Originally posted on SA April, 2004.

 

This is my story for the April Themefic request. There are a fewthings I need to point out about this story.

1) I know absolutely nothing (and I mean nothing) about policeinvestigations against police officers and charges against policeofficers. I did some research and I've hopefully written at least ahalfway believable and entertaining story.

2) In this story, Blair is a full-time civilian special consultant toMajor Crimes partnered with Jim. But things are on the verge and dochange during the story because of something Blair has neglected tomention to anyone.

3) The Jim Ellison and Blair Sandburg in this story are somewhatdifferent than what is usually seen. Especially Jim. Jim is notportrayed real favorable in this story. Sorry to all the Jimbabesout there.

I tried not to overdo the smarm and make-up.

Feel free to send feedback

Regrets

By Debbie Tripp

RATING: PG (some violence, some bad words)

SUMMARY: Jim commits a snap decision that changes everything

All mistakes are mine

Feedback encouraged

 

It had started the day before. Simon Banks had called the meeting for 2:00 PM. Jim Ellison had neglected to inform Blair Sandburg about the meeting. When Simon asked Jim where Blair was, Jim informed Simon that Blair couldn't make it because he was preparing

his testimony for the Crenshaw case. Jim assured Simon that he would bring Blair up to speed.

Blair was surprised when he got back to the bullpen and hardly anyone was there. He turned to Rhonda. "Where is everyone?"

"Big meeting in the conference room."

Blair didn't worry about it and sat down at his desk to wait. He worked on his and Jim's ever-present backlog of reports. Jim would tell him about the meeting. Everyone came back to the bullpen about an hour later. Jim noticed Blair was deep in the reports. But he looked up when Jim sat down. "What did I miss?"

"Nothing. It was detective stuff. Nothing that concerns you."

From the tone of Jim's voice, Blair could tell that was all Jim was going to say about it. "Oh. Okay."

At around 4:00, Blair had to go talk to Simon about an aspect of a case. He knocked on the captain's door and heard Simon say enter. Blair walked in and stated his problem. Simon answered Blair's question then asked Blair if Jim had filled him in on the Delaney raid.

"Delaney raid? He didn't say anything about it. Is that what the big meeting was all about?"

"Yes. By the way, where were you? Jim said you were getting your testimony ready for the Crenshaw case."

"I've had that ready for over a week. Jim sent me down to Records to get some files. By the time I got down there, I found out Jim had the files sent up. Captain? If I didn't know better, I'd think Jim was trying to exclude me from the Delaney raid. When is it taking place?"

"Tomorrow morning. Jim volunteered to take the point. He assured me that you'd be there with him. Do you want me to speak to him?"

"No, captain. I'll talk to him. He's my partner. For some reason, he's trying to exclude me. I'll find out why."

"Just be easy with him, Sandburg. This is all new to him. Having you here full-time."

"It's been over six months. He should be used to it by now."

Blair went back out to his desk and sat down. He didn't look over at Jim. He wouldn't confront Jim here in the bullpen. He finished up the report he was doing, read it over, signed it and put it in Jim's inbox. He shut down his computer, stood up and put his coat on. "I'm going to head out, man. We need some bread and milk and a few other things. Since I only took a half hour lunch, I have the extra time. I'll defrost some soup for dinner."

Jim looked up from the report he was reading. "Sounds good, Chief. I'll try not to be late."

Blair shook his head and left the bullpen. He said goodnight to the detectives and other personnel. Blair drove to the store near the loft. Along the way, his anger towards Jim Ellison grew. Jim had expressed his worry that if Blair became a full-fledged policeman then he would change too much from the caring, compassionate person he was. Blair hadn't thought that at all. He thought that by becoming a policeman, he'd be able to be a true back up for his partner. Jim still wanted Blair by his side as his partner. There was a compromise made that Blair would take enough training to become a special consultant to Major Crimes. He would be able to be Jim Ellison's partner. Blair attended the academy and took the full course. He was trained to be a policeman but was offered the title of Special Consultant, with less pay. Jim was happy and Blair endured it, because it made Jim happy.

