This was based (partially) on a real (and weird) incident.
"Buttermilk donuts?"Blair studied the contents of the white boxes, then glared at Jim. "Chocolate eclairs?"
"Have one, Chief." Jim opened his large coffee and took an almost erotic sniff of the expensive brew.
"Okay." The case they were on was a particularly tough one and there hadn't been time for lunch. "But this is just because we have to work late and...."
"ELLISON!"A tall thin man stood in the doorway of the break room. His eyes were wild and he seemed distraught. All of this struck Blair as particularly odd since he vaguely recognized the man as a police officer -- a Detective in Bunco.
"Yes." Blair saw Jim tense and slide his chair away from the table a little.
"You know." The detective's voice was a raspy whisper. "I see you... see you watching me with those cold blue eyes that see right through me."
"Look," Jim moved further away from Blair. "I..."
"How do you live... with him?" Wide tear blurred eyes latched onto Blair. "Everyday... so cold... judging you...." The man backed away and they heard his footsteps fade.
"What the hell?" Jim went to the door as Rafe and Henri arrived.
"Jim?" Blair looked at his partner. "What did you do to him?"
"I don't even know his name." Jim frowned. "I think I've seen him around."
"Rosstell or Rossiter." Henri shrugged. "He's from Seattle. Started here a couple of months ago. Works nights mostly."
Blair was more interested in the 'eyes that see right through' line. Jim was too lax sometimes when he used his senses at crime scenes. "Did you ever work on a case around him?" He shot Jim a meaningful look.
"No, Sandburg. I only passed him on the stairs a couple of times." Jim looked mystified.
"The guy needs help." Rafe helped himself to a donut and punched coins into the coffee machine. They shrugged off the eerie encounter -- and Blair's suggestion that they tell Simon about it -- and discussed the drug case they were working on.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a commotion at the main entrance to the bullpen. The four men hurried out and tried to make out what the small group of people in the hall were saying. Blair saw Jim go pale and asked. "What?"
Simon Banks looked grim as he approached and gestured for silence. "There's been a suicide in the men's room. It was an officer from another squad. That's all I can say right now. Internal Affairs will be running the investigation but it's pretty clear that it was suicide." Simon retreated to his office.
"It was him wasn't it." Blair asked, reeling in shock as the people around them filled in the facts.
"...climbed up and looped a metal wire around his neck..."
"...jumped off... damn mess..."
Jim just put up his coolest facade and shook his head. "Let's go, Chief." After quickly filling Simon in on the incident in the break room, they left.
The evening was spent on another futile stake out. Several heroin overdoses were traced to a deadly too-pure form of the drug that recently hit the streets. They had no clues and no suspects.
In the truck, on their way home, Blair turned to Jim. "Look, that guy had some kind of psychiatric problem. You're the 'Cop of the Year' so he zeroed in on you. Something like that."
"Do I really judge people?" Jim looked into the darkness. "Make them feel small and scared."
"No." Blair straightened in the seat and put his hand on Jim's shoulder. "I'm no doormat. If I was afraid or uncomfortable I wouldn't have accepted your invitation to live at your place."
Blair decided to ignore his hairsplitting. "Even -- in my office -- when you slammed me against that wall? You were more scared than I was."
"I was a little upset."
"But I could see you were a big teddy bear right off the bat."
"Okay, big mean Grizzly Bear."
"With a pure marshmallow center." Blair tried to coax a smile from the worried sentinel and failed.
"Rossiter evidently stole the heroin in Seattle during a bust. He worked undercover in Narcotics." Simon had called them into his office the next morning to tell them that IA had solved their case. "The girl he was living with OD'd and it evidently turned his head around."
"So he was deliberately selling the pure heroin -- knowing it would kill people?" Blair felt a pang of pity for both Rossiter AND his victims.
"I should have caught on." Jim looked resolute and furious. "I should have grabbed him and made him come clean."
"You didn't suspect him." Blair wasn't about to let Jim exercise his overactive sense of guilt. "Hell. You didn't even know who he was."
Simon had already heard the break room story from Rafe and Henri as well as Jim. "IA found the rest of the dope and a stack of cash in his apartment, last night. He wasn't being investigated. Until yesterday -- no one -- and I mean, no one, noticed anything different about him. Not even his partner."
"And besides... you're lucky he didn't take out his gun and make it a murder/suicide." Blair continued. "It was his own crime that drove him nuts. He didn't know you either... it was his own guilty conscience... he projected it all on you. You were the physical manifestation of his..."
"Enough Chief." Jim smiled sadly. "I know the drill."
"Jim, sometimes this job wears a man down." Simon studied one of the porcelain angels on his desk. "Maybe he was undercover too long. We'll never know. Just don't dwell on this incident."
"Sandburg, don't let him dwell on this." Simon waited for Blair to nod and sketch a salute. "And I want you to go talk to the department shrink."
"That's what I have him around for." Jim could see his two friends trying to lighten things up and played along. "He studied that psychology crap."
"The shrink... that's an order." Simon waved them off.
As they walked away, Blair hop-skipped past Jim and looked up at him. "You're gonna do it right? Make an appointment?"
"Already did, Chief." Jim couldn't hide the haunted look that darkened his eyes for an instant. "Already did."
~ The End ~
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