Deana got this wonderful Pic of Ken Earl via E-mail. She was kind enough to forward it to me. Mmmmm. Very nice. I've got it sitting in front of me right now. So, I guess it's time for a new Joel story. I also need to write one for a zine (Sorry, Wolfie, They asked, and I agreed). That's going to be the back-story on Mable. But for now, I think I'm gonna see where this one goes. Real Life's been kind of crummy of late, so I'm not writing as much as I was. Darn it. I'd much rather write stories than mope around the house, but I'm no longer allowed to use the computer very much. Sigh.

The standard disclaimers are still in effect. I don't own any of these wonderful guys, they belong to their creators and other corporations, to whom I am grateful for not suing me over the use of their property. They also belong to the actors who portray them, who give them faces and voices for us to remember.

Well, a muse or two just bashed and I kind of know where this is going. It doesn't promise to be very long, but oh well. It's a missing scene/addendum to 'Waiting Room', with references to 'Murder 101'. Oh, yeah, this has no relationship to my other stories in the AU I've created where everyone on the squad knows about Jim.

Regaining Trust


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Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I mean, ghosts? Come on, get real. It was funny when Simon was tearing into them in the bullpen. It was funny when we told Brown and Rafe about it. It was even funnier when Brown masterminded the 'haunted house'. It was even funny when we first saw Jim and Blair's faces. But it stopped being funny when Blair didn't laugh. Of course, Jim didn't laugh either, but that was to be expected, I suppose. He never has been one for a lot of hijinks, although he can give and take with the best of them. But this time, this time was different. It was kind of strange, really. They were both so serious and Blair looked so hurt that we'd pull off a joke like that on them. That's when I realized that it wasn't a joke, that Jim really had seen a ghost. Oh, man. I apologized, but they just kinda waved us off. We took off, but I kept looking back at them, standing there. Brown and Rafe were still laughing when I dropped them off.

Simon has convinced himself that Blair's herbal cold remedy was the cause of Jim's 'ghosts'. I don't know. Somehow, I doubt it. The way they just stood there and took Simon's 'explanation'. I think they may have been telling the truth. I just have this feeling It's kind of spooky, you know? After Simon heads back to his office and Jim and Blair go back to their reports, I kinda wander over to them. After the other night, I'm not real surprised when they ignore me, but I can be very patient. After a couple of minutes, Blair looks up.

"Hey, Joel. Something you need?" His voice doesn't tell me anything, except that he's tired.

"Not really. I was just kind of wondering," I pause for a moment, trying to decide how to phrase this without setting them off. Taking a deep breath, I plunge on, "well, did you really see a ghost?" Even I can hear the pleading whine in my voice. I can see them both stiffen, Jim doesn't look up, though. Blair has learned to do a fair imitation of the 'Ellison Jaw Clench', however.

He glances at his partner, chews on his lip for a second and asks, "Does it really matter?" Which almost sounds like 'do you really care?'

"I guess not." I reply, "But after the other night, when we pulled that juvenile joke on you, well I'm sorry. We were out of line." I'm apologizing again. Knowing that they were hurt by what we had done, whether the ghost had been real or not didn't matter. What mattered was that we hurt their feelings and I felt the need at least, to clear the air with them. Jim chose that moment to look up with one of those patented Ellison glares.

"Look, it's over. Simon's convinced it was that herbal cure Blair gave me." He started to turn back to his work, but I jumped back in. Sometimes I wonder if I don't have a death wish.

"But that doesn't explain what Dunlop saw, or how you managed to go to the department sketch artist and get pictures not only of Dunlop, but the dead woman, as well." Like I said, a definite death wish on my part. Got to be. I had both of their attention, now. The undivided kind. I had to struggle not to squirm.

"So?" Jim asked, his voice was carefully cold. I shrugged.

"So, maybe you really did see something." I'm leaving it up to them, they look at each other. I could swear that they were talking to each other, only they didn't say anything. Sandburg cocked his head to one side, and Jim shrugged, turning back to his paperwork, then he looked up at me and I could feel the way his eyes were looking at me.

