This is the next story in the How Life Turns Out series. AU crossover with Stargate SG-1

Disclaimer: Don't own them. Don't make any money from this. My ownly reward is hearing the kind words of my readers and all the chuckles I get as I write.

Eternal thanks go to TAE and Cheryl for the beta and test reads and for being patient as I took my time.


Punishment
Lila Kulp

Iím being punished. This is punishment for all the evils and sins that Iíve committed. The universe decided to not wait until one Jack Pendergast dies to exact its karmic justice. Thatís the only logical explanation for this newest rookie that Iíve been stuck with.

Iíve broken in a lot of rookies. Apparently, Iím doing something right, because the brass keeps asking me to train them. All I really do is take them out on patrol with me and teach them how to not get killed. I guess they donít learn that at the academy.

Rookies come in all shapes and sizes, and Iíve trained them all. Male and female, old and young, those who you know are going to have a great career and those who make you wonder what ever made them think they should become a cop. Iíve worked with them all. Iíve even developed an ability to predict what most new officers will be doing in five years. Will they still be with the department? Will they be patrol or detective? Itís kind of a bummer because it completely ruined the standard pool to guess when each officer will either quit the force or move up to detective.

This new rookie is an odd one. In some things he shows a lot of promise, but in others, he just isnít listening.

Heís ex-military, so I have to deal with the normal stuff that you would expect. I have to remind him that itís King instead of Kilo, or David and not Delta. Other than a few little things, heís made the transition pretty well, unlike the one who had a hard time understanding that anyone not in uniform wasnít the enemy.

Heís got some good instincts. His very first traffic stop turned into a major drug bust. I would have just written the guy a ticket for rolling through a stop sign, but Ellison suggested that we search the car. I figured, why not? It would give the kid some good experience with searching a vehicle and even better experience with not finding anything. Boy, was I shocked when we found bricks of cocaine in the trunk where the spare tire should have been. I attributed it to beginnerís luck.

Later that same day, we had another stop where I was certain that weíd get another big haul. I asked Jim what his interpretation of the situation was, just to see if he was starting to pick up on what to look for, and he thought the guyís story was legit. However, Iíd encountered this particular individual before, and I didnít believe his ďIím clean now and just going to see my girlfriendĒ story. We searched the vehicle anyway and Iíll be damned, the rookie was right. The reason why the driver was so nervous and kept patting his pocket was because he was on his way to propose to his girlfriend and kept checking to make sure he hadnít lost the ring.

Iíve yet to see Ellison guess wrong when it comes to the presence of drugs. If he gets too cocky, Iíll have to put him up against the K-9 units. He may have good instincts, but the dogs have much better noses.

But, thatís not the source of my pain.

Nor is it his people skills. Heís actually better at dealing with all the people we encounter than I am. Iíd just as soon put cuffs on everyone and let the jailers and lawyers sort it all out at the county jail. My job is to get them off the streets so that the law abiding citizens are safe. Jim, on the other hand, will actually listen to all their creative stories. Like I said earlier, heís got good instincts. Sometimes heíll listen to the entire story, but other times he interrupts and insists that they tell us the real story. Heís got this glare that he uses, too. It unnerves even me. Heís almost as good at telling if someone is lying as he is with finding drugs.

With a bit of work heíll make one hell of a detective, some day.

The thing that worries me, and that is causing me to get my purgatory out of the way while Iím alive, is that I canít get the man to stop chasing the suspects who run. I realize thatís our job. If they run, we chase them down, but Ellison never gives up, even when the rest of us have no idea where theyíve run to. He doesnít wait for backup. He dives in where angels fear to tread and has no fear.

The first time we did night patrol, we ended up chasing after a stolen car. The suspect eventually ditched the car and ran into a heavily wooded area. Does Ellison wait for backup? No. Does he look to me for instructions about setting up a perimeter around the area before flushing the suspect out? No. Does he wait to see if the air unit can spot where the guy exits the woods? No! Does the damn rookie even grab a flashlight? NO!

