Productions Presents Season Five Episode Thirteen
By DawnC and Alberte Epilogue by Ismaro
Blair read the sentence for the third time. Man, he just couldn't concentrate. Graduation was less than two weeks away, and he'd officially be Doctor Blair Sandburg. After all of the years he'd spent working toward that goal, it still seemed somewhat unreal that it was finally coming to fruition. Doctor Blair Sandburg. Doctor Sandburg. It tripped lightly off his tongue, a sweet sound.
A knock pulled his attention from the student paper that he was supposed to be grading. He looked up and saw a familiar young man with short red hair and a round face that displayed a faint spattering of freckles.
"Hey, Scott." Blair rose from his chair and glanced at his watch. "Wow, it's that time already?"
Scott Boyle stepped hesitantly into the office, offering a tiny smile. "Yes, Mr. Sandburg, and I really appreciate this."
Blair waved a hand in the air and moved around his desk, walking to the door and locking it. "Don't mention it, and call me Blair." He gestured into the hallway and followed Scott, closing the door behind him. "I'm always interested in heightened senses."
"Yeah, but I bet you get these requests a lot. Not just from poor T.A.'s like me. Undergrads. The public. You know...."
Blair grinned. "Not as much as I'd like. There are tons of people with one or two heightened senses, but few in Cascade that I haven't already worked with for my thesis. I have gotten a lot of calls, however."
Scott's smile brightened. "Hey, you could start your own sensory consulting business."
Blair chuckled and turned to his right, pushing open the door to the lab. "And give up teaching? Nah, man. I love this stuff." He leaned on the lab counter. "Okay, so down to business. It's your hearing, right?"
Scott nodded. "Yeah. Like I told you before, the sound seems to travel from one ear to the other. You know, like speakers on a stereo with surround sound? And some things seem much too loud. Other times, it's like I'm under water."
Blair frowned and cocked his head. "And you still haven't seen a doctor about this?"
"Uh, no." Scott ducked his head. "Not yet. I have a small phobia about going to the doctor."
Blair sighed. "Well, I'll gladly put you through a few tests, but you should face your fear, man, and make an appointment to see a physician. This sounds more like a medical problem, and that's way out of my area. The last thing I want to do is get busted for practicing medicine without a license."
Scott nodded quickly. "I swear I will, Mr. Sandburg, uh, Blair. It's just that I don't have a cold, and I feel fine otherwise. And, at night, it's getting really hard to sleep because sounds are too loud. My roommate was watching the television on mute with closed captioning because he didn't want to disturb me, and I could still hear the dialogue." He swallowed and eyed Blair hopefully. "So, you'll still run me through a few tests?"
Carl Murphy snapped his cell phone closed and stifled a curse, punching the steering wheel of his BMW. The heat was getting too close, putting him and the entire operation in jeopardy. A hell of a lot of money was at stake. He needed to do something, and he needed to do it fast. Maybe he could find a scapegoat, someone to take the fall and satisfy the feds. Once they closed the investigation, Carl could pack up the operation and move it elsewhere without the DEA on his tail.
Pushing his door open, he slid out of his car and headed for Hargrove Hall. The Boyle kid should have the next shipment ready, and maybe, just maybe, Carl could fix it so that the snot-nosed redhead took the fall. The only problem he could see with that was that the kid would turn over on him in an instant, and the feds weren't stupid enough to believe that a little T.A. with no prior history could run such a sophisticated operation on his own.
Stepping into the building, Carl spotted Boyle and another man coming out of an office. He recognized Boyle's companion instantly. Blair Sandburg, the man who had made the press in a big way not so long ago. Sandburg had also been partially responsible for the downfall of one of Carl's business partners. When Parkman had gone down, Carl had lost over twenty grand. In fact, if he remembered correctly, Sandburg had actually been arrested for possession of heroin during that operation. He smiled. It was almost too perfect.
