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14 May 2010 @ 05:14 pm
S01E02 - Grievances  
Episode Number: 1.02
Episode Title: Grievances
Episode Rating: TV-14
Synopsis: The second day on the job proves to be difficult for Simon as he has his younger brother to deal with, as well as the pretty but irksome guidance counselor, not to mention a potential problem with one of his guards.


*****

Simon grimaces into the mirror as he tries for the fifth time to straighten his tie. Frustratingly, he sighs through grit teeth and calls out in the direction of the living room, "Wendell! You had best be ready to go!"

"Not to worry, brother. I am waiting with bells on."

Rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Simon can't help but wonder if his younger brother does have actual bells on in celebration of his first full day at the school.

They're both due to arrive in under an hour, and for some reason anything he chooses to wear doesn't look half as commanding as it should.

He huffs. He's in charge of a group of boys for all intents and purposes. He should be able to wear a tee shirt and baggy shorts and still look more in charge than any of them. Taking off his current tie -- black with diagonal grey pinstripes -- he looks over his other choices: a solid deep red, and a navy blue one with tiny white dots.

"For God sakes, man," Wendell calls from the other room, "Just put on the bloody red one and be done with it, eh?"

Simon shoots a glare out the door but does as his brother says, looping the red tie around his neck and knotting it.

"You take longer to get ready than Rebecca ever did," he hears next, and his lips immediately dip into a scowl.

He marches straight out to the living room, still straightening his tie, as he glares at his brother and tells him sternly, "Don't you ever mention her name to me again, do you understand?"

Wendell merely shrugs, nonplussed by the alpha male display he's gotten used to. "Why not? I liked Rebecca."

"No, you liked looking at Rebecca," he corrects. "Whenever she'd open her mouth, you would make a face, like she was dragging her nails against a chalkboard."

"What face?" Wendell scrunches his nose.

Simon's brows flick upward. "That one." It's then that he gets a good look at his brother's ensemble. And he throws his hands up in the air. "You're not even close to being ready, Wendell, are you fooling?"

"What?" Another shrug, and he glances down at his tattered blue bathrobe, tied over a grey tee shirt and striped pajama pants. "It will take me less than ten minutes to get ready. I figured while you were in the bathroom fussing with your curling iron and make-up," this earns him a sharp glare from Simon, which is precisely what he'd been shooting for, "I could enjoy a nice, leisurely breakfast."

"Of Count Chocula."

Wendell tilts his head. "Not all of us have such refined taste, dear brother. Now go." He gives him a pat on the behind, earning him another glare, and waves him off toward the bathroom. "Go finish with your mousse and perfume. When you're ready, then I'll change."

Simon rolls his eyes and stalks off for the bathroom, muttering loud enough for his brother to hear, "Sloppy little twit."

Wendell grins and returns, "Prissy old bitch."

**

Sara sighs, blowing air through pursed lips as she finishes up some leftover paperwork, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. Hearing a series of familiar voices, she glances up, smiling first at her best friend followed by her husband Stephen, then Danny as they all step into her office.

"Sara, will you please explain to my husband that our daughter needs dance lessons?"

Sara furrows her brows. "Isn't she only nine months old?"

Stephen turns to his wife with a grin. "See?"

Amy whacks him. "I meant in another year or two!"

"Oh! Well... explain yourself, woman," he chuckles. "I said no because I had no clue how we were going to keep a nine-month-old upright long enough to learn how to dance. Woulda been a waste of money."

Amy rolls her eyes, grinning at Sara. "Nevermind, then."

Sara laughs. "I could counsel you two on your communication if need-be."

"Won't be necessary. Come on." She shoves Stephen out the door as he offers one last grin to Sara.

Danny watches them go before turning to her with a grin. "They kinda wear me out sometimes."

"Yeah, me too." She watches as he fiddles with his black necktie, looping it around his neck. "So your first full day with that new boss-guy, huh?"

"Yeah." Making a face, he glances up at her. "Hey what do you think of him?"

Sara shrugs, reminding herself not to be too forthcoming with her opinion of Simon Dunham, and comments neutrally, "He's alright, I suppose. A little off-putting."

"Yeah, he's different. He kept saying that managing us was going to be like overseeing an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue shoot." Upon glancing up and catching Sara's stifled laughter, he glares good-naturedly. "That's right, laugh it up."

"I'm sorry, but... he has a point! I mean..." she shrugs, one hand up before it falls to her desktop once more. "All three of you guys are certainly handsome." Off his grin, she grins back and shakes her head. "Don't let that stroke your ego too much. It's an observation."

Danny sighs and goes back to fiddling with his tie, frowning down at it. "Coulda swore I knew how to do this yesterday."

And Sara rolls her eyes. "For crying out loud. Here." Getting up from her desk, she goes over to him and slaps his hands away from his tie, going to work on it. Quirking an eyebrow but not lifting her eyes from the tie, she asks him wryly, "You sure you forgot how to do this, and it's not just a ploy to get me close to you?"

Danny grins rakishly. "I can neither confirm nor deny that accusation."

Sara chuckles and shakes her head, looping the tie over itself and pulling it through. Her mind immediately flashes to a moment just like this, not long ago:

"Keith, come on! We're gonna be late!" She strode quickly back into the bedroom, tilting her head to one side and then the other as she put her earrings in.

"Just a sec. Can't get this stupid tie." Keith frowned at his reflection in the mirror, jaw clenched with frustration.

Sighing, Sara went over to him, slipping between him and the dresser, blocking his view of the mirror. "You're hopeless," she told him, helping him to straighten his tie.

