I have read several very good ride along stories where Jim 'rides along' with Blair because he's [Jim] is hurt or is on a use it or loose it vacation. Unfortunately they end up with Blair hurt and Jim investigating the crime that hurt him. I wanted to do a ride along where it doesn't end that way. Where Jim is the 'ride along' all the way through. I think I managed it.

I also admit that I know very little about AIDS so anything I got wrong here is actually possible in this particular [or peculiar] universe.

I hope.

Warnings: mention of sexual blackmail, murder/suicide, AIDS, pregnancy, rape, burning down a school building [Not Hardgrove Hall] and celebrity drunk driving [sorta ]

If this was a movie I'd rate it along the lines of PG-15 or better, so if any of the above bothers you, even though it's talked about second hand, please don't read. And if you ignore the warnings and get bugged, I'd rather not be blasted by it... er I'd rather hear constructive comments.

Feedback is begged for... er, is welcomed.

Beta-ed by Sabrenia [my neice and RPer extrordinair!] Thanks [and thanks for typing this in too!]

Standard Disclaimers apply, don't own them, no money, etc.

Enjoy!

dbascha@fireserve.net


THE RIDE-ALONG



Debra Baschal






"This is ridiculous It's no worse than a stupid hangnail."

"Jim, a broken wrist is not in the same class as a hangnail. If you don't take care of it, it could heal wrong then the doctors'll have to re-break it. That means surgery. And we both know how well you react to anesthetics. They have a hard time keeping you under till they're finished then you try to sleep for the next few days before you'll wake up. Thank you, no. I'd rather not have either one of us go through that ever again." Blair declared firmly.

"It just feels like a stupid reason to be forced to take a month off work, Chief." Jim protested quietly.

"Jim, it's your right wrist that's broken, your dominate hand. The hand you shoot with, the hand you write with and the hand you do most of your typing with. Not to mention eat with." Blair reasoned.

"Now that's where you're wrong, Chief. I can do most of those things with either hand. I had to learn how to when I was in the Rangers. Standard training. It's counterproductive if you can't continue or complete your mission because you were wounded on your dominate side. And a lot of times there isn't anywhere safe to leave the wounded. They either had to keep up or had to take their chances on their own till the mission was completed and the rest of the unit could come back for them." Jim countered.

"That's cruel, man."

"Cruel or not, that's the way it goes. Sides, I've got you to do my typing for me." He added smugly.

"Jim, man, give it up. The doctors aren't gonna let you go back to work 'til your wrist is out of the cast. It was a miracle that all those broken bone were still in alignment. That's why you have to be so careful. And that month is more like six week and that's IF you don't do something stupid in the meantime." Blair informed him.

"You think I'd do something stupid?" Jim looked hurt.

"Not on purpose, but if you get caught up in something you tend to get so focused on your goal that you forget about certain things, like only being human, or whether or not you're hurt or if what you're about to do is gonna make it worse." He counted off on his fingers. "Like when you took on those creeps on the train, alone, even though your senses were spiking all over the place. You ended up getting thrown off the train. Yeah you caught them after your senses cleared up, but you could've been killed." Blair shook his head. "'Sides, you pull the trigger on your gun, just once, and I can almost guarantee that you'll end up having surgery to get that wrist set, complete with all those little plates and screws the doctors were threatening you with."

"What am I going to do for all that time off with nothing to do?" Jim whined. "I mean I'm gonna be going nuts here by the end of the first week. And there's no way I can go camping solo with only one working hand. Sides, it's more fun with someone else along." He sheepishly admitted.

"Well, as the person who usually goes with you, I thank you very much." He shrugged. "You could always be MY ride-along if you want."

"Really?" Jim's eyebrows shot up in interest.

"Yeah." Blair shrugged again. "It might be fun, for both of us. Of course you are going to have to be careful of all the co-eds. Make sure that you only pursue the grad students, otherwise you might end up with jail-bait that got an early start."

"You mean like you did?" Jim teased.

"Yep. Man, do you know what a bummer it is to have to show a girl your ID before she'll go out with you? It put a serious cramp in my love life. I almost had to go cruising for women at the local high school." He groused.

"I think I may aim more towards the faculty. I mean surely there must be at least one attractive single professor on campus." Jim stated.

"Male or female?" Blair grinned.

"Blair..."

"Sorry man. Yeah there are, man. Just watch out. Some of them can be real barracudas." He relented.

"Yeah, suuuurrrre." Jim responded in apparent disbelief.

"Seriously. Do you really want to ride along with me?" Blair asked.

"Sure. When is your next class?" Jim answered.

"Tomorrow." Blair supplied. "You think you'll be ready to face the hordes by then?"

