living with Jim?" he gruffly asked.
'Shit!' cursed Blair mentally as he worded his answer carefully, "Jim's never asked me to move. I guess he got use to me being around or something. You'll have to ask your son for specifics."
"But you're a young man, don't you want a place of your own, Blair?" insisted William Ellison.
"No I don't. I feel comfortable living at the loft. Surprisingly enough my wanderlust seems to have disappeared."
"Does my son know that you're gay?"
A shocked gasp spilled from Blair's mouth before he could control it. 'Damn it! Only a very good investigator would have found out about any of his previous male lovers. But of course, Jim's father would only hire the best' he bitterly thought, hoping like hell that he didn't dig anything up about Thornton.
"Yes, Jim knows that I'm bi-sexual," carefully began Blair, "He also knows why I left the University of Chicago with only my Master's even though I had planned to earn my doctorate there." Blair's calm tone belied the rapid beating of his heart. 'Please don't ask. Please don't ask. Please don't ask.' Blair mentally prayed wondering how he had lost control of this conversation.
"After our talk at Allison's party I told Jim the circumstances behind my return to Rainier to finish my doctorate, although I didn't tell him anything about our conversation. Jim loves you Mr. Ellison. I saw how frightened he was when your life was threatened by Foster. He is just having a difficult time reconciling the man you are now with the father he remembers. Jim will come around, you just have to give him some time and space. I'll do everything I can to help you," Blair earnestly promised the elderly man who he saw positive and negative glimpses of in his lover every day.
"Why would you help me?" the elder Ellison asked in a disbelieving tone.
"Jim. With all the stuff your son and I have been through together, the least I can do is help him re-connect with his father. Personally, I've never had one and although I know you made some mistakes, I also know that you did something right or you wouldn't have raised such an good man like Jim. Don't underestimate him, Mr. Ellison, Jim is too smart to get taken for a ride by anyone, even me" he finished with a wry smile.
"All I can advise you is to talk to Jim, not as a father but as a man. Don't demand answers from him, that is the surefire way to get him to clam up tight. You won't believe the hell I had in getting him to tell me how some of the early experiments were affecting him."
"What experiments?" asked the elder Ellison, his blue eyes filled with suspicion once again.
"In the beginning I gave Jim a series of experiments to gauge the level of his senses and to help him learn how to control them. It's all outlined in the dissertation. You should ask Jim to let you read it."
"Don't you have a copy?"
"No, I gave the one paper copy I had to your son. That one along with one on disk are the only two still in existence. Both are in Jim's possession because they are potentially very dangerous. You were right to keep it secret, Mr. Ellison. Jim may never admit it, and I may not approve of the methods you used but if it had become known..." A dark expression covered his handsome face, fear making the blue eyes even darker at the thought of a ten year old Jim being subjected to unethical experiments.
Four chimes rang through the house, startling both men.
"I have to get back. I...Jim doesn't know that I'm here" said Blair as he stood up and began walking toward the front door, Mr. Ellison following him.
Blair hesitated as he stepped out onto the porch.
"Mr. Ellison...about the investigation... It doesn't bother me that you had me investigated, hell even Jim ran a check on me through the police database after I first met him, but Jim..."
"...is very protective of those he cares about" finished William Ellison, remembering the young boy who had unerringly shielded Steven from him and Grace before, during and after the divorce.
"You've given me a lot to think about, Blair" Mr. Ellison said with an unreadable expression on his distinguished face.
"If you'd like to talk again, give me a call. I'd be happy to answer any more questions you might have" Blair said, careful to keep a cheerful note in his voice as he handed him a card with his cell phone number handwritten on the back.
William Ellison quietly watched the young man in the charcoal gray suit stride down the sidewalk to his car before finally closing the front door. He looked down at the card he held in his right hand.
Blair Sandburg, B. A. M.A.
Special Consultant-Cascade PD.
CASCADE PD - MAJOR CRIME
Jim was just straightening up the last of the case files on his desk, intending to finish them up in the morning when his phone rang.
"Major Crime, Detective Ellison."
"Good evening Detective, this is Robert Perkins from Internal Affairs. I'd like to speak with Blair Sandburg" requested the voice.
"He's not here at the moment, may I take a message?" Jim asked in an brisk tone as he pulled out a message pad and pen from his drawer.
"Just tell him how grateful I am that he was able to come down and give us the details we needed so quickly. My Captain was able to pitch the proposal to the city board this very afternoon. It looks like a department exclusively handling computer crimes is a go. Tell Blair I still owe him that lunch. Thanks."
Jim hung the phone up with a thoughtful expression on his face. He tore the top sheet off the pad and stuffed it his right pant pocket as he shrugged into his jacket. Without thinking about it he found himself knocking on Banks' door.
"I'm heading out for the night Simon" he called out to his boss and friend who still had another couple of hours worth of paperwork stacked on his desk.
"Sure Jim," Simon said distractedly, not looking up until the feel of eyes on him for several minutes forced him to.
"What?" he demanded of his best detective.
"It's almost six, Simon. Have you eaten anything?" Jim asked as he stepped a few feet into the office.
