Guide for Sale

by alyjude

Sandburg is seeing someone. And it's serious. And I think I might die.

He's been out with her almost every night, her name is Shalene and no, I haven't met her yet. I've somehow managed to be gone when she comes. You think I don't want to meet her? Good thinking. What I do want to do is scratch her eyes out. Can a hefty, all male dude like me really want to scratch a woman's eyes out? Yep, but it's my animal spirit. A panther, you know. Cat. Meow.

Okay, think of something else. Like, who will win the World Series? The Super Bowl? And how about them Jags? And how about how he's been out late, or should I say, early? Like not coming home until two or three in the morning, early? And the booze. What are those two doing? All I can smell is the booze. Tequila.

I admit, the last few weeks have been hell. I'm biting his head off, nervous for him, worried he'll back out on this, Simon is biting the other half off, probably worried about the same thing, and Sandburg's been, well, pre-occupied, studying, learning to use a gun, and no place to go. Weird for him. And he was sticking closer to me than a glob of gum on a shoe. At the station, it had become ~ noticeable.

I know this gun thing is weighing on his mind, at least I think that's the problem, but with Sandburg, you just never know. Then three weeks ago, he met *her*. Shalene. And at the academy, no less. One of seven civilians. And suddenly the gum had been scraped off and I was just begining to get used to the squishy feeling. Shalene this, and Shalene that, and they were off and running. The Sandburg sexual marathon.

And I'm going to die.


Because this time, it's real. He's in love. I can tell. He doesn't bounce.

So why should that kill me? Why can't I be happy for my partner? Because, stupid, *I'm* in love with him. Use your head. And if I'd used mine, I wouldn't be in this fix. He'd know, and we'd be upstairs, boffing like bunnies. I assume. Which is bad. You know what assume means?


Yep. Assume and you make an ass of you and me. No argument there, I am a grade A ass.

I should have told him. I had the perfect opportunity. Several perfect opportunities. But most recently, at the hospital, after his infamous press conference. But nooooo, not me. Not tough as nails, keep it bottled up, me. And I know it's hard, I know what he's going through, hell, just the gun thing alone could so easily undo him. Of course, now, he has Shalene. I hate that name. Shalene.

Is she kissing him and making it all better? Is she giving him the comfort I didn't? Or maybe it's just sex. Yeah, just sex. Oooh, catty, Ellison. Macho Jim Ellison, meow.

I love him. Fucking love him. Want him, every inch of him. Want to run my tongue over the cute little indentation of his sexy temple, in that little swirl of frizz, in the corner, and I want to taste his navel, and cup his balls, feel their warmth, and I want to lick my way down his back, and bite and draw blood, and feel that curve, that soft, delicious curve and the dip just before the swell of those round globes....but he has ~ Shalene.

And I'm going to fucking die.

Who the hell am I talking to, anyway?


Blair Sandburg looked at his watch. He wore one now. Cadets. Watches. Guns. It was after one. AM. His eyes were red, bloodshot, he was tired, and he was brain dead. And he didn't think he could carry this off much longer.

He ordered another Teguila. Downed it.

He was drinking every night, and still going to work the next day, and shooting at targets, and hitting said targets, right where he was supposed to hit them, and it didn't bother him. What bothered him was being so damn alone. He felt like jumping up and down in front of people, waving his hands in front of their faces and yelling, "Hey, it's me, I'm herrrreeee!", but nobody would see him.

He was tired of the *looks*. Those looks. The snide looks. The angry looks. The *offended* looks. Bad at the academy, bad at the station, unless he stuck to Jim. But when he didn't, the looks, well if they could kill, Sandburg would be dead, again. And the whispers. The whispers that were meant to be overheard. That were said just loud enough, by cadets, by instructors, by fellow detectives, to be overheard by him. And they hurt. Words did hurt. Accusing, doubting, hateful words. Like, "How could anyone trust *him*? He's a cheat." Or, "I'd never let him back me up, you can't trust a man like that."

Words shouldn't hurt.

He ordered another drink.

And Jim, biting his head off, and he knew why. "Permanent Partners". Simon had said that. "Official, permanent Partner." Shit, he'd really gotten them both into a mess this time, and no way out. His heart's desire was obviously Jim's worse nightmare.

And Shalene. For awhile, Blair had been able to forget who he was, and who he wasn't, in her arms. In her bed. Someone to hold him, love him, whisper out his name, tell him everything was going to be alright. And then "Skip". Skip Taylor, Mr. Cadet, Mr. Perfect, who'd told Shalene who Blair really was, what he'd done. And Shalene's eyes, when she'd told him she couldn't see him anymore, that what he'd done, was more than she could handle. And while she'd been impressed that he'd told the *truth*, confessed his act, it still wasn't enough.

