Author's Notes:

Started thinking about watching the show on the Sci-Fi Channel and came up with a first season story. It's short, and probably boring. I'll do better next time.

Thanks, K!

Hope you enjoy!



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 09-14-99)

Captain Simon Banks had cleared his desk and was cutting off the lamp when he noticed the lone figure in the Major Crime bullpen. Curious, he stepped out of his office and approached the man. "What are you still doing here, Sandburg? Thought you and Jim would be out having a victory dinner somewhere by now."

Blair Sandburg smiled up at the captain. "In all the excitement, Jim forgot today was payday. So, he's downstairs getting his check. Then, we'll go find some dinner. Want to join us?"

"Think Jim will mind? He was pretty miffed at me today. Rightly so, I might add," Simon said ruefully. "He's a hell of a detective. Sometimes I forget that, you know? I tend to attribute all his successes to his Sentinel abilities, forgetting all the cases he solved before they came online, and he brought you in as his partner."

"Don't down yourself too much, Simon. I've done the same thing. I crow so much when he uses his senses to solve a crime, but ignore the other instances when it's his instincts, intelligence, and stubborn doggedness that get the job done. I watched him combine all of that today to solve a case that you, and everyone else, had decreed a done deal. Now, there's a murderer locked up downstairs, and a family who can go to sleep with the knowledge that they had not been deaf to their loved one's cries for help and understanding. I think that's what Jim is most proud of-- helping the family."

"And what are you most proud of, Sandburg?"


Simon smiled and sank down onto the corner of the desk. "Yeah, me, too, Sandburg. Me, too."


"What do we have, Captain?" Detective Jim Ellison asked, as he approached the crime scene. He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out two pairs of plastic gloves. Without turning, he held out a pair behind him.

Blair took them with a grimace. One inadvertent touch at a crime scene last month had damned him to a lifetime of plastic. But it could have been worse. He could have had to deal with the smell of latex, but since Jim was allergic to latex.... He'd found being partners with a Sentinel was useful in a variety of ways.

"A possible suicide."

"How possible?"

Simon shrugged. "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck...."

"Then why was I called out of my bed to go on a wild duck hunt?" Jim asked, his tone just shy of irritated.

"Because the victim is Nehemiah Drake. He does, or did something, in the computer field. His company is worth somewhere in the high millions."

"Actually Datalock, his data protection software, is used extensively throughout the Northwest," Blair filled in. "There has been talk about D.C. wanting the company to give them exclusive rights."

"Sandburg, I am constantly amazed at how much useless knowledge you carry around in that hairy head of yours," Simon commented.

"Only useless until you need it, right, Captain?" Blair pointed out.

Simon sighed. "If I kill him, you'd feel duty-bound to find his body, wouldn't you?" he asked his detective.

"Well, sir, he is my partner."

The captain harrumphed. "Go wrap this suicide up, so the mayor will get off my tail."

Blair went into the garage first, then stopped as Jim came up behind him. They stayed like that for several minutes, each taking in the scene as a whole. There was the black BMW, its driver's side door open, the slumped body of Nehemiah Drake in the seat. His skin color was on the deep side of rosy thanks to the carbon monoxide he had inhaled. The rest of the garage was, well, garage-like. There were oil spots on the floor, and shelves containing antifreeze, oil, lubricants, and carwash supplies. At their feet was a snaking collection of rags which ran the length of the garage door, and there was a similar, but smaller roll of them close to the door leading into the house.

"He stuffed the rags under the door to keep the fumes in," Blair murmured, and felt, rather than saw, Jim nod. "Everything memorized?" he asked. As a Sentinel, Jim could memorize the entire room with his senses, and playback the results with uncanny accuracy.

"Yeah, let's move in." With just a touch to his shoulder, he guided Blair over to the car. He got a closer scan of the body, the way he was positioned, what he was wearing.... "Forensics through here?"

"Yes, Detective," the leader of the team called. "And since the M.E.'s office is backed up, we took the pictures they needed. So, he's all yours."

"Thanks, Mike. I'll still be careful, though."

"You always are," Mike said fondly. If only the other detectives were as considerate.

