Production No. BPP-604
edited by: Deborah and Cassima
MEET THE CAST
Park Place Apartment Complex
Blair and Jim took up their positions outside the door, one man on either side of the opening. Observing the familiar tilt to Jim's head, Blair watched as his partner focused his hearing on what was occurring behind the closed door. He shifted his weight, holding his weapon at the ready, and awaited the go ahead signal.
Jim nodded at the apartment door, then pulled his weapon. "I can only hear one heartbeat, but watch yourself, Chief," Jim whispered, then he yelled, "Police, open the door!"
An arrest warrant had been issued for Robert Johnson. He was wanted for questioning concerning the murder of one woman and the attempted murder of a second. The crimes occurred during a simple break-in that had gone terribly wrong. His car had been spotted in the neighborhood the night the women were attacked in their apartment. He had a long record across several states that included breaking and entering, robbery, possession of stolen property, and assault, but nothing as serious as murder.
Again, Jim focused his hearing beyond the door in front of them. Hearing the suspect moving away from the door, he reacted on instinct, kicking the door in and taking off after the retreating suspect. Blair followed quickly in his partner's shadow, watching his back. Jim moved into the apartment's living room and started to head after the suspect down the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
The Sentinel suddenly paused at the sound of a trigger being pulled back. He dove for cover behind the couch, pulling his partner down with him. The suspect had taken cover and opened fire from the first bedroom down the hallway. Jim returned fire, instructing Blair, "Call for backup, Chief."
Blair nodded, pulling out his cell phone. After reporting the situation, he disconnected the phone. "Some things never change," Sandburg remarked sarcastically, in between exchanges of gunfire. ~bang, bang~ "Call for backup, Chief." ~bang bang, bang~ "Nice simple pickup, we shouldn't have a problem, Chief." ~bang, bang~ "Isn't that what you said, Jim?"
Jim simply glared at his partner in response as he changed the clip in his gun.
After several exchanges of rounds, Jim heard Johnson's gun click as it jammed. Johnson cursed as he dropped the gun to the floor and retreated to the back bedroom. Jim took the offensive by leaping over the back of the couch and attempting to cut off the suspect's escape route.
He managed to tackle the suspect halfway down the hall but couldn't keep him under control. The fight between the two men was an even match up. Robert Johnson had four inches and fifty pounds on Jim but lacked his military training, quickness and intelligence. The two men battled, one to escape, the other to detain.
Blair moved into position, close enough to take advantage of any opportunity to intervene without endangering his partner. As he watched the two men struggle, he was horrified to see the suspect manage to land a low blow and gain a slight advantage. Johnson leveled several punishing blows to Ellison's rib cage. Watching from the sidelines, Blair was unable to act in time to prevent his partner from being disabled. He could only watch as the suspect stomped on Jim's ankle and then landed one final blow in his solar plexus. Jim lost his grip on Johnson as the pain and the sudden lack of air in his lungs overwhelmed him.
With Jim off balance, the suspect had little difficulty shoving him into Blair, who went down underneath his partner's bulk. Without looking back, Johnson headed for the window in the bedroom where the fire escape was located.
Blair quickly got to his feet. He hesitated for a moment, not sure whether to pursue the suspect or aid his partner. Jim, noting Blair's indecision, managed to gasp out, "I'm OK. Go after him."
Jim didn't even attempt to get to his feet. He thought he had heard something pop when he was kicked. It was difficult to judge if there was any serious damage. First, he had to figure out how to get more air back in his lungs; then he could work on the dials, which were up way too high at the moment. Once his senses were back under control, he could check out the injury to his leg. Until he could do that, he knew it was better not to put any weight on it. Blair was the only one who could catch Johnson now.
Blair nodded and started for the back bedroom. Jim watched as his partner disappeared from view. He could hear the sirens and realized that backup was about a block away. Pulling his cell phone out of his jacket pocket, he informed dispatch that his partner was now pursuing the suspect on foot in the alley behind the building and gave the location.
