Sweetcheeks IV: Cherub

Debra Fran Baker

dfbaker@panix.com




"I will *not* have this...man look for my son." Timothy Martin, whose dark eyes were baggy from lack of sleep and red from recent crying, faced Simon Banks in his office.

"Mr. Martin, Detective Ellison is the finest officer in this division. Maybe the entire PD. He's the best chance we - and your boy - have."

"*Him*?" Timothy gestured towards Jim Ellison, who was leaning negligently against Simon's office door. Blair, unnoticed in the crowd, followed the nail-bitten hand. He grinned. Jim was actually subdued today - tailored natural linen pants, a blue and natural seersucker vest over a collarless shirt, and a plain stud in his ear. He'd left the jacket that matched the vest over his chair - and he could have been wearing yesterday's yellow sport coat. The one that made Henri shade his eyes.

"Yes, Mr. Martin. *Me.* And *without* a *penny* of your money going to those hoodlums, either."

Simon nodded. Sometime Blair wondered if the captain had gotten used to Jim's mannerisms - God knew *he* hadn't - or simply chose to ignore them.

Lisa Martin, who had been weeping silently, finally spoke up. "Timothy, please. We have to get TJ back." She put a hand on her husband's shoulder.

"I know, Lees, But - a - a..."

Jim smirked. "Faggot? Queen?" Timothy opened and closed his mouth. "Oh, stop, Mr. Martin. I *do* know the words."

"Find my son, Ellison, or your ass is mine."

"Promises, promises."

***********

"Yes! Harder! Harder! Oh, Blair, honey, that's *so* good!"

"My hands are getting a little tired, Jim."

"Don't you *dare* stop. Oh, yes! That's got it. Yes!"

Jim went completely limp with relief. "You are *such* an angel." His words were muffled by his pillow.

Blair grinned as he shook his hands out. "Next time, no dipping, okay?"

"But it's *so* much fun." Jim turned to face him.

"Then don't dip guys bigger than you are. It always hurts your back."

"I *know*. But you're too butch to dip, and you won't do me."

Blair leaned forward to kiss him. "You're cute when you whine." He smiled to himself. He'd never imagined a world where he'd be the "butchest" guy in the room. *Oh, the places you've taken me, Jim.*

Jim moaned at the kiss. Thus encouraged, Blair began nibbling down his back, while kneading that sweet rear gently. His lover sighed, wriggled and parted his legs when Blair got to the small fuzzy patch just above it.

"Want me there, Jim?"

"Oh, yeah...now..."

"Not going to be dipping any more guys?"

"But *sweetie...*"

"Come on, Jim..."

"Blair..."

"There's that cute whine." And with those words, Blair parted those perfect cheeks and dived right in. Six months ago, he would have thought rimming to be beyond him, but turned out to be one of his biggest turnons.

Especially with Jim's moans ringing in his ears.

Ringing? That wasn't Jim. That was his phone. Damn. Blair reluctantly rolled off. Jim pouted as he answered the phone.

"Ellison. Simon, if you only *knew*...Oh, dear." He sat straight up, his arousal disappearing along with Blair's. "How old? Seven? And how long...I'll be right there. Where are his parents? Oh, the poor things. We're on our way."

"What's up?" Blair began pulling on clothing."

"Do you remember Timothy Martin? Won the lottery?" Jim took some silk boxers out of his dresser drawer.

Blair nodded. "Yeah." He buttoned a blue plaid shirt over his tee and looked for a sweater.

"His son was kidnapped."

Blair followed Jim downstairs. "How are his parents?"

"Hysterical, of course. Poor baby must be scared to death." Jim disappeared into Blair's old room, which he'd converted into a wardrobe coded by color, material and season. When he emerged, Blair was relieved to see he'd left off the eyeliner. Simon *hated* the eyeliner.

As usual, Jim wrinkled his nose when they got to the truck. "I *don't* know *what* possessed me to buy this *thing*."

"It works. Most of the time. We'll paint it lavender next time, okay?"

Jim just grinned at him and they sped off to the PD through the early morning light. Blair held on tightly to his seat. *He changes his speech, his clothes, our living room but his driving habits? *They* stay the same.*

Now they were standing in Simon's office, along with two distraught parents who'd not slept that entire night.

Simon shot Jim a quelling look.

"Oh, my. I'm *so* sorry, sir."

Jim looked truly contrite. "That was totally uncalled for, and I *do* apologize. Mr. Martin, if we do not recover TJ safe and sound, you can do what you want with my career."

"You bet I will, Ellison."

"Um...not to barge in here or anything, but maybe we should get started." The couple looked up, startled.

"Who are you?" Timothy looked at him suspiciously.

"I'm Blair Sandburg. I'm a consultant to the department, and I work with Jim." Blair decided that selective truth would be his best option.

"You're not a cop?"

"He most certainly is not." Simon's growl made Blair smile. "But he is a valued member of this department."

"*He's* a cop, and *you're* not?" Timothy looked amazed.