'Six. Damn. He hadn't realized' Simon thought as he stood up and stretched before sitting back down. "I'll have something delivered, I can't leave until I finish this.." said Simon with a gesture at the pile of papers on his desk. "You and Sandburg are leaving?" he asked as he took off his glasses and rubbed his tired eyes.
"Just me. Sandburg never made it back today" Jim said in an inscrutable tone.
"I don't envy him, stuck in IA all day. Have a good evening, Jim" wished Simon as he resignedly put his glasses back on, his attention already back on the file in front of him. Captain Banks barely heard the "see you, Simon" or the door softly closing.
Softly thumping Brazilian tribal rhythms played in the background as Blair stirred the steamed broccoli and carrots. Blair glanced down at his watch and wondered where Jim could be. He was just wondering if he should phone the station when he heard a key turning in a lock. A glance back to his left revealed his tall partner walking through the front door.
Blair turned off the oven before focusing his complete attention on Jim.
"Hey," he greeted.
Without replying, Jim walked on the outside of the kitchen area over to the refrigerator and grabbed a beer. After one long drink his light blues focused on the casually dressed man standing in the kitchen.
His right eyebrow arched questioningly as he strolled over to stand beside Blair by the stove.
"I thought I'd get dinner for once. It's not anything special, just catfish," Blair needlessly informed his lover who had known what they were having for dinner since he had stepped out of the elevator.
"How'd it go today?" Jim asked as he casually picked up a stem of broccoli and popped it into his mouth.
"Pretty good, actually. Bob Perkins is a decent guy, nothing like typical IA" replied Blair as he went about grabbing some dishes for them.
"Hmmm," murmured Ellison as he picked up and ate some diced carrots. The note crumpled in his pocket flashing through his mind.
"How was your day? Anything interesting?" Blair asked as he served Jim his plate.
"Not really" Jim said as he walked over and sat down at the kitchen table. He was suddenly up and back in the kitchen, his left hand startling Blair as he reached from directly behind his lover to pick up the black pepper shaker.
Blair's breathing sped up at the feel of Jim's body intimately brushing against his. A shiver ran down his spine as he felt hot breath behind his right ear where Jim inhaled deeply. His hands clenched in reaction as Jim nuzzled the back of his neck.
"You smell so good right after a shower..." whispered Jim into the slightly damp hair.
A sudden cool breeze was what alerted him that Jim had returned to the table as quickly as he had left it. Blair's blue eyes opened to see Jim just as he was sitting down again.
"So?" Blair reminded him as he picked up his beer bottle and plate, carefully making his way to the table. His hands still slightly trembling from sexual arousal.
"Nothing interesting," Jim said before taking a drink, "but there is some new gossip."
"Really, what?" Blair eagerly asked, determined to ignore the growing suspicion that something was wrong. He pushed it away as just guilt over his secret meeting with Jim's father.
"There's a new detective transferring to Major Crime from Narcotics" Jim said, his blue eyes not quite meeting Blair's as he ate his dinner.
"Really...who? Do we know him?"
"Smovinsky, Henry Smovinsky and I don't know him. I've heard about him though. They say he's a damn good cop" Jim said in an approving tone.
"The name's vaguely familiar...but I don't think I've ever met him," Sandburg said. "The transfer is a reward, some sort of promotion, right?"
Jim gave a stiff nod. "You remember that big heroin bust last month...half a million dollars worth confiscated..."
Blair gave a brief nod, "Yeah."
"That was Smoke."
"Smoke, huh? Now why can't I have a cool nickname like that?" Blair complained good-naturedly between bites.
"What, you don't like Sandy?" Jim said as he pushed his plate away, finished.
"Yeah right. Sandy, real macho" Blair sarcastically replied.
Jim leaned back against his chair, his gaze looking outside the balcony window. "Megan's the only one who calls you that anyway," Jim informed his partner in a distant tone.
"Good," Blair said firmly as he looked down at his plate.
Jim's blue eyes visually caressed the tanned handsome features of his partner, quickly returning to the Bay before Blair raised his head and caught him staring. He stood up with his plate and casually walked over to the kitchen.
"What do the guys call me?" Blair asked as he joined Jim.
"Sandburg, or Blair more often than that."
"Hmmm" uttered Blair, as he held out his empty beer bottle to Jim.
Jim dropped the bottle into the trash and asked, "Anything in the mail?"
"Don't know, I just dumped it on the coffee table" Blair said with a wave of his hand in the direction of the living room as he took care of the leftover catfish. Jim had eaten very little and he had lost his appetite.
'Dumped is right' Jim thought as he looked at the pile of newspaper circulars, and letters scattered across the coffee table.
"What do we have here?" He called in a neutral tone as he spotted a Manila colored corner sticking out from the bottom of the pile.
"Huh. Something important?" Blair asked as he walked over drying his hands with a paper towel which he chucked over his shoulder to land on the kitchen counter on his way.
Jim snorted, "Take a look."
Blair looked down at the letter sized Manila envelope that Jim had pulled out, his heart sinking as he recognized the distinctive black print addressing it to a Mister Sandburg.
'Brackett' Blair angrily thought, as he continued to look at the envelope, having no desire to touch it. Several thoughts raced through his mind including Brackett's lousy sense of timing. He was in no mood to deal with this.
