It Rolls Downhill
Story Notes : Part four of the Beau Geste series.
Rating: PG, language
Category: still mostly gen but beginning to lean to the slashy.. Hmm, guess that makes it pre-slash!
Summary: The press conference we *should* have seen.
Notes: There's going to be at least one more part, maybe two... That could be construed as a warning, I suppose. I do want to send out a Happy Turkey Day! to those who celebrate it, and say thanks for you all, as well as Becky's Sentinel transcripts for being the invaluable resource that they are, which I meant to say in my previous post... but, enough of that.
"I have a short statement to make then I'll take a few questions," Commissioner Mooney said as he moved to the dais, a formidable figure with his white hair, dark eyes, and bluff features. He glared at the assembled media and cleared his throat.
"One of the hallmarks of democracy is the power of a free press, and while it has never been the policy of this department to mislead or censor the media, I am here today to inform you that such a deception did indeed take place."
Several reporters began shouting at once. Joe Mooney crossed his arms and lifted one autocratic white eyebrow, waiting with visible impatience for the furor to subside; which happened with remarkable speed, considering.
"Are you finished? Very well. Earlier this week, the Cascade Police Department was involved in what became a life and death struggle to save Jack Bartley from becoming the target of Klaus Zeller. Due to interference in the investigation by the press - yes, I mean you - Zeller eluded capture, and almost succeeded in assassinating Bartley. A number of good people, my people, were consequently injured. Let me make this clear. I am not a happy man, ladies and gentlemen."
The sheer amount of scorn in Mooney's voice was astonishing, and the little group inside Major Crime's break room looked at each other with surprise.
"Damn, I was hoping he'd run for mayor next year," Joel muttered.
"I'd vote for him," Naomi startled them all by saying, undeterred by Simon's impatient "Shush!"
"In an effort to draw media attention away from this department, one of my men called a press conference and publicly declared himself a fraud. That man is Blair Sandburg, civilian observer to Major Crime."
"One of his men!" Blair exclaimed, swaying unsteadily.
Jim shouted for H, who helped him shove Blair into a chair before Blair could fall... accompanied by another outburst from the reporters at the press conference, who were also shouting. One voice rang out in the crowd; Don Haas, volume no doubt enhanced by his sound man.
"Are you saying Blair Sandburg lied when he said his thesis was fraudulent?"
"Had you done your job correctly and verified your sources," Joe Mooney roared back, "you would have easily discovered that the source material was NOT Blair Sandburg's dissertation. He never submitted it as such. It was a work of fiction, he said so himself!"
"President Mitchell, is that correct?" Haas, again, barely audible this time.
Anderson Mitchell stepped up to the mikes and waited until the noise level dropped. It took a few moments.
"Commissioner Mooney is correct. Blair Sandburg did not commit fraud because he did not submit the material in question as his dissertation. Rainier University stands behind Mr. Sandburg in this matter."
"Holy shit," Blair whispered, head in his hands. Jim patted him awkwardly on one shoulder while Naomi was crouched at his other side, and neither knew what to say.
Someone asked a question that no one but Jim could hear. His head lifted sharply and he shook Blair to get his attention.
"Yes, that's also correct. Former Chancellor Marie Edwards is no longer employed by Rainier University," Mitchell said evenly to Blair's audible gasp.
"Commissioner Mooney, does this mean that Jim Ellison really is a sentinel?"
"Absolutely not. Doesn't the word 'fiction' mean anything to you people? What it means is, a young man was ready to sacrifice his professional career and his reputation to help protect the citizens of this city from the likes of Klaus Zeller... an act that wouldn't have been necessary if you'd bothered to confirm your sources and behave like journalists instead of muckrakers."
"You go, Joe," H breathed out, turning to give Rafe a high five. "The Commish has stones!"
"Where is Blair Sandburg now?" Don Haas asked, and Mooney grinned, his first since the press conference began.
"Mister Sandburg is in Major Crime, where he's being offered a permanent position. It's my hope he will accept, so his integrity and resourcefulness will continue to be an asset to this department." That grin faded into a fierce glower. "Let me make one other thing perfectly clear. I will not countenance further harassment of Mister Sandburg, Detective James Ellison, any member of Major Crime, or their families. Conduct yourselves accordingly or be prepared to face the legal consequences."
"What about Sid Graham's allegations that-"
"I think you'll find that Berkshire Publishing has elected to settle this matter out of court and that Sid Graham has been fired from their employ... and that is all. Good day."
Mooney and Mitchell walked away, ignoring any more shouted questions. The scene changed to a studio anchor, who looked vaguely bewildered as she said something about surprising new developments and going to commercial. Rafe switched off the TV and all eyes turned to Blair, who was staring at the blank screen with an even blanker look on his face.
"Hairboy, you speechless?"
"Chief? You okay?"
"I don't know," Blair said slowly, rubbing his eyes. "Am I really here, or am I dreaming this?"
"Snap out of it, Sandburg." Simon reached over and pinched his arm.
"Ouch! Okay! But what did he mean about Berkshire settling out of court? I didn't- Jim?"
"Wasn't me, Chief. I think I have some ideas on who it could be, though. Let's take a ride."
Jim held out a hand that Blair took unselfconsciously as he stood, levering himself up like a man who'd been knocked to the ground. When he tried to pull his hand away, Jim refused to release it, and their audience watched with open grins as Jim towed Blair out of the room.
"D'ya think Jimbo's gonna hold Sandy's hand all the way to the garage?"
Out in the corridor, Blair was wondering the same thing.
"Jeez, man, why don't you use your cuffs?" He finally snarled as Jim hauled him into the elevator. Fortunately, they were alone in the car. Jim released his hand, but grabbed him by the arm.
"You're freaking out here, Sandburg. Did you think I wouldn't notice?" Jim gave a huge sigh, too aware of that hammering heartbeat and the overwhelming smell of fear. "Look, I could be wrong, but I think my dad had something to do with this, and if I'm going to see him I need you with me."
"Well." Blair stared at the floor. "That's... a little more honesty than I'm-"
"-used to hearing from me. I know. Come on, Chief, give me a break here."
Blair took a deep breath, then another, and completely unable to resist the temptation, Jim murmured "I am relaxed. I am relaxed."
To his relief, Blair laughed.
"Your jerk," Jim corrected, daring greatly, and won himself that beautiful, matchless, Sandburg smile.
"Yeah. Mine." The elevator opened onto the parking garage, and Blair put his hand on the small of Jim's back. "Together?"
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