Simon ignored it. "Do you know what the brass is going to do about this? Jim, you don't know what I've done for the past year, all the arguments I've gotten. I've been able to keep them at bay because your record has been excellent but this..."

Jim stood still for a moment. "What have they been saying? What have you kept from me?"

"Look, don't worry about it. You proved you were a good cop. They've been quiet for months now."

"*Proved?* That is *just* the *limit*!" Jim tossed his head, making the light reflect off his earring. "I didn't become a *different* person when I came out. Why would I have to *prove* myself again? As if I didn't know."

"Calm down, Jim."

"My *record* should have spoken for *itself*. *Our* record...it's as much Blair as me. *Nothing* ever changes. It's why I went into the closet in the *first* place. I should have stayed there."

"I can't deny my life would have been easier." Simon sighed as Jim sat down and buried his head. "But I wouldn't take back a day of this past year. I like knowing who you really are, Jim, and I like knowing you two are happy - once I got used to the whole idea. You're my best officers, and you're better *now*."

"But..." Blair, who was rubbing Jim's shoulders, looked up. "I heard a but, Simon."

"I can't let you take the case. I know I said I would, but you're too damn close to it, and people would talk about you playing favorite, since he was your friend. And mine."

"Simon, it *is* a major crime. Listen." Blair told him everything Mel had said, from his problems getting help to what was happening on Stonewall Street.

Simon was silent for a long moment. "Go for it. Bring me proof of all of it - and make it airtight. Mel's a good person, and his word is good enough for me, but he's an ex-con and, well..."

"We *will*, Simon. We will *bury* them."

"First, get the killers. You say you have gang colors. Find out *which* gang and who might have been around that alleyway."

Blair nodded, but Jim shook his head. "I want to talk to the precinct. I want to know who let Freddie die like that."

Simon closed his eyes. "Let me do that. I know the guy running the Two-One. I think you've stepped on enough toes today."

"I'm going to be stepping on *more* than *toes* before we're done. I'll get the gang, but I'll get the others, too."

"This could cost you your career, Jim."

Jim took Blair's hand and looked him in the eyes. Blair understood the question and nodded. Jim smiled, and turned back to Simon. "It will be worth it. I'm not playing anymore *games*."

Simon sighed. "I can't stop you, can I? Let me call my pal Joe at the Two-One for you, okay? I think Michaelson's doing gangs now - you go talk to him, all right?"

Jim nodded. "He's on the sixth floor, right?"

"Yes. And, Jim? Let this one live. I do *not* want to hear any complaints from him."

"I'll be a *perfect* lady. I'll be in touch, Simon...and we'll see you at the funeral tomorrow, right?"

"We'll see, Jim."

Blair gave Simon a look, but he responded with a shrug and a glance at large pile of paperwork. Blair nodded, and led Jim out of the office and back to his desk.

Dave Michaelson was in his office and he had time to see them. In fact, Blair thought he sounded eager to meet them both. They gathered up their evidence an