Deputy District Attorney Beverly Sanchez looked up from her paperwork as the private door to her office swung open. The tall and very handsome man, who walked in as if he owned the place, smiled at her, folded his lanky frame into the chair opposite, slid down, crossed his sock-less ankles, hooked his hands behind his head and waited.
"You're early, Thomas."
"Nope, it's two o'clock on the dot. You lost track of time again."
She gave a quick glance at her Rolex and had to grin. "Damn, you're right."
His smile broadened. It was a smile she enjoyed even when he was slouched down in a chair. She reached over, picked up a file folder and slid it over to him. He took it, opened it and began to read. When he was done, he let it drop back onto the desk, slid back down in the chair and, again, waited for her to speak.
"I need you to find the young man you were just reading about and bring him back to Cascade. His testimony in the Kincaid trial could become crucial."
"Let me get this straight - Kincaid breaks out of jail, holds an entire stadium hostage, on National television, no less, and you have two dead bodies, thousands of witnesses including several famous basketball players, and you need this guy, this Blair Sandburg?"
Beverly studied the man sitting across from her, admiring the handsome features, slightly graying hair and hazel eyes currently studying her right back. In the well-worn jeans, Polo shirt and loafers, he looked anything but what he was: Thomas Sullivan Magnum, Private Investigator. Casual dress and manner aside, he was also the best damn investigator she'd ever had working for her, and counted herself lucky that he'd decided to re-locate from Hawaii to Washington.
On the other hand - at times, like now - he could be deliberately obtuse.
"Thomas, you've been following this case, you've read the papers and you know as well as I do that Kincaid could walk. He has three of the most successful and powerful attorneys in the United States on his payroll and since Preston Crawford isn't alive to defend himself or give us the truth, this could be tricky. Fortunately, Blair Sandburg is, which makes him the only witness who was actually alone with Kincaid, the only one who heard everything, was privy to everything. I need him. The case needs him."
"I'm still in the dark here, Beverly. You still have hundreds of witnesses. What aren't you saying? You know I don't go into anything blind, so spill."
She closed her eyes briefly, opened them and said, "I have it on good authority that his legal team is working on more than an insanity defense. They appear to be hatching a nice little conspiracy theory starring none other than the man I need you to find, namely Blair. If they succeed in planting the slightest doubt in the jury's mind regarding what Sandburg and Preston Crawford knew or didn't know, did or didn't do, Kincaid could walk."
"And if this Sandburg is a part of some conspiracy?"
"He isn't - I know him and he's a good man, one of the best. He was a hostage and nothing more, but in order to prove that, I need him. His last known address is in San Francisco and I need you to go there and bring him back - and you don't have a lot of time. We're almost done with jury selection. I admit, this is coming late but, like you, I really thought this trial would be open and shut. And now, with the new rumors - well, it could turn very ugly. I need Blair, Thomas."
Convinced, Thomas sat up and asked, "According to your file, he lived here, went to school here, and yet he's now supposedly living in San Francisco?"
Beverly looked down at her hands, sighed, and finally answered, "Blair left Cascade three weeks after the stadium incident. The only address I can give you is from the one and only letter written to Detective James Ellison by Blair not long after he left. They've had no further communication, so I have no idea if the address is still valid."
"He left just after the stadium takeover? That sounds more than a bit suspicious - if I had a suspicious mind, that is."
"I don't know what happened following the rescue and firefight that brought Kincaid down, and no one in Major Crime, where Sandburg acted as a consultant, is talking. Maybe they don't know, maybe they do. But I have to know - I can't have this case blow up in my face and then watch Kincaid walk."
Nodding, he held out his hand. "Ticket?"
She opened her middle drawer, pulled out an American Airline envelope and handed it to him. "Your flight leaves in two hours. Pack light."
Magnum folded the ticket and slipped it into his back pocket before standing. Giving her a mock salute, he said, "Aye, aye, Captain."
She grinned even as she waved him out. "Shoo, go, do, be a private eye."
When the door shut behind him, she turned in her chair in order to gaze out over the city.
She was worried, could admit it. One question had plagued her from the beginning: why had Blair left Cascade?
Watching the pigeons on the ledge outside her window, she prayed that bringing Sandburg back was the right thing to do.
"No, thanks, I'm fine. What's up, Simon?"
"Sit, Jim. Sit."
Jim looked at his boss, caught the wary expression combined with fatigue, and sat. This looked bad, but then, wasn't everything since Sandburg left? He shifted uneasily and said, "Spit it out, Simon."
"I just had a talk with Beverly Sanchez and she's sending an investigator to San Francisco - to locate Blair."
Jim was pretty certain his heart just skipped several beats, but he worked hard to maintain an outer façade of disinterest as he said, "Yeah?"
Looking as though Jim weren't fooling him a bit, Simon said dryly, "Thought you'd like to know. Oh, and evidently the case against Kincaid is getting complicated."
"An insanity plea usually is, but so what? They don't have a prayer."
"Beverly feels otherwise. She thinks they have more than a prayer, which is why she's going after Sandburg. There appears to be a theory floating around, one that puts Blair in the middle of the whole thing - and not as a hostage."
Jim tightened his grip on the arm of the chair as he said, "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. No one in their right mind would believe he had anything to do with what went down that night. Who thought this beauty up, anyway?"
"Jim, no one knows what happened once my son and Sandburg were separated, but he was alone with Kincaid and that's apparently enough for some folks to think there's fire with that smoke Kincaid's defense team is blowing."
Jim got to his feet as a good bit of the anger he'd been experiencing - anger with both himself and Simon - started to escape. Voice tightly controlled but leaking his ire, he said, "You think that just because Sandburg took Daryl with him and, yes, put his life at risk, that he could have been involved in any way with Kincaid? Because if you do, you're not the man I thought you were."
His own frustration bleeding through his voice, Simon shot back, "That's not what I'm saying, Jim, and you know it. But damn it, he was alone with the man, saw things, heard things, and Beverly can use that, can fight this with what Sandburg knows. Yes, damn it, I was angry with him, hell, it's been four months and I'm still upset, but I don't believe that he was involved in any ridiculous conspiracy."
Jim felt some of his anger fade but the tension remained as he said stiffly, "Anything else, Captain?"
Looking clearly annoyed, Simon, a man who could give Jim a run for his stubborn money, shook his head. Jim walked out, shutting the door behind him.
Staring at the closed door, Simon felt overwhelmed. Everything was so wrong now, so very wrong. Yes, he'd been angry with Sandburg - violently so, justifiably so. Hadn't Sandburg risked his son's life? Yes, damn it. But…it had been a mistake, no doubt about it, but it should never have…he should never have… Damn it.
