Warnings: Massive creative license taken with this story. I have no idea what happens in Police Academies, other than that silly series of movies. The obstacle course, I made up based on the Battle of the Network Stars and on a movie I saw about Fire Jumper Training which really doesn't relate to the police department but the image of Blair, well, you'll see. *g*

Yes I know there is a large gap in the middle of their Academy experience. My muse says it's a secret and won't tell me what happened. Oh well, missing scenes are a wonderful thing.

Disclaimer: They are not mine. They belong to Pet Fly, UPN and Sci-Fi Channel, but I'm seriously considering suing for custody on the grounds of neglect. No money made. Please don't sue.

Thanks for the beta job Kim.



April 24, 2000
Loft, 7:00 AM

Jim stood in the doorway and watched as Blair was putting the last of his stuff into his backpack. "Chief, you don't have to do this. You've got nothing to prove."

"Yeah, I do, Jim. I have to do this. Not because of you or any of the other guys in Major Crimes, I need to do this for myself. I need to prove to myself that I can do this just like everyone else had to. Besides, Daryl's expecting me," Blair answered as he zipped the backpack closed.

"Chief, the only thing that you have to do is get firearm certified." Jim had been looking forward to having Blair at his side as an official partner in the next few days. He knew his friend was capable of passing the firearms certification course anytime he chose. Jim had made sure Blair knew how to properly shoot after they returned from their aborted vacation with his cousin Rooker. Now, with Blair planning to attend this academy session, even though he was taking the accelerated version, it would be six weeks before Blair would graduate and receive his position with Major Crimes.

"You have more street experience than some of the instructors. You could probably teach the courses on proper police procedures, investigative techniques, and report writing. You've been working with the best for the last few years. You don't have to do this."

"I know, Jim. Joel and Simon have taught me so much," Blair said with a laugh, ducking the slap he knew would be coming.

Jim glared and raised his hand, but his heart really wasn't in it. He was glad that Blair was cracking jokes about the situation. The first few weeks after the press conference had been rough. Most of his University friends weren't speaking to him. Surprisingly, the officers at the station were being very supportive concerning his joining Major Crimes. "Keep talking, Chief. I can arrange to have you paired up with Joel the next time the bomb squad calls on his expertise."

"No thanks, Jim." Blair took one last look in the mirror, trying to smooth the riotous curls that resulted from his recent haircut. Knowing his decision to attend the academy was bothering Jim, he continued, his tone a little more serious. "It's only six weeks, Jim. I'll be home every night. Once I graduate, we'll be partners for real."

"Chief... Blair, we've always been real partners. Don't question that, even when I may not have acted like it, I've always believed you were my partner. Maybe I should have said it more often, but..."

"It's okay, Jim. I knew how you felt. Your actions have always spoke louder than your words. But, my graduating from the academy will make it official and I'm really looking forward to that first paycheck."

Jim nodded, understanding a little better why Blair was doing this. He glanced at his watch. "You'd better get moving. You don't want to be late on your first day, Chief," he added, as he handed the heavy pack to his friend.

"You're not going to walk me to the bus are you, Mom?" Blair whined, imitating an average five-year-old.

"Yes, Junior, and I'm gonna kiss you good-bye in front of all your new friends." Jim puckered up and started to lean in Blair's direction.

Blair's eyes widened in mock horror. He held up his hands in a protective gesture. "Whoa, Jim, don't even go there."

"Get going, Junior," Jim ordered, delivering the slap to the back of the head Blair expected earlier.

Blair threw the pack over his shoulder, grabbed his keys and headed out the front door, slamming the door behind him. Jim shook his head, whispering softly, "Chief, I hope you know what you're getting into."

Blair locked his car door and headed over to where the other cadets were gathering. As he made his way through the crowd, he heard someone calling his name. Looking around to his left he saw Daryl waving at him. "Hey, Daryl. Wow, I swear you've gotten taller than Jim."

"Yeah, another two inches and I'll pass my Dad."

