Blair shoved the door closed behind him, not caring that it slammed. Jim looked up from reading the paper on the couch and cocked an eyebrow up. "Bad day at school, Junior?"
"Ha, Ha, very funny, man." He walked to his room, kicking open the door and tossing the books inside. He came out, grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge and went to join his roommate on the couch. "You would not believe the day I've had." He took a swallow and leaned his head back, letting the cool liquid soothe his sore throat, hoarse from teaching all day.
Jim calmly folded the paper and laid it on the coffeetable. "So, what happened today?"
Blair rolled his head over to look at Jim. Jim smiled encouragingly. Blair shook his head, letting it roll around on the couch. Jim reached behind his head and massaged the stiff muscles in the back of his neck. "That's great. Thanks." He flopped his head forward, wanting more.
Jim chuckled and turned him around, shifting him so he had clear and easy access to the stiff neck. He pushed the rampant curls out of the way and rubbed his hands together, warming them, before starting back. Blair moaned and Jim smiled, applying more pressure. "You're one big knot. What happened Chief?"
"Stupid football players happened."
Jim cuffed the back of his head lightly, just barely ruffling the hair. "Hey, I resemble that remark."
Blair giggled and turned around, giving the older man a hug. "Thanks. I needed the laugh." He gave an extra squeeze and pulled back. "And no, you don't. Man, these stupid kids came to class high. They tripped into the room, knocking themselves and other, good, students around. Then, when I was passing out the test from two weeks ago, right before spring break mind you, they started to shout about how they had missed the test 'last week'." Jim started to laugh. "I ended up calling security to remove them so I could start class." Jim doubled over laughing. "Then, then I got a visit from the coach. He who had terrorized a teacher last month into giving the whole class a retest because one of his studs hadn't passed. Of course the rest of the classes average was around ninety, but hey, they're *jocks*!" He waved his arms around, making silly, waving hand gestures. "This guy comes into my office, looms over me and expects me to be intimidated." He laughed. "Oh, it was so pitiful. I didn't even look up at him. I just told him my partner was a bigger, scarier, anger filled, overprotective cop. He blanched and left quietly with a copy of the syllabus. He then went over my head, to the Chair, and complained to him. He called me and I told him that test was given before break, and they had to be removed that day. I sent letters to them, and to the coach and the Chair, telling them to arrange a makeup. Then I told the coach to piss-test them. He spluttered and the Chair hung up, laughing."
Jim fell off the couch, rolling around on the floor, laughing. "Oh, Chief, that is so good." He was helped back up onto the cushions and hugged the younger man to his side. "Oh, that was priceless. Are you in trouble with the Chair?"
Blair shook his head. "Nah. He's got a copy of the letter, as did the coach if he ever opened his mail. The only thing they might do is make me give them a retest." He shrugged. "And I wrote that over break."
Jim patted his arm. "Come on," he stood up pulling Blair with him. "This calls for a celebration. My treat." Blair bounced off the couch, jogging into his room to grab something, then met Jim at the door. "Ready?" Blair nodded and they left.
They were sitting at a nice table at their favorite Chinese place, sharing food when Jim remembered the letter delivered to the station. "Chief, there was a letter sent to the station for you."
"From who," he mumbled around the spicy noodles.
Jim handed him a napkin. "I don't know. A courier dropped it off. Simon has it."
Blair quickly swallowed. "Do you think it's at the office or would he have it with him?" Jim shrugged and Blair pulled out his cell phone. Jim laid a hand over his, and he put it away. "You're right. After dinner."
They spent the rest of dinner talking about cases and camping and plans for the summer.
Blair actually made it to the truck before calling Simon. "Hey, man. Jim said you have a letter for me?" Pause. "It's from a lawyer? Man was it like bad news thick or good news thin?" Long Pause, some shouting. "No, I didn't expect you to weigh it. Can I come and get it or is it in the office?" Pause. "An hour or so? Maybe?" Short pause. "Oh, come on man, I'll die of suspense by tomorrow morning." Short pause. "Thanks man. An hour or so. Yup, it'll be quick. Bye."
"Bye Simon," Jim yelled.
Simon threw the letter to Blair through the almost open door, the sounds of a woman laughing in the background coming out clearly. Jim smiled and pulled Blair away, waving their thanks and their silence, and got him into the truck.
Blair tore open the envelope, a thin one, and tried to read it in the passing streetlights. Jim reached up, turning on the overhead light, so his partner could read. He looked over at the first stoplight when Blair hadn't moved. "Blair, what's wrong?"
Blair didn't move, didn't speak.
Jim tried to take the paper, but it was grasped firmly, he was not letting it go. "Blair let me see." Blair still didn't move or let it go. Jim ended up pulling off the road to the corner and prying his fingers from the paper. He read it and sighed. "Blair, do you know this person?"
A mute shake of the head.
"Blair, come on, buddy, come back to me now. It's time to rejoin reality here." He shook him, and Blair turned to look at him. "So, should we go home and call your mom?" He nodded, prompting Blair to do the same.
They drove home in silence. When they pulled up, Blair didn't wait for the truck to stop before hopping out and running up the stairs. Jim calmly parked and slowly walked up the stairs, wanting to give him some privacy.
"I don't care where she is. *GET HER*!" he was screaming into the phone.
A man in a flowered sarong handed the phone over to the bikini wearing Naomi. "He's more than pissed. He screamed at me. I thought you taught him anger management."