"No problem, Chief." Jim assured him.

"Cool. Oh hey Jim couple of rules man. First, if you don't know the answer to a student's question don't BS them, it could be for an exam. Send them to me or another Fellow or the actual professor. Or, if you're up to it? Work thru the material with them and see if they can get the answer that way.

"Second, if you have any questions or comments on the material in class, other than it's boring, go ahead and ask, it may spark a discussion." He grinned. "And since we're getting into South American cultures it may help if you could offer some of your own experiences but it's not mandatory."

"Kinda like you offering your help with a case -- not mandatory but greatly appreciated if reluctantly accepted."

Blair grinned at the rueful expression on Jim's face.

"Ok another thing. Please no falling asleep in class bring something to do, a magazine or books, hell, crossword puzzles, just don't be blatant about it or distract the others." His grin was back. "Their grade may depend on it."

"Fair enough..." He started looking worried. "You aren't going to be having any lectures on body piercing or sexual practices are you?"

"You wanna know so you can avoid the first and sell tickets to the second?" Blair teased. "Or are you just turning squeamish in your old age?"

"I'll show you old Jr. um, no." He shook his head as if to clear or order his thoughts. "I'd have no problem if it was part of a mission briefing, in fact we used to have that type of information included if we expected to have contact with the locals. No, it's just hearing that in a room full of teenagers, especially the girls who make me feel like either their father or a pedophile or like they want to practice whatever it is on me." He did a full-body shutter.

Blair laughed at the earnest look on Jim's face.

"Been there, still get that feeling. And it's usually the early starters who actually come up and make the offer out loud. The others just seem to leer enough..." he trailed off unable to complete his thought.

"To scare some of the hard core characters we use to get in Vice?"

"Exactly!" Blair agreed then grinned. "I'll give you a heads up beforehand and if the lecture does have something you can't handle there's no problem with you skipping the class, or leaving, as long as you don't do it by yelling 'fire' or 'bomb' or something." They both laughed at the absurdity of that happening.

"But those are my most effective exit lines." Jim mock whined setting of more laughter.

"And if it gets to be too much for you -- either it's too boring or brings about flashbacks from when you were in school, just say the word and there'll be no problem if you wanna do something else with your time."

"No problem. Anything else Chief?"

"Um... Yeah... Now that you mention it there is I know you have to be armed, that 24-7 stuff." He grinned cheekily at his intentional vagueness. "But can you just go with the ankle gun. It'll be less noticeable and less likely for one of the students to either see it or get their hands on it."

"Get their hands on it? Chief, they're a bunch of college students."

"And it's a cross section of America, just like the rest of Cascade. You know, the poor, the rich, those looking to skate by, the jocks, the sciences nerds, the business majors, those majoring in Math or English lit. And those who are out get their BA's, BS's, MA's, PHD and Mrs."

"MRS...?" Jim snorted. "Don't tell me they really do that anymore."

"Of course they do. There are always people out to score a rich spouse and spend the rest of their lives among the rich and famous."

"Isn't that a little chauvinistic for you, Chief?" Jim eyed his roommate skeptically.

"Why? I said people and spouses and I meant both guys and girls. Regardless it's still called getting an MRS, ya know Marry Rich while Studying. But while there'll always be people 'studying' for that there's also people who are studying to be thieves, murders, and cons. There's usually a couple of things stolen every week."

"What is security doing about the problem?" Jim asked concerned for his friend's safety while at the university.

"Security's usually right on top of it. That's why it's only a couple of things a week." He grinned. "Not half the school every day." He shrugged "All I'm saying is that you'd be better off wearing the ankle holster and not taking the chance."

Jim sighed "You've got a point. 'Sides the guys would never let me live it down if I lost my gun to some sticky fingered 19 year old."

"You sure you wanna do this man? It's gonna be different from the station."

"I did go to college, Jr. How else do you think I made Captain?"

"Bribery?" The word slipped out before Blair knew it. Blair blushed as he and Jim laughed.

"Sorry man that just popped out."

"I'll pop you." Jim shook his head. "Sides you bribe to make Major, not Captain." This set them both off.

"I think I'll be ok." Jim continued after they had both caught their breath. "The gun is always there if my primary defense fails."

"Primary defense?" Blair asked tentatively.

"Yeah, You." Jim replied a sincere smile on his face.

"Thanks man."

"So, what do you think I need to take with me? And do you have a spare back backpack I can borrow?"

"Sure man." He shrugged. "I don't know? Pens, pencils, paper, books, magazines, and puzzle books." A gleam slipped into his eyes. "Any outstanding reports you owe Simon?"

