Thanks for the fast Beta by Elizbrook

This takes place early in the first season, after Siege.

PG for language


JUST ONE OF THE GANG



Crowswork






"You shouldn't have done it." Simon paced the length of the Major Crime bullpen. "My God! It would be bad enough for civilians -- stupid teenaged civilian frat boys -- but you people are supposed to be police officers."

"Cap'n. I know it's no excuse but we were sorta drunk." Rafe offered.

"And the kid wanted so much to be a part of things... cop stuff, he called it." Henri finished. "It was just a goof."

"Oh, you guys goofed all right. You all..." The tall captain glared at the half dozen officers that stood cringing before him. "You all will be lucky if the kid doesn't press charges or file lawsuits against the lot of you."

"Oh man." Henri whined.

"Not to mention what Ellison is going to do to you."

"Oh shit!" Rafe's groan was the least profane of the group's mutterings.


One day earlier:

Blair was amazed at how friendly the Major Crime detectives were being to him. The guys were treating him like one of the gang. It's because I was with them during the siege of the station by the Sunrise Patriots. We bonded under dangerous conditions.

Careful Sandburg, he reminded himself silently. You are in danger of 'going native' and losing your objectivity. But it was a beautiful day and he'd been invited to a cookout by several of the detectives. The rolling, wooded foothills at the foot of the mountains were gorgeous, sunny and more importantly, dry. Rhonda made the most delicious fried chicken and potato salad. Henri's 'one thing I can cook' turned out to be a chocolate cake with cheese-cake filling baked inside. Blair had brought his homemade salsa and freshly toasted blue corn chips.

The only thing missing was Jim, who had to testify all morning. Rafe and Henri and Blair had caught a ride with Rhonda and her husband, in their SUV. Four of the other detectives -- two with their wives -- arrived together with a huge cooler filled with assorted meat products, beer and sodas.

Before he could say hello a beer was pressed into Blair's hand. "Drink up, Buddy." Sean Wilson, who usually worked the second shift in Major Crime, slapped his wife on the bottom and laughed. "Get me some food, Woman."

"You'll get my foot up your butt if you call me woman again." Patty Wilson shook her head, flipped her long red curls over her shoulder and leaned close to Rhonda. "Looks like we're driving them home tonight."

"We're just sharing a few beers with our buddies." Sean threw his left arm over Henri's shoulders and his right over Blair's. Blair didn't even mind when Sean's cold beer sloshed down his neck. "Right, Blair?"

"Right Sean." Blair's smile got even bigger. God. I am so pathetic, he thought. I'm like the nerd who gets invited to the football team's kegger. "Just a few beers between Buddies."


"Hey, Blair? Is this a real arrowhead?" Sean's partner, Clete Russell held out his hand.

"It looks real." Blair peered at the black piece of flint. "Cool. Where'd you find it?"

"Past those trees over there." Sean joined in. "Come on, guys. I'll show ya."

Blair joined Henri, Rafe and Detective Carver as the men lead them into the trees. The trail was twisting and got a bit steep as they went along. Blair was beginning to wish he hadn't had that last beer. Okay, those last three beers. The sky was beginning to cloud up and the temperature began to drop.

Henri had gone ahead and the others trailed behind him into a small clearing. What he saw there made Blair sober up fast. A tall blond man had Henri from behind, with a huge, wicked looking knife at his throat.

Blair looked at the others, waiting for them to do something... anything... about the situation.

"You pigs brought down my commanding officer." The blond man drawled as he stared wild-eyed at the men. "General Kincade is a great man. A true patriot. And you pigs locked him up."

Blair stepped back, slightly behind Rafe and Carver. He wasn't afraid... really... it was just that he wanted to be out of the line of fire when the detectives sprang into action. All the while he kept silently chanting, I wish Jim was here. I wish Jim was here.

The detectives weren't springing.

They were talking... and not very effectively either. The big, knife wielding psycho was rambling and poor Henri was trying to stay calm as he said soothingly. "Hey, man. I have a breifcase in my car... it has files in it that could help get Kincade out of stir."

If that was Henri's notion of a good lie -- it needed a lot of work. I wish Jim was here. I wish....

Suddenly the big blond man's eyes fell on Blair. "I know you. You're that long-haired hippy that helped bring down a great American hero."

"Who? Me?" Blair's ability to obfuscate abandoned him.

"You're worse than the cops. Probably a HoMoSexUal!" The man's eye began to twitch alarmingly. "Step forward, Pretty Boy."

"I wish Jim was here. I wish Jim was here." Now Blair was saying it under his breath.

"Take off your clothes."

"What?" This was so, not good.

"I want to see you in your boxers and sneakers in one minute or the cop dies."

Blair glanced up at the detectives -- the big, tall, well trained and supposed to be armed detectives -- and was appalled that they were just standing there like lumps. "Son of a bitch!" His curse was muffled by the tee shirt. "Why the hell couldn't Jim be here."

"Now, I want you to run and fetch me that briefcase, boy. Be back here in five minutes or the cop bleeds."