Jim had tried so hard to be the bridge between Simon and Blair, had tried to calm him down, but it hadn't helped. Simon had still refused to allow Blair inside Major Crime, refused to let him to ride with Jim. And finally, at the end of three weeks, three weeks of being shut out of their lives, three weeks of Jim trying to calm Simon down, Blair had left Cascade. A few days later, just as Jim was about to explode, he received a letter from Blair. It said, simply, that he'd settled in San Francisco, everything was fine, and then thanked Jim for three great years. That was it, nothing else.
And three friendships went up in flames.
Simon finally gazed back at the work on his desk but, in reality, he wasn't seeing it at all. Had he been wrong to react as he had? Had his anger been misplaced? The answer was simple now: anything that left three lives shattered couldn't be a good thing. And if losing Jim's friendship - and yes, Sandburg's too - weren't enough, his ex-wife had taken Daryl to Portland, Oregon, where her family lived. Simon could count himself lucky if he had a chance to see his son more than twice a year now.
And wasn't that the height of something that the only ray of sunshine in the whole Kincaid trial was that Daryl was on his way back? Unfortunately, it would be to testify, but still, he'd see his son.
And maybe, just maybe, Beverly would be successful and Blair would return as well, and then they could talk. All of them. The way they should have.
He rubbed his suddenly exhausted eyes, grabbed up a cigar and bit down hard. He glanced out his window at Jim - and sighed. Because the kicker to everything, the final insult, so to speak, was that Jim hadn't been a sentinel for months.
Because he'd lost his partner.
Jim didn't remember driving home, but he'd obviously made it without incident because here he was, at home. Of course, he couldn't vouch for how legal the drive had been, but hey, no one was perfect.
The meeting with Simon had really shaken him, and more than he'd care to admit. But the real corker was the fact that someone - someone who wasn't him - was going after Blair. Hell, he should have done that months ago, but damn it, he'd succumbed to Simon's anger and his own guilt thanks to his ineffectual behavior following the Kincaid fiasco. Thus he'd allowed far too many days to pass while rationalizing his actions.
He'd been an asshole, was still an asshole. He'd let Simon's anger destroy Blair, but damn it, he'd been so sure it would die down, and so afraid Simon would pull Blair's pass permanently. As a result, he'd gone along with the imposed exile, become a part of the problem instead of finding the solution for Blair. Helping Blair. And now, the storage room was back to being just that. The refrigerator was empty of Tupperware, tofu and algae shakes. The bathroom was all his, the only hairs in the drain…his.
Jim cringed as Simon's final words to Blair came back to him….
"I don't want to see your face in this building, Sandburg. What you did destroyed any trust I'd placed in you and I suggest you leave before I decide to pull your observer status for good."
Jim could still see Blair's stricken expression, the shaking hands and body quivering with suppressed emotions. The shock that registered on his face had only served to inflame Simon, causing him to spit out even more stinging words until finally, clearly exhausted, Blair had walked out of the office, eyes straight ahead. He kept going, through the bullpen, out into the corridor, into the elevator, and finally out of the building. That was the last time anyone from Major Crime had seen him. In the following weeks, Blair hadn't even tried to talk to Simon, to come back. He'd gone from loft to school and back again, working hard and talking little.
Three weeks later, he'd told Jim it was over, that he knew he would never be accepted in Major Crime again and that it was time he moved on. Jim had tried to convince him that Simon's anger would end and thought he'd succeeded until the following Sunday when he'd come home from the gym. He'd walked inside, dropped his gym bag on the floor and, with one look at his home, had known that he'd failed, that Blair was gone. A note taped to the fridge confirmed that fact.
Jim leaned slightly to his right and took the note out of his pocket; a note that he'd carried with him every day since finding it. He unfolded it for the umpteenth time and, once again, read Blair's printed words.
You can't say this comes as a surprise. We've been moving in this direction since Alex, and I see no reason for the pain to continue. Your friendship with Simon is important to you as a man, a detective and a sentinel. This is for the best. Don't worry about school, things have been going south there too, as you know. Time for this Sandburg to start over. I'll let you know where I land when I land. I've left all my notes for you and I'm thinking you might want to consider pairing up with Megan (stop making that face!) - she knows the score and she can help. If you refuse that idea, then go with Joel. He'll take care of you, Jim.
Anyway, thanks for the best time of my life, for a friendship I'll always value. See you 'round.
Sandburg (I figured if I used my first name, you'd be confused)
A week later, he'd received a brief letter letting him know that Blair had 'landed' in San Francisco. There'd been an address - and a phone number - but by the time Jim got up the nerve to use it, it had been disconnected. There'd been no further contact, no additional letters, no emails. Nothing.
And Jim had let it happen.
Wasn't that typical? If he couldn't control something - it didn't exist.
Which was precisely why he was no longer a sentinel.
The Great City was on her own, sentinel-wise.
But now - now maybe he could fix things. Blair would be coming back and Jim would have a second chance to tell Blair how he felt, a chance to start over in so many ways. He loved Blair, needed him.
Second chances. He wouldn't let this one go by the wayside.
The noise, smoke and music were, for some reason, grating on Blair's nerves. Normally, none of it bothered him, but tonight it was all working its way under his skin and inside his brain like a sharp knife, twisting, turning, ripping him up, leaving him breathless with pain.
"One scotch and soda, one vodka martini and one Long Island Ice Tea."
Blair nodded at Terry Weber, one of the waiters, and he automatically reached for the right bottles and glasses. In seconds, he had the drinks ready and on the tray in front of him.
"Hey, Blair, you okay?"
He looked up and into Terry's concerned brown eyes. Nodding, he smiled before turning toward a customer at the other end of the bar who was yelling out, "Two Mai Tai's!" Terry, looking less than reassured, nevertheless shrugged and moved out with his order.
Two more hours, Blair thought as he worked. Just two more hours before end of shift and yet he had an almost overwhelming urge to run. To run far and run deep. Feeling suddenly edgy, he kept working, hoping the routine of his job would calm him.
If his mother were here, she'd tell him that he was surrounded by negative energy and that until he came to terms with it….
Right. Like he hadn't already? Hell, yeah, he had. Okay, things would never feel the same way again, but that was okay, that was life. Changing, always changing. And he had come to terms with everything, he had, damn it.
Okay, so he had a slight stutter now, so what? He'd come to terms with it. And maybe coming to terms had left Blair Sandburg somewhere on the road between Cascade and San Francisco, but so what? Wasn't he functioning? Working? Damn right, he was, and you couldn't ask for more than that. Well, maybe, a dog. He could use a dog.