Jim extracted the contents of Drake's pockets. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he squatted down beside the car. Blair's hand came to rest on his shoulder, and now firmly anchored, he scrutinized the interior of the vehicle, picking up every piece of lint and crud a car could hide. Still, nothing out of the ordinary. He shook his head, and stood.

"So, is it a duck?" Blair questioned softly.

Jim frowned. "I guess. But something isn't right."

"With the body?"

"With something," Jim gritted out in frustration. He walked over to the rags that had been stuffed along the bottom of the garage door. "It certainly looks deliberate, doesn't it?" He went to the other pile, noting the angle of their line. "Who discovered him?"

"His girlfriend, Felicia Whittington. She arrived at two, and had keys to the house. When she couldn't find him, she came here to see if the car was missing. That's when she found him," Mike said, as he dusted for fingerprints.

That explained why the rags were at an angle. When she had opened the door they had been pushed back. Jim squatted down to look at them closer.

"You got something?"

Jim shook his head. "Felicia Whittington still here?"

"Yeah, the uniforms have her inside. I think the Homicide detectives talked to her, before the mayor ordered Major Crime be involved."

"Thanks, Mike. I think I'm through in here. The M.E. can take him away when they show up."

"Sure thing, Detective."

They entered the house. It was a modest home, certainly not what one expected of a millionaire, but as Blair explained to Jim, Drake didn't particularly act like a millionaire. He'd done a couple of talks at Rainier University-- free of charge-- and had enjoyed eating lunch with the students at the cafeteria.

Felicia Whittington looked up as she sensed the arrival of new people. The driver's license in his wallet had dated Drake at thirty-three. His girlfriend appeared to be at least ten years younger.

"Ms. Whittington, I'm Det. Ellison, and this is my partner, Blair Sandburg. I know you've had quite a shock, and you're probably tired of answering questions, but if you bear with us for just a little longer, maybe we all can find the answers we're looking for," Jim said kindly, as he took the chair across from her. Blair perched on the arm of the chair, and together they looked very non-threatening.

"Do you think we can, Detective? Do you really think we can find the answers?" Felicia asked solemnly, and Jim realized she wasn't as young as she looked.

"We can try, Ms. Whittington," he answered honestly. She nodded, pleased he hadn't spouted out stupid reassurances. "What can you tell me about Mr. Drake's day?"

That startled her. Previously, she had been asked about her day-- as if she'd been involved with what had happened. "I spent the night here last night. I know Nemi was bothered by something, because I woke up about two and he was downstairs in the game room, sitting in the middle of the floor with his eyes closed. I asked him what was wrong, but he just brushed me off, and told me to go back to bed. He was just as taciturn later as we got ready to start the day. All I could get from him was that it had something to do with Dade."


"Dade Glover, his business partner. He's the one who convinced Nemi to develop the Datalock program."

"So, you think Mr. Drake and Mr. Glover were having problems?"

"Nemi and Dade go way back, and like all friends, they had spats. Dade was the type that liked to go for the big bucks, and Nemi believed in just being comfortable-- like this house. Anyway, Nemi's first love is-- was-- designing computer games. But the market grew so tight Dade wasn't getting the kind of profit he liked, so he talked Nemi into creating the security program. Nemi did it, and Dade was always on him to upgrade and create different versions for different markets."

Jim nodded and jotted down a few notes. "What about the rest of Mr. Drake's day?"

Felicia shrugged. "I left for work-- I teach basic computing at the community college-- and Nemi said he felt like staying home, which I took to mean he didn't feel like dealing with Dade."

"Was it odd that he wasn't going in?"

"Not really. Let me show you." She led the way to the basement, where six computers sat. "Telecommuting has never been a problem around here. In fact, Nemi said he did his best work here, complaining that there were too many distractions at the office. He was here so often, and would get so lost in his work, that he found it easier to give me a key to the house. Dade has one, too."

"Do you know if Mr. Drake left the house at all?"

"I know he was here until at least two. I came over after my noon class to have lunch with him. Dade was already here. Something obviously had gone down between them before my arrival. The tension in the air was thick, and Dade was still pissed when he left."

