Captain Simon Banks hung up the phone and walked around his desk to his office door. Opening it, he was pleased to discover his best detective at his own desk, apparently, doing much needed paperwork.
"Ellison." He called not very loudly, knowing the detective in question would hear him. Detective Jim Ellison looked up at the sound of his name and saw his boss, and closest friend, standing in front of his office door. At the captain's nod, he stood up and made his way across the room.
"Have a seat." Simon motioned to the chair as he poured himself a cup of coffee. He turned slightly and raised the coffee pot in offering.
Jim shook his head and waited patiently for Simon to tell him the reason he'd been summoned to the Captain's office.
"I need a favor, Jim."
Jim looked up at that. It wasn't very often Simon asked for favors.
Simon dropped into his chair, bending down slightly to open one of his desk drawers. He pulled out a book and placed it on top of the desk.
Jim frowned as he looked at the cover. "The Sentinel?" The detective raised an eyebrow.
Simon nodded. "This is the first in a series of books. The title character is a sort of detective." He didn't offer any more information.
"And your favor?" Jim asked warily.
"Read the book first." Simon turned away from his best officer and looked out into the bull pen. "How's the Ramsey case coming?" He asked in a manner that made one think he was changing the subject.
Jim detected something odd in his captain's voice, but wasn't ready to question it. Yet. "He's still dead." Jim sighed. "The D.A. is still confident the case against Mark Tillford will stick."
"You're saying it won't?" Simon asked carefully.
Jim stood up and walked around the office carefully, trying to rally his thoughts. "Oh, the case will stick."
"But he didn't do it." Jim answered simply.
"You're sure of that?" Simon asked curiously.
Jim turned around to face his captain once more. "As sure as I am that you didn't do it."
"That's pretty sure." Simon noted. "If Mark Tillford didn't do it, who did?"
Jim shrugged slightly. "The wife, the sister. Who knows, maybe the butler did it. All I know is Tillford didn't."
"The butler huh?" Simon chuckled. "You get that from Hercule Poirot?"
Jim grinned. "Maybe." He turned his attention back to the book on the desk. "Why do you really want me to read this book? This isn't another one of your attempts to get me to read that friend of yours, is it?" When Simon didn't answer but merely leveled an even stare at him, Jim sighed. "Simon. I told you..."
"I know, I know, you told me that you weren't interested in reading about some sensational supersleuth. Well, Jim these books aren't about that. If you'd take the time to read one, you'd realize that." Simon held up a hand to stop the protest he knew was coming. "But that's not why I want you to read the book."
Jim frowned. "Then why?"
Simon shook his head. "Just read it, Jim."
"Fine." Jim reached over the captain's desk lifting the book and taking it with him as he left the office.
Simon Banks watched his best detective leaving, book in hand, and smiled. He knew that Detective Jim Ellison was about to get the shock of his life.
Blair Sandburg typed frantically, ignoring his ringing telephone. After about the twentieth ring, he realized the person on the other end, whoever it might be, wasn't going to give up. He picked it up, his eyes still riveted to the screen of his laptop.
"Yeah?" He called into the line, not bothering with pleasantries. Only a handful of people had this number, none of which would be put off by *how* he chose to answer the phone.
Blair grinned at the phone. "Simon, tell me you have good news."
"I think I might have, but it took you so long to answer I forgot what it was." Blair groaned exasperatedly at Simon's words and could hear Simon chuckling into the phone.
"Funny, old man." Blair shook his head taking his phone, and moving away from his laptop. Blair knew having his work in front of him would be too much of a temptation and this was one phone call he was hoping not to miss. "Well?" Blair prodded.
"The chief was rather pleased you wanted to use one of our cases for your next book." Blair could hear the smile in Simon's voice.
"But? I'm sensing a but here." Blair took off his glasses and began to rub at his eyes. He was really getting too old for all nighters.
"I was thinking... maybe hook you up with one of my detectives, get first hand information. The case you're interested in isn't exactly closed."
Blair ran a hand through his unruly curls as he flopped down on his couch. "It's not? I thought I read that someone was arrested?" He stood back up and made his way towards the dining room table, used more often for research notes than the actual eating of food. He flipped through some newspaper articles.
"It says here that a Mark Tillford was arrested and charged with first degree Murder in the death of Toby Ramsey." He paused a second. "Simon, are you saying that he wasn't arrested, or that he didn't do it?"
Simon sighed into the line. "I'm not saying anything. The case hasn't officially been closed. Therefore, my detective is still currently working on any and all leads."
"Hmmm." Blair furrowed his brows although no one was there to see it. "And this detective? That would be..."
"Jim Ellison." Simon answered as if the name was not important.
"Uh-huh, and would this be the same Jim Ellison who won honors the past two years? The same Jim Ellison who was declared a hero by Time Magazine not long ago. The same Jim Ellison that always seems to come up in our conversations?" When Simon didn't acknowledge any of his questions, Blair continued. "Simon, you aren't trying to play matchmaker, are you, because..."
"No, no, heaven forbid. I know you've sworn off men... and women." He took a deep breath before continuing, managing to sound like the very idea of playing matchmaker for his old friend was appalling.
"Look, Blair, you called me, asked if there was any chance you could get access to the Ramsey case files. I just thought, talking to the detective on the case would be even better. If I was wrong..." He let the words trail off, sounding wounded.
"No, no, Simon, you weren't wrong." Blair sighed heavily. "I'm sorry. I'm just... overworked. I'm finishing the last re-writes to the final chapter of the Sentinel series. They have to be turned in by this evening."
