Replay

by Enola Jones



He tugged at the handcuffs again, futilely. He bowed his head and made a sobbing sound against the gag that filled his mouth. How long had he been here? He'd already had one involuntary shift-cycle -- fortunately the captor had been gone when it happened.

The scene was reminiscent of his nightmares -- the horrible visions that had plagued his dreams after the Lash case. Kidnapped, bound, forced to wait helplessly while a look-alike waltzed in and lived his life. Lash on endless repeat.

Only this time it was sickening reality.

~~~~~~~

Jim looked up and smiled as Blair flounced in. "Hey! About time! What, did you buy out the whole deli?"

Blair laughed and handed him the bag. "Nah, just ran into an old friend and was checking up on him. Got your favourite!"

Jim blinked and pulled out the greasy donut. "Two mornings in a row! What did I do to rate this?"

"You're just special, that's all." Blair sat down and began the mountain of paperwork on his desk without another word.

Shaking his head, Jim bit into the donut and extended his senses. A frown marred his strong features for a moment -- Blair's heart rhythm was slightly off. Jim shook his head, dismissed it as his own working too hard, and bent over his paperwork.

~~~~~~~

Over the next few days, things began to get decidedly strange in Major Crimes. One by one, detectives came into Simon's office and reported odd behavior from Blair.

But when Hurricane Megan blew into the office growling invectives so fast and her accent thickened by fury into something even Simon couldn't decipher, it was time to call Jim in.

"ELLISON! MY OFFICE! NOW!"

Jim came in, his half-smile turning into a puzzled frown at the trembling woman sitting in the corner. "What's wrong with Connor?" he asked.

Megan's head shot up and he had his answer. "Whoa," Jim said, holding up a hand. "Whatever's got her this ticked off, sir, I had nothing to do with ---"

"I know you didn't, Jimbo," Megan half-growled. "You've got enough brains t'watch yer balls an' not piss in the cereal!"

Jim's eyes widened and he looked askance at Simon.

"Sandburg did something to put her in this lovely mood," Simon said with a sarcastic twist to his mouth. "Trouble is, I've not been able to slow her down enough to catch what it was."

And with that, Megan was off again. Jim's frown deepened as her tirade continued and when she finally spluttered to a halt, he shook his head in shock.

"See what I mean?" Simon asked.

"I'm surprised I understood all that," Jim sighed. "I've been working with her too long, I think."

Megan made a hand gesture that was universally rude.

"One of these days, Connor, someone's gonna take that as an invitation," Jim quipped and ignored her reply to turn and explain to Simon, "Sandburg pinched her where the sun doesn't shine."

"Sandburg did what?" Simon spluttered, grateful for once they didn't catch him with a sip of coffee in his mouth.

"It gets better, Captain," Megan growled. "This was the capper on days of him patronizing, belittling, touching, petting --- cor, I hate it when my cheek's petted like I'm a bleedin' animal or something ---" And she was off and running.

Simon looked at Jim, frowning deeply. "That doesn't sound like Sandburg."

"It sure doesn't," Jim sighed. "I'll get to the bottom of this."

"You'd better!" Megan snarled. "Before he gets to my bottom again!"

Jim wisely ignored that and headed back to the bullpen.

~~~~~~~

She gave a moan as she worked against the cuffs. Though her hands were smaller and slimmer than his, still the cuffs resisted her attempts to break free.

It didn't help matters that she was weak; the meager meals her captor fed her barely sustained her. But at least she was alive.

And she would get out of here.

Her efforts were halted at the scrape of a key in the lock upstairs. Her head lowered and she made a sound that may or may not have been a curse beginning in 'f'. As the lock turned, she closed her eyes and threw the mental switch.

The groan that erupted as the switch from female to male occurred wasn't entirely out of pain this time.

"Hungry?" his own voice called from above. The sneakered feet still made a ringing sound as they came down the rickety iron stairs.

Blair glared up at his own face.

The reaction to the glare was a twisted parody of his own smile. The gag was removed and the bowl of soup was placed within reach of the cuffed hands. "I'll bring you something to drink later," he said.

"Let me go, man," Blair said. "I don't know what you think you're trying to accomplish, but ---"

"---but holding you here won't do it," the look-alike laughed. "You're wrong, it's doing just fine. Soon those imbeciles will hate you the way everyone's hated me!"

"Come on, man!" Blair sighed in frustration. "Why do you want them to hate me so bad? Why are you going to all this trouble?"

The look-alike shoved his nose into Blair's personal space. "Because you've had it good till now, while I've had to eat dirt. That's gonna change, Blair....now."

"Who are you?"

"I'm Cole," he said, rising to his feet. "The son Naomi couldn't be bothered to keep -- unlike her golden boy Blair." He laughed. "Well now I am Blair, and I'm in charge!" His laughter remained after he had locked the door behind him.

Blair bowed his head. As he became Sandy again, she whispered, "She didnít keep you because she was told you'd died...."