Their conversation was interrupted by the shrill pitch of a whistle being blown, rising above the voices of the waiting cadets.

The voices ceased as the crowd noticed the man standing on top of the stairs. He was dressed in a Sergeant's uniform. In fact, he was the stereotypical representation of a boot camp army drill sergeant. He was a few inches over six feet tall, broad shoulders, and sporting a military buzz cut. In a deep booming voice, similar to Simon's, he ordered, "Your attention, please! I'm Sergeant Hook. I'll be in charge of this class. If there are any questions, ask me! If there are any problems, bring them to my attention. Now, orientation will be starting in five minutes in Room 101. Move quickly and quietly into the building, cadets."

Sergeant Hook led the way inside the building. The other incoming cadets moved en mass through the double doors. Blair and Daryl were at the rear of the crowd. Just as Blair started towards the door, a shove from behind sent him stumbling into the doorframe.

"Hey, watch where you're going?" Daryl yelled as he glared at the two cadets who were standing behind them and laughing. He offered his hand out to Blair to help him to his feet.

"I'm okay, Daryl. I'm sure it was just an accident. Right, guys?" Blair said as he accepted Daryl's hand up.

Before they could answer, Sergeant Hook stepped out of the building. "Is there a problem, gentlemen?"

"No, Sergeant," Blair and Daryl both answered quickly and firmly. The other two men shook their heads.

"Then get inside, you have two minutes."

April 25, 2000
Police Academy

The first full day of classes was half over. Blair sat down with his lunch tray at an empty table. Daryl, who was right behind him, took the seat next to him. Because of Blair's experience with Major Crime, he had different classes than Daryl in the morning. Their afternoon classes were the same, though, Self-Defense, Washington Laws and Statues, and the feared obstacle course.

Just as they had finished eating, the two cadets who had knocked Blair down the previous day sat down at the table across from them.

"What do we have here, a self proclaimed fraud and a Captain's kid. Hey squirt, bet your old man wouldn't be a Captain if it wasn't for those stupid Affirmative Action rules."

"Yeah, you got that right, Watson, never would have happened otherwise," the other added with a smirk.

Daryl flew to his feet, knocking over his chair in the process. Blair was equally quick, but he held onto Daryl's arm. Using his Guide voice that worked so well on his Sentinel, he suggested, "Ignore them. They're not worth the energy."

"Let's see what you're made of, squirt. Have you got what it takes to be a cop or are you just riding on Daddy's coattails?" Watson taunted, rising to his feet.

Daryl started to move around the table towards him, but Blair's soft and firm voice stopped him again. "If you start a fight here, they're going to throw you out of the Academy. That's what he wants. Don't give him the satisfaction."

Blair sat down and with a final glare at the two cadets across from him, Daryl followed his example.

"You two deserve each other, a fraud and a wannabe," Watson sneered as he sauntered away.

"Thanks for the compliment," Blair yelled.

"How do you do it, Blair? Why do you put up with crap from these guys?" Daryl asked, still angry from the confrontation.

"Their opinion doesn't matter to me and it shouldn't matter to you. Come on, we've got to get to class."

Blair gathered up all the garbage on the table and headed for the exit.

The first class after lunch was the self-defense class. There were thirty cadets in the room.

"I'm Sergeant Hamilton. I'm your instructor for this session. Break up into groups of two. You'll be practicing moves to stop a felon. Each of you will take turns being the felon and the arresting officer, so try to find someone your own size.

Daryl and Blair immediately paired off. About halfway through the class, Blair was surprised to hear his name being called by the Sergeant, along with Watson's.

"I'm going to have these two cadets demonstrate the moves that should be used when the felon has a size advantage. Cadet Sandburg, I hear you've spent time working with the Major Crimes Unit. Let see if you've learned anything."

Blair attempted to complete the moves as described by the instructor, but Watson wasn't being remotely cooperative and Blair found himself to be the one repeatedly taken down.