The two Rainier students walked toward Carl, engaged in conversation. He saw Scott glance his way, a nervous expression flickering over his face, then return his gaze to Sandburg.
Yeah, we'll talk later, kid. Carl grinned, listening to the conversation as the two men passed him.
"Thanks again, Blair, and I'll make an appointment first thing."
"Good. Hate to tell you it's probably just an ear infection, but that's my best guess."
"No problem. I'll be seeing you around."
Carl stopped and turned around. "Oh, Scott."
Scott froze, then slowly turned away from Sandburg to look at him. "Oh, hi, Barry. I, uh... What's up, man?"
Carl smiled politely. "About those Mobile Meal boxes we've got to load..."
"Right!" Scott took a breath, bouncing nervously. "I was just finishing up something with Mr. Sandburg."
"Oh, silly me." Carl extended his hand. "Hello there, I'm Barry Gil." Carl used his alternate name smoothly. "I'm one of the volunteers for Mobile Meals, and Scott's been kind enough to help us out."
"Oh, right." Blair smiled and shook the hand. "Blair Sandburg, pleased to meet you. Mobile Meals delivers food to the sick and elderly, right?"
"Yep. We also provide some of the older people with much-needed company."
"Sounds like a great program." Blair pushed his hands into his trouser pockets.
"Yep, it is. In fact, we're loading some of the boxes into the van later this afternoon. We could use an extra hand, if you've got some time."
"Oh, Blair's pretty busy," Scott interrupted quickly.
"No problem." Blair smiled. "I'm happy to help. I'm free after two for a little bit."
Carl grinned. "That's perfect! I'll meet you here at 2:15?"
Scott shook his head. "It's really okay, Blair. You don't have to--"
"I'll see you two then." Blair patted Scott on the arm. "Really, it's okay with me. I'll enjoy it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to teach a class in a few minutes."
"Goodbye, Blair." Carl smiled. "And thanks!"
Jim stared at the monitor on his desk, a small smile blossoming on his face. He looked at the balance in his money market account. It wasn't quite enough, but almost... If he sold a few of his stock shares, he'd be able to purchase the item in more than enough time. It had been on hold with his hefty deposit for about a month. Jim couldn't believe he'd actually found it, but his hard work and detective skills had paid off. He couldn't wait...
Jim's smile widened into a grin. Blair would graduate in two weeks and receive his Ph.D., summa cum laude. Jim couldn't help feeling a twinge of guilt with that thought, but at least Blair had reached his dream. He would get his PhD, continue teaching, and remain Jim's partner. Life was good.
"Hey, Jim," a deep voice grumbled.
Jim quickly hit the alt-tab on his keyboard to switch the monitor view to his email application. He swiveled in his chair to face the captain. "Hello, sir. What can I do for you?"
"Doing a little personal banking?"
Jim kept a stoic face. "Nope."
"Oh, no?" Simon crossed his arms. "Well, Detective, just remember that the city of Cascade doesn't pay you to keep track of your personal finances using your work computer."
Jim grimaced. "Yes, sir. Sorry, sir."
"Of course, if you've got something planned that you'd like to share..." Simon grinned.
Jim leaned back in his chair, a faint smile lifting his lips. "Nope."
Simon rolled his eyes. "Riigght."
"You came over here for a reason, sir?" Jim managed a small grin. "Not that I don't enjoy your company..."
Simon sat on the edge of Jim's desk. "Yeah, I'm here for a reason." He leaned closer to Jim and looked briefly around the bullpen, lowering his voice. "You started on the party preparations? What do you want me to do?"
Jim's grin blossomed. "Yep. I've got the back room of the restaurant reserved and managed to invite most of Blair's friends at the university. A lot of them are also graduating, however, so I'm guessing they've got their own things to go to. At any rate, everyone here at MC has been invited, and I told them all to keep it hush-hush. Sandburg won't know what hit him."
Simon chuckled. "I can't wait. It's definitely something I intend to preserve for posterity on film. Daryl's coming, too, by the way."