"Tell you what, why don't you finish your rewrites and get some rest, then come and see me in a couple of days, and we'll see where the case stands?"
"Sounds good. Thanks." Blair smiled into the line as he hung up the phone.
"What am I getting myself into here?" He asked the room in general.
His first novel, 'The Sentinel' had become a best seller almost overnight a little over three years ago and since that time he had written four other books in the same universe.
But now, he was ready to write something else, something new, maybe something real. Not that he didn't believe the subject matter of his 'fictional' books was real. He did. He had spent too many years of his life studying real-life Sentinels, searching for a real Sentinel.
However, his research had only turned up one possible Sentinel in all his lifetime of searching. When she died, further searching hadn't turned up even a hope of a real, live, breathing Sentinel, so Blair was forced to give it and his study of Anthropology up.
It wasn't that anthropology, in general, didn't interest him, but without his study in Sentinels, it didn't seem to be nearly as important. He had always felt that something had been missing, some part of himself. Some part of his very soul was missing this necessary piece.
A piece he wasn't likely to find. He had come to terms with that several years ago. Consequently, he withdrew from Rainier University and turned all of his research notes on the tribal sentinels of South America into a series of best-selling fictional novels.
He had never regretted his change in career, never regretted that he had stopped searching. He had come to realize that if he were destined to find that which he sought, it would come to him. No amount of searching or wishing would make it happen.
And so, a little over three years later, he was finishing what would be the final book in the Sentinel series. He hadn't meant for it to go on so long, but he had spent so many years studying Sentinels. Using his research in a way that would tell people about these wonderful individuals, without letting the world know Sentinels really existed was something that he truly loved, but it was time to move on.
The Sentinel series was finished, finally.
Detective Jim Ellison closed the cover of the book Simon had given him and stared at the picture on the back. The author didn't look anything like what he was expecting.
He looked just shy of thirty and had the most beautiful blue eyes Jim had ever seen. They seemed to draw him in, almost as if he could fall into the photograph itself. What was more amazing was the wisdom he saw in those eyes, as if contained within were untold amounts of knowledge just waiting to be tapped.
Which was silly, really, because this... person was an author, not a scholar, and how much knowledge could he have anyway?
No, it was just his subconscious projecting things, probably an effect of the glasses the author was wearing, but even they didn't dim the blue of those eyes.
Jim shook his head banishing his current train of thought. It wasn't healthy. Despite the fact that he was apparently a friend of Simon's, the detective would probably never meet this man. Even if he did, he'd probably be disappointed to find that the writer was some obnoxious person, arrogant from fame, or worse, he was a flaky hippie child as his hair and dangling earrings suggested.
Content with this new belief, the detected flipped open the inside back flap of the book, looking for information on the author. He didn't find any, instead there were a few paragraphs describing the sequels to the book Jim had just read.
Jim looked at his watch, and without really realizing what he was doing, grabbed his jacket, keys and wallet before heading out of his loft. It wasn't until he had almost reached a local bookstore that what he was doing penetrated through his brain.
It didn't matter. Aside from his seemingly sudden fascination with the author of these books, it was the novel itself which had really captured him. They were about a freelance detective, of sorts.
Not really a private investigator, but a man who was born with unusual sensory abilities, and used his gifts to help people as best he could. The hero had spent several years isolated in the jungles of Paraguay, where he had honed his 'gifts'. When he returned to civilization, he put them to use in the real world.
What fascinated Jim the most was the similarities between himself and this fictional hero. Not physically, they didn't really look anything alike. Although their builds could be said to be similar, Ian Kirpatrick had dark hair and green eyes.
Other aspects about Kirpatrick drew startling similarities as well. Kirpatrick was blessed with five enhanced senses. Jim himself had been cursed with such an abnormality, giving him a lot of problems in his life.
Although he had them somewhat under control these days, he still considered them more of a burden than a blessing. Some of the things Kirpatrick learned to control his abilities, Jim had also learned.
He couldn't help but think that maybe, just maybe, this Blair Sandburg actually knew what he was writing about. If that was the case, maybe there were more people out there with enhanced senses, like him, maybe he could have had a better life if he had stumbled on someone who knew what Sandburg obviously did.
Maybe he wasn't the freak he always thought himself to be.
Blair Sandburg entered the Cascade Police department with an obvious bounce in his step, entering the elevator and riding up to the eighth floor in barely restrained excitement.
When he pushed open the doors to Major Crime, he went unnoticed until he reached Rhonda's desk, smiling brightly as the woman looked up. Her face transformed into a wide smile when she saw him.
"Blair!" She stood up and hugged him.
"Is Old Grisly in?" Blair asked tilting his head towards Simon's office.
Rhonda nodded and Blair turned to the office in question. He knocked once but opened the door before the Captain had a chance to answer.
Captain Simon Banks looked up from his desk with a scowl, which quickly mutated into a wide smile, "Blair. What are you doing here?"
Blair grinned and flopped down in a nearby chair. "I know I said I'd wait and call you this weekend, but I finished my rewrites and was in the neighborhood."
Simon raised an eyebrow. "The neighborhood? Blair, you live an hour away."
Blair shrugged. "So, tell me about your case."
Simon stared levelly across his desk. He hadn't had a chance to talk with Jim since he had been given the book. The detective had the previous day off and was now down at the courthouse on an unrelated case.
Before Simon could make a decision about how much to tell his friend, the captain caught movement out of the corner of his eye through the slats on his blinds. He turned his attention to the window and saw the detective in question walk through.
It was hard to tell, but it looked like Ellison was in a good mood. Court must have gone well. He picked up the phone and dialed Rhonda's extension. "Rhonda? Send Ellison in."