I'm not stupid. And I am a detective, after all. I know that there's something special about Jim. There has been at least since Sandburg came along. I have to admit that the kid was a surprise. Not just that he was so different from Jim, but that he's managed to change Jim so much. He's taken that cold, withdrawn, hurting man and turned him into a warm, caring, almost normal human being. Without getting himself killed in the process. Anyway, I've been trying to hint about what's been going on with Jim, doing everything but coming right out and saying something to Simon. All that crap about taking that course he took to learn how to find evidence the way he does. Man, I could hardly see that hair standing next to the broken window at that one crime scene. And as for finding the pencil impressions in that piece of paper? Oh, please. Even forensics had a hard time finding those impressions.

OK, OK. Let's just say I know something's up with Ellison's senses. You'd have to be blind or stupid not to know there's something going on. Of course, I can understand why he'd want to keep it a secret from people, especially the bad guys. I'd hate to be here if everyone knew. There'd be so many idiots wanting to take on 'super cop' I shudder just to think about it. Not a nice prospect.

I'm watching them. I can tell that they're communicating. Jim looks back at Blair and sorta shrugs a little, then he looks at me again and leans back in his chair. There's something challenging about it.

"What do you want, Joel?" There's a kind of resigned tone in his voice.

"Can I buy you guys a cup of coffee or something?" Suddenly, I don't want to be discussing any of this in the bullpen where we might be overheard. At least in the break-room, we can have some semblance of privacy. They look at each other again, both of them shrug and then stand up. Blair answers for them both.

"Sure. I could use a soda." I follow them to the break-room. Funny, how they stay so close to each other. Like they're connected, almost. No, not that way. Like they're a single unit, a team. And it's all so, so natural. It's weird, but maybe it's a part of what Jim can do. I've got to admit that my curiosity is really making me crazy. I know that I'm going to ask. And after the other night, I wonder if they'll trust me enough to tell me the truth?

I put the money in the soda machine and Blair pushes the button for his choice. Jim and I both opt for coffee. They're watching me. I'm starting to feel like a mouse who has come out of his hole and found not one, but two hungry cats waiting for him. I am not, however, going to back down now. My curiosity is running rampant and I need some answers. I just hope that that stupid joke hasn't ruined everything. We sit down at one of the tables.

"So," I start, I can't believe how nervous I'm feeling. "What's going on?" There. I've asked it.

"What do you mean, Joel?" Jim isn't going to help me here at all. I just look at him, then at Sandburg, then back at Ellison.

"Your senses, for one thing." Man. I couldn't have chosen a better thing to say. They both freeze. I can see Ellison's muscles all tighten up, like over-winding a watch-spring. I can feel the tension in the air. I decide to help them out a little, maybe get back a little of that trust I'm so afraid I've broken. "You know, seeing a single, blond hair in a pane of glass at twenty feet? Or, how about feeling writing on that piece of paper? Even forensics had trouble finding it. But you could see that hair; you could feel that faint impression. Come on, guys. I'm not stupid."

"I," Sandburg cast a quick glance at his partner, who was still making like a chunk of granite, no help there, kid. I'll give him credit, though. Sandburg's got a lot of sand. He looked back at me, those big, cerulean blue eyes looking up at me, pleading. I just wait. He takes a deep breath, lets it out, glances again at Jim, takes another breath and starts talking. "I thought you wanted to know about the ghost thing." He tries to distract me. I just kind of smile at him. Time for some damage control

"Well, the way I figure it, it's all got to be connected. So, Jim; how many of your senses are like Superman's? Can you " I stop talking. Jim's trembling. Eyes screwed tightly shut. Oh, dear Lord. He's afraid. Of me? Of course he is. I could ruin everything for him, couldn't I? Yeah, I guess so.

"Hey, Jim?" I keep my voice soft and low. "I'm not gonna tell anyone. Although I would guess that Simon knows. But this ghost thing," I stop, trying to find the right words. "It's really got him spooked, you know? I mean, here he's been dealing with you and your, what, sensory thing? Psychic abilities? Nah, if it was psychic, he wouldn't have been so upset about the ghost. So, Simon's spooked, and I imagine you probably are, too. Only this time, Simon doesn't want to back you up. So, you're feeling just a mite vulnerable, a little lost. Then, on top of everything else, I have to come along and start asking questions. I can understand why you might be a little uneasy. But you've gotta know that I would never do anything to hurt you guys. You do know that, don't you?" I'm not sure why, but I've got this need to let them know that I'm on their side, that I mean them no harm. That they can trust me. I wait, holding my breath, for their answer.

