Note: Webtv user here - you can
expect the whole story to reach your neighborhood theater within the hour... or
Warnings: Um, checking... nope,
none. Well, except the obvious... don't put glue in Jim's lube on the same day
he decides to bottom. Yeah, that's a good one.
Note the sequel: A little ditty,
an experiment in terror, mine. Needed some stress relief, this came up, went a
wee bit angsty on me, but mostly - silly. No redeeming qualities at all, at all.
Wherein mouths speak the truth and Jim gets a new nickname and in
between, they bring down a baddie.
Acknowledgements: Thank you as
ever to welp for betaing and please,
PS: Has anyone ever done a part
one that was longer than their story? I
Banks, Babes, Boffing, Bubba and
Other Weird Stuff
You know the old expression, *out
of the mouths of babes*? Well, that's how it happened. Except no *babe* was
involved. The mouth it came out of happened to belong to my boss and good
friend, Simon Banks.
Never in a million years. Not for
a million bucks. You could have knocked me over with a feather. Yadda, yadda.
So what happened? Well, we were
sitting at his conference table, a particularly nasty meeting having just been
concluded (a meeting that included the angry exit of my partner and roommate,
Blair *you guys are complete idiots* Sandburg) when Simon said it. When *it*
came out of his not so *babe* of a mouth.
Blair had just left in a huff and
watching his retreating back, Simon's eyes had dropped down a few inches and he
shook his head. In a calm voice, one that surprised me considering that by now,
steam should have been exiting his ears, he said, "You know, I can almost
see your attraction, Jim. If I leaned that way - I'd *lean* that way."
I thought my comeback was quite -
What did I tell you? Witty as
hell. Me 'n Jerry Seinfeld.
Simon then picked up his coffee
cup, took a sip, set it down and said, "So why's he so mad this time? And
have you noticed he's been mad a lot lately? Is there something *not* going on
at home that I should *not* know about?"
My witty response to that? I
spewed. My spray of coffee shot across the table and spreckled his face and
shirt. God, I'm classy.
"Sir," I managed to
choke out, "I don't have a clue what you're...."
"You trying to tell me that
he *isn't* this angry at home? That everything is hearts and flowers and you two
boff like bunnies every night?"
My captain and second best friend
actually said *boff like bunnies* and he was referring to me and the long-haired
weirdo when he said it.
My fingers were itching, dying to
grab a hold of my gun, which was only a few inches away ... problem was, I
didn't know who I wanted to use it on; me, Simon or Sandburg?
I cleverly decided on Sandburg.
He'd obviously gotten me into this and it was clearly his fault. And wasn't most
everything? Certainly everything that's happened to me in the last three,
exciting, fun-packed years. Anyway, my reply was - a jewel.
"Sir, Sandburg and I don't *boff*
like anything. I do *not* find him attractive. I barely tolerate him. Do you
have a clue as to how ... messy ...
he is? Even now, without the myriad of books and notes and papers to grade, he
manages to turn the loft into Armageddon. *No one* could be attracted to
This little crease formed between
Simon's eyes. "I - see. So he
*has* been angry at home? And you're not getting any as a result?"
I stood up and placed both hands
on the table, leaned forward and looked my captain squarely in the eyes.
"I'm not *getting* any
period, Simon. Not from him, not from anyone. Do you get it? We are *not* an
item, we are *not* together. Clear?"
The crease deepened.
"Well, why the hell not? And
did you ever think that *that's* why he's so angry lately? And that can't be
healthy, you know," he admonished.
Then to top it off, to make
matters worse, he shook his head and his eyes got all - nostalgic - or
something, and he said quietly, "I miss our old Sandburg."
At that point, I think I
sputtered. And stuttered. But that might have been in my mind - or not.
I know I sat down. Calmly.
"Sir, Sandburg is *not*
angry. He's... adjusting."
"Ellison, I've been a cop a
*bit* longer than you, wouldn't you agree?"
When I nodded, he continued.
"So when I say someone is
angry, believe me, they're angry. And Sandburg is angry. And it isn't healthy.
Sandburg doesn't *do* anger. He does - processing. And he isn't
Simon decided at that point to
really blow me out of the water. He leaned forward, arms resting on the table
and asked me on the q-t, like there were other people in the room, which there
Sometimes I absolutely amaze
myself. My steely control, my macho mannerisms, my exhausting ability to ignore
"Sir, that is *none* of my
Simon just shook his head and
yes, yes I did recognize the disgust in his eyes but I ignored it. He stood,
gathered up the paperwork and as he walked to his desk, muttered, "I
suppose I *should* have listened to him. That story on the Ibo tribe of Africa
will undoubtedly," he rolled his eyes dramatically, "have great
importance with this damn case."
Sometimes my mouth greatly
resembles a babe's.
Simon sat down as though he'd
traded places with Atlas. "I'll be damned if I know."
He set the paperwork down and
absently fiddled with a corner of the top folder. "Of course, I didn't see
you jumping in to let him speak, either."
"Hey, you're the
"Oh, nice excuse, Ellison.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but has that ever stopped you before?"
Okay, he had me there.
