Thoughts centering on his recent conversation with Joel, not to mention his earlier one with Megan, Jim left Blairís room and headed towards the elevator. Clutching his keys, actually feeling thankful to Megan for driving his truck to the hospital, Jim considered heading in to the station. Feeling a slight twinge in his arm, he decided to trust the investigation to the others for the moment. Contemplating the idea of stopping for something to eat, Jim walked out of the hospital.
Watching as Jim left, the man standing a few feet down from Blairís room pulled out his cell phone. "Itís me again. Ellison just left but it looks like Taggart is staying here. What do you want me to do?" After a few seconds the man said, "Itís your money so weíll play this out your way."
Having been unaware of the observerís presence, Jim walked over to the parking lot. Dialing up his sight, he scanned the area and quickly spotted his truck. He had just entered it and started the motor when his cell-phone rang. Using the next ring, Jim zeroed in on its location and opened the glove box. Pulling out the phone, he flipped it open. "Ellison."
After a few seconds of silence, a hesitant voice finally spoke up. "Jim."
Sighing, not in the mood to deal with this at the moment, Jim closed his eyes. "Naomi, Iím really not up to doing this right now. Besides, I thought that I made myself perfectly clear on Christmas. We donít need you disrupting our lives anymore. YouÖ" Pausing when Naomiís voice cut in, Jim listened for a while. "I really donít think thatís a good idea." Groaning, Jim tightened his grip on the phone. "All right! Iíll come. Where are you staying? Okay, Iíll see you in a few minutes." Hanging up his phone, Jim tossed in onto the seat and then pulled out of the parking lot. Despite his uneasy feeling, he started towards the location Naomi had given him.
Pulling up in front of the house, Jim turned off the truck and sat there for a minute before getting out. Walking up to the front door, his doubts about coming here escalated when a smiling Naomi emerged from the house to greet him.
"Jim, thank you for coming."
"Naomi, letís just cut the bull and get this over with. What do you want?"
Glancing around, appearing slightly nervous, Naomi said, "Why donít you come in and we can have a little talk."
"Itís about Blair."
Reluctantly, Jim walked up to Naomi. "Iím not staying long and this had better be good."
Moving to the side, Naomi allowed Jim to walk past her and into the house. After taking a final look around, she went inside. Closing the door behind her, she turned to face Jim. "I know that Blair was admitted to the hospital today."
"How did you know about that?" Becoming angry, his suspicions mounting, Jim asked, "Donít tell me youíve got someone spying on him."
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"I donít believe this!"
Crossing her arms, her posture becoming defensive, Naomi refused to be intimidated. "Heís my son and Iíll do whatever I think is best. Besides, itís a good thing that I do have someone watching over him or else Iíd never know whatís going on with him. Tell me something, Jim, when you found out that he was in the hospital did you even think about letting me know?"
"Just how in the hell was I supposed to do that? Most of the time, Sandburg doesnít even know where you are so how am I gonna find you?"
"You never even made the effort."
"What difference does that make?" Jim yelled. "Itís not like youíd bother to show up anyway. Canít have anything disrupt that carefree lifestyle of yours, can you? Always moving from place to place, from bed to bed."
Rushing towards Jim, Naomi slapped him across the face. "How dare you criticize me or my life? You havenít got the right."
Wiping his fingers across his mouth, feeling the blood that was trickling down his chin, Jim stared at Naomi. "So much for the peace-loving, non-violent hippie act, huh, Naomi?"
When Naomi raised her hand to strike him again, Jim reached out and grabbed her wrist. "I donít think so, Naomi." Tightening his grip, he glared at his partnerís mother. "And another thing, Iíve got every right to criticize what you do if your actions affect my partner. You almost destroyed us once and I wonít allow you to do that again." Releasing Naomi, Jim took a few steps back, putting some distance between the two of them. "This is your last warning. Stay away from Blair. Youíve done enough damage already." Turning his back to her, he walked over to the door. Opening it, he paused in the doorway and turned to look at Naomi again. "When are you going to get it, Naomi? A few months ago, you might have stood a chance but not now. No matter what you do, youíll never drive Sandburg and me apart."
After Jim left, Naomi rushed over to the window and watched as he got in his truck and left. "I will never stay away from my son, Ellison. I will get him away from you and Joel. You think that Iíve done damage already? You havenít seen anything yet." Moving away from the window, Naomi went over to the phone. "Itís me," she announced when the call was answered. "I need you over here right now. No I canít wait. I need you here immediately. Itís time for a change of plans." Hanging up the phone, Naomi emitted a cruel sounding laugh. "Yes, itís most definitely time for a change of plans."
His emotions in an uproar after the visit with Naomi, Jim almost went back to the hospital to see Blair. But knowing that his partner wasnít ready to deal with this yet, Jim resisted the urge to go bask in his guideís calming, soothing presence. Mentally and physically exhausted from the grueling events of the day, he turned the truck around and headed for the loft.
Barely managing to stay awake on the drive home, Jim parked the truck and then stumbled into the building and over to the elevator. Entering the loft, he shut the door and then leaned against it for several seconds. Pushing off of it with a weary sigh, he tossed his keys in the basket and then heeled off his shoes. Forgoing the stairs to his room, he went into Blairís room and collapsed onto his partnerís bed. Within seconds, he was deeply asleep.
Awakened by a loud banging noise, Jim mind was still fuzzy from sleep. Rubbing a hand over his face, he sat up and took a look at his surrounding. Blinking rapidly, it took several seconds for him to register the fact that he was in Blairís room. Shaking his head, he stumbled out of bed as another round of loud knocking sounded. "All right! Iím coming!"
Making his way across the room, nearly tripping over his shoes, Jim finally reached the door and flung it open to find two uniformed officers. "What do you want?"
Swallowing nervously, the younger looking officer pulled out his cuffs. "Are you James Ellison?"
Warily, Jim eyed the policeman. "Yeah, I am. But itís Detective James Ellison, Major Crime."
Briefly, the two officers exchanged a look. Then, the other patrolman stepped forward. "Iím Sergeant Watkins, Detective. Would you please turn around and place you hands behind your back?"
