Sequel to Knowledge
Notes: Set shortly after TSbyBS.
Blair pulled over to the curb and turned the Volvo off. Crossing his arms on the steering wheel, he leaned his head against them wearily. God, he was tired. He wasn't sure he could even remember the last time he *hadn't* been tired. Maybe before the fountain?
Since the whole mess with the diss, though, he wasn't merely tired; he seemed to be living in a permanent state of exhaustion. Just clearing out his office had seemed an insurmountable challenge until Jill had called and volunteered to help. Even with her along to run interference, being on campus had been a distinctly uncomfortable experience. Facing the varying reactions - scorn, anger, pity, bewilderment, disappointment - of his peers and students had been... difficult.
He really hadn't needed yesterday's nasty little scene with Jim on top of everything else.
Rubbing his throbbing temples, Blair tried to find the energy to get out of the car and go knock on Simon's door. Maybe he should just forget about this for today. He'd been up half the night talking his situation through with Jill, then he'd spent the day helping out at her shop. Maybe he should call Simon back and reschedule for tomorrow.
No, he decided reluctantly. Tempting as the thought might be, there was no point in delaying the inevitable. He'd always known that he'd have to turn the offer down, that even if he *wanted* to accept it - which was an entirely different question and one that, under the circumstances, there was no real point considering - there was simply no way that he could join the force without raising a lot of ugly questions about the whole dissertation debacle. Shit, he'd never taken the academy deal seriously in the first place. He'd thought that Simon had intended it as a gesture of support and appreciation rather than a serious job offer.
Of course, he'd thought that the impossibility of the situation would have been clear to Jim as well, and he'd obviously been dead wrong about *that*.
Blair jerked upright, startled by a sharp rap on the side window. Simon gave him a halfhearted scowl and motioned for him to get out of the car. Blair complied silently, following him as he slowly and carefully made his way back into the house.
Settling himself gingerly into a straight-backed chair, Simon invited, "Have a seat, Sandburg."
Blair shook his head. "No need, this won't..."
"Sit," Simon barked impatiently, pointing towards his couch.
"Sit, Sand..." Simon stopped abruptly and gave an exasperated sigh. "Blair, please. Sit."
Surprised by the Captain's rare use of his first name, Blair sat. "Simon, this really won't take long. I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate the job offer but I can't accept it. It won't work, and I think you already know that."
Simon grimaced. "As things currently stand, no, it wouldn't. But my understanding is that you didn't actually submit the paper, so surely the university can be forced to issue a statement to that effect. No submittal, no fraud..."
"Too little, too late, Simon, and you know it. The defence would still be out for blood in court; the DA would need a rock-solid case just to *consider* taking anything I'd worked on to trial. My every move would be under close scrutiny."
"I won't deny that it would be difficult, Sandburg, but you've never been one to back down from a challenge."
Blair couldn't quite keep the bitterness out of his tone as he responded, "Yeah, well, there's a difference between a challenge and a lost cause, Captain. My windmill-tilting days are over."
Frowning, Simon protested, "It wouldn't be a lost cause. You'd have Jim, me, Connor - hell, all of Major Crimes - behind you..."
"Oh really? Just like I did before my press conference? Or during the Ventriss case?" Jim's support had been missed the most, but he hadn't exactly been overwhelmed by support from the rest of the department either.
"You were a civilian observer, not..." the Captain defended.
"Not a cop. I know, I know," Blair said wearily. "Okay, fine. Just for argument's sake, let's pretend that me being a cop would magically earn me everyone's support and make Jim stop believing the worst of me. Let's pretend that I go to the academy, pass the required courses, get my shield, and jump straight into a spot in one of the most coveted departments in the PD. Let's pretend too that no one in the PD resents that or questions it. You're a detective too, Captain Banks, so tell me - what is me being Detective Ellison's partner going to say to the outside world?"
Simon was only taken aback for a moment before rallying, "Nothing that you still being his roommate isn't already saying."
"Yeah, well that's something he and I are going to have to discuss," Blair said grimly. "Soon." And gee, he was *so* looking forward to that conversation.
Alarmed, Simon leaned forward abruptly, wincing as he did so. "Sandburg, what are you..."
Blair held up his hand and shook his head. "Don't bother asking, because I don't know yet. What happens next is going to depend on Jim."
Well, some things would anyway. There were certain things that he'd have to do no matter what the results of his discussion with Jim might be. He did actually have to clear up the mess over the unsubmitted dissertation, for one thing. It probably wouldn't have much impact on his credibility either with the academic community at large or with regards to joining the police force, but it would protect him from being in serious financial trouble over the various scholarships, loans, and bursaries that he'd benefited from over the years.
Jill had pointed out that he couldn't let Sid get away with what he'd done, either. It wouldn't be fair to other writers that Sid might try to take advantage of in future. Not to mention, she'd observed casually, that letting Sid off scot-free, instead of suing for millions as most people would certainly do, would seem rather odd. Almost as if Blair had something to hide.
She'd had a point. A good one.
Simon shifted in his chair, his injury clearly bothering him despite his attempts to ignore the discomfort. "Sandburg..." he began again, looking concerned.
Rising to his feet, Blair said quietly but firmly, "Let it go, Captain Banks. As things stand, I can't be a cop, but thanks for making the gesture. I appreciate it." Only half joking, he continued, "I'd better get back to the loft before Jim decides I've flown the coop permanently. Goodbye, Simon." With that, he was out the door without even giving Simon a chance to respond. There really was nothing more for the two of them to discuss. What remained would have to be settled between him and Jim.
It was time to open Pandora's box and find out what was in there once and for all. As he'd told Simon, he was through tilting at windmills. Time to grow up and face reality.
However disappointing it might be.
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