New Arrivals
Author-Maj
Titles

Greater Love 3 - Meeting the Outlaws
by Maj

Summary: Just a quiet wedding? Rated PG-13 for language.

Disclaimer: The Sentinel and its characters belong to Pet Fly, UPN and Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Notes: The title was inspired by a friend of mine who's less than enamoured of her in-laws. Privately (between ourselves and when her husband isn't around) she refers to them as the outlaws.

"I just want a quiet wedding." Megan announced across the breakfast table.

"Hmmmm?" Blair glanced up from the paper.

"No big church and lots of fuss. It's just not me. I'd like a civil ceremony and just invite our closest friends and your mother. Maybe go for a nice meal afterwards." She looked determined.

Blair looked across at his fiancee and narrowed his eyes. She was refusing to meet his eyes, fiddling with things on the table so as to appear occupied.

"Ok." He agreed. "What about your parents. Will they be coming?"

Megan went completely still. Busted.

"I thought I'd let them know afterwards. Send them some pictures. It's a long way to come for something that's only gonna take an hour. Besides they probably wouldn't come. Me and my dad don't always get along so well. He never wanted me to become a cop. Said it wasn't suitable work for a girl."

"What about your mom? Wouldn't she want to be there for here for her only daughter's wedding? Surely they'll be expecting an invitation, especially with the baby on the way." Blair felt there was more to this than met the eye.

"Oh she'll do what dad tells her to. She always has in the past." Megan's tone was slightly bitter.

Blair's suspicions grew.

"Do they know about the baby?" He asked gently

Megan's eyes filled with tears and she looked down, shaking her head.

"I haven't even told them about us. They're very old fashioned, they wouldn't approve of us living together never mind getting pregnant. Last time I spoke to them we had a huge row because I decided to stay here. Dad was furious. He wants me to go home and settle down with one of the local boys. Said I should have got this all out of my system by now."

It was clear from the expression on Megan's face what she thought of that idea. Blair was inclined to agree.

"Maybe this is a chance to build some bridges with your family. Give them a chance. At least your mom should be given the option. You've always spoken of her with warmth. Otherwise it feels like we're sneaking around behind their backs 'cause we're ashamed."

Megan nodded.

"Ok, I'll phone tonight when I get home from work. Now if we don't get moving we're gonna be late."

Five minutes later they were out the door and on the way to their respective jobs.

"See you at the station this afternoon?" Megan asked as her got into her car.

"Yeah, Jim and Simon asked me to take a look at some evidence in a counterfeit case." Blair bent and gave her a quick kiss on the nose.

He wandered over to his old Volvo, got in and set off for the university.

************************

The day went well for Blair. Lectures in the morning then off to the precinct in the afternoon.

As he entered the bullpen he waved to Jim. In the background he could hear Megan's upraised voice.

"I am not your sweetheart and I am not your love. I don't care how busy you are, if you don't cut the attitude and get up here and fix this damn computer properly this time, I'll make your wife a happy woman and staple your balls to the desk."

Jim winced at the mental image conjured by that conversation. In all fairness to Megan, the techie who had been up earlier had been rude and condescending. Megan was now mainly confined to desk duty and it was beginning to wear on her nerves. Never one to tolerate idiots kindly, she was more prone to losing her temper.

Blair smiled at the love of his life.

"You tell him girlfriend."

She poked her tongue out at him and smiled. As usual Blair had a calming effect on her and she sat back in the chair.

"I'm starving. Are we going to lunch?"

Blair nodded his head.

"Yeah, I've just got to take a look at these artefacts from the Henderson case and I'm free. You gonna join us Jim?"

"Sure Chief, just let me finish up here. Simon's in his office with the evidence. We just need to know whether they're genuine or not."

Blair knocked on the office door. Simon signalled for him to enter. He was just finishing a phone call and he indicated for Blair to sit down.

As soon as he had finished his call he opened his desk drawer and produced a box with several clay figures in.

"What can you tell me about these? Henderson claims they're genuine South American fertility figures. Tried to charge some collector a small fortune for them. The collector is claiming they're fakes. I need an expert opinion."

Blair removed the figures and studied each one carefully. After a moment he replaced them and handed the box back.

"They're fakes. Good fakes, but if you know what to look for you can see they're not genuine. They could fool the untrained eye. This collector obviously knew his stuff. If you have Serena test the clay, you'll probably find it's contaminated with chemicals that weren't around when these are supposed to have been made."

Simon looked pleased. "Are you prepared to give evidence if called?"

Blair nodded his agreement.

Simon smiled. "Good. Now how about a cup of coffee? How are the wedding plans coming along? Megan's been a bit stressed this morning. That's the second person she's threatened with physical damage."

Blair sighed "Well be both seem to agree on a quiet wedding. Other than that we haven't even set the date yet. We'll probably discuss it over lunch. Speaking of which, if I don't go now she'll probably kill and eat whichever unfortunate soul who annoys her next. Care to join us?"

Simon shook his head. "Sorry, meeting in half an hour. Next time maybe. Now go, I don't like the way she's looking at that computer guy. I don't want bloodshed in the bullpen."

Blair left the office quickly and grabbing Megan's hand as she reached for the stapler called to Jim.

"Come on Jim, if she doesn't eat soon it's not gonna be pretty."

Jim stood and they prepared to leave. As he reached for his jacket he turned to the technician, who was looking less than impressed with Megan.

"I feel it's only fair to warn you that she's quite capable of carrying out her threat. Ask him." He pointed at Blair.

Blair caught on and started limping in an exaggerated fashion.

"Yeah and she's marrying me."

The technician looked over at Megan. She gave him an evil smile and clicked the stapler in his direction. He flinched and backed away a little.

"Ok, ok. I'll fix your computer. Chill."

"Good idea." Blair smiled and limped after Megan and Jim.

Once they were out of earshot they all started laughing and headed for the diner.

********************************

When they returned later Megan's temper was much improved. Her computer was working perfectly and all was right with the world. Jim on the other hand had a distinctly sour look on his face. He kept giving Megan strange looks. Blair was obviously having trouble containing his mirth.

"I warned you not to try it man. I told you it would be too intense, but nooo you had to taste it."

Jim looked at his friend in disbelief. "How does she eat that stuff Chief? It's disgusting."

Blair smiled. "It's an acquired taste. Vegemite is very popular in Australia."

"Yeah, but spread on a doughnut? That's just criminal." Jim's face screwed up in an almost comical way.

