Jim walked back down the corridor slowly, taking a closer look at
each drop of blood that was staining the carpet there. Several drops had been
stepped in, but he couldn't pick out any tread marks, even with his Sentinel sight.
He moved back towards the door, taking a close look at as much of the carpet as
"What's this about Sandburg being involved in a murder?"
Jim turned to see Simon standing in the office next to Wilson's body. He stood
and entered the room, glancing at the floor and the blood there. "Simon.
He's not involved."
"According to Officer Sanderson, the murder weapon
was found in his office." Simon replied, watching Jim. "And, there's
a witness who can put Sandburg here at the time of the murder." Jim looked
up. "This Ms. Fisher says she witnessed an argument between Professor Wilson
and Sandburg just a few hours before he was killed."
Jim nodded, "Yes
Simon, he was here. But he had nothing to do with this."
around the office, watching the forensics people collecting evidence. "She
also says they had an argument five days ago, and Sandburg threatened him."
"What? What do you mean, threatened him?" Things were suddenly looking
worse. He knew Blair wouldn't do this, but what had happened? "Simon,
you can't possibly believe that Blair would do something like this?"
don't know what to believe yet. I believe the evidence. And so far, it's all stacking
up against your 'partner'."
Simon's derogatory use of the term bothered
Jim. "Simon, I don't know what's going on here yet. But I can assure you,
Blair had nothing to do with it."
"Excuse me, Captain. We're finished
here." Simon turned to the forensic officer who was zipping an evidence bag
"We'll get fingerprints off the murder
weapon back at the lab. Some of the blood in the carpet was stepped in, but we
couldn't lift any sole marks. No sign of forced entry, no struggle apparent, so
I'm guessing the victim had no reason to suspect he was about to be stabbed. Happened
pretty quick." She handed the bag to her assistant who packed it up with
the rest. "That spear was sharp enough to go in quickly and with little effort.
Pierced the heart through the third and fourth rib. Death was instantaneous."
Simon nodded. "Okay." He turned to Jim. "Take Sandburg down
to the station for questioning."
"Simon, you can't..."
can, and I have to. Jim, he was here at the time of the murder. The murder weapon
was found in his office and belongs to him. We have a witness to an argument he
had with the deceased hours before the murder." He paused, taking a deep
breath. "Now, all that considered, what would you do if he wasn't your friend?"
Jim shook his head, but he had to admit Simon was right. "Okay Simon,
I'll take him in. But just to get this cleared up." Simon agreed and Jim
left the room. He walked back down the hall slowly, taking a closer look at each
drop of blood as he followed the trail to Blair's office. Officer Hanson was still
standing outside the door, looking in at Blair.
"Thanks, Ross. They're
about wrapped up now." The officer nodded, taking the hint, and left. Jim
looked in at Blair before walking into the office. He was sitting on his hands,
and rocking back and forth slightly, eyes closed. "Come on, Chief. Forensics
is going to have to look around down here. Let's go back to the station."
He put a hand on his friend's shoulder and stood for a moment, waiting for Blair
"What's going on here, Jim?" he asked, standing slowly.
"Come on, we'll talk about it downtown."
Blair stopped, turning
towards him. There was a look in the younger man's eyes that Jim had never seen
before. "Jim, what in the hell is going on?"
He put his
hand back on Blair's shoulder and gave him a gentle push towards the door. "I
don't know yet, Chief. We're just going to go downtown and get this all straightened
out." Jim knew Blair understood what that meant. "Don't worry about
it Sandburg, it'll all get worked out."