But since becoming official, Jim had started dictating how much Blair was able to do. Jim did it because he was the senior detective in the department. Blair was kept out of any potentially dangerous situations time and time again. And Blair had taken just about all he was going to take. He had more freedom when he had been Jim's ride-along. Blair felt it was time to tell Jim that he was a fully qualified police officer and that he was going to ask Simon and the chief of police to change his status as soon as possible. And he'd inform Jim that he would participate in the Delaney raid tomorrow.

He knew Jim wouldn't be pleased. But he'd get over it. Blair made it home and carried the bag of groceries up to the loft. He unlocked the door, walked in, juggled the bag and closed the door. He put the groceries down on the table and went to get the soup out of the freezer. He put the groceries away and then got out a pan to start warming up the soup. As soon as the soup was on, Blair walked over to the stereo and put on some calming music. At least there would be calm until Jim came home and Blair confronted him.

It was about a half an hour later when Jim came in. The CD was still playing and Blair was stirring the soup. He didn't look up when Jim walked in.

"Smells good, Chief. I didn't know that we had any of that cheese soup left over."

"Not very observant for a top-notch, hot-shot detective."

Blair had muttered the sentence under his breath. But he knew that Jim could hear him. And Jim had.

"Are you having a problem, Sandburg?"

"Me? No. Everything's peachy-keen. So, Jim. Can I ask you a question?"

"What do you want to know, Chief?"

"Were you even going to mention the Delaney raid?"

Blair looked up and saw an expression of guilt cross Jim's face.

"How did you find out?"

"Simon told me. Why didn't you tell me?"

"I don't need you there. It's no big deal."

"Simon told me that you told him that I'd be there."

"It's no big deal, Sandburg."

"No big deal? Dammit, Jim!! I'm tired of all this!! I was more involved with cases when I was an observer ride-along!!"

"Quit being over dramatic, Sandburg!! I've explained this all before. Since you are a civilian consultant, you don't get involved in dangerous situations."

"You just said it was no big deal. You can't have it both ways, Ellison!!"

"I am the senior detective in this partnership. In fact, I'm the only detective in this partnership!! And, as such, I dictate how things go."

Jim's tone left no doubt that he thought the matter was over, just because he had spoken. But Blair had other ideas and he knew that he had to forge forward and tell Jim everything.

"I have something to tell you, Jim."

"And what would that be, Chief?"

"I went through the entire course load at the academy. I am qualified to be a full-fledged police officer. I became a consultant because that's what you wanted. I don't know why I didn't stand up for myself. But there are going to be changes, Jim. I'm going to talk to Simon and the chief of police to get my status upgraded to detective. And I will be going with you on the Delaney raid. It is a big deal, Jim. And you need to realize that, whether or not I am a police officer, a civilian consultant, or a ride-along. I am your partner. And partners watch each other's backs and are there for each other. I thought you realized that. Unless you don't want me to be your partner?"

"No. I want you as my partner. I don't know what to say, Chief. It's just so much to accept. Why didn't you tell me about the academy?"

"Because you made it perfectly clear that you didn't want me as a cop. You thought I would change too much. I haven't changed, Jim."

"Sure you have. All of us change, Sandburg. And I don't need you there tomorrow. Is dinner ready?"

Blair realized that Jim wasn't going to let go of trying to keep Blair away from the Delaney raid.

"Sure, Jim. We can eat."

Blair put bowls and spoons on the table and brought the soup over. There was silence as they ate. They cleaned up afterwards in silence also. Jim washing, Blair drying. When they were finished, Blair went to his bedroom. He closed the doors behind him. He was surprised that Jim didn't come in behind him to continue his insistence that Blair stay away from the Delaney raid. Blair sat down on his bed. Tomorrow, after the raid, he'd talk to Simon and show him the proof that he had passed all classes at the academy. He should have done that from the beginning.

Jim stood by the balcony windows, looking out on Cascade at night. He had to figure out how to keep Blair away from the Delaney raid. Charles Delaney had been running weapons in and out of Cascade and the surrounding area for just over a year. It was reported that he had shot and killed two of his rivals. Delaney would have his associates with him and would probably not give up without a fight.

And a possible shoot out. Jim couldn't concentrate on taking down Delaney and worrying about Blair at the same time.Jim grabbed the phone and called Simon Banks at home.

"Banks!"

"Captain? It's Jim."

