It began like an ordinary day in Major Crimes. Jim and Blair arrived a bit late, after stopping to give Sister Dawn of the Sisters of Dolores’s car a much-needed jump.
“She needs a new battery,” Jim said as they came off the elevator and headed across the hall. “That’s the fourth jump we’ve had to give her in three months!”
Blair grinned. “I’m already on it, Jim. I’m working with the parish council and it’s going to be her birthday present.”
Jim paused and smiled at his roommate. You’re amazing, you know?”
“Yeah, well, don’t spread it around.” They walked inside.
Rhonda smiled up at them. “Hello, fellas! Blair, Counselor Perkins called. Sid the slimeball is not contesting the suit, and Perkins wants permission to hold a press conference – with you in attendance – to tell the world the truth.”
Jim frowned. “The – truth?”
Blair smiled. “That Sid released the first draught of a novel I was fooling with under the guise of an actual dissertation.”
Jim laughed at this. “Wonderful! Then all we need is to get Edwards to fess up to her complicity in railroading you….”
“Which is going to be the hard part,” Blair sighed. “But we’ll find a way.”
Rafe stood up and walked over to them. “Jim, Blair, can I talk to you for a few moments?”
“Sure, Brian,” Blair said, walking over with Jim following. “What’s up?”
Before Rafe could reply, a woman shot up from where she sat at Rafe’s desk. She jabbed a finger toward Blair and shot rapid-fire French at him.
Jim saw Blair go pale. “Chief? What’s the matter?”
“She says… I’m the one who…” He shook his head. “But I’m not…”
At Jim’s frown, Rafe explained, “Her brother was killed. She says Blair did it.”
Blair stood stupidly for a moment, staring at the woman. Finally, he gasped out, “I…what?”
Rafe nodded. “She says you murdered her brother.”
Jim shook his head. “Rafe, you can’t believe –“
Rafe raised a hand. “No. I can’t. And I don’t. But I have to follow this up, you know as well as I do.”
Simon stuck his head out of his office. “Ellison! Sandburg! In here, now!”
With one last look at the woman, Blair turned and went into the office. Jim followed, his brain already whirling with questions.
Simon’s first words once he closed the door were, “Don’t you even think about it, Jim.”
Jim frowned. “Think about--?”
“This is Rafe’s case. You will not interfere with it.”
“Simon, she is accusing my partner!”
“Jim, I do not need your going off half-cocked on me!”
“Stop it.” Blair’s voice was soft, but it carried. Jim, stop. You know I didn’t do it. I know I didn’t do it. Rafe knows I didn’t do it. He’ll prove it so she’ll know I didn’t do it.”
Jim shook his head. “Chief…”
Blair met his eyes. “Jim, all I’m saying is work with him. Let’s cooperate as much as we can. I know it’s hard – but let’s step back?”
“Chief, she is—“
“I know.” Blair stood. “But it will be all right, Jim.” He put a hand on Jim’s forearm. “It will be.”
Simon shook his head. “You sound so sure.”
Blair smiled at him. “Because I’m innocent. And we all know it.”
“Except her,” Jim ground out.
“And she will,” Blair promised in return. “Brian will see to it.”
Days passed with rising tension. Jim woke at three AM to the sound of soft sobbing.
He rolled over and squinted at the clock. He let out a groan at the time and lay back for a moment, an arm over his eyes. Jim wrestled his impatience and irritation back into its pen, and when he was calm, he got out of bed.
Padding downstairs, Jim knocked on the French doors. “Blair?”
“M’okay,” he sobbed.
“No, Chief, you’re not.” Opening the doors, Jim went inside and sat on the bed behind the miserable bundle of Blair. Reaching out he ran his fingertips over Blair’s shoulderblade – just light enough to let his friend know he was wasn’t alone. “Now tell me what’s wrong.”
Blair shook his head. “Everyone thinks I did it.”
Jim closed his eyes. He’d been hoping that hadn’t been the case. “Not everyone.”
“I know you don’t – we had that disaster of a double-date and spent the rest of the evening watching the Jags lose – but Simon…Rafe….”
“They don’t either,” Jim assured him quietly. “They can’t tell us anything because we’re at the centre of the case – you know that. But they know you’re innocent.”
Blair sniffled and rolled over. “It just… it hurts.”
“I can’t even imagine,” Jim admitted.
Blair sat up and let out a shuddering sigh. “I wish something would break,” he said with a second sigh. “This not knowing – being in-between – that’s driving me insane!”
With that marvelous timing the universe affords more often than either Jim or Blair cared to admit, there was a knock on their door at eight AM.
Jim opened it, startled to see Rafe there. “Brian.”
“Jim.” The normally impeccable detective looked as though he’d been up all night. “It’s over. May I come in?”
Jim frowned as he stepped aside. “You look exhausted!”
“I feel worse,” Rafe admitted. He unzipped his jacket and Jim couldn’t stifle the gasp.
The entire front of Rafe’s shirt was splattered with blood. Rafe looked down at himself and sighed. “None of it’s mine.”
“Whose is it?” Blair demanded from the kitchen. “Are you all right? What do you mean it’s over?”
“Exactly that – it’s over.” Rafe half-sat, half-fell onto the couch. “All charges against you have been fully and formally dropped.”
Blair closed his eyes and gripped the back of a chair at the table, suddenly light-headed with relief. He shook slightly.
“Brian,” Jim said as he sat beside Rafe. “Whose blood is it?”
“The real killer’s,” Rafe said with a tremble in his voice. “Dead at her own hands.” He looked at Blair. “Don’t worry – she confessed to everything.”
“Her hands?” Blair gasped. “A woman?”
Jim was hard-pressed not to say anything about Blair’s long hair, but he sensed now was not the time and remained silent.
“Yeah,” Rafe sighed. “And not just any woman.” He turned to look at Blair. “The one who accused you.”
“WHAT?” ripped from both Jim and Blair.
A slow nod and Rafe’s voice went even more unsteady. “It was an accidental death – a family dispute got out of hand. But her mind unhinged and she saw you right after, heading home apparently – and in her mind, you were the one who’d done it. She came to her right mind and simply couldn’t live with what she’d done to him and almost to you—“
But Blair heard no more. The blood roared loud in his ears as shock and adrenaline drain caught up with him all at once. He barely heard Jim’s cry of his name as he slid into a dead faint.
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