Dedication: To all those that continued to nag me, even when I was having troubles with the sequel. Thanks for reminding me I still had to do it. And as always for my lovely beta Dine, my sissy by deed, and for Bast, who's *there*, ya know. Note (original): I really have nothing against foster homes, or social-workers, it's just part of the story. Please don't yell at me because of that. This was whispered to me by some demented soul during a long car ride. The author, who loved the other 'they get a child' stories, isn't responsible for her muse, or as she calls it, her writing demon, or the contents of what comes out of it's mouth and into her ear. This is not meant to be like other stories about the same events, so please don't yell at me about that. Notes Squared (not part of the original): Since writing this, I've taken a child development class and I know some of the things written in this story are seriously out of whack for children this young. Please don't flame me on this. It was written almost a year and a half ago, and I do know better now but it's going to be too hard to change all the stories to fit what actually happens. Thank you for your patience and belief that Blair's children are seriously advanced.
A Precious Bundle
Jim looked at the bundle in front of him then dialed a number he had known by heart for the last three years.
"Blair, you need to come home. Now, please." Then he hung up the phone to continue staring at the now wiggling bundle.
Blair ran up the stairs to the loft. //Oh, man, ohman,ohman. Jim called me Blair. He sounded like it was *majorly* bad. Good thing I don't have classes this week. What did I do? Did something happen? Is he okay? Why now?!?// He flung open the door, half expecting terrorists to greet him; all that he saw was a very shocked Jim and a box.
"Man, what's wrong? You sounded bad on the phone."
"Blair, would you like to explain this." Jim motioned at the box.
Blair moved to the table and peeked in. //Not a bomb. Not a death threat. Oh...my...God. No it can't be.// Stunned, he moved the blanket aside to get a better look. "Jim...man...I don't know anything about this."
"Well, apparently someone thinks you do." Jim handed him the manila envelope that he had found in the box with Blair's name on it. "Imagine my surprise. I walk out the door to go to work, and I see a box next to the door. I think one of the neighbors must have dropped it, so I pick it up. The box starts to make funny noises. I repeat, would...you...like....to...explain...this."
"Man, I..." Blair is interrupted by the phone. He sat down, opened the envelope, and pulled out the contents. //Let's see. Obligatory letter. Medical records. Birth Certificate. Picture. Oh, man, not her.//
"Yeah, Ellison," Jim answered. He listened to the person on the other end for a moment. "No, Simon. An emergency came up...No he's fine." Pause. "Yeah, we'll be in soon." Long pause. "No, I'll, we'll explain it when we get there in a few hours." Pause. "Okay." Jim hung up and turned his attention back to Blair, who was holding out the contents of the envelope. Jim took the offered materials and started to read, but gave Blair a warning. "You know we have to call someone. Social Services." Jim's face hardened as he read the letter and he kept looking at Blair as if he'd grown three heads.
"No. If she's right and it's..." he picked up the Birth Certificate, "he's... Hold it. This says he's a twin. Fraternal twin. Jim?" Blair looked up at his friend. //He's gonna go ballistic any minute now, I can tell by the look on his face. He's gonna yell at me, then he's going to throw me, us out.//
Jim just stared at the younger man, noticing his not really angry expression. Blair's face looked like he had just been given a gift dissertation to present. "Blair, listen. There are things we have to do here, rules we have to follow. We *have* to call Social Services. It's for the good of both of you."
"No!" Blair got up to pace. "Man, I can't let them put him in an orphanage. Or worse yet, some home where he isn't wanted. If he's my son, I want to take care of him." He stopped to look at Jim. "Look, I understand if you don't want this dumped on you. I know you don't like kids and all. All I ask is you let me stay here long enough to find us a decent place to go."
Jim stopped him by grabbing his arms. "No! Listen..." He pulled Blair closer, almost into a hug. "Let's wait and see what happens before you think about moving out. Okay? You know I don't like kids that much, but I would never throw you out, especially if you get to keep it ... him. I could never do that to you or an innocent, throwing them out on the streets like some piece of garbage. You should know me better than that."
"Yeah, sure." Blair took a deep breath. "Okay, now what."
"Now, we go to the office, with him, and talk to Simon. All right? He'll know what to do." Blair nodded. Jim hoped this wouldn't hurt Blair too bad. If he lost custody he'd die, he had always wanted children, someone to love and get love from, fully and totally. But Jim knew Simon would help him, and Blair's new little family, if things went for the worst. But was Blair keeping the child, and apparently it's twin, the worst thing that could happen?
Blair gathered up the baby and the envelope contents. // I can't loose him. I can't, I can't, I can't...and I won't! I won't let them take him like they did me.// He turned to look at his best friend. "Jim, help me, us, please?"
"Of course I will, Chief. You know I will. I'll help you any way I can. Now let's go see Simon." Jim lifted Blair's chin to make him meet his eyes and get him to calm down. "Okay? Anything you need, I'll try to help you." If Blair only knew how true that was.
"Okay." Blair pulled Jim in for a one armed hug. "Thanks man. For understanding and everything." //I know he doesn't, but at least he's trying. How could he understand about this, and wanting him; about everything that's happened?//
"What did you expect, a tantrum?" Jim smiled at the small joke, then helped Blair get the baby down to the truck.
Once there, they decided to nestle the box on the floor of the passenger side with Blair supporting and cushioning it since the mother didn't leave a car seat. It wouldn't be able to move, and would be safe if they ended up in a car chase on the way in or something. He called Simon to give him a fuzzy forewarning, then they were off. They stopped on the way at a convenience store to get some diapers, juice, and a bottle to hold them over for a while.
After they parked in the Police garage, Jim called upstairs to get the other Detectives out of the way. They managed to get into Simon's office without anyone seeing them come up the stairs. Blair put the box on the table, and Simon walked over to see what all the fuss was about. Just then the baby started to cry.
"What...is this what all this was about? Jim, didn't anyone teach you about protection?" Simon had to make a joke, they both looked so serious. This looked really bad.
Jim held up his hands in the universal 'I surrender' position and took a step back. "Not mine."
"Yes, Simon. He's mine according to everything she sent with him." Blair picked up the baby and held him close. He rooted around in the box while Jim put the bag from the store on the table and opened the juice and bottle package to feed the little guy. "Here, have the envelope." Blair handed it to Simon and took the juice bottle from Jim.
Blair sat and fed his son while Simon and Jim stared at the peaceful expression that came over him. They looked at each other and gave a grim smile, knowing what the other was thinking.
"Point is, Simon, Blair doesn't want to call Social Services about this." Jim got down to the point of the impromptu meeting.
"I don't want..." Blair put down the bottle and laid his son across his shoulder to burp him. "Simon, just leave it at I don't want those people to have him. Or his sister." The baby burped, sending a stream of juice down Blair's shoulder and back. Jim handed him a napkin from beside the coffeepot and held his hands out to take the baby so he could clean himself up.
"He has a sister? How old? Do you know who the mother is?" Simon got back into his Captain persona and started to pace the width of the office, agitated that this problem had fell into the laps of his best friends and best people.
"Yes, he has a sister according to his Birth Certificate." He handed Jim the baby, and took the napkin to wipe his shirt. "Yes, I remember his mother. She was another Teaching Fellow back a few semesters ago. We were good friends until we started dating." He threw the napkin into the trash can and looked up at Simon. "After three weeks, things started to fall apart. We went to a club as a 'last time celebration' sorta thing. We ran into a friend of her's who invited us to a party later on that night. We went, and when we woke up the next morning, naked, neither of us remembered anything about the party, but both of us knew something had happened. We hadn't done anything until that night. She left school at the end of that semester." "Okay, so why no Social workers? They could find her and..."
"Simon, it's .......personal. All right. I am allowed to have my own personal thoughts and secrets, aren't I?!?" //No! Can't tell them.// Blair stormed out of the office, grabbing the baby from Jim's arms, before anyone could stop him or react to his behavior. He took the baby out of the bullpen and down the hall to Joel Taggert's office. //He won't give me crap about this. I know he won't. He'll be supportive, maybe even happy for me. Someone has to be happy for me, I am.// Blair knocked on his door, and walked in when he received an answer. Joel got up to clap him on the back, but then saw what was in his arms and the look on his face, pulled him into a chair instead.
"What's wrong, Sandburg?" He had never seen Blair this upset.
The answer came out in a rushing sob. "I'm apparently a...a...a father. NowSimonandJim wanttocall SocialServices tocomeandtake . . . takethebabyaway. I don'twantto lose myson." //Can't lose him. I will be a father, and I'll keep this baby, and the twin, no matter what. I'll fight or leave or whatever, if I have to. I can't lose him. I don't want him to go through what I did.//
Joel sat down and looked at him for a minute before answering. "Well if they don't call and someone finds out, they, and you, could be in big trouble. Besides, why would they take him away? Why is this worrying you? You're going to be a great parent."
"Man, you have no idea what goes on in some of those places."
"Yeah, I do. First hand." A discrete knock on the door.
"Not now, we're busy!" Joel yelled out.
"Chief, Joel. I need in." Joel looked at Blair, who clutched the baby tighter, then got up to let the other Detective in. Jim closed the door behind him and knelt down to be at eye level with Blair. "Chief, one of our neighbors called them, Simon just got the call. They're on their way down." Jim reached over to stroke the baby's cheek and almost got run over as Blair started to bolt.
