Notes: Thanks to my betas DarkCherry, Helen, Monica, and Sherri for the excellent work. Extra thanks to Helen for making that beautiful page for my stories, and to Bine for the gorgeous slash portrait of Jim and Blair for the page, I don't know how to thank you two enough.
Summary: A man is murdered and it's up to the boys to find out why.
Another cold and rainy night, Jeff thought, as he crossed
the deserted street. Just a few more blocks and he would be on Prospect.
He shook his head. What a coincidence that Blair had ended up in the same
corner of the world as he did, and working with the police, at that. He
could hardly believe his eyes when watching the news two nights before, he
had heard how Detective James Ellison from Major Crimes had managed to
arrest a dangerous criminal, with the help of police consultant Blair
It had been so easy to watch the station the day before,
follow Blair to the University or home, always without being noticed. He
knew he might need to go to the police, and being Blair's friend would
make things much easier.
This had been a mistake from the beginning. The money was
good, he sure could use more of it, but the idea of committing a crime...
He should've known his conscience wouldn't let him go through with it. The
problem was that his partner was starting to notice his agitation. Jeff
could see the watchful eyes on him, and it was making him even more
Blair was his last chance. With his help, he would tell
the cops the whole plan, and maybe he could get out of this mess alive. He
had no doubt whatsoever that his life was in danger, his partner was
dangerous, and if he knew Jeff was planning to quit, and go to the cops,
he'd kill him in a heartbeat. Thank God he'd managed to send a letter to
Blair earlier. That way, if something happened to him, he knew the crime
would be investigated.
A strong arm grabbed him from behind suddenly, pinning his
arms to his body, and he was dragged to a dark alley, and pushed against a
"Been watching you for a while now, Jeff, my boy. Saw you
hovering around a police station yesterday. Having second thoughts, are
"Look, it's not... I..." Jeff stammered.
"Shhh, shhh, it's okay, buddy! I understand, really. But
see, the plan is finished, all that is left to do is the actual job, so I
don't need you anymore. Unfortunately, I can't take the chance of you
going to the cops, so I'm going to have to kill you!"
"No!" With a force he didn't knew he possessed, Jeff
kicked the man in front of him, and managed to free himself. He started to
run, heart beating out of control, panicking when he heard the footsteps
close behind. A hot, fiery pain pierced his back, and he felt the blood
trickling down to his waist. "Too late," he whispered, before his legs let
him down, and he fell. "Too damn late..."
It had been one of those days. First the Volvo wouldn't
start, then after having to call a cab to go to Rainier, it had started to
rain, and he'd gotten completely soaked before he could reach the anthro
building. It got worse and worse from then on, the notes for a lecture
forgotten at the loft, students with the attention span of a minute,
office hours that wouldn't end, and a faculty meeting from hell. All in
all, after a long, and dreadful day, all that Blair Sandburg wanted was to
get home, have a nice hot shower, a good meal, and a cuddle session with
Opening the door to the loft, and dropping his backpack,
he suddenly remembered Jim was going to be late. He was out celebrating
with the rest of Major Crimes on the closure of a particularly long case,
involving bombs, hostages, and God knew what else. Sighing unhappily at
the turn of events in his life, he closed the door and decided to go with
the first part of his plan, a hot shower.
It felt great to feel the warm water relaxing his muscles,
soothing his aches, and a little of the day's frustrations left his body,
leaving him feeling lighter. Getting dressed in a comfortable pair of
jeans, and a t-shirt, Blair left the bathroom, deciding to start preparing
dinner, when a knock on the door stopped him. Blair frowned. He wasn't
expecting anyone, it was too early to be Jim, and he had the key anyway.
He opened the door, coming face to face with a young man
about his age. "Yes?" Blair asked.
The man took a few awkward steps towards Blair, and
instinctively the police observer pulled back.
"Blair," the stranger croaked, raising his hand to touch
Before Blair could say or do anything, the man swayed
dangerously, and fell to the floor on his stomach, making the knife buried
deep in his back visible.
"Oh My God! Oh shit! Okay, okay. I'm calm, I'm calm."
Releasing a big breath, Blair touched the stranger's neck, feeling no
pulse. "Damn, he's dead. I've got to call Jim. Man, why do this things
always happen to me?"
"...anyway, Mason cuts the wrong wire, freaks out when the
timer speeds up the countdown, and starts running around like a crazy
chicken screaming ' It's going to blow, it's going to blow!'. Everyone
gets out as fast as possible, but when the timer hit zero nothing
happened. I decided to take a chance, go near the bomb, and see why it
didn't go off. Man, it was a fake, and you could tell if you just took a
good look at it. That's what you get for sending the new guy to disarm it.
My guess is that he had to go home and change pants after that!"
Everyone laughed at Taggart's joke, just enjoying each
other's company, and the relaxed feeling that came with the closure of a
difficult case. Jim's cell phone chose that moment to ring.
"Excuse me. Ellison."
"Hey, Jim! It's me."
"What's up, Junior?"
"Uh, well, I need you guys here."
Jim frowned, causing the others to stop talking. "Why?
"Well, I went to answer the door, and there's this guy,
and he just walked in and, well..."
"And what, Sandburg?"
"He dropped dead, man."
"What? Are you okay?"
"Yeah, he didn't do anything. But he was killed, and I
would really appreciate it if you'd hurry up and get here before the
killer decides to check in on his work."
"Okay, Chief. We're on our way."
They paid for the drinks and on the way out, Jim told them
what was going on. Henri shook his head. "Man, Hairboy sure knows how to
With the sirens on, it took them a little over ten minutes
to get to the loft. It wasn't really necessary for all of them to go, but
this was Blair after all, and over the years they'd become attached to the
kid. The elevator was out of order so they climbed the stairs, finding the
door to the apartment open, and Sandburg on the couch waiting for them. He
got up as soon as he saw them.
"Hey, Sandy! You okay?" Megan asked.
Making sure they had their gloves on, Jim and Rafe
searched the body.
"No ID," stated Rafe. "You know him, Jim?"
The detective took a good look at the guy's face. "Nope,
never seen him. Chief?"
Blair shook his head. "No, don't think I know him either.
The cops turned to him, noting the pale face.
"But what, Chief?" Jim asked, looking worried.
"Well, just before he died, he said my name." He looked
down at the body. "I think he was here to see me."
It took what felt like hours before all the detectives,
the forensics team, and the coroner left, but finally Jim and Blair were
"How are you doing?"
"Okay. Nervous, but okay. You think the killer will come
"I don't know, Chief. Without at least knowing who the
dead man is, it will be hard to make any guesses, but I'm going to stay
close to you for a while."
A sexy smile curled Blair's lips. "How close will that
Jim moved towards him, standing inches away. He lowered
his head and brushed his lips on Blair's. "This close," he
"Humm. I can live with that."
"You better! Now, what do you want for dinner?"
"Man, talk about a mood killer!"
