Loose Ends, Part 2
Summary: Some loose ends are more easily handled than others. Part of A New Direction series; continues on from Loose Ends, Part 1; crossover with Stargate SG-1.
Author’s Note: Un-beta’d as usual. Lovers of Naomi will not like this part very much…actually, this is not exactly a happy story for the most part.
Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, et al, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount. Jack and the gang belong to MGM, and the other Stargate Powers That Be. No copyright infringement is intended.
Jim shifted uneasily under the glare that Naomi sent his way. Maybe he could just sidle over and hide behind Teal’c and O’Neill until hurricane Naomi had left town? He glanced over at Blair and sighed. No, they were in this together. There was no way he could leave Blair to face Naomi alone and live with his conscience. Unfortunately.
“Hello, Naomi. It’s great that you could be here today for Blair,” he tried a friendly smile, but Naomi’s expression had hardened as her gaze had moved to take in O’Neill and Carter’s uniforms. Oh boy.
“Jim,” Naomi’s voice was flat and definitely less than friendly. She returned her attention to Blair. “What’s going on, Sweetie?” She grasped his arm and gently drew him away from the others, stopping Jim with another glare when he made as if to follow.
“Jim and I have accepted positions with the military in Colorado Springs,” Blair had decided that straight out was the only way to tell her. “We start on the twenty-seventh.”
“I know that I can’t have heard you correctly, Baby,” Naomi told him, her shock obvious to everyone. “No son of mine would ever work for the jack-booted minions of an oppressive government.”
“You did hear me correctly, Naomi,” Blair’s voice was quiet but firm. “It’s important work, and something that we both feel we have to do. I hope you’ll try and understand.”
“This is all your fault!” Naomi hissed angrily at Jim. “You’ve taken away his independence, his free spirit! It wasn’t enough that you drew him into your sordid little world when you were a pig, now you’ve dragged him even further down into the pit by forcing him to follow you into the military! To live and work with baby killers and rapists!”
Jim, who had been trying to think of a way to ease the tension between Blair and his mother, was rendered speechless for a long moment by Naomi’s hate-filled words. His eyes hardened as he returned her stare. “So much for being open minded and tolerant, Naomi,” his voice was dangerously soft. “You don’t seem to have much respect for Blair. You don’t credit him with being able to make his own decisions, follow his own path, do you?”
“Don’t you dare speak to me that way!” Naomi yelled, her anger now all-consuming. “Blair destroyed his academic career for you! You left him no choice but to follow you like an obedient dog!”
“That’s enough!” Blair’s face was white, his lips compressed with a level of anger that Jim had never seen him demonstrate before.
“Sweetie,” Naomi turned to him, her face softening, her tone wheedling, “let me take you away from all this. I know a spiritual healer who’ll help you put all of this mess behind you. He’ll help you free yourself from that – that man’s influence. I can save you, Honey, I know I can.”
“I don’t need saving, Naomi,” Blair told her sadly. “I’d hoped that you’d be happy that I’d finally gotten my doctorate, and that I’d found a job where I can really make a difference.”
“In the military? You know how I feel about them, Blair! I can’t believe you’d disappoint me so badly, that you’d reject everything I taught you!” Naomi’s eyes filled with tears.
“And I can’t believe that you think so little of me that you believe that I’d just do whatever Jim told me to do, that I’m not capable of making my own decisions,” Blair refused to allow his mother’s tears to sway him, realising, not for the first time, that tears were what Naomi had often used to manipulate him into doing what she wanted. The thought depressed him even more than her reaction to his working for the military.
“But you can’t do this, Blair! I forbid it! I will not allow my son to be a pawn of the very organisations that I’ve spent my life opposing!” Naomi’s anger was back in full force. “If he hadn’t wrecked your career, you’d never even consider doing this!”
“Jim didn’t wreck my career, Naomi. If anything, he saved it! He’s the one who made the University give me the opportunity to defend my dissertation. Without Jim’s support, I wouldn’t have been here today, receiving my degree!”
“But you had to label yourself a fraud to protect him!” Naomi spat, her anger unabated.
“Jim didn’t release my original dissertation to a publisher, Naomi,” Blair’s voice was hard and cold. “And he never asked me to recant it. I did it because it was the right thing to do.”
