Title: Like Father
Pairing: J/B, B/J, Jim and Blair, Blair and Jim (I'm Sooooo stuck)
Rating: Don't faint - Only R, for violence, kind of, and mild sex, kind of... oh, dear, I *am* slipping....
Category: Humor, drama, first time, the kitchen sink....
Date: August 19, 2001
Status: Not exactly new. This was developed on senad as a series of snippets in the Great Senad Snippet Race of 2001. <G> But much has been added. Series/Sequel: This is not a series or sequel but will have a sequel
Disclaimer: Um... I can say this, I can... I -- don't, you know... um, er, I don't -- OWN -- them. Whew, that was hard. Warnings: Oh, the usual. Some angst, some *beatblairupforanewreason*, which causes poor Jim to hurt....
Note: Thanks to melvin for the quick beta on this previously unbeta'd *posted to senad* snippet!
Summary: Wherein Jim, Simon and Blair are kidnapped, but not for the usual reasons and while kidnapped, Simon discovers something and Jim discovers something and Blair *really* discovers something.
"Sandburg, what the hell are you doing?" Simon asked, exasperated.
Blair, who'd been standing in the middle of the small room staring up at the ceiling, waved a hand aimlessly about his head and said, "Um, well, you know, the ceiling."
Simon shot a look at Jim that clearly said do something so nodding, Jim glanced up and said, "Yep, that's a ceiling. Every building has one, Chief."
Blair gave Jim his best thank you very much - NOT look and said, "I was looking for a vent or something. You know, to escape out of?"
"Ah. Gotcha." Jim turned to Simon. "He was looking for a vent or something...."
"Jim? I heard him. Tell him to stop. He looks funny."
"Sandburg, Simon says to stop, you look funny, though how he can tell the difference is beyond me, but hey...."
Blair umphed, then muttered, "Man, you two are so much fun. And to share this kidnapping with you guys? Wow, I'm all tingly."
Blair began to pace and Simon and Jim watched from their respective spots holding up the walls of their prison, with Simon wondering how the hell they'd all been taken so easily. Jim was a sentinel for crying out loud.
"Jim, how the hell did we get taken, anyway? You're a sentinel, for crying out loud."
Ellison shrugged and pointed at their pacer. "His fault, sir. He let that woman spray me with cologne."
Blair stopped his pacing and faced his two friends. With hands on his hips, he said indignantly, "I did what? I did no such thing. Who'd expect some lady in a restaurant spraying guests with cologne as they leave, uh? Tell me that?"
"Oh, I don't know, maybe somebody who forgot that his favorite bistro was having a fashion show in the garden room?"
"Umph," Blair snorted as he went back to pacing. "Not my fault, no sir. You two are the cops and the seasoned veterans. Me, I'm just the observer, remember? The tag-a-long, the civilian, the *stay in the truck* anthropologist."
Both Jim and Simon rolled their eyes heavenward. Like they hadn't heard this before?
"You gonna pace long, Sandburg?"
"He always paces, Simon. It's what he does. You just have to get used to it."
"Jim, that's not fair. I only pace under certain circumstances and this happens to be one of them. In fact, it happens to be number two on my hit parade of pacing circumstances. Number one being while waiting to hear if you're dead or alive and this one, number two, right after we've been kidnapped and thrown into a small, windowless, ventless cement room with only one door."
"There you have it, Simon. Nothing you can do but accept it."
"You're so helpful, Ellison."
"You're welcome, sir."
Blair kept on pacing, then ran his hands through his messed up tangle of hair. "This is, like, so unfair."
Jim looked at Simon as Simon looked at Jim and said, "Uh, Jim? You want to ask him, or should I?"
"Oh, sir, why don't you?"
"Sandburg," Simon asked patiently, "why is this so unfair?"
"Surely you don't think they kidnapped us for me, do you? You're Captain of Major Crime and he," Blair jerked a thumb at Jim, "he's Detective of the Year three years running now. They probably want information from one or both of you and here I am, stuck in the middle, an observer. Now just who do you think they'll pick to torture in order to get you two to talk, uh? Me, of course. The short, cute, young one, that's who."
"Well," Simon huffed, "you're short anyway."
Ignoring the jibe, Blair went on. "See? That's why this is so unfair. They'll use me as a punching bag; slide sharp sticks up my fingernails; pull out my molars, all to get you guys to break. They always chose the young, short ones. Always."
"You left out cute. And Chief?" Jim walked to the center of the room and placing both his hands on Blair's shoulders, added, "I promise and give you my solemn oath as Detective of the Year - three years running - that no matter what they do to you? I won't crack. Uh-huh, no way, not me. You have my word."
Blair rolled his eyes and with the sarcasm fairly dripping, said, "Oh, I feel so much better now, Jim."
"I live to serve, Chief." After playfully chucking him under the chin, Jim went back to holding up his wall.
As Blair watched his friend move away, his expression brightened. "Hey, Simon, this is your first time with the whole Sandburg-Ellison thingy, isn't it?"
"If you mean being kidnapped with you two jerks, yeah. And talk about unfair."
Jim cleared his throat to get the attention of his friends, then pointed out, "That should be; the Ellison-Sandburg thingy."
"Actually," Simon corrected, "It should be the Banks-Ellison-Sandburg thingy."
"Well, to be honest," Blair offered, "It should be the Banks-Ellison-Short, cute, punching bag thingy."
Simon nodded. "I stand corrected. The Banks-Ellison-Big mouthed, punching bag thingy."
Before Sandburg could come up with an appropriate retort, Jim held up his hands. "Quiet, they're coming."
"Oh, swell, here it comes."
Sandburg walked quickly to Jim's wall and stood next to him just as a small window was revealed by a sliding portion of the door. A voice barked out, "All of you, over against the opposite wall, shoulder to shoulder, hands raised."
The three men did as instructed even as Jim mouthed, "four men". The door swung open and one large man, face covered by a ski mask, stepped in as three others, also wearing masks, flanked him. The three tight ends all held weapons aimed at the unarmed men.
"Mr. Sandburg, step forward, you're coming with us."
Blair blinked a couple of times as Jim pushed away from the wall and stood in front of Sandburg. The rifles were raised and aimed at Jim while the man who'd spoken lifted a long black object.
"Detective Ellison, you don't want me to use this, do you? And I do believe you know what it is? We need Mr. Sandburg, and we need him now. This can go easy or hard, your choice."
Blair stepped in front of Jim, elbowing him back and away.
"Okay, fine, I'm coming, but I gotta tell ya, this is not how it's supposed to go down. I'm the nobody, you know?"
As Blair got within reach, the big man grabbed his arm, spun him around and before Jim could blink, they were gone and the door was slammed shut.
Jim turned to his captain and friend, a lost expression on his face. "Simon?"
His arms held behind his back and the long black cattle prod against his hip, Blair was marched down a never ending hall, until it ended - at an elevator. He was shoved inside, the other men stuffing themselves in with him.
The small elevator was clearly not made for one short, cute, punching bag and four bruisers - none of whom had dared to use Dial that morning. Blair screwed up his nose and tried holding his breath. It didn't work.
The elevator climbed several stories and when the door slid open, Blair found himself staring at a huge, empty, cavern of a room. He was pushed out and immediately a voice, altered by a machine, spoke.
"Now, now, don't harm our young man. You know the rules. Just bring him here."
Here turned out to be a long table that as they walked, became visible. The ceiling overhead was a couple of stories high, with grimy skylights that dropped smudgy trails of light across the floor. As they crossed each stripe of muted sun, a dark form beyond the table, began to take shape. The silhouettte of a man.
Okay, this was good, Blair thought. They were trying to hide who they were. Very good. No see, no identify, no kill. Blair shook his head at the sudden baby talk in which his mind had started to indulge. Fright did that to a guy. Even a tough macho guy like... um, er, like... Jim. So that meant that baby talk was just fine for Blair Jacob Sandburg - King of the Wusses.
The man holding him stopped in front of the table and Sandburg blanched. A tray. With only a knife resting on its gleaming surface. But hey, it was a nice tray, silver from the looks, antique even. The knife, on the other hand, was definitely not antique.
The weird voice spoke and thankfully took his mind from the gleam of the sharp-edged weapon.
"Mr. Sandburg, welcome."
Finding his voice, Blair swallowed and with what he thought was a brave, blustery tone, said, "Thank you so much. Nice accommodations. But you should know something. If you plan to torture me in order to get information from Ellison or Banks, well, they should probably be here, you know?"
A laugh full of static and electric vibrations filled the cave of a room. The sound made Blair step back, his expression one of eerie disgust.
"Oh, please, Mr. Sandburg. We don't want any information from Captain Banks or Detective Ellison. In fact, that they are even here is merely an accident."
The dark shape that represented his captor's head, cocked slightly as he continued. "You know, you are very difficult man to find alone. There always seemed to be someone with you. Students, professors, detectives, friends. And may I say that Ellison seems to be stuck to your side with Elmer's Glue."
"Gee, so sorry about that."
"Well, it did make it increasingly difficult to take you, Mr. Sandburg. So difficult in fact, that we were finally forced to make a small compromise and take your two friends as well. No choice. But believe me, they will be released unharmed as long as they behave themselves."
"Now that could be a problem. Neither man is known for their ability to behave. Especially around, well, you know - criminals. It's an occupational hazard."
"Well, for their sake, Mr. Sandburg, let's hope they can curb their natural tendencies, shall we? Now, as to why you are here...."
"I'm dying to know - NOT."
That same weird laughter floated out and Blair would have taken another step back, but he couldn't. Bruiser number two stood behind him.
"Mr. Sandburg, you're going to be a delightful guest. Unfortunately, this slight detour in the on-going adventure of your life may not always be comfortable for you. You're here because your presence will ensure that a man does what my employers require of him."
Sandburg frowned even as he shook his head in disbelief. "Nuh-huh, I don't think so. You must have me mixed up with someone else. There is no one out there who would be in the least bit intimidated by you having me except my mother, and she has nothing your employers would want or need, unless it's to learn how to meditate. She can go five hours straight.
"Although, now that I think about it, there might be a few people, like some students, a couple of my professors, and my advisor, who'd probably pay you to keep me."
"Oh, I don't think so, Mr. Sandburg. I know of one man who will do exactly as we ask, in order to keep you safe. His name is Jacob Paul Meyerson. Of course, you probably know him as JP Meyers."
The laugh that now filled the room was Blair's, who, after he finally calmed down and after wiping the tears from his face, said, still smiling, "Oh, yeah, the JP Meyers, the lawyer known as the Robin Hood of the Pacific Northwest, is gonna do anything to protect some geeky anthropologist and doctorate wannabe. Right. You guys are really funny - and sick. You should get some help. Soon."
If he'd stopped to think, which as usual he didn't, he'd have realized that making fun of one's captors was not good practice. Not good at all. The man with the cattle prod punched it into his thigh and growled out, "One touch, sir. That's all it would take to wipe that smile from his face."
The shrouded figure held up one hand. "No, don't. He simply doesn't understand. But he will. Take his earrings, the necklace and the two rope bracelets from him and place them on the tray. And be gentle."
Before Blair could react, two of the bruisers were holding him while the one with the cattle prod was pulling his native bracelets from his wrist, then yanking off his necklace. All were dropped on the tray. Then the man came back, his hand reaching for the loops. Blair ducked his head and pleaded, "Let me remove them. I value my ears, man."
"Let him," said the disembodied voice.
The man stopped and waited as one of the bruisers let Blair's right arm go. Sandburg immediately reached up and took out the earrings, then placed them on the outstretched palm. They were set down with the others.
"Mr. Sandburg, I'm afraid this next part is not going to be very nice for you. But please understand, we must send the appropriate message."
The man stood and walked the few paces to the table but as much as Blair tried to see who his features, the darkness kept him safely blanketed. But Blair did see the gloved hand reach out and pick up the knife.
"Bring him here."