He took out one of his best
cigars and chomped down on it. "Didn't think so. Maybe you'd better go
I didn't move right away - the
prospect of facing down my angry (yeah, okay, he *had* been angry a lot lately)
partner actually scared me. And if you repeat that to anyone - you're roadkill.
"Ellison, out of my office -
*now*. And do yourself a favor? Start boffing before you give the guy an
At that point, I was certain that
my hearing had to have gone on the fritz. There was simply no way, even out of
the mouth of a babe, which Simon most certainly is *not*, that he would say
that. But I swear to you on Sandburg's hair conditioner that he *did* say it.
All right, so basically, at that
point, I had Simon's permission to boff my partner. Great, just great.
I ask you, just what is this
world coming to? Is nothing sacred anymore?
Your boss should *not* encourage you to boff your partner. It simply
isn't - kosher, you know?
On the other hand - works for me.
So there I was, looking for my
partner and mentally agreeing with my boss that I should, in fact, boff said
And speaking of boffing, where do
you suppose Simon heard that word?
Daryl? No, probably Sandburg.
He was outside. Do you have any
idea how hard it can be to track one heart beat in a building with hundreds of
people in it? Well, shit, of course you don't. It is. Believe me. But I managed.
When I pushed through the front
doors of the station, he was the first thing I saw. But then, isn't he always?
No matter what?
He was pacing like a caged
animal, up and down the sidewalk, covering the exact same amount of cement,
never straying past some line in each direction that only he could see. He was
also - yelling. And his hands? The
space shuttle, looking for a place to land because the Cape is socked in. And to
top it off, his face was red, flushed a deep crimson.
He was pulling his hair.
And of course, you know that
every word out of my mouth was golden. Oh, yeah.
"Chief, you're pulling your
hair in public."
"Shut the fuck up."
I didn't know my eyebrows could
shoot so high. Learn something new every day.
"Chief, at least walk with
me around to the alley, all right? Then we can go crazy in private."
I took off then and I remember
praying that he'd follow. He did. But he was still pulling his hair and yelling.
Oddly enough, I think he was yelling in Sandburgenese, a language that to date,
I've yet to master.
Once I got us both into the quiet
and empty shelter of the alley, I went for the jugular.
"Come on, Chief, tell me
what's going on."
Decisive, commanding. Yeah, I was
great. Hey, at least he stopped pulling his hair. He sputtered instead.
"You, you ... you,
"Look, it's not my fault
that Simon wouldn't listen to your ravings about this, this, Ibo tribe."
Funny how quickly Sandburg could
calm down. He went from manic to depressive in two seconds flat.
"No, you're right - it
wasn't your fault. Sorry, Jim."
God, he looked so - empty. I had
to fill him somehow. As he turned to walk away, head down, energy sapped, I
called after him, "You'll never believe what Simon thinks we've been
I watched him pause, held my
breath, hoped he'd turn around but he didn't. Instead he simply said quietly,
knowing that I'd be the only person who could possibly hear him, "he thinks
we're boffing like bunnies."
What did I tell you? Out of the
mouths of babes.
"Wanna know what I
think?" I yelled back.
"you're wondering where
simon ever *heard* the word boff and you're wondering who supplied the basket
for the ride to hell the world is taking that your captain and friend would
think you and i are boffing like bunnies." He finally turned and said
sadly, "does that about cover it, Jim?"
"No," I said, just as
sadly. "No, that doesn't cover it. And I figured he'd heard *boff* from
you. But it was weird, listening to our boss suggesting that you were angry
because we *weren't* boffing at the moment. That something was wrong between
"Funny, I was just going to
ask you that."
"Yeah, Jim, yeah, there
I put my hands out, palms up and
asked, and no, I don't know why, "What, Blair? What?"
He smiled but the smile was so
bitter, so sweet, that I hurt. Then shrugging his shoulders, he said, "We
aren't boffing, Jim."
He turned and started to walk the
rest of the way out of the alley and I had this funny feeling that if I let him
leave, I'd lose him for good, that he'd keep going - forever.
"I'd like to change that,
Once more he paused, turned,
He scratched the back of his head
and said, "So if we start, will you see me again? Will anyone?"
He took two steps toward me and
added, "I'm pretty tired of this whole invisible thing, you know?"
Okay, I have to admit - he had me
there. I was clueless.
"Chief, I'm clueless here.
Well, I *told* you that I didn't
have a clue, didn't I?
"Jim, I'm not your partner.
I'm not anything lately. Simon dismisses me, you're sent out with Joel or Megan
and I'm relegated to writing reports. The
other day, after Simon sent you out with Joel to interview McNab, he came out of
his office at noon. His intent was to send Conner out because Hewitt had decided
to become a little more forthcoming about what happened at the bachelor party.
You remember hearing about that?"
I nodded and he went on, his
voice lowering in *that* way, the way that told me the upcoming memory *wasn't*
one he'd be keeping tucked away anywhere good.
"So out he comes and the
only two detectives in the whole God damn fucking place are me and Conner. You
know what he did, Jim? Do you? Do you know?"
