by Southy

© September 2005

"Give me that man that is not passion's slave" -- Shakespeare


Blair was humming to himself, feeling lighter after a trip to the men’s room.

Just as he entered the bullpen, Jim brusquely yelled, “Sandburg!” He was in the process of hanging up the phone.

“I’m right here, man. What'd I do?” He really thought he’d started to fit in with the PD.

“You’ve put my butt in the fryer.”

Blair sat down next to Jim. “How?” He glanced nervously toward Simon’s office, but he could see through the open blinds that it was empty. It must have been whoever had just called Jim that prompted the trouble.

Jim sighed. “You didn’t return everything to Evidence that you checked out – in my name. They’re missing a flashlight.”

Was that all? Granted, Jim had good reason to be grumpy lately. The whole situation with Laura had left him feeling humiliated that his senses had prompted him to so easily fall for such a deadly vixen.

It didn’t help matters, either, that Carolyn Plummer had returned from her two-week vacation. Though she and Jim got along reasonably well for a divorced couple who worked in the same building, Blair couldn’t help but notice that there always seemed to be an unpleasant tension in the air whenever they were together.

And Blair didn’t buy that crap about how neither of them cared that the other dated other people.

Which was why it was stupid for people to get married in the first place. A lifelong commitment to one other person? Sex with one person for the rest of one’s life? No way!

“Oh, uh,” Blair reached for his backpack, “it’s right here. I needed it for a second and I put it in my backpack without thinking, and I never got around to returning it.” He unzipped a lower flap and pulled it out.

“You’re getting around to it right now,” Jim said. “So, get your butt down to Evidence and make sure you get a signature that it’s been returned.”

Blair left the seat. “I’m going, I’m going.”

He had to wait a long time for the elevator. Okay, Evidence Lock-Up was on the third floor. Did he turn left or turn right from the elevator? He couldn’t remember. The last time he’d been there, he was so excited about the idea that Jim might get “that feeling” from the crime scene items that he hadn’t paid attention to how he got there. 

He was alone in the elevator, so there was no one he could ask for directions.

The doors opened and he emerged onto the third floor. No signs. Okay, he remembered this from last time. There had been some moving of departments on the lower floors, and somebody finally decided the signs ought to be changed. So, the old ones had been taken down and the new ones hadn’t arrived yet.

This didn’t have to be difficult. He turned to the left and opened the first door that presented itself. Shelves of forms greeted him. This was some sort of supply closet.

Blair backed out and moved to the next door. It was locked. Probably a janitorial closet. After that were the restrooms. He passed them and opened the last door.

More shelves, but this was a larger room. Uniforms, boots and such. The lights were out, but he heard voices. Grunts.

Blair quietly stepped a few feet to the right, where there was a shelf at eye level with a couple of hiking boots to one side. 

The room opened into a space where there was an old copy machine. A woman with short dark hair was leaning against it, her skirt hiked up to her waist, revealing curvy buttocks.

Behind her, a tall black-skinned man was thrusting in and out, his pants pooled at his ankles. His hand had reached around to her naked crotch.

The grunts continued and Blair realized they hadn’t heard him come in.

Now the woman shrieked in orgasm. The man dropped his hand from her front and gripped her hips with both hands. He thrust powerfully and then he was groaning with deep satisfaction, and Blair felt his own penis twitch in envy.

Airy gasps now. 

“Oh, God,” the woman said, her upper body collapsing fully onto the copy machine. Then a breathy laugh. “You’re the best.”

The man chuckled now, and Blair felt a a bolt of electricity shoot up his spine at the familiar deep sound.

“Heh, heh. That’s just Shaft doing his job.” He hiked up his pants. “He likes you, Caro.”

Blair wanted to leave. 

He wanted to throw up. How could they do this to Jim?

He didn’t know how he could slip out without being noticed, now that all the noise had stopped.

Carolyn pushed herself off the copy machine and pulled her skirt down. Then she bent to pull her panties up her legs. “The best thing about doing it behind,” she said, still breathless, “is that there's minimal clean-up.” She turned and circled her arms around Simon’s neck, then purred, “Mr. Magic Fingers. My pussy’s been wet all day, thinking about them.”