Mr. Cattle Prod took great delight in placing one beefy hand behind Blair's neck even as the prod was shoved the prod into his back. Blair was moved forward and another bruiser took his left arm, and in spite of Blair's struggle, his hand was placed palm up on the table.
"No, over his jewelry. His hand must be held over all the pieces."
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God....
His hand was raised and moved and the gleaming sharp edge of the weapon was poised over his palm.
"I know you won't believe me, but this is going to hurt...."
"Oh, puh-leeze, do not say this is going to hurt you more than me. Trust me when I say, it won't."
"You're probably right, Mr. Sandburg. Let's get it done."
The knife came down and Blair shut his eyes as a moment later the blade slid over the tender flesh of his palm. He winced, the pain truly horrific, but refused to give them the satisfaction of making a sound. The cut was deep and he understood why. It had to bleed - on his jewelry.
As his blood dripped large red splotches over shining jewelry, and still keeping his eyes tightly shut, Blair said tersely, "I've never even met Meyers. You're wasting not only my blood, but damn it, you're ruining my stuff for no good reason. This is ridiculous."
"Mr. Sandburg, I think your father will be duly impressed. And yes," he added, as Blair's eyes popped open, "you heard me correctly. JP Meyers is your father."
"It'll be fine, Detective. Blair will be - fine."
"They took him, Simon. They took him."
Simon walked the few steps to Jim's side and placed a reassuring hand on the younger man's shoulder. "He'll be fine. And he'll be back."
Jim stared at the door and shook his head helplessly. "We were joking, you heard me. You heard what I said. I was just joking. Just joking."
"Jim, stop it. Something's up and we've got to keep our heads. Can you hear them? Can you hear anything?"
"No, no, nothing. I can't hear anything. I heard them walking down the hall, and maybe - maybe an elevator? But now, nothing. No heartbeats, no talking, just this weird kind of buzzing."
"Okay, so no help there. How about - smell?"
"When did you start using Old Spice?"
Rolling his eyes, Simon said, "Gift. Daryl. Birthday. Okay?"
"They have to bring him back, Simon. You know?"
"I know, Jim, I know."
And Simon did know. And yet, knowing did nothing to diminish his surprise at Jim's reaction. This total lost appearance of his best man, a man who'd been a Ranger... the complete look of helplessness on Jim's face because his partner had been taken....
Simon wondered what his face looked like.
Blair was escorted to the elevator and he couldn't stop staring at his hand - his bandaged hand. They - no - he, the mysterious he - had actually bandaged it. The stranger in the dark had bandaged the damn thing. Sheesh, they just weren't making criminals and kidnappers like they used to - in the good old days - of last week.
Before he realized it, he was once again shoved into the tiny moving cubicle with Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee, the other two bruisers remaining behind. Flanked by the huge guards, Blair glanced up and said, "You guys ever consider, like, using soap when you shower?"
Neither man twitched.
"You guys do shower, right?"
Man, he was so crazy. But blood-letting, especially his, seemed to go straight to his head. And damn it, his hand hurt like a son of a bitch.
And he - seemed to have inherited a father.
Somehow a laugh managed to escape, which caused his - escorts - to look down at him. What could he say? How was he supposed to explain the slightly hyste laughter? *Well, see guys, apparently I collect criminal fathers the way Jim collects criminal girl friends? And what was with that anyway? Fortunately, he didn't have to say anything; the elevator door opened.
A push sent him flying into the hall and he had to catch himself by putting out a hand to keep the wall from connecting with his face - ouch, guess which hand?
"You know," he said as they dragged his sorry ass down the hall, "I was just offering a little helpful hint regarding hygiene. You should be grateful. Really. The women, you know?"
Each goon put a hand under his armpit and lifted. Blair found himself being carried to the door of the cell. Ever conscious of not looking like a geek, he refrained from kicking his legs.
At the cell door, one of the goons opened the window and barked out, "Back to the walls, gentlemen or your friend will suffer."
Blair could hear movement, then the door was opened and he scrunched up his eyes because he knew exactly what was about to happen....
They threw him in. Head first.
By some miracle, the floor didn't rush up to meet him because by some fantastic act of brilliance, Jim caught him.
As he was held up by Jim's hands under his armpits, he yelled over his shoulder, "See if I ever give you guys advice again!"
The door slammed shut.
And he was still in Jim's arms.
Then Jim's nose wiggled. Blair was easily shifted into one arm, thus allowing Jim to capture Blair's injured hand.
"What the fuck?"
"You couldn't hear?"
Staring at Blair's hand, Jim shook his head.
"There's just this buzzing after you get down the hall about fifty feet. Although, I, is there an elevator?"
"Yeah. We went up about seven floors. And you never heard anything?"
"Nothing after the elevator."
"This is weird, man. They can't know. No way. So there must be some natural occurring white noise or your senses are going whacky. Too weird."
"Sandburg, what the fuck happened?" Simon asked impatiently and not without a touch of worry as he looked at the bandaged hand. A hand where the white gauze was starting to turn red.
"Oh, hi, Simon. Sorry."
"Oh, see, it appears I'm, like, hey, you guys are gonna get a kick out of this, but I'm like, being kidnapped - for ransom, sort of."
Jim reached up and touched Blair's earlobe. "Chief, your earrings."
"Oh, yeah. They took them, and my bracelets and my necklace. Then they cut my hand and made sure it bled all over everything. Like totally cruel and unnecessary, you know? Like JP Meyers is gonna care?"
Simon and Jim exchanged worried glances. Maybe Blair had lost too much blood?
"Blair, how much blood did you lose?"
"I don't know, Jim. I got a little light-headed, but that was probably shock."
Simon was still stuck on JP Meyers.
"Uh, Sandburg? JP Meyers?"
"Yeah, he's supposed to be - are you ready for this? He's supposed to be my father! Is that a hoot or what?"
There was stunned silence, then Blair said in an odd voice, "Jim? You know you're still holding me? Up? In your arms?"
"Oh. Okay. As long as you know."
They were on the floor with Simon sitting on one side of Sandburg, Jim the other. Both were looking at Blair's hand. Blair was trying to be patient. And tolerant. One guy going into some sort of sentinel, territorial, over-protective mode was bad enough, but two? And Simon was no sentinel.
"Stop trying to pull your hand away, Sandburg."
Blair gave another aborted attempt as he answered Simon. "My hand is fine, sir. Would you guys just leave it alone?"
"It's not fine, Chief. This is a deep cut. Too damn deep."
"And you're going to do what about it? Stitch it up? Lick it clean? What?"
Simon looked at Jim over Blair's curly bent head and with one eyebrow raised, said, "Uh, lick it clean, Detective?"
"It's a jaguar reference, Simon. Ignore it. Blair gets this bee in his brainiac about me, jaguars and feline habits."
"But LICK it clean, Jim?"
Blair finally managed to pull his hand free and as he fiddled with bandage, said, "You know, Simon, like a cat? Licking their wounds? And did you know that Jim sometimes purrs?"
Trying to be unobtrusive, Simon slid a few inches away from his best team. "Uh-huh, sure, Sandburg, sure."
"Well don't sound so surprised. You can't say you haven't heard him growl, can you?"
"I do not growl. But if you don't drop it, I will bite."
"Yeah, yeah, bite me."
Simon scooted several more inches away.
"You know, you two have definite issues."
"I wonder how long we'll be here."
"Probably as long as it takes for them to get whatever they need from Meyers, Chief."
"How long has it been since they brought me back?"
"Almost five hours," Simon answered as he checked his watch. "And why don't you wear a watch, by the way?"
"I learned early that time is the enemy, Simon. Not to mention highly overrated. If you're not aware of the time, you're captive to nothing."
"Sir? You can ignore what Sandburg just said. It was nonsense and just one of those -- weird -- Sandburg things. He actually has no clue what he just said."
"Shut up, both of you."
"Yes, sir," they answered together.
"Shit, they're coming again."
All three men stood and focused on the door. The window cover was slid back and once again, a man barked out orders.
"You know the drill, gentlemen. Do it. Except you, Mr. Sandburg. You step into the middle of the room."
No one moved.
"Gentlemen, don't mess with us, you won't like the results - to Mr. Sandburg."
"Bullshit," Blair snapped out. "You want me, come in and get me."
"We plan to. That's how it works. Maybe if you knew that Detective Ellison would suffer if you don't do as ordered?"
Blair moved quickly to the center of the room, pushing aside Jim's arm as he did so. "Fine, fine, I'm here."
Simon pulled Jim back and the door opened. Three men stepped just inside and two of them took Blair's arms and led him out. The door slammed shut.
"God damn it to hell."
"Hell is too good for them, Jim. If they touch Sandburg again...."
"Well, well. Long time, no see, Mr.Sandburg. How's your hand?"
"My fucking hand is fucking fine and you're really starting to make me fucking mad. This whole thing is ludicrous - JP Meyers is so not my father. And I'm betting that I'm here because you don't have what you want, yet. And you know why that is?" He leaned forward, ignoring the hold the jerks had, and hissed out, "Because - he isn't my father."
"Oh, but he is. And he's fully aware of that fact. He's been watching you, tracking your life for years. And how do we know? Because we have someone on the inside. Someone close to Meyers. So trust me - you are his son. And he will do as we ask. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned earlier today, so we must continue to show him what refusing to comply will cost him. And for that, I'm very sorry, Mr. Sandburg. This visit will be even more painful than our last."
A sound from Blair's right caught his attention and he turned his head to see a man coming out of the shadows - with a video camera.
"Well - fuck."
Jim paced in one direction, Simon in the opposite. Both men were scowling and for all their recent bantering, both were terrified.
"This kind of thing escalates, Jim."
"First the personal objects...."
"Covered in Blair's blood."
"And now? What will they do now?"
"Do you suppose - I mean - is it possible that Meyers really is Sandburg's father?"
"I'll tell you what's possible. No one goes to all this trouble if they don't have very good reason to believe such a claim."
"Damn. Nice way to discover the identity of a parent."
Anxious to make sure Blair was all right, both men moved to the required positions and waited. When the window was revealed and the man saw that they were in place, he nodded and opened the door. But only one man entered. Carrying Sandburg. He lowered the unconscious man to the ground and backed out. Once again, the door was shut.
The bolt to the door had barely clanged shut when both Jim and Simon were down next to Blair.
Sandburg had been left lying on his side, a mass of sweaty hair hiding his face. Simon rested one hand on the younger man's hip as he looked hard at Ellison.
"How bad, Jim?"
Sentinel hands moved carefully over the prone man, then, "No broken bones. Let's turn him over - carefully."
Working together, they lifted gently, allowing Jim to position himself so that Blair's head could rest on his thigh. With gentle fingers, Jim brushed the hair away and both men gasped.
"That's it, I'll kill 'em," Simon hissed out as he took at the blackened eye, split lip and rapidly swelling cheek and jaw.
Jim's rage and worry prevented any words. Instead, he carefully unbuttoned Blair's shirt and both men bit back moans.
"god damn them," Jim whispered. "They beat him. They fucking beat him."
Jack Anderson sat at the table and watched the video. As blows landed, he winced. He really hated this part of his job. The Sandburg kid had courage and during the beating, he'd not said a word. As the film ended, Anderson stood, walked over to the machine and took out the tape. Turning it over in his hands, he whispered, "I hope this one works, Mr. Sandburg. I won't like what we would have to do next, trust me."
He slid the tape into a pre-addressed manila envelope and walked away from the table; the video camera; the television set; the tape machine - and - the blood on the cement floor.
"Any word yet, Constance?"
"Nothing, JP. But it's barely sunrise there."
JP Meyers moved to the large window overlooking the bay and stared out over the water. "We should have heard something by now. Some acknowledgment of my request. Something. Anything."
"They're not even out of bed. The kidnapers must not realize that Morgan and Havers are on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, JP."
