Note: Supposed to be funny. ~~~ means going into/coming out of flashbacks.
Blair smiled at the men getting on the plane, waving when one looked back. "You know, Jim, those guys weren't that bad."
Jim snorted and walked away from the airport window. His job was done and he deserved a beer. Or some time alone. Most definitely some time alone now that those people were out of his city.
"Awww, come on, man, they were great once you got past the costumes."
Jim grunted in annoyance as he turned to look at his partner. "Do you remember how you met?"
Blair frowned as he remembered back.
Blair looked up as someone opened his office door. His pen dropped from his fingers when the first thing he saw was a bright pink *cape*. "Um, can I help you?" he asked in a light, conversational tone. You never knew what people might do to you, he'd found that out the hard way, but none of his tormenters had ever worn a cape, much less a *pink* one.
Two other people walked through the door, letting the guy in the pink cape lock the door and pull the shades. One of the guys, in a bright blue spandex bodysuit and eyemask, turned to look at him. "Don't worry, citizen, we're not here to harm you."
Blair nodded, willing to let them live with their delusions for now. "Okay, so who are you and why are you in my office?"
The guy in the pink cape turned and smiled. "Isn't it obvious?" He nodded at his friend in blue. "He's Circuits, I'm Pilon, and he's Energy," he identified with a head nod to the guy in the red bodysuit and eyemask.
"I'm Professor Sandburg." The guys waved. "So, what are you doing here in my office? Are you hiding from someone? I have a friend in the police department, maybe they could help." Or at least they'd help him get out of this. And calling them would be a very good thing if it didn't spook the men in front of him.
"No, thank you, Professor. We've got the situation well in hand," Circuits said, his voice low and calm, almost like he was trying to calm the poor mortal down.
"Oh, okay." Blair nodded, mentally sighing as the phone rang. "Hello?" he answered.
[Sandburg, do you know where your pet is?] Simon Banks asked. He was their boss at the Police station and he wasn't sounding like he was having a good day either.
"Simon, if I had that gift, we wouldn't have so many problems," Blair joked.
//The sound of Simon chewing on something soft, then a groan// [Then we need you to come in. Hopefully Jim will follow you here.]
"It may be a while before I can get there, Captain." He glanced at his guests. "I've got some people in my office right now."
The three guys turned to watch him.
[Well, tell them that you've got to leave. Jim ran out of here for no discernable reason; I need you here now!]
"Simon, calm down. I'll be there soon and I'll bet Jim is somewhere near me right now." He smiled at the men watching him, not wanting to alarm them. Jim would not take their presence well. He put a hand over the receiver. "It's my Captain, I'm being called in. I've got to go."
"We can't let you go out there," Pilon said. "Not with *him* loose."
Blair shrugged and did the practical thing, he handed over the phone. "You tell him."
Pilon took the phone. "Captain...."
"Banks," Blair said, relaxing. He was going to enjoy this show. And a free one at that, great for perpetual and poor graduate students.
"Captain Banks, I'm afraid we can't let Professor Sandburg out of this office. There is a dangerous man running around outside."
[Uh-huh. And you are?] Simon asked, patience held firmly in check.
Pilon checked with Circuits, who nodded. "I'm Pilon, Guardian of all that's Right and Just." He smiled at Blair. "I cannot allow an innocent citizen to be harmed."
[Hand the phone back to Professor Sandburg please,] Simon said calmly, his voice having that humoring the delusional tone. [Blair?] he asked patiently.
"Yeah, Simon? I wonder who's running around out there." He got up and went to the window, and saw Jim outside scowling up at him. "Found Jim." He waved Pilon over and pointed at his partner.
"That's the dangerous one, come away from the window," he said before Blair could say anything, trying to physically pull the young man to safety.
"Relax, man, that's my partner. Simon? It's cool, just Jim." There was a sigh from the phone. "Be there soon." He hung up and waved Jim up. Jim was not going to be happy but he'd be free of this mess soon.
Pilon looked at him, then at Energy, who shrugged, then back at Blair. "We'll stay just to make sure you'll be safe," he decided.
"Blair, open this door," Jim called, wiggling the knob. Circuits did it and stepped back.
"Hey, man, what's up?" Blair asked as Jim walked in. "Meet my guests yet?"
Jim grunted, using his enhanced senses to check Blair before turning to look at the three men. "And you are?"
Jim just nodded. "Thank you for guarding my partner, but I need to take him now. Come on, Chief." He fingered his phone, apparently considering a call to campus safety, or the local psych ward.
Blair packed his bag quickly, not wanting to have to clean up blood. He liked this office and the blood would never come out of his handwoven decorative carpets. "Okay. What's up?"
"I'll tell you on the way in." He stood guard as Blair left. "Gentlemen, just pull the door closed behind you and don't lock it please, the lock's broken." He followed his Guide out. He saw his friend's grateful smile and clapped him on the shoulder. "You're going to explain that, right?" Blair's shrug made him shake his head. "Just don't let it happen again, Sandburg, that's too weird, even for you."
Circuits turned to Energy. "Were you wrong or is that man blind?" Energy shrugged. "Should we work on saving him?" Energy closed his eyes to think for a few moments, then nodded. "All right, we'll keep watch over him while we're here. It shouldn't be too hard, our target's around here anyway." He led the way out of the office, following the detective's orders about the door.
Blair smiled up at Simon. "No, really, Simon, spandex suits, masks, and one guy had a cape." He sipped his coffee. "It was funny really, them trying to protect me from Jim." He smiled at his partner, who was leaning against the door while he told this story. "They didn't mean any harm."
Jim and Simon both snorted.
"Cool, you managed stereo disbelief." He got up and walked out of the office, knowing Simon wanted to warn Jim to watch him better. Simon did that often recently.
"You all right with this?" Simon asked, not flinching at the dirty look Jim sent his way. "That's what I thought. Just be careful, they don't sound quite right."
Jim smiled his most mean and cruel smile. "No, really?" He followed Blair out to his desk.
Simon watched them, shaking his head. "And I thought things couldn't get any stranger." He shook himself and picked up the phone. Someone else had to know about this, just so they wouldn't lay all the blame on him if these new weirdos did something bad. "Chief? Simon Banks. We've got a small situation that I think is more for you to handle...."
Blair looked up as a shadow moved across him, recognizing the source of the shadow after a second's thought. "Sit, eat, don't touch the jello or the meat, they're both odd colored today."
"Thank you," Circuits said. He sat down, leaning on the table. "We're sorry about yesterday. We didn't mean to worry you or your partner."
Blair stopped the forkful of salad on its way to his mouth. "That's okay." He ate the bite, chewing slowly as he thought about what to say. "Jim and I, well, we've been in the middle of some bad situations and he worries."
Circuits nodded. "I can understand. We're all sorry we thought he was there to cause you harm."
Blair smiled as he swallowed. "Yeah. I guess in your line of work one can never be too careful." He took a drink of milk. "So, why are you here in Cascade?" The more information he could get, the less Jim would yell at him for eating lunch with the superhero.
"We're chasing someone from the East Coast; he ran here to avoid us. We sent him back yesterday right before we ran into your Jim."
Blair nodded. "Oh. Okay. So, now what?"
"Now we find his accomplice and take them back also." He held up a hand. "If you don't mind, please don't tell your partner." Blair nodded, his mouth was full. "Thank you. There is a reason I'm here today, besides to apologize. We need some help getting around the city. Would you agree to help us when you can?"
"Um," Blair said, swallowing fast and thinking faster. "Not a problem. I've been here for a few years now, know my way around." And he could keep an eye on these guys for Jim.
Circuits patted him on the hand then stood. "Thank you. We stole one of your cards before we left. We'll call you when we need you." He left the communal area.
Blair pulled out his ringing cellphone. "Hello, Jim?" he asked, already knowing who was on the other end.
[Chief, what was he doing there?] Jim asked, his voice tight sounding.
"Come in and ask me in person." He hung and worked on finishing his lunch.
Jim stormed into the cafeteria, stalking toward Blair. He sat down in the other chair, not the one Circuits had sat in, but he did file the man's scent away for later. "What was he doing here?"
"Apologizing," Blair said after finishing his last swallow of milk. He had already decided not to tell Jim the other part, better to come to him with a few details he could use than to be locked in the truck for the next five days.
"And?" Blair shrugged and grinned. "I'll handcuff you to the truck if they come around for you again," he threatened with a growl.
"Jim, you don't own me, I'm not your truck," Blair said patiently, getting up to toss out his trash and go back to his office.
"Be met," Jim muttered. "You're not theirs either and I'm going to keep it that way."
