The View From Here
by Kimberly Workman
Summary: While Jim and Blair return to work, what does his replacement think of the duo? (The time period coincides with Work Was Never This Hard). #8 in the Broken Spirit Series.
Disclamer: Not mine.
I know I've only been here for three months, but I've never seen anything like this. Grown men, Major Crimes officers, all running around like they're about five years old. The office is decorated for a 'Welcome Back' party, decorations strewn around everywhere. Henri Brown is dashing from tying balloons to chiding Joel for sneaking his fingers into the prepared food. Could these be the strong men I had worked alongside? They were never this easy-going and happy around me, what changed? James Ellison, that's what changed. Ellison was the reason for this party, the reason for this party, the reason that I was here in the first place. Captain Banks called down to find someone to help out around here since Ellison was out on leave. I was the only one available; but then again I would have killed to come into the job. This was my chance to prove myself, to show the force that I was important. It wasn't like I thought Ellison was ever coming back, so I had plenty of time.
Now don't get me wrong, I think Detective Ellison was the best cop that's ever served. He's got the best arrest rate of anybody else, but after the shooting I was sure his career was all over. The incident was all over the paper, headlines screaming that one of Cascade's finest had been fell by a bullet and now lay paralyzed. There was no way he was coming back to work, his run as a noted detective was over and now it was my turn. But that wasn't the case. I'm not sure if Ellison's more determined than most or if the doctors were way off, but he's coming back to work today. Where does that leave me? Out of luck most likely. Even though Captain Banks told me straight that there would probably still be a need for me around here, I can't help but wonder if it's true. I mean, I could have tried to become Ellison's partner, but I heard he already had one. Somebody named Sandburg was all I gathered though. Everybody talked about him with a sense of awe and credited him with equality for every arrest that Ellison made. I wonder what made him such a great cop that he got paired with Ellison.
"Joel!" Brown reprimanded as he finished tying up a balloon. "Get away from that cake!"
The larger man looked up, deer in the headlights expression. "Sorry," he grumbled as he backed away from the offending sweets.
"Somebody go get the captain, we're almost ready," Brown called out.
"I will," Rafe offered as he left Brown's side and giving Joel a devious grin.
They all seemed so easy-going today. I don't know what it is, but Ellison must hold some kind of power over them. The whole time he was in the hospital, they were always over there visiting and acted really grim or happy depending on Ellison's mood that day. Maybe I could get that close to the man, it would be a real dream.
"Joel!" Simon yelled as he opened his office door and caught sight of the man. "Stop eating that cake!"
"I'm not!" Joel replied grumpily. "Is everyone against me here?"
"Quiet down everybody, I think I hear them coming," Brown warned.
The room silenced in anticipation of the return of the great man and his partner. I stayed at my desk, well it's about to become Ellison's desk again. I figure that he's going to head over here eventually and we can have a real heart to heart. Maybe he'd even see how hard I've been working and put in a good word with the captain.
The door opened and a young man rushed in, followed by a strongly-built man on elbow crutches. I knew from the papers that this was James Ellison, but I wasn't completely ready for the shock. I didn't know he was still crippled, not if he was coming back to work. A loud "Surprise" broke my musings.
"Jim! You look great!" Rafe commented.
"Yeah man, look at you," Brown added.
"I try," Jim smiled. "It's been rough, but I think I'm back."
"Glad to hear it," Simon said as he joined the group. "Cause we've got a ton of paperwork just calling your name."
"I haven't even been here two minutes and he's already putting me to work," Jim said to the younger man who was practically bouncing around. I wonder who he is. Ellison seemed to know him and none of the other guys said anything, so they must recognize him too.
"Well, you wanted to come back," the young man chuckled.
"Everybody's against me!" Ellison joked. Turning back to the cheerful detectives he asked, "Can I at least have some cake first?"
"What makes you think we've got you any cake?" Rafe asked with suspicion.
"You mean besides the fact that Joel's over there stuffing his face with it?"
The four men turned to see Joel taking a huge bite of Jim's 'Welcome Back' cake.
"Joel! You were supposed to wait for Jim to get here!" Brown said. "I'm not going to let a perfectly good cake sit around for two hours waiting for him. I got hungry," Joel said between bites.