A minute later there was a knock and the doors opened to reveal the detective.
"You needed to see me, Sir?"
Simon motioned for him to come in. "Jim, meet a friend of mine. Blair Sandburg, this is Detective Jim Ellison."
Blair stood up to shake hands with the detective. He wasn't sure but he thought he saw something in the pale blue eyes that met his, but any speculation was cut short as their hands clasped and an odd sensation traveled up his arm.
He seemed caught in some weird haze as he continued to stare into those intense pale eyes. After a moment the connection was broken and Blair stepped back on unsteady feet. "It's nice to meet you."
Jim nodded but didn't say anything, his brain couldn't seem to form the words just yet.
"Blair wants to write a book on the Ramsey case." Simon broke through what was obviously, to him, an electrified moment.
Jim spun around to face his Captain. "Sir?"
Simon nodded, hiding his amusement. "The mayor's approved it. She's quite a fan of his."
Jim stared blankly. "Sir, the Ramsey case isn't closed."
Blair turned his attention away from his old friend who was quite obviously amused, although he wasn't sure by what. "Look, detective. I don't want to be a nuisance, really. If you don't want to talk to me, I'll get my information from the files and you'll never have to see me again."
Jim gulped loudly because that wasn't really something he'd like to see happen. "No. it's all right." He smiled at the younger man. "Maybe you can see something I haven't been able to, a fresh perspective."
Blair grinned and nodded excitedly.
"Well then, gentlemen, I'll let you get to work." Simon told them. When neither man moved he barked. "Elsewhere."
Blair rolled his eyes and turned towards the door. Jim followed him out wondering if this was really a good idea.
Blair flipped through the files for the third or fourth time. Jim had lost track. His interest had moved from diligently going through the files, to watching Blair diligently go through the files, to just watching Blair.
"Is something wrong?" Blair asked without even looking up from his stack of papers.
"What?" Jim asked in confusion.
"Is something wrong?" Blair asked again as he looked up, his glasses perched crookedly on his nose. "You were staring at me."
"I was?" Jim asked dumbly. Blair raised in eyebrow slightly in amusement. "I was." He admitted. Blair continued to stare at him. Jim sighed. "I'm curious."
"About?" Blair pressed.
"Your books. This case doesn't really fall into the Sentinel series."
Blair narrowed his eyes slightly as he tried to figure out exactly what the cop was trying to say. "Why? Because they're more fantasy than fact?" The writer shrugged, "Maybe. Maybe not." Blair looked back down to the files.
A minute later, he felt those ice blue eyes staring at him intently again. "What exactly do you want to know?" Blair asked with a slight trace of amusement.
Jim stood. "Nothing." The detective started picking up the papers. "Come on, if we want to go talk to Tillford, we'd better leave now."
Blair shook his head in bewilderment as he followed suit, trailing the detective out. This was turning out to be more interesting than he had imagined, and they'd barely started.
"I didn't kill Toby Ramsey." Mark Tillford stated seriously.
It wasn't the first time he had uttered those words, and would, most likely, not be the last. However, Blair Sandburg believed him. The author wasn't sure if it was just his desire to want this case to be more complex than it first appeared, or if it was some secret intuition. Nevertheless, Blair didn't think Mark Tillford was a killer.
The younger man nodded, showing his acceptance of the accused's statement. "What can you tell us about Toby Ramsey?" He turned his head slightly to where Jim was leaning against a far wall, seemingly comfortable to let Blair ask his questions. "You were lovers." It was a statement and Tillford didn't deny it.
Mark Tillford started to open his mouth but then hesitated slightly, not sure if he should continue. He stared at the long-haired man, trying to gauge if he could trust him. Finally... he nodded, "Yes."
Blair waited to see if anything else was revealed. When he was met with more silence he hazarded another guess, "You think you know who killed him?"
Tillford opened his mouth as if to speak but shut it immediately, only to open it once more. "Yes... No... I'm not sure."
Blair raised an eyebrow.
Tillford sighed. "His family. There's something... not right about them."
Blair frowned, casting a curious glance in Jim's direction. The cop's face was expressionless, but Blair thought he saw something in the pale eyes. Curiosity, maybe? Either that or his thoughts were not centered around the case and the current questioning. Blair didn't know him well enough to tell the difference.
"Not Right?" Blair asked as he returned his attention to Tillford.
Tillford shrugged. "He was always concerned about them finding out about us and about something else; something he wouldn't discuss with me." He hesitated, then looked up, staring searchingly at Blair for a moment, before speaking again. "They killed him. I don't know who or why, but they did."
Blair nodded his head as if he believed the suspect without question. "Thank you, Mr. Tillford, for speaking with me... us." He smiled a brilliant megawatt smile and turned to Ellison motioning his head slightly.
Ellison banged once on the door which resulted in it being opened almost immediately with a couple of guards coming in to escort the prisoner out. Nothing more was said until Blair and Jim were alone again.
"You believe him?" Blair asked quietly, staring at the spot in which the suspect had vacated.
"You do." Jim noted.
"That's not what I asked, Detective." Blair turned his head. The amusement in his blue eyes belied the crispness of his words.
Jim shrugged. "Doesn't matter what I believe. It only matters what I can prove."
Blair nodded his acceptance of this statement and sighed, wondering how they could prove any of the things Tillford had thought about the real killer of Toby Ramsey.
"How did you know?" Jim asked quietly, curiosity slightly coloring his voice.
"Know what?" Blair asked as he stood up.
"Ramsey and Tillford were lovers. That wasn't in any of the reports."