Okay, so tomorrow, his day off, he'd go to the pound and get one. Something warm, sweet, friendly, just for him, loving him. Yeah, a dog.
Need to get rid of negative energy? Get a dog.
He felt instantly better. He had a plan now. Something to do for his day off. And after he got the dog, he'd go to the pet store and buy stuff…like food, a bed, toys, a collar…maybe he should write this down before he forgot - because he was forgetting a lot of things lately. Not drinks, mind you, but…other things. Yeah, he'd better write it down.
His own dog. A pet. Had he ever had one? He mixed another set of drinks, smiled at a customer and decided that no, he hadn't. No pet. Naomi's allergies. Wait, hadn't there been a hamster? Or was that a rat? A rabbit? He shook his head, didn't matter, he'd soon have a dog.
Felt good making a decision.
How much longer again until end of shift? Oh, yeah, two hours. He could make it, he always did. And tomorrow, a dog. Maybe a retriever? Or a Lab? Nah, too big for his little apartment. Okay, a terrier of some kind. He'd heard those Jack Russells were great pets. Or maybe…just a mutt, like him. A mutt would need him. People didn't like mutts, they never adopted mutts.
Okay, another decision made. He'd get a mutt.
Two more hours.
Magnum checked the piece of paper in his hand to confirm the address and groaned. He glanced up the several flights of stairs that led up from the street to the apartment - and remembered just what it was about San Francisco he'd never liked. He sighed and started climbing. He was fifty-four, in good shape, but figured that by the time he reached the top, he'd be fifty-six, at least.
A guy could get a nose bleed climbing this high, and just how many flights was this, anyway?
Huffing a bit, he finally reached the front of the building. Checking the mailboxes, he quickly located the one he needed. Naturally it was on the third floor - and naturally there was no elevator. He started climbing.
Fifty-six? Nope, try sixty.
He reached the third floor, found the apartment he was looking for and knocked. There'd been no Blair Sandburg listed on the mailbox, but that didn't surprise him. Evidently he was rooming with someone named Danny Pritchard, and that name had been on the mailboxes. He knocked again, and this time it was opened a bare crack as one tired green eye peered out at him.
"I'm not buying, man, so beat it."
"I'm looking for Blair Sandburg. He lives here, right?"
He could see the whole face now, along with a thatch of messy red hair. The exhausted look in the kid's eyes slipped away to be replaced by suspicion.
Trying to sound disinterested, Pritchard said, "Used to but not anymore. Moved out, man." With that, he started to shut the door, but Thomas was fast - and so was his foot, which he stuck out and blocked the move.
"My name is Thomas Magnum, I work with the Cascade District Attorney's Office and it's urgent I reach Mr. Sandburg."
In the old days, he'd have obfuscated, tried the old, "I owe him money" gambit, but he was older, wiser and really didn't have time for games. He pulled out his wallet, flashed his ID, and added, "Mr. Sandburg is needed to testify in a very important case and I need to locate him. Can you help?"
The door opened wider. "Testify? Blair?" Pritchard asked, incredulously.
Magnum could see the battle waging across the freckled face, so he kept his eyes on Pritchard, showing only sincerity.
"Just give me a second…I'll get you his new address."
He shut the door and, just when Thomas was certain he'd been scammed, it opened again and Pritchard stuck out a piece of paper.
"It's not far from here, just a couple of blocks. He's off today so he'll be home. He doesn't…he doesn't get out much."
Magnum took the paper. "Thank you, Mr. Pritchard."
"You'd better be telling the truth, man, 'cause Blair has real friends here, so if you're lying, if you hurt him, San Francisco will be the last city you ever see."
The words were spoken quietly, forcefully, and with an intensity that Magnum didn't doubt for a minute. He nodded and walked away, wondering at the kind of man who could instill that kind of loyalty and protectiveness in others.
The conspiracy theory had just lost another notch of believability.
Blair stood in the middle of his tiny apartment, hands on hips, trying to look stern as he gazed down at the small, brown, furry mop that sat staring adoringly up at him.
"You...ate my s-shoe. You ate my shoe."
The fur-ball cocked its head at the sweet tone and then promptly squatted in order to relieve himself. Blair's eyes widened at this newest assault on his home, but just as quickly melted as his new roommate finished, looked up, beamed, then trotted clumsily over to plop down on Blair's bare foot.
Remembering the words of the handler at the pound cautioning him to be firm and keep his tone neutral, he stooped and picked up the bundle of wiggling joy. Holding it away from his face while trying not to laugh at the pink tongue trying so hard to reach him, he immediately showed him the wet spot on the rug and said in a firm tone, "No! Bad dog."
With that, he walked over to the back door and pushed the mutt gently through the newly installed doggie flap on the newly purchased and installed screen door, and onto the small patch of grass that had come with this particular apartment.
He watched through the window as the dog sat there, clearly confused. Blair held his breath and, a moment later, was rewarded as the pup turned, padded over to the grass and squatted again.
"Y-yeees!" he exclaimed before turning his attention to cleaning up the mess on the floor. When he was done, he quickly joined the puppy, cooing and praising as he picked him up and finally allowed the puppy-bath even as he managed to get in a few kisses to the soft fur in response.
"Good d-doggie," he murmured into the puppy's neck.
He carried him back inside and sat down on the couch as he continued to tickle and pet the now deliriously happy animal. As the pup batted his paws at Blair's fingers, Blair said, "I really m-must n-name you, but what?" He cocked his head, studied the short brown fur, the long puppy body…and knew exactly what name to bestow upon his pet. "You're now…Joey. How's t-that? Joey Sandburg?
The newly christened Joey tilted his head as if listening, then started thumping his tail madly, obviously happy with his new moniker. They played a brief game of tug-o-war with Blair's shirt cuff and, just as the puppy's eyes spied Blair's earrings, the doorbell rang.
With Joey in his arms, he got up and, curious as to who'd be at his door, opened it only to find a tall, handsome man in his early fifties on his doorstep.
Curious but equally cautious, Blair nodded. "Yes."
"My name is Thomas Magnum. I work with Beverly Sanchez?"
Blair felt himself go numb at the utterance of Beverly's name, but his body went on polite autopilot and he stepped back in order to allow the man inside.
He should have known his past would catch up. It always did.
Thomas' first thought was that Blair Sandburg looked nothing like the photo in the file, one that showed a clearly ebullient young man with a huge grin on his handsome face, a kind of vital energy evident even in a photograph. Thomas remembered being struck by the young man's eyes, full of a strange, exotic mixture of ancient wisdom, maturity beyond his chronological age, and youthful mischief.