“With talk like that, Shaft is going to be ready for round two.”

They kissed.

Blair bent low. He moved as far back as he could into the corner where the shelf met the wall. Still, the door was only fifteen feet away. How could they leave without seeing him?

He hunched down, trying to make himself as small as possible.

He listened to the familiar noises of a condom being dealt with.

“Maybe we can meet here again tonight?” Carolyn said. “I get off at seven. Nobody should be around.”

“We need to stop meeting here,” Simon said seriously. “It’s risky.”

“Of course, it is. But don’t start reminding me of Jim.”

“Caro,” Simon said in a warning tone.

She snorted. “He made love like he did everything else – straightforward, to the point, and with no imagination. No risk.”

Blair’s hand curled into a fist.

“He’s a friend,” Simon said firmly. “And a fine and decent man.”

“It’s sweet the way you defend him. I guess I did, too, in a sense. If I hadn’t felt so sorry for him, I would have gotten an annulment after our honeymoon. But I thought him being ‘decent’ would make up for the lack of passion. It didn’t.” Her voice became seductive. “But Shaft sure does.”

A deep chuckle. “Don’t start. I’ve been away from the office too long.”

“What about tonight?”

Simon groaned and Blair wondered what Carolyn was doing to him.

A moment later she said in a low voice, “I want to ride Shaft from the top.”

“Okay, okay,” Simon said, “I’ll be here tonight. At seven.”

Kissing noises.

Blair’s stomach clenched as footsteps moved toward the door. He bowed his head, wondering if it were possible that the dark corner provided sufficient cover.

They stepped into the aisle where he was.

He barely glanced up to see them looking lovingly at each other.

They opened the door, straightened their shoulders, and walked out.

Blair put a hand to his forehead and released a heavy breath. 

He spent a moment letting his heart steady.

Then the anger set in.

What should he say? To anybody? Carolyn? Simon? Jim?

Dear God, not Jim. Hadn’t Jim suffered enough humiliation with Laura?

How dare you, Simon. How dare you! And Simon would say, “It’s none of your damn business, Sandburg.”

Which it wasn’t.

Carolyn would have even less patience with Blair’s concern. She might even rub his nose in the fact that she considered Jim a lousy lay.

Blair felt his eyes sting.

Maybe the reason Jim was so unimaginative in bed was because his bed partner was so uninspiring.

What does Simon see in her?

What did Jim ever see in her?

She was feisty, that was for sure. Sexy, dammit. Took risks. Didn’t care about getting caught, it seemed.

Does she want to get caught?

They were going to rendezvous here tonight. What were the chances that he could find some excuse to bring Jim down here so he could see with his own eyes?

Jim would be furious… at him. He’d say it was none of his business – let alone Blair’s – what Carolyn and Simon did in their private time.

Or their work time.

And he would be so hurt. He’d never admit it. But he’d be so hurt that his ex-wife was fucking his boss… and friend.

Taking Shaft up her ass while Simon’s skilled fingers worked her cunt.

Simon certainly wasn’t innocent in this, either. 

Who had seduced whom?

How could Simon do this to Jim? At least he had enough conscience to feel uncomfortable when Carolyn had bad-mouthed Jim.

Blair shifted and felt his backpack. He may as well take the fucking flashlight back to Evidence, which must be located to the right of the elevators.

If only he had turned right when he first reached the floor. Then he never would have seen this.

He stood and and moved to the door. He pushed it open, and looked up to see Simon emerging from the men’s room. Their eyes locked.

They stared at each other.

And stared.

Simon’s wide, shocked eyes narrowed to smoldering anger.

In that moment, Blair realized the power he had over Simon. He might even be able to ruin Simon’s career with it.

Simon obviously knew it, too. Knew there was no way Blair would just now be emerging from that room without having seen him and Carolyn.

“Simon Banks!” a happy voice exclaimed.

Both their eyes darted to the new voice, a white-haired man in uniform. “Mike Hurley,” Simon said gruffly, holding out his hand.

Blair lowered his gaze and moved past the two men. He heard Hurley say, “What are you doing down here?”