"What's wrong, Jim? And why are you calling me at 8:00 PM?"

"Nothing's wrong, Simon. I was just wondering if you had something you could give Sandburg to do to occupy him in the morning?"

"I understood that Sandburg was going to be with you on the Delaney raid? Has something changed?"

"Yeah. I'm rethinking this whole partnership thing."

"Jim? How is this different from the way things were before?"

"I can't explain it, Simon. He's a civilian consultant. He shouldn't be out in dangerous situations. As captain, you can dictate how much involvement he has in cases."

"I'm not going to stifle one of my men, not matter what his status. Jim, I think you worry too much. Sandburg can take care of himself. He's proven himself over the years. And now he has additional training to make better decisions. Just give him some slack, Jim. He's a full-time consultant and your partner. Do you want to change that status?"

"I'm not sure."

"How about we three discuss this tomorrow in my office?"

"Sounds good to me. We'll be there tomorrow."

In the morning, Blair fixed breakfast for them both.

"So? Where is the raid taking place?"

Jim decided to play along with Blair. Not to arouse suspicion.

"We got an anonymous tip that Delaney and his gang were dealing from an abandoned factory on Kennedy. They have been set up there for over a week. Surveillance has been in place for three days. We have the evidence needed to make the charges stick."

"When do we need to be in place?"

"We're meeting at 8:00 AM two blocks from the factory location. We move in 30 minutes later."

"Well, I'll be ready in five minutes. I promise I won't get hurt."

Blair went into the bathroom. He was pleased to see that Jim apparently had rethought the idea of Blair accompanying him to the raid.

Jim waited outside the bathroom door. He was grateful that Blair didn't have Sentinel hearing. Or else he would have heard Jim's heartbeat pounding in his chest. Jim couldn't allow Blair to go to the Delaney raid.

Blair opened the door to the bathroom. He saw Jim standing there.

There was a look on Jim's face that Blair couldn't read.

"Jim? What's...?"

Before Blair could finish the sentence, Jim lashed out at Blair. Jim's fist connected with the left side of Blair's face, knocking him out cold. Blair crumpled to the floor. Jim bent down and picked Blair up off the floor. He carried Blair into his bedroom and placed him in his bed. Jim pulled off Blair's shoes and placed them by the bed. Then Jim got out his handcuffs, placing one end around Blair's right wrist and the other end around the frame of his bed.

Jim looked at Blair's face. It was already starting to swell from the blow. Jim pushed back a few stray strands of hair.

"I'm sorry, Chief. But I can't see you hurt anymore. Now, you'll leave and be safe. I don't expect to be forgiven."

Jim draped the blanket over Blair and left the loft.

Simon was surprised when Jim showed up by himself to the meeting.

"Where's Sandburg?"

"He sends his regrets, Simon. He wasn't feeling good this morning. He had a fever. I told him it would be best if he just stay home and I'd explain it to you."

Simon wasn't sure about Jim's explanation after last night's conversation with Jim. But he had no tangible reason to doubt his detective.

The team moved in a short time later after everyone got last minute instructions. At first, all went as planned. But then someone tripped a hidden wire hooked up to a series of explosions. The raid fell apart and Delaney and his group got away. Reinforcements, medical personnel, ambulances and investigators were called in to help. It had been a shock to everyone there.

Simon was able to get to his feet. He was dazed and stunned by what had happened. He started to check on the others as the additional personnel arrived to help. Simon noticed that most everyone was injured to some degree. He began to wonder why Jim hadn't been able to detect the bombs. That's when he spotted Jim several feet away, face down on the pavement, unmoving. A paramedic crew had just reached his side. A few minutes later, Joel Taggart came up to Simon and got him to sit down. Other than some cuts that had already been treated, it looked like Joel was relatively unhurt.

"Joel? Are you okay?"

"Some cuts and I got hit by some debris. But the paramedics told me I'm good to go."

"I need you to do something for me?"

"What, Simon?"

"I need you to go to the loft and tell Blair what happened. Jim told me that Blair wasn't feeling good. And it appears Jim is hurt. Blair will want to know."

Simon got out his key to the loft.

"Here's the key. If Blair is really sick, he may not answer the door. You have to bring him to the hospital. He'll be worried about Jim."