"Well you've heard of pregnancy cravings. Vegemite is just Megan's version of pickles and ice cream. You're lucky she let you try it. She caught me putting some on my toast the other morning..." He gave a mock shudder. "I'm lucky to be alive."

Jim smiled at his friend's antics. Peering over his shoulder, to make sure Megan wasn't listening, he leaned forward and whispered.

"Does she always carry a jar of it around in her bag. I thought that waitress was gonna have a fit when she whipped it out and started spreading it on everything."

Blair grinned at his friend. "Yeah she spreads it on everything, if you get my drift." He waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Jim recoiled in horror. "Whoa Chief, that is definitely too much information. Another word and I'm turning my hearing dial down to zero."

Turning back to his desk, he found a message from Simon.

"Yo, Blair. Simon's arranged for us to interview Jose Fernando, the buyer in the Henderson case, this afternoon. Let's ride."

********************************

After the interview they got back into Jim's truck and set off. It was quite late in the afternoon and they had quite a distance to travel, as Fernando lived on the outskirts of the city. As it was late they decided to go straight home and hand in their report in the morning. They soon lapsed into a comfortable silence as they drove.

They pulled up outside Prospect. Jim cut the engine and turned to speak to Blair. While he had been concentrating on the road he had missed his partner falling asleep next to him. He took this rare opportunity to study his friend. Since his return they had spent quite a lot of time together, but Jim still missed having Blair around all the time.

Blair was slumped against the door with the side of his face pressed against the window. There was a little patch of drool on the window next to his mouth. Jim smiled. He had noticed his friend looking a little frazzled at the edges recently and put it down to the stress of planning the wedding. From the conversation at lunch, he knew this was not the case. He hated to wake him up when he was so obviously tired.

"Hey Chief. We're home." He gave him a little nudge.

Blair yelped and sat bolt upright. He looked around, bewildered for a second, and got his bearings.

"Oh man! Don't do that. You made jump." Blair's heart rate began to settle.

Jim looked puzzled. "What's up Blair? All those jobs catching up with you? You need to get more sleep. Is something keeping you awake?"

Blair appeared to blush slightly and looked away. "Nah, I'm fine."

Jim pressed his point. Blair's heart rate had shot up again, a sure sign he wasn't being completely truthful.

"Something's making you tired. You fell asleep in that meeting the other day. Luckily no one else noticed. You want to talk about it?"

Blair's blush deepened. "Well...it's Megan."

Jim became concerned. "Is something wrong with Megan or the baby?"

Blair started to squirm. "No, just the opposite. I can't tell you, you'll laugh."

Jim was determined to get an answer. "No I won't. I promise."

Blair took a deep breath and looked Jim in the eye.

"Ok, but remember you promised. It's just...well..." Blair squirmed some more. "Megan's reached that...frisky stage of her pregnancy and quite frankly it exhausting me!"

Jim tried. He really tried. But it was beyond his control. He could feel it building in the pit of his stomach and pushing upwards. It started with a snort, which quickly turned into a giggle and then a loud whoop of laughter. He clutched his sides and laughed so hard it hurt. Tears streamed down his face and he had trouble breathing.

"I knew it! I knew you'd laugh. It's not that funny, man! That's it I'm going in. You promised." Blair bristled and opened the truck door.

Jim caught his breath for a moment and laid a hand on Blair's arm to stop him.

"I'm sorry Blair. I couldn't help it. I thought something serious was wrong. It must be the relief. When you said..." Jim was unable to continue as he dissolved into laughter once again.

Blair pulled what was left of his dignity together and stomped off into the building with the howls of laughter still audible from the parked truck.

Jim realised that he might have offended Blair and, pulling himself together, followed him into the building. As Blair had already taken the lift, Jim headed up he stairs. He reached the second floor just in time to see Blair at his front door. As he was about to call out to him the door opened and a hand reached out. It grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled him into the house. Somewhat concerned, Jim turned his hearing up a notch. From inside the apartment Megan's voice echoed breathlessly.

"Oooh Sandy! I've really missed you this afternoon. Did you miss me?"

An equally breathless Blair replied. "Oh yeah!"

Blushing to the roots of his hair, Jim turned his hearing way down. There was no point in him being kept awake all night too.

********************************

The next day Jim found Blair at his desk in the bullpen. He looked tired but had the goofiest grin on his face.

"Hey Chief, you talking to me today?" Jim nudged his friend to bring him out of his daydream.

"I ought not to. You promised not to laugh." Blair shot a brief glare across the desk.

"I'm sorry Blair, but put yourself in my place. You would have laughed too." Jim grinned

Unable to stay mad for long, Blair returned the grin.

"Laughed at what?" Henri had just caught the tail end of the conversation as he dropped some files on Blair's desk.

Blair froze and looked at Jim with pleading in his eyes.

Jim smiled evilly and turned to Henri. "Oh nothing really..."

Blair's anxiety level shot up another notch waiting for his partner to finish his sentence.

"Just some old photos Naomi left behind after her last visit."

Blair heaved a sigh of relief as Henri accepted the answer and wandered off.

"Thanks man. If Henri ever got hold of what I told you I'd never hear the end of it."

Jim smiled. "That's ok. I really am sorry. I tried to catch you last night to apologize but the welcoming committee got there first."

Blair blushed and the goofy grin reappeared on his face.

"Yeah." He said dreamily. "Hey! How'd you know about that? You didn't listen did you?"

Jim face screwed up in disgust. "No! I have enough nightmares thank you. I saw the hand of doom grab you off the doorstep. Believe me I kept my hearing turned way down all evening."

"Sorry." Blair yawned a huge jaw-cracking yawn.

Jim shook his head. "You know you could always tell her you're too tired."

Blair looked at him as if he were crazy. "Man! I am NEVER too tired. It's just that it catches up with me the next day."

Jim shook his head in disbelief. "How did the call to her parents go? Are they coming to the wedding?"

Blair's face fell somewhat. "It's hard to tell. I think her mom was pleased, but her dad wouldn't come to the phone. Her mom said that they would be coming. So dust off your suit, I'll be needing a best man one week from today. Megan's down in forensics. She's asking Serena to be our second witness."

Jim's cheeks reddened a little. Blair knew that he and Serena had been seeing each other for a while, but it wasn't yet common knowledge. Maybe it was time for that to change.

A few moments later Blair's cell phone rang. He recognized the number as that of the clerk who had taken the booking for the wedding. Worried that something had come up to delay the wedding he answered quickly.

