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Mismatched
by ljc
4/05


Summary:  AU meeting.  Very loose reworking of “The
Debt”, so there are definitely spoilers, also for
“Murder 101”.


Warnings, Rating:  PG.
 

Disclaimer:  All characters, places, and objects from
The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, and
Paramount. All stories are written with the love of
the show in mind. No money is being made. All stories
are property of the author.


<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>


Blair stood with Larry wrapped tightly around him. 
The little Barbary ape was terrified.  Blair wasn't
doing so good either.  His 'home' had just gone up in
one big, fast explosion and a long smoldering fire.  


He felt a little numb.  It had happened so fast.  His
home, his possessions, were gone.  He might salvage a
few things but he wasn't even allowed into the
warehouse until the arson investigators and the cops
were done.  He didn't quite know what to do.  He felt
a little disoriented but the oxygen mask the EMTs made
him put on eased the wheezing and the burning in his
lungs.  He still felt at loose ends, unable to make a
decision if his life depended on it. 


“Sandburg, can I speak to you for a minute?” spoke a
detective practically in his ear.  Yeah, he'd
introduced himself as Detective Ellison.  Ellison
wrinkled his nose and glared at the ruins of the
warehouse, and coughed deeply.  With his eyes tearing
and his voice raspy, and his temper short, he said,
“We'd like to ask you some questions at the station. 
We'll take my car.  Come with me.”


Blair looked at him stupidly, what?  “What's the
matter Detective?  Hey, are you alright?  You need to
get away from this smoke.  Maybe the paramedics can
give you an oxygen mask.  It looks like you could use
one as much as me.”  All Blair got for his concern was
a teary eyed glare.  “Look, I answered your questions.
 I need to make arrangements for a place to stay and
uh, to get Larry here, back to the University.  I can
come down and make a statement in the morning.  I
really don't feel too good right now.  I've got a lot
to do and hardly know where to start,” glancing back
at his former home. 


“We'll arrange for the care of the chimp.  We've got
questions that won't wait till morning.  I'm afraid
you'll have to come with me.  We need to hold you for
questioning in the deaths of the gang members killed
here tonight and about the drug lab that blew up the
warehouse.  Your warehouse right?  You said you lived
here.  We need to know what you know about this now,
before a gang war erupts.  Come along,” Ellison left
little room for delay.  A strong grip on Blair's arm
propelled him along, stumbling a little from the rush.
 


“Hey wait, man.  Larry's an ape, not a chimp.  And I
don't know anything about the explosion.  Drug lab! 
What are you talking about?”  Blair wasn't so
disoriented that he didn't realize he could be in deep
trouble.  He pulled the oxygen mask off so as to be
heard more clearly, and lost his grip on Larry who
streaked away into the night.  “Larry, come back.”


“Come on Sandburg, Animal Control will be notified. 
They'll find him.  Let's get going.”  Ellison
continued to push him along with bruise making force. 
 Sandburg was finally moving.


And the cops and arson investigators watched the
shadows.  And those in the shadows watched back.


<>-<>


Blair had wilted even further under hours of
questioning, but he never faltered in his story and
the detective, Ellison, and a Captain Banks, left him
to wait once again.  He laid his head on his arms,
trying to calm his nerves and rest between wracking
coughs.  


“Brown have the inquiries at Rainier panned out?”
asked Simon Banks, Captain of Major Crimes, and Jim's
boss.


“He seems to be just what he says he is, Captain. 
Prof. Stoddard in the Anthropology Department, vouched
for him.  Said if Sandburg needs anything to tell him
to call him personally.  His rap sheet is squeaky
clean, nearly.”  At the Captain's questioning look,
Brown continued with a grin, “Well, look at him.  The
kid is a hippie, or at least a wannabe hippie.  He's
been into protesting for 'causes' for years.  Probably
since his mom had him in diapers.  Those are the only
kinds of things that have shown up.  Nothing remotely
violent.  Except ... as a victim.  You remember that
guy Ventris.  He and his girlfriend were arrested for
murder a few months ago?  Well, Sandburg reported an
assault by him.  Said Ventris was there, but never
laid a hand on him himself, just hired someone to hurt
him.  He never continued with the complaint because of
the murder arrest.  Well anyway ... this Sandburg has
never been known to be into drugs either.  Actually,
he hasn't even got a speeding or parking ticket,
except for one time when his car broke down and they
towed it away.”


Ellison said, “Did you see his car, Simon?  If he was
into drugs, he wouldn't be driving that old Corvair. 
And his clothes, he wouldn't have to spend much to get
better stuff.  I'm inclined to believe he's an
innocent bystander.”


“Come on Jim.  This kid 'just happens' to live next to
a drug lab and doesn't even know it?”  Simon was
feeling the pressure of time.  A gang war was brewing
and he'd really hoped, that this kid would be the
break they needed.  But it seemed Ellison was right,
“Alright, set him loose.  He may not know anything,
but maybe he'll remember something useful later.  Even
if he didn't see anything, the gang members may think
he did.  He could be in danger himself.  Jim, make
sure he comes in to give a formal statement tomorrow. 
Let him know to keep his eyes open.  Don't scare him,
but make sure he knows to be careful.  If he suspects
anyone is following him or asking questions about him,
have him call us immediately.  You know the drill. 
I'd better go.  I have to keep Earl Gaines up to speed
on this and see if he's come up with anything.”


Ellison shook his head as he opened the door to the
interrogation room.  The kid was asleep, with his head
on the table.  He frowned at the wheeze that rattled
his lungs even in sleep.  He walked up to the kid and
shook his shoulder.  It took several tries before the
kid showed signs of waking.  He shook again and spoke
loudly to gain his attention, “Sandburg.  Come on. 
Time to go.”  At Sandburg's bleary gaze he continued,
“Your story checks out for now.  Don't plan on leaving
town.  Do you understand?”


Blair understood.  He was okay with the cops for now,
but what if they couldn't find the real crooks?  He
nodded and asked, “What about Larry, the little
Barbary ape?  Did they find him?”