"Great." Jim leaned forward in his chair. "He's worked damn hard for this day, and I'm gonna make sure we give him one hell of a party."
Carl grinned as Scott fidgeted next to him. Sure enough, there was Blair Sandburg, striding down the hall, right on time.
"Okay, so where do we start?" Sandburg smiled and bounced on the balls of his feet. "Just point me in the right direction."
Carl grinned and pointed down the hall. "Four doors down to your right." He reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved his keys. "The van's parked in the loading zone right out front. It's a white minivan. Scott and I have to run to one of the storage closets here and retrieve a few more boxes. Would you mind starting while we do that? It'd save us a lot of time."
Scott fidgeted. "You know, Barry, I'm sure Blair...."
Blair took the keys. "It's not a problem. Really. It's been far too long since I've done community service." He grinned. "It's good Karma."
"Thank you, Blair." Carl smiled, gently grabbed Scott's arm, and steered him toward the staircase. "We'll see you in a few minutes."
Once on the staircase, Scott turned to him. "Why'd you ask Blair to do this? What if he finds out...?"
"The boxes are all sealed, Scott, don't worry. Look, go to your office and get me yesterday's delivery files. Oh, and run the inventory numbers for last week, too. Bring them to me out back. I'll be waiting on the bench, then we'll go help Sandburg."
"But, that's going to take some time. What about Blair?"
"He'll be fine! They're just boxes. Now move, Boyle. I don't have a lot of time."
"Right." Practically gulping his breaths, Scott turned and hurried up the stairs.
Carl grinned and yanked out his cell phone, hitting the autodial. It was a new phone. He changed them frequently to thwart any wiretaps.
"Hello," the familiar voice answered.
"It's me. Is it all set?"
"Yep, I've got a good, clear view of the building. Two unmarked cars are stationed across the street. Apparently, your anonymous tip did the trick." A chuckle. "The feds are so subtle."
"Good. I'm gonna split. I don't want to be anywhere around when the heat comes down on Sandburg's head."'
"What about Boyle?"
"He's out of the way at the moment. By the time he's finished doing the little errands I gave him, the show'll be over, and I'll be gone."
"What if he squeals?"
"He won't. He's stupid, but not that stupid. I don't want to take him out if I don't have to. That'll raise even more heat, and the local cops might not be as happy as the feds to close the investigation. Besides, the kid only knows my alias, not my real name."
"Okay. I'll let you know when it's over."
"Thanks. See ya."
He hung up the phone and walked down the stairs to the lower level. He'd take the back way out.
Blair used the key to unlock the back door of the waiting van, not certain whether he should start loading boxes into the back or the side first. Once the door was opened, he saw the racks built in to hold the boxes, and decided that it would be safe to start there. Whistling slightly under his breath, he pocketed the keys and headed back into the building for his first armload of packages.
Finding the indicated hallway door unlocked, he walked in and found a large number of almost shoebox-sized white boxes stacked neatly on top of a long counter that extended across the back wall. Wow, I wonder if this is just one day's deliveries. No wonder they always need volunteers.
Filling his arms with as many of the boxes as he could safely juggle, as they weren't very heavy, he turned and headed back out to the van, only bumping his arm briefly on the doorframe on the way out. He peered around the side of the stack to make sure that he didn't fall down the stairs on the way out and gave a sigh of relief when he set his first load into the van and arranged them neatly on the highest shelf. He turned and returned for another load.
The second time he filled his arms more quickly, now that he knew what he was doing. On his way back down the hallway, he saw a man with a vaguely familiar face coming toward him, and he smiled in hello.
"Hi, how's it going?"
The other man didn't reply, simply smiled back and kept walking. Blair wrote it off as someone too tied up in his own thoughts, a state that he was all too familiar with himself. He let it go and continued on his task, letting his own thoughts drift a bit toward his upcoming graduation and what would likely be an unforgettable celebration afterward, if he knew his roommate at all.
