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.

Warning: Spoilers for TSbyBS.


by Madraf

Captain Simon Banks gestured for Detective Jim Ellison to enter the office and take a seat. He pointedly ignored the stiffening body language of New South Wales inspector Megan Conner who had been on an exchange program with his department for a year and a half. With both officers seated, Banks handed them each a file and opened one on his desk. Ellison dutifully, if dully, opened his folder but Megan remained still.

"Captain Banks," she said levelly, carefully placing the file folder back on his desk. "I don't think I should take on any new cases."

Banks shot a glance at the two of them and pierced the red-haired woman with a fierce glare. "You will if you're ordered to," he replied.

"No, sir," she said. "I've been asked if I want to continue here for another year or return home. I've decided to return home. I'll only be here for another three months."

"That's three months you can work," Simon told her.

"Not with him," she stated coldly. Jim flinched but remained silent. So silent that Simon shifted his gaze sharply to the man and saw a stone face but haunted eyes.

"Conner," Simon said. "With Sandburg gone," Simon saw Jim flinch again, "You're the best person to be out there with Jim until we figure out what we're going to do."

Conner opened her mouth again, but Jim interrupted her.

"It's okay, Simon. I don't want anyone working with me if they don't want to," Jim said. "I can go solo again."

"It's what you wanted anyway, isn't it?" Conner snapped.

"No," he whispered.

"Then why haven't you looked for him?"

"Just drop it and get out of here," Jim returned, his own voice rising.

"What is your problem, Conner?" Simon demanded.

"My problem? My problem is the way you railroaded Sandy!" she shouted at the two men. She turned to face Jim. "How could you just stand there and keep quiet while he destroyed his life and his career? What kind of friend are you? How could you let him do that?"

"We got him a job," Simon reminded her. "Sandburg's the one who skipped out without a good-bye. Why not be mad at him?"

"You got him a job." Conner's sarcasm was not the least bit dulled despite the fact she was speaking to her superior. "And what was going to happen if something happened to Jim?" she asked. "How many people do you think would have lined up to work with him? Or what if something happened to you, Captain? Do you think the next commanding officer would like having Sandburg work for him?" She looked back at Jim. "I don't have super hearing but even I've heard some of the things being said about Sandy. You're just lucky I've managed to keep my mouth shut so far. I don't know how long I'm going to protect you at his expense, Ellison." She stood and faced the captain again. "So, Captain Banks. If you need someone to watch his back, you better do it, because I won't. If you want to put me on suspension, fine. It's your decision." She left the room to the two men.

"Conner!" Banks shouted, starting to rise.

"Don't, Sir," Jim asked quietly. He turned his attention back to the file. "What's this case about?"

Simon sat at his desk and eyed the detective whose eyes were so unconvincingly staring at the information in the folder.

"Jim, don't you think you need someone with you out there?"

The captain's words recalled the late-night discussion they'd had more than a year before when Jim had told Blair Sandburg he didn't need anyone to watch out for him, that he didn't need anyone to tell him who he was. Simon had asked him then if he thought he could handle this "Sentinel thing" on his own. He hadn't lied that night because he'd never answered the question. He tried the same tactic now.

"No, Simon. This is what I said I wanted, remember. To go back to working alone." Jim carefully avoided his friend's eyes.

Simon studied his friend for a moment, knew the painful truth behind the evasion and wondered how he would help as time went on. For now, he gave in to the stubborn detective.

He turned to the first page of his file.

"We just got this from Vice....."

The End.

Comments, criticism, suggestions? Please e-mail Madraf.