Blair and Simon exchanged glances. "That's it. And Blair had a good idea. Let's get the parents' statements down first. Blair, you go with Mr. Martin to the break room, while Jim talks to Mrs. Martin here."

They nodded.

"Darling, why don't you come with me to the conference table? There you can tell me *just* what happened." Lisa looked at her husband for a moment and then moved to the other side of the room. Jim snagged a pad and followed her.

"Mr. Martin? It's this way."

Timothy nodded. He paused just outside the door. "Lees will be all right in there? With him?"

Blair rolled his eyes, but made allowances. "She'll be fine. Jim's the best. There's coffee in the break room. I think you could use a cup."

"Yeah...yeah, I can. Thanks."

They settled down in the still empty room. Blair filled two cups and sat down at the table with the father. He pulled a notebook out of his pocket and, after searching, found a pen that worked. "Sorry, man. Pens don't like to stay with me."

"It's okay. I used to be like that, too, back when I used to work."

"Before the lottery?"

"Gotta tell you...Blair, right?" He nodded. "Blair, don't *ever* win the lottery. You got all this money, but you didn't earn it and you didn't grow up with it so it don't feel like yours. And you got all these taxes, and people just aren't the same."

"Not the same?"

"My old friends...they don't know who I am, and my new friends don't know who I was. It's like I don't fit in anyplace."

"Oh, man, I totally understand you. I mean, I'm not a cop but I work here, and I'm also a teacher at the University and those two worlds just *don't* work together. And then there's Jim. He's the best, and I love him, but he's into this entirely *different* world."

"I hear that. How is he to work with? I mean, you okay with him...like that?"

Blair grinned. Jim could be slightly annoying, but..."Yeah. I wouldn't have him any other way. Now, when did you know that TJ was missing, Mr. Martin?"

"Call me Timothy. He was supposed to come straight home from school..."

Timothy kept wandering all over the place, but slowly the story built. TJ went to the neighborhood K-3 school, where he had enrichment classes.

"I don't understand my own kid, sometimes. Always reading, always talking about stuff. Only good thing about the damn lottery is that we know we can afford any school."

Blair just nodded. "So..."

"So, anyway, it was three thirty and Teege is always home by three fifteen, unless he has his nose in some book. Kid walks and reads at the same time...can you beat that?"

Blair maintained a diplomatic silence while surreptitiously rubbing the knees he'd skinned doing just that.

"Anyway...it's 3:30, and Lees is going nuts. Okay, so am I. He's weird, but he's the only kid I got. We call the police, but they say don't worry. Kids forget, kids play with friends, kids get into stuff. Not our kid. They don't know our kid."

"Then what did you do, Timothy?"

"Lees and I took the dog and walked TJ's route to school. No sign of the kid at all. The school's empty, too. So we come back and call all of his friends' parents. Not that he got much. Too smart for 'em, I guess. Anyway, they don't know anything, either. Say their kids came home all right."

"So, the cops are no good and no one else can help. So we sit and worry for hours and hours. Lees even tries to make dinner, but who can eat? And every time the phone rings, we jump. And every car that comes down to our little culdysac we run to see if it stops or we know it. We're goin' nuts!"

"Then the phone rings...it's about 8:30 last night. And there's this guy. I don't know his name at all. He says, 'Mr. Martin, we got your kid.' Except he says it much better, like the way you or your captain talks. Like, 'Mr. Martin, we are in possession of your child' or something."

Blair nodded. "What else did they day?"

"That Teege was fine, and he'd stay fine for awhile. Gotta tell you, that put some chills in me. So I asked what they wanted...all the time signaling Lees to get on that cellphone that isn't worth the money I paid for it and call the cops. Then he said not to call the cops and I snatch the phone outta her hands.

"He says he'll get back to me about how much I gotta pay to get my kid back safe and sound. I ask to speak to my son, to make sure he's okay. So then I hear Teege's voice saying 'Daddy! Daddy! Where are you?' and he's gone. Then the phone goes click and that's that."

"Have you heard from them again?"

"Yeah...couple hours later. They said they wanted a million dollars. I don't *got* a million dollars. I get a check for like eight hundred grand a year and I gotta pay taxes on *that*. Which I told him. And he said that he'd get back to me, and that Teege was sleeping, which of course he was, since he never stays up past eight. We're real strict on bedtimes."

"And then?"

"And then he called again and said that a quarter mill would be fine, which is exactly what I got in the bank. And that he'd call tomorrow afternoon. And we spent the rest of the night talking and worrying and finally Lees said we hadda call the cops. I was gonna give'em the money, but Lees said that we couldn't."

"Okay."

"You married, Blair?"

As he automatically reached up to touch the silver ring hanging on its cord under his shirt, he wondered where that question came from. "I'm...in a relationship."

"That means no. If you ever get married, you'll know...that's the last decision you'll ever make. And a good thing, too."

"Then?"

"We called the cops and they woke up Captain Banks and he called you and that fru..that other cop and that's that."

Blair looked over at his notes. "This is going to be useful, Timothy. Thank you."

"Blair...you gotta find my kid."

