Title: Please Read & Review
Author: Scribere Est Agere
Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me.
Summary: I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
It was sitting on her desk when she came in Monday morning and she gave it only a passing glance as she tossed her jacket down and headed straight for the coffee. Bobby barely looked up, too engrossed in some sheaf of papers on which he had a death grip. She said hello to a few colleagues and added more sugar to her brew and only when she sat down did she take a closer look at the rather unassuming manila envelope sitting squarely in the middle of her blotter and what was scrawled across its front in Ross's messy, infantile hand:
Please read and review.
"What's this?" She took a sip of coffee. "Yuck. This tastes like crap."
Bobby finally looked up.
He sighed. "Annual performance reviews."
"What are you talking about?" She put down the cup and opened the envelope. She pulled out the single sheet of paper inside and waved it around.
"Eames, we get them every year. A review of our…performance."
"I've never had one before."
"You haven't?" He raised an eyebrow. "Huh. That's odd."
Alex frowned. "Is that yours?" She indicated the wad of papers his hands were clenched around.
"Yes? Was that a yes? That's your performance review?"
He sighed again. "Yes. It's my performance review."
She held up her paper. It fluttered sadly. "I don't get it. Why is yours so much…thicker than mine?"
"I don't know. I get in trouble a lot more than you do. Maybe that's it." He shrugged and looked down again. She watched him alternately chuckle and frown, then, literally, pat himself on the back. He looked up at her. "I wouldn't worry about it. Seriously. Everyone knows I'm the whack job and you're the straight arrow. You're lucky you don't have to read this crap for six hours. Just sign it."
"Oh for—" She examined hers. Name at the top. Good. Date. Uh huh. Position. Detective. All right so far. She scanned down. Job Knowledge (blank). Productivity and Effectiveness (blank). Effectiveness of Relationships (blank). Initiative (blank). Health and Safety (a small hand-drawn happy face). Creativity/Originality (blank). Self Development (blank).
She looked at Bobby. He was reading and murmuring and nodding. He flipped a page. He laughed softly. He was only about halfway through his performance review novel. Alex stood and stomped into Ross's office. She slammed the door. Ross looked up like Oh shit. He smiled and indicated that she should sit down. She did not.
"What the hell is this?" she demanded, slapping the paper down in front of him. "Did you forget to do it or what?"
"Uh…" He picked it up as if he wasn't quite sure what it was. He peered at it. "Uh…nope. I did it. It's all done. Just…sign it and you're good for another year."
He peered at it again. "Well, no see…here's a happy face. Under Health and Safety."
"Why did you draw a happy face under Health and Safety?"
"Because you're always healthy and safe. Well, mostly. You're mostly healthy and safe. There was that kidnapping thing. But it all turned out a-okay."
"What's going on here?" She stood in front of him and crossed her arms. "Bobby…Bobby has a goddamn book out there. It's going to take him all day just to read it.
"I don't know what to say Eames. It's just…" He shrugged.
"It's just what?"
"I just don't know what you … do around here."
"What I do?"
"Well, yes. Your…job exactly."
"I'm a Detective! It says so right there at the top of the page!"
Ross nodded. "Yes, yes. It does, and I'm in complete agreement about that."
"Then what's the problem?" she yelled it, very loudly, and became aware that her voice, for the first time in seven years, carried through the walls of the captain's office. Alex Eames never yelled. She sat down.
"The problem…the problem is that I'm not sure what you do. I mean…you talk on the phone, and you tap on your computer, I've seen you do that. You're a very speedy typist. You have excellent attendance. You…drive. You drive exceedingly well and you've never had a speeding ticket!"
He leaned over and scribbled something down.
"I added a second happy face to Health and Safety."
"This is ridiculous. I'm a damn good Detective and everyone around here knows it. Ask Bobby if you're so clueless."
Ross sighed again.
"I did ask him. That's another one of the problems."
"What did he say?"
"He…said you were the best partner he's ever had."
Alex couldn't help but smile. "See?" She waited. "And?"
"And…that you're a great driver."
Her smile fell a notch. "And?"
"Uh…you have a 'wicked' sense of humour."
She stopped smiling.
"And, you're the best partner he's ever had." Ross snapped his fingers. "I'm adding that to Effectiveness of Relationships."
He wrote it down.
"I can't believe this." She looked like she might cry. Ah shit, thought Ross.
"Well, if I'm wrong, I'm willing to admit it." He leaned back, looked thoughtful. "Okay. Have you, say, ever solved a case…on your own? Ever?"
Alex gritted her teeth. "Yes."
"Good! Good." Ross grabbed his pen and leaned forward. "When?"
"All the time." She twisted her mouth and glanced away. "In my head."
"Ah. I see." Ross rolled his eyes.
"I always know who's done it, but…"
"I don't say anything. Out loud."
"Maybe you should start doing that."
Ross tapped his pen on the desk. "Okay. Let's try a different approach. Maybe some personal information would help. I mean…we know so much about Goren. We know so little about you."
"We don't know your parents' names, or your siblings, or how many you even have! You had a damn kid and we don't even know his name!"
"It's private, all right?"
"It's weird, Eames. Goren and his messy, fucked up life and his quirks and dance moves and I mean, Christ, we even know his shoe size!"
"I'm a six, all right?"
Ross wrote it down.
"All right, all right. I was married. To Joe, right? Right? He died? Remember?"
"Yes, yes. We know all about it now. Sort of." Ross scribbled. "Who caught his killer? In the end?"
"It doesn't matter!" she shouted. Bobby opened the door a crack. Alex glared at him.
"Can I…help at all? Is there anything—
"God Bobby! Go away! Do you always have to be the smartest guy in the room?"
Bobby closed the door.
Ross leaned towards her. "Look Eames, I'm gonna let you in on a little secret. There are a lot of people…a lot of people…who like you. Who really like you. I mean, are kind of obsessed with you. They would love to see you, uh, get a better, more complete performance review next year, do you know what I mean?"
"People like Goren, true. And you do make a great team. But there's no team without Eames and, god, his antics can get a bit tiresome, don't you agree?"
"No team without Eames," she repeated.
Ross leaned back, smiled magnanimously.
"Look, Eames. Let's just…let's forget about this review, okay?" Ross tore it in half and let it fall to the floor. "Clearly I was trying to rush things a bit. We're all going to be here next year, right? We have a whole new fresh and exciting year ahead of us. Let's make a deal. Let's…uh, for the 2008-2009 year, let's say you do your very best to speak up, to solve some cases, to get in the perps' faces, get involved in some more messy family or personal relationships. Yell some more! Punch a wall. I don't know."
Alex nodded. Yeah. Okay. Chew up some scenery, shoot an innocent bystander, develop an addiction.
"I can do that."
"I know you can! I have complete faith in you."
Bobby was waiting for her, nervous and twitchy, his review all but forgotten on his desk.
"What's going on? Are you leaving? I'll go fucking nuts if you leave, I swear! What did he say? What?"
Alex turned. She smiled at him. Then she swiped both arms across the top of his desk, sending books and mugs and papers and pens and paper clips crashing and tumbling to the floor.
Ross stood in his doorway and gave her two thumbs up.