Once he was sure that his Guide would have backup shortly, he had time to check out the ankle. Remembering the mental exercises his partner had been teaching him for the last few years, he attempted to relax and take a deep breath. Oops, wrong move. He had forgotten for a moment about what had happened to his ribs. He winced at the pain and succeeded in turning the dial down a notch. After a few minutes, he was able to examine his ankle with his fingertips. He didn't find anything obviously broken, but the ankle was definitely swelling and turning a bright shade of purple.
He moved back to lean against the hallway wall. Blair was on his own for now, but Jim wasn't too concerned. He had complete faith in his partner; he had meant every word he had said that day in the hospital, after the now infamous press conference. His Guide was a good cop.
Jim stared at the swollen ankle, frustrated that it prevented him from backing up his partner. He knew Blair would make him go to the emergency room as soon as he caught up with Johnson. Not in the mood to fight the inevitable, Jim called dispatch back and requested an ambulance for himself. Better to let an expert diagnose the damage now.
As Blair reached the bottom of the fire escape, he could see Johnson heading for the far end of the alley. Johnson was about ten feet from the street when Sandburg realized he was not going to be able to catch him before he reached the main street. Blair knew that if Johnson reached the busy street, it would be impossible to take him down without endangering innocent bystanders. It would be better to stop him from ever reaching the street.
Noticing several hubcaps lying against the wall of the alley in front of him, he picked one up and, with a flick of his wrist, flipped it like a Frisbee at the fleeing felon. The hubcap caught Johnson on the back of his right leg, causing him to stumble to his hands and knees.
He quickly covered the distance to the downed man. "Freeze! Police! Don't move," yelled Sandburg, pulling out his weapon to cover the suspect. "There's nowhere for you to run. Hands over your head. Get down on the ground," Sandburg ordered in a very deep authoritative voice. He watched the suspect carefully for any motion that would indicate the presence of concealed weapons.
Johnson thought for a moment about rushing the much smaller man, but was quickly dissuaded when two of Cascade PD's blue and silver police units pulled up and blocked the mouth of the alley. Realizing he was outnumbered and outgunned, Johnson laid down flat on the ground, hands outstretched.
The uniforms approached the suspect from the mouth of the alley. Blair recognized Douglas Roberts immediately, but he didn't recognize the other officer. "I could use a little help over here," Blair called.
Blair kept his weapon trained on the suspect as Doug proceeded to search and then cuff Johnson. Listening as they read him his rights, he heard Johnson acknowledge that he understood them. As the officers picked him up off the ground, Johnson turned, attempting to pull away from the uniformed officers to get to Sandburg. Leaning over, he managed to get his face a foot away from his target. As they pulled him away, he sneered angrily at Sandburg. "You little runt! You'll regret this. I would have gotten away clean if it wasn't for you. I'll make you pay for getting in my way."
Blair answered quietly under his breath as he put away his firearm, "The guy can't even make an original threat; 'you'll regret this', yadda, yadda, yadda. He's not even scary. I've been threatened with much worse, even by my own partner."
Doug laughed as he overheard the quiet comment, making Johnson even angrier. Blair followed the uniforms back to the patrol units and watched as Johnson was loaded into the back of Doug's unit
Roberts paused after the suspect was secured before entering the driver's seat. "Nice job, Blair. How did you do it? This guy is almost twice your size, not to mention he already took out that big bad partner of yours. I figured we'd have to scrape you off the sidewalk."
"I tripped him with a flying hubcap," Blair explained sheepishly.
"A flying hubcap?" Doug started laughing again, leaning against the patrol car. "Oh, wow, I wish I had gotten here in time to see that move."
"Yeah, a flying hubcap," Blair answered, imitating the previous act.
Doug just shook his head. "No one back at the station is going to believe this, he muttered under his breath as he climbed into the unit and pulled away from the curb.
Sandburg watched until the unit was out of sight before turning back to the apartment and his injured partner.
