Time's Up

by J L Blackstone

Author's disclaimer: No profit made etc.

Author's notes: Fourth in the series, although the third one posted. Sorry Aly, another short one but #3 is shaping up to be an epic. Feedback appreciated. Not beta'd. All mistakes are mine.

Time's Up

Jim's right foot nudged open the door to the loft as his left hand tried to keep the huge pile of mail and file folders he held in a precarious grip from scattering onto the floor. "Sandburg, could you help me out here?" He called as he stepped into the loft and tossed his keys into the basket by the door. He left the door wide open as he walked towards the kitchen where he spied Sandburg, or more accurately his jean encased butt sticking out from the open refrigerator.

Jim unceremoniously let the pile of papers drop onto the island in the kitchen. "Sandburg, what are you doing?" Jim asked, his voice filled with amusement. 'Not that he was complaining about the view, but he usually tried to keep Blair away from the household appliances' Jim thought to himself. He remembered the toaster that got fried and the crock-pot that died a mysterious death after one of Sandburg's tribal concoctions. Jim was closing the front door when Blair called out, "the light bulb in the fridge went out. I'm replacing it."

Jim walked up behind Blair, whose head had remained in the fridge while he spoke. "While you're in there could you hand me a water?"

Sandburg's left hand began groping blindly around the shelf while his right hand continued to screw the bulb into the socket that was set at an awkward angle in the back of the refrigerator. Blair's left hand held the bottled water up over his left shoulder for his lover to grab. As Jim took it, the thought occurred to him to grab something else but he didn't think Blair would appreciate the gesture since he seemed so intent on what he was doing.

Jim opened the cap of bottled water and took a long deep drink as he leaned against the island to continue to enjoy the view of his lover's beautiful derriere gently swaying as Blair screwed the bulb in. "Simon gave me something for you as I left. The Academy's application packet. Registration deadline for the fall session is in two weeks."

The turning motion of Blair's hand hesitated a millisecond as Jim's words flowed over him like ice. Damn! He had been avoiding having this discussion with Jim ever since classes ended, three weeks ago. This wasn't how he pictured it occurring.

A deep sigh, audible only to sentinel hearing, from inside of the refrigerator was the only warning Jim had that the current state of his life was about to change.

Blair finished screwing the light bulb in and finally backed out of the fridge. "Can you believe that I had to go to three hardware stores to find the right size bulb! I finally found it at the one on Ravensdale. Did you know that this refrigerator is older than I am? They stopped making them in 1968," Blair rattled out, never once looking at his lover as he wiped some imaginary grease from his hands with a rag.

"Sandburg..." Jim began in a warning tone. Blair threw the rag down abruptly and turned to look at Jim.

"I'm not going to the Academy to become a cop."

Jim's light blues eyes blinked. Jim's face was like stone, bearing no indication of the riot of despair, pain, and hurt that he was feeling at his lover's words. The detective's badge and the offer to be his partner on the force had been Jim's way of showing Blair that he was welcome to stay in his world. His cowardly way of asking Blair to stay in his life and giving him something to make up for the loss of his dream career.

"Fine," Jim said as he straightened up and turned away.

"Damn it, Jim! Don't you pull your suffer in silence crap! I'm not finished talking here."

"What's there to talk about? You've made up your mind," Jim resolutely stated as he made his way towards the stairs and the bedroom . To hide.

Blair grabbed Jim's shoulder at the foot of the stairs and turned him around to face him.

"Jim, I figured out another way I can work with you on the job, besides becoming a policeman and having to carry a gun." Blair quickly said.

"What...how?" Jim blurted out as his mind reeled from the sound of Blair's panicked heartbeat as he had said the word 'gun'. 'How had he missed how much it bothered Blair about carrying a gun full-time' Jim thought to himself in shock. He knew Blair's feelings on gun control but he had thought, Hell!...Jim didn't know what he had thought. Damn kid, keeps his feelings on serious stuff a secret and then complains that 'I don't communicate.'

"By being what we have been telling people for years. A special consultant. Only this time it will be true."

"But.." Jim began to interrupt but Blair cut him off.

"No, hear me out Jim and then we'll discuss if it's a viable alternative, if it isn't then we'll go with the cop thing."

Blair took a deep breath while Jim walked over to sit comfortably on the couch. Blair stopped directly in front of him as he began the speech that he had been practicing for a couple of weeks.

