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by Kristine Williams

Part 4

"Jim, how's the kid?"

Jim looked up from his desk as Simon approached, chewing his ever present cigar. "He's hurt, Simon." Jim replied, glancing around the room at the faces there. "He was three floors down, for God's sake. This should never have happened."

Simon motioned for Jim to follow him into the office. Once there he closed the door, "Take a seat, Jim."

"Simon, I need to get over to the University." But Jim sat anyway.

"I know, this will just take a minute. It's about Nelson, downstairs." Simon sat behind his desk and pulled the cigar from his mouth, twirling it around in his fingers. "Both he and Scott said they didn't see anything, until it was over."

"And you believe them?"

"Jim, these are our own guys." Simon replied, hotly.

Jim shook his head. Our own guys. "And what was Blair, Simon?"

Simon sighed, "Okay, I know. But, the kid was under arrest for murder. Still is as far as I'm concerned. Until you find some hard evidence to clear him."

Jim looked away for a moment, then back to Simon. "I will. He didn't do this Simon. I can't believe you think he's capable of it."

"I don't, not really. And there's still no excuse for what happened in that cell. Apparently they thought he was a cop. And you know how it can be in there." Jim nodded. All the more reason to keep Blair out. "Is he at your place now?"

"Yeah, he's home. I think it's safe to say he isn't going anywhere for a while, he needs to rest." Jim stood, "But I need to get back to the University. I spoke to several people in the building today and no one heard the argument Ms Fisher claims took place, except one. Professor Kinyon. She's going to be in this afternoon and I need to see her." Simon nodded and resumed chewing his cigar as Jim left the office.

As he stepped out of Simon's office, someone approached.

"Hey, Ellison. You looking for a new partner yet?"

Jim looked up and saw Officer Nelson standing there. "You son of a bitch!"

Jim must have made a lunge, he couldn't really remember, but arms wrapped around him as Nelson fell backwards, quickly trying to get out of the larger man's way.

"Jim!" Simon was pulling Jim back, and two other men were stepping between them. "Jim, take it easy. Calm down." he moved around from behind Jim and faced Nelson. "Just take it easy."

Jim shrugged out of Simon's hands and glanced around. The other Detectives had all approached, pushing Nelson away from him. Other hands were patting him on the back, someone said something derogatory about uniformed officers and he turned, trying to identify the source.

"I'm all right Simon. Just keep him away from me." Jim pulled on his jacket and walked quickly out of the office, not turning back.

"Hey Ellison, hold the elevator."

"Mike. I'm sorry about that. I just..."

"Not a problem, Jim." Detective Jenkins hurried into the elevator with Jim, nodding. "That Nelson's a dick. He's been bucking for his gold shield and missing for the past three years. Hey, how's Sandburg?"

"He'll live. Thanks for asking."

"Don't let them get to you. I know what happened shouldn't have, and I feel guilty just being a cop sometimes. But those uniforms, well some of them just don't like the kid. Personally, I think he's okay. Maybe needs a haircut, but he's been the best thing to happen to you since Jack."

"Yes. Yes he has." Jim replied. The doors opened then on the second floor and Mike got out, slapping Jim on the arm as he did so.

On his way to the parking garage, Jim passed several uniformed and plainclothes officers. He saw these same people every day, and had for the past four years. Some of them were friends, some just co-workers. But all of them were cops. He had never really thought about how his friend was viewed by the others in the department. He had just assumed since he was working with him, that he was accepted. Blair had never said anything before about not feeling comfortable around the others. Were they tolerating him for Jim's sake, as Blair suggested? The Detectives, at least, seemed to like him well enough. He reached the truck and climbed in, glancing momentarily at the empty passenger seat. Blair was his partner, cop or not. Before Jack and after Jack's disappearance, Jim had refused partners. But Blair was different. He wasn't a cop, therefore it was easier for Jim to accept him being there. But to think his 'friends' were just putting up with him because of Jim. That, he didn't want to believe.

He arrived at the University just before 4:00, when he was told Professor Kinyon would be finished with class. Her office was right next door to Wilson's. Chances were, if there was a fight and she was in her office, she would have heard it. He walked down the hall, noting that the carpet had been cleaned. Forensics hadn't been able to pull any sole marks from the few drops of blood that had been stepped in. No blood had been found on Blair's shoes, but they hadn't expected to, after he'd been in the rain that night. And if Blair had stepped in blood, there would be imprints of his sneakers in the blood smeared down the hall. Jim paused momentarily at the door to Wilson's office, checking the seal on the yellow Police Line tape across the entrance. Professor Kinyon's office was one door down. He knocked.

"Come in." A female voice called.

Jim opened the door and stepped in, looking around. "Professor Kinyon?" He couldn't find anyone in the room. Just then a woman's head poked up from behind the desk, followed by several armfuls of papers. Jim caught a fleeting glimpse of a slim woman in her early fifties. Greying hair pulled back in a bun that had several escapees hanging down. No less than three pencils sticking out of the bun itself. Her glasses were threatening to fall off the end of her nose as she glanced up, peering through them at Jim.

