Production No. CVT502
Toni Rae, Karen
MEET THE CAST
Thursday, late afternoon
Ellison stormed into the bullpen tossing his coat onto his desk before collapsing into his chair. Eight and a half-hours of sitting in a courtroom did not a happy Sentinel make. Sitting there without his partner made it even worse, but this was the last case he had worked while Sandburg was at the academy. Now that the perp had copped a plea and wouldn't go to trial, Jim wouldn't have to sit through any more of these court dates without his partner.
Wondering where said partner was, Ellison reached out with his senses, trying to locate the young man. When that proved unsuccessful, he turned his attention to the stack of paperwork he had left on his desk for Sandburg to finish. The stack was barely touched, and the Sentinel felt his annoyance rise a notch. Before he could again attempt to locate his missing partner, a shadow fell across his desk and he looked up into the amused face of Henri Brown.
"Hey, Ellison, I wanted to be the first to congratulate you. You must be so proud of him; I mean first solo arrest and all." A carefully schooled face looked down at the seated detective. He continued to rant, laying it on as thick as he dared. "Damn, a bank robber at that -- our boy don't start out small, nope, not our Blair." Brown leaned back against the desk and waited for the reaction. It wasn't a long wait.
"WHAT!!!" Ellison shot to his feet and was in Brown's face before his chair hit the floor. "Brown, what the hell are you talking about? Sandburg's a rookie. He spent the day here, doing paperwork!"
Rafe chose that moment to join them, patting Ellison on the back and pointedly glancing at the large stack of paperwork on the desk. "Well, you know what they say -- the acorn doesn't fall far from the tree. Of course he's going to not wait for back up; he learned from the expert here."
Twice Jim opened his mouth, but no sound came out. In desperation he turned to Taggart who was at his desk, watching the exchange. Taggart didn't let Ellison's tormentors down. "You've got to look at it from his side, Jim. Today's payday for a lot of people, so that bank was pretty full. He probably didn't feel like he had a choice, after all he IS a cop now." Taggart turned his attention back to Brown. "Is there any word about Donaldson? I heard he went down. Man, he's got less than a year to go before retirement."
Brown cast a worried glance around the room. "I haven't heard, but his wife promised to call as soon as the doctor knew something."
The medic in Ellison recognized the symptoms of hyperventilation, but before he could force himself to calm down a familiar figure bounced through the doors of Major Crime.
"Sandburg!" Ellison pushed past the group crowded around his desk. "Blair, are you all right?" Not bothering to wait for an answer, he began to pat down the smaller man, looking for any sign of injury.
"What? WHAT?" Blair tried to make eye contact with his friend, but found it impossible while the near frantic Sentinel spun him from side to side as the exam continued. On his third complete turn, Sandburg saw the captain come through the door. "Simon, help!" Any further requests for assistance were muffled as strong hands grasped the young man's face.
"Are you hurt anywhere? What were you thinking of? Where in the hell was your back-up?" The flush of anger was evident on the detective's face, but his partner saw the fear in the ice blue eyes.
"Jim, man, I'm fine. What do you think..." The pieces fell into place and he turned on Ellison's tormentors. "Tell me you guys didn't do what I think you did?" The shuffling feet and guilt- ridden faces gave him his answer and Blair turned back to his partner. "Jim..."
"What if he'd had a gun? Are you really ready for that?"
"It was pink."
Seeing the incredulous look on his partner's face, Sandburg could not stop the grin that was creeping onto his own. "Yeah, man, I saw the gun. It was pink and it was plastic. I've been wet before, so I wasn't too worried about it. Of course, some of the bank tellers with their silk blouses might have disagreed."
Finally even the Sentinel began to smile. "Are you telling me that someone tried to hold up a bank with a water pistol? What about Donaldson?"
"Donaldson?" A second glance at his fellow officers reminded them of their most strict grade school teacher. "What did you three say?"
After three years, Brown and Rafe realized that they had been afraid of the wrong half of the partnership and quietly moved behind Taggart as he answered the bristling young man. "I think we sort of mentioned that he had been injured, but since we didn't know all of the details..."
"You let Jim assume the worst. Gee, thanks guys." Leaving them to ponder what he had said, Sandburg turned to the captain. "Simon, it's late and I'm taking Jim home. My report on the bank robbery is on your desk." He glanced back over at the culprits who were now looking quite chagrined.
Banks understood the silent question. "You go fill in your partner, I'll deal with the three stooges." At one glare from their captain, they scattered to their desks, and the paperwork they suddenly found so interesting.
Breathing easier, Ellison grabbed his jacket and followed Sandburg to the elevator. While they waited for the doors to open, he repeated his question. "What happened to Donaldson?"
The doors opened and Sandburg stepped in, followed by his partner. "He tore a ligament in his knee when he slipped in the whipping cream."
Banks listened for the explosion he was expecting. It didn't take long.
