By Terri D Thomas
Beta Read by Jewelle Sprite and Yvonne
Written for PetFly by Harold Apter
"It's the best deal you're going to get," the dark haired man said. "You testify against Murdock and then get to disappear. We get what we want and you get what you want." District Attorney Fletcher confidently stepped around the desk and sat down in the chair. "The paperwork is ready for you. All I need is your signature." Derek Wilson fidgeted in his chair. "Ms. Kane has reviewed the document." Fletcher glanced at the woman sitting across from him. "No changes, right, Isabel?"
The balding man nervously glanced at the woman. She smiled and nodded. "He's right, Derek. It's a good deal. If you don't do this, you could find yourself facing conspiracy charges."
Derek sighed. "Okay. . . okay. I'll do it. . .on one condition."
"That is?" Fletcher asked, eyes narrowing.
"I need to call my brother. Let him know what's going on. I won't disappear without letting him know why."
Fletcher's eyes met Isabel's. He shook his head. "That's not a good idea. Murdock could use him against you."
"That's the deal. I can't just. . .do this. . .to my family."
Fletcher shook his head. Isabel leaned forward. "My client has spoken. If he wants to contact his family before this goes any further, that is his right."
"I'll make arrangements for you to be transported back to Cascade for the trial. Then you disappear." He pushed on the intercom button at the corner of his desk. Two uniformed officers stepped into the room. "Take Mr. Wilson back to his hotel and stay with him until you receive instructions."
As Wilson turned to leave, he stopped. "No planes. I can't fly."
"Mr. Wilson, you must be reasonable. It will be much faster. . ."
"My client insists. No planes," Isabel emphasized, cutting off the District Attorney.
"Very well. I'll check on. . .some other ground transportation. Surely there's something available."
Blair felt a surge of euphoria as he danced in time to the jungle rhythms playing from the stereo. This was healing music and if Jim would just give it a try, he was certain his friend's cold would be cured.
"Come on, man. You're killing me," the congested tone of Jim Ellison sounded over the music.
"Is it working? On your cold? These rhythms promote better circulation. Something I picked up from the Monbuttu tribe in Kenya. Open up all those passages. Sort of like, uh. . .sonic antihistamine."
Blair's hopeful smile only served to irritate his roommate. "Would you turn it down?"
"Come on, Jim. Give it a chance."
Jim's frustration was growing. "Give it a rest. Please?"
Blair sighed, his disappointment apparent. "Fine." He left the living room and disappeared into his bedroom. Jim felt a slight twinge of guilt when he found himself hoping that the younger man would stay there.
Not surprisingly, though, Blair reappeared and made his way to the kitchen. "Hey, that's okay, 'cause I got something else for you. . .and it's almost done." He lifted the lid of a pot that was simmering on the stove.
"Will you forget it? I'm fine."
"You know what? You are amazing. All that crap you put in your body that you call food and you won't take anything for your cold."
"I don't believe in chemicals."
"No argument from me, but this stuff is not your over-the-counter stuff here. I mean, it's all-natural," Blair said with pride.
Jim narrowed his eyes. "What's in it?"
"It's a little bit of this. . .a little bit of that. It doesn't matter."
"Any illegal substances?"
"No. . .no. . .come on. . .maybe if you're in Zimbabwe. They have restrictions on certain U.S. goods. Look at this. Check this out." Blair lifted the lid once again and took a deep sniff. He couldn't contain the cough that followed. "Now, that stuff. . .that'll clean your sinuses."
Jim grimaced and then coughed. "Or clean a floor."
Simon Banks closed the file with a sigh. He glanced at his watch and then looked outside. The pitch black of nighttime greeted him. "Another day, another quarter," he muttered.
He pushed himself away from the desk preparing to grab his things and head home. Before he could stand a knock at his door grabbed his attention.
The door cracked open. "Hey Simon, you busy?" Carolyn Plummer asked.
"Nah, I was just leaving."
"Me too. Thought I'd better drop this off first, though," the woman said as she handed Simon a manila envelope.
Simon frowned. "What is it?"
Carolyn shrugged her shoulders. "Don't know. It was delivered to my office by mistake."
Simon looked at the return address. "Oh," he whispered.
Carolyn tilted her head. "You okay?"
"It's from my attorneys. It's the divorce decree."
"Oh, I didn't realize that it had been that long."
Simon let a small, cynical laugh escape. "Yeah, it seems like only yesterday that we were fighting like cats and dogs."
"I didn't mean it like that," the woman responded, apologetic.
"I know, I'm sorry. It's just. . .," Simon's words trailed off.
Carolyn sat on the edge of the desk and her hand patted Simon's. "Hey, it's okay. Remember, I've been there."
Simon sat back in his chair and rubbed his hand over tired eyes. "I just can't believe it's over. After everything we've done. . .been through. . .it's over. .. just like that." He snapped his fingers for emphasis.
"It's hard to believe that you can love someone so much and then watch it just. . .end," Carolyn added quietly.
"Yeah," Simon answered. He started to speak again, but his ringing phone halted the conversation. Simon fumbled for the receiver. "Banks." He was silent for a moment. Carolyn frowned trying to determine who was on the other end. "What? All right." Simon held the phone away from his mouth. "Could you excuse me?" he asked her.