He grinned, his hands falling to her hips, blue eyes devouring her. "That's why I keep you around."

"Hmmm. Y'know it was
your idea to make the reservation for four-thirty. If you didn't think you'd be ready in time--"

"C'mon, Sair," he teased, tugging her close and slipping his hands around to the small of her back. "This is
our engagement party. Our parents are going to be there early to set up; all we have to do is show up whenever. We're the bride and groom." He touches her ring, the very same one he'd placed on her finger less than a month prior, before lifting her hand to kiss it.

Sara glanced up to grin at him, amazed at how every time he smiled at her, butterflies went wild in her stomach. Leaning up to him, she pressed her lips to his and let him walk her toward the bed. "We're gonna be so late," she protested feebly, tilting her neck as he kissed it.

"But it'll be so worth it," he told her, lying her down. Crawling over her, he grinned and brushed the hair out of her eyes. "God I can't wait to be married to you."


Snapping back to reality, Sara jumps back from Danny as if burned, letting go of his tie, which is only partially-straightened. A lump is rising in her throat and she swallows hard, trying to get rid of it.

"Sara?"

She twists her engagement ring on her finger and throws a glance over her shoulder at the picture frame sitting on her desk; at the pair of blue eyes staring back at her.

"Sair?"

Closing her eyes against the shortening of her first name, she shakes her head. "Uhh, y'know what, Danny? I just remembered, I have uh... I have to be in first period career science for on-the-spot job counseling for the sophomores."

"Oh." His brow is still furrowed as he watches her fidget nervously. "Okay. Well, um... are we still on for lunch?"

"Sure. Yeah, definitely," she nods, a bit too emphatically, and keeps her gaze from his while she shuffles around some of the papers on her desk. "I'll see if Amy and Stephen want to go, too."

"Alright. So, I'll see ya later."

"Yep!"

Danny pauses in the doorway, still watching her closely. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine," she insists, grabbing a few career books and folders off her shelf. "I just totally forgot about career science this morning. Sorry, I gotta run."

With that, she brushes past him and just leaves him standing in the doorway of her office, staring curiously after her.

**

Simon and Wendell jump back in surprise, nearly bowled over by the petite guidance counselor as she rushes past, offering only a cursory, "Sorry!" over her shoulder.

While Simon glares, Wendell smirks after her. "Peculiar little thing, isn't she? Pretty too."

"She's a nightmare," Simon corrects him on a sigh, brushing past and heading into the administrative office.

Leland is there to greet him immediately, his smile bright as if they're old school chums that haven't seen each other in years. "Simon! Welcome back! I was hoping we hadn't scared you away yesterday."

Simon twitches a small smile, biting back the truth on the tip of his tongue. He nods politely. "Leland, nice to see you again." He nods then at the administrative assistant. "Amy."

"Good morning, Simon. Wendell, good morning!" she smiles brightly. "No cereal this time?"

"Brought it for lunch!" Wendell happily holds up the grocery-sized paper bag that he'd brought for lunch. "Along with a sandwich, a box of cookies, and some crisps."

"A big eater, huh?" Leland chuckles and shakes his head as if Wendell is a riot. Simon merely rolls his eyes. Leland, meanwhile, gestures toward his office. "Well come on in, Wendell. Miss Parker dropped off a couple of forms this morning that are missing your signature. Once we take care of those, you two can get to work."

"Capital idea!" With a wide, close-lipped smile, Wendell tosses his bag lunch at his brother and follows the principal into his office.

Amy chuckles, shaking her head at his exit, and glances briefly into the office before turning her attention to Simon. "Can I ask you something?"

"Certainly." He sets his brother's lunch aside on the tweed-upholstered chairs.

"Is he..." Another glance into the office, then she drops her voice. "Is he alright? Y'know, I mean mentally? I hope that's not too personal a question."

"Oh!" Simon can't help but chuckle at that, slipping one hand into his pocket and shaking his head. "No, no, he's fine. Well... I think, anyway." When she grins, he shrugs. "The way to approach Wendell is really the same way one would approach a child."

"How so?" she chuckles.

"Well..." He takes a breath and sighs it out, collecting his thoughts. "He loves breakfast cereal."

"So I noticed."

Simon grins. "He, uh... he has a vast collection of comic books. He enjoys the Power Rangers, and I believe he may actually own a pair of those-those... 'feety' pajamas, I believe they're called."

"So he has a young soul."

"Infantile is more like it, yes." He smiles.

"Well, that's very nice of you to look out for him. You're a good big brother."

"That's... what I keep telling myself, Amy," he sighs, eyes flitting to Leland's door as it opens once more.

Wendell raises his eyebrows at him, holding out his hands. "Lunch, Simon."

Begrudgingly, Simon picks up the large paper bag and hands it over, watching as Wendell stuffs it under his arm.

"Ready?"

"Yes! Let's go." With that, Wendell marches off with his nose in the air, leaving Leland chuckling after him.

And Simon exchanges one last look with Amy before disappearing around the corner.

**

When they arrive at the security office, Danny and Stephen are already seated at their desks, tossing Danny's rubber-band ball across the aisle to each other back and forth. As soon as they spot Simon, they're on their feet and muttering apologies.

He holds up a hand to stop them. "Easy, gents. This isn't boot camp. You don't need to stand at attention or give a salute any time I walk through the door."

Wendell rushes over to stand beside them, board-straight, and salutes with a jolly smile. "I probably will, though, just to get extra points for effort."

Simon rolls his eyes. "Yes. Well. Very good."

Stephen frowns over at Wendell. "Is that a piece of Count Chocula on your tie?"

