From Chapter Two
Blair allowed Jim to usher him into the small bedroom that had once been his but balked for a moment when Jim pulled back the bed covers and told him to lie down. Finally after Jim had pretty much ordered him to, he climbed into the bed and let Jim pull the covers up over his shoulders.
“Good night, Chief,” Jim said softly. He went back out to the kitchen and pulled a beer from the fridge. He’d allow himself just one. He wanted to be on alert in case Blair had a nightmare. Jim had the feeling that whatever had happened to Blair over the past two years, there was fodder aplenty for nightmares. He drank the beer then locked the front door and set the deadbolt, taking the keys with him when he went upstairs to bed himself a couple of hours later. He lay in bed and read for a while, his senses alert to any sound from downstairs. Finally hearing nothing untoward he allowed himself to sleep as well.
The crash from downstairs had Jim out of bed and on his feet in seconds. Instinctively he grabbed for the gun in the nightstand drawer next to his bed. He kept the safety on and hurried down the stairs. It was only as he reached the bottom step and saw Blair cowering in a corner of the kitchen, babbling frantically that Jim’s memory kicked in and reminded him that Blair was home. Blair’s eyes were huge in his sheet-white face and Jim cursed as he realized he still had the gun in his hand. He put it down on the coffee table as he passed then hurried across to crouch down in front of Blair.
“What’s wrong?” he asked , putting out a hand then withdrawing it quickly as Blair flinched, one arm going up to cover his head as he backed even further into the corner, as if he were trying to climb inside the plaster wall itself. Jim sat back on his heels and looked around, trying to deduce the reason for Blair’s fear. There was a bowl on the floor, shattered into several pieces and Jim guessed that had been the cause for the crash he’d heard. “You broke the dish?” he asked.
“Sorrysorrysorry,” Blair was muttering. “Sorry, Master. Sorrysorrysorry.” His words slurred together as tears rolled unchecked down his pale cheeks, his lips trembling with unadulterated fear.
“Shit,” Jim whispered. “Oh Chief, what did he do to you?” This time Jim couldn’t help tears overflowing his own eyes and for now he let them come, wiping roughly at his face with the back of a shaking hand. Finally he took a deep breath and steadied himself. “Well, we can’t both sit here all day blubbering over a broken bowl, now can we?” he asked rhetorically. “How about I help you clean this up?” He stood up and went over to the cupboard beneath the sink and pulled out the dustpan and brush. “Okay,” Jim said, looking over at Blair, “let’s do it together.”
Blair shot him a surprised look but it had the effect of stopping the string of apologies and the tears.
Jim knelt down and put the dustpan near the broken bowl then held the brush out to Blair. “Can you sweep this up for me, Chief?”
Blair nodded and scurried over still on his knees. He took the brush from Jim and slowly and carefully swept up every broken piece. Jim pointed to the trash can then took the dustpan from him and put it away. “Good job,” he said. “What are you doing down here so early anyway?” he asked as
he stood up. He stretched to unkink his back then held a hand down to Blair. “Stand up, buddy. I’m not as young as I used to be and I want to be able to see your face when I talk to you, okay?”
Blair slowly reached out and grasped Jim’s hand and let Jim lever him to his feet.
“I need you to speak to me when I ask you a question from now on, Blair, okay?” Jim said, inserting that tone of authority into his voice that had so far proved most effective in getting through to his friend. He hadn’t missed Blair calling him “Master” earlier either and as horrified as he was at the thought that Blair considered that Jim now owned him, he thought that at least it might provide a way to get some answers from him. “Okay, Blair?” he prompted when Blair didn’t reply.
Jim put up his hand before Blair could say the word. “You can call me Jim,” he said firmly. “All right?”
“Okay, Jim,” Blair replied. It sounded kind of robotic but inside Jim cheered. Two way communication had been achieved at least.
“Thanks for coming to clean up the kitchen,” Jim said, giving Blair’s shoulder a gentle pat. “I’d hoped for a sleep in but seeing as we’re both up how about I make coffee and breakfast for us. We need to go to the station. I need you to make a statement and tell us what happened at that house, how you ended up there and why you killed Olsen.”
Blair flinched at the name but Jim went on. “I’m sorry, Chief, I’m sure there are lots of bad memories but we need to get to the bottom of it all so you can put it behind you. I’ll be right with you every step of the way, I promise. Can you do this? Talk to Simon, tell us what happened?”
Blair nodded and looked down. He was visibly trembling and Jim pulled him into a hug, holding him close. “You’re gonna be fine, Blair. Soon this will just be something that happened to you. It’ll be in the past. I’m going to help you get there.”
Blair stood passively within Jim’s embrace but after a moment Jim felt him relax. He held him a minute more then pushed him gently back. “How about you set the table while I cook breakfast?””
“Yes, Jim,” Jim prompted, grinning when Blair shot him that shy, sweet smile and parroted, “Yes, Jim.”
“Now we’re making progress,” Jim said, heading for the coffeemaker.
The phone rang and Jim went across and scooped it up. It was Simon. “How’s the kid?” Simon asked.
“Better,” Jim said. “Well, we’re making some headway,” he amended.