"Sandburg." He listened for a few moments and a huge grin broke out on his face. "Tell Judge McTeer I would be honored if she would perform the ceremony. Thank you."

Jim raised a questioning eyebrow.

Blair was bouncing in his seat. "Did you hear that? Judge McTeer has offered to do the wedding. Apparently someone told her I was getting married and she wants to do the honors. I wonder who could have told her. I can't wait to tell Megan."

"Yeah, I wonder." Jim smiled and looked over to Simon's office. He knew that Simon and Judge McTeer were old friends. Jim and Blair had first made her acquaintance during a trial in which she had been very impressed with the part Blair had played in bringing the felons to justice. Since that time she had kept a quiet eye on the pairing of Ellison and Sandburg.

"So when are her parents arriving? Have they got somewhere to stay?" Jim enquired

"They're arriving two days before the wedding. We've booked them into a hotel near the courthouse, that way they won't have to travel far on the day of the wedding." Blair replied. "It's got a good restaurant attached and we thought we'd take everyone there for dinner afterwards. We've booked the whole dining room for the evening."

"Isn't that going t be expensive Chief? You've got a family to think of now." Jim was concerned.

"Not really. There won't be that many guests. About thirty-five altogether, including Naomi and Megan's parents. I suppose we could always switch the venue to Wonder Burger. That's bound to create an impression with my in-laws." Blair grinned at the idea.

"Don't even think of encouraging him Jim. Remember I have a stapler and I know how to use it." Megan swung a gentle slap at the back of Jim's head.

"How'd it go?" Blair asked

"Fine. She said yes. So we're all set except for my dress. Rhonda and I are going shopping this afternoon. Simon's given us the afternoon off." She sidled up to Blair and whispered. "I thought I'd shop for something for the wedding night too."

Blair's eyes grew even larger and he gave a huge swallow. Catching his breath he turned to his beloved. "Guess who just phoned..."

Jim tuned out the rest of the conversation and turned to his desk. Picking up a file he opened it and began to work. Less than five minutes later his phone rang.

"Ellison." Jim answered

"Jim, it's Simon. Come down to Joel's office, we need to discuss something with you. Come alone." Simon hung up before he could ask any questions.

Jim was puzzled, but got up and left the bullpen. When he reached Joel's office he knocked on the door. It opened just long enough for him to be dragged inside and was slammed shut.

Crammed into the tiny office were Rafe, Brown, Taggart and Simon. With Jim's arrival it became a bit of a squeeze.

"Should I have used the secret knock or brought my decoder ring?" Jim asked.

"We didn't want Hairboy to find out what we're doing." Brown whispered.

"You don't have to whisper Henri. I'm the sentinel, not Blair. He won't hear you if you speak normally. Anyway, what are you doing?"

"We're planning Blair's bachelor party of course." Henri declared. "Can't let the boy get married without a bachelor party and, as his best man, you are responsible."

Jim groaned. He hadn't even thought about it. The idea of his trouble magnet friend out on the town with this group terrified him. The opportunities for disaster were endless.

"I don't know guys, he's not much of a drinker. I wouldn't know where to take him."

"Don't worry Jimbo, my friend." Henri slapped Jim on the back. "I know just the place, great atmosphere and pretty ladies. And if he's a cheap drunk, all the better."

Jim persisted. "I still don't like the idea. Do you want to be the one to tell Megan that you're taking her future husband to a strip joint?"

The room went quiet as each one imagined the outcome of that scenario.

"We'll just have to make sure that she doesn't find out." Henri was nothing if not determined.

The others all still looked doubtful but agreed.

"The wedding is on Friday and his in-laws arrive on Wednesday. We'd better do this before they arrive. Don't want to create a bad impression. This weekend is probably the best time. Give him a couple of days to recover."

Jim knew it was a recipe for disaster but there was no stopping them. The only hope was for him to remain sober and at the first sign of trouble to pick up his guide and run for it.

********************************

The big night arrived. Having assured Megan that he would take care of her beloved, Jim and Blair set out to meet the rest of the party at a local bar. Jim was pleasantly surprised. While the bar was crowded and noisy it wasn't a strip joint.

"Hairboy!" Henri swooped down on them as they arrived. "Come on you've got some catching up to do."

It looked as if the others had been there a while and there were four drinks lined up waiting for them. Jim declined the alcohol as he had appointed himself as designated driver for the night. Getting himself some water to drink he stood back and kept a close eye on his young friend.

Blair, knowing his low tolerance for alcohol, tried to take it slowly at first, but he soon started to feel the effects. Before he knew what had hit him he was feeling quite tipsy. When Henri suggested they move on Blair agreed, happily unaware of where they were going.

The club was as bad as Jim had expected. The word dive was too good for it. The room was crowded and they had trouble finding a table. There were three separate stage areas where women were dancing in various stages of undress.

Blair's eyes grew larger and larger as he looked around the room.

"Jim! They've got no clothes on!" he hissed loudly, tilting slightly to one side.

Jim smiled at his friend's surprise. "Yeah I can see that."

Blair seemed fascinated by what was going on and kept twisting round to look at the other stages. Unfortunately due to his drunken state this caused him to keep tipping off his chair. Jim caught him for the third time and ordered him to sit still.

Henri wandered over with another round of drinks.

"There you go Hairboy, down in one." He placed a large drink in front of Blair.

Jim reached over and placed a hand on Blair's arm. "No Chief, take it slowly. You've had a lot already."

Blair wasn't so far gone that he couldn't see the sense behind Jim's suggestion and he started sipping the drink.

Jim nodded his approval and indicated that he was going to the men's room. The only problem with drinking water all evening was that it had to go somewhere and Jim felt like he was going to explode.

"Simon, keep an eye on Blair for a few minutes. Please don't let Henri get him anymore drinks while I'm gone." Jim hoped Simon was sober enough to understand.

Simon made a sort of nodding gesture and Jim hurried away. He figured he'd only be gone a few minutes and even Blair couldn't get into trouble in that amount of time.

No sooner was Jim out of sight than Henri announced he was going to the bar. Simon and Joel were watching something on the other side of the room and wandered away. Rafe went to help Henri.

Left alone at the table Blair stared at his drink. He really didn't want any more. He knew he was drunk and he was starting to feel sick. Tilting slightly to one side he wondered where Jim had got to.

"Excuse me runt." A hand tapped on his shoulder. Turning slightly he found himself staring up at what appeared to be a human mountain.

