Jim looked up from his examination of the desk, nodding. "I know, Simon. " He reached out and picked up the phone from Blair's desk, unscrewing the back. There was no bugging device, but as he focused closely, he could see two small fibers. Very carefully he pulled the fibers out and placed them into an evidence bag. "But I have reason to believe now that there was a tap on not only these phones, but my line back at the loft, too." He looked up at Simon. "I was right, someone's been inside this phone."
"Jim, that could be from anyone."
"I know." he replaced the phone and turned. "I'm finished here. Let's go check Wilson's."
They went upstairs and broke the seal on Professor Wilson's door, walking inside. Jim went straight for the phone, examining it closely before he opened the mouthpiece.
"So, where's Sandburg? I thought for sure he'd be trying to sneak in here with you."
"He's home. I told him he couldn't come down here, not during an investigation that he's involved in." He unscrewed the bottom half of the phone and peered inside.
"You mean he listened to you for once?" Simon sounded incredulous.
Jim looked up for a moment, "He listens to me, Simon. He just doesn't always do what he's told." Jim looked back to the phone. "So I handcuffed him to the bed."
"Here, right here Simon, look." Jim motioned for Simon to come closer. "There's blood in here. Not much, but blood."
Simon peered in to the open end of the phone, squinting. "Not much indeed. But if the killer opened that, there should be blood on the outside of the phone as well. Forensics didn't find blood on the phone."
"I know, but I don't think the killer did. I don't think this is Wilson's blood Simon. I think whoever put the bug in here, cut his hand. Either putting it in or taking it out."
"Wait a minute...He?"
Jim nodded. "Yes. Kathy Fisher has a boyfriend. He just happens to be a Communications Major. I think he bugged Blair's phone, and Wilson's, and even our line back at the loft. I think they were recording conversations from Wilson and Blair, and then spliced together enough to sound like a fight between the two of them. Then, Ms Fisher plays the tape back, while she's in the room."
"And adds enough of her own comments to make it sound like the three of them are in the room?"
"Yep." Jim unplugged the handset and placed it in a plastic evidence bag. "There just might be enough here for the FBI crime lab to get a DNA sample from."
"I don't know Jim, that's an awfully small amount." Simon paused, thinking. "If we could get audio samples of these taped conversations, the originals that they dubbed from, then we'd have something. You're sure it's Kathy Fisher?"
"I'm sure, Simon. And I do have a tape."
"What? A tape Kathy Fisher made? But I still don't see her as the killer. She had everything to lose."
"She had motive, being passed over on the papers Wilson published. She had opportunity, being here that night with Wilson, and knowing Blair was downstairs. Her boyfriend probably had some sort of feed back unit that could send a signal back in to the phone bug, making the phone not work, just in case Blair were to get a call, placing him in his office at the time of the murder, or calling him away before she could do it. And just in case, someone put just enough sugar in Sandburg's gas tank to make his car die a slow death on the way home. She got the grant, and seems very anxious to get to South America, where we couldn't get to her. And, those spots of blood in the hallway, they were stepped in by a flat shoe, one with no sole. Kathy Fisher just happens to wear that type of shoe. How about a search warrant?"
"We could probably get one in the morning to go over her apartment."
"We should talk to her boyfriend. If he could confirm his part in it, maybe testify against her." Jim was going to continue his train of thought but was interrupted by a quiet knocking on the door to the office. They both turned to find a man standing in the hallway, being very careful not to enter the room.
"Excuse me, is one of you Detective Ellison?"
"Yes, I am." Jim crossed the room and stepped out into the hallway, Simon right behind him.
"I'm Mr Kinyon. My wife is Professor Kinyon, you spoke with her this afternoon?"
Jim was surprised for a moment. Professor Kinyon was such a little powerhouse, he expected a much smaller, meeker man. Mr Kinyon was at least six foot eleven, weighing in at close to twice Simon's build, with a full head of black hair. He looked like he could eat his wife for lunch and still be hungry.
"Ah, yes. How do you do. This is Captain Banks."
They all shook hands, then Mr Kinyon held out a brief case he had been holding. "I have the other tapes you wanted." He said, handing the case to Jim.
"The other tapes?" Jim accepted the case. "There were more with Professor Wilson on them?"
