Author's Notes:

Hey, everybody! I actually listened when you guys said you wanted the next AR story. :-) I sorta leave you hanging in this one, but its sequel should be up next month, so it won't be year-long wait or anything.

I have an alternate site up at It's for those who have difficulty printing stories from the freeservers site, or those who might have trouble navigating it. Everything's reorganized, and there's a functioning message board for those of you who want to make comments about whatever. There are also going to be trivia games as soon as I put in the link (darn, I knew I was forgetting something).

Anyway, as usual, I hope you enjoy!



D.L. Witherspoon

(Posted 02-11-00)

"Two points! And the crowd goes wild!" I shout, as I do a little dance for the imaginary audience, and the one true witness of my athletic prowess.

Jim grins and shakes his head. He thinks I'm totally outrageous, and quite frankly, I can be. I like my world with a little spice, you know? I'm a lawyer. I can do 'staid', if necessary. You have to know your judges. Some of them despise any show of flamboyancy-- say one word too loud, and you can kiss your case goodbye. For them, I wear my darkest suit, my whitest shirt, and shine my shoes. Well, okay, I have my shoes shined, but you get the picture. Most of the time, however, I add a little color-- a flowered tie, a shirt that can run the range from pastel to jewel tone, and whatever shoes fitting my mood that day. If someone has pissed me off, well at that point, all bets are off, and 'outrageous' becomes a mild description of who I am.

But my pissed off days are few and far in between lately. When Jim got out of prison and moved in with me, everyone whispered that I would be a good influence on him. What a laugh. He's the one who sets good examples for me. Especially when it comes to patience. All my life, I've practically had everything I wanted, when I've wanted it. I wouldn't say that I was spoiled, but despite my mom being a single mom, and our vagabond lifestyle, I was raised pretty much as part of the Middle Class. Jim, on the other hand, was a child of the Lower Class. No, what's lower than the Lower Class? I'm not just talking the poverty line here, folks. Jim just didn't have money when he was growing up; he didn't have love either. His mom left, and his father and brother despised him, with a judicious amount of abuse thrown in for good measure.

Sounds like the perfect formula for a serial killer, doesn't it, or at the least, a seriously fucked up adult. But my Jim beat the odds, and became a fine, upstanding citizen. He joined the Army, got his Bachelor's degree in his spare time, and made it to the rank of captain. Then, the odds decided they were tired of getting their asses kicked by him, so they did some ass-kicking of their own. The sentinel abilities Jim had either suppressed or controlled, became uncontrollable. He asked for an honorable discharge, came home to Cascade, and somehow found himself doing life in prison for crimes he didn't commit. Oh, you say, this is where his past finally gets to suck him under, right? Wrong. He became, like, the guardian of fresh meat in Starkville. If some young cherry was unfortunate enough to have to do time in the penitentiary, he was put under Jim's protection for his short stay, and when he was released, he'd be as virginal as the day he entered. If you don't believe me, ask Garrity. He literally owes his ass to Jim.

"Sandburg! You gotten lost in that ocean you call a brain?"

Jim: teacher of patience, tosser of lifesavers. "Sorry, man. You know how easily distracted I am by shiny objects." I hand him the basketball. We've turned the back of the parking lot of Sandburg & Associates into a mini-court.

"I don't see any shiny objects around, Chief," Jim teases, as he sets the ball to spinning on the top of his index finger.

"That's because you don't have a mirror."

He blushes. He knows I find him fascinating, and he's gotten used to me just sitting around staring at him, but he still gets embarrassed when I say things like that. Then, he freezes, his head cocking slightly to one side-- a sure sign that he's listening to something only a Sentinel can hear.

"We have company, Chief," he says.


"Captain Banks."

Ah. Being a cop, he parks on the street. Arrogant devil. "Do we have to go inside?" I pick up a towel and start swiping at the sweat I've worked up.