"He slipped in the WHAT?" The closing of the heavy steel doors muted whatever response came from the young man and allowed the captain to smile. Without a word, he turned and walked into his office to read the official account of what happened earlier that day.
"Come on Sandburg, start talking."
"Nope, not until after we eat." The argument had obviously been going on for some time when the two men entered the loft. Ellison set the cartons of Chinese food down on the table and turned back towards his partner.
"You said after we got home, Chief. We're home, so tell me what happened."
Blair walked into the kitchen to retrieve the plates and silverware needed for dinner. As he passed the refrigerator, he snagged a couple of beers. "I said after we had dinner I'd tell you all about it. Whining is so not attractive on you, Jim."
"I'm not whining, I'm commenting." At a raised eyebrow from his Guide, he rephrased that. "All right, I'm complaining. I can eat and listen at the same time, Sandburg."
With a grin, Sandburg handed over one of the bottles. "No, you can't."
Ellison almost choked on his first swallow of beer. "Are we back to cave-man references, Darwin?"
The younger man laughed and stepped back out of swatting distance. "All right, let me clarify that statement." Pointing at his own chest, he continued, "I can't talk about this and eat at the same time. I'll choke from laughing; therefore, we will not be talking about this until I am done eating, so you might as well enjoy your dinner, cause I sure am going to."
"We could reheat it." One glance at Sandburg changed his mind. "No, I guess not," he muttered as he began to dish out the Broccoli and Beef.
Simon Banks tossed the folder onto his desk as he stood to refill his coffee cup. Only Sandburg could walk into the middle of that. Rubbing the smirk off his face, he opened his door and ushered in the detectives waiting for him in the bullpen.
"Well, gentlemen, what do you have to say for yourselves?"
After several long minutes of throat clearing and shoe studying, Joel Taggart broke the silence. "Simon, all the uniforms, and half of the robbery division were talking about what happened. We didn't plan any of this, but when we realized that Jim hadn't heard about what had happened..."
Brown stepped in to take the brunt of it. "It was just too good to pass up. We're really sorry, sir."
"We didn't think it through." Rafe finally added his own comments as the three men waited for their captain's wrath.
"Didn't think it through?" Using every bit of his 6'4" height, Simon Banks towered over the three figures seated in front of him. "You're damn right, you didn't think it through. Do you know the biggest miscalculation that you made?"
Totally confused, the perpetrators glanced among themselves. Brown finally spoke up. "Umm, that would be...well, sir..."
Exasperated, Banks broke into the stuttered tirade. "You didn't let me in on it. How often does someone pull one over on Ellison? And you left me in the dark. Bad move, gentlemen. Now get out of here and go home." Not until after he had the Major Crime unit all to himself did Simon Banks give into the laughter he had been choking back since he first picked up Sandburg's report.
"Man, that was really good food, I'm glad we tried that new place tonight. Is there any more...?"
"No!" Ellison's answer was brief and to the point. "You've had three helpings of Kung Pao Chicken, two of Broccoli Beef, and two of Sweet and Sour Pork. You never eat Sweet and Sour Pork. If you eat any more you'll explode, so put down the chopsticks and start talking."
"Talking? Sure, I can do talking. Did you hear that the Jags are thinking about trading Jefferies for another power forward?"
"The bust, Chief. What happened on the bust?" Frustrated and at the end of his rope, Jim punctuated each word with a sharp shake of his chopsticks. He froze as a stray rice kernel landed on the tip of Sandburg's nose.
Blair never blinked, and never broke eye contact, as he flipped the offending kernel off his nose with a flick of his index finger. Finally, Jim started laughing; Blair joined him a few seconds later.
"Okay, buddy, tell me why you're trying to avoid this whole conversation. I get the feeling that if the mirth brothers hadn't spilled the beans, you never would have told me about today."
"You got that right."
Sandburg sighed and motioned towards the couch. With a nod, Ellison stood up and followed him. After they were settled, the younger man began to speak. "Jim, do you remember your first arrest? Not the ones you helped on, but your first solo take-down of a perp?"
"Sure." Sitting back, Ellison let the memories flow as he told the story. "Yeah, we were after this car theft ring, when the call came in about a theft in progress. It was the first day my training officer let me drive. Before it really sinks in, I'm in the middle of my first hot pursuit. The suspect rammed our car and put us both in the ditch. He took off running...I must have chased him a half a mile, but I caught him."
"You really remember it, don't you?"
"Yeah, I remember it, so?" The Sentinel was not sure where this was going.
"You remember your first arrest, kinda like your first love. In fact, the impression of it helps to mold what your fellow officers think of you for a long time, maybe your entire career."
"I don't think I'd go that far, Chief."
"Oh?" Sandburg stood up and began to pace. "You wrecked your first car in the line of duty. You didn't let anything get in the way of getting your arrest. After all these years, that still sounds like the Jim Ellison I know. Hell, the department garage has a separate 'Jim Ellison' budget. What did I do? I took out the 'Whipped Cream Bandit'. Half of the cops in the department already thought of me as some kind of joke and my first arrest is of the dumbest crook to ever hit Cascade. Heck, Donaldson slipped in the whipping cream because he was laughing so hard. Do you think this is going to make them take me any more seriously?"