Blair picked up the phone, typing with one hand. "Sandburg." He saved the form he was working on for court. "I'll be down in twenty minutes." He hung up, grabbing his jacket so he could put his usual necessities into the pockets. He stopped long enough to lean into Simon's office, waving since he was on the phone.
"Hang on," Simon said, putting whomever it was on hold. "Where are you going? You said you'd be here late getting ready for court in two days." He frowned. "Did Jim call?"
"No, but someone did and I'll be back later. This was just memory maintenance." He walked out before his boss could stop him.
"No, wait. Sandburg!" The young man walked back in. "Tell me you're not going to deal with those....cartoon characters." The younger man shook his head, giving him his best patient teacher look. "Good, leave your partner a note." He clicked the phone. "Sorry about that...."
Blair walked back out to his and Jim's desk, leaning over to write out a quick note, then ran for the stairs. He walked out the front door of the station, gasping as he was pulled to the side. His mouth was covered and his head turned. "Circuits," he said once he was released. "Not a good idea. I'm very watched here because I'm a choice target for kidnapping." He took a step back, looking around to see who may have seen it. "Just be thankful none of my coworkers are around." Someone tapped on his shoulder, making him turn and try to look innocent. "Rafe, hi." He glanced at Circuits, then back at Rafe. "I'm acting as a native guide for him and his friends." His voice trailed off as he was pulled a short distance away. He rubbed his now-sore arm once he was released. "Man, you've been taking lessons from Jim again, haven't you?"
"Sandburg, that man grabbed you. What is going on," he said slowly. "And I want the truth, I'm not Ellison."
"I told you, I'm playing native guide for him and his friends." He crossed his arms. "Anything else you wanted to know?"
Rafe nodded. "Yeah, a few things, but I'll drop it, for now." He pulled out a card. "Jim's out of the city; call me if you need help." Then he walked into the building.
"Gee, not even a silver bullet," Blair muttered as he walked back to the people he was watching over. "Okay, let's go." He was led to a rental car, noted as such by the Hertz sticker on the window, and was helped behind the wheel. "Where are we going?"
"To our hotel first so we can pick up the others. Then down to the waterfront." He watched his newest helper. "You've very highly thought of and protected," he noted.
"I've been kidnaped about a dozen times by various psychos that we were trying to catch at the time, and since I'm supposedly just an observer everyone's real on edge when they don't know where I am. Especially Jim." He switched lanes, pulling up in front of the hotel he had been pointed to. "Okay, go get them. I'll wait here." He watched the supposed superhero disappear inside. He was tapping his fingers on the steering wheel with the beat of the song on the radio when he felt a very familiar sensation - a cold, round, metal object against his temple. He turned his head slowly, swallowing hard. "I don't suppose you want me to move the car?" The gun was pulled back and waved so he moved to the other seat. "Man, you don't want to do this. I'm...." A hard slap shut him up, making his vision blur temporarily. "Okay, so maybe you do." He thought for a second as the carjacker pulled out into traffic with a squeal of cheap tires. "Can I, um, call home and tell them that I'll be late?" The man holding the gun nodded as he shifted lanes. Blair pulled out his phone and Rafe's card.
"You need a card to call home?" the carjacker snorted.
"My," slight pause, "lover just got a new cellphone and I haven't memorized it yet." He pushed in the number quickly and waited for it to be answered. "Bri? It's Blair. I'm, um, not going to be home until *way* late, at least, but I'm thinking this might be goodbye, so...." The phone was snatched and thrown into the back seat. "I had to tell them."
"And you did." The thief turned a corner, going a nice, safe, unnoticed speed now. "Besides, I haven't decided yet if I'm shooting you or not. You might still see her."
Blair sighed. Sometimes criminals were so stupid. Leaving a witness alive? "Thanks. You're much nicer than the psychos that usually grab me." He got a confused look so he held out his hand with his brightest grin. "Blair Sandburg."
His hijacker started to laugh and shake at the same time. Apparently he'd heard of him.
"I tried to tell you but you hit me before I could," Blair pointed out, sounding reasonable.
Brain Rafe looked up from questioning a witness, spotting the man Blair had left with. He calmly walked over and shoved the man into the alley, slamming him into a wall. "Where's Sandburg?" he growled. He got a horrified look. "Let me guess, you left him in the car?"
"Yes, I'm afraid I did, officer."
"Detective," Rafe corrected, letting him go a little bit so he could back away to a less threatening distance. "Describe the car to me."
The other man smiled. "I can do much better than that, I believe." He walked back into the hotel, heading up to their suite with the detective follow obediently behind him.
Brian looked around in awe at all the equipment lying around. "Who *are* you guys?" he asked quietly.
"Defenders of Truth and Justice," Circuits said, holding out a device he'd picked up. "I believe the transmitter I slipped onto him should help you more than a description."
"Yeah, ah, thanks." He looked down then pocketed it. "So, who are you really?"
"I'm Circuits. My brothers in arms are Pilon and Energy. We are here to capture the remaining sidekick of the evil criminal we apprehended the other day." He took off his trench coat and sweat pants, showing off his costume. "If you need us, just call on us."
Brian nodded, walking out of the suite a little more confused than when he walked in. He made it all the way to the lobby before desperately looking for his sanity. Unfortunately, he found his boss first. "We have a transmitter on him," he said, pulling out the monitor. He was dragged along to the car, shoved inside, and the device was taken from his hand, thankfully without breaking it.
Jim walked into the bullpen, looking around in confusion at the empty space. He checked his watch as he walked over to his desk, dropping the pieces of his cellphone onto the pile of unfinished paperwork. He picked up the note to read. "Native guide," he snorted. "Must be a friend from another school." He picked up his phone and logged into his voicemail account, listening for new messages. Then he went really pale. The phone dropped from his fingers and he grabbed his spare phone from his desk before running out the door. He had to save his Guide. Again.
"Man, Jim is gonna be *so* pissed. It's lasagna night and I was going to make it fresh."
"Shut up! Just shut up!" his captor screamed. "You're a jinx and I don't want to hear about your life."
"If you'd let me go, the cops would be distracted and you'd have a better chance of getting away," Blair suggested lightly. "And you wouldn't have to face Ellison." He sighed, leaning back against the door. "Jim'll find me soon," he muttered, trying to sound like he was trying to convince himself. "He always does. We've had enough experience with this exercise to do it asleep." The car pulled over abruptly and his captor turned, grabbing the cellphone and handing it to him. Then he pushed him on the shoulder.
"Out. Just get out. I want to live, so just go back to Ellison and tell him I didn't hurt you, wouldn't hurt you, so I'll live a while longer."
Blair stood on the side of the highway, waving with one hand and dialing with the other. "That was nice of him." He smiled as he turned around and started walking. "Hey, Rafe, it's me. I'm safe." He laughed lightly. "No, I'm really safe. He didn't want me. Seems I have this reputation...." His smile got bigger. "No, he wanted me to tell Jim that he didn't hurt me so he'd live longer." He laughed and hung up, using the time for a leisurely walk.
Jim stormed into the bullpen, pushing the officers around Blair away to pull him up and squeeze him. Then he dropped him into a chair and scowled at him. "What happened?"
"Carjacking," Rafe said, handing over the file. "A nice, normal carjacking. With no psychos." He shared a look with Blair then turned his attention back to Jim. "He'd heard of you two so he released Blair with a plea for continued life."
Jim relaxed some, crossing his arms. "We'll see about that."
Simon cleared his throat, breaking the tension. "Did your witness come through, Ellison?"
He grunted, dragging his eyes over his partner again before answering. "Yes, sir. He saw the whole thing and he drew out the person he saw." He looked down at Blair again. "You're really okay?"
"I'm fine, Jim. Found out I'm a jinx to criminals but he didn't hurt me." He stood up, glancing at Simon. "I'm going home." Jim started for his keys but he shook his head. "You've still got stuff to do for court tomorrow. I'll take a cab back to the college."
"I'll take you," Rafe said quickly. "I was done anyway." He grabbed his jacket. "Come on, you can decide what I'm eating tonight," he teased as he led the way down to the car. He held off his questions until they were halfway back to Blair's house. "Who *were* they?" He glanced over at the snort. "Blair, one guy had a *cape*." He smiled. "It was funny and all, but still."
Blair cracked up. Finally he got out, "You shoulda seen Jim's face when he saw them," between gasps for air. Then he started to laugh harder.
Brian laughed lightly. "I bet, but they helped us get to you faster." Blair sobered. "They gave me a monitor for the transmitter they put on you."
"What!" Blair took off his jacket to search it. "That is *so* worse than Jim. How dare they," he muttered. He made a happy noise as he found it, tossing it in the glove box.