"Kathy Fisher's tapes? Jim what are you talking about?" Simon asked.
"Professor Kinyon was in her office, next door, dictating into a tape recorder, when the fight Ms Fisher was telling us about occurred. She got most of it down on tape."
"Yes, indeed." Mr Kinyon motioned for them to follow him into his wife's office. Once inside, he closed the door and invited them all to take a seat. "You see, my wife, well she likes to dictate her notes. And then she has me transcribe them for her." He sat down behind her desk, dwarfing the image Jim had of his wife in the same seat. "I'm a software designer, and my office is at the house."
Jim nodded, looking at Simon for a moment. "And you remembered hearing Professor Wilson on more of these tapes?"
Mr Kinyon glanced around the room, as if looking for someone. "You see, my wife has a nine o'clock class on Friday's and I come to pick her up." He glanced down at his watch, then back up to Jim. "I don't want her to hear what I'm about to tell you."
Mr Kinyon had paused and Jim raised his eyebrows. "And why's that, Mr Kinyon?" He was a little surprised that he was able to ask questions. Unlike his wife, Mr Kinyon had to be prompted with each statement.
"She thinks I transcribe her notes because they interest me, and because I enjoy listening to her voice." He paused, looking from Jim, to Simon, and back to Jim. "Actually, I don't really listen to them at all."
"So, how are you able to transcribe them" Simon asked.
"My software does that." He stopped again, looking around. "It took me months to design a voice recognition program that could discern the individual nuances of a person's speech and pronunciation." He shifted a little in his seat. "I finally got one right, and it picks up her voice from the tape, right into the computer. I find that I can get some quiet time to myself if I'm locked away in the office, and she thinks I'm working."
Jim smiled, picturing this slow giant of a man coupled with the energetic, hyper-active terrier personality of Professor Kinyon. She was a nice woman, but Jim figured her for a non-stop conversationalist no matter what the topic was. "So, if you don't actually listen to the tapes, how did you hear the conversation from the next office?"
"Well, I actually didn't hear it. I read it. You see, the computer detects the voice on the tape, it's really quite sophisticated. I glance over the notes as they print on the screen, because sometimes a student will walk in and begin to speak, before my wife can shut the tape off. I have those unfamiliar voices print out on the screen in another color, so that I can go back and delete those lines before giving the notes to my wife." He smiled proudly, "Really, it is very fascinating. Much more so than the cultural significance of tribal eating practices."
Simon laughed a little and glanced at Jim. "Like living with Sandburg, huh?"
Jim ignored Simon's remark. "So, your computer can tell who's voice is who's?"
"Yes. Well, more or less. It knows my wife's voice, and can recognize a different one. I keep all the tapes on disk, the entire transcripts, for future software configurations." He indicated the briefcase on Jim's lap. "I simply printed each one out, with the 'alien' conversations printed in red, and included the tapes of each day. I'm sure your labs can extract each voice and identify the source."
"It's sounds like your equipment is just a little more sophisticated than ours, Mr Kinyon." Jim replied. "We'll have to send these to the FBI's crime lab for analysis. But thank you. At least now we have something to go on." They stood and shook Mr Kinyon's hand, thanking him. Jim led the way out the door. "We'd better get out of here before Professor Kinyon shows up."
"You've never had the pleasure, Simon." Jim glanced down the hallway. "She's a very nice woman, but it's like walking up to one of those little dogs, you know, the kind that grab you by the bottom of your pants and never let go? If we want to go over these tapes before the week is out, we'd better get out of here."
Simon laughed as he followed Jim down the corridor and out to the parking lot. "Hey, did you really handcuff Sandburg to the bed?"
"Man, I'd give anything to see this."
"No, Simon. That's not a good idea." The thought of Blair, seeing Jim bring Simon over to view him, helpless on the bed, was not something he ever wanted to experience. He could never do that. He handcuffed his partner out of a need to protect him, not humiliate him.
"Oh come on Jim, how can I pass up the opportunity?"
Jim shook his head. "He was pretty upset when I left, Simon. I hated to do it, but I knew if I didn't do something, he would have followed me here. Or gone to Kathy's to confront her. I'd rather you didn't mention that I told you. This whole mess, well it's not easy for him, you know? I'm afraid what I did is going to have him pretty steamed by the time I get back. He's been through enough already."