They just stare at each other again. It's funny, not ha-ha funny, but peculiar; Jim has this reputation of being so cold and unfeeling, but watching him right now, I can read the fear in his eyes. He's terrified. I wonder why, but then it hits me. Of course he's afraid. I already know why. I just never realized how expressive his face really is. Most people never get past the clenched jaw. "Hey, guys? You don't have to tell me anything. It's OK. Really." They've been communicating silently, again. Then they both turn to me. Jim's got this almost feral look about him. Now I'm starting to worry. I know just how dangerous he can be. I've seen him in action, after all.

Then, all of a sudden he sighs and looks away, he kind of well, sags, I guess. He glances at Blair, who's starting to look worried about him. Jim looks away, kind of off into the distance. "I'm not Superman." He mumbles.

"I never thought you were." I relax a bit, leaning forward to rest my elbows on the table (sorry, Mama) and play with my cup, stirring the coffee needlessly. I glance at him, with a faint smile, and add, "If you were, you wouldn't have to wear kevlar, like the rest of us do." I'm inordinately pleased when they both crack a faint smile in return.

Chuckling dryly, Jim answers. "Yeah, you got that right." He looks at Blair again, sadness and worry in his eyes, "If I were, I could do a better job of protecting people." His voice, usually soft, is almost inaudible. I see Blair smile and pat his partner's hand. I can understand. Jim's a protector. Blair seems to have one of those black clouds hanging over him when it comes to getting into scrapes or hurt and Jim just can't be with him every second to protect him. Heck, he can't even always protect him when they are together, it just isn't humanly possible.

"But?" I urge, keeping my own voice just as soft as his. Blair's just watching us, he's got one hand on Jim's wrist, where it's resting against the table. I can see that it's to comfort and support his partner, his friend. I remember back when I was in 'Nam, there was this kid in the squad, he was like a puppy, always at my elbow, nice kid. Blair reminds me of him. Suddenly, I can really relate to how Jim's feeling, at least a little. Dennis, that was the kid who tagged along after me, died in my arms when he took the bullet a sniper sent my way. That's the kind of loyalty these two have. I've never let anyone get that close to me again, except my wife. But that's a little different. I'm kind of hesitant, but I reach one of my ham fists over to cover Blair's hand, as well as Jim's. "I understand. You know that I'm here if you guys need help, don't you?" I doubt if I'm saying it right, but they both look at me, and Blair smiles, one of those big, bright, happy ones. Jim smiles a little, too.

"Yeah. You always have been, haven't you, Joel?" Jim asks me.

"I try to be." I answer, hoping it's enough. It seems that it just might be, because Jim's smile gets a little bigger and he sits up and takes a deep breath. He turns to Sandburg and smiles. I pull back my hand and Jim tells his partner to go get Simon.

While we're waiting, we just kind of look at each other and sip our coffee. Jim's apparently reached some sort of decision, because he's smiling, now. It probably only takes Sandburg two minutes and he's back with a really worried looking Simon hot on his heels.

"Do we need to take this to my office?" are the first words out of the Captain's mouth. I grin, exchanging a look with Jim.

"I don't know. There are real walls here, not just those partitions you call walls around your office, plus, the door here is a lot heavier." Jim's positively smirking, now. "Your call, Simon." I may have taken the demotion to detective, but I retained pay and am not about to kowtow to anyone who's as good a friend as Simon is. Not now, not ever. Jim's grinning now, too.

"Jim?" Simon sounds plaintive. He looks at Jim, then at Blair, who's still looking serious and worried, then at me, then back at Jim. I'm having a hard time not laughing.

"Yes, Sir?" Jim asks, polite and formal, as usual.

"Sandburg said "

I decide to help the poor guy out. "I was asking questions about just how much like Superman Jim is." I say quietly; chuckling when Simon nearly swallows that unlit cigar of his.


