“So, Simon quipped as he picked the trio up from the airport. “How was London?”
Jim, Rafe and Blair glared at him. The encounter with the kidnappers was not something any of them cared to discuss. Especially not with Blair still having periodic bouts of aphasia from the slowly-easing concussion.
The flight from England had been done AMA – and Blair was feeling the effects. His forehead was drawn in lines of pain and he was unusually quiet. Just before landing, he’d had a bad round of aphasia.
As Jim, Rafe and Simon bantered; Blair moved to the side and went to get money for the single-serve ibuprofen dispenser in the gift shop. He had just finished keying in his PIN at the ATM when someone collided with him. Muttering hasty apologies, the man raced away before Blair could get a good look at him.
Blair gently shook his head and finished getting his money. When he joined the others, he smiled tightly and gestured toward the room.
Jim nodded. “We’ll meet you in the Starbuck’s.”
Blair’s face lit up. “All right!” he cheered. “Boots!” He made his way toward the restroom.
Simon winced. “Aphasia?”
“Aphasia,” Rafe sighed. “It’s not nearly as bad as it was.” He frowned. “Hey, where’s H?”
Simon smiled. “He’s checking out Major Crimes’s latest request.” They sat down and Simon went on, “The rock band Cascade Falls is playing next week at the Imperial and we’ve been assigned security.”
Jim frowned as Blair walked in and sat down. “Security for a rock band doesn’t fit Major Crimes, sir.”
“It does when extortion and blackmail are added into the mix,” Simon countered. “And when the lead singer’s real name is Tyreese Davis.”
Rafe’s eyes widened. “That’s H’s college roommate!”
“Old friend, then?” Blair asked.
Rafe shook his head. “Oil and water. They couldn’t stand each other!”
Blair chuckled. “This should be fun.” He stuck his hand in his jacket pocket to see how much money he had left, and frowned. “What the…?”
“What is it, Blair?” Rafe asked.
Blair’s frown deepened as he pulled out a single key on a leather cord.
“Where did you get that?” Jim asked. “What’s it to?”
“Beats me,” Blair shrugged, staring at it. “I’ve never seen it before!”
The key’s origins were swiftly forgotten in the confusing melee of a new case.
Jim, Blair and Rafe were to go undercover on this one. Jim and Blair were to fall back on their old saw of being cousins, and they were to join the road crew. Blair’s ongoing slight aphasia was to be explained away as the lingering effects of a very bad trip. Rafe was going to stay close to Tyreese Davis, working as his new adjunct.
Fortunately, Brown had been present when their assignments were given. He, too, was slightly undercover. He was to use his policemen’s credentials to guard the petulant lead singer.
Davis was furious – claiming he didn’t need to be babysat. Least of all by his ex-roommate!
Brown’s retort was the band had requested police help and he was merely doing his job.
Davis’s unrepeatable reply made Jim chuckle.
At times, Blair would puzzle over the key. What did it fit? Why did it seem so important?
“Fresh,” Blair whispered as he turned the key over and over in his hand.
Jim chuckled, overhearing. At Simon’s frown, he reported, “He’s having an aphasic moment.”
“Wasn’t that supposed to clear up when the concussion did?”
“That’s what the doctors said,” Jim sighed. “I’m starting to wonder, though.”
Rafe came in and sank into a chair, sighing.
“Problems with Davis?” Simon asked.
Rafe glared at him. “Davis IS a problem,” he snarled. “I swear, I thought female rock stars were supposed to be divas!”
Blair chuckled as he walked over. “Davis is being a royal pain?”
“Putting it mildly,” Rafe sighed. “I’m beginning to think if you looked up ‘selfishness’ in the dictionary, there would be Tyreese Davis’s picture!” The others laughed. “Running me ragged, he is!” Rafe growled.
Blair petted his shoulder. “It’ll be okay. We get this case solved and we don’t have to deal with him again – right, Smart?”
Jim blinked, then smiled gently. “Right, Chief.” He waited till Blair walked away, then sighed. “More aphasia – ‘Jim’ consistently becomes ‘Smart’. I have no idea why.”
Simon shrugged. “No rhyme or reason. Jim, you need to take him to a doctor here. Something other than a concussion is obviously going on. That concussion’s healed by now and he’s still aphasic!”