"I'm surprised Jim hasn't sewn one into each pair of your underwear." He pulled into a parking lot and turned off the car, turning to look at his friend. "I'd braid one into your hair." He picked up a curl to play with. When nothing was said, he dropped it. "Let me down easy, okay?" He was surprised when his mouth was taken, his breath sucked away. Eventually, he was allowed to pull back. "Wow. Now I know why your ex's keep coming back."
Blair sighed and smacked him on the arm. "I've been waiting for seven months for you to notice and you make bad jokes? Maybe I should do it again."
"Anytime," Brian said softly. "Anywhere and anytime."
"Does that mean I can pull you into a closet and act like a high schooler?" Blair asked with his best grin.
"Blair," Brian stopped, shaking his head. "You imp." He started the car. "What do we do about Jim?"
"His Royal Grumpiness is so straight he squeaks when he walks, but he knows I'm not so it's all good." He turned back around, looking out the front window, and sighed. "We're having lasagna tonight, want to come over?"
"Only if you promise I can have a goodnight kiss." He pulled back out onto the street. "What are you going to do about your new guardians?"
"They're here to catch someone so I'm going to let it ride. They mean well but I am going to throw a fit over the bug." He glanced over. "We telling him?"
"Yup." Brian pulled into a parking spot in the loft's parking lot, and turned to face his hopefully new boyfriend. "Then you two are going to tell me what's going on between you so I don't worry about him stealing you from me."
"*That* is Jim's secret to tell. I'm just a keeper of it."
"You and Simon?"
"Me and Simon," Blair agreed. He opened his door. "Come on, it's warm up there." He got out, heading up to his and Jim's apartment.
Brian got out of the car after watching Blair disappear into the building, and ran into Jim. "Hurt him and I'll rip you into little pieces," the older detective said. He turned, walking inside too.
"Good, then I won't worry so much," Brian muttered, jogging into the building and up the stairs. The loft's door was open so he walked in and took off his jacket. "Can I help?"
Jim handed over a beer as he walked past. "The kitchen is sacred Blair space. We only enter when he calls." He sat down on the couch, looking at his coworker. "What do you think you know, Brian?"
Brian took a long drink, organizing what he wanted to say. "You two are special in some way. That's why Simon's always on call for you. That's why you get the hard and impossible cases." He took another drink, moving over to the living room area so he could sit down too. "It's something that happened when you two got together; he added something to you to make you a better detective. And person from what I've heard." He turned his head to look over at Blair, who had just snorted. "Blair, you wouldn't believe what I've heard about Jim Ellison, eater of stupid rookies and tormentor of formerly sane coworkers."
Blair chuckled as he spooned cheese into the pan. "Never heard those but the ones people told me were probably as bad. We'll compare notes later. Tell him, Jim."
"Oh, wait, I have one more," Brian said as he turned to look at Jim again. "Whatever makes you special, Ellison, has bound you two soul deep. You're closer than most married couples. You've got this...awareness of Blair. I'm supposing that Megan was wrong about you being psychic, but you always seem to look at Blair when he walks in, like you knew he was coming."
"That's what happens when you can hear someone's heartbeat a block away," Blair quipped. He set the pan into the oven before walking over to join them. "Tell him, Jim."
Jim grimaced. "Only yours." He frowned at Brian. "I have a ...uniqueness that Sandburg helps me with."
"Jim, tell the man or go make a salad," Blair ordered. He pulled back his hair. "Never mind, just go make salad and I'll tell him." He shifted closer to the young detective. "Jim's senses went into overdrive, that's how we met. That's why I'm here, to help him control them." He saw the nervous lip licking so went on. "He's not Superman, we've proven time and again that he's not bullet proof, but I am kinda like Robin to him. I'm his control, his focus, and his teacher besides being the sidekick."
"You're the Jedi Master to my Padawan," Jim joked, "but I'm still not growing funny hair."
Blair rolled his eyes. "See what I have to put up with?"
"You're the one who made me go see the movie," Jim pointed out.
Blair shook his head, grinning just a little. "And a most troublesome Padawan you are too. I should beat you with a light saber," he muttered.
Brian cracked up in giggles, leaning against his boyfriend's side for support. By the time he was done, Jim was back and everyone had calmed back down into the seriousness of the discussion. "So, Robin, where do I fit into the crusading duo?"
"You're his," Jim said calmly. "Dinner has about ten minutes," he told Blair.
"Yup, the Dark Knight and his faithful dog...I mean sidekick," Blair said with a wink to Brian, "aren't together. Batman gets his society women and Robin has to find his own mate, or pleasure Alfred, either one." He took the young detective's hand in his, stroking the back of it with his thumb. "Said mate may be deputized as a temporary sidekick but more often he'd be the butler and let us do it. Otherwise the usual sidekick would have to lie too often and it gets confusing."
Brian smiled at them both. "I think I can handle that. Trying to keep up with you two would drive me nuts anyway." He leaned closer to his new boyfriend, slowly so Jim would have time to react, and kissed him gently.
"Hey, I don't do that in front of you," Jim protested with a hint of a pout. When they didn't break apart, he sighed. "Sure, torment the guy who hasn't had a date in months." When they still hadn't broken apart, he went to deal with supper. He'd even let them all eat in the living room, he was sure Brian wouldn't be that messy in his clean apartment.
Circuits looked up as a little round metal object was dropped onto his plate by a not-smiling Blair. He tried to smile at the Professor, hoping for a positive reaction, but he wasn't going to be pleasantly surprised this time. Blair leaned over, bracing his hands on the table. "I believe that is an illegal device. I also think you overstepped the boundary of our relationship and that you'd better be glad I found this instead of Jim."
The superhero nodded. "You're safe, that's all that matters." He picked it up delicately, handing it back. "We made this one for you after doing a standard background check." He smiled again. "How are you this morning, Professor?"
Blair sat down, thinking over the strangeness of this situation. "I'm fine, just a little pissed." He scowled at a waiter, making him leave - quickly. Then he turned his scowl at his associate. "Why did you think doing that was right? It was an invasion."
"We were merely trying to keep you safe." He glanced around. "You must admit, you tend to end up being harmed frequently." He leaned closer. "She'd gotten away by the time we got there last night. We think we know where she went though."
Blair had just nodded when the gun went off into the ceiling. "Oh, hell," he muttered, dialing his cellphone and putting it on the table, but hiding the display with the edge of a napkin. Someone had answered it, they were on their way and he would get on with his day eventually.
"Please, ladies and gentlemen, just cooperate and I'll be gone soon. All I want are all your pretty sparklies and even prettier green bills. Lay them on the table and we'll all be fine and you can get back to your breakfasts fairly quickly."
Brian answered his phone, then jumped up. "Damn! Blair again!" Jim and Simon stopped arguing and came out of the office to look at him. He handed the phone off to Jim so he could dig out the locator. He and Jim ran out of the bullpen together, and Brian was nice enough to let Jim lead him to the truck and drive. Finally, he got the phone back so he could monitor the situation.
The thief stopped beside Blair, shaking his bag. "Gentlemen?"
"I'm a grad student, man. I doubt you want my pitiful five dollars." He showed off the inside of his wallet then shrugged. "Sorry."
"That's all right. Your lover should be taking pity on you. I'll take your share from him instead." He pointed the open hole of his bag at Circuits.
"I'm not his lover," Circuits said evenly. "I also have nothing for you." He crossed his arms over his chest.
Blair tapped his phone, making the hero focus on him instead of glare at the thief. "Play along. Guys like him shoot uncooperative people."
"A very wise man," the thief said, patting Blair on the head. "I'd listen to him," he said as his gun came up and his demeanor became colder.
"Hold it," Jim yelled as he walked in, gun already trained on the thief. "I'm already in a bad mood, I'd enjoy it. Put the gun down."
Blair got tired of the standoff after the first two minutes, and he did have a class in an hour anyway. So he picked up a serving platter off a waiter's tray rest and hit the thief across the back of the head. "*I'm* tired of this," he announced. He looked over at Jim. "You're getting slow in your old age, Ellison. Ten minutes to get here from the station?" He picked up his jacket and walked out. "I have students to harass," he told the detectives as he walked between them.
Brian and Jim stared at Blair's back, then at each other for a few seconds before shrugging and going to arrest the thief.
Simon bent over laughing, grabbing his stomach because it was hurting he was laughing so hard. "Oh, Jim, that's a good one," he said finally, starting to calm down. He finally got to the simply smiling stage. "I can't wait to read that report." He looked over at his computer as it dinged, opening his email inbox. "Speaking of which, the kid just gifted us with it." He read it, losing a little bit of a smile as the facts took hold of him. "Okay," he said, closing it and saving it for later. "He'll cut and paste it onto an official form later." He pointed at the door. "Rafe, out. I need to talk to Ellison about his potty mouth." He waited until they were alone and the door was closed. "Would you like to explain using the trash talk, which was recently forbidden by the Chief in a few memos that I *know* you received because I handed them to you?" When nothing was said, he coughed lightly. "You'd better hope that it isn't brought up or I'll be forced to suspend you. Again." He leaned back and picked up his cigar to suck on. "I'm waiting."