"You're sitting at our table" The Mountain spoke. Behind him two similarly sized men snickered.

Blair looked around the table at the drinks scattered across the surface. Yup it was definitely the table he remembered.

"No, you must be mistaken. This is the table we we're sitting at." He replied picking up his drink.

"We always sit at this table. It's our regular table, so beat it runt before I beat it for you." The Mountain loomed over the smaller man.

Blair smiled up drunkenly. "You have a regular table? Here? Man! That's really sad you know."

The Mountain was stunned. Not only was this hippie runt sitting at his table and refusing to move, he was also giving him attitude. This was not how he was used to people reacting. Usually they scuttled off and did as they were told. If he was going to save face this punk would have to suffer.

Blissfully unaware of his imminent danger, Blair was looking round for Jim. As The Mountain reached down to grab the front of his shirt, Blair tilted slightly too far and slid out of his chair leaving his opponent clutching empty air.

Jim was anxious. The trip to the men's room had taken longer than he thought. He arrived back just in time to overhear the conversation at the table. He saw The Mountain make a grab for Blair and was as shocked as anyone when Blair disappeared under the table. Stepping up to the table he stood in front of the big man and stared him straight in the eye.

"This is our table. I suggest you move along and find another. "He suggested in a deceptively mild tone.

"Says who?" The Mountain was feeling brave. He and his two buddies would be able to take care of this guy.

"We do." Came a voice from his feet.

Jim groaned. He had hoped that the man had forgotten Blair. Now he had been reminded.

"I'll deal with you when I'm finished with him." The Mountain sneered down at Blair.

From his place on the floor Blair looked up. The man looked even bigger from down there. No way was this man going to threaten him or his friend.

Jim heard a low growl start in the back of Blair's throat. He flashed back to the mission in Peru and what had happened when Blair had growled like that before. Before Jim could react a foot shot in the air and landed with tremendous force right in the crotch of the man standing in front him.

The man's eyes bulged in an almost comical fashion and with a silent scream he folded up on himself. Jim braced himself, expecting the man's friends to attack. When that didn't happen he looked over to see them being restrained by Simon, Joel, Rafe and Brown, who had noticed what was happening and had come over.

They were all staring in stunned disbelief at Blair who was still on the floor. He grinned drunkenly up at them.

"Ooops! Gotta watch where I put those feet."

They looked at the sturdy boots he was wearing, then at the man who was still curled in a painful heap and they all winced. Brown looked at Jim and shook his head.

"Damn Jim! Remind me never to piss off Hairboy there."

The bouncers arrived and took the troublemakers away. They were well known to the bouncers who took great delight in the fact that the biggest nuisance in the club had been taken down by a man half his size.

Jim lifted Blair up off the floor and back onto his seat, not letting go until he was sure Blair was balanced. He sat on the next chair and Blair slumped against his shoulder.

"Can't leave you for five minutes without you looking for trouble can I Chief?" Jim smiled down at his partner.

"Hey! I didn't even move. Trouble found me." Blair protested. "Can we go home now Jim? I think I'm drunk."

Jim laughed. His friend didn't often get drunk but when he did he was always entertaining.

"Ok. Let's get you home." He moved to stand.

Henri protested. "Hey we can't leave yet the main show starts in a minute." He nudged Blair. "Think of all those pretty ladies."

Blair looked over at the women dancing on the stage and shrugged. Then he smiled a goofy smile.

"They're ok, but they're not as pretty as my Megan." He looked round in a conspiratorial way and beckoned the listeners closer. "She does this thing....mmmummph."

Jim clapped his hand over Blair's mouth before he could say anything else.

"Jim! It was just getting interesting." Henri whined.

"Ok, if you want to be around when Megan finds out he's been blabbing about their sex life...and you encouraged him." Jim waited while they all thought about it.

"You're right." Simon decided. "I really don't want to have to charge her with five counts of murder."

By this time Blair had stopped squirming and had fallen asleep against Jim's shoulder. As Jim removed his hand, Blair let out a deafening snore. This happened just as the music stopped and everyone near the table heard it and some started to point and laugh.

Jim stood and, with help from Simon, got Blair over his shoulder in a fireman's carry.

"Come on sleeping beauty, time to head back to the castle."

********************************

The drive back to Prospect was uneventful. Jim turned his hearing way down to drown out the sound of Blair's snoring. They pulled up outside the building and Jim shook Blair awake.

"Come on Chief. We're home. Do you think you can walk?"

Blair was warm and relatively comfortable. He didn't want to move.

"Nonowimtootired." He mumbled.

Jim shook his head. Looked like he was going to have to carry him the rest of the way. Getting out of the truck he went round to the passenger side. Opening the door, he scooped Blair back over his shoulder and headed for the lift.

The door swung open and Megan stood aside to let Jim enter.

"How bad is it?" She asked with some amusement.

Jim was relieved that she wasn't angry. "He's a little the worse for wear, but no injuries...yet."

As Jim carried him through to the bedroom, Blair started to stir. Lifting his head he spotted Megan.

"Honey, I'm hooomme" He called I a singsong voice and blew her a kiss.

Megan laughed. "So I see. Let's get you to bed party animal."

Jim sat Blair on the edge of the bed, holding on to him so that he didn't fall off. He helped Megan undress him and pulled the blankets up over him. Wishing Megan goodnight Jim headed for the door.

Megan followed to see him out. "Thanks for taking care of him, Jim. I felt better knowing you were looking out for him. You can tell me all about it tomorrow. I know there's a good story in this somewhere."

As Jim turned to answer Blair's voice called from the bedroom. "Meeegaan. I'm heeerree. I'm ready for you." A pair of plaid boxers flew out the bedroom door and landed on the floor.

"Megan, I looove yooou." Blair sang off key.

Megan snorted. "He is sooo out of luck tonight. All I'm fit for is sleep."

"Will you be ok? Do you want me to stay?" Jim offered

Megan smiled. "Nah, he'll fall asleep soon."

As she spoke a loud snore echoed from the bedroom.

Jim smiled and turned to go. "I have so much blackmail material now, I'll never have to do my own paperwork again."

Megan laughed and closed the door.

Jim headed for the loft grinning as he went. He couldn't wait until the morning when he could remind his poor hung-over partner all about his antics that night.

*****************************

Three days later Blair was putting the finishing touches to the last of Jim's paperwork. Jim slouched back in his chair with his feet on his desk watching him. Noticing his partner's scrutiny Blair glared.