"We will. Jim and I will."

"Yeah...I guess he'd better be good. No way would he have the job he does if he weren't."

"Jim should be done with his interview. Want to join them?"

Timothy nodded and gulped down his coffee. "Let's go. You know, for a professor type, you're easy to talk to. Just a regular guy."

Blair shook his head as he followed him back to the bullpen.

* * * * * * *

TJ blinked for a second. Where was he?

"Is he up, Melvin?"

"No. He's asleep. He looks like a cherub."

Okay. He was with those guys. The ones who took him. And they thought he looked like a cherub? What was that? One of those cupid things? He grimaced for a second and then put his face back to sleep mode. He was good at that. Mommy and Daddy had no idea he was up way past ten reading at night.

One guy was Melvin. Melvin was tall and talked funny - not an accent, just funny. The other was Freddie. Freddie was round and strong and could lift TJ up with no problems. Just like Daddy.

"Oh, yes. A little angel. Oh, Melvin, you think this will work?"

"Of course it will. If he were *your* son..." here Melvin sighed like someone on TV, "wouldn't *you* pay for him."

"He already bargained us down."

"If he lacks the funds, Freddie, what *can* we do? Anyway, even a quarter of a million will be of help."

"But...what if he *can't* pay? Or brings in the cops? We'll have to...have to hurt the kid."

"Perish the thought, Frederick! We'll...think of something. I promise."

"Yeah...you're the brains here."

TJ shook his head. What kind of people were holding him for ransom?

He got bored just lying there listening to those two weird guys, and anyway, it was breakfast time.

"Hello? You guys there?"

"Right here, ba...TJ."

"I'm hungry! And where's the bathroom?"

Melvin ran into the room. He was wearing purple. TJ didn't know any grownup men who wore purple. He didn't know why not. It was a nice color.

"I'll show you where the bathroom is, sweetie, and Au...Uncle Freddie will make you something to eat. What would you like?"

"Oatmeal. Mommy always makes me oatmeal. With raisins."

"Frederick! Make some oatmeal!"

"Irish or instant?"

"Frederick!"

"Umm, Melvin? I *really* need to go."

The guy nodded and led him out of the room with the bed bigger than mommy and daddy's, and down the hall.

"Here you go."

TJ blinked. It was even nicer than the bathroom Mommy made after they got all that money. He'd *never* seen plants in a bathroom before, or gold faucets. Then he noticed that the faucets were scratched and the plants were sick looking.

He was very careful when he went because he knew he shouldn't make a mess, and there was this carpet thing under the toilet.

***************************

"Don't you think Ellison and my wife have been in that room long enough?"

Blair nodded. "We also should have heard from the kidnappers again."

"If those bastards hurt a hair on Teege's head, I'll break them in half." Timothy looked ready to do it.

"Jim will get your son back, Timothy."

Timothy just looked dubious. Blair grinned at him and they walked back to Simon's office.

Simon was standing outside. "What did you find out, Sandburg?"

"That TJ was on his way home from school, that he likes to read and that the kidnappers are willing to bargain."

"You sure about that?"

Simon's eyes held a mixture of relief and incredulity.

"Yeah. Tell him, Timothy." Blair patted the man's shoulder.

"Yeah...when I told them I didn't *have* a million bucks, which I don't because of how the lottery is run, they lowered it to a quarter mill."

Simon nodded. "I'm not sure if this means they're willing to be reasonable or they're really desperate for whatever they can get, but it's something."

"Captain...may I see Lees, please?"

"I'll see if Jim is finished."

As Simon poked his head into his office, Timothy leaned closer to Blair. "Will she be all right with him in there alone?"

Blair shook his head in disbelief. "You think *Jim* would..."

He dissolved in laughter.

That earned him a glare from both men. "Jim's finished in there. Please, gentlemen?" He gestured towards the door.

Jim was sitting on one of the around the conference table next to Lisa. He was holding her hands and she was crying.

"Oh, darling, you did just *fine*. You did *exactly* the *right* thing." Jim handed her a tissue.

"Are you sure, Detective?" He pouted. "'Jim.' Are you sure, *Jim*?"

"Absolutely, darling."

"But...but they said not to call the police. And we're...we're here, talking to you. Won't they hurt TJ?"

"Lisa, do you *think* I'd let them hurt *your* baby?" Jim handed her another one of his sparkling clean handkerchiefs.

"None of us will, Mrs. Martin." They both looked at Simon. "And you did do the correct thing."

"Thank you, Captain." She wiped her eyes and tried to hand the handkerchief back to Jim, but he shook his head.

"Thank you,[sniff] Captain." She blew her nose and tried to hand the handkerchief back to Jim, but he shook his head. She blinked and held on to it.

"Jim, what did you learn from Mrs. Martin?" Simon sat down at his desk and got down to business.

Jim patted her hand, took out a pad and read off his notes. They were substantially the same as Blair's. "That's a good thing, right?" Timothy looked imploring at all three men. "It means we have all the facts?"

Simon nodded. "At least, it doesn't hurt."

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