Well, the idea for this one came from an episode of The Equalizer that was just on. It deals with child abuse, and the occasional aftermath thereof.

You Have No Right.


"Oh, come on, Jim. It won't be that bad. It's only a bunch of kids."

"Yeah. Kids I'm gonna scare half to death. I-I-I'm not good with kids, Chief. I scare them."

"Well, with that grimace you're wearing, of course you do. Kids are smart, man. If they think you don't like them, they're not going to like you. Besides, why wouldn't you scare them? You scare bad guys, too. Think of these kids as....the guys at the station, man. As friends, or-or puppies. You can't resist puppies, I've seen you. Think of them as little puppies." He turned one of his mega-watt smiles on his partner. Jim scowled back at him. "No. No, man. Not like that. Think of puppies, cute, little fuzzy puppies, you come in and they see you, you're so big, that they freeze in place, uncertain. You see how cute they are and you ...Come on, Jim. Work with me, here. Smile. No, that's too pained looking. Smile. They're puppies Not perps."

Jim sighed, wondering why he got stuck with this particular chore. They usually sent uniforms out on these things. Oh, yeah. The mayor. Must show the policeman of the year off. Shit. He never knew how to talk to kids. Hell, he stuttered. Great way to give a speech. Good thing Sandburg had written his speech and helped him memorize it. He'd be in a world of hurt if he'd had to do it all himself. Taking a deep breath, he steadied himself and headed for the auditorium, well, the lunch room, which doubled as an auditorium. "Puppies, huh?" He couldn't help smiling at the thought.

"Yeah, man. Like that!" Blair declared. Smiling and bouncing.

"You're like a puppy yourself, Chief." Jim chuckled. "One of those little long-haired terriers that bounce all over the place when you walk with them.

"Do not." Grinning.

"Do too." The grin broadening into a full smile.

"Do not."

"Do too"

"Do not." Gentle shove.

"Do too." Pushing back.

"Not." Harder shove.

"Do." Grabbing him and giving his partner a noogie, along with messing up his hair.

"Aauuggh. Not the hair, man!" Ducking and escaping the gentle grasp.

"Do. We're here, Chief. Geeze, Sandburg. Do something with your hair, will you?" Enormous smile.

Blair smiled to himself as he pulled his hair back and tied it up. Pleased that his distraction and horseplay had worked on his partner.

The audience consisted of first, second, and third graders. He talked about what to do if a stranger approached, how to scream for help, how to run away. He told them that drugs were bad, and that they didn't have to give in to peer pressure, he pointed to Blair as an example of ignoring the crowd, the kids all giggled, while Blair looked shocked and hurt, until Jim grabbed him and gave him a brief hug as he laughed, along with the class.

"Yeah. He looks different, but he's still my best friend." He informed the students.

When they got to the question and answer period, Blair helped with coming up with useful responses for the children, much to Jim's relief. There was one little girl, who thought about raising her hand, several times, but never quite got up the nerve. As the questions trailed off, Jim focused on her. As the assembly was dismissed, he approached her and sat beside her.

"You had a question you didn't want the others to hear. How can I help you?"

The little girl glanced around, focused on a little boy, and whispered to him. "I got a friend. His dad beats him. A lot. Yells at him for no reason. I've heard him. I..I've seen the bruises. Why can't the police do anything to make him stop?"

Jim froze. Paling. Blair, seeing his distress hurried over, after excusing himself from the teachers.

"What is it?" coming up and crouching beside the pair.

"My friend. His daddy beats him up. A lot. Why can't the police make him stop? Jimmy's a good boy. I like him. He got in a fight with a bully once, who was trying to steal my lunch. His dad broke his arm for it. Why can't you make him stop hurting Jimmy?"

Realizing just how close to home this might be hitting his partner, Blair shifted and placed a reassuring hand on Jim's shoulder. "The police can't do anything if no one tells them about it. Has his mom called the police when this happens?"

"His mom moved away last year. I think he hit her, too."

Jim's jaws were flexing in fury. "Let's go talk to your teacher, OK?" The little girl took him by the hand and led him to her teacher. Jim softly asked if they could talk somewhere private. She insisted the principal join them; just looking at his expression, she knew it wasn't going to be good.

"This young lady has made some pretty serious charges, I was wondering if either of you were aware of what might be happening?" he encouraged the girl to tell the two women what she had told him. The teacher was shocked, the principal, dismayed. They looked at each other.

