Little Boy Lost
Blair pulled himself to his feet and dragged a flannel sleeve across his mouth. He shook his head as he turned away from the pool of vomit. He leaned forward, hands on thighs, and took several deep breaths, filling his lungs with fresh air. He still felt weak in the knees, but he shakily made his way back to the crime scene.
The area was filled with people, all eerily quiet as they went about their jobs...taking pictures…collecting evidence…carefully zipping the small body into the black bag.
Blair looked for Jim, but he was nowhere in sight.
He asked the uniformed officers where the detective was. An ashen-faced rookie pointed Blair in the direction he'd seen Jim take.
Blair walked across the playground toward the tree line. Two EMT's were escorting a hysterical young woman to a car. Blair stopped for a moment as they crossed his path. He hugged himself, and looked at the ground, wishing he could put the sight of the little boy out of his mind, hoping the mother hadn't seen.
When he looked up again, he spotted Jim. The detective was on the ground, sitting with one leg folded awkwardly under him. The other leg was upright, knee bent, with the foot flat on the ground. He was holding something; and he was sitting very still.
"Oh shit," Blair muttered. He ran to Jim and dropped to his knees next to his friend.
"Jim?" Blair leaned in, and sighed in relief as Jim blinked and returned his gaze briefly before looking down at the object he held.
Blair looked at it too and shuddered.
"I had a truck just like this when I was a kid," Jim whispered. He held the toy firmly in both hands, one thumb idly tracing a smooth metal edge. The rubbing motion smeared the blood across the gold paint.
"Jim," Blair asked hesitantly, "What're you doing? That's evi…"
"I'm useless," Jim spat out. His blue eyes flashed with pain. "I'm a detective, goddam cop of the fucking year, a sentinel," He ground out. "And I can't catch this bastard."
"Awww, Jim, man, don't do this," Blair pleaded. He eased himself onto his butt and inched closer to Jim. He draped an arm over Jim's shoulders and pulled him close, crooning soft words of strength and consolation into his sentinel's ear.
Jim dropped his head onto Blair's chest and let his guide comfort him.
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