Missing and Presumed...
"Blair Sandburg, you are under arrest for the kidnapping and murder of Detective James Ellison...." After that, the words all sounded garbled, as if spoken under water. Murder? Of my best friend? Of my partner in all things? Why did Simon say that?
James Ellison had been missing for a week. The department, plus one very stubborn police observer, Blair Sandburg, left no stone unturned in the search for the missing man. Blair found it impossible to sleep alone, missing his partner. So, instead of sleeping, he continued researching all possible avenues the investigation could progress. Only two days ago, Blair offered one of the detectives, Beau Pellow, a lift over to one of the houses being investigated. Nothing was found there to help in discovering the missing detective's location, but something was found in Blair's car...Jim's blood.
Pellow asked for permission from Blair to check over his car for clues that the police observer might have missed. As the forensics team scoured the car, traces of blood were found and determined to belong to Ellison.
Blair explained to the investigating officers that between himself and Jim, they went to the hospital every other week, it seemed, to patch up some injury. Forensics countered that the blood sample was fresh, with the last 3 days.
"...these rights as I've read them to you?"
"Huh? Wha..what did you say, Simon? I kinda lost track of it after the *arrest* word," Blair replied haltingly.
"Blair, son, I have to take you in. The blood in your car places Jim with you during the time we've been looking for him. Blair," the police captain pleaded, "...if you know where Jim is, tell us, we can work something out for you."
"Simon, man, I would never do anything to hurt Jim. I love him, you know that. I think after this week, the rest of the department knows too. We wanted to stay quiet about our relationship since we weren't sure how other cops would perceive Jim. I told him I was afraid other cops might be slow in responding for back up and such. So, we did not disclose our relationship except to our close friends. I think though, after this week, I did not hide my feelings about missing and worrying about him." Blair looked directly into Simon's eyes. "Look at me when I tell you, I have not seen Jim since last Tuesday."
Simon studied the worried, young man. 'Times like this, I sure could use Jim's senses,' the captain thought. 'Still, look at him. I have seen him obfuscate before, but this is not one of those times,' silently concluded Simon.
"I believe you, man, but I still have the warrant. I MUST take you in, but one of us from the squad will be with you the whole time through processing. If we show you favoritism, it would only look worse for you."
Shoulders slumping, Blair agreed. "Yeah, you're right. I hate that!" Quietly he asked, "Can we do without the cuffs...out of professional courtesy, or something?"
"I think we can do that, Blair. Let's go," Captain Banks confirmed as he turned the curly headed observer out the door of his home, leaving the forensics team to scrutinize the loft.
Chains rattled as the man moved his arms, trying to keep the circulation moving in his arms. There was enough slack in the chains that were attached to the wall behind him that his arms were not over his head. There were also chains attached to the padlocked leather cuffs around his ankles. These chains lead to a shoulder eyebolt securely embedded into the cold, cement floor. He did not know where he was, or why he was even there. Though not sure how long he had been locked in this cement prison, all he could think about was his partner. To his dismay, he had been blindfolded, so he had to depend on his hearing to define his setting.
'Blair,' Jim Ellison thought, 'Take care of yourself, love. Whoever put me here, caught me off guard, so it had to be someone I knew. God Blair, I miss you.'
He turned his head as he heard what sounded like a heavy door open, followed by footsteps drawing closer to his position. "Not so powerful now are you, Ellison? People like you make me sick. Soon, though, it will be all over. Your ~little buddy~ has been arrested for your kidnapping and is a suspect in your murder," the voice said proudly.
Chains rattled as Ellison shook his arms at his captor. "Why," he gutted out, his mouth dry from lack of moisture and opportunity to speak.
"Because YOUR TYPE is abnormal...because you are a homo!" the stranger accused. "I am freeing the world, one by one, of your type."
"You...you are the one behind the gay murders? You are insane!" Jim retorted, his veins bulging from his neck.
Footsteps rapidly approached the bound detective. The mystery man grabbed the captive by his shirt collar, pushing him forcefully into the wall behind him, banging his head repeatedly against the unforgiving concrete wall until the captive offered no resistance. Blood dripped down the wall above the unconscious man.