"Turn around and Ö Are you arresting me, Sergeant?"
"Please just cooperate, Detective Ellison. Thereís no need for this to get violent."
Stunned, Jim complied with the officerís orders. Flinching as the cuffs were snapped on his wrists, he asked, "Do I even get to know what Iím being arrested for?"
Grabbing a hold of Jimís elbow, Sergeant Watkins turned him around. "Attempted murder."
"Attempted murder? Of who?"
Shocked, Jim didnít fight as the two officers escorted him out of the building and placed him in the back of a police car.
Mind racing, Jim remained silent as they arrived at the precinct and he was put through the booking process. Now, using a paper towel to scrub at the ink coating his fingertips, he finally spoke. "I want my phone call now."
Pushing a phone across the counter, the booking officer said, "You can use this one, Detective."
Appreciating the gesture, Jim grabbed the phone. "Thanks."
Dialing the phone, Jim gave a silent prayer that someone would pick up. "Dad, itís me. I need your help. Iíve been arrested."
"What in the hellÖ" Williamís voice could be heard yelling.
"Just listen, Dad. Iím not at my precinct, so I need you to get in contact with Simon and have him find out what in the hell is going on. I can't believe this is happening. I need to be with Sandburg." Pausing for a moment, Jim listened to his father. "Simon will explain the situation with Blair. What? Oh, Iíve been arrested for attempted murder. Who? Why Naomi Sandburg, of course. Just call Simon and tell him whatís going on, okay. I donít know what little scheme sheís cooked up this time, but something tells me that this is one hell of a mess." Hesitantly, Jim added, "AndÖ um Ö thanks, Dad." Hanging up the phone, Jim looked up at the officer. "Iím finished."
"Iím sorry about this, Detective, but Iím going to have to place you in a holding cell."
Seeing the other manís sincerity, Jim resisted the urge to lash out at him. "Itís all right. Youíre just doing your job."
"Iím going to put you in a cell by yourself."
Nodding, Jim allowed the officer to escort him to a cell and lock him inside. After the other man had gone, he walked over to the bunk and sat down. Leaning forward, he rested his head in his hands. "What in the hell have you done now, Naomi?"
Slamming the phone down, Simon stood up and stormed out of his office. "RhondaÖ" Catching sight of someone entering the bullpen, Simon walked over to the woman and yelled, "What in the hell are your people pulling, Sanchez?
Calmly staring up at Simonís intimidating form, she replied, "I assume that youíre referring to Ellison."
"Hell yes, Iím referring to Ellison."
"Maybe we could go somewhere a little less public and discuss this?"
Glancing around, Simon finally noticed the attention they were receiving. "My office."
After they had entered his office, Simon turned his anger on the DA again. "Where do you get off having Ellison arrested?"
"It wasnít my decision, Captain." Walking over to the table, Beverly laid down her briefcase and withdrew several pictures. "About two hours ago, Naomi Sandburg was admitted to Cascade General." Holding the pictures out to Simon, she added, "As you can see, she has been beaten."
Going over to Beverly, Simon took the pictures and let out a gasp when he looked at them. "My God."
"Exactly," Beverly agreed. "The attending physician contacted the police. When they arrived at the hospital, they question Ms. Sandburg about her injuries. Apparently she was reluctant to talk about it at first, but after a lot of persuasion she eventually named Detective Ellison as her attacker."
"Are you believe her?" An expression of disbelief on his face, Simon threw the pictures down on the table. "Thereís no way that Jim could ever do something like that, especially not to his partnerís mother."
"What I may or may not believe is of no importance here." Taking a seat, Beverly stuffed the pictures back into her briefcase. "A cop has been accused of beating a woman. You know that, in a case like this, we canít afford to show any favoritism. Everything has to be done according to procedure."
"Come on, Counselor. We both know that procedure doesnít entail having someone arrested and booked within hours of an alleged attack based solely on one personís statement."
"In this case, my office felt that we couldnít afford to waste in time in bringing Ellison in."
"I can understand bringing Jim in," Simon said, "but you didnít just bring him in for questioning. You had him arrested and booked on a charge of attempted murder!"
Slamming her briefcase shut, Beverly stood up to face Simon. "It wasnít my decision!"
"Why do I get the feeling that thereís something more going on here than what youíre telling me?"
Briefly, Beverly glanced down before meeting Simonís eyes again. "What Iím about to say stays in this room, Captain." When Simon nodded, she continued. "I donít know who did it, but someone has already alerted the press about this. Before the officers even turned in their report on this incident, the press was already calling the DAís office asking questions. This thing is bound to be all over the front page tomorrow and the last thing the DA needs is bad press. There was a rush put on this whole case and if Ellison isnít careful, heís going to go down for this."
"And youíre going to be the one who puts him away?"
Shocked, Beverly was quick to defend herself. "No, of course not. Thereís no way I could remain impartial in this case. Not after Ellison saved my life before. I just wanted to come down here and let you know whatís going on."
"What about IA?" Simon asked. "Theyíre bound to be involved in this."
"Iím sure that they will conduct their own investigation. As for where theyíll go from there, your guess is as good as mine." Picking up her briefcase, Beverly started for the door then turned to look at Simon. "Look, my advice is to find Ellison a lawyer. Preferably one who has had prior experience with both sides of things in a case like this."
"What? You mean like a former prosecuting attorney?"
"If Ellison has a chance at beating this, thatíd be your best shot."
Waiting until after Beverly had left his office, Simon went over to his desk and sat down. Opening a desk drawer, he pulled out an address book and thumbed through the pages. Coming to the entry he needed, he picked up the phone and dialed a number. "Ben? Hi, this is Simon. Simon Banks. Yeah, it has been a long time. Listen, Ben, I need your help. Seems one of my detectives has gotten himself in some trouble." After a moment, Simon smiled and said, "Thatís great, Ben. I really appreciate this. Just call and let me know when youíre getting in and Iíll come pick you up. Thanks. Yeah, see you soon."