Blair turned his body slightly to appraise the detective. "You knew. Didn't you?"
Jim acknowledged this to himself. It was true. He had known, but he couldn't very well admit to that without explaining how he knew, or why it was that particular fact hadn't made it into any reports.
"Didn't you?" Blair pressed.
"Yes." He moved away from the wall. "How did you?" Jim asked.
Blair smiled slightly. "Same way as you. Experience." He walked around the table and towards the door. "We better get to work if we're going to figure any of this out before the attorneys get a hold of it."
Jim followed him out of the room, his curiosity about this man peaking. When they reached the parking garage, Jim stopped in front of his truck and turned to face the younger man when he seemed to hesitate.
"We have a lot of information to go through." Blair commented when he saw the cop was watching him. "You wanna grab a bite to eat?"
Jim smiled slightly, relieved that it wasn't something complicated, and secretly pleased that the question gave him the opening he was waiting for, even if he hadn't been aware of it.
"I make a mean lasagna. We can go over the files while we wait for it to cook." Jim let the offer hang, not insinuating anything more than the simple meal.
Blair's eyes gleamed as he smiled. "Sounds great, man. Lead the way."
Blair Sandburg looked at the room's sparse furnishings as Jim moved around quietly in the kitchen. The detective had brought Blair to his apartment, which turned out to be a rather spacious loft. The loft was made more spacious by the complete lack of anything which would have indicated something personal about the detective.
The walls were bare, the floors impeccably clean. Even the tabletops and counters were empty with the exception of the occasional appliance. The room seemed less than lived in. From his vantage point, Blair could see into the spare bedroom which, with the exception of exercise equipment, was also empty.
It saddened the author to see a man as complex and interesting, as he sensed Jim Ellison to be, living such a lonely existence. He had only known the detective for several hours, but already he sensed great complexities in the man. He was a mystery. One which he was suddenly eager to unravel.
"Wine?" Jim's voice carried through the stillness of the loft, breaking through Blair's internal thoughts.
"That'd be great." Blair looked around the room once more. "How long have you lived here?"
"About eight years." Jim answered as he came into the living room with two wine glasses. "I bought it after my return from Peru." Jim wasn't certain why he felt so comfortable talking to this nearly complete stranger, although he doubted learning about his time in the jungle would come as a surprise. It certainly wasn't a secret, especially not if Simon was offering up information.
"Peru? You spent time in Peru?" Blair looked slightly surprised. His eyes went slightly out of focus as he thought back to anything Simon may have told him. He couldn't think of any mention about Peru from his old friend, but he did remember seeing a few magazine articles a few years back.
"Captain James Ellison. That's you." He said almost astonished. "I didn't make the connection."
Jim shrugged, not sure what to say. He didn't want to discuss his past, not really, but for some reason, he didn't want his life to be nothing but an idle curiosity either.
Blair must have sensed his unease, because after another second of their staring at each other, he turned away and picked up the file folders they had brought with them, spreading them out on the coffee table. "We better get to work. Simon said the arraignment in is two days. If we want to clear Tillford, we need to know who really did it."
Jim nodded his agreement and sat down on the couch next to Blair even though there was another one, not too far away, which would have been a better place to actually work.
"Tillford says that he thinks Ramsey's family did it. What do you think?" Blair began.
Jim Ellison quietly moved through the loft, locking everything up, his mind still a swirl of information. He glanced back briefly to the couch where Blair had passed out after several long hours of work.
They had discussed the case, backwards and forwards, and finally came up with what they thought was a solid motive. Blair had remembered something he had heard about the Ramsey family when he worked at Rainier University.
The Ramsey's were a very famous, very influential family in Washington. Toby Ramsey's grandfather, Tobias, had been a sort of philanthropist, and his children and grandchildren had followed in his footsteps. They were financial backers to the university as well as other places throughout Cascade.
Blair had also remembered a rumor going around when he had first started Rainier. He had been young, and inquisitive, and had paid attention to the rumor mill. There was some talk about a Ramsey family scandal, involving Tobias Ramsey, the family patriarch, and the true nature of how he gained his wealth.
The rumors stopped when, a few months later, it was announced that Toby Ramsey would marry Kathryn Thomas. Nothing was ever mentioned again, but several people got the impression the marriage was some sort of ploy to keep their family secrets...secret. That had been almost fifteen years ago.
According to something Tillford had mentioned in an earlier interrogation, Toby Ramsey was seeking a divorce. He wasn't happy, and was planning on leaving his wife. Considering the fact that Toby was undoubtedly leaving her for a man, Jim hazarded that Mrs. Ramsey wouldn't be too pleased.
Both he and Blair believed that she might have had something to do with Ramsey's murder. In an effort to see if they could gain more information, they were going to speak with Ramsey's sister the following day.
Jim awoke early the next morning, which was not unusual. But his reasoning for waking was not his unwavering adherence to a schedule but the man who was still asleep on his couch.
From his perch in his loft bedroom he could see Blair lying still in sleep and couldn't help but think about the incongruities of this man. At first glance he seemed energetic, enthusiastic, and the slightest bit odd. He also appeared to be nothing more than a hippie child, who you would expect to find spouting new age mysticisms.
All of that might in fact be true, but he was also someone with an analytical mind who had a unique way of seeing the world. An understanding of things Jim couldn't possibly grasp, and a kind of innocence that couldn't be ruined by the harsh realities of life.
It was refreshing, and unsettling.
Somewhere, in the midst of their conversations during the course of the evening, Jim realized he could so easily fall in love with this man. He could so easily share the secrets of his life, the things that made him both unique and an outcast, and somehow, he knew that he wouldn't be alone anymore. If he could only take that risk.