"Garrity's going to point him in this direction." He catches the towel I toss to him.

I pick up the ball, and we start toward the back door of our building, meeting Captain Banks about midway. He's a large, imposing man, but a natty dresser, and a fair cop. As the head of Cascade's Major Crime Unit, he could have been a real son of a bitch, pushing whatever private agenda he wanted. But he treats the criminal element with decency, and he has a ton of respect for Jim, so he's okay in my book. Actually, his respect for Jim has grown immensely in the past couple of months since Jim saved his life.

"Care to play a little B-ball, Captain?" I call. "You look like a man who's done some slam-dunking in his day."

"Why, Attorney Sandburg, is that a racial remark I hear dripping from your tongue?" Banks quips, not offended in the least.

"So, is that your way of saying my skinny white ass can beat your big black one?"

"Not even on my worst day, Sandburg," the captain challenges. He switches a folder from hand to hand as he shrugs out of his suit jacket. "Are you going to be getting into this action, Mr. Psychic?" he asks Jim.

Okay. You see, to rescue Banks, and then Jim, I had to let little things slip. The cops who were helping us, added up these little things and came up with the answer that Jim was a psychic. Since psychic is a well-known, though oft-misunderstood concept, whereas sentinel is neither known nor understood, I let them believe what they wanted. We had all agreed that it would be best if the secret remained just among the few of us who already knew, but in private, everyone likes to tease Jim. They don't know why, but I do-- getting Jim to smile is like giving a gift to yourself.

"Your heritage aside, sir," Jim intones formally, although his eyes are twinkling with humor, "I could never challenge you. I have too much respect for my elders."

"I believe those are fighting words," Banks replies, taking off his wire-rimmed glasses.

"Hey, Jim," I say, enjoying this show of testosterone. "Why don't you show Captain Banks how you can 'psychic' the ball into the basket?" I toss him the ball.

He looks at me, asking if I'm sure. I nod, he shrugs, gets the basket into Sentinel sight, and lets the ball fly.

"Yes!" I yell, as the ball arcs and sinks smoothly through the goal. "Nothing but net!"

Banks blinks blankly. "But-- but we're more than a court-length away," he stammers. "How?"

"Talent," I reply, thumping my Sentinel on the back. "Pure talent."

"Which reminds me why I'm here," Banks says. "You used to live over in the old Ward Seven neighborhood, didn't you, Ellison?"

"I grew up there."

"Well, they're tearing down the whole area to build some mega-mall--"

"Couldn't happen to a nicer area," Jim mutters. His childhood memories aren't the greatest.

"The construction crew unearthed a skeleton. Debris around the remains seems to point toward the seventies, so I was wondering if you remember any rumors of someone missing?"

Jim shakes his head. "I don't remember much from that time, Simon," he replies honestly. "As with most kids, I was mainly focused on myself."

Banks sighs. "Yeah, well, I thought it was worth a chance. There was a necklace found with it. If we get desperate for an ID, I might have you hold it or something."

See? Everyone knows everything about psychics, or so they think. If Jim holds the necklace, he won't get "vibes" from it. However, he might be able to feel an inscription or some other identifying mark. "You know, you're going to have to start paying Jim a consulting fee," I point out, as we walk closer to the makeshift basketball court.

"If I'm paying, you might as well start now, Ellison." Banks hands him the folder he's been carrying, not to mention his jacket and glasses. "Inside are some photos of the scene, including a closeup of the necklace. See if anything rings a bell or something," he says, reaching up to loosen his tie. "So, Sandburg, what tricks do you have up your sleeve?"

I dribble the ball I've reclaimed. "No tricks. Just speed, skill, and intelligence," I gloat, weaving around his tall form. "You ready to take that on?"

"Ready and able, mister."

"Are you?" I ask, suddenly remembering he's still in rehab for his broken leg.

"As long as I keep my movements simple. Besides, it's a good excuse in case you manage to beat me," he adds with a grin.