"I had my suspicions, but there were always such good excuses. Falling out of a tree and breaking his arm. Getting into a fight on the schoolgrounds, which had both boys in my office." The principal declared, "but I never had enough to go on. Ms. Smithers, here, is new this year and doesn't know the children very well, yet."

"Well, I did ask him about the black eye last week, but he had a perfectly good explanation for it." She looked at the stern and obviously angry detective. "What do you want us to do?"

"Have the school nurse check him out at least once a week. You need to document what you find. Try to get him to talk." He looked down at the silent little girl beside him. He crouched down to her level. "What's your name?"

"Sally." She smiled shyly at him. He looked so angry and mean, now, but he still talked soft, so she tried not to be afraid of him.

"Sally. I know a lady named Sally. She worked for my father and helped take care of us when I was a kid." He smiled, almost, but his features softened, and his jaw unclenched for a moment. "I'm not mad at you, sweetheart, only at the idea of someone hurting your friend. Even if it is his father." He felt Blair's hand, again on his shoulder, offering support and understanding. "Sally, will you help us?" The little girl nodded, unsure. "Good. I need you to tell Ms. Smithers here whenever you know that Jimmy's been hurt by his dad, OK?" She smiled and nodded enthusiastically. "Good girl. Now," He stood and turned his attention back to the principal, "I need to know some more about Jimmy."

The principal sent Sally and Ms. Smithers back to class, then led Jim and Blair back to her office, where she pulled Jimmy's files and allowed Jim to take notes. There were signs of possible abuse, the broken arm, the extra bruises after the fight with the bully, excessive sick days. Just enough to raise suspicion, but only if you were looking for it. As he read the boy's file, Jim's jaw got tighter and tighter. Blair honestly expected to hear teeth splintering. Instead, Jim developed a headache, along with stiff, tense muscles in his neck.

"Jim, try to relax a little. You're going to give yourself a stroke at this rate." Blair tried, unsuccessfully, to rub his partner's neck. Jim just pushed him away. "Please, Jim. It isn't your fault, man."

"No. It isn't." He raised hurt, angry eyes to his friend. Glancing to make sure they wouldn't be overheard, he explained, "I know as well as you do that abuse runs in families, most abused children grow up to be abusers in their turn, and so on. Each generation becoming worse than the previous one. I...I don't think I should ever have kids."

"Jim. You are not your father. You are not abusive to women or children. The only people you're rough on are the bad guys, man. You'll probably be a great dad." Smiling at the idea.

"I've abused you, Chief." Blair looked at him with wide, startled eyes.

"What? You have never,...well, when we first met, throwing me up against the wall, that, maybe, but that was fear. And I'm an adult."

"You're smaller and weaker than I am, Chief. And I'm not just talking about physically. What about all the times I've, what's that word, 'discounted'? Yeah. Discounted. What about all the times I've discounted what you've said to me, only to have you proven right, time and time again? What about all the times I've put you down? What about..."

"Hold it. Wait a minute here. Two different things, man. How you treat me is, is ..." His brows furrowed down in confusion. "Well, I don't think I've been abused. Put down, sure. Who doesn't get put down. You aren't malicious about it."

"That's just the point, Chief. I do it just the way my father did it to me. Belittling, demanding, forcing my own way. Oh, God. I'm becoming my father. And that's the last thing I ever wanted to be." Squeezing his eyes tightly closed and raising one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose from the growing headache.

"No. You are definitely not your father. You are kind to children and small animals. You go out of your way to feed every stray in the park, it seems. You..."

"But I mistreat the one person closest to me. I mistreat you, Chief. The one I should protect a-a-a-and-and ... I'm sorry, Blair. I take advantage of you. Unfair advantage." He turned away, shocked at the realization. Not able to shake the idea that he was as abusive to his friend as his father had been to him. Shaking his head, he looked down again at the file on Jimmy.

Blair watched the guilt firmly entrenched on his friend's face. He thought about it, their relationship, Jim's need to be in control, his need to ...

"No. You are not like your father. You don't tell me I'm a freak. You don't tell me I'm stupid, or, or different. Well, yeah, you tell me I'm different, but not in a derogatory way. Sure, you discount my ideas some times, but that's a paradigm thing, not because you want to put me down. When you discount my ideas, it's more from, well, because you don't understand my ideas. When I explain them right, you don't have any problems with them. See? You don't put me down or belittle me to hurt me. You mostly do it from not understanding..."