//No, no, no, nononooononono. They can't take him away. I won't let them. I've gotta go before they get here.// Blair jumped up from his seat, unaware that he had just pushed his best friend over. Joel and Jim held him still, getting him re-seated after seeing the panic on his face.
"Chief, Blair, listen. I don't know what happened back then, but if you really want to keep him, I'll help." He smiled to calm Blair down again. He moved back into his former position and put a hand on Blair's shoulder, next to the baby; reassuring with touch, the only way he knew how. "Simon agreed to help and I'm sure Joel will too." Joel nodded beside them. "Now, we need to go back to Simon's office and wait for them. Okay?"
Blair nodded, and Jim squeezed him gently. The three of them got up and went back to Simon's office, Jim holding a hand across Blair's back and Joel walking beside like a guard. By the time they got there, a woman was sitting in Simon's office. She was mid-thirties, short hair, average weight, dressed in a conservative pants suit. She nodded to them when they entered and put down the papers she was reading. She showed them her credentials and looked over the group. "Susan Winters, Child Protective Services." She held out a hand, which only Jim shook.
"May I please see him?" She noted the expression on Blair's face. "I just want to check for prior trauma. I'll give him back, I promise." She smiled and Blair, very hesitantly, handed over the baby boy. She checked him over, looking for bruises and broken bones, then handed him back. "Now, I understand that you don't know where the mother is?"
"Yes, ma'am. I also wasn't home when she dropped him off. My roommate found him."
"Yes, that's what your Captain said." She pulled off her glasses and looked directly at Blair. "Let me make one thing clear. I do not happen to like gay couples, but," she went on over the interruption that was starting, "I do *not* discriminate against them as parents. Do we have a clear understanding?" When all the men looked at each other and nodded, she went on. "Now, is your relationship official, or are you 'living together'?"
Blair looked at Jim, who looked back and shrugged slightly, then put an arm around Blair's shoulders. "We're in the process of making it official. We've been planning the ceremony for a couple of months from now. But, we are monogamous to each other," Jim said with a smile down at Blair. 'If this is what it takes... ' was written plainly across his face.
"We are also still in the closet." //Thanks Jim, we'll talk later and I will find some way to thank you for this. You won't regret it, much.//
"That's right," Simon added, "half the women here still chase Sandburg." He looked at Blair, then at the detectives returning to the bullpen. "If you'll excuse me..." He left to go talk to them.
"All right Mr. Sandburg, I see you are listed as the birth father. Hmm, that's interesting." She put down the Birth Certificate and took out her cell phone. She speed dialed a number, then waited until someone picked up. "Hello. Valerie? Yeah, it's me Susan. Do we have a report of an infant girl, eight and a half months, brown and blue?" Pause. "She's a twin. I'm with the father now." Pause. "We'll see. Call you. Bye." She hung up and returned her cellphone to her briefcase. "We have the little girl also it seems. Now where were we..." She interviewed them for over an hour, getting into their home life, careers, hours, and plans. Then they went to the loft to inspect their living conditions.
"Now would you like to explain to me why you sleep in separate rooms," she asked after looking around. She and Blair were seated at the table, while Jim was standing behind Blair's chair. The baby was sleeping on Blair's shoulder.
"You see," Blair quickly put in, "I've been kidnapped and held hostage a few times recently." He stopped to smile at Jim. "And I needed time to deal with it."
"So we decided that we should take a step back in our relationship." A Jim 'trust-me-I'm- adorable-and-perfectly-honest' smile came out to charm her. "For a while." He leaned over and brushed a kiss against Blair's curls.
"Okay, one last question, then I want to speak to your partner privately. Is it me personally or the job, Mr. Sandburg?"
"The job. I've had a bad experience with ...others in your position. That's one of the reasons I would fight to the death for my children not to be in the State's care."
"Your father being the other?"
"Yes, I don't have one. Were you a Psych major in college or just psychic, or is it something else?"
"For quite a while, then I decided I could help people better this way. Now, why don't you go nest your son on your bed." Blair got up and went to his room. He closed the door to give them privacy. Jim sat at the table, across from her.
"Jim. I know you care for him a great deal. It's very evident. But, do you feel ready for the responsibility of this ready-made family? Of caring for these children? Getting up at two a.m., listening to them yell for hours because they don't want to be awake, but can't go to sleep? Putting up with the mess, clutter, and the smells that will invariably come too?"
"I really am not comfortable around children, but I wouldn't take them...this away from Blair for anything." He shrugged. "I could never hurt Blair that way, and he's wanted to be a father so much. This is so important to him, and the mother obviously knew that, or else she wouldn't have left him here. Although why she left the sister someplace else, I don't know." He took a deep breath. "I don't know if I'm ready, but I'll do my best. For all of them."
She nodded. "If you would ask him to come back out..."
"He's asleep too." At her funny look he added, "I can hear him snoring, we're that attuned to each other."
"Okay. I've decided that there is no reason why you two shouldn't have *temporary* custody of both of the infants. I'll bring the paperwork, and hopefully the little girl, over in the next few days." She pulled a sheet and a booklet out of her briefcase. "Here's the names of a few organizations who help with providing essentials, like furniture and clothes, in emergencies and cases like this. This pamphlet was written by a Pediatrician. It give advice on when to call the doctor, or go the Emergency Room. I find a lot of new parents find it helpful." She handed them over and smiled sadly. "Now for the battle. A judge will have to assign official custody. I'll back you, your department will back you. This is a good time for 'the more the merrier' approach to support. Also, we will be doing periodic follow-ups at 30, 90, and 180 days, and one year, and at other times if warranted. I don't see a problem in the future with getting custody. In fact, the only problem I foresee, all else standing still, is a space problem in here; although some sort of barrier between your room and the rest of the apartment would be highly encouraged. You should have some time before you need either, though. Any questions?"
"How difficult will it be for us to get her?"
"Not much. She's on the adoption list as abandoned. If we can prove he's the father, no problem at all." She smiled. "Anything else?"
"I know this must sound strange, but could you recommend a good Pediatrician. I'm worried about something being wrong with him, even though she gave us his medical records."
"Well of course you would want to make sure. That's a natural and, usually correct, instinct in these cases." She dug around in her briefcase. "Here, this is a listing of local Pediatricians. Those highlighted I've found very good. Also, here is my card in case you have any problems. On the back is the name of a counselor who can help you get adjusted to the situation. You would be surprised how much stress a new baby, and in this situation especially, can bring into a solid relationship. Divorce statistics rise sharply in the year after the birth of the first child." She smiled lightly. "Not that this is that situation, but..." She cleared her throat. "Also, I noticed that your Captain has a child by the pictures in his office. You might want to see if you could call him in the middle of the night when they start to drive you nuts, or just to give you some relief."
"I hadn't thought of that. I knew we would probably be going to him for advice, but I had no idea that he would drive us nuts."
"Oh, yes. At least he's not actively teething now, and probably sleeps through the night. Don't worry, you'll do fine. Otherwise, I would be taking him with me." She patted his hand, gave him one last smile, and got up to leave. At the door, she turned around. "Just remember, if it gets too much, you can call on me, or your friends to help." Then she left.
Jim sat at the table and read the material she had given him, deciding to let Blair sleep. This was making him tired, not to mention all the additional strain that it must be putting on Blair. "Let's see. Three highlighted Peds, two organizations in walking distance, and probably by the time this is done we'll have the partridge in a pair tree along with everything else. "I better call Simon, he'll want to know how it went. Then I'll call the school. At least it's between semesters and he doesn't have any classes." He got up to grab the cordless and sat back down, dialing the University. "Hi, is this the Anthro department secretary? Yeah, this is Detective Ellison. No, no, I know he's not there. He's here. There's been a family crisis and he's resting right now." Pause. "Yes, I'll tell him. Can you clear his schedule for the rest of today and probably tomorrow, maybe even the next day?" Long pause while she gets his book and checked. "Oh, he has a meeting day after tomorrow with his diss committee. No, I'm sure he'll be there for that. Anything else he can't miss?" Pause. "Okay, thanks. He'll appreciate it. I'll have him call with the official reason tomorrow for the bosses. No, it's not something I feel good about giving out. This is his thing, and he has to tell you himself." Pause. "No, nothing bad. Yeah, I'll give him the message. Have a nice day and thank you." He hung up. "It always pays to be nice to secretaries because they rule the world. Now for Simon," he told himself as he dialed the station.
"Simon, yeah, it's me." Pause. "No, we have temporary custody until the judge makes it official." Long pause. "No, he's resting with his son." Pause. "Yeah, I can't get over that fact. Sandburg is a father. I'm sure he'll be a good one, but still this is Sandburg we're talking about." Pause and a laugh. "At least he'll wear the little guy out. All that energy is going to have a major sink for now. Speaking of sink, could we..." Pause. "Yes, of course we'll call if we need advice or help. Oh, by the way, do you have a Pediatrician referral? Really? No, she gave us names with a few highlighted, he's one, and the names of places that can help with the equipment end of things." Pause. "Really, do you think she'd let us have it for a while?" Pause. "Yeah. Thanks, I'll call Joan in a minute. Oh, the social worker said we could probably get custody of the little girl also. She said the judge would have to decide, and it would help to have friends, but it was probably going to be okay." Pause. "Of course I knew we could count on you. I expected you to cover for Sandburg earlier if he wanted to make a run for it too." Pause and laugh. "Thanks man. You know he'll appreciate it. Yeah, I'll take it easy. Thanks for the day off. Can I ..." Pause and yelling coming from phone. "Thanks, Simon. You don't know what this means to the both of us. Yeah, we'll be over later tonight. Bye. Hug Darryl for us." He hung up and looked at the French doors, turning his hearing up as he heard the baby start to move around, so he went in and picked him up.
