Home > Kris Williams > Target

by Kristine Williams

Part 4

"Yeah, I think I'll go do that." Jim pierced Carpenter one more time with his eyes, then walked out. He didn't even try to listen after he left, but walked straight back to the bullpen. Blair was at his desk with the files and tapes and Jim realized Simon was in his office, speaking with Sheila.

"Jim, what happened to your hand?"

He glanced at the red knuckles, then shook his head. "I hit the door." Jim looked into Simon's office, but decided he'd better not try and listen. "You get kicked out?"

"Yeah." Blair removed his glasses and set them on top of the files, then looked around behind Jim. "The door, Jim?"

Turning, Jim saw Carpenter walking back into the bullpen, still holding a wad of toilet paper to his bloody nose. The two men looked at each other for a moment, then Carpenter walked to a desk, picked up a few files, and left.

"Yeah, Chief, the door." He turned back to Blair. "Someone was coming in when I was going out. You know how that goes."

Blair shook his head. "Listen, Jim..."

"Sandburg, leave it, okay?" He wasn't in the mood for more of Blair's self-sacrificing offers. He was too willing to compromise in situations like this, when what was needed was to draw a line in the sand and stand firm.

"Whatever you say, Jim."

"Let's go downstairs and look this tape over again." He reached for the box, then heard Simon's door open. Sheila came out and passed the desk, smiling congenially at both men as she left.

"Jim, I need to see you for a minute."

"Right, Captain." He turned back to Blair. "Hang tight." Blair nodded and put his glasses back on, opening a file.

Jim closed the door to Simon's office when he entered, then sat down in the chair Simon pointed to. He knew this couldn't have anything to do with him having just hit Carpenter, but if the Captain did find out, he'd admit to it all.

"You want some?" Simon held up the coffee pot, then poured himself a cup.

"No, thank you, sir."

He nodded, adding sugar to his coffee before sitting down. "The shooting is cleared. IA had no problem with the justification. I didn't think they would."

Jim nodded.

"The funeral is tomorrow." He sighed, rubbing his eyes under thick glasses. "And the press will be there for sure."

"They usually are."

"Jim, I'm hearing rumors," Simon stated bluntly.

"That's not surprising, sir. I've heard a few myself." More than a few.

"How you doin'? Things like this can get pretty ugly."

"It'll blow over, Simon. We all need someone to blame, and since the shooter is dead, some of them are still looking for a target. We'll be fine."

"I'm not worried about you, Jim. You can handle yourself fine. It's your partner I'm worried about. He's not used to this, and the kid's pretty sensitive."

Jim shook his head, glancing out the window at Blair for a moment. "He's taking this all in as some anthropological social study or something." He laughed shortly. "Everything is research with him." Simon smiled and Jim shrugged. "We'll be fine."

"Good." He picked up the steaming cup. "If it's any consolation, I've noticed there are only a few out there who are having this problem."

"Yeah, just a few of the loudest talkers we've got." Jim stood. "After the funeral, things will start to calm down a bit."

"Listen, Jim, about that. Will Sandburg be there?"

Jim's jaw clenched almost immediately, then he realized his Captain was speaking out of concern. "Yes, Captain, I think he needs to be."

Simon nodded. "I agree. It shows support, and I think we'll all appreciate it. He is one of us, after all."

Jim sighed, releasing the tension in his face. Just a few months ago, his Captain might even have been one of those men ready to kick Blair out on his ass. But now, after having seen just how necessary and useful his new partner was, he'd come around to Jim's way of thinking. More or less.

"We'll be downstairs going over those Brook Station tapes, sir."

"Good. The DA can use all the help she can get."

Jim nodded, then left the office. "Come on, Chief." He picked up the box of tapes and waited for Blair to gather up the files. "We'll use the conference room on the sixth floor."

They spent the next 5 hours watching and re-watching the surveillance tapes while going over the case files, finding nothing they hadn't already seen or heard.

"I give up." Jim rubbed his eyes, weary from trying so hard to find something that just wasn't there. "There's nothing new here."

"Come on, Jim, you can't just give up."

"Yes, Chief, I can." He stood and hit the eject button on the VCR. "We've done all we can here. If the evidence isn't enough to put these guys away, I don't know what is." He put the tapes back into the box, then stretched his tired back. Blair set about cleaning up after their lunch and Jim put the files back into a neat stack. They'd spent the entire day in the conference room, and concentrating on the video had kept Jim from trying to hear what everyone was saying as they passed the room. Being alone, and relatively safe from any hostilities for an entire afternoon, had done much to relieve some of the stress Jim was feeling. He could take the anger of some cops, especially the ones who would jump on anything and everything that didn't fit their narrow little view of the world. But when that anger was directed at or around Blair, Jim took it more than a little personally.

No one had questioned Jim's keeping an anthropologist around as a permanent observer and partner on the job. In fact, Blair being Blair, the majority of the officers, plainclothes as well as uniformed, hadn't seemed to give it a second thought. He had fit in so well, and proved himself useful immediately. And, Jim knew, they appreciated the affect Blair had been having on the hard-nose jerk of a detective who had refused any and all partners before, and after, Jack.

