Christmas Countdown: December 14
Sentinel


By Juli

December 2008


Major Crimes wasn't like other police departments. They handled the heavy cases, not the everyday type of crime. That meant that the cops who worked there had brutal hours, but not typically on an actual holiday. Still, the department needed to be staffed and someone had to make the sacrifice to be in the office, even on Christmas Day.

Simon Banks had taken on that duty himself and not just because he was the boss. With his son spending the holiday with Joan, Simon's ex-wife, and his extended family all busy elsewhere, there just hadn't been any need for Simon to have the day off. Spending Christmas at the office would at least be better than sitting at home, alone, and feeling sorry for himself.

It didn't mean he had to be happy about it, though.

With a groan, Simon tossed a folder aside and made himself pick up another. He was always complaining that his job generated way too damn much paperwork. This was his opportunity to catch up with the majority of it and he had started with every intention of taking advantage of having no interruptions. A couple of hours into it, though, and Simon was ready for a break. Hell, he even wouldn't have minded if Blair Sandburg had come barging into his office with some half-crazy theory.

Simon was rooting through his desk, looking for change for the vending machine, when he heard the distinctive ping sound of the elevator doors opening. He knew they didn't have any hot cases pending, so whoever it was likely had just shown up to get brownie points from the boss. His detectives all knew that Simon was working. Normally Simon didn't care much for suck-ups, but was lonely enough that he stood in the doorway of his office, waiting to see who had arrived.

Brian Rafe's face lit up when he saw Simon waiting for him. "Hey, Captain. Merry Christmas." He put the large shopping bag he was carrying down on his desk.

"Merry Christmas," Simon responded automatically. His nose started twitching when he detected some wonderful aromas coming out of the bag. "Don't take this the wrong way, Rafe, but what are you doing here?"

Rafe shrugged out of his winter coat and carefully draped it across the back of his office chair. There was a reason he was teased about being a clothes horse by the other detectives. Even with the office empty and deserted, Rafe was dressed up in gray dress slacks and a dark red sweater that looked to be cashmere.

"You didn't ask for any volunteers for the Christmas shift this year," Rafe explained as he started unpacking the bag. "If you had, I would have signed up. With my mother's situation, I didn't have anything going on."

Simon winced. Rafe's only close family was his mother and she'd recently suffered a debilitating stroke, necessitating her placement in a nursing home. The younger man had taken it hard, but managed to keep up quality detective work even so. Simon admired that, as he admired Rafe's devotion to her.

"How's she doing?" Simon asked quietly.

Rafe had started to unpack the bag, but his hands stopped for the briefest of moments at Simon's question. "They had to put the feeding tube back in." He went on before Simon could offer any sympathy. "She fell asleep pretty early and there was no way I was sticking around for the nursing home's dinner. Besides, Mom's roommate has a mean pinch on her."

He knew a deflective tactic when he saw, but Simon let himself be distracted. "Pinch?"

"Yeah, let's just say that Doris doesn't let being in her 90s slow her down," Rafe grinned. "I have to sit down a lot when I'm visiting Mom and deprive her of a target or my ass would be black and blue."

Mention of Rafe's ass made Simon a little uncomfortable and diverted attention to the white foam boxes that Rafe was placing on the top of his desk. "What's all that?"

The last items Rafe pulled out where a couple of sturdy paper plates and two sets of plastic cutlery. "I thought if you were stuck here for Christmas, that I'd just bring a meal to share. We might as well be lonely together."

The thought didn't sound as pathetic as Simon thought it would have. "I'll go get my chair."

"Just use Ellison's," Rafe suggested. "It's closer and he'd never know."

"Trust me, he would," Simon replied, knowing that Jim, would be able to smell someone else's scent on his chair. Blair Sandburg wasn't the only thing in the world that Jim was territorial about. "And don't suggest that I use Brown's, either. That man's a slob."

Rafe chuckled and Simon found himself hurrying to fetch his office chair. As he rolled it out of the office, Rafe was opening the boxes and Simon's mouth started water. From the smells alone, he was going to have a much finer dinner than the vending machine would have provided.

"Where did you get this stuff?" Simon asked as he sat down.

"The Hedonist," Rafe responded, naming one of the more expensive restaurants in the area. Seeing Simon's surprise, he simply shrugged. "It is a holiday, after all. That's a good reason to splurge."

Their conversation started out centered on the food, but slowly they moved on to other topics. To Simon's surprise, he found himself telling the younger man about his family and laughing in turn at Rafe's stories about his mother's nursing home companions. Before Simon knew it, the food containers were empty and his stomach was pleasantly full.

"That was wonderful," Simon stated, shoving himself lightly away from the desk. "You sure do know how to do Christmas dinner proud, Rafe."

To his chagrin, his comment made some of the pleasure fade from Rafe's face. "It's just the two of us and it's Christmas. You could call me Brian, you know."

Simon wasn't sure where'd gone wrong with Rafe, but he knew he wanted to fix it. "Okay, Brian." Rafe smiled and Simon realized that he wanted to keep that smile on the younger man's face. "Look, you must have spent a fortune on this. Let me pay half?"

Unfortunately, it was apparently the wrong thing to say. Rafe's face fell again and he stood. With stiff movements, Rafe began gathering up the empty containers and putting them back in the bag. "No, this was my treat, Simon." Rafe looked up abruptly. "I mean, Captain."

After the easy camaraderie that they'd fallen into, it was startling to hear Brian call him by rank instead of by name. Simon Banks had not risen to be the captain of an important police division because he was stupid. He put the clues together, however, and realized that maybe he was an idiot.

"How about this," Simon suggested, hoping maybe it wasn't too late. "I have tickets to that jazz festival on New Year's Eve. Come with me?"

Brian bit his lip, looking like he wasn't trying to appear to hopeful. "New Year's Eve?"

"Yes," Simon smiled. "I have some pull with your boss, I think I can guarantee you the night off."

"Okay," Brian accepted. His smile was shy. "Sounds like fun."

Simon wanted to be crystal clear. "So, it's a date, then?"

He knew he'd finally said the right thing when Brian's smile widen into a grin. "Yeah, Simon, I guess it's a date." He looked at the office clock and sighed. "I've got to go. I promised to help entertain some of the nursing home residents this evening."

"Just keep away from Doris' fingers." Jim Ellison wasn't the only territorial bastard in Major Crimes, even if Simon didn't really have reason to be.

Yet.

"Will do," Brian promised. Simon watched while the younger man put on his coat. Rafe hesitated for another minute, like he was contemplating a kiss, but evidently decided that the office was no place for it. "I'll see you tomorrow."

"Tomorrow," Simon nodded, watching until Rafe disappeared into the elevator.

The office felt a little colder after Rafe left, but Simon piled back into the paperwork with fresh enthusiasm. There was no damn way he'd still have it piled up on New Year's; it looked like he'd have far better things to do.

~the end~

 

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