She smiled sadly. "I did, but he's been hanging with cops and military types. They've just undid all my good work with him." She sighed and took the phone. "Yes, sweetie."
#DON'T SWEETIE ME! I GOT A LETTER FROM SOME LAWYER ABOUT MY FATHER TODAY. WOULD YOU CARE TO EXPLAIN THIS?#
Naomi swallowed and looked down at the floor, tracing soothing and calming figures into the natural wood floors. "Now, Blair, don't get so upset. I'm not sur.........." She was cut off by a yell her friends heard across the room.
#NOT SURE! HOW CAN *YOU* BE NOT SURE! HIS *LAWYER* WAS DAMN WELL SURE!#
"Now, Blair sweetie, calm down. I'm not going to respond to yelling." She rolled her eyes at her friends. "I'm sure you're overreacting." She swallowed. "So who was this mystery person?"
Blair waved a hand around and Jim handed him the paper. He had dialed down his hearing on the landing outside the door, having heard the yelling from the front door of the building, with his hearing at normal.
Blair took it and looked over the paper, searching for a name. "Bill... Pershings." He took a deep calming breath. "Now, are you sure there's nothing you would like to tell me now?" His voice dripped icy sweetness.
#Sweetie, I don't remember a man by that name, but that period of time was very crazy for me. He might have been there. Somewhere.#
"Mother, I know you're lying. I can tell by that accent coming back, you know the one you tried so hard to get rid off. Now let's try the truth." He started to pace. "This minute would be good," he added when she didn't answer.
#Blair, I don't know what to tell you. I don't know that name. Now, you can trust your mother, or you can trust some lawyer. Which is it?#
"Right now, you don't want to ask that," he hissed and hung up, throwing the phone at the windows.
"If you break it, you buy the next one," Jim said from behind him. Blair spun around and was handed a glass of soda. "And before you ask, you don't need a beer." He walked over to the couch and sat down, waiting on the younger man to calm down enough to come over and talk.
He watched Blair pace around the loft, listened to him drink the cold liquid, trying to calm down enough to talk. He got up and grabbed the phone when it started to ring. "Naomi?"
#Jim, is my son there?#
"Well, he's physically here, but I think mentally he's someplace else. Let me see if he's calm enough to talk to you." He held out the phone to Blair, who walked past him, shaking his head. "Sorry, he's not ready yet. So, is this guy even a contender? I mean, Blair got the letter a little while ago and all. He just froze."
#Jim, what did it say? Did it specifically state he was the heir?#
Jim walked over to the paper laying in the floor. He picked it up and reread it. "Yeah, it says he's the only choice for son and they need to meet to discuss his inheritance." Jim read further. "I know this guy. He owns a nice bookstore near here."
He could hear the gulp over the phone. #Book store?#
"Yeah. It's got a good selection and I've bought some books there and some for Blair there too. Nice place, friendly, very decent coffee." He could hear the curses from the other end. "I take it you remember him now?"
Blair held out his hand for the phone, and Jim held up a finger.
#Jim, is my son there now?# He handed it over willingly. #Son, I'm sorry, I should have told you, but he promised not to contact you.#
"So then he is my father. Why didn't you tell me this? Why the big secret all these years?"
#Son, he's not, wasn't, in a nice business. He used to work for the government. He didn't want you used against him. We both agreed it would be better if he never knew you.#
"Mother. That is *such* a load of shit. Now, I would like the truth. Preferably post-haste." He sat on the stairs and folded in on himself.
#Son, he was a spy, well more of an information carrier he said. I didn't know until I told him I was carrying you. When I found out, I made him promise not to drag you down with him, and to not contact you.#
Blair took a deep breath. "Okay, so my father was a spy." He smiled up at the beer-spitting, shocked, roommate. "So, now that he's dead, I can meet him? Why not earlier, say maybe when he retired?"
#He tried and we moved again.#
"That's so not an answer mother. Just think what all these lies are doing to your karma." He smiled nastily. "Now, as they say, the truth shall set you free."
#Sweetie, it was complicated at the time. I didn't want you hurt and he didn't want you hurt. Neither one of us wanted anyone to know you existed so you couldn't be used against him in his line of work. Neither one of us wanted you to know what he did. So, we agreed that you shouldn't know anything. That he wouldn't contact you while I lived or while he lived.# Her sigh was audible. #So, I guess that's all I can tell you, unless you want to know how we met or how you were conceived.#
"Mom, there are some things that son's don't need to know. Conception facts are one of them." He pushed the button, hanging up the phone. "Well, he's it." He handed the phone over and let Jim hang it up. "Naomi said he was a spy."
Jim nodded. "I remember hearing about him."
Blair looked interested. "Really? Was he one of the good guys?"
"Definitely. His last mission was to get some guys out of Grenada that shouldn't have been there. During the mission, he not only saved them, but an orphanage, from the guerrillas. He was almost legendary." Jim smiled at him. "You know, you don't look a thing like him." Blair raised an eyebrow. "Well, he was blonde, around my height, and built like an action figure. You must take after Naomi's side of the family tree."
Blair smiled, then burst out laughing. "Oh, man, thanks, I needed that." He calmed down, getting up and giving Jim a hug. "You're a great best friend, man. Don't ever change."
"Who, me? Like that's ever going to happen. You know I'm resistant to change." Blair burst out laughing and went to his room.
Blair knocked on Jack Kelso's door, putting his head around. "Busy?" He was waved in.