They went back to the living room, where Jim changed his first diaper on the coffee table. He decided they should sit down to watch some t.v. until Blair got up. Half way through Sports Center, Jim turned the baby to look at him. "I don't know what we've gotten ourselves into here, little guy, but we'll get through it somehow. You'll like it here. Your father's a hyper person who can play on your level some days, and I can teach you things and you'll teach both of us things. Especially about patience, which is not my strong suit. So you'll just have to learn to help me and we'll all get along fine. Okay? Just teach your daddy how to make a neater mess." The baby gurgled at him and Jim nodded back and laughed. "Good, I'm glad we came to this understanding." Jim put the baby back in his lap to finish watching the sports scores.
Blair woke up from his nap. //Wow, I only meant to lay next to him to comfort him. How long was I out?// He looked for the clock. //Almost an hour. Hold it where is he? I'm not laying on him, am I? First day as a father and I've already squished my son.// He started to search for a baby sized lump, when Jim yelled out, "He's in here with me." Blair ran his hands through his hair and exhaled slowly. He got up, straightened out his clothes, and went into the living room as a commercial was coming on.
"He was waking up, and I thought you would need the sleep after everything, so we're watching ESPN. He seems to like the golf highlights."
Blair smiled and shook his head. "Golf. Okay." He sat down beside the pair and watched the baby chew on a piece of Jim's shirt. "What did she say?"
"Everything should go okay. It's up to a judge. We should get support from our friends for it. Also, we have referrals to Pediatricians and people who can help with getting baby stuff. Oh, and Simon said Joan kept some of Darryl's baby things. We can call her later, when she's off work."
"Okay. Thanks man. Oh, we've got to find a daycare. I've got meetings with students tomorrow, and I know you need to work."
"Nope, wrong on both counts. Simon gave me tomorrow *and* the next day off. Also, I called the school and talked to your department's secretary. Nice lady. She cleared everything for the next two days except your meeting with your diss committee. I told her you would give an official reason tomorrow. I didn't know what you wanted her told, so I told her it was a family crisis."
Blair smiled over at Jim. "Family crisis? Well, that certainly is an apt euphemism. How long did you tell her for?"
"Just until tomorrow certainly, and possibly the day after. She did tell me that the day after that was a department meeting that you couldn't miss. So, that's the way it works. Simon wants us at his house later. Just him, Darryl, and possibly Joan. He was joking about being a godfather to your ever-increasing brood."
"Oh, come on. There shouldn't be any more. Hell, with all stupid risks I took in high school, I almost thought I was infertile."
"Bet Naomi was glad this didn't happen then."
"Nope, said she wanted to have grandchildren when she was young enough to enjoy playing with them."
"What about now? Will she like this development in your life?"
"Nope, not even close. Told me the last time she was here that she never wanted to be a grandmother. Too bad now. Thanks for reminding me, I have to call her."
Jim cocked his head to the side. "Hold that thought, Chief, visitors." He handed the baby back to Blair, getting up and opened the door as the person was knocking. "Hey, Megan. What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Simon told us about what was going on, but you two left so fast that we couldn't see him. So Rafe and H sent me over to get a picture of the newest member of Major Crimes." She held up an instant camera. She walked in and went over to the couch, where Blair had laid his son out for her to meet. "He's so cute, Sandy. What's his name," she asked as she took a picture.
"Aah, I don't remember. It was on the Birth Certificate, but we left it at the office. Do you remember it, Jim?"
Jim walked back over to the couch and sat back down above the baby's head. Megan grabbed the chair and pulled it closer. He closed his eyes and thought back. "S something, short name too, if I remember correctly."
"Oh, wow. She named her son after two of your best friends. That's cool." Megan blew on the picture to help it develop. When it started to show, she handed it over to the two men. Jim looked at it, then held it out for Blair to see.
Blair looked over at the picture and smiled. "Yup, I have a cute son."
"Of course there's no such thing as an ugly baby, Sandy, but you're right, your son is cute." She moved her leg so Jim could get up.
Jim thought about the next move, then got up to grab the phone. He went into the bathroom, sure that neither of them had seen him since they were gushing over the baby. "Simon, yeah it's me. Do you still have the kid's Birth Certificate there?" Pause. "No, Megan's here and she just asked Blair what his name was, but neither of us remembered it." Long pause. "Really, I wonder how she knew who we were. All right, thanks. Should I make her take more pictures, or not?" Smile and pause. "Okay, bye. Yup eight should be fine. Bye." He walked out of the bathroom and put the phone back in the charger.
"So, what did Simon say?" Blair asked as he returned. At Jim's look, he added, "Come on, Ellison. It was so obvious what you were doing."
"Simon Jacob Jameson. In the letter, she said that she named him after your two best friends. He also said that his sister's name was Aramena Dawn, and that she was on her way over with Rafe and H. Oh, and Megan," he turned to the Australian, "he said to take enough pictures for everyone."
She laughed and picked up the camera, waiting until Blair wiped off the line of drool hanging down. She snapped a few more pictures, then laid them out to dry. They sat and talked for a while, until the other two Detectives got there.
Rafe and Brown came up the stairs carrying a car seat between them. When Jim opened the door, they immediately handed her off.
"You would not believe how heavy these things get after the first flight." Brown said as he walked around Jim and headed for the other baby. "Hello little Simon. How are we today? Are you being good, or are you driving your namesake up the wall already?" He picked Simon up and cuddled him, before turning him over to Rafe.
"Oh, look H., baby slobber. Isn't that so cute? You already know which Uncle you're going to like best don't you?" Rafe held him facing up in his arms. "Yes, you know who Daddy's gonna call in the middle of the night to come watch you while he's on stake out with your Uncle Jim. Yes, that's right." He looked up at the men around him. "At least every once in a while would be okay."
"True. You can count on all of us to *occasionally* baby-sit for you."
"Ha, I would be happy to sit for them anytime." Megan piped up. She just laughed off the dirty looks Rafe and Brown gave her, smiling at Rafe, who was still holding the baby, "It smells like someone needs changed."
"Oh, man, here you go." Rafe quickly handed him back to Blair.
"See that. You guys hand him off just as soon as he's a little messy." Jim placed Aramena on the coffee table, and Megan took pictures of her as well. "What are you guys gonna do when you have one?"
"Then it's different. It's *your* kid who made the mess," H said. They pulled over chairs from the table to talk while Blair went into the bathroom to change him. "Oh, she left a packet at the church where she left her." He handed it over.
Jim looked at it. Same thing as was in little Simon's envelope. He took out the picture of mother and daughter to see if he would recognize her. "Damn, now I know how she knew us. Blair won't like this," he said under his breath. Jim got up and went over to the door to let Joel in.
"Hi, thought I'd drop by, see how he is." He walked into the living room with Jim. "Oh, you got him new clothes and a car seat. Good."
"Actually, Joel," Blair said coming out of the bathroom with Simon in one of his T-shirts, "that's his sister Aramena. This is the little guy you met earlier." Blair handed him over to Joel, who immediately sat down with the precious bundle on his lap.
"Oh, look. He recognizes me from earlier." The baby was gurgling and waving an arm around, barely missing Joel's face.
"Earlier?" Megan, H., and Rafe said at once.
"Yeah, I went to hide from the wrath of Simon in his office."
"Tell the truth, Chief. You threw a fit and stormed out before we could stop you." Jim smiled to take the sting out of the words.
"Well, I couldn't let the Social Services people take him away." Blair started to get that lost and helpless look again. Megan got up to give him a hug. She pulled him back to the couch, where Jim gave him his daughter for the first time.
He looked down at her as she stretched and yawned, her little fingers clasping around her thumb. "Oh, look, she's trying to figure out who I am." Blair gave his daughter a warm-fuzzy smile, then turned it on everyone else, who just went "aaahhhh" in joy at the sight. Megan took a picture of the moment right before Aramena started to scream. Rafe dug around in the bag they brought, trying to find a bottle. H. went looking for her pacifier in his pockets, calling it a "binky". Megan offered to take her, and Joel just smiled at all of them. Jim walked over and stuck his finger in her mouth, shutting her up nicely. Blair looked up at him and arched an eyebrow.
"What? It used to work with my brother." He smiled. "The microwave is broken so, if it needs warmed, you'll have to do it in a pan of water the old fashioned way," he said over his shoulder to Rafe. Rafe found the bottle and went into the kitchen; he searched until he found a pan, then heated the bottle of formula like Jim had said.
Brown handed Jim the pacifier and he removed his finger quickly to stick it in. She looked up at him, then closed her eyes to suckle it.
"Wow, you *do* know something about children, huh, Ellison." Megan said as she moved pillows around so Blair could lay her down. Rafe came back with the bottle, and Jim grabbed the pacifier while Blair tested the milk and gave it to her. She made snuggling in motions and cradled her bottle so she could sleep. Her brother picked that moment to become actively aware of what was going on, and Jim picked him up out of Joel's arms. He shushed him and walked him around the downstairs until he quieted and went back to sleep. He placed Simon beside Aramena on the couch, then sat down.