“You really need to bring him in today like you said,” Simon said. “I don’t want to push him but I’ve got the DA breathing down my neck-“
“Whoa! You better not be telling me he’s planning on arresting Blair for killing that creep!” Jim was furious and out of the corner of his eye he saw Blair jump then back away from the table to the safety of the corner where Jim had found him earlier. “Hang on, Simon.” He put the phone down and went across to Blair. “I’m sorry I scared you. It’s all right, Chief. Just finish setting the table and I’ll be with you in a minute, all right?”
Blair’s eyes were still wide with fear but he nodded shakily then said, “Okay, Jim.”
Jim waited till he went back to get the plates from the cupboard then went back to the phone. “Well? Is he?” he asked.
“No,” Simon said firmly. “You know I’d never allow that to happen. But Blair needs to make that statement to corroborate the boy’s evidence then the DA is prepared to probably write it off as justifiable homicide in the defense of a minor person. Okay?” he prompted when Jim didn’t say anything.
Jim sighed. “Yeah. I don’t know how much talking he’ll do at this stage though. I’ve only just got him to say a couple of words to me and then it’s mostly when I prompt him to.”
“But he’s talking, right? That’s great, Jim. He’ll be fine. You can stay with him and I’ll make sure the DA knows he’ll have to back off the minute Blair gets upset or shows any sign of backing off. Deal?”
“Deal. One more thing. I know the guys are gonna be happy to see him but maybe ask them to keep their distance just for now, please. Like it or not, Blair doesn’t remember us or if he does the memories are buried deep under whatever hell that asshole put him through. Just ask them to be patient for now.”
“Okay. What time you coming in?”
“We’re having breakfast now then I need to get him some clothes, maybe take him to get his hair cut.” Jim thought back to Blair’s panic earlier and added, “No, maybe we’ll leave the hair for now but he definitely needs clothes so give me till say 11, all right?”
“No problem. Jim, Blair’s lucky to have you here for him.”
“Thanks but all I can think of is that it was me being such a prick to him two years ago that might have put him right in Olsen’s path. See you at eleven, Simon.” He hung up the phone then turned and gave Blair a thumbs up and a broad grin. “Good job, Chief. Let’s eat.”
Jim kept a firm hold of Blair’s arm as they entered the mall and made their way to Walmart. He made quick work of picking out a couple packs of underwear and socks, three pairs of trackpants and some t-shirts and a couple of sweaters. The weather was seasonally warm at the moment so Jim figured Blair wouldn’t need to resort back to the layers he’d been accustomed to wearing in Cascade’s colder months. They got sneakers as well then Jim steered the shopping kart and Blair over to the checkout. Blair kept his head bowed the whole time and didn’t look up even when the checkout girl, apparently taking Jim’s hold on Blair’s arm for the arm linking of a couple, said, “You guys are so cute together.” She rattled on about her brother being gay and how much she adored his boyfriend and how it was about time the government let gay couples get married like everyone else. Jim didn’t bother apprising her of the truth, just nodded in appropriate places and paid with his credit card then ushered Blair ahead of him and out to the car. He was grateful for the fact that the store had been pretty empty this time of day so Blair hadn’t seemed upset at all. Jim got him into the passenger seat and helped him buckle up then piled the packages on his lap and went around to the driver’s door. “We’ll get you changed in the locker room at the PD,” he said. There were cubicles there and he could get Blair looking presentable before they met up with the DA. Blair had let Jim help him shave before they’d left the loft though he’d gone pale and shuddered when Jim pulled out the razor. Jim had kept his voice firm and matter of fact as he went to work with soap and blade and by the end of it Blair was looking almost like his old self.
They made it into the PD with just a handful of curious looks from the cops in the locker room. Jim got Blair changed into his new clothes then stood back and gave him an appraising once over. “Looking good, Sandburg,” he said. “You ready to do this?”
Blair nodded and Jim led him out the door and into the elevator. Fortunately they got an express ride to Major Crime and then Jim was ushering Blair into the bullpen. Rafe and Henri Brown looked up as they walked in but Simon had been as good as his word and they both sketched a quick wave in Jim’s direction then bent their heads over the files they were working on. Joel Taggart was standing by the coffee machine with Rhonda, Simon’s secretary. They both smiled and nodded. Jim knew how much Joel must have wanted to grab Blair up in a bear hug. He and Blair had become particularly close during Blair’s time as Jim’s partner but Joel was a sensitive, intelligent man and he held his ground and turned back to finish making his coffee. Simon was standing at the door to his office and Jim could see DA Carter in there behind him. He led Blair over to his desk and got him sitting down. “Sit here and wait till I come back to get you,” he said firmly. He wanted to test the DA out, make sure there were no hidden surprises waiting for Blair inside Simon’s office.
“Okay, Jim,” Blair said equably.
Jim left him there and went over to join Simon.
“Wow,” Simon said, “I’m not sure whether to be more impressed by the fact that you’ve actually got him talking already or by the fact that he’s obeying you. Remember all the trouble you used to have getting Sandburg to wait in the truck at a crime scene?”
“Yeah, I do,” Jim replied, “and right now I’d give anything to have that stubborn little shit back.”
“Me too.” Simon patted his shoulder. “I assume you want to read Carter the riot act before you bring Blair in.”
“Yep,” Jim said, “you got that right.” He gave Blair a last reassuring look then went into the office with Simon.