He turned his gaze on his Executive Assistant, Constance Miller and for the first time in hours, smiled. "How long have you been with me now?"
"Ten years of sanity, Connie."
Before Constance could reply, a door opened and a tall, willowy blonde in a flowing negligee walked into the study.
"Honey? Any word yet?"
"No, Vanessa. Nothing. Go back to bed."
"But I'm worried about you, sweetheart."
"Go. Back. To. Bed."
Pouting, Vanessa Lee turned and giving Constance barely a flicker of acknowledgment, she left the room.
Sighing, JP turned back to the window.
"Somebody needs to explain how I ended up with her."
"It's called hormones, JP."
"Don't be such a baby."
Smiling fondly, Jim continued to bathe the battered face. Less than ten minutes after leaving Blair in the middle of the floor, the men had returned, this time bringing food, water, blankets and first aid supplies. Jim and Simon had been too stunned to move against them. Not that they could have, but still....
Now Jim and Simon were attempting to clean up their anthropologist, who was bitterly protesting.
"Here's a butterfly bandage, Jim," Simon said, as he held out the item. Jim took it, opened it with his teeth and quickly applied it to the large cut over Blair's left eye.
"That should hold it together. You're gonna have two shiners, Chief."
"whoopee," said the miserable man.
"Can you get up? I'd like to move you to the corner."
"Jim, Jim, Jim... you move me over there, I'll just have to move farther the next time they come for me, you know? why don't I... OUCH! just stay here."
Face a mixture of apology and humor, Simon held out both hands. "Sorry, Sandburg. That hurt, didn't it?"
"Nah, I always scream when people touch my oft-time broken ribs. it's reflex now."
"Yeah," Blair agreed, "only place they didn't hit."
While Jim piled blankets around his partner and Simon cleaned up their first aid mess, Jim asked, "What did they say this time, Chief?"
"The usual. Another message to dear old dad."
Then Blair's face darkened and in a stronger, harder voice, he added. "They taped it, Jim. They taped it."
"Fuck," Jim and Simon said together.
JP Meyers stared at the photo album on his desk. Slowly he flipped from page to page.
JP Meyers kept moving through the album, the lifestory of his son, Blair Jacob Sandburg. The son he'd seen only once - in a hospital - exactly eight hours after his birth. He didn't notice the drops of moisture that hit the plastic covers.
"No, Joel. Nothing. There's nothing on the streets, everyone's snitches are coming up dry."
Joel closed his eyes a moment, then opened them and regarded his friend, Detective Henri Brown. "How 'bout Ellison's snitch, Sneakers?"
"Rafe is combing the streets for him now - with a new pair of Nike's. Just in case."
"Three men don't just disappear."
"No, sir, they don't."
"He's asleep, finally."
"Suppose we should try to catch some z's as well, Jim."
"You go ahead. I'll...."
Grinning somewhat foolishly, Jim nodded. "What can I say, Simon?"
"I know, I know." As the larger man tried to get comfortable, he said softly, "we can't let them take him again. you know that."
Jim glanced down at the head in his lap and while he smoothed gentle fingers across the cool forehead, he whispered again, "i know."
A small groan brought Jim's head up.
"chief?" he whispered.
"Yeah, partner, it's me. How ya feeling?"
"real chipper, jim. real chipper."
Ellison reached over and snagged a bottle of water, courtesy of their kidnappers, and held it to Blair's chapped lips. "Drink this, but go easy."
Blair did as told, then wiped his mouth. "hit the spot. thanks."
Blair grimaced and shook his head, which deepened the grimace. "what time... how long since...."
Blair was silent, but his eyes remained open, staring off into space. Finally, after several minutes, he mused, "do you suppose jp meyers really is my dad? and what do you think he felt when he received my stuff?"
"I don't know, Chief. And as to what he might have felt, I can only answer for myself. Rage."
"ah, but that's you. that's your protective sentinel streak. we're talking jp meyers - wealthy lawyer to the underdog. steals from huge corporations and gives to the poor. what would someone like that think when confronted with bloody jewelry?"
"I don't know and you totally misunderstand my protective streak, Chief. What's your IQ again?"
"what does my iq have to do with your protective streak?"
Rolling his eyes, Jim continued to pet his partner on the head. Lovingly. "Chief, I really worry about you sometimes. There is only one person around whom I exhibit this protective sentinel streak that you like to go on and on about."
"uh-huh. one person at a time. like, oh, say, michelle, and how 'bout laura?"
"Sheesh, Chief. Let's drop it."
Blair's eyes drifted shut as he turned his head and without thought, rubbed his cheek against Jim's thigh. Jim allowed his hand to drift down and rest on Blair's neck. Gently he began to rub small circles on the warm skin.
"everything i've heard about jp says that he's a caring man. maybe that's what they're counting on, you know? i mean, he's clearly not my father, but he might do as they ask just because - you know?"
"I know, Chief. I know."
"he can't, like, really be my dad. i mean, he lives in cascade for crying out loud. mom would have told me, right? and she's always maintained that, i, well, i've told you - she says she doesn't really know, you know?"
"I know, Chief. I know."
"he's not my dad. i'm sure. not. my. dad."
"He might be your dad, Chief. He might be."
"the bad guy said they have someone on the inside, jim. that's how they know."
"So he could be your dad."
"no way. mom would have told me, right? she would have told me. she knows...." his voice trailed off as he realized that he'd been about to give away more than he - should.
"She knows what, Blair?"
In a stronger voice, Blair said, "Nothing. He's not my dad."
"You want to know, don't you? You've always wanted to know. All that, he could be anyone crap was for show, right?"
"So what if I do? Sue me."
Jim's facial expression softened in the dimly lit room and he brought his hand up and ran a finger along Blair's jaw line.
"Nah, I won't sue, Chief. It's nice to know that in some areas, you're actually normal."
"I'm perfectly normal, Jim. In every way."
Blair could feel Jim's snort through the man's leg and he grinned, then winced.
"Perfectly normal. Right. Sandburg, you are so far removed from normal that you don't even have a map anymore. You couldn't even find normal on a map."
Jim leaned over and with his mouth close to Blair's right ear, he whispered, "did they hit this ear?"
"huh? uh, no, no, my ear is fine...."
Jim took the soft lobe between his teeth and tugged gently.
"you're -- biting -- me."
"uh-huh, as you ordered." Then Jim laved the flesh before going back to tender nips.
Smiling, Blair said, "i should have said, fuck you, jim."
"later," Jim whispered.
Simon rolled over and banged his elbow on the hard cement.
He sat up and scratched first the elbow, then the back of his head, then turned to search for Jim and Blair. And found them.
"Oh, for crying out loud. You two couldn't do that later? You have to make kissy face in my face?"
Jim pulled away from Blair and turned slightly glazed eyes on his boss. "Kissy face, Simon?"
Waving a hand at them, Simon said, "Yeah, you know, that. What you're doing now. That kissing thing. Show some restraint gentlemen. Sheesh, you're a cop, Ellison."
Smiling up at Jim, Blair said, "Yeah, Jim. You're a cop. Sheesh, show some will power, will ya?"
"Fuck you, Sandburg."
Chuckling and delighting in Simon's expression at Jim's words, Blair said, "Oh, no, I'm not touching that line with a ten-foot pole. No sir, not me. And Jim? You first."
"Aw, shit. Could we have a little decorum here, gentlemen?"
Grinning like a fool, Jim nodded. "Yes, sir. Decorum. Coming right up."
Simon rolled his eyes.
Meyers head shot up and he blinked. "Yes, Connie?"
Walking over to the man, Constance set the bulky envelope down. "JP, this just arrived by the same messenger that sent that last -- package."
His gaze left the worried face of his assistant and dropped down to the manila envelope. Reaching out with a shaky hand, he touched it, then slid it over. He lifted the package, opened it, and shook out a video tape.
"Oh, dear God," Constance murmured.
Like a man ten years his senior, JP rose with envelope and tape in hand, walked over to the set and the VCR, turned everything on, slid the tape in and pushed play. Constance walked to his side and put an arm around his waist.
The screen went black, then blue. A moment later, the shadowy outline of a man appeared.
"Mr. Meyers. Good day. You have already received one package from us, with instructions. This package is simply to remind you of what you have at stake. By the time you receive this, it will have been over seven hours since we slit your son's hand. By now, you should be well on your way to accomplishing your assigned task. But my sources say that nothing has happened, so enjoy the video. Your son enjoyed making it."
The camera pulled back and JP and Constance could now see Blair Sandburg. He wore a blue and white flannel shirt tucked inside faded blue jeans. His hair was tied back and he was being held tightly by two huge men who outweighed the anthropologist by a hundred pounds. Each. JP spotted the bandaged hand immediately and groaned.
A third man entered the picture. A man at least six and a half feet tall and weighing well over 250. The individual holding the video camera moved slightly to the left and JR could see the huge man's face. Cold. Heartless. Intense. The man moved to stand in front of Blair and before either JP or Constance could blink, a huge, beefy fist lashed out and connected with Blair's stomach. But the young man couldn't move, couldn't fall forward, couldn't bend in protection. He was held too tightly.
Another blow was delivered, followed by the first of several cold and deliberate blows to the young man's face and body.
JP Meyers believed that as long as he lived, he'd never forget the sound of that huge weapon of a fist as it struck innocent flesh. His stomach revolted, but he clenched his jaw and continued to watch. He owed his son that much.
During the entire beating, Blair Sandburg never so much as moaned. He took each blow, his eyes, for the short time they remained open and unswollen, glittering darkly.
Constance could no longer look. She buried her face in JP's shoulder.
Finally a shadow appeared and blocked out his son.
"That's all for now, Mr. Meyers. If we don't have word that the wheels have at least been put into motion, the next video will be... trust me, Mr. Meyers - comply. Good day."
The screen went black.
"Those men are dead."
Constance finally lifted her head. "JP, we have to take this to the police. We have to."
"I know. I know. Blair's partner, Detective Ellison. He must be looking for him. We can call him."
As the two walked to JP's desk, Constance said, "How? How, JP? No one except you and I know that boy is your son. And I wouldn't know if you hadn't confided in me."
JP sat back in his chair and regarded the woman before him. Constance was a brunette, in her mid-forties, slender and serious, with brown eyes that still held tears. Tears for his son and tears - for him?
"I don't know." His fingers tapped the book in front of him as he added, "This is kept locked in my safe. No one, not even you, has the combination."
"Have you ever left it out? Could a staff member or someone from the
"No staff member. Absolutely not. And every member of my household has been with me longer than you, Connie. I trust them with my life."
Connie looked at her boss and waited. He'd come to the appropriate conclusion in a second. And as she watched, she tried to compare him to the young man on the screen. Same coloring, but JP's eyes were darker. Same hair, but JP's was now almost entirely grey. Same nose. But there, the resemblance ended. JP was over six feet tall, with a massive chest and broad shoulders. There was nothing lean or slender about him.
"I left it out once - several weeks ago. You know, after their return from Peru? When they went looking for Simon Banks and his son?"
"Yes, I remember. So it was out? Someone could have seen it?"
Their detecting was stalled as the door to JP's study opened again, and Vanessa floated in, her eyes wide and innocent.
"JP, honey? Sweetie? Everything okay?"
"Everything's just fine, Vanny. Just fine."
Vanessa moved past Constance in a whirl of Joy and walked to her fiancee's side. Placing one pale hand on his shoulder, she entreated, "You have to eat, honey. And have you heard any more from the kidnapers?"
Glad that the envelope now rested under the television and out of sight, JP shook his head.
"Have you done what they asked?"
"Vanny, love, go back to bed. It's still too early."
"But I want to be here, with you. And you know," long, slender fingers played with his shirt collar, "you should have told me about your son. We're going to be married, after all."
"You know now."
"Well, yes. After he's kidnapped." She brushed a kiss across his lips, then said, "But I understand. I do. And the important thing here is getting him safely back."
