Shadow of a Doubt
Jim checked his watch again as he parked next to the building that
housed Blair's basement office. He was early, but hoped to find his partner so
they could have a talk, then he'd take Blair out to eat, and let him pick the
place. The next couple of weeks weren't going to be easy, for either of them,
but they'd get through it. It was early evening, just after 5:00, but for a Monday,
the campus was nearly deserted. Jim entered the building at the far side, and
had to walk to the end to reach the staircase that would take him to the artifact
storage room that served as Blair's office. He unconsciously hurried past the
door marked "Professor M. Kinyon", just in case. As kind and intelligent
as the woman was, Jim didn't want to stand in the hallway for the amount of time
it would take just to exchange greetings with her. He hurried past her office
without incident and started down the staircase that wound around and down until
it reached the building's basement. Blair's office door was open, but he knocked
as he stepped inside.
"Jim?" Blair's voice
answered from opposite a wall of book-laden shelves. "Am I late?"
Chief, I'm early." Jim walked around the shelves and found Blair at his desk,
surrounded by paper, as usual. "Just thought I might as well come here as
anywhere." He pulled up a chair and sat down, glancing at the papers strewn
about the desk. "Go ahead and finish up, I'll wait."
and took off his glasses, setting them down on a pile of folders. "Not much
left to do. I've got the tests ready, just have to give them all week, and grade
them next week. How did your meeting with Simon go?"
Jim nodded, and glanced
around the office, making sure they were alone. His meeting with Simon was the
reason he had come to pick Blair up early, and was also the reason he'd had to
turn a couple of his cases over to Mike Jenkins, so he'd have more free time.
"Fine," he replied, having changed his mind about how best to bring
up the subject. "How about dinner? My treat."
Blair laughed for a
second, then looked suspiciously at Jim. "What's up?"
Jim shook his
head. "What makes you think something's up? Come on," Jim stood and
slapped Blair lightly on the arm. "I'll take you to that Greek place you
Blair grabbed his jacket quickly and followed Jim out the door,
apparently choosing not to question his good fortune any further. They drove the
four blocks down to Hadi's, a Greek campus hot spot that Jim had grown to like
since meeting the younger man. He kept the conversation light, asking his partner
about his day, and explaining what little happened at the Precinct that he had
missed. He found these days, when Blair had too much work at the University to
come into work with him, to be somehow disjointed. It was finals week, so after
Blair administered some tests, and they got past the trial, things would get back
to normal for awhile. After their dinners arrived, Jim knew it was time to get
"So, Jim, what is the real reason we're here?" Blair inquired,
looking Jim in the eyes.
Should have known. "You and I have a
meeting tomorrow morning with Assistant DA Sanchez," Jim said, stabbing his
fork into a piece of lamb. "Brackett's trial has been moved up, Chief. You're
going to have to testify this week." Jim held Blair's eyes as long as he
could, noting the fear that flashed across them. "I know this is sudden,
but the judge moved his calendar up." The words were slowly sinking in, making
an impact on Blair's expressive face.
"I guess it's about time, huh?"
Blair attempted levity, shrugging and playing with his fork in the salad.
I know this isn't anyone's idea of a good time, but there's nothing to worry about,"
Jim said, watching Blair. "It's no different from any of the other cases
you've watched go to court. We just get up there, give some testimony, and it's
Blair nodded, but he was watching his salad instead of Jim. "Yeah,
only this time I have to go up there." He glanced up, then looked
around for a second.
"And I'll be with you," Jim replied. He knew
this wouldn't be easy. "Sandburg, there's nothing to be afraid of. We'll
talk to Beverly tomorrow. She's going to fill us in, and tell you what to expect.
Then, you go on the stand once, maybe twice, tell them exactly what happened,
and it's over." Jim paused, trying to get Blair to look him in the eye. When
he finally did, Jim continued. "I'll be right there, and they'll call me
up, too. This is just the final step, Chief. Then Brackett's out of everyone's
hair for good. Okay? Lee Brackett's going to jail for the rest of his life, partner.
I assure you."
Blair nodded, then took a deep breath and seemed to perk
up a little. "Yeah, you're right. Just gotta get through this week, and it'll
all be over, right?"
