starfishyeti: Frost on fallen leaves (pic#3061706)
Prequel to Make It All Okay and contains major spoilers for it.

As usual I have no claim to the Sentinel or its characters nor to the Murray Head song Don’t Forget Him Now. This was written for pleasure and not for monetary gain.



Jim Ellison swept in to the Major Crimes’ bull pen like a conquering general followed by Chief Warren, Mayor Smithson, the captain of Vice, two who were obviously Feds and numerous hanger ons. Everyone stopped what they were doing to stare and Banks came out of his office a big smile on his face. He strode towards his detective and grabbed his upper arms.
“Well done,” he almost gushed.
Warren and Smithson both clapped Jim on the shoulders with satisfied grins on their faces.
“Banks, your man did really good,” the Chief said. He turned to the the large crowd that had filled the room. “Listen, everyone. We’re here to congratulate Detective Ellison here, for almost single handedly bringing down a child pornography ring that stretched across six states and involved hundreds of children.”
“We’d been working on this case for more than two years and had only managed to net small players,” explained one of the FBI agents. “We’d heard that the main man was somewhere here in Cascade and approached Chief Warren to see what plan we could come up to winkle him out.”
“And our plan was Detective Ellison,” beamed Warren. “He managed to infiltrate the ring and this morning we arrested Anthony Cortizzi and his gang at their head quarters.”
“So, obviously the way that Ellison’s been behaving these last two months has all been part of an undercover operation,” Banks said, “and his suspension was a ruse to get him noticed by the right people.”
“Oh, good,” called out H, “that means we can take down the storm warning system?”
Everyone laughed and moved towards Jim to congratulate him and the room was filled with happy noise. Blair came through the doors with a pile of files in his arms and had to stop due to the press of people.
“What’s going on?” He asked Detective Peters who was standing next to him just in front of the doors.
“Like you don’t know,” grumbled the man good-naturedly.
“No, I don’t know.”
Peters looked at him frowning. “You didn’t know that Ellison was undercover and had infiltrated a kiddie porn ring?”
“No,” Blair’s answer was quiet and he looked thoughtfully at his former partner whom he could see surrounded by an adoring public. Carefully, he edged round the boisterous crowd and dumped the files on his desk.
“Okay, okay,” the Mayor’s voice rang above the noise and everyone quieted. “A celebratory buffet has been laid on in the conference room and everyone from Vice and Major Crimes, including support staff, are invited.”
A small cheer went up and people started pouring out of the doors. Warren put his arm round Jim’s shoulders to lead him out of the room, but the detective turned and looked around himself. He found what he was searching for when he spotted the curly head bent over some files. He stared for a moment noting how the curls now brushed the shoulders having grown quickly from the mandatory academy haircut. He’d not seen his partner since his pseudo suspension nearly a month previously. Feeling someone staring at him, Blair looked up and for a moment blue locked onto blue. The senior detective was shocked to see the blank expression and the dark circles under the eyes.
He took a step forward, but was halted by the Mayor’s hand on his arm. For a moment he resisted. However, the other man said something to him and reluctantly he moved towards the exit. Just before passing through the doors he turned once again to call out to Blair. Unfortunately though, Sandburg had again bent his head to his files. He’d speak to him later once this circus had left. He needed to know that their friendship was still strong.
The younger man didn’t move and tried to bring his tumultuous thoughts under control. Jim had been undercover! So, all that time he’d been cold and distant with him it had all been part of a plan. When he’d calmly told him it was time for him to move out of the loft he’d been acting. When he’d made fun of him in front of the other detectives he’d been playing a part. Hadn’t he? Blair ran a trembling hand through his hair.
He’d been undercover and hadn’t told him. Obviously, Jim still didn’t trust him.
After the mess with the dissertation he’d accepted the offer of a detective’s badge and had worked hard at the academy. It hadn’t been easy. Many of the cadets and some of the instructors had resented his presence there. But Blair had endured thinking that Jim really wanted him as a partner and Major Crimes wanted him as one of their own. All his life he’d wanted to belong somewhere. He and his mother had moved around so much he’d never really been accepted in the communities where they’d stayed. He’d started at Rainier as a brash sixteen year old and therefore had been out of step with his peers. And anyway, he knew that the university had merely been a stepping stone to his future. He’d made some good friends there, some of whom had stuck by him after his press conference, but people like Chancellor Edwards had made sure that he’d never be part of ‘the in crowd’.
So, he’d thrown himself into being a detective and Jim’s partner. He ignored the subtle and not so subtle actions by police officers who couldn’t understand how a fraud could be one of them. He dealt with the constraints placed upon him by IA and the DA’s office. He tried to be resourceful with his money while paying back his student loans and some of the grants the university insisted he reimburse. He’d done all that because he believed that finally he belonged somewhere.
And then six months into his stint as a detective Jim had started snapping at him and criticising him for small errors, the way he dressed, his ideas, his beliefs, his lack of money... This opened the door to more open insults from personnel who’d taken his press conference at face value. Files would go missing, his lunch would disappear from the break room and his car tyres would mysteriously go flat on a regular basis. Then in the space of one week Jim had been suspended, Blair had been assigned a new partner and Jim had asked his room-mate to move out. Reeling from the shock, depressed, broke and realising that perhaps he’d made a terrible mistake in becoming a detective, Blair had moved his few possessions to a small one-roomed hole in a tenement in a less than salubrious part of town.
“Hey, Burger.”