"What's the problem, Cadet Sandburg? Can't cut it?" Hamilton yelled, "Never mind, Cadets resume practice." As Sandburg, moved off the mat, Hamilton grabbed his arm, "You don't deserve to be here, and you definitely don't deserve a posting to Major Crimes. You aren't going to pass my class, so you might as well quit now. Until you do, you're going to be my volunteer for each demonstration, a living crash dummy. Get used to the idea of spending a lot of time looking at the ceiling."

Sandburg shook off the arm and, without a single word, resumed sparring with Daryl.

April 28, 2000

The class was standing at the beginning of the obstacle course. Today, all cadets would make a first attempt at completing the course. If they couldn't complete an individual obstacle, they were allowed to bypass it with a time penalty. However, in order to graduate, they had to complete the entire course within the established time limit.

The cadets formed a single line, each cadet starting the course at approximately three-minute intervals, to avoid jam-ups. Daryl was in line right behind Blair. The first obstacle was the monkey bars. The second was a ten-foot chain link fence, which they had to climb over to reach the next section of the course. The third was a twenty-foot long fence stretched horizontally across the ground, two feet in the air, each cadet had to crawl underneath the fence. Blair's lack of stature gave him a definite advantage with this part of the course. He was starting to wonder why the cadets feared the course. The next obstacle was a series of logs, each log at a different height than the previous one. After that was a fifteen foot rope climb. At the top of the rope climb was a platform, which connected to a set of stairs. Blair looked up and counted three flights of stairs. He paced himself, and quickly reached the top.

When he got a look at the next obstacle, he froze. At the end of the platform was a raised area, he arrived in time to see the cadet before him take a grip from the instructor for the obstacle. The grip had been placed over a wire. Each cadet had to hang onto the grip and jump from the platform. Blair took a few steps closer to the edge. He watched as the cadet glided through the air and landed on the ground across the small stream. Then, he made the mistake of looking straight down.

"Oh, shit! I can't do this. I really can't do this. Why are they making us do this?"

Blair didn't hear the instructor calling his name. He wasn't sure how long he had been standing at the edge until someone grabbed his arm and turned him around.

"I can't..." Blair stammered out, not really recognizing Daryl's face.

"Sure, you can. Come on. I'll be right behind you. Just close your eyes, hold tight and jump." As Daryl was talking, he was leading Blair closer to the launch point.

"Daryl, man, you don't understand. I hate heights. I really hate heights."

"You jumped out of a plane in Peru, to save me and my Dad. This is a lot closer to the ground."

"I didn't have a choice then!"

"You don't have a choice now! Not if you want to stay Jim's partner." Daryl had maneuvered Blair right on the launch point without him realizing it.

Blair reached up and took a strong hold on the grip. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and jumped.

Less than thirty seconds later, Blair felt the ground under his feet. He let go of the grip, but his knees weren't steady enough and he hit the ground hard. He remembered to roll so he wasn't injured, but he was shaking badly from the massive adrenaline rush. He heard, rather than saw, Daryl land a moment later.

"Blair! Are you all right?"

Blair didn't answer verbally, but he nodded. Daryl pulled him to his feet. "Come on. The only obstacle left is the mile run."

Thankfully, Daryl stayed with him during the mile run. He even managed to keep talking to Blair during the run and as they jogged across the finish line. Blair leaned over, resting his hands on his knees, still not fully recovered. "Thanks, Daryl."

"No problem, Blair. Jim will be your partner once you graduate, but for now, I've got your back."

"I've got yours too, my brother," Blair said as he straightened up and they headed off to the showers.

June 2, 2000
Major Crimes Bullpen 6:30 PM

Jim looked up from his computer when he heard his partner entering the bullpen. He frowned as he noticed that Blair was limping again. This was the fourth time in the last two weeks that Blair had come into the station or into the loft, bruised and injured. The first two times, when he had asked his partner what had happened, Blair had explained it away with a comment about learning a new set of moves in defense class. The third time he had asked, Blair had not so politely told him to drop it and that he was a big boy and could take of himself.