I was totally, fuckingly
helpless. Is fuckingly a word? It must be - I just used it. I know I did nothing
when he asked, I just stood there, in the middle of the alley and waited.
"Jim, Simon went out with
Conner. Simon. And Conner. He looked at me, then at her and he said, 'Conner,
get your coat, you're with me.'"
Blair's voice broke then. But he
shored it up and went on. Maybe at this point, I should mention that his voice
wasn't the only thing that broke - so did my heart. I'm a sentinel, I know these
things. I heard it.
"Conner shot me this glance,
then her eyes shifted away and she got her coat and they walked out. Guess what?
I was - alone. There was no one else in the bull pen, Jim. Just me."
That's when I noticed that he
wasn't pulling out his hair anymore. In fact, he wasn't moving at all. He maybe
blinked. And I know he swallowed, but that was it. Then he killed me by giving
me even more truth.
"Twelve noon and I'm alone
in the squad room, Jim. You've probably noticed that I'm short. And you can
probably guess that I've always *been* short. It's not like one day I went from
six-five to five-seven, you know? And I *know* you know that I was a science
geek. Can you say klutz? Can you say glasses when I was five? Can you say
carrying around my babyfat until I was seventeen? Can you say, last one picked
for *anything*?" He paused, gathered his second wind and went on.
"That's how I felt that day.
I was *little blairy-wairy*, left behind, left unchosen once again. Except - I'm
going to be thirty in a few weeks. I'm not a science geek anymore, I'm a cop.
And there hasn't been any babyfat for quite sometime. Okay, the glasses are
still here, but that's all I'm gonna give you."
He brushed a hand through his
hair and looked down at the ground in that *God, I have *no* idea what I'm doing
here* way of his, shook his head a bit, then said, "So if boffing ain't
gonna bring me back, then I say fuck it, you know?
You can keep your boffing, your
bunnies, you can keep Captain Simon *he has an abiding tolerance for you* Banks,
you can keep it all, Bubba."
Yeah, he called me Bubba. I don't
think it was a compliment.
So, what do you say after
something like that?
They don't call me James *smooth
talker* Ellison for nothing, you know.
"Smooth, Jim. Real smooth.
They don't call you James *smooth talker* Ellison for nothing."
You didn't think I'd come up with
that line by myself, did you?
Obviously I'd heard it somewhere.
And let me put you out of your misery.
I got smooth.
"Blair, I love you. And
while I admit that I didn't realize - didn't understand how this was all
affecting you, I swear that it has nothing to do with *you* per se."
His eyebrows can shoot pretty
"Okay, it does have to do
with you, but not the way you think, Blair. I swear."
"We were - protecting -
Sandburg heard me. I know he did
but he didn't move, didn't utter a word - just frowned and stared. And his
"We didn't do it -
deliberately. It wasn't totally conscious, Chief.
It's not like Simon and I sat behind closed doors and made these
decisions, you know? It was unspoken, it was...."
"A gentleman's agreement,
Well, at least he'd started
talking. Always a good sign with Sandburg.
"You and Simon were
protecting me. Check. Care to share exactly *what* you were protecting me
I kind of waved my hands
expressively, a gesture, a Sandburg gesture. I don't *do* Sandburg gestures
"From - things."
On *things*, I got real expansive
with my hands. I thought *that* was impressive.
He mimicked my gesture. He did me
better than I did him.
"Yeah, you know -
"Uh-huh. Things. Would that
be, maybe, lions and tigers and bears; oh, my? Or other things?"
"Uh, um, well, you know,
*things*. Rumors, um, *bad* things. Bad people.
People giving you grief, you
"Because I'm a fraud."
Sandburg has this one body
movement, this kind of wiggle of his head that signifies a multitude of things,
one of which is an embarrassed kind of agreement when he doesn't agree at all. I
tried it. But just in case it failed, I added words.
"Yeah, and - no. Because
some people *think* you're a fraud."
"Perception is everything,
Jim. If I perceive that you're a schmuck, guess what? You're a schmuck."
"So you were protecting
"Um, yeah. That's about
Blair checked his watch then, but
before he could say anything else and before I could wedge my size 12 shoe
further down my throat, my cell phone rang. Naturally, I answered it. Hey, I
needed a breather.
//Jim, we may have him. There was
an attempted kidnapping at the Walton
Senior Center. Based on quick
descriptions, well, it sounds like a
match. Security got the place
locked up tight and he may be trapped on
the premises. Roll//
"Shit. Okay, Sandburg and I
are on it."
I felt at this point that it
might apropos to score a few points.
"Yes, sir. Sandburg. You
know him, my partner? The short guy?"
Damn, Sandburg didn't even blink,
but Simon sputtered and yelled.
//I kn-now damn good and well who
the fuck Sandburg is! I'll meet you in
the garage in two mintues//
"Very good, Captain."
I put the phone back into my
pocket and gave Sandburg a questioning look. His response was to gaze back at me
through squinty eyes. He moved his head a bit, as if trying to see me from an
odd angle, then he - nodded.
