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His Brother's Keeper
His Brother's Keeper
by Chrys


Beta Read by Helen
Written for PetFly by: Harold Apter
Rated PG
internal thought in * *


~~~~~~ Act I ~~~~~~


Prologue:

Pete Winslow pulled into the fenced off construction yard slowly, looking around for any sign of late-night workers. He glanced over at the dimly lit barns. Some of the trainers liked to go through the barns late at night, but that shouldn't affect him over here by the grandstand. No, he wasn't worried about them. They just wanted their horses to stay healthy and run fast.

He was worried about something else. He'd hidden the damning purchase orders before he'd quit earlier, knowing they'd never let him leave with a box of papers. Not that type. The type that could deliberately do something like this wouldn't hesitate at murder. After all, they were already doing it. The substitutions they had made and the damage that could result was almost certain to result in deaths.

Breathing a sigh of relief as he stopped the pickup, he got out and hurriedly walked over to the metal bin he'd left the box in. Unlocking it, he smiled grimly as he spotted the evidence. Reaching in, he hefted the box out and closed the bin, then turned back to his truck. *Straight to the police,* he thought. *They can take it from here - I've done my part.*

He never felt the bullets as they entered his back.

~~~~~~~~

Simon leaned on the fence watching as his horse - that still sounded strange to him - danced around the track. The sun reflected off the bay coat, the red saddle blanket complementing the stallion's color. Opening day tomorrow, and Simon wanted to hear good things from the men standing next to him. As the jockey reined the horse in a tight circle, he turned hopefully to the larger man.

"That's him. A little skittish, but, uh, what do you think?"

Ben Prince's white head shook slowly. The track owner squinted as he studied the bay Thoroughbred, then looked at Simon. "Horses are like kids. Some are destined to go to Harvard from the day they're born. With a little bit of work, we might get this one into junior college."

Simon felt his face fall slightly as the other man nodded agreement with Prince. Herman was an experienced trainer. He'd know. The old man's face crinkled beneath his hat.

"You ain't really experienced at this game, huh, kid?"

"Well... no." Simon shook his head. "My uncle was a trainer. He passed away and left me the horse. I was gonna sell him but the guys in my cigar club thought it'd be a good idea to sponsor a horse. Besides, we couldn't resist the name." He grinned.

"Little Stogie." The trainer paused for a minute, then continued, his voice dry. "Wasn't it Shakespeare who said 'A rose by any other name is still a rose'?"

Simon laughed. "Yeah, something like that."

Ben turned from watching the bay jog down the track. "So what do you say, Herman? Can you do anything with him?"

The trainer shrugged, his eyes on the horse. "He travels okay. Maybe with a little work... Why not? I like a challenge."

Simon grinned. "Oh, great. Thanks, Herman."

Herman nodded absently. "Hey, he's breaking off."

The racer began to move rapidly down the track, the jockey high in the saddle. As he flew by the three men, Herman clicked his stopwatch. Simon mentally crossed his fingers.

~~~~~~~~

Jim frowned slightly as he and Blair neared the fence lining the track. *Why did I let Simon talk me into coming out and looking at this horse?* He knew the answer, of course. Simon had asked as Jim's friend, not his boss, and Jim found it hard to say no to his friend. Sighing, he resigned himself to the experience.

Blair bounced as they reached the fence and turned to walk alongside it to where they could see Simon standing with two other men. "Sport of kings, huh?"

Jim shrugged. "Yeah. Rather be home watching a basketball game. And this betting on helpless animals thing -- it's ridiculous. I don't know."

"What?" Blair stared at him in amazement. "Helpless animals? What are you talking about? These are superior athletes. These horses are bred for sport. They lead lives of total pampering. The best food, the best medical care, and then they get to go out and stud."

*Yeah, if they run fast enough. Otherwise...* Jim kept his thought to himself, not wanting to get into a debate with Blair. Instead, he opted to yank the other man's chain a bit. Grinning down at him, he asked a mild question. "A little jealous there, Chief?"

Blair grinned back at him. "Yes, I am."

Jim snorted with amusement as they reached their goal.

"Hey, Simon," Blair said.

Simon turned from the fence and nodded to them. "Oh, guys. Look, I'd like you to meet a couple friends of mine. This is Jim Ellison. Blair Sandburg. This is Herman Franklin. Ben Prince."

"How're you doing?" Herman greeted, then turned back to the track.

Jim smiled to himself. He recognized the type.

The white haired man nodded cordially, his eyes assessing.

"Gentlemen," he greeted. Jim nodded in return.

Simon gestured with his cigar. "Herman is Little Stogie's new trainer."

Blair grinned. "Great! Which one is Little Stogie?"

"The one on the backstretch," Ben answered as Simon's arm rose to point to the running horse.

"Ben here owns the track," Simon said. "He's gonna let us use the turf club for the Policeman's Benevolent Association Benefit tonight." Turning to Jim, the police captain spoke again. "Oh, uh, by the way... I'm in charge of putting together a special security detail for the mayor's appearance. He's requested you personally."

Jim frowned in annoyance. "He requested me? Simon, he doesn't even like me." Pulling back from the fence, he continued, hoping it might work, even as he knew it probably wouldn't. "Come on, you know I hate those things."

Simon shrugged. "Jim, nothing I can do about it. He insisted."

Jim turned to Blair, seeing a quickly disguised smile. "You knew about this?"

Blair turned hastily toward the track. "Oh, hey, look at that! Here he comes!" He pointed to Little Stogie as the horse rounded the turn.

*Nice try, Chief,* Jim thought. *But I know you knew.*

A strange noise caught his attention and he turned away from the fence to look at the stadium rising behind them. He tried to isolate it, but couldn't. Blair appeared by his side.

"What's the matter?" the grad student asked quietly.

Jim frowned, then shook his head. "I'm hearing this sound. I can't identify it." He grimaced. "It's annoying as hell."

"Can you describe it?"

Jim looked over at him. "Well, it's a cracking sound like Rice Krispies in a bowl of milk, only softer."

Blair looked thoughtful. "Maybe it's the vibrations of the track or something, you know?"

Jim shrugged. "Maybe."

The two men turned back to the track as Simon's voice rose in encouragement to the horse. "C'mon, Little Stogie. C'mon. C'mon. C'mon, push. C'mon. That's it... that's it!"

Herman clicked the stopwatch as the bay flashed by, looked at it, then showed it to Ben. The track owner grimaced and shook his head. Simon smiled at the trainer, his face hopeful. Herman looked at the stopwatch again.

"Maybe you guys can open a pony ride," he said.

~~~~~~~~

Blair grinned to himself in anticipation of the evening's main event, then nodded an absent greeting to Ben Prince as the man walked past on his way out of the lavishly decorated club. Glancing in the direction he'd come from, Blair spotted H, Rafe, and Joel talking to Herman. The three detectives didn't look happy, and Blair smiled slightly to himself. The trainer had probably just given them the bad news about Little Stogie's chances.

Returning his attention to the attractive woman at his side, he looked at her appreciatively. Upswept hair with a small curl trailing over her shoulder topped a short, tailored, sleeveless black dress. He thought about reaching out a hand to move the wisp of hair aside, then decided it was too soon. Maybe later.

"It's quite an adrenaline rush, isn't it?" he said. "The horses coming around the clubhouse turn..."

A waiter interrupted him to offer a tray of hors d'oeuvres, and Blair waved him aside before continuing, his eyes sparkling as he looked at his companion.

"The crowds going crazy and everything?"

She nodded. "Yeah, I know what you mean. I used to be a jockey."

Blair raised his eyebrows, his eyes widening. "You used to be a jockey?"

"Mm-hmm." She studied him. "Well, now I find my excitement in..." Her voice trailed off and she reached out to adjust his tie. He grinned at her delightedly as she finished. "...in other places."

"Really?" Blair kept his tone light, putting all his flirtation into his eyes.

She smiled at him. "Mm-hmm."

He shook his head. "Well, that's funny 'cause I'm an anthropologist and alternative social environments happen to be my specialty."

