Disclaimer: The Sentinel, Blair Sandburg, Jim Ellison, Simon Banks, and all other characters are property of Paramount and Pet Fly. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money has exchanged hands.

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Summary: Sixth story in my summer writing project, missing scene from Night Train.

Declaration of Independence

by Twilight (Dawn)

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The envelope was delivered by courier the day before, but he left it on his desk overnight, figuring that one more day wouldn't matter much.

Would it?

He fingered the rough edge where the flap had been ripped, remembering the sting were the thick paper cut into his finger and sighed.

So this was it, then?

Pulling the sheets from the inside, he straightened them out, picking up his pen, but before he could sign the well read papers, his detective came in coughing and wiping his nose on a tissue.

"We're ready to roll, Captain."

He sat the pen aside, rubbing at the back of his head. "Good. Plane's waiting for you at the airport. It'll get you to the state line. After that, the train's making a special stop to pick you up."

Jim went on to tell him how much Sandburg was nagging him over where they were going and what they would be doing.

"I don't make the rules."

"That's what I keep telling him." Jim threw his crumbled tissue in the bin near the desk.

"They finally came, huh?"

"Yeah. Says in big letters…You are divorced. Now what?" He sat back in his chair, shaking his head. "Hell, man. I kept expecting this to be a great moment, and... I don't know. All I feel is empty. It gets better, right?"

The other man nodded, smiling a little. "Yeah, it gets better." Jim sniffed and sneezed a few times before taking his partner to the hall and onto the elevator.

Simon looked at the papers again, rereading the sections one at a time. He and Joan had agreed they would share custody, but Daryl would live with his mom and visit every other weekend and on each Wednesday when his schedule permitted and he would have him for every other holiday and Father's Day until he graduated from high school and then Daryl would decide when he would visit.

If he would visit.

Truth was that he and Daryl just weren't on the same page most of the time, but it had gotten a lot better since the 'incident' with Kincaid and his son even expressed interest in police work.

God, I hope he chooses another profession.

He scanned the page again, feeling like he was missing something important, but it all seemed in order. He and Joan had grown so far apart by the time they decided to call it quits and he knew it was hard on her. He wasn't home a lot, having to work overtime to prove that he could cut it as a captain and when he was home, he often got called away and he knew that Joan had done her best to keep them together.

It wasn't her fault.

She was a good wife and a great mother…

He was the lousy husband and father.

Getting up, he moved to his shelf, pulling down a decanter with a bag of his good stash of coffee, grabbing his pot to fill with water.

Once the coffee was brewing and he lit up a cigar, he reread the final page again.

It was only a matter of his signature and he would be a free man. Free to not worry anymore, free to pursue other women, free to be more of a friend to his son.

The thought of dating again was exciting and down right scary. He hadn't done that since he was trying to woe Joan during his college days.

Laughing a little, he remembered their late minute first date, trying to work up the nerve to call and ask her out. He had taken her to dinner, with the permission of her father and they walked through the strip mall, deciding to eat at the King's Court. It was the best steak house in the area and he was a little disappointed that she only ordered a burger and when it came, she took it off the bun and ate it in little bites with a knife and fork.

It wasn't until much later he found out that she had just eaten dinner when he called and really wanted to go and thought it would be rude not to order.

He smiled at the memory, humming a little, puffing on his stogie.

The next night he took her to the mall and they walked the halls, admiring the window displays, stopping to get a cone from the Icy Freeze. Halfway back to the car he had been talking so much, that he hadn't noticed his soft serve leaning to the side and was mortified when the top dropped off and splattered on the tile floor and over her high heeled shoes.

A knock sounded and he called, "Come."

Speaking of divorcees, Carolyn Plummer stood in the doorway. "There's a problem, Simon."

Jesus, Mary and Joseph…why does something always have to go wrong?

Carolyn couldn't get a helicopter, so he would have to drive. She handed him his coat, starting to ask something about Jim, but changed her mind.