"Boy, you two are a team in everything aren't you," Megan said. Everybody started to laugh, but were interrupted by the door. Rafe, being nearest, let in one of the neighbors.
"Hi, Mrs. B. How are you today?" Blair called out. She was an elderly lady who lived on the first floor of the building with her three cats and minded everyone's business for them.
"Oh fine, Blair. Is what they said true? Did some loose woman leave her child on your doorstep?"
Blair looked at Jim. He knew she was known for her 'plain talking' as she called it, but right now... "Yes, ma'am. Two of them actually. Would you like to come in and see them?" He motioned her over to the couch.
She came over and peered down at the babies, adjusting her glasses to get a better look. "My, their pretty children. Are they yours?"
"Yes ma'am. Social Services gave me custody also."
"Oh good. It's good to see a man take responsibility for his actions. Well, if you need me for anything, just call."
"Thanks Mrs. B." Blair got up to let her out and turned to find his spot on the couch taken by Brown. He answered the phone on his way over to the couch. "Hello?" Jim looked up at Blair and mouthed the word 'who'. "Hi Simon. Yeah, they're here. Would you like to talk to them?" Pause. "Okay. I'll tell them." He hung up the phone and laid it on the coffee table. "Hey, guys, Simon said that he only gave Jim and me the day off, and that the city really wasn't going to shut down and the bad guys take the day off because I became a father." He smiled at the group. "He also said something about an office party next week to welcome them to the unit, but not unless you three showed up for work in the next half an hour or so."
"Oh, man. Leave it to Simon to spoil our fun. Now we have to go back to making the streets safe just so we can have a party," Rafe said over-dramatically.
"Hey. Now we're making it safe for them, so no slacking off." Jim grinned at his fellow officers as they left. "See you in a few days." Joel left right after them, making sure that they had his home number in case something happened and they needed to talk to him or have him baby-sit.
Jim closed the door, grateful for the silence. "So now what?"
"Well, you said we had a Pediatric reference, so let's call to make an appointment for them. Then you can tell me exactly what the Social-worker said to you while I was asleep."
They spent the afternoon in the doctor's office, who managed to squeeze them in, getting the twins checked and shots updated. Then they went to a restaurant where Blair ran into some of his students that he was supposed to have met with. He explained the situation to them, and they agreed to come in again in a few days and not be mad about it. Afterwards, they headed to one of the churches on the list, where the nice Ladies Auxiliary women gave them some sleepers and bottles to tide them over, and some advice for Blair on dealing with twins. Jim called Joan while Blair was inside the church, seeing if she still had any of Darryl's things from when he was a child. She agreed to let them have it, and said she would bring it over to Simon's house that night. When Blair came back to the truck, and set the bags in the back, he had a list of necessities that the women gave him. They went to the nearest super-discount store and sat in the parking lot, crossing off what Joan said they could have.
When they were in the baby care section, both children sitting in the cart, Blair looked over at Simon, who was trying to get out. "Well, I don't think that we have to worry about walkers. I think they're almost ready to do that on their own. Besides, Dateline said that they cause problems with walking when they were ready."
"Okay, clothes, bottles, training cups soon. Diapers."
"Lots of diapers. One of the women at the church said that hers went through about ten a day."
"Definitely lots of diapers then and an extra trashcan to put them in. Car seat for Simon. Any thing else, Dad?"
Blair grinned. "Dad, hey I like that. Uh, baby gates. One for the stairs. Also some of those things that keep cabinets closed for the kitchen and bathroom." He looked around at the books. "Oh, here's a book on baby-proofing your house. Let's see. Gates and cabinet locks. Plants out of the way. Pencils and pens up. Knickknacks moved. Looks like we'll be okay with the rest. How is the lock on the balcony doors?"
"It's good. They shouldn't be able to get it open, but lets see if they make a gate that wide so we can have them open on occasion still." Jim headed towards the display of gates on an end aisle, while Blair went towards the clothes section with the babies.
"Let's see, would you like teddy bears, or another animal?" He turned to look at them. Simon had maneuvered himself half out of the cart and was grabbing sweat-suits. Aramena was scowling at him. Blair rushed over to save the clothes from Simon and kiss Aramena, who immediately smiled. "So would you like some of those?" He grabbed a few pairs of sweats for each, then moved the cart over to the footed sleepers. "See, good everyday wear that's comfortable enough for you to nap in." He moved the cart to keep Aramena from grabbing a handful of T-shirts. "Now I get it, I should keep you in the center where you can't reach anything, huh." He nodded at them, then looked over at Jim, who was carrying two gates and coming towards them.
"Did you find good ones?"
"Yeah, I asked a mother who was there. She said there's no such thing as a child-proof anything but she showed me the best ones to get. Said it took her son five days to figure it out." He put the gates under the cart.
"Well then it should take about three, since my two are going to work together and are geniuses in the making." He looked at Aramena. "Isn't that right, Mena?"
Jim laughed. "Blair, if you could see the look on your face. Another person has fallen for the Sandburg charm, only this one has wrapped you around her finger in a matter of hours. She's yours all right. Jim looked through the clothes in the cart. "Chief, sweats and sleepers? Come on. These two need clothes that they can roam around in. Jeans and stuff." Jim looked at the clothes displayed, then started to pick out some things that he would wear if he were that age. They were having fun until Jim held up a dress.
"Who's that for, Simon?" Blair gave Jim a *really* dirty look.
"No, for Aramena. For pictures and stuff. I'm sure you'll want to have pictures done for Naomi and your office and Simon," the 'and me' was left unsaid. "So, how about it?"
"Jim, you know I wouldn't want my daughter to grow up thinking Barbie is a good role model. Why can't she wear a cute pants outfit for pictures?" Blair held up the one he was thinking of.
"Blair, bears are not exactly feminine. You don't want your daughter to have a dress, cool. But at least pick out something that looks like girls clothes." Jim grabbed another outfit, this one with blocks.
They were interrupted by a mother who came up and picked out a dress *and* an outfit and handed them to the guys. "Most of my sister's in my women's group have their girls in something like these. Not too frilly or overly feminine, but somewhat girlish." She continued down the aisle, leaving them to stare after her. Blair looked at the outfits, then put his in the cart and put back the one with the blocks. Jim followed suit with the dress.
They headed over to toys, where Blair decided to let them pick out their own stuffed animals. Jim looked up from his scanning of giant building blocks to see Aramena crawling into the pile of bears and Simon heading for the cats.
"Hey, Blair, now is when we need Megan and the camera. Look." He pointed at Aramena, who had fallen asleep with a bear in each arm and laying on a third. Simon let out a yell, and they turned their attention to him. Another kid was trying to take the one he wanted, and he was fighting back. The other kid's parent was trying to get them both to let go but it wasn't working. Jim waded into the fight and grabbed Simon to pick him up.
"No, we're sorry. My son knows he can't have another one until the end of the month. Besides, he's already got too many as is." She handed Simon the animal and received a smile from them both.
Jim turned around to see the shopping cart, but no Blair. "Blair?"
"Oh, was he with you? He looked at the bears, then looked around, then took off. Let me guess, you had another one with you?"
"Yeah, his sister. She must have wandered off." He looked around. "Thanks," he threw over his shoulder, then put Simon in the cart and headed out to find his partner. He found him in the tool section, talking to an employee, who pointed him in the right direction. They tracked her down in shoes, pulling them out and throwing them on the floor. Blair scooped her up.
"Well, it looks like it's too late. She's already got a shoe fetish." Jim laughed and turned to apologize to the department worker, but she laughed it off.
"S'okay. Kids that age don't like order. Tha's all. Don' worry 'bout it." She laughed and tickled Aramena for a minute, then began to clean up her mess. They gratefully went back to the toy section to pick out more for their precious new family.
Jim picked out a stuffed wolf, and Blair picked out a panther, and then they laughed when they saw what the other had picked. They let the kids pick out a few more toys, including Aramena's two bears, then headed for the checkout.
"You know, Chief, we're going to need another belt in the truck." Jim looked at his watch. "Why don't we head to the dealership and see if they won't put one in tonight. Then we'll grab dinner and head home until it's time to go to Simon's." Jim started to unload the cart.
"Sounds good," Blair said as he was pulling the cart away from the candy. "Jim, we've got two kleptos here. I swear we need your cuffs."
"They wouldn't fit, and besides they'll outgrow that stuff." Jim handed over his card to the cashier. "Pizza, Chinese, chicken, what?"
"Chicken or pizza. You can eat one handed and it's not that messy. Besides, they should be getting hungry again soon."
"True. Did we get the cereal the doctor suggested?" Jim looked over the bags.
"Yeah, it's in the second bag." Blair grabbed a candy bar out of Simon' hands, then handed Jim Aramena while he pushed the cart with Simon.
By the time they got home that night they were exhausted. They had set up the new playpen for the kids while they made five trips to the truck for all the stuff they had gotten off Joan. Not to mention the full afternoon of shopping and waiting at the dealership for half an hour. By the time they were done unloading Simon was asleep and Aramena was looking over him, holding one of her bears.
"You know Jim, Aramena is a lot like you." Seeing Jim's I-don't-think-so-look he went on. "I mean her personality. She frowns at people she doesn't know real well, she watches over her brother, and she has this thing for panthers."
Jim looked over at his 'niece'. She had picked up the panther and was turning it around to figure out what it was. When she was satisfied, she put an ear in her mouth and cuddled it against her bear. When her brother made a soft noise, she looked over at him and scowled. "Maybe you're right. Do we leave the rest in bags, set up the crib, get them ready, then head to bed ourselves?"