Joel took the keys.

"I'll go, Simon. You relax and we'll see you at the hospital."

The medical personnel were starting to treat the more injured when Joel left.

Joel made it to the loft about 20 minutes later. He walked to the door and knocked. There was no answer. He knocked again. He heard sounds from inside the loft and what sounded like a shout from Blair. Joel got out the key Simon had given him and unlocked the door. He walked inside and didn't immediately spot Blair.

"Blair? It's Joel. Where are you?"

"Bed-room." Blair sounded off somehow. Joel walked to Blair's bedroom and was shocked by the scene there. The left side of Blair's face was bruised and swollen. And Blair was attached to the bed by a pair of handcuffs.

"Who did this, Blair?" Joel had a suspicion about who was responsible, but didn't want to believe it.

"Jim-m."

"Why would Jim do this? No, don't answer that, Blair. I'll get you a compress for your face."

"Fro-zen vegetables."

"I'll be right back and get you out of those handcuffs. Then I'll take you to the hospital to have your face looked at."

Joel left the bedroom and went to the kitchen. He opened the freezer and got out a bag of frozen peas. He brought it back to the bedroom and placed the bag on the left side of Blair's face. There was a sharp intake of breath from Blair at the shock of the cold. But Blair adjusted the bag a little with his left hand.

"Why - did - you - come, Joel?"

Joel paused in releasing the handcuffs.

"The Delaney raid went sour. There were bombs hidden that went off."

"Bad?"

"Bad enough. But don't worry about it, Blair. I'll get you looked at."

Joel got the handcuffs off and helped Blair to his feet. Blair stopped off in the bathroom. After he finished his business, Blair looked in the mirror there. His left eye was almost swollen shut and it seemed to be throbbing. And his wrist was chafed. He replaced the bag of peas over the left side of his face.Blair remembered that he had tried to pull his wrist out of the cuff. But Jim had made it too tight. Probably intentionally. Blair had cursed Jim Ellison in every language he knew after he had come to and found out what Jim had done.

Joel touching him on the arm brought Blair out of his thoughts.

"We should get going, Blair."

"Yeah." Blair swayed somewhat and Joel put a steadying hand on his back.

"You okay, Blair?"

"Just - diz-zy."

"I'm right here with you, Blair."

Joel helped Blair out of the loft and made sure the door was locked behind them. He suggested that they take the elevator down to the lobby. Blair agreed to it. As the elevator descended, Joel could tell Blair was in pain. And Joel's anger towards Jim Ellison increased. There was no excuse for what he had done. Once they reached the hospital, Joel would track down Ellison and arrest him himself. Joel helped Blair into the car and then drove them to the hospital. He looked over at Blair.

"We'll be at the hospital shortly."

"Was - Jim - hurt?"

"I'm not sure. Simon wanted me to get you. To let you know that there had been problems with the operation. We'll have you looked over at the hospital and then if you're up to it, I'll take your formal statement."

"You can - do that?"

"I'm going to stay with you, Blair. I have to tell you, Blair, Jim really overstepped the boundaries here."

"Will Internal Affairs be involved?"

"I'm not sure. I'm going to have to let Simon know."

Blair didn't say anything else on the ride to the hospital. Joel helped him into the emergency entrance. Joel explained to one of the nurses what had happened to Blair. The nurse told Joel that it might be a while until Blair could be looked at because they were busy.

Joel went over to sit with Blair.

"It might be some time before they'll be able to look at you. Will you be okay by yourself? I thought I'd check up on Simon and the others."

"I'll be fine, Joel. I hope everyone's okay."

"Just relax, Blair. And keep the frozen peas on the swelling. They'll be with you shortly."

Joel patted Blair on the shoulder as he got up. Blair watched as Joel went over to the nursing staff.

Blair thought about what Joel had told him. The raid had gone bust and officers had been hurt. Major Crimes detectives. Had Blair been with Jim, he might have been hurt also. But, he had been hurt. By Jim. Blair started to worry that the whole incident would be turned over to Internal Affairs. And Blair already knew how bad things looked.