"I'm going to take a shower..." Jim said as he walked towards the bathroom, stopping in the hallway. "Care to join me?"
"No thanks" said Blair, his mind still filled with thoughts of the rogue CIA operative. His head shot up to meet Jim's after several seconds, realizing how coldly he had just refused Jim's offer of sex.
He quickly walked over to Jim who was still standing outside the bathroom with no expression on his chiseled face.
"Sorry" he whispered as he gave Jim an apologetic kiss before resting his cheek against the muscular chest. Jim's arms instantly enclosed him in a comforting embrace. Several long minutes went by with both men relaxing into the warmth of the other.
With a soft caress of his hand against Blair's hair, Jim slipped out of the embrace and into the bathroom. For several minutes Blair stared uncomprehendingly at the closed door as his mind was filled with a maelstrom of conflicting thoughts.
'What the hell am I doing?' he mentally wailed.
Blair quickly entered the bathroom, shutting the door rapidly behind him to keep out the cold air.
"Change your mind?" Jim called from under the shower.
"Jim, I got finished with IA earlier than we figured...I, I went to your Dad's house."
The hissing of water suddenly blared loud as all movement inside the shower stall ceased.
"Why?" softly demanded an expressionless voice.
"To talk to your father. He asked me some things at Allison's party that I wanted to clear up," explained Blair as he stood tensely, his blue eyes focused on the still shadowy figure.
Blair jumped as the shower door suddenly slid back to reveal Jim's tension filled face.
"What things?" Jim coldly asked.
"About your senses, how I help you with them.."
"Son of a bitch!" cursed Jim as he quickly rinsed off with short jerky movements. Jim didn't even bother with drying off as he stepped out of the shower, roughly tying a towel around his waist. He stepped past Blair, jerking the door open before walking out.
"Well what did you expect him to do? You hardly ever talk to him, let alone see him," Blair argued, as he followed wet footprints across the floor and up the stairs. "He loves you. He just wants to get to know you, Jim!"
"So what did he want to know about his son the freak?" Jim angrily asked as he tore off the towel around his waist and jerkily put some underwear on.
"Why I'm still living here, mainly" Blair softly said, resigned to the fact that no matter what he chose to tell, would only serve to increase his lover's agitation. His worried blue eyes focused on the carefully controlled anger inherent in the movements of the tall muscular man getting dressed before him.
"That's none of his damn business!" growled Jim as he suddenly stood with his hands busily fastening the jeans he had pulled on. "What did you tell him?" he demanded, facing Blair as he pulled up his zipper.
"I told him to ask you! Jim...he knows that I'm bi-sexual."
Jim went still, turning back around to face Blair slowly. "You told him?"
"Not exactly..." evasively began Blair, "he sort of found out."
With an ominously silent step forward, Jim's light blue eyes locked on Blair's as he asked in a low tone, "Just how did he find out?"
Blair hesitated long enough for Jim to come intimately close, the gray shirt he had been putting on forgotten, causing it to fall open revealing the well-developed chest that he looked down at to avoid Jim's angry eyes.
He raised his eyes finally to meet Jim's in a steady gaze as he broke the silence, "He hired an investigator."
Ellison's only response was a stiff nod, his blue eyes suddenly unreadable as he returned to buttoning his shirt.
"Jim, look at it from his point of view. I mean, I was using you for my dissertation and then I exposed your secret to the damn world. He wanted to know what type of man you had living in your house. He wasn't getting shit from you! Jim, he only wants to protect his son!" Blair said frustratedly, knowing that Jim wasn't hearing a damn word he was saying. His lover had retreated behind his fucking wall.
Blair's anxious eyes continued to watch as Jim sat at the foot of their bed and pulled on some socks.
"Where are you going?" Blair suddenly asked as Jim reached over and grabbed a pair of shoes.
Jim ignored Blair as he stood, now fully dressed and proceeded past him down the stairs.
"Goddamn it Jim! Don't you fucking ignore me!" Blair yelled as he caught up to his lover in the middle of the stairs by grabbing his left arm.
With a frigid glance down at the hand on his arm, Jim turned around to face Blair.
Blair let go of Jim's arm at the glance, controlling his breathing as he began in a calm voice, "I didn't tell you this so that you could go have a fight with your father, Jim. I told you because I love you and I didn't want to keep my visit a secret from you."
"This is between me and my ol' man, Blair. You're out of it. Understood."
Blair bristled at the command. Great. Just great. What he had deliberately tried to avoid happening was about to occur. So much for good intentions. Blair only nodded, a sad expression on his face as he watched Jim continue down the stairs, grab his jacket and walk out the front door. 'What the hell do I do now?' he silently asked himself with a disconsolate look around the empty apartment.
The ringing of the phone woke Blair from his worried trance. He stumbled to his feet and down the rest of the stairs to the phone.
"Blair?..." asked a man's voice.
"Steven" Blair replied, immediately recognizing the voice of Jim's younger brother.
"Jim around?" Steven asked.
"No, he's not here." Blair sighed before continuing in a monotone voice. "Actually he's on his way to your father's house..."
"Shit! Blair I don't know what my father has done, but you can't blame yourself no matter what happens" Steven said immediately.
