Coercion - Indeterminate Territory III

By Polly

"That was the chief," Simon said, hanging up the phone and easing himself back into a more comfortable position. It was only the second day he'd been allowed out of his hospital bed and into a chair. If he were lucky he'd be discharged tomorrow, and Simon Banks knew very well exactly how lucky he was just to be alive.

He looked up at his friend, and caught the intense, focused concern on Jim's face as the sentinel watched his movements.

"Ellison, will you quit worrying? I'm going to be fine."

"We're all going to be fine," Joel put in with a gentle pat to Jim's shoulder. "We can make this work. What did the chief say?"

"Thanks to Jim's little demonstration earlier, he's willing to give a statement to the press that will confirm that Blair was acting on behalf of the department when he said his thesis was a fraud, and if Blair will take firearms training and go to the Academy we can offer him a place in Major Crime as a detective."

"I don't know if Blair will go along with it." Jim's voice was almost a whisper as he turned his attention to the floor.

"You'll never know if you don't give him the choice," Joel pointed out, exchanging a worried look with Simon that passed over Jim's head.

There was a knock at the door, which swung open to reveal an unexpected visitor. Charlie Spring poked his head in, his expression anxious and strained at it fixed on Jim.

"There you are, Detective. We need to talk," he told Jim, then nodded politely at Simon. "Captain Banks."

"Come on in, Charlie. There's nothing you can't say in front of Simon and Joel," Jim said tiredly. Charlie frowned but entered the room; nervously taking in Jim's recently acquired cane as well as Simon's bandages.

"Charlie Spring, psychic," he said, briskly shaking Joel's hand. "I don't think we met last time I was in town. Looks like the Cascade PD rehabilitation society in here. Where's Blair? Wait, that doesn't matter right now. Look, Detective Ellison, I know something you need to know. Did you know there are four kinds of people? Three kinds to be cultivated and one to be avoided. No, wait. Three to be avoided and one to be cultivated. That's it. People who don't know that they don't know, people who know that they don't know, those who don't know that they know, and you cultivate the ones who know that they know. Arab proverb. And I know what I know. I know about Blair and I know what Naomi did and-"

"Charlie, slow down," Jim held up a hand as the shorter man rambled on frenetically, getting more wound up by the second. "It's okay. Blair is taking another injured detective home and he won't be back for a while... and we know what Naomi did, and why."

"Who's the psychic here, you or me? You mean you- oh, wait. Wow. It is true, you really are a- a- what is it called, a-"

"A sentinel. Charlie, what are you on?" An exasperated Jim asked and interrupted the splutter. Charlie gave him a dirty look but quieted, visibly taking a calming breath before responding.

"Okay. You know. That's good. Because I was going to tell you. She may be able to live with this on her conscience, but I can't. You and Blair helped me straighten myself out at a time when I was in danger of losing my gift. I'm not going to risk it again. I'm willing to tell Blair what Naomi said to me on the phone. That's why I'm here."

"That's the one thing we're trying to avoid," Simon said quietly, drawing Charlie's attention. "Blair would be devastated if he found out his mother deliberately released his dissertation just to separate him from Jim."

"Yeah, yeah, you're right. But he can't go with her. I've seen- I got a hit right after I talked to Naomi- you know, I told you about those. It'll be bad news if he goes with her. Bad for him and bad for you, Detective."

Jim gave the psychic a surprisingly indulgent grin.

"I don't need to see the future to know that's true, Charlie, but thanks for the warning."

"No, you don't get it. I mean, bad as in d-e-a-d bad. Kick the bucket, buy the farm-"

"We get it!" Joel burst out as Jim became progressively paler. "We get it, okay?"

"So, you gotta get Blair to stay in Cascade. He needs to stay here," Charlie insisted doggedly.

"We have a plan, if we can just keep Naomi from convincing Blair to leave with her before all the details are arranged," Simon said to Charlie's nod of comprehension.

"You leave Naomi to me. I'll make sure she goes along with whatever you're planning."

"How are you going to do that?" Joel wondered curiously, and Charlie gave them all a grim smile.

"I'm going to tell her that I've told you all the truth, and I'll tell Blair next if she doesn't back off and let him live his own life. She'll say he won't believe me over her, but I have an ace in the hole."

Charlie Spring reached into his jacket pocket and fished out a mini-cassette tape.

"The whole conversation, gentlemen... and this is just a copy."

2 July, 04

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