Blair turned and Jim kept his
hand on his shoulder, pushing him down the hallway, up the stairs, and back out
into the parking lot. The rain had let up, for that Jim was grateful. He and his
friend were both still soaking wet. He unlocked the passenger door and waited
until Blair climbed in before walking around to the driver's side. They drove
to the station in silence. Blair was beginning to shiver, from the cold or the
shock, he wasn't sure. Jim cranked up the heat in the truck and tried to hurry
the ten mile trip. This wasn't going to be easy, taking his friend in to face
what he had seen so many others face before. Being a friend of a cop could be
nearly as detrimental to one's credibility as being a cop yourself. The DA might
assume, based on his association with the Department, that Blair was guilty. As
they did when any cop was accused. And as it stood right now, all the evidence
was pointing to...But he couldn't have. Blair wouldn't murder anyone. Murders
needed motive, as well as opportunity. Maybe, just maybe, Blair was there at the
right time. But what could be the reason? Murders were committed most often for
love or money. Well, one could be ruled out right away, surely? Ms Fisher was
an attractive woman, but Blair had his share of attractive women. He wouldn't
need to compete with a man in his fifties. Money? No, he knew Blair too well to
even suspect, for one moment, that his partner and house mate could be capable
of such a thing as murder. It was a frame, it had to be. Who, how, and why, he
didn't know. Yet. Now, Professor Wilson murdering Blair out of sheer frustration
with the kid's enthusiasm, he could consider. But this was no time for humor.
They pulled into the station parking lot and Jim stopped the truck. "Blair,
you know what this is for, don't you?" Blair looked over at him, that same
look in his eyes. What was it? "They just have to question everyone
who was there, it's routine."
"Jim, I was there. Kathy was there.
Who else is there?" He glanced around, shaking his head. "You question
suspects, Jim. I'm a suspect, aren't I?"
Jim opened the door and motioned
for Blair to join him. "Right now, everyone's a suspect, Chief. This is just
routine, nothing to worry about. Come on, this will all get worked out, trust
me." He waited for Blair, then they both walked over to the elevator, hitting
the 7th floor button. "So, who was this Professor Wilson?"
was staring at the elevator panel, his eyes fixated on the lights. "An anthropologist.
He studies...I mean, studied the effects of modern day influences on isolated
tribes in the Amazon basin." He looked up at the numbers above the door.
"He just received the grant money he was waiting for. He was taking a team
to.... to study a tribe there." He looked over at Jim just as the elevator
came to a stop. "Jim, I didn't do this."
"I know." They
stepped out of the elevator and Jim guided Blair down the corridor, towards the
interrogation rooms. "Now listen, Chief. The Captain is going to be asking
the questions, with the Assistant DA most likely there too. Do you want a lawyer
here? It's your right."
Blair stopped and turned, "Do I need one?"
"It's your call." They had stopped just outside the door to an interrogation
room. Jim knew once they went inside, he was going to have to be Detective Ellison,
not Blair's friend Jim. How he was going to separate the two, he didn't know.
But he also knew he wouldn't be the only officer in there. "No, Chief. You'll
be fine." He opened the door and gently pushed Blair forward. "I'm your
partner, remember? Besides, you didn't do it."
They entered the room and
Jim could feel Blair tense up. He walked over to the table and pulled out a chair
for his friend. Opposite him sat Assistant DA Jane Walters, and behind her, a
stenographer. At the far end of the room was a uniformed officer Jim couldn't
recall the name of.
"Mr Sandburg, I'm Assistant DA Walters. We're just
here to take your statement and get the facts together regarding the death of
Professor Wilson." DA Walters nodded toward Captain Banks who had just entered
the room. "The Captain here will be asking some questions, and I may have
a few myself. Okay?"
Jim watched Blair as he nodded slowly, looking around
"Sandburg, what time did you leave the University tonight?"
"Around 9:00, I think. I just finished grading some finals."
"You were there all evening? Did you speak with Professor Wilson during
Blair started to glance at Jim then stopped himself. "Yes,
earlier. I was his in office, to congratulate him on the grant. Kathy was there,
she followed me down the hall when I left." He did look up to Jim then. "I
got back to my office just as Jim called. I stayed there until I had finished,
then I left for home."
"Kathy, that would be Ms Fisher?" DA
"Out loud, please Mr Sandburg. This is
being taken down."