"Yes? Oh, pardon me, I'm not too coordinated, I'm afraid. I just dropped the entire contents of my briefcase all over the floor." She disappeared behind the desk again, then reappeared with an open briefcase stuffed full of loose papers.

"Professor, I'm Detective Ellison. I called yesterday?"

"Oh yes, come in. Have a seat. I'll be just a moment." She ducked behind the desk again as Jim sat down. "It's about Professor Wilson, isn't it? Poor man. I can't believe he's gone. You know, I was just planning his congratulatory party the other day. Poor man." She reappeared again and sat down, pulling her chair up to the desk. Jim was reminded of his favorite grade school teacher, gently greying hair, glasses with that old fashioned chain holding them around her neck. Everyone's favorite grandmother, if a bit young for that.

He opened his mouth to speak, but she continued.

"I just can't believe Blair Sandburg has been arrested. It's just not possible. Although, I must admit, after that argument the other day, or was it last week? Yes, that's it, last week. I just couldn't believe it. I almost went over there myself, to see what on earth was going on. I mean, Professor Wilson just wasn't the type to argue like that. Well, that's not really true. You see, he was a hard man to get along with sometimes. Not that I had any trouble, mind you. But, I'm afraid Blair is just one of those people who, well, I can see his enthusiasm sometimes wear on the older Professors here. But you know, that's what keeps us young. He's just so bright, and the students love him." She sighed and Jim tried again to speak, but he wasn't quick enough. "Did you know that Ms Fisher was his assistant for a semester? Well, that wasn't taking her far enough, apparently. I mean that in the scientific sense, of course." She smiled and Jim tried to cut in but failed. "You know, if I wasn't in my forties, and married, I'd make a play for the young man myself. He's simply adorable. But, she was more career-minded. Some women are like that. She saw Professor Wilson, poor man, as someone she could get farther with, scholastically. Tsk. Little did she know, Professor Wilson just wasn't the sharing type." She adjusted her glasses but kept on talking. "You see, he liked to have his assistants do the dirty work, and by that I mean the boring, book work that so much research is made up of. But then, he was famous for taking all of the credit in his papers. I guess he wasn't famous enough, though, if she didn't realize it. Hum, there's a thought. I suppose she was more interested in the research herself. I mean, after all, being a part of such a grant was an honor. Whether you got credit for much of the work is beside the point. In fact, I was stunned myself when I heard Blair had refused Dr Stoddard's offer to accompany him to Borneo. That was after he was passed up for his own grant, you know. The one that Professor Wilson was awarded. Yes, I was surprised. That kind of opportunity doesn't come along often. And he may never get another chance for such notoriety." She sighed again and Jim made a play, but was ignored. "Well, he is so devoted to his own studies, I suppose he just didn't want to stop for the year it would have taken to work with Dr Stoddard. Did you know, Professor Wilson was so adamantly against Blair's field, that rumor has it he influenced the Board against him? Well, that's just rumor, mind you. I don't believe much of it myself. Although, that is what the argument was about. But still, Blair Sandburg, murderer? I simply don't believe it."

The sudden silence startled Jim. He had just realized she was finished when she started up again.

"But, here's the tape. I guess you would know better if it was a real fight or not. I mean, we all have little disagreements and verbal confrontations now and again. How bad could it be? And if Blair already knew, in fact had known for months now, that the grant wasn't his, why on earth would he kill someone over it? We all have skeptics in regards to our chosen fields of study or research. Why on earth Professor Wilson's dislike of Blair's studies would warrant murder, I'll never understand. No. I simply don't believe Blair Sandburg is capable of murder." She stopped suddenly again and Jim was ready.

"Tape?" He had accepted the cassette she handed him during the speech and now looked at her questioningly.

"Yes. The tape." she replied simply. "That I was dictating into." she paused, waiting for him to understand. "During the argument next door?" She realized he had no idea what she meant. "You see, I dictate my notes. Then my husband types them for me at night. He enjoys that, says it's relaxing to just listen to my voice on tape and sit at the computer." She shook her head, smiling. "Well, anyway, during the notes from last week's lecture--I recite them to myself--before giving them to the students. Anyway, I was in the middle of them when I heard raised voices from the next office. Professor Wilson's office. I walked over to the wall, to listen, and I had the tape recorder in my hands, still recording. I didn't realize until that evening, when my husband was listening to the tape, that the argument was on there. Granted, it's a bit muffled, being through the walls and all, but I understand that you people have ways of getting sounds off of things like this?"

He was shocked. Not so much about the fortuitous cassette tape in his hand, but at the lung capacity of Professor Kinyon. For such a small, delicate looking woman, she was inexhaustible.

"I hope I was able to answer all of your questions."

Jim quickly tried to review the questions he had planned to ask, trying to see if there was anything he needed to know that her little dissertation hadn't already covered. "Ah, yes. I believe so. Except for just one thing, you said Professor Wilson was famous for not sharing credit for the research? Is this a big issue?"

