It's all Angie's fault, you know. I've seen the video for 'Hello Again, It's Me, Margaret'. And there was that guy at the Corps... sigh. Musae are fickle creatures. I was working on sending the boys to a Ren-Faire, but that's going to have to wait for a bit while I write this, instead. Oh, well. I now have two huge black panthers, although, I don't think the manufacturers have any idea about the difference between a leopard and a jaguar. Most of the stuffies are more jaguar-like than leopard. Leopards are a smaller, lighter boned, narrower face than the Jaguars. So... Now, if I can only find space on my bed for me. Now, where to find some nice wolves...
As always, the disclaimers are still in force. I'm using the copyrighted characters created by others, who have, thus far, been very kind and not sued me over their use. I'm grateful and promise to give them any money I make from this (and since I don't make any money from this, it's not hard to do, at all). Again, thanks to Wolfpup for giving me and all these ramblings a home on the web. I wonder if I can keep it up, one story a week...
Hello, It's Me, Blair
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"Who is this?"
Jim looked up from his paper, "What was that all about, Chief?"
"Some stupid, anencephalic... idiot. They just sat there and breathed. I could hear them, but they wouldn't say anything." Blair continued his tirade, muttering softly under his breath.
Jim grinned and turned the page, "Well, who'd you piss off enough to make them make an obscene phone call?"
"It wasn't obscene, Jim. It was annoying, a nuisance... hey, isn't there some law against making nuisance calls?"
"Only if you can actually catch them, Chief," Jim's bland reply didn't help matters any, particularly not with the hint of amusement in his tone.
"Gee, I'm so glad you're concerned."
"So, next time, I'll answer the phone."
"You do that, man."
"Hi, is Blair there?" the voice was warm and sultry, very feminine.
"Sure, just a minute." He covered the mouthpiece and called out, "Sandburg, phone."
"Who is it?" Blair came into the living room from the kitchen, where he'd been washing the dishes.
"Woman, sexy voice." He handed the phone over and returned his attention to the television.
"This is Blair Sandburg."
"Who are you and why are you doing this to me?"
"I don't believe this. Man, this sucks."
"She didn't say anything?"
"No. Just breathing." Blair's scowl warned his roommate to back off on the snide comments.
"Sorry, Chief. It was a woman's voice, low, sultry, sexy as hell," he shrugged, "That's all I can tell you about her."
"It's not your fault, Jim. I just wonder who it is and why she'd doing this to me."
"I don't have any answers either, Chief."
"Why the hell are you doing this, lady? What'd we ever do to you?"
"Go back to sleep, Sandburg. It was your 'friend' again."
"Not as sorry as she's going to be if I ever catch her."
"What time was it when she called last night, Jim?"
"Ouch. Did you get back to sleep okay?"
"Yeah. Just set me up for a pissy mood is all." He rubbed at his temples, unable to prevent the indicators that he definitely had developed a headache from the annoying calls.
"I'm sorry, man. I wish I knew who was doing this, and why."
"Yeah, well, me, too." Jim smiled through his pain, indicating that he ascribed no blame to his friend.
"Come on, Chief. Let's get this show on the road."
"Major Crime, Detective Sandburg."
"Who is this?"
"Why are you doing this?"
"What did I ever do to you?"
~click~ ~slam! Ching!~
Jim looked up from his desk, next to his partner. "So, whoever it is has both our home and office numbers, huh?"
"Yeah." There was bitterness in the answer, as well as the confusion brought on from wondering who and why.
"Hold on a minute." Jim lifted his phone and made a call. He spoke briefly and then hung up.
"Sorry, Chief. The call came in on a cell. I alerted them that we need to keep a trace on all your calls, just in case we manage to get a number on your little friend."
"Thanks, Jim. I sure wish I knew who it was and why they were doing this."
"Yeah. At least they aren't stalking you, yet."
"Yet? Gee, that's comforting."
Jim looked at his friend, his expression serious, all levity and joking gone. "Be careful, Blair. Until we find out who is doing this and why, be very careful, please?"
Blair looked at his partner, really looked. Behind the levity, beneath the seriousness, was deep, abiding concern... for him. "I'll be careful, you be careful, too. She might decide that you're fair game, too."
"I will. I'm also going to set up a tap on our phones, Chief. Just in case there's something to pick up when she calls."
"Fine by me, man."
~ring~ Jim and Blair looked at each other. They were in the middle of dinner and Jim motioned Blair to stay put. "Let the machine answer it, Chief. If it's important, then we'll get it."
~ring~ Both men had to fight to stay put and not get up to answer it.
~ring~ ~click~ "Hi, we're not here to answer the..."~click~
"Must have been her." Blair muttered.
They returned to their dinner, but both men had lost some of their appetite.
"Oh, it's you. What do you want?"