"Hm.m.m. More evidence of injury to you detective. Wonder where I should plant this?"
Looking through the pockets of the chained man, he found a handkerchief. He dabbed some of the blood onto the white cloth, then put it into a plastic evidence bag that he always carried. Then, reaching into his pant's pocket, he removed his key chain. Finding the one for the padlock on the blindfold, he bent over the prone, unconscious man, removing the blindfold. "You might as well see where you are going to die...all alone, locked up like the animal you are!" the unknown assailant ranted.
Looking back on the blood stained cloth, he continued gibbering, "Oh yeah, you little fag, this should put the last nails into your coffin." Closing the bag, he walked back to the door shutting it behind himself. He put the padlock back on the door. 'Gotta love these storage units,' he thought to himself. 'The task force that's looking for you Ellison will never look here.' The man then opened the door to his car, sat down, closed his car door, put on his seatbelt, and drove away. 'Yup, nobody gonna find you there.' He smiled and exited the storage units.
Blair sat forlornly in Simon's office. Processing was difficult, to say the very least. He had been finger printed, body cavity searched and photographed. He had called a friend of Eli Stoddard's for legal consul. At his hearing, he was released on a personal recognizance bond. Now, all he could do was wait to hear about the evidence they had against him.
"Blair, good news," Simon Banks announced as he entered his own office. "The blood found in your car was planted. It should have left more of a stain in your car. The drops were too precise."
"Simon, you are serious, right? I'm cleared?" Blair responded.
"They still want you to stay in town..."
"Are THEY crazy? Of course I will stay in town. Jim is STILL missing, or did THEY forget that, thinking they had the PRIME suspect in custody?" he asked hotly. Calming slightly, looking at Simon's face, knowing that Jim was his friend too, he continued, "There still *is* a task force out looking for him, isn't there? Everything did not stop when I was arrested, right? They are still looking..."
"Blair," Simon interrupted, "after a week, and no demands for ransom, we, ah, figure that it is more of a recovery operation now, not a missing person."
Blair's face paled, knees weakened as his body went boneless, falling rapidly to the floor. Simon caught him before he hit the floor, easing him to the couch. "What are you talking about, Simon?" tears slowly creeping down his face from the glistening pools in his eyes. "You telling me that no one is looking for a living, br..breathing Jim Ellison? That all they expect to find is a corpse? Is that what you are telling me? That I should believe my soul mate is forever gone?" Taking a breath to control the anger welling up, he persisted. "Well, let me tell you something. Jim Ellison is alive and he will be found. Someone planted evidence in my car, and...and I think it has to be a cop." Seeing Simon hold up a finger to interrupt, Blair carried on. "Just hold on a minute, Simon. The 'evidence' was found a couple of days ago in my car, the day AFTER Pellow was in my car. Come on, that is a bit of a coincidence, don't you think? Even if he doesn't have Jim somewhere, he is involved. We need to talk to him...now!"
'So cold, must be getting going into shock,' the injured detective murmured to himself. Dipping his index finger into the growing puddle of blood, Ellison continued his writing on the floor. 'Nothing will ever cause me to stop loving you, Blair. I just wish I could have seen you one more...'
Simon sat on the chair facing the couch where the police observer rested. He closed his eyes, considered what the younger man told him, opened his eyes and nodded. "You're right. It does make sense. Pellow is due in anytime. We need to talk to him. Let me rephrase. I need to talk to him. I think YOU need to observe him."
"Ok, Simon. As long as you talk to him....now!"
Looking through the windowed wall of his office, he saw the man in question enter the squad room. Beau walked over to his desk, pulled out his chair, sat down and started to study the files already waiting for him on his desk.
"Pellow," Simon bellowed out into the squad room. "Meet me in Interrogation 1, now. We need to go over some of your reports."
"You got it, Cap," he agreed, picking up his latest files.
Blair watched the tall, blond man leave the bullpen. Simon then left his office, following Pellow to the interrogation room. Blair waited until both men were in the room before he went down the corridor and entered the observation room.
