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This story began as a chat fic but turned into something much larger. Thanks as always goes out to TAE the beta monster. A big thank you also goes out to those who give me such kind feedback on my stories. This story does contain an OFC. Let me know if you like her or not.
The usual disclaimers apply. I don't own Jim, Blair, or Simon. All sentinel things are owned by Pet fly. I do however own Cathy.
"Oh, I would never for a moment think that you were singling Major Crime out, I know that all of the departments have to take their turn donating the time of their officers for important tasks like this."
Simon Banks cringed, his dynamic duo's latest escapade had brought them and Major Crimes to the attention of the Police Commissioner, just as special tasks were being handed out. Of all the times to get noticed, this was the worst. Major Crimes usually got overlooked for special duties because of their caseload. Until a certain pair of detectives got themselves noticed just as the roster was being made; a quick check had shown that this department was way behind on the donation of the time for certain types of special duty. Well, perhaps a day of hazardous duty would teach the pair to be more careful in the future. Yeah and they might elect him Miss America, too.
Swallowing a couple of aspirin, the tall police captain looked out over the bullpen that he ruled. Eight-fifteen and no sign of the troublesome, but hardly identical, twins. A whirling dervish shot through the door and into the break room.. It was followed by a thundercloud carrying a large white box. Simon was predicting some dangerous thunderstorms before the day was over.
Blair Sandburg, the most junior of all the detectives, came flying back, dropping napkins on every desk as he passed. The still rumbling black cloud that was detective Jim Ellison, followed the napkin fairy with a box of pastries.
"Bringing in treats is not going to make up for being late Sandburg!" He growled at his long haired partner, as he offered the box to Joel Taggart.
"As far as I'm concerned," the former bomb squad captain said, munching on his Danish, "If you feed me like this, you can be late every day." The rest of the bullpen mumbled agreement as they munched on their sweets.
Grabbing a jelly-filled sweet treat, The youngest detective headed for the dragon's lair. Seeing the detective coming, Simon opened the door for him, while smiling like a shark at the senior detective. When Simon hadn't motioned him in as well, Jim had decided to count his blessings and totally engross himself in his computer and reports until Sandburg emerged from battle. Besides, Sandburg had lost the coin toss on who would get to face their captain and friend,
Blessed Protectorship proving stronger than will, Ellison gave up and checked on his partner. He could see the long haired head bobbing up and down like a buoy. However, there had not been any blood, raised voices, or murdered bodies, so perhaps the pastry had worked.
"Blair, you and Jim have a nice day. RAFE, IN MY OFFICE." Captain Banks headed back into his office while Blair quietly, but still alive, quickly moved out of the way for the other junior detective with his case update.
"Jim, let's go. We're pulled off our cases for the day. Simon gave us special duty." Blair grabbed his jacket and headed for the door as he spoke. The sentinel was immediately up and after his guide.
Groaning to himself, the senior detective moved quickly to catch up with his partner. Somehow, he had known that the last arrest was going to come back and bite him. All right, so chasing a suspect into the hotel where the state senator was giving a fancy buffet charity dinner to the city's first families was not the smartest thing he had ever done. It was hardly his fault that the guy had run. He didn't even want to think of what kind of duty Simon had come up with as punishment.
Blair was holding the elevator as Jim joined him. His backpack over one shoulder and studying a piece of paper in his hand, Jim was struck by how much the junior detective once more resembled the graduate student he had been.
"What exactly are we going to be doing, Sandburg? Special duty can be any one of several temporary duties." Looking over at his remarkably non-bouncy, as well as nearly silent, partner, the older man didn't need detective skills or sentinel abilities to know that whatever it was would not be good.
"Sorry Jim, I'm under orders not to tell you. All I can say is that this is considered hazardous duty. But considering that you chased a suspect through the senator's buffet, resulting in a number of wealthy and important people looking like they had been in a food fight, it could be a lot worse." Blair didn't try to stifle his smile at how those prim and proper people had looked.
"It's not my fault the guy ran! We were told he was a suspect and needed to be brought in. We saw him on our way home, stopped him and said we wanted to ask him some questions. He was the one who decided to run. And I seem to remember that you were right behind me, I wasn't the only one who ran into that buffet." Jim didn't smile at the memory, as he had known quite a few of those people, and the ones that he didn't know, his father and brother did.