“So you’re saying that this is all my fault?” Naomi’s eyes widened in shock. “I only wanted to help you! I still do. Come with me, Blair. Don’t let him drag you down any further!”
“You’re not listening, Naomi. I made the choice to accept the position the military offered me. Jim neither forced nor coerced me into it. Why can’t you respect my decision?”
“But it’s wrong for you, Sweetie. You’re better than that!” Naomi persisted. “I just know that if you come with me, away from him, that you’ll see that I’m right.”
“You’re still not listening, Naomi,” Blair sighed. “I’m not sure that you ever did listen to me. I will be working for the military in Colorado Springs. I will not come with you, and I don’t need to be ‘saved’, by you, or by anyone else.”
“You would never have spoken to me like this before you met him.” Naomi turned towards Jim, who was now flanked supportively by Simon and O’Neill. “I hope you’re happy, Jim. You’ve won, at least for now. But I’ll always be there for him, to pick up the pieces when he realises how you’ve used and abused him.”
“Naomi – ” Blair began, but she cut him off angrily.
“Contact me when you’ve come to your senses!” she snapped before turning to leave.
“I’m sorry, Chief,” Jim had moved up to stand beside Blair, watching with him as Naomi strode angrily away across the campus.
“Me, too, Big Guy,” Blair sighed. “Me, too.”
Lunch began as a subdued affair, with Blair obviously still upset about Naomi. Gradually, though, as the others all tried to distract him from his gloomy thoughts, he began to cheer up. The several glasses of excellent red wine that he had with his meal helped as well.
By the time they’d finished their meals the atmosphere was considerably lighter, and it was unanimously agreed that they would all return to the loft to continue their celebration until the four from Colorado had to fly out later that afternoon
The day after the graduation ceremony, both Jim and Blair were summoned to the station for interviews with IA. They’d managed to successfully avoid them until now, but it was time to get it over with.
Blair’s interview was fairly short and to the point. Having not been at the station much while finishing his dissertation, he hadn’t been aware of the harassment that Jim had been subjected to, and could only state what he’d seen the day Jim had been ambushed with the mace. By tacit agreement, neither Jim nor Blair mentioned the incident with the dog whistle that preceded the mace attack. While people might suspect that Jim did indeed have heightened senses, there was no way that either man would openly admit it.
Jim’s interview was longer. He admitted to harassment prior to going on the four month course, but stated that he’d regarded it as unimportant, even amusing on occasion, and pretty much to be expected, given the ridiculous claims in the media prior to Blair’s press conference. As far as the day of the attack went, he claimed to have no memory of anything after his and Blair’s arrival at the station. Since his medical records clearly documented a grade two concussion among the injuries he’d suffered that day, the IA investigators had little choice but to accept his statement.
Finally released from the interview, Jim had immediately left the station to meet Blair for lunch as they’d arranged beforehand. Something told him that IA wasn’t just going to let the matter drop. He also had more than a passing suspicion that the IA lead investigator had a hidden agenda.
Packing and other preparations for the move were proceeding pretty much on schedule. Blair was kept busy making the rounds of friends from the University who’d stuck by him during the dissertation disaster – Jack Kelso among them – saying his goodbyes and thanking them for his support. Some of them didn’t really understand his decision to accept a position with the military, but even they had to admit that Blair’s enthusiasm when he gave them what few details he could about the work he’d be doing made it clear that he certainly wasn’t being coerced into anything.
Jim, meanwhile, had also been saying his goodbyes to the few people he still regarded as friends, and he’d had a long conversation on the phone with Carolyn that had left both of them feeling happier with the state of their friendship. He’d also arranged to have lunch with his brother the week before he and Blair would be leaving for Colorado Springs.
It was the third time that Jim had been hauled in to ‘assist’ IA with their investigations into the circumstances leading up to his hospitalisation, and ultimately, to his resignation from the Cascade Police Department. This time, two IA officers had actually come to the loft to ‘escort’ Jim to the station, not allowing Blair to accompany them. He’d only been able to look on in frustration as Jim had silently accompanied the officers to their car for the ride downtown. Muttering angrily to himself, he’d stomped back up the stairs to the loft and picked up the phone.
