The Sentinel is the property of Paramount and Pet Fly Productions. This story had been written just for fun, and no money had been made from it.

My thanks to Beth and to Jess.

This Story is Cannon, and takes place just after Siege.

The Bet

The two uniformed Police officers stood near the coffee machine in the corridor and watched the newcomer arrive. Some said he was a grad student working on his PhD, but hell, the kid did not look old enough to be doing that.

Office Frank Doyle watched him critically, like a punter at the racecourse scrutinising the horses before the off, he had $20 on this and he wanted to win. The pool had started within the first two hours of the news getting round the PD. Detective James Ellison was getting stuck with a ride along observer. The early entrants to the pool had picked the plum times, the name of the game was simple to guess how long it would be before Ellison vented and it hit the fan, or more likely the kid hit the wall. Frank looked at his partner watching him jot down four days, and fold the slip up, his face showing a superior grin. There was no way the kid could last more than four days; if Ellison did not scare him off yesterday's run in with Kincaid should have. But Frank was beginning to wonder.

When he had first heard about the ride along, and seen the observer, he had been pretty sure that the kid wouldn't even pass the preliminary drug test, hell he and Burt had busted their fair share of students from Ranier in their time. But the kid's eyes were clear and bright and seemed a window to the soul. He suppressed a grin as he took a sip of his coffee– if only his wife could hear him; that was her favourite line. But, with this kid, it seemed to fit. Walking right next to him was the man in question, Detective James “Jim” Ellison, well known hard ass and one cold SOB. But he was a good cop, a man that would never let another of the brotherhood down. Personality seemed to have bypassed the man but, okay, not everyone could be mister congeniality.

Ellison was the personal pit bull of Captain Simon Banks. He took on the worse cases the elite Major Crimes Department were given, and he usually brought home results. A good cop with one of the worst records for vehicle use in the whole of the PD, rumours were thick that the PD insurance company had his name highlighted in red on their customer lists. It was not that he was a bad driver, he just seemed to have bad luck when in pursuit. No one Frank knew had ever gotten close to the man on a personal level– he never took part in any of the social events at the station, and the last person to ask him to buy raffle tickets was still in therapy. So, the kid's chances of surviving were low, to say the least.

The kid, what was his name, Sandman, no, Sandburg, was walking, correction, bouncing along next to the larger detective. He had a battered backpack on his shoulder, a long blue army surplus overcoat hanging open over a too long white shirt, and a vest which was a startling blue colour, then finished off with bleached old jeans with holes in the knees, and ratty looking sneakers. He was pushing his long hair with one hand; jeez, the guy had long hair down to just past his shoulders, not a good sign when partnered with the ex-military Ranger Captain, back from his face. The grad student was talking a mile a minute as he bounced along next to the older man. He did a quick skip and hop to keep up since the detective was paying him no attention and just strode along towards the Major Crime Bull Pen.

“Come off it man, we have to make this work. If we don't, your ass is grass, you get my meaning?”

Ellison stopped suddenly but the kid kept walking and was actually past him before a hand shot out and caught him by the back of his coat, pulling him backwards. The kid's arms wind-milled as he tried to retain his balance and not land on his backside in front of everyone.

“My ass is what Sandburg?! If you thing you're the one in charge here, then think again. You'renothing get that? NOTHING! I don't need you. I can manage this thing alone!”

Ellison had the kid pulled up on his toes so that he was nose to nose with him. The full fury of an Ellison vent was about to happen, and Frank and Burt pulled back. Pity about the kid, Frank mused, but it was everyone for themselves. Then the strangest thing happened. The kid's hand pressed up against Ellison's chest. He wasn't trying to push him away, hell, he could not have budged the man since he was at least 6 inches taller and much heavier built, but was instead obviously trying to get Ellison's attention.

Frank's breath caught in his throat. The kid was actually touching the pit bull, he was going to lose a hand then and there; he had seen people splattered across the wall for less. Sandburg's hand tightened. He was clearly ignoring all the warning signs. Nice knowing you, kid. Any minute now he was going to be treated to a vintage Ellison vent.

The side of Ellison's jaw was clenched tight, the teeth grinding, when his body tension seemed to ease. As a cop of 20 years Frank prided himself on being able to read body language. It was often the only clue you had as to a suspect's intensions, and the ability had saved his life more than once. The Detective was calming as Sandburg spoke quietly. Frank couldn't hear him, but whatever he said was working, the tension was falling away from the older man. Then, if it was at all possible, he leaned even further into Ellison's personal space. But Ellison only exhaled slowly, “Just promise me you won't do that again, Chief, okay? Just stay put when I tell you to”.

“Sure, partner. As long as it doesn't interfere with my job.” Sandburg met the detective's arctic gaze levelly, and did not flinch. It was as if they had reached an understanding.

Frank stared. The kid had just called Ellison his partner and everyone knew that the detective did not allow anyone to say that. His last and only partner had been Jack Pentagast, and that had finished badly. For a moment James Ellison just stood there, then his hand moved quickly towards Sandburg's head. But instead of a blow, it only lightly clipped the side of the observer's head, ruffling the long hair almost affectionately. Then, of all things, Ellison grinned and then clapped the kid's shoulder and the two of them set off again.

“So your listen to me in the future, okay man?”

A slight nod from the older man was enough to start another wave of dialogue, but this time Ellison slowed so the kid did not have to hurry to keep up with him; he was no longer trying to out-distance his shadow.

Frank dug his hand into his pocket ,fished out his slip, and changed his bet from one week to one year. They would laugh, but he knew now that kid was here to stay.

The End

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