Ellison was puzzled, “You're worried about the chimp? 
Sorry, ape?  No news on him yet.  Come on, let me take
you home.  I'm off duty now, and we've kept you here
until the buses stopped running.  Your car is still at
the warehouse.”


When Sandburg didn't move, Ellison asked, “What's the
matter?”


Blair fought the lump in his throat.  He didn't need
to explain his impoverished and homeless situation to
this guy.  “Man, I'd appreciate a lift to the
University.  I need to do some work in my office
before classes tomorrow.  Or is that today?  Oh, never
mind.  But I would appreciate the lift.  Maybe you'd
better take me to my car.”


“Sandburg, it's 2 a.m.  I'm sure the offices at the
University have been closed for hours.  And since I
don't know if your car was damaged in the explosion,
you'd better wait on that until daylight.  That wasn't
exactly a good neighborhood you lived in.  Do you need
a phone to call a friend?  There was a Prof. Stoddard
that said if you needed help to get a message to him
personally,” Ellison answered impatiently.


Blair cringed at the thought of waking Professor Eli
Stoddard to help him out in the middle of the night. 
“No, it's okay.  I'll just get a cab.  Yeah, I'll go
over to a friend's to spend the night.  No worry, man.
 I'll be fine.”  At this last bit Blair hurriedly
grabbed his backpack and sidled out the door heading
for the elevator.  He still coughed a bit and wheezed
but just prattled on about his friend, never
mentioning a name or an address.  He didn't stop until
the elevator door closed between them.  


Ellison was a little bemused until he realized he'd
been intending to use the elevator too.  As he hit the
button to open the door, he realized he was too late
and he'd have to wait for the next trip.  By the time
he got downstairs Sandburg had disappeared into the
night.  “Damn it,” he exclaimed as his palm slapped
the wall, so much for warning the kid.


Blair wandered into the dark outside the PD garage. 
He headed toward the more lighted street in the front
of the building.  And a shadow started to follow him
until two uniforms came out the same entrance and
seemed to follow Blair.  The shadow faded back to
wait, and think.


<>-<>


Morning came early to Blair.  He hadn't wanted to
bother his friends in the early hours of the morning. 
Some had early classes.  Some were full up in their
apartments.  He was sure someone would take him in for
this emergency, but what then?  He decided to spend
the rest of the night at the homeless shelter near
Rainier.  He helped out there when he could and they'd
be willing to let him crash there for a few hours. 
Then he could stay in his office for a day or two.  He
was sure he could find something without
inconveniencing his friends.  And he really didn't
want the news about the drug lab to get around to more
of the profs or the Chancellor.


<>-<>


Simon was grumpier than the proverbial bear the next
morning.  “Ellison, my office.”  Even his freshly
brewed, and extra strong, coffee hadn't sweetened his
disposition.  After Jim helped himself to a cup of
Simon's coffee he sat in the chair in front of his
desk.


At Simon's raised eyebrow, Jim hid his smile and said,
“Thanks Simon.  This hits the spot.”


“It's a good thing you're a good detective,” Simon
groused, glaring at the mug of coffee pointedly. 
“Look, Earl Gaines might want to talk to that Sandburg
kid.  Nobody seems to have an address from him.  Do
you know where he ended up last night?  I saw you walk
to the elevator with him.”


Jim frowned as he remembered the kid's nervousness and
the vagueness of his rambling.  “I didn't get an
address on him either.  I don't think he had any place
to go Simon.  I offered to give him a ride last night
but he turned me down and slipped away before I could
follow him downstairs.  I'd hate to think he was on
the street for the rest of the night.”


“Jim, I may have to take back that comment about being
a good detective.  You say you lost him?  In the
station?”  Simon chuckled but just shrugged his
shoulders, “Jim, you can't be worrying about Sandburg.
 You don't even know him.  He's smart enough to take
care of himself.  That isn't your job.  Why don't you
call Rainier and find out where this kid's living now.
 He said he taught there, he must have to keep them up
to date on his whereabouts.”


“Sure thing Simon.  I'll let you know,” Jim replied
and let himself out the door to set about this minor
task.


<>-<>


Where was this Sandburg anyway?  Jim had given up on
calling and went in person, questioning people all
over campus, in Hargrove Hall where his so-called
office was, then Prof. Stoddard, and Sandburg's
friends.  Only his mother was listed as family and she
was out of the country.  No one seemed to know about
last night except the Professor and everyone was
dismayed that Sandburg had gone 'missing'.  He didn't
know if the kid was really 'missing'.  It could be
that he just hadn't found him yet.  There was no
evidence of foul play.  


Ellison decided to return to the kid's office.  He was
almost at Sandburg's door when he stopped and
listened.  The quiet of the hallway aided his
concentration and his focus ... narrowed ... The door
flew open and a yawning, stretching, beard stubbled
grad student came charging out and almost crashed into
Ellison.  


“Man!  You scared me half to death!  Detective
Ellison? ... Detective? ...” asked the agitated Mr.
Sandburg.


Jim came back to awareness with a jerk, and with no
control over his temper.  He was furious with himself
that he'd lost it, and in front of this kid, “Where
the hell have you been Sandburg?”


“Uh, right here?  In my office.  I just got here
though.  I didn't know you were looking for me
already.  You said not to leave the country.  I
didn't.  I'm right here.  See!” Blair groused.  “It's
not like I had a lot of choices.”  Ooops.  “Sorry,
man.  It's just that it was late and I didn't want to
bother my Professor in the middle of the night or any
of my friends.  You know, they don't have much to
spare to help someone out in an emergency, but they
would you know, but I didn't want to call them in the
middle of the night . . .”


“Alright Sandburg.  Take a breath kid.  I was here
earlier, where were you ... no, never mind that now. 
Calm down, I'm not here to arrest you.”  Jim tried to
heed his own instructions to Sandburg and tried to
calm his own nerves, “My Captain just told me to find
out your address in case someone needs to ask you a
few questions.”  Privately, Jim was beginning to get
worried about Sandburg.  He was a smart kid, but even
smart kids could end up homeless, and that was
something Jim felt was upsetting to him, personally. 
He had to wonder about that.  He had no reason to feel
responsible for the kid.  “Look, I'll call my Captain
with your new address, then we can both get on with
our jobs.”  As Jim waited for Sandburg's address, the
kid stilled and looked around at his office door.