As they entered the garage and headed towards the truck, Jim was still thanking God that his dad and brother had not been there, as planned. That would have been too embarrassing. Climbing in the old, but beloved and faithful, truck, he still had no idea where he was going or what he was suppose to do when he got there. Come to think of it, this had happened a lot since he met Sandburg. Jim gave a half smile; he would just have to let the guide, guide. Glancing over, he noticed that the long haired junior detective at least had one of Simon's maps. With his partner's map-reading skills and sense of direction, as well as his captain's inability to make an accurate map, they should have at least as much chance of getting where they were going as Wily E. Coyote had of catching Road Runner.
"You know, Sandburg, I'll have a really hard time driving if you don't tell me where I am going. Simon will never know you told me ahead of time, so just tell me, already!" Jim growled at the younger man, who was bouncing around like a puppy that was being taken on an outing after having been cooped up too long.
Blair grinned. "Just take a right out of the garage, and then a left at the first light. Actually, I think you'll like this assignment once, we get going on it."
Following his partner's instructions, Jim pulled out into the traffic. "If we get lost, you are the one who is going to explain to Simon what happened and why we didn't do whatever special duty he assigned to us."
"Actually, this isn't too bad. Simon called it hazardous duty, but as long as your keep your hearing dialed down to about 3 you should be fine. I really do think you will enjoy it." Blair continued bouncing as he pulled his hair back in a ponytail.
"Just how dangerous is this going to be, Chief?" The detective already knew he was going to hate this, but he was beginning to be a little concerned about just what they were getting into.
"We're here. Pull into that parking lot over there." The former grad student began shoving things into his ever-present backpack.
"An elementary school?" No way, Simon would not do this to him. Okay, Jim was willing to admit that he had gone a little far when he chased that suspect into the buffet line at the senator's big schmoozing thing. And catching the guy by tackling him into the dessert end of the table was a bit much. But nothing warranted his being sent here. Sentinel of the Great City and former covert-ops Army Ranger, James Ellison cringed as he got out of his truck and followed his guide up to the school doors.
"Jim Ellison! Still getting sent to the principal's office I see!" A fortyish brunette laughed. She was tall and more what one might call handsome, than pretty. She had the look of someone who, rather than consciously dieting and exercising, simply led a healthy and active life. The quick and easy smile that came to her face at the sight of the large detective told you that she was frequently amused by life and enjoyed the humor that she found in it.
"Oh, I can just see Jim getting sent to the principal's office!" Blair snickered.
"I seem to remember you getting sent to the office a lot more than I was, Cathy!" Jim smiled.
"When I was told that they were sending two officers for the gun safety and career day lectures, I hardly expected to see you. I hope it isn't a reflection of our reputation that you required backup for our yearly Career Day and safety lecture?" She smiled at the two men.
"I'm sorry. Blair, this is Cathy Grayson, a friend of mine and the principal here. Cathy, this is my friend and partner, Detective Blair Sandburg."
"Nice to meet you." The younger man smiled and shook her hand.
"I always thought you were destined for far greater things than sitting in an office building making money, James Ellison." She chuckled. A sound that the sentinel found as pleasant now as it had been twenty years ago.
"I would have gone into a coma just to relieve the boredom. Somehow I was never able to see you as a society wife pledging for all the correct charities and doing lunch with the ladies. I guess neither of us was cut out for the good life of the rich and idle." Jim gave a half grin that she was happy to notice came easier than it had, once upon a time.
"I have a meeting to get ready for unfortunately, so I can't chat. But here is the schedule for the day. I can't tell you how much we appreciate this. With the guns in schools incidents that have happened the last few years, we all feel a little better with the kids getting safety lectures." Cathy was still looking at Jim while Blair grinned.
"The police are happy to help in anything that will keep kids safe." Jim looked up from the schedule, "Really, Cathy, attaching a personal proposition to an official document?"
"It's only personal, detective, if you decide to call me. And I hope you do, because I really have missed you." Cathy smiled as her school friend slipped the note into his wallet.
"We have to get going to make the first group. It was nice seeing you again, Cathy, and I will call you." The senior detective smiled at her. Both men shook her hand and headed for the door.
"Tell me, detective, do you still watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer every year?" Cathy looked up from her desk as she asked.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I do." Jim answered as he left, with Blair right behind him.
Only Jim heard her sentinel soft response. "I'm sorry to hear that, You know Rudolph wasn't the only one who understood."
"Okay kids, what should you do if you find a gun?" Jim was sitting on the floor surrounded by five and six year olds.
