A Good Read

by alyjude

Blair Sandburg's Journal - August, 1999

The academy is not what I thought it would be.

Don't get me wrong, it's not hard. I'm breezing through, even the practical applications are a breeze. I can shoot better than any other cadet, can almost outrun all of them, only Peter Willoughby is faster, and self defence is turning out to be easy, thanks I'm sure, to my size and strength. I fool 'em every time.

No, it's not what I thought because I actually like it.

How I'm treated however, is *exactly* what I thought it would be. I'm basically a pariah, scorned and ignored. They don't even razz me, no hazzing, just ~ ignored. Kinda like home.

I'd be enjoying it, I would. Very much. I'm learning the little things you miss when you're actually in the thick of things. Actually *being* the hostage kind of blunts your observations and technique flies right out the window. But now? Hey, if I'm *ever* taken hostage again? Man, I will be totally awesome!

I'd like to say things are great on the old home front, but I've promised myself to cut down on the obfuscations, especially the ones to myself. So, honestly? Things are pretty crappy. And it's mostly my fault. I know Jim is pretty closed mouthed, okay, that might be a slight understatement, but his body language is pretty easy to read, and right now it's saying,"I'm miserable" and I'm right there with him. Miserable.

I'm not sure what *his* problem is, but I damn well know what mine is.....anger. Blazing anger, burning a hole in my gut, literally. Me, Blair Sandburg, thirty years old and I have a fucking ulcer. And *not* the virus kind. The stress kind. The "keep it inside you until your stomach bleeds out" kind. The kind where because you're keeping this huge anger, this huge hurt, this huge disappointment all bottled up inside, the doctor actually tells you that you have the stomach of a 50 year old stock broker who drinks heavily and that if you don't *do* something real soon, well, he'll be seeing you from his view point of looking down on you from surgery with your stomach cut open.

And what could Blair Sandburg have to actually be angry about? Sweet, take everything life dishes out Blair Sandburg?

Jim really believed that I would sell my dissertation.

He - believed - it.

He believed I would trick him, would sell it, publish it, make a ton of money and Blair - be - gone. I can make excuses, like he was frightened, scared shitless, but why turn against me? I'm his friend, his buddy, his fucking guide, his fucking shaman. And there it is, this anger. This hurt. I'm a tough man, soon to be a cop, and it shouldn't hurt. It shouldn't. But damn, it does.

Here's a little secret. I have friends. Tons. Okay, not anymore, but I *did* have. Scientists, like me, scholars, like me, teachers, like me.

And not one of them meant to me, what Jim did. Not one. Jim was my best friend. In the whole world. He was my family. And I thought I was his. Was. I just wrote, "Was". Doesn't that say it all?

So, like, why am I still at the academy? Hell, I'm still at the loft. Why? Because I'm his fucking guide. And I believe in that. He is a Sentinel and what he does means I cut him some slack. He has a grave responsibility and it weighs heavily on his mind.

He constantly fears an error, one that could cost lives, he constantly fears failure, again, that would cost lives, so a guide is needed. And I'm his guide. I may not be his friend, but I *am* his guide. No, that didn't come out right. I will *always* be his friend, but he doesn't see that. And yet, I know he has good friends, and that is what hurts.

He'd never accuse Simon of selling him out. He'd never even think it. Not for one minute. But me?

So, he doesn't know me. Isn't that the natural conclusion? He can't know me, because if he did, he would never have believed that I could sell him out. Ah, now we get to the hurt. Get it yet? He doesn't *know* me. Almost four years and he doesn't know me, doesn't know what I'm about. Because I was never important enough to get to know. I was not to him, what he was to me. Man, I just re-read that sentence and even *I* found it confusing.