"A man's gotta eat, Junior. Besides, the way you burn
those calories off me every night, I need all the nutrition I can
Blair snorted. "You're getting old, big guy." he said
"I'll show you old in a minute, Sandburg!" Jim growled.
"You'll regret saying those words!"
"Yeah, yeah! Promises, promises!"
They ate a few sandwiches, being too late for a big meal,
and afterwards, while Jim locked the door and turned off the lights, Blair
got ready for bed. He undressed, and laid down in the big bed, while Jim
took his turn in the bathroom.
The grad student let his mind wonder on his life, and how
much it had changed in just a few years. Not five years ago, the thought
of seeing a dead body would have left him a nervous wreck, now it was an
ordinary thing, a day to day event, easier to face every time. Being on
the streets with Jim, and witnessing all he did, wasn't always easy, but
he found himself enjoying helping, hell, loving it, the idea that he could
make a little difference out there, that maybe sometimes the bad guys
didn't always win, and that he was a part of that.
In reality, his life was really good at the moment, so
good he was almost afraid to say it out loud, or things might change. His
work with the Major Crimes unit was exciting, and despite the occasional
scare, it filled something inside him. The work at the University couldn't
be better. Soon he would be Dr. Sandburg, and the Dean had already told
him she wanted him to stay as a teacher, which was a dream come true. And
then there was Jim. Jim, his Sentinel, his best friend, and now his lover.
Just a few days after they came back from Sierra Verde,
after they finally caught Alex Barnes, Jim had sat him down, and the two
of them had talked about all the things that had happened and how they
felt. Blair decided to take a chance and declare his love for the strong,
silent man, feeling his heart was going to burst when Jim smiled that
beautiful secretive smile of his, and kissed him lightly in return. And
so, since that day, a little over a month ago, they were lovers above
He must have dozed off, because next the thing he knew Jim
was pulling him close, and kissing his head.
"Hey, yourself." Jim responded, with a smile.
"Would you mind holding onto me for a minute?" Blair asked, softly.
"Thought you'd never ask," Jim replied with a smile. "Come
They put their arms around each other, and Jim ran his
hands over the younger man's hair lovingly. "Chief, you know I wouldn't
let anything happen to you, don't you?"
"Yes. I trust you with my life, man, I know you'll keep me
safe. But you know, I've been thinking and maybe I'm jumping to
conclusions here. I mean, if the killer wanted to kill me too, he would
have done it when he went for that guy, right? It would be much easier to
just kill the two of us at the same time."
"Yeah, I guess. But it's also possible he stabbed the
victim somewhere near here, left him for dead, and doesn't know he managed
to get here. If he finds out, he might think that guy told you something
before he died."
"Damn! I hadn't thought of that!"
"It's okay, like you said, we may be jumping to
conclusions. In any case, like I said, I'll keep close for the next few
days, or make sure someone is near if need be. Which reminds me, I'm
getting old, huh?!"
In a swift move, Jim pinned Blair to the bed, covering him
with his body, nuzzling behind one ear. He nibbled the young man's neck,
just above the collarbone, leaving a love mark, making Blair arch off the
bed and twist the covers in ecstasy. Jim started to move against him then,
sliding their cocks together in delicious friction.
"Oh God," Blair moaned.
He started to thrust up against Jim, faster and faster,
nearing them closer to the edge. The sweat from their bodies made their
skin slide easier, and soon it was too much, and both men were coming,
shouting their completion.
"I love you," the young man whispered.
"Me too, Chief."
Kissing Blair's curl covered head, Jim spooned behind him,
and not long after, they were sleeping peacefully.
The next morning didn't leave them time for much, only a
quick shower together and an even quicker breakfast. After that, Jim
insisted in taking Blair to Rainier, paying no attention to the young
man's protests. They parted ways with a passionate kiss inside the truck,
and then Jim was on his way to the station.
The hours sped away for Blair, with classes and student
counseling, followed by a quick lunch, and it was past three when he
finally settled down in his office. He was about to review some notes for
his dissertation, when there was a knock on the door.
"Rafe! What are you doing here?"
"Jim sent me for you. Can you come down to the
"Yeah, I guess. Why?"
"We got the ID on the guy from last night, and Simon wants
you there. Since there's a chance the killer may be after you, I became
the designated driver."
"Okay, let's go then."
The drive didn't take long, and soon Blair found himself
in Simon's office with Jim, Rafe and Henri. He looked at the Captain. "So,
what's up? Rafe said you have the guy's identity. Who is he?"
"His name is Jeffrey Halloran, thirty years old, born and
raised in Boston, geologist," answered Henri. "We checked and he has no
Blair frowned. "Jeffrey Halloran..."
"You know him?" Jim asked.
"I'm not -- Wait! Oh, shit! Jeff!"
"You do know him."
Blair looked at Henri and shrugged. "I haven't seen him in
over fifteen years, didn't recognize him. Naomi and I spent a few months
in Boston when I was a kid, and I met Jeff there, he was our neighbor. We
became really good friends during that time, we went everywhere together,
talked about saving the world, making a difference, all that stuff kids
dream about. Mom and I moved out soon after that, and I never saw, or
heard from him again, can't imagine what he might have wanted with
"Well, whatever it was, it was big enough for someone to
kill him. Rafe, Henri, try to find out who he worked with, who might have
a grudge against him, you know what to look for," Simon
The two detectives left, passing Taggart on the way.
"Simon, Halloran was staying at the Central hotel, been living there for
over a month," Taggart informed.
"Jim, you and Sandburg go check the hotel room. Maybe
there's some sort of clue as to what or who got him killed," Simon
"There's one more thing, Sandburg. A letter was delivered
here this morning for you, it's from Halloran."
"From Jeff ? How did he know I worked here?"
"Probably the same way he knew where you lived. Maybe he
followed you around or something, but what I really would like to know,
was how he knew you were living in Cascade," Jim said.
He opened the letter and started to read out loud. "'Hey,
Tiger! How have you been? It's been a while since we talked about saving
the world together, uh? I'm going to get in touch with you soon, but in
case I don't make it, look up the name Jean Baptist Tavernier. You'll know
what I mean shortly. Take care, my friend. Jeff Halloran.'"
"Well?" Simon asked. "You know anything about that guy,
"Yeah, but I don't understand."
"What don't you understand?"
"What he has to do with Jeff 's death. I mean, Tavernier
has a very interesting story, but he's been dead for centuries
"Yes," Blair started, going into professor mode. "He was a
French traveler, born in Paris in 1605, pioneer of trade with India. Did
you know that when he was sixteen he had already visited England, and
Germany, among other countries? It is said that at the age of eighty four
he took to the road again, dying en-route to India in 1689."
"Sandburg, I didn't ask for a lecture!" Simon barked. "Do
you know the connection between this Tavernier and Halloran?"
"Uh... No, Simon."
"Fine. Then get out of here, and go check that hotel
"Yes, sir. Come on, Chief."
The two of them left the office.
"Man, Simon needs to learn how to relax or he'll get an
Jim chuckled. "Well, you lecturing him didn't help,
"Hey, having a little culture never did any harm, big guy.