"Don't touch it and go find an adult and tell them about it." A voice answered back.
"That's right. What is the most important thing to remember about guns?" The sentinel asked.
"Guns aren't toys, they can kill people." The kids answered together, looking up at their new hero.
"That's right. Are there any questions?" Jim no sooner asked, than a sea of hands erupted.
"If you're policemen, why don't you dress like policemen?" A bright little boy asked.
"Because we're a special a special type of policeman called a detective. And detectives are allowed to wear regular clothes." Jim explained.
"Do you get to ride in a police car when you go out to help people?" A black haired girl asked.
"Um, no, actually, Detective Ellison drives us around in a big old blue and white truck named Sweetheart." Blair answered with a smiled before Jim had a chance to respond.
"How did Detective Sandburg get to be a detective since he's so short?" A larger boy asked.
"I admit he is pretty short, but I wouldn't trade Blair for a hundred partners that are bigger, stronger, or faster. Want to know why?" Jim asked since the younger man was too busy laughing to answer.
"Yes" came a unanimous request for the answer to this mystery. Blair merely raised an eyebrow.
"Because Blair's not only my best friend, but he's smarter than anyone else I know. He doesn't have to be bigger, or stronger, or faster than the other guy is, because he's smarter than the other guy. He figures out what they are going to do before they do it and stops them from doing it." All the kids looked in awe at the blushing guide.
"Thanks man, I wouldn't trade you either." The guide smiled at his sentinel.
"All right, class, It's lunch time. So thank the detectives for coming to talk to us and then line up for lunch." A teacher said as she smiled at the two men and moved her class on to the rest of their day.
"Thank you, detective Ellison. Thank you, detective Sandburg." A chorus went up from the little bodies as they all scrambled to get in line.
"You're welcome. We were happy to come and meet all of you." Blair answered ,while Jim helped a star struck little girl tie her shoe.
The two men turned to head out after watching as the line progressed down the hall. Hearing pattering behind him, the Sentinel turned just in time to catch a hug from the little girl he had helped before she raced to catch up once more with the rest of her class.
"I think you got a fan, there." Blair smiled as the two men headed to the truck.
"She's just after me for my shoe tying abilities." Jim grinned, getting in the driver's side.
"You know any places for lunch in the area?" Jim asked somewhat hesitantly.
"Mama Mioni's Soul Food is five blocks from here, go right and it's on the left.
"You're the guide." Jim headed right.
The food turned out to be surprisingly good. It was Southern recipes that had been in the family for so long no one remembered exactly who had first used them. Both men thoroughly enjoyed their meal.
"So, tell me about Cathy", Blair leaned back in his chair.
"Nothing to tell. We went to the same schools. She was literally the girl next door." Jim continued eating without looking up.
"So, just a girl you dated in school."
"Actually, we never dated. We were just friends. Sometimes I would walk her home if some of the boys were harassing her." Jim explained.
"Protecting the tribe even then. So you kept the bullies away from her?" The younger man continued probing
"She was tall. And she wasn't thin like girls were suppose to be, she was kind of plump, but more just big. She wore glasses and braces. Just a normal teenager who didn't fit in with the other rich kids in the neighborhood. They tended to harass her a lot. If I walked her home, they weren't as bad. No big deal."
"You know, Jim," Blair smiled at his older friend, "I bet if I asked her, she would say it was a big deal. Kids are cruel to outsiders. I know I would have appreciated someone helping me like that in school."
"Yeah, they can be. All I did though was walk her home a few times, so the other kids wouldn't tease her." Jim answered thoughtfully.
"So, are you going to call her? Sounded like she had missed you." Blair asked, finish up his lunch.
"I think maybe I will." Jim got up and payed the bill.
The drive back was kept on the topic of the Jags and the Seahawks, with Jim and Blair arriving in perfect time to get to the room for career day questions.
"That's basically what being a detective entails. Are there any questions?" Jim asked as hands went up.
"How long does it take to become a detective?" An interested boy in front asked.
"It depends on the Department. In ours after about 3-4 years as an officer you can take the detectives exam. If you score high enough, you get put on the roster, from which they interview and choose new detectives. It can depend on other things as well, though. I came in from the military, so I was allowed to take the exam after six months. Detective Sandburg had been riding with me for 4 years as an observer so he was allowed to get his detective status right away." Jim explained.
"Do you have to go to college to be a detective?" A girl asked.