"I'm sorry, sir, I lost it when I saw who Sandburg was lunching with." Jim sat down in one of the chairs across from his boss. "Remember those comic book wannabe's?" Simon's mouth opened but the cigar stayed on his lip. "Yeah, them. Sandburg was eating with one of them."
Simon turned to his computer, typing in a message and sending it. "I told him we'd all be talking about this situation as soon as he came in, which should be very soon." He frowned at his detective. "Go find out about these guys. I want them gone. This is your *only* priority."
"Rafe?" Jim asked, and got a frown. "Less work with two people and he knows about them too," Jim suggested. He *really* didn't want to do this by himself.
"Send him in after you go," Simon decided. He waved him away with his cigar. "Jim, are you okay with them?" he asked before the other man could get to the door.
"He walked in this morning, didn't he?" Jim said seriously, walking out. "Rafe, your turn," he called as he headed for the coffee pot. He resisted the urge to eavesdrop, Blair would be proud of him.
Brian Rafe walked out of the office, coming up behind Jim. "Did you tell him?" he asked softly.
"Nope. The look on your face did." He turned, leaning against the counter. "Your face when you yelled told anyone looking." He sipped at his coffee, watching the expressive face. "Of course, if anyone had been watching, they would have caught you watching his rear a few weeks ago." He smiled before sipping. "How do you feel about that transmitter idea?"
Rafe snorted, relaxed again. "I told him I wanted to braid one into his hair." He turned to lean against the counter too. "Can you get a few? I know you have connections."
Jim smiled. "I can do that." He poured himself some more coffee. "I'll make that call tonight."
"Good. We'll do it while he's distracted." He filled his own cup. "What do we know about them?"
"Names." Jim frowned. "Aliases actually."
"Well, I was in their present lair..." That got him glared at. "Blair was helping them when he got carjacked. That's how I got the transmitter monitor." He patted the bulge in his pocket. "All I really remember, outside of the pink cape, was a lot of electronics. It looked like the batcave." Jim chocked on his coffee. "Sorry," he said with a faint grin.
Jim's head went from shaking in disgust to upright and searching instantly. "Sandburg's here."
"What is it with you and his first name?" Rafe asked.
Blair walked through the bulllpen, wanting to scratch where all the eyes were staring at him. He tapped on the Captain's door and walked in. "You summoned?" he said lightly, sitting down in the chair Simon pointed at.
"Sandburg," Simon said cheerfully, complete with the smile he reserved for people who he was about to eat. "Let me see your credentials for a minute."
Blair slowly put them in the outstretched hand. "What?" he said, trying to sound and look innocent.
Simon made a nice show of reading them, turning them around to check the border writing too. "Just what I thought," he said as he tossed them back. One didn't have to be a Sentinel to hear the relieved sighs from outside of the office, which made Simon roll his eyes. "I didn't see anything on there that permitted you to turn into Ellison." His smile got feral. "Or that made you the official liaison with psychotic vigilantes." He sat down and leaned back in his chair again, looking relaxed. "Nowhere, Sandburg, not a word of consent that overrides my authority." Blair started to open his mouth. "Don't even *try*," he said coolly. "I'm not in the mood for a Sandburg tall tale."
"You didn't *order* me to not give them directions," he defended. That got him loomed over as Simon sat up and leaned closer, scowling. "Listen," he adjusted quickly, "you want to keep an eye on them, make sure they don't wreck the city, I...."
"No," Simon cut in, jumping up to glare down at his worker, "absolutely not. I want them *gone*. G O N E, Sandburg. Not in your company. Not in this city. Not anywhere near you *or* Ellison."
"Simon," Blair tried to cut in.
"No!" He sat down, still pissed by his scowl and chomping on the cigar. "Think about what will happen when your usual shit happens and they're caught in the middle. Or when the Mayor hears about this." He rubbed his forehead. "I'm sure it'll be from the news after a routine Ellison arrest full of bullets and car chases." He groaned again. "I'll never hear the end of it," he moaned.
"Simon, they're not going to be involved in our cases." Blair shook his head at the renewed pained moaning. "They do the same thing we do, only in....well, spandex. And masks. And a cape." He grimaced. "Brightly colored spandex, masks, and cape." He shook himself out of that thought. "They're here to get one guy and bring him back. I'm trying to think of them like they're bounty hunters that dress a little strangely." That got him stared at in shock. "I'm keeping them out of trouble and helping. Look at it this way; would you rather have two weeks of them or two months of them running around? Also, they're *so* fascinating to study. The whole role-playing ideal against the whole police ideal. They're filling in a gap that society wants filled with heros, costumed or not. Actually, the costumes help them set themselves apart from the rest, helping them forge an identity that's unique...." His mouth was covered by the man behind him. "Jim!"
"Sir, I believe I and my partner need to have a discussion about pulling you into his mind," Jim explained calmly. He removed his hand to Blair's shoulder instead, holding him there. "Brian's making notes about what he saw in their hotel room so...."
"Rafe!" Simon bellowed. The young detective walked in, looking confused and guilty. "Is there some reason you didn't tell me you *chatted* with our costumed freaks?"
"Yes, sir, um, you didn't give me a chance." That got him frowned at. "That's where I got the monitor for the homing device we used yesterday."
Simon's face turned an alarming shade of purple, all the more distressing combined with his dark skin. He started to sputter, not able to make more than incoherent sounds.
"Simon!" Blair yelled, hopping up and shoving the hand off his shoulder. He ran around, helping the older man to the floor. Jim and Brian helped him, undoing the top button of Simon's dress shirt while Jim checked his pulse. Jim grabbed the phone and called for some paramedics, calming the other men down as best he could.
Everyone standing in the doorway moved as their boss was wheeled out, waiting until the elevator door closed to turn on Blair, unanimously scowling at him.
"I didn't do it!" he protested. "I was explaining why I was helping our costumed crime fighters and he lost it." He gave them his best pathetic look. "I didn't *mean* to hurt him."
Joel Taggert, the soon-to-be-former Captain of the Bomb Squad, walked into the bullpen and frowned at the two men in the doorway. "What did you do now, Ellison?" he asked tiredly.
"It was Blair," Henry Brown told him. "His mind finally broke Simon and we think he had a coronary."
Taggert nodded, scratching his short hair. "I expected that to happen sooner." He looked around at the tall men standing around menacing Blair. "Go back to work. Ellison, you take first shift at the hospital so you can apologize." He looked at Blair, then at Rafe, who was also watching Blair. "You two stay for a minute." He turned to look at the rest of the detectives. "I'll take over until someone else is appointed so I'll be drifting back and forth between the two departments when you need me. Any debate?" He got a round of head shakes. "Good. Go back to work." He walked into the office, shutting the door after the two men walked in. "What did you do to him, Blair?"
"I was explaining why I was helping our costumed crime fighters, how it was a fascinating study of a role society needed filled." His face fell more. "He started to turn purple and choke and stuff." He looked up into the deep brown eyes of his best friend outside of Jim. "I really didn't mean to hurt him," he said softly. Brian patted him on the shoulder.
Joel opened his mouth, then shut it. "I'm sure he's fine, Blair. It probably wasn't a real coronary." He walked over and sat behind the desk. "We have costumed crime fighters in town?" Both younger men nodded. "Like from a comic book?"
"Some sort of cross between Batman and Superman. Gadgets but no abilities, with the garish spandex look," Rafe summarized.
"Wasn't *that* bad," Blair muttered. "Except for the pink cape."
Brian nudged Blair, shaking his head. "Simon told Jim and I to figure them out since they seem to like Sandburg."
"What *is* it with you guys and my first name?" Blair asked. He turned back to Joel. "They want me to help them capture their evil sidekick sort of person and then they're leaving."
Joel choked. "Oh, God, I didn't think you were being serious," he said when he could breathe. "No wonder he went over the edge." He leaned back, resting his head on the chair, hoping it'd quit hurting. He looked Blair in the eyes. "Look at Brian and promise him you won't go near them." At the semi-shocked looks, he smiled. "You thought the overly-touchy sensed Jim was the only one who noticed?" The young men's mouths fell open. "Guys, please. After Brackett, I looked up his reasoning, and it led me to Blair's old work. And Brian, you watch his ass. You cost a lot of people their money in the pool." He grinned briefly then went back to serious. "Promise *him*, Blair, then you can go back to Rainier or join Jim at the hospital."