"Can we finish this after class?" Jack asked his student. She nodded and left them alone. "Blair, what can I do for you?"
Blair sat down and handed the letter from the lawyer over. He waited while Jack read over it.
"Yeah, and?" At Blair's shocked look he smiled and went on. "We all knew about you, not who you were but that you existed, and we all knew he moved to Cascade to be closer and watch over you. None of us knew more than that, though." Blair was still sitting there with his mouth open. "Let me guess, you mother never told you?"
Blair nodded and took the paper back. "So, what was he like?" He swallowed. "My father. Jim told me something, but..."
"He was out of the game, mostly, by the time Jim got into it. But he was legendary. Mostly for getting himself into things that no one would ever expect to happen." He laughed. "He had the mission profilers learning whole new sets of skills just to keep up with his exploits. He was a lot like you in that way."
Blair smiled and snapped his fingers. "I knew that didn't come from Naomi." His smile got bigger. "So, how bad was he?"
Jack looked at the clock on his computer. "Blair, I don't have time to go into even part of one of his exploits, much less more of them. Can I meet you for lunch? Someplace private and quietish?"
Blair thought. "Well, Jim and I were going to meet at the new place over on 12th. You could come with us."
Jack checked his schedule. "Not a problem. I'll see you there in a little over an hour."
Blair checked his watch. "Yeah, I have a class in half an hour, lasting for an hour, so I'll meet you and Jim there. He's probably forgotten my off-timed class." He stood up. "See ya at lunch and thanks." He got a smile and left.
Jack turned on his wordprocessor, typing an entry into his diary.
//Today, one of the teachers here, Blair, was found to be //the son of one of America's best and most unusual agents. //I'm glad he found his father, but this will put him in a //whole new category of life. Hope he's ready.//
Jim closed the door behind them. They had talked for hours with Jack, or rather Blair had, he had had to go back to work. The younger man was worn out, as good as asleep once he hit a stable flat surface. Jim steered him to the couch and sat him down, pushing him slightly to make him lie down. Blair mumbled something and did as he should, immediately falling asleep. Jim smiled, ruffling the curls tenderly on the way to his room.
Blair woke to a delicious smell being waved under his nose. He opened an eye, looking at the plate Jim was holding. He sat up, yawning, and grabbed it, tearing into the food. Jim laughed but he was hungry.
Jim sat down beside him and watched him eat. "Better?" Blair nodded, his mouth full. "Good. Did you call that lawyer today to make an appointment to see him?" Blair shook his head and Jim sighed. "You know you have to. Putting it off won't help anything."
Blair swallowed. "I know, but I'm not ready for that yet." Jim nodded and turned on the tv. "Aren't you eating?"
"I did, two hours ago. I kept yours warm. It's okay, right? Not too dry?" Blair nodded, his mouth full again. "I'm glad. You were worn out."
"Yeah, it's been a tiring day." He yawned again and put the empty plate on the coffeetable. "I'll take into the kitchen in a minute, don't frown." Jim rolled his eyes and went back to watching his cop show.
Blair stretched and yawned again. He laid his head on the back of the couch and looked at Jim. "Are you all right with this? I mean all of this?"
Jim turned to him, bringing an ankle up under him. "Blair, I'm not the one who just found out who his father is or what he was. I'm happy that you found out and all, and I understand that you're emotionally exhausted, but this really doesn't have anything to do with me. It's not my family." He reached over, patting his shoulder. "That said, if you want to talk, I'll listen."
Blair nodded. "Thanks. I know this must be driving you nuts, all the lawyers and the stories and the yelling, and well me falling asleep on the couch and all. It'll be over soon and we'll get back to our version of a normal life soon." He smiled. "Now, *normal* for us would be strange for others, but it's still normal for us." He turned some more, getting comfortable. "From what Jack said, I'm just like him. Except for looks. He ran off a picture for me from his computer. Apparently he knew my father personally. He told me some absolutely wild stories about him. Did you know that he once dressed in drag to get across the Berlin borders? He smuggled a defector's child across that way, getting the man his only family." He hit Jim on the chest with his waving hand, immediately stopping and rubbing the now sore spot. "Are you all right? I didn't hurt you did I?"
Jim shook his head, not able to answer around the lump in his throat. He grabbed Blair's hand before he could remove it. "Thanks, it's fine." He rubbed the bones on the back. "I know you didn't mean to do it."
Blair didn't try to pull his hand back, but he did know they needed to talk. "Jim, we need..." Jim's finger over his lips stopped him.
"We'll talk eventually. Just know that this is special and we're not going to do anything soon. Okay?" Blair nodded and he released the captive hand, going up to his bedroom.
Blair sat on the couch for a while, looking at his hand to see if it had changed. He eventually got up, dirty plate forgotten, and went to his room.
Jim looked at the scene around him and was very glad Blair wasn't with him today. "Sir, I'll show Blair the nicer pictures if that's okay." Simon just nodded, struck dumb by the amount of bodies in front of him.
Earlier in the day, a kid playing in the dirt under this park had dug up a finger, and started to scream, bringing not only his mother, but a cop. The cop had called in homicide, who sent a detective and a forensic team. That homicide detective was now over in the bushes wishing he hadn't had chili for lunch.
Erosion from all the recent rain had worn some of the loose soil from the bodies. The finger had soon become a body, that became two, that became ten, and now Jim and Simon didn't know how many there were.
That child, now protectively far away from the scene, had found a body dump.
