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.

Feedback: Please, at dawn_twilight@hotmail.com

Summary: Thirteenth story of my summer writing project, a missing scene from Deep Water.

Notes: A special thanks to Lyn for giving this a quick look over.

Partners

by Twilight (Dawn)

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Jim dug into his pocket and pulled out his keys; the wind buffeted his body as he stepped into his building, pushing the glass paneled door closed as the gusts picked up and pulled against the doorframe.

He stopped at the bank of mailboxes, grabbing a few envelopes and sales circulars from his slot, scanning the pile while he waited for the ancient elevator.

Tiny neat print caught his attention, the pink envelope addressed to his roommate and friend, the return address missing, but he knew who it was from. Letters had been arriving in pink envelopes for the last couple of months.

Finally, the lift arrived and Jim pulled the metal grate up and stepped into the car, closing the slide bars and pressing the number for his floor.

He could hear music coming from his apartment, but the sound was muted, Blair was probably listening on his headphones.

He kicked his front door closed, sorting the bills from the junk. "Blair?”

His roommate came from his room, pulling off his headphones, the music piping through the tiny receivers. "Hey, man…I'll be ready to go in twenty." He went back into his room, returning with some clean boxers and a t-shirt, passing the ironing board on the way to the bathroom to shower.

"Hey, you got mail.” Jim eyed the board, noting one of his dress shirts lightly starched and pressed, hanging over the tip.

Blair snatched the envelope from his hand, going back to the bathroom. Jim listened as his friend started the shower, hearing the paper rip and crinkle as Blair unfolded his letter.

Shaking his head, he grabbed his shirt and headed up to the loft to get dressed. They were pushing it for time, but he wanted to get out this morning, take a walk to clear his head… It had been four years, plenty of time to reason, to grieve… but the findings of the last week had brought it all back.

In his mind's eye, he could see Jack Pendergrast walking across the bullpen, cocky smile, running a hand through his smooth graying hair, slinging an arm over Jim's shoulder and leading him to the hallway toward the elevator. "Come on, Slick… time for lunch.”

Jack had an infinity for calling him everything but his name… It was a tic of his and in all the time Jim had been partnered with Jack, he had only heard his name when Jack was really worried, usually about him.

Jack was always trying to smooth things over for him with the new captain of Major Crimes, especially when Jim was a little too rambunctious, acting before thinking, his mouth getting ahead of his brain.

The unit was a lot different back then, everyone had an agenda. Sheila was fighting to carve out a spot as the only female detective promoted to Major Crimes and Simon was new as a captain and Jack... Well, Jack had been around the block a time or two, still, Jim couldn't understand how a self proclaimed loner would become such a good friend, took Jim under his wing and showed him the ropes...

And look how I paid him back.

Something bumped below, pulling Jim back to the present where he sat on his bed, clutching his dress shirt in his clenched fist.

A solemn voice drifted up the steps, "I'm ready, man… you dressed?"

Jim hurriedly shucked off his jeans and grabbed his suit pants. "I'll be done in a minute." He dressed quickly, still buttoning the sleeves of his crisp starched shirt as he jogged down the steps.

Blair held his jacket, holding it out as Jim passed to grab his wallet and keys. "Pam said hi, by the way, wants you to call..."

Jim nodded, reaching for the doorknob and escape. He didn't want to talk about Pam... Well, Angie anyway. He was happy that they were settled and he knew by reading the entertainment section of the paper that Angie's career was really taking off... It was just all still a little too close.

Blair closed the door behind them, reaching the elevator first. "I was thinking of taking a weekend and visiting, it'll be a nice trip and I haven't been anywhere sunny in..."

His friend continued to chatter, down the lift and into the parking lot and throughout the short trip to the graveyard, and Jim was grateful.

They sat in the truck for a bit. Jim turned off the ignition and handed Blair the keys. "You didn't have to come."

"Where else would I be, Jim... you ready?"

He nodded, sliding from the cab and crossed the groomed lush lawn, spotting a place where he could get a little peace.

********************

"You almost ready, babe?"

She folded the ironing board, stowing it in the closet, wrapping the cord around the cooling iron. Her baby toddled around her feet, babbling and waving a little car he had gotten for his birthday. "Almost, you sure you're gonna be okay with the baby? I don't have to..."