“Oh, just looking for something in the uniform room. Didn’t find it though.”

Liar, Blair thought as he passed by the elevators. 

He opened the first door to the right, and there was the sergeant behind the desk. Blair fished out the flashlight and placed it on the desk. “I’m returning this. It was checked out to James Ellison.”

“Right. I gave him a call just a little while ago. He can be in a lot of trouble for not returning something like this.” The man eyed him. “I’ve seen you before, haven’t I?”

“Yeah,” Blair said glumly, having no desire for small talk, “I’m the one who picked it up when he checked it out. I’m working with him on a project.”

Why had he ever gotten involved with these stupid cops?

He snorted out loud, and then feigned wiping his nose since the sergeant gave him a dirty look.

What a joke of a brotherhood.

Of course, this kind of ‘incest’ within something like a police department really wasn’t that unusual.

Hurt or not, would Jim be surprised?

Maybe he already knew about Carolyn and Simon.

Blair wanted to believe that so much.

“Here you go.” The sergeant handed him a slip. “Tell Ellison he should take more care.”

Blair looked at the slip, making sure it was signed and specifically indicated that the flashlight had been returned. “Thanks.”
He left he room.


Simon and Hurley were just finishing their conversation. Hurley moved to the men’s room, and Simon turned to the elevators.

Simon hesitated when he saw Blair, but it was too late to pretend he was headed somewhere else.

With lowered eyes, they waited silently.

And waited.

There was a ding, and both looked up. An elevator opened. Empty.

They both walked into it.

Simultaneously, they reached for the buttons. Blair was closest, so his finger landed on “7” first.

They watched the doors close.

“How much did you see?” Simon asked in a level tone.

“More than I wanted to.” Blair realized his voice was trembling – with anger. He hoped Simon didn’t think it was from fear.

“Are you going to tell Jim?”

So Jim didn’t know.

“I-I don’t know.” He swallowed thickly. “Probably not.” He wasn’t sure he should have given that concession.

Simon took a step toward Blair and pushed the “Stop” button.

Blair looked up to meet his eyes, hating that Simon was so much taller than he was.

Simon looked down at him, his hands on his hips. “It’s not like Carolyn nor I wanted this to happen. We don’t want to hurt Jim. When you’re older, you’ll understand that these things happen to people, whether they want them to or not.”

Condescending prick. 

Yet, Blair could remember saying almost the exact same thing, when another teaching fellow was telling him how ‘awful’ it was that a professor was dating one of his students.

“When it comes to matters of the heart,” Blair had lectured, “our intellect doesn’t have any control over our feelings.”

What hurt now was that he genuinely believed it. Still.

He drew a breath, telling himself that Simon and Carolyn weren’t in love with each other – were they? — and so matters of the heart didn’t apply.

“If you tell Jim, it’ll only hurt him.”

“He may find out anyway, it you keep doing it on the premises. He has heightened senses, in case you forgot.” Maybe Jim did know – and Simon and Carolyn didn’t know that he knew.

“So you say.”

He hated Simon.

“Sometimes,” Simon continued, “I think your interest in Jim goes far beyond this senses stuff. Just what is it, Sandburg? A father-son thing? A big bother-younger brother thing?” Pause. “Or do you wish he was doing to you what I was doing to Carolyn?”

In that moment, Blair realized that Simon was jealous of the time he and Jim spent together. After all, before he came along, Simon and Jim used to socialize to some degree outside of work.

That knowledge allowed him to boldly say, “You’ll never know.”

Simon faced the front of the elevator again, though it wasn’t moving. “Sometimes I think you’ve got him totally snowed with this senses stuff.”

“You know that I haven’t. You seen them in action.”

“Only after you came along.”

Blair realized this was a stupid conversation. Simon was trying to attack him, to combat his extreme embarrassment and concern at being caught with Carolyn. It had nothing to do with what he thought of Jim’s senses.

Blair took a step toward Simon to catch his eye. “I’m sorry you think so little of him.”

Simon sighed. “Ah, hell, Sandburg, I don’t think little of him. I love Jim. He’s been a damn fine friend through some tough times. Don’t think this thing with Caroyln doesn’t weigh on my conscience.”

