[personal profile] starwatcher_fic

Title: You Damned Well Better
Summary: Missing scene for TSbyBS.
Style: Gen
Size: 2,930 words, about 6 pages in MS word.
Warnings: None
Notes: Written March 2004. My thanks to Arianna, for a super-fast beta and some very useful suggestions. Her input helped improve the story considerably.
Feedback: Not necessary, but every comment is treasured.
Email: If you prefer not to post a note that everybody can see, you can reach me at starwatcher -at- dreamwidth.org

You Damned Well Better

by StarWatcher

"Captain Banks! How dare you have one of your bully boys haul me in here like some common criminal? I knew you were just like all the rest!" The redheaded whirlwind angrily shook off the hand of the officer who had 'escorted' her -- forcibly -- from the loft to Cascade PD, and glared at the man in front of her. She disregarded the little internal voice that suggested the man in the wheelchair still looked enervated from his stint in the hospital, and maybe she should moderate her reactions. "I won't stand for this; you have no right!" She expanded her glare to include her son's so-called 'friend', who was resting a hip on the side of the captain's desk, apparently in support of whatever the man intended to say. Naturally; pigs always shared the same mud-puddle. "If you think I won't --"

"Ms. Sandburg!" Simon thundered, slapping a large hand on the desk and effectively silencing her -- for a moment. "If you will listen for just a few minutes, we have a proposal we want you to consider."

"And you know, Naomi, if you'd simply come in as we asked, we wouldn't have had to send someone for you." Jim's tone was remote; he had promised Simon not to lose his temper, but he was still seething at the repercussions from her thoughtless, stupid actions.

"Jim! That's enough!" Simon ordered. "Now, Ms. Sandburg..." He moderated his tone with an effort. "...if you'd please have a seat, we'll discuss our idea."

Reluctantly, warily, she seated herself. Whatever these pigs wanted couldn't be good. "Fine, Captain, say your piece. I want to be there when my son gets home. He said he'd only be at Rainier for an hour or so."

He nodded. "Understood. But your son is what we want to talk about. Are you aware that the university fired Blair?"

"What? No! He didn't say anything..." She gaped at the men across from her.

"Well he wouldn't, would he?" Jim grated. "I had to find it out from Jack Kelso, a professor who's one of his friends. Frankly, you and I have done a pretty good job of trashing his life, Naomi, so we have to find a way to help him fix it."

She bristled, indignant. "How dare you! All I did was ask an old friend for advice."

"And support him instead of your son when he kept pushing harder against Blair's resistance, and support the university when they invited a pack of reporters in instead of mentioning that you knew Blair didn't want any notice taken of the situation, and work behind the scenes to bring the Nobel prize committee into the mess when -- again -- your son had specifically asked you to do nothing. Where was your head, Naomi? You couldn't have caused a bigger mess if you had tried!"

"Me!" she flared. "What about you?! You're the one who wouldn't let him explain, you're the one who told him you didn't trust him anymore! It was you he gave that dreadful press conference for."

Ellison's gaze bored right through her with all the warmth of an arctic iceflow. "Guilty," he growled. "And I'll be kicking myself for the rest of my life. But we can't go back; all that's left is to go forward."

"Exactly!" Naomi's voice dripped with satisfaction. "I'll persuade him to come traveling with me, and we can leave all this unpleasantness behind. I think Nepal; there's a commune there near a temple where people can visit daily for spiritual peace and enlightenment. He'll forget all this nonsense about running around with the -- police." Her lip curled with derision.

"'Nonsense'? Dammit, Naomi, he's the best partner I could ever want, and I told him so! Why do you keep belittling him? You raised a strong, capable, honorable man, and you treat him like he's ten years old. He's been standing on his own two feet for a helluva long time, but you refuse to see it! What the hell good is spiritual peace and enlightenment if you keep him tied to your apron strings and don't let him DO anything with it?"

"And I suppose being your shadow is so wonderful? Spiritual peace and enlightenment is better than being kidnapped or beat up or shot, however much it doesn't fit into your narrow little view of life." She was seething, her face reddening unattractively. "Believe me, the sooner I get him out of here, the better off he'll be!"

Ellison's voice was flat, final. "He can't go. I need -- we need him here."

"Can't? Of course he can! I'll --"

"Ms. Sandburg," Simon interrupted smoothly. He'd been content to let Jim ruffle Naomi's feathers with some hard-hitting truths; if she were off balance, she might be more receptive to their plan. Now it was time to play 'good cop' to Jim's 'bad cop'. "I understand that you want what's best for Blair; we do, too. We just want to offer him an option, give him a choice. But we wanted to discuss it with you privately, first, which is why I instructed Officer Donelly to watch for Blair to leave the building before he brought you here. If we can reach an agreement, it will help prevent any more stress for Blair."