"Does it really make any difference? Either way, I'm hurting you." Jim set down the file and scrubbed his face with both hands. Blair stared at him.

"No." Jim looked at him. "No. Like I said, you're not trying to force me into some ill-fitting mold. You don't do it on purpose, or to hurt. When you do, you immediately back off and apologize. Hey, I hurt you, too. We both know it. It isn't intentional. It isn't manipulative. It's usually just reactionary. I say something, you say something back. You say something, I say something back. We both do it. It's part of being close. It's part of being two very different people living and working together. It's a part of real life, man. We argue, what two people who are close don't? It's OK." He could see that his friend wanted to believe him, so he invaded his space and lay a hand on the larger man's shoulder. "It is OK. The big brother lectures, the-the mothering when I'm hurt or sick. Even the arguments are OK. It helps us define who and what we are. You could never be an abuser. You're too much the protector of the tribe. It's genetic, remember? You would never intentionally harm anyone under your protection. That only excludes bad guys and anyone who tries to hurt anyone you care for. I count myself under your protection, along with most of the city. Understand?"

Jim just looked at him. He wanted to believe.... "How can you be so sure, Blair?"

Blair smiled. "Easy. I've got three years of experience to draw from. No matter what, whether I blow it, or you blow it, or it's out of our control, I know I can count on you. No matter what." He searched his friend's face to see if he was believed. "You save people, Jim. You are not capable of hurting them, except in defense of others. I know. I know you. I know how you think, well, most of the time, anyway. I know how much you want to help people. So, as soon as you get it through your thick skull that you could never abuse anyone, what say we find out how to save Jimmy?"

Jim stared into the sincere blue eyes of his best friend. Finally, "Good idea, Chief. Let's do that."

Jim had called it in. A team from Child Protective Services arrived. They spouted platitudes to Jim and Blair, along with some tired old statistics. Even the principal was dismayed by the attitude of the team. They looked at the file. They asked some questions. They had Sally brought in and frightened her by telling her that she could get into trouble by making false accusations. That was their last mistake. Jim was listening from the next room.

"Blair, call Simon and these jerks' supervisor." Then he walked into the principal's office.

Sally was terrified. The policeman had told her she was doing a good thing. Now these grown-ups were telling her that she was bad, that she was lying. They didn't believe her. Tears were trickling down her cheeks. Ms. Thompson, the principal, looked worried, but she didn't say anything. Then the door opened. Sally jumped and looked; then cringed back further into the chair.

He saw the little girl cringe from him. His gaze softened for a moment as their eyes met, then he turned his attention to the pair from CPS. His eyes narrowed, his jaw muscles spasmed. They looked up at him in surprise.

"How can you call yourselves 'child protectors'?" He growled, advancing on the suddenly nervous CPS team. "Can't you tell the difference between a child who is afraid and one who's lying? Don't you know that children don't usually lie when they're looking for help, particularly for a friend? Don't you have the compassion God gave a snake?" His voice was low and intense. He advanced on the pair of investigators as he spoke, ending by towering over them, well within their personal space.

The one who had been doing the talking had to look up a long way to meet Jim's angry eyes. The man was even shorter than Blair, but without Blair's redeeming characteristics of compassion and intelligence. He swallowed hard and glanced around for an escape route, but they were in a corner of the office, with Jim blocking their egress.

"I was under the impression that your job was to help children, not terrify them." Jim started in again. He didn't acknowledge when Blair slipped into the office, so didn't see the younger man smile at Sally and Ms. Thompson, reassuring the child and easing the principal's discomfort at the jaded attitude of the CPS people.

"If you don't want to help, then you should see about changing jobs. No one needs to have anyone with your attitude around children. I know I frighten them, but it's because of my size and the way I look. My position of authority as a cop. I don't intimidate them intentionally. I don't derive any pleasure from scaring kids. But it seems that you do." He was nearly touching them, intentionally intimidating. So far into their space that they were looking around desperately for help.

Ms. Thompson had circled around them at Blair's instigation, then, Blair motioned for Sally to join them. They quietly left the office, with Jim towering over the frightened pair from Child Protective Services.