"Yeah, well, I'm sorry, it just doesn't do anything for me."
"Yeah. Heavy breathing, this time. Did you get it on tape?"
"Yep. Let me play it back and listen for anything that might be helpful."
They listened to it three times and learned absolutely nothing. Even Jim's enhanced hearing was unable to pick up anything in the background. Disappointed, they changed tapes and set it back up to record, again.
"I know where you live."
"One of these nights, when you're alone, I'm going to come over there and I'm going to..." Blair blinked and sat up, shocked at the words coming out of the woman's mouth. At least, he thought it was a woman. The voice was only a whisper, but still... The threats, which could have been really nice promises under other circumstances, were chilling. Not that he didn't like some of her ideas, but not from someone who refused to identify themselves and chose such miserable times to call.
"That's nice. Should I have Jim set up a video camera so you can have a tape of it, afterwards?" Disgusted, he hung up on her.
"Yes. It was her. She actually said something this time."
"Um, yeah. Rather descriptive promises of what she plans on doing to me. Could be interesting... with anyone else." The last was muttered, nearly too soft for the Sentinel to hear from his bed, upstairs.
"It'll wait until morning, Chief. Go to sleep."
"I'll try." Some of the things she'd suggested, though...
"I still can't pick up anything in the background. It's impossibly quiet. No electrical hums, no clocks ticking, no televisions. Nothing. It's strange."
"No traffic noises, either?" Blair was surprised.
"No. Nothing. Not a television or radio. Not even a refrigerator. No birds, not even any bugs. Absolute silence."
"That's not natural."
They looked at each other.
"No, it isn't."
"Major Crime, Blair Sandburg."
"Hello, Blair. It's me. Did you think about what I said?" There was something sinister about the voice. Not in the sense that she was threatening, but merely the act of making the phone calls, the mystery of it, the unvoiced threat that she knew where he was and how to reach him at all hours of the day and night.
"Not really. No." He tried to sound uncaring, as though he was only half-listening to her, like he was busy doing something else.
"You should. I'm very good at..." She launched into her description of what she intended to do to him.
Blushing furiously, Blair looked around to see who was nearby. Spotting his partner coming back from the men's room, he frantically waved. Jim hurried to his desk and grabbed his own phone and made his call.
"You're sure? OK, I'll check it out. No, that's fine. Thanks, Denise. I owe you one." He paused, then chuckled, "All right. I'll tell him that he owes you one. Thank you. Yeah, I'll see you later." Grinning in triumph, he waved a post-it note at his partner.
"Look, as fascinating as all this is, I have work to do, so, if you don't mind..." He blinked at the invective coming from the phone and quietly hung up, not caring to hear it.
"She got a little annoyed when I told her I needed to work." He looked up at his partner's grinning face, "So, I guess you got a trace?"
"Do you have a name?"
"Yep." His expression and tone of voice were gleeful.
"You going to tell me who it is and why she's doing this?"
"I can tell you who, but I have no idea why."
"So, who is it?"
"I need to talk to Simon, first, Chief. I have a few ideas for catching her in the act. Oh, and I now know why there was no noise in the background."
"Hey! Tell me, will you?"
"Not just yet, Chief." Seeing his partner's expression, "There are valid reasons, Blair. This could be tricky and I'd rather you not be able to give it away to her before we're ready to nail her, okay?" There was a plea in his voice, one that promised explanations as soon as he could.
"I hate this."
"I know. Just trust me on this, please, Blair?"
Blair. Jim had called him Blair... twice. Raising eyes that showed the absolute trust he had for his best friend and partner, he nodded, "OK, Jim. I'll let you handle it. Promise that you'll explain it when you can?"
"I promise, Chief." Jim patted his partner's shoulder and turned to make his way to the captain's office.
Fifteen minutes later, Blair was instructed to put a forward on all his calls to his cell phone. Then, Jim, Simon, Blair, and Joel headed out.
"Jim? Can't you tell me, yet?"
"I hate this."
"I know. At least you'll be there when she next calls."
"What makes you so sure she'll call again so soon?"
"You told her you were busy and not to bother you. She's going to stew for a while, and then call you back. Only now, I doubt if she'll be making pretty promises."
Blair paled. "You think she's going to become more threatening?"
While Simon drove his car, leading the way with Jim right behind him and a couple of patrol cars behind them, Joel was on his cell phone, talking first to the DA's office, and then to the head of security at Rainier University. After the second call, he looked at his friend and smiled, rather grimly.
"Seems that they have to sign in when they work late at night. She's signed in each time they've gotten a call after hours."
"Good. Are they keeping an eye on her until we can get there and set up?"
"Yes. They aren't too happy with what's going on. Ms Tomaki has called the Board of Regents, too. They were scheduled to have a meeting this afternoon and most of them are already on campus."