"Yes, it is, Vanny."
The next time they came for Blair - Jim and Simon were ready. Unfortunately, they were ready for Jim and Simon. The scuffle lasted five minutes.
The fighting ceased as all heads were turned to the door - where the same man who'd beaten Blair now stood, one hand clenched around the collar of Blair's shirt. Blair was dangling two feet off the ground. And the man held a knife to Blair's throat.
Simon let go of the man he held by the neck and stepped back, hands in the air. Jim dropped the body of the man he'd been shaking.
The two bruisers managed to get to their feet and stumble out as the man holding Blair backed carefully into the corridor. The door was shut.
"I didn't hear the third man, Simon."
"Obviously. He must have come down in the elevator while we were fighting."
"God, what... this time... Simon?"
Blair was shoved into the room and as he was released, lost his balance and fell to his hands and knees. Somehow, he managed to stand, swaying, jaw clenched in pain.
"Mr. Sandburg, I was truly hoping that this third visit would not be needed."
Blair had been thinking of this third visit - and subsequent visits - for the last two hours. He had a plan.
"You know, you're wasting a valuable resource, man."
"Oh, really, Mr. Sandburg? And what resource would that be? Maybe you'd like to enlighten me?"
"Ah, yes. Detective Ellison and Captain Banks. I understand they caused some trouble this time?"
Blair managed to move closer to the table as he said, "Yes and it will only get worse. Which means they will either succeed, or you'll kill them, neither of which is part of your game plan."
"I could easily kill them, Mr. Sandburg."
"No, no you couldn't. You've gone to great lengths to hide your identity. Killing one detective and one police captain is not on your agenda. But if you don't, they will get all three of us out of here or die trying. So may I suggest that you let them go. Which is where the valuable resource comes in, by the way.
"Once you let them go, they'll move heaven and earth to get JP Meyers to comply. It's a win-win situation. You don't have to worry about them escaping - with me - or of having to kill them. And this -- third -- visit could be put on hold."
There was silence from the darkness beyond the table and Blair waited, uncertain of how much longer he could remain on his feet.
"You know, Mr. Sandburg, you're really quite intelligent."
Something changed then, the air shifted, there was movement beyond the table and Blair peered into the inky blackness, trying to see something, anything. Time passed as he swayed. Too much time. He finally dropped to the floor and sat, head in hands. He was alone. The bruisers were gone, the shadow was gone.
What if he'd just sent them in to kill Simon -- and -- Jim?
Blair groaned and cursed himself.
There was no corner close enough to crawl over to, so Blair remained where he was, head still in his hands. He ignored the pain.
God, he was so stupid. So stupid. The table was near enough that he started to bang his head on the edge.
"stupid, stupid, stupid...."
Then he realized just how stupid he was, not to mention the bad guys. He lifted his head and gazed stupidly around him, then up. Ceiling.
Full circle. Because the ceiling had - windows. Skylights. And beams.
Blair got shakily to his feet, wobbled a few steps, then stopped to listen. Nothing. He moved again. He knew the doors would be locked so he made his way to a set of pipes against the eastern wall. When he reached them, he touched one pipe. Good, cool to the touch. He gauged the distance up and the distance between all the pipes he'd need to access in order to get to the skylights. He could do it.
Taking a deep breath - Blair started to climb.
"We have a visitor, Simon."
"Got a plan?"
"Yeah. We take 'em down. What more can they do to us? Or to Blair?"
"So he's not with them?"
"Nope. It's just one."
"Jim, that doesn't sound good."
They stood, one on each side of the door. Both hoping they'd have a chance to put up a fight.
The peephole was uncovered but instead of a voice, a hose appeared and from the hose - a pale grey smoke.
It took only seconds to bring both men down.
Blair continued to climb, one pipe at a time. His body ached but he didn't stop, didn't slow. A couple of times, his sweaty hand slipped or his tennis shoe, and he'd drop down a couple of feet, fingers searching frantically for a new handhold. Then he'd start to climb again.
The skylights were almost within reach - almost. He could see a few stars and on the edge of one of the skylights - a tinge of pink? He tried to do some figuring - they'd left the restaurant at what? Eight? Maybe a bit later. So how much time since they'd left him alone? An hour or more? How many hours total? Maybe nine or ten? So almost dawn. Maybe six?
Were Jim and Simon dead now? Or maybe they'd put up a fight? Were even now holding them off? No, it had been too long. Too. Long.
He was there. Catwalks crisscrossed the area and he stepped out onto one. He needed a slanted skylight. He walked carefully until he'd reached what he needed, then pushed.
Nothing. No problem. He simply took off his flannel shirt, wrapped it around his good hand and hit the glass as he covered his face. The skylight shattered and using his protected hand, he cleared all the jagged edges then levered himself up and out.
Oh, man. He was - high. Too damn high. Almost immediately he dropped to his hands and knees and thought that crawling would be good. He crawled.
Blair had no idea where he was going until he spotted the ladder. The ladder became his goal.
It took, like, forever to get to it, but finally, he was swinging his leg over and was standing on the first rung. Now all he had to do was - climb down. Hell, a breeze. He'd climbed up, right?
By the time he'd reached the ground, the blessed, *he'd never leave it again*, ground, it was daylight. A cold, wet, drizzly daylight. And the building was some kind of industrial - barn.
Blair moved cautiously around the corner, ducking below waxed up windows and moving slowly. When he reached the end, he found nothing. No people. No guards. Not even Jim's truck or Simon's LHS. No signs of life.
Had they killed Jim and Simon, then taken off? Was he losing his mind? A bullet hitting the aluminum above his head convinced him that he wasn't. He ran.
Warmth. Brightness. Simon's cigars.
Jim cracked open one eye. He was inside his truck. And Simon was next to him.
Jim blinked, rubbed his eyes and winced at the smell on his hands. They'd been drugged.
Jim sat up, looked around, checked the back of the truck - no Blair. No familiar heartbeat, no Blairscent - nothing.
"Yeah, Simon. We've been set free. Just us, not Blair. We're somewhere on the outskirts of town."
"damn." Simon straightened and went through much the same actions as Jim. He rubbed his eyes, scratched at his face and looked dazedly around them.
"Why, Jim? Why did they let us go?"
"Damned if I know."
"Just behind us."
"My cellphone is next to you, Simon. I need to scout the area, maybe I'll be able to pick up some clue as to where they held us."
Joel jumped up from his chair and yelled, "SIMON!"
//Damn, Joel, you just broke an eardrum//
As Joel slid back down, his desk was suddenly surrounded and voices were questioning him from every angle.
"Simon? What about Jim?"
More voices chimed in....
"What about Blair? Are they all right?"
"Where the hell have they been?"
Holding up a hand, hoping to stifle the voices, Joel said, "Simon, are you all okay? Jim? Blair?"
//No, we not all okay. Jim and I are fine, but Blair - is - missing. Now listen up. We're....//
Simon must have moved his mouth from the phone, because all Joel could hear was mumbling. He waited and a few seconds later, Simon was back.
//Okay, Jim says we're just east of Junction 45, between Highway 3 and 63. We're sitting alongside the railroad tracks. Right now, he's doing a recon of the area. What I need from you is the address of JP Meyers and I need it yesterday//
Joel snapped his finger at Henri and holding the phone between his cheek and shoulder, he scribbled; need addy of jp meyers - pronto. Henri nodded and moved quickly away.
"Okay, Henri's on it, Simon. And we're on our way to your location."
//No. Stay there until I say different. Do you have that address yet?//
Henri jogged back and was dropping a piece of paper under Joel's nose even as Simon asked.
"Got it, Simon. Here you go. 2616 Amberton. The Cloverton Arms, suite 712."
//Is that his office address or home?//
"Home, Simon. His offices are in the Wingman Building."
//Okay, thanks. I'll call you back in a few//
With that, Joel heard a click. He put down the phone thoughtfully.
The ex-bomb squad captain glanced up at Megan and shrugged. "He says he'll call back. He's fine, Jim's fine... but - Blair's missing."
The detectives all looked at each other, but it was Henri who expressed their thoughts.
Jim slid into his seat and stared straight ahead.
"Jim? Did you find anything?"
"Yeah. Tire tracks. Some kind of crude oil that doesn't mesh with what's around here. I think I can track our way back to wherever they held us."
"Come on, talk to me."
"I think they set us free because - Blair - told them to, you know?"
"And, they sliced his hand, beat the living crap out of him, what would be next? What would send an even more powerful message?"
Jim didn't need to say anything else and Simon didn't need to respond. Great minds. Fear touched Simon's heart, squeezing hard and sending a stream of acid shooting up his throat. He swallowed.
"Okay, what's our next step? We follow the tracks?"
"We'll need help, Simon. And what about Meyers?"
For an answer, Simon picked up the cell phone again.
"Joel, send two cars to our location, but I also want Harris and Wheeler to head over to the Cloverton Arms. Tell him we have a line on his son and ask him to give you all the information he can."
//Simon, what does this have to do with what happened to you?//
"Joel - just do it."
This was worse than his little adventure with Iris. He was running, there were fields and behind him, not one, not two, not even three bad guys but a whole army of them. Well, fuck this.
Blair darted into a thicket, worked his way in deep and waited, trying desperately to control his breathing. After what seemed like an eternity, he could hear voices.
"You two go left, cover the fields on the other side of the highway. Simmons, you and Martel stay with me. Cooley, you follow the tracks."
Blair could hear the men moving off. The one called Cooley would be heading his way. Fine. He was ready. Almost. Looking around, fingers searching, he found a large branch. Balled up as he was, he could still flex enough to test the make-shift weapon. It would work. Blair went back to waiting.
Eventually, the one called Cooley came close enough....
Blair made his move.
Blair looked down at the body, his mouth open, eyes wide with dread. Then he noticed the chest rising and falling. With a small gasp, he dropped the branch. The guy was alive.
Thank you, God.
Glancing around quickly, he reassured himself that he was still alone, except for Cooley. He bent down, grabbed an arm and a leg, then dragged the man into the bushes and left him.
Stepping back out, he glanced to his right, then left and seeing no one, he started to jog. He had no idea where he was, but with the baddies in front of him now, he knew where he was going.
Back. For Jim and Simon.
The two cars pulled up behind Simon's and almost immediately disgorged their occupants. All four hurried over to the truck where Simon and Jim waited.
"Simon? You two all right?"
"We're fine, Joel. Just fine."
"What happened? You've had us worried sick."
Simon pushed himself away from the side of the truck and with his eyes on Jim, said, "We apparently got in the way of a kidnapping." His words might have been light, but his tone wasn't.
Megan, who'd also been watching Jim since coming up to the truck, now asked quietly,
"Jim? What about Sandy?"
Jim's gaze was fixed on a spot that only he could see and as he pushed himself away from the truck, said in a dead voice, "He was the victim."
Puzzled looks were exchanged and as Simon continued to watch his detective, he explained.
"We were all taken together, outside of The Palms Bistro. It seems they believe San... Blair - is JP Meyers son. A few hours ago, they drugged Jim and I and when we came to, we were here."
"So what now?" Henri asked.
With another glance at his detective, Simon said, "Jim thinks he can track them back to Blair. Back to where they held us."
Megan looked at the other detectives and then back to Simon and said, "So what are we waiting for, an engraved invitation? Let's do it, sir."
Simon reached out and tapped Jim's shoulder, "You ready?"
Jim slid into the driver's seat and started the engine.
Smiling, Joel said, "Simon, I think that's a yes."
"Then let's go, people."
Anderson stopped. "We've lost him, it's over. Time to head back and close this one down, gentlemen."
The six men began the three mile trek back to the van. If Cooley was alive - he was on his own.
As they headed back, Anderson found himself almost glad that Sandburg had eluded them. He'd - almost - liked the young man and the idea of escalating the torture, namely resorting to sending body parts, had left him cold. He really was in the wrong business. Maybe a nice accounting job somewhere? Of course, not here, not in the United States - but perhaps... France?