Shalene started dating Skip.

God, who named their kid, "Skip" anyway?

So now, this little diner, with a cozy little bar in the back, Tequila Shooters, and pretending that all was well, that he and Shalene were wonderful. And why would he do that? Pretend? So Jim would see it wasn't going to be Blair, 24/7. So Jim could relax.

Fuck. It had been stupid to start seeing Shalene anyway, she was just instead of. Never a good reason for any relationship. What she was instead of, he hadn't a clue, but she was.

Hell, Skip could have her. Welcome to her.

And he could have? What? A gold shield. A gun. A partnership with Jim. *Be* with Jim. But not what Jim wanted?

Okay, so become a cop, take the shield, then transfer. Homocide? Burglary? To another precinct? Yeah, another precinct. Without Jim. Seemed kinda ~ pointless.

So, move out, but remain Jim's partner? Preserve the friendship by moving out. Even better. Seperate lives. Work ~ home. Not together. Seperate. Should work, for Jim.

God. Dammit. Fuck. Shit. Crap.

And the really amazing thing? Blair Sandburg was starting to believe he'd done it all. That he'd faked the dissertation, tried to palm off a lie to get his doctorate. That he'd thrown his partner to the wolves for money and fame. He was guilty and what everyone was saying had to be true. He didn't belong, he was untrustworthy, no one should put their life in his hands.

Blair Sandburg looked at his watch. Three o'clock. Time to go home. Crawl into bed, pull up the covers, then get up and start all over again.


Joel Taggert was edgy. The stake-out tonight had delivered nothing, but he felt after weeks of work, it should have. Babcock had obviously gone underground.

No use going home yet, he wouldn't sleep, needed to unwind. Up ahead, Tony's. He pulled the car into the parking lot and sighed. He needed this.

Tony's was an all night diner, but one with a bar in back, so Joel could get a cool beer, unwind, then head home.

As he entered the lounge, the first thing he noticed was Sandburg. You couldn't miss him, he was the only one at a table and the youngest person there.


The head tilted up, blurry eyes focused.

"Hey, Joel."

"Uh, Sandburg, what're you doing here?"

"Just left my ~ girlfriend. Thought I'd stop in, I was thirsty", he ended a bit defensively."

Joel slid in beside the younger man. "Jim was telling us about her. Someone special?"

Blair nodded, "Yeah. Special. For a very special guy."

Joel didn't like this, not one bit. Something was wrong, very wrong. Should he try to get Blair home? Call Jim? Jim would know what to do. Or would he? Things hadn't been going well for the two men lately.

"Uh, Blair? How 'bout we get you home?"

"I was just leaving, Joel. Just leaving."

"So, I'll drive you."

"No need. I'm fine, just tired. Don't worry."

He got up and Joel was surprised at how steady Blair was, how easily he took money out of his wallet and dropped it on the table.

"See? No problem. I'm not drunk. Catch you tomorrow at the station."

Joel let him walk out. And later, he would wonder why.


Blair got into his car, started the engine and pulled out. God, he was glad Joel hadn't insisted, how would he have ever explained it to Jim? About being at Tony's instead of with Shalene?

He turned down Evans, driving slowly, watching the road the way people who have had too much to drink, tend to do, because while he wasn't drunk, his reactions were not up to par.

Up ahead, on the corner, just under a streetlight, he noticed three men. Exchanging something. A briefcase. And Blair recognized one of them.

Carl Babcock. The man half of Major Crimes had been looking for, running stake-outs on, for the last two weeks. Blair reached into his pocket, pulled out his cell and punched the single digit that would connect him to the P.D. and when they answered, he identified himself, and what he was seeing.

The call went out and two detectives, parked less than three miles away, heard it and recognized the green Volvo described in the "officers handle" call. They looked at each other and smirked, and didn't reach for the radio. The little prick could fend for himself.

At the same moment that Detectives Greene and Southern were *not* taking the call, Babcock saw Sandburg and the cellphone. He gestured to his men and all three pulled guns.


Joel Taggert left the bar, feeling uneasy about letting Blair leave. He climbed into his sedan just as the call went out again. Surprised that this was a third call, and recognizing that he was only a few blocks away, he responded. And of course, he recognized the description of the witness's car as well.

As he turned onto Grafton, he noticed the unmarked car, parked, but there was no time to wonder why they weren't responding, right now, he needed to get to Blair. Now other units were responding, but were a few minutes behind him.

As he speeded toward Evans, lights and sirens going, he prayed. Babcock was a ruthless killer and if he spotted Blair?