I was only trying to help."
"Well, the next time I have insomnia, I'll ask for one of
your lectures, that will be help enough."
"You're such an asshole, Ellison!" the young man said with
They got in the truck and left for Central
The guy at the front desk of the hotel gave them
Halloran's room number, and they climbed the stairs to the second floor.
Blair was going to make a comment about how crappy the place was when Jim
whispered in his ear, making him shudder.
"Romantic place, isn't it?"
Blair snorted. "For the rats maybe!"
They walked in, and Jim searched the room, but there was
nothing out of the ordinary, or that the Sentinel senses could pick up, so
they went back to the station.
Simon looked at them. "Anything?"
"The room was clean." Jim answered, shaking his head.
"Nothing we can use. All his clothes were there, money, personal items.
"Okay. It's almost dinner time, so let's go home, people.
We'll start off first thing in the morning."
A few minutes later they were leaving the building, when
Jim turned to Simon and accidentally collided with someone. "Oh, sorry,"
he started to apologize, but smiled suddenly, looking at the man he bumped
into. "Mark?! Mark Royce?!"
The man looked surprised. "Ellison?! Man, I can't believe
this! How the hell are you?!" he laughed, and pulled Jim into a bear hug.
"I haven't seen you in ages! What are you doing here?"
"I work here, I'm a cop."
"No shit?! You traded the army for the police, huh?!
You've got to be crazy, man!" he joked, looking at the others.
"Oh, sorry," Jim said, introducing his friends. "Guys,
this is Mark Royce, we were in the army together."
"I'll say! We fought side by side for a lot of years, went
through some serious shit! Say, you want to go grab a beer or something?"
"I don't know," Jim answered, looking at Blair.
The younger man smiled. "It's okay, Jim. Go with your
friend, have a good time. I can catch a taxi, no problem."
Mark looked him over. "You know, I'd never have pictured
you as a cop."
"That's because I'm not," Blair replied, trying not to
feel offended. "I'm a special consultant, an observer, working with Major
"Oh, okay. Jim, coming?"
"Chief, you sure you don't mind?"
"Yeah, go on."
"Okay. See you later, then. See ya tomorrow,
They watched the army buddies go, and Simon turned to
Blair. "Come on, Sandburg, I'll give you a ride to the loft."
Jim looked at Mark and shook his head. "I still can't
believe we ran into each other like that."
"Yeah, life sure is full of surprises! What have you been
doing, besides becoming a cop, I mean? I haven't seen you since those
months after you came back from Peru."
"Nothing much. I left the army and joined the force almost
immediately. Listen, Mark... I don't think I ever thanked you enough for
what you did for me back then. I mean, I think I would have gone mad, if
it hadn't been for you, man."
"Come on, Ellison! I think you're exaggerating a bit here.
So I listened to you and helped you get your bearings after a year and a
half in the jungle. Man, we were friends, are friends, and in my book
friends help each other."
"You know you did more than that. I would have killed
Colonel Oliver if it hadn't been for you, if you hadn't talked me out of
it. I could be stuck in jail for the rest of my life."
"Hey, I'd love to see that bastard dead, but not if it
meant ruining your life, man. The scumbag wasn't worth it. Wonder what
happened to him?"
Jim grinned. "He's dead."
"Nope. I was the one that killed him. It's a long story,
I'll tell you about it sometime. I got a call from Sam Holland one night,
went to meet him, and all hell broke lose. Sam died, I got captured by
Oliver's men, and later ended up killing him."
"Wow, I'm speechless! Talk about poetic justice, man! And
Sam, dead. Poor guy. He was a good soldier." Royce stated.
"Yes, he was. So, anyway, you know I'm a cop, but what
about you? What are you doing now?" Jim asked.
"I work for a security company, you know, alarms, safes,
that kind of thing. It's a good job, no major hassles. Nothing as exciting
as being a cop." Royce replied.
He motioned the bartender for another round. "James
'Fucking' Ellison! Man, this is too weird, after all this
They drank and talked throughout most of the evening, both
glad to be together again, remembering war stories, learning new things
about each other, losing track of the present.
What a great way to wake up, Blair thought, feeling hands
caress his body and a tongue laving at his opening.
"Jim," he moaned.
A body covered his back, and a voice whispered close to
his ear. "Shhh! Mark is sleeping downstairs on the couch."
"What?!" Blair hissed. "Are you crazy?!"
"Look, we got caught up in our conversation. When I looked
at the watch it was two in the morning, and we were too drunk to do
anything. The loft was closer, so I invited him to stay. It's okay, he'll
leave first thing tomorrow."
"Does he know about us, Jim?"
"Uh, no. Only that we're roommates."
"Great, just great! What am I suppose to do tomorrow? I
have a class to teach at eight."
"When he goes to the bathroom, you can sneak to your old
room. It will work out, you'll see. Relax." Jim whispered, raining tiny
kisses on his shoulder blades and back.
Blair tried to stay angry, but was losing the battle
quickly to pleasure. The detective continued to kiss his back until he
reached his buttocks. There, Jim paid special attention to a cheek,
nibbling, kissing, laving, until Blair was moaning continuously, before
going to the other one, and giving it the same treatment.
Getting the lube, Jim coated his fingers, and began
preparing his lover. First one finger, then a second one, and finally a
third, stretching the muscles, teasing him, making sure the young man was
ready for him.
"Jim, I'm dying here! Hurry up, I'm more than
Ellison chuckled. "Okay, okay! On your hands and knees,
Blair obeyed and Jim grabbed his hips, guiding his cock to
the younger man's opening. He waited for his lover's signal before
starting to thrust against that delicious heat.
Biting his lip to stop himself from moaning out loud, or
making too much noise, Blair thrust back, increasing the pace, giving
everything to their lovemaking, losing himself in the pleasure, in Jim. It
couldn't last forever, Jim thrust deeply one last time into his willing
body, spilling his seed inside, the feeling making Blair surrender to the
hand stroking him, both coming together.
"I love you, Jim."
"Me too, Junior."
After Jim's soft cock slipped from Blair, the detective
rolled over and was asleep almost immediately, but the young man couldn't
find the peace of mind to follow his lover. The truth was that although
their relationship was better than ever, he felt something was missing.
Jim seemed to keep a part of himself from their love, away from him, and
that hurt. Not once since they were together had the detective told him he
loved him, only said "me too" or something to that affect when Blair said
the words. He knew Jim wasn't a man of too many words, but just for once
it would be nice to hear it, to hear him say "I love you,
And the obsession Jim had about not telling anyone about
them was driving him crazy. Although he didn't enjoy the idea of having to
act like a thief in his own home, he understood why they wouldn't tell
Mark. But their friends, the guys at the station, Simon, Megan, Taggart,
and even H. and Rafe, they should be told. They were good friends, worked
closely with them everyday, and should know, but Jim had refused
completely to even discuss the matter, let alone talk to them. Not wanting
to fight and ruin a relationship so new, Blair had dropped the subject,
but still felt uncomfortable each time they were together with their
friends, and he had to keep his distance from his lover.