The building came into view and Blair breathed a sigh of relief. Now that he could really see it, he realized that they'd been held in an old Cyclops Oil warehouse. Which made sense, considering how close they were to the tracks.
Blair moved quickly and silently to the edge of the building nearest the double doors and listened. He could hear no signs of life. Blair stepped to the doors, reached out and tried them... damn, locked. Looking up, he thought about going back in the way he'd come out, but that would be stupid. He walked around the corner and stared at one of the greased up windows. Why not? He was getting good at this whole glass breaking thing.
Unfortunately, he only had his undershirt left thanks to leaving his glass-laden flannel on the roof. And damn, it was cold. With a sigh, Blair pulled the shirt off, wrapped it around his hand and smashed the glass. Clearing the dangerous shards, he painfully and clumsily crawled in and dropped to the floor.
Blair found himself in a hallway and to his left, an elevator. The elevator. He punched the button and the doors opened immediately. He jumped in, gazed at the panel and took a gamble by pushing B. The doors slid shut and with a jerk, the elevator started down.
Gee, almost felt like home. Only thing missing were the stinky goons. Wait - he stank now.
The car came to a stop and the doors opened. Blair peered to his right. He recognized the hallway. He stepped out, letting the doors shut behind him. As he walked slowly down the corridor, he prayed.
Please God, let them be alive. Please.
Blair stopped in front of the door, the right door he hoped, and with a shaking hand, reached out to turn the handle. It wasn't locked. With heart in throat, Blair pushed open the door and stepped inside.
It was the right room and it was empty.
The caravan moved slowly down the highway, the occupants of the two cars that followed the truck wondering how Jim was tracking anything, let alone what he could be tracking. But they trusted - and followed.
After thirty minutes, the truck stopped and so did the cars. The occupants waited and watched as Jim got out, walked a few feet in front of the truck and knelt down. With frowns and puzzled expressions, they observed the man reach out and touch the asphalt, then bring his fingers to his - nose. Nodding, he stood, walked back to the truck and a moment later, they were on the move again.
Inside, Simon said, "How much further?"
"Maybe - five miles. The old Cyclops Oil warehouses by the tracks."
"You could see it?"
"I could see it."
"And nothing. No cars, but I can't - hear anything inside. That buzzing again."
"Okay. Got a plan?"
"Yes. Don't you?"
Slightly taken aback, Simon admitted, "Um, no. Not really."
His confession brought a small smile to Jim's lips.
Blair sat down in the middle of the empty room.
He knew he should get the hell out of Dodge, but he was too - cold. Inside, bone deep cold.
Okay, they could have let them go. Yeah, they could have taken his suggestion. Hadn't Mr. Dark Shadows said that he was intelligent? Wasn't that what he'd meant? Sure, that was it. They'd... somehow... taken Jim and Simon - somewhere. Somehow.
Blair gazed about the room and thought, surprisingly, that if Jim were dead - there'd be nothing for Blair. No past, no present and most definitely no furture. And the funeral? The flag-covered coffin and the uniformed officers saluting? No way. Not for him. He would not stand in the rain (didn't it always rain for funerals? No, Jack's had been - sunny), his collar pulled up around his face, his hair dripping wet as he watched Jim Ellison lowered into the ground. He wouldn't. He wouldn't do it. Not going to happen.
He'd be dead first.
Fuck, they'd shared one, okay, a series of small kisses in this room. In front of Simon, no less. No declarations of undying love, just a rubbed cheek, a nibbled ear and some very soft, sweet, wet kisses.
Blair looked up at the ceiling and said out loud, "If this is some sort of trade-off, well, NO GO. I don't trade Jim for a father, see? I've gone twenty-nine years without a father, but I'm telling you right now, I ain't even going one week without Jim. You hear me? And Daryl wouldn't approve of such a trade, either, okay?"
He needed to get out of here. Find a way back to Cascade. Find - Jim.
Blair rose unsteadily and headed out.
Back upstairs, he pushed through the doors and out into pouring rain. Naturally.
He started walking.
Jim slammed on the brakes and before Simon could say, "What the hell?", he was out and running.
Two cars screeched to a halt and as Simon climbed from the truck, he was quickly joined by the others.
Joel spoke first. "Simon? What the hell?"
"I don't know. He just - stopped, jumped out and started running."
"Should we go after him?" Megan asked.
"I suppose so."
Blair kept walking, head down, not really caring about the rain. And he'd have kept on walking if he hadn't hit something big and heavy - head on. His body bounced and with a startled gasp, he looked up.
And into the most beautiful pale blue eyes he'd ever seen. The grin wasn't bad either.
"How?" they both asked. Then laughing, Blair said, "They left me alone for quite awhile. I climbed out."
"They drugged us, left us a few miles outside of Cascade."
"They came after me, but I gave them the slip and went back to the warehouse to look for you, but you were gone and why is it always warehouses?"
Smiling gently, Jim shook his head. "I don't know, Chief. I don't know. Simon and the others are back there," Jim jerked a thumb behind his shoulder, "should be here in a minute. And from what I can tell, a van is about two miles south of here, and I think it's our guys. And Blair? You're, well, kind of unclothed."
"Glass. I had to break a lot of glass. First my flannel shirt, then my undershirt...."
Jim shook out of his jacket and quickly wrapped it around his partner.
"This is because I'm short, isn't it? If I were your height, you'd never give me your jacket."
"Yes, I would."
"No, you wouldn't."
"Yes, I would."
"No, you wouldn't."
"I love you. I'd give you the shirt off my back."
"Nah. But my jacket? No big loss. You know it's not my favorite."
"And to think, we could be kissing."
"We could, but the sound of panting that you hear? That's Simon, Joel, Henri, Rafe and Megan."
"Well, hot damn."
Blair just had time to step back from Jim before he was surrounded by detectives. His hair petted and his face clucked over as Jim quickly got out of the way, grinning. So what if they were in the middle of nowhere and still had bad guys to catch? And it was raining.
For all of the fawning, it was still Simon's reaction that bowled Sandburg over, sending all his pins into the gutter. As the others were still oohing and ahhing, Simon simply shouldered his way in and - hugged - Blair. The big man didn't say anything, didn't even make eye contact - he just - hugged. Then let go.
Before Blair could blink, Jim was shushing everyone and saying, "The van just pulled up in front of the warehouse."
The chorus of what van? nearly sent the sentinel into a zone-out of major proportions and it took a quietly voiced question from Blair to prevent the short trip to sentinel la-la land.
"Jim, none of us saw any of them. We have no evidence."
The stressed evidence wasn't lost on Jim. He knew that he could identify their abductors based on voice and smell but he also knew that the DA probably wouldn't appreciate that kind of evidence. Let alone believe it.
Simon, bouncing back from his unaccustomed attack of sentimental affection, said, "I don't have a plan. Anybody got a plan?"
Looking sheepish, Blair raised his hand. "Um, er, I do."
Six pairs of eyes, ranging in color from chocolate brown to the palest of blues, focused on Sandburg - who promptly turned beet red.
"Well, I do," he whined.
"Okay, I'll bite, Sandburg."
"Thank you, Simon. It's simple, really. I let them find me...."
His voice trailed off as his face took on a hopeful, *this will work, guys* look.
"Right," Jim said, immediately dismissing his partner. "Anyone have another idea?"
"Uh, Jim? Man? It's the only way. You gotta let them find me. Then you guys roll in, guns drawn, teeth bared, you growling, and you bust 'em."
Henri eye-balled his partner, who shrugged and nodded. Megan threw Joel a look and the big man sighed and rolled his eyes as he nodded. Simon just closed his eyes.
Jim shook his head. "Sandburg, no."
Bad thing to say. Really bad. End of the world bad.
"No? Did you just say NO?"
Blair turned to Simon, who still had his eyes closed. "Simon, you know I'm right. It's the only way. Catch 'em in the act. You know there's no other way."
Jim whirled around. "WHAT? Did you just say yes?"
"Simon said yes, Jim," Blair reminded.
"This isn't a game of Simon Says, Sandburg."
"Actually, Detective Ellison, it is. Last time I looked, I was the captain here. Did the Commissioner give you a promotion and fire me while I wasn't looking?"
Megan, Henri, Rafe and Joel - coughed. Loudly.
Blair took off Jim's jacket, pulled Jim's arm toward him and draped the item over the strong forearm. Then ignoring the gasps as the rest of his friends caught the bruises that covered his upper torso, he turned away and started walking back toward the warehouse. As he walked, he said casually, "You guys figure this out, then come get me, okay? I'll be waiting."
Following a great deal of arguing and Simon holding Jim back, a plan was formed. After emptying all the trunks of every weapon and leaving the cars behind, the group of detectives, now armed to the teeth, set out to rescue Sandburg and get their men.
But Jim didn't like it one bit.
Blair trudged along the road, muttering under his breath about stubborn sentinels who once they've kissed you, think they own you. As he neared the building of his recent incarceration, he wondered how to do this believably and he wondered what the others had decided to do. Not that he was worried. No, not worried at all.
The man turned and regarded his assistant. "Yes? What it is it, Constance?"
"I've given them everything. They're about to call their boss. Thought you'd want to be there."
"The only line working is yours, JP. And Marty is with her in the viewing room and won't let her out of his sight. We're covered."
"She has to be...."
"I know, JP. I know."
Jacob moved around his desk and with Constance, walked out into the living room where Detectives Harris and Wheeler waited.
When JP and Constance walked in, Detective Mark Harris punched a two digit number into his cell and seconds later, said, "Captain Banks, it's Harris. We're with Mr. Meyers now. Yes, sir, we have all the information. Will do and good luck, sir."
Closing up the phone, Harris turned to Meyers. "Sir, they're moving in on the kidnappers now. We're to stay here and as soon as they, well, as soon as...."
"I understand, Detective. We wait."
"Yes, sir. We wait. But if it's any help, the very best are out there, doing this."
"Thank you, it does help."
Jim's head was cocked, eyes narrowed. He and Simon were ducked down behind an old railroad car, approximately fifty yards from where Blair was now, once again, being held.
His plan to be recaptured had worked - accidentally.
While he'd been walking, head down, Anderson had stepped out of the building for a smoke while the rest of his men were cleaning up evidence that they'd ever been there. He'd spotted his escaped abductee and with a yell to his men and a quick chase, Blair had allowed them to recapture him.
Now Jim was listening intently, trying to filter through the buzzing and managing to capture a phrase or two....
"Fancy meeting you here."
"Yeah, fancy. I'll never live this down."
"I take it that you, Mr. Sandburg, have a terrible sense of direction?"
"As a matter of fact, I have been accused of thinking that Canada is south of us. But it's a lie. Everyone knows Canada is east. Like California."
Anderson smiled at the young man standing before him. Damn, he was almost sorry that Sandburg had the misfortune of ending back where he'd started.
"Well, now that we're back in business, I'm afraid that we're going to have to pick up where we left off a few hours ago."
"Ah, yes. My friends?"
"As asked. I let them go. In fact, that's going to buy you some time - I'm going to make a phone call and see if your idea worked. And honestly? I hope it has. Unfortunately for you, my man here will get things ready should we discover that Mr. Meyers has done nothing."
Blair's arms were roughly pulled back and he was shoved to his left. Moving him forward, past the two large kleig lights that were now on, and moving past the video camera, now on a tripod, Blair was shoved, face first, against one of the large metal columns that ran the length of the inside of the cavernous building.
The bruiser yanked Blair's arms together and bound him at the wrists. He then reached up with the rope and looped it through a ring a few feet up on the column. With a vicious tug down, Blair's arms were pulled up. The man secured the rope and stepped to the side, then crossed his arms over his chest to wait.
Blair peered around the column and spotted the small table. With things on it. Things like, a large bullwhip and, and... he decided to dwell on something else, like - Jim.
