From part one:
The boy shook his head and pointed at himself. “Blair,” he said again.
Jim grinned as he stood up. He had to admit the kid was a dead ringer for Sandburg. “Stay there,” he told the kid, walking over to pick up the phone. 'Hey, Chief, looks like one of your bed post notches has come home to roost,' he imagined himself saying as soon as Blair picked up the phone. Chuckling at his mangled metaphor he dialed Blair’s cellphone then looked around in surprise as it rang… from the doorway.
The kid turned around and dragged an oversized backpack from behind him across the floor to his feet. Bending down, he opened a front pocket and pulled out a phone then flipped it open. Never taking his eyes from Jim’s face, he said into the phone. “Hi.”
“What the-” Jim whispered, dropping the phone back onto the table and walking back across to the kid, hunkering down in front of him again. “Blair?”
“I have to give you this,” Blair said, holding up a folded sheet of paper.
Jim opened it and felt his mouth drop open.
"You need to learn patience, Detective," the note read. "Perhaps this little one can help teach you. Fear not, this is still your friend. The child holds the adult safe within."
Jim dropped to his haunches in front of the child again, the note falling from his suddenly nerveless fingers. “Blair?” he said again.
The child patted his own chest. “Blair,” he said then he reached out a small hand and cupped Jim’s cheek. “Jim,” he said softly.
The tenderness in the word and gesture almost brought Jim undone but he tamped down his emotions for now, instead rising to his feet and taking the kid’s hand and drawing him into the apartment. The boy let the backpack drop behind him as soon as he was inside and Jim smothered an involuntary grin. It was such a Blair thing to do. He picked up the bag and hung it on the coat stand next to the door till such time as he could go through it in the hope of finding some clue as to what had befallen his friend. “Wait here,” he told the child then he went across to the phone and dialed Simon Banks’ number.
“Simon,” he said as soon as Banks answered, “can you come to my place? Yes, I know it’s the series final and Cascade’s finally made it through but this is important. Something’s happened to Blair. No, he’s fine,” he said quickly as Simon began asking worried questions, “I think. Well, mostly. Look, you’ll see what I mean when you get here, okay? Thanks, Simon, I appreciate it.”
He hung up the phone then turned to see Blair had begun a slow tour of the living room, one small hand holding up his now very baggy jeans. He stopped in front of the Enkatu Devil mask Blair had brought into the loft the day he’d moved in.
“Don’t touch,” Jim called automatically as the boy’s hand reached towards it.
Blair didn’t withdraw his hand, which Jim expected him to do and neither did he jump, which Jim expected even more. Instead he simply traced his finger along the lower edge of it then continued his meandering journey around the apartment. At the stairs, he stopped and looked over at Jim as if in invitation.
Jim went across, detouring to the kitchen on the way to grab some safety pins from a drawer there on the way. He pinned Blair’s jeans as tightly as he could around his waist then rolled up the legs and tied the hem of the t-shirt so that it looped over the waistband of the jeans. As he stood up, Blair held up his hand as if wanting Jim to take it. Once he did they climbed the stairs to Jim’s loft bedroom together.
At the top, Blair stood for a moment and looked around then without saying a word he turned, took Jim’s hand again and went back down the stairs. At the bottom he went to his own room, peeked inside then turned to flash a delighted smile at Jim. “Mine,” he said, going in.
Jim followed him and watched as he wandered around the small room, touching the books on the desk and picking up one of the small fetishes Blair kept there. Blair climbed onto the bed and sat, his legs dangling over the side. “My room,” he said.
Jim crossed over to him and knelt in front of him. “Do you remember this place?” he asked.
Blair shrugged then climbed to his feet and gave tentative bounce on the bed, reaching out to hang onto Jim’s shoulders so he could do it again. Giggling delightedly, he bounced up and down till finally he seemed to run out of puff and sat down on the mattress with an oomph.
Jim shook his head, smiling at his antics despite the worry gnawing at him. He was about to ask the boy more when there was a knock at the door and he smelled the redolent scent of Simon’s cigar. “I’ll be back,” he said to the child who simply nodded and crossed his legs under him, giving Jim a smile so reminiscent of the adult Blair that Jim’s heart gave a lurch. Jim ruffled his curls gently then headed out to the living room to let Simon in.