"Pellow," Simon began slowly, "where were you just now. Too early for a lunch break, plus you were gone for what, couple of hours?"
"I had to meet an informant, about another case, you know, the serial gay murders," he retorted confidently.
"Anything come from that?"
"No, the informant never showed. It happens, you know, but I had to be there just in case."
"Of course, of course. Still, you were gone for a while. Anything else?" Simon pried.
"No, nothing else. Ah, Simon, on another subject, how's the search for Ellison going? Any clues yet to where he is? Did Sandburg confess to offing his boyfriend?" he sneered.
"No, in fact, Blair has been cleared, at this point. The evidence in his car was planted. Someone wanted to blame Blair, but was sloppy. As to the 'boyfriend' reference, that has never been established. What makes you think there is a relationship between them?" Simon insisted.
"Have you seen them two? Get real Simon! I don't touch my girlfriend as much as Ellison has his hands on Sandburg. And the hair of that short *boy*. Ellison has a girlie boyfriend. It's all so wrong, Cap. Men don't, well, men don't do it with each other, it's unnatural," he concluded, pulling out his handkerchief to mop his sweaty brow. As he pulled his own hanky out of his pocket, the evidence bag fell out of his pocket to the floor. The captain and the detective both looked at the bloody cloth.
Pellow pulled his revolver before Banks. He pointed his gun at the captain, not realizing that Blair had pushed the "panic" button in the observation room. Simon knew he just had to keep the panicking man busy for just a short while, before reinforcements showed up.
"Why, why did you take Detective Ellison?" Simon vented. "Where the hell did you put him? Is he alive?"
"You forget, Captain, I am holding the gun on you," Pellow warned.
"You forget, I could have placed someone in the observation room and help could be coming right about..." The door burst open with Henri and Rafe leading the way.
The stunned detective hesitated long enough that Henri was able to easily disarm him. Rafe grabbed the confused man's wrists and snuggly put the handcuffs on him.
Blair stormed into the room. He stared directly in Pellow's eyes and demanded to know where Jim Ellison was being kept.
"I'm not talking until I have a lawyer, and I am most certainly not wasting my breath talking to a fag like you," he denounced.
Unable to withhold his rage at the man any longer, Blair lowered his shoulder and ran into Pellow, pushing him to the wall. "I won't ask again. Where. Is. Jim?"
"Hey, Banks, this is police brutality. My lawyer is gonna have a field day with this," he mouthed of confidently.
"I don't see any police brutalizing you, Pellow. I see my friend Blair having a conversation with you, but, sorry, no police brutality," Banks concluded smugly.
"Ok...you stick with the little fag. I am STILL not talking until my lawyer shows, so, ah, you all just have a nice day. I don't think Ellison will have a nice day ever again."
Rafe and Henri dragged the smug detective away, reading him his rights.
Simon looked at Blair and for the first time could see just the slightest amount of resignation. After all this time, Blair was starting to believe his lover really was dead. He just continued to stare out into space, tears freely falling down the pale cheeks.
"Blair, listen to me. He was going to plant more evidence. I think Jim is still alive. We need to have the white cloth analyzed."
Picking up the plastic bag, wiping his eyes with shirtsleeve, Blair uttered, "I'll bring it to forensics now, okay Simon? I need to do something positive on this case."
"Yeah, kid, go," Simon told him as he used his hands in 'shooing motion'.
Blair bounded down the hall to the elevators to the forensics level. Exiting the elevator, he turned over the evidence bag, after signing in the bag and the countering signature assuring of receipt of said evidence. "I'll wait, how long will it take, do you think?"
The forensics manager assured it would be 20-40 minutes, since they knew they would be looking at detective Ellison's blood as a comparison.
Thirty-five minutes later, the forensics chief exited their lab with a piece of paper waving in his hands. "Blair," he said excitedly, "this sample is only a couple of hours old. It is most definitely Ellison's, but," he slowed, "this sample was from living person. Ellison is still alive, or he was a couple of hours ago. Here's the good news..."