"You know there are laws against blackmail. You're supposed to be my blessed protector. Who protects me from being exploited by you?"

Jim grinned evilly. "Watch it Chief or I'll get you to do my tax return as well. Besides I only did it to keep your mind off how nervous you are about meeting Megan's parents."

Blair went quiet. Since the phone call to tell them about the wedding, Megan's parents had not been in touch except to let them know when they would be arriving. Blair got the feeling they didn't approve of their daughter marrying an American.

They were due to arrive in a couple of hours. Megan and Blair had offered to pick them up and Jim had offered to go with them to take the luggage in his truck. Blair had accepted gratefully as he felt they needed the moral support.

"Megan's coming in half an hour. When I've done here, we could all get some lunch and go straight to the airport. We should be there in plenty of time." Blair looked up from his work.

Jim nodded his agreement and took the last report to sign before dropping it on Simon's desk. "We'll be out for the rest of the afternoon Simon. All the paperwork's up to date."

Simon shook his head in amazement. "You've never been this up to date on your paperwork before. I'd love to know what you've got on the kid to get him to do it all. Maybe I could use it to help me get mine finished."

Jim hesitated for a moment. He could see Blair watching him like a hawk from his desk. He opened his mouth as if to speak. Blair pouted and used his most forlorn expression. Jim couldn't do it.

"Nah, I promised I wouldn't tell. Sorry Simon, you're on your own."

Simon grinned at Blair's antics. "Go on get out of here before I give you some more work. I'll see you tomorrow."

By the time Jim had cleared his desk and got his jacket, Megan was coming through the bullpen. They met her half way and escorted her out to lunch.

********************************

The wait at the airport seemed like forever. The flight landed on time and the passengers made good time through customs, but to Blair, who was more anxious than he let on, it felt like eons.

Eventually Megan spotted her mother hurrying through the gate. She stepped forward to greet her and received a fierce hug in return. Her father stood back with a sour expression on his face.

He looked over Megan's shoulder to where Jim and Blair were standing. His eyes flicked over Blair dismissively and stopped on Jim. His expression lightened slightly into one almost of approval.

"Well, Megan, aren't you going to introduce us properly?" He barked out.

Megan rolled her eyes. "Nice to see you too dad."

She turned and beckoned them over. "Mum, Dad, I'd like you both to meet Blair. Blair, these are my parents."

As she spoke she took Blair's hand.

Megan's mother stepped forward and hugged Blair. "Nice to meet you at last. Call me Alice. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better. Megan told me all about you when she phoned."

Blair relaxed a little. "It's nice to meet you too. Please call me Blair."

He turned to Megan's father and held out his hand. "Hello Mr. Connor."

Megan's father's face was suffused with color and it was obvious he was far from pleased. Ignoring Blair's gesture he turned to his daughter.

"And who is this other man?" He asked, indicating Jim.

Blair dropped his hand and looked at Megan. She took his hand and squeezed it. Looking over at Jim he could see the Ellison jaw muscle getting a good work out. This was not good. However angry he was they didn't want a scene in the airport.

As Jim was preparing tell Megan's father exactly what he thought of him, he caught Blair's eye and a quick shake of the head warned him that this was not the time or place. Taking a deep breath he tried to remain civil.

"My name is Jim Ellison and I'm a friend of Megan and Blair. Your daughter and I work together. I'm here for the luggage so, if you'll excuse me."

He took the baggage trolley and started to leave. He stopped briefly and shook Alice's hand. "It was a pleasure meeting you. I hope to see you again before the wedding. I'll drop the bags at the hotel. See you later Chief." With that he was gone.

Watching Jim walk away, Blair could tell by the set of his shoulders that he was only just keeping his temper in check. He knew that Jim did not want to cause a scene and the only way to avoid it was to retreat.

Megan's father harrumphed in disgust. "I see your keeping good company here."

Megan's mother hit him on the top of the arm. "Stop it Derek. At least try to be civil. Now let's get to the hotel, I'm exhausted."

********************************

The journey to the hotel was tense, with Megan and her mother trying to make small talk and her father sitting in silent disapproval. Blair concentrated on driving and tuned out the rest.

Jim was waiting in reception when they arrived. He gave Blair a sheepish smile.

"Sorry for bailing on you back there but I didn't think you wanted me to thump your future father-in-law. I've had the cases sent up to the room. Do you want me to wait?"

Blair nodded his head. "Yeah, I don't think we'll be long. I'll need a lift back to the station if Megan decides to stay and visit with her parents. I don't think she particularly wants to spend time with her dad but she's missed her mom."

By this time they had completed their check in and were preparing to go up to their room. Blair wandered over and took Megan's hand.

"Well, we'd better let you get settled in. If you feel up to it later we could meet up for dinner." He addressed himself mainly to Alice as Megan's father had walked away to wait for the lift.

"That would be lovely Blair. I can't speak for my husband, but I would be delighted. Be sure and bring Jim. It'll be a great chance for us all to get acquainted before the wedding." Alice beamed.

"Great, we'll come and pick you up at 7 o'clock. See you later Mum." Megan hugged her mother and threw her father a dirty look. "Bye Dad."

He didn't answer as the lift arrived at that moment.

"Come along Alice. I want to get to the room." He barked.

Alice ignored him and turned to Blair.

"I apologize for my husband's behavior. I'm afraid he can be an ignorant bastard sometimes." She smiled sweetly at her husband who looked outraged.

Jim snorted and unsuccessfully tried to hide his grin. Blair and Megan were stunned and burst into laughter as the lift doors closed to the sound of her father's voice.

"Alice! How dare you."

Alice's voice reply was muffled but still audible. "Oh shut up you old fool."

********************************

At 7pm sharp Megan and Blair knocked on the door f her parent's. They could hear the sound of a muffled argument. Sharing an uneasy glance, they knocked again. The door flew open making them jump and Megan's mother stood in the doorway, smiling.

"Hello, I'm almost ready. Come in and have a drink while you wait." She drew them into the room.

Megan's father stood by the window looking out, ignoring everyone. He was dressed very casually, obviously not planning on joining them.

Alice prodded him in the back. "Make yourself useful and get them a drink. And be nice. I just have to find my shoes."

She turned and went into the bedroom leaving them alone.

Megan's father turned and looked at them. He made no move comply with his wife's command. He stared hard at Blair and addressed him to Megan.

"I was hoping to speak to you alone. I'm sure your friend won't mind waiting downstairs."