"um, jim? don't want to worry you, man," he whispered softly, "but, well, now would be good."
A sound from behind him caused him to try and whip his head around. A voice of which he was all too familiar, said, "Well, Mr. Sandburg, looks like we go to the next level. Your plan didn't work, I'm afraid."
Burying his face against his arm, Blair murmured, "oh, yeah, now would be very good, man."
Anderson stepped into Blair's line of sight, and no longer worried about hiding his identity, picked up the bullwhip and handed it to Blair's guard.
"Watkins, make sure you don't block Mr. Sandburg's body why you use that thing."
Then apparently addressing another man outside of Blair's vision, Anderson went on.
"Bolger, you know what to do with the video camera. Keep it running until Mr. Sandburg passes out. Then I want a close-up."
Watkins unfurled the whip, snapped it out a couple of times, then took up his position just to Blair's right.
"All right, gentlemen, let's do it."
Okay, really, no kidding now, this was it, time for the cavalry to arrive. Time for some major butt kicking, time for Mighty Mouse and his Merry Men to save the day, to keep that whip from touching an inch of Blair Sandburg's back, shoulders or any other part of him. Really, it was. Way past time. And is this guy a whip tease or what? How many times is he going to flex his biceps and flick his whip?
Wait. He can whip tease to his heart's content. Really. He can. No rush here. Take your time buddy. Wouldn't want you to sprain something. A person should always, like, limber up before any heavy exertion.
Aw, man. It's gonna happen - at least once.
He's raising his arm up and back and damn it, that God damn piece of fucking leather is gonna come down and... ohshit, ohshit, ohshit....
"FREEZE! CASCADE POLICE DEPARTMENT!"
Blair felt all the air leave his mouth as he sagged against the column in relief, not caring that his weight was resting entirely on his wrists. This one had been too cl....
"GOD DAMN IT!"
The whip snapped down and cracked across Blair's vulnerable back just as one gunshot rang out. The snap of leather as it flicked into his flesh was the cause of the angry yell Blair let out even as he was twisting around, trying to see what the hell was happening. Running, yelling, more gunshots but no further blows rained down upon him. But damn it, he couldn't see a thing. He twisted, trying over first his right shoulder, then his left, but to no avail....
"Stop twisting, Sandburg, you'll hurt yourself. Stay still."
Jim's voice. A good thing. Meant, for starters, that he wasn't lying dead on the cement floor. And he was close.
More yelling, a few more gunshots, then deadly quiet. Blair started twisting again until two large hands closed over his. "Damn it, when I say stop twisting, I mean stop twisting. It's over, we've got 'em. Now let me cut you down."
Where a moment before, there'd been only quiet, there was now organized pandemonium. Blair, head resting against the cool metal column, listened as Jim yelled for a knife, all the while gently stroking Blair's shoulder. Someone found the necessary item and Jim started sawing. As he sliced, Blair gave himself a small pep talk - urging that when freed, he should not fall to the ground no matter how much he wanted to do that very thing. No, he would let his arms drop to his side, remain on his feet, and crack wise.
He managed all three - with an unobtrusive arm slide by Jim. As Blair's arms were freed, he did indeed drop them and managed to stay on his feet, but only because Jim kind of stepped slightly into him and let his arm fall around Blair's waist. And of course, Blair had managed a rather trite wisecrack.
Looking at Simon and the others, he said with the planned smile, "What took ya?"
Not his brightest moment. He'd undoubtedly come up with a better wisecrack tomorrow. No problem, he could save it for next time.
"You okay, Chief?"
Blair looked up at his partner from his seat on the back of the truck and nodded. "Yep, fine. Nothing a few weeks in a hospital, followed by cosmetic surgery and three weeks in Hawaii wouldn't cure."
"Well, I can give you a bandaid, the weekend at 852 Prospect and me. Would that do?"
The building was surrounded by cop cars and the press, officers were scurrying about like chickens with their heads cut off, one baddie being carried out in a body bag, the others in handcuffs, but at that moment all Sandburg could see was his sentinel, best friend and soon-to-be bed warmer. A soft smile touched his lips as he said, "That will do just fine, Jim."
JP Meyers, Constance by his side, walked down the quiet hospital corridor, eyes flicking right and left as he scanned the small numbers on the side of each stall. There, number seven. He stopped just outside the treatment room, uncertain of how to proceed. His son, the young man he'd seen only once, almost thirty years ago, was just beyond the door.
"I can't do it, Connie. Can't go in, can't face him."
"Then we'll go back home."
Turning to face her, astonishment on his face, he almost yelled, "What!? We can't go home, not after...."
His voice trailed off as he finally noticed the knowing smile.
"Tricked me again, eh?"
"You're so easy. Just knock, Jacob, and go inside. Introduce yourself, shake his hand, maintain a stiff upper lip, make like macho and then see what happens."
"I have no right to tell him anything, hell, I've no right to even be here."
"He's here, Blair. Just outside."
Blair was on his stomach while a nurse took care of his one whip strike, one that happened to be quite deep and long. His hand had already been stitched up. With his head pillowed in his arms, his voice sounded distant. It also sounded - afraid, but only to sentinel ears.
"Should I invite him in? He's gonna knock in a minute."
"I... maybe, I mean...."
"Blair - you don't have to see him."
"I know... but I should, shouldn't I?"
"No. There is no should here, Chief. This is up to you, one hundred percent. But let me ask one thing... no, let me ask two. If it were me, what would you advise and two, if I'm not mistaken, you already greatly admire the man."
"I hate it when you do your Sandburg impersonation."
"So, you want I should ask him in?"
A miserable nod was Jim's answer.
"All right then."
Jim walked the two steps required to reach the door, opened it and slipped out. In the hall, he found a very good looking man in his late forties, a man whose resemblance to Blair couldn't be denied. Beside him, a woman of maybe Jim's age.
"Yes, yes, I'm JP Meyers. And you're?"
"I'm Detective Jim Ellison. Blair Sandburg is my partner. He's fine, by the way. The nurse is just finishing with him."
Eyes on the door that separated him from his son, JP said in an almost childlike voice, "They beat him."
"Yes, Mr. Meyers, they did. But he's fine, really. Hurting, gonna be sore as hell, but he's one strong man."
"Will... would he...."
"He'd like to meet you."
Jim put his hand on the door knob and waited. JP glanced at his companion, who nodded, a sweet smile on her gentle face. JP stepped forward and Jim opened the door.
"All right, Mr. Sandburg, all done. Would you like to sit up now?"
"Yes, thank you."
The woman whose name tag read Margaret Milner, helped Blair sit up and swing his legs over the edge of the bed. She quickly whipped out another sheet and in the absence of anything that looked like a shirt, draped it loosely over his shoulders.
"The doctor will return shortly so relax and let those pain pills do their job." With a smile, she patted him on the shoulder and was on her way out when Jim opened the door and stepped in... with JP Meyers. The nurse smiled in that don't fuck with my patient way as she excused herself.
"Blair," Jim said as he walked to Blair's bedside, "This is JP Meyers."
The two men stared at each other for several seconds; surprise, worry and hesitancy in the younger pair of eyes; fear, worry and love in the other.
JP took a step closer and said, "I'm... so sorry, Blair. So very sorry. Of all the ways for you to find out... this most certainly would not have been my choice."
Blair blinked. And continued to stare.
"I... I'm sure you have questions, so let me give you the bullet version. I met your mother in June of '68 and fell hard. I was 18 and taking a year off to earn money before heading to Harvard. In early November, Naomi told me she was pregnant. She - I can still see her, Blair.
"She was standing on the patio of a friend's home in California, the sun was just setting and her hair was ablaze with color... she almost - glowed. She was so happy, Blair, so excited. She told me and I just sat there, watching her beautiful, animated face, and all I could think about was - Harvard and becoming a lawyer. Something I'd spent my entire life working toward. I couldn't do it with a wife and child. I knew that. But I didn't say anything. Your mother's hope and joy were somewhat contagious."
"But you did tell her?"
The question came from Jim, not Blair, who was still silently staring at the man who might be his father.
Meyers glanced at Jim and nodded, his face clouding over with sadness. "I told her, but not then. We moved into a small apartment in El Segundo and set up house. She never mentioned marriage, not once. I didn't pursue it. I was already working, as a gopher for a law firm in Los Angeles and I simply took on more hours. She worked at this funky little record shop on...."
"The Chartreuse Vinyl. On Sepulveda."
JP's eyes softened as he looked at his son. "Yes. You know about the place?"
Blair nodded. "She had that job until I was three. I understand I spent a great deal of time at the store - on the floor - wreaking the place."
"Figures." Jim snorted.
Without looking, Blair hit him in the arm. JP, after a bad attempt at hiding his chuckle, went on.
"In May of '69, Naomi went into labor. She was at the record store when her water broke. Did you now about that too?"
"If you're asking if I know where I was actually born, yes, I know. There'd been an airplane crash at the LA airport and the ambulance never made it to the store."
"Nor did I. I was miles away, on the twenty-third floor of a highrise. By the time I made it to the hospital, you were seven hours old."
"Chief, are you saying that you were born...."
"In a psychedelic record store on Sepulveda Boulevard? Yep. And according to mom, the purple haze that surrounded my birth had nothing to do with angels."
"That explains everything about you, Chief," Jim said to help lighten the moment. Blair just screwed up his face and flipped him the bird.
JP watched the interplay between the two men and the vibes confirmed much of what he'd suspected for quite some time. He wondered if they knew what each look gave away? Even in newspaper clippings.
"So after I was born?"
With a start, JP was brought back to earth. "I said good-bye to you from behind a glass observation window. I left a letter and money and walked out. No excuses. I took one look at you and all I could see -- were opportunities missed, not all that I'd gain. I was a fool."
"Mom found out through a letter?" Blair asked, his face suddenly ashen.
JP didn't flinch, nor his gaze falter as he faced his son with his unforgivable past.
"Yes. Just a - letter."
Blair lowered his head and stared at his hands as he processed. All these years, believing his mother had... that there'd been so many... so many that she couldn't tell him who....
"She spent my life protecting you."
JP frowned as he tried to figure out what Blair meant, but then Blair glanced back up and with a sadness in his eyes that nearly tore JP's heart out, he said softly, "She let me think that there'd been so many men, so many...." he swallowed and blinked back sudden, hot tears, "that she couldn't tell me who my father might be and all the time, she was protecting you."
Jim had a different take on why Naomi lied and placing a hand on Blair's shoulder, he said, "Chief, maybe she was protecting you."
Blair palmed his eyes as he said wearily, "What do you mean, Jim?"
"She didn't want you to feel...."
"Unwanted by your father, Blair," JP finished for Jim.
Blair's eyes flicked from one man to the other as his - father's - words hit home.
"I... don't, I mean...."
"You weren't unwanted, Blair, I swear. But I was a twelve year old in the body of an eighteen year old. All I could see were...."
Blair interrupted with a bitter smile, "Diapers, throw-up, two a.m. feedings, walking the floor...."
Shaking his head, JP picked up where Blair left off. "My dreams gone, an ordinary life, and I was so incredibly wrong. Today, at this moment, I'd give up every minute of the last 29 years to be able to change a diaper and burp you."
"Trust me, Mr. Meyers, you don't want to see him burp. Or hear it."
His eyes locked on Blair's, JP gave up a shy smile and said, "Yes I do."
Nurses with paperwork, doctors with instructions and prescriptions and after three fun-filled hours in Emergency, Blair was released. As he sat on the bed, struggling to get into Jim's jacket, wincing as it scraped lightly over the small part of lacerated skin not protected by a bandage, Simon stepped inside.
Jim was helping his partner as JP stood by providing moral support and as Simon joined them, the room, already small, decreased in size.
"So how you doing, Sandburg?"
"Good, good. I'm free to go, released, no longer a prisoner of this fine establishment. And Simon, this is JP Meyers."