Jim shook his head. "We finished the last of them when we stopped by the station after we finished up at the hospital last night."

"You mean I did." Blair scoffed at him with a grin.

"My poor abused wrist kept me from doing it myself." Jim pouted using his best puppy dog eyes.

Blair cracked up as soon as he saw the expression on his roommate's face who grinned as Blair was reduced to a quivering mass of jell-o from laughing too hard.

"What time do you need to head in tomorrow?" Jim asked as Blair finally got his breath back.

"I've got an 9:00 class so we need to leave here no later than eight so we can get you squared away." He responded.

Jim grin went wicked. "Am I gonna need an observation's pass, Chief?"

Blair barked out a laugh. "Not for school. I was thinking of a temporary Student ID for some of the discounts." He held up his hand as Jim started to protest. "And to prove you belong on campus." He smirked. "I wouldn't want security to put you off campus thinking you were a pedophile or stalking the co-eds."

"Cute, Chief. You forget I know the head of Security personally."

"True." Blair responded with a philosophical shrug. "Oh let me get that backpack for you." He remembered as he bounced up and moved towards his room. "You might wanna get your stuff ready too."

"Thanks Chief." Jim nodded as he headed for the junk drawer where the extra pens and pencils usually ended up.


After a nice breakfast that felt almost leisurely to Jim with the late start -- he usually left for the station by 7:30. They drove to the university in Blair's Volvo, both because he felt more comfortable driving it and because it didn't have a police radio like the tuck so Jim wouldn't be tempted to respond to any calls.

After a stop by Blair's office, they had quickly gotten Jim a temporary Student ID then had gone to Blair's first class, Anthropology 101. Jim was able to get a seat off to the side of the room, a different one than the one he had almost given the lecture in when Brackett had stolen the Ebola virus. He watched as the students' straggled in. It was the usual mix that you'd expect. He could spot the jocks, brains, jokers, and the junior yuppies. There were also several older students and some that didn't look like they were old enough for high school, let alone college. He smirked when he remembered the pictures of Blair he had seen from when he had started college. He had looked more like he was 12 than 16.

"Hey what's this? A new student?" Jim was pulled from his thoughts by an amused perky voice. Shifting his attention he couldn't help but smile at the 19 year old girl with deep brown hair that was setting her books on a desk a few feet from him.

"What? You gotta problem with that?" The boy who was sitting next to her asked.

"Naw, he's cute in that whole I'm not only older but I'm armed and dangerous kinda way." She replied grinning a mischievous twinkle in her eyes.

"You going after old men now a days Lill?" The boy asked smirking.

Lill turned an indignant eye on the boy. "Just cause he's in his 30s doesn't make him an old man, George. Just older."

George kept smirking. "Naw, Mr. Sandburg's older this guy's just Old."

"Keep it up Kid and I'll show you who's old." Jim's grin grew evil. "Better yet, I'll tell your father you think I'm an old man."

"You wouldn't." The teen had a deer in the headlights look. "Dad hears that he might challenge me to another wrestling match. I swear I'm still sore from the one we had two years ago. Or worse, he could show me how to disarm another bomb." His eyes were wide in mock panic causing Jim to laugh.

"How old were you the first time he did that?" Jim asked.

"13 and was I a mouthy little brat." He snorted. "I'm surprised he waited that long."

"Your Mom probably wouldn't let him." Jim replied as Lill came over and sat on his lap causing him to grin. "And what do you want for Christmas little girl?" He asked waggling his eyebrows at her and bouncing her with his legs.

"Passing grades, a new corvette and World Peace." Lill responded airily as she leaned back against his chest.

"Did Barbie have another fender bender?"

"Naw, big brother arrested Ken for a DUI and impounded the car." She pouted

"Ooh She needs to get it out soon or the impound fees'll be sky high." Jim played along.

"She can't. it was in Ken's name." Lill moaned playfully.

"We'll just have to see what we can do Miss Rafe but if there's world peace your brother and I are outta jobs and the grades are up to you little girl."

"Yeah, but you know the teacher." She whined playfully.

"And so do you. Face it kiddo, if all those Jocks can't force him to pass them with out earning it, then what do you think I can do?"

Lill batted her eyes at him and smiled. "Save me from big brother if I flunk and buy me ice cream?" She responded hopefully.

"Brat." Jim responded as he gently shoved her off his lap then grinned evilly. "Sure I'll save you from your big brother. But you're on your own with your parents."

"Oh no!" She playfully wailed.

"Hey Lill, is that your big brother?" One of the male students asked as he sat behind her desk.