We headed out of the alley,
around the corner and into the underground parking garage. By the time we'd
gotten to my truck, Simon was just stepping out of the elevator. He waved us on
and three minutes later, with lights and siren, I pulled out, Simon right behind
With the siren blaring and my
hearing turned down, I can't say the ride was - silent, but in the cab, neither
of us said a word. Blair sat in his corner, one arm across the door's arm rest,
his left hand resting on his thigh. He stared straight ahead. I was left with
plenty of time to think.
We were heading to a location
that might net us one of Cascade's latest loonies, a guy that the press had
nicknamed *The Retirement Killer*. We'd
had four deaths in four weeks, four adults ranging in age from 70 to 82, all
women and all killed in the same bizarre manner. A manner that had been
responsible for Sandburg's angry exit from the previously mentioned meeting.
Each victim lived alone but had
sons or daughters in other cities. Each victim probably *shouldn't* have been
living alone. Each victim appeared to be financially strapped, barely existing
on Social Security and pensions. And each victim had been quickly and
efficiently smothered, bathed, then left lying on top of either a kitchen table
or a dining room table - depending on availability. And to top it off, a dead
animal had been left lying *under* the table. In the case of the first and third
victim, the animal was a pet, but the other two victims had no pets so it was
assumed the animals were strays. And now we might have him. Or her.
High profile case, major press
coverage, highly dangerous situation and who was seated beside me? Yeah.
I hadn't been lying to Sandburg
in that alley. I *have* been protecting him. From other cops, from the press,
from danger. He was my official partner now, he carried a gun. He might someday
have to use it. Some people doubted his ability to do so, I wasn't one of them.
But I did worry about what it would do *to* him. And I worried about death,
about danger, about - losing him. Stupid, uh? Three years he's been riding right
beside me and now I pull this compulsive protective shit. But it's reasonable to
*me*. I could control his actions before. Keep him in the truck. But now - he
was expected to be beside me, to back me up, even as I backed him up. To back me
up with his gun.
And Simon? Actually, he felt much
the same as I. While Sandburg had been attending classes at the Academy, Simon
and I had indulged in quite a few *friend-to-friend over a beer* talks. Okay,
over *several* beers. We were both afraid. For him. And - yeah, *of* him.
I guess what we both failed to
realize was the incredible damage we were doing to Sandburg. Far more than that
which we strove to protect him from, oddly enough.
The thought that traveled with me
as we drove through Cascade on our way to the senior center was that perhaps,
the damage was irreparable.
The Cascade Police Department
moves fast when we're given a head's up and as I made my left onto Graham, Simon
still right behind me, officers scurried to remove barriers to allow us through.
As we found out later, they had four blocks cordoned off, with cars and men in
place to ensure the capture of our killer, if he was indeed, still on the
The Walton Senior Center is on
the corner of Graham and Thorpe and used to be the Walton Museum until they
relocated to a more *appropriate* part of town. The grounds were spacious and
now held Bocce Ball courts, quiet paths, benches under trees, and a small
bandstand for summer concerts. All in all, a large area to contain, but doable.
As we climbed from the truck and
met Simon in front of the two-story building that used to house eclectic artwork
and now held arts and crafts rooms, two meeting rooms, two bridge studios, an
exercise studio and a photo lab, I felt Blair tense beside me. He shifted
slightly and I realized with a start that he was moving in such a way as to
allow my body to block him from Simon's view.
I immediately thought of the
child Blair and 'being neither seen nor heard'. I think my heart might have
broken a bit again.
Two uniforms approached us, the
senior cop being someone I recognized.
He addressed Simon.
"Captain Banks. Two of my
men are with the victim, a Mrs. Webber. She was shaken up and she has some
bruises, but she's a strong one."
At that point he took out a
notepad, flipped it open and began to give us a quick rundown.
"Mrs. Webber was walking to
her car. She suffers from severe arthritis and uses a cane. She comes to the
center once a week for bingo. As she approached her vehicle, a man came out from
behind another car and grabbed her. She'd heard all the news reports about the
serial killer and she had, just two days ago, put a *Blaster* on her key chain.
The moment he grabbed her from behind, she pressed the button.
"They were surrounded in
moments and our guy pushed her to the ground and ran. The good news is that he
ran back *toward* the center, not away from it."
He closed the notebook and added,
"Security had been doubled within the last week and I gotta tell you,
they're good. They had this place shut down fast. Descriptions were given and we
Simon nodded and said, "Good
work, Nelson. Any further information?
Nelson shook his head. "No,
sir. But when he ran, he went east, toward the Bocce courts."
"Thirty plus five security.
Captain Anderson from SWAT has set up a command center in the main office,
inside and to your right. He has his men spread out through the building and
grounds. So far, we have over fifty officers in place, sir."
"Excellent. Would you let
Captain Anderson know I'll be in to see him momentarily?"
Nelson nodded and with his
partner, headed inside. Simon turned to me and with a glance at the small part
of Sandburg that he could see, said, "Jim, you gonna be able to track this
From behind, Sandburg answered
"He's the best chance you've
got, sir. I'll take him to the parking lot and we'll start from there."