"You have to go the police academy, but not to college. However those that go to college are more apt to be given promotions and usually start with higher pay."
"Do you have to be good at spelling and grammar?" A kind of nerdy looking child asked.
"Not if you have a partner who is." Blair answered quickly, grinning at Jim.
"Do you get to choose what division you work in?" A tall girl in back asked.
"Somewhat. You can put in a request for a certain division, but if they don't need anyone new, you would either stay where you are or get sent to another one. Or your captain can have you sent to another division if there is a problem of some kind with where you are."
"Are there as many women detectives as there are men?" A bright girl asked.
"I think that depends on the division you are in. Ours only has one, but I know that some of the others have more women than men." Blair responded
"Do all detectives work with partners?" A younger boy asked this.
"The smart ones do. No, not all detectives work with partners, but most do. Usually a partnership will have a senior detective, like me, partnered with a junior detective, like Detective Sandburg." Jim answered.
"Do you get to pick your partner?" An older jock, who had been looking askance at the younger detective, asked.
"The division Captain makes the pairings. The best partnerships are where the two compliment each other. I came in with a military background, so I tend to be more of a take action kind of officer. Detective Sandburg comes from an academic background, so he's more apt to out think someone. The important part though, is that each of us sees thing the other might not. By putting us together, our Captain knows that both angles are covered." The senior detective hoped that kid wasn't planning on joining the force unless he changed his outlook.
"Detective Ellison and Detective Sandburg, thank you so much for coming to speak to us today. Now, you all have ten minutes to collect your things from your desk. Remember to get your civics reports done for tomorrow." The teacher brought the questions and answers to a close.
After shaking hands with the teacher, who began getting her students collected, Jim and Blair returned to the school office to sign out. Blair waited in the admittance area while Jim went into the principal's office to let Cathy know they were going. Her smile upon seeing the larger detective was a good sign for the renewing of the friendship. Blair hoped that Jim would follow through on his plans to call his old friend. From what he could tell, she seemed to have been a bright spot in his friend's painful growing up years.
"I was told to report to the principal's office, ma'am." Jim tried his best to look and sound like an errant schoolboy.
"I see. And what did you do that you were told to come and see me?" Cathy tried hard to sound severe, but couldn't repress her smile.
"I left without telling a friend goodbye." He didn't have to try and sound repentant now.
"Yes, you did. Your friend missed you a lot Jim, but she did understand why you had to get out."
"Then you were the only one who did. I'm not even totally sure that I understood why." Jim was looking out the window, now, at the kids getting on the buses.
"I think you would have been surprised at how many of the people who knew you did understand why you left." She was looking at her friend as he watched her students leaving.
"Maybe. Listen, I was wondering if you were free for dinner tomorrow night at say, six, or maybe sometime this week?" Jim looked at her hopefully.
"Oh, Jim, you probably have no idea how long I wanted you to ask me something like that. Yes, as a matter of fact, tomorrow night at six is fine." She smiled up at her friend.
"Great. I'll pick you up at six, then." Jim was grinning like a child with a piece of candy, when he and his partner left her office with her address.
"Dinner tomorrow night, I really hope it goes well for you, man." Blair commented, as he and Jim entered the loft.
"Even if nothing else happens, I'll have reconnected with an old friend. If things click and we decide to go out again, so much the better." Jim smiled as he headed up to his room to change into lounging clothes and put away his weapon and shield.
A day of Jim Ellison, pit bull of Major Crimes, grinning, and, if rumors were to be believed, even whistling, had everyone curious.
"Sandburg! My office!" The guide shrugged at the Sentinel and reported to his Captain's office.
"Who is that man out there and what has he done with my detective? I haven't seen Jim like that since he was dating.... all right Sandburg who is she?" Simon looked at the junior detective with his `I am the boss and you are going to tell me everything' look.
"Apparently, the principal at the school we went to, yesterday was an old friend of Jim`s; the two of them are having dinner, tonight." Blair explained, smiling.
"Jim has a date? Have all the law enforcement agencies been informed and have we run her through all the crime computers?" Simon asked, smiling as he shook his head.
"I think you have my dates and his mixed up. Mine are the ones that need to be run through the computers and require all police agencies to be alerted. Is that all, Captain?" Blair got up to head out as Simon waved him towards the door.
"You know, Sandburg, I'm not even certain I remember what a date is. Do you?" Simon smiled at his younger friend.