Her voice was arch. "Oh?"

"My name's Blair."

"Pat Reynolds," she replied.

He nodded. "Nice to meet you."

"Yeah, you too."

He leaned toward her slightly. "So what do you do now?"

Tilting her head up to him, she smiled again. "I'm vice president of a corporation."

Blair felt his eyes widen again. That he had not expected. "Really?"

She nodded.

"Oh, wow." About to ask which corporation, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Looking around, he met Jim's eyes. The sentinel did not look happy.

"Would you excuse me for a moment?" Jim said to Pat, then looked at Blair again. "Chief, I gotta talk to you."

Jim pulled him away from the woman and led him over to where Simon stood by the bar. "Captain Banks? Sir?"

Simon looked around warily at Jim's call. Blair stifled a grin. "Yeah?" the captain said.

Blair interjected a slight protest about being hauled away from Pat, hoping to delay the blow-up. Both cops ignored him.

"The mayor has no special security detail needed here, sir." Jim glared at Simon.

The black man laughed, shaking his head. "It's a P.D. event, Jim. The place is crawling with cops."

Jim's jaw jumped. "Y-you lied to me."

Simon nodded. Jim turned to Blair, glaring at him accusingly. Blair grinned back at the sentinel.

"And you knew."

Blair's grin grew. "But I didn't lie, though."

Jim waved a finger at him. "But you knew."

"But I didn't lie."

"Yeah, but..." Jim was cut off as the mayor began to speak, calling for attention. Simon lifted a hand, his smile as wide as Blair's. As the man continued to speak, beginning the announcement for Officer of the Year, Jim ignored him, glaring at Blair. Blair just smiled serenely back.

Jim's look of frustration faded into one of surprise and confusion as his name was called and applause filled the room. Walking to the front of the room, he paused before going to the podium. Turning around, he pointed a finger at the cheering Major Crimes unit. "I'm going to get you guys. All of you. You're done."

As Jim turned to walk to the mayor's side, Blair grinned at Simon. They had done it, and all the plotting had paid off beautifully. Simon grinned back at him, and they shook hands happily.

Now if Jim just didn't kill them later...

~~~~~~~~

Jim walked away from the beaming mayor, his face carefully menacing as he approached Blair and Simon. Not for the world would he reveal how much it meant that they would do something like this for him. That would destroy his image, right?

Simon raised his hands to ward Jim off as the sentinel paced toward him, and Jim snorted inwardly in amusement at the slightly apprehensive look. Blair bounced slightly, chuckling. *The kid knows me too well.*

"Sorry about the deception, Jim," Simon said. "I just wanted it to be a surprise."

"It was that, sir," Jim answered, then stopped talking, frowning slightly. Turning away from the other two, he moved to the window, his eyes glancing upward as he tried to identify the sounds he was hearing.

Simon and Blair came up behind him, the captain's voice rough in Jim's ears as he asked what was going on. Jim flinched as a scream rang out and a body plummeted past the window to land with a sickening thud on the concrete below.

Cursing under his breath, the sentinel turned to go downstairs, the other two men moving with him.

~~~~~~~~

Cops swarmed over the scene, every department wanting a piece of this case. A long line of limos waited for permission to leave, their occupants gawking at the crime scene. Jim suppressed his frustration as he and Blair approached Simon. The captain was on the phone, his body tense as he promised to deal with the media. As he hung up, Jim stopped and waited for his attention. When Simon looked at him, Jim nodded. "I think he was pushed."

Simon frowned. "Do you have any evidence to back that up?"

Jim looked upwards. "They were right above my head, Simon. I heard what sounded like a struggle -- some muffled sounds, maybe somebody trying to yell."

"You were just up there - find anything?"

Jim shook his head. "Nothing conclusive. Just some possible scuff marks." He sighed. "I know what I heard, Simon."

Simon growled. "This is just great. Can you imagine the field day the tabloids are gonna have with this? Track owner murdered at a party hosted by some of the highest-ranking members of Cascade P.D. Not to mention the mayor, city council... Look. Do me a favor. Keep a lid on this until you can bring me something concrete."

As Simon talked, Jim looked around, his eyes drifting over the horrified and fascinated party-goers. His gaze stopped as he spotted a familiar face and his jaw tightened in unwelcome emotion. Feeling cold, he met the other man's eyes. Nodding a distracted agreement with Simon's request, he felt his jaw tense as the dark-haired man began to walk toward him, calling his name.

Taking a few steps forward, he nodded. "Steven," he said curtly.

The younger man gave him a small smile. "It's amazing how two guys can live in the same town and never run into each other."

"Yeah," Jim replied. "And suddenly the world gets very small." He watched as the smile disappeared. "You were at the party?"

Steven nodded. "I work here. Our company has a long-term lease on the property."

A woman walked up behind Steven and Jim recognized her as the one Blair had been talking to earlier. Part of him welcomed the interruption, the other part wanting to scream at her to go away. She smiled at him. "We take care of all the maintenance and track operations in exchange for exclusive rights to the races here. Ben got a percentage of the gate and concessions." Holding out her hand, she introduced herself. "Pat Reynolds."

He nodded. "Jim Ellison." Meeting Steven's eyes again, he looked away. "We'll be in touch."

Walking away from the two, he could feel eyes staring after him. Ignoring them, he made his way to where Blair was talking to H and Rafe. Putting a hand on Blair's shoulder, he felt a flash of - something - as Blair grinned up at him happily. Pushing the unnamed emotion away, he nodded. "Chief." Looking at the other detectives, he nodded again. "See you guys later."

Rafe and H waved acknowledgement as he pulled Blair away. They walked along the fence toward the truck, and he felt relieved when Blair didn't ask any questions. Maybe he hadn't picked up on...

"Who was that guy?"

He sighed as his hopes were dashed.

"My brother," he said shortly.

Blair stopped walking for a moment, staring at him. "You never told me you had a brother."

Jim kept moving, not wanting to talk about it. "There's nothing to tell."

Blair caught up with him. "What do you mean there's nothing to tell, Jim? I mean, your sentinel abilities could be hereditary. What if he's got it too?"

"All right," Jim replied, his voice dry. "We'll pack him up and ship him off to Peru for eighteen months, see what happens."

Blair laughed. "Well, you know," he said, "I could apply for a grant."