Jim looked around the mass grave and sighed. There were at least two dozen bodies here, and some of them were quite old looking. This was going to be a nightmare. A nightmare of pressure, both personal and political, and of computer work to find out who all these people were and why someone thought they deserved to die.
He looked over the body they were removing and recognized it. "Hold it," he stopped the coroner's people. He looked closely at the body, seeing it clearly as a picture he had seen just last week. "Simon, come here," he yelled.
Simon came over and started to swear. "Yeah, it looks like him, doesn't it." He shook his head and turned to Dan Wolfe. "That looks like our missing councilman's son from last week." The man nodded and waved the people away. "Jim, can you tell if anyone else we would recognize is in there?" Jim gave him a dirty look. "I know you don't want to look, but we're going have to some time." He put his arm on Jim's while he looked at the body pile.
Jim focused his sight, searching the faces, blatantly ignoring the other parts, looking for more of them that had come in memos. "Sir, I see at least two more. The Jenkin's girl and the McAlester son from almost a month ago." He shook himself, bringing himself from the edge of a zone. "That's all I can get without getting lost." Simon nodded and made a note on his pad. "I'm going to go... go see Blair."
"Tell him about the case, please. We may need some of his special knowledge on this." Jim just nodded and headed back toward his truck, bypassing the reporters and spectators.
Blair was walking out with his last student of his last class of the day when Jim came up to him. "Hey, Jim, I'll be done in a minute. I just need to go get her a paper." They both followed him up to his office, and waited patiently while he looked around for it. He handed it off and she left, bright smile and copious thanks thrown over her shoulder.
Blair sat down in his chair and waved at the other free one. Jim didn't move. "Jim, don't zone. The door's open and you wouldn't want anyone to find out," he said quietly. Jim nodded, but didn't sit down. "Do I need to call Simon and find out what all this is about?" He shook his head. "Then sit and tell me."
"Can't," was the quiet answer.
"Was the scene that bad?" Jim nodded. "Dead body?"
"Multiple," Jim whispered and sat down on the floor where he had been standing. He put his head in his hands and rubbed his eyes with his palms. "I can't stop seeing them. It was horrible." His voice didn't get above a whisper.
Blair got up and shut the door, pulling down the blind over the patterned glass. He came and sat in front of Jim, taking one of his hands, and smiled. "Was it that bad?" Jim nodded, but didn't pull his hand back. "Do you want to tell me about it?" Jim shook his head. "That bad?"
"It was a body dump," he started quietly. "There were at least three of them that had come across as missing person's memos. At least twenty bodies." He took a deep breath and made a protesting sound when Blair dropped his hand. "Don't leave me."
"I'm not. I'm just lighting some incense, the stuff you like, so you can focus on the scent and get the scene out of your head." Jim waited patiently while Blair lit it and sat it down next to them. Blair sat back down, falling into an almost lotus, and grabbed the hand again. "All right, I want you to turn up your sense of smell, focus on me and the incense. Okay?" Jim nodded and closed his eyes, doing what he was told. Blair lowered his voice to a whisper, "Jim, I want you to go back to that calm place, the one we constructed, and sit under the tree. I want you to picture yourself walking toward it, letting each sense go as you get closer, just leaving your sense of smell. When you sit under the tree, I want the breeze to smell of the incense, picture it moving the grass and the leaves." He took a deep breath and waited until Jim was there and his pulse, which he could feel through his thumb, was slower. "Good, now I want you to inhale the wind, take a deep breath of the breeze and let it out." Jim did as he was told. "Good, now take a few more, each one expelling a thought of the scene."
They worked until Jim was totally calm and ready to come back. Then Blair stoked his cheek, bringing him back slowly by his touch. "Back now?"
Jim kissed his forehead and stood up. "Yeah, thanks." He held out a hand, pulling Blair up. "Aren't you supposed to be going to the lawyer's today?"
The younger man nodded and brushed off his pants. "Yeah, and I'm not really looking forward to doing it either."
Jim pulled out his cell phone, dialing Simon's. "Simon, Jim. Can I go to the lawyer's with Blair if I promise to stay tonight and get some of the paperwork done on today's scene?" There was a pause. "Okay, thanks." He turned it off and put it back into his jacket pocket. "The first paperwork won't be ready to do until tonight. Let's go."
Blair checked his watch, then Jim's when his wasn't on his wrist. "We still have an hour or so." "Good, you probably need to eat lunch."
Blair smiled and grabbed his jacket. "Actually Jack took me to lunch, but I wouldn't mind a snack. Can we stop at that chain fake-French place that has the croissants with stuff in it?"
Jim checked his watch. "Yeah, just so long as you don't stand there for more than ten minutes deciding what you want this time."
Blair locked the door behind them, "Man, that is so cold. They just had some good looking stuff that day." He followed Jim out, stopping briefly to have a word with the department secretary on the way out.
Blair sat back in the comfortable leather chair and looked around nervously. His father had left him everything, well almost. He had left his lover with partial ownership of the store and a house, with the instructions that he treat Blair like his own son.
Jim took Blair's hand and rubbed it until he looked at him. "You okay?"
"Yeah." He ran his free hand through his curls. "Yeah, this is just... such a shock. First I find I have a father, then I find out he owned stuff and now it's mine. This is just a bit much, that's all." He wiggled around for a few seconds then settled himself back down. "This is just such... it's too much."