Joel walked into examination room six. He had found out Simon had been treated and was being released with a couple broken ribs and bumps, cuts and bruises. Joel knew that he had to tell Simon about Blair. Joel looked at Simon as he walked in. There was a bandage on Simon's cheek and a bandage on his hand.

"Joel!! It's good to see you!! Did you bring Sandburg with you? I heard that they took Jim up to surgery."

"Simon? There's a situation that you need to know about. I had to unlock the door when I got to the loft. When I walked in, I didn't immediately spot Blair. I yelled out and he told me he was in the bedroom. When I walked into his bedroom, the sight took me aback. Blair was in the bed. Most of the left side of his face was swollen and he was handcuffed to the bed. Around his wrist, attached to the frame of the bed. When I asked him who did it, he said Jim."

"Jim? Where's Sandburg now?"

"He's waiting to be treated. There's a backup in the ER. But I explained that I needed to have pictures taken before treatment as evidence. And I told Blair I'd take his statement. Simon, I'm going to have to contact Internal Affairs. There's no excuse for this."

"Damn! And it may have been premeditated."

"What do you mean, Simon?"

"Let me get discharged and I'll explain it to you."

Joel helped Simon and went to get the doctor to release Simon. Together, they went back out and noticed Blair was still waiting for treatment. Joel and Simon sat down on either side of Blair. Blair looked over at Simon.

"You okay, sir?"

"I'll be fine, Sandburg. There wasn't anything serious. I'm sorry about this."

"Jim's fault."

At that time, the nurse called for Blair. He got to his feet and followed the nurse to the treatment room. Joel got up also.

"I'll make sure I get the pictures."

"Stay with Blair, Joel. I'm going to check again on the others. Including Jim."

Blair sat on the examination bed and endured the pictures being taken. Joel walked into the room.

"I'll have to have those pictures for our investigation."

Blair looked up at Joel at that time. He nodded, realizing the situation."

"I'll be waiting outside after your examination."

Blair was taken for precautionary X-Rays and was relieved to find out there were no broken bones. There was a small cut near his eye that had only required a bandage. He had been given another compress to help with the swelling. The bag of peas was put aside. He had been given a pain shot after it had been determined that he didn't have a concussion. He was given a prescription for pain medication. By the time he was brought back down to Emergency, the pain had lessened somewhat. Joel was waiting for him to come back. The doctor gave Blair instructions before releasing him.

"Continue to keep cold compresses on the area to help with the swelling. I don't think you'll have any problems. But if you do, don't hesitate to come back in."

"Thank you, doctor."

The doctor left the examination room. Leaving Joel and Blair alone. Blair discarded the hospital compress and picked up the discarded bag of peas. He looked at Joel.

"You want my statement now?"

"Not here. Simon said that Jim had to be taken up to surgery. He had a broken rib that had punctured his left lung. He'll be in the hospital for several days. I can take you back to the loft, if you want to go back?"

"Yeah. I can. For a while. I won't be able to stay there."

"We can talk there."

Joel and Blair left the hospital. Simon had explained to Joel about Blair being left in the dark about the Delaney raid and how Jim had called Simon, trying to get him to assign Blair something with no danger. It had been a premeditated attack. And Jim had definitely gone too far.

Joel unlocked the door to the loft when they got back. Blair put the bag of peas back into the freezer and pulled out a bag of frozen mixed vegetables. He also got a bottle of water out of the refrigerator. He turned to Joel, who stood by the door.

"Come on in, Joel. You want something to drink?"

"Water will be fine."

Joel took off his coat and hung it up on one of the hooks there. He walked over to Blair and took the bottle of water.

"We can sit in the living room."

Joel followed Blair to the living room and they sat down. Joel got out a notebook.

"I just want you to tell me exactly what happened. You know the

routine."

Blair went through the events of last night when he had confronted Jim about the Delaney raid and how he had tried to convince Jim to let him participate. And then Blair explained about the events of that morning. How Jim had given him no warning about the blow that was going to come.

Joel listened and wrote down Blair's statement. He made no comments while Blair was talking. When Blair was done, Joel looked up at Blair.

"Is that everything?"

"I provoked him, didn't I?"

"Even if you did provoke him that was no excuse for Jim to assault you. He's a sworn officer of the law and as such, he's supposed to uphold the law, not break it."

"Is he going to be arrested?"