He's big, I give him that, but he's also predictable. In a matter of minutes, I'm able to get past his guard, and up to the net. An easy two points. I look over to Jim, expecting a display of support. Instead, I get nothing. I mean absolutely nothing. The man is standing as still as a statue.

"Jim?" I race to his side, expecting him to be zoned. But he's not, because his eyes find mine, and they are filled with such sadness. "Jim, what is it?" I repeat anxiously.

"The necklace," he whispers. "It belongs to my mother."


How does a day go from sugar to shit so fast? I had looked forward to going to Sandburg & Associates since the file about the Jane Doe crossed my desk. I like Sandburg and Ellison. They are both down-to-earth men who enjoy a lot of the things I do, and unlike with the guys in the department, I don't have to keep up an image of authority with them. As if they would accept my authority anyway. Ellison only answers to Sandburg, and Sandburg...well, I'm not sure who he answers to.

So, I stroll into their office, assured of a warm welcome this time. The first time I visited them, I got a very cold, very threatening reception from their co-workers, Garrity and Audrey, because they thought I was going to arrest Ellison or something. Then, I-- in all ignorance, trust me-- left Ellison alone with his brother, and while that led to the break up of a major drug pipeline into the city, it also hurt Jim, physically and emotionally. Okay, let me be honest here. I wasn't around when Ellison was convicted of murder, so when this whole retrial thing came up, I was pretty skeptical. Even when he was cleared, I thought to myself, "If he isn't guilty of murder, I'm sure he's guilty of something." I'm jaded, I know. I've had criminal after criminal paraded in front of me, or I've dragged his/her ass to jail myself, so no, I don't have a lot of goodwill towards them. And Ellison had spent ten years in a state penitentiary. Hell, if he wasn't a criminal when he went in, I was pretty sure he was one when he came out. It's the nature of the penal system, right?

Anyway, I met this ex-con during the middle of a hostage situation. He has this affinity for foreign languages, and he acted as interpreter and negotiator. It was rather impressive work. When I needed an interpreter again, I went to him, and that's when we got caught up with his brother and the drug situation. That's also the night I became indoctrinated into the Protect Jim Ellison Society. I watched his brother assault him with a stapler, and I was disgusted. But it was the venomous words that poured from his mouth that truly sickened me. Family is everything to me, and I just can't understand how one brother treats the other the way Stephen Ellison treated Jim. And if what he spouted off about their father is true, well, if he ever surfaces, I just need five minutes with him-- alone.

I had gone along with the assumption the rest of the world had, that a powerful man like Blair Sandburg was only interested in Jim Ellison for one reason. I mean, if I were so inclined, I could see the attraction. Jim kept himself fit in jail, and when he drops his guard, I have never seen eyes so expressive in my life. That night, when he was confronted with the truth about his brother and his dealings in the drug world, Ellison left himself wide open, and God, it got to me. Ever seen a puppy on it's way to be put to sleep? Me neither, but I can only assume those eyes would look like Jim's that night. I never want to see anyone look like that again. I don't want to see him look like that again.

But here I am, putting a similar pain into those sky-washed eyes. I never thought-- I never would have approached him with this if I had even the slightest notion that this would be someone he knew. I thought maybe he'd heard rumors of a hooker gone missing, or some neighbor's daughter or girlfriend. I never wanted-- Shit. "Maybe it's just a similar design," I say quickly. "Bet these things were sold by the crate back in those days."

"If I touch it, I'll know," Jim replies softly.

Touch? Of course. He's psychic. "Sure. I think that can be arranged. Why don't I give you a call, and--"


I look at Sandburg for guidance.

He touches Jim's arm. "We need to shower and change, man. Then, we'll meet the captain in his office."

A terse nod of the head, and Ellison strides off toward the building. "I'm sorry," I begin. "I had no idea--"

"I know, Captain," Sandburg says, but I can tell he really doesn't want to hear my lame apologies. "You'll have the necklace ready for us?"


