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Jack stared at Blair in surprise. "They-they aren't? But –"

"No," Blair shook his head, "they aren't."

"But those masks are real," Mike argued. "Right?"

"Yes, as far as we can tell," Grant nodded. "I'm just not sure which tribe yet. It would have helped if the pieces had been a bit larger."

"So what were they doing with the masks then?" Mike demanded. "No White Man would be buried with Native American masks."

"I don't know," Blair shrugged. "Perhaps you do, Harry."

"Me?" Harry pointed a finger at his chest. "You think that I…?" He shook his head in disbelief. "Oh come on, Sandburg. You know me better than that. Do you really think that I'd destroy a cultural mask just to plant evidence on the grounds?"

Blair shrugged again. "Evidence has been planted, Harry. Look at how folks were fooled by the so-called Piltdown Man, supposedly a missing link between man and ape. Or look at the suspected salting of some sites around Chaco Canyon, just so some unscrupulous archeologists could keep the pilfered pottery and shards that were from federally protected lands."

"Even if the mask turns out to be Quinault or even Lummi," Harry argued, "they would still be Native American. Sandburg, Blair, you can't believe that I would…that I could destroy this beautiful artwork!"

Blair sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah, it is a little hard to believe."

"And just where the hell did I supposedly get these bodies, anyway?" Harry demanded.

"It looks like they might have been stolen from Olde Towne," Rafe answered the young grad student.

"Now wait a damned minute!" Jack pointed an accusatory finger at Rafe and Brown. "Are you accusing Harry of…of digging up three bodies from Olde Towne and-and putting them in the construction site?"

"I guess we are," Brown nodded.

"The evidence does seem to support it," Rafe added.

"Well," Blair interrupted, "that's the way that the evidence was pointing."

"Was?" Rafe frowned in confusion. "Is."

"Was," Blair repeated stubbornly. "Why'd you do it, Jack?"

"Me?" Jack stared at Blair in surprise. "What makes you think that I –"

"Because," Blair said firmly, "you're the only one who said how many bodies were found at the construction site."

"So?" Jack blustered. "I mean, I must have heard the number when Ms. Hawks was telling you about the bones."

Sharon stared at Jack calmly. "I never told him how many bodies had been found. I never knew."

"Harry didn't even know," Grant added, also staring at Jack in surprise. "We left the site before Dr. Wolfe had the bodies bagged."

Mike glowered at Jack and started to advance toward the smaller Indian. "You were gonna let Harry take the blame for something you did?"

"No!" Jack protested, his eyes wide with fear. "I mean…." He ran a hand through his dark hair. "They were supposed to be Native American! I read the old papers –"

"There were Native Americans buried there," Grant acknowledged. "But they were re-interred on Quinault land ten years ago. I helped with the move."

"But," Jack shook his head. "But –"

"How could you?" Harry stalked slowly, angrily toward the student. "How could you, Jack?" His hands flexed as he continued to advance on Jack. Rafe and Brown moved to stand on either side of the student. "You know how I feel about things like that. Native American, black or white."

"How could I?" Jack asked, staring back at Harry. "How could I not?"

"Uh, before you say anything else, I should read you your rights," Brown cautioned Jack.

"My rights?" Jack laughed bitterly. "This is our land! I should be getting paid for the university using this land! I shouldn't have to be scrimping and scrounging around to find grants and loans so I can finish my degree! Those are my rights!"

"You have the right to remain silent," Brown began as Rafe pulled out a set of handcuffs.

"Yeah right," Jack snorted. "You mean like the Cigar Indian in front of the store, right? That kind of silence?"

"If you give up the right to remain silent," Brown continued, "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law."

"It is all the time."

"You have the right to an attorney present during questioning," Brown told him. "If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you by the court."

"Oh yeah," Jack laughed. "You mean a public defender who has so damned many cases all he's gonna do is figure out a plea bargain with the DA to expedite my case. He's not gonna listen to me any more than anyone else has."

"Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?" Brown concluded.

"I understand them," Jack affirmed, his tone dark.

"Why?" Harry continued to stare at the young man. "Why would you do such a thing?"

"Why?" Jack glared at Harry. "Why do you think? To get the state to agree to your demands. To help you get what you wanted. To get some brothers back to their homeland." He looked over at Grant. "I didn't know that the NAGPRA had moved the bodies back; there was no documentation on that."

"And what about the masks?" Harry demanded, shock at what Jack had done still apparent in his voice and on his face. "Did you destroy them?"

Jack shook his head. "No; they're from my grandfather's work shed. He had pieces of old masks that didn't make the cut in his or his grandfather's eyes. He always was holding them up to me, showing me how not to make a mask. I just took them and scattered the pieces in the site after I put the bodies in the hole."

"Let's go," Rafe gently pulled his suspect toward the door.

Head down, Jack walked between Rafe and Brown to the door. He stopped and looked back at Harry. "It should have worked, Harry," Jack said softly. "I mean, who's gonna report the theft of Indian bodies? And if you'd seen the way they let the graves go – no care at all!" He gave a short, barking laugh. "Now I find out it was for one of their own. Who would have thought they'd be so uncaring about one of their own?"

