Home > Juliet Benson > Little God of My Heart
throat* mi mi mi mi mi mi meee. Not mine. *sniffle, sob* Understudy!
Spoilers: None. But it's best if you know who Naomi is.
Author's Notes: What I say about Peter the Great and the incense from Bombay is... false. Sorry, I just made it up. *hanging head in shame*
Additional Notes: Inspired by Miss Saigon
Blair and Jim stood in the elevator, waiting for it to get to the third floor. Sandburg was wearing a Burger King hat and animatedly telling Jim all the wonders of Peter the Great and how he had actually copied a leader of some tribe in Bombay. Jim wasnít totally sure where the hat had come from, but it made things more interesting to watch, so he let it go. The elevator dinged and they stepped out. Jimís head tilted back and the creases around his mouth deepened slightly.
"Do you smell that?" he interrupted Blair.
"Smell what?" Sandburg asked, not bothering to say that if Jim had to ask if he could hear, smell, feel, taste, see something, that he probably couldnít.
Jimís steps grew cautious as he approached their door. Blair frowned and absently pulled off his crown, taking a few deep breaths through his nose.
Jim leaned down near the door.
"Itís-" and was cut off by a sneeze. Blair opened the door and disappeared through before Jim could recover.
Jim had his handkerchief out and was holding it against his nose when he entered.
"Mom, I told you Jim was allergic to sage," Blair was saying, holding on to Naomiís upper arms, an affectionate grin on his face.
"Oh, this isnít sage, sweetie. Itís a herb from Bombay called Ďnautrali enjobí and itís very soothing. Is it a problem?" She looked at Jim in concern.
"Well Mom, Jimís kinda sensitive to most herbs, incenses and such. You better run them by me before you try anything else." Naomi gave Jim a look that made him squirm. It was a mixture of pity, worry and determination.
"What brings you here, Mom?" Blair asked, removing his coat.
"I was up in Alaska- here baby, Iíll get that for you- and was moving down to New Mexico. I thought Iíd stop by and say hi- let me have your coat, too, Jim- is that all right?"
"Thatís great, Mom," Blair beamed at her.
"Weíre having dinner with Simon Banks tonight, Naomi. Would you care to join us?" Jim asked, somewhat hoarsely, giving his nose a final wipe.
"If itís not imposing," Naomi smiled, hands clasped in front of her. "How is Captain Banks?"
"Heís doing good now that Darrylís getting tutored in Algebra." While Blair and Naomi were talking, Jim moved to the windows and opened them to air the place out. Naomi got that look on her face again, and Blair gently drew her away.
"Weíre meeting him at six, is that okay?"
"Thatís perfect. It gives me plenty of time to tell you all about Fairbanks." Naomi linked her arm through Blairís and they walked slowly to his room. Jim watched them go, an inadvertent smile crossing his normally stern features. Forty five minutes later, he peeked his head in through the door to Blairís room. Naomi sat cross-legged on the bed, still talking, with Blair on his chair, elbows on his knees, nodding earnestly.
"Are you guys ready to go?" he gently cut in. Two smiling, glowing faces turned toward him simultaneously.
"Sure, man," Blair hopped up and offered a hand to Naomi.
"Oh, Jim, are you allergic to heather?" Naomi asked as the trio snagged their coats from the rack.
"Itís especially the quantities that Jim has trouble with, Mom," Blair injected smoothly. "Youíll be better off just not burning anything while youíre here. Iíll work with him." He ended with a conspiratorial whisper.
For a second, Jim was afraid Naomi would pursue the matter, but she dropped it.
"What have you two been up to?" she asked instead, waiting for Jim to unlock the truck.
"Not a terrible lot," Blair lied. "Our last case was embezzlement. We got it wrapped up quickly, though. The lady left a trail a mile wide!" The two Sandburgs chatted casually about that, and Jim was spared having to say much.
"Man, Simonís going to be surprised to see you!" Blair hopped out and held the door open for his mother. He was right; Simon had arrived before them and saved a table. There was a moment of chaos as Simon greeted Naomi, Blair kept a close eye on how friendly their reunion was, the waitress stumbled up with a new chair and they rearranged the table to fit another.
"Iím sorry about dropping in like this, Captain Banks," Naomi said as soon as the waitress took their drinks order and they were left alone.
"Itís no problem at all, Ms. Sandburg. Itís nice to see you again. You look lovely." Simon smiled warmly at her and Jim hid a grin. Blair cleared his throat loudly and snapped open his menu, "accidentally" hitting the police captainís arm.
"Iím in the mood for some Italian," he said, cheerfully ignoring Banksí glare.
"Oh, that sounds good," Jim replied, also looking through his menu.
"Now, Captain Banks, I want the truth. What have my son and Jim been up to lately?"
