Notes: This is somewhat AUish regarding Blair's past and how he is acting in the present. Just so you are warned. Thanks to Lyn for the beta and insight.
"Go home," Simon said firmly. "With the state you're in, and Sandburg not around, I'm pretty sure I won't be too satisfied with the results of this report anyway."
Jim forced a wry smile and hit a few keys to boot down the computer. Of course, Simon was right. And he had promised the paramedic that after a quick debriefing at the station, he'd take Blair home and they'd both take it easy for the rest of the week. It was true; he felt exhausted, but wired at the same time, and sitting here at his desk, in these familiar surroundings, was comforting, even more so when he unconsciously held a thread to the heartbeat he'd find anywhere in the building
"Sounds like an idea." He looked over to where Megan Connor was standing by the window.
Simon had been following his gaze. "Go get the kid. Out of here. I don't want to see you in this building before Monday."
"Now that's an order I'm happy to follow, sir."
When the men who had regularly kidnapped runaways and other unlucky young kids off the streets realized that they were surrounded, they created a diversion that was supposed to guarantee their getaway: they set the building on fire - but they hadn't known who they were up against.
Only an idiot knew no fear. Fear was what kept you alive, along with the anger that kept you going. Blair had followed Jim into the burning building without a second thought, though very aware of these emotions.
To give the uniforms outside the location of the men trying to flee had been a piece of cake, but the seven kids in the basement, aged 11 to 17, weren't in good shape, drugged, almost starved, most of them weren't able to walk. They had to carry them out. Some of them had inhaled a lot of smoke, and it was yet unclear if they'd live to work though the other trauma that had been heaped on them.
Normally, they would have gone through their usual spiel, Jim insisting on a hospital visit, Blair protesting against it, and when a doctor had delivered a verdict, they'd tie up things at the station and go home to try and rid their mind of the traces of an evil that you could study, but never really understand.
"So what the hell is your problem with me?"
Blair was aware that his voice had sounded just a little shrill, and he took a deep breath.
Across from him in the interrogation room sat Detective Ed Hastings, one of those guys who had never warmed to the 'neo-hippie-witch-doctor-punk', who had never made it past his own stereotypes. When Blair had been waiting at Jim's desk while Jim was in Simon's office with the captain, Hastings had started to mouth off again.
Usually, Blair tended to ignore these things; that seemed the least stressful way to deal with them, but today, it was different. Too much had amassed in a short time, on top of this shitty day. "If you have something to say, say it to my face."
Hastings seemed surprised, but he gave Blair a sneer. "With pleasure."
And here they were, facing each other. The emotion had risen unhindered, and Blair who had learned to meditate himself through just about every crisis, found, with some surprise, he was so angry, he could have slugged the man. "I'm here, man. Get it out of your system."
"You don't belong here."
"Oh, right, cool. Anything else?"
The detective jumped up, almost knocking his chair over. "You want to hear it, punk? Now listen!. You parade around here, pretending to be a cop when we're doing the real work." He snorted. "Just *look* at yourself. People like you make the force look bad. I don't want to be working around you damned fags, and I'll tell you that most of my colleagues don't want it either."
It didn't really matter. People like Hastings would repeat the same crap over and over, and Blair knew that it didn't even have anything to do with him as a person. Because Ed Hastings didn't have a fucking clue about who Blair Sandburg was. Still, that generalizing was at the heart of every hate crime, and damn it, a cop should know better than that. He could tell himself that rationally. Having all that garbage thrown in his face made him all cold inside anyway, even though he had sworn to himself not to let it get to him.
"Okay, let's go through it one by one. About you doing all the work. I wonder where were you this afternoon when we had to free those kids from a building that was about to collapse any moment? Excuse me, man, I never claimed to be a cop. These are real, though." He held out his arms. Light burns, scratches and bruises from falling debris marred his flesh. Blair knew he and the other men from Major Crimes had been extremely lucky.
"I wasn't on duty," Hastings grumbled. "You were all making a lot of fuss about these trash kids. For all you know, they got paid for--"
He jumped when Blair slammed his fist on the table, startling them both. "You. Listen. To. Me. Now. You have no idea what we found there. They ran from a broken home only to end up as *goods* to be sold for sex or maybe illegal testing of medication. You have a daughter, right? How old is she? The youngest girl in there was eleven. You think it was all for earning a little extra pocket money? You're making me sick, Hastings."
"Shut up, fag!" the detective shouted back. "You have no right to talk to me like that, you piece of--"
"Careful." That one word sounded reasonably calm, while inside, Blair was trembling with anger and disbelief. People with an attitude like this shouldn't be in jobs where they exerted power. It wasn't the way he'd been brought up, or what he really believed, but sometimes, secretly, Blair felt like they shouldn't *be*, period. "Now there's another subject. I'm really curious about, because I wonder what exactly it is that makes you think I'm gay, or makes you so afraid of homosexuality in the first place. Most prejudices are founded on a lack of knowledge, you know."