As Blair headed back toward the apartment complex, he observed the ambulance attendants wheeling the gurney holding his partner out the front door of the building. Blair hurried to the back of the ambulance. Ellison was wide-awake and alert, his ankle immobilized and packed in ice.
"Sandburg, are you OK? Did you get him?" Jim asked worriedly as he watched his partner approach. Blair rolled his eyes as his Blessed Protector used his senses to scan him for any signs of injury.
"I'm fine. Not a mark on me and yeah, I got him. Doug Roberts is taking him to the station as we speak. How are you doing?"
"Everything's under control, Chief. If you don't mind, I want you to stick around here until forensics is done. You remember the list of stolen property from the robbery, right?"
Blair nodded, "Yeah, I have it in my notebook."
"Good. See if Johnson was dumb enough to keep anything at his place. I really like that little old lady and I promised we would find whoever killed her sister. I want Johnson nailed. Here, take the truck," Jim said, as he tossed his keys to Blair. "When you're done here cleaning up this mess, meet me at the hospital. I should be ready to go home by then."
"You're letting me drive the truck? Be still my heart," Blair smirked, placing his hand over his heart. Looking at the paramedics, he asked, "Hey guys, did you check him for head injuries? He's obviously not himself if he's letting me drive his truck."
"Watch it, Sandburg. I just don't want the truck sitting overnight parked in this neighborhood. It would be stripped before morning. Your driving skills are the lesser of two evils. You just remember, get one single scratch, ding or dent on my truck and first it's coming out of your hide, then your paycheck," Jim ordered, pointing his finger at his partner with every word.
Blair waved off the threats with a rude gesture and a quirky grin. "Yeah, yeah. I know, Dad. I'll be careful. Now, you remember to behave for the nice doctors and nurses or I'll have to ground you."
"Funny, Chief. Quite the comedian, isn't he?" Jim said to the paramedics who were attempting and failing miserably to hide wide grins. They loaded the gurney into the back of the ambulance and pulled away, lights flashing but without the siren. Blair smiled, it was nice not to hear the siren, which was only used when the injuries were life threatening. Blair entered the apartment building to finish mopping up the scene with the arriving forensics team. He just can't help himself. Blair thought. He always puts the needs of the tribe before his own, including small children, little old ladies and his Guide.
It was almost three hours before Blair was able to leave the scene and get to the hospital. He entered the emergency room, heading straight for the admitting nurse's counter.
"He's in Cubicle #3, Blair," the nurse behind the desk called to him, waving him down the hallway. She had been working in the hospital emergency room longer than he had been alive. She had been on duty when Blair had been admitted after Jim rescued him from Lash, and on several other occasions when either Blair or Jim had been admitted for treatment. She was very fond of the two men who obviously had no difficulty demonstrating how much they cared for each other.
Blair smiled and waved his thanks to the nurse. She was old enough to be his grandmother, but he liked to flirt with her anyway. She said it made her day, having a 'younger' man flirt with her. Blair headed straight for the hallway leading to the emergency room cubicles. Pulling back one corner of the curtain on Cubicle #3, he saw his partner, eyes closed and resting comfortably under a blanket. Even though the blanket covered it, the injured ankle was obviously already heavily bandaged. Entering quietly so he wouldn't disturb his partner, Blair headed for the stool sitting on one side of the gurney.
Opening one eye, Jim mumbled, "Hey, Chief. How did it go at the scene?"
"Sorry, Jim. Didn't mean to wake you. If he did do it, Johnson has covered his tracks pretty good. We didn't find any sign of the stolen property. So what's the good news?" Blair asked softly.
"Two bruised ribs and one slightly sprained ankle. I was lucky. A few weeks in a light support brace and I'll be as good as new. I'm on light duty for the rest of the week."
Blair grinned and nodded at the good news. "So are they going to spring you soon?"
Jim nodded. "Just waiting for the paperwork, then we can go. I told the doctor you'd be here soon. He just went to get it. I didn't think there was any hurry. I figured you'd be flirting with Nurse Campbell for at least twenty minutes before you would remember I was back here. What happened?"