Finally exhaustion took over his mind, and he snuggled
with the warm body next to him, falling asleep in the arms of the man he
loved more than life.
Everything turned out like Jim said it would the next
morning. The partners woke up early, and waited until Mark went to the
bathroom. Then Blair went to his old room, got a few clothes he still had
there, got dressed, and when he came out, both Mark and Jim, were in the
kitchen having breakfast.
The young man was also eating breakfast when the phone
"Jim, it's Simon. Sorry to call this early."
"Sure, what's up?"
"That snitch of yours, Sneaks, he's here. Says he's got
some information on the Rolland case for us, but will only talk to
"Okay, I'm on my way." he stated and hung up.
Turning to Mark and Blair, Jim said. "Guys, I have to go,
Simon needs me at the station. We took a cab last night, so I still have
to go get the truck. Mark, you can stay and finish your breakfast, Blair
will keep you company. Call me! We still have a lot to catch
"Sure thing, man. See ya!"
"See you later, Chief."
Grabbing the coat, he was out the door in a
"Is he always like this?" Mark asked.
Blair smiled. "When it comes to police work, yeah, most of
the time. He loves it."
Mark looked at the young man. "So, how long have you been
working with him?"
"About four years."
"And how long have you been in his bed?"
Blair paled. "Excuse me?"
"I couldn't imagine for the life of me how someone like
you, a hippie geek, could be partners with a bad motherfucker like
"He's not like that anymore, he changed."
"Kid, guys like us never change. But like I was saying, I
couldn't imagine you two as partners, at least until I heard you last
night!" he remarked with a leer. "You kept it down, but still it was hard
to miss the noise coming from upstairs. Now I understand."
"Understand what?" Blair asked, feeling suddenly
"Why he lets you stay around. You're a good fuck, aren't
you little boy? I bet even Simon uses you once in a while."
The young man got up and faced Royce. "Listen asshole! I
do share a bed with Jim, but that's because we love each other. I'm not a
whore to be used by cops, and I never slept with Simon or any of the
others. As for working with them, I've proved my worth time and time
again, helping solving cases. I do *not* need to sleep around to be able
to be Jim's partner!"
"Hey, easy, easy! No need to get upset, little boy! All I
wanted to say is that I wouldn't mind sharing the wealth, so to
"What the hell do you mean by that?" Blair
"You're a very good looking kid. I know I could make you
feel good, maybe better than Ellison. I'm sure he's too repressed to
actually be good in bed." Mark replied, laughing. He got closer to the
younger man, and caressed his hair. "What do you say? You and I could be
great together." He leaned forward, his lips almost touching Blair's, but
a sudden a knee hitting him between the legs made him howl and fall
"Get out of here, Royce! Now!"
The man rose from the floor and looked at him. "I will be
back, kid. This isn't over, you'll see. We'll be seeing each other soon,
really soon." He left and Blair locked the door, sighing with
"What the hell am I going to do now?"
Grabbing his backpack and coat he left for the University.
On the way, he tried to decide what to do, should he tell Jim that his
friend had made a pass at him, or should he just forget it and try not to
cross paths with Royce again?
Blair's classes took most of the day, so it was
mid-afternoon when he finally arrived at the bullpen. The day had been a
torture to endure, his mind going in circles around his problem. Jim was
finishing the paperwork on the Rolland case, two gruesome murders taking
precedent over Halloran's case, but looked up when he heard his partner
Jim frowned. "What's up?"
"I need to talk to you, it's important."
"Okay. What is it?"
"Not here. We'll talk tonight, at home."
"Fine by me. Mark left okay this morning?"
Simon's door burst open, stopping Blair's reply. "Ellison,
Sandburg, my office!" he ordered.
The two partners joined the Captain in his office, seeing
H., Rafe, Taggart, and Megan already there.
"What's up, Captain?" H asked.
"Just got a call from the Mayor. He's very happy with the
fact that we nailed the bastard that killed his friend, Jack Rolland and
his wife. Jim, thank Sneaks for his information, will you? It helped us
break the case."
"I already did. He's walking with a new pair of sneakers
as we speak." Jim answered, making everyone chuckle.
"Anyway, you all did a great job solving this case, so you
have the rest of the day off. Tomorrow, I want you to pick up where you
left off on the Halloran case. Now go!"
"God, what a day!" Jim stated, practically dropping on the
Blair went to the kitchen and got them both a beer. "Here,
this will make you feel better."
"Thanks, Chief. So, what did you want to talk
The young man sat on the other end of the couch. "Well,
it's -- Damn, this is hard! Look, Jim, after you left this
"Uh, I... Uh... Mark made a pass at me." he finally let
Jim got up and looked down at him. "Excuse me? Did you
just say that Mark hit on you?" he asked roughly.
"Yes, that's what I'm saying."
"Look, Chief, maybe you made a mistake, maybe you heard
wrong or something. Mark would never do something like that!"
Blair got up as well. "Jim, I didn't hear wrong or make
any mistakes. He said he heard us last night, accused me of sleeping with
you and Simon to be able to be your partner, and said he wanted to share
the wealth! He even tried to kiss me, for God's sake!"
"Why are you making this up, Blair?" Jim asked suddenly,
in a soft voice.
"What? I'm not making anything up!"
"Why?" Jim repeated, as if he hadn't heard the young
Blair grabbed Jim by the arms and shook him. "Listen to
me, damnit! I wasn't the one that did something wrong, he was! He knew we
were together and still wanted to take me to bed!"
Ellison seemed to wake from his lethargy and freed
himself. "I don't believe you. Mark and I went through some serious shit
together in the army and covert-ops, he was the one that kept me from
going down when I came back from Peru. We're friends, he wouldn't do
something like that or say those things!"
"So what are you saying? That I'm not your friend? That
you believe in a man you haven't seen in over ten years, but not me? What
am I, nothing? You said I saved your life as well, saved you from being
locked up in a padded cell, doesn't that mean anything now? The fact that
I love you, doesn't it matter at all?" He looked at Jim. "Is he right,
Ellison? Am I just in your bed so we can be partners, so you have someone
always there to help with your senses? Is that it?"
"No?" Blair snapped. "Then why don't you ever say you love
me? Why don't we ever go out together? Why don't you tell our friends
about us? Why, Jim? Why?"
"Because I don't think you'll be here long enough!" Jim
snapped. "You fucked half the population of Cascade. Am I suppose to think
you'll stay with me forever, that you'll commit to our
"God, you really don't know me, do you?" Blair said,
softly. "Yes, I dated a lot of women, and yes, I slept with some of them,
but mostly I just dated. And that was because I thought you were off
limits. I've been in love with you from almost the beginning of our
partnership. I gave my heart and my soul to you, man. How could you think
I'd make up a thing like that? And what for?"
The young man let out a deep breath. "Damnit, Jim! You
never really learned to trust me, did you? That's why you don't believe
me. You trust Mark, but not me." He looked at the man in front of him.