Hanging up the phone, Simon heard a knock at his door. "Come in!" When the door opened to admit Brown and Rafe, he asked, "What did you find out?"
Speaking for the two men, Brown said, "We questioned Greg Williams at the academy but before we could find anything out, his father showed up and hushed him up. Then, they high-tailed it out of there. Detective Williams told us not to try and question his son again unless a lawyer was present. But there's no doubt, Captain. Whatever's been going on with Sandburg, Greg Williams is right in the middle of it."
"That's right, Sir," Rafe agreed. "We wanted to stay and question some more of the cadets, but Captain Jones wasn't exactly being very cooperative. But we did get a list of Sandburg's classmates. We thought that we'd go interview them tonight. Maybe catch them off-guard by going to see them off academy grounds."
"All right," Simon replied. "If Jones gives you any more trouble let me know and I'll have a little talk with him."
"Yes, Sir." Then, after glancing over at his partner, Henri cleared his throat. "Um, Captain, when we got back to the station we heard someone say that Ellison had been arrested. Is it true?"
Standing up, Simon walked over to the detectives. "Yes, itís true."
Holding up a hand, Simon brought a halt to any further questions. "I know that you two want to help out Ellison. You can do that by continuing to investigate what happened to Sandburg."
"Yes, Sir," Brown agreed. "Weíll let you know when we find out anything."
"I wonít be here," Simon informed the two men. "Iím going to see if I can find out anything else about whatís going on with Ellison. But I will be calling in to see what you find out." Grabbing his coat, Simon said, "I think that weíve all got someplace that we need to be."
"Yes, Sir," both Brown and Rafe agreed as the three men left the captain's office.
Stopping by Rhondaís desk, Simon looked down at his secretary. "Iím going to track down Sheila Irwin and see what IA is up to. Then, I'm going to go check on Ellison. If William Ellison calls or if Brown and Rafe find out anything else, get a hold of me immediately."
Safely inside the elevator, Simon finally loosened the tight hold he had been maintaining over his emotions. Immediately after his fist impacted with the wall of the elevator, he hissed in pain and rubbed his knuckles. "What have the two of you gotten yourselves into now?" Then, he pulled out his cell phone and called the hospital.
Closing his eyes, Joel took a moment to digest the information Simon had just given him. Thoughts interrupted when the phone started beeping, Joel looked down and realized he still held the receiver in his hand. Hastily, he hung up the phone and then glanced over at his sleeping son. Relieved to find Blair's rest undisturbed, Joel laid his hand on Blair's forehead for a moment before pulling away. "Rest easy, son," he murmured.
Taking a final look at Blair, Joel left the room and headed for the nurses' station. Arriving at the desk, disappointed to find Sadie not there, Joel turned to the woman on duty. "Excuse me, Miss." When the young woman looked up, he smiled warmly at her. "I hate to bother you, but do you happen to know where Sadie is right now?"
Closing out the program she had been running, the young woman clicked the mouse one final time before facing Joel. "She was called down to the ER. Is there something that I can help you with?"
Torn between wanting to stay with his son and needing to go check on Naomi, Joel was indecisive for a moment. "Yes, you can. I need to find out what room a Naomi Sandburg is in. She was brought in earlier today."
"Just a moment, sir." Attention diverted back to the computer; the nurse pressed several keys in rapid succession. "Naomi Sandburg is in room 104."
Smiling his thanks, Joel said, "I need to go check on her, but I'm hesitant to leave my son. Do you think that you could check in on him in a few minutes? I won't be gone long."
Seeing the concerned expression on Joel's face, the nurse overcame her initial reluctance. "It's a slow night, so I guess that I can check in on him in a few minutes."
"Thanks, I really appreciate it." Giving the nurse one final smile, Joel turned and started toward the elevator.
Thoughts still chaotic, not knowing what to think about recent events, Joel distractedly entered the elevator and pushed the button for the first floor. When the elevator door opened, Joel hesitated for a moment and the door almost closed again before he managed to squeeze through out and exit the elevator. Taking a deep breath, trying to remain calm and centered, he started down the hallway. Scanning the door numbers, he stopped when he reached the door numbered 104 and simply stood staring at it for several seconds. Finally, he pushed it open and entered the room.
Even though Simon had told him a few details about Naomi's injuries, Joel still let out a gasp as he saw the full extent of the damage that had been inflicted upon her. Approaching the silent, still figure lying on the bed, Joel was filled with a feeling of rage. Eyes tracing the bruises marring the beautiful face of the woman he had loved, the woman who had given birth to his son, Joel hands clenched into fists. Not noticing when his fingernails pierced the flesh of his palm, he completed his approached and stood next to the bed. Gazing down at the battered visage, he let out a breath when Naomi's eyes' fluttered open. "What in the hell did that son of a bitch do to you? I swear, Naomi, I'll make sure that Ellison pays for this."
Reaching out, Joel gently grabbed a hold of Naomi's hand. Leaning closer when he saw that she was trying to speak, he brought his ear close to her mouth. "What? What is it, Naomi?"
Her voice choked by tears, Naomi squeezed Joel's hand. "Please, Joel, don't let him hurt me again. Protect me. Protect me from Jim."
Reaching up a shaky hand, Blair gingerly felt he forehead. "Man, I'd kill for some aspirin right about now." When he didn't receive any response, he cracked his eyes open. Squinting, the light causing a pain to spike through his head, Blair looked around the room. "Jim? Dad? Is anybody here?"
Struggling, he finally managed to sit up. Panting as everything started to spin, he closed his eyes. "Get a grip." Taking a deep breath, he risked opening his eyes again and was relieved that the spinning sensation had stopped. Pushing off the cover, he swung his legs over the side of the bed. Just as he was about to attempt to stand, the door opened.
"What do you think you're doing?"
Looking up, Blair saw a young, pretty nurse standing in the room. "Hey. Look, maybe you could help me here. I really need to get out of here. C'mon, can't you help me, NurseÖ"
"Murray," the woman supplied. "And no, I can't. You really need to stay in bed, Mr. Sandburg."
"Call me Blair. Please."
Smiling, Nurse Murray went over to the bed. "You really do need to rest, Blair."
