Summary: Fifteenth story in my summer writing series. Missing scene from Payback
The Price Paid
by Twilight (Dawn)
Jim slowly swung his leg over the metallic black motorcycle, sat on the worn molded leather seat, and pushed the kickstand up with the heel of his old boots. His hands gripped the gears and remembered the rumble of the engine, how the bike would vibrate under him, how the tires would glide over the road.
It had been many years since he had last rode, but it seemed only fitting to make his special delivery.
"Wow, man…I can not believe you've been holding out on me." Blair straddled Jim's brother's Harley, pulling a black and red helmet down over his head and buckling the strap under his chin, tucking curls, trying to get his hair away from his face so he could pull down the face plate that would keep the wind from his eyes.
"Not holding out, Chief. It just never came up."
Jim smiled as Blair started the engine, the powerful roar of the motor drowning out whatever else Blair was saying.
He couldn't tell when or how it happened, but Blair knew more about him than possibly any other human being, more than people he had known for years, more than his own family.
Sure, the man could be a total pain in the ass, pushing and pushing when it came to Jim's senses and even if it was just something of a more personal nature, it just seemed natural to reveal things about himself, to tell Blair things like his PIN number so he could run to the bank to deposit a check when Jim was running late for a date.
That was the kinda guy Blair was…that was the kinda friend Blair was.
It was just something about him…
He trusted Blair, with his very life and if that was the price he had to pay, it was worth every penny.
The man had saved him in more ways than one.
"You ready, man?"
He nodded, a little worried when Blair's bike wobbled, wondering if the whole story about spending a summer motor biking across the country had been a load of bull, but his friend quickly shifted balance and rode through the garage door of his family home.
He was beyond relieved to find that his father was out of the country on business and with a quick call to his brother he was able to insure they could make their road trip.
Thanks to a little fund raising and some big hearted people they were going to be able to fulfill one last wish.
They headed out of town, riding side by side once they hit the interstate, stopping for a quick lunch in some backwater dive, the route the same he had traveled many years ago, back when he was new to the force and most people couldn't stand to be around him.
As they headed out again, on the back roads and their speed slowed down enough that Blair could hear Jim, he began talking about that time long ago, knowing that Blair would be there, even if it was just to listen.
"It was my first real fishing trip, Chief. We…"
"Hey Jimbo…put a little power behind it. You ain't ever gonna get your line out far enough to catch anything."
Jim reeled in his line and cast it out again, hearing the zip of the fishing wire as it flung and skidded across the lake. The sinker pulled down the lure and bait, but nothing happened, not even a nibble.
Mike Hurley reeled in another beauty, a bass at least a foot long, still squirming on the hook. He laughed as he swung the fish over to the cooler and unhooked it, shutting the lid. "That makes six for me, Jimmy. I'm at my limit."
Jim nodded, casting out the reel again as his friend grabbed a beer. He had only caught two keepers, throwing back a few undersized fish, but his heart wasn't really in it.
A long weekend away from the city seemed appealing. He'd been working long hours in conjunction with the gang unit, trying to shut down a drug ring that used young men, runaways as mules to transport the product.
The week before Jim had found four kids, no more than fourteen, dead in a suspected cook house. One had his gut cut open, from sternum to pubic bone and the others were in various states of decomposition. At autopsy the M.E. had found ruptured condoms full of cocaine in each.
They were just children.
Kids that some scumbag had used up and then tossed away.
Mike handed him a brew, elbowing him in the ribs. "Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jimmy. We're gonna get those monster…no matter what the cost."
"So did you, Jim? Did you get 'um?"
Blair glanced at him from time to time, keeping at least one eye on the road ahead of him. The streets were becoming rougher as they got closer to their destination.
"Yeah, Chief. We got them."
That was the last time he had worked with Mike. Jim had been transferred to Major Crimes and their paths hadn't crossed again.
Jim slowed, taking the turn onto Woodside slowly.
She wasn't expecting them, but Jim could tell she was home. They dismounted and Jim approached the screen door, rapping on the old metal frame.
Blair stood off to the side, silent for once, letting Jim take the lead.
Mike had paid a steep price, even misguided, had paid with his life for what he thought was justice and Jim just wanted to maybe in some small way make Mike's sacrifice mean something.
She seemed surprised as she answered the door, standing a little uncertain in a floral house coat and her graying hair pulled back into a loose bun at the base of her neck.
Jim smiled, handing her an envelope that he pulled from his leather coat. "We hope this helps in some small way, Sheila."
Mike Hurley's sister stood in her doorway, clutching a plain white envelope in her hand. Tears rolled as she thanked them, inviting them in for a glass of lemonade.
"We'd love to, but we need to get back." Jim explained, turning to walk back the way he came.
"Detective Ellison?" She ran toward them, hugging him close. "Mike, he…"
"Mike was a good cop, a good man."
She nodded as she released him. "He just wanted justice for Tammy. For someone to pay…" her face crumbled under her grief and she leaned in and hugged him again.
He rubbed at her back, waiting until she cried herself out, handing her a tissue that Blair handed to him.
Soon they said there goodbyes and headed back toward home, enjoying the twilight, a spectacular sunset over the Cascade Mountains, and the purr of the engines.
Finally nearing the city lights, slowing as they reached the city limits, they headed toward the Ellison house to return the motorcycles to storage in his father's garage.
Jim enjoyed spending time riding, enjoyed spending the day with Blair.
They would do it again, take a road trip…maybe travel down the coast.
It was hard for him to let people get close to him, to expose himself, but it was the price you paid for relationships.
"Man that was awesome." Blair nearly bounced out of the garage, finally talking a hundred miles a minute, climbing into the truck, still talking as they drove toward home…their home.
And Jim realized it was the price you paid for friendship, your family of choice and that was really alright with him.
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