Blair swallowed, glancing at the stenographer. "Yes."
"Did you hear anything while you were downstairs?" Jim
"No. I had a tape playing pretty loudly though." Blair glanced
over to Simon, then quickly looked away. "There was a light on in the office
when I left. I didn't hear any voices, though. Wilson and I--we didn't get along--but
I would never...Captain, you've got to believe me."
Simon looked up at
Jim then back to Blair, "Right now, Sandburg, I don't know what to believe.
This Ms Fisher, she says you and Wilson fought several times. She says you were
passed up for a grant that Wilson was awarded and you were pretty upset about
it. What kind of money are we talking about here?"
Blair was shaking his
"What grant is this? You never mentioned anything before."
Blair looked at him then, eyebrows raised. "I didn't mention
it because I didn't get it. It was months ago. Before Dr. Stoddard's offer to
go to Borneo. I wanted it then, but I don't now." He paused, looking around
the room, then back to Jim. "It was between my studies of Sentinels, and
his study in the Amazon. He won, that's all. This kind of thing happens all the
time. If I was offered the trip now, I wouldn't take it. It would've taken me
to Peru, for about a year or so, to study some of the natives there." He
looked back to Simon. "It's not like winning a lottery or something. The
money is for the expenses and research, nothing more."
I don't understand." DA Walters glanced from Blair to Simon. "Is this
your field of study?"
Blair nodded, "Yes."
what is your capacity here at the station, Mr. Sandburg? I understand you are
Jim realized he should change the subject, but he couldn't
understand Blair not mentioning something like this before. Had he really wanted
to go with Stoddard? After Peru, Blair had changed his mind. Jim had wanted to
tell him then that he didn't want him to go, to leave the Sentinel studies with
him behind. But, the kid had a career to think about. He had said this was an
opportunity that didn't come along every day. He couldn't stand in Blair's way
out of a selfish need to keep him to himself. But, when he decided to stay, Jim
had been grateful. He was getting used to having Blair around, and was enjoying
their friendship. Was he looking for another opportunity to leave, without letting
"He assists us now and again on a purely scientific level."
Simon interjected. "What about an argument last week? Ms Fisher says you
and Wilson were going at it in his office on..." Simon checked the notebook
he was holding. "Tuesday. She says you threatened him."
isn't true." Blair replied, shaking his head. "I haven't spoken to him
for some time, until tonight. He didn't care for my research and he made that
plain every chance he got. I avoided him whenever possible. But I would never
"Did he have any influence regarding your studies,
Blair shrugged. "He spoke out against my research several
times. He's been around longer, and always felt he had more influence with the
Jim knew that wasn't going to help his case any. "What about
this Kathy Fisher, who is she to Wilson?" he interjected.
DA Walters opened
her file then, "She's his assistant. Apparently, she was going to accompany
him on this research trip. She was also your assistant, for a few months, Mr.
Sandburg. She seemed rather distraught over the fight from the other week."
She looked up from the file. "Mr Sandburg, can you tell us, who would want
to kill Professor Wilson?"
"Can you tell us how
the murder weapon got from your office downstairs, up to the Professors office,
then back down again?"
"No." Blair replied again.
anyone confirm that you were alone in your office the entire time? Did the phone
ring at all? Did anyone see you walking out to your car?"
his head at each question. "No."
Jim was going to interject something
when the door opened. A uniformed officer handed a file to Simon.
Miss Walters, you want to step out here for a moment?" Simon stood and left
the room, not looking back at anyone.
Jim patted Blair on the shoulder but
said nothing in response to the look of panic that crossed his friend's face.
He followed Walters out the door, leaving Blair alone with the stenographer. "Simon,
what is it?"
"The forensics report just came in on the murder weapon."
Simon waved the file he was holding. "Sandburg's fingerprints are the only
ones. He had opportunity, and motive. And he owned the murder weapon, which just
happened to come from his own office." Simon sighed heavily, "Jim, this
has to be done."