"Well, that makes things easier, doesn't it?" Simon smiled, and Joel's grin matched his in grim satisfaction.
"Jim? What are we doing here?" Blair asked, concerned when he saw where they were going, he still felt badly about what had happened, how and why he'd been expelled from the university.
"Um, is it okay if I just stay in the truck?" He really didn't want, even accidentally, to confront any of the many people he'd disappointed and angered over the mess that had been his dissertation.
"Not this time, Chief. It'll be all right," Jim said, soothingly. "You'll see." They pulled up and parked next to Simon and Joel, with the two patrol cars parking nearby, hemming in another car.
"Let's go, Chief."
They met up with the campus security and two of the members of the Board of Regents. Two older gentlemen who obviously knew who Blair was and didn't seem too upset with him, much to his surprise. Instead, their expressions seemed to be more of smug satisfaction than censure. Blair simply couldn't figure it out.
"Got your cell hooked up to the recorder, Chief?"
"Yeah, Joel set it up for me."
"Good. Now, we wait."
They had to wait nearly two hours, but, finally, the phone rang. Everyone jumped at the sound. Blair, glancing uncertainly at the rather large group, answered the phone on the second ring. "This is Blair Sandburg."
"I'm not very happy with you, you know."
"So? I don't particularly care whether you're happy or not. Who are you and why are you doing this?"
"I'm doing it because it's fun and I can. Is that a good enough reason?"
"What, are you saying you don't like the idea of my..."
It had been bad, before. The salacious and lewd things she had said. It had been worse when Jim had listened to the tapes, trying to hear anything in the background that might be of help in finding out who this was; but it was the absolute worst to have Simon and Joel, Ms. Tomaki, four uniformed patrolmen and, worst of all, two members of the Board of Regents, listening in.
At Simon's nod, they left the small office in the main administration building and went just down the hall. With Simon in the lead, they marched through the outer office and, ignoring the protests of the secretary, marched right into the Chancellor's office.
Blair, still carrying his cell phone and the tape recorder, froze in shock. The chancellor looked up at their entrance and froze in place. Looking rather like the coyote caught in the henhouse.
Simon broke the rather pregnant silence.
"Ms Edwards, you are under arrest for malicious mischief and making threats against a police officer. You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you so desire and cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you at the state's expense. You have the right to have an attorney present before and during any and all questioning. Do you understand these rights as I have explained them to you?"
"Yes," whispered, in shock.
"Do you wish to have an attorney?"
Glancing at the two members of the Board of Regents, she sagged, "I think that I'd better."
"Do you give up the right to remain silent?"
"No. I'd better not."
"Gentlemen," Simon turned to the four uniformed officers, "Please escort Ms Edwards to the station and book her."
Without a single word, the officers approached and handcuffed their prisoner's hands behind her back. Silently, they started to lead her from the room.
"This is all your fault, you know." She spat at Blair as she passed his still stunned form. One of the Regents held up a hand, forestalling her escort for him to speak.
"Ms Edwards, when the police approached us with their suspicions, the board was appalled. We doubted their facts and suppositions. However, we agreed to their little test. I..." he glanced at the other board member, who nodded, "And the entire board are appalled by your actions. This makes the third time in less than a year that you have dragged this fine institution's name through the mud..."
"ME! It's all Sandburg's fault! He..."
"From what I recall," the second board member spoke, "He called to task a student who was cheating. Yet you defended that student over Mr. Sandburg and fired him. As I recall, the student, Mr. Ventriss, wasn't it? Had murdered a man as well as cheating. Still, you preferred his statements over Mr. Sandburg's. Am I correct?"
Her head came up, surprised at his statement, "Yes, I made a mistake on Mr. Ventriss, but Mr. Sandburg falsified his thesis!"
"Oh, I know he denied it to the media. But any researcher worth his salt would have done the same. Yet, you seemed rather chummy with that Sid Grauman person. As I recall, didn't Mr. Sandburg try to stop him from making his unfinished manuscript public?"
"Well, yes, but..."
"And wasn't that what any good researcher would have done, to protect his subject?"
"But he denied..."
"Of course he did!" The older board member broke in. "I'd have been horrified if he had done anything else! Good Heavens, woman! Where are your ethics? Your sense of propriety? To take up the cause of a murderer and cheat and then join in a media circus over a student's unfinished work? How dare you, madam?" He sputtered in his rage.
The other board member nodded and continued, "And then, on top of firing him and expelling him from the Doctoral program, you make obscene phone calls? Really!" He looked at his colleague, who nodded, "I think that the board needs to do some serious research into this whole affair." He turned to a still stunned and silent Sandburg, who stood with his cell phone still on and his mouth hanging open.