Naomi's angry glare eased somewhat, and she relaxed slightly in her chair, but still maintained an air of suspicious alertness. She nodded for Simon to continue.

"The truth is, as I told you once before, Blair is a very valuable member of our team, and we don't want to lose him. We'd like to make him a paid member of the department, offer him an official position."

"My baby as a gun-toting pig? No way in hell!" she spat. "I'll never allow it!"

Jim stirred restlessly, but Simon silenced him with a hard glare before turning back to Naomi. "Ms. Sandburg, your son is not a 'baby'; he's a grown man, and not answerable to you -- or to us either, for that matter. This will be entirely his decision; we just want to make the offer, in the hopes that he'll accept it."

"And why should he?" she challenged. "All he's gotten around here is heartache and grief." She scowled at Jim. "He can't possibly want to continue working here!"

"He may not," Simon agreed equably. "But he does have friends here, people who admire him and respect him, and who want to support him. The university is closed to him right now, and we don't want to dump him like yesterday's trash. We just want to give him an option; whether or not he uses it is up to him."

Naomi snorted, inelegantly. "The option to do what? Work with that... that... Neanderthal who tramples all over his psyche and doesn't appreciate him? The option to wave a gun around and terrorize the populace? That's not Blair!"

"No, it isn't," Jim cut in emphatically, "and that's exactly why we want him. Do you know your son at all, Naomi, or do you only see him through your sixties-colored glasses? He's not falling under our spell; we're falling under his. By his very presence, he's... I guess in your view, he's humanizing us. He helps us see human beings instead of victims and perps. And the insights he can offer, the cultural connections that we may overlook, have helped us solve a number of cases. In other words, he helps us help the innocents, and put away the bad guys, just by being himself. We don't want another cop, Naomi; they're coming out of the Academy twice a year. We want Blair, just as he is."

"You say that now," she muttered bitterly, "but you'll eventually turn him into a cop-clone; it's inevitable."

Simon sighed deeply. "Ms. Sandburg, please try to put aside your preconceptions. Blair has worked with us for four years without becoming a 'cop-clone'. As Jim said, we don't expect to turn him into a typical Academy graduate; we want him to continue doing exactly as he has been doing -- but now with official sanction and a paycheck."

"Oh, sure," she sneered. "And I suppose the entire police force will welcome him with open arms after his press conference? More likely, your testosterone-laden, jack-booted thugs will slam him into a wall for daring to show his face here! Do you think I'll let my baby be cut down by 'friendly fire' when I could have prevented it? You've got another think coming, Captain!"

Simon rubbed his eyes for a moment, wondering why the painkillers that were so effective for the wound in his back weren't touching his headache. "We're not stupid, Ms. Sandburg, whatever you may think of us. We plan to release a statement to the Press -- and make sure it gets talked about among department personnel -- that Blair was acting for the good of the department, that his fraud admission was a carefully-constructed ruse to help us draw out and capture a cold-blooded assassin. Your son is well-known and well-liked around here; people will find it much easier to believe that he helped set up a sting, than that he's a fraud and a liar."

Naomi shook her stubbornly. "There's absolutely no reason that he should continue working here," she insisted. "He's so much better than that! He can get a job anywhere... unless you plan to withhold your precious 'statement to the Press' if he doesn't toe the line," she accused.

"Naomi," Jim said softly, "we are not holding out a carrot, or pandering to hurt feelings; we're trying to right a grievous wrong. You know that Blair is too honorable to have lied in his dissertation; we want to try and remove that cloud hanging over him. If he chooses to stay, fine. If not..." he swallowed heavily, and hesitated. "If not, we want to make sure he doesn't have this undeserved stigma following him around."

She stared at him through narrowed eyes. "You are!" she hissed. "First you let me think you're this 'sentinel' that my son calls you, then you let him deny it and tell me that you're an ordinary man, but you really are! So now what; you need to keep Blair chained to you so this... this... thing will work? You're just feeding off him like some disgusting parasite."

"No. I'm a good detective; Blair doesn't change that. But..." Jim shifted uneasily, but really, for all intents and purposes, she already knew. "But Blair helps me to be a better detective... and to be a better man. I don't feed off him, Naomi. It's a..." He cast about for an explanation that would resonate with her. "It's a... psychic symbiosis, a working partnership." He shrugged. "I was wrong to dismiss his help, and I'll tell him so. I can only hope that he'll be as forgiving as he's always been."

"'Symbiosis' means both entities get something. Apparently you get help with this sentinel thing; what does he get?"

"Not much," Jim acknowledged soberly, but his gaze was steady as he continued. "He gets my undying support, he gets my vow that I'll never turn on him again, he gets a home for as long as he wants it. He gets a job where he can make a difference for the better -- maybe not so much in the grand scheme of things, but it can be pretty damn big to the victims he helps. And he does help, Naomi; he's good at it. One door has been shut in his face; we're just trying to keep the other one open."