Jim starts laughing. I can't help it and join in. Blair smiles and starts rocking back and forth on his toes a little. Simon just glares, trying to get back in control

"So, Joel," Simon says, "What brought this on?"

I shrug. "Well, a lot of things, actually. This ghost thing was just the one that put it over the top and I had to ask."

"Look, we figured out that it was Blair's 'herbal remedy' that caused Jim to see ghosts." Simon started, but I stop him.

"No. I think he really saw something." Both Jim and Blair turn their undivided attention on me. I don't think that was quite what they expected. "Look, we both we all know that Jim can do things that we can't, that we don't understand. But some herbal interaction with his weird metabolism can't explain how he could give a description of Dunlop and Molly, descriptions good enough to get an ID from." I remind them. I can see Simon blushing. "I just want to know what's going on. It's been going on for three years, now, and although I've only been actively on the squad for a few months, I figure that it's about time somebody let me in on the secret. I mean, as the newest one here, I should be the last to know, but how long is it going to take you to let me in?" Seeing the looks on their faces, I suddenly realized that I had made a mistake.

"The others don't know?" I'm incredulous.

"Well, Megan does." Blair reluctantly admits. "She found out when we went to Sierra Verde."

"OK, Well, I figured it out, too." I look at each of them, closely, "Don't you trust me any more?" I know the hurt that thought makes me feel can be heard in my voice. Jim reacts the strongest.

"It's not that." He insists; then stops and looks at Blair and Simon. "It's just that, well, we figured that the fewer who know, the safer it is."

"The less likely the guys in black come and make you disappear." I say softly. With that, they all relax. Simon most of all.

"Yeah." Simon agrees. "You're not planning on retiring real soon, are you?" The tone is light-hearted, but he's serious; I can tell.

"Not this year. Maybe in a few, though. Besides, I'd prefer my friends to stay around, not disappear into the Twilight Zone."

"Well, that's what this is, all right." Simon mutters. He looks at Jim and Blair. "You still need me here? I do have some work to do." He's all right with this. With me knowing. I smile, just a little, pleased with the level of trust they're ready to give me.

"Go ahead, Sir." Jim says. "We just thought you should know what was going on." He's smiling, relaxed, now. He picks up his cup and takes several swallows.

Simon just nods, glares at Blair, gives me a sickly smile, and leaves. I have a hard time not laughing out loud. Jim looks at me and chuckles.

"So, what do you want to know?" He asks.

It wasn't as crazy as I thought it might be. I can accept enhanced senses. They didn't have an explanation for the ghost thing, however. They were just as uncomfortable with it as everyone else was. I decided that it didn't really matter. As I stood up to rinse my cup and head back to my desk, I said, "Maybe we should just accept it as a case of Jim's eyesight being better than ours. You say he can see into the infrared, so, why not the ultraviolet, as well?" I could see Sandburg grabbing at that thought and tearing into it.

"Yeah, but what about the visions, the cold spots? He could hear them, see what happened forty-five years ago what about " I stopped him before he could scare his partner off. "Blair, one of the theories about ghosts is that it's just like a movie set on a loop, repeating over and over again. Maybe Jim's enhanced senses just allowed him to see the film." I know darned well what he was saying. I could also see that Jim just wanted to forget it and pretend it never happened. I could also tell that Jim knew the truth about it, but didn't want to deal with it. I figured that Jim wasn't ready to delve too deeply into this; and I couldn't blame him. I put my cup in the rack and turned to head back to do some 'real' work. "Besides, does it really matter, anyway?" I ask, "Isn't the really important thing that he can do what he does? Do you have to explain it? I mean, there are a lot of things that we don't know. Like how the universe began, where we came from, whatever? Personally, I find it much easier to believe in a God who created everything. It requires a lot less faith than to believe in all the 'coincidences' that it would have taken to get us to where we are. I, for one, am willing to just accept Jim's abilities, and work with that. I don't have to know how, or why he has them, just be grateful that he's one of the good guys."

Blair stared at me. "But how his senses work is most of my thesis." He explained, softly.