"Sounds good to me. Where's the baby shampoo and soap?"
"Aaahhhh, in the bag under the stairs. Do we have to bathe them tonight?"
"Yes. Besides it will help calm them down. Why don't you go run the water, and I'll strip Simon. We'll do it together, and it'll take half the time."
"Better idea. I run water. You bathe the kids. I put together the crib."
"Even better." Blair grabbed the sleeping infant, blew a kiss at his daughter and went into the kitchen where Jim was running water.
Blair bathed both of them before Jim had the crib done. He laid them back into the playpen and went to help. By the time they were done it was midnight, and both of the babies were awake and wanting a bottle. Blair got them settled while Jim made the bottles. They agreed to put the crib in the living room, along the back of the kitchen island for tonight.
When they finally got to their own rooms, Blair fell into bed and right asleep, but Jim began imprinting the sounds of the two new heartbeats where he kept Blair's.
"I know this was the right thing, but I don't think either of us thought this through. I hope this doesn't turn out bad, for them or Blair." Jim drifted off to sleep on the sound of three converging heartbeats.
The next day, Jim drove Blair's car over to the school. It had been in the shop getting a tune up, so Blair had driven the truck and taken the twins with him so they could play in his office. "Thank God he finally got rid of the Volvo. Maybe this Subaru won't break down as often." He looked in the mirror and noticed he was speaking out loud. "I've got to stop doing that." He got there and found a parking place, then went to wait in Blair's office. He found the secretary gossiping with some students about the babies, but stopped when she saw him.
"You were right, it was a family crisis. Is he keeping them?" She stared at Jim until he answered.
"Yeah. We spent most of yesterday morning with Social Services, getting custody. How's his meeting going?"
"Oh, fine. His advisor was here when he came in with them. They're upstairs now."
"I'm going to wait in his office."
Jim walked down the hall and used his key to get into the office. He sat down in the desk chair, then jumped when a knock came at the door.
"Detective?" The secretary leaned around the door.
"Hi. Come on in."
She came in and shut the door. "I'd thought I'd warn you. The department Chair is none too happy about this." She was keeping her voice down so no one in another office could hear. "As a matter of fact, he had me connect him to the Dean right after having a 'word' with Blair. I thought you might like to know."
"Yeah, I did, thank you. Does Blair know this?" She shook her head. "Thank you so much. I'll make sure he knows about it, but it didn't come from you." She smiled and he returned it, and she left. "Oh, well," he sighed, "I knew something bad was going to happen soon. This is probably only the tip of the iceberg. I'll call Simon later and see if he knows someone who knows someone who can help him." Jim looked over the desk. "Oh, how cute, he took one of Megan's pictures of each of them and stuck them in a frame." He shrugged. So why was he afraid? Was he afraid that Blair would leave him? "Well, maybe a little," he muttered. He continued his search of the desk while he thought about it. He *needed* Blair. Not only with his senses. He needed Blair in his life; he wanted Blair in his life. "Hey what's this?" Jim picked up a folder that had test results with his name on it. "Oh, yeah. The DNA sequencing I let him do." He flipped forward. "If I'm reading this right... oh, okay. Whose is this?" Jim held them up together. "Too many similarities. The coroner, when I asked him to teach me to read one, said less than fifty percent should be common outside of family. I know he didn't do one of Stephen so whose is this? I'll ask him in a minute." He could hear them coming down the hall so he carefully put the results back in the folder and back into the same position on the desk so Blair wouldn't be any more upset over his snooping..
Blair walked into his office and smiled at Jim. "Hey man, been waiting long?"
"No. What's wrong?"
"Your heart rate is sky rocketing. What happened?" Jim got up and took one of the squirming youngsters from him. Blair sat down in the chair and Jim pulled up another one.
"I just had a run in with someone on my diss board. That's all," Blair snapped. "He doesn't like the idea of single parents, especially not single fathers so he gave me a hard time. Okay?"
Jim reached across and closed the door fully. "No, not all. It was brought to my attention that your department Chair called the Dean earlier after talking to you. Do we need to do something about this?"
"No, Jim. Just leave it alone. Please." Blair sounded tired.
Jim knew he wouldn't, they couldn't treat *his* Guide like this, but it wasn't something Blair had to know about. "Of course I will, if that's what you want."
Blair looked at him, judging his sincerity. //I'm sure you will, but what about your friends.// "Thanks Jim. Now lets go to the station or somewhere else." Blair got up and started to put Simon in his jacket.
Jim stood up and snagged Aramena's jacket and got her into it without a fuss. She seemed to like it when Jim did these things for her. She looked up at him and smiled. He smiled back. "Are we almost ready to go in the car again? Yes, lets go take Uncle Simon to lunch. Yes." Jim enjoyed talking to her, she seemed to respond well to it.
"Momma." She said.
Jim stopped everything. Blair looked over at them. "Did you just call him Mom, Mena?"
"Momma," she said again and reached up to grab Jim's collar.
Blair started to laugh. Jim smiled back down at him and Simon, who was scowling at his sister.
"Me," he said.
Blair looked down at him. "Well, it looks like either we underestimated their development or they just said their first words." He looked over at Jim. "Mom."
Jim growled at him, but laughed at Aramena who was trying to twist around and play with his ear. "That's one thing I never thought of myself as."
"But you do it so well." They both laughed and left the office after Blair packed his backpack. But Jim did notice that he took that file with him.
At lunch, Uncle Simon fed Simon and Jim fed Aramena while Blair ate desert. They laughed over Jim being Mom and Simon made sure to cuddle little Simon more since he was scowling so hard. Simon went back to the station and the guys went back to the loft, but not before Jim told Simon about what happened at Rainier, well out of Blair's hearing.
Jim stood in Blair's room, looking at the clutter. "I think if we're going to turn this into an all- three-of-your's room, then we're going to have to get you organized." He shrugged and started to make mental notes. "Besides, we won't be able to fit the crib *and* your bed in here with room for you to move."
"Yeah, Jim, listen. I didn't mean to snap at you earlier. I was stressed real bad and I'm sorry."
"For what. Venting? Not a problem. Isn't that what friends are for?"
Blair smiled and they sat at the table to draw out what was needed to reorganize Blair's room. They decided to turn a closet in the hall into the dresser for the twins and Blair needed bookshelves, maybe even another one in the living room. Jim thought up the idea about turning the area under the stairs into a bookshelf and storage area, and they agreed to sleep on it.
Blair went into his room and started to sort things into boxes. //Books I need right away. Ones I need for occasional reference. Articles I need to sort better. Jim's shirt. Hold it, Jim's shirt. How did this get in here. It must be from the last stake out.// He smelled it. //(sigh) It smells like him. If he only knew what it felt like when Mena called him Mom. He might kick us out, but it was so special, so much what I want. I want him to help me parent them. I want...I want....I don't know what I want. I know I love him, but am I in love with him? Do I want to crawl into his bed to be held? Do I want the lies we told the social worker to be truths? What do I want? Then this test comes back. Hmm. Maybe it's time to find a way to test the twins.// He got a notebook out, and made a note before throwing it into a pile.
Jim stood at the door to Blair's room, listening to Blair pack. He heard Blair sniffing something. He smelled ... a shirt. 'He's sniffing my shirt?' Jim walked away and quietly left Blair to his thoughts.
Back at the super-department store, they looked for shelves and book shelf units, plans in hand. They got some help from one of the workers who figured out how best to do it, then got the already built shelves and were told where to go for the raw lumber for the closet shelves. He was even nice enough to figure out exactly what they needed and what size.
They paid for it, then went to the lumber store, then home. The twins went back in the playpen, and they re-arranged Blair's room first. Moving furniture, then adding shelves, then deciding that the crib would fit better right where it was now, or over beside the phone. Jim moved the crib, while Blair unpacked, then they started on the closet.
"So, Chief, anything new on the diss since we're working here?"
"No, but I think we need to test the twins. Mena seems to protect her brother, but he hates it. Maybe one's a Guide."
"What about that DNA thing you had done? Get it back yet?"
"Jim, were you going through my desk?"
"No, it was sitting right on top..."
Blair threw his hammer down. "That's it. I've had enough for the day! First it's assholes that I work with, now you go through my desk. I thought I could trust you." Blair stormed over, grabbed the kids, then left the loft.
Jim stood there in shock. "What was that about?" He listened as Blair's Subaru pulled away, then sat down on the floor. "Way to go. That's it, give him a worse day than he's already had. Why can't I control this need to always look over his shoulder. I mean, it's not part of the Blessed Protector thing, 'cause he's not in danger. So why do I constantly check up on him. Am I that insecure that I fear what he might find? Why can't I do this right for a change?!?"
Blair pulled into Simon's driveway, who upon coming outside and seeing Blair with the kids and no Jim, not to mention the tears on his face, ushered him inside where he could help.
Jim was still sitting on the floor when Simon called to say that Blair was all right and so were the twins.
"Should I ..." He didn't like Simon's answer of 'Give it some time' but he was going to have to take it. For now. "Call me when he leaves, or whenever you think I should be there." He hung up the phone, and looked at it. He had almost lost Blair because he was pushy. He sat back down on the floor, resting against the back of the partition with the kitchen. He stared at a spot in the paint until he almost zoned. He shook himself out of it, and decided to finish the project they had started.