"Oh!" He chuckles, holding up his tie. "So it is! Let me just get that." He turns away, twisting at the waist as he leans down and nibbles at the piece of cereal stuck to his tie.

Simon sighs slowly. "Oh for God sakes." To Danny and Stephen, he nods. "You two, please head to the south end of the school. The first day of sexual education classes should be letting out, and there's no telling what kinds of pranks those little monsters will pull with their complimentary condoms. And--" Then he frowns, as if just realizing there's a missing member of the team. "Where's Andrew?"

"He was breaking up a domestic disturbance."

Simon's raised eyebrows tell all, and Stephen smiles, clarifying, "Varsity quarterback got into a screaming match with the head cheerleader. Rumor has it, they used to date."

Simon sighs. "How... stereotypical. Go on."

"Andrew went to smooth things out."

"Ah. Yes. Well." He nods. "That's, that's good. Lord knows we can't have any strife between the jerks and the snotty girls, now can we?"

"What about me, Boss?" Wendell plops down in his chair and spins around to put his feet up on his desk, grinning widely at his brother.

"You, Wendie, will oversee the security monitors." He taps one of the small screens. "If you see any suspicious activity, page one of us and we will handle it. Do not, under any circumstances, leave the security office."

"Right," he nods. "I won't leave the security office unless I need to."

"No!" Simon spins around again. "Don't ever leave the security office."

"Right. Unless you ask me to."

"Well I don't see any reason why I would ask you to."

"Well you may not see a reason right now, dear brother, but what if you become injured in some-some... hallway stampede? You can't reach your walkie to call for backup or an ambulance, and it is up to me to rush to your side."

Simon closes his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose. "Just... don't leave this office unless there's a fire. Got it? We'll handle any suspicious activity."

"You got it!" Wendell salutes again, and Simon shakes his head, muttering to himself as he leaves.

Stephen and Danny watch him go before turning back to Wendell. Danny frowns. "You let him do that?"

"What?"

"Call you 'Wendie.'"

He shrugs. "He's been doing it since we were kids. Honestly, I barely notice it anymore."

"Well yeah, but... at work?"

"At work, he's my boss. He could call me a piss-ugly little dandy and I'd still have to respect him."

"Noooo...." Stephen raises his eyebrows. "You'd have to report him."

"To whom?"

"Miss Parker, the guidance counselor, typically handles things when an employee files a complaint against another employee," Danny shrugs, hands in the pockets of his pressed dress pants.

Stephen nudges him. "Come on, we gotta go," he tells him, glancing at his watch. "The bell's gonna ring in like two minutes."

Wendell watches them leave, feet still up on his desk as he narrows his eyes contemplatively to himself. "Hmmm. Perhaps I should lodge a complaint and find out what's so nightmarish about this Miss Parker."

**

"Because I saw you making out with her under the bleachers, Jake! Why do you think?!"

"Maybe because you're still jealous I found someone hotter than you! Didn't think it was possible, huh? Christ, Bree, get over yourself!"

"Alright, alright, hey. Hey." Andrew Riley steps between the bickering seniors, hands up in a calming gesture. "They can hear you guys fighting down on first floor. Lower your voices."

Face scrunched in anger, the senior cheerleader lashes out, pointing with her pom-pom, "He started it!"

As the shouting kicks up again, Andrew shakes his head, pressing one hand to the quarterback's chest, keeping him from lashing out, while his other hand rests on the cheerleader's shoulder, holding her at bay. "Alright, y'know what? Doesn't matter who started it -- it ends now." Turning to the quarterback, he jerks his chin, gesturing down the hall. "Jake, I think Madame Rousseau's expecting you in French class."

The senior boy shakes his head. "Yeah, fine." Gesturing to Andrew then, he addresses the cheerleader. "Why don't you hook up with this guy, get back some semblance of a life instead of hanging on me all the time." And with that, he walks off.

Brown eyes flashing, the cheerleader lashes out again, springing forward so fiercely Andrew has to step in front of her to block the attack.

"MAYBE I WILL!" she screeches after him. "Maybe I will! He'll sure treat me a hell of a lot better than you ever did! I guess that night in the back of your dad's truck meant nothing to you, huh?!"

"Bree!" He presses his hands into her waist, pushing her away before spinning her around, taking her elbow to walk her in the opposite direction of the quarterback. "Come on." Shaking his head, he slowly lets go of her elbow. "What the hell was that about?"

"Sorry. He just... he said something and it kinda got me going, and... I guess I wasn't really thinking. Kinda forgot we were even at school." Cringing slightly, she asks, "Was it really that bad?"

"Well," Andrew tilts his head, "I wasn't exactly lying when I said they could hear you guys all the way on first floor."

"Oops."

"Yeah. Just... try not to let him get to you, okay? I know it's probably tough going through a break-up when you see each other every day, but maybe if you just ignore him for awhile things will get better."

"Yeah, maybe." Looping her arm through his, she smiles sweetly. "Thanks, Andrew."

"No problem, that's what I'm here for. Now where are you headed?"

"That way," she gestures with her pom-pom down the hall, still hanging on his arm as he walks her to class.

**

Simon frowns to himself as he watches Andrew, walking arm-in-arm down the hallway with one of the senior cheerleaders. Shaking his head then, he begins to stride quickly down the hall, intent on speaking with Leland about transferring his brother to a different department.

He cries out in surprise when he collides with someone else, books and folders flying everywhere. "Good God!"

When he stoops to pick up the items, so does the other person, and a wry alto greets him. "Nice job."