“Thanks for coming, Simon,” Jim said, standing back to let his captain into the living room.
“Well, what’s up with Sandburg this time?” Simon said. “I swear to god, the kid needs a keeper.”
“Come with me,” Jim said, leading the way to Blair’s room. He ushered Simon ahead of him into the room then followed him in and pointed to the child on the bed. “Say hello to Blair,” he said.
“Wow, he really looks like Sandburg. Guess there’s no denying who his father is, is there?” Simon said, walking across to the bed and holding out his hand.
Blair shook it solemnly.
“Do you know who this is, Blair?” Jim asked.
Blair shook his head and Simon turned and shot him a questioning look. “He’s never met me before, has he?”
“Ye, he has. Many times.” Jim fished the note from his pocket and handed it to Simon then watched as he read it, almost smiling as Simon’s jaw literally dropped.
“So you’re saying this is… Sandburg?” Simon sounded stunned and Jim didn’t blame him.
“Appears to be,” he replied. He shrugged. “I can’t prove it right now of course but you have to admit he’s a dead ringer for him.”
“How the hell could something like this happen?” Simon’s voice boomed loudly in the small room and Blair wailed, obviously frightened. He scrambled off the bed and over to Jim, holding his arms up.
Jim scooped him into his arms and sat him astride one hip, unconsciously setting up a soothing rocking. “It’s okay, Chief” he said. “Simon’s not mad at you.” He shot a warning glare at Simon who walked across and patted the sobbing boy’s back.
“Sorry, kid, didn’t mean to scare you.”
Blair snuffled and wiped his nose on Jim’s shoulder. Jim grimaced and carried him out to the living room where he snagged a Kleenex out of the box on the counter and cleaned up Blair’s nose and eyes and his own shoulder. He set the boy on the floor then crouched down in front of him. “Hey, Chief, you hungry?”
Blair sniffled a little more but nodded, watching Simon warily as he joined them.
“Okay, how about we order some pizza?” Jim suggested. “You want to call in the order, Simon? Takeout menus are in the second drawer. Once he’s eaten and I can get him settled for the night, we can talk some more.”
“Sure,” Simon agreed, heading into the kitchen and grabbing the menu. He walked over to the phone and lifted it from the receiver. “What shall I order?” he asked.
Jim thought about that. When he and the adult Blair had ordered pizza, Blair had tended to favor the vegetarian selections but Jim wasn’t sure what this child version of him would like. “Maybe get a plain cheese, and a meat lovers for us. Plain cheese should be okay for a kid his age, right?”
“You’re asking me?” Simon said.
“Well, you’re the one who’s had a kid, Simon,” Jim said reasonably.
“Yeah, fair enough. Just cheese and tomato, right? Should be safe.” That settled, Simon dialed the number and placed their order then went out to the kitchen where he pulled a beer from the fridge then pulled out another and held it up. “You want one?” he asked.
“Oh yeah,” Jim said fervently. “Pour some juice into a tumbler for Blair, too, will you?”
Simon carried the beer bottle and the juice out to the living room and placed them on the coffee table there. He sat down in one of the chairs. “How could something like this happen?” he asked quietly, as if he was worried speaking more loudly would set Blair’s crying off again.
“I have no idea,” Jim said. He looked into Blair’s eyes and thought he saw an indefinable something there, some sign of his adult friend perhaps. “I just know instinctively that this is Blair and that somehow he’s a kid again.”
“What are you going to do about it?” Simon asked. “Shouldn’t we call Social Services or his mother or something like that?”
Jim shook his head firmly. “Social Services would put him in Juvenile Hall and then send him to foster care and I can’t do that to him. Not when it seems like I’m the one person he feels safe with. I won’t send him off to a bunch of strangers. And Naomi would freak. Can’t blame her for that. Believe me, I’m not far off freaking out myself.”