"Oh, all right. I guess I can understand that." Simon opened his car door and climbed inside. "Give me the tapes, I'll go drive them over. And that phone headpiece, we'll see if there's enough blood there for any kind of analysis. Then tomorrow morning we can have a little chat with Ms Fisher's boyfriend, see if we can't scare something out of him."
Jim opened the briefcase and took out the tapes, handing them to Simon. "I'll keep the transcripts, go over them at home." After I deal with Blair.
"Right. See you in the morning."
He watched Simon drive off before getting into the truck. He had been gone for two hours, and it was just now ten o'clock. He saw a woman approaching the offices and quickly started the truck. If Professor Kinyon saw him and began talking again, it would be morning before he got home and un-cuffed Blair from the bed. He was going to be mad enough as it was, keeping him there any longer would only add to it.
During the drive back to the loft Jim began to feel more guilty about restraining Blair. He knew, deep down, that if he hadn't done something drastic, his partner would have followed him. At the least, he would have gone to Kathy Fisher's, probably confronted her himself. No, what he did had been the right thing to do. Maybe the wrong way to go about it, considering how Blair was going to feel about him for a while, but the right thing to do. He pulled up outside the loft and parked the truck, glancing up to the balcony window. He really hated using his superior size against his friend, but Blair had that look in his eye that Jim had seen too often. That, 'okay, whatever you say, but when you leave I'm doing it anyway' look. His partner's ability to convey so much with those eyes amused and astounded Jim. He was just glad wasn't afraid to express himself so much any more. God, what's he going to express now? Blair was growing emotionally all the time, and he was smarter than most, able to pick things up with little prompting. Hell, sometimes no prompting at all. Blair was excellent at grasping a situation quickly. Jim hated to think of what he would have done to Blair had they met a few years ago, when he was still struggling himself with life as a cop.
He had reached the door and paused.
Better get this over with. He entered the living room quietly, shutting
the door and hanging up his coat. Blair had said nothing. Maybe, just maybe, he
was asleep. After what he had been through, a couple hours of peace and quiet
were just what the doctor ordered. He walked down the hall and glanced into Blair's
room. He was right where he'd left him, leaning farther back on the bed, head
against the pillows Jim had placed behind him. He was asleep, so Jim quietly pulled
the keys from his pocket and stepped over to uncuff Blair's wrists without disturbing
him. He had just unlocked Blair's left hand and pushed it gently back through
the slats when he felt the sudden tensing in his friend's arms. For a split second,
he assumed Blair had just woken up. Then the fist struck him just below his right
eye with enough force to spin him around and send him falling to the floor.
"OW! Dammit!" Blair pulled his hand back quickly. The impact with Jim's face, and the sudden turn he'd had to make to do it, sent a stabbing pain through his stomach and into the knuckles of this left hand. He'd nearly fallen off the bed himself and now sat, clutching his abdomen, doubled over, waving his throbbing hand in the air to shake off the pain. "Damn you!" Jim was standing now, shaking his head slightly, and Blair looked up.
"Okay, I deserved that." Jim said, looking at his friend. "Do you feel better now?"
Blair was still doubled over, holding his stomach. "No. What the hell was I supposed to do if someone broke in here? Huh? What was I gonna do if something happened to you out there?" Blair had spent the first thirty minutes so angry he could hardly see straight. Then the next thirty minutes plotting his revenge. After the first hour, he had begun to worry. There he was, completely helpless, thanks to his own partner, unable to even reach the phone. What if someone had come in, someone other than Jim? What would he have done if something had happened to his partner, alone out there? Just the fact that Jim had been able to overpower him so easily kept him steaming mad for most of the two hours. Not so much that he had been able to, but that he had. Jim was larger, and stronger, and had more experience in overpowering people, but he had never before used that against Blair. Now what was he supposed to think? If Jim could just overtake him at any time, would he do it again? God, he was so humiliated!
Jim took a deep breath, "Look, Blair, I'm sorry about what I did, handcuffing you and all. But I had to. You wouldn't have stayed here any other way."
"I should have been with you." Blair said through teeth clenched partly in anger, partly in pain. "I'm your partner, and you didn't even trust me." Did he think I didn't trust him?