"Right." Jim watched as Blair ate his first
bite of salad. He'd known this would happen, and he had done his best to keep
his own attitude light and casual. But, after what Brackett had done, Jim knew
any time his name was mentioned, Blair would retreat just a little. He was going
to have to keep a close watch on his partner, make sure he didn't fall into an
emotional backdraft he couldn't climb out of.
"One thing I don't understand."
Blair set the tip of his fork back into the salad bowl and twirled it idly, looking
up at Jim. "What's he using for a defense? I mean, why is there even a trial?"
Jim finished chewing his lamb and shrugged a little, glancing around. "I'm
not sure, exactly. But you know the rules, Chief, everyone gets their chance in
Blair raised his eyebrows as he nodded, staring at something a
million miles away. A minute passed, and he seemed to bring himself back to the
conversation. "What do you mean, not sure exactly?"
I'm not sure exactly," Jim replied. Maybe he should have waited until they
were home? Blair wasn't eating much, exhibiting the same reaction to stress that
Jim tended to display. But he had to make his partner understand, this was just
another part of the process. "We know he knows about my Sentinel abilities,
and he knows no one else does. He may use that to damage my credibility as a witness."
He saw another flash of fear race across Blair's face, and hurried to defuse it.
"But, that's only a guess. Besides, we can put him away based on what he
did to you, and the murder of Delaney and his dealer. There was nothing unusual
about that case, Chief."
"But no one saw him do that."
still have Kostov," Jim replied. "He's been in FBI custody this whole
time, waiting for the trial before he's deported. Testifying against Brackett
was one of the contingencies he agreed to." Blair raised his eyebrows again
and nodded slowly, as if trying to force himself to believe it. "Just hang
in there, buddy. It will all be over soon."
"Yeah, thanks, Jim."
Blair nodded and tried to pull himself back from wherever it was he had drifted.
"So, when do we do all of this?"
"Tomorrow morning we'll talk
to Sanchez. She'll let us know the details. Don't worry, our testimony will work
around your schedule at the University. Simon gave my caseload to Jenkins for
the next few days, so we can concentrate on this and get it over with."
Jim nodded and went back to eating, watching Blair as he
did the same, but with less appetite. They'd get through this. Tomorrow, they'd
meet with the DA, find out what was happening and when, and take it all one step
at a time. Blair could handle it. He had never been on the stand before, but Jim
would make sure he knew he wasn't alone. Blair was the victim here. They both
They finished dinner while making small talk about the upcoming tests
Blair was giving during the week. Jim never had a problem keeping an interest
in any conversation, and with Blair's storytelling ability, he had no trouble
paying attention, and keeping his partner from drifting back to the trial. By
the time they left the restaurant, Blair's spirits seemed genuinely lifted. Jim
knew that would be temporary, but every little bit helped. They drove home in
silence, listening to the Santana tape Jim preferred. When they reached the loft,
and were both sitting on the couch, Blair's mood changed again.
I don't understand. Brackett stole a canister of the Ebola virus. He tried to
highjack a plane. Then, he escaped from prison. What do they need my testimony
for? Isn't that enough to get him back into jail?"
Jim shook his head
and set down the cup of tea Blair had made. "I don't know exactly, that's
what the DA will explain tomorrow. All I know is, the CIA had their hands in that
case, and it very well might not be relevant in this one."
"Meaning, the lawyers won't be allowed to bring it up." Jim held
out his hands in an effort to explain. "Each case has to stand alone, they're
separate things. That doesn't matter, though. We've got him on what he did to
you, and the murder of Delaney. Plus, another attempted kidnaping, and a hundred
other charges when he pulled that stunt at the warehouse."
but I've seen plenty of these sure-fire cases go bad, Jim."
Chief, I know. But you're going to have to trust me on this one. It's going to
be okay." Jim knew, better than anyone, how easily a sure-fire case could
go horribly wrong in court. But he also knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that
Brackett was never going to get his hands on Blair again. "What about your
tests, when do you have to give them?" Maybe focusing on something he could
control would give Blair something to hold onto.