"And Mr. Drake?"

"Nemi was...sad, I think. That's the best description I can come up with." She paused and looked at Jim. "If I'd had any idea of just how sad, I wouldn't have left him alone."

Jim reached out and patted her hand. "Did you see him again, or had you planned on seeing him again during the evening hours?"

She shook her head. "Dade wasn't the only one who left here pissed. Nemi was really distracted, and while I had certain expectations of 'dessert'"-- she gave a shy grin-- "Nemi was mentally still arguing with Dade. When he mumbled something about the man while I was nibbling on his neck, I lost it, and told him if he was going to get anything tonight, he was going to have to ask his buddy Dade for it. Then, I stormed out."

"But you came back."

She sort of fixated on her hands. "I was watching one of those crappy romances on late night TV, and it hit me how much of a bitch I'd been, so I just came over. When I couldn't find him in the house, I went to check the garage to see if his car was there. If it was gone, I was going to stay and wait for him; Nemi liked to drive around when he was troubled. If it was there, I was going to go back home, because that meant he'd made up with Dade and they were out somewhere together."

"Did that bother you? That he might be with Dade?"

Felicia looked at him shrewdly. "I know where you're leading, Detective, and let me state for the record, that that's not a question I ever asked. If I thought he was cheating on me with Dade, yeah, I'd be pissed, but if it was something old, I didn't want to know about it. The reason I was going to go back home was because if they had gone downtown together, they would crash at Dade's place. He has one of those snazzy condos on Eighth and Central. If they got drunk, they could easily walk to his place. I've crashed there a time or two myself."

"When you let yourself in, did anything seem wrong to you?"

"No. Nothing was out of place. There were no bad vibes running around." She paused and looked at him. "You believe in bad vibes?"

Jim flicked a glance at Blair, then nodded. "Yes, Ms. Whittington, I do."

"Amazing," she murmured. "But no, nothing made me feel uneasy. Even when I saw the car, I didn't notice Nemi right away; the windows are lightly tinted. I started to pull the door closed, and maybe I was hit by a bad vibe then or something, because I turned on the light, and that's when I noticed the rags at the edge of the garage door. I took a step closer, noticed the silhouette in the car, and backed the hell out before calling 911."

"You didn't go check him?" Jim asked in surprise.

"I'm a fairly intelligent woman, Detective, who's maybe spent too much time in front of the television," she replied with a sad smile. "When something goes bump in the night, I don't go in search of it, if you know what I mean. I dial 911."

"That qualifies you as more than fairly intelligent," Jim said, gracing her with a smile. "Is there someone waiting at home for you, or somewhere you can go so that you aren't alone?"

"I called my mother and told her I'd be by when the cops were through with me."

"Let me get a uniform to escort you home, then."

"That's all right," Felicia said. "My car is parked outside."

Jim shook his head. "This night has been far too long, Ms. Whittington. For my peace of mind, would you let one of the officers take you to your mother's?"

Felicia flushed. "Of course, Detective. Let me you give you my mom's address and number, in case you need anything else. And, is it okay if I call Nemi's parents and tell them? No disrespect, but I don't think they need to hear this kind of news from a cop-- even one as nice as you."

"You can call them, and if they have any questions, tell them they can contact me personally." Jim handed her a couple of his business cards, then escorted her up the stairs and outside.

Blair grinned as the car drove off with Felicia in the back. "Man, that was some piece of work."

"What?" Jim asked innocently.

"She went from defensive to willing in half a second. I can't believe how much information you got from her."

"Most people want to help the police, Chief. It's just sometimes they get scared because of the situation, or because of the way an officer treats them."

"Why didn't you ask her the basic questions, like where was she, and how long they've been going out?" Blair asked, slipping into the passenger's seat of the green Ford F150.

"Homicide most likely got that information when they questioned her, and if they didn't, I can always get it later."

Blair nodded, still looking at Jim.

"What?" the detective asked in exasperation, as they pulled away from the curb.

"I just never thought of you as having a light touch, man. It looks good on you. Where to now?" the grad student asked.

"To see Dade Glover."

