Summary: Why Blair lost his bounce, and how he got it back. Simon's POV.
Warnings, Ratings: FRT for content and profanity.
Note: Thanks, Raine (and everyone else that replied), for the very informative answer to my “consultant” question on Cascade Times.
Disclaimer: All characters, places, and objects from The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly Productions, UPN, Paramount and the SciFi Channel. No money is being made. No copyright infringement is intended. Any resemblance (of original characters) to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. No similarity to any person either living or dead is intended or should be inferred. This story was written by ljc with the love of the show in mind.
*KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK*
“Uh, come in?” Blair asked.
Simon could see the expression on Blair's face as it changed from hesitant reserve to recognition as he pushed his grumpy, six-foot-five figure through the doorway of Sandburg's basement 'office'.
“Sandburg,” he said shortly.
“Hey, man ... uh, Simon. What can I do for you?” At this point, all color drained from Sandburg's face and Simon belatedly realized what the kid had to be thinking.
“It isn't Jim, Sandburg. Take it easy. Jim's okay. Everyone's okay.” But Simon couldn't help a chuckle as he added, “Everyone except for that defense attorney down in Seattle. I'd bet that Ellison's doing his best to make 'his' day as miserable as possible.”
Blair took a moment to breathe, then took his hand off his chest where it had landed when fright had taken over. “Oh, yeah. Jim and defense attorneys. Right. Not a good combination. Well, good. You're here.”
“Good observation.” Then, thinking of their recent losses during Kincaid's takeover of the police station, Simon added apologetically, “Sorry I didn't call first ... sorry I had you worried about Jim.” Then added his reason for showing up unannounced, “I just stopped by because, well, I had some time to kill before a meeting with Chief Tomaki of Campus Security about the upcoming Governor's visit.”
Blair's grin returned although it was still a bit shaky, and he said, “Yeah, well, a surprise visit by the Captain of Major Crimes could lead someone to make erroneous assumptions.” Blair took a steadying breath then asked conversationally, “Well ... when is your meeting with Suzanne Tomaki?”
Simon sighed distractedly and deflected the question with one of his own, “Aren't you going to ask me if I'd like to sit?”
“Ah. Sure! Of course,“ Blair said as he moved to grab an armful of papers off the extra chair. He continued, “... although I don't remember you always asking me to sit when I go to your office. Besides, as you can see, there wasn't a clear space 'to' sit, and now there is, so sit ... Sir ... Simon. Would you like some coffee?” and asked once again, “How long before your meeting?”
Simon, for no real reason except his own embarrassment, postponed a direct answer once again, “Sandburg, when you come to my office it isn't usually for a social visit. It's semi-official business. And yes, coffee would be very welcome. And ... unfortunately ...,” and at this point Simon muttered, “the meeting is in two hours.” This was followed by a long-suffering sigh.
Blair's eyebrows rose in surprise when the last bit of information was finally delivered. “Two hours, and you want to spend it with me? Simon, no offense, and I'm glad of your company, but why would you want to spend two hours here? You must have a million things to do, people to talk to, reports to fill out, right? I mean, I know you haven't seen my office before, but it's certainly not on the Walking Tour of Rainier University.”
Simon tried not to look sheepish as he replied irritably, “I'm playing hookey, alright? Rhonda's the only one that knows where I am and she's sworn to secrecy. The Mayor has been hounding me about the Governor's visit for days. If I could slap him with a harassment suit, I would. And that comment is not to be repeated outside of this office. Understand?”
Blair chuckled, “I hear you! You have been a real bear the last few days.” At Simon's glare he continued, “Hey, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but I guess you do have good reason. You're welcome to play hookey and hide out in my office. I don't have much on my schedule for the next two hours, so 'mi casa es tu casa' as the saying goes. I do have a student stopping by in a little while. You can sit on the sofa and read or you can wander around Hargrove Hall if you like. There are exhibits all over the place, in practically any niche someone can find, but the session shouldn't last long and I don't think she'll mind if you stay. I just have to approve her final outline.”
Simon sighed in gratitude, “Thanks, Sandburg. You said something about coffee?”
“Sure, but it's not going to be a match to your flavored mixes.” With that warning, Blair turned to make a pot of coffee. He had just switched it on when the phone rang.
“Hi, this is Blair Sandburg.” Blair sat straighter in his chair as the voice on the other end introduced herself/himself. He glanced at Simon, but the Captain had picked up an artifact from the worktable near his seat. Simon politely pretended not to listen to the one-sided conversation.