"As you know, my field is Anthropology. What are not well known are the various specialties contained within anthropology. One of which is Forensic anthropology. Forensic anthropologists apply standard scientific techniques developed in physical anthropology to assist in the detection of crime and to identify human remains. They work with homicide investigators, forensic pathologists etc. When forensic anthropologists have training in archaeological methods like me," Blair added, " they often assist law enforcement agencies in the initial investigations of crime scenes. Now I would have to earn my certification from the American Board of Forensic Anthropologists. They normally require a Doctoral degree in Anthropology, " Blair held up his hand to halt Jim's objection, "but I have talked to the President, who incidentally turns out to be an old professor of mine from the University of Chicago, where I earned my Master's Degree. He said that due to my already 4 years of casework with the Cascade PD he would waive that requirement."

"Now, my real worry is whether the Department will fund the salary for retaining a Special Forensic Consultant full-time. While I am working for my ABFA certification they could pay me a lower salary amount (say the same amount a detective earns) plus I could help Dan out with human remains that are hard to identify. Hell Jim, with my minor in Psychology and my vast experience in the field, I don't see how the Brass could turn down a bargain like me, three consultants in one," Blair grinned as he finished in an effort not to show his lover how anxious he was for his reaction.

Blair became somber as he added, "I know that I will probably not be assigned exclusively as your partner, Jim but the homicide cases and crime scenes I do get assigned, will more often than not be investigated by Major Crimes."

Jim smiled wide and chuckled. "I don't know how you did it Darwin, but you have pulled us out of the fire once again. You are a genius."

"You think Simon and the Department will go for it?" Blair asked.

"Hell yes, I just can't wait to see Simon's face after you spring this on him."

"Jim," Blair's serious tone motivated Jim to draw him to sit beside him on the couch, so their eyes were level. "I do plan on going through weapons training, but I will not carry a gun full-time. I will go armed only as a last resort like I have done in the past. The risk of carrying a gun full-time just isn't for me. Forget about karma. I don't think I could handle it, if I shot and killed someone. If I took a human life."

Jim sighed as he pulled the most important person to him into his arms. "I know Blair. I should have realized that being a cop wasn't for you. But you do realize that you may eventually have to kill someone. The odds will increase the longer you work for Cascade PD."

"Yeah, I understand the risk. I will deal with that if and when it happens." Blair sighed as he rested his head on Jim's chest. The sudden vibration under the right side of his face made Blair raise his head to look into Jim's mischievous eyes.

"What's so funny?" Asked Blair.

Jim was trying to contain his laughter, "You know what Simon is going to think? He's going to say that you thought of this just to get out of cutting your hair."

The only sound coming from the loft for the next few minutes was laughter.

Simon's office next morning

The expression on Simon's face as Blair finished his proposal surpassed Jim and Blair's imaginations. Simon looked as if he had been hit in the head by a blunt object. Hard. Blair waited patiently for some sort of sign of intelligence from the man sitting in front of him, smoking a cigar.

"So what you are telling me Sandburg, is that you want to be paid for doing what you have been doing for the last four years?"

"Basically...Yeah," Blair replied with a wide grin on his face.

"Well hell, why didn't you say so?" Simon said as an equally wide grin split across his attractive black face. "Why didn't you think of this, Jim?" Simon asked his best detective who had stood silently behind Blair during his little speech. Jim just half-shrugged and shook his head as if to say 'The hell if I know.'

"I think this will work. As soon as you get this down on paper I'll get to work on getting approval," said Simon. Even before Simon finished the statement, a nice business-like brown portfolio was on the desk in front of him. Simon puffed on his cigar for several seconds. "It's all here?" He asked with no real surprise in his voice.

"Yes, I even included a mock outline of your personal recommendation...." Blair's voice trailed off at the expression on Simon's face.

"Thank you, but I think I'll write my own words," Simon sarcastically stated.

"Sure Simon, that'll be great," Blair said as he bounced around on his feet.

"And its Captain Banks! Don't you have somewhere to be? And you, aren't there four current cases on your desk, Detective Ellison?"

"Yes sir. I'll get right on it," Jim said as he ushered Blair out the door in front of him.

"Thanks again, Sim...Captain," Blair called as he went through the door.

Simon just stood shaking his head and chuckling at the young man who had just managed to pull another rabbit out of a crushed and burnt top hat. A sudden thought occurred to Simon that wiped the happy expression off of his face. His eyes followed the brown curly-haired kid who was making his way towards the elevators. "Damn. He's not going to have to cut his hair," Simon said out loud, realizing he had just lost $40 in the bullroom's Hair-boy bet.

The smile Blair shot as he turned for a last look at his lover sitting at his desk, was full of pure mischief as he spied Simon's glance in his direction. Maniacal laughter was heard coming from the elevator all the way down.

Four weeks later

The personnel of the Major Crimes Division of the Cascade Police Department were all gathered around in a group outside of the Captain's office early on a Monday morning.

"What's going on, Rhonda?" Asked Detective Brown as she exited Simon's office. "Why did Banks ask us all to be here?" Rhonda just smiled and walked past to her desk. All the detectives present each looked at one another and just shrugged.