The lawyer chuckled. "Well, your father was an unusual man, to say the least. But by all indications his bookstore is quite profitable and his lover has helped him run it for a number of years, so it'll not be too hard to slip into it." He shuffled some papers. "I understand you're a graduate student?"
Blair nodded. "In Anthropology. My diss is all but done and handed in."
"Yes, your father, Bill, told me a few months ago that he had heard you were almost done." He handed over a sealed envelope. "He wanted you to have this letter. He said it would explain a few things, including your mother not telling you." He shrugged. "Bill was a good man, and I'm sorry to lose him, so I'm sure he had his reasons."
"Yeah, that's what my mom said." He turned the thick envelope over and over. "Um, is there anything I have to do today? I mean besides sign papers or whatever?"
The lawyer shook his head. "No, you don't need to sign anything until after the probate. There's nobody to contest so it's a formality, but it's the way these things go." He grabbed a group of papers out by the corner, handing them over. "This is a copy of his will and you can take it to your own attorney if you would like or I can deal with the probate for you also."
Blair took it and looked it over. "How much is it going to cost me to have you deal with it?" He didn't look up.
"Nothing. Your father had prepaid me for it, with instructions to use that money to pay someone else if you felt more comfortable with them."
Blair thought it over, looking silently over at Jim to see what he thought. His partner just shrugged, so he smiled at the older man. "Okay. You can handle it." He pulled one of his cards out of his wallet and handed it over. "Here's both my work numbers and my cell phone if you need to get in touch with me." The man clipped it to the will and rearranged the file. "How soon?"
"We have a date next week. I took the liberty of filing while waiting for you to contact me." He smiled kindly. "Your father was a nice, good and gentle man. You're a lot like him. I'll be happy to help you with whatever you need. I also handle the law needs of the store."
Blair nodded and stood up, shaking his hand. "Oh, I'm sure we'll be talking. Once I figure all this out." He smiled, slightly. "I've never owned more than a computer, some clothes and a car before. All this is *way* more than I expected. I'll call you next week before the date."
The elder man handed over one of his cards, letting Jim take it, before looking through his appointment book. "The date is next Friday at three in front of Judge Williams. Is that okay?"
Jim nodded and Blair closed his eyes and thought. "I've got a department meeting, but I should be able to get out of it for this."
The lawyer made a note and smiled up at them. "Good, I'll be waiting for your call. And remember, if you need anything before then I'm almost always here."
Jim nodded and shook his hand, pushing the stunned Blair out of the office.
They went back to the station, Jim settling Blair into Simon's office to look for commonalties when he wasn't thinking while he started on the mass of paperwork. He had just gotten the first person filled out, all but name, when the first of the coroner's reports hit his desk. He picked it up and looked over the results, heading into the office. "Simon, first preliminary autopsy report. Died of internal blood loss, due to, umm," he flipped pages, "to massive trauma." He looked over the rest. "Hmm, there's a rape kit being done too. Apparently this victim had sex right before death." He flipped a few more pages before handing it over. "Seems they had a lot of sex right before."
Simon looked through it and handed it back. "Okay, so what do you think happened?"
Blair looked up. "Well, two of the tentative id's have a listing of dating someone before hand, but neither parent knew who it was. Maybe there's some commonness there." He shrugged. "Maybe they were at some of the same places or something. We really need more detailed information from the parents and friends to find a common ground." He sat back. "Barring that, I would look for common hangouts, maybe common bars or other places like that."
Jim nodded. "If most of these kids had sex beforehand, then we're probably looking for a bar or some other pick up joint. One of those didn't have a partner though, so we might be heading down the wrong path." He shrugged and leaned against the table. "We might be looking at bodies from different times and places. Some of them were pretty decayed."
"Okay, Ellison, it's your case, so go find that out." He smiled, a dark and nasty one. "Just think what will have to happen if they are linked."
Jim moaned and left the office, wanting so bad for this not to lead to anything undercover.
Simon looked at Blair and smiled. "Oh, don't worry, you're not going out on this."
Blair nodded and went back to the missing person's reports, sorting them by age and sex. After a while he started to notice a pattern. "Simon, we have many more males than females missing. Isn't that unusual?"
Simon came around his desk, coming to stand behind his favorite observer. "Yeah, but not by much, right?"
"No, almost four or five to one female." He showed the name list he had made from the piles and the much large pile of missing males, which was threatening to topple over. He steadied it, separating it out into smaller stacks. "These are the males, most of them are twenty something, and most weren't reported for almost a week."
Simon opened the door and yelled. "Ellison, in here now."
Jim came jogging in, closing the door behind him. "Yes, sir?"
"Jim, we have males, twenties, not reported as soon as the forty-eight hours was up. What do you make of that?" Simon laid a hand on Blair's shoulder. "Almost four to one over females."
Jim studied the list Blair had made. "I think we have people snatching people." He grabbed the phone off the desk, calling pathology. "Dan? Jim. Listen, do you have an estimate of how many of those guys had sex?" Pause. "Really? We, Blair, was just looking through the missing person's files and found a large percentage to be young males. How soon can we have statistics on all the bodies." Pause. "No, names and that stuff can wait. Say sex, approximate age, cause if it was a shooting or something obvious like that, and maybe characteristics?"
There was a long pause while Jim waited for the answer. "Great. Yeah, I'll come back in for that." He hung up. "Dan can get us that stuff tonight. But he did say only one of them looked like they had been shot as a cause of death and he was atypical of the group. Mostly young males, good looking, and most of them looked to have been penetrated on cursory first look." He slapped the pad with the list down on the table. "Blair, I think we just found evidence of a sex ring."