"That can't wait till later? It's four o'clock in the morning."

"His partner is dead, Chief. 'Later' is not going to change that."

Blair shivered as if someone had walked across his grave-- or Jim's.


"Who is it?" the voice yelled about thirty seconds after Jim's fist had made contact with the molded wood of the door.

"Cascade Police," Jim said, not really yelling, but loud enough to be heard inside. The door opened with the chain in place. Jim already had his badge at eye level.

The door closed, then opened. "What's happened? My brother, parents, who?" the man asked, confused and agitated.

"Dade Glover?" The man nodded. "Mr. Glover, I think it's best if you have a seat," Jim said kindly.

"Oh, God," Dade moaned. "Someone's dead. Who?" he asked, as he sort of backed into a seat, his knees folding as they made contact with a cushion.

"Nehemiah Drake."

The man dragged his fingers across his head, making his obviously bleached hair stand straight up. "No.... Not Nemi. How? Car accident? Robbery? Mugging? What?" he asked rapidly.

"Mr. Drake was found in his car in his garage."

"Heart attack? Nah, man. Nemi was too young for that." He stopped, then his eyes narrowed as he looked at the two late night visitors. "No, he didn't-- he couldn't have.... No, Nemi, man. There had to be a better way. I told him it would be okay. That I'd get everything worked out. Why didn't he trust me?" He threw his head back and yelled, "Why didn't you trust me, you bastard!"

Blair started to move forward, but Jim gave a small shake of his head, and Blair kept still. "Trust you to do what, Mr. Glover?"

"Trust me to get him out of the mess he was in," Dade murmured, then focused on the detective. "Guess you guys are going to find this out anyway. Washington D.C. wanted to use our product Datalock. In order to be eligible, we had to get a security rating, the company had to be audited, etc. The audit showed that Nemi had been, well, taking more than his share of the profits. Hell, I didn't even know Nemi could do the books, much less juggle them.... Anyway, I confronted him about it, and we fought for a couple of days, but he knew I wasn't going to do anything legal about it. The man's my best friend. I wouldn't let him go down for something like that. He had to know that." He took a shuddering breath. "Who found him?"

"Felicia Whittington."

"Oh, shit. That had to bite. I better call her. What about Nemi's parents? Somebody's gotta break it to them."

"Ms. Whittington indicated she was going to call."

"Good. She was practically a daughter-in-law anyway. A good woman. Maybe too good for Nemi, but--"

"Are you suggesting Mr. Drake had other problems than the financial one?"

Dade shrugged. "Nemi didn't want to let go of childhood. If I didn't push him, he'd spend whole days doing nothing but playing video and computer games. That's okay for a thirteen-year-old, but not for a grown man. I'm surprised Felicia put up with it so long. Maybe that's why--"

"That's why?" Jim prompted.

"Maybe that's why he took the money."

"You think Ms. Whittington had something to do with the embezzlement?"

"It's possible," Dade said softly. "But I'm just speculating, and as I said, I'm not planning on doing anything legally. I wouldn't want to mess with Nemi's...memory like that. I still can't believe he did it. They say dying like that is easy...I mean, no pain or nothing-- just like going to sleep."

"Is there anyone you'd like us to call for you, sir?" Jim asked solicitously.

Dade buried his face in his hands for a few seconds, then looked up. "I'm okay. I'm going to call my brother. He was a good friend of Nemi's, too."

Jim handed the man one of his cards, and pushed Blair out ahead of him. "This really sucks, man. Having to tell people that a person they care about is gone," Blair muttered as they entered the elevator.

"Better than letting them hear it on the morning news, Chief. The death of Nehemiah Drake is going to be big news around here. In fact," Jim said as they got out of the elevator," we're going to go out the back door because I just heard a news van pull up out front."

"You can tell a news van just from the way it sounds?"

"I can hear the raising of the giant antenna."


Jim sighed. "Yeah, cool, Chief. Listen, I'm going to drop you by the loft so you can get ready for class. Then, I'm going to head on down to the station."

Blair frowned. "Why? I mean, after what we just learned, we're pretty sure it's a duck, aren't we?"