"Naw Kelly, he's Mr. Sandburg's big brother. But he does work with mine, and George's dad too." She replied as she sat.

"Ok everyone settle down." Blair called out. "As you can tell we have a new student."

"You bring your big brother to class to beat up all the Jocks?" One of the male students quipped from the back of the class.

"Why Jeff? Did you want him to beat you up?" Blair quipped back causing the entire class to break up laughing.

"No." Blair continued once the class had calmed down "As a lot of you know, I've been doing a ride along with the cops for my dissertation. Well Jim Ellison," he motioned toward Jim, "is the detective that I've been riding with. Well, as you can see he's out of commission as a cop for a while so he decided to turn the tables on me, so he's my ride along till he can go back to work."

"Ahh, your going to introduce him to the dangers of the collegiate jungle." Jeff quipped.

"When'd you learn a word like collegiate Jeff? I'm impressed" The girl sitting next to him joked.

"Well I are a high school grad-u-ate and I'm getting me a higher eduma-cation." He joked in a smug tone of voice causing the class to crack up.

"Ok people settle down before we get Dr. Clockman in here complaining about the noise again." Blair made settling motion. Within a minute everyone had calmed down.

Jim was impressed as Blair quickly took attendance then launched in the lecture on the mating rituals of one of the tribes in Colombia. After a few minutes he checked at the class to find most of the students were riveted. There were, of course, a few students who looked bored and two others who had fallen asleep. Jim figured those were the ones that weren't anthropology majors. As he turned his attention back to his friend's lecture he hoped the students didn't need the grade from this class.


Over the next few weeks, Jim gained new insights to his roommate and a greater appreciation into his time management skills. Especially, when he realized just how much juggling Blair had to do to spend as much time with him at the station as he did. It also left him feeling guilty about the times he had ragged him about not taking Police work seriously and treating it like some field trip and trying to get him to blow off school. For Blair it was a field trip and school was the one that paid him, a fraction of his worth, but they did pay him.

Jim could see how much he loved and thrived being a teacher and grad student. He was also amazed that his hyper partner, the man they referred to as the energizer bunny, was actually toning it down some while at the station. How anyone could be that hyper and still manage to not only get passing grades but to maintain a 3.75 grade average and have very popular classes, was beyond Jim.

He also gained a new respect for his partner when he helped him not only give midterms, but grade them in all of his classes. Jim was the first to admit that if they had been all essay questions then Blair would've been on his own. However Blair had been given a 50 question multiple choice -- true, false test on the book by Dr. Clockman and was told to give them three or four essay questions to cover his lectures. Blair had fumed but had done so especially since Jim had offered to help him grade Clockman's test. He had appreciated that two of the questions had two or three correct answers and an extra point was given if more than one was marked, even if it had been erased. Jim had also chuckled at the E and F choices of all the above and none of the above. He had laughed out loud at one question near the end that had E and F switched, luckily neither had been the correct answer.

Even though he had to admit that Dr. Dale Clockman gave fun, or at least amusing tests, something about the guy bothered him and kept him on edge, but try as he might he just couldn't pinpoint it. Mentally he shrugged. Maybe it was because he rode roughshod over Blair's test plan of 15 questions on the board and the students had to pick seven to answer. Maybe he'd mention it to Blair and see if he could help him figure it out. Or maybe he'd just keep an eye on the guy. Maybe if Simon'd do a background check on him? Naw, he'd never hear the end of it if Simon and the guys thought he was inventing police work while he was on sick leave and riding along with Blair. Besides, he could always check the guy out after he got back to work.

Of course he had been glad he'd been there for Blair's office hours after the exam had been handed back. Did those jocks really think he'd change their grades just because they're bigger than he is or that there's more of them? It wouldn't have gotten them anywhere even if Jim hadn't been there. Blair hadn't batted an eyelash. He'd just told them NO and that if they kept it up he'd report them to both the coach and security. And since they knew the coach would back Sandburg, they eventually backed down and agreed to the extra credit stuff to get their grades back up. Jim figured his presence might have helped sway their decision, but since he wasn't visibly armed or had his badge out and had the cast on his arm he almost doubted it.

He had also laughed at the three attempted seductions from two female and one male students that Blair had managed to sidetrack before anyone got too carried away or embarrassed. Jim knew his presence was a deterrent this time to the students, who eventually agreed to use the tutors over in the library and do extra credit to get their grades up.

He had laughed again when Blair and a couple of the other teaching fellows admitted that they all had to go thru the same thing after most every major test or paper.


"Teacher!"

Blair couldn't help but grin at the whiney-little girl voice coming from the figure skipping towards him from her seat as the class started filing out of the room. "Yes, Miss Rafe?" He answered her summons with a voice full of patience -- just waiting to see where she was planning to take this.