"So? Document what he can do. Don't try to analyze it so much. Sure, you need to find out what he can do, help him get better at it, but you don't really need to know how it works, do you? Wouldn't that be like the guy who dissected the goose that laid the golden eggs to find out how it was done? He didn't find out and he no longer had the goose that could perform the miracle." I could see Blair mulling it over. He looked at Jim, who was just sitting there, waiting patiently for us to finish, so he could go back to work. Finally, Blair smiled.

"In other words, don't look a gift Sentinel in the brain, huh?" Mangling the old saying; but both Jim and I smiled.

"Yeah. It's more important to help him do his thing and train him to do better. Anything else isn't really important. Just being able to accept what is and the faith that it's a good thing, no matter how it came to be." They just nodded and stood up. Jim rinsed out his cup and set it in the rack next to mine. He smiled at me and patted me on the shoulder as he headed back to his desk. Blair smiled at me as well, put his empty can in the recycle bin and followed his partner back to their desks.

I stood there a minute after they left, mulling over what I had learned. It wouldn't be hard to keep their secret. What they did was much too important to risk. Besides, Friends don't do things to hurt friends, at least, not on purpose. With a silly smile on my face, I headed back to my own desk.

It's funny, but every time I look at them, I find myself smiling. I can't help it. It's nice to be in the loop. To be trusted enough by my friends that they confided in me. Of course, I'm getting some pretty strange looks from everyone who comes by and notices my silly mood maybe I need to do something distracting. Like I notice that I'm the only one in the bullpen for the moment. Grabbing a few little toys from my desk, I rush over to Brown's desk and set my little trap. It's harmless, but should serve as a distraction. I finish and get back to my desk in time for Simon to come out, notice that no one's there but me, and he gives me the case he'd just been handed. He tells me to try and find Connor to take with me. I smile and head out the door. Connor said she was going down to forensics, so I head down to find her, passing Jim and Blair on my way in. We smile at each other.

It didn't take very long at all to find the perp. He was still hiding in the building. We just had to figure out where he would hide. Once we had done that, it was easy. Just another disgruntled employee taking his aggression out on his co-workers. Once we had him transported and run through booking, we headed back to the office. Jim and Blair were the only ones there, so I just kind of walk over and say 'hi'. They look at Megan, then back at me, but I just smile and shake my head. Nope. Didn't talk to her about them. Not going to talk to her about them. That's why they can trust me. I lean over Jim's desk and whisper to keep an eye on Brown's desk, then head for my desk, where Megan is waiting for me so we can do the paperwork. I can't help smiling as I start filling the blanks on the computerized form.

It's nearly an hour later when Brown and Rafe get back. They'd had to go to court. The first thing Brown does is pull off his tie, then shucks off his jacket and tosses it on the back of his chair. He slams down in his chair and snarls at his partner that he doesn't want to talk about it. I can see that he's upset about something. Blair goes over and asks what's wrong. Seems that their perp tried to claim entrapment. It didn't work, since Brown and Rafe had been in the convenience store to buy some snacks for the office when the fool came in and tried to rob it, but it still annoyed them. Brown was taking it rather personally. I almost stopped him when he reached for his bottom drawer, but didn't. As the drawer opened, my little practical joke went off. The tiny canister of helium filled the balloon, when the inflating latex touched Henry's leg, he jumped back and looked down, the release valve in the balloon let the gas out in a stream straight into his face. He took a deep breath and yelled, "What the hell is this? Who," he started sputtering, sounding just like Donald Duck, from the helium. It took about half a second, and everybody, except Brown, was laughing hysterically. Poor Henry, he took another deep breath to yell again, but all that came out were the squeaky sounds from inhaling the helium. Simon came out of his office to see what all the laughing was about. One look, one listen and he lost it, as well, and joined us in laughing. Brown just glared around at all of us, but his own sense of humor finally won out and he started laughing, too. He pulled my little toy out of his desk drawer and took it over to hand it to Blair.

"What's this for, H?" Sandburg asked. Brown just chuckled and patted the kid on the back.

"Just giving you back your little toy, Hair-boy."

"But, it isn't mine." Blair insisted, his earnest expression and the fact that he'd stopped laughing clueing Brown in.

