One-shot, set a few days after Strays because I thought Fickler should have had a word with someone besides Coop at the end of the episode. Also because there's no good explanation for why Prophet was the one to find Emma in the house but Mick walked her out after Prophet and Gina were already outside. Bizarre details like that bother me far more than they should.
Jack checked his watch and then let himself into the gym through the side door. It was late, but being the director of the FBI rarely allowed for leaving the office early. Besides, knowing what he did of Cooper and his team, they would still be at work as well.
He wasn't sure if he was doing the right thing in coming here, but he'd definitely done the wrong thing back in that jail last week. In the jail and elsewhere…Jack knew that everyone had darkness within him, but that was as close as he'd ever come to his own, and he hoped that he never saw it again. Cooper had called it an abyss, and he wasn't wrong.
Cooper and Simms had taken the brunt of his frustration with regards to that jailhouse interview, despite that fact that Jack was a profiler as well and knew as well as either of them what did and didn't work with that personality type. And Simms…Jack hadn't really realized what he was asking for until Simms had started talking, but it had come closer to cracking Simms' mask than anything Jack had seen thus far.
Despite that, Jack couldn't say he'd apologize for giving the order he had, though. Part of him might have known that it wouldn't work, but it had given Cooper something to work against the next day, and, well, Emma was Emma. He shook his head. Not an apology, maybe, but it deserved acknowledgement, at least. And in another area an apology was owed because he'd had no business speaking to Marshall about Simms' past. He understood perfectly well why Marshall had asked about the team, Emma was his daughter and he'd wanted—needed—to know that the best people were looking for her, but Jack should have said a lot less than he had. Whatever Jack's reservations, and he'd had plenty and hadn't been shy about sharing them, Simms had proven to be a very capable agent and deserved to be treated as such. The fact that Marshall was one of Jack's closest friends wasn't even an excuse because Jack had been there at the end when Ellen had been so sick and was very well aware of Marshall's tendency to redirect his emotions when he was frightened.
Jack didn't know exactly what Marshall had said to Simms, frankly he doubted that Marshall remembered, but he did know that neither he nor Marshall had known that Simms had been the one to find Emma in that house until she'd corrected their assumption that it had been Rawson. And when she'd echoed his reason for not walking her out, that some people might not like that, it hadn't exactly made him feel good.
The gym was deserted except for three figures on one of the far mats, and it only took him a moment to identify LaSalle and Rawson as the two sparring while Simms looked on. Cooper and Griffith were visible through the blinds of the FBI offices, their heads bent together over something on the table between them, and Jack watched for a moment before registering and pushing aside a faint sense of annoyance. He'd fully expected this team to be yet another stop in Griffith's long and varied career—frankly he'd been more than a little surprised that Cooper had picked her in the first place given her history—but so far that didn't seem to be happening. In fact, for once she seemed to be settling in and becoming close to her teammates. And just when he'd been hoping to nudge her into a lead position with her own team, too, because for all that she didn't always play well with others no, one could question her competence. He shook his head. He still had plans to revisit that idea later, and it wouldn't hurt to follow up on the shoot too since he was pretty sure that this had been her first and that could very well make a difference in her thoughts going forward, but it wasn't what he'd come here to discuss today.
A thump and a curse and two sets of laughter drew his attention back to the three in the corner where Rawson was now flat on his back with LaSalle kneeling on his chest, and Jack stepped closer.
"Nice throw," Simms was saying, and LaSalle grinned back over her shoulder at him as she pushed herself up off Rawson and offered a hand.
"Yeah, but you're an awful person, mate, teaching people dirty tricks like that," Rawson complained, getting to his feet. "It's bad enough that you can't remember the rules for sparring—least we know you're getting old and senile—you don't need to go passing it on."
"Senile, huh?" Simms asked, crossing his arms and tilting his head. "That's funny, last I looked I could still kick your ass."
Rawson clicked his tongue. "Memory issues, such a sad thing to see."
"Suppose you'd know, especially after Duluth."
