Borrowed Time

by Jane Davitt

"You're lucky you're not up on charges, Ellison."

He is. Hell, IA got hold of this and his ass would be bouncing all the way to the door marked early retirement. They won't, but sometimes Jim needs to face facts. I want him to admit that he screwed up, that's all. I've been trying for ten minutes and I'm getting stony eyes and a clenched jaw instead.

And they don't impress me.

"If Brown hadn't hauled you off Lassiter -- "

"I wouldn't have done anything," he protests and I swear to God he believes it. The man's capacity for self-delusion astonishes me. "I just -- Simon, you saw him. You saw Sandburg."

Yeah, I saw him after they'd patched him up. The kid's lucky. It looked worse than it was, but at the time, I'm guessing Jim saw the blood and not much else. Brown said it was dripping off Sandburg's sleeve, there was so much of it.

Jim wouldn't have liked that.

"I was subduing a criminal, and any force I used would've been reasonable and necessary, sir."

Word for word out of the training manual, but we both know he's lying. He was going to pound that slimeball into a greasy smear on the sidewalk, and I can't say I blame him. Mugging Sandburg and then slicing him up because the kid had less in his pockets than he did? The man's twisted and if I had my way, he'd be off the streets for a long, long time.

He'll probably get a year, with time off for good behavior.

"You had him in a headlock and you looked like you were about to go all Special Forces on his sorry ass. That doesn't play on the streets, and you know it. He'd have been screaming police brutality and he could've ended up walking. Is that what you want, Detective? Is that what you --?"

He breaks, finally, his control snapping, his hands slamming down on my desk hard enough that I hear the bullpen go quiet for a moment as the echo of it spreads out. His voice isn't loud, though, it's this hoarse, hurting whisper.

"You weren't there, Simon. You didn't see what he did to my Blair. You didn't see him lying there in the street bleeding. I thought he was dead. I thought I'd lost him again."

He doesn't know what he's just said, how much he's given away. He's breathing hard and his hands are shaking, but he's lost that ice around him and I guess he'll give me any words I want just so he can get over to the hospital and see for himself that Sandburg's okay.

He's not looking at me, though. I follow his gaze and he's staring at the calendar on my desk and my hands are cold, like they've been in water too long. God, has it been a year? I give up and I let him go to his Blair.

His Blair. Another of their secrets to keep; hell, this one I'll have to keep from them as well. Jim wouldn't like me knowing.

Just once, I'd like them to say thank you, Simon, appreciate it, but I won't hold my breath.

My hands still feel cold.

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