For the Gipper
Author's Note: A day in the life story; this Blair is a PhD and a cop-profiler. The team of Ellison and Sandburg rule.
“So, where do we line up?” Blair ventured trying not to show too much enthusiasm. This was Blair’s first parade that he was officially participating in.
Jim had been “instructed” to march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as part of the Cascade PD contingent. The Police Commissioner wanted a good showing. He was tired of being outdone and taunted year after year by the Fire Commissioner. For years Jim had resisted attending the parade, making excuses, scheduling vacation time or exchanging shifts with other officers that did want to march.
This year was different. The Cop of the Year (x 3) and his partner of more than five were making a command performance.
“Uh, Major Crimes Division lines up after Homicide and before Narcotics. The uniformed officers from their precincts go first,” Jim grumbled.
“How orderly of them,” Blair commented. The precincts were in number order and the special divisions in alphabetical order.
“Yeah, well, the Commissioner is funny that way,” Jim said sarcastically as he tugged on the collar of his dress shirt. The detectives were required to march in their dress uniforms as well.
“You look very handsome,” Blair whispered Sentinel soft as they made their way to the staging area. In spite of his grumpiness, Jim smiled at his partner. Blair always knew how to make the worst situations better for Jim.
It seemed like hours of standing around in the damp before the police force finally stepped off; bagpipes leading their way. Blair sighed as more clouds moved in overhead.
“We’ll make home before the rain hits,” Jim promised his friend and partner. He fingered the damp curls that were escaping Blair’s uniform hat. Under Blair’s guidance, Jim’s senses were finely honed. He was more accurate than any weatherman.
“Cold and wet is my world, Jim,” Blair declared with a little smile.
They walked a few blocks in companionable silence, gratefully smiling at the cheering crowd along the sidelines.
“At least they’re cheering and not throwing rocks at us,” Jim mumbled. Police work was often unrewarding and unappreciated.
“Why, Jim?” Blair asked as they held up at the corner to allow the cross town traffic to proceed.
“Why don’t you want to be here?”
“You mean aside from the obvious cold, damp, noise, and uncomfortable clothing?” Jim tugged on his collar again to make his point.
“Yeah. I realize the noise is probably giving you a headache...”
“I’ve dialed it down, Chief,” Jim assured his Guide.
“So is there something about St. Patrick’s Day specifically that you don’t like, or the Irish? Ellison is an English surname, the English and Irish traditionally...”
“Hold up there, Professor, I don’t need a lecture. And my family has been here for hundreds of years. We have little ties to the ‘mother’ country.”
“So what is it about this day or is it parades in general?”
Jim sighed; he knew Blair would never be satisfied until Jim bared his soul.
Sometimes Blair was like a dog with a bone. Or in this case, a wolf. “I guess, I
never really liked parades. Even as a kid, the noise and the crowds got on my
“Your senses were coming online. The noise alone would have made you nuts.”
“It was easier to watch the parades on TV,” Jim admitted. “I remember my father trying to make watching parades a family tradition. It didn’t matter what parade. Thanksgiving, Rosebowl, Easter, whatever was on TV. Unfortunately, with William Ellison, business came first. Most times he either went to the office early in the morning, promising to make it back in time for the parade. Or he’d take a call and we wouldn’t see him until the parade was over. Stevie and I wound up watching with our mother.”
“I know that, ahh. Aren’t there rules about analyzing one’s partner?”
“I’m not analyzing you. It just makes sense now.”
“Enlighten me, Darwin.”
“Aside from the Sentinel stuff, you associate parades with your mother. Your mother left you when you were just a kid. It’s only natural for you to feel upset when you see a parade.”
“If you haven’t noticed, Chief, I’m no longer a kid. I’m old enough to get past it.”
“Jim, whether you like it or not, at that age, loss of a parent either through death or absentia can affect you for life. You can rationalize it or suppress it but that feeling of loss is always there,” Blair stated logically and gently. “I’m sorry, Jim.”
“No, need to be, Junior. You call ‘em as you see ‘em. It’s part of your charm,” Jim said without malice.
“Maybe it’s time to start our own traditions,” Blair offered with a bright smile.
“What do you mean?”
Just then a little girl with strawberry blond hair, bright blue eyes, rosy cheeks and a big smile broke free from her parents and ran toward them. She was dressed from head to toe in green and wearing a tam. She was holding several green carnations. Jim quickly held up his hand, signaling a halt to the men and women behind them.
“Hi, honey, where are your parents?” Jim asked gently, squatting down to be at eye level. The little girl pointed toward the crowd. A young couple also wearing green was trying to get through the barricade. “Blair,” Jim said. His partner intuitively sought out the child’s parents to bring them through the crowd.