"Mr. Sandburg, please accept our apologies on behalf of the university. I assure you that we'll take another look at the facts and I've a feeling that you may be very pleased with the results. Dr. Stoddard spoke very highly of you and your honesty. I'm very sorry for what has happened and I vow that we will strive to make amends for everything you have been forced to endure due to the negligence and personal animosity of anyone here at Rainier."
"Th-thank you, Dr. Warner, Dr. Chambers. But, uh, I sort of have a new job, a new career, now. I don't see that..."
"He's overwhelmed by your understanding and generosity," Jim interrupted, with a firm hand on his partner's shoulder, silencing him. "However, he may wish to change the nature of his thesis, after all this uproar." There was a hint of warning in his tone.
"Oh! Oh, of course. That is very kind of you, Mr. Sandburg. That would definitely keep the university from being made a laughing stock of, again. That would be wonderful." Dr. Chambers was practically gushing, seeing the lifeline that Jim had thrown them, a means out from behind the notoriety and bad publicity. "Perhaps we can call his previous work a... perhaps a book of fiction? Which when mistaken for his thesis brought down all the brouhaha. Excellent idea, Detective!"
"Uh," Blair started.
"Chief? You do have that thesis, still. Don't you?"
Blair stared up into his Sentinel's eyes. Yeah, it was a way out. One that would regain him a modicum of his lost reputation, at the least. One that would enable him to go back to teaching, as well. If he so desired. "I'm still not ready to leave the roller-coaster for the merry-go-round, Jim," he whispered, faintly enough that only his partner could hear.
"I know, Chief. But that's okay. I think you need this... that we need this. It's as much for me as it is for you, Blair," he hated to admit it, but it was true. The idea of putting to rest once and for all, the Sentinel thesis in favor of the Closed Societies thesis that Blair had used as his explanation from the beginning... It wasn't three million dollars or a Nobel Prize, but it was the best that had been offered. One that could put closure to a great deal of pain and fear. A solution that might even satisfy his friend's original hopes and dreams of those three magic letters after his name.
Blair smiled. "Yeah. I still have my notes and stuff." He looked at the two board members, "I'd like that, gentlemen. Thank you."
Relief flooding the two doctors' worried brows, they smiled and insisted on shaking Blair's hand, promising to get back to him within a month with the board's decision.
Simon nodded to the uniformed officers, who continued their way out, escorting their now- silent prisoner, who shook her head in dismay and refused to meet anyone else's eyes.
The board members left, with alacrity, as soon as the now-former chancellor had been removed.
"Thanks, Suzanne." Jim told the head of campus security.
"Hey, you're welcome, Jim. I'm glad we could be of help. Congratulations, Blair."
"Thanks, Suzanne." Blair was still in shock over all that had happened.
"Well, gentlemen," Simon began, rubbing his hands in satisfaction, "It's after two o'clock and I haven't had lunch yet. Where should we go? I'm in the mood for a nice, big steak."
"You offering to buy, Simon?" Joel asked, teasing.
"No. Only to drive."
"Well," Blair began. He hid it well, but he was even more strapped for cash than he had been as a student. He was paying back his student loans and if it weren't for Jim buying most of the groceries, he wouldn't even have gas money...
Joel and Simon exchanged glances, seeing Jim's jaw tighten with the knowledge of what Blair was trying to hide. Of course they knew, but hadn't said anything, knowing that to do so would have wounded Blair's pride. It was bad enough that everything had happened as it had, still...
"Tell you what, since Simon and I make so much more than you guys, we'll buy." Joel said, catching Simon's small nod and smile of agreement.
"No, you don't have to do that..."
"Sandburg, shut up and let us buy lunch. You know damned well that it doesn't happen very often," Simon growled, his gruffness only accentuating how he felt.
"Come on, Blair. This is a celebration. Of course, now you may actually have to write that cover thesis, instead of your real one..."
"That's okay, Jim. I really do have all the documentation I need for the closed society thing. I just..."
"Never expected to be able to use it?" Jim asked, softly, sorrowfully.
"No. I guess I didn't." He bounced. His long missed enthusiasm for life slipping back into focus. His smile widened and his eyes sparkled.
"Hey, we didn't really do anything but track down and arrest an obscene phone caller." At Simon's words, they all froze for a moment, then simultaneously burst into laughter.
"Oh, man. I love it. This is great." Blair chortled as the four laughing men wended their way back out to their vehicles.
"Come on, Sandburg. Let's go get us some lunch." Simon laughed, clapping the smaller man heartily on the shoulder.
"This turned into a pretty good day for you, didn't it, Blair?" Joel added, his smile warming his features.
"Oh, yeah." He smiled, the laughter having died down shortly after they sat down to lunch. "This has definitely turned into one of the good ones." He made eye contact with his Sentinel, his warm, expressive eyes adding that it was definitely second to having met his 'holy grail'. Jim smiled warmly in return.
All four checked their cell phones, Blair opened his.
"It's me, again, Blair..."
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