"Hey, where's Ellison?" Rafe asked.

"He was in Forensics picking up the Hennessey crime report," replied his partner H.

"Here he comes, now!" Inspector Connor said as she spotted the 6-foot tall, blue eyed detective walking into the bullpen.

"Jim, what's going on?" Brown asked.

"Let's ask the Captain. Captain?" Jim replied.

While Brown and the other detectives' had turned to face Ellison, Captain Banks had opened his office door and stood in the entryway. All the detectives turned to face their boss with varying degrees of curiosity on their faces.

"Morning, ladies and gentlemen, I asked you all here to meet the newest addition to Major Crimes. I want you all to help welcome our new Full-time Special Consultant to the Cascade Police Department..." Simon paused as he motioned to someone that was still standing unseen inside of the office. The person stepped out just as the Captain spoke his name.

"Blair Sandburg-Forensic Anthropologist."

The shocked silence was broken within seconds as pandemonium erupted. Several of the detectives were simultaneously trying to hug or pat on the back the long curly-haired hippie who had wormed his way into their hearts with his quick smile, cheerful disposition and genuine good nature. Everyone was talking at once and Blair was trying to answer them all.

Ellison was standing at the back of the group with his arms crossed in front of chest, a smile on his face as he watched his lover in the center of the storm.

Simon regained control with a bark, "People! You're overwhelming the man. One at a time!"

"Thanks Simon," Blair gratefully said.

Megan was the first to blurt out, "are you back for good, Sandy?"

"Yeah," Blair grinned as he met Jim's eyes, "as long as you'll have me."

"What are you going to be doing?" Asked Taggart.

"The same things he's been doing for the last four years," Simon gruffly said.

"Thank god!" Someone muttered under his or her breath.

Simon continued, "In addition he will occasionally be helping Wolfe when he needs it, and being our resident counselor. That's it folks. Crime doesn't stop because our friend has finally come back to work!"

The group huddled around the Special Consultant broke up slowly. Each person made a point to welcome back Blair individually until only a handful were left.

"So where's your desk, Blair?" Taggart asked.

"Its Matheson's old desk," replied Blair as he gestured to the desk on the left that was diagonal to Ellison's.

"Ellison, are you sure you can let the kid out there on his own? I mean a whole 5 feet!" H. joked as he walked away.

"Yeah, yeah," replied Ellison who took the good-natured ribbing in stride. His friend and partner was back where he belonged. All was right with James Ellison's world.

"I hear you are going to be taking some classes at the Academy after all?" Rafe asked Blair after overhearing one of the other detectives telling Blair on what instructors were the best in their field.

"Yeah, our illustrious Captain suggested that I take Crime Scene Rules & Procedures, plus some other legal and crime scene investigation classes," said Blair.

"Are you going for weapons certification?" Taggart asked.

"Yes, but I am not going to be required to carry full-time."

"So you'll still be a civilian," commented Rafe.

"Technically." Blair said with the usual bounce of energy as he rocked on his feet.

"Will you still be teaching at the University?" Taggart asked.

"I am legally obligated to teach one more class this fall. Yeah," replied Blair.

Everyone had missed having Sandburg and his humor in the bullpen. His energetic zest for life was contagious. Rafe and Taggart both smiled and wished Blair "Good luck," as they too left to go back to work.

"I didn't realize you were religious, Connor?" Jim asked with a sly smile on his face at the sole remaining detective. Connor's smile faltered as she realized that she had been caught.

"Yeah Megan, what was that you said when Simon was talking?" Blair joined in with a smile as he glanced between Jim and Megan.

"Well, its just that...if you must know...Jim has been a bit of a bear since you've been gone Sandy and...Well just between us, how the hell do you put up with him?" Megan asked. Megan had been the detective that was most often teamed with Ellison in Blair's 8-month absence from the Department.

Blair and Jim laughed at Megan's incredulous tone. Their laughter got even more profuse as Megan's facial expression grew even more perplexed. After realizing she wasn't going to get an answer from either man, she left them alone.

Jim gazed into Blair's face and smiled even wider. Jim was just about to speak when Banks came out of his office and called, "Ellison! Sandburg! We've got a home invasion on 2340 Clifton Avenue. One person dead. One assaulted. Well, Get on it! I'm not running a coffeehouse here!"

Jim glanced over at his partner's face as he pulled his navy blue baseball cap on his head, "You ready to get back to work?"

"You bet," Blair replied as he followed Ellison out of the bullpen like he had done a hundred times before.

It wasn't until they were inside of the elevator and the doors were closing in front of him and Ellison that Blair heard the one greeting that he had been waiting for throughout the morning.

"Welcome back, Chief."