"I had to know you were really okay. Now that I've seen you with my own eyes, I'll go flirt while you finish getting dressed---unless you want a helping hand or an audience?" Blair asked with a smirk. "I'm sure I can find some volunteers"
"No, thank you Romeo. I can handle this. You go flirt with the ladies." Jim tilted his head to one side. Recognizing the sound of his Captain's voice in the waiting room, he smiled. "Simon's here."
Blair stepped out into the hallway and waved at the Captain. "We're over here, Sir."
Simon turned away from the admitting counter with a nod of thanks to the nurse. He headed for his friends, an unlit cigar hanging from his mouth. "Sandburg, I didn't realize you were hurt too. Shouldn't you be lying down?" Simon asked with a hidden wink toward Jim, placing a hand on Blair's shoulder.
"I wasn't hurt. Jim was," replied Blair with a puzzled tone, glancing from Jim to the Captain.
"You just called me 'Sir'. You never call me 'Sir'. I figured you were suffering from a head injury," Simon answered. With a pat to Blair's cheek and a sarcastic grin as he entered the cubicle, leaving a stunned Blair standing out in the hallway. "How are you doing, Jim?"
"Fine, just waiting for the release paperwork, Sir." Jim noticed that Blair had recovered from Simon's sudden and uncharacteristic attack of humor and was now standing silently at the foot of the gurney, probably plotting his revenge. Jim hoped he would be around to watch.
Simon nodded at Ellison, then glared at his newest detective. "Sandburg, I heard all about your arrest of Johnson in that alley. Roberts couldn't stop laughing about it back at the station. The story made it to the seventh floor in less than ten minutes. I can't believe you did that!"
"What?" Blair asked, waving his arms. "What did I do wrong now?"
Simon answered in a huff, using his cigar as a pointer, "A HUBCAP! One of the city's biggest, most dangerous criminals, who had just finished taking out big, bad Ellison, and you take him down with a HUBCAP?"
"So? It worked, didn't it? Never argue with success, Simon. Haven't you learned that yet? Besides, he was twice my size. It wasn't like I could have taken him on, one on one. Backup hadn't gotten there yet. What did you want me to do, let him get away?"
"Unbelievable," Simon sputtered, shaking his head. "Just unbelievable." Rubbing his hand across his face, he added, "Sandburg, I need your report first thing tomorrow morning. In the meantime, go home and take care of Ellison. That's punishment enough."
"Hey!" Jim exclaimed, followed by an indignant sigh.
"I'll see you both in the morning," Simon said as he exited the cubicle. Jim could hear him muttering to himself as he stomped down the hallway: "That kid gives me more gray hairs than my own kid. I swear, one of these days, but damn, I wish I could have seen him take that guy down with an old hubcap. What will he think of next?"
Jim heard the frustration in their Captain's voice, then stared at his partner, unable to truly comprehend how Sandburg had managed to arrest Johnson using only a hubcap. Blair simply grinned, waggled his eyebrows, and shrugged his shoulders at his friend.
Blair entered the loft first, dropping the keys into the basket. Turning to his partner, he suggested, "Why don't you go rest on the couch for a while? I'll make us something to eat."
"Nah, I'm fine," Jim answered as Blair shut and locked the door behind him.
Not really hearing Jim's response, he headed into the kitchen. "Do you want something to drink?" Blair asked as he dropped Jim's prescriptions on the counter.
Jim limped over to the couch to sit down. Breaking his own house rules, he propped his injured leg on the coffee table. Picking up the remote, he surfed the channels until he found an old John Wayne western. Catching a glimpse of the time, he looked over at his partner, who was rummaging through the cabinets. "Chief, it's almost 5:30. Don't you think you'd better get going?"
Looking confused, Blair asked, "Where should I be going?"
Exasperated, Jim rolled his eyes and answered, "It's Thursday: Orvelle, the gym, the Junior Jags, remember?"
Since Jim was out of reach, Blair smacked himself on the head, smiled and answered, "Oh, yeah. I forgot."