I'm just the guy in the room downstairs. The guy who leaves plates with half eaten dinners on the coffee table, papers all over the loft, dirty towels on the floor, who uses up all the hot water if I get to the shower first, who leaves long strands of hair clogging up the drains, the guy who's car is always breaking down and needs a lift, the guy who listens to weird music and uses weird tribal curatives, who hates football, and weightlifting, who eats tofu and drinks algae shakes, who finds nothing wrong with gambling, or horseracing, but who hates the idea of greyhound racing, who can handle a gun, but believes in gun control, the guy that Jim needs to help him with his senses, even after all this time, but who isn't a good friend. I'm just the guide and room mate. I'm the necessary evil Jim has to put up with in his fight for the safety of his tribe.

So I'm angry. I'm popping two Zantacs a day angry. I'm reduced to a bland diet angry, and thank god I took the physical for the academy weeks ago. I don't remember how to meditate, or how to let go, or how to process. And I don't have anyone to talk to about it. What, I'm gonna ask Naomi? R-i-ight. NOT!


Did I mention, she's not talking to me right now? No? Well, she isn't. Seems that her desire to make up for sending my dissertation to Sid ended about twenty minutes after it was decided that her baby boy was going to the academy. We didn't fight. We *discussed*.

And she left. That was five weeks ago.

The doctor suggested I write in a journal. Why bother to tell her that I've been writing in a journal since the *last* doctor suggested it. Um, that would be about 13 years ago. No, 14. Yeah, fourteen years ago. Sixteen. I mean, I was sixteen when *that* doctor suggested the journal.

I could go back and read some of those journals, like go back, say, two years......but I don't need to. I know exactly what I wrote two years ago this week. I wrote, "I have the hots for Jim Ellison." Yep, that's what I wrote. Later, I wrote, "Okay, I still have the hots for Jim Ellison, but now, well, now I'm kinda in love with him." Love. Friendship. How come I knew it was about friendship and Jim didn't? How come? What, I'm not good enough? That's unfair. Never in a million years would Jim and I have been friends if we hadn't been thrown together because of this Sentinel business. Never. He could have run across me on some case and shrugged his shoulders and cracked a few jokes about me with the rest of the guys back at the station. No, I would never have been someone he called friend. Why should I be surprised? Why should it hurt?

I graduate in one week. I didn't have to cut my hair, thanks to Simon. But maybe I should. And maybe......NO! I'm me. Who I am. And if it's not enough, so be it. Besides, do I really believe that cutting my hair, and changing how I dress will change me? Will make me somebody Jim would want to be friends with? Nope, not gonna happen. To quote Popeye, "I y'am what I y'am."

Did I mention that I don't get to graduate with the rest of the cadets? The commissioner accepted the fact that I would be *in* the class, but he put his foot down when it came to me graduating with the *honest* cadets. Did I mention that if I *were* to graduate with them, I'd be graduating at the top of the class? Number one. Me. Naomi's little flowerchild. Did I ever mention that she actually did consider calling me, Silvermoon? Good God. Silvermoon Sandburg. Holy shit. God, it felt good to laugh, for just a moment. Silvermoon Sandburg. What would Jim have called me then? He has enough trouble with "Blair". Too girly? To - what?

You know, I've never heard him call Joel, Megan, Rafe, Henri or Simon by a nickname. Well, we all call Henri, "H", but that's everybody. Come to think of it, I've never heard him give anyone a nickname, except that joker in the car theft ring. He called him "Chief", right here, in the loft. Is that Freudian or what?

I'm thinking way too much here. Like, did Jim ever really *like* me? Should that even be important to me? Should I care? How macho is macho? God, another good laugh. Like I've ever been considered macho? I'm smiling here. So, I can say that I do care. And I find myself asking the same question again.

Did Jim ever *like* me?

I can make him laugh. I'm the source of humor in his life. And frustration. Tons of frustration. He must have trusted me at some point. He trusted me with his life. His secret. He was glad I went to Peru with him. And wasn't he glad when I decided not to go to Borneo? And didn't he bring me back from the dead?

Why did he bring me back? There is a question that has been puzzling me for months. Maybe he didn't have a choice? He sure didn't seem to care afterwards. A Sentinel - Guide thing? Oh, I'm not saying he would want me dead. He didn't hate me that much.

