Author's Notes: Well, look it here, I've managed to come up with two shorts in a month. Must be a record. Thanks as always to my betas. Barbara, HMG, and D.L.

Disclaimer: The usual. I don't own them, never will. I just take them out occasionally for a bit of fun.

Warnings/Ratings: G. Knowledge of TSbyBS assumed.

Archive: Yes. Link to http://www.skeeter63.org/kandacek/

All He Needed

by KandaceK

Posted 06-24-99
Revised 06-25-99

Okay, calm down. You've been through this before, why are you freaking? Because you're about to become a cop. A cop! By the end of the morning you will officially be Detective 2nd grade, Blair Sandburg. Shit! Breathe! Do your breathing, and get a grip. Blair obeyed his inner voice, taking a deep breath, holding to the count of five, and letting it out slowly. It helped. But his hands were still shaking. He raised a hand to push back his hair, and grimaced as his fingers brushed the short, loose curls. It had been a long time since he had worn his hair short, and it had taken him days to get used to his reflection after the regulation cut. Even so, it was already longer than the other cadets'. He hadn't kept it trimmed over the twelve-week course, like the others. Now it almost brushed his collar in the back, but he wasn't sure if he should let it get much longer, out of deference to his new job. He'd have to think about it some more.

Blair smiled somewhat bemusedly. Long or short, the women didn't seem to care. In fact, it seemed more women had flirted with him in his new "do", than had when it was long. He shrugged. It didn't really matter, he supposed. Rafe's hair, while still short, was longer than any of the other male detectives', so why couldn't he do the same?

"Sandburg!"

Startled out of his thoughts, Blair looked up. "Yeah, Lawson?"

"Hurry up! We're supposed to line up before we go into the auditorium."

"Yeah. Okay." Blair placed the blue felt police hat with its shiny black brim under his left arm, and checked his reflection. Well, Naomi, I guess you were right. I'm wearing a blue uniform and jack boots. Thankfully it's only for today. Wish you were here. Staring at himself, Blair took one last calming breath, squared his shoulders, and turned away from the mirror.

"You're really nervous about this, aren't you?" Lawson asked, falling into step beside Blair as they left the locker room.

Blair jerked his head once. "Yeah, I am, I guess. Before I started riding with Jim, I never imagined myself doing this."

"Tell me something, Sandburg. Are you doing this because you want to, or because you felt you didn't have a choice?"

"I don't have any regrets, if that's what you mean."

"That's good, but it doesn't answer my question."

Blair stopped and looked his fellow cadet directly in the eyes. "I did this because I wanted to."

Lawson gazed at him for a moment. He nodded. "Good."

Blair smiled. Patting Lawson's arm, he turned and continued down the hall. Nothing more was said, as they joined the line of other cadets.

A few minutes later, the cadets, eighteen in all, filed into the auditorium. They marched two abreast toward the front of the stage. At a signal from their sergeant, they stopped, turned, and came to parade rest, facing their audience of family and friends. As Blair stared straight ahead, he wondered idly what Jim thought of him marching. Blair found himself holding back a grin.

As the Police Commissioner and Mayor opened the ceremony, Blair tried to locate Jim while keeping his face forward. He knew the Sentinel would be sitting in the front row with the other presenters, but because of where he was standing in relation to them, Blair was unable to see his friend. The young man did manage to locate Simon and the rest of the Major Crime contingent.

Blair swallowed the lump that had risen in his throat. Thinking about Simon and the other detectives who had encouraged him to take this step, Blair felt a mixture of awe and pride. Awe that he had been accepted by such a close-knit group, and pride that he would soon be a full-fledged member. He knew, without the slightest doubt, that he could count them among his staunchest friends.

The Mayor finished his opening speech, and the Commissioner started the actual ceremony. One by one, each cadet's name was called. He or she was sworn in, then the cadet's designated presenter would pin on the badge. Blair concentrated on his breathing. He knew Jim could hear his elevated heart rate, and he tried to calm it.

As he waited for his name to be called, Blair thought back over the previous weeks. Out of the forty candidates who had entered the academy, only these eighteen had made it to graduation. He'd had no real worry that he wouldn't make it, but it had been harder than he'd anticipated. It wasn't the scorn and ridicule. He'd expected that. Most had accepted him as just another cadet. The few who knew who he was, who knew of the media circus that had transpired around him and Jim, were the ones he'd had to watch out for. But his perseverance had eventually won over even the nastiest of his tormentors. What he hadn't fully anticipated, and should have, was the physical demands. After the first grueling day of Physical Training, Blair had been glad he'd been working out a little with Jim. At least he had been standing at the end of the day.

His stubborn pride, and very tenacious nature, had soon put him ahead of everyone else. However, when it became apparent that he would finish at the top of his class, with the highest scores since Jim himself had gone through the academy, he appealed to his partner, Simon, and even the Police Commissioner not to make a big deal out of it. He had no desire to appear as though he was rubbing his classmates' noses in the dirt, when he had the advantage of three years of practical police work and nearly fifteen years of higher academia.

Blair came back to the present with a start as he heard his name. Eyes fixing on the Police Commissioner now standing in front of him, he stepped forward.

"Mr. Sandburg, raise your right hand, and please repeat after me."

Blair raised his hand, swallowing down the constriction in his throat.

"I, Blair Sandburg."

Dutifully, Blair repeated the words of the policeman's oath to protect, serve, and uphold the laws of the people and city of Cascade. Blair had asked Jim to do the honor of pinning his badge on, and knew the detective was nearby, but it wasn't until the Commissioner stepped aside that he realized the man who had been standing to the right and slightly behind his new boss was in fact Jim. His eyes went wide.

His friend, his Sentinel, his partner, was wearing his police dress blue uniform, hat tucked neatly under his left arm. Blair had never seen him in police uniform, and certainly never in this uniform. He looked up, meeting his partner's azure eyes. There was a small, proud smile on Jim's lips as the bigger man moved forward and pinned the silver officer's badge on his breast pocket. Jim took a step back, capturing Blair's gaze again. They stared at each other for a suspended moment, then, his eyes never straying from Blair's, Jim saluted him. Stunned, Blair could only stare for several seconds. Taking a gulp of air, he returned the offered salute, his eyes bright with excess moisture. Jim's eyes were just as bright.

"Thank you, Jim," Blair whispered raggedly.

Jim lowered his arm, his smile growing broader. Yeah, Jim was proud of him, but he also hadn't forgotten what Blair had lost along the way. Blair smiled too, trying to assure his partner that he was where he wanted to be, paper or no paper. His attention was forced back to the Commissioner as the man moved in to shake his hand and congratulate him.

As Blair stepped back in line, he watched Jim return to his seat. Their gazes met again as the bigger man turned to sit down. That small, proud smile graced Jim's face once more, and he nodded. Blair flashed him a megawatt smile. Returning his eyes front, he happened to catch Simon's equally proud grin, and the beaming smiles from the other Major Crime detectives. Blair felt a warmth suffuse him, glad they were so pleased for him. Now, if only Naomi could have been here.

As if his thoughts had conjured her, there she was. She stood in the back of the hall, her smile so wide that Blair thought her face would split. He sighed. His happiness was complete. Yeah, he'd lost his chance at a doctorate--at least for now--but in the process he'd found so much more. Friends who really cared what happened to him, a mother who was finally all right with him making his own choices, and a sentinel who was the best friend of all. In the end, that was all he really needed, or wanted.

finis -- for now


Comments? Questions? Like it? Hate it? I have fairly tough skin. :) KandaceK