I had the ridiculous urge to
applaud Sandburg - then get a leash and collar for me. Jim Ellison, Sentinel
Simon hesitated and that was a
mistake. I could *feel* Sandburg retreat.
He put a hand on my arm and said
quietly, "I'll be in the truck, Jim.
Just concentrate on the smell of
He turned and I reached out to
stop him, but as represented by the last three years, Sandburg once again
surprised me by stopping himself.
"No, fuck it, I will *not*
be in the truck."
He stepped in front of me and
walked up to Simon. He got so close that he had to crane his neck to see the
"Captain Banks, I'm
his," he jerked a thumb at me, "permanent and official partner and
unless you want my gun and shield right now, I'm going with him."
Simon's face reflected a sea of
emotions. I read that expression once.
Thought it was - poetic.
My friend and boss stood there,
gazing down at someone he was a lot closer to than he'd ever admit and it was
all there. His surprise, his concern, worry, his affection and at that last
moment, before he spoke - respect.
"Detective Sandburg, you try
to give me your gun and shield and I will personally stuff them up your ass.
Right now, you two have some work to do - may I suggest you get to it?"
The man should run for president.
I'd vote for him in a New York minute. And
Sandburg? He nodded brusquely and turned back to me. I shrugged and we headed
out. As we walked down the steps, Blair gave a little jiggle, pulled at the back
of his jeans and whispered, "stuff them up my ass?
We started our search next to
Mrs. Webber's car. I could easily track the scuffle and from that was able to
pick up our man's shoe imprint in the soft gravel of the unfinished parking lot.
We headed east, Blair slightly
behind me, speaking softly, reminding me of what I needed to do and occasionally
asking questions. When we reached the Bocce ball court, I put out my arm and
stopped him. For a moment I stood listening, my head cocked. Something - a
sound, muffled, came from the recreation building behind the court.
I was really tuned in, my brain
trying to separate out all the surrounding sounds when the crunching of gravel
caught my attention. Simon was
pulling up the dirt road used by the grounds keepers.
It's funny how quickly
life-altering events in your life can occur. I was conscious of the sun
filtering through the trees as branches swayed softly, of the brightness of the
grass, the perfect symmetry of the playing field, the packed sand, of Blair
standing next to me, eyes squinting in the sun as he watched Simon walk towards
us, and I was aware that the muffled whatever that I'd heard, or thought I'd
heard, was gone.
Simon waved us over and Blair,
never one to walk sedately if he could trot, beat me to Simon's side. But as I
approached them I could hear Simon....
"....someone matching the
description was spotted on Fillmore Street about ten minutes ago, we've
tightened the ring and fortunately there are no homes in the direction he was
headed. You two care to join me?"
They were maybe twenty feet from
the rec building, Simon with his back to it and Blair standing off to Simon's
left. I always feel so tall when I'm standing next to Sandburg and hence often
forget just how big a man Simon is. And how broad. Blair was looking at me as I
approached, waiting for an answer so I started to nod. I heard a creaking sound
and watched in amazement as the door of the building opened. Blair turned,
frowning, and there he was - our suspect.
He had a gun.
It was pointing at Simon's broad
And I was still too far away to
even make a dive for Simon - and he and Sandburg were between me and the killer.
Sound diminished, light faded,
and my world narrowed down to those three men. I was reaching for my gun, going
down on one knee, but I was moving too slow ... and of course, there were still
two bodies between me and him. What I wondered later was how could I have
forgotten that *two* of the three men were cops? Not just one of them.
Blair shoved all 145 pounds of
himself into Simon while at the same time pulling out his gun. Simon wind milled
back even as Blair was crouching, gun hand up and he and our suspect fired at
the exact same moment.
It was over as quickly as it had
Sound disappeared entirely. Time
froze. No one moved - except our suspect. He dropped like a brick but I didn't
hear the sound.
Simon was still on his feet,
thanks to some strategic arm flailings, but he was clearly in shock as he gazed
at his newest detective, mouth agape. Sandburg was staring down at his hand, at
the gun *in* his hand.
I straightened and with gun out,
cautiously approached the downed man. I'd
tried to focus my senses on him, but evidently when time freezes, so do my
senses. I have *got* to remember to tell Sandburg about that little phenomenon.
I reached the suspect and kicked
his gun away, then squatted down to test his pulse - strong and steady. He was
alive. Simon recovered enough to get on his cell phone and command back-up and
an ambulance, but Blair was still standing in place, watching me. My senses came
back online and as I checked the man's injury, I also did a little monitoring of
Sandburg. His heart rate was a little fast as was his breathing, but other than
I nodded to Simon, then pressed
my hand against the wound just below the man's shoulder - on his left side.
Sirens, screeching brakes, and in
a flurry of flying gravel, the cavalry arrived.
The Mayor is happy, so is the
Commissioner. The press is having a field day and Sandburg is in with Internal
Simon is a bull in a china shop,
chafing at the bit, dying to get into his office with Sandburg and IA.
Me, I'm pissed as hell, it was a
Our suspect turns out to be a man
named Sylvester Cummings, age forty-two. His injury was severe, but he's going
to pull through. He was silent after regaining consciousness, refused to answer
any questions, but his apartment held a wealth of evidence. Enough to bury the
guy. What we still don't have is
motive but as Conner said, since when do criminals with a few kangaroos loose in
the top paddock ever have a reason? She had a good point.