"I'd certainly hate to be a criminal with him asking me questions." Ms. Thompson said, once they had escaped her office.

"Yeah, well, he's kind of protective of people he cares about. Which includes all kids." He smiled down at Sally, then knelt down to her level.

"Jim knows that you told the truth, otherwise, he wouldn't have called those people. They're the ones with the problem, not you. You did good. Jim and I will make sure that Jimmy gets the help he needs. I promise." He pulled a handkerchief from his backpack and gently wiped the little girl's tears. She smiled tentatively at him. He responded with one of his heart melting grins, the one that made most women want to take him home and keep him. It worked just as well on little eight-year-old girls. Sally threw her arms around his neck in a nearly suffocating hug, which he gently returned.

"Hey, it's OK. Or, it will be. We'll put a stop to Jimmy's getting hurt, OK?" He pulled away from her a bit, looking into her eyes. "OK?" Sally nodded. Sniffling a little. Finally managing to stop crying.

"Why did they think I lied?" Not understanding the grownups.

"I don't know. Maybe they've seen so many bad things, that they forgot how to care. I'm not sure. But I care, and Jim cares, and so do Ms. Thompson, and Ms. Smithers. We're going to help. I promise." He took his right hand and with his index finger crossed his heart as he said the words.

"OK." She accepted his words. "What's he doing to them?" Curious about the voices she could hear through the closed office door.

"Um, I think he's scolding them."

Ms. Thompson was close to the door, and could make out some of the words being spoken. She smiled. "He's definitely scolding them." She informed them. Stifling a giggle, as well. She moved over to the still kneeling Blair and Sally. "In fact, he's telling them in no uncertain terms that they need to take a refresher course in how to talk to children."

By the time Simon and the CPS supervisor arrived, Blair had Sally and Ms. Thompson laughing at the stories he was telling about his adventures. It had taken nearly an hour for Simon to get the guy from CPS and get them to the school. Jim could still be heard telling them off inside the principal's office.

"What's going on?" The tall captain asked the anthropologist. Smiling down at the little girl, who was staring up at him, slack jawed in awe at his sheer size. He was, after all, even bigger than the man who had promised to help her friend. She inched closer to the long-haired man, feeling safer with him.

"Well, Sally, here, has a friend named Jimmy, and...Tell you what. Sweetheart, would you tell them what you told us? This is Captain Banks, he's Jim's boss. He likes kids. He's got one of his own," Seeing her fear, he added, "He won't hurt you. Promise. He's like Jim, only bigger."

"Darker, too." Came her tentative little voice.

"Well, yeah. But that doesn't matter, does it?"

She shook her head, still staring at the giant. Realizing what most of the problem was, Simon grabbed a chair and sat down, to minimize his intimidating size. The CPS supervisor wisely kept out of the way and simply watched.

Sally told her story again. Blair, having already heard it was impressed with how consistent she was. When she was finished talking about her friend, Jimmy, Blair asked her to tell them about what the two CPS people had said to her. She'd barely started, when the tears started. She saw the big black man get the same expression that the other big man had gotten when he came in and saved her from the mean people.

Simon listened in silence to the eight-year-old. His anger growing with every word. When she finished her narrative, he turned to the CPS woman. Glaring, he asked. "Well? What are you going to do about this?" Furious.

Ms. Miller was quite upset. She'd had no idea that such things could be going on. She was dismayed at how upset the little girl was. "Obviously, I need to discipline some of my people. My deepest apologies to everyone, especially to you, Sally. They were very naughty to be so mean to you."

Blair allowed himself a small smile. Obviously, this woman knew what was truly important. The children. He caught Simon looking at him, a question in his eyes. Blair cocked his head to one side and suddenly realized that something was different. He abruptly realized that he could no longer hear Jim's muffled voice from inside Ms. Thompson's office, when the office door suddenly opened to reveal Jim standing in the doorway, his face still suffused with the blush from his angry lecture. There was also a rather odd odor...

Blair and Simon suddenly looked at each other, surprise and embarrassment on both men's faces at the realization of what they were smelling. Both men looked away, knowing that if they didn't they'd both burst into laughter. Ms. Thompson's brow furrowed at the smell; then, recognizing it, she blushed.

"I'll get some paper towels." She muttered, hurrying from the room, stifling her laughter.

Ms. Miller was frowning up at the embarrassed detective. "What's wrong?" She asked, not understanding.