"No, Simon. He didn't murder Wilson." Jim knew
it was going to happen, and there was nothing he could do.
he's our only suspect." Walters said. "He'll have his chance, but I
want him booked for the murder of Professor Wilson right now."
something inside sink. A uniformed officer stepped forward and Jim put his hand
out, stopping him. "No, I'll do it." He couldn't let someone else take
Blair into custody. This whole mess was piling up deeper, but he knew there was
an explanation. He wasn't going to have his friend, still sitting there cold and
shivering, be handcuffed and led away by anyone else. They had been in tough spots
before, they'd get out of this one as well.
"All right Jim, but you do
this by the book." Simon said, pulling handcuffs out of his pocket.
Simon, that isn't necessary."
"Jim, by the book. We have to do this
right all the way. Sandburg's life may depend on technicalities." he held
out the cuffs. "He'll get a chance for bail at the hearing tomorrow morning."
Jim reluctantly accepted the cuffs and entered the room. Blair looked up expectantly
and he stopped beside the chair. "I'm sorry Chief. There's nothing to worry
about here, we'll get this taken care of, I promise."
Blair stood slowly,
looking at Jim. "Jim, you know me. This is crazy."
Come on, let's just get this over with and get you out of here. I'm sorry."
Jim indicated the handcuffs and Blair turned around, a look of shock and fear
crossing his face. He put his hands behind his back and Jim found it very difficult
to cuff him. Blair Sandburg was not a criminal, and yet he was forced to treat
him as exactly that. He wanted to take him home, not downstairs to Central Booking.
He had to swallow hard against what he was about to say. "You have the right
to remain silent..."
"Anything you say may
be held against you. You have the right to an attorney, and to have them present
during questioning." He faltered for a moment, but this had to be done. It
had to be done right for Blair's sake. "Do you understand these rights as
I have explained them to you?" Blair simply nodded, not looking at him.
worry, Sandburg. By tomorrow morning you'll be out on bail and we'll get this
straightened out." His friend turned then, hands cuffed behind his back,
and looked at him. A look of complete helplessness flashed through his eyes. Gone
was his famous lost puppy glance. It had been replaced by that of a deer caught
in the headlights. And Jim couldn't help but feel like a passenger in the car.
Blair felt numb as he was led down the corridor to Central Booking.
How could this be happening? How could Jim let this happen?
Someone took off the handcuffs and Blair realized he was being fingerprinted.
Where was Jim? He had said something about arranging bail, then left Blair with
these officers. The last time he'd had this done was when he filled out his Observer
paperwork. He'd been one of the good guys, then. What was he now? Just
another suspect? He watched silently as they printed both hands. This wasn't supposed
to happen to innocent people. What in the hell was going on? Professor
Wilson, murdered! Why someone would kill the Professor, Blair didn't understand.
But why they would try and make it look as though it had been him, Blair didn't
want to understand. To hate another man, enough to kill, well he had seen a lot
of that lately. But to frame another man for it? No matter how many times
he witnessed the results of such an anger, he had never before been a part of
it. They were taking his picture now. Blair found he couldn't look the officers
in the face. They were treating him just like another suspect. Yesterday he was
Jim's partner. Today, what was he? He had never felt truly liked by Jim's co-workers.
He wasn't stupid, he knew they merely tolerated him for Jim's sake. He heard more
than one passing remark about his appearance almost daily. They questioned why
the best Detective in the Precinct would refuse a partner, and yet take on this
Someone handcuffed him again and he was led towards the elevator at the
far end of the hall.
"Looks like Ellison's going to have to get himself
a real partner, now. Can't say I'm surprised." someone said behind him. Blair
turned to see who it was but only saw several uniformed officers watching him
being led down the hallway. Who had said that, he wasn't sure.
cells were down several flights. He knew this was a mistake, he knew Jim would
find out what had happened and get him out of here. But just then he felt, for
the first time in a long time, truly alone. They approached the holding cell and
Blair looked up, forcing his mind to return to the here and now. There were three
cells. One was empty, and he prayed they would put him in there. One was occupied
by three scantily-clad women, the other held several men Blair would have gone
out of his way to go around if he saw them on the street.