"He's my fiancee not just a friend. Any thing you have to say to me you can say in front of Blair." Megan drew close to Blair.

"Alright if you insist. I'm not here for your wedding; I'm here to stop you making a fool of yourself. It's time you stopped messing around playing cops and robbers and came home. Nobody needs to know about the baby, it can be dealt with before we leave."

"Dad!" Megan gasped. She was pale and shaking with anger and Blair slipped his arm around her waist in support.

"I can't tell you how disappointed I am in you." He continued. "Bad enough to get yourself in this situation, but to do it with some long haired lay about who's probably never had a job in his life and never will. Thinks he's landed himself a meal ticket. He'll be off like a shot once the baby arrives."

Megan was livid. "Shows how much you know. As it happens Blair has two jobs and earns twice as much as I do. He is neither a lay about nor a sponger. He's intelligent and caring, and if you can't accept my choice of husband then I don't want you at my wedding."

"I won't be there and neither will your mother. We're going home tomorrow."

By this time she was as white as a ghost and shaking so much that Blair was becoming concerned. He decided it was time to step in.

"ENOUGH! Mr. Connor, I AM gonna marry your daughter, if she'll have me, and I'll consider myself very lucky. She's one of the smartest, bravest, most compassionate people I know. She damn good at what she does and you should be proud of her. I know I am. If this is truly how you feel then you're not welcome at our wedding and you can forget any contact with your grandchildren since you have such a low opinion of their parents."

He pulled Megan into his side. "Now, I'm going to take my fiancee out for dinner, a little dancing and, judging by the way her hand is on my ass, later I'm gonna get very lucky."

Taking Megan's hand he turned towards the door. Seeing Alice standing in the doorway to the bedroom he stopped.

"Alice, you're still welcome to join us tonight and to come to the wedding."

"I think I'll skip dinner, thanks. I want to say and have a long overdue discussion with my husband about who makes the decisions in my life. I'll be at the wedding. I'll speak to you tomorrow."

Megan held it together until they were in the lift. As soon as the doors closed, the tears, which had been held at bay in front of her father, started to fall. Blair wrapped is arms around her and let her cry on his shoulder.

"Do you want me to phone Jim and tell him we're not going to make it tonight?" He asked.

Megan took a deep breath, pulled herself together and smiled.

"No. I'm not going to let him spoil this for me. We are going out to dinner, we are going to dance, and later you are definitely getting lucky."

********************************

They were wakened early the next day by the phone ringing. Blair reached out and fumbled it from the bedside table to his ear.

"'Lo." He mumbled.

"Blair, it's Alice Connor, could I speak to Megan please?"

Blair was more awake now and he sat up. "Sure, just a moment." He shook Megan's shoulder. "Is everything ok?"

"Everything's fine thanks, I just need to arrange a time to meet Megan."

Megan took the phone and spoke to her mother.

"Hey Mum. How's everything?" She listened for a moment. "Sure, we'd love to meet up. What time were you thinking of?" She glanced at the clock beside the bed.

"Whenever it's good for you Meg. Maybe lunch?" Alice sounded a little subdued.

"Well, we don't have to work today, so how about we pick you up in an hour and go for breakfast. We can spend the day together if you don't have any plans."

She looked at Blair and raised her eyebrows in question to ask if that was ok. He nodded his head, got up and headed for the bathroom.

"That would be lovely!" Alice suddenly sounded much brighter.

"Um...Mum, will Dad be joining us?" Megan asked tentatively.

There was an amused snort from her mother.

"No, your father has decided to go home. I'll tell you all about it at breakfast."

"Ok. We'll see you in an hour. Meet us in reception. Bye."

"Bye, love."

Megan hung up the phone and bounced out of bed and went to join Blair in the shower. She crept into the bathroom and whipped the curtain back. Blair jumped in surprise.

"Move over Sandy, I need some of that hot water too." She squeezed into the small space. "I promise to behave, we've only got an hour to get to the hotel and meet mum."

Blair, who was just about finished anyway, mock pouted and got out of the way.

An hour later they pulled up outside the hotel and saw Alice waiting for them. She got in the car with a smile.

"I wasn't sure if you'd want to see me after what happened last night."

"Oh mum, that wasn't your fault. Dad's always been a bully. We don't hold you responsible for his attitudes."

"She's right Alice. Now lets get some breakfast, I'm starved." Blair pulled up in front of their favorite diner.

The diner was close to the precinct, and as they entered they bumped into Henri who was just leaving.

"Hey Hairboy, Megan. Are you meeting Jim? He's over by the window. "He pointed back over his shoulder.

"No, but thanks for the info. We'll see if he wants company." He glanced over to where Jim was sitting with is back to them.

"Oh! Alice, meet Henri. He's a colleague of ours. Henri meet Alice Connor, Megan's mom."

"Pleasure." Henri shook her hand. "Sorry I gotta dash. Rafe'll be annoyed if this is cold when I get back." He waved a greasy bag in the air.

"Looks healthy." Blair pulled a disgusted face.

Henri smirked. "If you think this is bad, you should see what Jim's ordered."

Blair hurried over to see what culinary crime Jim had committed. As he approached he could see his friend tucking into a huge fried breakfast.

Jim became aware of a shadow falling across his plate. He looked up straight into the eyes of his guide. He swallowed his mouthful of bacon and hash browns and smiled sheepishly up at Blair.

"Hey Chief. Didn't expect to see you here this morning."

"That's quite obvious." Blair stood with his hands on his hips and frowned. "Do I have to watch you twenty-four hours a day? You know what that stuff does to your arteries. Not to mention your digestive system."

"You're gonna make a wonderful mother someday." Alice piped up from behind him.

Megan and Jim burst into laughter as Blair stood with the wind taken out of his sails.

Jim stood and hugged Alice. "It's good to see you again Mrs. Connor. Why don't you join me? You can protect me from Sandburg. You're only the second person who's ever managed to leave him speechless."

"Call me Alice. And don't you worry I'll protect you. You obviously need it." She said ironically

They all settled round the table and the waitress came and took their order.

"So, what brings you all out so early on the day before the wedding?" Jim asked while they were waiting for their food.

"Actually it's my fault. I needed to talk to Megan and Blair about what happened last night." Alice took a sip of her tea.

"They told me about it. It sounded fairly unpleasant." Jim's eyes darkened with anger at the memory of what had been said to his friends.

"After they left Derek and I had a rather heated discussion. Well, more of a stand up row." Alice looked down at the table.

