Archive: If you could link to the story at the Simon Shrine at http://majorcrimes.freeservers.com/onsitefic.htm
Feedback (kudos, comments, constructive criticism) is always welcome and private is preferred.
Disclaimers: I was hoping they would be mine for Epiphany. Obviously that didn't happen or else I wouldn't be writing this.
Running: When Sorry Isn't Enough
By Sammi M.U.
"Dammit, Simon," Jim Ellison roared. "You could have stopped this from happening! It wasn't necessary for him to go undercover. We could have found someone else to do this. If you and your cronies hadn't been looking at the solve rates instead of his chance of survival, Blair wouldn't be in that hospital bed fighting for his life." With an almost visible hatred, Jim locked eyes with his boss and his voice took on a menacing quality. "Make no mistake. If he doesn't come out of this, it will be on your head and I won't forget it!"
For a second, it looked like Simon Banks was going to respond in his usual "I'm-the-boss-don't-use-that-tone-with-me" manner, but something in his friend's words visibly deflated him. "All I can say is I'm sorry, Jim. I didn't want Sandburg to end up here any more than you did." With feelings of loss and defeat eking out of his every pore, Simon released a heavy breath, "I'd give anything for this not to have happened."
"Yeah, well, too little – too late." Jim set his jaw and refused to give an inch. "This is your fault, Simon. You, as his immediate supervisor, put him out there. So the blame rests on your shoulders and your shoulders alone." He shook his head. "Sometimes, sorry just isn't enough."
Before any more could be said, one of the nurses walked into the waiting room and zeroed in on the combatants. "Detective Ellison, Mr. Sandburg appears to be waking. He probably would appreciate it if he saw a friendly face."
Ignoring the whispered, "Thank God" from his boss, Jim turned on his heels and headed towards his friend's room. Right before he pushed the door open to enter, Simon's scratchy baritone drifted to him. "For what it's worth, I am sorry. Tell Sandburg his speedy recovery will be in my prayers." A slight pause and then, "I'm tired, Jim. You don't know how tired. So, I'll see you whenever."
Three days later
As the sun shone brightly through his window, Blair Sandburg sat in his hospital bed smiling at his best friend's vastly improved storytelling skills. "So, H actually had to play the GQ part and Rafe was the homeless guy? It's the end of civilisation as we know it. I go to sleep for a few days and the world goes mad."
Jim grinned broadly, "You know what the funniest part is? H enjoyed the feel of that expensive suit so much that he's dipping into his "never been touched" savings account so that he and Rafe can go shopping."
"No way. The Hawaiian-shirt-corduroy-king has been brought over to the Armani side?"
"Yeah, and no one was more surprised than his partner. Rafe's been trying to improve Henri's wardrobe for years with no luck and suddenly, after a taste of the good life, H is giving in." Jim couldn't contain himself any longer as he gave into the relief and release of laughter. "You sh-should have seen Rafe's face when Brown asked him to schedule an appointment with his tailor. You would have thought he'd just asked him to have his baby."
In between giggles and moans, Blair managed to gasp out, "Oh man. Stop. I can't take any more. It hurts to laugh."
"But, I haven't told you about what happened to Megan's pink dingo coat on her last case. She was spitting mad over that little incident."
"I said stop. This is cruel and unusual punishment. I'm recuperating here."
Jim managed to sober up with only an occasional snicker. "Okay. I'll hold off for now in deference to your obvious frailty. But start preparing yourself. The story of the dingo coat's dynamic demise is gonna have you popping your stitches." He took a deep breath and let the sun warm him from the outside in. "Everyone's really glad that you're doing better. You had us all worried."
Blair smiled at the words his partner wasn't saying and gestured around his present-filled room. "I never would have guessed. You guys must have single-handedly cleaned out all of the florists and gift shops within a ten-mile radius. I'm going to have to leave half of this stuff for the wards because it would never fit in my room at the loft."
"I know we probably went overboard, Chief, but we just wanted you to know how much we appreciated you and liked having you around." Jim cleared his throat. "You really had me scared this time. Blowing half my check on get-well gifts is only a small price to pay. It means you lived to enjoy them."
Not liking the turn the conversation had taken, Blair decided to change the subject. "It's been a revolving door around here. I think I've seen everyone in Major Crimes at least twice." He went quiet for a minute as if he was in deep thought. "Well, almost everyone. Things must be pretty busy down at the station to keep Simon away. He's usually here as much as you."
Jim's face hardened into a granite mask and he practically spat out his next words, "He knows his presence isn't welcome."