The lead IA investigator into the incident was Captain Harry Thomas, who Jim had never had much respect for. The Captain kept Jim isolated in an interview room for nearly eight hours, asking the same questions over and over again, obviously determined to keep going until Jim gave him the answers he wanted. Inwardly seething, and with the start of a killer headache pounding away behind his eyes, Jim remained outwardly calm, which only seemed to provoke the Captain even more.
“So, you’re still claiming that you have no memory of the events of the day in questions?” Thomas asked, his disbelief obvious from the tone of his voice.
Jim gazed unflinchingly into Thomas’ hard glare.
“That’s right. How many more times are you going to drag me in here to ask me the same questions? I have other things to do with my time, you know.”
“As many times as it takes for you to remember,” Thomas stated with a smirk.
“I just want to get on with my life,” he said, his voice soft. “I’ve told you everything that I can, and you have no right to continue to harass me, nor to keep me here for so long without a break or access to an advocate. What is there to be gained from rehashing what’s in the past, anyway? I have a new life now, one I’d like to get on with instead of continually being dragged back here to be asked the same questions again and again.”
“Dammit, Ellison, they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it, and you know it!” Thomas exploded, frustrated with Jim’s lack of cooperation.
“It was a mistake. Just a terrible, stupid mistake. Nothing good will come of pursuing it any further,” Jim said firmly, standing, towering over the shorter Thomas. “I think we’re finished here, Captain. I’m sorry I couldn’t be of more help,” he said with blatant insincerity.
“Listen, Ellison, I can easily hold you for impeding an investigation, and you know it – ” Thomas’ angry growl was interrupted by the door to the interrogation room being flung open with enough force that it swung back against the wall with a sharp bang.
“Colonel Ellison has answered all your questions to the best of his ability, Captain Thomas,” O’Neill’s drawl did nothing to conceal his displeasure with Thomas. “Now, if you’ll excuse us, the Colonel and I have pressing business elsewhere.”
“I decide when I’m finished here! And I’m not done with him yet,” Thomas growled.
“I’m sorry,” O’Neill’s smile was totally without warmth, “obviously I didn’t make myself clear enough for you to understand. You are done with Colonel Ellison, and any further attempts on your behalf to question the Colonel will be regarded as harassment. Have I made myself clear? Or do I need to have another talk with your Commissioner?” O’Neill, already impressive in full dress uniform, drew himself up to his full height and glared down at the short, podgy IA Captain.
“Crystal,” Thomas snarled as he grabbed up his files and stomped out of the interview room.
Jim couldn’t quite suppress a smirk as he looked over at his friend and new commanding officer. “Blair called?”
“Blair called,” O’Neill nodded with a matching smirk.
“So, JJ,” O’Neill said as he started the rental car and pulled away from the curb, “you want to explain to me why you’re covering for the assholes who assaulted you? I mean, I’ve heard about the ‘brotherhood of cops’ and all that, but you don’t owe those bastards anything, especially after what they did to you.”
Jim sighed, closing his eyes wearily as he leant back in his seat. “If I’d thought Thomas’ investigation would accomplish anything, or if it was on the up-and-up, I would’ve cooperated. The truth is, he’s trying to bring Simon Banks down, and he’s trying to use what happened to me to do it.”
“But Banks had nothing to do with what happened,” O’Neill’s eyebrows rose in surprise.
“I know, but Thomas is trying to twist it to make it look as though, at the very least, Simon turned a blind eye to what was going on, even though it’s not true. Basically, he wants Simon’s job, and sees this as a golden opportunity to get rid of him,” Jim shook his head and opened his eyes to meet O’Neill’s steady gaze. “Hell, as far as I’m concerned, Brown and the others should be brought to account for what they did, but there’s no way I’ll let that happen at Simon’s expense. Joel and I have already made our peace with each other; and he really wasn’t an active participant in what the others did.”
“Okay, I can understand that. It just pisses me off that they’re going to get away with it, y’know?”
“I know. I’m not too happy about it myself, but there’s nothing else I can I do, so I’ll just have to let it go and move on,” Jim’s frustration with the situation was obvious.
“It feels like I’m losing you all over again,” Stephen Ellison sighed and pushed his plate away. “I understand that it would be difficult for you to stay and work here in Cascade, Jim, but right now, Colorado seems like a long way away, you know?”
“You could come and visit, Stephen. And I’ll drop in on you from time to time, I promise,” Jim smiled, touched by his brother’s reaction to the news that he was leaving Cascade.
