Thanks to Sue Pokorny for beta-reading.
by Susan Monica
Warm, ummmm. Blair snuggled deeper into the covers.
"Hey Chief, let's go. I'm leaving in 15 minutes," Jim glanced in as he passed by Blair's' room.
Noooo! He slid even deeper, reveling in the warmth.
Come on!" Jim Ellison, one of Cascade PD's finest officers and Sentinel of the City of Cascade yanked the mound of blankets off his partner.
"Jim, Jim, wait. Oh man its freezing!" Blair rolled out of his bed to stand shivering in his sweats.
Grinning, Jim pushed him toward the bathroom. "Oh, please! It's at least 40 degrees and the sun is shining. Make it quick Sandburg, I've got a meeting with Simon at 8:30. Get your butt moving."
Fifteen minutes later, hair still damp under his knitted cap and sipping at the hot mug of coffee Jim pushed into his hands as he pulled him out of the loft, Blair was still complaining about the cold. Jim grinned at the picture his poor guide made standing huddled in a long sleeved tee shirt, a flannel shirt and a thick jacket, hands wrapped around his favorite coffee mug, trying to keep warm.
"Yeah, funny man. Just tell me why you couldn't have lived in sunny Florida huh? Or maybe one of those nice hot islands huh?" whined Blair.
"Come on Sandburg, you know I hate the heat."
"No shit. So how the hell do you end up in Peru? Huh? Tell me that!" Blair yelled, trying to keep up with Jim as the
detective moved around his truck and jumped in behind the wheel.
Blair was still complaining when the elevator deposited them on the 7th floor of the Cascade P.D. Standing in the doorway of Major Crimes, Captain Simon Banks glanced up from the files he was reading at the familiar voice. Jim was still grinning while Blair was trying to talk and keep up with the strides of his longer legged partner.
"Ellison! Sandburg!" Simon's deep growl stopped them in mid step.
"My office now!" he yelled turning and striding into his office.
>Blair stopped in mid word as he stared at Simon's retreating back. Jim started toward the office then stopped when he realized Blair was no longer beside him. Turning and reaching back, he put a hand on Blair's shoulder, Jim's questioning, "Chief?" turned Blair's face up to him.
"Yeah, in a minute Jim. I just want to drop off my backpack. I'll be right there."
Reaching over to tug on a damp curl escaping Blair's knit cap, Jim's quiet, "Lose the hat Rocky" brought a quick flush to Blair's face.
"Cute, Ellison, real cute," Blair muttered softly at Ellison's back, as he detoured over to stop at Jim's desk. Stripping off his jacket and throwing it on the chair Blair dropped his backpack against Jim's desk, all the while trying to see into Simon's office. He could just make out the silhouette of another man standing and speaking to Simon. Pulling off his cap and tossing it onto the chair with his jacket, Blair ran his fingers thru his hair and shook the shoulder length curls free while walking towards Simon's office.
He tapped on the door and stuck his head in just as Simon yelled, "Come in Sandburg, you're late."
"Uh yeah Captain, I'm sorry I j-just ....," Blair started stammering.
"Just get in here Sandburg." Simon motioned to him impatiently. "There's someone I want you and Jim to meet."
Blair slid all the way into the office and glanced at Jim sitting on the edge of Simon's map table. The captain motioned toward the stranger standing next to him.
"Gentlemen, this is Detective Marcus Steele. Marcus is with our Narcotics division. Steele, Detective James Ellison and his partner Blair Sandburg." Simon sat down at his desk and proceeded to light one of his favorite long cigars. He smiled to himself as he watched his detective and the visiting narc quietly size each other up.
Big, thought Blair,,,and tough and mean. Steele resembled his name. Cold, grey eyes, under thick salt and pepper brows. His gray hair was cut in a short military style brushed back from his face. He stood over six feet tall but was built slighter than Jim.
"Ellison." Marcus walked over to shake Jim's hand then turned to step closer to Blair. "Ellison's partner?" Raising his eyebrows, he took in Blair's jeans, flannel shirt and long curls. "A little young to be a detective aren't you?" he asked skeptically.
"Uh, no, no I'm not. I mean I'm not a detective. I'm Jim's partner and a consultant with the department," stuttered Blair. Geez, what is with this guy's attitude?
"Interesting dress code your department has Captain," Steele was staring at Blair as he spoke. Blair could feel his face coloring as he looked at Simon.
He straightened up and pushed his hair behind his ears, flaunting the silver hoops in his left ear.
Jim could hear Blair's heartbeat speed up as he silently baited the older man. He had enough of this nonsense and abruptly stood to his full six foot one height, moving to stand next to Blair, and forcing Steele to back away from him. He felt his anger stirring at this man who seemed to be getting Blair so pissed off.