Caught off guard by the comment, Jim laughed, the blunt honesty of the grad student's words releasing some of the tension he felt. But only some.

~~~~~~~~

The next day was bright and sunny, perfect for the opening day of a racetrack. Weaving their way through the crowd, Jim and Blair spotted Simon and headed in the captain's direction. Herman was behind him, talking to H, Rafe, and Joel. All four cops were in their red smoking jackets, showing their support of the cigar club's longshot.

Simon nodded as Jim and Blair approached, and Jim nodded back. Blair bounced at his side, a program and betting card clutched tightly in his hand. Jim smiled at the anthropologist, knowing he thought he had some kind of betting system down. He shrugged to himself. Blair wouldn't bet more than he could afford to lose.

"Hey, glad you could make it," Simon said. "You know, it looks like Prince might have been a suicide after all. Medical examiner found out he was dying of pancreatic cancer."

Blair shivered in sympathy, his tone soft. "Man, that's almost understandable, huh?"

Simon nodded. "They found a medical report in his pocket dated yesterday morning. Maybe he just couldn't take it."

An angry voice interrupted as Herman stormed over to them. "Hey," he said. "That's like saying 'The Triple Crown winner is afraid to run.' Ben was a fighter. He wouldn't ever just give up."

Simon shook his head. "I'm sorry, Herman. I really didn't know him that well."

Herman nodded, his face set with pain. "He and I went back 50 years together. We met in a foxhole in France. When we came home, he bought this track. It didn't look like much in those days, but he loved racing and he wanted to be a part of it."

Jim looked at the distraught man. "You have any idea why someone might want him dead?"

"Jim!"

Jim ignored Simon, focusing on the confused Herman. The older man looked up at him in disbelief. "Why would anybody want him dead?"

"Excuse us," Simon said, pulling Jim away. "Hey, I thought I told you to keep a lid on this."

"With all due respect, Captain, that autopsy report is just a prelim." The sentinel looked off into space for a minute, then met his captain's eyes. "Uh, I'd like to continue with my investigation."

Simon shook his head. "Look, even with your heightened senses, you're not infallible."

"Neither is the medical examiner."

"You're not going to let go of this, are you?" Simon sighed. "All right, look, keep turning over rocks. Just tread softly, okay?"

Jim smirked at him. "Don't I always?"

His captain laughed. "Yeah," he said wryly.

An announcement calling for the riders to mount up came over the PA. Herman spoke up as Jim and Simon walked back to where he and Blair had been joined by Rafe. "That's us," the trainer said. "I want a winner this time."

The younger detective grinned. "Go for it," he said.

Blair chuckled, then waved his betting ticket in the air. "I got to get a bet down."

Simon looked surprised. "Blair, look, you don't have to make a bet just 'cause..."

Blair shook his head, his eyes wide. "What, are you kidding? I've been doing some handicapping. Flashbang's a sure thing at seven-to-one." He stopped at Simon's hurt look. Jim stifled a grin. "Look," Blair said, "your horse looks good, but I got a sure thing."

Turning, he walked away, headed for the betting booths, quickly swallowed by the swirl of people racing to get their bets placed before post was called. Simon opened his mouth as he stared after him, then closed it again without saying a word. About to make a comment, Jim stopped as his phone rang. "Excuse me, sir," he said.

Moving away a few steps, he answered the phone. "Ellison."

"Jim, it's Serena Chang. I've been working with the security tape you asked me to look at. The computer enhancement clearly shows a face reflected in the glass."

"You got a clear picture?"

"Enough for a positive ID," Serena replied confidently.

"Of Ben Prince?"

"Nope," the forensics specialist replied. "Definitely somebody else. I'll modem it to your laptop."

"All right," Jim said, starting to walk toward his truck. "I'll take a look at it."

~~~~~~~~

Blair scanned the stands, grinning as he caught sight of the distinctive red smoking jackets the four cops were wearing. Running down the wide steps, he slid into their box, weaving his way past Joel to get between the two police captains. Nodding at Rafe and H, he sat down.

"Hello, boys," he greeted, a chorus of 'Hey's' answering him. Simon leaned over.

"Get your bets down all right?"

Joel harrumphed. "What's this nag he's betting on called again?"

"Flash in the pan?" H suggested, making the other three cops laugh.

Blair shook his head. "Come on, guys, let's not be bitter, let's not be bitter. I put some money down on Little Stogie, too."

"Really?" Simon asked, his voice surprised and pleased. Blair grinned.

"To show."

The cops growled at him, and he laughed, then settled in to watch the post parade. Finally the horses were in place and the race began. As the announcer began his practiced patter, the four men surrounding Blair cheered wildly, shouting encouragement to Little Stogie, who had taken an early lead.

The horses rounded the first turn and Blair spotted a pair of binoculars. Grabbing them, he focused on the pack, only to have the glasses taken out of his hand by Simon. Shrugging, he opened his own glass case. Stogie was still in the lead, and Blair shook his head. Maybe he'd hold on, but the grad student doubted it. The loud cries of jubilation from the men around him made it plain they thought he would, though.

Suddenly the announcer's voice cut through the cheers. "Twice Johnny overtaking..."

Blair grinned. "Uh-oh!" he said. "What's happening to Stogie?"

Simon's hands were gripping hard on the rail in front of them. "Come on! No! No! Come on!"

"Who is that? Who is that?" H's tone was disbelieving, and Joel groaned an answer.

"Flash in the pan!"

Blair grinned as Stogie fell further back, keeping an eye on the horse he'd backed. Flashbang was making his move, the jockey steering him past the pack to come down the homestretch at a flat out run. Simon growled in frustration, and Blair laughed.

"Whip him! Whip him!" the police captain yelled, the words rising above the loudly cheering crowd, and Blair filed that away for future blackmail purposes. Stogie was in third, and Blair couldn't resist.

"Looks like somebody's getting tired."

Simon groaned and sat down.

"Flashbang!" Blair yelled, his grin widening. "Stogie got swallowed."

The horses headed for the wire, Little Stogie struggling to stay in third. The announcer's voice came clearly over the cheering crowd's noise. "Twice Johnny. Flashbang. Flashbang and Twice Johnny. Flashbang by a nose...!"

"There we go! Well, boys..." Blair pulled out his betting stub, staring at it in mock surprise. "Oh, look, this is worth some money now, isn't it?" Ducking past Joel, he headed for the betting window, laughing all the way. As he left, he spotted Rafe tearing his ticket in half and throwing the pieces over his shoulders. Blair laughed harder. They should have asked him for advice, he thought smugly.

As Blair went to redeem his winnings, his sentinel sat in the Expedition, staring in disbelieving shock at the picture on the computer screen. Finally he wet his lips and spoke, the name forcing its way through stiff lips.

"Steven?"


~~~~~ Act II ~~~~~~


Steven wondered why he'd ever been happy to see his brother walk into his office. For a brief, all too fleeting moment he'd believed that Jim was there just to see him, to maybe talk through some of what had happened all those years ago. But as he stood at the window, staring out at the racetrack, he realized that would never happen. Jim would never forgive him, never trust him.

And maybe he deserved that. But damn it, it hurt.

His brother was still talking, and he forced himself to listen to the words instead of focusing on the turmoil inside himself.

"You were on the office balcony right after Ben Prince fell to his death. I just want to know why you didn't come forward. Steven, Steven, you were seen on the surveillance camera for god's sake."

Steven turned around to look at his brother, then walked across the room to sit at his desk. "What difference does it make? Ben committed suicide."

Jim shook his head. "I think Ben Prince was murdered."

"That's ridiculous. He was old and sick and angry and he had lost control of his track. It's the only thing he ever cared about." A sudden cold suspicion ran through Steven. "Are you accusing me of something here, Jim?"

"What were you doing on that balcony?" was his brother's only reply. Jim wouldn't even look at him.

Steven sighed. "Ben was threatening to file a lawsuit against the company. I saw him go up there. I went after him. I figured maybe I could talk him out of filing the lawsuit. But when I got outside, he was gone."

"And you didn't see anybody else?"

Shaking his head, Steven looked down at his desk. "No, and now that he's dead, I feel real guilty about pushing his buttons."

"You sure that's all you pushed?"

Looking up in shock, Steven stared at his brother's cold face. Standing up, he walked around the desk to stand right in front of Jim, deliberately invading the other man's personal space. "Oh, this is great," he spat. "I run into my big brother for the first time in years and he accuses me of murder."

Jim's eyes flickered, then he met Steven's angrily. "What would you like me to believe, Steven, huh? You were the last one to see Ben alive. In my book, you're a prime suspect."

"'Cop of the year,'" Steven quoted. Looking his brother up and down, he let his eyes show his anger and disgust as his gaze returned to Jim's face. "Just how many heads did you have to bust to get that little honor, bro?"

Jim flinched at the sarcasm Steven put into the last word, and Steven felt a surge of satisfaction. Jim hadn't changed. Neither of them had, apparently. Still all too ready to believe the worst of each other.

The cop nodded once, his eyes icy cold. "You just keep available for questioning. I'll be in touch."

He left the room, shutting the door firmly behind him, not quite slamming it. Steven stared after him, partly angry, partly wondering where it had all gone wrong. How could his own brother think him capable of murder?

Sighing, he turned back to his work, all too sure of the answer to that question.

~~~~~~~~

Jim stopped walking as he spotted Blair standing at the betting window. The man behind the counter was counting out money, handing it to Blair as he reached eighty dollars. Jim shook his head. The kid's system had paid off after all.

Waiting as Blair accepted the money and thanked the man, he mulled over what had just happened. Steven had looked so shocked and hurt. Could it be an act? Jim didn't want to believe his brother was capable of murder, but - the evidence pointed that way.