"The initial report will have to be turned over to Internal Affairs. I don't know if they'll handle it or let Simon handle it."

"I also told Jim that I had taken the entire course load when I went to the academy. Jim had been adamant about being the only detective in the partnership. I only took the Special Consultant's job because that's what Jim wanted and that's what was offered. Last night, I stood up to Jim, telling him I was going to go to Simon and the chief of police and tell them about my accomplishments. I've decided that I deserve to be a detective, no matter what Jim thinks."

"I agree with you, Blair. You deserve to be a detective. You've been through a lot and you know procedures and the ins and outs. Are you going to stay with Major Crimes?"

"I don't know, Joel. I'll have to see how things go. Did Simon say how the others were?"

"Luckily, there were no deaths. But several have to stay in the hospital. Mostly bumps, cuts and bruises. And Delaney and his gang got away."

"That's a bummer." Blair yawned and Joel noticed it.

"Are you going to be okay by yourself?"

"I'll be fine, Joel. It's not a serious injury."

"Get some rest, Blair. I'll type up the report and you can sign it when you're in. I'll call if I need anything else."

Joel let himself out of the loft. He went back to the station to type up the report.

Blair relaxed on the couch, leaning back his head. Unexpectantly, the tears fell from his eyes. He wasn't sure what the tears were for - him or Jim. Both of them were victims in this. And Blair wasn't sure if he could stay with Major Crimes. He'd have to explore his options. Once he was bumped up to detective, he'd find out what he could do.

Jim Ellison woke up. He squeezed his eyes shut against the sensory onslaught. He was able to dial down his senses to the bare minimum. It was a shaky control. He opened his eyes again. He was in the hospital. He tried to remember what happened. Then it came to him.

The explosions in the abandoned factory. There had been no warning about the explosions and Jim had been concentrating on Delaney and his gang. It had taken a lot of concentration on Jim's part to track Delaney and his cohorts. Jim looked around the room. Then he remembered about his attack against Blair. He wondered if Blair was still handcuffed to his bed. Jim had made sure that the cuffs were tight enough so that Blair couldn't slip his wrist out of them. Jim closed his eyes. He had screwed up big time. And he knew that there would probably be charges brought against him.

Blair got up in the morning and walked to the bathroom. He had kept the frozen vegetables on his face most of the night. It looked like the swelling wasn't going down much. He came out of the bathroom and walked to the kitchen. He looked around the loft again and realized he could no longer live here. He'd have to find a place of his own.

Blair fixed himself breakfast, happy that he could eat without a lot of pain. Then Blair got dressed to go into the station. He still had a job to do. And he had to talk to Simon.

Everyone was surprised when Blair Sandburg walked into the bullpen of Major Crimes. He spoke to most of the people, who expressed concern with his appearance. He made his way towards Simon Banks' office. He stopped to speak to Rhonda, Simon's secretary.

"Is the captain free?"

"Yes. You look terrible, Blair. How do you feel?"

"Better than I did yesterday. It hurts still."

"Let me buzz the captain and see if he can see you."

Rhonda called Simon and asked if he could see Blair. Simon told her to send Blair in. Rhonda hung up the phone.

"Go on in, Blair."

"Thanks, Rhonda."

Blair walked into Simon's office, closing the door behind him. Simon looked at Blair. It looked to Simon like the swelling had increased.

"Sit down, Blair. How do you feel?"

"Better. Even though it looks worse."

"What brings you in? I thought maybe you'd stay home and take a couple of days to recuperate?"

"I have some reports that need to be finished up. And I need to talk to you, captain."

"So talk, Sandburg."

"I sort of lied about the academy, sir. I took all the courses. And aced them all. I have my accommodation."

Blair handed the documents to Simon. Simon read through them. He looked up at Blair.

"Why didn't you tell me? I would have gotten you detective status and pay."

"Jim didn't want me as a detective. It would have made me his equal. And I'd have no restrictions on me. And Jim wouldn't have been able to dictate how involved I became in cases. I should have seen this years ago. Jim's always felt a need to protect me. I've had enough, captain."

"I can understand that, Blair. You've always been able to hold your own. I can get the wheels in motion for your bump up to detective and possible back pay for the last six months."

"Thank you, sir."