"He's being mean. Beat him up." She whined demandingly stamping her foot.

Blair suppressed his laughed easily seeing the pretty young woman in front of him as an adorable seven year old with long pigtails.

"Who is it you want me to beat up and why?" Blair asked patiently using the same patience he would've with a real seven year old.

"Him." She declared with another stamp of her foot. "'Cause he's being mean." She tried to keep the angry indigent look going but a tiny smirk kept threatening it.

"You have to be more specific than 'Him.' Which 'him' are you talking about and why is whoever 'He' is being mean, or maybe How is he being mean?"

"H...h...h...h...h...he w...w...won't..." She took a deep shuttering breath more to control her laughter than anything.

"Who won't." Blair gently interrupted.

"'tective Jim." She informed him using the title several of her younger cousins used. "He won't marry me." She wailed causing both Blair and the rest of the students who hadn't left the class room yet to burst out into laughter.

"Teacher!" She whined still playing her part.

"Hold it." Jim came over and decided to play along. "I didn't say I wouldn't marry you. I said you had to clear it with your parents and brother first."

"See... He won't marry me." She wailed before collapsing against the desk in laughter, no longer able to keep the act up.

Blair's eyes danced. "The fiend. And after you brought him cookies too."

Jim grinned as he held up his hands in surrender. "I said when she gets permission then we'll get married but not before."

Lill looked at Blair and mock whined. "Teacher, beat up my big brother make him say OK."

Blair's eyes grew in mock fright. "But he's bigger than me and he has a gun." He smirked at Jim. "Why don't you have your fiance do it?"

Lill pouted. "He said I have to get permission without his help."

"What did George say?" Blair asked her as the younger man joined them with Lill's books and backpack.

"Hey, if he wants her he can have her." George said lightly a wicked grin on his face.

"What?" Lill turned her eyes flashed. "He Can Have Me!"

George shrugged. "Hey, you're the one who proposed to him not me. If he's really what you want. I won't stand in your way." He sniffed. "No matter how much it hurts." He declared melodramatically.

"Arrgh!" Blair groaned. "Don't you two have another class to get to?"

"Do you really want us to leave?" Lill turned a puppy dog look at him.

"Get out." Blair mock growled as he gently pushed her towards the door after he grabbed his stuff. "You'd think this was a single's group or something." He mock grumbled, a grin on his face.

"I was thinking more along the lines of a soap opera, Chief." Jim chuckled as they watched the young couple walk off talking. George handed something to Lill who squealed loudly nodding vigorously before hugging him hard. Blair and Jim both grinned as the couple moved into a long kiss.

"I think you're off the hook there big guy." Blair jokingly congratulated the taller man.

"Whew." Jim let out a deep breath while pretending to wipe the sweat from his forehead. "That was too close. Although I think she used me to get him to propose." He frowned pretending to be upset.

"Well," Blair shrugged lightly, "it's not like she was a red-head, a criminal or anything."

"True." Jim nodded before the both grinned and moved towards Blair's office. George and Lill had both hurried off after ending their kiss. Lill skipping with George running to try to keep up.

"I wonder how big the engagement party is gonna be?" Blair wondered.

"With Major Crimes and half the Department?" Jim added as they both started laughing.


"Many people have made the mistake of calling Juno, Jupiter, Saturn and the rest of the Roman deities the Olympians. But they aren't. The Olympians were the Greek deities not the Roman deities, even though they stole the personalities and ideal for them from the ancient Greeks almost wholly, however, they adapted them 'to fit' their ideas, ideals, and their already existing belief system.

"There are many instances of a deity from one culture being adopted or adapted to another, either to replace an already existing one, absorbing their original into the new deity or by having the new one defeat and kill, usually pretty graphically, the old one." A smattering of chuckles came from the class, Jim included.

"However such is not the same between the cultures in the old world and in the Americas. Even though there is some evidence of trade and migration between two in ancient ti..."

His words were drowned out as the fire alarm started it's whoot whooting over a constant bell.

Realizing what the sound meant the students in class all started screaming and trying to get out of the room and into the hall.

"I haven't dismissed the class yet!" Blair's voice could suddenly be heard above the alarm. All movement stopped as did the screams "Everyone back to your seats." Everyone went reluctantly back to their seats most looking very nervous.

Jim nodded towards the hall indicating that he was going to check it out.

