You know how they say eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves… it’s true. Not that I was trying to eavesdrop. No way, Naomi raised me better than that… but hey, is it my fault that I just happened to walk back into the bullpen, right past Simon’s open office door, just in time to hear Jim and Simon talking… about me?
Well, no, it wasn’t. Anyway, I wouldn’t have hung around and listened except one thing Simon said caught my attention and I had to find out what Jim’s answer was so I kinda stopped right there, checked around to make sure the bull pen was still empty (it was), flattened myself up against the wall in the best tradition of eavesdroppers everywhere, and listened.
Simon had asked Jim how long he planned on keeping me around. There was a long silence then Jim said, ”I don’t know, Simon. I thought it was going to be short term but it seems like every day something else crops up with my senses that I need his help for…” His voice trailed off and I wondered if he was as disappointed as he sounded.
“Look, nothing personal, okay,” Simon replied. “I like the kid well enough but he’s not a cop and I can’t keep him on a ridealong pass forever. Three months is it, and he’s gone well past that now.”
“I know, I know,” Jim said, sounding weary as if he’d already tried and tried to find a solution to this before and failed. “Look, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I get a handle on all this and then he can go back to his work at the University.”
Damn! Becoming an unwanted millstone around Jim’s neck was the last thing I wanted to be. Sure, I’d tried my best to help him get a handle on his senses but I had to admit a part of me was kind hoping it didn’t happen too soon, or if it did, that maybe he’d still let me stay on as his partner anyway. I’d kinda grown to like being a pseudocop, even if I didn’t want to do the whole carrying a gun and shooting people thing.
Well, only one thing for it then. I’d give Jim and Simon all the notes I’d collated on sentinels since I’d started studying them and then I’d tell Jim he was on his own… unless he really needed me, that is. Hey, I wasn’t going to leave the guy out there with hyperactive senses and the risk of zoneouts and sensory overloads with absolutely no one to watch his back. Which actually gave me another idea.
I bent down and quietly lifted up my backpack and pulled out my Sentinel journals and my box of microtapes. They had everything in there a prospective partner to a Sentinel needed to know. Then I put the backpack back on the floor and casually as I could I walked a step forward and knocked loudly on Simon’s door. “Hey guys,” I called out cheerily as I entered. “You know, I’ve been thinking-“
“Don’t hurt yourself, Sandburg,” Simon said with a smile at Jim and I forced myself to smile too.
“Anyway, this is what you’re going to need, Simon.” I pulled out the four notebooks and the box of microtapes and set them down on his desk.
“What’s all this?” Simon asked, waving his hand at the pile.
“This, Simon, is your “go to guide” on partnering a Sentinel,” I said.
“What?” Jim and Simon said at the same time.
Jim stood up and crossed over to stand next to me. “What’s going on, Chief? You backing out of our deal now?”
I shrugged. “Look, Jim, you’re a great guy and a terrific cop but I’m an academic, you know. I’m not getting nearly enough hours in at the university and I really can’t afford to lose that job.” I glanced up at Simon, who’d picked up his cigar and jammed it in his mouth.
“No need to be hasty here, Sandburg,” Simon said around his mouthful of Havana. He picked up the first notebook and leafed through it then dropped it as if he’d been burned.
“I thought you liked working with me,” Jim said, sounding aggrieved.
“I do, man, I do, it’s just… you know…”
“You were eavesdropping,” Jim said accusingly and I swear the blush started at the top of my head and went clear down to my toes.
“Not on purpose,” I replied defensively. “I just happened to be walking past the office-“
“Chief, I didn’t mean any of it the way it sounded,” Jim said quietly. He grabbed my arm and pulled me round to face him. “It’s true I haven’t wanted a partner since Jack died… until you came along.”
“You said I could go back to the University,” I said, feeling more than a little aggrieved myself.
“I figured you’d be itching to get back there,” Jim replied, “but there’s still so much of this Sentinel stuff we don’t know about, stuff we’re both still just finding out about… I keep thinking I’m getting control and then we find a new wrinkle.” He gave me a Jim Ellison special, that smile he used when he wanted Wonderburger or chilidogs for dinner. “You’re the one who always seems to work it out. Hang in here a little longer, okay. Then if you still want to call it quits, I won’t stand in your way.”
I angled a look up at Simon. “You said my ridealong’s pretty much over.”
He picked up the stack of journals and then the tapes and handed them to me. “I’ll work something out,” he said.
I gave Jim a smile. “You sure about this? It might take longer than you think.”
“I’ll cope,” Jim said, ushering me out of the office. “With you, I’ll cope. Without you, I’m not so sure.”