Only the Lonely

Blinking heavily, Jim stared at a long blurry object at the end of his nose. Beside it was something skinny and shiny. Is that a pen? Taking a deep breath, he lifted his head, wondering what had woke him.

Dammit. Fell asleep at my desk. Again.

The last thing he remembered was clutching Jeff's backpack and Callie's drink. He was glad mother and son had reconciled, but Jim's own detachment from Callie had taken a toll on his emotions. Just when things were going so well, suddenly he had to back off.

And getting involved with another kinda-married woman... Not your best track record, Jimmy.

Speaking of which – Sam, who kept waving at him to join her on the dance floor. Was she staying? Was she going? At the moment, Jim was just tired from the runaround. Watching his friends enjoy their night made Jim smile. He would let Carlos have his weekend before telling him the news, and he hoped the rest of the station would too.

The drink in his hand was cold, and seemed to be freezing him from the inside out. Carefully placing the glass and the backpack on the nearest table, Jim made the decision to leave the party. Fade away, really.

Memories of last night ebbed away as he became more awake. An irritated voice brought him immediately to the here and now.

"Longworth?"

Colleen Manus waited for the bleary eyes to focus. Her detective was slowly working his way down her favorites list; an overworked officer was never a fun issue to deal with. She watched him try to look as though he hadn't planted his face on his desk from exhaustion.

"Yeah?" he finally answered around a yawn.

"What the hell are you doing here? It's a Saturday night." The FDLE Regional Director put a hand on her elegantly dressed hip.

"Just some paperwork. What are you–"

Immediately, Colleen shook her head, waving a finger. "Don't even go there. I'm here to pick up something I forgot, and it's a good thing too." She noticed he was still wearing the same, albeit rumpled, shirt as last night. Not that she minded; blonde-haired boys always looked nice in blue. But this was too far. The dark circles and pale features were enough to make her a little peturbed. "Go home, Jim. You have plenty of time to do that on Monday."

Frowning, Jim seemed to be thinking over the prospect of Monday. Carlos still didn't know about what happened, and neither of them could fathom how to tell him his protege actually killed someone. Jim passed a shaky hand over his face. "I'll be fine. But guess what? I've solved the La Costa case."

"Really?" Colleen allowed herself to show interest, since this case had been plaguing her office for nearly a year. "It was the brother, right?"

Jim usual smirk had morphed into a weary smile. "The nephew. He covered his tracks pretty well. You know, it's funny what happens when you're thinking about something else. I found out –"

Raising a hand to stall him, Colleen stepped further into his small office. "Tell me about it Monday. Right now, I want you to go home. Shower. Eat. Sleep. Have a beer. Something that doesn't have to do with this place or a case." The director leaned over his desk, hoping her plea sounded less like exasperation than desperation. She wasn't the only one who had noticed the detective slimming down over the last few months.

"Do I have to do it in that order?"

Making a swat at his hand, Colleen smiled despite herself. "Preferably, yes. As long as you get your ass out of here." She backed out of his office, shaking her head.

"You look really pretty. Where ya goin'?"

To her relief, Jim had followed her out, swinging his jacket over his shoulder. "Somewhere that'll make me forget about the next case for a while. Now go."

Tipping his head in acquiescence, Jim winked. "I saw that tall drink of water you brought to the party. Going out with him again?"

"Watch it, Longworth, or I'll make your next two days mandatory vacation." Tossing a grin over her shoulder, Colleen knew she'd struck a nerve. She also saw the file he had slipped under his arm. In one smooth move, she spun around, snatching it away, and tossed it on a nearby desk.

"Oh, you're good. Ever think about playing sports?"

Giving an enigmatic smile, she waved Jim through the door. "I know all your tricks." She waved a few of the evening shift, frowning when Jim came to a halt. "What now?"

"Carlos. I –"

"I'll handle it."

"But –"

"I. Will. Handle. It."

Sighing, Jim nodded; his relief was evident. He smiled at her determined glare, then shrugged into his jacket. "Thanks, Colleen."

She watched his slumped form shuffle to his car. "You need a ride? Because I can't have you ruin another car."

Laughing, Jim waved at her. "I"ll be fine! 'Night!"

"And I better not catch you in here tomorrow!"

oOoOo

The End.