"Are you going to pursue criminal action against Jim?"

"I don't know. What he did was in the heat of the moment. Even though it was a stupid thing to do, Jim thought it was the only way to protect me. And, who knows? I may have been hurt seriously at that factory. Jim probably feels bad enough. And Internal Affairs may really hit him hard. I know I can't stay as Jim's partner. He may decide to do it again. I can't take that chance."

"I understand that, Blair. I hate to say this, but you may not be able to stay in Major Crimes. And I don't know what Internal Affairs will decide."

"I realize I may not be able to stay in Major Crimes. But I do want to stay with the Cascade Police Department. I feel I have a lot to contribute. I can't lose this too."

Simon knew what Blair was talking about. Blair had been able to resolve the dissertation fiasco, but couldn't bring himself to return to Rainier University like nothing had happened. He still held onto the belief that someday he would be able to return to get his doctorate. At some university.

"We want you to stay, Blair. Go get some work done. If you need to leave early, let me know."

"Thank you."

Blair got to his feet and left Simon's office. He walked towards his desk, next to Jim's. Blair sat down at his desk and started up his computer. A few minutes later, Joel came over to his desk and sat down in the chair beside the desk.

"I have the report typed up. If you want to read it and sign it,

I'll take it up to Internal Affairs and give a copy to Simon. I already gave Internal Affairs a preliminary report and the pictures that was taken at the hospital."

Blair took the report and read it over. He signed it and handed it back to Joel.

"Thanks again, Joel."

Blair looked at the reports that were still on his desk. There wasn't a whole lot to do. It wouldn't even take most of the day. Blair got started.

It was mid-afternoon when Blair got a call from Internal Affairs that they wanted to talk to him in person the next morning. The investigation was already moving forward. Blair told them he'd be there. He asked Joel if he would go with him. Joel said yes.

Blair left the station around 5:00 PM. He passed up an invitation from Joel to join his family for dinner.

"I don't want to scare them, man. I'll see you tomorrow."

Blair went by the hospital. He knew that it wasn't the right thing to do or even the smart thing to do. But he wanted to see Jim. Even after all that had happened, Blair still cared about Jim's well being. Blair paused outside Jim's hospital room.

Inside the room, Jim smiled. He could hear the rapid thump-thump of Blair's heartbeat. But then the smile disappeared. What was Blair

doing here?

Blair opened the door slowly. He walked in, seeing Jim there in the bed. A bandage covering his forehead. And a bandage on his right arm. Blair was starting to think this was a mistake. But he walked forward. Jim looked at Blair when he walked into the room. He saw the damage that he had inflicted on his friend. Probably his former friend now. The swelling looked bad and the bruises were starting to turn multi-colored. Jim looked directly into Blair's eyes. Jim could see the sadness there.

"I'm sorry." Jim knew that the words were woefully inadequate.

Blair didn't respond to Jim's words. He turned from the bed. Jim could tell that Blair was trying to hold himself together. Neither man said anything for several minutes.Finally, Blair turned back around to face Jim.

"Internal Affairs wants to talk to me tomorrow morning. Why, Jim?

Why did you do it?"

"I don't know, Blair. I have no explanation. It was a snap judgment. I have to keep you safe."

"I case you haven't noticed Jim, I'm a big boy. And I have the training and the experience. I'm moving out of the loft. And I've talked to Simon. He's putting the wheels in motion at getting me upgraded to detective. And I'll probably have to leave Major Crimes."

"Internal Affairs may recommend releasing me."

"I don't think so. Especially since I'm not going to pursue criminal action. I'm willing to move forward. It would do no good to pursue a long, drawn-out legal action."

"Thank you for that. I don't deserve that much consideration."

"I have to go. I don't want us to be enemies, Jim. If you ever have a Sentinel problem, I'll be available to help."

"Thank you, Blair."

Blair left the hospital room and went to the loft. He had picked up a paper on the way, to look for a place to move to. He carried in his take-out and sat at the table, looking over the available apartments. If necessary, he could dip into the settlement money he had received from the publisher for releasing the Sentinel material without Blair's consent. Blair had put the remaining money in the bank after paying off his debts. Blair circled several possible places to check out.

