Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

Authors note: I got this particular idea while walking the dog….you have been warned! (It's a bit sappy too.)

What can I say…Second verse

by Shedoc

********************
"So tell me again, Jim. How did Sandburg get talked into this?" Simon settled into the chair next to his friend and looked up at the curtained stage. The lights were low and canned music was being piped into the auditorium as the audience filed in, men and women in good suits and dresses, speaking in low voices and clutching programs.

"Well, you know last year, he was guest conductor for the Cascade Symph? It seems that the music conservatory is like the mafia, once in never out," Jim chuckled, "And this is the first year that they decided that their graduates would combine with the performing arts school and come together to showcase their talents. Media students are running the promo and graphic design and this is their major assessment piece. All the backstage stuff is also being run by students, as is the performance itself. A couple of dances, some original music and then of course the orchestra…"

"Jeeze, is motor mouth catching?" Rafe interrupted, "We get the point, Jim. The students are running the show and this is their make or break assessment opportunity…what's that got to do with Hairboy?"

The row of people from Major Crimes laughed quietly, getting a few curious looks from the people around them. Jim growled at Rafe in an almost friendly manner and folded his arms in what his partner would have called - to his face no less, no one could say that Blair was a coward - the 'I'm sulking' posture.

"Spill it, Jim," Rhonda advised him in a no nonsense tone. She was the department secretary, so she had to be obeyed - you'd never find any of your files ever again and Simon would kill you for ticking her off. She was the best in the PD and he wasn't going to risk losing her.

"Yes ma'm," Jim tipped her a little salute, "The composer who was supposed to give the orchestra her final work and then conduct it had an accident, and she's spent the last year in rehab. She's going to recover, and she'll graduate next year. They needed someone to fill in, because the orchestra is made up of students who are of course…"

"Graduating," several people chimed in and he nodded.

"And the Director got a hold of Sandburg to take her place," Jim sat back; glad to have been able to finish.

"So the orchestra is only doing one piece?" Simon sounded a little disappointed. He'd enjoyed watching their observer coax the music into shape from the people playing. The tunes were pleasant and the skill level undeniable.

"No, they're going to do five pieces. Some of the traditional stuff, you know, Mozart and the like, and one original piece," Jim replied, "They're at the end because the stage needs to be set up as a tier and it takes too long. There's gonna be an intermission and then they'll get it started."

"Meanwhile we're stuck with dancers and singers," Brown muttered gloomily, "I only came to watch Hairboy weave his magic."

"Relax, you heathen," Joel reprimanded, "You may be pleasantly surprised."

Jim chuckled lightly and sat back. Blair had been working three full time jobs lately, though Jim had the grace - finally! - not to call him on it. He'd merely done his best to ensure that the police side of things was a stress free as possible for his partner. That hadn't been too hard, despite the fact that Cascade seemed to be a hotbed of crime and corruption at times they'd managed not to run across any cases that were too weird. The other departments were busy as hell, but Major Crimes was going through a fairly quiet period. Maybe the gods that watched over the Sentinel and Guide were finally trying to give them some time off.

Simon spent the first half of the performance watching Jim and the stage simultaneously. The lights and sounds were a little intense and he didn't want to have to locate Sandburg backstage to haul his best detective out of a zone.

Each piece or artist was prefaced by a media presentation on the backdrop. They were introduced, given a quick glimpse into the performer's past and accomplishments. It was interesting, even if the performance itself didn't appeal directly to a person's taste you at least appreciated where the performer was coming from. You got a feel for who the people on stage were and at the very least wished them well.

By intermission, however, the men and women of Major Crimes was glad of the chance to get up and stretch their legs. Sandburg might complain that he was surrounded by giants, but there was some truth to it. The auditorium wasn't designed for people with long elegant legs to sit still for a great length of time.

"So far so good," Henri confessed when Rafe asked what he thought, "The bio stuff is interesting too. I like the way they combine the information with 'home movies' and interviews."

"That last dance was pretty intense," Rhonda smiled, "I'd never have thought of doing that with traditional dances."

"How they didn't hurt themselves with all that leaping about is beyond me," Jim grumbled. The atonal music had been pretty jarring to someone with perfect pitch - a gift or curse - depending on how you looked at it - of Sentinel hearing.

The audience around them was chatting idly, discussing what they'd seen and whom they knew on stage. Simon ducked behind Jim to avoid the Mayor and the Commissioner, who usually attended such performances. The DA was also around somewhere, as was the Arch Bishop of Cascade. All the beautiful people were out in force tonight, here to see and be seen. The proceeds from the night would be split, half going to the conservatory and the other half to the Cascade Kids with Cancer Foundation.

Jim had been listening to the barely muffled thumps and curses as the backstage crew rebuilt the stage into an orchestra pit. He grinned lightly at one of the more inventive pieces of invective and settled into the seat again as the gong sounded for the end of intermission.

"I wonder what the bio for Hairboy will be?" Henri mused as they got settled again.

"He won't have one, will he? I thought he was just filling in like last year?" Joel sounded startled and Simon glanced over at Jim. The Detective shrugged and settled back to enjoy the last part of the evening.

The first piece was to showcase a pianist, and her bio was interesting enough. The 'screen' had been moved to allow the orchestra room, now it seemed to surround the edges of the orchestra on all three sides, and was tinted to suit the piece that was being performed.