Blair blanched. "You mean like slavery and that sort of thing?" Both cops nodded. "Oh, great. Just what this city needed, a slavery ring. Like the terrorists weren't enough." He threw up his hands. "What next? Cartoon superheroes coming to help us?"
Simon laughed and patted his shoulder. "I'm sure you'll solve it before they get here." Blair started to chuckle and then suddenly pounded his forehead on the table. "Oh, stop it, it's not that bad," the Captain said. "And it could be worse. You could have to go undercover to bust it."
Jim and Blair looked at each other and shuddered, not even wanting to think about that option with their luck.
Jim had just finished the starting paperwork when Dan handed him the list. "So, was he right?"
Dan nodded and sat down. "Not only was he right, but we started drawing the blood and doing sweeps of rectums and mouths. He was *so* right it's scary. We found after-traces, chemical traces of what's left, of semen in most, some more than traces, and some of it was done postmortem. All the bodies were dumped during the landscaping two weeks ago at the most, and a few of the bodies looked like they could have been buried after that. One or two had shovel marks where the dirt was disturbed and a new body or so was piled on. Oh, and we did keep track of how far down they were in the pile." He stood up and stretched. "My wife is expecting me home. The other pathologist will be in in half an hour or so. I left her a note to give this only to you, Simon, or Blair, just in case," he held up a hand. "You never know who's looking. But that's all I got right now. Happy hunting."
"Say hi to the wife for me," Jim said and watched him leave. He looked down over the list, already making probable matches with some of the missing person's cases. He dialed Simon at home. "Hey, Dan just got me that list and he said Blair was more than right. He found the after traces of semen in most of them."
#So, then it does look like it's a ring.#
"That and I'm sure we'll make plenty of matches off Blair's list. Just by hair and eye and things I've already prematched fifteen of the thirty. We can bring in parents tonight or tomorrow. Just say when."
#When. And I'll be down in a few minutes. I'll drop by your place and pick up Blair to talk to the parents. He'll be better at it than we would.# He hung up and Jim dialed the morgue.
"Dan, Jim again. No, we're going to start bringing in parents tonight. Can you stay for maybe that last half an hour?" He got an affirmative grouse and hung up, dialing the missing persons Captain. "Hi, this is Detective Ellison, we have a probable match on many of your cases. Yeah, from the site this afternoon. We need people to go get parents and things. Can you guys handle that?" He got the okay and hung up, standing up and stretching, mentally preparing himself for the upcoming trial.
Blair led the last of the crying parents into the meeting room, sitting them into the comfortable chairs. He moved to the front of the room. "Hi, I'm Blair Sandburg, an observer to Major Crimes. We need to get some more specific information from you about your loved ones. I've got this form worked out, if you could just fill it out and put anything extra on the back, please."
A man raised his hand. "Why are there so many of us here? Weren't they found separately?"
Blair shook his head and looked at the floor. "No, unfortunately not. They were found together at the scene in the little park on sixteenth this afternoon."
"You mean our kids were just dumped, like garbage into the park?" A woman asked and started crying again.
"No ma'am. They were buried and a child dug part of one of them up. Homicide turned it over to us. They were all nicely laid out, but they were together." She nodded and grabbed one of the box of tissues from the middle of the table.
Blair passed around the forms and index cards. "On the cards, we need some way to contact you in case we have any more questions. Work and home if possible or just home and hours if you could please." He handed around pencils and pens and sat down, waiting.
He talked to each one as they handed in their papers and left, giving his condolences and giving them each the number of Social Service's grief counseling staff.
He was down to the last few people, two of them just staring at the papers and the other crying so hard he couldn't see it. He sat down near them, handing them the cards and explaining what they were for. He got the one man calmed and his formed filled out, then went to help the two that were lost to the world.
Blair opened Simon's door and tossed the papers onto the table in front of the detectives. "Got them done, and they all have cards for the grief counselors." He took his seat, resting for a few seconds. "Man, I never want to do that again."
Jim patted his shoulder. "I know. But we still have more parents to deal with soon. Maybe even tomorrow. We only identified twenty-five of the thirty. There are still five more we need to id." He tapped the list Dan had given him. "And going by this, only two of them might fit the missing person's reports."
"So we check the ones in-state, then work out, right?" Henry asked. Simon nodded and he made a note on his paper. "Okay, I can do that tomorrow, first thing. Can I have a copy of the list?" Jim nodded and made a note on his own paper.
Blair looked over some of the information. "Guys, some of these kids were known to hang at the same clubs." He handed over the first few to Simon. "That's a Rainier hangout too. Mostly well to do kids, decent ones not the snobs." He flipped through more and handed over the others that appeared with those same names.
Simon looked at his pile. "Well, that's almost half, right?" Blair nodded. "Okay, how many of the other parents didn't know or left that part blank?"
"Many." Blair separated them out. "Man, if these were my kids I'd *want* to know what was going on with them." He shook his head. "It just doesn't make sense, not knowing your kids to that degree."
Simon sighed. "Not all parents are like that Sandburg. I know most every move my son makes, even when he's not with me." He rubbed his eyes, laying his glasses on the table. "But you're right, and those parents are probably beating themselves about it."