"Let's call it a day, huh?" Jim picked up the box and Blair gathered the stack of files. He led the way down the hall, and they skipped the elevator, using the stairs instead to go up one flight to his desk. Blair followed, walking through the door Jim held open. As he let the door close, he caught sight of Carpenter coming off the elevator. No one joined him, and Jim wondered if he'd been talking to himself in the car.

They returned the files and retrieved their jackets. While there, Jim tuned in to every conversation he could find, hearing nothing at all that had to do with either him or Blair. The only thing that came close was the two dispatchers across the hall discussing what was proper to wear to a funeral.

"Oh, Jim, we need to go to the store. That is, if we want dinner tonight." Blair put his jacket on then handed Jim his.

"Right." He took the coat and draped it over the box of tapes. "Okay, let's get outta here."

They took the tapes back down to evidence lock up. Grealy was happy to see Blair, even joked to him about the signature forgings, that "no one really knows about but me". The trip to the parking garage was easily accomplished, with no snide remarks or nasty glances from anyone they saw. Jim couldn't even pick up anything when he focused ahead and behind them. There was no way this had blown over so quickly, but there was just a slight chance Carpenter's bloody nose had been heard about. Let them blow that rumor out of proportion. It was well worth it to see the fear flash, however momentarily, over the officer's face. And if doing it gave him and Blair a little peace, and some of the jackasses something to think about, then Jim was glad it had happened.

"Do you have a list this time?" Jim opened the door and got in the truck, pulling the keys out of his pocket as Blair got in.

"Yeah." He laughed. "It's at home."

Jim shot him a dirty look and Blair smiled back sheepishly.

"Great." He started the truck and they pulled out, then drove a few blocks to the grocery story. "Tell you what, I'm not in the mood to walk up and down every aisle, trying to figure out what we need. Let's just get a couple of steaks and go home."

Blair's eyebrows rose and he thought about that for a moment. "Sounds like a plan."

They went inside and Jim headed straight for the meat section, sending Blair to produce for salad-fixings. Jim found two large T-bones and they met at the checkout counter. Jim's eyes automatically found the headline of the evening paper displayed near the register.


Could Her Death Have Been Prevented?

Jim's jaw tightened. Blair said nothing and made no indication that he had seen the paper that would be waiting for them when they got back to the loft. He'd read it, of course, when they got home. He'd have to know what the press was saying, in case they were questioned at the funeral.

The drive home was quiet, and Jim felt the respite they'd been granted that afternoon was gone, once again replaced by the tension of what was waiting for them back at the Station. It couldn't be much worse than the headline Jim picked up from the front door. Blair was holding their groceries, so Jim retrieved the newspaper and unlocked the door.

"Medium well, right?" Blair walked straight to the kitchen and set the bag on the counter.

"Huh? Oh, right, Chief." Jim put his keys on the table then took off his jacket, hanging it on one of the hooks. He tossed the paper on the couch and walked into the kitchen. Blair moved past him to hang up his own jacket and Jim opened the refrigerator. "Damn." They were out of beer. Well, they'd go shopping tomorrow evening and stock up. At least there were still a few bottles of water. The tap in their building had always tasted metallic, but was even worse now that Jim's senses were so well-trained.

He walked to the couch and dropped down, reluctantly picking up the paper. Blair started up the stove and removed the groceries from the bag to make dinner. The article wasn't going to go away, so he unfolded the paper and sat back.

Officer Janet Simmons will be buried tomorrow morning, joining the ranks of officers killed in the line of duty. Her killer, now identified as Desert Storm Veteran Jack Kingston, was being treated at the VA hospital's Mental Health Department. Mr. Kingston's doctor claims he was perfectly in control as long as he was taking his medications. Detectives at the Cascade PD's Major Crimes Division found Mr. Kingston's medications had not been refilled in over 3 months.

Jim scanned the rest of the article, then breathed a quiet sigh of relief. They were bringing up the checks and balances issue of mental health outpatients. Not one mention of a civilian observer being saved while a police officer was killed. He was getting enough of that at the Station, from his own people. They both were. The last thing they needed was to get the same treatment from the media.

"Hey, Jim, dinner's ready." Blair was setting plates on the table, which was cleared of papers and notes for the first time in nearly 4 days. "How bad is it?"

Jim set the paper down and carried his water to the table. "They're turning this into a mental health issue." He sat down. "The VA will probably catch some fallout." Blair nodded and sat down. Jim was sure he saw a look of unspoken relief on his partner's face.

"Think there'll be any reporters at the funeral tomorrow?" Blair asked his steak as he prodded it with a fork.

"Probably." He started to cut his meat. "But just for the human interest angle, and they'll get a few pictures for the evening news." Stabbing a chunk of steak he looked up. "Don't worry, Chief. Even Carpenter wouldn't open his mouth to the press at an officer's funeral. No one would."

"Do you think this Kingston guy was waiting specifically to kill a cop?"