"Please, call me Simon. Well, their last case was an embezzlement-" Blair shot Naomi a "told you so" look. "but is not near as exciting as the one before that." This time both Jim and Blair pinned a death look on Simon.
"Oh really?" she gave her son a suspicious look. "What happened?"
"Well, not much to tell really," Simon back-peddled frantically.
"Robbery and murder." He confessed weakly after receiving a stern look from Naomi.
The gaze swung from Banks to Blair.
"Oh really?" she repeated calmly, but looked angry and worried.
"It was actually Blair who caught him," Simon was still trying to redeem himself. The eyes narrowed.
"Oh *really*?" Jim made a cutting motion with his hand and Simon snapped his mouth shut.
"Mom, the guyís in jail and thereís nothing to worry about." Blair said
"What happened?" Naomi asked. They stared silently at each other for a long moment before Blair sighed.
"I was at the bank withdrawing money to pay for repairs on the Volvo. A man came in and shot the guard and a bank teller. He told everyone to get on the ground. One lady was apparently slower than he liked and he shot her too."
Blair paused and took a deep breath. "I figured the guy was suicidal from the way he was shooting. He had his gun trained on a little girl who had the misfortune of being there with her mother. All the workers were frantically shoving money into these beige cloth bags he had brought. The odd thing was, the bank teller who had been shot had collapsed so that his weight was against the alarm. So the police showed up. The guy went berserk and shot another teller in the arm. While his back was turned, I grabbed a picture and knocked it over his head. He lost consciousness and was taken away. And before you say anything, this had *nothing* to do with police work. I just happened to be in this certain bank at this certain time."
"And itís a good thing he was, Ms. Sandburg," Simon said softly. "He probably saved many peopleís lives. He was right about that guy having a death wish." Naomi looked pale, and dropped her eyes to the table. She inhaled deeply and held the breath for a moment before letting it go.
She picked up her menu and looked at it resolutely and nowhere else. Jim cleared his throat.
"Whereís that waiter?" he asked lightly, hoping to get the conversation to return to normal. Blair was about to answer when he felt the warm barrel of a gun nudging against the back of his head.
"In the kitchen along with the rest of the staff," a new voice said.
Blair closed his eyes and swallowed hard the same time Naomi gasped. Jim and Simon instantly reached for their guns but froze when the gun shoved against Blairís head, knocking him forward.
"Ah ah ah, gentleman," the voice was a tenor, controlled and rich like chocolate. Not what oneíd expect from a cold-blooded killer. "Guns on the floor both of you. Kick them toward me, easy now. *Everyone*!" he bellowed, without taking his eyes from the table and its occupants. The noise abruptly stopped and eyes riveted on the man. He had dressed as a waiter and carried his gun lightly under the silver tray, effectively hiding it from the bright lights.
"I want you to stand up slowly and exit. Get in your cars and drive home. If you refuse to follow these orders you will be shot." Gasps, murmurs and sounds of distress rose. The man allowed it for a second, thin mouth in a tight line before bellowing out a quick "Now!" Chairs clattered as patrons scrambled to their feet. The man raised the gun and shot a hole in the ceiling. Screams followed. Blair flinched visibly. The gun returned to its spot too quickly for Simon or Jim to do anything. Naomi sat helpless and trembling, hands twisted in the tablecloth.
"I said slowly!" the mob instantly slowed and within minutes the restaurant was empty. Simon glanced at Jim and saw that his jaw was moving in an all-too familiar way. He also noticed with a shiver that his eyes were too chips of blazing ice- there was no one else who could master a look like that- and his body was a knot of restrained tension. Blair had fixed wide eyes on Jimís and hadnít looked away.
"Now, Detective Ellison," the man spoke. "Please get slowly to your feet and look in that bag to your left. Any tricks and I wonít hesitate to pull the trigger." Jim stood up carefully, a burning ball of frustration in his stomach. "Now, remove the rope and securely tie Captain Banksí feet. He will then tie yours. You will proceed to tie his arms behind his back. Ms. Sandburg will then do yours. If I find any of the knots less than satisfactory, I will shoot Mr. Sandburg." Naomiís lips trembled, but she nodded in understanding.
"While you are completing that task, I will entertain you with a brief history of myself. My name is Don Avery. I was born an only child in Minnesota to a very poor family. My father left when I was nine and I contributed to the family funds by bringing customers to our house. Selling your mom is a drag, you know that? Anyway, after she died when I was fifteen, I lost the house and all our property and hitchhiked to New York. I stayed alive as well as I could. Then I robbed a bank. Interesting, no?"