He sighed deeply. He'd do his job. That was what he was there for. Pushing the thoughts aside, he smiled as Blair bounced up to him, grinning widely.

"Hey, Jim, where you been?"

Jim smiled at him. "I was taking care of some business." He nodded at the money still in Blair's hand. "I see your pony paid off."

"Seven-to-one, my friend, seven-to-one." Tucking the money away, Blair opened the program book. "The Sandburg system is foolproof. And it looks like Pig and Son's a sure thing in the next race."

"Sandburg...we'd like to have a word with you."

Jim looked up as Simon's familiar voice rang out, stifling a smile as the line of red-coated men approached. Blair's head shot up as he heard the captain's gruff voice. The Cigar Club walked nearer and Blair ducked behind Jim.

The sentinel took a small step forward. "Don't you guys have anything better to do? All the kid did was make a bet on a horse."

Obviously taking courage from Jim's action, Blair leaned out around him, his laugh rising. "Yeah, yeah, yeah, the right horse," he gloated.

Jim snorted. "Remind me to call you when we need a hostage negotiated, huh?"

Moving away from the grad student, he left him to his fate, listening absently as the other four cops surrounded Blair, snatching the program out of his hands after going on about the expenses of maintaining a race horse. Hearing them placing their bets on the horse Blair had picked, he tuned out the conversation, that annoying cracking nudging at his ears again. He studied the grandstand, wondering where it was coming from. If he knew that, maybe he could figure out what it was, and it would stop bugging him so much.

Blair walked up behind him, chuckling softly. "I can't believe those guys, man." He looked at Jim, his eyes narrowed. "What's up? You hearing that noise again?"

Jim nodded distractedly. "Yeah. I've been hearing it the whole time. Sometimes it's more intense, other times it's quiet, but this is different. It's coming from this direction down here somewhere."

Gesturing toward the grandstand, he opened up his vision, tying it to the sound and zooming in. Then he cursed and began running toward the stands, his eyes fixed on the crumbling concrete pillar. Vaguely aware of Blair and the other cops following him, he reached for his badge as he ran.

"Hey! Move away! Cascade P.D.!" A woman carrying a toddler was standing in front of the pillar, and Jim could hear the cracking, could see the concrete shifting. "Hey!" he yelled again. "Get away from that pillar!" They both stared at him without comprehension and he ran faster.

Finally within reach, he grabbed the woman's arm, pulling her away from the pillar just before a huge slab of concrete landed where they had been standing. He shielded them from flying pieces, breathing deeply in relief. The little boy began to cry, and his mother shushed him, staring at Jim with frightened eyes. "You okay?" he asked, and she nodded silently, holding her child close. Nodding, he turned away from them, joining the other men as they stared at the exposed center of the concrete support beam.

*Oh, Christ,* Jim thought as he saw the body curled within the pillar. *Please let Steven not know who this is.*

~~~~~~~~

Blair stood back from the others, watching Jim. Something was up, and the anthropologist had a good idea what it was. How to get Jim to talk about it, now that was a different matter. He had no idea how to accomplish that.

The dead man had been removed from the concrete he'd been entombed in and been wrapped in a body bag. Forensics had taken over, and as the body was taken away, Simon headed over to where the corporation officers stood. Jim's jaw muscle jumped and Blair nodded to himself. *Oh, yeah,* he thought. *This is bad.*

He took a few steps forward to stand at Jim's side as Simon talked to Pat and Steven, offering a silent support. Jim's brother had easily identified the dead man. He had no idea why it bothered Jim so, but it obviously did. Construction foreman for the renovations, huh. Of course, Steven would know who that was. So why was Jim so tense?

He decided to deal with it later as Simon walked over to where he and Jim were standing. The captain looked grim.

"Hell of a place to end up, isn't it?" he said.

Jim nodded. "Probably never knew what hit him. Two shots in the back and then they dumped him in."

Simon sighed, then obviously decided to move on to another topic. "So, Jim, that's your brother, huh?"

The sentinel's reply was bland, noncommittal. "Yeah."

Blair's eyes narrowed, and he realized that later might be too late to deal with whatever was bothering the sentinel. "I could sort of see the family resemblance," he offered, testing the waters.

Jim's reply was icy. "I never could."

The sentinel walked away, his strides rapid. Blair looked at Simon for a moment, shrugging at the puzzled look he got in return, then followed Jim. Now obviously wasn't the time.

The drive to the station was quiet and Blair worried away at the problem. He was nowhere near a solution as they pulled into the parking garage, and, with a sigh as he got out of the truck, he pushed it aside. They walked through the garage to the elevators, meeting Simon as they waited for the elevator to arrive. Jim didn't say a word.

Finally the silent car reached the sixth floor. The three men stepped off, and Simon led the way toward his office. Jim abruptly spoke after a few steps, startling Blair.

"Winslow's killer probably figured the body would never be found."

Simon nodded. "Like Jimmy Hoffa."

"Double-pouring is what made the column unstable," the sentinel said, his expression thoughtful as they entered Simon's office.

"Why would anybody want to kill him?"

Simon's brow furrowed as he asked the question. Blair thought of the plots of all the gangster movies he'd seen. "Uh, maybe he knew something."

"About what?"

Blair shrugged at the gruff words. "I-I don't know."

The captain scowled. "Sandburg, if you don't have anything useful to contribute, why don't you just sit down?"

"Well, I did have a hot tip on a horse in the fifth tomorrow, but..." He shrugged and sat down, smirking at Simon's glare. Jim ignored the interaction, his mind focused on the case.

"The ME's final report came in, Simon," the sentinel said. "Prince had bruises on his body that were inconsistent with the fall."

"Hey, come, on, Jim," Simon protested, taking his seat. "That doesn't prove anything. He could've tripped getting out of the shower."

Jim shook his head. His voice was firm. "It happened on his balcony. And we have a suspect. This is an enhanced image taken from a security camera."

He handed a picture to Simon, who looked up at him in disbelief. "Isn't this your brother?"

Blair drew a deep breath. *Uh-oh.*

The detective shrugged, his voice even. "He admitted to being there."

Simon looked over at Blair, his eyes obviously asking if Blair knew anything about this. Blair shook his head minutely. The captain turned back to Jim as he continued to speak.

"He went out to talk to Prince, but when he got there, Prince had vanished. He claims nobody else was there."

Simon leaned back in his chair. "Claims? What, you don't believe him? Come on, Jim, he's your brother."

The sentinel's eyes flickered. "It's a long story, Simon," he said. "The fact is, I really don't know him all that well. At this point, he's just another suspect to me."

*Oh, we're really going to have to talk about this, Jim,* Blair thought. *This is so not good, man.* His eyes narrowed as he studied the other man. Jim was closed off tighter than Blair had seen him in weeks, maybe months. Whatever was going on here, it was really hurting Jim.

Simon sighed. "All right, well, you have opportunity. What about motive?"

Jim shrugged. " Uh, I...don't know. I'm working on that."

"So you're willing to implicate your brother on one piece of circumstantial evidence to tie him to a crime that we can't even prove took place?"

Jim's voice was defensive. "Look, until this afternoon, I haven't had a conversation with him in the last 15 years."

"Look," Simon said, leaning forward, his hands on the desk top as he stared at Jim. "If there is a murder, he's definitely a suspect. But come on, Jim, he's family. If this gets serious, I'm gonna have to pull you off the case."

Jim looked down, then met Simon's gaze. "I hope you don't do that, Simon."

The captain sighed again. "Jim, I tell you what -- why don't you go home and get some rest, huh? This whole thing will look better in the morning. Trust me."

The sentinel looked unconvinced, even as he nodded agreement. "I hope so, sir."

He turned and walked out of the office. Blair met Simon's worried eyes, and nodded slightly. *I'll do what I can,* he promised silently, then followed his sentinel. Again.

~~~~~~~~

Pat Reynolds grimaced as she looked around the dingy room where she was waiting for the man she had to meet. She shuddered at the sound of something skittering behind the wall. She hated this. She really did.