“Ms. Bellows, it's good to hear from you.” ... “Yes, I discussed a couple of points with the editor, Mr. Bascomb.” ... “I know that the deadline is coming right up, just a few days, right?” ... “If it's just a clarification it shouldn't be a problem, Ms. Bellows. Hopefully I can take care of that today.” ... “Have Mr. Bascomb fax it to me, and I'll get right on it.” ... “Of course. I'll take a look at the notes on the paragraphs that need to be rewritten and call him if I have any questions. You have the fax number?” ... “Great. I'll certainly get that to you at least by tomorrow morning for Mr. Bascomb's approval. Thank you, Ms. Bellows.”
Blair ended the conversation and turned to start a frantic search of one of his file cabinets. Finding the folder he wanted, he sat at his desk and flipped through the pages enclosed. He hadn't said a word since he'd hung up.
Simon had watched silently during Blair's conversation and subsequent search finally coming to the realization that he'd been 'forgotten'. “Sandburg,” he said in mild irritation, “what was that about?”
Blair glanced up in surprise, “Oh, sorry. That was Muriel Bellows at Anthropology World. I sent them an article and they're going to publish it, but something needs a clarification. They're going to fax the details.”
“Then what are you working on? Did she tell you what the problem is?”
“Well, not exactly. I have an idea what it is. We'd discussed Mr. Bascomb's preliminary editorial comments. She'd said the editor might request a revision or at least a clarification. I have some notes ready ... unless she's got something else in mind. Damn, if it's something else, I might have a problem ....”
At that point Sandburg trailed off with his nose once again buried in his notes. Simon wondered fleetingly how Jim handled the grad student's quirky flights into la-la land. He didn't doubt that the kid was brilliant in his field, and Simon certainly knew the value of education, but the lives of his men were more often governed by common sense and street smarts, things that he feared this kid lacked. What he really feared was that Jim might suffer for it, or a case be lost because of a misstep.
In an effort to bring Blair back to the present he said, “Well, Sandburg, you'll find out soon enough. You said something about the deadline being a few days away.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I'll have time to fix it. It shouldn't be a problem.”
“Uh, Sandburg? ... Coffee's done.”
Blair's worry seemed to fade away as he grinned and said, “Right, and coffee can't wait.” Blair pulled two mugs out of his bottom drawer and took them to get them filled. He handed one to Simon and settled back at his desk.
There was a timid knock at the door. Blair looked up and smiled, “Holly, come in. You're right on time. Holly, this is Simon Banks....” After the introduction Blair spoke conspiratorially to Holly, “Simon's playing hookey from work. I hope you don't mind if he hangs out here while we're working.”
Holly looked at Simon a little nervously but returned a friendly smile to Simon and seemed to relax. “That's okay Mr. Sandburg. Hopefully this effort is better than the last one and I won't keep you too long.”
Blair said, “You seemed to be on the right track during the writing tutorial I gave last week. Let's take a look at your outline.”
“I'm sorry my last paper was so disorganized. I really appreciate you're helping me with it.”
As they settled down to work, Blair said, “Hey, I'm happy to help. That's why I give the tutorials. I've found that it never hurts to go over the basics. If you've got a well planned outline, then you'll do fine. All you have to do is not wander off topic ... like I do in class sometimes.” At this, Blair grinned and Holly relaxed even more.
Blair worked with his student and Simon sat quietly and leafed through a magazine to pass the time. Simon could tell that Blair was a little nervous with him watching. He contemplated a walk around the building but the thought of perusing artifact exhibits wasn't nearly as tempting as watching Blair Sandburg at work.
This was a lot different than seeing him work with Jim. At those times, Jim was the force to be reckoned with and Sandburg was in the background trying to keep his sentinel on track - or whatever he did. A little insight into Sandburg couldn't hurt.
The University was Blair's world, not Major Crimes, and Captain Simon Banks was the observer here. It felt a little weird. He glanced up at Blair and nodded to him, showing that he was paying attention. He almost chuckled at Blair's startled blink and thought, //Yeah, this could be fun.//
Holly was just saying goodbye when an agitated elderly woman hurried through the door. “Blair, my dear boy. I'm so glad you're here. I need .... Oh, excuse me! I didn't know you were meeting with someone.”
Both men rose, and Blair came around his desk, “Professor Peters, this is Captain Simon Banks. He's ... a friend. He had a little time on his hands this morning and stopped by for a visit. Simon, Professor Peters is filling in this semester for a friend on sabbatical. Did you need something, Professor?”
“Oh, my! Yes. 'That computer' is the bane of my existence. I downloaded some pictures for one of the graduate classes and now I can't find them. I really need those for my presentation this afternoon. You're so much better at computers than I am. I do hope you can help me ...” Blair promised to try to retrieve the file or files for her in time for the class and left Simon with an apology as he followed Peters to her office.
Simon watched knowingly as the kid worked his 'magic' on the Professor, quickly calming her nerves. He had seen Blair work with Jim often enough to recognize the signs easily. Simon barely stifled a laugh at the thought of Blair 'handling' Ellison like this elderly Professor, but he sobered quickly. Now that he thought about it, Jim was not the kind of person to 'allow' himself to be handled ... unless there was a good reason ... and unless the kid made sense. Maybe the force to be reckoned with was Sandburg. Hmm.