I just re-read that. Do I think he hated me? Hates me? That's an emotion. A strong emotion. I wrote it, I must, on some level, believe it. God damn. Does he? No, there'd have to be something to hate. I don't, couldn't, foster such an emotion, could I? And why? What have I done? What could I possibly do to initiate such a response? A few wet towels just doesn't cut it.

God, I'm tired. So fucking tired. And right now, my stomach hurts so fucking bad.....and I still have several hours of studying left. Finals, don'tcha know. Finals. Police finals. Police.

I've got to write this, see what it looks like in black and white:

Detective Blair Jacob Sandburg.

Blair Jacob Sandburg, Detective.

I like it. No, I *love* it. Maybe I'll find something in the above, something to help me forget what I'm not. Be of real use, not just Jim's guide, but maybe Jim's *real* partner. Earn.....his ~ respect?

But even without him in the picture, I love the idea of being a detective. All the flower children of the sixties just turned over in their graves. The ones who are alive are CEO's now.

Wait, before I sign off, I just have to write one more thing:

Detective Silvermoon Sandburg.

Man, I need another Zantac.

August 28, 1999 - 11:30pm


He reached up, rubbed his jaw and found something wet, something ~ salty, running down his cheek.

Tears. He was ~ crying. Silently, quietly crying. His soul, aching, his heart, cracking.


Gently, Jim Ellison closed the thick book marked, "Journal - #28 -1999".


Jim Ellison had cried twice in his life. Twice in forty plus years. This made three times. Men don't cry. They can hurt, but they can't cry. They mustn't show the weakness. Fuck the weakness. And hadn't he learned anything from Sandburg in all these years?

He palmed his eyes, rubbing hard, trying to end the stinging pain, and his breath, skipping, hitching, trying to catch up to itself, and his soul, if he could just mend his soul......

He should never have gone into Sandburg's room. But he had laundry to drop off. He should never have picked up the book, lying, open, face down on the floor. But he was a well known neat freak. He should never have read it, once he went into the room with laundry, once he'd picked it up from the floor.

And he was thanking God he had.

Thank God he'd gone into the room with laundry, noticed the book, picked it up and read it. No excuse for reading it, but those first words, about the academy, well, he'd been worried sick about Blair and the academy, about his *friend* and the tough world of cadets, of guns, of procedures, of laws, of fighting, of defending oneself and the good citizens of Cascade.

Worried sick about what it meant to his *friend* the anthropologist, the teacher, the peace and brotherhood loving Blair Sandburg. Worried sick about *why* Blair Sandburg, his *friend*, was doing this, was becoming a cop, a pig, a policeman, the *man*.

So he'd read it. And he'd gotten a great deal more than he'd bargained for, no doubt.

For one thing, he'd discovered that Blair was just fine with the Academy, that it was James Ellison he had the problem with, and James Ellison couldn't blame him one bit. Blair understood everything, and he understood nothing. Which pretty much summed up Blair Sandburg and his relationship with the closed mouthed Ellison.

And did any of this matter? Did the why's, the reasons matter? No. What mattered was that he, James Ellison, get his butt over to the academy, this fine Saturday morning, and straighten things out with his *friend*.

His best friend. Because he knew that's where Sandburg was right now, at the academy. Because it was September 4th, 1999, and tonight at six o'clock, Blair's class would graduate, without Blair, so he was there now, watching the rehersals. That last part was an assumption on Jim's part, because Blair had left a note on the kitchen table, telling Jim that he would be at Cleveland Hall, and since he'd taken his last final two days ago, and there was no reason for Blair to *be* at the Academy today, and because Jim really *did* know his best friend, he knew that Blair was taking his small part of the graduation and giving it to himself. The rehersal.