Jack wondered what exactly had happened in Duluth as Rawson went red and LaSalle actually laughed out loud, but any hope of getting a hint of an answer was quashed as Rawson sprang forward and he and Simms tumbled to the ground onto the mat behind Simms.
For all that Jack had come to accept Simms as an agent, there were a lot of things that he still had trouble sorting out about him, and scenes like this were one of them. He'd done his fair share of prison interviews and knew that inmates tended to be damn defensive of personal space—and for good reason—but this wasn't the first time he'd seen Rawson tackle Simms, and Simms never seemed to mind. Hell, if the muttered threats he could make out now were anything to go by, the only thing that Rawson was in immediate danger of was being sold to the circus. The wrestling match ended a moment later, though, as Simms caught sight of him and released Rawson, rolling to his feet.
LaSalle turned to see what had distracted him as Rawson got to his feet as well.
"Director," Simms greeted, all traces of laughter gone.
"Agent Simms, Agent Rawson, Agent LaSalle," he greeted in return. He focused on Simms. "Could I speak to you for a moment?"
"Of course." He glanced at the two beside him. "You two better get cleaned up, dinner will be here soon."
LaSalle's eyes stayed on Jack for a minute and then she nodded politely and grabbed a towel and water bottle sitting beside the mat, heading for the locker rooms. Rawson collected his things as well but didn't look like he was actually going to leave at first, but Simms turned again to catch his eye and jerked his head, and after muttering something approaching 'sir' in Jack's direction he collected his things and went as well.
"Sorry, sir," Simms said, his eyes following Rawson.
"It's been a long week," Jack said with a shake of his head. He hadn't needed to see that display earlier to know that Rawson and Simms were good friends, and while he didn't understand it, he wasn't going to make this any more difficult.
Simms nodded slightly. "Is there something that I can do for you?"
"No. I came by because I owe you an apology."
That finally got a reaction as the blank expression that had been on Simms' face since he'd caught sight of Jack slipped into surprised confusion for a second, and then he started to shake his head.
Jack held up a hand to halt his denial. "Let me finish, please. I shouldn't have discussed your history with Marshall. I wasn't thinking when I should have been, but you've more than proved yourself as an agent and deserve to be treated as such. And it would have been perfectly fine if you'd walked Emma out."
Simms glanced away at that and then shrugged slightly. "Just figured it was better if I didn't."
"You figured wrong. There's a reason you have that badge."
That finally got a quiet smile. "Thanks. And…thanks."
"You also knew what I wanted wasn't going to work, back at the jail. You and Cooper both."
"It might have."
Jack raised an eyebrow.
"…if he had a complete personality change," Simms acknowledged.
"It wasn't easy for you, either."
Simms shifted uncomfortably at that and then apparently decided that since it wasn't a question it didn't require a response.
"I can't honestly say I'd have done anything differently given a second opportunity, but…." He could offer that much, at least.
Simms shook his head. "It's family. You do what you have to. And I'm fine. I don't like thinking about then, but it is what it is. Got over that a while back."
Jack nodded, and then, "Do you mind if I ask you a question?"
"Not at all."
Even if it did he wouldn't have said so and Jack knew it, but there was nothing particularly prying in what Jack wanted to know, and he gestured towards the mat. "I caught the tail end of what you three were arguing about. What happened in Duluth?"
Simms' lips twitched. "You ever see any of those dumb comedies where some guy manages to make a date with two twins at the same time? Well, Mick's about the only guy I know who that could actually happen to. And it wouldn't have been so bad, except his little problem with names kind of complicated things."
The entry of a figure in a bright shirt carrying a bag in each hand through the far door distracted them both before Jack could request assurance that there was no sexual harassment suit in the works, but, well, if it hadn't happened yet, it probably wouldn't. "I'm guessing that's your dinner," he said with a nod. "And that's all I wanted to say. You'd better get changed too."
"Thanks." He stepped back and grabbed the last water bottle and towel and then paused for a moment. "It's Thai, and there'll be extra, if…." He shrugged.
"I do need to talk to Cooper," Jack admitted. And maybe Griffith a bit, too.