He glances up into the warm brown eyes of the one person he was hoping he wouldn't have to see today. "Oh, it's you. Hello, Miss Parker."

A smirk plucks up one corner of Sara's lips. "Don't sound too enthused to see me or anything."

"Here." He unceremoniously dumps a haphazard pile of papers, folders and books into her arms, not making any effort to make them presentable. "Terribly sorry. Watch where you're going next time."

An open-mouthed laugh of surprise bursts past her lips. "Where I'm going? Who walks on the left side of the hallway anyway?"

"Well..." He tugs at his suit. "I am English, you know. We drive on the opposite side, and-"

"Yeah, yeah. Well look, the least you can do is help me carry some of this junk. Or at least help me straighten it up before leaving me to my balancing act."

He sighs, watching her struggle with what must surely be a rather heavy pile of things, before he reaches out and takes almost all of the pile. "Here."

Simon looks to her expectantly and she nods in the direction she'd been headed. He turns, and they walk side-by-side down the halls. "So where were you going in such a rush anyway?" she asks.

"Not that it's any of your business," he starts, ignoring her over-exaggerated eye-rolling, "but I was off to the administrative office to see about getting a transfer for one of my employees."

She frowns at this. "One of your guards not working out? I could talk to him. Is it Danny? Look, I know he comes on a little strong, but he really is a great, very motivated, guy and-"

"Will you stop your blithering, it's not Danny. It's my brother."

At this, Sara's brows inch upward. "Your brother?"

"Our charming commander-in-chief hired him the same day he hired me, when Wendell stopped by looking for me."

"Oh right, Wendell - I saw his paperwork this morning and it didn't even occur to me." Throwing up a hand in a pseudo-shrug, she told him, "Well look, I could talk to Leland for you if you'd like. I mean, in a way that's nepotism. Even though it's Leland who hired him, any positive action taken against Wendell or any reward of any kind given by you could be seen as favoritism. You could land yourself in hot water."

"Precisely what I'd been thinking." Under his breath, he added, "Though I can't think of any circumstance in which I would ever reward Wendell's behavior."

"I'll talk to him," she promises again, and for a moment when he cocks his head and looks at her, he considers the idea that she might not be so bad.

But then she has to go and ruin it. "Although, seeing you all pissy and irritated every day could be kinda fun."

He glares. "I could very well just drop this stack of papers and books right here in the middle of the hallway and leave you here to clean up."

"You won't."

"Now just how to do you know?"

"Well that English upbringing? Doesn't really allow for a lot of rudeness. Besides..." she grins teasingly as she pushes open her office door. "I have a way with people."

"Not with me," he insists, frown still set on his face as he hovers in her doorway.

Sara raises her brows, taking the challenge. "Oh yeah? Then how else could I have gotten you -- a guy who, for all intents and purposes, can't stand me -- to carry my things all the way to my office when you were going in the other direction? Hmm?" She watches with a repressed sort of glee as Simon's eyes dart side-to-side, considering this, until finally his expression settles into a scowl.

"Blast."

Sara chuckles and walks over to him, taking the books and folders from him. "Thank you, Simon," she teases sing-song. "Bye now." And she waves to him, triumphant smile still on her face, as she closes the glass door of her office just inches in front of his face.

He mutters something indecipherable from the other side of the door, hands clenching into fists at his side, before he turns on his heel and stomps off. Sara just giggles to herself, having thoroughly enjoyed this ease of flustering him, and sets about straightening her things.

**

"Why do they pass out free condoms?" Danny grimaces as he bends to pick up a condom that is currently sticking to the tile floor.

Stephen shrugs, keeping his eyes on the rowdy students as he stands against the wall. "No foresight?"

"Yeah, no kidding." Still grimacing, Danny flexes his fingers, shaking his hand over the garbage can. The condom sticks, and he tries grabbing it with his other hand, though it then sticks to his other hand. Finally, he gives up and wipes his hand on the inner lid, reaching into his pocket for a kleenex afterward. "Twerps."

"I keep tellin' ya -- you hate it here so much, then get out and start working toward the CIA or the FBI, or... wherever-the-hell you wanted to go."

Danny shoots him a look. "Secret Service. And believe it or not, I've still got a lotta hoops I gotta jump through to get there. Besides," he glances up, spotting Sara heading down the hall. His eyes soften at the sight of her as he adds, "I don't hate it here all the time."

Stephen leans around his friend, following his gaze to where it's settled on the guidance counselor, and he shakes his head. "Off-limits."

"Not anymore."

"Way to sound callous."

Danny sighs. "I didn't mean it that way. I just mean..." He shrugs, hands in his pockets as he leans against the wall beside his friend, casting his gaze to the floor. "I don't know what I mean."

"Look, you can't keep doing this to yourself. She's made it pretty clear that what happened between you guys was just a fluke."

"She can say it all she wants. I know better. I know what that kiss felt like, and that was no fluke."

"She was upset," Stephen attempted to reason with him, knowing of his feelings for the guidance counselor but also knowing the other side of things -- namely Sara's lack of feelings for him -- having heard through his wife.

"Maybe, but... that doesn't mean we would've kissed anyway. I mean," he glances up at Stephen. "Would you just haul off and kiss me if you were upset?"

"No, but that's just because you're not my type," he grins. "You've got too much muscle."

Danny laughs.

"Seriously, though, man. I think, maybe you need to just back off for a little bit. I mean, she's obviously still upset over what happened with her and Keith, and... you need to respect that. If she feels something for you, she'll come to you when she's ready."

"Should I cancel on her for today?"

"Cancel what?"