Blair looked at Brian and smiled. "I'll promise to be careful when I drive them around."
Brian shook his head. "Not good enough. I want you far, *far* away from them, Blair." He clasped his hands together so he wouldn't touch his boyfriend. "Think about this: if mentally unhinged people already like you, and they're looking for some evil doer who is probably deranged, where will you end up?"
Blair's eyebrows went up and he licked his lips. "That may be true, but I'm only the driver."
Joel snorted. "Sandburg, you don't even know the meaning of the words 'stay in the truck'." He swung the chair a few times. "I'm going to veto this. Blair, you may not help them."
Blair shook his head. "Joel, consider two things. Loose psycho running around town who already knows I've been seen with them if he's keeping track of them, and the last time I stayed in the car, I got carjacked." Both older men choked. "See, I'm *much* safer helping them catch him." Both men shook their heads, in unison.
"Her," Circuits said from the doorway. Brian waved him in so he walked in and shut the door. "Evil's an equal opportunity employer." He pulled a chair over, sitting down next to where Blair was standing. "Detective Rafe, nice to see you again. As it is to see you well, Professor." He looked at Joel. "I'm one of the people involved in this debate so I thought it might be prudent to attend this decision."
Joel regained his composure fairly quickly. He held a hand across the desk. "Captain Taggert, temporary head of Major Crime." They shook hands, Joel grabbing the ringing phone as he pulled back. "Taggert." He nodded a few times as he listened, then hung up. And the phone rang again almost immediately. "Taggert." He sighed. "No, sir. I have it." Pause. "Yes, sir, and I just got off the phone with..." Long pause. "Yes, sir, I'm sure. Thank you." He hung up. "Jim said it wasn't a real heart attack, just an extreme spike in Simon's already high blood pressure. They'll be keeping him for observation and Daryl is already there with his mother." He blew out a deep breath. "The other was the Chief, telling me you are *mine* until Simon gets back." He stood up. "I'm going to go give the good news, you three discuss this." He walked out of the office, leaving the door open.
Circuits turned his chair to look at Brian. "Detective Rafe, we feel as you do about keeping him safe, but you must admit our evil sidekick could well be drawn to the good Professor." Both men frowned at him. "Which is why I put the transmitter on him."
Brian reached over and covered Blair's mouth. "I can understand that, Jim and I were discussing the same proposition earlier to protect him." That got him bit, but he still didn't move his hand. "We would prefer Blair to be safely away from her. OW!" He waved his hand, trying to calm the deeper bite.
Blair glared at his boyfriend, then at the hero. "I can talk and think for myself, thank you." He got up to pace. "Rafe, drop it. I'm a grown man and I'll do what the *hell* I want. If you're going to turn into Ellison, tell me now so I can find someone without a domineering streak. As for you," he said, glaring at Circuits, "I'm tired of this. I will *not* let myself be surrounded by people who want to order me around or that do things for my own good. I don't need a mother and I sure as *hell* don't need another guardian." He 'eep'ed as he was picked up and carried into the bullpen. He spun around on Henry, scowling so hard on him that Henry took a few involuntary steps back. "You'd better have a good reason for that," he said softly.
Henry Brown swallowed hard, nodding. They all knew it wasn't the screaming Sandburg you had to watch out for, it was the calm Blair after the screaming Sandburg that was the scary one, the one they were facing now. Fortunately, Henry's partner saved him from a horrible demise by pulling Blair down the hall and into an empty interrogation room.
"What the hell was that, Blair?" Rafe yelled, turning to kick a chair out of his way. "You agreed to keep this out of the station and not twenty-four hours later you're throwing it back in my face. Did I miss a clause somewhere that said you could do that?"
"Me? ME! Damn it, I'm not the one that started acting like....like..." He growled in frustration, spinning around and picking up a chair so he could throw it at the mirror. "I am not the one," he said just a little too calmly, "that acted like I'm some fragile little creature that will intentionally run toward danger because it's *fun*," his voice dripped with anger. He stepped closer. "Not only am I able to think by myself and make my own decisions, but I've been doing it a lot longer than you have for me. I am fully able to assess a possible course of action and make rational decisions about acting on it. I don't need a *keeper*," he spat the last word, seeing the shock on the slightly older man's face.
"My, don't we sound like lovers," Joel said as he walked in and closed the door behind himself. The heat of their glares pushed him against the cold metal of the door but he was determined to help solve this, they made a cute couple. "Brian, you're acting like you're involved. All that overprotective stuff that always gives it away has come out of your mouth in the last hour. But Sandburg is right about a few things. No, you don't need a keeper, you have Ellison for that. You need someone who cares deeper and will point out faulty logic to you." They were still glaring at him. "Guys, I'm going to settle this now. Blair, you're suspended," he said over the gasps, "until they are gone and you will be placed under protective custody. And since I have suspicions of a romantic involvement between you two, Brian can't go with you. He'll be working on finding this woman." He crossed his arms. "Rafe, you and Jim deal with this while I and the other officers watch over Blair for you." He turned to open the door. "And, gentlemen, I'd make it a lot less obvious around here in the future." He slammed the door behind himself.
The couple looked at each other and shook their heads. "No, nope, not even," Brain said as he grabbed Blair's hand and pulled him down to his car. "In," he said with a slight push to the unresisting body. "I'm not letting someone else guard you." He spun the tires as he pulled out.
"Ah," Joel said, standing back up from his watching the security cameras. "A nice plan." He patted the watch officer's shoulder before walking back into the bullpen. "He'll be safely guarded, I'm sure, so what can I do to help your stay shorter?" he asked Circuits as he walked into Simon's office.
"Well," Circuits said, rubbing his forehead, "we still need a native guide."
Joel sat down, smiling his nastiest smile. "I know *just* the person for that." He picked up the phone, hitting the button marked for a certain cellphone. "Ellison?"
Blair looked around the suite in awe. "Brian, how are we affording this?" When he didn't get an answer, he turned to look at his boyfriend. "Brian?"
"Just watching your hair," the detective murmured, running his fingers up into the silky strands. "So many shades. Red and golds mixing with the browns, all creating the most perfect halo for your face." He leaned over to brush his lips across his boyfriend's. "A perfect angel," he whispered before their lips met again. His hand reflexively pulled Blair closer, one hand letting go to run down the firm back and force them closer together.
Blair pulled back, his eyes filled with awe. "I just forgot what I was thinking," he said. He licked his lips, tasting them so he could savor the taste.
"Blair, never worry about the money, okay? I don't spend it on anything but the basic necessities." He caught the pointed look at his suit. "Keep it a secret?" he asked with a smile. He got a confused nod so he moved closer. "My last boyfriend is a minor designer trying to make a name for himself. I just happen to be his favorite model, walking advertisement, and muse." He grinned, rubbing down the strong arms that had been clutching him a moment ago. "I get them for the cost of the fabric and labor." He looked over the flannel and jeans ensemble his boyfriend was wearing. "I'll introduce you if you want."
Blair grinned. "I can't see me in a suit, following Jim around." That brought a brighter smile to Brian's face. "And I doubt he'd make me one in flannel so I could stay warm." He was pulled against the hard chest, his head pressed against a shoulder.
"I'll keep you warm."
"You're doing a great job so far." Blair looked up. "I'm sorry, about earlier and all that. I shouldn't have said that in the bullpen." He was let go, by a few inches. "You were pulling an Ellison though, just as badly as he would have." He put a finger over the opening lips. "No, let me finish. I know your first instinct is to protect me, but I *can* do that most of the time." He grinned. "Really. Jim's protests to the side, I can handle myself in most any situation." He got a slow nod. "You can't protect me, Bri, not without putting yourself in danger or breaking orders." His eyes twinkled as his grin got mischievous. "And then Jim would be out of a job."
That got Brian, making him laugh and grab his lover tightly. "You're too special for words." He pulled back, looking down into the blue eyes. "I'll try to do better, and let Jim do the complaining, okay?" That got him a pleased smile and a nod. "Good. I'll quit being an ogre and you'll stay in the truck." His arm got swatted. "When Jim doesn't need you to save him? We all know it's really that way." That got him kissed, during which their bodies made it to the floor.
Jim thundered into the bullpen, and everyone scattered. He threw open the door to the office and gave Joel his worst glare. "No way....sir. I am not helping those costumed freaks catch some other spandex wearing flake." He took a deep breath through his nose, stilling completely as he caught wind of a familiar scent. "And why was Sandburg that mad?" he asked with a deadly calm.