~~~~~~~

Jim came out of Simon's office just as Masterson walked in. "Jim..."

"Masterson...."

"I'm looking for Sandy."

Jim had been moving toward his desk when Masterson's words froze him. "....what?"

"I said I'm looking for Sandy. We were supposed to meet for lunch ---"

"And she didn't show?"

"Yesterday," Masterson finished, shaking his head. "I've not seen or heard from her in days."

Jim slowly began to frown. "....me either, come to think of it."

"And I don't mind tellin' ya, I'm ---" His cell phone beeped. "Aw, hell." He flipped it open. "Masterson." After a minute, his eyes narrowed. "Get them in position, I'm en route!" He slammed it closed. "Jim---"

"Don't say it. Go!" he smiled. "I promise you, we'll find out what's going down."

A nod and a quick clasp of wrists, and the ATF agent was off at a run.

Jim sat down at his desk, then began to write his thoughts down, organizing them. When was the last time he'd seen Sandy?

Over a week ago. When they'd returned from their last camping trip. Sandy had gone to meet Masterson, had met with him according to Masterson later --- and then Blair had come home.

And Jim hadn't seen Sandy since.

"Simon!" he called, running for the office. "I think I've got something!"

So caught up was Jim in his findings, he didn't notice Rafe, Brown, Joel and Megan gathering behind him. "Look," he said, tapping his notes. "Sandy's been persona non grata for over a week!"

"So? Blair's been here. I'm not following you."

Jim made an exasperated noise. "Remember what I told you, Simon? He can't not be Sandy! Not for at least an hour a day -- or he's forced into it! Yes, Blair's been here! And Blair's been at the Loft! And Blair's been out with us and Masterson! Blair, Blair, Blair! Not Sandy!"

"They're the same person," a breathed sigh from behind Jim nearly sent him over the desk.

"Rafe....uhm...." his brain was whirling as he saw the others there.

"Makes sense," Joel said. "After all we've seen those two do...."

"And we've never seen them together," Megan pointed out.

"So you're saying that Blair -- the one who's been makin' all those snide comments that aren't in fun," Brown put in, "Isn't --- Blair? Cause Blair's Sandy too and since she ain't been around ---"

Jim nodded. "And That Blair is too damned comfortable being male 24/7." Somehow, them knowing was a huge relief.

He'd let Sandy kill him later.

~~~~~~~

Working as a cohesive unit, Major Crimes put a net around the phony Blair. But he caught on, and made a break for the house where he held the real Blair.

He ran in and blinked, finding empty cuffs dangling from the post! "What the hell...."

As he turned to go back up the stairs, he ran headfirst into a chair being swung by a curly-haired woman. "Gotcha!" Sandy cried as she dashed up the stairs, out the door ---

---and right into Jim's arms. He gave her a sensory sweep, finding her okay, and pushed her into Simon's grasp as he went after Cole.

Cole came up the stairs, gun blazing. Rafe came out of nowhere and tackled Jim, sending him flying and taking the bullet in the shoulder.

"Take care of your partner!" Brown yelled to Jim, shoving him toward Simon. "And mine!"

Rafe growled as he lurched toward the small knot of people.

Joel and Megan followed Brown in and after a short firefight, came out holding a struggling -- apparition.

"Who the hell...." Simon breathed.

"Cole," Sandy replied. "My twin brother -- Naomi was told he was dead." She met Jim's eyes. "He wanted to be me....just like...." She began to tremble.

Jim held her close, until a gentle pair of hands pulled her away. He glared at Megan, who was holding Sandy tight. She looked up at him and said, "Jim, you've been through it too. I'm taking her to hospital, you clean up here."

"But --" Jim began.

"She's Major Crimes," Megan said, meeting his eyes. "And Major Crimes takes care of its own."

Rafe caught Sandy's chin and tilted her head up. "Even if they hide secrets."

Her cheeks stained pink. "Guys, I didn't think ---"

"That's right," Brown put in. "You didn't think. Nobody should go through anything alone. Not while we're around. Aren't' you the one who's always telling us we need to be friends more?"

Simon smiled as for once, Jim and Blair didn't bring in a perp and cover the aftermath alone.

This time, Major Crimes did.

THE END -- AND A NEW BEGINNING





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