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With a start I realize I've been sitting here at my desk for over five minutes, staring at the empty desk across the bullpen. It's empty because Jim left the precinct to go to the hospital to see about Simon, er, that should be Captain Banks, and Megan. And no one knows where Blair is, not even that partner of his.

See, the dilemma that I have is who to be angry with. Assisting Captain Banks for years allows me to blend into the background, be seen as one of the guys. Which is a funny concept, me, Rhonda, one of the guys. But it's true. Simon... I roll my eyes at my mental slip, again. It doesn't matter how many years I work for the man. He is Simon to me. Not many people see what's beyond the tough exterior, but if you look, if you know where to look, the softer side is there.

That's what happened to Jim. He was such an arrogant bastard when he first transferred to Major Crime. It hurt to look at him. Honestly, I know it sounds like a load of crap, but it did. The man was such the loner that everyone was afraid to approach him. I pitied Jack Pendergrast, being given Jim as a partner, but it settled Ellison a little.

It wasn't until years later he became an asshole again. I smile. Most of the boys would be shocked to hear such language from me. I try not to let anything fly while in the office, it makes me fit in and at the same time makes me an oddity. The boys like to believe that they protect me; that I don't see the horror of what they do. It makes them easier to live with everyday. In reality I know what happens, Simon talks freely in front of me, I handle sensitive documents…

Sensitive. The bullpen has been out of sorts the last couple of days because of all the attention Blair and Jim have been receiving. I watched and grimaced when the entire squad threw one liners at Jim; stared in silence as they bowed down to Blair. It wasn't pretty. At least Simon knew when to scare everyone back into working.

I blink and am aware that I've been staring again. I catch Henri's eye. He seems to be just sitting there thinking too. No one knows what to believe anymore. Is Jim this... Sentinel the news says he is? Or is Blair a fraud?

Sighing I realize that neither one is a good option. I watched Blair give a speech which threw his academic career away. Saying 'I'm a fraud' will do that. I start to rearrange the papers on my desk. I need to kick-start my brain, but all I can think about is the look on Blair's face or the look on Jim's.

I've been thinking about all the cases the two of them have solved over the years. We all agree that they make the oddest partners, but they seem to make it work. The cases given to Jim and Blair are always the hardest, and I've wondered about that, involving a civilian. Technically he still is one, although all these years with Jim put more of a cop into him than he wants to recognize.

The desk looks good; everything is in its right place. I glance up at the captain's empty office and then at Jim and Blair's empty desk. Well everything isn't right yet, and probably will never go back to the way it was. So I'm back to where I'm started.

Do I believe that Jim has enhanced senses?

Do I believe that Blair lied, made it all up, just so he could get ahead in his schooling?

Or do I believe that Blair willingly gave up his career for his best friend, to hide, to discredit what Jim is?

I smile. That sounds like my Blair. My... not my, our Blair. He did it to protect Jim, to give Jim back his life. I always knew Blair was tough. Now I'll try and convince the others not to say anything. We'll have to pretend that we don't believe in Jim's abilities, course, I'm hoping everyone comes to the same conclusion as me.

Who could see Blair as a fraud? I certainly can't, but then again, they all think I'm just a secretary.

 

 

I saw Rhonda look at me. She's been staring at her desk for minutes now, and when she looks up her gaze goes right to Ellison and Sandburg's desk. Which of course is unoccupied.

What a mess this week has turned out to be! Ellison a Sentinel? I was one of the first to tease him too, don't I feel like scum now. I just came from the room watching Sandburg's press conference, during which I wasn't sure if I should watch the screen or Ellison.

The man shows emotion rarely, but since Blair came along he's mellowed a bit. Most of the emotion revolves around his partner though, just like today. Ellison didn't say anything, but that little press conference was not something Sandburg discussed with Jim. Ellison didn't have a clue that his partner of several years was planning on throwing everything away.

I smirk, serves me right for slamming my desk drawer shut, now I have coffee all over the place. As I clean it up I think about the different ways to clean up this dissertation mess. I can't though. Sandburg pretty much wrapped everything up and delivered it with a bright red bow.

He sacrificed himself.

Amazed is how I feel. How many people would do that for me? For anyone really? See, I already believe that Hairboy lied. I've known him for years, and the guy just hasn't got it in him. Everyone doesn't know him like I do though, so they will believe. Believe he made it up, that Ellison isn't a man with heightened senses.

I suppose if Ellison acts like nothing happened, then I will too. I won't be asking him to eavesdrop on my wife across town again. That was, well that wasn't a finest moment for myself. I'm kind of thankful that I'm not the only one that said anything; I don't want to be the lone person with the pie on my face.

This brings up so many questions. Who would actually go to the lengths that Blair did to save Ellison? Would Rafe sacrifice himself for me? Or me for him? Partners. They're scary things, you rely on each other so much, and you don't ask anything in return. Ellison and Sandburg work that way. They have such a... such a... bond? That it's freaky.

I'm not sure how the Captain or Ellison and Sandburg are going to handle it here though. I'm going to assume that none of us will believe the conference. I glance over at Rhonda and see her smile, see, she doesn't believe. There will be those that accept Sandburg's statement for truth, so much easier to believe that a man lied, than there's a man that could hear a conversation in the next room.

But what's Hairboy going to do now? He can't teach, I figure he's fired. He's not a real cop, unless he goes through the academy. God what a joke, Blair at the academy. Not that I don't think he could make it, just that the other cadets wouldn't be so friendly as they are here. Course Blair could probably handle it, in silence too if today is any sort of indicator.