Jim's flush deepened. "Uh, well. I guess I told them off a little too hard. They've uh, had a little accident..."

"Accident? Did you hit them?" Worried.

"Not exactly. I was talking to them, well, yelling, more like. And I guess I got a little carried away with my rhetoric, and well...Uh, you see..."

Simon leaned close to the CPS woman. "They soiled themselves." He said softly. Refusing to meet anyone's eyes.

Little Sally's nose was wrinkled up. "I smell a dirty diaper." She said out loud, much to the adults chagrin.

Blair choked, covered up his mouth, mumbled an "Excuse me." And rushed outside; although his laughter could be easily distinguished by those he left behind.

"Oh." Was all Ms. Miller could say.

Ms. Miller had gone in to speak to her subordinates, listened to their subdued explanation of what had happened, agreed with the policeman about the pair's attitude, and sent them home, with a promise of further investigation into their behavior to come. Once they were gone, Ms. Miller allowed herself to smile. Then she started to giggle, growing by the minute into a full-blown laugh. She came out and looked at the three men. Blair had returned, once he had regained control, but hearing her laugh, he couldn't keep the grin from his face. Jim was still feeling terminally embarrassed. Simon had it under control, but he couldn't wait to spread the tale back at the office. Sally was simply confused, while Ms. Thompson couldn't help grinning every time she thought about it.

"Now, then." Ms. Miller began. "Sally, tell me about your friend." Finally getting back to what was really important.

Finally, the report was filled out and the real investigation could begin. Child Protective Services agreed with the police that they needed to get Jimmy to talk. It was pretty obvious that in order for their case to stick, they had to get some hard evidence. They set it up with the school authorities to do a regular check on Jimmy's well-being, documenting any bruises or other injuries. Sally promised to let them know whenever she knew Jimmy's father hurt him.

They were lucky. Thanks to Sally, it took them less than two weeks to get the needed evidence. Even more fortunate, was the fact that Jim had given the child one of his cards, 'just in case' she needed him when he wasn't on duty. The call came very late on Saturday night.

"Ellison." He listened. He heard shallow breathing, and a rapid heartbeat, but... Suddenly remembering the little girl he had given his card to. "Sally? Is that you? This is Jim. Remember me from your school? You asked for my help?"

"H-h-h-h-help me." Came a faint, whispery voice. Not Sally...

"Jimmy? Is that you? Sally told me about how you get hurt. Do you need help?" Keeping his voice soft and low, trying to convince the frightened child to talk to him.

"He hit Sally. He was mad at me, and Sally was here, and he hit her, too. Now, she won't wake up." Terror in the boy's voice.

"OK, Jimmy. I need you to tell me where you are. Can you do that?"

"I'm in the cellar. Can you come? Sally won't wake up. There's blood..." Then came a little hiccuping cry that nearly tore the Sentinel's heart out.

"I'm on my way. Look, can you hang up and then call 911 for me? Tell them that Detective Ellison is on his way to help you, but that he needs backup. Can you do that?"

"Yes...Please hurry?"

"We're on our way." Jim promised, then hung up. "Let's go, Chief." They hurried down to Jim's truck. While Jim drove, Blair called their Captain, who arranged to meet them at Jimmy's house.

There were already three patrol cars on the scene when Jim and Blair arrived. They hadn't gone in, as they had been told to wait for the detective. They had arrived without lights or sirens, not wishing to alert anyone. Jim and Blair exited the truck and approached the cruisers.

"Any signs of life?" Jim asked softly.

"No, sir. Not so far. We've just set up a perimeter, and been waiting for your orders." The senior patrolman stated.

"OK. I want you to be ready to come in, but only if absolutely necessary. I'm going to try to find out where the kids are, Jimmy said they were in the cellar, so give me a few minutes to try and find them. Anyone got a radio I can use?""

"Take mine, detective." One of the uniformed officers removed her radio and handed it to him. He passed it on to Blair, who slipped the unit into his jacket pocket and the combination ear piece and microphone over one ear. Nodding his readiness.

"OK. Wait for our signal. Captain Banks should be here before too long, fill him in when he gets here. Beckoning to his partner, they crept around the house, searching for an entrance to the cellar.