Simon, left to his own devices in Sandburg's office, was at a loss. There were certainly things to look at, but should he touch them? Sandburg's office looked like a cross between an archaeological dig and Daryl's bedroom on a bad day.
After becoming restless he stood and began investigating the contents of Blair's office, if only from a distance. Books, books, and more moldy old books, just like Jim described, as well as dusty old artifacts. Simon picked up a book titled “Everyday Toxins”, thumbed through it and set it back down again on top of “Bioscience Review” and “Sensory Defenses in an Overstimulating World”.
//Sensory Defenses, huh. I'd bet Ellison is the reason an anthropologist is doing research in medical texts.//
Then he came across a stack of exam blue books, and reports from students. He flipped through a couple of them, noting some of Blair's comments about errors, and his suggestions. They were interesting, but not enough to hold his concentration while he was waiting for Sandburg.
The phone rang, startling Simon from his thoughts. He glanced at the door hoping Sandburg would return. When he didn't, Simon decided he'd better answer it himself.
“Hello, Blair Sandburg's office. Simon Banks speaking. ... Just a moment. Let me write this down.”
Simon sat at Blair's desk and pulled open one of the side drawers looking for paper. What he found startled him into closing the drawer. He took a deep breath, opened another drawer a bit more slowly, found paper, and wrote the message.
After he hung up he stared at the first drawer for a moment before slowly sliding it open. Yeah. It was still there. No doubt about it. That had to be a fertility fetish. He suddenly laughed out loud then seemed to remember that he wasn't in his own office, and he was poking around in a desk that belonged to someone else. He looked up at the door. He thought a moment and pulled out a few more drawers.
Simon told himself he wasn't really searching for anything specific, but he knew from being a detective that you could piece a lot together about a person from what they kept in their desks ... what was important to them ... and what was not.
Simon's exploration made him wonder if Sandburg's desk was any indication of his living habits. If this was how he took care of his room at Jim's apartment, then how did Ellison put up with him? Simon 'knew' about Jim's color-coded Tupperware™ collection from poker get-togethers, and he knew that it had grown since Sandburg had moved in.
He had already found the usual: desk supplies in no particular order; scraps of paper; food wrappers; an odd package of what he hoped was tea - a quick sniff told him that it smelled like tea. With Sandburg being an anthropologist he wasn't surprised to find pieces of broken pottery, or even the twisted rawhide cord with a single flat stone with a carving of what looked like a wolf and a big cat.
//They were an odd couple of animals to picture together,// he thought absently before moving on in his search.
He pulled open another drawer that was much tidier than the others, in fact, each item seemed carefully placed and still wrapped in protective packaging. He found what looked like ear plugs, but on closer examination he discovered that they were white noise plugs, and they were top-of-the-line, too. Then he came across the tactical grade safety/sunglasses. He was familiar with those because they were made for law enforcement and the military. But why in the world did he have FDA approved Skin Decontamination Lotion made for military use? The package was labeled “intended to remove or neutralize chemical warfare agents and fungal toxins from the skin”? Where did he get this? And why? Simon went on to read, 'to be used in the event of chemical or fungal contact, to prevent irritation or sensitization'.
Simon sat back in the chair stunned as he realized these things were for Jim Ellison. He glanced to the medical texts and took a deep, shaky breath. Was all that necessary, or were they 'worst case scenario' supplies? Just how bad was Ellison's situation? When Jim talked about his enhanced senses he almost made them sound like some bad joke. Simon had never dreamed it might be 'that' serious. Did Ellison know what lengths Sandburg had gone to to protect him? Simon closed the drawer slowly.
Sandburg ... was ... the expert. Jim had explained it several times, or he'd tried to anyway. Maybe Simon needed to reevaluate ... again ... his impression of Blair Sandburg. Even after his help with the Switchman Case, Kincaid, and Lash, all he really saw in Sandburg was ... well, he was thinking “fluff”, but if he really thought that then he wasn't being honest with himself or giving the man his due. From what he'd already seen of Sandburg, he knew that he had kept his head in some very dangerous situations, and now, what he could infer from his own snooping around was that Sandburg was a serious scientist trying to protect his sentinel, their friend.
Simon slowly stood and wandered back to the shelves. He'd looked through a magazine that had an article he wanted to read.
When Blair came back ten minutes later, he was grinning. “Hey, Simon. I hope you found something to keep you busy.”
Simon saw that Blair immediately recognized the magazine he held. It contained an article that Blair had written last year. Simon found it very informative, and readable, too, even for someone unacquainted with anthropology. Blair seemed surprised to find Simon reading it, probably because Simon had never voiced any interest in anthropology in general, or Blair's work in particular.
