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A Thousand Paper Cuts

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“Get out of here. He needs you.”

Blair leaves Simon’s office with a nod and a smile, his heart feeling lighter than it has in days even though he knows it won’t last. Intellectually he knows that he’s grieving for Roy, channelling his pain into an all-consuming determination to catch the man’s killers and protect the good reputation that people seem intent on destroying.

Sure, he knows that he’s being irrational and close-minded in refusing to even entertain the possibility that Roy cold have done the things they’re saying, but at the same time that knowledge works both ways. It infuriates him that both Jim and Simon seem to have already made up their minds. Yes, they have evidence to back up their theories but it’s only circumstantial, and Jim should know better than anyone how easily evidence can be faked.

Blair *knew* the man, and without a doubt the Roy that Blair knows wasn’t capable of the things he was being posthumously accused of. Just as he knows that Jim and Simon aren’t prepared to listen to him in spite of Simon’s kind words. They won’t consider that he might be right and the evidence wrong unless Blair can find some kind of proof.

He doesn’t even know why that surprises him anymore. After three years, you think he’d be used to it.

Not that Blair can entirely blame them. They’re both cops; good at their jobs and Blair isn’t ashamed to admit to himself just how much he looks up to them, but the fact remains that they’ve both been trained to think in a certain way. He doesn’t even have a problem with that – logically and legally they have to follow the trail of evidence whether they like it or not, but he just wishes that they would at least listen to him.

Jim’s absorbed in a phone call, barely glancing his way as Blair walks into the bullpen and he takes the opportunity to slip by, heading into the corridor and towards the canteen before Jim has a chance to join him. Not that he’s under any illusion that he could really ever hide from Jim, he sometimes thinks that he’d have to reach the other side of Cascade for Jim to take more than ten minutes to track him down.

Half-heartedly he thinks that’s something they should test, just to see how far Jim’s senses extend and whether piggy-backing one onto another might extend his range even further, but somehow he can’t muster up the energy right now. Besides, there are more important things to do. It’s just so frustrating, and Blair can see Roy’s killers getting away if everyone gets side-tracked in this apparent rush to destroy his character now that the boxer is no longer around to defend himself.

Not that his own little outburst in Simon’s office will have helped matters much. He wasn’t lying, it’s true that he finds their easy dismissal of him hard sometimes, but he’d never meant to actually *say* anything. Even as the words had left his lips he’d known what it sounded like, just so much whining like a kid wanting to hang out with his older brother’s friends. Not a great way to engender respect in people who know a hell of a lot more about being a cop than him.

But that doesn’t mean that he knows nothing, can’t make a valuable contribution to the case, and for once it’s nice to hear the words, even though he’s still not sure that they can quite make up for three years of “you’re not a cop” and “stay in the truck, Sandburg”.

And yet he does understand their reasoning and always has done, because they’re right. He’s *not* a cop, he’s had no training and he doesn’t carry a gun. Blair has no illusions that he’d ever have been allowed into Major Crimes if it wasn’t for Jim’s senses, let alone to still be following them around three years later.

The put downs are just a part of it, part of the complicated thread of macho bullshit that a closed society like the police department thrives on. Neither Simon nor Jim really means them and so Blair ignores it, just like he’s meant to. It’s the role he’s meant to play in what he remembers once referring to as Jim’s ‘Dirty Harry’ world – sidekick to their Alpha Male. Both Jim and Simon are authority figures at the station; the Captain of Major Crimes and Detective of the Year – and even those people who see Jim as just another detective recognise that there is something different about him, an aura of natural authority instilled in him by virtue of his senses and his years in the Army. Unlike at the university, where Blair is the authority figure for his students, at the station Blair has no direct authority at all – he’s simply Ellison’ sidekick, forever classified by his relationship with Jim and treated as such. It’s just human nature. Unfortunately, knowing the psychology behind the put downs doesn’t make them hurt any less.

He’s been through this so many times now, he knows exactly how the next few days will pan out. He’ll be a little quieter, a little more subdued until the initial sting has worn off, but the echo of the words will never quite fade, instead forming a growing ball of resentment in his heart that he can’t quite bring himself to detach from no matter how many of Naomi’s meditations that he tries. Instead he ignores it, but every so often the hurt will flare up during the small hours of the morning when he’s running on caffeine and adrenaline, and is simply too wired to sleep.

Then the resentment will return, and even though he knows it’s childish and unnecessary, he’ll feel himself growing angry. They want his knowledge and his expertise, but they don’t want him.

They don’t want the personality that’s allowed him to acquire the knowledge because he’s too outspoken, too curious.

To put it bluntly, Blair doesn’t fit in. In many ways the station is like an animal pack, and there aren’t many species who will benevolently tolerate another species in their territory. It’s basic animal instinct to close ranks against an outsider, and the very definition of an observer means that Blair will always be on the outside looking in.

In the cold light of day it’s easy to remind himself that these people are his friends, that they don’t mean what they say in the heat of the moment. After all, he’s been there for three years now, living with Jim, sharing his home and his life; actions speak louder than words, right?

And yet there’s always this fear hidden away deep down inside him that maybe, on some level that even Jim and Simon aren’t fully aware of, they *do* mean it. Or that, even if they don’t mean it now, that one day they will, that the words will stop being a joke, and he’ll lose the closest thing he’s ever had to a stable family.

After all, if they’re allowed to bleed for long enough, a man can die the death of a thousand paper cuts.