The Man For The Job by Debbie

The Man For The Job - Debbie

Blair was worried about Jim. He was spending most of his waking moments at the station, going over and over the evidence in the latest series of murders in Cascade. It wasn't unusual for Jim to spend so much time at the station on a case, but it was starting to border on obsessive, at least from Blair's perspective. When Jim would come home, he wouldn't discuss the case with Blair, telling him he was sparing him the gory details. Blair wondered just how bad it was. He thought about calling Simon and asking him if he could come in without Jim's knowledge and look over the case files, but there didn't seem to be a time when Jim wasn't there.

They would eat dinner and many times afterwards, Jim would leave the loft again, telling Blair he needed to look over one more thing. That resulted in Jim being gone for hours on end, with Blair worrying about him. When Jim did stay home, he wouldn't say much and then he'd go to bed early. The last straw was last night, when they lay in bed together, Blair's arms wrapped around Jim's midsection, but when he woke up that morning, Jim was gone, nowhere in sight. He had slipped out during the night, not even leaving Blair a note of explanation.

Blair decided to go to the station and find out for himself about this series of murders. When he was more involved in the affairs of the Cascade Police Department, he knew exactly what was going on. However, six months ago, he was able to get his doctorate by using different subject material. His involvement with the Cascade PD had dropped considerably.

Blair loved Jim so much and he hated to see Jim get obsessed with a case. He knew there had to be an ending some time and now was a good time. He finished his office hours and looked at the clock. It read 3:00. Good. He'd have enough time to confront Jim and find out just what was so fascinating about this series of murders.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Blair heard the argument as soon as he stepped out of the elevator car on the sixth floor. It was coming from the Major Crime bullpen and it involved Jim, Henri and Brian. Blair cautiously stepped inside the room. The three detectives were standing by Jim's desk, arguing. None of them registered that he had entered the bullpen. Blair took the opportunity to slide over to Rhonda's desk. She looked up as he approached.

"Blair! What are you doing here?"

"I've come to find out what exactly is the fascination with Jim's latest case. I hear it's a series of murders."

"Yes. It seems someone is targeting young men, keeping them captive while slowly torturing them."

"Sounds gruesome. So, what are Jim, H and Brian arguing about?"

"The next step to take. It seems Simon, the Chief and the Mayor all are looking for answers to this. That's put the pressure on them. Jim especially, since he's the lead detective."

"Well, maybe I can help. I seem to remember a thing or two."

Blair walked over to where the three detectives were still discussing the situation. Jim was the first to notice Blair was there.

"What are you doing here, Sandburg?" The tone was just a little harsh.

Both Brown and Rafe looked over at Blair.

"I was coming to offer my services. I thought maybe I could help you guys."

"We don't need your help." Jim was being less than cordial towards Blair, totally out of character. Even before they had become lovers, Jim rarely spoke harshly to Blair.

"Now, come on, Jim. We could use his help. Another set of eyes, a fresh set, may be just the thing we need." Rafe knew he was treading dangerously clear to enduring more of Ellison's wrath, but they did need help.

"Yeah, c'mon, Jim. Hairboy always was good at giving us a fresh perspective on a case. It can't hurt to let him have a look."

"He doesn't need to have a look! He's not a cop and he's definitely not a detective!"

The words took Blair by surprise and he heard the spite in Jim's voice. He looked over at Rafe and Brown and saw that they were shocked too.

Before Blair could retort, the door to Simon's office opened and the captain stood there, peering at the assembled group.

"What the hell is going on out here?"

Jim answered first. "We were discussing our next move, sir. There seems to be a difference of opinion as to the path to take."

"What are you doing here, Sandburg?" Simon said when he noticed Blair standing there.

"I've been concerned about how much time Jim has been putting into this case. I thought, since I had some spare time, that maybe I could look over the cases. It was just an offer of help, Captain."

"Sounds like a sound idea. How come you didn't think of it, Ellison?"

"Sir, with all due respect, Sandburg is not a member of the Cascade Police Department. He's a teacher and an academic."

"Jim, you're being a little hard on the kid, aren't you? Look at how many times he's helped us in the past. Let him look over the case files."

"He doesn't need to be exposed to those, sir."

"You'll let him look over the case files, Jim. And you, Brown and Rafe can run down the evidence and circumstances of all five murders. You get that?" Simon pointedly stared at each of his detectives, finally staring at Jim.

Jim gave in. "Yes, sir. We got it. Brown, you and Rafe get everything set up in the conference room. Sandburg, you come with me."

Blair wanted to confront Jim right there in the bullpen, but didn't think it was a prudent idea. He followed Jim as he walked from the bullpen and down the hall. He didn't once turn to make sure Blair was following him. They ended up in an interrogation room. As soon as Blair stepped inside, Jim closed the door and locked it. He turned to face Blair, who stood by the table.