Simon hadn't missed the distinguished looking man, but he had gone a fair distance toward ignoring him. Now he was forced to acknowledge the man. He stuck out one large hand.
"I'm Captain Simon Banks, Major Crime."
"Good to meet you, Captain. And thank you for all you and your people did to - end - this situation. I'm very grateful."
"Our job," Simon said tersely.
Jim was picking up strange vibes as he listened to the two men and now, glancing up at his captain and friend, he was struck by the very unfriendly expression on Simon's face. As Jim put out a hand to help Blair stand, Simon and JP moved as one to assist. Simon won.
Shouldering the shorter man aside, he said in a concerned tone, "I got you, Blair. Careful."
Blair frowned, his nose wrinkling in that puzzled little boy, but utterly charming way of his. "Uh, thanks, Simon."
As Blair's feet hit the ground, Simon moved quickly to his right side, effectively blocking JP, and together, he and Jim escorted Blair into the hall, JP following behind.
In the corridor, Constance smiled at the young man that was her employer's son, even as her eyes sought out JP. Dark blue hurting eyes met hers and she immediately moved to his side.
Sandburg turned to look back at his father, his head cocked.
"Blair, I'd like you to meet my assistant. Connie, this is my... this is Blair Sandburg."
Constance held out her hand and Blair, with a somewhat shy grin, took it.
"I'm so glad you're all right, Mr. Sandburg. We've... been very worried about you."
"Thank you, Miss...."
"Please, call me Constance."
"Thank you, Constance. I'd like to introduce my partner, Detective Jim Ellison and our boss, Captain Simon Banks."
Jim, his hand under Blair's arm, managed to swing his other arm around and shake with the woman but Simon just nodded curtly. Urging Jim and Blair forward, he said over his shoulder, "I think we'd better get Sandburg home."
"Oh, of course, of course," JP agreed hurriedly. Blair looked back at his - father - and said almost wistfully, "You... could come... if you wanted."
JP's face cleared like a summer day after a storm. "I'd like that. We'll follow."
No one noticed that storm simply move over to Simon's face.
"Chief, you sure about this?"
Jim was belting in his partner, who was trying to shoo sentinel hands away in order to do the job himself. "I'm sure. Besides, I'd like to know the whys behind this whole kidnapping, wouldn't you?"
"That can be done later at the station, Chief. Not tonight when you can barely hold your head up."
"My head is just fine, thank you. And he looked so, you know, forlorn. And," Blair glanced away, suddenly embarrassed. "I... well, I liked him, okay?" The last part came out a bit more defensively than Blair had intended.
"I liked him too, but my concern is you."
"Well, it won't hurt to have him come over - for a little while. And what's eating Simon?"
"Hell if I know, Chief."
Jim pulled in front of their building and noticed with satisfaction that JP and his assistant had managed to keep up just fine. Then he sighted Simon.
Blair lifted his head and asked groggily, "yeah?"
"Simon just pulled in behind Meyers."
"Something is very up." Then with a glance at his nearly comatose partner, he added sarcastically, "And it ain't you, buddy."
"am too up."
"I am not asleep."
"You're dead on your feet."
"But I'm not asleep."
"You're nodding off."
"I'm walking. I'm talking...."
"With your eyes closed."
"More restful that way."
"Ye-ah, because you're asleep."
Jim shut up. The elevator door opened and Jim moved Blair inside, then propped him up against the wall. With one hand on Blair's chest to hold him in place, Jim pushed the open door button so that their three guests, who were just entering the lobby, could join them.
Seeing Jim's balance act, all three hurried forward, with Simon replacing Jim's finger. Once J.P. and his assistant were inside, Simon let the elevator door close.
"Lucky it's working tonight, eh, Jim?"
"Yeah, Simon. First time in weeks."
In the manner of all strangers uncomfortable in an elevator and not knowing what to say, at least three pairs of eyes watched the numbers light up as the elevator climbed.
Jim watched Blair.
Blair watched the inside of his eyelids.
"He's asleep, maybe we should go...."
"I am not asleep. In fact, I'm starved."
Smiling, Jim guided his somnambulant partner to the couch, carefully extricated him from the too large jacket, put his feet up, then said, "I'm going to get you a tee shirt. Want anything to drink?"
Blair glanced up at him with a grateful look. "Yeah, water?"
"You got it."
As Jim passed the others, he smiled warmly and invited, "Please, make yourselves at home. Can I get anyone anything?"
"I'll do the honors, Jim. You tend to Sandburg." Simon turned to Meyers and the woman at his side. "Coffee? Wine?"
"Tea, if you have it? And Connie?" JP turned to his assistant who nodded and said, "Tea for me as well."
"Two teas, coming up."
While Simon played host and JP and Constance took seats across from Blair, Jim grabbed a tee shirt from Blair's room, then a bottle of cold water from the kitchen and headed back to the living room, confident that Simon had everything well in hand. He sat down beside his partner, helped him into the shirt, then lifted Blair's hand and placed the water into it.
"Thanks, man. And I wasn't alone in there, you and Simon must be...."
Before he could say anything else, Simon was handing Jim a cold beer, just like the one in his own hand. Jim smiled and twisted off the cap, as he remarked, "You were saying?"
"Me? No, you must be mistaken. I didn't say a word. And I really am starved." Then he batted his eyelashes and added, "Pizza? From Giovanni's?"
"That isn't going to work, Sandburg. I don't take batting eyelashes from anyone, especially not from someone of your stature and beard growth. And may I say - on you, batting looks ridiculous."
Blair batted again. While flipping Jim the finger.
"You said Giovanni's?"
"How do you two take your tea?" Simon inquired from the kitchen as the tea kettle let off a little I'm ready steam.
"Plain for me, but JP takes it with honey, if it's available?"
Constance missed the look that passed between Jim, who'd been ordering the pizza, and Simon. Blair took his tea with honey as well. Both men shared a shrug as they realized that was hardly an indication of fatherhood, but it did give Jim an idea. He picked up the phone and carried it over to Blair. Taking his seat, he handed it off and said, "Maybe you'd like to call Naomi? Leave a message?"
For a moment, Blair stared at his partner, but the pale blue eyes regarding him held only concern and love. He took the phone, glanced at Meyers, who smiled and nodded, and then punched in his mother's voice mail. When her voice came on, he turned, seeking some semblance of privacy, some protection from prying eyes who might see the sudden moisture in his eyes.
"Mom, it's me, Blair. Call me as soon as possible, it's important." He paused, then added, "It's about someone - named - J.P. Meyers. I think you knew him as Jacob Paul Meyerson." He didn't look at Jim as he handed the phone back.
For several minutes, it was quiet. Simon felt very uncomfortable but he couldn't peg why - except - that suddenly he was in Blair Sandburg's life. For years it had been the other way around. Blair had been in their lives. Living their lives. Now - Simon was living a part of Blair's - a painful part. And Simon Banks was intruding. His protective feelings, his paternal feelings aside, he was the interloper here. He was thinking of rising, of putting on his jacket and leaving, but Jim spoke before he could move.
"The delivery guy isn't available tonight, so I'm going to run down to Giovanni's."
"I'll go with you, Detective Ellison."
Jim's gaze locked on Meyers and he could sense the desperation in the man. He found he couldn't turn it down. "Great. Let's go."
Both men rose and as Meyers walked to the door, Jim faced Simon. "Sir?"
"No problem, Jim. Go. I'll - watch - things here."
For the first time since the phone call, Blair spoke. "Hey, Jim?"
"Bring back some Tiramisu, okay?"
Jim rolled his eyes as he and Meyers walked out.
"More tea, Ms...."
"No, I'm fine." She looked over at Blair, then back to Simon. "Maybe he'd like...."
"I'm fine. This water is all I need right now, but thank you."
"You sure, Sandburg? Pain pill still working?" Simon asked, concerned by the lack of real emotion in Blair's voice.
"I'm fine, Simon."
He let it go - for now. Besides, he had a few phone calls to make.
"Well, if you need anything...."
He took out his cell phone and a cigar, motioned in the general direction of the outside and said, "I'm going to make a few calls and indulge so I'll be downstairs, all right?"
Blair nodded. "No problem, go, smoke. We'll be here when you get back."
Simon glanced from Blair to Constance and when she gave him a reassuring nod, he headed out.
"What do you mean, she's clean?"
//Vanessa Meyers is clean, Simon. There's nothing to tie her to the people who took you//
"Then who's the fucking leak? How did they find out about Sandburg?"
//We're hoping you can ask Meyers//
"What about Anderson?"
//Anderson isn't talking, but I think he will. He seems - almost - glad that we stopped them!//
"They could still try something, then."
//Yeah, Simon. Based on this case Meyers is working on, millions are at stake//
"Damn, I should have thought of this before. Joel, get a car down here on the double."
//It's already in the works. Lawson and Peters are on their way. I've set up round the clock until we get something//
"Well, I'm glad one of us is thinking."
//You've had a strange couple of days, Simon//
"No excuse, Joel. And Jim's coming, he went out to get pizza. I'll fill him in and if we get anything from Meyers, I'll give you a call."
//Pizza, uh? Blair's hungry. That's good//
"How did you know the pizza was for Sandburg?"
//Jim wouldn't go out at this time of night for anyone else, not even himself//
Simon gave a deep chuckle and said, "You be the man, Joel."
"Keep me posted, Joel and I'll call if Meyers gives me anything worth calling about."
Simon disconnected, took a last drag on his cigar, tossed it and plastered a fake smile on his face as Jim and Meyers approached.
Joel hung up, pushed himself away from his desk and headed down to interrogation two. Maybe Brown and Conner had something from Anderson.
He approached the window and pushed the com button that would allow him to hear the conversation inside the small room. As Conner's voice filled the corridor, he watched, praying that Anderson would talk.
"You're done, it's over. You've nothing to lose at this point, Anderson, and everything to gain. You help us, we'll do what we can for you."
Anderson gazed up at the amazon of a redhead and smiled wryly. "You gonna keep me alive?"
"You tell us what we need to know, and keeping you alive won't be a problem. We can end this thing right now."
He glanced over at the big detective against the wall, then back at blue-eyes. "What was the question again?"
Sighing, Megan leaned in and hissed out, "Who was the inside person? The one that told your employers about Blair Sandburg. The person that kept you informed."
Anderson glanced down at his clasped, cuffed hands and said quietly, "Miller... Constance Miller. And with our capture, well, the orders would be to kill Sandburg."
The movement in the room was immediate.
Anderson was quickly escorted back to his cell as Megan, Henri burst from the room, met up with Joel and then ran down the hall.
When the door shut behind Simon, Constance asked, "You'd probably like to ask a few questions?"
"Oddly enough, I can't think of a one right now."
She smiled and reached for her purse. She fumbled around for a minute, searching for something and said, "You don't even want to know why?"
Her hand was still digging as she said, "You know, why they took you, what they wanted JP to do."
"They wanted him to basically throw a very important case. He has agents overseas who are busy gathering evidence with regard to the destruction of some protected rainforests. They wanted him to call them off and then throw the case."
For the first time, Blair's face took on some animation. "I know that case. Class action suit on behalf of the local Papua New Guinea rainforest conservation group, Forest Watch. They're maintaining that the Malaysian loggers are destroying protected land."
"Exactly. There's a huge government battle waging regarding the so-called high taxes that logging firms are paying. The loggers claim that their businesses are being ruined, but in reality, they're logging where they shouldn't because they've finished cutting their allocated forests."
"My fath... I mean, Mr. Meyers, his work, could have great impact. And as I understand it, while this trial is in preparation, no logging at all is being allowed, right?"
"Precisely. Which is one of the reasons you were hurt. One of the first things they asked of JP was that he have the order cancelled."
"But he didn't do it?"
"No, he didn't."
Blair turned away. "I see."
Constance found the object she'd been looking for and pulled it out.