"It's alright Joel, you go ahead," Jim was practically beaming. "Man I've missed this!"
"Well, you want to go have a piece of what's left of your cake?" the young man asked, smiling.
"Yeah, especially since you didn't make me any breakfast," Jim said as he steadied himself.
"It's not MY fault you don't like my cooking."
"If you can call that cooking," Jim replied as he got ready to walk.
The captain grumbled something that no one could possibly hear, but I think Detective Ellison did because he shot him a happy glance. Ellison continued on, making his way across the Bullpen. Rafe and Brown stayed a little behind, just watching. From what I saw, this couldn't be the same man that I read about in the papers. Where was the hard-nosed cop, the one who was strong and virile? There's no way that this broken man could ever get back what he had lost. I'm set, Captain Banks is going to need me for quite a while.
By that time, Ellison and the young man were standing in front of the 'Welcome Back' spread. A pile of presents was gathered on one end of the table and a blue and white cake was on the other, sitting beside a bowl of red punch.
"You want a corner piece?" the man asked, grabbing a knife.
"Yeah, upper corner," Jim motioned with a nod of the head.
"Grab me a glass of punch and take over to my desk, I need to sit down," Jim told him as he started off.
"You alright Jim?" Simon asked concerned, joining him in his slow progression.
"Yeah, yeah. My muscles hurt, that's all. Happens all the time, ask Sandburg."
"And that means that you're over-doing it," the young man called back, trying to get the punch in the too small glass.
I started gathering my papers up as I saw them move towards me. That was Sandburg? That was the great detective's partner? There was no way that this bouncy young man could be the one that all the other detectives looked upon in awe. He didn't even look like a cop, so how in the world did he get teamed up with the most respected detective on the force?
"Who's this? " Jim asked Simon.
"Thomas MacDonald, meet Jim Ellison. Jim, Tom," Simon made introductions.
I stuck out a free hand, still willing to make a good impression. "Nice to meet you, Mr. Ellison."
"You too," Jim nodded. "Give me a minute and we'll try that handshake."
"Oh, right, sorry," I apologized as he moved out of the way, letting Ellison collapse in his chair.
"Tom is our temporary officer. He's been taking up the slack since you've been out," Simon continued.
"Well, Tom, nice to know my desk has been in such capable hands," Jim smiled and stuck out his hand.
"You too, sir. I've heard so much about you," I joyously took Ellison's hand. He had such a strong grip, not what I would have expected from someone in his condition.
"Please, call me Jim. You're making me feel older than my body's telling me I am."
"Oh, sorry Mr...I mean Jim. It's just that you're such a legend and I was proud to serve as your replacement these past few months."
"Legend? My, my, I never knew I lived with a legend," Sandburg dramatically set down Jim's cake and punch as he bowed. "Here's your food oh great Detective."
"If I could reach you, I'd pop you," Jim laughed. "Tom, this is my partner Blair Sandburg. Tom's the replacement they hired while I was out."
"Nice to meet Tom," Blair thrust out his hand for me to shake, which I did hesitantly. Even if he was Ellison's partner, I'm sure he was just some kid that hung around to take other people's credit. "Don't let Jim fool you, he's nice to everyone but me it seems."
"Sandburg," Simon said, peeved.
"Hey Hairboy!" Brown called.
"My public awaits, I must depart." With that, he excused himself and went to join Rafe and Brown at the table. That must be a nickname for him, not that I can dispute it. Why was this kid allowed to wear long hair if he was a cop? And those clothes, what was he trying to prove?
"Is he always like that?" I let slip.
"No," Jim assured him. "Today he's pretty calm."
Simon and Jim laughed, while I just peered at them quizzically. They certainly were acting strange around this kid. Sandburg and Brown were gathering up the presents while Rafe walked over to us.
"You want us to bring your presents over here?"
"Presents? You guys shouldn't have gotten me presents," Jim said as he waved H and Blair over.
"Well, figuring you're back here after only five months, we had to do something to celebrate," H said as he deposited his armful onto Jim's desk.
"From the feel of it," Blair deposited his armful. "It's a pretty heavy way to celebrate."