"Sit down." The tone left no doubt as to Jim's intention that he expected Blair to obey the order.

But Blair had other ideas. He wasn't used to this Jim Ellison, the one issuing orders and degrading his abilities.

"Jim, I just came to help. Nothing more. I promise I won't get hurt. I'm safe here at the station. And what's with the mean act?"

"You don't have any business around this case, Sandburg. The murders aren't pretty and what has been done to the victims is gruesome."

"Jim, I've seen all of that before. Granted, it's been some time, but I just want to look over the files and see if I can offer a fresh perspective, as H and Brian pointed out."

"You should be at the university, teaching a class."

"Jim, this case has had you going non-stop for weeks. Some time during the night, you left our bed, coming here. What is it about this case that has you so obsessed?"

"You'll find out when you see the case files. Let's go. I'm sure Brown and Rafe have things set up by now."

Blair moved over to Jim's side, giving him a quick kiss on the lips. He leaned to whisper in Jim's ear. "You know I love you, right?"

"I love you, too, Chief. I just - I just don't want you involved in this."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

As soon as Blair opened the first file and saw the pictures, he knew why Jim was obsessed with this case. It wasn't a strong resemblance, but it was there. Blair read all five files without looking up at the three sets of eyes that were on him. He had to suspect that all three of them knew about the resemblance. Hell, anyone looking at the pictures alone, could see it.

Blair closed the file of the latest case, which had happened three days ago. The murderer, if he was going to murder again, would be set to hit in a couple of days, based on the pattern already established. Blair knew what he wanted to suggest, but he also knew that it wouldn't go over well and would get a chorus of rejections. Led by Jim. Blair just had to convince them that it was the most logical step to take. He would argue that he'd have the backing of the Major Crime detectives to assure that he didn't end up like the others. Blair had complete faith in Jim, Henri, Brian and the other officers of the Cascade Police department.

Blair looked up from the folders. He looked from Jim, to Henri, to Brian. Before his gaze returned to Jim, he opened his mouth to speak but Jim immediately cut him off.

"No! Don't even think about it, Sandburg! All we agreed on was for you to look at the files. Nothing more!"

"Jim? Look, it's the logical step. And I won't be vulnerable like the other victims. I'll have the power of the Cascade Police Department backing me up."

"You know, Jim, the kid -"

"No! I said no!" Jim effectively cut off Rafe before he could finish his thought.

"Jim, I don't think this is going to be your decision alone. Everyone wants results to these killings. This is a viable idea. I'm going to run it past Simon."

Blair saw the look of despair and pain in Jim's eyes. "Don't discount me, Jim. You know how good I think on my feet. The most important thing is to stop this person from killing another human being."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim felt fear in the pit of his stomach. This was his worst nightmare come true. That there was the possibility of losing Blair a short time after getting the love of his life. Jim didn't want to face that prospect. He didn't want to lose his lover.

No one expressed anything aloud, so Blair got to his feet, leaving the conference to go talk to Captain Banks. He was the one Blair had to convince.

Jim, Henri and Brian stayed in the conference room after Blair left. They didn't say anything to each other. All of them knew Blair would try his hardest to convince Simon that he was the man for the job.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Blair knocked on the captain's door and entered when Simon called him in. He stood in front of Captain Simon Banks, gathering his thoughts and his arguments. He knew Simon would be the one to convince to allow him to offer himself as a victim.

"Something I can do for you, Sandburg?" Simon looked like he suspected why Sandburg was there in his office.

"I've finished my look at the files. I want to offer myself as a target. Of course, Jim is totally against the idea, but as I explained to him, it wasn't his decision. I know now why Jim didn't discuss much about this case or want me involved in it. He probably thinks I was going to become a victim anyway. Jim has serious reservations about me doing this but I told him I'd have the Major Crime detectives as backups to make sure nothing happens to me. I have confidence that the police department won't let me down."

"You know how I feel about civilians going undercover, right, Sandburg?" At Blair's nod, Simon continued. "Having said that, I think of you as more than just the average run of the mill civilian. I'll have to run this by the Chief, but I don't see any problems with you doing it. Get together with Jim, Henri and Brian and come up with the bars you'll frequent. We know whoever is doing this, is targeting a certain type, your type. Just be careful out there, Blair. I don't think Jim would survive if anything happened to you."

"As I told Jim, Captain, I think fast on my feet. And I'd never take any undue risks."

Blair left Simon's office, noticing Jim was sitting at his desk. Blair walked in that direction and sat down in the extra chair beside the desk. He could see the look of concentration on Jim's face and still a hint of despair.

Blair leaned over to whisper to Jim. "Did you hear what I discussed with Simon?" Jim only nodded his head. "We need to set up places I'll frequent."

"We came up with a list of prior places and some others you can go to." Jim turned to face Blair. "When do you want to start?"

