Many thanks to Autumn, Beth and Lisa for saying kind things about the story.
Disclaimer: You know I don't own them. I know I don't own them. No money exchanged hands.
For Hill: Who wanted a sweet 'big brother' Jim snippet.
"Jim, Vera in Records just sent me an e-mail informing me that Sandburg's driver's license has expired. He needs to either update the record or get the darn thing renewed," Simon said as he stopped by Ellison's desk on his way out to yet another meeting with the Mayor.
"I'll remind him, sir."
"Tell the kid that hanging with cops is not going to get him out of a ticket if he gets pulled over," Simon teased, then put a cigar between his teeth and headed for the elevators.
"Hey, Chief, supper's on the table," Jim called out as he headed back to the kitchen island to get the salad.
"Oh, man. What time is it?"
"It wasn't my turn to cook, was it?"
"When did you get home?"
"About forty-five minutes ago. You working on another deadline?"
"Yeah, I'm just putting the final touches on a paper that's due tomorrow."
"After you turn in your paper, do me a favor?"
"Sure, man, anything."
"Get your driver's license renewed. Hell, I shouldn't even be letting you drive, but I've got several interviews I have to do tomorrow, so I'm gonna turn a blind eye. But get it done ASAP, okay?"
"Sure, man," Blair said with a weak smile. Jim frowned slightly, wondering why the kid's heartbeat was speeding up, but before he could pursue it Blair was already launching into lecture mode about his paper.
"So you'll handle the Anderson interview for Brown?" Simon asked, as his detective got up from his chair.
"Consider it done, sir."
"Oh, hey, Jim? I thought you were going to remind Sandburg to get his license renewed?"
"I did. Last Wednesday. He said he was going to do it after turning in one of his papers."
"Well, you and I both know the kid has more fires going than the average bear. Prompt him again, all right? I just don't want to get caught in an audit and explain why our favorite police observer is driving around town without a license."
"No problem, sir. I'll remind him tonight."
"Night. Hey, Chief?"
"You forgot to renew your license last week."
Blair slapped his forehead with the heel of his hand. "Man. I'm sorry."
"Don't worry about it. Just take care of it tomorrow before you come into the station, okay?"
"Okay, first thing, Jim."
"Hey, Jim," Blair called out in greeting, dropping his keys in the basket by the door and walking to his room to drop off his backpack. "Dinner in fifteen, okay? I thought I'd do a little stir fry tonight."
"Sounds good." Jim looked up from his paper. "Did you renew your license today?"
Blair stopped suddenly in front of his curtains. "Damn. I was going to do it. I swear, Jim. I even got down to the DMV, but as I was going in I literally ran into Allison Cook, who I haven't seen in like forever. It turns out she just got back from Sri Lanka. Her irrigation project was chosen by the government to help some of the more remote villages. She's brilliant, man, absolutely brilliant. She's basically back here to put the finishing touches on her thesis and defend it. Rainier is trying to snatch her up and make her a full-time professor, which would be cool, but she thinks she might go back out in the field. She's got several major corporations after her to start similar projects in other parts of the world and--"
"Whoa, Darwin. You can tell me the rest over dinner. Just try not to get distracted tomorrow, okay?"
Simon sat on the corner of Jim's desk. "So what's going on with the kid, Jim?"
"Going on? What do you mean, sir?"
"Look, I'm not trying to be a hard ass here, but just how long does it take for the kid to renew his license? Homicide had a paper audit last week and I just have this bad feeling we're going to be next."
"Are you saying he still doesn't have it?"
"It's been three weeks, Jim. Observer passes are only supposed to be good for ninety days. The kid's been riding with you for five months now. I just don't want life to be more complicated than it needs to be. All of his paperwork should be in perfect condition. You get my drift?"
"Of course, sir."
Simon stood up. "When's the kid coming in today?"
"He should be here any moment."
"Tell you what, why don't you both take a long lunch and get it done today."
"You got it, sir."
Blair practically bounced into the truck cab. "We should check out that Greek place over on Foster. Marcia in Vice said it's the best in town."
"Oh, she did, did she?" Jim teased, while sliding in behind the wheel.
"Well, she is half Greek after all. Who would know better?"
"Sure. Greek sounds great. But we have an errand to run on the way."
"We need to get your driver's license renewed. Simon's really breathing down my neck about it."
"I'm sorry, Jim. I really meant to do it. Look, I can always do it this afternoon. No need to cut your lunch short."
"Nothing doing. Simon told us to take a long lunch."
Jim couldn't help but notice the sudden stillness in his friend, but couldn't bring himself to ask why renewing his license was turning into such a traumatic event.
He pulled into parking lot and Blair all but leapt from the vehicle. "It'll probably take me an hour, man. I can't even imagine what the crowd's going to be like over lunch."
"Don't stress out, Junior. We have all the time in the world."
"You sure you don't want to run over to the restaurant and pick us up something to eat? That way we won't be straining Simon's good graces."
"Just get in there and get the damn license, Sandburg."
Blair lifted his hands in a warding gesture, then turned and walked slowly into the DMV.
Jim tracked the observer's movements through the various lines. As Blair neared the officers in charge of licenses, he heard the kid's heart speed up. Jim got out of the truck. Just what in the hell was going on and why did Sandburg sound as if he were about ready to have a stroke?
"Blair J. Sandburg."
"5'8. Oh, all right. 5'7." Happy now?"
"Yes, sir. I need your address."
"Well, you see, that's a little complicated. I was living in this warehouse downtown, but it blew up a couple of months ago. I've been staying with a friend until I get on my feet, but--"
"852 Prospect, Apartment 307."
"Jim, what are you doing here?"
The detective shrugged. "I started getting hungry and thought I could speed up the process a bit."
"852 Prospect, #307," the officer behind the counter repeated.
"Jim. If I give them your address then people, official people, will always go there to look for me."
"Yeah, what's your point?"
Jim sighed in exasperation. "Come on, Sandburg, you're holding up the line."
"Is that the correct address, sir?" the seated officer asked.
Blair simply nodded, never taking his eyes off Jim.
"I'll be out in the truck. Go get your picture taken and let's get a move on. My stomach's starting to mambo in protest."
Jim put the final touches on his report, then looked over at his partner. "Did you make sure that Vera got a copy of your license?"
Blair nodded. "She cornered me in the hallway about an hour ago."
"Good. Let me give this to Simon so we can head home. Isn't it your turn to cook tonight?"
"Nope. I cooked last night."
"I don't think so," Jim said, standing, report in hand.
"Well, it's not really a meal without meat, Chief."
"I am so not buying into that argument, my man."
Jim grinned brilliantly at him, shrugging his shoulders as if saying he had to at least give it a try. "Back in a sec."
Blair watched as his partner disappeared into the captain's office, before he pulled his license out of his wallet and ran a finger over the address under the plastic veneer. Home. It had a nice ring to it.
Back to The Loft