"Okay, okay." Relenting, Blair allowed the nurse to help him lay back down. "But could you tell me where everyone is? Someone should be here. My dad or my partner."
Pulling the covers back up over Blair, Nurse Murray answered, "I don't know about your partner, but your father went to check on another patient. It's kind of strange though."
"Well, this other patient, she has the same last name as yours."
Bolting up, Blair asked, "You mean he went to check up on a patient named Sandburg?"
Attempting to ease Blair back down, the nurse replied, "Yes. Her first name is Naomi."
Pushing the young woman aside, Blair suppressed a groan as he struggled out of the bed. "What room?"
"Blair, I really don't thinkÖ"
"That's my mother!" Stumbling over to the closet, Blair threw open the door. "Are my clothes in here? Shit! Where are my clothes? I have to get to my mom." Spotting his clothes, Blair yanked them out of the closet and, unmindful of his audience, tugged off the hospital gown and started getting dressed.
"Really, Mr. Sandburg, you need toÖ"
Buttoning his shirt, Blair interrupted, "Just tell me what room."
"104. But I thinkÖ"
Not even bothering to put on his shoes, knowing that an attempt to bend over would send him sprawling, Blair brushed past the nurse and left the room. Ignoring the nurse's yelled protests, he hurried to the elevator.
Emerging onto the first floor, Blair frantically raced down the hallway. Passing by his mother's room in his haste, he quickly backtracked.
Stunned, he stood just inside the doorway and watched as Joel leaned over and pressed a gentle kiss to his mother's cheek. Anger filling him when Joel pulled back and he was presented with an uninhibited view of his mother's battered form; Blair rocked back on his heels. His anger quickly turned to shock when he heard his father pledge, "I swear, Starlight, I'll protect you. Jim Ellison will never be allowed to hurt you again."
"What in theÖ" Stunned, Blair struggled to get the words out. "What in the hell are you talking about?"
Turning to look at his son, sadness etched in his face, Joel reached out a hand towards the shocked young man. "Blair Ö Son Ö I don't know how to tell you this butÖ"
Hands upraised, Blair backed up a step, putting distance between his parents and himself. "I know you're not trying to say that Jim did this." His tone pleading, Blair addressed his mother. "Naomi, tell him that Jim didn't do this to you. Tell him! Jim didn't do this, Naomi!"
Voice strained, Naomi looked towards her son. "Blair, sweetie, I'm sorry. I didn't want anyone to know. I didn't want you to know because I knew how much this would hurt you."
"Naomi, whatever you're trying to pull here, just knock it off all right."
Taking a step towards Blair, Joel warned, "Blair, I won't have you talking to your mother like that. She's lying here hurt and she doesn't need for you to cause her any more pain."
Staring at his parents, Blair said, "You can'tÖ I don'tÖ Somebody please tell me that this isn't what I think it is."
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but I can't." Bringing tear-filled eyes to rest on her son, Naomi sobbed, "I didn't even want to tell those officers what had happened, but they just wouldn't leave me alone until I told them everything. I justÖ I just don't understand why he would do this." Turning to Joel, she pleaded, "Please don't let him come here. Please don't let Jim hurt me again."
Frozen in place, Blair watched as Joel turned and gently gathered Naomi into his arms. "I won't, Starlight. Besides, you don't have to worry about Jim. Simon told me that he was in a holding cell right now. You're safe."
Stepping forward in order to draw his father's attention, Blair asked, "What do you mean? Where is Jim right now?"
Still maintaining his hold on Naomi, Joel looked towards Blair. "Some officers took a statement from your mother after she was admitted to the ER. Ellison was placed under arrest and booked. He's being detained downtown right now. And, by God, if they let his ass out he'd better steer clear from here. If he shows up, I'llÖ"
"Whoa, wait a minute here." Finally moving, Blair went over to stand by his mother's bedside. "Naomi, are you telling me the truth here? Jim really hurt you?"
Still pressed against Joel's chest, Naomi twisted her head slightly until she was facing her son. "Yes, Blair, he did. I don't know how he knew where I was staying, but he just showed up. He told me that you had been hurt. When I grabbed my coat to leave, he asked me where I was going. I told he that I wanted to see you and make sure that you were okay. I don't know what happened next. He just seemed to Ö to snap or something." Pausing, her breath hitching, Naomi let out a sob. "Oh, God, it was horrible. He started screaming something about how I wasn't going to take his guide away and that he'd kill me before he'd allow that to happen. Then, he justÖ he just started hÖ hitting me. I struggled. I tried to fight him off, I really did. I even managed to hit him once, but it didn't even faze him. He was just too strong and there was nothing that I could do to stop him." Sobbing now, Naomi struggled to continue. "I thought that he was going to kill me. It hurt so much and he just didn't stop. But finally, he did. I don't know why, but he just stopped and left without saying another word. He just left my lying on the floor, bleeding and in pain."
Finishing her story, Naomi reached up a shaky hand and extended it towards her son. "Blair? Please stay with me, sweetie. I need you right now."
Hastily backing away, nearing falling, Blair shook his head. "IÖ I need to get out of here. I need some time to think. I can'tÖ I can't deal with this right now."
Disentangling Naomi's hold, Joel eased towards his distraught son. "Blair, I'm sorry that you had this dumped on you right now but you need to get back upstairs. You're hurt yourself and you need to be resting."
Speechless, Blair seemed to be held in place, mesmerized by Joel's advancing form. Just as the other man's fingertips grazed his arm, the paralysis broke and Blair ran from the room.
Alarmed, Joel started after his son but a soft voice halted his movements. "Joel, please don't leave me alone. I'm still so frightened." Torn, Joel hesitated a moment before going back to Naomi.
"It's all right, Starlight. I'm not going anywhere." Wrapping his arms around Naomi again, only the fact that Jim was currently locked up kept him from racing after Blair.
Emerging from the hospital, his mind filled with conflicting thoughts and emotions, Blair paused to take a breath. Then without conscious thought, he blindly started running; unaware that he was headed towards the police station. Stumbling, several times almost crashing to the ground, Blair ignored the stares he was receiving. Not paying attention to his surroundings, he fell backwards as he ran into a solid, unmoving object. Dazed, he squinted up and found himself staring up at Al Costello.