"Yeah, but I want the mayor to know he's getting his money's worth out of Major Crime, so I'll just look into it a little more."

"Are you sure that's it, Jim?" Blair asked, sensing a determination in his friend's voice that often preceded a headlong dive into the deep end of a case. "Or is something still bothering you? At the garage you said something wasn't right."

Jim shrugged, and unlocked the truck. "Something still isn't, Chief. Whatever it is, hasn't come to me yet, but it will."

Blair nodded and slid in, knowing Jim would worry the inconsistency until he came up with its name. Then he would solve the case. Duck or no duck.


"Sandburg, in my office now!"

The yell came as Blair stepped into the Major Crime bullpen, and he quickly changed directions from heading to Jim's empty desk to the captain's office. "What's up, Simon?" he asked, slinging his backpack into a chair.

"That's Captain!"

Oops. Blair quickly reviewed the past week and found nothing that he'd done that could account for Simon's mood. That meant Jim had done something...which was just as bad as having done something himself. He likened the whole thing to being in a pet/pet owner type of relationship-- at least that's how the captain seemed to take it. Ever since Simon had been informed that Jim was a Sentinel and Blair was his Guide, if Jim did something weird, it was Blair who was called on the carpet. Pets were never the responsible ones; the owners were. "What did Jim do now?" he sighed.

"He refuses to sign off on the Drake suicide."

"He warned you that something didn't seem right to him this morning," Blair said carefully.

"You want to know what that something was, Sandburg? It was a thread, a freaking piece of thread!"

"Something from the potential killer's wardrobe?" Blair hazarded.

"No. A thread in a pile of rags."


Simon shook his head. "I don't know what's gotten into him. Rags have threads, Sandburg. Dangling ones, stray ones, multicolored ones.... Talk some sense into your partner. The mayor is on my ass to get this cleared up. I want a final report on my desk by 5:00."

Blair started to ask if the captain had any idea where "Rover" was at the moment, but figured he'd be better off asking someone else. He left the office, asked about Jim's whereabouts, and was directed to one of the conference rooms. Still puzzled about Jim's obsession with a piece of thread, he reached for the door, stumbling when it was opened from the inside.

"Glad you're here," Jim said, shoving him into the room, while he stepped out. "Watch this."

Before Blair could mutter a "Hi, Jim", he was in the room by himself, watching...what? He opened his mouth to ask for an explanation, but noticed movement at his feet. A narrow pile of rags was being dragged across the floor to abut the door, and he flashed onto the garage scene.

"You see?" Jim said, as he reentered and stared at the rags. "By using a single thread, carefully entangled in the scrap fabric, I managed to create the illusion that no one had used this door."

"Right," Blair said slowly, then grinned when he realized what Jim was saying. Nehemiah Drake hadn't stuffed the edges of the door himself. The whole thing had been staged by someone else-- using a carefully manipulated piece of thread. "Who?"

Jim shrugged. "I'm still waiting on forensics evidence, but I'd probably take Felicia Whittington out of the running. Why go to so much trouble to put the rags into place, if you're the one who's going to move them?"

Blair nodded in agreement, then approached the real problem. "Have you explained any of this to Simon?"

"He wasn't in the mood to listen. I'll talk to him again when I have proof, or need a warrant-- whichever comes first," he said with a satisfied grin. "Think I'll go downstairs and see what's taking Carolyn's team so long. Maybe I can help things along."

"Uh," Blair said quickly, knowing without a doubt that Jim's ex-wife would blow a gasket if he interfered in the slightest. "Why don't you sketch it all out to me first? Then, maybe we'll know what type of evidence we're looking for. First, tell me what it was about the thread that caught your attention."

"It was too clean. The BMW leaked oil. Footsteps had tracked the stuff all over the garage floor. I have it on the soles of my shoes and so do you. The rags in the lab have it, but this thread didn't. That's what struck me as wrong this morning."

"How did you figure it out? Did they let you examine the rags?"

"No," Jim mumbled. "Imeditatedlikeyoutaughtme."

Maybe he was a bad puppy. "In English this time, Jim," Blair said with a longsuffering sigh.