“It’s not as bad as it was,” Jim protested weakly, but sighed. “Okay, I’ll take him in after this case.”
Rafe began to lay photographs on the table. “This is his dressing room.”
Blair returned and looked over his shoulder. “Crowded, isn’t it?”
Rafe grunted. “He hasn’t received any more threatening letters since we’ve begun –“
“Rafe, what’s this?” Jim touched a shape in the corner.
“He says that’s personal and we’re not to touch it.”
Blair stared at the trunk as Jim withdrew his finger. It was carved around a hole for a key.
His hand slid into his pocket. The key that rested there had similar carvings. “Hey, guys?”
Blair was seething. He had something important here, he could feel it.
And just because he sometimes said words in place of other words, they assumed he was doing it again!
He was determined to prove them wrong. So he snuck out near dawn and headed for Tyreese Davis’s dressing room. Picking the lock, he slid inside and let his eyes adjust to the dim light.
Locating the trunk, Blair fished the key out of his pocket and – ignoring his shaking hands – fitted it in the lock.
It was, indeed, the key to it. The trunk opened without even a whisper. Blair’s eyes widened as he saw what was there. “…pizza….” he murmured, unaware he’d screwed up his words again.
Inside the trunk were piles of wrapped money. On each one was an envelope. Sliding them open, Blair found they held old extortion notes. A lone envelope lay there as well. Blair slid that open and realised it was yet another extortion note –
Dated three days into the future.
Shocked by this, Blair was stunned into immobility.
The lights suddenly flared and a voice snarled, “Well, well… what have we here?”
Blair whirled to find himself face to face with Tyreese Davis. A sneering, very armed Tyreese Davis.
“Well, well, well…” Davis sneered. “It seems I’ve found a rat!”
Praying Jim had pulled his ‘Blessed Protector’ bit, found the note Blair had left, and was close enough to hear, Blair sneered right back, “So have I. A big fat rat named Davis!”
“Brave words for a man on the wrong end of a gun!”
Blair shrugged. “Aw, man, I’ve been on this side of a gun so much it doesn’t scare me anymore!” he lied through his teeth.
“Is that so?” Davis sneered. “Well—“
But Blair cut him off. “What did you hope to gain – doing this to yourself?”
“You can’t prove a thing!”
“Yes, I can.” Blair dangled the key.
Davis’s eyes went huge. “YOU? You were the one I collided with?”
Blair grinned. “And that’s why you haven’t been blackmailed in Cascade --- because it’s been locked up tight. Just tell me – does the rest of the band know? I doubt it, otherwise they’d not have called in sneaker rust!”
Davis frowned. “…sneaker rust?”
Blair’s eyes went wide. He’d thought he’d said ‘Major Crimes’!
Taking a huge gamble, Blair lunged toward the door. Davis intercepted him and in the tussle that followed, the gun went off.
A second later, the door blew open to reveal Jim and Simon. Simon pulled a bleeding Davis off Blair. “Flesh wound,” he diagnosed the bloody arm. “Move it – you have the right to remain silent…”
As Simon marched Davis away, Jim knelt beside Blair and helped him sit up. “Chief?” he asked, concerned at the blood soaking Blair’s shirt.
Blair looked down. “It’s not mine. I’m okay, Smart.” He stood shakily. “Apple fish hear it?”
Jim paused for a moment, trying to decipher Blair’s aphasic question. “Yeah,” he said at last. “I heard all of it. Show me what you found.”
Blair opened the trunk once more with the mystery key, and Jim saw the damning evidence. “Red-handed,” he grinned at Blair. “You did good, kid.”
Blair returned the smile, then sighed as it faded. “Wish I knew why he did it.”
Blair shrugged, not willing to let the aphasia take over.
Jim put a hand on Blair’s shoulder. “Come on, kid. It’s over. Let’s go rest.”
Blair nodded and preceded Jim from the room.
Jim made a mental note to tell Blair after he rested that the doctor had finally called him back.
The news wasn’t good. Based on the cause, duration and severity of the symptoms Blair was presenting, the doctor – and Jim – feared the younger man had sustained mild brain damage.
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