Since that day, he had watched his partner closely, using his senses to identify any clues that would tell him what was going on. But other than someone was hurting his partner, nothing else was revealed. As Blair removed his outer jacket, he noticed that Blair wasn't moving his right shoulder properly and it also looked like his right side was bothering him.

He leaned back in his chair, trying not to show his growing concern. "Hey, Chief, looks like you had a rough day. If you'd rather go home and take it easy tonight, I'll see if Simon's available to go on the stake-out with me."

"Are you saying you don't want me with you?" Jim heard the hurt in Blair's voice at the implication.

"That's not what I meant. It's just that I remember exactly how hard the instructors at the Academy push the cadets. And, I know how hard you've been working. I just want you to be able to concentrate on your classes, no distractions, understand?"

"Sorry, Jim. I didn't mean to snap at you." Blair pushed his hair back from his face as he dropped heavily into the chair by Jim's desk.

"Don't worry about it, Chief. I'll check with Simon. If he's available, why don't you go home and enjoy a nice quiet evening. I would suggest a long hot soak to loosen up those stiff muscles of yours."

Blair's head jerked up at those last words. But when Jim didn't push it any further, he relaxed again. "Sounds good to me, but if Simon's busy, I'm coming along with you. No arguments!"

"Wouldn't dream of arguing with you, Sandburg. I know better." Jim smiled as he heard Blair's snort at that statement. "Stay put, I'll be right back."

Jim knocked on Simon's door, waiting for a reply before entering.

"Enter," Simon answered as he continued to sort the ever-increasing stack of papers that appeared on his desk and multiplied whenever his back was turned.

"Captain, I was wondering if you had any plans for the evening?" Jim asked tentatively.

"Just finishing up the paperwork, tomorrow's Saturday. Daryl's coming over to spend the day. Why are you asking? I know you're working on the Davis stake-out with Sandburg tonight." Simon stared at the frustrated expression on Jim's face. He looked through an opening in the blinds to see Blair painfully shifting in the uncomfortably hard chair as he sat at Jim's desk. "Again? Did you ask him what happened this time?"

"No, I don't want to push him. He's determined to do this without any help, mine in particular. But I know he's hurting both physically and emotionally. I don't know how much longer I can stay out of this. I can't stand the idea of him hurting like this. I was hoping you would come on the stake-out with me. He won't let me go alone."

"I'll come along. While we're waiting for Davis to show, we'll put our heads together to figure out a way to get him to talk. You're an ex-ranger, I'm his Captain. Between us, we ought to be able to get the story out of him."

Jim looked thoughtful for a minute before answering, "Maybe Blair's not the one we should be trying to get the story out of."

Jim had left without closing the door, so Simon heard Jim tell Blair that it was okay for him to go home. He pondered what Jim had been suggesting. He realized it would probably be easier to get a straight story from Daryl.

June 3, 2000
Simon Banks Residence - 10:00 AM

God, I think I'd rather have tried to get the story out of Sandburg, Simon thought as he watched Jim take a shot at trying to convince Daryl to open up to them.

"Daryl, I need to know what's going on with him. He won't tell me and I know someone's hurting him."

Daryl's voice was growing more agitated and louder with each passing moment. "I gave Blair my word that I wouldn't tell anyone what was going on, particularly you or Dad. You guys wouldn't want me to break my word, right?"

Jim didn't know what to say. He looked to Simon to answer the question. "Son, there are times when you should break your word if it means helping out a friend in serious trouble. We know that Blair's having major problems at the Academy. We just need to know how serious they are. So, I want you to tell me what's been going on. No more stalling, I want to know right now."

"Simon, wait," Jim said, torn between the urgent need to help Blair and the desire of not forcing Daryl to violate his principles. Thinking quickly, an idea popped into his head. Smiling, he turned back towards Daryl. "What exactly was the promise you made to Blair?"

"Huh?" Daryl grunted, not understanding the question.

"What were the specific words that you said to Blair when you made that promise. I want you to try to remember every word you said in the exact order you said them. Trust me, it's important, Daryl."