Jim was sitting almost on the edge of his seat, his eyes glued to his Guide. Blair wore a light blue linen shirt tucked into dark dress pants. His sleeves were rolled up to expose lightly muscled forearms and his hair was pulled back with a black velvet ribbon. He smelt of excitement, pleasure and the fragrance was like a fine wine to the Sentinel. His body moved gracefully, the compact, muscular form seeming to coax the sounds out of thin air. For Jim there was no one else on the stage, the music being created solely by his Guide. It was a zone of sorts, and one that Simon finally spotted, bringing Jim out of it at the end of the third piece of music.

Jim exchanged a sheepish look with his boss and sat back a bit, missing the grins of his colleagues. They all know that the only reason Jim was here was to watch his friend; the other acts had merely been something to be endured, despite their merit and calibre.

"Our composer and conductor tonight is…after what is far too long a stretch…finally completing his qualifications with us," the Director appeared up on the screen and Jim didn't miss Blair's little jump of surprise, "I first met this young man when he was twelve years old and I was working as a conductor with the Philharmonic in a recording studio…we were having some difficulties and I stepped out of the studio with instructions for the orchestra to await the arrival of another conductor. When I came back with the woman in question…."

On the screen an old image appeared, a large recording studio draped with the gear of that time, in which sat a very informally dressed orchestra. The shot was coming from the sound booth, and the Director, a much younger man than now, was asking what was going on. The orchestra was playing and in front of it - on a box so he could see over the podium - was a very small twelve-year-old boy with flyaway curls, ratty clothes and sandals. It was undoubtedly Blair.

"He asked if he could play with them and they said yes…they're on break anyway," one of the sound technicians grinned over his shoulder, "They're not half bad…."

"Anyone who is listening closely can tell that they are a little out of time," the Directors voice cut in over the scene, "However, that was also evident to our surprise conductor…as you will see…"

On screen Blair stopped them and fixed the horn section with a glare that would later straighten up wayward freshmen and Sentinel's.

"You're not watching the timing," he scolded, his voice a young pipe, "Start from the beginning again, and this time watch me!"

There were a few chuckles, but the men and women in the room turned back to the start. This time they stayed in time as Blair led them through a quirky version of the music on their stands. Just as they got to the end Naomi's voice cut in and Blair thanked the people in front of him before scampering out.

Jim noticed up on the stage that Blair was getting more and more nervous, his eyes scanning the music in front of him over and over, before he fiddled with the baton, placing it on the podium and picking it up again repeatedly. He wondered what the problem was. Maybe his friend was worried about the personal information they were hearing? Blair was a pretty private person, after all, which often led Jim to wonder why he'd choose to live with a Sentinel - despite the fact that Jim tried to tune out of Blair's private life as much as possible.

"I located him again later that day with a rather famous musician of the times. His mother was connected to the group and while they were putting together an album that later went to the top of the charts, young Blair Sandburg spent his time playing with whatever instruments or musicians he could find. We kept in touch over the years and tonight he is presenting an original piece of music, written by himself as a gift for his colleagues in the audience. It is a pleasure to present to you the debut piece entitled …Major Crimes."

The eleventh row sat up as if electrified, and Blair squared his shoulders as if he could feel their gaze. As one they all turned to look at Jim, who shrugged helplessly. The orchestra picked up their instruments; ready to begin this last piece and Blair took a slow breath before smiling at them all and sketching the time.

Sound seemed to swirl out in a silver ribbon, ensnaring the audience in its spell. This was only an introductory piece, but it was compelling none-the-less. The screens around the orchestra, instead of tinting to some neutral colour, showed a shot of the bullpen during a busy time. The music seemed to reflect the sound of the phones and voices. As the camera - Jim remembered Blair coming in with one months and months ago - zoomed in on each person, a section of the music they were listening to became heightened, fitting to the personality of the face they were watching. Simon's commanding tone and stride echoed for a long moment, followed by Rhonda's cool organisation and brilliant skills. Brown's humour and deft movements wove over them, offset by the suave sounds of Rafe. Joel's compassion and intelligence sparkled for all to see, augmented by Jim's strength and speed. The audience came to realise that the music was made up of all these themes, woven inextricably together to make one glorious whole.

It got a standing ovation.

********************

Epilogue

Blair looked up cautiously as the people from Major Crimes pushed through the after concert crowd of gushing high society and tensed a little. They surrounded him silently, each person looking at him with an intensity that made him a little uncomfortable.

"So…" his voice trailed off, then he squared his shoulders, straightening up, "Did you like it?"

As one they pulled him into their arms, hugging him, ruffling his hair, the applause and approving comments around them going unheard. Blair melted into the touches, relieved that he hadn't alienated a group of people he admired and respected as more than friends.

"So…you liked it," the composers voice was muffled a little, and the group broke the hug, putting him back on his feet, but staying close, crowding him and his partner, who still had an arm around the trim waist.

"No," Jim growled.

"It wasn't finished," Simon added.

"Yeah Hairboy, there was a piece missing," Brown nodded.

"You should rewrite it," Rafe put in.

"You can't let people listen to something unfinished like that," Rhonda scolded.

"What?" Blair gasped, his cheeks flushing.

"Where were you?" Joel asked gently, "You weren't in it."

"Can't have Major Crimes without you," Jim said it gently. Blair's grip on his shirt was crushing the fabric, but the Sentinel didn't mind. The scent of fear was being replaced by pleasure, as it should be.

"Most irregular," Simon chimed in.

"Not to mention bad dharma," Rafe told him.

"That's karma, Bri," H corrected, rolling his eyes.

"Thanks, Blair," Rhonda kissed his cheek.

End

Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail Shedoc.

Back to Shedoc's page.