The man who stood before him now had to be the exact opposite. The energy that had been so clear in the photo was gone now and the expressive eyes, shuttered. There wasn't even a glimmer of the intelligence so evident in the picture.
Another difference was that in spite of Blair Sandburg's youth, there'd been an evident strength, something very missing now. Frail was more likely to be a word he'd use now. This kid looked as though the slightest breeze would blow him away, a fact that brought out Thomas' protective side, which surprised the hell out of him. Only his daughter Lily engendered such feelings in him. Until now.
With a kind of lost wave of his hand, Blair offered him a seat and he sat down in what was obviously a reading chair next to the small sofa. Blair remained standing, an active and playful dog in his arms.
"New puppy?" he asked, hoping to break the tension in the room.
Blair put Joey down and then sat down on the couch, the dog following and sitting on Blair's feet. "Yes, n-new. Yeeest-terday."
Okay, Beverly hadn't said a word about a speech problem. Thomas frowned as he regarded the younger man because…wasn't he…hadn't he been a teacher at Rainier? Or rather, a TA, and a good one according to the file?
Damn, how the hell would this go over with a jury?
"You don't seem surprised that I'm here, Blair. May I call you Blair?"
"S-sure, and no…I can read."
"So you were expecting someone?"
Thomas absently touched his jacket pocket, the one that held the subpoena, and accepted the fact that he wouldn't - couldn't - use it. Not on this wounded man, because that's what he was, one of the walking wounded. Thomas had seen the same haunted expression too many times not to recognize it here.
The puppy had somehow managed to crawl up Blair's pant leg and was now curled up in his lap, sound asleep. Blair was absently petting it, obviously allowing the action to calm him as he asked, "Beverly w-wants me to...t-testify?"
"I'm here to see…it's my job to let you know…there are certainly more than enough witnesses, so in all actuality, you're not really needed, but it's her job to seek you out. I'll go back, tell her it would be too much of a hardship and that's it," he lied.
Blair cocked his head and asked in disbelief, "You flew all t-t-his way, t-to not use me?"
Damn, caught red-handed. There was intelligence behind those shuttered eyes after all.
To cover his discomfort, he got up and started to walk around, appearing curious as he checked out the shelves, books (on Anthropology and Police Science), and at the artifacts. He was fully aware of Blair's gaze following him as he moved. He was about to turn and address his question when a series of photos on one of the shelves caught his attention. One of them was obviously the original of the one in the file, but it was the photo next to it that captured his attention. It showed Blair, obviously fishing, standing in a river next to a taller man, both clearly having fun, the taller, older man with his hand on Blair's shoulder as he encouraged him in reeling in a fish. They both looked incredibly happy and relaxed.
The next photo showed the same man, with several others, one of whom he recognized as Captain Simon Banks of Major Crime. All were in tuxedos, smoking cigars and appeared to be outside at a race track. There were also a few photos of a much younger Blair on what had to be expeditions, but it was the final photo that froze Thomas where he stood.
It was a photo of a young woman, maybe 16 or 17, with long red hair. She was sitting under a tree, an open book on her lap and smiling for the camera. He closed his eyes and fought back the urge to pick the framed picture up, to stroke his finger down the woman's cheek.
Blair Sandburg had a photo of Naomi.
Controlling his voice, he asked with what he hoped was nothing more than mild curiosity, "Who's this?"
Of course, his mother.
"Do you know when this was taken…and where?"
"I t-think it was…Maryland. Summer of '68."
But, of course, Thomas had known the answer before Blair spoke for the simple reason that he'd been the one snapping the shutter on the camera.
August and September of 1968, the two most incredible months of his life. Two months of wonder, passion and love with a girl named Naomi - Naomi Iris. A summer of love before the Naval Academy, a summer that ended when it became apparent that he was, in fact, going to attend the Academy. He'd lost her then and had suffered through his first broken heart as you only can when it's also your first real love.
He picked up the photo and turned back to face Blair. Voice gentle, he asked, "May I ask when you were born?"
Blair frowned but answered, "May…1969."
Thomas glanced down at the photo and said, "I took this picture, Blair, but when I knew her, she was Naomi Iris. We had two incredible months together - August and September. I was scheduled to leave…scheduled to report to the Naval Academy on October 3, 1968. She'd been so certain I wouldn't go, but I had to, and hoped she'd understand, but she…didn't. I never saw her again."
Blair leaned forward. "Iris? She…she t-told me once that f-for a while she'd used it. T-the iris was her f-favorite f-flower." He glanced down at the puppy, who was snuffling in his sleep, and added softly, "I never knew my...f-f-father. She said she d-didn't know who-"
"Two months, Blair, we were together for two months. There was no one else for either of us."
"I was conceived in S-september…."
Thomas, feeling a bit weak in the knees, dropped back down into the chair, photograph still in hand. He looked over at Blair and only one word filled his mind - son.
Had to be. Sure, a phone call to Naomi by Blair, maybe even blood tests for Blair's sake, but for him, those were unnecessary. He knew in his gut, heart and mind.
He looked at his son and smiled; a gentle, experimental smile even as Blair spoke.
"Wh-what should I s-s-say?"
"What are you thinking?"
"Th-th-at I s-s-seem to have f-f-found my father. Should I call Naomi?"
"Not for me, Blair. I don't need the call. Other than to talk with her."
"T-this was...quick. One m-minute, t-testifying, the next, a picture, a f-father."
"I couldn't not tell you because, you see, I'm glad."
Blair looked away and muttered, "W-won't be."
Thomas sat forward, concern written in every line of his body, and asked, "What? What did you say, Blair?"
"W-won't be g-glad."
Blair got abruptly to his feet and, with a burst of almost manic energy, began to circle his apartment, Joey chasing after him as he waved his arms at his surroundings. "I'm n-not anyone you w-would want t-to know now." He faced Magnum, eyes full of regret. "T-t-this is who I am - wh-what I am now."
Thomas moved quickly to his son's side and, hands on Blair's shoulders, said, "Wrong, I want very much to know you, but Blair, I already have a good idea of who you are. I'm an investigator and I made it my business to understand the man I was sent to bring back to Cascade." He smiled gently. "I'm glad you're my son and nothing will change that, including whatever drove you to leave Cascade."
Eyes telegraphing his doubt, Blair shook his head in resignation because he knew the feelings, however new and wonderful, wouldn't last once he'd testified. But damn it, in the meantime, he could pretend, hold onto this for a while, luxuriate in having a father. And heck, maybe when the trial was over and he was back here, the feeling would keep him going a bit longer.
