(This story is based on the Plot Bunny 101 suggestion by Heuradys. Her part is the beginning of the story between the ** marks. )
**My life changed, again, on Thursday afternoon at a few minutes before four. That's when Jim walked out of Simon's office and started packing up the few personal items he kept on and in his desk. His face was, oddly, expressionless. I couldn't read it at all.
I sauntered over, worried. "What's up, Jim?"
He glanced around the crowded bullpen, shot a glare at Simon's door, and then said quietly, "I've been let go."
"I've been fired, Chief, effective immediately."
My jaw dropped; I went preverbal. "Uh... wow...wow...why?"
"I'd rather not talk about it here."
My guts were twisting, aching. "Well, I guess I'll go get my stuff."
He grabbed my arm. "Just me. Not you. You're still a detective."**
I stood motionless as Jim walked to the break room and returned with an empty grocery bag. He then placed the items in the bag. Finally finding my voice I asked, "Jim, I'll go with...."
"No, Sandburg, you have a job. You're good at it. Stay. Simon will reassign you to someone else." Jim picked up and tucked the bag under his arm. I watched him move soundlessly towards the hall and staircase. Without turning around I heard him say, "See you at home. Guess it's my night to make dinner." The stairway door closed with a thud which broke me from the trance of my immobility.
I turned towards to the Captain's office. I had to find out just why the Detective of the Year had just been summarily dismissed. Whatever it had been, I am his partner and must have been part it. Why then only Jim and not me?
My hand was poised and ready to knock on the closed door when I heard a voice call out, "Sandburg, come on in!"
Entering, I saw the Captain shuffling papers without any upward glance in my direction. Still looking at the files, he sighed, "Sit down. I figured you'd be curious why..."
"Curious, Simon? Curious would be wanting to know what the mystery meat the cafeteria was serving. No, not curious. More like, oh I don't know, mystified, bewildered and baffled as to what just happened here! What the hell did Jim do that resulted in such an uncaring dismissal I just witnessed? He's your friend Simon! How could..."
"You think I enjoyed that Sandburg? You think telling a good friend that his services were no longer required was something I enjoyed doing? I was willing to give him another chance, not fire him, but the Chief had other ideas. Wanted to show the rest of the police force that even a respected detective like Jim was not above reprimand. In this case, the admonishment was severe, but the Chief believed it was necessary." Simon deflated visibly back into his seat. The chair groaned as he leaned back.
"Wha...Wha..." I sputtered.
"What happened? He was caught by video using excessive force on a suspect. It was while you were at that seminar last month. The lawyer agreed to not pursue further claims against the whole police department if Jim was released. He knew this was a possibility, Blair. He never mentioned..." Simon let the sentence drop as he saw me slowly shake my head.
Mr. Suppression strikes again, I thought. I would have supported you Jim. I still will.
"Captain, Simon, may I leave early? I think my partner needs me right now," I asked as I stood up.
"Yeah, Blair, go, see your partner. I'd like to come by after work -- you think Jim would mind?" Simon asked.
"I'm sure Jim knew you were doing what you had to do for the sake of the department. Sure Simon, come on over." I opened the door and noticed the rest of the people from the bullpen scatter. Obviously everyone was interested to learn what was going on in this department. No one looked directly at me. I understood. My partner had just been let go. Not knowing all the details, not knowing even if I was the cause of the dismissal, they weren't sure if they even wanted to "buddy up" to me. It was just another interesting facet of the closed society that I was now a member.
I picked up my ever-faithful backpack from behind our, my desk, and headed for the stairs and home. Home to my friend, partner and sentinel. We would handle, together, whatever needed to be done to move past this section of our life. Together. No question about it. We'll let go of this and move on--together.