It's My Turn Now!
Blair Sandburg pushed his hair back behind his ear as he started to sort through his mail. He smiled as he came to a familiar envelope, a heavy peach colored one. He slit it open, nearly laughing out loud at the simple note.
It's Time. Do Your Worst. Rate The City.
He stood up and headed to go find his partner, waving the letter. "Oh, Jim," he called. "I just got permission. Can I keep the bonus this time? I need a few new books."
Jim Ellison, sentinel, cop, and gorgeous stud, leaned over the railing up to his bedroom. "What?"
"I got a letter," he said, waving it. "But I need the bonus this time."
Jim frowned and came down the stairs, looking at the letter. "This was a dream," he noted quietly. "It was all a dream. This isn't real."
"Huh?" Blair asked.
"Chief, I got one of these, but it was a dream." Blair reached over and pinched him as hard as he could on the side of the neck. "Ow!"
"You're not dreaming, Jim. I get to mess with the city and we'll get paid for it." He took the letter back, going to plan his assault. "Maybe a book switch," he said thoughtfully as he retreated into his bedroom.
"But it was a dream," Jim told himself. He looked around, but there wasn't a hint of a spirit guide. "Blair, you can't," he called. "I'd have to arrest you." He walked through the door, and a bright flash went off. Jim was stunned, too stunned to realize his Guide had just turned on him.
Blair carefully lowered Jim to his bed and smirked at him. "Never thought you'd be there, Ellison," he said, going back to his plans. He needed some help. "Simon," he said, snapping his fingers and grabbing the phone. The Captain would be in the office. "Hey, Simon, it's Blair." He fiddled with his hair. "I just got a great letter saying it's my turn to screw with the city." He glanced at Jim. "Yeah, he thinks it's a dream," he snorted. "It must have been the drugs. Thanks for going to bat for him by the way." He listened, then laughed. "No, I have a *much* better plan, but I'll need a sidekick. You up to it?" He laughed. "Great! No, we'll do dinner tonight." He hung up and turned to look at his sentinel. If Jim only knew.
Blair leaned back, watching his students take a final. His plan was in motion and it was *good*. He smirked as one student, who had been listening to a radio station, that's how he tested best and Blair had checked to make sure it was only a radio feed, sat up and raised his hand. He waved the kid up, listening to him babble.
"You've got to hear this," he whispered, handing over the ear buds. "Prof, this is just too cruel." He danced while Blair listened to the news broadcast.
"Today in Cascade, someone has exchanged all the steak houses meat stores with tofu. There is no steak in Cascade!" the announcer said with great feeling, and sounding hungry. "All of the vegetables are still there, but none of the steaks. Who could have done such a thing?"
Blair chuckled and handed the ear pieces back. "Yup, someone's up to something," he agreed. "Go finish. I'm sure this is going to be fun."
The student ran back to his test, wanting to get out of there so he could go find out how much longer this was going to be. Blair just relaxed. This was all good.
Blair smiled up at Jim as the cop turned on the nightly news. "Did something happen? You look really tired, man."
"Sandburg, would you know anything about the shortage of steaks we've had today?" Jim asked carefully.
Blair shook his head, looking innocent, but not too innocent. "Not a thing, man, it's finals. I've been writing and grading for the last three days. Besides, why would I remove all the steaks? That's more my mother's thing. I do eat meat, Jim, really."
"I know," Jim said as he sat down on the couch, staring at the screen. He turned up the volume when the picture caught his attention.
"Somehow, all the teachers in the fourth through eleventh grade found in their inboxes today an order to start giving students more book reviews. We weren't aware that the Cascade School Board was running a pilot program, but today they upheld the decision saying it would raise test scores and would only help their students who were heading toward college." The anchor turned to face another camera. "Also today, there was a small protest outside city hall. The college- aged students stood out there with signs complaining about the level of smog in the city. A few of the City Council members came down to talk to them, and only one got mean and yelled. Those watching it said it was a miracle." He smiled. "In other news, sports!" he said happily.
Jim glanced at Blair. "Did you know about the protest?"