Several Months Previous
Jim and Blair entered the supermarket, shaking off the raindrops. "Come on, Chief. Let's do this quick. I hate shopping," Jim said as he noticed that Blair had become distracted. One of the advertisements on the bulletin board just inside the door had caught Blair's attention. It was a flyer from the local boys and girls club that wanted responsible adults to coach basketball at the neighborhood club.
Jim read the flyer over Blair's shoulder.
"It says 'responsible'. Guess that leaves you out, Chief," Jim laughed, slapping Blair on the back.
"Funny, very funny, Jim," answered Blair sourly as he continued to look at the flyer.
Jim paused for a moment and then, as he realized Blair was really interested in this, added, "Sorry, Chief. You miss being around kids. You miss teaching every day, don't you?" Jim asked softly, feeling more than a little guilty about the 'responsible' crack.
"Sometimes," Blair answered absently, still eyeing the flyer. At the bottom of the flyer was the contact name. Blair was surprised to see Orvelle Wallace's name.
"You'd be good at this. You can play ball and you're great with kids. Why don't you give him a call, Chief?"
"I don't think so. This flyer is two weeks old. It's probably too late." Blair's words belied the obviously interested tone of voice.
"So, what have you got to lose? The only way you're gonna find out is if you call him," Jim said, raising his eyebrows encouragingly.
"And I haven't spoken to him since before that mess at Rainier. I'm sure he's heard all about it. That incident sure doesn't help my reputation as a responsible adult."
Jim was saddened by the realization that Blair felt too ashamed to face his childhood hero because of the press conference. During the last year and a half, Blair had handled several confrontations concerning the fallout after that episode, usually with a joke and a smart-ass comment. As Jim reviewed the people involved in the previous confrontations, he realized that their opinions hadn't really matter to Blair. On the other hand, Orvelle's opinion was very important to Blair. Jim hoped Orvelle would remember that it was Blair who had believed in him when everyone else-- including Jim-- had believed him guilty of murder. Several of Blair's University friends had stood by him throughout the entire incident concerning his dissertation. They had kept in touch, providing some much-needed support during the months after the press conference. Jim believed Orvelle would also be supportive of his friend. Now all he had to do was convince Blair of that idea. "Blair, if you really want to do this, give him a call. The worst he can say is no."
"That's not the worst he could say," Blair answered with a sad face. Stuffing the flyer into his pocket, he added, "I'll think about it."
Jim knew better than to press his friend any further right now. Blair needed time to sort out his feelings.
Jim watched as Blair paced the floor between the kitchen and the balcony doors for the nineteenth time since they'd gotten home from shopping. Jim was really regretting that 'responsible' crack he had made at the store. At the time, he didn't think Blair would take it so seriously. On the drive home, Jim had tried to encourage Blair to make the call. He had done his best to come up with the right words. Now, as he watched the twentieth pass, he wondered what else he could say. As much as Jim wanted to make the call for Blair, this was a decision Sandburg had to make for himself.
On the twenty-first trip made towards the kitchen, he watched his friend pause. His mind finally made up, Blair headed for the phone and dialed a number.
"Hello, Orvelle Wallace? This is Blair Sandburg," Blair's nervousness was obvious in his voice.
"Hey, Blair. How's it going? It's nice to hear from you. I haven't talked to you since before you left Rainier."
"I know. I've been real busy," Blair answered nervously. "Hey, I saw the flyer down at the supermarket and wondered if you still needed extra coaches?" Blair asked hesitantly, getting right to the point. Jim could hear the expectation of disappointment in his voice. With a silent apology for what he was about to do, Jim turned up the dial on his hearing so he could hear Wallace's response.
"I'm sorry, Blair. All the teams have been assigned coaches "
"Damn," thought Jim angrily, wondering if Wallace had any unpaid parking tickets.
"Sorry to have bothered you," Blair interrupted and started to hang up the phone.
