Chapter Seven

Blair jumped up from his seat, grabbed some napkins from the tray and knelt on the floor to begin clean up.

"Oh, dear, no. You don't need to do that, Dr. Sandburg." Despite her words, Mrs. Jones stayed on her feet. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Hunter." She looked at him, her eyes wide and frightened.

"What is wrong, dear lady?" Hunter smiled at her. Jim believed he was sincere in his concern.

She wrung her hands. "It's just so upsetting. All of it...the awful blackmail, the horrible things they're saying about you - I know you're above it, Dr. Hunter, but I *hate* seeing all those terrible letters you get, telling you that you're evil or prejudiced when if they only *knew* you...I'm sorry. And you're so kind to me, too...hiring me even though I can't use those computers like all the young girls. And now Dr. Sandburg is cleaning up after my mess, too. I'm so sorry." She took hold of a table, as if bracing herself to kneel on the floor. At that point, Blair stood up, holding the shards of china in the napkins in one hand. He put the other on Mrs. Jones' arm.

"It's all right. I've got it. I wouldn't walk around here without shoes until someone gets a chance to vacuum, but I think we're fine. Why don't I take you back to your desk and get you your own coffee? Would that be all right, James? Dr. Hunter?" Blair didn't wait for an answer. Instead, he tucked Mrs. Jones' arm into his and led her out of the office.

Jim watched him leave. When he turned back, he could see Hunter following his partner as well. "Does Blair fascinate you so much?"

Hunter shrugged one shoulder. "In so many ways, yes. He reminds me of myself - full of righteous anger and confusion that the world doesn't run the way I want it to run."

"Is *that* why it bothers you so *much* that he's gay? That he's my lover? Because he reminds you of *yourself*? What *are* you afraid of, doctor dear?" Jim tilted his head.

He only smiled in return. "I'm afraid of many things. Those terrorists, for example. The question is, what is *he* afraid of? If you love him, why isn't he happy?"

"Blair is happy." Even as he said it, he wondered. "This is not relevant to this case, now, *is* it?"

"You brought it up, detective. Still, you are correct. Shall we get back to the note, or should we wait for Dr. Sandburg to reappear?"

Jim could hear Blair making soothing noises, and, judging from the sounds, fixing Mrs. Jones a cup of tea. "He might be a while. Your receptionist seems rather flighty."

"I hired her as an act of charity, but she is an excellent receptionist even if her devotion is a trifle wearing. So...the note."

Jim picked it up again, and read it out loud. "'Tsk, tsk, Dr. Homophobe. We told you not to go to the police. Now look what you went and did. You have a choice. Either recant all the nasty things you've been saying during your radio show or you and your little secret will lead the five o'clock news. And we wouldn't want that, would we?' Interesting that they don't want money."

"I can't think about that right now. I was a fool yesterday. I let my concern for Dr. Sandburg overtake my good sense. That *is* what you want me to say, is it not?"

Jim smiled. "We had a week to find them. Now we're down to hours. I assume you are *not* going to give in to their demands?"

"Don't you want me to? Wouldn't it make *your* life easier if *I* did as they asked?" Hunter smiled back.

Jim sighed. "No. I don't want you t