Today

Debra Fran Baker





"Jim! Have you seen my gown?" Yet another plaintive cry rang out from Blair's room.

Jim smiled over his coffee cup. "Check the closet, Chief."

"How'd did you know...Jim!" Blair ran into the living room, carrying his cap, his gown and a plastic suit bag. "What is this?"

"Looks like your gown, Sandburg."

"Jim...Jim, why was there a suit bag in my closet? I don't own a suit."

"Try it on. Maybe you do."

"What am I going to do with a suit? I don't need a suit, man."

"Mr. Blair Sandburg, professional grad student, didn't need a suit. Dr. Blair Sandburg, associate professor, does. Unless you were planning to wear *that* to your graduation." Jim nodded to Blair's shorts and t-shirt. *Even though you look sexier than hell dressed that way.* He shifted in his chair.

"Actually, I was. I mean, Cascade gets one day of real summer a year, and today had to be it! It's going to be 90 degrees out there. It's not like anyone's going to see what I'm wearing under this. If I could get away with it, I'd go nude."

*Don't do that to me, Blair. These pants are tight enough.* "Aren't they holding the ceremonies inside?"

"Yeah, but the auditorium is going to be packed anyway. Do you know how hard I had to scramble to get extra seats for Simon and Megan? The combined body heat is going to be enormous. It'll overwhelm the air conditioning." He paced around the room, still holding the clothing.

"Sandburg, sit down and eat something. You're making me nervous."

"I'm too excited to sit. And I'm not wearing the suit."

"So only I get to suffer?" Jim glanced down at himself.

"Oh, man. That's new, isn't it? You bought a new suit for yourself?" Jim could see Blair eyeing him. Jim stood up, straightened his tie and oh, so casually tossed the suit jacket over his shoulder. *Yeah, there's that heartbeat. Today, Blair, today we will really celebrate.* He knew he looked good in the shades of blue and gray he was wearing, and that the suit fit him perfectly. "I needed something to wear at the party the unit is throwing you."

"Oh, my God. I forgot. Look, Jim, I'll take it with me and change as soon as I can. But who got me the suit? You did. I can't take this..."

"Of course you can, Chief. Consider it a graduation present. Try it on first. I had to guess at the measurements." Blair nodded and bounced back into his room, leaving his gown crumpled by the sofa. Jim smiled and picked it up again.

The phone rang. "Ellison."

"Jim, where's the kid?"

"Simon, what's wrong?"

"There's a nasty rumor that there may be an incident at the graduation. I don't think it's more than a rumor, but since the vice-president's speaking, I'm taking extra precautions."

"What sort of precautions?"

"Sweeping the auditorium first and stationing extra men around." He laughed. "The only other time I had so many volunteers for guard duty was when we needed them for a Jags game."

"You know why." Jim could hear appreciative comments coming from that reason's room.

"Yeah. I hope the vice-president's Secret Service men are up to the task, because our