Blair felt himself relax slightly, now that Simon had admitted that. “You keep it up, he’s going to find out eventually. It’s not a matter of whether I tell him or not.”

“Yeah, I know,” Simon said wearily. Then, “It’s not going to happen again on the premises.”

That all sounded good, but Blair saw how seductive Carolyn could be. If she wanted it in the breakroom, she was going to make sure Simon gave it to her in the breakroom.

As with any man, Simon was a slave to the passion of the woman who wanted him.

Just as Jim had been enslaved by Laura’s pheromones.

Still, Blair thought proudly, Jim had overcome the affect she had on his senses, once Blair had convinced him of what was happening.

“Are you in love with her?” Blair felt he had a right to know.

Simon rubbed at his forehead. “I don’t know. I wasn’t ready for something like this. I haven’t wanted to think about it.”

Blair suppose that was fair enough. 

“Besides,” Simon said gruffly, “that’s none of your damn business.”

Blair reached to push “7”. The elevator started moving.

“Or Jim’s,” Simon added.

Blair nodded, certain that Simon realized that that fact didn’t make the situation any less of a problem.

The elevator ride ended all too soon. Simon exited abruptly and headed for the breakroom.

Blair walked briskly to Major Crimes.

Jim looked over his shoulder at him and grumbled, “Did you get lost down there?”

Blair forced a snort of amusement. “Sort of.”

“They don’t have signs down there right now. You turn right off the elevator. I thought you’d been there before.”

“I guess I had a brain fart moment.” He handed Jim the receipt. “It’s all taken care of.” After sitting down, his voice lowered to a whisper. “So, you can put your little sentinel’s heart at ease.”

Jim focused on the computer. “I have a big heart, I’ll have you know.”

Typical, contrary Jim. Blair smiled broadly. “It’ll remain our secret.”

Jim continued to punch the computer, and Blair fiddled with his backpack.

Simon came into the bullpen and continued on to his office.

“What’s wrong?” Jim asked abruptly.


“I can hear your heart pounding.”

Blair shrugged. “Nothing. Really, you can hear my heartbeat?”

“Yeah, if I focus on it.”

Distraction was called for. “Jim? Can we go out to dinner tonight? I’ll treat.”

Jim glanced at him. “What’s the occasion?”

Blair laughed nervously. “Nothing. I just feel like doing something different.”

“Chief, we go out to eat for probably eighty percent of our meals.”

Oh. “I meant… go to a different restaurant. Some place nice.” Could he afford this? “Some place we haven’t been to before.”

“I’m not going any place to pick up girls.”

“I didn’t meant that. I’d just… like to go out. Have a quiet dinner.”

“This is sounding like a date, Sandburg.”

Blair snorted. “Call it whatever you what. Come on.”

Jim shrugged. “I guess. Let me spend another hour looking up these primes.” His fingers stabbed at the buttons.

“Can I help?”

“Not really. It’d be nice if we could get you your own computer.”

Blair glanced around. All the other computers were in use. His eyes brushed past Simon’s office, and he saw that he was on the phone.

He wondered if Simon was telling Carolyn that Blair had seen them.

No, probably not. It was enough of a problem without Carolyn worrying about what Jim would think. Or what Blair would say.

He felt claustrophobic. He wished they could be away from here.

“Jim? Do you think it might be nice to take a few days off? Maybe a whole week? You know, like a retreat?”

“A retreat?”

“Yeah. Say, for your senses. I’m going to do some research and see what might be good for a sentinel.”

A shrug as Jim continued to click on the keyboard. “Whatever, Chief. I haven’t taken time off in over a year, so I have plenty of days coming.” He paused to muse, “Golfing might be nice. Do you golf?”

“Yeah,” Blair said with enthusiasm. Just twice. He wasn’t very good. But being on the fairway with Jim….

“What is it, Sandburg? A father-son thing? A big brother-younger brother thing? Or do you wish Jim would do to you what I was doing to Carolyn?”

Blair looked away. Then he gathered his backpack. “Since I can’t really help you right now, I’m going to go the library and research sentinel retreats. Will you pick me up there?”