“For you!” the little girl said as she held up the slightly battered flowers to Jim.
“I can’t take your pretty flowers, sweetheart.”
“For you!” the child insisted.
“Grace!” Jim heard the woman call out. “There you are!” the relieved mother said as she bent to pick up her daughter. “I’m so sorry,” the woman said, apologizing to officers around her.
“No need to apologize,” Jim assured the young mother.
“Mommy, flowers!” The child waved the green-dyed flowers out toward Jim.
“She wants to give them to me,” Jim said with a blush to his cheeks. “She won’t take no for an answer.”
“Please take them. They are for you,” the woman explained; her husband nodded in agreement.
“For me? I don’t understand. I don’t know you.”
“Grace saw your picture in the paper recently. You look a lot like my father. He was a policeman too,” the woman explained.
“Was?” Blair asked, fearing the worst. His big blue eyes were open wide.
“Oh no! Nothing like that,” the woman reassured them. “He retired last year. He was also a detective. Gracie misses my parents; we just moved here. This is our first St. Paddy’s parade in Cascade. We had a tradition; as kids, my father would always march and set us up in the family section so we could see him in his dress uniform. He hated that thing, always tugging at the collar.”
Jim and Blair laughed.
“I know just how he feels,” Jim said, tugging again at his collar.
“My father was a good cop. He made us promise to come to this parade. And asked us to try and make the other parades as well. Said something about doing it for the Gipper. He went to Notre Dame,” the woman explained.
“Babe, we’re holding up the parade,” Grace’s father said with embarrassment as he looked around.
“Oh!” The woman slightly jumped. “Please take the flowers, Detective...”
“James Ellison, ma’am and this is my partner, Blair Sandburg,” Jim introduced.
“I’m Kate O’ Farrell and this is my husband, Sean. Not Irish?” the woman said with mock disappointment. Jim and Blair shook their heads with a shrug. “Oh well, doesn’t matter. For the Gipper and my dad,” she said as Grace again held out the flowers.
“Thank you,” Jim said as he took the carnations, giving one to Blair. As the family turned to go, Jim stopped them. “Would Grace like to march the rest of the way with us. We’re almost to the end, just a few more blocks.” Jim turned on the charm with his lady killer smile.
“Are you sure you’re not Irish?” the woman asked with a laugh. “Gracie, would you like to march with Detectives Jim and Blair?” Grace bounced up and down in her mother’s arms.
The child was quickly transferred to Jim who placed her down between himself and Blair, each taking a hand. Jim made another couple of signals. As their section began to move again, an officer came to escort Grace’s parents to the side where they could walk along and watch their daughter. Blair noted that Grace’s father was happily snapping photos and taking videos.
Several hours later after the parade, Jim and Blair finally got home.
“I’m beat!” Blair threw himself onto the sofa.
“Hey! No shoes on the couch!” Jim growled as he tossed his keys into the basket. Blair looked toward his feet.
“My feet are off the couch.”
“Preemptive measures,” Jim said as he took off his jacket and shoulder holster. He hung everything up then headed for his loft bedroom to change. “Hey, Chief?” Jim called out from above.
“Mmm?” Blair responded from under his arm that was draped over his eyes.
“Before Grace ran out to us, you said something about starting our own traditions. What did you have in mind?”
Blair smiled under his arm, perking up with enough energy to climb the stairs to the loft.
“Well, not to sound over-analytical about it,” Blair smirked at his partner. Jim snorted. “I thought it would be nice to make some good memories of our own for you to associate with parades. But I think little Gracie beat me to it.”
“Just for the record, Doc, I’m not ignoring the fact that our new little friend has the same name as my mother,” Jim said as he sat on the edge of their bed to help Blair out of his uniform.
“We all know how you hate coincidences, Jim. Grace is a traditional Irish name, let's leave it at that,” Blair suggested.
“Agreed. Now for our new traditions?”
“You could take one for the Gipper,” Blair said with a waggle of his eyebrows. “But that wouldn’t be anything new.”
“Same goes for you, Chief.”
“We are equal partners,” Blair said smugly.
“Yes, we are.” Jim stood up, taking the smaller man into his arms. “Blair, I don’t need to be bribed to march in another parade if our Captain, Chief or Commissioner request it. And I don’t have to do it for the Gipper either. As long as you’re with me, I can work through my past.”
A set of shining ocean blue eyes stared up at Jim with awe and admiration. Blair hugged his lover hard then gently kissed Jim’s lips. The lovers showered off the day then snuggled down for the night as the rain beat against the windows.
Sitting on the kitchen table in a simple vase were a bunch a green carnations.
Feedback for Sabina
or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to the St. Patrick's Day Challenge