Blair nodded in agreement as he gathered up his stuff while addressing the class still. "I know you all remember the fire drills from school. Well it's no different here either. Although you did forget that this lecture hall has a fire exit." Everyone looked towards the corner on the opposite side of the room from the door to the hall; a few embarrassed chuckles were barely heard over the alarm. Blair blushed slightly himself "I forgot too. Now I want everyone to file out. Calmly. Starting with Kelly's row and continue on till we're all out of here. Oh and if you remember from the first class, go directly to the amphitheater fountain on the other side of the commons. Try to stay together and stay there till I dismiss you." He nodded towards the red haired guy who was sitting in front of George to lead the way out of the room.

By now most of them had calmed down, sheepishly collected their stuff and began leaving like they had practiced several times a year throughout elementary and high school.

A few minutes later Jim ducked back thru the door leading several dozen students in as the last row of students in Blair's class started to the door.

"They got disoriented by the smoke, Chief." He informed him.

"It's that bad?" Blair asked smelling how strong the smoke was as they herded the students towards the fire exit.

Jim nodded. "Yeah, it was their class where it started."

Blair looked shocked as he realized that the student Jim was physically leading was a fellow TF, Andrea West who usually assisted their professor Dr. Dale Clockman with classes, who appeared to be in shock.

"Everyone go to the amphitheater fountain on the other side of the commons. Remain there until Miss West or I let you go!" Blair called out as the students reached the fire door.

"Is everyone else out Jim." He asked as he grabbed his stuff and helped herd the students out of the building.

"Campus security and the fire department are evacuating the last of them Chief."

"Do they need us for anything right now?"

"They'll be by to take statements after they put it out. Right now our responsibilities are to your students and Miss West's?" He added questioningly tilting his head toward the woman he was directing.

"Yeah. Ok. Any ideas how it started." He glanced back towards the building and paled as he saw angry flames leaping from the windows of the lecture hall that has been two doors down from his own. They were also showing from most of the other windows around them and a thick black smoke poured from still others.

"Oh my... geeze." He shook his head as he turned back around and finished escorting the students to the amphitheater fountain. Thankful that it wasn't Hardgrove Hall that was burning.

"Lynn Davis started it." Andrea replied coming out of her daze somewhat.

"Lynn?" Kelly repeated as he overheard as they reached the amphitheater fountain where the rest of the students were. "What about her?"

"She came in carrying one of those red five gallon gas cans that was leaking a small stream of gas from it." She blinked slowly as she continued. "She walked up and down all the isles then over to where Dr. Clockman was sitting. He was grading the quiz we'd just given while I lectured."

Blair's eyes bugged out. "You're kidding!" He exclaimed in an unbelieving voice. Dr. Clockman was notorious for hating to grade anything.

Andrea smiled slightly. "He had a sore throat this morning and it hurt to talk." She sighed then continued. "Lynn poured a bunch of gas onto the desk then backed Dr. Clockman over by the fire exit. She dumped the rest of the gas all around them. She had started yelling at the Dr, calling him Dale saying how it was all his fault. That he had killed her so she was going to return the favor. He asked how he had done that and she told him that the clinic had called her this morning saying not only was she pregnant, she also had full blown AIDS and that he was the only one she had ever slept with. She told the rest of the class to get out then she lit a road flare. W.. w...we all were scrambling to get out w...when I heard her tell him that he'd never kill another person then she dropped the flare. T...t...they were b...both engulfed in seconds. T...t...the whole room was. I... I barely got out. I... I saw them both on f...fire." Her voice was broken by sobs as Jim pulled her close.

"Not my sister." Kelly choked thru the tears as Blair, having seen where Andrea's explanation was going, pulled him into a comforting hug. "Not Lynn... not my Lynny... my twin..." His voice was drowned out by his sobs as he broke down crying on Blair's shoulder as his legs gave out under him and they ended up on one of the benches around the fountain. Blair did his best to comfort him. One of the other Teaching Fellows sent one of their students off. Then came over.

"I sent for the councilor Blair. Who do we call about the rest?" she asked.

"The fire department'll send someone around in a while." Jim answered. "I'll call them if they don't get here soon."

She nodded then touched Blair's shoulder. "Where's your class record, I'll made sure everyone's here for you." She said quietly after getting his attention.

Blair nodded his thanks as he handed over the folder that was next to him. Andrea also handed the one she had over.


Three hours later the fire was mostly out, with just the occasional hot spots left. The building, despite the efforts of the fire department had been reduced to a hollowed out shell, a complete ruin.

The bodies of Lynn Davis and Dr. Clockman had been found and removed by the coroner's office. Kelly Davis and Andrea West had both been taken to the University Clinic and had both been sedated. The school councilors were already planning on having full schedules over the rest of the semester. The Fire Investigation had also finished taking statements.