Blair nodded. "Yup. The Poly-Sci department organized it. It was a senior project for one of the students, proving that today's kids could effectively organize and protest because the teacher thought real protests were dead." He smiled. "It was so cool. The students all kept their cool. No one was arrested. It's supposedly the most peaceful protest anyone's seen recently."
"Their signs were interesting," Jim agreed. "What was that math equation?"
"Something to help figure out the amount of smog a single person inhales in an hour," Blair said with a shrug. "They used the hallway in my department to paint the signs and that's what was told to me when I asked." He stood up. "Want a beer?"
"Yeah, please," Jim said, looking thoughtful. "How did you hear about the steak thing?"
"One of my students works best with music so I graciously allowed him to wear a radio to his tests. Standard in-the-ear headphones, low volume, I check every time. The news broadcast about the steaks came over while he was writing an essay." Blair brought back two beers and sat down to watch the sports scores go past. "Hey, we won," he said happily. "Our girls golf team is really hot this year."
"Blair, it's golf," Jim pointed out.
"Yeah, but we've got a kid that's really hot. She's thinking about trying out to do the Pro tours." Blair sipped his beer, staring at the TV. "It still wasn't me, Jim. Quit worrying. Simon knows about the letter."
"Uh-huh," Jim said, taking a gulp of beer. "What did he say?"
"That he was looking forward to it." Blair grinned at him. "It wasn't a dream, Ellison. It was the drugs." He went back to watching the TV. When the news was over, Blair got up and went into his room. He had some grading to do.
Jim relaxed and thought about it. Blair was right, he wouldn't have done anything to the steak supply, Sandburg was an omnivore. He usually ate tongue and birds, but he still wouldn't have hurt the steak supply. He shrugged off his thoughts and went up to his room, hoping for a real night of sleep. It was going to be a long day tomorrow. He had caught the steak case and there were no clues.
Blair handed his last grade sheet to the Chair and gave her a smile. "I'm off for my whole two days of break," he told her. "See you at graduation."
She chuckled. "You didn't have to take the first summer session, there are other teachers with less time in."
"Yeah, but I have *plans* for the last session," Blair said with a naughty grin. He nearly danced out of the office, but he managed to contain himself. He had things to do in the next two days. Besides graduation tomorrow. He climbed into his car, smiling as the engine actually started on the first try. Today was going to be a good day. He drove off, heading to the police station. It might technically be cheating, but he wasn't going to interfere with Jim's investigation. Just listen to him gripe about it. He grinned at his image in the mirror and moved a little faster.
"Simon," Blair called as he headed into the Captain's office. "Hey, man, what's up?" he asked as he closed the door behind him.
"Sandburg," Simon said, glaring at him. "The steaks?"
"Wasn't me, man," Blair said with a smile.
Simon groaned and shook his head. "If you say so. What's next?" Blair just continued to smile. "I see. Don't trust me?"
"Ah, but you assigned *Ellison*," Blair pointed out, sitting down across from his friend. "How can I compete with that?" Simon gave him a disbelieving look. "No, really, the steaks weren't me. A funny idea, but not mine."
Simon's mouth fell open. "You have help," he accused. Blair smiled again. "Your mother's in town, isn't she," he accused, standing up. "I'm going to tell Ellison if you don't confess," he warned.
Blair leaned closer. "It's not my mom, man. She approves of the exercise, but couldn't come." He smiled again. "But yeah, I've got *plans* and I'm not alone. How do you want them this time?"
Simon sat down hard, staring at his friend in shock. "You've gotten someone on the top ten list?"
Blair shrugged. "No, not Cascade's," he said as he stood up. "But we'll deal. How do you want them?"
"Begging and on their knees as they crawl through the office," Simon said firmly.
"Good!" Blair said happily. "I can do that." He walked out, going to help Jim with his other cases. It wouldn't be fair to help him on this one after all, but Jim was a bright guy, he'd eventually figure it out. He stopped long enough to talk to Henry Brown, another detective, and then went to type things in for Jim.
Simon turned on the radio in his office, nearly swallowing his cigar when he heard the news.