“But… the Army, Jimmy? I thought I’d lost you last time, and it hurt, even though we hadn’t seen each for years,” Stephen said quietly, absently picking up a fork and pushing the remains of his meal around on the plate.
“I won’t lie to you, Stevie,” Jim told him calmly, “it’s potentially dangerous work, but it’s also something that I believe is important, something I feel I have to do.”
“So, I can visit you?” Stephen made a visible effort to cheer up.
“You’ll always be welcome in my home, Stevie,” Jim’s smile turned suddenly mischievous. “And they even have telephones in Colorado Springs now, too, y’know,” he teased his brother gently.
Stephen laughed easily. “Really? Are you sure you can handle that kind of high tech equipment, Jimmy?”
“I can try,” Jim laughed. “And I’m sure Blair will be more than happy to help me.”
“And how is Doctor Sandburg?” Stephen asked with a grin. He genuinely liked the hyperactive academic who was Jim’s best friend and…what was it that Jim had called him? Oh, yeah, his Guide.
“He’s running around like the Energizer Bunny as usual, doing a hundred things at once trying to get ready for the move. Oh, and he loved the graduation gift – I think he said he sent you a thank you note.”
“Yeah, I got it. I’m glad he liked it. I was sorry to have been out of town for the ceremony,” Stephen nodded, then reluctantly checked his watch. “Dammit! I’m sorry, Jim, but I’ve got a Board meeting in twenty minutes that I can not be late for. We’ll get together before you leave, won’t we?” he asked anxiously.
“I understand, Stevie, it’s okay,” Jim patted his brother’s hand reassuringly. “I was hoping we could all have dinner together next week, on Thursday night. You’ll be back from Tokyo by then won’t you?”
“I’ll be back even if I have to walk out on the contract negotiations!” Stephen declared with a grin as he pulled some money from his wallet, firmly waving away Jim’s attempts to pay his share for the meal.
Outside the restaurant, Stephen turned to his older brother and impulsively pulled him into a tight hug. “I love you, Bro. Just be careful, okay?”
“I love you, too, Stevie,” Jim returned the hug warmly. “And I’ll do everything I can to stay safe, I promise.”
Finally, everything was done. The furniture and boxes that they’d decided they’d need in Colorado Springs were on their way, the moving van having already left. The removalists would deliver everything to a short term storage facility in the Springs that Blair had found on the Internet.
After a final check around the nearly empty loft, Blair and Jim stood for a moment in the doorway, taking one last look at what had been their home.
“You know, this was the first place I ever really called home, man,” Blair said sadly, his gaze lingering on the French doors at the entrance to what had been his bedroom.
“It was a long week, wasn’t it, Chief?” Jim slung an arm around Blair’s shoulders, his smile somewhat melancholy as he recalled how Blair had come to stay with him for a week after his warehouse home blew up, more than three years before.
“It was, wasn’t it?” Blair grinned up at him.
Jim sighed as he allowed his arm to drop from Blair’s shoulders and turned to leave. “This is a lot harder than I’d thought it would be, Chief.”
“Yeah, Big Guy, it sure is,” Blair patted Jim’s shoulder as he followed him through the door.
Jim dropped Blair off at Simon’s then headed to his father’s house. They’d decided to sell their vehicles since neither were likely to stand up to the much colder Colorado winters. Blair’s car had gone to its new owner the day before, and Jim would be dropping the truck off at the home of the person who was buying it after he’d seen his father.
Since they’d be staying on base until they found a place in the Springs to live, and would have access to the base car pool, transportation wouldn’t really be a problem until they found new vehicles.
Driving slowly up the sweeping driveway, Jim drew in a deep, calming breath before bringing the truck to a stop near the front door. He’d barely emerged from the truck before Sally, William Ellison’s housekeeper, came hurrying through the front door toward him.
“Jimmy! It’s good to see you!” she exclaimed, drawing him into a warm hug.
“I’ve missed you, too, Sally,” Jim happily returned the hug, almost lifting the diminutive woman off her feet.
“Your father’s waiting for you in his study,” Sally informed him as she led him inside the house, her eyes shadowed momentarily with concern.
“Thanks. I’ll come and see you before I leave, okay?”