She turned a measuring gaze on Simon. "So, what, you don't expect your Press statement to make a difference to the University? You think he can't go back there?"

"I can't speak for them, Ms. Sandburg. We'll certainly help Blair fight his dismissal, if he wants to. He seems a bit disenchanted, right now, but that may change, and we'll support him if he needs our help to go back."

"Naomi," Jim urged, "we hurt him. There was wrong on all sides, but Blair is the only one paying for it. We're trying to fix that, and all we're asking from you is that you don't throw a hissy-fit. Blair knows how you feel about cops, and he may well decide not to stay. But let it be his decision, not something he does to appease your rantings about 'jack-booted thugs'."

She sagged in her chair. "I just want him to be happy, and I don't think this is the place that will allow him that." She had to hold on to that. Their arguments sounded reasonable, but there had to be a catch somewhere.

"That's perfectly understandable, Ms. Sandburg," Simon soothed. "I have a son, too; all we ever want is the best for our children. But I repeat -- we're not trying to force him. We just want to make an offer, and know that you won't subvert it."

"What; you expect me to smile happily at the idea of my baby staying in this soul-destroying place?"

"That's exactly what we expect," Jim asserted. "You will smile, and approve, and give him your whole-hearted support, so that he won't think he's disappointing you if he stays."

"Or what? You'll toss me in a cell? That'll really help convince him to stay, won't it? I don't give in to blackmail; I know several good lawyers with experience in civil disobedience cases. You can't hold me!"

Jim's patience snapped. "Dammit, Naomi, what is the matter with you? We're trying to help, and you're making it into two dogs fighting over a big, juicy bone! You want blackmail?" He stalked toward her chair, the cane clenched in a white-knuckled grip, and stared down contemptuously. "You better think long and hard over which life Blair would choose if you force it on him. You really shafted him, lady; what makes you think he'll automatically go in your direction instead of ours? If you fight us on this, the only one who'll be hurt is Blair. You damned well better get with the program, or you'll just end up tearing him apart. Is that really what you want? Will that vindicate you somehow, that your son is hurt even more deeply, but thank God he didn't become a pig?" His voice dripped with venom. "You're a real piece of work, lady -- allowing him to make his own 'choices' only if they meet with your approval. Is that the kind of 'personal freedom' you've been advocating all these years? What a load of crap!"

"Jim," Simon said softly, "stand down." He could hardly refute his detective's words -- he felt the same way -- but they couldn't crowd the woman too closely if they still hoped for her acceptance.

Jim straightened, shook his head briefly, and turned to the window, leaning heavily on the cane as the adrenalin subsided. He'd been too close to losing control; he hoped he hadn't blown it entirely.

"Excuse us, Ms. Sandburg," Simon continued, just as softly. "As you can see, we feel rather passionately about this. It should be obvious to you that this isn't some half-hearted attempt to assuage Jim's feelings of guilt; it is our fondest wish to have your son become a permanent member of our department, if he'll accept the position. So for the last time -- will you go along with this?" Mentally, he crossed his fingers. It wasn't the last time; he'd argue for another hour, if necessary, but had no idea how to persuade her if she wasn't already convinced.

Naomi stared thoughtfully at Jim's back, noting the tension in his shoulders, then turned a measuring gaze on Simon, finding only open sincerity in his face. She thought back; although she had only met them a few times, they seemed to be honorable men. And maybe they were right; Blair had never been a wimp who allowed himself to be pushed around. If he was still here after four years, he must have found something worthwhile, something that spoke to him. His life's dream? Her gaze returned to Jim, staring out at -- what? What could he see and hear that no one else could conceive of? No one except for her son. Did she really have the right to come between them, even if she was sure it was for Blair's own good? Mightn't he come to hate her if her actions shut him away from this? She couldn't bear that, really, she couldn't. With a deep sigh, she capitulated.

"You make a good case, Captain. I don't like it -- I certainly hope that Blair refuses your offer -- but I won't stand in his way. I swear," she grimaced slightly, "he'll never know that I disapprove. I did several years of theatre in high school; I'm a very good actress when I need to be." She stood, impatient to flee this confrontation. "And now, as I said, I want to be there when Blair gets home. Let me know when you plan to make your 'offer'; I'll be here, with the biggest damn smile you've ever seen," she finished bitterly.

She swept out of the office, still inwardly seething, but with dignity outwardly intact.

Simon leaned back in his chair, feeling utterly weary. "Thank God," he murmured. "We did it."

Jim turned haunted eyes upon his captain. "Not quite. We still have to convince Sandburg."

The End

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