"We are in a stand-off situation at the college," the announcer said in a breathless voice. "It seems a professor of Anthropology has been taken hostage. Cascade's SWAT team has been called and is on the scene, but we can't get a word out of them. Captain!" he yelled. "Please, a comment on the situation?"
"This isn't fun and games," the SWAT Captain said, and the radio went to static.
Simon groaned and waved his hand, bringing his detectives running. "Someone's holding Sandburg hostage," he told them. "I don't think this has anything to do with his *letter*, but it never pays to underestimate the man." Henry Brown shook his head. "Good, then I pity the man who's doing this. Go help the SWAT team before the Chief makes this official." The detectives all ran out the door, Jim leading the pack. Simon picked up the phone and dialed his boss. "Sir, this isn't part of Sandburg's plan," he said quietly. "I've gotten confirmation from someone who's working with him." He swallowed. "Yes, sir. No, he's denied it, sir, but I do know he's got outside help. No, sir, he's giving us a gift-wrapped criminal. Yes, sir," he said, starting to smile. "I'm sure. He said it wasn't on Cascade's top ten list, but apparently I'm going to be pleased to get him." He laughed. "Yes, sir, I'll tell him about that. Yes, sir, it was fortunate that your neighbor had a steak for your pregnant wife." He laughed and hung up, leaning back in his chair. "Okay, Ellison is there, this will work." The news broadcast came back on and he listened to it with a critical ear, trying to figure out when Jim got there.
Sandburg looked over at his partner, then typed another message into his chat area. Then he closed up his computer and went to put it away.
"Who were you chatting with?" Jim asked, not looking up from his magazine.
"An old friend of my mother's." Blair came back and leaned down to look at the article. "Thanks for saving my butt today. That guy was very psycho and I was actually scared there for a few minutes. Especially when I heard it was only SWAT outside." Jim grunted so Blair took the magazine. "I was thanking you?" he noted.
"Make me dinner and it's even," Jim suggested, taking his magazine back. "Preferably steak?"
"Sure, I stopped to pick a few up, just in case," Blair said, going to find a steak for his partner. It was the least he could do after a spectacular save. It wasn't too long before he came out with a thick broiled steak for his partner.
"Blair, this is a professional steak," Jim pointed out when he saw it.
"Yeah, see one of my students busses over at the chain steak place near the college. He got me a pretty good deal on a few of their steaks to go. Only I had them give them to me raw and I stored them in the freezer in case they run out again." He bounced lightly. "Any luck on finding the other steaks?"
"No, they're probably gone by now," Jim groaned. He cut into the inch-thick hunk of meat and moaned as he ate it. "Great," he said between bites. Blair took good care of him, this steak proved it. Within a few minutes, he was asleep on the couch, the bones of his steak all that was left to show his last meal.
Blair chuckled and went to clean up after himself. Then he called Simon to come get Jim. His sentinel needed to be *far* away for the next day. A good steak was an excellent enticement to nap. Once Jim was gone, Blair pulled out his laptop and reentered his chat room. It was time to solve this. He saw the unfamiliar name and shook his head, sending out the coded message to go to the backup place. He wasn't the average stupid criminal.
Simon looked up as Blair was led into the Major Crimes bullpen, standing up to stare at the man in the suit that had Sandburg in handcuffs. "What are you doing?" he demanded. "You arrested a member of my team?"
"Captain Banks, we're aware of your Governor's plans," the agent said calmly. "But some of the plans are too disruptive to be allowed to continue." He released Blair and shoved him. "Please try and keep him out of trouble."
Blair smiled at him. "You'll pay for this," he said kindly. "My mother saw you."
Simon groaned. "I thought you said she wasn't in town."
"She came in last night," Blair informed him, still smirking at the agent. "I'd retire, man, my mother's not the woman to mess with."
"Yes," the agent said with a smile, "but assaulting an officer or a federal agent is still a crime, Professor Sandburg." He turned and left.
"What were you planning?" Simon asked him.
"Just a backwards movement," Blair said cryptically. He flopped down into a chair and sighed. "They had a hacker tracking me online. A great plan, but they have no idea." He smiled. "Ten minutes," he warned. Then he got up and walked out.