"Look, maybe it's better if I leave for a couple of days. We obviously
need some time apart to think."
He grabbed his backpack, went to their room, filled it
with a few clothes and came down again. "I'm going to Megan's place. She
has a room to rent, so I'll stay there. If you need me or change your mind
and want to talk, you know where to find me," he finished, grimacing when
he remembered he'd said those same words before Alex Barnes drowned him in
that damn fountain.
Hours later, no anger left in him, Jim looked at the empty
bed and sighed. Amazing how one minute your life could be fantastic, and
the next a bloody nightmare. He laid down and thought about what had
happened. Could Blair be telling the truth? Did Mark really hit on his
Maybe his reaction had been a bit off, but all he could
think and remember was Mark fighting by his side, saving his life, letting
him punch the walls and telling him it was alright to be angry. Those
memories stay with you forever, become part of your life. Could he be
wrong? And if he recognized he was wrong about Mark, he had to consider he
might be wrong about Blair as well. It was just so hard to understand why
a beautiful, intelligent, young man would want to be with him, an older,
repressed man, afraid to show his feelings, and with a job that took it's
toll on the soul.
That's why he didn't want to tell his friends, because
sooner or later, he thought the young man would walk away, would get tired
of this boring cop, and he wouldn't be able to stand the pity in
everyone's eyes, it would be too much, it would kill him. And so he kept a
part of himself away, closed up, so he could survive that moment. But...
Maybe he was wrong, maybe Blair was in this forever, like he was. Maybe
they could make it work. God, he'd been a fool! He should've believed in
Blair, he wouldn't lie about something like that, and now the young man
His heart started to beat faster at the thought of living
without Blair, without the only person that really understood and
supported him. He was going to find him and have a talk with him, a real
talk, a heart to heart confrontation.
He'd just finished getting dressed when the phone ringing
startled him. Looking at the watch he saw it was only four thirty in the
morning. "Son of a bitch! Better be important." he snarled.
"You sound like my neighbour's dog when we try to take his
"Funny, Simon, very funny! What's up?"
"There was a robbery at the Museum of Natural History.
Meet me there."
Not long after, he was facing Simon at the entrance of the
"What's the story?" Jim asked.
"Not sure yet. I called you as soon as we got the warning
about the robbery. Only talked with the guard doing the nightshift so far.
He said he hadn't noticed or heard anything unusual. He only knew there
had been a robbery because one of the glass cases was empty. Whoever did
this knew the alarm and security devices very well and bypassed them
"Most likely. We have to run a check of all the people
working here first thing in the morning. This is too damn
"Tell me about it, Simon! So, what time was the
"The guard I talked to said he made his rounds about 1:00
a.m., and everything was in place. Half an hour later he reported the
A car stopped near them, and Megan and Blair got
"I thought we might need some help, so I called Connor."
Simon explained. "But what is Sandburg doing with her?"
"Long story, sir."
Megan and Blair joined them, and the Inspector smiled at
the two men. An awkward silence between the two partners made Conner and
Simon realize they needed to talk, so they walked inside.
"Jim --" Blair started, looking down.
"It's okay," Jim soothed, putting a finger under the young
man's chin, and making him face him. "I was a fool, I'm sorry for the way
I behaved. I do believe you."
Blair's beautiful eyes got brighter. "You do?"
Without caring if anyone saw them or not, Jim hugged his
lover. "We will need to have a long conversation after this case is over,
get everything out in the open, but for now... I love you, Blair
"I love you too, James Ellison." Blair replied with a
"Come home tonight?"
"Yeah. As soon as we're done, I'll go get my stuff at
Megan's and go back to the loft."
"Good. Now, let's go back to work."
It was the museum's curator that welcomed them. "Captain
Banks, I can't thank you enough for answering our call so fast. Come this
way, I'll show you to the room that was robbed. This is a very serious
matter, most of these pieces are here as a loan from the Smithsonian
Institute. It will be a scandal when the word is out that one of the most
famous stones they own is missing." He took them to a huge room where
several beautiful stones where displayed. "I'll leave you alone. If you
need anything, I'll be near the entrance. I'm going to get a list of all
our employees for you."
They walked around, trying to find signs of the break-in,
searching for anything that could help them.
"I don't get it," Megan said, looking at some of the
stones in exhibit. "Some of these pieces are really valuable. This one is
the Bismark Sapphire, one of the biggest in the world from what is said
here, and priceless, over there is the crown Napoleon gave Marie Louise
that has a ton of diamonds and emeralds. Why just take one
Blair got closer to the empty glass case. "What was taken,
anyhow?" he asked.
"The Hope diamond." Simon replied.
The young man took a step back shocked. "What? Oh God!
The others looked at him.
"What are you talking about?" Jim asked.
"The Jean Baptiste Tavernier that Jeff mentioned in his
letter was the first known owner of the Hope diamond, man!"
"Are you saying that Halloran was in on the
"What else? It's too much of a coincidence, Megan! Either
he was in on it, and got greedy, or changed his mind, or maybe he just
found out about it and got killed. I mean, think about it! He was a
geologist, was living in Cascade at the time of this exhibit, and sent me
a note with the name of the first owner of a diamond that gets stolen a
few days after he died!"
"Damn! It makes perfect sense!" Simon stated. "Okay, I'm
going to call a team to sweep this place for evidence. Connor, call H.,
Rafe, and Taggart, and tell them to start digging up everything on
Halloran. Let's go to the station."
Two hours later the Major Crimes unit was seated in the
"Okay, people, what do you have?" Simon asked.
"Well, we found out that Halloran spent half his life
travelling around the world," Rafe started. "He was working with several
museums until two or three years ago. He was asked by the Smithsonian
Institute to go work with them, so he moved to Washington."
"Yeah, and as for friends, he didn't have many. Everyone
we talked to said he was very quiet, and kept pretty much to himself. Had
no enemies as far as we can tell, and no one seemed to have any grudges
against him. No one seemed to know if he was involved in anything out of
the ordinary, but an ex-girlfriend said he was really excited lately. Kept
saying he was going to be a millionaire." Henri said.
"And as we know now, Cascade's Museum of Natural History
is having a big exhibit on gems and minerals, and some of the pieces are
from the Smithsonian." Megan replied. "Halloran was the one responsible
for them and for the organization of the event. He was the link between
the two museums. The guy I talked to from the Smithsonian was very upset
with Halloran's death, said they had no one that could replace him on such
"I don't get it though," Rafe stated. "With so many
valuable pieces in the museum, why only take one?"
"Most of those stones are too famous, they'd be too hot to
make a good sell on the black market, too big a risk. On the other hand,
if you have a private collector with enough money, and a special interest
in one of the gems," Blair said.
"You know, that's a good point. We could get a list of the
known stone and gem collectors, especially ones that might have shown any
interest in the Hope diamond." H offered.