He nods and follows Ellison inside, leaving me alone holding the basketball. I place the ball just inside the door, and walk around the building to my car.

There was no way in hell I would face that Garrity and Audrey now.


"What's happened?" Garrity asks, and I can tell by the way his arms are crossed, he's not going to let me slide with an "I'll tell you later." To look at Garrity, his short red hair and young appearance, one would assume he is this bookish, geek-like creature, whose backbone is made of computer code, not the vertebrae of "real" men. The truth of it is that he's an amazing research assistant and no, I really don't want to know how he gets the computer to tell him the things he does, but his spine is made of steel. I gave him a job, I'm bankrolling his education, so I'm pretty high on his "thankful for" list, but his first loyalty is to Jim. If Jim is threatened in any way, I go into "mother hen-protecting-chick" mode; Garrity becomes a steam-roller, crushing whatever obstacles that are in Jim's path. If he thought I was one of those obstacles, he would not hesitate in crushing me either. I happen to like that a lot.

"A skeleton was found in Jim's old neighborhood. It might be his mother."


If I didn't know Garrity so well, I would assume his comment was about the situation in general, i.e., it was a bitch that Jim had to go through this. But I know Garrity means it literally-- that Jim's mother was a bitch for bringing more grief to her son. "Yeah. We're going to get cleaned up, then go to Banks' office. There was a necklace found on the remains."

"Audrey and I will take care of things around here."

Which means I can focus totally on Jim. "If it's her, I don't know when we'll be back into the office."

Garrity nods. "It's her. I'll reschedule what needs to be rescheduled."

Do I really have a psychic on my staff? "How can you be so sure?"

"Because he is."

He's right. Jim is certain that the remains are his mother's. It was in his eyes when he spoke outside. It was in his walk as he made his way through the building. Instinct, or repressed knowledge? I shiver at the thought. "He doesn't need this shit," I rant softly. Jim's still recovering from the Stephen episode and he'd almost died saving Banks. What he needs is years and years of peace and quiet, but I would settle for a few months. Unfortunately, fate is denying him even that. "Sometimes I wonder if he wasn't better off isolated in prison."

"He wasn't."

The certainty of Garrity's reply makes me feel better. Jim's already dressing by the time I pass him and head into the shower. Less than ten minutes later, I'm buttoning my shirt and looking for my socks. He hands me a black pair, and I realize that both of us have unconsciously dressed in our court clothes. We keep a variety of clothes at the office-- sweats and cutoffs for basketball or the gym, sweaters and slacks for just hanging around the office or dinner anywhere other than Wonderburger, and suits for sudden court appearances, the occasional press conference, or an afternoon memorial service. Guess I know why we're in the suits.

The drive to the Central Precinct is silent. I don't expect him to say anything, and I know he doesn't need to hear my constant chatter at the moment. Banks has alerted the front desk that we are coming, so we grab our waiting Visitor ID's, and take the elevator up to Major Crimes. Unlike the night Stephen Ellison was brought in, the bullpen is bustling and we're greeted with warm, but questioning glances as we make our way to the captain's office in the back.

"Come in," Banks replies to my polite knock, and I see that he has two chairs waiting for us in front of his desk. He also makes a point of closing the blinds to give Jim privacy. So, he knows this is just a formality, too. Oh, Jim. How long have you known she was dead?

Banks picks up an envelope and hands it to Jim. A gold locket slithers out, coiling into his palm. I watch breathlessly as he takes the oval amulet, and caresses it with his thumb and index finger. Whatever those Sentinel digits are looking for, they find, and all movement stops.

"I'd heard somewhere that you could tell real gold from fake gold by biting it," Jim says a moment later. "So, when Mama was taking a nap on the sofa, I bit it." He looks up at Banks. "Your forensics team will find the teeth marks."

