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Shadow of a Doubt

by Kristine Williams

Part 4

Jim stood, and with one final glance at Brackett, returned to the bench next to Blair. As he sat down, Beverly called for her next witness. Blair stood without hesitation and walked out of the bench and towards the witness box. Jim gave him points for putting on a good show, but he knew the younger man was shaking to pieces inside. He could almost feel Blair's trepidation as he took the oath, stated his full name and occupation, and sat down.

"Mr. Sandburg, several months ago, you were attacked and abducted outside the home you share with Detective Ellison, is that correct?"

"Yes." Blair's answer was short and clear, his voice steady.

"Can you tell us what happened that night?" Beverly had approached the witness box and her voice lowered, exuding calmness and sympathy. Jim could see his partner respond to it, and he kept his eyes locked on her.

"I had locked my keys inside the car, and was standing beside it, when I saw someone coming up behind me. Before I could turn around, he grabbed me, and covered my nose and mouth with a cloth soaked in chloroform."

"Did you get a chance to see this person's face before you lost consciousness?"


"And is that person in this courtroom?" Beverly stepped aside slightly so Blair could have a clear view of the entire room.

Jim watched as his partner flinched, barely perceptibly. "Yes, that's him." Blair pointed at Brackett, but lowered his hand quickly, and returned his eyes to Beverly.

"Please let the record show that the witness has identified the accused."

"So noted."

"When you regained consciousness, where were you?"

Blair cleared his throat. "I didn't know at the time. I was in the basement of our building."

"And were you alone?"

"No. He was...Brackett was there, with me." Hang on Blair, you're doing fine.

"Could you leave?"

"No, my hands were tied...to a pipe, above my head."

Beverly moved forward, until she was blocking Blair's view of Lee. "Can you tell me what happened? What did Mr. Brackett do?"

Blair cleared his throat again, and his eyes nearly darted to Jim, but he seemed to force them to stop at the floor instead. Jim mentally willed his partner calm, trying to impart something, anything, that would help him through this. The memory was hard for Jim to bring to words, what must it be like for Blair?

"He...kept me there, while he set up some video equipment." Blair paused and his eyes again darted up, towards the defense table, but Beverly was still standing in the way, preventing Blair from seeing Lee Brackett, only his attorney. "Then, he used a cell phone to make some kind of call."

"Some kind of call?" Beverly asked. "You mean, he didn't just use the phone to call someone?"

"No, he entered some numbers, waited a few seconds, and entered several more. Then he hung up."

"Did he tell you what he was doing?"

Blair swallowed. "No, not exactly."

"What did he say, exactly?"

"He said...He said it was time to send my partner a message. Then he used the phone, and when he was finished, he said he would know when Jim returned." Jim felt a sudden, aching pain in his chest as the memory of Blair lying helpless and dying on the wet floor flashed across his mind.

"And then what happened?" Beverly moved closer, still keeping between Blair's line of sight and Lee Brackett. Her voice had softened even more, and Jim mentally applauded her for it, shaking off the disturbing vision.

"He turned on the video camera and stepped in front of it. I don't remember what he said. I just..." Blair cleared his throat again softly. "I just remember the needle, he injected something into my neck."

"And then what did he do?"

This time Blair's eyes found Jim's and he tried to hold them, but his partner was too terrified with the memory to stay, and he looked again at Beverly. "He left." As steady as that voice may have sounded, Jim could hear the shaking behind it. "I don't remember very much after that."

"So, Mr. Brackett accosted you in the parking lot, took you to the basement of your building, tied you up, held you against your will, injected you with an unknown chemical, and then left. Is that right, Mr. Sandburg?"

Blair nodded dully, then remembered to answer out loud. "Yes."

"Thank you, Mr. Sandburg." Beverly smiled, then turned to the judge. "I have no further questions, your honor."

"Mr. Cutter."

Jim looked at Brackett's attorney, watched him stand, and walk towards Blair. His partner's eyes seemed to be glazing over slightly, then he blinked and tried to focus on the man approaching him. Stay with me, partner.

"Mr. Sandburg. Have you ever taken drugs?"

Blair's eyebrows rose, as did the hair on the back of Jim's neck. "No," he answered simply.

"I have here," Cutler produced a file folder he had been carrying. "The lab analysis of the chemicals found in your system that night at the hospital." He opened the file and glanced at it. While it was open, Jim focused tightly so that he could see the words written there. He read as quickly as he could, then realized where the man was going with it.