"We were gonna grab some lunch."

"Ah." Shaking his head, Stephen tells him, "Nah, don't cancel on her. You don't have to be an ass about it and quit talking to her, I mean you can still be her friend. But just, keep a distance." Nudging him a bit, he drops his voice and leans over just slightly. "Bottom line? If you care about her as much as you say you do, you'll give her all the time that she needs."

Danny nods slowly, considering this. "Yeah. You're always right."

"Y'think so?"

"Yeah, I do."

"Great. Then tell Amy for me. She never believes me when I say that."

Danny just smirks and rolls his eyes, moving to pick up another condom a passing student sticks to the wall. "I gotta go." Raising his brows, he sighs out briefly, "Lunchtime."

Stephen nods. "Just remember what I said."

"I know, I know," he calls, already halfway down the hall on the way to retrieve Sara. "Keep a distance, but be her friend." He turns on his heel and continues on his way toward her office.

**

Sara glances up as a knock sounds on the door to her office, a haphazard-looking guard stepping inside. He raises his eyebrows at her, blue eyes wide. "Are you Miss Parker?"

She smiles politely. "Yes, I am. Come on in. And call me Sara."

"Thank you, Sara. I'm, ehm... one of the security guards." He reaches his hand out for a shake, and she takes it.

"Wendell, right?"

He cocks his head slightly, a goofy smile playing about his lips. "My reputation precedes me. Tell me, then - what are the eligible spinster teachers saying about me at the water cooler?" He sits down, waggling his eyebrows at her. "Has the term 'silver fox' come up at any point?"

Sara hides her smirk in her coffee cup as she takes a sip, then tells him, "Not yet, but uh... I'll keep my ears open."

He narrows his eyes, pointing at her. "You let me know."

"Sure will." After they each assess each other silently for a moment, Sara tilts her head and smiles. "So what can I do for you, Wendell?"

Slapping the desk eagerly, he tells her, "I, dear Sara, am here to lodge a grievance."

"So you've got a complaint against another employee?" She raises her eyebrows, reaching into one of her desk drawers for a form. Grabbing a pen, she nods and gestures to him. "Alright, well let's hear it."

"I am sick and tired of my big brother bossing me around."

"Ah." Smiling, Sara caps her pen and sets it atop the form. "So this is about Simon."

"Apparently my brother's reputation precedes him as well."

"We've, um..." Chuckling lightly, she says, "Let's just say we've crossed paths before."

"Ah. So then you see what a rigid flibbertigibbet he is."

Chuckling once more, she shakes her head. "I don't think I'd say that, but he is... unique." She sighs. "Listen, Wendell, I know that Leland has put you and Simon in somewhat of an awkward position, and for that, I feel I should apologize. He never should've assigned you two to the same department." Grabbing her pen once more, she scrawls some information onto the complaint form. "I will listen to any complaints you may have, but if I could make a suggestion?"

Wendell nods, gesturing her with an upturned palm. "By all means."

"Maybe consider transferring departments. It might make your work environment a little easier on you."

"My current work environment is fairly easy on me already, Sara." He leans back in his chair, clasping his hands behind his head, elbows-out.

She smiles. "But you just said--"

"I just wanted to complain that my brother's being a silly knit-wit. And, he's taken to calling me Wendie on the job."

"Well, a manager calling a male subordinate by a girl's name is certainly an area of concern, so--"

"Oh, no. He's called me 'Wendie' since we were kids."

She furrows her brows, somewhat confused by the direction the conversation has taken. "Okay..."

"I just think, a guard of my stature, should have a better nickname on the job. Something like... 'Butch.' Or perhaps 'T-Bone.'"

Sara can't help the smirk, though she tries to hide it momentarily. "Your, um... your name doesn't begin with 'T.'"

"Well there's no 'W' bone, silly girl." He grins goofily, and she chuckles again.

"Alright, well... maybe I'll have a little chat with Simon about not using nicknames with you during work hours."

"Unless it's--"

"Butch or T-Bone, right, I got that." She nods.

Wendell nods back, standing to shake her hand. "Yes. Well. Thank you very much, Miss Parker. Sara, I mean. I shall keep in touch."

"You do that. Let me know if you and Simon encounter any more problems."

"I certainly will." Once he reaches the door, he turns to face her. "You know, Simon was wrong about you." Grinning, he tells her, "You're not nightmarish at all."

Sara's brows fly up, but before she can respond, Wendell gives her a wave and is out the door. Not long after, Danny pokes his head inside, knocking on the window beside the door. "Hey. Busy?"

"Uh... not anymore, no. What's up?"

"It's lunchtime."

"Oh! Right. Sorry, I was... distracted." Getting up, she grabs her purse. "Where did you wanna go?"

"Wherever you want," he tells her, and watches as she grabs her jacket. "Hey, Sair?"

Repressing the pang she feels at once again hearing that nickname, she looks up at him. "Yeah?"

"I just want you to know, that... just because we're hanging out, still doing stuff?" He shakes his head. "Doesn't mean I'm expecting anything to come of it."

"Oh." She blinks a moment, slightly caught off-guard by the proclamation. "Okay..."

"I just... don't want you to think that I'm taking you to lunch and bringing you flowers and stuff just so that--"

She raises a brow and finishes, "So that I'll go into fits of arousal and throw myself at you?"

He chuckles. "Something like that, yeah."

Smiling, she tilts her head. "I appreciate that, Danny, thank you." Brushing past him, she slides her hand down his arm. "And look, I know how you feel, and... I really like you. I just--"

"Need time, I know." He smiles. "Take all the time you need."

