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Walking Wounded

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Simon lay in the bed, uncomfortable.  It was too small for his size, the associated hospital noises were keeping him awake, and the surreal events of the day had his mind whirring. He'd have rather been in his own bed at home, but Rossberg was hours away from Cascade and he'd lost too much blood from where Becker shot him to make the trip.  The doctor insisted on keeping Simon under observation for at least two more days, concerned that the delay in treating his wound might result in an infection.

Jim and Blair had offered to stay; Simon had thanked them but refused. Billy Cates, his old supervisor from when he'd worked at the Canyon Lake Hotel, volunteered to watch over Simon, assuring Jim he would call if a problem popped up.  So, they'd left on their kayaking trip, promising to return to bring Simon back to Cascade when he was ready to travel.

He'd sent Billy home, knowing there was nothing more to be done that evening. Besides, Billy had his own recovering to do; the fire that had destroyed the place he'd worked at for more than 30 years left him in shock and adrift.  Simon hoped the hotel could be rebuilt. He shifted again uncomfortably.

He knew he should be grateful--and he was--knowing that instead of healing from a leg wound he might have ended up as dead as Peggy Anderson if it hadn't been for Jim and Blair.  They'd risked life and limb to get him out of the hotel, literally pulling him out of the burning building and finding the evidence that implicated Becker and Sturges, thus clearing Simon of Peggy's murder.  

And that wasn't the first time Jim had saved his life. Just a few short months ago, they'd rescued him and Daryl in Peru from the clutches of drug smugglers.  When had Jim and Simon evolved from being co-workers to friends--such good friends that Jim risked life and limb to save Simon's butt?  It didn't start out that way, that's for sure.


If he was honest, he'd have to say Jack Pendergrast had been the bridge.   He winced when he remembered the pissing contests he'd had with Jim.  Simon was a newly-minted captain with his first permanent assignment to the prestigious Major Crime division, for what reasons he wasn't quite sure but expected had been political.  He'd been bristling with good ideas and a strong desire to make his mark, sure he knew the best way to run his department.

Jim had just transferred from Vice. Simon had known the reason for that.  Ellison moved up the ranks to Detective quickly and was assigned to Vice, as much for his looks as his attitude. He could by turns play tough or vulnerable, friendly or cold, but it was all an act; he'd been in Black Ops in the Army and Simon expected it had bent him as much as his uncle who'd gone to 'Nam.  Jim was closed off, which worked just fine in Vice; he was a hot shot there and got the job done. But he was getting more reckless and burnt out.  Captain Vance didn't want to lose such a valuable commodity but was left with little choice. What Simon received was a self-destructive asshole who closed cases in record time but was alienating the rest of his team.

Enter Jack Pendergrast. Pushing fifty, Jack was getting a little long in the tooth for field work, but he was sharp as a tack. And he was outgoing. He didn't have a permanent partner; he liked working with anyone and everyone and didn't mind shift work. He could make friends with the devil himself, and probably did.  Despite all his faults--vain about his looks, a passion for fast cars and women, and an unfortunate love of gambling--Jack was good at heart. Simon assigned him to Ellison.  Jack groused, but he slowly mentored Ellison into a human being. It was an inspired partnership.

Jack also worked his magic on Simon himself.  Never undermining Simon's position, he delivered good advice with a friendly "Hey, Cap, got a minute?" that opened his eyes to the difference between power and authority. Jack was the one who'd encouraged Simon to join his men in the field, if for no other reason than to catch them doing something right.   

After Jack disappeared while delivering ransom money in the Brackley case, Jim withdrew, but he never again was the asshole he'd been when he walked through the doors of Major Crime; a legacy from Jack for which Simon was truly grateful.  Jim refused another partner. In return for not forcing the issue, Jim became focused and dedicated--his closure rate was impressive, and his overtime reflected his commitment to the job.  It might have cost him his marriage, but the divorce rate among cops was already high; the chances were that it was doomed from the start.

Simon shifted again in his bed, feeling the ache of his leg wound and wondering whether he should ask for a pain pill.  He thought again about Jack and was ashamed that he'd doubted him; had been swayed by the circumstantial evidence that Jack had killed Philip Brackley and absconded with the ransom money.  More ashamed that Jim saw the same evidence and still had faith in Jack.  They'd only just buried Jack--with full honors--a month ago after realizing he'd been a John Doe previously discovered years before in the river.  

His leg started to really ache, but he hesitated on the call button.  Perhaps he should bear it, as penance for doubting Jack and Jim.  Then he shook his head at his own foolishness.  Jack would have laughed at him, forgiven him for his doubts--had forgiven him already, Simon was sure. All he could do to honor his fallen man was to not lose faith in the living.  He thought about Jim and his new partner (although Jim balked at using the term) and realized that he owed them big time.  He decided to phone his brother to borrow his cabin; a fishing trip spent in comfort the next time the three of them could get away was in order. It might not be what Jack would have chosen for a reward, but it would suit his friends and comrades just fine.

Smiling, he pressed the call button.  Perhaps the nurse could get him a midnight snack to go with that pain pill.

~~the end~~