“Yeah, sure,” Jim said, eyes on his computer.

Blair stood. Just as he turned toward the door, he caught Simon looking at him through his office window.

They ended up at a restaurant that served exotic meat and ordered venison. 

Once the waitress had taken their menus, Blair delved into conversation, for fear of Jim thinking him too contemplative.

He looked at the clock. It was ten after seven. He wondered if Carolyn and Simon were in that uniform room right now. Or if Simon had convinced Carolyn that they should only meet off the premises.

“Jim?” His heart pounded at the lie he was going to tell. “I have this friend who is in Sociology. He’s doing his thesis on post-divorce relationships. You know, how couples interact with each other after a divorce. I told him that I knew someone who had a good relationship with his ex-wife, even though they worked in the same building together.”


Nervous laugh. “He didn’t really believe me. I mean, he thought that even though you guys might seem to get along fine on the surface, that there was probably a lot of animosity underneath. So, I told him I’d ask you some questions about your current relationship with Carolyn. That is, only if you’re willing to answer, of course.”

Jim scratched his cheek. “That’s why you wanted to get dinner?”

Blair quickly held up his hands. “No, no. I just happened to see him at the library and it reminded me that I’d meant to ask about it. But it’s okay if you don’t want to talk about you and Carolyn. It’s not like he can’t finish his paper otherwise.” He watched Jim carefully.

Jim shrugged, the reverse psychology working just like it was supposed to. “I don’t have a problem talking about Carolyn and I. But I don’t know what I can tell you. We’re better friends now that we’re divorced and I don’t think there’s any internal secrets undermining that.”

“Well, obviously, since you’re divorced, you’re both free to see other people. But there was that time when she met Beverly Sanchez, and she was clearly jealous.”

Was Carolyn doing it with Simon to get back at Jim for Beverly Sanchez? But, if so, what would be the point if Jim didn’t know about it?

“She got over it,” Jim said easily. The waitress brought bread and he reached for it.

“What about you? Have you ever seen Caroyln with another man?”

Jim buttered a slice of bread. “No. But I know that she had a boyfriend for a short time, a while back.”

“Then how did that make you feel?”

“She had every right to see someone else.”

“Of course. But how did it make you feel? You weren’t jealous? I mean, that’s got to hurt… knowing that she’s enjoying being intimate with someone else, when she was once intimate with you. Didn’t you feel even a little bit possessive, just for old time’s sake?”

“No, I don’t think so. We were divorced. I didn’t expect anything else. How could I be hurt?"

“Jim made love like he did everything else. Straightforward, to the point, and with no imagination.”

Blair watched Jim chew the bread. “What about… if she started seeing somebody you knew? Say… Detective Brown. What if she started seeing Detective Brown? Wouldn’t that upset you?”

Jim grinned. “Henri? Believe me, those two would never get together.”

“I’m just speculating.” Show some imagination, Jim. “Just pretend for a moment. Wouldn’t it piss you off?”

“I can’t imagine that it would. It would be none of my business.”

“But wouldn’t you feel awkward?”

“Maybe just a little. But we’d all adjust, I’m sure.”

“Well, what about a best friend? Wouldn’t it hurt if Carolyn started seeing your best friend?”

Jim narrowed his eyes and learned toward Blair. “Are you trying to tell me something, Chief?”

Oh, fuck. He was Jim’s best friend.

He had no time to bask in the moment, for he needed to apply damage control. “No, no,” he waved his hands, laughing. “God, no. Carolyn is definitely, definitely not my type. No way.” He frowned. “Plus, I’d never do something like that to you. Never.”

Jim furrowed his brow. “Do what to me?”

“You know. Betray you. Screw your wife.”

Jim eyed him firmly. “Ex-wife.”

Blair commanded himself to relax. “I can’t imagine anyone doing that to someone they care about.”

Softly, Jim said, “Sometimes people can’t help what happens between them.”

His gaze was lowered, his expression distant. Blair suddenly realized that Jim had once done something that others would consider immoral. “What are you remembering?”