For a moment her mind flashed on Steven Ellison's disbelieving face earlier as she'd told him to tender his resignation. He'd do it, of course. He wasn't stupid, and he wouldn't risk his stock options by making her fire him. He was right, though. No one would ever believe that he'd been involved in the construction problems - any of them, including that idiot Winslow. That was why she had to do this.

Why, oh why hadn't Winslow just taken the bribe she'd offered? It would have made this so much simpler.

She shrugged abruptly. It didn't matter. Pulling an envelope from her purse, she rifled through the contents, making sure she'd brought the right amount. As she finished, the door opened and the man she was waiting for arrived. She hid her revulsion as the bearded Hispanic crossed the room.

"Hey, Betty," he said, grinning at her glare. He had to know she hated that name. "After I took care of Prince, you said you never wanted to see my face again," he continued. "You said that after Winslow, too. It's not that I don't find your company enjoyable, I just get a little confused."

Her voice was cold. "I have another job for you."

"Of course you do," he murmured. "It's an addiction."

She handed him the envelope. "Get rid of Steven Ellison."

Taking the money, he grinned lazily at her, then turned and left. She watched him go, her mind in turmoil. If anyone had been watching, they might have seen haunted eyes. Briefly. Then they would only have seen determination. You do what you have to do, after all. Whatever you have to do.


~~~~~~ Act III ~~~~~~


Steven's lip's tightened as he looked at the door into Pat Reynold's office. She'd fired him. Oh, it would be all prettied up with his neatly typed letter of resignation, of course. He wasn't a fool, and with the merger coming, he couldn't afford to lose those stock options. But still. He'd been fired.

He hated to think what the old man would say about that. 'Ellisons don't get fired, Stevie.' He could hear the words now. They made his gut churn.

Putting a hand out to open the door, he entered the darkened room. Crossing over to the desk, he set down the box he'd emptied his own desk into and flipped the light switch on Pat's desk lamp. Putting his letter of resignation on the blotter, he signed it. *As instructed,* he thought bitterly.

But why? It made no sense. Pat knew as well as he did that the dead man had nothing to do with him. She was running scared. From what? Sitting down, he pulled open her desk drawers. He knew enough about what should be there to find out what was really going on.

A few minutes later, he had his answer. He'd been set up. And the only person who could help him, the person he'd have once gone to above all others, thought him capable of murder. *This is great. I'm screwed.*

He sat and stared at the phone for a long time, trying to decide what to do. Run? Or trust? Neither one sat well with an Ellison.

~~~~~~~~

Jim slid the key into the lock, Blair's voice washing over him as the anthropologist continued the one-sided conversation he'd started as soon as they left the station. *I should get back with my brother, eh, Chief?* He shook his head. Blair didn't understand.

Opening the door, he stepped back to let Blair go in first. The student gave him a funny look, then walked ahead of him. "Come on, buddy," Blair coaxed as he hung up his jacket. "People change, man. I mean, look at you. Your experience in Peru -- it changed you, right? So maybe your brother changed, too."

Jim tossed his own coat onto the hook and walked into the kitchen. Grabbing a beer out of the fridge, he went into the living room. Blair was standing in between the two rooms, leaning against the support pillar as he studied Jim. The sentinel could almost feel the eyes upon his back as he stood by the CD player.

"Oh, man." Blair's voice was quiet, full of compassion. Jim closed his eyes briefly. "Whatever he did, it must have been pretty good, huh? All right, look, if you don't want to tell me, I'll understand, but let me just say one more thing. When you get something out into the open, sometimes it's not as bad as you originally thought it was."

*It's not that easy, Chief.*

He pulled a CD out of the rack at random, slipping it into the player and turning the machine on. Stepping over to the balcony windows, he took a swallow of his beer, then stared out at the brightly lit city. The soft music played over his senses, and he sighed. Blair deserved to know why Jim had been biting his head off all day.

He began to pace, needing the movement to help him reveal something he'd never told anyone. He could hear Blair's heart rate speed up slightly as he began to talk.

"My dad raised us 'cause my mom was gone. He was always pitting us against one another, you know. He was really into the competition thing. One year he bought season tickets to the Jags. I mean, he only bought two. So whoever was in favor that week would get to go. I know it's a little thing..."

Blair shifted his weight, then moved into the living room, sitting on the edge of the table. His voice was calm, but Jim could sense the agitation his guide was hiding. "That doesn't sound little to me. That sounds pretty harsh, man."

"I guess he figured the competition would toughen us up for the real world, but in reality, it just drove us further apart." He fell silent briefly, remembering the little brother who used to tag after him turning into the sullen teen who wanted nothing to do with the older boy. Setting the beer down, he paced some more. "My dad had this car. A '65 Cobra." He stopped and looked at Blair. "You know that ride?"

Blair nodded, his eyes gleaming. "Oh, yeah, yeah."

Appreciation was evident in his reply and Jim allowed himself a small smile at the classic car buff. "If my dad was in a good mood, he'd let me drive it every now and again, but only when he was with me. Once I backed it out of the garage myself. Out of nowhere pops up my old man. I thought he would split a gasket. He wanted to rip my head open, man. It was so crazy. He forbid me to even go near the car again. He was going to go on this business trip. Japan, Australia -- I don't know where it was, but he had promised Steven that he was going to take him on this trip if he kept his grades up. One day Steven comes home with a 'B'." He kept moving, short strides carrying him across the room and back. "A 'B'," he said in disgust. "The old man says 'Steven, sorry, the deal's off. Jimmy, pack your bags.'"

"So he punishes him by rewarding you."

Blair sounded noncommittal, but Jim knew better. He could hear the anger beneath the smooth tone. He stopped walking, facing the other man squarely. Blair's face was calm, a deep sympathy lurking in his eyes. Jim met those eyes squarely.

"Yeah. Steven was pretty pissed off. He was jealous. He was really hurt. I guess he wanted to get the old man back or maybe he was trying to get me back, but he took a crowbar to the Cobra."

Blair winced slightly, and Jim felt a burst of warmth. That wince may have had a little to do with the car, but he was willing to bet most of it was for him. *Funny,* he thought. *I'm closer to this man than I ever was to Stevie. Who'd have thought it?* He shook his head, then continued his story. "The old man must have figured I'd taken it out for a joyride and dinged it up. I said, 'I had nothing to do with this, Pops.' He just wouldn't believe me. I wasn't going to rat Steven out. He never came forward and told the truth."

Blair stood up and walked around the couch. "So, he got to go on the trip?"

"Yeah," Jim said, "and I got to go on one of my own."

Blair's voice was thoughtful. "Right. Join the Army, see the world."

Blair sat down, and Jim suddenly realized that he was exhausted. Sinking down on the loveseat, he nodded. "Something like that. The bottom line was that I realized that I couldn't change the relationship I had with my old man. It was what it was. I couldn't make him trust me. We just couldn't communicate."

"What about Steven?"

The grad student's voice wasn't at all judgmental, but Jim suddenly felt like he was on the defensive again. "What about Steven?" he asked, more sharply than he'd intended. Blair shook his head slightly.

"I mean, Jim, we all make mistakes, you know. Kids do stupid things when they're scared. Once when I was 14, I went to this store and I stole this microscope, right?" The disbelief Jim felt must have shown on his face, because Blair shrugged. "Yes, a microscope, Jim. I was a science nerd." He laughed nervously, then went on. "Anyway, um... the cops caught me and I swore up and down that I'd paid for the thing and I kept lying and getting in deeper and deeper and finally I just couldn't take it anymore and I had to come out and tell the truth. But by that time, nobody was listening."

"What's your point here?"

"My point is, I saw the look on Steven's face the other night when you two ran into each other and he was really glad to see you. You ever think that maybe you're the one that stopped listening?"

Jim couldn't deal with this. Not now, not ever. He stood abruptly, ignoring the surprised disappointment on Blair's face. "I'm going to go out and take a walk, all right?"

As he headed to the door, the phone rang and he changed course to answer it. "Yeah? Ellison."