“Look, man.  I don't really have a place right now. 
Can't you just put down my office address and phone. 
I'm going to be, you know, kinda camping out here
until I get things straightened out,” Blair replied. 
“I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't mention that
to anyone here.  They'd frown on that kind of thing. 
But it wouldn't be for long, I swear.  I'll contact a
few friends today.  I can bunk with someone at least
temporarily.  I just didn't want to bother someone in
the middle of the night.” 


Sandburg ran his hands back through his long curls and
looked a little frazzled.  Jim thought he had to be
stressed about losing his home, although the state of
the warehouse, even before the fire, was dismal.  He
didn't need to report this to the University, he just
needed a way to contact him, and this would do.  “That
will be fine, but I expect you to call when you get
settled even if it's only temporary.  This case could
be going on for a while, so stay in touch.  Here's my
card.  Don't lose it, okay?”


Blair was so relieved, “Man, thanks.  I appreciate it.
 I'll get back to you right away.  Thanks, really
....”


Jim felt a rush of impatience.  He'd taken a couple of
hours just to track down this kid.  He knew Simon
would think that he had better, more important things
to accomplish today than that.  “Look, it's okay. 
Just call me like I said.”  He tried to disengage and
turned to make his way back to the lobby.  He stopped
abruptly because the kid was following him.  “Where
are you going?”


Blair did a double take, “Uh, to the gym.  I have a
class to teach and I need to freshen up a bit, you
know?  I just came in here to collect a spare change
of clothes I keep here for emergencies.”


“Oh.”  Jim turned back toward the exit wondering where
Sandburg had actually slept last night.  But, like
Simon said, it wasn't his business to worry about him.
 Then he did an abrupt about face, startling Sandburg
again.  “Look, you know the explosion and fire last
night were gang related.  If you see anyone
suspicious, don't take any chances.  Call 911, and
have them contact me.  The gang members would probably
know if someone else was using the warehouse, but the
rival gang might not.  If you see anything or anyone
out of place, don't hesitate.  Just call.”


“Oh man, oh man!  Are you kidding?  Like I don't have
enough to worry about?”  Blair spluttered as he
nervously glanced around the nearly deserted hallway. 
“I don't need, like, witness protection or something?”


“If my Captain thought so, you'd never have left the
precinct, okay?  You may not have had any useful
information for us but he doesn't throw citizens to
the wolves,” Jim answered, allowing a small grin to
appear hoping to ease the kid's fears.   He turned
away toward the foyer once again.


Blair thought for a moment, shoulders tense with
worry, then hurried after the detective once again,
with more questions to ask.


Jim, remembering something else, stopped quickly a
third time and turned around to have Sandburg plow
into him.  At the kid's surprised look he said, “Hey,
sorry, I just remembered something.  I talked to a
bunch of people at Rainier today.  They might have
gotten the idea you were missing because I couldn't
locate you.  I even talked to your Professor Stoddard.
 I hope that's not going to be a problem for you.”


“You're just full of good news!  Thanks a lot
Detective!  Do you KNOW how rumors get started? 
Excuse me I've got to straighten this out.  Man, I
don't know who to start with!  As if I needed one more
problem right now,” he muttered distraughtly as he
headed out into a lovely Cascade day.


Jim felt kind of bad but it was too late now.  He
could make a stop at the secretary's desk in the lobby
and leave messages for a few key people.   He really
had to get back to the PD and work.  And let Simon
know the kid's address.  That was the whole point to
this trip.


As he waited for the secretary he heard some panicked
gasps and Sandburg's frantic voice.


“No man, you don't want to do this.  Just put the
knife away man ...” 


Jim ran for the door, startling the secretary. 
Yelling back over his shoulder, “Call 911, armed
assault.  Detective Ellison responding to call.”  


As he rounded the corner Jim startled a knife-wielding
teen in gang colors, who took off into the bushes,
scattering coeds left and right.  He almost took off
after him but saw Sandburg slump forward over his arm.
 He'd seen enough to know the kid was hurt.  He yelled
out to one of the students to relay a message to the
secretary to make sure an ambulance was dispatched
too.  He moved quickly to Blair's side.  The kid
flinched at his approach, only seeing him as a fast
approaching figure.  “Chief, calm down, it's me,
Ellison.  Come on, talk to me.  Are you with me kid?” 
Sandburg was swaying and trembling with the adrenaline
surge and shock.  Hopefully he registered him as
non-threatening.  He took a step closer and firmly
gripped his arms.  He helped Sandburg back to Hargrove
Hall and settled him on the steps, keeping pressure on
the arm that would surely need stitches. 


<>


Jim stood with Simon and watched as the ambulance
left.  The connection with the drug lab explosion
seemed pretty definite, as Jim had recognized the gang
colors.  “Simon, I wouldn't give two cents for that
kid's luck right now.”                                
                                                      
                                                      
             

                                                      
                                                    “I
think he's going to need protection, Jim.  I'll
arrange it,” sighed Simon.  “It's funny what people
see and hear.  That secretary inside said she almost
didn't call it in.  Said that you came rushing up to
her desk like a 'crazy man'.  She didn't seem to know
anything was going on.”  


Jim became guarded, but replied, “Uh, Simon, I'd like
to follow the ambulance on down to the hospital and
make sure the kid's okay.”


Simon seemed to still be thinking about the secretary
and her comments as he considered the distances
involved and looked at Jim grinning, “That's pretty
good hearing Jim, or probably the kid was just yelling
for help at the top of his lungs.”


Jim had been impressed with Sandburg's reactions, and
didn't want Simon to have the wrong idea about the
kid.  He carefully replied, “No.  Actually he was
pretty calm.  Blair was trying to reason with that
kid.  Anyone else would have been screaming or
hysterical.  Not Sandburg though.  He was pretty gutsy
facing that kid with a knife like that.” 


Simon didn't argue.  What was important was that Jim
heard him.  He sent Jim on his way to the hospital. 
He could get Sandburg's statement at least.