Joel shook his head, pointing at a chair. "Blair and Brian had a disagreement, and yes, you are going to help them." He leaned forward once Jim was sitting down, giving him his best 'superior officer' look. "You will do this because I am in charge until Simon comes back and I want them gone. You can either follow orders or hand over your badge right now." He stared the younger man down. "Now then, if you're ready to get down to work?" He got a curt nod. "Sandburg is in protective custody with Rafe until you catch her." Jim started to open his mouth but got glared at for it. "Yes, I know whatever thing you have or do requires him to be around but I know he'll come running if you need him that way. They're shacked up in a suite at the Ambassador so you can easily find them if you need to. I'm quite sure they'll both come running if you so much as look their way." He tossed a folder over. "I'm sure you'll fit in with them very well, your 'whatever' letting you merge into their world." He sat back. "Questions?"
"A few. Why is Sandburg in protective custody with Rafe and what 'whatever' do you mean?"
Joel smiled. "Because everyone except Sandburg, including those nice and polite gentlemen you'll be aiding, agreed that she, the evil sidekick, would be coming for him. Which is what started the fight." His smile got brighter. "Detective Rafe is with him because my plan worked. They'll be keeping each other out of trouble." His smile fell. "As for the other, let me say one word. Brackett." He noted the flinch. "You're not the only one that has sources in high places and your partner is not the only person on the 'net." He got comfortable. "I wanted to know why he targeted you specifically so I looked at his statements before they became classified." He ignored Jim's slow blanche. "Then I looked up Blair's old work. Using the information I had, I connected the dots and came up with a picture of you two."
"It was classified?" Jim muttered.
"Yes, and the nice men who came to talk with both Simon and myself were mostly quite pleasant while they insisted that you continue to work here." He waved a hand at the office. The detective looked up in amazement. "They said, 'sometimes the status quo is best' to explain their rationale." Jim nodded numbly. "They also assured Simon that neither of you would disappear into the night, and the only people who would know were those with an absolute need to know or they'd die."
Jim slumped in relief. "One less worry. Does Sandburg know?" He got a raised eyebrow. "Okay, so why didn't you tell me?"
"They told me not to." He shrugged. "Go to their hotel room and help those men leave Cascade sooner, Detective Ellison. Dismissed."
Jim stood up, still dazed, and walked down to his truck.
Joel smirked. "One argument cut down without any bruises or property damage."
Jim looked over the three men, holding in his shudder at their costumes. "How do you manage to not get seen?" he asked Pilon. "Black and grey really are more easily ignored."
"Yes, but they don't have the same touch as our outfits," Pilon told him. "Our nemesis' are often afraid when they see my cape alone, let alone all three of us."
Jim just nodded. "Okay." He looked down at the building they were staking out. "What's this woman done?"
"She aided and abetted her boss to steal important military secrets from an architectural firm. We managed to retrieve the plans before they both fled here, and have already sent her boss back to our contact in our home police department. They were quite pleased but they want her too."
"All right then," Jim agreed, turning up his hearing so he could scan the building. "It's empty."
"How do you know?" Circuits asked. "We have heat readings." He looked down at his screen, then over at the detective.
"Let's just say that I ...know things that you don't," Jim told them quickly, turning and walking away. "We can go in there and lay a trap for her."
"That's not heroic," Pilon complained. "We believe in giving our fiends an equal chance, Detective."
"Here we believe in capturing them with the least amount of paperwork and with the least amount of casualties." Jim headed down the fire escape and over to the empty warehouse, smiling at the obvious trap on the door. He disarmed it just as the heros got to him and walked inside, pointing at the dressmaker's dummy wearing a few heating pads. "Look familiar?" he asked as he made a slow circuit of the building. He found a few more traps and pointed them out to the strangely silent Energy, then went to where she had left her possessions so he could go through them. "Ah," he said, holding up something. "Women don't leave Victoria's Secret if they don't plan to come back," he said, dangling the bra from a finger. The men looked at him in confusion. "A twenty-nine-dollar piece of underwear?" he suggested lightly. Obviously these men did not date very often if they didn't know how important Victoria's Secret was to women, even evil ones.
"Is that custom?" Pilon asked, taking the bra to look at it. "It's one of the new line," he told his brothers, who all nodded and went back to doing their thing with their instruments.
Jim looked at Pilon. "You're single, aren't you," he said.
Pilon smiled. "How did you know?"
"Just came to me," Jim told him, heading to look through the books scattered on the table.
Daryl smiled as Blair walked into his father's hospital room. "Don't worry, we're not mad at you. Dad woke up raving about costumed people." He patted his father's hand. "I talked to some of my friends and they've heard of these guys."
Simon grunted in displeasure. "It seems they live in Chicago."
"Man, they do more than *live* there. They're local heros. There are people who collect pictures of them online. They even have their own fanclub and a group of villains." Daryl handed over the report he'd drawn up. "Here, this is what we found out."
Blair sat down to read the short summary. "So, they're engineers who wanted to be cops but they couldn't use their skills in the department. Explains a few things." He looked up. "They're very techno. I wonder who Joel sent to deal with them."
"Jim," Simon said smugly.
Blair fell out of his chair laughing.
"Share the joke?" Daryl suggested.
Simon patted his son on the head. "Some day, you'll hear *all* about it. Tell him about the Mountie."
"Oh, yeah. Chicago has a pair of cops, a Mountie and a local detective that are tops out there. They about went insane when they had to deal with these guys. It was rumored," Daryl said, drawing it out, "that the Mountie almost lost it totally and nearly had to be locked away in a little padded room. His partner threatened to shoot them if they didn't leave the crime scene. Now, whenever they see that little pink cape, they go *off*," he shared.
Blair started to snicker again. "I bet." He looked up at Simon. "I really didn't mean to break you, Simon."
"It's all right, Blair. My son is very happy that I listened when the doctors said I needed a vacation."
"Yeah, we're going to go on a *real* vacation this time," Daryl said, patting his father's arm. "No trips to a foreign land where we'll be in danger or anything." He looked at his father. "Maybe we should call Chicago and ask to speak to their guys about the heros."
"No, son," Simon said calmly. "We'll send them a nice report once they're gone." He looked over at Blair. "No word from Jim?"
"Not yet." Blair handed back the summary. "I'll tell him when he shows up tonight though."
"Okay, not something I needed to hear," Daryl said.
"It's not like that," Blair told him. "I'm in protective custody right now because everyone thinks that their psycho will be coming after me."
"She's female, psychotic enough to be a villain's sidekick, and is in this city, Sandburg, she's coming after you." Simon looked at the door. "How did you get here anyway?"
"Brian brought me. He's downstairs getting his allergy prescription refilled." He got comfortable. "You're really okay?"
"I'm fine, Sandburg," Simon said calmly. "In a way, I should thank you. They've put me on medicine to help with my blood pressure and I'm feeling much better now."
"Yeah, you guys *stress* my daddy out," Daryl complained. "What are you doing to him?"
"It's all Ellison's fault," Blair and Simon said together. They smirked at each other.
"Uh-huh, and what would our own version of a superhero have to say about that?" Daryl asked.
"He'd better not be getting any *ideas*," Blair told the young man. "He knows I'd kick his butt if he did." Simon grinned at him. "I would."
"I'm sure it'd be legendary too," Daryl told him. "So, why are the three here for?"
"Some female sidekick," Blair told him. "You'd have to ask Jim for anything more than that."
"I bet it's Doctor Protest's daughter. She's of sidekick age now," Daryl said, considering it.
"Son, why do you know that much about this?" Simon asked, his face showing doubt about his son's sanity.
"While my friends and I chatted last night, a kid from the area that one of us knew was pulled into our group. He gave me the run-down on all the groups. He said that some of the cops even cheer them on when they see the guys working."
Simon groaned as he laid down. "Blair, you're under orders to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen here with Ellison. Now out."
"Yes, Simon," Blair said, standing up and patting each man. "Later, Daryl." He walked out, right into Brian's arms. "Hey, he's fine."
"I heard from the nurses." Brian led the way down to the car, making sure Blair was settled comfortably before getting in. "Did Captain Banks just order us to keep Jim from becoming a costumed hero?"
Blair nodded. "Yup. Not that I'd ever let it happen, but...."
"He'd look hot in spandex," Brian pointed out.
"Which would bring out more evil women," Blair said, after smacking him on the arm. "We don't need more evil women, Brian, we've got plenty."
"Yeah, and you used to date them all," Brian joked. Blair scowled at him. "What?" he asked innocently.
"Not funny," Blair said slowly, making his point. "I don't make them that way, they just turn bad once they're out of my good and positive influence."
"Sure they do," Brian agreed, starting the car. "As soon as you quit screwing them, they go into withdrawal and go bad. We've known that for months now, Blair. There's even a pool in the office about when Sam's going to turn evil and take hostages." He winced as his arm was smacked again. "Ow! You're mean. I'll tell Jim."
"Jim would probably agree," Blair said dryly.