"It might be the same necklace, Jim, but--"

"She broke her collarbone in an accident at work, Captain. The records must still be on file somewhere. I'm not sure about any dental records, however."

I hate how calm he sounds, but I understand why he's raised his emotional barriers. What I need to do is get him home, and-- and what? Make him fall apart? Make him feel something for his dead mother? Why? Maybe he doesn't feel anything for her. Maybe he shouldn't. All I know is that she left him. What she did while she was with him, I have no idea. He's let some things slip about his father, and his brother supplied a few tidbits as well. But he's been tight-lipped about his mother.

"I'll get to work on getting those records," Captain Banks is saying. "Can you tell me her complete name?"

"Grace Nicole Parker Ellison." Jim recites her birthdate, social security number, and birthplace as well. See? I didn't even know he knew all of that.

"If there's anything we can do for you, Jim, just let us--"

"Do you know how she died yet?" I interrupt.

Banks shakes his head. "Being a Jane Doe, she wasn't a high priority down at the morgue." I must have frowned, because he hurries to add, "That's not because the coroner thinks she's a nobody. It's just that it's easier doing an autopsy when you're working with a known quantity."

I guess that makes sense-- channeling your energies toward what can be solved, before wasting time on the real mysteries, but it still sounds a bit like a caste system. I mean if a known prostitute is brought to the morgue, followed by a known socialite, wonder which one would get served first? Jim lets out a soft sigh, the kind that accompanies an internal shudder, and I realize I'm gathering wool about equality, while he's close to meltdown. Don't worry about the morgue's priorities, Sandburg. Worry about your own.

"If there's nothing else, Captain, we'll get out of here, and let you get back to your investigation." I stand, watching Jim as he matches my movement. I can tell by the care he takes that he has a headache. Some people seem to take all their trouble in their guts, ending up with ulcers. That'll probably be me one day. Jim, however, seems to gather his troubles in his head. Maybe it's a sensory thing, his brain receiving so much feedback that even the slightest emotional response throws him off-kilter.

I put my hand against his lower back to steady him, ground him until I can get him home. I fear that a migraine is looming on the horizon, and his migraines are nasty things, attacking his entire body. I helplessly watch him curl up into a fetal ball-- after many bouts of vomiting and dry heaves-- the pain so great that he can't stop the tears that fall from his eyes even though he says the salt in them burns his face. With normal headaches, I can Guide him through the pain, or massage it away. But migraines do not allow me to touch him, my voice becoming just another noise that grates on his sensitive hearing. Simply put, watching is the only thing I can do for him, offering my companionship from a distance.... Sometimes I wonder which of us suffers more.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself. His headache hasn't become a migraine yet. Sometimes ibuprofen and a dark room can stave off the dreaded affliction, or at least lessen its effects. I hope that's the case today.

I wonder if crossing my fingers will help.


I'm an easygoing kind of guy. You work with crime like I do, and you quickly come to realize what's important, and what's not. One of the reasons why I'm divorced is that when I started listing what was important, and realized that Joan was coming in third behind my son, Daryl, and my work, I knew it best not to postpone the inevitable. It would have led to more fights, more waste of valuable time that I could use with my son-- and my work. No, I wouldn't classify myself as a workaholic, but I do think what I do is a valuable public service. I loved my years as a detective, but I think I've really found my niche in command. Until it comes to something like this.

Passing along bad news is something every commander dreads, and although Jim Ellison is not under my command, I think it's right that I be the one to tell him about his mother-- face to face. When I flash my badge at the doorman and tell him my name, he informs me that I've been expected, and calls the elevator for me. In the plush, moving box I try to order my words, but how the hell do you tell someone his mother has been murdered, and not expect to cause him pain?