"Blair, wait, don't hang up. Let me clarify. We picked the teams and started to practice last week. We only filled the number of teams that I had coaches already signed up to handle. So I don't need any more coaches, but I do still need assistants. That would involve helping out during practice and keeping track of the score, player fouls and the subbing of players during the games. Not quite as exciting as being the coach I know, but would you be interested in doing that? In fact, I'm coaching the boys fourteen and under group and you could help me out with my team. My assistant had to quit because of too many conflicts with his work schedule."
Blair grinned. "That would be great. I'd love to. Maybe I should mention that I work full- time for the police department now. I may have some scheduling conflicts, too. We've asked Cascade's criminals to operate on a 9-to-5 basis only, but they refuse to cooperate."
Orvelle continued, laughing, "Don't worry about that, Blair. That is why we have a head coach and an assistant coach. We have practice every Tuesday and Thursday night at 6:00 during the rest of September. In addition, there are several practice games that are scheduled to be played on weekends starting in October and the citywide tournament is being held in the beginning of November. We need to finish up before the school season starts. How's that sound to you?"
"Sounds great. I'll see you at practice tomorrow night. And Orvelle thanks."
"Thank you, Blair. It's hard to get volunteers for these kids. Nobody wants to commit his or her time these days. I'll see you tomorrow and introduce you to the team. They are a really good group of kids. I think you'll enjoy this. I know you'll be great with the kids."
Blair hung up the phone. When he turned to his partner, he had the biggest grin on his face that Jim could remember since before the press conference. If Wallace had any unpaid parking tickets, they were history as soon as Jim got to work in the morning.
At the Loft
"I can't believe I forgot what day it was," mumbled Blair under his breath as he headed to his bedroom to change into gym clothes, yelling to Jim an instant later from his room, "What about dinner?"
Jim could hear clothes being tossed onto the floor and dresser drawers being opened and slammed shut. He started to chuckle as he heard Blair's mutterings about the location of his misplaced sneakers.
"Chief, don't worry about dinner. I'm not really hungry right now. Go to practice. I'll call Carmen's and you can pick up the pizza on your way home. We'll have dinner fashionably late tonight. And your sneakers are by the door."
"Thanks, man," Blair answered exiting his bedroom. "Are you sure you can wait that long for dinner, Jim? I won't be home till almost 8:00 PM."
"No problem," Jim answered absently, the majority of his attention focused on the TV.
"Make my half of the pizza veggie this time, okay, Jim? Not that Meat Lover's Supreme you like. And don't forget the extra order of breadsticks this time. I'm tired of fighting you for my fair share."
"Eat faster, Junior. You snooze, you lose the breadsticks."
Blair stopped by the kitchen on his way to the door. "Are you sure you don't want anything to eat or drink before I go?" Blair asked as he opened the door of the refrigerator and grabbed a couple of bottles of water to take with him to practice.
"I'm fine, MOTHER. Get going. You're gonna be late," Jim grinned as his partner ran past him, grabbing his keys.
"OK, OK, I get the message. Take it easy, I won't be late. It only takes ten minutes to get there." Blair took one final look around the apartment before opening the front door. "I'm outta here," Blair waved, then closed the door to the loft and headed down the stairs rather than wait for the elevator.
Jim listened as Hurricane Blair flew down the stairs and out to his car. Once he heard Sandburg's car pull out into the street, he turned his attention back to the television. He thought about how excited Blair was about helping out Orvelle coaching the team. The past couple of months had been great for his buddy's attitude. He really enjoyed working with the kids at the club. He actually started bouncing when he talked about the players, like he used to do when he talked about his students or some new artifact. It had been a long time since Jim could recall Blair having the energy or the inclination to bounce. It was great to see that again.
Jim had attended a few of the practices himself when Orvelle had been unable to make it. Jim had also enjoyed being around the kids. As a cop, he saw the worst of what society had to offer. When he had worked with these kids, he was reminded that there were a lot of good, decent, hardworking people out there. He had a little more faith now in the next generation.
During the next commercial break, he called Carmen's and placed the order for an eight o'clock pickup. He stretched out on the couch and focused on the movie, determined to watch the final showdown.