Jim leaned against the wall in the hallway, listening to the conversation in the small break room across from him. If he worked on focus, the indistinct images on the other side of the wavy glass in the door resolved into Blair and a little girl. She was sitting on his lap, wearing a t-shirt, a denim jumper and Jim's best $500 leather jacket, a cup of detective-strength hot chocolate on the table beside her.
A few hours earlier the girl had been inside a locked closet in a run-down apartment, clutching a worn book and a dirty stuffed dog to her chest. The rest of the vacant apartment consisted of overturned, broken furniture, cocaine residue and the faint, lingering smell of marijuana smoke.
Whoever had brought the girl was gone; presumably the anonymous tipster that had called the Cascade PD had alerted either buyer or seller as well and the deal had been broken off just before the police had arrived. The lingering body heat in the room a sign to Jim that they had missed breaking the deal open by ten, fifteen minutes, tops.
The little girl spoke as she held out her book. "Read it again, Blair."
Jim shifted position slightly, looking through the narrow space provided by the open door, careful to keep himself out of sight in the hallway. He needed Blair to help him write up the reports from the case, but hated to interrupt Blair with the child. Social Services was coming for her and it would most likely be a traumatic scene for both of them.
Blair groaned playfully, but Jim knew, without a doubt, that even as his partner shook his head they were all in for another reading of Goodnight Moon. He'd been listening in on the first five readings from his desk, Blair's low murmur an interesting counterpoint to the normal sounds of the police station.
Jim relaxed to the sound of Blair's soothing voice, his tone almost musical, as he tipped the chair they sat in back against the wall and began reading to her about the great green room and the giant red balloon.
It wasn't surprising that after they found the girl, Blair had been the only one who was able to coax her out from her hiding place in the closet. She trusted him; trusted his voice and the words he was saying, and after she came out, Blair was the only one she would talk to. She described what her mom and dad looked like to him, what their friends looked like and what their names were. When it was time to go to the station and wait for Social Services, Blair was the only one she would ride in the car with. And now as Blair finished his sixth reading of the little girl's book, saying good-night to the stars and the air, it was his lap she was falling asleep in.
When Blair finished reading he closed the book, gently laying it on the floor next to them. The little girl stirred in his lap.
"Sing me a song," she said quietly, her small fingers twisting in the material of Blair's shirt.
Blair laughed softly. "Oh, no, no, no. No singing."
Jim smirked as the little girl blinked her big blue eyes at him.
"How about we read Goodnight Moon again?" Blair smiled hopefully, picking the book up off the floor.
She shook her head.
Jim watched as Blair reached down and gently pushed a lock of the girl's hair away from her eyes, the gesture so kind it nearly broke Jim's heart. Blair scrunched his face and pretended to think and the girl giggled, the sound floating on the air like a musical note.
"All right, all right. I don't know any songs, really," Blair muttered. "How about, Old MacDonald had a farm..."
She shook her head, interrupting Blair's quietly sung tune, and wrinkled her nose. "Too babyish."
"Oh. Ok. Hmm." Blair thought for a moment, then smiled. "Ok. How about this. There was a farmer....."
"Blair," Jim snickered as the little girl held up a hand and covered his partner's mouth. "I'm five."
"Ahhh. I see. Well that explains everything." Blair teased and she laughed again. He thought for another minute. "Ok. How about this one? My mom used to sing this to me." Blair's voice was soft and deep, the sound floating on the air like a warm breeze. "It's raining....."
"But, it's not raining out," she interrupted.
Blair snorted. "It's always raining in Cascade. Now Ssh." When she was quiet he started again. "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man, is snoring....."
Jim smiled as the little girl began to quietly sing along with him. "Bumped his head, went to bed, couldn't get up in the morning. Rain, Rain. Go away. Come again some other day."
With her head lying against Blair's chest, the little girl closed her eyes as he continued to quietly sing and hum the old nursery rhyme. After a few minutes Blair looked up and spotted Jim standing outside of the room.
"Oh, hey, man. Sorry," he whispered. "Do you need me for something?"
Jim thought of the reports, barely started and waiting on his desk, and then looked down at the small body, sleeping quietly in his partner's lap. As if she felt Jim's gaze, she lifted her skinny arm and wrapped it around Blair's middle, holding him in her sleep.
"Nah, I'm good, Chief," Jim said, quietly, then cleared his throat. "I think someone here needs you more."
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