"I know, I know. It's just...Damn it. I didn't want it to happen at all" Blair reluctantly admitted, knowing how hopeless the wish was.
"Blair, this has been building up ever since Dad sent Jim to military school. It'll turn out okay.." promised Steven.
Another sigh was all Steven heard.
With a little shake of his head, Blair mentally shifted his focus outward.
"So Steven, why are you calling? We're still on for dinner Friday, right?" Blair anxiously asked, as he remembered the previous 3 times Jim and him had planned to meet with Steven to talk about Jamie. All of which were cancelled for various reasons. One at the last minute on the account of Jim walking into the middle of a hold-up at the convenience store where he was putting gas in the truck.
"Definitely. Jim threatened me with bodily harm if I cancelled again because of work. That was why I was calling...what is so important that you guys want to tell me?"
"No way, Steven. Talk about bodily harm. Jim would kill me. You'll just have to wait till Friday, man" Blair said with a bit of his usual humor.
"Oh well, can't say I didn't try....Blair?....Oh forget it. I'll talk to Jim on Friday. See you then."
"Bye" Blair said, as he put the receiver down. He was pushing a damp curly strand out of his face when his eyes caught on the yellow-brown envelope still lying on top of the coffee table.
Brackett's latest gift. Resignedly he picked it up with his bare hand not caring about fingerprints, knowing just as Jim had that the bastard was too smart to leave any sort of real evidence of his whereabouts.
He absently noted that it was mailed from Bolivia as he lifted the two small metal clasps to open the envelope.
'I wonder what he's doing in South America?' Blair wondered as he tilted the envelope, allowing its contents to spill out on the table.
Photographs and a map.
Blair picked up one of the color photographs for a closer examination. "Shit" he said as he realized what he was looking at. He quickly picked up another photo, this one a black and white close up of the first. After a quick look at the dozen or so photos, he sat back against the couch, a stunned expression on his face.
Another Temple of Light. A Temple of the Sentinels.
"Son-of-a-bitch" he murmured softly as he leaned forward and hurriedly unfolded the map. This one was in north-eastern Peru. "Damn it" he said as he noted that the location marked on the map was colored in red. According to the key it was in an area controlled by the Salinas drug cartel and therefore inaccessible.
Printed neatly in black in the upper right hand corner was the damning message:
Not even Carasco's protection would help you. The pictures will have to suffice, Mister Sandburg.
Blair pushed the map away from him disgustingly. He wondered just how long and how closely Brackett had been watching him to know that he had protection from one of the most powerful illegal arms dealer in the northwest. 'This day just keeps getting better and better' he sarcastically thought as he leaned his head back against the couch, closing his eyes tiredly.
"Jim," he softly whispered.
Blair's words were still running through his head as Jim pulled up in front of his old house. Not just what his lover had said but more importantly what he hadn't. Knowing his father, he doubted it was as civil as Blair tried to make out.
With his anger brewing beneath his usual stone faced expression, he strode up the sidewalk to the front door, determined to have it out with his father once and for all.
No hint of his agitation were discernable from the three sharp knocks he gave the door.
"Who is it?" called a man's voice from within.
The door opened with a "Jimmy, what are you doing here so late, son?"
Jim motioned questioningly with his hand inside the house.
"Of course, of course! Come in, Jimmy" said William Ellison as he turned and walked towards the parlor, his son following him.
"Blair told me about your conversation," Jim said stiffly as his father finally turned and faced him when they were in the parlor.
"I thought he would" acknowledged William as he sat carefully down.
"What the hell did you think you were doing, digging into my private life?! My best friend's life?!" Jim demanded.
"I'm your father, Jimmy. I care about you..."
"Yeah, you cared so much that I didn't hear from you for 16 years" he said sarcastically.
"That was your choice, not mine" corrected William Ellison, "I contacted you after your return from Peru. You never returned my call...I only did what I thought you wanted, Jimmy."
"Do what I want now then, leave Sandburg alone" Jim ordered in a cold tone.
"Jimmy, I only want what's best for you. THAT MAN...he exposed you to public ridicule...What do you really know about him?" William asked earnestly as he stood up.
Jim went cold deep inside as he stepped forward into his father's face.
"I know that he gave up everything he ever cared about for me, even though I didn't deserve it. I know that he's saved my life countless of times..."
"Jimmy..." interrupted William.
"He even died because of me."
Surprise filled William Ellison's faded blue eyes at his son's words.
"I got him killed, did he tell you that? I did, and he still forgave me afterwards. He immediately traveled to my side to help me catch the woman who killed him. THAT is what I know about Blair Sandburg" stated Ellison. "Nothing that your little investigation turned up will ever change how I feel about Blair."
"I see" William said softly in the face of his son's conviction. "I only wanted to get to know you Jim. I thought...hell I don't know what I thought.." William trailed off, words failing him once again.
"So, you want to get to know your son the freak?" Jim finally asked breaking the awkward silence between them.
"Jimmy.." William started to admonish his son when he was interrupted by Jim continuing in an calm tone.
"If you really want to become a part of my life, there are a few things you should know."
William nodded as he pushed his hands into his pockets, that sounded reasonable.