Blair had dismissed both classes after he had been informed and had informed the students that since it was Wednesday classes had been canceled for the rest of the week. He also told them that the new meeting place for class would be posted on his door in Hardgrove Hall and at the Student Union or they could call the office.


"So what did the official investigation turn up?" Blair asked as he dealt another round of poker a few weeks later as they sat around the table in the loft.

"We found six other kids who'd all recently tested positive for AIDS thru the school's clinic and who knows how many others." Joel antied up as he shook his head sadly. "After hearing about what happened, all but one of them confessed that Clockman had been forcing them to have sex with him in order to pass his class."

"What about the other one?" Jim asked as he threw two cards away.

"He committed suicide the day after the fire. The note confessed that Clockman was blackmailing him and that there was no way he could face dying by AIDS. The really bad part of it was this kid, David Stevenson had a grade average 3.25, but he was on a scholarship. Evidently Clockman threatened to flunk him in both of the classes he had him in."

"And make him lose his funding." Blair said in disgust as he dealt the new cards.

"It was the same with the others. B students who'd lose their financial aid if they flunked." Joel threw in his hand. "I fold. We did find out Clockman contracted AIDS from a student he had blackmailed over the summer break. However, the kid had been killed in a car accident before they could tell him."

"It'd be nice revenge if it hadn't been for all the other kids that sleezebucket was blackmailing." Rafe shook his head calling.

"What really ticked me off was that stupid Chancellor you've got over there." Joel nodded towards Blair. "She was going to try to cover everything up till the Health Department and the CDC forced her to inform not only the students currently enrolled, but anyone who's taken classes from that man since the summer class that kid was in. She's a real piece of work."

"How do you deal with a bat like that?" H asked shaking his head in wonder both at the woman and at Blair as he raked in the pot.

"You do your best to stay off her radar or try to get off it fast if she catches site of you." Blair admitted. "She's proved she'll do almost anything to 'Protect the good name of the University'. Half the time if she thinks you're going to tarnish the school's reputation she'll have you expelled whether you're guilty of whatever it is or not."

"And the other half?" Jim asked as he shuffled the cards.

"Then you get a chance to defend yourself without having to call an official hearing about it." He shook his head as he looked at the hand he had just been dealt. "She doesn't seem to realize that forcing the students to call those ARE damaging the school. I know of at least a dozen students what we were trying to recruit that have refused because of her attitude." He snorted as he threw away a card. "Unless of course you've got rich parents who'll donate big to the school. Then she'll put up with almost everything."

"How does she get away with that?" H asked as he called.

"The Ethics board is watching her on the sly, but the last time someone called them on her, she managed to beat the charges then she turned around and ruined that person. Last I heard they were in jail on income tax charges or something."

"Now that's wrong." H declared throwing his hand in then groaned. "Damn. That was a good hand too." He moaned playfully setting them all laughing.

"What about the classes that creep taught? Did they get canceled?" Rafe asked as he laid down his hand.

"No Dr. Milton and Dr. Twixley agreed to split his classes. Andrea and I are handling them along with Tom Kerns, Clockman's other Teaching Fellow. They're gonna hire another Professor before the start of the next semester." Blair explained as Joel raked in the pot then Simon dealt the next hand.

"What about that girl's twin brother? How's he doing?" Joel asked.

"Kelly went back home. He couldn't face being here after what happened to Lynn. 'Sides his parents asked him too. I guess they just need to be family right now. Can't say as I blame them either."

"And here I bet you were thinking riding along with Blair was gonna be easy, Hey Jim?" H teased. "You forgot he was a trouble magnet."

"Any trouble in the area'll find him" Rafe agreed

"That's not true. This had nothing to do with Blair. Just because it happened in the same building he was teaching in was a fluke." Jim protested then grinned. "Besides there was a Taggert and a Rafe in the building also."

"No there wasn't." Blair corrected. "Lill had Comp 120 over at the computer lab and George had Spanish. Both are on the other side of the campus."

"Darn." Jim shook his head in defeat as he called.

"How are those kids doing anyway?" Simon asked, calling also.

"They both took it hard." Rafe answered. "Evidentially they both knew some of the affected kids."

"I wonder how close they came to being his Victims also." Joel speculated. "They're both there mainly on scholarships."

Blair shook his head no. "No, they weren't in any danger."

"How do you know that?" Joel asked, desperate to grab onto any hope he could.

"Cause Dr. Clockman knew both Lill and George are related to cops who I know. My guess would be that he steered clear of them for that reason."

"They're also locals." Rafe added bitterly. "That creep seemed to only go after kids from out of the state, so they didn't have any nearby family backup is my guess."