He wasn't certain he could, nor did he have any desire to deny himself the opportunity at happiness, finally.
As he stared at the younger man through the bars on his staircase, he heard Blair's heartbeat change rhythm as he moved slightly pulling himself out of the grasp of sleep. When the curly-haired man's eyes blinked open sleepily, immediately seeking out his own on the second floor, Jim knew he was lost.
"Hey." Blair whispered, not entirely certain if he was making enough sound to be heard.
"Morning, Chief." Jim climbed off of his bed and made his way downstairs, wrapping a robe around himself.
Blair sat up on the couch rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. He looked around, trying to remember why he was laying on a strange man's couch. No, not a strange man, Jim. For someone he had known less than twenty-four hours, he sure felt comfortable around the detective.
That was unusual. He often got along with people, but rarely did he feel truly comfortable in their company. He had spent his entire childhood moving from place to place, following his mother on her travels. It had been a necessity then, to get along with people as much as was possible, for the short geeky son of a single, 'free-loving' Naomi.
When he had come to Rainier University, at the age of sixteen, making friends had been difficult. Acquaintances had been many, but true friends were a luxury he didn't have. He had lost touch with the few he did have when he gave up his studies in Anthropology after failing to find a Sentinel.
Since then, Blair had kept pretty much to himself. He lived alone and didn't go out much. He hadn't had a date in nearly three years, since the first book in the Sentinel series was published. He wasn't entirely certain why that was exactly. Maybe he was tired of the people who frequented the clubs he had gone to in his years at Rainier. Maybe he wasn't sure what it was he was looking for so he wouldn't know it if he had found it.
Maybe he was saving himself. For who or what he wasn't sure.
The only person he had kept in any sort of regular contact with, aside from his publisher, was Simon Banks. Simon had frequently spoken to him about Detective Ellison, in what Blair believed was an attempt to match-make. After spending several hours with Jim, the former student was beginning to think he should have listened a lot sooner.
The two men made breakfast with an odd sense of familiarity. Odd for both men because they had spent the majority of the past few years keeping company with themselves, and considering they had only known each other for one day, it was quite unusual to find themselves so completely comfortable in each other's company.
As Blair stirred blueberries into a batch of pancake batter, Jim took the opportunity to observe Blair, trying to figure out what it was about him that he seemed to connect with so easily.
"How do you know Simon?" Jim questioned curiously after several minutes of watching the younger man.
Blair smiled as he tilted his head slightly, thinking back to all the years he had known the police captain. "He knew my mother a long time ago, before I was born." He laughed slightly. "Which is kind of funny because Naomi has serious issues about... police, among other things."
"Oh?" Jim asked as he pulled out a frying pan and set it on the stove's burner.
"Yeah. Of course, he wasn't a cop when they met." He turned around and brought the batter to the stove as Jim turned on the burner. "I imagine she'd be pretty surprised."
"You imagine? Is she..." Jim trailed off, not sure how to finished his question.
Blair looked up as he poured a small amount of oil into the pan. "What?" He asked. When he realized what Jim thought, he shook his head. "No, nothing like that. Naomi's... a free spirit."
Jim nodded his head as the pancakes were poured. They were silent for a few moments before Jim spoke again. "You said she'd be surprised. About?"
Blair shrugged as he watched the bubbles appear over the round batter in the pan. "She doesn't keep in touch with a lot of the people she's known over the years. Many of them she never sees or hears from again, after she's... moved on."
"And your father?" The detective asked with slight hesitation. He didn't know if he had gone too far but Blair didn't seem to be put off.
"Don't have one, not a real one at any rate. A lot of almost fathers and a few 'uncles', and then there's Simon." The younger man smiled as he thought of the captain.
Jim felt the corners of his mouth twitch up with the obvious affection Blair had for his friend. "It doesn't bother you?" Jim pressed.
"Not really." Blair stated as he flipped the pancake. "How about you?"
It was on the tip of Jim's tongue to be flip but then he realized that Blair had been nice enough to answer his questions so he should be able to do the same. "I haven't seen or spoken to my family in over twenty years, not since high school."
"You miss them?" Blair asked quietly as he tilted his head regarding the older man.
"No." Jim answered honestly. His head cocked to the side as he heard noise outside the door. He inhaled deeply, trying to detect who might be out there, completely unaware Blair was still watching him.
He could smell Blair more than anything else, an earthy scent, mixed with the smell of morning coffee and blueberry pancakes, but beyond that, he could also smell the faint hint of tobacco.
"Simon's here." He spoke without thinking as he made his way towards the front door.
Blair watched the detective speculatively from the kitchen, his mind moving rapidly at what he had just witnessed.
"Blair." Simon Banks seemed surprised to see the young author at Jim's apartment.
"Hey, old man." Blair grinned at his friend, trying not to show his confusion at what he thought might have just happened.
"Any progress?" Simon asked, turning to Jim.
"Yes, sir." Jim answered as he pointed towards the coffee table.
"Well?" Simon asked, eyes going from one man to the next, taking in the way Blair seemed at home in Jim's kitchen.
"The butler did it." Blair chuckled as he placed some pancakes on a plate.
Simon bit down on his cigar to keep from laughing at Blair's remark, so like one that Jim himself had made the previous day.
"Breakfast, Simon?" Blair asked as he walked over to Jim's dining room table.
Simon stared stunned at the domestic picture they made as Jim made his way back into the kitchen to help. "Ah, no. I just came to drop these off." He flashed a packet of papers. "Search warrants for the Ramsey house."