"How about tomorrow night? I think we need to be together tonight, don't you agree?"

"Yeah, I agree. I'll tell the guys."

"Nah, finish up here. I'll tell the guys."

Jim watched as Blair went over to talk to Brown and Rafe. He still didn't like the idea of Blair as a target, but when Blair got something in his mind, it was hard for him to let go of it. The only thing Jim could do was to make sure nothing happened to Blair and that he never got out of their sight.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim followed Blair as they left the station to return home. Blair had decided already to make dinner when they got home. There was some leftover soup in the refrigerator and Blair decided to have Jim make grilled cheese sandwiches to go along with the soup.

They walked inside the apartment building together and decided to take the stairs. There was silence as they went up to the third floor. Jim had his key out and unlocked the door. As they walked through the doorway, Blair turned to face Jim.

"We can have that leftover vegetable soup and you can make some grilled cheese sandwiches."

"Sounds good to me. I'm going to go change into something comfortable."

Blair watched as Jim made his way upstairs. He wondered if Jim was just trying to put some distance between them. Blair got out the vegetable soup and started warming it up in a pan.

He was pleased when Jim came downstairs a few minutes later, dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt that showed off the muscles in his arms. As Jim moved over to where Blair was, Blair pulled him into his arms and kissed him on the lips.

"I wanted to do that several times at the station, including in the interrogation room, but I held back."

Jim dislodged himself from Blair's hold. "Let's get dinner over with so we can have some time to ourselves."

Blair frowned, but said cheerily, "Sounds like a good idea to me."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

They sat on the couch together, Blair in Jim's arms. There hadn't been much said during dinner or when they cleaned up after. Blair knew Jim was still against the idea of him as a target. He felt they had to talk about it.

"You know, I've done this type of police work before."

"I know, babe, but then you weren't the love of my life."

"I was watching how this case was consuming you every hour of every day to the point that you were neglecting me. I couldn't just sit idly by and watch it come between us."

"It's just the pressures of the case and the victims…"

Blair knew that was the crux of the problem… the victims. And their likeness to Blair.

"Jim, you can't do this. I know how much you feel a need to protect me, but you can't smother me. I need to be able to live my life, no matter what happens. Just because a victim resembles me doesn't mean I'm the next victim."

There was no answer from Jim. Blair reached out his hand, rubbing gently up and down Jim's arm.

"You've got to trust me, Jim."

"I do trust you, Blair. It's the perps that I don't trust. They seem to hone in on you, like you're wearing a neon sign that says, 'Take me, abuse me, and beat me up'."

Blair chuckled. "I know it appears that way, but it really isn't. Since I've returned to the university, I haven't been in the Emergency room once."

"So you want to tempt fate and risk some psycho murderer tracking you and making you the next target?"

"Jim, you've got to take emotion out of the equation. You need to catch this guy. There have been five murders and no one, except the murderer, wants number six. Together, we can stop this person. We're still an awesome team."

"As always, you're right. I just worry about you because I love you so much."

"So, that means I'll be careful and you'll be following me close."

"You betcha." Jim leaned over, engaging Blair in a kiss.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Blair woke up in the middle of the night, still holding on to Jim. He smiled and was happy Jim was with him. He snuggled close, eliciting a slight moan from Jim.

He started thinking about being a target and all that could go wrong. He understood very well the dangers of setting yourself up like this. One wrong move and he'd be dead, just like the other victims. Blair banished the idea. It just wasn't going to happen. Jim, Henri, Brian and probably a whole squad of backup officers would make sure no one snatched him unawares. Blair knew Jim would do everything within his power to make sure nothing happened to him. It made Blair feel safe and loved.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Blair gave his attention to everything Simon and all of the detectives were saying. He knew it would be on his head if he messed up and the unthinkable happened. Not to mention what Jim would do.

Jim had already questioned his wardrobe for the evening. He had on tight jeans and a blue, silk shirt. As he admired himself in the mirror, Jim came upstairs to check on him.

"You're going out like that?"

"Yeah, you have a problem with it?"

"You'll attract everyone in the place, gay and straight alike."

"Um… correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the whole idea of this?"

Jim moved over to Blair's side, taking him in his arms. "Yeah, but you don't have to look so goddamn sexy!"

"My heart belongs to you, Jim."

Jim leaned down, kissing Blair on the mouth. They lingered on the kiss for some time before having to come up for air.

"Maybe we could postpone things for a night."

Blair moved away from Jim, turning back to the mirror. "The quicker we get this over with, the more time we can spend together."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim listened as Blair flirted with males and females alike. It hadn't been determined that the other victims were gay, so it was determined to have Blair cover all the bases. Jim had to work to stay calm and not leave the van and pull Blair from the bar. It was all just an act and he had to make it look good.

Henri Brown noticed that Jim was a little tense and decided that he needed a break.