Jim checked in at the registration desk.  Showing his
badge got him cleared to go to the trauma room when he
explained he was there to protect Sandburg until a
uniformed officer could arrive.


He arrived to hear the kid's mutterings about doctors
and modern medicine.  The doctor took it all in
stride.  An ER doctor must hear worse than that. 
Sandburg looked up with apprehension at Ellison's
arrival.  “Don't worry Sandburg, my Captain thinks it
would be safer for you with an armed escort for a
while.  A uniform will come to take over guard duty. 
After we're done here, maybe you'll feel up to giving
a statement.”


Blair felt pretty spacey right about then.  The shock
of the previous night plus the assault had left him
stressed, and the drugs the doctor had injected left
him floating, and confused.  <No home.  Possessions
burned up.  No money to replace home or possessions. 
No money for the drugs the doctor wanted him to take. 
No way to pay for the hospital visit.  Where was his
car?  No way to get home.  No money even for a bus. 
Wait, there was no home, remember?  And he hadn't even
eaten since yesterday morning.  Shit, Sandburg. 
Think.>  


When Jim didn't get an answer from Sandburg and he saw
the despair on the kid's face, Jim didn't have to be a
genius to know some of the things going through the
kid's mind.  He could make a few guesses.  The kid's
clothing told a lot.  The warehouse was a last resort
kind of 'residence'.  The car was a clunker, barely
road worthy.  He'd probably slept on the street last
night.  And he could definitely hear Sandburg's
stomach growling.  “Don't worry kid,” he said gently. 
“Let the doc finish up then we'll settle whatever
needs settling.”  When Sandburg just seemed confused,
he gave the doctor a questioning look.


“Detective, you can take him with you now if you'd
like.”  He went on to give Sandburg slow, careful
directions for the meds and wound care and told him to
come back in two days or see his own doctor. 
Privately to Ellison, the doctor revealed with a sigh
that the young man could use a good meal before going
back to the homeless shelter for the night.


Ellison steered the kid out of the hospital and into
his truck.  He climbed in and sat staring ahead for a
minute.  He shook his head at his own gullibility. 
Simon would never let him forget this.  He stopped at
a pharmacy then he turned his truck toward Prospect
St. and home.


<>-<>


Blair woke to the patter of rain and gusts of wind
beating at the windows.  That was normal for weather
in Cascade, Washington.  What wasn't normal was the
warmth.  He had a pile of blankets tucked around him. 
And that was weird.  Even Mom wasn't the 'tucking in'
type.  His eyes wandered around a room he'd never seen
before, but was in no hurry to leave just yet.  The
rain wasn't inviting at all, and that's all he had to
look forward to if he left his warm cocoon of
blankets.  But his awareness slowly grew and he began
to wonder where he'd ended up.  No student he knew had
a place this nice.  He couldn't seem to remember ...


“Sandburg, here's some coffee,” spoke a very cheerful
voice.


Blair sat bolt upright on the sofa, grabbed his arm,
and nearly passed out again from the pain.  


Jim muttered a curse to himself.  That's the way to
start, scare the kid.  “Sorry, Chief.  I guess you
don't remember yesterday afternoon, right?  Look, I
picked you up at the hospital and brought you to my
place.  I hope that's okay with you.  You still didn't
have a place to stay so I figured you could stay here
for a while.  You need protection for a while anyway,
you might as well be protected by me.  Are you okay
with that?”


“Here?  This is your place?  Man, I don't even know
you ... I mean, you don't know me.  Why would you let
me stay here?  In your home?” Blair ended on a very
confused note.


Jim looked at the kid, and asked, “Chief, I've talked
to a lot of people about you.  For the case, you
understand.  I get the feeling you're the type of
person that'd do exactly the same thing I did.”  How
could he explain why he felt comfortable with this
arrangement?  He didn't want the kid hurt any more. 
It was important to him.


“But ...”


Jim sat on the opposite sofa, “Sandburg, I've been
thinking about a few things.  After you were checked
out, there were assumptions made about you ... for the
case.  You'd lost your home.  You'd lost most of your
possessions.  You have a really crummy car ... don't
try to deny it!  Your bank balance is about zero ...
that's case related!  Drug dealers don't have zero
bucks in the bank, or crummy cars and ... never mind
all that.  Look, you just don't fit the profile of a
drug dealer.  Listen, these guys, whoever they are,
are after you.  If that doesn't scare you, it should. 
I'm just saying, I don't usually pick up stray grad
students, but, this once, I decided to make an
exception.  You needed a little help, and you needed a
safe place to hide out for a bit.  That's all I'm
offering.  You're free to turn it down, but I think
you couldn't do much better.  I can get you set up in
a safe house with someone to guard you if you'd feel
better about it.  It's up to you .... Look, I'm making
breakfast.  Drink your coffee and think about it, then
we'll talk.”


Blair wasn't sure what to say, so he just nodded a
yes, and sat back against the sofa.  He cradled his
wounded and heavily bandaged arm to his chest as he
held the warm mug in his other hand.  It smelled good,
and his stomach growled.  He turned when he heard
Ellison chuckle, and he gave Blair a warm grin as he
continued scrambling eggs.  Did he just hear my
stomach growl from over there?  He sipped slowly at
the coffee and gave serious thought to his
predicament.  He needed help, like he'd rarely needed
it before.  And Ellison, for some reason, was willing
to help him.  He was a little ... surprised.  Yeah,
that was a good word.  Mr. All-Business Ellison, a cop
that left bruises on Blair's arms at the warehouse,
wanted to help.  He'd been afraid of him that night. 
But not now.  And that flowered apron ... Blair hid a
grin with another sip.  Gee, let me think:  1.  I
could sleep in my office.  2.  I could sleep in my
car.  3.  There's a 'good' homeless shelter near the
Uni.  4.  Mooch off my friends, probably for a few
weeks or more.  5.  Safe house.  6.  Ellison
hospitality ....  He peeked again at the apron and
grinned.