"Come on, Emily. We'll be fine and you said this guy, he's an old friend, right... so go and pay your respects."

Her husband scooped up the baby, then kissed her soundly just as a horn tooted outside. "I can drive you."

"No, Hon... I need to do this alone, okay?" She kissed her little boy, giving her husband another peck before grabbing her coat and purse from the rack near her front door. "I shouldn't be too long."

The cab stunk, but it kept her mind from wandering too far. She'd been thinking too much, ever since Jim had knocked on her door and delivered the news that Jack was really gone.

He had saved her all those years ago.

She wondered if he even knew it...

Jack, he was a good man and a better cop, but she quickly realized that his work was his life, and it left little room for her.

They had been fighting like crazy, he wanted more than she was willing to give, they were hardly getting along and Jim was always there to listen, to let her lean on his shoulder. It was all so innocent at first.

Just a couple of friends...

It was Jim who told her she was worth more, that she counted too. One thing led to another... She wasn't even sure why she went to Jim that night, why she felt like it was her last chance, a chance to be happy.

Then Jack went missing along with a ton of money and Jim was falling apart, torn by guilt, angry at the accusations, the only one willing to fight for Jack...

At first, even she thought that Jack might be able to do it.

Shame flooded her face; her eyes welled with tears as she went over the events of those few months. The papers pointed the finger at a crooked cop, but that didn't sit too well with Jim. He made himself crazy, looking for clues, trying to clear Jack's name, but in the end, he had nothing, nothing but his word that Jack was a good cop, that and his memories.

In time, they realized that they just couldn't live with the memories... so she said good bye and moved to Seattle for a while, finding herself somewhere along the way, forgiving herself for things she couldn't even control and it was all because of Jim...

How different would her life be now, if Jim hadn't been in hers...

The cab pulled to a sudden stop and she looked up to see a procession of cars entering the main gate of the cemetery. "You can let me out here, thanks." She pulled a few bills from her wallet, paying the cabbie, and then looked around at a sea of blue and black.

Officers lined one side of the black casket, which was draped in an American flag. A row of chairs on the other side were empty, Jack had no family. But she was glad to see a crowd of cops in dress uniform and suits standing behind.

As she walked across the lawn, she searched the faces, looking for the one she really wanted to see above all others. She recognized the woman talking with the guy Jim had brought with him, Shelby or something... and beyond them, she could see Jack's Captain, Banks.

The chaplain had already started, quoting from the bible he held in his hand.

The only god Jack believed in was justice, for the victims and their families. He didn't always go about it the right way, but he did his best to get them justice.

Looking across the grassy landscape, she spotted a lone figure sitting on a log. Walking carefully, she reached his side. "Why aren't you down there?"

He looked up at her slowly. "Jack would have hated this."

"I know." She scooted next to him, sharing his log, waiting for him to say whatever he needed to say.

"I feel like I let him down." Jim looked out over the small crowd huddling around Jack's grave. "Almost four years in an unmarked grave... he deserved a lot better."

"And now he has it." She rested her hand on his shoulder; feeling like maybe now, Jack really was a peace. "And it's time to let go... both of us."

Jim nodded, but made no move to get up, to leave or join in on the ceremony, taking place below. She watched as the uniformed guard moved into position, cocking their rifles and raising them to fire. "Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if things had worked out differently... if we'd never...if Jack hadn't been killed..."

A clear voice called out for attention from below, the sun glinted off the black steel of the rifles.

"Do you?" She turned to him, eyes searching.

"READY... AIM..."

She was afraid to hear his answer, but needed to know...

"Yeah." He looked at her again, blue eyes soft with something, she always had a hard time reading him. "I think about it now and again."

"FIRE."

The guns rang out, loud and clipped; she flinched with each new percussion.

Below, Captain Banks stood alone by Jack's casket. The crowd had moved off toward their cars.

Jim wrapped an arm around her, leaning in to kiss her on the cheek. "Goodbye Emily."

She watched him as he walked away, meeting up with his friend, stopping to accept the folded flag that had draped Jack's casket.

He saved her... and maybe, just maybe she had saved him too.

The End

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