"Hey, Jim, why don't you go run by Wonder Burger and get us some food?"

"Why don't one of you go?"

"Because you need a break, Jim. You've been here for over two hours. We can keep track of Hairboy as well as you can. We promise we won't let anything happen to him."

"I really don't need a break, H. Why don't we let Rafe go?"

"Because we elected that it's your turn."

"Fine, but both of you keep an eye and an ear out for anything out of the ordinary and call me if something happens."

"Right, Jim. Just go."

"This is serious, guys."

"We know Jim and we know our jobs. We'll keep a special lookout on the bar. If anything happens, we'll let you know."

Jim hesitated briefly before leaving the van and going to where he parked his truck a few blocks away. Brown and Rafe couldn't hear what was going on inside the bar, but Blair did have a hidden mike he could key, just in case something went wrong. He'd make the food run quick and get back as soon as possible.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Blair made eye contact with the woman, who definitely showed an interest in him. She moved from the bar to the table where he was sitting and sat down in the chair opposite him.

"Hi, gorgeous, what's your name?"

"My name's Blair. What's your name?"

"Stacy. Do you like dominate women, Blair?"

"Well, I like a woman who knows what she wants. You appear to be that kind of woman. Can I buy you a drink?"

"Sure, Blair. How about a Whiskey Sour?"

"Okay, Stacy. I'll be right back."

Blair got to his feet and walked towards the bar. He gave the order to the bartender and then looked back at Stacy. If he wasn't already in love… Blair shook himself from the thought. He'd never look at anyone like that ever again. He and Jim were exclusive and he loved Jim with all his heart.

Blair paid for the drinks and went back to the table. He set the drinks down, and then turned to Stacy.

"Excuse me, but I have to go to the bathroom."

"Just don't skip out on me, Blair."

"I'd never do that to you, Stacy."

Blair went to do his business and was back at the table within a few minutes. Stacy had drunk some of her drink. Blair sat down and had a drink of his. He had gotten ginger ale because he didn't want to be completely out of it in case someone made a move on him. He'd had a couple of drinks earlier in the evening, but he'd been drinking ginger ale for a couple of hours.

"So, Blair, tell me what you do for a living."

"I'm a professor at Rainier University. I teach anthropology."

"Ooh, that sounds so exciting. So, do you date much?"

"Not really, Stacy. I've been rejected several times recently and it's painful to keep trying, with the likelihood of it happening again."

"You just haven't met the right person. Would you like to go back to my place?"

Blair wasn't sure what to do. He knew if he left, Jim, Henri and Brian would follow him. Blair didn't want to believe that the killer of five men was a woman, but he also knew that anything was possible. He decided to go with Stacy.

"Okay, sure, Stacy. I'd love to go to your place. I have a car in the side lot."

"How about I drive, Blair? That way, you won't get lost getting to my place."

"Okay." Blair drained his glass and went to get to his feet. All of a sudden, he felt dizzy and like he was going to pass out. "Whoa! I don't know what's wrong with me."

Stacy took his arm and got him to his feet. "It'll be okay, Blair. You can stretch out in the backseat of my car."

"Maybe I shouldn't go." Blair was trying to pull out of her grip on his arm, but she only tightened the hold. He tried to reach inside his shirt where the switch for the mike was, but his coordination was off and he couldn't find it.

Stacy led him towards the back of the bar and through a back door that opened to an alleyway. Blair kept trying to get away from her, knowing this was real trouble and no one knew about it.

Then it dawned on him; Jim would be able to hear him. He started mumbling under his breath: 'Jim, I need you' over and over again, hoping Jim would show up.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stacy opened the back door of her car, which she had parked in the alleyway. She had a feeling this was going to be a lucky night and she had been right. Blair was everything she was looking for in a man - the looks, the brains and the body. Oh, yeah. Blair's body was perfect, or at least she envisioned it as being perfect. She'd find out soon enough. Of course, after she had her way with him, he'd be like every other man she ever knew. Belittle her and leave. Well, she had an answer for that.

She pushed Blair into the back seat and he stumbled inside, sprawling across, half on, and half off the seat. He was mumbling something, but Stacy didn't understand what he was saying. She slammed the back door closed and went around getting into the driver's side of the car.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Inside the car, the door slamming registered in Blair's fuzzy mind. This wasn't getting any better. Jim hadn't answered his pleas. Maybe the sounds of the bar were too much for Jim to overcome without help from his guide. He groped again for the button to turn on the mike. That would bring everyone running, if he could articulate what was going on.

His fingers found the button and he clicked it to the *on* position. At least he hoped it was the on position.

"Help me!" Blair was fighting consciousness at this point and Stacy had just started the car. She didn't look back at him, so she hadn't heard his cry for help.

"Jim, you've got to find me!"

Just before he lost consciousness, he heard Stacy's laugh as she started driving away from the bar.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim handed the bags of food to Henri as he got inside the van. He sat down, looking out the window towards the bar.