Jim put Blair down and stood and went across to the TV, Blair shadowing his every move. He turned the TV on, found the kids channel then sat Blair up on the loveseat so he could watch it while they waited for the pizza to come. He watched Blair curiously as he sat down next to Simon on the couch. The adult Blair wouldn’t have shown much interest in kids TV but this Blair seemed totally engrossed in the colorful characters bounding around on the screen. He laughed out loud a few times as he watched and Jim could only wonder at the dichotomy of it all. On one hand, Blair seemed to have some memories he’d retained from his prior life as Jim’s partner. He’d recognized Jim and knew Jim’s room wasn’t his and recognized his own. On the other hand, he seemed not to remember other things - Simon and the Enkatu mask, for example. His emotions certainly seemed more those of a little boy – the crying when he’d been frightened, the giggling as he bounced on the bed, and his laughter and enjoyment now of the cartoons. Jim rubbed his aching head. Maybe those were questions for another day. Today he’d just concentrate on taking care of Blair.
As soon as the pizza arrived Blair jumped down from the loveseat and climbed up onto a kitchen chair.
“Guess he’s hungry, huh?” Simon remarked, taking a seat opposite him.
Blair grinned at him and nodded. “I’m hungry,” he said. “You hungry too?”
“Well what do you know? He’s actually talking to me now at least,” Simon said with a pleased smile, taking a pizza slice from the box Jim held out to him and putting it on his plate, after taking a huge bite from it. “Mmm, good,” he said.
Jim handed Blair a slice of the cheese pizza and Blair copied Simon then dropped the slice onto his plate and began to cry. “Hot!” he sobbed. “Hot, Jim!”
“Crap,” Jim cursed, gathering the kid up then sitting down with him on his lap. “I didn’t even think about checking how hot it was.” He picked up the glass of water he’d poured for Blair just before the pizza arrived and held the cup while he sipped on it. “I used to always tease Blair that he had no taste buds because he seemed to be able to scarf down food as soon as it arrived on his plate, no matter how hot it was,” he said ruefully. He patted Blair’s back. “You okay now, Chief? You need to blow on it if it’s too hot.” He picked up the pizza and demonstrated, sending Blair into giggles, the tears evaporating as quickly they’d begun, as Jim exaggerated the blowing and made the pizza slice flap around.
“So what are you gonna do with him?” Simon asked as he helped Jim finish clearing up the kitchen.
Jim looked across to where Blair lay asleep on the couch, having nodded off within five minutes of eating dinner. “I’m going to take care of him until we find out how to fix this,” he said. “What else can I do? You know he’d do the same for me and for you in a heartbeat if the positions were reversed.”
“I know. What about work though? We’ve got that meeting with the Feebs about setting up that serial killer task force tomorrow.”
Jim shrugged. “I’ll bring him in with me. Brown and Rafe can keep an eye on him for an hour, right? We’ll tell them he’s Sandburg’s cousin’s kid.”
“I guess. I’d better get home,” Simon looked over at Blair, “unless you need me to hang around.”
“Nah, we’ll be fine, Simon, thanks. Looks like he’s down for the count.” Jim stifled a huge yawn. “I won’t be far behind him. We’ll be fine. I’ll see you at nine.”
He saw Simon out then walked over to couch and just watched the kid for a moment. There was something so indefinably Blair-like in the sleeping child’s face – the curve of his cheek, the long eyelashes, the curls. Jim picked him up, holding his breath as sleepy blue eyes opened and looked into his. “Shh,” he murmured, “go to sleep.” He rocked the boy slowly as he carried him into the bedroom and put him under the covers after stripping off the oversized jeans and t-shirt. They’d have to see about getting him some clothes in the morning. The Masters family downstairs had a son around Blair’s current age. He’d tell them Blair’s bags had been lost on his trip over and see if they had something he could borrow for Blair to wear till Jim could get to a store tomorrow after the meeting. Finally, he leaned down and placed a kiss on the boy’s forehead. “Sweet dreams, Chief,” he whispered before turning and leaving the room. He left the door ajar and turned on a lamp in the living room, just in case Blair woke and was frightened. Then, exhausted, he headed up the stairs to his own bed.