Blair nodded and went back to looking for other things in common. He had just gotten to the back when he noticed the same name showing up. "Simon, do we know this person?" He handed over the paper, pointing out the name. Simon looked at it and groaned. "I'll take that as a yes." Most of them had listed this one woman as a close friend.
"She's one of the cult members from that bust last month," he said and threw it down. He checked in his pile, looking for some other names. "Yes. I do believe we have a link here." He grabbed and extra legal tablet off the center of the table, taking Jim's pencil from his hand. "The Family of Love, as they called themselves, used to work out of this club a member owned. They would pick up likely new members and start to work on them. Once they started, they had to pass a strenuous initiation to get in. Most of them didn't survive."
"To make sure they were the chosen few, right?" Blair asked. Simon smiled at him. "So, this other club could be their new hunting grounds and these were the people that didn't pass?"
"Could be. Sandburg, can you do some research at the University? Maybe talk to a student that goes there?"
"Yeah, one of my better ones goes. She'll be in for a conference tomorrow about a paper, I'll talk to her then." He checked his watch. "That's assuming I'm still awake enough to talk."
Simon waved at the couch. "We're going to be here all night, but you're more than welcome to crash in here." Blair smiled and nodded. "Okay. I want the details of that bust up and looked through. Let's see if any of the old corpses fit this new batch and go from there." He reached over and grabbed the phone. "Yes, sir. Let me put you on speaker phone, Commissioner." He pushed a button and put the phone back. "Yes, sir?"
"Banks, where are you on this case?"
"Sir," Jim said. "We've just found a large percentage of commonality, and have an idea of where to look."
"Good, Detective Ellison. What?"
"Sir, we've found a lot of them hung at the same club and knew the same people. Ones from that cult bust last month," Blair said. "We're going on the assumption that we're looking at their newest membership drive."
"Hm-mm. So, Professor, where does this lead you?"
"To research the cult, a few student's I know that hang there too, and maybe a stakeout once we know if this fits or not. Probably," he added, frowning at Simon to apologize.
"Ellison, leave it to you to bring the best person into the department and him not even be a cop. How soon will you know if this fits? I don't have to tell you what sort of pressure is landing on me over this."
"Sir, we have identified twenty-five of the bodies positively, by parental identification. We're looking to match the other five with someplace near's missing persons, maybe Seattle or Tacoma even. Blair and I are doing the cult research while Brown finishes getting the others id'ed. We're planning on having them done by the end of the week, if possible, and the cult research done by Saturday." Jim took a deep breath, but the Commissioner cut him off.
"Good work Ellison. Keep me informed. Banks, it's a good thing you talked him away from Vice." He hung up.
"Sorry, Simon, I didn't want to usurp your authority or anything," Blair said.
Simon waved his unlit cigar around. "That is not a problem. You handled him with kid gloves, just like you do the rest of us. And I, for one, would love to have you handle him more often." Everyone laughed and went to do their thing.
Jim tapped on Blair's office door, waiting to get permission before entering. He heard the yell and walked in, smile plastered on his tired face. "Chief, what's up?"
"Jim, this is Melody. She's the student I told you about on the phone." He patted her hand. "They've been approaching her lately."
Jim cleared off a chair and pulled it up. "Melody, I'm Detective Ellison. Can you talk with me?" She nodded and checked her watch. "Class?"
"Yeah, in about twenty minutes." Her voice was deep, but smooth, almost honeyed with a touch of southern accent. "Can I come to the station this afternoon? Maybe bring someone else that they've been hounding?" Jim nodded and she smiled. "Thanks. Doc Smitherson is a real bear when we're late. He starts to yell in some foreign language *none* of us understand." She gathered her stuff and left.
"Well, she did give me some preliminary stuff. Yes, they are working out of that club. Yes, they are recruiting. Yes, they are going after people who are loner's, cut off from family and not many friends. Which all fits the profile we have on the cult from the fed's. But, they're doing some things different now. She said she woke up one morning, not knowing how she got back to the dorm and immediately headed to the clinic. Thankfully she wasn't raped, but the blood work did show Rhopynol. She said the next night, one of them had told her that they caught someone else giving it to her and took her home, protected her."
"To gain her trust," Jim said and Blair nodded. "So, we're looking at some precise plans to gather new members." He ran a hand through his hair and grimaced at the greasy feel of it.
"Jim, go home, take a shower, and go back to work. Simon can't yell at you for doing that much."
Jim nodded and stood up, stretching, vertebrae popping. "You're right. I don't know how you can stand to be in the same room with me." He released his position and tugged on an escaped curl. "Thanks. This helps more than you could know."
"Jim, man, this is more than my pleasure." He got a faraway look in his eyes. "You know if they had been around in my undergrad days, I might have been one of their targets." He refocused on Jim. "But that was then."
Jim nodded and patted the top of his head once more before leaving.
Jim and Blair sat in the observation van, listening to the microphone they had wired Melody with. They had been unable to get a cop into the club, and both Simon and Jim had refused to let Blair go in. Melody had agreed, so they wired her and were just listening for the chance to go in and raid.
/So, how's your studies?/ A female voice asked. Melody had told them about her contact, Daisy.
/Oh, it's going okay. My favorite prof is being cool about my paper being late and the rest is just academic,/ Melody said and they laughed. /So, I heard there was a problem the other night. Something about a water main?/ The other voice was angry sounding. /Checking up on us? Why?/ /Because I was going to come that night, but Sherry said you had a water main break in the outer room./
The voice sounded contrite, almost sorry. /Sorry for snapping, but you don't know how hard we get looked at. No one believes that we just want to get together and have fun./ The sound of material rustling. /You know we've even had problems with Vice cops./
/Really? Why? I've not seen any drugs here?/
/Not a clue, dear. Not a clue./ The voice sounded happy and there was the sound of a chair scraping. /Tige!/ She yelled.