Sounding more confident than he was, he finally asked, "When d-do we leave?"
The change of both demeanor and subject threw Thomas for a moment, but he bounced back and answered, "We have enough time to get to know one another a bit better, and besides, like I said, you really don't need to come back, I'm sure Beverly can handle the case without your testimony."
Feeling only slightly guilty about his white lie, Thomas grinned. And maybe it wouldn't be such a lie - once Beverly understood that Blair's testifying was not the thing to do, anyway. On the other hand, if not, he'd be with Blair every step of the way, making it as easy as possible.
Joey had started to whimper at that moment, probably at being ignored for so long, so Blair quickly gathered him up. Cuddling the pup to his chest, he looked back up at his father and asked, "Where are you s-staying?"
"I have reservations at the Hyatt, downtown."
Stroking the puppy, who'd managed to turn over so his tummy was within rubbing range, Blair suggested shyly, "You're w-welcome t-to stay here. The couch f-folds out and I've b-been told it's k-kind of comfortable."
"I'd like that, Blair. I'd like that very much. I'll go down, get my bag, and then we'll get this 'getting to know each other' stuff started."
With an affectionate, if somewhat awkward, squeeze of Blair's shoulder, Thomas headed downstairs. When the door shut behind him, Blair felt like a tire leaking air. Legs weak, he quickly sat down. He was just getting what little equilibrium he had back, when the door opened and his father walked in, a garment bag over his shoulder.
Smiling, Blair asked, "Okay, so where d-do you w-want to start?"
Jim clicked the remote aimlessly, eyes fixed on the television screen, but not really seeing the pictures flashing as he surfed. The television was a comfort, sound helping him feel less alone while he slipped into his past, reliving moments with Blair, conversations, the fun and laughter, the ups and downs of having someone else in your space. At the moment, he was stuck on Blair's laugh. Didn't matter what kind of laughter, or why he was laughing, all Jim remembered was how it could move through him like a magical elixir, sending pleasure waves from the top of his head all the way to his toes. He missed it, missed the real thing. Missed Blair's voice too. No one else could warm him like Blair when he spoke. Warm and fiery at the same time, and smooth, like an excellent brandy, a vintage brandy.
Blair had been his sanctuary, lost now, realized too late, and dearly, sorely, missed.
Jim stayed in the past with Blair as the loft darkened with the setting sun and night crept in. The sentinel who was no longer a sentinel continued to sit, finger pressing relentlessly on the remote.
Thanks to the damp, foggy weather, the park was nearly empty. There were a few joggers and a couple of brave couples on blankets enjoying their picnics in spite of the sun's absence.
Thomas sat at one of the park tables, a couple cartons of Chinese food in front of him. Every now and then, he'd pick up the chopsticks and root around in one of the cartons for some juicy shrimp morsel he might have missed earlier. Blair was on the grass, Joey crouched a few feet away, in harness and leash, and avidly watching Blair's socked toe as Blair wiggled it, inviting Joey to pounce. Thomas figured that based on the way Joey's butt was wiggling, that pounce would be sooner rather than later. He wasn't disappointed as, a moment later, Joey gave one last wiggle and pounced, small teeth latching onto the mysterious, argyle-clad entity.
Laughing, Blair pulled his leg out of reach, patted his chest and, with a wild abandon that only puppies and kittens seemed to have, Joey bounded up. They did a little wrestling before Blair finally picked him up and joined Thomas at the table.
Swinging his leg over the bench, Blair grabbed one of the bottles of apple juice they'd brought with them and twisted off the cap. After drinking almost half, he placed Joey on the grass under the bench where he quickly fell asleep, spread-eagled, content, his head on Blair's foot.
"There's some Orange Chicken left," Thomas said and he nudged the carton towards Blair.
Shaking his head, Blair said, "S-s-stuffed."
Thomas smiled and nodded in understanding. They'd had twenty-four hours together and he figured Blair now knew everything there was to know about him. He'd shared his Navy days, the good and the bad, then told him about his years in Hawaii, living on the estate belonging to a favorite author of Blair's, Robin Masters. He shared stories about Rick and TC, and about his strange but important friendship with Higgins. He'd also explained Lily to Blair and had watched the surprise and, yes, joy, on Blair's face at the idea that he not only had a sister, but that the fact that she was attending Rainier explained why Thomas had moved from the Islands to the Mainland.
Unfortunately, as much as Thomas had shared with Blair, it was equaled by how little Blair had shared with him. He hadn't been able to pry one new thing out of his son - not one. He knew now what he'd known when he'd arrived: that Blair had been an anthropologist, an observer for the Cascade Police Department, and a teacher, and now worked at a club, the Deep Six, two blocks west of the Castro District.
He was putting his reputation and the good name of private investigators everywhere to shame.
"Your boss going to be okay with this time off?" he suddenly asked.
"Yeah, he's c-cool. Besides, I've work s-several shifts for some of the g-guys, they'll cover mine now."
"I still say you don't need to do this. There's no reason-"
At that moment, his phone pinged and, with an apologetic smile, he reached in and pulled it out. "Magnum."
"I hope you've found him because we'll finish jury selection today and the trial will start on Friday."
"Hello to you too, Beverly. And yes, I'm with him now but I'll have to call you later." With that, he hung up, not allowing any kind of response from his boss.
"Jury selection is about over and she thinks they'll start on Friday."
Blair immediately began stuffing containers back into the bag, knowing his private time with his father was over.
"Blair, there's no rush."
"We b-both know t-there is. T-today's Wednesday."
He couldn't argue the facts. Thomas had no choice but to help pack up. A few minutes later, with a now wide awake Joey taking the lead, they went back to the car.
Magnum pulled up in front of Blair's apartment house, shut down and turned to his son. "I'm going to take Joey for a bit of a walk, okay?"
He could tell by the expression that flitted across Blair's face that he wasn't fooling him, that Blair knew darn well that as soon as he left the car, Thomas would call Beverly back. He watched Blair school his features, smile and nod. He grabbed the picnic bag, slipped out of the car and, without looking back, started for his apartment.
Thomas watched as Blair went inside and, when the door shut behind him, Thomas pulled out his phone and punched in Beverly's number.
"Magnum, this better be you."
"It is. I couldn't talk with Blair sitting right next to me. Why didn't you tell me about the stutter?"
"Stutter? What stutter? What the hell are you talking about?"
"Blair's stutter. He's in no shape to testify, Beverly. Just what the hell happened to him in Cascade, anyway? He's so vulnerable, hell, almost fragile, that a stiff breeze would break him."
