Evolution Of Friendship - Part Twelve




EMAIL: Annie

Jim brushed a fingertip over the face smiling up at him from the photo album he held on his lap.

Jack Pendergrast had been a contradiction in an expensive suit. Streetsmart and classy at the same time. Vain enough about his appearance that he wore socks all the time to hide his missing toe, yet a man who loved getting covered in grease when he and Jim worked on their cars on their days off. Confident enough to front up at Emily’s door with all his belongings, even after she’d told him it was over between them, yet unwilling to let her see how much her rejection had hurt him.

Jim flipped the page. In this photo, he and Jack stood with their arms around each other’s shoulders, on the banks of a stream. Jim laughed to himself as he remembered that weekend. Jack had insisted on going camping with him, saying it’d be a good way for the two of them to get to know each other better. From the moment they arrived at the campsite, Jack had bitched and moaned about anything and everything – the weather was too cold, the ground too hard for sleeping on, the bushes no place for a civilized guy to take a bathroom break. The only thing that had put that broad grin back on his face had been catching his one and only fish. He waxed poetic about how big it was and how good it was going to taste and then refused to clean and gut it. In the end Jim had done it for him. Jack had always had that way of getting what he wanted in the end.

Another photo – Simon’s birthday. Jim and Simon hadn’t known each other that well then and Jim was pretty sure Simon had already decided they’d never get along. The distance between them was palpable in the photo. Where Jim and Simon sat stiffly side by side at the table though, Jack slouched against the captain, one hand raised behind Simon’s head, making rabbit’s ears.

Now that he thought about it, it had been just after Jack disappeared that Simon had begun warming up to him. He wasn’t sure if that was because Simon thought he needed someone on his side with Jack gone, or whether Jack’s influence had rubbed off on Jim enough that Banks was finally able to see past Jim’s tough guy persona to find the man Jack had seen.

Jim still felt guilty over what happened between him and Emily, though he was closer to forgiving himself. Jack would have been the first to admit that sometimes shit just happened and if you couldn’t go back and change it, you just had to deal. At least, Jack’s killers were behind bars and that went a little way to salving his conscience over that fateful night. It helped too that he knew he’d always believed that Jack wasn’t dirty, had always known it for a fact over the long four years that Jack was missing.

He looked up as he heard the elevator bump to a halt down the hall. Footsteps headed toward the front door and a minute later it opened.

"Hey, Jim," Blair greeted him.

"Hi, Chief. How was school?" Jim watched as Blair dumped his backpack on the floor beneath the coat hooks and shrugged out of his jacket and hung it up.

"Okay," Blair replied, "but I tell you if I have to listen to one more football player whining about his gradepoint average…" He left the rest of the sentence unspoken but made a slicing motion across his neck.

Jim grinned. "Just don’t expect me to help you hide the body."

He put the album on the coffee table then stood up, stretching out the kinks in his back. "It’s my turn to cook," he said. "What do you feel like having?"

"I guess a five course meal at Maxim’s is out of the question?" Blair asked, his tone hopeful.

"You paying?" Jim rejoined. He laughed as Blair mimed pulling out his wallet and made a show of flapping it at him to show how empty it was.

"Thought not. Tell you what, how about we compromise? Takeout Chinese, and I’ll pay. I can’t be bothered cooking anyway."

"That would be great, man. Thanks." Blair flopped down in Jim’s place on the couch as Jim went to the drawer in the kitchen where they kept the takeout menus and pulled out one for the Chinese restaurant they favored. "Hey, what’s this? A photo album? You been holding out on me, Jim? I didn’t know you had any photo albums around the place. Let’s see what blackmail material I can come up with."

Jim watched as Blair opened the first page.

"Oh, Jim, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was pictures of Jack…" He began to close the book.

"It’s okay, Chief. You can look at it. I’d forgotten I had it, to tell the truth." Jim walked across to the phone and called in their order as Blair continued flipping slowly through the album. "I did think about offering it to Emily," he continued as he moved across the room and sat next to Blair on the couch, looking over his shoulder.

"Changed your mind, huh?" Blair asked.

Jim nodded. "Yeah, you know, like she said she’s got a new life now, a husband who doesn’t know anything about Jack or me, and a baby. She’s settled. I don’t want to dredge up painful memories for her."

"Yeah, it’d probably be best to just hang onto it yourself. Oh man, look at you and Simon." Blair laughed. "Talk about a pair of stiffs. And, hey, is that an earring I see in your ear, Oh Great Uptight One?"

"It’s a stud," Jim replied mock-defensively. "I’d just moved into Major Crime from Vice." He shook his head. "Believe me, Jack took over my wardrobe once we became partners. Said he was worried about perps getting the wrong idea about us."

Blair closed the book and put it back on the table. He turned and leaned back against the arm of the couch, facing Jim. "He was a good guy, huh?" he said quietly.

"One of the best," Jim replied. "Jack had his faults, like Simon said, but he was a good cop and a good partner."

"I hope we can become as good friends and partners as you and Jack were," Blair added.

Jim stood up and walked to the bookcase and took down one of the photos that adorned the top shelf. Going back to the couch, he handed it to Blair.

Blair looked at it for a moment then up at Jim, a smile lighting his face.

The photo was of Jim and Simon with a wet and bedraggled Sandburg between them. Simon was holding a large fish in one hand. They were all grinning like fools. Simon had set his camera up on a rock and used the auto timer to take the shot.

"Remember that first weekend we went fishing with Simon and you fell off the rock and got soaked?" Jim asked him.

"Oh yeah! Simon was so pissed off about me scaring away the fish and while you guys were hauling me out of the water, a fish hooked his line. It was huge! Man, he smiled from ear to ear that day."

"Yeah, he did that." Jim grinned at the memory. "You know what I’m trying to say here, Chief?"

Blair traced a finger over the faces in the photo and nodded. "Yeah, I understand, Jim. Thanks."

Jim reached down and ruffled his partner’s hair. "Thank you. You’re a good friend, Blair and a good partner." He clapped his hands together. "Well, I organized dinner, Sandburg. How about you get the beer?"

The End.