"Anything going on?"

"Nothing. I think Sandburg has lost his touch, Jim."

"No, Rafe, he hasn't lost his touch. He's just not going to hit on everyone in the place."

Jim tried to reestablish the connection he had earlier with Blair, but he was having a hard time doing it. He couldn't find Blair's heartbeat. He concentrated even harder, but it wasn't there. Something was definitely wrong!

"Sandburg didn't key the mike?"

"We told you, Jim, it's been quiet. Not a peep out of the kid."

"Something's wrong, guys! I just have a feeling."

"Oh, c'mon, Jim. We just got our food. We want to eat."

"I'm going inside the bar and check things out."

"Suit yourself. Call us if you need us to get Sandburg off of you for ruining the gig."

Jim ignored them and left the van. That's when he faintly heard the words from Blair.

"Help me!" Then Jim heard a car starting, before hearing Blair again. "Jim, you've got to find me!" Then there was the sound of a woman laughing and a car taking off drowned everything out.

"Jim! We just got something over the mike! It sounds like real trouble."

Jim turned to see Rafe chasing after him. He went back to the van with Brian and got inside.

"Anyway we can track the transmission?"

"We're working on it, but it's an iffy proposition."

"Tell them it's a matter of life or death."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stacy pulled into the garage and quickly closed the door. She got out of her car and went to open the back door to carry Blair inside her place. She had everything set up; it had been since the last poor soul who had been there, Mark James. He had died too soon for Stacy's liking. She hoped Blair lasted longer.

She went to pull him from the back seat and he roused up a bit. "No, you can't, Stacy."

"Now, now, Blair. It will be okay. We're going to have a wonderful time."

Blair tried batting her hands away as she picked him up, but he was unsuccessful. As she hoisted him over her shoulder, the mike came loose and dropped onto the floor of the garage. Stacy turned to see what had dropped.

"Well, Blair, what is this? You some kind of undercover cop or something? Well, whoever is on the other end of this will never find out where you are."

She walked over to the mike and stepped on it, smashing it into dozens of pieces.

"Now, let's get you inside so I can start to have fun. I knew it would be special with you."

She carried him inside the house, making sure she locked the doors behind her.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim had Rafe play back the tape of Blair, even though he had heard it. He didn't want to let Rafe and Brown know he had exceptional hearing and heard Blair himself. It sounded like someone had drugged Blair.

"He sounds drugged. Radio one of the backup units to canvass the bar and find out if anyone saw Blair with someone. It would be great if we could get a description."

"Already done, Jim. We'll find Hairboy, Jim. You know we consider him one of us."

"Yeah I do, H. Sorry I jumped on you guys earlier."

"It's understandable, Jim. He's your friend. Believe me, Blair would be the same way if the roles were reversed."

"I still shouldn't have doubted you guys, though. Anything on the trace yet, Rafe?"

"They said it would take several minutes. Henri was right, we'll find him."

A few minutes later, there was another transmission. "No, you can't, Stacy."

"Now, now, Blair. It will be okay. We're going to have a wonderful time."

There were some other noises and then the sound of something hitting a floor.

"Well, Blair, what is this? You some kind of undercover cop or something? Well, whoever is on the other end of this will never find out where you are."

Then there was a distinct crunch and everyone in the van knew what that meant.

"Shit! She found the mike!" Jim closed his eyes and could imagine all types of torture happening to his lover. At least Blair had been able to give them a name - Stacy.

The mobile phone rang and Jim answered it. He listened for several minutes before responding. "Yes, I understand. Yes. Thank you, lieutenant." He hung up the phone and turned to Rafe and Brown. "That was dispatch. They lost the thread of the trace on the mike. They were able to get a general area, but nothing specific. We better hope there's another lead from the bar or we're going to have trouble."

It got quiet in the van as each man reflected on the implications of what was happening. They turned the van around and headed back to the bar.

Jim just wanted to hit something. This Stacy, whoever she was, being at the head of his list. How dare she drug and kidnap his lover from under the protective net of the Cascade police? He knew this was a bad idea, but he allowed Blair to talk to Simon to approve it and then had convinced Jim that he would be okay under their protection.

Jim blamed himself most of all, because if he had stayed put in the van, he would have picked up something sooner. He believed that Blair would have caught on to being drugged and would have tried to get Jim to listen. Jim let him down by not being within range to hear Blair's cries for help. If Blair died… Jim just didn't want to contemplate such a thing. He had to use his detective skills to find out where Stacy was holding Blair. Nothing else would be acceptable. He only hoped Blair forgave him for slacking on his responsibilities.

They reached the bar and Jim was the first one out of the van and inside. He went over to the officers and asked if anyone had seen anything. A couple of people had seen Blair with a woman, but they hadn't gotten a good look at her. The bartender told them Blair had bought a drink for him and a woman sitting at the same table.