A voice he'd never thought to hear on the other end came through. "Jim, it's Steven. We have to talk. It's important."

He sighed. "Steven, it's been a long day."

Blair's head went up and he stared at Jim, who avoided his eyes. *I'm not doing this.*

Steven drew in a long breath. "I'm sitting here with a stack of documents that proves everything you think about me is true."

"Oh." Jim was silent for a moment. "Then why aren't you calling your lawyer?"

"Come on, man," his brother protested. "It's all a lie. Look, I'm at the track..." The words cut off and Jim waited for a moment.

"Steven?"

"Hold on a second."

Jim listened through the phone, hearing footsteps and a door open and close. He pulled his hearing back just as his brother spoke into the phone again.

"Jim, you still there?"

"Yeah," Jim answered. He was beginning to wonder. Why had Steven called him, after the meeting they'd had earlier? "What's going on?"

"Just meet me here," Steven replied. "You don't believe my story, you'll have more than enough evidence to arrest me."

Jim's eyebrows went up. "Oh, you're willing to take that chance?"

Steven sighed. "I'll be waiting in the executive parking area under the grandstand."

Jim nodded. "I'll be there in 20 minutes."

Hanging up the phone, he crossed the room to grab his jacket. Flicking a glance at Blair, he nodded questioningly toward the door. Blair held up his hands and shook his head, smiling. Jim left the loft alone, smiling to himself. Blair probably wouldn't get what he thought was happening - a reconciliation. But knowing that the grad student was pulling for him helped. More than he'd have thought, actually.

After the quiet drive across town, he pulled into the parking area. It seemed deserted, but there was another car. Parking the Expedition, he got out and started to walk toward the other vehicle. "Steven?" he called out. "Steven?"

Suddenly the car's lights turned on, blinding him. He heard a gun cocked, and shots rang out. Returning fire as he squinted through the dazzle, he had to take out the lights and the windshield before the shots coming at him stopped. Running to the car, he pulled the driver's door open. A man was lying half collapsed across the seat, and he pulled the figure upright. He gasped in shock as he recognized Steven. Blood was running from a wound across his brother's forehead, and Jim breathed a sigh of relief that it wasn't any worse.

Then again. A rush of rage filled him, surprising him with its strength even as he marveled at its familiarity. Someone had hurt his baby brother. That someone would pay. *Even if it was me?* a voice nudged at him. He ignored it. He might have shot Steven, but someone else had been pulling the strings.

"Steven..." he murmured, holstering his gun as he looked over his brother. The head wound seemed to be the only one.

"Jim..." Steven replied groggily.

"What the hell's going on here?" Grabbing his cell phone, he dialed 911.

"I'm not sure," Steven answered, his voice a little stronger.

"You hit anywhere else?"

Steven shook his head, then winced. "No, I don't think so."

A cheerful voice answered the phone and Jim barked into it. "Yeah. This is Detective James Ellison. I'm at Lastings Park -- I need an ambulance. We got a gunshot victim. Executive parking."

He closed the phone as the woman assured him the ambulance was on its way, then scanned around the parking lot, still crouched beside the car. A glint of light caught his attention, and he focused in on it to see a gun barrel. He ducked as a shot rang out, pulling Steven down. The bullet pinged off the car frame and Jim returned fire.

"Hold it! Police!" he yelled. Standing up, he told Steven to stay put before running off to try to catch the gunman. The lighter built man was far ahead of him, ducking around a corner before Jim could get close enough to get a clear look at him. He heard shouting as he ran after the man, and he came around the corner just in time to see an older man pushed against the wall. The car he'd been about to get into peeled away, screeching as it turned toward the exit. Swearing, Jim shot after the vehicle a couple of times, then turned to the civilian. *Stogie's trainer? What's he doing here?*

"You all right?" he asked.

The horse trainer stared at him angrily. "The son of a bitch stole my car!"

Jim smiled grimly, recognizing the fright behind the furious words. "Come on," he said gently. "We'll do what we can to get it back, but there's a hurt man back there."

Herman followed him, muttering under his breath. Jim shook his head as they walked back to Steven. *This day just keeps getting worse,* he thought as they waited for the ambulance.


~~~~~~ Act IV ~~~~~~


Following his brother, Steven Ellison stared at the stiff back in front of him and sighed internally. He really wasn't up to this. His head ached, and he hurt all over from the hospital bed he'd been kept on most of the night. Now he had to deal with Jim. And he didn't know if Jim would believe him. It was a hell of a thing, when your own brother might be the one to arrest you.

Jim turned into an office, asking the one person in the room to leave for a moment. The man, a heavy-set older cop in uniform, agreed cheerfully, gathering up his papers. When he'd left, Jim turned to face Steven.

"Sit down," he ordered, the tone in sharp contrast to the friendly words he'd used toward the other cop.

Steven didn't care at that point. His head was pounding, and he sank gratefully into the chair behind the desk, trying to push away the dizziness. His hand rose, and he touched the bandage over the wound. "If I had been sitting up straight," he said quietly, "you probably would've killed me."

Was that a flash of guilt in his big brother's eyes? Jim started pacing, not looking at Steven.

"I had no other choice," he replied. "I had to protect myself." He stopped pacing and looked down at Steven, his voice harsh. "You know all about that."

Steven blinked. *Still? After all these years?* he thought. *This has to be about that damn car. God, I wish...*

He shook his head. "And you're still bearing a grudge." The words were matter-of-fact.

Jim shrugged. "Right now I'm not feeling much of anything. You say you have no idea who that other guy was?"

Steven shook his head again. "Pat must have hired him. She's the one behind all of this. I figured it out about an hour before I called you. Now, listen to this. Winslow quits on the 24th. I know that because I saw him leave. But in his personnel file, there's a typed resignation signed and dated on the 25th."

"The next day," Jim mused, his voice considering. Steven nodded.

"Right. Now, if you check the construction records, you'll see that that pillar was also poured on the 25th."

Jim sat on the corner of the desk. "But he's already dead."

Reaching out his hand, Steven offered Jim the papers he'd collected the night before. Jim took them, leafing through as Steven spoke. "Now, this is a record of all the funds spent on the grandstand renovations. Pat was using my computer access number to change the purchase orders after I had entered them. Substituting cheaper materials for what was in the architect's specs. But the full amount of money authorized by the company was actually spent."

Jim's eyes narrowed, and he looked back at Steven. "So what you're saying is that she was skimming money off the top."

Steven sighed, then nodded. "Right. Now, our company is about to merge with a big European conglomerate. Pat's stock options would be worth millions. If she's caught stealing and fired, she could lose it all."

"How does Ben Prince factor into all this?"

"His legal action against the company could hold up the merger indefinitely. Now, if you're right about him being pushed off that balcony, Pat is probably behind that, too."

Jim's face was unreadable as he looked at Steven, then back at the papers. "Let's say this is all true. This does not look good for you, either. These printouts...they implicate you in an embezzlement scheme. And since you have stock options in the company, when this merger goes down, you'll make a pretty penny. You follow that logic? You were on the balcony minutes after Ben Prince falls to his death. You just admitted that he was in the way of the merger. I've got opportunity and I've got motive."

Steven took a deep breath. "And I've got trouble."

"Yeah," Jim said. "Big time."

They sat in silence for a moment, then Jim sighed. "You're free to go, Steven. Just - don't leave town, okay?"

"I didn't do it, Jim."

Steven wanted his brother to believe him, but couldn't tell what Jim thought. The older man just looked at him, then stood up. "We've got a couple of people tailing you, Steven. Just in case something happens."

Steven stood up, catching himself as a wave of dizziness hit. "You mean to make sure I don't run off, right?" he asked bitterly.

Jim didn't answer. Steven nodded once, then left the office. He didn't look back.

~~~~~~~~

Jim walked into Simon's office, then glanced back in time to see Steven exit the bullpen. Simon came up alongside him.

"All right," the captain said, "you brought him in. Do you believe him?"

Jim sighed. "I don't know what to believe," he admitted.

"What does your heart tell you?"