Simon walked out and scrambled his men, they needed to be ready for anything. He watched Henry Brown, but he looked really confused. Apparently he wasn't in on this part of the plan.
Simon moaned in pain as the clocks in the city all stopped and started to run backwards. Someone had even hacked the city's intranet and messed with their clock somehow. All the clocks that were run by computer were running backwards. Maybe even... He picked up his phone and called the computer department. "With what's happening, could this work on banks?" he asked without preamble. The answer he got made him smile as he hung up. "So, a theft," he said calmly, leaning back. "Not so bad of a plan." He sat up as a messenger walked into the office.
Across town, a thief was breaking into a jewelry vault, leaving the money where it was. He couldn't distinguish which was common people's money and he didn't want to rob them, he had never robbed a commoner in his life. He lifted out the jewels, looking at them. "Fakes!" he screamed. "That dirty double crossing idiot," he yelled, slamming down the jewels. A note fell off the back of a particularly gaudy necklace so he picked it up and read it. "Police headquarters? Why?" He flipped the note over and smiled. "Ah, so *that's* where the real haul is. He was right, this will make my career." He gathered his tools and headed out, going to get the real jewels.
Simon looked out his window as a man came crawling through the doorway. He got up and went to go meet him, frowning down at him. "May I help you?" he asked, trying to keep a straight face.
"Yeah, I'd like to give myself up," the man said weakly. "I'd rather go to jail than have *him* be pissed at me anymore." He held up his already chained hands. "Please, Captain?"
"Sure, son, let's go talk about which *him* you mean," he said, helping the man up and taking him into an interrogation room. "Why were you crawling?"
"Because I pissed off that nice, innocent looking professor," he said, his eyes still wide. "And I'm really sorry. Can you tell him that?"
"Sure," Simon said, smiling at him. "What's your name, son?"
"I'm known as the Black Shadow," he said, looking happier. "I wasn't always happy with the nickname, but now I'm quite proud of it."
"As in the world-class thief? The guy who managed to get a piece of the British crown jewels out of England?" The guy nodded. "What did you do to piss Sandburg off?"
"I made fun of his mother!" he said, starting to cry.
Simon patted him on the shoulder. "It's all right, many a man has underestimated Naomi Sandburg," he said kindly, grabbing the tape recorder kept in the room for confessions. "Sit down, we'll get this started. Do you want a lawyer?" The thief shook his head. "All right, sign this form," he said, pulling one out and handing it over with a pen, "and we'll get started right now."
The thief quickly signed the form and handed it back, starting to babble his life story. Simon was very happy, a big bust like this would definitely get him a raise. The FBI hadn't even gotten a picture of this guy. Yup, definitely a raise.
Blair looked up as the loft's door slammed. "Hey, Jim, how was your day?" he asked. He finished filling out his evaluation form and put it an envelope, sealing it before Jim could snatch it. "Nope, you know better."
"Sandburg, how did you get someone to steal the beef?" Jim asked calmly.
"One of my mom's friends. Did you catch him?" Jim nodded. "Cool." He handed over a key. "To the cooled warehouse."
Jim flopped down and looked at his roommate. "How did you do this? I could *never* plan anything like what happened today. Even one of the lower end mafia thugs turned himself in." He glared. "The chief wants to hang you because his pregnant wife wanted a steak the day they disappeared. The Governor wants to kiss you and shake your hand because you let Simon make a very high profile bust and I got a few good lower-level people out of this. I'm not sure if I should congratulate you or not."
"Just doing my job for the department, Jim, just doin' my job," Blair said smugly. He tossed over the evaluation. "Give that to the courier."
"Sure. How did we rate?"
"Great actually. Same as last time. Simon's bust is going to make Major Crimes very popular again, but not you. That's why I gave him the thief. Oh, and my mom said to tell Simon he was welcome." He got up and headed for the bathroom. "I'm going to soak. Yell when you have dinner fixed." Then he shut and locked the door.
Jim leaned back and looked at the envelope. This was going to be a good one, he just knew it.