He was fitting in the last two shelves, when someone touched his arm. //Blair smell, Blair rhythms.// He turned around to look at his roommate. "Hi."
"Hi. Simon's baby-sitting. He said we need to talk."
"Yeah. He's right. Look, I'm sorry about earlier. I shouldn't have gone through the things on your desk without asking. And..."
"Jim. No biggie. That wasn't why I was mad. I was scared and feeling hurt and...and...and lost and I lashed out at you. I'm the one who should be apologizing, not you." Blair started to cry.
Jim pulled him closer. "Shhh, come here. I would never hurt you. At least on purpose." He smiled down at Blair. Blair needed him right now, needed him to be strong. "I know it's a lot to get used to. It is to me, and I'm not even their father." Jim pulled him into the living room and sat him on the couch, sitting across from him. "You suddenly have two people who depend on you for their well-being. It's scary. Even if you're there when they're born and you're expecting them." A small smile from Blair. "I want to help you with this, them. I want us to be a family together. Like I said the yesterday, I will do anything to help you through this. I meant it. Every word. Okay?"
Blair nodded, then reached out for a hug and received it. "I shouldn't have left like that. I always have thought of you as family, now I want to make it official." He pulled back to look into Jim's eyes. "If that social worker or the judge want us to be...together... I can do that." He smiled. "You have no idea what it felt like when you said we were monogamous to each other. " He smiled before Jim could interrupt. "I... most of this... emotional thing that's been happening is because of the kids, but there's something else too. You won't want to hear this, but I do love you. Not as a brother or friend. I'm not sure if it's the lover type of love either, though." He was stopped by a kiss.
Jim couldn't believe it. Here was Blair, telling him he loved him. He heard the rest, and decided to process it later. He kissed Blair. A soft, chaste kiss on the lips. The one he had wanted to give earlier over lunch; or earlier when he was called Mom by Mena, and Blair had laughed.
"Jim, I don't know if I can do this." //Yes, I can, but not until I figure some things out.//
"Don't worry. I love you too. And I'm in love with you. I'll wait while you figure it out. I'll stand beside you through this. *I* *won't* *leave*. Do you understand?"
Blair could only nod. //How does he know what I worry about? I should figure that out. Someday. Now I want to do that kiss thing again with him.// "Yeah. I understand it here," points to his head, "but here," points to his heart, " may take some time to get used to the idea."
Jim hugged him again. "Chief, we have to talk."
//I knew it. His fear of children is going to make this difficult.// "What? I mean I know you don't like kids, and I think it's great and all that you're helping me, but if you want....I could.... I could...could still move out. Imeanthatisifyoudon'twanttodealwith middleofthenightcriesand feeedingsandchangingsandbabyslobberwhentheychewonthings."
"Whoa, Chief, slow it down, take a breath. I know I'm uncomfortable around kids, but as for the rest of it, it's okay. I may have my frustrated moments when they break things or drool on the suit I have to wear to court, but we can deal with those things easily. No, we need to talk about something else. Chief, Simon and I recognized the mother in the picture."
"Huh? How? I don't think I ever introduced her to either of you. Well unless you saw her around campus." A strange look crossed Blair's face and he got up to pace. "Recognized how?"
"You remember Amber, right?"
"Yes, Jim. Get on with the story." //This is not sounding good.//
"Before she left, she gave us the name of a contact on campus about the other's who were... making money the same way."
"Please tell me she was the contact. I mean, I know students come to her with their personal problems and things, but..." //No, he can't mean...//
"No, Chief... Blair she wasn't. When you were gone, Simon and I talked about it. We decided that I should tell you."
"Please tell me you're not saying she was a. .... ..."
"Yeah, I am. I'm sorry. I know this must hurt like hell, but..."
"Oh, man. No! We...she would have told me. We were close friends. We shared with each other."
"Yes, but your other best friend is a cop, maybe she thought it would get back to me."
"Maybe." //No, she couldn't have been a prostitute. He's got to be wrong about this.//
"That's not the point here, Chief. The point that was brought to my attention was the parentage issue."
Blair stood in front of the couch and mouthed the words 'parentage issue' until it sunk in. "No. If she says their mine, then they are."
"How do you know you can trust her? I mean, she left them, and separated them."
"Because she left him with me, and she left things about Aramena in the note."
"No, Jim, listen. Even if they aren't mine, they're mine. All right?" Blair needed him to understand, but he could see it wasn't getting through.
"I can understand you wanting to be a father so much, but ..."
"No buts. No tests. No nothing. They are *mine* because she said they were and because I can feel it. And for no other reasons. They ... are... mine." //No. They *are* mine. They are, I can feel it. I won't let those people hurt them.//
"Okay. I understand." Maybe. "So, now what?"
"Well fortunately the diaper bag was in the car from earlier, so Simon's set for a while."
"Good, then lets talk without interruptions."
"Okay. About what?"
"How about the DNA thing. I can read it some, but not totally. And the person who taught me to read it, said that matching like that is possible only in families."
"Not quite. You can also match like that if you have a genetic predisposition that's the same."
"Did you find another Sentinel, besides Alex, or is that her test?"
"Neither. It's mine. I had an independent lab verify the results. The genetic marker that makes you a Sentinel makes me a Guide. Apparently it's in magnitude or latency that makes it different. If you had kept snooping, then you would have found the conclusions page." He smiled slightly at Jim.
"Okay, our genetics are so similar because we have the same condition that makes us special." Jim stopped to think for a moment. "Is this a way to test? Or is this what makes you my Guide?"
"Don't know, Big Guy. I would have to test others, then have it compared with ours, but I do want to test the kids." He sat back down on the couch, facing Jim.
"You think Mena might have it?"
"Or they both might."
"Okay." Jim nodded his head around while he thought about it. Out of the corner of his eye, he caught the Panther. "Blair, could you help me go under. I see her."
"My panther. She's staring at me. It's like she wants me to come see her."
"Okay. Assume the position on the floor." Jim did. "Start your relaxation and breathing exercises. Good. Now let your spirit follow your breath."
Jim stopped hearing his Guide when the jungle formed around him. He turned around, searching for which way he was to go. He found a path, and went down it. At the end, he found the temple, and Incacha waiting for him, sitting on the remains of a wall.
"What's wrong," Jim asked him.
"It is good that you allow yourself to follow your Guide. It is the right path, but you must know that there is more here." He waved his hands around. "More to all of this." Incacha stood up. "Soon you will know the rest of the path."
"The twins, our love, or something else?"
"All of them and none of them. You must come home." With that, he morphed back into the panther and left the temple. Jim sat there and thought. The temple started to change around him to some place else. Some place whole, but it still looked like a temple of some kind. When he looked around, he saw a bird, yellow rings on it's beak looking down at him, and something that looked like a teddy bear hiding in a shadow. He relaxed back onto the stone wall and went back to himself.
When he came out, Blair was looking at him. "That was the most direct he's ever been. He said we, or I, must come home."
"Home, to Peru or another home where the temple is?"
"I have the feeling it's Peru." Jim got back onto the couch. "That was strange. It was the easiest I've ever gotten there, then he was direct."
"That is scary. Do we pack up the kids and go?"
"Maybe. I don't know if that's what we should do, but we have to wait until after we obtain custody."
"Man, you don't know how much it means to me to hear you say that."
"We obtain custody."
"Oh, well of course. I wouldn't leave them if I had too. Mena's grown on me some." He looked at Blair out of the corner of his eyes, pouting slightly.
"I knew it! I knew you would get along well the first time she smiled up at you. She even scowls like you."
"That's another thing. Incacha said it had 'everything and nothing' to do with the twins, and us, so I guess that they should come. If it's something I need to do alone, you can stay in the Chopek village with them."
"Sure. Whatever you need, you know that."
Jim gives him a lusty look from the corner of his eye. "Does that mean I can kiss you again?"
Slight pause. "Yeah, I guess so. If you want."
"I want but I want you to know that you have complete control over where this heads."
"Thanks, Jim, that means a lot."
Jim leaned over and placed his lips against Blair's. He held them apart, barely, for a moment, then gave in and their lips touched.
Jim walked into the bullpen, carrying a bag. He couldn't believe that the twin's birthday was already here, that they had been at the loft for a little over three months. He hung up his jacket and threw the bag on his desk before leaning into Simon's office around the door.
"Simon, I'm back, and I'll have that paperwork for you before I leave."
"Okay, Jim. Don't worry about it. But, do come in." He waited until Jim came in and shut the door. "How did the preliminary with the judge go?"
"He decided he likes us. Said the twins looked good and healthy; but he said he wouldn't give a final judgment until the mother was found and until we were married." Jim shrugged and sat down. "He said he doesn't like unmarried couples raising kids."
Simon laughed, sourly, and leaned back in his chair. "So, then you're going to go through with it?"
"Yeah. We have to now." Jim got up and started to pace. "Blair was not happy with him when we left."
"Would you be?" Simon leaned forward and laid his chin on his steepled fingers. "I mean having to marry someone you don't love is bad enough, but to do it like this...I just hope Darryl never has to go through something like this."
"Me too." Jim sat back down and leaned closer to Simon. "I don't know what I want, Simon. I mean, it's like they're my kids now, but can I marry Blair even though I know he doesn't love me like that?" Jim didn't want Simon to know that he thought he did love Blair like that, it would only cause problems. "He might grow to love me, in time, but this is very sudden."