She raised her eyebrows for a moment, looking surprised. "Why yes. Yes indeed. Oh, I guess in your line of work you wouldn't understand. Well, in the scientific field, your name is your link to success. You see, when research is done, and papers are published, it's all in the name. Yes indeed, it's all in the name. If you work for a year assisting someone, finding their data, correlating the findings, and even making discoveries and observations of your own, you need to be acknowledged in the paper that is published with the findings. You see, if you hope to go on and fund your own research, or apply to work with someone else, you must be able to show a...well a resume if you will, of the work you are capable of. Like Blair, he's well known in his research and contributions, which is why Dr Stoddard thought so highly of him. But alas, when Professor Wilson has--I mean had--when he had his assistants doing work for him, they were inevitably left out completely when the findings were published. Now, Professor Wilson had just been awarded a large grant for a fantastic study. I suppose it would be worth her while to accompany him, but I'm sure Ms Fisher knew she would be getting no credit. None whatsoever."

Jim was trying to absorb her words as quickly as they were spewing forth, but he found himself playing catch up when she stopped. "So, this research credit, it's a vital part of a person's career?"

"Oh my yes. Well, if that's your chosen field. I myself, well I'm just an instructor. I leave the research for the more adventurous souls. But indeed, if I had worked that hard, and found out there was going to be no recognition in it, well, I certainly wouldn't have signed on with the same Professor for another term, let alone a year on a grant. No, all things considered, in light of what has happened, it's just too bad Blair hadn't been awarded the grant. Yes, just too bad."

"And the grant itself? What happens to that now?" Jim asked quickly, before she could continue.

"Well," she thought for a moment, "It would have normally gone to the next in line, which would be Blair. But, considering the...well the trouble he's in right now, I'm sure they've passed him up. Poor young man. Actually, I did hear that Ms Fisher was still going ahead with the plans, so it's possible she was able to convince the Board to let her go ahead with it. That could be. Yes, that could very well be. If she was able to show her ability to the Board, they would allow her to head up the research, but only with a solid base behind her. Which, I believe Professor Wilson had already established."


"Yes, you know...support staff, research assistants, teaching fellows, that type of base. If you have the right combination of researchers, the work just does itself. Well, in a nutshell. Blair would have been Dr Stoddard's first assistant, in charge of the collection of data. I still don't understand why he turned that opportunity down." She shook her head, "Just think, if he was in Borneo right now, none of this would have happened. Oh, not that I think he had anything to do with it, mind you. But at least he wouldn't be a suspect, now would he?"

Jim had entertained that same thought on the drive over. But, he reminded himself, it had been Blair's decision not to go. He had seen how important the trip was when Blair mentioned it. He hadn't wanted him to go, but he had understood that passing it up could have a lasting effect on Blair's career. It was easy to think of Blair as just his partner, and Guide. Sometimes he forgot Blair had a life away from Jim's police work and Sentinel abilities. There were times, like today, when he realized that being his partner was not Blair's career path. But, Blair had decided not to go. It was his decision. And Jim was grateful for it. He liked having the kid around, and often needed him around. No, this was not due to that missed opportunity. Blair didn't kill anyone, and he was going to prove it.

"Okay, well, thank you for all your help. If I think of anything else...." Jim stood to leave.

"Oh, certainly. You know where to find me. I only wish I had been of more help. That's the only argument that I actually caught on tape." She shook her head, making a clicking sound with her teeth as she removed her glasses. "If only he scheduled all of his arguments when I had a tape running."

Jim stopped. "All of his arguments?"

"Yes, indeed. Professor Wilson had few friends. He often engaged in heated conversations, mostly over the phone. I normally only caught half of what was being said, and at that it was only one side of the conversation, being on the phone as it was. But, I don't believe my husband mentioned them on the tapes. I could check, I suppose. Would that help?"

"Yes, it would. If you keep the tapes?"

"Oh yes. I keep them all. I'll ask my husband--if I can remember the days--well, I'm sure I can if I give it some quiet contemplation. Shall I call you?"

"Please." Jim reached into his back pocket. "Here's my card. If you find anything on your tapes, or think of anything, anything at all, please call me."

She accepted the card, putting her glasses back on. "I certainly will, Detective. I'm just sure Blair is innocent."

"Yes ma'am, so am I." Jim slipped the cassette tape into his shirt pocket as he left, closing the door behind him. He stepped over to Professor Wilson's door, broke the seal on the tape, and entered the office. Once inside he walked around the white tape still on the floor, outlining where the Professor's body had been found. He glanced around the room, letting his eyes scan the area slowly. The blood was still on the carpet in the office, having been closed to outsiders the office was not allowed to be cleaned until the investigation was over. He focused again on the blood that had been stepped in, trying to discern a sole print in the smear. There was none. No matter how hard he tried, all he could see was a flat print, no tread or markings of any kind. It was as if something hard and flat had been pressed into the blood, but there were no other blood smears found in the office other than those on the floor. He switched focus to smell, trying to find more blood, maybe a spot or smudge that forensics had missed, but he was unsuccessful.

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