Simon paced back and forth,
wearing the linoleum down about two inches and stopping every now and then to
glare at his door. I'm surprised the glare didn't shatter the damn thing.
I was finishing my report while
shooting my own icy glare at Simon's door and it didn't take me long to realize
that Simon and I weren't the only ones *glaring*. So were Conner, Taggert, Brown
and every other detective in the bullpen.
That door should have been
With a hissed out, *fuck*, Simon
strode over to his office and - walked in. The door slammed shut behind him.
I don't think anyone in the
bullpen was breathing. Not even when we heard a very loud, very commanding and
very angry Simon Banks berating the IA personnel inside.
*I* was breathing. And grinning.
Moments later, the two IA
detectives scuttled out and never looked back.
Now don't get me wrong, IA is the glue that keeps the Cascade PD honest,
but it just seems that no matter what - they want some poor cop to be bad.
Simon's large frame filled the
doorway and stuck to his side, thanks to Simon's arm draped over slightly
hunched shoulders, stood Sandburg.
I rose and the two walked over,
Simon's arm never leaving its perch.
"Clean shoot, they even
commended him. It's over."
I nodded but my eyes were fixed
on Sandburg, his on mine. Simon's arm finally dropped and Blair walked around
his desk and sat down. In a voice that belied his fear, he asked, "How is
"He's fine, Chief. We still
don't understand the whys, but we have him cold."
Blair had swallowed hard at my
reassurance about Cummings, but at my last words, he asked, "Do we have a
history on him? Has he had a close relative pass away, say, in the last six
months or so?"
His question surprised the hell
out of me and Simon was once again catching flies. Conner, who'd been listening,
threw us both a lifeline.
"Yeah, Sandy, he did. How
did you know?"
Nodding enthusiastically, Conner
got up and walked excitedly over to us.
"Yeah, yeah, his mother. He
was in Africa at the time of her death."
Sandburg nodded. "I thought
I would have given anything to
have captured Simon's face on tape at that moment. He rolled his eyes, then
sighed dramatically and said, "Let me guess. The Ibo tribe."
Sandburg ducked his head and
"I knew it. Okay, Detective
That did it. I won't say it fixed
everything immediately, but adding the word *detective* certainly earned Simon
some much needed Brownie points. Blair's
head shot up and smiling, he said, "Yeah, Simon?"
My boss smiled; a broad,
brilliant smile and replied, "Yeah."
We all knew what Simon was saying
"Well then, okay." And
Detective Sandburg started to tell us all about the Ibo tribe of Africa.
"See, I recognized the
similarities with victim number two, Mrs. Cottswald,
but I wasn't absolutely sure. See, the Ibo tribe take funerals very seriously
and they can get quite - bloody, what with the animal sacrifices."
"You got it, Conner. Yeah,
the pets. Always sacrificed and left under the deceased, who were placed on
what's called an *ojo* or large, high table...."
"Exactly, sir. We're kind of
lucky our killer didn't see the slain women as people of honor or as chiefs,
"Do I want to know this,
Detective?" Simon asked patiently.
"Well, it's just that with
chiefs, well, more than animals are sacrificed, you know?"
By this time, our desks were
surrounded by the other detectives and as a single unit, we gulped.
"Anyway, what finally tipped
me off that it *was* a re-creation of the Ibo funeral rites was what Jim noticed
with the third victim."
We all nodded, wondering where
the heck this was going when he put us out of our misery.
"Mrs. Gibbish had wood
He said it as though that
explained everything. It didn't.
I puzzled a bit, then the light
bulb went off.
"The scuffing on the floor
around the table."
Blair nodded happily. *Only*
Blair would be so happy about an anthropological theory revolving around scuff
marks on a wood floor.
"Detective, you planning on
sharing," Simon quizzed commandingly.
"Oh, yeah, sorry, sir. You
see, after the body is bathed and placed on the ojo, the children of the
deceased lead the entire tribe around the ojo. Over and over, they keep
circling. And as Jim noted at Mrs. Gibbish's
"The scuff marks, the *new*
scuff marks," Simon finished.
A few detectives whistled low as
Conner asked, "But *why*, Sandy?"
"Well, I'm no
Taggert and I humphed at that -
our detective with a minor in psychology. No psychiatrist indeed.
"...but I suspect when we
delve deeper, we may find that the mother was infirm, maybe should have been
living with that sister you mentioned, Conner. I would also bet that said sister
arranged a very - cheap - funeral. You know?"
"So," Brown asked,
"you're saying that our guy was acting out his anger at the cheap funeral
by killing three senior citizens and then giving them this - Ibo -
"Yeah, more or less. I'm
sure we'll find he was unbalanced anyway, and felt guilty that he wasn't *here*
when his mother died and he probably thought the women he killed, well, he
probably felt he was doing them a service. See, the Ibo also take lives - if
they feel, well, that the person *should* die. So this Cummings was doing them
all a favor, in his mind."