"Well, then, whose is it?" Looking around at the rest of us, settling his gaze on Jim.

"Wasn't me." Jim insisted, still grinning.

"OK, come on. 'Fess up. Who's the mastermind? Simon? nah, couldn't be him" The last muttered under his breath. "Rafe? Did you do this?"

"When and how, H? I've been with you all day." Both men turned to look at Connor.

"Sorry, mates. Keep looking, although, I wouldn't mind meeting up with the builder of this little contraption. It is rather clever."

I almost felt badly about it, but they never even looked at me. Not even once. They looked out in the hallway, checked down in vice, but came up empty. Well, if they can't figure it out, I'm certainly not going to tell them.

They were still worrying it when it came time to head for home. I happened to catch the elevator with Megan, Jim, and Blair. Jim glanced at me.

"They never will think of you." He said.

"What do you mean?" Pretending innocence, which I know full well he's not buying.

"That contraption. You did it."

"Oh, come on, Jim," Megan defended me, "You can't really think that Joel, here, would have done anything as juvenile as that little prank, do you?" She was grinning.

"Why not?" I asked, wondering why no one would think me capable of a practical joke.

"Because well, because you're too, too " She stopped talking and stared at me. Then she looked at Sandburg and then Ellison. "What, you were in it, together?" She couldn't seem to believe it.

"Nope." Blair said, grinning up at her.

"But "

"I'm sorry to disappoint you, Megan, but it was all me." I watched her as she absorbed that little bit of information. She looked at Blair and then at Jim. "How'd you know it was Joel?" She asked. I know I blushed, embarrassed.

"Because he's a detective." I answered. Probably a little harsher than I intended. She had the grace to look surprised.

"I thought " Then her face kind of crumpled up a little and she looked confused.

"Just as long as you're just thinking and not talking." I said, trying to say it nicely. "What no one knows isn't going to get him hurt." I kind of glared at her until she got my meaning; she's kind of pretty when she blushes.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean I mean I didn't " She snapped her mouth closed; I don't know if she was more annoyed with herself, or me. I smiled.

"Just try to keep it down. No one's supposed to know, remember?" I was so glad that the elevator came to a stop at that moment and the doors opened so I could make my escape. "So, guys, you coming over for the poker game tonight?" I ask, it's my turn to host. Jim and Blair exchange glances and Jim nods.

"Yeah, seven-thirty, right?"

"That's it. How about you, Connor?" I extend the invitation, something that hasn't happened before.

"What? Poker?" She sounded intrigued.

"Yeah. Friday nights. Tonight it's at my house. You want the address and directions?" I offered.

"Sure." She sounded excited to finally be included. "What can I bring?"

"BYOB, and something for everyone to snack on. Although, if you're a beer drinker you won't need to. I've still got beer from the last three parties I've held at my house." I smiled at her.

"What kind of snacks?" She asked.

"Whatever you want. We usually have something like pizza and most of the guys bring stuff like chips and dips, pretzels, that sort of thing. Although, Sandburg has been known to bring some pretty exotic stuff, like chocolate covered ants, wasn't it?" I turn to the kid. He's just smiling and watching.

"Huh? What?" He asks. I can see him rewinding the tape recorder in his brain and playing back what was just said. "Oh, no, it was crickets." He was still just kind of mooning over Megan. I looked at Jim. He smirked back at me. I smiled back. Sandburg's on the prowl, and Megan's his prey. This was going to be fun.

"So, Connor, you going to come?" I ask. She's totally oblivious to the kid's attention.

She thinks about it and says, "Well, maybe. Give me the address and we'll see." I grab my wallet from my pocket, pull out a business card and write my address, home phone number, and directions on the back.

"Don't lose this." She takes it and looks over the directions, realizes that she can follow them, and smiles at me. She nods.

"Maybe I'll see you tonight, then."

"Yeah, that'll be great." Jim finally adds. He and I exchanged smug expressions and head for our cars. Jim has to grab Blair by the arm and practically drag him along. Connor just stood there and watched us go, a puzzled expression on her face.