He got up off the bed, the bed in Blair's room, where he shouldn't have been, and moved, ancient, into the bathroom, where he splashed cold water onto his face, and looked at the man in the mirror, and wondered not for the first or last time, just who the fuck he was, and how could he have screwed up so badly, and how, knowing full well the gifts his father had bestowed upon him, gifts like, repression, and stoicism, and keeping your emotions in check, and don't let the other guy see you sweat, and don't do anything that could be construed as *different*, and don't, under any circumstances, cry, could he *still* have managed to foul up his relationship with the one person who meant more to him than anything or anyone else?

Blair had been right, and Blair had been wrong. Jim had never really believed that the younger man had purposely sold his dissertation, that had been his fear and hurt talking. But he *had* believed that Blair would accept. Would take the brass ring and go. He'd believed that all along. That one day ~ Blair Sandburg would go. And he had to tell Blair the truth. And try to explain that it wasn't a lack of *knowing* his partner, but rather, the *absence* of believing in *anyone*, that deeply. Would Blair understand? Forgive?

Hell, did *he* understand? Did he forgive himself? How the fuck could he explain this to Sandburg?

And no, Jim didn't believe in anyone that deeply, not Simon, not Steven, not his father. But gradually, he'd come to believe in himself, thanks to Blair, so if Blair had given him that gift, the gift of self knowledge, why was he still testing Blair? Why this *need* to test? And how much would he throw at Blair before he finally believed in him?

He'd threatened to pull his friendship over the first chapter of the infamous dissertation, he'd thrown him out of his home, and again threatened to pull his friendship after finding out about Alex, always the friendship, always pulling it, like it was tangible, like there was no room for mistakes, like telling Blair, "Play by my rules and I'll be your friend, but if you don't, you're history", when what he should have been saying was, "I'm your friend for life, it's unconditional, like my love."

Like my love. Another issue to be dealt with and now. Because his feelings for Blair were equal to or greater than, Blair's feelings for him.

The Academy. Now.

He moved out of the bathroom, grabbed his jacket and keys, opened the front door, and stepped into Simon.

The two men collided, then Simon stepped back, shaking his head, and muttered something about sentinels and hearing and always opening the door *before* he knocked, but not this time, oh, no, this time he tries to kill him.....

"Sorry, Simon. My mind, elsewhere. You okay?"

"I'm fine, no thanks to you. And where's the fire?"

"I just ~ need, have to, I'm going to the Academy," he finally finished.

"The Academy? I'm actually here to take you guys out, to get Blair' mind *off* the Academy, off graduation. Thought we'd pick-up Daryl and head over to the batting cages."

"I think Sandburg's watching the rehersals. I was on my way over there to, well.....".

"Two brilliant minds? Look, let's go get him and give the kid a great day," Simon held up his hand as Jim started to say something, then added, "I know, he's no kid. But to me, he is. I'm old enough to be his father, God help me."

And Jim found himself thinking that maybe this was the way. Get Blair in a good mood, have some fun, then tonight, alone, they could talk.

He nodded his agreement and added, "Let's go."


Commander Michael Schilling sat at his desk, and looked across the mahogany surface to the man seated across from him. Commissioner Arthur Wilder.

"I'm surprised to see you here so early, Art. The ceremony doesn't begin until six."

Wilder smiled his best politician's smile, one that was totally wasted on the Commander, as the two men had grown up together and Wilder was now married to Schilling's sister.

"I wanted a few minutes with our fifth generation cadet. We're celebrating some history tonight, Mike, with not only the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Police Academy, but the graduation of our first fifth generation cop. There isn't likely to be any time later, what with reporters and family members clammoring around their graduates, so I snuck in after a round of "loosing golf" with the Mayor. You don't have a problem with that, do you?" He was smiling, knowing full well that Mike couldn't care less.

"No problem. Peter Willoughby is a fine man, an excellent cadet and will undoubtedly do his family proud. And the opportunity to be personally congratulated by the Commissioner, well, I'm sure he'll be honored."

This last remark was followed by a snort, and both men laughed heartily.