He jerked as the hated nickname broke into his thoughts. Daniels was a fresh faced detective who’d come from homicide when Ellison had been suspended. He’d latched onto Blair despite being partnered with another detective saying newbies should stick together. He watched as the other man rummaged for something in his desk.
“Good party isn’t it? You must be really proud of Ellison, no?”
Blair mumbled something and looked down at his files not wanting to look into Daniels’ smiling face. A shadow fell over him.
“You can give these to him now.”
He looked up to see the other detective holding out a file to him.
“Um, What is it?”
Daniels dropped the file on his desk and started towards the doors. “Copies of the notes Ellison left for the DA in my locker at the gym. I was told to hold on to them until the op was over. Anyway, I’ve got to go. See you Monday.” With that he swung out of the doors leaving Sandburg contemplating the ruin of his life.
With shaking fingers he opened the file and with blurring eyes examined the papers within. Lists of banks and account numbers, names and addresses written out in Jim’s meticulous handwriting filled his sight. For a moment he simply sat there his mind a blank. In a daze he stood up and took his jacket from the back of his chair. Slipping it on, he turned off his computer and gazed around the bullpen. He felt a terrible weight pressing on his chest making it hard for him to breathe. He had to get out of there. Feeling too agitated to wait for the lift he jogged down the stairs to the underground garage. Before he had time to realise what he was doing he was in his car parked outside his building.
For a moment he laid his head on the steering wheel taking in great gasps of air. Daniels had known Jim was undercover. Not him. Not his so-called partner and friend. Slowly, he got his breathing under control and eased himself out of the vehicle. He shivered in the cold April wind and, like an old man, shuffled towards the building. Suddenly, something was thrown over his head and hands roughly grabbed him holding his arms to his sides. The smell of grease and cigarette smoke pervaded the entrance hall as he was hustled along the corridor to his ground floor flat. As they entered an arm snaked round his neck pulling his head back and a voice hissed into his ear.
“Shout and I’ll blow your brains out.” The material covering his head was pulled off and Blair blinked. The cold feel of a gun barrel pressing against the base of his skull kept him quiet and still.
A figure with a woollen cap pulled low, wearing a pair of dark glasses and a scarf tied over his lower face came from the right and punched him hard in the stomach. Blair whooped trying to catch his breath. He just wanted to curl up into his stomach, but the arm across his throat held him upright. Suddenly, his head snapped to the left as a fist smashed into his right cheek and immediately after his stomach was pummelled again. The arm released him and he crumpled to to the floor. Desperately, he tried to get air into his struggling lungs. Unfortunately, he was given no respite as a boot kicked him in the lower back and his agonised scream came out as a weak croak.
He then felt a hand in his hair and his head was tilted up. Squinting through the involuntary tears leaking from his eyes he could see three hazy, masked figures looming over him.
“You really are unlucky, aren’t you?” One of them hissed at him. “You weren’t supposed to be here. All we were going to do was trash your apartment. Leave you a message that even you couldn’t ignore. Well, now our message’s going to be VERY personal.”
“Wha...?” Blair tried to make sense of what was happening. His head was shaken violently as another punch landed on his already bruised cheek. He felt the skin split open and a trail of blood ran down his face to drip off his chin.
“Shut up! All you need to do is listen. Cascade PD doesn’t need self-confessed frauds dragging its name into the mud. However you got to be detective, I’ll never know. You took the place of someone far more deserving than you. We’ve tried to show you that you’re not wanted and not needed. MC doesn’t need or want you and Ellison has finally showed you that he doesn’t need or want you. So, don’t you think you should take the hint and leave?”
“No!” Blair tried to speak, but fell silent as a fist was raised to his face. He wanted to tell them that Jim had been undercover. That it had all been an act and even if his former partner didn’t trust him, surely he didn’t hate him?
“This is your final warning.” The man nodded to the person standing behind Sandburg’s left shoulder.
Before Blair could protest his trousers were unbuttoned and pulled down his legs so they pooled around his knees. He bucked and twisted as his imagination went into overdrive. “No, no,” he pled, “you don’t have to do this. I’ll leave. I’ll go.”
“Shut it!” The man who seemed to be the only one to speak grabbed his face in two hands and looked him straight in the eye. “Don’t worry. We’re not going to rape you. We wouldn’t dirty ourselves with a Jew boy.” He dropped his hands to his captive’s shoulders and squeezed them tightly. He moved to Blair’s left and pressed his gun once more against a curly head.
Blair quieted and stared up at his adversary with wide open, tear-filled eyes. He then screamed as he felt red hot agony in his left thigh. He tried to move, tried to crawl away, but hands were holding him down and stopping him from moving; stopped him from escaping from the pain that just went on and on. His arms flailed about trying to defend himself. And all the while the voice went on spewing out its vitriolic hate. Finally it stopped and he looked down at the bloody mess that was his leg. He squinted and through the blood he could make out the word ‘liar’ carved into his flesh. His face was again twisted so he was looking into cold eyes.
Blair then felt a tug in his hair and something light fell over his face. Looking down he saw his curls float to the floor. Almost in slow motion he heard a buzzing and even more hair fell as his electric shaver skimmed over his skull. It seemed to take for ever and it seemed to take just an instant and then there was silence.
“Now, we don’t want you to die. We want this as a permanent reminder of how you fucked up Ellison’s life. Of how you’re nothing more than a kike fraud and don’t deserve to be a cop let alone a detective.” Slowly, the speaker tipped over the bottle he was holding in his hand and Blair smelt the distinctive tang of vodka. The contents splashed onto his bloody thigh and he screamed. And then thankfully everything went black.