"I meditated like you taught me. I sat down, closed my eyes, and examined the memory. And the thread just stood out."

Blair grinned and thumped Jim on the back. "I'm so proud of you, man! You actually used your Sentinel gifts without me having to bully you."

"But it really wasn't my Sentinel gifts, Chief. I didn't use my enhanced sight to examine the rags and find the string. I would have noticed it was too clean anyway," Jim said, still not too comfortable with, as Sandburg called it, "his genetic advantages."

"But your ability to replay the scene in your mind is part of your Sentinel heritage," Blair argued.

Before he could continue, someone knocked at the door. "Ellison, you're needed in the bullpen," an officer informed them.

Felicia Whittington and an older couple waited at his desk, along with Simon. "Ms. Whittington?"

"Det. Ellison, this is Mr. and Mrs. Drake, Nemi's parents. They're having trouble with this, and since you were so kind this morning, I thought--"

"Of course. Mr. and Mrs. Drake, I'm sorry about your loss. Let me see if I can find a room where we can talk in private--"

"Use my office, Detective," Simon offered. He declined to go with them, and held Blair back as well. "So, what's going on?"

"It's a murder," Blair said simply.

"It's a murder," Simon repeated slowly. "Because of the thread?"

"Because of the thread."

"Any suspects?"

"He wouldn't say, but I think he has some idea. He's just waiting on forensics to back him up."

"And I don't know any of this because I wouldn't listen earlier."

"That's about it, Si-- Captain." The phone rang and Blair answered. "You have reached the desk of Det. Jim Ellison.... He's not here, but I can--"

"Who is it?" Simon asked.

"Coroner's Office."

"Transfer it to Jim in my office."

Ten minutes later, Jim escorted the visitors out, grabbed a folder from a passing officer, had a brief conversation with Simon, then tossed Blair's jacket to its owner. "Let's roll, Chief."

"To where?"

"Datalock headquarters. Simon is getting us a warrant to find out exactly what the auditors discovered."

"You think Dade Glover is the killer?"

"Did you notice he didn't ask how Drake died? I said he was found in his car in the garage. That could have meant anything from taking a gun and blowing his head off, slitting his wrists, or taking a bottle of pills. It could have also easily meant that Drake had been killed there. Yet, Glover assumed it was suicide, and was the one who commented that he died without pain."

"Not enough to pin a murder rap on him."

"Nope. But the coroner found traces of flunitrazepam, aka Rohypnol, in Drake's system, and forensics discovered three sets of prints in the garage-- Drake's, Whittington's, and Glover's. It's enough for a warrant, Chief."

Blair shrugged into his jacket, and followed Jim into the elevator.


Jim sat across from Dade Glover and his attorney in the interrogation room, and mentally ordered the questions he needed to ask. Why had he lied about the results of the audit? It showed the embezzlement came from the end of things that Glover managed. That had certainly cinched the arrest warrant. Why kill Drake? Had he threatened to expose him, cut him out of the company perhaps? Why set it up as a suicide?

"Detective, if you have questions for my client, I suggest you get on with them. My client does not have a lot of time to waste," the lawyer said impatiently, and Jim wondered if she wasn't the one who didn't have the time to waste.

Jim opened his mouth to ask Glover the standard first question-- where were you at the time of your partner's death. Instead, what came out was, "How the hell could you kill your best friend?"

On the other side of the two-way mirror, Blair gasped. He could feel the emotion in that question, and knew that Jim was not asking as a cop, but as a man who had a best friend.

"Detective Ellison," the attorney started to berate, but was stopped by her client's raised hand.

"It's a question I've been asking myself for the past twelve hours," Glover replied, with a wry smile. "The actual deed was quite easy. It's all in the planning," he said, leaning forward as if he was engaging Jim in private conversation. "If you put in enough details, and focus on each one as a separate entity, you sort of lose sight of the endpoint. It really was a nice scheme. What gave it away?"

"The thread."