He finished stacking the third load into the back of the van, leaning in to be sure that the boxes were stacked all the way to the back of the shelf. Blair straightened, turned and began to step forward, only to find his way blocked by two stern-looking men in almost-matching leather jackets, one black and one brown. One of them held open a leather bi-fold wallet, a badge in one flap and DEA identification in the other.
"Hold it right there, mister. Slowly raise your hands up and away from your body."
Blair slowly followed directions, stunned speechless.
The agents took a couple of steps back and gestured ahead of him.
"I want you to walk forward ten feet and stop. Keep your hands up." Blair complied. "Turn around, put your hands on your head and interlace your fingers."
When Blair walked forward and then turned, he was again struck speechless at the sight before him. Two uniformed officers, guns drawn and pointed at him, were standing by the front doors of the van, one on each side. A couple more agents with black jackets and baseball caps that proclaimed "DEA" in bright yellow letters trotted into the building entrance, hands on their still-holstered weapons. Out of the corner of his eye he spotted a patrol car pulling up, the K-9 logo on the side.
The man that had earlier passed him in the hallway came out of the building and called out to the agent at Blair's side.
"No one else in sight."
"Wha…what's going on here?" Blair stuttered as he finally regained his voice. The black-jacketed agent beside him held up a hand for silence with a grim expression.
The K-9 officer and his dog got out of their car and walked toward the van. After only a few moments, the dog sounded loudly at the van's back door, his handler barely able to keep him from leaping inside.
"That's it." The apparent agent-in-charge pulled a radio out of his pocket and spoke rapidly into it. "We've got it, move in. Secure the room and make a quick search of the area. We haven't seen anyone else, but we don't want to miss any accomplices of our long-haired friend here."
He pocketed the radio and gestured to the uniformed officers, who holstered their weapons and approached Blair. One of them began reciting his Miranda rights as the other frisked him efficiently, handing his wallet and the van keys to Brown Jacket before cuffing Blair's hands behind his back.
"You have the right to remain silent. Should you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you…"
"What's going on here? What are you arresting me for?"
Another uniformed officer walked up and handed one of the opened white boxes to the officer in charge. He reached in with a gloved hand and pulled out a plastic bag, holding it up in front of Blair's astonished face. The contents were unmistakable.
"Looks like marijuana to me, Jack."
His partner looked up, grinning. "Looks like marijuana to me, too, Tommy boy."
The first man opened up Blair's wallet and glanced at his driver's license.
"What does it look like to you, uh, Blair?" he grinned.
The uniformed officer droned on, reciting Blair's rights almost on automatic.
"…you have a right to an attorney. Should you be unable to afford one…."
"Look, guys, this is some kind of a mistake…. Blair blurted out.
"Sure it is, pal, that's what they all say. You're being arrested for possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Now, how about making it easy on yourself and giving up your partners. Unless you're in this all alone?"
Blair watched as a uniform walked out of the building and shook his head, calling out.
"Didn't find anyone else around. There's probably another fifty boxes inside."
Black Jacket whistled and grinned. "Well, well, well, boys and girls, I'd say we've caught us a good one today."
Looking around frantically, Blair spotted no sign of either Scott or his friend, Barry. Realization dawned over him that he'd been left holding the bag.
Other than agents checking out the scene and gathering evidence, he realized with a sinking feeling that the surrounding area was filling with students, faculty and passersby, checking out the commotion. As officers waved people on their way, Blair could see several faces that he recognized. He felt his face flush, and he looked down to avoid the stares of shock and recognition aimed at him.
A hand roughly grabbed his arm and pulled him forward.
"All right. Let's take this one in. Maybe he'll be a little more talkative once Brainerd gets hold of him."
Blair stumbled along, in shock, barely putting one foot in front of the other. This can't be happening, this can't be happening…
He was startled when his head struck the door frame as he was being placed into the back of a squad car. Only the firm grasp on his upper arm kept him from falling to his knees.