He just jumps out of the car, even before I can put it in park, and just takes off after the suspect into the woods. At night! In the dark! The man is lucky he didnít break a leg tripping over something in that overgrown mess. It was bad enough that the suspect wasnít so lucky. It was a mess getting EMS in there to carry the kid out. I donít want to even think about trying to carry two people out of that mess. I havenít lost a rookie yet, but this one keeps pushing his luck.

I, of course, had a chat with him about all this. I explained that he should have waited for backup. That instead of running off and getting either lost or hurt, he should have worked with the rest of the team. We could have set a perimeter around the woods and waited for the K-9 units to flush him out. Or even just let the helicopter spot the guy if he came out the other side.

I thought I had made myself clear and that the rookie understood how this all worked. I was wrong. At least it was during the day, this time.

We responded to a domestic dispute. By the time we got there the suspect had taken off. At least thatís what the victim said. Rookie Ellison of course insisted that the guy was hiding somewhere close. He said that he didnít entirely believe the womanís story. So, we started our search around the house. Turns out, my partner was right, again, and the man was hiding in the backyard, under the shed.

The guy, of course, takes off running. Ellison, of course, takes off after him. Does the guy run down the street? No. Does he stay anywhere near civilization? No. He takes off into the woods behind his house.

Ellison barely even looked to see if I was following him before he gave chase.

Maybe my little chat did sink in a little bit, because Ellison at least waited for me to catch up before trying to take the guy down. I found my rookie standing with a tree between him and where he said the suspect was hiding. How he knew the guy was there was beyond me. It was all a big overgrown mess to me. Iíd prefer to just take a weed whacker to it all and be done with it.

Before I can even ask Jim if heís sure thatís where the guy is, my rookie ex-military partner uses a mix of police and Army hand signals to tell me to keep an eye on the guy while he circles around and sneaks up from behind. At least heís starting to use team work.

The next thing I know, Jimís disappeared. I canít see him. I canít hear him. I most certainly wasnít about to shout for him with a suspect supposedly hiding nearby. All I could do was cover the spot I was told to cover and hope the rookie was right.

I guess the suspect didnít have any idea where Jim was either. A few minutes later I heard Jim shout the traditional ďFreeze PoliceĒ. The suspect actually screamed and ended up running right into me.

We dropped the guy off at county and did the accompanying paperwork and I once again proceeded to lecture Ellison about charging off into the woods after a suspect. I just canít get it through to him that running through the woods with reckless abandon isnít a good idea.

Do you know what his response was to that?

He said that he had spent a year and a half in the Peruvian jungle, where even the frogs can kill you. He wasnít about to be scared of the woods in Cascade.

Which, by the way, is the most Iíve ever gotten Ellison to tell me about his time in the Army after boot camp.

Thatís when I realized I was being punished.

So, after lecturing my rookie partner, multiple times, about the fact that we are a CITY police force and not park rangers, we ended up wandering through the woods trying to track down the brother of a non-custodian mother, who decided that his niece would be better off with him, instead of her father. Not only was he holding the little girl hostage, but he happened to be an expert woodsman who knew his way around a tree.

We were supposed to be part of a search team, but Ellison insisted that he had found some tracks and could track the guy through the woods. Just my luck, the county sheriff in charge of this hunt decided to give my partner a chance.

What really surprised me was when I found myself reassuring the sheriff that if my partner says he saw tracks, then he saw tracks. I had no doubt that Jim was right and would eventually lead us to the suspect and the little girl. I, also, had no doubt that this guy will try to run and hide in the woods. This would, of course, result in my partner chasing after him and eventually catching him. Needless to say, the sheriff looked at me weird when I told him that.

Maybe all of this is the universeís way of telling me that I should put in for a desk job and let the younger crowd go charging through the woods. I hate the woods. I hate the crunch of the leave and the bugs that are everywhere. I hate the mud and dirt and the fact that animals donít have indoor plumbing.