"He did, but his date in the pool has already passed." Brian drove off, not noticing the four men on top of the hospital.
Circuits looked over at Jim. "The good Professor turns women evil?" he asked the detective.
"Only some of them," Jim sighed, shaking his head. He would get Brian for telling Blair about that pool. They were all in for it now.
Jim walked into the bullpen to make a report not much happier than he was the last time he'd been there. At least no one said anything to his face about what he was doing. He turned to look at Henry, who had just leaned over to whisper something to another detective. "Yuck it up," he said coldly. "You can go fill in for me for the next hour."
"That's an excellent idea," Joel said from the office. "Henry, go see if those men need anything. I know Jim stashed them downstairs."
"They're back at their hotel," Jim muttered, walking in and slamming the door after Joel. "I don't want to be doing this, they'll never stop laughing."
"Yes, they will," Joel soothed. "Eventually." He grinned as he looked over Jim's normal attire. "No uniform yet?"
"No," Jim said harshly, standing up straighter and more stiffly. "They're nearly done. They've got her in sight, all they have to do is pounce her, their words, and they'll be gone."
"Relax, Ellison, it was a joke."
"My sense of humor only exists on paper," Jim said, looking down at the sitting man. "And I don't appreciate being laughed at."
"Sorry. So, they're nearly done? What do they need to catch her?"
"Less of a sense of honor," Jim said as he sat down. "They won't ambush her. They want there to be a real fight, so she has a chance of proving herself innocent." Joel snorted. "Yeah. We're presently butting heads. Any word from Blair?"
"A few," Joel admitted. "But more importantly from Daryl." He tossed over the message Daryl had written out for Jim. "Why Chicago has a Mountie on staff I'm not sure, but everything else sounds legitimate."
"They do," Jim said as he read. "It was all over the last convention. He went to Chicago to avenge his father or something and got assigned there, then he butted in and helped." He folded up the paper and put it in his pocket. "How did Daryl find this out?"
"An online friend has a friend in the area, the friend got them together for a chat." Joel leaned back, enjoying the depth of the chair, his chair wasn't this comfortable. "Any new ideas?"
"Just to ambush her for them," Jim admitted. "They really won't do anything dishonorable to catch her, and every way of catching her seems to be dishonorable. It's like they want to send her an invitation."
"So send one," Joel suggested. "Just make sure you have the time and place down for yourselves." Jim nodded. "Anything else?"
"No. I'm going to go visit Blair and Rafe tonight. Should I bring them anything?"
"We don't have a thing for either of them," Joel admitted. "Have fun."
"Thanks." Jim stood up and left, ignoring the young detective humming the Superman theme. Or trying to anyway. "You're flat," he called as he walked past the break room doorway.
Henry Brown cracked up. "See, I told you he'd know that one," he told the young detective, giving him the twenty he had bribed the stupid young man with to hum that song and piss off Ellison.
Blair opened the door of the suite, giving Jim a smile. "Hey. How's the sidekick business?" He led the way into the small sitting area, where dinner was sitting in its cartons. "We ordered for you."
"Thanks, Chief," Jim said as he took off his jacket and sat down. "Now I know why you won't stay in the truck." He took the carton and chopsticks Brian handed him with a nod. "Thanks. They're very honorable. Too honorable to ambush, too honorable to sneak, and too honorable to not give her the upper hand." He lifted out some of the soft noodles with his chopsticks, slurping them up. "I don't see how they manage to capture anybody."
"They fight and win," Blair said with a shrug. "Let them set the meeting and be prepared for anything," he suggested, leaning back into his pile of pillows. "You can handle anything she does do to them and make sure she doesn't get away. That's what a sidekick does when their sentinel or superhero is too stubborn to listen." Rafe snorted but covered it up with a cough.
"Not funny, Chief," Jim said dryly before taking another bite. "Do you know what they're saying at the office?" He glared at Brian, who had started to laugh. "Yeah, yuck it up, I'll make sure everyone knows who told Blair about the pool."
Blair shook his head. "Let's not argue, children. Jim, you know those guys, they'll get it out of their system or you'll beat them in the locker room. That's the way they are. Just try not to be too heroic for a while and it'll all go away again."
"Yeah, right, with you two getting all the hard cases?" Rafe asked. "He can't help it, they'll be all over him after every arrest. Face it, Ellison, you need spandex of your very own. You have for a while now."
"No," Blair said, pointing at his boyfriend with his chopsticks. "If Jim gets spandex costumes, I'd have to get one and I'm not that secure. No spandex body armour. Especially not anatomically correct body armour."
Jim tried to look offended. "I'm not Batman," he muttered, then he stuffed his mouth full of Lo Mein. "You get to make the next bad arrest, Chief."
"That would mean I'd have to be a cop," Blair pointed out patiently. "I think we've had this talk before. Doesn't it usually come out of your mouth though?" He grinned. "It'll be fine. It'll all calm down." He ate some of his own food, looking at the two men. "Simon's been ordered to take a real vacation and Daryl was very happy with that idea. He even said they're not going to go anywhere and get into trouble."
"That's a good idea," Jim said lightly. "I really don't think Simon wants all his vacations to be like the one in Peru. I know he wasn't too happy about being taken hostage by drug runners."
"And I wasn't that happy with jumping out of a plane," Blair reminded him.
"Or the lizard in your pants," Jim said with a smile.
"Lizard?" Brian asked.
"As the good Professor here fell down through the trees, a lizard managed to find it's way into his pants. Sandburg here danced around with one hand down his pants trying to get it out, while telling me he had something down there."
"Hey, you try feeling something moving around down there and not freak. Or have you done that before?"
"Nah, just the ones that like to crawl into sleeping bags with you," Jim said with a smart grin at Brian. "So, want to go camping with us?"
"Is there a cabin?" Rafe asked. Both men shook their heads. "Then I think I'll leave that Jim and Blair time." He smiled at them. "Jim, can you convince Blair that I should be allowed to dress him sometimes?"
"Nope. We made an agreement to stay out of each other's closets after a disastrous laundry incident," Blair told him, patting him on the thigh.
"You wouldn't believe what migrated up to my closet," Jim said with an obviously-faked shudder. "The boy wears a thong, Rafe."
"A tasteful black cotton one," Blair amended.
"The one I got accidentally was leopard print," Jim said, staring at his guide.
"Was not," Blair said calmly. "I don't do animal prints."
"Guys," Rafe said, laying a hand on Blair's thigh. "Men who wear thongs often have more fun in some of the oddest places. Thongs don't bother me. White cotton boxer shorts like our fathers wore bother me."
Blair snickered. "Nope, I don't own a pair of those. Never will if I can help it." He leaned over and gave Brian a kiss. "But I don't do it in public places," he said quietly.
"Not an issue," Brian said quickly. "The only time I make out in public is when it's as private as I can make it. Maybe in a backyard or someplace like that."
"Good. Let's not have a repeat of the Sandburg in the Cascade Formal Gardens incident."
"I'm sure it was probably her fault," Rafe said gently, patting his boyfriend's thigh. "After all, you're a good boy."
"That's right, I am," Blair said, glaring at Jim. "That wasn't my idea, that was hers."
"Doesn't matter, Chief, you nearly got arrested for having sex in the Formal Gardens with tour groups of kids just around the corner."
"Still wasn't my idea. She had my pants undone before I could protest." He licked off his lips. "So, how's it going otherwise?"
"No spikes so far," Jim admitted. "I've been anchoring on the sound of their equipment. They've got some really impressive stuff, I'm surprised that someone in the government hasn't snatched them up yet."
"I doubt they'd work for the military, even if they were kidnaped," Brian pointed out. "None of their stuff is really weapons. Not that I could see anyway."
"Most aren't," Jim agreed. "He's right, that's probably the only thing saving them from going on their back for the military." He finished up his Lo Mein and put the carton down, picking up one with some broccoli in it to grab some of that too. "At least it won't be that long before you're back where you belong, Chief," he said as he nibbled.
"I'm pretty comfortable where I'm at," Blair admitted, with a smile for Brian. "He even helps me grade tests."
"Good. I'll record the grades, you help grade them, and maybe come finals time the apartment won't look like a tornado went through a library." Jim smiled at Brian. "You want to help with that?"
"Sure, I wouldn't mind. Depending on the case load," he amended thoughtfully. "Blair, how do you hold down a full time teaching position, take classes, and work with Jim? You never look sleep deprived."
"This semester all my hours are still diss hours," Blair told him. "No classes to attend since the semester I started working with him. My teaching isn't that bad, I assign a paper or two each semester to each class. That's about four hundred papers a semester to grade including the intro stuff, and tests. I also tend to spread them out."