Daryl closed his eyes and tried to remember that conversation in the locker room. Simon stared at Jim, attempting to figure out the reasoning behind the question. Before he could ask, Daryl started to explain. "Blair and I were in the locker room after self-defense class. I told him that he should tell you and Dad what's been going on. He said that he was capable of handling this himself and..." Daryl swallowed the next couple of words, not really wanting to repeat what Blair had said word for word.

"Please, Daryl, we really need to know," Jim pleaded.

Daryl took a deep breath before continuing, "Simon already thinks of me as a kid that can't take care of himself and Jim would come in breaking heads and that won't help me either. I can handle these guys. I want you to promise me that you won't go running to your Dad or Jim and tell them yourself."

Jim smiled, relieved that Daryl hadn't made a more specific promise. "So, you promised not to TELL us what was going on in class. Ever play twenty questions, Daryl?"

Simon started laughing as he finally figured out where Jim was heading. "The master obfuscator is about to be beaten at his own game and, Jim, you've spent way to much time in the Sandburg zone.

"But I promised," Daryl sputtered.

"And you won't be breaking that promise. Your Dad and I cornered you, remember? You didn't come running to us and you won't be telling us anything. You'll just be nodding or shaking your head. Answering a few, simple yes or no questions."

Daryl started to laugh, as he now understood the situation. Jim was enabling him to both keep his promise and help Blair at the same time. "Okay, ask now, we don't have much time before the shit hits the fan."

"Daryl! Did I just hear you curse?"

Jim chuckled, Simon whapped his back. "I taught him better than that."

"Simon, he's at the police academy. What Daryl just said is tame compared to..."

Simon interrupted, "Never mind, get on with the questions."

Jim winked at Daryl, who suppressed the laughter inside him.

"Okay, first question. Are people giving Blair a hard time?" Daryl nodded vigorously.

"Fellow cadets or instructors?" asked Simon. Daryl rolled his eyes but nodded. Jim snickered. "WHAT!" yelled Simon.

Jim answered, "Yes or No questions only, Simon."

"Are the other cadets giving him the most trouble?" Daryl shook his head no.

"Damn!" Simon said as Daryl shook a finger in a naughty naughty type gesture. "I'm an adult, I'm allowed to swear."

Jim chuckled before he summarized, "Okay, so most of the problems are coming from the instructors. Since this promise you made was in the locker room after self-defense class and Blair has been coming home with all sorts of interesting colored bruises, I'm gonna assume that instructor is part of the problem. Are other instructors also giving Blair a hard time?" Daryl nodded.

"Is there anyone besides you that's on his side," Daryl nodded.

"Before, you said that we didn't have much time before the shit hit the fan. Do the instructors have something planned for Blair tomorrow?" Daryl nodded, vigorously bouncing up and down in the chair.

Jim paused, "Simon, if I remember correctly, this week is the start of final testing before graduation. There are only a couple of ways they could flunk Sandburg out of the academy now. Senior officers are allowed to watch the tests, right?"

"Encouraged to watch, particularly if they're looking for candidates."

"You could get the two of us permission to attend. My guess is they're going to give Sandburg a hard time. Slant the tests against him. You and I could ensure that the testing's fair."

"Let me make a couple of phone calls. I'll see if I can't arrange a meeting with the Commissioner. It will take more than the two of us if there are several different instructors that have a problem with Sandburg graduating and becoming a cop."

June 5, 2000
Police Academy Gym - 8:00 AM

Jim and Simon stood at the back of the crowd of observers that had gathered in the gym to watch the self-defense testing. The object of the test was simple. The cadets were paired up, usually by size. One cadet was the criminal who was resisting arrest, the other cadet had to take him down and cuff him to pass the test. Sergeant Hamilton paired off the cadets. Most of the match-ups were fairly even. There was only one mismatched pair. Sandburg was matched with a cadet six inches taller and at least seventy pounds heavier than he was.

Hamilton strode over to the mat and called the first pair, "Sandburg, Watson, you're up first. Jim started to move forward to protest the match up, but Simon held his arm and softly ordered, "Wait."