It was a good breakfast.  Blair tried not to make a
pig of himself, but he was starved and Ellison kept
pushing the platter of eggs and toast and the jam and
orange juice toward him.  When they finished, he tried
to help with the cleanup but the cop just handed him
another cup of coffee and told him to sit.  He hadn't
realized how tired he was.  He sat and had almost
nodded off before Ellison was done.  He sat up with a
start when the guy pulled, gently, on his good arm and
grabbed his coffee for him, then headed over to the
sofa.  Blair was more than a little embarrassed as he
was tucked into a corner of the sofa with his feet up.
 


Blair grinned and shyly said, “I think it was the
apron that convinced me.”


Jim grinned and tried to defend himself, “It's just a
good sturdy apron.  Fits my size well.”


“Right,” said Blair with a smirk.  “Thanks, Detective
Ellison.”


Jim grinned back, “We can go a little less formal away
from the station.  You can call me Jim.  I'll schedule
a uniform to be here while I'm at work ...”


“Whoa, wait a minute.  I have things I'm responsible
for at the University.  I'm a TA, I teach and take
seminars, I tutor and have office hours.  I do
research.  I can't be locked up here!  Was that the
plan?” said a suddenly agitated Blair.  “I need to
keep those schedules, or I don't get paid.”


“Hold it Chief, I didn't realize you had those kinds
of responsibilities.  Let's talk about your schedule
and set up an escort for you.  We can do that.  But I
want you to seriously curtail any unnecessary
activities.  Prioritize them.  Remember they came
after you on campus.  Other people can be put at risk.
 You'd better talk to campus security.  In fact, I
should do that, I know the Head of Campus Security,
Suzanne Tomaki.  We'll work something out.  And I need
to check out a few other things while I'm at it.  I
know Suzanne can help me on that too.  Right now, I
think you should rest and you need to take some more
meds.”


“You know Suzanne?  I guess the Chancellor will hear
about this hunh?  Great, just great.  She hates me. 
She, uh, suspended me over a student named Ventris,
and then had to retract her decision.  This is not
going to go over well.  Sorry D-Jim.  It's just been a
bad ... day!  Only a day.  Man this sucks,” Blair
sighed despondently.  


After his meds Blair fell into a deep sleep.  Jim
worried about the frown lines.  But all he could do
was stand guard.  And take care of that call to
Suzanne, and one other thing.  He made a phone call. 
When the uniform arrived at the door, Jim woke Blair
briefly, explaining that he had an errand and had
arranged for a guard for him.  Blair drifted back to
sleep before Jim shut the door.


<>-<>


Blair set off the next day for school in his new
attire.  Nothing fancy, or he couldn't have accepted
the gifts from Ellison ... Jim.  A couple sets of
clothing, from the skin out.  He didn't know how he
was going to pay him back, but it was definitely going
to be soon.  This guy continued to surprise him.  Why
it didn't freak him out, he couldn't say.  He just
felt an instant kinship with the big guy.


Officer Dixon was his 'guard' for the day.  After his
morning classes he took him downtown where they met up
with Jim.  He arrived on the seventh floor, in Major
Crimes, with Dixon right at his elbow.  The mugshots
were depressing.  So many kids.  But the kid wasn't in
any of the books.  When asked if he would work with a
sketch artist, he agreed.  He'd remember those hateful
eyes forever, he was sure.  


He began to feel uncomfortable as everyone quieted
when they went around Jim's desk.  He saw their odd
looks.  It couldn't be his clothes today, being brand
new.  It was probably the hair and the earrings.  Oh
well.  He was the one attacked.  They'd just have to
adjust.  


Jim brought him a cup of coffee, which he gratefully
accepted.  Breakfast, again cooked by Jim, as his arm
was still sore, was great ... a lot of it, and enough
to fill two of him.  But he had no money for lunch,
the coffee would have to do.


On the way back to Rainier, Dixon stopped off at a
deli for lunch.  He made Blair come in with him.  He
knew he flushed a little when Dixon explained that
Ellison told him to make sure he ate and that he'd
reimburse him.  He'd just bet Jim was a real 'boy
scout', always prepared, never forgot anything.  He
hadn't ever had a friend that was so ... good a
friend, and he'd barely known this guy, what, two
days!  It was a little overwhelming.  But really nice.
 Common sense told him Ellison expected something in
return, besides a cash repayment.  But he was just
going to hope for the best and see what happened.


<>-<>


The uniform, Officer Dixon, stuck with Blair the whole
day.  He seemed eager to pass him off to Jim that
afternoon when he came to pick him up at Rainier.  


“What are you laughing at man,” asked Blair as he
suspiciously watched Dixon walk away mumbling.  Did
Dixon say something about him?


Jim grinned, “You must lead a hectic life Chief.  He
was just saying how he'd go home and rest by taking
care of his twins.”


“Hey, I'm not that bad.  And it was a slow day!  Uh,
Jim.  Was there any news on the case?” asked Blair
worriedly.


“Well, Dixon took you down to see mugshots just this
morning.  We were able to identify the kid from the
sketch, but connecting him to the drug lab will take a
little work.  We're making progress.  What do you want
for supper?  I need to pick up a few groceries before
we head home,” Jim asked as they headed for the loft.


<>-<>


Blair was working on grading papers at the dining room
table, and wondering what Jim was up to in his
office/storeroom under the stairs.  There was a lot of
thumping and bumping, and the one time he risked
sticking his head in to offer a hand, Jim had shooed
him right out again.  It looked like a serious
cleaning attack was going on and Jim was at ground
zero.  He was such a neat freak!


At about seven o'clock Jim came out, dusting himself
off and headed to the sink to wash up.  Then he headed
to the door, and opened it on a startled Captain
Banks, who was caught standing with his hand raised to
knock.  “Ellison, how the hell do you do that?” he
groused as he took several steps into the room,
stopping in astonishment when he saw Blair.  He looked
questioningly at Jim, and then suspiciously at Blair. 
That gave Blair bad vibes for sure.  Jim's boss didn't
know he was here?  And it sure looked like he didn't
approve.  Just great.  Blair was tired of dealing with
cop attitudes and he moved to gather his things up for
the night, although he didn't know where he'd go when
he was stuck with Jim being his guard.  The balcony
looked a little cold, but that's what coats were for. 
He needed to give them time to 'disagree' about the
situation in private.