"I know enough of what you and Ellison are doing. And that's making me sick."
Blair made a show of shrugging, though he almost winced at the reminder of the pain where part of a plank had hit him. "First of all, I'd love to make you see the errors of your thinking, but it's late, and I realize that I can't save everyone in one day. So let's cut this short, Hastings - whatever dirty little movie it is that's playing in your mind after work, it's just there - all in your head. Jim and I are not a couple. That's because we're both heterosexual, and I hope you know that's not a contagious disease, just as being homosexual isn't. But in the end, you know what? I think I'm just wasting my breath here, because you're too damn dumb--"
It happened within seconds. Hastings was quick, but he didn't make it to deliver the punch, because the next moment, he stood gaping at Blair who held Hastings' service weapon in slightly shaking hands.
The feel of cold steel was disconcerting; then again, he didn't intend to point it at the man.
"Think it would be fun to shove around the fag hippie boy some?" he asked icily. "I listened to you. You had your chance, and now I don't want to hear any more crap from you. I know your kind. Couldn't cut it in school, but you were always the first when it came to beating up the stupid geek, isn't that right?"
"*Your* kind belongs into a psych ward," Hastings spat, but there was sweat glistening on his forehead.
Blair laid the gun back on the table; he couldn't help the shudder that passed through him.
"And you never stopped once to think that you were wrong. I know some things about you, Hastings. There were complaints. Something about police brutality, something about not following leads when you thought the victim wasn't worth it. Like a prostitute, like a gay man, because, according to you, they had it coming, right?"
The other man was red-faced now, but stayed silent.
"I've seen enough shrinks to have learned they have names for your kind, too, but that's beside the point now. You didn't know I could disarm you, right? Didn't count on it. That's because I learned to defend myself. I used to run. Tried to make myself believe that if I told no one, it would be the same as if it never happened. And then one day, this guy, he misunderstood too, drew his conclusions based on my looks and his own narrow mind, and he followed me home, and held a knife to my throat-- that's why I learned to be quick, you know? You've been laughing about me hating guns. You'd hate them too if some stupid jocks had made you play Russian roulette as a kid. I still hate them, but I've also learned to appreciate them. Because your kind is never going to rule my life again. That's it. Good night, Hastings."
Blair just turned and walked away, from the symbol Hastings was, from a past that was taunting him from time to time, but it was just there, in the past. His present, his future, was right behind that door, the Holy Grail. His Sentinel. Jim.
At times, it had taken Jim a lot of self-restraint not to interfere, not to burst into the room and give Hastings, that arrogant ass-hole, a piece of his mind. He understood, though, that it wasn't his call; Blair could handle himself, and he had to let him.
And he'd tuned into Blair's heartbeat, and had all the confidence in the world that Blair would never shoot an unarmed man. No need to worry there.
As the exchange of words was unwinding, Jim felt himself left with a mix of worry about some of the disturbing images being brought up. He didn't really know all that much about Sandburg who could put on a smiling face most of the time, even when he was hurting. There were some things they'd need to talk about eventually.
At the same time, there was pride, of the same kind he'd felt about how Blair had dealt with Lash a couple of months ago. And on many other occasions since then.
The door opened, and Blair exited the room with a questioning look on his face, probably expecting to be reprimanded for his actions. Jim had no such intention. Blair might be able to fight his own battles, but he looked clearly exhausted. //You did well today. I'm with you here, with what happened just now, and even those things from the past.// Saying all of this out loud suddenly seemed a big effort, so Jim simply settled for pulling him close into an embrace, aware of Hastings who was leaving the interrogation room himself, looking a little overwhelmed. Served him right.
"Damn, Jim. I don't need you to coddle me."
"Fine with me, Chief, but maybe I need to do it. Indulge me."
He held on for a moment, until Blair relaxed against him. Hastings was still standing there, and so was Simon. Jim pulled back and dropped a quick kiss on Blair's temple, part instinct, part comeback at the detective who was nearly squeaking, "But Sandburg said they weren't -- they're partners! Sir, don't you think--"
"Look, Detective Hastings. Blair is a consultant to the department, so they're not officially partners. As far as I'm concerned, those two could get married and adopt a bunch of children if they wanted to. So - don't you have work to do?"
"Of c-course, sir," Hastings stammered and hastily left the room.
Simon shook his head to himself. "I didn't just say that, did I? Go." He made shooing motions. "Home, both of you *now*."
Jim chuckled, his arm still around Blair's shoulders. "Yeah, I guess we've really had enough."
Blair gave him a quick, private smile. This time it was genuine. It was a good start, as far as Jim was concerned.