"It's putting Blair in a bad place at Rainier." Simon grabbed the phone as it rang, and listened to the other end. "Un-huh. He'll be there in a few minutes, Sir." Simon hung up and looked over at Jim. "That was our," he cleared his throat, "esteemed Police Commissioner. He would like to see you for a few minutes."
Jim sighed and got up. "Okay, I'll go. By the way, about my taking some leave..." He had told Simon about needing to go to Peru for a few weeks.
"I couldn't get it approved until the end of next month. Sorry, Jim."
"That's okay. I'm sure it'll be fine." Jim left the office and walked out of the bullpen to the elevators.
He got on and pushed the top button. When he got off, the secretary waved him into the office. He knocked and went in.
"Detective Elision, come in. Please, have a seat."
Jim sat and looked at the man while he signed his name to some form one last time. //What now?//
"Detective, I notice you requested a lot of leave time. May I ask what for?" He leaned back in his chair.
"The village that I was staying in when I got lost in the jungle has asked for my presence." //This is a good one. I'm glad I had Blair come up with a reason he'll believe.// "They said they need me to come down for a week or so."
"Yes, I saw the reason that you put on the form. I also had someone check into your background." He sighed. "I don't want to sound nosy, but is it really necessary for you to go? Now?" He waved his arms around. "You see, we have this manpower shortage going right now, and in all truthfulness, we can't afford to have you, one of our best, brightest, and most *noticed* detectives, gone for three weeks."
"I know that, Sir, but I wouldn't have asked if I didn't need to go." He had forgotten about the shortage of officers. Jim looked at the floor, considering the other available options.
"Could you make it a shorter trip?"
"Well, it takes two days to get to Peru by plane. Because of the schedules." He looked up at the Commissioner and then back at the floor. "Then we have at least two days travel to the village." He stopped to think. "I might be able to cut it down to two weeks, but I couldn't cut it down any more than that."
"That would be helpful. I know you have almost two months of leave saved up, but this is a bad time to take any for us." He reached over and grabbed a folder. He pulled a paper out, read it and made a correction, then signed. "Here. I've approved you for two weeks. We can give it to you at the end of next month, if that's okay?" He looked at Jim
"Yes, Sir, thank you."
"Now, for the other reason. Have you been having any trouble with the other officers?"
"Trouble?" Jim didn't have any idea what he was talking about.
"What with your upcoming nuptials, and all."
"Ooohhh, that. No, Sir. Captain Banks has kept everything smooth. Blair, Professor Sandburg had a problem last week, but they didn't want to say anything around me, so they ran when I came closer."
"Good, good. When is the event anyway?"
"About nine weeks after we come back, with the new dates for my leave." Jim smiled. "We're having it in Captain Bank's back yard."
"Good. Let me know if you have any problems with the others. We *do* care about our gay officers and them being protected from harassment. We don't want anything ... unseemly happening." He smiled at Jim, a big Politicians smile.
Jim smiled back. //So, that's what this is really about. He wants to make sure that one of his best detective, who is now openly gay, isn't going to file a suit against the department for harassment.// "No, Sir, nothing like that would happen around me."
The Commissioner leaned across his desk, handed Jim the file and shook his hand. "Are you sure we can't get you into the running for Police Officer of the Year again, Detective? We're sure you would win hands down again after this last year."
Jim took the file, shook his hand, and got up. "No, Sir. I would really rather that you didn't. After all, it might look bad." //Not to mention how badly it screwed up my life last time.// He left the office and headed back down to Simon's office.
"Simon, here, he gave me this for you." Jim handed him the folder. Simon opened it and put it down. Jim closed the door and sat down.
"So, what was that about?"
"He wanted to make sure that Blair and I weren't having any troubles with the other officers." Jim smiled.
Simon laughed. "Like they would dare to come near you. I think you've scared everyone around here into leaving you alone." Simon leaned back. "Either that, or they respect your arrest record too much to say anything. Anything else?"
"He talked me down to two weeks, and wanted me to consent to be in the running for Officer of the Year again."
"Turned him down?" Jim nodded. "Good, I remember all the problems your winning it caused us last time." He settled back into his paperwork and Jim left.
################## Jim pulled up outside of the daycare center at Rainier and parked on the sidewalk, not caring about the people he sent running. He ran to the door, flashed his badge at the officer guarding the door, then went inside to find Blair. "Chief, are you okay? Where are the kids?" Blair looked from the couch he was sitting on and started to get up. The paramedic pushed him back down, so Jim squatted in front of him. "Tell me what happened."
"I came to pick them up for lunch. I walked in and they pointed the gun at me. I moved inside like they said and grabbed the kids when they ran towards me. One of the guys waved a gun at Mena and one of the assistants tackled him. I got the kids away and went for the other guy before he could react. We got them down and tied up, then one of the two year-olds picked up one of the guns." Blair took a deep breath and winced. "He didn't know what he was playing with, and I walked over to him, calmly, to get the gun from him. He panicked and accidentally pulled the trigger." //Stay calm. Don't want Jim to over-react. Too late.//
"He's all right, Detective. It's just a graze on his side." The paramedic pulled away the bandage to show him, then taped it into place. He pulled down Blair's shirt and stood up. "He should be fine. It doesn't look like he needs the hospital, unless he wants to go."
"No, I'm fine, really." Blair tried to stand up, but Jim pushed him back down. "Jim, I'm fine, man. Don't worry so much." //Like he can do that. My Blessed Protector, feeling guilty, and ready to tell me off.//
"Worry? Worry! You took on two terrorists waving guns at children practically by yourself and you're telling me not to worry. What would have happened if that kid would have not missed? Or if the second terrorist had shot at you and the assistant that took down the other one? Or worse yet, shot one of the kids? Did you think about that?" Jim's voice had gotten louder and more hysterical as he went on.
Blair tried to calm him by placing a hand on his shoulder, but it didn't work. "Jim, I didn't plan on stopping it. It happened on the spur of the moment. I didn't think..."
"No, you didn't think. You are not an action hero on some t.v. program. Bullets don't bounce off of you!"
"Detective." The head of the daycare came over to them. "Please calm down. It happened so fast, and Mr. Sandburg just acted. It was something that he probably couldn't have prevented himself from doing."
Jim turned to her, scowling with a look on his face that usually sent criminals crying and running. "That's the point, though, he didn't think."
"Detective, you'll have to do better than that. Your daughter has a fiercer expression. Besides, Mr. Sandburg came in just as he was trying to figure out which child to shoot. He saved us all, even if his actions were a bit extreme. Please calm yourself, we've just barely gotten the children calm." She walked away to check on a crying woman in a corner.
Jim turned back to Blair, who hastily erased his smile. "We'll talk about this later."
"Of course we will." Blair patted his shoulder and used it to push himself up. "Where to now?" //Can't let him see me smile about that. She's *so* bad.//
"Home. At least for you."
"I haven't given my statement yet, Jim. It'll have to wait."
"Fine." Jim got up and looked down on him, then pushed him back onto the couch. "Now, where are Mena and Simon?"
"They're outside with Rafe and H." Blair tried to get up again, but was stopped by Jim. "They said they'd keep an eye on them for a while," he smile up at Jim, "until you stopped yelling." //Go see them and hug them. I know what you want, just do it.// He wished he could say that out loud, but they had agreed to try and keep their personal life away from the office, either of them.
Jim grunted and patted the curly head in front of him, letting his fingers linger to feel the life beneath them. "I'm going to..."
"Go, I'm fine. So are they, but you want to make sure, so go." Blair waved him away and turned to look at the little boy who crawled up on the couch beside him. "Hello." The little boy laid his head on Blair's shoulder, so he patted him while Jim went off to find the twins.
Jim walked back outside and looked around for his kids. When he couldn't see them, he turned up his hearing and tracked them by sound. He found the two Detectives at a snack machine inside the nearest building, letting them decide on which type of candy they wanted. Jim walked over and took Mena away from Rafe and hugged her.
"Hey..." Rafe tried to pull her back before realizing it was Jim. Then he just let go.
"Daddy." The eighteen month old Mena squirmed and wiggled to get him to loosen up.
"Me too," Simon called from H's arms. Jim let Mena down and hugged Simon, making sure it was for an equal amount of time. Mena clung to his pants leg and watched to make sure her brother didn't get a longer hug than she did.
"Are you two all right?" Jim asked when he put Simon down.
"Yes, Daddy," said in unison. Mena pulled on his pants leg and he looked down.
"Daddy ... awright?"
"Yes, Mena, he's fine." He brushed his fingers lightly across the top of her hair.
"Good. No boo-boos." Mena shook her head to make her point and Simon agreed with her. Mena stuck her thumb in her mouth and leaned into Jim's leg. "Home?"
"Yes, Mena, we can go home as soon as your Daddy Blair's done talking with the officers."
Simon went back to the machine and looked meaningfully from Rafe to the machine and back. Rafe and H got them their requested candy and they all headed back to the daycare center, Simon carried by H, Mena carried by Jim, and Rafe carrying the assorted animals that had come along for the ride. The twins were asleep by the time they got inside.
"Oh, boy is Blair going to be happy about this." Jim walked into the loft, whistling happy and saw one of his favorite sights, Blair reading to the kids. He walked over and kissed all three, letting Blair rub his cheek.