I most certainly donít like trudging through the deep woods in the rain when it is getting dark.

I have no idea how long we spent tracking this guy, but just as I opened my mouth to ask Jim if we were getting close, he stopped and started tilting his head in that odd way that he does when heís looking for someone, normally right before he goes charging into who knows where. I turned around and whispered for everybody to get ready, because our suspect was probably real close.

We werenít disappointed. We all barely had time to make sure our weapons were out and ready, when we all heard and saw the suspect come running from a thicket of underbrush and deeper into the woods.

The sheriffís people all went charging after him, but for some reason Ellison stayed where he was. He was still tilting his head and I swear I even saw him sniff the air, but he wasnít charging off into the woods like he normally does.

When I asked him why we werenít chasing the bad guy with everyone else, he informed me that the little girl wasnít with the suspect. He then mumbled something about wishing Blair was there before giving me a real serious look and telling me to keep an eye on him and to not let him zone. Whatever the hell that means. The only thing heíll tell me is that if he freezes Iím supposed to hit him or something to snap him out of it. Itís karma, Iím telling you.

So, Jim goes back to tilting his head as we move in the opposite direction that the suspect and everyone else had gone in. I had no idea what was going on, which is not a good thing for the senior member of the team. But, Iíve seen Ellison do some amazing things when tracking people, so I just kept following along and watching for any signs that he is freezing or zoning or whatever. Maybe I can knock some sense into him.

It didnít take long before we found the remains of an old shack. It barely even qualified as a structure, anymore. It was just some old rotted wood planks leaning against each other. I probably would have just walked right by it if Iíd been alone. Jim stopped just outside and started talking as if the little girl was nearby. Apparently, Iíve come to trust Jimís instincts so much, that while he was still talking to thin air, I moved away a bit and used the radio to let everyone know that we had found the girl.

Sure enough, by the time I finished updating the command center; Jim walked over to me carrying our main objective. Apparently his charm works on females of all ages.

The next thing I know, my rookie is ordering me to inform the command center to have a helicopter meet us in Hunterís Glen, wherever that was. And, yes he ordered me. Iíve been a cop long enough to recognize the air of command when I see it. I guess thatís more of his military past peeking out.

I donít know if it was me that Jim was taking pity on, or the little girl, but it was a much shorter walk to where Jim wanted the helicopter to meet us. He even lit a fire, though I think it was as much to help the rescue helicopter find us as it was to warm us up.

But I should have known my luck wasnít going to last for long. Just as the aircraft was landing, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to getting back to civilization and having a hot shower and warm food. Ellison gave me this wicked grin, evil, evil wicked grin and proceeded to crush my spirit by telling me that the helicopter was for the little girl, that there wasnít enough room for all of us and that he and I were going to have to walk back to the command center on foot. At least we didnít have to help track down the uncle again.

Thatís how I ended up suffering the latest version of my punishment. Itís dark. Itís started to rain. And Ellison and I are walking back to where this whole crummy day began. Itís all I can do to keep from tripping over stuff and Jim is just walking along like itís a stroll in the park. The next thing I know a branch or tree or something jumps out in front of me and hits me in the face. Then to add injury to insult, the ground jumps up and attacks me from behind.

I can just see it now, like some kind of comedy routine. Weíll go walking, or limping in my case, into the command center to check in with whoever is keeping track of everyone involved in the search. Jim will still be clean as a whistle with a perfectly pressed uniform and not even a drop of water on him, and Iíll be covered in mud, twigs and who knows what else. Oh, itíll be a long time before I live this down at the station. Police officers are not generous with their sympathy in cases like this, especially for their fellow officer.

I still have no idea what I did to deserve this punishment, this torture, but I am most definitely putting in for a desk job the first chance I get. I just hope that the criminals of Cascade eventually figure out that you can run, but you canít hide from Officer James J. Ellison.

The End




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