Harry and Mike watched with sorrow, shock and dismay on their faces as Jack left in the custody of Rafe and Brown. Sharon and Blair watched with sadness etched on their faces.

"So now what?" Harry finally demanded, turning to stare defiantly at the group.

"Now," Blair answered, "we can discuss the contract with the Quileute elders and the Rainier trustees, the way it should be."

"You really think they're gonna listen to me and my demands?" Harry asked.

Blair shrugged. "Depends on the demands. Some of them, I have to admit aren't bad. They need a bit of polish," he added, "but the ideas behind some of them sound pretty reasonable to me."

"Really?" Grant stared at Blair. "Which ones are you thinking of?"

"Well, why not have a Native American in charge of the displays?" Blair asked Grant. "I know that eighteen years ago there wasn't a Native American qualified with a degree here. That's no longer true."

"Well…" Grant hemmed.

Blair pinned Grant with a stern expression. "Josh, you know that handling the display has been a major problem for you these past few years, especially with your added duties. You've been wanting help, begging for it in fact. Now, Harry and Mike here, they want to have a hand in taking care of their heritage. I'd say that it sounds like an answer to your problems and their demand."

"I agree. But neither has their doctorate yet," Grant pointed out.

"The key word is 'yet,'" Blair countered.

Grant nodded thoughtfully. "That's true; and I do need the help. My assistant is going to be moving on after this semester. So," he turned to the young activists, "do you two think you can work with this White Man to fix up the exhibit?"

"I can try," Mike nodded.

"I suppose," Harry added with a sigh. "But the monetary repayment to the tribe is still pretty puny."

"I don't control the monetary aspect, Harry," Grant reminded the student. "You know that."

"Yeah, but I bet they'd listen to your suggestions," Harry countered.

"They might," Grant allowed. "But I can't make any promises. After all, I have to prove to them that the money spent will be worth it to them in the long run."

"I'll help get that proof," Harry promised.

"Hey," Mike elbowed his friend, "I can give a hand there, too."

"I can use all the proof that you two can get for me," Grant smiled at them.

Sharon leaned over and whispered in Blair's ear, "Do you think we're needed here any more?"

Blair leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Probably not," he admitted. "But why don't we stick around until they finish for today? We were here for the birth of this baby; I'd like to see how the kid develops."

Sharon looked at him, then at the former adversaries, now sitting around the table, eagerly discussing ways to show how the university could afford more money to be paid out.

"You're right," she nodded, settling back in her chair. "This could be interesting."

"Very interesting indeed."

Epilogue

By the time Blair got home from the university, Jim had already started on supper and Libby was underfoot hoping for a handout.

"Libby, you're gonna get stepped on if you stay beside me like that, girl. What would Blair say if he came home and saw you with a squashed tail, hmm?" Jim looked down at the terrier.

"Blair would say she wouldn't be underfoot if you didn't keep giving her scraps, man," Blair said walking into the kitchen. "And don't try to deny it; she doesn't act this way when I cook," he added as Jim tried to plaster an innocent look on his face.

"So, what was the big deal at the university today, Chief? Brown and Rafe came back with a perp and said you would explain."

Jim turned back to the stove and accidentally on purpose dropped a chunk of hamburger on the floor. Libby glanced at it, then Blair and seeing Blair was walking out to the living room, she lunged for the treat.

"You remember Harry Payne?" When Jim grunted, Blair continued, "This was just his latest attempt at getting more money for his tribe. Too bad one of his cronies decided to do a little grave robbing to help Harry's cause."

"Ouch! I take it Harry didn't know?"

"Not a whisper. I wasn't sure Brown was going to get Jack out of the room before Harry or Mike lit into him." Blair walked back into the kitchen and noticed Libby licking her chops. "Just remember, man, you get her fat, and you're going to be the one taking her for a run twice a day."


After supper, where Blair noticed Jim sneaking Libby food at least twice, Blair decided to ask the burning question.

"So, I saw Megan at the station while I was filling out my report on the bodies," Blair said carefully. "She mentioned Champ." He wasn't sure how far he would be allowed to push Jim on this; his childhood was not something Jim discussed willingly.

Jim got up from his chair and walked to the balcony doors; unnoticed by Jim, Libby had followed. "All I wanted was a pal to run around with; play fetch, greet me when I came home from school. Dad… wanted another prize to brag about." Jim spoke so softly Blair could barely hear what was said, though he heard the hurt in Jim's voice easily enough.

Before Blair could say anything, Libby reached up and started to lick Jim's fingers. "You know Jim, it may be a few years too late, but you do have a pal to run around with, and greet you when you get home," Blair said softly, nodding at Libby. As Jim reached down to scratch Libby's ears, Blair added, smiling now, "Of course, now that she's had so much of your chili, you're going to be doing a lot more running."

~~End~~


 


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