Captain Simon Banks wearily made his way into his home and closed the door behind him. Before he could make another move, gentle hands reached up and caressed his shoulders, moving downward to help him with his coat. Welcoming the caresses, Simon allowed those hands to guide him to the big sofa in the middle of the room where he sat and gave himself over to the much-needed touch.
A soft, feminine voice drifted down to his ears and he could feel his body relax at the soothing tones. "You are so tense and you've only been gone for few hours." The woman's hands kneaded the rock-like shoulders, offering some desperately needed relief to the large man. "Simon, what could have possibly caused this in such a short amount of time?"
Simon snorted in disbelief, "What else? Ellison and Sandburg."
"Oh, no. What did they get into this time? I thought you said this was going to be a routine bust."
"When is anything ever *routine* where they are concerned?" He took a deep breath to ease his weary soul. "I should have known adding them was a recipe for disaster, but they're my best team and I just don't think I could do this job without them out there with me." Simon's head dropped in defeat. "Which, I'm sure, will be a great comfort to me if anything ever happens to them when I send them out on a call."
The hands stilled. "I'm not sure I like this tone. Did something really bad happen? Were either of them seriously hurt?"
Simon could hear the fear in the beloved voice. He hadn't meant for her to worry, but it spoke a lot about her sensitivity to certain things. He reached his hand up and grasped her small one in comfort. "No, this time it wasn't that bad." He shook his head. "It's just, I don't know if I can keep sending my two best friends out there to deal with all of that stuff. Today just brought that home. It could have gone a lot worse."
"You were right there with them. You wouldn't have let anything happen to them. *I* know that and I'm sure *they* know that."
"Yeah, but what about the times when I can't be there or when they stumble on something bad when I'm dealing with something else? Today just got me to thinking."
Gracefully, the woman moved around the sofa to sit beside Simon. Taking both of his much larger hands into her own, she looked into his eyes in invitation. "So, tell me what happened. Help me understand what caused all of this."
"Are you sure you want to hear it? I know how you feel about the whole police aspect of my life and telling you about today isn't necessary."
"Simon Edward Banks, it *is* necessary because I love you and you obviously need to work through whatever happened today." She lifted her hand and caressed his head in much the same reassuring manner as she had her child a long time ago. Almost in the exact same way as her child had, Simon gave in to the touch and let out heartfelt sigh. "Talk to me, dearest."
Recognising the love in the offer, the big captain leaned his head into the caress and started to speak, "It was supposed to be a simple bust. We'd had our informants watching the place for a few days and we had the set-up down pat." Simon seemed to deflate into the sofa as he rested his head on the high back. "The first part went down like clockwork. We got in, took down the muscle, confiscated the merchandise, and cornered a good number of the big players. It should have been enough."
After several minutes of silence, the woman squeezed his hands in encouragement. "What happened to make it not be?"
"I got distracted by some reporters who had managed to outsmart the people we had doing crowd control." Simon gently pulled one of his hands free and ran it over his head in frustration. "Ellison must have picked up on something in one of the areas we hadn't searched yet because he and Sandburg took off before I knew it.
"From what Sandburg told me afterwards, they found a hidden area behind some boxes and being true to their nature, they went in without backup." Simon removed his glasses and rubbed the area between his eyes. "They went up these stairs and managed to discover some more guns and two of the big players - preparing to take a couple of shots at those of us below them."
A startled gasp drew his eyes up to his love's face. "They didn't manage to fire a shot because Ellison and Sandburg surprised them. They were able to disarm the men, but, unfortunately, they hadn't realised that the room held the shift horn. When it blew, Ellison collapsed in pain and the larger of the two thugs went after him." This time, Simon gasped as sharp fingernails nervously dug into his hand. He ignored the pain in the hopes that the rest of the story would ease her worry. "He didn't get too far thanks to Sandburg, though how I'm going to explain my detective's *lack* of deadly force in that type of situation to the police chief is beyond me."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, he took the felon out with a two-by-four he found on one of the boxes of guns *after* he put down his gun."
The grasp lessened and a small, chuckle escaped the woman. "You're kidding?"
"No, I'm not. Broke the guy's nose and fractured his cheekbone."
"Well, I suppose that's one way of dealing with things." She shook her head in wonderment. "I'd heard he could pitch, but I really didn't know he could hit as well."
The tiniest of smiles broke out on Simon's face. "Let's just say that the only way I'll be able to get his and my butts out of the hotseat with the Chief is by volunteering him for the precinct softball team for the next five years."
The woman's face creased with confusion. "But none of this sounds like something that would put you in that negative mood when you came home."
"It gave me few heart-stopping moments when I didn't know where they were, but I wasn't panicked until Jim started talking about smelling Blair's blood."
"What?! But I thought you said neither of them was hurt?"
"I said they weren't *seriously* hurt." Simon turned sideways to face her. "Seems that when Ellison recovered, he focused on helping Sandburg bring the goons downstairs. Once the uniforms took them away, Ellison must have focused in on his partner cause he suddenly just yelled out, 'Sandburg, you're bleeding!'" Simon frowned at the memory. "For a few minutes, I felt like I couldn't breathe thinking that Sandburg was headed for another hospital visit, but thank goodness that wasn't the case."
"So what was the case?"
"Well, it would seem that Jim's senses were still cranked up because Sandburg started laughing like he had flipped out or something. Come to find out, there had been a little nail in the wood and Detective Sandburg's unconventional act of heroism had gained him a little puncture."
The woman shook her head and laughed. "Oh boy."
He joined in the laughter. "Yeah, and all the reward he received was a nice big tetanus shot in the end." Simon's laughter slowly faded and was replaced by a worried frown. "Even though this wasn't serious, I couldn't stop that little voice in my head from reminding me this time it wasn't serious, but next time we might not be so lucky."
"Simon, you can't let thoughts like that bring you down. All that the 'what ifs' and the 'next times' make you do is second-guess yourself to the point where you can't do anything and that benefits no one." She moved closer and wrapped his arms around her body. "Besides, if I can live with how things are now, you certainly can. They are grown men totally capable of making decisions for themselves and we both just have to accept it."
Simon let out a rather surprised harrumph and closed his arms around her tighter as he kissed the top of her red head. "Thank you for that and for this whole session. Before we got together, I would have spent the rest of the weekend thinking about the 'next times' and I probably would have done something stupid come Monday morning. You're obviously good for me."
"Oh my, flattery will get you everywhere, Mr. Banks."
"That's good to know, Mrs. Banks." The scents from the kitchen finally registered with him and he sat up a little more as he enjoyed the aroma. "What is that wonderful smell?"
The woman beamed at the compliment and leaned back to kiss her husband's cheek. "*That* is a surprise. I figured you'd probably want something a little special tonight." She patted his arm and prepared to stand. "So, I combined an old recipe of mine with one from your mother and voila. I just need to go check to make sure it's finished and we'll be all set." She kissed him on the lips and started to move away. "Set the table for me?"
Simon grabbed her hand and when she looked down at him with a gentle
smile, he couldn't stop himself. "Anything for you. I love you,
Naomi Sandburg Banks."