He looked at each of us and
suddenly uncertain, said, "Maybe. But I could be completely wrong."
Simon gave him a gentler version
of the previously given brilliant smile and said, "Oh, I doubt that,
Detective Sandburg. Good work." Then in front of everyone, he added,
"And thanks. For today."
He stuck a cigar in his mouth and
went back to his office. He paused at his doorway and said, "Work? You
people have any work to do?"
Blair turned out to be right on
the money in his assessment of Cummings. Simon
asked Blair to conduct a second interview with the man in his hospital room and
after Sandburg eased him into talking about his trip to Africa, his mother's
death *and* his two days with the Ibo tribe, well, from there - it was easy
Cummings, apparently glad to have
someone who appeared to understand, confessed everything. And Major Crime closed
one more terrible case.
Which left me alone with
We walked side by side to the
truck, the surreal and cloying atmosphere of Cummings' hospital room behind us.
Blair had his hands stuffed in his pockets and there was still so much for us to
talk about that I couldn't begin to figure out where to start.
But once again I was saved by
"Simon made an appointment
for me to see the department shrink. Thursday at two."
"Normal procedure, you know
"Yeah, I know. Still, seems
"Seeing a shrink shouldn't
seem weird to *you*, Sandburg."
Hey, when faced with real issues
- use humor to diffuse. Ellison's rule number twelve.
"Ha, ha. But it does. It
does and *that's* what's weird. Don't you see, Jim?"
I didn't. But rule number
thirteen is never admit to Sandburg when you don't see the obvious.
"Sure, I get it."
He stopped walking and stepped in
front of me, thus stopping my forward movement.
"You do not. You don't get
it at all."
Do I have to go into *all* my
rules here? Good.
"You're right, I don't. But
- I suspect I have a clue, which lately, for me - is worth celebrating."
"A clue? Okay, shoot. Why is
"Because you were just doing
your duty, you were saving Simon's life and you would have done it someway,
somehow, with or without a gun. Common sense. So why the need to talk about it
with a shrink." I smiled slyly and added, "Am I close?"
He was frowning up at me, his
eyes so dark, so deep that I had this urge to get on a diving board, the high
board, and take the plunge. I supressed it.
"You're good, Jim. That's
He turned around and we continued
to the truck. We both climbed in, I started the engine and pulled out.
T's were crossed, I's were dotted
and the Retirement Killer file was officially closed.
Thanks to my hearing, I knew that
the entire building was abuzz with the case, with Sandburg having saved Simon's
life. I wasn't foolish enough to believe that this event ended all my concerns
and fears for Sandburg, but I was facing them squarely now and like a father, I
knew I had to let the kid out of the nest. He'd have *loved* that analogy - if
I'd ever shared it with him - which I wouldn't. I enjoy living.
But for all my new found
knowledge and acceptance - I was pathetically grateful that Sandburg hadn't
*killed* Cummings. Something like that might happen someday, but you'd be
surprised how rarely we cops actually use our guns. And I guess I'd have to
cross that particular bridge when we got to it. I just prayed it wouldn't
collapse under the weight.
Which left us with - boffing.
We were headed home, I had
permission from my boss to boff my partner - and I was deciding whether to take
him up on his permission.
That's a lie. I was trying to
figure out how to bring it up.
As I drove us home, Blair said,
"Dinner. We've really got nothing. Wanna stop somewhere? Maybe
"Mexican sounds good.
Chingolingas for me, appetizer special for you, Chief?"
"Yeah, but get a couple
bottles of Dos Equis', we're out and I've got to have beer with Mexican."
He chuckled and my skin tingled.
"Good point, Jim. Ask Maria,
if she's on duty, and she's always on duty, to give us a cup with a few extra
He laughed again and it was so
damn good to hear that I laughed with him.
We had our food spread out on the
table in the living room and Sandburg was on the floor across from me, legs
crossed and currently scooping salsa up with a red chip. He plopped the loaded
and dripping chip into his mouth and sighed happily. He looked good sitting
there. His hair was down, his blue
and white flannel shirt opened to the third button, sleeves rolled up. He was
barefoot, the sun was going down behind him and a slight breeze ruffled his
hair. I was in sensory heaven.
Blair Sandburg was the perfect
combination of beauty and masculinity at that moment. Of adult and child. Of
sensual and innocent. It was a heady group of combinations.
I watched as he took a swallow of
his beer after rubbing more lime over the rim, watched as his throat moved and
constricted and as I let my eyes move up I was surprised to find his own darker
blues watching me. He put the
bottle down and smiled.
We continued to eat in silence,
but with a silence loud with expectations. I don't think I stopped grinning even
as I chewed.
A quiet burp signaled that
Sandburg was done but the empty plate was evidence enough. My plate looked as
though I'd just taken it from the cupboard. By silent, mutual agreement, we both
rose, gathered up the mess and carried everything into the kitchen.
Working in tandem, we made quick
work of tidying up. As he dumped our beer bottles into the recycle bin under the
sink, I put what was left of the salsa in the fridge for later late-night
munchies. I wrapped the rest of the chips up tight and left them on the sink. I
was thoroughly aware of Sandburg's body next to mine, knew when he turned and
rested his back against the counter, arms crossed over his chest.