"Was there something you wanted to share with us Steel? Or is Narcotics so slow you're doing dress code checks on other departments?"
Blair saw Steele's jaw clench at his partner's question. Simon must have sensed the tension also, as he quickly interceded.
"Marcus is running an operation in conjunction with Major Crimes."
"You've heard of Denton James, haven't you Jim?"
Ellison turned his attention back to his captain. "Isn't he the creep who's been pushing drugs to college kids?"
"Any kids," Simon answered tiredly. "He has a neat little operation going. He gives the drugs, mostly pot and uppers, away to twelve year olds at cost. They in turn sell it to high school students. They sell it to their college friends, but all the profits find its way back to Denton James. We just can't prove it."
Steele stepped forward, continuing the explanation. "He only uses minors, never deals direct and its always one kid selling to another. We know he is the supplier, the smug bastard. The kids are a steady market, and he discards them like yesterdays newspapers. We can't seem to touch him." Steele's frustration was evident in his voice.
"How are we going to be involved?" Jim asked.
"Marcus had a kid named Buddy James on the inside, but he has disappeared," Simon stated.
"We haven't heard from him for a week," Steele said as he started pacing.
"The last time we met, he thought he had some hard evidence. We were supposed to meet two days ago at the University, but he never showed."
Marcus shook his head and said worriedly, "This kid is a good cop and would never miss a meet unless something was wrong or he was in trouble."
"Do you have any idea what kind of evidence he had?" Blair asked.
Steele glanced at him but directed his answer to Simon.
"We know he was in close with a group of kids that always hung out at the "College Pub" on campus." Steele threw a snide look at Blair. "You know the type -- grunge, long haired freaks, with too much money from Mommy and Daddy. No discipline, pot smoking little shits who think college life is a God given right."
Jim and Simon exchanged guarded looks at the tone of Steele's voice.
Narcotics was hoping we could do a little checking from our end for him without stirring up any undo interest," Simon interjected. "Your friend Suzanne Tomaki is still head of Campus Security, isn't she Jim?"
Jim nodded in response. "I can call her and set something up for this afternoon, sir. Come on Sandburg." Placing his large hand on Blair's back, Jim directed his partner toward the door. Glancing back to speak to Steele, Jim said, "I'll get back to Captain Banks as soon as we come up with something."
"Uh, nice meeting you," Blair waved a hand as Jim pulled him through the door and out of Simon's office.
"Whoa, big guy, slow down." Blair yelped as Jim pulled him across the bullpen towards his desk.
"I'm sorry Chief, but I could see the wheels turning in that head of yours and the answer is NO!"
"Ah man, come on, I'm a natural," Blair protested heatedly. "Its my school, I go to classes there, I teach there,,,well yeah I know not this session but I know a hell of a lot of students and I'm always at the Pub."
"Yeah, I know," Jim replied. "And that's where you practice your bizarre dating habits," he said trying not to smirk.
"Hey, no fair man, there are some lovely girls there," Blair jumped to his own defense.
"So why can't you ever seem to find any of them, huh?" Jim couldn't help but grin at the righteous indignation that crossed his partner's expressive face. "How come you only come home with the psychos?" He raised his eyebrows, anticipating the expected reaction.
"Jim, man you are wounding me here," Blair looked up at Jim with those puppy dog eyes.
"The answer is still no Sandburg," Jim was adamant. "If there is trouble within ten miles, it finds you. Stay out of it Chief." He turned to cover the last few steps to his desk and stopped abruptly. "Shit…Sandburg!" he yelled picking up Blair's jacket and scarf and tossing them in the vicinity of Blair's head, he tripped over the unseen backpack on the floor, fell haphazardly into his chair and scowled up at his partner.
"Oh man, I'm sorry, I’m sorry." Blair held up a hand as he attempted to contain his amusement over his friend's not-so-graceful movements. Pulling his jacket and scarf off his head and shoulders where it had landed, Blair muttered softly, "Geez, aren’t we a little territorial today." Bending over to pick up the offending backpack, he walked over and hung his jacket on the coat rack behind Jim's desk. He was stuffing his scarf into his backpack when Jim started speaking again. Jim couldn't see him mimicking his words.
"Keep your stuff contained Sandburg. And keep it the hell off my desk!"
Satisfied his point had been made, Jim sat back down and smiled innocently. "I’ll call Suzanne to see if we can go over later today and check out the Pub. Maybe she has heard something." Jim picked up the phone and started dialing. "Hey Chief, how about checking with H. See if he can come up with the names of any students who have had run-ins with Campus Security in the last six months."