So, here we sit, Simon, Jim, Blair, Connor, Brown, Rafe, and me. My wife's gone to a movie, and we've got the house to ourselves. We're all pretty even on the win/lose scale. Sandburg's distracted by Megan; which is probably why he's not cleaning us out like he usually does. None of us are razzing him. Brown and Rafe are probably just trying to pick up some pointers. Probably the best one is how he treats the lady, like she's the only one in the room. He manages to play, but he's not nearly as cutthroat as he usually is. It's like he's entertaining the lady, rather than her just joining 'the boys' for the game. It's kind of cute, actually. Connor's a decent player, but not as good as we are, not that she doesn't take her share of the pots, she's just easier to read and doesn't have a really great poker face for bluffing. Of course, Sandburg may be distracting her as well. I almost expect them to rush off together at any moment. Actually, they're kind of cute together, even though she is a couple of inches taller than he is, still

Jim's just kind of watching them, like the benevolent father who approves of his son's date. Whoa! Where did that come from? But I can see that sort of relationship, between them. One of many that I've seen. There's that 'big brother' relationship, which shows up whenever Blair's in danger. The 'mother hen' whenever Blair's hurt, and the reverse, when Sandburg becomes the mother hen when Jim's hurt or sick. Then there's the 'buddy' relationship, which is also part of the 'brother' thing; usually when they're working on something together, discussing, listening to each other, debating and reaching decisions together, not all that different from my marriage, to tell the truth. Then there's the 'father' figure, the one that yells at Blair when he screws up. Just from the way Jim treats him when he's angry, I can see that he must have had a terrible childhood. I imagine there was at least mental abuse, if not outright physical abuse. He's big, he's very strong, and he knows it. Even when enraged, he's very careful not to hurt anyone. I've seen him fight for that control. I've seen him out of control. I've even seen him break down but that's not someplace I want to go, right now. He's a lot better since the kid came into his life. I'm sure it's a lot of give-and-take, on both their parts.

Of course, I've watched Blair grow up and mature, as well. He's still the same enthusiastic, relatively happy man he was at the beginning of their relationship. But he's calmed down, some. Of course, dying will do that to you. He's become more serious since he drowned in the fountain at the university. I was off teaching a class at the Fan Belt Inspector's academy and wasn't here when all that happened. In a lot of ways, I'm glad I wasn't. I've never told anyone about why Jim left Vice, but I was there. I helped him make the decision. I held him when he broke down. I talked to Simon about taking him on. I hate to think of what might have happened if he'd stayed in Vice. Now, with Sandburg around, even when they fight, it's OK. They're the family each other needs. I hope that Megan can understand that. Especially now that we both know why they're together. I'm pretty sure that Simon's probably glad that someone else knows, that can back him up with them without worrying about their secret accidentally being revealed.

I wonder what will happen if one of them falls in love? Or, not if when. I just hope that when it does happen, as is almost inevitable, it happens with someone like Megan, who can accept the need they have for each other. I worry about Jim, always have, really. He's so afraid of getting hurt again; not that I blame him. I know darned well that it takes two to make or break a marriage. I knew from the start that he and Carolyn weren't going to make it. He was so closed off and she was so demanding, and they couldn't communicate with each other. He shows his feelings in the way he touches people. She was one who wanted pretty words and constant attention. Too bad Sandburg isn't a woman, they'd be perfect together Whoa! Let's not go there again. I've heard the rumors, but I know that they're just that. But they are good together; good for each other. Complimentary. Jim's physical, action; Blair's cerebral, words. Between them, they each fill in the gaps in the other. Blair has given Jim a voice, someone who cares about him, gives him a feeling of acceptance, safety, someone he can count on. Jim has given Blair security, a home, the same acceptance that he's given in return. Each has managed to provide the other with the family neither one has ever really had and both obviously need. I'm going to enjoy watching to see what happens with them, now that I know their secret, I'm also going to enjoy working with them and watching them work. It all makes sense, now. Sense. That's funny

Rats! I can't believe it. I've been so busy watching Ellison, Sandburg and Connor that I just threw away a full house! Enough of this 'people watching' and thinking! I need to play some poker. But first, I need a beer.

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