"Oh Mum! I sorry. I never meant to cause all this strife." Megan looked upset.

Alice leaned over and patted her hand "It's not your fault love. This has been long overdue. I should have stood up to him more in the past."

Blair got hold of her other hand and gave it a comforting squeeze.

"Anyway I wanted to speak to you before your father had a chance to drop the bombshell." She continued. "The upshot of it is that I've told your father I'm leaving him. I want a divorce. Things haven't been right with us since you left and this was the final straw."

Megan looked shocked. "Oh Mum. That's big step. How will you manage? You know what Dad's like; he won't give you a penny if he doesn't have to. You'll need a good lawyer and they cost a lot of money."

Alice's smile became almost predatory. "I'll be alright sweetheart, it's your father that you should be worried about."

"I don't understand Mum." Megan looked confused.

"It's simple really. A few years ago your dad had a little run in with the taxman. That shifty little accountant that he had then suggested that, to avoid paying so much tax, he should sign the house and one of the companies over into my name. He brought a lot of papers home and told me he wanted them signed. He was called away on business the next day and left them with me. I was suspicious and took them to a lawyer to get them explained." She paused to sip at her tea again.

"He had me sign them when he returned, he never knew that I knew what was in them. He kept them in the safe at home. A few months ago he called me from the office and asked me to get something from the safe for him. While I was there I took the papers out and left them with my lawyer. I had a feeling things were coming to a head and I wanted some insurance. With all the papers he keeps in there he never missed them. It's just as well I did, last night when I told him I was leaving, he threatened to cut me off without a penny."

"Oh my...what did he say when you told him what you'd done?" Megan was shocked at the turn of events.

"I didn't tell him yet. I did get on to my lawyer as soon as I could get away from your father. He's in the process of freezing the assets held in my name. So much for him cutting me off, I've cut him off."

"So what happens now? You are staying for the wedding aren't you?" Megan asked anxiously

"Yes, love. I wouldn't miss it for the world." Alice patted her hand.

The waitress arrived with their food and all talk stopped as they ate. Megan picked up her bag and started rooting around frantically.

"Oh no! I forgot it!" She looked up miserably.

Alice looked puzzled and Blair explained about her strange craving.

"Oh that reminds me. I brought you a present." Alice reached into the oversized handbag and produced an economy sized jar of Vegemite.

"Mum! You're a life saver." Megan grabbed it eagerly.

"I got through tons of that stuff when I was expecting you. When you said you were expecting I brought some in case. You always loved it when you were little." Alice smiled at the happy memories.

Megan was totally oblivious to her mother's trip down memory lane. She unscrewed the lid and dipped the tip of her finger into the dark sticky contents. She stuck it in her mouth and a blissed out expression crossed her face. Looking up she pinned Blair with her eyes.

Blair gulped loudly and shifted his chair slightly closer to Jim for protection.

Without breaking eye contact she spoke. "Jim, if you've got your handcuffs with you can I borrow them for a while; I've left mine at home."

Blair nudged Jim. "See I told you!!"

"Megan! Behave yourself, you're frightening Blair." Alice laughed at their banter. "Besides you're supposed to be spending the day with me, remember?"

Megan grinned. "Yeah, just like to keep him on his toes. Ok Sandy, you're off the hook. Hey Jim! Want some Vegemite." She waved the jar under his nose.

Jim's reaction was almost comical. He recoiled from the jar with such force that if Blair hadn't grabbed his chair he would have tipped over.

Alice reached over and took the jar away from her daughter.

"I knew I shouldn't have let you have this. It always made you hyperactive as a kid. You used to be so full of energy it was almost impossible to keep up with you."

"I wondered where she was getting all that extra stamina from. If I'd known I'd have rationed it sooner." Blair grinned at his fiancee to let her know he was only joking.

They finished their breakfast and left the diner. It was agreed among themselves that Alice should leave the hotel and stay at Megan and Blair's apartment. It had already been decided that Blair would stay at Jim's that night and see Megan at the wedding.

Blair left with Jim to collect Alice's luggage from the hotel while Megan and Alice went sightseeing. When they arrived they found her bags had been left in reception and Megan's father had departed.

The rest of the day passed without problem. After an early dinner the happy couple parted company and went to their respective abodes.

*********************************

The wedding was to take place at noon so Jim and Blair were up early to prepare. After a hearty breakfast and a hot shower they were dressed for the wedding in plenty of time.

Blair had chosen to go informal. He wore black dress slacks with an open neck shirt of dark peacock blue in a material that seemed to shimmer and change color as he moved. It was topped off with a new black leather jacket. His only jewellery was a sliver chain and two silver earrings. His hair was loose in deference to his bride's wishes.

Jim had opted to go more formal and he looked very smart in his dark gray suit with a blue shirt and dark tie.

"Well, here we are Chief. Big day has finally arrived. How are you holding up?"

"Me? I'm fine." Blair bounced impatiently on his toes. "Is it time to leave yet? Maybe I should go down and see how Megan's doing. You don't think this business with her parents is making her have second thoughts, do you?"

Jim grinned "Oh yeah, you're just fine. If you were wound any tighter you'd snap. Come on let's go. By the time we get there and meet up with Simon it'll almost be time for the ceremony."

They left and headed for the lift. Blair paused by the stairs.

"Maybe I should just pop down and check on how Megan's doing. Just in case she's changed her mind."

Blair was noticeably twitchy now. Jim could see the fine tremors running through him. He knew he'd never get Blair into the car if they didn't check in with Megan first.

"Ok. You wait by the stairs and I'll go check. It's bad luck to see her before the ceremony." Jim placed him firmly at the head of the stairs facing away from the apartment. "No peeping Chief. She wants her dress to be a surprise, remember."

As Jim approached the apartment the door opened and Alice stepped out. She looked surprised to see Jim.

"Oh! I was just on my way to see you. Megan wanted me to check on Blair. She was worried that all this business with me and her father might have put him off. Is everything ok?"

Jim laughed. "Oh yeah. He's got me on the same mission. It really scares me that they're even starting to think alike. We're just leaving. Tell her not to be late or I think he'll spontaneously combust."

Alice laughed. "Getting a little nervous is he? We'll be there, don't worry."

When Jim got back to Blair he found him bouncing on his toes and muttering to himself.

"Oh man this is not good. She's not coming."

Jim took pity on him and tapped him on his shoulder. Blair jumped about a foot in the air and spun round.

"Don't sneak up on me like that. I don't want to have a heart attack on my wedding day. Is everything ok?"