“Just killing time, Sandburg. What else am I going to read in your office except anthropology journals?” Simon said a bit gruffly.
“Oh, sorry,” although he didn't look sorry.
“Nothing to be sorry about. What do I have in my office but journals on law enforcement? Besides, this is pretty interesting.”
Blair smiled and bounced up on his toes, “Really? That's great! I can recommend some that relate to police science and forensics if you'd like?”
Simon nodded, “Maybe I would ...”
Another knock on the door interrupted them, “Mr. Sandburg? These papers were just faxed to your attention.”
Blair took a quick glance at them, “Thanks, Jenny. I was expecting these. I need to send out a revision for my article ... today.”
Jenny smiled understandingly as she turned to leave, “Remember, 'we' leave at five. Set your alarm young man or I just know you'll be late, and I don't mean 4:55 either.”
Blair grinned back, “Oh, Jenny. You know me too well.”
A very flustered looking young man leaned through the doorway, “Excuse me. Sorry, Jenny. Hey, Blair! You have that report for me?”
“Sure, Jason. I've got it right here,” Blair replied as laid his papers on his desk and approached another of his file cabinets.
Jason glanced at his watch, “Hurry up. Please. You know how Professor Dennison is. If he has to ask for something, it's already too late!”
Blair grabbed a slim folder from the cabinet and strode to the door where Jason grabbed it and turned away nearly running down the hall in his haste, “Jenny. Sorry. Excuse me again.” And a faint, “Thanks, Blair,” could be heard in his wake.
Jenny shook her head gently and sighed, “I can't help but feel sorry for that boy. Professor Dennison is a terribly difficult person to deal with at times.” Turning toward the door she waved a brief farewell to Blair.
Glancing at Simon, Blair shrugged his shoulders in obvious sympathy, “Professors ... they can be a bit ... 'unconventional'. Jason's advisor is ...”
Blair seemed to consider his answer for a moment before saying, “Well, I'd say temperamental perhaps.” Blair looked consideringly at Simon before adding, “Professor Dennison is a man who enjoys his position of power.”
“Why do I think there's more to that story?”
When Blair only shrugged, Simon felt uneasy, knowing that Sandburg was always good for an offbeat story. There had to be a lot more to that story than an 'unconventional' professor.
“Why did you have his folder?”
Blair seemed to relax minutely at what he may have perceived to be a change of subject, “Well, the TA's take up each others slack. Sometimes we can't meet a requirement or responsibility and someone else helps them out.”
“Jason helped me out when, uh, Lash ... was in town,” Blair answered softly.
“Oh,” Simon said even more softly, and with a thoughtful expression. He didn't want to be diverted from Dennison, but this affected the 'sentinel' stuff. “Has that happened much ... I mean, with you having to help with Jim's work? Does someone have to help you out?”
Blair looked a bit uncomfortable but said, “Just a couple of times. But like I said, things even out with us.”
“Because you make it up to them.”
“Well, of course. They do favors for me. I return them.”
Blair looked worried suddenly, then said, “Oh, man! Speaking of favors! I have to run some papers down to the department secretary for Lauren. She's going to kill me if these aren't copied and collated by tomorrow morning.” Blair grabbed up a folder from the stack he'd removed from Simon's chair and dashed out the door. He returned for just a moment to say, “I'll be right back, Simon. Shouldn't take more than five - ten minutes.”
Simon had no time to answer as Blair disappeared once again. While he was waiting, he heard some angry voices coming down the hall. The voices paused outside Blair's office. Two young undergrads came in without even a cursory knock and Simon bristled at their demeanor.
“Can I help you gentlemen,” Simon asked stiffly.
“Where's Sandburg?” the first 'gentleman' asked abruptly.
Simon glowered at them but it didn't seem to affect them. They had something else on their minds, Simon assumed. “Mister - Sandburg is out for a few minutes. May I leave a message for him?”
The first 'gentleman' answered, “We'll wait!”
The 'second' whispered, “Come on. He's not going to change his mind. They already told you it had to be a medical dispensation or a family emergency.”
'First' turned to his friend but they both glanced at Simon. His presence had silenced what seemed to be a running debate.
When Blair walked into his office he said firmly, “Mr. Brice. I hope you're not here to continue the discussion. You've had the school policy explained to you. You've even spoken to the Dean of your College, which is not the most prudent thing to do since it's your chosen major. If you insist, I'll explain it again, but the answer is still the same. We're both bound by the procedures dictated by the University. You're required to take the exam with the other students or accept an Incomplete for this class.”
The young Mr. Brice seemed about to lose control of his anger until Simon stood to his full height and came to stand behind Blair. He spoke in a very 'captainly' voice, “Mr. Sandburg, as a police captain, may I be of assistance?”
