EVOLUTION OF FRIENDSHIP 19
Jim’s voice echoed hollowly in Blair’s ears and he raised a hand to show his partner he was back among the conscious. Well, mostly. He felt his hand grasped gently then Jim’s other hand fisted firmly in the back of his shirt and pulled him up so he was kneeling on the boat’s rolling deck. Blair groaned as his head protested being vertical and he swallowed down a surge of nausea at the gentle to and fro motion beneath his knees. “Oh man,” he said, leaning forward to rest his head on the deck again. “Just give me a minute, okay, Jim?”
Jim released his hold on Blair’s shirt and gave his back a few soothing pats. “You all right, Chief?” he asked, bending low so he could look into Blair’s face. He grinned reassuringly and Blair forced himself to give some semblance of a smile back. He nodded then wished he hadn’t as the nausea surged once more and he threw up all over the nice clean deck.
Jim moved back quickly, sighed then stood up and hauled Blair to his feet, moving him away from the mess. “Take some deep breaths,” he advised.
Blair obeyed then yelped as his bruised ribs checked in. He wrapped one arm around his aching torso as Jim pulled him supportively against his side and led him slowly down the steps to the dock.
“Wait!” Blair came to a sudden stop as the events of the previous few hours came flooding back. “Maya! Francisco took her!”
Jim urged him forward again. “She’s fine, Chief,” he said, shoving a hand under Blair’s elbow to keep him upright. “She’s down on the dock. Francisco’s in custody.” He stopped at the bottom of the steps and turned to look into Blair’s eyes. “She’s going to be taken in too. You know that, right?”
Blair nodded shakily. “It really wasn’t all her fault, Jim,” he said as they began walking toward the police cars and ambulances that had congregated further down the pier.
“You still making excuses for her?” Jim asked sharply. “She almost got you killed.”
Blair could almost hear the unspoken ‘again’ tacked on the end but he just shrugged. “I’m not making excuses for her,” he replied defensively. “She was naïve maybe but I don’t think she intentionally set out to hurt me or anyone else.”
“Tell that to the families of the men Francisco killed at the safe house,” Jim said flatly. He patted Blair’s back. “Let’s get you looked at then you can see her before they take her in for questioning.”
Blair eased back against the seat of the truck and turned sideways so he could look at Jim. “You can say it, you know,” he said, fingering the small bandage on his forehead. His head was still throbbing and his ribs ached distantly but he’d been pronounced okay to go home by the medics at the dock. He had a mild concussion and his ribs were bruised but not broken, something Blair counted as at least one small mercy in what had been a pretty shitty day.
“Say what?” Jim asked, turning onto Prospect Avenue and heading for his parking spot in front of their apartment building.
Blair pulled his wallet out of his pocket and took out the photograph of himself and Maya that they’d taken in one of those automated photo booths on campus. He traced the image of her face gently with his finger. “That you were right about Maya,” he said after a moment.
Jim pulled the truck to a stop then turned to look at him. “You saying you’ve changed your mind about how innocent she was in all of this?” he asked, sounding skeptical. “Does this mean I don’t have to worry that you’re going to take off to Chile to be with her?
“I still think Francisco duped her into going along with him,” Blair said honestly, “but you were right. I don’t think she totally believed he was doing everything for the good of their country or to help the poor. I think that’s what she wanted to believe but knowing what she had to have known about him, she must have realized he was lying to her.” He smiled. “And no, I have no plans to head off to Chile or anywhere else for that matter. At least not until you don’t need me anymore.”
“Well, that’s going to be never, Chief,” Jim said. “I can’t imagine ever doing this Sentinel thing without you around. I know I don’t say it enough but I really do appreciate what you do for me.”
Blair grinned. “Thanks, man.”
“So,” Jim said, opening his door. “How about Thai takeout for dinner?”
“Or,” Blair said, laughing, “we could just check out what Bubbe brought us.” He climbed out of the truck and waved at the woman standing by the doors.
“Your grandmother’s here?” Jim asked. “You could have told me she was coming, Sandburg.”
“I forgot,” Blair replied with a shrug. “It’s been kind of crazy around here the past few days. Ah, Jim, you’ll love having her here. She’s a great cook. Besides, I was hoping I could maybe get her to call my mom while she’s here. You know, patch things up.”
“Can the puppy dog eyes, Chief. She can stay but I swear to God, if there’s sage in that bag of hers…”