I fielded calls frantically all day. I told myself regrets would have to wait. My job was to help Captain Banks in whatever way I could. Lives were at stake, or least the futures, of two men I admired and cared for like family.
I remembered the day of the seminar for Administrative Assistants at Rainier. I'd been pleased to realize when I met her that Lisa Hayden was the secretary at Hargrove Hall. I'd thought it a great joke to pump her for information on Blair. I'd thought I might need some blackmail material some day. I'd thought a girl has to look out for herself with all those pranksters in the bullpen.
Lisa was a motherly type. She'd talked about Blair fondly and was quite open about the topic of his dissertation. I'd been upset at first when I thought that Blair was misleading everyone. Then Lisa had told me what little she knew of Blair's research. I'd managed to cover my surprise. I've had a lot of time to think, and several years to do my own observing of our observer. I've come to my own conclusions.
I stalked grimly to my desk. I should have done something. I should have said something. They should have known that they had friends here. Shouldn't they? Didn't they know they could trust me? But I'd never broken my silence had I? And they didn't dare.
I'd been Captain of the Bomb Squad at the time but I'd heard about Blair's miraculous rescue from Lash. I was there when Lee Brackett showed up, and wanted not only Jim, but Blair. That very first day that Blair showed up at the PD and Jim rescued him from Kincaid, Jim had called him partner. No one had been partner since Jack Pendergrast's disappearance.
It didn't take great detective skills. I'd talked discreetly to Blair's peers and friends. I used what everyone secretly calls my teddy bear charm to get people to warm up to me. The information was there, all I had to do was ask. Blair had never meant for it to be a secret until he met his sentinel.
But his sentinel was well aware of the risks. And when Brackett showed up, Blair learned a harsh lesson. Blair always seemed easygoing about everything but one: his dissertation research. He always seemed nervous about that. The boy doesn't lie well.
We stared at each other and paled when the realization hit. We should have spoken up partner. We messed up. They needed friends they could come to and we weren't there for them. Of course we knew there was something curious about their partnership. Ride-alongs last months, not years.
So we were goofing around late one night at the PD. We were dead tired and acting stupid. We did a Google search on Blair. That was an eye-opener. Article after article. There was stuff we downloaded that we could hardly read through without a specialized dictionary at hand, and we both have college degrees.
But sentinel came through to us. So did guide. We discovered we were well acquainted with those. And zone. A lot of things we'd seen had explanations now. We never questioned them, we just let them keep their secret. We never thought we'd regret that decision.
I knew he regarded me as his mentor. It thought it was just a polite fiction between Blair and I, that his subject would ... could ... remain anonymous. As a Professor I've had to deal with research on sensitive subjects before. I foresaw risks to the subject of Blair's research.
Ellison was a world weary ex-soldier and a police detective. I thought he knew, better than Blair or I, the problems he would face if his identity was divulged. I knew I should prepare Blair for the fallout if this blew up in their faces, but I didn't.
I also suspected Blair had become too close to his subject. Then why hadn't I stopped it? I think Blair might even have been relieved if I had.
How could I let this happen? Blair got too close to me, too. I let him continue because of friendship. I should have stopped him for the same reason.
I knew for some time. After my injury, I left my position with the CIA.
My arrival at Rainier was an attempt at a new career. I threw myself into my new work and tried to rebuild my life. The friendship offered by one very young grad student working on his Master's Degree, made a world of difference. His exuberance and intelligence, his thirst for knowledge and his love of life felt like a soaking rain on a bleak, parched, desert landscape. With his friendship I found I had the strength to move on.
Blair and I talked freely about many things, especially his thesis subject. Until he became a police observer. That was a telling anomaly. Blair liked that word obfuscate, but he'd never muddied the waters enough to hide it from me.
Then I'd met the sentinel. Jim is an honorable man. I know why the secret was kept and I have deep regrets. I should have counseled Blair, and Jim.
I know men that owe me favors. If ... when ... necessary I will call them in. I hope it will help. I hope it will be enough to save them from men worse than Brackett. Brackett only wanted money. They are worth the effort, both of them.
Dad called me today. I can't remember William Ellison ever sounding so frightened. I had seen the Press Conference that Blair gave. I'm stunned at the sacrifice he made. Dad told me the truth about Jim, and he wanted to warn me. He was afraid for us, and maybe for himself too.
But I had known for a long time about Jim. I couldn't grow up with a big brother like Jim and not know. After Mom left, Dad was always pitting one of us against the other. He said it would strengthen us. Was that forced competitiveness the reason I held my silence?
I heard that conversation the day Bud was murdered. I remember my shock when Dad called Jim a freak. And I still kept my silence, to my regret. What would it have meant to Jim to know I was on his side? That I was proud to be his brother? That I loved him?
I didn't know! //Oh, Naomi, at least tell yourself the truth even if you can't face Blair with it yet.// I knew.
I think of that ridiculous social convention “don't ask, don't tell”, so I didn't ask Blair if Jim was his subject. I was afraid he'd say yes. I was afraid that the sentinel was a cop. He told me about the companion that provides back-up, but I didn't believe he was cut out to be a cop. I thought I knew Blair. How could I not know?
My dear son, what can I do? His life is in shambles. My meddling forced him to destroy it. I raised Blair to be a moral and ethical human being, and I'm so proud of him. I only wish he could be proud of me.