Dumping his jacket and backpack on his desk, Blair wandered off in search of Henri Brown.
It was just after 4 o'clock when Jim's blue truck pulled into the parking lot of Rainier University. Getting out and stretching Blair pulled his collar up and yanked his cap down over his curls.
"Hey listen, Jim, you don't need me right now to check with Suzanne, right?"
"No Chief why? Do you see that little grad student that's had you humming to yourself lately?" Ellison came around to the passenger side of the truck and gave him a playful punch to the shoulder. He motioned to the wool cap atop his friend's curly head. "Has she seen this get up yet, Romeo?"
"Oh, you are sooo jealous. You just wish you could look this good Ellison." Blair dodged another playful slap and headed to his office. "I'm gonna pick up books in my office and check my messages, I'll meet you back here at 5 o'clock", Blair tossed over his shoulder, grinning at Jim.
"Yeah, see ya lover boy," Jim replied as he headed off to the Security Office.
Jim was leaning against his truck reading over his notes when he glanced up and spotted Blair coming along the walkway leading to the University's offices. He was in an animated discussion with two young men. Arms leaden with books, Blair was laughing with them when he looked up and saw Jim. Waving his farewell, he jogged the rest of the way to the truck. When he was within three feet of the truck, he stopped suddenly and looked quickly at the glistening snow still covering the ground, then slowly back up at Jim's still form leaning on the truck.
Smiling wickedly, Jim couldn't help but be amused at the mischievous glint in his partner's eyes. "Don't even think it Junior."
Blair paused, obviously considering the consequences, then continued on over to the truck. Putting on his most innocent expression, he shrugged his books over to his other arm while reaching past Jim for the door handle. "Man I have no idea what you could be thinking Ellison. I was just trying to catch my breath." Glancing over to see if Jim was buying his innocent routine, Blair waited while Jim started around to his side and got in the truck.
"Yeah right," Jim snorted. Leaning across the seat, he pushed the door open for Blair to get in.
"Okay, so what did Suzanne come up with?" Blair asked, dumping his books in a heap on the seat between them.
Glancing down at the books then up again to Blair's face, Jim shook his head in exasperation. "Buckle up," he said as he started the truck.
"Yes mom," Blair let out a long-suffering sigh as he pulled his seat belt across his body. "You know, you don't have to remind me every time, man. Especially with the way you drive."
"Hey, hey junior, I drive just fine."
"Yeah right," crowed Blair, "How many accident reports have you filled out?"
"They were all legit Sandburg. And it's usually when I'm chasing these nut cases."
"Oh, please. You know you hate anyone driving on the road in front of you. You just love to put on those flashing lights to clear the way man, admit it."
"Sandburg, I don't know why I even listen to you. Belt up and shut up."
Blair finished securing the seat belt. "Okay, okay. So what did she say?" He turned in the seat toward Jim.
"She's had a dozen or so complaints in the last month. She is pulling them up and will send over anything that may be pertinent to our case. They have been noticing a little more activity in the last few months -- students speeding thru the campus, minor sabotage, stuff like that. They were chalking it up to end of term cramming and kids letting off steam. Suzanne is now beginning to wonder if there is a tie in with our information of the drugs on campus."
"Ya know, I go to the Pub all the time Jim and I just don't see how there could be this secret drug trade going on and me not notice," Blair said musingly.
"Chief, get real. You are in your own little world. You're usually deep in a conversation with those other egg heads about the mating rituals of South American witch doctors or trying to troll for any woman that like her men ...uh compact."
"Compact! Comp...," Blair sputtered as Jim reached one big hand across the cab of the truck and covered his mouth.
"Relax Sandburg. Didn't your mother ever tell you the best things in life come in small packages?"
"Compact my ass," Blair muttered as he pushed Jims hand away and glared at him.
Glancing over at Blair, Jim grinned and decided to change the subject.
"Ok, I'm starving. How about we stop and get some dinner before we head home? My treat."
Blair glared at his partner for another second before relenting. "Humph, okay sounds good -- except we're not talking about that greasy spoon place you love so much are we?" Blair shuddered just thinking of Jim's favorite cholesterol-ladened diner.
"Nah, I'm in the mood for pasta. How about "The Pasta Place?" They have some good veggie pasta plates and great garlic bread sticks. Oh man, they're slathered with garlic and all that butter dripping off them and..."
Blair held on to the seat as he felt Jim's truck speed up. "Whoa, Jim! You're starting to drool man - calm down! Pasta's good. Let's just try to make it there before you start zoning on the memory of those bread sticks, partner."
Go on to Tuesday
Comments, criticism, suggestions? E-mail Susan Monica.