"Rafe?" Simon asked the concern was plain in his voice.

"Sorry, it's just; those kids were going to college to better themselves, for their futures. Now because of that creep they don't have any future other than waiting to die way too young, going through torture before they do. All because that creep of a professor got his rocks off by blackmailing kids who just wanted an education. He got what he deserved, but not those poor kids. And yeah I can easily see my Lillybet in their place."

"Same with George. But you can't let it eat at you or it could destroy your relationship with the kids." Joel cautioned.

"I know." Rafe sighed. "But it still makes me sick. What he did to those kids then got off comparatively easy."

"What?"

"Think about it. I don't know about all of you, but I'd rather burn to death relatively quickly than die by AIDS. It's a long slow agonizing death, if nothing else, just from the waiting and knowing it's inevitable." He said mournfully then explained. "I had a cousin who died of it last year and I'd rather eat my gun than die that way."

"Do you think your cousin felt that way?" Blair asked quietly.

"She did at the end after the baby had been born apparently healthy. She'd been raped by some AIDS infected creep when she was five months along. The patrol guys up in Bellingham found them just before the creep could kill her. Anita was in agony and would've begged me to kill her if she hadn't already promised that she'd never ask that of anyone."

"How's the baby doing?" Jim asked dreading the worst.

"Perry died a week before his mother, of AIDS." Rafe confirmed. "None of us had the heart to tell her before she lapsed into a coma. Since then, her husband, Ted, quit his job and is working as an AIDS advocate back east now. He just couldn't stand being out here."

"That sucks, big time." Henry shook his head sadly the others agreeing with him.

"Ya know what's really sad though." Rafe asked having decided that he had brought them all down enough.

"What's that." Simon asked quietly.

"Ellison was proposed to by a beautiful 19 year old and he turned her down flat." He replied a grin on his face eyes sparkling.

"I did not!" Jim protested amid the laughter. "I told her she had to get your's and your parent's permission before I would. Then George proposed to her not 10 minutes later." He leveled a look at Rafe. "That is a very manipulative sister you have there."

"Yep." Rafe replied with a grin. "I've taught her well."

"Does George know what he's getting into?" Jim asked Joel, a grin on his face.

"I sure hope so. They've known each other since Jr. High. If he doesn't it's his own fault." Joel answered causing more laughter.

"When's your cast coming off?" Simon asked Jim still grinning.

"Why? Miss me?" Jim asked back matching his smile.

"Naw, but I've got a couple of cases that could use your observer's attention." Simon answered eyes twinkling pleased to be able to zing his friend.

"Nice to know someone else appreciates him." Jim commented still grinning. "The Dr wants to x-ray it again next week to see if it's healed enough. With luck I should be back at work by Monday after next."

"Of course that'll be desk duty only for at least two weeks." Blair interjected causing Jim to mock pout at him which in turn made them all crack up again.

"What's wrong Jim? College too dangerous for you?" Henry asked with a chuckle.

"Naw, too soap operaish."

"Soap Operaish!" Blair exclaimed in surprise. "What're you talking about?"

"Think about it, Chief. You've got sex, intrigue, murder, suicide, illicit affairs, blackmail, attempted seduction, bribery..."

"That's attempted seduction and attempted bribery." Blair interrupted. He continued at the puzzled looks. "After just about every exam and major paper there's students who want better grades, whether they've earned them or not. Most jocks try to threaten a better grade out of you. Most of the other students, when tears fail will offer money and some offer sex. I've always said No to all three. I've gotten beaten up a few times and spent some very lonely broke nights, but I can look at myself in the mirror with a clear conscious."

"Beat up?" Simon repeated as his eyebrows shot up.

"Yeah." Blair confirmed. "They were all arrested and some are given probation, expelled, two even went to jail. Of course they all flunked. That's Rainier policy if you assault a facility member you are expelled and automatically flunk all your courses."

"I don't see why they try it. There's warnings about it posted all over the halls and outside most of the offices including Sandburg's." Jim said shaking his head.

"So..." Joel tried to hide his grin. "You aren't denying that it's like a soap opera down there?"

"Nope." Blair replied grinning. "I know it is. I just wanted to know what gave it away."

"Rainier home of 'As The World Turns'." Joel intoned.

"Ah, As The Worm Turns." Jim countered.

"As The Stomach Turns." Brown chimed in.

"As The Stomach Churns." Rafe countered.

"And that's what mine's doing right now." Simon interjected.

Blair smirked "You guys are amateurs. It's 'As The Bold, Passionate Days of Loving Young Santa General Charles Nights Flops.' And those shows have nothing on Rainier life." He finished causing them all to burst out laughing again.

The End


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