As the laughter died down, Wilder asked, "Just tell me that young Willoughby is at or near the top of his class?"

Schilling had been tilted back in his chair, relaxed and smiling, but at Wilder's words, he sat abruptly forward, a frown creasing his distinguished features.

"Well, technically speaking.....he's number two. Technically speaking."

Wilder's head tilted, his eyes narrowing, "Mike? Someone is either number one, or not. What's with this "technical" crap?"

"Technically, there is another cadet, who is actually, technically, number one. But as he isn't, technically graduating with the rest of his class, you could say that Willoughby is, of those actually graduating, number one in his class."

"Technically speaking, of course?" Wilder quizzed, with just a touch of sarcasm.

"Yes. Technically speaking."

"Cut the crap and spit it out."


*That* took the wind out of Wilder's sails.

"Sandburg? You're telling me that Blair Sandburg is number one in his class?"

"Technically. Yes."

"The long-haired, anthropologist is number one. Number fucking one. Well, I'll be damned, " Wilder looked up then, catching Schillings eye, and he smiled, ruefully.

"You realize that I agreed to Simon's request because I didn't think Sandburg would ever finish, let alone come in at number one."

"I figured as much. But you shouldn't be surprised. The record speaks for itself and the record says that Sandburg has done more than his share, contribution wise, for Major Crimes. And he was a damn fine cadet. He earned his ranking."

"That seems to be in direct conflict with what we know of him, after all, he did falsify an academic paper, which in turn nearly tore the Police Department apart. If Simon Banks weren't a trusted friend, Sandburg would have been out on his ass. Period."

"Yes, well, all evidence to the contrary, Blair Sandburg has been an exemplary cadet, in spite of going it alone. He's had no help, no friends, every instructor has made his six weeks a living hell, every cadet has done the same. Yet he perservered, he succeeded. That doesn't sound like a cheat to me. And Art, if I had my way? *Detective* Sandburg would graduate with his class."

"I guess I shouldn't be surprised. Didn't Susan work with Ellison and Sandburg at one point?"

"Yes, and her opinion of Sandburg was very high, and I trust her opinion."

Before Wilder could respond, a disembodied voice spoke through the intercom system, informing Schilling that his wife had just arrived. At a nod from Wilder, Schilling responded, "Thank you, Lucy, show her in."

The door opened and Susan Finkleman Schilling walked in, smiling broadly as she noticed Commissioner Wilder.

"Art, what a surprise."

Both men stood, and as Susan leaned in and gave Wilder a chaste kiss on the cheek, he said,"I'm begining to feel unappreciated, or as if I never get down here. It's always such a surprise when I visit."

"Art, when was your last visit?" Schilling inquired.

"Seven months ago, darling. Lieutenant Wilson's retirement." Susan spoke for Wilder.

"Yes, well. Like I said, it's not as if I never visit. And right now, I'm fast running out of time, if I'm going to get a chance to speak with Willoughby. Are they down at Cleveland Hall?"

Schilling looked at his watch and nodded, "Yes, rehersal started about fifteen minutes ago." He turned to his wife and asked, "Why don't we go down with Art? Give the graduates a real thrill?"

"I'm game, but how you think seeing us would thrill those young cadets, I'll never know."

Schilling laughed as he came around his desk and put his arm around his new wife and the three people left the office, chattering and laughing.

At the front gate to the academy, a K-9 unit pulled up and was waved in, the officer at the gate barely registering the policeman behind the wheel.

The K-9 unit continued up the long drive, and when he came to a road marked "utility vehicles only", he turned in and continued for several feet until he came to a small building. The officer got out, looked in both directions, then slipped a magnetic card into the door lock and with a whoosh, the door opened. The officer slipped inside.

The building he'd entered was the brain of the Academy. The phones, alarms, gates, everything, was operated automatically, by the computers in this room. The Cascade Police Academy was state of the art.

Unfortunately, humans still guarded gates and programmed computers. And humans could so easily undo all that state of the art technology.