Jim looked at him questioningly, “What are you doing?”
 And when he saw him grab his coat, “And where do you
think you're going, Chief?”


Blair just gave him a quick look, and a sidewise look
at Capt. Banks, “I just need some air.  I'll be on the
balcony.  I won't be out of your sight.”  And he moved
quickly to the door, but grabbed the afghan off the
couch first, then settled into a chair to watch the
city lights.


When Jim moved toward Blair, Simon waved him back,
“Let him go Jim.  I think we need to talk about this,
don't you?  This is pretty irregular, keeping the kid
in your own apartment.  What's going on?”


Jim looked a little sheepish as he answered, “I know
it's irregular, but the kid is practically destitute. 
And don't say it, I know there are programs to help
but I wanted to do it.  He's a good kid Simon.  I did
enough checking on his background that I can be pretty
sure of that.  I am a detective, and I'm not naïve. 
Actually, so far, we get along pretty good.”


Simon looked exasperated, “Jim, you haven't turned in
a voucher for reimbursement.  Isn't the kid wearing
brand new clothes?  How long do you plan to let this
go on?  Are you going to charge him rent?  For food
and utilities?  Anything?  He's taking you for a ride,
and I can't believe I had to say it!  What's gotten
into you Jim?”


Jim bristled at the accusation, for both Blair's and
his sakes, “Simon ...” he turned quickly to the
balcony.  He yelled, “Chief, get down!” as he rushed
to the doors and flung them open.  He grabbed Blair
and pushed him to the floor.  Glass shattered in the
doors, spraying shards over the living area, and
forcing Simon into a dive for the floor.  


Simon was on his phone almost before he hit the floor,
calling in a 'shots fired' call to dispatch.  “Jim,
are you alright?  Jim?” he yelled even as he reached
to kill the lights.


Jim had come up as soon as the lights were off,
searching for and finding the location of the shooter,
“There Simon!  On the roof, two buildings down, above
the florist's on the corner.  Watch Sandburg and tell
the backup I'm out there.”


Simon watched his detective with astonishment.  Two
buildings down?  On the roof?  In the dark?  And how
the hell did he know something was wrong even before
the shots were fired?  But he passed the information
on to the backup team that would be arriving soon,
because he didn't want Jim shot by mistake.  He looked
to Sandburg, and regretted some of his previous
thoughts.  The kid looked like he was hurt; he sat
rocking his bandaged arm and there was fresh blood
showing on the glaring white bandages.  He knelt by
the young man and called for an ambulance.


<>-<>


Jim led Blair into the loft.  A crew had taken care of
the glass and boarded up the balcony doors.  Not a bad
idea for the short term, at least until it rained,
which would be in a few hours.  But they'd done a fair
job of weatherproofing it with plastic too.  He guided
the kid to the sofa and got him comfortable.  He
thought uneasily that this was deja vu.  And he didn't
like it.  The kid didn't deserve this.


Jim persuaded the kid to stay home the next day. 
Blair had been  pretty shaken up by the previous
night's attack.  But later Jim got a call from Dixon
saying that Sandburg had received a pretty nasty
sounding call from the University and he had to
accompany him to a meeting with the Chancellor in an
hour.  Jim hurried to make that meeting, hoping to
deflect some of the enmity the Chancellor had for the
kid.  He needn't have hurried.  The Chancellor, Ms.
Edwards, was the type that called you in and kept you
waiting, after all 'her' time was important.


Dixon waited in the reception area when Blair was
called in.  Jim went in with Blair and waited to see
how this meeting was going to progress.  He'd read the
Ventris file, both the complaint by Sandburg and the
murder case.  Ms. Edwards had better not come down
hard on him.  He had a few things he'd like to say
about her handling of the situation.


Chancellor Edwards kept them standing and continued
her delaying tactics, playing with papers that she
stared at unconvincingly over the top of her glasses. 
Who did she think she was fooling?  


Jim moved into 'arctic offensive mode' while Blair
watched her with wide eyes and wildly beating heart. 
Heart?  Damn, now he was hearing the kid's heartbeat. 
He couldn't let it distract him.  Jim had come into
the room and stood just behind Sandburg, but now moved
forward, quickly, to loom over her desk, standing
rigidly, but staring down his nose at Ms. 'Frosty'
Edwards.  The move made her sit up and back.  Good,
she'd been startled.  One for their side.


Edwards turned angrily from Jim to Blair, “Mr.
Sandburg, your colleagues in the Anthropology Dept.
have informed me that they have tried to reach you at
your residence several times in the past two days to
reschedule a meeting.  You must know that ignoring
these communications goes against your contract.  Now
I've just been informed today of an absence, but I see
that you were well enough to make it to this meeting. 
And I don't know how you managed this, but the Primate
Lab is missing a monkey.  Do you have anything to say
about 'any' of this Mr. Sandburg?”


Blair looked like he was going to faint but he replied
steadily enough, “I'm sorry about these situations. 
But circumstances have caused a few problems and I'm
working on correcting them.  If I could be allowed a
few days ...”


Ms. Edwards lived up to my nickname of 'Frosty' as she
let every arrogant bone in her body stiffen in spite. 
“Mr. Sandburg, you may have all the time you need to
correct the circumstances ...”


Jim could see it coming and had to stop it, “Ms.
Edwards?”  He could be frostier by far.  He stared
down at her from his imposing height, flipped open his
gold shield and said, “I'm Detective Ellison, of the
Major Crimes Division.  Mr. Sandburg's residence ...
at which he could not be reached ... was blown up and
burned down.  I believe it made the front page of the
paper.  Perhaps you saw it?  It was a gang related
incident.  Since that time, Mr. Sandburg was assaulted
near the front steps of Hargrove Hall.  I'm sure Chief
Tomaki of Campus Security brought your attention to
that.  And that, too, made the headlines.  Not good
press for the University I'm afraid, with a TA and
student unable to go to class safely on the premises. 
I'm sure you've reassured the parents of other
students that this kind of thing couldn't follow their
child to their school.  But, to continue, another
incident occurred last night when Mr. Sandburg was
prevented from being shot in another attempt on his
life.  He is presently under police protection.  We'll
leave his phone number with your secretary.  He has
done his civic duty by supplying information and by
identifying his attacker.  I'm sure that your civic
duty would ensure your own cooperation with the
authorities.  I'll leave my card with you in case you
need to contact me, or you can contact Chief Tomaki,
who we are keeping apprised of the situation.”