Carolyn nodded and quickly left the room, shutting the door behind her.
Turning his attention back to the phone, Simon listened again. "No. . .yes, sir, I have the perfect man for the job. Detective Jim Ellison. Oh, he's been working with a special consultant to the department, Blair Sandburg. Is it okay if he comes along?" Simon listened to the response. "I understand. Get right on it."
He pushed down the switch hook and then dialed another number. "Rhonda? Better hang up your coat. We're gonna be staying late tonight. See if you can catch Plummer before she leaves. Ask her to come back up here. Also, see if you can track down Jim." He hung up the phone. "It's gonna be a long night," he sighed and leaned back in his chair.
"Can't you tell me anything about where we're going?" Blair whined as he and Jim exited the police department elevator.
"Sorry, Chief, it's not my call," Jim said as he fought off a sneeze. He lost and aimed the violent explosion at his friend.
Blair grimaced and wiped off his arm. "Come on. Do you know germs have a life of their own? Not only did you pull me out of bed in the middle of the night, but now you're going to get me sick." He reached into his pocket and handed the taller man a wad of tissues. "Here, take a couple of these."
Jim chuckled at his friend's paranoia. "Sandburg, I'm seeing a whole new side of you. Didn't realize you were such a hypochondriac." He grabbed the tissues.
"Seeing that I'm risking disease tonight, can't you tell me what this is all about?"
"Picking up a package and bringing it back to Cascade." He pulled open his desk drawer and grabbed a spare set of handcuff keys. He dropped them and a few other items into his duffel bag.
"What type of package requires this much secrecy? Come on, Jim, who am I going to tell?" Blair's frustration raised his voice, causing everyone in the squad room to look. Embarrassed, Blair gave a little wave. "How are you guys doing? Good to see you." He leaned over towards Jim and whispered. "Sorry. Look, uh. . .let me give you something here. The Genjaka Indians swear by this stuff. They extract it from the root of the niktabi plant. It'll keep you from getting sicker. You just take a little pinch." He stuck some in his mouth. "Let it dissolve under tongue," he instructed, his words muffled by the substance.
Jim shook his head and held up his hand. "Thanks. I've had my flu shot."
Blair couldn't help but laugh. "Yeah. . .right. . .obviously those don't always work." Jim sneezed again as if emphasizing Blair's point. "See there? See?" He held out the leaves again. "Take a little bit of this. I'm telling you, you won’t regret it."
Jim dismissed Blair's suggestion with a wave of the hand and made his way to Simon's office.
Simon wasn't sure how long he had been staring at the envelope. He remembered telling Jim not too long ago that all he wanted was to receive the divorce papers and get the marriage over with. Now that the time had arrived, he wasn't so certain that this was what he had wanted.
Sighing, he finally gathered the nerve to open the envelope. Reaching inside he pulled out the papers. His eyes fell on the words. 'Decree of Divorce' were such harmless words, but they meant so much. He closed his eyes and remembered the day he had asked Joan to marry him. He had just graduated from the Academy. He had known all along that once he had finished his training he would ask for her hand in marriage. She had said 'yes' instantly, with no hesitation.
The engagement was short. They were married three months later. It had been a small ceremony. Neither of them had the means for a full-blown affair. She had looked so beautiful that day.
His mind wandered to the day that Joan had surprised him with the news that she was pregnant. He could still feel the swell of pride as he discovered that he was to be a father.
Daryl's birth was a day he would never forget. He had almost missed the occasion. Daryl had come early and Simon had been working undercover in Burglary. He would have never been in the delivery room on time if his boss, Captain Roberts, hadn't taken the initiative to pull Simon out so that he could be there at the special time. Simon had told his Captain later about how pleased, but shocked he was to have been taken off the assignment. The Captain had merely smiled and said, "Banks, there will be plenty of criminals to catch. . .you only get to see your child born once."
Simon opened his eyes, seeing the divorce papers once again. Where had it gone so wrong? What had happened between Joan and him to bring them to this point?
He picked up the pen, feeling an overwhelming sense of defeat as he did so. He started to sign and then paused. Before he could commit, Jim entered the office, coughing. Simon frowned at the obviously ill man.
"We're ready to roll, Captain."
"Good. The plane's waiting for you at the airport. It'll get you to the state line. After that, the train's making a special stop to pick you up."
Jim nodded. "Good. Would you mind if I told Sandburg what's going down? Get him off my back a little bit?"
Simon chuckled. "That bad, huh?"
"Well, sorry, you can't tell him anything 'til you get on board that train."
"Thanks very much for your support."
Simon raised his hands in defense. "I don't make the rules."
"That's what I keep telling him." Jim's keen vision picked up the wording on the papers sitting on his boss' desk. "They finally came, huh?"
"Yeah. Says in big letters, 'You are divorced. Now what?' Hell, man, I kept expecting this to be a great moment, and. . .I don't know. All I feel is empty. It gets better, right?"
Jim gave him an empathetic look, despite being assaulted by another cough. "Yeah, it gets better."
"I'll check with you later on."
Simon nodded. "All right. Take care of that cold."
Jim sniffed, testing the stuffiness of his nose. "It'll pass." The cough attacked again.