"Really? Nemi often said I was too brilliant for my own good. I went to a lot of trouble trying to make sure you guys would think Nemi sealed himself up in that room. I was going to do the pipe thing, you know where you arrange for the exhaust to go directly into the car. But anybody who knew Nemi would know the man had trouble tearing duct tape, much less build anything that could convey carbon monoxide into the car. I played with how the rags should be arranged and where to attach the string for days."

"So, you had been planning the murder for a while?"

"Mr. Glover, please--" the attorney tried.

"Can't you see that I'm talking!" Glover yelled, then turned back to Jim. "It had been in the back of my head for about two weeks. Nemi was being such a jerk about the embezzlement-- which it wasn't, by the way. I deserved every nickel I took. Fifty/fifty, my ass. Nemi created one stupid program and then went back to playing his silly games. Sometimes, I think I should have killed him earlier, maybe when he was in his teens. He probably would have liked that-- would have died with a Sega gamepad in his hands."

"Did he voluntarily take the Rohypnol, or did you slip him a mickey?"

"Volunteered. I told him that I was planning to come clean and that I just wanted one more night of me and him being the buddies we had always been. I scored the roofies," he said cockily, giving the street name for Rohypnol, "went over to Nemi's, and we did shooters in the game room. He's really pliant under that shit. I led him to the car and told him to stay. He said okay and barely moved as I arranged everything the way I wanted it. He smiled at me when I leaned over to start the car. Told me he'd follow me to the ends of the earth. Guess he did, huh?" Glover closed his eyes and threw his head back. "I'm a horrible person, aren't I?"

"Yes, Mr. Glover, you are," Jim replied without hesitation.


"Well, you got your report by 5:00," Blair said, standing to stretch. "Just wasn't the report you expected."

"No, it wasn't. I'm ashamed to admit it, but if Jim had backed off when I told him to, this would have gone down as a simple suicide, and Glover would have been left with one hundred percent of a multi-million dollar business," Simon said, flexing his hand, which was stiffening from signing his name all day.

"Good thing he didn't listen to you."

"Not something I suggest that either you or he do on a regular basis, Sandburg," the captain warned.

"I hear you, Si-- Captain Banks, sir!" He gave an approximation of a salute.

"Good thing you weren't in the military, Chief," Jim said, walking into the bullpen. "That little gesture would have had you dropping to give Simon fifty."

"Fifty push-ups? No way, man. I leave that to muscle-heads like you."

"That's not the only place I have muscles, Chief," Jim lightly threatened. "So, you joining us for dinner, Simon?"

"If you don't have any objections?"

Jim looked puzzled. "Why should I?"

"I put satisfying the mayor ahead of getting the truth today."

Jim shrugged. "You wanted the case solved. You're the captain. That's your job. I solved it. End of story. But, since I did solve it, I get to choose the restaurant. I was thinking about If It Moos, We Serve It."

"That's that new steakhouse out on the bypass, right?" Simon questioned happily.

"Guys, do you know what your arteries are going to look like if we go there?" Blair asked, then realized the two bigger men were already halfway to the elevator. "Hey, guys!" he called, and jogged to catch up with them. "What am I supposed to eat?"

Jim looked at Simon and grinned. "Don't worry, Short Stuff. They have a kiddie menu."

"A kiddie--"

Laughter and feigned outrage could still be heard after the elevator doors closed.


Blair looked at the man standing silently on the balcony, not even wearing a sweater despite the coolness of the night. "What is it, man?" he asked, shrugging into a jacket and joining him. "You should be swinging from the rafters, not brooding in the dark. Dade Glover is going to go down, or at least he's going to spend some serious time in a mental ward."

"You think he's insane, Chief?" Jim asked, his gaze not leaving the view he'd grown to love.

"All that talk about focusing on the details instead of noticing he was killing his best friend. Yep. That puts him in the insane category for me," Blair said flatly.

"Interesting," Jim murmured, then turned to go back into the loft. "That was the only part of his story that I truly understood."

It was another minute before Blair followed his complex, complicated roommate into their home. His life had taken some wonderful, but strange, twists since moving in with a real-life Sentinel. Each morning he awoke with the anticipation of learning more and more about the man who called him partner. Each night he went to bed to fall asleep contemplating what he had learned.

He couldn't think of a better life.


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