'Second' blanched and backed up while tugging on Mr. Brice's sleeve.
Mr. Brice swallowed audibly but held his ground. Glancing back and forth between Simon and Mr. Sandburg, he said, “I've done nothing wrong. I - I was just asking ... one more time. I ...”
Blair interrupted, “Mr. Brice, it isn't a punishment. It's a responsibility. I'll see you both in class.”
After they left, Simon stepped up beside Blair and said, “He's still not very happy.”
Blair sighed wearily, “I know.”
Simon looked shrewdly at Blair, “Will he give you a hard time?”
Simon said, “If they do, just remind them that you gave me their names.”
“Really?” and Blair grinned. “Cool.”
“Don't they know you room with a cop?”
“Well, it's only been a few weeks. I guess it might have gotten around.”
Simon sighed in exasperation, “Then 'use' it.”
When the phone rang, Blair was in better spirits, but he immediately lost his grin and answered in short, clipped words, “Of course Professor. ... I'll be right there, sir.”
Simon looked at him questioningly because as soon as Blair had hung up he distractedly straightened little piles of papers strewn about his desk. Simon watched the strange un-Sandburg-like behavior a moment before asking carefully, “Sandburg? What's wrong?”
Blair suddenly stopped and placed his hands flat on the desk. “Uh, nothing I can't handle. Professor Dennison, Jason's advisor, wants to speak to me. He found out I did that assignment for Jason and freaked out. I just have to go meet with him.” Blair finally looked at Simon, “He's really not someone I'd like to work with regularly. I don't know how Jason stands it.”
Simon was getting an idea that didn't sit well with him. “Is this man dangerous, Sandburg? Tell me the truth.”
Blair glanced quickly away but answered firmly, “I can handle him, Simon. I'll be back as soon as I can. Just lock my door if you have to leave for your meeting.”
Simon could see the kid clench his hands as he walked toward the door. Simon made a quick decision. There was no way that he was going to let Blair go to that meeting without backup. When he left, Simon followed at a discreet distance.
Dennison's office was up two floors from Sandburg's basement office. Simon stopped in the stairwell and watched as the kid stopped just down the hall from Dennison's open office door. Sandburg seemed to hesitate before knocking on the door. Simon was glad he'd followed, even if it turned out to be nothing.
After Blair knocked, Simon heard a bellowed, “Get in here, Sandburg.” At that point Blair took a deep breath and went in the door, not bothering to close it behind him.
Simon had grimaced at shouted order. It had been bellowed much like Simon often did from his own office. He wasn't pleased at his comparison and he didn't even know the other man. He walked softly down the hallway. He could hear other people in their offices, and he wondered about all the closed doors. That didn't seem normal in a busy campus building during class hours. He wondered if Blair left the door open on purpose.
Simon stopped just short of the door. He was grateful that the glass reflected the people inside. Dennison was seated at his desk. From what Simon could see, the Professor appeared to be gray-haired but he looked in fairly good shape. He looked like he'd led an active life in his younger days. Now he just looked like age was catching up with him. He still had the breadth of an athlete but the girth had widened. When he finally stood Simon saw that he was close to Jim's height.
Dennison spoke firmly, but at least he wasn't shouting at the moment, “Well, come forward Mr. Sandburg.” Blair did take a few slow steps but stopped immediately when Dennison suddenly stood. The man quickly rounded his desk and strode right up to Blair. Dennison looked like he was about to pounce on the kid but Blair held his ground. Simon grimly continued to watch. He gathered that Blair was used to the man's intimidation techniques.
Dennison proceeded to direct a loud diatribe at Sandburg, going on and on about 'cheating' and 'infractions' and 'scandal'. He questioned Sandburg about the report he'd written for Jason, asked why he'd done it, why he thought it would be acceptable, stated emphatically that it certainly was not acceptable! But during all this Sandburg said nothing, in fact he didn't seem to react at all, which seemed to anger Dennison even more, to the point where he shouted, “Answer Me!”
//No wonder all the doors are closed on this floor,// Simon thought, //The man surely loved the sound of his own voice.//
At Dennison's abrupt question, Blair actually looked at Dennison instead of staring stoically forward. Sandburg spoke in a near normal voice, if perhaps a bit overly distinct and to the point, “Professor Dennison, it was a favor to Jason in return for a favor he did for me. If it's flawed then I'll gladly do it over.”
Dennison continued to try to browbeat Sandburg, “Do you think me a fool? I recognized your work immediately. Jason's work doesn't hold a candle to yours. But cheating is cheating. Do you expect me to accept a paper written for Jason by you or anyone else?”
Blair interrupted at this point, “Professor Dennison, I already said I would do it over if it wasn't up to your standards. If it wasn't acceptable for me to return a favor, then Jason will have to do it himself.”