"Jesus, that's not the Blair Sandburg I know. He could talk you silly and without stuttering. And damn it, as far as testifying, the choice is out of our hands now. I've received some information - and don't ask about my source - that the Defense has actually managed to tie Blair to Crawford and, if that weren't enough, there's some kind of proof that Blair was actually involved with Kincaid. The entire defense strategy will be based on Blair controlling Kincaid in order to help Crawford milk his company out of all that money. It's going to come down to Blair's word against Kincaid's. We need him, Thomas."
"You don't believe any of that garbage, do you?"
"I've told you where I stand regarding Blair, but you're sounding pretty protective of a guy you've only just met."
"I...know him, now."
"Then you must want to protect his reputation as much as I do, not to mention keeping Kincaid off the streets. You're booked for American Airlines Flight 216, leaving SFO at six o'clock, arriving here at eight-thirty. I'll meet you. I've made reservations for Blair at the Connaught."
"Cancel them, he'll stay with me."
He could almost hear Beverly's sigh of relief.
"I'll do that. See you at the airport...and take care of him, all right?"
He said goodbye, pocketed the phone and glanced up at the apartment house.
There was just too damn much he still didn't know about his son. He got out of the car and, as promised, took Joey for his walk.
Beverly Sanchez hung up and, still staring at the phone, pondered what Thomas had told her. But no matter how much she turned it around in her mind, the idea of a frail Blair Sandburg just didn't fit. That was not the man she'd known. And a stutter? Never. So what the hell happened to him?
She thought back over the entire incident at the sports stadium, shivered at the idea of being alone with Garett Kincaid. Why had Kincaid kept Blair but sent Daryl to his father? That action had never made sense and was undoubtedly going to be the cornerstone of the Defense's entire case. God, she hoped Blair would be able to supply some answers tomorrow.
She gazed down at her short, but impressive witness list, specifically at Daryl's name. He was due in her office tomorrow at nine. Maybe he'd be able to shed some additional light on all of this before she met with Blair.
Walter Turnbull sat at his desk, comfortable in his corner office of the Turnbull Building. He regarded the man sitting across from him as he asked, "You're certain about this information?"
"Absolutely. Professor Sanderson worked with Sandburg at Rainier and confirms that Crawford specifically requested to meet Sandburg on not one, but two separate occasions. And yes, I received confirmation that Sandburg was fired for excessive absenteeism as well as failing to turn in the first chapter of his dissertation for review."
Turnbull steepled his fingers and nodded as he gave the man a small, tight smile. Things couldn't be better if Sandburg really had been involved in a conspiracy with Preston Crawford. Thanks to all the bits of information accumulated, they'd be able to shovel enough manure on Blair Sandburg that the jury would have no choice but to let Kincaid off. He'd muddy up a few facts, which was, after all, his job, and the jury would have the necessary 'reasonable doubt' required to bring back a 'not guilty' verdict. Damn, this was just too good. Even if they found Blair Sandburg, what could he say? No, he hadn't been a part of it? And who would they believe by the time he was done with the man?
He tapped a brown envelope and said, "You'd better be right, Mitchell. Kincaid is paying us a great deal of money to ensure his freedom and I, in turn, am paying you a great deal."
"No problem, Walter."
Sliding the envelope across the desk, Walter Turnbull, lead defense for Garett Kincaid, said, "Hope so, Mitchell. Hope so. You're dismissed."
Thomas watched the economy of movement as Blair packed, putting only necessities into the one duffel bag. When Blair was done, he then packed another bag full of Joey's stuff. It had taken several phone calls to the airline, not to mention the purchase of another ticket, to get Joey on board. He'd be in a carrier, but up front with them as opposed to in the baggage hold.
Frowning at the stiff movements of his son, Thomas had to admit, at least to himself, that he was worried about Blair, who hadn't said a word since he'd returned with Joey. Blair had simply looked at Thomas' expression before walking into his room to start packing.
Trying to ease the mood, and figuring that Blair would speak if it was about the puppy, he asked easily, "Why Joey?"
Blair continued to pack Joey's stuff even as he said quietly, "S-s-seemed t-to f-f-fit."
Shit, the stutter was worse.
"You're right, it does. He's definitely a Joey." He handed Blair the last of the toys on the bed and added, "Hey, you don't mind staying with me, do you? Beverly had reservations for the Connaught but I told her I'd like to have you at my place."
Blair stopped packing to lift his head and stare at Thomas, eyes searching his face. Apparently satisfied with what he found, he finally nodded and zipped up the second bag.
Thomas rubbed his hands together and said with forced gaiety, "Looks like we're ready to go. Cascade, here we come."
He hefted the duffel bag over his shoulder, picked up his own garment bag and watched as Blair carefully took the carrier and Joey's bag before following him out of the bedroom. Blair took a moment to make sure everything was off and nothing left undone before joining Thomas outside.
Once settled in the rental car, Thomas checked the directions Blair had written out for him, directions to the Deep Six, so that Blair could collect his paycheck. He'd already talked to his boss about the need to travel to Cascade and, as he'd predicted, his shifts were covered.
By six-fifteen, they'd boarded the plane and were taxiing down the runway.
As they traveled closer to Cascade, Blair seemed to withdraw into himself and nothing Thomas could say or do worked at bringing him out of it. Not that it stopped him from trying. Through the entire flight, he talked more about Lily, her classes, favorite teachers; her life. He shared even more island adventures and just about depleted his stored up tales of Rick, T.C. and Higgins. For Blair's part, he listened, Thomas was sure of that, but mostly just kept his hand in Joey's cage, petting him, soothing him, and maybe soothing himself with the motion.
Even as Thomas continued to talk, his mind just kept asking, "What the fuck had happened to Blair?"
Beverly met them at the airport as planned but, as Thomas and Blair deplaned, she got her first look at Blair and found herself barely able to conceal her horror at Blair's appearance. She hugged him, felt his bones through his clothing and, when he didn't speak, looked covertly over at Magnum, who shrugged. She cooed appropriately over the puppy even as she led the way out of the airport and avoided asking Blair anything that might make him uncomfortable.
Once on the road, she said, with a peek in the rearview mirror at Blair, "I've got you penciled in for tomorrow at ten, Blair. I'll need to prep you for the trial."
At the way his face paled, she decided a quick change of subject was needed. "You guys got here at the right time. We're actually supposed to have four days of real sunshine. A storm moved out yesterday evening."
"That's great," Thomas said as he thanked her with a covert look. "It was wet and foggy in the city by the bay."