"Blair and I are lovers."
William Ellison sat down abruptly, his face filled with shock as he stared up at his eldest son.
"But you were married..." William stammered trying to deny his son's words.
Jim nodded his head sagely, "and now I am divorced, living with my male lover."
"That deceitful little..." harshly began William.
"Stop. Right. There." commanded Jim, the cold menace shining from his ice blue eyes silencing William Ellison immediately.
"Blair is the most important person in my life. I won't let you or anyone else hurt him in any way." Jim gave a harsh laugh, "Hell if I could convince Blair, I would even make it official." The rings he had had made months ago flashing through his mind for a millisecond.
William shook his head in disbelief, even though he heard the complete truth in his son's declaration.
"Do you still want your gay son with his crazy senses in your life? It's all or nothing."
Jim looked steadily into his father's bewildered eyes for a moment before swiftly turning and walking towards the front door. He released the tense breath he had been holding as he stepped onto the porch, pulling the door shut behind him.
'Well...that's that' he thought as he walked towards his truck, unconsciously monitoring the heartbeat of the man still sitting motionless inside the house.
It wasn't until hours later, long after the blue and white truck had gone that any sign of movement was seen from inside the big white house.
Jim silently let himself into the dark loft, his attention immediately focused on the man lying on the couch. Without bothering to remove his jacket he walked over to stand motionless, gazing down at the handsome man sprawled on the couch in a deep sleep. His gaze didn't waver as he sat down in the leather armchair.
Watching the rise and fall of the flannel covered chest, Jim's thoughts began to wander. 'I can't believe I had the balls to reveal my deepest wish to my father but am scared shitless of even mentioning the rings to Blair' Jim mused. Just the idea scared him to the depth of his soul. Blair reacted so badly when he had found out about being designated his main beneficiary, and power of attorney. Basically giving him control of half of everything Jim owned.
Jim didn't give a damn about the money. He just wanted to know that if anything ever happened to him, which was very likely for a cop, that Blair would never have to worry about money ever again. Hell, he wouldn't even have gotten back into playing the stock market if Blair hadn't come along, giving him that spark to live. To enjoy life.
The depth of emotion he felt for the man sleeping before him, still came as a shock. That the emotion was returned by said man, a miracle for which he thanked God, Yahweh or whoever the hell was responsible on a daily basis. He would do anything for Blair.
The need to touch his lover suddenly came over Jim, causing him to inch closer, his right hand reaching out to caress the jaw covered in beard stubble.
With a shiver, Blair stirred still half asleep as he opened his eyes with a whispered, "Jim."
"Yes, Chief" Jim softly said, his eyes watching intently as Blair slowly woke up.
"What time is it?" Blair asked sleepily.
"Eleven thirteen" Jim replied, his eyes tracing wonderingly the minute almost imperceptible muscle movements in the arresting face as consciousness returned.
"You just got back?"
"Is everything okay?" Blair asked, worry clearly evident in his voice.
Jim stared silently into the sleepy blue eyes for several moments before gently kissing Blair's forehead. "Just fine" he whispered with his own eyes closing, the love he saw in Blair's eyes soothing his soul.
"Let's go up to bed" he gently suggested holding out his hand to help Blair up.
Blair unhesitatingly placed his hand in Jim's, wondering why it felt so different yet familiar as they made their way upstairs.
The clattering of pans woke him the next morning. Blair's left hand reached out instinctively, before realizing that he was alone in bed. "Jim."
"Sorry, Chief" Jim called from downstairs.
He was yawning as he walked down the stairs, scratching his butt through his boxers.
"What time is it?" Blair asked.
"You have half an hour, babe" Jim said, as he handed a cup of coffee to Blair across the island stove.
Blue eyes focused on Jim over the cup as he took a drink. "So, how did it go?"
Jim looked up from flipping a sausage patty. "The ball's in his court" he replied neutrally. Dismissing the subject with, "Do you want me to make your shake?"
"No, just scramble me some egg whites" Blair replied, accepting that Jim would talk about what happened with his Dad when he wanted to. He placed his coffee cup on the counter and headed to the bathroom to get ready for work.
1635 ROSEMONT AVENUE
Jim was glad that Blair had dropped the subject of his Dad so easily, as he hadn't been in the mood to be psychoanalyzed this morning. He glanced down out of the corner of his right eye to make sure his partner was following as they made their way through the crowd blocking the entrance to the apartment building.
With a long practiced gesture he pulled out his badge, "Detective Ellison" he informed the uniformed officer standing perimeter by the yellow tape designating the presence of a crime scene.
He paused, casually taking a look around the outside of the building, barely hearing Sandburg go through the identification rigmarole with his own badge behind him.
"Anything?" Sandburg asked as he took a look around at the crowd.
"Nah. Too many people have been through here" replied Jim as they continued on their way to the door.
"Ellison!" called Simon, as he spotted his best team enter the building. Captain Banks motioned them over to his location. Standing in front of the open door of the second apartment on the left.
Both men noticed the signs of a struggle as they walked down the hallway.
"Joe" Ellison called to the forensics tech, as he pointed to a picture hanging askew on the wall.
"Sure thing, Jim" the tech replied.
"Thanks" Jim said as they continued on their way.