Evidently Dennison didn't like to be interrupted. “This is flagrant cheating. I won't allow this kind of deception to continue, and neither will this University.” He leaned in closer and the innuendo was obvious, “How much did he pay you for this report? WHAT did he pay you, Mr. Sandburg? Or perhaps I should ask ... how?” The last was said with a smirk.
At that, Blair turned fully toward Dennison. They were practically nose-to-nose when Blair said coldly, “You have a lot of nerve insinuating that about Jason and me. And cheating? Do you really want to talk about cheating? This report was background research for a paper 'you're' writing. But this isn't about cheating, or Jason, or even about that report at all, is it Professor? Why did you really call me up here?”
Simon got ready to move. He'd seen enough to know that Dennison's temper was volatile. He was afraid that the professor didn't need any more provocation to violence.
Dennison started to circle Blair, and Sandburg turned with him. Blair obviously didn't trust the man out of his sight. Dennison gave up that tactic, rounded on Blair and said venomously, “Cheating is a serious offense, Mr. Sandburg.”
What happened next took Simon completely by surprise. There was an abrupt change in Dennison's demeanor. It seemed that he went instantaneously from being the seemingly outraged but arrogant professor to a man that was suddenly in full control. Dennison gestured grandly as if carelessly dismissing the problem under discussion. Now Simon began to see the 'real' Dennison emerge, the one Sandburg was really afraid of, as this new persona continued.
Dennison's voice was cold, disdainful, “You're quite brilliant in your own way, Blair. I've tried to guide your career through the years although you've disagreed about the course it should take. This ... this cheating scandal ... will ruin whatever academic future you might have had ... but ... I 'could' be persuaded to use my influence with the Chancellor. I've thought of a way for you to make recompense for this infraction. I understand that the work you did on your last expedition dovetails nicely with my latest project. It's possible that your field notes might be of use to me. If I could name you as my assistant, I could open doors for you ... and ... by accepting my generous offer, I might be convinced that you have some remorse for your unfortunate action. I might be willing to forget it even happened.”
Dennison smiled and said, “Of course, we'll need to work closely on this.” Then added almost regretfully, “Collaborative efforts often keep scholars such as ourselves working late into the night. My home office has most of the resource materials we'd need. We could work as ... late ... as we need to ....” At that point Dennison had reached up, seemingly to brush the hair off Blair's shoulder. Instead he touched Sandburg's hair and turned it into a more intimate gesture, like one would stroke a beloved. Blair stiffened in fright, then violently jerked away from the caress.
“Blair ... Blair,” he sighed sadly. “You know that I'm not totally unreasonable. We've had some very interesting ... discussions ... about ways to further your career. I'm just reminding you that those choices are still open.”
//That's enough!// thought Simon as he raged inwardly. He stepped through the doorway to interrupt this meeting before it could get any more ugly. Simon believed that Dennison must be aware that Blair was repulsed by his actions. He also believed that Blair was right, and the man enjoyed having power over others. Simon was suddenly glad that he was here to be a witness for Sandburg, because this Dennison was a slimy bastard. He needed to be stopped.
Simon heard the professor's last whispered vile attempt at seduction, “Such a beautiful, talented boy ... It would be such a waste to allow this charge to go any further. It isn't too late ...”
Simon had just cleared the doorway when he saw Dennison make a grab for Blair. Sandburg tried to twist away but Dennison was able to pull Blair against his body. When he forced his lips against Blair's, Sandburg franticly turned his head to the side and tried to shove him away but the professor was too strong. Dennison easily lifted Blair off his feet, so Blair dug his fingers into Dennison's face, his eyes. It didn't take much of that for the man to release him, but the man's rage was now freed from any constraints. The full weight of his body was behind the punch that landed on Blair's cheek, sending him to the floor. All this happened before Simon could shake off his surprise and lunge at them.
Simon grabbed one of Dennison's arms and twisted it up and back. He dragged him away from Sandburg with Dennison howling like a madman at every step. Simon said, “I'm Captain Simon Banks of the Cascade Police. You're under arrest for sexual assault and battery. Do you understand me? You fight any more and I'll add resisting arrest to the charges.” Dennison was not cowed, not at all. He shouted and struggled all the harder until Simon got his handcuffs on him and pushed him down, and held him spread-eagled on the floor.
Simon finally had time to look for Blair, “Sandburg, are you alright?”
Blair was white with shock, and held one hand to the already purpling injury. He answered, if somewhat shakily, “I - yeah. I'm okay.”
Simon prompted, “Hey, have you forgotten everything Ellison taught you? Call the cops, Sandburg.”
Blair edged around Dennison and found the phone on the floor, “Sure, I'll call Campus Security ...”
“No. The cops, Sandburg. You're pressing charges.”
