Prepositions
Author: Clea Saal
Fandom: The Sentinel
Rating: 13+
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Prepositions

Ever since I was a kid I've always been fascinated by languages, by their nuances, though I wouldn't have used that word back then. I guess part of it comes from all the traveling I did with Naomi. Yes, I managed to learn a few languages along the way and yet I still found myself unable to communicate with those around me more times than I care to remember... maybe that's why I talk so much, because I never know when I'll get another chance. I know it drives Jim and Simon crazy but I really can't help it. Anyway, my obsession with languages was one of the main reasons why Jim and I got assigned to the latest case and it turned out to be far more trying than I could possibly have anticipated.

Little girls were being sold here in our great city --mostly Thai girls of Cambodian descent to be accurate-- and the youngest of them were barely six. The case had been bounced around from one department to the next for over a month, hitting one dead end after another and the girls just kept coming until finally the file landed on Simon's desk. Oddly enough at first Simon hadn't intended to have us take care of it, we were already dealing with two other high profile cases and it didn't seem like it was a case in which Jim's heightened senses were likely to be useful, but then I opened my mouth and he changed his mind.

The main obstacle others had encountered when working that case had been the language barrier. The perps were smart, making sure the girls never saw their faces, keeping quiet among strangers of Asian descent and having several layers of fall guys who had almost no useful information between themselves and any possible interested buyers. When Simon discovered that --having spent more than a year as a child traveling through south east Asia, with a great deal of that time spent in Thailand-- I actually speak Thai and even a few words of Khmer, he decided to reassign the other cases instead.

I can understand his reasoning. I don't look like a cop --in fact, as Simon keeps reminding me when he doesn't need me to go undercover, I'm not a cop-- and he felt that that gave me a better chance to pose as a prospective 'buyer'. It was a good idea, seeing how Asian gangs sometimes tend to get careless around foreigners, relying on the obscurity of their native languages as the best way to keep their secrets, but that doesn't change the fact that pulling it off turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I knew from the very beginning that I was basically the only person in the whole department who could go in without a wire, just keeping my ears and eyes open while Jim watched my back, but it was so different from my usual role. I'm usually bait, that I can handle, but to have to pretend to be a monster time and time again as I moved through the protective layers of fall guys, trying to get close to those responsible was a nightmare. To have to go through dozens of photos of naked little girls in pseudo-erotic poses, seeing their faces, choosing the ones I wanted to 'examine' personally was enough to make me almost literally sick but I knew I had to go on. I knew that was the girls' only hope so I did it, but all that pretending got to me and it never really eased up... not even at home.

While the case was unfolding I found myself juggling two performances and it wore me out. On the one hand I had to play the part of the pedophile, on the other I had to keep my sentinel from seeing how hard the whole thing was hitting me. I knew that had Jim known how bad it really was he would have insisted that I be pulled from the case and we couldn't afford it. For once I wasn't his backup, he was mine and I knew I couldn't blow it... and I couldn't really afford the questions either. That meant working all night at home and sleeping in my office so that Jim wouldn't hear me when I woke up screaming and it also meant not eating in his presence so that he wouldn't realize just how often I was unable to keep my food down... the problem is that I'm not sure how much I really managed to keep from him and now that the case is finally over he's gone into Blessed Protector overdrive.

For the past couple of days he's been shoving food down my throat in a way that would make a Jewish mother proud, he's determined to make sure I get eight hours of sleep a night, something I haven't done since... actually I don't think I've ever done it --hospital stays not withstanding-- and the fact is that the pressure of keeping up this whole charade is killing me. I did what had to be done, I have no regrets and because of that there are now almost a dozen creeps behind bars and over fifty girls are now safe... or at least they'll be safe until the INS decides to ship them back to Thailand and Cambodia, back to the parents who sold them for a few dollars in the first place or to overcrowded orphanages. I'm trying not to blame their parents --with trying being the key word here-- I've been there, I've seen how they live and I know how desperate their poverty can be --how at times their choice seems to be between selling their daughters or watching them starve before their eyes-- but still understanding their actions is hard.

The thing is that the case is officially over, the paperwork has been filed and the 'proper authorities' have taken over, trying to sort out the mess that was left behind but I can't convince my mind to quit. When I go to sleep I still see them and even worse I still see myself. I had a role to play, I had to play it convincingly and I did, I knew how... let's just say that a pedophile's behavior is something I had more than one opportunity to observe up close and personal as I was growing up.

It took me a long time to get over it --and I did-- but I still don't want Jim to know about it. It's not that I'm ashamed, it's just that I don't want him to treat me any different than he now does and I know he would. I don't want him to try and fix something that's not broken... I'm not broken but he would treat me as if I were. I know Naomi tried her best and I really don't blame her but with as many boyfriends as she had, as many communes as we lived in, the fact is that sometimes her best was not enough.

I've always been fascinated by the nuances of language, by how one little word can make all the difference in the world. I remember how when I was growing up some of the other kids were afraid of the monsters under their beds... me, I had enough worrying about the ones in mine.

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Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I don't own the concepts, I make no money, I make no sense and I get no sleep. This is done for fun and I promise to put the characters back where I found them once I'm done playing with them.


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