"Fingerprints?" murmured Blair as they walked up to Simon.
"Blood. Probably the victim's...Morning sir."
"Jim. Blair. I want your first impression, Jim" Banks requested as he motioned the tall man into the apartment with him and Sandburg following.
"Dan.." greeted Jim as he knelt down by the young woman sprawled in the middle of the living room, her face half turned away from him.
"Morning Jim, Blair" Dr. Wolfe acknowledged.
"Strangled?" Jim asked as he took in the bruising around the neck and the bursted blood vessels in the eyes.
"That's my preliminary finding, I'd say about 18 hours ago" concluded Dan. "There is an additional trauma to the face that occurred prior to death."
"Oh" remarked Jim as he put on white latex gloves, reaching out to turn the woman's head. "Forensics all done?"
"All clear" Dan informed him as he helped Jim turn the body.
"Ah-hah." There was a burn mark on the right cheek. More like a brand, although he couldn't make out any sort of symbol like on the other previous bodies. He ran his finger lightly over the mark, still unable to read the sloppily burnt mark.
"No. Definitely not our guy, Simon" Jim said as he stood up, pulling off the gloves. "Our guy takes pride in his work, this is shoddy..."
A muffled sound from his partner interrupted him, before Blair walked out of the room.
"Thought the kid would be use to it by now?" Simon remarked at Sandburg's abrupt departure.
"It was my remark, not the corpse...Sandburg thinks I'm callous" Jim said with a dismissing shrug of his shoulders at one of the longest running debates between him and Blair on police conduct, especially his, at crime scenes.
"So, definitely not the same guy from the Stone and Kalco murders... That's what I thought" said Simon his attention back on the corpse.
Jim shook his head, "No. She doesn't even fit the profile."
"Yeah, sad. She was a real looker" Simon judged, taking in the green eyes and long straight red hair framing what had been a very pretty face. Simon nodded to Wolfe who was patiently waiting to bag the body.
"Check out the usual. Did she have a boyfriend?" Jim asked.
"Yes. According to her next door neighbor she has only been dating him for two months" Blair answered as he walked back in reading his note pad. "Black hair. Gray Eyes. Drives an old car with Arizona plates 229MOB."
"Brown.." Simon called.
"I'm on it" Brown affirmed as he left to go out to the computer in his car and run it though the station's database.
"Thanks for coming by, Jim" Simon said, dismissing Ellison.
"Let's go, Chief. I have some paperwork that I need to finish."
"See you later, Simon" Blair called as he followed Jim out the door.
Simon sighed as he watched the body bag carried out of the apartment. Glad that it wasn't another serial killing, yet saddened that now he would have to inform the young woman's next of kin that she was dead. The killer probably someone she knew. Some days he really hated his job.
With a glance at the closed expression on his partner's face as he got into the truck, Jim said resignedly, "Alright, out with it. Get it off your chest, Sandburg."
"Humph" snorted Blair as he looked pointedly out the passenger window, "Nothing to say. We've already been over it a dozen times. We've agreed to disagree. Even if I think you tend to act like a cold bastard at crime scenes."
Jim didn't say anything, accepting the charge as true, just glad that his lover had got it out so he wouldn't be subject to a 'silently hostile Blair' for the rest of the day.
Silence fell between the two men as they drove back to the station, the traffic around them the only sounds.
"I told my father about us" Jim said, out of the blue as they waited at a red light.
"And? How did he react?" Blair asked as he quickly turned to stare at Jim's profile.
Jim shrugged, "I left soon afterwards."
Nothing more was said as Jim parked the truck and they made their way up to Major Crime, each man's mind filled with their own thoughts on the matter.
Jim was working out the tension in his neck from looking fixedly at a computer monitor all morning, when his phone rang.
"Jim...It's your Dad" said the man.
Jim had recognized the masculine voice instantly. "Yes?"
"I'm calling to invite you and Blair to dinner on Sunday..." explained William Ellison in a formal tone.
Something deep inside of Jim finally relaxed. "I'll have to check with Blair..." Jim said in a neutral tone as he motioned to his lover, who was walking into the bullpen, over to him.
"What are your plans for Sunday, Sandburg?" Jim asked with the receiver still held against his right ear.
"I'm free, you got tickets for the game?" Blair asked hopefully.
Jim gave a slight shake of his head, "We'll be there" he said into the receiver.
"I'm looking forward to it, Jim" William said warmly. "Give Blair my regards." Click.
Jim hung up the phone, his face expressionless as he turned to his partner.
"We're having Sunday dinner with my Dad" Jim said, a smile breaking out across his handsome face.
"We" confirmed Jim.
"That's great," Blair exclaimed, a bright smile on his face before his forehead wrinkled in apprehension. "Oh my god, I don't know what to get him.." he muttered as he suddenly stood up animatedly saying something about needing to go shopping.
Jim's light blue eyes met Blair's confused. "What are you talking about?"
"I have to get something for your father. The host..." Blair said, looking at Jim like he was an unmannered lout.
'What the hell have I done?' Jim thought to himself with a tiny shake of his head. He wondered if there was any way to go back 'into the closet.'