“Nothing.” Jim looked at him. “You’ve asked enough questions for one night, Chief. Let’s enjoy our dinner.” 

The waitress brought their salads.

That night, Blair was wide awake as he lay in bed, his hand behind his head.

Life didn’t make sense anymore.

Jim had slept with someone he shouldn’t have. Blair wondered when he’d find out the details of that event.

His attempt to get Jim to agree, however generically, that what Simon and Carolyn were doing was a horrible thing, had backfired.

Jim gave every indication that he wouldn’t be horrified. Or hurt. In fact, perhaps he himself had hurt someone else by sleeping with that person he shouldn’t have.

Blair felt so alone. 

No one else seemed concerned that Simon had had his cock – Shaft – up Carolyn’s ass.

So, why did it bother him so much?

It was disrespectful to Jim. It just plain was.

“What is it, Sandburg? A father-son thing? A big brother-younger brother thing? Or do you wish Jim would do to you what I was doing to Carolyn?”

Blair felt a calm come over him. He’d learned today that Simon was jealous of his friendship with Jim. After all, he was Jim’s best friend. He knew that now.

He’d never been a Best Friend before.

He curled onto his side, letting that fact wash through him.

Special as it was, it didn’t solve the other problem.

What would a Best Friend do about this problem?

Maybe it wasn’t a problem.

Maybe he should just let it go.

If Jim found out some other way, then so be it. There was nothing Blair could do about that. But neither was he going to prompt the situation to a premature conclusion.

Okay, he could let this go. 

Besides, Jim was (surprisingly) agreeable to taking some time off. Golfing could wait until later. Blair’s research had revealed quiet contemplation to be the best medicine for a weary sentinel.

Blair had just the place in mind.

The trick now was to get Jim to commit to a specific set of dates.

“Look, Chief,” Jim help up a form a week later as Blair entered the bullpen, “I’ve got my vacation time approved.”


“So, where should we go?”

“Jim, man, I’ll take care of everything. All right? Part of your vacation is that you don’t have to deal with any of the planning.”

Jim sighed wearily. “Somehow, I feel I’m going to regret this.”

Blair chuckled. “You’ll love what I have in mind. I promise.” Okay, maybe Jim wouldn’t, but they could have some wonderful alone time together. Out amongst nature. Shacked up together in small, intimate ‘cells’. They could call each other ‘Brother’.

“What is it, Sandburg? A father-son thing? A big brother-younger brother thing? Or do you wish Jim would do to you what I was doing to Carolyn?”

He quickly decided, A brother thing, Simon.

“Hey, Chief, I need to go down and assist Taggert with an interrogation.” Jim reached into his pocket and produced his keys. “I left a case file down in the truck, and I’ll need it to meet with Simon later. You mind?”

Blair took the keys. “Got it covered.”

He was thinking of all the things he and Jim could do – alone together – while staying at St. Sebastian’s Monastery. 

He emerged briskly from the elevator and into the parking garage.

And there was Carolyn, unlocking her car. Which was parked right in front of Jim’s.

She glanced at him. “Blair. Hello. How are you?”

Simon hadn’t told her. He wasn’t surprised.

“Fine,” he replied with enthusiasm. After all, he was going to have a whole week with Jim. “How are you?”

“Just a little frazzled,” she said, blowing out a breath. “I’ve got to head out of town tomorrow for a second interview.” She sounded proud.

“Interview?” he stopped a few feet from her.

“Yes.” She straightened and looked at him. “When I was on vacation in San Francisco, I interviewed with the PD there. They’ve asked me to come back for a second interview, so I’m flying out there tomorrow.”

Did Simon know? 

Did Jim?

“Keep your fingers crossed for me,” she said.

Blair nodded. “I will.”

She got in the car.

Blair moved on to Jim’s truck. He unlocked the door and retrieved the manila file on the seat. Behind him, he heard Carolyn leaving the parking garage.

San Francisco.

That would be the best place for her. For all their sakes.

Blair looked away from the TV. “Jim?”

Jim was sitting on the sofa, pizza toppings falling from the slice he pulled away from the box. His eyes darted to Blair.

“When’s the last time you talked to Carolyn?” Blair asked.