"Um...In the afternoon,
except Friday," Blair replied. He was sitting in a corner of the couch, rubbing
his forehead tiredly. "I think I'll turn in." He set down his cup but
made no move to get up.
"You going to be okay with this?"
shook his head, sighing as he slowly got up. "No."
"No, Jim, it's okay." Blair waved a hand at him as he stood in front
of the couch. "I'll be okay, as long as..."
"I'll be there,
too. So will Simon," Jim replied.
Blair nodded and turned towards his
room. "Thanks Jim."
"Goodnight." Jim stayed on the couch,
listening to his partner in the bathroom, then in his own room. He stayed there
until he heard the rhythmic breathing and steady heartbeat of a sleeper, then
turned in himself. Blair hadn't had a nightmare in weeks, maybe it was even a
month or so now, but Jim expected one tonight. From upstairs, directly above his
housemate's room, Jim could tune into his breathing pattern without effort and
set his own mental sensitivity to be alerted at the slightest change.
The jury had fallen silent, as if they left the room, one by
one, and there was no one left but Brackett. Lee Brackett, standing before the
Judge, smiling. Blair was in the Judge's chair, and Jim in the witness stand.
There was a gun in Brackett's hand, and he was bringing it up slowly, smiling
all the while.
"Which one shall it be?" he asked, pointing the gun
first at Blair, then at Jim. "Who wants to go first?"
over the desk at Brackett, crashing into him and sending them both to the floor.
Jim scrambled to get out of the witness box, but he couldn't get free of the seat.
By the time he was up, Brackett and Blair were standing in front of him. There
was a gun pressed into Blair's chest, and a second gun in Blair's hand, pointed
"Sandburg, what are you doing?"
"He trusted you,
Ellison." Brackett smiled, cocking the gun and pressing it harder into Blair's
Blair cocked his gun as well, aiming at Jim's chest while looking into
his eyes. Jim watched as his partner began to squeeze the trigger of the gun.
In his eyes was a mixture of fear and hate, but which emotion was directed at
Jim, he didn't know. He just knew it was going to end. Him, Blair, Brackett...it
was all going to end, here and now. But if Blair shot him, then Brackett would
kill Blair...He had to do something.
It was too late, Jim heard the explosion
as he lunged forward. "Blair!" Jim rushed forward, and found himself
sitting up in bed, his heart racing as the sheets slid down his chest. He glanced
around quickly, taking note of the barest sign of sunrise coming through the glass.
Tuning in to his partner below him, Jim heard the still-sleeping pattern of easy
breathing. Had he shouted out loud? If he had, at least Blair hadn't heard. Jim
looked at the clock as he rubbed his face, pushing the last of the vision from
his mind. 6:30. If he got up now, he could take a hot shower, and there might
be time for the tank to reload before Blair got up. He really was going to have
to think about getting a larger hot water tank one of these days.
Jim got out
of bed and quietly padded down the stairs in bare feet. The bathroom was right
across the hall from Blair's room, but with both doors shut, Jim knew his housemate
would sleep through any noise he made. Still, he kept the shower quick, hoping
to save some hot water. The dream had taken him totally by surprise, and left
him with an uneasy feeling. Last time he had a dream like that, it ended with
him shooting Blair in the chest, after having aimed for Brackett. But this time...what
had it meant? Did Blair not trust Jim to take care of matters when it came to
Lee Brackett? Or did Jim have his own doubts? No...no, it wasn't a good idea to
over-analyze these things. A nightmare was just that, a nightmare. Nothing more.
When he got out and started to towel himself off, Jim made another auditory check
on Blair. This time, instead of a sleep pattern from the bedroom, Jim found him
in the kitchen, his breathing and heartbeat coupled with the sound and smell of
coffee brewing. Jim picked up his watch from the counter and checked it as he
put it on. 6:55. They'd have time for breakfast before heading in to see Beverly.
"Hey, Chief." Jim greeted Blair as he passed the kitchen. His partner
looked tired. A look that was perpetuated by the hair that kept falling in front
of his face.
"Morning." Blair yawned at the end of the word. "Hot
"Should be. Did you sleep okay?" Blair had pushed the
hair from his face, but it didn't dissipate the look Jim had seen.