Once out of sight of the other officers, they stopped. Blair placed a hand on Jim's back, while the Sentinel closed his eyes and extended his hearing. After a few minutes, he nodded. "This way." Leading his partner around the house to the back, where they found an outside entrance to the cellar. Jim also spotted an open cellar window. He crouched down by the opening and called out.

"Jimmy? It's Detective Ellison. I'm here to help you. Can you come to the door and let me in?" Knowing that he didn't have a warrant, and even with the boy having called 911, not enough probable cause to break in. He could hear the sound of the boy's frightened breathing. "Please, Jimmy. I can't help Sally if you don't let me in." He heard the cautious scuffling of sneakers cautiously creeping across the floor. Then the small, terrified voice.

"You w-w-w-w-won't h-h-h-h-hurt h-h-her, w-w-w-will y-you?" Stuttering in his terror.

"No. We won't hurt Sally, or you. Come on, Jimmy. Sally told me about what your dad did. How he hurts you. She asked me to try and help you. Let us in, Jimmy, so we can help you. Please?" Waiting, hoping. He could see the boy, standing by the steps leading up to the exterior door. See the fear, and the bruises. "Has Sally awakened yet?" He asked. He saw Jimmy look back into the darkness, then, his mind made up, he ran up the steps and opened the cellar door. Jim was right there, Blair at his back.

"Hi, Jimmy." He said softly to the frightened eight-year-old. "This is my friend Blair. Do you remember him from the talk I gave at your school?"

The child nodded, "You said he was your best friend." The boy whispered. Smiling tentatively at the long-haired man.

"Right. Now, I'm going to go and get Sally, and get both of you away from here, so no one can hurt you any more, OK?" Jimmy nodded, reaching out and placing his hand trustingly in Blair's. Jim smiled at the pair, then turned and entered the cellar, allowing his vision and hearing to both open wide to assist him in finding the unconscious Sally. He found her in a corner, behind some boxes, where Jimmy had obviously dragged her unconscious body, trying desperately to hide them both from his abusive father. He gently examined the little girl, finding the bruise on her head from the blow that had rendered her unconscious. He gently felt for any other injuries; sighing in relief to find no broken bones. However, the head wound had to be serious, since she was still comatose. Very gently, he lifted the small body, snuggled her close to his chest, then made his way back across the cellar, up the steps and outside. They quickly made their way back around the house to the rest of the police.

Captain Banks hated cases that involved kids. They were easy victims, and there was rarely a happy ending for them. Particularly in child abuse cases. Simon had wisely summoned an ambulance, which was waiting for them when they got back to the street. Jim gently lay the still and silent Sally down on the gurney.

"She's unconscious. There's a big bump on the back of her head, and her nose was bleeding at some point, but it's stopped, now." He told the paramedics. "I didn't notice any broken bones, but that may not mean very much." He gently brushed her tangled hair from her face, wishing she would open her eyes and let them know that she was going to be all right.

"Jimmy's got some pretty bad bruises, too. Including a split lip and a black eye." Blair announced, softly, bringing the small boy forward to the paramedics.

"It's OK, Jimmy. They'll take care of you. Fix your cuts and stuff." Jim said, crouching beside the child. "Will you tell us what happened? Who hurt Sally?"

"M-m-m-my d-d-d-d-d-daddy. H-h-h-h-he g-g-g-g-g-g-g-got m-m-mad a-a-a-and h-h-he he h-h-hit h-her. P-p-p-p-please. M-m-m-m-make h-her w-w-wake up?"

"They'll take good care of her. Where does Sally live, Jimmy?" Blair asked. Unable to form the words, Jimmy pointed to a house down and across the street. Simon sent one of the uniformed officers to go and notify Sally's parents.

Jim heard something. Jaws torqued down, he rose and turned towards Jimmy's house. A few moments later, they all could hear it. Angry shouting. Threats. Vituperative abuse from what everyone present assumed to be Jimmy's father. The assumption proven by Jimmy's reaction to hearing the words shouted, the way he cringed close to Blair, seeking protection.

John Talbot was furious. That stupid brat had left the basement. He'd told the boy time and again that he was not to leave the house after dark. But would he listen? Oh, no. Not that stupid little wimp. How dare he back-talk him, trying to cover for that little bitch from down the road. How dare he...

He hadn't realized that he was shouting his thought aloud. When he came around the corner of the house into the front yard, he was startled to see an ambulance and several police cars. He looked at them, puzzled. An enormously tall black man approached him.