Grabbing the hand that was extended his way, Blair allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. "Al, thank God it's you."
Concerned over the other man's disheveled appearance, Al asked, "What happened to you, Sandburg? Are you okay? Why aren't you at the hospital?"
"I'm fine, but I need to get to Jim." Gasping as everything started spinning, Blair grasped Al's arm.
"I'm fine." Slightly out of breath, Blair repeated, "I'm fine. I just need to get to Jim."
"Look, my car isn't that far away. Let's get you over there and I'll take you back to the hosÖ"
"No! No hospital."
"You sure about that?" When Blair nodded slightly, Al relented. "All right. Let's get you over to my car before you fall down or pass out on me."
Tightening his hold on Blair, Al half-supported, half-carried the younger man over to his car. Once there, he opened the door and then helped Blair inside before jogging around to the other side. "Now tell me what's going on," he demanded after he was seated next to Blair. "Why aren't you in the hospital?"
Head leaned back, Blair didn't open his eyes. "You know that I was in the hospital?"
"Are you kidding? It's all over the station."
"Does everybody know about Jim too?" When Al didn't respond, Blair opened his eyes and looked towards the detective. "Well, do they?"
"UmÖ yeah, they do. They're saying that heÖ well, that your motherÖ"
"It's okay, Al, I know all about it." Looking out the window, not wanting to meet the other man's inquisitive gaze, Blair continued. "I found out about Naomi being in the hospital and went to her room. When I got there, she saidÖ She saidÖ Well, she told me stuff. Then Joel said that Jim was locked up. Is that true?"
"From what I've heard, he's being held down at the precinct on Vine Street."
"Then that's where we're going."
"Don't start, Al. I need to see Jim. When I see him, when I hear what he has to say, then I'll know the truth. I need to find out what happened."
"You don't believe your mom?"
"I don't know what to believe!" Voice lowered, Blair added, "I just need to see him, all right. Right now, I don't know what's going on, who to trust or what to think. So would you just take me there? Please."
"Buckle up and we'll get going." Waiting until after Blair had fastened his seatbelt, Al started up the car and headed towards where Jim was being held.
Lying on the bunk, arm slung across his eyes, Jim tried to dial down his hearing. Unsuccessful, he flinched as a particularly loud sound caused a spike of pain to pierce his head. Nauseous, his senses assaulted by the overwhelming sounds and odors permeating the air, he struggled upright and stumbled over to the toilet. Collapsing to his knees, he leaned forwards and began heaving.
"Jimmy, are you all right?"
Hearing the concerned voice, Jim rapidly blinked his eyes several times to clear the tears obscuring his vision. Finally bringing the speaker into focus, he attempted a smile. "Hey, Pop."
Turning to the guard standing beside him, William Ellison demanded, "Open this door this instant!"
"I'm sorry, sir, but I can't do that." Looking regretful, the guard explained, "I've got orders not to let anyone in or out of this cell unless it's cleared by District Attorney Simpson."
"Who's this Simpson?"
Instead of the guard, it was Jim who answered the question. "Trouble."
"He's a new DA," Jim explained as the stood up and slowly made his way over to the bars. "If he's in charge of this case, then I'm screwed. The guy has been trying to make a name for himself ever since he took office. Something like this, well I imagine it's just what he's been waiting for."
"I don't care what the pompous ass wants, I won't allow anyone to use my son that way." Meeting Jim's eyes, William said, "I know that you didn't do whatever it is they're saying you did, Jim. You're innocent, son. I believe that and no one will ever convince me otherwise."
"Thanks." Eyes downcast, it was a moment before Jim continued. "But right now, there's only one person whose opinion matters."
"Yeah." Looking up, meeting his father's eyes, Jim added, "Look, Blair is in the hospital right now. Simon did tell you about it, didn't he?"
"He just mentioned that Blair had been hurt and was in the hospital," William answered. "Something about an accident at the academy."
"He was still a little out of it when I left the hospital," Jim replied. "We're still waiting to get the full story."
"But you have some suspicions, don't you? Some idea as to what happened?"
"I think some of his classmates hurt him," Jim explained. "He's been coming home with injuries but he always said that it was just something that happened during a training exercise."
"You think otherwise?"
"Yeah, I do. I think he's been getting harassed. I was going to check into it, but then he was brought into the hospital today while I was there andÖ"
"Wait, why were you at the hospital?"
"It's just a scratch. Nothing to be worried about."
"Right now, I've got bigger problems than my arm."
"Tell me what you need me to do."
"I need you to get me out of here so that I can get to Sandburg before he finds out about this from someone else."
"It's too late for that." A new voice spoke up.
Eyes closing, Jim whispered, "Blair."
Stepping forward, Blair approached the bars but was careful to stay out of Jim's reach. "So, Jim, want to tell me why you tried to kill my mom?"
Intent on finding out what was going on, not to mention getting his detective out of jail, Simon didnít bother to knock before barging into Sheila Irwinís office. "You want to tell exactly what in the hell youíre planning to do about Ellison?"
When the Internal Affairs detective stood up and walked over to him, Simon noticed that she was not alone. When the man turned to face him, Simon started at him in disbelief. "Jim? What in theÖ"
"Thatís not Jim Ellison."
Turning to Sheila, Simon asked, "What are you talking about?"
"Thatís not Jim."
Eyes drawn back to familiar looking man, Simon studied him intently for several long seconds. After a careful examination, Simon finally noticed the little details that distinguished this stranger from Jim. "Who are you?"
Ignoring the question, the man directed his attention to Sheila. "So I guess this is Banks?"
"Yes, it is."
Finally standing the man approached Simon and came to stand almost chest-to-chest with the captain. "I'm Captain Vince Hunter and I've been brought in to investigate these allegations against Detective Ellison."
Expression hardening, anger filling him at the sound of the manís arrogant words, Simon turned to glare at Sheila. "I want to know whatís going on and I want to know now."