The officer spent the next several minutes setting the room up so that on a predetermined time shedule, he would, in fact, be the person to undo this particular state of the art technology. He placed several small bundles in strategic spots, and when done, nodded at his handiwork and left the same way he'd entered.

He climbed into the car, backed down the same road, backed onto the main drive and continued through the grounds, following the signs that pointed the way to Cleveland Hall. At one point, he passed three people, two men and one woman, walking, laughing, completely unaware that someone who didn't belong, was driving so easily down their roads, on Academy property, moving unchallenged, and who had only violence on his mind. The officer gave the three people barely a glance, but he recognized one of them, he recognized Commissioner Wilder, and he smiled.


Blair Sandburg sat on the catwalk, overlooking the small stage, and watched as his fellow cadets practised the march up to the podium, pretended to receive diplomas, then walked back to their seats.

They'd been at it for the last fifteen minutes, and considering that the youngest cadet was twenty-three and the eldest was thirty-five, they all acted as though it were a high school graduation, instead of twenty-two police cadets. Twenty two men and women who, on Monday, would hit the streets with guns, ready to defend, with their lives, if necessary, the good people of Cascade. But right now, they were still cadets, and so they laughed, and pushed, and jostled and joked. And Blair would have liked to have been with them. Joking, laughing.

But instead, he watched.

Cleveland Hall was the smaller of the two auditoriums contained within Academy grounds, with capacity for about two hundred. It had stadium seating and was used to both welcome new cadets, and to graduate the cadets who made it through the grueling twelve week course.

Of course, in any class, there were exceptions, these were the cadets called, "The half dozen", men and women who came to the Academy with previous training, and who spent only six of the twelve weeks in the program. Like Sandburg. And Jim Ellison before him. But these "Half dozen" graduated with their class, unless they were Blair Sandburg.

It had been foolish to come up here. To hide. To watch. Blair Sandburg didn't hide. But he'd wanted to take part in the ceremony somehow, to bring closure to his weeks of training. He already had his shield, his gun. Simon had given them to him on Friday, after receiving confirmation of Blair's status. He had both with him now, his shield resting in his jacket pocket, his number already memorized, 5172, and his gun, snug in it's shoulder holster, strapped across his chest. Oddly enough, it felt ~ right.

The doors at the front of the hall opened, so Blair leaned forward and was surprised to see Commander Schilling walking up the aisle, Captain Finkleman, or rather, *Mrs* Schilling next to him and behind them both, Commissioner Wilder.

A murmur of approval swept through the cadets, and Peter Willoughby stood and began to applaud, the other cadets quickly joining him. Commissioner Wilder shook hands, smiled, and even spoke to a few as he made his way up to the stage.

At that moment, the side doors opened and Captain Simon Banks and Detective Jim Ellison entered the hall.

Jim had found the heartbeat he wanted, looked up and immediately spotted Sandburg and gave a small beckoning motion. Blair, puzzled, was about to turn around and move toward the stairs when he noticed for the first time, that someone else had followed the Commissioner into the hall. An officer, but with a difference. In one hand, he held a gun, and in the other, a grenade.

There was no time to give a warning. The officer raised his gun and fired into the air.

The sound bounced around the hall, and all eyes turned to the man with the gun.


Unfortunately, one instructor, near the steps to the stage, decided to make a move, to try and slip out, but the grenade toting officer saw him and brought his gun down and in line to fire. Simon was nearest the instructor and made a move to stop him, to protect him, but Ellison was faster. The officer fired and Jim went down.

Twenty-two cadets, three instructors, the Commissioner, the Commanding Officer of the Cascade Police Department, his wife, an ex-police captain herself, the Captain of Major Crimes and one wounded detective. All hostages. And now, not a single gun among them.

And several feet *above* them all, Blair Sandburg, the only *armed* officer, stood, thinking, and watching, watching as Simon pressed his hand over the wound above Jim's heart, and watched the blood leaking through hard pressed fingers.



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