I shrug and throw out the coffee soaked paper towels... and look at the empty desk again. I hope that Jim grovels well, he'll need to. He was a bastard to Blair for this mess, and maybe it was justified, but one man's life is forever changed. And it was done all for him. All because of his partner.

I groan as I stand, stretching tense muscles. I need to talk Rafe, all these partner thoughts makes me want to see mine, make sure he's ok. Not that he wouldn't be, but... I can't explain it. It's a partner thing.

Like Ellison and Sandburg. I just hope that they are able to keep working together. I like Hairboy, he's fun to have around, easy to talk to, a real people person... a good cop too. He may hit me if I told him that to his face though. Grinning, I think maybe I will, make him know he's welcomed here, that he belongs here. If not cause he's a good cop, even though he isn't one, but to keep Ellison in line. I really don't think Joel is going to want to be partnered with Ellison forever.

Hey maybe I can remind Joel about that, push his buttons a little. Need to find my fun somewhere, won't be teasing Ellison about what he can do - since I'll be pretending I don't know. See I'm prepared to follow any road that will make this place whole again - and that means Sandburg by Ellison's side.

 

 

I'm still standing here, staring at the television as if it's going to suddenly turn itself on and rip someone else's life to shreds. I can't help wondering what exactly I was thinking when I called everyone in here to see Sandburg's press conference, if you could call it that… I think it was mostly curiosity and perhaps even a little excitement, a little wondering of what's going to happen next? Jesus Rafe, you're the sensitive bastard, aren't you? Of course that all dies a quick death beneath the horror of hearing Sandburg's words.

I know what it's like to have a dream, a goal. My goal was to be here, in Major Crime as fast as possible. To be on the fast track, be among the best of the protectors and servers. I wonder if I could give that up to save the life or the sanity of my best friend. I'd like to think that I could but we never really know until we're in that situation.

Sandburg apparently could. And Jim, he was floored. Not that he said anything, he wouldn't. Maybe it was the way he blinked and stared at the TV as Sandburg's voice broke as he concluded his statement. Maybe it was in the set of his shoulders, the swing of his body as he walked out of the room. As a good detective, you've got to be able to read body language and Jim was surprised.

How do I feel about the whole dissertation/Sentinel mess? Well, it certainly explains a lot of things. Like why he rode with Jim exclusively. I mean, you'd figure for a complete paper on police society he'd have to talk to more of the society in depth than one person, or two, if you count the Captain. Like why he kept coming back for more after the crap he's had to deal with here, from regulations to psychos. Like why he and Jim seem to have this incredible partner bond, something I hope to come close to someday with H. And especially why Jim seems to be able to close some of the ugliest cases with what seems to be magically appearing evidence.

I know now it's not magical, Jim's just a better scout at it than the rest of us. It certainly doesn't make him bullet proof or get him better luck with women. I grin faintly. Hell, some of that may even go back to his Ranger days.

But still... he's dealing with it and from what little I've actually heard/read of the manuscript, it doesn't sound like a big piece of the chocolate cake of life to live with to me.

I spot a hooker being taken past the conference room windows, her outfit an eye jarring combination of neon pink and metallic gold. It makes me squint and I wonder how blinding that would be to Sentinel vision.

No, I don't believe Sandburg's denial, but I believe in his reasons for doing it.

And to watch the two of them rip themselves apart over the last few days... I swear I actually heard the sound of Blair's career being shredded over the TV. The ripping and popping noises of broken threads and dreams. You didn't need to have super hearing for that.

I sigh, run my hand through my hair and straighten my shirt. I think I'll go find my partner. I think we need to put our heads together and come up with some ideas to help out one of our good friends.

 

 

Sentinel. I have a word for it finally. A word that fits really well. Sentinel. It's more than what Jim does, it's what he is. All the pieces finally falling together.

I'm sitting in the break room contemplating my coffee and the sugar free candy bar the Blair turned me onto to. I remember watching Jim throughout the Ventriss case. He was using his senses all over the place. That thing with the rug fibers, I mean, come on... and the one blonde hair caught in the glass. Fabulous detecting!

I wish I could do it. I wonder how much easier it would have been to disarm bomb if I'd been able to see like that, feel like that... Maybe I wouldn't have lost my nerve for bombs.

But then again... Moving from the Bomb Squad to Major Crime allowed me to get more involved in their lives. A place, I realize now, that I wanted to be.

This place has been duller recently. Ever since that bitch, Barnes. And Blair, once we had him back, he lost some of his sparkle too. But since this thing went public, the very air in here has been dismal.

I know. You're thinking that that's too poetic for an old bomb disposer like me, but Joel has some deep parts, you know? All that working with explosives make you think. Makes you appreciate things. Friends, Food. Poetry. I grin and shrug a little, taking a sip of the coffee. Apparently the air in here is still dismal if I'm my mind is wandering off like this.

But now I wonder, if Blair was dismal before... will he bounce back now? At least a little or will it be like standing on the edge of a black hole where there used to be a super nova? Did I mention I like astronomy? When the rain isn't in the way of course.

Damn. He gave everything up for Jim. And Jim, Jim had better… Well - he'd better do something fantastic.

I look up and see Rafe and Brown headed this way. There's purpose in their stride and determination in their faces. I quickly pocket the candy because this looks important, and because Brown's taken a liking to them too and he's just going to have to get his own this time.

Brown sits to my left, and Rafe to my right.

"What are we going to do about Blair?" asks Brown.

I have to smile. It seems that while our observer trashed his university career for the sake of his partner... none of us believe him. I'm proud of that. Major Crime has some damn fine detectives, but fine people too. I don't know what we can do for Blair, if anything, but giving him our support and respect can't be wrong. And he deserves that... that and so much more.

~End~