"Yeah, I spoke to Alice who was on her way to check on you. Come on if we're late Megan will probably get her gun and hunt you down."

********************************

They arrived at the courthouse in good time and, after checking that all the paperwork was in order, made their way to the courtroom where the ceremony was due to take place.

There were already several people waiting and as noon approached the room soon filled with guests. Most of them were colleagues from the precinct with a few of Blair's friends from the university scattered about.

Just before noon Judge McTeer entered the room and made her way to the front. She chatted briefly with Blair; joking about how nervous he looked. She then called everyone to order.

A hush fell over the room as the door opened and Megan entered, accompanied by her mother and Serena. She too had decided to go the non-traditional path with her dress, having decided she wasn't spending a lot of money on a dress she could only wear once.

Blair turned and watched her come towards him. She was a vision in dark wine red. It was a sheer overdress with a dark red slip dress underneath. The color picked out the red highlights in her hair and she seemed to glow with health and happiness.

Jim breathed a sigh of relief. After all the upheaval of the last few days he had begun to doubt whether they would ever get to this point. Now he could relax and enjoy the rest of the day.

The ceremony was fairly brief; the vows were sweet and said with a calm serenity that surprised Jim considering he could see Blair was practically vibrating with nervous energy.

"You may kiss the bride." Judge McTeer spoke the final words of the ceremony.

Blair did just that. Two minutes later everyone was still waiting to congratulate them. Jim cleared his throat as a hint and the happy couple finally broke for air.

Everyone gathered round offering good wishes. Simon turned to Jim and heaved a sigh of relief.

"Thank god that's over. At least nothing can go wrong now."

As he spoke there was gunfire outside the courtroom and the doors burst open. Three men piled into the room, slamming the door shut behind them. Without blinking half the people in attendance, including the bride pulled weapons and pointed them at the three fugitives.

It was almost comical when they turned round, found themselves looking down the business end of twenty guns and realized they were facing a room full of armed police officers.

"Drop your weapons, you're under arrest." Jim growled the order out.

The three men did as they were told with great speed. As the last one stood up Jim got a good look at him.

"Hey Simon, do these guys look familiar to you?"

Simon peered at them intently. The light was stronger and he was sober but he had no difficulty recognizing the troublemakers from Blair's bachelor party.

Blair looked up at the biggest of the three with a slightly confused expression on his face. "Do I know you?" He asked. He squinted at him again and his face lit up with recognition. "Oh yeah, I remember now. How're the jewels man?"

When the man realized who was standing in front of him, his eyes widened in terror. He protectively covered his nether regions and whimpered.

"Keep him away. I'll go quietly. Just keep him away."

The door burst open again and the courthouse guards came in. They took the prisoners back into custody and, after arranging with Simon and Jim to get everyone's details for witness statements, left the wedding to continue.

Blair looked around at his friends and couldn't help noticing that his colleagues from the university had formed a sort of protective huddle together. Some of them were staring with horrified fascination at the assortment of weapons being put away by the other guests.

"Hey guys, can we stop scaring the normal folk among us please? It's not that I'm not grateful but I can't believe you all came to my wedding packing heat." He turned to his bride. "And I don't even want to know where you got that from."

Megan smiled impishly and lifted the hem of her dress to reveal her wedding garter. It was a thigh holster with lace sewn around it and decorated with silver horseshoes.

"Do you like it? Rhonda and Serena had it made specially for me."

Blair mock glared at the two women. "Somehow that doesn't surprise me."

Rhonda grinned. "It seemed appropriate. Now that she's married her very own trouble magnet she'll need all the help she can get."

"I am not a trouble magnet!" Blair protested.

Everyone seemed to snicker, even his friends from the university who knew enough of his exploits to see the joke. Jim put his arm round Blair's shoulder.

"Um...Chief, I hate to break it to you, but who else do you know who had his wedding crashed by three prison escapees? Who had to invite most of the SWAT and bomb disposal teams to his wedding reception to ensure it DIDN'T go with a bang?"

Henri patted him consolingly on the back. "Between you and me Hairboy, I'm wearing Kevlar under here." He said patting his shirtfront.

Blair turned to Megan who was watching their guests file out of the room chatting among themselves.

"I'm not a trouble magnet, am I?" He said pouting slightly.

Megan smiled at his slightly forlorn expression. "Yeah, but you're my trouble magnet and I wouldn't change you."

They followed their guests and once outside the building, found themselves showered with confetti. The noise drew the attention of a news crew who were filming a piece about the daring escape attempt. Recognizing a good news item when they saw it they approached the wedding party.

"Excuse me, would you like to comment on the events of earlier." Don Haas shoved the microphone at Blair.

Blair grinned into the camera. "Yeah, I got married. Isn't she beautiful?" He pulled Megan into his side.

Don Haas looked annoyed. "I meant the attempted escape of three armed prisoners. I understand that you and your party were instrumental in their capture."

Unable to resist messing with Haas, Blair looked around in mock surprise. "Escaped prisoners? I didn't see any escaped prisoners. Did any of you see any escaped prisoners?"

There was a chorus of "no, not me", "nah", "didn't see a thing" before everyone headed off to the reception.

********************************

The rest of the day went without a hitch. The food was good, the drink was flowing and everyone enjoyed themselves. There were no explosions, nobody tried to take over the hotel and, at the end of the evening, the bride and groom left for their honeymoon without being kidnapped, hijacked or otherwise terrorized.

Jim and Simon watched them drive off into the night with a huge sense of relief.

"Oh well nothing else can go wr..." Simon found himself unable to finish his sentence.

"Last time you said that we were attacked by armed men." Jim hissed in his ear.

"Point taken. "Simon agreed. "Did you manage to slip the tracking device onto him?"

"Yeah, they've both got one built into their wedding bands. It's handy being the best man. It meant I could get the rings altered without him knowing. They're so tiny they'll never know they're there. It helps to have friends in low places."

"Do you really think it's necessary?" Simon asked dubiously. "Won't he be cross when he finds out?"

"Simon, this is Sandburg we're talking about. Do you really think I'd let them wander off unprotected in that car with his sense of direction?"

Simon snorted. "Yeah I see what you mean. Come on; let's get back to the party. I think Serena's feeling abandoned."

Jim blushed and they wandered back into the hotel, Simon smiling at Jim's embarrassment.

"Hey Jim, what's the name of the guy who did the rings? Just in case I need to return the favor for you in the future. Jim? Jim...?"

The End