"I'll be sure to call as soon as I can to let you know what's going on." He looked over his desk, making sure he had everything when his eyes dropped to the crisp white sheets in the middle of his desk. Folding them up, he shoved them in his coat pocket and called the auto division requesting a 4 x 4.

Driving slick mountain passes in the dark was not his idea of a good time, but he was making good progress and pulled his cell once he got a little closer to the train's next stop. "Jim, it's Simon…Jim, you there?"

He explained what he knew, glad that his detective was already alerted to the trouble, telling him he would be meeting him at the next stop, but something seemed off with Jim, so he pressed on the accelerator a little harder.

He made it in a little under three hours, stopping near another police car, hopping out and showing his ID to the other officer. "Banks…Cascade P.D."

The man glanced at his photo, "Been expecting you, Captain."

He flipped his billfold closed, pocketing it in his jacket. "Any word yet from the train?"

"Nothing. The railroad hasn't raised them."

"Could mean we have trouble. We don't know yet who's on the train or what weapons they're carrying. So your men should be ready for anything." He pulled his phone and dialed Jim again. It sounded like someone picked up, but then the connection was gone and when he tried again, the voice mail picked up. "Damn…now what."

"I guess we wait to see if they show."

The wait wasn't very long. Soon they could hear the train approaching. "All right, everybody, this is it. Let's go."

The radio crackled to life and men around the perimeter positioned and checked in.

Minutes later the engine barreled past in a hail of gunfire and reports of officers down came over the radio.

Simon pushed through the men helping others to find his contact. "Is there a service road that runs along the tracks?"

Maybe he could get ahead of them somehow, figure out some kind of plan. He took off followed by a few other cruisers, racing to the dirt cut off that ran along the tracks. The train was just ahead and it seemed to be slowing, but it was only cutting loose cars from the engine.

Simon spotted Jim ducking out of the overhang, pulling as close as he could when Jim motioned him over. Jim yelled something to Sandburg as the car rolled to a stop, then jumped into the passenger seat.

"Go, go, go." Simon waved the other cruiser on, helpless as it came under fire from the gunman on the engine, swerving to miss the hood that popped up and off the car in front.

"Let me have your gun."

"Where's yours?" Simon sped up, getting around the other cruiser.

"I gave it to Sandburg."

"You what?" His thunderous voice bounced around the interior of the truck, making Jim wince.

"I'll explain later. Please. Let me have your gun."

"All right, now what?" He wasn't sure how far this road ran and they were bound to run out of room sooner or later.

"Pull up next to her. I'm getting on."

"Are you out of your mind?"

Gave the kid his gun and now wants to jump onto a moving locomotive…

I'm getting too old for this shit.

Oh…what the hell…"I'll try to hold her steady. Go."

He moved the truck over as close as he could, pulling away when a spray of bullets hit the hood.

"Over to the right."

Oh, thanks…that's very helpful.

Jim managed to get on the back and Simon pulled off a little, staying out of gun range. A few more shots were fired and then the train came to a stop.

Simon jumped from the car, helping to round up the captives, using his handcuffs to chain two men together.

The local PD showed a little later and took the prisoners away and Simon headed back to the truck with Jim in tow. "Let's pick up the kid and you can tell me all about why he has your gun."

Jim nodded, but wisely kept quiet until Sandburg got in and talked all the way back to Cascade.

It was later that morning when he finished up his report and explained the bullet holes to the auto division that he found his two men talking in the bullpen. "Hey, how about some breakfast?"

"Sounds good. Who's buying?" Jim asked, pointing to Sandburg while Sandburg pointed to him, then they both pointed to him.

Should have known.

"You sign your papers, Simon?"

He patted his pocket, feeling the thick folded sheets and realized he had put it off long enough. "Turn around."

Blair raised his eyebrows, but turned as Simon pulled out his pen and used Blair's back to sign on the dotted line.

So…this was it, then. Independence Day, fifteen years of marriage, over with a flick of his wrist and a little ink.

No, it was over long ago…

But he still had good friends and a brand new beginning.

"Be downstairs in five."

The End

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