After glancing towards Hunter, Sheila faced Simon again. "Apparently, some people felt that Jim might not receive an impartial inquest if members of our department handled this investigation. There was some concern that we might be slightly biased towards Jim and that all the crucial evidence might not be considered as we reached a decision about what, if any, disciplinary actions should be taken against him. So the DA's office called in a special investigator." She gestured towards Hunter. "Captain Vincent Hunter is from Washington DC. And, like he said, he has been brought in to handle the investigation."
Frustrated, Simon pushed past Hunter and began to pace. "Exactly what is going on here, Irwin? This whole thing has been handled strangely from the beginning. Jim is sitting in a cell right now without even having been questioned. A judge has issued a warrant with only Naomi Sandburgís statement as evidence that Jim even did anything wrong. There is no corroborating evidence that indicates Jimís guilt. This guy has been brought in already and the case is only a couple of hours old. Doesnít any of this strike you as odd?"
"Iím just following my orders, Captain," Sheila defended herself. "I havenít even been allowed to view Ms. Sandburgís statement. Iíve been ordered to stay away from this investigation."
"Then why is Hunter in your office?"
"Captain Banks, Iíd suggest that you not involve yourself in this investigation any longer. Iím here and IA will be handling this matter. It will be strictly by the book. If your assistance is needed, Iíll contact you. Until then, you need to leave." Having issued his demand, Hunter crossed his arms and stared at Simon, seeming to dare the other man to contradict him.
"The man youíre talking about is not only my detective but my friend as well. There is no way that Iím letting you railroad him. Whatever you think that he did, think again. I know him and there is know way he would ever hurt Naomi."
"She says otherwise."
Walking over to a chair, Hunter casually sat down and then looked up towards Simon. "So what youíre telling me is that there is some bad blood between Detective Ellison and this Naomi Sandburg. Tell me, Captain Banks, exactly what is the relationship between the two of them?"
"Is this an official interview?"
"No, Iím just trying to get the facts straight. Figure out exactly who all the players are."
"Like you said, Captain, I shouldnít involve myself with this investigation so Iíll just leave until you can arrange an official interview. After all, we do want this done by the book." Satisfied by the irritated look that flashed across Hunterís face, Simon turned to Sheila. "Iíve always known you to be fair, Sheila. So even though you may not be directly involved in this thing, I trust youíll make sure everything is done right."
Taking that last statement as a slur against him, Hunter asked, "Just what are you implying, Banks?"
Keeping his eyes on Sheila, Simon didnít bother acknowledging Hunterís question. "Can you do that?"
"I wonít allow anyone to misuse this office, Simon."
"You may be opening yourself up for some fallout if you interfere."
Shaking her head, Sheila said, "If Jim is innocent, I wonít stand by and let him take the fall for something that he didnít do. But if he is guilty, then he will go down."
"All I ask is that you keep things fair."
"You have my word on that."
Nodding his thanks, Simon turned to face Hunter again. "I guess that I can tell my secretary to expect a call from you then."
"Count on it."
Unwilling to back down from the challenge, Simon continued to silently lock gazes with the other captain. After several seconds, during which neither man ended the standoff, the tension was broken by the sound of a throat being cleared.
"Captain Hunter, if youíll excuse me for a moment, Iíll escort Captain Banks to the elevator." Grabbing Simonís arm, Sheila steered him towards the door.
Not resisting the hold, Simon allowed Sheila to guide him out of the office. Once they were outside, he stopped and waited for her to speak.
Sheila released Simon's arm. "Youíre right, Captain. Something strange is going on here. Iíve already spoken to several people about it but I keep getting the runaround. Iíll do what I can here, but Iíd advise you to get Jim a lawyer fast. Someone is determined to see that he goes down, but I donít know who it is yet. Tell him to keep his guard up."
"You canít tell me anything?"
"I donít know anything." Came the exasperated reply. "IA should have handled the investigation before the DAís office even became involved. If this were any other situation or any other cop, no arrest would have been made yet. All I know is that before I even found out about Jim being arrested, this Captain Hunter shows up at my office and starts asking me all kinds of question about Jim and my prior involvement with him. Hunterís the one that told me about the attack on Naomi Sandburg and about Jim being charged with it."
"I donít like this."
"Me either," Sheila agreed. "All I can say is watch out because someone obviously has it in for Jim."
"So you donít think that he did this?"
"I admit that I really donít know Jim all that well; but from what I do know, I know that he couldnít have done it. He and Ms. Sandburg may have their differences, but thatís a long way from attempted murder. Besides, thereís no way Jim would do something that would hurt his partner." Pausing, Sheila hesitated before asking, "Does Blair even know whatís happened?"
"No yet. Heís in no condition to deal with this yet."
"I heard about what happened to him. Is he okay?"
"How did you hear about Sandburg?"
"There was some talk around the office."
"The thing with Sandburg is a whole other matter. By the time itís through, I imagine that some of his classmates will be in cells too. If Jimís still in there, hopefully theyíll wind up in with him. No court would ever be able to punish them like Ellison could."
"You really think that his classmates attacked him?"
"Yeah, I do." Sighing, Simon pinched the bridge of his nose. "Iíve got Brown and Rafe assigned to that case. Right now, theyíre interviewing the guy that brought Sandburg into the ER. Guyís name is Williams and it turns out that heís a copís kid."
"Why do I get the feeling that thereís going to be some trouble?"
"Probably because there is," Simon replied. "Of course, when Ellison and Sandburg are involved there always seems to be."
"Look, Simon, my advice is to get Jim out of jail and find out what his version of the events is. Hopefully, heíll provide you with some information that will help to discredit Naomi Sandburgís statement."
"What about setting bail or getting him out on his own recognizance?"
"I honestly don't know," Sheila answered. "But you might be able to swing it if your lawyer is good."
"He is," Simon stated. "Iíve got a friend coming in for this. His name is Ben Stone and he used to work for the DAís office in New York."
"For Jimís sake, I hope the guy knows what heís doing."
"Until he gets here, Iíd say Jim is stuck in a cell. After that, itís up to the judge."
