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A Little Thing

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Simon absently played with the object on his desk. It was such a little thing. Hopefully it would make a statement. He hoped it would be a positive statement. Right now the kid needed something ... supportive. But what he wanted to 'say' to Blair, maybe that would be a mistake.

He was rather embarrassed that he hadn't thought of giving it to him before. Which made him fidget all the more because he felt, well, he felt guilty about the oversight. It definitely wasn't intentional. Sandburg had earned it many times over, with his friendship to Simon and to Daryl; with the risk to his own life when he and Jim came after them in Peru; for the help when his dear friend Peggy was murdered at his high school reunion.

And since Jim was Simon's friend, he felt that he owed him for Jim's life ... or maybe for his sanity. He'd finally come to understand that Jim's problems were nearly one of a kind. He sighed deeply, and thought what he wouldn't give to make that true. To wish away Alex Barnes would be a godsend. It would have saved all of Blair's friends a great deal of anguish if she'd never existed.

What he had to say to Blair would be impossible with Jim around so this would be a good time to meet with him. This afternoon Ellison was talking to the D.A. about his testimony for a case. The D.A. would keep him there for a couple of hours at least. He shook his head in disgust. The D.A. himself was handling this case because the Mayor's-wife's-cousin's-something-or-other was the injured party. Ellison had a fit when he found out.

Simon was watching when the kid walked into the bullpen. Sandburg had made it right on time for a change. Simon saw him glance around for Ellison, then he settled at the Detective's desk and started in on paperwork.

What Simon wouldn't have given to have an observer like Blair when he was a detective. Well, he made Ellison loan him Sandburg sometimes. Not too often because he couldn't afford to insult Rhonda. That woman was indispensable and he knew it ... and she knew it. It was institutionalized blackmail, that's what it was! But what was a poor Captain to do?

He walked to his door and bellowed, “Sandburg. My office.” He watched just long enough for the kid to lose a couple of papers on the floor when he startled at the summons. He couldn't watch too long because of the grin that took over his face. He schooled his features and gave a little cough to settle himself down. After all, this was a serious meeting.

He went to his coffeemaker and inhaled in delight. Coffee-as-vice ... he could live with that. He poured two cups as Blair entered. “Take a seat, Blair.” He forced back a grin because out of the corner of his eye he could see the kid nervously bouncing from one foot to the other. “SIT.” He put one cup on the front of his desk near the other chair and handed Blair the second cup. “Cream and sugar, right?”

“Oh, thanks, Simon. That's perfect. What's the occasion? Did Jim go out on a case? He should have called. He could have picked me up. I could have juggled some things around and made time to go with him. Hey, he's not hurt is he? Where is Jim? Simon, come on man. What's going on?”

Take a breath kid, he thought, “Sandburg, whoa. Hold up there. Jim's fine, he's just going over his testimony with the D.A. Since the Mayor's concerned about this case, he's being a real stickler. And I do mean that in a pain-in-the-ass way, but that goes no further than this office. Understand?”

The kid nodded and finally took a sip of his coffee. Simon thought he would relax now but Blair looked more stressed than before. The kid looked up and asked, “Then what's going on, Simon? You never call me Blair in the office. Is there some fallout over ... Alex, and the Sierra Verde operation?”

Simon sat in the second chair and took a moment to pick up his own coffee. “No. You helped finesse that report. It was out of our jurisdiction ... way out. But the crimes she committed were in Cascade and that was our jurisdiction. We cooperated with the locals down there, and got the nerve gas and Alex Barnes. Being successful definitely helps, kid.”

Blair nodded thoughtfully then asked softly, “Then is it about Jim and me? Is it time to pull my observer pass?”

Simon nearly snorted coffee, “Hell no! Kid ... Blair, we're all just so damn glad you're here and alive ... hell no!” He hastily set his cup on his desk. Then he watched as Sandburg looked everywhere but at him. His eyes, that told the story. He waited patiently for the kid to calm down.

When his eyes finally came back to Simon, “That is the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Simon. Thanks.”

“And I meant every word. Look, there are a couple of reasons that I called you in here. First, there's something I've been wanting to give you. It's no big thing. Jim has one and I thought it was past time to give you one, too.”

Simon reached across his desk to the tiny object he'd been playing with earlier. “Here it is. I'd like you to have this in case you need it.”

“A key? To what?”

“To my house. Like I said, Jim has had one for years. I should have given you one before this.”

Blair sat for a moment rubbing the key between his fingers like a talisman. He sighed, looked up and said reflectively, “But if Jim has one I probably wouldn't need it.”

“Blair ... you and I are friends. I want you to know that you have many friends here. I know that I can trust you, not just with my life, but with my son's life, too. And I want you to know that you have a place to go if you need it.”

Blair's voice cracked as he said, “You mean, if Jim ever throws me out again.”

Now it was Simon that couldn't speak. Maybe this had been a mistake. He reached out to rescue Blair's cup of coffee before it could tumble to the floor.

“Simon ... I appreciate this more than I can say. The key ... you may think it's a little thing, but it isn't. I know you would rather the sentinel stuff had never happened ...”

“No, Sandburg. If there was no sentinel stuff then I'd never have met you. Now, don't make me get any mushier. I don't know if either of us could handle that right now.”

Blair managed a small grin, “I think the mush is already knee deep in here, so you're probably right. But, thanks. It ... eases my mind, that I have such a good friend. Thanks.”

After putting Blair's cup safely on his desk, Simon leaned back in his chair. He had one more thing to talk to Sandburg about. “I know that it's not easy being in charge sometimes. It must make it much worse to be the expert, and the only expert at that. You don't have to wait for a crisis to come and talk to me. I don't know how much help I'd be, but I can listen and maybe offer some advice. And remember, I'm Ellison's boss. If there's a problem I can help with, I can pull rank on him.”

“He listens to you, Simon.”

“He listens to you, too, Sandburg. He just doesn't like to admit that he's dependent on you, on anyone. Just between you and me, he's admitted it to me.” Blair was surprised by that revelation. “I thought you weren't intimidated by the ex-Ranger/Covert Ops tough guy image?”

Blair seemed lost in thought, but then said pensively, “You didn't see him that night. He just tossed me out like an old shoe. Like he'd never given it a thought that I would be hurt, or that I'd at least like an explanation. What really surprises me is that I let him get away with it. You're right. Why didn't I stand my ground?”

“I think you must have been pretty surprised by the whole thing. And you were hurt. Anyone would be. That's when we start pulling back, so we don't get hurt any more.”

Blair nodded slowly, “Boy, I guess Jim and I are both good at that. I need to find out why he did that. What happened that made him push me out, push me away, like that.”

“I think having a talk would be a good thing to do. I think it's overdue. Why don't you head home. When Jim comes back from the D.A.'s office I'll send him home early. Take advantage of it and sit him down and start to sort this out.”

Blair actually smiled slightly, “I think this talking thing is a good idea. I'm glad we had this little talk. And you're right. Jim and I are overdue for one of our own. Thanks, Simon.”

“Oh, I expect my detective and his observer will work this out. The two of you are friends after all. Just remember that.”

“The three of us, Simon ... I remember who my friends are.”

End