Smiling, she said, "I've always wondered how you managed to acclimate yourself to Cascade after Hawaii. All that sunshine?"
"And rain," he said with a chuckle. "Only difference is the rain in Hawaii is warm."
Beverly glanced into the rearview again and noted that Blair was smiling - a good sign even if the smile was aimed at the puppy now out of its cage and sleepily attacking a button on Blair's shirt. She managed to drive and watch - and as she watched, she made a major decision: unless the interview tomorrow yielded more than she anticipated, she was ready to let Kincaid walk rather than put Blair Sandburg on the stand.
Thomas closed the door to the spare room and leaned wearily against it. Blair was finally asleep, something he'd doubted would happen. Earlier, as Beverly had driven them through the city, Blair had become somewhat agitated - an agitation that had only grown as the night went on. He supposed it was seeing his city again, something Thomas was pretty certain Blair had never planned on. Not to mention the prospect of the trial and tomorrow's interview with Bev.
He moved slowly into his own room, feeling every inch his age. As he sat down on the bed and started to remove his shoes, he felt only the slightest twinge of guilt at the fact that he'd spiked Blair's hot chocolate with an OTC sleep aid.
The only redeeming quality held by the coming of dawn was that maybe - just maybe - Blair's interview would finally disclose what had happened to change him from the young man Beverly had known to the man he was today.
On the other hand - did he really want to know?
Coffee, juice, toast. All untouched by Blair. Thomas carried the plate, mug and glass into the kitchen, dumped the uneaten toast in the trash, and rinsed out the dishes. Drying his hands, he checked the wall clock and almost groaned. It was nine-fifteen. Time to go.
"Blair, we've got to leave now," he said as he walked back into the living room.
Blair put Joey down and rose to his feet. He was dressed in jeans and a white oxford shirt. He picked up his black jacket and waited.
"You know, you've got to talk sometime," Thomas said as he grabbed his own jacket and keys. "Like in forty minutes, give or take."
Seeing the abject misery in Blair's eyes, Thomas couldn't stand it any longer. He took him in his arms. Palming the back of Blair's head, he murmured, "I swear it will be all right. I swear it, Blair. No matter what else happens, I have a son. One that I'm very proud of, by the way."
Blair said nothing, but Thomas was gratified when Blair brought his arms up and held him in return.
Thomas opened the door to Beverly's office and, with a comforting hand on Blair's back, guided him in. Marion Lee, Beverly's Assistant, moved immediately around her desk and, with open arms, greeted Blair.
"It's so good to see you again," she said as she hugged him. When she stepped back, she chastised gently, "You're way too thin, young man, but I'll soon fix that up."
Blair smiled, a genuine smile, and said, "Hi, M-marion."
Grinning, and with her eyes on Blair, she waved a hand in the direction of Beverly's office and said, "She's waiting for you, Thomas. I'll keep Blair company until she's ready for him. Her nine o'clock was late."
Looking at the two of them, at Blair's smile, he nodded, feeling good for the first time since leaving San Francisco. As he walked into Beverly's office, he could hear Marion offering Blair some chamomile tea. He was delighted to hear Blair answer her. Things were looking up.
While Marion prepared his tea, Blair took off his jacket and sat in the chair by the window, which afforded him a great view of Cascade. He gazed out at the vista before him and remembered, belatedly, that the building directly across from the courthouse and DA's office was the Cascade Police Department.
He let his gaze move up to the seventh floor, automatically counted windows and, staring hard, tried to see what was impossible to see at this distance, namely Jim. There was a good chance he'd be at his desk right now, maybe talking to Megan or Joel. Blair could envision him smiling, the smile that Blair used to crack jokes just to see, the smile that transformed that handsome granite surface into a warm, funny, inviting face. He missed that smile….
Blair turned abruptly away and plucked up a magazine.
When Magnum walked into Beverly's office, he found a young, good-looking black teenager, maybe seventeen, seated next to a woman who, by her resemblance to the boy, had to be his mother. They were both arguing and, just as he closed the door, Beverly finally seemed to get a word in.
"Joan, I think this will go faster if I talk with Daryl alone, all right?"
"Mom, go. Now. Wait outside."
"Mom, I'm serious. Go."
With an exasperated shrug, she got to her feet. "All right, I'll wait outside, but if there's any problem-"
"Mrs. Banks, I'm not the enemy, remember? We're all here to ensure that Garett Kincaid stays behind bars. Daryl and I will be finished soon, I promise."
Somewhat mollified, Joan Banks turned to go out the door Magnum had just come in, but Beverly stopped her. "Mrs. Banks, you can wait in my private waiting room, right through this door." She indicated the other door. "When we're done, I'll send him out to you."
Joan nodded and, with a final look at her son, walked out.
"Thomas, have you met Daryl Banks?"
He moved in, hand outstretched, and as they shook, Beverly introduced him.
"Thomas works for me, Daryl, and he'll be sitting in while we finish, if you don't mind?"
"No problem, and I apologize for my mother, but this has been very hard on her."
"I understand. Why don't we pick up from where we left off? You and Blair Sandburg had just seen your father taken prisoner by Garett Kincaid?"
Beverly hit the tape recorder as Daryl continued his story.
"Yeah, Blair was watching, counting the men surrounding us. Like I said before, we'd just come back from getting the hot dogs when everything went crazy. We couldn't get back to our seats because Blair didn't want to call attention to us so we ducked into the first row available. But that was too close to where Dad had been and that worried Blair. He thought Kincaid might figure Dad wouldn't be at a game alone, that maybe he'd guess I was there, and Blair was worried Kincaid would find me. At the first opportunity, we snuck away."
"Wasn't that even more dangerous?" Beverly asked, as much out of curiosity as because none of this was in any report.
"Blair said Orvelle had shown him a shortcut to the locker rooms and Kincaid didn't have that many men that he could really cover the entire stadium, you know? Anyway, there's this back exit and Blair was going to get me out and then try to help from within, except as we got closer, Blair realized that the players were being held in the room between us and the back exit. We couldn't go back, we could hear some of Kincaid's 'soldiers' behind us, so the only choice was to try to free the players. Blair made me hide while he got one of those hot dog carts." Daryl grinned then. "He was awesome. He pushed it right into the men who were guarding the hall leading to the locker room." Then his face clouded over. "He'd have made it too if Kincaid and his goons hadn't come around the corner behind me just then. With their guns on me, Blair had no choice."
Daryl had to stop then, trying to control his breathing as the memories flooded back. He finally looked up and grinned, somewhat self-consciously, and, at her smile and urging, continued.