Blair was led to
the third. As the door was opened his cuffs were removed and he was pushed inside.
"Have fun." the officer said under his breath, laughing a little.
occupants had moved to the far side as ordered, but immediately came forward as
the officer secured the door. Blair turned away from them and moved to a corner,
trying very hard not to make eye contact. At first, they were willing to ignore
him as he pressed himself into the corner where the bars met. He kept an eye on
the officer at the desk, thinking that as long as he was sitting there, nothing
was going to happen. Jim would get him out, just as soon as he could. But
how soon was that?
"My my, there's a pretty one." Someone in
the back laughed, and pushed his way through the bodies to stand in front of Blair.
He looked up quickly, noting the man's size. He was as tall as Jim, but at least
twice his weight. "You look familiar, pretty boy."
Blair turned away.
God, this isn't happening! He wanted to call out for the officer, but
he was looking away. Surely here in the holding cell inside the Precinct, nothing
was going to happen? A little verbal abuse, maybe. Some intimidating. He could
handle that. He knew it would be best to try and ignore them, not provoke them
in any way. But he was running out of space as the bigger man drew closer.
I know you." he said, standing now just inches away. "You work with
that cop Ellison, right?" Several others behind him began to agree, moving
closer. "You a cop too?"
Blair looked up then, scanning the faces
that were pressing in on him. They looked somewhat familiar, but he thought it
was just a vague 'criminal' resemblance. "No, I'm not." he replied,
suddenly understanding what they were thinking. He glanced over to the desk. The
officer on duty was still looking away, but surely...
"Yeah, I think you
are. That Ellison busted me twice before. Thanks to him, I'm on my third strike,"
the big one continued.
"Maybe they want to give us a treat, before we
go?" someone else said.
"Yeah. How about three strikes, and you're
Oh God! Before Blair could react, the big man was on him,
pulling his head around by the hair with one hand, the other pressing into his
throat as the fingers curled around his neck. He was pushing Blair's back into
the bars, digging fingers into the flesh of his throat. Instinctively Blair kicked
out, but his attacker was too close, and other arms were grabbing him, holding
him pinned against the bars.
"They can't do any more to me. Three strikes,
I'm out," the big one was saying. "So, I think I'll give Ellison a little
Blair didn't see the fist that smashed into his face, forcing
his head violently into the bars behind him. The next blow was to his gut, and
the sudden, violent pain would have doubled him over if he wasn't being held upright.
More pain shot through him as another, then another fist slammed into his stomach.
He wanted to fall to the floor, to protect himself, but they were holding him,
pinning his arms against the bars. Another fist contacted his stomach and he cried
out with the pain. The air was forced violently out of his lungs and black spots
danced across his eyes. The pain was increasing with each blow. Where was
the officer? Why was this happening? Pain was clouding his mind. God,
it hurts! Another fist struck his jaw and he tasted blood. Another into
his stomach and he cried out again as another, more violent stabbing pain shot
through his gut. It felt as if the fists were going through him. God, stop!
He was hit again and his knees buckled. The hands holding him up let go, and he
fell to the floor, doubled over, crying out as a booted foot struck his side.
He rolled over, holding his arms up to protect himself. The big one reached down
and Blair tried to push him away. The pain was too much, he had no strength against
his attacker. Large hands wrapped around the collar of his shirt and he was lifted
half off the floor. He gasped at the pain as he tried to fight back with muscles
that no longer wanted to respond. Somewhere through the intensity that was stabbing
through his gut, he realized the cell door was opening. Finally. But
the officers who came rushing in were too late to stop the huge fist from slamming
into his cheek, sending him almost gratefully into blackness, away from the pain.