"John Talbot?"

"Yeah?" Unimpressed by the larger man.

"Father of Jimmy Talbot?"

His eyes narrowed, annoyed. "Yeah?"

"You're under arrest for assault and battery, child endangerment, and anything else we can think up for the abuse of your son and the attack on little Sally Davidson." Simon announced. Talbot was speechless as he found himself surrounded by uniformed officers, all intent on taking him into custody. They weren't prepared for him to resist them. They were all caught flat footed when Talbot abruptly pushed one officer aside and attempted to run. All, that is, but one.

Jim knew he was going to rabbit. He just knew it. He drifted away from the others, giving himself plenty of room to maneuver. When Talbot broke away, he was waiting for him. Talbot saw him and raised a fist to strike at him. Jim deftly turned the blow aside, catching the man's wrist in an Aikido hold, bringing the arm around, down and then up, throwing Talbot off balance; holding on as the man fell, listening to the satisfying sound of bones and joints breaking as Talbot's momentum caused his shoulder to dislocate, and Jim's hold on his wrist to snap several bones in his hand, wrist, and arm, splintering within Jim's grasp. Talbot screamed.

Jim kept hold on the broken limb, following him down, pulling out his handcuffs and snapping them on the whimpering man's wrists, fastening them behind his back. Once his suspect was subdued, he leaned close to his face and whispered so only he could hear.

"When you're in jail, I'm gonna make sure everyone knows that you beat up babies. How's it feel? You broke your son's arm, once, didn't you. You hit him. Well, I couldn't hit you, but think of this every time you think about hurting your son. Think of this when you're in prison for beating up that little girl. Think of it when you're in court being sued for all you're worth by her parents. The only bad thing about all this, is your son is still the big loser. He's going to grow up knowing what an absolute monster you are. I just hope we saved him in time to prevent it happening to his kids." He placed one hand on Talbot's broken arm and used it to lever himself upright. Jaws clenched, wishing he could hurt this piece of pond scum more.

"Jim. Come on, man. He's done. Leave it." Blair's soft voice intercepted his friend's fury. Blinking, the older man looked at his partner, seeing the worry in the dark blue eyes.

Taking a deep breath, holding it a moment and then letting it out, slowly, he smiled. "Sorry, Chief. I'm back. How are the kids?"

"They're taking them to the hospital. The Davidson's are following in one of the patrol units. They're pretty upset. It seams that they suspected what was going on, but were afraid of Talbot. They think he poisoned their dog. It happened right after Jimmy's arm was broken. They accused him of hurting his son. The next day, their dog was poisoned. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that most of the neighborhood was afraid of this guy."

"Good work, Jim. Too bad about his arm. But he shouldn't have run. Everyone was caught off-guard but you. Nice collar, detective." Then he leaned in close and hissed the rest of his message to his best detective. "But don't you ever do that again. You got away with this one. You got lucky. This time." Glaring.

Jim looked into his Captain's eyes. Nodding, "You're right, Sir. I got a little ... overzealous, shall we say?" Waiting for the response.

"And don't you forget it." The larger man growled.


"So, I guess Sally's parents have decided to take in Jimmy. His mom isn't going to be able to take care of him, she's gone back to her family in the Philippines, and won't come back, not even for her son. Talbot's going down, big time. Both Jimmy and Sally are thrilled at the prospect of her parents being his foster-parents. It looks like it's all working out for the best." Simon announced to Jim and Blair. He looked closely at his friends. "This was a tough one for you, Jim. Have you seen the department shrink, like I told you to?"

"Yeah." Jim had remarkably little residual anger toward Talbot. He'd seen the shrink, but he'd gotten much more help from his partner. "I talked to the doctor, but it wasn't much good. I...Well, Sir," he glanced at his Guide. "Blair did a better job, Sir. Convincing me that I'm not anything like my father, that I don't have to worry about certain things that I needed to work through. I'm OK, Simon." He smiled, softly. "Talbot is a blot on humanity. We managed to get him off the street before he did any irreparable damage to his son. The Davidson's are a good family for him to be with. They can help him heal. Even the wounds that can't be seen."

Simon looked at the two men before him. Recognizing that Jim had found a way to heal some of his hidden wounds, as well. He nodded. Satisfied.

"Good. Now, about the Chappell case...."

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