Jim, noticing the obvious tension among the other members of Major Crimes, tried to ease the situation. "If you people don't get started eating soon, I'm going to have to go over there and eat that entire cake myself."
People looked around at each other, making halting motions toward the table. Conversation soon started and the mood lightened. I just stood at the desk, feeling out of place and out of luck. I didn't fit into this friendship yet.
"Now," Jim clapped his hands. "Presents."
"Open mine first," Rafe thrust a present at Ellison.
"Ooook," Jim took the gift. He began to unwrap the appealing paper. He was thrilled at the contents. "Rafe! You really shouldn't have." Jim held up his gift, an appealing light blue silk tie. "I'm putting it on right now!" With that, he began to undo the tie he was wearing.
"It doesn't even match what you're wearing," Blair commented.
"And I care because.....?"
"Fine, if you want to go around mismatched after I took the time to pick out a nice suit of clothes for you, far be it from me to stop you."
"I've, um, I need to go get these files down to Records," I tried to excuse myself.
"Don't be silly, stay and party with us," Simon tried to halt me. I knew he was just trying to be nice and really didn't want me around.
"No, no. I can run these down and be back up later."
I left, hurrying faster than I should have. I could hear the conversation continuing as I exited, no one seemed to care that I was gone. I didn't feel like going down to Records yet, so I went to the coffee shop across the street instead. I needed to get out of there to clear my head and figure out what I wanted to do. I wanted to make a good impression on Ellison, but the way the guys were acting it was impossible to do so without the consent of Sandburg. I just didn't see why they were so impressed by this kid. He didn't look like anyone important to me, so why should I treat him as such? My musings continued on as I nursed my coffee. I didn't realize it, but the hours passed quickly. It was 12:30 before I realized it.
'Oh man!' I thought. 'I've got to get back to work, Captain Banks is sure to have my head.'
I paid my bill and left quickly. I still had to run the files down to Records, so I went there first. Maybe it would have been best if I didn't though. Anne, the main secretary in Records, greeted me. She was always really nice to me and I adored her easygoing banter.
"Hey Anne," I smiled as I entered the office and caught her eye. "I've got some files from Major Crimes here."
"Hi Tom, great to see you," she beamed. "I heard you guys were having a Welcome Back party for Jim."
"They were, I snuck out. Really didn't feel right in the midst of all the hoopla."
"Oh you really should, Jim's a great guy. So is Blair, real charmer."
"Yeah, I guess," I tried to dismiss the name. I slid the files over to her. "Anyway, this is for the Piassa case that we finished up."
"Thanks," she said as I turned to leave. "Wait, before you go..."
I turned back to see her searching through some files on her desk. "Ah yes," she cheered as she brought out a few files. "Blair asked me to send these up for him, could you do it for me?"
I was in no mood for this, but I silently nodded and took the files, leaving Anne to her daily tasks. Begrudgingly, I went over to the elevators and started pounding on the button, as if that would speed the process. Flipping through the files I could see that it was concerning an open case that Brown was a primary on. What in the world does the kid want with these? It's not like he was on the case or something.
The elevator finally came and thankfully it was empty. Entering and picking the floor, I went back to looking over the files. This Sandburg was already getting on my nerves. I mean, if Brown needed help on a case, I was there. They treated him like he was special, buddy buddies. It made me sick. How was I supposed to get a chance with Ellison if Sandburg was edging in on my action? The elevator finally arrived at the destined floor and I stalked out, past the small assembly waiting for a ride down.
'I'm not some errand boy. I shouldn't be doing this.' I grumbled. 'Who am I supposed to be? I'm an officer and he's what? His partner? It's not even official! I bet he's a partner in more than one way.'
Yeah, suprising as it seemed; I bet the tough Ellison is just a sissy boy inside. That's the only reason why he'd let some longhaired freak hang around, because he's doing him. By the time I got to the door of Major Crimes, I had worked myself into a tense disgust for the whole matter. Stalking over to Ellison's desk, I dropped the folder.
"Anne down in Records sent this up. Said it was for Sandburg," my voice was terse.
"Thanks man," Sandburg hadn't even noticed my tone. "I've been waiting for this."