Blair visibly gulped, but nodded. “I have to call Campus Security, too, Simon. It's procedure.”
“Okay. That's fine. Well, I guess my scheduled meeting is off for now. I'm going to have to meet with Chief Tomaki about another matter this morning.” After giving a quelling shake to Dennison, he added, “And it will be a pleasure, Professor.” Then Simon read him his rights.
Dennison may have been sprawled on the floor, held there by Simon's knee in his back, but that didn't shut him up. He shouted, “You can't do this. I'm a Professor. I have tenure.” He practically snarled at Sandburg, “You - you can pack your things. You'll be out of here before noon, you little bastard. You just wait and see.”
Simon nudged him none too gently in the ribs, “Don't talk to my Consultant like that, Dennison. He's a respected member of my department ... that would be Major Crimes, of the Cascade PD, and I'll have you know that I witnessed your harassment and your attack on Mr. Sandburg. He has a witness. And if I don't miss my guess, a lot of people on this floor and elsewhere at Rainier have witnessed a lot of your abuse. I'm sure we'll have enough to throw the book at you. How do you like that Dennison? ... 'You' just wait and see ... I am your worst nightmare.”
Simon was gratified that Dennison finally shut up at this point.
It was a long morning. Chief Tomaki arrived and took Dennison into custody until officers arrived from the PD. Campus emergency medical services arrived to tend to Sandburg. Blair protested going to the hospital but Simon insisted on documentation of the attack.
Blair finally agreed and Simon accompanied him. He knew that Blair really didn't want to go in the ambulance and Simon was feeling protective. The kid, Sandburg, had been through enough today, and Jim was in Seattle and wasn't available for escort duty.
After x-rays to rule out a fracture, pictures for documentation, a prescription for the pain, and an ice pack, Simon drove him to the PD to take his statement. Police procedure was followed 'to the letter'. Simon was quite insistent.
It was hours before Simon was able to drive him back to Rainier. Simon had already decided that he would check in with Chief Tomaki on a regular basis. He was going to keep an eye on this situation personally. He didn't want a backlash affecting Sandburg. Simon was beginning to understand that a university campus could be a closed society, too, and tenured professors had more clout than was sometimes good for them, or their students or adjunct faculty.
He watched Sandburg closely on the ride back. The kid was too quiet.
“Sandburg, how are you feeling? I hope that ice pack is making a difference.”
“Yeah, Simon. It's helping. The swelling would be a lot worse without it. I'm fine, really. Just thinking.”
Blair sighed and looked directly at Simon, “Jim.”
“What about Jim?”
“What are you going to tell him?”
“'I'm' not going to have to tell him anything.”
But Simon's thoughts were along the line of, //But he'll try to grill me for every detail anyway, AND he'll probably know the police report forward and backwards. I told Dennison I was his worst nightmare ... but that's only until Ellison arrives.//
Blair turned forward again and sighed.
Simon asked, “Don't you think Jim will understand?”
“He'll think I'm - I'm ...”
“He'll think you're a man that handled a difficult situation the best way he could. It's not your fault that Dennison was out of control.”
“I really thought I could handle it ... him.”
“You were right, you know. The man liked power over people who had little recourse to fight back. But you did fight back. Remember that. Jim 'will' understand, Sandburg.”
“There's still the University to consider.”
“Are you going to be in trouble for this? For something that wasn't your fault?”
Blair's gaze had no ease in it. “It'll be okay, Simon. Things will ... die down eventually. And, hey, I didn't thank you yet. I am 'so' glad you came to my rescue.” Blair suddenly asked, “Why 'were' you there? I left you down in my office.”
Simon grinned, “I'm a cop. I read the signs.”
Simon's grin faded, “The way you described Dennison, and the way you tried to hide that you were nervous when he called you to his office. That little delaying tactic just wasn't something I've ever seen you do. It was a little scary actually. I knew immediately that something wasn't right. I thought I'd just stay close. In case.”
Blair nodded, “You're a good detective, Simon.”
“That's why I'm the Captain, Sandburg.”
When they walked into Blair's office, Simon noticed that the bounce had totally gone from Sandburg's step. He couldn't help wondering just how serious this was, academically, for Blair. University politics were outside his realm, but dealing with the Commissioner and the Mayor had destroyed any altruistic illusions he had about elected public officials. Academic politics was probably just as bad.
Blair sat behind his desk and looked around his office. He sighed deeply before asking, “How long before your appointment with Chief Tomaki?”
Simon glanced at his watch, “About twenty minutes. I'll check in with you before I head back to the office. Are you sure you're alright?”
At which point the phone rang. Blair answered, “Professor Stoddard, good afternoon. ... Yes, I'm fine, really ... Eli, I didn't tell you because I thought I'd handled the situation between Dennison and me. There was no way for you to know ... I know. I'm sorry. You're my advisor and I should have told you, but what could you do? It was my word against his. ... Eli are you sure you should do that? ... But the Chancellor ... They really agreed? ... Th - thanks, Eli. That means a lot. Thanks.” Blair laid the phone down very gently.