"Well thanks for the help, Sheila. Right now, Iím going to go check up on my detective." Watching as Sheila nodded and then slipped back into her office, Simon started down the hallway. Trying to remain optimism, he couldnít help the small amount of doubt that crept into his mind. Knowing that his belief in Jimís innocence wouldnít be enough to clear his friend, Simon could only hope that they would find some proof to back up Jim's innocence.
"Blair, listen to me. IÖ"
"You what?" Blair wobbled as he took a step closer to the bars. "You don't hate my mother? You aren't angry at her for trying to come between us? YouÖ She says you hurt her, Jim."
"I didn't do it!" Jim gripped the bars tightly, his knuckles white. "You have to believe me, Chief. I'd never do something like that."
"I don't want to think that you could be capable of that, Jim." After a moment, Blair added, "But I also didn't think that you'd ever kick me out of the loft. Or that you would rant and rave at me in the bullpen. Or that you would say that you couldn't trust me. But you did all of those things, Jim. Why should I think that you wouldn't hurt my mom? I know she doesn't like that I'm gonna be a cop, but even she wouldn't do something like this." Blair's voice was full of confusion. "Would she? God, Jim, I don't know what to think anymore. Or what to believe. I feel so lost and alone."
"You're not, Chief. I'm here for you. I always will be." Jim cast a helpless look Blair's way. "You gotta believe that. You gotta believe me, Blair. You gotta believe in me."
"IÖ IÖ" Blair stammered as he stagger a couple of steps forward.
Pressed against the bars, Jim tuned into Blair's vital signs. Alarmed, he looked over at Costello. "Catch him!"
Costello shot a puzzled look Jim's way before glancing over at Blair. Seeing the younger man's pallor, the detective rushed to Blair's side only to catch him as he started to fall. Gently, Costello lowered the now unconscious young man to the floor.
Frustrated, Jim began to shake the bars imprisoning him. "Get me the hell out of here!"
"JimÖ" William began.
Jim ignored his father and yelled at the approaching officer. "Get me out of here now! My partner needs help!"
The officer skidded to a halt beside Blair and fell to his knees. "I can't do that, Detective," he answered even as he began to check the unconscious man's vital signs.
Jim growled causing all the other three to look at him in shock. "I swear, I'll tear these fucking bars apart with my bare hands if you don't let me out of here now!" Backing up his words, Jim renewed his struggles against the confining bars.
Hearing the creak of protesting metal, the officers looked up in shock. Just as he was reaching for his tazer, thinking it was the only way to restrain the enraged detective, he looked over in relief when he saw Simon Banks entered the holding area.
Having heard the commotion out in the hall, Simon stalked over to the group. Coming to a halt, he stared down at Blair and bellowed, "Somebody better tell me what in the hell is going on here!"
All four men started to speak at once, causing Simon to grimace. "One at a time! Jim, you start."
"I'll start after you get me out of here!"
Simon stared down at the officer kneeling by Blair. "Fields, get Ellison out of there." When the officer started to protest, he added, "I'll take full responsibility."
"Whatever," Fields muttered as he stood up and walked over to the cell. After he opened it, he was nearly knocked down as Jim barreled past him to get to Blair.
Finally free, Jim rushed over to Blair and kneeled down. Gathering his partner in his arms, he cradled Blair against his chest. "Chief, can you hear me?"
"Fields, go call for an ambulance," Simon ordered. When the officer left, Simon squatted down next to his friends. "Jim?"
"I don't know, Simon. Maybe it was the stress." Jim glared up at Costello. "He should still be in the hospital."
Costello held up his hands. "Hey, don't blame me. I was just on my way to the hospital when the kid comes stumbling down the sidewalk. I tired to get him to go back there but he was determined to come here. Shit, Ellison, you know how the kid is when he sets his mind to something. If I hadn't brought him, he probably would've hitchhiked."
Jim sighed up he reached up and laid a hand on Blair's chest. Calmed by the steady rhythm of his guide's heartbeat, Jim felt some of the anger leave him. "You're right, Al. I'm sorry."
"Hey, he's your partner." Costello shrugged. "We're cool."
Nodding, Jim dismissed the detective and turned his attention to Simon. "He thinks I did it, Simon. He thinks I hurt Naomi."
The other three men flinched at the raw pain in Jim's voice.
Simon laid a hand on Jim's shoulder. "I'm sure he doesn't really believe that, Jim."
"I hope so, Simon. I hope so."
"Jimmy," William tried to reassure his son, "everything will work out. You'll see."
Jim just continued to hold on to Blair, rocking them both slightly.
Looking up as the paramedics arrived, Simon stood up and moved aside to give them room to work. "C'mon, Jim, let them help Blair."
Instead of moving, Jim remained on the floor and kept cradling Blair.
"Sir, you're really going to have to move aside." One of the paramedics said.
All of them were unaware of the man that came into the holding area and moved back to stand in the shadows. Silently, Hunter watched the scene occurring before him. With a calculating look on his face, he saw the way Jim reluctantly lowered Blair to the ground and, with one final caress of the young man's cheek, stood and moved back to join the captain.
Supported on one side by his father and on the other side by his captain, Jim resisted the urge to go to Blair again as the paramedics began their examination. "Oh God," he moaned, "not again."
Alarmed, Simon readjusted his hold on Jim as the detective's knees buckled. "Jim?"
Determinedly, Jim regained his footing and pulled away from the two men. "I'm fine."
Aware that Jim would want to remain with Blair, Simon warned, "You have to stay here. You know that."
"IÖ" Jim's mouth snapped shut and an emotionless mask fell over his face. "Understood, Sir."
Shaking his head, Simon let out a sigh. "Look, Jim, I've arranged for a friend of mine to represent you. He's good. A former Manhattan DA."
"That's very good of you, Sir." Jim maintained his rigid posture.
Frustrated, the captain yelled, "Damn it, Jim! This isn't helping any."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Sir."
"And cut the 'Sir' crap, would ya?"
Jim turned to stare at Simon. "Whatever you say, Captain."