"Do it. Good work, people. Now we need to find out
Halloran's exact connection with the robbery, and who the hell has the
"I hope the damn curse gets them!" Blair
"Curse? What are you talking about?" Taggart
"Well, it's a long story, but bottom line is that most
people believe that the Hope diamond is cursed. I once read an article
that blamed it for the Vietnam war and Kennedy's death."
"You're kidding?" H laughed.
"Nope. Some people really believe that. Remember the guy I
said was the first known owner of the diamond? Well, he was the first
diamond merchant in Europe and Asia, and soon after selling the Hope to
the French King Louis XIV, he lost all his fortune and his estate. He
decided to go back to India, and legend said he was killed in a desert by
a pack of wild dogs. His body was never found though."
"Wow! What happened to the diamond after that?" Rafe
"Well, while in the possession of the Hope, King Louis XIV
died a slow and painful death, and his grandson, King Louis XVI, and his
wife, Marie Antoinette who was said to wear the diamond a lot, were both
killed in the guillotine, during the French Revolution. After that, the
Hope disappeared for about twenty years."
"Bugger!" Megan exclaimed. "So, what happened when it
showed up again?"
"That was one of the mysteries around the diamond. When
Tavernier found Hope, it had 112 carats, this time, when it turned up, it
had less than 46 carats. Nobody knows why it was cut, by whom, or where it
stayed all those years. It was found in a jewelry store and sold to a
British aristocrat, Henry Philip Hope, thus the name Hope
"Did he suffer the influence of the so called curse?"
Simon asked, not able to pretend he wasn't interested in Blair's
"Yes. He died alone, no direct heirs. The diamond and his
fortune went to a nephew that died suddenly with no apparent cause. A
relative, Lord Francis Hope, was the next heir. He married an American
singer and offered her the diamond as a wedding present. A year after that
he was broke and she ended up leaving him."
"Who kept the Hope?"
"Lord Francis. He sold it though. But his wife got the
worst part of the 'curse'. She opened a hotel, called it "The Blue
Diamond", but a few months after the inauguration, a fire burned it to the
ground. Both died penniless."
"Man!" H whispered. "I'm starting to be afraid of seeing
the damn thing!"
"So, who did Hope sell the diamond to?" Jim
"Don't know, but it showed up again in the beginning of
this century at Cartier's, the famous jewel maker. He sold it to an
American called Evalyn Mclean, during her honeymoon in Europe. Needless to
say her life was one tragedy after another. Her nine year old son died in
a car accident, her twenty five year old daughter committed suicide with
an overdose of pills, and her husband became a drunk and died in a mental
asylum. After Evalyn died, her heirs sold the diamond to a jeweler, who
later donated it to the Smithsonian."
"Boy, that sure is one hell of a story," Rafe remarked.
"But why the curse, anyone know why it started?"
Blair shook his head. "Only rumours. A legend says that
the Hope was mined in India, and that was cursed because a priest stole
the diamond from the eye of a statue of the Hindu goddess
"You believe in the curse, Hairboy?"
Blair looked at H. "Let's just say that if I was asked if
I wanted the diamond for a birthday present... My answer would be no."
There was a strange silence in the room and then Simon got
up. "Okay, let's keep the ball rolling. I want to know how the robber got
in that museum, who he is, and what's the connection with Halloran. Oh,
and I want it for yesterday."
The rest of the day was spent chasing leads that went
nowhere. All the museum employees had alibis for the time of the robbery,
no records whatsoever, and didn't even match the profile needed to carry
out such a plan.
H had compiled a list of all the private collectors that
had shown an interest in the Hope, but that was rapidly turning into a
dead end as well. Both he and Rafe had spent the whole day checking names
and so far nothing suspicious had been brought up to their
Blair and Jim were seated at the detective's desk when the
young man yawned.
"Yeah, it's been a long day."
"Why don't you go home? I'll ask H or Rafe to drive you to
Megan's house to get your things and then to the loft."
"What about you?"
"I'll stay a bit more, have a few more things to check. I
can't help thinking I'm missing something here."
"Okay, I'm going then. I can make some dinner too. Want
"Only you." Jim replied grinning, enjoying Blair's blush.
"Whatever you feel like doing, it's okay by me."
An hour later, Blair was waving goodbye to H outside the
loft. The elevator was working for a change so it only took him a minute
to reach their floor. He opened the door, got in, and dropped his backpack
to the floor. He never got a chance to turn around. Something hard and
painful connected with his skull and then everything went
Jim rubbed his eyes, feeling tired.
"Go home, Jim." Simon said. "You look beat."
"I am. But I won't be able to rest until I solve this
case. There's something wrong here, Simon, I can feel it."
"I don't know. I don't believe that Halloran was going to
get in on the robbery itself, I think he was just needed for information.
He was a geologist, didn't have the physical training necessary to pull
this job, but he knew the inside of the museum. He knew where the stone
would be, what time the guards changed shifts, when they did the rounds.
And he must have had a key to the museum to come and go while preparing
the exhibit, right? There was no break-in, and there was no other way the
thief could have walked in. No backdoor, no skylights..."
"So you're saying that Halloran was used for information.
And maybe he chickened out, and his accomplice or accomplices found out
and killed him."
"Makes sense, doesn't it? But even Halloran didn't have
access to the security."
"Exactly. So, how did the robber managed to override the
Jim raised his head all of a sudden. "That's it! It's so
simple I can't believe we didn't see it!"
"What is?" H asked, joining them.
"What if the security system wasn't overridden as we've
been thinking? What if someone knew how to disable it? Didn't the curator
say it was a new system, with a code that shut everything down? What if
someone knew that code?"
Simon shook his head. "Impossible. I talked with the
curator and he told me he is the only one that has the code. And he
memorized it, so there's no chance someone might have found a paper with
the code either."
"There's someone else that knows it." Jim replied,
"The person that installed it!"
"Shit! When the system is installed, the firm responsible
is given a copy for emergencies. Obviously, no one would think the thief
was from the company hired to secure the place. Damn! H, Rafe, call the
curator, ask which company does the security at the museum, then find out
which employees worked with the museum." Simon ordered.
A little over half an hour later, Rafe walked in Simon's
office with H behind, both looking uncomfortable.
"Well?" Simon demanded.
"The security company is called Protectus, we have the
list of the employees that worked with the museum." H cleared his throat.
"But I don't think Jim is going to like it."
"Why?" Jim asked, frowning.
Rafe gave him the list of names. "See for
Jim checked the names and all of a sudden his world fell
apart. "Mark Royce!"
"Isn't that your --?" Simon started.
"Yes. I have to go to Blair, he's in danger."
Simon picked up his coat. "Let's go!"
The first thing Blair felt waking up was an awful
headache. He moaned and tried to touch his head with his hands, only to
find they were tied up behind his back. The young man tried to decipher
where he was. He was pretty sure he was still in the loft, somehow the
atmosphere seemed familiar, and he was laying on a couch. Opening his eyes
slowly, he moaned again at the pain and nausea, but managed to keep
"I was starting to believe you were never going to wake
up!" someone said from behind him.