"Great." She slings her purse over her shoulder. "Ready?"

He nods, gesturing out the door and telling her, "Lead the way," as his hand rests feather-lightly on her back, guiding her out.

**

The rest of the day passes with few crises -- more condoms getting stuck to inappropriate surfaces as more and more students attend their sexual education classes, but other than that, activity is normal.

Andrew has just finished making his rounds after the after-school activities have let out, checking the class rooms and auditorium, as well as the cafeteria.

"Andrew. Andrew!"

Andrew turns, spotting Brianna Clark rushing down the hall toward him. "Hey, Bree. Shouldn't you be heading home?" He checks his watch. "It's almost time for supper, most places."

"Cheerleading practice ran late," she explains. "Besides, 'supper' at my house, or for my parents anyway, is pretty much martinis and Valium, followed by passing out for five hours in front of the TV."

He furrows his brows at that comment, but before he can respond, she's already moved on. "Listen, I just wanted to say thank you, again, for earlier. Breaking up that fight."

He nods. "Yeah, well. It's my job."

"I know, but walking me to class wasn't." She smiles, touching his arm. "You're a really great guy."

"Thanks." He smiles, a little uneasily when she touches his arm, feeling some unusual... something... in the air.

"Do you wanna maybe..." She quirks one perfectly-tailored brow. "Do something with me, sometime?"

"Uh..." Briefly dumbstruck by the unusual request -- he's more used to the single teachers at the school approaching him, not the students -- he stammers, "I, uh, I don't think that's such a good idea, Bree."

"Why not?" She shrugs, as if it's not a big deal. "I'm eighteen."

"Because, you're a student and I'm--" Then her comment registers with him. "Eighteen, really?"

Bree grins, all pearly-white teeth and full lips, and that unusual something in the air seems to multiply. "Yep. And, I feel it's worth mentioning that I am very good at keeping secrets." She leans in, staring at him pointedly.

"Uh-huh."

"So..." Bree smiles, and stretches up on tiptoe to kiss his cheek, very near the corner of his mouth, as she slips something into the breast pocket of his pressed white shirt. "Just think about it. And, uh," she flicks his shirt pocket, grin turning flirtatious, "Give me a call."

"Okay." He's still a little too surprised by the turn of events to respond much more coherently, and he turns to watch her walk down the empty stretch of hallway, giving him a little grin over her shoulder before disappearing around the corner.

And he turns back around, missing the sight of Simon catching them from the other end of the hallway.

**

Simon returns to the office with a frown firmly in place, spotting Stephen and Danny still at their desks, doing paperwork. "Let's call it a night, gents," he sighs, and Stephen is the first to stand up.

"Sounds good to me. Amy'll send a search party if I stay past seven."

Danny smiles. "Tell her 'hey,' and give the munchkin a kiss from Uncle Dan."

"Will do. You leavin' too?"

"I wanna make one more sweep around the school before I do. You go on ahead." Once Stephen's gone, he glances to Simon, raising his eyebrows. "That alright with you?"

"Yes, that's perfectly fine. I'm not the one paying your overtime after all."

Danny nods, clapping him on the shoulder once as he passes. Simon turns over his shoulder to watch him go, then heads for the phone at his desk as soon as he's alone. He dials a familiar number and waits for the line to pick up. "Hullo. It's Simon." Pausing to listen to the voice on the other end, he nods. "Yes. I-I'm calling with somewhat of a, um... a job opportunity. You did such fine investigative work for my agency, and I'd like you to do a little more. Um... how do you feel about high schools?"

Sensing a presence in the doorway, he glances up, spotting Sara leaning against the door frame, arms folded across her chest. He nods to the voice on the other end of the line. "Yes. Very good. I-I'll call you in the morning with the details. Thank you." He then hangs up, giving the guidance counselor his attention. "Yes?"

"You busy?"

"Not at the moment, no."

"Great." The smile she flicks at him is insincere, at best, and then she gestures over her shoulder. "Follow me."

He follows her to her office, where she gestures him to go in ahead of her, and she closes the door behind them before heading for her desk. "Have a seat," she tells him, and he furrows his brows as he watches her.

"What's this all about?"

"Well as you know, aside from being the school's guidance counselor, I also sort of act as the HR rep between employees. And, when an employee lodges a complaint against another employee, it's my job to follow up on it."

"Alright." His forehead is still wrinkled in confusion, not understanding where this conversation could be headed.

"I received a complaint today from one of your guards, Wendell--"

"So in other words, my brother," he rolls his eyes.

"Yes. He has some concerns about you calling him by a childhood nickname during work hours."

"Oh, for God sakes." Shaking his head, he leans forward, one arm on her desk. "He's making a fuss just because he's got nothing else to do, don't you see?"

Sara shakes her head. "No. I don't."

He huffs. "Of course you don't. Look, this is how Wendell behaves. He's..." His eyes search the desk as if searching for the right word, before he meets her eyes again. "He's like a high-functioning toddler. He means well most times, but he has no idea how to express himself in a mature manner."

"Look, either way, you can't call him 'Wendie' during work hours. Okay?"

"Fine." He throws his hands up briefly and leans back, letting them fall to his lap. "Are we through?" He stands up.

Sara smirks as she watches him turn to leave, before piping up, "Not quite."

He stops at the door, huffing, and spins around. "Then what?"

"While we're somewhat on the topic of calling names?" She raises her eyebrows. "Telling your brother that I'm a 'nightmare?' Is extremely unprofessional."