Jim went to talk to the bartender. "Did you see this woman that was sitting at the table?"

"Yeah. She's been in here several times over the past several weeks. Each time she hooks up with a different man."

"Do you know her name?"

"Stacy. I don't know her last name. I think one of the waitresses does, just a minute." He turned and yelled towards the back. "Nadine! Can you come out her a minute?"

A young, blond woman came from the back room. "Yeah, Charlie?"

"You know Stacy, don't you?"

"Yeah, she's almost a regular. Why?"

"This is Detective Ellison, from the Cascade Police Department. He's asking questions about her."

"Is this about her boyfriend that died?"

"Her boyfriend died?" Maybe there was something here after all.

"Yeah. It would have been about six months ago. His name was Travis Mitchell."

'Bingo!' thought Jim. That was the name of the first victim.

"What is Stacy's last name?"

"Corcoran. Why the interest in Stacy?"

"Did you see the man she was with tonight?"

"Oh, yeah. He was a looker. Just Stacy's type. She talked to me before she approached him, asking if he was with anyone. When I told her no, she made her move. They seemed to hit it off right away."

"Did you see them leave?"

"Yeah, Stacy was supporting the guy, like he had too much to drink."

"He didn't have much alcohol to drink. Unless the guy can't hold it," the bartender offered.

Jim felt his worry grow as each second passed. It was very possible they were looking at a woman as the murderer. And Blair had placed himself right in the middle of it all.

"Anyway, Stacy helped the guy out the back way. I was going to ask if she needed help with him, but she seemed to have it well in hand."

"Thank you. Both of you." Jim left before they could ask again why the interest in Stacy Corcoran.

As he left the bar, he remembered interviewing Stacy Corcoran after the death of Travis Mitchell. She hadn't put off any type of vibe to suggest to Jim that she was involved in his death. Her address would be in the file. He had to get to the station, get the address and take a team to her house before it was too late for Blair. He raced off to his truck, yelling to Brown and Rafe he was going back to the station. He told them he would call them soon.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Stacy made sure the restraints were tight as she ran her hands over Blair's naked body once again. She had to wait a little longer because Blair was still pretty much out of it. She needed him to be aware of what she was doing and why. It was a big part of the whole ritual. She needed her victims aware of why they were going to die.

There were several moans from Blair and he was partially awake, his eyes opening to mere slits. He felt uncomfortable and wondered what had happened. Then he heard a voice from beside him. He couldn't quite turn his head in that direction.

"That's it, Blair. We'll teach those cops a thing or two. I'll try to make it as painless as possible."

Something nagged at the back of Blair's mind, but it wasn't quite clear. He had a feeling that he was in trouble. But if he were in trouble, Jim would be there to rescue him. Where was Jim?

"J'm… wh're are you?"

"I'm the only one here, Blair. I am your salvation."

"No-o. You c-can't."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim ran up the stairs to Major Crime. It was quicker than taking the elevator. He knew Blair's life depended on them getting to him in time. The case files were in Jim's desk drawer. He already had the keys out as he rushed into the bullpen and over to his desk. He jerked open the desk drawer and pulled out the files. As he put them on the surface of his desk, his gaze caught the picture there - the one of him and Blair on a fishing expedition, their arms around each other. Just looking at it, people would believe they were only friends and not lovers. Actually after they took that picture, it led to a night where neither man got much sleep.

Jim tore his eyes away from the picture and opened the file pertaining to Travis Mitchell. There it was - Stacy Corcoran. Jim jotted down the address and put the files back in the drawer. As he sprinted from the bullpen and loped down the stairs, he called Rafe and Brown, having them arrange several squads to meet them at the address. No one was to move in before Jim arrived.

Jim resisted the urge to use his lights and siren to get to the address. He didn't want to alert Stacy in anyway that they had found her. He saw the others waiting for him as he screeched to a halt at the end of block where she lived. Jim got out of his truck and focused on the house as he approached the others. He picked up two heartbeats, one slightly elevated. Then he heard the screams. So did everyone else that was there.

"We're moving in! Rafe, take two officers and hit the back. Brown, you're with me! Move it!"

They moved swiftly and with precision. Jim had pinpointed where in the house Blair and Stacy were. He burst in first, followed by Henri. At the same time, Rafe and the two officers with him burst through the back door, securing the rest of the house.

With his gun drawn, Jim reached the back bedroom. He stood in the doorway, seeing Stacy Corcoran straddling his lover, making cuts along his chest and arms.

Jim aimed his gun at Stacy's head. "Cascade Police Department! Drop the weapon, Ms. Corcoran!"

Instead of dropping the knife, she plunged it into Blair's chest. In the same instant, Jim shot her in the head. She slumped forward, across Blair's body. Blair cried out and that got Jim moving forward to get her off Blair. He rolled her off to the side and saw the knife protruding from just under the sternum. Jim could tell the knife wound had damaged the lung.