I'm met at the door by the housekeeper. She's this sweet-looking little old grandmother, but that's all a sham. The way she threatened me about hurting Jim the first time I visited the penthouse let me know she hadn't spent the best years of her life on some Midwestern farm. No, sirree. My best guess was that she'd been a secret agent-- FBI, CIA, OSS, somewhere where she learned to kill. Five feet, two inches of pure deadly force. That's what Sandburg has for a housekeeper.

"Take off your shoes," she orders in a whisper.

"Is Mr. Sandburg or Mr. Ellison in?" I ask as I obey. Bet she keeps a tazer in those big apron pockets of hers.

"Keep your voice down, too," she shushes me. "My sweetie is very, very sick."

Shit. He really doesn't need to hear what I have to say. "Maybe I should come back at another time," I hurriedly whisper.

"No. Mr. Sandburg said to show you in when you came. They're in my sweetie's room." I start across the floor in my socks. "You have keys or change in your pockets," she says with a frown. "Too much noise. Hand everything to me."

I feel like a kid whose mom's looking for the frog or lizard he brought home, but loving life the way I do, I do as she says. Then, I go over to the downstairs room and peek inside. I see them on the bed. Sandburg is leaning back against the wall, with Ellison's head in his lap, while the rest of the long body is curled up beneath a light blanket. Ellison's eyes are blindfolded, but that doesn't hide the fact that he is much paler than usual. For that matter, so is Sandburg, whose eyes are closed, until the man in his lap twists fitfully.

Sandburg's eyes open, see me, and he gently smooths Ellison's hair. "Shh. It's okay, Jim," he whispers so softly that I can barely hear him. "It's just the captain, Simon. Rest, my friend."

I don't know what's happened here, but I shouldn't be disturbing them. "I told Mrs. Thomas I could come back later," I offer, only slightly louder than he.

"No. It's fine," Sandburg replies. "The doctor's injection has him out of it for at least another hour, hopefully. You can never tell exactly how he's going to respond to a drug."

I move closer, and he indicates a chair I should take. "Doctor?"

Sandburg continues stroking the short, brown hair. "Jim experienced the mother of all migraines." He smiles. "I think there's a pun in there. So, what have you found out?"

"Grace Ellison was murdered."

"I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not. How?"

"Skull fracture. Blunt object trauma. I'll bring you a copy of the report, if you want."

He shakes his head. "That won't be necessary. Now what?"

I mentally try to figure out an escape route in case Sandburg goes off because of my next statement. If Sandburg blows, then Mrs. Thomas blows-- and my ass is cooked. "Our best hope for solving this is him," I say quite hesitantly. The awaited explosion never comes.

"He was a boy. How much could he know?"

"Probably more than any adult realizes."

Sandburg throws his head back against the wall. "Why can't these people leave him the fuck alone!" he growls, his voice still soft. But the bundle in his lap fidgets anyway. "False alarm, big guy. Everything is okay," he croons quickly. "All is well."

As I watch them, I wonder if Ellison's psychic ability is picking up on Sandburg's anxiety. Must be weird living with someone who can sense your emotions so readily. Wonder what he read from me when he found me at the bottom of that shaft? "When do you think he'll be able to be interviewed?"

"I'll let you know."

Good enough. I'm not about to push my luck. I stand. "I'll be leaving--"

"When will you be able to release the remains?"

"We'll need a few days to do more testing and take some samples. You're going to have a service?"

"I think he needs the closure."

I nod, and before I realize it, my hand is halfway to his head. I stop, and look at Sandburg in chagrin. The two men might not be sharing a bedroom, but I don't want to violate another's territory.

The lawyer smiles. "Go ahead, Captain, he won't bite. Neither will I," he adds, and for the first time, his smile actually reaches his eyes.

I touch the short hair, surprised to find it baby soft. Ellison makes a soft sound.

"He likes being touched," Sandburg explains. "I think it's because he didn't get enough of it when he was a baby."