Simon sighs, closing his eyes, dipping his head, and pinching the bridge of his nose. "Of course he told you about that." Glancing up, he meets her expectant eyes once more and shakes his head. "Look, I will apologize for that, but as far as Wendell and I go--"

"You shouldn't be working together."

"Right. Yes. We agree on something, finally."

She smiles. "But you still have to apologize to him. Bad idea or no, you are his manager, and you need to treat him with the same respect as your other subordinates."

"Fine. Fine. Anything else?"

"Yeah." She smiles and stands up, folding her arms. "I'm still waiting for my apology."

"What?"

She gestures to him. "You said you'd apologize for what you said about me, but then you didn't. So. Apologize."

He grits his teeth, ire spiking up again. "You know, I can't even begin to imagine what has happened to you in your life that has made you so difficult and argumentative."

Her jaw drops indignantly. "I'm argumentative?!" her voice raises. "Oh, that's rich."

"Whatever your issue is, I suggest you move along from it and quickly, because you're becoming rather insufferable."

That seems to sting Sara, who looks down at her desktop quickly while Simon turns to leave. Just before he opens the door, her voice calls out to him:

"My fiancé was killed."

Simon stops mid-step, hand still outstretched for the door handle. Pausing, he slips one hand into the pocket of his pants, turning slowly on his heel to face her. "What?"

Sara lifts her gaze to his, repeating, "My fiancé." She reaches for the photo on her desk, still angled outward, and tilts it a little further toward him. "His name was Keith. He, uh... he died in a car wreck, four weeks before we were supposed to get married. That's why I took that two-month sabbatical. That's why I'm, in your words, 'so difficult and argumentative.'" Shaking her head, she gestures with her chin toward the framed photo. "That's not something I can just get over in an instant, y'know." Fixing him with a look, she adds, "No matter how much it annoys you."

Simon stands there for a moment, watching as she averts her gaze, her full lips set in a solemn line. "I'm... I'm sorry," he tells her softly. "I didn't know."

"Yeah, well. Now you do," she snips, taking a seat at her desk and looking away. "So let's move on."

Simon watches her for another moment, watching as she twists her engagement ring on her finger and nervously tucks her hair behind one ear. He can't help but make his way over to her once more, taking a seat across from her desk. She flicks her eyes up to him without moving her head much, one eyebrow arching expectantly.

He chooses his words carefully, speaking slowly and softly. "My wife left me, when I was very young."

Her brows lift at this, but she says nothing, letting him talk.

"W-We married straight out of college in our early twenties, and before we reached our second anniversary, she'd left me for another man. A man that, apparently, she had been seeing since shortly before our first anniversary. So I suppose that's part of the reason why I'm... occasionally unpleasant to be around."

He's surprised to see a smirk toying with her lips as she quips, "Occasionally?"

The glare he shoots her is soft, and more playful rather than annoyed. "Very funny."

This makes her smile triumphantly, and he can't help but notice how lovely it is. He leans forward in his seat slightly, pressing on. "What I mean to say is, I'm aware it's nothing like what you've been through, but... no matter how you lose someone, particularly someone you intended to spend your life with, it... it leaves a permanent mark. It affects the rest of your life."

The smirk is still there when he meets her eyes again, and she says, "So you're saying that you and I will always be bitching at each other?"

He chuckles softly. "I-I wouldn't say that, no. But you understand what I'm trying to say, yes?"

She nods, her smile warming. "Yes. Thank you, Simon."

"You're welcome. And... just for the record, I don't think you're truly a nightmare. And I'm sorry for saying so."

"Thank you."

He inclines his head.

"And for what it's worth?" She raises an eyebrow, grinning open-mouthed just slightly, tongue pressed to the roof of her mouth before she teases, "I don't think you're a rigid flibbertigibbet."

His eyes twitch into a narrow briefly before he questions, "Wendell?" Off her nod, he nods back. "Ah. Well. On that note, if you'll excuse me, I believe I have some," he sighs, "issues to work out with my brother."

She chuckles. "Good luck with that."

"Oh thank you, it's much needed." He pauses in the doorway, offering her a friendly smile. "Goodnight, Sara."

Her smile in return is just as warm as she replies, "Goodnight, Simon."

She watches then as he leaves, before she glances down at her engagement ring. She frowns down at it thoughtfully, pondering what Simon had said to her, as well as conversations she and Danny have exchanged since her return. And just before she gathers her things, she gently pulls the ring off her finger and locks it in the top drawer of her desk.

Then, she shuts off the lights in her office and heads out, determination in her step.

**

Danny shuts off the lights in the choir room after making his final sweep, then locks the doors, testing them afterward. He heads down the hallway, back to the main atrium in the school, hearing the click of high heels on the tile. When he turns a corner, it's to see Sara striding down the hall. "Hey," he smiles, watching as she approaches him. "It's late. What are you still doing here? Are you--"

Her lips cut him off as she kisses him suddenly, hands framing his face. He stands there frozen in shock for a moment, but he can't help but close his eyes and kiss her back, wrapping his arms around her waist while hers slide around his neck. After exchanging a few firm, almost passionate kisses, he breaks away suddenly, out of breath. "Wait, wait a minute, wait."

"What?" Her eyes are clouded, and are focused on his lips. He waits until he has her attention, then searches her eyes.

"This isn't, um..." He furrows his brows. "One of those 'fits of arousal,' right?"

She shakes her head, "No," and leans in again.

Just before their lips touch, he stops her, hands gently gripping her upper arms. "Sara." He meets her eyes again when she pulls back. "What's goin' on here?"

"I've been doing a lot of thinking recently. About Keith, and me, and... and you."