"Two men grabbed me while two others grabbed Blair. Kincaid recognized us both and came up to me right away. He said that he'd bet I'd want to be with my dad and I remember nodding. The he turned to Blair and said something like, 'Ah, Mr. Natural, we meet again. But this time it'll be different.' He ordered two of his men to take me but just as we went around the corner, one of the men, a guy they called 'Lomax' told the other one to wait, he'd forgotten to find out something from Kincaid."
Daryl paused again and, because he looked suddenly very upset, Beverly did a little prompting. "Did you hear what Lomax and Kincaid said, Daryl?"
Daryl nodded but still didn't speak.
"What did they say?" she asked gently.
Taking a deep breath, Daryl said, "Lomax asked when…when he should 'do it' and Kincaid said as soon as he let all the spectators go, that was his cue to...execute...us."
The last word was whispered.
"What happened then, Daryl?"
"Lomax came back and I heard Blair pleading with Kincaid, telling him he would be making a big mistake, that maybe a lot of people were even on his side, but if he killed a young boy and several basketball players, the world would turn against him. Kincaid asked if maybe he and Blair could negotiate, that obviously he had something Blair wanted, our freedom, and that Blair had something Kincaid wanted...and that was all I heard - we were moving then, and a few moments later, I was shoved into a room and Dad was there."
Her tone gentle again, Beverly said, "Daryl, none of this is in any report."
"Dad did the paperwork because Mom took me to Portland the next day. I only got to see him once after we were all rescued and he wasn't worried about reports. Dad didn't believe there would even be a trial."
Beverly nearly snorted. Typical Simon Banks, not that she could fault him in this instance. And she could sympathize with his wanting to protect his son as much as possible.
"I never even got to say good-bye to Blair, you know? And Dad and I never really got to talk. But of course, you had Blair's statement."
"I understand, Daryl. And don't worry. I'm not sure when I'll actually get to you, probably not until Tuesday, but when I put you on the stand, you just tell the jury what you've told me, all right?" At his nod, she added, "When were you and the others actually released?"
"It happened at the same time as the release of all the spectators. I was so certain we were going to die, but they opened the door and we walked out and there was Joel, and we were alive, and I told them Kincaid still had Blair, and I was so afraid that he'd killed Blair instead of us, maybe he was so mad, from last time...but Jim and the others caught up to Kincaid and Blair was okay. I just wish I could have talked with him long enough to apologize and thank him. I tried to call, but, well, I was settling in and Mom was a wreck and I was having nightmares again…."
"It's okay, Daryl, I'm sure Blair understood. You did good. And don't worry, you'll do fine."
They talked a bit more as Beverly clarified a few more facts, but finally she let Daryl rejoin his mother, leaving her and Magnum alone.
"You looked pretty surprised more than once while he was talking," Thomas finally said.
"Hell, yes. As I said, none of that was in any report. Not Simon's or any of his detectives. My God, how the hell did Blair talk Kincaid out of killing Banks, his son and the five players, what on earth could he have said?"
"I don't know, but I don't like the sound of it, any of it, and I suspect if Blair comes in and tells us the truth, we'll hear a few more surprises. I'm just afraid that maybe I don't want to hear them."
"I understand. But at least we'll have a clue as to why Blair left."
Thomas nodded, again not at all certain he wanted to know.
Beverly picked up the phone and buzzed her clerk. "Marion, would you send Blair in, we're ready for him now. Thank you."
Blair entered Beverly's office and, without a glance at his father, sat down and waited.
"Blair, I'll try to make this as easy as possible, but you know the drill. Is there anything Marion can get for you, before we get started? Coffee, tea?"
"I'm f-fine. Let's just d-do it."
The stutter, as described by Thomas, was indeed noticeable, but oddly enough, it didn't detract from Blair, might even enhance his testimony. Beverly immediately chastised herself for being such a 'lawyer' when she should have been thinking of Blair, not about how a stutter, a symptom, might make him a better witness. Sometimes, her zeal truly frightened her.
She brought herself sharply back to the task at hand and marshaled her thoughts before finally saying, "I've already briefed Detective Ellison, Captain Banks, and the players. There have been several stipulations on both sides already, including the video of Kincaid taking over the stadium, which has already been accepted and acknowledged by the Defense. Since they're not contesting Kincaid's actions, but rather the reasons behind them, we'll be dispensing with the dozens of witnesses we could have called."
Beverly paused in her recitation, for both herself and Blair, knowing she was about to discuss the most difficult aspect of Kincaid's defense and his lawyers strategy. She fiddled with some papers in front of her, as she continued.
"His lawyers are going to attempt to tie you in with Preston Crawford and," she took a deep breath, "they're allowing Kincaid to testify. Information has come our way that he's going to say you and he…had a relationship. A sexual one. That he had…sex…with you."
Beverly had been twisting her pen around in her hand, but as she finished, she let it drop and finally made eye contact with Blair. He was staring at her, wide-eyed and pale, his breathing shallow.
Sweat had started to bead up on his forehead as he clenched and unclenched his hand. He cleared his throat and said, "I've n-never met C-crawford. I'm sure. I t-think he was v-very generous t-to the University, t-to m-my department in p-p-particular. B-but I n-n-never met him." Blair stopped and looked, for the first time, at his father before adding quietly, "And I d-d-did have…s-s-sex with K-k-kin-c-caid."
It took every ounce of willpower that Thomas Magnum possessed to keep from showing anything on his face other than complete support. He refused to allow his horror and fear from showing. He also fought back the urge to take his son and run. Instead, he simply smiled and nodded in encouragement as he moved from where he'd been standing in order to take the chair next to Blair.
It was obvious that Beverly was also struggling with her feelings and thoughts, her shaking hands a dead giveaway. She must have finally won because, in a voice that sounded strong, she said, "Blair, maybe you'd better just tell us, in your own words, what happened that day?"
He turned his attention back to her and nodded.
For the first few moments, his story paralleled Daryl's, but then he reached the moment when he and Daryl were separated and his voice and body language changed. He crossed his arms protectively over his chest and dropped his gaze from Beverly to his legs as he said, "I t-tried to c-convince him t-t-that k-killing them w-would b-b-be a b-b-bad thing...I'd been handcuffed and, when he p-p-pushed me up against t-t-the wall, w-wedged his kn-knee b-b-between my legs...and asked m-m-me if...if I'd b-b-be willing t-to negotiate for their release."
For Beverly and Thomas, the room seemed to fall away as, through Blair's words, they were suddenly there, at the stadium, with him and Kincaid.
End part 1