“I don’t know,” Jim said around a mouthful of pizza. “Why?”

Blair was already full. “I saw her in the parking garage today. She mentioned that she’s interviewing for a job in San Francisco.”

Jim’s brow furrowed as he swallowed. “San Francisco?”

“Yeah. Did you know about that?”

Jim shook his head. “I know she went on vacation to San Francisco a few weeks’ back. Her sister lives there now.”

“Yeah, she said she went on a job interview then with the PD, and now they want her back for a second interview.”

“Good for her,” Jim said sincerely. “I hope she gets it.”

“You won’t miss her?”

“We haven’t had all that much contact lately. There’s nothing to really miss, you know? I’m happy for her.”

Blair turned is attention back to the TV. “Yeah. So am I.”

The going away party in the Forensics lab was missing the guest of honor.

Blair overheard Serena Chang saying to someone, “I guess this whole thing was too intimate for her. She decided she had to leave yesterday.” Her voice was a touch snide.

So. Carolyn’s underlings hadn’t liked her.

As Blair took another bite of cake, he considered that she was one of those people who was determined to always improve her position in her quest for the top. And she wasn’t about to let a husband -- or a lover -- get in the way.

He wondered if Simon had put his foot down and barred them from seeing each other at the station. And, if so, if that’s when she had lost interest.

Blair glanced sideways at Simon. He was putting on the proper, enthusiastic sorry-to-lose-her-but-happy–for-her exterior, but Blair thought he looked a little shell-shocked.

A young long-haired brunette woman – Samantha was her name, Blair recalled – came up to him. “Hi. I heard that you and Ellison are leaving for vacation tomorrow.”

She was interested? He made a mental note of that. “Yeah, we are.”

“Where are you going?”

“Uh, I can’t really talk about it, because it’s sort of a surprise for Jim.”

She looked puzzled. Then she said, “Come say hello when you get back.”

Blair grinned. “Okay.” He watched her slender form move on to another group of well-wishers.

“I guess,” a quiet, deep voice said beside him, “that this worked out for the best, all the way around.”

Blair glanced at Simon, then focused on eating his cake, though he was no longer tasting it. “I guess it did.” Pause. “You were surprised, weren’t you?” He realized it sounded like a dig. Maybe it was.

Simon laughed softly. “Nothing Carolyn did ever surprised me.” More seriously, he said, “It’s not like she owed me anything.”

Blair looked up at him. “Not even a heads-up? Just for reasons of politeness?”

Simon shrugged. “Doesn’t matter now. I wish her well.” He turned away to greet some new uniformed arrivals.

Blair watched him and replayed the words in his head. 

Simon was hurt by Carolyn taking the job. He was sure of it.

What was Shaft going to do now?

Blair snorted at himself for wondering.

His shoulder was squeezed and Blair looked up at Jim beside him. 

“I’m going back upstairs to finish the report on the Alden case. Then we can split.” He squeezed Blair’s shoulder again. “I’ve already got my golf clubs loaded in the truck so we can start out first thing tomorrow.”

Blair restrained a sigh. He couldn’t bring himself to tell Jim that there wouldn’t be any golfing. He hoped that Jim would be too intrigued by where they were going that he wouldn’t have time to be disappointed.

Blair watched Jim make his way out of the room. 

He had been right not to tell him about Carolyn and Simon. He wondered why he’d ever even considered it.

“What is it, Sandburg? A father-son thing? A big brother-younger brother thing? Or do you wish Jim would do to you what I was doing to Carolyn?”

Blair shied away from examining those questions too closely.

He only knew of one explanation as to why Jim meant so much to him.


The kind that didn’t enslave men to passion. The kind that… just was.

The kind that made him want to protect Jim from what he had witnessed between Simon and Carolyn.

The kind that made him want to be around Jim all the time.

He’d earned that right. He had usurped Simon as Jim’s Best Friend.

He wanted to be everything that phrase could possibly mean.

And if Jim wanted to do to him what Simon had done to Carolyn… he would eagerly do that too. But, unlike Carolyn, he wouldn’t run away from the intimacy.

At least, he hoped that he wouldn’t.


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