Blair's brows crinkled together. "Wasn't that already searched?" he turned to Jim but it was Simon who answered.
"Toby Ramsey's house, yes, but not the family estate. I thought maybe Jim could go over it." He looked pointedly at the detective.
"Yeah, okay." Jim agreed as he sat down to eat breakfast.
Blair watched the two men, feeling as though there was definitely something else going on. He turned his attention back to Simon and eyed him speculatively.
Simon stared right back, his dark eyes open, and seeming to confirm the ideas that were passing through the young man's mind.
"I gotta go." Simon set the papers down on the coffee table and moved towards the front door. Just before he opened it, he spoke again. "You boys behave."
"I always do." Blair grinned as he sat down at the table.
Jim's snort followed Simon's chuckle as the police captain left the apartment and the two men to their breakfast.
After breakfast was finished, and the dishes done, Jim and Blair found themselves in Jim's living room. Jim was looking over the warrants while Blair studied his new friend.
"What?" He asked when he noticed the younger man's scrutiny.
"How long have you been a Sentinel?"
Jim froze. If it hadn't been for the books, written by Blair, that he had recently read, the word 'Sentinel' would have meant nothing. But he did read the books and knew exactly what the younger man was talking about.
"How long?" Blair asked again. This time his voice was quiet, pitched only for Jim's exceptional hearing. He stood just behind Jim, and placed a hand on his back as he spoke.
Jim took a deep breath and was almost overwhelmed by the smell of Blair. It seemed to seep into him, calming his nervousness. "My whole life, I think."
"You think?" Blair asked calmly, although there was a slight hint of amusement.
Jim moved slowly over to the couch and sunk down into the cushions, suddenly certain his own legs couldn't hold him up.
"It's okay, Jim." Blair's soothing voice was next to him as he fought with himself over how honest he could really be.
"After Peru, I had these... episodes. Sensory overloads." He paused. "Zone-outs, I think you called them in your book?"
Blair nodded and the action caused some of his curls to brush Jim's sensitive skin. Jim sucked in a deep breath, eager to smell the scent that had already addicted him.
"I took some time off after the Army. I thought it was some sort of post-traumatic stress. After awhile the episodes became less. I joined the force, and all was good for awhile."
"But?" Blair pressed gently.
Jim sighed, suddenly all too aware he would tell this man just about anything. So much for not needing anyone, ever. "I... got married. It didn't end well. It didn't begin well either, but..." Jim trailed off. "Afterwards, I spent a couple of weeks camping, alone. When I came back things seemed to get worse. The zone outs came back and I had sensory spikes. I didn't know what to do. I took some time off from work, saw a ton of doctors. Finally, I told Simon. He... suggested some things..." Jim turned his head to face Blair, a look of astonishment covering his features. "You. You told Simon what to do." It wasn't a question, and the certainty with which he voiced the words made Blair look away.
"Yeah. I think." Blair admitted.
"You knew?" Jim sounded hurt, betrayed almost, though he wasn't sure why.
"No. Not about you." Blair hurriedly said. "Simon asked some questions. I answered them." He paused for a second, then stood up and walked around the room. "They were detailed questions, I admit, but I didn't know anything about you."
Jim stared at the author for a moment, finally nodding, believe what he said. "Weren't you curious?"
Blair took a deep breath and plunged ahead with his own truths. "At the time, no. He called at a really bad time in my life. I... I didn't really want to talk to anybody, not Naomi, not Simon. I answered his questions, but honestly? I don't think I put much thought into it. I probably did you more harm than good." He turned towards the older man, who was sitting on the couch watching him, his face expressionless, but there was a warmness in his pale eyes.
"You saved my life." Jim spoke quietly, honestly. "Simon saved my life. Thank you."
Blair waved the appreciation off. "You can control your senses now?"
"Control?" Jim smiled ruefully. "If that's what you want to call it. Really. It's more like they control me. Usually I just have them turned down, like volume on a stereo." He looked up and smiled slightly. "I suppose I have you to thank for that, too? I recognized something similar in your books."
Blair grinned sheepishly. "I may have mentioned it to Simon."
"How did you know?" Jim asked. "What to do?"
Blair quickly looked away. "I... knew someone... like you. She... died."
"I'm sorry." Jim spoke quietly. "Was she your..."
"No. More like a sister."
Jim nodding, curious as to the fate of someone like him, yet at the same time, not really wanting to know.
"Um... we'd better get going." Blair nodded to the coffee table, which now held the warrants Simon had brought over.
"Yeah." Jim stood up and grabbed his jacked from the coat rack by the door. "Blair?" He asked just as the younger man opened the door.
"Yeah?" Blair stopped, hesitating.
"Maybe we could..." Jim stopped. "Never mind. Let's go."
Blair watched him for a second, holding the door open. The detective picked up his warrants and stepped out into the hall. When Blair followed him, the detective shut and locked the door. They stared at each other for a moment, in the hallway outside of 307, their eyes conveying things they couldn't. Finally, Jim looked away and walked towards the elevator.
"So, what do we know about Jennifer Ramsey?" Blair asked as he climbed into the detective's truck and fastened his seatbelt.
Jim glanced at Blair before fastening his own seatbelt and starting the engine. "Well, according the background checks that were run when her brother was first killed, she's twenty-four and considered something of a family embarrassment."
Blair arched an eyebrow. "Oh?"
Jim smiled slightly and nodded. "Yeah. She's been in and out of hospitals since she was six. She was just released from Conover about six months ago."