I guess," Blair nodded. "I'm gonna hit the shower, then I'll start breakfast."
He passed Jim and started down the short hallway.
"I can manage breakfast
this morning, Chief."
Blair turned in front of the bathroom door and shook
his head. "No, Jim, it's okay. I'll do it."
"What, you don't
like my eggs?" Jim asked, smiling to off-set the mock indignation in his
Blair returned the smile and shook his head. "No, man, I just need
to keep things normal, okay?"
Jim nodded, "Okay." He understood.
Blair nodded again and stepped into the bathroom as Jim turned to go up to his
own room and get dressed. If Blair thought it would be easier to pretend it was
just another morning, then Jim could play along. For as long as it lasted.
Blair shut the water off and stood there for a moment, happy
to have ended a shower after Jim with warm water. He often felt guilty using the
hot water all the time, but he just normally got up first. Except when something
was up, and Jim was getting up before him on purpose for one reason or another.
Usually in order to help Blair through the latest crisis. God, he had to stop
doing this. He had to stop relying on Jim to pull him up when things got
rough. He had never leaned on anyone before, why was he doing it now? Sure, before
meeting Jim, Blair had never been targeted by a serial killer, shot by an international
terrorist, or even hit on the head. But that couldn't...what could that have to
do with it? Okay, so they shared a little more than most male-bonding fishing
trips gave the average two friends, but...that didn't give Blair the right to
depend on Jim to help him through each and every emotional crisis he might have.
What must Jim think of him? And did he think...Would Blair be there for him?
smell of coffee coming from the kitchen roused Blair from his thoughts, forcing
him to step out of the shower and into a chilly bathroom. He hurried to towel
off, then wrapped the towel around his waist and walked into the bedroom quickly
to get some clothes on. Jim was still upstairs, getting dressed, so Blair checked
the time. They had nearly an hour before their meeting with the DA. Blair was
determined not to let Jim down. He'd go in there, follow his partner's lead, and
just do exactly what he was told, answer every question, and it would all be okay.
After all, he wasn't the one on trial, Brackett was. And Jim was right, he hadn't
really relied on his Sentinel abilities to catch him, it was pure, good old-fashioned
detective work that netted Lee Brackett at the warehouse that day. Not like when
Jim witnessed Tommy Juno kill his dear friend and undercover cop Danny Choy. That
had been Blair's first, real experience with death...with murder. And Jim...Jim
had reacted so...Danny's death had hit him so hard, Blair had never seen that
before. He often wondered if Jim would feel the same way about him if anything
like that happened. His grief had run so deep then, even his Sentinel abilities
had been affected. Sometimes, remembering Jim's reaction, Blair felt almost...jealous.
"Hey Sandburg, you making breakfast or what?" Jim called from the
Blair stirred. "Yeah, I'm coming." Jeez, how long had
he been sitting there with just one sock on? "Sorry Jim." He
shoved the other sock on and came out to the kitchen, accepting the cup of coffee
Jim handed him, then pulled out some pans and eggs. They had an unwritten rule,
to go along with many of Jim's written ones, that had Blair on permanent breakfast
duty. It was a task he enjoyed. Making eggs and toast was an easy way to ease
his way into the morning, and concentrate on something other than whatever might
be bothering him, like this morning. Blair realized, as he was dishing up the
eggs, just how careful Jim had been the night before when he broke the news about
the trial. He also knew that he could be selfish sometimes, emotionally, and Jim
didn't deserve that. Just what was it that made him so anxiety ridden, and Jim
so...stable? Blair was constantly studying the older man, and could anticipate
his reactions often, but he still couldn't apply them to his own reactive personality.
"Hey, Jim, listen," Blair set the pan down and took a seat, looking
at his eggs for a moment, then up to his partner. "About last night, I'm
sorry if I was a little panicky."
Jim shook his head, setting down the
coffee cup he had just taken a drink from. "Don't worry about it, Chief,
you'll be fine."