"The report shows that the general make-up of the drug found in your system was custom made, and showed a remarkable resemblance to LSD. Much like the designer drugs so popular today."

Blair said nothing and Jim once again willed him to stay in control. He really was doing remarkably well, considering the circumstances. He'd have to remember to tell Blair when this was all over how well he had done. If he could just get through this next part.

"You've never taken drugs, you say?"

"Objection, your honor." Beverly stood. "Asked and answered."

"Sustained. Move along, Mr. Cutter."

Beverly sat back down and Mr. Cutter paced closer to the jury. "Mr. Sandburg, several weeks ago, you spent 5 days in the hospital. Can you tell us why?"

"Objection, your honor." Beverly stood again. "That can't possibly have any bearing on this case."

"Goes to character, your honor."


Jim didn't have to focus to hear what the lawyers and judge were discussing. What he had to focus on, was not listening to the private conversation. He looked at Blair, trying to get the younger man to meet his eyes, but he wouldn't. Why?

"I'll allow it. The witness will answer the question." The attorneys both stepped away from the judge's box. Beverly returned to her chair and Mr. Cutter stepped back to the jury.

"Mr. Sandburg, how did you come to be in the hospital?"

"I was exposed to a chemical, at the Station."

Good, Blair. Very good.

"You then proceeded to the police garage, with a gun, and fired several shots, some of which came dangerously close to the officers in the garage at the time. Is that correct?"

It wasn't you, Blair, it was the drug. "Yes." Blair was able to answer without hesitation.

"The police report, which has been entered as Defense exhibit K, your honor, states that at the time, your partner, Detective Ellison, was working on a case involving designer drugs. Is this correct?"


"And were you with the Detective when he went undercover and made contact with the dealers in question, obtaining a bag of this drug?"

"Yes, I was." Jim suddenly realized where this line of questioning was going. He had to resist the urge to jump up and answer the implications Mr. Cutter was about to make.

"And can you tell us, Mr. Sandburg, what happened to that bag that Detective Ellison acquired?"

"Objection, your honor." Blair's face had gone pale, and his eyes finally met Jim's. A look of confusion mixed with sudden realization. "Mr. Sandburg is not a police officer. Speculating on what may or may not have happened to evidence is not his responsibility."

"Your honor, there were only two representatives of the Cascade PD at the scene at the time. The report states that a bag of the drug, Golden, was obtained, but then there is no mention of the bag again, and it was never entered in as evidence. Now are we to believe someone of Detective Ellison's background was responsible for the missing evidence?"

"Mr. Cutter is practically accusing Mr. Sandburg of taking the drugs, your honor."

"Objection sustained. Let's get back on track here, ladies and gentlemen."

During their exchange, Jim could hear Blair's heart rate increase, his breathing get that much more shallow. He glanced at the jury, a mixture of men and women of varying ages. It was hard to judge what they were thinking, but whether or not the defense was allowed to continue in that vein, the damage was already done. Jim had on more than one occasion become irritated at people who made assumptions based on Blair's age, or the way he looked or dressed. He'd even had to chastise himself for his own first impression of the younger man when they met.

"Mr. Sandburg, you say you were drugged, brought to the basement, then drugged again, is that correct?"

Blair cleared his throat, forcing his eyes to meet the attorney's. "Yes." Good Blair, keep your answers short.

"And your memory of that time is rather spotty, is that correct?"

"No, I remember it. The time in the hospital, I don't recall much of that."

"I see. So it would be safe to say that this drug affected your memory?"

Blair glanced at the judge for an instant. "I don't know that, no. The trauma affected my memory. I was unconscious most of the time in the hospital."

"I see. And during that time, did my client ever approach you?"


"During that time, did my client phone you, or Detective Ellison?"


"At what time did you again see Mr. Brackett?"

"At the warehouse." Blair's eyes darted to Lee Brackett, whom he now had a clear view of, and for a moment, fixated there. Jim looked at Blair, trying to force his eyes off of Brackett and back to him. If he could keep his partner focused, let him know he wasn't there alone...

"At the warehouse. And who else was at the warehouse?"

Blair forced his eyes away. Jim could see the effort it took to remove his gaze and look back at the attorney. "Jim...Detective Ellison, and several SWAT officers."

