Jim Ellison sat at his computer and typed quietly at his keyboard; the sooner he finished the paperwork, the sooner he could go home. He didn't raise his head; he didn't want to see the expressions on his fellow detectives' faces. He knew what they were thinking... what they had to be thinking... in all honesty, he couldn't even blame them.
The case hadn't been assigned to him. He and Sandburg had been quite happily clearing paperwork and handling mundane cases for the past week... it had been a refreshing change of pace. The more high profile cases had gone to Taggert and Connor or Rafe and Brown, and they'd proved to be well up to the challenge. Major Crime's tally for the week stood at a purse snatcher (he and Sandburg), an arsonist (Taggert and Connor) and three armed robbers (Rafe and Brown). Life had been good.
He and Blair hadn't intended to stumble into a kidnapping in progress... really, they hadn't. Catching the kidnappers was good; realising that the target was Anita Laramie, teen pop sensation, was not so good. The press had descended on the PD en masse and he and Sandburg had been dodging over-zealous reporters all day. Not good... and the rest of the PD tripping over the reporters while trying to do their work? Definitely not so good.
A fragment of conversation in the break-room caught his attention. It sounded like Jenkins, one of the newer detectives in the department. "Man, Rafe... doesn't it ever bug you the way Ellison and Sandburg get all the glory? All the special treatment... the way that Captain Banks singles them out?"
Unconsciously, Jim stopped typing, fingers hovering over the keyboard. It was something that had always lurked at the back of his mind... did his fellow detectives resent him and his civilian observer partner? They did get an unusual amount of press and they did seem to get singled out for the more prominent cases; only he, Sandburg and the captain knew it was because his Sentinel senses gave the department the advantage it needed.
"No, Jenkins, I don't. Neither does anyone else in Major Crime. I can't speak for the rest of the department."
"Come on, Rafe! How can you expect me to belief that? You and Brown did some damn good work to get those robbers and you saved three people in that jewelers' store in the process! Ellison and Sandburg rescue Miss Teeny Bopper and all that's forgotten!"
Another voice chimed in... Henri Brown. "And Ellison and Sandburg would have done the same if it had been a bag-lady being kidnapped. Ellison didn't have a clue who Anita Laramie is! Sandburg had to tell him after they subdued the kidnappers.
"You're new to Major Crime; you're new to the department. You haven't seen it yet."
"Seen what?" asked a slightly less annoyed Jenkins.
Rafe spoke again, the tone of his voice a mixture of pride, concern and fear. "You haven't seen them push themselves to exhaustion and then beyond working case after case after case - until Simon has to order them to take a day or two off.
"You haven't seen the terror in Ellison and the captain's faces when our civilian observer ends up in hospital again because he's stood his ground against a psycho to make sure that someone watches Ellison's back.
"You haven't seen them go out to question a minor witness in a shop-lifting scam and end up in a gun battle that leads the evening news."
"Jenkins," said Henri Brown, in a tone reminiscent of a favourite teacher imparting words of wisdom, "Ellison and Sandburg can attract every psycho in the state, not to mention a few international terrorists, without even trying.
"They can also be guaranteed to bring every one of the sons of bitches down if they try to mess with our city."
"You talk like they're superheroes or something," said Jenkins in disbelief.
"No," replied Rafe. "Just a good detective and a civilian who is a cop in all but name. They'll go one hundred and ten percent every day to keep this city safe and so will we. Someone has to get more of the glory. In doing so, they attract more of the psychos. You want to swap with them?
"Sure, sometimes it'd be nice to get a little more recognition from the outside. I'd take a 'good job' from Ellison over a reporter hounding me any day of the week, though."
"No, Jenkins," said Brown, "we don't get annoyed. We get thankful."
In the bullpen, Jim Ellison had a shy smile on his face. He didn't like to listen to private conversations but he was glad and humbled to have heard that one. He reached out and lifted his phone, calling his partner and making some hurried arrangements.
Ten minutes later, a group of detectives came out of the bullpen and headed back to their desks and unlocked their PCs to find a surprise waiting on them... an email from Ellison. It read:
You've all busted your butts this week while Sandburg and I relaxed. Beer and pizza is on us. It's open house at the loft tonight. You're all welcome.