"Brown, get the paramedics in here now! We need to get him to the hospital!"

Jim knelt down beside the bed so Blair could see him. "You're going to be okay, Blair. Just hold on. I took care of her. She can't hurt you anymore."

"Ji -" Blair was barely able to gasp out the single syllable.

"I know, I know. Just try to relax. The paramedics are coming." At that moment, two paramedics came into the room. "I'll see you at the hospital. You hold on, okay?" Jim leaned over, pressing a kiss against Blair's forehead. Blair nodded slightly.

Jim got out of the way, allowing the paramedics to take care of Blair. He knew he'd have to stay at the scene and give his report. Jim left the bedroom, going out into the hallway with Brown and Rafe.

"How's Blair?" Rafe tried to look past Jim into the bedroom.

"She knifed him in the chest. It sounds like she hit his right lung. The knife is still in him. He has other cuts on the rest of his body. I'm not sure how serious those are."

"Why don't we get out of the way and go into the living room? We'll have to wait for the others to come anyway."

"Yeah, you're right, Henri. Let's go out into the living room."

Jim allowed himself to leave the hallway, even though every fiber of his being wanted to be in the bedroom with Blair. Even though he was in the living room, he could hear Blair's labored breathing and smell the overpowering stench of blood.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

It was several hours before they arrived at the hospital. Simon offered to drive Jim and he accepted the ride, not sure he could make it on his own. During the entire questioning at the house, his thoughts were on Blair. There was a real and distinct possibility Blair could die. He could bleed to death from the wounds alone. Jim tried to banish those thoughts, but they were persistent in his mind.

Jim found out Blair was in Intensive Care, having had a chest tube inserted to remove the blood and re-inflate his right lung, which had collapsed en route to the hospital. The doctor allowed Jim inside the room, also explaining that he'd intubated Blair as a precaution to help aid in his recovery. The other cuts were treated and none seemed too serious. Blair was also on antibiotics to fight off infection.

Jim walked into the room, taken aback at how pale Blair was in the bed. He moved forward, taking Blair's lax hand within his.

"I'm here, babe." Jim leaned over, planting a kiss on Blair's forehead. "God, Blair! When I saw that bitch plunge the knife into your chest, it took ten years off my life. The doctor says you should be okay, as long as there's no infection." Jim squeezed Blair's hand slightly. "The doctor says you need rest for today and that you should be awake tomorrow. I guess I'll go home, although I'd love to stay here with you. I don't think the nurses will let me do that, though. No more scaring me, either. I couldn't take it if something else happened to you." Jim kissed Blair again, hoping for some kind of reaction, but there wasn't any. "I'll be back tomorrow."

Jim reluctantly let go of Blair's hand, placing it back on the bed. He stood there for several minutes, waiting to see if there was any awareness from Blair. But he remained unconscious. Finally, Jim turned to leave the room. Simon, Henri and Brian were waiting outside for him.

"He's going to be okay. Sore for a while, there was blood in his lung, but they were able to fix that. Thanks for stopping by guys."

"Hey, it was the least we could do, since he helped bring down that murderer."

"Simon, can you take me home? I think I need some time alone."

"Sure, Jim. We might as well all go home. Good work, all of you."

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Jim got up to the loft and inside, closing the door behind him. He moved over to the couch, leaving the room in darkness. He sat down, dropping his head into his hands. He needed to recover physically and mentally from it all. He didn't even think he could make the trek upstairs to the bedroom. Their bedroom.

Jim pictured Blair before he left for the bar last night. It had taken all of Jim's determination not to jump Blair and ravish him right then and there. Maybe it would have been better if Jim had acted upon his primal urgings. If he had, Blair wouldn't be lying in the hospital with injuries, fighting off infection.

He let Blair talk him into doing this. Jim had let his lover down by not being there to hear his cries for help when the murderer made her move on him. Jim didn't know how Blair would ever forgive him for leaving him hanging.

Of course, on the other hand, Blair had gone into a situation that he had no training for. Blair had done undercover work before, but never something so dangerous. There should have been another solution. Jim should have spoke up against using Blair. He should have insisted on someone else going undercover, despite Blair's insistence.

After some time of running it all through his mind, Jim stretched out on the couch and fell into an uneasy sleep, plagued with dreams and memories of what had happened.

~*~*~*~*~*~*

Awareness came slowly to Blair. He cautiously opened his eyes, feeling a pressure both in his mouth and around his chest area. As his eyes focused on his surroundings, he recognized the hospital. With that, his memory returned as he remembered getting stabbed, along with other unpleasant happenings. He looked around the room as best as he could. Jim wasn't there. Well, no surprise there. A serial murderer had gotten the best of him, duping him, kidnapping him and almost killing him. He had told everyone that he could handle himself, but obviously, that hadn't been the case. Jim would never forgive him.