Simon's tone was gentle, and Jim sighed again. "My heart tells me that he's my brother. He wouldn't try to kill me or anybody else."

"Look, Jim, if you want me to take you off the case, just say the word."

Jim turned and looked at his captain. No, his friend. Concern was clear in Simon's eyes as he looked back at Jim. The detective shook his head. "No," he answered. "No, no, I'm fine."

"You sure?"

"Yeah." Jim smiled briefly. "Appreciate it."

The quiet moment was broken as Blair stuck his head through the open door. He shot a look at Jim, his eyes worried, but relaxed as Jim smiled at him. "Hey, guys," he said, "why don't you come on out here? We think we got something."

Jim glanced at Simon, who shrugged. Together, they followed the grad student into the bullpen, crossing the room to H's desk. Herman sat behind the desk, looking at a book of mug shots. "What's up?" Jim asked.

"That's the guy," Herman said, his finger stabbing down at a picture.

"You sure?"

Herman nodded. Simon sighed. "Tony Grant."

"You know him?" Blair asked.

"Yeah," Simon replied. "He's a second-rate hood. He'll kill anybody for a hundred bucks."

"You think he knows you saw him?" Jim asked Herman. The trainer nodded.

"Looked the little weasel right in the eyes."

"Thanks, Herman," Simon said. "You've been a great help." He pulled Jim a few steps away, Blair following. "Look, Jim," the captain continued, "if he's responsible for Prince and Winslow, he's not going to want any witnesses. He'll go deep, surface when he thinks he can finish the job."

Jim nodded agreement. "If we can control where and when, we can take him down. We can get him to roll over on Reynolds." *So you've decided Steven's telling the truth?* a little voice asked. He ignored it.

Blair spoke up. "We can use Herman as the bait."

The trainer's voice came from behind Jim. "He's right."

Simon frowned. "Oh, no way. It's out of the question."

Herman glared at him. "Ben Prince was the best friend I ever had and if you think this kid killed him, I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

H was standing beside the trainer. "Captain, you know we'll be there."

Simon sighed deeply. "Herman, do you have any idea how dangerous this is?"

Herman shrugged. "I'm an old man. Better that than spend what little time I got left looking over my shoulder."

"We can set it up the next time Little Stogie runs," Blair offered. The trainer nodded.

"He'll know I'll be there."

*He's right,* Jim thought. *This is our best chance.* Looking at Simon, he came up with a plan he thought the captain might accept. "Look, what we can do, we can keep him in protective custody until that time. The day of the race we're going to put him in a bulletproof vest. We'll surround him with men. We'll give Grant one opportunity to strike. In the meantime, we'll stir up the soup a little bit. We'll tell Reynolds that Herman gave us a description of the suspect. We haven't made a positive ID yet."

Simon nodded, still unhappy. "Reynolds'll tell Grant, he'll get itchy... Hey, it could work." The glare he gave Jim made it clear that it had better work.

~~~~~~~~

Jim stood on a low roof overlooking the grandstand and stadium areas, listening through a radio earpiece to Joel and Herman in the locker room. Joel, H, and Rafe were fitting the trainer with a bullet proof vest in preparation for the attempt to lure Grant out. He grinned as Herman made a comment about maybe getting his car back. *Maybe we will,* he thought.

The grin disappeared as Herman and his entourage left the locker room and he began scanning the crowd for any sign of the gunman. "Anything?" Simon's voice came over the headset.

"No, not yet," Jim replied, eyes moving over the mass of people.

"If he's here, I hope you find him soon." Blair's soft voice was an anchor, allowing him to open his eyesight up further, and he exhaled in satisfaction as he spotted their target.

"Got him," he said. "Everybody stay loose."

Jumping off the roof, he landed on top of Grant, knocking the other man to the ground. He fought back, rolling Jim over and punching him before trying to get away. Jim snagged hold of him, pulling him back down to the concrete. About to pull his cuffs out, he jerked as a gunshot rang out, followed by two more. Dodging out of the bullets' path, he cursed as Grant dove the other way, escaping into the panicked crowd.

"All right," he yelled, "get down! Everybody!" His gun in his hand, Jim scanned the stands for the shooter. Over the radio, he heard Simon order Herman into cover. At least he wouldn't have to worry about him.

Simon and Blair forced their way through the crowd, coming up next to Jim. The captain's voice was gruff as he ordered the civilians out of their path. "Jim!" he continued, lowering his voice slightly. "What the hell happened?"

Jim continued scanning the stands. "We've got ourselves another shooter, Simon. It came from somewhere up there." He gestured upward. "I was grappling with the guy, the shots came and he took off through the crowd. You see anything?"

Both men shook their heads. "I didn't see a thing, man," Blair said as Simon pulled out his radio.

"All right, Brown, you keep Herman inside. We have another shooter. I'll be right in." He looked over at Jim. "You keep looking."

Jim nodded grimly. "You got it."

Simon walked away quickly and Jim swept his eyes over the area. His eyes narrowed, and he focused in on a suspicious-looking spot on a stair railing. "He's wounded," he told Blair as he pulled back from the bloody handprint to look at his guide's face. "Come on."

Blair followed him without question as he led the way toward the stairs Grant had taken. Before they were halfway there, two more shots rang out.

~~~~~~~~

Pat Reynolds looked up as Tony Grant opened the door. He was holding one arm with the other hand as he glared at her.

"What the hell were you doing out there?" he demanded angrily. "If something went wrong, you're supposed to create a diversion."

She shook her head. "That was your plan, not mine."

He leaned against the wall, looking down at his bleeding arm. "I should've never taught you to shoot," he growled.