"Hey, I told you to watch your head. Pay attention, here. Now get in there." This time the officer put a hand on top of Blair's head and pushed it down as he helped him into the car's back seat.
Uncomfortably scooting across the seat, his cuffed hands making his movements awkward, Blair barely noticed the staring faces as the car pulled out of the parking lot and headed down the street. What the hell is happening here? And what is Jim gonna think? And all of the rest of Major Crimes? And, oh God, Chancellor Edwards…
He let his head drop against his chest as his thoughts swirled deeper and deeper into despair.
Jim dropped into the seat at his desk. With just a quick, guilty look around to make sure that Simon wasn't in range, he turned to his computer and logged off the CPD internal email system and accessed the Internet. Signing in to his personal email account, he eagerly checked for new messages received since he had been caught red-handed by Simon a couple of hours before.
Gratefully, he spotted the message from his broker that he'd been waiting for. The broker had gotten what he needed from liquidating those shares, so the financial piece was finally falling into place. Opening his desk drawer, Jim dug out the email address that he needed for the next step. Quickly typing out a brief email, planning to continue on his home computer after work, he clicked on "send" and logged off. A smile broke across his face as it looked like his plans might actually come to fruition.
"Hey, Jim, share the good news with us. What's up?" Henri sauntered up to Jim's desk with a grin. "You look like the cat that ate the canary, man. Come on, give."
Jim leaned back in his chair, interlocking his fingers behind his head, spreading his elbows wide in contentment.
"What do you mean, H? Can't a man just be happy in his work?"
Henri snorted in disbelief. "Yeah, sure. To be that happy, you must have nailed one of America's Most Wanted."
"No, but I have finished the paperwork on the Linardi and Swanson cases, and as soon as Sandburg gets here and finishes his statement on the Cummings bust, I'll be able to get half of this pile off my desk."
"Not bad, not bad. Where is your better half, anyway?"
"Very funny, H, but don't give up your day job. He's at Rainier today, but he said he should be here around three. Any time now, as a matter of fact."
"Speaking of our favorite scholar, I still can't believe that he's really getting that PhD. After all the times I've called him 'Doc' as a joke, now he really will be one. So what are you getting him for a graduation present?"
"I can't tell you, it's a secret."
"Come on, you can tell me. My lips are sealed."
"No way, pal, I'm not taking any chances. When's the last time you could keep a secret from him? He gets you talking and, before you know it, you've told him your life story. Nope, this one is going to stay secret."
Despite Henri's best efforts at begging, Jim resisted.
"Fine, Jim, be that way. Anyway, I still haven't gotten him anything. Any suggestions?"
Before he could respond, Simon joined them. The grim look on his face soured their festive mood.
"Not you, too, Simon. Don't tell me that you can't think of a single thing to get Sandburg for a graduation present?"
Simon took a deep breath before replying.
"Jim, I've got bad news. Sandburg…."
Jim sat up, freeing his hands from behind his head.
"What now, Simon? Don't tell me his car's broken down. Why didn't he call me instead?"
"Jim, let me finish. I just got a call from Dave Enberg. Remember, he got transferred over to Eastside? He got tapped to assist with a federal operation today, at the University, and he recognized the suspect."
"No, Simon, no…"
"Sandburg's been arrested, and he's in holding at the Federal Building."
"What, Captain?" Henri's eyebrows shot up. "Arrested? For what?"
Jim was on his feet. "What the hell?"
"The charges are for possession of drugs with the intent to distribute, and the DEA has the case."
"No way!" Henri exclaimed. "It must be some kind of mistake, right?"
"You must be kidding, Simon…" Jim took a long look at his superior. "Oh my God, you're serious."
"I am, Jim. I'm headed over there right now. You coming?"
Striding over to the coat rack and grabbing his jacket, Jim beat him to the door. Simon had to quicken his step to catch up, and they bypassed the elevator and headed straight for the stairs.
"You tell Hairboy to hang tough!" Henri called after them.
Continue to Act 2
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