How to Defuse a Ticking Human Time Bomb
To say that the atmosphere as we choke down our steaks is tense would be an understatement. It's like we are all waiting for everybody else to make the first move so we are all basically stuck. In fact the situation is even worse than it was when we first got together earlier today. Back then we were trying to make our way across the other's defenses... this time around we are all just too busy digging our own trenches to do even that much. The thing is that this is our only full day here in Cascade and I don't want to waste it, the problem is that it is obvious that Jack has other priorities in mind, and I do understand.
For him the most important thing is to figure out how to do some damage control here, but I just want a chance to get to know my brother and I'm not going to be able to do that while Jack and Jim are both trying to glare the other into submission. One thing that has become apparent, however, is that Sam was right and that Jim was actually keeping an ear on us on the way over... that is by far the most logical explanation for his attitude change from a few minutes ago.
I wonder what Blair would say if I were to suggest that we ditch both our escorts. Of course I know how the idea would go over with Jack but I am at my wits end... and going by the look on Blair's face I'd say I'm not the only one who is more than a little fed up with all the posturing. In fact I suspect that by now even Sam is fighting to keep herself from rolling her eyes at the two of them. Gathering my courage I ask:
"So, Blair, what would you say if we were to get away for a while and actually talk."
"Hey, I'm all for it, man," he says, sounding rather relieved.
"So where are we going?" asks Jack.
"You are not going anywhere, Jack. I said Blair," I point out, knowing that I'm going to have a fight in my hands.
"One word, Danny-boy, 'no', I'm not letting you out of my sight. No way, no how," he tells me, crossing his arms and almost daring me to try and change his mind.
"Yes, you are," I say.
"No, Im not," he insists.
"You are not going anywhere, chief," jumps in Jim... why am I not surprised?
"Come on, Jim, he is my brother and he's only here for today. Hes going back to Colorado Springs tomorrow morning," says Blair, going for a pleading look... I wonder if that would work on Jack.
"You are still not going anywhere, not without me," he growls... literally growls.
"If Ellison is going so am I," says Jack, who had been on the brink of agreeing to let me out of his sight. I wonder what it would take for these two to figure out that both Blair and I are adults and perfectly capable of making our own decisions.
"Why don't I go with them, sir?" suggests Sam, trying to mediate.
"That could work," says Jack, rather reluctantly, but I can see that Jim is still far from convinced.
"Listen, big guy, Daniel and I just want to talk, that's all, but I'll tell you what: seeing how they already know the truth maybe you and Jack could follow us at a distance. That way you can keep an ear on us," says Blair.
"You promise not to try to ditch me?" asks Ellison, looking rather suspicious.
"Scout's honor, big guy."
"Why am I not relieved to hear that? Oh, wait, I know... maybe because you were never a boy scout to begin with," Jim points out.
"Maybe not, but still, you know I wouldn't do that to you," insists Blair.
"For the record, I still don't like this," says Ellison.
"I know, big guy, but I really have to do this."
"Okay," Jim agrees after a few seconds.
"Thank you," says Blair, sounding rather relieved.
"So, what's the plan?" asks Jack.
"Plan?" asks Blair, staring at him as if he had grown a second head.
"Yes, you know, where are you going, at what time do we meet again and where? That kind of a plan," Jack explains.
"I don't know. To tell you the truth I didn't realize we were going to need one, after all this is not a military exercise," Blair points out before realizing that that explanation just isn't going to cut it with this lot. "I guess maybe we could go to the park. It's fairly quiet and open enough for Jim to keep an ear and an eye on us... as for when do we meet again, seeing how you are going to be tailing us anyway, it doesn't really matter."
"You call that a plan?" asks Jack, shaking his head.
"No, I call it spending the day getting to know my brother while I pray that the two of you won't kill each other," mutters Blair, who I'm glad to see is not intimidated by Jack's death-glare... of course, I assume he has had more than his fair share of practice when it comes to dealing with Ellison's own version of it.
"We are going to be fine, Jack," I say, trying to reassure him, even though I know it will almost certainly be futile.
"Yes, but..." he insists.
"That's why I'm going with them, sir," Sam reminds him.
"But what if...?" he tries again.
"Jack, just go with Jim," I say as I turn to follow my brother out of the restaurant.