"Whadya mean? Simon's my friend. Why wouldn't he be welcome?"
"Why do you think, Sandburg?" Standing quickly, Jim almost knocked over his chair. "This is pretty much his fault. If he hadn't authorised you for this assignment, you wouldn't have been hurt."
"Authori… What are you talking about? Were you in the same meetings I was? This was the last thing Simon wanted. He fought hard to keep me from going undercover in the first place." Blair attempted to sit up, but groaned as his head began to throb. "If you want to lay blame on anyone, it should be the commissioner. He was the one not accepting no."
Jim moved closer to help Blair rearrange his pillows. "Yeah and as I recall, Simon wasn't doing a lot of protesting. He's gone head-to-head with the commissioner before and come out on top. This time shouldn't have been any different." Using his senses, he catalogued his friend's vitals and didn't like the results. "Look, we can talk about this when you're feeling better. This mess with Simon can wait."
Blair's distress was evident on his face. "No, it can't, Jim. I'm not sure where you're coming from with this animosity towards him. Simon wasn't given too many choices in the matter. That day in his office he looked like a man with his back up against a wall. He didn't like how things were going down any more than you did."
Jim shook his head as he moved back by the window. "I didn't see any threats being made. Everything seemed pretty cordial between him and the commissioner. It was like they were inviting you out for a round of golf – not sending you into the hands of a killer."
"Sounds to me like you need to leave the observing up to an observer. Your detective skills may be great, but when you're looking for complicity and guilt, you find it in whoever's handy." Blair held up his fingers and began to tick off points. "One – Simon stood with us during the whole session. He never went near the commissioner. Two – every time the commish tried to include him in his statements, Simon would either ignore him or he'd give him one of his glares. Three – he chewed completely through four of his favourite cigars just in the time we were in there. And, four – when we first went in, the tension was strong enough to cut. They definitely weren't having a friendly discussion."
"Even so, he signed off on the assignment pretty quickly. When I tried to say something to him about it, he didn't want to hear it," Jim commented as he pulled his chair closer to the hospital bed and sat.
"If there's nothing you can do, would you want to rehash things with someone who's probably not too happy with you? I think there was some major pressure from the higher ups. This case has had everyone rattled and I can see the city council *and* the mayor playing some heavy cards to get their way." Blair shrugged – or a painful equivalent – and tried to explain. "We've seen Simon when he feels like he's being given no choice – it was classic behaviour."
Jim wasn't buying it. "Yeah, whatever." Blair released a sigh of frustration and Jim shook his head. "Look, we're not going to agree on this. I know what I saw. Not to mention the fact that I know his record. If he really wanted this guy, and he did, he wouldn't have cared how he got him," Jim pointedly eyed the bed, "or who got hurt in the process."
"You're right. We're not going to agree on this. All I keep remembering is him asking me over and over if I was okay with it – if I really wanted to do it. If he was doing any pushing, it was for my benefit. Something about this assignment scared him and he didn't want me involved. I honestly believe he wasn't given much choice in the matter."
"Well, that makes one of us." Jim glanced at his watch. "As much as I'm really enjoying this conversation, I need to get to the station and you need to get some rest." He squeezed the hand nearest him and turned to head out. "Maybe we'll talk later."
Blair held onto the hand until the other man turned back. "Jim, don't let your need to blame someone mess with you and Simon. He's our greatest ally and a pretty good friend. We don't need to lose that."
Jim had been working steadily for the last two hours on the mutation previously known as his incomplete paperwork. He couldn't believe that so much had accumulated in such a short time, but he was determined that every single piece was going to be completed before he left work that day. Or, at the very least, the pile wouldn't be quite as huge when his partner returned to "help".
He probably would have been further along if his mind and his senses hadn't kept drifting to the empty office across from him. There had been no movement from the closed-off room the entire time he'd been there and he was surprised because Simon rarely shut down his office when he was away for a simple meeting. It also wasn't like his boss to just skip out for no reason. Simon was too above-board for that.
Not that Jim cared or anything. After the stunt Banks had pulled with his partner, he could care less. But … it was still odd.
"Hey, Jim. Long time no see. How's Blair?" Joel Taggert asked as he moved up closer to the other detective's desk. "They set a release date for him yet?"
Ellison turned away from his contemplation of the empty office and his face relaxed into a smile. "Hey, Joel. Sandburg's much better and though they haven't said anything, I think he'll be holding court at home within the week."
Joel nodded happily. "That's great news. Should have known Blair would beat this. He's made of good stuff." His eyes drifted towards the empty office. "This will be a good morale booster for everyone after what's been going down around here."