"Several SWAT officers? And why were they there?"

"To...they were there to apprehend him."

"Him? By Him, do you mean my client?"


"So, is it safe to say that there were several armed police officers, waiting to catch my client in a trap that had been set for him? Is it safe to say my client had cause to fear for his life?"

"Objection, your honor. Is Defense asking or stating?"


"I have no further questions, your honor."


"Yes, your honor." Beverly stood, but remained behind the table. "Mr. Sandburg, did you inject yourself in the neck with what turned out to be a potentially deadly mix of chemicals?"

"No." Jim could hear the quavering in Blair's voice increase, but he still didn't think anyone else could.

"And did you purposefully ingest a near-lethal amount of the drug called Golden?"


"No further questions."

"The witness may step down."

Blair stood almost immediately, but Jim could see he was holding onto the rail in front of the seat for as long as he could, to prevent himself from shaking. It was all he could do not to walk past the attorneys' tables and retrieve the younger man. As Blair passed Brackett's seat, Jim heard his heart skip a beat. He stood and moved to the edge of the bench, took Blair by the arm as he approached and guided him out of the courtroom. Jim didn't stop until they were in the hall and walking towards an empty conference room. Blair hadn't said a word, had just allowed Jim to guide him, but he was shaking, visibly now.

"In here." Jim opened a door and gently pushed Blair into the small room, then he turned and shut the door, locking it. "Sit down, Chief."

"God! What was that?!" Blair didn't sit, but instead began to pace the small room. "Jim, he's gonna get off. He's gonna get off."

"Sandburg, sit down." God, he was falling apart. He'd made it through in there and now he was going to fall victim to all the stress and crap he'd been through.

"Who was on trial in there, Jim?"

"Sandburg." Jim walked to him, put a hand on Blair's shoulder, and pushed down until he relented and sat. Blair would have gotten up the instant Jim removed his hand, so he didn't. "Calm down, it'll be all right."

Blair was shaking his head, a definite look of disagreement on his face. "No. No. It's not going to be all right, Jim."


"No, Jim. It's not going to be all right."

Blair was shaking now, visibly and uncontrollably. He kept shaking his head, and the muscles in his shoulder, under Jim's restraining hand, were incredibly tense with unreleased anger. "Blair, take it easy."

"How, Jim? How am I supposed to take it easy?"

Jim sighed, and moved around behind Blair, holding him down with a hand on each shoulder. Blair was a ball of uncontrolled energy, and would have sprung to his feet and paced the room if allowed. Jim knew he'd have to hold him still, if he was to get through that confused mind. "Listen, Chief, that was typical lawyer guerilla tactics in there." Jim moved his hands and began to massage Blair's shoulders, holding him in the chair while trying to work out some of the tension there. Blair was still shaking his head, and didn't seem to notice he was even sitting down.


"Blair, listen." Jim continued to try and work out the tension balling up Blair's neck and shoulders. "It's not over, not in there. What happened was typical, and you have to trust Beverly to know how to handle it." He had stopped shaking his head, but now his foot was bobbing up and down with uncontrolled energy. Jim knew if he wasn't there, Blair could have run a marathon with that much tension.

"I dunno, man."

"I do know. The trial's not over yet. Kostov is coming in to testify today. I know what it felt like up there..."

"No, you don't know, Jim." Blair turned quickly and with enough force to knock Jim's hands away, then he stood. "You don't know. I was on trial in there!"

Jim reached out and grabbed Blair by the shoulders, holding him in place. "Yes, Blair, I do know." He kept his voice calm, but gripped his shoulders in an effort to get his point through. "I do know. It's happened to me, as it's happened to everyone who has ever gone up there. It's what they do, Chief, when they don't have a case or a leg to stand on." There was anger in his partner's eyes, but it was an anger not directed at him. Jim sighed. "Listen, there's no way anyone's going to fall for you having done this to yourself. You could no more have injected that drug into your own neck than I or anyone else could have. And the Golden was never your fault. We've been over that, and it's all in the report, what really happened."

"Yeah, but Jim..."