A few minutes later, two nurses came in, announcing they were going to remove the breathing tube. Blair was at least grateful for that. He gagged somewhat as it was pulled out, which renewed the pain in his chest.

"Just smooth, even breaths, Mr. Sandburg. That's it. Sherry has gone to get a pain shot for you."

"Did anyone come to see me?"

"Not yet this morning. Of course, it's only 8:00 AM, a little early for most visitors."

"Oh, okay." Blair didn't tell her that Jim would be there at the crack of dawn, or would have spent the night camped out in a hard, plastic hospital chair. But Jim wasn't there, which, to Blair, spoke volumes.

The other nurse came in, giving Blair his pain shot. He thanked her and closed his eyes. After a time, they left and Blair opened his eyes again. The pain shot was working, reducing the sharp chest pain to an annoying ache.

He remembered a gunshot and Stacy's lifeless body falling on top of him. Then Jim was there, telling him he would be okay and to hold on. Then, there were paramedics and Jim was gone. Jim realized what had happened and how he had blown the whole operation. Blair figured the next move was going to be Jim asking him to move out of the loft.

"… you with me here, Chief? Have you zoned? I thought that was exclusive to me." There was a gentle shaking of his shoulder.

Blair opened his eyes, seeing Jim standing there, a frown on his face. Then Jim leaned forward, engaging him in a kiss on the lips. "You okay, babe?"

"I'm sorry, Jim. I acted like some green rookie out there. She drugged my drink and I couldn't key the mike on and… "

Jim stopped the flow of words with another kiss. He then replaced his mouth with his hand.

"Sh-h-h. It's okay. We heard you when you did find it. Actually, I came to apologize to you. H and Brian made me make a Wonder Burger run about the time that woman made the moves on you. I would have been able to pick up on it earlier and maybe have stopped it before it got to where it did."

"I was wondering why you didn't come in when I was trying to warn you. I knew you probably honed in on me inside that bar. I think we should blame H and Brian. After all, they were the ones that sent you away."

"Works for me. We were almost too late, though. We had to find out the full name. She frequented that bar and they knew her. She was Travis Mitchell's girlfriend and I never suspected her because she didn't come off as being mad at him or lying about what she told me."

"She had a whole ritual down." Blair went suddenly quiet, closing his eyes.

"You okay, babe?" Jim gently rubbed up and down Blair's arm.

"Yeah, well, I will be eventually. It's just that she had such rage and hatred for me, just because I reminded her of her boyfriend. I've never experienced anything like that before."

"I should have never let you get involved."

"Jim… I'm going to be okay. I may need to have a couple sessions with the department psychologist, but I'll be okay. How about you?"

"Just knowing you're going to be okay means that I'll be okay. I had wondered about you risking your life so casually, but then I realized that I wasn't ever going to change the way you always have been. It's part of the reason I fell in love with you."

"You know, you are the mushiest person I know."

Jim leaned down, kissing Blair again. This kiss was longer and deeper.

Once they came up for air, Blair asked, "So, how long do I have to stay here?"

"The doctor says several days, until your lung re-inflates and they make sure you don't get an infection."

"Good. I'd hate to have to stay very long."

"Of course, you'll be sore for some time. All those cuts and the wound."

"That's why I have you, Jim. You can nurse me back to health and make sure I don't overdo on anything."

Jim laughed. He just couldn't help it.

"What's so funny?"

"You, babe. I can't curb your natural energy. You'll do whatever you want to do. I wouldn't have it any other way, though."

"That's why I love you, Jim Ellison. At least now, you won't leave in the middle of the night to dwell on a case."

"Until the next one comes up."

"I say we have an agreement."

Jim shook his head. "What kind of agreement were you thinking about?"

"Something along the lines of if you have another case that stumps you; you call me in before it gets between us and causes strain on our relationship."

"Okay, I can handle that. But I want a stipulation that I have the final say in how involved you become in the case."

"But, Jim… "

"No, buts, Chief. This is not a negotiation point. I don't want you risking your life in my job, especially when it's not your job officially."

Blair knew Jim was adamant about this. He'd abide by Jim's stipulation. "Okay, Jim. I really don't like the hurting part of this. But I want to be available for you if you need me in the field."

"In the field is fine because I can keep an eye on you." Jim leaned down for another kiss. This time it was a short one.

"Get some rest, babe. I've got to go to the station to finish my reports and then I'll be back."

"Okay, Jim. Just make sure you come back."

"I'll be back." Jim turned to leave, hating to have to leave, but he really needed to finish the paper work on the case. As he reached the elevators, he knew Blair was already asleep. He'd be back before he woke up again. It was all going to be okay.

The end

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Acknowledgments: Thank you to Lyn for the beta and to Patt for the artwork.