"Did I miss something?"
"Lots of something." Noticing Jim's confusion, Joel pulled up a seat and got comfortable. "The biggest something is the commissioner's office is under investigation after this mishap with Blair. It would seem that our illustrious leader called off some of the extra backup that Simon had requested because he felt that it wasn't needed."
"What?! Was he crazy? Blair almost died because he was playing power games!" Jim looked like he was two steps from having a little discussion with the commissioner. "Didn't he realise what kind of shit would have hit the fan if Sandburg had died?"
Joel's face showed he was also just as angry, but his voice stayed level. "I think he was counting on the public not knowing."
"Fuck the public," Jim answered in that ominous Black Ops tone, "I was talking about me."
"Well, I'm sure he was counting on you and all of Major Crimes not knowing. Unfortunately for him, he pissed off the wrong person and he/she anonymously turned in transcripts and tapes of how bad he messed up." Joel allowed a small grin to escape at the thought of the commissioner's misfortune. "IA was practically pissing in their pants when they realised what they had. They've even brought in a state investigator so that no one can cry foul. Something tells me that Commissioner Bachman isn't long for Cascade."
"Yeah, well, good riddance to bad rubbish. I haven't liked him since he came here and started pulling all of the power from Chief Warren."
"I just wish this had all gone down at a time when it would have helped Simon and not hurt Blair."
Sandburg's arguments from earlier came back to pester Jim as things started to add up. "So, it looks like Simon might have been pushed into this whole mess."
The older man nodded, "Kicking and screaming."
"Then shouldn't he be here picking up the pieces and crowing over the developments?"
"You don't know?"
Joel seemed hesitant to relay his next bit of information. "Simon was put on two weeks administrative leave without pay by the commissioner for protesting Blair's use in the op. He was on Bachman's back so much before and put up such a stink after the kid was hurt that Bachman came pretty close to firing him." Joel's brow furrowed as he thought out loud. "What surprised me was when I last spoke with him, he didn't seem in any hurry to come back even though I was sure IA would toss out the leave. He said something about being tired. Guess he was looking at this as a vacation or something."
Jim had paled at his friend's words. "What did you say?"
"I said maybe he was looking at this leave as a vacation or something."
"No, before that."
"Uhh … he said he was tired?"
"Shit!" Before Joel could ask him what was wrong, Jim was practically racing to his superior's office and throwing open the door. Once inside, he didn't bother with turning on the lights as he steadily made his way over to the main desk. Leaning on the desk lamp was an envelope addressed simply, "JIM". With shaking hands, Ellison opened it and began reading, totally ignoring Joel as he came up beside him.
**"Dear Jim. I called to check on Sandburg a couple of times before I left and I was glad to hear he was doing much better. Let him know he's been in my prayers and thoughts and that I really wanted to be there. Circumstances just made it impossible.
Don't worry. I'm not planning on eating my gun. I have Darryl and my folks to think about. It wouldn't be fair to them and it wouldn't be fair to the people in Major Crimes. I owe you guys more than that.
What I am doing is getting away from here for a while. I don't know when I'll be back or even if I will. I'm not sure where I'm going, so I can't tell anyone.
All I know is that I'm tired of all the bullshit and I'm tired of sending people I care about into the line of fire. I'm tired of the bureaucrats and the ass-kissers telling me how to do my job and I'm tired of trying to explain myself. I'm tired of not knowing when and why, but being held accountable for who and what. I'm tired of second-guessing myself and I'm tired of being second-guessed. Most of all, I'm tired of looking at myself in the mirror and asking if I could have done more.
Could I have done more? Probably. Will other people think so? Maybe. Do I regret my part in what happened to Sandburg? Definitely.
Just so we're clear, you didn't say anything to me that day at the hospital that I haven't said to myself.
Tell Sandburg I'll see him. Whenever.
Oh, and just in case … I left a few things in my desk drawer. After a certain amount of time, you'll know what to do with them.
Take care, Jim."**
"Jim, what is it?" Joel had become worried over Ellison's prolonged silence. "Is something wrong?"
Without answering, Jim walked around the desk and pulled on the slim middle drawer. The scent of fine cigars tickled his nose and could have been the cause of his eyes quickly watering.
That could have been the cause and, later when he'd had some time to think about it, Jim would probably say the odour was definitely the cause. But, in that moment when ego, pride and posturing had no place, a small part of him recognised and accepted the message his sight was sending.
A neatly typed letter, signed and dated, a shiny badge looking as new as the day it was received, and a pristine service revolver lay in the positions their owner had carefully arranged them.