“I’ll be in the kitchen,” Sally nodded as they parted in the foyer.
Steeling himself, Jim headed resolutely up the stairs, pausing to tap lightly on the door to his father’s study.
Jim took another deep breath and opened the door. “Hi, Dad.”
“Jimmy. You said that you wanted to see me about something important? I trust it’s nothing to do with that Sentinel business,” William Ellison was about as welcoming as Jim had expected.
“Not really, no. I just wanted you to hear the news from me. I’m leaving Cascade – flying out tomorrow. Actually, Blair and I are both leaving,” Jim told his father calmly. “I wanted to say goodbye before I left.”
“I see,” William merely looked at him for a long moment. “Where are you going?”
“Colorado Springs. Back to the Army. I’ll be stationed at Cheyenne Mountain.”
“Is that wise, Jimmy? And what will Sandburg be doing while you’re playing soldier again?”
Jim was determined not to lose his temper, but it was getting harder and harder the longer he spent with his father. “Wise or not, it’s what I’ve decided to do. Blair’s going to be a civilian consultant on the project I’ve been seconded to.”
William leant back in his chair, his expression more than a little disdainful. “You’re a bit old to be a Captain, aren’t you Jimmy.”
“Probably,” Jim sighed, realising yet again that he and his father would probably never be close. “Anyway, I just thought it was the right thing to do to tell you in person. If you need to contact me, the details are all here,” he handed a business card to his father – O’Neill had given Blair and him each a small supply when he’d come back to Cascade to help with the IA mess. William didn’t even look at it before placing it on the desk in front of him. “Take care, Dad.”
He’d almost reached the door when his father’s voice stopped him in his tracks.
“Be careful, Son.”
Jim turned, favouring his father with a half smile. “I’ll do my best, Dad.”
William Ellison sat staring at the door through which his eldest son had left for a long time. Why couldn’t he ever talk to his son? He’d had to hear second hand through Stephen that Jimmy had been in hospital recently after some kind of incident at the station. And now Jimmy was leaving. Again. He looked down at the card Jimmy had given him, eyes widening as he took in what was printed there.
Colonel James J. Ellison, United States Army
Why couldn’t he ever tell his son how proud he was of him? How much he loved him? How terrified he was that the Powers That Be would learn about what Jimmy could do and, at the very least, try to exploit him? And now he was going back to the military where he would probably be in even more danger of discovery.
“For God’s sake be careful, Jimmy,” he whispered as he carefully placed the card in the top drawer of his desk, where he knew it would be safe.
Jim had dropped by the kitchen briefly on his way out, giving another card to Sally, and asking her to look after herself and his father.
“For God’s sake be careful, Jimmy.”
His father’s words reached him as he got back into the truck.. Glancing up at the window to his father’s study, he started the truck.
“I will, Dad,” he whispered back as he released the handbrake and drove slowly away.
The man who had bought the truck was more than happy to give Jim a lift to Simon’s place.
Jim was just walking up the path when he heard a car pull up behind him. Turning, he lifted a hand in greeting to Joel, and waited for the older man to join him before continuing on to the house.
Simon, Joel, Blair, and Jim spent a pleasant Friday evening reminiscing and swapping stories. By tacit agreement, no mention was made of the rest of the Major Crimes team or the all but defunct IA investigation.
By the time Joel took his leave – via cab in the early hours of the morning – they were all feeling more than a little mellow. Joel had carefully tucked the cards with contact details that Jim and Blair gave him into his jacket pocket and engulfed the two men in a warm hug before he left, his eyes suspiciously moist. Simon, Jim, and Blair had seen him off in the cab before returning inside, where they did some cursory tidying up before stumbling off to their respective beds.
Simon drove them to the airport the next morning, completely disregarding their stated intention to call a cab.
Once at the airport, they kept their farewells brief, all three finding it difficult to maintain their composure now that it was really time to say goodbye.
Simon gave both of them a firm hug and gruffly threatened them with dire consequences if they failed to keep in regular contact before leaving them in the departure area, striding away without looking back, barely holding on to his self control, and not wanting to make their leaving any more painful than it already was – for all of them.
Blair and Jim stared out of the small window as the plane banked after takeoff, unable to resist one last look at the city.
Almost in unison, they sighed and resolutely turned their eyes away.
Cascade was their past. It was time to look to their future.