Blair surveyed the bullpen with satisfaction. Everybody was here, except for Simon, who was in his office with the door closed. He took a few shallow breaths, deliberately ramping up his adrenaline levels and strode to the desk he shared with Jim. It had not escaped his attention that Jim was over by Joel’s desk, no doubt talking over that case they’d been working on together. Without even asking for his advice.
“Listen up, guys.” Blair clapped his hands sharply and then, realizing that Polanski, in the far corner, couldn’t see him clearly enough, clambered up onto the desktop. Sometimes being short really interfered with the spontaneity, but Blair was man enough to handle it. “I just have something I need to say to you all, and then I’ll leave you in peace.” His breath hiccupped slightly as he said the last few words, and Blair felt his eyes welling up at the injustice of it all.
Behind him, Simon’s door opened as the Captain of Major Crime realized something untoward was going on in his domain. “Sandburg, what’s going on?” The deep, nasal voice had an edge of impatience, but Blair ignored it.
All eyes were on him now, and Blair savoured the satisfaction of having their attention. He smiled, sadly, bravely, forgivingly. “I wanted to let you all know that I won’t be coming into Major Crime any more.”
There were gasps from his left, but he kept his eyes focused on Jim, whose face had gone completely blank. Well, he’d expected nothing more, but it hurt all the same. “I’m sure most of you know that I’ve been studying Anthropology since I was sixteen years old.” They ought to, he thought. He’d been telling them all ever since he started helping Jim with his cases, but he suspected some of them hadn’t been listening. “That’s nearly half my lifetime. And I’ve learned a lot in that time. A lot,” he emphasized, his eyes scanning the upturned faces of the cops. His friends, he’d thought… “and, you know, being the kind, thoughtful person that I am, I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned with you all. To bring some – let’s face it, guys – much needed intellectual stimulation to this department.”
Hearing a huffing growl from behind him, Blair turned his head. His next words were pointedly aimed in Simon’s direction. “I know some of you think of me as a weird hippy kid, but – and I think this bears repeating – I started college at sixteen. How many of you can say that?” He waited for anyone to rebut him, safe in the knowledge that nobody in this bullpen could say any such thing.
“So. We all know that I’m smarter than any of you.” Blair felt a small surge of satisfaction, as he always did when he thought of his superiority. He quelled it ruthlessly; this wasn’t the time for self-indulgence. “But when I’ve graciously condesc… tried to share the benefits of my experience and education, what has been the result?”
The question was purely rhetorical, but Blair paused to allow the sense of ill usage to fill him. “You ignore me. You ridicule me. You”, and here he stared into Simon’s dark eyes, “belittle me. ‘Sandburg, you’re not a cop’, you say.” He fixed Jim with an icy glare, “You say, ‘Sandburg, stay in the truck’, and you tell me to call for backup.” He flung his arms out – perhaps a little theatrically, but he felt the situation demanded it. “Is that any way to treat a man of my stature?”
A snigger from Salvatori warned him that his last accusation could be interpreted in a different sense than the one he’d intended. If you were a beetle-browed moron. He ignored the interruption. There’d always be some people who’d deliberately twist his words.
Blair allowed a small tremor of emotion to enter his voice. “Well, I never intended to make a scene. And, honestly guys, I love you all and I’d never want to hurt you, or anything. I would have put up with your lack of appreciation, because God knows, nobody…” his breath hitched on a silent sob, “… nobody has ever appreciated me the way I deserve to be appreciated…” he paused to turn his face away from the stares of the people he’d though of as friends and, not so surreptitiously, wiped away a tear. “But something’s happened that has made it impossible for me to continue working here. I don’t want to say any more than that.”
Every eye in the room followed his gaze to Jim, still standing by Joel’s desk. Joel and Rhonda edged slightly away from him, casting him reproachful looks as they did so.
Simon actually removed the cigar from his mouth long enough to growl: “What’s Jim done now?” before clamping his teeth around the – in Blair’s opinion, (not that Simon ever listened to Blair’s opinion) – totally phallic object and glaring evilly at Jim.
“He…” Blair hesitated, hardly able to bear the thought of exposing Jim’s lack of proper appreciation or his own humiliation, “…he said I’d 'done good’ on that last case.” A swift look around the bullpen told him that his so-called friends still didn’t get it. “Done good”, he repeated with awful sarcasm. Surely even they could understand how totally inadequate a response that was to the brilliant, incisive contribution he’d made to the case. Sure, it was Jim’s spadework that had finally led to the serial killer’s arrest, but he wouldn’t have got anywhere without Blair’s assistance and support. And it wasn’t even grammatically correct.
“There are other things. Things I could tell you-“
“Chief.” Jim interrupted, a warning in his voice.
“But I won’t. Because it’s private. Confidential between me and Jim.” Blair allowed his bottom lip to tremble slightly. “But I will say that Jim has never trusted me. Never. And whenever I’ve tried to help him, he’s complained and told me not to interfere. All I wanted to do was to help him. To make him a better man. A better cop. Worst of all, he’s shown no regard for my feelings.” Blair paused dramatically, before saying in a low, broken voice, “and he hit on my Mom.”
There was a murmur of disgust from almost everyone, and Blair saw, to his satisfaction that Jim was – finally – looking somewhat shamefaced.
“So, I’ll just go now. I don’t want to make a fuss, and I know it won’t be easy for you guys to continue without me, but you’ve got to be brave. After all, you managed fine before I came along” – a total lie, of course, but Blair knew how to be diplomatic – “and you’ll do fine without me.” He smiled bravely and hopped down from the desk.
Megan was sobbing, but managed to pull herself together long enough to hug him and whisper: “I’ve always wanted you, Sandy.”
“I know.” He pecked her on the cheek and turned to Rafe, who was barely less overcome. “But I really think you two should get together.” After all, they both had the good taste to want him, so they should be able to bond over their unrequited love. He joined their hands together and tried not to feel left out when they twined their fingers together and exchanged tearful smiles.
Brown came over to shake his hand and then pull him into a hug. “Sandburg, I’m sorry about all those ‘Hairboy’ cracks. I never meant to…” he broke off, trying to choke back the tears.
“Hey, H, it’s okay. I forgive you, honestly.” After all, follicly challenged guys like Brown – and Jim – couldn’t help but lash out to hide their feelings of inferiority when confronted with the magnificence of Blair’s hair. The fortune he expended on shampoos, conditioners and product – all totally organic, of course – was money well spent. “I’ll be seeing you around, I’m sure.”
He made his way to the door of Major Crime, pushing through the rest of the cops who were all looking shamefaced and murmuring things like “don’t go, Sandburg”, and “we’ll miss you, Sandburg”, and – music to Blair’s ears – “just ignore that bastard, Ellison; he’s nothing without you”.
At the door he turned to face his adoring (but not adoring enough) fans. “Guys, it’s all for the best. You’ll see. In a couple of weeks you’ll have forgotten I even existed.” Yeah, right. And if you do, I’ll just have to come back and remind you .
In a final, magnanimous gesture, he raised his hand to wave (only slightly sarcastically) to Jim. “Have a good life, man.”
As the door closed behind him, Blair heard Simon’s voice barking “Ellison, my office. Now.”
He smiled as he headed for the lifts. Simon would ream Jim a new one. Jim would, suitably chastened, apologise – reluctantly, sure, but any apology from Jim was pure gold – and they’d have fantastic make-up sex.
Worked like a charm. Every time.