The commissioner called out, "Hold, this match up is not in accordance with the established guidelines."

"I admit, there is a slight mismatch. However, I've heard so much about how much more experience Cadet Sandburg has due to his time in Major Crime Unit, that should even up the size difference."

"Who does he think he's kidding? I wouldn't have an easy time taking that guy out, much less Blair," Ellison whispered under his breath to Simon.

"Just wait, Jim. The Commissioner and I anticipated this possibility and discussed our countermove. Watch, you're gonna like this and you'll know exactly when to make your move," Simon answered with a smile.

Jim listened as the Commissioner answered, "My assistant, Officer Ganon wouldn't mind playing the criminal for Cadet Sandburg. Would you, Ganon?"

A man standing just to the right of the crowd removed his jacket and stepped onto the mat as he replied, "No problem, sir."

Jim sized up the man as he loosened up, noticing that Blair was watching just as closely. Jim could sense Blair calming as he assessed his new opponent. Ganon was maybe two inches taller and twenty pounds heavier than Blair, but the man had been at a desk for the past year. That slows a man's reflexes.

"But this leaves Watson without a partner," Sergeant Hamilton replied angrily, knowing that Sandburg was more than capable of taking down Officer Ganon.

"I'm sure we can get another volunteer from the officers present here."

"That's your cue, Jim."

"On it, Simon," Jim answered softly, before yelling, "I'll volunteer."

Until Jim had yelled, Blair hadn't realized that he had friends in the crowd. As Jim moved to the front of the crowd, he heard Blair mutter Sentinel soft, "Make him work hard for it, Jim, a little humiliation would be good for his soul."

Jim started to loosen up as Ganon and Sandburg started their match. Ganon made a couple of really good moves. Better then expected for a guy who had been off the streets for the past year. He feinted several times, throwing a right cross at Blair, who ducked and took Ganon to the mat. Ganon then attempted a head butt. Blair stayed right on top of the situation, anticipating the move and taking advantage by slipping a cuff on. It was hard getting the other cuff on, but Blair managed it well within the acceptable time limit.

Blair even remembered to read him his rights. Ganon tried to throw him off by answering in Spanish. Blair amazed the crowd by reciting the Miranda warning back in Spanish, asking again for acknowledgement. When Ganon answered back, it was in yet another language. Blair simply said that he could recite the warning in a dozen different languages if he wanted to waste the time. Ganon laughed and surrendered, in English.

Sergeant Hamilton looked angry enough to kill Sandburg on the spot, instead he yelled, "Watson, on the mat."

He looked over at Jim. "I didn't catch your name?"

"Ellison, Major Crime," Jim answered. The Sergeant looked decidedly nervous as he recognized the name. Cadet Watson didn't seem fazed. In fact, he seemed quite excited at the prospect of fighting Jim.

The two men warily circled one another. Each accessing the others ability, probing for weaknesses. Watson made a good move to take out Ellison's leg, but Jim's Ranger-trained reflexes enabled him to dodge. Watson found himself slammed, face first, into the mat.

"Nice try, Hot Shot, but you'll have to do a lot better than that," Jim taunted.

Watson stumbled to his feet. His anger getting the better of him, he lunged for Jim. Jim moved aside at the last second and Watson again went down on the mat.

"I thought I was supposed to be the one down there," Jim said mockingly as he waited for Watson to get to his feet.

Watson climbed to his feet much slower this time. Warily, he started to circle his opponent again. This time, Jim deliberately gave him an opening. Watson wrapped an arm around Jim's neck. Jim used the proper counter move, flipping Watson over his head. Watson landed flat on his back, the wind knocked out of him, his eyes closed. Jim placed his foot lightly across his adversary's neck and whispered softly, "If this was a real bust, you'd be dead right now."

"Time's up. Mister Watson, you have failed to complete the arrest, you may try again after completing a refresher course." Jim offered his hand to help the Cadet to his feet, but was ignored. Watson, his face bright red from both anger and shame, left the gym.

