By Donna Smith
Part 1: Unity
How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalms 133:1
Jim Ellison rubbed the back of his neck, feeling the tension in his muscles. He scanned the crime scene photos in front of him again. He hadn’t found much at the actual scenes. The photos weren’t helping, either. Not enough leads to find a serial murderer. The average killer’s motives were clearer. But serial killers…serial killers lived in their own twisted worlds complete with rules that only they seemed aware of. The profiler was working on motive and identity, but how long would that take? How many more dead nuns would turn up in the meantime? He shook his head in frustration.
Blair Sandburg flinched as he noticed the tension in his friend and partner. He reached over and put a hand on Jim’s arm, whispering soothing words. Their eyes met for a moment before Jim nodded that he was ok. Blair gave him a reassuring smile. The young consultant sighed, trying to ignore the throbbing now taking up residence in his own head. He was sure quite a few other people in Major Crimes had the same problem by now. Blair picked up another report, making notes as he read it once again.
Rafe looked over at Jim and Blair hunched over some files at Jim’s desk. They’d been working obsessively hard on the recent nun murders. Anyone who knew them could tell how tired and frustrated they were. Jim was extra grouchy and grinding his teeth a lot, and Blair kept rubbing his bleary, sunken eyes. They’d been at it all day, non-stop. They needed a breather, even for just a few minutes, but they would never admit it. Rafe opened his desk drawer and took something out before he walked over to Jim and Blair. “Hey, you two. How do you feel about the Age of Aquarius?”
Jim looked at him like he was insane. Blair looked up from a bunch of files to mumble a glassy-eyed ‘huh?’.
“Oh, come on! You know, ‘This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius…’ Boy, the two of you really need some culture. I’m talking about the musical ‘Hair’. My landlady’s daughter is going to be in a high school production of it next weekend and I’m selling tickets.”
Henri walked over to his partner. “How did she con you into helping sell tickets?”
“Hey! I’ve always been a generous patron of the arts.” He saw the incredulous look on Henri’s face and gave in. “All right. I accidentally ran over her prize tulips last week. I’ve got to unload ten more tickets to get back in her good graces.” He turned back to Jim and Blair, waving the tickets in the air. “How about it, guys? I bet you’ve never seen ‘Hair’.” Rafe knew if he could just get Blair talking, Jim would get sucked into the conversation, too.
Blair lit up at that, his eyes losing some of their tired grey. “Are you kidding, man? I was in a production of it. I only had a small part because I was just a teenager then, but it was so cool! Naomi was dating this guy in a traveling musical troupe so we went with them to all their performances. Sometimes we got to be extras. I love ‘Hair’!”
Jim seemed more animated, too, now. “You would. A bunch of hippies dancing around singing about free love and long hair. Let me guess. It was the naked version.”
Blair rolled his eyes at Jim. “Well, duh! And it’s ‘nude’, not ‘naked’. ‘Naked’ sounds so smutty. It was art, man. You know Naomi. She’d never think of destroying the artist’s original vision.” He gave Jim a lopsided grin. “Besides, she thought dancing around naked in front of a live audience would be ‘groovy’.”
Jim wagged a finger at him. “That’s ‘nude’, Sandburg. Not ‘naked’. You know, I can picture your mom doing that. I bet she was really something.” Jim looked like he was thinking about it and started grinning devilishly.
“Jim! She’s my mom, man! Stop that!”
“She may be your mom, but she’s still a woman. An interesting, sexy…”
“Jim! You’re creeping me out here. I so do not want to hear your fantasies about my mom!”
Everyone in the bullpen heard this loud exclamation. They all tried to keep listening while pretending not to.
Joel walked over to Jim’s desk. “Jim’s having fantasies about Naomi? What’s so strange about that? She’s vibrant, attractive…”
“Joel! You’re married!”
“So? I’m not dead.”
Blair put his hands over his ears. “La la la la la la. I’m not listening. I can’t hear you.” Then he noticed the weird twinkle in Jim’s eyes. They were deliberately messing with his head. He could play that game. Blair let out an exaggerated sigh. “I give up. You win.” He patted Jim’s arm encouragingly. “You have my blessing to pursue my mom. Just promise me you’ll treat her right, Jim. You know… When you guys get married, you’ll be my stepdad. That’ll be so cool! You can take me to the park, play catch with me, take me camping…”
Jim snorted. “Like I don’t do those things already.”
“I couldn’t call you ‘father’. Too stuffy. You could be ‘Dad’. Most of my friends think you’re old enough to be my dad anyway. Can I call you ‘dad’, Dad?”
“How about ‘Pops’? You look like a ‘Pops’ kind of guy.”
Blair melodramatically grabbed Jim in a smothering hug. “Oh, Pops! We’ll be the happiest little family in the world! We’ll travel in Naomi’s beat-up hippie van and meet all her wacky friends and sleep in strange places and work odd jobs for food. As long as we have each other, we’ll be deliriously happy!”
“Someone’s delirious here, Sandburg, and it isn’t me!”
Rafe snickered. That’s all it took. Like a wave it traveled throughout the bullpen, getting louder and louder until it was full-blown laughter. Blair was still clinging to Jim, a puppy-dog look of affection on his face.
No one had noticed Simon standing in the doorway to his office, trying to hold onto a serious expression. “I hate to break up such an obviously tender moment, but it’s time for you two to go home. I don’t want to hear any arguments, either. Both of you get some sleep—you look like death warmed over. And Sandburg? I hope they didn’t pay you to be in that production of ‘Hair’. You’re acting is terrible.”
“Yeah, but I can really sing and dance.”
Jim cuffed him on the back of the head. “I’ve heard you in the shower, Chief. Let’s keep it there, shall we?”
“Oh, sure! Like you’re a Caruso, Jim.”
Simon shook his head. “Go on! Get out of here. I don’t want to see your faces until after breakfast tomorrow.”
Jim and Blair gathered their stuff together. Rafe still stood there waving two tickets back and forth in what looked like an attempt to hypnotize Blair into buying them. Blair finally paid his persistent friend for two tickets.
“Thank you, kind sir. You’ve put me two steps closer to a cease fire with my landlady.”
“No, thank you.” Blair smiled at his friend, his face more relaxed. “For…you know.”
“Anytime, Blair. Anytime.”