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Consciousness slowly crept up on Blair until he could feel the agony in his thigh and his aching body. He moaned and lifted his eyelids to half mast. He was sitting upright with his head back resting on something. Blearily, he tried to bring what he was seeing into focus, but failed. Confused, he rolled his head down and the steering wheel of his car came into view. His stomach suddenly spasmed and his memory came rushing back. Groaning, he wrapped his arms round his aching body and laid his forehead against the wheel. Bile rose up into his throat and pushing the car door open he fell to his knees on the road and vomited. Muscles protested and his leg burnt as he heaved again and again.
He eventually fell on to his side his chest aching and tears coursing down his cheeks. “Oh, God. Oh, God,” he sobbed. He didn’t know how long he lay there, but gradually the sobbing stopped and his trembling quieted until he could sit up and take stock of his surroundings. His old Volvo was parked on the grass verge of a deserted country road. Trees just starting to come into leaf stretched as far as the eye could see and the road disappeared into the horizon both in front and behind him. He had no idea where he was. A cold wind sprang up and blew over his head making him shiver. He lifted a shaking hand to rub over his bald skull and another sob escaped.
“Come on, Sandburg, it’s only hair,” he chided himself speaking out loud to break the brooding silence. “It’ll grow back. You’ve got more important things to worry about.” He looked down at his left leg and could see the outline of a bandage through his trousers. His stomach and face ached and he could feel where he’d been kicked in his back. Painful, yes, but unfortunately he’d had lots of experience with these sorts of injuries and he could feel there was nothing life threatening. He debated whether he should inspect his leg, but decided this wasn’t the place to do it.
The cold road was making itself felt through his clothes, so he grabbed the door and pulled himself upright. His mouth fell open as he saw the boxes and plastic bags haphazardly piled up in the back of the car. Leaning forward he pulled a bag open and saw some of his artefacts looking rather the worse for wear. A box held books and a broken mask. Another revealed bandages and antiseptic and he snorted at the thoughts behind such ‘kindness’. His attackers had really meant it when they’d said he should leave. He carefully eased himself back into the driver’s seat and spotted the keys in the ignition. At least they’d left him the means to leave quickly.
A thought bubbled up into his mind and his hand slipped under his jacket. His fingers encountered his empty holster and then dropped down to his waist and realised that his badge was also missing. Searching his pockets failed to produce his phone. He blew out a shaky breath; he had a difficult decision in front of him. If he went back to Cascade what would he be going back to? A place where he had the reputation of an academic fraud. Where he’d ruined the life of his best friend and then due to this friend’s kindness had ridden on his coat tails into the position of a detective in Major Crimes. The town where this best friend so obviously didn’t trust him and had tired of his presence.
There was no choice really. He would drive down this road and see where it took him. And if he couldn’t do it with love, he could at least detach. He turned the key in the ignition praying that the engine would start. He sighed in relief when it purred into life. The radio also came to life and he left it on in an effort to fill up the silence in his soul. Unfortunately, the words only accentuated the despair that he felt. Without taking his eyes off the road he drove towards the horizon.
“Now is the time when he needs your every support Now is the time when he needs your love Now is the time when he needs your every thought He needs help from you and heaven above Don' t forget him now

Try carrying the load that he bears It's bringing him down Carrying the burden that's on his back Try wearing the shackles That tie his feet to the ground Seeing the light when the future looks black Don' t forget him now

Help him bear the conscience That taunts his weathered mind Freedom from the snare that haunts mankind Be the light to guide him Be the shield to hide him
Show to him the self he has to find
Now is the time when he needs your every support Now is the time when he needs your love Now is the time when he needs your every thought He needs help from you and heaven above Don' t forget him now”

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starfishyeti

May 2014

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