Friday, Early Evening
"I still don't know what to buy your father" Blair was saying as he put a Caesar salad together.
"Chief, it's not necessary" Jim said soothingly as he lightly stirred the boiling spaghetti.
"Jim," began Blair in a patient tone, "it's one of the oldest customs, a guest especially one invited to a feast as a...potential member of the tribe, brings a gift for the elder or chieftain."
Jim shook his head saying, "But you've already been to the house."
"Its different, Jim. Surely you realize that?" Blair prodded, muttering something under his breath about, "stubborn sentinels."
"Fine. So what should we get?" asked Jim in an overtly resigned tone, hiding his mirth as he looked at Blair.
Blair reached out, grabbing the pan as he helped Jim drain the spaghetti. "What do you think I have I been trying to determine for the last day and a half, Jim?" he sarcastically asked his lover, his blue eyes meeting Jim's annoyingly over the sink.
"You have been no help whatsoever, and I think Steven is going to have too much on his mind tonight to think about your father's gift preferences" complained Blair as he returned to his salad preparations.
"He should be here any minute," Jim said as he turned the stove off, pouring the mushroom and meat sauce into a serving bowl. "So Einstein, have you decided how we're going to do this? Do we tell him before or after he eats?" he asked as they set the table.
"He's your brother.." Blair said as he placed the salad on the table.
"Yeah, but your the expert.." countered Jim.
"Let's just play it by ear" Blair decreed, preventing Jim's return to the kitchen by placing his hand on Jim's forearm. His left hand skimmed lightly across his lover's jaw, before guiding Jim's head down to his.
The incredible feel of those warm full lips against his made Jim open his mouth immediately, hungry for the taste of Blair. Jim tried to still the tongue that was slowly driving him insane with its wild forays inside his mouth. Blair's hand only tightened on his lover's head as Jim's tongue started battling with his for control, the sensation only heightening his desire as he sucked on the offensive objective before gently disengaging.
Jim's blinked his eyes, a dazed almost zone-like expression on his face as he looked down at Blair. "What the hell was that?" he asked between heavy breaths.
Blair stared silently at his lover for a few seconds with a somewhat amused, half exasperated expression on his face.
"That was a, 'I just had one hell of a week and need something to celebrate' kiss" Blair informed his lover before he turned and walked back into the kitchen.
A knock on the door prevented Jim's attempt to continue the celebration. After a hot lingering glance in Blair's direction, he turned with a sigh and headed towards the front door.
"Come in, Steven" invited Jim as he opened the door. A smile broke across his face as he eyed what his younger brother was holding. "What's this?"
"It's for you and Blair. After you said you'd make dinner, I thought the least I could do is bring dessert" Steven replied with a grin on his attractive face. "Blair" he greeted the man who was walking up behind his older brother as they made their way into the apartment.
"Hi, Steven" Blair said while smiling. "Here, let me take that Jim, while you and Steven take a seat" suggested Blair, giving Jim a pointed look as he accepted Steven's "gift" and carried it to the kitchen.
The two men seated themselves at the dinner table and began serving themselves as Blair joined them after placing the garlic bread on the table.
"What do you feel like drinking, Steven?" Jim asked as he stood and headed towards the refrigerator.
"Beer's fine" Steven answered before starting to eat.
Jim quickly returned with three beers which he handed out before returning to his seat at the table.
For the next few minutes the only sounds were ones of mutual appreciation as all three men tasted the delicious food.
Steven was the first to break the silence.
"Guys.." he began as he looked down with a somewhat awkward expression on his face, "I have something I have to get off my chest."
Blair and Jim only exchanged clueless looks with one another and waited for Steven to continue.
"I know that you're a couple" Steven said in a rushed tone, anxious to finally get it out.
"Allison told you?!" blurted out Blair with a worried expression on his face as he glanced at Jim's stoic face.
"Yes and no" Steven said as he met Jim's eyes finally.
"And?" prompted Jim, wondering if he was going to lose his brother just as it looked as if he was getting back a father.
"I'm happy for you both" Steven said with a wide smile on his face. "Although I do think that Blair is a saint to put up with the Ellison neuroses" Steven teased, laughing as he ducked the napkin thrown at him from his brother.
Blair joined him in his laughter at Jim's expense, saying "Hah!" to his lover while nodding his head that it was finally confirmed that he was the one deserving of pity.
Jim just gave a half smile as he took a drink, slightly shaking his head.
"So how did you find out?" he asked his little brother.
"Well, notwithstanding Jamie's little comment that she was glad that 'Uncle Jim was kissing Blair and not Mrs. Greenbaum' at her party. I put two and two together after you told me about your senses, Jim" Steven explained, his attention focused on his brother.
Blair chuckled at the totally flummoxed expression on his lover's face at Steven's words. He and Jim hadn't started sleeping together until months after the dissertation fiasco which necessitated Jim telling his brother about his sentinel abilities.
"I mean, once you told me that everything in his," Steven said with a nod in Blair's direction, "dissertation was true, it was very obvious that he cared about you very much."
Jim nodded understandingly. That made sense although it had taken him a little longer to figure it out. "Actually, Steven that is part of what Blair and I wanted to talk to you about."
Now it was Steven's turn to have a confused expression on his face, "I don't understand. This is about your senses?"
