Categories > TV > Sentinel


by queasy 0 reviews

Simon thinks about choices.

Category: Sentinel - Rating: PG - Genres: Drama - Characters: Simon - Published: 2005-06-26 - Updated: 2005-06-26 - 1260 words - Complete


It is far too early in the morning for any sane man to be awake, but here is an entire building full of people, or at least the part of it that you can see, buzzing with false energy. Whether it's caffeine or adrenaline-induced, you don't care, as long as it's legal and helps get the job done. All you're really interested in at this time of day is your own fix, and with that in mind you hand the flavor of the day to Rhonda, who somehow always manages to come in before you do. How and why she does so is a mystery, but since there's nobody nagging you to solve it you don't ask.

She fails to comment on the fact that your apparent desire for variety in your beverages inconveniences her, in spite of the stack of paper waiting on her table, in spite of the fact you always say that it all tastes the same to you whether you're drinking an expensive blend or instant, as long as it isn't decaf. It's been a long time since you've been able to make any fine distinctions of taste or smell; probably one of the side-effects of your cigar habit, but in this job, you don't expect to live long enough to worry about the more serious consequences. Carpe diem, as they say. Though it might be one of the minor irritations, like the occasional shortness of breath, that kills you.

You have what seems like a lifetime Coffee-of-the-Month membership at your cousin's shop. You're not sure why, except he seems to associate cops with coffee. Coffee is good though. If he'd owned a doughnut shop, he'd probably be sending regular deliveries of doughnuts, and you'd never see a crumb of it. Actually, you suspect it's his way of saying thank you for saving his daughter from kidnappers some five or six years ago. And perhaps a kind of recompense for failing to visit, or invite you to his house for as many years running, although your job had absolutely nothing to do with the kidnapping.

You wonder if Rafe and Brown have made progress on their case. They have been at it all night and all yesterday long, as well as the day and night before that, and are long overdue for a shift change by now. They look ready to sleep on their feet. Rafe is yawning wide enough to catch flies, his hair is mussed, and his second-hand but still expensive-looking suit is uncharacteristically rumpled; Brown looks somewhat washed out, an impression not helped by the contrast with his gaudy shirt. Still, they will be free to go as soon as they hand in their report. You offer coffee, and Rafe accepts gratefully with a trace of embarrassment while Brown has already helped himself, breathing in the aroma with a look of bliss. Perhaps you'll buy some more of this. At any rate, they seem to like it much better than last week's, a truly exotic concoction which made Jim grimace before Rhonda opened the package. That one you passed on to Joan as usual. It annoys her, but she hates to waste anything, and it makes Daryl think all his coffee-drinking friends are crazy, which both of you agree is a fair trade.

The last time you were with Daryl, he quoted to you the words of some famous person(you can't remember who), something about having the courage to choose betraying your country over betraying a friend. It's not so simple a matter as he seems to think, but he's on an anti-patriotism kick, no thanks to Kincaid's Sunrise Patriots. You're not sure how his borrowed new philosophy works with his ambition to join the police force, but he doesn't see any difficulty. You hope he never needs to learn all the other choices left unstated.

Later in the day, you, half the cops in the precinct, a handful of nosy onlookers, and maybe half a dozen firemen are at the smoking wreck of a warehouse not unlike the one Sandburg used to live in. The numbers say something about Cascade; you're not sure what, but it probably isn't complimentary. Jim descends on the scene like some bizarre combination of starving bloodhound, affronted mother hen and avenging angel all in one package, with Sandburg a noisy, enthusiastic shadow yipping at his heels.

Only about half the warehouse was damaged by the blaze (it was already a wreck before the fire), by some strange miracle best not questioned, and the dynamic duo have found their unerring way to the room where the criminally stupid criminals who managed to trap themselves in the burning building are cowering and Mirandized them by the time the others catch up. They are so grateful that they are no longer in danger of burning to death that they make no fuss, even when Jim, nostrils flaring and jaw muscle twitching, lifts several suspicious-looking packages and two guns off them.

You do not comment on the public display of his abilities though you wince inwardly every time it happens. For someone so adamant on keeping his senses secret, he is very un-self-conscious in their use, but he also uses them most effectively that way. Such displays no longer raise any eyebrows; since you seem to accept them as normal, your men follow your lead. Whether they think his uncanny talents are the result of Ranger training, psychic abilities or something else, you've never asked, as long as they believe in him. What is important is that when he tells them to duck or run, he has their immediate, unquestioning obedience, and sometimes, it is all that keeps them alive. Or him, for that matter, which is why you've not taken him to task for his indiscretion. You know that his senses are bound up in his emotional state, and you don't want him to stop to think if it's safe to use them, in case someone unseen pulls a trigger in that brief hesitation.

The choice to allow Jim free rein to do whatever comes naturally entails other dangers of its own, however. Like watching a train wreck in progress, you see Jim sniff at a package in his hand and flinch. Sandburg is instantly at his side to put a hand on his shoulder and grab his hand before he can rub his face with it. They exchange urgent whispers for several moments before the kid gives Jim's arm a final pat and makes his way to you.

"Simon," he says anxiously, "Jim snorted coke up his nose," much the same way you remember Daryl telling you, "Dad, Tyler broke Mom's favorite vase." The fact that Daryl had been ten at the time in no way detracts from the resemblance. All it means is that the only response you have the heart to make is to shake your head and order him to take Jim home. And he wonders why he gets saddled with so many nicknames?

So you return to the bullpen to find Rafe and Brown still there, whispering excitedly over coffee-stained maps and records, and trying to unobtrusively block your view of the pot of coffee they have appropriated from your office while you were out. Rhonda's face is a study in innocence as she sips a cup of coffee somewhat different in color and consistency from the sludge offered in the breakroom. You say nothing, and get yourself a cup of the sludge. It all tastes the same to you after all.

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