"Of course, now he has to be punished. And of course, the punishment will also slow down and maybe even stop the trial from going forward."
Something in her voice alerted him. When he turned back, it was to find a small caliber hand gun trained on him.
"Well, I'll be damned."
"I can smell the pizza from here, Jim."
"You should. You know Sandburg, extra garlic."
"How is he?"
The three men were moving into the elevator as they spoke and as the door slid shut, Simon answered, "He's - all right."
The reservation in Simon's voice caused Jim to concentrate on listening in on number 307....
The pizza box dropped to the floor as Jim reached back with his right hand and pulled his gun. The door slid open on the third floor and Jim bolted out, Simon and Meyers on his heel.
"You're insane. You think you can pull that trigger and just walk out?"
"Yes, since you asked. I'll simply walk out your back door, down the stairs, and walk away. Constance Miller will cease to exist."
The woman rose, took two steps closer and raised her arm until the small gun was level with Blair's head.
"You know, I enjoyed the video, or maybe I should say that I enjoyed JP's reaction. I was really looking forward to the next step. But this will satisfy me."
Her finger started to squeeze....
Blair kept his eyes on the woman in front of him, but his fingers were tightening around the decorator pillow and as her eyes narrowed, he brought his hand up and swung....
The gunshot rang out as Jim got to the door. He didn't stop. He just barreled into it. The door crumbled under his onslaught and he almost fell into the room. At the same moment, sirens, followed by screeching brakes, could be heard outside.
And inside - Jim, Simon and Meyers found Constance Miller on the floor, Blair Sandburg on top of her, fingers wrapped around her wrist as she fought him.
Seeing that his partner had things well in hand, Jim holstered his gun and pulled out his cuffs.
As he approached, he said with a grin, "I swear, Sandburg, you and your women."
From his position over the crazed woman and breathing hard, Blair huffed, "Fuck... you, Ellison."
J.P. Meyers looked lost. His son was being attended to by Detective Ellison and his assistant was being cuffed as Captain Simon Banks read Constance her rights. He dropped down into a yellow chair and put his head into his hands.
And there was a good chance it wasn't over.
Slowly he lifted his head to find his son staring at him, worry and pain etched into the younger man's features.
JP quickly stood and put out one hand, grasping the younger man's arm. "Me? What about you? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, but... I know, you and Miss Miller, she's, she was a..."
"She was... she tried to kill my son. That's all I need to know about her right now, Blair. She tried to take you from... I'm fine, Blair. I'm fine. You're alive."
Jim closed the door as the last of their guests left, namely Simon. Outside in the street, a black and white kept vigil and in the hall and on the back stairs, more guards kept watch. They fully expected another attack until they could close this case down.
JP, after an awkward hug, had been escorted home, where another black and white was stationed in the street and officers on guard outside the man's penthouse suite as well as one of the Major Crime detectives stationed inside.
JP's fiancee, Vanessa Lee, realizing that she'd been their number one suspect, had not welcomed JP with open arms. Instead, he'd been ushered into his home by Detective Rafe only to find Vanessa, bags on the floor, ready to leave. He didn't try to stop her.
Once alone, J.P. Meyers wandered into his study and picked up the album. He spent the next hour looking at the clippings that represented his son's life. A life he'd given up any right to enjoy.
"He's alone, Jim."
"I understand that, but...."
"He shouldn't be."
"So you want me to call him? Have Rafe bring him back here?"
"Um, well... would batting my eyelashes work?"
"No, but you could flash."
The laughter bubbled up and out of Sandburg and as he continued to laugh, he stood and started to lower his zipper....
"For crying out loud, you're gonna do it. You're gonna fucking do it."
"Hey, any excuse, you know?"
"You are - unbelievable. And don't stop, keep that zipper going down while I dial...."
Jim, who hadn't taken his eyes from his partner's amazingly - seductive - movements, was startled when a voice answered. He was so surprised, he nearly dropped the phone, which sent his flasher into gales of laughter. Flipping him the bird, Jim turned his attention to the phone.
"Mr. Meyers? Detective Ellison. Blair and I were wondering... if perhaps, well, he thought...."
The receiver was taken from his hands.
"JP? Would you be -- more comfortable staying here, with us? Maybe?"
Jim turned Blair sideways and let his right arm snake around the younger man's waist, careful of his injuries. He could hear Meyers voice and he dropped his head to rest a cheek against the side of Blair's face.
//I'd... I don't... wouldn't - want to be, I wouldn't want to intrude, Blair//
"Hey, if you can handle the intrusion, Jim and I can," Blair joked, then added more seriously, "We'd really like to have you...."
//I'll be right over//
Blair couldn't deny the strange and wonderful feeling he experienced in his stomach at JP's words - or maybe it was Jim - nibbling on his ear?
Jim struggled to take the phone from Blair, with Blair batting his hand away as he tried to say his good-byes. Jim mouthed the word, "Rafe" and nodding in sudden understanding, Blair said, "JP, Jim needs to speak to Rafe, the detective guarding you."
//Of course, hang on a moment....//
Phones that were half way across the city from each other were quickly exchanged.
"Hey, Rafe. Look, Mr. Meyers is going to head back over here and stay with us, okay? I'll fill Simon in, but can you escort him?"
//Will do, Jim. I'll give you a call when we're ready to leave//
They disconnected and as Jim put the phone back, Blair, still in his arms, said, "Didja notice how quickly we were about to get to know each other a few minutes ago?"
Holding him close and smiling down at his partner, Jim said, "Noticed that, Sandburg. A few kisses and suddenly you think you can flash me. You really are a horndog."
"Yeah, cool, uh?"
Slowly Jim slid to his knees, his fingers busy as he said, "Did I ever tell you...."
Jim pushed Blair's jeans down to his thighs.
"...that I like my horndogs...."
Jim added Blair's shorts and with a crazy slowness, fingers brushing against suddenly heated skin, both shorts and jeans were left to puddle around Blair's ankles.
"...plain? Did I ever tell you that?"
Blair just managed to brace himself by placing his one good hand on Jim's shoulders as he watched his reserved, stoic partner take a lick up the underside of his dick.
"Noooo," he gasped out, "I... don't, um...aaah, yes, um, maybe a little... mustard?"
Jim lifted his lips from the tip of Blair's penis and grinning, said, "No, no, plain is just fine."
As Blair watched Jim go back to the task at mouth, he smiled dreamily. It was good having such a single-minded individual spending such quality time with his dick. Thank God for James Joseph Ellison and his microscopic attention to details. And had they come far in so little time or what? As Blair's knees wobbled, he sighed a heartfelt yeah.
"I can't tell you how glad I am that we found a way for you to...."
"Eat your dog?" Blair finished with a smirk.
"Well, for want of something more intelligent, yeah. And may I say, for the record, that you are one imaginative guy, Sandburg."
"May I say, for the record, that a little room freshener right now might not be a bad thing?"
"Oh, hell." Jim was up in a second, which left Blair flopping on his side, on the couch. At Blair's ouch!, he turned back. "Damn, I'm sorry, but...."
"There's no rush with the air freshener, Jim."
"Actually - there is. Your fa...JP is on his way up - with - Rafe."
"Air freshener's in the bathroom."
As Jim made a bee-line for said bathroom, Blair decided to straighten up - by snagging his clothes - and quickly slipping into shorts and jeans. He picked up Jim's as well and as the older man exited the bathroom, Blair tossed them.
"Catch. Rafe might have a few problems seeing you naked from the waist down. But don't tuck in your shirt - you're still... wet."
"You know," Jim commented as he spritzed the air - a lot, "this whole extra layer to our relationship can be re-evaluated."
"You'd like to think you can re-evaluate this new layer, but I'm here to tell you, once you've had me, you're done for, me bucko."
"Done for? Done for? Like, what?"
Blair sidled up to him and bumping his hip against Jim, he answered in a low, sexy voice, "Like I'm a fever now, racing through your bloodstream and there's no cure, man. You've got me for life - and beyond."
Jim's blue eyes darkened as he gazed down at Blair Sandburg. Slowly he traced a line carefully over the bruises on the younger man's face, followed by feather-light touches with his lips.
"Life and beyond, Chief? I can handle that - easily."
J.P. Meyers sat on the couch beside his son, an open picture album on their laps.
"I've been cutting out pictures, news articles, your publishings, I even got copies of your birth certificate and some report cards. I have your sixth grade class picture, as well as your ninth grade picture and your graduation picture. I've been tracking you since you were about ten. The only thing that kept me from making myself known to you... was fear."
Awestruck, Blair flipped page after page of the album. "So this is how she knew," he finally said.
"I'm afraid so. I've had Constance as my assistant for ten years. I trusted her. And for that, I'm more sorry than I can say, Blair."
"Why did she betray you? After ten years? Did she say?"
"Vanessa Lee. She put you in jeopardy because of Vanessa. All these years and I had no idea that Connie felt anything more for me than friendship."
Jim sat down on the other side of Blair and handed the younger man a mug of tea as he said, "So she did this out of, what, jealousy? Anger? A woman scorned?"
JP nodded miserably.
Blair had been listening as he turned the pages of the album but suddenly he gave out a small gasp. Jim and JP both glanced down, worried.
"You set up practice here in Cascade, when?" Blair asked almost breathlessly.
Blair ran his hand over the page that had currently captured his attention. A page that contained a newspaper article dated December 12, 1985. The article had a picture of a sixteen year old Blair Sandburg smiling cockily into the camera and read:
'Rainier University student becomes youngest chosen to participate in expedition.'
"I moved here after reading that, Blair. I wanted to be closer to you."
"I'm... the reason you're here?" Blair asked, his amazement evident in his voice.
"Yes. I sold my practise in New York. To be honest, I had no idea what I'd do when I got here. Then," he flipped two pages and finished with, "I saw this and I knew."
This was another article.
"Oh, lord," Blair said, stunned.
Blair turned the book so that Jim could read. The detective took in the article and whistled low.
"Who finally took this case, Chief?"
"Two Los Angeles bigwigs. And they won."
"Because of you and these others, Chief?"
"I wouldn't go that far. Yeah, we made a stink and yes, we pleaded for someone to take the case. Their lands had been poisoned, their farming ruined. Without the ability to farm, the whole tribe was in jeopardy."
"The moment I saw this, Blair, I knew that was the type of law I needed to practise. I studied up on environmental law, class action suits, the works. Then brought my first class action suit...."
"I know. Against Willard Plastics for destroying the Sawmee River." Blair turned to his father and smiled shyly. "I've been following your career too."
The two men stared at each other, both smiling.
"I think I like him, Sandburg. He didn't even blink when we set him up in your room, then we both came up here."
"Gee, you don't think he already had - vibes?"
"Um, you touching me, me kissing you, you putting your arms around me...."
"Oh. Those vibes. Yeah, I suppose they were - telling."
Resigned to living with the dork, Blair shook his head.
"But still, Chief, you have to admit, he wasn't bothered."
"No, but I am, in case it's missed your sentinel nose and eyes." Blair gave a pointed look to his sheet-covered groin.
"God, you're insatiable."
"Hey, it's our first night together. In bed. You think we're supposed to just go to sleep?"
"Silly me. Kidnapped, beat up, cut, whipped, nearly shot, found your father - you're right, why would I think you'd want to do something so mudane as to sleep. I'm an idiot."
"Jim, I've been kidnapped what, three times? Beat up, shot, cut, been there, done that. But I've never, ever, had my first night as your - love toy. This is it, brother, so jump the fuck in and shut up."
"You just want me for my body, don't you?"
"I feel so cheap."
Blair grinned wickedly.
Nothing from the lump beside him.
"Blair? I said, Oh shit."
Nothing, not even a mumble.
"Blair? I said, Oh shit because your mother is coming up the elevator right now."
The lump moved. Groaned. A head made itself known, then one blue eye stared up at him.
"Did you hear me, Chief? Your mother is now one floor away."
~~~End Like Father~~~