Ms. Chancellor Edwards was a bit tongue-tied but
rallied, “I'm sure of my civic duty, Detective.  If I
have any further questions I will indeed call 'you'.” 
And with a dismissive air, to Blair she said, “You may
return to your duties Mr. Sandburg.”


Jim interjected, “I believe that your University
benefits package allows for an injured teacher to have
sick leave.  Paid sick leave, if I read the
information correctly.  Mr. Sandburg's arm has been
injured twice in as many days.  The doctor's written
instructions were for no lifting, little walking, bed
rest if possible.  Mr. Sandburg has been under severe
stress as I'm sure you understand.  When he sees the
doctor in two days, he should be released from bed
rest to light duties.  I'll see to it that you are
kept informed.  Thank you Chancellor Edwards.  If
there are no more questions, then we'll see our way
out.  Come Mr. Sandburg, Officer Dixon is waiting to
accompany us.”  And with a gentle, guiding, and
overtly respectful hand on his elbow Blair was
delivered to the reception area.


Blair waited until they were in Jim's truck, with
Dixon following in his car, “Wow.  Jim ... Wow.  That
was great.  I may not survive the repercussions but
that was great to watch.  Thanks man,” as he shook his
head in wonder.


Jim was quick to reassure, “You'll be alright Chief. 
I have a few connections too.  Don't worry.  And if
she does try to retaliate, you've got to promise to
let me take care of it.  What was said in there came
from me, not you.  I'm not afraid to straighten that
out with her.  Promise?”  Jim was glad to see that
Blair looked a little relieved.


<>-<>


Jim had an early meeting at the station.  He cradled
his first cup of morning coffee as he thought about
this latest bit of information, “Gaines, you're sure
this kid 'isn't' a member of the 357's or the Deuces? 
This just doesn't make sense.  Why was he after
Sandburg?”


Earl Gaines had perhaps spent too much time trying to
negotiate a truce in the gang wars.  He seemed nearly
burnt out, cynical, but he was dedicated to helping
the teens in his former neighborhood.  “I can't answer
that Ellison, but I'll ask around.  Maybe this kid,
Marco, has a grudge, or something.  I feel bad about
Marco.  I thought he might make it.  He seemed so
proud of his big sister getting a scholarship to
Adamson College in Seattle.  Their parents have done
whatever they could to keep their kids out of trouble.
 It's a damn shame.  Like I said, I'll ask around.”


“Ellison, my office,” bellowed his Captain, and
friend.


“Hey Simon.”  At Simon's sour look Jim amended that
greeting, “What's up Captain?” asked Jim warily.


“Just wanted an update on the drug lab case.” 
Throwing a few files on his desk he looked at Jim and
asked, “And how's your 'roomie' doing anyway?”


“The roommate situation is fine, Captain.  And the
drug lab case ... well it may be stalled.  Gaines is
working on a new angle on the Sandburg assault.  It
seems it may not be related to the drug lab at all.  I
hope he can come up with something soon.  You're not
going to be able to allow the protection for much
longer, right?” asked Jim, knowing full well that that
deadline was fast approaching.


“You know as well as I do Jim.  Just keep me updated,”
Simon said.


Jim headed back to the bullpen at the obvious
dismissal, worried about Simon's attitude about
Sandburg.


<>-<>


Blair had spent a lot of time thinking about Jim's odd
behavior's and reactions.  Jim's sensitivities at the
warehouse fire; outside his office the next morning;
hearing Captain Banks long before he got to the door;
then knowing there would be an attack and locating the
shooter from the balcony.  


Now Blair sat at his desk while waiting for a student
who seemed to be a no-show for his appointment.  He
was searching through a book he'd requested from
Special Collections at the library.  This was a
relatively rare copy of a monograph by Sir Richard
Burton, an English explorer who discovered Lake
Tanganyika with John Speke.  But Speke died in 1864,
and Sir Richard Burton died in 1890.  Like many people
Blair knew of Sir Richard Burton's translations of
“The Kama Sutra of Vatsayayana” and “The Arabian
Nights”, but he wasn't too familiar with his later
explorations.  Something just seemed to be nagging at
his memory, and he usually had very good recall.  Now
if he could just ... that picture, a tribal watchman
and his companion.  That's it!


<>-<>


Blair fidgeted all through supper and it was driving
Jim crazy.  “Oh Chief, I've got a bit of good news. 
You're buddy Larry has been 'taken into custody'.  By
now he's back in the Primate Lab, all safe and sound.”


Blair's grin was sincere but faded quickly, “That's
great Jim.  Thanks, man.”  And he returned to poking
at his food instead of eating it.


“If you have a problem, out with it Chief,” he said
with exasperation.


Blair wasn't at all surprised.  He knew his nerves
were showing, but he needed an opening and he guessed
this would have to be it, “Jim, uh.  Sorry, it's
something I've been noticing and thinking about for a
while and I did some research today.  You may not know
me very well yet, but I can't let something alone
until I've researched it to death.  Well, have you
ever heard of Sir Richard Burton?”


Jim raised his eyebrows at the lengthy and breathless
speech.  “The actor?” he asked suspiciously.


“No, no.  The explorer.  You know Arabian Nights, The
Kama Sutra ... Lake Tanganyika, East Africa ... Peru
...”


“Okay, okay, the explorer.  And the translator if I
remember correctly.  What brought that up?” questioned
Jim, with a frown.  He wondered where this was going.


“Well, I've been noticing a few things.  Odd things. 
Not odd!  No, no, just unusual.  And I had a few
questions.  I hoped you wouldn't mind my asking a few
... questions.”


“Like what?”