Simon looked puzzled. “Sandburg? What did he say to you?”
It took a moment before Blair could speak, “He - he told me that he was behind me. He - he said that I should have come to him, that even if charges couldn't be brought, he could at least have had a private talk with him. He was glad to hear that I was alright. He'd called a meeting of the other anthro professors and had gotten them to sign - 'sign' - a letter calling for the Chancellor to fully investigate Professor Dennison's recent actions. It was also a letter of support - for me.” He looked at Simon, “It's unprecedented, Simon. What they're doing. For me.” At this last bit, Blair just shook his head as if in denial.
“It may be unprecedented, but I think it's long overdue. Dennison tried to exploit his position of power over you. He wasn't just physically and emotionally abusive, but was guilty of sexual harassment and sexual assault. The man wasn't even doing his own work but passing it off to his TA, Jason.”
“Yeah, but a lot of things get overlooked if you have tenure.”
Simon boomed out, “But - it - 'shouldn't' - be.” Simon looked a little chagrined at his outburst but relaxed when he saw that Blair was actually grinning.
“No, it shouldn't be. Thanks, Simon. Hey, you're going to be late for your meeting, and you've waited a long time for it. You certainly won't want to reschedule it again.”
Simon sighed guiltily, “I guess I have to quit playing hookey sometime.”
“Hey, Simon? One last question before you leave ... why did you tell Dennison that I'm a Consultant?”
Simon grinned, “You caught that, did you? Well, because you are. One of my best detectives has you for an unofficial partner. If you're going to be hanging around anyway, I should be able to use your talents, too. Besides, Consultant sounds better when you're out talking to witnesses and suspects, don't you think?”
Blair grinned, “Sounds great.”
Simon grinned back, “I might have an assignment for you, too.”
Blair's grin disappeared, “What assignment?”
“I think I should use your expertise to teach those blockhe ..., ah, detectives, how to write a better report. I heard you mention giving a writing tutorial when you were working with that young lady, Holly. You seem to have Ellison doing so much better, I thought you might be able to work the same magic on the rest of them.”
“Simon, I have to work with these guys ... and Jim does, too. Most of the them already wonder why I'm there.”
“Well, now you have a title. And an assignment. And I'll make it clear that I expect results from my Consultant ... and his students.”
Blair looked slightly horrified, but didn't say anything.
Simon glanced down at his watch and grimaced, “Don't worry, Sandburg. I know you've got a lot on your plate right now. Just write up a proposal and get it to me within the month. And I expect you to tell me if you need more time.”
Simon saw a look of relief on the kid's face and said, “Well, looks like hookey is just about over.” He stood and put on his coat. “You know, Sandburg, I think everyone should get to be the 'observer' once in a while. This has been an interesting day.”
Blair sighed, then muttered softly, “Yeah, Sandburg, ... 'may you live in interesting times' ...”
Simon looked at him thoughtfully, “I hope this wasn't a typical day for you. If it was ... I hope we've 'corrected' the problem.”
“Thankfully, no, it isn't a typical day. Usually I'm teaching, or taking classes, attending meetings, doing research or lab work, or tutoring. You just happened to catch me during scheduled office hours this morning.”
Simon's eyebrow had raised at the list but he just nodded thoughtfully when Blair wound down. When he reached the door he held up an anthro journal, the one with Blair's article in it. “Do you mind if I borrow this? It happens to have an article by someone I know.”
Blair looked pleased at the request, “Be my guest, man.”
Simon grinned and teased, “I just meant to play hookey, but I lucked out. I got to observe my observer in his natural habitat.”
“From one observer to another, then ... thanks again, man.”
“No, from a Consultant to the 'Captain'. That sounds better. Makes it almost sound like I was working instead of ... playing hookey.”
Simon hid a grin as he headed out the door and continued, “And I think that you've earned the title.”
As Simon walked down the hall, he could hear Blair say, “Blair Sandburg, Consultant!” Simon chuckled because it was so easy to imagine Sandburg bouncing excitedly on his toes. He was glad he could put that bounce back where it belonged.
After a few more steps Simon stopped grinning and groaned softly. He may have just made Sandburg's day, but he still had to meet with Ms. Tomaki, and then the Mayor ....
Paraphrase “intended to remove or neutralize chemical warfare agents and fungal toxins from the skin” from:
www. fds. gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2003/NEW00888 .html
Titles: “Everyday Toxins” and “Bioscience
Don't look for them. I made them up, but you can probably find something in a similar vein. There is one titled “Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight: What to Do If You Are Sensory Defensive in an Overstimulating World” by Sharon Heller.