Notes: This just flowed. Thanks to Monglow11066 for the beta.
It was the middle of the day and Jim was working quietly at his desk when his cell phone rang. Recognising the number, his eyes lit up; it was Blair.
“Chief? How’s everything in Cheyenne? Naomi teaching you new meditation techniques?”
There was silence from the other end and Jim dialled up his hearing. His guide and best friend was trying to control his breathing but wasn’t being very successful.
“She’s dead, Jim.” Jim could hear the grief in Blair’s voice and he immediately sat up straight.
“Oh Chief.” Jim tried to relay all the comfort he could but it wasn’t easy over the phone. “What happened? Can you tell me?”
All around him, the other detectives picked up on his tension and stopped what they were doing to listen to Jim’s side of the call.
“It was an accident.” Blair’s breathing hitched. “One minute we were driving along, then the tyre blew and the next minute we were in a ditch.”
“Are you hurt? Do you want me to come out there?”
“No, I got out without a scratch.” Jim could hear the sob in Blair’s voice and ground his teeth in frustration. “You’re in the middle of the Grant case, anyway.” He just caught the rest of Blair’s sentence.
“I can talk to Simon, Chief, he’ll get one of the others to take over. I can be there in a few hours.”
“No, honest, Jim. There’s nothing you can do. I’ll be home in a couple of days. It shouldn’t take me long to make the arrangements.”
“Well, if you’re sure.”
“Call me if you need anything.”
“I will, thanks Jim. Just talking to you has helped a lot.” Blair ended the call and Jim sat at his desk staring into space for a few seconds before closing his cell phone, cutting his end of the connection.
“Jim?” It was Joel’s quiet concern that got through his mini-zone. “Has something happened to Blair?”
There was a chorus of protests and questions and the commotion brought Simon out of his office.
“All right people, get back to work. Jim, my office.”
Jim followed Simon and closed the door behind him.
“What’s Sandburg done now?”
“Naomi’s dead, Simon.” Jim ran his hands over his head. “I should be there with him.”
“My god! What happened?”
Jim filled him in and Simon listened without interruption before getting up and pouring them both a coffee.
“If I could I’d let you go, but a few minutes ago I got a call from the DA. They’ve brought the Henderson trial forward a week; they want you in court tomorrow.”
“Has Sandburg got anyone with him?”
“He was so excited about this trip, Simon. It was a reunion of sorts with people he and Naomi lived with in a commune when he was ten. He said they were a real family and they’ve kept in touch via letters and emails but this was the first time they’d met face to face since that time.”
“Then he’s in good company.” Simon sat down. “He’ll have our support when he gets back and I could make an appointment with a grief councillor if you think that would help.”
“I’m sure it would. Thanks Simon.”
Joel was waiting with the others when he came out and he was forced to repeat the details for them all.
“Do you know when he’ll be back, Jim?” Joel asked.
“Saturday.” It was Wednesday today.
“Should we send flowers?” Megan asked. “Sandy’s never really said what religion they follow.”
“He’s…I mean, they were a little bit of everything. He once told me he didn’t believe in sending flowers that would be dead in a few days. He said planting a tree to commemorate the life of the person was a much better idea.”
“Then that’s what we’ll do.” Joel nodded along with the others.
“Hey, maybe we could have a wake.” This was Henri’s suggestion.
“That’s a great idea. Most of us have memories of Naomi that we could share.” Jim agreed. “We’ll have it Saturday night and on Sunday go out to the Heights to plant the tree.”
Blair was understandably subdued when he let himself into the loft mid-morning on Saturday. Jim was there waiting and immediately wrapped him in a welcoming hug which Blair returned.
“Come and sit down, Chief.” Jim led him to the sofa. “I’m sorry I couldn’t come to you, the Henderson trial was brought forward.”
“I understand Jim. I was with friends anyway.”
“Um, you want to talk about it?”
“You want to talk?”
“If it would help.”
Blair sighed and laid his head against the sofa back.
“No offence Jim, but there isn’t really a lot to say. I know you never really liked her.”
“Chief! I never said…” He stopped as Blair held up a hand.
“She was high maintenance, Jim, we both know that. But I loved her and I never begrudged the money.”
Jim knew Blair was referring to the times Naomi had contacted him, most of the time short of cash and confident that Blair would come through for her, even if it meant he had to survive on pasta for the rest of the month.
“That’s all in the past now, Chief.” Jim sat back as well and looked at Blair who had his eyes closed. “Look, the guys at the PD want to throw you a wake. It’s a tradition when we lose one of our own. We can share memories with you, help you through it.”
Blair opened his eyes and turned to look at Jim in amazement and gratitude.
“I can’t believe all of you would do that for me, Jim.”
“Why don’t you go rest, they’re all coming at about seven tonight.”
“Okay.” Blair moved off the sofa and went to his room. He paused in the doorway and whispered
“Thanks, Jim” before closing the door behind him.
Everyone brought a plate of food so that neither Jim nor Blair had to do anything, although Jim had gone out for the beer.
“Sandburg seems to be enjoying himself, Jim.” Simon was out on the balcony enjoying a cigar.
“He was down earlier on, but he’s bounced back a bit now. He was a bit overwhelmed when I first told him; he couldn’t believe we would do this for him. What does that say about us?”
The drinks had been flowing freely and it was H who started reminiscing.
“Hey, do you remember when you, Jim and Naomi went undercover on the car-jacking case?”
Blair grinned in remembrance.
“Yeah, man, those cars were hot. I even got some legit contacts for spares for the Corvair I had then.” This was for the benefit of Megan who hadn’t been around then. “Actually, it was that which gave me the idea of selling off her parts.” He didn’t notice the sudden silence from everyone.
“Sandy?” Megan wondered if she should stop him.
“Yeah, the clinic told me how much I could get and I couldn’t believe it! I got enough to see me through the next semester, I can buy those textbooks I’ve been after and I can put a down payment on a new car. I thought I’d go for another classic.”
“Uh oh.” Jim heard a comment about Blair being a callous little shit and decided he’d better stop the trouble that was about to start.
He reached Blair just as his cell phone rang.
“Excuse me.” Blair answered it and a smile broke out on his face. “Hi, Naomi.”
The muttering stopped and everyone looked at Jim, who dialled up his hearing. He could hear Naomi’s distinctive tones and realised he’d made a terrible mistake.
From the look of Simon, he realised as well and was calculating the cost of the therapist, the tree and the humiliation when everyone at the precinct found out.
Jim had a sinking feeling that he’d be getting the shittiest cases from now on. Mind you, he was going to make sure that little shit of a partner of his was right there with him.
“Hey, Mom, can you believe it? The guys are throwing a wake.”
Blair was starting to bounce, ignoring the looks Jim was getting. “I mean, whoever thought of throwing a wake for a Volvo?”
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