Jim headed over to where Blair was standing with Simon, and accepted the handshake from his Captain and the slap on the back from his partner.

The written test and the oral interview with the approval board were over. Blair had scored the highest mark in the class. The only thing standing between Blair and graduation was the obstacle course. Jim knew that Blair was in great shape physically and normally it wouldn't have been a problem getting through the course. But, with the injuries Watson had inflicted on Friday factored into the equation, well, it would be interesting to watch.

Blair had no doubts. He wasn't planning on just getting through the course, his goal was to have the best time in his class. There were three cadets in line to run the course in front of him. He wished his last name didn't start with an S, having to go in alphabetical order truly sucked right now. He started to pace.

Jim could sense the building nervousness in his partner. He walked over and grabbed his partner by the shoulders. "This is it, Chief. Run this course under time and you're officially my partner."

"Is that supposed to be an incentive or a threat?" Blair asked as he continued to stretch his tight muscles.

"Do you need more incentive?" Jim replied in an attempt to relieve some of Blair's tension. When Blair nodded, he continued, "What did you have in mind?"

"Hmm, how about a celebratory dinner tonight at Guido's on you?" Blair suggested with a smile, the familiarity of bantering with his best friend easing the stress.

"Guido's! That's the most expensive Italian Restaurant in the city."

"Are you saying I'm not worth it?" Blair asked, turning on his favorite kicked puppy look.

Unable to resist the look, Jim agreed. "Guido's it is. You're up next. I know you can do this, Chief," Jim said encouragingly as he released his partner with a pat on the back.

"I know, see ya at the finish line," Blair answered with a nod and took his place at the starting line. At the word go, Blair headed for the monkey bars. He flew across those without any problems. He didn't slow down through the next two obstacles. He knew he was making great time. He had no difficulty with either the logs or the rope climb. Then, he came to the final three obstacles. He started up the four flights of stairs. He knew the next obstacle was going to be the toughest. It had the starring role in his nightmares the past few evenings.

He got to the top of the platform and headed for the guide rope. He made sure he had a good grip on the bar, then without hesitation, he jumped from the platform. "Ohmygodohmygodohmygod!" he screamed as he slid down the wire and hit the ground running.

Now to finish the last challenge, the mile run. Blair focused on channeling the burst of adrenaline that had been released and headed towards the finish line. He could see Jim standing on the other side, waiting for him to succeed. He knew he had plenty of time, but he still wanted to finish first in the class. His lungs were screaming for air and his leg muscles were burning, but he sprinted the last few hundred yards.

His knees buckled just as he was crossing the finish line, but his partner was there to keep him from falling.

"Way to go, Chief. I knew you could," Jim cheered as he draped Blair's arm around his shoulders and slowly started to walk. "You need to keep moving, Chief or you'll lock those muscles up."

Simon and the Police Commissioner were heading in their direction. Jim and Blair stood and waited for them. The Commissioner approached and offered his hand to Blair as he said, "Congratulations Cadet Sandburg, you not only finished first in your class, but you just tied the current record for the obstacle course. It's quite an accomplishment. That record has been on the books for a long time."

"Who had the record?" Blair asked curiously.

"I did, Chief." Jim answered with a proud smile.

"So, are you mad that I tied it?" Blair asked nervously, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

"No, this is how it should be, now and in the future. We're equal partners in this, Blair. Equal in all things."

"Equal partners sounds great. Now, how about dinner?"

"How about a shower, first?" Jim retorted. The two men headed off to the locker room, moving quickly away from the crowd.

"Hey! Just what are you implying! That was a lot of hard work, just dial it down, partner."

Simon and the Commissioner watched, unable to hear the words that they were saying after the shower request, but their body language spoke louder than words. The bond of brotherhood was visible for the world to see, brothers in all things. Unbeknownst to the two senior officers, the same thought was crossing both minds. Each was wondering just what trouble those two would find next or what trouble would find them?

The end.

Back to The Loft