Blair waved a hand in the air, nodding and shaking his
head almost at the same time. "No, I know I will, Jim. I mean last night,
I wasn't so okay. I just want you to know, I'm not going to disappoint you here
"Blair, I know you're not going to disappoint me. You
never have. We'll get through this, and we'll move on." He checked his watch.
"What time is your class?"
"1:00 is the first one. I've got
two, today." Blair picked up a fork, but didn't feel like eating, so he played
around with the eggs for a minute. "What are you going to be doing, if you
gave your caseload to Mike?"
"Catchup, Chief. There's always paperwork
to be done. Suspects to interview, research to be done. The city never sleeps,
you know." Jim finished his eggs and looked at Blair. "I'll drive you
to class when we're finished with Beverly. I for one will be glad when these classes
of yours are over for a bit, I'm getting tired of having just Simon to talk to."
Blair laughed, nodding his head. He often found it difficult to keep up a conversation
with the Captain, even though Blair typically had no problem keeping up a conversation
with just about anyone. Jim and Captain Banks were good friends, but even Jim
occasionally found himself having more in common with Blair's point of view than
the other man's. Although there were times when Jim would definitely side with
Simon, usually when it had to do with Blair wanting to do something he really
shouldn't. Blair realized Jim was still watching him, sitting there drinking his
coffee, so he forced himself to eat some breakfast, then cleared the plates. Jim
started putting on shoes and told Blair to go ahead and leave the dishes for later,
so he did. He hurried to put on his own shoes, then caught the coat Jim handed
him and followed him out the door.
"Don't forget your keys," Jim
reminded him as Blair was shutting the door.
He quickly felt his pocket. "Got
em." Too many times, Blair had forgotten to take his keys out of his pants
pocket, and put them in the tray by the door, then gone running out the door without
As they drove to the station, Blair could feel the fear that he was trying
to ignore creeping back up. He pushed the hair from his face with one hand, trying
to determine its steadiness. Beverly was on their side, he knew that. She and
Jim had even dated once. But that was back when Danny was killed. Back when Jim
had been so affected, he lost control of his Sentinel abilities. Back when a sure-fire,
eyewitness case of Jim's had gone horribly wrong in court.
Blair looked up, realizing they were parked in the Precinct
garage already, and Jim was looking at him. "Yeah, I'm ready." He reached
for the door handle and Jim held out a hand, touching his arm.
Beverly is on our side. If you have any questions or concerns, I want you to ask."
Blair nodded. "Right, Jim."
"I mean it, Chief." Jim
hadn't let go of his arm yet so Blair listened. "I don't want you crawling
into some hole somewhere going quietly nuts. You're not alone in this, got that?"
Blair nodded again, glancing at the floor of the truck for a moment, somewhat
embarrassed. "Yeah, Jim, I got it. Thanks." He looked up and smiled,
then motioned with his head towards the door. "Shouldn't we...?"
let's go." Jim let go of his arm then and opened the door, climbing out of
the truck. Blair followed suit, but instead of walking to the elevators as they
normally would, they walked over to the door that led to the street behind the
building, and crossed it, to the courthouse.
Going quietly nuts. Blair
had never thought of it that way before. But his little anxiety attacks had never
taken on such intensity before Brackett came along. He had nearly gone nuts last
time. He had even gone so far as to...almost...Blair shook his head, trying to
ban those thoughts. It was exactly what Brackett would have wanted, to have his
influence come between Blair and Jim. He couldn't let that happen. He couldn't
let him win.
They stepped off the elevator and into the hallway, then walked
to the far end and found the door marked Beverly Sanchez, Assistant DA. Jim paused
before knocking, glancing back at Blair.
Blair nodded in reply before Jim could
ask the question. He was not going to fall apart, not here, not now.
Jim knocked, then opened the door when he heard Beverly call out. Blair followed,
glancing around the inside of the office quickly before turning to shut the door.
He knew Brackett wouldn't be there, not in the office, but he couldn't help it.
"Jim, how are you?" Beverly approached, hand outstretched, and shook
Jim's hand, then turned to smile at Blair. "Blair, I'm sorry about the suddenness
of this. It couldn't be helped."
Blair shook her hand and tried to return
her warm smile. "It's okay." He released her hand and glanced at Jim.