"Oh, come on. It wasn't that bad."
"Jim, if the back-up hadn't been pulling into the parking lot, I'd have let the guy go with a warning that I'd tell Santa on him if he wasn't good from now on."
Choking on his beer, Ellison set the bottle down and turned to face his partner. "You're joking, right?" The look on Sandburg's face and the raised eyebrow told him that his Guide wasn't entirely jesting.
"Okay Sandburg, sit down and tell me the whole story."
With a sigh, the rookie detective plopped down on the sofa and began to fill in the details of his first arrest. "We're suppose to go to the Jag's game tomorrow straight from work, and I didn't want to get caught short of cash, so I decided to go to the bank on my lunch hour today, and..."
Earlier that day
"Hey Hairboy, since you're going out, you mind picking me up a sandwich at Vinnie's Deli? Pastrami on rye with a pickle." Brown's voice carried over the normal din of the bullpen.
Blair turned around just as he was reaching for the door. "I thought your wife packed you a lunch today, H."
Brown fingered the brown bag sitting on the corner of his desk. "Yeah, a nice, non-fat lunch. She's been getting recipes from Joel and his wife. I'm starving and I'm begging, Sandburg."
"Give it up, Henri." Rafe could be heard, but not seen as he chased the papers that the other man had knocked off his desk. After a moment he appeared out from under the desk, brushing the dust off his pant legs. "Your lady has been very vocal about what she will do to us if we are caught getting you food. You're on your own, my friend."
"Forget it, Brown. Besides," Blair paused and pulled a list out of his jacket pocket, "I've already got my quota of lunch orders for the day. Like the man said, you're on your own." Catching the faint ding of the elevator, Sandburg scooted out of Major Crime and into the elevator before the door closed.
As he walked to his car Sandburg shoved the list back into his pocket. Might as well do my errands first. Simon can't yell at me for being late if I'm stuck in line getting his cigars.
The line wasn't too long when Sandburg walked into the bank. With a nod to his favorite clerk, he stepped over to the counter and began filling out the necessary forms to make his withdrawal. The main door opened again, and an entering figure caught the new detective's attention.
Sandburg blinked and rubbed his eyes. The image in front of him remained. Tall, blond and blue eyed, he seemed to be a male in his early 30's. A layer of what appeared to be whipped cream covered any distinguishing features on his face. A note was grasped in his left hand and what appeared to be the butt end of a water pistol could be seen in his right coat pocket. Biting back his laughter, Sandburg slipped into the line in back of his robbery suspect. When the teller closest to them looked up and noticed the strange sight in the lobby, he winked his reassurance to her.
Blair bit down on his knuckle to keep from laughing out loud. Body heat was melting the would-be robbers disguise before he even reached the front of the line. Knowing the time was coming when he would have to do something about the situation, he reached into his shirt and pulled out his ID, making sure it was visible and hooked it securely on his pocket.
Without warning, the dripping young man stepped out of the line and walked up to the middle-aged teller whose customer was leaving. She looked up, startled as he reached into his coat and grabbed the gun hidden there. Leaving the water pistol hidden in the confines of the threadbare woolen coat, he began to wave it around and shout.
"I'm robbing the bank, everybody stay still." The lesser observant of the bank patrons finally noticed the robbery suspect and chaos broke out in the lobby just as flashing red and blue lights became visible through the windows. Rookie Detective, junior grade, Blair Sandburg had no choice but to respond.
"Cascade Police! You're under arrest!" His training kicked in and Sandburg snapped the handcuffs on his prisoner while reading him his rights. The uniformed officers rushed through the door and stopped, stunned, at the dripping and cuffed mess they were handed.
Back at the loft
By the time Sandburg finished telling the details of his first arrest Ellison was flat on the floor, arms wrapped around his torso, laughing uncontrollably.
"Come on, Jim, It wasn't that funny." His glare lasted all of five seconds before joining in his partner's laughter. "Oh hell, it was, wasn't it?"
Jim dragged himself back up onto the sofa, wiping the tears from his cheeks. "Yeah, buddy, it was. There's one thing I don't get, though. What kind of robber gets in the teller line and waits when he's wearing a disguise, and why did he get out of the line?"
"That's two things." Without a glance Sandburg ducked to miss the incoming pillow before he tried to answer the questions.
"He told us at the scene that it wasn't polite to cut in front of someone already in line. He was a very polite robber, all things considered." Blair rubbed at his face, trying to control his emotions as he told the rest to his hysterical Sentinel. "He said that he had to cut in line because otherwise, he would have missed the bus."
"Missed the bus?" Ellison stared, not quite believing where that statement led. "Are you saying that he was using a city bus as a getaway vehicle?"
"Yep." One glance at his partner's face sent the young man into his own wave of hysterics, his partner only seconds behind.