"Or grade them on stakeouts," Jim added. "Many tests have been graded by flashlight in the truck."
"I still haven't found that one," Blair reminded him. "But I remember he did okay so I gave him a B overall, that's about what he would have gotten if he'd gotten anything other than a perfect score or below a C."
"I bet he was really happy just to accept it," Brian told him, his hand moving on the firm thigh, stroking it gently. "I would have been happy to accept a B in most of my humanities courses."
"You didn't do well in them?" Blair asked.
"They never captured my attention," Brian admitted. "I didn't see the purpose in a few of them and the rest were *boring*." He saw the eyeroll and smiled. "Trust me, Blair, not all teachers are good at teaching."
"Oh, I know. I've had a few of those. That's why someone created the books, which are a ripoff for the most part. There's no way an Intro to Anthro textbook should cost eighty dollars new. No book should cost that much unless it's an antique, on its way to becoming an antique, or it's got all the answers to life in it." Both older men nodded. "Which is why I don't require it for the Intro classes. My moto is 'buy it if you want to keep it'."
"Yeah, I remember sell-back," Brian said semi-fondly. "I once got twelve dollars for a hundred and fifty worth of books."
"You got that much?" Blair asked, looking stunned. "My freshman year, I got ten back for two- fifteen." He was hugged. "Thanks, man. After that, I mostly kept my textbooks, or didn't buy them if I could help it." He looked over at Jim, who shrugged.
"The military bought and kept mine," Jim said. "I never worried about my textbooks."
Blair shook his head. "I was wondering if they kept them or not."
"They gave me mine out of storage," Jim told him. "I got the books from the kids taking the class the semester before me." He shifted. "What are you two going to do tonight?"
"Write a test," Blair said.
"Sleep," Brian put in.
Jim nodded. "Sounds normal to me. Are you two going to do something about the wreck that is currently Sandburg territory?"
"Gee, I thought about taking over your room, since I need the space and all," Blair said, looking serious, "but Brian told me that it would be a bad idea. He said fighting you over the space would probably cause animosity and a raise in my rent, or we would end up driving you insane and then he'd have to take over your duties and he doesn't want that sort of attention."
"Good." Jim smiled at them. "I'd hate to have to maim you."
"You'd break his nose?" Brian suggested.
"No, I'd cut his hair," Jim said as he stood up. "No more backtalk from him for a while." He stretched as they laughed. "I'm going to go back to the loft. Need anything from there?"
"I don't see why we couldn't go back," Blair said, looking over his shoulder at Brian, who shook his head. "No?"
"No, not until this sidekick person is captured. Unfortunately, everyone knows where you live."
"Maybe tomorrow," Jim said, giving them both a fond look as he left them alone.
Brian pulled Blair back into his arms, giving him a hug. "Maybe tomorrow I'll even let you out of here without a lick," he whispered, licking up the side of Blair's neck.
"Maybe tomorrow I won't bite you for it," Blair said, picking up Brian's hand from his stomach so he could suck and nibble on the fingers and palm.
"Bedroom," Brian groaned.
"Okay." Blair got up and tugged his boyfriend with him, leading the way to the too-soft but very big bed. "We're here," he said with a grin. "Now what?"
"Now this," Brian said, pouncing on his lover.
Jim looked down at the woman they'd been tracking, shaking his head. She didn't look too evil, except for her clothes, which were more Cruella DeVille's style than most women liked. He looked over at the heros, then down at her again. "Well?" he suggested, letting them lead on this one.
"We go," Energy said quietly, then he leaped over the edge of the building, firing his rocket booster to come in for a gentle landing. "Freeze," he announced. She turned but his brothers-in- arms were landing behind her. "You have no where to go, Desira. Give yourself up and we'll take you home."
"Home," she laughed. "My father would never let me live this down." She pulled a gun out of her pocket and pointed it at him, giving him a cold smile. "You're not bulletproof," she reminded him. Just then, a heavy weight landed on top of her from off the three story building. "Who are you!" she shrieked. "You're not one of them!"
"No, he's not. He's our temporary sidekick," Circuits said, giving Jim a pleased smile. "You see, we didn't need to ambush her. Cuff her for us please, Detective."
"You brought *cops* with you?" she laughed.
Jim looked down at her, scowling his most frightening, and it made her shut up. "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney," he said as he cuffed her and forced them both to stand. She was pulled from his hands by Pilon, who flashed something in her eyes, making her go limp and quiescent. "What's that?"
"It's an inhibitor," he said gently. "We use them so the villains won't get away once we have them. It wears off in about an hour." He looked around. "Perhaps we should have your truck now?"
"Yeah, I'll go do that," Jim said, rubbing his thigh as he went to go get the truck.
"A most heroic leap," Circuits told Energy. "Do you sense anything about him that might help him in the future?" The other man nodded, giving them a smile. "Should we leave them presents?" That got another smile, a brighter one.
Jim walked Desira into the bullpen, ignoring the detectives, all wearing towels as capes. "Not funny," he ground out, handing her to Henry Brown. "Put her somewhere and reread her her rights." He walked into the office, growling lightly at Joel. "I want them gone now," he announced.
"The other detectives or our friends?" Joel asked, giving him a pleasant smile. "Did you know it was caught by a news crew? Nice jump by the way. I've already called Sandburg and told him to watch the replay at eleven." Jim's growl got louder so Joel stood up and walked around the other side of the desk, out of Jim's grabbing range. "I'll just go tell the Chief that it's over with and they'll be going home soon." He ran out before Jim could get him.
Jim shut the door to the office and pulled the shades, calming down where no one would see it. Or his smile. It wasn't every day that he got to scare someone like Joel.
Jim opened the door to the truck, staring over at his partner, who was coming out of his thoughts. "So, home now?" he asked as he slid in to drive.
"Yeah, Brian's making dinner," Blair said as he slid in and buckled himself up. "Oh, and he said you had big mail. He signed for the packages."
"Thanks." Jim started the truck and backed out, heading for the loft and his long overdue dose of peace and quiet. When he got there, something smelled very good, and there were packages piled on the table. "What's for dinner?" he asked as he hung up his jacket.
"Stew. My mother's recipe." Brian held out a spoon, letting Blair taste. "Good?"
"Needs some herbs," Blair said, grabbing a bottle of dried thyme and dropping a little bit in, letting his boyfriend stir it. "What's in the boxes?" he asked when he noticed Jim unwrapping the first one.
"Give me a minute, Chief." Jim popped the top on the first one and shook his head, holding up the dark gray spandex suit, with light blue stripes down the side, and shook his head. "I'd say they're from your friends," he noted dryly.
"It'll make you look good," Brian told him. "The blue pieces match your eyes. And I bet they'd glow too."
Jim just shook his head and put the outfit away, and picked up the next one. "Brian, this one has your name on it." He handed it over and went to the next one down, opening it quickly. "Oh, hey, a locator setup," he said, holding up the monitor to look it over.
Brian snickered as he pulled out the card and read it. He handed it to Jim, then howled in laughter, pounding his fists on the table.
"What is it?" Blair asked.
Jim tried not to smile, he really did. "Well, Chief, it says it's a deflector. I'm supposed to put it on you, and it will make women stay away from you." He handed over the small pin-sized transmitter to Brian. "I believe this should be your job."
Brian grabbed Blair and put it on his shirt. "Doesn't work on me," he said with a grin. "Tell him the rest, Jim."
"The card says it works on mammary tissue, making only women want to stay at least ten feet from you." He put the card down. "Apparently they've heard of your little problem with women who went bad afterwards."
Blair shook his head and walked back into the kitchen. "I don't do it on purpose," he reminded them as he stirred the stew.
"We know, but it's something that's very handy to have," Brian told him with a bright grin. "Try it out at class on Monday, Blair. Let's see if it works." He looked over at the package Jim was opening now. "What's that?"
Jim opened the box lid, then shut it and shook his head, carrying his stuff up the stairs. "When's dinner?" he called down a few minutes later.
"As soon as you come set the table," Blair called back. "What was in the box?"
"Nothing," Jim grunted as he walked back down the stairs. He set the table and made sure that the subject was dropped by glaring at Blair whenever he brought it up.
On a quiet night, not too long after the three crusaders left, Jim Ellison stood on top of his building's roof, gently fingering his new cape. Maybe this wasn't such a bad idea after all. There was plenty he couldn't do as a cop, but maybe this way he'd manage to clean up the city a little more.
"Jim?" Blair called, and Jim ran away to hide. He wasn't ready to share this part of himself yet.
"I always wanted to be Batman," he whispered against the metal casing he was hiding behind. "Superman had it too easy."
Blair came out onto the roof and looked around, but eventually went back downstairs and shut the door. Leaving Jim alone to contemplate the life of a superhero.