Blair looked up at him, "Good news? How is anything..."
"Sandburg, listen, this sample had foreign particles in it. It was taken from something, not directly off the person, as there are no skin cells found. We figured it was wiped off a floor or wall because the substance is cement. The type of cement that's poured for basement walls and floors." The forensics chief handed the report to the subdued observer.
"So, he was alive two hours ago, in a place where there are poured cement floors and or walls, right?" he surmised.
"Yes, now go...tell Simon. Move it. We want Jim back too."
Blair did not wait for the
elevator, opting for the steps instead. He practically ran into Simon's office. Panting
slightly, he handed over the report.
"Give me a Reader's Digest version of this report, Sandburg," Banks demanded.
"Well, Jim was alive at the time the sample was taken, about two hours ago. The sample was not taken directly from Jim, but from a poured cement wall or floor," Blair rattled off quickly.
"Let me think, cement walls or floors. On his key chain, there was a key to an ABC Storage unit #272. That must be where...Rhonda," he bellowed.
"Yes, Simon," she answered quickly.
"Find and call all the ABC Storage units in a 1 hour radius from here. Find out if Beau Pellow had rented a unit, then let me know. Have some of the detectives help you with the calls. We think the Jim is locked in one of those rooms," he concluded, speaking to her back as she had already returned to her desk to begin the task.
What felt like hours later, Rhonda stood up and shouted, "Found it!!"
"Good work. Where..." Simon started to speak.
"It is the ABC Storage at 24567 Oak. That is about 35 minutes from here. Should I call the ambulance to follow you?" she inquired.
"Yeah, good thinking, Rhonda," Simon charged. He strode out of his office with a very worried, yet excited, police observer hot on his heels.
Stopping briefly, he turned back to Rhonda, "Yeah, thanks so much. I, um, I..."
"Just go Blair. Tell me when you come back with Jim," she grinned.
Upon arrival at the storage unit, Henri and Rafe opened the large overhead door. They entered the space, looking for any trouble. Their eyes then settled on the body in the corner, shackled like an animal. "Blair, Simon, you better get in here," shouted Rafe.
Blair came running into the unit only to stop short after seeing his lover chained to the floor and the wall. Simon turned on the light switch, which brought the dark red color on the light gray cement wall into focus. The body had not moved since they entered the unit. Rafe was using the keys from Pellow's key chain to find the proper keys to unlock the detective from his restraints. Blair walked over to Jim. Praying to see the chest move, hear the sound of air being pulled into his lungs, something, anything, to demonstrate there was still life in the still body before him. His hands shaking, he reached for a wrist that Rafe had freed from the chains. Slightly squeezing with his two fingers, he waited for a pulse. Nothing. He put his fingers under the nose, Nothing.
Simon could see the panic filling the face of Sandburg. "Blair! Blair!"
"Simon, ah, nothing..."
"CPR now. Henri, you have the chest, I've got the mouth. Go..."Simon ordered. At that, Simon checked the passageway for obstructions, tilted the head back, squeezed the nose and began breathing for his downed detective. No success meant Henri had to pump the lungs for the ailing detective. Still nothing. They repeated. The ambulance arrived and paramedics familiar with Jim and Blair took over.
The four men stood back to watch the paramedics work. For three of the men, it was a sad reminder of the day at the fountain, where Blair had 'died'. The paramedics turned to the four quiet men.
"I'm sorry. I would say he probably expired an hour, or so, ago. Um, looks like he was conscious for a little while as he bled out. Appears to be a message. Blair, you should come here..."
"I can't, man, I can't...this cannot be happening."
"Blair, a dying man leaves a message, you read it. He wanted to be sure...well, just read it," encouraged the paramedic.
"Ok, okay," he said softly to give himself confidence to move. First one step, then another, until he was standing next to the pool of blood. He saw the bloody fingertip, knowing that had been the writing instrument. He looked at the puddle, but the message was on the clean area of the floor.
Jim had written a short note to Blair. "Blr luv u 4ever"
Blair broke down, feel to his knees, held his head, and sobbed uncontrollably.