"Really?" Blair sounded intrigued. "So, if she's such an embarrassment, why keep her around? Surely a family like the Ramsey's could have moved her somewhere else?"
"Tobias Ramsey had a soft spot for Jennifer, it seems. There were some rather strict stipulations in his will regarding her." Jim maneuvered the truck easily through traffic.
"Ah." Blair nodded his understanding as another thought struck him. "If she's so unstable, won't she be a poor witness, should she give us any usable information?"
Jim shrugged. "Maybe, but we still need to talk to her. She probably doesn't know anything, but if she can point us in the direction of someone who might..." Jim trailed off as he pulled the truck to a stop in front of the security fence at the Ramsey Estate.
"Ms. Ramsey? I'm Detective Ellison and this is Blair Sandburg. We were wondering if we could ask you a couple of questions?" Jim spoke calmly to the young woman who came to greet them after the maid had let them in.
It did not escape either man's notice that the woman seemed nervous, which, considering her brother had recently been murdered, wasn't unusual. Jim listened to the rapid beating of her heart with some interest, however, wondering what it was exactly that was causing that reaction. Was it simply being questioned by the police, or something in particular that was frightening her?
"Wh...what about?" Jennifer Ramsey asked nervously. "I thought you arrested... M.. that man?"
Blair glanced at Jim, curious at her reaction. She seemed more nervous than she should be. Jim kept his eyes on the young woman as he stepped a little closer to her.
"We'd like to ask you abut your sister-in-law." His voice was quiet, but there was no misinterpreting the seriousness in his tone.
Jennifer gulped visibly before speaking. "Katie? What does she have to do with this?"
"Ms. Ramsey, is it true she and your brother were having problems?" Blair asked quietly.
"Uh..." Jennifer Ramsey hesitated. "No. They were fine."
"Mark Tillford says that they were getting divorced." Jim told her, his face expressionless, his voice even, not giving any indication he knew she was lying.
"No." Jennifer shook her head. "No. They couldn't. It would ruin... everything." She looked away, her eyes falling to the floor, her hands gripped tightly around each other. "He worked so hard to make up for it. Toby didn't care. He never did."
Jennifer Ramsey was mumbling now, more to herself than to either Jim or Blair.
"Who worked hard?" Blair asked softly placing a hand on her shoulder.
Jim watched the interaction with slight surprise. He hadn't known the writer for any length of time but he still hadn't expected him to be so there for the person they were questioning. Blair was just exuding calmness and understanding.
"Grandfather. He... he tried so hard to make up. But... Toby never understood. He never cared. And Katie... Katherine, she understood, she did." Jennifer stopped speaking, her eyes distant, as if she was off in some other place in her mind. She took a deep breath. "She understood, but Toby, he hurt her. If they split up..." She trailed off.
Blair waited several minutes, letting Ms. Ramsey compose herself, although it appeared to him that she wasn't aware of their presence anymore. It was almost as if she was just speaking aloud to herself. He turned to look at Jim, whose face was still an expressionless mask, but his eyes showed similar confusion as to what Blair was experiencing.
"Ms. Ramsey? Jennifer?" Blair asked softly. "What would have happened? If your brother and his wife had divorced?"
Jennifer took a deep breath before speaking, her eyes still unfocused. "She would have told. She would have told everyone. Toby didn't care. He just wanted M... that, that man! Don't you see?" She asked frantically as she turned her head to face Blair, her suddenly clear eyes seeing compassion and understanding in Blair's. "He had to die! He just *had* to!"
Blair stood frozen for a second, almost disbelieving of what he had just heard. This new revelation wasn't exactly what he or Jim had expected. Suddenly, Jennifer Ramsey lost it. Her entire body began shaking as she threw herself into Blair's arms, sobs racking her body.
Blair patted her back soothingly as he looked over her shoulder at the detective. He shrugged slightly as he stepped back out into the hall, taking out his cell phone and dialing.
"Ms. Ramsey?" Blair began taking the seat next to Jennifer Ramsey. "You said your brother had to die? Why?"
Jennifer Ramsey wiped her face one last time before looking at Blair. "Toby never understood Grandfather."
"What didn't he understand?" Blair asked quietly, hoping to get the girl talking. Her eyes were watery and slightly glazed. He wasn't sure if that was entirely from crying or if it was something else altogether.
"Grandfather paid for his crime. How many more years is it going to be hanging over our heads? How many?" Jennifer started to get hysterical again, her words coming in near shrieks as her hands waved around frantically.
"What did he have to pay for?" Jim asked as he stepped into the room, depositing his cell phone into a pocket of his jacket.
Jennifer Ramsey turned away from Blair and began staring aimlessly out one of the large windows. After several long seconds, she began to speak again. "Toby left Katie. He left her for Mark. He ruined everything. I tried to reason with him, tried to get him to understand." She blinked once, but continued to stare out of the window, her voice speaking in a low, even monotone now, almost resigned. "I told him that we'd be destroyed"
Blair turned to look at Jim, who seemed about ready to speak, but when Blair shook his head silently; the detective shut his mouth and continued listening, hoping the young girl would get to the point soon.
"When I first found out that Toby was in love with Mark, I wasn't worried. I'd met him once at an art show, debuting his work. He was wonderful." She smiled as if in distant memory. "Nothing would happen. Mark couldn't be gay. Our family was safe." Jennifer's voice dropped another notch as she continued speaking, the pain in her voice plain to hear. "But then I caught them... together. And I knew that it was true. When Toby came home to pack, I tried to talk to him. He wouldn't listen. I knew what would happen. They'd get divorced and everyone would know. I couldn't let that happen. I had to kill him."