"This has gone far enough." Rafe sounded strangely calm for someone with his partner being held at knife point.

Blair wheeled an ran into the woods. The path was too winding and he'd never make it down and back in time. So he chose the more direct path. Straight down the steep wooded hill. He heard Henri shout something, but he was already too far away to hear.

"Why couldn't Jim be here... Why couldn't Jim be here... Why couldn't Jim be here..." After a few steps his momentum was such that he couldn't have stopped if he wanted to. Briars and branches slashed at him like whips as he scrambled downward. The way had grown less steep when a low vine snagged his foot and sent him tumbling. Rough bark and a massive tree trunk stopped his fall, sending a stab of pain through his bare chest. "Ohshitohshitohshit!"

Biting back a moan of pain, Blair made it to his feet and kept running. In the clearing he was greeted by feminine voices as Rhonda and the other women followed him to the cars.

"Blair? What on earth happened to you?" Rhonda watched as he tried to open the door to Henri's car.

He wanted to tell them to call the cops. To get in one of the cars and leave. To help him find the briefcase that Henri was talking about. But he couldn't talk and breathe at the same time.

"Sandburg!" Rafe came charging down the trail. "Stop."

"It was just a joke." Henri arrived -- with the Domestic Terrorist -- and the other detectives close behind. "Oh, Hairboy...oh man!"

Cold rage warred with disappointment for a moment in Blair's mind. A joke. Stupid practical joke -- hazing -- initiation ceremony. The same imbecilic, macho crap that dated back to the cave dwellers. What he did next would decide his future with these men.

So he laughed. "You rotten mother...." Because of the company, he hesitated getting too profane before he realized the women were now zeroed in on the detectives.

Rhonda grabbed the knife wielding maniac, who towered over her. "Danny, what the hell are you doing here?"

"Aww, Sis." Danny flushed crimson. The young man proceeded to give Rhonda a full -- if brief -- account of their joke. "It was just a prank."

"Prank!" It was Patty Wilson's turn to attack. "You assholes! Look at him."

"I'm real sorry, Kid." Sean Wilson shuffled forward. "Here. I grabbed your clothes."

When Blair almost passed out putting on his jeans, Rhonda and Patty Wilson stuffed him into Rhonda's car and drove him to the hospital.

Becky Carver -- a tiny, fragile looking woman -- just glared at the men for a moment before she got in the family car and left, too.

That left Sean's car for the detectives. Danny (who wasn't a terrorist but was sober) volunteered to be the designated driver, but unfortunately the car's keys were in Patty's purse -- with Patty -- on the way to Cascade General.

Rafe sat on one of the picnic tables as a slight drizzle began to fall. Henri fished two sodas out of the abandoned cooler, handed his partner one, then sat down beside him. "Anyone have a cell phone?"

Most of the men were wearing shorts and tee-shirts. Danny had his cell phone but the mountains were blocking it's signal. "Surely Rhonda or your wives will realize they left us stranded."

"Probably."

"And they'll come get us?" Rafe asked skeptically.

"Don't count on it." Sean took out his pocket knife and made an impromptu poncho out of a plastic tablecloth. "Unless one of you can pick your way into my car and hotwire it, we better start walking." He threw the jumbo package of disposable, red checkered cloths toward the others.

"Grab the other side of this cooler, Wilson." Clete Russell growled. "It's brand new and I'm not leaving it here."

It was an abashed and silent -- if colorfully garbed -- group that trudged it's way toward Cascade in the rain.


One day later:

"I still don't know what you were thinking?" Jim could hear the anger in Simon's voice.

"They weren't." Ellison paced into the bullpen and joined the discussion he'd been listening to since he'd entered the building. "They weren't thinking at all."

"Oh, cool it Jim." Blair Sandburg, with his arm in a sling, caught up and rolled his eyes at his friend. "It was a dumb joke. A rite of initiation. I caught on early -- you guys aren't exactly master thespians you know -- and I just wanted to turn the tables on you."

"We tried to catch you." Henri still looked mortified. "If you'd taken the path we'd have caught you in time."

"I wanted to beat you down to the picnic area." Blair grinned and winced as it pulled at the stitch in his lower lip. "I was planning on you finding me, half naked, surrounded by your wives as they hand fed me grapes. To bad I was such a klutz and fell, instead."

"I thought you, at least, were smarter than that, Sandburg." Now, Blair was included in Simon's wrathful glare. "Pranks are childish and have no place in law enforcement."

"Sorry Simon... err... Captain Banks."

"You feeling up to looking at my computer?" Simon looked down at the battered young man and quirked a corner of his mouth. "That program you gave me won't open and I need some of those files today."

"Sure Simon." Blair followed him into his office. "You know I once studied headhunters who -- as a rite of manhood -- would take a sharp stick and pierce each others testicles."

"Hush, Sandburg." Simon slammed the office door.

"The Kid's a pretty good liar." Jim waited until the door closed before speaking, in a very quiet, very cold voice. "But I'm not buying it. Rhonda told me what you did."

"Oh man, Ellison." Henri didn't look up.