Jim sat down on the edge of the bed, a few feet from Blair who turned and moved slightly away. "Chief, I trust you. Believe me, I do. But I know you, and you wouldn't have stayed here any other way. And I couldn't have you there. Simon was there, and if the DA had heard about her prime suspect being at the crime scene, assisting in the investigation, she would have had you back in jail in a second. Then we'd have more trouble than we need." He stood then, looking down at Blair. "And I'd be out a truck."
Blair straightened up as best he could and looked at Jim. "What do you mean?"
"Bail, Chief. I put the truck up against you sticking around. Now, you feel like helping me with the case?"
Blair looked at Jim for a long moment, wondering what to say. He knew Jim had posted bail, but he hadn't thought about it, not in terms of money. All this time he'd been too concerned about his own situation, and hadn't even acknowledged Jim's role in clearing him. "Jim..." he faltered, not sure if he was still mad about being handcuffed to his own bed, or upset that his friend had gone to so much trouble just to keep him home and safe. His anger was slowly being replaced with guilt. Jim hadn't asked for a partner, he hadn't asked for a Guide. He sure as hell never asked to be responsible for someone who seemed so good at getting into trouble. And yet, there he was, all the time. No matter what they got into, or who's fault it was, he was there. Whatever their relationship demanded, it was never too much for Jim. Blair was once again feeling inadequate, comparing himself to what he assumed were his friend's expectations. Would he ever reach that level? God, he wanted to be mad, but Jim wasn't trying to upset him, he was trying to keep him from hurting himself. God Sandburg, when are you going to start letting Jim be Jim and stop questioning it?
"Come on Chief, I need your help with something." Jim reached out a hand and took Blair by the arm, helping him stand. "We have some papers to go over, and I need some ice."
Blair let Jim guide him out to the couch, where he sat down slowly. His stomach was still sore, but the intense, stabbing pain that his unfortunate movement had caused was fading. He watched as Jim went to the kitchen and made himself an ice pack. "What did you find, with the phones?" He was willing to let the last several minutes just disappear for now, get back onto an easier subject.
"There was definitely someone there. I found fibers inside your phone, like from someone's shirt. And inside Professor Wilson's, there was blood." He wrapped several ice cubes in a towel and placed it against his cheek. "You've got a wicked left hook, Chief."
Blair rolled his eyes, looking away for a moment. "Yeah, well. I can't say I'm sorry." Maybe later.
Jim nodded as he walked over to the couch and opened Mr Kinyon's briefcase. "We are closer to an answer here." He pulled out the papers and handed several to Blair. "Now, we're going to let Professor Wilson tell us what happened."
Blair had accepted the papers, then looked up at Jim, raising his eyebrows. "Professor Wilson? But, he's dead, Jim."
"I know, I know." Jim settled back on the couch with his own set of papers. "But, Professor Kinyon's husband isn't."
Blair didn't understand at first, then it dawned on him. "You mean, there's more tapes? Tapes with Professor Wilson saying the same things he supposedly said during this fictitious argument we had?"
Jim nodded, "Yep. Seems Mr Kinyon has a computer program that transcribes his wife's notes for him. It picks up any voice it hears, and types it down in a different colored ink."
"So, that's how he listens to her." Blair said. He always wondered how a man who lived with Professor Kinyon could stand to listen to those tapes every night. She was a very nice woman, and an excellent instructor, but when she started talking, well, you had better get comfortable. "So, what do we look for?"
"Anything that isn't her, is printed in red." Jim began to examine the first few pages of his stack. "Just look for those lines, and see if any of them are Wilson."
"How are we going to know it's Wilson, and not someone else in the room?"
"Remember the tape, and what I heard him saying."
Blair nodded and began to scan the papers on his lap. Each page had several lines of dialogue in red ink. Apparently Professor Kinyon had visitors during her dictation nearly every day. Most he could tell were her students, asking questions about the previous day's lecture, or concerned with a grade. He was on the third day's worth of notes, halfway through, when he saw several lines in red, alternated with black. "Oh my God." he said, laughing.
"What? Did you find something?" Jim asked, looking over at him.