"Just gets it over with sooner."
"That's right, Chief,"
"Please, have a seat." Beverly motioned towards two chairs
that were positioned facing her desk, then she moved around to sit behind it,
facing them as they sat. "Now, I'm not sure what Jim might have told you,
Blair, but I want you to know your testimony will be worked around your schedule
at the University."
Blair nodded and raised his eyebrows slightly. He
didn't really want to say anything, and thought it might be best to say as little
as possible. If he kept quiet, and forced himself to pay close attention, instead
of drifting off into his little worries, he might get through this with some level
of maturity. He was not going to let his partner down.
point, I have your statement from the arrest report, and so does the defense attorney.
What's going to happen, is we're going to call you to the stand, ask you some
questions about what happened, and then they'll get the opportunity to cross examine.
You've seen this before."
"Yeah." Blair nodded again. He'd seen
it, he'd just never done it.
"What's he using as a defense?"
Beverly sighed. "Innocent. Pure and simple. Claims he didn't
"What?" Blair asked, incredulously. He looked at Jim,
then back to Beverly. "How can he? There were cops all over that warehouse.
He shot two of them."
She was nodding, but there was nothing agreeing
about her composure. "He's claiming he didn't kill Delaney, or the dealer.
Says he was framed by Kostov to come to the warehouse, and thought everyone was
there to kill him and he had to act in self defense to get away." She glanced
at Jim, then back to Blair. "He's also claiming he had nothing to do with
what happened to you."
Blair swallowed, trying to focus on the corner
of the desk in front of him while he mentally put the pieces together. It was
supposed to be simple. It was supposed to be cut and dried. But then, so was the
case against Tommy Juno.
"What about the tape?" Jim asked, glancing
from her to Blair. "Simon and I both saw it, and we took it in as evidence."
Beverly looked down for a moment, then up at Jim. Blair could see a look in
her eyes that he didn't want to see. "The tape was destroyed in evidence
"What?!" Jim asked incredulously. "What happened?"
Blair sat still as a stone, fear creeping up from his gut to his face. This
simple case was turning on him already, and they weren't even in the courtroom
"It was destroyed, Jim. That's all I know. Seems to have been expose
to acid or something. I've had it sent to the FBI's crime lab, but I think it's
hopeless." She turned back to Blair and he had to force his eyes to meet
hers. "Your job is to answer the questions, and keep your answers short and
to the point. I'll make sure the questions get our point across. We don't need
the tape, we have two eyewitnesses to the recording, and your testimony. Now,
we know he's lying. It's my job to make the jury see through his lies, and convict
him. All you have to do is tell the truth."
"Yeah? Well, I can handle
that." Blair smiled slightly, trying not to glance at Jim. His embellishments
and obfuscations may be a private joke between the two of them, but when the truth
was needed, Blair had no problem. His only problem right now was dealing with
the fact that this entire case might rest on his testimony. Not Jim's, but his.
"What about Kostov?" Jim asked.
Beverly nodded, glancing at some
papers on her desk. "The Feds are bringing him to court for his testimony,
which should take place right after your own." She flipped open a notebook
and turned a few pages. "We did opening arguments last Friday, and got quite
a lot of groundwork laid down." She looked back up at Blair, then at Jim.
"I've got you two down for tomorrow morning, first thing. Is that going to
be all right?"
Jim nodded, glancing at Blair for a moment before returning
his gaze to Beverly. "We'll be there," he replied.
She looked at
Blair and he nodded. "Okay, good," she smiled. "The Defense may
not have any questions for you right away, so you're looking at a possible call
back on Thursday or Friday." She glanced at her watch. "Any questions?"
Blair looked at Jim and shook his head. He had a million of them, but he knew
the answers wouldn't be what he wanted. He could feel his heart rate begin to
increase with the realization that the whole mess was marching right along, and
he prayed Jim wouldn't listen.
"Fine. I'll see you both in the morning."
Beverly stood, so Blair and Jim followed suit. "Jim, can I see you for just
Blair looked at his partner and pointed towards the door. "I'll
just wait out there."
"Right." Jim patted Blair's arm as he
passed between the two chairs and walked to the door.