Her words were so softly spoken Blair couldn't hear them, but apparently, Jim had. The detective stepped forward.
"Ms. Ramsey? Are you saying you killed your brother, Toby Ramsey?" He asked clearly, allowing for no mistake.
Jennifer nodded. "Yes. Isn't that why you're here?"
Jim began to read her rights to her as Blair helped her to stand. The detective spoke softly with her, making she understood everything, giving Blair the opportunity to call Simon and fill him in.
It was nearly three hours later when Jim and Blair returned to Major Crimes to make sense of what Jennifer Ramsey had told them and devise a motive from the information they had.
Jim had just sat down at his desk, with Blair perching on the edge, when Simon came over with a file folder. "Good work, gentlemen."
Jim looked up with a slight frown. "We still don't have a motive, sir."
"Wrong." Simon smiled broadly. "When you called earlier I had Brown speak with the widow. It seems that she had planned to file for divorce the day after her husband died."
"That doesn't explain why the sister felt the need to kill him." Jim shook his head.
"Not by itself, but she also admitted that had the divorce gone to court, she would have revealed the true reason for their marriage."
"Which was?" Blair asked, bouncing slightly on his perch.
"Tobias Ramsey was responsible for the death of Kathryn Ramsey's own grandfather, Randolph Thomas. The two men were involved in business together in the late fifties. Supposedly Randolph Thomas disappeared forty years ago, presumed dead, but a body was never found."
"Let me guess. Someone does know where the body is?" Blair asked with a slight shudder thinking about a forty year old corpse decaying in someone's basement.
"We're still checking on that now. But according to Kathryn Ramsey, her marriage to the victim was a way to keep the family's secret. If she had gotten a divorce, she would have aired the family's dirty laundry.
"There's your motive, detective." Blair handed the file folder to Jim after taking it from Simon.
"It seems like a waste. Killing someone over a forty year old murder." Jim shook his head sadly as he skimmed the reports.
"Yes, but a family like the Ramsey's is in the public eye. If something like this came out, who knows what it would have done to them?" Blair shrugged.
"Look, Jim, why don't you take off? This case is just about wrapped up. You can come back in the morning and finish the reports." Simon smiled slightly at the two men before turning and walking back to his office, not giving them a chance to argue.
"I guess that leaves you and me." Blair smiled easily as he stood up.
Jim watched him for a second, taking in the sight of his new friend, whom he didn't have any real reason see after tonight. The detective took in the scent of Blair which seemed to willing drift over to him, letting him take his fill. "You hungry?" Jim asked as casually as he could muster.
"Starved, but this time it's on me." Blair grinned wickedly, turning and walking through the bull pen towards the doors.
Watching Blair leave and suddenly entertaining a vision of their dinner on Blair, Jim stood up and followed his friend out. The detective wondered if maybe they should eat in private, although that was providing Blair was interested.
"Your place is... interesting." Jim commented as he walked around the apartment. It wasn't quite what he was expecting but he wasn't sure why that was.
The apartment itself wasn't small, but it appeared that way due to the way the rooms were decorated. There didn't seem to be an area that didn't have something occupying it's space. It looked entirely too small for all of Blair's stuff.
There were books, masks, wall hangings, odd artifacts from places Jim could barely pronounce, and more books. Only one couch sat in the small living room along with a coffee table which was littered with papers and a laptop computer.
It was obvious that no one other than Blair had been there in quite some time.
"Sorry about the clutter. I don't get many visitors." Blair offered, but he didn't seem entirely apologetic.
"Why not?" Jim asked curiously.
Blair shrugged. "I guess I haven't found anyone interesting enough to invite over." He smiled as he cleared off the coffee table and sat down at the couch.
"Dinner was good." Jim said as he sat down, his leg lightly brushing Blair's, sending a flush of heat through both men. "I don't think I've ever had... tongue."
"Really?" Blair grinned. "I'd think a man like you might be familiar with a little tongue." He raised an eyebrow and then started to chuckle.
Jim laughed with him and broke the slight awkwardness that seemed to settle over them since dinner. "I guess we won't really be seeing each other too much... now that the case is solved." Jim spoke quietly, his pale eyes gazing at Blair.
"I don't know. I may still have questions, for the book, of course, and there's your senses. If you'd like, I can help you with that."
Jim nodded. "I'd like." He moved slightly closer to the younger man on the couch, close enough that he could feel the warmth radiating off of Blair's body.
"Good." Blair bent forward, his hair falling over his shoulders.
"You know what else I'd like?" Jim asked quietly.
"What?" Blair breathed out, his darker eyes lost in the pale depths of the older man's.
"This." Jim whispered before closing the distance between them and taking the younger man's lips in a kiss.
When they parted both men were breathing rapidly, surprised at the connection they still felt sizzling between them.
Jim moved away slowly, standing up. "I should go."
"You don't have to." Blair told him, getting to his own feet.
"Yeah. Yeah I do." Jim spoke, his voice husky with want and need and something else he couldn't name.
Blair turned away breaking their connection. "Okay." He stepped away.
"But," Jim stopped Blair's movement and brought the younger man's body flush with his own and planted another kiss against his lips. "I want to see you again. Soon."
"Okay." Blair whispered, his lips still tingling.
He watched as the older man left, flopping back onto his couch, his body still humming from that brief contact. He wondered how soon was soon? And how much this man was about to change his life?
It didn't matter. The journey was half the fun and Blair had a feeling he was about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
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Acknowledgements: To everyone involved with My Mongoose and especially to Liz, my kindred spirit, and personal cheerleader.