Simon threw up his hands. "I give up! The only one who can deal with you when you're like this isÖ" Trailing off, Simon stared down at Blair.
"My partner." Jim's voice was soft and Simon had to strain to hear it.
"Yeah," Simon watched as the paramedics loaded Blair onto the gurney, "your partner."
One of the paramedics looked up at the three men. "We're ready to transport him now."
"You need to take him to Cascade General, heÖ"
The man smiled. "We know all about it. When Dr. C. found him missing, she put out an all points bulletin. She'll be there waiting when we get him to the ER."
Simon nodded. "Okay."
"Someone needs to go with him." Jim looked over at his father.
William was unable to resist the pleading look in his son's eyes. "I'll go, Jimmy. I'll make sure Blair isn't left alone."
"Thanks, Pop." Jim's expression hardened. "While you're there, try to find Joel Taggart. I want to know what the hell he was thinking. I can't believe he let Blair just walk out of the hospital."
"Just calm down until we find out all the facts, Jim," Simon tried to placate the agitated man.
"I'll calm down when Blair and I are back home where we belong." When Jim took a step towards the gurney, Officer Fields stepped forward and restrained him.
"Sorry, Detective, but I'm going to have to put you back in the cell now."
Conflicted, Jim hesitated before finally allowing the officer to lead him into the cell. Once he was locked in again, he looked over at his father. "Keep an eye on him for me."
"I will," William promised. His focus on Blair, the elder Ellison didn't notice the man standing in the shadows as he followed the paramedics outside.
After the others had left, Hunter stepped forward. "Well, wasn't that a touching scene."
Jim looked up and found himself facing a mirror image. "WhoÖ WhatÖ" He turned to look at his captain. "Simon?"
A scowl on his face, Simon introduced the other man. "Jim, this is Captain Vince Hunter. He's with IA and he was brought in to conduct the investigation into Naomi's assault."
Mind reeling, Jim just stared as Hunter stalked over to the cell.
A smirk on his face, Hunter stepped up next to the bars. "Well, well, well. The mighty Detective Ellison." The IA captain gave Jim a once over. "You don't look like very much to me. But I guess it takes a big man to beat up on a woman, huh?" When Jim lunged forward, outstretched arms shooting through the bars to reach for Hunter's throat, the other man quickly retreated. "Careful, Ellison, I'd hate to have to add assaulting an officer to the list of charges."
"You son of aÖ"
"Just know something, Ellison. If you're dirty, I will bring you down."
"Wait just a damn minute, Hunter." Simon moved to place himself between the two men. "I won't have you threatening one of my men like that. If for one instant, I think that you're not conducting a fair and impartial investigation, I'll have your ass on a plane back to DC so fast it'll make your head spin. Am I making myself clear?"
"I don't answer to you, Banks," Hunter sneered. "And as far as this investigation is concerned, you don't have the authority to do shit."
"Really? Well we'll just have to see about that, won't we," Simon countered.
"I guess we will." Hunter looked over at Jim. "I'll be back to question you later, Ellison." The IA captain started to leave but then glanced over his shoulder. "I would tell you not to go anywhere, but in this case I don't think that'll be a problem." With a sarcastic chuckle, Hunter left.
As soon as his look alike was gone, Jim demanded, "Tell me what is going on here, Simon!"
"I don't know much," the captain explained. "I went to Sheila Irwin's office earlier to see how the IA investigation was going to play out. When I got there, that guy was sitting in her office acting like he owned the place. All Sheila could tell me is that a special investigator was brought in to handle the investigation I don't know why yet but I'm going to find out."
Jim locked gazes with the older man. "I've got a bad feeling about this."
Simon could only nod in agreement. As he started to say something, his cell phone rang. "Just a minute, Jim." An irritated expression on his face, Simon pulled out his phone. "Yes?" A grin appeared on his face. "Okay, Ben." He snapped the phone shut and put it away as he turned back to Jim. "That was Ben StoneÖ"
"Your friend, the former DA."
Nodding, Simon said, "Yeah. He was able to get an earlier flight. He's at the airport right now. I'm gonna go pick him up and then we're gonna see about getting you out of here."
"Wait a minute," Jim called out when Simon started to leave. "What about the investigation? Have Rafe and Brown found anything else out?"
"Look, Jim, I'llÖ"
"Tell me, Simon."
"Fine, but we're gonna make this quick." Simon walked back over to the cell. "They went to the academy and started questioning Williams. Before they could get anything from him, his father showed up and pulled him out of there. Tonight they're gonna go question some of Sandburg's classmates, see if they can get something out of any of them."
"Whoa, hold up a minute." Jim held up a hand. "How in the hell did Williams' father know to show up at the academy?"
"Evidently, someone tipped him off that Rafe and Brown were there interviewing his son."
Frustrated, Jim began to pace the cell. "And I'm stuck in this fucking place, not able to be any good to anybody. I can't be with my partner, I can't try to find the bastards that hurt him and I can't be out there trying to clear my name." Coming to a standstill by the wall, Jim punched it with his fist. "Damn!"
Concerned, Simon started to call for the officer. "FieldsÖ"
"Don't bother, Simon, I'm fine." Jim managed his reddened knuckles. "Just go get your friend and get me the hell out of here. I need to see Blair."
"I'll do my best, Jim."
"I know you will, Simon." Jim gave his friend a slight smile. "And tell your friend thanks for me, will ya?"
The captain nodded. "We'll be back soon to get you out of here."
Jim walked over and sat down on the bunk. "Yeah." Lying down, he slung an arm over his eyes. "I'll be out of here real soon."
Simon hesitated for a moment. Then, trying to shake off the image of his friend appearing so defeated, the captain turned and left.
"Real soon," Jim muttered. He closed his eyes, trying to get some rest, but all he could see was the look of shocked disbelief and hurt on his partner's face. "Please, Chief, don't give up on me now. Donít give up on us. I can't do this without you." With a heavy sigh, Jim turned onto his side. Drawing up his knees, he curled himself into a tight ball. Trying to block out his surroundings, he focused his sense of smell on his hands and the remnant of his guide's scent that clung to them.