He raises his eyebrows, still searching her eyes. "And?"

"And I think..." She fixes him with a meaningful look. "I think you should take me home."

Narrowing his eyes, he studies her, not wanting to take advantage. "Are you sure?"

She nods, and kisses him again. Danny wraps his arms around her, kissing her back and sweeping a hand through her hair as the timed lights in the atrium turn off for the night.



FIN

STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT 'EPISODE': "Rumors"

Creator's Notes: As always, I'd love to get your thoughts on this one as well -- what you're shipping, if anything, what you like about the characters, suggestions you may have for interactions you'd like to see, etc. Also, I goofed on the last one -- 'Rumors' was supposed to be the third episode in line, not the second. It's all fixed now :)

And, if you like what you've "seen" so far, don't forget to watch the community for updates!
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csiAngel: Torri smile concsiangel on May 15th, 2010 02:22 pm (UTC)
I am enjoying this! I like knowing who is playing the characters so I can picture them :) You've developed a good little bunch of characters, and a nice believable scenario for them. I am torn between shipping Simon/Sara and Danny/Sara - like, I squeed a little bit at the end here, but also earlier, when Simon and Sara are talking, I felt the sparks. It's excellent writing to get me to do that! :)

I have no suggestions on what I'd like to see. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have in mind :)

I'm intrigued by the title of the next episode. I'll wait patiently for it.
a.: giles/jenny; always by your sideregalish on May 15th, 2010 11:10 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much, Jac! Sorry it took so darn long to get this second part finished, but I'm glad you're still enjoying it. :D

I am torn between shipping Simon/Sara and Danny/Sara - like, I squeed a little bit at the end here, but also earlier, when Simon and Sara are talking, I felt the sparks. Heee, yay, I'm glad to hear it! As I wrote the first episode, I honestly couldn't decide which one I liked more as the OTP, so now I'm more setting out to make both of them the "main" ships for this. :)

I'm hoping to have the third episode ready to go soon!

Sometimes you have to believe: Tony Hee!dreamscaperuins on May 15th, 2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
You're killing me already - second episode in. I loved the little moment Simon and Sara had together, but then I nearly died at the end there with Danny and Sara. I can't choose between the two of them. The more I think about it, the more I agree that David and Robia are too cute for each other.

I already can't wait for the next episode just based on the ending of this, and the title of the next.

Side note - I STILL love Andrew and his interactions with the kids there. Does that make me a perv of some sort? It just seems like a perfect character for Dempsey to play.
a.: anthony/robia; manipulatedregalish on May 15th, 2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
Hehe, yay! ...Well, not 'yay' that I'm killing you, lol. I'm just happy you're enjoying this little set-up. :D

The more I think about it, the more I agree that David and Robia are too cute for each other. RIGHT? I was totally surprised when I got more into writing this and kept finding more and more cuteness between them. See now why I wanted to do more with Jenny/Angel at twosomeofcute? ;)

I'm super excited for you to see the third ep! I'm already more than halfway done with it, so if this creative burst continues, it should be ready soon.

Does that make me a perv of some sort? It just seems like a perfect character for Dempsey to play. LOL not at all. I've always wanted to see Dempsey play a semi-smarmy playboy. He normally plays such a 'Disney prince' type that it's fun to turn it around a bit. :D

Thank you again, so much, for reading this original series! Definitely keeps up my inspiration to do more. :)
always_a_boom on July 17th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC)
OMGGGGGGGG THE HOT
OK, wait, I'll start from the beginning :P

I just love the Simon/Wendell interactions, they're brilliant :D I can just see ASH and Hugh snarking at each other like this! I also can't wait to actually meet Rebecca as well, I'm getting all geared up to hate her :P To be honest I loved EVERYTHING with Wendell in this one, he is officially my favourite :D And I loved Amy asking if he was 'all right...mentally' :D

I think I'm starting to like Andrew too, even if he is a complete playboy :P I really want him to be careful about Bree (the little minx), but I don't thing he will. Nice to see Simon's on the lookout :P

Awww, the Keith/Sara stuff is really sad :( I loved her little moments with Simon SO MUCH though, snarky and sweet - shipping them so hard right now :D

But it is allllll about the hotness right there at the end :D THESE TWO, SO FREAKING HOT. I am still definitely going for Simon/Sara in the long run, but GOOD LORD. It's Robia and David, I'm telling you, they are fierce together.

Definitely hooked now, can't wait for the next episode! :D (Lol, you are gonna get sooo sick of my reviews on your stuff :P)
a.regalish on July 25th, 2010 02:38 pm (UTC)
OMG I AM LATE TO THE PARTY WITH THIS ONE. Sorry, LOL.

I just love the Simon/Wendell interactions, they're brilliant :D Heeee, thank you!! I'm totally digging writing these two, because I would KILL to see them in something together; I think it would be bloody fantastic. Drama or comedy, I'm not picky. As for Rebecca, I'd like to bring her in within the first six episodes, and hehe she will be delightfully easy to hate. :D

I loved her little moments with Simon SO MUCH though, snarky and sweet - shipping them so hard right now :D And they are still totally my 'end-game' ship, but GAH I keep getting distracted by David/Robia prettiness. They need to be uglier, seriously.

GOOD LORD. It's Robia and David, I'm telling you, they are fierce together. I KNOW. I kind of couldn't help myself there! Even WRITING this, I kept thinking "Wow, I kind of want them to bang." HAHAHA.

I hope to have the next episode ready to unlock VERY soon! If my Twosome ideas could shut up for a damn minute, of course, lol. That always takes precedence :D