I flash back to when Daryl was just a tiny thing. There were nights when I held him, not to soothe or quiet, but just because I could. Had no one done this for Ellison? Hell, even though it annoys him, I still find myself rubbing Daryl's back or his head when we're together. The urge to go to my son and give him a big bear hug, is strong.

I reluctantly remove my hand. "Take care of him, Sandburg," I say in a gruff whisper.

"Count on it."

I pad back to the living room, where my shoes, change, and keys are returned. When I reach my car, I sit for a minute, then head for my ex-wife's house. I'm not supposed to see Daryl until the weekend.

But some things just can't wait.


Maybe the entire universe isn't against Jim after all. It manages to stop raining the day he puts his mother to rest. The week between the discovery of her remains, and the quiet graveside service has been hard on him. Although the migraine didn't return, he was still bothered by headaches, and he ate about as often as he slept. Because of this, I refused to let him talk to the police. I mean, Grace Ellison had been a homicide victim for twenty years; another week or month wouldn't make a difference, nor would it bring her back-- and for that, I'm exceedingly glad.

I have suspicions, you see. Suspicions that it's not just the death of his mother that is causing Jim such pain. I think it's the memories of her that has him in such agony. All along I've considered William Ellison to be the major demon in Jim's life, but now I'm not so sure. I've watched over him as he managed to get an hour or two of sleep. He doesn't make a sound during his nightmares, but the expressions that cross his face either make me shudder or weep. I wish that this service would end the pain, but I think it's just beginning.

I drive to the cemetery, thinking it's only going to be the two of us, and the minister the funeral home was so gracious to secure for us. We had contacted the Witness Protection Program in order to inform Stephen Ellison of his mother's death, and subsequent burial. His reply was directly quoted to me by the U.S. Marshal in charge of him: "The bitch never did nothing for me, so why should I risk my ass by going back to Cascade? Tell Jimmy I want my cut if he finds out she had life insurance." We had also put a notice in the paper, just in case Grace had any remaining friends in Cascade. But since the funeral home received no cards or flowers in her memory, I figure none of her friends remain-- if she had friends at all.

However, there is a short line of cars waiting for us as we turn into the cemetery. I'm not really surprised to see Garrity and Audrey, I guess, but I have to smile when Mrs. Thomas emerges from the backseat of Garrity's car. The others get out of their cars, and I recognize the policemen we worked with when we rescued Captain Banks: Captain Taggert, Detectives Brown and Rafe, and the five others who had volunteered. I also see John Phillips, one of the doormen at our building, two of the Chinese workers Jim had helped at Johnathan's, some guy who looks like a gang member, and Carolyn Plummer. Stephen's ex-wife outclasses him by miles.

She walks up to Jim, and gives him a hug. "That's from Jenny. She's mad that I didn't let her come, but she said she'd forgive me if I gave you her love."

Jim smiles. "You didn't have to come."

She gives him a look that says, "Of course I did." But instead of scolding him, she reaches out to embrace him again, and says, "This one is from me."

I think I could love this woman.

Well, her actions spur the people around her, so I step back while everyone gives their condolences to Jim. I hear the gangbanger call Jim, "Caretaker", so I assume he's connected to Jim via Starkville. Right before we gather around the grave, Captain Banks drives up, muttering something about a budget meeting that wouldn't end. Anyway, it's a nice-sized gathering, and what I like best about it, is that Jim knows he's not alone. I can see the awe in his eyes, the shock that so many people came out to his mother's burial. They came to support you, Jim, because you mean that much to them, to us. Don't you ever forget it.

After the minister has said his final "amen", Garrity makes the announcement that a buffet has been set up at the office for anyone who cares to stop by. Being that it's lunchtime, the offer is met with overwhelming approval. The people keep Jim so distracted that he actually eats, and whatever Captain Taggert says to him before he leaves, has Jim laughing. I think that's the whole idea of a funeral-- family helping family to heal. That's what Jim's family has done for him. That's what I hope they will continue to do for him.

Because I don't think this is over.


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