Jim shrugged. "We may never know. He had plenty of targets to pick from, but either he was a bad aim, and just got lucky with Simmons, or he had a beef with uniforms."

Blair shook his head, pondering. After a minute, he pointed at Jim's bruised knuckles. "How's the hand?"

He had to finish chewing before an answer could be formed. "Fine."

"Yeah. You gotta watch those doors, man. You could get hurt."

Jim shook his head and reached for the water. "Not with a door that dumb, Chief."

Wednesday morning was bright and sunny, just warm enough in the early morning to make a jacket almost uncomfortable. Jim stood next to Blair, behind and to the left of the casket. Several uniformed officers, including Karen Blake, formed a line next to the grave, with other officers in uniformed lined up behind them. To either side stood plainclothes detectives and other Station staff, and on the opposite side were the higher rankers. The service was solemn, as these occasions dictated, and the few members of the local press who had attended remained a polite distance until the service was completed. Jim let his eyes scan the faces of the crowd, trying to judge the undercurrent.

Carpenter and three other patrolmen standing with him did nothing to hide their looks of hostility, but Carpenter looked somewhat less threatening with the large, purple welt covering the left side of his nose. Jim was a little surprised he hadn't filed charges for the disturbance in the mens room. Mike must have talked to him after Jim left. He could have listened, but he'd been so disgusted by the threats, he hadn't thought he could hear that voice again without exploding.

The rest of the looks they received were nothing less than sympathetic, and even Karen Blake smiled sadly at Jim when the service concluded. She stepped over as they all began to file away.

"Detective." Karen smiled at Blair, then turned back to Jim. "I want to apologize for my rudeness back at the emergency room." She extended a hand.

Jim took her offered hand. "Don't worry about it. You were in shock."

She laughed ruefully. "That's an understatement. Mr. Sandburg."

"Blair, please." He also shook the hand she offered. "I'm very sorry."

"So am I. Unfortunately, it comes with the job." She sighed, glancing behind her where three women waited several yards away. "I've heard some of the rumors, and how they got started is beyond me, truly."

"They get started by people who have no idea what happened," Jim interjected. "And they go away just as quickly."

"Yeah. Well, I'm still sorry." She smiled again at both men, then nodded toward her friends. "If you'll excuse me."

"Of course."

Blair nodded, then glanced around and sighed in relief.

Jim turned to look and saw the reporters packing up and leaving. He put a hand on Blair's back, then started walking back to the truck. "Come on, let's get back to work."

"Oh, hey, Jim, can we stop at the University for a second? I have to drop off some reports for the research group."

"Sure." As they drove to the University, Jim started to feel better about the whole situation. If it was just Carpenter and his buddies they had to worry about, then it wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been. Even Blair seemed a bit more relaxed, now that the funeral was over, and Karen had spoken with them, as opposed to the press. When they parked just outside the social sciences building, the sun was beating down nicely. Both men removed their jackets and left them in the back seat.

Blair retrieved several notebooks and papers that Jim recognized as having occupied his dinning room table all week. "I just need to drop these off with the Professor."

Jim paused right after shutting his door. "Which Professor, Chief?"

Blair laughed. "Relax, Jim. Not her."

He followed his partner then as Blair carried the notebooks toward the building. "It's not that I don't like her, you understand."

"Yes, Jim, I understand."

"She's just.."


"Yeah," Jim nodded. "Energetic." That was as good a way as any to describe Professor Kinyon. A lovely woman, really. Just...energetic.

They passed the hallway housing her office without incident, deposited Blair's notes in the right office, and headed back to the truck.

"There. See, Jim, that was painless."

A sound caught Jim's attention just when he turned to comment. His hearing tuned in almost immediately to the familiar clicking. Snapping his head around, he caught sight of sun off metal just before the muzzle flashed, sending the bullet tearing across the campus, straight at them.

There was no time to shout. Jim grabbed a handful of Blair's shirt and pulled him to the ground, hearing the hot metal fly over their heads. It missed them both by mere inches.

"Call for backup!" Jim drew his gun with one hand and pulled out the cell phone with the other. "And stay down!" He was instantly on his feet, racing across the lawn in the direction of the muzzle flash. Zeroing in on the sounds ahead, he heard footsteps. The shooter was running for the parking lot behind the two-story building he'd been on. Jim altered course and headed straight for the cars.

He burst around the side of the building in time to see a red jeep speeding down the north bound lane. Blair suddenly appeared beside him, looking at the car as it neared a sharp right hand turn that would take it completely out of Jim's range.


Blair's urgency was unnecessary. Jim trained his vision on the license plate of the jeep. He'd just focused on the numbers when a flash of sunlight bounced off the metal, blinding him in a sharp, painful explosion of magnified light. He cried out, shielding both eyes.

"What happened? Jim, are you all right?" Blair's hands were on his arms, trying to pull the hands from his eyes.

Jim nodded, lowering his arms. "The sun blinded me for a second." His eyes were watering, but the sting from the flash of light dissipated.

"Did you get it?"

He shook his head sharply, then holstered his gun. "Dammit!"

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