"You guys ever have a broken collar bone? The ends of the bone grind together with every move you make. Sandburg ran over rough terrain with a broken collar bone because he thought you needed help."

"We'll tell Simon the truth." Rafe offered.

"Simon knows." Jim gave them the Full-Ellison -- half-lidded cobra eyes and a voice so cold it burned.

"Shit." Sean Wilson seemed to shrink. "We'll make it up to him. He can ride with us if he wants to. Work on cases... whatever."

"Now listen up." Jim ignored the offers. "The kid thinks he's got us all fooled... and he's going to keep thinking that. You are going to treat him like one of the guys and make sure that everyone knows he 'stood up' for you."

"Sure." Carver smiled slightly. "J'think he would talk to Becky for me? She is so PO'd."

"Sandburg..." Henri caught Jim's eye and nodded. "Hairboy... is a stand up guy. No one better ever say any different around me."

"This proves it. He's one of the gang." Wilson added.

"He proved that when he took on Garrett Kinkaid's pack of goons empty handed." Jim wasn't done playing the guilt card yet. "He kept his head and helped save cops lives that day."

"You're right."

"He didn't deserve us treating him like a punk kid."

"He's got more guts than brains."

"And he's pretty smart."

"Okay, more guts than hair."

Jim listened to the overlapping voices praising Blair. He started to speak but was interrupted by the return of his partner.

"...no really Simon. They just grab them and..." With his left arm, Blair made a sweeping, stabbing motion that threatened to throw him off balance.

"Whoa, Chief!" Jim reached for him but was pushed aside as the others rushed forward to offer support. Simon watched from his office for a moment, then closed the door.

"Watch yourself Hairboy. You wanna fall down and break the rest of your bones."

"Easy, Sandburg. Don't hurt yourself." Rafe gently straightened Blair's sling. "Wilson and Carver are depending on you to save their marriages."

"Thanks guys." Blair looked around uncomfortably at the six men all of whom were touching him in some way. "I... I'm cool."

"Come on, Chief." Jim fought back a smile and maintained his grim visage. "You said you needed to stop by your office."

"Sure." Blair looked around at the men, struck by their odd posture and expressions. "So... I'll see you guys. And... ahh... thanks for paying the hospital bill. You didn't have to."

"Sure we did."

"Bye Blair."

"Watch yourself, Hairboy."

"Becky would like you to come over sometime... for dinner."

"I was wondering if you'd like to have that arrowhead?" Silence fell and everyone, but Blair, turned and glowered at an abashed Clete Russell. "Oh."

Jim steered Blair toward the elevator as the others followed with offers of Jag tickets, free meals and car repair.

As soon as the elevator doors closed, Blair rounded on Jim. "What did you do to them?"

"I didn't do anything." Jim looked up at the lighted display over the doors. "I guess they figure you're part of the gang now."

"You didn't give them that creepy, 'I can kill you with my pinkie' look of yours." Blair pinned him with a deadly glare of his own. "You've got to watch that shit. You scare people sometimes."

"Have I ever scared you?"

"Hell no!"

"That's good." Jim relaxed slightly. "Look, you're pretty banged up. Why don't you stay at my place for a couple days."

"Nah. I have Larry staying at the warehouse and we're right in the middle of an experiment."

"Yeah? Well... tell Larry that the doctors said for you to take it easy."

"Sure thing." Blair let Jim lead him to his SUV.

"Did you really know what they were up to?" Jim asked when Blair had climbed into the passenger seat and let Jim buckle him in.

"Come on, Jim." Blair leaned back and breathed deeply. "Do you think I'd believe that Detective Brown would just let someone hold a knife on him... and that the others would just stand there and allow it."

"I don't know about you, Chief? I can tell when other people are lying to me..."

"...but not me? That is so cool." Blair's anthropologist buttons were pushed and he forgot his aches and pains. "We'll have to study that. It must mean something."

"It means that I have to trust you."

"And you can... trust me, I mean." Blair grinned. "Just like I trust you. Boy, did I ever wish you were up there on that mountain with me... before I caught on that it was a joke, I mean."

Jim gave up. Trying to navigate the twists and turns of Blair Sandburg's mind was exhausting. As he drove toward the campus he shook his head and asked in a pained voice. "Do the headhunters really use a sharpened stick?"

"Yeah and they wanted me to join the ceremony but I explained that I wasn't a warrior... I was an 'enlightened one'. I'm not sure if they believed me but enlightened ones don't get a stick through the nuts so it seemed like a good idea at the time and anyway...."

Jim just nodded and let the words wash over him. The kid was good for about ten more minutes of continuous rambling. It was non-stop, educational, and funny as hell.

"...and anyway the chief starts painting me red -- and boy let me tell you that paint doesn't wash off for weeks -- and then they noticed my hairy chest and they start plucking out the hairs like they were souvenirs and I'm like 'oww that hurts' but at the same time I'm thinking it's gotta be better than the 'stick thing' and...."

THE END

Postscript: I just thought that if Blair was the One Person who Jim couldn't play lie-detector with, it would explain Jim's paranoia about trusting him.


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