The men began firing as Blair, realizing exactly what was about to happen, threw the car into reverse and accelerated backwards, rubber burning, tires squealing. As he passed Fifteenth, he braked, shoved it into drive and wheeled it around the corner.

At the same time, Joel turned onto Fifteenth, from the opposite direction.

The two cars slid alongside each other, just as Babcock and his men came around the corner, firing. Joel leaped from his car, dropped behind the open door and returned fire.

At the same moment, several police cruisers rolled around the corner, braking behind Babcock and his men, doors opening, disgorging officers, and someone yelling through a mic, "FREEZE, CASCADE P.D. DROP YOUR WEAPONS!"

Babcock was surrounded. He was not a stupid man, he surrendered.

As the officers made their arrests, Joel stood, holstered his gun and turned to look for Blair, calling his name. And realized that Blair had never gotten out of the Volvo.

He walked toward the car, heart in his throat, and as he got closer, he could see blood on the windshield, he yelled for an ambulance, ran the remaining few steps, yanked the door open and now he could see Sandburg.

Blair was slumped on his side, head resting on his right arm, left arm dangling limp, almost touching the floor. Joel couldn't see his face, as the young man's hair covered it, but he could see all the blood, on the seat, pooling on the floor. Too much blood. Slowly, Joel reached out a shaking hand, moved aside soft curls and put his finger to the still neck.

A pulse.

Thank God.

But so faint. He gently lifted Blair and slid in under him, pulling him over so his head now faced up, resting in his lap. He could see the wound, and he quickly clamped his hand over the gaping hole in Blair's chest, over the bloody air bubbles that told him the bullet had torn a hole in Blair's lung and precious air was escaping. He screamed again for an ambulance. Blair was not going to die, not in Joel Taggert's lap, not in this Volvo, on this stupid street, not at any time.


Blair still wasn't home and no sleep for the Sentinel tonight. Or rather, this morning. It was already after five, so obviously Sandburg wasn't coming home at all.

How long had it been since Blair stayed out all night? Jim couldn't even remember that far back. The phone with it's early morning insistant ring, stalled any further thought.


//It's Taggert. I'm ~ at Cascade General. It's Blair.//

Jim shot up, fingers tightening around the receiver.

"Tell me."

//A shooting. Babcock and Blair was hit//

Jim waited, knowing there was more and holding his breath.

//Jim? It's bad.//

"I'm on my way. Joel? Don't let him ~ go. Don't let him."


A light rain had begun as Simon climbed into his car for the drive to the hospital. Joel had called the minute Blair was wheeled into an emergency cubicle. And Simon was once again on the way to a hospital, in the rain, and didn't it seem like he was always going to the hospital in the rain?

The windshield wipers were making fast work of the wet stuff and Simon couldn't help but notice the sound of the rubber, as it swished it's way across the glass and it seemed to be saying, "BlairBlairBlair" over and

over and Joel hadn't sounded good, not at all and damn, he didn't want to accept this, not any of it.

But there it was.

How many near deaths should one person experience? Or was this a "call-back"? He shuddered at *that* thought. But, maybe the first time, when Jim had somehow brought Sandburg back? Was that a mistake? And now the gods were rectifying it? Taking him back?


He refused to accept that idea too. Rubbish. Gods weren't indian givers. They weren't. And what the hell was an indian giver anyway and was it pc to say? Blair would know.

Blair would know.

He'd blown it. Blair's second chance. A chance none of them had used wisely. He'd sloughed it off, didn't want to think to deeply about the ramifications of the dead coming back to life. Simon could accept the Sentinel thing, sort of, but Blair's death and Jim bringing him back, going in for, too much. So it simply hadn't happened.

So why had he been so angry at Blair? And he'd been shocked by the depth of feeling he'd discovered, harbored deep within him, for the strange anthropologist. And strange was unfair. Unique. The unique anthroplogist. Unique man. So how dare he die? And how dare he force Simon to care, to get under his skin.

Simon thought back to those first days after their return from Sierra Verde. Blair had seemed to jump back into life, embraced it and innocently believed everyone would feel the same. But when those around him hadn't, and Blair had looked about him, at the people he cared formost, and saw not joy, but anger, he'd begun to retreat. Suddenly he was all business, mature, quiet, *jaded* and Simon could pinpoint the retreat. After Brad Ventriss.

Then the dissertation. The press conference, and now the academy. And of course, Simon had heard the talk at the station, questions others had asked him, and he knew Blair had been dealing with that and more, both at the station and at the academy. Tough row to hoe.

The lights of the hospital were just ahead. He picked up his speed.



Page 2