“Well.  I was wondering, especially after almost
getting shot on the balcony the other night.  Well,
you knew, didn't you?  Somehow you ... sensed ... the
attack.  I'd noticed a few other things, but that
really got my attention and I did a little research. 
You seem to have a more hyperactive sense awareness. 
You know, loud noises that shouldn't be loud. 
Smelling things that no one else can smell.  Weird
visuals.  Tastebuds off the map, right? I bet I can
add one more thing. A hyperactive tactile response,
uh, extra sensitive touchy-feely.*  What do you think?
 Does this ... sound ... what's wrong Jim?  Did I say
something wrong?  Look, you've been great, man.  If
you don't want to talk about it, fine.  It's your
call,” Blair franticly tried to calm a quietly furious
Jim Ellison.


“Sandburg,” Jim ground out, “That is off limits.  Over
the line.”  He threw his napkin down onto the table
and stalked to the door, grabbing his jacket on the
way, and muttering, “I can't believe you!  Simon was
right, this isn't going to work.”  The door was
'forcefully' closed as he exited.


Blair sat slowly at the table, considering the ruin
he'd just made of a really promising friendship.  He
should have waited, maybe.  Or shown him the book.  Or
just forgotten about the monograph.  He felt as
devastated as Jim acted.  He slowly put the leftovers
away, and cleaned up.  Then packed his few possessions
in his backpack and a grocery bag.  He took out some
paper to leave a note.


Dear Jim,  
I'm sorry man.  I never meant to upset you.  I don't
even understand why you were so mad, but, I'm sorry. 
I kept a record of how much I owe you and I'll repay
you as soon as I can.  I promise.  You did me so many
good turns, it's the least I can do.  If you need me
for the case, well, you know where my office is. 
Thanks for everything.  I really don't know what I
would have done without your help.  I only brought the
whole thing up because, if what I suspect is true,
there could be a danger you may be unaware of with
your senses so sharp.  I just wanted you to be
careful.  I hate to try to put this in a note, so
please call and let me explain that, at least.  And I
promise, I won't bother you again.   
Thanks again,
Blair Sandburg


Blair placed the note in the middle of the cleared
table, with the salt shaker holding it down.  It could
be important that Jim got his note.  He hoped he would
call.  He considered Jim a friend, even if Jim had
given up on him.


<>-<>


Jim left the bar after one beer.  He went outside and
listened as Blair's Corvair stuttered down Prospect. 
He was two blocks away.  Now three.  This was crazy! 
He heard too much.  Saw too far.  Smelled obnoxious
stuff and seemed to miss the roses.  And he itched. 
And even Wonderburger had paled to his taste. 
Sandburg knew somehow.  He thought he'd been careful. 
He thought he could control it.  Obviously he'd been
wrong on both counts.  


Sandburg!  Jim was supposed to be protecting him!  He
hurried to his truck.


<>-<>


Blair parked in a space allowed to TA's.  He sat a
moment to consider that he was almost as bad off as
the night the warehouse burned.  But he at least had
some clothes on his back, and his paycheck was still
coming, all thanks to Jim.  He slowly gathered his
things for the walk to his office.  At least it wasn't
so late that Hargrove would be locked up tight,
although there were few people on the paths this late.


It happened suddenly.  Blair's mind was elsewhere and
he never heard a thing.  He was grabbed from behind
and pulled off the bush-screened path, then pushed to
the ground.  Blair knew this had to be the same
attacker with the knife, but he had a gun this time. 
Blair scrambled back until he braced up against sturdy
tree bark.  “What do 'want' man?  Why?  I didn't do
anything to you!  Come on ... you need to think this
through.  You kill me and they could send you away for
life.”


“Shut UP Sandburg.  You're in with them.  Those gangs.
 They're dealing, man.  You too.  I saw you there that
night.  Talking to the cops.  Riding downtown and then
walking out, big as you please.  You're in with that
crooked cop, Williams.  You all stick together.  Scum.
 All of you.  People like you, you turned my sister. 
Got her hooked, man.  She was good.  She had a chance.
 Your fault.  Yours.  And you'll pay ...” 


And with one shot Blair was stunned into silence, and
everything faded into a engulfing blackness.


<>-<>


Blair woke the next morning and started to roll over. 
Ouch.  Ow ow ow.  'Then' he opened his eyes. 
Hospital.  Shot!  He was shot?  Who has luck like that
Sandburg.  Ow.  He looked around as much as he could
without moving his shoulder.  Not a soul in sight.  He
clenched his good hand for a moment then reached over,
rang the bell, and waited for the doctor.


<>-<>


The doctor told Jim that Blair would be released later
that day.  Jim had wanted to leave a message for
Blair, but didn't know what to say, how to apologize. 
This was his fault.  He had sat by the sleeping grad
student, holding that damn note in his hand.  Blair
had just been trying to help him.  If Jim hadn't
arrived when he did, Marco's aim would have been
better, and Blair would be dead.


He'd done something he'd never thought he'd do before
this, he revealed his sense problems to Simon, who was
understandably skeptical.  He'd just needed a 'few'
demonstrations to render him speechless.  He'd also
told Simon that Blair had guessed and said he'd wanted
to help, had warned him of a possible problem.  Jim
thought he already knew what the kid meant.  He'd
experienced a few 'problems':  spikes, mini-blackouts,
and allergies.  He hoped the kid didn't know of any
other 'problems'.  Well time would tell.


Thanks to Marco's confession, he'd spent all day
yesterday with Earl Gaines, setting up a sting for Lt.
Williams and the dealer he worked for.  After that,
there were reports to write and a truce between the
gangs for Gaines to begin to negotiate.  He had a
feeling catching a crooked cop would go a long way
toward Gaines' credibility with them.


And last night he'd managed to finish up that little
'cleaning' project.  He grinned to himself as he
remembered how Blair had been only too happy to avoid
it.  He thought of his roommate and what he hoped his
reaction to his new home would be.  He knew from the
note that Blair hadn't totally given up on him.  He
was kind of glad.

               
<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>
<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>-<>

finis

* Paraphrased from the pilot episode, “The Switchman”
Written by: Paul DeMeo and Danny Bilson
Directed by: Danny Bilson

Transcribed by: Becky