Blair and Joel went to Internal Affairs the next morning. Blair answered most of the questions that were asked. The whole thing was tape recorded. As he was doing that, two other Internal Affairs officers went to the hospital to try to talk to Jim Ellison. Jim waved his right to counsel and representation and gave a full account of what happened and accepted the total blame for what happened. And he was willing to accept whatever punishment there would be.

Blair was with the two Internal Affairs officers for over two hours. He had explained the fact that he may have provoked Jim Ellison somewhat during the confrontation the night before the attack. Joel could tell that the questioning was grating on Blair. And the pain lines were more pronounced. Just when Joel was about to step in and call a halt to the proceedings, the questioning was over. Blair left Internal Affairs with a headache. He and Joel returned to Major Crimes. Blair went to ask Simon if he could have the rest of the day off. Simon consented. Blair figured it was the perfect time to check out the potential apartments.

Blair found the perfect apartment about halfway through his list. He signed a lease and could move in within a week. That would mean staying with Jim a few extra days. But he could do that. He knew Jim would never attack him again.

Jim was released from the hospital two days later. He had been suspended with pay from the police department, pending the ongoing investigation. He took a cab to the loft. When he walked in, he knew that Blair was still there. But he also saw evidence that there had been packing. Jim decided to make dinner. It was the very least he could do.

Blair came home, tired and in pain. It seemed like his cheek was one big, massive bruise. As he unlocked the door, enticing smells reached his nose. It smelled like beef stew. Blair walked in, spotting Jim in the kitchen. He stiffened up, somewhat afraid still of Jim. It was unreasonable, he knew. He took off his coat, hung it up, and walked towards the kitchen.

"Hey, Jim. You're out of the hospital."

"You don't have to worry, Chief. I'm not going to attack you."

"I - didn't..."

"It's okay, Chief. Your heartbeat sped up. It's understandable. I made beef stew. It's just about ready."

"Thanks, Jim."

As they ate, Blair explained about his day. Then he told Jim about the apartment he found on Madison.

"It's a really good neighborhood. I can't move in for five more days."

"If you want, I can help you move. It will take less trips with my truck."

"Thanks for the offer, Jim. It would help."

As they fell into the familiar routine of cleaning up after dinner, Blair realized that he and Jim could still be friends. The dynamic would be different, but they still could be friends.

Jim and Blair moved Blair into his apartment five days later. Jim approved of the apartment and the location. It was on the other side of Cascade from the loft. Jim understood the reason. Jim also noticed a new confidence and maturity surrounding Blair. Jim was proud of Blair and told him so.

When they were finished lugging up the last of the boxes, Blair suggested to Jim that he treat them to a late lunch. Jim was agreeable and drove them to a Chinese restaurant nearby. It was an enjoyable time spent together. Jim was glad to see that they could be civil to one another.

It was two weeks later when Blair was officially bumped up to detective, junior grade with back pay. Everyone in Major Crimes celebrated the news. And that afternoon, there was a meeting in the Chief's office to hand down the decision on Detective James Ellison.

Attending the decision were: Chief of Police Warren, Captain Simon Banks, Captain Joel Taggart, sergeants Briggs and Edwards from Internal Affairs, Jim Ellison and Detective Blair Sandburg, the newest detective in Major Crimes.

The punishment had been a six month suspension without pay, an order to undergo training and counseling on redirecting anger, and the termination of his work in Major Crimes. After his suspension, he would be reassigned to another department. Jim considered himself lucky. He still had his job.

A lot of the reason Jim had not been terminated by the Cascade Police Department was the testimony of support from Simon, Joel, and especially Blair. Jim thanked all three afterwards.

Jim asked Blair to go with him down the stairs. They went into the stairwell. They walked down one flight of stairs before Jim spoke.

"Your face looks much better."

"The pain's almost gone."

"I want to tell you I'm proud of you. You'll do Major Crimes proud."

"It will be hard following in your shadow."

"I'm not there anymore, Chief. The shadow's gone. It's your turn to shine."

"I'm sorry it happened, Jim."

"It was in no way your fault, Blair. It was all my action and reaction. I need you to remember that. Okay?"

"Okay, Jim."

They walked side by side down the stairs to the garage. Jim knew he still had a friendship with Blair.

END