The sound of a new voice, male, deep, smooth. /Yes, dear?/
/This is Melody. Melody, this is Tige, he's one of my oldest friends. Matter of fact, he told me about this place./
/Hi,/ Melody said. /So, how did this place come to be? I heard rumors around campus that this place used to be a dump a few months ago. A real drug and whore sort of place./
Tige laughed. /Oh, dear, you had no idea. But we took the place over. The owner sold it to us and left town./ The sound of a chair being pulled out. /So, what brings you here? To us I meant./
/I met Daisy at the Student Union one day and she suggested I should try this place./ The sound of drinking. /She said I would love it here, and she was right./
/Well, Daisy's very good at knowing where people would fit./ The sound of scratching. /So, how far along are you?/
/I'm a Sophomore. Well, almost a Junior, about two credits away really./
Blair looked at Jim. "Do you recognize his voice?" Jim nodded. "Should I page her?" Jim shook his head.
/So, what do you do Tige?/
/I run this place. Daisy, I, and some of our friends do, but I'm in charge of making sure the club works properly./ He sighed. /You don't know what it's like to get out and have some fun. Be really careful what job you pick. If you don't love it, don't do it./
/That's a good rule to live by,/ Daisy said.
/Yeah, well, I've got a few more years before I got to think about that. I've still got a Master's program to get through./ She sighed, and there was the rustle of cloth. /I really should get back to my paper, it's already late and Prof's patience is legendary but it does have a limit./ The sound of a chair scraping back. /Nice to meet you Tige. Daisy, I'll try to be in more often now that mid-terms are over./ She left them.
Jim got into the front of the van and opened the door. "Hey, Pretty one, want a lift back to the dorms?" he said out the open front window.
"Jim," she squealed and got in. "Long time no see." They hugged and he drove them off.
Blair sat beside his father's lawyer, who he now knew to be James Sythcon. He had been too out of it last week to deal with little things like names. Jim sat beside him, giving him the occasional touch to the arm while the judge looked over everything.
"And where is his," Judge Williams cleared his throat, "husband?"
James smiled pleased. "He's at home. We finally got him into bed and eating again. I didn't think this was that important. He'd not slept for almost a week and a half after the death."
The judge nodded. "And you're Mr. Sandburg," he asked, turning to Jim.
"No, sir, he is," Jim said, pointing at Blair.
Blair sat up a little straighter and looked at the judge. "Yes sir?"
"Did you know this man was your father?"
"No sir. Both he and my mother conspired to keep him from me." He rolled his head, popping the stiff muscles and vertebrae. "I found out when the letter came for me. Or actually that night when I finally got it."
The judge nodded. "So, why are you getting the bulk of the estate. Did you do blood work? Are you sure you're his son?" He held up a hand, "Not to say anything funny's going on here, but we want to be careful about these things."
James spoke up. "Bill, Mr. Pershings, told me that Blair was his only child. That he had tracked the young man through his childhood. He said we didn't need to do blood tests." The judge nodded and looked back down to the will. "And his husband is a terminal cancer patient, that's why Blair is getting most of the estate. He didn't want Chris to be dealing with it in his vulnerable and tender condition."
The judge sighed and signed the papers. "Okay, it's your's Mr. Sandburg. Take good care of it, that store is one of my daughter's favorite's." He handed over the papers, letting Blair sign them where he was told by James. "Now, the estate taxes..."
Blair blanched and James patted his shoulder. "Not an issue. He had a special account set up to pay for them. He knew Blair was poor to the extreme only a college student could be." They both smiled, remembering those days. "It's already taken care of. All I need is his signature."
The judge handed over a sheet with numbers. "Here's the estimate." James looked at it and smiled. "I take it he had planned on more?" James nodded and signed it, handing it over to Blair to sign. "Well, that's it. Thank you for your time, Mr. Sandburg. I hope your new possessions bring you peace of mind and learning about your family." Just then an alarm went off, making the Judge grumble and tap his watch off. "Gotta take my meds. Good day, Gentlemen." They shook hands all around and left the chambers.
James stopped Jim and Blair in the hall. "Don't worry about a thing, we've got it handled. But, you might want to get someone to help you look over the store, just to get you familiar with it. Chris is down there right now and waiting on you." He clapped Blair on the shoulder and shook Jim's hand. "Call me if you need me," he said and walked off.
Jim put his arm around Blair's shoulders and they walked down the hall after him. "So, store or lunch? I know you didn't eat before that."
"Store then a good supper?" Blair asked hopefully.
Jim nodded and they left the courthouse.
Jim turned off the engine and sat there. "Do you want me to go in with you?"
Blair shook his head, but didn't get out. "It looks popular." His shoulders slumped. "I should go in, huh?"
Jim stoked over his confined hair and let him go. "Yeah you should. But I'll come in if you want, all you have to do is call my name. I'll be listening."
Blair nodded and got out of the truck. He walked across the few feet of sidewalk and opened the door. He walked in, shaking internally, and stopped just inside.
A middle aged man came out of the back and smiled. He stopped near the register. "Blair?"
He nodded and walked forward.