I took the salt and pepper and
placed them back on the stove, then mirroring Sandburg, rested with my back
against the oven. We smiled at each other from across the small space that
"Very," I agreed.
"So this protection shit is
Leave it to Sandburg to get to
the heart of the matter.
I nodded and said, "Cross my
heart. So now we can get to the boffing?"
Leave it to Jim Ellison to get to
the dick of the matter.
Blair shook his head and that
rollercoaster that he was so fond of took my heart on the ride of the century.
"I refuse to do anything
that could be described as *boffing like bunnies*. So - unmanly. I, for one, do
*not* boff and I don't, in any way, resemble a bunny."
I think I just - blinked. He went
on - very seriously.
"Now, if you'd like to, say
for instance, rut like rabbits, I could buy into that. I'm a fine *rutter* and
jack rabbits are very - macho."
I found my voice - and my grin -
and my heart.
"But even jackrabbits have
those cute little powderpuff tails, Chief."
"Yes, that's true, but they
also have those lean, powerful back legs ...
legs so strong that they could pull, say, someone your size right into
I fucking refused to have an
orgasm in the kitchen, let alone simply because I now have this vision of....
Besides, I don't want to ruin my
He's smiling and damn if that
smile isn't evil. Well, Detective
Sandburg, allow me to wipe that smile right off your face....
I pushed myself away and my feet
took me the few steps that put me in front of him. I started to place my hands
on either side of his face but stopped. Too much - like - Carolyn. I dropped
them to his shoulders and slowly, carefully and deliberately - kissed him.
I kept my eyes open to half-slits
and enjoyed the view. And the sensations.
Soft, slightly chapped lips,
salty, spicy and a touch of lime. That's my Sandburg.
I moved in closer, angled my head
a little better and tugged. His body came easily and the gentle warmth of
hardness, of flannel, of connecting, of touching him, but touching him like
*this*, sent shock waves tumbling through my body.
We were in a room, a familiar
room, a room that I'd spent the last three years sharing with him and suddenly -
it was totally different. All the meals we'd made together, the discussions, the
arguments, the cleaning up, the seeing him first thing in the morning standing
at the coffee maker, his hair a shambles, thin plaid robe molded to his stocky
body, pale face darkened by heavy overnight stubble, all this rushed through me
as I realized this room would never be the same again. It was still a kitchen -
but now it was *our* kitchen. Hell, we could have sex in it - if we wanted. But
not today. Not now. Which meant we needed to move.
Except we weren't done kissing -
not by a long shot.
And somewhere along the line -
tongues had been added. Oh, yeah.
There is nothing worse than
tasting your dinner again after you've eaten it. That's why they invented Tums.
But tasting it again on Blair?
That's my kind of revisiting.
We kissed for several minutes,
trying various positions, laughing, trading off control, bodies trying in vain
to become one. I was feeling twinges in my lower back and he *had* to have a
crick in his neck, so I pulled away breathlessly and whispered, "would you
kill me if I put you on the counter?"
He took the matter out of my
hands by hopping up and settling in. He reached out, snagged my shirt and
pulled. As I moved in, he spread his legs and I fit perfectly. We went right
back to kissing. Until those jackrabbit legs of his found their way around my
We were going to have sex in the
kitchen. Now. The kissing became -
very active, very urgent. And I discovered just how smooth Sandburg really was.
He had my shirt off faster than - oh, hell, faster than a jackrabbit.
What could I do? Reciprocate, of
Zippers were lowered, healthy,
happy dicks released, and Blair's heels were digging into my back. I could never
in a million years describe how it all felt. But I can say that it was
everything and more than I'd ever imagined.
Hair filled my hands, tickled my
face, and brushed softly against my own smooth chest....
And the sounds, so many different
Mine, mostly varying degrees of
grunts and his, like when he talks, peppered with *ums* and small *oh yeahs*,
little unfinished lectures about the sensitivity of a man's nipples, then
proving it - on me, and finally us, the delicious sounds of pleasure, his and
But it was when he groaned into
my skin at the soft juncture between my shoulder and chest and as we jerked hard
against each other - it was then that I came.
As his name was wrung from me, I
dropped my head onto his shoulder, turned my face, felt the sweat, sighed into
his skin and as he moved hard against me, I bit down and with a cry, he came.
"biting turns you on."
We were still hanging onto one
another, half naked, and I realized with a start that he was holding me up. And
I was holding him - up. I looked at
the mark I left on his neck and licked it gently. He jerked and said, "you
want to go for round two?"
I smiled into his hair.
"We have time, plenty of
I could feel him nod, felt the
hair as it slid along my fevered skin.
"We do. Now that you, Bubba,
are my permanent and official partner."
I'm not going to ask about this
*Bubba* thing, at least not now. I sensed that round two was in fact, coming up.
And of course, this time, *Bubba* was most definitely *not* an insult. So
instead, I kissed him again. He kissed me back and we were off an running.
Looks like the kitchen is gong to
get a real work-out tonight.