He couldn't see who it was, but recognized the voice
immediately. "Royce? What's going on?" he asked, hoping he sounded
Royce walked around the couch and stood in front of him.
"I told you we'd see each other again, didn't I? You should have believed
"You're insane. Jim will be here any minute."
"I don't plan on staying too long. I just came to say
"What do you want? Why are you here?"
"I'm pretty sure that Halloran didn't tell you anything,
but I can't take a chance," Royce said, ignoring Blair's
"Wha -- You killed Halloran!"
Royce smirked. "Yep. He was starting to get scared and I
knew he would screw up, so I decided to follow him. Imagine my surprise
when I found out he was spending his time following you!" the man stated,
pointing his gun at Blair.
"I don't know if it was because you worked with the cops
or just because he was hoping to get lucky," he said with a leer." But I
couldn't risk it so I killed him. I already had the information I wanted,
"You stole the diamond, didn't you?"
"Yes. Piece of cake. I work for the security company that
installed the system at the museum, I was the one responsible for it and
knew the code. That's what got me the idea in the first place, you see? I
would be able to get in and out and no one would know. I did a little
research, found out about the gems exhibit and checked which one was the
most valuable. After that it was easy to find a private collector crazy
enough to buy it from me."
"How did you get in the museum? I mean, the security
system had to be deactivated from the inside. And there was another alarm,
the one connected to the front door, that could only be deactivated with a
"Quite right. But everyone working with the museum had
such a key and Halloran gave me his."
"Jesus. And that 'accidental' meeting with
Royce laughed. "Not so accidental. See, the robbery was
supposed to go down the night I killed Halloran, but when I saw him
following you, saw you with Ellison and saw you in and out of the police
station, I knew one or both of you had to be cops. I waited a while, when
no one came to knock on my door I figured it was safe, but I wanted to be
sure. I staged the meeting and when he didn't arrest me and even looked so
happy to see me again, I knew it was safe. But you... You should have said
yes, my boy. I would have left you alone, you know? I really don't like
when people say no to me." The man sat on the coffee table, his knees
touching Blair's. "It's really a shame, I could have shown you what a real
man feels like. We could have had a really good time together." While he
talked, his hand started to caress the young man's leg, moving to the
inside of his thigh, feeling Blair's cock through his jeans.
Blair tried to move away, but two arms around his waist
brought him closer to the man. "You know," Royce whispered close to his
lips." Maybe I'll take you with me after all..."
The door burst open and Jim walked in with Simon at his
heels, both with their guns raised and targeting the thief.
"I don't think so, Royce. Let him go!"
"Ellison." Royce grabbed Blair and used him as a shield.
"Get out of my way or I'll kill him!"
"You know I can't do that, Mark! Put the gun down and let
him go. Now!"
"Not on your lifetime!"
Royce turned his gun on Blair, but both Jim and Simon were
faster and shot him, one bullet catching him in the shoulder, the other in
the hand. With a yell of pain, he freed the young man, and while Simon
kept an eye on the thief, Jim called for back-up and an
It was close to dawn when Jim and Blair finally were alone
in the loft. Jim hugged his lover and kissed the curly head. "I'm sorry. I
should have believed you when you told me about him."
"It's okay, I understand. We never want to hear that a
friend did something wrong or could be something different from what we
believe. When you two went through the things you did, it just makes it
harder." He sighed. "Jim?"
"I want you to know that I'm in this relationship for the
long haul, man. Forever. You know what I mean?"
Jim smiled. "Yeah, I know. Now I know. And so am I, Chief.
We'll make this work, you'll see, I promise. Come on, let's go upstairs."
They climbed the stairs hand and hand, stopping close to the bed, and
sitting down. "You okay?" Jim asked, rubbing Blair's back with his hand,
in a soothing massage.
"Yeah. Thanks for saving my life. Again!"
The Sentinel laughed. "No problem, Chief." His hand
started to move from the young man's back to his thigh, his fingers
seductively caressing him.
Jim leaned forward and gently kissed Blair on the lips,
caressing his cheek with one hand, while the other tangled in his hair.
The young man moaned softly as the detective's tongue claimed his mouth,
their tongues fighting for dominance, both shivering with delight.
Blair finally pulled away, smiling, his breath coming in
short pants. Jim placed a finger to the young man's lips, tracing them
with the finger. Blair kissed the finger, and licked it, drawing it into
his mouth, sucking on it gently, toying with it with his tongue, causing
Jim to moan in pleasure.
"God, I love you!"
"I love you too, Jim."
They undressed and laid down on the bed, twined around
each other, touching one another, knowing all the right places to bring
pleasure. Jim kissed Blair again, while his hand played with the young
man's left nipple. He teased it to arousal, rolling it between his thumb
and index finger, dragging a breathy moan from his lover's lips.
The young man ran his hands over Jim's tightly muscled
arms and shoulders, and was rewarded with a pleasured sigh and his name
murmured against his neck, as the detective trailed kisses along his
throat. Jim continued to kiss his way down Blair's hairy chest, pausing to
lick a nipple gently, sucking it into his mouth, and then biting it
lightly. He sucked on the nipple for a bit longer, and then moved to its
twin. While he was doing this, his hand rubbed the young man's cock,
causing him to moan and whimper continuously.
Jim's hand closed around Blair's hard cock. At first he
just held it, and then he began to stroke it slowly up and down the shaft.
When the young man's hips started to meet each stroke, the detective
stopped immediately. Blair groaned in frustration.
Jim chuckled, but didn't reply. His lips closed around
Blair's cock head and his tongue danced over the tip, as he gently sucked.
His mouth moved further down on the shaft and his tongue laved the
underside of Blair's cock. Jim started sucking a little harder as Blair
moved in and out of his mouth as if fucking it. The young man felt his
orgasm starting to build when his lover pulled away.
"Jim, I swear to God, if you don't finish this," he
started, panting hard. "I'll kill you when you're not looking!"
He let out a strangled whimper as Jim slipped a lubed
finger inside him and then two, scissoring them, preparing him to be
possessed. The young man was tossing his head from side to side, fingers
digging into the sheets at the unbelievable sensations he was feeling.
The detective moved between his lover's parted legs and
Blair thrust his hips up to his, inviting him to take what was his. With a
look of deep concentration Jim slowly entered his lover, sighing as he
settled fully into him, bodies fitting perfectly.
Jim covered Blair's lips with his again, and began to
thrust carefully into his lover, running his hands all over him, just as
Blair was doing to him. He was beginning to pump harder now, the young man
meeting him thrust for thrust.
Blair felt Jim's hand encircle his cock once again,
stroking him fast, driving him over the edge. He couldn't hold on and
came, shouting his lover's name. His climax triggered Jim's, and suddenly
he stiffened, thrust hard one last time into the young man, burying
himself deeply again, and began to convulse inside his lover.
They both fell asleep in each other's arms, still joined,
sated, exhausted, happy.