"Vaguely. I seem to remember them as prearranged meetings with females. I think I went on a lot of them, once." Blair grinned as he left the office.
Jim smiled across the table. "I really like that dress on you. It's a good color."
"Thank you, it's one of my favorites. You look very nice, as well." She answered nervously.
"Uh, thanks." Jim smiled awkwardly.
"Jim, the one thing we have never been around each other, is nervous; at least not since the day we were in second grade and you took on four of the sixth graders because they were bothering me at recess."
"I seem to remember that I won." Jim laughed, more at ease.
"I seem to remember the playground supervisor having to come and rescue you." Cathy laughed.
"What did you expect? I was outnumbered four to one and they were all bigger than me!" Jim answered in mock outrage.
"I also remember that it was the first time anyone had ever thought I was worth protecting. Did I ever thank you for all the times you played Sir Galahad and came and rescued me?" She smiled at her hero.
"All I did was walk you home a few times and tell the bullies to leave you alone. It was barely anything." Jim was honestly confused at her thanking him.
"It was more than anyone else ever did for me," She quietly answered as the waiter came.
"So you never found a knight in shining armor like you used to talk about?" Jim asked, taking one her hands after the waiter had left with their orders.
"Oh, I thought I had; but then he rode off one day without a word." She teased.
"Inexcusable of him." He smiled at her.
"Oh, I was able to excuse him. I understood why, but I always wished that I had gotten up the nerve to tell him how much he had meant to me. Maybe it would have made things a little easier for him. I know it made things easier for me knowing that he cared a little." She continued holding his hand.
" I cared a lot. I just never thought you would see anything in me.' Jim was looking away from her, embarrassed.
"Excuse me! You were Mr. Popular. Captain of the football team, star center on the Basketball team. As well as being on the A honor roll. I was amazed that you were willing to be seen with the resident geeky dork girl." She was laughing, now, amazed that he had though she might not go out with him.
"Yeah, popular as long as I won the games. You were Valedictorian, head of the Debate team, went state every year in chess. I always felt kind of dumb around you." Jim admitted, smiling.
"You were never dumb, Jim. If you were, you wouldn't have been on the honor roll." She answered, shocked that he had been intimidated by her.
"My dad wouldn't have accepted anything less from his sons." Jim answered honestly.
The arrival of their food forced them to stop holding hands while they ate.
"So, no ladylove came into your life?" She continued as they ate.
"I was married for about 2 years, She was a good friend, but I guess I really just wasn't ready for marriage. I hadn't been back from Peru for more then a few years and was a mess. It didn't work out very well." Jim answered as he ate.
"So, you still riding horses? I won't ask about breeding Dobermans since I meet two of them at your door." He smiled at her.
"Izzy and Blitz were just saying hello. Yes, I still ride horses. From what I heard in the news a few years back you still ride some, yourself." She snickered as Jim turned red.
"I hadn't ridden in years. I was just glad that I didn't fall off." Jim admitted, smiling.
"I take it that horses are not your usual mode of high-speed pursuit?" She was still giggling lightly, but Jim didn't find it as annoying as he did in most women.
"I prefer a truck, but I've used motorcycles, boats, and helicopters. Blair's waiting for the day I use a Winnebago." They both chuckled over the mental images of that.
"You're more than welcome to come out and ride with me as long as you don't try doing a chase on one of my babies." She offered, hopefully.
"I have kind of missed riding, but I don't remember how to do much more than stay on."
"If you're interested in relearning, I would be happy to teach you, if not, we can find other things to do. I would imagine that you still like camping and hiking." She raised an eyebrow, turning it into a question.
"Yeah, I still do those things. I'd like to try winter camping, sometime, but Blair gets cold really easily, so I don't think he would like it much. Maybe Simon would, though."
"I take it Blair is the one you usually do things with?" She asked, intrigued.
"Usually. He's a good friend." Jim answered easily and honestly.
"I'm glad you found a friend like him. A person's lucky if they find one really good friend in their life, it sounds like you found one." She smiled, a trifle envious of Jim's luck.
"Yeah, I was lucky to find him. I was even luckier, though, that I've found a number of really good friends, starting with you." Jim smiled as she blushed.
"Thank you. I've always considered you a good friend, too." She smiled, as this time, he blushed.
"Do you think maybe we could do this again?" He looked up at her hopefully.
"I would like that, Jim, but this time, let`s not wait twenty years." She smiled.
Jim chuckled as they made plans; all was at peace in his world. At least for the moment.
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