"But nothing, Chief. Listen to me." Blair's gaze had fallen to the floor and Jim waited until he looked up again. "It's going to be all right." He kept his hands on Blair, and tried to force his partner to maintain eye contact, so he'd know Blair was listening. "It was hell in there, I know. But you did good. You did very good. You kept your cool, didn't get angry or upset, and answered every question just right." Blair glanced around the room for a moment, as if trying to recall the last 30 minutes. The trembling Jim could feel was slowly subsiding, so he released his hold on Blair's shoulders and stood in front of him. "I was proud of you in there, Sandburg. You were calm, direct, and never once flinched."

Blair looked at Jim, eyebrows raised. "You're kidding, right? Jim, I was scared to death in there."

Jim smiled, shaking his head slightly. There were times, like right now, when the self-assured, confident Blair Sandburg was so in need of reassurance, Jim had to wonder who would have given him the support he needed if Jim wasn't there. "It didn't show, Chief, trust me." He sighed, then glanced at his watch. "Why don't we get some lunch, then I'll drive you to the University."

Blair nodded, slowly pushing the hair back that had fallen into his face. His hands were still shaking, but it was hardly noticeable. "Thanks, Jim."

"No problem, Chief." Jim patted Blair's arm and directed him towards the door.

"No, I mean it, Jim." Blair walked, but turned to look at him before opening the door. "Thanks."

Jim nodded, pulling the door open. "You're welcome."

Blair reached over to unlock the door, then noticed Jim had turned off the engine and was getting out as well. He gave his partner a puzzled glance.

"I thought I'd hang out here, and wait for you." Jim said in reply to the look. He got out and shut the door. "No sense in going back to the Station just to avoid paperwork for two hours and come back here."

"Jim, I can always get a ride home." Blair swung his pack over one shoulder and walked to the front of the truck. Oh God, he probably thinks I'm going to freak out again.

"No problem, Chief." Jim walked closer and lowered his voice in a conspiratorial manner. "To tell you the truth, I need a place to hide out, maybe catch up on some reading. The paperwork can wait."

"Wait for me, you mean?"

Jim nodded, smiling as though the thought had just then occurred to him. "Yeah."

Blair laughed, then started to walk towards the building the housed his office. "What about Simon?"

Jim was still smiling. "He's in meetings with the Commissioner all day. He'll never miss me."

Right, Jim. Well, if that was what he wanted Blair to think, then he'd play along. During the drive to the school, Blair had calmed down quite a bit, but he still wasn't able to get the visions out of his mind. Visions that the lawyers had forced back to the forefront. Visions Blair had thought he was rid of. He tried to filter through the flashes, and find something in them he could hold onto, to force the rest of it away. In each one, there was only one constant, one thing he could try to grasp. Jim was there. He'd been there with him every step of the way when Brackett had returned. He'd been there when Blair had ingested the Golden, and he'd stayed with him the entire time Blair was in the hospital, spending all day and most of the nights after Blair had regained consciousness. He later learned from the nurses that Jim had stayed with him even when he was on the respirator, leaving only once with Simon to complete the case. And there he'd been again, helping Blair through the trial, and more importantly, its aftermath. Not only helping him, but being proud of him. Blair's biggest concern, aside from getting to and from the witness chair without falling apart, had been making sure he did nothing to embarrass Jim. The man was a rock, and never let his emotions rule what he said or how he acted or reacted. Blair hoped some of Jim's influence had rubbed off, giving him the emotional fuel to get through the ordeal. But he'd found himself forcing calmness while on the stand, instead of it coming naturally. And this, after he had so recently given Jim a lecture on remaining calm and in control.

They were in Blair's office now, and he had to gather up yesterday's still ungraded tests to take with him to class. He'd use the time to finish grading them, then be that much more close to having the quarter out of the way. And maybe get Jim into the lab to work on his hearing.

"So, you're just going to hang out here?" Blair was ready to leave, but he felt odd having Jim just sitting there, at his desk, preparing to wait for 2 hours.

"Don't worry, Sandburg, I'm not going to read your diary or anything." Jim was sitting at the desk, and he put both feet up on a corner, leaning back in the chair. "I think if you can kill time waiting for me, then I should be able to do the same."