I stalked away, allowing myself as little time their sickening presence as possible. What right did he have to get all these perks? He was a nobody; I'm the real cop. I just had to keep reminding myself of that. If I could prove myself to Ellison, maybe he'd drop the kid and see that a real cop was what he needed as a partner.
I found an empty desk to work through some of my case files, since Ellison had taken over the one that used to be mine. The hours droned on, slowly ticking by with little aid on my cases. Nothing was jumping out at me like it should have. Maybe the whole matter of Sandburg was getting to me, ruining my concentration. I don't know, but whatever it was it had to stop. Five o'clock rolled around and the majority of the desks were emptied. I wasn't planning on going anywhere, though. Staying late was one was to convince Captain Banks that I was a hard worker. I noticed that Sandburg was pressuring Ellison to go home and he even got Captain Banks in on the act. I bet Ellison would be one of those hard workers who put in a lot of overtime if it wasn't for Sandburg. He had this way of weaseling and getting everyone on his side. Detective Ellison would do good with me as a partner, I wouldn't force him to go home.
I finally gave up at about six thirty, headed home to my barren apartment. The job was my life, my chance to make it out of this sparse existence. That's why I headed into work every morning at seven. I could prove myself, show them that I was work giving a second look. I'm going to impress them so much that they'll bump me right up the ranks.
Ellison and his 'partner' finally made it in around nine. I had already been hard at work on the day's cases. Detective Ellison seemed to be having trouble walking, I doubt he would ever be fully better again. That's why he needs someone like me, I wouldn't force him to do more than he should have to, not like that Sandburg. They finally made it to his desk, Sandburg immediately making orders.
"Sit, stay," Blair ordered when they got to the desk. "I've got to go give Anne something, but I'll be right back." He started back to the elevator. "I don't hear typing," he called over his shoulder.
Ellison just laughed and started rifling through some papers. "Why was I in such a hurry to get back to this?"
As the minutes dragged on, I could see he was getting antsy. He eyed his coffee cup and I could guess what he wanted. He raised himself up on his crutches and reached for his cup, in a side-ways grip. "Let me get that for you," I rushed over to grab the cup. If I could make a good impression without Sandburg around, maybe he'd appreciate it and really notice me.
"It's ok, I've got it," Jim tried to brush him off.
"No, no. It's no trouble at all," I once again reached for the cup.
"I said I've got it!" Jim exploded. "What are you, deaf?"
I backed away, shocked. All conversation had ceased around them. "I'm sorry Mr. Ellison, I just wanted to make a good impression."
"Just stay out of my way," Jim seethed, shuffling past him on his way to the Break Room.
What just happened here? That little kid must have corrupted his mind. I figured it would be best if I just split for awhile, let the steam cool off, so I rode the elevator down to the garage. There was a little office in back where no one would bother me and I didn't have to be prone to the Ellison bite. However, the noise and the fumes didn't aid my concentration. I tried to get some work done, but there was no way in the world that I could do anything constructive. I cut my losses and decided that Ellison would be better than this.
As soon as I got off the elevator, I was cornered. Ellison was in the doorway of Captain Banks' office and they were having a shouting match, neither one about to step down. Banks knew he wasn't going to win out, so he eventually conceited.
"Fine, we'll take my car," he backed down. "Joel! We've got a situation down at the museum. Take MacDonald with you and meet us over there."
Joel nodded and shuffled me back to the elevator, case files still in hand. It was going to be a tense situation. We rode down in silence and didn't say a word to each other till we were in the car and on our way out.
"What's going on?" I finally questioned.
"A suspect has Rafe and Blair held hostage in a museum across town. Brown just called it in," Joel explained as he gripped the wheel a little too tightly.
"What's the kid doing out there?" I asked, a note of disgust evident in my voice.
"Blair? He's been helping Brown and Rafe on a case," Joel responded, never taking his eyes off the road.
"Yeah, helping...I'm sure," I snorted.
Joel's head whipped around. "What did you say?"
"Nothing, just wondering why a no count civilian's off getting himself involved in a police situation," I seethed.
Joel took a hard right, scaring me to death. He pulled into the empty parking lot of a 7-11 and turned the car off. He jumped out of the car and started pacing.