She nodded, her plan set. "That was your tough luck," she agreed, as she lifted her gun, shooting him twice. Wiping the handle with her scarf, she wrapped the gun and shoved it back into her purse, leaving the room without a second look at the bleeding man on the floor as she headed for her office. It was time to cut her losses. All of them.


~~~~~ Act V ~~~~~~


Jim stepped back as the track paramedics took over, stabilizing Grant and then loading him into the waiting ambulance. The man was alive. Hopefully, he'd stay that way, since he was their only witness. Watching the ambulance drive away, he shook his head, turning to Simon and Blair.

"So much for our brilliant plan," he said. "Now what?"

Blair looked thoughtful, and Jim wondered what crazy plan the kid was coming up with. Not that it probably wouldn't work, but still... He made a bet with himself.

"You know what," Blair said. "I've got an idea here. Now, it's a little crazy -- we've never tried anything like it before."

Simon groaned. "This ought to be good."

The sentinel shrugged. "I'm open for anything as long as it works."

Blair nodded. "Jim," he instructed, "track the gun that shot him. It wasn't fired too long ago. You might be able to smell the gunpowder."

*Hmmm. I lost. I never would have thought of smell. But - he's right.* Jim smiled grimly. "She might still have it on her."

The captain looked confused. "She? She, who?"

"Pat Reynolds," Jim said. *The bitch who tried to kill my brother,* he added silently as he turned to head back into the grandstand.

Opening his senses, he used the feeling of Blair's hand on his arm to ground himself. Inhaling deeply, he tried to focus on the smell of gunpowder, but kept getting distracted by that snap-crackle-pop sound.

"How about it, Jim? Anything?"

Irritated by the noise, he shook his head in response to Simon's question. Blair's eyes narrowed. "What?" the grad student asked.

"Those crackling noises," Jim replied. "I hadn't heard them for a while, but now they're back, louder than ever." He looked up, trying to locate the source of the sound. As his eyes focused on the ceiling supports, he swore. "Hey, Simon, we've got to evacuate the building."

"Why?"

Jim pointed to the largest of the cracks he could see, wondering if the captain would be able to make it out. "The whole damn thing is coming down," he answered. "It's beginning to crumble."

"All right, I'll get on it. You keep looking." Simon's voice was calmly grim as he headed off to the nearest security officer, identifying himself and asking to be taken to the security office immediately. Jim grabbed Blair's arm, leading him to a doorway as an announcement came over the loudspeaker. They watched as the crowd reacted to the words, slowly milling around and beginning to file out of the grandstand.

The announcement was repeated, and security guards began trying to move people through the doors more rapidly. Jim looked up. The cracks had spread, but not too much further. The 'electrical problem' should do the trick.

He and Blair joined the queue and headed outside. He stopped at the top of the stairs, breathing deeply. Moving faster, he dodged through the crowd, tossing words over his shoulder to Blair. "I can smell the gun powder."

"Great," Blair replied, keeping on his heels.

Jim nodded. "But it's fading fast, Chief." He looked around, then smiled as he saw their target on the stairs heading toward the track and paddocks. "There she is." They worked their way through the people lining the stairs, ignoring the angry comments. Reaching a knot that wouldn't shift to let them through, he growled in frustration. Blair stumbled as they came to a halt.

"Excuse me, folks" Jim said. "Pardon me. Pardon me. Excuse me." His voice was getting louder with each word, and he felt Blair sigh behind him. Finally his guide had had enough.

"Police business!" Blair growled, his words clearing the logjam in front of them, just in time for Jim to see Pat drop the gun into a trash can at the bottom of the stairs. Taking the flight as fast as he could, he finally reached the bottom.

"Chief, get the gun. It's in there," he added, pointing to the can in case Blair had missed seeing it dropped in. As his guide headed toward the receptacle, he ran through the crowd in pursuit of Pat Reynolds.

The woman ran toward the track, ducking under the fence and dashing up to the nearest horse. "Get off," she growled at its rider, pulling the jockey off as the man protested. Mounting the horse, she spurred it into a run, taking it through the gate to the paddocks and off toward the amusement park rides adjacent to the racetrack.

Running onto the track behind her, Jim stopped and stared after her. He'd never catch her on foot. Joel appeared suddenly beside him.

"Jim, what's going on?"

"She took out Grant," he spat.

Joel whistled loudly, beckoning Little Stogie over. "Give him the horse," he told the jockey, who slid off at the police captain's words, obviously recognizing him.

Jim hesitated for a second. He knew enough about horses to know what this might do to the racehorse. On the other hand... Gathering himself, he leapt into the ridiculously tiny saddle, slipping his feet into the too-high stirrups as best he could. To Joel's yells of encouragement, he guided Stogie to follow Pat's escape.

She led the chase, dodging and weaving through the crowd as he followed after her. Exiting the racetrack, they pounded along the road. He winced inwardly at what running on concrete would be doing to the horses' legs, but had no choice but to follow her. She swerved wildly as a police car came around the corner, its sirens blaring, and turned her horse into the amusement park. He followed, feeling a difference in Stogie's strides as they hit grass again.

She was lighter than he was, and she rode like she was used to it, and it was telling. Her horse was pulling ahead of Stogie, and he could hear that there were no police cars on the other side of the park yet. He had to catch her. She turned slightly, taking her mount around a bench, and he swore to himself. They'd have to risk it, he and Stogie. Gathering his weight, he leaned forward, over the bay's withers, and pointed him directly at the bench.

He could feel the horse bunch his hindquarters and give a mighty spring, clearing the bench with ease. Landing solidly on the other side, he realized he was close enough to attempt a grab for Pat. Reaching out, he threw himself from Stogie's back, tumbling her with him onto the grass as the horses thundered onward. She twisted in his hands, breaking away briefly before he caught her again.

"Not so fast," he growled in her ear as she fought to get away. "You're not going to pin this one on my brother."

His words must have confused her, and she stopped fighting. He grabbed her hands, cuffing them behind her back. Two uniformed officers ran up behind them, and he handed her over to them, wondering idly if Blair would be proud of his restraint. He'd wanted to hit her. And he could have. She'd been resisting arrest, after all.

Watching the officers lead her away, he grinned suddenly. He'd done worse than hit her. He'd ruined her plans.

"That's what you get for messing with the Ellisons," he muttered under his breath. "That's what you get."

~~~~~~~~

Steven Ellison stood and watched as the group of overly happy men walked down the stable lane. They were leading a confused horse and singing at the top of their lungs. He grinned as they mangled the 'Mr. Ed' theme.

He stood slightly behind his brother, his brother's boss, and the horse's trainer. The other three men shook their heads as the group walking Stogie came closer. Jim reached into his pocket, pulling out the award he'd gotten earlier that evening, pinning it to the racehorse's halter.

"Now this goes to its rightful recipient," he said. Blair grinned up at him, and Steven wondered yet again at the grad student's inclusion in his brother's world. He pushed down the jealousy he felt as his brother smiled back. He'd given up the right to it long ago.

"So you think he knows he's a hero cop?" the anthropologist said, bouncing slightly. Jim shrugged.

"Well, that's what we're here for now."

The big captain - Joel, Steven thought - shook his head. "Look, Jim, you're the real hero. I can't believe you just jumped on that horse and rode off."

"Jim's been holding out on us," Simon said, then stuck his nose in the air, continuing with a fake British accent. "Born with a silver spoon in his mouth."

The other men laughed and Steven stepped away, not feeling a part of the friendships here. He could still hear them as he leaned over the fence, looking out onto the track.

"You had horses, Jim?" Joel asked. "You think you know somebody, Simon, but you really don't. They fool you every time."

Herman snorted agreement, and Steven could hear the trainer take the horse's lead. "This guy sure had me snookered."

Simon laughed. "Who would have thought he'd finish in the money his last five times out. Huh, Blair?"

The student growled quietly, and the other men laughed. Steven smiled to himself. He'd heard all about Blair's 'system.'

Herman's voice rose again. "Well, he'd have done it sooner if we'd have realized he'd do so much better as a steeplechaser than he did on the flat. Once his tendons healed, anyway."

Jim protested half-heartedly. Steven could just picture the accusing glare the trainer had given his brother. The other men laughed again, then Simon spoke.

"Jim...where's your brother?"

Steven tensed, then forced himself to relax. *It's up to Jimmy - Jim,* he thought. Suddenly a voice came at his shoulder.

"Little bit of a hawk out here tonight."

Steven shrugged. "Yeah."

"I'm amazed at how fast you got this place up and running again," Jim said.

Steven shrugged again. "Because we found the weakened areas of the grandstand in time, we were able to make the repairs. Luckily, nobody got hurt before that happened." He turned to face his brother. "I never did ask how you figured out it was about to go?"

"It's a trade secret," Jim answered, his voice light. He smiled at Steven, and Steven found himself smiling back. "I really appreciate you coming to the awards dinner tonight, Steven."

"Actually, I was kind of surprised you invited me." Steven kept his voice even, not wanting to put any pressure on his brother. Jim sighed.

"You know... I...I've been doing a lot of thinking," he said. "I realized that, uh...growing up...it wasn't us. It was Dad. Making us compete against one another. He kept us from really knowing each other. Kept us from trusting one another. What you did back then..."

"...was unforgivable," Steven interrupted. "I've spent my whole adult life trying to deny it. Telling myself that you had made your choices and I had made mine and all was right with the world. But it wasn't. I always looked up to you. Always wanted to be like you. And then, one day I woke up and realized that you were gone for good and it was my fault."

He met his brother's eyes squarely. Jim looked back, his face sad.

"And all along, I thought you hated my guts."

Steven swallowed and shook his head, just as a chorus of badly tuned voices rose behind them as the others started singing again.

Jim took a deep breath. "You know, it's never too late to learn how to cut loose a little bit."

Steven smiled. "How about we start right now?" he offered.

Simon's voice rose behind them, "Come on, Jim."

Jim frowned. "You really want to be seen with those clowns?"

Simon spoke again, his voice loud. "Who's buying the brews?"

Steven considered for a moment, then met his brother's warm eyes. He nodded. "Yeah."

His brother grinned, slinging an arm around Steven's shoulder and hugging him close as they walked toward the other men. Shyly, Steven returned the embrace. A loud chorus echoed off the barns and Jim winced.

"You know, all my friends aren't like this," he said. Steven grinned at him, and Jim shrugged. "Well, okay, maybe they are. You'll have to decide for yourself."


~ The End ~


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