Blair started to say something, started to recite the conversation between whoever had walked into the room and Professor Kinyon, but he changed his mind. "No, nothing. Never mind. It's not Wilson," he said. He read the lines again and smiled, shaking his head. Apparently, Professor Kinyon and her visitor both found one Blair Sandburg to be 'simply adorable'. He couldn't mention this to Jim. He was flattered, and embarrassed. Jim would love to get his hands on this.
"Here. Here it is." Jim leaned forward, holding out a piece of paper. "Dr. Stoddard, I'm telling you, Sentinel studies are a crock. You're passing over my nephew, for Blair Sandburg? Go ahead, see how far you get with it." Jim read the lines on the page he held. "That's it, at least the part I heard." He looked up at Blair. "We can prove the tape was spliced together. The FBI crime lab will confirm that with their voice analysis. Now we have enough to make Kathy Fisher very nervous."
Blair was shaking his head, "I still don't get it, Jim. I mean, to kill him? When she was going to go with him--I never would have thought--I thought I knew her."
"It's always that way, Chief." Jim patted Blair on the knee as he stood, walking back to the kitchen to deposit his ice in the sink. "You never really know someone. No matter how close you get, they can still surprise you."
Blair nodded, thinking of how he had just recently been dragged down a hallway and handcuffed to his own bed. "Yeah, tell me about it."
Jim turned. "Look, Sandburg, I am sorry. But you have to admit, if I hadn't, you would have gone off and done something stupid."
Blair rolled his eyes. How could Jim know him so well, and yet still surprise him with his own unpredictable behavior? He wanted to go talk to Kathy, and had spent the first thirty minutes trying to get out of the cuffs so he could call her. But, of course that would have done him no good. If she was the killer, he would have tipped her off, and she could have disappeared before Blair could tell Jim. And if she had help in doing the frame, then Blair could have ended up in even more trouble by confronting her. He knew better than to try any police work on his own, without Jim to think it all through. But he also knew he couldn't have stayed in the loft while Jim was off doing God knew what, trying to clear his name. But he was not going to admit that what Jim had done was the right thing.
"So, what do we do now?"
"Now, we get some sleep. Simon's getting a search warrant for Kathy's apartment first thing in the morning. And we're bringing her boyfriend in for questioning. If he was in on the phone tapping, thinking he was just helping her with some practical joke or something, then he just might get scared enough to talk." Jim stretched and walked towards the stairs to his room. "By tomorrow morning, I'm betting we have our killer."
"Hey, Jim. Wait a minute." Blair turned on the couch to face his friend. "About bail, and this whole grant thing, we should talk about it."
Jim shook his head. "Nothing to talk about, Chief. You applied for the grant before we started this project, and I posted bail to keep you out of jail. That's all there is, nothing to talk about." Jim said goodnight then and went upstairs.
Blair sat for a long time on the couch, thinking about what Jim had said, thinking about Kathy Fisher, Professor Wilson. He had never known Wilson had a nephew, let alone that he had wanted his nephew to accompany Dr Stoddard, instead of Blair. He wondered now if he had. Blair had never wanted to know who had taken his place, and so had never checked. It just wasn't important any more. But to know that Dr Stoddard and Professor Wilson had discussed him, had even argued about him and his Sentinel studies....It was strange. This whole mess was strange. He thought life was complicated enough when he partnered with Jim, started leading an almost double life between studying and guiding a Sentinel. What he had expected, he wasn't sure. Sentinels were chosen because of a genetic advantage, but were always used in the protection and defense of the tribe. So, if Jim Ellison was a Sentinel because of his genetic structure, was he a cop because of it too? Blair had never expected to find a Sentinel accountant. So he had to figure he'd be in for some excitement, following Jim around. He just never thought the excitement would include him so personally.
But, if he hadn't known Jim, he could still have ended up in this situation.
Who knew what his life would be like, right now, if he had never met Jim Ellison?
Or if Jim had brushed him off and refused to allow him to tag along all this time?
He may have been passed over in accompanying Dr Stoddard, you just never knew.
Then, Jim Ellison would have made sure he was locked away for the murder of Professor
Wilson, since obviously Kathy had been planning this for some time. No, he was
lucky to be where he was, when he was. And, he was lucky Jim had turned out to
be such a friend. Being a Sentinel was no guarantee that he wasn't going to be
a total dick. Blair was very lucky, indeed.
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