They had become closer over the past months, now sleeping together and cuddling. They talked more, and took their friends up on offers to sit with the kids to get time alone. Neither felt the need to go farther and consummate their relationship, so they left it the way it was: easy and free. Mena and Simon had moved into Blair's old room and were sharing a small bunk bed set. It wasn't bad, but it was going to get better.
"Good day today?" Blair smiled up at Jim. //Two more weeks until we're in Peru. Too bad they had to push the leave back another two months. Then whatever happens, happens.//
"Better yet, good news." He looked down at the twins. Mena was paying attention to him and Simon was playing with the book. "Guys, could I talk to your father alone for a few minutes?" The twins got off Blair and went into their room.
"So, are you going to tell me?" Blair scooted to one end of the couch and let Jim sit down facing him.
"Well, I was given a choice today. You know how I've been looking at options for us?" Blair nodded. "I've found two." Jim smiled and waited, teasing Blair.
"So, give already." //I hate it when he teases like this, it's so cruel.// "What options?"
"I found out that the loft next door is going up for sale, for one thing." He stopped and let Blair think that over. "And, you remember that nice Officer with the brood that's transferring to Seattle to be closer to her ex-husband for the kids? She's trying to selling her house."
"Wow. That's so.... so... much." Blair shifted, then got up to pace. //The loft next door is the same size, but we could knock down a wall and connect them. Then again the house is out in the country and biiiiggg. Six bedrooms if I remember right. But it's so far away. That would mean a twenty minute longer commute for both of us. Hold on, what does he want? I mean this is his loft. Always has been. Would he want to move out into the country? Does he want to move?// "Jim, what do you want?"
"I'm not sure yet, but I wanted to talk to you first before I even thought about anything." He sighed and waited until Blair came back over and cuddled next to him. "I really feel that I could go with either option. I love the loft, but it is getting too small for us."
"True." Blair rubbed his face against Jim's shoulder. "But with the house, what about the commute? And the cost and trouble of renovating the loft? I mean could you stand that for weeks on end?"
"No, but I do have a solution. She doesn't really want to sell, but feels she has to. I talked to her, and asked her if she would be willing to rent to us. She said yes." He grabbed a curl to play with. "She said she could do that, but only for a while. We could lease the loft out, and rent that place, using the rent from here to cover the rent there. Then we could decide if we want to buy the house or not."
"That sounds complicated." Blair sat and thought, letting Jim play with his hair, something he liked for him to do. "We could do that. With the housing situation around here so depressed, we could afford to buy the house out there, or the loft next door, and that would give us a chance to see if we could stand living out there." Blair stopped for a minute and snapped his fingers. "Oh, yeah, I have some news too, but not good. They found her."
"Their mother, her?" Jim looked shocked. He had put out a report on her, but didn't really expect anything back. "Where?"
"Vancouver. She died not three months after leaving the kids." Blair sighed and moved closer to Jim, seeking comfort. "I got a call today from her lawyer; and a message from an old Army commander of yours. Both at school."
"I'm sorry about her. I know she was your friend." Inside, though, Jim was dancing and singing. The twins were like his own kids now. He wouldn't have been able to give them back to her even if a judge insisted. "What did he want?"
"She. A Captain Morgansty or something like that. Said she was one of your old commanders and needed to get in touch with you. Said Simon gave her my number."
"Never heard of her; and their weren't any women in command back then so I would have recognized her name. Did she leave a number?"
"Yeah, it's in my backpack. Do we need to go look at the house?"
"No, not until we get back. She's not moving for another two months. Said she hasn't gotten an offer yet, so she said she would wait for us. The loft next door isn't going on the market for four months either, so we have time." He hugged Blair, then got up to search in Blair's backpack for the number. He found it and grabbed the cordless phone before going upstairs for some privacy.
"Hello, this is Jim Ellison. I would like to..." Pause. "Yes, I'll hold." Minute wait. "Hello, Captain... Sorry, Ma'am." Pause. "Hello, Captain. Yes, this is Jim Ellison. You needed to speak to me?" Pause. "No, Ma'am, I can't do that. I have a planned leave coming up in two weeks, I'm going to Peru." Pause. "No, I can't take time off from work here to come. We're having a manpower shortage." Pause. "Yes, that would be fine. Tuesday is good. At the station." Pause. "Anytime is probably okay. I can arrange to do paperwork until you get there. Is this something we can discuss over the phone?" Pause. "Good, to be truthful, I really don't want to work for the Government anymore." Pause. "Are you sure? Well, that's good news, if a little odd and out of the blue. Really, I never knew about that. Thank you, Ma'am. Good-bye." He turned off the phone and sat for a minute absorbing the news before going back downstairs.
"Chief, you won't believe this, but she was a lawyer." He leaned against the back of the couch on his elbows, and kissed Blair's head through his hair. "She said that they were doing an audit from my old Ranger company and found that they hadn't processed any of my discharge paperwork. Something about filing me wrong. She said I was still *officially* in the service, and that they have to discharge me now. She's coming Tuesday to work out the details and go over the paperwork."
"That's good that they found out. Did she say anything else?"
"Yeah, that they have to pay me for that time, since I was listed as 'Active Duty' and that I needed to sign hefty amounts of paperwork."
"Man, that'll be a paycheck you'll never forget." Blair laughed and grabbed Jim's head to bring him down for a kiss.
Jim broke the kiss, and said, "Well, they'll probably want to have some sort of settlement so they don't have to pay me that much, but still, think of what we can do with it." Jim straightened up. "I've got to call Simon." Jim called and told him the news, and even Blair could hear the whoop that Simon let out.
Tuesday came, and Jim found himself sitting around waiting for her. When she finally came, Jim commandeered Simon's office and showed her inside.
"Captain Ellison. It's a pleasure to meet you after all I've read about you." She sat at the table and he sat across from her. "Now, lets get down to business, shall we?" She pulled out a couple of thick folders and Jim groaned. "I would have thought that you would be used to paperwork by now, Captain."
"I'm only a Detective here. I don't usually do this many forms in a month."
"At least these are almost completely filled out. Mostly it just needs signatures. Now a few questions to verify your identity. Serial number?" Jim rattled it off. "Social Security number?" He rattled that one off. "Rank and command?" He told her and leaned on the table, getting comfortable. She handed him a pen and the first set of papers.
"This is a waver of rights to sue us for this mistake."
Jim flipped through the papers and came upon something he wasn't expecting. "It says here that I won't sue on the basis of discrimination?"
"Yes, well, I've been checking up on you, and happened onto the report about the children in your care, so looked up the judgment papers." She shrugged and Jim sighed and put down the papers.
"Is that going to be a problem here? My orientation?" Jim had long ago come to the conclusion that he was gay as far, and only as far, as Blair was concerned. He didn't want this to blow up because he was gay, or bi, or whatever. He just wanted to put those years behind him and move on with his life. His life with Blair, Mena, and Simon.
"No." She took a pause and pulled out a bottle of tea from her bag. "Because of our current policy, we have to put that in there. You see, another person sued us over his discharge a few years ago because he was gay, and so given a general discharge. This is purely a case of c.y.a.. We don't want you to sue us, thinking that we left you there because of your orientation." She took a drink and laid the bottle down. "It's purely a formality."
"Okay. Maybe I should..."
"I could wait until your lawyer gets here, or a union lawyer, no problem." She leaned back and Jim went out to talk to Simon, who made a call.
Soon a union lawyer was there to interpret the paperwork, and Jim signed what he was told and listened to the man. He let the lawyer read over the waver and listened to his interpretation, then thought about it, and signed all the forms. She sighed and reached into her bag for an envelope.
"Here you go, Captain, I mean Detective Ellison." She handed it to him. "Inside is your retirement forms and the first check from your back pay."
Jim opened the envelope, ignoring the lawyer leaning over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of the check. "Why is it so much?"
"Because, they never took you off Active Duty as a Ranger. Your pay was accumulated, with increases, and interest was applied." Jim showed her the check and she whistled and did a quick mental calculation. "You should get another five like that." She gathered the papers up, and stuffed them back into her bag. "Now, if we missed something, can I reach you here?"
"Yes, but not in the next few weeks. I'm taking my mate to Peru, to the Chopek village I lived in. We'll be gone for two weeks, starting Saturday. If you need to leave a message, just leave it with my Captain. He's taking care of my loft and things while I'm gone."
She nodded and made a note, then she shook Jim's hand and left with the union lawyer in tow. Jim just sat there looking at the paperwork, and the check, until Simon came in.
"Yeah, they signed me out with early retirement benefits, and I'm getting back pay with interest for those years." Jim handed over the check and papers to Simon.
Simon looked at the check and whistled. He handed it back and glanced over the papers, then sat down. "So, what are you going to do with all this money?"
"It's the first check. Or so she said."
"How many more?"
"She thinks five. I was thinking of College funds for the twins and hyping my retirement accounts after paying off bills. The rest ... I don't know."
Simon patted him on the back and smiled slyly. "You know, if you ever need someone to spend it on..." They both laughed. Blair bounced in and Jim showed him.
"Wow! That's more than my student loans. So, what are you going to do with it?"
"Pay bills, college funds for the twins, hype the retirement accounts." Jim showed him the retirement forms.
"So, that means another check each month, right?" He handed them back.
"Yeah. A small one, but yeah." Jim was still in shock. He hadn't even dreamed about this much money.
"Earth to Jim." Simon patted his shoulder. "Why don't I escort you to the bank to make sure you get there okay?" Jim nodded and they left the office.
. (to be continued... in The Joining)