"Hey, what's up? We're supposed to get to the museum," I asked as I exited the car.
"We're not going anywhere till you get some things straight," Joel said through gritted teeth as he lunged at me. Grabbing my shirtfront, he continued. "What's your problem?"
"My problem?! You're the one attacking me," I shot back.
"What've you got against Blair? Don't think I haven't noticed the way you've been acting around him and Ellison's about to rip your throat out because of it."
I was stunned. Here was another one taking up for this no count kid. "What is with you people?" I asked as I pried his hands off my shirt. "This kid's got you all brain-washed. He's not a cop, he's just some wacko hanging around and stealing glory for the real men that deserve it! I would have expected it from Ellison, I mean the kid's probably his lover or something, but the whole department's acting like he walks on water!"
Joel's bear claw of a hand grabbed my face so hard that I think he bruised it. "You listen once 'cause that's the only time I'm gonna tell you. Blair Sandburg is more a cop than half the people wearing badges. He's strong, dependable, and a better man than you'll ever be. Jim and him are closer than any two partners I've ever seen and it's got nothing to do with sex. We act like he walks on water because he does. He's saved more lives than twenty cops put together. So if you wanna attack him, you're gonna have a long line of people to go through."
With that he pushed my face away and got back in the car, leaving me too stunned to move. What is going wrong with this world? He's got the entire police department wrapped around his little finger. I'm the real cop, I'm the one with the badge, what was he? A nobody. Well, a nobody with friends in high places.
Joel yelled at me to get in or start walking. I was too stunned to talk, just went through the motions in numb denial. He didn't say another word to me and I didn't feel like provoking it. We arrived at the scene just as Banks and Ellison were having it out.
"Ellison! Get back here!" Simon ordered. "You don't know what he's doing in there!"
"Is he crazy?" I yelled as Joel and I were getting out of their car.
"Either come with me or stay out here," Jim called over his shoulder. "I don't care which."
He started off as I just sat there stunned. Simon went after him, leaving us behind. Joel ordered me to keep my gun drawn just in case, but didn't give me any indication that he was intending on letting me use it. We stood around like idiots as the excitement built inside.
I never heard gunshots; just silence and then the entourage came out with suspect in hand. Ellison and Sandburg were falling all over each other and Brown ran to take care of his partner. Joel shot me a nasty look and went to join them. I got into the car, like a good little boy. I didn't need this crap. I'm gonna get out of this loony bin as soon as possible.
The entourage was soon safely back at the Station. Richards was booked and Rafe was getting jibes from H about the scratch ruining his 'pretty boy looks.' Blair and Jim were chiding with each other, just like usual. I could see how happy they were and knew that I'd never fit into this, nor did I really want to.
I interrupted their conversation. "Umm, guys?"
"Hey Tom, nice work out there today," Blair smiled.
"Even though I didn't do anything."
"Well, you did your job and that's enough," Ellison's words were bitten off.
"About that, I came to tell you guys that I'm leaving."
"Leaving? But we just got back. We hardly got a chance to know you," Sandburg acted surprised. I bet he was happy to see me go, glad to know that he didn't have to worry about me moving in on his action.
"Well, sometimes you can get to know a person in a short time or make a really wrong judgement about them," I said, lowering my head. I knew that I misjudged the situation, but I still wasn't ready to admit it.
"Where're you going?" Ellison tried to put on a polite front.
"I've got an offer in Olympia to work with an old friend," I lied. I didn't have anybody, but I sure wasn't gonna stick around here. Maybe I could find another job at another precinct, but right now I didn't care. I didn't belong here and I didn't want to put on a front anymore.
"Hey, that's great!" Sandburg arose to shake his hand. "I wish you the best of luck!" This time, I took it willingly.
"Thanks," I smiled. "For everything." For letting me know that I didn't have a chance, for letting me make a fool of myself, for destroying my career in Cascade.
I couldn't take it anymore, so I bid them farewell. I needed to get out of this place before it sucked me in. I didn't need to be anybody's whipping boy, much less bow down to some kid and his butch lover. I had a career to get started and it wasn't gonna be in Cascade.