During the next few days, Jim tried in vain to get Royce
to tell them what happened to the diamond. The thief 's house had been
searched top to bottom, and no sign of the stone, or any clue that might
lead them to find it. All they knew was it was the newest addition to
someone's private collection.
It was a Wednesday. Jim and Blair had just arrived from
lunch when Simon called them.
"Ellison, Sandburg, my office."
"What's up, Captain?"
"Senator Thorton was found dead in his home. The maid made
the call, after she found him in the bathtub. I want you on this, go to
his house and see what happened. He was a personal friend of the
Commissioner and the heat will be on as soon as the news is
"Okay, we're on our way."
Senator Thorton had been taking a bath when he died. He
usually didn't take longer than twenty minutes, so when an hour passed and
he still hadn't come down, his maid went to check on him. She found him
dead in the bathtub, a small radio fallen in the water.
Blair looked at the body and shivered.
"Death by electrocution. God, what an awful way to go!
Think he was murdered? That someone threw the radio into the tub while it
Jim had been looking around for more than half an hour,
his senses doing a full sweep of the place. He sighed and shook his head.
"No, I think it was an accident. From the position of the body, I'd say he
was trying to reach a towel. Maybe he had shampoo in his eyes, his hair
has traces of it. While getting the towel, he must have knocked the radio
in the water. The maid said he liked to listen to the news while washing,
and that he always put the radio on the edge of the tub. Unfortunately,
accidents like this are a dime a dozen. People aren't careful and pay for
their carelessness," he shook his head again."I'm going to call Simon and
let him know."
While the detective went to call the Captain, Blair walked
around the house. It was a beautiful place, luxuriously decorated with
paintings and statues from famous artists. The young man walked along a
corridor, pausing to pick through the occasional door, always finding a
new room with more priceless artwork.
Passing another door, he looked inside and his heart
stopped. "Oh, wow!"
He walked in the room, finding himself surrounded by
dozens of glass cases with several types of minerals, gems, and jewelry
pieces. And there, right in the middle of the room, was Hope, the lost
Blair heard steps behind him, but didn't turn around, he
kept watching the breathtaking gem. "Isn't it beautiful? Did you know that
the ancient Greeks believed that diamonds were splinters of stars fallen
to earth, and even that they might be the tears of gods? And that Cupid's
arrows were said to be tipped with diamonds, and had a magic that nothing
else could equal. The very word 'diamond' comes from the Greek 'adamas'
meaning unconquerable, suggesting the eternity of love. Looking at it,
isn't so hard to believe, is it? How can a simple stone be so
The detective hugged him from behind and licked his ear.
"Yeah, and also deadly. I'm starting to believe all that curse stuff you
told us. It's pretty obvious that it was Thorton that bought Hope from
Royce. Look what happened to him!"
"James Ellison! Are you trying to say that you, the
skeptic of the century, believe in a curse?"
"Well, I'm not saying I do, and I'm not saying I don't,
"I wouldn't want that diamond for my birthday either!" he
finished with a grin.
Taggart looked at Jim. "You want to tell us why you
invited us all for dinner?"
H grinned. "Yeah, not that we didn't enjoy the invitation,
mind you! But you got that look on your face that says you're trying to
find a way to tell us something, and are having a hard time."
"Man, am I that transparent?" Jim asked and got a chorus
of "yes" from his friends.
"Uh, okay. Well, yeah, I have something to tell you all.
Simon sighed dramatically. "Jim, get it over with. This is
getting really old, really fast!"
The detective fidgeted from foot to foot, and looked at
the floor uncomfortable. Megan felt sorry for him and asked. "Is this
about you and Sandy?"
Jim looked at her. "How --?"
She sighed. "Jim, we all know. It was hard not to notice
the changes after we returned from Sierra Verde, you know? You've been
more open, much more relaxed. And Sandy, he's positively
Rafe nodded. "Yeah, and give us some credit, man! We *are*
detectives, after all!"
"So, you're okay with this?" Jim wanted to
"We're your friends." Taggart replied. "I don't pretend to
understand the crazy relationship you two have, but it works and that's
"Yeah," Megan continued. "We love you both and want to see
you happy. Personally, I think you make a beautiful couple."
Jim blushed and the others laughed. "Thanks, guys, this
means a lot to us."
"No problem. Now, where's your better half? I could eat
one of those weird, delicious meals he makes!" Taggart stated.
"He should be here any minute. But he doesn't
Just then, the door opened and Blair walked inside. "Hey,
guys! What are you doing here?" He dropped his backpack, and joined
Simon frowned. "Jim didn't tell you he invited us for
Blair shook his head. "What's going on, Jim?" he asked,
looking at his lover.
"Well, remember when you wanted to tell our friends about
us and I said no? I thought about it, and you were right about that. If we
want to make this relationship work, we have to include our friends. So, I
Blair stood silent a moment, digesting the information,
then he looked at the others. "So, you're okay with this?"
Rafe grinned. "Well, we already answered that question,
but since you're late, I guess we're going to have to repeat
"You're *so* not funny, man!" Blair said, grinning back at
"We're okay with it. We wish you guys the best. Now, how
about one of those famous exotic meals of yours?"
"Slave drivers! I just arrived, and you guys already want
me slaving by the stove!"
"That's because we recognize your culinary virtues." H
stated, trying to keep a straight face.
Blair snorted. "Yeah, right! You'll get Thai take out and
consider yourselves lucky!"
"If that's how you treat all your guests, no wonder you
don't have more people visiting, man!"
The young man ordered the food and returned to the couch,
sitting near Jim. His lover immediately grabbed his hand and laced their
"Awww! Ain't that sweet?" H grinned.
"Keep that up and you'll be having dinner on the stairs!"
"Oh, yeah? And who'll make me?"
Blair smiled sweetly and rested his head in Jim's
shoulder. "My boyfriend here." he said softly and all laughed.
Simon looked at him. "So, you're in this for the duration,
The young man looked at his lover. "Oh yeah! Like I told
him, for the long haul. At least --"
"What?" Jim asked, worried.
"At least, I Hope!" Blair finished and started to laugh.
When none of the others laughed, he said. "Hope, get it? The diamond? I
A chorus of groans was heard.
"What?! It wasn't that bad! Come on, admit it, it was a
There was a knock at the door and Blair went to get the
food. James Ellison took a deep breath and relaxed in his seat. Another
case had ended and life was returning to normal, as normal as possible
with him and Sandburg, anyway. But they were in love and would face life
together. Sentinel and Guide against the world. And they would
Author's note: The Hope diamond, the Bismark Sapphire, and the Crown Napoleon gave Marie Louise do exist, and are part of the Smithsonian Institute gems and minerals collection, shown in the Museum of Natural History. I don't know if Hope is really cursed. :-) I'll leave that to everyone's beliefs and imagination, but everything related about its owners did happen. What Blair says while looking at the diamond, near the end of the story, about what the ancient Greeks believed diamonds to be, is also true. You can see the diamond at this URL: http://hopediamondcurse.com/stone.htm