"Not Jim's, Steven. Jamie's" Blair said, emphasizing the 8 year old girl's name.
Steven's face just got even more confused, "Jamie?" He turned to Jim questioningly, his mind in a complete state of disbelief.
Gently, Jim said,"Jamie has senses like mine, Steven" with an anxious glance out of the corner of his right eye at Blair.
"Oh my God..." Steven said, closing his eyes tightly as if to shut out the truth.
"Not all of them. She only has three heightened senses--sight, hearing and smell" Blair elaborated.
"Are you sure?" Steven anxiously asked Blair.
"Yes...I don't know exactly how acute her abilities are, but they are definitely above average. There's nothing to worry about, Steven. She has perfect control over them, nothing like in...Jim case" finished Blair awkwardly with an apologetic glance in his lover's direction. "They aren't causing her any problems. I doubt they ever will."
"Unless you pull the same shit as Dad did," Jim warned in a bitter tone.
Blair shot an irritated look at Jim before continuing, "It is very important that you not treat her any differently. She doesn't need to be stigmatized, or to ever feel like she's a..."
"...freak" finished Steven, his eyes looking steadily into Jim's. "I wasn't completely oblivious to things when we were growing up, Jim" he said. Jim acknowledged the rebuke with a nod of his head.
"She will have to learn to be more discreet however," Jim said. "There are already several...questionable parties paying a little too much attention to me as a result of the dissertation business."
"If they get any sort of indication that heightened senses are hereditary. Both Jamie and Jim would be in danger" Blair confirmed, fear making his eyes a darker blue.
Steven nodded a thoughtful expression on his face.
"You're sure she isn't a full Sentinel?" he asked Blair, knowing what the implications were if she was, having read Blair's dissertation. He didn't want his daughter instinctively drawn to a dangerous job to satisfy some need to serve the tribe. A father's love is selfish.
"Just the three I told you" Blair re-affirmed before continuing, "which means that Jamie will know things that she shouldn't be able to, long before you realize something is wrong, like fires."
"Believe her, Steven" Jim said in a firm tone. "That is what hurt me the most...when Dad didn't back me up. The betrayal I felt..." Jim trailed off at the startled expression spreading across his brother's face.
"How are things between you and Dad?" Steven asked, overcoming the incredulity he felt at his usually closemouthed brother revealing how he felt, even about something so long ago.
Jim gave a chuckle, "Pretty good. Blair and I are having dinner with him and Sally on Sunday."
"That's great!" Steven said, pleased that everything finally seemed to be working out for his brother.
"It's a beginning..." qualified Jim with a shrug, but still not able to disguise the hope in his blue eyes.
"He knows then?" Steven asked with a questioning glance at Jim and Blair.
"Yes, Jim told him."
The smile on Steven's face got even broader at the news.
"Well guys, as much as I liked to stay for dessert, I'm anxious to go home and talk to my daughter. If you'll excuse me" Steven said as he stood.
Blair and Jim followed Steven's lead, standing and following the man towards the door.
"If you have any questions or ever need help..." Blair began.
"...from either of us. We'll be here" finished Jim as he gave his brother an impulsive hug.
"Thanks. I'll see you, Blair," Steven said, bidding the two men goodnight.
"He's going to be fine, Jim" Blair said quietly.
"I know. We all will."
A DIMLY LIT OFFICE
Hard brown eyes flicked over the report the expensively dressed man held in his hands.
8:55 AM--BS & JE leave Prospect, separate cars
9:15 AM--BS arrives Cascade PD, JE waiting for him in parking lot
9:25 AM--BS leaves Cascade PD alone in car
10:12 AM--BS arrives Public Administration Building, 121 Central Ave, BS--12 Floor Internal Affairs
1:20 PM--BS leaves PA Building in car
1:30 PM--BS stops/enters Smiley's Deli, located at 913 Amherst Lane
1:38 PM--BS exits, carrying white paper bag 1:42 PM--BS leaves in car
2:10 PM--BS parks car on Oakwood Lane
2:23 PM--BS enters residence located at 256 Oakwood Lane,Owner: William Ellison
4:10 PM--BS leaves residence
4:40 PM--BS arrives Prospect
6:03 PM--JE arrives Prospect
7:25 PM--JE leaves Prospect
9:57 PM--JE arrives Prospect
No further activity observed.
He closed the report with a soft sigh, closing his eyes as he pictured how the long red-brown curls would look spread across the pillow as he looked into blue eyes filled with desire only for him. Soon, very soon he would have the one who got away.
Author's Supposition: Sandburg should have been killed or at least have had attempts made on his life for his part in the arrest of Hector Carasco, simply as a matter of principle in Love and Guns. An example to the cops that you don't send someone undercover to get close to one's innocent children. Carasco extended his protection to Blair for two reasons. For protecting his only child's life, Maya from Vargas. Two, Maya specifically asked her father to not kill or allow Blair to be harmed by his own people or colleagues. Therefore it is known in certain illegal circles that Blair Sandburg is an untouchable. For the time being of course.
Love and Friendship Story Listing:
Love and Friendship
Dinner Can Wait
Destroy the Evidence
The Road to Hell