Blair laughed, shaking his head. "Well, knock yourself out, man. The diary's right behind you." He left then, still shaking his head. Jim might just as well read it, he was the only one mentioned. Jim and his Sentinel discoveries, that is. In fact, aside from the tests he was giving and papers he was grading, all Jim would find in the immediate area would be papers and notes about him and his senses. Except for the....Oh man! There was no time to rush back to the office, he'd be late if he did. Jim was sure to find the notes Blair had left outlining the new tests he wanted to talk his Sentinel partner into taking, to test his hearing limits. Jim hated tests. He hated it when Blair talked him into coming into his make-shift lab and working out one or more of his senses. But, after Jim's impacted wax had been cleared up, and they discovered his hearing was so much more than it had been, Blair had a million ways to test him out. A million ways to explore Jim's range, but more importantly, Blair was dying to test out Jim's ability to piggy-back his senses on top of one another. If he could make his hearing give his eyesight direction, as well as a boost in range, then what could the other senses do if coupled with each other? Their discovery that afternoon had given Blair so much more fuel for his thesis, and so much more respect for his partner's talents. If only he could take some credit for it. Blair had to settle for standing next to greatness.

He had to hurry to make it down the hall and into the lecture room on time. Wouldn't do for the teacher to be late for the test.

"Good afternoon." Blair set his notebooks down on the table and began to hand out the test questions immediately. It had taken him three hours to write them, and they would need every minute of the class hour to complete them. "You know the routine." He finished handing the questions out and returned to the table at the front of the room, sitting down behind it to face the class. Without any words, they all opened their blue-books and notebooks, and got right to business. Blair put on his glasses and opened up the first of yesterday's tests. What should have been a three paragraph answer at the most, consisted of two pages. He sighed, glancing around the room. Most of the students used blue-books, and kept their answers short and to the point, like he asked. But every now and then, he counted 12 in this room alone, a student brought extra papers, and seemed to take page upon page to explain what boiled down to a two paragraph answer. Blair had to reluctantly admit it was Anthropology, not English, and just begin to read the papers.

Twenty minutes passed and he was only on the third test paper. There were 45 students in this class, and 27 more in the next hour. God, this was going to be another all-nighter. At least it was keeping his mind off the trial. Blair set the third paper aside and picked up the next one.

"What did Mr. Brackett do?" Blair shook his head. Dammit, focus! "Have you ever taken drugs, Mr. Sandburg?" He leaned forward, resting a hand on his forehead as he looked down on the test paper. "What happened to the missing bag, Mr. Sandburg?" Blair cleared his throat and shifted in the seat. "You then proceeded to the police garage, with a gun." He began to massage his forehead with the fingers propping his head up, then turned the page. "Then what did he do?"Blair cleared his throat again and glanced up at the students. "You brought this on yourself, didn't you Mr. Sandburg?" Blair shifted again. "You expect us to believe someone targeted you just to get to Detective Ellison?" Again Blair cleared his throat. "Why would someone of Detective Ellison's skill and dedication allow two people vital to his case be killed, in order to save you?" Blair pushed his glasses down and rubbed his eyes. Dammit, no one asked those questions. At least, not out loud. Had they?

"Mr. Sandburg?"

Blair looked up suddenly, seeing one of the students standing next to the desk. He quickly looked around and noticed the room was emptying out.

"When do you expect to have the grades posted?"

Blair cleared his throat again. At this rate, they'd all think he had the flu. "Tomorrow afternoon, I hope," he answered.

She smiled, then followed the rest of the class out the door. Blair looked at the pile of tests on the corner of the table and sighed. Definitely an all-nighter. No sooner had the room emptied, then it filled up again with the next class. Blair waited until they had all come in, then he once again handed out test papers. This time, he noted happily, no one had brought extra paper to cover their inability to make a quick and concise statement of fact. It might not be easy to draw correlations between tribal religious acts, but making a novel of the answer didn't make Blair's life any easier.

This time, Blair focused all of his energy on the paper in front of him, forcing any and all thoughts of the trial from his mind. He was able to get through 10 tests this time, but the effort had given him a stiff neck, and a stabbing pain between his eyes. When the last student placed his test on the corner of the desk, Blair stood and stretched. He considered calling Christine, she could give a great backrub, but he didn't have any time to waste if he was to get all of the tests graded and posted by tomorrow afternoon. If only Jim would....Oh God. He had. In that room, when Blair was falling apart like a child, Jim had been trying to calm him down, and rubbing the tension from his shoulders. And what had he done? Turned and shouted at him. Great, Sandburg. Real grown up. God, Jim must be getting tired of this. Blair stuffed the tests into his pack and swung it over one shoulder, then left the room and started back across the campus to his office.

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