The gun rubbed gently against the back of Blairís head. "Then Mr. Sandburg had to go and take away my- what did you call it?- death wish and get me arrested. Undoubtedly, one of the people dining has called the police, but by the time they get here, they will find nothing but five corpses, and a settled debt." Blair swallowed, and glanced at Naomi. She was staring at him, silent tears streaking down her white face. He smiled in encouragement, but it was a bit shaky.
"May I ask a question?" he said after a moment, relieved his voice came out strong.
"Fire away," said Avery, chuckling at his joke.
"You never even saw my face in the bank. How did you know it was me, and then get my name? And Jimís and Simonís?" Sandburg was stalling, Jim realized, hiding a wince as the rope pinched his skin. Naomi was being very careful in following Averyís instructions, despite her badly shaking hands.
ĎWaiting for me to get him out of this,í he thought, an odd pain coming to his chest. He had already calculated their chances and saw them very bleak.
He and Simon were seated in their chairs, side by side. Blair sat across from them. Naomi now stood at his left shoulder. All he could really do was keep watching for a break.
"Ah, good. Mr. Sandburg?" despite his courteous words, Averyís fingers dug into the back of Blairís neck, pulling him up roughly. "Letís check these ropes then Iíll answer your question. Stand there, Mr. Sandburg, where I can see you." He shoved Blair to the right. The gun shifted from Blairís head to Jimís. "One wrong move, Mr. SandburgÖ" Leaving the threat hanging, Avery made quick work of testing the binds. A pleased smile twisted the gaunt face. Blair hastily sized up his opponent: thin as a sword blade, with a casual step. Eyes that were pale blue and oddly focused. A buzz cut shaped a too-large head, making him look disproportionate. The hair was dark blonde and spiky, the lights bouncing off the pale skin that stretched over his skull and peeked through the hair.
Blairís eyes met Jimís and they exchanged a long, probing look. Jim could see panic in Blairís, and hear his quick breathing and heartbeat. But he also saw trust and hope, as though he knew what was going to happen and knew they would get out as they had so often before. In return, Blair saw the frustration and fury Jim was feeling, as well as reassurance. And, for some reason neither could explain, that single look calmed them both.
When Avery stood and turned the gun back to him, Blair felt oddly re-energized, as though just by a exchanging a look, he and Jim had also exchanged strength.
"Well, Mr. Sandburg, I did my research. There are people I found who are quite willing to dig up anything in return for some cash. Cash, I didnít have. Bullets, I did. As a result, I probably know more about you and your past than your friend Mr. Ellison here does." He smiled again. "Pity you had to be here to see this, Ms. Sandburg." Without hesitation, he swung his arm out with force and cracked the gun against Blairís head. Crumpling, Blair lost consciousness before he hit the floor. Naomi cried out and was in front of Avery before even she knew what was happening. Jim jerked against his binds, his muscles bunching up. Simon, too, struggled, but neither could even get some slack.
"Donít touch him!" Naomi cried, clenching her hands at her sides. "He is what I live for."
"Touching, Ms. Sandburg." Avery replied icily. "Get back." Naomiís chin tilted up.
"No," she said evenly. "You will not touch my boy." For the first time, Avery lost composure. He growled and pushed Naomi out of the way.
Dropping to her knees, she reached out blindly and when she stood, she had Jimís gun clasped in both hands.
"So now you have a gun. Are you going to use it? Huh? Going to shoot me?"
Grinning patronizingly, Avery spread his arms and stepped forward until the gun touched his chest. "To save your bastard son?" The smile contorted into a snarl and Avery shoved the gun aside. "You donít know how to kill." He turned back to Blair.
"Do not test my will!" Naomi cried, her eyes wide with fright. "I will do what I have to." Avery ignored her and raised his own gun. Cocking it, he took aim. A shot rang out. Averyís body jerked horribly and he fell down.
The gun clattered to the floor from Naomiís numb hands. She stared at Avery for with wild eyes before shaking her head sharply in denial. She buried her face into her hands and began screaming. Abruptly, she stopped and looked up.
"Blair!" Collapsing next to him, she gathered him into her arms. At that same moment, the door burst open and the police spilled in. Shaking with sobs, Naomi rocked Blair back and forth, stroking the hair from his face.
Jim was on his knees next to Naomi and Blair the second he was free.
"Itís all right, Naomi, heís alive. Heís fine. Heís going to be all rightÖ" Mindlessly uttering reassurances, Jim reached out and laid his hand over Blairís heart. The paramedics came up near them, but Simon stepped in their way and crossed his arms over his chest. Glaring, he said to give them a moment.
"Itís all right, Naomi, you did what you had to. I would have done the same. And he would have too." Jim whispered. "Avery was beyond help, he wanted to die, he did everything in his power to guarantee his death. It just happened to be you who pulled the trigger. Itís going to be all right."
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