Warnings: Caveat Lector. If you're not sure about reading the story, there's a spoiler at the bottom.
Simon Banks stood in the middle of his people and stared at the smoking rubble in front of him. This had once been a three-story office block, housing a computer software company - among other things.
Cascade PD had been investigating that software company. His best team had visited the building and spoken to people. They'd been in and out of there for days.
One of the employees had finally decided to discuss things with his best team. One was at home with the cell phone, the other out at the market.
Time was a major factor so the idiot - the dead idiot had headed over on his own. An hour later the building blew up.
Simon had been called because the officers on the scene had recognized a very battered 'classic' car. Simon had heard from the other half of his best team on his way to the scene - the partner confirming that yes, the dead idiot had been headed there without backup and without his partner.
They were saved from a major disaster by the fact that it was late at night, so there hadn't been anyone on the building except one very dead idiot and his informant. There had been no one nearby on the street to be killed by flying debris.
One by one the people from Major Crimes had arrived and come to stand next to Simon. They had stood still and watched as the fire crew put out the flames and then packed up. They had stood still and watched the devastated partner kneel in the middle of the street and bow his head in defeat.
They had watched as James Ellison died inside because Blair Sandburg was under that rubble - and they had died inside too.
"I remember the first time I entered the bullpen, after the transfer," Rafe's voice was choked with grief, "He was the first person to shake my hand that day. He showed me around, and told me why you were all so busy and made sure I felt welcome. He showed me where my desk was and your office was Simon, and then Ellison roared and he grinned at me, said 'Welcome to the team' and disappeared."
Ellison's head lifted and turned - he was listening, aware of the people hurting behind him.
"I remember the first time I met him. He was all hair and weird clothes and long words - which he used because he just assumed I was smart enough to understand him, not to try and lie or patronize. I let Ellison persuade me it would be ok to let him ride along and the next day he saved my son from Kincaid," Simon's voice cracked on the last words and he took a shaky breath. Ellison turned towards them a little more - needing more to remind him of who his partner had been.
"I remember the first day he came in after Kincaid," Brown sighed, "He was wearing that coat - the one with the patches on it and he grinned over at me from Ellison's desk. You could see he was still freaked out by it all, but he wasn't going to stop coming in - not for Kincaid or anyone else. I remember how everyone was expecting him to just give up and stop coming, but he didn't. He was the bravest person I knew."
Ellison nodded gently to himself and Brown nodded right back at him - we're here for you, we understand.
"I remember the first time he got up in my face. A hippie want to be like that - you'd never guess he was capable of pinning you against the wall with his words," Joel's voice was uneven, "He talked me through one of the worst times of my life - and he did it with respect. I never felt like a failure because I needed him to help me. I never felt like he pitied me. I felt like he was a friend. It was unconditional."
Ellison echoed the last word silently and stood. He took a few hesitant steps towards the others and they all reached out a hand, pulling him into the center of the group. Simon put a hand around Jim's wrist and held on firmly.
"I remember his first arrest as a cop," Fletcher spoke up - he was fairly new to the department, arrived in time for the dissertation mess and the aftermath, "He ran that guy down literally across the city. We started on the North side and ended up on the South side. He was exhausted by it all - remember - and Brown you said 'jeez Sandburg, ever heard of a car?' and he stuck his tongue out and growled 'we had to come down here anyway - it was my turn to buy the donuts'. You guys teased him about for weeks afterwards but he never once complained."
People nodded and grinned - the incident had put a whole new spin on the phrase donut run. Ellison took a deep breath and let his own first time spill out.
"I remember the first time he saved my life. I'd just called him some very nasty names, and he was following me out when I stepped in front of a garbage truck. He threw me down and pulled me to safety. Then he just acted like it was nothing. He never asked me to thank him or repay him. He was unconditional," Ellison's voice was cracked and shaky, but they all understood him.
"I remember the first time we were in a car chase," Conner murmured, "You were all driving on the wrong side of the road and when I told him to shoot out their tires he yelled he was a consultant not a cop. I was surprised - he fit in with Simon and Ellison so naturally that I thought he was a cop. But he never acted like a consultant. He worked as hard as any of us - and he always tried to help with my home sickness."
Everyone nodded and made surreptitious swipes at their eyes. Rookie Detective Handler looked around the devastated scene and bit his lip in shock.
"I'll always remember the time we all stood around giving eulogies for Sandburg and he crawled out of the storm drain," Handler squeaked and pointed. Heads slowly followed the pointing finger, followed by a stampede of detectives as they ran to get to their colleague and the employees who'd been in the basement storage area when the bomb was discovered.
"Unable to get to the door in time Sandburg had led them through an access tunnel into the sewers and beyond. The blast had hurt them all, and it had taken a while for them to patch each other up and find access to street level. Sandburg had led them there.
Now Ellison cradled Sandburg in his arms gently, mindful of the broken shoulder and arm and the sprained knee. The paramedics tended the survivors quickly - they'd never left; instead they'd kept a quiet vigil with the fire crew behind the group from Major Crimes. Departmental rivalry had been put aside to support colleagues in their grief.
Conner retrieved the evidence that the group had grabbed and carried with them to the sewer. Everyone watched as Sandburg was tenderly loaded into the ambulance and Ellison leapt in after. The doors shut and the ambulance pulled away, prompting Joel to share another memory.
"I remember how Sandburg hates the hospital gowns. Simon - you got keys to the loft?"
There now - you didn't really think I'd kill my favorite anthropologist did you?J
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